1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

Anonymous, "On the Success of Dr. Goldsmith's new Comedy, The Mistakes of a Night" St. James's Chronicle (18 March 1773).



Long have our Comick Writers try'd to move
With Tales of Pity and chaste Scenes of Love;
On Stilts sublime the laughing Muse they raise,
For nothing low, our Taste refin'd can please.
Nor Wit, nor Humour, such grave Preachers knew;
The Maudlin-House resembles Whitfield's Crew.
No Bursts of Laughter shook the merry Pit;
With solemn Silence all attentive sit,
'Till some sad Story big with tragick Woe,
From the touch'd Boxes cause the Tear to flow.
So deep the Comedy, it makes you stare,
To find no poison'd Bowl or Dagger there.
Gay Mirth and honest Joke are in Disgrace,
Melpomene usurps her Sister's Place:
Let Sentiment but stiffen ev'ry Line,
The raptur'd Audience cries, that's fine, that's fine!
Goldsmith at length, warm in Thalia's Cause,
Broke the dull Charm, and rescu'd Nature's Laws.