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perable idleness, which accompanies me through life, which not only prevents me from doing what I ought, but likewise from enjoying my greatest pleasure, where any thing is to be done, has hitherto prevented me from writing; but if I obtain your pardon this time, I will for the future mend my manners, and try, by one act at least, to be worthy of that friendship which you have honoured me with. I need not assure you that I most earnestly wish to visit you this summer in Ireland; nothing but lady Di's illness shall prevent me. I have been but once at the club since you left England; we were entertained, as usual, by Dr. Goldsmith's absurdity. Mr. V-* can give you an account of it. Sir Joshua Reynolds intends painting your picture over again, so you may set your heart at rest again for some time; it is true it will last so much the longer, but then you may wait these ten years for it. Elmsley gave me a commission from you about Mr. Walpole's frames for prints, which is perfectly unintelligible: I wish you would explain it, and it shall be punctually executed. The Duke of Northumberland has promised me a pair of his new pheasants for you; but you must wait till all the crowned heads in Europe have been served first. I have been at the review at Portsmouth. If you had seen it, you would have owned that it is a pleasant thing to be a king. It is true made a job of the claret to- -> —, who furnished the tables with vinegar under that denomination. Charles Fox said, that lord Sandwich should have been impeached: what an abominable world do we live in, that there should not be above half a dozen honest men in it, and that one of those should live in Ireland. You will, perhaps, be shocked at the small portion of honesty that I allot to your country; but a sixth part is as much as comes to its share;— and, for any thing I know to the contrary, the other five may be in Ireland too, for I am sure I do not know where else to find them. Your philanthropy engages you to think well of the greatest part of mankind; but every year, every hour adds to my misanthropy, and I have had a pretty considerable share of it for some years past. Leave your parliament and your nation to shift for itself, and consecrate that time to your friends, which you spend in endeavouring to promote the interest of half a million of scoundrels. Since as Pope says
Life can little else supply
Than just to look about us, and to die;
Agmondisham Vesey, Esq. of Lucan, near Dublin.
do not let us lose the moment that we have, but let us enjoy all that can be enjoyed in this world, the pleasures of a true uninterrupted friendship. Let us leave this island of fog and iniquity, and sail to purer regions not yet corrupted by European manners. It is true you must leave behind you Marino and your medals; but you will likewise leave behind you the Ss and R-lys of this place. I know you will say, you can do all this without flying to the other poles, by shunning the society of such wretches; but what avails it to me that you are the very man I could wish, when I am separated from you by sea and land? If you will quit Marino,* and sail with me, I will fly from Almacks, though whatever evil I may have suffered from my connexion with that place, I shall always with gratitude remember that there I first began my acquaintance with you; and, in the sincerity of truth, I can say that I would rather have such a friend as you, even at three hundred miles distance, than both the houses of parliament for my friends in London.- -I find when I have once begun to converse with you, I cannot leave off; you have spoiled me, my lord, and must take the consequences. Why should fortune have placed our paltry concerns in two different islands? If we could keep them, they are not worth one hour's conversation at Elmsley's. If life is good for any thing, it is only made so by the society of those we love. At all events, I shall try to come to Ireland, and shall take no excuse from you for not coming early in the winter to London. The club exists but by your presence; the flourishing of learned men is the glory of the state. Mr. Vesey will tell you, that our club consists of the greatest men in the world; consequently you see there is a good and patriotic reason for you to return to England in the winter. Pray make my best respects to lady Charlemont, and Miss Hickman, and tell them I wish they were at this moment sitting at the door of our alehouse in Gerard-street.
Believe me to be, my dear lord,
With the utmost sincerity,
* His lordship's beautiful seat near Dublin,
† Elmsley, the bookseller in London.
MY DEAR LORD,
Adelphi, November 20, 1773.
I delayed writing to you, as I had flattered myself that I should have been able to have paid you a visit at Dublin before this time; but I have been prevented, not by my own negligence and indolence, but by various matters.—I am rejoiced to find by your letter that lady C. is as you wish. I have yet remaining so much benevolence to mankind, as to wish that there may be a son of yours, educated by you, as a specimen of what mankind ought to be.Goldsmith the other day put a paragraph in the newspapers in praise of lord mayor Townshend. The same night we happened to sit next to lord Shelburne at Drury-lane: I mentioned the circumstance of the paragraph to him; he said to Goldsmith, that he hoped he had mentioned nothing of Malagrida in it. "Do you know," answered Goldsmith, "that I never could conceive the reason why they call you Malgrida, for Malgrida was a very good man."* You see plainly what he meant to say; but that happy turn of expression is peculiar to himself.-Mr. Walpole says that this story is a picture of Goldsmith's whole life.- -Johnson has been confined some weeks in the isle of Sky; we hear that he was obliged to swim over to the main land, taking hold of a cow's tail. Be that as it may, lady Dit has promised to take a drawing of it. Our poor club is in a miserable decay; unless you come and relieve it, it will certainly expire. Would you imagine, that sir Joshua Reynolds is extremely anxious to be a member of Almack's? You see what noble ambition will make a man attempt. That den is not yet opened, consequently I have not yet been there; so, for the present I am clear upon that score. I suppose your confounded Irish politics take up your whole attention at present. If they could but have obtained the absentee tax, the Irish parliament would have been perfect. They would have voted themselves out of parliament, and lessened their estates one half of their value:
It is almost superfluous to remark, that this is the anecdote so often mentioned of Goldsmith.
† Lady Diana Beauclerk, wife to Mr. Beauclerk, and daughter to Charles late duke of Marlborough; eminent for her exquisite taste and skill in painting. Lord Charlemont has often mentioned to me (Hardy) that sir Joshua Reynolds frequently declared to him, that many of her ladyship's drawings might be studied as models.
this is patriotism with a vengeance!I have heard nothing of your peacock's eggs. The duke of Northumberland tells me, that if they are put into tallow or butter they will never hatch. I mention this to you, as worthy of your notice.-Mr. Walpole has promised me to send you a drawing of his frames, but he has been so much engaged with lord Orford's affairs that he has probably forgot it. There is nothing new in the literary world. Mr. Jones* of our club is going to publish an account in Latin of the eastern poetry, with extracts, translated verbatim, in verse. I will order Elmsly to send it to you when it comes out: I fancy it will be a very pretty book. Goldsmith has written a prologue for Mrs. Yates, which she spoke this evening before the opera. It is very good. You will see it soon in all the newspapers, otherwise I would send it to you. I hope to hear, in your next letter, that you have fixed your time for returning to England. We cannot do without you. If you do not come here, I will bring all the club over to Ireland, live with you, and that will drive you here in your own defence. Johnson shall spoil your books, Goldsmith pull your flowers, and Boswell talk to you;-stay then if you can. Adieu, my dear lord: pray make my respects to lady Charlemont.
Believe me to be, very sincerely
MY DEAR LORD,
and affectionately, yours
Inclosed I send you the drawings of Mr. Walpole's frames, which I did not receive till last night. I hope you received a letter from me some time ago, I mention this that I may not appear worse than I am, and likewise to hint to you that, when you receive this, you will be two letters in my debt. I hope your parliament has finished all its absurdities, and that you will be at leisure to come over here to attend to your club, where you will do much more good than all the patriots in the world ever did to any body, viz. you will make very many of your friends extremely happy, and you know Goldsmith has informed us, that no form of government ever contributed either to the happiness or misery of any one. -I saw a letter from Foote, with an account of an Irish tragedy; the subject is Manlius, and the last speech which he makes when he is pushed off from the Tarpeian rock, is "SWEET
* Sir William Jones.
JESUS, WHERE AM I GOING?" Pray send me word if this is true.— We have a new comedy here, which is good for nothing; bad as it is, however, it succeeds very well, and has almost killed Goldsmith with envy.* I have no news, either literary or political, to send you. Every body, except myself, and about a million of vulgars, are in the country. I am closely confined, as lady Di expects to be so every hour.
I am, my dear lord,
Very sincerely and affectionately yours,
WAS, at her first setting out in the world, a plebeian of the lowest rank, and sold oranges at the playhouse. Some affirm that she was born in a night cellar; certain it is, that she rambled from tavern to tavern, entertaining the company with her songs. As early as the year 1667, she was admitted in the theatre-royal, and was mistress to Hart, to Lacy, and to Buckhurst. She became eminent in her profession as an actress, and performed the most spirited parts with admirable address. The pert prattle of the orange wench by degrees refined into a wit, which pleased Charles the Second. She ingratiated herself into her sovereign's affections, in which she retained a place to the time of her death. Dryden was very partial to her, and greatly assisted her in her rise at the theatre; in return, when possessed of the power, she distinguished the poet by particular marks of gratitude. Many benevolent actions are recorded of her; and perhaps she was the only one of the king's mistresses who was never guilty of any infidelity towards him. It is ludicrous, perhaps, but it is nevertheless true, that Madam Gwynn (for so she was latterly called) piqued herself upon her attachment to the church of England. She was low in stature and careless of her dress; but her pictures represent her as handsome. She died in 1687.
This must have been "The School for Wives," by Hugh Kelly; for on looking into the stage history of the year 1773, we find that comedy was the only new one that was very well received; and Goldsmith's aversion to Kelly stands recorded in his character of Garrick, in the poem of Retaliation.
Ed. Mirror of Taste.