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From the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the poBBession of Mr. Horace Noble Pym 
of Brasted, England 

^\)t Ui\)tmnt iliterature Series 








In editing this comedy, I have reprinted, with sHght 
abbreviations, the biographical sketch of Sheridan written by 
Professor Joseph Quincy Adams, Jr., Ph.D., of Cornell Uni- 
versity, for his edition of The Rivals, published in the Riv- 
erside Literature Series in 1910. For several pages in the 
account of English Sentimental Comedy, I am indebted to 
Professor Thomas H. Dickinson of the University of Wis- 
consin. The passages from Mr. Walter Sichel's writings are 
quoted by special arrangement with him. The notes are 
the result of my own research except where specific ac- 
knowledgments are made. I am indebted especially to the 
work of Professor Brander Matthews of Columbia Univer- 
sity, Professor George Henry Nettleton of Yale University, 
Mr. George A. Aitken and Mr. Calvin S. Brown, earlier 
editors of the Dramas of Sheridan. To Mr. Thomas G. 
Goodwin, formerly Instructor in English in the Massachu- 
setts Institute of Technology, I wish to express my thanks 
for many helpful suggestions, for a final examination of 
the complete manuscript and for assistance in reading the 

The text here printed follows the version adopted by 
Thomas Moore for the edition of Sheridan's Dramatic Works 
published by him in 1821. This has ever since been accepted 
as a definitive version, yet it does not appear to have been 
reprinted with complete exactness by other editors who 
have prepared the comedy for students' reading, 

H. H. Webster. 

Boston, February 16, 1917. 


R. L S. 250 

APR 16 1317 

U . S . A 




I. Sheridan's Career v 

Chief Productions of Sheridan the Drama- 
tist XV 

II. English Sentimental Comedy from Cib- 

BER TO Sheridan xvi 

III. The Evolution of "The School for 

Scandal" xxvii 

IV. Contemporary Comment xxxi 

V. The Play and its Characters .... xxxv 

1. Lamb's Criticism xxxv 

2. HazUtt's Criticism . . xxxviii 

3. Taine's Criticism xxxix 

4. Sichel's Criticism xlii 

The School for Scandal 

A Portrait: Addressed to Mrs. Crewe . . 1 

Prologue 7 

Dramatis Persons, May 8, 1777 10 

Act I 11 

Act II 33 

Act III 52 

Act IV 76 

Act V 103 

Epilogue 131 



Goldsmith's Essay on the Theatre, 1772 . . 135 
References and Illustrative Readings 

I. Richard Brinsley Sheridan 139 

II. History and Criticism of the English Drama 140 
III. London in the Eighteenth Century . . .141 
IV The Town and Country Magazine . . . 143 



In Sheridan's progenitors we find in ample measure 
those qualities of mind which made him illustrious in two 
separate careers — as playwright and as parlia- his grand- 
mentarian. His grandfather was the Reverend ^^^^^r 
Thomas Sheridan, D.D., of Dublin, well known to contem- 
poraries for his learning and wit, and still remembered as 
the intimate friend of Dean Swift. The latter found the 
doctor's companionship so pleasant that for some years he 
reserved for him at the Deanery a room hospitably named 
"Sheridan." His esteem for the doctor may be summed up 
by quoting the first line of one of his Latin verses: — 
Deliciae Sheridan musarum, dulcis amice! 

The playwright's father, Thomas Sheridan, was likewise 

a man of great mental vigor, and of such activity as kept 

him much in the public eye. For several years he 

., f r xu His father 

was conspicuous as the reform manager of the 

Theatre Royal in Dublin; later, as an actor, he shared 
with Garrick the applause of London playgoers; and, finally, 
he distinguished himself as a fashionable teacher of oratory, 
and a reformer of pronunciation. For a time his instruction 
was the rage among persons of rank and fortune. Mr. Sichel 
observes that "for one of his courses in 1762, no less than 
sixteen hundred subscribed at a guinea apiece, and bought 
his publications at * half-a-guinea in boards.'" ^ Both Ox- 
ford and Cambridge conferred upon him honorary degrees; 
the authorities of Edinburgh, upon his visit there, voted 
him the freedom of the city; and the King, to further his 
plans of a great pronouncing dictionary, granted him a pen- 
» Walter Sichel, Sheridan, i, 244. 


sion of £200 a year. But his schemes of reforming the 
spolcen language were Quixotic. Dr. Samuel Johnson, who 
had once been his friend, openly ridiculed his teaching of 
oratory, and sneered at his proposed dictionary. 

To his mother, however, more than to his father, Sheri- 
dan was indebted for his qualities of mind. She was the 
daughter of a Dublin rector, the Reverend Philip 

smo er Qj^^mberlaine, D.D., a man with a strong per- 
sonality and a keen sense of humor. Although her father 
forbade that she be taught the art of writing, at the age of 
fifteen she became the author of a romance, which, after 
her death, was published and adapted to the stage. When 
in 1746 the Kelly rioters wrecked the Theatre Royal in 
Dublin, she published in prose and verse warm praises of 
the conduct of Mr. Sheridan, the manager. With these Mr. 
Sheridan was so much pleased that he at once sought the 
acquaintance of his young defender, and later persuaded 
her to become his wife. She was not only skillful with her 
pen, but also beautiful in person and charming in manner, 
much admired by Dr. Johnson and by the great novelist 
Samuel Richardson. The latter, indeed, encouraged her to 
attempt a novel. The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph. 
This was published in 1761 under Richardson's patronage, 
and dedicated to him in affectionate terms. At once it "took 
the town," and within three months passed into a second 
edition. It was highly praised by Dr. Johnson; was en- 
thusiastically pronounced by Charles Fox the best novel 
of the age; it was circulated on the Continent, translated 
into French, and put with success upon the stage in Paris. 
Stimulated by this triumph, Mrs. Sheridan composed the 
following year (1762) a comedy. The Discovery, which 
Garrick accepted and produced with great applause at the 
Drury Lane Theatre. A second comedy. The Dupe, proved 
less fortunate, for it was much inferior in quality, and upon 
its presentation utterly failed. A third comedy, A Journey 
to Bath, though in parts clever, was refused by Garrick, 
and never came to the stage. Other literary labors were cut 
short by her untimely death in 1766 at the age of forty-two. 

Of such parents Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in 



Dublin in the fall of 1751.* He received his earlj' educa- 
tion from his father, and from a private school taught by 
a near relative. At the age of eight, however, Bjrthand 
he went to live in England, whither his par- early 
ents, driven by pecuniary distress, had preceded 
him. At eleven he was sent to the fashionable school of 
Harrow, where he lived seven years, a clever boy, but a 
poor student. During his residence here he lost his mother, 
of whom, unfortunately, he had seen very little. At the 
age of seventeen he left Harrow; and his father being un- 
able to send him to the university, he came to London, and 
spent the next two years under the paternal roof, studying 
oratory with his father, and Latin and fencing with private 

Two years later the family moved to Bath, the fashion- 
able health-resort and watering-place, then far 
more famous than now as a city of pleasure. It 
was crowded with people of wealth and fashion, and haunted 
by adventurers and sharpers. 

Of all the gay places the world can afford, 

Bj' gentle and simple for pastime ador'd, 

Fine balls, and fine concerts, fine buildings, and springs, 

Fine walks, and fine views, and a thousand fine things, 

(Not to mention the sweet situation and air) 

What place, my dear mother, with Bath can compare? ^ 

Indeed, as a capital of fashion, health, and pleasure, eight- 
eenth-century Bath was without a rival. In the midst of 
its varied life the young Sheridan moved, observing many 
queer types of humanity, noting in their talk and manners 
much that was ludicrous, and with his keen eye and reten- 
tive memory storing up material for future plays. 

As he approached his majority he began to think of a 
life calling. All his inclination was towards authorship. At 
Harrow he had begun a play founded on The Literary 
Vicar of Wakefield, and had composed a long Pr°Jects 
essay on versification. With Halhed, an old Harrow school 

' " The precise day, and, indeed, month of Sheridan's birth is unas- 
certained." (Sichel, Sheridan, i, 253.) 
* The New Bath Guide, 1766. 


chum who had proceeded to Oxford, he now began to col- 
laborate on a farce, Jupiter (completed, but never acted), 
and on a translation from the Greek of the love epistles of 
Aristaenetus (completed and published, but without pecu- 
niary returns). Moreover he came near launching a weekly 
periodical in the style of The Spectator. He had fixed upon 
a name, Hernan's Miscellany, had prepared some manu- 
script for the first issue, and had secured a willing printer; 
but suddenly, for reasons now unknown, he gave up the 
plan. His head teemed with many other literary projects. 
Yet the young would-be author found time for a roman- 
tic courtship and marriage. The Sheridans became intimate 
CourtshlB ^* Bath with the family of Mr. Thomas Linley, 
and mar- a fashionable teacher of music, noted both as a 
player on the harpsichord and as a composer. His 
son, Tom (declared by Mozart to be a prodigy), and his 
daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, were so excellently gifted 
in music, and so well trained, that Dr. Burney called 
their home "a nest of nightingales." The elder daughter, 
Miss Elizabeth Linley, frequently appeared in public orato- 
rios at Bath, Oxford, London, and elsewhere. Her beaut.y, 
her modesty, and her "divinely sweet voice" captivated 
all hearts, Halhed, after hearing her sing at Oxford, 
wrote: "I am petrified; my very faculties are annihilated 
with wonder. My conception could not form such a power 
of voice — such a melody — such a soft yet so audible a 
tone!" Not only, however, was Miss Linley a "mistress 
of harmony"; her beauty of character was equally charm- 
ing. Sheridan wrote of her: — 

So well her mind and voice agree 
That every thought is melody. 

After her first public singing in London, the novelist 
Frances Burney wrote in her diary: "The whole town 
seems distracted about her. Every other diversion is for- 
saken. Miss Linley alone engrosses all eyes, ears, hearts." 
She was generally acclaimed the belle of the day, and was 
literally besieged by suitors. She was the subject of a com- 
edy by Foote, The Maid of Bath (1771); was painted by 


Sir Joshua Reynolds as St. Cecilia; was ranked by Horace 
Walpole "above all beauties of her day"; and was ad- 
mired by the King, who declared that "he never in his life 
heard so fine a voice." Miss Linley was as romantic as she 
was beautiful. In 1772, in order to escape from an obnox- 
ious suitor, and to avoid singing in public oratorios, she 
planned to run away and take refuge in a French convent. 
Sheridan's sisters were let into the plot, and then Sheridan 
himself. Like the knight in romance, he volunteered to 
act as her escort thither. One rainy night the two escaped, 
and after a stormy voyage across the Channel, reached 
Calais in safety. Sheridan, who had long worshiped Miss 
Linley in silence, now urged his suit so eloquently that 
she consented to a secret marriage. Immediately after the 
ceremony she entered a convent in Lille, where she intended 
to remain until he came of age, or was able to support a 
wife. Soon, however, Mr. Linley appeared and conducted 
the young persons back to England. In consequence of the 
escapade Sheridan fought two duels with the disappointed 
suitor, and the whole incident became a matter of notoriety. 
After a year of secret courtship (for the ceremony in France 
was not binding) Sheridan and Miss Linley were formally 
united according to the rites of the Church of England, and 
began housekeeping in a modest cottage at East Burnham. 

Sheridan, now face to face with the problem of support- 
ing a household, began to work in earnest. On November 
17, 1774, he wrote to his father-in-law: "There will be a 
comedy of mine in rehearsal at Covent Garden composes 
[Theatre] within a few days. I did not set to The Rivals 
work on it till within a few days of my setting out for 
Crome, so you may think I have not for these last six 
weeks been very idle." This play was The Rivals. On 
January 17, 1775, with high expectations on the part of 
the author and of the management, it was presented to the 
public at the Covent Garden Theatre. 

But the play proved a failure. It showed clearly the in- 
experience of the author, it was too long by nearly an hour, 
it was badly performed, and, in particular, the i"!"* 
character of Sir Lucius O'Trigger was so wretch- failure 


edly acted as to call forth general disapproval. Sheridan 
withdrew the play at once, and set to work revising it. The 
Morning Post, on January 19, 1775, announced: "The 
Comedy of the Rivals at Covent Garden, is withdrawn for 
the present to undergo some severe prunings, trimmings, 
and patchings, before its second appearance: the Author, we 
are informed, seeing the general disapprobation with which it 
was received, was very desirous of withdrawing it entirely, 
but the managers would not consent to it, determined to 
stand the event of a second embarcation, let the conse- 
quences be what they may." 

Ten days later The Rivals was for a second time offered 
to the public. It had been thoroughly revised, much short- 
Second ened, and a new actor. Clinch, had been substi- 
anw sue- tuted for Lee in the role of Sir Lucius O'Trigger. 
oessiui The result was a complete triumph. The British 
Chronicle records: "At the second representation of the new 
Comedy of the Rivals, it was received with the warmest 
bursts of approbation by a crowded and apparently im- 
partial audience." ^ At once The Rivals became a favorite 
with London playgoers, and was hailed by the critics as 
the greatest comedy of the age. 

On May 2 of the same year Sheridan produced at Co- 
vent Garden a short farce, St. Patrick's Day, written for 
St. Pat- a benefit performance of the actor Clinch, who, 
aii?Th^*^ after Lee had so signally failed in the part of Sir 
Duenna Lucius O'Trigger, had assumed the role with 
unusual success. This piece, which Sheridan wrote in forty- 
eight hours, does not deserve much attention from students 
of literature. On his next work, however, produced, in the 
same year, Sheridan put forth his best efforts. This was 
a comic opera. The Duenna, full of beautiful lyrics for 
which Mr. Linley composed the music. It was produced at 
Covent Garden on November 21, 1775, and at once met 
with rare success. During the first season it was acted no 
less than seventy-five times; and though nowadays it is 
never put on the stage, it was judged by contemporaries to 
be a wonderful performance. Sheridan's reputation was at 
' Quoted from Rac, Sheridan's Plays, page xxvii. 


last secure. The universal opinion of the pubhc, as well as 
of the critics, was expressed by Dr. Johnson when he said, 
in proposing Sheridan for membership in the famous Lit- 
erary Club, "He who has written the two best comedies 
of his age [The Rivals and The Duenna] is surely a consider- 
able man." 

In June, 1776, Garrick retired from the managership of 
the Drury Lane Theatre. Sheridan, Mr. Linley, and a 

friend, Dr. Ford, bought Garrick's half-interest „ 

' ' ° Manager 

in the theatre, and Sheridan, aged twenty-five, of Drury 

was given the important post of manager. This 
position he retained, with varying degrees of success vir- 
tually throughout the rest of his life. 

The public awaited with high expectations the next play 
from the hands of the new manager. After a considerable 
delay this came on May 8, 1777, as The School >jihe School 
for Scandal. It more than filled the expectations *°^ Scandal 
of the audience^ and added greatly to the reputation of its 
author.^ It is a better play than The Rivals, and stands 
without dispute as Sheridan's masterpiece. Even to-day it 
maintains its popularity with playgoers, and holds a promi- 
nent place among the stock-comedies of our stage. 

On October 30, 1779, Sheridan produced The Critic, a 
comedy modeled on the Duke of Buckingham's Rehearsal. 
It is clever throughout, and though now rarely 
acted, was at the time a notable success. It de- 
serves to rank next to The Rivals and The School for Scandal 
as Sheridan's best work. 

Sheridan, though still in his twenties, had shown him- 
self to be the greatest playwright of the age. He was the 
son of an actor, was the manager of the Drury Abandons 
Lane Theatre, and was a large shareholder in its fnl^ji^poi'l. 
patent. Everything seemed to mark out for him a ^'^^ 
brilliant career as a dramatist. Suddenly, however, he aban- 
doned this promising career. He had written his last origi- 
nal play, and though he continued to be manager of Drury 
Lane, he turned all his energies to politics. In 1780 he 
secured a seat in Parliament. Eleven days later he made 
> Read the "Contemporary Comment," pages xxxi-xxxiv. 


his first speech, and revealed his powers of oratory. Two 
months later he v/as elected a member of Brooks's Club, 
the most powerful and exclusive political club of the day, 
at whose meetings the leaders of the Whig Party decided 
affairs of state. Two years later he was given the important 
office of Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. His career in 
pohtics does not here interest us in its minute details; suffice 
it to say that for a quarter of a century he was one of the 
most conspicuous figures in Parliament, and one of its 
most brilliant orators, sharing fame with Charles Fox, 
William Pitt, the younger, and Edmund Burke. ^ 

The climax of his career was marked by his two brilliant 
orations against Warren Hastings. Their effect may be il- 
Power as lustrated by a quotation from Sir Gilbert Elliot, 
an orator. fjj.g^ jrj^rl of Minto, at the time a member of Par- 
liament. After hearing Sheridan's speech he wrote to his 
wife: "This last night, though the House was up soon 
after one, and I was in bed before two, I have not slept 
one wink. Nothing whatever was the matter with me, ex- 
cept the impression of what had been passing still vibrat- 
ing on my brain. . . . Sheridan opened his charge, and 
spoke exactly five hours and a half, with such fluency and 
rapidity that I think his speech could not be read in double 
the time. You may imagine the quantity of matter it con- 
tained. It was by many degrees the most excellent and as- 
tonishing performance I ever heard, and surpasses all I ever 
imagined possible in eloquence and ability. This is the uni- 
versal sense of all who heard it. You will conceive how 
admirable it was when I tell you that he surpassed, I think, 
Pitt, Fox, and even Burke, in his finest and most brilliant 
orations. ... It is impossible to describe the feelings he ex- 
cited. The bone rose repeatedly in my throat, and tears in ray 
eyes — not of grief, but merely of strongly excited sensibility; 
so they were in Dudley Long's, who is not, I should think, 
particularly tearful. The conclusion, in which the whole 
force of the case was collected, and where his whole powers 
were employed to their utmost stretch, and indeed his own 
feelings wound to the utmost pitch, worked the House up 
* Cf. Byron's Monody quoted on page xv. 


into such a paroxysm of passionate enthusiasm on the sub- 
ject, and of admiration for him, that the moment he sat down 
there was a universal shout, nay, even clapping, for half-a- 
second; every man was on the floor, and all his friends 
throwing themselves on his neck in raptures of joy and 
exultation. This account is not at all exaggerated, and 
hardlj^ does justice to, I daresay, the most remarkable scene 
ever exhibited, either there or in any other popular assem- 
bly." 1 That Sir Gilbert did not exaggerate we have ample 
evidence. Burke declared that the speech was "the most 
astonishing effort of eloquence, argument, and wit united, 
of which there was any record or tradition"; Pitt wrote 
that it was "without exception one of the most wonderful 
performances I ever heard, and almost the greatest imagina- 
ble exertion of the human mind"; and Fox, with character- 
istic enthusiasm, asserted that "all that he had ever heard, 
all that he had ever read, when compared with it, d\vindled 
into nothing, and vanished like vapour before the sun." 
Parliament voted to adjourn until the next day, for the 
avowed reason that its members could not fairly and dispas- 
sionately vote on the question while under the spell of the 
oration. Yet when Sheridan's speeches are read nowadays 
they are strangely disappointing, and when compared with 
the speeches of Burke they seem pale and ineffectual. Ac- 
cordingly Mr. Saintsbury has referred to his oratory as 
"theatrical and rather brassy." It cannot be denied, how- 
ever, that Sheridan exercised over his hearers a power of 
oratory unsurpassed in the records of Parliament. 

Naturally Sheridan's intense interest in politics led to 
his neglect of Drury Lane. In fact, the only thing that 

saved his management from disaster was the „^ „, 
1 -ii- r 111 .1 The Stran- 

brilliant group of actors he had got together, gers and 

Finally, to retrieve the finances of the theatre ^"" 

after a series of misfortunes, he turned his hand again to 

the playwright's art. This time he contented himself with 

adapting from the German two comedies of Kotzebue, The 

Strangers (1798) and Pizarro (1799). Though adapta- 

1 From Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, first Earl of Minto, i, 
123-24. Quoted in Rae, Life, ii, 60. 


tions, and consequently not to be reckoned in his list of 
original works, these plays showed clearly that he had lost 
none of his skill as- a dramatist. They created a sensation 
among the playgoers, and for the time replenished the 
empty coffers of the theatre. 

The last years of Sheridan's life were clouded in do- 
mestic, political, and pecuniary troubles. He lost 
his wife, and married again somewhat unhap- 
pily; he watched his beloved son Tom yield slowly to the 
ravages of consumption; he himself suffered continuously 
from a painful disorder. In politics he formed a baleful 
friendship with the unworthy Prince of Wales; his party 
was out of power; and his alliances within the party were 
unfortunate. In his pecuniary affairs he became involved 
in difficulties that led to his ultimate ruin. In 1791 Drury 
Lane Theatre was condemned as unsafe, and had to be 
reconstructed at a heavy expense. In 1809 it was totally 
destroyed by fire, and with it a large part of Sheridan's 
fortune. When the theatre was rebuilt, new officials as- 
sumed charge, and Sheridan was forced out. Moreover, the 
sum of money due him for his share was wrongfully with- 
held. By 1812 Sheridan's affairs were in so bad a state that 
he could not pay the expenses of a re-election to Parliament. 
In 1813 he was actuallj'- arrested for debt, and for a short 
time confined in a sponging-house. His career was now 
over. Shut out from the theatre and from politics, besieged 
by creditors, harassed by domestic sorrows, and in ruined 
health, he dragged his life to an unhappy end. Even as 
he lay dying, a sheriff with a writ of debt took up lodging 
in the house. ^ Repassed away quietly on July 7, 1816, at 
the age of sixty-five. His funeral was attended with mag- 
nificent pomp, and he was laid with honor in the Poets' 
Corner of Westminster Abbey. 

1 Only a few days before his death, Sheridan wrote thus to Mr. 
Rogers: "I am absolutely undone and broken-hearted. They are 
going to put the carpets out of window, and break into Mrs. S.'s 
room and lake me: 150Z. will remove all difficulty. For God's sake 
let me see you!" Moore was the immediate bearer of the required 


From the shore of Lake Geneva BjTon wrote: ' — 

A mighty Spirit is eclipsed — a Power 

Hath passed from day to darkness — to whose hour 

Of light no likeness is bequeathed — no name, 

Focus at once of all the rays of Fame! 

The flash of Wit — the bright Intelligence, 

The beam of Song — the blaze of Eloquence, 

Set with their Sun, but still have left behind 

The enduring produce of immortal Mind. 

Ye Orators! whom yet our councils yield. 
Mourn for the veteran Hero of your field! 
The worthy rival of the wondrous Three,"^ 
Whose words were sparks of Immortality! 
Ye Bards! to whom the Drama's Muse is dear. 
He was your Master — emulate him here I 
Ye men of wit and social eloquence! 
He was your brother — bear his ashes hence! 
While Powers of mind almost of boundless range, 
Complete in kind — as various in their change, 
While Eloquence — Wit — Poesy — and Mirth, 
That humbler Harmonist of care on Earth, 
Survive within our souls — while lives our sense 
Of pride in Merit's proud pre-eminence, 
Long shall we seek his likeness — long in vain. 
And turn to all of him which may remain. 
Sighing that Nature form'd but one such man, 
And broke the die — in moulding Sheridan. 


The Rivals (comedy) ; produced at Covent Garden Theatre, 
January 17, 1775. 
Revised production: January 28, 1775. 

St. Patrick's Day; or, The Scheming Lieutenant (farce); pro- 
duced at Covent Garden Theatre, May 2, 1775. 

The Duenna (comic opera) ; produced at Covent Garden Theatre, 
November 21, 1775. 

A Trip to Scarborough (comedy adapted from Vanbrugh's The 
Relapse; or Virtue in Danger); produced at Drury Lane 
Theatre, February 24, 1777. 

* "Monody on the Death of The Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan: 
Spoken at Drury-Lane Theatre." This was written at Diodati on 
July 17, 1816, at the request of Mr. Douglas Kinnaird. "I did as 
well as I could," says Lord Byron, "but where I have not my 
choice, I pretend to answer for nothing." (Letter to Murray, 
September 29, 1816.) 
, 2 the wondrous Three ! Fox — Pitt — Burke. 


The School for Scandal (comedy); produced at Drury Lane 

Theatre, May 8, 1777. 
The Critic; or a Tragedy Rehearsed (burlesque farce) ; produced 

at Drury Lane Theatre, October 30, 1779. 
Pizarro (melodramatic tragedy adapted from Kotzebue's 

Spaniards in Spain); produced at Drury Lane Theatre, 

May 24, 1799. 



Sentimentalism was an attitude towards life. To try to 
pick out from amidst the mystifying interplay of cause and 
effect those particular causes which determined an attitude 
towards life, is always presumptuous. Yet, risking presump- 
tion, we may say that sentimentalism developed largely be- 
cause of a growing antagonism to two theories that had come 
down from medieval times: (1) the divine right of kings — 
and, by corollary, the divine plan and divine sanction of an 
aristocratic organization of society; (2) the theory that man 
is essentially and innately bad. 

In the eighteenth century the first theory was definitely 
discarded and the second most vigorouslj'' attacked. The 
sentimentalist's attitude was determined by the belief — 
expressed or implicit — that (1) "all men are created free 
and equal"; differences in social position being accidental 
and artificial; and (2) man is essentially good, evil resulting 
not from man's innate waywardness but from the ver)^ or- 
ganization of society. In the eighteenth century, therefore, 
man as man, — the ordinary human being, the peasant, the 
bourgeois, — attained a respect, a very glorification, and 
therefore a sympathy, unknown before. Hence the popular- 
ity in the eighteenth century of, first, the sentimental drama 
and, later, the sentimental novel. 

To understand the history of sentimental comedy and to 
appreciate the great change in dramatic ideals effected by 
this new genre, we should be acquainted with the three 

> For the historical facts and many of the statements of opinion 
in this section, the editor has followed Professor Ernest Bern- 
baum'a The Drama of Sensibility, a sketch of the history of English 
Sentimental Comedy and Domestic Tragedy, 1696-1780. 


principal types, contrasting with, and antedating it. These 
are: (1) romantic comedy, (2) tragedy, (3) the comedy of 

(1) Romantic comedy (and pastoral drama). In these, the 
natural laws of cause and effect were unknown. In an arti- 
ficial environment, wholly exotic to human expe- Types of 
rience, ideally virtuous persons lived and moved, century^*^' 
This type of drama presented a world farthest re- drama 
moved from that of the ordinary man; by its very effort to 
escape the commonplace, it was least sympathetic with him 
and his problems. The poetic art of the author alone won for 
his characters the interest of the audience. 

(2) Classic tragedxj. In this field, dramatists followed the 
classic dictum that tragedy concern itself only with princes 
or persons of eminent rank. To classic dramatists, the mis- 
fortunes of the middle class were pathetic, not tragic, and 
therefore not a fit subject for their art.^ 

(3) Comedy of manners {laughing or true comedy) . This form 
might deal with everyday men and women ; but only to show 
the worldliness of society, to tear the mask from respectabil- 
ity, to expose folly and vice. Its object was to hold up human 
frailty to scorn by presenting its characters in predicaments 
more or less distressing — predicaments for which they were 
to blame. Human nature was essentially bad; man was to be 
scorned. Therefore, comedy should be satiric and contemp- 
tuous; in it was no place for anything pathetic, no appeal to 
the sympathies.^ 

In none of these types, then, were the virtues and distresses 

1 Consult Thorndike's Tragedy, especially chapters viir, "The 
Restoration"; ix, "The Eighteenth Century"; x, "The Romantic 

' Specimens of this type are the plays of Wycherley (16407-1716), 
Congreve (1670-1729), Vanbrugh (1664-1726), and Farquhar (1678- 
1707). Their coarseness and indecency drove them from the stage 
early in the eighteenth century; but their wit and sparkling dialogue 
have never been surpassed. Consult Palmer's The Comedy of Man- 
ners, 1664-1720, and Leigh Hunt's edition (1849) of the complete 
plays of the four authors named above. 

Jeremy Collier (1650-1726) helped materially toward the purifi- 
cation of the stage through his Short View of the hnmorality and 
Profaneness of the English Stage (1699). See Macaulay's Essay, 
The Comic Dramatists of the Restoration. 


of ordinary men and women treated sympathetically. Pro- 
hibited by sundry conventions from appearing among the 
characters of romantic comedy or of tragedy, the man of the 
middle class was made the butt of ridicule in the characters 
of laughing comedy. This was the one way in which he was 
represented upon the stage — as a comic figure; and ordinary 
men and women began to weary of portrayals of human char- 
acter so far inferior to its best possibilities. 

With Colley Gibber's Love's Last Shift; or the Fool in 
Fashion,^ began a tendency in a new direction. This play 
was the first "sentimental comedy." It aimed to appeal 
directly to the fellow-feeling of the audience, through a 
sympathetic portrayal of the virtues and distresses of beings 
like themselves. Its spirit was as far removed as possible 
from that of the laughing comedy with its ridicule of human 
folly. It sought to present characters that the audience 
should emulate. As a rejoinder, Vanbrugh, in The Relapse; 
or Virtue in Danger,'^ presented from the comic point of view 
the scrupulous morality, the power of virtue, and the appeal 
to pity portrayed in Gibber's piece; and thereafter the 
contest between the two types of comedy was actively 

The most important new comedies played between 1698 
and 1702 were Gongreve's The Way of the World (1700), far 
A growing removed from the sentimental; Farquhar's The 
tendency Constant Couple (1699), in which there is some 
sentimental tendency toward the sentimental; and the same 
comedy author's The Twin Rivals (1702), with marked 
sentimental treatment of plot and character. In 1703, Steele 
wrote his first sentimental comedy. The Lying Lover, ^ most 
of whose personages are modeled upon characters in the 
plays of Gibber and Farquhar. 

The early sentimental comedies, with the exception of 

1 Its initial performance was in January, 1696. 

2 Tliis play was adapted by Sheridan and produced, under the 
title A Trip to Scarborough, in 1777. 

' Steele soon turned to another field of literature, starting his 
magazine The. Tatler in 1709 and following it with The Spectator in 
1711. But in 1722 he reverted to sentimental comedy and produced 
The Conscious Lovers. This was his last piece of writing. 


Gibber's Love's Last Shift, had been practically failures; and 
the future of the tyY>e was doubtful when, late in 1704, 
Gibber staged The Careless Husband. This established the 
permanent popularity of the genre which, during the next 
five years, held its own with the older type; four sentimental 
comedies being produced and the same number of true 
comedies. Again Gibber made the greatest contribution to 
the cause, his The Lady's Last Stake; or the Wife's Resent- 
ment (1707), which remained a favorite through a half- 

Such were the beginnings of English sentimental comedy. 
Says Professor Bernbaum: "Though Gibber, Farquhar, and 
Steele worked somewhat blindly, these founders gj^jj, 
of the school of sentimental comedy accomplished cance of the 
between 1696 and 1704 work of lasting importance. 
They destroyed forever the tradition that the pathetic must 
be confined to romantic drama. They created several 
characters which were in the future to be copied, with slight 
variations, again and again — the sorely-tried but loyal 
wife, the maiden faithful to her absent lover, the pitiable for- 
saken mistress finally restored to respect, the repentant 
young prodigal, the nobly generous friend, and the waj^ward 
but reclaimable husband. They made these characters utter 
virtuous sentiments that uplifted the hearts of their audiences 
with admiration, and they placed them in emotional situa- 
tions that evoked the tribute of tears. They opened the doors 
of a new world, which professed to be an image of the real 
one, but in which pity and love and virtue dwelt supreme." 

It would be hardly satisfactory in brief space to trace the 
slight progress of this type of comedy during the next twenty 
years or its subsequent loss of prestige; instead, Sentimen- 
the student is referred to Professor Bernbaum's other^oms 
The Drama of Sensibility. But we should men- of literature 
tion in partial explanation that sentimentalism was now 
passing into other branches of literature. Thomson's poem. 
The Seasons, Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination, and 
the novels of Samuel Richardson may be cited as evidence. 
We should note also that the functions of the stage as an 
organ of public opinion were being usurped by the news- 


papers and periodical magazines — more or less on the lines 
of the Spectator — which, springing up by hundreds, were re- 
flecting the life of the times more perfectly than was the 
stage. 1 

These were the competitors of comedy for public inter- 
est. It is significant also that tragedy, like comedy, was 
declining in power. Dramatists tended to use 
power oi over and over again the stock characters of the 
t e s age theatre, and also were influenced by the move- 
ment, originating in France, for great regularity in the 
structure of plays. "The old exuberant passion of Shake- 
speare," writes Professor Dickinson, ^ "was displaced by the 
formalism of Voltaire. Addison's Cato (1713) had befen built 
on the regular lines of French tragedy three decades later, 
Formalism Johnson essayed classical tragedy in Irene (1749). 
in tragedy -pj^g success of the first was more hurtful to Eng- 
lish drama than the failure of the latter. Enghsh tragedy 
has never recovered from the debilitating influence of 
French 'regularity.' ' Barbarossa I have read, but I did not 
cry; at a modern tragedy it is sufficient not to laugh,' writes 
Gray to Thomas Wharton in 1754 concerning a tragedy by 
Dr. Brown, a friend of Warburton.* 

"For half a century, to use the phrase of Dr. Johnson, 
'declamation roared whilst passion slept.' In 1757, Home, 
the author of Douglas, was hailed as Shakespeare redivivus, 
but his was but a spark of the divine fire. The most lamen- 
table sign of the dramatic decadence of the times was the 
contempt into which Shakespeare had fallen. Garrick, 
whose metier it was, as Mrs. Parsons has said, to fake, not 
emulate Shakespeare, ' corrected ' Romeo and Juliet, made a 
pantomime of A Midsummer-Night's Dream, introduced 
topical songs into A Winter's Tale, and ended with Hamlet 
with alterations. 

> Hazlitt's phrase seems justified: he called the plays of the day 
"do-me-good, lack-a-daisical, whining, make-believe comedies." 
English Comic Writers, Lecture iv. 

2 In his Introduction to the Plays of Oliver Goldsmith, R.L.S. 
181, 182. 

3 Compare the anecdote about Sheridan at Cumberland's The Bat- 
tle of Hastings, page xxix. 


"In lighter amusement, the eighteenth century had seen 
the introduction of opera and of farce, both from France. 
The success of Gay's Beggar's Opera (1728) has Thelntro- 
perhaps never been dupHcated. It was followed by opera^ani 
a flood of operas of all kinds. Indeed, so popular *"°8 
did spectacular and Ijo-ical effects become that no play, 
serious or comic, was complete without songs. Samuel Foote 
and David Garrick were the most successful authors of that 
comedy of incident and character now known as farce." 

A revival of English sentimental comedy began in the 
latter half of the eighteenth century. The play which in- 
itiated it was The School for Lovers (1762), by The revival 
George Whitehead, who, by further coincidence, mental*" 
had succeeded Colley Gibber as poet laureate, comedy 
Mrs. Frances Sheridan ^ the next year produced an even 
more successful play, The Discovery. And thereafter, in 
spite of the gibes of Samuel Foote, the sentimental comedy 
under the leadership of Isaac Bickerstaff, Hugh Kelly, 
Richard Cumberland,^ and others, regained its vogue. Even 
Colman and Garrick, playwrights at first disinclined to 
sentimentalism, yielded to the popular taste, and wrote plays 

1 Mother of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. She wrote also Memoirs 
of Miss Sidney Bidulph (a novel) and A Journey to Bath (a comedy). 

* Cumberland's best play is The West Indian. In the poem, " Re- 
taliation," Goldsmith thus characterizes him as a playwright: — 

Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts, 
The Terence of England, the mender of hearts; 
A flattering painter, who made it his care 
To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are. 
His gallants are all faultless, his women divine, 
And comedy wonders at being so fine; 
Like a tragedy queen he has dizen'd her out, 
Or rather like tragedy giving a rout. 
His fools have their follies so lost in a crowd 
Of virtues and feelings, that folly grows proud; 
And coxcombs, alike in their failings alone. 
Adopting his portraits, are pleas'd with their own. 
Say, where has our poet this malady caught, 
Or wherefore his characters thus without fault? 
Say, was it that vainly directing his view 
To find out men's wtues, and finding them few, 
Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf. 
He grew lazy at last, and drew from himself? 

Sheridan lampooned him in the character of Sir Fretful Plagiary 
in The Critic. 


in the prevailing mode. "It was to combat this tendency," 
to quote Professor Dickinson further, "that Goldsmith 
essayed a combination of the farce of his contemporary, 
Foote, with the comedy of Farquhar and Congreve. Samuel 
Foote's playg had always been as far as possible from the 
sentimental order. On February 15, 1773, before the produc- 
tion of She Stoops to Conquer, Foote had brought out at 
the Haymarket The Handsome Housemaid; or Piety in 
Pattens, ' how a maiden of low degree, b}'^ the mere effects of 
morality and virtue, raised herself [like Pamela in Richard- 
son's novel] to riches and honors.' This was a burlesque 
entertainment especially directed against sentimental drama, 
and hailed later as a ' keen satire on the drowsy spirit of our 
modern comedies.' 

" In spite of the fact that isolated pens had been turned 
against the follies of the sentimental school of playwriting, it 

« ,^ ,.^. was not until Goldsmith formulated the attack 
Goldsmith's , , , . ... , ^ n i •, • i • 

theories of through his criticism and followed it up m his 
amaicar pj^^yg ^\-^^^ anything was accomplished. Gold- 
smith's bent was not toward tragedy, and in comedy was all 
away from the comic types of the times and toward the writ- 
ers of the age of Farquhar and Congreve. Discarding the 
well-known theatrical types of his contemporaries, he quite 
consistently went to nature for his models of men and wo- 
men. All Goldsmith added to nature was the piquant sauce 
Goldsmith's of his own jesting spirit. To 'exaggerate the fea- 
of come* tures of folly to render it more thoroughly ridicu- 
satire lous,' was his principle of comic satire. In this he 

was more like Farquhar than like Congreve or Steele, having 
little of Congreve's brilliancy, and nothing of the latter au- 
thor's finely tempered humor. 

"Of course. Goldsmith's practice of his principles 
aroused immediately accusations of vulgarity and irrever- 
ence. Against these charges Goldsmith had long before 
prepared his answer. ' Does the poet paint the absurdities of 
the vulgar, then he is low: does he exaggerate the features of 
folly to render it more thoroughly ridiculous, he is then very 
low,' he writes. 1 And in his dedication to Johnson he con- 
» In The Present State of Polite Learning. 


tends, ' The greatest wit may be found in a character, with- 
out impairing the most unaffected piety.' Again, ^ he ridicules 
the 'good, instructive, moral sermons,' the modern tragedies, 
and defends his position by saying, ' All the other comic writ- 
ers of antiquity aim only at rendering folly or vicQ ridiculous, 
but never exalt their characters into buskin'd pomp or make 
what Voltaire humorously calls a tradesman's tragedy.' "^ 

The Good-Natured Man was first plaj^ed January 29, 
1768. Its chances of success were discounted by the fact 

that it was a play in a new vein, with which some _,^ „ ^ 
. , . .. The uooa- 

of the actors were not in sympathy, and especially Natured 

by the appearance at Drury Lane just six nights 
earlier of False Delicacy, a sentimental comedy by Hugh 
Kelly. This was mawkish and inadequate, but nevertheless 
exactly the sort of play the audience wanted. The Good- 
Natured Man proved unable to compete with it, and was 
withdrawn after nine nights. Of this play, however, Dr. 
Johnson said, " It is the best comedy that has appeared since 
The Provoked Husband y ^ Austin Dobson is of the opinion 
that if it "had appeared at a later date, it would have been 
received with more enthusiasm." 

Goldsmith's second play, She Stoops to Conquer, was first 
played March 15, 1773. Sentimental comedy had in the 
mean while received a setback in the failure of she stoops 
A Word to the Wise, another play by Kelly, and *° Conquer 
in the increase in ridicule by critics and reviewers.* Gold- 
smith's play won immediate success. Such hostile criticism 
as was voiced may be represented by Horace Walpole's 

1 In A Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Com.edy. 
See Appendix. 

2 Against the latter remark Cumberland eame forth with a strong 
rejoinder prefacing his next comedy, The Choleric Man (1775). 

3 This was the title given by Gibber to a play begun by Vanbrugh 
(A Journc'/ to London), which the latter did not live to finish. Gibber 
prepared the manuscript for the stage, and took many liberties with 
the original author's style; thus having revenge for Vanbrugh'a 
The Relapse. The Provoked Husband was produced in 1728 and 
scored an even greater success than Steele's The Conscious Lovers 
Q722). It remained a popular play for nearly a century; with it 
Gibber's career as a sentimental dramatist closed. 

* Goldsmith's own essay had been printed in The Westminster 
Review for December, 1772. 


rather severe stricture: "Dr. Goldsmith has written a 
comedy — no, it is the lowest of all farces. It is not the 
subject I condemn, though very vulgar, but the execution. 
The drift tends to no moral, no edification of any kind. The 
situations, however, are well imagined, and make one laugh 
in spite of the grossness of the dialogue, the forced witticisms, 
and total improbability of the whole plan and conduct. But 
what disgusts me most is, that though the characters are very 
low, and aim at low humor, not one of them says a sentence 
that is natural or marks any character at all." But Dr. 
Johnson, whose opinion was far more weighty, expressed 
himself thus : " I know of no comedy for many years that has 
so much exhilarated an audience ; that has answered so much 
the great aim of comedj'', making an audience merry." 

She Stoops to Conquer was a telling blow against senti- 
mental comedy. Following Goldsmith, the next dramatist of 
Sheridan's rio^e was Richard Brinsley Sheridan. He, as Pro- 
The Rivals fessor Bernbaum says, was " no thoroughgoing op- 
ponent of sentimentalism." In The Rivals, which is for the 
most part a laughing comedy, there is yet the sub-plot of 
Faulkland and Julia and their courtship. , The Town and 
Country Magazine for January, 1775, calls these characters 
"the most outre sentimental ones that ever appeared upon 
the stage." That Sheridan was believed to have intended 
some concession to the sentimentalists is indicated by testi- 
mony from Bernard, an actor, who witnessed the initial 
performance of The Rivals. Some years later, he wrote: "It 
must be remembered that this was the English 'age of 
sentiment,' and Kelly and Cumberland had flooded the 
stage with moral poems under the title of comedies, which 
took their views of life from the drawing-room exclusively, 
and colored their characters with a nauseous French affec- 
tation. The Rivals was an attempt to overthrow this taste, 
and to follow up the blow which Goldsmith had given in 
She Stoops to Conquer. My recollection of the manner in 
which the former [The Rivals] was received, bears me out 
in the supposition. The audience on this occasion were 
composed of two parties — those who supported the pre- 
vailing taste, and those who were indifferent to it and liked 


nature. The consequence was that Faulkland and Julia 
(which Sheridan had obviously introduced to conciliate the 
sentimentalists) were the characters wliich were the most 
favorably received." ^ 

Several recent critics have held the interesting view that 
this sub-plot is really intended as a satire upon sentimental- 
ism ; and Professor Nettleton ^ suggests that it is varying 
far more than offset by the attack on sentimental- "^^^^^ 
itj'- in the novel in "the prominence of Lydia Languish, who 
sighs over the sentimental novels of the circulating library, 
and weeps over the prospect of a humdrum wedding in lieu 
of ' one of the most sentimental elopements. ' " It is also held 
that Sheridan's intent as a dramatist toward the prevailing 
moral-lachrymose comedy is plainly avowed in his pro- 
logue spoken on the tenth night (after his revision of The 
Rivals ^) , for he there ridicules 

"The goddess of the woful countenance — 
The sentimental Muse." 

Sheridan's practice would have been more consistent 
with his avowal, if, in his next play, he had not again had 
recourse to the favorite themes of the sentimentalist,'* and 
if he had not — once more to quote Professor Bernbaum — 
there used plots which "have the motivation and denoue- 
ments of sentimental comedy." 

But, in The School for Scandal, this evidence of the influ- 
ence of sentimentalism is, after all, a superficial matter. It 
concerns the manner of the play more than its The School 
purpose.^ At heart, Sheridan had no patience *or Scandal 

' Quoted in Fitzgerald's The Lives of the Sheridans, i, 119-20. 

2 In his Introduction to The Major Dramas of Richard Brinsley 

3 Upon the revised plaJ^ The British Chronicle (January 27-30, 
1775) made this comment: "The Rivals will now stand its ground; 
and although we cannot pronounce it, with all its amendments, a 
comic chef-d'wuvre, it certainly encourages us to hope for a very 
capital play from the same writer at a future season; he therefore 
from motives of candor and encouragement, is entitled to the patron- 
age and favor of a generous public." 

^ Compare Sichel's views, page xlv. 

' In its own day, the play was received as "an attempt to 
destroy the taste for sentimental comedy revived by Mr. Cumber- 
land." See page xxxiv. 


with the cant and hypocrisy which flavored so much of what 
the "man of sentiment" said and did. Every allusion to 
"sentiment" is sarcastic. This biting satire is far more 
significant than Sheridan's use of the stock characters and 
themes of the sentimental playwrights. 

In manner, then, while Sheridan's two great comedies 
were not an attempt to write without a touch of sentimen- 
talism, in intent they were both reactionary from that school. 
Convictions, hitherto curbed by convention, are given free 
rein in the last of Sheridan's original dramatic pieces. In The 
Critic (produced October 30, 1779), unhampered 
by the necessity for developing either characters 
or plot, Sheridan shows even more clearly his own feeling as 
to sentimental comedy.^ In the opening scene he ridicules it 
unsparingly. Here Dangle, reading the manuscript of a play 
brought him by Sneer, bursts into tears and exclaims, "What, 
is this a tragedy?" This conversation ensues: — 

^' Sneer. No, that's a genteel comedy, not a translation — 
only taken from the French: it is written in a style which they 
have lately tried to run down; the true sentimental, and 
nothing ridiculous in it from the begirming to the end. 

^' Mrs. Dangle. Well, if they had kept to that, I should not 
have been such an enemy to the stage; there was some edifi^ 
cation to be got from those pieces, Mr. Sneer! 

"Sneer. I am quite of your opinion, Mrs. Dangle: the 
theatre, in proper hands, might certainly be made the school 
of morality; but now, I am sorry to say it, people seem to go 
there principally for their entertainment! 

" Mrs. Dangle. It would have been more to the credit of the 
managers to have kept it in the other line. 

"Sneer. Undoubtedly, madam; and hereafter perhaps to 
have had it recorded, that in the midst of a luxurious and 
dissipated age, they preserved two houses in the capital, 
where the conversation was always moral at least, if not 

The tendency, therefore, of Sheridan's major dramas is 
progressively against sentimentalism; for in The Rivals 

' It is recognized, of course, that the main satire of The Critic is 
upon the bombastic tragedy of the day. 


there is a true sentimental sub-plot; in The School for 
Scandal, a satire against the materials of the sentimentalists 
which outweighs Sheridan's own use of these ma- Summaryof 
terials ; while in The Critic in pursuance of his atutude^o^ 
object "to ridicule the false taste and the follies mentai^'^^^' 
of modern dramatic composition," ^ Sheridan de- comedy 
rides the absurd affectation into which the sentimentalists 
had fallen. 



Long before Sheridan sought "Scandal in his den," he had 
had experience of the creature's venom. Lacking the fashion- 
able journals of Bath, and their varying scandal, odeto 
it is probable that Sheridan's two duels might Scandal 
have been avoided. This seems to have come home to him 
while he was recovering from the wounds received during 
the second of these melees. Thereupon, he wrote his Ode to 
Scandal,"^ a very slight foreshadowing of his great comedy. 

The first rough draft of the play itself is a sheet of dia- 
logue for The Slanderers — a Pump-Room Scene. This 
was laid in Bath, and contains the germ of some The gian- 
of the gossip later developed in the School for ^^rers 
Scandal. Perhaps simultaneously, Sheridan worked on short 
scenes for two other plays, "one," says Sichel, "satirizing an 
ill-assorted match, the other a melodramatic comedy of 
jealousy and intrigue." The first is notable as a rough 
sketch for the Teazles, though it furnished others of the 
principal characters later worked out in The School for 
Scandal. The second is the real nucleus of this drama, and 
the embrj^o of many of its epigrams. It is known as the 

"Clerimont" fragment, from the name of its _,. ,,_, 

^ The Cler- 

principal character^ (the precursor of Joseph imont" 
Surface), and introduces other characters which 

1 The Public Advertiser, November 1, 1779. Cited by Professor 

2 This is reprinted in Sichel's Sheridan. 

5 The name Clerimont appears in Steele's The Tender Husband 
and in Gibber's The Double Gallant. In discarding it, Sheridan 
evidenced a desire not to be accused of borrowing from the senti- 


figure in the full-fledged play. Their names, however, were 
for the most part, not those finally selected by Sheridan; the 
contrasted brothers, for example, being successively the 
"Plausibles," the "Pliants," and the "Pliables"; the name 
"Surface" came from an unfinished play by Sheridan's 
mother, A Journey to Bath. Professor Brander Matthews 
notes that there the character, an innkeeper, is "a scandal- 
monger who hates scandal." In The School for Scandal, it 
was at first the younger brother who played the hypocrite. 

With the fusion of these two fragments, the evolution of 
The School for Scandal made marked progress. The screen 
Final devel- Scene and the auction scene were devised, the 
opment toasting song was added, and the play expanded 
from two acts to five. Sheridan constantly rearranged and 
polished his lines, altered and developed his characters, and 
revised his scenes. This process extended over some nine- 
teen years, ^ as Sheridan told Wilkes the publisher; and even 
then, the dramatist found it impossible to satisfy himself. 

There is a well-known story that even up to the time of the 
rehearsals, the actors were kept waiting for their parts. On 
the final leaf, Sheridan scrawled "Finished at last, .thank 
God!" and the prompter added, "Amen!" Sheridan himself 
supervised the casting of the parts and the rehearsals. On 
the night preceding its first performance, petty politics 
nearly caused its postponement. "A city election for the 
office of Chamberlain was in progress," writes Sichel, "and 
Wilkes was the anti-ministerial candidate. He was opposed 
by 'vulture' Hopkins — a merchant who also lent money to 
minors. The Government, apprehensive that the satire on usury 
(in the part of Moses) might favor Wilkes, brought influence 
to bear, and stopped the license at the last moment. Sheridan, 
however, at once saw Lord Hertford, then Lord Chamberlain, 
who laughed at the affair and accorded the permission." 

The School for Scandal was first presented at the Drury 
Lane Theatre on May 8, 1777. Unlike The Rivals, it was at 
First per- once received with the greatest enthusiasm. The 
lormance dramatic critics were unanimous in their approval. 

• Compare the impression gained by one of the contemporary 
reviewers, page xxxiii. 


Here and there a wit or a scholar, jealous or carping, proved 
an exception; one querulously asked, "Why don't all these 
people leave off talking, and let the play begin?" Another 
objected to one or two characters disconnected with the plot. 
At an early performance, a rival dramatist, Curo.berland, 
whose tragedy. The Battle of Hastings, was playing without 
success at another theatre, whispered to his children: "There 
is nothing to laugh at, my little angels; keep scill, you little 
dunces! " When this was reported to Sheride i, he remarked 
that "it was ungrateful of Cumberland, '/ have been dis- 
pleased with his children for laughing , my comedy; for 
when I went to see his tragedy, I laughed from beginning to 

No small part of the success of The School for Scandal 
was due to the excellent cast. Sheridan had kept each of 
the performers in mind during his final retouching of the 
play. "Amid the mortifying circumstances attendant upon 
growing old," wrote Charles Lamb,i "it was something to 
have seen The School for Scandal in its glory. . . . No 
piece was ever so completely cast as this Manager's Com- 
edy." Walpole called the play a "marvelous resurrec- 
tion of the stage" and wrote that in it "there were more 
parts performed admirably than I almost ever saw in any 

The School for Scandal ran until the close of the season, 
some twenty nights, and was presented sixty-five times 
during the following season. In 1779, when it was played 
three times a week, the treasurer of Drury Lane noted in 
his records that it "damped the new pieces." 

Upon other significant and interesting phases of the 
play's history, we may quote Sichel : — 

"Even before Sheridan entered Parliament, his great 
comedy was complimented by becoming at once a vehicle 
for party satire and a target of personal abuse. Skits and 
In 1779, under its own name and with a mock upon the 
dedication to Tickell, it was used to mock Lord scandal 
North; in 1784 — an even rarer example — to deride the 

' In his essay Artificial Comedy of the Last Century. See page 



-Coalition; * and in 1780, when Sheridan had just taken his 
seat for Stafford on the side of the extreme reformers, it 
evoked a smart lampoon entitled ' An Epistle from Joseph 
Surface, Esq., to Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq., of Great 
Queen Street." ^ Throughout his career Sheridan was as- 
sailed as Charles or Joseph Surface, or as both, while a 
piquancy was added to these assaults by the fact that he 
stubbornly refused to authorize any English edition of the 
text and only' iresented his friends with transcripts. ^ Two 
reasons seem to "'.ve prompted this action. At the outset he 
was keen to prev>,' i, the unajithorized performances which a 
printed edition would enable, *vhile later on he could never 
content himself with its form, which he continued to prune 
and polish. The received version dates from Moore's edition 
of 1821 and Leigh Hunt's of 1840, both of which were based 
on the six Dublin editions which appeared between 1778 and 
1787, and three London ones, pirated in 1788, 1797, and 
1798. These editions stereotyped the style, which it is still 
said cannot be changed in any leading passage without spoil- 
ing the dramatic effect of the whole. 

"The history of the Dublin versions and of the comedy's 
debut at the Smock Alley Theatre has been left in obscurity 
The Dublin but here contemporary newspapers assist us. 
versions ^ 'Dublin Letter' in the Public Advertiser of 
January 31, 1778, tells us that 'Miss Sheridan, sister of the 
manager of Drury Lane, being presented by her brother 
with a copy of The School for Scandal, that lady lately sold 
the copy to Mr. Ryder, our manager, for 100 guineas, in 

1 " The School for Scandal, A Comedy in Five Acts, As it is per- 
formed by His Majesty's Servants, etc. Never before printed. 
London: Printed for G. Lester, No. 46, Old Bailey." The earlier 
satire is: "The School for Scandal, A Comedy. London: Sold by 
S. Bladon, Pater-noster-row, and L Thresher, No. 38, Manchester 

There was also published a parody on The School for Scandal, 
which has sometimes been mistaken for an edition of the drama 
itself: "The Real and Genuine School for Scandal. Written by 
Brinsley Sheridan, Esq. London, 1783." 

2 "London. Printed for G. Kearsley, No. 46, in Fleet Street 
(Price One Shilling and Six Pence)." This squib is exceedingly rare. 

* In a letter to his second wife, he implies that he had never 
sanctioned an English impression. 


consequence of which he brought it out last week.' The 
first two nights, it continued, were crowded, but on the 
third the throng assembled 'would have made five audi- 
ences,' and so impatient were they that they battered in the 
doors. A long run, it adds, was now assured, and the ' miser- 
able prospect ' of the theatre turned into a golden ' harvest.* 
The text then acted for the first time was presumably an 
undated edition by 'J. Ewing, Dubhn,' published probably 
in 1779 or 1780, and the sole Irish issue that contains a list 
of errata. Further editions followed in 1781, 1782, 1785, 1786, 
and 1787, but there can be small doubt that Ewing's edition is 
the first imprint of the comedy." 



The Town and Country Magazine. May, 1777 

Since our last a new comedy, under the title of the 
SCHOOL for SCANDAL, (written by Mr. Sheridan,) has 
been performed several successive times at Drury-lane 
Theatre, with uncommon applause. [Here follows a list of 
the cast.] 

The chie£_satire of this piece is pointed against hypocrisy 
and scandal, in which the author displays great genius, wit, 
and observation. His characters are finely drawn with a 
masterly pencil, and have strong marks of originality. [An 
outline of the play follow^.] 

Such is the outline of this excellent comedy, which is 
certainly the best that has appeared upon our stage since 
the time of Congreve and Vanbrugh. The characters, as has 
already been observed, are happily drawn. The satire is just 
and new. The situations are well conceived. In a word, we 
think Mr. Sheridan deserves all the praise he has received, 
and all the emoluments that may arise to him from this com- 
edy, which bids fair to be as great a favourite of the town as 
his Duenna. 


The Public Advertiser, May 9, 1777 

The Persons of the Drama have all of them something 
particular marked in their Characters, and is admirably well 
sustained throughout. The Satire is forcible, and in many 
Places as severe as Comedy can admit of. The Situations 
are so powerfully conceived, that little is left for the Per- 
formers to do, in Order to produce what is called Stage Effect; 
and the Circumstance of the Screen and Closet in the fourth 
Effect, produced a Burst of Applause beyond any Thing ever 
heard perhaps in a Theatre. With such Support it is need- 
less to add that the whole was received with an extravagant 
Warmth of Approbation, which seemed to show that a gener- 
ous British Audience will still overpay the strongest efforts 
of Genius. 

The London Chronicle, May 8-10, 1777 

The School for Scandal is the production of Mr. Sheridan, 
and is an additional proof of that gentleman's great abilities 
as a dramatic writer. The object of the satire is two-fold — 
detraction and hj^jocrisy, which are the prevailing vices of 
the times ; by the first the good are reduced to a level with 
the worthless, and by means of the second, the latter assume 
the appearance of men of virtue and sentiment. Nothing, 
therefore, could have been more seasonable than this comedy, 
which, in point of execution, is equal, if not superior, to most 
of the plays produced for the last twenty years. The charac- 
ters are drawn with a bold pencil, ^nd coloured with warmth 
and spirit. The two principals, Joseph and Charles Surface, 
are the Blifil and Tom Jones of the piece. . . . 

The dialogue of this comedy is easy and witty. It abounds 
with strokes of pointed satire, and a rich vein of humour per- 
vades the whole, rendering it equally interesting and enter- 
taining. The fable is well conducted, and the incidents are 
managed with great judgment. There hardly ever was a 
better dramatic situation than that which occurs in the 
fourth act, where Sir Peter discovers Lady Teazle in Joseph 
Surface's study. The two characters of the brothers are finely 
contrasted, and those of the Scandal Club well imagined. . . . 


Upon the whole, The School for iScandaZ justifies the very great 
and cordial reception it met with; it certainly is a good com- 
edy, and we should not at all wonder if it becomes as great a 
favorite as The Duenna, to which it is infinitely superior in 
point of sense, satire, and moral. 

The Town and Country Magazine, June, 1777 

[A Communication to the department designated " The Man of 

In this age of scandal and defamation it is astonishing that 
the late comedy met with such uncommon success. It is 
true that this piece has considerable merit; there are many 
bold and masterly strokes in it of genuine wit and real 
humour; the characters are well sustained, and two of them 
happily contrasted; the denumenl is natural, and the catas- 
trophe agreeable to poetical justice. These essential merits 
of the comedy carried it through with great applause, not- 
withstanding the present rapacious taste of the world for 
scandal. But now the run is over, and the season at an end, 
a few remarks upon some of the situations cannot be con- 
sidered as invidious. The sham-auction is a device out of 
nature, and no where to be paralleled. If the author thought 
an auction of use to introduce a few witticisms, a real sale, 
that is a public one, would have answered his purpose full 
as well, and furnished him with more opportunities of being 
clever, from a diversity of characters than from one or two. 
The screen scene has a good effect on the one hand, but is ex- 
tremely unnatural upon the falling of it, to discover the lady, 
stuck up like a statue, without the least motion or emotions 
of surprize, or fright, upon her discovery in that situation; 
after she had expressed so much terror and apprehension be- 
fore her detection. Joseph's quitting the room upon so trifling 
an errand, when the lady's reputation and his own were at 
stake, seems forced and incredible, especially as he leaves her 
husband and his brother Charles in the room, whose dispo- 
sition for intrigue and mischief he is well acquainted with. 
Some other inconsistencies might be pointed out, which prob- 
ably will occur to the author in his leisure moments, when he 
has time to revise a piece got up in a great hurry; and we 


may, therefore, expect that upon its representation again 
next season, a more perfect production will be offered to the 

These hints are not thrown out with any malicious intent 
to depreciate the merits of the author, whose abilities the 
writer of this letter holds in high estimation; but to point 
out to him some visible defects, which his friends are either 
too blind to see, or too partial to intimate to him. 

The Gentleman's Magazine, February, 1778 
[A Communication.] 

[The School for Scandal is] a play which is at least as 
defective in morality, as abundant in wit; and more danger- 
ous to the manners of society, than it can possibly tend to 
promote its pleasure. 

Affection of Sentiment, and love for scandal, are the 
foibles satirized by this comedy: the former is not a 
reigning vice of the times; on the contrary, a shameless 
depravity of disposition, which glories in the faults it 
commits, gains ground every day, and that unblushing 
impudence which formerly characterized the veteran in 
iniquity, may now be found in a school-boy. . . . 

Lady Teazle is certainly more likely to excite imitation 
than disgust. ... In comparing these two characters [i.e., 
Joseph and Charles] I do not contend for the merit of 
Joseph, but I wish to show that there is not that balance 
in favor of Charles which there ought to be for the exem-plary 
character in a piece when weighed against him who is ex- 
hibited as an object of unlimited aversion. . . . 

It has been said that this is a second attempt to destroy 
the taste for sentimental comedy revived by Mr. Cumber- 
land. It will be readily acknowledged, that the plays of 
that gentleman may tend to produce an affectation of senti- 
ment; but it is better to affect sentiment than vice: and 
Mr. Cumberland has judiciously executed the whole duty 
of an author, which is, not onhj to paint nature, but to paint 
such parts of it, as every good man would wish to see 



1. Lamb's Criticism ^ 

Amidst the mortifying circumstances attendant upon 
growing old, it is something to have seen The School for 
Scandal in its glory. This comedy grew out of Congreve and 
Wycherley, but gathered some allays of the sentimental 
comedy which followed theirs. It is impossible that it should 
be now acted, though it continues, at long intervals, to be 
announced in the bills. Its hero, when Palmer played it at 
least, was Joseph Surface. When I remember the gay bold- 
ness, the graceful solemn plausibility, the measured step, 
the insinuating voice — to express it in a word the down- 
right acted villany of the part, so different from the pressure 
of conscious actual wickedness, — the hypocritical as- 
sumption of hypocrisy, — which made Jack so deservedly 
a favourite in that character, I must needs conclude the 
present generation of playgoers more virtuous than myself, 
or more dense. I freely confess that he divided the palm 
with me with his better brother; that, in fact, I liked him 
quite as well. Not but there are passages, — like that, for 
instance, where Joseph is made to refuse a pittance to a 
poor relation — incongruities which Sheridan was forced 
upon by the attempt to join the artificial with the senti- 
mental comedy, either of which must destroy the other — 
but over these obstructions Jack's manner floated him so 
lightly, that a refusal from him no more shocked you, than 
the easy compliance of Charles gave you in reality any 
pleasure; you got over the paltry question as quickly as 
you could, to get back into the regions of pure comedy, 
where no cold moral reigns. The highly artificial manner of 
Palmer in this character counteracted every disagreeable 
impression which you might have received from the contrast, 
supposing them real, between the two brothers. You did not 
believe in Joseph with the same faith with which you be- 
' From The Artificial Comedy of the Last Century. 


lieved in Charles. The latter was a pleasant reality, the 
former a no less pleasant poetical foil to it. The comedy, I 
have said, is incongruous; a mixture of Congreve with sen- 
timental incompatibilities; the gaiety upon the whole is 
buoyant; but it required the consummate art of Palmer to 
reconcile the discordant elements. 

A player with Jack's talents, if we had one now, would 
not dare to do the part in the same manner. He would in- 
stinctively avoid every turn which might tend to unrealise 
and so to make the character fascinating. He must take his 
cue from his spectators, who would expect a bad man and a 
good man as rigidly opposed to each other as the death-beds 
of those geniuses are contrasted in the prints, which I am 
sorry to say have disappeared from the windows of my old 
friend Carrington Bowles, of St. Paul's Churchyard memory 
— (an exhibition as venerable as the adjacent cathedral, and 
almost coeval) of the bad and good man at the hour of death; 
where the ghastly apprehensions of the former, — and truly 
the grim phantom with his reality of a toasting fork is not 
to be despised, — so finely contrast with the meek com- 
placent kissing of the rod, — taking it in like honey and 
butter, — with which the latter submits to the scythe of 
the gentler bleeder, Time, who wields his lancet with the 
apprehensive finger of a popular young ladies' surgeon. 
What flesh, hke loving grass, would not covet to meet half- 
way the stroke of such a delicate mower ? — John Palmer 
was twice an actor in this exquisite part. He was playing to 
you all the while that he was playing upon Sir Peter and his 
lady. You had the first intimation of a sentiment before it 
was on his lips. His altered voice was meant to you, and 
you were to suppose that his fictitious co-flutterers on the 
stage perceived nothing at all of it. What was it to you if 
that half-reality, the husband, was over-reached by the 
puppetry — or the thin thing (Lady Teazle's reputation) 
was persuaded it was dying of a plethory ? The fortunes of 
Othello and Desdemona were not concerned in it. Poor 
Jack has passed from the stage in good time, that he did not 
live to this our age of seriousness. The pleasant old Teazle 
King, too, is gone in good time. His manner would scarce 


have past current in our day. We must love or hate — 
acquit or condemn — censure or pity — exert our detesta- 
ble coxcombry of moral judgment upon everything. Joseph 
Surface, to go down now, must be a downright revolting 
villain — no compromise — his first appearance must shock 
and give horror — his specious plausibilities, which the 
pleasurable faculties of our fathers welcomed with such 
hearty greetings, knowing that no harm (dramatic harm 
even) could come, or was meant to come of them, must 
inspire a cold and killing aversion. Charles (the real canting 
person of the scene — for the hypocrisy of Joseph has its 
ulterior legitimate ends, but his brother's professions of a 
good heart centre in downright self-satisfaction) must be 
loved, and Joseph hated. To balance one disagreeable reality 
with another, Sir Peter Teazle must be no longer the comic 
idea of a fretful old bachelor bridegroom, whose teasings 
(while King acted it) were evidently as much played off at 
you, as they were meant to concern anybodj^ on the stage, 
— he must be a real person, capable in law of sustaining an 
injury — a person towards whom duties are to be acknowl- 
edged — the genuine erim-con antagonist of the villanous 
seducer Joseph. To realise him more, his sufferings under his 
unfortunate match must have the downright pungency 
of life — must (or should) make you not mirthful but un- 
comfortable, just as the same predicament would move 
you in a neighbor or old friend. The delicious scenes which 
give the play its name and zest, must affect you in the 
same serious manner as if you heard the reputation of a 
dear female friend attacked in your real presence. Crabtree, 
and Sir Benjamin — those poor snakes that live but in the 
sunshine of j^our mirth — must be ripened by this hot-bed 
process of realisation into asps or amphisbaenas ; and Mrs. 
Candour — 0! frightful! become a hooded serpent. Oh who 
that remembers Parsons and Dodd — the wasp and butter- 
fly of The School for Scandal — in those two characters; 
and charming natural Miss Pope, the perfect gentlewoman 
as distinguished from the fine lady of comedy, in this latter 
part — would forego the true scenic delight — the escape 
from life — the oblivion of consequences — the holiday 


barring out of the pedant Reflection — those Satumaha of 
two or three brief hours, well won from the world — to sit 
instead at one of our modern plays — to have his coward 
conscience (that forsooth must not be left for a moment) 
stimulated with perpetual appeals — dulled rather, and 
blunted, as a faculty without repose must be — and his 
moral vanity pampered with images of notional justice, 
notional beneficences, lives saved without the spectators' 
risk, and fortunes given away that cost the author nothing ? 

2. Hazlitt's Criticism ^ 

Mr. Sheridan has been justly called "a dramatic star of 
the first magnitude " ; and, indeed, among the comic writers of 
the last century, he "shines like Hesperus among the lesser 
lights." ... If some of the characters in The School for 
Scandal were contained in Murphy's comedy of Know your 
own Mind (and certainly some of Dashwood's detached 
speeches and satirical sketches are written with quite as 
firm and masterly a hand as any of those given to the 
members of the scandalous club, Mrs. Candour or Lady 
Sneerwell), yet they were buried in it for want of grouping 
and relief, like the colours of a well-drawn picture sunk in 
the canvas. Sheridan brought them out, and exhibited 
them in all their glory. If that gem, the character of Joseph 
Surface, was Murphy's, the splendid and more valuable 
setting was Sheridan's. He took Murphy's Malvil from 
his lurking-place in the closet, and ' dragged the struggling 
monster into day' upon the stage. That is, he gave interest, 
life, and action, or, in other words, its dramatic being, to the 
mere conception and written specimens of a character. This 
is the merit of Sheridan's coniedics, that every thing in them 
tells; there is no labour in vain. His Comic Muse does not 
go about prying into obscure corners, or collecting idle curi- 
osities, but shews her laughing face, and points to her rich 
treasure — the follies of mankind. She is garlanded and 
crowned with roses and vine-leaves. Her eyes sparkle with 
delight, and her heart runs over with good-natured malice. 

> From On the Comic Writers of the Last Century. 


Her step is firm and light, and her ornaments consummate! 
The School for Scandal is, if not the most original, perhaps 
the most finished and faultless comedy which we have. 
When it is acted, you hear people all around you exclaiming, 
"Surely it is impossible for any thing to be cleverer." The 
scene in which Charles sells all the old family pictures but 
his uncle's, who is the purchaser in disguise, and that of the 
discovery of Lady Teazle when the screen falls, are among 
the happiest and most highly wrought that comedy, in its 
wide and brilliant range, can boast. Besides the wit and in- 
genuity of this play, there is a genial spirit of frankness and 
generosity about it, that relieves the heart as well as clears 
the lungs. It professes a faith in the natural goodness, as 
well as habitual depravity of human nature. While it strips 
off the mask of hypocrisy, it inspires a confidence between 
man and man. As often as it is acted, it must serve to clear 
the air of that low, creeping, pestilent fog of cant and 
mysticism, which threatens to confound every native im- 
pulse, or honest conviction, in the nauseous belief of a 
perpetual lie, and the laudable profession of systematic 

3. Taine's Criticism^ 

In Sheridan, the playwright is also a man of letters; if, 
through mere animal and social spirit, he wished to amuse 
others and to amuse himself, he does not forget the interests 
of his talent and the care for his reputation. He has taste, 
he appreciates the refinements of style, the worth of a new 
image, of a striking contrast, of a witty and well-considered 
insinuation. He has, above all, wit, a wonderful conversa- 
tional wit, the art of rousing and sustaining the attention, 
of being biting, varied, of taking his hearers unawares, of 
throwing in a repartee, of setting folly in reUef , of accumu- 
lating one after another witticisms and happy phrases. He 
brought himself to perfection subsequently to his first play, 
having acquired theatrical experience, writing and erasing; 
trying various scenes, recasting, arranging them; his desire 

1 From A History of English Literature. Translated by H. Van 


was that nothing should arrest the interest, no improbabihty 
shock the spectator; that his comedy might ghde on with the 
precision, certainty, uniformity of a good machine. This 
kind of writing, artificial and condensed as the satires of 
La Bruyere, is like a cut phial, into which the author has dis- 
tilled all his reflections, his reading, his wit, without keeping 
anything for himself. 

What is there in this celebrated School for Scandal ? And 
how is it that it has cast upon English comedy, which day by 
day was being more and more forgotten, the radiance of a 
last success? Sheridan took two characters from Fielding, 
Blifil and Tom Jones; two plays of Moliere, Le Misanthrope 
and Tartuffe; and from these puissant materials, condensed 
with admirable cleverness, he has constructed the most 
brilliant firework imaginable. Moliere has only one female 
slanderer, C^limene; the other characters serve only to give 
her a cue: there is quite enough of such a jeering woman; she 
rails on within certain bounds, without hurry, like a true 
queen of the drawing-room, who has time to converse, who 
knows that she is listened to, who listens to herself: she is a 
woman of society, who preserves the tone of refined conver- 
sation; and in order to smooth down the harshness, her 
slanders are interrupted by the calm reason and sensible 
discourse of the amiable Eliante. Moliere represents the 
malice of the world without exaggeration; but in Sheridan 
they are rather caricatured than depicted. "Ladies, your 
servants," says Sir Peter; "mercy upon me! The whole set 
— a character dead at every sentence." In fact, they are fero- 
cious : it is a regular quarry ; they even befoul one another, 
to deepen the outrage. ^ Their animosity is so bitter that 
they lower themselves to play the part of buffoons. The 
most elegant person in the room, Lady Teazle, shows her 
teeth to ape a ridiculous lady, draws her mouth on one side, 
and makes faces. There is no pause, no softening; sarcasms 
fly about like pistol-shots. The author had laid in a stock, 
he had to use them up. He himself is speaking through the 
mouth of each of his characters ; he gives them all the same 
wit, that is his own, his irony, his harshness, his pictiu^esque 
» Act I, Scene i, lines 280-93. 


vigour; whatever they are, clowns, fops, old maids, no 
matter, the author's main business is to break out into 
twenty explosions in a minute. * In this manner has he 
pointed, multiplied, driven in to the quick the measured 
epigrams of Moliere. And yet is it possible to grow weary of 
such a well-sustained discharge of malice and witticisms? 

Observe also the change which the hypocrite undergoes 
under Sheridan's treatment. Doubtless all the grandeur dis- 
appears from the part. Joseph Surface does not uphold, like 
Tartuffe, the interest of the comedy; he does not possess, 
like his ancestor, the nature of a cad, the boldness of a man 
of action, the manners of a beadle, the neck and shoulders of 
a monk. He is merely selfish and cautious; if he is engaged 
in an intrigue, it is rather against his will; he is only half- 
hearted in the matter, like a correct young man, well dressed, 
with a fair income, timorous and fastidious by nature, dis- 
creet in manners, and without violent passions; all about 
him is soft and polished, he takes his tone from the times, 
he makes no display of religion, though he does of morality; 
he is a man of measured speech, of lofty sentiments, a dis- 
ciple of Dr. Johnson or of Rousseau, a dealer in set phrases. 
There is nothing on which to construct a drama in this 
commonplace person; and the fine situations which Sheridan 
takes from Moliere lose half their force through depending 
on such pitiful support. But how this insufficiency is covered 
by the quickness, abundance, naturalness of the incidents! 
how skill makes up for ever>i;hing! how it seems capable of 
supplying everything! even genius! how the spectator 
laughs to see Joseph caught in his sanctuary like a fox in his 
hole; obliged to hide the wife, then to conceal the husband; 
forced to run from the one to the other; busy in hiding the 
one behind the screen, and the other in his closet; reduced, 
in casting himself into his own snares, in justifying those 
whom he wished to ruin, the husband in the eyes of the 
wife, the nephew in the eyes of the uncle, to ruin the only 
man whom he mshed to justify, namely, the precious and 
immaculate Joseph Surface; to tiu-n out in the end ridicu- 

' For example. Act i, Scene i, lines 427-50; Act i, Scene i, lines 
471-87; Act ii, Scene ii, lines 158-78. 


lous, odious, baffled, confounded, in spite of his adroitness, 
even by reason of his adroitness, step by step, without quar- 
ter or remedy; to sneak off, poor fox, with his tail between 
his legs, his skin spoiled, amid hootings and laughter! And 
how, at the same time, side by side with this, the naggings 
of Sir Peter and his wife, the suppers, songs, the picture 
sale at the spendthrift's house, weave a comedy in a com- 
edy, and renew the interest by renewing the attention! 
We cease to think of the meagreness of the characters, as 
we cease to think of the deviation from truth; we are 
willingly carried away by the vivacity of the action, daz- 
zled by the brilliancy of the dialogue; we are charmed, 
applaud; admit that, after all, next to great inventive 
faculty, animation and wit are the most agreeable gifts in 
the world; we appreciate them in their season, and find that 
they also have their place in the literary banquet; and that 
if they are not worth as much as the substantial joints, the 
natural and generous wines of the first course, at least they 
furnish the dessert, 

4. Sichel's Criticism * 

The most obvious fact about The School for Scandal is its 
life and longevity. No old English comedy since Shakespeare 
Sh id ^^^ worn so well. This is not due merely to its 

and blaze of wit, still less to its local colour. Some- 

° thing elemental must reside in a work that lasts in 

differing countries and centuries with undimned lustre, and 
persists both as literature and on the stage. Congreve's wit 
has not so persevered, though there is a freshness about it 
even when it languishes in his hot-house world. The reason 
is obvious. Congreve is a spectator, he stands aloof from 
his own creations, arranges, criticises, disposes, eyes them 
like a connoisseur. He is the arbiter of superb elegance, in- 
accessible to the vulgar; and his wit is an icicle — in his one 
lurid comedy. The Double Dealer, an iceberg. On neither side 
can Sheridan approach him. But Sheridan's wit is even more 
salient and infinitely more joyous. The sunshine dances 

* Abridged from W. Sichel's Sheridan, i, chap, xi, pages 552-88. 


across its facets, and the play of human nature lies, as 
Sir Henry Irving insisted, at the root of his charm. Sheri- 
dan never keeps his characters at a distance ; he laughs with 
and at them. While Congreve sits in state with crown and 
sceptre, Sheridan jests with his merry court around him; 
while Congreve never errs, Sheridan heightens his effects by 
mistakes; Congreve is infallible, but Sheridan is rebellious — 
the protestant of polished comedy. Compared with Gold- 
smith, Sheridan is cold; compared with Congreve, he is 
warm and sociable. His sympathy, no doubt, springs more 
from the head than the heart; but it is sympathy, and a 
sympathy which Congreve lacks. The School is more than 
a "Congreve rocket." 

It is customary to thinlc of it merely as a comedy of wit 
with conventional types for its mouthpiece, as a young 
man's play, drawn more from books than from men. The 
assumption is easy, but a little study will soon disprove it. 
True, its theme is ancient, older than civilization, as old, 
indeed, as the sixty-fourth psalm, while the contrasted 
brothers hark back to Jacob and Esau. Nor, as an episode, 
was it new to the stage. A strain of scandal enters into all 
the early comedies where coxcombs are prominent, for 
"raillery," says Congreve, "is the best qualification in a 
woman's man." Scandalmongering intersperses and enlivens 
his Old Bachelor, Wmj of the World, and Double Dealer, — a 
play which afforded old Sheridan a favourite part and which 
his son revived at Drury Lane. Clarissa in Vanbrugh's 
Confederacy, Ohvia in Wycherley's Plain Dealer, carry on 
the tradition of feminine slander. Slander occurs in Moliere's 
Misanthrope and prompted a famous passage in Beaumarchais 
Figaro, The School for Scandal's junior by seven years. 

But Sheridan was the first to make scandal the sustained 
motive of a complete play. The scandalous college creates 
Lady Teazle's flirtations and Sir Peter's jealousy. Anew 
The dread of it well-nigh seduces its licentiate S®^^™* 
froin her frivolous innocence when she is taught tiieme 
to "sin in her own defence and part with her virtue to pre- 
serve her reputation." And every variety of scandal is pre- 
sented, from its butterfly to its wasp, from the votaries, like 


Mrs. Candour, who kill time and reputations at once, to the 
villains who trade on it, — one out of revenge, another from 
cunning, and a third for a livelihood. The very sentence 
which shocked the Parisian taste by adding a wish for widow- 
hood to Lady Teazle's bickerings with her husband — a 
sentence erased by Sheridan — is in keeping with the situa- 
tion. It betokens the wreck of all finer feeling by assassins 
who would fain strip their victim, "though he is your 
brother, and the light sacrifice of her better self to her desire 
to shine in repartee." How changed her voice sounds when 
the awakening comes, and Joseph exclaims, "The woman is 
mad! " " No, sir, she has recovered her senses, and your own 
arts have furnished her with the means. Sir Peter, I do not 
expect you to credit me, but the tenderness you expressed 
for me when you could not think I was a witness to it, has so 
penetrated to my heart that had I left this place without the 
shame of this discovery, my future life should have spoken 
the sincerity of my gratitude." To such soft spots as these, 
— and there are others, — to the lights and shades of char- 
acter around them, our eyes are blinded by the glare of uni- 
form wit; and this Sheridan recognised as being the main 
fault of the whole. But if its leading persons be analysed it 
will be found that they are by no means the figure-heads of 

Joseph Surface is not the conventional stage hypocrite, nor 
is he a Tartuffe, the sole monster in the gallery of Moliere, 
Joseph Tartuffe is a red-faced, sanctimonious ruffian, 
Suriace cowing a superstitious household beyond the 
Tartuffe bounds either of his unction or of their credulity. 
Such was not Sheridan's view or experience of humbugs 
in excelsis. Tartuffe is a savage. Surface is the lago of 
comedy, a polished schemer with a persuasive tongue. But 
he is more than plausible. As M. Taine has pointed out, he 
is sad and tender to excess, "with an air serious and noble." 
, "He lays his hand on his heart, tears are in his eyes, and a 
flood of fine sentences on his lips, while he smirches his 
brother's good name and attempts the honour of his neigh- 
bour's wife." The rhetoric that conveys his assumed senti- 
mentality has grown into a habit. It has become almost 


natural, and at the very opening he airs ifr on the confeder- 
ate who is obUged to remind him that he is " aviiong friends." 
Tartuffe is farouche and resemloles the vulgar fiend of a 
mystery-play, but the insinuating Joseph is mc^re like a 
comic version of Milton's Belial. Moliere's pietiiL^, like 
Dickens's Chadband, is satirised only from the oufeide; 
Sheridan's casuist is a far subtler conception. 

And there is another trait which has been overlooked> 
What Joseph really worships is reputation. He worships it 
more than the pleasure which it veils, and he wor- j^gg-ji-g 
ships it so much that he loses sight of character worship of 
altogether; indeed, he regrets that his character is ^^^^ ^ 
so good that "he doubts he will be exposed at last." To be 
thought good is his ideal, but he is unable to be so, and so 
his spurious respectability goes to pieces through the only 
bit of unmixed nature about him, his real infatuation for 
Lady Teazle. It is this which dupes him into remaining Lady 
Sneerwell's unwitting tool, though he hoodwinks even her 
regarding Lady Teazle, and Lady Teazle, in the matter of 
Maria. He sets out to win Maria's fortune, meets with the 
other on the road, and ends by a self-betrayal. His love of 
appearances becomes his Nemesis, and so true is he to life 
that Madame de Genlis ^ was at once named "Josephine 
Surface." His "sentiments" bear the same relation to senti- 
ment that coxcombry does to breeding, or flirtation to love. 
Demure and smooth, he clings to them even when the game 
is up, and the soft effrontery of his farewell is inimitable: 
"Sir, I am so confounded to find that Lady Sneerwell could 
be guilty of suborning Mr. Snake in this manner, to impose 
on us all, that I know not what to say. However, lest her 
revengeful spirit should prompt her to injure my brother, I 
had certainly better follow her directly. For the man who 
attempts — " 

> A noted French novelist, dramatist, and writer of memoirs. 
She wrote voluminously during the Revolution. Her style is marked 
by clever sarcasm and witty persiflage. Cf. Saint-Beuve, Causcries, 
III. In 1792 Sheridan gave a fete in her honor and that of " Pamela " 
(later Lady Edward Fitzgerald) at Islesworth. Here it is said, Sheri- 
dan's own "distresses" required the services of bailiffs — whom he 
induced to pass the ices. Cf. Sir Benjamin Backbite's slur upon 
Charles Surface, Act i, Scene i, line 407. 

xlvi Yntroduction 

I have alread}^' said that Joseph is a hypocrite in a senti- 
mental suit, yi'tie real sentimentalist is Charles Surface — 
Charles's S^ftcridan, Tom Jones, who you will, at a period 
sentimen- / when generosity and good intentions were called 
Benevolence, and Prudence, " clinging to the green 
suckers of youth" like "ivy round a sapling," was held to 
spoil "the growth of the tree." Saws like "Boys will be 
boys" and "the reformed rake" would seem to offer but 
scant pasturage for sentimentalism, but Charles's senti- 
mentality is patent. It colours his affection for the portrait 
of "that ill-looking little fellow over the settee"; it rings in 
his parting words ". . . You shall be my monitor — my 
gentle guide. — Ah! can I leave the virtuous path those eyes 
illumine?" It is the ground for his acquisition of the family 
house from Joseph. It leavens the whole crop of his wild 
oats, and backs all his easy virtue and loose morality. So 
long as a young man does nothing "false or mean," despises 
the money which he dissipates, lavishes alms on distress, and 
makes no sham professions, he is estimable, and estimable 
because these qualities hold the seeds of something better. 
Such is Charles Surface in a play that was originally senti- 
mental, and such is Sheridan's ideal of a good fellow. No one 
for a moment supposes that after marriage Charles will drop 
his motto of "Damn your economy" any more than that 
Joseph after his detection will cease to be taunted with 
"Damn your sentiments." 

If Joseph cants dishonestly from worship of the world's 
opinion, Charles also cants honestly in his airy bravado. 
The one pretends to virtue, the other — 

"Compounds for sins he has a mind to 
By damning those he's not inclined to." 

In one point, however, the critics have wronged the 
libertine. The man who has "often given grounds of un- 
easiness" to so many "worthy men" has been called heart- 
less for his bewildered irony when the screen falls. But the 
circumstances warrant it. Not only is Charles puzzled, but 
he has long been traduced by every actor in that memorable 
scene. At that moment be believes that his guardian has 
played eavesdropper, and he knows that his brother is a 


traitor contriving his ruin. Lady Teazle stands abashed, the 
damni'ig evidence of what he is unwilling to suspect. Is it 
cruel in him then to burst out and mock the conspirators ere 
he r.iakes his exit? " Egad, you all seem to have been divert- 
ing yourselves here at hide and seek, and I don't see who is 
out of the secret. Shall I beg your ladyship to inform me? 
Not a word ! — Brother, will you be pleased to explain this 
matter? What! is Morality dumb too? — Sir Peter, though 
I found you in the dark, perhaps you are not so 7ioio! All 
mute! — Well — though / can make nothing of the affair, I 
suppose you perfectly understand one another, so I will leave 
you to yourselves. Brother, I 'm sorry to find you have given 
that worthy man grounds for so much uneasiness. Sir Peter! 
There 's nothing in the world so noble as a man of sentiment! " 
Surely Charles is justified. And for Joseph too one plea may 
be urged. Charles's vaguely-hinted gallantries lurk wholly in 
the background, while of Joseph's prim profligacy we hear no 
end. This is natural enough, because Charles consorts with 
a set of sporting friends who are unlikely to malign him, and 
he only frequents the scandalous common room for a glimpse 
of Maria. But though this touch is of nature, it is also of art. 
It heightens the antithesis between the two characters and 
our sympathy with the younger. Let Joseph take the benefit 
of our illusion. We should be less shocked at him if we were 
shocked at Charles. 

Lady Teazle, again, is no mere type of a girl yoked to 
ridiculous age like the tame Lady Townley in Colman's best 
comedy, The Provoked Husband. Marrying to ^j^^- 
escape her home boredom, she succumbs to the Teazle 
lure of fashion. All along fashion is her temptress, and in the 
original draft "Jenny" dwells on the fashionableness even 
of her father. To be thought in the mode, she joins the crew 
of caballers, though there is no malice in her impulsive 
composition. Wit, however, does enter into it, and in the 
war of tongues she holds her own with the best of them, as 
the child of nature usually does, and as Sheridan empha- 
sised by a jotting in an early note-book for the play. "Lady 
Teazle," he writes, "has wit, a great virtue" — "tie up the 
knocker of her tpngue," while he adds that "Milady" should 


wear "clothes with the gloss on." She is a country girl 
striving to be a lady of quality, and as such she shoild be 
acted. Fashion makes her blurt out heartless repi^rtees 
which she regrets. Fashion motives her cold coquetries. To 
fashion, her old bachelor of a husband bars the way. She 
listens to Joseph because a cicisbeo is as indispensable to the 
ton as the pair of "white cats" to her carriage and the "bags 
and bouquets" to her footmen. And it is only when accident 
saves her from the brink of catastrophe that she realises how 
nearly all her light flutter has verged on ruin. Her country 
upbringing stands her in good stead when the crisis comes, 
and she shames Joseph by asking, in the finest line of the 
play, whether "honour" is not best left out of his argument. 
This is all Sheridan's own, and the blend in her of art and art- 
lessness, of village hoyden and fine lady, imparts a certain 
smart simplicity, absent from the Mrs. Pinchwell of Wycher- 
ley's Country Wife — that shy ingenue with a despicable 
husband. She too longs for the town, but she covets its 
pleasures and has no pretensions to society; she is farcical — 
a mere marionette in an interlude of intrigue. Lady Teazle, 
on the other hand, is not intrigante at all. Her archness and 
freshness are inexhaustible, and in the whole range of 
comedy there is not a more delightful dialogue than hers 
with her husband when they will " never, never differ again." 
She is queen of the frolic stage, winsome even in disgrace. 
Her very lapses give the impression of scrapes, and her peni- 
tence is an April shower. There is no finality about her. 
Her quick tongue and quicker moods play on the monotony 
of a husband whom they redeem from being a lay figure, and, 
indeed, sometimes render pathetic. 

Sir Peter is a gentleman, every inch of him, and his first 
thought when he emerges from his hiding-place is to excul- 
pate Joseph. His fondness is not that of a dotard, 
nor is he the mere citoyen bafoue of ancient comedy. 
He is fifty, — the equivalent of sixty now, — but though old 
enough to be her father, he is not bewitched by beauty alone. 
She tantalises him. into admiration. "Though I can't make 
her love me, there is great satisfaction in quarrelling with 
her," he soliloquises; "ajid I think she never appears to such 


advantage as when she is doing everything in her power to 
plague me." Their battledore and shuttlecock interchange 
— point on point, as was Sheridan's habit — is not limited 
to repartees; the picture of her country life — a picture that 
smells of lavender — is shared between them. Lady Teazle 
is no bad emblem of the play itself, so elaborate as to seem 
artificial yet, really and underneath, naive — a rustic romp 
schooled to drop a court curtsey; a piece of eglantine, trained 
and transplanted into a -parterre. And their blemishes are the 
same. The comedy is alwaj'^s just going to touch us — and 
then laughs our emotions away. It plays with the passions 
which it introduces, and sometimes deafens their appeal by 
the salvo of its wit. This is owing to its mixed origin, for it 
started as a sentimental melodrama with witty interludes, 
while it ended by almost eliminating the part of Maria. 
None the less it remains a truly human document. 

Such lights and shades mitigate the metallic gleam of the 
play's enamel, and the whole drama is more flexible than it 
seems — a fresh cause for its permanence. More „. . . , 

technical qualities also assist its unfading fresh- technical 

. • skill 

ness. Sheridan is a complete master of stage illu- 
sion. However improbable some of the situations, as, for in- 
stance, the auction-scene and the constant encounters at 
each other's houses of persons the least likely to meet there; 
however dazzling the sameness of the wit, a sameness caused 
by the transference of phrases in the process of composition, 
and absent, be it noted, from the homely characters of Rowley 
and Sir Oliver; however inadequate some of the motives, the 
characterization is natural as we see it represented. It has 
often been said (and Cumberland said so at the time) that 
the hurried exit of Joseph when he leaves Charles alone with 
Sir Peter, and Lady Teazle in ambush, is a clumsy contriv- 
ance. But it does not seem so when the play is acted, nor is 
it really a stage awkwardness. Lady Sneerwell is announced, 
and her presence would have been fatal. Instead of finding 
some excuse to dismiss her — which she would probably have 
overridden — Joseph loses his head, and takes the chance of 
a moment's absence. Moreover, had Lady Sneerwell walked 
up, the telling scenes of the next act, with their stultification 


of rumour, would have been useless, and we should have 
missed their foil to the earlier developments of malice. It has 
been objected that everyone talks, ^ and little happens. But 
we do not perceive this as we listen. Not only does the sub- 
ject necessitate the dialogue, but the dialogue is the plot — a 
plot of idea which leads up wonderfully to the three crowning 
episodes. Sheridan was an adept at stage construction. 
There are few playwrights who, after the auction and screen 
scenes, would have ventured on a triple anti-chmax — the 
babble about the supposed duel, the buffeting of Stanley- 
Premium-Surface, and the final unmasking of Snake. Yet, 
so adapted are these to the finale, so deftly and humorously 
handled, that they are not recognisable as anti-climaxes at 
all. Again, Charles's devotion to Maria is only hinted, though 
the pair was to have played a much larger part, and Sheridan 
had meant to put long love-passages in their mouths.^ These, 
however, would have been excrescences, and the play is far 
more artistic as it stands. Nor is the drama's tessellation 
(mainfest when we trace its pieces) perceptible in its com- 
pleted form. Its character, phases and atmosphere seem 
harmonious and call up a little world of their own. Everyone 
moves and breathes and has his being, and the inconsisten- 
cies appear consistent. 

Enough has been said of the SchooVs originality; it is cer- 
tainly more plagiarised from the plagiarising. But a word of 
Sheridan's duty must be devoted to the worn topic of its 
originality "plagiarisms." The hypocrites of literature have 
been scrutinised to account for Joseph. Congreve's Mask- 
well will not fit him, for Maskwell is sombre and saturnine. 
Fielding's quack philosopher is equally remote; of Moliere's 
Tartuffe we have already spoken. Not one of the stage im- 
postors suggests Joseph's demure and dapper sentimentalitJ^ 
Even a poor play by Arthur Murphy, entitled. Know Your 
Own Mind, has been pressed into service and its Malvil 
singled out as Joseph Surface's original. This, however, is a 
false scent. Beyond the fact that Malvil is a traitor held up 

1 See page xxix. 

* He is said to have refrained because realizing that neither the 
actor nor the actress cast for these parts could " make love.". 


as a pattern of propriety, and that in a single instance he 
airs a trace of "the man who," there is Httle real likeness 
between them. But a stray hint or so for Joseph Surface may 
well come from Vizard in Farquhar's The Constant Couple, 
and these vague assimilations have hitherto passed un- 
observed. Vizard is a smug downright hypocrite, who bears 
little resemblance to the dexterous Joseph, but in some 
superficial features he recalls him. Like Joseph, he uses 
books as a blind for his vices ' — the very trait which roused 
the young Shelley's ire when Peacock dragged him to see the 
School. Vizard is held up as "a pattern" to youth, pajg^har's 
Vizard, too, worships respectability more than the The Con- 
enjoyments which it masks: " I would sooner for- 
feit my life, nay, my pleasure," he owns, "than my reputa- 
tion." Remembering that a chance phrase from this piece 
also found its way into The Rivals, and how fond Sheridan 
was of Farquhar, we may guess that some "faded ideas" 
from it "floated in his imagination." They amount to very 
little, scarcely to more than can be squeezed out of the 
" Damn your morals " of Congreve's Bluffe, whose charac- 
ter has no connection with Joseph, or from the Congreve 
trick of the participle-adjective in phrases like "a forgetting 
night" that suggest Sheridan's "damned disinheriting 
countenance." The mould and stamp, however, of Joseph 
remain original and differentiate him from all other hypo- 
crites on the comic stage. 

So too with the method of his unmasking. In Congreve's 
Double Dealer — one of Tartuffe's many offshoots — Lady 
Touchwood and Cynthia listen behind a screen, The screen 
but they overhear only at a distance; there is no ^'^^^^ 
discovery. In Cumberland's West Indian there is a listener 
behind a door, but the situation is different, and the device 
conventional. Vizard acts by a letter, and the letter betrays 
him, as seems to have been Sheridan's first expedient in the 
" Clerimont " fragment. Moliere's Tartuffe is clumsily hidden 
under a table when Orgon detects him. Sheridan's screen 
scene, with its double ambush of wife and husband, its quick 
movement and the air of practical joke that belongs to com- 
' See Act iv, Scene iii, line 130. 


edy, is as ingenious as it is graceful. If any hint came from the 
sordid lurking-place of Moll Seagrim in Thwackum's garret,^ 
the impression of the whole is so dissimilar that Fielding 
would have been puzzled at the likeness. As for the 
"Spanish" source to which some have ascribed the episode 
it is unnamed, and seems mj^hical. A nearer analogy is fur- 
nished by Almaviva's ambush in Beaumarchais's The Barber 
of Seville, preceding the School by two years, and afterwards 
acted in London. Sheridan's indebtedness, however, was 
probably to some incident in real life. The elegance of tour- 
nure throughout Sheridan's comedy reaches its acme in this 
climax. "If Aristotle himself had written a whole chapter 
professedly against screens," wrote Cumberland himself, "I 
would not have placed Lady Teazle out of earshot to have 
saved his ears from the pillory." 

Half echoes of Restoration comedy are also audible in 
other parts of the School. Vanbrugh's Relapse, which became 
_. . Sheridan's Tn'p to 5car5oro?<^/i, speaks of " specu- 
Restoration lative love"; the School speaks of "speculative" 
™ benevolence. Vanbrugh, again, in his Provoked 

Wife uses the phrase of "Damn your morals." Congreve's 
Way of the World makes a scandalmonger titter when a girl 
looks pale. The same malicious insinuation is levelled at 
Maria. No stress can be laid on the duplication of names 
any more than in the case of The Rivals. Sheridan's "Sur- 
face," as we have seen, hails from a minor part in his 
mother's unpublished play, and Sheridan had first named his 
brace of brothers "Pliant" and "Plausible." Wycherley's 
Plain Dealer has a "Plausible," and Congreve's Doi<6Ze Dealer 
a "Plyant." Ben Jonson and Suckling had begun the lyrical 
succession of toasting songs, and Congreve's Way of the 
World followed them with "Prithee fill me the glass." And 
further, a conceit in the School's closing verses (verses con- 
stantly trimmed and varied) may be due to Farquhar, though 
the plagiary-hunters have misascribed it to a phrase in a 
Life of Dr. Clarke. The line runs, "Thou still must rule be- 
cause I must obey." In Farquhar's Sir Harry Wildair 
occurs, "For neither would stoop to command 'cause both 
* In Fielding's Tom Jones. 


thought it glory to obey." It is to Farquhar in the main that 
we must look for these scattered promptings. His wicked 
Lady Lurewell, to whom "nothing is so sweet as a malicious 
story," says, " I hate to have any woman more virtuous than 
myself." And here perhaps we get the foundation of Lady 
Sneerwell. But Farquhar more than all his compeers drew 
from Nature, and Lady Lurewells and Sneerwells abounded 
at Bath. The wish to drag down Sheridan by leaving him 
nothing of his own belongs to the Sneerwell character. When 
Watkins wrote his so-called Memoirs of Sheridan, he re- 
peated a slander that actually ascribed The School for Scan- 
dal to "a young lady in Thames Street." Sheridan never 
troubled to refute such tattle, ' which was not confined to his 
comedies. As he once wrote, he was "inured to misrepre- 

1 Professor Nettleton suggests that in the following lines of The 
Critic Sheridan may have been striking at those who abetted this 
"insinuation that he had stolen The School for Scandal from a manu- 
script left in his hands": — 

"Sir Fretful: Besides — I can tell you it is not always so safe to 
leave a play in the hands of those who write themselves. 

" Sneer. What, they may steal from them, hey, my dear Plagiary? 

"Sir Fretful: Steal! — to be sure they may: and, egad, serve 
your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children, disfigure them to 
make 'em pass for their own." 





Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal's school. 

Who rail by precept, and detract by rule. 

Lives there no character, so tried, so known, 

So deck'd with grace, and so unlike your own, 

That even you assist her fame to raise, 5 

Approve by envy, and by silence praise.'' 

Attend ! — a model shall attract your view — 

Daughters of calumny, I summon you! 

You shall decide if this a portrait prove. 

Or fond creation of the Muse and Love. 10 

Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage, 

Ye matron censors of this childish age. 

Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare 

A fixed antipathy to young and fair; 

By cunning, cautious; or by nature, cold, 15 

In maiden madness, virulently bold! 

Mrs. Crewe. " A Portrait " is one of the best dedicatory 
poems in the language. It was at first circulated in manuscript and 
a copy was sent to Mrs. Crewe with a manuscript of the play. 
Mrs. Crewe was a beautiful and intellectual woman, a leader of 
society, intimate with the Sheridans, and the friend of Burke 
and Fox. Sir Joshua Reynolds thrice painted her portrait. 
Frances Burney wrote that Mrs. Crewe surpassed even Mrs. 
Sheridan — one of the most charming women of her time — in 
" elegance of beauty." Mrs. Fulke Greville, the mother of Mrs. 
Crewe, was an arbitress of literary taste of the day. 


Attend! ye skilled to coin the precious tale. 

Creating proof, where innuendos fail ! 

Whose practised memories, cruelly exact, 

Omit no circumstance, except the fact! 20 

Attend all ye who boast — or old or young — 

The living libel of a slanderous tongue! 

So shall my theme as far contrasted be, 

As saints by fiends, or hymns by calumny 

Come, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name, 25 

In worthier verse is sung thy beauty's fame) ; 

Come — for but thee who seeks the Muse ? and 

Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile, 
With timid grace and hesitating eye. 
The perfect model, which I boast, supply. 30 

Vain Muse! couldst thou the humblest sketch create 
Of her, or slightest charm couldst imitate — 
Could thy blest strain in kindred colours trace 
The faintest wonder of her form and face — 
Poets would study the immortal line, 35 

And Reynolds own his art subdued by thine; 
That art, which well might added lustre give 
To Nature's best, and Heaven's superlative: 

25. Amoret. In Spenser's Faerie Qiteene, Amoret is the imper- 
sonation of loveliness and wifely devotion. The name appears 
also in Fletcher's The Fa'dhful Shepherdess. It was in verses by 
Fox, written in Mrs. Crewes honor, that she was first referred to 
by this name. 

30. Reynolds. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), the famous 
portrait painter. With Sheridan he was a member of Dr. 
Johnson's Literary Club. Mrs. Sheridan sat to him several times, 
and for her he had intense admiration. Her portrait as St. 
Cecilia, with two listening cherubs, Reynolds once spoke of as 
" the best picture I ever painted." 


On Granhys cheek might bid new glories rise. 

Or point a purer beam from Devon's eyes! 40 

Hard is the task to shape that beauty's praise, 

Whose judgment scorns the homage flattery pays! 

But praising Amoret we cannot err, 

No tongue o'ervalues Heaven, or flatters her! 

Yet she by Fate's perverseness — she alone 45 

Would doubt our truth, nor deem such praise her own! 

Adorning Fashion, unadorn'd by dress, 

Simple from taste, and not from carelessness; 

Discreet in gesture, in deportment mild. 

Not stiff with prudence, nor uncouthly wild: 50 

No state has Amoret! no studied mien; 

She frowns no goddess, and she moves no queen. 

The softer charm that in her manner lies 

Is framed to captivate, yet not surprise; 

It justly suits th' expression of her face — 55 

'T is less than dignity, and more than grace ! 

On her pure cheek the native hue is such. 

That form'd by Heav'n to be admired so much. 

The hand divine, with a less partial care. 

Might well have fix'd a fainter crimson there, 60 

39. Granby. Mary Isabella, Marchioness of Granby, after- 
ward Duchess of Rutland. In her day, party rancor spread even 
to the ladies. As a supporter of Pitt, the Duchess of Granby 
was hostile to Mrs. Crewe and the Duchess of Devonshire. 

40. Devon. The famous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, 
one of the leading spirits among the women of her time. Her in- 
fluence in politics was such that in 1784 she secured the reelection 
of Charles James Fox to Parliament. One of Reynolds's most 
popular portraits represents her with her child. For an extended 
account of her part in Sheridan's career, and one of her diaries, 
see W. Sichel's Sheridan. 

52. Cf. " She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen." 
Pope, Homer's Iliad, in, 208. 


And bade the gentle inmate of her breast — 
Inshrined Modesty ! — supply the rest. 
But who the peril of her lips shall paint? 
Strip them of smiles — still, still all words are faint! 
But moving Love himself appears to teach 65 

Their action, though denied to rule her speech; 
And thou who seest her speak and dost not hear, 
Mourn not her distant accents 'scape thine ear; 
Viewing those lips, thou still may'st make pretence 
To judge of what she says, and swear 't is sense: 70 
Cloth'd with such grace, with such expression fraught, 
They move in meaning, and they pause in thought! 
But dost thou farther watch, with charm'd sur- 
The mild irresolution of her eyes, 
Curious to mark how frequent they repose, 75 

In brief eclipse and momentary close — 
Ah! seest thou not an ambush'd Cupid there. 
Too tim'rous of his charge, with jealous care 
Veils and unveils those beams of heav'nly light. 
Too full, too fatal else, for mortal sight? 80 

Nor yet, such pleasing vengeance fond to meet, 
In pard'ning dimples hope a safe retreat. 
What though her peaceful breast should ne'er allow 
Subduing frowns to arm her alter'd brow. 
By Love, I swear, and by his gentle wiles, 85 

More fatal still the mercy of her smiles! 
Thus lovely, thus adorn'd, possessing all 
Of bright or fair that can to woman fall. 
The height of vanity might well be thought 
Prerogative in her, and Nature's fault. 90 

Yet gentle Amoret, in mind supreme 
As well as charms, rejects the vainer theme; 


And half mistrustful of her beauty's store, 

She barbs with wit those darts too keen before : — 

Read in all knowledge that her sex should reach, 95 

Though Greville, or the Muse, should deign to teach. 

Fond to improve, nor tim'rous to discern 

How far it is a woman's grace to learn; 

In Millar's dialect she would not prove 

Apollo's priestess, but Apollo's love, 100 

Graced by those signs, which truth delights to own. 

The timid blush, and mild submitted tone: , 

Whate'er she says, though sense appear throughout, 

Displays the tender hue of female doubt; 

Deck'd with that charm, how lovely wit appears, 105 

How graceful science, when that robe she wears! 

96. Greville. Mrs. Fulke Greville, mother of Mrs. Crewe. To 
her Sheridan dedicated The Critic and a manuscript book of 
poems. Mrs. Greville wrote some verse, including a political 
Ode to Indifference. 

99. Millar. Lady Millar (or Miller), the rather vulgar, some- 
what affected lion-hunting hostess at literary assemblies at her 
house in Bath. She was nicknamed " Calliope " and " Sappho " 
and is amusingly described by Horace Walpole and Frances 
Burney. Contemporary verses describing her house and enter- 
tainments contain these lines: — 

"See how they hurry to that hallowed shrine — 
That sacred seat of Sappho and the Nine, 
Where placed on quarries of the purest stone 
The red brick shines unrivalled and alone. 
Bless us! What toil, what cost has been bestowed 
To give that prospect of the London Road. 
Our admiration knows not where to fix, 
Here a cascade and there a coach and six. 
Within a mystic vase with laurel crowned, 
Hence, ye profane! 'T is consecrated ground. 
Here Sappho's hands the last sad rites dispense 
To mangle poetry and murder sense." 

Sheridan was an occasional guest, and may have received from 
her some slight inspiration for Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals. 
Consult Tinker's The Sahn and English Literature. 


Such too her talents, and her bent of mind, 

As speak a sprightly heart by thought refined, 

A taste for mirth, by contemplation school 'd, 

A turn for ridicule, by candour ruled, 110 

A scorn of folly, which she tries to hide; 

An awe of talent, which she owns with pride! 

Peace! idle Muse, no more thy strain prolong, 
But yield a theme, thy warmest praises wrong; 
Just to her merit, though thou canst not raise 115 
Thy feeble voice, behold th' acknowledged praise 
Has spread conviction through the envious train. 
And cast a fatal gloom o'er Scandal's reign! 
And lo! each pallid hag, with blister'd tongue, 
Mutters assent to all thy zeal has sung — 120 

Owns all the colours just — the outline true; 
Thee my inspirer, and my model — Crewe ! 



A School for Scandal ! tell me, I beseech you, 
Needs there a school this modish art to teach you? 
No need of lessons now, the knowing think; 
We might as well be taught to eat and drink. 
Caused by a dearth of scandal, should the vapours 5 
Distress our fair ones — let them read the papers; 

Mr. Garrick. David Garrick (1717-79). The famous actor 
and manager of Drury Lane. He was the intimate friend of Dr. 
Johnson and a member of the Literary Club. Sheridan doubtless 
owed much in the technicalities of his plays to Garrick. At 
Garrick's funeral, Sheridan was chief mourner; and he shortly 
afterwards wrote a monody to Garrick's memory which was re- 
cited at Drury Lane Theatre. 

5. the vapours: a term rather loosely used, but applied 
properly to some form of hysteria. " This disease, then, called 
Vapours or hysteric affections in Women and the Spleen in Men," 
was so named because it was formerly supposed to have been 
caused by " Clouds of Fumes and dark vapours " which as- 
cended " through the bowels into the thorax, heart case, throat, 
and the brain." (A. C. Garratt's Myths in Medicine, quoting 
from The Spleen and Vapours, by Sir Richard Blackmore, 
London, 1725.) 

" There is a more transient species of Vapours, which very 
commonly seizes young and temperate persons . . .which affects 
with Disgust of everything that used to amuse or please them; 
a certain Tediousness of Life, a Lowness of Spirits, with languor. 
Restlessness, Heaviness, or Anxiety, and an Aversion to Exer- 
cise either of the mind or body, and sometimes with violent 
headaches, or dimness of sight; which symptoms, as they will 
come on without apparent Cause, so will they go off as un- 
accountably in short time. ..." (Quoted by Garratt from Works 
of George Cheyne, London, 1730.) 


Their powerful mixtures such disorders hit; 
Crave what you will — there's quantum siiffidt. 
"Lord!" cries my Lady Wormwood (who loves tattle, 
And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle), 10 
Just ris'n at noon, all night at cards when threshing 
Strong tea and scp-ndal — "Bless me, how refreshing! 
*' Give me the papers, Lisp — how bold and free! (sips) 
*' Last night Lord L. (sips) was caught with Lady D. 
" For aching heads what charming sal volatile! (sips.) 15 
"If Mrs. B. will still continue flirting, 
*' We hope she 'II draw, or we 'II undraw the curtain. 
" Fine satire, poz — in public all abuse it, 
"But, by ourselves (sips), our praise we can't refuse it. 
" Now, Lisp, read you — there, at that dash and 
star." 20 

" Yes, ma'am — A certain lord had best beware, 
*' Who lives not twenty miles from Grosvenor Square; 
" For should he Lady W. find willing, 
"Wormwood is bitter" — "Oh, that's me, the villain! 
" Throw it behind the fire, and never more 25 

" Let that vile paper come within my door." 
Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart; 
To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart. 

8. quantum sufiicit: " as much as is sufficient," or "enough." 

15. sai volatile: smelling-salts; or, an aromatic medicine. 

18. poz: slang for " positively." See The Spectator, No. 133. 

20. dash and star. These symbols were commonly substi- 
tuted for some of the letters in the names of the ladies and 
gentlemen figuring in the intrigues alluded to in the papers. 
Sometimes merely the initials of a name were used, as suggested 
by the allusion " A.B. at the coffee-house " (page 123). See also 
note on " the paragraphs " page 11. 

22. Grosvenor Square. Then one of the fashionable resi- 
dence sections of London, east of Hyde Park. 


Is our young bard so young, to think that he 

Can stop the full spring-tide of calumny? 30 

Knows he the world so little, and its trade? 

Alas ! the devil 's sooner raised than laid. 

So strong, so swift, the monster there's no gagging: 

Cut Scandal's head off, still the tongue is wagging. 

Proud of your smiles once lavishly bestow'd, 35 

Again our young Don Quixote takes the road; 

To show his gratitude he draws his pen. 

And seeks this hydra, Scandal, in his den. 

For your applause all perils he would through — 

He '11 fight — that 's write — a cavalliero true, 40 

Till every drop of blood — that 's ink — is spilt for you. 

36. Don Quixote. The allusion is appropriate in view of the 
parallel between Sherid*an's ridicule of sentimental comedy, and 
Cervantes's ridicule of the romances of chivalry. 

40. cavalliero: cavalier; "one who has the spirit or bearing 
of a knight." (Century Dictionary.) 



MAY 8, 1777 

Sir Peter Teazle Mr. King. 

Sir Oliver Surface Mr. Yates. 

Joseph Surface Mr. Palmer. 

Charles Mr. Smith. 

Crabtree Mr. Parsons. 

Sir Benjamin Backbite Mr. Dodd. 

Rowley Mr. Aickin. 

Moses Mr. Baddeley. 

Trip Mr. Lamash. 

Snake Mr. Packer. 

Careless Mr. Farren. 

Sir Harry Bumper Mr. Gawdry. 

Lady Teazle Mrs. Abington. 

Maria Miss P. Hopkins. 

Lady Sneerwell Miss Sherry. 

Mrs. Candour Miss Pope. 



Scene I. Lady Sneer well's House. 

Discovered Lady Sneerwell at the dressing-table ; Snake drinking 

Lady Sneer. The paragraphs, you say, Mr. Snake, 
were all inserted? 

Snake. They were, madam; and as I copied them 
myself in a feigned hand, there can be no suspicion 
whence they came. 5 

Lady Sneer. Did you circulate the report of Lady 
Brittle' s intrigue with Captain Boastall? 

1. The paragraphs. In Sheridan's The Critic, Puff has a 
speech which, though a burlesque, gives a very accurate idea, 
not alone of the phrasing, but also of the nature of these para- 
graphs. He says: " In a matter of Gallantry now — • Sir Flimsy 
Gossimer wishes to be well with Lady Fanny Fete — ■ he applies 
to me — I open trenches for him with a Paragraph in the 
Morning Post. ' It is recommended to the beautiful and ac- 
complished Lady F****F — • — E to be on her guard against that 

dangerous character. Sir F ^ G; who, however pleasing and 

insinuating his manners may be, is certainly not remarkable for 
the constancy of his Attachments ! ' — Here you see Sir Flimsy 
Gossimer is introduced to the particular notice of Lady Fanny 
— who perhaps never thought of him before — ■ she finds herself 
publicly cautioned to avoid him which naturally makes her 
desirous to see him — ■ the observation of their Acquaintance 
causes a pretty kind of mutual embarrassment — this produces 
a sort of sympathy of interest, which if Sir Flimsy is unable to 
improve effectually he at least gains the credit of having their 
names mention'd together by a particular set, and in a particular 
way — which nine times out of ten is the full accomplishment of 
modern Gallantry." 


Snake. That's in as fine a train as your ladyship 
could wish. In the common course of things, I think 
it must reach Mrs. Clackitt's ears within four-and- [lO 
twenty hours; and then, you know, the business is as 
good as done. 

Lady Sneer. Why, truly, Mrs. Clackitt has a very 
pretty talent, and a great deal of industry. 

Snake. True, madam, and has been tolerably [15 
successful in her day. To my knowledge she has been 
the cause of six matches being broken off, and three 
sons disinherited; of four forced elopements, and as 
many close confinements; nine separate maintenances, 
and two divorces. Nay, I have more than once [20 
traced her causing a tete-a-tete in the Toivn and Country 
Magazine, when the parties, perhaps, had never seen 
each other's face before in the course of their lives. 

Lady Sneer. She certainly has talents, but her man- 
ner is gross. 25 

Snake. 'T is very true. She generally designs well, 
has a free tongue, and a bold invention; but her colour- 
ing is too dark, and her outlines often extravagant. She 

21. a Tete-a-tete in the Town and Country Magazine. The 
Town and Country Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knoivledge, 
Instruction and Entertainment, was first issued in January, 17G9. 
The tete-a-tetes were a series of sketches, accompanied by por- 
traits, whose purpose was to convey " a lively idea of the prevail- 
ing beauties, and their most zealous admirers." These papers 
brought the magazine wide notoriety because of the scandal 
related about well-known and easily identified men and women. 
Cf. the allusion to the " Scandalous Magazine " in Goldsmith's 
She Stoops to Conquer, ii, 1. Lamb, in his Detached Thoughts on 
Books and Reading, refers to " the old Town and Country Mag- 
azine, with its amusing tete-a-tete pictures — ' The Royal Lover 

and Lady G ■ ; ' ' The Melting Platonic and the old Beau,* 

— and such-like antiquated scandal." See References and Illus- 
trative Readings, iv. 


wants that delicac}^ of tint, and mellowness of sneer, 
which distinguishes your ladyship's scandal. 30 

Lady Sneer. You are partial. Snake. 

Snake. Not in the least; everybody allows that 
Lady Sneerwell can do more with a word or a look 
than many can with the most laboured detail, even 
when they happen to have a little truth on their [35 
side to support it. 

Lady Sne3r. Yes, my dear Snake; and I am no 
hypocrite to deny the satisfaction I reap from the 
success of my efforts. Wounded myself in the early 
part of my life by the envenomed tongue of slan- [40 
der, I confess I have since known no pleasure equal 
to the reducing others to the level of my own injured 

Snake. Nothing can be more natural. But, Lady 
Sneerwell, there is one affair in which you have [45 
lately employed me, wherein, I confess, I am at a loss 
to guess your motives. 

Lady Sneer. I conceive you mean with respect to 
my neighbor, Sir Peter Teazle, and his family? 

Snake. I do. Here are two young men, to whom [50 
Sir Peter has acted as a kind of guardian sines their 
father's death; the eldest possessing the most amiable 
character, and universally well spoken of; the young- 
est, the most dissipated and extravagant young fel- 
low in the kingdom, without friends or character: [55 

29. delicacy of tint. " ' Tint ' was originally 'hint,' and Sher- 
idan did not alter it till his comedy was being rehearsed. It 
occurs first in his correction of the earliest prompt-book. An 
English edition, published in Paris in 1789, retains ' hint,' and 
so the French version, published the same year in London, ' cette 
louche imperceptible.' " (Sichel.) 


the former an avowed admirer of your ladyship, and 
apparently your favourite ; the latter attached to Ma- 
ria, Sir Peter's ward, and confessedly beloved by her. 
Now, on the face of these circumstances, it is utterly 
unaccountable to me, why you, the widow of a city [60 
kaight, with a good jointure, should not close with the 
passion of a man of such character and expectations as 
Mr. Surface; and more so why you should be so un- 
commonly earnest to destroy the mutual attachment 
subsisting between his brother Charles and Maria. [65 

Lady Sneer. Then at once to unravel this mystery, 
I must inform you, that love has no share whatever ia 
the intercourse between Mr. Surface and me. 

Snake. No! 

Lady Sneer. His real attachment is to Maria, or [70 
her fortune; but finding in his brother a favoured rival, 
he has been obliged to mask his pretensions, and profit 
by my assistance. 

Snake. Yet still I am more puzzled why you should 
interest yourself in his success. 75 

Lady Sneer. How dull you are! Cannot you sur- 
mise the weakness which I hitherto, through shame, 
have concealed even from you? Must I confess that 
Charles, that libertine, that extravagant, that bank- 
rupt in fortune and reputation, that he it is for [80 

61. jointure. Property settled upon a woman at the time of 
her marriage, and, after the death of her husband, enjoyed by 
her for life. 

61. close with: yield to; agree to. 

80-8'2. he it is . . . to gain whom I would sacrifice every- 
thing. " As it now stands, this intimation of her ladyship's pur- 
pose is far too important for anything that follows, and is apt to 
mystify the spectator, who finds little in the after scenes to 
justify it — ' a conclusion at once explained when we are made 


whom I'm thus anxious and malicious, and to gain 
whom I would sacrifice everything? 

Snake. Now, indeed, your conduct appears con- 
sistent; but how came you and Mr. Surface so con- 
fidential? 85 

Lady Sneer. For our mutual interest. I have found 
him out a long time since. I know him to be artful, 
selfish, and malicious; in short, a sentimental knave; 
while with Sir Peter, and indeed with all his acquain- 
tance, he passes for a youthful miracle of prudence, [90 
good sense, and benevolence. 

Snake. Yes; yet Sir Peter vows he has not his 
equal in England; and above all, he praises him as a 
man of sentiment. 

Lady Sneer. True; and with the assistance of his [95 
sentiment and hypocrisy, he has brought Sir Peter 
entirely into his interest with regard to Maria; while 
poor Charles has no friend in the house, though, I fear, 
he has a powerful one in Maria's heart, against whom 
we must direct our schemes. 100 

Enter Servant. 

Serv. Mr. Surface. 

Lady Sneer. Show him up. [Exit Servant. 

Enter Joseph Surface. 

Joseph S. My dear Lady Sneerwell, how do you do 
to-day? Mr. Snake, your most obedient. 

Lady Sneer. Snake has just been rallying me on [l05 

aware that this was the original motif of the entire piece, the 
object of which was to separate, not Charles Surface, but a 
sentimental hero called Clerimont, Florival, and other pastoral 
names, from the Maria whom he loves, and who is the ward, 
niece, or even stepdaughter of Lady Sneerwell, a beautiful 
widow and leader of scandal, who loves him." (Mrs. Oliphant.) 


our mutual attachment; but I have informed him of 
our real views. You know how useful he has been to us, 
and, believe me, the confidence is not ill placed. 

Joseph S. Madam, it is impossible for me to suspect 
a man of Mr. Snake's sensibility and discernment. [UO 

Lady Sneer. Well, well, no compliments now; but 
tell me when you saw your mistress, Maria; or, what 
is more material to me, your brother. 

Joseph S. I have not seen either since I left you; 
but I can inform you that they never meet. Some [115 
of your stories have taken a good effect on Maria. 

Lady Sneer. Ah! my dear Snake! the merit of 
this belongs to you; but do your brother's distresses 

Joseph S. Every hour. I am told he has had an- [120 
other execution in the house yesterday. In short, his 
dissipation and extravagance exceed anything I have 
ever heard of. 

Lady Sneer. Poor Charles! 

Joseph S. True, madam; notwithstanding his [l2o 
vices, one can't help feeling for him. Poor Charles! 
I 'm sure I wish it were in my power to be of any essen- 
tial service to him; for the man who does not share in 
the distresses of a brother, even though merited by 
his own misconduct, deserves 130 

Lady Sneer. O Lud! you are going to be moral, and 
forget that you are among friends. 

Joseph S. Egad, that's true! I'll keep that senti- 

118. distresses: legal seizures of goods not paid for. The word 
is sometimes punned upon in this comedy. (Tatlock.) See below, 
11, ii, 258; iil. i, 14, 61, 190; m, ii, 36; and v, i, 15.) 

121. execution: " the seizure of the goods of a debtor in de- 
fault of payment." (Murray, A New English Dictionary.) 


ment till I see Sir Peter; however, it certainly is a 
charity to rescue Maria from such a libertine, who, [l35 
if he is to be reclaimed, can be so only by a person of 
your ladyship's superior accomplishments and under- 

Snake. I believe, Lady Sneerwell, here's company 
coming; I'll go and copy the letter I mentioned [l40 

to you. Mr. Surface, your most obedient. 

[Exit Snake. 

Joseph S. Sir, your very devoted. Lady Sneerwell, 
I am very sorry you have put any further confidence 
in that fellow. 

Lady Sneer. Why so? 145 

Joseph S. I have lately detected him in frequent 
conference with old Rowley, who was formerly my 
father's steward, and has never, you know, been a 
friend of mine. 

Lady Sneer. And do you think he would betray [150 

Joseph S. Nothing more likely; take my word for 't. 
Lady Sneerwell, that fellow has n't virtue enough to be 
faithful even to his own villany. Ah! Maria! 

Enter Maria. 

Lady Sneer. Maria, my dear, how do you do? [155 
What's the matter? 

Maria. Oh ! there is that disagreeable lover of mine, 
Sir Benjamin Backbite, has just called at my guar- 
dian's, with his odious uncle, Crabtree; so I slipped 
out, and ran hither to avoid them. 160 

Lady Sneer. Is that all? 

Joseph S. If my brother Charles had been of the 
party, madam, perhaps you would not have been so 
much alarmed. 


Lady Sneer. Nay, now you are severe; for I [l65 
dare swear the truth of the matter is, Maria heard you 
were here. But, my dear, what has Sir Benjamin 
done, that you would avoid him so? 

Maria. Oh, he has done nothing; but 't is for what 
he has said: his conversation is a perpetual libel [170 
on all his acquaintance. 

Joseph S. Ay, and the worst of it is, there is no 
advantage in not knowing him; for he'll abuse a 
stranger just as soon as his best friend; and his uncle's 
as bad. 175 

Lady Sneer. Nay, but we should make allowance; 
Sir Benjamin is a wit and a poet. 

Maria. For my part, I confess, madam, wit loses its 
respect with me, when I see it in company with malice. 
What do you think, Mr. Surface? 180 

Joseph S. Certainly, madam; to smile at the jest 
which plants a thorn in another's breast is to become 
a principal in the mischief. 

Lady Sneer. Pshaw! there's no possibility of being 
witty without a little ill nature: the malice of a [185 
good thing is the barb that makes it stick. What's 
your opinion, Mr. Surface? 

Joseph S. To be sure, madam; that conversation, 
where the spirit of raillery is suppressed, will ever 
appear tedious and insipid. 190 

Maria. Well, I '11 not debate how far scandal may be 
allowable; but in a man, I am sure, it is always con- 
temptible. We have pride, envy, rivalship, and a 
thousand motives to depreciate each other; but the 
male slanderer must have the cowardice of a wo- [195 
man before he can traduce one? 


Enter Servant. 

Serv. Madam, Mrs. Candour is below, and if your 
ladyship 's at leisure, will leave her carriage. 

Lady Sneer. Beg her to walk in. [Exit Servant.] Now, 
Maria, here is a character to your taste ; for though [200 
Mrs. Candour is a little talkative, everybody allows her 
to be the best natured and best sort of woman. 

Maria. Yes, with a very gross affectation of good 
nature and benevolence, she does more mischief than 
the direct malice of old Crabtree. 205 

Joseph S. V faith that 's true, Lady Sneerwell : when- 
ever I hear the current running against the characters 
of my friends, I never think them in such danger as 
when Candour undertakes their defence. 

Lady Sneer. Hush ! here she is ! 210 

Enter Mrs. Candour. 

Mrs. Can. My dear Lady Sneerwell, how have you 
been this century? Mr. Surface, what news do you 
hear.' though indeed it is no matter, for I think one 
hears nothing else but scandal. 

Joseph S. Just so, indeed, ma'am. 215 

3Irs. Can. Oh, Maria! child, what, is the whole af- 
fair off between you and Charles? His extravagance, 
I presume; the town talks of nothing else. 

Maria. Indeed! I am very sorry, ma'am, the town 
is not better employed. 220 

Mrs. Can. True, true, child; but there's no stopping 
people's tongues. I own I was hurt to hear it, as I 
indeed was to learn, from the same quarter, that your 
guardian, Sir Peter, and Lady Teazle have not agreed 
lately as well as could be wished. 225 

Maria. 'T is strangely impertinent for people to 
busy themselves so. 


Mrs. Can. Very true, child; but what's to be done? 
People will talk; there's no preventing it. Why, it 
was but yesterday I was told Miss Gadabout had [230 
eloped with Sir Filigree Flirt. But, Lord! there's 
no minding what one hears; though, to be sure, I 
had this from very good authority. 

Maria. Such reports are highly scandalous. 

Mrs. Can. So they are, child; shameful! shame- [235 
ful! But the world is so censorious, no character es- 
capes. Lord, now who would have suspected your 
friend. Miss Prim, of an indiscretion.? Yet such is the 
ill-nature of people, that they say her uncle stopped 
her last week, just as she was stepping into the [240 
York diligence with her dancing-master. 

Maria. I '11 answer for 't there are no grounds for 
that report. 

Mrs. Can. Ah, no foundation in the world, I dare 
swear: no more, probably, than for the story circu- [245 
lated last month, of Mrs. Festino's affair with Colonel 
Cassino; though, to be sure, that matter was never 
rightly cleared up. 

Joseph S. The licence of invention some people take 
is monstrous indeed. 250 

Maria. 'T is so; but, in my opinion, those who re- 
port such things are equally culpable. 

Mrs. Can. To be sure they are; tale-bearers are as 
bad as the tale-makers; 't is an old observation, and a 
very true one. But what 's to be done, as I said be- [255 
fore? How will you prevent people from talking? To- 
day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. Honey- 
moon were at last become mere man and wife, like the 
rest of their acquaintance. She likewise hinted that a 
241. York diligence: the stage-coach running to York. 


certain widow, in the next street, had got rid of her [260 
dropsy and recovered her shape in a most surprising 
manner. And at the same time, Miss Tattle, who was 
by, affirmed that Lord Buffalo had discovered his lady 
at a house of no extraordinary fame; and that Sir H. 
Boquet and Tom Saunter were to measure swords [265 
on a similar provocation. But, Lord, do you think I 
would report these things? No, no! tale-bearers, as I 
said before, are just as bad as the tale-makers. 

Joseph S. Ah Mrs. Candour, if everybody had your 
forbearance and good-nature! 270 

Mrs. Can. I confess, Mr. Surface, I cannot bear to 
hear people attacked behind their backs; and when 
ugly circumstances come out against our acquaintance, 
I own I always love to think the best. By-the-bye, I 
hope 't is not true that your brother is absolutely [275 

Joseph S. I am afraid his circumstances are very 
bad indeed, ma'am. 

Mrs. Can. Ah! I heard so; but you must tell him 
to keep up his spirits; everybody almost is in the [280 
same way — Lord Spindle, Sir Thomas Splint, Captain 
Quinze, and Mr. Nickit — all up, I hear, within this 
week; so if Charles is undone, he'll find half his ac- 
quaintance ruined too, and that, you know, is a con- 
solation. 285 

Joseph S. Doubtless, ma'am; a very great one. 

282. all up: ruined. Perhaps "posted," in the Gazette, ar 
official paper, published twice a week in London, Edinburgh, anG 
Dublin, containing the names of bankrupts, public notices, etc. 
Cf. also the slang expression, " All 's up (or up with) = every- 
thing is lost, ruin stares one in the face." (Slang and its Ana- 
logues, by Farmer and Henley.) 


Enter Servant. 

Serv. Mr. Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. 

[Exit Servant. 

Lady Sneer. So, Maria, you see your lover pursues 
you; positively you sha'n't escape. 

Enter Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. 

Crabt. Lady Sneerwell, I kiss your hand. Mrs. [290 
Candour, I don't believe you are acquainted with my 
nephew, Sir Benjamin Backbite? Egad! ma'am, he 
has a pretty wit, and is a pretty poet too; is n't he. 
Lady Sneerwell? 

Sir Benj. B. O fie, uncle! 295 

Crabt. Nay, egad, it's true; I back him at a rebus 
or a charade against the best rhymer in the kingdom. 
Has your ladyship heard the epigram he wrote last 
week on Lady Frizzle's feather catching fire? Do, 
Benjamin, repeat it, or the charade you made last [300 
night extempore at Mrs. Drowzie's conversazione. 

301. conversazione. Professor Tinker, in The Salon and 
English Literature, says: " A familiar representation of the levee 
is found at the opening of The School for Scandal, where Lady 
Sneerwell is ' discovered ' at her toilet. When this scene is cor- 
rectly represented on the stage, the lady's guests are shown as 
drinking chocolate at her levee, and there characteristically dis- 
playing their conversational gifts. . . . Although this play is not 
an adequate criticism of the literary drawing-room, it does 
nevertheless preserve prominent aspects of it." As illustrating 
the conversazione's inevitable use of scandal and gossip as 
" short cuts to cleverness," Professor Tinker cites Act ii. 
Scene ii; and as instances of the " neatly turned sentiment that 
the salon sought to stimulate," he refers to " Sir Benjamin Back- 
bite, his impromptu verses on Lady Frizzle's feather catching 
fire, his rebuses, the charade which he made at Mrs. Drowsie's 
conversazione, and, above all, that sprightly conceit on Lady 
Betty Curricle's ponies." Sir Benjamin, by the way, is a good 
example of the macaroni. See page 38. 


Come now; your first is the name of a fish, your 
second a great naval commander, and 

Sir Benj. B. Uncle, now — pr'ythee 

Crabt. r faith, ma'am, 't would surprise you to [305 
hear how ready he is at all these fine sort of things. 

Lady Sneer. I w^onder. Sir Benjamin, you never 
publish anything. 

Sir Benj. B. To say truth, ma'am, 't is very vulgar 
to print; and as my little productions are mostly [310 
satires and lampoons on particular people, I find they 
circulate more by giving copies in confidence to the 
friends of the parties. However, I have some love 
elegies, which, when favoured with this lady's smiles, 
I mean to give the public. 315 

Crabt. 'Fore heaven, ma'am, they'll immortalize 
you! You will be handed down to posterity, like 
Petrarch's Laura, or Waller's Sacharissa. 

Sir Benj. B. Yes, madam, I think you will like 
them, when you shall see them on a beautiful [320 
quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall mean- 
der through a meadow of margin. 'Fore Gad, they 
will be the most elegant things of their kind ! 

Crabt. But, ladies, that's true. Have you heard 
the news? 325 

318. Petrarch's Laura. In his Rime, or sequence of love 

sonnets, Petrarch, the Italian poet (1304-74), addressed Laura 

de Noves, the wife of Hugues de Sade of Avignon. Cf. Byron's 

Don Juan: — 

"Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch's wife. 
He would have written sonnets all his life?" 

318. Waller's Sacharissa. Edmund Waller (1606-87) in 
paying poetic court to Dorothy Sidney, eldest daughter of the 
Duke of Leicester, gave her this name. She married Henry 
Spencer, first Earl of Sun,derlan.d. 

Mrs. Can. What, sir, do you mean the report of 

Crabt. No, ma'am, that's not it. Miss Nicely is 
going to be married to her own footman. 

Mrs. Can. Impossible! 

Crabt. Ask Sir Benjamin. 330 

Sir Benj. B. 'T is very true, ma'am; everything is 
fixed, and the wedding liveries bespoke. 

Crabt. Yes; and they do say there were pressing 
reasons for it. 

Lady Sneer. Why I have heard something of [335 
this before. 

Mrs. Can. It can't be, and I wonder any one should 
believe such a story, of so prudent a lady as Miss 

Sir Benj. B. O Lud! ma'am, that's the very [340 
reason 't was believed at once. She has always been so 
cautious and so reserved, that everybody was sure 
there was some reason for it at bottom. 

Mrs. Can. Why, to be sure, a tale of scandal is as 
fatal to the credit of a prudent lady of her stamp, [345 
as a fever is generally to those of the strongest consti- 
tutions. But there is a sort of puny, sickly reputation, 
that is always ailing, yet will outlive the' robuster 
characters of a hundred prudes. 

Sir Benj. B. True, madam, there are valetudi- [350 
narians in reputation as well as constitution; who, 
being conscious of their weak part, avoid the least 
breath of air, and supply their want of stamina by 
care and circumspection. 

Mrs. Can. Well, but this may be all a mistake. [355 
You know. Sir Benjamin, very trifling circumstances 
often give rise to the most injurious tales. 

Crabt. That they do, I'll be sworn, ma'am. Did 


you ever hear how Miss Piper came to lose her lover 
and her character last summer at Tunbridge? Sir [360 
Benjamin, you remember it? 

Sir Benj. B. Oh, to be sure! The most whimsical 

Lady Sneer. How was it, pray? 

Crabt. Why, one evening, at Mrs. Ponto's as- [365 
sembly, the conversation happened to turn on the 
breeding Nova Scotia sheep in this country. Says a 
young lady in company, I have known instances of it, 
for Miss Letitia Piper, a first cousin of mine, had a 
Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins. What ! [370 
cries the Lady Dowager Dundizzy (who you know is 
as deaf as a post), has Miss Piper had twins? This 
mistake, as you may imagine, threw the whole com- 
pany into a fit of laughter. However, 't was the next 
morning everywhere reported, and in a few days [375 
believed by the whole town, that Miss Letitia Piper 
had actually been brought to bed of a fine boy and 
a girl; and in less than a week there were some people 
who could name the father, and the farmhouse where 
the babies were put to nurse. 380 

Lady Sneer. Strange, indeed! 

Crabt. Matter of fact, I assure you. O Lud! Mr. 
Surface, pray is it true that your uncle. Sir Oliver, 
is coming home? 

Joseph S. Not that I know of, indeed, sir. 385 

Crabt. He has been in the East Indies a long time. 

You can scarcely remember him, I believe? Sad 

comfort whenever he returns, to hear how your 

brother has gone on! 

360. Tiinbridge. Tunbridge Wells, a pleasure resort some 
thirty-five miles southeast of London. 


Joseph S. Charles has been imprudent, sir, to [390 
be sure; but I hope no busy people have already pre- 
judiced Sir Oliver against him. He may reform. 

Sir Benj. B. To be sure he may; for my part, I 
never believed him to be so utterly void of principle as 
people say; and though he has lost all his friends, [395 
I am told nobody is better spoken of by the Jews. 

Craht. That 's true, egad, nephew. If the Old Jewry 
was a ward, I believe Charles would be an alder- 
man. No man more popular there, 'fore Gad ! I hear 
he pays as many annuities as the Irish tontine; [400 
and that whenever he is sick, they have prayers for 
the recovery of his health in all the synagogues. 

Sir Benj. B. Yet no man lives in greater splendour. 
They tell me, when he entertains his friends he will 

397. Old Jewry: a London street, near the Bank of England; 
so named from the synagogue which stood here prior to the per- 
secution of the Jews in 1291. (Baedeker.) 

400. Irish Tontine. In 1773, a bill to tax the rents of absentee 
proprietors introduced in the Irish Parliament, but met 
defeat. The failure of this bill, says Lecky, made it " impera- 
tively necessary to seek new resources; for, between 1763 and 
1773 the National Debt had increased from £521,161 to £999,686. 
In order to meet immediate wants, £565,000 was raised by the 
method of Tontine Annuities and Stamp Duties." {A History 
of England in the Eighteenth Century.) 

The tontine annuities were a method of raising funds for gov- 
ernment uses introduced into France about 1653 by Lorenzo 
Tonti, a Neapolitan banker. Each subscriber received an an- 
nuity during his lifetime, proportioned to his subscription and 
increasing as the number of subscribers was diminished by death. 
The Government usually permanently retained the principal 
subscribed. The investment was considered attractive because 
it held out the hope of a long-continued and eventually a very 
large return. The English Government formerly raised frequent 
loans by this method. 


sit down to dinner with a dozen of his own secu- [405 
rities; have a score of tradesmen waiting in the ante- 
chamber, and an officer behind every guest's chair. 

Joseph S. This may be entertainment to you, gentle- 
men, but you pay very little regard to the feelings 
of a brother. 410 

Maria. Their malice is intolerable. Lady Sneer- 
well, I must wish you a good morning: I'm not very 

well. [Exit Maria. 

Mrs. Can. O dear! she changes colour very much. 

Lady Sneer. Do, Mrs. Candour, follow her: she [415 
may want assistance. 

Mrs. Can. That I will, with all my soul, ma'am. 
Poor dear girl, who knows what her situation may be! 

[Exit Mrs. Candour. 

Lady Sneer. 'T was nothing but that she could not 
bear to hear Charles reflected on, notwithstand- [420 
ing their difference. 

Sir Benj. B. The young lady's penchant is obvious. 

Craht. But, Benjamin, you must not give up the 
pursuit for that: follow her, and put her into good 
humour. Repeat her some of your own verses. [425 
Come, I '11 assist you. 

Sir Benj. B. Mr. Surface, I did not mean to hurt 
you; but depend on't your brother is utterly undone. 

405. securities: persons who had become surety for him to 
those from whom he had borrowed money. 

407. an officer behind every guest's chair. The officers re- 
sponsible for the carrying out of an execution for debt, when 
once in possession, were not allowed to leave the house contain- 
ing the property seized or to permit anything to be removed until 
the debt was paid. In this exercise of their duty, they were 
sometimes disguised as liveried servants and waited upon the 
company in that capacity. 


Crabt. O Lud, ay! undone as ever man was. Can't 
raise a guinea! 430 

Sir Ben j. B. And everything sold, I'm told, that 
was movable. 

Crabt. I have seen one that was at his house. Not 
a thing left but some empty bottles that were over- 
looked, and the family pictures, which I believe [435 
are framed in the wainscots. 

Sir Benj. B. And I'm very sorry, also, to hear some 
bad stories against him. [Going. 

Crabt. Oh! he has done many mean things, that's 
certain. 440 

Sir Benj. B. But, however, as he 's your brother 


Crabt. We '11 tell you all another opportunity. 

[Exit Crabtree and Sir Benjamin. 

Lady Sneer. Ha ! ha ! 't is very hard for them to leave 
a subject they have not quite run down. 

Joseph S. And I believe the abuse was no more [445 
acceptable to your ladyship than Maria. 

Lady Sneer. I doubt her affections are farther en- 
gaged than we imagine. But the family are to be here 
this evening, so you may as well dine where you are, 
and we shall have an opportunity of observing [450 
farther; in the mean time, I'll go and plot mischief, 
and you shall study sentiment. [Exeunt. 

Scene II. Sir Peter's House. 

Enter Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter T. When an old bachelor marries a young 
wife, what is he to expect? 'T is now six months since 

447. doubt: suspect. 

Scene II. Sir Peter's House. Of the method of staging a play 


Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men; and I have 
been the most miserable dog ever since! We tifted 
a little going to church, and fairly quarrelled [5 
before the bells had done ringing. I was more than 
once nearly choked with gall during the honeymoon, 
and had lost all comfort in life before my friends had 
done wishing me joy. Yet I chose with caution — a girl 
bred wholly in the country, who never knew lux- [lO 
ury beyond one silk gown, nor dissipation above the 
annual gala of a race ball. Yet now she plays her part 
in all the extravagant fopperies of the fashion and the 
town, with as ready a grace as if she had never seen 
a bush or a grass-plot out of Grosvenor Square! [l5 
I am sneered at by all my acquaintance, and para- 
demanding frequent changes of scene — as practiced at the 
Drury Lane Theatre — Professor Matthews writes: — 

"The proscenium-arch was about seventy feet wide; the 
stage was about the same depth; and there was an apron of 
eighteen feet in front of the curtain. The scenery was very much 
what we are still permitted to see in the present performance of 
the earlier and simpler Italian operas, — • that is to say, there was 
a drop-scene at the back, and there were on each side, and 
parallel with the drop, five or six 'wings,' representing trees or 
columns or side walls. It was through the broad openings between 
these wings that the performers came out on the stage. The 
place of the action could be shifted any number of times by 
merely pushing out half-scenes which met in the middle of the 
stage, and by sliding back the wings of the first set and sliding 
forward those of the second. 

" This is the method of presentation which allowed Sheridan 
to put two or three different places into a single act of the 
School for Scandal, and to display his characters first at Lady 
Sneerwell's and then at Lady Teazle's." {A Study of the Drama.) 

12. race-ball: a ball held as a part of the festivities attendant 
upon a series of races. 

16. paragraphed in the newspapers. Cf. Prologue, lines 21-24. 
Also, note to Lady Sneerwell's opening speech, page II. 


graphed in the newspapers. She dissipates my fortune, 
and contradicts all my humours; yet the worst of it 
is, I doubt I love her, or I should never bear all this. 
However, I '11 never be weak enough to own it. 20 

Enter Rowley. 

Rowley. Oh! Sir Peter, your servant; how is it 
with you, sir.'' 

Sir Peter T. Very bad, Master Rowley, very bad. 
I meet with nothing but crosses and vexations. 

Rowley. What can have happened to trouble [25 
you since yesterday.'* 

Sir Peter T. A good question to a married man! 

Rowley. Nay, I'm sure your lady. Sir Peter, can't 
be the cause of your uneasiness. 

Sir Peter T. Why, has anybody told you she [30 
was dead? 

Roidey. Come, come. Sir Peter, you love her, not- 
withstanding your tempers don't exactly agree. 

Sir Peter T. But the fault is entirely hers, Master 
Rowley. I am, myself, the sweetest tempered man [35 
alive, and hate a teasing temper; and so I tell her 
a hundred times a day. 

Rowley. Indeed! 

Sir Peter T. Ay ; and what is very extraordinary, in 
all our disputes she is always in the wrong! But [40 
Lady Sneerwell, and the set she meets at her house, en- 
courage the perverseness of her disposition. Then, to 
complete my vexation, Maria, my ward, whom I ought 
to have the power over, is determined to turn rebel 
too, and absolutely refuses the man whom I have [45 
long resolved on for her husband; meaning, I suppose, 
to bestow herself on his profligate brother. 


Rowley. You know, Sir Peter, I have always taken 
the liberty to differ with you on the subject of these 
two young gentlemen. I only wish you may not be [50 
deceived in your opinion of the elder. For Charles, 
my life on't! he will retrieve his errors yet. Their 
worthy father, once my honoured master, was, at his 
years, nearly as wild a spark; yet, when he died, he 
did not leave a more benevolent heart to lament [55 
his loss. 

Sir Peter T. You are wrong. Master Rowley. On 
their father's death, you know, I acted as a kind of 
guardian to them both, .till their uncle Sir Oliver's 
liberality gave them an early independence: of [60 
course, no person could have more opportunities of 
judging of their hearts, and I was never mistaken in 
my life. Joseph is indeed a model for the young men of 
the age. He is a man of sentiment, and acts up to the 
sentiments he professes ; but for the other, take my [65 
word for 't, if he had any grain of virtue by descent, he 
has dissipated it with the rest of his inheritance. Ah! 
my old friend. Sir Oliver, will be deeply mortifie(^ when 
he finds how part of his bounty has been misapplied. 

Rowley. I am sorry to find you so violent against [70 
the young man, because this may be the most critical 
period of his fortune. I came hither with news that 
will surprise you. 

Sir Peter T. What ! let me hear. 

Rowley. Sir Oliver is arrived, and at this moment [75 
in town. 

Sir Peter T. How! you astonish me! I thought 
you did not expect him this month. 

Roioley. I did not; but his passage has been remark- 
ably quick. 80 


Sir Peter T. Egad, I shall rejoice to see my old 
friend. 'T is fifteen years since we met. We have 
had many a day together; but does he still enjoin 
us not to inform his nephews of his arrival? 

Rowley. Most strictly. He means, before it is [85 
known, to make some trial of their dispositions. 

Sir Peter T. Ah! there needs no art to discover 
their merits; he shall have his way. But, pray, does 
he know I am married? 

Rowley. Yes, and will soon wish you joy. 90 

Sir Peter T. What, as we drink health to a friend in 
a consumption. Ah ! Oliver, will laugh at me. We 
used to rail at matrimony together, and he has been 
steady to his text. Well, he must be soon at my 
house, though! I'll instantly give orders for his [95 
reception. But, Master Rowley, don't drop a word 
that Lady Teazle and I ever disagree. 

Rowley. By no means. 

Sir Peter T. For I should never be able to stand 
Noll's jokes; so I'd have him think. Lord forgive [lOO 
me! that we are a very happy couple. 

Rowley. I understand you; but then you must be 
very careful not to differ while he is in the house with 

Sir Peter T. Egad, and so we must, and that's [105 
impossible. Ah ! Master Rowley, when an old bachelor 
marries a young wife, he deserves — no — the crime 
carries its punishment along with it. [Exeunt. 



Scene I. 

Enter Sir Peter and Lady Teazle. 

Sir Peter T. Lady Teazle, Lady Teazle," I'll not 
bear it! 

Lady T. Sir Peter, Sir Peter, you may bear it or 
not, as you please; but I ought to have my own way 
in everything, and what's more, I will, too. What! [5 
though I was educated in the country, I know very 
well that women of fashion in London are accountable 
to nobody after they are married. 

Sir Peter T. Very well, ma'am, very well; so a 
husband is to have no influence, no authority? 10 

1 Lady T. Authority ! No, to be sure ; if you wanted 
authority over me, you should have adopted me, and 
not married me: I am sure you were old enough. 

Sir Peter T. Old enough ! ay, there it is. Well, 
well. Lady Teazle, though my life may be made un- [l5 
happy by your temper, I'll not be ruined by your 

Lady T. My extravagance ! I 'm sure I 'm not more 
extravagant than a woman of fashion ought to be. 

Sir Peter T. No, no, madam, you shall throw [20 

away no more sums on such unmeaning luxury. 'Slif e ! 

to spend as much to furnish your dressing-room with 

flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the Pantheon 

23. Pantheon: a concert-hall in Oxford Street, London, 
opened in 1772. Its chief feature was a rotunda promenade room. 
Johnson thought it inferior to Ranelegh, but Walpole called it 
" the most beautiful edifice in England." (See Miss Burney's 
Evelina, Letter xxiii, and Wright's Caricature History of the 

S, XIV.) 


into a green-house, and give a fete champetre at 
Christmas. 25 

Lady T. And I am to blame, Sir Peter, because 
flowers are dear in cold weather? You should find 
fault with the climate, and not with me. For my 
part, I 'm sure, I wish it was spring all the year round, 
and that roses grew under our feet. 30 

Sir Peter T. Oons! madam; if you had been born 
to this, I should n't wonder at your talking thus; but 
you forget what your situation was when I married you. 

Lady T. No, no, I don't; 't was a very disagreeable 
one, or I should never have married you. 35 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes, madam; you were then in 
somewhat a humbler style: the daughter of a plain 
country squire. Recollect, Lady Teazle, when I saw 
you first sitting at your tambour, in a pretty figured 
linen gown, with a bunch of keys at your side; your [40 
hair combed smooth over a roll, and your apartment 
hung round with fruits in worsted, of your own 

Lady T. O, yes! I remember it very well, and a 
curious life I led. My daily occupation to inspect [45 
the dairy, superintend the poultry, make extracts from 
the family receipt book, and comb my aunt Debo- 
rah's lap-dog. 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes, ma'am, 't was so indeed. 

Lady T. And then, you know, my evening [50 
amusements! To draw patterns for ruffles, which I 
had not materials to make up; to play Pope Joan 

24. fete champetre: an open-air festival. 

39. tambour: a frame, usually circular, for holding embroid- 

52. Pope Joan: an old game of cards, resembling its modern 
derivative, Newmarket, or Stop. {Standard Dictionary.) 


with the curate ; to read a sermon to my aunt ; or to be 
stuck down to an old spinet to strum my father to 
sleep after a fox-chase. 55 

Sir Peter T. I am glad you have so good a memory. 
Yes, madam, these were the recreations I took you 
from; but now you must have your coach — vis-a-vis 
— and three powdered footmen before your chair; and 
in the summer, a pair of white cats to draw you to [60 
Kensington Gardens. No recollection, I suppose, 
when you were content to ride double, behind the 
butler, on a docked coach-horse? 

Lady T. No; I swear I never did that. I deny the 
butler and the coach-horse. 65 

Sir Peter T. This, madam, was your situation; and 
what have I done for you? I have made you a woman 
of fashion, of fortune, of rank; in short, I have made 
you my wife. 

Lady T. Well, then, and there is but one thing [70 
more you can make me to add to the obligation, and 
that is 

Sir Peter T. My widow, I suppose? 

Lady T. Hem! hem! 

Sir Peter T. I thank you, madam; but don't flat- [75 
ter yourself; for though your ill conduct may disturb 
my peace, it shall never break my heart, I promise 
you; however, I am equally obliged to you for the hint. 

Lady T. Then why will you endeavour to make 
yourself so disagreeable to me, and thwart me in [80 
every little elegant expense? 

58. vis-a-vis: a carriage in which persons sit face to face. 
(Webster's Neio Internalionat Dictionary.) 

59. chair; a sedan chair. 

61. Kensington Gardens: a public park in London on the 
westerly side of Hyde Park, the fashionable drive. 


Sir Peter T. 'Slife, madam, I say, had you any 
of these little elegant expenses when you married 

Lady T. Lud, Sir Peter! would you have me be [85 
out of the fashion? 

Sir Peter T. The fashion, indeed! what had you to 
do with the fashion before you married me? 

Lady T. For my part, I should think you would 
like to have your wife thought a woman of taste. 90 

Sir Peter T. Ay, there again; taste! Zounds! ma- 
dam, you had no taste when you married me ! 

Lady T. That's very true indeed. Sir Peter; and 
after having married you, I should never pretend to 
taste again, I allow. But now, Sir Peter, if we have [95 
finished our daily jangle, I presume I may go to my 
engagement at Lady Sneerwell's. 

Sir Peter T. Ah, there's another precious circum- 
stance; a charming set of acquaintance you have made 
there. 100 

Lady T. Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of 
rank and fortune, and remarkably tenacious of repu- 

Sir Peter T. Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputa- 
tion with a vengeance; for they don't choose any- [l05 
body should have a character but themselves! Such 
a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle 
who has done less mischief than these utterers of 
forged tales, coiners of scandal, and clippers of repu- 
tation. 110 

107. rid on a hurdle. The hurdle was the rough cart on which 
criminals were taken to execution. Counterfeiting or mutilating 
money was in England at one time punished by death. 

109. clippers of reputation. " The figure of speech is derived 


Lady T. What! would you restrain the freedom of 
speech ? 

Sir Peter T. Ah! they have made you just as bad 
as any one of the society. 

Lady T. Why, I believe I do bear a part with a [115 
tolerable grace. But I vow I bear no malice against 
the people I abuse. When I say an ill-natured thing, 
't is out of pure good humour; and I take it for granted, 
they deal exactly in the same manner with me. But, 
Sir Peter, you know you promised to come to [120 
Lady Sneerwell's too. 

Sir Peter T. Well, well, I'll call in just to look after 
my own character. 

Lady T. Then indeed you must make haste after 
me, or you '11 be too late. So, good-bye to ye. 125 

[Exit Lady Teazle. 

Sir Peter T. So, I have gained much by my in- 
tended expostulation; yet, with what a charming air 
she contradicts everything I say, and how pleasingly 
she shows her contempt for my authority! Well, 
though I can't make her love me, there is great [l30 
satisfaction in quarrelling with her; and I think she 
never appears to such advantage as when she is doing 
everything in her power to plague me. [Exit. 

Scene II. At Lady Sneerwell's. 

Lady Sneerwell, Mrs. Candour, Crabtree, Sir Benjamin Back- 
bite, and Joseph Surface discovered. 

Lady Sneer. Nay, positively, we will hear it. 

Joseph S. Yes, yes, the epigram, by all means. 

Sir Benj. B. O plague on 't, uncle ! 't is mere nonsense. 

from the practice of clipping the edges of coins, a practice which 
led to milling the edges to prevent loss." (Nettleton.) 


Crabt. No, no; 'fore Gad, very clever for an ex- 
tempore ! 5 

Sir Benj. B. But, ladies, you should be acquainted 
with the circumstances. You must know, that one day 
last week, as Lady Betty Curricle was taking the dust 
in Hyde Park, in a sort of duodecimo phaeton, she 
desired me to write some verses on her ponies, upon [lO 
which I took out my pocket-book, and in one mo- 
ment produced the following : — 

Sure never were seen two such beautiful ponies; 
Other horses are clowns, but these macaronies : 

9. Hyde Park: a large park in the western part of London. 

9. duodecimo: here, diminutive. 

14. macaronies: a term 6rst used in England about 1760 to 
designate the fops and exquisites who affected foreign ways. 
As the Italians considered their dish of macaroni " the summiim 
bonum of all good eating, so they figuratively call everything 
they think elegant and uncommon, 'macaroni.'" "In adopting 
foreign fashions of dress and affected pronunciations of English 
words. Englishmen . . . often went to the most extravagant 
lengths and made themselves the laughing-stock of all sensible 
people. Young exquisites who had traveled in Italy, and who, as 
Walpole says, wore 'long curls and spying-glasses,' founded the 
Macaroni Club, to which no one could be admitted who had 
not traveled abroad. This club drew in the most representative 
of the younger men of rank and fashion that used to gather at 
Brookes's, and they speedily attracted attention by their ab- 
surd style of dress and exaggerated foreign manners. Charles 
James Fox 'led the fashion among the macaronis. After his 
visit to Italy he and his cousin posted from Paris to Lyons sim- 
ply in order to choose patterns for their waistcoats; he appeared 
in London in red-heeled shoes and blue hair-powder, and up to 
the age of twenty-five, sometimes at least, wore a hat and a 
feather in the House of Commons.' 

"Follies of this sort naturally invited satire. A writer in the 
'Oxford Magazine' for June, 1770, says: 'There is indeed a kind 
of animal, neither male nor female, a thing the neuter gender, 
lately started up amongst us. It is called a Macaroni. It talks 


To give them this title I'm sure can't be wrong, [15 
Their legs are so slim, and their tails are so long. 

Crabt. There, ladies, done in the smack of a whip, 
and on horseback too. 

Joseph S. A very Phoebus mounted, indeed. Sir Ben- 
jamin. 20 

Sir Benj. B. O dear sir! trifles, trifles. 
Enter Lady Teazle and Maria. 

Mrs. Can. I must have a copy. 

Lady Sneer. Lady Teazle, I hope we shall see Sir 

Lady T. I believe he'll wait on your ladyship [25 

Lady Sneer. Maria, my love, you look grave. Come, 
you shall set down to piquet with Mr. Surface. 

Maria. I take very little pleasure in cards; however, 
I '11 do as you please. 30 

Lady T. I am surprised Mr. Surface should sit down 
with her; I thought he would have embraced this 
opportunity of speaking to me, before Sir Peter came. 


Mrs. Can. Now, I '11 die, but you are so scandalous, 
I 'II forswear your society. 35 

without meaning, it smiles without pleasantry, it eats without 
appetite, it rides without exercise." (W. E. Mead, in The Grand 
Tour in the Eighteenth Century.) 

In Garrick's The Male Coquette, a character, II Marchese di 
Macaroni, a sham Italian, was made the means of ridiculing the 
dandy of the time. In the American Revolution, a body of Mary- 
land troops wearing a rich uniform were called macaroni. Re- 
call also the use of the word in " Yankee Doodle." 

16, Their tails are so long. The macaronies wore wigs with 
notoriously long tails. 

19. Phoebus. Phoebus Apollo was the god of poetry. 


Lady T. What's the matter, Mrs. Candour? 

Mrs. Can. They'll not allow our friend, Miss Ver- 
milion, to be handsome. 

Lady Sneer. O surely she is a pretty woman. 

Crabt. I 'm very glad you think so, ma'am. 40 

Mrs. Can. She has a charming fresh colour. 

Lady T. Yes, when it is fresh put on. 

Mrs. Can. O fie! I'll swear her colour is natural; I 
have seen it come and go. 

Lady T. I dare swear you have, ma'am; it goes [45 
off at night, and comes again in the morning. 

Sir Benj. B. True, ma'am, it not only comes and 
goes, but what's more, egad! her maid can fetch and 
carry it. 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! how I hate to hear you [50 
talk so! But surely, now, her sister is, or was, very 

Crabt. Who? Mrs. Evergreen? O Lord! she's six 
and fifty if she's an hour. 

Mrs. Can. Now positively you wrong her; fifty- [55 
two or fifty -three is the utmost; and I don't think she 
looks more. 

Sir Benj. B. Ah ! there 's no judging by her looks, 
unless one could see her face. 

Lady Sneer. Well, well, if Mrs. Evergreen does [60 
take some pains to repair the ravages of time, you must 
allow she effects it with great ingenuity, and surely 
that's better than the careless manner in which the 
widow Ochre chalks her wrinkles. 

Sir Benj. B. Nay, now. Lady Sneerwell, you are [65 
severe upon the widow. Come, come, 't is not that she 
paints so ill, but when she has finished her face, she 
joins it so badly to her neck, that she looks like a 


mended statue, in which the connoisseur sees at once 
that the head 's modern though the trunk 's antique. 70 

Crabt. Ha! ha! ha! well said, nephew. 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! well, you make me laugh, 
but I vow I hate you for it. What do you think of 
Miss Simper? 

Sir Benj. B. Why, she has very pretty teeth. 75 

Lady T. Yes, and on that account, when she is 
neither speaking nor laughing (which very seldom 
happens), she never absolutely shuts her mouth, but 

leaves it always on a jar, as it were — thus — 

[Shows her teeth. 

Mrs. Can. How can you be so ill-natured.? 80 

Lady T. Nay, I allow even that's better than the 
pains Mrs. Prim takes to conceal her losses in front. 
She draws her mouth till it positively resembles the 
aperture of a poor's box, and all her words appear to 
slide out edgewise, as it were thus. How do you do, [85 
madam? Yes, madam. 

Lady Sneer. Very well. Lady Teazle; I see you can 
be a little severe. 

Lady T. In defence of a friend it is but justice. 
But here comes Sir Peter to spoil our pleasantry. 90 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle. 

Sir Peter T. Ladies, your most obedient. Mercy on 
me! here is the whole set! a character dead at every 
word, I suppose. [Aside. 

92-93. a character dead at every word, I suppose. Cf. Pope's 
"At every word a reputation dies." ( The Rape of the Lock: iii, 16.) 

" This scandal scene of Sheridan's had predecessors in the 
comedies of Congreve and of Wycherley, not to go back as far 
as the Misanthrope of Moliere. Hard and cruel as Sheridan's 
scene now seems to us, it is gentle indeed when contrasted with 
the cudgel-play of Congreve and Wycherley. It is possible that 


Mrs. Can. I am rejoiced you are come, Sir Peter. 
They have been so censorious; and Lady Teazle as [95 
bad as any one. 

Sir Peter T. It must be very distressing to you, Mrs. 
Candour, I dare swear. 

Mrs. Can. O, they will allow good qualities to no- 
body; not even good nature to our friend Mrs. [lOO 

Lady T. What, the fat dowager who was at Mrs. 
Quadrille's last night? 

Mrs. Can. Nay, her bulk is her misfortune; and 
when she takes such pains to get rid of it, you [105 
ought not to reflect on her. 

Lady Sneer. That's very true, indeed. 

Lady T. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and 
small whey; laces herself by pullies; and often in the 
hottest noon in summer, you may see her on a little [llO 
squat pony, with her hair plaited up behind like a 
drummer's, and puffing round the Ring on a full trot. 

Mrs. Can. I thank you, Lady Teazle, for defending 

Sir Peter T. Yes, a good defence, truly! 115 

Mrs. Can. Truly, Lady Teazle is as censorious as 
Miss Sallow. 

Sheridan owed some of his comparative suavity to the example 
of Addison, who contributed to No. 17 of The Spectator, a ' Fine 
Lady's Journal,' in which there is a passage of tittle-tattle more 
like Sheridan than Wycherley or Congreve." (Matthews.) 

112. the Ring. "Charles II laid out in Hyde Park a drive 
around an enclosed circle, about three hundred yards in diam- 
eter. One set of coaches circled the drive in one direction, and 
another in the opposite, thus affording the fashionable a chance 
to exchange greetings." (Nettleton.) It is mentioned in Pope's 
The Rape of the Lock, in The Spectator, in Swift's Cadenus and 
Vanessa, and other eighteenth-century literature. 


Craht. Yes, and she is a curious being to pretend to 
be censorious — an awkward gawky, without any one 
good point under heaven. 120 

Mrs. Can. Positively you shall not be so very severe. 
Miss Sallow is a near relation of mine by marriage, and 
as for her person, great allowance is to be made; for, 
let me tell you, a woman labours under many disad- 
vantages who tries to pass for a girl at six-and- [l25 

Lady Sneer. Though, surely, she is handsome still; 
and for the weakness in her eyes, considering how much 
she reads by candlelight, it is not to be wondered at. 

Mrs. Can. True, and then as to her manner; [130 
upon my word I think it is particularly graceful, con- 
sidering she had never had the least education; for 
you know her mother was a Welsh milliner, and her 
father a sugar-baker at Bristol. 

Sir Benj. B. Ah! you are both of you too good [135 
natured ! 

Sir Peter T. Yes, damned good natured ! This their 
own relation! mercy on me! [Aside. 

Mrs. Can. For my part, I own I cannot bear to hear 
a friend ill spoken of. 140 

Sir Peter T. No, to be sure! 

Sir Benj. B. Oh! you are of a moral turn. Mrs. 
Candour and I can sit for an hour and hear Lady 
Stucco talk sentiment. 

Lady T. Nay, I vow Lady Stucco is very well [145 
with the dessert after dinner; for she's just like the 
French fruits one cracks for mottoes — made up of 
paint and proverb. 

147. French fruits : a dinner favor. The context supplies a hint 
as to the form. In Fraser Rae's Sheridan's Plays now printed as 
he wrote them:, the reading is " Sp'anish " fruit. 


Mrs. Can. Well, I never will join in ridiculing a 
friend; and so I constantly tell my cousin Ogle, [150 
and you all know what pretensions she has to be criti- 
cal on beauty. 

Crabt. O to be sure ! she has herself the oddest coun- 
tenance that ever was seen ; 't is a collection of features 
from all the different countries of the globe. 155 

Sir Benj. B. So she has, indeed — an Irish front — 

Crabt. Caledonian locks — 

Sir Benj. B. Dutch nose — 

Crabt. Austrian lips — 

Sir Benj. B. Complexion of a Spaniard — 160 

Crabt. And teeth a la Chinois. 

Sir Benj. B. In short, her face resembles a table 
d^hote at Spa, where no two guests are of a nation — 

Crabt. Or a congress at the close of a general war — 
wherein all the members, even to her eyes, appear [165 
to have a different interest, and her nose and chin are 
the only parties likely to join issue. 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Peter T. Mercy on my life! — a person they 
dine with twice a week. [Aside. [i70 

Lady Sneer. Go, go; you are a couple of provoking 

155. from all the different countries of the globe. Cf. Portia's 
description of her suitor, Falconbridge, " the young baron of 
England." {Merchant of Venice, i, ii, 66.) " How oddly is he 
suited! 1 think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in 
France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere." 

157. Caledonian: Scotch: i.e., red. 

161. a la Chinois: Chinese: i.e., black. 

163. Spa. " The oldest, and formerly one of the best-known 
of the large European watering-places, just across the German 
border, in the province of Liege, Belgium." (J. Q. Adams, Jr.) 


Mrs. Can. Nay, but I vow you shall not carry 
the laugh off so; for give me leave to say that Mrs. 
Ogle 175 

Sir Peter T. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon; 
there's no stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. 
But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, that the lady they 
are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope you '11 
not take her part. 180 

Lady Sneer. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, Sir Peter! 
But you are a cruel creature — too phlegmatic yourself 
for a jest, and too peevish to allow wit in others. 

Sir Peter T. Ah ! madam, true wit is more nearly al- 
lied to good-nature than your ladyship is aware of. [185 

Lady T. True, Sir Peter. I believe they are so near 
akin that they can never be united. 

Sir Benj. B. Or rather, madam, suppose them to be 
man and wife, because one seldom sees them together. 

Lady T. But Sir Peter is such an enemy to scan- [190 
dal, I believe he would have it put down by Parliament. 

Sir Peter T. 'Fore heaven, madam, if they were to 
consider the sporting with reputation of as much im- 
portance as poaching on manors, and pass an Act for 
the preservation of fame, I believe there are many [195 
would thank them for the bill. 

Lady Sneer. O Lud! Sir Peter; would you deprive 
us of our privileges .f* 

Sir Peter T. Ay, madam ; and then no person should 
be permitted to kill characters and run down [200 

186. so near akin that they can never be united. Brown sug- 
gests comparison with UntlevsHudibras, iii, i, 1293-96: — 

"'Cause grace and virtue are within 
Prohibited degrees of kin: 
And therefore no true saint allows 
They shall be suffered to espouse." 


reputations, but qualified old maids and disappointed 

Lady Sneer. Go, you monster! 

Mrs. Can. But, surely, you would not be quite so 
severe on those who only report what they hear? [205 

Sir Peter T. Yes, madam, I would have law mer- 
chant for them too; and in all cases of slander cur- 
rency, whenever the drawer of the lie was not to be 
found, the injured parties should have a right to come 
on any of the indorsers. 210 

Craht. Well, for my part, I believe there never was 
a scandalous tale without some foundation. 

Sir Peter T. O, nine out of ten of the malicious in- 
ventions are founded on some ridiculous misrepre- 
sentation. 215 

Lady Sneer. Come, ladies, shall we sit down to cards 
in the next room? 

Enter a Servant, who whispers Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter T. I'll be with them directly. I'll get 
away unperceived. [Apart. 

\Lady Sneer. Sir Peter, you are not going to [220 
leave us? 

Sir Peter T. Your ladyship must excuse me; I'm 
called away by particular business. But I leave my 
character behind me. [Exit Sir Peter. 

Sir Benj. B. Well; certainly. Lady Teazle, that [225 
lord of yours is a strange being; I could tell you 
some stories of him would make you laugh heartily 
if he were not your husband. 

Lady T. O, pray don't mind that; come, do let's 
hear them. 2'iO 

[Joins the rest of the company going into the next room. 
206. law merchant: mercantile law. 


Joseph S. Maria, I see you have no satisfaction in 
this society. 

Maria. How is it possible I should? If to raise 
malicious smiles at the infirmities or misfortunes of 
those who have never injured us be the province [235 
of wit or humour, Heaven grant me a double portion 
of dulness! 

Joseph S. Yet they appear more ill-natured than 
they are; they have no malice at heart. 

Maria. Then is their conduct still more con- [240 
temptible; for, in my opinion, nothing could excuse 
the interference of their tongues, but a natural and 
uncontrollable bitterness of mind. 

Joseph S. Undoubtedly, madam; and it has always 
been a sentiment of mine, that to propagate a ma- [245 
licious truth wantonly is more despicable than to 
falsify from revenge. But can you, Maria, feel thus for 
others, and be unkind to me alone? Is hope to be 
denied the tenderest passion? 

Maria. Why will you distress me by renewing [250 
the subject? 

Joseph S. Ah, Maria! you would not treat me thus, 
and oppose your guardian. Sir Peter's will, but that 
I see that profligate Charles is still a favoured rival. 

Maria. Ungenerously urged! But whatever [255 
my sentiments are for that unfortunate young man, 
be assured I shall not feel more bound to give him up, 
because his distresses have lost him the regard even 
of a brother. 

Joseph S. Nay, but Maria, do not leave me [260 

with a frown; by all that's honest, I swear [kneels] 

Re-enter Lady Teazle, behind. 

[Aside.] Gad's life, here's Lady Teazle! [Aloud to 


Maria] You must not; no, you shall not; for, though 
I have the greatest regard for Lady Teazle 

Maria. Lady Teazle! 265 

Joseph S. Yet were Sir Peter to suspect 

Lady T. [Coming forward.] What is this, pray? Do 
you take her for me? Child, you are wanted in the 
next room. [Exit Maria.] What is all this, pray? 

Joseph S. O, the most unlucky circumstance [270 
in nature! Maria has somehow suspected the tender 
concern I had for your happiness, and threatened to 
acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions, and I was just 
endeavouring to reason with her when you came in. 

Lady T. Indeed! but you seemed to adopt a [275 
very tender mode of reasoning; do you usually argue 
on your knees? 

Joseph S. O, she's a child, and I thought a little 

bombast But Lady Teazle, when are you to give 

me your judgment on my library, as you promised? [280 

Lady T. No, no; I begin to think it would be im- 
prudent, and you know I admit you as a lover no 
farther than fashion sanctions. 

Joseph S. True, a mere platonic cicisbeo — what 
every wife is entitled to. 285 

Lady T. Certainly, one must not be out of the 
fashion. However, I have so much of my country 
prejudices left, that, though Sir Peter's ill-humour 
may vex me ever so, it never shall provoke me to 

Joseph S. The only revenge in your power. [290 
Well; I applaud your moderation. 

Lady T. Go; you are an insinuating wretch. But 
we shall be missed; let us join the company. 

284. cicisbeo: an Italian word, meaning the recognized gal- 
lant of a married woman. (Webster's New International Dic- 


Joseph S. But we had best not return together. 

Lady T. Well, don't stay; for Maria sha'n't [295 
come to hear any more of your reasoning, I promise 
you. [Exit Lady Teazle. 

Joseph S. A curious dilemma my politics have run 
me into! I wanted, at first, only to ingratiate myself 
with Lady Teazle, that she might not be my enemy [300 
with Maria; and I have, I don't know how, become 
her serious lover. Sincerely I begin to wish I had 
never made such a point of gaining so very good a 
character, for it has led me into so many cursed 
rogueries that I doubt I shall be exposed at last. 305 


Scene IIL Sir Peter Teazle's. 

Enter Rowley and Sir Oliver Surface. 

Sir Oliver S. Ha! ha! ha! So my old friend is 
married, hey? a young wife out of the country. Ha! 
ha! ha! that he should have stood bluff to old bache- 
lor so long, and sink into a husband at last. 

Rowley. But you must not rally him on the sub- [5 
ject, Sir Oliver; 't is a tender point, I assure you, though 
he has been married only seven months. 

Sir Oliver S. Then he has been just half a year on 
the stool of repentance! Poor Peter! But you say he 
has entirely given up Charles; never sees him, hey? [lO 

Rowley. His prejudice against him is astonishing, 
and I am sure greatly increased by a jealousy of him 
with Lady Teazle, which he has industriously been 
led into by a scandalous society in the neighbourhood, 
who have contributed not a little to Charles's [15 
ill name. Whereas the truth is, I believe, if the 
lady is partial to either of them, his brother is the 


Sir Oliver S. Ay, I know there is a set of mali- 
cious, prating, prudent gossips, both male and fe- [20 
male, who murder characters to kill time; and will rob 
a young fellow of his good name, before he has years 
to know the value of it. But I am not to be prejudiced 
against my nephew by such, I promise you. No, no; 
if Charles has done nothing false or mean, I shall [25 
compound for his extravagance. 

Rowley. Then, my life on't, you will reclaim him. 
Ah, sir! it gives me new life to find that your heart 
is not turned against him; and that the son of my 
good old master has one friend, however, left. 30 

Sir Oliver S. What, shall I forget. Master Rowley, 
when I was at his years myself? Egad, my brother 
and I were neither of us very prudent youths; and 
yet, I believe, you have not seen many better men 
than your old master was. 35 

Rowley. Sir, 't is this reflection gives me assurance 
that Charles may yet be a credit to his family. But 
here comes Sir Peter. 

Sir Oliver S. Egad, so he does. Mercy on me! he's 
greatly altered, and seems to have a settled mar- 40 
ried look! One may read husband in his face at this 
distance ! 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle. 

Sir Peter T. Ha! Sir Oliver, my old friend! Wel- 
come to England a thousand times! 

Sir Oliver S. Thank you — thank you. Sir Peter ! [45 
and i 'faith I am glad to find you well, believe me. 

Sir Peter T. Oh! 't is a long time since we met — 
fifteen years, I doubt. Sir Oliver, and many a cross 
accident in the time. 

Sir Oliver S. Ay, I have had my share. But [50 


what! I find you are married, hey? Well, well, it 
can't be helped; and so — I wish you joy with all my 

Sir Peter T. Thank you, thank you, Sir Oliver. 
Yes, I have entered into — the happy state; but [55 
we '11 not talk of that now. 

Sir Oliver S. True, true. Sir Peter; old friends 
should not begin on grievances at first meeting; no, 
no, no. 

Rowley. Take care, pray, sir. 60 

Sir Oliver S. Well; so one of my nephews is a wild 
fellow, hey.'' 

Sir Peter T. Wild! Ah! my old friend, I grieve 
for your disappointment there; he's a lost young man, 
indeed. However, his brother will make you [65 
amends. Joseph is, indeed, what a youth should be. 
Everybody in the world speaks well of him. 

Sir Oliver S. I am sorry to hear it; he has too 
good a character to be an honest fellow. Everybody 
speaks well of him ! Pshaw ! then he has bowed as [70 
low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of 
genius and virtue. 

Sir Peter T. What, Sir Oliver! do you blame him 
for not making enemies? 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, if he has merit enough to de- [75 
serve them. 

Sir Peter T. Well, well ; you '11 be convinced when 
you know him. 'T is edification to hear him converse; 
he professes the noblest sentiments. 

Sir Oliver S. Oh ! plague of his sentiments ! If he [80 
salutes me with a scrap of morality in his mouth, I 
shall be sick directly. But, however, don't mistake 
me, Sir Peter; I don't mean to defend Charles's 


errors; but before I form my judgment of either of 
them, I intend to make a trial of their hearts; and [85 
my friend Rowley and I have planned something for 
the purpose. 

Rowley. And Sir Peter shall own for once he has 
been mistaken. 

Sir Peter T. Oh! my life on Joseph's honour. 90 

Sir Oliver S. Well — come, give us a bottle of good 
wine, and we '11 drink the lads' health, and tell you our 

Sir Peter T. Allans, then! 

Sir Oliver S. And don't. Sir Peter, be so severe [95 
against your old friend's son. Odds my life! I am not 
sorry that he has run out of the course a little; for 
my part I hate to see prudence clinging to the green 
suckers of youth; 't is like ivy round a sapling, and 
spoils the growth of the tree. [Exeunt. 


Scene I. Sir Peter Teazle's. \ 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle, Sir Oliver Surface, and Rowley. 

Sir Peter T. Well, then, we will see this fellow first, 
and have our wine afterwards; but how is this, Master 
Rowley.'' I don't see the jet of your scheme. 

Rowley. Why, sir, this Mr. Stanley, who I was 
speaking of, is nearly related to them by their [5 
mother. He was a merchant in Dublin, but has been 
ruined by a series of undeserved misfortunes. He has 

99. suckers: shoots thrown out from the root or base of a 
tree. Figuratively, the natural instincts of youth. ^ 
3. jet: gist, point. 


applied, by letter, to Mr. Surface and Charles; from 
the former he has received nothing but evasive prom- 
ises of future service, while Charles has done all [10 
that his extravagance has left him power to do, and 
he is, at this time, endeavouring to raise a sum of 
money, part of which, in the midst of his own distresses, 
I know he intends for the service of poor Stanley. 

Sir Oliver S. Ah! he is my brother's son. 15 

Sir Peter T. Well, but how is Sir Oliver personally 

Rowley. Why, sir, I will inform Charles and his 
brother that Stanley has obtained permission to apply 
personally to his friends, and as they have neither [20 
of them ever seen him, let Sir Oliver assume his char- 
acter, and he will have a fair opportunity of judging, at 
least, of the benevolence of their dispositions ; and be- 
lieve me, sir, you will find in the youngest brother one 
who, in the midst of folly and dissipation, has still, [25 
as our immortal bard expresses it, "a heart to pity, 
and a hand, open as day, for melting charity." 

Sir Peter T. Pshaw ! What signifies his having an 
open hand or purse either, when he has nothing left to 
give? Well, well, make the trial, if you please. But [30 
where is the fellow whom you brought for Sir Oliver 
to examine, relative to Charles's affairs? 

Rowley. Below, waiting his commands, and no one 
can give him better intelligence. This, Sir Oliver, is a 
friendly Jew, who, to do him justice, has done [35 
everything in his power to bring your nephew to a 
proper sense of his extravagance. 

Sir Peter T. Pray let us have him in. 

26. a heart to pity. Quoted from Shakespeare's II Henry IV, 
IV, iv, 31-32. 


Rowley. Desire Mr. Moses to walk upstairs. 

[Apart to Servant. 

Sir Peter T. But, pray, why should you sup- [40 
pose he will speak the truth.'* 

Rowley. Oh! I have convinced him that he has no 
chance of recovering certain sums advanced to Charles, 
but through the bounty of Sir Oliver, who he knows is 
arrived, so that you may depend on his fidelity to [45 
his own interests. I have also another evidence in my 
power — one Snake, whom I have detected in a mat- 
ter little short of forgery, and shall speedily produce 
him to remove some of your prejudices. 

Sir Peter T. I have heard too much on that [50 

Rowley. Here comes the honest Israelite. 

Enter Moses. 

This is Sir Oliver. 

Sir Oliver S. Sir, I understand you have lately had 
great dealings with my nephew, Charles. 

Moses. Yes, Sir Oliver, I have done all I could [55 
for him; but he was ruined before he came to me for 

Sir Oliver S. That was unlucky, truly; for you have 
had no opportunity of showing your talents. 

Moses. None at all; I had n't the pleasure of [60 
knowing his distresses till he was some thousands 
worse than nothing. 

Sir Oliver S. Unfortunate, indeed! But I suppose 
you have done all in your power for him, honest 
Moses? 65 

Moses. Yes, he knows that. This very evening I 
was to have brought him a gentleman from the city, 
who does not know him, and will, I believe, advance 
kim some money. 


Sir Peter T. What ! one Charles has never had [70 
money from before? 

Moses. Yes; Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars, 
formerly a broker. 

Sir Peter T. Egad, Sir Oliver, a thought strikes me ! 
Charles, you say, does not know Mr. Premium? [75 

Moses. Not at all. 

Sir Peter T. Now then. Sir Oliver, you may have a 
better opportunity of satisfying yourself than by an old 
romancing tale of a poor relation. Go with my friend 
Moses, and represent Premium, and then, I'll an- 80 
swer for it, you '11 see your nephew in all his glory. 

• Sir Oliver S. Egad, I like this idea better than the 
other, and I may visit Joseph afterwards as Old 

Sir Peter T. True, so you may. [85 

Rowley. Well, this is taking Charles rather at a 
disadvantage, to be sure. However, Moses, you un- 
derstand Sir Peter, and will be faithful? 

Moses. You may depend upon me. This is near 
the time I was to have gone. 90 

Sir Oliver S. I'll accompany you as soon as you 
please, Moses. But hold! I have forgot one thing — 
how the plague shall I be able to pass for a Jew? 

Moses. There's no need — the principal is Christian. 

Sir Oliver S. Is he? I'm very sorry to hear it. [95 
But then, again, a'n't I rather too smartly dressed to 
look like a money lender? 

Sir Peter T. Not at all ; 't would not be out of 
character if you went in your own carriage — would 
it, Moses? 100 

72. Crutched Friars: a street in London, near the Tower. 
The name comes from the religious order, Crossed, or Crouched, 
Friars (1244-1656) who had a convent in this neighborhood. 


Moses. Not in the least. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, but how must I talk? There's 
certainly some cant of usury and mode of treating that 
I ought to know. 

,Sir Peter T. O ! there 's not much to learn. The [105 
great point, as I take it, is to be exorbitant enough in 
your demands — hey, Moses .f* 

Moses. Yes, that 's a very great point. 

Sir Oliver S. I'll answer for't I'll not be wanting in 
that. I'll ask him eight or ten per cent, on the [llO 
loan, at least. 

Moses. If you ask him no more than that, you '11 be 
discovered immediately. 

Sir Oliver S. Hey! what the plague! How much, 
then? 115 

Moses. That depends upon the circumstances. If he 
appears not very anxious for the supply, you should 
require only forty or fifty per cent.; but if you find 
him in great distress, and want the moneys very bad, 
you may ask double. 120 

Sir Peter T. A good honest trade you're learning, 
Sir Oliver! 

Sir Oliver S. Truly, I think so; and not unprofit- 

Moses. Then, you know, you hav' n't the mon- [125 
eys yourself, but are forced to borrow them for him of 
an old friend. 

Sir Oliver S. Oh! I borrow it of a friend, do I? 

Moses. And your friend is an unconscionable dog; 
but you can't help that. 130 

Sir Oliver S. My friend an unconscionable dog? 

126. forced to borrow them for him. Shylock in The Merchant 
of Venice (i, iii) says that he has to borrow of Tubal. (Brown.) 


Moses. Yes, and he himself has not the moneys by 
him, but is forced to sell stock at a great loss. 

Sir Oliver S. He is forced to sell stock at a great 
loss, is he? Well, that's very kind of him. 135 

Sir Peter T. I ' faith, Sir Oliver — Mr. Premium, I 
mean — you '11 soon be master of the trade. But, 
Moses! would not you have him run out a little 
against the Annuity Bill? That would be in character, 
I should think. 140 

Moses. Very much. 

Rowley. And lament that a young man now must 
be at years of discretion before he is suffered to ruin 

Moses. Ay, great pity! 145 

Sir Peter T. And abuse the public for allowing 
merit to an Act, whose only object is to snatch mis- 
fortune and imprudence from the rapacious gripe of 
usury, and give the minor a chance of inheriting 
his estate without being undone by coming into [l50 

Sir Oliver S. So, so; Moses shall give me further 
instructions as we go together. 

Sir Peter T. You will not have much time, for 
your nephew lives hard by. 155 

Sir Oliver S. O! never fear; my tutor appears so 
able, that though Charles lived in the next street, it 

139. Annuity Bill. " In 1777 a committee of the House of 
Commons was appointed to inquire into the laws concerning 
usury and annuities; and on its report in May, the month in 
which this play was first acted, a bill was brought in and passed, 
providing that all contracts with minors for annuities shall be 
void, and that those procuring them and solicitors charging more 
than ten shillings per cent shall be subject to fine or imprison- 
ment." (Matthews.) 


must be my own fault if I am not a complete rogue 
before I turn the corner. 

[Exeunt Sir Oliver Surface and Moses. 

Sir Peter T. So, now, I think Sir Oliver will be [160 
convinced. You are partial, Rowley, and would have 
prepared Charles for the other plot. 

Rowley. No, upon my word, Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter T. Well, go bring me this Snake, and I 'II 
hear what he has to say presently. I see Maria, [165 
and want to speak with her. [Exit Rowley.] I should 
be glad to be convinced my suspicions of Lady Teazle 
and Charles were unjust. I have never yet opened my 
mind on this subject to my friend Joseph. I am de- 
termined I will do it; he will give me his opinion [170 

Enter Maria. 

So, child, has Mr. Surface returned with you? 

Maria. No, sir; he was engaged. 

Sir Peter T. Well, Maria, do you not reflect, the 
more you converse with that amiable young man, [l75 
what return his partiality for you deserves.'^ 

Maria. Indeed, Sir Peter, your frequent importunity 
on this subject distresses me extremely; you compel 
me to declare, that I know no man who has ever 
paid me a particular attention, whom I would not [180 
prefer to Mr. Surface. 

Sir Peter T. So, here's perverseness ! No, no, Ma- 
ria, 't is Charles only whom you would prefer. 'T is 
evident his vices and follies have won your heart. 

Maria. This is unkind, sir. You know I have [l86 
obeyed you in neither seeing nor corresponding with 
him. I have heard enough to convince me that he 
is unworthy my regard. Yet I cannot think it cul- 


pable, if, while my understanding severely condemns 
his vices, my heart suggests some pity for his dis- [190 

Sir Peter T. Well, well, pity him as much as you 
please; but give your heart and hand to a worthier 

31 aria. Never to his brother! 195 

Sir Peter T. Go, perverse and obstinate! But take 
care, madam; you have never yet known what the 
authority of a guardian is. Don't compel me to 
inform you of it. 

Maria. I can only say, you shall not have just [200 
reason. 'T is true, by my father's will, I am for a 
short period bound to regard you as his substitute; 
but must cease to think you so, when you would 
compel me to be miserable. [Exit Maria. 

Sir Peter T. Was ever man so crossed as I am.? [205 
everything conspiring to fret me! I had not been 
involved in matrimony a fortnight, before her father, 
a hale and hearty man, died, on purpose, I believe, 
for the pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his 
daughter. But here comes my helpmate! She [210 
appears in great good humour. How happy I should 
be if I could tease her into loving me, though but 
a little! 

Enter Lady Teazlk. 

Lady T. Lud ! Sir Peter, I hope you hav' n't been 
quarrelling with Maria? It is not using me well [215 
to be ill humoured when I am not by. 

Sir Peter T. Ah ! Lady Teazle, you might have 
the power to make me good humoured at all times. 

Lady T. I am sure I wish I had; for I want you 
to be in a charming sweet temper at this moment. [220 


Do be good humoured now, and let me have two 
hundred pounds, will you? 

Sir Peter T. Two hundred pounds! What, a'n't 
I to be in a good humour without paying for it? But 
speak to me thus, and i' faith there 's nothing I [225 
could refuse you. You shall have it; but seal me a bond 
for the repayment. 

Lady T. O no — there. My note of hand will do as 

well. [Offering her hand. 

Sir Peter T. And you shall no longer reproach [230 
me with not giving you an independent settlement. I 
mean shortly to surprise you. But shall we always 
live thus, hey? 

Lady T. If you please. I'm sure I don't care how 
soon we leave off quarrelling, provided you '11 own [235 
you were tired first. 

Sir Peter T. Well, then let our future contest be, 
who shall be most obliging. 

Lady T. I assure you. Sir Peter, good nature 
becomes you. You look now as you did before we [240 
were married, when you used to walk with me under 
the elms, and tell me stories of what a gallant you 
were in your youth, and chuck me under the chin, 
you would; and ask me if I thought I could love an 
old fellow, who would deny me nothing — did n't [245 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes; and you were as kind and 

Lady T. Ay, so I was, and would always take your 
part, when my acquaintance used to abuse you, [250 
and turn you into ridicule. 

Sir Peter T. Indeed! 

Lady T. Ay, and when my cousin Sophy has called 


you a stiff, peevish old bachelor, and laughed at me 
for thinking of marrying one who might be my [255 
father, I have always defended you, and said, I did n't 
think you so ugly by any means, and I dared say 
you'd make a very good sort of a husband. 

Sir Peter T. And you prophesied right; and we 
shall now be the happiest couple 260 

Lady T. And never differ again? 

Sir Peter T. No, never! Though at the same time, 
indeed, my dear Lady Teazle, you must watch your 
temper very seriously; for in all our little quarrels, 
my dear, if you recollect, my love, you always [265 
began first. 

Lady T. I beg your pardon, my dear Sir Peter: 
indeed, you always gave the provocation. ^ 

Sir Peter T. Now see, my angel! take care; con- 
tradicting is n't the way to keep friends. 270 

Lady T. Then don't you begin it, my love! 

Sir Peter T. There, now! you — you are going on. 
You don't perceive, my life, that you are just doing 
the very thing which you know always makes me 
angry. 275 

Lady T. Nay, you know if you will be angry with- 
out any reason, my dear 

Sir Peter T. There! now you want to quarrel again. 

Lady T. No, I am sure I don't; but if you will be 
so peevish 280 

Sir Peter T. There now! who begins first? 

Lady T. Why you, to be sure. I said nothing; but 
there 's no bearing your temper. 

Sir Peter T. No, no, madam; the fault's in your 
own temper. 285 

Lady T. Ay, you are just what my cousin Sophy 
said you would be. 


Sir Peter T. Your cousin Sophy is a forward, im- 
pertinent gipsy. 

Lady T. You are a great bear, I'm sure, to [290 
abuse my relations. 

Sir Peter T. Now may all the plagues of marriage 
be doubled on me, if ever I try to be friends with you 
any more! 

Lady T. So much the better. 295 

Sir Peter T. No, no, madam; 't is evident you 
never cared a pin for me, and I was a madman to 
marry you — a pert, rural coquette, that had re- 
fused half the honest squires in the neighbourhood. 

Lady T. And I am sure I was a fool to marry [300 
you; an old dangling bachelor, who was single at 
fifty, only because he never could meet with any one 
who would have him. 

Sir Peter T. Ay, ay, madam; but you were pleased 
enough to listen to me; you never had such an [305 
offer before. 

Lady T. No ! did n't I refuse Sir Tivy Terrier, who 
everybody said would have been a better match? for 
his estate is just as good as yours, and he has broke his 
neck since we have been married. 310 

Sir Peter T. I have done with you, madam! You 
are an unfeeling, ungrateful — but there 's an end of 
everything. I believe you capable of everything that 
is bad. Yes, madam, I now believe the reports rela- 
tive to you and Charles, madam. Yes, madam, 2/ou [315 
and Charles are — not without grounds 

Lady T. Take care. Sir Peter; you had better not 
insinuate any such thing ! I '11 not be suspected with- 
out cause, I promise you. 

Sir Peter T. Very well, madam! very well! A [320 


separate maintenance as soon as you please. Yes, 
madam, or a divorce! I'll make an example of my- 
self for the benefit of all old bachelors. Let us sepa- 
rate, madam. 

Lady T, Agreed, agreed ! And now, my dear Sir [325 
Peter, we are of a mind once more, we may be the 
happiest couple, and never differ again, you know — 
ha ! ha ! ha ! Well, you are going to be in a passion, I see, 
and shall only interrupt you; so, bye — bye. [Exit. 

Sir Peter T. Plagues and tortures! Can't I [330 
make her angry either! Oh, I am the most miserable 
fellow! but I'll not bear her presuming to keep her 
temper; no! she may break my heart, but she sha'n't 
keep her temper. [Exit. 

Scene II. Charles Surface's House. 

Enter Trip, Moses, and Sir Oliver Surface. 

Trip. Here, Master Moses ! if you '11 stay a moment, 
I'll try whether — what's the gentleman's name? 
Sir Oliver S. Mr. Moses, what is my name? 
Moses. Mr. Premium. 

Trip. Premium — very well. 5 

[Exit Trip,' taking snuff. 

Sir Oliver S. To judge by the servants, one 
would n't believe the master was ruined. But what! 
— sure, this was my brother's house? 

Moses. Yes, sir; Mr. Charles bought it of Mr. 
Joseph, with the furniture, pictures, &c., just as the [10 
old gentleman left it. Sir Peter thought it a piece of 
extravagance in him. 

Sir Oliver S. In my mind, the other's economy in 
selling it to him was more reprehensible by half. 


Enter Trip. 

Trip. Mymastersaysyoumust wait gentlemen; [15 
he has company, and can't speak with you yet. 

Sir Oliver S. If he knew who it was wanted to see 
him, perhaps he would not send such a message? 

Trip. Yes, yes, sir; he knows you are here. I did 
not forget little Premium; no, no, no. 20 

Sir Oliver S. Very well; and I pray, sir, what may 
be your name? 

Trip. Trip, sir; my name is Trip, at your service. 

Sir Oliver S. Well then, Mr. Trip, you have a 
pleasant sort of place here, I guess? 25 

Trip. Why, yes; here are three or four of us pass 
our time agreeably enough; but then our wages are 
sometimes a little in arrear — and not very great 
either — but fifty pounds a year, and find our own 
bags and bouquets. 30 

Sir Oliver S. Bags and bouquets! halters and bas- 
tinadoes ! [Aside. 

Trip. And, a propos, Moses; have you been able to 
get me that little bill discounted? 

Sir Oliver S. Wants to raise money too! mercy [35 
on me! Has his distresses too, I warrant, like a lord, 
and affects creditors and duns. [Aside. 

Moses. 'T was not to be done, indeed, Mr. Trip. 

Trip. Good lack, you surprise me! My friend 
Brush has indorsed it, and I thought when he put [40 
his name on the back of a bill 't was the same as cash, 

Moses. No! 't would n't do. 

Trip. A small sum; but twenty pounds. Hark'ee 

30. bags and bouquets. Bag-wigs were fashionable in the 
eighteenth century. In these the back-hair was enclosed in a 
small ornamental bag, or pouch, of silk. 


Moses, do you think you could n't get it me by way of 
annuity? 45 

Sir Oliver S. An annuity! ha! ha! a footman raise 
money by way of annuity! Well done, luxury, egad! 


Moses. Well, but you must insure your place. 

Trip. O with all my heart! I'll insure my place, 
and my life, too, if you please. 50 

Sir Oliver S. It is more than I would your neck. 


Moses. But is there nothing you could deposit? 

Trip. Why, nothing capital of my master's ward- 
robe has dropped lately; but I could give you a mort- 
gage on some of his winter clothes, with equity of [55 
redemption before November; or you shall have the 
reversion of the French velvet, or a post-obit on the 
blue and silver: these, I should think, Moses, with a 
few pair of point ruflBes, as a collateral security; hey, 
my little fellow? 60 

Moses. Well, well. [Bell rings. 

Trip. Egad, I heard the bell ! I believe, gentlemen, 

55-5Q. equity of redemption: the right of a mortgagor to re- 
deem the property mortgaged by payment of the principal 
and interest. 

57. reversion — -post-obit: legal terms, used in the sense of 
" the right of succeeding to." 

" Sheridan has been accused, justly enough, of making his 
servants talk as their masters; but this is an old failing of writers 
of comedy, although few of them would have risked this accurate 
use of the legal phraseology which Sheridan at all times affected. 
Sheridan's Trip and Fag recall the amusing personages of High 
Life Below Stairs, generally attributed to a certain Reverend 
James Townley, but more probably the work of David Garrick ; 
it was suggested by a paper of Steele's ' On Servants,' in The 
Spectator, No. 88." (Matthews.) 

59. point ruffles: ruffles made of point-lace. 


I can now introduce you. Don't forget the annuity, 
little Moses! This way, gentlemen. I'll insure my 
place, you know. 65 

Sir Oliver S. If the man be a shadow of the master, 
this is the temple of dissipation indeed. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. Charles Surface, Sir Harry Bumper, 
Careless, &c. <£-c. discovered at a table with wine, &c. 

Charles S. 'Fore heaven, 't is true ! there 's the great 
degeneracy of the age. Many of our acquaintance 
have taste, spirit, and politeness; but, plague on't, 
they won't drink. 

Careless. It is so indeed, Charles ! they give in to [5 
all the substantial luxuries of the table, and abstain 
from nothing but wine and wit. O certainly society 
suffers by it intolerably; for now, instead of the social 
spirit of raillery that used to mantle over a glass of 
bright Burgundy, their conversation is become just [lO 
like the Spa water they drink, which has all the pert- 
ness and flatulence of Champagne, without the spirit 
or flavour. 

1st Gent. But what are they to do who love play 
better than wine? 15 

Careless. True; there's Sir Harry diets himself for 
gaming, and is now under a hazard regimen. 

Charles S. Then he'll have the worst of it. What! 
you would n't train a horse for the course by keeping 
him from corn? For my part, egad, I am never so [20 
successful as when I am a little merry; let me throw 
on a bottle of Champagne, and I never lose; at least, 

17. hazard: a game of chance, played with dice, very popular 
in the eighteenth century. Craps of the present day is some- 
what similar. 


I never feel my losses, which is exactly the same 

2nd Gent. Ay, that I believe. 25 

Charles S. And then, what man can pretend to be a 
believer in love, who is an abjurer of wine? 'T is the 
test by which the lover knows his own heart. Fill 
a dozen bumpers to a dozen beauties, and she that 
floats atop is the maid that has bewitched you. 30 

Careless. Now then, Charles, be honest, and give us 
your real favourite. 

Charles S. Why, I have withheld her only in com- 
passion to you. If I toast her, you must give a round 
of her peers, which is impossible — on earth. 35 

Careless. Oh ! then we '11 find some canonized vestals 
or heathen goddesses that will do, I warrant! 

Charles S. Here then, bumpers, you rogues! bum- 
pers! Maria! Maria! 

Sir Harry B. Maria who? 40 

Charles S. O damn the surname; 'tis too formal to 
be registered in Love's calendar; but now. Sir Harry, 
beware, we must have beauty superlative. 

Careless. Nay, never study. Sir Harry; we'll stand 
to the toast, though your mistress should want an [45 
eye, and you know you have a song will excuse you. 

Sir Harry B. Egad, so I have! and I'll give him 
the song instead of the lady. 


Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen; 

Here's to the widow of fifty; 50 

Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean. 

And here's to the housewife that's thrifty. 

34-35. a round of her peers. Toasts to her equals. 

49. Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen. " It has been 


Chorus. Let the toast pass, 

Drink to the lass, 
I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass. [55 

Here's to the charmer whose dimples we prize; 

Now to the maid who has none, sir; 
Here's to the girl with a pair of blue eyes, 

And here's to the nymph with but one, sir. 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 60 

Here's to the maid with a bosom of snow; 
Now to her that's as brown as a berry; 
Here 's to the wife with a face full of woe, 
And now to the girl that is merry. • 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 65 

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim, 
Young or ancient, I care not a feather; 
So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim. 
And let us e'en toast them together. , 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 70 

All. Bravo! bravo! 

Enter Trip, and whispers Charles Surface. 

Charles S. Gentlemen, you must excuse me a little. 
Careless, take the chair, will you? 

Careless. Nay, pr'ythee, Charles, what now.'* This 
is one of your peerless beauties, I suppose, has [75 
dropt in by chance ? 

asserted (in Notes and Queries, 5th S., ii, 245, and elsewhere) 
that Sheridan derived this song from a ballad in Suckling's play, 
The Goblins; but a careful comparison of the two songs shows 
that there is really no foundation for the charge. The music to 
Sheridan's song was composed by his father-in-law, Thomas 
Linley, who had been his partner in The Duenna." (Matthews.) 


Charles S. No, faith! To tell you the truth, 't is a 
Jew and a broker, who are come by appointment. 

Careless. O damn it! let's have the Jew in. 

1st Gent. Ay, and the broker too, by all means. 80 

2nd Gent. Yes, yes, the Jew and the broker. 

Charles S. Egad, with all my heart! Trip, bid the 
gentlemen walk in; though there's one of them a 
stranger, I can tell you. 

Careless. Charles, let us give them some gener- [85 
ous Burgundy, and perhaps they '11 grow conscientious. 

Charles S. O hang 'em, no! wine does but draw 
forth a man's natural qualities, and to make them 
drink would only be to whet their knavery. 

Enter Trip, Sir Oliver Surface, and Moses. 

Charles S. So, honest Moses, walk in; walk in, [90 
pray, Mr. Premium — that 's the gentleman's name, 
is n't it, Moses? 

Moses. Yes, sir. 

Charles S. Set chairs, Trip — sit down, Mr. Pre- 
mium — glasses, Trip — sit down, Moses. Come, [95 
Mr. Premium, I'll give you a sentiment; here's Suc- 
cess to usury! Moses, fill the gentleman a bumper. 

Moses. Success to usury ! 

Careless. Right, Moses; usury is prudence and 
industry, and deserves to succeed. 100 

Sir Oliver S. Then, here's all the success it deserves! 

Careless. No, no, that won't do! Mr. Premium, 
you have demurred at the toast, and must drink it in a 
pint bumper. 

1st Gent. A pint bumper, at least. 105 

87-88. wine does but draw forth a man's natural qualities. 

Cf. the Latin proverb " In vino Veritas." 


Moses. O pray, sir, consider; Mr. Premium's a gen- 

Careless. And therefore loves good wine. 

9,nd Gent. Give Moses a quart glass; this is mutiny, 
and a high contempt for the chair. 110 

Careless. Here, now for't! I'll see justice done, to 
the last drop of my bottle. 

Sir Oliver S. Nay, pray, gentlemen; I did not ex- 
pect this usage. 

Charles S. No, hang it, you sha'n't! Mr. Pre- [115 
mium's a stranger. 

Sir Oliver S. Odd! I wish I was well out of their 

company. [Aside. 

Careless. Plague on 'em, then! if they don't drink, 
we '11 not sit down with them. Come, Harry, the [120 
dice are in the next room. Charles, you 'II join us when 
you have finished your business with the gentlemen! 

Charles S. I will! I will! [Exeunt.] Careless! 

Careless. [Returning.] Well! 

Charles S. Perhaps I may want you. 125 

Careless. O, you know I am always ready: word, 
note, or bond, 't is all the same to me. [Exit. 

Moses. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a geiitleman of the 
strictest honour and secresy; and always performs 
what he undertakes. Mr. Premium, this is 130 

Charles S. Pshaw! have done. Sir, my friend 
Moses is a very honest fellow, but a little slow at 
expression: he'll be an hour giving us our titles. Mr. 
Premium, the plain state of the matter is this: I am an 
extravagant young fellow who wants to borrow [l35 
money; you I take to be a prudent old fellow, who 
have got money to lend. I am blockhead enough to 
give fifty per cent, sooner than not have it; and you, I 


presume, are rogue enough to take a hundred if you 

can get it. Now, sir, you see we are acquainted at [140 

once, and may proceed to business without further 


» Sir Oliver S. Exceeding frank, upon my word. I 

see, sir, you are not a man of many compliments. 

Charles S. Oh no, sir! plain dealing in business [145 
I always think best. 

Sir Oliver S. Sir, I like you the better for it; how- 
ever, you are mistaken in one thing; I have no money 
to lend, but I believe I could procure some of a friend; 
but then he's an unconscionable dog, isn't he, [150 

Moses. But you can't help that. 

Sir Oliver S. And must sell stock to accommodate 
you — must n't he, Moses? 

Moses. Yes, indeed ! You know I always speak [155 
the truth, and scorn to tell a lie! 

Charles S. Right. People that speak truth gene- 
rally do: but these are trifles, Mr. Premium. What! 
I know money is n't to be bought without paying 
for't! 160 

Sir Oliver S. Well; but what security could you 
give? You have no land, I suppose? 

Charles S. Not a molehill, nor a twig, but what's 
in the bough-pots out of the window! 

Sir Oliver S. Nor any stock, I presume? 165 

Charles S. Nothing but live stock, and that's only 
a few pointers and ponies. But pray, Mr. Premium, 
are you acquainted at all with any of my connections? 

Sir Oliver S. Why, to say truth, I am. 

164. bough-pots: window boxes for growing plants. Some- 
times, vases for cut flowers or boughs. 


Charles S. Then you must know that I have a [170 
dev'lish rich uncle in the East Indies, Sir OUver 
Surface, from whom I have the greatest expectations? 

Sir Oliver S. That you have a wealthy uncle I 
have heard; but how your expectations will turn out 
is more, I believe, than you can tell. 175 

Charles S. O no! there can be no doubt. They 
tell me I'm a prodigious favourite, and that he talks 
of leaving me everything. 

Sir Oliver S. Indeed! this is the first I've heard of 
it. 180 

Charles S. Yes, yes, 't is just so. Moses knows 't is 
true; don't you, Moses? 

Moses. O yes! I'll swear to't. 

Sir Oliver S. Egad, they'll persuade me presently 
I'm at Bengal. [Aside. 185 

Charles S. Now, I propose, Mr. Premium, if it's 
agreeable to you, a post-obit on Sir Oliver's life; 
though at the same time the old fellow has been so 
liberal to me, that I give you my word, I should be 
very sorry to hear that anything had happened to [190 

Sir Oliver S. Not more than I should, I assure you. 
But the bond you mention happens to be just the 
worst security you could offer me, for I might live 
to a hundred, and never see the principal. 195 

Charles S. Oh yes, you would; the moment Sir 

Oliver dies, you know, you would come on me for 

the money. 

187. post-obit. The Century Dictionary (q.v.) quotes these 
lines of the play in an illustration of its definition: " A bond given 
for the purpose of securing to a lender a sum of money on the 
death of some specified individual, from whom the borrower has 
expectations." Cf. a looser use of the word by Trip on page 65. 


Sir Oliver S. Then I believe I should be the most 
unwelcome dun you ever had in your life. 200 

Charles S. What! I suppose you're afraid that Sir 
Oliver is too good a life? 

Sir Oliver S. No, indeed, I am not; though I have 
heard he is as hale and healthy as any man of his 
years in Christendom. 205 

Charles S. There again now you are misinformed. 
No, no, the climate has hurt him considerably, poor 
uncle Oliver! Yes, yes, he breaks apace, I'm told, 
and is so much altered lately, that his nearest relations 
don't know him. 210 

Sir Oliver S. No! ha! ha! ha! so much altered 
lately, that his nearest relations don't know him! 
ha! ha! ha! egad — ha! ha! ha! 

Charles S. Ha! ha! you're glad to hear that, little 
Premium? 215 

Sir Oliver S. No, no, I 'm not. 

Charles S. Yes, yes, you are — ha! ha! ha! You 
know that mends your chance. 

Sir Oliver S. But I'm told Sir Oliver is coming 
over? Nay, some say he is actually arrived? 220 

Charles S. Pshaw! Sure I must know better than 
you whether he's come or not. No, no; rely on't, 
he's at this moment at Calcutta. Is n't he, Moses? 

Moses. O yes, certainly. 

Sir Oliver S. Very true, as you say, you must [225 
know better than I, though I have it from pretty 
good authority. Have n't I, Moses? 

Moses. Yes, most undoubted! 

Sir Oliver S. But, sir, as I understand you want a 
few hundreds immediately, is there nothing you [230 
could dispose of ? 


Charles S. How do you mean? 

Sir Oliver S. For instance, now, I have heard that 
your father left behind him a great quantity of massive 
old plate? 235 

Charles S. O Lud! that's gone long ago. Moses 
can tell you how better than I can. 

Sir Oliver S. Good lack! all the family race-cups 
and corporation-bowls ! [Aside.] — Then it was also 
supposed that his library was one of the most val- [240 
uable and compact 

Charles S. Yes, yes, so it was — vastly too much 
so for a private gentleman. For my part, I was al- 
ways of a communicative disposition, so I thought it 
a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself, 245 

Sir Oliver S. Mercy upon me! Learning that had 
run in the family like an heirloom! [Aside.] — Pray, 
what are become of the books? 

Charles S. You must enquire of the auctioneer. 
Master Premium, for I don't believe even Moses [250 
can direct you. 

Moses. I know nothing of books. 

Sir Oliver S. So, so, nothing of the family property 
left, I suppose? 

Charles S. Not much, indeed; unless you have [255 
a mind to the family pictures. I have got a room full 
of ancestors above, and if you have a taste for paint- 
ings, egad, you shall have 'em a bargain. 

Sir Oliver S. Hey! what the devil! sure, you 
would n't sell your forefathers, would you? 260 

Charles S. Every man of them to the best bidder. 

238-39. race-cups and corporation-bowls. " Gold — or silver 
— cups won at races; bowls received as presents from the city." 
{British Theatre, 1828.) 


Sir Oliver S. What! your great uncles and aunts? 

Charles S. Ay, and my great grandfathers and 
grandmothers too. 

Sir Oliver S. Now I give him up. [Aside.] — [265 
What the plague, have you no bowels for your own 
kindred? Odd's life, do you take me for Shylock in 
the play, that you would raise money of me on your 
own flesh and blood? 

Charles S. Nay, my little broker, don't be [270 
angry : what need you care if you have your money's 

Sir Oliver S. Well, I'll be the purchaser: I think 
I can dispose of the family canvas. Oh, I'll never 
forgive him this! never! [Aside. 275 

Enter Careless. 

Careless. Come, Charles, what keeps you? 

Charles S. I can't come yet: i' faith we are going to 
have a sale above stairs ; here 's little Premium will buy 
all my ancestors. 

Careless. O, burn your ancestors! 280 

Charles S. No, he may do that afterwards, if he 
pleases. Stay, Careless, we want you; egad, you shall 
be auctioneer; so come along with us. 

Careless. Oh, have with you, if that's the case. 
I can handle a hammer as well as a dice-box ! 285 

Sir Oliver S. Oh, the profligates! [Aside. 

Charles S. Come, Moses, you shall be appraiser, if 
we want one. Gad's life, little Premium, you don't 
seem to like the business? 

Sir Oliver S. O yes, I do, vastly. Ha! ha! ha! [290 
yes, yes, I think it a rare joke to sell one's family by 
auction — ha ! ha ! — O the prodigal ! [Aside. 

291-92. to sell one's family by auction. A contemporary 


Charles S. To be sure! when a man wants money, 
where the plague should he get assistance if he can't 
make free with his own relations? [Exeunt. 295 


Scene I. Picture Room at Charles's. 

Enter Charlks Surface, Sir Oliver Surface, Moses, and 

Charles S. Walk in, gentlemen; pray walk in. Here 
they are, the family of the Surfaces, up to the Con- 

Sir Oliver S. And, in my opinion, a goodly collection. 

Charles S. Ay, ay; these are done in the true spirit [5 
of portrait painting; no volontiere grace and expression. 
Not like the works of your modern Raphaels, who give 
you the strongest resemblance, yet contrive to make 
your portrait independent of you; so that you may 
sink the original and not hurt the picture. No, no; [lO 
the merit of these is the inveterate likeness — all stiff 
and awkward as the originals, and like nothing in hu- 
man nature besides. 

Sir Oliver S. Ah! we shall never see such figures of 
men again. 15 

review (see page xxxiii) commented upon this auction with but a 
single bidder. Unquestionably Sheridan uses the word playfully. 
Dr. Johnson's Dictionary (1755 edition) defines " auction " as 
" a manner of sale in which one person bids after another, till so 
much is bid as the seller is content to take." Auction rooms, 
it may be mentioned in passing, were a favorite resort of amuse- 
ment-seekers of the day. Cf. Tony Lumpkin's appearance, with 
an auctioneer's mallet in his hand, in Goldsmith's She Stoops 
to Conquer, I, ii. Samuel Foote has a play entitled An Auction 
of Pictures. 
6. volontiere grace: ease of attitude. 


Charles S. I hope not. Well, you see, Master Pre- 
mium, what a domestic character I am. Here I sit of 
an evening surrounded by my family. But come, get 
to your pulpit, Mr. Auctioneer; here's an old gouty 
chair of my father's will answer the purpose, 20 

Careless. Ay, ay, this will do. But, Charles, I 
hav'n't a hammer; and what's an auctioneer without 
his hammer? 

Charles S. Egad, that 's true. What parchment have 
we here? O, our genealogy in full. Here, Care- [25 
less, you shall have no common bit of mahogany; 
here's the family tree, for you, you rogue; this shall 
be your hammer, and now you may knock down my 
ancestors with their own pedigree. 

Sir Oliver S. What an unnatural rogue! an ex [30 
post facto parricide ! [Aside. 

Careless. Yes, yes, here's a bit of your genera- 
tion indeed; faith, Charles, this is the most con- 
venient thing you could have found for the business, 
for 't will serve not only as a hammer, but a cat- [35 
alogue into the bargain. Come, begin, — A-going, 
a-going, a-going! 

Charles S. Bravo, Careless! Well, here's my great 
uncle. Sir Richard Raveline, a marvellous good general 
in his day, I assure you. He served in all the Duke [40 
of Marlborough's wars, and got that cut over his eye 

38-39. "Well, here 's my great uncle. " The School for Scandal 
was one of the plays performed by the English actors on their 
famous visit to Paris in 1827, — a visit which revealed the might 
and range of the English drama to the French, and thereby 
served to make possible the Romanticist revolt of 1830. Victor 
Hugo was an assiduous follower of the English performances; 
and it may be that this scene of The School for Scandal suggested 
to him the scene with the portraits in Hernani." (Matthews.) 

40-41. Duke of Marlborough. John Churchill (1650-1722), 


at the battle of Malplaquet. What say you, Mr. Pre- 
mium? look at him; there's a hero, not cut out of his 
feathers, as your modern clipp'd captains are, but en- 
veloped in wig and regimentals, as a general should [45 
be. What do you bid? 

Moses. Mr. Premium would have you speak. 

Charles S. Why, then, he shall have him for ten 
pounds, and I'm sure that's not dear for a staff- 
oflScer. 50 

Sir Oliver S. Heaven deliver me! his famous uncle 
Richard for ten pounds! [Aside.] — Well, sir, I take 
him at that. 

Charles S. Careless, knock down my uncle Richard. 
Here, now, is a maiden sister of his, my great aunt [55 
Deborah, done by Kneller, thought to be in his best 
manner, and a very formidable likeness. There she 
is,- you see, a shepherdess feeding her flock. You shall 
have her for five pounds ten; the sheep are worth the 
money. 60 

Sir Oliver S. Ah! poor Deborah; a woman who set 
such a value on herself ! [Aside.] — Five pounds ten; 
she's mine. 

Charles S. Knock down my aunt Deborah! Here, 
now, are two that were a sort of cousins of theirs. [65 

the celebrated British general in the War of the Spanish Suc- 
cession. His victories include Blenheim, 1704, Ramillies, 1708, 
Oudenarde, 1708, and Malplaquet, 1709. 

56. Kneller. Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), a German 
portrait painter to whom sat many of the English royalty and 

58. a shepherdess feeding her flock. In Goldsmith's The 
Vicar of Wakefield (1766) Dr. Primrose's historical family group 
was to be painted with " Sophia ... a shepherdess, with as 
many sheep as the painter could put in for nothing." (Brown.) 


You see, Moses, these pictures were done sometime 
ago, when beaux wore wigs, and the ladies their own 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, truly, headdresses appear to 
have been a little lower in those days. 70 

Charles S. Well, take that couple for the same. 

Moses. 'T is good bargain. 

69. headdresses. A communication to the Toion and Coun- 
try Magazine for July, 1777, comments upon the enormous 
headdresses of the period: " I am sorry to say that the 
imitation of French fashions is carried to such an extravagant 
height, that we scarce know whether we are in Paris or London. 
Our modern macaronies will resemble the French petits maitres, 
who make no ceremony of using /ar J, as well as the ladies; have 
their toilets, and their complexion improvers, in as many boxes 
as a first-rate coquette twenty years past. Indeed our females 
now use rouge and blanc with so little care, that it may easily be 
discerned from one side-box to another across the pit; and I shall 
not wonder soon to see the ladies in public places, imitate the 
French females so far, as to pull out their paint boxes and 
rectify their faces of any temporary decay. Could the dames in 
the time of good queen Bess rise and see them so deform their 
natural beauty, they would certainly pull the caps of the modern 
belles, and frighten them, as ghosts ought to do, into a belief of 
their folly and extravagance; as the most severe, though just 
satires, have been thrown away upon them; and indeed they 
seem to rise superior to sarcasms, and to rear their heads the 
higher, the ofteHer they are pulled down. It is certain that if 
they continue the increase of their top-sails much longer, the 
coaches and sedans must literally be considerably heightened, as 
their heads cannot be held up now in the modern ones. It is 
doubtless for the interest of coach and chair-makers that these 
fashions should be increased to the utmost pitch of preposterous- 
ness, as they will thereby increase their trade as well as their 
bills. A certain milliner at the west end of the town, has already 
raised her chariot upwards of six inches; and there is reason to 
believe that the carriage was a compliment to her from a coach- 
maker in Long-Acre, who was desirous, as she gives the ton in 
dress, she should also do it in voitures.'" 


Charles S. Careless! This, now, is a grandfather of 
my mother, a learned judge, well known on the West- 
ern Circuit. What do you rate him at, Moses? 75 

Moses. Four guineas. 

Charles S. Four guineas! Gad's life, you don't bid 
me the price of his wig. Mr. Premium, you have more 
respect for the woolsack; do let us knock his lordship 
down at fifteen. 80 

Sir Oliver S. By all means. 

Careless. Gone! 

Charles S. And there are two brothers of his, 
William and Walter Blunt, Esquires, both members of 
parliament, and noted speakers, and what's very [85 
extraordinary, I believe, this is the first time they 
were ever bought or sold. 

Sir Oliver S. That is very extraordinary, indeed! 
I'll take them at your own price, for the honour of 
Parliament. 90 

Careless. Well said, little Premium ! I '11 knock them 
down at forty. 

Charles S. Here 's a jolly fellow ; I don't know what 
relation, but he was mayor of Manchester. Take 
him at eight pounds. 95 

Sir Oliver S. No, no; six will do for the mayor. 

Charles S. Come, make it guineas, and I'll throw 
you the two aldermen there into the bargain. 

Sir Oliver S. They're mine. 

79. woolsack. In the House of Lords, the seat of the presiding 
officer — the Lord High Chancellor — is a sack of wool shaped 
into a divan. Lecky remarks: " It is said to have been originally 
intended to typify the supreme importance which, in the earlier 
phases of English history, the woolen manufacture occupied in 
English policy." By metonymy, " woolsack " signifies all that 
pertains to the law; the Lord Chancellor being the head of the 
English judiciary system. 


Charles S. Careless, knock down the mayor [lOO 
and aldermen. But, plague on't, we shall be all day re- 
tailing in this manner. Do let us deal wholesale; what 
say you, little Premium? Give us three hundred 
pounds for the rest of the family in the lump. 

Careless. Ay, ay, that will be the best way. 105 

Sir Oliver S. Well, well, anything to accommodate 
you — they are mine. But there is one portrait which 
you have always passed over. 

Careless. What, that ill-looking little fellow over the 
settee? 110 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, sir, I mean that; though I 
don't think him so ill-looking a little fellow, by any 

Charles S. WTiat, that? Oh! that's my uncle 
Oliver; 't was done before he went to India. 115 

Careless. Your uncle Oliver! Gad, then, you'll never 
be friends, Charles. That, now, to me, is as stern a 
looking rogue as ever I saw — an unforgiving eye, 
and a damned disinheriting countenance! an invet- 
erate knave, depend on't. Don't you think so, [120 
little Premium? 

Sir Oliver S. Upon my soul, sir, I do not. I think 
it is as honest a looking face as any in the room, dead 
or alive. But I suppose uncle Oliver goes with the 
rest of the lumber? 125 

Charles S. No, hang it! I'll not part with poor 
Noll. The old fellow has been very good to me, and, 
egad, I'll keep his picture while I've a room to put 
it in. 

Sir Oliver S. The rogue's my nephew after [130 
all! [Aside.] — But, sir, I have somehow taken a fancy 
to that picture. 


Charles /S. I 'm sorry for 't, for you certainly will not 
have it. Oons, have n't you got enough of them? 

Sir Oliver S. I forgive him every thing ! [Aside.] [135 
But, sir, when I take a whim in my head I don't value 
money. I'll give you as much for that as for all the 

Charles S. Don't tease me, master broker. I tell 
you I '11 not part with it, and there 's an end of it. 140 

Sir Oliver S. How like his father the dog is! 
[Aside.] — Well, well, I have done. — I did not perceive 
it before, but I think I never saw such a striking 
resemblance. [Aside.] — Here is a draft for your 
sum. 145 

Charles S. Why, 't is for eight hundred pounds. 

Sir Oliver S. You will not let Sir Oliver go? 

Charles S. Zounds! no! I tell you once more. 

Sir Oliver S. Then never mind the difference, we'll 
balance that another time. But give me your [150 
hand on the bargain ; you are an honest fellow, Charles. 
I beg pardon, sir, for being so free. Come, Moses. 

Charles S. Egad, this is a whimsical old fellow! But 
hark'ee. Premium, you'll prepare lodgings for these 
gentlemen? 155 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, yes, I'll send for them in a day 
or two. 

Charles S. But, hold; do now send a genteel con- 
veyance for them, for, I assure you, they were most of 
them used to ride in their own carriages. 160 

Sir Oliver S. I will, I will; for all but Oliver. 

Charles S. Ay, all but the little nabob. 

Sir Oliver S. You're fixed on that? 

Charles S. Peremptorily. 

Sir Oh't'cr S. A dear extravagant rogue! [Aside.] [l65 


Good day! Come, Moses. Let me hear now who 
calls him profligate ! 

[Exeunt Sir Oliver Surface and Moses. 

Careless. Why, this is the oddest genius of the sort 
I ever saw! 

Charles S. Egad! he's the prince of brokers, I [170 
think. I wonder how Moses got acquainted with so 
honest a fellow. Ha! here's Rowley; do, Careless, 
say I '11 join the company in a few moments. 

Careless. I will; but don't let that old blockhead 
persuade you to squander any of that money on [l75 
old musty debts, or any such nonsense; for trades- 
men, Charles, are the most exorbitant fellows. 

Charles S. Very true, and paying them is only 
encouraging them. 

Careless. Nothing else. 180 

Charles S. Ay, ay, never fear. [E.riV Careless.] So! 
this was an odd old fellow, indeed. Let me see; 
two-thirds of this is mine by right, five hundred and 
thirty odd pounds. 'Fore heaven ! I find one's ances- 
tors are more valuable relations than I took them [l85 
for! Ladies and gentlemen, your most obedient and 
very grateful servant. 

Enter Rowley. 

Ha! old Rowley; egad, you are just come in time 
to take leave of your old acquaintance. 

Rowley. Yes, I heard they were a going. But [190 
I wonder you can have such spirits under so many 

Charles S. Why, there's the point! my distresses 
are so many, that I can't afford to part with my 
spirits; but I shall be rich and splenetic, all in [195 
good time. However, I suppose you are surprised that 


I am not more sorrowful at parting with so many 
near relations; to be sure 't is very affecting; but you 
see they never move a muscle, so why should I? 

Rowley. There's no making you serious a mo- [200 

Charles S. Yes, faith, I am so now. Here, my 
honest Rowley, here, get me this changed directly, 
and take a hundred pounds of it immediately to old 
Stanley. 205 

Rowley. A hundred pounds ! Consider only 

Charles S. Gad's life, don't talk about it; poor 
Stanley's wants are pressing, and if you don't make 
haste, we shall have some one call that has a better 
right to the money. 210 

Rowley. Ah! there's the point! I never will cease 
dunning you with the old proverb 

Charles S. "Be just before you 're generous." Why, 
so I would if I could; but Justice is an old, lame, hob- 
bling beldame, and I can't get her to keep pace [215 
with Generosity for the soul of me. 

Rowley. Yet, Charles, believe me, one hour 's reflec- 

Charles S. Ay, ay, it's all very true; but, hark'ee, 
Rowley, while I have, by heaven, I'll give; so [220 
damn your economy, and now for hazard. [Exeunt. 

204. take a hundred pounds of it. " In a note to an anonymous 
pamphlet biographical sketch of Sheridan, published in 1799, 
there is quoted a remark of a lady which is not without point and 
pertinency: ' Mr. Sheridan is a fool if he pays a bill (of which, 
by the by, he is not accused) of one of the tradesmen who 
received his comedy with such thunders of applause. He ought 
to tell them in the words of Charles, that he could never make 
Justice keep pace with Generosity, and they could have no right 
to complain.' " (Matthews.) 


Scene II. The Parlour. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Moses. 

Moses. Well, sir, I think, as Sir Peter said, you have 
seen Mr. Charles in high glory; 't is great pity he's so 

Sir Oliver S. True, but he would not sell my pic- 
ture. 5 

Moses. And loves wine and women so much. 

Sir Oliver S. But he would not sell my picture. 

Moses. And games so deep. 

Sir Oliver S. But he would not sell my picture. O, 
here's Rowley. 10 

Enter Rowley. 

Rowley. So, Sir Oliver, I find you have made a 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, yes; our young rake has parted 
with his ancestors like old tapestry. 

Rowley. And here has he commissioned me to [15 
re-deliver you part of the purchase money. I mean, 
though, in your necessitous character of old Stanley. 

Moses. Ah ! there is the pity of it all; he is so damned 

Rowley. And I left a hosier and two tailors in the [20 
hall, who, I'm sure, won't be paid, and this hundred 
would satisfy them. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, well, I'll pay his debts, and his 
benevolence too. But now I am no more a broker, 
and you shall introduce me to the elder brother as [25 
old Stanley. 

Rowley. Not yet a while; Sir Peter, I know, means 
to call there about this time. 


Enter Trip. 

Trif. O, gentlemen, I beg pardon for not showing 

you out; this way. Moses, a word. 30 

[Exeunt Trip and Moses. 

Sir Oliver S. There's a fellow for you! Would you 
believe it, that puppy intercepted the Jew on our 
coming, and wanted to raise money before he got to 
his master. 

Rowley. Indeed! 35 

Sir Oliver S. Yes, they are now planning an annuity 
business. Ah! Master Rowley, in my days servants 
were content with the follies of their masters, when 
they were worn a little threadbare; but now, they have 
their vices, like their birthday clothes, with the [40 
gloss on. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. A Library. 
Discovered Joseph Surface and a Servant. 
Joseph S. No letter from Lady Teazle? 
Serv. No, sir. 

Joseph S. I am surprised she has not sent, if she is 
prevented from coming. Sir Peter certainly does not 
suspect me. Yet, I wish I may not lose the heiress, [5 
through the scrape I have drawn myself into with the 
wife; however, Charles's imprudence and bad character 

are great points in my favour. [Knocking heard without. 

Serv. Sir, I believe that must be Lady Teazle. 

Joseph S. Hold! See whether it is or not before [10 
you go to the door: I have a particular message for 
you, if it should be my brother. 

Serv. 'T is her ladyship, sir; she always leaves her 
chair at the milliner's in the next street. 

Joseph S. Stay, stay; draw that screen before [15 


the window — that will do; my opposite neighbour is 
a maiden lady of so anxious a temper. [Servant draws 
the screen, and exit.] I have a difficult hand to play in 
this affair. Lady Teazle has lately suspected my views 
on Maria; but she must by no means be let into [20 
that secret — at least, till I have her more in my power. 
Enter Lady Teazle. 

Lady T. What, sentiment in soliloquy now.'* Have 
you been very impatient.'^ O Lud! don't pretend to 
look grave. I vow I could n't come before. 

Joseph S. O, madam, punctuality is a species of [25 
constancy, a very unfashionable quality in a lady. 

Lady T. Upon my word you ought to pity me. Do 
you know, Sir Peter is grown so ill-natured to me of 
late, and so jealous of Charles too; that's the best of 
the story, is n't it? 30 

Joseph S. I am glad my scandalous friends keep 

that up. [Aside. 

Lady T. I am sure I wish he would let Maria marry 
him, and then perhaps he would be convinced. Don't 
you, Mr. Surface? 35 

Joseph S. Indeed I do not. [Aside.] — Oh, certainly 
I do! for then my dear Lady Teazle would also be 
convinced how wrong her suspicions were of my hav- 
ing any design on the silly girl. 

Lady T. Well, well, I'm inclined to believe you. [40 
But is n't it provoking, to have the most ill-natured 
things said of one? And there's my friend. Lady 
Sneerwell, has circulated I don't know how many scan- 
dalous tales of me, and all without any foundation too; 
that's what vexes me. 45 

Joseph S. Ay, madam, to be sure, that is the pro- 
voking circumstance — without foundation. Yes, yes, 


there's the mortification, indeed; for when a scandal- 
ous story is believed against one, there certainly is no 
comfort like the consciousness of having deserved it. [50 

Lady T. No, to be sure, then I 'd forgive their malice; 
but to attack me, who am really so innocent, and who 
never say an ill-natured thing of anybody — that is, of 
any friend; and then Sir Peter too, to have him so 
peevish, and so suspicious, when I know the integ- [55 
rity of my own heart ! indeed 't is monstrous ! 

Joseph S. But, my dear Lady Teazle, 't is your own 
fault if you suffer it. When a husband entertains a 
groundless suspicion of his wife, and withdraws his 
confidence from her, the original compact is bro- [60 
ken, and she owes it to the honour of her sex to outwit 

Lady T. Indeed! so that if he suspects me without 
cause, it follows, that the best way of curing his jeal- 
ousy is to give him reason for't. 65 

Joseph S. Undoubtedly; for your husband should 
never be deceived in you; and in that case it becomes 
you to be frail in compliment to his discernment. 

Lady T. To be sure, what you say is very reason- 
able, and when the consciousness of my inno- [70 

Joseph S. Ah! my dear madam, there is the great 
mistake : 't is this very conscious innocence that is of 
the greatest prejudice to you. What is it makes you 
negligent of forms, and careless of the world's [75 
opinion? Why, the consciousness of your own inno- 
cence. What makes you thoughtless in your own 
conduct, and apt to run into a thousand little impru- 
dences? Why, the consciousness of your own inno- 
cence. What pjiakes you impatient of Sir Peter's [80 


temper, and outrageous of his suspicions? Why, the 
consciousness of your innocence. 

Lady T. 'T is very true ! 

Joseph S. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would 
but once make a trifling faux pas, you can't con- [85 
ceive how cautious you would grow, and how ready to 
humour and agree with your husband. 

Lady T. Do you think so.f^ 

Joseph S. Oh! I'm sure on't; and then you would 
find all scandal would cease at once; for, in short, [90 
your character at present is like a person in a plethora, 
absolutely dying from too much health. 

Lady T. So, so; then I perceive your prescription 
is, that I must sin in my own defence, and part with 
my virtue to secure my reputation .f* 95 

Joseph S. Exactly so, upon my credit, ma'am. 

Lady T. Well, certainly this is the oddest doctrine 
and the newest receipt for avoiding calumny ! 

Joseph S. An infallible one, believe me. Prudence, 
like experience, must be paid for. 100 

Lady T. Why, if my understanding were once con- 

Joseph S. O, certainly, madam, your understand- 
ing should be convinced. Yes, yes; heaven forbid I 
should persuade you to do anything you thought [l05 
wrong. No, no, I have too much honour to desire 

91. person in a plethora. " A Plethoric Patient is such an one, 
as is not yet sick, but at the same time is in such a State of 
Plenitude, that, if the Humors are more increased or rarefied by 
Heat, or any other Cause, the natural Functions are, by these 
means, injured. Hence a Plethoric Person may be sound, though 
at the same time in the greatest danger." (.4 Medicinal Diction- 
ary, by R. James, M.D., London, 1743-45.) 


Lady T. Don't you think we may as well leave 
honour out of the question? 

Joseph S. Ah! the ill eflfects of your country [llO 
education, I see, still remain with you. 

Lady T. I doubt they do indeed; and I will fairly 
own to you, that if I could be persuaded to do wrong, 
it would be by Sir Peter's ill usage sooner than your 
honourable logic, after all. 115 

Joseph S. Then, by this hand, which he is un- 
worthy of [Taking her hand. 

Enter Servant. 

'S death, you blockhead! What do you want? 

Serv. I beg your pardon, sir, but I thought you 
would not choose Sir Peter to come up without [120 
announcing him. 

Josephs. Sir Peter! Oons — the devil! 

Lady T. Sir Peter! O Lud, I'm ruined! I'm 
ruined ! 

Serv. Sir, 't was n't I let him in. 125 

Lady T. Oh, I'm quite undone! What will become 
of me? Now, Mr. Logic. Oh! he's on the stairs. 
I'll get behind here; and if ever I'm so imprudent 
again [Goes behind the screen. 

Joseph S. Give me that book. 130 

[Sits down. Servant pretends to adjust his hair. 

Enter Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter T. Ay, ever improving himself. Mr. Sur- 
face! Mr. Surface! 

Joseph S. Oh ! my dear Sir Peter, I beg your pardon. 
[Gaping, throws away the book.] I have been dozing 
over a stupid book. Well, I am much obliged to [135 
you for this call. You have n't been here, I believe. 


since I fitted up this room. Books, you know, are the 
only things in which I am a coxcomb. 

Sir Peter T. 'T is very neat indeed. Well, well, 
that's proper; and you can make even your [140 
screen a source of knov/ledge; hung, I perceive, with 

Joseph S. O, yes, I find great use in that screen. 

Sir Peter T. I dare say you must, certainly, when 
you want to find anything in a hurry. 145 

Joseph S. Ay, or to hide anything in a hurry, 

either. [Aside. 

Sir Peter T. Well, I have a little private business — ■ 
Joseph S. [to the Servant.] You need not stay. 
Serv. No, sir. [Exit. 150 

Joseph S. Here 's a chair, Sir Peter. I beg 

Sir Peter T. Well, now we are alone, there is a sub- 
ject, my dear friend, on which I wish to unburden my 
mind to you — a point of the greatest moment to my 
peace; in short, my dear friend. Lady Teazle's [l55 
conduct of late has made me extremely unhappy. 
Joseph S. Indeed! I am very sorry to hear it. 
Sir Peter T. Ay, 't is too plain she has not the 
least regard for me; but, what's worse, I have pretty 
good authority to suppose she has formed an at- [160 
tachment to another. 

Joseph S. Indeed! you astonish me! 
Sir Peter T. Yes; and, between ourselves, I think 
I've discovered the person. 

Josephs. How ! you alarm me exceedingly. 165 

Sir Peter T. Ay, my dear friend, I knew you would 
sympathize with me! 

Joseph S. Yes, believe me. Sir Peter, such a dis- 
covery would hurt me just as. much as it would you. 


Sir Peter T. I am convinced of it. Ah! it is a [170 
happiness to have a friend whom we can trust even 
with one's family secrets. But have you no guess who 
I mean? 

Joseph S. I have n't the most distant idea. It can't 
be Sir Benjamin Backbite! 175 

Sir Peter T. Oh, no! What say you to Charles? 

Joseph S. My brother! impossible! 

Sir Peter T. Oh ! my dear friend, the goodness of 
your own heart misleads you. You judge of others 
by yourself. 180 

Joseph S. Certainly, Sir Peter, the heart that is con- 
scious of its own integrity is ever slow to credit an- 
other's treachery. 

Sir Peter T. True; but your brother has no senti- 
ment; you never hear him talk so. 185 

Joseph S. Yet I can't but think Lady Teazle her- 
self has too much principle. 

Sir Peter T. Ay; but what is principle against the 
flattery of a handsome, lively young fellow? 

Joseph S. That's very true. 190 

Sir Peter T. And there's, you know, the difference 
of our ages makes it very improbable that she should 
have any very great affection for me; and if she were 
to be frail, and I were to make it public, why the town 
would only laugh at me, the foolish old bachelor, [l95 
who had married a girl. 

Joseph S. That's true, to be sure; they would 

Sir Peter T. Laugh — ay, and make ballads, and 
paragraphs, and the devil knows what of me. 200 

Joseph S. No; you must never make it public. 

Sir Peter T. But then again — that the nephew of 


my old friend, Sir Oliver, should be the person to 
attempt such a wrong, hurts me more nearly. 

Josephs. Ay, there 's the point. When ingrat- [205 
itude barbs the dart of injury, the wound has double 
danger in it. 

Sir Peter T. Ay, I, that was, in a manner, left his 
guardian; in whose house he had been so often en- 
tertained; who never in my life denied him — [210 
my advice. 

Joseph S. O, 't is not to be credited. There may be 
a man capable of such baseness, to be sure; but, for 
my part, till you can give me positive proofs, I cannot 
but doubt it. However, if it should be proved on [215 
him, he is no longer a brother of mine. I disclaim 
kindred with him ; for the man w^ho can break the laws 
of hospitality, and tempt the wife of his friend, de- 
serves to be branded as the pest of society. 

Sir Peter T. What a difference there is be- [220 
tween you! What noble sentiments! 

Joseph S. Yet, I cannot suspect Lady Teazle's 

Sir Peter T. I am sure I wish to think well of her, 
and to remove all ground of quarrel between us. [225 
She has lately reproached me more than once with hav- 
ing made no settlement on her; and, in our last quarrel, 
she almost hinted that she should not break her heart 
if I was dead. Now, as we seem to differ in our ideas 
of expense, I have resolved she shall have her own [230 
way, and be her own mistress in that respect for the 
future; and if I were to die, she will find I have not 
been inattentive to her interest while living. Here, my 
friend, are the drafts of the two deeds, which I wish to 
have your opinion on. By one, she will enjoy eight [235 


hundred a year independent while I live; and, by the 
other, the bulk of my fortune at my death. 

Joseph S. This conduct. Sir Peter, is indeed truly 
generous. I wish it may not corrupt my pupil. [Aside. 

Sir Peter T. Yes, I am determined she shall have [240 
no cause to complain, though I would not have her 
acquainted with the latter instance of my affection yet 

Joseph S. Nor I, if I could help it. [Aside. 

Sir Peter T. And now, my dear friend, if you [245 
please, we will talk over the situation of your affairs 
with Maria. 

Joseph S. [Softly.] O, no. Sir Peter; another time, 
if you please. 

Sir Peter T. I am sensibly chagrined at the lit- [250 
tie progress you seem to make in her affections. 

Joseph S. I beg you will not mention it. What 
are my disappointments when your happiness is in 
debate! [Softly.] — 'S death, I shall be ruined every 

way. [Aside. 255 

Sir Peter T. And though you are so averse to my 
acquainting Lady Teazle with your passion for Ma- 
ria, I 'm sure she 's not your enemy in the affair. 

Joseph S. Pray, Sir Peter, now, oblige me. I am 
really too much affected by the subject we have [260 
been speaking of, to bestow a thought on my own 
concerns. The man who is intrusted with his friend's 
distresses can never 

Enter Servant. 
Well, sir.? 

Serv. Your brother, sir, is speaking to a gentle- [265 
man in the street, and says he knows you are within. 

Joseph S. 'S death, blockhead, I'm not within; I'm 
out for the day. 


Sir Peter T. Stay — hold — a thought has struck 
me: you shall be at home. 270 

Joseph S. Well, well, let him up. [Exit Servant.] 
He'll interrupt Sir Peter, however. [Aside. 

Sir Peter T. Now, my good friend, oblige me, I en- 
treat you. Before Charles comes, let me conceal my- 
self somewhere; then do you tax him on the point [275 
we have been talking, and his answer may satisfy me 
at once. 

Joseph S. O fie. Sir Peter! would you have me join 
in so mean a trick? — to trepan my brother, too.'* 

Sir Peter T. Nay, you tell me you are sure he [280 
is innocent; if so, you do him the greatest service by 
giving him an opportunity to clear himself, and you 
will set my heart at rest. Come, you shall not refuse 
me; here, behind this screen will be — Hey! what the 
devil ! there seems to be one listener there already. [285 
I '11 swear I saw a petticoat ! 

Joseph S. Ha! ha! ha! Well, this is ridiculous 
enough. I'll tell you. Sir Peter, though I hold a man 
of intrigue to be a most despicable character, yet, you 
know, it does not follow that one is to be an abso- [290 
lute Joseph either ! Hark'ee, 't is a little French milli- 
ner — a silly rogue that plagues me — and having some 
character to lose, on your coming, sir, she ran behind 
the screen. 

Sir Peter T. Ah ! you rogue ! But egad, she has [295 
overheard all I have been saying of my wife. 

279. trepan, entrap, ensnare. Probably originating in thieves' ^ 
slang; now obsolete or archaic. The original spelling, trapan, was 
changed through some figurative association with the word in its 
earlier and better known surgical or mechanical significance. 

290-91. absolute Joseph: a reference to Joseph and Potiphar's 
wife. Genesis 39. 


Joseph S. O, 't will never go any farther, you may 
depend upon it. 

Sir Peter T. No; then, faith, let her hear it out. 
Here's a closet will do as well. 300 

Joseph S. Well, go in there. 

Sir Peter T. Sly rogue ! sly rogue ! [Going into the closet. 

Joseph S. A narrow escape, indeed! and a curious 
situation I 'm in, to part man and wife in this manner. 

Lady T. [Peeping.] Could n't I steal off? 305 

Joseph S. Keep close, my angel! 

Sir Peter T. [Peeping.] Joseph, tax him home. 

Joseph S. Back, my dear friend! 

Lady T. [Peeping.] Could n't you lock Sir Peter 
in? 310 

Joseph S. Be still, my life! 

Sir Peter T. [Peeping.] You're sure the little milli- 
ner won't blab? 

Joseph S. In, in, my good Sir Peter. 'Fore Gad, I 
wish I had a key to the door. 315 

Enter Charles Surface. 

Charles S. Holloa! brother, what has been the 
matter? Your fellow would not let me up at first. 
What! have you had a Jew or a wench with you? 

Joseph S. Neither, brother, I assure you. 

Charles S. But what has made Sir Peter steal [320 
off? I thought he had been with you. 

Joseph S. He was, brother; but hearing you were 
coming, he did not choose to stay. 

Charles S. What! was the old gentleman afraid I 
wanted to borrow money of him? 325 

Joseph S. No, sir; but I am sorry to find, Charles, 
you have lately given that worthy man grounds for 
great uneasiness. 


Charles S. Yes, they tell me I do that to a great 
many worthy men. But how so, pray? 330 

Joseph S. To be plain with you, brother, he thinks 
you are endeavouring to gain Lady Teazle's affections 
from him. 

Charles S. Who, I? O Lud! not I, upon my word. 
Ha! ha! ha! ha! so the old fellow has found out [335 
that he has got a young wife, has he? Or, what is worse. 
Lady Teazle has found out she has an old husband? 

Joseph S. This is no subject to jest on, brother. He 
who can laugh 

Charles S. True, true, as you were going to say [340 
— then, seriously, I never had the least idea of what 
you charge me with, upon my honour. 

Joseph S. Well, it will give Sir Peter great satis- 
faction to hear this. [Raising his voice. 

Charles S. To be sure, I once thought the lady [345 
seemed to have taken a fancy to me; but, upon my 
soul, I never gave her the least encouragement; be- 
sides, you know my attachment to Maria. 

Joseph S. But sure, brother, even if Lady Teazle 
had betrayed the fondest partiality for you 350 

Charles S. Why, look'ee, Joseph, I hope I shall 
never deliberately do a dishonourable action; but if a 
pretty woman was purposely to throw herself in my 
way; and that pretty woman married to a man old 
enough to be her father 355 

Joseph S. Well 

Charles S. Why, I believe I should be obliged to 
borrow a little of your morality, that 's all. But, broth- 
er, do you know now that you surprise me exceeding- 
ingly, by naming me with Lady Teazle? for, 'faith, [360 
I always understood you were her favourite. 


Joseph S. O, for shame, Charles! This retort is 

Charles S. Nay, I swear I have seen you exchange 
such significant glances 365 

Joseph S. Nay, nay, sir, this is no jest. 

Charles S. Egad, I'm serious. Don't you remember 
one day when I called here 

Joseph S. Nay, prithee, Charles 

Charles S. And found you together 370 

Joseph S. Zounds, sir! I insist 

Charles S. And another time when your servant 

Joseph S. Brother, brother, a word with you! Gad, 
I must stop him. [Aside. 

Charles S. Informed, I say, that 375 

Joseph S. Hush! I beg your pardon, but Sir Peter 
has overheard all we have been saying. I knew 
you would clear yourself, or I should not have con- 

Charles S. How, Sir Peter! Where is he? 380 

Josephs. Softly; there! [Points to the closet. 

Charles S. O, 'fore heaven, I'll have him out. Sir 
Peter, come forth ! 

Joseph S. No, no 

Charles S. I say. Sir Peter, come into court. [385 
[Pulls in Sir Peter.] What! my old guardian! What! 
turn inquisitor, and take evidence incog.. '^ 

Sir Peter T. Give me your hand, Charles. I believe 
I have suspected you wrongfully; but you must n't be 
angry with Joseph ; 't was my plan ! 390 

Charles S. Indeed! 

Sir Peter T. But I acquit you. I promise you I 
don't think near so ill of you as I did. What I have 
heard has given me great satisfaction. 


Charles S. Egad, then, 't was lucky you did n't [395 
hear any more; was n't it, Joseph? [Apart to Joseph. 

Sir Peter T. Ah! you would have retorted on him. 

Charles S. Ay, ay, that was a joke. 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes, I know his honour too well. 

Charles S. But you might as well have sus- [400 
pected him as me in this matter, for all that; might n't 
he, Joseph? [Apart to Joseph. 

Sir Peter T. Well, well, I believe you. 

Joseph S. Would they were both well out of the 
room! [Aside. [405 

Enter Servant, and whispers Joseph Surface. 

Sir Peter T. And in future perhaps we may not be 
such strangers. 

Joseph S. Gentlemen, I beg pardon, I must wait on 
you downstairs; here is a person come on particular 
business. 410 

Charles S. Well, you can see him in another room. 
Sir Peter and I have not met a long time, and I 
have something to say to him. 

Joseph S. They must not be left together. [Aside.] 
I '11 send this man away, and return directly. Sir [415 
Peter, not a word of the French milliner, 

[Apart to Sir Peter, and goes out. 

Sir Peter T. I ! not for the world ! [Apart to Jo- 
seph.] Ah! Charles, if you associated more with 
your brother, one might indeed hope for your refor- 
mation. He is a man of sentiment. Well, there is [420 
nothing in the world so noble as a man of sentiment. 

Charles S. Pshaw! he is too moral by half, and so 
apprehensive of his good name, as he calls it, that I 
suppose he would as soon let a priest into his house 
as a girl. 425 


Sir Peter T. No, no; come, come; you wrong him. 
No, no! Joseph is no rake, but he is no such saint 
either in that respect. — I have a great mind to tell 
him; we should have a laugh at Joseph. \ Aside. 

Charles S. Oh, hang him ! He 's a very ancho- [430 
rite, a young hermit. 

Sir Peter T. Hark'ee; you must not abuse him; he 
may chance to hear of it again, I promise you. 

Charles S. Why, you won't tell him? 

Sir Peter T. No — but — this way. Egad, I '11 [435 
tell him. [Aside.] Hark'ee; have you a mind to have 
a good laugh at Joseph? 

Charles S. I should like it of all things. 

Sir Peter T. Then, i' faith, we will; I'll be quit with 
him for discovering me. He had a girl with him [440 
when I called. 

Charles S. What! Joseph? you jest. 

Sir Peter T. Hush ! a little French milliner, and the 
best of the jest is, she's in the room now. 

Charles S. The devil she is! 445 

Sir Peter T. Hush ! I tell you ! [Points. 

Charles S. Behind the screen! 'S life, let's unveil 

Sir Peter T. No, no — he 's coming — you sha'n't, 
indeed ! 450 

Charles S. O, egad, we'll have a peep at the little 

Sir Peter T. Not for the world; Joseph will never 
forgive me 

Charles S. I'll stand by you 455 

Sir Peter T. Odds, here he is. 

Joseph Surface enters just as Charles Surface throws down 
the screen. 

Charles S. Lady Teazle, by all that 's wonderful ! 


Sir Peter T. Lady Teazle, by all that 's damnable ! 

Charles S. Sir Peter, this is one of the smartest 
French milliners I ever saw. Egad, you seem all [460 
to have been diverting yourselves here at hide and 
seek, and I don't see who is out of the secret. Shall 
I beg your ladyship to inform me? Not a word! 
Brother, will you be pleased to explain this matter? 
What! is Morality dumb too? Sir Peter, though [465 
I found you in the dark, perhaps you are not so now ! 
All mute! Well, though I can make nothing of the 
affair, I suppose you perfectly understand one another, 
so I'll leave you to yourselves. [Going.] Brother, I'm 
sorry to find you have given that worthy man [470 
cause for so much uneasiness. Sir Peter! there's noth- 
ing in the world so noble as a man of sentiment! 

[Exit Charles. 
{They stand for some time looking at each other. 

Joseph S. Sir Peter — notwithstanding — I con- 
fess — that appearances are against me — if you will 
afford me your patience — I make no doubt — but [475 
I shall explain everything to your satisfaction. 

Sir Peter T. If you please, sir. 

Joseph S. The fact is, sir, that Lady Teazle, know- 
ing my pretensions to your ward Maria — I say, sir. 
Lady Teazle, being apprehensive of the jealousy of [480 
your temper — and knowing my friendship to the 
family — She, sir, I say — called here — in order that 
— I might explain these pretensions — but on your 
coming — being apprehensive — as I said — of your 
jealousy — she withdrew — and this, you may [485 
depend on it, is the whole truth of the matter. 

Sir Peter T. A very clear account, upon my word; 
and I dare swear the lady will vouch for every article 
of it. 


Lady T. For not one word of it, Sir Peter! [490 

Sir Peter T. How! don't you think it worth while 
to agree in the lie? 

Lady T. There is not one syllable of truth in what 
that gentleman has told you. 494 

Sir Peter T. I believe you, upon my soul, ma'am! 

Joseph S. [Aside to Lady Teazle.] 'S death, madam, 
will you betray me? 

Lady T. Good Mr. Hypocrite, by your leave, I'll 
speak for myself. 

Sir Peter T. Ay, let her alone, sir; you'll find [500 
she'll make out a better story than you, without 

Lady T. Hear me. Sir Peter! I came hither on no 
matter relating to your ward, and even ignorant of 
this gentleman's pretensions to her. But I came [505 
seduced by his insidious arguments, at least to listen 
to his pretended passion, if not to sacrifice your hon- 
our to his baseness. 

Sir Peter T. Now, I believe, the truth is coming 
indeed! 510 

Joseph S. The woman 's mad ! 

Lady T. No, sir, she has recovered her senses, and 
your own arts have furnished her with the means. 
Sir Peter, I do not expect you to credit me, but the 
tenderness you expressed for me, when I am sure [515 
you could not think I was a witness to it, has pene- 
trated so to my heart, that had I left the place with- 
out the shame of this discovery, my future life should 
have spoken the sincerity of my gratitude. As for 
that smooth-tongued hypocrite, who would have [520 
seduced the wife of his too credulous friend, while he 
affected honourable addresses to his ward, I behold 


him now in a light so truly despicable, that I shall 

never again respect myself for having listened to him. 

[Exit Lady Teazle. 

Joseph S. Notwithstanding all this, Sir Peter, [525 
Heaven knows 

Sir Peter T. That you are a villain ! and so I leave 
you to your conscience. 

Joseph S. You are too rash, Sir Peter; you shall hear 
me. The man who shuts out conviction by re- [530 

fusing to 

[Exeunt Sir Peter and Surface talking. 


Scene I. The Library in Joseph Surface's House. 

Enter Joseph Surface and Servant. 

Joseph S. Mr. Stanley.? and why should you think 
I would see him? you must know he comes to ask 

SeriK Sir, I should not have let him in, but that 
Mr. Rowley came to the door with him. 5 

Joseph S. Pshaw! blockhead! to suppose that I 
should now be in a temper to receive visits from poor 
relations! Well, why don't you show the fellow up? 

Serv. I will, sir. Why, sir, it was not my fault that 
Sir Peter discovered my lady 10 

Joseph S. Go, fool ! [Exit Servant.] Sure Fortune 
never played a man of my policy such a trick before. 
My character with Sir Peter, my hopes with Maria, 
destroyed in a moment! I 'm in a rare humour to listen 
to other people's distresses! I sha'n't be able to [15 
bestow even a benevolent sentiment on Stanley. So! 
here he comes, and Rowley with him. I must try to 


recover myself, and put a little charity into my face, 

however. [Exit. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Rowley. 

Sir Oliver S. What! does he avoid us? That [20 
was he, was it not? 

Rowley. It was, sir. But I doubt you are come a 
little too abruptly. His nerves are so weak, that the 
sight of a poor relation may be too much for him. I 
should have gone first to break it to him. 25 

Sir Oliver S. O, plague of his nerves! Yet this is 
he whom Sir Peter extols as a man of the most be- 
nevolent way of thinking! 

Rowley. As to his way of thinking, I cannot pretend 
to decide; for, to do him justice, he appears to [30 
have as much speculative benevolence as any private 
gentleman in the kingdom, though he is seldom so sen- 
sual as to indulge himself in the exercise of it. 

Sir Oliver S. Yet has a string of charitable senti- 
ments at his fingers' ends. 35 

Rowley. Or rather at his tongue's end, Sir Oliver; 
for I believe there is no sentiment he has such faith in, 
as that "Charity begins at home." 

Sir Oliver S. And his, I presume, is of that domestic 
sort which never stirs abroad at all? 40 

Rowley. I doubt you'll find it so; but he's coming. 
I mustn't seem to interrupt you; and, you know, 
immediately as you leave him, I come in to announce 
your arrival in your real character. 

Sir Oliver S. True; and afterwards you'll meet [45 
me at Sir Peter's. 

Rowley. Without losing a moment. [Exit. 

Sir Oliver S. I don't like the complaisance of his 


Enter Joseph Surface. 

Joseph S. Sir, I beg you ten thousand pardons [50 
for keeping you a moment waiting. Mr. Stanley, I 

Sir Oliver S. At your service. 

Joseph S. Sir, I beg you will do me the honour to 
sit down. I entreat you, sir! 55 

Sir Oliver S. Dear sir, there 's no occasion, — Too 
civil by half! [Aside. 

Joseph S. I have not the pleasure of knowing you, 
Mr. Stanley, but I am extremely happy to see you 
look so well. You were nearly related to my mo- [60 
ther, I think, Mr. Stanley? 

Sir Oliver S. I was, sir; so nearly, that my present 
poverty, I fear, may do discredit to her wealthy 
children, else I should not have presumed to trouble 
you. 65 

Joseph S. Dear sir, there needs no apology; he that 
is in distress, though a stranger, has a right to claim 
kindred with the wealthy. I am sure I wish I was of 
that class, and had it in ray power to offer you even a 
small relief. 70 

Sir Oliver S. If your uncle. Sir Oliver, were here, 
I should have a friend. 

Joseph S. I wish he was, sir, with all my heart : you 
should not want an advocate with him, believe me, 
sir. 75 

Sir Oliver S. I should not need one — my distresses 
would recommend me. But I imagined his bounty 
would enable you to become the agent of his charity. 

Joseph S. My dear sir, you were strangely mis- 
informed. Sir Oliver is a worthy man, a very [80 
worthy man; but avarice, Mr. Stanley, is the vice of 
age. I will tell you, my good sir, in confidence, what 


he has done for me has been a mere nothing; though 
people, I know, have thought otherwise, and, for my 
part, I never chose to contradict the report. 85 

Sir Oliver S. What! has he never transmitted you 
bulHon — rupees — pagodas? 

Joseph S. O, dear sir, nothing of the kind. No, no; 
a few presents, now and then — china, shawls, con- 
gou tea, avadavats, and Indian crackers; little [90 
more, believe me. 

Sir Oliver S. Here's gratitude for twelve thousand 
pounds! Avadavats and Indian crackers! [Aside. 

Joseph S. Then, my dear sir, you have heard, I 
doubt not, of the extravagance of my brother; [95 
there are very few would credit what I have done for 
that unfortunate young man. 

Sir Oliver S. Not I, for one! [Aside. 

Joseph S. The sums I have lent him! Indeed I have 
been exceedingly to blame; it was an amiable [lOO 
weakness; however, I don't pretend to defend it; and 
now I feel it doubly culpable, since it has deprived 

87. rupees: the principal silver coins of British India, valued 
in Sheridan's time at about two shillings. 

87. pagodas: gold or silver coins formerly current in India, and 
varying in value from seven to eight shillings. So called because 
bearing upon the reverse the image of a pagoda, or idol. 

89-90. congou tea :" well worked " tea. A black tea of higher 
grade than the Bohea commonly used in England during the 
eighteenth century. 

90. avadavats: a word corrupted from amadavat. A small In- 
dian songbird, called also the strawberry 6nch, from the crimson 
coloring of the male. 

90. Indian crackers. Editors have usually understood this 
to mean firecrackers, wrapped in a style peculiar to India, and 
hence something of a curiosity in England. These would seem 
a somewhat puerile gift, however; and it may reasonably be 
surmised that what Joseph's uncle really sent were Indian 
parrots. Cf. Century Dictionary. - • 


me of the pleasure of serving you, Mr. Stanley, as my 
heart dictates. 

Sir Oliver S. Dissembler! [Aside.] — Then, sir, [105 
you can't assist me? 

Joseph S. At present, it grieves me to say, I can- 
not; but, whenever I have the ability, you may de- 
pend upon hearing from me. 

Sir Oliver S. I am extremely sorry 110 

Joseph S. Not more than I, believe me; to pity 
without the power to relieve, is still more painful than 
to ask and be denied. 

Sir Oliver S. Kind sir, your most obedient humble 
servant. 115 

Joseph S. You leave me deeply affected, Mr. Stan- 
ley. William, be ready to open the door. 

Sir Oliver S. O, dear sir, no ceremony. 

Joseph S. Your very obedient. 

Sir Oliver S. Sir, your most obsequious. 120 

Joseph S. You may depend upon hearing from me, 
whenever I can be of service. 

Sir Oliver S. Sweet sir, you are too good! 

Joseph S. In the mean time I wish you health and 
spirits. 125 

Sir Oliver S. Your ever grateful and perpetual 
humble servant. 

Joseph S. Sir, yours as sincerely. 

Sir Oliver S. Charles, you are my heir! [Aside. Exit. 

Joseph S. This is one bad effect of a good char- [l30 
acter; it invites application from the unfortunate, and 
there needs no small degree of address to gain the re- 
putation of benevolence without incurring the ex- 
pense. The silver ore of pure charity is an expensive 
article in the catalogue of a man's good quahties; [135 


whereas the sentimental French plate I use instead of 
it makes just as good a show, and pays no tax. 
Enter Rowley. 

Rowley. Mr. Surface, your servant. I was appre- 
hensive of interrupting you, though my business de- 
mands immediate attention, as this note will in- [l40 
form you. 

Joseph S. Always happy to see Mr. Rowley. [Reads 
the letter.] Sir Oliver Surface! My uncle arrived! 

Rowley. He is, indeed; we have just parted — quite 
well, after a speedy voyage, and impatient to em- [l45 
brace his worthy nephew. 

Joseph S. I am astonished! William! stop Mr. 
Stanley, if he's not gone. 

Rowley. Oh! he's out of reach, I believe. 

Joseph S. Why did you not let me know this [l50 
when you came in together? 

Rowley. I thought you had particular business; but 
I must be gone to inform your brother, and appoint 
him here to meet your uncle. He will be with you 
in a quarter of an hour. 155 

Joseph S. So he says. Well, I am strangely over- 
joyed at his coming. — Never, to be sure, was any- 
thing so damned unlucky. [Aside. 

Rowley. You will be delighted to see how well he 

looks. • 160 

136-37. French plate . . . makes just as good a show, and pays 
no tax. In 1756 a tax " was charged upon private individuals 
and corporations possessed of plate [solid silver] over a certain 
amount in value; taking the possession of plate as evidence of 
capability to pay a tax." (Dowell's History of Taxation in 
England.) Evidently the reference is to this tax, which was 
repealed in 1777. The French plate, being merely an imitation 
of solid plate, did not indicate the owner's capability of paying 
a ta.\ and, therefore, was not an expensive possession. ^►- 


Joseph S. Ah ! I 'm rejoiced to hear it. Just at 

this time! [.4 side. 

Rowley. I'll tell him how impatiently you expect 

Joseph S. Do, do; pray give my best duty and [165 
affection. Indeed, I cannot express the sensations 
I feel at the thought of seeing him. [Exit Rowley.] 
Certainly his coming just at this time is the cruellest 
piece of ill fortune ! [Exit. 

Scene II. Sir Peter Teazle's. 

Enter Mrs. Candour and Maid. 

Maid. Indeed, ma'am, my lady will see nobody at 

Mrs. Can. Did you tell her it was her friend IVIrs. 

Maid. Yes, ma'am; but she begs you will ex- [5 
cuse her. 

Mrs. Can. Do go again; I shall be glad to see her, 
if it be only for a moment, for I am sure she must be 
in great distress. {Exit Maid.] Dear heart, how pro- 
voicing! I'm not mistress of half the circum- [10 
stances! We shall have the whole affair in the news- 
papers, with the names of the parties at length, before 
I have dropped the story at a dozen houses. 

Enter Sir Benjamin Backbite. 
Oh, Sir Benjamin, you have heard, I suppose 

Sir Benj. B. Of Lady Teazle and Mr. Surface [15 

Mrs. Can.. And Sir Peter's discovery 

Sir Benj. B. O! the strangest piece of business, to 
be sure! 

Mrs. Can. Well, I never was so surprised in my 
life. I am so sorry for all parties, indeed. 20 


Sir Benj. B. Now, I don't pity Sir Peter at all ; he 
was so extravagantly partial to Mr. Surface. 

Mrs. Can. Mr. Surface! Why, 'twas with Charles 
Lady Teazle was detected. 

Sir Benj. B. No, no, I tell you; Mr. Surface is [25 
the gallant. 

Mrs. Can. No such thing! Charles is the man. 
'T was Mr. Surface brought Sir Peter on purpose to 
discover them. 

Sir Benj. B. I tell you I had it from one — 30 

Mrs. Can. And I have it from one — 

Sir Benj. B. Who had it from one, who had it — 

Mrs. Can. From one immediately — but here comes 
Lady Sneerwell ; perhaps she knows the whole affair. 

Enter Lady Sneekwell. 

Lady Sneer. So, my dear Mrs. Candour, here's [35 
a sad affair of our friend. Lady Teazle. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, my dear friend, who would have 

Lady Sneer. Well, there is no trusting appearances; 
though, indeed, she was always too lively for me. 40 

Mrs. Can. To be sure, her manners were a little 
too free; but then she was young! 

Lady Sneer. And had, indeed, some good qualities. 

Mrs. Can. So she had, indeed. But have you heard 
the particulars? 45 

Lady Sneer. No; but everybody says that Mr. 

Sir Benj. B. Ay, there; I told you Mr. Surface was 
the man. 

Mrs. Can. No, no; indeed the assignation was [50 
with Charles. 


Lady Sneer. With Charles! You alarm me, Mrs. 

Mrs. Can. Yes, yes, he was the lover. Mr. Surface, 
to do him justice, was only the informer. [55 

Sir Benj. B. Well, I'll not dispute with you, Mrs. 
Candour; but, be it which it may, I hope that Su* 
Peter's wound will not 

Mrs. Can. Sir Peter's wound ! O, mercy ! I did n't 
hear a word of their fighting. 60 

Lady Sneer. Nor I, a syllable. 

Sir Benj. B. No! what, no mention of the duel.^ 

Mrs. Can. Not a word. 

Sir Benj. B. O, yes; they fought before they left 
the room. 65 

Lady Sneer. Pray, let us hear. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, do oblige us with the duel. 

Sir Benj. B. "Sir," says Sir Peter, immediately after 
the discovery, "you are a most ungrateful fellow." 

Mrs. Can. Ay, to Charles. 70 

Sir Benj. B. No, no, to Mr. Surface — "a most un- 
grateful fellow; and, old as I am, sir," says he, "I insist 
on immediate satisfaction." 

Mrs. Can. Ay, that must have been to Charles; for 
't is very unlikely Mr. Surface should fight in his [75 
own house. 

Sir Benj. B. Gad's life, ma'am, not at all. "Giving 
me satisfaction." On this, ma'am. Lady Teazle, seeing 
Sir Peter in such danger, ran out of the room in strong 
hysterics, and Charles after her, calling out for [80 
hartshorn and water; then, madam, they began to 
fight with swords. 

81. hartshorn: smelling-salts. " What is used here are the 
whole horns of the common male deer which fall off every 


Enter Crabtree. I 

Crabt. With pistols, nephew — pistols. I have it 
from undoubted authority, 

Mrs. Can. O, Mr. Crabtree, then it is all true ! 85 

Crabt. Too true, indeed, madam, and Sir Peter is 
dangerously wounded — 

Sir Benj. B. By a thrust in second quite through his 
left side 

Crabt. By a bullet lodged in the thorax. 90 

Mrs. Can. Mercy on me! Poor Sir Peter! 

Crabt. Yes, madam; though Charles would have 
avoided the matter, if he could. 

Mrs. Can. I knew Charles was the person. 

Sir Benj. B. My uncle, I see, knows nothing of [95 
the matter. 

Crabt. But Sir Peter taxed him with the basest 

Sir Benj. B. That I told you, you know — 

Crabt. Do, nephew, let me speak! and insisted [lOO 
on immediate — 

Sir Benj. B. Just as I said — 

Crabt. Odds life, nephew, allow others to know 
something too. A pair of pistols lay on the bureau 
(for Mr. Surface, it seems, had come home the [l05 
night before late from Salthill, where he had been to 

year. This species is the fallow deer; but some tell us, that the 
medicinal hartshorn should be that of the true hart or stag, 
called the red deer. The salt of hartshorn is a great sudorific and 
the spirit has all the virtues of volatile alkalies: it is used to bring 
people out of faintings by its pungency, holding it under the 
nose, and pouring down some drops of it in water." (Johnson's 
Dictionary, Edition of 1755.) 

88. thrust in second. A thrust in second is a thrust delivered 
low, toward the left, under the adversary's blade. 


see the Montem with a friend, who has a son at 
Eton), so, unluckily, the pistols were left charged. 

Sir Benj. B. I heard nothing of this. 

Crabt. Sir Peter forced Charles to take one, and [llO 
they fired, it seems, pretty nearly together. Charles's 
shot took effect as I tell you, and Sir Peter's missed; 
but what is very extraordinary, the ball struck against 
a little bronze Shakespeare that stood over the fire- 
place, grazed out of the window, at a right angle, [115 
and wounded the postman, who was just coming to 
the door with a double letter from Northampton- 

Sir Benj. B. My uncle's account is more circum- 
stantial, I confess; but I believe mine is the true [120 
one, for all that. 

Lady Sneer. [Aside.] I am more interested in this 
affair than they imagine, and must have better in- 

[Exit Lady Sneerwell. 

Sir Benj. B. Ah! Lady Sneerwell's alarm is [125 
very easily accounted for. 

Crabt. Yes, yes, they certainly do say; but that's 
neither here nor there. 

Mrs. Can. But, pray, where is Sir Peter at present? 

Crabt. Oh! they brought him home, and he is [130 

106. Salthill: a small hill on the Bath road, near Eton College. 

107. Montem. " A triennial ceremony (named from the 
Latin processus ad montem, going to the hill) of the Eton boys. 
It consisted of a procession on Whit Tuesday to Salthill where 
the boys exacted money [called salt-money] from the passers-by, 
to meet the expenses at the university of the captain or senior 
scholar." ( Aitken.) 

There is an interesting account of the Montem in Disraeli's 


now in the house, though the servants are ordered to 
deny him. 

Mrs. Can. I believe so, and Lady Teazle, I suppose, 
attending him. 

Craht. Yes, yes; and I saw one of the faculty [135 
enter just before me. 

Sir Benj. B. Hey, who comes here? 

Craht. O, this is he: th6 physician, depend on't. 

Mrs. Can. O, certainly: it must be the physician; 
and now we shall know. 140 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface. 

Craht. Well, doctor, what hopes? 

Mrs. Can. Ah, doctor, how's your patient? 

Sir Benj. B. Now, doctor, is n't it a wound with a 
small sword? 

Craht. A bullet lodged in the thorax, for a hun- [145 

Sir Oliver S. Doctor! a wound with a small sword! 
and a bullet in the thorax! Oons! are you mad, good 

Sir Benj. B. Perhaps, sir, you are not a doctor? [150 

Sir Oliver S. Truly, I am to thank you for my 
degree if I am. 

Craht. Only a friend of Sir Peter's, then, I presume. 
But, sir, you must have heard of his accident? 

Sir Oliver S. Not a word! 155 

Craht. Not of his being dangerously wounded? 

Sir Oliver S. The devil he is! 

Sir Benj. B. Run through the body 

Craht. Shot in the breast 

Sir Benj. B. By one Mr. Surface 160 

Craht. Ay, the younger. 
135. faculty: i.e., of the medical profession. (Tatlock.) 


Sir Oliver S. Hey! what the plague! you seem to 
differ strangely in your accounts: however, you agree 
that Sir Peter is dangerously wounded. 

Sir Benj. B. O, yes, we agree there. 165 

Crabt. Yes, yes, I believe there can be no doubt of 

Sir Oliver S. Then, upon my word, for a person in 
that situation, he is the most imprudent man alive; for 
here he comes, walking as if nothing at all was [170 
the matter. 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle. 

Odds heart. Sir Peter, you are come in good time. 
I promise you; for we had just given you over. 

Sir Benj. B. Egad, uncle, this is the most sudden 
recovery! 175 

Sir Oliver S. Why, man, what do you out of bed 
with a small sword through your body, and a bullet 
lodged in your thorax? 

Sir Peter T. A small sword, and a bullet ! 

Sir Oliver S. Ay, these gentlemen would have [l80 
killed you without law or physic, and wanted to dub 
me a doctor, to make me an accomplice. 

Sir Peter T. Why, what is all this? 

Sir Benj. B. We rejoice, Sir Peter, that the story of 
the duel is not true, and are sincerely sorry for [185 
your other misfortune. 

Sir Peter T. So, so; all over the town already. 


Crabt. Though, Sir Peter, you were certainly vastly 
to blame to marry at your years. 

Sir Peter T. Sir, what business is that of yours? [190 

Mrs. Can. Though, indeed, as Sir Peter made so 
good a husband, he 's very much to be pitied. 


Sir Peter T. Plague on your pity, ma'am! I desire 
none of it. 

Sir Benj. B. However, Sir Peter, you must not [195 
mind the laughing and jests you will meet with on the 

Sir Peter T. Sir, sir, I desire to be master in my 
own house. 

Crabt. 'T is no uncommon case, that 's one [200 

Sir Peter T. I insist on being left to myself; with- 
out ceremony. I insist on your leaving my house 

Mrs. Can. Well, well, we are going, and depend [205 
on't we'll make the best report of it we can. [Exit. 

Sir Peter T. Leave my house! 

Crabt. And tell how hardly you've been treated. 


Sir Peter T. Leave my house! 

Sir Benj. B. And how patiently you bear it. 210 


Sir Peter T. Fiends! vipers! furies! Oh! that their 
own venom would choke them! 

Sir Oliver S. They are very provoking, indeed, Sir 

Enter Rowley. 

Rowley. I heard high words; what has ruffled [215 
you, sir.? 

Sir Peter T. Pshaw! what signifies asking.? Do I 
ever pass a day without my vexations? 

Rowley. Well-, I'm not inquisitive. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, Sir Peter, I have seen both [220 
my nephews in the. manner we proposed. 

Sir Peter T. A precious couple they are! 

Rowley. Yes, and Sir Oliver is convinced that your 
judgment was right, Sir Peter. 


Sir Oliver S. Yes, I find Joseph is indeed the [225 
man, after all. 

Rowley. Ay, as Sir Peter says, he is a man of sen- 

Sir Oliver S. And acts up to the sentiments he 
professes. 230 

Rowley. It certainly is edification to hear him talk. 

Sir Oliver S. Oh, he's a model for the young men 
of the age! But how's this, Sir Peter? you don't 
join us in your friend Joseph's praise, as I expected. 

Sir Peter T. Sir Oliver, we live in a damned [235 
wicked world, and the fewer we praise the better. 

Rowley. What! do you say so. Sir Peter, who were 
never mistaken in your life? 

Sir Peter T. Pshaw! Plague on you both! I see 
by your sneering you have heard the whole affair. [240 
I shall go mad among you ! 

Rowley. Then, to fret you no longer. Sir Peter, 
we are indeed acquainted with it all. I met Lady 
Teazle coming from Mr. Surface's so humbled, that 
she deigned to request me to be her advocate with [245 

Sir Peter T. And does Sir Oliver know all this? 

Sir Oliver S. Every circumstance. 

iSiV Peter T. What, of the closet and the screen, 
hey? 250 

232. Oh, he's a model for the young men of the age I Row- 
ley and Sir Oliver are rallying Sir Peter with his own words: 
" No person could have more opportunity of judging of their 
hearts, and I was never mistaken in my life. Joseph is indeed a 
model for the young men of the age. He is a man of sentiment, 
and acts up to the sentiments he professes." (i, ii, 63-65.) It 
may be observed in passing that Sir Oliver did not hear the con- 
versation from which he is quoting. (Brown.) 


Sir Oliver S. Yes, yes, and the little French mil- 
liner. O, I have been vastly diverted with the story! 
Ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Peter T. 'T was very pleasant. 

Sir Oliver S. I never laughed more in my life, [255 
I assure you. Ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Peter T. O, vastly diverting ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Rowley. To be sure, Joseph with his sentiments; 
ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes, his sentiments ! Ha ! ha ! [260 
ha! Hypocritical villain! 

Sir Oliver S. Ay, and that rogue Charles to pull 
Sir Peter out of the closet : ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Sir Peter T. Ha! ha! 't was devilish entertaining, 
to be sure! 265 

Sir Oliver S. Ha! ha! ha! Egad, Sir Peter, I should 
like to have seen your face when the screen was 
thrown down: ha! ha! 

Sir Peter T. Yes, yes, my face when the screen was 
thrown down : ha ! ha ! ha ! Oh, I must never show [270 
my head again! 

Sir Oliver S. But come, come, it is n't fair to laugh 
at you neither, my old friend; though, upon my soul, 
I can't help it. 

Sir Peter T. O pray don't restrain your mirth [275 
on my account; it does not hurt me at all! I laugh at 
the whole affair myself. Yes, yes, I think being a 
standing jest for all one's acquaintance a very happy 
situation. O yes, and then of a morning to read the 
paragraphs about Mr. S — , Lady T — , and Sir P- — , [280 
will be so entertaining! 

Rowley. Without affectation, Sir Peter, you may 
279-80. the paragraphs. See note on Tete-a-tetes, page 12. 


despise the ridicule of fools; but I see Lady Teazle 
going towards the next room. I am sure you must 
desire a reconciliation as earnestly as she does. 285 

Sir Oliver S. Perhaps my being here prevents her 
coming to you. Well, I'll leave honest Rowley to 
mediate between you; but he must bring you all 
presently to Mr. Surface's, where I am now returning, 
if not to reclaim a libertine, at least to expose [290 

Sir Peter T. Ah, I '11 be present at your discovering 
yourself there with all my heart; though 't is a vile 
unlucky place for discoveries. 

Rowley. We '11 follow. \Exit Sir Oliver. 295 

Sir Peter T. She is not coming here, you see, 

Rowley. No, but she has left the door of that room 
open, you perceive. See, she is in tears. 

Sir Peter T. Certainly a little mortification ap- [300 
pears very becoming in a wife. Don't you think it will 
do her good to let her pine a little? 

Rowley. Oh, this is ungenerous in you! 

Sir Peter T. Well, I know not what to think. You 
remember the letter I found of hers, evidently [305 
intended for Charles? 

Rowley. A mere forgery. Sir Peter, laid in your 
way on purpose. This is one of the points which I 
intend Snake shall give you conviction of. 

Sir Peter T. I wish I were once satisfied of that. [310 
She looks this way. What a remarkably elegant turn 
of the head she has ! Rowley, I '11 go to her. 

Rowley. Certainly. 

Sir Peter T. Though when it is known that we are 
reconciled, people will laugh at me ten times more. [315 


Rowley. Let them laugh, and retort their maUce 
only by showing them you are happy in spite of it. 

Sir Peter T. V faith, so I will ! And if I 'm not mis- 
taken, we may yet be the happiest couple in the 
country. 320 

Rowley. Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside 

Sir Peter T. Hold, Master Rowley ! if you have 
any regard for me, let me never hear you utter any- 
thing like a sentiment. I have had enough of them [325 
to serve me the rest of my life. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. The Library in Joseph Surface's House. 

Enter Joseph Surface and Lady Sneerwell. 

Lady Sneer. Impossible! Will not Sir Peter imme- 
diately be reconciled to Charles, and, of course, no 
longer oppose his union with Maria.'' The thought is 
distraction to me. 

Joseph S. Can passion furnish a remedy.'' 5 

Lady Sneer. No, nor cunning neither. O! I was a 
fool, an idiot, to league with such a blunderer! 

Joseph S. Lady Sneerwell, I am the greatest suf- 
ferer; yet you see I bear the accident with calmness. 

Lady Sneer. Because the disappointment does [10 
n't reach your heart; your interest only attached you 
to Maria. Had you felt for her what I have for that 
ungrateful libertine, neither your temper nor hypo- 
crisy could prevent your showing the sharpness of 
your vexation. 15 

Joseph S. But why should your reproaches fall on 
me for this disappointment? 

Lady Sneer. Are you not the ca,use of it? Had you 


not a sufficient field for your roguery in imposing upon 
Sir Peter, and supplanting your brother, but you [20 
must endeavour to seduce his wife? I hate such an 
avarice of crimes; t' is an unfair monopoly, and never 

Joseph S. Well, I admit I have been to blame. I 
confess I deviated from the direct road of wrong, [25 
but I don't think we 're so totally defeated neither. 

Lady Sneer. No! 

Joseph S. You tell me you have made a trial of 
Snake since we met, and that you still believe him 
faithful to us. 30 

Lady Sneer. I do believe so. 

Joseph S. And that he has undertaken, should it be 
necessary, to swear and prove, that Charles is at this 
time contracted by vows and honour to your lady- 
ship, which some of his former letters to you will [35 
serve to support.'* 

Lady Sneer. This, indeed, might have assisted. 

Joseph S. Come, come; it is not too late yet. 
[Knocking at the door.] But hark! this is probably my 
uncle, Sir Oliver; retire to that room, we'll consult (40 
farther when he is gone. 

Lady Sneer. Well, but if he should find you out too? 

Joseph S. Oh, I have no fear of that. Sir Peter will 
hold his tongue for his own credit's sake; and you may 
depend on it I shall soon discover Sir Oliver's weak [45 

Lady Sneer. I have no diffidence of your abilities! 
only be constant to one roguery at a time. 

[Exit Lady Sneerwell. 

Joseph S. I will, I will. So! 't is confounded hard, 
after such bad fortune, to be baited by one's con- [50 


federate in evil. Well, at all events my character is so 
much better than Charles's, that I certainly — hey ! — 
what! — this is not Sir Oliver, but old Stanley again. 
Plague on 't that he should return to tease me just now. 
I shall have Sir Oliver come and find him here — [55 

and -^ 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface. 

Gad's life, Mr. Stanley, why have you come back to 
plague me at this time.'* You must not stay now, upon 
my word. 

Sir Oliver S. Sir, I hear your uncle Oliver is ex- [60 
pected here, and though he has been so penurious to 
you, I '11 try what he '11 do for me. 

Joseph S. Sir, 't is impossible for you to stay now, 
so I must beg — come any other time, and I promise 
you, you shall be assisted. [65 

Sir Oliver S. No; Sir Oliver and I must be ac- 

Joseph S. Zounds, sir! then I insist on your quitting 
the room directly. 

Sir Oliver S. Nay, sir 70 

Joseph S. Sir, I insist on't: here, William! show 
this gentleman out. Since you compel me, sir, not one 
moment; this is such insolence! [Going to push Mm out. 
Enter Charles Surface. 

Charles S. Hey day! what's the matter now! What 
the devil, have you got hold of my little broker [75 
here? Zounds, brother! don't hurt little Premium. 
What's the matter, my little fellow? 

Joseph S. So! he has been with you too, has he? 

Charles S. To be sure he has. Why he's as honest 

a little But sure, Joseph, you have not been [80 

borrowing money too, have you? 


Joseph S. Borrowing! no! But, brother, you know 
we expect Sir Oliver here every 

Charles S. O Gad, that 's true ! Noll must n't find 
the little broker here, to be sure. 85 

Joseph S. Yet Mr. Stanley insists 

Charles S. Stanley ! why his name 's Premium. 

Joseph S. No, sir, Stanley. 

Charles S. No, no, Premium. 

Joseph S. Well, no matter which — but 90 

Charles S. Ay, ay, Stanley or Premium, 't is the 
same thing, as you say; for I suppose he -goes by 
half a hundred names, besides A. B. at the coffee- 
house. [Knocking. 

Joseph S. 'S death, here's Sir Oliver at the door. [95 
Now I beg, Mr. Stanley 

Charles S. Ay, ay, and I beg, Mr. Premium 

Sir Oliver S. Gentlemen 

Joseph S. Sir, by heaven you shall go! 

Charles S. Ay, out with him, certainly! 100 

Sir Oliver S. This violence 

Joseph S. Sir, 't is your own fault. 

Charles S. Out with him, to be sure. 

[Both forcing Sir Oliver out. 
Enter Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, Maria, and Rowley. 

Sir Peter T. My old friend. Sir Oliver; hey! What 
in the name of wonder; here are dutiful nephews; [l05 
assault their uncle at a first visit! 

Lady T. Indeed, Sir Oliver, 't was well we came in 
to rescue you. 

Rowley. Truly, it was; for I perceive. Sir Oliver, the 
character of old Stanley was no protection to you. [llO 

Sir Oliver S. Nor of Premium either: the necessities 

93-94. A. B. at the coffee-house. See the note on dash and 
star, page 8. 


of the former could not extort a shilling from that 
benevolent gentleman; and now, egad, I stood a 
chance of faring worse than my ancestors, and being 
knocked down without being bid for. 115 

Joseph S. Charles! 

Charles S. Joseph! 

Joseph S. 'T is now complete! 

Charles S. Very! 

Sir Oliver S. Sir Peter, my friend, and Rowley [120 
too — look on that elder nephew of mine. You know 
what he has already received from my bounty; and 
you also know how gladly I would have regarded half 
my fortune as held in trust for him; judge then my 
disappointment in discovering him to be destitute [l25 
of faith, charity, and gratitude. 

Sir Peter T. Sir Oliver, I should be more surprised 
at this declaration, if I had not myself found him 
to be mean, treacherous, and hypocritical. 

Lady T. And if the gentleman pleads not guilty [130 
to these, pray let him call me to his character. 

Sir Peter T. Then, I believe, we need add no more : 
if he knows himself, he will consider it as the most 
perfect punishment, that he is known to the world. 

Charles S. If they talk this way to honesty, [l35 
what will they say to me, by and by? [Aside. 

Sir Oliver S. As for that prodigal, his brother, 

Charles S. Ay, now comes my turn; the damned 
family pictures will ruin me. [Aside. 140 

Joseph S. Sir Oliver; uncle, will you honour me with 
a hearing? 

Charles S. Now if Joseph would make one of his 
long speeches, I might recollect myself a little. [Aside. 


Sir Peter T. I suppose you would undertake to [145 
justify yourself entirely. [To Joseph. 

Joseph S. I trust I could. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, sir! and you could justify your- 
self too, I suppose .f* 

Charles S. Not that I know of. Sir Oliver. 150 

Sir Oliver S. What! Little Premium has been let too 
much into the secret, I suppose .f* 

Charles S. True, sir; but they were family secTets, 
and should not be mentioned again, you know. 

Rowley. Come, Sir Oliver, I know you cannot [l55 
speak of Charles's follies with anger. 

Sir Oliver S. Odd's heart, no more can I; nor with 
gravity either. Sir Peter, do you know the rogue bar- 
gained with me for all his ancestors; sold me judges 
and generals by the foot, and maiden aunts as [160 
cheap as broken china. 

Charles S. To be sure. Sir Oliver, I did make a 
little free with the family canvas, that 's the truth on 't. 
My ancestors may rise in judgment against me, there 's 
no denying it; but believe me sincere when I tell [165 
you — and upon my soul I would not say so if I was 
not — that if I do not appear mortified at the exposure 
of my follies, it is because I feel at this moment the 
warmest satisfaction in seeing you, my liberal bene- 
factor. 170 

Sir Oliver S. Charles, I believe you; give me your 
hand again; the ill -looking little fellow over the set- 
tee has made your peace. 

Charles S. Then, sir, my gratitude to the original 
is still increased. 175 

Lady T. Yet, I believe. Sir Oliver, here is one whom 
Charles is still more anxious to be reconciled to. 

i {Pointing to Maria. 


Sir Oliver S. Oh, I have heard of his attachment 
there; and, with the young lady's pardon, if I con- 
strue right — that blush ISO 

Sir Peter T. Well, child, speak your sentiments ! 

Maria. Sir, I have little to say, but that I shall re- 
joice to hear that he is happy ; for me — whatever 
claim I had to his affection, I willingly resign to one 
who has a better title. 185 

Charles S. How, Maria! 

Sir Peter T. Hey day! what's the mystery now? 
While he appeared an incorrigible rake, you would 
give your hand to no one else; and now that he is likely 
to reform, I '11 warrant you won't have him. 190 

Maria. His own heart and Lady Sneerwell know 
the cause. 

Charles S. Lady Sneerwell! 

Joseph S. Brother, it is with great concern I am 
obliged to speak on this point, but my regard to [195 
justice compels me, and Lady Sneerwell's injuries can 
no longer be concealed. [Opens the door. 

Enter Lady Sneerwell. 

Sir Peter T. So! another French milliner! Egad, 
he has one in every room of the house, I suppose. 

Lady Sneer. Ungrateful Charles! Well may [200 
you be surprised, and feel for the indelicate situation 
your perfidy has forced me into. 

Charles S. Pray, uncle, is this another plot of yours? 
For, as I have life, I don't understand it. 

Joseph S. I believe, sir, there is but the evi- [205 
dence of one person more necessary to make it ex- 
tremely clear. 

Sir Peter T. And that person, I imagine, is Mr. 


Snake. Rowley, you were perfectly right to bring 
him with us, and pray let him appear. 210 

Rowley. Walk in, Mr. Snake. 
Enter Snake. 
I thought his testimony might be wanted; however, 
it happens unluckily that he comes to confront Lady 
Sneerwell, not to support her. 

Lady Sneer. A villain! Treacherous to me at [215 
last! Speak, fellow; have you too conspired against 

Snake. I beg your ladyship ten thousand pardons; 
you paid me extremely liberally for the lie in question; 
but I unfortunately have been offered double to [220 
speak the truth. 

Sir Peter T. Plot and counter-plot, egad! 

Lady Sneer. The torments of shame and disappoint- 
ment on you all. 

Lady T. Hold, Lady Sneerwell; before you go, [225 
let me thank you for the trouble you and that gentle- 
man have taken, in writing letters from me to Charles, 
and answering them yourself; and let me also request 
you to make my respects to the scandalous college, 
of which you are president, and inform them [230 
that Lady Teazle, licentiate, begs leave to return the 
diploma they gave her, as she leaves off practice, and 
kills characters no longer. 

Lady Sneer. You too, madam — provoking — in- 
solent. May your husband live these fifty years. [235 


Sir Peter T. Oons! what a fury! 

Lady T. A malicious creature, indeed! 

Sir Peter T. Hey ! Not for her last wish? 

Lady T. O no! 


Sir Oliver S. Well, sir, and what have you to [240 
say now? 

Joseph S. Sir, I am so confounded, to find that Lady 
Sneerwell could be guilty of suborning Mr. Snake 
in this manner, to impose on us all, that I know not 
what to say; however, lest her revengeful spirit [245 
should prompt her to injure my brother, I had cer- 
tainly better follow her directly. [Exit. 

Sir Peter T. Moral to the last drop! 

Sir Oliver S. Ay, and marry her, Joseph, if you 
can. Oil and vinegar, egad! you'll do very well [250 

Rowley. I believe we have no more occasion for Mr. 
Snake at present? 

Snake. Before I go, I beg pardon once for all, for 
whatever uneasiness I have been the humble in- [255 
strument of causing to the parties present. 

Sir Peter T. Well, well, you have made atonement 
by a good deed at last. 

Snake. But I must request of the company that it 
shall never be known. 260 

Sir Peter T. Hey! What the plague! Are you 
ashamed of having done a right thing once in your 

Snake. Ah, sir! consider; I live by the badness of 
my character, I have nothing but my infamy to [265 
depend on! and if it were once known that I had been 
betrayed into an honest action, I should lose every 
friend I have in the world. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, well; we'll not traduce you by 
saying anything in your praise, never fear. 270 

[Exit Snake. 

Sir Peter T. There's a precious rogue! 


Lady T. See, Sir Oliver, there needs no persuasion 
now to reconcile your nephew and Maria. 

Sir Oliver S. Ay, ay, that's as it should be, and egad 
we'll have the wedding to-morrow morning. 275 

Charles S. Thank you, dear uncle! 

Sir Peter T. What, you rogue! don't you ask the 
girl's consent first? 

Charles S. Oh, I have done that a long time — a 
minute ago — and she has looked yes. 280 

Maria. For shame, Charles! I protest. Sir Peter, 
there has not been a word. 

Sir Oliver S. Well, then, the fewer the better. May 
your love for each other never know abatement! 

Sir Peter T. And may you live as happily to- [285 
gether as Lady Teazle and I intend to do! 

Charles S. Rowley, my old friend, I am sure you 
congratulate me; and I suspect that I owe you 

Sir Oliver S. You do indeed, Charles. 290 

Rowley. If my efforts to serve you had not suc- 
ceeded, you would have been in my debt for the 
attempt: but deserve to be happy, and you overpay 

Sir Peter T. Ay, honest Rowley always said [295 
you would reform. 

Charles S. Why, as to reforming, Sir Peter, I'll 
make no promises, and that I take to be a proof 
that I intend to set about it; but here shall be my 
monitor — my gentle guide. Ah ! can I leave the [300 
virtuous path those eyes illumine .f' 

Though thou, dear maid, shouldst wave thy beauty's 

Thou still must rule, because I will obey: 


An humble fugitive from Folly view. 

No sanctuary near but Love and you. 305 

[To the audience. 

You can, indeed, each anxious fear remove, 
For even Scandal dies if you approve. 




I, WHO was late so volatile and gay, 

Like a trade wind must now blow all one way, 

Bend all my cares, my studies, and my vows. 

To one dull rusty weathercock — my spouse ! 

So wills our virtuous bard — the motley Bayes 5 

Of crying epilogues and laughing plays ! 

Old bachelors, who marry smart young wives. 

Learn from our play to regulate your lives : 

Each bring his dear to town, all faults upon her, 

London will prove the very source of honour. 10 

Plunged fairly in, like a cold bath it serves. 

When principles relax, to brace the nerves. 

Mr. Colman. George Colman, the Elder (1732-94), dramatist 
and manager or proprietor of various theatres. He was much 
interested in The School for Scandal, and, before its performance, 
read the play aloud to Burke, Reynolds, and others. In this 
Epilogue, he may be charged with being somewhat maladroit, in 
that he raises a doubt as to the sincerity of Lady Teazle's reform- 
ation, whereas from the play itself we are convinced of it. 

5. Bayes. The chief character in The Rehearsal (1671), a 
farce by George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham. This 
farce was a satire upon the rhyming plays of the time, and 
parodies several passages in the plays of John Dryden, who was 
himself caricatured in the character of Bayes. The Rehearsal 
was succeeded on the stage by Sheridan's The Critic, a piece in 
much the same spirit. Here, as in the Epilogue to Goldsmith's 
She Stoops to Conquer, the name Bayes means simply "drama- 
tist," or " poet." 


Such is my case; and yet I must deplore 

That the gay dream of dissipation 's o'er. 

And say, ye fair, was ever lively wife, 15 

Born with a genius for the highest life, 

Like me untimely blasted in her bloom. 

Like me condemn'd to such a dismal doom? 

Save money — when I just knew how to waste it! 

Leave London — just as I began to taste it ! 20 

Must I then watch the early crowing cock. 
The melancholy ticking of a clock; 
In a lone rustic hall for ever pounded. 
With dogs, cats, rats, and squalling brats surrounded? 
With humble curate can I now retire 25 

(While good Sir Peter boozes with the squire), 
And at backgammon mortify my soul. 
That pants for loo, or flutters at a vole? 
Seven 's the main ! Dear sound that must expire, 
Lost at hot cockles round a Christmas fire! 30 

28. loO: a game of cards popular at the time. The name is 
abbreviated from " lanterloo," originally the meaningless refrain 
in a topical song, popular in the seventeenth century. Cf. the 
refrain " Falero, lero, loo," in Wither's I loved a Lass. 

28. vole: winning all the tricks in a deal: a " slam." 

29. Seven's the main. " A throw of the dice. In hazard 
[see note on page 66] the caster called his ' main ' by naming 
any number from five to nine, rattled the dice in the box, and 
threw them on the table. If the number of his main appeared, 
he won his stake." (Nettleton, quoting Boulton's The Amuse- 
ments of Old London.) 

To throw seven was considered very lucky. Cf. the mystic 
significance of the number seven in literature generally. 

30. hot cockles. A game of forfeits " in which one player knelt 
down with his eyes covered, and being struck on the back by the 
others in turn, guessed who struck him." (Murray, A New 
English Dictionary.) It was a popular pastime at Christmas. Cf. 
Brand's Popular Antiquities and Irving's Christmas Eve. 


The transient hour of fashion too soon spent, 
Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content! 
Farewell the plumed head, the cushioned tete. 
That takes the cushion from its proper seat ! 
The spirit-stirring drum! card drums I mean, 35 

Spadille — odd trick — pam — basto — king and 

queen ! 
And you, ye knockers, that, with brazen throat. 
The welcome visitors' approach denote; 
Farewell all quality of high renown. 
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious town! 40 
Farewell! your revels I partake no more, 
And Lady Teazle's occupation's o'er! 
All this I told our bard; he smiled, and said 'twas 

I ought to play deep tragedy next year; 
Meanwhile he drew wise morals from his play, 45 

And in these solemn periods stalk'd away : — 

32. Farewell the tranquil mind. A parody on Othello's solilo- 
quy, III, iii, 3J.7-77: — 

"O, now, for ever 
Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content? 
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars, 
That makes ambition virtue! O, farewell! 
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, 
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, 
The royal banner, and all quality, 
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war! 
And, O you mortal engines, whose rude throats 
The immortal Jove's dread clamours counterfeit, 
Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone!" 

35. card drums: card parties. 

36. Spadille. In the game of ombre, popular in the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, the ace of spades, the highest 

36. pam: the knave of clubs. 

36. basto: the ace of clubs. Cf. Pope's Rape of the Lock, m. 


" Blest were the fair like you! her faults who stopp'd. 
And closed her follies when the curtain dropp'd ! 
No more in vice or error to engage, 
Or play the fool at large on life's great stage." 50 

50. life's great stage. Cf. " All the world 's a stage," As You 
Like It, II. vii, 139. 



The theatre, like all other amusements, has its fashions and 
its prejudices; and when satiated with its excellence, man- 
kind begin to mistake change for improvement. For some 
years tragedy was the reigning entertainment; but of late 
it has entirely given way to comedy, and our best efforts 
are now exerted in these lighter kinds of composition. The 
pompous train, the swelling phrase, and the unnatural rant, 
are displaced for that natural portrait of human folly and 
frailty, of which all are judges, because all have sat for the 

But as in describing nature it is presented with a double 
face, either of mirth or sadness, our modern writers find 
themselves at a loss which chiefly to copy from; and it is 
now debated, whether the exhibition of human distress is 
likely to afford the mind more entertainment than that of 
human absm-dity? 

Comedy is defined by Aristotle to be a picture of the frail- 
ties of the lower part of mankind, to distinguish it from trag- 
edy, which is an exhibition of the misfortunes of the great. 
When comedy, therefore, ascends to produce the characters 
of princes or generals upon the stage, it is out of its walks, 
since low life and middle life are entirely its object. The 
principal question, therefore, is, whether, in describing low or 
middle life, an exhibition of its follies be not preferable to a 
detail of its calamities? Or, in other words, which deserves 
the preference, — the weeping sentimental comedy so much 
in fashion at present, or the laughing, and even low comedy, 

■ This was contributed by Goldsmith to the Westminster Maga- 
zine, December, 1772. It is the most famous of many papers upon 
the subject, and is peculiarly significant because of Goldsmith's part 
in the controversy. 


which seems to have been last exhibited by Vanbrugh and 

If we apply to authorities, all the great masters in the 
dramatic art have but one opinion. Their rule is, that as 
tragedy displays the calamities of the great, so comedy should 
excite our laughter by ridiculously exhibiting the follies of 
the lower part of mankind. Boileau, one of the best modern 
critics, asserts, that comedy will not admit of tragic distress: 

"Le comique, ennemi des soupirs et des r'eurs, 
N'admet point dans ses vers de tragiques douleurs." 

Nor is this rule without the strongest foundation in nature, 
as the distresses of the mean by no means affect us so 
strongly as the calamities of the great. When tragedy ex- 
hibits to us some great man fallen from his height, and 
struggling with want and adversity, we feel his situation in 
the same manner as we suppose he himself must feel, and our 
pity is increased in proportion to the height from which he 
fell. On the contrary, we do not so strongly sjTupathise 
with one born in humbler circumstances, and encountering 
accidental distress; so that while we melt for Belisarius,* 
we scarcely give halfpence to the beggar who accosts us in 
the street. The one has our pity; the other our contempt. 
Distress, therefore, is the proper object of tragedy, since the 
great excite our pity by their fall; but not equally so of 
comedy, since the actors employed in it are originally so 
mean, that they sink but little by their fall. 

Since the first origin of the stage, tragedy and comedy 
have run in distinct channels, and never till of late en- 
croached upon the provinces of each other. Terence, who 
seems to have made the nearest approaches, always judi- 
ciously stops short before he comes to the downright pa- 
thetic; and yet he is even reproached by Csesar for wanting 
the vis comica. All the other comic writers of antiquity aim 
only at rendering folly or vice ridiculous, but never exalt their 

1 One of the most famous generals of the Roman Emperor Justinian 
(527-65) in his campaigns against the Vandals and the Goths. 
Being accused of treachery, Belisarius was deprived of all his 
property and his eyes were put out. He returned to Constantino- 
ple, then the capital of the Empire, and sought his living by beg- 
ging. In literature his story is perpetuated in Marmontel's Bdi- 
saire and in the legends of Casios, a Greek poet of 1120. 


characters into buskined pomp, or make what Voltaire 
humorously calls a tradesman's tragedy. 

Yet notwithstanding this weight of authority, and the 
universal practice of former ages, a new species of dramatic 
composition has been introduced, under the name of senti- 
mental comedy, in which the virtues of private life are ex- 
hibited, rather than the vices exposed; and the distresses 
rather than the faults of mankind make our inteerst in the 
piece. These comedies have had of late great success, perhaps 
from their novelty, and also from their flattering every man 
in his favourite foible. In these plays almost all the charac- 
ters are good, and exceedingly generous; they are lavish 
enough of their tin money on the stage ; and though they want 
humour, have abundance of sentiment and feeling. If they 
happen to have faults or foibles, the spectator is taught, not 
only to pardon, but to applaud them, in consideration of the 
goodness of their hearts; so that folly, instead of being ridi- 
culed, is commended, and the comedy aims at touching our 
passions without the power of being truly pathetic. In this 
manner we are likely to lose one great source of entertain- 
ment on the stage; for while the comic poet is invading the 
province of the tragic muse, he leaves her lovely sister quite 
neglected. Of this, however, he is no Vv'ay solicitous, as he 
measures his fame by his profits. 

But it will be said, that the theatre is formed to amuse man- 
kind, and that it matters little, if this end be answered, by 
what means it is obtained. If mankind find delight in weeping 
at comedy, it would be cruel to abridge them in that or any 
other innocent pleasure. If those pieces are denied the name 
of comedies, yet call them by any other name and, if they are 
delightful, they are good. Their success, it will be said, is a 
mark of their merit, and it is onlj^ abridging our happiness 
to deny us an inlet to amusement. 

These objections, however, are rather specious than solid. 
It is true, that amusement is a great object of the theatre, and 
it will be allowed that these sentimental pieces do often amuse 
us; but the question is, whether the true comedy would not 
amuse us more? The question is, whether a character sup- 
ported throughout a piece, with its ridicule still attending, 
would not give us more delight than this species of bastard 
tragedy, which only is applauded because it -is new? 


A friend of mine, who was sitting unmoved at one of these 
sentimental pieces, was asked how he could be so indifferent: 
*' Why, truly," says he, "as the hero is but a tradesman, it is 
indifferent to me whether he be turned out of his counting- 
house on Fish Street Hill, since he will still have enough left 
to open shop in St. Giles's." 

The other objection is as ill-grounded; for though we 
should give these pieces another name, it will not mend their 
efficacy. It will continue a kind of mulish production, with all 
the defects of its opposite parents, and marked with sterility. 
If we are permitted to make comedy weep, we have an 
equal right to make tragedy laugh, and to set down in blank 
verse the jests and repartees of all the attendants in a 
funeral procession. 

But there i§ one argument in favour of sentimental com- 
edy, which will keep it on the stage, in spite of all that can be 
said against it. It is, of all others, the most easily written. 
Those abilities that can hammer out a novel are fully suffi- 
cient for the production of a sentimental comedy. It is only 
sufficient to raise the characters a little ; to deck out the hero 
with a riband, or give the heroine a title; then to put an 
insipid dialogue, without character or humour, into their 
mouths, give them mighty good hearts, very fine clothes, 
furnish a new set of scenes, make a pathetic scene or two, 
with a sprinkling of tender melancholy conversation through 
the whole, and there is no doubt but all the ladies will cry, 
and all the gentlemen applaud. 

Humour at present seems to be departing from the stage, 
and it will soon happen that our comic players will have 
nothing left for it but a fine coat and a song. It depends upon 
the audience whether they will actually drive those poor 
merry creatures from the stage, or sit at a play as gloomy as 
at the Tabernacle.^ It is not easy to recover an art when 
once lost; and it will be but a just punishment, that when, by 
our being too fastidious, we have banished humour from the 
stage, we should ourselves be deprived of the art of laughing. 

' The TaVjcrnaclc, in Moorfields, was the headquarters of George 
Whitefield's London work. He was a celebrated pulpit orator and 
revivalist, one of the founders of Methodism. An open-air audience 
which he addressed was said to number "about twenty thousand 
people." Whitefield preached with great effect throughout Great 
Britain, and made four visits to America. He was burlesqued in 
Samuel Foote's The Minor. 



I. Richard Brinsley Sheridan 

(A) Biography 
The most valuable biographies are indicated by an asterisk (*) 

Fitzgerald, Percy Hetherington. 
The Lives of the Sheridans. 
The Sheridans. (Beaux and Belles of England.) 
Moore, Thomas. Memoirs of the Life of Richard Brinsley 

Oliphant, Margaret 0. W. Sheridan. (English Men of 

Letters Series.) 
Rae, William Eraser. *Sheridan; a Biography. 
Sanders, Lloyd C. *Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. 

With the British Museum Bibliography. By John P, 

Anderson. (Great Writers Series.) 
Sichel, Walter S. *Sheridan. From new and original 

material, including a manuscript diary by Georgiana, 

Duchess of Devonshire. 
Whipple, Edwin P. Richard Brinsley Sheridan. (In 

Essays and Revieios.) 

(B) Eulogy and Satire 

Byron, George Gordon Noel. Monody on the Death of 
R. B. Sheridan. 

Earle, William. Sheridan and His Times. By an octo- 
genarian who stood by his knee in youth and sat at h^ 
table in manhood. 

Heroic Epistle, An. From cunning little Isaac to the modern 

Mangin, Edward. A letter to Thomas Moore on the sub- 
ject of Sheridan's School for Scandal. 

Sheridoniana: or anecdotes of the life of Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan, his table-talk, and bonmots. 

Surface, Joseph (pseud.) An epistle from Joseph Surface, 
Esq., to Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq. ' 


(C) Dramatic Works 
1. Sheridan's Plays. 

The Works of the Late Right Honorable Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan. 2 vols. [Edited by Thomas Moore.] London, 

The Dramatic Works of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. With a 
biographical and critical sketch by Leigh Hunt. Lon- 
don, 1840. 

Sheridan's Comedies. [The Rivals and The School for Scan- 
dal.] With an introduction and notes to each play and a 
biographical sketch of Sheridan. Edited by Brander 
Matthews. Boston, 1885. 

Sheridan's Plays. Noxo printed as he wrote them and his 
mother's unpublished comedy, A Journey to Bath. Edited 
by W. Eraser Rae. London, 1902. 

The Major Dramas of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Edited 
with Introductions and notes by George Henry Nettle- 
ton. Boston, 1906. 

The Rivals. By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. With an in- 
troduction and notes by Joseph Quincy Adams, Jr. Bos- 
ton, 1910. 

The Rivals. With a preface and notes by G. A. Aitken. 
(Temple Dramatists.) London, 1897. 

The School for Scandal. With a preface and notes by G. A. 
Aitken. (Temple Dramatists.) London, 1897. 

£. Anthologies 

Brown, Calvin S. (Editor.) The Later English Drama. 
New York 1898. 

Tatlock, John S. P., and Martin, Robert G. (Editors.) 
Representative English Plays, from the Middle Ages to the 
End of the Nineteenth Century. New York, 1916. 

Tupper' Frederick and James W. (Editors.) Representa- 
tive English Dramas from Dryden to Sheridan. New York, 

II. History and Criticism of the English Drama 

Baker, H. B. The London Stage 1576-1903. 

Bernbaum, Ernest. The Drama of Sensibility. A sketch 
of the history of English sentimental comedy and domes- 
tie tragedy, 1$96-1789. 


The Cambridge History of English Literature. Vol. viii, chaps. 
V, VI, VII : vol. IX, chap, ii; vol. x, chaps, ii, iv, ix. 

DiBDiN, Charles, Jr., The History and Illustration of the 
London Theatres. 

Genest, John. Some Account of the English Stage from the 
Restoration in 1660 to 1830. 

GossE, Edmund. A History of the Eighteenth Century Lit- 
erature, 1660-1780. 

Hazlitt, William. 

Lectures on the English Comic Writers. 
A View of the English Stage. 

Hunt, Leigh. Critical Essays on the Performers of the 
London Theatres. 

Lamb, Charles. Dramatic Essays. Edited by Brander 

Matthews, Brander. Development of the Drama. 

Meredith, George. An Essay on Comedy, and the Uses of 
the Comic Spirit. 

Molloy, Joseph Fitzgerald. Famous Plays: their histories 
and their authors. 

Nettleton, George Henry. English Drama of the Res- 
toration and Eighteenth Century, 1642-1780. 

Seccombe, Thomas. The Age of Johnson, 1744-1798. 

Taine, Hippolyte Adolphe. History of English Litera- 
ture. Translated from the French by H. Van Laun. 
(Book III, chap, i.) 

Victor, Benjamin. History of the Theatres of London and 

Wynne, Arnold. The Groioth of English Drama. 

III. London in the Eighteenth Century * 
(A) Biography and Letters. 

Aitken, George A. Life of Richard Steele. 

BoswELL, James. Life of Dr. Johnson. 

CiBBER, CoLLEY. Apology for his Life. 

CoLMAN, George, the Younger. Random Recollections. 

Cross, Wilbur L. The Life and Times of Laurence Sterne. 

Cumberland, Richard, Memoir. 

' These titles are for the most part among those listed in the 
Bibliography of Boynton's London in English Literature. That work 
offers also a wealth of suggestipn as to fiction and drama illustrating 
the period. 


D'Arblay, Madame. Diary and Letters. 
DoBsoN, Austin. 

William Hogarth. 

Life of Horace Walpole. 
Fitzgerald, Percy Hetherington. Life of David Garrick. 
Macaulay, Thomas Babington. 

Essay on Addison. 

Essay on Madame D'Arblay. 

Essay on Johnson. 

Essay on Goldsmith. 

Essay on Walpole. 
Paston, George. 

Mr. Pope; his Life and Times. 

Lady Mary Worthy Montagu and Her Times. 
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley. Verses to the memory of 
Garrick. Spoken as a monody at the Theatre Royal in 
Walpole Horace. Lettei-s. 

(B) Social History 

Be s ant, Walter. London in the Eighteenth Century. 

BouLTON, W. B. Amusements of Old London. 

BoYNTON, Percy E. London in English Literature. (Chapa. 
V and VI.) 

Brereton, Austin. The Literary History of the Adelphi. 

Chesterfield, Lord. Letters written to his Son. 

DoBSON, Austin. Eighteenth Century Vignettes. 

Green, John Richard. A Short History of the English 
People. (Chap, x.) 

HooLE, Samuel. Modem Manners. 

Mead, William Edward. The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth 

Paston, George. Sidelights on the Georgian Period. 

Pearson, Norman. Society Sketches in the Eighteenth Cen- 

Thackeray, William Makepeace. 
English Humorists. 
The Four Georges. 

Tinker, Chauncey Brewster. The Salon and English 

Wroth, Warwick. London Pleasure Gardens of the Eight' 
eenth Century. 


(C) Contemporary Description and Satire 

Addison and Steele. The Spectator. 
Gay, John. 


Eclogues (Toilette, Tea-Table, Funeral). "' 
Goldsmith, Oliver. The Citizen of the World. 
Johnson, Samuel. London. 

Paston, George (Editor.) Social Caricature in the Eight- 
eenth Century. (Hogarth, Rowlandson, and others.) 
Pope, Alexander. 

The Rape of the Lock. 

A Farewell to London. 

Moral Essays (u) "Character of Women." , 
Swift, Jonathan. -^ 

The Furniture of a Woman's Mind. 

The Journal of a Modern Lady. 
TiCKELL, Thomas. Kensington Gardens. 

IV. The Town and Country Magazine. 

It is perennially true that current magazines reflect with per- 
fect accuracy the fashions, tastes, and interests of a period. In 
Sheridan's day, probably no periodical made a stronger appeal 
to the sort of men and women who are portrayed in The School 
for Scandal than The Town and Country Magazine. 

In the "Address of the Proprietors to their Readers" printed 
in the issue for January, 1777, are these flavorous paragraphs. 
We may reasonably suspect the sincerity of certain claims: — 

"It is the peculiar Misfortune of all periodical Works to 
labour under Censures from various Causes. Trifling or igno- 
rant Correspondents are chagrined at not finding their Produc- 
tions inserted; Individuals think themselves hurt by Anecdotes 
that amuse the Generality of Readers; and Rivals endeavour, 
through interested Motives, to depreciate a Work which they 
cannot equal. Hence a deal of Scurrility is poured upon the 
Editors, who, with the strictest Impartiality, aim at supporting 
the Magazine at once with a becoming Spirit, and at the same 
Time with a rigid Eye to the Preservation of private Charac- 
ters. ... 

" Happy in the Approbation of the Learned and Ingenious, 
who peculiarly distinguish this Magazine with their Correspond- 
ence, the Editors think themselves perfectly secured from the 
pointless Shafts of Pseudo-Critics and envious Imitators." 

The following announcements from its issue for May, 1777, 
will acquaint the student with the general nature of the maga- 
zine's contents, as well as with the manner in which its editors 
faced their would-be contributors. 



o r 





For MAY, 1777. 

Ornamented and embellished with 1. A striking Likeness of the 

Amorous Justice. 2. A beautiful Portrait of Mrs. L m; 

and 3. An Elegant Engraving of The Repentent Father. 

Containing, amongst a great Variety of original, interesting, and 
amusing Articles, 

1. Extract from Mr. Forster's Voy- 

2. Extract from Capt. Cook's Ac- 
count of the Voyage 

3. The Debates at the East-India- 

4. Answers to Mathematical Ques- 

5. New ones proposed 

6. Histories of the T^te-^-Tfite an- 
nexed: or, Memoirs of the Amor- 
ous Justir>e and Mrs. L m. 

(No. 14, 15.) 

7. Debates in the political Club- 
Rooms, continued 

8. His Majesty's Message 

9. Subject cf Mr. Wilkes's Speech 

10. The Budget 

11. New Taxes 

12. The present State of America, 

13. Patagonia described 

14. Description of Brazil 

15. Natural Productions of Brazil 

16. Essays on several Subjects 

17. Comic Pieces of various Kinds 

18. The Medley: or, striking Pas- 
sages of various Kindg. No. 1 

19. Select Observations of celebrated 

20. Thoughts on Ambition 

2 1 . Select Passages relating to the late 
Earl of Chesterfield 

22. Anecdotes relative to Lord 

23. Some Account of the famous Dr. 

24. The Repentant Father. A moral 

25. The disappointed Merchant 

26. The obstinate Parent 

27. Rise and Progress of the War in 

28. Meeting of the Congress at Phila- 

29. First public Act of Congress 

30. The Theatre. No. 83 

31. Mr. Colman's Proceedings in the 

32. The Observer. No. 42 

33. Account of new Books and 

34. Poetry. Lines on hearing the 
Cuckoo in April — Pastoral 
Elegy — On Nadrid, the Seat of 
Dr. Grey, near Cork — To Dr. 
P d— To Content — Pro- 
logue to the Comedy of Know 
your own Mind — Epilogue to 
the same — 

35. Foreign Occurrences 

36. State of Europe 

37. Domestic Intelligence 

38. American News 

39. Births 

40. Marriages 

41. Deaths 

42. Bankrupts 

LONDON, Printed for A. HAMILTON, Jun. near St. John's Gate: 

Where Letters to the Authors are received. And sold by 

G. Robinson, at No. 25, in Pater-noster-Row; and all other 

Booksellers in Great Britain and Ireland. 




The Author of the Address to Miss C 1 r k, desiring us to assign 
a Reason, in Case he does not find Admittance, we shall present our 
Readers with a Stanza from this curious Poem, in Defence of our 
Opinion, that it has not sufficient Merit for Insertion. 

Leave the City heast away 
Now it 's pleasing Month of May 
Ev'ry Plant and ev'ry Flower 
Smile beneath the friendly Shower 

Oh! the charming Month of May 
Sweetest, dearest Month of May 
Budding Trees 
Filling Peas, 
Ev'ry thing seems glad and gay. 

Edgar is much too imperfect for Insertion. 

Leander's Address to Miss B n, may arise from the Heart; but 

the head seems but little concerned in it. 

Dr. Cook's last Favour is come to Hand, but from the great Length 
of temporary Matters, it must be deferred. 

'Squire Morgan has mistaken his Talent. 

L. M. to Miss P L y may amuse the Lady by his poetical 

Genius, but we do not think our Readers would be much amused 
with it. 

Honestus does not arrive at Mediocrity in Poetry. 

The Account of the new Comedy of The School for Scandal came 
too late. 

An impartial Comparison between the Conduct of Dr. D and 

Mr. D m does not come within our Plan. 

The Tite-d,-Tite from Queen-square has already been inserted. 

The Letter from Paris requires being authenticated. 

The private History of a certain Lady would be considered as invidi- 
ous at this period. 

A Country Gentleman's Opinion of the present State of Affairs, is 
rather out of Date. 

The Animadversions on the Conduct of the King of Prussia, are not 

Liberty Hall, a Poem, is a Plagiarism under another Title. 

A Letter from Queen Anne-Street is upon too indelicate a Subject 
for admission. 

Mentor in the Shades has some Merit; but we think it has appeared 
before in Print. 

Under Consideration. Letters signed, A Patriot. — Un Avanturier. 
— Verax. — Leonora. — Dramaticus. — The splendid Shilling. — 
Amintor. — Ambulator. — A. S. B. — Reason. — A Bit of a Phi- 
losopher. — A Friend to Merit. — L. A. D. W. and several with- 
out Signatures.