« ForrigeFortsett »
Leon. How blest and unexpected! What, what can we say to such goodness? But our future obedience shall be the best reply. And as for this gentleman, to whom we
Sir Wm. Excuse me, Sir, if I interrupt your thanks, as I have here an interest that calls me.-(Turning to HONEYwood). Yes, Sir, you are surprised to see me: and I own that a desire of correcting your follies led me hither. I saw with indignation the errors of a mind that only sought applause from others; that easiness of disposition which, though inclined to the right, had not courage to condemn the wrong. I saw with regret those splendid errors, that still took name from some neighbouring duty; your charity, that was but injustice; your benevolence, that was but weakness; and your friendship, but credulity. I saw with regret great talents and extensive learning only employed to add sprightliness to error, and increase your perplexities. I saw your mind with a thousand natural charms; but the greatness of its beauty served only to heighten my pity for its prostitution.
Honey. Cease to upbraid me, Sir: I have for some time but too strongly felt the justice of your reproaches. But there is one way still left me. Yes, Sir, I have determined this very hour to quit for ever a place where I have made myself the voluntary slave of all, and to seek among strangers that fortitude which may give strength to the mind, and marshal all its dissipated virtues. Yet ere I depart, permit me to solicit favour for this gentleman; who, notwithstanding what has happened, has laid me under the most signal obligations. Mr. Lofty
LOFTY. Mr. Honeywood, I'm resolved upon a reformation as well as you. I now begin to find that the man who first invented the art of speaking truth, was a much cunninger fellow than I thought him. And to prove that I
design to speak truth for the future, I must now assure you, that you owe your late enlargement to another; as, upon my soul, I had no hand in the matter. So now, if any
of the company has a mind for preferment, he may take my place; I'm determined to resign.
[Exit. HONEY. How have I been deceived !
Sir Wm. No, Sir, you have been obliged to a kinder, fairer friend, for that favour-To Miss Richland. Would she complete our joy, and make the man she has honoured by her friendship happy in her love, I should then forget all, and be as blest as the welfare of my dearest kinsman can make me.
Miss Rich. After what is past it would be but affectation to pretend to indifference. Yes, I will own an attachment, which I find was more than friendship. And if my entreaties cannot alter his resolution to quit the country, I will even try
[Giving her hand. HONEY. Heavens! how can I have deserved all this? How express my happiness, my gratitude ? A moment like this overpays an age of apprehension.
Cro. Well, now I see content in every face; but Heaven send we be all better this day three months !
Sir WM. Henceforth, nephew, learn to respect yourself. He who seeks only for applause from without, has all his happiness in another's keeping.
Honey. Yes, Sir, I now too plainly perceive my errors; my vanity, in attempting to please all by fearing to offend any ; my meanness, in approving folly lest fools should disapprove. Henceforth, therefore, it shall be my study to reserve my pity for real distress; my friendship for true merit; and my love for her, who first taught me what it is to be happy. (1)
(1) (For the Epilogue, see p. 131.]
[The first representation of this comedy took place at Covent Garden Theatre, on the 15th of March 1773; between which and the conclusion of the season,
of holidays and benefits, no more than twelve nights, including three for the author, remained to the managers : these, however, were occupied by the new comedy, and the house closed with it on the 31st of May. The leading incident of the piece, the mistaking a gentleman's house for an inn, is said to have been borrowed from a blunder of the author himself, while travelling to school at Edgeworthstown. “It is remarkable enough,” says Sir Walter Scott, in his Biographical Notices of Goldsmith, “ that we ourselves are acquainted with another instance of the kind, which took place, however, in the middle rank of life.” Speaking of “She Stoops to Conquer,” Dr. Johnson said, “ I know of no play, for many years, that has answered so much the great end of comedy-making an audience merry."-See Life, ch. xxii.]
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
DEAR SIR, By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety.
I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this performance. The undertaking a comedy, not merely sentimental, was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its various stages, always thought it so.(1) However, I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.
I am, dear Sir,
Your most sincere friend and admirer,
(1) [A few days before the first representation, Dr. Johnson wrote thus to a friend :-“ Goldsmith has a new comedy in rehearsal at Covent Garden, to which the manager predicts ill-success. I hope he will be mistaken. I think it deserves a very kind reception.” Speaking on the same subject, in 1778, he said, “ Both Goldsmith's comedies were once refused : his first by Garrick, his second by Colman, who was prevailed on at last by much solicitation, nay, a kind of force, to bring it on."-- See Boswell, vol. iii. p. 241.]