Skip to main content

Full text of "Sheridan's Comedies: The Rivals and The School for Scandal"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



I7'/M. i-b 13. U 

1 r 1 1 H 

I r. 







x^. -^ 


















Copyright, 1884, 
By James R. Osgood and Company 

Ml Rights Reserved, 






Irs lEnscribcIi 





1. Richard Brinsley Sheridan . . . , Frontispiece 

Etched by M. Richeton, from a portrait by John Russell, R. A. 

2. Vignette drawn by R. Brennan 12 

3. Fac-simile of Autograph Letter of Richard Brinsley 

Sheridan Face page 56 

4. Vignette drawn by R. Brennan 62 

5. Mr. Joseph Jefferson as Bob Acres .... Face page 62 

Drawn by R. Blum, from a photograph by Sarony. Engraved by the Photo- 
Electro Company. 

6. Mrs. John Drew as ATrs. Malaprop .... Face page 148 

Drawn by R. Blum, from a photograph by Sarony. Engraved by the Photo- 
Electro Company. 

7. Mr. John Brougham as Sir Lucius 0'7'rigger, Face page 174 

Drawn from life by C. S. Rcinhart. Engraved by E. Hcincmann. 

8. Vignette drawn by G. R. Halm 188 

9. Mr. John Gilbert as Sir Peter Teazle . . . Face page 212 

Drawn from life by E. A. Abbey. Engraved by J. H. E. Whitney. 

10. Mr. Charles Coghlan as Charles Surface . . Face page 258 

Drawn from life by E. A. Abbey. Engraved by J. P. Davis. 






The Family Pictures Face page 

Frontispiece to the original edition of the ' School for Scandal.* DuUin : 
1785. Reproduced by the Lewis Engraving Company. 

iMiss Ellen Terry as Lady Teazle 
Mr. H 

}. . Face pagt 

enry Irving as Joseph Surface 

Drawn from life by Fred. Barnard. Engraved by the Photo-Engraving 



13. Mrs. G. H. Gilbert as Mrs, Candour .... Face page 296 

Drawn from life by E. A. Abbey. Engraved by Miss C. A. Powell. 

[The editor desires to thank tlic Century Company for the loan of tlie emblematic vignettes by 
R. Bkknnan and G. R. Halm, pp. 12, 62, and iSS.j 



-*-^ orator, and wit, was born at No. 12 Dorset Street, Dublin, 
Ireland, in September, 1751. He died in Saville Row, London, 
England, July 7, 18 16, and was buried in the Poet's Corner of West- 
minster Abbey. 

" Most men," says Saint Beuve, " have not read those whom they 
judge ; they have a ready-made opinion got by word of mouth, one 
scarcely knows how." No one has suffered more from these off-hand 
judgments than Richard Brinsley Sheridan. A ready-made opinion 
of a man who found so many and such various means of expressing 
himself, an opinion got by word of mouth, one hardly knows how, 
can scarcely be other than unjust. The case against Sheridan, as a 
man of letters, may be briefly stated. It is substantially, that he 
stole the characters and the plots of his plays, that he pilfered the 
points of his speeches, and that he prepared his jokes in advance, 
appropriating to his own use any jest he found ready to his hand. 
The counsel for the prosecution got access to an English review a 
few years ago, and declared with forensic emphasis that Sheridan 
was "a plodding and heavy Beaumarchais, with all the tricks, but 
without the genuine brightness and originality of the Frenchman." 



When one reads a solemn statement like this, the question forms 
itself of its own accord : Was he really plodding and heavy and 
without brightness ? Had he no originality of his own ? Was he a 
wit, or had he none ? To a question put thus bluntly the answer is 
easy. Sheridan ivas a wit ; and he was but little else. As far a^ 
mere wit could carry him, Sheridan went, and but little further, H^ 
had wit raised to the zenith, and he could bend it to his bidding. I ^ 
his early youth poetry of the Pope period was in fashion ; Sherida 
set his wits to work and brought forth Papal verse, quite as infallibl 
as any made in his time. A little later he saw that through the stag 
door lay the shortest way to fame and fortune ; and he wrote play" 
brimful of a wit which even now, after the lapse of a century an 
more, is well nigh as fresh as when it was first penned. When i 
after years he went to Parliament and needs must be an orator, agai 
his wit was equal to the task, and he delivered orations which th 
great speakers, in that time of great speakers, declared to be unsu 
passed. Had any other call been made on his wits, they would have 
done their best, and their best would have been good indeed. What 
ever he produced, poem, or play, or speech, was but the chameleo 
expression of his wit. If in intellectual quality any of his work wa9> 
thin, in (juantity it was full beyond all cavil. No one ever more truly 
— to use the phrase with no invidious intent — no one ever more 
truly lived on his wits than Sheridan, not even the arch wit, M. de 
Voltaire, or the Caron de Beaumarchais to whom the stolid British 
reviewer deemed him inferior. 


Richard Brinslcy Sheridan was the son of Thomas and Frances 
Sheridan, and the grandson of Dr. Sheridan, the friend and corre- 
spondent of Swift. Thomas Sheridan was a teacher of elocution, a 


player, a manager, a lexicographer, and altogether an odd eharacter. 
He thought himself a greater actor than David Garrick, and the 
author of a better dictionary than Samuel Johnson's. He seems 
to have had no great love for Richard Brinsley, and to have 
given him little care. Frances Sheridan was a woman of singular 
gifts and singular charm. Garrick and Johnson liked her, although 
they did not like her husband ; and they appreciated her remarkable 
literary merits. Garrick brought out and acted in the * Discovery,' 
a comedy of her's ; and Dr. Johnson praised her novel, the * Memoirs 
of Miss Sidney Biddulph,* saying he knew not if she had a right, 
on moral principles, to make her readers suffer so much. It can 
scarcely be doubted that her influence upon her son's character 
would have been highly beneficial, but unfortunately he was not 
always with her, and she died in 1766, when he was only fifteen 
years old. The absence of parental care left a fatal impress on his 
character, and it is to his unregulated youth that we may ascribe 
most of the wanderings, the mis-steps, and the mishaps of his 

When Sheridan was seven years of age he was placed at school 
with Mr. Thomas Whyte, who was afterward the teacher of Sheri- 
dan's biographer, Moore. Here he was considered a dunce. The 
next year, in 1759, they removed to England ; and in 1762 Richard 
Brinsley was sent to Harrow, where he remained for about three 
years, unwillingly picking up such crumbs of learning as might 
suffice to sustain life. He was popular with his school-fellows, and 
his teachers believed in his ability despite his deficient scholarship. 
He showed already the indolence which was always one of his most 
marked characteristics, and which he possessed in conjunction, 
curiously enough, with an extraordinary power of application when- 
ever he was aroused by an adequate motive. He seems to have 


acquired some understanding of Latin and Greek. He formed many 
friendships at Harrow. The chief partner of his youthful sports 
and studies was Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, with whom he translated 
the seventh idyl of Theocritus and many of the minor poem^ 
credited to that " singer of the field and fold." 

In 1769 the elder Sheridan returned to London from France with""^ 

his favorite son, Charles ; and calling Richard to his side, he begai ^ 

to instruct both boys in English grammar and in oratory. ''The^M^ 
attended also the fencing and riding schools of Mr. Angelo," whc=^ 
has recorded the fretful dignity of Thomas Sheridan, and the genial — ^' 
ity and good humor of his younger son. In the middle of 1770 th< 
Sheridans moved to Bath, a hot-bed of fast and fashionable society, 
and about as unsuitable and unwholesome a place as could be imag 
incd for a young man of eighteen with Richard Brinsley Shcridan*i 
lack of training and want of prospects, lie kept up a lively corres-- -^' 
pondcnce with Halhed, who was then at Oxford. The friends wen 
ambitious and hopeful; and they determined to attempt literatun 
together, fondly dreaming that they might awake one morning am 
find themselves famous. They planned a play and a periodical 
paper; Halhed wrote most of the former, and Sheridan sketched^ 
out the only number of the latter which Aloore could discover. 
Then they attempted a metrical version of the love-epistles credited 
to the Greek sophist, Aristaenetus. It is to be noted that Le Sage 
also began his literary life by translating Aristxnetus. In Novem- 
ber, 1770, Halhed had done his share of this; it was not until 
December that Sheridan, in his usual dilatory way, set about his 
task, aided by a Greek dictionary. There is a French version (Poic- 
tiers, 1597), but Sheridan had not gone to France in 1764 with the 
family, and he knew little French, and came in time to hate the 
language. He took several months over his work, and though 


the completed manuscript was to have been given to the publisher 
in March, it was not received by him until May ; and it was only in 
August, 1 77 1, that there appeared for sale "The Love Epistles of 
Aristaenetus, Translated from the Greek into English metre." 

** Love refines 

The thoughts, and heart enlarges ; hath his seat 

In reason, and is judicious." — Milt. Par, Lo$t^ B. 8, 

"London: Printed for J. Wilkie, No. 71 St. PauKs Churchyard. MDCCLXXI." 

The quotation from Milton we may credit to Sheridan ; it is 
impudently humorous in the eyes of those who know how light and 
lively are some of the love-passages related by the Greek tale-teller. 
The translation was anonymous, and the preface was signed with the 
joint initials of the young poets, H. S. It is highly comic to 
read that one of the reviews fathered it on *' Mr. Johnson, author of 
the English Dictionary, etc." Moore and Sheridan's other biogra- 
phers agree in calling the translation a failure in that it met with no 
favor from the public. It may be that the authors made no money 
by it ; but it succeeded at least in getting itself into a second edition, 
which does not look exactly like flat failure. It has since been 
reprinted with Propertius, Petronius Arbiter, and Johannes Secun- 
dus, in a volume of Bohn's Classical Library. Halhed soon after 
went to India, where he wrote a volume of imitations of Martial, 
and began to be known as a distinguished Orientalist. Two original 
poems of Sheridan's were published in the Bath Chronicle during 
this year. One was a description of the principal beauties of Bath, 
called ' Clio's Protest ; or the Picture Varnished,* being an answer 
to some verses called the ' Bath Picture ; * and the second was a 
humorous description of the opening of the new Assembly Rooms, 
'An Epistle from Timothy Screw, to his brother Henry, Waiter at 


There was at Bath at this time a family of Linleys, all musicians 
of marked ability. The eldest daughter, Miss Elizabeth Linley, was 
as beautiful to see as to hear. She was between sixteen and seven- 
teen when Sheridan first met her. She was sought by many suitors, 
good and evil, young and old. Among them were Sheridan's elder 
brother Charles, Halhed, a Mr. Long, to whom her parents engaged 
her, and a Captain Mathews, who happened to have a wife already. 
Charles Sheridan gave up the struggle and wrote Miss Linley a 
letter of farewell. Halhed soon sailed for India. To Mr. Long she 
secretly represented that she could never be happy as his wife, and 
he magnanimously took on himself the blame of breaking off the 
match and appeased her parents by settling three thousand pounds 
on her. Captain Mathews was not as generous or as readily got rid 
of ; he persecuted her incessantly ; until at last she confided in Sheri- 
dan, who expostulated in vain with the married rake. To avoid him 
she resolved to take refuge in a convent in France : this was early 
in 1772. Sheridan offered to accompany her; and when they had 
reached France he persuaded her to marry him. After the idle 
ceremony he placed her in a convent at Lisle, where she fell sick, 
and where her father found her. 

It was known at Bath that Miss Linlev and Sheridan had dis- 
appeared together; one rumor had it that they had "set off on a 
matrimonial expedition to Scotland." The baffled Captain Mathews 
blustered boldly during Sheridan's absence, and even published an 
abusive advertisement. When Sheridan returned to England with 
Miss Linley and her father, he called Mathews out at once. The 
elder Angelo had instructed Sheridan in "the use of the small 
sword, and it was in consequence of the skill acquired under 
this tuition that he acquitted himself with so much address when 
opposed to the captain, whose reputation was well known in the 

circles of C^Lsiuoa zs 23. tTztarmt'Tt:: svifismsKx. " Ijesgscs^ 
tation. Captain llari&ew^ *e£!ri* zz irf* iecr i rcnrir-i i* w^ is ^ 
bully. At first he oad^ed rie iaiti . imf «iex x ■•xs f loigr: ie 
begged his lite aod vrxe az. ziigiit igntiitr^ LiicBSSirfij afrgr oie 
lied about the a£zir. At -a:*c tim^ -^-irrt az, bic irccai iiicc:: 
him, that he «as c*xisCrizaeI 11 zii^aZst^t S^sriixs t^ a seccoi 
meeting, at which Soerkia:i mi:s ^^2»^7 »:»i3ti«2si Az;^^^ =»Xes r?iiT 
Mathews had learned itr^z^ ^ Fnztzs 23d wls rccksaier^ tkt 
skilful ; and he reooGected " I>jck Sosriiia iis zrce-ZiiSra zhtn > 
shewing me a wound in his zedk. tiieriic in a Sjce sCLte, wric^ be lo^i 
rac he had received froen his aaia=r>Li5t jq tx jrrr^JzJi^ Plainly 
enoucch Mathews had the best ot tbe secood dsel, ^ihoc::;::: Sberv 
dan's courage was berood qoesrko, and be refnsed to be^ his life. 
After his recovery he was sent into ii»e countr%% where be remained 
until the spring of the next year, 1773- Ehiring all this time his 
father and Miss Linle^'s were determined to keep them aparL 
Moore tells us, that Sheridan contrived many stratagems "* for the 
purpose of exchanging a few words with her. and that be more than 
once disguised himself as a hackney-coachman, and drove her borne 
from the theatre," where she had been singing. At last Mr. Linley 
yielded, and they were married by Lcense, April 13, 1773, after a 
courtship as romantic in its \'icissitudes as 3fiss Lrdia Languish or 
Miss Blanche Amory could possibly wish. 

Mrs. Sheridan was perhaps the most gifted <rf a gifted family. 
Dr. Bumey refers to the Linleys "as a nest of singingbirds"; and 
Michael Kelly records that Mozart spoke in high terms of the 
talents of Mrs. Sheridan's brother. Her services were in good 
demand as a singer of oratorios, and might have been rewarded 
sufficiently to support the young couple in ease, if not in affluence. 
But Sheridan was not a man to live at his wife's apron-strings, or to 


grow fat on the money she earned. With manly pride he refused all 
offers, and declined even to allow her to fulfil the engagements made 
for her by her father before the marriage. This was honorable and 
high-minded, but it deprived them of a certain income. Dr. Johnson's 
praise might please Sheridan's heart, — if it was reported to him, — 
but it could not fill his stomach. With abundant belief in himself, 
Sheridan meant to make his own way in the world and to owe his 
support to his own hand. He had nothing, not even a serious 
education. He had been entered a student of the Middle Temple 
just before his marriage, but he had not pursued the law further. 
Without money, and without a profession, but with a full confidence 
in himself, and a hereditary connection with the theatre, it is no 
wonder that Sheridan determined to write for the stage. His father 
was an actor and a manager, and had written one play ; and his 
mother had written several. With these antecedents and the repu- 
tation of ability which he had already achieved somehow, he was 
asked by Harris, the manager of Covent Garden Theatre, to write a 


The time was most propitious for the appearance of a new comic 
author. The works of Wycherley, Vanbrugh, Farquhar, and Con- 
greve, were falling, or had already fallen, out of the list of acting 
plays. Evelina blushed at the dialop:ue of Congreve's ' Love for 
Love,' and was ashamed at the plot. Only Sheridan himself 
could make Vanbrugh's * Relapse ' presentable. Farquhar and 
Wycherley fared but little better, though the * Country Wife' of 
the latter, deodorized into something like decency by the skilful 
touch of Garrick, retained sufficient vitality to linger on the stage, 
under the name of the 'Country Girl,' until the end of the century. 


There were many symptoms of a rapid improvement in virtue and of 
an evolution in morals, and this helped to make the way straight 
before the feet of a new dramatist who could keep his eye on the 
signs of the times. The comedies of Congreve and Wycherley, Far- 
quhar and Vanbrugh, seem to have been written to show that the 
true road to happiness was to hate your neighbor and to love your 
neighbor's wife. Sydney Smith said that their morality was "that 
every witty man may transgress the seventh commandment, which 
was never meant for the protection of husbands who labor under 
the incapacity of making repartees." M. Taine, with all his French 
tolerance for wit, is disgusted with the indecency of the comic 
writers of the Restoration, and says, " We hold our nose and read 
on." These old-fashioned plays were beginning to be unpalatable 
to a new-fangled taste. The times were ripe for a new writer. 

Few of the dramatists of the day were formidable rivals. The 
one man who might have been a competitor to be feared, a fellow- 
Irishman — for, as Latin comedy was imitated from the Greek, and 
as French comedy was modelled upon the Italian, so English comedy 
has in great part been written by Irishmen — the author of 
the 'Good-natured Man,' Oliver Goldsmith, died in 1774. 'She 
Stoops to Conquer,* produced the year before, had scotched senti- 
mental comedy, an imported French fashion, which was slowly 
strangling the life out of the comic muse ; and although Sheridan, 
in the ' Rivals,' might choose to do obeisance to this passing fancy 
by the introduction of those two most tedious t^qtsoxis, Faulkland and 
Julia^ he was soon to repent him of his sins, an J in the ' School for 
Scandal' deal it a final and fatal blow. Cumberland, the sole survivor 
of the school, had but little life left in him after the appearance of the 
'Critic' ; and no life is now left in his plays, which have hardly seen 
the light of the lamps these fifty years. Better luck has attended 


the more worthy work of George Colman the elder, the author of 
the 'Jealous Wife,' and of David Garrick, the author probably of 
* High Life Below Stairs,' who had also collaborated in the * Clandes- 
tine Marriage * ; these three plays keep the stage to this day. But 
in 177s both Colman and Garrick had ceased to write for the thea- 
tre. The coarse, vigorous, hardy satires of Samuel Foote, and the 
namby-pamby tragedies and wishy-washy comedies — '* not transla- 
tions only, taken from the French *' — of Arthur Murphy, were alike 
beginning to pall upon playgoers. Among all these dramatists, 
and greater than any of them, appeared the author of the * Rivals.* 
Although written hastily at the request of Harris, the manager of 
Covcnt Garden Theatre, the * Rivals * was not wholly a new compo- 
sition ; it is rather an elaboration of earlier sketches and inchoate 
memorandums jotted down by Sheridan at various times after he was 
seventeen years old, when the hope of gaining independence by 
writing for the stage first flitted before his eyes. And this rework^ 
ing of accumulated old material was characteristic of Sheridaim 
throughout life, and in whatever department of literature he might 
venture himself. His poems, his plays, his jests, and his speeches 
abound in phrases and suggestions set down years before. Sheri* 
dan must needs have had aid from earlier work, since we find him 
telling his father-in-law, November 17, 1774, that he would have the 
comedy in rehearsal in a few days, and that he had not written a 
line of it two months before, " except a scene or two, which I believe 
you have seen in an odd act of a little farce/* Haste of composi- 
tion is shown in the inordinate bulk of the play, which was at least 
double the length of any acting comedy — so Sheridan tells us in 
the preface — when he put it into Harris's hands. ** I profited by 
his judgment and experience in the curtailing of it, till, I believe, his 
feeling for the vanity of a young author got the better of his desire 


for correctness, and be left many excrescences remaining because 
he had assisted in pruning so many more. Hence, though I was 
not uninformed that the acts were still too long, I flattered mj^self 
that, after the first tiial, I might with safer judgment proceed to 
remove what should appear to have been most dissatisfactory', " 

The * Rivals ' was first acted at Covent Garden Theatre on 
the evening of January- 17, I77S» and it was damned out of hand. 
It was repeated the next night, and then withdrawn for repairs, A 
change of front in the face of the enemy is always a risky experi- 
ment, but Sheridan operated it successfully. Lightened of the 
feebler scenes by condensation, and strengthened by the substitution 
of Clinch as Sir Litcius O' Trigger for Lee, who had acted the I'wirt 
very badly, the * Ri\*als ' was again offered to the public, and was 
acted fourteen or fifteen times before the season closed on June ist. 
On the tenth night a new prologue was spoken by Mrs. Bulkley, 
in which Sheridan made adroit use of the figures of Comedy and 
Tragedy, which stood on each side of the stage, and defended his 
use of broader comic effects than the partisans of sentimental 
comedy could tolerate. After the first few nij^hts, however, the 
' Rivals ' picked up and held its o)^^!. Its brisk and bristling action, 
its highly ingenious equivoque, its broadly limned and sharply con- 
trasted characters, its close sequence of highly comic situations — 
all these soon began to tell with the public, and the piece became 
one of the first favorites of the play-goer. 

As Goldsmith had shown his gratitude to Quick, who acted Tony 
Lumpkin to his satisfaction, by signing the ' Grumbler,* an adapta- 
tion of the 'Grondeur' of Brueys, acted for Quick*s benefit, so 
Sheridan, in gratitude to Clinch, who had bravely lent his aid to 
pluck the flower success from the nettle danger, wrote 'St. Patrick's 
Day ; or the Scheming Lieutenant,' a farce in two acts, produced for 


Clinch's benefit, May 2, 1775, and acted six times before the close of 
the season at the end of the month. * St. Patrick's Day ' is a lively 
enough little play, of no great consequence or merit, owing some- 
thing in the conduct of its plot and the comicality of its situations 
to Moliire, and containing only a few of the brilliant flashes of wit 
which we are wont to consider as Sheridan's especial property. 

Sheridan devoted the summer to the writing of a comic opera, the 
music for which was selected and composed by his father-in-law, Mr. 
Linley. "We owe to Gay," said Dr. Johnson, "the ballad-opera — a 
mode of comedy which at first was supposed to delight only by its 
novelty, but has now, by the experience of half a century, been so 
well accommodated to the disposition of a popular audience that it is 
likely to keep long possession of the stage." And of all ballad- 
operas. Gay's first was easily the foremost until this of Sheridan's ; 
the * Beggar's Opera ' had no real rival until the production of the 
* Duenna.' While, however, the * Beggar's Opera* owed part of its 
extraordinary vogue to its personal and political satire, the * Duenna ' 
had no political purport ; its only aim was to please, and in this it 
succeeded abundantly. Brought out originally at Covent Garden 
on November 21, 1775, it was performed seventy-five times during 
the ensuing season — an extraordinary number in those days — 
twelve more than the * Beggar's Opera' had achieved. In order to 
counteract this great success of the rival house, Garrick, then the 
manager of Drury Lane, as Moore tells us, " found it necessary to 
bring forward all the weight of his own best characters, and even 
had recourse to the expedient of playing off the mother against the 
son, by reviving Mrs. Frances Sheridan's comedy of the * Discovery,' 
and acting the principal part in it himself. In allusion to the 
increased fatigue which this competition with the * Duenna' brought 
upon Garrick, who was then entering on his sixtieth year, it was said 


by an actor of the day that ' the old woman would be the death of 
the old man.'*' The success of Sheridan's opera was not confined to 
one season ; it lasted nearly fifty years. 

The plot, suggested perhaps by an episode in the ' Country Wife * 
of Wycherley, or perhaps by the * Sicilien ' of Moli^re, and not owing 
very much to either source, lends itself to several amusing scenes of 
equivoke and cross-purpose. But the characters in the 'Duenna' 
have far less strength, as well as far less originality, than their 
brothers and sisters in the * Rivals,' in the * School for Scandal,' and 
in the 'Critic* There is no Sir Anthony Absolute ^ or Mrs. Malapropy 
no Sir Peter or Lady Teazle^ no Mr, Puff or Sir Fretful Plagiary ; 
there is for the most part nothing but half a dozen of the usual 
types — the young lover, the romantic girl, the jealous rival, the lively 
coquette, the arbitrary father, the intriguing old woman. Among all 
these, the character of the little Portuguese Jew, Isaac Mendozay 
stands out in bold relief as the only figure in the play really worthy 
of its illustrious authorship. He is knavish, and always overreaches 
himself; like Dickens's yi?^ Bagstock, who was "sly, devilish sly, 
sir," he is "a cunning dog, ain't 1} A sly little villain, eh ? . . . 
Roguish, you'll say, but keen, hey? — Devilish keen?" Did 
Dickens, who wrote a comic opera at the very beginning of his 
literary career, — did Dickens remember this passage, I wonder? 

Not only in the drawing of character, but also in dialogue, is the 
' Duenna ' inferior to Sheridan's better-known plays. In spite of all 
its brightness and lightness, it is impossible not to acknowledge that 
it does not contain his best work. It has few specimens of the 
recondite wit and quaint fancy which make the * School for Scandal ' 
so brilliant and unequalled a comedy. If Sheridan's wit, like quick- 
silver, is always glistening, perhaps at times, like mercury, it seems a 
little heavy. Now and again the dialogue vies in sparkle and point 


with the talk of its author's other plays, but not as often as might 
be wished. It seems hastier, at once less happy and less polished. 
One thing to be remarked about all of Sheridan's plays is that 
the dialogue is easy to speak. The son of an elocutionist and 
lecturer and himself an orator, Sheridan worked his words until 
they fell trippingly from the tongue. And the songs in the 'Duenna* 
have a quality not as common as might be thought ; they are all 
singable. The words of many songs and especially of many modern 
songs, are so loaded with harsh consonants and combinations of 
consonants, and with sounds which shut instead of opening the 
mouth, that they arc very difficult to sing. But the songs of the 
* Duenna/ like the songs of all true songsters — Moore, for instance, 
and Lover, and a few other poets who have sung their verses into 
being — arc as easy to sing as they are appropriate to music. And 
they san^G^ themselves at once into popularity. Moore refers to them 
fifty years after they were first heard in public as though they were 

tlicn known to all his readers. Here is one of Don Antonio's 

songs : — 

" I ne*er could any lustre see 
In eves that would not look on me: 
I ne'er saw nectar on a lip 
But where my own did hope to sip. 
Has the maid who seeks mv heart 
Cheeks of rose, untouched by art, 
I will own the color true. 
When yielding blushes aid their hue. 

** Is her hand so soft and pure? 
I must press it to be sure ; 
Nor can I be certain then 
Till it, grateful, press again. 
Must I with attentive eye 
Watch her heaving bosom sigh? 
I will do so when I see 
That heaving bosom sigh for me." 


From the correspondence between Sheridan and Linley, it is evi- 
dent that the symmetry and the success of the 'Duenna* was due 
largely to the high confidence the composer had in the author ; and 
to the perfect accord between them, Linley nowhere seeking to 
display himself, but only to second ShcriJau as best he might. In 
an opera the music should fit the words as the words fit the music, 
until they both seem to be the result of a single inspiration and to 
have only one body — just as the Aztecs, on first beholding the 
Spanish troopers, mistook horse and man for a single being. Sheridan 
had no voice ; he could not sing ; and he knew nothing about music. 
But he was a born dramatist, and he had a keen ear for what was 
likely to be most effective in a given situation ; and Linley was 
intelligent enough to take every hint, and to turn it to best advan- 
tage. Many years after the ' Duenna,' when Sheridan brought out his 
last play, ' Pizarro,' Michael Kelly, was required to compose the music 
it needed, for it was a sort of melodrama, in the early sense of the 
word as well as the later : and in his reminiscences Kelly records the 
conversation he had with Sheridan in regard to it. " My aim was to 
discover the situations of the different choruses and the marches, 
and Mr. Sheridan's ideas on the subject ; and he gave them in the 
following manner : ' In the Temple of the Sun,' said he, ' I want the 
Virgins of the Sun and their High-Priest to chant a solemn invoca- 
tion to their Deity.* I sang two or three bars of music to him, 
which I thought corresponded with what he wished, and marked 
them down. He then made a sort of rumbling noise with his voice 
(for he had not the smallest idea of turning a tune), resembling a 
deep, gruff, bow, wow, wow ; but though there was not the slightest 
resemblance of an air in the noise he made, yet so clear were his 
ideas of effect that I perfectly understood his meaning, though 
conveyed through the medium of a bow, wow, wow." A story not 


unlike this is told of Victor Hugo, who is equally unmusical and who 
outlined or hinted at the kind of tune he needed for a song in one 
of his pliys. 

'I'he 'Rivals/ 'St. Patrick's Day,' and the 'Duenna/ — a comedy 
in five acts, a farce in two acts, and a comic opera in three acts, — 
were all produced in the year 1775 at Covent Garden Theatre. 
IJcforc the run of the ' Duenna ' was ended, Sheridan was in negotia- 
tion with (iarrick for the purchase, in conjunction with Linlcy and 
\)x. l*'ord, of the great actor's half of Drury Lane Theatre. Although 
(larrick and Thomas Sheridan were rival actors and never exactly 
hit it off to^^cther, the former always had a cordial esteem for 
MrH. .Sheridan, and he was prepared to carry this over to her 
son. So when he made up his mind to give up acting and to 
abandon !nana;;cincnt, he was ready to think well of Sheridan's offer 
to buy him out. C'olman, to whom the management was first offered, 
would purchase solely on condition that he could buy the whole; 
(larrick was only half owner, and young Lacey, who had the other 
half, refused to sell. While Garrick was giving his farewell perform- 
ances, the ne|;otiations with Sheridan were pending. The great 
actor — probably the f^reatest who ever trod the stage — spoke his 
last speech and made his last exit on June 10, 1776; and on June 
24, so Davies tells us, he signed the contract of sale to Sheridan, 
1 Juicy and I'ord. By twenty-eight years of good management the 
value of Drury Lane Theatre had been trebled, and the selling price 
was fixed at ^70,000, or ^£35,000 for Garrick's half. Sheridan and 
Linley were to fmd ;£'io,ooo each, and their friend Dr. Ford was to 
supj)ly the remaining ; Where Sheridan raised the money 
for his share has been one of the mighty mysteries of theatrical 
history. There is a general belief that he borrowed it — but from 
whom ? Watkins, his first biographer, mentions a mortgage to Dr. 


Ford, and suggests that Garrick stood behind Ford. Moore, his 
second biographer, disbelieves in and discredits any loan from either 
Ford or Garrick. 

So far as I know, nobody has yet cited the evidence of Sydney 
Smith, who said that Creepy told him that once when dining with 
Sheridan, after the ladies had departed, Sheridan drew his chair to 
the fire and confided to Creevy that they had just had a fortune left 
to them. •' Mrs. Sheridan and I," said he, " have made the solemn 
vow to each other to mention it to no one, and nothing induces me 
now to confide it to you but the absolute conviction that Mrs. 
Sheridan is at this moment confiding it to Mrs. Creevy upstairs." 
Now, this may be nothing more than the exaggeration of a humorist 
reported with exaggeration by another humorist. And then, again, 
it may be true; it is not at all impossible, or even improbable, that a 
fortune had been left suddenly and unexpectedly to Sheridan, or, 
more likely, to his wife ; but I have been able to find no other 
reference to this wealth from the skies ; and I fear the story is not 
to be taken seriously. The wonder as to where Sheridan got the 
money to pay for one-seventh of Drury Lane Theatre is augmented 
and completed by wonder as to how two years or so later he got 
money to buy out Lacey's half of the theatre. What was a wonder to 
Sheridan's contemporaries, has been also a wonder to all his biogra- 
phers. His later critics make no attempt whatever to find an answer 
to the enigma. 

It is with great diffidence therefore that I venture to express a 
belief, that I have plucked out the heart of the mystery : it must be 
admitted, I think, that I have at least made out a plausible case. 
Here, then, is my explanation : Of the original ;£3S,ooo paid Garrick, 
Sheridan was to find ;;^io,ooo. Dr. Watkins asserts that he raised 
^8,700 of this ;£io,000 by two mortgages, one of ;£ 1,000 to a Mr. 


Wallis, and another of £7,700 to Dr. Ford. If we accept this asser- 
tion, — and I can see no reason why we should not, — all that Sheridan 
had to make up was ;£ 1,300, a sum he could easily compass after the 
success of the ' Rivals * and the ' Duenna,' even supposing that he did 
not encroach on, or had already exhausted, the j£^3,ooo settled on his 
wife by Mr. Long. Before the end of 1776, dissensions arose between 
Sheridan, Linley and Ford, on one side, and Lacey on the other, 
in the course of which Lacey sought to sell part of his half to two 
friends. But these, dissensions were ended in 1778 by Sheridan's pur- 
chase of Lacey's half. A note in Sheridan's handwriting, quoted by 
Moore, says that Lacey was paid " a price exceeding £43,000" — 
which would go to show that the total value of the property had risen 
in two years from ^'70,000 to ;£ 90,000. Most writers on the subject 
have taken this note of Sheridan's to mean that he paid at least 
;t45,ooo in cash, and they have all exhausted their efforts in guessing 
where he got the money. But if wc compare Moore's statement with 
Watkins's, we get nearer a solution of the difficulty. Watkins says 
that Lacey's share was already mortgaged for ;£3 1,500, and that 
Sheridan assumed this mortgage, and agreed further to pay in re- 
turn for the equity of redemption, two annuities of ;£500 each. This 
double obligation, (the mortgage for ^31,500 and the annuities) rep- 
resents "a price exceeding ;£45,ooo;" but it did not call for the 
expenditure of a single penny in cash. On the contrary the purchase 
of Lacey's lialf of the theatre, actually put money into Sheridan's 
pocket, for he at once divided his original one-seventh between Linley 
and Dr. Ford, making each of their shares up to one-fourth ; and even 
if they paid him no increase on the original price, he would have been 
enabled to pay off the ;£8,70D mortgages to Dr. Ford, and to Mr. 
Wallis, and to get back the ;£ 1,300 which he seems to have advanced 
himself. In fact, it appears that Sheridan invested only ;£ 1,300 in 


cash when he bought one-seventh of Drury Lane Theatre, in 1776, and 
that he received this back when he became possessed of one-half of 
Drury Lane Theatre, in 1778, then valued at £,0/0,000. Sheridan 
afterward bought Dr. Ford's one-fourth for £,17^^00 \ and Moore 
found among Sheridan's papers, letters of remonstrance from Dr. 
Ford's son, indicating that this debt had not been paid promptly. 

Richard Brinsley Sheridan succeeded David Garrick as the man- 
ager of Drury Lane in the middle of 1776. A sharp contrast 
was at once visible between the care and frugality of the old 
management, and the reckless carelessness of the new. Garrick 
planned everything in advance with the utmost skill and forethought, 
and was never taken unawares. Sheridan trusted to luck and to 
prompt action on the spur of the moment. The elder Sheridan be- 
came acting manager, a post for which his somewhat doubtful temper 
more or less unfitted him. Garrick continued to advise with Sheri- 
dan, and probably helped him in the first important production of 
the new management, the revival with judicious omissions of Con- 
greve's 'Old Bachelor,' which had not been acted for sixteen years. 
The 'Rivals' originally performed at Covent Garden, was now 
brought out at the theatre of which its author was manager. Early 
in 1777, on February 24, Sheridan produced his first new play at his 
own house. This was 'A Trip to Scarborough,' and its chief fault 
was that it was neither new nor Sheridan's, being in fact a deodorized 
adaptation of Vanbrugh's 'Relapse.' As an incident in the * Country 
Wife' of Wycherley — whom Sheridan denied ever having read — 
may have suggested a chief scene of the ' Duenna,' and as more than 
one scene of the forthcoming ' School for Scandal,' was to recall Con- 
greve, it was only fair that Vanbrugh should have his turn. Oddly 
enough, Farquhar is the only one of the four foremost dramatists of 
the Restoration from whom Sheridan did not borrow directly, and it 


is Farquhar with whom he has the most intellectunl sympathy. 
Sir Walter Scott compares Sheridan with Vanbrugh, and Congfreve, 
and Lord Macaulay, classes together Congreve and Sheridan — and 
yet it is Farquhar whose influence over liim is greatest, and whom he 
imitated from afar, much as Thackeray imitated Fielding, and Dick- 
ens, Smollett. 

Vanbrugh's * Relapse * is hopelessly unfit for the modem stage. 
Moore wonders that Sheridan could have hoped to defecate the play 
and leave any of the wit. But Vanbrugh differs from Congreve. 
Of all attempts to deodorize Congreve, Sheridan said, " Impossible ! 
he is like a horse, — deprive him of his vice and you rob him of his 
vigor." The merit of Congrcve's comedy lies in the dialogue, while 
the merit of Vanbrugh's play lies rather in the situations; and a 
cleansing of the conversation of Vanburgh's play, although it scoured 
off many si)angles, still left the stuff strong enough for ordinary 
wear. And it is a fact that although in the beginning, the * Trip to 
Scarborougli ' was a great disappointment to those who had hoped 
much from the new manager's first play, it w:i3 not at all a failure, for 
it soon recovered its ground and held its own for years. Geneste 
accepts it as one of the very best adaptations of old comedy, and 
declares that "Sheridan has retained everything in the original that 
was worth retaining, has omitted what was exceptionable, and has 
improved it by what he has added." Much of its success was due, 
no doubt, to the skill with whicli it was fitted to the chief actors of 
the company, Lord Foppitigtou being played by Dodd, Miss Hoyden 
by Mrs. Abington, and Amanda by Mrs. Robinson, the beautiful 
Pcrdiiay whom Sheridan had coaxed back to the stage. 

Like Shakspere and like Moli^re, Sheridan was both author and 
manager, and like them he wrote parts to suit his players. Of this 
the * School for Scandal ' is a far better instance than the * Trip to 


Scarborough.' Made out of two earlier drafts of plays, condensed 
by infinite labor from a mass of inchoate material, toiled over inces- 
santly, polished and burnished until it shone again, the * School for 
Scandal' was at last announced before the whole play was in the 
hands of the actors — an incident repeated with the 'Critic,* and 
again with 'Pizarro.* At the end of the hurriedly-finished rough 
draft of the fifth act, Moore found a " curious specimen of doxology, 
written hastily, in the handwriting of the respective parties : " 

*^ Finished at last^ thank God! 

"R. B. Sheridan." 
" Amen ! 

"W. Hopkins" [the prompter]. 

The 'School for Scandal' was first performed May 8th, 1777, a 
little less than a year after the purchase from Garrick. The acting of 
the comedy was beyond all praise. Geneste remarks that ** no new 
performer has ever appeared in any one of the principal characters, 
that was not inferior to the person who acted it originally." The 
success of the comedy itself was instant, and it has been lasting. 
It is at once Sheridan's masterpiece, and the chief English comedy 
of the eighteenth century. So far at least, in the nineteenth century, 
it has had no equal. It was acted twenty times till the end of the 
season, and the next year sixty-five. It drew better houses than any 
other piece ; indeed, it killed all competition. Dr. Johnson recom- 
mended Sheridan for membership in The Club, as the author of the 
best modem comedy. Lord Byron, in like manner, called it the best 
comedy. Garrick's opinion of it was equally emphatic ; he was proud 
of the success of his successor both as author and manager; and 
when one of his many flatterers said that, though this piece was very 
good, still it was but one piece, and asked what would become of the 


theatre, now the Atlas that propped the stage had left his station, 
Garrick retorted quickly that, if that were the case, he had found 
another Hercules to succeed to the office. 

Cumberland was the only one dissatisfied. It is related that he 
took his children to see it, and when they screamed with delight 
their irritable father pinched them, exclaiming: "What are you laugh- 
ing at, my dear little folks } You should not laugh, my angels, there 
is nothing to laugh at;" adding in an undertone, "Keep still, you 
little dunces !** When this was reported to Sheridan, he said, "It 
was ungrateful of Cumberland to have been displeased with his chil- 
dren for laughing at my comedy, for, when I went to see his tragedy, 
I laughed from beginning to end." But even Cumberland, in his 
memoirs, when defending his own use of a screen in the 'West- 
Indian,' took occa.sion to praise the * School for Scandal.' "I could 
name one now living," said he, "who has made such a happy use of 
his screen in a comedy of the very first merit, that if Aristotle him- 
self had written a whole chapter professedly against screens, and 
Jerry Collier had edited it, with notes and illustrations, I would not 
have placed Lady Teazle out of car-shot to have saved their ears 
from the pillory." Sir Walter Scott found in the 'School for Scan- 
dal ' the gentlemanlike ease of Farquhar united to the wit of Con- 
greve. liazlitt held it to be "the most finished and faultless comedy 
we have." The verdict of the public did not change as Scott and 
liazlitt came to the front, and Garrick and Johnson slowly faded 
away; it did not change when Scott and liazlitt in their turn 
departed ; it has not changed since. A few years ago, an American 
critic of the highest culture and the widest experience, Mr. Henry 
James, referred to the Old Comedies only to declare that, "for real 
intellectual effort, the literary atmosphere and tone of society, there 
has long been nothing like the ' School for Scandal.' It has been 


played in every English-speaking quarter of the globe, and has 
helped English wit and taste to make a figure where they would 
otherwise, perhaps, have failed to excite observation." 

During the next season (on October 15, 1778), there was acted 
a temporary trifle called the *Camp,' often credited to Sheridan, and 
even rashly admitted into several editions of his works ; in reality it 
was written by Tickell, who had married Mrs. Sheridan's sister. On 
January 20, 1779, David Garrick died, and Sheridan was a chief 
mourner at the splendid funeral. And on March 2d, the monody 
which Sheridan wrote to Garrick's memory was recited at Drury 
Lane Theatre by Mrs. Yates, to the accompaniment of appropriate 
music. This monody is the longest of Sheridan's serious poetic pro- 
ductions, and it is the least interesting and the least satisfactory. 
He could write a song as well as any one ; and he could turn the 
sharp lines of satire ; but a sustained and elevated strain seems too 
high an effort for his nimble wit. It is written in "the straight- 
backed measure, with its stately stride," which, as Dr. Holmes 
reminds us, 

*' Gave the mighty voice of Dryden scope; 
It sheathed the steel-bright epigrams of Pope." 

Now, Sheridan had not a mighty voice ; and steel-bright epigrams 
would have been out of place over the grave of Garrick. There is a 
want of real feeling in these verses ; there is no d^pth in them, and 
little heart. There is cleverness, of course, and in plenty ; but even 
of this not as much as might have been expected. One looks in 
vain for some characterization of Garrick himself, or for some apt 
allusion to his chief parts, to his private character, to his writings, to 
his position as a man of the world and as a man of letters. Instead, 
we have cold and elaborate declamation on the transitory nature of 
the actor's art. This comparison of the histrionic with other arts, 


pictorial and plastic, had been made in verse by Garrick himself in 
the prologue to the * Clandestine Marriage * : 

*' The painter *% dead, vet still he charms the eye, 
While England lives his fame can never die; 
But he who struts his hour upon the stage 
Can scarce protract his fame through half an age; 
Nor (>en, nor pencil can the actor save; 
The art and artist have one common grave." 

It is this assertion of Garrick's and Sheridan's, it may be, that 
Campbell answered in his verses to Kemble : 

*' For ill can Poetry express 

Full many a tone of thought sublime; 
And Painting, mute and motionless, 

Steals but a glance of time. 
But by the mighty actor brought, 

Illusion's perfect triumphs come; 
Vei'^o reaves to be airy thought, 

Ami Sculpture to be dumb." 

Althouiih the ' Monoclv on Garrick' is somewhat labored, it does 
not lack fine lines. I '.specially good is Sheridan's use of a chance 
remark made by Burke at Garrick's funeral, that the statue of Shak- 
spere looked toward Garrick's grave. On this stray hint Sheridan 
hung this couplet : 

••Wliile Shak-^pcre's iniai^c, from its hallowed base, 
Seemed to prescribe tlie jLjrave, and point the place." 

After the death of Garrick, Sheridan made only one important 
contribution to dramatic literature, the farce of the 'Critic; or a 
Tragedy Rehearsed,' produced October 30, 1779. It shows great 
versatility of wit in a diamatist to have written three plays strong 
enough to last a hundred years and more, and as unlike one another 
as the * Rivals,' the * School for Scandal,' and the 'Critic* As 
different from its two predecessors as they arc from each other, the 


* Critic ' is frankly a farce ; it has something of the breadth of the 

• Rivals,' and not a little of the point of the * School for Scandal ' ; 
it sets the model of high-class farce ; and as a farce it has but two 
rivals in our drama — one, the * Katherine and Petruchio,' which 
David Garrick made out of Shakspere's * Taming of the Shrew,* 
and the other, ' High Life Below Stairs ' (probably Garrick's own 
handiwork, although problematically ascribed to a Rev. James 
Townley). It is idle to deny the indebtedness of the * Critic ' 
to the ' Rehearsal ' of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham ; it 
is, however, charitable to believe that those who have gone so 
far as to call the * Critic ' a mere adaptation of the * Rehearsal,* 
have never read Buckingham's piece or seen Sheridan's. The one 
obvious resemblance between the two farces is in the rehearsal 
of a play, directed by its author, who interrupts with comment 
and suggestion. But this is a commonplace of the stage ; it has 
been used and abused. time and again both before and since Buck- 
ingham and Sheridan. The real similarity is in the signal success 
of the * Rehearsal ' and of the * Critic,' casting into the shade all 
other plays on the same subject ; and the real grievance of Buck- 
ingham is that the ' Critic ' supplanted the * Rehearsal ' in popular 
favor. Buckingham's farce, originally acted in 1672, was in the main 
a personal attack on Dryden, satirized in the character of Bayes^ the 
whimsical poet. Garrick had given the play a new lease of life by 
the use he made of Bayes to give imitations of the more prominent 
of his fellow-actors ; but Garrick's successor as manager of Drury 
Lane killed the old farce with his new one ; and Mr, Puff nailed the 
centenarian Bayes in his coffin at last. 

The idea of writing a comic play about a rehearsal was not new to 
Sheridan. Moore quotes from his first attempt a mythological bur- 
lesque on the celestial intrigues of Lxion, written in imitation of the 


burletta of * Midas.' It is a little curious to note that this same sub- 
ject was afterward treated in an early novelette, * Ixion in Heaven/ by 
Benjamin Disraeli, the only man in the history of England whose 
career can fairly be compared with Sheridan's. This 'Jupiter* was 
sketched out by Sheridan in collaboration with Halhed in 1770, about 
the time they were at work on their joint version of Aristaenetus. 
The burlesque itself, a rather clever mingling of the Ixion-Juno 
legend with the Jupitcr-Alcmena intrigue, seems to have been Hal- 
hed's work, while the rehearsal scenes in which it was set arc 
Sheridan's. The MS. is now in the British Museum, and the cata- 
logue credits it to Sheridan, despite Moore's disclaimer. After an 
examination of this MS. I can say that the 'Critic* owes very little 
to its elder l^rother ; whatever has been carried over from one play 
into the other is <;rcally benefitted by the journey. For example, 
the drama to l)c rehearsed in ' Ixion,' being in itself avowedly comic, 
docs not afford a tithe of the opportunity of jocular comment and 
satiric remark offered by tlie more serious tragedy rehearsed in the 
* Critic' 

The success of the 'Critic' was indisputable. We have not the 
contemporary tril)iitcs to the representation of the * Critic' which we 
have to the marvellously fine jierformance of the * School for Scandal,* 
but doul)tlcss tlic manai;er's play was as well acted in the one case as 
in the other. The com})any of Drury Lane was very nearly the same 
in October, 1779, as it was in May, 1777, and many of the same 
names are to be seen in the cast of l)oth pieces. When Mr, Puff in 
the first act rcjX'ats an imai^inary tlieatrical criticism of his \.o Dangle 
and Snti'7'y the actor be^q;ins by praising his two fellow-players then 
on the sta;re with him, and ends bv a humorouslv extravagant eulo}2:v 
on himself. " Mr. Dodd," says Mr, Puff, '' was astonishingly great 
in the character of Sir Harry, That universal and judicious actor, 


Mr. Palmer, perhaps never appeared to more advantage than in the 
Colonel, But it is not in the power of language to do justice to Mr. 
King; indeed, he more than merited those repeated bursts of ap- 
plause which he drew from a most brilliant and judicious audience." 
Mr. Puff was of course King himself : he had filled the important 
part of Sir Peter Teazle in the * School for Scandal.' Dodd, who 
had been Sir Benjamin Backbite , was now Dangle y and Palmer was 
Snecr^ after having played Joseph Sinface to the satisfaction even of 
the fastidious author. Parsons, once Crabtree^ now took the wholly 
dissimilar part of Sir Fretful Plagiary, In later days Charles 
Mathews doubled the parts of Mr, Puff Tva^ Sir Fretful, and was 
followed in the attempt by his son, the late Charles James Mathews, 
an actor who had just the alert brilliancy needed to keep alive and 
lively the accumulating humors of the rehearsal scenes. 

The * Critic ' was the fifth and last play of its author. It had been 
preceded by the ' Rivals,' * St. Patrick's Day,* the * Duenna,' and the 
'School for Scandal ;' and with these it constitutes Sheridan's title to 
fame as a dramatist. Afterward he put his name to * Pizarro,' and 
the public chose to attach it to the * Camp,' to the ' Stranger,* to 
'Robinson Crusoe,' and to the * Forty Thieves.' But he was not the 
author of any one of these in the same sense that he was the author 
of the 'Critic' and of its predecessors, or, indeed, in any strict sense 
of the word whatever. 'Pizarro 'was avowedly an adaptation from 
the German of Kotzebue ; as Sheridan knew no German, his share of 
the work at best was but the altering of the ready-made translation, 
and the strengthening of Rollas part by the addition of patriotic 
harangues taken from Sheridan's own political speeches. It is to 
be noted, however, that * Pizarro ' was perhaps the most profitable 
play produced during Sheridan's management of Drury Lane. It 
was first acted May 24, 1799; it was performed thirty-one times in 


less than six weeks ; it took the King to the theatre for the first time 
in years ; nineteen editions of a thousand copies each were sold in 
rapid succession ; and Sheridan got two thousand guineas for the 
copyright. The * Camp,* although printed among his works, was not 
his, as we have seen. Sheridan's share in the ' Stranger * was hut 
little more than a very careful shaping of the somewhat redundant 
and exuberant prose of the translator, Benjamin Thompson, to the 
exigencies of the stage. His contributions to the spectacular and 
very successful * Forty Thieves,* and to the pantomime of * Robinson 
Crusoe,' were confined to a hasty sketch of the plot ; as manager of 
the theatre he knew what he wanted, and he drafted his suggestions 
on paper, leaving to other hands the drudgery Qf elaboration. 

Thus, the * Critic ' remains really Sheridan's latest contribution to 
the stage. While retaining his vast pecuniary interest in Drury 
Lane Theatre and keeping up an active interest in the drama, he 
longed for a larger stage on which to show his brilliant abilities in the 
eyes of all his countrymen. He was not desirous of wholly giving up 
literature for politics. He intended, rather — like Canning in the 
next generation and Disraeli in ours — to use literature as a stepping- 
stone to politics, and as a support after he had taken the decisive 
step. His time soon came. His * Critic' was brought out near the 
end of October, 1779, ^^^^ before the end of October, 1780, Richard 
Brinsley Sheridan, as one of the members for Stafford, had taken his 
scat in Parliament bv the side of his friends Charles Fox and Edmund 

Before leaving Sheridan the dramatist, to consider briefly the 
career of Sheridan the politician, mention must be made of projected 
and unfinished dramas he left behind him. In 1768, when he was 
only seventeen, he planned a play out of the 'Vicar of Wakefield.' 
Among his papers Moore found the rough draft of three acts of 


a musical drama, wild in subject and apparently satiric in intent, 
and he quotes several pages of it, including one song which was 
suggested by a sonnet o£ Sir Philip Sidney's ; the general scheme 
seems to be borrowed from the 'Goblins' of Sir John Suckling. 
Later than this unfinished opera-book, and apparently evolved from 
it with much modification, was a play called the 'Foresters.' Moore 
could find only crude fragments of this piece, yet the Octogenarian 
who has since written Sheridan's life, asserts that at least two acts 
were wholly completed, having been read both to him and by him. 
This later biographer it is who fixes the date of this piece as just 
after his second marriage, 1795. Most to be regretted, however, is 
the comedy of 'Affectation,' in the composition of which he had 
advanced no further than the jotting down of many memorandums. 
These stray notes do not preserve a single scene or any vestige of a 
plot; they record only a few embryos of character, and germs of 
jests and jokes. Affectation was a subject as fertile as Scandal, and 
as suitable to Sheridan's gifts ; he excelled in the art of setting up a 
profile figure and sending successive bullets through its heart. With 
a target like Affectation he could have been relied on, to ring the 
bell every time off-hand. Yet it may be questioned whether Sheri- 
dan, even under other circumstances, would ever have taken heart 
and given his mind to the finishing of this comedy. Moli^re used 
to turn aside compliments on his work with a "Wait until you 
see my 'Homme de Cour.'" So Sheridan used to say, "Wait till 
you see my 'Foresters.'" But we may well doubt whether he ever 
really intended to finish and polish and produce either the 'Fores- 
ters' or 'Affectation.' Like Rossini after 'William Tell,' Sheridan, 
after the * School for Scandal ' was content to quit work and to bask 
lazily in the sunshine of his reputation. As Scott said of Campbell, 
Sheridan was *' afraid of the shadow that his own fame cast before 


him." And Michael Kelly records that when he heard that Sheridan 
had told the Queen he had a new comedy in preparation, he, Kelly, 
took occasion to say to him, Sheridan, ** You will never write again ; 
you are afraid to write." 

Sheridan fixed his penetrating eye on Kelly and asked, "Of 
whom am I afraid } " 

And Kelly retorted quickly : 

** You are afraid of the author of the ' School for Scandal.' " 


When Sheridan entered the House of Commons in 1780, the 
chosen representative of the independent borough of Stafford, as Mr. 
Rae reminds us, ''William Pitt took his seat for the first time as the 
nominee of Sir James Lowther, for the pocket-borough of Appleby." 
Pitt's first speech was well received. Sheridan*s was not. It is 
easier for an unknown man to succeed in Parliament than a celeb- 
rity ; for the Mouse is jealous of all reputation got elsewhere. 
Addison kept silent; Steele was greeted with shouts of " Tatler," 
'' Tatler ; " lu-skine and Jeffrey and Mackintosh barely held their 
own in the House ; ]\Iacaulay and Lytton did little more ; Disraeli 
like Sheridan, failed at first, and at last became the favorite speaker 
of the Commons Sheridan's first speech was made November 20, 
1780, and he was heard with great attention. The impression he 
made was not favorable ; to Woodfall, who confessed this to him, 
he exclaimed vehemently, "It is in me, however, and by God, it 
shall come out ! " It will be remembered that Disraeli was ill 
received, and that he told the storm v House a time would come 
when they sliould hear him. 

Sheridan kept very quiet for a year or more, speaking little, and 
always precisely and to the point, with no attempt at display. After 


he had been in Parliament some sixteen months, Lord North's 
administration was turned out, and the change of ministry which 
gave peace and independence to these United States of America 
also gave his first seat in office to Sheridan, who was appointed one 
of the Under Secretaries of State. The ^ death of the Marquis of 
Rockingham broke up the new cabinet after a brief life of four 
months, and although he disapproved of the step, Sheridan loyally 
followed Fox in resigning. The unwise coalition of Fox with Lord 
North succeeded in driving Lord Shelburne out of office ; and in the 
new government, Sheridan was Secretary of the Treasury. But in 
December, 1783, the ministry fell, and Sheridan left office, not to 
return for nearly twenty years. In 1784, he was re-elected for Staf- 
ford, although the unpopularity of the Coalition was so great that no 
less than one hundred and sixty of its followers were defeated and 
left with only the barren consolation of calling themselves " Fox's 

In June, 1785, Burke gave notice that he would, at a future day, 
make a motion respecting the conduct of a gentleman just returning 
from India; and in 1786, he formally impeached Warren Hastings 
for high crimes and misdemeanors during his rule over hapless India. 
While it was Burke who, moved by the deepest moral revolt against 
wrong, inspired and animated the prosecution against Hastings, it 
was perhaps more due to Sheridan, who had been gaining steadily as 
an orator, than to Burke, that public opinion, at first favorable to 
the defendant, soon shifted against him. Sheridan was a popular 
speaker ; he spoke well and he was listened to with expectation and 
pleasure. Burke spoke ill ; and with so little effect that his oppo- 
nents thought it needless to answer some of the orations to which 
men now refer as storehouses of political wisdom. Any comparison 
of Sheridan's political understanding with Burke's is unkind to the 


dramatist, who was not a statesman by instinct or by training. But 
that Sheridan was a better speaker than Burke admits of little 
doubt. Burke bored his audience ; Sheridan charmed, captivated, 
converted. It may be that Burke's eloquence was too fine and too 
good for human creature's daily food. Sheridan's was not ; it was 
direct, clear, convincing. Burke had a depth and an elevation that 
Sheridan had not ; but Sheridan had the commonplace which is 
needed for popular consumption, and the common sense which Burke 
not infrequently lacked. It was noted that Burke's notes for the 
speeches against Hastings were dates, facts, figures ; and that Sheri- 
dan's were bits of ornamental rhetoric, illustrations, and witticisms. 
This is not to Sheridan's discredit ; each orator had set down what 
he most needed. Burke could rely on his exuberant imagination and 
his burning indignation to furnish him with figures of speech ; and 
Sheridan treasured up carefully prepared literary ornaments, sure 
of himself in any treatment of the facts which his clear mind had 
once fully mastered by dint of hard labor. 

It was on February 7, 1787, that Sheridan, following Burke, 
brought forward against Hastings the charge relative to the Prin- 
cesses of Oude, in the speech whose effect upon its hearers, Moore 
considers to have " no parallel in the annals of ancient or modern 
eloquence." Burke, enthusiastic for his cause, and generous in his 
praise, although already and always jealous of Sheridan, declared it 
to be ''the most astonishing effort of eloquence, argument, and wit 
united, of which there was any record or tradition.*' Fox said, " that 
all he had ever heard, all that he had ever read, when compared with 
it, dwindled into nothing, and vanished like vapor before the sun." 
And Pitt acknowledged, *' that it surpassed all the eloquence of an- 
cient and modern times, and possessed everything that genius or art 
could furnish to agitate and control the human mind." Immediately 


after the delivery of the speech, an adjournment of the House was 
moved, on the ground that Sheridan's speech had left such an impres- 
sion that it was impossible to arrive at a determinate opinion. Un- 
fortunately, no report of this speech exists. There is a wretched 
summary, with an attempt here and there to record a few of Sheri- 
dan's actual words, but the speech itself has not come down to us ; and 
it is unfair to attempt to judge it by the feeble and twisted fragments 
which remain. It was this speech which made Sheridan's fame as an 

The impeachment of Warren Hastings having been voted, Sheri- 
dan was appointed one of the managers of the trial before the House 
of Lords. On June 3, 1787, he began a speech of four days on the 
charge he had presented in the earlier oration. No harder test of 
a man's ability could well be devised, than the making of a second 
speech on a subject which had already called forth the utmost exer- 
tion of his powers. Hopeless of the success of a second attempt 
to hit the midday sun with the same arrow, Fox advised a revision 
and repetition of the first speech. Sheridan was not the man 
thus to confess feebleness and exhaustion. He girded himself for 
the combat, and was again victorious. Yet, as Walpole explains, he 
" did not quite satisfy the passionate expectation that had been raised ; 
but it was impossible he could, when people had worked themselves 
into an enthusiasm of offering fifty guineas for a ticket to hear 
him." But Burke declared that "of all the various species of ora- 
tory that had ever been heard, either in ancient or modern times, 
whatever the acuteness of the bar, the dignity of the senate, or the 
morality of the pulpit, could furnish, had not been equal to what that 
House had heard that day in Westminster Hall." Burke was then 
Sheridan's political friend ; but Wraxall, who was his political oppo- 
nent and who had heard his speech, records, "that the most ardent 


admirers of Burke, of Fox, and of Pitt, allowed that they had been 
outdone as orators by Sheridan." 

This speech has fortunately been preserved to us in the shorthand 
report of the trial, taken by Mr. Gurney's reporters and published 
at the suggestion of the late Sir George Cornwall Lewis. Unfortu- 
nately, an earlier perversion of the oration, due to the imaginative 
inaccuracy of a reporter of the old school of Dr. Johnson, has gained 
almost universal acceptance, to the lowering of Sheridan's reputation 
as an orator. It is this ludicrously inexact report which figures as 
the real oration in both of the collections of Sheridan's speeches. 
True it is, that Sheridan was artificial and that he was frequently 
guilty of the oratorical and architectural fault of constructing his 
ornament instead of ornamenting his construction. But he was 
wholly incapable of the bathos and bombast of the speech which is 
only too often quoted as his. The prime quality of his oratory was 
its common sense. The prime defect was its exuberance of rhetoric : 
it mi^ht be said of him as Joubert said of a French orator, that "his 
speech is flowery, but his flowers are not a natural growth; they are 
rather like the paper-flowers one finds in shops." This seems a 
minor failing when we recall Sheridan's possession of the one absolute 
essential of the orator — he was persuasive. Sir Gilbert Minto 
records that Pitt was waked up at seven in the morning to see a man 
who was supposed to be bringing news of a victory, but who "told 
Mr. Pitt that he had travelled all night from Brighton, that his name 
was Jenkins and his business not about the navy, but the army, 
which he had a plan for recruiting. lie had been reading * Pizarro,' 
and was persuaded that Rollas first speech was irresistible ; that he 
had read it to numbers at Brighton, and to all he met in the way. 
l^lvery soul felt its power, and had enlisted. Mere he produced a list 
of all their names, and insisted that if empowered, he could soon raise 


two hundred thousand men." Now, Roi/as first speech was a recast- 
ing of one of Sheridan's own speeches in the House. Sheridan was 
not only a born orator ; he was a very carefully trained speaker ; one 
may say almost, that he had been bred to the trade. His father 
taught him oratory when he was a boy ; and Dr. Parr bears witness 
to his school-boy knowledge of Cicero and Demosthenes. From the 
time he first came before the public as a speaker, to the end of his 
career as a politician, he spared no pains to make the best possible 

As oratory is an art, Sheridan's careful preparation should be 
counted for him, not against him. Most extempore speakers have 
accumulated a fund of phrases and figures, on which they can 
draw at will. When Daniel Webster was complimented on the 
admirable description of the British drum-tap circling the world with 
the rising sun, a description seemingly the inspiration of the moment, 
and called out in an unexpected debate, he confessed frankly that 
he had first thought of it one morning in a Canadian citadel, and 
that, taking his seat on a cannon, he had at once given it shape on 
paper, and then committed it to his capacious memory, where it was 
stored up, ready for instant use. Sheridan in this, as in more than 
one other thing, was like Webster. He set down every chance sug- 
gestion, and sought to be prepared against the moment of danger. 
But, however carefully elaborated his epigram might be, there was 
no trace of the workshop ; all the tools were put aw^ay, and the shav- 
ings swept up. His wit, whether old or new, had always the appear- 
ance of spontaneity. It could not be said of him, as Joubcrt said of 
a would-be French wit, who was ever trying to entice you into the 
ambuscade of a ready-made joke, and whose jests had no trace of 
inspiration, " 1/ ne serf fas cAaud.** Sheridan always served piping 
hot. No one ever saw the trains which fired the corruscating wheel. 


Had it not been for Moore's indiscretion, no one would ever have 
suspected the workshop, the kitchen, or the quick match. And it 
must be remembered that very few of Sheridan's strokes of wit, 
and not at all his best ones, could have been considered in advance. 
When taken unawares he was as ready as when armed for the 
encounter. There are instances, almost without number, in which 
the steel of Sheridan's wit struck fire from the chance flint of the 

To say that because Sheridan sometimes used the wit of others, 
he had none of his own ; and that because he always prepared, when 
possible, he could do naught impromptu, is absurd — although it is 
said, now and again. Strike out of his comedies all the jests he may 
have lifted from his predecessors, and the loss would scarcely be 
noticed, — we doubt, in fact, whether it would be detected at all, 
except by professed students of dramatic literature. Strike out of 
his record as a speaker in public and in private, all the suggestions 
derived from others, and again the loss is scarcely to be seen. Sheri- 
dan gave to his work the labor of the artist who knows the value of 
his conception, and seeks to bring out the final perfection. The 
care he bestowed on the polishing of his diamond till it should be as 
brilliant and as cutting as possible, led him at times to repeat him- 
self; indeed, in later life he reverted so often to his earlier and easier 
writings for stones to set more elaborately, that he incurred the 
reproach of borrowing from himself. Even in the * Duenna,' more 
than one song was taken from this or that copy of verses written to 
Miss Linley, or some other fair lady, during his bachelor days in 
Bath. The curt assertion that a political opponent relied on his 
imagination for his facts, and on his memory for his wit, he tried 
in several forms before he was finally satisfied with it. It is difficult 
to say whether this repetition of what he had used once already 


came more from a desire to leave all his wit in the best shape for 
posterity, lightened of superfluity, or whether it sprang from his 
natural laziness, which led him always to fall back on what he had 
on hand when it was possible to avoid the exertion of originality. 
So far did he carry this, not only in public but in private, that, as 
Mr. Harness tells us, he endangered the peace of his household ; his 
second wife was found one day walking up and down her drawing- 
room, apparently in a frantic state of mind, calling her husband a 
villain, because, as she explained after some hesitation, she had just 
discovered that the love letters he sent her were the very same as 
those which he had written to his first wife. As a writer in the 
Quarterly Review has remarked, " It is singular enough that the 
treasures of wit which Sheridan was thought to possess in such 
profusion, should have been the only species of wealth which he ever 
dreamt of economizing." 

To the quick wit and good hunwr of Sheridan's conversation we 
have the testimony of well-nigh all who met him. An easy nature, 
an unfailing readiness, and an innocent delight in the exercise of his 
powers, made him a most enjoyable companion, and therefore to be 
bidden to every conviviality. It is true that Byron tells us that 
"Sheridan's humor, or rather wit, was always saturnine and some- 
times savage. He never laughed, at least that I saw, and I watched 
him." But Byron only saw him in his soured and tormented age. 
In his youth, and in early manhood, he was lively and full of 
fun, abundant in boyish pranks and practical jokes. With Tickell, 
who had married Mrs. Sheridan's sister, he was ever ready for a 
fantastic freak, only too often of the practical sort. One Saturday 
night he volunteered to write a sermon to be preached by a reverend 
friend visiting him, and it was only months after the clergyman had 
delivered the admirable discourse on The Abuse of Riches, which 


Sheridan had spent the evening in composing, that he discovered it 
to be a covert attack on a local magnate generally accused of ill- 
treating the poor. In later life, in his sad decadence, after unchecked 

conviviality had done its work, coming one night very late out of a 


tavern, he was so overtaken with liquor as to need the aid of passers, 
who asked his name and abode, and to whom he gravely made 
answer, "Gentlemen, I am not often in this way; my name is 
Wilberforcc." This is a reckless jest, at which even M. Tainc, 
nowhere disposed to be over-amiable to Sheridan, smiles perforce. 
A UYiiW capable of practical jokes like these, even in his saddest 
a^e, is as far removed as may be from moroseness. Sydney Smith's 
opinion lies directly across Hyron's; "the charm of Sheridan's speak- 
\\y^t' said he, "was his multifariousness of style." Now, a man 
s:iv.'i;^^(', saliirninc, or morose can hardly have a multifariousness 
of styl(! in sjx.akinj^ ; and (Hie is at a loss to account for Byron's 
.isscrtjon. Sydney Smith has been cited, because, like Byron, he 
nu't Shrridiin oidv when the author of the 'School for Scandal ' was 
old and worn and wearied. In his bright and brilliant youth, after 
h(! had snddenly from nothing sprung to the front, and the ball lay at 
his feel, lie was every wliere hailed as a wit of the first water. Lord 
John 'I'ownsliend made a dinner party for Fox to meet Sheridan ; and 
he records : " The first interview between them I shall never forget. 
l**ox told me, after breaking up from dinner, that he had always 
thought Ilarc, after my uncle Charles Townshend, the wittiest man 
he ever met with, but that Sheridan surpassed them both infinitely." 
And this, let it be noted, wa3 after the host had specially raised 
V^^\s expectations by dwelling at length on Sheridan's extraordinary 

Unless Sheridan's manner when Byron was present was unusual, 
oi unless he had changed unaccountably with the thickening years. 


Sydney Smith's opinion is more to be relied on than the poet's. 
-And Sydney Smith, it is to be remembered, is one who had wit enough 
of his own to appreciate Sheridan's. There is indeed one quality in 
"which the dramatist and the Dean were alike. Lord Dudley said to 
the latter, — " You have been laughing at me constantly, Sydney, for 
the last seven years, and yet in all that time, you never said a single 
thing to me that I wished unsaid." In like manner, Sheridan was 
^ver girding at Michael Kelly — '* Composer of Wines and Importer 
of Music" — and yet his cuts were kindly and left no scar, and 
xiowhere is Sheridan treated with more honest affection than in 
]Kelly*s recollections. Sydney Smith's wit has been compared to 
•'summer lightning, that never harmed the object illumined by its 
:flash " ; and to continue the parallel, in the verses Moore wrote just 
sfter Sheridan's death, he declared him one 

** Whose humor, as gay as the fire-fly*8 light, 

Played round every subject, and shone as it played ; 
Whose wit, in the combat as gentle as bright, 
Ne*er carried a heart-stain away on its blade." 

Even in political debate, however sharp or acrimonious, Sheridan 
seems ever to have been courteous to his adversary ; and although 
every shot hit its mark with fatal effect, there was no mangling of 
the corpse ; he never made use of explosive bullets. However keen 
his thrust and his enjoyment of it, there was nothing vindictive or 
malignant to be detected. Even when his great rival, Burke, moved 
partly, it may be, by jealousy, but mainly, no doubt, by growing 
political distrust, broke with his friends and crossed over to the 
ministerial benches, with the cry, " I quit the camp,"— Sheridan 
did not hasten to seize the occasion for taunting invective ; he only 
hoped that as the Honorable Gentleman had quitted the camp as 
a deserter, he would never attempt to return as a spy. 


Again when Pitt chose to taunt him with his theatrical triumphs, 
he retorted with a stroke sharp and swift, but in no way passing the 
limits of friendly debate. The good-humored point of Sheridan's 
parry is evident even from the imperfect parliamentary reports of 
those days. Mr. Pitt said that no man admired more than he did 
"the abilities of that Right Honorable Gentleman, the elq;ant sallies 
of his thought, the gay effusions of his fancy, his dramatic turns and 
his epigrammatic point ; and if they were reserved for the proper 
stage, they would, no doubt, receive what the Honorable Gentleman's 

abilities always did receive, the plaudits of the audience But 

this was ncit the proper scene for the display of these elegancies." 
Sheridan, rising to reply, calmly left the question of the taste of Pitt's 
personality to the House; and then went on. "But let me assure 
the Ri;;lit Houorahlf: Cicntlcman, that I do now, and wull, at any time 
he ( lio(;s(:s to repeat this sort of allusion, meet it with the most 
sineere ;;f)Ofl-hnmor. N:iy, I will say more — flattered and encour- 
a;;ed by the Ki;;ht Honorable Gentleman's panegyric on my talents, 
if ever I again engage in the compositions he alludes to, I may be 
temi)ted tf) an act of presumption — to attempt an improvement on 
one of Hen Jonson's best characters, the character of the Angry Boy, 
in the 'Alchemist.'" Recondite as this allusion seems now, it was 
not so then, for (larriek's performance of Abel Dmgger V!2iS one of 
his best; and the play kept the stage till the beginning of this 

Sheridan's oratory was like his dramatic writing and his poetry, 
in that all three things, speeches, plays, poems, are only varied 
forms of expression for the wit which was his chief characteristic. 
After he entered public life, and until he fell under the evil influence 
of the Prince of Wales, his wit and his oratory were always used in 
the good cause. Like Burke, Sheridan was at once a true Irishman 


and an English patriot. In the preface of the ' Rivals/ he declares 
his attachment to Ireland ; and at all times throughout his career he 
could be relied on to do whatever in him lay for the greater honor, 
dignity, and peace of the British empire. When the French Revo- 
lution came and "the great army of the indolent good, the people 
who lead excellent lives and never use their reason, took violent 
alarm," and when in 1793 Pitt, to use Mr. Morley's apt expression, 
"lost his feet, though he did not lose his head,** Sheridan stood with 
Fox by "the old flag of freedom and generous common-sense." 
When the country really was in danger from French aggression 
in 1799, Sheridan did not falter; and, as we have seen, 'Pizarro' 
was worth many a recruit. And when the mutiny at the Nore 
broke out, Sheridan sacrificed party to patriotism, and gave prompt 
aid to the putting down of the revolt in a manner creditable alike to 
his heart and his head, and in marked contrast with the conduct 
of other politicians then, like him, in opposition. 


From his marriage and the production of the ' Rivals,' to the trial 
of Warren Hastings, Sheridan's position and reputation had been 
steadily rising. For a while they maintained themselves at the 
exalted level to which they had attained. But slowly the good for- 
tune which had waxed began in time to wane. In 1788, Sheridan's 
father died, and in 1792 Sheridan's wife died also, to his great grief. 
Moore and Smythe bear witness to the strength of Sheridan's love 
for his wife, and to the depth of his sorrow at her loss. Had she 
lived, perhaps Sheridan's later life would have been other than it 
was ; one may at least hazard this suggestion. While she was yet 
alive, Sheridan had begun to yield to the temptations of society, to 
live beyond his means, and to neglect the business of the theatre. 


«.•_•: LV.fv.t.r.v.tlv there irsi zever ^tsicr Dree ce exactness and 
«;Vy'.vr:-'. ::.'ar- th'rr. f.r the Drjrk- Lsnt tbcatre tra5 CDndemiied 
•y; V.', 'cz\':J.\*z'*.\ zrr t'.rr. '-',wz. 2j::i the :3:ne}- to erect a new theatre 
f.i.': v> ry: rjjiyr'i by the issue cc ^ifo^occ in debentnrcs of ^500 each. 
J'Tr.'.::.;^ t:,*; rtVj :!:!.':::, the company penonned at the Opera- 
If'. :v:, tstA iiVrr a: the H2^^n2^ke^ Unexpected delay in the 
'.'/;;.;>,':'.:'/.'. */. the :.'-*.v theatre ci-icd great loss, and b^an that 
ii", -:.';-. ;*:o:i 'i :r; ':•.-*:/. tenets which was not to be CiCareJ oft 
', -;.;./, i'/'.'.-r.'.'jrjS ]!:'•:. At last the theatre was complete, and oti 
A;,.'.! .M:*, I7>;, i*. Was ojxrned with a jx-rfurmance of * Macbetb. 
-' ••• '■'-> .'j**'r, on the receij/t of the news of Lord Ho^ire ^ 
:•: lyroii;:'.t out an occasional piece, called 'The CJl^^ 

.'.s . I .. * 'f J '."." -r:':t',hcd by himself, written, rehearsed, 3-^^^ 

'III II- • ».f(-^. f-'t''. 
i ' • ■ ,' 

/.. ^.• : . . . : ' *■ y-^- i./t!;'- fancy li;^^ht]y turns to thoughts ^ 
•' ' • •'• ' • ' ' ' ^/"Of* Shicri^hm, a young man of iort^' 

!•' ' . ij..i::.' '. ' / M; . O'^lc, a yoiHi^ daughter of the Dean ^^ 
'.'/*!.' i.' ''I; li.i ii. ". .' '!.■'! i;;'un licr, as a condition precedent to th*^ 
v 'i'lii.;;, ,1 .urn oj / \ ',(/)' ), i\:i-e'l bv dcbcuturcs ou the theatre^ 
l^'Mj," il,'- li. .! it.v,' \;:. lil^ difficulties increased. At last, in 
I.*;"', 'iiij'- :i liii.i! l.!'/v.-. Til*- tlicatre was burnt to the ground. As 
III' ;;l.ii»- '^1 Hh- 1)111 niii;; biiil-iin^^ li;_;htc(l up the House of Commons 
V. In \r Ml' li'l.iM ? ill .'.ilciicc, a motion was made to adjourn, out of 
I'.'.imI lui : .111! id. Ill, who (;j)|) it, l)oi)in.c; that whatever might be 
111' «\ifni ol l.i., private calamity it would not interfere with the 
public l»ii:,inr:,s ol ilu: country. There seems to be a doubt whether 
\\r thereafter at his post in the House, or whether he went 
lo the M'cnc of liis loss and the theatre of his triumphs. After the 
dcsl ruction of Drury Lane, Sheridan was a ruined man. Mr 


Whitbread took charge of the erection of the new theatre ; an act 
of Parliament was passed enabling it to be rebuilt by subscriptions ; 
Sheridan was paid £2^^000 for his interest in the property, and his 
son Thomas £12,000 for his quarter share. But this was conditional 
on Sheridan's absolute abandonment of all connection with the 
theatre ; and Whitbread enforced this stipulation with pitiless 
exactness. Whitbread was the one man whose heart was too hard 
even for Sheridan to soften. It was three years before Sheridan set 
foot in the theatre he had ruled for twenty-five of the most prosper- 
ous and glorious years of its career. Deprived of the revenues of 
the theatre, and sinking deeper into embarrassment, he was at last 
unable to raise the money needed for his election at Stafford. In 
1 812 he made his final speech in the House of Commons ; it was a 
warning against the rapacious designs of Napoleon. From this 
time, Moore tells us, "the distresses of Sheridan now increased every 
day, and through the short remainder of his life it is a melancholy 
task to follow him." He was forced to sell his books, his plate, his 
pictures, and even to part with the portrait of Mrs. Sheridan by 
Sir Joshua Reynolds. In the spring of 181 5 came " one of the most 
humiliating trials of his pride ; " " he was arrested and carried to a 
sponging-house, where he remained two or three days." That 
Sheridan should have been neglected in this condition by the Prince 
whom he had served to his own discredit, is only what one might 
have expected from the First Gentleman in Europe ; but there are 
those who declare that a sum of money, about ;^3,ooo, was sent 
Sheridan by the Prince, although it was "either attached by his 
creditors, or otherwise dissipated in such manner that very little of 
it actually reached its destination." It is to be remembered that he 
had no pension like Burke, and that no public or private subscription 
was ever taken up for Sheridan as it was for Pitt and Fox, for 


Lamartine and for Daniel Webster. It must be remembered, too, 
that the settlement on the second Mrs. Sheridan was ;£i 5,000, and 
that Sheridan's debts at his death were found to be less than ^5,000 
— far less than the debts of Fox or Pitt. The anonymous "Octoge- 
narian/' in whose biography is to be found the best account of 
Sheridan's last hours, describes Mrs. Sheridan's grief and her 
constant attention in his last days. Peter Moore, Dr. Bain, and 
Samuel Rogers were also true to their fast failing friend. None 
the less is it a fact, that he was under arrest when he was dying, 
"on a writ issued at a time when the invalid was in a state of 
unconsciousness." Fortunately, the sheriff's officer had a kind heart, 
and, as the custodian of the dying man, he protected him against 
any other suit which might be urged against him. Mrs. Sheridan 
sent for the Bishop of London to read prayers for him, but Sheridan 
was wholly insensible. At nine o'clock on the morning of Sunday, 
July 7, 1S16, he said "Good-bye;" these were his last words. He 
sank rapidly, and died at twelve noon. 

On the following Saturday, July 13, the body of the man who had 
died in neglect was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey, 
with Dukes and Earls as pall-bearers, and with a long string of Royal 
and Noble mourners. 


Sheridan's character is enigmatic ; it is not to be read off-hand 
and at random ; it is complicated and unequal ; and it is to be under- 
stood and explained only at the cost of effort. Sheridan was good- 
natured and warm hearted ; he never did any one any intentional 
injury ; but he brought trouble on all who trusted him. While he 
was gentle, kind and affectionate, his wife had reason to feel 
neglected, and his father parted from him in anger. He earned 

1 ^ 





Fac-similb of Autograph Letter of Sheridan. 



enormous sums of money, and his advice to others was always admi- 
rable, but his own affairs were in ever-increasing confusion. He was 
always involved in debt ; yet his accounts as a government officer 
were scrupulously accurate. To continue the antitheses would be 
easy, for the story of his life is a series of antithesis ; but to suggest 
a clue to the labyrinth of his character is not so easy. Briefly, I am 
inclined to think that it is to be sought in the uncommon conjunction 
in Sheridan of two irreconcilable things, a very high standard of 
morals with an absence of training and discipline. The latter failing 
vitiated the former virtue. Incapable of keeping himself up in the 
clear air and on the high level of exalted principle to which he 
aspired, he was far less careful in the ordinary duties of life than are 
those whose aim is not so lofty. When he found that he could not 
attain the high standard he had set before him, he cared little how 
much he fell short of it — and so sank below the ethical mean of 
ordinary mortals. There was nothing venal or sordid about him ; he 
was liked by all, though all who liked him did not respect him ; he 
was a humorist even in his code of morality. He always meant well, 
but while the spirit might be willing the flesh was often weak. He 
intended to be not merely generous with everybody, but also, abso- 
lutely honest and upright ; his heart was in the right place, as the 
saying is, but his views were too magnificent for his means ; and he 
had neither self-denial nor self-discipline ; when, therefore, he had 
once put himself in a position where he was unable to do exactly 
what he had agreed to do, and what he always desired to do, 
he ceased to care whether or not he did all he could do. In 
time this habit grew upon him, and the frequency of failure to 
accomplish what he had intended, blunted his aspirations. He 
always meant well, as I have said, and as time went on people 
had to be content to take the will for the deed. This type of char- 


acter is not as uncommon as it may seem at first sight. Substan- 
tially it does not differ greatly from the Thirise of *Elle et Lui' 
which George Sand's latest biographer declares to be " a faithful 
picture of a woman not quite up to the level of her own principles, 
which arc so high that any lapse from them on her part brings down 
more disasters on herself and on others than the misdemeanors of 
avowedly unscrupulous persons." In Sheridan this type was modified 
for the worse by an ambition perilously akin to vanity, and by an 
indolence accompanied by an extraordinary power of hard work when- 
ever spurred to it by an extraordinary motive. This vanity and this 
indolence were the contending evil spirits who strove for the mastery 
in Sheridan's later days. The indolence encouraged his carelessness 
ill money matters, and the vanity or ambition or pride stiffened his 
inii)raclieal)ly high code of morality. He was always paying his 
(Ul)ts in a lar-e-liandetl, reckless way, but he was never out of debt, 
lie >C(»ined to examine an account or to catechize a claimant; when 
he lia'l money he i)aiil, and when he had none he promised to pay — 
and he kept his word, if reminded of it when money came in. All, or 
nearlv all, of Ids .sliares in the rebuilt theatre were given to creditors 
wiihonl any (jueslion as to their claims. Sheridan stripped himself 
anil died in poverty and left but few creditors unpaid. From sheer 
hceiUessness he ])robal)ly had paid far more than he actually owed, 
but he never made an effort to investigate his liabilities, or to set 
tliem off against his as>Lts to see the exact state of his affairs, 
lie had not the mercantile morality, as he had not the mercantile 
training, which would have stood him in good stead so often in 
his checkered career. P)Ut he had j)ersonal morality in money mat- 
ters, and he had political morality. II is nice sense of honor led him 
to withdraw his wife from the concert-stage as soon as they were 
married. He told a creditor who had his bond, and who found him 


in unexpected possession o£ money, that he had to use the money to 
meet a debt of honor, whereupon the creditor burnt his bond before 
his face and declared his debt was thereafter a debt of honor, and 
Sheridan paid it at once. In his political career he more than once 
sacrificed place to principle. 

As Carlyle says of Schiller, " we should not lightly think of com- 
prehending the very simplest character in all its bearings ; and it 
might well argue vanity to boast of even a common acquaintance 
with one like " Sheridan's, which was even more complex and prob- 
lematic than Schiller's. "Such men as he are misunderstood by their 
daily companions, much more by the distant observer, who gleans his 
information from scanty records and casual notices of characteristic 
events, which biographers are often too indolent or injudicious to 
collect, and which the peaceful life of a man of letters usually supplies 
in little abundance." From this injudicious indolence of biographers 
no man has suffered more than Richard Brinsley Sheridan. And for 
this there is no better corrective than a reading of the * Monody on 
the Death of Sheridan,' which Byron wrote, to be delivered at the 
opening of Drury Lane Theatre in the autumn. Two extracts from 
Byron's poem may serve fitly to close this brief and hasty summary 
of Sheridan's career and character : — 

'* But should there be to whom the fatal blight 
OrraiIii;;ig wisdom yields a base delight — 
Men who exult when minds of heavenlv tone 
Jar in the music which was born their own — 
Still let them pause — at little do they know 
That what to them seemed vice might be but woe.** 

• • ■ • • 

" Long shall we seek his likeness, long in vain. 
And turn to all of him which mav remain. 
Sighing that nature formed but one such man, 
And broke the die, in moulding Sheridan!*' 





Mr. Joseph Jepferson as Bob Acres. 


TN the days now departed, and perhaps forever, when every town 
^ in this broad land had its theatre, with its own stock-company 
of actors and actresses, the manager was wont once and away to 
announce, with more or less flourish of trumpets, and as though he 
^ere doing a most meritorious thing, a series of old-comedy revivals. 
And the custom still obtains in two or three of the larger cities, 
notably in New York and Boston. Whenever the announcement 
was put forth, the regular playgoer retired within himself, and made 
ready for an intellectual treat. To the regular playgoer the old 
comedies were a most important part of the Legitimate Drama. 
Just what the Legitimate Drama is I have never been able to get 
defined exactly ; nor can I see why one play, any more than another, 
should bear the bar sinister; to me a play of one kind is as legiti- 
mate as a play of another kind, each in its place. But, whatever the 
Legitimate Drama might be, there was no doubt in the mind of the 
regular playgoer that the Old Comedies were an integral part of it. 
If you asked the regular playgoer for a list of the Old Comedies, it 
was odds that he rattled off, glibly enough, first, the * School for 
Scandal,' second, 'She Stoops to Conquer,* and third, the 'Rivals.' 
After these he might hesitate, but if you pushed him to the wall, he 
would name a few more, plays, of which ' A New Way to Pay Old 



Debts ' was the oldest, and ' Money ' the youngest. Leaving tl 
regular playgoer, and investigating for yourself, you will find th 
the Old Comedies are mostly those which, in spite of their beii 
more than a hundred years old, are yet lively and sprightly enouj 
to amuse a modern audience. 

The life of a drama, even of a successful drama, is rarely thn 
score years and ten ; and the number of dramas which live to be cc 
tenarians is small indeed. In the last century the case was differei 
and a hundred years ago the regular playgoer had a chance to s 
frequently eight or ten pieces by Massinger, Ben Joflson, Beaumc 
and Fletcher, and Shirley. Nowadays, Shaksperc's are the oi 
Elizabethan plays which keep the stage, with one solitary cxcepti 
— Massingcr's ' A New Way to Pay Old Debts.' The * Chances,' 
Beaumont and Fletcher ; the * City Madam,' of Massinger ; a 
* Every Man in his Humor,' of Ben Jonson — these have all, c 
after another, dropped out of sight. The comedies of the last centi 
have now in their turn become centenarians ; of these there are \ 
a score which have a precarious hold on the theatre, and are seen 
lengthening intcn^als ; and there are half a dozen which hold th 
own firmly. Of this scant half-dozen, the * School for Scandal ' 
perhaps, in the greatest request, followed closely by ' She Stoops 
Conquer," and by the * Rivals.' Of late the * Rivals' has been s< 
most often in these United States, since Mr. Joseph Jefferson, lay: 
aside the accent and the tatters of that ne'er-do-weel, Rip I 
Wifiklcy has taken on the counterfeit presentment of Bob Aa 
full of strange oaths and of a most valiant bearing ; and he 1 
been aided and abetted by that sterling artist, Mrs. John Dn 
as the voluble Mrs. Malaprop, 

The * Rivals ' was Sheridan's first play ; it was produced 
Covent Garden, January 17, 1775. Like the first plays of ma 


another dramatist who has afterward succeeded abundantly, it failed 
dismally on its first performance, and again on the second, the night 
after. It was immediately withdrawn ; in all probability, it was 
somewhat rewritten ; and of a certainty it was very much shortened. 
Then, on January 28, after a ten days' absence from the bills, it 
reappeared, with Mr. Clinch in the place of Mr. Lee, as Sir Lucius 
a Trigger. 

Moore remarks that as comedy, more than any other species of 
composition, requires '' that knowledge of human nature and the 
world which experience alone can give, — it seems not a little extra- 
ordinary that nearly all our first-rate comedies should have been 
the productions of very young men." Moore then cites Farquhar, 
and Vanbrugh, and especially Congreve, all of whose comedies 
were written before he was twenty-five. It is these three writers 
who gave the stamp to English comedy ; and Sheridan's die was not 
unlike theirs. Now, a consideration of the fact that English comedy 
is thus, in a measure, the work of young men, may tend to explain at 
once its failings and its force. As Lessing says : " Who has nothing 
can give nothing. A young man, just entering upon the world him- 
self, cannot possibly know and depict the world." And this is just 
the weak point of English comedy ; it is brilliant and full of dash, 
and it carries itself bravely, but it does not show an exact knowledge 
of the world, and it does not depict with precision. " The greatest 
comic genius," Lessing adds, " shows itself empty and hollow in its 
youthful works." Empty and hollow are harsh words to apply to 
English comedy, but I think it easy to detect, behind all its glitter 
and sparkle, a want of depth, a superficiality, which is not far from 
the emptiness and hollowness of which Lessing speaks. Compare 
this English comedy of Congreve and of Sheridan, which is a battle 
of the wits, with the broader and more human comedy of Moliire 


and of Shakspere, and it is easy to see what Lessing means. In 
place of a broad humanity, is an exuberance of youthful fancy and 
wit, delighting in its exercise. What gives value to these early 
plays, and especially to Sheridan's, is the touch of the true dramatist 
to be seen in them ; and the dramatist is like the poet in so far that 
he is bom, not made. 

** A dramatic author," says M. Alexandre Dumas, filsy " as he 
advances in life, can acquire higher thoughts, can develop a higher 
philosophy, can conceive and execute works of stronger tissue, than 
when he began ; in a word, the matter he can cast into his mold will 
be nobler and richer, but the mold will be the same." M. Dumas 
proceeds to show how the first plays of Corneille, of Moliere, and of 
Racine, from 'a technical point of view, are as well constructed as the 
latest. So it is with Congreve, and Vanbrugh, and Farquhar, and 
Slicridan ; they gave up the stage before they had great experience 
of the world ; but they were born dramatists. All their comedies 
were made in the head, not in the heart. But made where or hoiv 
you please, they are well made. It is impossible to deny that the 

* Rivals,* however hollow or empty it may appear on minute critical 
inspection, is a very extraordinary production for a young man of 

Humor rijK-ns slowly, but in the case of Sheridan some forcing- 
house of circumstance seems to have brought it to an early maturity, 
not as rich, perhaps, or as mellow as it might have become with time, 
and yet full of a flavor of its own. Strangely enough, the early 

* Rivals ' is more humorous and less witty than the later 'School for 
Scandal,' — perhaps because the humor of the ' Rivals* is rather the 
frank feeling for fun and appreciation of the incongruous (both of 
which may be youthful qualities) than the deeper and broader humor 
which we see at its full in Moliere and Shakspere. 


So we have the bold outlines of Mrs, Mahprop^ and Bob Acres^ 
personages having only a slight likeness to nature, and not always 
even consistent to their own projection, but strong in comic effect 
and abundantly laughter-compelling. They are caricatures, if you 
will, but caricatures of great force, full of robust fun, tough in texture, 
and able to stand by themselves, in spite of any artistic inequality. 
Squire Acres is a country gentleman of limited intelligence, inca- 
pable of acquiring, even by contagion, the curious system of referen- 
tial swearing by which he gives variety to his speech. But " odds, 
bullets, and blades ! " as he says, his indeterminate valor is so 
aptly utilized, and his ultimate poltroonry in the duel scene is so 
whimsically developed, and so sharply contrasted with the Irish assur- 
ance and ease of Sir Liuius O'Trigger^ that he would be a hard- 
hearted critic indeed who could taunt Mr Acres with his artistic 
short-comings. And it surely takes a very acute mind to blunder so 
happily in the "derangement of epitaphs" as does Mrs, Malaprop ; 
she must do it with malice prepense, and as though she, and not her 
niece, were as "headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile." 
It is only a sober second thought, however, which allows us to " cast 
aspersions on her parts of speech." While Bob Acres and Mrs. 
Malaprop are before us we accept them as they are ; and here we 
touch what was at once Sheridan's weakness and his strength, which 
lay side by side. He sought, first of all, theatrical effect ; dramatic 
excellence was a secondary and subservient consideration. On the 
stage, where all goes with a snap, consistency of character is not as 
important as distinctness of drawing. The attributes of a character 
may be incongruous if they make the character itself more readily 
recognizable ; and the attention of the spectator may be taken from 
the incongruity by humor of situation and quickness of dialogue. 
Acres' s odd oaths are no great strain on consistency, and they help 


to fix him in oar memory. Mrs. MaU^nfts ingenuity in dislocating 
the dictionary is very amusing, and Sheridan did not hesitate to 
invent extravagant blunders for her, any more than he hesitated to 
lend his own wit to Fag and David, the servants^ who were surely as 
incapable of appreciating it as they were of inventing it After all. 
Sheridan had to live on his wit ; and he wrote his plays to make 
money by its disjday. And the more of himself he put into each ot 
his characters, the more brilliant the play. To say this is. of course 
to say that Sheridan belongs in the second rank of comedy writers, 
with Congreve and Regnaid, and not in the dass with Shakspere 
and Molidre. But humor and an insight into human nature are not 
found united with the play-making faculty once in a century ; there 
is only one Shakspere. and only one Molidre. It is well that a quick 
wit and a lively fancy can amuse us not unsatisfactorily, and that. 
in default of Shakspere and Molidre, we have at least Beaumarchais 
and Sheridan. 

It is well that Sheridan wrote the * Rivals' just when h^ did, or 
else both wit and humor might have been banished from the English 
stage for years. That there was ever any danger of English comedy 
stiffening itself into prudish priggishness it is not easy now to 
credit ; but a hundred and ten years ago the danger was real 
school of critics had arisen who prescribed that comedy should be gen- 
teel, and that it should eschew all treatment of ordinary human nature^ 
confining itself chiefly to sentiment in high life. A school of drama- 
tists, beginning with Steele (whom it is sad to see in such company), 
^nd including Cumberland and Hugh Kelly, taught by example what 
these critics set forth by precept. The bulk of playgoers were never 
converted to these principles, but they obtained in literary society 
and were, for the moment, fashionable. There were not lacking 
those who protested Fielding, who had studied out something of 


nhe secret of Molifere's humor in the adaptations he made from the 
author of the * Miser,' had no sympathy with the new school ; and 
when he came to write his great novel, ' Tom Jones,' he had a sly 
thrust or two at the fashion. He introduces to us, for example, a 
puppet-show which was performed " with great regularity and 
decency. It was called the fine and serious part of the * Provoked 
Husband,' and it was indeed a very grave and solemn entertainment, 
without any low wit, or humor, or jests ; or, to do it no more than 
justice, anything which could provoke a laugh. The audience were 
all highly pleased." 

'Tom Jones' was published in 1749, and in 1773 sentimental 
comedy still survived, and was ready to sneer at Goldsmith's * She 
Stoops to Conquer,' and to call its hearty and almost boisterous 
humor "low." But Tony Lumpkin's country laugh cleared the 
atmosphere. Genteel comedy had received a death-blow. Some 
months before * She Stoops to Conquer ' was brought out, Foote had 
helped to make the way straight for a revival of true comedy, 
whereat a man might venture to laugh, by announcing a play for 
his " Primitive Puppet-show," called the * Handsome Housemaid, or 
Piety in Pattens,' which was to illustrate how a maiden of low 
degree, by the mere effects of her morality and virtue, raised herself 
to honor and riches. In his life of Garrick, Tom Davies tells us that 
* Piety in Pattens' killed sentimental comedy, although until then 
Hugh Kelly's * False Delicacy ' had been the favorite play of the 
times. It is, perhaps, true that Foote scotched the snake ; it is 
certain, however, that it was Sheridan who killed it. Two years 
after Goldsmith and Foote came Sheridan ; and after the * Rivals ' 
there was little chance for genteel comedy. Moore prints passages 
from an early sketch of a farce, from which we can see that Sheridan 
never took kindly to the sentimental school. Yet so anxious was he 


for the success of the ' Rivals/ and so important was this success to 
him, that he attempted to conciliate the wits and iine ladies who were 
bitten by the current craze ; at least it is difficult to see any other 
reason for the characters oi Julia and /^j/Z^AtimT, so different from 
all Sheridan's other work, and so wholly wanting in the sparkle in 
which he excelled. And the calculation was seemingly not unwise ; 
the scenes bet ween ////rVi and /^M/>t/d:;f^, to which we now listen with 
dumb impatience, and which Mr. Jefferson, in his version of the 
piece, has trimmed away, were received with delight. John Ber- 
nard, who was at one time secretary of the Beefsteak Club, and 
afterward one of the first of American managers, records in his amus- 
ing * Retrospections * that the audience at the first performance of 
the 'Rivals' contained **two parties — those supporting the pre- 
vailing taste, and those who were indifferent to it, and liked nature. 
On the first night of a new play it was very natural that the former 
should predominate, and what was the consequence ? Why, that 
Faulk /and and Julia (which Sheridan had obviously introduced to 
conciliate the sentimentalists, but which, in the present day, are con- 
sidered incumbrances) were the characters most favorably received, 
whilst Sir Anthony Absolute, Bob Acres, and Lydia, those faithful 
and diversified pictures of life, were barely tolerated." 

But the sentimentalists were afterward present in diminishing 
force ; and the real success of the comedy came from those who could 
appreciate its fun and who were not too moral to laugh. So Sheri- 
dan, writing a new prologue to be spoken on the tenth night, drew 
attention to the figure of Comedy (which stood on one side of the 
stage, as Tragedy did on the other), and bade the audience 

" Look on her well — docs she seem form'd to teach? 
Should you expect to hear this ladv — preach? 
Is gray experience suited to her youth ? 
Do solemn sentiments become that mouth? 


Yet, thuft adorned with every graceful art 
To charm the fancy and to reach the heart, 
Must we displace her? and instead advance 
The goddess of the woful countenance? — 
The Sentimental Muse ! — Her emblems view — 
The * Pilgrim's Progress * and a spring of rue ! 
There fixed in usurpation should she stand, 
She*ll snatch the dagger from her sister's hand ; 
And having made her votaries -weef afloody 
Good heaven ! she*ll end her comedies in blood!** 

Sheridan's use of the figures of Comedy and Tragedy is charac- 
teristic of his aptness in turning to his own advantage any accident 
upon which his quick wit could seize. Characteristic, too, is the wil- 
lingness to borrow a hint from another. Sheridan was not above 
taking his matter wherever he found it. Indeed, there are not want- 
ing those who say that Sheridan had nothing of his own, and was 
barely able to cover his mental nakedness with rags stolen every- 
where. Mr. John Forster declared that Lydia Languish and her 
lover owed something to Steele's 'Tender Husband.' Mr. Dibdin, in 
his " History of the Stage," says that Lydia is stolen from Colman's 
Polly Honeycambe, Mr. E. P. Whipple finds that Sir Anthony Abso- 
lute is suggested by Smollett's Matthew Bramble; and, improving on 
this, Mr. T. Arnold, in the article on English Literature in the new 
Encyclopedia Britannica, speaks of the * Rivals * as dug out of ' Hum- 
phrey Clinker.' Watkins, Sheridan's first biographer, had already 
pretended to trace Mrs. Malaprop to a waiting-woman in Fielding's 
* Joseph Andrews;' other critics had called her a reproduction of 
Mrs, Heidelbergy in Colman and Garrick's ' Clandestine Marriage.' 
And a more recent writer spoke of Theodore Hook's *Ramsbottom 
Papers ' as containing the original of all the Mrs, Malaprops and 
Mrs. Partingtans. Not only were the characters thus all copied here 
and there, but the mcidents also are stolen. Moore and Mrs. Inch- 


bald point out that Falkland's trial oi Julia's affection by a pretended 
danger and need of instant flight, is anticipated both in Prior's ' Nut- 
brown Maid/ and in Smollett's ' Peregrine Pickle ; ' and Boaden, in 
his biography of Kemble, finds the same situation m the ' Memoirs of 
Miss Sidney Biddulph/ a novel by Sheridan's mother, which was once 
very popular, but which Sheridan told Rogers he had never read. 
Not content with thus robbing Sheridan of the constituent parts of 
his play, an attempt has been made to deprive him of the play itself. 
Under the head of Literary Gossip, the " Athenxum " of January i, 
1876, had this paragraph : — 

"A very curious and most interesting fact has come to light at the 
British Museum. Among the collection of old plays (presented to that 
institution by Mr. Coventry Patmore in 1864) which formerly belonged to 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, has been found the holograph original of the 
comedy *The Trip to Bath/ written in 1749, by Mrs. Frances Sheridan, his 
mother, and which, it is said in Moore's * Life of Sheridan,' was the source 
of his play of the * Rivals/ A very slight comparison of the two plays 
leaves no doubt whatever of the fact; and in the character of Mrs, 
Malaprop^ Sheridan has actually borrowed some of her amusing blunders- 
from the original Mrs, Tryfort without any alteration whatever." 

I have massed these accusations together to meet them with a 
general denial. I have compared Sheridan's characters and inci- 
dents with the so-called originals ; and I confess that I can see very 
little likeness in any case, and no ground at all for a charge of plagi- 
arism. It is not that Sheridan was at all above borrowing from 
his neighbor ; it is that in the ' Rivals ' he did not so borrow, or that 
his borrowings are trifling and trivial both in quantity and quality.| 
Polly Honeycombcy for example, is like Lydia Languish in her taste 
for novel-reading, in her romantic notions, and in nothing else ; Polly 
figures in farce, and Lydia in high comedy ; Polly is a shop-keeper's 


daughter, and L^dia has the fine airs of good society. It is as hard 
to see a likeness between Po/fy and Lydia, as it is to see just what 
Sheridan owes to Steele's 'Tender Husband.^The accusation that the 
•Rivals' is indebted to "Humphrey Clinker" is Bbsurdg Sir A nt/iony 
Absolute is not at all like Mr. Matthew Bramd/e/j indeed, in all of 
Smollett's novel, of which the humor is so rich, not to say oily, there 
is nothing which recalls Sheridan's play, save possibly Mistress 
TaHtha Bramble, who is an old woman, anxious to marry, and mis- 
taking a proposal for her niece to be one for her own hand, and who 
blunders in her phrases. How far, however, from Sheridan's neat 
touch is Smollett's coarse stroke! "Mr. Gwynn," says Mistress 
Tabit/ta to Quin the actor, " I was once vastly entertained with your 
playing the 'Ghost of Gimlet' at Drury Lane, when you rose up 
through the stage with a white face and red eyes, and spoke of 
quails upon the frightful porcupine*' Mrs, Slipslop, in 'Joseph 
Andrews,' has also a misapplication of words, but never so aptly 
incongruous and so exactly inaccurate as Mrs. Malaprop, This trick 
of speech is all either Mistress Bramble or Mrs. Slipslop have in 
common with Mrs, Malaprop ; and Mrs, Heidelberg has not even 
this. The charge that Mrs. Malaprop owes aught to Theodore 
Hook is highly comic and preposterous, as Hook was born in 
1788, and published the 'Ramsbottom Papers" between 1824 and 
1828 — say half a century after Mrs. Malaprop has proved her claim 
to immortality. And it is scarcely less comic and preposterous to 
imagine that Sheridan could have derived the scene between Julia 
and Faulkland from Prior's * Nut-brown Maid,' and from Smollett's 
' Peregrine Pickle,' and from Mrs. Sheridan's * Sydney Biddulph ' ; the 
situation in the play differs materially from those in the three other 
productions. Remains only the sweeping charge of the "Athe- 
naettm;" and this well nigh as causeless as the rest The manuscript 


of which the "Athenaeum " speaks is No. 25,975, and it is called 'A 
Journey to Bath * ; it ends with the third act, and two more are evi- 
dently wanting. It is only "a very slight comparison " of this comedy 
of Mrs. Sheridan's with her son's 'Rivals,' which "leaves no doubt 
whatever " of the taking of the latter from the former. I have read 
the 'Journey to Bath ' very carefully ; it is a rather lively comedy, such 
as were not uncommon in 1750; and it is wholly unlike the ' Rivals.' 
The characters of the 'Journey to Bath' are: Lord Hewkly ; Sir 
Jeremy Bully Bart, ; Sir Jonathan Bull, his brother, a city knight ; 
Edward, son to Sir Jonatlian ; Champignon ; Stapleton ; Lady Fil- 
mot ; Lady Bel Aircastle ; Mrs, Try fort, a citizen's widow; Lucy^ her 
daughter ; Mrs, Surface, one who keeps a lodging-house at Bath. 
Mrs, Surface, it may be noted, is a scandalmonger, who hates scan- 
dal ; and Sheridan used both the name and the character in his later 
and more brilliant comedy. In the 'Journey to Bath' and the 
* Rivals,' the scenes are laid at Bath ; and here the likeness ends — 
except that Mrs. Tryfort seems to be a sort of first draft of Mrs. 
Malaprop. It is difficult to doubt that Sheridan had read his 
mother's comedy and had claimed as his by inheritance this Airs, 
Tryfort, who is described by one of the other characters as the 
"vainest poor creature, and the fondest of hard words, which, with- 
out miscalling, she always takes care to misapply." None of her 
misapplications, however, are as happy as those of Mrs, Malaprop. 

After all, the invention is rather Shakspere's than Mrs. Sheri- 
dan's. Mrs. Malaprop is but Dogberry in petticoats. And the fault 
of which Mr. Whipple accuses Sheridan may be laid at Shakspere's 
door also. Mr. Whipple calls Mrs, Malapropos mistakes "too felici- 
tously infelicitous to be natural," and declares them "character- 
istics, not of a mind flippantly stupid, but curiously acute," and that 
we laugh at her as we should at an acquaintance "who was exercising 


his ingenuity, instead of exposing his ignorance." This is all very 
true, but true it is also that Dogberry asked, " Who think you to be 
the most desertless man to be constable?" And again, "Js our 
whole dissembly appeared ? And "O villain ! thou wilt be condemned 
into everlasting redemption for this!" Sheridan has blundered in 
good company, at all events. 

Not content with finding suggestions for Sheridan's work in 
various fictions, his earliest biographer, Dr. Watkins, suggests that 
the plot of the ' Rivals ' was taken from life, having been suggested 
by his own courtship of Miss Linley and the ensuing duel with Cap- 
tain Mathews. And his latest biographer, Mrs. Oliphant, chooses 
to identify Miss Lydia Languish with Mrs. Sheridan. Both sugges- 
tions are absurd. There is no warrant whatever for the assumption 
that any similarity existed between Miss Linley and Miss Languish^ 
and the incidents of Sheridan's comedy do not at all coincide with 
the incidents of Sheridan's biography. Already, in his 'Maid of 
Bath,' had Foote set Miss Linley and one of her suitors on the 
stage ; and surely Sheridan, who would not let his wife sing in 
public, would shrink from putting the story of their courtship into a 
comedy. It has been suggested, though, that in the duel scene 
Sheridan profited by his own experience on the field of honor; and 
also, that in the character oi Faulk land hQ sketched his own state of 
mind during the long days of waiting, when he was desperately in 
love, and saw little hope of marital happiness ; in the days when he 
had utilized the devices of the stage, and for the sake of getting 
near to her for a few minutes, he had disguised himself as the coach- 
man who drove her at night to her father's house. This may 
be true ; but it is as dangerous as it is easy to apply the speeches of 
a dramatist, speaking in many a feigned voice, to the circumstances 
of his own life. 


The ' Rivals/ as a play, has suffered the usual vicissitudes of all 
old favorites. Although never long forgotten, it has been now and 
again neglected and now and again harshly treated. Of late years 
the parts of Faulkland 2Xi^ Julia have been much curtailed when the 
comedy has been acted in England ; and in the admirable revival 
effected in 1880 by Mr. Joseph Jefferson in the United States, y«/iV? 
was wholly omitted and Faulkland was suffered to remain only that 
he might serve as a foil to Bob Acres. It is pleasant to note that 
when the play was produced at the Haymarket Theatre in London 
by Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, the parts of Julia and Faulkland were 
restored to their pristine importance. In the Haymarket revival of 
1884, as in a highly successful revival at the Vaudeville Theatre 
(where in 1882-3 the comedy was acted more than two hundred 
times), the part of Mrs, Malaprop was performed by Mrs. Sterling, 
whose reading of the part, although more conscious and affected 
than Mrs. Drew*s, was as effective as any author could desire. In 
the United States we are fortunate in the possession of Mr. John 
Gilbert, whose Sir Anthony Absolute may be matched with the 
great Sir Anthonys of the past. Wc may be sure that Mr. Gilbert's 
fine artistic conscience would forbid his repetition of a freak of 
Dowton's, who once for a benefit, gave up Sir Anthony to appear as 
Mrs. Malaprop. 

Nor was this the only occasion when a man played a woman's 
part in this comedy. In his autobiography, Kotzebue (from whom 
the author of the 'Rivals' was afterward to borrow *Pizarro'), 
records the performance of the English comedy in German in the 
cloister of the Minoret's Convent, a performance in which the future 
German dramatist, then a mere youth, doubled the parts ol Julia and 
Acres ! In German as in French, there is more than one translation 
or adaptation of the ' Rivals ; * and some of them are not without 



a comicality of their own. It is to be remembered, also, that on the 
celebrated visit of the English actors to Paris, in 1827, — a visit 
which had great influence on the development of French dramatic 
literature, and which may, indeed, be called the exciting cause of 
the Romantic movement, — the first play presented to the Parisian 
public by the English actors was the ' Rivals.' 



A PREFACE to a play seems generally to be considered as a 
'^^ kind of closet-prologue, in which — if his piece has been suc- 
cessful — the author solicits that indulgence from the reader which 
he had before experienced from the audience ; but as the scope and 
immediate object of a play is to please a mixed assembly in represen- 
tation (whose judgment in the theatre at least is decisive), its degree 
of reputation is usually as determined as public, before it can be 
prepared for the cooler tribunal of the study. Thus any farther 
solicitude on the part of the writer becomes unnecessary at least, if 
not an intrusion ; and if the piece has been condemned in the per- 
formance, I fear an address to the closet, like an appeal to posterity, 


is constantly regarded as the procrastination of a suit, from a con- 
sciousness of the weakness of the cause. From these considerations, 


the following comedy would certainly have been submitted to the 
reader, without any farther introduction than what it had in the rep- 
resentation, but that its success has probably been founded on a 
circumstance which the author is informed has not before attended a 
theatrical trial, and which consequently ought not to pass unnoticed. 
I need scarcely add, that the circumstance alluded to was the 
withdrawing of the piece, to remove those imperfections in the first 
representation which were too obvious to escape reprehension, and too 



numerous to admit of a hasty correction. There are few writers, I 
believe, who, even in the fullest consciousness of error, do not wish 
to palliate the faults which they acknowledge ; and, however trifling 
the performance, to second their confession of its deficiencies, by 
whatever plea seems least disgraceful to their ability. In the present 
instance, it cannot be said to amount either to candor or modesty in 
me, to acknowledge an extreme inexperience and want of judgment 
on matters, in which, without guidance from practice, or spur from 
success, a young man should scarcely boast of being an adept. If it 
be said, that under such disadvantages no one should attempt to 
write a play, I must beg leave to dissent from the position, while the 
first point of experience that I have gained on the subject is, a 
knowledge of the candor and judgment with which an impartial 
public distinguishes between the errors of inexperience and inca- 
pacity, and the indulgence which it shows even to a disposition to 
remedy the defects of either. 

It were unnecessary to enter into any further extenuation of what 
was thought exceptionable in this play, but that it has been said, that 
the managers should have prevented some of the defects before its 
appearance to the public — and in particular the uncommon length of 
the piece as represented the first night. It were an ill return for the 
most liberal and gentlemanly conduct on their side, to suffer any 
censure to rest where none was deserved. Hurry in writing has long 
been exploded as an excuse for an author; — however, in the dra- 
matic line, it may happen, that both an author and a manager may 
wish to fill a chasm in the entertainment of the public with a hasti- 
ness not altogether culpable. The season was advanced when I first 
put the play into Mr. Harris's hands ; it was at that time at least 
double the length of any acting comedy. I profited by his judgment 
and experience in the curtailing of it — till, I believe, his feeling for 


the vanity of a young author got the better of his desire for correct- 
ness, and he left many excrescences remaining, because he had 
assisted in pruning so many more. Hence, though I was not unin- 
formed that the acts were still too long, I flattered myself that, after 
the first trial, I might with safer judgment proceed to remove what 
should appear to have been most dissatisfactory. Many other errors 
there were, which might in part have arisen from my being by no 
means conversant with plays in general, either in reading or at the 
theatre. Yet I own that, in one respect, I did not regret my 
ignorance ; for as my first wish in attempting a play was to avoid 
every appearance of plagiary, I thought I should stand a better 
chance of effecting this from being in a walk which I had not 
frequented, and where, consequently, the progress of invention was 
less likely to be interrupted by starts of recollection ; for on subjects 
on which the mind has been much informed, invention is slow of 
exerting itself. Faded ideas float in the fancy like half-forgotten 
dreams ; and the imagination in its fullest enjoyments becomes sus- 
picious of its offspring, and doubts whether it has created or 

With regard to some particular passages which on the first night's 
representation seemed generally disliked, I confess, that if I felt any 
emotion of surprise at the disapprobation, it was not that they were 
disapproved of, but that I had not before perceived that they 
deserved it. As some part of the attack on the piece was begun too 
early to pass for the sentence of judgment y which is ever tardy in 
condemning, it has been suggested to me, that much of the disappro- 
bation must have arisen from virulence of malice, rather than severity 
of criticism; but as I was more apprehensive of there being just 
grounds to excite the latter than conscious of having deserved the' 
former, I continue not to believe that probable, which I am sure must 


have been unprovoked However, if it was so, and I could even 
mark the quarter from whence it came, it would be ungenerous to 
retort ; for no passion suffers more than malice from disappointment. 
For my own part, I see no reason why the author of a play should 
not regard a first night's audience as a candid and judicious friend 
attending, in behalf of the public, at his last rehearsal If he can 
dispense with flattery, he is sure at least of sincerity, and even 
though the annotation be rude, he may rely upon the justness of the 
comment. Considered in this light, that audience, whose fiat is 
essential to the poet's claim, whether his object be fame or profit, 
has surely a right to expect some deference to its opinion, from 
principles of politeness at least, if not from gratitude. 

As for the little puny critics, who scatter their peevish strictures 
in private circles, and scribble at every author who has the eminence 
of bcin^ unconnected with them, as they are usually spleen-swoln 
from a vain idea f)f increasing their consequence, there will always be 
found a petulance and illiberality in their remarks, which should 
place them as far beneath the notice of a gentleman, as their original 
dulness had sunk them from the level of the most unsuccessful 

It is not without pleasure that I catch at an opportunity of justi- 
fying myself from the charge of intending any national reflection in 
the character of Sir Lucius O'Trigger. If any gentlemen opposed the 
piece from that idea, I tlianV them sincerely for their opposition ; 
and if the condemnation of this comedy (however misconceived the 
provocation), could have added one spark to the decaying flame of 
national attachment to the country supposed to be reflected on, I 
should have been happy in its fate ; and might with truth have 
boasted, that it had done more real service in its failure than the 
successful morality of a thousand stage-novels will ever effect. 



It is usual, I believe, to thank the performers in a new play, for the 
exertion of their several abilities. But where (as in this instance) 
their merit has been so striking and uncontroverted, as to call for 
the warmest and truest applause from a number of judicious audi- 
ences, the poet's after-praise comes like the feeble acclamation of a 
child to close the shouts of a multitude. The conduct, however, of 
the principals in a theatre cannot be so apparent to the public. I 
think it, therefore, but justice to declare that from this theatre (the 
only one I can speak of from experience) those writers who wish to 
try the dramatic line will meet with that candor and liberal attention 
which are generally allowed to be better calculated to lead genius 
into excellence, than either the precepts of judgment, or the guidance 

of experience. 

The Author. 




Sir Anthony Absolute Mr, Shuter, 

Captain Absolute Mr, Woodward, 

Falkland Mr, Lewis, 

Acres Mr, Quick, 

Sir Lucius OTrigger Mr, Lee,* 

Fag Mr, Lee Lewes, 

David Mr. Dunstal. 

Thomas Mr, Fcaron, 

Mrs. Malaprop Afrs, Green, 

Lydia Languish Miss Barsanti, 

Julia Mrs, Bulkley, 

Lucy Mrs, Lessingham, 

Maid, Boy, Servants, etc. 

SCENE — Bath. 
Time of Action — Five Hours, 

• Aflcru'arils by Mr. Clinch. 




Enter Serjeant-at-law, atid Attorney following and giving a 


Serf, What 's here ! — a vile cramp hand ! I cannot see 

Without my spectacles. 

Att, He means his fee. 

I^ay, Mr. Serjeant, good sir, try again. [Gives money. 

Serj, The scrawl improves ! [more] O come, 't is pretty plain. 

I^ey ! how 's this ? Dibble ! — sure it cannot be ! 

-A poet's brief ! a poet and a fee ! 

Aft, Yes, sir ! though you without reward, I know, 

ArVould gladly plead the Muse's cause. 

Serf. So ! — so ! 

An, And if the fee offends, your wrath should fall 

^Dn me. 

Sefy. Dear Dibble, no offence at all. 

AtL Some sons of Phoebus in the courts we meet, 

Serf. And fifty sons of Phoebus in the Fleet ! 

An. Nor pleads he worse, who with a decent sprig 

CDf bays adorns his legal waste of wig. 

Serf, Full-bottom*d heroes thus, on signs, unfurl 

A leaf of laurel in a grove of curl I 



Yet tell your client that, in adverse days, 
This wig is warmer than a bush of bays. 

Att, Do you, then, sir, my client's place supply, 

Profuse of robe and prodigal of tie 

Do you, with all those blushing powers of face, 

And wonted bashful hesitating grace. 

Rise in the court, and flourish on the case. \Exit, 

SerJ, For practice then suppose — this brief will show it, — 
Me, Serjeant Woodward, — counsel for the poet. 
Used to the ground, I know, *t is hard to deal 
With this dread courts from whence there *s no appeal ; 
No tricking here, to blunt the edge of lawy 
Or, damned in equity, escape hy flaw: 
\\\x\. judgment given, your sentence must remain ; 
No writ of error lies — to Drury-lane ! 

Yet when so kind you seem, 't is past dispute 
We gain some favor, if not costs of suit. 
No spleen is here ! I see no hoarded fury ; — 

— I think I never faced a milder jury ! 
Sad else our plight ! where frowns are transportation, 
A hiss the gallows, and a groan damnation ! 
But such the public candor, without fear 
My client waves all riglit of challenge here. 
No newsman from our session is dismiss'd. 
Nor wit nor critic we scratch off the list ; 
His faults can never hurt another's ease. 
His crime, at worst, a bad attempt to please : 
Thus, all respecting, he appeals to all, 
And by the general voice will stand ox fall. 



Granted our cause, our suit and trial o'er, 
The worthy Serjeant need appear no more : 
In pleasing I a different client choose, 
He served the Poet — I would serve the Muse : 
Like him, I *11 try to merit your applause, 
A female counsel in a female's cause. 

Look on this form,* — where Humor, quaint and sly, 
Dimples the cheek, and points the beaming eye ; 
Where gay Invention seems to boast its wiles 
In amorous hint, and half-triumphant smiles ; 
While her light mask or covers Satire's strokes. 
Or hides the conscious blush her wit provokes. 

— Look on her well — does she seem f orm'd to teach ? 
Should you expect to hear this lady preach } 
Is gray experience suited to her youth ? 
Do solemn sentiments become that mouth } 
Bid her be grave, those lips should rebel prove 
To every theme that slanders mirth or love. 

♦ Pointing to the figure of Comedy. 



Yet, thus adom'd with ever)' graceful art 
To charm the fancy and yet reach the heart 

Must wc displace her ? And instead ac\'ance 
The Goddess of the wof ul countenance — 
The sentimental Muse I — Her emblems \-iew. 
The Pilgrim's Progress, and a sprig of rue ! 
View her — too chaste to look like flesh and blood - 
Primly portrayed on emblematic wood ! 
There, fix'd in usurpation, should she stand. 
She *11 snatch the dagger from her sister's hand : 
And having made her votaries weep a floods 
Good heaven ! she *11 end her comedies in blood — 
liid Harry Woodward break poor Dunstal*s crown ; 
Imprison Quick, and knock Ned Shuter down ; 
While sad Barsanti, weeping o'er the scene, 
Shall stab herself — or poison Mrs. Green. — 

Such dire encroachments to prevent in time, 
Demands the critic's voice — the poet's rhyme. 
Can our light scenes add strength to holy laws? 
Such puny patronage but hurts the cause : 
Fair Virtue scorns our feeble aid to ask; 
And moral Truth disdains the trickster's mask. 
For here their fav'ritc stands,* whose brow, severe 
And sad, claims Youth's respect, and Pity's tear; 
Who, when oppress'd by foes her worth creates, 
Can point a poniard at the Guilt she hates. 

♦ Pointing to Tragedy. 




Scene I. — A Street in Bath, 

Enter Thomas ; he crosses the Stage ; Fag follows^ looking after him. 

Fag, What ! Thomas ! — Sure 't is he ! — What ! Thomas ! 
Thomas ! 

Thos, Hey ! — Odd's life I Mr. Fag ! — give us your hand, my old 
fellow-serva nt. 

Fag, Excuse my glove, Thomas : — I 'm devilish glad to see you, • 
my lad. Why, my prince of charioteers, you look as hearty ! — but 
who the deuce thought of seeing you in Bath } 

Thos. Sure, master, Madam Julia, Harry, Mrs. Kate, and the 
postillion, be all come. 

Fag. Indeed ! 

Thos, Ay, master thought another fit of the gout was coming to 
make him a visit ; — so he *d a mind to gi't the slip, and whip ! we 
were all off at an hour's warning. 

Fag. Ay, ay, hasty in everything, or it would not be Sir Anthony 
Absolute ! 

Thos. But tell us, Mr. Fag, how does young master ? Odd ! Sir 
Anthony will stare to see the Captain here I 



Fag. I do not serve Captain Absolute now. 

Thos, Why sure ! 

Fag, At present I am employed by Ensign Beverley. 

Thos, I doubt, Mr. Fag, you ha*n*t changed for the better. 

Fag, I have not changed, Thomas. 

Thos, No ! Why did n*t you say you had left young master } 

Fag, No. — Well, honest Thomas, I must puzzle you no farther : 
. — briefly then — Captain Absolute and Ensign Beverley are one and 
the same person. 

Thos, The devil they are ! 

Fag, So it is indeed, Thomas ; and the ensign half of my master 
being on guard at present — the captain has nothing to do with me. 

Thos. So, so ! — What, this is some freak, I warrant ! — Do tell 
us, Mr. Fag, the meaning o't — you know I ha' trusted you. 

Fag. You 11 be secret, Thomas ? 

Thos. As a coach-horse. 

Fag. Why then the cause of all this is — Love. — Love, Thomas, 
who (as you may get read to you) has been a masquerader ever 
since the days of Jupiter. 

TJios. Ay, ay ; — I guessed there was a lady in the case : — but 
pray, why does your master pass only for ensign? — Now if he had 
shammed general indeed 

Fag. Ah ! Thomas, there lies the mystery o' the matter. Hark'ee, 
Thomas, my master is in love with a lady of a very singular taste ; a 
lady who likes him better as a Iialf-pax /vAcyV;/ fV)^|^ jf 9\\e^ Icnew \\o 
was son and heir to Sir Anthony Absolute, a baronet of three thou- 
sand a year. 

Thos. That is an odd taste indeed ! — But has she got the stuff, 
Mr. Fag } Is she rich, hey } 

Fag. Rich ! Why, I believe she owns half the stocks ! Zounds i 


Thomas, she could pay the national debt as easily as I could my 
washerwoman ! She has a lapdog that eats out of gold, — she feeds 
her parrot with small pearls, — and all her thread-papers are made of 
bank-notes ! 

T/tos. Bravo, faith ! — Odd ! I warrant she has a set of thousands 
at least : but does she draw kindly with the captain ? 

Fag, As fond as pigeons. 

Thos, May one hear her name ? 

Fag, Mis.q Ifydi^ T^np ^uish. — But there is an old tough aunt in 
the way; — though, by the by, she has never seen my master — for 
we got acquainted with miss while on a visit in Gloucestershire. 

Thos. Well — I wish they were once harnessed together in matri- 
mony. — But pray, Mr. Fag, what kind of a place is this Bath ? — I 
ha' heard a deal of it — here 's a mort o* merry-making, hey ? 

Fag, Pretty well, Thomas, pretty well — 't is a good lounge^ in 
the morning we go to the pump-room (though neither my master nor 
I drink the waters) ; after breakfast we saunter on the parades, or 
play a game at billiards ; at night we dance ; but damn the place, I 'm 
tired of it ; their regular hours stupefy me — not a fiddle nor a card 
after eleven ! — However, Mr. Faulkland's gentleman and I keep it 
up a little in private parties — 1*11 introduce you there, Thomas — ^Zf 
you '11 like him much. / -^ 

T/ias. Sure I know Mr, Dij-Ppiprne — you know his master is to 
marry Madam Ju lia. 

Fag. I had forgot. — But, Thomas, you must polish a little — 
indeed you must. — Here now — this wig ! — What the devil do you 
do with a wig, Thomas ? — None of the London whips of any degree 
of ion wear.wigs now. 

Tkos. More 's the pity ! more 's the pity, I say. — Odd's life ! 
when I heard how the lawyers and doctors had took to their own hair, 


I thought how 't would go next: — Odd rabbit it! when the fashion 
had got foot on the bar, I guessed 'twould mount to the box! — but 
't is all out of character, believe me, Mr. Fag : and look'ee, I '11 never 
gi' up mine — the lawyers and doctors may do as they wilL 

Fag. Well, Thomas, we *11 not quarrel about that. 

Thos. Why, bless you, the gentlemen of they professions ben't all 
of a mind — for in our village now, thoflf Jack Gauge, the exciseman 
has ta'en to his carrots, there *s little Dick the farrier swears he 'U 
never forsake his bob, though all the college should appear with their 
own heads I 

Fag, Indeed ! well said, Dick ! — But hold ! — mark I — mark ! 

Thos, Zooks ! *t is the captain. — Is that the lady with him ? 

Fag, No, no, that is Madam Lucy, my master's mistress's maid. 
They lodge at that house — but I must after him to tell him the 

Thos. Odd ! he 's giving her money ! — Well, Mr. Fag 

Fag, Good-bye, Thomas. I have an appointment in Gyde's Porch 
this evening at eight ; meet me there, and we '11 make a little party. 

{Exeunt severally. 

Scene II. — A Di essiug-room in Mrs. Malaprop's Lodgings. 

Lydia sitting on a sofa, with a book in her hand, Lucy, as jusi 

returned from a message, 

Lucy, Indeed, ma'am, I traversed half the town in search of it ; 
I don't believe there 's a circulating library in Bath I ha'n't been at 
Lyd. And could not you get The Reivard of Constancy t 
Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am. 
Lyd, Nor The Fatal Connection t • 


Lucy, No, indeed, ma*am. 

Lyd, Nor The Mistakes of the Heart f 

Lucy. Ma am, as ill luck would have it, Mr. Bull said Miss Sukey 
Saunter had just fetched it away. 

Lyd. Heigh-ho ! — Did you inquire for The Delicate Distress f 

Lucy, Or, The Memoirs of Lady Woodford? Yes, indeed, ma'am. 
I asked everywhere for it ; and I might have brought it from Mr. 
Frederick's, but Lady Slattern Lounger, who had just sent it home, 
had so soiled and dog*s-eared it, it wa'n't fit for a Christian to read. 

Lyd, Heigh-ho ! — Yes, I always know when Lady Slattern has 
been before me. She has a most observing thumb ; and, I believe, 
cherishes her nails for the convenience of making marginal notes. — 
Well, child, what have you brought me } 

Lucy. Oh! here, ma'am. — [Taking books from under her cloak, 
and from her pockets,^ This is The Gordian Knot, — and this Pere- 
grine Pickle, Here are The Tears of Sensibility and Humphrey 
Clinker. This is The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality, written by 
herself and here the second volume of The Sentimental Journey, 

Lyd. Heigh-ho ! — What are those books by the glass ? 

Lucy. The great one is only The Whole Duty of Man, where I 
press a few blonds, ma*am. 

Lyd, Very well — give me the sal volatile. 

Lucy. Is it in a blue cover, ma'am } 

Lyd, My smelling-bottle, you simpleton ! 

Lucy, Oh, the drops ; — here, ma'am. / 

Lyd, Hold ! — here 's some one coming — quick, see who it is. — 
Exit Lucy.]. Surely I heard my cousinJiilia*s voice. 

Re-Enter Lucv. 
Lucy, Lud ! ma'am, here is Miss Melville. 

Lyd. Is it possible ! — \^Exit Lucv. 


Enter Julia. 

Lyd. My dearest Julia, how delighted am I! — [Embrace,] How 
unexpected was this happiness ! 

y)//. True, Lydia, and our pleasure is the greater. — But what has 
been the matter i — you were denied to me at first ! 

Lyd, Ah, Julia, I have a thousand things to tell you ! — But first 
inform me what has conjured you to Bath ? Is Sir Antho ny 
_here ? 

JuL He is — we are arrived within this hour — and I suppose he 
will be here to wait on Af^rc Malapmp as soon as he is dressed 

Lyd, Then before we are interrupted, let me impart to you some 
of my distress ! — I know your gentle nature will sympathize with 
me, though your prudence may condemn me ! My letters have in- 
formed you of my whole connection vvith Beverley ! but I have lost 
him, Julia ! My aunt has discovered our intercourse by a note she 
intercepted, and has confined me ever since ! Yet, would you believe 
it ? she has absolutely fallen in love with a tall Irish baronet she met 
one night since we have been here, at Lady Macshuffle's rout. 

JuL You jest, Lydia ! 

Lyd. No, upon my word. She really carries on a kind of corre- 
spondence with him, under ajjdjin ed name thoug h, till she chooses 
to be known to him ; — but it is a Delia or a Celia, I assure you. 

JiiL Then, surely, she is now more indulgent to her niece. 

Lyd. Quite the contrary. Since she has discovered her own 
frailty, she is become more suspicious of mine. Then I must inform 
you of another plague ! — That odious Acres is to be in Bath to-day ; 
so that I protest I shall be teased out of all spirits ! 

Jul. Come, come, Lydia, hope for the best. — Sir Anthony shall 
use his interest with Mrs. Malaprop. 

Lyd. But you have not heard the worst. Unfortunately I ha 

A COM ED y. 95 

quarrelled with my poor Beverley, just before my aunt made the 
discovery, and I have not seen him since, to make it up. 
' Jul, What was his offence ? 

Lyd. Nothing at all ! — But I don't know bow it was, as often as 
we had been together, we had never had a quarrel, and, somehow, I 
was afraid he would never give me an opportunity. So, last Thurs- 
day, I wrote a letter to myself, to inform myself that Beverley was at 
that tipie paying his addresses to another woman. I signed it your 
friend unknown, showed it to Beverley, charged him with his false- 
hood, put myself in a violent passion, and vowed I 'd never see him 

Jul, And you let him depart so, and have not seen him since ? 

Lyd, 'Twas the next day my aunt found the matter out. I 
intended only to have teased him three days and a half, and now 
I 've lost him forever. 

Jul. If he is as deserving and sincere as you have represented 
him to me, he will never give you up so. Yet consider, Lydia, you 
tell me he is but an ensign, and you have thirty thousand pounds. 

Lyd. But you know I lose most of my fortune if I marry without 
my aunt's consent, till of age ; and that is what I have determined 
to do, ever since I knew the penalty. Nor could I love the man, 
who would wish to wait a day for the alternative. 

Jul, Nay, this is caprice ! 

Lyd, What, does Julia tax me with caprice ? — I thought her 
lover Faulkland had inured her to it. 

Jul, I do not love even his faults. 

Lyd. But apropos — you have sent to him, I suppose ? 

Jul. Not yet, upon my word — nor has he the least idea of my 
being in Bath. Sir Anthony's resolution was so sudden, I could not 
inform him of it 


Lyd. Well, Julia, you are your own mistress (though under the 
protection of Sir Anthony), yet have you, for this long year, been a 
slave to the caprice, the whim, the jealousy of this ungrateful Faulk- 
land, who will ever delay assuming the right of a husband, while you 
suffer him to be equally imperious as a lover. 

Jul, Nay, you are wrong entirely. We were contracted before 
my father's death. That, and some consequent embarrassments, 
have delayed what I know to be my Faulkland's most ardent wish. 
He is too generous to trifle on such a point : — and for his character, 
you wrong him there too. No, Lydia, he is too proud, too noble to 
be jealous ; if he is captious, *t is without dissembling ; if fretful, 
without rudeness. Unused to the fopperies of love, he is negligent 
of the little duties expected from a lover — but being unhackneyed 
in the passion, his affection is ardent and sincere ; and as it engrosses 
his whole soul, he expects every thought and emotion of his mistress 
to move in unison with his. Yet, though his pride calls for this full 
return, his humility makes him undervalue those qualities in him 
which would entitle him to it ; and not feeling why he should be 
loved to the degree he wishes, he still suspects that he is not loved 
enough. This temper, I must own, has cost me many unhappy 
hours ; but I have lenrned to think myself his debtor for 
imperfections which arise from the ardor of his attachment. 

Lyd. Well, I cannot blame \o\\ for defending him. But tell me 
candidly, Julia, had he never saved your life, do you think you should 
have been attached to him as you are ? — Believe me, the rude blast : 
that overset your boat was a prosperous gale of love to him. 

////. Gratitude may have strengthened my attachment to Mr — 
Faulkland, but I loved him before he had preserved me; yet surel>— 
that alone were an obligation sufficient. 

Lyd, Obligation I why a water-spaniel would have done as much ' 


— Well, I should never think of giving my heart to a man because 
he could swim. 

Jul. Come, Lydia, you are too inconsiderate. 

Lyd, Nay, I do but jest. — What *s here ? 

Re-Enter Lucy in a hurry. 

Lucy. O ma am, here is Sir Anthony Absolute just come home 
with your aunt. 

Lyd. They '11 not come here. — Lucy, do you watch. \Exit Lucy. 

Jul. Yet I must go. Sir Anthony does not know I am here, 
and if we meet, he '11 detain me, to show me the town. I '11 take 
another opportunity of paying my respects to Mrs. Malaprop, when 
she shall treat me, as long as she chooses, with her select words so 
ingeniously misapplied^ without being mispronounced. 

Re-Enter Lucy. 

Lucy. O Lud ! ma'am, they are both coming up stairs. 

Lyd. Well, I 'II not detain you, coz. — Adieu, my dear Julia, 
I'm sure you are in haste to send to Faulkland. — There — through 
my room you '11 find another staircase. 

Jul, Adieu ! {^Embraces LvoiA, and exit. 

Lyd. Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books. Quick, quick. — 

Fling Peregrine Pickle under the toilet — throw Roderick Random 

into the closet — put The Innocent Adultery into The Whole Duty 

of Man — thrust Lord Aimworth under the sofa — cram ^'/V/ behind 

the bolster — there — put the Man of Feeling into your pocket — so, 

so — now lay Mrs. Chapone in sight, and leave Fordyces Sermons 

open on the table. 

Lucy. Oh burn it, ma'am ! the hair-dresser has torn away as far 

as Proper Pride. 

Lyd. Never mind — open at Sobriety. — Fling me Lord Chester- 
field's Letters. — Now for 'em. [Exit Lucy. 

98 "^ THE RIVALS, 

Enter j/ivs, Malafk qp and Sir Anthony Absolute. 

Mrs. Mai, There, Sir Anthony, there sits the deliberate simple- 
ton who wants to disgrace her family, and lavish herself on a fellow 
not worth a shilling. 

Lyd, Madam, I thought you once 

Mrs, Mai, You thought, miss ! I don't know any business you 
have to think at all — thought does not become a young womanl 
But the point we would request of you is, that you v/ill promise to 
forget this fellow — to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory. 

Lyd, Ah, madam ! our memories are independent of our wills. 
It is not so easy to forget. 

Mrs, Mai, But I say it is, miss ; there is nothing on earth so 
easy as to forget y if a person chooses to set about it. Tm sure I have 
as much forgot your poor dear uncle as if he had never existed — 
and I tliought it my duty so to do ; and let me tell you, Lydia, these 
violent memories don't become a young woman. 

Sir AntJi. Why sure she won't pretend to remember what she's 
ordered not ! — ay, this comes of her reading ! 

Lyd. What crime, madam, have I committed, to be treated 
thus } 

Mrs. Mai. Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the 
matter; you know I have proof controvertible of it. — But tell me. 
Will you promise to do as you 're bid } Will you take a husband of 
your friends' choosing } 

Lyd. Madam, I must tell you plainly, that had I no preference 
for any one else, the choice you have made would be my aversion. 

Mrs. Mai. What business have you, miss, with preference and 
aversion I They don't become a young woman ; and you ought to 
know, that as both always wear off, 't is safest in matrimony to begin 
with a little aversion. I am sure 1 hated your poor dear uncle before 


marriage as if he'd been a blackamoor — and yet, miss, you are sen- 
sible what a wife I made ! — and when it pleased Heaven to release 
me from him, 'tis unknown what tears I shed! — But suppose we 
were going to give you another choice, will you promise us to give 
up this Beverley ? 

Lyd, Could I belie my thoughts so far as to give that promise, 
my actions would certainly as far belie my words. 

Mrs, Mai, Take yourself to your room. — You are fit company 
for nothing but your own ill-humors. 

Lyd, Willingly, ma'am. — I cannot change for the worse. [Exit. 

Mrs, Mai, There 's a little intricate hussy for you ! 

Sir Antk, It is not to be wondered at, ma'am, — all this is the 
natural consequence of t eaching girls to read. Had \ a ^hnusap d 
d i i"g'^t^*"r^ Ky i-f^>iiro« f T M ^c| «^p/^p }^^t,o th^"^ tailtrht th^-^^"^^' """^ 
ast heir alph abet ! 

Mrs, Mai, Nay, nay. Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misan- 

Sir Antk, In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I observed your 
niece's maid coming* forth from a circulating library ! — She had a 
book in each hand — they were half-bound volumes, with marble 
covers ! — from that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see 
her mistress ! 

Mrs. Mai. Those are vile places, indeed ! 

Sir Anth. Madam, a circulating library in a town is as an ever- 
green tree of diabolical knowledge ! It blossoms through the year ! 
— and depend on it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of 
handling the leaves will long for the fruit at last. 

Mrs. Mai. Fy, fy, Sir Anthony ! you surely speak laconically. 

Sir Antk. Why, Mrs. Malaprop, in moderation, now, what would 
you have a woman know ? 


Mrs. Mai Observe me, Sir Anthony. I would bjr no means wish 
a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning ; I don't think so 
much learning becomes a young woman ; for instance, I would never 
^ let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or Algebra, or Simony, or* 
Fluxions, or Paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning — 
neither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathe- 
matical, astronomical, diabolical instruments — But, Sir Anthony, I 
* would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to 
learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a 
supercilious knowledge in accounts; — and as she grew up, I would 
have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of 
I the contagious countries ; — but above all. Sir Anthony, she should 
be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not mis-spell, and mis-pn>- 
i nounce words so shamefully as girls usually do ; and likewise that 
V* she might rguidbuind the true meaning of what she is saying. This, 
Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know; — and I don't 
think there is a superstitious article in it. 

Sir Anth, Well, well, Mrs. Malaprop, I will dispute the point 
no further with you ; though I must confess that you are a truly 
moderate and polite arguer, for almost every third word you say is on 
my side of the question. But, Mrs. Malaprop, to the more important 
point in debate — you say you have no objection to my proposal? 

Mrs. MaL None, I assure you. I am under no gositiye engage- 
.mcnt with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia is so obstinatfe^againstjiim, 
perhaps your son may have better success. 

Sir Anth. Well, madam, I will write for the boy directly. He 
knows not a syllable of this yet, though I have for some time had 
the proposal in my head. He is at present with his regiment. 

Mrs. Mai We have never seen your son, Sir Anthony; but L 
hope no objection on his side. 




Sir Anth, Objection! — let him object if he dare! — No, no, 
Mrs. Malaprop, Jack Jcnows that the least demur puts me in a frenzy 
directly. My process was always very simple — iu their younger 
days 't was *' Jack, do this ; " — if he demurred, I knocked him down 

— and if he grumbled at that, I always sent him out of the 

Mrs, Mai. Ay, and the properest way, o' my conscience I — 
nothing is so conciliating to young people as severity. — Well, Sir 
Anthony, I shall give Mr. Acres his discharge, and prepare Lydia to 
receive your son's invocations ; — and I hope you will represent her 
to the captain as an object not altogether illegible. 

Sir Atith. Madam, I will handle the subject prudently. — Well, I 
must leave you ; and let me beg you, Mrs. Malaprop, to enforce this 
matter roundly to the girl. — Take my advice — keep a tight hand : 
if she rejects this proposal, clap her under lock and key ; and if you 
were just to let the servants forget to bring her dinner for three or 
four days, you can't conceive how she 'd come about. 

[Exit Sir Antii. 

Mrs. Mai. Well, at any rate I shall be glad to get her from under ^ 
my intuition. She has somehow discovered my partiality for Sir — ^ 
Lucius OTrigge r — sure, Lucy can't have betrayed me I — No, the 
girl is such a simpleton, I should have made her confess it. — Lucy ! 

— Lucy! — \Calls.'\ Had she been one of your artificial ones, I 
should never have trusted hen 

Re-Enter Lucy. 
Luey. Did you call, ma'am } 

Mrs. Mai. Yes, girl. — Did you sec Sir Lucius while you was 

Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am, not a glimpse of him. 

Mrs. Mai. You are sure, Lucy, that you never mcntioned- 



Lucy. Oh Gemini ! I 'd sooner cat my tongue out 

Mrs. Mai. Well. don*t let your simplicity be imposed on. 

Lucy. No» ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. So, come to me presently, and 1 11 give you another 
letter to Sir Lucius ; but mind, Lu<^ — if ever you betray what you 
are entrusted with (unless it be other people's secrets to me), you 
forfeit my mateyQl gnce forever ; and your being a simpleton shall be 
no excuse for your locality. [Exit Mrs. Mal. 

Lucy. Ha ! ha ! ha ! — So, my dear Simplicity, let me give you a 
little respite. — [Alieriug her manner^ Let girls in my station be as 
fond as they please of appearing expert, and knowing in their 
trusts ; commend me to a mask of silliness and a pair of sharp eyes 
for my own interest under it ! — Let me see to what account have I 
turned my simplicity lately. — \Loois at a papcr!\ For abetting Miss 
Lydia La nguish i n a_dcsijjii_Q£_rJUUiins^^ away with an ensi ^i ! — in 
money ^ sundry times ^ twelve pounds twehe ; gowns^five ; hats^rtiffles^ 
capSy &e, &c.y numberless ! — From the said ensign, within this last 
month, six guineas and a half, — about a quarter s pay! — Item, 
from Mrs. Mal a prop, for betraying the young people to her — when I 
found matters were likely to be discovered — two guineas, and a black 
padusoy. — Item, from Mr. Aeres, for carrying divers letters — which 
I never delivered — iivo guineas, and a pair of buckles, — Item, from 
Sir Lucius O' Ttigger, three crowns, two gold pocket-pieces ^ and a silver 
snuff-box I — Well done, Simplicity! — Yet I was forced to make my 
Hibernian believe that he was corresponding, not with the aunt^ but 
with the niece: for though not over rich, I found he had too much 
pride and delicacy to sacrifice the feelings of a gentleman to the 
necessities of his fortune, [-^^^ 

A COMEDY. 103 


Scene I. — Captain Absolute's Lodgings. 
Captajn Absolute and Fag. 

Fag. Sir, while I was there Sir^ Anthony came in : I told him, 
you had sent me to inquire after his health, and to know if he was at 
leisure to see you. 

Abs. And what did he say, on hearing that I was at Bath } 

Fag, Sir, in my life I never saw an elderly gentleman more 
astonished ! He started back two or three paces, rapped out a dozen 
interjectural oaths, and asked what the devil had brought you here. 

Abs. Well, sir, -and what did you say } 

Fag. Oh, I Ijed, sir — I forget the precise lie ; but you may depend 
on 't, he got no truth from me. Yet, with submission, for fear of 
blunders in future, I should be glad to fix what has brought us to 
Bath ; in order that we may lie a little consistently. Sir Anthony's 
servants were curious, sir, very curious indeed. 

Abs. You have said nothing to them ? 

Fag. Oh, not a word, sir, — not a word ! Mr. Thomas, indeed, 
the coachman (whom I take to be the discreetest of whips) 

Abs. *Sdeath ! — you rascal ! you have not trusted him ! 

Fag. Oh, nOi sir — no — no — not a syllable, upon my veracity! 
— he was, indeed, a little inquisitive; but I was sly, sir — devilish 
sly! M^_iQaster (said I), hoae^t Thomas, (you know, sir, one says 
fumest to one's inferiors,) i&^cgme to Bath to recruit — yes sir, I 
,said to ncruit — and whether for men, money, or constitution, 
you know, sir, is nothing to him, nor anyone else. 


A6s, Well, recruit will do — let it be so. 

Fag. Oh, sir, recruit will do surprisingly — indeed, to give the 
thing an air, I told Thomas, that your honor had already enlisted five 
disbanded chairmen, seven minority waiters, and thirteen billiard- 

Abs, You blockhead, never say more than is necessary. 
I Fag, I beg pardon, sir — I beg pardon — but, with submission, a 

lie is nothing unless one supports it. Sir, whenever I draw on my 
invention for a good current lie, I always forge indorsements as well 
as the bill. 
1 Abs, Well, take care you don't hurt your credit, by offering too 

much security. — Is Mr. Faulkland returned ? 

Fag, He is above, sir, changing his dre^s. 

Abs. Can you tell whether he has been informed of Sir Anthony's 
and Miss Melville's arrival ? 

Fag. I fancy not, sir ; he has seen no one since he came in but 
his gentleman, who was with him at Bristol. — I think, sir, I hear 
Mr. Faulkland coming down 

Abs. Go tell him I am here. 

Fag. Yes, sir. — [Goijig.'] I beg pardon, sir, but should Sir 
Anthonv call, vou will do me the favor to remember that we are 
recruiting, if you please. 

Abs. Well, well. 

Fag. And, in tenderness to my character, if your honor could 
bring in the chairmen and waiters, I should esteem it as an obliga- 
tion ; for thoni;h I never scruple to lie to serve my master, yet it — 
hurts one's conscience tf> be found out. \Exit — 

Abs. Now for mv whimsical friend — if he does not kno>^^ 
that his mistress is here, I'll tease him a little before I teL^ 
him — 


Enter Faulkland. 
Faulkland, you're welcome to Bath again ; you are punctual in your 

Faulk. Yes ; I had nothing to detain me, when I had finished 
the business I went on. Well, what news since I left you } How 
stand matters between you and Lydia } 

Abs, Faith, much as they were; I have not seen her since our 
quarrel ; however, I expect to be recalled every hour. 

Faulk, Why don't you persuade her to go off with you at once ? 

Abs, What, a nd lose two-third s of her fortune } you forget that,^ , 
itcj friend. — No, no, I could have brought her to that long ago. 

Faulk, Nay then, you trifle too long — if you are sure of hcr^ 
propose to the aunt in your own character, and write to Sir Anthony 
for his consent. 

Abs, Softly, softly ; for though I am convinced my little Lydia 
would elope with me as Ensign Beverley, yet I am by no means cer- 
tain that she would take me with the impediment of our friends' 
consent, a regular humdrum wedding, and the reversion of a good 
fortune on my side : no, no ; I must prepare her gradually for the 
discovery, and make myself necessary to her, before I risk it. — 
Well, but Faulkland, you *11 dine with us to-day at the hotel } 

Faulk, Indeed I cannot ; I am not in spirits to be of such a 

Abs, By heavens ! I shall forswear your company. You are the 
most teasing, captious, incorrigible lover ! — Do love like a man. 

Faulk, I own I am unfit for company. 

Abs. Am not / a lover ; ay, and a romantic one too } Yet do I 
carry everywhere with me such a confounded farrago of doubts, 
fears, hopes, wishes, and all the flimsy furniture of a country miss'.s 



Faulk. Ah ! Jack, your heart and aool are oot, like minep fiaed 
hnmutaMy oo one only object Yoo thnnr lor a higie staki^ baft 
fesinsb yoa couM stake and throw agsun : — but I have set my smn 
of happinctt on this cast, and ool to snccecd were to be atrqiped 

Abs. But, for Heaven's sake I what grovnds lor apprehension 
can yonr whimsical btain conjure op at present? 

Faulk. What gronnds for apprehension, did yon say ? HeavensI 
are there not a thousand I I fear for her spirits — her health — her 
life.— My absence may fret her; her anxiety for my return, her 
fears for me may oppress her gentle temper : and for her health, 
does not every hour bring me cause to be alarmed ? If it rains^ 
some shower may even then have chOled her delicate frame ! If 
the wind be keen, some rude blast may have a£Fected her! The heat 
of noon, the dews of the evening, may endanger the life of her, for 
whom only I value mine. O Jack ! when delicate and feeling souls 
are separated, there is not a feature in the sky, not a movement of 
the elements, not an aspiration of the breeze, but hints some cause for 
a lover's apprehension ! 

Abs, Ay, but we may choose whether we will take the hint or 
not. — So, then, Faiilkland, if you were convinced that Julia were 
well and in spirits, you would be entirely content ? 

Faulk, I should be happy beyond measure — I am anxious only 
for that. 

Abs. Then to cure your anxiety at once — Miss Melville is in 
perfect health, and is at this moment in Bath. 

Faulk, Nay, Jack — don't trifle with me. 

Abs, She is arrived here with my father within this hour. 

Faulk, Can you be serious } 

Abs, I thought you knew Sir Anthony better than to be sur- 

A COMEDY. 107 

prised at a sudden whim of this kind. — Seriously, then, it is as I tell 

you — upon my honor. 

Faulk. My dear friend ! — Hollo, Du Peigne ! my hat. — My 

dear Jack — now nothing on earth can give me a moment's 


Re-Enter Fag. 

Fag, Sir, Mr. Acres, just arrived, is below. 

Abs, Stay, Faulkland, this Acres lives within a mile of Sir 
Anthony, and he shall tell you how your mistress has been ever 
since you left her. — Fag, show the gentleman up. [Exit Fag. 

Faulk. What, is he much acquainted in the family } 

Abs. Oh, very intimate : I insist on your not going : besides, his 
character will divert you. 

Faulk. Well, I should like to ask him a few questions. 

Abs. He is likewise a rival of mine— vt hat i s, ot my^pt/ier sclfs 
for he. does not jhink his friend Capta ii L Ab*^^^"*^^ ^^^^'^ ^"'" ^^^ lady 
in qu estion ; and it is ridiculous enou gh to hear .hi.m,camplaia tome 

Faulk. Hush ! — he 's here. 

Enter Acres. 

Acres. Ha ! my dear friend, noble captain, and honest Jack, how 
do'st thou } just arrived, faith, as you see. — Sir, your humble ser- 
vant. — Warm work on the roads, Jack ! — Odds whips and wheels ! 
I Ve travelled like a comet, with a tail of dust all the way as long as 
the Mall 

Abs. Ah ! Bob, you are indeed an eccentric planet, but we know 
your attraction hither. — Give me leave to introduce Mr. Faulkland 
to you *, Mr. Faulkland, Mr. Acres. 

Acres. Sir, I am most heartily glad to see you : sir, I solicit your 
connections. — Hey, Jack — what, this is Mr. Faulkland, who 


Abi. Ay, Bob^ Miss Mdvfllc's llr. FaidkfaiML 
AcreM. Od'so ! she and your father can be but just arrived bcfaie 
me: — I suppose you have seen them. Ah! llr FanlkJand, yon 

are indeed a happy man. 

Faulk. I have not seen Miss Melville yet, sir; — I hope she 
enjoyed full health and spiriu in Devonshure? 

Acm. Never knew her better in my Iife^ ur, — never better. 
Odds Uushes and blooms ! she has been as healthy as the German 
Spa. * 

Faulk. Indeed ! — I did hear that she had been a little indisposed 

Acres. False, false, sir — only said to vex you : quite the reverse^ 
I assure yoa 

Faulk. There, Jack, you see she has the advantage of me ; I had 
almost fretted myself ill. 

Abs, Nr)w arc you angry with your mistress for not having been 
ftick } 

Faulk, No, no, you misunderstand me : yet surely a little trifling 
indisj)osilion is not an unnatural consequence of absence from those 
wc love. — Now confess — is n*t there something unkind in this 
violent, robust, unfeeling health ? 

Ahs, Oh, it was very unkind of her to be well in your absence, to 
be sure ! 

Acns. Ciood apartments. Jack. 

Faulk, Well, sir, but you were saying that Miss Melville has 
been so cxccvdifif;ly well — what then, she has been merry and gay, 
I suppose } — Always in spirits — hey ? 

Acres, Merry, odds crickets ! she has been the belle and spirit of 
the company wherever she has been — so lively and entertaining ! 
so full of wit and humor ! 

Faulk\ There, Jack, there. — Oh, by my soul I there is an innate 

A COMEDY. 109 

levity in woman, that nothing can overcome. — What ! happy, and I 
away I 

Abs, Have done ! — How foolish this is ! just now you were only 
apprehensive for your mistress's spirits. 

Faulk. Why, Jack, have I been the joy and spirit of the com- 
pany ? 

Abs. No indeed, you have not. 

Faulk. Have I been lively and entertaining ? 

Abs. Oh, upon my word, I acquit you. 

Faulk. Have I been full of wit and humor } 

Abs. No, faith, to do you justice, you have been confoundedly 
stupid indeed. 

Acres. What 's the matter with the gentleman } 

Abs. He is only expressing his great satisfaction at hearing that 
Julia has been so well and happy — that *s all — hey, Faulkland } 

Faulk. Oh ! I am rejoiced to hear it — yes, yes, she has a happy 
disposition ! 

Acres. That she has indeed — then she is so accomplished — so 
sweet a voice — so expert at her harpsichord — such a mistress of 
flat and sharp, squallante, rumblante, and quiverante ! — There was 
this time month — ^Odds minims and crotchets ! how she did chirrup 
at Mrs. Piano's concert f 

Faulk. There again, what say you to this } you see she has been 
all mirth and song — not a thought of me ! 

Abs. Pho ! man, is not music the food of love ? 

Faulk. Well, well, it may be so. — Pray, Mr. , what 's his 

damned name? — Do you remember what songs Miss Melville 

Acres. Not I indeed. 

Abs. Stay, now, they were some pretty melancholy purling- 


Stream airs, I warrant; perhaps you may recollect; — did she sing, 
When absent from my soul's delight? 

Acres, No, that wa'n't it. 

Abs. Or, Go, gentle gales ! — Go, gentle gales ! [Sings. 

Acres. Oh, no ! nothing like it. Odds ! now I recollect one of 
them — My heart *s my own, my will is free. [Sings. 

Faidk. Fool ! fool that I am ! to fix all my happiness on such a 
trifler ! 'Sdeath ! to make herself the pipe and ballad-monger of a 
circle ! to soothe her light heart with catches and glees ! — What 
can you say to this, sir ? 

Abs. Why, that I should be glad to hear my mistress had been so 
merry, sir. 

Faulk. Nay, nay, nay — I*m not sorry that she has been happy 
— no, no, I am glad of that — I would not have had her sad or 
sick — yet surely a sympathetic heart would have shown itself 
oven in the choice of a song — she might have been temperately 
healthy, and somehow, plaintively gay; — but she has been danc- 
ing too, I doubt not ! 

Acres. What does the gentleman say about dancing ? 

Abs. He says the lady we speak of dances as well as she sings. 

Acres. Ay, truly, docs she — there was at our last race ball 

Faulk. Hell and the devil I There I there — I told you so ! I 
tuld vou sol Oh I she thrives in my absence ! — Dancing! but 
her whole fcclin^^s have been in opposition with mine; — I have 
been anxious, silent, pensive, scdentar\' — my days have been hours 
of care, my nights of watchfuhK>s. — She ha:^ been all health! spirit I 
laugh ! song 1 dance ! — Oh I danincd, damned levity ! 

Abs. For Heaven's sake, Faulkland, don't expose yourself so! — 
Suppose she has danced, what then ? - - does not the ceremony of 
society often oblige 


Faulk. Well, well, I '11 contain myself — perhaps as you say — for 
form sake. — What, Mr. Acres, you were praising Miss Melville's 
manner of dancing a minuet — hey ^ 

Acres. Oh, I dare insure her for that — but what I was going to 
speak of was her country-daucing. Odds swimmings ! she has such 
an air with her ! 

Faulk, Now disappointment on her! — Defend this, Absolute; 

why don't you defend this.^ — Country-dances! jigs and reels! am I 

to blame now ? A minuet I could have forgiven — I should not have 

iTiinded that — I say I should not have regarded a minuet — but 

^^^nntry-dances ! — Zounds! had she made one in a cotillion — I 

t>cilieve I could have forgiven even that — but to be monkey-led for a 

^^i^ht! — to run the gauntlet through a string of amorous palming 

I^^«j)pies! — to show paces like a managed filly! — Oh, Jack, there 

'^ <^ ^er can be but one man in the world whom a truly modest and 

"Plicate woman ought to pair with in a country-dance ; and, even 

*^ ^in, the rest of the couples should be her great-uncles and aunts ! 

Abs. Ay, to be sure ! — grandfathers and grandmothers ! 

Faulk. If there be but one vicious mind in the set 't will spread 

* ^ a contagion — the action of their pulse beats to the lascivious 

vement of the jig — their quivering, warm-breathed sighs impreg- 

:e the very air — the atmosphere becomes electrical to love, and 

:h amorous spark darts through every link of the chain ! — I must 

^^.ve you — I own I am somewhat flurried — and that confounded 

^^by has perceived it. [Going, 

Abs. Nay, but stay, Faulkland, and thank Mr. Acres for his good 

Faulk. Damn his news I [Exit. 

Abs. Ha! ha! ha! poor Faulkland, five minutes since — "noth- 
ing on earth could give him a moment's uneasiness ! " 


Acrts. The gentleman wa'n't angiy at my praiung bis misCress, 
was he? 

Ahs. A little jealous, I believe^ Bob. 

Atrts, You don't say so ? Ha, ha t jealous of me — that 's a 
good joke. 

Abs. There 's nothing strange in that. Bob ; let me teH you, that 
q}rigbtly grace and insinuating manber of yours will do some mis- 
chief among the giris here. 

Acns. Ahl you joke — hal ha! mischii^t — hat lul but you 
know I am not my own property, my dear Lydia has forestalled me. 
She could never abide roe io the country/because I used to dress ju> 
badly — but odds frogs and tambours I I shan't take matters so here, 
now ancient madam has no voice in it : I 'U make my old clothes 
know who's master. I shall straightway cashier the hunting-frock, 
and render my leather breeches incapable. My hair has been in 
training some time. 

Abs. Indeed ! 

Acres. Ay — and iho'ff the side curls are a little restive, my 
hind-part takes it very kindly. 

Abs. Oh, you'll polish, I doubt not. 

Acres. Absolutely I propose so — then if I can find out this 
Ensign Beverley, odds triggers and flints ! I '11 make him know the 
difference o't. 

Abs. Spoke like a man ! But pray, Boh, I observe you have got 
an odd kind of n new method of swearing 

Aars. Ha ! ha ! you 'vc taken notice of it — 't is genteel is n't it ? 
— I didn't invent it myself though ; but a commander in our militia, 
a great scholar, I assure you, s.iys that there is no meaning in the 
common oaths, and that nothing but their antiquity makes then 
respectable ; — because, he says, the ancients would never stick to 

A COMEDY. 113 

an oath or two, but would say, by Jove ! or by Bacchus ! or by Mars ! 
or by Venus I or by Pallas ! according to the sentiment : so that to 
swear with propriety, says my little major, the oath should be an 
echo to the sense ; and this we call the oath referential or sentiment 
ial swearing — ha ! ha ! 't is genteel, is n't it ? 

Abs, Very genteel, and very new, indeed ! — and I dare say will 
supplant all other figures of imprecation. 

Acres, Ay, ay, the best terms will grow obsolete. — Damns have 

had their day. 

Re-Enter Fag. 

Fag, Sir, there is a gentleman below desires to see you. — Shall I 
show him into the parlor ? 

Abs. Ay — you may. 

Acres, Well, I must be gone 1 

Abs, Stay ; who is it, Fag } 

Fag. Your father, sir. 

Abs. You puppy, why did n't you show him up directly } 

^ {Exit Fag. 

Acres, You have business with Sir Anthony. — I expect a mes- 
sage from Mrs. Malaprop at my lodgings. I have sent also to 
my dear friend Sir Lucius O'Trigger. Adieu, Jack ! we must 
meet at night, when you shall give me a dozen bumpers to little 

Abs, That I will with all my heart. — \Exit Acres.] Now for a 
parental lecture — I hope he has heard nothing of the business that 
has brought me here — I wish the gout had held him fast in Devon- 
shire, with all my soul ! 

Enter Sir Anthony Absolute. 
Sir, I am delighted. to see you here : looking so well! your sudden 
arrival at Bath made me apprehensive for your health. 


Sir Anth. Ver)* apprehensive, I dare say. Jack. — Wliat, you are 
recruiting here, he)' ? 

Abi. Yes, sir, I am on dutv. 

Sir Anth, Well, Jack, I am glad to sec you, though I did not 
expect it, for I was going to write you on a little matter of business. 
— Jack, I have been considering that I grew old and infirm, and 
shall probably not trouble ycu long. 

Abs. Pardon me, sir, I never saw you look more strong and 
hearty ; and I pray frequently that you may continue so. 

Sir Anth. I hope your prayers may be heard, with all my heart. 
Well then, Jack, I have been considering that I am so strong and 
hearty I may continue to plague you a long time. — Now, Jack, I am 
sensible that the income of your commission, and what I have 
hitherto allowed you, is but a small pittance for a lad of your spirit. 

Abs. Sir, you arc very good. 

Sir Aiitli. And it is my wish, while yet I live, to have my boy 
make some fi;;ure in the world. I have resolved, therefore, to fix 
you at once in a noble independence. 

Abs. Sir, your kindness overpowers mc — such generosity makes 
the gratitude of reason more lively than the sensations even of filial 

Sir Auth. I am ^^lad you arc so sensible of my attention — and 
you sliall be master of a lar^^c estate in a few weeks. 

Abs. Let my future life, sir, speak my gratitude; I cannot express 
tlie sense I have of your munificence. — Yet, sir, I presume you 
would not wish me to cjiiit the army } 

Sir Anth. Oh, that shall be as your wife chooses. 

Abs. My wife, sir ! 

Sir Aiitli. Ay, ay, settle that between you — settle that be- 
tween you. 

A COMEDY. 115 

Abs. A wife, sir, did you say ? 

Sir Anth. Ay, a wife — why, did not I mention her before ? 

Abs. Not a word of her, sir. 

Sir Anth, Odd so ! — I must n't forget her though. — Yes, Jack, 
the independence I was talking of is by marriage — the fortune 
is saddled with a wife — but I suppose that makes no difference. 

Abs. • Sir ! sir ! — you amaze me ! 

Sir Anth. Why, what the devil 's the matter with the fool ? Just 
now you were all gratitude and duty. 

Abs. I was, sir, — you talked to me of independence and a for- 
tune, but not a word of a wife. 

Sir Anth. Why — what difference does that make.^ Odds life, 
sir ! if you have the estate, you must take it with the live-stock on 
it, as it stands. 

Abs, If my happiness is to be the price, I must beg leave to 
decline the purchase. — Pray, sir, who is the lady } 

Sir Anth. What *s that to you, sir ? Come, give me your promise 
t:o love, and to marry her directly. 

Abs. Sure, sir, this is not very reasonable to summon my affec- 
tions for a Jady I know nothing of ! 

Sir Anth. I am sure, sir, 't is more unreasonable in you to object 
to a lady you know nothing of. 

Abs. Then, sir, I must tell you plainly that my inclinations are 
fixed on another — my heart is engaged to an angel. 

Sir Anth. Then pray let it send an excuse. It is very sorry — 
but business prevents its waiting on her. 

Abs. But my vows are pledged to her. 

Sir Anth. Let her foreclose, Jack ; let her foreclose ; they arc ^ 
not worth redeeming; besides, you have the angcFs vows in c> 
change, I suppose ; so there can be no loss there. 


Ah. You must cMuse me. sir, if I tell yoo, once for all, that in 
this poiot I caDDOt obey you. 

SirAHlk. Hark'ee, Jack ; — I have heard you for some time wttti 
patience — I liave been cool — quite coed; but take care — you 
Icnowlam compliance itself — when I am not thwarted; — no one 
more easily led — wlien I have uy own way;— but don't put me in 
a frenzy. ' 

AAt, Sir, I must repeat it — in this I cannot obey you. 

&> AntJt. Now damn me I if ever I call you Jack again while I 
live! . 

Ait. Nay, ur, hut hear me. 

Sir Anih. Sir, I won't hear a word — not a word I not one word I 
so give me your promise by a nod — and I *U tell you what, Jack — 
I mean, you dog — if you don't, by 

Abs. What, sir, promise to link myself to some mass of ugliness ! 

Sir Anth. Zotinds ! sirrah ! the lady shall be as ugly as I choose : 
she shall have a hump on each shoulder I she shall be as crooked as 
the Crescent ; her one eye shall roll like the bull's in Cox's Museum ; 
she shall have a skin like a mummy, and the beard of a Jew — she 
shall be all this, sirrah ! ~ yet I will make you ogle her all day, and 
sit up all night to write sonnets on her beauty. 

Abs. This is reason and moderation indeed t 

Sir Anth. None of your sneering, puppy! no grinning, jacka- 
napes ! 

Abs. Indeed, sir, I never was in a worse humor for mirth in my 

Sir Anth. 'Tis false, sir, I know yon are laughing in your 
teeve; I know you'll grin when 1 am gone, sirrah t 
**^ Abs. Sir, I hope I know my duty better. 

A COMEDY. iiy 

Sir A^ilL^ ii o i^G of your paooi on^ sir ! none of your violence, if 
you please ! — It won't do with me, I promise you. 

A6s, Indeed, sir, I never w^as cooler in my life. 
Sir Anth, 'Tis a confounded lie! — I know you are in a passion 
in your heart ; I know you arc, you hypocritical young dog ! but it 
won't do. 

Abs. Nay, sir, upon my word 

Sir Ant/u So you will fly out ! can't you be cool like me ? What 
the devil good can passion do ? — Passion is of no service, you 


impudent, insolent, overbearing reprobate ! — There, you sneer 
again! — don't provoke me! — but you rely upon the mildness of 
my temper — you do, you dog ! you play upon the meekness of my 
disposition! — Yet take care — the patience of a saint may be 
overcome at last! — but mark! I give you six hours and a half to 
consider of this: if you then agree, without any condition, to do 
everj'thing on earth that I choose, why — confound you! I may in 
time forgive you. — If not, zounds ! don't enter the same hemisphere 
with me ! don't dare to breathe the same air or use the same lisfht 
with me ; but get an atmosphere and sun of your own ! I '11 strip 
you of your commission ; I *11 lodge a five-and-threepence in the 
hands of trustees, and you shall live on the interest. — I '11 disown 
you, I '11 disinherit you, I Ml unget you ! and damn me ! if ever I call 
you Jack again ! [Exit Sir Anth. 

Abs. Mild, gentle, considerate father — I kiss your hands! — 
What a tender method of giving his opinion in these matters Sir 
Anthony has ! I dare not trust him with the truth. — I wonder what 
old wealthy hag it is that he wants to bestow on mc ! — Yet he mar- 
pVfl i^jipcj^if fr>|» ]py|> I ^{^(1 ^y^3 {|^ \^\r^ youth a bold intriguer, and a 

gay companion I 


Re-Enter Fag. 

Fag, Assuredly, sir, your father is wrath to a degree; he comes 
down stairs eight or ten steps at a time — muttering, growling, and 
thumping the banisters all the way : I and the cook's dog stand 
bowing at the door — rap ! he gives me a stroke on the head with 
his cane ; bids me carry that to my master ; then kicking the poor 
turnspit into the area, damns us all, for a puppy triumvirate! — Upon 
my credit, sir, were I in your place, and found my father such very 
bad company, I should certainly drop his acquaintance. 

Abs, Cease your impertinence, sir, at present. — Did you come in 
for nothing more } — Stand out of the way. 

[Pushes him aside, and exit. 

Fag. Soh ! Sir Anthony trims my master : he is afraid to reply 
to his father — then vents his spleen on poor Fag! — When one is 
vexed by one person, to revenue one's self on another, who happens 
to come in the way, is the vilest injustice ! Ah! it shows the worst 

temper — the basest 

Enter Errand Bo v. 

Boy, Mr. Fa,i; ! Mr. Fag ! your master calls you. 

Fag, Well, you little dirty puppy, you need not bawl so! — The 
meanest disposition ! the 

Boy. Quick, quiclc, ^Ir. Fag ! 

Fng. Quick ! quick I you impudent jackanapes ! am I to be 
commanded by you too? you little impertinent, insolent, kitchen- 

[Exit licking and beating him. 

A COMEDY. 119 

Scene II. — The North Parade, 

Enter Lucv. 
Lucy, So — I shall have another rival to add to my mistress's list 
— <^aptafn AKcnlnt-#> However, I shall not enter his name till my 
purse has received notice in form. Poor Acres is dismissed ! — 
Well, I have done him a last friendly office, in letting him know that 
Beverley was here before him. — Sir Lucius is generally more punc- 
tual, when he expects to hear from his dear Dalia^ as he calls her : I 
wonder he 's not here I — I have a little scruple of conscience from 
this deceit ; though I should not be paid so well, if my hero knew 
thsX jDjdia w as near fifty, and her own mistress. 

Enter Sir Lucius O'Trigger. 

Sir Luc, Ha ! my little ambassadress — upon my conscience, I 
have been looking for you ; I have been on the South Parade this 
half hour. 

Lucy, [Speaking simply.^ O gemini ! and I have been waiting 
for your worship here on the North. 

Sir Luc. Faith ! — may be that was the reason we did not meet ; 
and it 's very comical too, how you could go out and I not see you — 
for I was only taking a nap at the Parade Coffee-house, and I chose 
the window on purpose that I might not miss you. 

Lticy. My stars ! Now I 'd wager a sixpence I went by while 
you were asleep. 

Sir Luc. Sure enough it must have been so — and I never dreamt 
it was so late, till I waked. Well, but my little girl, have you got 
nothing for mt f 

Lucy. Yes, but I have — I 've got a letter for you in my pocket. 

Sir Luc. O faith! I guessed you weren't come empty-handed — 
well — let me Mtf what the dear creature says. 


Lucy, There, Sir Lucius. \Gives him a letter. 

Sir Luc, [Reads.] Sir — there is often a sudden ifuentive impulse 
in lovCf that has a greater induction than years of domestic combipta- 
tion : such was the commotion I felt at the first superfluous view of Sir 
Lucius O' Trigger. — Very pretty, upon my word. — Female punctu- 
ation forbids me to say more, yet let me add, that it will give me joy 
infallible to find Sir Lucius worthy the last criterion of my affections. 

Upon my conscience ! Lucy, your lady is a great mistress of language. 
Faith, she 's quite the queen of the dictionary ! — for the devil a word 
dare refuse coming to her call — though one would think it was quite 
out of hearing. 

Lucy, Ay, sir, a lady of her experience 

Sir Luc. Experience } what, at seventeen ? 

Lucy. O true, sir — but then she reads so — my stars! how she 
will read off hand ! 

Sir Luc. Faith, she must be very deep read to write this way — 
though she is rather an arbitrary writer too — for here are a great 
many poor words pressed into the service of this note that would get 
their habeas corpus from any court in Christendom. 

Lucy. Ah ! Sir Lucius, if you were to hear how she talks of you ! 

Sir Luc. Oil, tell her I'll make her the best husband in the 
world, and Lady OTrigg^.jj)to the bargain ! — But we must get the 
old gentlcwoman^s consent — and do everything fairly. 

Lucy. Nay, Sir Lucius, I thought you wa'n't rich enough to be 
so nice ! 

Sir Luc. Upon my word, young woman, you have hit it : — I am 
so poor, that I can't afford to do a dirty action. — If I did not 
want money, I 'd steal your mistress and her fortune with a great 
deal of pleasure. — However, my pretty girl, \Givcs her money] 

A COMEDY, 121 

here 's a little something to buy you a ribbon ; and meet me in the 
evening, and I *11 give you an answer to this. So, hussy, take a kiss 
beforehand to put you in mind. {Kisses her, 

Lucy, O Lud ! Sir Lucius — I never seed such a gemman. My 
lady won't like you if you 're so impudent. 

Sir Lite, Faith she will, Lucy ! — That same — pho ! what 's the 
name of it.^ — modesty — is a quality in a lover more praised by the 
women than liked ; so, if your mistress asks you whether Sir Lucius 
ever gave you a kiss, tell her fifty — my dear. 

Lticy, What, would you have me tell her a lie } 

Sir Luc, Ah, then, you baggage ! I '11 make it a truth presently. 

Lucy, For shame now ! here is some one coming. 

Sir Luc, Oh, faith, I '11 quiet your conscience ! 

[Sees Fag, — Exity humming a tune. 

Enter Fag. 

Fag, So, so, ma'am ! I humbly beg pardon. 

Lucy, O Lud ! now Mr. Fag — you flurry one so. 

Fag, Come, come, Lucy, here 's no one by — so a little less sim- 
plicity, with a grain or two more sincerity, if you please. — You play 
false with us, madam. — I saw you give the baronet a letter. — My 
master shall know this — and if he don't call him out, I will. 

Lucy, Ha ! ha ! ha ! you gentlemen's gentlemen arc so hasty. — 
That letter was from Mrs. Malaprop, simpleton. — She is taken with 
Sir Lucius's address. 

Fag, How ! what tastes some people have ! — Why, I suppose I 
have walked by her window a hundred times. — But what says our 
young lady ? any message to my master } 

Lucy, Sad news, Mr. Fag. — A worse rival than Acres ! Sir 
Anthony Absolute has proposed his son. 

Fag, What, Captain Absolute } 



Lucy, Even so — I overheard it alL 

Fag, Ha ! ha ! ha ! very good, faith. Good- bye, Lucy, I must 
away with this news. 

Lucy, Well, you may laugh — but it is true, I assure you. — 
\Goingi\ But, Mr. Fag, tell your master not to be cast down by this. 

Fag, Oh, he *11 be so disconsolate ! 

Lucy, And charge him not to think of quarrelling with young 

Fag, Never fear ! never fear I 

Lucy, Be sure — bid him keep up his spirits 

Fag* We will — we wilL \Exeunt severally. 

A COATED y. 123 


Scene I. — TAe North Parade, 

Enter Captain Absolute. 

Abs. 'T is just as Fag told me, indeed. Whimsical enough, faith ! 
My father wants to force me to marry the very girl I am plotting to 
run away with ! He must not know of my connection with her yet 
awhile. He has too summary a method of proceeding in these mat- 
ters. However, I *11 read my recantation instantly. My conversion 
is something sudden, indeed — but I can assure him it is very sincere. 
So, so — here he comes. He looks plaguy g^ff. \Steps aside. 

Enter Sir Anthony Absolute. 

Sir Anth. No — I '11 die sooner than forgive him. Die, did I 
say ? I '11 live these fifty years to plague him. At our last meeting, 
his impudence had almost put me out of temper. An obstinate, 
passionate, self-willed boy ! Who can he take after } This is my 
return for getting him before all his brothers and sisters I — for 
putting him, at twelve years old, into a marching regiment, and 
allowing him fifty pounds a year, besides his pay, ever since I But 
I have done with him ; he 's anybody's son for me. I never will see 
him more, never — never — never. 

Abs, [Aside^ coming fonvard.] Now for a penitential face. 

Sir Anth, Fellow, get out of my way ! 

Abs. Sir, you see a penitent before you. 

Sir Anth, I see an impudent scoundrel before me. 

Abs. A sincere penitent. I am come, sir, to acknowledge my 
error, and to submit entirely to your will. 



SirAnilL What's that ? 

Abs, I have been revolving, and reflecting, and considering on 
your past goodness, and kindness, and condescension to me. 

Sir Anth, Well, sir ? 

Abs. I have been likewise weighing and balancing what you wcr^ 
pleased to mention concerning duty, and obedience, and authority. 

Sir Atti/i. Well, puppy ? 

Abs. Why then, sir, the result of my reflections is — a resolutio 
to sacrifice every inclination of my own to your satisfaction. 

Sir Anth, Why now you talk sense — absolute sense — I nev 
heard anything more sensible in my life. Confound you ! you she 
be Jack again. 

Abs. I am hapi)y in the appellation. 

Sir Anth. Why then Jack, my dear Jack, I will now inform y 
who the lady really is. X()thin<j: but your passion and violcn <, 
you silly fellow, j)rcvcnlcd my telling you at first. Prei)are, Ja c: 
for wonder and ra])lure — ])repare. What think you of Miss Ly cj 
Lani^nisb ? 

Abs. Lani^iiish ! What, the Languishes of Worcestershire? 

Sir Autli. W«»rre>tei\shire ! no. Did you never meet Mrs. ]\Ial=s 
prop and her nieee, Miss Lanicuish, who came into our country jii 
before voii were last ordered to your reiriment } 

Abs. Malaprnp! Languish! I don't remember ever to hav 
hoard the names before. Yet, stav — I think I do recollect some 
tbin;j:. Lan.u'ni.Nb I Lan.i;uish I She s(iuints, don't she? A little: 
reddiaired ''irl ? 

Sir Auth. Squints I A red-haired L^irl ! Zounds! no. 

Abs. Then I must liave forL^ol ; it ean't be the same person. 

.S7/' .7/7///. Jaek ! Jack ! wiuit think you of blooming, lovc-brealh 
ing seventeen ? 







A COMEDY, 125 

Abs, As to that, sir, I am quite indifferent. If I can please you 
in the matter, 't is all I desire. 

Sir Anth. Nay, but Jack, such eyes ! such eyes ! so innocently 
wild ! so bashfully irresolute ! not a glance but speaks and kindles 
some thought of love ! Then, Jack, her cheeks ! her checks, Jack ! 
so deeply blushing at the insinuations of her tell-tale eyes! Then, 
Jack, her lips ! O Jack, lips smiling at their own discretion ; and if 
not smiling, more sweetly pouting ; more lovely in sullenness ! 

Abs, That 's she indeed. Well done, old gentleman. [Aside. 

Sir Anth, Then, Jack, her neck ! O Jack ! Jack ! 

Abs, And which is to be mine, sir, the niece or the aunt ? 

Sir Anth. Why, you unfeeling, insensible puppy, I despise you ! 
When I was of your age, such a description would have made me fly 
like a rocket ! The aunt, indeed I Odds life ! when I ran away with 
your mother, I would not have touched anything old or ugly to gain 
an empire. 

Abs, Not to please your father, sir } 

Sir Anth, To please my father ! zounds ! not to please — O, my 
father — odd so! — yes — yes; if my father indeed had desired — 
that *s quite another matter. Though he wa'n't the indulgent father 
that I am. Jack. 

Abs. I dare say not, sir. 

Sir Anth, But, Jack, you are not sorry to find your mistress is so 
beautiful } 

Abs. Sir, I repeat it — if I please you in this affair, 'tis all I 
desire. Not that I think a woman the worse for being handsome ; 
but, sir, if you please to recollect, you before hinted something about 
a hump or two, one eye, and a few more graces of that kind — now, 
without being very nice, I own I should rather choose a wife of mine 
to have the usual number of limbs, and a limited quantity of back : 

Ml OUi 

■Ml ttMift Me eye nqr fee my qpsoUiv ytt a* Oc VV^BdicE feM 
ahtqrina m fnor of twa^ 1 «mU Mt «i* to flCect ft riBK^Hi^ B 


el—a vfle^ i 
Kiel I have a grevt Miod t» BUiy Ae pd aqvdC 

^Uk. I ai» eatiidy at yo«r diyMal, Mr: if yoa ■hoald iMak rf 
addiesiiiig IfiM Laagntsh joandt, I w i p poac jtm would bne He 
many tfie aunt ; cr if yon shoold dn^e yoar aUad and take tte old 
hdy — *t U tbe ame to im — I *& waxty Ac BJecb 

SirAmtk. Upoa 1117 void, Jad[, thou 'it either a voy gnat fcypo- 
o^ (V— ^bnt come, I know yovr indiffeieiice on mdi a ndtject 
most be all a lie — I'm sore it mat — com^ now — damn yoor 
demure face! — come, confess. Jack — you have been lying — haVt 
you? You have been playing the hypocrite, hey! — I'll never 
forgive you, if you ha'n't been lying and playing the hypocrite. 

Ads. I 'm sorry, sir, that the respect and duty which I bear to yon 
should be so mistaken. 

Sir AtttJi, Hang your respect and duty ! But come along with 
me, I '11 write a note to Mrs. Malaprop, and you shall visit the lady 
directly. Her eyes shall be the Promethean torch to you — come 
along, I 'U never forgive you, if you don't come back stark mad with 
rapture and impatience ^ if you don't, egad, I will marry the girl 
myself I \ExmU. 

A COMEDY. 127 

Scene II. — Julia's Dressing-room, 

Faulkland discovered alone, 

Fanlk. They told me Julia would return directly ; I wonder she 
is not yet come ! How mean does this captious, unsatisfied temper 
of mine appear to my cooler judgment ! Yet I know not that I 
indulge it in any other point ; but on this one subject, and to this 
one subject, whom I think I love beyond my life, I am ever ungen- 
erously fretful and madly capricious! I am conscious of it — yet 
I cannot correct myself ! What tender, honest joy sparkled in her 
eyes when we met ! how delicate was the warmth of her expressions ! 
I was ashamed to appear less happy — though I had come resolved 
to wear a face of coolness and upbraiding. Sir Anthony's presence 
prevented my proposed expostulations : yet I must be satisfied that 
she has not been so very happy in my absence. She is coming! 
Yes I — I know the nimbleness of her tread, when she thinks her 
impatient Faulkland counts the moments of her stay. 

Enter ]vi.\\. 

JuL I had not hoped to see you again so soon. 

Faulk. Could I, Julia, be contented with my first welcome — 
restrained as we were by the presence of a third person } 

Jul. O Faulkland, when your kindness can make me thus happy, 
let me not think that I discovered something of coldness in your first 

Faulk. 'Twas but your fancy, Julia. I was rejoiced to see you — 
to see you in such health. Sure I had no cause for coldness } 

Jul. Nay, then, I see you have taken something ill. You must 
not conceal from me what it is. 

Faulk. Well, then, shall I own to you that my joy at hearing of 
your health and arrival here, by your neighbor Acres, was somewhat 

IJt THE MlfAlS. 


dsMpcd By Ui dvcuBif MB™ on nc V^t ipirifs TM bso cbjo^co in 
DevDnihire — <n jroarmiith — yvrnwaa^mg—AMoaa^md I know 
not «iiat ? For gndi b my tcnqier, Jofi^ Hot I AmSA icgard evoy 
■liitlrfnl inumau m ymr ilwcace » ■ titaMa M o w wtinq r. The 
nMtm] tear that iteih down Uie chedc cf patting lowers b n coin- 
pnct that no fmfle slid lire there tai tb(7 meet iWlin. 

ys/. Halt I never ceue to tn my Fanlfcl— rl with thii toni^ 
minnte cajnice ? Can the idle rcjiart* of a aHIy boor weigh in yoor 
fafcaBt againtt my tried affectioa? 

Fault. They have no wdgfat with m^JaHa: Bo^ DO — lamhappy 
if ytmlSve beenio — yet only 17 that yon did not ring wbh mirth 
— say that you thooght of Faolldaad in the dance. 

Jui. I never can be bappy in yoo' sbaeace. If I wear a counte- 
nance of content, it is to show that my mind holds no doubt d my 
Faulkland's truth. If I seemed sad, it were to make malice tri- 
umph ; and say that I had fixed my heart on one who left me to 
lament his roving and my own credulity. Believe me, Faulkland, 1 
mean not to upbraid you when I say that I have often dressed 
sorrow in smiles, lest my friends should guess whose unkindness had . 
caused my tears. 

Faulk. You were e^■cr all goodness to me. Oh, I am a brutti .» 
when I but admit a doubt of jwir true constancy! ' ~^ ' 

Jul. If ever without such cause from you, as I will not suppose* 
possible, you find my affections vcerin;; but a point, may I become :s 
proverbial scoff for levity and base ingratitude. 

Faulk. Ah ! Julia, that last word is grating to me. I would I ha— - 
no title to your gratitude ! Search your heart, Julia ; perhaps whMi l 
you have mistaken for love is but the warm effusion of a too thaDft* 
ful heart. 

Jul. Fcr what quality must I love you? 

A COMEDY. 129 

Faulk. For no quality ! To regard me for any quality of mind or 
understanding were only to esteem me. And for person — I have 
often wished myself deformed, to be convinced that I owed no obli- 
gation there for any part of your affection. 

Jul. Where nature has bestowed a show of nice attention in the 
features of a man, he should laugh at it as misplaced. I have seen 
men, who in this vain article, perhaps, might rank above you ; but 
my heart has never asked my eyes if it were so or not. 

Faulk, Now this is not well from you, Julia — I despise person in 
a man — yet if you loved nie as I wish, though I were an ^Ethiop, 
you 'd think none so fair. 

Jul. I see you are determined to be unkind ! The contract which 
my poor father bound us in gives you more than a lover's privilege. 

Faulk. Again, Julia, you raise ideas that feed and justify my 
doubts. I would not have been more free — no — I am proud of my 
restraint. Yet — yet — perhaps your high respect alone for this 
solemn compact has fettered your inclinations, which else had made a 
worthier choice. How shall I be sure, had you remained unbound in 
thought and promise, that I should still have been the object of your 
persevering love ? 

Jul. Then try me now. Let us be free as strangers as to what is 
past : my heart will not feel more liberty ! 

Faulk. There now ! so hasty, Julia ! so anxious to be free ! If 
your love for me were fixed and ardent, you would not lose your hold 
even though I wished it ! 

Jul. Oh ! you torture me to the heart ! I cannot bear it ! 

Faulk. I do not mean to distress you. If I loved you less I 
should never give you an uneasy moment. But hear me. All my 
fretful doubts arise from this. Women arc not used to weigh and 
separate the motives of their affections : the cold dictates of pru- 


deocc, gr aJ ited^ or filid du^, msjr mmUmm be — i«*«fcfTi ior thr 
fkadings e< the heart. I vdoU aat boMt— yet kt me ■grtlnt I 
have neither ag^ persm, nor f^acacter, to faud dsHke on; mjr 
fortune luch as lew ladies couU be di a iyed vidi indb cre li oB in Ibe 
■latdL O Jnltal when love reodvea am^ oonrteance from !■»- 
denoe, aice miods wiU be snqicioas tt ib faB^ 

JiU. I know not vrtiither yoiir imimMtaoBi would tend: — butm 
Uw)r ■eem pressing to insult me, I will ^are jTOU the R^ret of baring 
done sa I have i^ven you no cause lor this I [Emt m Umrj. 

FomU. In tears! Stay. Julia: stay bat for a moment — The 
door is ^tened ! — Jolia I — I my soul — but for one moment 1 — I 
hear her sobbing — 'Sdeath! — what a brute am I to use her thus I 
Yet stay. — Ay— she is coming now : — how little resolotioD there 
is in woman ! — how a few soft words can turn them I — No, &ith ! — 
she is not coming either. — Why, Julia — my love — say but that 
you forgive me — come but to tell me that — now this is being too 
resentful. Stay! she is coming too — I thought she would — no 
steadiness in anything: her going away must have been a mere 
trick then — she sha'n't see that I was hurt by it. — I '11 affect indi^ 
fercnce — [Hums a /mic: /hen listens.'] No — zounds! she's not 
coming! — nor don't intend it, I suppose. — This is not steadiness, 
but obstinacy! Yet I deserve it. — What, after so long an absence 
to quarrel with her tenderness ! — 'twas barbarous and unmanly! — I 
should be ashamed to see her now. — I 'II wait til! her just resent- 
ment is abated — and when I distress her so again, may I lose her 
(orei'cr ! and be linked instead to some antique virago, whose gnaw- 
ing passions and long-hoarded spleen shall make me curse my folly 
half the day and all the night [Exit. 

A COMEDY. 131 

Scene III. — Mrs. Malaprop's Lodgings. 
Mrs. Malaprop, with a letter in her handy and Captain Absolute. 

Mrs, MaL Your being Sir Anthony's son, captain, would itself be 
a sufficient accommodation ; but from the ingenuity of your appear- 
ance, I am convinced you deserve the character here given of you. 

Abs, Permit me to say, madam, that as I never yet have had the 
pleasure of seeing Miss Languish, my principal inducement in this 
affair at present is the honor of being allied to Mrs. Malaprop, of 
whose intellectual accomplishments, elegant manners, and unaffected 
learning, no tongue is silent. 

Mrs, MaL Sir, you do me infinite honor ! I beg, captain, you '11 be 
seated. — \Thcy sit^ Ah ! few gentlemen, now-a-days, know how to 
value the ineff ectual qualities in a woman ! few think how a little 
knowledge becomes a gentlewoman ! — Men have no sense now but 
for the worthless flower of beauty ! 

Abs, It is but too true, indeed, ma'am ; — yet I fear our ladies 
should share the blame — they think our admiration of beauty so 
great that knowledge in them would be superfluous. Thus, like 
garden-trees, they seldom show fruit till time has robbed them of 
the more specious blossom. — Few, like Mrs. Malaprop and the 
orange-tree, are rich in both at once ! 

Mrs. Mai. Sir, you overpower me with good-breeding. — He is 
the very pine-apple of politeness! — You are not ignorant, captain, 
that this giddy girl has somehow contrived to fix her affections on a 
beggarly, strolling, eaves-dropping ensign, whom none of us have seen, 
and nobody knows anything of. 

Abs. Oh, I have heard the silly affair before. — I 'm not at all 
prejudiced against her on that account. 


Mn. MaL T«i are veiy good aad TCfj cnnident^ captain. I 
am stne I hnc dooe CT ci ytt u i g m mj yo m u. aiaoe I exploded the 
afbir;kMicasoIlaidiii7|)usiUKaHiBiictiaBsanher,ne«crtodiiiik ' 
«■ the Cdlov agun; — I baic aoKe hid Sir Aattiony's prqtositkm 
brfore her; ba^ I am sony to ajr she seeaM le wJ fed to decUne 
every partide that IcnjoiDher. 

Ait, It mnit be vcsy d i i t f e Miii & iadeed. ma'am. 

Mrt. Mai. CNi, it gives me the bydrdstatics to lodi a d^ree. — I 
tiioaglit slie bad persisted from corre^iondiiig with him ; but, befaf^, 
this veiy day, I have interceded another kcter from the feUow ; I 
believe I have it in my pocket 

Abs. Ob, the devil ! my last note. [AsuU. 

Mrs. Mat Ay. here it is. 

Abs. Ay, my note indeed ! O the li tt k ti jIliMS b ugy. [Aside. 

Mrs. Mai. There, perhaps you may know the writing, 

[Gives Aim the letter. 

Abs. I think I have seen the hand before — yes, I certainly roust 
have seen this hand before — 

Mrs. Mai Nay, but read it, captain. 

Abs. [Reads] My soul's idol, my adored Lydia I — Very tender 
indeed ! 

Mrs. Mai. Tender ! ay, and profane too, o' my conscience. 

Abs. [Reads.] / am excessively alanncd at the ititelUgence you 
send me, the more so as my »ciu rival • 

Mrs. Mai. That 's yoii, sir. 

Abs. [Reads,] Has universally the character of being an accom- 
plished gentleman and a man of honor. — Well, that 's handsome 

Mrs. Mai. Oh, the fellow has some design in writing so. 

Abs. That he had, I '11 answer for him, ma'am. 

A COATED V, 133 

Mrs, Mai. But go on, sir — you '11 see presently. 

Abs, [Reads.] As for the old ivcathcr-beaten she-dragon who 
guards you — Who can he mean by that } 

Mrs, Mai. Me, sir — me! — he means me! — There — what do 
you think now } — but go on a little further. 

Abs. Impudent scoundrel ! — .[Reads.] // shall go hard but I will 
elude her vigilance^ as I am told that the same ridiculous vanity zuhich 
makes her dress up her coarse features and deck her dull chat with hard 
words zuhich she don't understand 

Mrs. Mai, There, sir, an attack upon my language ! What do 
you think of that ? — an aspersion upon my parts of speech ! was 
ever such a brute ! Sure, if I reprehend anything in this world, it 
is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of 
epitaphs ! 

Abs, He deserves to be hanged and quartered ! let me see — 
[Reads.] same ridiculous vanity 

Mrs, Mai. You need not read it again, sir. 

Abs, I beg pardon, ma'am. — [Reads.] docs also lay her open to 
^Jie grossiTst deceptions from flattery and pretended admiration — an 
impudent coxcomb — so tluxt I have a scheme to sec you shortly zvith 
^Jie old harridans consent^ and even to make her a go-bctzvccn in our 
^nterjiezv. — Was ever such assurance ! 

Mrs, Mai. Did you ever hear anything like it } — he '11 elude my 
Vigilance, will he — yes, yes ! ha ! ha ! he 's very likely to enter these 
doors ; — we 'U try who can plot best ! 

Abs. So we will, ma'am — so we will ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! a conceited 
puppy, ha! ha! ha! — Well, but Mrs. Malaprop, as the girl seems so 
infatuated by this fellow, suppose you were to wink at her corre- 
sponding with him for a little time — let her even plot an elopement 
with him — then do you connive at her escape — while I, just in the 


v^i / aide, will have the fdlow Ud by the heds, and biAy cmtrive to 
p c«iy her off in lug itead. 

Mn. Mai I am ddighted with the ■cbeDw; never was anything 
better perpetrated 1 

Ah. But, pnty, could not X ice the lady for a lev minotes now ? 
•» I ihonld like to try her temper a UtUe. 

Mn, iStU. Why, I don't know— I doabt ibe it not prepared for 
a Tl»it of thit kind. There is a decorum in these matters. 

Abs. O Lord! she won't mind me— oofy tell her Beveriey— 

Mrt.MeL Sirl 

Abs, Gently, good tonguCi \AsiA. 

Mn, Mat, What did yon say of Bereriqr ? 

Abs. Oh, I was going to propose that yon diould tell her, by way 
of jest, that it was Beverley who was below ; she 'd come down fast 
enough then — ha I ha I ha 1 

Mrs. Mai. 'T would be a trick she well deserves ; besides, you 
know the fellow tells her he '11 get my consent to see her — ha I ha ! 
Let him i£ he can, I say again. Lydia, come down here I — \CaUiftg^ 
He '11 make me a go-between in their interviews ! — ha ! ha ! ha ! 
Come down, 1 say, Lydia ! I don't wonder at your laughing, ha ! 
ha! hal his impudence is truly ridiculous. 

Abs. 'Tis very ridiculous, upon my soul, ma'am, ha! ha! ha! 

Mrs. Mai. The little hussy wou't hear. Well, I '11 go and tell her 
at once who it is — she shall know that Captain Absolute is come 
to wait on her. And I '11 make her behave as becomes a .young 

Abs. As yoii please, ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. For the present, captain, your servant. Ah ! you 've 
not done laughing yet, I sec — elude my vigilance; yes, yes; ha! 
ha! hal \Exit. 

A COMEDY. 135 

Abs, Ha ! ha ! ha ! one would think now that I might throw ofif \ 
all disguise at once, and seize my prize with security ; but such is 
Lydia s caprice, that to undeceive were probably to lose her. I 'U 
see whether she knows me. 

[ Walks aside, and seems engaged in looking at the pictures,^ 

Enter Lydia. 

Lyd, What a scene am I now to go through ! surely nothing 
can be more dreadful than to be obliged to listen to the loathsome 
addresses of a stranger to one's heart. I have heard of girls perse- 
cuted as I am who have appealed in behalf of their favored lover to 
the generosity of his rival ; suppose I were to try it — there stands 
the hated rival — an officer too! — but oh, how unlike my Bever- 
ley! I wonder he don't begin — truly he seems a very negligent 
wooer!. — quite at his ease, upon my word! — I'll speak first — 
Mr. Absolute. 

Abs, Ma'am. [Turns round. 

Lyd, O heavens ! Beverley ! 

Abs. Hush ! — hush, my life ! softly ! be not surprised ! 

Lyd, I am so astonished ! and so terrified 1 and so overjoyed! for 
Heaven's sake ! how came you here } 

Abs, Briefly, I have deceived your aunt — I was informed that my 
new rival was to visit here this evening, and, contriving to have him 
kept away, have passed myself on her for Captain Absolute. 

Lyd. O charming ! And she really takes you for young Abso- 
lute ? 

Abs. Oh, she 's convinced of it. 

Lyd. Ha! ha I ha! I can't forbear laughing to think how her 
sagacity is overreached ! 

Abs. But we trifle with our precious moments — such another 
opportunity may not occur; then let me now conjure my kind, my 


condescending angel, to fix the time when I may rescue her fron 
undeserving persecution, and with a licensed warmth plead for mj 

Lyd, Will you, then, Beverley, consent to forfeit that portion o 
my paltry wealth ? that burden on the wings of love ? 

Abs. Oh, come to me — rich only thus — in loveliness ! Brinj 
no portion to me but thy love — *t will be generous in you, Lydi 
— for well you know, it is the only dower your poor Beverley cai 

Lyd, How persuasive are his words ! — how thai luing will povert 
be with him ! \Asidi 

Abs, Ah ! my soul, what a life will we then live ! love shall b 
our idol and support ! we will worship him with a monastic stric 
ness; abjuring all worldly toys, to centre every thought and actio 
there. Proud of calamity, we will enjoy the wreck of wealth ; whi 
the surrounding gloom of adversity shall make the flame of our pui 
love show doubly bright. By Heavens ! I would fling all goods « 
fortune from me with a prodigal hand, to enjoy the scene whe; 
1 I might clasp my Lydia to my bosom, and say, the world affords i 
smile to me but here — {Embracing herP^ If she holds out now, tl 
devil is in it ! {Asia 

Lyd, Now could I fly with him to the antipodes 1 but my pers 
cution is not yet come to a crisis. \Asu 

Re-Enter Mrs. Malaprop, listening. 

Mrs, Mai, I am impatient to know how the little hussy dep>oi 
herself. \Asii 

Abs. So pensive, Lydia ! — is then your warmth abated ? 

Mrs, Mai, Warmth abated ! — so ! — she has been in a passion 
suppose. \Asu 

Lyd, No — nor ever can while I have life. 

A COMEDY. 137 

Mrs. Mai, An ill-tempered little devi l ! she *11 be \t \ a paccmn ail 
her life — will she ? [Aside, 

Lyd, Think not the idle threats of my ridiculous aunt can ever 
have any weight with me. 

Mrs, Mai. Very dutiful, upon my word ! {Aside. 

Lyd, Let her choice be Captain Absolute, but Beverley is mine. 

Mrs, Mai. I am astonished at her assurance ! — to his face — this 
is to his face ! [Aside. 

A6^, Thus then let me enforce my suit. [Kneeling. 

Mrs, Mai. [Aside,] Ay, poor young man! — down on his knees 
entreating for pity ! — I can contain no longer. — [Coming /onvard.] 
Why, thou vixen ! I have overheard you. 

Ads, Oh, confound her vigilance ! [Aside. 

Mrs, Mai. Captain Absolute, I know not how to apologize for her 
shocking rudeness. 

Abs. [Aside,] So — all's safe, I find. — [Aloud,] I have hopes, 
madam, that time will bring the young lady 

A/rs. Mai, Oh, there 's nothing to be hoped for from her ! she 's 
as headstro ng as an alleg^ory on t he banks of the Nile. 

Lyd, Nay, madam, what do you charge me with now ? 

Mrs, Mai, Why, thou unblushing rebel — didn't you tell this 
gentleman to his face that you loved another better? — didn't you 
say you never would be his ^ 

Lyd. No, •madam — I did not. 

Mrs, Mai. Good Heavens ! what assurance ! — Lydia, Lydia, you 
ought to know that lying don't become a young woman ! — Did n't 
you boast that Beverley, that stroller Beverley, possessed your heart } 
— Tell me that, I say. 

Lyd. 'Tis true, ma'am, and none but Beverley 

Mrs. Mai. Hold ! hold, Assurance ! — you shall not be so rude. 


Abs, Nay, pray, Mrs. Malaprop, don't stop the young lady's 
speech : — she 's very welcome to talk thus — it does not hurt vie in 
the least, I assure you. 

Mrs, Mai, You are too good, captain — too amiably patient — 
but come with me, miss. — Let us see you again soon, captain — 
remember what we have fixed. 

Abs, I shall ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai, Come, take a graceful leave of the gentleman. 

Lyd, May every blessing wait on my Beverley, my loved Bev 

Mrs, Mai, Hussy ! I *1I choke the word in your throat ! — come 
along — come along. 

[Excuut severally, Captain Absolute kissing his Jiand to 
LvDiA — Mrs. Malaprop stopping her from speaking. 

Scene IV. — Acres's Lodgings. 

Acres, as just dressed^ and David. 

Acres, Indeed, David — do you think I become it so? 

Dav, You arc quite another creature, believe me, master, by the 
mass ! an* we 've any luck we shall see the Devon m onkeron y in all 
the print-shops in Bath ! 

^cres. Dress does make a difference, David. 

Dav. T is all in all, I think. — Difference ! why, an' you were to 
go now to Clod-Hall, I am certain the old lady would n't know you : 
Master Butler would n't believe his own eyes, and Mrs. Pickle would 
cry, * Lard presarve me ! ' our dairy-maid would come giggling to the 
door, and I warrant Dolly Tester, your honor's favorite, would blush 
like my waistcoat. — Oons! I *11 hold a gallon, there a'nt a dog in the 

A COMEDY, 139 

lioiise but would bark, and I question whether Phillis would wag a 
liair of her tail ! 

Acres, Ay, David, there 's nothing like polishing. 

Dav, So I says of your honor's boots ; but the boy never heeds me ! 

Acres, But, David, has Mr. De la grace been here ? I must rub 
up my balancing, and chasing, and boring. 

Dav, I '11 call again, sir. 

Acres, Do — and see if there are any letters for me at the post- 

Dav, I will. — By the mass, I can't help looking at your head ! — 
i f I had n't been by at the cooking, I wish I may die if 1 should have 
known the dish again myself ! [ExiL 

Acres. \Comes fonvard^ practising a dancing stcp.\ Sink, slide — 
croupee. — Confound the first inventors of cotillons! say I — they 
^re as bad as algebra to us country gentlemen — I can walk a minuet 
^asy enough when I am forced ! — and I have been accounted a good 
stick in a country dance. — Odds jigs and tabors ! I never valued your 
crross-over to couple — figure in — right and left — and I'd foot it 
Avith e'er a captain in the county! — but these outlandish heathen 
^Eillemandes and cotillons are quite beyond me! — I shall never 
jDrosper at 'em, that's sure — mine are true-born English legs — 
they don't understand their curst French lingo! — their /^.r this, 
-^nA pas that, and pas t'other! — damn me! my feet don't like to 
be called paws! no 'tis certain I have most Antigallican toes I 

Enter Servant. 

Serv, Here is Sir Lucius OTrigger to wait on you, sir. 

Acres. Show him in ! {Exit Servant. 

Enter Sir Lucius OTrigger. 

Sir Luc. Mr. Acres, I am delighted to embrace you. 

Acres. My dear Sir Lucius, I kiss your hands. 

140 THK JUVAtS. 

Sir LiK. Pray, my fiieo'J, what lias brought you so suddeoly to 

Aenx. F^itb! 1 bave followed Cnpid's Jack-a-lantem, and iind 
myself io a quagmire at Use — In short, 1 have been very ill used 
Sir Lucius. — I don't cboMC to mention names, but look on me as 
-pu a very ill tued gentleman. 

Sir LiK. Pray what is the cose ? ~~ I ask no names. 

Acrts. Mark me, Str Luciua, I fall as deep as need be in love 
with a young lady — her friuud^ lake my part — I follow her to Bath 
— send word of ray arri\-al ; and receive answer, that the lady is to 
be otherwise disposed o£. — This. Sir Lucius, I call being ill used. 

Sir Luc. Very ill, upon my conscience. — Pray, can you divine 
the cause of it ? 

Airrs. Why. there "a the matter ; she has another lover, one Bev- 
erley, who, I am told, is now in Bath. — Odds slanders and lies ! he 
must be at the bottom of it 

Sir Luc. A rival in the case, is there? — and you think he has- 
supplanted you unfairly? 

Acns. Unfairly! to be sure he has. He never could have don^ 
it fairly. 

Sir Luc. Then sure you know what is to be done t 

Acres. Not I, upon my soul ! 

Sir Luc. We wear no swords here, but you understand me. 

Acres. What ! fight him ! 

Sir Luc. Ay, to be sure : what can I mean else? 

Acres. But he has given me no provocation. 

Sir Luc. Now, I think he has given you the greatest provocaticrr^ 
in the world. Can a man commit a more heinous offence again ^^ 
another than (o fall in love with the same woman ? Oh, by my soisi 
it is the most unpardonable breach of friendship. 

j4 comedy. 141 

Acres, Breach of friendship ! Ay, ay ; but I have no acquaintance 
with this man. I never saw him in my life. 

Sir Luc. That's no argument at all — he has the less right then 
to take such a liberty. 

Acres. Gad, that's true — I grow full of anger". Sir Lucius! I 
fire apace ! Odds hilts and blades ! ^I find a man may have a deal of 
valor in him, and not know it ! But could n't I contrive to liave a 
little right of my side ?' 

Sir Luc. What the devil signifies rights when your hofior is con- 
cerned.^ Do you think Achilles or my little Alexander the Great 
ever inquired where the right lay.^ No, by my soul, they drew their 
broadswords, and left the lazy sons of peace to settle the justice 
of it. 

Acres, Your words are a grenadier's march to my heart ; I be- 
lieve courage must be catching ! I certainly do feel a kind of valor 
rising as it were — a kind of courage, as I may say. — Odds flints, 
pans, and triggers ! I '11 challenge him directly. 

Sir Luc. Ah, my little friend! if I had Blunderbuss-Hall here, I 
could show you a range of ancestry, in the OTriggcr line, that 
would furnish the new room ; every one of whom had killed his 
man ! — For though the mansion-house and dirty acres have slipped 
through my fingers, I thank heaven our honor and the family pictures 
are as fresh as ever. 

Acres. O, Sir Lucius ! I have had ancestors too ! — every man of 
'em colonel or captain in the militia! — Odds balls and barrels! — 
say no more — I'm braced for it. The thunder of your words has 
soured the milk of human kindness in my breast ; — Zounds! as the 
man in the play says, ' / could do such deeds I ' 

Sir Luc, Come, come, there must be no passion at all in the case^ 
— these things should always be done civilly. i 



Acn:t. I mubt be in a passion. Sir Lucius — I must be in a rjge, 
— Dear Sir Lucius, let nic be in a rage, if you love mc. Come, 
here's pen and paper. — [Sits down to wrilf.^ I would the ink were 
red ! -- Indite, I say indite ! — I low shall I begin ? Odds bullets and 
blades ! I 'II write a good bold hand, however. 

Sif Liu. Pray compose yourself. 

Acits. Come — now, shall I begin with an oath ? Do, Sir Lucius, 
let me begin with a damme. 

Sir Luc. Pho ! plio! do the thing decently, and like a Christian. 
Begin now — Sir — ~ 

Acres. That 's too civil by half. 

Sir Luc. To prevent the confusion that might arise 

Acres. Well 

Sir Luc. From our both addressing the samt lady 

Acres. Ay, there 's the reason — same lady — wei". 

Sir Luc. I shall expect the honor of your company 

Acres. Zounds! I'm not asking him to dinner. 

Sir Luc. Pray be easy. 

Acres. Well then, honor of your company 

Sir Luc. To settle our pretensions 

Acres. Well. 

Sir Luc. Let me see, ay, King's-Mead-Ficld will do — in King's- 

Acres. So, that 's done — Well, I 'H fold it up presently ; my own 
crest — a hand and dagger shall be the seal. 

Sir Liic. You see now this little explanation will put a stop at 
once to all confusion or misunderstanding that might arise between 
1 Acres. Ay, \vc fight to prevent any misunderstanding. 

Sir Liic. Now, I'll leave you to Tlv your own time. — Take my 



advice, and you *II decide it this evening if you can ; then let the worst 
come of it, 't will be off your mind to-morrow. 

Acres. Very true. 

Sir Luc. So I shall see nothing more of you, unless it be by 
letter, till the evening. — I would do myself the honor to carry your 
message; but, to tell you a secret, I believe I shall have just such 
another affair on my own hands. There is a gay captain here, who 
put a jest on me lately at the expense of my coun try, and I only 
want to fall in with the gentleman to call him out. 

Acres. By my valor, I should like to see you fight first ! Odds 
life ! I should like to see you kill him if it was only to get a little 

Sir Luc, I shall be very proud of instructing you. — Well for the ' 
present — but remember now, when you meet your antagonist, do 
everything in a mild and agreeable manner. — Let your courage be 
as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword. 

[Exeufif severally. 



Scene I. — Acres's Lodgings. 
Acres and David. 

Dav, Tlieu, by the mass, sir 1 I would do no such thing — ne'er 
a Sir Lucius O'Trigger in the kingdom should make me fight, 
when I wa'n't so minded. Oons ! what will the old lady say, when 
she hears o't? 

Acres. Ah! David, if you had heard Sir Lucius ! — Odds sparks 
and flames ! he would have roused your vnlor. 

Dav. Not he, indeed. I hates such bloodthirsty cormorants. 
Look'ee, master, if you 'd wanted a bout at boxing, quarter-staff, or 
short-staff, I should never be the man to bid you ciy off : but for 
your curst sharps and snaps, I never knew any good come of 'em. 

Acres. But my honor, David, my honor ! I must be very careful 
of my honor. 

Dav. Ay, by the mass ! and I would be very careful of it ; and I 
think in return my homr could n't do less than to be very careful 
of me. 

Acres. Odds blades ! David, no gentleman will ever risk the loss 
of his honor ! 

Dav. i say then, it would be but civil in honor never to risk the 
loss of z. gentleman. — Look'ee, master, this honor seems to me to 
be a marvellous false friend : ay, truly, a very courtier-like servant. — 
Put the case, I was a gentleman (which, thank God, no one can say 
of me) i well — my honor makes me quarrel with another gentleman 

A COMEDY. 1 45 

of my acquaintance. — So — we fight. (Pleasant enough that !) Boh ! 
— I kill him — (the more 's my luck.) Now, pray who gets the profit 
of it ? — Why, my honor. But put the case that he kills me ! — by 
the mass ! I go to the worms, and my honor whips over to my 

Acres. No, David — in that case! — Odds crowns and laurels! 
your honor follows you to the grave. 

Vav. Now that *s just the place where I could make a shift to 
do without it. 

Acres. Zounds ! David, you are a coward ! — It does n't become 
my valor to listen to you. — What, shall I disgrace my ancestors ? — 
Think of that, David — think what it would be to disgrace my 
ancestors ! 

Dav. Under favor, the surest way of not disgracing them is to 
keep as long as you can out of their company. Look*ee now, 
master, to go to them in such haste — with an ounce of lead in your 
brains — I should think might as well be let alone. Our ancestors 
are very good kind of folks ; but they are the last people I should 
choose to have a visiting acquaintance with. 

Acres. But, David, now, you don't think there is such very, very, 
very great danger, hey ? — Odds life ! people often fight without any 
mischief done I 

Dav. By the mass, I think 't is ten to one against you I — Oons ! 
here to meet some lion-headed fellow, I warrant, with his damned 
double-barrelled swords, and cut-and-thrust pistols I — Lord bless 
us I it makes mc tremble to think o't ! — Those be such desperate 
bloody-minded weapons ! Well, I never could abide 'cm — from a 
child I never could fancy 'em I — I suppose there a'n't been so mer- 
ciless a beast in the world as your loaded pistol 1 

Acr^s. Zounds I I won't be afraid I — Odds fire and fury I yon 



•^ THE MfKtlS. 

•baa*t make nc abaid. — Hoc ts tbe challenge, and I have sent tor 
n; dear fhead >ck A&Mfate U csTj it iorine. 

Act. Aj^. r Ae ame «C ■J Bchi e f . let Aim be tlte messenger. — 
I^MT mv port. I WDoM at Wad i band to it for the best horse in youi- 
stable. Bjr tbe mau ! it doa't look &kc another letter ! It is, as L 
ta^j $a,j, » dei^n^ aad malicioiasJooki&g letter ; — and I wartaDi:^ 
somUb oi gnapowder like a sol£er*s pouch ! — Oons ! I would u'c: 
swear it aay a*t go off ! 

Acm. Out, joa poltiaan '. yoo ha*D'l the valor of a grasshopper, 
AfT. Well. I sxf oo more — 't will be sad nevs, to be sure. aC^ 
Ckd-HaQ ! bot I ha' done — Hotr Phillis will howl when she hears o-£ 
it! — Ajr, poor bitch, she Uule thiaks what shooting her master';^ 
gotnf after \ — And I warrant old Crop, who has carried your bon(» — ^ 
field and road, these ten years, will cunc the hour he was born. 

Acres. It won't do, Darid — 1 am determined to fight — so g^^ 
along, you coward, while I 'm in the mind. 
Enter Servast. 
Ser. Captain Absolute, sir. 

Acres. Oh ! show him up. \Exit Servan 

Dav. Well, Heaven send we be all alive this time to-morrow. 
Acres. What s that ? — Don't provoke me, David ! 
Davi Goodby, master. [ Whimperir^J^^ 

Acres. Get along, you cowardly, dastardly, croaking raven ! 

Enter Absolute. 
Abs. What 's the matter, Rob ? 
Acres. A vile, sheep-hearted blockhead ! — If I had n't the valoro^ 

St. George and the dragon to boot 

Abs. But what did you want with me, Bob? 


A COMEDY. 147 

Acres, Oh ! — there [Gives him the challenge. 

Ads. [Aside.] To Ensign Beverley. — So, what *s going on now ? 
— [Aloud.] Well, what 's this ? 

Acres. A challenge ! 

Ads. Indeed ! Why, you won't fight him ; will you, Bob ? 

Acres. Egad, but I will, Jack. Sir Lucius has wrought me to it. 
He has left me full of rage — and I '11 fight this evening, that so 
much good passion may n't be wasted. 

Ads. But what have I to do with this } 

Acres. Why, as I think you know something of this fellow, I 
want you to find him out for me, and give him this mortal defiance. 

Abs. Well, give it to me, and trust me he gets it. 

Acres. Thank you, my dear friend, my dear Jack ; but it is giving 
you a great deal of trouble. 

Abs. Not in the least — I beg you won't mention it. — No 
trouble in the world, I assure you. 

Acres. You are very kind. — What it is to have a friend ! — You 
could n't be my second, could you, Jack } 

Abs. Why no. Bob — not in this affair — it would not be quite so 

Acres. Well, then, I must get my friend Sir Lucius. I shall 
have your good wishes, however. Jack } 

Abs. Whenever he meets you, believe me. 

Re-Enter Servant. 

Scr. Sir Anthony Absolute is below, inquiring for the captain. 

Abs. I '11 come instantly. — [Exit Servant.] Well, my little 

hero, success attend you. [Going. 

Acres. Stay — stay. Jack. — If Beverley should ask you what 

kind of a man your friend Acres is, do tell him I am a devil of a 
fellow — will you, Jack ? 


Ads, To be sure I shall. I '11 say you are a determined dog — 
hey, Bob ! 

Acfrs, Ay, do, do- and if that frightens him, egad, perhaps he 
may n't come. So tell him I generally kill a man a week ; will you. 
Jack ? 

A6s, I will, I will ; I '11 say you are called in the country Fighting 

Acres, Right — right -'tis all to prevent mischief; for I don't 
want to take his life if I clear my honor. 

Aks. No ! — that 's very kind of you. 

Acres, Why, you don't wish me to kill him — do you, Jack ? 

Abs, No, upon my soul, I do not. — But a devil of a fellow, hey? 


Acres. True, true — but stay — stay, Jack — you may add that 
you never saw me in such a rage before — a most devouring rage ! 

Abs. I will, I will. 

Acres. Remember, Jack --a determined dog! 

Abs. Ay, ay, FigJiiing Bob ! [Exeunt severally 

Scene II. — Mrs. Malaprop's Lodgings. 

]\Iks. Maeaprop atui Lvdia. 

Mrs. J/ij/. Why, ihou perverse one! — tell me what you ca. 
object to him? Isn't he a handsome man .^ — tell me that. 
^^entecl man } a pretty figure of a man ? 

Lyd. \^Asidc?\ She little thinks whom she is praising! — [Aloud. J 
So is Beverley, ma'am. 

Mrs, Mai, No caparisons, miss, if you please. Caparisons don't: 

A COMEDY. 149 

become a young woman. No ! Captain Absolute is indeed a fine 
gentleman ! 

Lyd, Ay, the Captain Absolute ^^^ have seen. [Aside, 

Mrs, MaL Then he 's so well bred ; — so full of alacrity, and 
adulation! — and has so much to say for himself: — in such good 
language too ! — His physiognomy so grammatical ! — Then his pres- 
ence is so noble ! — I protest, when I saw him, I thought of what 
Hamlet says in the play : — " Hesperian curls — the front of Job 
himself! — An eye, like March, to threaten at command! — A sta- 
tion, like Harry Mercury, new — *' Something about kissing — 
on a hill — however, the similitude struck me directly. 

Lyd, How enraged she'll be presently, when she discovers her 

mistake I {Aside, 

Enter Servant. 

Ser, Sir Anthony and Captain Absolute are below, ma*am. 

Mrs, MaL Show them up here. — {Exit Servant.] Now, Lydia, 
I insist on your behaving as becomes a young woman. Show your 
good breeding, at least, though you have forgot your duty. 

Lyd, Madam, I have told you my resolution ! — I shall not only 
give him no encouragement, but I won't even speak to or look at 
Kim. {Flings herself into a chair^ with her face from the door. 

Enter Sir Anthony Absolute and Captain Absolute. 

Sir Anth, Here we are, Mrs. Malaprop ; come to mitigate the 
frowns of unrelenting beauty, — and difficulty enough I had to bring 
this fellow. — I don't know what 's the matter ; but if I had not held 
him by force, he 'd have given me the slip. 

Mrs, MaL You have infinite trouble. Sir Anthony, in the affair. 
I am ashamed for the cause! — {Aside to Lydia.] Lydia, Lydia, 
rise, I beseech you ! — pay your respects ! 


Sir Amk. I hope, f rt a^ m . that Mm Languish hu reflected oq 
the worth of thb gcntlenua, and the le^aid due to her aunt's 
choice and my alliance. — \Atide t9 Cattaui Amollte.] Now, 
Jack, fpeak to her. 

A^. \AsuU.^ What the devil xhall I do! — \A1id4 /« SiK 
AXTMOKV.} Yoti sec, itr, ^le won't even look at me whilst you are 
here. — I knew she would n't t — I told j-on so. — Let me entreat y^ou, 
•ir, to leave m together ! \SeaKX to exf^stmUtt -witk his/atker. 

t.yd. \Atuit.'\ I wonder I h'an't beard my atmt exclaim yetl 
tore abc can't have looked at him ! — perhaps their regimentals are 
alike, and she is something blind. 

Str Antk. I *ay, sir, I won't stir a foot yet ! 

Mrs. Mai. I am sorry to say, Sir Anthony, that my affluence over 
my niece is very small. — [Atide to Lvdia.] Turn round, Lydia : 
I blush lor you ! 

Sir Anth. May I not flatter myself that Miss Languish will 
assign what cause of dislike she can have to my son ! — [Aside to 
Captain Absolute.] Why don't you begin, Jack? — Speak, you 
puppy — speak. 

Mrs. Mai. It is impossible, Sir Authony, she can have any. 
She will not say she has. — [Aside to Lydia.] Answer, hussy ! why 
don't you answer ? 

Sir Anth. Then, madam, I trust that a childish and hasty pre- 
dilection will be no bar to Jack's happiness. — [Aside to Captain 
Absolute.] — Zounds ! sirrah ! why don't you speaki 

/.yd. [Aside.] I think my lover seems as little inclined to 
conversation as myself. — How strangely blind my aunt must 

A^s. Hem! hem! madam — hem! — [Attempts to speak, then 
returns to Sir Anthony.] Faith ! sir. I am so confounded ! — and — 

A COMEDY. 151 

so — so — confused ! — I told you I should be so, sir — I knew it. — 
The — the — tremor of my passion entirely takes away my presence 
of mind. 

Sir Aut/i, But it don't take away your voice, fool, does it ? — Go 
up, and speak to her directly ! 

[Captain Absolute makes sigtis to Mrs. Malaprop to 

leave them together, 

Mrs, Mai. Sir Anthony, shall we leave them together ? — [Aside 
to Lvdia.] Ah ! you stubborn little vixen ! 

Sir Antk, Not yet, ma'am, not yet ! — {Aside to Captain 
Absolute.] What the devil are you at ? unlock your jaws, sirrah, 

Abs. [Aside,"] Now Heaven send she may be too sullen to look 
round! — I must disguise my voice. — [Draws near Lydia, and speaks 
in a low /loarse tone,] Will not Miss Languish lend an ear to the 
mild accents of true love ? Will not 

Sir Anth. What the devil ails the fellow.^ Why don't you 
speak out } — not stand croaking like a frog in a quinsy ! 

Abs, The — the — excess of my awe, and my — my — my mod- 
esty, quite choke me! 

Sir Anth. Ah ! your modesty again ! — I '11 tell you what, Jack ; 
if you don't speak out directly, and glibly too, I shall be in such 
a rage ! — Mrs. Malaprop, I wish the lady would favor us with 
something more than a side-front. 

[Mrs. Malaprop seems to chide Lydia. 

Abs. [Aside.] So all will out, I see! — [Goes up to Lydia, 
speaks softly!] Be not surprised, my Lydia, suppress all surprise at 

Lyd. \A$ide^ Heavens I 't is Beverley's voice ! Sure he can't 
have imposed on Sir Anthony too ! — [Looks round by degrees^ then 

>«^T til 

Mt. Ah! ta iC ••«. [Aside. 

SirjMaL BE«cxI^f~(bedBva — IwerieyS—WTat can the girl 
sen ■*— Hub m wq aon. |adb Afciuhln, 

Jfrx. AU For ftoBi^ inaiT' f far ifanne ! jreor head nins so on 
tioK ic9ow, dnc j«« kaic kia stv^s m jmtr eyes ! — beg Captain 
AflBokite s puouB flHccAr, 

Ljid. I 9ee M CaptaK Ahsofattc; bat mjr lored Beinerley ! 

Sir AmA Zamaitl Ifee pd** nad! — her brain's torned by 

Jfn. S/al O* my CMo ao epce. I be&eTe So * — Wliat do you 
mean by Bcreriey. bussy ? — You saw Captain Absolate before 
to-diy , then; be is — yoor hmbond that sfaall be. 

Lj/J. With all my soul, ma'am — when 1 refuse my Beverley 

Sir AntA. Oh! she's as mad as Bedlam! — or has this fellow 
been playing us a rogue's trick! — Come here, sirrah, who the 
devil are you ? 

Abs. Faith, sir, I am not quite clear myself ; but I "11 endeavor 
to recollect. 

Sir Anlk. Arc you my son or not? — answer for your mother, 
you dog, if you won't for me. 

Mrs. Mai. Ay, sir, who are you? Oh, mercy! I begin to 
suspect ! — 

Abs. [Aside.] Yc powers of Impudence, befriend me! — [A/oud.] 
Sir Anthony, most assuredly I am your wife's son ; and that I sin- 
cerely believe myself to be yours also, I hope my duty has always 
dhown, — Mrs. Malaprop, I am your most respectful admirer, and 
■hnll be proud to add affectionate nephew. — I need not tell my 
Lydia that she sees her faithful Beverley, who, knowing the singu- 

A COAfEDy. . 153 

lar generosity of her temper, assumed that name and station, which 
has proved a test of the most disinterested love, which he now 
hopes to enjoy in a more elevated character. 

Lyd. So! — there will be no elopement after all! [Sulleuly, 

Sir Anth, Upon my soul, Jack, thou art a very impudent 
fellow ! to do you justice, I think I never saw a piece of more 
consummate assurance! 

Abs. Oh, you flatter me, sir — you compliment — 'tis my mod- 
esijy you know, sir — my modesty ^ that has stood in my way. 

Sir Anth, Well, I am glad you are not the dull, insensible 
varlet you pretended to be, however ! — I 'm glad you have made 
a fool of your father, you dog — I am. — So this was yowr penitence, 
your duty and obedience ! — I thought it was damned sudden ! — You 
never heard their names before^ not you! — ivhat the Languishes 
^Worcestershire, hey.^ — if you could please me in the affair it 
was all you desired I — Ah! you dissembling villain I — What! — 
-pointing to Lydia] she squints^ dont she? — a little red-haired 
girl! — hey? — Why, you hypocritical young rascal! — I wonder 
you an't ashamed to hold up your head ! 

Abs, *T is with difficulty, sir. — I am confused — very much con- 
fused, as you must perceive. 

Mrs, Mai. O Lud ! Sir Anthony ! — a new light breaks in upon 
me ! — hey ! — how ! what ! captain, did you write the letters then } — 
What — am I to thank you for the elegant compilation of an old 
wisather-beaten she-dragon — hey! — Oh, mercy! — was it you that 
reflected on my parts of speech } 

Abs, Dear sir! my modesty will be overpowered at last, if 
you don't assist me — I shall certainly not be able to stand it! 

Sir Anth. Come, come, Mrs. Malaprop, we must forget and 
f orgi ve ; — odds life! matters have taken so clever a turn all of a 


sudden, that I could find in my heart lo be 80 good-humored! 
and so gallant ! hey ! Mrs. Malaprop ! 

Mrs. Mai. Well, Sir Anthony, since >tf« desire it, we will not 
anticipate the past! — so mind, young people — our -retrospection 
will be all to the future. 

Sir Aiith. Come, we must leave thera together; Mrs. Malaprop, 
they long to fly into each other's arms, I warrant! — Jack — isn't 
the check as I said, hey? — and the eye, you rogue! — and the 
lip — hey.' Come, Mrs. Malaprop. we'll not disturb their tender- 
ness — theirs is the time of life for happiness! — Youth's the 
season made for joy — XSingsl — hey! — Odds life! I'm in such 
spirits, — I don't know what I could not do! — Permit me, ma'am — 
[Gives kis hand lo Mrs. Malaproj-.] {Sittgs.'\ Tol-de-rol — 'gad, I 
should like to have a little fooling myself — Tol-de-rol! de-rol, 

[Exit, singing and handing Mrs. Malaprop. — Lydia sits 
sulUntly in her chair. 

Abs. \Asidc.'\ So much thought bodes me no good, — [A/oud.] 
So grave, Lydia ! 

Lyd Sir! 

Ads. [Aside.] So! — egad! I thought as much! — that damned 
monosyllable has froze me! — [Aloud.'] What, Lydia, now that we 
are as happy in our friends' consent, as in our mutual vows 

Lyd. Friends' eonsent indeed I [Peevishly. 

Abs. Come, come, we must lay aside some of our romance 
— a little wealth and comfort may be endured after all. And 
for your fortune, the lawyers shall make such settlements as 

Lyd. Lawyers ! I hate lawyers ! 

Abs. Nay, then, we will not wait for their lingering forms, but 
instantly procure the licence, and 

Lyd. The licence ! — I hate licence I 


A COMEDY. 155 

Abs, Oh, my love ! be not so unkind ! — thus let me en- 
treat [Kneeling, 

Lyd, Psha ! — what signifies kneeling, when you know I mnst 
have you? 

Abs, [Rising-,] Nay, madam, there shall be no constraint upon 
your inclinations, I promise you. — If I have lost your heart — I 
resign the rest — [Aside.] 'Gad, I must try what a little spiril 
will do. 

Lyd, [Rising.] Then, sir, let me tell you, the interest you had 

there was acquired by a mean, unmanly imposition, and deserves 

the punishment of fraud. — What, you have been treating me like a 

child ! — humoring my romance ! and laughing, I suppose, at your 

success ! « 

Abs, You wrong me, Lydia, you wrong me — only hear 

Lyd, So, while / fondly imagined we were deceiving my rela- 
tions, and flattered myself that I should outwit and incense them 
all — behold my hopes are to be crushed at once, by my aunt's 
consent and approbation — and / am myself the only dupe at 
last ! — [ Walking about in a heat,] But here, sir, here is the pic- 
ture — Beverley's picture ! [taking a miniature from her bosom] which 
I have worn, night and day, in spite of threats and entreaties ! — 
There, sir, [flings it to him] and be assured I throw the original 
from my heart as easily. 

Abs, Nay, nay, ma'am, we will not differ as to that. — Here, 
[taking out a picture] here is Miss Lydia Languish. — What a dif- 
ference! — ay, there is the heavenly assenting smile that first gave 
soul and spirit to my hopes! — those are the lips which sealed 
a vow, as yet scarce dry in Cupid's calendar I and there the half- 
resentful blush, that would have checked the ardor of my 
thanks !^— Well, all that *s past ! — all over indeed !— There, madam — 

f'-^tmAy, tbat copy is not equal to yuc, but in my mind its 
■nerit over the origiml, in being still the same, is such — 
that — I cannot find in my heait to port with iL [PtiU it up again. 

Ljd. \Spfuning^ Tis jw^ tteM doing, sir — I — I — I suppose 
yoa are perfectly satisfied. 

Ats. Oh, most certainly — sure, now, this is tnoch betler than 
being in love ! — ha ! ha t ba ! — there 's some spirit in tMs / — SVlax 
■Ignifies breaking some uores of solemn promises: — all that's tS 
no consequence, you know. — To be sure people will say thai 
miss don't know her own mind — but never mind that .' Or, 
perhaps, they may be ill-natured enough to hint that the gentle- 
man grew tired of the lady and forsook her — but don't let that 
iret you. > 

Zyi/. There a no bearing his Insolence. [Bursts into tears. 

Rc-Entcr Mrs. Malaprop and Sir Astiioky Absolute. 

Mrs. Ma!. \Etttenng?^ Come, we must interrupt your billing 
and cooing awhile. 

Lyd. This is worse than your treachery and deceit, you base 
ingrate ! \Sobbing. 

Sir Anth. What the devil 's the matter now ! — Zounds. Mrs. 
Malaprop, this is the oddest billing and coottig I ever heard! — 
but what the deuce is the meaning of it.' — lam quite astonished! 

Abs. Ask the lady, sir. 

Mrs. Mai. Oh mercy! — I'm quite analyzed, for my part! — 
Why, Lydia, what is the reason of this ? 

Lyd, Ask the gentleman, ma'am. 

Sir Aittk. Zounds! I shall be in a frenzy! — Why, Jack, you 
arc not come out to be any one else, are you ? 

Mrs, Mai. Ay, sir, there 's no more trick, is there ? — you are not 
like Cerberus, three gentlemen at once, arc you ? 

A COMEDY. 157 

Abs, You *11 not let me speak — I say the lady can account for 
this much better than I can. 

Lyd, Ma'am, you once commanded me never to think of Beverley 
again — there is the man — I now obey you : for, from this moment, 
I renounce him for ever. \^Exit Lydia. 

Mrs, Mai, Oh, mercy ! and miracles ! what a turn here is — why 
sure, captain, you have n't behaved disrespectfully to my niece. 

Sir Anth, Ha ! ha ! ha ! — ha ! ha ! ha ! — now I see it. Ha ! ha ! 
ha! — now I see it — you have been too lively, Jack. 

Abs, Nay, sir, upon my word 

Sir Anth, Come, no lying, Jack — I'm sure 't was so. 

Mrs, Mai, O Lud ! Sir Anthony ! — Oh, fie, captain ! 

Abs, Upon my soul, ma'am 

Sir Anth. Come, no excuses. Jack ; why, your father, you rogue, 
was so before you: — the blood of the Absolutes was always im- 
patient. — Ha! ha! ha! poor little Lydia! why, you've frightened 
her, you dog, you have. 

Abs, By all that 's good, sir — '- — 

Sir Anth, Zounds ! say no more, I tell you — Mrs. Malaprop 
shall make your peace. — You must make his peace, Mrs. Mala- 
prop: — you must tell her 'tis Jack's way — tell her 'tis all our 
ways — it runs in the blood of our family! — Come away, Jack — 
Ha! ha! ha! Mrs. Malaprop — a young villain! [Pushes him out, 

Mrs. MaL O ! Sir Anthony ! — Oh, fie, captain ! 

[Exeunt severally. 


Scnc lit — Tit XrrtA Pandt. 

EmterSa. Lcavs OTkjccejl 

Sir Lme. I vooder where Uiu Csptaio Abeulute hides himself ! 

aa Joy cnnscicnce ' these o&ixn are always io one's way in love 

5 : — 1 rcaumber I might ha Buricu l^^l^Y p^j tfftthy {'arminc 

had not been iar a little of a major, who ran away with 

re she could get a tight (A me ! And I wonder too what it 

e ladies can we in them lo be so fond of them — unlc&s it be a 

)f the old serpent in 'era, that makes the little creatures be 

, like vipers, with a bit of red cloth. Ha! isn't this the 

».ptaiii coming .' — faith it is ! — There is a probability of succeeding 

about that fellow that is mighty provoking ! Who the devil is he 

talking to ? [Sufs aside. 

Enter Captain Absolute. 

Ab$. [Aside.] To what fine purpose I have been plotting! a noble 

reward for all my schemes, upon my soul ! — a little gypsy ! — I did 

not think her romance coutd have made her so damned absurd either. 

'Sdeath, I never was in a worse humor in my life ! — I could cut my 

own throat, or any other person's, with the greatest pleasure in the 

world ! 

Sir Luc. Oh, faith ! I 'm in the luck of it. I never could have 
found him in a sweeter temper for my purpose — to be sure I 'm just 
come in the nick ! Now to enter into conversation with him, and so 
quarrel genteelly. — [Gms up to Captain Absolute.] — With regard 
to that matter, captain, I must beg leave to differ in opinion with 

Abs. Upon my word, then, you must be a very subtle disputant: 
— because, sir, I happened just then to be giving no opinion 
at all. 

A COMEDY. 159 

Sir Luc. That 's no reason. For, give me leave to tell you, a 
man may think an untruth as well as speak one. 

Abs. Very true, sir ; but if a man never utters his thoughts, 
I should think they might stand a chance of escaping con- 

Sir Luc. Then, sir, you differ in opinion with me, which amounts 
to the same thing. 

Abs. Hark *ee, Sir Lucius ; if I had not before known you to 
be a gentleman, upon my soul, I should not have discovered it at 
this interview : for what you can drive at, unless you mean to quar- 
rel with me, I cannot conceive ! 

Sir Luc. I humbly thank you, sir, for the quickness of your 
apprehension. — {Bowing.^ You have named the very thing I 
would be at. 

Abs. Ver)' well, sir ; I shall certainly not balk your inclinations. 
— But I should be glad you would please to explain your motives. 

Sir Luc. Pray sir, be easy ; — the quarrel is a very pretty quarrel 
as it stands; — we should only spoil it by trying to explain it. — 
However, your memory is very short, or you could not have forgot 
an affront you passed on me within this week. — So, no more, but 
name your time and place. 

Abs. Well, sir, since you are so bent on it, the sooner the better ; 
let it be this evening — here by the Spring Gardens. — \Vc shall 
scarcely be interrupted. 

Sir Luc. Faith! that same interruption in affairs of this nature 
shows very great ill-breeding. — I don't know what 's the reason, but 
in England, if a thing of this kind gets wind, people make such a 
pother, that a gentleman can never fight in peace and quietness. 
However, if it *s the same to you, captain, I should take it as a par- 
ticular kindness if you 'd let us meet in King's-Mcad-Fields, as a little 



buuneu will call mc there about six o'clock, and I may despatch 
both matters at once. 

. Ats. 'T is the same to mc exactly. — A little after six, then, we 
will discuss this matter more seriously. 

Sir Luc. If you please, sir; there will be very pretty small-sword 
light, though it won't do for a long shot. — So that matter "s settled, 
and my mind 's at case. [£xit Sir Lucius. 

Enter I'aulklasd, rnteting Absolute. 

M$^ Well met ! I was going to look for you. — O Faulkland ! all 
- tlM demons of spite and dts:ippointmcnt have conspired against mc ! 
I'm to vexed, that jf I bad not the prospect of a resource in btiiig 
Imocked o' the head by-and-by, I should scarce have spirits to tell you J 

the cause. J 

Fanlk. What can you mean ? — Has Lydla changed her mind ? — — 
I should have thought her duty and inclination would now have ^ 
pointed to the same object. 

Abs. Ay, just as the eyes do of a person who squints: when her -x= 
love-eye was fixed on me, t "other, her eye of duty, was finely obliqued : z J 
but when duty bid her point that the same way, off t'other turned i>s 
on a swivel, and secured its retreat with a frown ! 

Faulk. But what 's the resource you 

Abs. Oh, to wind up the whole, a good-natured Irishman here has^s.^ 43 
— \MimUking Sir Llxius] — begged leave to have the pleasure ofio c 
cutting my throat : and I mean to indulge him — that 's all 

Faulk. Prithee, be serious I 

Abs. 'Tis fact, upon my soul ! Sir Lucius O'Trigger — you kno*^«='»' 
him by sight — for some affront, — which I am sure I never in.C"* 'Ji- 
tended, has obliged me to meet him this evening at six o'clock : 't is S- is 
on that account I wished to see you ; — yon must go with me. 

Faalk. Nay, there must be some mistake, sure. Sir Lucius sha^^ , 

A COMEDY, l6l 

explain himself, and I dare say matters may be accommodated. But 
this evening did you say ? I wish it had been any other time. 

Abs. Why } there will be light enough : there will (as Sir Lucius 
says), " be very pretty small-sword light, though it will not do for a 
long shot." Confound his long shots! 

Faulk, But I am myself a good deal ruffled by a difference I have 
had with Julia — my vile tormenting temper has made me treat her 
so cruelly, that I shall not be myself till we are reconciled. 

Abs, By heavens ! Faulkland, you don't deserve her ! 

Enter Servant, gives Faulkland a letter, and exit, 

Faulk, O Jack! this is from Julia. I dread to open it! I fear 
it maybe to take a last leave! — perhaps to bid me return her letters, 
and restore oh, how I suffer for my folly ! 

Abs, Here, let me see. — \Takes the letter and opens it,] Ay, a 
final sentence, indeed ! — 'tis all over with you, faith! 

Faulk, Nay, Jack, don't keep me in suspense ! 

Abs, Hear then. — [Reads.] As I am convinced that my dear 
Faulkland* s own rejections have already upbraided him for his last 
unkindness to mCy I will not add a word on the subject, I wish to 
speak with you as soon as possible. Yours ever and truly ^ Julia. 
There's stubbornness and resentment for you! — [Gives him the 
letter.] Why, man, you don't seem one whit the happier at this ! 

Faulk, Oh, yes, I am : but — but 

Abs, Confound your buts ! you never hear anything that would 
make another man bless himself, but you immediately damn it with 

Faulk. Now, Jack, as you are my friend, own honestly — don't 
you think there is something forward, something indelicate in this 
haste to forgive? Women should never sue for reconciliation : that 
should always come from us. They should retain their coldness till 


"et flKBct^eSu! 

il for ri&vle than 

{wor#ed to k 
•fiiMMight be 

Ah. I have aoC 
nft <ia)r no more on the 
l>et me nee you before 
hi'luMri'iUn devil like mc; 
I'' Kdln my cndji^ and an at hit 
MiMy )ri pity Ikt allowed to 
«f»-|fn« 111 I'/vCf a flavc to 
fl*-q liiif of hi» own creatii^isa 

' M»M|»(fQ<;iM|| f 

/'M/// I frcl hit reproaches; jct I woold aot dioiige this too 

• •'|iiK:iN !))( rty for the gross content with vhidi kt tramples on the 
iliMMi,, nf Imvi t MiM engaging me in this dod has started an idea 

'•• "•. '" "1. ^'.I.mIi \ will instantly pursue. I'll use i: as the touch- 
■'■'"■ "' ImIii'. '.ini'iiiy i\\v\ disinterestedness. If her love prove 
I" •' I'iImi- iin. mv n.'ime will rest on it with honor ; and once 

* ' H.ij.. .1 II Ml, ir, f i.iy aside my doubts forever! But if the 
'* •' • >'• J'H. . i. ihr .illny of pride, predominate, 'twill be best to 

'' * ' '•' • ■• ' » I'M l"i '."lur less cautious fool to sigh for! 

[Exit Faulklaxd. 

A COMEDY. 163 

ACT. V. 

Scene I. — Julia's Dressing-Room. 

Julia discovered alone, 

JuL How this message has alarmed me ! what dreadful accident 
can he mean ? why such charge to be alone ? — O Faulkland ! — how 
many unhappy moments — how many tears have you cost me. 

Enter Faulkland. 

JuL What means this ? — why this caution, Faulkland? 

Faulk, Alas ! Julia, I am come to take a long farewell. 

Jul, Heavens ! what do you mean ? 

Faulk, You see before you a wretch whose life is forfeited. Nay, 
start not ! — the infirmity of my temper has drawn all this misery on 
me. I left you fretful and passionate — an untoward accident drew 
me into a quarrel — the event is, that I must fly this kingdom 
instantly. O Julia, had I been so fortunate as to have called you 
mine entirely, before this mischance had fallen on me, I should not 
so deeply dread my banishment ! 

Jul. My soul is oppressed with sorrow at the nature of your mis- 
fortune : had these adverse circumstances arisen from a less fatal 
cause, I should have felt strong comfort in the thought that I could 
now chase from your bosom every doubt of the warm sincerity of 
my love. My heart has long known no other guardian — I now 
entrust my person to your honor — we will fly together. When safe 
from pursuit, my father's will may be fulfilled — and I receive a legal 
claim to be the partner of your sorrows and tcndcrest comforter. 
Then on the bosom of your wedded Julia, you may lull your keen 


rcfret to tlumbering ; while virtuoas lov^ wUh a Aerob's band, li 
mooth the brow o( tqibnidiiig tboa|^ and plaAtiie tinira fi 

FmM, O Julial I am bankntpt in gratitude I but the time is so 
prawiag, it calls on yoa for so hasty a retolotioiL — Would you not 
wiah lome bonrs to weigh the advantages you fcn^Oi and what little 
compeosatioD poor Faulkland can msJce yon beside his solitary love ? 

Jul I ask not a moment No, Faulkland, I have loved you for 
yourself: and if I now, more than ever, prize the sc^emn engagement 
, which 40 long has pledged us to each other,.it is because it leava no 
room for hard aspersions on my fame, and pots the seal of duty to 
an act of love. But let us not linger. Perhaps this^elay 

FauU. 'Twill be better I should not venture out again till daik. 
Yet am I grieved to think what numberless distresses will press 
heavy on your gentle disjMJsition ! 

y«/. Perhaps your fortune may be forfeited by this unhappy act. 
— I know not whether 't is so ; but sure that alone can never make 
us unhappy. The little I have will be sufficient to support us; and^ 
exile never should be splendid. 

Faulk. Ay, but in such an abject state of life, my wounded prid^, 
perhaps may increase the natural fretfulness of my temper, till C 
become a rude, morose companion, beyond your patience to endure^- 
Perhaps the recollection of a deed my conscience cannot justify ma;.^ 
haunt me in such gloomy and unsocial fits, that I shall hate WimrX 
tenderness that woidd relieve me, break from your arms, and quarrw-^ 
with your fondness ! 

Jul. If your thoughts should assume so unhappy a bent, you \ivll 
the more want some mild and affectionate spirit to watch overai»(/ 
console you : one who, by bearing your infirmities with gentleness 
and resignation, may teach you so to bear the evils of your fortune 


Faulk. Julia, I have proved you to the quick ! and with this use- 
less device I throw away all my doubts. How shall I plead to be 
forgiven this last unworthy effect of my restless, unsatisfied dis- 
position ? 

JtiL Has no such disaster happened as you related ? 

Faulk. I am ashamed to own that it was pretended ; yet in pity, 
Julia, do not kill me with resenting a fault which never can be 
repeated : but sealing, this once, my pardon, let me to-morrow, 
in the face of Heaven, receive my future guide and monitress, 
and expiate my past folly by years of tender adoration. 

Jul. Hold, Faulkland ! — thnt you are free from a crime, which I 
before feared to name. Heaven knows how sincerely I rejoice ^ 
These are tears of thankfulness for that ! But that your cruel 
doubts should have urged you to an imposition that has wrung 
my heart gives me now a pang more keen than I can express ! 

Faulk. By Heavens! Julia 

Jul. Yet hear me. — My father loved you, Faulkland ! and you 
preserved the life that tender parent gave me ; in his presence I 
pledged my hand — joyfully pledged it — where before I had given 
my heart. When, soon after, I lost that parent, it seemed to me 
that Providence had, in Faulkland, shown me whither to transfer, 
without a pause, ray grateful duty, as well as my affection : hence 
I have been content to bear from you what pride and delicacy would 
have forbid me from another. I will not upbraid you by repeating 
how you have trifled with my sincerity 

Faulk. I confess it all I yet hear 

////. After such a year of trial,.! might have flattered myself that 
I should not have been insulted with a new probation of my sin- 
cerity, as cruel as unnecessary 1 I now see it is not in your nature 
to be content or confident in love. With this conviction — I never 


will be yours. While I had hopes that my persevering attention 
and unreproaching kindness might in time reform your temper, I 
should have been happy to have gained a dearer influence over you ; 
but I will not furnish you with a licensed power to keep alive an 
incorrigible fault at the expense of one who never would contend 
with you. 

Faulk, Nay, but Julia, by my soul and honor, if after this 

JuL But one word more. — As my faith has once been given to 
you, I never will barter it with another. — I shall pray for your 
happiness with the truest sincerity ; and the dearest blessing I 
can ask of Heaven to send you will be to charm you from that 
unhappy temper which alone has prevented the performance of 
our solemn engagement. — All I request of you is, that you will 
yourself reflect upon this infirmity, and when you number up the 
many true delights it has deprived you of, let it not be your Uasi 
regret, that it lost you the love of one — who would have followed 
you in beggary through the world ! {Exit 

Faulk, She's gone — forever! — There was an awful resolutior 
in her manner, that riveted me to my place. — O fool! — dolt! — 
barbarian ! Cursed as I am, with more imperfections than m) 
fellow wretches, kind fortune sent a heaven-gifted cherub to my aid 
and, like a ruffian, I have driven her from my side! — I must nov 
haste to my appointment. Well, my mind is tuned for such \ 
scene. I shall wish only to become a principal in it, and reverse 
the tale, my cursed folly put me upon forging here. — O Love 
— tormentor! — fiend! — whose influence, like the moon's, actinj 
on men of dull souls, makes idiots of them, but, meeting subtle: 
spirits, betrays their course and urges sensibility to madness ! 


A COMEDY. 167 

Enter Lydia and Maid. 

Maid. My mistress, ma am, I know, was just here now — perhaps 
she is only in the next room. [Exit Maid. 

Lyd. Heigh-ho! Though he has used me so, this fellow runs 
strangely in my head. I believe one lecture from my grave cousin 
will make me recall him. [Re-enter Julia.] O Julia, I am come to 
you with such an appetite for consolation. — Lud ! child, what 's the 
matter with you } You have been crying ! — I '11 be hanged if that 
Faulkland has not been tormenting you ! 

Jul. You mistake the cause of my uneasiness! — Something has 
flurried me a little. Nothing that you can guess at. — [Aside."] I 
would not accuse Faulkland to a sister ! 

Lyd. Ah I whatever vexations you may have, I can assure you 
mine surpass them. You know who Beverley proves to be i 

Jul. I will now own to you, Lydia, that Mr. Faulkland had before 
informed me of the whole affair. Had young Absolute been the 
person you took him for I should not have accepted your confi- 
dence on the subject, without a serious endeavor to counteract 
your caprice. 

Lyd. So, then, I see I have been deceived by every one! But 
I don't care — I '11 never have him. 

Jul. Nay, Lydia 

Lyd. Why, is it not provoking } when I thought we were coming 
to the prettiest distress imaginable, to find myself made a mere 
Smithfield bargain of at last ! There, had I projected one of the 
most sentimental elopements! — so becoming a disguise! — so ami- 
able a ladder of ropes! — Conscious moon — four horses — Scotch 
parson — with such surprise to Mrs. Malaprop — and such para- 
graphs in the newspapers! — Oh, I shall die with disappointment. 

Jul, I don't wonder at it 1 



168 T//E RIVALS, 

Lyd, Now — s?.(l reverse! — what have I to expect, but, after a 
deal of flimsy preparations with a bishop's licence, and my aunt's 
blessing, to go simpering up to the altar ; or perhaps be cried three 
times in a country church, and have an unmannerly fat clerk ask the 
consent of every butcher in the parish to join John Absolute and 
Lydia Languish, spinster ! Oh that I should live to hear myself 
called Spinster ! 

JiiL Melancholy indeed ! 

Lyd. How mortifying, to remember the dear delicious shifts I 
used to be put to, to gain half a minute's conversation with this 
fellow I-V How often have I stole forth, in the coldest night in 
January, and found him in the garden, stuck like a dripping statue ! 
There would he kneel to me in the snow, and sneeze and cough so 
pathetically! he shivering with cold and I with apprehension! and 
while the freezing blast numbed our joints, how warmly would he 
press me to pity his flame, and glow with mutual ardor! — Ah, 
Julia, that was something like being in love. 

Jul. If I were in spirits, Lydia, I should chide you only by laugh- 
ing heartily at you ; but it suits more the situation of my mind, al 
present, earnestly to entreat you not to let a man, who loves yoi 
with sincerity, suffer that unhappiness from your caprice, which 1 
know too well caprice can inflict. 

Lyd. O Lud ! what has brought my aunt here ? 

Enter Mrs. Malaprop, Fag, and David. 
Mrs. Mai. So! so! here's fine work ! — here's fine suicide, par 
ricide, and simulation, going on in the fields! and Sir Anthony not 
to be found to prevent the antistrophe ! 

Jul. For Heaven's sake, madam, what 's the meaning of this ? 
Mrs, Mai. That gentleman can tell you — *t was he enveloped thi 
affair to me. 

A COMEDY. 169 

Lyd. Do, sir, will you, inform us ? [To Fag. 

Fag, Ma'am, I should hold myself very deficient in every requi- 
site that forms the man of breeding, if I delayed a moment to give 
all the information in my power to a lady so deeply interested in the 
affair as you are. 

Lyd. But quick ! quick, sir ! 

Fag. True, ma'am, as you say, one should be quick in divulging 
matters of this nature ; for should .we be tedious, perhaps while we 
are flourishing on the subject, two or three lives may be lost ! 

Lyd, O patience ! — Do, ma'am, for Heaven's sake ! tell us what 
is the matter ? 

Mrs, Mai, Why, murder *s the matter ! slaughter 's the matter ! 
killing 's the matter! — but he can tell you the perpendiculars. 

Lyd, Then, prithee, sir, be brief. 

Fag: Why then, ma'am, as to murder — I cannot take upon me to 
say — and as to slaughter, or manslaughter, that will be as the jury 
finds it. 

Lyd, But who, sir — who are engaged in this } 

Fag, Faith, ma'am, one is a young gentleman whom I should be 
very sorry anything was to happen to — a very pretty behaved 
gentleman ! We have lived much together, and always on terms. 

Lyd, But who is this } who } who } who } 

Fag, My master, ma'am — my master — I speak of my master. 

Lyd, Heavens ! What, Captain Absolute ! 

Mrs, Mai. Oh, to be sure, you arc frightened now ! 
Jul. 3ut who are with him, sir } 

Fag. As to the rest, ma'am, this gentleman can inform you better 
than I. 

Jul. Do speak, friend. [To David. 

Dav. Look'ee^ my lady — by the mass! there's mischief going 



on. Folks don't use to meet for amusement with firearms, firelocks, 
fire-engines, fire-screens, firc-oflicc, and the devil knows what other 
crackers beside \ — This, my lady, I say, has an angry bvor. 

Jid. But who is there beside Captain Absolute, friend ? 

Daw M y poor J iaster — under favor for mentioning; him finsL 
You know me, my lady — I am D3\'id — and my master of course. 
is, or was, SaukcAcr cs. Then comes Squire Faulkland. 

Jui Uo, ma'am, let us instantly endeavor to prevent mischief, 

Mrs. Mai. O fie ! — it would be very inelegant in us : — we should 
only participate things. 

An", Ah! do, Mrs, Aunt, save a few lives — they are desperately 
given, believe me, — Alcove all, there is that blood-thirsty Philistine, 
Sir Luciii'S O'Triggcr. 

Mn. Mai. Sir Lucius O'Trigger ? O mercy ! have they drawn 
poor little dear Sir Lucius into the scrape? — Why, how you stand, 
girl I you have no more ffcling than one of the Derbj 
factions ! 

Lyd. What are we to do, madam .' 

Mrs. Mai. Why fly with the utmost felicity, to be.sure, to prevent 
mischief ! — Here, friend, you can show us the place ? 

Fag. If you please, ma'am, I will conduct you, — David, do you 
look for Sir Anthony. \Exit David, 

Mrs. Mai. Come, girls ! this gentleman wil l ■"htjir t us. — Come, 
sir, you're our envoy — lead the way, and we'll precede. 

Fag. Not a step before the ladies for the world! 

Airs. Mai. You 're sure you know the spot ,' 

Fag. I think I can find it, ma'am ; and one good thing is, we sbal' 
hear the report of the pistols as wc draw near, so we can't well mis 
them ; — never fear, ma'am, never fear. [Exeunt, lie talkin. 


A COMEDY. 17' 

Scene II. — The South Parade. 

Enter Captain Absolute, putting his sword under his great coat. 
Abs. A sword seen in the streets of Bath would raise as great an 
alarm as a mad dog. — How provoking this is in Faulkland ! — never 
punctual ! I shall be obliged to go without him at last. — Oh, the 
devil ! here *s Sir Anthony ! — how shall I escape him ? 

\AInfflcs up his face y and takes a circle to go off. 

Enter Sir Anthony Absolute. 

Sir Anth. How one may be deceived at a little distance ! only 
that I see he don't know me, I could have sworn that was Jack ! — 
Hey ! Gad's life ! it is. — Why, Jack, what are you afraid of ? hey ! — 
sure I 'm right. — Why Jack, — Jack Absolute ! [Goes up to him. 

Abs. Really, sir, you have the advantage of me: — I don't 
remember ever to have had the honor — ^my name is Saundcrson, 
at your service. 

Sir Anth. Sir, I beg your pardon — I took you — hey.^ — why, 
zounds ! it is — Stay — [Looks up to his face. \ So, so — your humble 
servant, Mr. Saunderson ! — Why you scoundrel, what tricks are you 
after now ? 

Abs. Oh, a joke, sir, a joke ! — I came here on purpose to look for 
you, sir. 

Sir Anth. You did ! well, I am glad you were so lucky : — but 
what are you muffled up so for ? — what 's this for ? — hey ! 

Abs, 'Tis cool sir; isn't it? — rather chilly somehow — but I 
shall be late — I have a particular engagement. 

Sir Anth. Stay!— Why, I thought you were looking for me? 
— Pray, Jack, where is 't you arc going ? 

Abs. Going, sir! 

Sir Anth. Ay, — where are you going ? 


SirAMtk. Yon wiBMnperiy ptqipf I 

^Uk I «u goiBfr rir, to— to— tD— 1» tjpda— aCr, to Lydia 
—to make matten iqi if I fould; — and I was lookiiq; ibr jron, 
rir, to— to— 

SirAmtk. To go vith jroi^ I aoppoae — W^ coom dung. 

Att. Obi Zouadtl ao, air. not for the wstUl — I wiahed to 
meet whh yon, air.«-to — to — to— You And it ooid. I'm tur^ 
air— ^Nt'd better not auy oat 

StrAuOk. Cooll— not at aa— Wcfl, Jade— and what wiD you 
aay to LydiaF 

. Ait. Cfb, ^, beg ber pardon, humor her — ptomiae and vov: 
but I detain you, sir — coouder the cdd air on your goat 

SirAMtk. Oh, not at aSI — not at altl I'm in no hony.- 
Ah ! Jack, you youngsters, when once you are wounded here [Put- 
ting his hand to Caftain Absolute's brcasl.\ Hey ! what the deuce 
have you got here? 

Abs. Nothing, sir — nothing. 

Sir Anth. What 's this ? — here 's something damned hard. 

Abs. Oh, trinkets, sir! trinkets! — a bauble for Lydia! 

Sir Anth. Nay, let me see your taste. — [Pulls his coat open, the 
sword falls.] Trinkets! — a bauble for Lydia! — Zounds! sirrah, 
you are not going to cut her tJiroat, are you? 

Abs. Ha! ha! ha! — I thought it would divert you, sir, though 
I didn't mean to tell you till afterwards. 

Sir Anth. You didn't? — Yes, this isavcry diverting trinket, truly! 

Abs. Sir, I'll explain to you. — You know, sir, Lydia is ro*nan- 
tic, devilish romantic, and very absurd of course : now, sir, I intend, 
if she refuses to forgive me, to unshcath this sword, and swear 
■^I'll fall upon its point, and expire at her feet! 

A COAfEDV. 173 

Sir Anth, Fall upon a fiddlestick's end! — why, I suppose it is 
the very thing that would please her. — Get along, you fool ! 

Abs. Well, sir, you shall hear of my success — you shall hear. 
— O Lydia ! — forgive mcy or this pointed steel — says I. 

Sir Anth. O^ booby ! stab away and welcome — says she, — Get 
along and damn your trinkets ! {Exit Captain Absolute. 

Enter David, running, 

Dav, Stop him ! stop him ! Murder ! Thief ! Fire ! — Stop 
fire! Stop fire! — O Sir Anthony — call! call! bid *m stop! Mur- 
der ! fire ! 

Sir Anth, Fire ! Murder ! — Where } 

Dav. Oons ! he *s out of sight ! and I 'm out of breath ! for my 
part ! O Sir Anthony, why did n't you stop him } why did n't you 
stop him } 

Sir Anth. Zounds ! the fellow ^s mad ! — Stop whom } stop 
Jack } 

Dav, Ay, the captain, sir! — there's murder and slaughter 

Sir Anth, Murder ! 

Dav, Ay, please you, Sir Anthony, there's all kinds of mur- 
der, all sorts of slaughter to be seen in the fields : there's fighting 
going on, sir — bloody sword-and-gun fighting! 

Sir Anth. Who are going to fight, dunce .^ 

Dav, Everybody that I know of. Sir Anthony: — everybody is 
Soing to fight, my poor master. Sir Lucius O'Trigger, your son, 
^hc captain 

Sir Anth. Oh, the dog ! — I sec his tricks. — Do you know 
^Hc place? 

DaiK King's-Mead-Fields. 

Sir Anth, You know the way ? 

Dav. Not an inch; but I '11 call the mayor — aldermen — consta- 


bles — churchwardens — and beadles — wc can't be too many to 
part them. 

SirAnih. Come along— give me you* shoulder I we'll get 
assistance as we go — the lying villain — Well, I shall be in such 
a frenzy-1 — So — this was the history of his trinkets I 1 11 bauble 
I [Exeunt 

Scene lU.—Kin^sMiod-Fields. 

Enter Sir Lucius OTrigger and Acres, wiik pieUls. 

Acres. li>i my valor t then, Sir. Lucius^ forty yards is a good 
distance. Odds levels and aims! — I say it is a good distance. 

Sir Luc. Is it for muskets or small field-pieces? Upon my con- 
science, Mr. Acres, you must leave those things to mc — Stay now 
— I '11 show . you. — [Measures paces along iki x/e^.] There now, 
that is a very pretty distance — a pretty gentleman's distance. 

Acres. Zounds! we might as well fight in a sentxy-box! I tell 
you, Sir Lucius, the farther he is off, the cooler I sludt take my aim. 

Sir Luc, Faith ! then I suppose you would aim at him best of all 
if he was out of sight ! 

Acres, Xo, Sir Lucius ; but I should think forty or eight-and- 
thirty yards 

Sir Luc. The* ! \)\\o ! nonsense ! three or four feet between tht 
mouths of your pistols is as good as a mile. 

Acres, Odds bullets, no! — by my valor! there is no merit v. 
killing him so near : do, my dear Sir Lucius, let me bring him dow 
at a long shot : — a long shot, Sir Lucius, if you love me ! 

Sir I^uc. Well, the gentleman's friend and I must settle that. 
But tell me now, Mr. Acres, in case of an accident, is there any litt ^ '^ 
will or commission I could execute for you ? 

A COMEDY. 175 

Acres, I am much obliged to you, Sir Lucius — but I don*t under- 

Sir Luc, Why, you may think there *s no being shot at without a 
little risk — and if an unlucky bullet should carry a quietus with it — 
I say it will be no time then to be bothering you about family 

Acres, A quietus ! 

Sir Luc. For instance, now — if that should be the case — would 
you choose to be pickled and sent home? — or would it be the same 
to you to lie here in the Abbey ? — I *m told there is very snug lying 
in the Abbey. 

Acres. Pickled! — Snug lying in the Abbey! — Odds tremors! 
Sir Lucius, don't talk so ! 

Sir Luc. I suppose, Mr. Acres, you never were engaged in an 
affair of this kind before } 

Acres, No, Sir Lucius, never before. 

Sir Luc, Ah ! that 's a pity — there *s nothing like being used to a 
thing. — Pray now, how would you receive the gentleman's shot } 

Acres. Odds files! — I've practised that — there. Sir Lucius — 
there. — [^Puts hivisclf in an attitude^ A side-front, hey ? Odd ! 
I '11 make myself small enough : I *11 stand edgeways. 

Sir Luc, Now — you're quite out — for if you stand so when I 
take my aim [Lerc//in/f at hint. 

Acres. Zounds I Sir Lucius — arc you sure it is not cocked } 

Sir I^uc, Never fear. 

Acres. But — but — you don't know — it may go off of its own 
head ! 

Sir I^uc. Pho ! be easy. — Well, now if I hit you in the body my 
bullet has a double chance — for if it misses a vital part of your right 
side — 'twill be very hard if it don't succeed on the left ! 


Acres. A vital jjart ! 

Sir Lnc. But, there — fix yourself so — \_placing Am] — let him 
see the broadside of your full front ^thcre — now a ball or two may 
pass clean through )our body, and never do any harm at all, 

Atres. Clean through mc ! — a ball or two clean through mc ! 

Sir Lhc. Ay — may they — ami tt is much the gcnteelest atti- 
tude into the bargain. 

Acres. Lookoc ! Sir Lucius — ^ I 'd just as licvc l>c shot in an 
Ewkward posture as a genteel one — so, by my valor! 1 will stand 

Sir Luc, [Looking at Ais wir/cji,] Sure they don't mean to disap- 
point U9 — Hah! — no, faith — I ibink I see them coming. 

Acres. Hey ! — what ! — coming! 

Sir Lue. Ay, — Who are those yonder getting over the slilc ? 

Acres. There arc two of them indeed ! — well — let them come — 
hey. Sir Lucius I — wc — wc — we — we — won't run. 

Sir Luc. Rim ! 

Acres. No — I say — we won't run, by my valor [ 

Sir Luc. What the devil 's the matter with you ? 

Acres. Nothing — nothings my dear friend — my dear Sir Luc5_ 
— but I — I — I don't feel quite so bold, somehow, as I did. 

Sir Luc. O fie! — consider your honor. 

Acres. Ay — true — my honor. Do, Sir Lucius, edge in aw «:rz^ 
or two every now and then about my honor. 

Sir Luc. Well, here they 're coming. \Loot x' .i^'-'i 

Acres. Sir Lucius — if I wa'n't with you, I should almost tt»£ ^k 
I was afraid. — If my valor should leave me! — Valor will coTXie 
and go. 

Sir Luc. Then pray keep it fast, while you have it. 
Acres. Sir Lucius — I doubt it is going — yes — my valor is cer- 

A COMEDY, 177 

tainly going ! — it is sneaking off! — I feel it oozing out as it were, 
at the palms of my hands ! 

Sir Luc. Your honor — your honor. — Here they are. 

Acres. O mercy ! — now — that I was safe at Clod- Hall ! or could 
be shot before I was aware ! 

Enter Faulkland and Captain Absolute. 

Sir Luc. Gentlemen, your most obedient. — Hah ! — what, Cap- 
.tain Absolute! — So, I suppose, sir, you are come here, just like 
myself — to do a kind office, first for your friend — then to proceed 
to business on your own account. 

Acres. What, Jack ! — my dear Jack ! — my dear friend ! 

Abs. Hark'ee, Bob, Beverley 's at hand. 

Sir Luc. Well, Mr. Acres, — I don*t blame your saluting the gen- 
tleman civilly. — \To Faulkland.] So, Mr. Beverley, if you '11 choose 
your weapons, the captain and I will measure the ground. 

Faulk. My weapons, sir. 

Acres. Odds life ! Sir Lucius, I 'm not going to fight Mr. Faulk- 
land ; these are my particular friends. 

Sir Luc. What, sir, did you not come here to fight Mr. Acres.? 

Faulk. Not I, upon my word, sir. 

Sir Luc. Well, now, that 's mighty provoking ! But I hope, Mr. 
Faulkland, as there are three of us come on purpose for the game — 
you won't be so cantankerous as to spoil the party by sitting out. 

Abs. O pray, Faulkland, fight to oblige Sir Lucius. 

Faulk, Nay, if Mr. Acres is so bent on the matter 

Acres. No, no, Mr. Faulkland; — 1*11 bear my disappointment 
like a Christian. — Look'ee, Sir Lucius, there's no occasion at all 
for me to fight ; and if it is the same to you, I 'd as licvc let it 

Sir Luc. Observe me, Mr. Acres — I must not be trifled with. 



Von have — ceruinly clulleaged somebody — and you came here to 
li};lt( him. — Ni>w, if thai gcDtlcnun is willing to represent btni — 
I can't »ce, lot mjr sool, why it is n't just the same thing. 

Acres. Why no — Sir Lucius — I tell you 't is one Beverley I 'v« 
chaltenged — a fellow, you sec, that dare not show his face! — li kt 
were here, I'd make him give up his pretensions directly ! 

Abs. Hold, Bob — let me set you right — there is no such man as 
Beverley in the case. — Thv penon who assumed that name is before 
you ; and as bis pretensions are the same in both characters, be is 
ready to sup]x>rt them in whatever way you please. 

Sir Ltu. Weil, this is lucky. — Now you have an opportunity 

Acres. What, quarrel with my dear friend Jack Absolute? not if 
he were fifty Bcverleys ! Zounds ! Sir Lucius, you would not have 
me so unnatural. 

Sir Luc. Upon my conscience, Mr. Acres, your valor has oozed 
away with a vengeance. 

Acres. Not in the least ! Odds backs and abettors ! I '11 be your 
second with all my heart — and if you should get a guieius you may 
command me entirely. I '11 get you stiug lying in the Abbey here ; 
or pickle you, and send you over to Blunderbuss-Hall, or anything of 
the kind, with the greatest pleasure. 

Sir Luc. Pho ! plio ! you are little better than a coward. 

Acres. Mind, gentlemen, he calls me a coward; coward was the 
word, by my valor. 

Sir Luc. Well, sir ? 

Acres. Look 'cc, Sir Lucius, 't is n't that I mind the word coward 
— coivard may be said in joke — But if you had called me z. poltroon, 
odds daggers and balls 

Sir Luc. Well, sir? 

Acres. 1 should have thought you a very ill-bred man. 

^ r\ 

A COMEDY, 179 

Sir Luc, Pho ! you are beneath my notice. 

Abs, Nay, Sir Lucius, you can't have a better second than my 
friend Acres — He is a most determined dog — called in the country 
Fighting Bob, — He generally kills a man a week — don't you, Bob ? 

Acres. Ay — at home ! 

Sir Luc, Well, then, captain, 'tis we must begin — so come out, 
my little counsellor — [Draws his sword] — and ask the gentleman 
whether he will resign the lady without forcing you to proceed 
against him ? 

Abs. Come on then, sir — [Draws] \ since you won't let it be an 
amicable suit, here 's my reply. 

Enter Sir Anthony Absolute, David, Mrs. Malaprop, Lvdia, 

and Julia. 

Dav, Knock 'em all down, sweet Sir Anthony ; knock down 
my master in particular; and bind his hands over to their good 
behavior ! 

Sir Anth. Put up. Jack, put up, or I shall be in a frenzy — how 
came you in a duel, sir.^ 

Abs. Faith, sir, that gentleman can tell you better than I ; 't was 
he called on me, and you know, sir, I serve his majesty. 

Sir Anth, Here 's a pretty fellow ; I catch him going to cut a 
man's throat, and he tells me he serves his majesty! — Zounds! 
sirrah, then how durst you draw the king's sword against one of his 

Abs, Sir, I tell you ! that gentleman called me out, without 
explaining his reasons. 

Sir Anth, Gad ! sir, how came you to call my son out, without 
explaining your reasons? 

Sir Luc, Your son, sir, insulted me in a manner which my honor 
could not brook. 


Sir Aatk ZoDfkife ! Jack, bow dant voa mstUt the centlonaa in 

a nunocr which hb booor ceald oat bnMik? 

Mn. Mai. Come, raiDe, let's bare no boaor bc(are Udies — 
Captain Absolute, come here — How could yoa intimidAte us ao ? — 
Here '« LydU baa bccD tcnifiod to death for j'oa 

Ah. For fear I aboukl be killed, or escape, nu'am f 

Mr*. Mai. Nay, no dclusuMis to the past — Lydta is cooviitcal; 
qicak, child. 

Sir Liu. With your leave, ma'am, I must put in a word here — 
I believe I could interpret the yuung lady's silence. — Xovr mark 

Lyd. What is ii you mean, sir? 

Sir Luf. Come, cumc, Delia, we roost be serious now — this is 
no time for trilling. 

Lyd. 'T is Imc, sir ; and yunr rcprooE bids me o0cr this gcntlc- 
maii my Iiaufl, .nni vulki! thi; rL'Hirn nf liis afffclinns. 

Abs. O ! my little angel, say you so .' — Sir Lucius — I perceive 
there must be some mistake here, with regard to the affront which 
you affirm I have given you. I can only say that it could not have 
been intentional. And as you must be convinced that I should not 
fear to support a real injury — you shall now see that I am not 
ashamed to atone for an inadvertency — I ask your pardon. — But 
for this lady, while honored with her approbation, I will support my 
claim against any man whatever. 

Sir Audi. Well said, Jack, and I '11 stand by you, my boy. 

Acres. Mind, I give up all my claim — I make no pretensions to 
anything in the world — and if I can't get a wife without fighting for 
her, by my valor ! I '11 live a bachelor. 

Sir Luc. Captain, give mc yoiir hand — an affront handsomely 
acknowledged becomes an obligation ; — and as for the lady — if she 
cliouscs to deny her own handwriting, here [Takes out letters. 

_ r^ 

A COMEDY. l8l 

Mrs. Mai, O, he will dissolve my mystery! — Sir Lucius, per- 
haps there's some mistake, — perhaps I can illuminate 

Sir Luc. Pray, old gentlewoman, don*t interfere where you have 
no business. — Miss Languish, arc you my Delia, or not ? 

Lyd. Indeed, Sir Lucius, I am not. 

[ Walks aside with Captain Absolute. 

Mrs, Ma L Sir Lucius OTrigger — ungrateful as you are — I 
own the soft impeachment — pardon my blushes, I am Delia. 

Sir Luc, You Delia — pho ! pho ! be easy, 

Mrs, MaL Why, thou barbarous Vandyke — those letters are 
mine — When you are more sensible of my benignity — perhaps I 
may be brought to encourage your addresses. 

Sir Luc, Mrs. Malaprop, I am extremely sensible of your conde- 
scension ; and whether you or Lucy have put this trick on me, I am 
equally beholden to you. — And to show you I am not ungrateful. 
Captain Absolute, since you have taken that lady from me, I '11 give 
you my Delia into the bargain. 

Abs, I am much obliged to you, Sir Lucius ; but here 's my 
friend. Fighting Bob, unprovided for. 

Sir Luc, Hah ! little Valor — here, will you make your for- 
tune } 

Acres. Odds wrinkles ! No. — But give me your hand, Sir Lucius, 
forget and forgive ; but if ever I give you a chance of pickling me 
again, say Bob Acres is a dunce, that 's all. 

Sir Anih. Come, Mrs. Malaprop, don't be cast down — you are in 
your bloom yet. 

Mrs. Mai. O Sir Anthony — men are all barbarians. 

\All retire but Julia and Faulkland. 

Jul. {Aside.'lYit, seems dejected and unhappy — not sullen; there 

was some foundation, however, for the tale he told me — O woman I 



how true sliotiU be yoor jadcmcot. vliea ymt reaolution u so 


FmUt, JoHal — bow cas I sue for wfaal I so Ultk deserve? 
I dan: not prooiDe — yet Hope U the ehDd of iVautc;ice. 

Jui. Oh! Faulkland, yoa have not been luore taulty in your 
unkttid treatment of me, than f an now in wanting indinatioD t» 
resent il. A» my heart honcsUy bids ne pUce my weakness to thu 
account of love, 1 tbouM be ungenerous not to admit the same plea 
for yours, 

J-'auli. Now I shall be blest tndeetl ! 

SirAnfA. [Oming^ //roan/.] What 's going on here ? — So )-oo 
bnvc been quarrclIiDg too, I warrant ! — Come, Julia, I never iater- 
fercd before ; but let mc ba\'e a hand in the matter at last. — All the 
fault I have ever seen in my friend Faulkland seemed to proceed 
from what he calls the delicacy and warmth of his affection for you. 
— There, marry him directly, Julia ; you "11 find he '11 mend surpris- 
ingly ! [T/ie rest cotue forward. 

Sir Luc. Come, now, I hope there is no dissatisfied person, but 
what is content ; for as I have been disappointed myself, it will be 
very hard if I have not the satisfaction of seeing other people suc- 
ceed better 

Acres. Vou are riyht, Sir Lucius. — So Jack, I wish you joy — Mr. 
Faulliland the same. — Ladies, — come now, to show you I 'ni neither 
vexed nor an_^ry, otitis tabors ant! pipes ! I '11 order the fiddles in half 
an hour to the \ew Rooms — and I insist on your all meeting nic 

Sir Aiit/i. 'Gad ! .sir, I like your spirit ; and at night we single 
lads will drink a liealth to llic jouny couples, and a husband to Mrs. 
Mala prop. 

J\iii!i:. Our parlncTs arc stolen from u.s, Jack — I hope to be con- 

^ r^ 

A COMEDY, 183 

gratulated by each other — yotirs for having checked in time the 
errors of an ill-directed imagination, which might have betrayed an 
innocent heart ; and mine, for having, by her gentleness and candor, 
reformed the unhappy temper of one who by it made wretched whom 
he loved most, and tortured the heart he ought to have adored. 

Abs, Well, Jack, we have both tasted the bitters, as well as the 
sweets of love ; with this difference only, that you always prepared the 
bitter cup for yourself, while / 

Lyd. Was always obliged to me for it, hey! Mr. Modesty.^ 

But come, no more of that — our happiness is now as unalloyed as 

Jul. Then let us study to preserve it so : and while Hope pictures 
to us a flattering scene of future bliss, let us deny its pencil those 
colors which are too bright to be lasting.— When hearts deserving 
happiness would unite their fortunes, Virtue would crown them with 
an unfading garland of modest hurtless flowers ; but ill-judging Pas- 
sion will force the gaudier rose into the wreath, whose thorn offends 
them when its leaves are dropped I [Exeunt ontnes. 

BY TUB AtrmoR. 


LADtcs, for j«D — 1 besrd our poet say — 

He 'd tr}- to coax some Mwm/fnnn his play : 

" One moral'* pJaiu," cried I, •* without more fuss- 

Throuyii all llic Jiania — ulicCiiei' liamnd or not — 

Love giids the scene, and ivoineit guide thep/oi. 

From every rank obedience is our due — 

D 'ye doubt ? — The world's great stage shall prove it true." 

The cit, well skill'd to shun domestic strife, 
Will sup abroad ; bat first he '11 ask his wi/e : 
John Trot, his friend, for once will do the same, 
But then — he '11 just step home to tcU his dame. 

The surly Squire at noon resolves to rule, 
And half the day — Zounds! madam is a fool! 
Convinced at night, the vanquish'd victor says, 
Ah, Kate! you women have such coaxing ways ! 

ThcypZ/j' Tti/rr chides each tardy blade, 
Tilt reeling Bacchus calls on Love for aid : 
Then with each toast he sees fair bumpers swim. 
And kisses Cliloc on the sparkling brim ! 



Nay, I have heard that Statesmen — great and wise — 
Will sometimes counsel with a lady's eyes ! 
The servile suitors watch her various face, 
She smiles preferment, or she frowns disgrace, 
Curtsies a pension here — there nods a place. 

Nor with less awe, in scenes of humbler life, 
Is viewd the fuistress^ or is heard the wife. 
The poorest peasant of the poorest soil. 
The child of poverty, and heir to toil. 
Early from radiant Love's impartial light 
Steals one small spark to cheer this world of night : 
Dear spark ! that oft through winter's chilling woes 
Is all the warmth his little cottage knows ! 

The wandering Tar, who not lov years has press'd, 
The widow'd partner of his day of rest, 
On the cold deck, far from her arms removed, 
Still hums the ditty which his Susan loved ; 
And while around the cadence rude is blown, 
The boatswain whistles in a softer tone. 

The Soldier, fairly proud of wounds and toil. 
Pants for the ttiumph of his Nancy's smile ; 
But ere the battle should he list* her cries. 
The lover trembles — and the hero dies ! 
That heart, by war and honor steeVd to fear, 
Droops on a sigh, and sickens at a tear ! 

But ye more cautious, ye nice-judging few, 
Who give to Beauty only Beauty's due, 
Though friends to Love — ye view with deep regret 
Our conquests marr'd, our triumphs incomplete, 


Till pHliah'd Wit more lasting cUarius disclose. 
And Judgment fix the d^iits which Beauty throw 

In funiale breasts did sense and merit rule, 
The lover's mind would ask no oilier scbot^ ; 
Shamed into sense, the scholars of our eyes, 
Our beaux from gallautry would soon be wise ; 
Would gladly liiiht, their homage to improve, 
The lamp of Knowledge at the torch of Love 1 


^ /"^ 


TTARLY in the spring of 1776 Richard Brinsley Sheridan suc- 
'^^-^ ceeded David Garrick as the manager of Drury Lane Theatre. 
Within a little more than a year Sheridan had brought out the 'Rivals/ 
a comedy in five acts, *St. Patrick's Day,' a farce in one act, and the 
* Duenna/ an opera in three acts. Great expectations were excited by 
the announcement of his first play at his own theatre. The produc- 
tion of the 'Trip to Scarborough' in February, 1777, was only a 
temporary disappointment, for it was soon noised abroad that a more 
important comedy in five acts was in preparation. At last, on May 
8, 1777, the ' School for Scandal ' was acted for the first time on any 

Garrick had read the play, and he thought even more highly of it 
than he had thought of Mrs. Sheridan's 'Discovery* many years 
before. He aided the author with much practical advice, and volun- 
teered to write the prologue, a form of composition for which his 
lively fancy and neat versification were particularly suited. The 
great hopes excited for the comedy barely escaped disappointment — 
for on the night before the first performance, as Sheridan told the 
House of Commons many years later, he was informed that it could 
not be performed, as a license was refused. It happened at this time 
there was the famous city contest for the office of chamberlain, 



between Wilkes and llopklrs. The bllcr hail been charged with 
some practices simiUr to those o( Afgsts. the Jew, in lending mocey 
to young men under age, and it was supposed that the character of 
the play wa» levelled at him, in order to injure him in his contest, in 
which be was supported by the mtni&terial interest. In the warmth 
of a coDtcsted election, the piece was represented as a ^ctious and 
seditioas opposition to a court candidate. We, however, went to Lord 
Hertford, then lord chambcrUin, who bughcd at the affair and gave 
the licence. Sheridan told l-ord Byron that the next night, after 
the grand success of the ' School for Scandal * he was knocked down 
and taken to the wntch-housc, for making a row in the street, and 
being found intoxicated by the watchman. 

Perhaps thi» was only a bit of Hibernian h)-pcrbo1c, though a 
man's heail mi^ht well reel under a triumph so ovcrwhclminjj. There 
seems to have been hardly a dissenting voice. Merry — Della- 
Cruscan Merry, the future husband of Miss Brunton, who, under his 
name, was afterward the leading actress of America — did, it is true, 
object to the great scandal-scene. " Why do not the dramatis 
fersofia," he said, ".stop talking, and let the play go on?" The 
comedy was a snccess from the rising of the curtain, but it was the 
falling of the screen — although Garrick thought the actors stood a 
little too long without moving — which raised the audience to the 
highest degree of enthusiasm. Reynolds, the dramatist, relates that 
as he was passing about nine on this evening through the pit-passage, 
" I heard such a tremendous noise over my head that, fearing the 
theatre was proceeding to fall about it, I ran for my life ; but found 
the next morning that the noise did not arise from the falling of the 
house, but from the falling of the screen in the fourth act, so violent 
and tumultuous were the applause and laughter." 

The singular success of the 'School for Scandal' seems to have 


been greatly aided by the unusual excellence of the acting. Charles 
Lamb says, " No piece was ever so completely cast in all its parts as 
this manager's comedy." The characters fitted the actors as though 
they had been measured for them ; as, indeed, they had. Sheridan 
chose his performers, and modified his play, if needed, to suit their 
peculiarities, with the same shrewdness that he showed in all such 
matters. When reproached with not having written a love-scene for 
Charles and Maria^ he said that it was because neither Mr. Smith 
nor Miss P. Hopkins (who played the parts) was an adept at stage 
love-making. King, the original Lord Ogleby in the 'Clandestine 
Marriage' — a part written by Garrick for himself — was Sir Peter ^ 
and Mrs. Abington was Lady Teazle, No one was better suited than 
John Palmer, from whom Sheridan may well have derived some hints 
oi Joseph Surface; Boaden relates a characteristic interview between 
him and the manager, when he returned to the theatre after an 
escapade. "My dear Mr. Sheridan," began the actor, with clasped 
hands and penitent humility, " if you could but know what I feel at 
this moment here!** laying one hand upon his heart. Sheridan, with 
his usual quickness, stopped him at once : " Why, Jack, you forgot / 
wrote it ! " Palmer declared that the manager s wit cost him some- 
thing, " for I made him add three pounds per week to the salary I 
had before my desertion." The other actors were hardly inferior to 
King and Palmer. Parsons, afterward the original Sir Fretful 
Plagiary^ was Crabtree ; and Dodd, who has been called ** the Prince 
of Pink Heels and Soul of Empty Eminence," was Sir Benjamin 
Backbite. The various characters fitted the actors who played them 
with the most exact nicety ; and the result was a varied and harmo- 
nious performance of the entire comedy. The acting showed the 
smoothness, and the symmetry, and the due subordination of the 
parts to the whole, which is the highest, and, alas ! the rarest of 


draraalic ezccDcncec Wilpate has noted thai there were more 
parts better pbycd in the 'School lor Scandal ' than be almost ever 
ronenibcnd to have seco in any other pUj; and CharW Lamb 
tbou-iit it "wme compensaiun for growiae old. to have «en the 
'School for Scandal ' in its glor^-." 

Dr. Watkins, rn hi< unnecessary biography of Sheridan, $aw fit 
to insinuate therein that Sheridan was not the real author of the 
'School for Scandal,' hot that it was the composition of a yoong 
lady, daughter of a merchant in Thames Street, who had left it 
with Sheridan for his judgment as a manager, "soon after which 
the fair writer, who was then in a «iaie of decline, went to Bristol 
Hot-WcUs, where she died." 

Pope well knew Ihe l)*pe to which this Dr. Watkins belonged 
("with him most authors steal thdr works or buy ; Garth did not 
write his own 'Dispensary'"); and the story which Pope crippled, 
as if by anticipation, Moore readily brought to ground by the publi- 
cation of the earlier and inchoate suggestions from which Sheridan 
finally formed the finished play. With the evidence of these grow- 
ing and gathering fragments before us, we can trace the inception of 
the idea, and the slow accretion by which it got rounded at last into 
its present complex symmetry. Moore fills page after page of his 
Life of Sheridan with extracts from the notes and drafts of two dis- 
tinct plays — one containing the machinery of the scandalous college, 
to have been called possibly the ' Slanderers,' and the other setting 
before us the Tcasla and the Surfaces. This latter was, perhaps, 
the two-act comedy which Sheridan announced to Mr. Linley in 
1775, as being in preparation for the stage. The gradual amalga- 
mation of these two distinct plots, the growth of the happy thought 
of using the malevolent tittle-tattle of the first play as a background 
to set off the intrigues of the second, can be clearly traced in the 

^ r^ 


extracts given by Moore. In the eyes of some small critics this 
revelation of Sheridan's laborious method of working, this exhibition 
of the chips of his workshop has had a lowering effect on their 
opinion of Sheridan's ability. It is, perhaps, his own fault, for he 
affected laziness and sought the reputation of an off-hand wit. But 
the * School for Scandal ' is obviously not a spontaneous improvisa- 
tion. It is not labored, for its author had the art to conceal art, but 
its symmetrical smoothness and perfect polish cost great labor. It 
did not spring full armed from the brain of Jove. Jove was a god, and 
mere mortals must cudgel their poor brains long years to bring forth 
wisdom. No masterpiece was ever dashed off hurriedly. The power 
of hard work, and the willingness to take pains, are among the attri- 
butes of the highest genius. Balzac had them ; he spent the whole 
of one long winter night on a single sentence. So had Sheridan ; he 
told Ridgv/ay, to whom he had sold the copyright of this very play, 
and who asked for the manuscript again and again in vain, that he 
had been for nineteen years endeavoring to satisfy himself with the 
style of the 'School for Scandal,' but had not yet succeeded. A 
diamond of the first water, like this, is worth careful cutting — and 
even the chips are of value. Those given to the world by Moore are 
curious in themselves, independent of their use in disproving the 
charge of literary larceny preferred by Dr. Watkins. 

Since the publication of these extracts, those who seek to dis- 
credit Sheridan's originality have shifted their ground, and content 
themselves with drawing attention to the singular similarity of 
Joseph and Charles to Tom Jones and Blifil, They also remark upon 
the likeness of the scandal-scene to the satirical episode of the 
* Misanthrope ' of Moliire, and on the likeness of Joseph Surface to 
Tarinffe, M. Taine, who seems sometimes to speak slightingly of 
Sheridan, puts this accusation into most effective shape : " Sheridan 


took two chanclen from Fielding, BHfit and T*m J9»es, two plays 
<A Moli«re. * Le Miunthropbc ' and ' TartufFe,' and Uom bti ptussant 
materials, condensed with admirable cicvxrncss, be has constructed 
the moKt brilUaot fireworks imaginable." 

A glance al the play itself will show this to be a most exaggerated 
•tatemcnt The use of Molicre and Fielding is far slighter than 
alleged, and at moit to what does it all amount } But little more 
than the outline and faint colonng of two characters, and of a ven- 
few tnddenta. While the jiUy cuuM not exist without them, they 
are far from the most important. Lady TeasU and Sir Peter, the 
screen-scene ami the auction-scene — these arc what made the suc- 
cess of the 'School for Scandal,' and not what Sheridan may have 
derived from Fielding and Moli^e. Nor is this borrowing at atl as 
extensive as it may seem. Joseph is a hypocrite — so is Tartuffe, so 
is Blifil; but there are hypocrites and hypocrites, and the resem- 
blance can scarcely be stretched much farther. The rather rustic and 
— if the word may be risked — vulgar Tom Jones is as unlike as may 
be to that light and easy gentleman Charles. Yet it seems probable 
that Sheridan found in Tom Jones the first idea of the contrasted 
brothers of the ' School for Scandal.' Boaden has even seen the 
embryonic suggestion of the fall of the screen in the dropping of the 
rug in ^Tol!y Scagriiii's room, discovering the philosopher Square. 
Now, Sheridan had a marvellous power of assimilation. He extended 
a ready welcome to all floating seeds of thought, and in his fertile 
brain they would speedily spring up, bringing forth the best they 
could. Hut to evolve from the petty discomfiture of Square the 
almost unequalled effect of the screen-scene — to see in the one the 
germs of the other — were a task worthy even of Sheridan's quick 
eye. The indebtedness to Moliire is even less than to Fielding. 
We may put on one side Sheridan's ignorance of French — for in 

^ r^ 


Colley Gibber's * Non-Juror,* or in Bickerstaff's * Hypocrite,* he could 
find Moli^re's Tartiiffe; and the scandal-loving Cclitnhie of the 'Mis- 
anthrope,* he might trace in Wycherley*s 'Plain-Dealer.* If Sheri- 
dan borrowed from Moli^re — an indictment difficult of proof — he 
^was only following in the footsteps of his father, whose sole play, 
•Captain O' Blunder,' is based on 'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac' But 
Sheridan*s indebtedness to Moli^re is barely visible. It is almost as 
slight, indeed, as the borrowing from the * School for Scandal ' of 
vrhich Madame de Girardin was guilty for her fine comedy, 'Lady 
Tartuffe.* In any case, Sheridan's indebtedness is less to the ' Mis- 
anthrope' than to 'Tartuffe' — and even here there is little resem- 
blance beyond the generic likeness of all hypocrites. This resem- 
blance, such as it is, the French adapters of the ' School for Scandal ' 
chose to emphasize by calling their version the 'Tartuffe des Moeurs.' 
Although Sheridan was in general original in incident, he unhesi- 
tatingly made use of any happy phrases or effective locutions which 
struck his fancy in the course of his readings. He willingly distilled 
the perfume from a predecessor's flower ; and it was with pleasure 
that he cut and set the gem which an earlier writer may have 
brought to light. Witty himself, he could boldly conquer and annex 
the wit of others, sure to increase its value by his orderly govern- 
ment. .This can perhaps be justified on the ground that the rich 
can borrow with impunity ; or, deeming wit his patrimony, Sheridan 
may have felt that, taking it, he was but come into his own again ; as 
Molidre said, " Je prends mon bien q\x je le trouve." In the preface 
to the ' Rivals,' however, Sheridan has chosen to meet the charge of 
plagiarism. " Faded ideas," he said, " float in the fancy like half-for- 
gotten dreams, and the imagination in its fullest enjoyments becomes 
suspicious of its offspring, and doubts whether it has created or 
adopted." It is a curious coincidence that this very passage is 

■ifCiaa, ■ Oe 


I. the offderioe ol Oe | 
e pb , is lOBfA better tlao in 
A plijr in tbcse 
i plot. Great laxity 
of episode was aoc o^ ptmintit, faoc idaiast praised; and Uut 
Sberidan, wicb a labyq wtuck loK iCMtf so readily lo digrcs^oo. 
•fcooU huie KoHled hnactf as be t&d, sbmrs bis exact apprecialioa 
of the lovce of 'fc *»*■>■ cficct. But it mosi be coafcsscd that the 
construction of the 'School for Scandal,' when measured by our 
modem standards, seems a little loose — a little diffuse, perhaps. It 
ahows the welding of the two distinct plots. There can hardly be ' 
seen in it the ruling of a dominant idea, subordinating all the parts -^ 
to the effect of the whole. But, although the two original motives -^ 
have been united mechanically, although they have not flowed and fused -^ 
together in the hot spurt of homogeneous inspiration, the joining has -^3 

been so carefully concealed, and the whole structure has been over- "- 

laid with so much wit, that few people after seeing the play would.^E^ 
care to complain. The wit is ceaseless; and wit like Sheridan 's^^ 
would cover sins of construction far greater than those of the ' School^V 
for Sc;in<ial.' It is " slccjicd in the very brine of conceit, and sparkler* 
like mil in tht; fire," 

III his conccptiitn of charncter Sheridan was a wit rather than a 
lninn)rist. lie created character by a distinctly intellectual process; / 

lie (lid not liring it forth out of the depths, as it were, of his own '-j 



being. His humor — fine and dry as it was — was the humor of the 
wit. He had little or none of the rich and juicy, nay, almost oily 
humor of Falstaff, for instance. His wit was the wit of common- 
sense, like Jerrold*s or Sydney Smith's ; it was not wit informed with 
imagination, like Shakespeare's wit. But this is only to say again that 
Sheridan was not one of the few world-wide and all-embracing 
geniuses. He was one of those almost equally few who in their 
own line, limited though it may be, are unsurpassed. It has been 
said that poets — among whom dramatists are entitled to stand — 
may be divided into three classes ; those who can say one thing 
in one way — these are the great majority; those who can say one 
thing in many ways — even these are not so many as they would 
be reckoned generally ; and those who can say many things in many 
ways — these are the chosen few, the scant half-dozen who hold the 
highest peak of Parnassus. In the front rank of the second class 
stood Sheridan. The one thing he had was wit — and of this in all its 
forms he was master. His wit in general had a metallic smartness 
and a crystalline coldness ; it rarely lifts us from the real to the 
ideal ; and yet the whole comedy is in one sense, at least, idealized ; 
it bears, in fact, the resemblance to real life that a well-cut diamond 
has to a drop of water. 

Yet, the play is not wholly cold. Sheridan's wit could be genial 
as well as icy — of which there could be no better proof than the 
success with which he has enlisted our sympathies for the characters 
of his comedy. Sir Peter Teazle is an old fool, who has married a 
young wife ; but we are all glad when we see a prospect of his future 
happiness. Lady Teazle is flighty and foolish ; and yet we cannot 
help but like her. Charles we all wish well ; and as for Joseph^ we 
feel from the first so sure of his ultimate discomfiture, that we are 
ready to let him off with the light punishment of exposure. There 

«t^ c»tnK.iKitamiAmt 

iK Attceted an tiie ^enati 
an apiscTcnt 1«^ si ttmct. 
■■uace, Ac M iMw htui at j - wa^ in vWh 
E lOnii thetr jrey, tbc almcwt brnul 
•( iicT «inii)£;ii^ ts be a vidcnK, tfac 
im fiv £iB ^ tfac taoca ; bat tbcse an 
tfcink^AB^ftttmaf AexaOHK. Tfaat Sbcridm's 
«ta*«Bar ioK aiA Ian b 9n«% to he i^Jtflrd . Tbat in ibe 
tmrntiymnmammgi^Ulimg^ ^k phg- fee dwuld dm have seen 
iOB HMb»MdraBiribariHt^Ketf tfw Unteas mU> wbkh an 

He ^oa defaa rf Ac 'SoImI Iv Sandal*— the ooc tluns 

r of tbc tjpc «{ 
- b tbc unvaniDg 

»it of the characters. Ana ncn ooIt etc the cbaiacters all witn, 
but thci a" talk alike, Tflcir wii is Sheridan's uit, which is ven- 
^ooi «it iatJecd; bu; ii is Sheridan's own. and not Sir Pclcr Tea- 
tie's, or Backbite s, or Car/Uss's, or Z.«(^ Stumrrlfs. It is one man 
in time plaving manv parts. It is the one voitx always ; though 
the hamJs bt the hands of Esau, the voice is the voice of Jacoh 
And tliis quick wii and ready repartee is not confined to the ladies — 

and gentlemen ; the master is no better off than the man, and Can 

If a airs the- same wit as Charles. As Sheridan said in the ' Critic, """ 
he was '■ not for making slavish distinctions in a free country, andK 
KJvirij^ all thi; fine language to the upper sort of people." Now, ncy 
iliiubl llic <:haracttTa do all talk too well ; the comedy would be far" 
k-ss iiili rl;iiniri^ if tlicy did not. The stage is not life, and it is net 
inc-iiiit to lie ; it ha.s certain conventions on the acceptance of which 
lianas ils existence ; n. mere transcript of ordinary talk would be 
iiiaiilfti able. Wc meet bores enough in the world — let the theatre, 



at least, be free from them ; and therefore condensation is neces- 
sary, and selection and a heightening and brightening of talk. No 
doubt Sheridan pushed this license to its utmost limit, — at times 
even beyond it ; but in consequence his comedy, if a little less 
artistic in the reading, is far more lively in the acting. It has been 
said that in Shakespeare we find not the language we would use in the 
situations, but the language we should wish to use — that we should 
talk so if we could. We cannot all of us be as witty as the charac- 
ters of the * School for Scandal,* but who of us would not if he 
could } 

Wit of this kind is not to be had without labor. Because Sheri- 
dan sometimes borrowed, it does not follow that he was incapable of 
originating ; or, because he always prepared when possible, that he 
was incapable of impromptu. But he believed in doing his best on 
all occasions. If caught unawares, his natural wit was ready ; if, 
however, he had time for preparation, he spared no pains. He 
grudged no labor. He was willing to heat and hammer again and 
again — to file, and polish, and adjust, and oil, until the delicate 
machinery ran smoothly, and to the satisfaction even of his fastidi- 
ous eye. Even in his early youth Sheridan had the faculty of toiling 
over his work to his immediate improvement ; his friend Halhed 
compliments him on this in a letter written in 1770. As Sheridan 
himself said in two lines of 'Clio's Protest,' published in 1770 — a 
couplet often credited to Rogers — 

** You write with ease, to show your breeding, 
But easy writing's curst hard reading.** 

The * School for Scandal ' was not easy writing then, and it is not 
hard reading now. Not content with a wealth of wit alone — for he 
did not hold with the old maxim which says that jests, like salt, 


should be used sparingly; he salted with a lavish hand, and his plays 
have perhaps been preserved to us by this Attic sail — he sought 
the utmost refinement of language. An accomplished speaker him- 
self, he smoothed every sentence till it ran trippingly on the tongue. 
His dialogue is easy to speak as his songs are easy to sing. To add 
in any way to the lustre and brilliance of the slightest sentence of 
the ' School for Scandal,' to burnish a bit of dialogue, or brighten a 
soliloquy, could never cost Sheridan, lazy though he was, too much 
labor. "This kind of writing," as M. Taine says, "artificial and 
condensed as the satires of L. Bruy^re, is like a cut vial, into which 
the author has distilled, without reservation, all his reflections, his 
reading, his understanding." That this is true of Sheridan is obvi- 
ous. In the ' School for Scandal ' he has done the best he could ; 
he put into it all he had in him; it is the complete expression of his 
genius ; beyond it he could not go. 

After its first great success, the ' School for Scandal ' was not -^ 
long in crossing to America ; and its usual luck followed it to thesci^a 
shores. Mr. Ireland, in his admirable 'Records of the New York3^ 
Stage,' which it is always a duty and a pleasure to praise, noteas:s 
what was probably its first performance in New York, on the even-.#T 
ing of December i6, 1785, and on this occasion the comedy was casf^J 
to the full strength of the best company which had been then seen iwx 
America. Its success was instant and emphatic, and from that da;.csi 
to this it has never ceased to hold a first place among acting plays "^^ 
It became at once the standard by which other successful plays werx ^^ 
to be measured. Comedies were announced as "equal to the ' SchoKii* 
for Scandal,' or to any play of the century, the ' School for Scanda.^^ < 
not excepted." This sort of " odorous comparison " continued to or=:=^i 
tain for many years, and when some indiscreet admirer likened Me--»5 
Mowatt's ' Fashion ' to Sheridan's comedy, Poe took occasion to poi_ "*}( 

^ /^\ 


out that the general tone of * Fashion * was adopted from the ' School 
for Scandal/ to which, however, it bore, he said, just such affinity as 
the shell of the locust to the locust that tenants it, "as the spectrum 
of a Congreve rocket to the Congreve rocket itself." It does not, 
however, need a cruel critic to show us how unfair it was to compare 
Mrs. Mowatt's pretty but pretentious play with the Congreve rockets 
and the Congreve wit of Sheridan's masterpiece. That the * School 
for Scandal ' was the favorite play of Washington, who was fond of 
the theatre, has been recorded by Mrs. Whitelock, the sister of 
Sarah Siddons and of John Kemble, and for a time the leading tragic 
actress of America. And in one point in particular are these last- 
century performances in this country of especial interest to the 
student of American dramatic literature. On April i6, 1786, was 
first acted in this city the 'Contrast,' a comedy in five acts, by Royal 
Tyler, afterward Chief Justice of Vermont. It was the first Ameri- 
can play performed on the public stage by professional comedians. 
It contained in Jonathan^ acted by Wignell, the first of stage 
Yankees, and the precursor, therefore, of Asa Trenchard, Colonel 
Mulberry Sellers^ and Judge Bardwcll Slote, Perhaps a short extract 
from the play, which was published in 1790, will show its connection 
with the 'School for Scandal,* Jonathan^ green and innocent, and 
holding the theatre to be the " devil's drawing room," gets into it, 
however, in the belief that he is going to see a conjuror : — 

Jenny, Did you see the man with his tricks ? 

Jonathan, Why, I vow, as I was looking out for him, they lifted up a 
great green cloth and let us look right into the next neighbor's house. Have 
you a good many houses in New York made in that 'ere way ? 

Jenny, Not many. But did you see the family ? 

Jonathan, Yes, swamp it, I seed the family. 

Jenny, Well, and how did you like them ? 


Jmmtimm. Wdl. 1 «t)«. ibcr were pRttT Boch Ukc other iajtuSk*-. there 
■w a poor, (Dod^uttued ome of x baabaad, and ■ nd tantJpufa of « wife 

Jamj. Bat did yon see ao «ber folks? 

Jm^ km m . Yo; Acre wzt one jui i i g up i , the; called tuia Itr. Joseph ; 
be ullced aa sober asd as paoos u a Btmster: bat. Hke some minisien thai 
I kninr, be was a sly tike in his facait, for all thu ; be vas going to aslt a 
jvDBg woman lo spark it «ilb bin, and — the Lord baiT mcicy on my 
toul — the was aoother tnan's wife I 

It was in Amenca also that two of the mo&t noteworthy incidents 
in the career of the ' School for Scandal' occurred. One took place 
dtu'ing 3 vi»)t to this country- of Macrcady, who, early accustomed to 
esact the heavy villains of the stage, took a fanc>- to the part of 
Joseph, and, not finding it as prominent as he liked, sought to rectify 
this defect by boldly cutting down the other characters; and thus 
with the excision of the scandal-scene, the picture-scene, and several 
other scenes, the ' School for Scandal,' reduced to three acts, was 
played as an afterpiece, with Macready, very imperfect in the words 
of the part, as Joseph, dressed in the black coat and trousers of the 
nineteenth century. It may be remembered that Macready's greater 
predecessor as the chief of English tragedians, John Philip Kemble, 
was also wont to act in the * School for Scandal,' but he chose to 
appear as the more jovial and younger of the Surfaces, and his per- 
formance of the careless hero was known as Charles's Martyrdom, 

The second noteworthy incident was the performance of the 
' School for Scandal," on the centenary of its first production, on May 
8, 1877, at the Grand Opera House, Toronto, in the presence of the 
Governor General of Canada, Lord Dufferin, the great grandson of 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan. 

In the same year that this memorable performance took place in a 
former I-rench province, Miss Genevieve Ward, an American actress, 



appeared as Lady Teazle in Paris in a French version ; and the fore- 
most of Parisian dramatic critics, M. Francisque Sarcey seized the 
opportunity for a most interesting appreciation of the play. He con- 
sidered it one of the best of the second class, and, as in his view 
the first class would contain few plays but those of Shakespeare and 
Molifere, this is high praise. He ranked the 'School for Scandal' with 
the * Mariage de Figaro,' and instituted the comparison of Sheridan 
with Beaumarchais, which M. Taine had already attempted. But M. 
Sarcey held a more just as well as a more favorable opinion of the 
'School for Scandal' than M. Taine. An earlier French critic, Ville- 
main, who edited a close translation of the play for the series of for- 
eign masterpieces, declared it to be one of the most amusing and 
most wittily-comic plays which can anywhere be seen, and he hit 
upon one of its undoubted merits when he pointed out that its " wit 
is so radically comic that it can be translated, which, as all know, is 
the most perilous trial for wit possible." M. Sarcey informs us that 
the ' School for Scandal ' is now and has been for years, used as a 
text-book in French schools, and that he himself was taught to read 
English out of Sheridan's play. Such is also the opinion of M. 
H^g^sippe Cler, who published a French translation of the * School 
for Scanrlal ' in 1879, with a preface, in which he declared that Sheri- 
dan's comedy was particularly French, nay, even Parisian, and that it 
is absolutely harmless and fitted exactly for use in teaching in 
schools for girls. Oddly enough this is the exact reverse of the 
opinion of the French critics of a century ago. In 1788 the auction 
and screen scenes had been introduced into a little piece called the 
'Deux Neveux;' a year later a translation in French by M. Delille, 
with the permission, apparently, of Sheridan himself, was published 
in London. Certain episodes were utilized in the ' Portraits de Fam- 
ille/ the * Deux Cousins ' and ' Valsain et Florville ; ' and finally, in 


1789, a version of the whole play by Pluteau was acted as 'L'Homme 
Sentimental' — but the subject was too risky, and the scenes were 
too broad for the fastidious taste of the Parisians. Even Grimm was 
shocked by it — and one would think it took much to shock Grimm. 
A second adaptation was produced at the Thieltre Fran^ais ; it was 
called the * Tartuff e des Mceurs.' Fifty or sixty years ago, yet an- 
other version, * L'Ecole du Scandale,* by two melodramatic writers, 
Crosnier and Jouslin de la Salle, was acted at the Porte St. -Martin 
Theatre, with the pathetic Mme Dorval as Milady TizU, Oddly 
enough it was Mme DorvaFs husband. Merle, who was the cause of 
the first performance in France of the * School for Scandal * in Eng- 
lish by English actors. Merle was one of the managers of the Porte 
St.-Martin Theatre in 1822, and he arranged for a series of perfor- 
mances by the company of the Brighton Theatre, then managed 
by Mr. Penley. The English comedians opened their season with 
* Othello ' but it was only seven years after Waterloo, and Shakespeare 
was stormily received. F'or the second performance Sheridan tool 
Shakespeare's place, and the * School for Scandal ' was announced foi 
Friday, August 2, 1822. But the day was unlucky, and the mcl 
which took possession of the theatre would not allow the Englisl 
comedy to be acted at all. It is interesting to note the change whicl 
took place in France in the short space of five years. In 1827, whei 
the Covent Garden company appeared at the Od^on Theatre, the; 
met with a cordial welcome ; and they began their season with Sher 
dan's other comedy, the * Rivals.' 

The Germans were not behind the French in the enjoyment c 
the 'School for Scandal' Shroder, the actor and author, went froi 
Vienna to London — no small journey, a hundred years ago- 
expressly for the purpose of seeing it acted. He understood Englis 
well, and attended every performance of the piece while he was i 


England. On his return to Vienna, he produced an adaptation — for 
it is such, and not a translation, though the spirit of the original is 
well preserved — which has held the German stage ever since. The 
texture of the * School for Scandal,' its solidity of situation, its com- 
pact and easily comprehensible plot, and its ceaseless play of wit, — 
" a sort of El Dorado of wit," as Moore calls it, "where the precious 
metal is thrown about by all classes as carelessly as if they had not 
the least idea of its value,** — these were all qualities sure to commend 
it to German audiences as to French. Macready records himself as 
having seen in Venice an Italian version of the play — that by 
Carpani, probably — which could hardly have followed the original 
as closely as was to be desired ; but the strength of the situations and 
the contrast of the characters would always carry the piece through 
in any language and in spite of any alterations. There are transla- 
tions of the 'School for Scandal ' in many other languages. In 1877 
it was acted with success in Dutch at the Hague; and in 1884 a 
Gujarati version, adapted to modern Parsee life by Mr. K. N. Kabra- 
jee, was produced, also with success, at the Esplanade Theatre in 



Sir Pkter TeAn-s Mr. King. 

IVE» SfRFACt .... ... Mr. YtUtt. 

RRV Bumper .... ... .Vr. Gawdry 

Bekjawn Backbite Mr. Do,id. 

1 » SURFACB Mr. Palmer. 

ARL£s Surface Mr. SmilA. 

Snake Mr. Packer. 

Crabtree Mr. Parsons. 

RowLEy Mr. AUkin. 

Moses Mr. Baddeley. 

Trip Mr. Lamask. 

Lady Teazle Mn. Abington. 

Lady Sn'eerwell Miss Sherry. 

Mrs. Candour Miss Pope. 

Maria Miss P. Hopkin 

Gentlemen, Maitl, and Servants. 

SCENE — London. 





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. 

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. 

Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage. 

Ye matron censors of this childish age, 

Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare 

A fix'd antipathy to young and fair ; 

By cunning, cautious ; or by nature, cold. 

In maiden madness, virulently bold ! — 

Attend, ye skill'd to coin the precious tale. 

Creating proof, where innuendoes fail ! 

Whose practised memories, cruelly exact, 

Omit no circumstance, except the fact ! — 



Attenil, all ye wlm boast, — 

or old or yoiing, — 

The living libel of a slanderous tongue! 

So Shalt my theme as far cc 

iiitrastcd be. 

As saints by Bends, or hymn 

IS by calumny. 

Come, gentle Amorct (for "n 

icath that name 

In worthier verse != ! ; 

i beauty's fame) ; 

Come — for but 

eks the muse? and while 

Celestial blushes che i 

:onscious smile. 

With timid c an i 

iting eye, 

The perfect iel, v 1 

aoast, supply: — 

Vain Muse 1 c » 

le humblest sketch create 

Of her, or s tis 1 1 i 

auld'st imitate — 

Could thy biest strain in kindred colors trace 
The faintest wonder of her form and face — 
Poets would study the immortal line, 
And Reynolds own his art subdued by thine. 
That art, which well might added lustre give 
To Nature's best, and Heaven's superlative : 
On Granbfs cheek might bid new glories rise, 
Or point a purer beam from Devotes eyes ! 
Hard is the task to shape that beauty's praise, 
, Whose judgment scorns the homage flattery pays! 
But praising Amoret we cannot err, 
Xo tongue o'crvalues Heaven, or flatters her! 
Vet she by fate's per\-erseness — she alone 
Would doubt cur 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: 


No state has Amove t ; 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 the expression of her face, — 

T is less than dignity, and more than grace ! 

On her pure cheek the native hue is such, 

That, form'd by Heaven to be admired so much, 

The hand divine, with a less partial care. 

Might well have fix'd a fainter crimson there, 

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 

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 : 

Clothed with such grace, with such expression fraught, 

They move in meaning, and they pause in thought ! 

But dost thou farther watch, with charm'd surprise, 

The mild irresolution of her eyes, 

Curious to mark how frequent they repose. 

In brief eclipse and momentary close — 

Ah I seest thou not an ambush'd Cupid there. 

Too tim'rous of his charge, with jealous care 

Veils and unveils those beams of heavenly light, 

Too full, too fatal else, for mortal sight ? 


Nor yet, such pleasing vengeance fond lo meet, 
111 panrning dimples hope a. safe retreat. 
What though her peaceful breast should ne'er allow 
Subduing frowns to arm her altcr'd brow, 
By Love, I swear, and by his gentle wiles, 
More fatal still the mercy of her smileal 
Thus lovely, thus adorn'd, poasessing all 
Of bright or fair that can to woman fall. 
The height of vanity might well be ihnught 
Prerogative in her, and Nature's fault. 
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 ton keen before:—^ 
Read in all knowledge that her sex should reach. 
Though GrevilU, or the Muse, should deign to teach, 
Fond to improve, nor timorous to discern 
How far it is a woman's grace to learn ; 
In Millat's dialect she would not prove 
Apollo's priestess, but Apollo's love, 
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 hyc of female doubt; 
Deck'd with that charm, how lovely wit appears, 
How graceful science, when that robe she wears I 
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 candor ruled. 

^ r\ 


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 
Thy feeble verse, 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 — 
Owns all the colors just — the outline true, 
Thee my inspirer, and my model — Crewe I 



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 vapors 
Distress our fair ones — let them read the papers ; 
Their powerful mixtures such disorders hit ; 
Crave what you will — there 's quaiiiuw sufficit. 
"Lord!" cries my I.ady Wormwood (who loves tattle, 
And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle), 
Just risen at noon, all x\\^X at cards when threshing 
Strong tea and scandal — ** Bless me, how refreshing I 


Give me the papers. Lisp — how bold and free! \Sips. 

Last uighl Lord L. [Sifs] was taught with Lady D. 

For aching heads what charming sal volatiU ! \Sips. 

If Airs. B. tvill still coHtinttt fiirlfiig. 

We hope she 'U draw, or wf' II undraw the cHrtain. 

Fine satire, poz — in public ail abuse it, 

But, by ourselves \Sips\, our praise we can't refuse it. 

Now, Lisp, read you — there, at that dash and star." 

" Yes, ma'am — A certain lord had best beware. 

Who lives not tweitly miles Jrem Grosvenor Square ; 

For, should he Lady IK fii:d willing. 

Wormwood is bitter " " Oh ! that 's me ! tbfi villain I 

Throw it behind the fire, and never more 

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. 

Is our young bard so young, to think that he 

Can stop the full spring-tide of calumny? 

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. 

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'll fight — that 's write — a cavalliero true. 

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






Scene I. — Lady Sneerwell's Dressing-room, 

Lady Sneerwell discovered at the dressing-table; S^kYiE. df inking 


Lady Sneer, The paragraphs, you say, Mr. Snake, were all in- 
serted ? 

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

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

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-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 successful in her 
day. To my knowledge, she has been the cause of six matches being 
broken off, and three sons being disinherited ; of four forced elope- 






mcnts, and as m.iii)' close cnnfinemeiitsi nine separate maintenances, 
and two divorces. Nay, I have more than once traced her causing a 
tite-i-l£te in the "Town and Country Magazine," when the parties, 
perhaps, had never seen each other's face bcfuic in the course of 
their lives. 

Lad^y St/ffK She certainly has talents, but her manner is gross. 

Snaki: 'Tis vtry true She generally designs well, has a free 
tongue and a bold invention ; but her coloring is too dark, and her 
outlines often extravagant. She wants that delicacy of tint, and 
mellowness of sneer, which distingubh your ladyship's scandal. 

Ladjt Sneer. You arc partial, Snake. 

Siiai:e. Not in the least ; everybody allows that Lady Snccrwell 
can do more with a word or look than many can with the niost 
labored detail, even when they happen to have a little truth on their 
side to support it. 

Lady Sneer. Yes, my dear Snake ; and 1 am no hypocrite to deny 
the satisfaction I reap from the success of my efforts. Wounded 
myself, in the early part of mj' life, by the envenomed tongue of 
slander, I confess I have since known no pleasure equal to the reduc- 
ing others to the level of my own reputation. 

Snake. Nothing can be more natural. But, Lady Siieerwell, 
there is one affair in which you have 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 yoimg men, to whom Sir Peter has 
acted as a kind of guardian since their father's death ; the eldest 
possessing the most amiable character, and universally well spoken 
of — the youngest, the most dissipated and extravagant young fellow 
in the kingdom, without friends or character : the former an avowed 


admirer of your ladyship, and apparently your favorite; the latter 
attached to Maria, 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 knight, 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 
uncommonly earnest to destroy the mutual attachment subsisting 
between his brother Charles and Maria. 

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

Snake, No ! 

Lady Sneer, His real attachment is to Maria, or her fortune ; but, 
finding in his brother a favored 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 your- 
self in his success. 

Lady Sneer, Heavens ! how dull you are ! Cannot you surmise 
the weakness which I hitherto, through shame, have concealed 
even from you.^ Must I confess that Charles — that libertine, that 
extravagant, that bankrupt in fortune and reputation — that he it is 
for whom I am thus anxious and malicious, and to gain whom I 
would sacrifice everything } 

Snake. Now, indeed, your conduct appears consistent : but how 
came you and Mr. Surface so confidential ? 

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 acquaintance, he passes for a youthful miracle of prudence, 
good sense, and benevolence. 


Snake. Yes; yet Sir Pt-ter vowa he has not his equal in 
Kngland — and, above all, he praises hiin as a man oE sen- 

Laify Sneer. True ; and with the assistance of His sentiment 
and hyiiocrisy he has brought Sir Peter entirely into his interest 
Willi regard to Maria; while poor Charles has no friend in the 
house- — though, 1 fear, he has a powerful one in Maria's heart, 
against whom we must direct our schemes. 

Enter Servant. 
Scr. Mr. Surf;icc. 

Lady Sneer. Show him up. \Exit Servant,] He generally calls 
about this time. I don't wonder at people giving him to me for 
a lover. 

EHler Joseph Surface. 

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

Lady Sneer. Snake has just been rallying me on 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 confi- 
dence is not ill placed. 

Jos. Stiff. Madam, it is impo.ssible for me to suspect a man of 
Mr. Snake's sensibility and discernment. 

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. 

Jos. Stiff I have rot seen cither since I left you ; but 1 can 
inform you that they never meet. Some of your stories have taken 
a good effect on Maria. 

Lady Sneer. Ah, my dear Snake I the merit of this belongs to 
you. But do your brother's distresses increase f 

A COMEDY. 217 

Jos Surf, Every hour. I am told he has had another execu- 
tion in the house yesterday. In short, his dissipation and extrav- 
agance exceed anything I have ever heard of. 

Lady Sneer, Poor Charles ! 

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

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

Jos, Surf, Egad, that 's true ! I '11 keep that sentiment till I see 
Sir Peter. However, it is certainly a charity to rescue Maria 
from such a libertine, who, if he is to be reclaimed, can be so 
only by a person of your ladyship's superior accomplishments and 

Snake, I believe, Lady Sneerwell, here 's company coming ; I '11 
go and copy the letter I mentioned to you. Mr. Surface, your 
most obedient. 

Jos, Surf Sir, your very devoted. — [Exit Snake.] Lady Sneer- 
well, I am very sorry you have put any farther confidence in that 

Lady Sneer, Why so } 

Jos, Surf, 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 us } 

Jos, Surf Nothing more likely : take my word for 't, Lady Sneer- 
well, that fellow hasn't virtue enough to be faithful even to his 
own villainy. — Ah, Maria! 


tongues. I own I was hurt to hear it, as I indeed was to learn, fron 
the same quarter, that your guardian, Sir Peter, and Lady Tcazl* 
have not agreed lately as well as could be wished. 

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

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

Mar. Such reports are highly scandalous. 

Mrs. Can, So they are, child — shameful, shameful! But th 
world is so censorious, no character escapes. — Lord, now wh 
would have suspected your friend. Miss Prim, of an indiscretion 
Yet such is the ill nature of people, that they say her uncle stoppe 
her last week, just as she was stepping into the York diligence wit 
her dancing-master. 

Mar. I '11 answer fi)r 't there are no grounds for that report. 

Mrs. Can. Ah, no foundation in the world, I dare swear: n 
more, probably, than for the story circulated last month, of Mr 
Festino's affair with Colonel Cassino — though, to be sure, thi 
matter was never rightly cleared up. 

Jos. Surf. The licence of invention some people take is monstroi 

]\Iar. *T is so ; but, in my opinion, those who report such thinj 
are equally culpable. 

Mrs. Can. To be sure they are ; tale-bearers are as bad as th 
tale-makers — 'tis an oKl observation, and a \^xy true one: bi 
what 's to be done, as I said before ? how will you prevent peop 
from talking } To-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mr 
Honeymoon were at last become mere man and wife, like the re 

A COMEDY. 221 

of their acquaintance. She likewise hinted that a certain widow, in 
the next street, had got rid of her 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 Harry Bouquet and Tom 
Saunter were to measure swords 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. 

Jos, Surf, Ah ! Mrs. Candour, if everybody had your forbearance 
and good nature ! 

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 by, I hope 'tis not true that your brother is absolutely 
ruined ^ 

Jos. Stirf, I am afraid his circumstances are very bad indeed, 

Mrs. Can. Ah! I heard so — but you must tell him to keep up 

liis spirits : everybody almost is in the 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 consolation. 

Jos. Surf. Doubtless, ma'am — a very great one. 

Re-Enter Servant. 
Ser. Mr. Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. [Exit Servant. 
Lady Sneer. So, Maria, you see your lover pursues you : posi- 
tively you sha'n't escape. 

Enter Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. 
Crab. Lady Sneerwell, I kiss your hand. Mrs. Candour, I don't 
believe you are acquainted with my nephew, Sir Benjamin Back- 



I pretty wit, and is a pretly poet, too. 

bite ? I^s^d, ma'am, he has n 
Isn't he, I^dy SnccrwcU? 

Sir Bey. Oh, fie, uncle ! 

Crat. 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, Hcnjamin. repeat it, or the charade you made last night 
cstenipurc at Mrs. Drowzie's conversazione. Come, now ; your first 
is. the name of a fish, your second a great naval commander, 

Sir Ii<Hj. Uncle, now — pr'ythee ■ 

Crali. I 'faith, ma'am, 't would surprise you to hear how ready he 
is at all these line sort of things, 

Lady Sneer. I wonder. Sir Benjamin, you never publish anything. 
Sir Bcuj. 'I'o say truth, iimani, 'l is very vuJgar to print : and as 
my little productions are mostly 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 favored with this lady's smiles, I mean to give the 
public. \Pointing to Maria. 

Crab. \To Maria,] 'Fore heaven, ma'am, they'll immortalize ' 
you ! — you will be handed down to posterity, like Petrarch's Laura, - 
or Waller's Satharissa. 

Sir Bcnj. \To Maijia.] Yes, madam, I think you will like -= 
them, when you shall sec them on a beautiful quarto page, where^== 

a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of mar " 

fiin. — 'I'oic Gad they will be the most elegant things of theii 
kind ! 

Crab. But, ladies, that 's true — have you heard the news? 

Mrs. Can. What, sir, do you mean the report o£ 

A COMEDY. 223 

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

Mrs. Can. Impossible. 

Crab. Ask Sir Benjamin. 

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

Crab. Yes — and they do say there were pressing reasons for it. 

Lady Sneer. Why, I have neard something of this before. 

Mrs. Can. It can't be — and I wonder anyone should believe such 

a story of so prudent a lady as Miss Nicely. 

Sir Beuj. O Lud ! ma'am, that 's the very 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. Cafi. Why, to be sure, a tale of scandal is as fatal to the 
credit of a prudent lady of her stamp as a fever is generally to those 
of the strongest constitutions. But there is a sort of puny, sickly 
reputation, that is always ailing, yet will outlive the robuster charac- 
ters of a hundred prudes. 

Sir Beuj. True, madam, there are valetudinarians 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. You know. 
Sir Benjamin, very trifling circumstances often give rise to the 
most injurious tales. 

Crab. That they do, I '11 be sworn, ma'am. Did you ever hear 
liow Miss Piper came to lose her lover and her character last 
summer at Tunbridge.^ — Sir Benjamin, you remember it .** 

Sir Bcnj. Oh, to be sure! — the most whimsical circumstance. 

Lady Sneer. How was it, pray 1 



Crab. VMiy, one evening, at Mrs, Ponto's assembly, the con. 
versalion happened to turn on the breeding Nova Scotia sheep in 
this country. Says a young lady in company, I have known in- 
stances of it ; for Miss Lcticia I'ipcr, a first cousin of mine, had 
a Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins. — "What!" cries the 
Lady Dowager Dundiz2y (who you know is as tlcaf as a post}i 
"has Hiss Piper had twins?" — This mistake, as you may imagine, 
threw the whole company into a fit of laughter. However, 't was 
the next morning everywhere reported, and in a few days belit;vcd 
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 farm- 
house where the babies were put to nurse. 

Lady Sturer. Strange, indeed ! 

Ci-ab. Matter of fact, I assure you. O Lud ! Mr. Surface, pray 
is it true that j'our uncle, Sir Oliver, is coming home .' 

Jos. Surf. Not that I know of, indeed, sir. 

Crab. He has been in the East Indies a long time. You can 
scarcely remember him, I believe? — -Sad comfort, whenever he re- 
turns, to hear how j'our brother has gone on ! 

Jos. Surf. Charles has been imprudent, sir, to be sure ; but I 
hope no bvisy people have already prejudiced Sir Oliver against 
him. Me may reform. 

Sir Bciij. 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 Inst all his friends, I am told nobody is better spoken of by 
the Jews. 

Crab. That 's true, egad, nephew. If the Old Jewry was a 
ward, I believe Charles would be an alderman : no man more 
popiifar there, 'fore Gad! I hear he pays as many annuities as 


the Irish tontine ; and that, whenever he is sick, they have 
prayers for the recovery of his health in all the synagogues. 

Sir Benj\ Yet no man lives in greater splendor. They tell me, 
when he entertains his friends he will sit down to dinner with 
a dozen of his own securities ; have a score of tradesmen waiting 
in the ante-chamber, and an officer behind every guest's chair. 

Jos, Surf, This may be entertaifimcnt to you, gentlemen, but 
you pay very little regard to the feelings of a brother. 

Mar, [Aside.'] Their malice is intolerable !—[/i/c?//rf'. J Lady Sneer- 
well, I must wish you a good morning : I 'm not very well. 

[Exit Maria. 

Mrs, Can, O dear ! she changes color very much. 

Lady Sneer, Do, Mrs. Candour, follow her: she may want your 

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, notwithstanding their difference. 

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

Crab, But Benjamin, you must not give up the pursuit for that: 
follow her, and put her into good humor. Repeat her some of 
your own verses. Come, I* 11 assist you. 

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

Crab, O Lud, ay! undone as ever man was — can't raise a 
guinea ! — 

Sir Benj, And everything sold, I 'm told, that was movable. — 
Crab. I have seen one that was at his house. — Not a thing 
left but some empty bottles that were overlooked, and the family 
pictures, which I believe are framed in the wainscots — 


id f ^ my mmf iIh to bem aame had ttoria 

SirSt^ ■■>; fc«w i,wj, as kc's yw bncbcr 

Cmt, Wei teB jov d aaaiber afp uc c uait r. 

[£n^tf OiMT»«g. aarf Sn Bcxj-unx 

£4^ £Mvr. Ha ! fa ■ t » voy fafd far ifccB to leave a sub- 
ject ticf fare a«c qaiEe ns 4a«a. 

yM. 5^ Asd I bdirvc the thmt was m Bore acceptable u 
jnor bdpJup tbaa liana. 

£a^ Sawr. 1 doott faeraSeetiOBs an £artber engaged than we 
iampac Bat the bmOf an 10 be bere Oaa evenin;, *o you may 
•a vdl ^ac «fccrc jo« are^ and we ihall have an oppartimity ot 
ofaaemng {artber ; ia tb« mcanlsne I H go and plot mischtef, and 
you shal! study sentiment, [Ezruni. 

1 in Sir Peter Teazle's House- 

Enter SiK I'eter Teazle. 

'clcr. When an old bachelor marries a young wife, what 
cxjicct ? 'T is now six months since Lady Teazle niac!e 
lKi|jjiicst of men — and I have been the most miserable 
since ! We lifted a little going to church, and fairly quar- 
fore the hells had done ringing, I was more than once 
lii>kcil with ^'all during the honeymoon, and had lost all 
in life l)eforc my friends h:id done wishing me joy. 
lose with caution — a girl bred wholly in the countrj-, who 
lew luxury beyond one silk gown, nor dissipation above 


A COMEDY. 227 

the annual gala of a race ball. Yet she now plays her part in 
all the extravagant fopperies of fashion and the town, with as 
ready a grace as if she never had seen a bush or a grass-plot 
out of Grosvenor Square! I am sneered at by all my acquaintance, 
and paragraphed in the newspapers. She dissipates my fortune, 
and contradicts all my humors ; 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. 

Enter Rowley. 

Row. Oh ! Sir Peter, your servant : how is it with you, sir } 

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

Row. What can have happened to trouble you since yester- 

Sir Peter. A good question to a married man ! 

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

Sir Peter. Why, has anybody told you she was dead } 

Roiv. Come, come. Sir Peter you love her, notwithstanding 
your tempers don't exactly agree. 

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

Row. Indeed! 

Sir Peter. Ay ; and what is very extraordinary, in all our dis- 
putes she is always in the wrong ! But Lady Snecrwell, and the 
set she meets at her house, encourage the perverseness of her dis- 
position. — Then,' to complete my vexation, Maria, my ward, whom 
I ought to have the power of a father over, is determined to turn 
rebel too, and absolutely refuses the man whom I have long re- 


solved on or her tiusbaDil; mcauing, I suppose, to bestow herself 
on his profligate brotht-r, 

Rmi.: You know, Sir rclci", I have always taken the libtrty 
differ with you on the subject of these two young gentlemen. 
1 only wish you may not be deceived in your opinion of the cider. 
I'or Charles, my life on 'f ! h« ctrieve his errors yet- Their 

worthy father, once ster, was, at his years, nearly 

IS wild a spark ; yet, ■ i h» ;d, he did not leave a more 
benevolent heart to lame 

Sir Ptter. You are oi :r Rowley. On llicir fathers 

ith, you know, I acted d of guai-dian to them both, 

till their uncle Sir Oliver' y gave them an early indepen- 

dence : of course, no person I have more opportunities of 

judging of their hearts, and I was never mistaken io my life. 
Joseph is indeed a moJel of 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 word for 't, if he had any grain ol" 
virtue by descent, he has dissipated it with the rest of his inheri- 
tance. Ah ! my old friend. Sir Oliver, will be deeply mortified 
when he finds how part of his bounty has been misapplied. 

Ro%v. I am sorry to find you so violent against the young 
man, because this may be the critical period of his fortune. 
1 came hither with news that will surprise you. 

.V/> Pcia: What ! let me hear. 

Ro'.v. Sir Oliver is arrived, and at this moment in town. 

Sir Piter. How! you astonish me! I thought you did not ex- 
pect him this month. 

Row. 1 did not ; but his passage has been remarkably quick. 

Sir Peter. Kgad, I .shall rejoice to see my old friend. 'T is 
fifteen years since we iiiet. — We have had many a day together: 

A COMEDY. 229 

— but does he still enjoin us not to inform his nephews of his 
arrival ? 

Ro7v, Most strictly. He means, before it is known, to make 
some trial of their dispositions. 

Sir Peter, Ah ! there needs no art to discover their merits 

— however he shall have his way ; but, pray, does he know I am 
married ? 

Row, Yes, and will soon wish you joy. 

Sir Peter, What, as we drink health to a friend in a consumption ! 
Ah ! Oliver will laugh at me. We used to rail at matrimony to- 
gether, but he has been steady to his text. — Well, he must be soon 
at my house, though — I '11 instantly give orders for his reception. — 
But, Master Rowley, don't drop a word that Lady Teazle and I ever 

Row. By no means. 

Sir Peter, For I should never be able to stand Noll's jokes ; so 
I 'II have him think, Lord forgive me ! that we are a very happy 

Roiv, I understand you : — but then you must be very careful not 
to differ while he is in the house with you. 

Sir Peter. Egad, and so we must — and th%t 's impossible. Ah I 
Master Rowley, when an old bachelor marries a young wife, he 
deserves — no — the crime carries its punishment along with it. 



Scene I. — A Room in Sir I'^ter Teazle's House. 
Enler SiH Peter and Laiiv Teazle. 

Sir Pttrr. Latly Teazle, Lady Teazle, I '11 not bear it ! 

Latiy Ttas. Sir Telcr, Sir I'eter, 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 I though I was educated in the countrj, I 
know very well that women ot fashion in London arc accountable to 
nobody after they arc married. 

Sir Peter. Very well, ma'am, very well; — so a husband is to 
have no iiiHucncc, no authurity .' 

Lady Tcaz. Authority ! No, to be sure: — if you want authority 
over me, you should have adopted me, and not married me : I air* 
sure you were old enough. 

Sir Pcli-r. Old enough! — ay, there it is. Well, well, Lat^^l' 
Teazle, though my life may be made unhappy by your temper, 1 '' 

not be yuined by your extravagance ! 

Lady Ti-az. My extravagance ! I 'm sure I 'm not more cxtra\ — -^^'' 
gant than a woman of fashion ought to be. 

Sir Peter. Xo, no, madam, you shall throw away no more suiitk ■" 
on such unmeaning luxury. 'Slife ! to spend as much to furni.t * ' 
your dicising-room with flowers in winter as would suffice to tui: *-" 
the Pantheon into a greenhouse, and give ^fite champltrc at Chri^=^ '-*' 

Lady Tea:. And am I to blame. Sir Peter, because flowers az:^^*^ 
:ar in cold weather ) You should find fault with the climate, ai» *' 

A COMEDY, 231 

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 ! 

Sir Peter. 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 Teaz, No, no, I don't ; *t was a very disagreeable one, or I 
should never have married you. 

Sir Peter, 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 
hair combed smooth over a roll, and your apartment hung round with 
fruits in worsted, of your own working. 

Lady Teaz. Oh, yes ! I remember it very well, and a curious life I 
led. — My daily occupation to inspect the dairy, superintend the 
poultry, make extracts from the family receipt book, and comb my 
aunt Deborah's lapdog. 

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

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

Sir Peter, 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-d-vis — and three powdered footmen before your 
chair ; and, in the summer, a pair of white cats to draw you to 
Kensington Gardens. No recollection, I suppose, when you were 
content to ride double, behind the butler, on a docked coach- 


Laay teas. No — I swear I no'cr did thai: I deny the butler 
d the coach-horse. 

PeUr. This, madam, was your situation ; and what have I 
: for you ? I have made you a woman of fashion, of fortune, of 
snk — in short, I have made you my wife. 

Lady Teas. Well, then, and there is but one thing more )'ou 

n make mc to add to the obligation, that is 

Sir Pelcr. My widow, I siipiiosc ? 
Lady Teas. Hem ! hem ! 

■Peter. I thank you, madam — but don't flatter yourself ; for, 
;h your ill conduct may disturb my peace of mind, it shall 
,.vcr break my heart, I promise you : however, I am equally 
obliged to yon for ttie hint, 

Lady Teas. Then why will you endeavor to make yourself so 
disagreeable to mc, and thwart mc in every little elegant expense.' 

Sir Peter. 'Slifc, madam, I say, had you any of these little 
elegant cxjicnscs when you married mc ? 

Lady Tea::. Lud, Sir I'ctcr ! would you have mc be out of the 
fashion ? 

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

Lady Teas. For my part, I should think you would like to 
have your wife tlKiui,'lU a woman of taste. 

Sir Peter. Ay — there again — taste! Zounds! madam, you 
had no taste when you married mc ! 

Lady Teaz. That 's very true, indeed. Sir Peter ! and after 
having married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I 
allow. Rut now, Sir Peter, since we have finished our daily 
jangle, I presume I may go to my engagement at Lady Sneer- 

A COMEDY. 233 

Sir Peter. Ay, there's another precious circumstance — a charm- 
ing set of acquaintance you have made there! 

Lady Teas. Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of rank and 
fortune, and remarkable tenacious of reputation. 

Sir Peter. Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputation with a 
vengeance ; for they don't choose anybody 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 reputation. 

Lady Teas. What, would you restrain the freedom of speech ? 

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

Lady Teaz. Why, I believe I do bear a part with a tolerable grace. 

Sir Peter. Grace indeed ! 

Lady Teaz. 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 
humor ; 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 Lady Sneerwell's too. 

Sir Peter. Well, well, I '11 call in, just to look after my own 

Lady Teaz. Then, indeed, you must make haste after me, or 
you'll be too late. So good-by to ye. ' [iS^/V Lady Teazle. 

Sir Peter. So — I have gained much by my intended expostu- 
lation ! Yet with what a charming air she contradicts everything 
I say, and how pleasingly she shows her contempt for my author- 
ity ! Well, though I can 't make her love me, there is great 
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. 


ScEKE II, — A rffffm in Ladv Sncerwell's House. 

kor Skkekwei-l, Mrs, Caxdour, Crabtrf.e, Sir Hexjauin Back- 
bite, (7«(/ Joseph Surface, discovered. 

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

/«. Surf. Yes, yes, the epigram, by alt means. 

Sir Beitj, O plague on 't, uncle! 'tis mere nonsense. 

Crab. No, no ; 'fore Gad, very clever for an extempore! 

Sir BenJ, But, ladies, you should be acquainted with the cir- 
imstance. You must know that one day last week, as Lady 

[ty Curricle was taking the dust in Hyde Park, in a sort of 
uuotlccimo phaeton, she desired me to write some verses on her 
ponies ; upon which, I took out my pocket-book, and la one mo- 
ment produced the following: — 


never was 

■n two such beaulifui ponies; 


r horses arc c 

lowns, but these macaronies: 


ive theni lliis 

tille I "in sure ran "t be wrong, 


r logs are so s 

lim und tiieir Uils are so long. 

Crab. There, ladies, clone in the smack of a whip, and on 
horseback too. 

Jos. Surf. A very I'hcebus, mounted^ indeed, Sir Benjamin! 

Sir iifiij. Oh dear, sir! trifles — trifles. 

F.titcr L.Miv Teazi.k and Maria. 

Mis. Cii'i. I mu-st have a cop)-. 

Lady Slice: Lady Teazle, I hope wc shall see Sir Peter.' 

Lady Tear:. I believe he'll wait on your ladyship presently. 

L.ady Sneer. Maria, my love, you look grave. Come, you shall 
sit down to piquet with Mr. Surface 

Mar. I take very little pleasure in cards — however, I'll do 
as your ladyship pleases. 

A COME D v. 235 

Lady Teaz, 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. {Aside, 

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

Lady Teas, What 's the matter, Mrs. Candour } 

Mrs, Can, They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermillion to be 

Lady Sneer, Oh, surely she is a pretty woman. 

Crab, I am very glad you think so, ma'am. 

Mrs. Can, She has a charming fresh color. 

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

Mrs, Can, O, fie ! I '11 swear her color is natural : I have seen it 
come and go ! 

Lady Teas, I dare swear you have, ma'am : it goes off at night, 
and comes again in the morning. 

Sir Benj, 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 talk so ! But 
surely, now, her sister /j, or was^ very handsome. 

Crab, Who } Mrs. Evergreen } O Lord ! she 's six-and-fifty if 
she's an hour! 

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

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

Lady Sneer, Well, well, if Mrs. Evergreen does 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 caulks her wrinkles. 


SirStmf. Sij-, turn. Lady Soccrwdl. j-ou arc severe upon the 
Ceo^ oaae.'^s not that sbcpainu w ill — but, when she 
1 her SacQ,At }oau it on so badly to her neck, tlut 
Bended statue, in which the connoisseur may sec 
at oBoc dm Ac biad b nxxjcm. though the tnink *s antique. 

Cmk Ha! ha! ha! WcU said, ncpbew. 

Mrt, Cam. Ha ! ba ! ha ! Well, yoa make me bugb ; but I vow 
I hue jfMt for iL — What do you think of Miss Simper ? 

Sir Bntj. Why. dK baa veiy pretty teeth. 

Ls4}' Turns, Yet; and oo that accmut, when she is neither 
spcaktog nor laughmg (which very seldom happens), she never abso- 
lutely ahots her aioath. but leaves it always on a-jar, as it were — 
ifaas. {Shoofs her ttelk 

Mrs. Om. How can }-ou be so ill-natured ? 

Lady Tcaz. Nay, 1 allow even that "s better than the pains Mrs. 
Prim tjkos to coiiccn! her lui-scs in front. She draws her mouth 
till it positivfly resembles t!-.o aperture of a poor's-box, and all her 
words appear to slide out edgewise, as it were — thus: How do 
yon do, madainf Vis, madam. [Mimks. 

Liidy Sneer. \'or)- well. Lad)' Teazle; I see you can be a little 

Lady Tcaz. In defence of a friend it is but justice. — But here 
comes Sir Peter to spoil our plcnsantry. 

Enter Slit Pi£TnR Teazle. 

Sir Peter. Ladies, your most obedient, — \Asidc^ Mercy on me, 
here is the whole set ! a character dead at every word, I suppose. 

Mrs. Can. I am rejoiced you arc come, Sir Peter. They have 
been so censorious — and Lady Teazle as bad as any one. 

,S"//- Peicr. That must be very distressing; to you, indeed, Mrs. 


A COMEDY. 237 

Mrs, Can. Oh, they will allow good qualities to nobody ; not 
even good nature to our friend, Mrs. Pursy. 

Lady Teas. What, the fat dowager who was at Mrs. Quadrille's 
last night } 

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

Lady Sneer. That 's very true, indeed. 

Lady Teas. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and small 
whey; laces herself by pulleys; and often, in the hottest noon in 
summer, you may see her on a little 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 her. 

Sir Peter. Yes, a good defence, truly. 

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

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

Mrs. Can. Positively you shall not be so very severe. Miss Sal- 
low 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 labors 
under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl of six-and- 

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

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

Sir Benj. Ah I you are both of you too good-natured 1 

' SC4.W.-IZ. 

Tkia tbo-swBRiitfMf 
mexfaowmt lOsidt. 

Mn.CmK. Fvaw pM^lamlonotb^tobar mfinad a 

ijiliii at 

.ScrAttK HG^bcbenee: 

SirBe^ Ob f ;•■ ae «tf a, mocat tsra. Mn. Cuulour and I caa 
■it far m hea* aoi bear Ljrff SkBcco talk sentitseiit 

/«i^ Tivs. Say, F «o« Lady Scncca is very wetl with the 
iaaen wbaSuues; far9be'*j«st Eiu rite Frcttch fruit one cracks 
for noCSoo-^Bnoe vf of punt and pcovcra. 

Mn. Cam. WeD. i will menr ynn in riJicnttng a friend ; and so 
I oofMCantl; tefl tBJ CDtatn Oj^e, and yoa all kncnr what pretensions 
she has co be oitical on beat^. 

CmS. Ob, to be sore! the bas herself tbe oddest countenance 
that over was seen ; "t b a collection of features from all the different 
countries of I'nc yl'jbi.'. 

Sir Bciij. So she has, indeed — an Irish front 

Crab. Caledonian locks 

Sir Dciij. Dutch nose 

Crab. Austrian lips 

Sir Piciij. Comj>lexion of a Spaniard 

Cinb. And teeth a la Chinoise 

Sir lUiij. In short, her face resembles a table d'hote at Spa — 
wlitrr no two j,'uests arc of a nation 

( ////', < )r a congress at the close of a general war — wherein all 
till- imciiiIhvs, even to her eyes, appear to have a different interest, 
ami her rmse and ehin arc the only parties likely to join issue. 

J//;v. La,,. I la! ha! ha I 

Sir I'l-li-r. Mercy on my life ! — a person they dine with twice a 
week I [Aside. 


A COMEDY. 239 

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

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

Sir Peter. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon — there *s no stop- 
ping 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. 

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. Ah, madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good- 
nature than your ladyship is aware of. 

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

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

Lady Teas. But Sir Peter is such an enemy to scandal, I believe 
he would have it put down by parliament. 

Sir Peter. 'Fore heaven, madam, if they were to consider the 
sporting with reputation of as much importance as poaching on 
manors, and pass an act for the preservation of fame, as well as 
game, I believe many would thank them for the bill. 

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

Sir Peter. Ay, madam, and then no person should be permitted 
to kill characters and run down reputations, but qualified old maids 
and disappointed widows. 

Lady Sneer. Go, you monster ! 

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


Sir Peter, Yes, madam, I would have law merchant for them 
too ; and in all cases of slander currency, whenever the drawer of 
the lie was not to be found, the injured party should have a right 
to come on any of the indorsers. 

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

Sir Peter, Oh, nine out of ten of the malicious inventions are 
founded on some ridiculous misrepresentation. 

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

Enter Servant, who whispers Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter. I '11 be with them directly. — \Exit Servant.] I '11 get 
away unperceivcd. {Aside, 

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

.S7;' Peter. Your ladyship must excuse mc ; I 'm called away by 
particular business. But I leave my character behind me. 

[Exit Sir Peter. 
Sir Benj. Well — certainly, Lady Teazle, that 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 Teaz. Oh, pray don't mind that ; come, do let's hear them. 

[Exeunt all but Joseph Surface and Maria. 

Jos. Surf. Maria, I see you have no satisfaction in this society. 

Mar. 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 of wit or humor. Heaven grant me a double portion 
of dullness ! 

Jos. Surf, Yet they appear more ill-natured than they are ; they 
have no malice at heart. 

Mar, Then is their conduct still more contemptible; for, in my 

A COMEDY. 241 

opinion, nothing could excuse the intemperance of their tongues 
but a natural and uncontrollable bitterness of mind. 

Jos. Surf. Undoubtedly, madam ; and it has always been a sen- 
timent of mine, that to propagate a malicious 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 ? 

Mar. Why will you distress me by renewing this subject ? 

Jos. Surf. 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 favored rival ! 

Mar. Ungenerously urged ! But, whatever 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. 

Jos. Surf. Nay, but, Maria, do not leave me 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 

Mar. Lady Teazle 1 

Jos, Surf. Yet were Sir Peter to suspect 

Lady Teaz. [Coming forward^ What is this, pray.? Does he 
take her for me ? — Child, you are wanted in the next room. — [Exit 
Maria.] What is all this, pray } 

Jos. Surf. Oh, the most unlucky circumstance in nature ! Maria 
has somehow suspected the tender concern I have for your happi- 
ness, and threatened to acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions, and I 
was just endeavoring to reason with her when you came in. 


LaJjr Teas. Indeed ! but vcmi seemed to adopt a very tender 
mode of reasoning — do you usually argue on your knees? 

Jas. Surf. Oh, she "s a child, and I thought a little bombast 

But, Lady Teajlc, when are you to give me your judgment on my 
library, as you promised ? 

Lotijr Teas. No, no; 1 begin to think it would be impmdent, and 
you know- I admit vmu as a lover no fanher than fashion retiuires. 

Jai. Surf. Tree — a mere f^tonic cicisbeo, — what every wife 
b entitled to. 

Ltufy Teas. Certainly, one must not be out of the fashion. — 
However, I have so many of my countiy prejudices left, that, though 
Sir Peter's ill-humor may vex me ever so, it never shall provoke me 

/cs. Sur/. The only revenge in your power. — Well, I applaud 
your moderation. 

Lady Teas. Go — you are an insinuating wretch! But we shall 
be missed — let us join the company. 

Jos. Surf. But we had best not return together. 

Lady Tea::. Well, don't stay; for Maria shan't come to hear any 
more of your reasoning, I promise you. [Exit 

Jos. Surf. A curious dilemma, truly, my politics have run me into! 
I wanted, at first, only to ingratiate myself with Lady Teazle, that 
she might not be my enemy with Maria ; and I have, I don't know 
how, become her serious lover. Sincerely I begin to wish I had 
never made snch 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. [Exit. 

^ r\ 

A COMEDY. 243 

Scene III. — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Rowley. 

Sir Oliv. 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 bachelor so long, and • sink into a husband at 

Row, But you must not rally him on the subject. Sir Oliver ; *t is 
a tender point, I assure you, though he has been married only seven 

Sir Oliv. 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.^ 

Row, 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 neigh- 
borhood, who have contributed not a little to Charles's ill name. 
Whereas, the truth is, I believe, if . the lady is partial to either of 
them, his brother is the favorite. 

Sir Oliv. Ay, I know there is a set of malicious, prating, prudent 
gossips, both male and female, 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 compound for his extravagance. 

Row. 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. 

Sir Oliv. What ! shall I forget. Master Rowley, when I was at 


bis years di)-s«U ? Egad, my brother and I were neither of us very 
prudent youths ; and yet, I bt;licvc, you ba^'c not seen many better 
mcD than your old master was ? 

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

6'i> Otiv. Kgad, so he does I Mercy on me ! he 's greatly altered, 
and seems to have a settled mairied look] One may read husband 
in bis face at this distance ! 

Entfr SiK Peter Teazle, 

Sir Peter. Hat Sir Oliver — my old friend! Welcome to Eng- 
land a thousand times! 

Sir O/it: Thank you, thank you, Sir I'eter! and i' faith I am glad 
to find you well, believe mc ! 

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

^i> 0/12: Ay, I have had my share. But, what ! I find you are 
married, hey, my old boy ? Well, well, it can't be helped ; and so — 
I wish you joy with all my heart ! 

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

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

Row. [Asii/e to Sir Oliver.] Take care, pray, sir, — 

Sir Oliv. Well, so one of my nephews is a wild rogue, hey ? 

Sir Peter. Wild ! Ah ! my old friend, I grieve for your disap- 
pointment there ; he 's a lost young man, indeed. However, his 
brother will make you amends ; Joseph is, indeed, what a youth 
should bc^ everybody in the world speaks well of him. 

Sir Oliv. I am sorry to hear it ; he has too good a character to 
be an honest fellow. Everybody speaks well of him! Pshaw! then 

A COMEDY. 245 

he has bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of 
genius and virtue. 

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

Sir Oliv. Yes, if he has merit enough to deserve them. 

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

Sir Oliv, Oh, plague of his sentiments ! If he salutes me with a 
scrap of morality in his mouth, I shall be sick directly. But, how- 
ever, 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 my friend Rowley and I have 
planned something for the purpose. 

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

Sir Peter, Oh, my life on Joseph's honor ! 

Sir Oliv. Well — come, give us a bottle of good wine, and we'll 
drink the lads* health, and tell you our scheme. 

Sir Peter, Allons^ then! 

Sir Oliv. And don't. Sir Peter, be so severe 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 cling- 
ing to the green suckers of youth ; 't is like ivy round a sapling, 
and spoils the growth of the tree. {Exeunt, 


ScEKE [. — A Rocm in Sm I'eier Teazle's House. 
Enttr Sir Peter Teazle, Sik OLrvER Surface, and Rowlev. 

5i> Peter. Well, ihen wc will see this fellow first, and have 
our wine afterwards. — But how is this.. Master Rowley? 1 don't 
see the jet of your scheme 

Rm!. Why, sir, this Mr, Stanley, whom I was speaking of, 
is nearly related to them by their mother. He was once a iner- 
diant in Dublin, but has been ruined by a series of undeserved 
misfortunes. He has applied, by letter, both to Mr. Surface and 
Charles : from the former he has received nothing but evasive 
promises of future service, while Charles has done all that his 
extravagance has left him power to do ; and he is, at this time, 
endeavoring 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 Oliv. Ah ! he is my brother's son. 

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

Row. Why, sir, 1 will inform Charles and his brother, that 
Stanley has obtained permission to apply personally to his friends; 
and, as they have neither of them ever seen him, let Sir Oliver 
assume his character, and he will have a fair opportunity of judg- 
ing, at least, of the benevolence of their dispositions: and believe 
me, sir, you will find in the youngest brother one who, in the 

_ r\ 

A COMEDY. 247 

midst of folly and dissipation, has still as our immortal bard ex- 
presses it, — 

*' a heart to pity, and a hand. 
Open as da/, for melting charity.** 

Sir Peter, 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 where is the fellow whom 
you brought for Sir Oliver to examine, relative to Charleses affairs i 

Row. 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 everything in his power to bring your 
nephew to a proper sense of his extravagance. 

Sir Peter Pray let us have him in. 

Row, Desire .Mr. Moses to walk up stairs. [Apart to Servant. 

Sir Peter, But, pray, why should you suppose he will speak 
the truth .^ 

Row, 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 his own interests. I have also an- 
other evidence in my power, one Snake, whom I have detected 
in a matter little short of forgery, and shall shortly produce to 
remove some of your prejudices, Sir Peter, relative to Charles 
and Lady Teazle. 

Sir Peter. I have heard too much on that subject. 

Row. Here comes the honest Israelite. 

Enter Moses. 
— This 13 Sir Oliver. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I understand you have lately had great dealings 

with my nephew Charles. 


Mos. Yes, Sir Oliver, I have done all I could for him ; b 
was ruined before he came to me for assistance. 

Sir Oliv, That was unlucky, truly ; for you have had no c 
tunity of showing your talents. 

Mos, None at all ; I had n*t the pleasure of knowing his 
tresses till he was some thousands worse than nothing. 

Sir Oliv, Unfortunate, indeed ! — But I suppose you haVe 
all in your power for him, honest Moses ? 

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

Sir Peter, What — one Charles has never had money 
before } 

Mos, Yes, Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars, formerly a broi 

Sir Peter. Egad, Sir Oliver, a thought strikes me! — Chi 
you say, docs not know Mr. Premium ? 

Mos, Not at all. 

Sir Peter, Now then. Sir Oliver, you may have a better 6] 
tunity of satisfying yourself than by an old romancing tale of ft 
relation ! go with my friend Moses, and represent Premiunli 
then, I '11 answer for it, you '11 see your nephew in all his glory. 

Sir Oliv, Egad, I like this idea better than the other, and I 
visit Joseph afterwards as old Stanley. 

Sir Peter, True — so you may. 

Row, Well, this is taking Charles rather at a disadvantage, t 
sure. However, Moses, you understand Sir Peter, and wU 
faithful ? 

Mos, You may depend upon me. — [Looks at Ins watch.'] Th 
near the time I was to have gone. 

Sir Oliv. I '11 accompany you as soon as you please, Moses - 

A COMEDY, 249 

But hold ! I have forgot one thing — how the plague shall I be able 
to pass for a Jew ? 

Mos. There *s no need — the principal is Christian. 

Sir Oliv, Is he ? I *m very sorry to hear it But, then again, 
an't I rather too smartly dressed to look like a money-lender? 

Sir Peter, Not at all : *t would not be out of character, if you 
went in your own carriage — would it, Moses ? 

Mos, Not in the least. 

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

Sir Peter. Oh, there 's not much to learn. The great point, as I 
take it, is to be exorbitant enough in your demands. Hey, Moses ? 

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

Sir Oliv, I '11 answer for *t I '11 not be wanting in that. I '11 ask 
him eight or ten per cent on the loan, at least. 

Mos, If you ask him no more than that, you '11 be discovered 

Sir Oliv, Hey ! — what the plague — how much then } 

Mos, 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. 

Sir Peter. A good honest trade you *re learning. Sir Oliver ! 

Sir Oliv. Truly, I think so — and not unprofitable. 

Mos, Then, you know, you have n't the moneys yourself, but are 
forced to borrow them for him of a friend. 

Sir Oliv, Oh ! I borrow it of a friend, do I ? 

Mos, And your friend is an unconscionable dog: but you can't 
help that. 

Sir Oliv. My friend an unconscionable dog, is he ? 



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

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

Sir Pfter. I'failh, Sir Oliver — Mr. Premium, I mean — you'll 
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 charac- 
ter, I should think. 

Mot. Very much. 

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

Mas. Ay. great pity. 

Sir Peter. And abuse the public for allowing merit to an act 
whose only object is to snatch misfortune and imprudence from the 
rapacious gripe of usury, and give the minor a chance of inheriting 
his estate without being undone by coming into possession. 

Sir Oliv. So, so — Moses shall give me farther instructions as 
we go together. 

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

Sir OliiK Oh, never fear! my tutor appears so able, that though 
Charles lived in the next street, it must be my own fault if I am 
not a complete rogue before I turn the corner. \Exit with Moses. 

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

Row. No, upon my word. Sir Peter. 

Sir Peter. Well, go bring me this Snake, and I 'II hear what 
he has to say presently. — I see Maria, and want to speak with 
her. — [£'4-(V Rowi.Ev.] I should be glad to be convinced my sus- 
picions of Lady Teazle and Charles were unjust, I have never 

A COMEDY. 25 1 

yet opened my mind on this subject to my friend Joseph — I am 
determined I will do it — he will give me his opinion sincerely. 

Enter Maria. 
So, child, has Mr. Surface returned with 3rou ? 

Mar. No, sir; he was engaged. 

Sir Peter. Well, Maria, do 3rou not reflect, the more you 
converse with that amiable young man, what return his partiality 
for you deserves? 

Mar. Indeed, Sir Peter, your frequent importunity on this sub- 
ject 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 prefer to Mr. Surface. 

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

Mar. This is unkind, sir. You know I have 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 culpable, if, while my understanding severely condemns 
his vicesi my heart suggests some pity for his distresses. 

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

Mar. Never to his brother! 

Sir Peter. 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. 

Mar. I can only say you shall not have just reason. 'Tis 
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 PtUr. Was ever man so crossed as I am? everything con- 
spiring to Jrct mel I had not been involved in matrimony a fort- 
night, before her father, a hale and hearty man, died, on purpose, 
1 believe, for the pleasure of plaguing me with the care of liis 
daughter — \l,ady TtasU siugi without.\ Bui here comes my help- 
mate ! She appears in great good humor. How happy I should 
be if I could tease her into loving me, though but a Hltlel 
Enter Lady Teazlil 

Lady Teas. Lud I Sir Peter, I hope you haven't been quarrel- 
ling with Maria ? It is not using me well to be ill-humored when 
1 am not by. 

Sir J^iUr, Ah, Lady Teazle, you might have the power to make 
me good humored at all times. 

Lady Teas. I am sure I wish I had ; for I want you to be in 
a charming sweet temper at this moment. Do be goad-humored 
now, and let me have two hundred pounds, will you.' 

Sir Peter. Two hundred pounds; what, an't I to be in a good 
humor without paying for it \ But speak to me thus, and i' faith 
there's nothing I could refuse you. You shall have it; but seal 
mc a bond for the repayment. 

Lady Tcaz. Oh, no — there — my note of hand will do as well. 
\Offering her hand. 

Sir Peter. And you shall no longer reproach me with not giv- 
ing you an independent settlement. I mean shortly to surprise 
you: — but shall wc always live thus, hey.' 

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

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

Lady Teaz. I assure you, Sir Peter, good nature becomes you. 

^ r\ 

A COMEDY, 253 

You look now as you did before we 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 you ? 

Sir Peter. Yes, yes, and you were as kind and attentive 

Lady Teaz. Ay, so I was, and would always take your part, 
when my acquaintance used to abuse you, and turn you into ridi- 

Sir Peter, Indeed ! 

Lady Teas. 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 father, I have always defended 
you, and said, I didn't think you so ugly by any means. 

Sir Peter. Thank you. 

Lady Teaz. And I dared say you 'd make a very good sort 
of a husband. 

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

Lady Teaz. And never differ again } 

Sir Peter. 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 began first. 

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

Sir Peter, Now see, my angel ! take care — contradicting is n't 
the way to keep friends. 

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

Sir Peter, There, now! you — you are going on. You don't 


44 me scaooL fom xaxdal. 

fCKCmw aqr ECe. thM jnt sic jot daing tke very 

thing which 

JM kM« ilwr* ""fc" -e »i«»y. 

Zm^ Tm: N^. yom bow if ;«■ »iD W ai^iy 

withOBt aqr 


^> P^ur. 'ntere ' now jdq. want to qomd i^in. 

£«^ Tm*. N.\ In sure 1 doo'l : but U you 

win be 90 


Sw- /*r/cr. Htcrc aow * «bo bi^ias first ? 

Z«^ 7>Mi. Why, you. to be sure 1 utd nothing - 

-but there** 

BO bemrmg yoor temper. 

Sir Pttrr. No^ no^ mtbio : the fault 's in your own temper. 

Sir Peter. Yoor cousin Sophy b a forward, impertinent ppsy. 

Lady Ten::. You are a great bear, I 'm sure, to abuse my 

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

Lady Teaz. So much the better. 

Sir Peter. No, no, madam: 'tis evident you never cared a pin 
for me, and i was a madman to marry you ^a pert, rural coquette, 
that had refused half the honest 'squires in the neighborhood ! 

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

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

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

^ r>. 

A COME D v. 255 

Sir Peter. I have done with you, madam ! You are an unfeel- 
ing, ungrateful — but there's an end of everything. I believe 
you capable of everything that is bad. Yes, madam, I now 
believe the reports relative to you and Charles, madam. Yes, 
madam, yon and Charles are, — not without grounds 

Lady Teas, Take care, Sir Peter ! you had better not insinuate 
any such thing ! I *11 not be suspected without cause, I promise 

Sir Peter. Very well, madam ! very well ! A separate main- 
tenance as soon as you please. Yes, madam, or a divorce ! V 11 
make an example of myself for the benefit of all old bachelors. 
Let us separate, madam. 

Lady Teas. Agreed ! agreed ! And now, my dear Sir 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 I shall only interrupt you — 30, 
bye ! bye ! [Exit. 

Sir Peter. Plagues and tortures ! Can't I make her angry either ! 
Oh, I am the most miserable fellow ! But I *11 not bear her pre- 
suming to keep her temper : no ! she may break my heart, but 
she sha'n't keep her temper. [Exit. 

Scene II. — A Room in Surface's Hojise. 

Enter Trip, Moses, and Sir Oliver Surface. 

Trifi. Here, Master Moses ! if you '11 stay a moment, I 'II try 
whether — what's the gentleman's name? 

Sir 0/iv. Mr. Moses, what is my name ? [Aside to Moses. 

Mos. Mr. Premium. 


Trip, Premium — very well. {Exit Trip, taking snuff. 

Sir Oliv, To judge by the servants, one wouldn't believe the 
master was ruined. But what! — sure, this was my brother's 
house } 

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

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

Re-Enter Trip. 

Trip, My master says you must wait, gentlemen : he has com- 
pany, and can't speak with you yet. 

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

Ttip, Yes, yes, sir; he knows you are here — I did not forget 
little Premium : no, no, no. 

Sir Oliv, Very well ; and I pray, sir, what may be your name ? 

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

Sir Oliv. Well, then, Mr. Trip, you have a pleasant sort of place 
here, I guess } 

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 ! 

Sir Oliv, Bags and bouquets ! halters and bastinadoes. {Aside, 

Trip, And d proposy Moses, — have you been able to get me 
that little bill discounted ? 

Sir Oliv, Wants to raise money too ! — mercy on me ! Has his 
distresses too, I warrant, like a lord, and affects creditors and duns. 


A COMEDY, 257 

Mos, 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 his name at the back of a bill 't was the 
same as cash. 

Mos, No, *t would n't do. 

Trip, A small sum — but twenty pounds. Hark 'ee, Moses, do 
you think you could n't get it me by way of annuity } 

Sir Oliv, An annuity ! ha ! ha ! a footman raise money by way 
of annuity ! Well done, luxury, egad ! {Asida. 

Mos, Well, but you must insure your place. 

Trip. Oh, with all my heart ! I '11 insure my place and my life 
too, if you please. 

Sir Oliv, It is more than I would your neck. \Aside. 

Mos, But is there nothing you could deposit 1 

Trip. Why, nothing capital of my master's wardrobe has dropped 
lately ; but I could give you a mortgage on some of his winter 
clothes, with equity of 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 
ruffles, as a collateral security — hey, my little fellow } 

Mos. Well, well. \Bell rings. 

Trip, Egad, I heard the bell ! I believe, gentlemen, I can now 
introduce you. Don't forget the annuity, little Moses ! This way, 
gentlemen, I *11 insure my place, you know. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside,] If the man be a shadow of the master, this is 
the temple of dissipation indeed ! [Exeunt. 


Scene III. — Another room in the same, 

Charles Surface, Sir Harry Bumper, Careless, and Gentle- 
men, discovered drinking. 

Chas, Surf, Tore heaven, 'tis true! — there's the great degen- 
eracy of the age. Many of our acquaintance have taste, spirit^ and 
politeness ; but, plague on *t, they won't drink. 

Care. It is so, indeed, Charles ! they give in to all the substantial 
luxuries of the table, and abstain from nothing but wine and wit 
Oh, 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 like the Spa- water they 
drink, which has all the pertness and flatulency of champagne, with- 
out its spirit or flavor. 

1st Gent, But what are they to do who love play better than 
wine } 

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

Chas, Surf, Then he '11 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 successful as when I am a little merry : let 
me throw on a bottle of champagne, and I never lose. 

AIL Hey, what >, 

Care, At least I never feel my losses, which is exactly the same 

2d Gent, Ay, that I believe. 

Chas, Surf And then, what man can pretend to be a believer in 
love, who is an abjurcr of wine } 'Tis the test by which the lover 
knows his own heart. Fill a dozen bumpers to a dozen beauties, and 
she that floats at the top is the maid that has bewitched you. 

J M 

A COMEDY. 259 

Care, Now then, Charles, be honest, and give us your real 

Chas. Surf. Why, I have withheld her only in compassion to you. 
If I toast her, you must give a round of her peers, which is impos- 
sible — on earth. 

Care Oh ! then we '11 find some canonized vestals or heathen 
goddesses that will do, I warrant ! 

Chas, Surf. Here then, bumpers, you rogues ! bumpers ! Maria ! 
Maria ! 

Sir Har. Maria who.^ 

Chas. Surf. Oh, damn the surname ! — 't is too formal to be 
registered in Love's calendar — Maria ! 

All Maria ! 

Chas. Surf. But now. Sir Harry, beware, we must have beauty 

Care. Nay, never study. Sir Harry : we '11 stand to the toast, 
though your mistress should want an eye, and you know you 
have a song will excuse you. 

Sir Har. Egad, so I have ! and I '11 give him the song instead 
of the lady. 


Here 's to the maiden of bashful fifteen ; 

Here 's to the widow of fifty ; 
Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean, 
And here's to the housewife that's thrifty, 
Ckorus, Let the toast pass, — 
Drink to the lass, 
I Ul warrant she Ml prove an excuse for the glass. 

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. 
Ckorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 




KrrF*( lo Ihe maid witS n bocom of biww: 

Now to her that '» as browm as o henj. 
Here 'i to the wife with a face roll of woe. 
And now to the ilamui thai 'a roKny. 
Ciorms. Let the toMt put. iu. 

For let'eiti be dumtv, or let'em be slinii 

Yuunjji or ancient, I care not a feather; 

So Gil a pint bumper quite up to the brim. 

So fill up jour gloMct. nar. till to the brim. 

And let uk e'en toa»t them together. 

Ciormt. Let the toatt pau, Sic. 

AU, Bravo ! bravo ! 

Enter Trii', and -whispers Charles Surface. 

Chai. Surf. Gentlemen, you must excuse rae a little, — ^ Careless, 
take tlie chair, will you ? 

Care. Nay, pr'ythce, Charles, what now? This is one of your 
peerless beauties. I suppose, has dropped in by chance? 

C/ias. Surf. No, faith! To tell you the truth, 'tis a Jew and a 
broker, who are come by appointment. 

Can: Oh, damn it ! let 's have the Jew in. 

1st Gent. Ay. and the broker too, by alt means. 

2d Gent. Yes, yes, the Jew and the broker. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, with all my heart! — Trip, bid the gentlemen 
walk in, — [£'.r;V Tuip.] Though there's one of them a stranger, 
I can tell you. 

Care. Charles, let us give them some generous Burgundy, and 
perhaps they'll grow conscientious. 

Chas. Surf. Oh. 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. 

A COMEDY. 261 

Re-enter Trip, with Sir Oliver Surface and Moses. 

Chas. Surf, So, honest Moses; walk in, pray, Mr. Premium — 
that 's the gentleman's name, isn't it, Moses ? 

Mos, Yes, sir. 

Chas, Surf. Set chairs. Trip. — Sit down, Mr. Premium. — 
Glasses, Trip. — [^Gtvcs chairs and glasses^ and exit.] Sit down, 
Moses. — Come, Mr. Premium, I'll give you a sentiment; here's 
Success to usury! — Moses, fill the gentleman a bumper. 

ATos. Success to usury! [Drinks, 

Care. Right, Moses — usury is prudence and industry, and 
deserves to succeed. 

Sir Oliv. Then — here *s all the success it deserves ! [Drinks. 

Care. 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. 

Afos. Oh, pray, sir, consider — Mr. Premium's a gentleman. 

Care. And therefore loves good wine. 

2d Gent. Give Moses a quart glass — this is mutiny, and a 
high contempt for the chair. 

Care. Here, now for't! I'll see justice done, to the last drop 
of my bottle. 

Sir Oliv. Nay, pray, gentlemen — I did not expect this usage. 

C/ias. Surf No, hang it, you shan't; Mr. Premium 's a stranger. 

Sir Oliv. Odd ! I wish I was well out of their company. [Aside, 

Care. Plague on *em ! if they won't drink, we '11 not sit down 
with them. Come, Harry, the dice are in the next room. — Charles, 
you '11 join us when you have finished your business with the gentle- 

Chas. Surf. I will! I will! — [Exeunt Sir Harry Bumper and 
Gbntlbhbn ; Careless folloiving.] Careless 1 


Care, \Retnrning,'\ Well ! 

Oias, Surf. Perhaps I may want you. 

Care. Oh, you know I am always ready : word, note, or bond, 
't is all the same to me. \ExiL 

Mos. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a gentleman of the strictest 
honor and secrecy ; and alw^ays performs what he undertakes. Mr. 
Premium, this is 

Chas. Surf. Pshaw ! have done. Sir, my friend Moses is a very 
honest fellow, but a little slow at expression : he *11 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 
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 once, and may proceed to business without farther ceremony. 

Sir Oliv. Exceeding frank, upon my word. I see, sir, you are 
not a man of many compliments. 

C/ias. Surf. Oh, no, sir! plain dealing in business I always 
think best. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I like you the better for it. However, you are mis- 
taken in one thing; I have no money to lend, but I believe I 
could procure some of a friend; but then he's an uilconscion- 
able dog. Is n't he, Moses } 

Mas. But you can't help that. 

Sir Oliv. And must sell stock to accommodate you. — Mustn't 
he, Moses } 

Mos. Yes, indeed ! You know I always speak the truth, and 
scorn to tell a lie! 

Chas, Surf. Right. People that speak truth generally do. But 

A COMEDY. 263 

these are trifles, Mr. Premium. What! I know money isn't to 
be bought without paying for *t ! 

Sir Oliv. Well, but what security could you give } You have no 
land, I suppose } 

Chas. Surf, Not a mole-hill, nor a twig, but what 's in the bough- 
pots out of the window! 

Sir Oliv, Nor any stock, I presume } 

Chas, Surf, 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 Oliv, Why, to say truth, I am. 

Chas, Surf, Then you must know that I have a devilish rich 
uncle in the East Indies, Sir Oliver Surface, from whom I have 
the greatest expectations? 

Sir Oliv, That you have a wealthy uncle, I have heard ; but 
how your expectations will turn out is more, I believe, than you 
can tell. 

Chas, Surf Oh, no! — there can be no doubt. They tell me 
I 'm a prodigious favorite, and that he talks of leaving me everything. 

Sir Oliv, Indeed ! this is the first I 've heard of it. 

Chas, Surf Yes, yes, 't is just so, — Moses knows 't is true ; 
don't you, Moses } 

Mos, Oh, yes! I'll swear to't. 

Sir Oliv, Egad, they '11 persuade me presently I 'm at Bengal. 


Clms, Surf 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 him. 

I ustm; nxL Bat tbc bond 
t the worst scaniC}- you could 
hoodrcii zod never »ee llic prit»- 

Cte. 5h/ Oh. tck yoa wmdi! Ae BMncnt Sir Oliver dies, 
jvn know, loa iratU cone oo ok for the nwiiejr. 

Sir Oin. Then I believe t sImbU be the nMt mnrdooine dun 
ytn ever bad ia jow Gfe. 

Ckax^Sarf. Vihail I siqtpoae joa're afraid that Sir Oliver Is 
Coo g«x] a li£c? 

StrOirv. Noi indeed I an not; tboogh I have heard he is 
as hale oad hcaltby^ as any mas of his years in ChristcDdum. 

Ciai, Surf. Tbctc, ^aio, now yiHi arc misinfonned. Net, no, 
the dimaze has hurr him considerably, poor uncle Oliver. Yes, 
yes, he !>r.'.-ik- i-.^ncc. I'm t,.:.! — an^I is so ranch altered late!y 
that his nearest relations don't know him. 

Sir Oliv. Xo ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! so much altered lately that his 
nearest relations don't know him ! Ha! ha! ha! egad — ha!ha!ha! 

Chas. Surf. Ha I ha ! — you 're glad to hear that, little Premium ? 

Sir Oliv. No, no, 1 'm not. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, you are — ha! ha! ha! — you know that 
mends your chance. 

Sir Oliv. ISut I "m told Sir Oliver is coming over ; nay, some say 
he is actually arrived. 

Cliiir:. Surf. Pshaw ! sure I must know better than you whether 
he's ciimc or not. Xo, no, rely on 't he's at this moment at 
Calcutta. — Isn't he, Moses? 

Mos. Oh, yes, certainly. 

.S(> Oliv. Very true, as you say, j'ou must know better than I, 
though I have it from pretty good authority. — Have n't I, Moses ? 



A COMEDY • 265 

Mos. Yes, most undoubtedly ! 

Sir Oliv, But, sir, as I understand, you want a few hundreds 
immediately, — is there nothing you could dispose of ? 

Chas. Surf. How do you mean ? 

Sir Oliv. For instance, now, I have heard that your father left 
behind him a great quantity of massy old plate. 

Chas Surf. O Lud ! that's gone long ago. Moses can tell you 
how better than I can. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Good lack ! all the family race-cups and cor- 
poration-bowls ! [Aloud.] Then it was also supposed that his library 
was one of the most valuable and compact — 

CAas. Surf. Yes, yes, so it was — vastly too much so for a private 
gentleman. For my part, I was always of a communicative disposi- 
tion, so I thought it a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Mercy upon me ! learning that had run in the 
family like an heir-loom — [Alo7/d.] Pray, what are become of the 
books } 

Chas. Surf. You must inquire of the auctioneer, Master Premium, 
for I don't believe even Moses can direct you. 

Mos. I know nothing of books. 

Sir Oliv. So, so, nothing of the family property left, I suppose } 

Chas. Surf Not much, indeed ; unless you have a mind to the 
family pictures. I have got a room full of ancestors above ; and 
if you have a taste for old paintings, egad, you shall have 'cm a 
bargain ! 

Sir Oliv. Hey ! what the devil ! sure, you would n't sell your 
forefathers, would you } 

Chas. Surf. Every man of them, to the best bidder. 

Sir Oliv. What, your grcat-unclcs and aunts ? 

Chas. Surf Ay, and my great-grandfathers and grandmothers too. 



Sir Otiv. \Asidt.'\ Now I give him up I — \Aloud.\ What ihe 
plaguCi have jrou Du bowels for your own kiudrcd ? Odd 's life I do 
you tike me fur Sh)'lock in the play, that you would raise money o£ 
mc on your own flesh and blood ? 

Otas. Surf. Nay, my littk broker, don't be angry : what need you 
care, if you have your money's worth? 

Sir Oliv. Well. I '11 be the purchaser : I think 1 can dispose of 
the family canva*. — {Asidt^.] Oh, I' 11 never forgive him this ! never ! 
[Kc-EMitr Careless.] 

Cart. Come, Charles, what keeps you ? 

Ckas. Surf. I can't come yet. 1" faith, we arc going to have a 
sale above-stairs ; here 's little Premium will huy all my ancestors ! 

Care. Oh, burn your ancestors ! 

Chas. Surf. No, he may do that afterwards, if he pleases. Stay, 
Cart;, wo want you ; cj^ud, you bhall be auctioneer — so come 
along with us. 

Carf. Oil, have with you, if that 's the case. I can handle a 
hammer as well as a dice-box ! Going ! going ! 

Sir Oliv. Oh, the profligates ! [Aiide. 

Ckas. Surf. Come, Moses, you shall be appraiser, if we want one. 
Gad's life, little Premium, you don't seem to like the business ? 

Sir Oliv. Oh, yes, I do, vastly ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! yes, yes, I think 
it a rare joke to sell one's family by auction — ha! ha! — \Asidt\ 
Oh, the prodigal ! 

Chas. Surf. 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 ? 

Sir Oliv. I '11 never forgive hiin ; never ! never ! {Exeunt. 

^ r\ 

A COMEDY. 267 

Scene I. — A Picture Room in Charles Surface's House, 

Enter Charles Surface, Sir Oliver Surface, Moses, and 


Chas, Surf. Walk in, gentlemen, pray walk in ; — here they are, 
the family of the Surfaces, up to the Conquest. 

Sir Oliv, And, in my opinion, a goodly collection. 

Chas. Surf. Ay, ay, these are done in the true spirit of portrait- 
painting ; no volontiire grace or expression. Not like the works 
of your modern Raphaels, who give you the strongest resem- 
blance, yet contrive to make your portrait independent of you ; 
so that you may sink the original and not hurt the picture. — No, no ; 
the merit of these is the inveterate likeness — all stiff and awkward 
as the originals, and like nothing in human nature besides. 

Sir Oliv. Ah ! we shall never see such figures of men again. 

Chas. Surf I hope not — Well, you see, Master Premium, 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 grandfather's will answer the 

Care. Ay, ay, this will do. — But, Charles, I haven't a hammer; 
and what 's an auctioneer without his hammer } 

Chas. Surf Egad, that 's true. What parchment have we here ? 
Oh, our genealogy in full. {Taking pedigree down.] Here, Care- 
less, you shall have no common bit of mahogany, here's the 

— ^H 




■ it 

The Familv Fictdres. 

_ /^ 

A COMEDY. 269 

Chas, Surf. Knock down my aunt Deborah ! — Here, now, are 
two that were a sort of cousins of theirs. — You see, Moses, 
these pictures were done some time ago, when beaux wore wigs, 
and the ladies their own hair. 

Sir Oliv. Yes, truly, head-dresses appear to have been a little 
lower in those days. 

C/ias, Surf, Well, take that couple for the same. 

Mos. 'T is a good bargain. 

C/ias. Surf Careless ! — This, now, is a grandfather of my 
mother's, a learned judge, well known on the western circuit. — 
What do you rate him at, Moses } 

Mos. Four guineas. 

C/ias. Surf 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. 

Sir Oliv, By all means. 

Care, Gone ! 

C/ias, Surf And there are two brothers of his, William and 
Walter Blunt, Esquires, both members of parliament, and noted 
speakers ; and, what 's very extraordinary, I believe, this is the 
first time they were ever bought or sold. 

Sir Oliv, That is very extraordinary, indeed ! I '11 take them at 
your own price, for the honor of parliament. 

Care. Well said, little Premium! — I'll knock them down at 

C/ias. Surf Here's a jolly fellow — I don't know what relation, 
but he was mayor of Manchester : take him at eight pounds. 

Sir Oliv. No, no ; six will do for the mayor. 

Cftas. Surf. Come, make it guineas, and I '11 throw you the two 
aldermen there into the bargain. 


Sir Ohv. They 're mine, 

CAas. Surf. Careless, knock down the mayor and aldermen. — 
Bat, plague on 't ! we shall be all day retailing in this manner : 
do let U8 deal wholesale ; what say you, little Premium ? Give 
tne three hundred pounds for the rest of the family in the lump. 

Cars. Ay. ay. thai will be the best way. 

Sir Otiv. Well, well, anything to accommodate you ; they arc 
mine But there is one portrait which you have always passed 

Cart. What, that ill-louking little fellow over the settee? 

Sir Oliv. Yes, sir, I mean that ; thouj^h I don't think him so ill- 
looking a little fellow, by any means. 

Ckas. Surf. What, that.' — Oh; that's my uncle Oliver! 'twas 
done before he went to India. 

Care. 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 counte- 
nance ! an inveterate knave, depend on 't. Don't you think so, 
little Premium .> 

Sir Oliv. 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.' 

Clias. Surf. No, hang it ! I 'U not part with poor Noll. The 
old fellow has been very good to me, and, egad, I 'U keep his 
picture while I've a room to put it in. 

Sir Oliv. \_Asi<ie.'\ The rogue's my nephew after all! — [Aloud.] 
But, sir I have somehow taken a fancy to that picture. 

Clias. Stirf. I'm sorry for't, for you certainly will not have it. 
Oons, haven't you got enough of them.' 

Sir Oliv. [Aside] I forgive him everything ! — {Aloud.'\ But, 



A COMEDY. 271 

sir, when I take a whim in my head, I don't value money. I *11 
give you as much for that as for all the rest. 

C/ias, Surf, Don't tease me, master broker ; I tell you I '11 not 
part with it, and there's an end of it. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside,] How like his father the dog is ? — [A/oud] 
Well, well, I have done. — [Aside.] I did not perceive it before, 
but I think I never saw such a striking resemblance. — [Aloud.] 
Here is a draft for your sum. 

C/ias, Surf. Why, 't is for eight hundred pounds ! 

Sir Oliv. You will not let Sir Oliver go } 

C/ias. Surf Zounds ! no ! I tell you once more. 

Sir Oliv, Then never mind the difference, we '11 balance that 
another time. — But give me your hand on the bargain ; you arc 
an honest fellow, Charles — I beg pardon, sir, for being so free. — 
Come, Moses. 

Chas, Surf Egad, this is a whimsical old fellow ! — But hark'ee 
Premium, you '11 prepare lodgings for these gentlemen. 

Sir Oliv, Yes, yes, I '11 send for them in a day or two. 

C/ias, Surf But hold ; do now send a genteel conveyance for 
them, for, I assure you, they were most of them used to ride in 
their own carriages. 

Sir Oliv. I will, I will, — for all but Oliver. 

Chas, Surf. Ay, all but the little nabob. 

Sir Oliv. You 're fixed on that } 

Chas, Surf. Peremptorily. 

Sir Oliv [Aside.] A dear extravagant rogue ! — [Aloud.] Good 
day ! — Come, Moses. — [Aside.] Let me hear now who dares call 
him profligate ! [Exit ivith Moses. 

Care. Why, this is the oddest genius of the sort I ever met 




Ckas. Surf, Egad, he 's the prince of brokers, I think. I won- 
der how the devil Moses got acquainted with so honest a fellow. 
— Ha! here's Rowley. — Do, Careless, say I'll join the company 
in a few moments. 

Can, I will — hut don't let that old blockhead persuade you 
to squander any of that money on old musty debts, or any such 
nonsense; for tradesmen, Charles, arc the most exorbitant fellows. 

Chas. Surf. Very true, and paying them is only encouraging them. 

Cart. Nothing else. 

Cfias. Surf, Ay, ay, never fear. — \Exit Carf.lf-SS.] 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. 'I'ore 
Heaven ! I find one's ancestors are more valuable relations than I 
took ihcm for! — Ladies and gentlemen, your most obedient and 
very grateful servant, — [Bo'iVS ceremoniously to the picliircs. 

Enter Rowley. 

Ha ! old Rowley ! egad, you arc jiiit come in time to take leave 
of your old acciuaintance. 

Ro-.v. Vcs, I heard they were a-going. But I wonder you can 
have such spirits under so many distresses. 

Chas. Surf. Why, there's the point ! my distresses are so many, 
that I can't afford to part with my spirits ; but 1 shall be rich and 
splenetic, all in 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 '\% very affecting, but j'ou see they never move a 
muscle, so why should I .' 

Roii.'. There's no making you serious a moment. 

Chas. Surf. 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. 

A COMEDY, 273 

Row, A hundred pounds. Consider only 

Chas, Surf, 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. 

Row, Ah ! there *s the point ! I never will cease dunning you 
with the old proverb 

Chas, Surf, Be Just before you We generous, — Why, so I would if 

I could ; but Justice is an old, hobbling beldame, and I can't get her 

to keep pace with Generosity, for the soul of me. 

Row, Yet, Charles, believe me, one hour's reflection 

Chas, Surf, Ay, ay, it 's very true ; but, hark'ee, Rowley, while I 

have, by Heaven I '11 give : so, damn your economy ! and now for 

hazard. [Exeunt, 

Scene II. — Another room in the same. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Moses. 

Mos, Well, sir, I think, as Sir Peter said, you have seen Mr. 
Charles in high glory ; 't is great pity he 's so extravagant. 
Sir Oliv, True, but he would not sell my picture. 
Mos, And loves wine and women so much. 
Sir Oliv, But he would not sell my picture. 
Mos, And games so deep. 
Sir Oliv. But he would not sell my picture. Oh, here *s Rowley. 

Enter Rowley. 

Row, So, Sir Oliver, I find you have made a purchase 

Sir Oliv. Yes, yes, our young rake has parted with his ancestors 
like old tapestry. 

Row, And here has he commissioned me to re-dejiver you part of 


the parchase-mooey — I mean, though, in your necessitous character 
of oU Stanley. 

M»i. Ah ! there t> the pity of all ! he is so damned charitable. 

R»a>, And I left a hosier and two tailors in the hall, who, I 'm 
sure, won't be paid, and this hundred would satisfy them. 

Sir Oliv. Well, well, 1 '11 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 old Stanley. 

Rvw- Not yet awhile; Sir Peter, I know, means to call there 
about this time. 

Enter Trip. 

Trip. Oh, gentlemen, I beg pardon for not showing you out : this 
way — Moses, a word, \Exil with Moses. 

Sir Olii\ 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 ! 

Row. Indeed ! 

Str Oliv, Yes, they arc now planning an annuity business. Ah, 
Master Rowlej', 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 gloss on. 


Scene 111. — /i Library iti Joseph Surface's House, 

Enter Joseph Surface and Servant. 

Jos. Surf. No letter from Lady Teazle ? 
Scrv. No, sir. 
Jos. Surf. \Aside.\ I am surprised she has not sent, if she 

A COMEDY. 275 

is prevented from coming. Sir Peter certainly does not suspect 
me. Yet I wish I may not lose the heiress though the scrape I 
have drawn myself into with the wife : however, Charles's impru- 
dence and bad character are great points in my favor. 

{Knocking heard without, 

Ser. Sir, I believe that must be Lady Teazle. 

Jos, Surf. Hold ! See whether it is or not, before you go to the 
door : I have a particular message for you if it should be my brother. 

Ser. 'Tis her ladyship, sir; she always leaves her chair at the 
milliner's in the next street. 

Jos. Surf, Stay, stay ; draw that screen before the window — that 
will do; — my opposite neighbor is a maiden lady of so curious 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 that secret, — 
at least till I have her more in my power. 

Enter Lady Teazle. 

Lady Teaz. 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. 

Jos, Surf, O madam, punctuality is a species of constancy, very 
unfashionable in a lady of quality. 

{Places chairs and sits after Lady Teazle is seated.] 

Lady Teaz. Upon my word, you ought to pity me. Do you know 
Sir Peter has 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 > 

Jos. Surf. I am glad my scandalous friends keep that up. {Aside, 

Lady Teaz. I am sure I wish he would let Maria marry him, and 
then perhaps he would be convinced ; don't you, Mr. Surface ? 

Jos. Surf. {Aside.] Indeed I do not. — {Aloud.] Oh, certainly I 



do ! for then my dear Lady Teazle would also be convinced how 
wrong her suspicions were of my having any design on the silly 

Lady Ttas. Well, well, I 'm inclined to believe you. But isn't it 
provoking, to have the most ill-natured things said of one ? And 
there '» my friend Lady Snccrwcll has circulated I don't know how 
many scandalous talcs of mc, and all without any foundation too ; — 
that 's what vexes mc. 

Jas. Surf. Ay, madanij to be sure, that is iho provoking circum- 
stance — without foundation; yes, yes, there's the mortification, 
indeed ; for, when a scandalous story is believed against one, there 
certainly is no comfort like the consciousness of having descr\-cd it. 

Lady Teat. No, to be sure, then 1 'd forgive their malice ; but to 
attack mc, 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 integrity of my own heart — indeed 'C is monstrous ! 

Jos. Surf. Hut, 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 
broken, and she owes it to the honor of her sex to endeavor to out- 
wit him. 

Liiiiy Ti-aa. Indeed ! — So that, if he suspects me without causo, 
it follows, that the best way of curing his jealousy is to give him 
reason for't ? 

Jos. Surf. Undoubtedly — for your husband should never be 
deceived in you : and in that case it becomes you to be frail in com- 
pliment to liis discernment. 

LnJy Tcaz. To be sure, what you say is very reasonable, and 
when the con.sciousness of my innocence 

A COMEDY, 277 

Jos. Surf, 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 opinion? why, the consciousness of your own innocence. 
What makes you thoughtless in your conduct and apt to run into a 
thousand little imprudences } why, the consciousness of your own 
innocence. What makes you impatient of Sir Peter's temper, and 
outrageous at his suspicions } why, the consciousness of your inno- 

Lady Teas, 'T is very true ! 

Jos, Surf. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would but once 
make a trifUng faux fias, you can't conceive how cautious you would 
grow, and how ready to humor and agree with your husband. 

Lady Tcaz, Do you think so } 

Jos, Surf. Oh, I am sure on 't ; and then you would find all 
scandal would cease at once, for — in short, your character at present 
is like a person in a plethora, absolutely dying from too much health. 

Lady Tcaz, So, so ; then I perceive your prescription is, that 
I must sin in my own defence, and part with my virtue to pre- 
serve my reputation } 

Jos, Surf Exactly so, upon my credit, ma'am. 

Lady Teas. Well, certainly this is the oddest doctrine, and the 
newest receipt for avoiding calumny! 

Jos, Surf, An infallible one, believe me. Prudence, like expe- 
rience, must be paid for. 

Lady Teaz, Why, if my understanding were once convinced — 

Jos. Surf Oh, certainly, madam, your understanamg should be 
convinced. Yes, yes, — Heaven forbid I should persuade you to 
do anything you thought wrong. No, no, I have too much honor 
to desire it. 


Lady Teas. Don't you think we m^y as well leave honor out 
of the argument ? \Ris€s. 

Jes. Surf. Ah, the ill effects of your country education, I sec. 
BtiU remain with you. 

Lady Teas. I doubt ihcy do indeed ; and I will fairly own to 
yoii, that if I could be persuaded to do wrong, it would be by 
Sir Peter's ill usage sooner than your honorable logic, after all. 
Jos. Surf. Then, by this hand, which he is unworthy of 

[ Taking her liand. 
Re-enter Servant, 
'S death, you blockhead — what do you want ? 

Ser. I beg your pardon, sir, but I thought you would not 
choose Sir Peter to come up without announcing him. 
Jos. Surf. Sir Peter ! — Oons — the devil ! 
Lady Tea:. Sir Peter ! O Lud ! I 'm ruined ! I 'm ruined \ 
Ser. Sir, 'twas n't I let him in. 

Lady Tea::. Oh! I'm quite undone ! What will become of me.' 
Now, Mr. Logic — Oh! mercy, sir, he's on the stairs — I'll get 

behind here — and if ever I'm so imprudent again 

[Goes behind the screen. 
Jos. Surf. Give mc that book. 

[Si/x dmvn. Serv ,\tiT /retends toadjust his chair. 

Enter SiH Peter Te.azle. 
Sir Peter. Ay, ever imjiroving himself — Mr. Surface, Mr. 

Surface \Pats Joseph on the shontdcr. 

Jos. Surf Oh, my dear Sir Peter, I beg your jjardon — [Gaping, 
throws aivay llic book^ I have been dozing over a stupid book. 
Well, I am much obliged to you for this call. You haven't been 
here, I believe, since I fitted up this room. Books, you know, 
are the only things in which I am a ( 


A COMEDY. 279 

Sir Peter, Tis very neat indeed. — Well, well, that's proper; 
and you can make even your screen a source of knowledge — 
hung, I perceive, with maps. 

Jos. Surf. Oh,- yes, I find great use in that screen. 
Sir Peter. I dare say you must, certainly, when you want to 
find anything in a hurry. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, or to hide anything in a hurry either. [Aside. 

Sir Peter. Well, I have a little private business 

Jos. Surf. You need not stay. [To Servant. 

Ser. No, sir. [Exit, 

Jos. Surf. Here 's a chair. Sir Peter — I beg 

Sir Peter. Well, now we are alone, there is a subject, 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 good friend. 
Lady Teazle's conduct of late has made me very unhappy. 
Jos. Surf. Indeed ! I am very sorry to hear it. 
Sir Peter. Yes, 'tis but 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 attachment to another. 
Jos. Surf. Indeed ! you astonish me ! 

Sir Peter. Yes ! and, between ourselves, I think 1 've discovered 
the person. 

Jos. Surf How ! you alarm me exceedingly. 
Sir Peter. Ay, my dear friend, I knew you would sympathize 
with me I 

Jos. Surf. Yes, believe mc, Sir Peter, such a discovery would 
hurt me just as much as it would you. 

Sir Peter. I am convinced of it. — Ah ! it is a happiness to have 
a friend whom we can trust even with one's family secrets. But 
have you no guess who I mean? 



/as. Sur/. I Iiavcn'l the most distant idea. It can't be Sir 
Benjamin Uackbitc! 

Sir Pfti-r. Ob, no! What say you to Charles? 

Jtfs. Surf. My brother! impossible! 

Sir Pthr. Oh, my dear friend, the goodness of your own heart 
misleads you. You judge of others by yourself. 

Jos. Sur/. Certainly. Sir I'elcr, the heart that is conscious ot 
its own intfgrity is ever slow to credit another's treachery. 

Sir Pttrr. True; but your brother has no sentiment — you never 
hear him talk so. 

/es. Stir/. Vet I can't but think I-ady Teazle herself has too 
much principle. 

Sir Peter. Ay ; but what is principle against the flattery tf a 
handsome, lively young fellow.' 
/os. Sur/. That 's very true. 

Sir Peter. And then, you know, the difference of our ages 
makes it very improbable that she should have any 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, who had married a girl. 

/os. Sur/. That's true, to be sure — they would laugh. 

Sir Peter. Laugh I ay, and make ballads, and paragraphs, and 
the devil knows what of mo. 

/os. Surf. No, — you must never make it public. 

Sir Pein: 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. 

Jos. Sur/ Ay, there 's the point. When ingratitude barbs the 
dart of injury, the wound has double danger in it. 

Sir Peter. Ay — I, thai was, in a manner, left his guardian: 

^ r>K 

A COAfEDK 281 

in whose house he had been so often entertained ; who never in 
my life denied him — my advice ! 

yos. Surf, Oh, *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 him, he is no longer a brother of 
mine — I disclaim kindred with him: for the man who can break 
the laws of hospitality, and tempt the wife of his friend, deserves 
to be branded as the pest of society. 

Sir Peter, What a difference there is between you ! What 
noble sentiments ! 

Jos, Surf, Yet I cannot suspect Lady Teazle's honor. 

Sir Peter, I am sure I wish to think well of her, and to re- 
move all ground of quarrel between us. She has lately reproached 
me more than once with having 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 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, arc the drafts of two 
deeds, which I wish to have your opinion on. — By one, she will 
enjoy eight hundred a year independent while I live ; and by 
the other, the bulk of my fortune at my death. 

Jos, Surf, This conduct, Sir Peter, is indeed truly generous. — 
[Aside.] I wish it may not corrupt my pupil. 

Sir Peter, Yes, I am determined she shall have no cause to 
complain, though I would not have her acquainted with the latter 
instance of my affection yet awhile. 

Jos, Surf Nor I, if I could help it [Aside. 



Sir PtUr. Aoii now. mv dear friend, if yon jJcase, wc will talk 
i.ovcr th« uttutioD of your hopes with Maria. 

Joa. Surf. \Si>/d/.\ Oh, no, Sir I'ctcr; another lime, if you 

Sir Pi If r. I am sensibly chagrined at the little progress you 
seem to make in her aficctions. 

/«. Surf. [5.jrV/r J I beg you will not mention it. What arc 
. my disappf'intments when yuur happiness is in debate ! — [Aside] 
I 'Stleath, I shall be ruined every way.' 

Sir PiUr. And (hough you are »' averse to my acquainting Lady 
Teailc with your passion lor Maria, I "m sure she 's not your 
enemy in the affair. 

/nj. Surf. Pray. Sir Peter, w^w oblige me. I am really too 
much affected by the subject we have been speaking of. to bestow 
a thought on my own concerns. The man who is entrusted with 
his friend's distresses can never 


Re Enter Servant. 

Well, sir > 

Scr. Your brother, sir, is speaking to 
street, and says he kmiws you arc within. 

Jos. Surf. 'Sdc.ith. blockhead, 1 'ni not within — I 'm out for 
the day. 

Sir Peter. Scny — hnld — a thought has struck me : — you shall 
be at humc. 

fos.Siaf Wl-11, well, let him up. — {Exit Servant.] He'll 
intcriu])t Sir Peter, however. [Aside. 

Sir Peter. \u\v, my good friend, oblige me, I entreat you. — 
Before Cliailcs comes, let me conceal myself somewhere, — then da 
you ta.-i liim on tlic point we liavc been talking, and his answer 
may satisfy me at once. 

^^ r\ 

A COMEDY. 283 

Jos. Surf, Oh, fie, Sir Peter ! would you have me join in so 
mean a trick? — to trepan my brother too? 

Sir Peter. Nay, you tell me you are sure he 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 : [Going ///,] here behind the screen will be 
— Hey ! what the devil ! there seems to be one listener here 
already — I '11 swear I saw a petticoat ! 

Jos. Surf. Ha ! ha ! ha ! Well, this is ridiculous enough. I '11 
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 absolute Joseph either! Hark'ec, 'tis a little French 
milliner, — a silly rogue that plagues me; — and having some char- 
acter to lose, on your coming, sir, she ran behind the screen. 

Sir Peter. Ah, Joseph ! Joseph ! Did I ever think that you '■ 

But, egad, she has overheard all I have been saying of my 

Jos. Surf. Oh, 'twill never go any farther, you may depend 
upon it ! 

Sir Peter. No ! then, faith, let her hear it out. — Here 's a 
closet will do as well. 

Jos. Surf. Well, go in there. 

Sir Peter. Sly rogue ! sly rogue ! [Goes into the closet. 

Jos. Surf. A narrow escape, indeed ! and a curious situation 
I 'm in, to part man and wife in this manner. 

Lady Teaz. [Peepifig.] Could n't I steal off ? 

Jos. Surf. Keep close, my angel ! 

Sir Peter. [Pee/>i7/g.] Joseph, tax him home. 

Jos. Surf. Back, my dear friend ! 

Lady Teaz. [Peeping.'] Could n't you lock Sir Peter in ? 



y«r. Sttrf, Be still, my life 
SirP€Ur. {Peffft] Yoa 're snre ihc Gitle milliner won't bbb? 
Jta. Sitr/, In, in, my dear Sir Pcler ! — "Fore Gad, I wbh I 
bad a key tu the door. 

Ejttter CusitlXS SuKfACE. 
Ouu. Surf. Holla! brother, what has bcca the matter? Your 
fellow would oot let me up at first. What ! have you had a Jew 
or a weocb with ycu? 

Jot. Surf. Neither, brother, I assure yuu. 
Oias. Surf. But what has made Sir Peter steal off ? I tlioit°ht 
be had been with yoa 

JiU. Surf. He wvu, brother; but. hearing you were coming, he 
did not choose to stay. 

Oias. Stir/. What \ was the old gentleman afraid I wanted to 
borrow money of him ? 

Jos. Surf. No, sir : but I am sorrj' to find, Charles, you have 
lately given that worthy man grounds for great uneasiness, 

Otas. Surf. Yes, they tell me I do that to a great many worthy 
men. — But how so, pray ? 

Jos. Surf To be plain with you, brother, — he thinks you are 
endeavoring to gain La<ly Teazle's affections from him. 

C/ias. Surf Who, I? O Lnd ! not I, upon my word. — Ha! 
ha! ha! ha! so the old fullow has found out that he has got a 
young wife, has he?- — or, what is worse, Lady Teazle has found 
out she has an old husband.' 

Jos. Surf. This is no subjeet to jest on, brother. He who can 


C/ius. Surf. True, true, as you were going to say — then, seri- 
ously, I never had the least idea of what you charge me with, 
upon my honor. 


A COAfEDV. 285 

/os. Surf, Well, it will give Sir Peter great satisfaction to hear 
this. [Raisi//^ /it's voice. 

C/ias. Surf, To be sure, I once thought the lady seemed to 
have taken a fancy to me ; but, upon my soul, I never gave her the 
least encouragement. — Besides, you know my attachment to Maria. 

yos. Surf. But sure, brother, even if Lady Teazle had betrayed 
the fondest partiality for you 

C/ias. Surf. Why, look *ee, Joseph, I hope I shall never delibe- 
rately do a dishonorable action ; but if a pretty woman was pur- 
posely to throw herself in my way — and that pretty woman 
married to a man old enough to be her father 

/os. Surf. Well ! 

CAas. Surf. Why, I believe I should be obliged to 

Jos. Surf. What ? 

CAas. Surf. To borrow a little of your morality, that 's all. But, 
brother, do you know now that you surprise me exceedingly, by 
naming vie with Lady Teazle ; for, i' faith, I always understood you 
were her favorite. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, for shame, Charles ! This retort is foolish. 

Chas. Surf Nay, I swear I have seen you exchange such signifi- 
cant glances 

Jos. Surf Nay, nay, sir, this is no jest. 

Chas. Surf Egad, I'm serious! Don't you remember one day, 
when I called here 

Jos. Surf Nay, pr'ythee, Charles 

Chas. Surf And found you together 

Jos. Surf Zounds, sir, I insist 

Chas. Surf And another time when your servant 

Jos Surf Brother, brother^ a word with you. — [Aside.] Gad, I 
must stop him. 



Clmt. Surf, hiformcd, \ ny. ihat 

/m. Surf. 1 lutli ) f beg your portion, but Sir Tctcr bas a 
■tl We have been Kiyini;. I kn«w you would dcai jonndC I 
HhuuM not have consented. 

Chttf. Surf. Muw. Sir I'clcr! Where u he? 

Jtn. SHrf. S*'ftly. Ihcrcl [Pamts t^ u 

Cktt Surf Oil, 'fiifc Heaven, I 'U bate hint oat. Sir Peter, 
coine fuitlil 

y«. Snrf, No. no ^— 

CfMi. hhrf. I My, Sir Peter, come into conrt — [Pulls in Sb 
I'kthhI What! my old guardian t ■- What ! tnm bujuisitar. and 
talto cvUkncc incog. / Oh, fie t Oh. fie ! 

S(r Prtfr. tJlvc n\e your hand. Charles— I belieii-e I have so*- 
(wctcil you WKinRtiilly: but you mustn't be angry with Joseph — 
■iw... my 

(//,*., rii<li-L-i). 

.S(^ /'(A/, Hut I a(i]iiit you I promise you I don't think near 
hit ill i>( yini iks I dill: what I have heard has given me great sat- 

(/f,(i Sill/. \'.y,-M\. then, 'twas lucky you didn't hear anymore 

W.l;. Il'l ll, |iiM|.ll? [Aside lO ]OSE£VL 

^1/ I'.ui All ! Jim wdiild have retorted on him. 

( /.M-. Sii,/ Ah, ay, thai was a joke. 

Sii l\t,i. \'i?i,)L's, I kiHiw his honor too well, 

Cliits. Sill/ lliii juu nii-lit as well have suspected liim as w^in 
lliis lu.iiict, (<ii .t;; iliai Mi-Ill ii't he. Joseph? [Asiiie /<? Joseph. 

Sir r.l.i. Will, well, I Iielicve you. 
Ji's. Surf. U'oiilil Uioy wore iiolh out of Ihc room ! [Asidt. 

Sir Ptfif. Ami in fiiUuc, pcih.ips vvc may not be such 

^\ ^ 

A COATED y. 287 

Re-Enter Servant, and whispers Joseph Scrface, 

Ser, Lady Sneerwell is below, and says she will come up. 

Jos. Surf. Lady Sneerwell ! Gad *s life ! she must not come 
here. {Exit Servant.] Gentlemen, I beg pardon — I must wait on 
you down stairs : here is a person come on particular business. 

Chas, Surf. 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. 

Jos. Surf. [Aside.] They must not be left together. — [Aloud.] 
I '11 send this man away, and return directly. — [Aside to Sir Peter.] 
Sir Peter, not a word of the French milliner. 

Sir Peter. [Aside to Joseph Surface.] I ! not for the world ! 

— [Exit Joseph Surface.] Ah, Charles, if you associated more 
with your brother, one might indeed hope for your reformation. He 
is a man of sentiment. — Well, there is nothing in the world so noble 
as a man of sentiment. 

Chas. Surf Pshaw! he is too moral by half; and so apprehensive 
of his good name, as he calls it, that I suppose be would as soon let 
a priest into his house as a girl. 

Sir Peter. No, no, — come, come, — you wrong him. No, no I 
Joseph is no rake, but he is no such saint either in that respect. — 
[Aside.] I have a great mind to tell him — we should have such a 
laugh at Joseph. 

Chas. Suff. Oh, hang him ! he 's a very anchorite, a young 

Sir Peter, Hark'ee — you must not abuse him: he may chance 
to hear of it again, I promise you. 

Chas. Surf Why, you won't tell him ? 

Sir Peter. No — but — this vf^y, — [Aside.] Egad, I'll tell him. 

— [Aloud.] Hark 'ee — have you a mind to have a good laugh 
at Joseph ? 




Chss. Strf. I should like it of all tilings. 

Sir Ptter. Then, j' faith, we will ! — { '11 be quit with him for >iis- 
covering me. — He had a girl with him when I called. {Whispers. 

Chas. Surf. What! Joseph? you jest. 

Sir Peler. Hush I— a little French miiliner — and the best of the 
jc»t is — she is in the room now, ^^ 

Chas. Skrf. The devil she i« ! ^| 

SirPehr. Hush ! I tell you. {Feints to tkr tcnen. 

Otas. Surf. Itebind the screen ! "S life, let 's unveil her I 

Sir PeSfr. No, no, — he's coming : — you sha'n'l indeed I 

C/ias. Surf. Oh, egad, we '11 have a peep at the little milliner 1 

Sir Peter. Not for the world ! — Joseph will n eyer foigive jot.- 1 

Cftas. Surf. I 'U stand by you — 

Sir Peter. Odds, bcrc he is ! 

Rc-Eiiter Joseph Surface yW^ as Charles Surface throws 
doiuit the screen. 

C/ias. Surf. La<l)' Teazle, by all that 's wonderful. 

Sir Peter. Lady Teazle, by all that 's damnable ! 

Chas. Surf. Sir Peter, this is one of the smartest French milliners 
1 ever saw. Egad, you seem all 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 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 will 
leave you to yourselves. — \Goiiig^ 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 ! 
[ They stand for some time looking at each oiher.\ \Exit Charles. 

A COMEDY. 289 

Jos. Surf, Sir Peter — notwithstanding — I confess — that ap- 
peaiances are against me — if you will afford me your patience — I 
make no doubt — but I shall explain everything to your satisfaction. 

Sir Peter. If you please, sir. 

Jos, Surf. The fact is, sir, that Lady Teazle, knowing my preten- 
sions to your ward Maria — I say, sir. Lady Teazle, being apprehen- 
sive of the jealousy of 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 apprehen- 
sive — as I said — of your jealousy — she withdrew — and this, 
you may depend on it, is the whole truth of the matter. 

Sir Peter, A very clear account, upon my word ; and I dare swear 
the lady will vouch for every article of it. 

Lady Teaz, For not one word of it. Sir Peter ! 

Sir Peter. How ! don't you think it worth while to agree in the 

Lady Teaz. There is not one syllable of truth in what that 
gentleman has told you. 

Sir Peter. I believe you, upon my soul, ma'am ! 

Jos. Surf. [Aside to Lady Teazle.] *Sdeath, madam, will you 
betray me ? 

Lady Teaz. Good Mr. Hypocrite, by your leave, I '11 speak for 

Sir Peter. Ay, let her alone, sir; you'll find she'll make out 
a better story than you, without prompting. 

Lady Teaz. Hear me, Sir Peter! — I came here on no matter 
relating to your ward, and even ignorant of this gentleman's pre- 
tensions to her. But I came, seduced by his insidious arguments, at 
least to listen to his pretended passion, if not to sacrifice your 
honor to his baseness. 




Sir Ptttr. Now. I bdkve, Ibc truth is comipg, indeed ! 

Jos. Surf. The woman 's mad. 

Lady Teax. No, sir ; she has recovered her senses, and your own 
Brt£ have furnished her with the means. — Sir Teter, I do not cxpea 
ywi to credit n»e — but Ihc tenderness you expressed for me. when i 
im sure you cuald not thick I was a witness to it, has so penetrated 
\\* my heart, that had I left the place without the shame of thii 
discovery, my future life should have spoken the sincerity of my 
gratilttilc As for that smooth-tongued hypocrite, who would have 
seduced the wife of his too credulous friend, while he affected 
honorable addresses to his ward — I behold him now in a light so 
tndy despicable, that I shall never again respect myself for having 
listened to him. [Exit Lady Teazix 

Ji>s. Surf. Notwithstanding all this, Sir Peter, Heaven knows 

Sir Peter. That you arc a villain ! and so I leave you to your 

Jos. Surf. You arc too rash, Sir Peter ; you shall hear me. The 
man who shuts out conviction by refusing to 

Sir Pcler Oh, damn your sentiments ! 

[Exeunt SiR Peter and Joseph Surface, talking. 




Scene I. — The Library in Joseph Surface's House. 

Enter Joseph Surface and Servant. 

Jos. Surf. Mr. Stanley ! and why should you think I would see 
him ? you must know he comes to ask something. 

Ser, Sir, I should not have let him in, but that Mr. Rowley 
came to the door with him. 

Jos. Surf. Psha ! 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 i 

Ser. I will, sir. — Why, sir, it was not my fault that Sir Peter 
discovered my lady 

Jos. Suff 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 humor to listen to other people's distresses ! I 
sha'n't be able to 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 Oliv. What ! does he avoid us ? That was he, was it not ? 

Row. 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. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, plague of his nerves ! Yet this is he whom Sir 
Peter extols as a man of the most benevolent way of thinking 1 

- -'T Tr^j; , en:!»-ardi- tioi; T in«a mc al Sir Peter's. 
t/.".-7 I d.'L ': like ibe CLnriiiaisanrc of liis fcaturci. 

5..r''. S:-. I brf vc-j Tt-n iboiisuic paixkos for ke^nng 

moreen; w^::n-. — Mr. SianjfA", I presainic 

C/r-.: A: vv-r service. 

.V//r/! .S:.-, I be^ vju wi;] do me the honor to sit down — 

>■ O/iv. JJcar iir — there's i 

) occasion. [Aside.] Too civi] by 


Siir-/. 1 have not the pleasure of knowing you, Mr. Stanley: 
r;( L-Atrcmtly happy to sec you look so well You were nearly 
i» my idothc-r, I think, .Mr. Stanley ? 
O/iv. I was, sir ; so nearly that my present poverty, I fear, 

_ r-\ 

A COMEDY. 293 

may do discredit to her wealthy children, else I should not have 
presumed to trouble you. 

Jos. Surf. 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 one of that class, and had it in my 
power to offer you even a small relief. 

Sir Oliv. If your uncle, Sir Oliver, were here, I should have a 

Jos. Surf, I wish he was, sir, with all my heart : you should not 
want an advocate with him, believe me, sir. 

Sir Oliv, I should not need one — my distresses would recom- 
mend me. But I imagined his bounty would enable you to become 
the agent of his charity. 

Jos, Surf, My dear sir, you were strangely misinformed. Sir 
Oliver is a worthy man, a very worthy man ; but avarice, Mr. 
Stanley, is the vice of age. I will tell you, my good sir, in confi- 
dence, 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. 

Sir Oliv. What! has he never transmitted you bullion — rupees 
— pagodas } 

Jos, Surf Oh, dear sir, nothing of the kind ! No, no ; a few 
presents now and then — china, shawls, congou tea, avadavats, and 
Indian crackers — little more, believe me. 

Sir Oliv, Here 's gratitude for twelve thousand pounds ! — Avada- 
vats and Indian crackers ! [Aside, 
Jos, Sutf Then, my dear sir, you have heard, I doubt not, of 
the extravagance of my brother : there are very few would credit 
what I have done for that unfortunate young man. 

Sir Oliv. Not I, for one I \Aside, 

>kJ«^ TkK w l^k^ftis:— 

a^wffad sd 


■e; IB fjgj milboat Ibe 
to aik aad be denied 

yML £»/ sue Bve tt 
f tf to tdfew; ■ <a ■f 
SirO/hr. Ktadar.ywr 
VW. SIm// Yo« lean ne deeply affected. Mr. Sunier- — ^ 

Uaeo, bt iturLy to cj*:: the com-. [C>//r to Sebvakt. 

.Sjr Oiiv. Or., dear t:.-, r^c ceremotiy. 

Jot. Surf. Vo-r vcr.' obecienL 

Sir Olti: Sir, vour mfist obseqoii'js. 

_/« /, .S«r/ \'ou rridV depend upon bearing [rom me, wbeoevcr I 
can U: 'A senicc. 

Sir Otiv. Sweet sir, you are too good ! 
/(//. Surf. In the mean time I wish you health and spirits. 

Sir Oliv. Your ever j^ratcful and perpetual humble servant. 
/-'/, Surf. Sir, yours as sincerely. 

Sir OUv. \Asid(.\ Charles, you arc my heir ! \_Exil. 

Jvs. Surf. Thi.s i.s one bad effect of a good character; it invites 
apjijiciition from the unfortunate, and there needs no small degree of 
address to ^a\\\ Ihc reputation of benevolence without incurring the 
expense. 'I'hc silver oie of pure charity is an expensive article in 
tho ciituloguc of a man's good qualities; whereas the sentimental 


A COMEDY. 295 

French plate I use instead of it makes just as good a show, and pays 

no tax. 

Re-Enter RowLEy. 

Row, Mr. Surface, your servant : I was apprehensive of inter- 
rupting you, though my business demands immediate attention, as 
this note will inform you. 

Jos. Surf. Always happy to see Mr. Rowley, — a rascal. — [Aside, 
Reads the letter.^ Sir Oliver Surface ! — My uncle arrived ! 

Row. He is, indeed: we have just parted — quite well, after a 
speedy voyage, and impatient to embrace his worthy nephew. 

Jos. Surf. I am astonished ! — William ! stop Mr. Stanley, if he 's 
not gone. [Caiis to Sf.kvant. 

Row. Oh ! he's out of reach, I believe. 

Jos. Surf. Why did you not let me know this when you came in 
together } 

Row. I thought you had particular business, liut 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. 

Jos. Surf So he says. Well, I am strangely overjoyed at his 
coming. — [Aside.] Never, to be sure, was anything so damned 
unlucky ! 

Row. You will be delighted to see how well he looks. 

Jos. Surf Ah! I'm rejoiced to hear it. — [Aside.] Just at this 

Row. I '11 tell him how impatiently you expect him. 

Jos. Surf Do, do ; pray give my best duty and 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, 



ScEKK II. — A Room in Sir Pbier Teazle's House. 
EalerlARs. Canoour aW Maip. 

AfaiJ. Indeed, ma'am, my lady will sec nobody at present 

fifn. Can. Did you tell her It was her friend, Mrs. Candour? 

Maid. Yes, ma'am ; but she begs you will excuse her. 

Mrs. Can. Do go again : I shall be gbd to see her. if it be only 
for a moment, for I'm sure -she must be in great distress, — [Exit 
Maid.] Dear heart, bow provoking ! I 'm not mistress of half the 
circumstances! We sliall have the whole affair in the newspapers, 
with the names of the parties at length, before I have dropped the 
Story at a dozen houses. 

Enter SiH. Benjamin Backiute. 

Oh, dear Sir Benjamin ! you have heard, I suppose 

S/rJh-'/J. Of Ljl!> '1\aAl- .ma Mr. ^i,n:icc — 

^frs. Can. And Sir Peter's discovery 

Sir Bcnj. Oh, 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. 

Sir Beiij. Now, I don't pity Sir Peter at all : he was so extrava- 
gantly partial to Mr. Surface. 

Mrs. Can. Mr. Surface ! Why 't was with Charles Lady Teazle 
was detected. 

Sir Bcnj. No, no, I tell you : Mr. Surface is the gallant. 

Mrs. Can. No such thing! Charles is the man. 'Twas Mr. Sur- 
face brought Sir Peter on purpose to discover them, 

ilir Bcnj. I tell you I had it from one 

Mrs. Can. And I have it from one 

Sir Berij. Who had it from one, who had it 


A COMEDY. 297 


Mrs. Can. From one immediately — But here comes Lady 
Sneerwell ; perhaps she knows the whole affair. 

Enter Lady Sneerwell. 

Lady Sneer. So, my dear Mrs. Candour, here 's a sad affair of our 
friend Lady Teazle ! 

Mrs. Can. Ay, my dear friend, who would have thought 

Lady Sneer. Well, there is no trusting appearances ; though, in- 
deed, she was always too lively for me. 

Mrs. Can. To be sure, her manners were a little too free; but 
then she was so young ! 

Lady Sneer. And had, indeed, some good qualities. 

Mrs. Can. So she had, indeed. But have you heard the particulars ? 

Lady Sneer. No ; but every body says that Mr. Surface 

Sir Benj. Ay, there ; I told you Mr. Surface was the man. 

Mrs. Can. No, no : indeed the assignation was with Charles. 

Lady Sneer. With Charles ! You alarm me, Mrs. Candour ! 

Mrs. Can. Yes, yes ; he was the lover. Mr. Surface, to do him 
justice, was only the informer. 

Sir Benj. Well, I *11 not dispute with you, Mrs. Candour ; but, 
be it which it may, I hope that Sir Peter's wound will not 

Mrs. Can. Sir Peter's wound ! Oh, mercy ! I did n't hear a word 
of their fighting. 

Lady Sneer. Nor I, a syllable. 

Sir Benj. No ! what, no mention of the duel ? 

Mrs. Can. Not a word. 

Sir Benj. Oh, yes : they fought before they left the room. 

Lady Sneer. Pray let us hear. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, do oblige us with the duel. 

Sir Benj. Sir^ says Sir Peter, immediately after the discovery, 
you are a most ungrateful fellow. 

isz stsoat fv xAnnti. 




Mn. Cm. Kj. to Oario 

SirAmf. X0.110 — t»Mr.Ssr£kce— « mmf m^wvtfid ftthm; 

Mrx. Ctm, Aj, that mmi hne been lo Cbacks; iac 'th 
■BfiltdyMr. SmfaexsiMUtgtenkkiwii boMc 

SirSof. GacTs Sfe, mam. oat at aH— /rruy m^ immrdiatt 
tmtirfmttimL— Ob this, ma'am. Lady Teazle, seeing Sir Peter in sucfa 
(fanger, nn oot t4 tbc room in stRAg hysterics, aad Charln aiier 
bcr, caJtiag oot (or turtshom aad water ; ibcn. madam, tbey begaa 

to fight with swords 

Emt/r Cluimucc. 

Cmfi. With pistols, n^ihcw — pistols ! I have il Erora uodi 

Mfx. Cam. Ob, Mr. Cnbtree. then h is atl tme I 

CraA. Too true, indeed, madam, and Sir Peter is dangerously 

Street//. By a thrust in second quite through his left side 

CraA. By a bullet lodged in the thorax. 

Mrs. Can. Mercy on me ! Poor Sir Peter ! 

Crafi. Yes, madam ; though Charles would have avoided the mat- 
ter, if he could. 

Jtfrs. Can. I told you who it was ; I knew Charles was the person. 

.V/> /.V/y. My unclf, I sec, knows nothing of the matter. 

Cnib. liiit Sir I'ctcr taxed him with the basest ingratitude ■ 

.SV> /'iiij. That I told you, you know 

Cruk Do, nephew, let me speak ! — and insisted on imme- 

•S'/V /'•II/. Just as I s.iid 

Cnif'. Oiliis life, nephew, allow others to know something too! A 
pair <if pisluls lay on tlic bureau (for Mr Surface, it seems had come 

A COMEDY, 299 

home the night before late from Salthill, where he had been to see 
the Montem with a friend, who has a son at Eton), so, unluckily, the 
pistols were left charged. 

Sir Bertj, I heard nothing of this. 

Crab, Sir Peter forced Charles to take one, and 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 
fireplace, grazed out of the window at a right angle, and wounded 
the postman, who was just coming to the door with a double 
letter from Northamptonshire. 

Sir Benj, My uncle's account is more circumstantial, I confess ; 
but I believe mine is the true one, for all that. 

Lady Sneer. [Aside.] I am more interested in this affair than 
they imagine, and must have better information. 

[Exit Lady Sneerwell. 

Sir Benj, Ah ! Lady SneerweH's alarm is very easily accounted 

Crab. Yes, yes, they certainly do say — but that's neither here 
nor there. 

Mrs. Can. But, pray, where is Sir Peter at present } 

Crab. Oh, they brought him home, and he is now in the house, 
though the servants are ordered to deny him. 

Mrs. Can. I believe so, and Lady Teazle, I suppose, attending 

Crab. Yes, yes ; and I saw one of the faculty enter just before mc. 
Sir Benj, Hey! who comes here .^ 
Crab. Oh, this is he : the physician, depend on 't. 
Mrs. Can. Oh, certainly! it must be the physician ; and now 
we shall know. 




Entrr Sir Omveh Surface. 

Ow*. WeD, doclor. what hope* ? 

Mrs. Om. Ay, doclor, how '» your patient ? 

Sir Bfnj. Now, tlwitor, i» n't it a wound with a smail-sword ? 

Cra^. A bullet lodged in the thonut, for a hundred! 

Sir Oiiv. Doctor! a wound with a emall-sword ! and a bullet in 
I' the thorax! — Ooos I arc you mad, good people? 

Sir BfMJ. Perhaps, sir, you arc not a doctor? 

Sir Oliv. Truly, I am to thank you for my degree, if 
I am. 

Crab. Only a friend of Sir Peter's, then, I presume. But, sir, 
you must have heani of his accident ? 

Sir Oliv. Not a word I 

Crab. Not of his being dangerously wounded ? 

Sir Oliv. The devil he is ! 

Sir Benj. Run through the body 

Crab. Shot in the breast 

Sir Benj. By one Mr. Surface 

Crab. Ay, the younger. 

Sir Oliv. Hey ! what the plague ! you seem to differ strangely 
in your accounts : however, you agree that Sir Peter is dangerously 

Sir Benj. Oh, yes, we agree in that. 

Crab. Yes, yes, I believe there can be no doubt of that. 

Sir Oliv. Then, upon my word, for a person in that situation, 
he is thi: most imprudent man alive ; for here he comes, walking 
;iB if nothing at all was 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! 


A COMEDY. 301 

Sir Ben j, [Aside to Crabtree.] Egad, uncle, this is the most 
sudden recovery! 

Sir Oliv, Why, man ! what do you out of bed with a small- 
sword through your body, and a bullet lodged in your thorax ? 

Sir Peter, A small-sword and a bullet ! 

Sir Oliv, Ay ; these gentlemen would have killed you without 
law or physic, and wanted to dub me a doctor, to make me an 

Sir Peter, Why, what is all this ? 

Sir Bcnj, We rejoice, Sir Peter, that the story of the duel is 
not tnie, and are sincerely sorry for your other misfortune. 

Sir Peter, So, so ; all over the town already ! {Aside, 

Crab. Though, Sir Peter, you were certainly vastly to blame to 
marry at your years. 

Sir Peter. Sir, what business is that of yours } 

Mrs. Can. Though, indeed, as Sir Peter made so good a husband, 
he 's very much to be pitied. 

Sir Peter. Plague on your pity, ma'am ! I desire none of it. 

Sir Benj. However, Sir Peter, you must not mind the laughing 
and jests you will meet with on the occasion. 

Sir Peter. Sir, sir ! I desire to be master in my own house. 

Crab. 'Tis no uncommon case, that's one comfort. 

Sir Peter, I insist on being left to myself : without ceremony, — 
I insist on your leaving my house directly ! 

Mrs. Can, Well, well, we are going ; and depend on 't, wc *11 make 
the best report of it we can. \Exit, 

Sir Peter, Leave my house ! 

Crab. And tell how hardly you \-e been treated. \Exit, 

Sir Peter, Leave my house. 

Sir Benj. And how patiently you bear it. \ExiL 

jca nnr saKsg. /or scaxpae^ 

S^Ptt^. FvW*! «^nr Cviol Obi t&t iWir « 
•twLd chofcc ihoi r 

.Scf <?S9. Thn are •cry prnMUog^ adeed. Sr Feier. 

SUPtttr. niiv < vtat f^cwic* uki^ * Do I ever 
■IrtiHfj irnliiiMi' 

J^ra-- Wefi, I 'b not tnfiKRlnc- 

Sir Olrs. WcO, Sir Peter, I b»e seen both oijr oepbewfl in Uie 
MJMiKT we pcofxnetf. 

Sir Ptur, A p iegwc coopic tbor ire ! 

^#v. Vo, aod Sir Oliver is v mt iB ctA tlul your Judgment wai 
^ r%b[. Sir Peter ■ 

Sir Ottv. Ve«, [ Eod Joaepb is indeed the ma, after alL S 

AV:.- A>, --^ >:r F\-;iT ■--■ ', 'r-.-. '-• :-. r-nr. -"t senlimenL 

Sir Oliv. And acts up to the sentiments he professes. 

Rou.: It certainiy is edification to hear him talk. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, he 's a model for the young men of the age. — But 
how's this, Sir Peter? you tion't join us in your friend Joseph's 
praise, as I expected. 

Sir Ptter. Sir Oliver, we live in a damned wicked world, and the 
fewer vvc praise the better. 

Rir.u. What 1 do you say sn, Sir Peter, who were never mistaken 

,S» Pclfr. Pshaw I plague on ynu both ! I see by your sneering 
yfiu have hc.ini the whule aff.Lir. I shall go mad among you ! 

AVjc. Then, to fict yiii no longer, Sir Peter, we are indeed ac- 
quainted with it ali. I met l.ady Teazle coming from Mr. Surface's 
HO himibk', tliat i>he deigned lo request mc to be her advocate with 

^ r\ 

A COMEDY, 303 

Sir Peter. And does Sir Oliver know all this ? 

Sir Oliv. Every circumstance. 

Sir Peter. What of the closet and the screen, hey ? 

Sir Oliv, Yes, yes, and the little French milliner. Oh, I have 
been vastly diverted with the story ! ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Sir Peter *T was very pleasant. 

Sir Oliv. I never laughed more in my life, I assure you ; ah ! ah ! 

Sir Peter. Oh, vastly diverting ! ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Row. To be sure, Joseph with his sentiments ! ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Sir Peter. Yes, yes, his sentiments ! ha ! ha ! ha ! Hypocritical 
villain ! 

Sir Oliv. Ay, and that rogue Charles to pull Sir Peter out of the 
closet ! ha ! ha ! ha ! 

Sir Peter. Ha ! ha ! 't was devilish entertaining, to be sure ! 

Sir Oliv. Ha ! ha ! ha ! Egad, Sir Peter, I should like to have 
seen your face when the screen was thrown down ! ha ! ha ! 

Sir Peter. Yes, yes, my face when the screen was thrown down : 
ha ! ha ! ha! Oh, I must never show my head again ! 

Sir Oliv. 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. Oh, pray don't restrain your mirth 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. Oh, yes, and then of a morning to read the para- 
graphs about Mr. S , Lady T , and Sir P , will be so 

entertaining ! 

Row. Without affectation. Sir Peter, you may 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. 


Sir Oliv, Perhaps my being here prevents her coming to you. 
Well, I '11 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 hypocrisy. 

Sir Peter. Ah, I '11 be present at your discovering yourself there 
with all my heart ; though *t is a vile unlucky place for discoveries. 

Roiv. We '11 follow. {Exit Sir Oliver Surface. 

Sir Peter. She is not coming here, you see, Rowley. 

Row. No, but she has left the door of that room open, you per- 
ceive. See, she is in tears. 

Sir Peter. Certainly, a little mortification appears very becoming 
in a wife. Don't you think it will do her good to let her pine a 
little } 

Row. Oh, this is ungenerous in you ! 

Sir Peter. Well, I know not what to think. You remember the 
letter I found of hers evidently intended for Charles } 

Rozv. A mere forgery, Sir Peter ! laid in your way on purpose. 
This is one of the points which I intend Snake shall give you con- 
viction of. 

Sir Peter I wish I were once satisfied of that. She looks this 
way. What a remarkably elegant turn of the head she has. Rowley, 
I '11 go to her. 

Row. Certainly. 

Sir Peter. Though, when it is known that we are reconciled, 
people will laugh at me ten times more. 

Rozv. Let them laugh, and retort their malice only by showing 
them you are happy in spite of it. 

Sir Peter. V faith, so I will ! and, if I 'm not mistaken, we may 
yet be the happiest couple in the country. 

Row. Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside suspicion 

A COMEDY. 30s 

Sir Peter, Hold, Master Rowley ! if you have any regard for me, 
never let me hear you utter anything like a sentiment : I have had 
enough of them 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 immediately be 
reconciled to Charles, and of course no longer oppose his union with 
Maria } The thought is distraction to me. 

Jos. Surf. Can passion furnish a remedy } 

Lady Sneer. No, nor cunning either. Oh, I was a fool, an idiot, 
to league with such a blunderer! 

Jos. Surf. Sure, Lady Sneerwell, I am the greatest sufferer ; yet 
you see I bear the accident with calmness. 

Lady Sneer. Because the disappointment doesn'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 hypocrisy could prevent your showing the sharpness of your 

Jos. Surf But why should your reproaches fall on me for this 
disappointment } 

Lady Sneer. Are you not the cause of it 1 Had you not a 
sufficient field for your roguery in imposing upon Sir Peter, and 
supplanting your brother, but you must endeavor to seduce his wife 1 
I hate such an avarice of crimes ; 't is an unfair monopoly, and 
never prospers. 

Jos. Surf Well, I admit I have been to blame. I confess I de- 


viated from the direct road of wrong, but I don't think we 're so 
totally defeated neither. 

Lady Sneer. No ! 

Jos. Surf. You tell me you have made a trial of Snake since we 
met, and that you still believe him faithful to us ? 

Lady Sneer. I do believe so. 

Jos. Surf. And that he has undertaken, should it be necessary, 
to swear and prove that Charles is at this time contracted by vows 
and honor to your ladyship, which some of his former letters to you 
will serve to support } 

Lady Sneer. This, indeed, might have assisted. 

Jos. Surf. 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 *11 consult farther when he is gone. 

Lady Sneer. Well, but if /le should find you out too ? 

Jos. Surf. 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 side ! 

Lady Sneer. I have no diffidence of your abilities : only be con- 
stant to one roguery at a time. 

Jos. Surf I will, I will! — [Exit Lady Sneerwell.] So! 'tis 
confounded hard, after such bad fortune, to be baited by one's con- 
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 — and 

Lnter 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. 

A COMEDY, 307 

Sir Oliv, Sir, I hear your uncle Oliver is expected here, and 
though he has been so penurious to you, I *11 try what he '11 do for me. 

Jos, Surf, Sir, 't is impossible for you to stay now, so I must 

beg come any other time, and I promise you you shall be 


Sir Oliv, No : Sir Oliver and I must be acquainted. 

Jos, Surf. Zounds, sir! then I insist on your quitting the room 

Sir Oliv, Nay, sir 

Jos, Surf, Sir, I insist on *t ! — Here, William ! show this gentle- 
man out. Since you compel me, sir, not one moment — this is such 
insolence. {Going to push him out. 

Enter Charles Surface. 

Chas, Surf, Heyday ! what *s the matter now } What the devil, 
have you got hold of my little broker here } Zounds, brother, don't 
hurt little Premium. What 's the matter, my little fellow.^ 

Jos, Surf So ! he has been with you too, has he ? 

Chas. Surf To be sure, he has. Why, he 's as honest a little 

But sure, Joseph, you have not been borrowing money too, have 

Jos, Surf Borrowing ! no ! But, brother, you know we expect 
Sir Oliver here every 

Chas. Surf, O Gad, that *s true ! Noll must n*t find the little 
broker here, to be sure. 

Jos. Surf, Yet Mr. Stanley insists 

Chas. Surf, Stanley ! why his name 's Premium. 

Jos. Surf No, sir, Stanley. 

Chas, Surf No, no. Premium. 

Jos. Surf Well, no matter which — but 

Chas, Surf, 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, 

Jos, Surf, 'Sdeath! here's Sir Oliver at the door. — Now I beg, 

Mr. Stanley 

Chas. Surf, Ay, ay, and I beg Mr. Premium 

Sir Oliv. Gentlemen 

Jos, Surf, Sir, by Heaven you shall go ! 
Chas, Surf, Ay, out with him, certainly ! 

Sir Oliv. This violence 

Jos, Surf, Sir, 't is your own fault. 
Chas, Surf, Out with him, to be sure. 

[Both forcing Sir Oliver out. 

Enter Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, Maria and Rowley. 

Sir Peter, My old friend, Sir Oliver — hey! What in the name 
of wonder — here are dutiful nephews — assault their uncle at a first 
visit ! 

Lady Teas, Indeed, Sir Oliver, 't was well we came in to rescue 

Row, Truly it was ; for I perceive, Sir Oliver, the character of 
old Stanley was no protection to you. 

Sir Oliv, Nor of Premium either : the necessities of the former 
could not extort a shilling from that benevolent gentleman ; and with 
the other I stood a chance of faring worse than my ancestors, and 
being knocked down without being bid for. 

Jos. Surf Charles ! 

C/ias, Surf, Joseph ! 

Jos, Surf 'T is now complete ! 

Chas, Surf Very. 

Sir Oliv, Sir Peter, my friend, and Rowley too — look on that 
elder nephew of mine. You know what he has already received 

A COMEDY. 309 

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 of truth, 
charity, and gratitude ! 

Sir Peter. Sir Oliver, I should be more surprised at this declara- 
tion, if I had not myself found him to be mean, treacherous, and 

Lady Teas. And if the gentleman pleads not guilty to these, 
pray let him call lue to his character. 

Sir Peter, 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. 

C/ias Surf. If they talk this way to Honesty, what will they say 
to me, by and by t . [Aside. 

[Sir Peter, Lady Teazle a;ui Maria retire. 

Sir Oliv. As for that prodigal, his brother there 

Chas. Surf. Ay, now comes my turn : the damned family pictures 
will ruin me ! \Aside. 

Jos. Surf. Sir Oliver — uncle, will you honor me with a 
hearing } 

Chas. Surf Now, if Joseph would make one of his long speeches, 
I might recollect myself a little. [Aside. 

Sir Oliv. I suppose you v;ould undertake to justify yourself en- 
tirely.^ [To Joseph Surface. 

Jos. Surf I trust I could. 

Sir Oliv. [To Charles Surface.] Well, sir! — and you could 
justify yourself too, I suppose ? 

C/ias. Surf Not that I know of. Sir Oliver. 

Sir Oliv. What ! — Little Premium has been let too much into 
the secret, I suppose ? 

IB nrz svooL n» scakdai. 

<*" S^ Ttoei St; h* Atj wcKfmOr Kcnu, and slu 

Ktm. Cm« St QlifB, I kao» nu cuoM sjieik of Charles's 


Otfs bent, aa man I can ; nor with gravity eilhcr. 
— So FliSer,4o v««fcB»« i^ ncae tai^aincd wiih me for all his 
aBceijt<an; mU ne j«4scs and ecoenls b;- the loot, and maiden 
XQBtS S> CStCip 31 bfOCStt ctMn. 

C3m: -Sw/! To be sore. Sit Olit-cr, I did nuke a little free with 
Ac baOr cums, that '% ibe tniU) ob 'l My ancestors may rise 
ta jndginait agxiaat tnc, there *s no dont-ing it ; but believe me 
uncerc vrbca I ti^ yoa — and upon my soul I would not say so 
if I vas not — Ikxt if I do not appcMX mortified at the exposure 
cf my fotlicss it is tiocauw I feel ai this moment the warmest sat- 
iaiaciii'n in socirii; y.>ii, r-;y liboral benefactor. 

S:r O.'ii: Ch.irlcji. I bilicvc you. Give me your hand again: 
the ill-k>okin^ little leuow over the settee has made your peace. 

C/:,is. Surf. Then, sir, my sralitude to the original is still in- 

L,i,/j- T,-n=. {AJ:;v:n>!g.] Vet, I believe. Sir Oliver, here is one 
who:!! Charles is still more an.\ious to be reconciled to. 

{Pointing to Maria. 

Sir OH-.: Oh, I have liear.i nf his attachment there; and, with 
the young lady's pardon, if I construe right— that blush 

Sir Ptiti: WlII, child, speak your sentiments ! 

Mar. Sir, I have little to say, but that I shall rejoice to hear 
that ho is happy; for nic, ^wha ever claim I had to his affection, 
I willingly resign to one who has a better title. 

Chas. Surf. How, Maria ! 

Sir Peter. Heyday! what's ihc mystery now.' — While he ap- 

_ r^ 

A COMEDY. 311 

peared an incorrigible rake, you would give your hand to no one 
else; and ilow that he is likely to reform 1*11 warrant you won't 
have him ! 

Mar. His own heart and Lady Sneerwell know the cause. 

Chas, Surf, Lady Sneerwell ! 

Jos. Surf. Brother, it is with great concern I am obliged to 

speak on this pdint, but my regard to justice compels me, and 

Lady Sneerwell's injuries can no longer be concealed. 

[Opens the door. 
Enter Lady Sneerwell. 

Sir Peter. So ! another French milliner ! Egad, he has one in 
every room in the house, I suppose ! 

Lady Sneer. Ungrateful Charles ! Well may you be surprised, 
and feel for the indelicate situation your perfidy has forced me 

Chas. Surf Pray, uncle, is this another plot of yours t For, as 
I have life, I don't understand it. 

Jos. Surf. I believe, sir, there is but the evidence of one person 
more necessary to make it extremely clear. 

Sir Peter. And that person, I imagine, is Mr. Snake. — Rowley, 
you were perfectly right to bring him with us, and pray let him 

Row. 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 last ! Speak, 
fellow, have you, too, conspired against me? 

Snake. I beg your ladyship ten thousand pardons : you paid 


ne aDcmdj Ubenll/ for the tie in qiMstioa ; but I tufoTlniiBtdy 
fasre been offered doable to speak the inith. 

Sir PtUr. noc aad oouaicr-plol, egadl I wish ymtr ladyship 
yri at yimr negotutkiiL 

LsJf Smacr. Tbe tOfmcots oC shame md diuppotntmeot on 

ZW^ Ttiaz. Hold, Ladj Soecrwel] — befon; you go, let mc thank 
joa for the triable yoa and that gentleman have taken, in writing 
letlcn from mc la Charles, and answering them yourself ; and let 
me also teiiacst yo3 to malkC iny respect* to the scandalous college 
uf which you ore president, and inform them that Lady Teu^c, 
licentiate, begs leave to return the diploma they gmnted her, as 
L 4ihc leaves uff practice, and kills characters no longer. 
^ Laify Snerr. Vou too, madam ! — provoking — insolent ! Mav 

your husband live these fifty years! [£r»/. 

Sir Piter. Oons ! what a fury! 

Lady Tcaz. A malicious creature, indeed 1 

Sir Piicr. Hey ! not for her last wish ? 

Lady Tea::. Oh, no! 

Sir Ohi: Wl-H, sir, and what have you to say now? 

Jos. Surf. 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 to [Exit. 

Sir Pclcr. Moral to the last drop ! 

Sir Oliv. Ay, and marry her, Joseph, if you can. Oil and Vinegar! 
— egad, you'll do very well together. 

Row. I believe wc have no more occasion for Mr. Snake at 
present ? 

A COAfEDV. 313 

Snaie. Before I go, I beg pardon once for all, for whatever 
uneasiness I have been the humble instrument of causing to the 
parties present. 

Sir Peter. 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 

Sir Peter. Hey ! — what the plague ! — arc you ashamed of hav- 
ing done a right thing once in your life ? 

Sfiake. Ah, sir, consider — I live by the badness of my character ; 
I have nothing but my infamy to 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 Oliv, Well, well — we '11 not traduce you by saying anything 
in your praise, never fear. {Exit Snake. 

Sir Peter. There *s a precious rogue ! 

Lady Teas, Sec, Sir Oliver, there needs no persuasion now to 
reconcile your nephew and Maria. 

Sir Oliv, Ay, ay, that 's as it should be, antl, egad, we* II have 
the wedding to-morrow morning. 

C/ias. Surf. Thank you, dear uncle. 

Sir Peter. What, you rogue ! don't you ask the girVs consent first ? 

C/ias. Surf. Oh. I have done that a loner time — a minute aero — 
and she has looked yes. 

Mar. For shame, Charles ! — I protest, Sir Peter, there has not 
been a word 

Sir Oliv. Well, then, the fewer the better ; may your love for 
each other never know abatement. 

Sir Peter. And may you live as happily together as Lady Teazle 
and I intend to do! 


Chas. Surf. Rowley, roy old friend, I am sure you congralulate 
me; and I suspect that I owe you much. 

Sir Otiv. You do, indeed, Charles 

^<rii*. If my efforts to scr%-e you bad not succeeded, you would 
have been in my debt fur the attempt ; but dcscr\*c to be happy 
and you oveqiay me. 

Sir Piter. Ay, honest Rowley always said you would reform. 

Ckas. Surf. Why, as to reforming. Sir Peter, I '11 make no pro- 
mises, 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 1 can 
\ leave the virtuous path those eyes illumine ? 

Tbongh thou, dear imU, »ttouU*t waive tbr beauty'* (waj, 
Thou ktlll mtitt ral«i becauw I will obcj' : 
An bumble fugitive fram Follj view. 

No iiiKtuarv ni-nr but Love nnd vou : ( To lit anttifutf. 


IS fear r< 

^ r^ 



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 
Of crying epilogues and laughing plays ! 
Old bachelors, who marry smart young vyives. 
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 honor. 
Plunged fairly in, like a cold bath it serves, 
When principles relax, to brace the nerves : 
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. 
Born with a genius for the highest life. 
Like me untimely blasted in her bloom. 
Like me condemned to such a dismal doom } 
Save money — when I just knew how to waste it ! 
Leave London — just as I began to taste it ! 
Must I then watch the early crowing cock, 
The melancholy ticking of a clock ; 



]n a lone rustic hall for cvvr pounded, 
With dogs, cits, rats, and squalling brats surrounded? 
With humble curate can I now retire, 
(While pood Sir Peter boozes with the squire,) 
And at luck^mmon mortify my soul, 
Tbal jiants for loo, or flutters at a vole? 
Sc%'cn 's the main ! Dear sound that must expire. 
Lost at hot cockles round a Christmas fire ; 
The transient hour of fashion too soon spent. 
Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content I 
Farewell the [>lumid head, the cushion'd I4tc. 
That takes the cushion from its pmpcr seat 1 
That spirit-stirring drum I — card drums I mean, 
Sp.idi!lc — odd trick — pam — basto — king and queen ! 
Aii.i you, yc knockers, that, with brazen throat, 
riu' welcome visitors' approach denote; 
I'.uowoU :dl qimlity of high renown, 
IVido, pomp, and circumstance of glorious town! 
l\uvwcll ! your revels I partake no more, 
And L.iily Teazle's occupation 's o'er! 
All tills I tiild our baid ; he smiled, and said 'twas clear, 
I i'U;Jii In [il.iv deep tragedy next year.\liiU- ho dicw wise morals from his play, 
Aiiil ill ilu'-o Milcmn periods stalk'd away ; — 
■' |t^■^^M «,■!>■ ilic t",iir like you ; her faults who stopp'd 
\\\'\ .1>>-,\I ihi- Killios when the curtain dropp'd ! 
\i' iii.iu- ill \ivc or error to engage, 
Oi pl.iv ttu- loi'l at large on life's great stage." 

^ '^ -^ 


N OT E S. 


Portrait of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, by John Russell, R. A. 

This portrait, drawn in crayons in 1788, — the year of the great speech 
against Warren Hastings, — is in the National Portrait Gallery at South 
Kensington, and is here reproduced by the kind permission of George 
Scharf, Esq., F. S. A., the keeper of that collection. So far as known, 
it has not been engraved hitherto. The familiar portrait by Sir Joshua 
Reynolds was painted in 1789, and is now in the possession of Lord 
Kennaird, of Rossie Priory. Mr. Richard Brinsley Sheridan of Frampton 
Court, Dorchester, has a finely finished portrait of his grandfather, done 
in pencil by Wright of Derby. 


Faded ideas float in the fancy like half-forgotten dreams; and the imagination in its fullest 
enjoyments becomes suspicious of its offspring, and doubts whether it has created or adopted. 

This passage was quoted by Burgoyne, in the preface of the * Heiress.* 
The same thought is to be found also in the 'Autocrat of the Breakfast 
Table,* where Dr. Holmes says, "I never wrote a line of verse that 
seemed to me comparatively good, but it appeared old at once, and 
often as if it had been borrowed." A little earlier in the same chapter, 
the Autocrat had declared the law which governs in such cases : " When 
a person of fair character for literary honesty uses an image such as 
another has employed before him, the presumption is that he has struck 
upon it independently, or unconsciously recalled it, supposing it his 



9 14 Sir L^ami iTTrigjrr- 

Id bis 'Retrospections of the St^c' John Bernard, «bo was present 
at ibe unfaitunale fir%l petfofoiancc of the ' Kit'al^' has decUred tlut 
Ibe audience was indii!creni to &V tttdrnt, as acted br Lee. When 
the play wm revised. Clinch look the part UTiy any one should ob- 
ject to Sir iMdut. it b now difficalt to discorct. .Sji>- Limts U, one oc 
the best of stagc-lrisfamen, and he b cniphaitcally an Irish genilcniui. 

ScenTE I. 

TlMn. — Bst pnr, Ur. Pag, what kind of a iiIm> t) flU* Datfar 

It b not easy no-*/ to undersiand fully the extraOTdin:in- biillianc}- of 
Bath after Beau Nash had organized society there. The manners and 
cnstoms <if Bath, as they were a very few j-ears before the dale of tile 
'Rivals.' may be seen in Ansley's *Xcw Bath Cuide.' (irst piiblished in 
1766; and Ansity's lively verses prove that the town offered unusual 


; tc 

) the social saiiri 

St aud 

the cc 

mic dramatist. 

in -H 


phrey C'lii 


r; Smp!Icil has : 

left us 

an eU 

iborale de 


■n of 


place and 


people to be me 

I iliere. 


e's corned' 

i-. the 



Bath,' was 


dramatic selling 

of the 


itic story 

of Mii 

is Lin 







ould not 

t The Km 

I «/ f-n 

Miss Lydia Languish seems to have had a Catholic taste in fiction. 
Mosl of the books she sought were novelties: the 'Mistakes of the 
Heart' and the 'Tears of Sensibility' ivere translations from the French, 
published in 1773. The "Delicate Distress' and the 'Gordian Knot' 
had been published together in four volumes in the same year. The 
'Nfemoirs of a Lady of Quality' (i.e.. Lady Vane) were included in 
Smollett's 'Peregrine Pickle,' published first in 1751. His 'Humphrey 
Clinker' did not appear till 1771. The 'Sentimental Journey' had 
been originally published in 1768, in two volumes. 

L^iiia Here, my deai Lucy, hide these txioka. 

Miss Languish was evidently fond of Smollett. After 'Peregrine 
Pickle,' with its ' Memoirs of a Lady of Quality," and after ' Hum- 

NOTES. 321 

phrey Clinker,' conies Roderick Random/ published in 1748. The 
'Innocent Adultery' was the second title of Southerners tragedy, the 
'Fatal Marriage,' revived as * Isabella; or, the FaUl Marriage,' for 
Mrs. Siddons, after Sheridan became the manager of Drury Lane 
theatre. A century ago English plays were read as French plays are 
still. Henry Mackenzie's 'Man of Feeling' had first appeared in 
1771. Mrs. Chapone's 'Letters on the Improvement of the Mind,' 
addressed to her niece, had been published in 1773 in two volumes; 
and Lord Chesterfield's 'Letters,' written in 1768, had not been given 
to the world until 1774. From notes found by Moore, we know that 
Sheridan had begun to draft a criticism of Lord Chesterfield's pre- 
cepts just before he sat down resolutely to the writing of this play. 

Mrs, MaL — 'Tis safest in matrimony to b^in with a little aversion. 

With a readiness recalling Sheridan's own promptness in repartee, 
George Canning quoted this assertion of Mrs, Maiaprop's^ in a speech 
delivered in the House of Commons in 1825. 

Sir Anthony. — Well, I must leave you. 

The traditional business of Sir Anthonfs departure requires him to 
bow and gain the door, and then to return to say the next clause as 
though it has just occurred to him. This leave-taking, protracted by 
Mrs, Malapropos elaborate courtseys, is repeated two or three times 
before Sir Anthony finally takes himself off. 

Lucy. — And a black paduasoy. 

Paduasoy was a particular kind of silk stuff, deriving its name 
from the Italian town Padua, and the French word soie^ silk. 


Scene L 

Pag, — I beg pardon, sir — I beg pardon — but, with submission, a he is nothing unless one 
supports it. Sir, whenever I draw on my invention for a good current lie, I always forge 
indorsements as well as the bill. 

This use of mercantile technicalities was not uncommon with 
Sheridan ; and Fa^s idioms may be compared with Sir Peter Teazle's 
declaration ('School for Scandal,' Act II., Scene II.) that he "would 
have law merchant," for those who report what they hear, so that, 



■ dt the tie 

"in all cases of slander currency, whene'er the drawer 

wft5 not to be found, the injured parties should have a right to 

come on any of thu indorsers." 

KntM Fai/ilanJ. 

Faulkland is the name of two prominent characters, a father and 
a son, in the 'Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph,' tlie noviO written 
by Mrs. Frances Slieiidan; but neither of tlicni in any way resembles 
this Fauikiand of her son's. 

M'rei. — Uj h«lr tun been In training <otne Umt 
Here Atra reinot-cs his cap. and shows his siilc-curls in papers. 
After his next speech, he turns his back to the audience to show 
his back-hair claboraicly dressed. ^H 

Airt] — Dimns luve hiul Ihdi day. ^^H 

In his 'Hislor>' of tlie KngJish Stage'(v. 461,) the Rev. Mr. Geneste 
quotes an epigram of Sir John Harrington's, quite pertinent here: — 

I.a9t hiving sworn away all failii and Iroiti. 
Only Gbd damn them is Itipir commim oatl.. 
Thus custom kept decorum by Rradilion, 
Thai losing miss, cioss, faith, they find damnation. 

Sir /lal'iaay. — Wli^Cs Ihal to you, sir? 

The alleged likeness of St'r Aiil/umy to Smolletl's Malthao Bramble 
is very slight indeed. Sheridan's treatment of Sir Anfhonv in this scene 
and in the contrasting scene in llie next act is exquisite comedy. In 
these two scenes is 10 be fontid the finest writing in the play. 'I'he present 
scene niav be cnnipared with one somewhat similar between Mrs. Li'ind 
and Misi Linnet in tht^ first act of Footc's ■ Maid of E.ith.' 



after the ' Riv 

I popnlar and fashionable exhibition of natural 
fs. Tiiere are many allnsions to it in contem- 
r.veliiia,' for instance, ]iLiliIished in 1778, three 
' Mils written, Mibs Hurney takes her heroine 

^ r^K 

NOTES, 323 

to Cox*s Museum and describes some of the many marvels it must have 


Scene II. 

Pag. — We will — we will. [Exeuiit sevsrally.] 

The traditional business here is for Fag to parody the exit of Sir 
Lucius just before, calling Lucy^ kissing her, saying, " I 41 quiet your 
conscience," and then making his exit, humming the tune he has just 
caught from Sir Lucius. 

Scene III. 

Mrs. Mai. — Oh, it gives me the hydrostatics to such a degree ! I thought she had per- 
sisted from corresponding with him ; but, bshold ! this very day, I have interceded another letter 
from the fellow. I believe I have it in my pocket. 

Tradition authorizes Mrs, Malaprop first to take from her pocket 

the letter of Sir Lucius^ and then discovering her mistake to produce 

with much difficulty and in great confusion the letter which Capt, Abso- 
lute recognizes at once. 

Lydia. — O Heavens f Beverley I 

Lydia Languish has been called a second edition of Colman*s Polly 
Honeycombc; but the charge has only the slightest foundation. It would 
have been more difficult to evolve Lydia from Polly than to have made 
her out of nothing. If a prototype must be found for Lydia, it had 
better be sought in the Niece in Steele's 'Tender Husband.* In 
Steele's play, the relations of the Aunt and the Niece are not unlike 
those of Mrs. Malaprop and Lydia; and we are told that the Niece 
"has spent all her solitude in reading romances, her head is full of 
shepherds, knights, flowery meads, groves, and streams (Act I., Scene 
I.). And she anticipates Lydia in thinking that "it looks so ordinary, 
to go out at a door to be married. Indeed I ought to be taken out 
of a window, and run away with " (Act IV., Scene I.). It may l>e noted, 
also, that the lover of Steele's airy heroine visits her in disguise and 
makes love to her before the face of the Aunt. 

Scene IV. 

Acres {practising a dancing stef>.) — These outlandish heathen allemandes and cotillons are 
quite beyond me. I shall never prosper at 'cm. that 's sure. Mine are true-born English 
They don't understand their cuist French linjq;o. 

In his * History of the English Stage/ Geneste recalls a parallel passage 
in the ' Wasps, ' of Aristophanes, where the old man, on being desired 



to put on a pair of Liccdeinontai 

by u)ing tlut ooc of hU toes 


boots, entlcavon to excuse hiitodf"* 
is a sworn enemy to the Lacedcmc- 

Aatt. ~ TiaX *> his Chj] I9 ball. 

In the wriliftg oJ the challenge most actors of Acres indulge in 
"gag*" beyond ibc bounds of all decency, ai>d untU comedy sinks inio 
downing. Mr Joseph Jeffenon refuses to make the judicious grieve 
by saying, "to pnrvcni ibe confusion that might arise from otir boiii 
undrtuiitg the santc lady," and other vulgarities of that sort, retaining, 
however, tlie iubtler ycfX of Aerts't pause and hesiiation when lie 
comes to the »-onl "company." of his significant whisper in \\^t ear of 
Sir Luaut, and ol Sir iMcittt'i prompt soimion of tlie orthographical 
inoblcDi, — " With a c, of course I " 

Scene II. 

Mrs. .l/fl/fl/™/. — Cumpiriion* don'l become 1 jouiie woman. 

Here Afis. Malaprop comes very near to Dogki-ry's "comparisons 
are odorous" ('Much Ado About Koihing.' Act III., Scene V.). Per- 
haps the earliest use of the phrase^ is in 'The Posies of George 
Cascoigne' (1575)1 *here we find, "Since all comparisons are odious." 

Faum<ind. — ]>i\i3. 


oved you to the quick t 

Moore considers that this scene was suggested by Prior's ballad of 
ihe 'Nut-brown Maid,' and so indeed it may have been, although 
Prior's situation is very different from Sheridan's, In the ' Nut-broHti 
Maid,' Ihe high-born lover conceals his rank, approaches his mistress 
in various disguises, and at last tests her love by a tale of murder, 
like Fatilklands. She stands the the test like Julia. Then the lover 
cnnfesses (he trick and reveals his rank, whereat the maid is joyful. 
The point of Sheridan's more dramatic sittiatinn is in the recoil of Fanlk- 
land's distrustful ingenuity on his own head, and the rejection of his 
suit by Julia, so soon as he declares his fraud. 

NOTES, 325 

Lydia. — How often have I stole forth, in the coldest night in January, and found him in the 
garden, stuck like a dripping statue. 

In his notes to his own translation of Horace, Sir Theodore Martin 
draws attention to the likeness of this speech of Lydia^s to the lines in 
the Tenth Ode of the Third Book, in which Horace adjures a certain 
Lycfe to take pity on him. 

You would pity, sweet Lycfe, the poor soul that shivers 
Out here at your door in the merciless blast. 

Only hark how the doorway goes straining and creaking, 

And the piercing wind pipes through the trees that surround 
The court of your villa, while black frost b streaking 

With ice the crisp snow that lies thick on the ground I 
« • « • 

Yet be not as cruel — forgive my upbraiding — 

As snakes, nor as hard as the toughest of oak ; 
Think, to stand out here, drenched to the skin, serenading 

All night may in time prove too much of a joke. 

Scene II. 

Absolute. — Really, sir, you have the advantage of me. 

Captain Absolute is the son of a long line of light and lively heroes 
of comedy, and the father of a line almost as long. Foremost among 
his ancestors is the inventive protagonist of Foote's * Liar,* and foremost 
among his progeny is the even more slippery young man in Mr. Bouci- 
cault*s * London Assurance,* who ventures to deny his father in much 
the same fashion as Capt. Absolute, 

Scene III. 

Acres. — By my valour ! 

By a hundred devious ways. Bob Acres traces his descent from that 
other humorous coward, Sir Andrew Aguecheek ; and the duels into 
which both gentlemen enter valiantly are not without a certain highly 
comic resemblance. 

Sir Lucius. — I'm told there is very snug lying in the Abbey. 

This reference is, of course, to the Abbey church, at Bath, in which 
Sarah Fielding, the sister of the novelist, is buried. 



Scene L 

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

In the original draft of this scene, now in the possession of Mr. 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan of Frampton Court, Dorchester, where he 
kindly permitted me to examine it, the person with whom Lady Sneer- 
well is conversing is a Miss Verjuice^ and it is only later in the scene, 
after the entrance of Joseph Surface^ that we find a reference to " Snake, 
the Scribbler." In revising the scene, Sheridan found that one charac- 
ter might suffice for the minor dirty work of the plot ; and to this 
character he gave the dialogue of Miss Verjuice and the name of 
Snake, The name Sneerwcll is to be found in Fielding's * Pasquin.' 

Servant. — Mr. Surface. 

In *A Journey to Bath,* an unacted and unprinted comedy by Mrs. 
Frances Sheridan, three acts of which are preserved in the British 
Museum (MS. 25, 975), there is a Mrs, Surface^, "one who keeps a 
lodging-house at Bath.'* She is no relation to either of the Surfaces 
in the * School for Scandal ; * yet it may be worth noting that she is a 
scandal-monger who hates scandal. 

Scene II. 

Rotvley. — Oh, Sir Peter, your servant! 

Rowley is one of the many faithful stewards, frequent in comedy. 
Perhaps the first of them was Trusty in Steele's 'Funeral.' 

ACT n. 
Scene I. 

Sir Peter. — And three powdered footmen before your chair. 

In 1777, when Sheridan wrote, only people of the highest position 
and fashion made their footmen powder their hair; so Sir Peter is here 
reproaching Lady Teazle with her exalted ambitions. 

NOTES. 327 

Sir Peter, — You wer^ content to ride double, beliiud the butler on a docked coach-horse. 

Professor Ward in his * History of English Dramatic Literature/ draws 
attention to a parallel passage in Fletcher's * Noble Gentleman' (Act II., 
Scene I.), in which Marine threatens to take his fashionable wife home 
again : -^ 

Make you ready straight, 
And in that gown which you first came to town in, 
Your safe-cloak, and your hood suitable, 
Thus on a double gelding shall you amble. 
And my man Jaques shall be set before you. 

Sir Peter, — Hy — there again — taste! Zounds! madam, you had no taste when you married me! 

It seems as though Mr. John G. Saxe may have remembered this 
speech of Sir Peters when he wrote his epigraip, *Too Candid by 
Half:* — 

As Tom and his wife were discoursing one day 
Of their several faults, in a bantering way, 

Said she: * Though my wit you disparage, 
I *m sure, my dear husband, our friends will attest 
This much, at the least, that my judgment is best.' 

Quoth Tom : * So they said at our marriage 1 ' 

Scene II. 

Sir Benjamin Backbite : — 

"Sure never were seen two such beautiful ponies! 
Other horses are clowns, but these niacaruni(^. 
To give them this title I'm sure can't ba wrong, 
Their legs are so slim, and their tails are so long. 

The reading of this epigram by Sir Benjamin Backbite is perhaps 
another of Sheridan's reminiscences of Molifere ; at least there is a situa- 
tion not unlike it in the ' Pr^cieuses Ridicules,' in the * Femmes 
Savantes,* and in the * Misanthrope.* In the final quarter of the 
eighteenth century, there arose a species of dandy called the macaroni, 
much as in the final quarter of the nineteenth century there has arisen 
a variety called the dude. 

"The Italians are extremely fond of a dish they call macaroni, com- 
posed of a kind of paste ; and, as they consider this the summum 
bonum of all good eating, so they figuratively call everything they think 
elegant and uncommon macaroni. Our young travellers, who generally 
catch the follies of the countries they visit, judged that the title of 
macaroni was applicable to a clever fc!lo7v ; and, accordingly, to distin- 
guish themselves as such, they instituted a club under this denomination, 


the members of which were supposed to be the standards of taste^ 
They make a most ridiculous figure, with hats of an inch in the brim, 
that do not cover, but lie upon, the head ; with about two pounds of 
fictitious hair, formed into what is called a club^ hanging down their 
shoulders, as white as a baker's sack" (* Pocket-book,* 1773, quoted 
in Mr. T. L. O. Davies's * Supplementary Glossar}'*). The name of 
the macaroni is also preserved in the first stanza of our * Yankee Doodle,* 
which is almost contemporaneous with Sheridan's play. 

Sir Peter. — A character dead at every word, I suppose? 

Moore noted the resemblance of this aside to Pope's line, in the 
'Rape of the Lock*: — 

At every word, a reputation dies. 

This scandal scene of Sheridan's had predecessors in the comedies 
of Congreve and of Wycherley, not to go back as far as tlie 'Misan- 
thrope* of Moli^re. 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 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. 

Sir Peter. — Yes, madam, I would have law merchant for them too. 

Geneste, in his * History of the English Stage,* draws attention to a 
parallel passage in the * Trinummus * of Plautus, and suggests that it 
would furnish a very pat motto for this play: — 

Cuod si excutratur usque ab stirpe auctoritas, 
Unde qulcquid auditum dicar\t, nisi id appaieat 
Famigeratori res sit cum damno et malo: 
Hoc ita si fiat, publico fiat bono. 
Patid sint faxim, qui sciant quod nesciunt; 
Occhisioremque habeant stultiloquentiam. 

ACT in. 

Scene L 

Sir Peter. — But, Moses 1 would not you have him r;in out a little against the Annuity Bill ? 

In 1777 a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to 
inquire into the laws concerning usur}' and annuities; and on its report 
in May, the month in which this play was first acted, a bill was brought 

jXotes. • 329 

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- 

Sir Peter. — No, never 1 

The traditional business of the scene is for Sir Peter and Lady 
Teazle here to take each other by the hand and to repeat, in unison, 
** Never ! never ! never ! " 

Scene II. 

Tri^. — And find our own bags and bouquets. 

In the original draft of the several scenes which Sheridan finally 
combined into the * School for Scandal,' this phrase, * bags and bou- 
quets,' was said to Sir Peter as he was complaining of Lady Teazle's 
extravagances. This utilization at last of a phrase at first rejected 
elsewhere is highly characteristic of Sheridan. 

Trip. — Or you shall have the reversion of the French velvet. 

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. But there is in Ben 
Jonson's * Every Man in his Humor' (Act III., Scene II.) a speech of 
KnowclVs servant Brainworm in which we find the very same technical 
term as we have in the text : "This smoky varnish being washed off, 
and three or four patches removed, I appear your worship's [servant] 
in reversion, after the decease of your good father, Brainwomi,^^ Sheri- 
dan'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. 

Scene III. 

Sir Harry Bumper — Sings, 

It has been 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 Sheri- 
dan's song was composed by his father-in-law, Thomas Linley, who had 
been his partner in the 'Duenna.' 




J#««H. — Ob, pny, ill. contiileil Mr. Prcmiutn 'i a gmtlni 
In Footc's 'Minor,' thore b a s|>endtlmft son, whose father visits 

J lim in disguiw to test him; and in Foote's 'Author,' a father re- 
turns in disguise, and, to his great delight, hears his son disclose the 
most admirable scniiments; but there is no real lilcencss between 
either of Footc's scenes and this of Sheridan's, the real original of 
Vrhich is pcihaps to be found in his mother's 'Sidney Biddulph,' in 
trhlch an East Indian uncle returns to test a nephcn and a niece. Vet 

I there is possibly a slight resemblance between "little Premium the 
broker," and "little Trans/er, ihc broker," in the "Minor." 

.Vm«, — Oh, yes; I'll itrear to 'il 

An erring tradilioti :iulhorij:cs Moses to interpolate freely and (rc- 
qucnily thrortgliout the rest of the scene a more or less meaningless, 
"I'll take my oath of that." As the part &f AUses is generally taken 
by the low comedian who also appears as Tony Lumpkin, this "gag" 
may be a reminiscence of the comic scene in ' She Sloops to Conquer.' 
in which Tony offers to swear to liis motlier's assertion that Miss Hani- 
castle's jewels have been stolen. 


Scene I. 

Ciflr/«. — But come, get to your piilpit, Mr. Auctioneer^ 

The absurdity of an auction with only one bidder has been com- 
mented u[>on often, but surely Sheridan never intended the auction to 
be taken seriously. The pretence of an auction is surely a freak of 
Charlis's humor and high spirits. 


my grc: 

The 'School for Scandal' was one of the plays pertonned by the 
English actors on their famous visit to Paris in 1827, — a visit which 
revealed ihi; might and range of the English drama to the French, and 
thereby served to make posj;ihle the Romanticist revolt of 1S30. Victor 
Hugo was an assiduous follower of the English performances; and it 
may be tliat this scene of the ' School for Scandal ' suggested to him 
the scene willi the portraits in ' Hernaiii.' 

Scene II. 

Ouirhs. — lie jiiit before you 're generous. 

In a note to an anonymous pamphlet biographical sketch of Sheri- 

^ r\ 

NOTES. 331 

dan, 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 trades- 
men 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 

Scene III. 

Josef h. — Stay, stay ; draw that screen before the windows I 

It has been often objected that the hiding of Lady Teazle behind 
the screen put her in full view of the opposite neighbor, the maiden 
lady of so curious a temper; but it must be remembered that it is 
Joseph who makes this remark and has the screen set, and it is Lady 
Teazle who unwittingly rushes to hide behind it. 

Joseph. — Ah, my dear madam, there is the great mistake. *T is this very conscious innocence 
that is of the greatest prejudice to you. 

The late Abraham Hayward, in his * Selected Essays ' (i, 400), 
calls this " the recast of a fine reflection in * Zadig,' " and quotes, in 
a foot-note, Voltaire's words : " Astart^ est femme, elle laisse parler 
ses regards avec d* raitant plus d* impnidence qu' elle ne se croit pas 
encore coupable. Malheureusement rassur6e sur son innocence, elle 
neglige les dehors necessaires. Je tremblerai pour elle tant qu'elle 
n'aura rien \ se reprocher." 

Charles Surface throws dmt'n the screen, 

Boaden, the biographer of Kemble, has the hyper-ingenuity to dis- 
cover in the fall of the rig in Molly Seagrim's bedroom, disclosing the 
philosopher Square, in *Tom Jones,' the first germ of the fall of the 
screen in the * School for Scandal.* 

Sir Peter. ^Lsidy Teazle, by all that's damnaUcI 

Nowadays most Str Peters take this situation to heart as though 
the * School for Scandal ' were a tragedy, but the play is a comedy, 
and this scene is, and is meant to be, comic, and not tragic, or even 
purely pathetic. It is the vanity rather than the honor of Sir Peter 
in which he feels the wound. If he is as deeply moved as Othello, 
the following speech of Charles is unspeakably heartless and brutal — 
and so, indeed, it is, as it is delivered by most comedians. 


Scene I. 

Sir Oliver. — WliatI has he never transmitted to you bullion — rupees — pagodas? 

The rupee and the pagoda were coins current in Hindustan. The 
rupee is of silver and is equivalent to about two shillings sterling. 
The pagoda was either gold or silver, and its value varied from eight 
to nine shillings sterling. The avadavats mentioned in an earlier speech 
are birds of brilliant plumage. 

Scene II. 

Sir Benjamin. — By a thrut;t in segoon quite through his left side. 

" Segoon " is a corruption of segunde, the Spanish form of the 
French fencing term seconde, Mr. Walter. Herries Pollock kindly gave 
me this information, sought elsewhere in vain. A thrust in segoon, he 
writes, is " a thrust delivered low, under the adversary's blade, with 
the hand in the tierce position, that is, with the knuckles upwards, and 
the wrist turned downwards. The parry is now more frequently used 
than is the thrust of seconde, and is especially valuable in disarming; but 
the thrust is very useful in certain cases, and particularly for one form 
of the coup d' arret, A lunge in seconde which goes through the lung is 
nowadays an odd thing to hear of ; but such a result might come from 
the blade of the man using the thrust in seconde being thrown upwards 
by a slip on the adversary's blade, arm, or shirt." 

Crabtree. — From Salthill, where he had been to see the Montem. 

The Montem was a triennial ceremonv of the bovs at Eton, abolished 
only in 1847. It consisted of a procession to a mound {ad montem) 
near the Bath Road, where they exacted money from those present and 
from all passers-by. The sum collected, sometimes nearly ;^iooo, went 
to the captain or senior scholar, and served to pay his expenses at 
the university. There is an interesting account of the Montem in 
* Coningsby.' 

Crabtree. — Who was just coming to the door with a double letter from Northamptonshire. 

Tradition formerly authorized Mrs. Candour to interpolate here a 
query as to whether the postage had been paid or not ; but this seems 
to be carr}'ing the joke a little too far. 



Scene III. 

Snake. — Ah, sir, consider I live by the badness of my cliaracter. 

In the first draft of the play this speech of Snake's was in one of 
the earliest scenes. The anonymous writer of a pamphlet, * LfCtter to 
Thomas Moore, Esq., on the subject of Sheridan's " School for Scan- 
dal" ' (Bath, 1826), declares that " this is but boyish composition, and 
quite too broad even for farce. It might have been said to Snake by 
another, but is out of even stage-nature or stage-necessity, as coming 
from himself " (p. 16). 


So wills our virtuous bard the motley Bayes. 

Bayes was the hero of the Duke of Buckingham's 'Rehearsal,' and 
was a caricature of John Dryden. At the time this epilogue was written 
the * Rehearsal ' had not yet been driven from the stage by the 
* Critic' * 

Spadille — odd trick — para — basto — king and queen. 

In the game of ombre, at its height when Pope wrote the * Rape of 
the Lock,' and still sur\'iving when Colman wrote this epilogue, " Spa- 
dille " was the ace of spades, " pam " was the knave of clubs, and 
"basto" was the ace of clubs. 



This book should be returned to 
the Library on or before the last date 
stamped below. 

A ^p^^ incurred by retaining it 
beyon^Sl^ specified time. 

P^wSi^return promptly. 




Sr«rtMn-( ei»inali>: Th* 

WkMnw LHxwy 00M1VW0 


3 2044 086 778 735