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that he himself had once worn the comic sock as "Scrub " in The Beaux' Stratagem; and it is clear that soon after he arrived in England, he had completed a tragedy, for he read it in manuscript to a friend. That he had been besides an acute and observant playgoer, is plain from his excellent account in The Bee of Mademoiselle Clairon, whom he had seen at Paris, and from his sensible notes in the same periodical on "gestic lore" as exhibited on the English stage. In his Polite Learning in Europe, he had followed up Ralph's Case of Authors by Profession, by protesting against the despotism of managers, and the unenlightened but economical policy of producing only the works of deceased playwrights; and he was equally opposed to the growing tendency on the part of the public-a tendency dating from Richardson and the French comédie larmoyante-to substitute sham sensibility and superficial refinement for that humorous delineation of manners, which, with all their errors of morality and taste, had been the chief aim of Congreve and his contemporaries. To the fact that what was now known as "genteel comedy" had almost wholly supplanted this elder and better manner, must be attributed his deferred entry upon a field so obviously adapted to his gifts. But when, in 1766, the Clandestine Marriage of Garrick and Colman, with its evergreen "Lord Ogleby," seemed to herald a return to the side of laughter as opposed to that of tears, he took heart of grace, and, calling to mind something of the old inconsiderate benevolence which had been the Goldsmith family-failing, set about his first comedy, The Good-Natur'd Man.

Even without experiment, no one could have known better than Goldsmith, upon what a sea of troubles he had embarked. Those obstacles which, more than thirty years before, had been so graphically described in Fielding's Pasquin,-which Goldsmith himself had indicated with equal accuracy in his earliest book, still lay in the way of all dramatic purpose, and he was to avoid none of them. When he submitted his completed work to Garrick, the all-powerful actor, who liked neither piece nor author, blew hot and cold so long, that Goldsmith

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at last, in despair, transferred it to Colman. But, as if fate was inexorable, Colman, after accepting it effusively, also grew dilatory, and ultimately entered into a tacit league with Garrick not to produce it at Covent Garden until his former rival had brought out at Drury Lane a comedy by Goldsmith's countryman, Hugh Kelly, a sentimentalist of the first water. Upon the heels of the enthusiastic reception which Garrick's administrative tact secured for the superfine imbroglios of False Delicacy, came limping The Good-Natur'd Man of Goldsmith, wet-blanketed beforehand by a sententious prologue from Johnson. No début could have been less favourable. Until it was finally saved in the fourth act by the excellent art of Shuter, its fate hung trembling in the balance, and even then one of its scenes-not afterwards reckoned the worst-had to be withdrawn in deference to the delicate scruples of an audience which could not suffer such inferior beings as bailiffs to come between the wind and its gentility. Yet, in spite of all these disadvantages, The Good-Natur'd Man obtained a hearing, besides bringing its author about five hundred pounds, a sum far larger than anything he had ever made by poetry or fiction.

That the superior success of False Delicacy, with its mincing morality and jumble of inadequate motive, was wholly temporary and accidental, is evident from the fact that, to use a felicitous phrase, it has now to be disinterred in order to be discussed. But, notwithstanding one's instinctive sympathy for Goldsmith in his struggles with the managers, it is not equally clear that, everything considered, The Good-Natur'd Man was unfairly treated by the public. Because Kelly's play was praised too much, it by no means follows that Goldsmith's play was praised too little. With all the advantage of its author's reputation, it has never since passed into the répertoire, and, if it had something of the freshness of a first effort, it had also its inexperience. The chief character, Honeywood-the weak and amiable " goodnatur'd man"-never stands very firmly on his feet, and the first actor, Garrick's promising young rival, Powell,


failed, or disdained to make it a stage creation. On the other hand, "Croaker," an admitted elaboration of Johnson's sketch of "Suspirius" in the Rambler, is a first-rate comic character, and the charlatan "Lofty," a sort of "Beau Tibbs above-Stairs," is almost as good. But, as Garrick's keen eye saw, to have a second male figure of greater importance than the central personage was a serious error of judgment, added to which neither "Miss Richland" nor "Mrs. Croaker" ever establish any hold upon the audience. Last of all, the plot, such as it is, cannot be described as either particularly ingenious or particularly novel. In another way, the merit of the piece is, however, incontestable. It is written with all the perspicuous grace of Goldsmith's easy pen, and, in the absence of stage-craft, sparkles with neat and effective epigrams. One of these may be mentioned as illustrating the writer's curious (perhaps unconscious) habit of repeating ideas which had pleased him. He had quoted in his Polite Learning the exquisitely rhythmical close of Sir William Temple's prose essay on Poetry," and in The Bee it still seems to haunt him. In The Good-Natur'd Man he has absorbed it altogether, for he places it, without inverted commas, in the lips of Croaker.

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But, if its lack of constructive power and its errors of conception make it impossible to regard The GoodNatur'd Man as a substantial gain to humorous drama, it was undoubtedly a formidable attack upon that "mawkish drab of spurious breed," Sentimental Comedy, and its success was amply sufficient to justify a second trial. That Goldsmith did not forthwith make this renewed effort must be attributed partly to the recollection of his difficulties in getting his first play produced, partly to the fact that, his dramatic gains exhausted, he was almost immediately involved in a sequence of laborious taskwork. Still, he had never abandoned his ambition to restore humour and character to the stage; and as time went on, the sense of his past discouragements grew fainter, while the success of The Deserted Village increased his importance as an author.





Sentimentalism, in the meantime, had still a majority. Kelly, it is true, was now no longer to be feared. His sudden good fortune had swept him into the ranks of the party-writers, with the result that the damning of his next play, A Word to the Wise, had been exaggerated into a political necessity. But the school which he represented had been recruited by a much abler man, Richard Cumberland, and it was probably the favourable h reception of Cumberland's West Indian that stimulated Goldsmith into striking one more blow for legitimate comedy. At all events, in the autumn of the year in it which The West Indian was produced, he is hard at n work in the lanes at Hendon and Edgware, "studying jests with a most tragical countenance" for a successor to The Good-Natur'd Man.


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To the modern spectator of She Stoops to Conquer, with its unflagging humour and bustling action, it must seem almost inconceivable that its stage qualities can ever have been questioned. Yet questioned they undoubtedly were, and Goldsmith was spared none of his former humiliations. Even from the outset, all was against him. His differences with Garrick had long been adjusted, and of the Drury Lane manager would now probably have accepted a new play from his pen, especially as that rs astute observer had already detected signs of a reaction in the public taste. But Goldsmith was morally bound us to Colman and Covent Garden; and Colman, in whose on hands he placed his manuscript, proved even more discal heartening and unmanageable than Garrick had been in fy the past. Before he had come to his decision, the close ke of 1772 had arrived. Early in the following year, under ne the irritation of suspense and suggested amendments ay combined, Goldsmith hastily transferred his proposal to ns Garrick; but, by Johnson's advice, as hastily withdrew a it. Only by the express interposition of Johnson was er Colman at last induced to make a distinct promise to er bring out the play at a specific date. To believe in it, he st could not be persuaded, and his contagious anticipations The of its failure passed insensibly to the actors, who, one r. after the other, shuffled out of their parts. Even over the

epilogue there were vexatious disputes, and when at last, in March, 1773, She Stoops to Conquer was acted, its jeune premier had previously held no more exalted position than that of ground-harlequin, while one of its most prominent characters had simply been a post-boy in The Good-Natur'd Man. But once fairly upon the boards neither lukewarm actors nor an adverse manager had any further influence over it, and the doubts of everyone vanished in the uninterrupted applause of the audience. When, a few days later, it was printed with a grateful dedication to its best friend, Johnson, the world already knew the certainty that a fresh masterpiece had been added to the roll of English Dramatic Literature, and that "genteel comedy" had received a decisive blow.

The effect of this blow, it must be admitted, had been aided not a little by the appearance, only a week or two earlier, of Foote's clever puppet-show of The Handsome Housemaid; or, Piety in Pattens, which was openly directed at Kelly and his following. But ridicule by itself, without some sample of a worthier substitute, could not have sufficed to displace a persistent fashion. This timely antidote She Stoops to Conquer, in the most unmistakable way, afforded. From end to end of the piece there is not a sickly or a maudlin word. Even Sheridan, writing The Rivals two years later, thought it politic to insert "Faulkland" and "Julia" for the benefit of the sentimentalists. Goldsmith made no such concession, and his wholesome hearty merriment put to flight the Comedy of Tears,-even as the Coquecigrues vanished before the large-lunged laugh of Pantagruel. If, as Johnson feared, his plot bordered slightly upon farceand of what good comedy may this not be said ?-at least it can be urged that its most farcical incident, the mistaking of a gentleman's house for an inn, had really happened, since it had happened to the writer himself. But the superfine objections of Walpole and his friends are now ancient history,-history so ancient that it is scarcely credited, while Goldsmith's manly assertion (after Fielding) of the author's right "to stoop among the low to copy nature," has been ratified by successive genera

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