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reproduction in ours ; and, save with theatrical erthusiasts, have not taken rank as dramatic literature. They had, notwithstanding, at least this in their favour, that their tone was far less objectionable than that of their more gifted forerunners “ of the last age;

" and the stage they filled, if scarcely as brilliant, was certainly cleaner than the stage of the dramatists of the Caro

line era.

One of the causes which, towards the middle of the Eighteenth Century, tended to impoverish the repertory of the theatre was the sudden birth and growth of the Novel. Not only did it convert spectators into readers; but the sentiment of Richardson leavened and coloured the labours of the native playwrights, already sobered by the sermonising of Steele, and controlled by the restrictions of the Licensing Act which, in 1737, followed Fielding's Historical Register. Passing then across the Channel, the new fashion of fiction helped, in the more congenial soil of France, to develop the drame sérieux or comédie bourgeoise which had been inaugurated by that Préjugé à la mode of Nivelle de la Chaussée, afterwards transplanted to England as Murphy's Way to Keep Him. Under the influence of Pamela and Clarissa, the drame sérieux, modified and extended by La Chaussée himself, and then by Diderot and Sedaine, became the comédie mixte, and finally the comédie larmoyante, from which last genre comic situation had virtually disappeared, while the object aimed at was the commending of goodness and virtue rather than the ridicule of vice and folly. Under the title of or genteel,” or “ sentimental” comedy, this epoch in our theatrical annals, is generally admitted. The great Comic Dramatists of the Restoration had passed away, and with them had gone their atmosphere and environment. Those who succeeded to them were inferior artists, working under different conditions, for a different public. The genius of Steele, whose sense of humour was as keen as his perception of character, was not fundamentally dramatic, and he was hampered, moreover, by his genuine and praiseworthy desire to “ moralise his song” in accordance with the precepts of the Nonjuror, Jeremy Collier, - a desire which, if it prospered in one way, was fated to failure in another. Fielding, who followed, with greater genius and a richer endowment of invention, ruined himself by his reckless return to the old ". wit-traps” of Wycherley and Congreve, as well as by his prodigal dispersal, over a dozen hasty and hand-to-mouth performances, of powers which, discreetly combined and controlled, might have crystallised into masterpieces; and his most durable efforts are his mock-heroic burlesques, and his imitations of Regnard and Molière. After these two, either in time or merit, and it is sufficient here to speak of Comedy alone,- come the Cibbers, the Murphys, the Footes, the Colmans, the Macklins, the Garricks, — all of whom produced acting plays which achieved a fugitive popularity. But Murphy's Upholsterer, 1758; Foote's Minor, 1760 ; Colman's Jealous Wife, 1761 ; Macklin's Man of the World, 176481, and the rest, however applauded in their own day, have not found more than timid and tentative

1 First acted as The True-born Scotchman.

1758, appeared his first book, a translation of the Memoirs of Jean Marteilhe of Bergerac, a Protestant who had been “ condemned to the Galleys of France for his religion.” But he was soon back again at Peckham, waiting vaguely for a medical appointment to a factory at Coromandel, which he did not obtain. Finally he was rejected at Surgeons' Hall in December, 1758, as “ not qualified for a [ship’s] hospital mate. At this period he was living miserably in a little court off Ludgate Hill, and writing a high-sounding Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe. The Enquiry was published in April, 1759, with some success. From October to November in the same year, he issued The Bee, a miscellaneous collection of papers in prose and

This brought him to the notice of Smollett ; of John Newbery, the bookseller ; and (in all probability) of Johnson. Smollett enlisted him for the British Magazine; and for Newbery's Public Ledger he began, in January, 1760, the series of Chinese Letters afterwards collected (1762) as the Citizen of the World. In May, 1761, he was visited by Johnson at the new lodgings into which he had moved at 6 Wine Office Court, Fleet Street.

Henceforth his record is one of hack-work interspersed with masterpieces. He edited the Lady's Magazine, for which he wrote Memoirs of Voltaire; he also wrote a History of Mecklenburgh, 1762 ; a Life of Nash, 1762 ; and a History of England (in letters), 1764. In Decem

ber, 1764, appeared his famous poem, The Traveller, and in the following year, his Essays. To these, in

verse.

1766, succeeded his solitary novel, the Vicar of Wakefield. Two years subsequently, after a fresh course of compilations, he produced at Covent Garden Theatre (29 January, 1768) his comedy of the Good Natur'd Man, of which the success was sufficient to justify him in moving to rooms at 2 Brick Court, Middle Temple. Escaping again from historical drudgery, he issued a second poem, The Deserted Village (26 May, 1770); and, in rather less than three years more, he crowned his achievements with the comedy of She Stoops to Conquer, produced at Covent Garden, 15 March, 1773. This next year he died at Brick Court, 4 April, 1774, and was buried five days later in the burial ground of the Temple Church. In 1776 a monument, with a medallion by Joseph Nollekens, was erected to his memory by the Literary Club, in the south transept of Westminster Abbey. The epitaph, by Johnson, contains the famous “ Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit.After Goldsmith's death were published his poems of Retaliation (1774), the Haunch of Venison (1776), and some other minor pieces. In 1801, Bishop Percy brought out a four volume edition of his Miscellaneous Works, with a Memoir which constitutes the first source of his biography. An elaborate Life followed in 1837 by Mr. (afterwards Sir James) Prior. But this was practically superseded in 1848 by the more authoritative record of John Forster. A delightful summary of Forster's book was prepared in 1849 by Washington Irving, and there are other and more recent memoirs.

Jntroduction

When, at the beginning of 1756, Oliver Goldsmith returned from those desultory wanderings on the Continent with which he had been completing an undesigned apprenticeship to authorcraft, it is manifest that, even at the age of seven and twenty, he was still ignorant of his true vocation, since it was only after he had unsuccessfully essayed seyeral other callings that he finally drifted into literature. But it is worthy of note that he seems to have been early attracted to the stage. There is a popular rumour, that, very soon after his arrival in England, he figured as a stroller ; and it has been suspected, from hints he dropped in later life, that at some time he had actually enacted that multifarious part of “Scrub” in Farquhar's Beaux' Stratagem which fascinated even the brilliant Fanny Abington. The Adventures of a Strolling Player in the British Magazine suggest personal experiences, and again with Farquhar, as the rôle taken by Goldsmith's shabby hero is that of Sir Harry Wildair in the Constant Couple. Then the account of George Primrose in the Vicar has also its theatrical episodes ; and George Primrose has always been more or less identified with Goldsmith himself. Lastly, there is a fairly authenticated story that, when he was employed as corrector of the press to Richardson, he had gone so far as to compose a tragedy. He called one morning upon an Edinburgh

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