Page images

which hinted, I imagine, at some public transactions, of not dealing in poisonous drugs.

She Stoops to Conquer, notwithstanding many improbabili-, ties in the economy of the plot, several farcical situations, and some characters which are rather exaggerated, is a lively and faithful representation of nature; genius presides over every scene of this play; the characters are either new, or varied improvements from other plays.

Marlow has a slight resemblance of Charles in the Fop'3 Fortune, and something more of Lord Hardy in Steele's Funeral ; and yet, with a few shades of these parts, he is discriminated from both. Tony Lumpkin is a vigorous improvement of Humphry Gubbins, and a most diverting portrait of ignorance, rusticity, low cunning, and obstinacy.

Hardcastle, his wife and daughter, I think, are absolutely new; the language is easy and characteristical; the manners of the times are slightly, but faithfully, represented ; the satire is not ostentatiously displayed, but incidentally involved in the business of the play; and the suspense of the audience is artfully kept up to the last. This comedy was very well acted. Hardcastle and Tony Lumpkin were supported in a masterly style by Shuter and Quick; so was Miss Hardcastle by Mrs. Bulkley. Mrs. Green, in Mrs. Hardcastle, maintained her just title to one of the best comic actresses of the age.

Though the money gained by this play amounted to a considerable sum, more especially so to a man who had been educated in straits and trained in adversity, yet his necessities soon became as craving as ever : to relieve them, he undertook a new History of Greece, and a book of animals, called The History of Animated Nature. The first was to him an easy task; but, as he was entirely unacquainted with the world of animals, his friends were anxious for the success of his undertaking. Notwithstanding his utter ignorance of the subject, he has compiled one of the pleasantest and most instructive books in our language; I mean, that it is not only useful to young minds, but entertaining to those who under: stand the animal creation.

Every thing of Goldsmith seems to bear the magical touch of an enchanter; no man took less pains, and yet produced so powerful an effect: the great beauty of his composition consists in a clear, copious, and expressive style

Goldsmith's last work was his poem called Retaliation, which the historiau of his life says was written for his own amusement, and that of his friends, who were the subject of it. That he did not live to finish it is to be lamented, for it is supposed he would have introduced more characters. What he has left is so perfect in its kind, that it stands not need of a revisal.

In no part of his works has this author discovered a more nice and critical discernment, or a more perfect knowledge of human nature, than in this poem; with wonderful art he has traced all the leading features of his several portraits, and given with truth the characteristical peculiarities of each: no man is lampooned, and no man is flattered.

The occasion, we are told, to which we owe this admirable poem, was a circumstance of festivity. The literary society to which he belonged proposed to write epitaphs on the Doctor. Mr. Garrick, one of the members, wrote the following fable of Jupiter and Mercury, to provoke Goldsmith to a retaliation.



HERE, Hermes, says Jove, who with nectar was mellow,
Go fetch me some clay, I will make an odd fellow.
Right and wrong shall be jumbled, much gold and some dross;
Without cause be he pleas’d, without cause be he cross :
Be sure as I work to throw in contradictions;
A great lover of truth, yet a mind turn d to fictions.
Now mix these ingredients, which, warm'd in the baking,
Turn to learning and gaming, religion and raking.
With the love of a wench, let his writings be chaste;
Tip his tongue with strange matter, his pen with fine taste.
That the rake and the poet o’er all may prevail,
Set fire to his head, and set fire to his tail.
For the joy of each sex on the world I'll bestow it,
This scholar, rake, Christian, dupe, gamester, and poet.

Though a mixture so odd, he shall merit great fame,
And among brother mortals be Goldsmith his name.
When on earth this strange meteor no more shall appear,
You, Hermes, shall fetch him to make us sport here.

There never was surely a more finished picture, at full length, given to the world, than this warm character of the incomprehensible and heterogeneous Doctor.

And here Doctor Goldsmith's portrait of Mr. Garrick will be introduced with propriety.

Here lies David Garrick. Describe


An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man.
As an actor, confess'd without rival to shine;
As a wit, if not first, in the very first line;
Yet, with talents like these, and an excellent heart,
The man had his failings, a dupe to his art.
Like an ill-judging beauty, his colours he spread,
And beplaster'd with rouge his own natural red.
On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting;
'Twas only that, when he was off, he was acting.
With no reason on earth to go out of his way,
He turn’d and he varied full ten times a day:
Though secure of our hearts, yet confoundedly sick,
If they were not his own by finessing and trick.
He cast off his friends, as a huntsman his pack;
For he knew, when he pleas’d, he could whistle them back.
of praise a mere glutton, he swallow'd what came,
And the puff of a dunce he mistook it for fame;
Till his relish grown callous, almost to disease,
Who pepper'd the highest was surest to please.
But let us be candid, and speak out our mind;
If dunces applauded, he paid them in kind.
Ye Kenricks, ye Kellys, and Woodfalls so grave,
What a commerce was yours,

while you got and you gave! How did Grub-street re-echo the shouts that you rais'd, While he was be-Roscius'd and you were beprais'd! But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies, To act as an angel, and mix with the skies. Those poets who owe their best fame to his skill, Shall still be his flatterers, go where he will; Old Shakespeare receive him with praise and with love, And Beaumonts and Bens be his Kellys above.

The sum of all that can be said for and against Mr. Garrick, some people think, may be found in these lines of Goldsmith. That the person upon which they were written was displeased with some strokes of this character may be gathered from the following lines, which Mr. Garrick wrote on the Retaliation, soon after it had en produced to the society.

Are these the choice dishes the Doctor has sent us?
Is this the great poet whose works so content us?
This Goldsmith's fine feast, who has written fine books?
Heaven sends us good meat, but the devil sends cooks.

Candour must own that Mr. Garrick, in his verses on Gold. smith, was gentle in describing the subject, as well as delicate in the choice of his expressions, but that Garrick’s features in the Retaliation are somewhat exaggerated.

Not long before his death, he had formed a design of publishing an Encyclopedia, or a Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, a prospectus of which he printed and sent to his friends, many of whom had promised to furnish him with articles on different subjects; and amongst the rest Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Garrick. His expectations from any new-conceived projects were generally very sanguine; but from so extensive a plan his hopes of gain had lifted up his thoughts to an extraordinary height.

The booksellers, notwithstanding they had a very good opinion of his abilities, yet were startled at the bulk, importance, and expense of so great an undertaking, the fate of which was to depend upon the industry of a man with whose indolence of temper and method of procrastination they had long been acquainted. The coldness with which they met his proposal was lamented by the Doctor to the hour of his death, which seems to have been accelerated by a neglect of his health, occasioned by continual vexation of mind, arising from his involved circumstances. Death, I really believe, was welcome to a man of his great sensibility.

The chief materials which compose Goldsmith's character are before the reader; but, as I have with great freedom exposed his faults, I should not have dwelt so minutely upon them, if I had not been conscious, that, upon a just balance of his good and bad qualities, the former would far outweigh the latter.

Goldsmith was so sincere a man that he could not conceal what was uppermost in his mind. So far from desiring to appear in the eye of the world to the best advantage, he took more pains to be esteemed worse than he was, than others do to appear better than they are.

His envy was so childish, and so absurd, that it was easily pardoned, for everybody laughed at it; and no man was ever very mischievous whose errors excited mirth: he never formed any scheme, or joined in any combination, to hurt any man living.

His inviting persons to condemn Mr. Home's tragedy, at first sight wears an ill face; but this was a transient thought of a giddy man, who, upon the least check, would have immediately renounced it, and as heartily joined with a party to support the piece he had before devoted to destruction. It cannot be controverted that he was but a bad economist, nor in the least acquainted with that punctuality which regular people exact. He was more generous than just; like honest Charles, in the School for Scandal, he could not, for the soul of him, make justice keep pace with generosity. His disposition of mind was tender and compassionate; no unhappy person ever sued to him for relief without obtaining it, if he had any thing to give, and, rather than not relieve the distressed, he would borrow. The poor woman with whom he had lodged during his obscurity several years in Green Arbour Court, by his death lost an excellent friend; for the Doctor often supplied her with food from his table, and visited her frequently with the sole purpose to be kind to her. He had his dislike, as most men have, to particular people, but unmixed with rancour. He, least of all mankind, approved Baretti's conversation ; he considered him as an insolent, overbearing foreigner; as Baretti, in his turn, thought him an unpolished man, and an absurd companion : but when this unhappy Italian was charged with murder, and afterwards sent by Sir John Fielding to Newgate, Goldsmith opened his purse, and

« EelmineJätka »