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" A cup oftea^ Sir" said she
Painted by B. Wesley Rand

of €nglanb

Peg Woffington

Volume II.

Written by

J. Fitzgerald M o 1 1 o y

The Grolier Society


Limited to One Thousand Copies



Goldsmith in London — Physician, Usher, and Hack Writer

— the Monthly Review — In Green Court Arbour —
Beginning the World at Thirty-one — Letters to His
Friends in Ireland — The Great City by Night — John-
son's Garret — Drinking Tea with Mrs. Williams — The
Great Mr. Richardson I


Charles Macklin and His Tavern — The British Inquisition

— Foote's Most Excellent Wit — Macklin's Pupils —
Foote as an Actor — The Diversions of the Morning —
Drinking a Dish of Chocolate with the Wit — His
Mimicry — Young Tate Wilkinson and Peg Woffington

— Her Anger and Resentment — The Mimic Mimicked —
Wilkinson, Foote, and Garrick — A Night at Drury
Lane — The Mirror at Covent Garden — Rich, Foote,
Garrick, and Wilkinson ....... 30


Spranger Barry — His Debut in Dublin — Arrival in Lon-
don — His Personal Beauty and Sweetness of Voice

— Plays at Drury Lane — His Personation of Othello —
Dissatisfied with Garrick — Goes to Covent Garden —
The Rival Romeos — The Rival Juliets — Excitement of



the Town — Tragedies Produced by Garrick — Monsieur
Jean Noverre — The Chinese Festival — George II. at
the Playhouse — His Impressions of Richard III. — Riot
at Drury Lane 74


Peg Woffington's Last Years at Covent Garden — Her
Famous Characters — The Comedy of " The Careless
Husband " — Introduction of a Scene from Real Life —
Its Sparkling Dialogue — Its Plot and Characters — Peg
Woffington as Lady Betty Modish — Opinion of an
Anonymous Critic — Her Last Night — Cibber, Quin,
Barry, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, and Lady Coventry
— The Curtain Descends upon Peg Wofi&ngton's Life . loi

Verses Dedicated to Peg Woffington . . . 133


The Raftor Family — Kitty Introduced to the Stage —
Engaged by Cibber — Her Success in "Love in a
Riddle" — Her Ballad Singing — Great Fiasco of the
Piece — Her Marriage to Mr. Clive 167


Struggle with Mrs. Cibber for the Part of " Polly " — How
the Town Amused Itself with Their Contentions — The
Revolt against Manager Highmore ; " Kitty's " Straight-
forward Behaviour — The Praises of Fielding and Others
— Separates from Mr. Clive ; Visits Dublin . . . 186


Revolt against Fleetwood, Headed by Garrick — Mrs. Clive
Joins the Deserters — Her " Appeal to the Town " . . 203




Mrs. Clive Engaged by Garrick — Her Style of Acting
Described — Disappearance of "the Chambermaid" as
a Character — Breadth of Acting — Her Quarrels with
" Peg " Woffington — " Scenes " between the Ladies De-
scribed — Quarrels with Woodward — with Garrick —
Amantiiim IrcB . . . . . . . . .217


" Lady Riot " — Specimens of Bow China — Dispute with
Garrick — Foote as Othello, and Clive as Portia —
" Bayes in Petticoats " — The " Rosciad " — Lady Bab

— The Clandestine Marriage 238


Continued Wranglings with Garrick — Correspondence —
111 Spelling — " Quaviling " — Fined for Absence —
" Acting a Gridiron " — Doctor Johnson — Retirement
from the Stage 251


Twickenham — Little Strawberry Hill — " Jemmy Raftor "

— Friendship with Walpole — Miss Pope . . . 269


Battle with " the Taxes " — Letter to Miss Pope — Colman

— Last Letter to Garrick — Mr. Cole — Story of a Foot-
man — Death of Mrs. Clive 282



" A CUP OF TEA, SIR ? " . . . . Frontispiecc

Portrait of Peg Woffington , ... 40

Mrs. Garrick (Violette) 50


Kitty Clive 163

The Greenroom Scuffle 229

" Little Strawberry Hill " .... 250



Goldsmith in London — Physician, Usher, and Hack Writer —

the Monthly Review — In Green Court Arbour — Beginning

the World at Thirty-one — Letters to His Friends in Ireland

. — The Great City by Night — Johnson's Garret — Drinking

Tea with Mrs. Williams — The Great Mr. Richardson.

[ORE than ten years later, another man
of genius, who was destined to become
one of the most poUshed writers of the
age, one of the most delightful poets of his cen-
tury, might be seen pushing his sad, slow way
through the crowded, friendless streets of London.
This was the simple-minded, tender-hearted Oliver
Goldsmith. He had landed in Dover from his
foreign travels in February, 1756, and for twelve
weary days had journeyed to London, footsore
and sick of heart ; now acting in a barn with some
strolling players, and again begging employment
from an apothecary, that he might not starve
before reaching the great city which was to be
the scene of his future keen privations, sordid


humiliations, brief triumphs, and premature death.
Penniless and almost hopeless, he, on his arrival,
herded by night among the beggars in Axe Lane,
and by day wandered from one druggist's shop to
another, humbly asking them to let him pound
their mortars, spread their ointments, and run of
their messages ; but " his threadbare coat," says
Percy, "his uncouth figure, and his Hibernian
dialect caused him to meet with repeated refusals."
At last there came a day when one Jacob, living
at the corner of Monument Yard in Fish Street
Hill, a man who had more compassion in his heart
than those to whom poor Goldsmith had previously
applied, gave him employment, and he rose from
being an apothecary's drudge to become a " physi-
cian in a humble way." As such he might be
seen going his round in the poor districts, clad in
a suit of green velvet and gold, well-worn and tar-
nished in the previous service of some more for-
tunate master ; in which array he was encountered
by his old schoolfellow Beatty, whom, in the face
of all appearances, he assured that he was practis-
ing physic and doing very well indeed. Presently
this faded finery was exchanged for a more sober
suit of black velvet, which was neither new nor
perfect ; for on the left breast was a patch, which
it was the poor physician's greatest anxiety to keep
covered with his hat whilst attending his humble
patients, declining their polite efforts to relieve
him of its care. " But this constant position," says


Prior, who tells the story, " becoming noticed, and
the cause being soon known, occasioned no little
merriment at his expense."

Now it happened that amongst his patients was
a workman in the employment of Samuel Richard-
son, the admired author, and, what was more to
the purpose, the eminent publisher, who, noting
the physician's neediness and suspecting his hun-
ger, ventured to hint that, as his master was ever
ready to do a kind turn to men of parts, he might
be of help to Mr. Goldsmith. The mention of the
printer's name stirred the physician's heart ; for
already he had dreams of becoming an author,
and had, indeed, written a great tragedy, of which
the world was never destined to hear. An intro-
duction was therefore speedily established by this
humble means between the starving physician and
the prosperous publisher, who gave him employ-
ment as corrector for his press. Moreover, he
gradually admitted him to his familiar intercourse
and introduced him to his friends, one of whom
was Doctor Young, author of " Night Thoughts."

This was indeed a great help to poor Goldsmith,
who was now enabled to carry on his work as cor-
rector for the press at the same time that he
practised physic, an employment which had barely
prevented starvation, and in which he beheld no
chance of improvement. For Goldsmith's manner
lacked the polish and his person the air of pros-
perity which are essential commendations in physi-


cians to the rich ; moreover, his honesty, as Prior
significantly remarks, " despised that intrigue which
some of his brethren find a convenient substitute
for talent." So few and small indeed were his
fees that he soon abandoned such poor practice
as was his for an ushership at a school kept by a
dissenting minister, one Doctor Milner, which was
obtained for him by that gentleman's son. Here
he underwent the drudgery, then even more than
now inseparable to such an occupation, with a
brave spirit and a cheerfulness of disposition
which made him alike the delight of his pupils
and the friend of his employers. His salary was
small, indeed, and was mostly drawn in advance,
in order that it might be spent in giving charity
to beggars, or in buying fruits and sweetmeats for
the boys ; so that when quarter-day came around
he had little to receive, and this little went with
alarming rapidity.

" Had you not better," said Mrs. Milner to him
one day, " let me keep your money for you, as I
do for some of the young gentlemen ? "

"In truth,' madam," replied the simple-hearted
usher, "there is equal need."

It was at Doctor Milner's table that he became
acquainted with personages whose very names were
spoken by Grub Street authors with bated breath.
These were Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths, who kept a
book-shop at the sign of " The Dunciad," in Pater-
noster Row. Griffiths was not only a bookseller,


but was likewise a printer, and the projector and
proprietor of the Mojtthly Review, and in his vari-
ous avocations was aided by his spouse, a lady of
literary tastes. The worthy pair have been de-
scribed by an irreverent pen in Smollett's Critical
RevieWy probably, indeed, by that ingenious author,
the one as ** an illiterate bookseller," and the other
as "an antiquated Sappho, a Sibyl, or, rather, a
Pope Joan in taste and literature, pregnant with
abuse begot by rancour under the canopy of igno-
rance," Now Goldsmith, who had found time
during the intervals of his hard toil to produce
manuscripts which were wont to fill the pockets
of his rusty velvet suit until his ungainly figure
looked ridiculous, saw in the worthy bookseller
and his wife beings who, if they were illiterate,
yet had the fateful power of enabling him to fulfil
his long-cherished desire of becoming an author.
So, when the discourse at Doctor Milner's table
turned on literature, Goldsmith took much pains
to show he was well qualified to pronounce an
opinion upon such matters. Griffiths in return
paid him attention, and, being acquainted with his
tastes and former employment with Samuel Rich-
ardson, engaged him as a regular writer for his
Monthly Review.

The terms which he was to receive for working
six hours daily were his board and lodging and an
"adequate salary." What pittance the humble
usher considered adequate is not known. His


life, however, was not all that he had expected ;
it was, indeed, but drudgery in a new form. Not
only were such articles, essays, and reviews — as
he wrote invariably for six hours a day, and, occa-
sionally, for double that time — penned at the
dictation of Griffiths, but suggestions, corrections,
and alterations were made by Mrs. Griffiths.
Moreover, he was accused by the illiterate book-
seller of affecting independence, no doubt a seri-
ous offence in the eyes of one whose word was
law to the hacks he employed ; and he was sub-
jected in the domestic arrangements to many pri-
vations by the antiquated Sappho, — "a woman,"
says De Quincey, "who would have broken the
back of a camel, which must be supposed tougher
than the heart of an usher."

His] connection with them, therefore, did not
last long. At the end of about five months he
parted from them with mutual dissatisfaction ; and
the poor drudge found himself free once more,
and happy in his freedom, though it was attained
at the cost of probable starvation. He was again
upon the streets, struggling for bread by day, lying
Heaven knows where by night ; making hard
shifts to Uve — for to live was now his sole ambi-
tion. Then when starvation dogged him through
the friendless streets, he turned to Doctor Milner's
school once more, and sought refuge in the drudg-
ery of an ushership.

After his brief experience as an author, the life


of an usher seems to have become doubly irksome
to him, and he soon left Doctor Milner's academy,
and, toward the end of 1758, took a lodging in
Green Arbour Court, in the Old Bailey, when he
set to work upon " An Inquiry into the Present
State of Polite Literature in Europe," a work he
fondly trusted would bring him money and repu-
tation. This lodging was a single room in a garret ;
uncomfortable, miserably poor, nay, "wretchedly
dirty," according to the statement of a friend of
his, the Rev. Thomas Percy.

This gentleman, who afterward became Lord
Bishop of Dromore, but who is now better re-
membered as the ingenious author of the " Re-
liques," had been introduced to Goldsmith at the
"Temple Exchange Coffee-house." Being one
who loved letters greatly, and relished the society
of those who pertained to the profession of litera-
ture, he was vastly pleased with Goldsmith's con-
versation, which, beneath the clearness of its
simplicity, showed sparkling gems of thought and
precious ore of fancies. So delighted was he with
the poor writer, that, soon after their first meeting,
he must wait on him in his garret, which he found
so wretched ; a circumstance, he avows, he would
not think of mentioning did he not consider it the
highest proof of Goldsmith's genius and talents
that by " the bare exertion of their powers, under
every disadvantage of person and fortune, he could
gradually emerge from such obscurity to the enjoy-


ment of all the comforts, and even luxuries, of
life, and admission into the best societies in Lon-
don. There was but one chair," says Mr. Percy,
" and when he from civility offered it to his visit-
ant, he himself was obliged to sit in the window.
Whilst conversing some one gently rapped at the
door, and, being desired to come in, a poor, ragged
little girl of very decent behaviour entered, who,
dropping a curtsey, said, *My mamma sends her
compliments, and begs the favour of you to lend
her a chamber-pot full of coals.' "

It was long before Goldsmith was to enjoy the
society of the polite and learned ; but meanwhile,
he was, as he writes to " Robert Bryanton, Esquire,
at Ballymahon, Ireland," "in a garret, writing for
bread, and expecting to be dunned for a milk
score," This letter, and others penned in this
lodging, he headed "Temple Exchange Coffee-
house, where answers may be directed," being
anxious to withhold the name of the humble abode
which sheltered him from the knowledge of those
whom he addressed. Though the general tone of
these epistles is cheerful, and even occasionally
indulges in hopeful fancies for the future, yet here
and there are touches which reveal the hard con-
dition of the poor hack in vivid colours.

" I must confess it gives me some pain," he
writes to his brother, the Rev. Henry Goldsmith,
"to think I am almost beginning the world at the
age of thirty-one. Though I never had a day's


sickness since I saw you, yet I am not that strong,
active man you once knew me. You scarcely can
conceive how much eight years of disappointment,
anguish, and study have worn me down. If I re-
member right, you are seven or eight years older
than me, yet I dare venture to say, if a stranger
saw us both, he would pay me the honours of
seniority. Imagine to yourself a pale, melancholy
visage, with two great wrinkles between the eye-
brows, with an eye disgustingly severe, and a big
wig, and you may have a perfect picture of my
present appearance." Then he goes on to paint
the contrast which he imagines exists between
them. " On the other hand," he says, " I conceive
you as perfectly sleek and healthy, passing many
a happy day among your own children, or those
who knew you as a child. Since I knew what it
is to be a man, this is a pleasure I have not known.
I have passed my days among a parcel of cool,
designing beings, and have contracted all their
suspicious manner in my own behaviour. I should
actually be as unfit for the society of my friends
at home, as I detest that which I am obliged to
partake of here. I can now neither partake of the
pleasure of a revel, nor contribute to raise its jollity.
I can neither laugh, nor drink, have contracted an
hesitating, disagreeable manner of speaking, and a
visage that looks ill-nature itself ; in short, I have
thought myself into a settled melancholy, and an
utter disgust of all life brings with it."


One cannot but smile at the idea of simple-
hearted, trusting Oliver Goldsmith becoming sus-
picious in his manner. In another letter which he
wrote to Mrs. Jane Lawder at this time, he lays
bare more than a comer of his foolish, tender
heart. He apologises for not having lately written
to her because he was in such circumstances that
all his endeavours to retain her regard might be
attributed to wrong motives. He fears his letters
might have been looked upon as the petitions of a
beggar, instead of the offerings of a friend ; whilst
his professions, instead of being considered as the
result of disinterested esteem, might be ascribed
to venal insincerity. No doubt Mrs. Jane Lawder
had too much generosity to place them in such a
light, but he could not bear even the shadow of
a suspicion. The most delicate friendships, he
reminds her, are always most sensible of the
slightest invasion, and the strongest jealousy is
ever attendant on the warmest regard. He could
not, therefore, continue a correspondence, for every
acknowledgment for past favours might be con-
sidered as an indirect request for future ones.

" It is true," he continues, in this charming letter,
"this conduct might have been simple enough, but
yourself must confess it was in character. Those
who know me at all know that I have always been
actuated by different principles from the rest of
mankind, and while none regarded the interest
of his friend more, no man on earth regarded his


own less. I have often affected bluntness to avoid
the imputation of flattery, have frequently seemed
to overlook those merits too obvious to escape
notice, and pretended disregard to those instances
of good nature and good sense which I could not
fail tacitly to applaud ; and all this lest I should
be ranked amongst the grinning tribe, who say
* Very true ' to all that is said ; who fill a vacant
chair at a tea-table ; whose narrow souls never
moved in a wider circle than the circumference of
a guinea ; and who had rather be reckoning the
money in your pocket than the virtue of your
breast. All this, I say, I have done, and a thou-
sand other very silly» though very disinterested,
things in my time, and for all which no soul cares
a farthing about me. God's curse, madam ! is it
to be wondered that he should once in his life
forget you, who has been all his life forgetting
himself .•'

" However," he says, playfully, " it is probable
you may one of those days see me turned into a
perfect hunks, and as dark and intricate as a
mouse-hole. I have already given my landlady
orders for an entire reform in the state of my
finances. I declaim against hot suppers, drink
less sugar in my tea, and check my grate with
brickbats. Instead of hanging my room with
pictures, I intend to adorn it with maxims of
frugality. Those will make pretty furniture
enough, and won't be a bit too expensive; for I


shall draw them all out with my own hands, and

my landlady's daughter shall frame them with the
parings of my black waistcoat. Each maxim is to
be inscribed on a sheet of clean paper, and wrote
with my best pen ; of which the following will
serve as a specimen : ' Look sharp ; ' < Mind the
main chance ; ' 'If you have a thousand pounds
you can put your hands by your sides and say you
are worth a thousand pounds every day of the
year ; ' * Take a farthing from a hundred and it
will be a hundred no longer.' Thus, which way
soever I turn my eyes, they are sure to meet one
of those friendly monitors ; and as we are told of
an actor who hung his room round with looking-
glass to correct the defects of his person, my apart-
ment shall be furnished in a peculiar manner to
correct the errors of my mind.

"Faith, madam," he concludes, "I heartily wish
to be rich, if it were only for this reason, to say
without a blush how much I esteem you ; but
alas, I have many a fatigue to encounter before
that happy time comes when your poor old simple
friend may again give a loose to the luxuriance of
his nature, sitting by Kilmore fireside, recount the
various adventures of a hard-fought life, laugh over
the follies of the day, join his flute to the harpsi-
chord, and forget that ever he starved in those
streets where Butler and Otway starved before

Meanwhile he patiently endured "the mean-


nesses which poverty unavoidably brings with it,"
and worked hard — translating French works for
the booksellers, writing essays for the magazines,
and executing such odd literary jobs as came in
his way. At one time he thinks that at last
fortune is beginning to look more kindly on him,
and again the fickle jade but frowns upon his
endeavours. To a sensitive nature such as his
the merest trifle served to imbue him to-day with
the sunlight of hope, or wrap him to-morrow
in the gloom of despair. But two brief months
after his declaration that fortune was looking
kindlier upon him, he writes to Griffiths, who had
lent him clothes which in great necessity he had
pawned, begging that he might be sent to gaol,
"as a favour that may prevent something more
fatal. I have been," he cries out, when at last
he is goaded by misery and despondency to make
complaint, " some years struggling with a wretched
being with all that contempt which indigence brings
with it, with all those strong passions which make
contempt insupportable. What then has a gaol
that is formidable } I shall at least have the
society of wretches, and such is, to me, true

" Had I been a sharper," he continues, with a
bitterness wrung from his heart, "had I been
possessed of less good nature and native gen-
erosity, I might surely now have been in better
circumstances. I am guilty, I own, of meannesses


which poverty unavoidably brings with it ; my
reflections are filled with repentance for my im-
prudence, but not with any remorse for being a
villain — that may be a character you unjustly
charge me with. It is very possible both the
reports you have heard and your own suggestions
may have brought you false information with re-
spect to my character ; it is very possible that the
man whom you now regard with detestation may
inwardly burn with grateful resentment ; it is very
possible that, upon a second perusal of the letter
I sent you, you may see the workings of a mind
strongly agitated with gratitude and jealousy. If
such circumstances should appear, at least spare
invective till my book with Mr. Dodsley shall be
published, and then perhaps you may see the
bright side of a mind, when my profession shall
not appear the dictates of necessity, but of choice."
At this time he felt, indeed, the full misery of
his unhappy lot, and now and then words of self-
commiseration, bubbling to the surface of his
correspondence, would tell of the deep pain which
beset his mind. When the Rev. Henry Gold-
smith, in Ireland, is solicitous about the education
of his son, and consults as to his future with
Oliver, the latter replies that he must be taught
thrift and economy ; for frugality and even avarice
are true ambition, they affording the only ladder
for the poor to rise to preferment. " Let his
poor uncle's example be placed before his eyes,"


he continues. " I had learned from" books to be
disinterested and generous, before I was taught
from experience the necessity of being prudent.
I had contracted the habits and notions of a
philosopher, while I was exposing myself to the
insidious approaches of cunning ; and often by
being, even with my narrow finances, charitable
to excess, I forgot the rules of justice, and placed
myself in the very situation of the wretch who

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Online LibraryJ. Fitzgerald (Joseph Fitzgerald) MolloyThe life and adventures of Peg Woffington (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 17)