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proud or vain of? The Traveller is a flimsy poem, built upon false principles; principles diametrically opposite to liberty. What is the Good-natured Man but a poor water-gruel, dramatic dose? What is the Deserted Village but a pretty poem of easy numbers, without fancy, dignity, genius, or fire ? And pray what may be the last speaking panto. mime, so much praised by the Doctor himself, but an incoherent piece of stuff, the figure of a woman, with a fish's tail, without plot, incilent, or intrigue? We are made to laugh at stale, dull jokes, wherein we mistake pleasantry for wit, and grimace for hus mour ; wherein
every scene is unnatural, and inconsistent with the rules, the laws of nature and of the drama, viz. two gentlemen come to a man of fortune's house, eat, drink, sleep, &c. and take it for an inn. The one is intended as a lover to the daughter; he talks with her for some hours, and when he sees her again in a different dress, he treats her as a bar-girl, and swears she squinted. He abuses the master of the house, and threatens to kick him out of his own doors. The squire, whom we are told is to be a fool, proves to be the most sensible being of the piece; and he makes out a whole act by bidding his mother lie close behind a bush, persuading her, that his father, her own husband, is a highwayman, and that he is come to cut
their throats ; and to give his cousin an opportunity to go off, he drives his mother over hedges, ditches, and through ponds. There is not, sweet sucking Johnson, a natural stroke in the whole play, but the young fellow giving the stolen jewels to the mother, supposing her to be the landlady. That Mr. Colman did no justice to this piece, I honestly allow; that he told all his friends that it would be damned, I positively aver; and from such ungenerous insinuations, without a dramatic merit, it rose to public notice; and it is now the ton to go to see it, though I never saw a person, that either liked it or approved it, any more than the absurd plot of Home's tragedy of Alonzo. Mr. Goldsmith, correct your arrogance, reduce your vanity, and endeavour to believe, as a man, you are of the plainest sort, and as an author, but a mortal piece of mediocrity.
“ Prisez le miroir infidele,
The illiberality of this epistle will be apparent to every reader. Dr. Goldsmith, immediately on its appearance, went to the publisher's house, and, after having argued on the malignity of this un
merited attack on his character, he applied his cane about his shoulders with all his might; the publisher, however, thought it necessary to stand in his own defence. It is not easy to say when or how this combat would have ended, had not Dr. Kenrick, who was sitting in a private room, stepped forward and parted them. Dr. Kenrick was said to be the author of this severe attack on the Doctor's character ; but other proofs of the malignity of this man's heart might easily be produced.
After this rencontre, several paragraphs appeared in the newspapers, severely censuring Dr. Goldsmith for beating a man in his own house. In consequence of this, on the 31st of March 1773, he published the following address in the Daily Advertiser :
“ Lest it should be supposed, that I have been willing to correct in others an abuse, of which I have been guilty myself, I beg leave to declare, that in all my life I never wrote, or dictated, a single paragraph, letter, or essay, in a newspaper, except a few moral
under the character of a Chinese, about ten years ago, in the Ledger; and a letter, to which I signed my naine, in the St. James's
Chronicle. If the liberty of the press therefore has been abused, I have had no hand in it.
“ I have always considered the press as the protector of our freedom, as a watchful guardian, capable of uniting the weak against the encroachments of power. What concerns the public most properly admits of a public discussion. But of late, the press has turned from defending public interest, to making inroads upon private life ; from combating the strong, to overwhelming the feeble. No condition is now too obscure for its abuse, and the protector is become the tyrant of the people. In this manner the freedom of the press is beginning to sow the seeds of its own dissolution; the great must oppose it from principle, and the weak from fear; till at last every rank of mankind shall be found to give up its benefits, content with security from its insults.
“ How to put a stop to this licentiousness, by which all are indiscriminately abused, and by which vice consequently escapes in the general censure, I am unable to tell : all I could wish is, that, as the law gives us no protection against the injury, so it should give calumniators no shelter after having provoked correction. The insults which we receive before the public, by being more open, are the
more distressing ; by treating them with silent contempt, we do not pay a sufficient deference to the opinion of the world. By recurring to legal redress, we too often expose the weakness of the law, which only serves to increase our mortification by failing to relieve us. In short, every man should singly consider himself as a guardian of the liberty of the press, and, as far as his influence can extend, should endeavour to prevent its licentiousness becoming at last the
of its freedom.
66 Oliver GOLDSMITH."
In 1772 was performed at Covent-Garden theatre, for the benefit of Mr. Quick, The Grumbler, a farce, altered from Sedley. This was the last of our author's theatrical pieces : its success was not very flattering; for it was acted no more than
once, and has never appeared in print.
It is certain that the Doctor might, with a little attention to prudence and economy, have placed himself in a state above want and dependance. He is said to have acquired, in one year, one thousand eight hundred pounds; and the advantages arising from his writings were very considerable for many years before his death. But these were rendered useless by an improvident liberality, which prevented