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Full text of "Sheridan's comedies: The rivals and The school for scandal;"

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 
{From the Portrait by Reynolds.} 



SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES 



THE RIVALS 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 



EDITED 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES TO EACH 
PLAY, AND A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 

BY 
BRANDER MATTHEWS 

PROFESSOR OF DRAMATIC LITERATURE 
IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



NEW YORK 

THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO. 
PUBLISHERS 



J 






COPYRIGHT, 1884, 
BY JAMES R. OSGOOD AND CO. 

COPYRIGHT, 1904, 
BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO. 



TO 

AUSTIN DOBSON 

PfYT*^ 777 GIFT OF COMEDY 

THIS EDITION OF SHERIDAN'S PIAYS 

IS INSCRIBED 
BY HIS FRIEND THE EDITOR 



M41093 



PREFACE. 

" To read a good comedy is to keep the best 
company in the world, where the best things are 
said, and the most amusing happen," so Hazlitt 
tells us. Sheridan's two great comedies are seen 
on the stage to-day more often than any two plays 
of any other dramatist, not excepting Shakspere ; 
it may be doubted whether even ' Hamlet ' is acted 
more than the ' School for Scandal.' They are read 
as freely and frequently and with as much pleasure 
as are the plays of any English dramatist, with the 
sole exception of Shakspere. Neither the ' Rivals ' 
nor the ' School for Scandal ' is one of the eigh- 
teenth-century classics which, like the Spectator and 
the Rambler, like * Rasselas,' and perhaps, alas ! 
the ' Vicar of Wakefield,' is taken on trust and 
read by title only, like a bill before the House. 
And yet, although they bear their hundred years 
bravely, although they are acted half a thousand 
times in succession at one theatre, although they 
continue to come out in new editions for the table 



VI PREFACE. 

of the library and for the pocket of the traveller, 
they have not hitherto received the careful editing 
which the classics of the drama deserve and demand. 

To present Sheridan's plays in a pure text, with 
all needful illustrative notes, with short introductions 
setting forth their history, and with a biographical 
sketch of their author, so that the reader might be 
provided with whatever is necessary for the full 
enjoyment of these centenarian comedies, this is 
the object of the present edition. 

For the text, I have followed that of the edition 
of two volumes octavo, published in 1821 with a 
preface by Moore. For the brief biography of 
Sheridan I need say little : it is the result of origi- 
nal research and it contains few second-hand facts ; 
but so carefully has the ground been gleaned 
by earlier writers, that I can claim as my own by 
right of discovery only the explanation of the means 
whereby Sheridan became the owner of Drury Lane 
Theatre ; and even the solution of this problem 
is plausible and probable rather than absolutely 
certain. 

I take pleasure in thanking here, RICHARD BRINS- 
LEY SHERIDAN, Esq., of Frampton Court, Dorchester, 
for the courtesy and consideration with which he 
allowed me to examine the manuscripts of his grand- 



PREFACE. Vii 

father now in his possession. My thanks are also 
due to my friends LAURENCE HUTTON and H. C. 
BUNNER, for the invaluable aid they have kindly 
given me in the preparation of these pages for the 

P reSS ' B. M. 

NEW YORK, 
October, 18840 

P.S. Since this preface was written, now nearly 
a score of years ago, several biographies of Sheridan 
have been published, one, exhaustive and admira- 
ble, by Mr. W. Fraser Rae. The present sketch has 
now been somewhat revised in the light cast by 
these later books. The tentative explanation, first 
suggested in these pages, as to the way in which 
Sheridan was enabled to get control of Drury Lane 
Theatre, has been adopted by Mr. Rae. 

B. M. 

NEW YORK, 

April, 1904. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN xi 

THE RIVALS. 

INTRODUCTION Ivii 

AUTHOR'S PREFACE . . . . . . . Ixxv 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 2 

FIRST PROLOGUE: BY THE AUTHOR ... 3 

SECOND PROLOGUE: BY THE AUTHOR ... 5 

THE RIVALS: A COMEDY 7 

EPILOGUE: BY THE AUTHOR in 

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

INTRODUCTION 115 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 134 

A PORTRAIT : ADDRESSED TO MRS. CREWE. BY 

R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ 135 

PROLOGUE: BY MR. GARRICK . . . . -139 
THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL: A COMEDY . .141 

EPILOGUE: BY MR. COLMAN 250 

NOTES . 253 

ix 




V 




RICHARD BRINSLEY SHRIDAN. 



RICHARD BRINSLEY BUTLER SHERIDAN, dramatist, 
orator, and wit, was born at No. 12 Dorset Street, 
Dublin, Ireland, in September, 1751. He died in 
Savile Row, London, England, July 7, 1816, and was 
buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. 

" Most men," says Sainte-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 hardl^lgaaw^hpw, 
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| 
jthe plots of his plays, that he pilfered the points of | 
his speeches, and that he prepared his jokes in ad-j 
jvance, appropriating to his own use any Jest he found 
j,, ~ u: i j -^Fi: _! or fa G prosecution 



once got access to a British review, and declared 
with forensic emphasis that Sheridan was " a plod- 
ding and heavy Beaumarchais, with all the tricks, 
but without the genuine brightness and originality 
of the Frenchman." When one reads a solemn state- 
ment like this, the question forms itself of its own 
accord : Was he really plodding and heavy and with- 



xil RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

out brightness ? Had he no originality of his own ? 

Was he a wit, or had he none ? To a__gu^stiorL_piit 

_Jhus bluntly the answer ^..fa^^SEeridanze/^ a \ 

V~wit ''> and he was but little else. As far as mere j 

\wit could carry him, Sheridan went, and but, little, . 

jfarther. 'He had wit raised to the zenith, and he" 

"could bend it to his bidding. In his early youth 

poetry of the Pope period was in fashion ; Sheridan 

set his wits to work and brought forth Papal verse, 

quite as infallible as any made in his time. A little 

later he saw that through the stage door lay the 

shortest way to fame and fortune ; and he wrote 

plays brimful of a wit which even now, after the 

lapse of a century and more, is well nigh as fresh as 

when it was first penned. When in after years he 

went to Parliament and needs must be an orator, 

again his wit was equal to the task, and he delivered 

orations which the great speakers, in that time of 

great speakers, declared to be unsurpassed. Had 

any other call been made on his wits, they would 

have done their best^andiheir best would haYeJaeen 

good indeed. Whatever he produced, poem, or play, I 

\ or speech, was but the chameleon expression of his) 

\ wit. If in intellectual quality any of his work was/ 

\ thin, in quantity it was full beyond all cavil. r^Kfr 



in, in quantity it was full beyond 
w one~ever more truly to use the phrase with no in- 
vidious 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. 



I. 

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was the son of Thomas 
and Frances Sheridan, and the grandson of Dr. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xiii 

Sheridan, the friend and correspondent of Swift. 
Thomas Sheridan was a teacher of elocution, a 
player, a manager, a lexicographer, and altogether 
an odd character. 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 the boy little care. Frances Sheridan was a 
woman of singular gifts and singular charm. Gar- 
rick and Johnson liked her, although they did not 
like her husband ; and they appreciated her remark- 
able literary merits. Garrick brought out and acted 
in the ' Discovery,' a comedy of hers ; and Dr. John- 
son 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 benefi- 
cial ; 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 im- 
press on his character, and it is to his unregulated 
youth that we may ascribe most of the wanderings, 
the missteps, and the mishaps of his manhood. 

When the boy was seven years of age he was 
placed at school with Mr. Thomas Whyte, who was 
afterward the teacher of Sheridan's biographer, 
Moore. Here he was considered a dunce. The 
next year, in 1759, the family removed to England,; 
and in 1762 Richard Brinsley was sent to Harrow, 
where he remained for about three years. He was 
popular with his school-fellows, and his teachers 
believed in his ability. He showed already the indo- 
lence which was always one of his most marked char- 
acteristics, and which he possessed in conjunction. 



Xiv RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

curiously enough, with an extraordinary power of 
application whenever he was aroused by an adequate 
motive. He seems to have acquired some under- 
standing 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 poems credited 
to that " singer of the field and fold." 

In 1769 the elder Sheridan returned to London 
from France with his favourite son, Charles ; and call- 
ing Richard to his side, he began to instruct both 
boys in English grammar and in oratory. " They 
attended also the fencing and riding schools of Mr. 
Angelo," who has recorded the fretful dignity of 
Thomas Sheridan, and the geniality and good humour 
of his younger son. In the middle of 1770 the 
Sheridans moved to Bath, a hot-bed of fast and 
fashionable society, and about as unsuitable and 
unwholesome a place as could be imagined for 
a young man of eighteen with Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan's lack of training and want of prospects. 
He kept up a lively correspondence with Hal- 
hed, who was then at Oxford. The friends were 
ambitious and hopeful ; and they determined to at- 
tempt literature together, fondly dreaming that they 
might awake one morning and find themselves fa- 
mous. 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 
Moore could discover. Then they attempted a metri- 
cal 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 Aristaenetus. 
In November, 1770, Halhed had made a rough draft;, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. XV 

it was not until December that Sheridan, in his usual 
dilatory way, set about his task of revision. There 
is a French version (Poictiers, 1597), but Sheridan 
had not gone to France in 1764 with the family; 
he knew little French, and he 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, 1771, 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." 

MILTON, Paradise Lost, Book 8. 

"London: Printed for J. Wilkie, No. 71 St. Paul's Church- 
yard. MDCCLXXI." 

The quotation from Milton we may credit to Sheri- 
dan ; 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 trans- 
lation 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 biog- 
raphers agree in calling the translation a failure in 
that it met with no favour from the public. It may 
be that the authors made no money by it ; but it suc- 
ceeded 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 Secundus, in a volume of 



xvi RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

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 Chronic 7 e during this year. 
One was a description of the 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 Almack's.' 

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 seventeen 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 w r hom her parents engaged her, and a 
Captain Mathews, who happened to have a \vife 
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 who is best remembered now 
as the writer of an epoch-making manual upon the 
game of whist was not as generous or as readily 
got rid of ; he persecuted her incessantly ; until at 
last she confided in Sheridan, who expostulated in 
vain with the married rake. To avoid him she re- 
solved to take refuge in a convent in France : this 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xvii 

was early in 1772. Sheridan offered to accompany 
her ; and when they had reached France he per- 
suaded 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 Linley and Sheri- 
dan had disappeared together ; one rumour had it 
that they had " set off on a matrimonial expedition 
to Scotland." The baffled Captain Mathews blus- 
tered 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 ac- 
quired 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 
fashion as an experienced swordsman." Despite 
this reputation, Captain Mathews seems to have 
been a coward as well as a bully. At first he dodged 
the duel ; and when it was fought he begged his life 
and wrote an ample apology. Immediately after he 
lied about the affair. At last things were so hot 
around about him, that he was constrained to chal- 
lenge Sheridan to a second meeting, at which Sheri- 
dan was badly wounded. Angelo notes that Mathews 
had learned fencing in France and was considered 
very skilful; and he recollected " Dick Sheridan 
(his appellation then) shewing me a wound in his 
neck, then in a sore state, which he told me he had 
received from his antagonist on the ground" Plainly 
enough Mathews had the best of the second duel, 
although Sheridan's courage was beyond question, 
and he refused to beg his life. After his recovery 



xviii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

he was sent into the country, where he remained 
until the spring of the next year, 1773. During ail 
this time his father and Miss Linley's were deter- 
mined to keep them apart. Moore tells us, that 
Sheridan contrived many stratagems " for the pur- 
pose of exchanging a few words with her, and that 
he more than once disguised himself as a hackney- 
coachman, and drove her home from the theatre," 
where she had been singing. At last Mr. Linley 
yielded, and they were married by license, April 13, 
1773, after a courtship as romantic in its vicissitudes 
as Miss Lydia Languish or Miss Blanche Amory 
could possibly wish. 

Mrs. Sheridan was perhaps the most gifted of a 
gifted family. Dr. Burney refers to the Lin leys " as 
a nest of singing-birds " ; and Michael Kelly re- 
cords 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 honourable 
and high-minded, but it deprived them of a certain 
income. Dr. Johnson's praise might please Sheri- 
dan'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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xix 

further. Without money, and without a profession, 
but with a full confidence in himself, and a heredi- 
tary 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 reputation of ability which 
he had already achieved somehow, he was asked by 
Harris, the manager of Covent Garden Theatre, to 
write a comedy. 

II. 

The time was most propitious for the appearance 
of a new comic author. The works of Wycherley, 
Vanbrugh, Farquhar, and Congreve were falling, or 
had already fallen, out of the list of acting plays. 
Evelina blushed at the dialogue of Congreve 's ' Love 
for Love,' and was ashamed at the plot. Only Sheri- 
dan himself could make Vanbrugh's ' Relapse ' pre- 
sentable. Farquhar and Wycherley fared but little 
better, though the ' Country Wife ' of the latter, dis- 
infected 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.' 
There were many symptoms of a rapid improve- 
ment 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, Farquhar and Vanbrugh, seem to have 
been written to show that the true road to happiness 
was to hate your neighbour and to love your neigh- 
bour's wife. Sydney Smith said that their morality 
was " that every witty man may transgress the 
seventh commandment, which was never meant for 



XX RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

the protection of husbands who labour under the 
incapacity of making repartees." And 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." 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 com- 
petitor 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 Eng- 
lish comedy has in great part been written by Irish- 
men, the author of the ' Good-natured Man,' Oliver 
Goldsmith, died in 1774* * She Stoops to Conquer,' 
produced the year befofe, had scotched Sentimental- 
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 introduc- 
tion of those two most tedious persons, Faulkland 
and Julia, he was soon to repent him of his sins, and 
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 
four-score 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 
possibly of ' High Life Below Stairs,' who had also 
collaborated in the ' Clandestine Marriage ' ; these 
three plays keep the stage to this day. But in 1775 
both Colman and Garrick had ceased to write for 
the theatre. The coarse, vigorous, hardy satires 
of Samuel Foote, and the namby-pamby tragedies 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxi 

and wishy-washy comedies " not translations 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 Covent Garden Theatre, the * Rivals ' 
was not wholly a new composition ; it is rather an 
elaboration of earlier sketches and inchoate memo- 
randums 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 reworking of ac- 
cumulated old material was characteristic of Sheri- 
dan 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. Sheridan 
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 composition is shown in the inor- 
dinate 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 cur- 
tailing of it, till, I believe, his feeling for the vanity 
of a young author got the better of his desire for cor- 
rectness, and he 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 myself that, after the 



xxil RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

first trial, I might with safer judgment proceed to 
remove what should appear to have been most dis- 
satisfactory." 

The ' Rivals ' was first acted at Covent Garden 
Theatre on the evening of January 17, 1775, 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 
experiment, but Sheridan operated it successfully. 
Lightened of the feebler scenes by condensation, 
and strengthened by the substitution of Clinch as 
Sir Lucius O 'Trigger for Lee, who had acted the part 
very badly, the ' Rivals ' was again offered to the 
public, and was acted fourteen or fifteen times be- 
fore the season closed on June i. 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 nights, however, 
the ' Rivals ' picked up and held its own. Its brisk 
and bristling action, its highly ingenious equivoke, 
its broadly limned and sharply contrasted 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 favourites of the playgoer. 

As Goldsmith had shown his gratitude to Quick, 
who acted Tony Lumpkin to his satisfaction, by 
signing the t Grumbler,' an adaptation of the ' Gron- 
deur ' of Brueys, acted for Quick's benefit, so Sheri- 
dan, 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxiii 

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 Moliere, 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 accommo- 
dated 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 per- 
formed 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 



xxiv RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

Sheridan's comedy of the i 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 ' Rivals,' ' St. Patrick's Day,' and the ' Du- 
enna ' 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. Before 
the run of the * Duenna ' was ended, Sheridan was in 
negotiation with Garrick for the purchase, in con- 
junction with Linley and Dr. Ford, of the great 
actor's half of Drury Lane Theatre. Although Gar- 
rick and Thomas Sheridan were rival actors and 
never exactly hit it off together, the former always 
had a cordial esteem for Mrs. 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 
management, he was ready to think well of Sheridan's 
offer to buy him out. Colman, to whom the manage- 
ment was first offered, would purchase solely on con- 
dition that he could buy the whole ; Garrick was only 
half owner, and young Lacey, who had the other half, 
refused to sell. While Garrick was giving his fare- 
well performances, the negotiations with Sheridan 
were pending. The great actor probably the 
greatest 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, Linley, and Ford. 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. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. XXV 

Sheridan and Linley were to find ^10,000 each, and 
their friend Dr. Ford was to supply the remaining 
^15,000. Where Sheridan raised the money for his 
share has been one of the mighty mysteries of the- 
atrical history. There is a general belief that he 
borrowed 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. 

Nobody has yet cited the evidence of Sydney 
Smith, who said that Creevy 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 maybe true ; it is not 
at all impossible, or even improbable, that a fortune 
had been left suddenly and unexpectedly to Sheri- 
dan, or, more likely, to his wife ; but there is no other 
reference to this wealth from the skies ; and prob- 
ably 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 contem- 
poraries was also a wonder to all his biographers, 
until the present writer adventured the following ex- 
planation : 



XXVI RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

Of the original ,35,000 paid Garrick, Sheridan 
was to find ;i 0,000. Dr. Watkins asserts that he 
raised ^8700 of this ^"10,000 by two mortgages, 
one of ;iooo to a Mr. Wallis, and another of 
^7700 to Dr. Ford. If we accept this assertion, 
and there is no reason why we should not, all that 
Sheridan had to make up was ^1300, 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 ^3000 
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 purchase of Lacey 's 
half. A note in Sheridan's handwriting, quoted by 
Moore, says that Lacey was paid " a price exceeding 
^45,000," 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 ^45,000 in cash, and they have all ex- 
hausted their efforts in guessing where he got the 
money. But if we compare Moore's statement with 
Watkins 's, we get nearer a solution of the difficulty. 
Watkins says that Lacey's share was already mort- 
gaged for ,31,500, and that Sheridan assumed this 
mortgage, and agreed further to pay in return for the 
equity of redemption, two annuities of ,500 each. 
This double obligation (the mortgage for ,31,500 
and the annuities) represents " a price exceeding 
^45,000 " ; but it did not call for the expenditure of' 
a single penny in cash. On the contrary the pur- 
chase of Lacey's half of the theatre actually put 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxvii 

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 
^8700 mortgages to Dr. Ford, and to Mr. Wallis, 
and to get back the ^"1300 which he seems to have 
advanced himself. In fact, it appears that Sheridan 
invested only ^1300 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 ^"90,000. Sheridan afterward bought Dr. Ford's 
one-fourth for ^17,000 ; 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 Gar- 
rick as the manager 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 Sheridan, and probably 
helped him in the first important production of the 
new management, the revival with judicious omis- 
sions of Congreve's ' Old Bachelor,' which had not 
been acted for sixteen years. The 'Rivals,' origi- 
nally performed at Covent Garden, was now brought 
out at the theatre of which its author was manager. 



XXviii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

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 deo- 
dorized adaptation of Vanbrugh's * Relapse.' As an 
incident in the l Country Wife ' of Wycherley whom 
Sheridan denied ever having read may have sug- 
gested a chief scene of the ' Duenna,' and as more 
than one scene of the forthcoming ' School for Scan- 
dal ' was to recall Congreve, it was only fair that 
Vanbrugh should have his turn. Oddly enough, 
Farquhar is the only one of the four foremost drama- 
tists of the Restoration from whom Sheridan did 
not borrow directly ; and it is Farquhar with whom 
he has the most intellectual sympathy. Sir Walter 
Scott compares Sheridan with Vanbrugh and Con- 
greve, and Lord 'Macaulay classes together Con- 
greve and Sheridan ; and yet it is Farquhar whose 
influence over him is greatest, and whom he imitated 
from afar, much as Thackeray imitated Fielding, 
and Dickens, Smollett. 

Vanbrugh's * Relapse ' is hopelessly unfit for the 
modern 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 vigour." The merit 
of Congreve'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 Vanbrugh's 
play, although it scoured off many spangles, still left 
the stuff strong enough for ordinary wear. And it 
is a fact that although in the beginning the l Trip to 
Scarborough ' was a great disappointment to those 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxix 

who had hoped much from the new manager's first 
play, it was 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 im- 
proved it by what he has added." Much of its suc- 
cess was due, no doubt, to the skill with which it was 
fitted to the chief actors of the company, Lord Fop- 
pington being played by Dodd, Miss Hoyden by 
Mrs. Abington, and Amanda by Mrs. Robinson, the 
beautiful Perdita, whom Sheridan had coaxed back 
to the stage. 

Like Shakspere and like Moliere, 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 labour from a mass of 
inchoate material, toiled over incessantly, 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]. 



XXX RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

The 'School for Scandal' was first performed 
May 841777^ a little less than a year after the 
purchase > ~frtfm Gairick. The acting of the comedy 
was beyond all praise. Geneste remarks that " no 
new performer ha$ ever appeared in any one of the 
principal characters, that was not inferior to the per- 
son who acted it< originally." The success of the 
comedy itself waV instant, and it has been lasting. 
fltTs T at once Sheridan's masterpiece, and the chief) 
| English comedy of the eighteenth ^ cejrtu^J^TT^^s 
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 recommended Sheridan for membership in 
The Club, as the author of the best modern 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 laughing 
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 un- 
grateful of Cumberland to have been displeased with 
his children for laughing at my comedy, for, when I 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxxi 

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 occasion 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 
himself 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 ear-shot to have saved their 
ears from the pillory." Sir Walter Scott found in 
the ' School for Scandal ' the gentlemanlike ease of 
Farquhar united to the wit of Congreve. Hazlitt 
held it to be " the most finished and faultless comedy 
we have." The verdict of the public did not change 
as Scott and Hazlitt came to the front, and Garrick 
and Johnson slowly faded away ; it did not change 
when Scott and Hazlitt in their turn departed; it 
has not changed since. In the last quarter of the 
nineteenth century, 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 



xxxii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

sister. On January 20, 1779, David Garrick died, 
and Sheridan was a chief mourner at the splendid 
funeral. And on March 2, the monody which 
Sheridan wrote to Garrick's memory was recited at 
Drury Lane Theatre by Mrs. Yates, to the accom- 
paniment o appropriate music. This monody is 
the longest of Sheridan's serious poetic productions, 
and it is the least interesting and the least satisfac- 
tory. 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 feel- 
ing in these verses ; there is no depth 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 charac- 
terization 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's dead, yet still he charms the eye, 
While England lives his fame can never die; 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxxiii 

But he -who struts his hour upon the stage 

Can scarce protract his fame through half an age ; 

Nor pen 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 
Keinble : 

" 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 ; 
Verse ceases to be airy thought, 

And Sculpture to be dumb." 

Although the ' Monody on Garrick ' is somewhat 
laboured, it does not lack fine lines. Especially 
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 : 

" While Shakspere's image, from its hallowed base, 
Seemed to prescribe the grave, 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. ^ snows great versa- 
tility of wit in a dramatist 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 are 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 



XXxiv RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

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 ' Tam- 
ing of the Shrew,' and the other, * High Life Below 
Stairs ' (possibly Garrick's own handiwork, although 
problematically ascribed to a Rev. James Townley). 
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 Cru- 
soe,' 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 prede- 
cessors, 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 Rolla's part by the addition of 
patriotic harangues taken from Sheridan's own politi- 
cal 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. XXXV 

* Stranger ' was but little more than a very careful shap- 
ingof 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 pan- 
tomime 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 sugges- 
tions on paper, leaving to other hands the details of 
elaboration. 

Thus the ' Critic ' remains really Sheridan's latest 
contribution to the stage. While retaining his vast 
pecuniary interest in Drury Lane Theatre and keep- 
ing 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 still later 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, and before the end of October, 1780, 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, as one of the members 
for Stafford, had taken his seat in Parliament by the 
side of his friends Charles Fox and Edmund Burke. 

Before leaving Sheridan the dramatist, to consider 
briefly the career of "Sfi endan the~poriudaTlp&iention 
must be made of prbjecfed and unfinished dramas he 
left behind him. In 1768, when he was only seven- 
teen, he planned a play out of the ' Vicar of Wake- 
field.' Among his papers Moore found the rough 
draft of three acts of a musical drama, wild in sub- 
ject and apparently satiric in intent, and he quotes 
several pages of it, including one song which was 



XXXvi RICHARD BR1NSLEY SHERIDAN. 

suggested by a sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney's ; the 
general scheme seems to be borrowed from the 
' Goblins ' of Sir John Suckling. Later than this un- 
finished opera-book, and apparently evolved from 
it with much modification, was a play called the ' For- 
esters.' 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 farther 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 Sheridan, even under other 
circumstances, would ever have taken heart and 
given his mind to the finishing of this comedy. _ 
Moliere 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 ' Foresters ' 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 






A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. XXX vii 

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.'" 

III. 

When Sheridan entered the House of Commons 
in 1780, the chosen representative of the indepen- 
dent 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 celebrity, for 
the House is jealous of all reputation got elsewhere. 
Addison kept silent ; Steele was greeted with shouts 
of "Tatler," "Tatler"; Erskine and Jeffrey and 
Mackintosh barely held their own in the House ; 
Macaulay and Lytton did little more ; Disraeli, like 
Sheridan, failed at first, and at last became the 
favourite 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 favourable ; to Woodfall, who con- 
fessed this to him, he exclaimed vehemently, " It 
is in me, however, and, by God, it shall come out ! " 



XXXVlii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

It will be remembered that Disraeli was ill received, 
and that he told the stormy House a time would 
come when they should hear him. 

Sheridan kept very quiet for a year or more, speak- 
ing little, and always precisely and to the point, with 
no attempt at display. After he had been in Parlia- 
ment some sixteen months, Lord North's adminis- 
tration 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 Sec- 
retaries 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 suc- 
ceeded 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 reelected 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 
Martyrs." 

In June, 1785, Burke gave notice that he would, 
at a future day, make a motion respecting the con- 
duct of a gentleman just returning from India ; and 
in 1786, he formally impeached Warren Hastings 
for high crimes and misdemeanours 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xxxix 

gaining steadily as an orator, than to Burke, that 
public opinion, at first favourable 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 opponents 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 understand- 
ing 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. Burke had a depth 
and an elevation that Sheridan had not ; but Sheridan 
had the common sense which Burke not infrequently 
lacked. It was remarked that Burke 's notes for the 
speeches against Hastings were dates, facts, figures; 
and that Sheridan's were bits of ornamental rhetoric, 
illustrations, and witticisms. This is not to Sheri- 
dan'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 
labour. 

It was on February 7, 1787, that Sheridan, follow- 
ing Burke, brought forward against Hastings the 
charge relative to the Princesses of Oude, in the 
speech whose effect upon its hearers, Moore con- 
siders to have " no parallel in the annals of ancient 
or modern eloquence." Burke, enthusiastic for his 
cause, and generous in his praise, although already 






xl RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

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 vapour 
before the sun." And Pitt acknowledged, "that 
it surpassed all the eloquence of ancient and mod- 
ern 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 impression that it was impossible to arrive at a 
determinate opinion. Unfortunately, no report of 
this speech exists. There is a wretched summary, 
with an attempt here and there to record a few of 
Sheridan'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 orator. 

The impeachment of Warren Hastings having 
been voted, Sheridan 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 de- 
vised, than the making of a second speech on a 
subject which had already called forth the utmost 
exertion 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xli 

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 de- 
clared that " of all the various species of oratory 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 opponent and who had heard this 
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 col- 
lections of Sheridan's speeches. True it is, that 
Sheridan was artificial and that he was frequently 
guilty of the oratorical and architectural fault of con- 
structing 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 ora- 
tory was its common-sense. The prime defect was 



xlii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

its exuberance of rhetoric : it might 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 recruit- 
ing. He had been reading * Pizarro,' and was per- 
suaded that Rolla's first speech was irresistible ; 
that he had read it to numbers at Brighton, and to 
all he met in the way. Every soul felt its power, and 
had enlisted. Here he produced a list of all their 
names, and insisted that if empowered, he could soon 
raise two hundred thousand men." Now Rolla's 
first speech was a recasting 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 schoolboy 
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 appearance. 

As oratory is an art, Sheridan's careful prepara- 
tion 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xliii 

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 
like Webster set down every chance suggestion, 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 
w r ere put away, and the shavings swept up. His 
wit, whether old or new, had always the appearance 
of spontaneity. No one ever saw the trains which 
fired the coruscating wheel. Had it not been for 
Moore's indiscretion, no one would ever have sus- 
pected the workshop, the kitchen, or the quick 
match. And it must be remembered that very few 
of Sheridan's strokes of wit, and scarcely one of the best 
of them, 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 moment. - 

To say that because Sheridan sometimes used the 
wit of others, he had none of his own ; and that be- 
cause he always prepared, when possible, he could 
do naught impromptu, is absurd ; and yet this has 
been said, now and again. Strike out of his come- 
dies all the jests he may have lifted from his prede- 
cessors, and the loss would scarcely be noticed ; 
we doubt, in fact, whether it would be detected at 
all, except by professed students of dramatic litera- 



xliv RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

ture. 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. 
Sheridan gave to his work the labour 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 himself ; 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 certain political opponent " relied 
on his imagination for his facts, and on his memory 
for his wit," Sheridan 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 super- 
fluity, 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 Harness recorded, 
he endangered the peace of his household ; his sec- 
ond 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 dis- 
covered that the love letters he sent her were the 
very same as those which he had written to his first 
wife. * As one of his critics has remarked, "It is 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xlv 

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 humour of Sheridan's 
conversation we have the testimony of well-nigh all 
who met him. An easy nature, an unfailing readi- 
ness, 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 humour, 
or rather wit, was always saturnine and sometimes 
savage. He never laughed, at least that I saw, and 
I watched him." But Byron saw him only in his 
soured and tormented age. In his youth, and in 
early manhood, he was lively and full of fun, abun- 
dant 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 volun- 
teered to write a sermon to be preached by a rever- 
end friend visiting him ; and it was only months after 
the clergyman had delivered the admirable discourse 
on * The Abuse of Riches,' which Sheridan had 
spe'nt 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 Wilberforce." 
This is a reckless jest, at which even M. Taine, 
nowhere disposed to be over-amiable to Sheridan, 



xlvi RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

smiles perforce. A man capable of practical jokes 
likes these, even in his saddest age, is as far removed 
as may be from moroseness. Sydney Smith's opin- 
ion lies directly across Byron's ; " the charm of Sheri- 
dan's speaking/' said he, " was his multifariousness 
of style." Now, a man savage, saturnine, or morose 
can hardly have a multifariousness of style in speak- 
ing; and one is at a loss to account for Byron's 
assertion. Sydney Smith has been cited, because, 
like Byron, he met Sheridan only when the author 
of the * School for Scandal ' was old and worn and 
wearied. In his bright and brilliant youth, after he 
had suddenly from nothing sprung to the front, and 
the ball lay at his feet, he was everywhere hailed 
as a wit of the first water. Lord John Townshend 
made a dinner party for Fox to meet Sheridan ; and 
he records: "The first interview between them I 
shall never forget. Fox told me, after breaking up 
from dinner, that he had always thought Hare, 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, was after 
the host had specially raised Fox's expectations by 
dwelling at length on Sheridan's extraordinary 
powers. 

Unless Sheridan's manner when Byron was pres- 
ent was unusual, or unless he had changed unac- 
countably 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 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xlvii 

time, you never said a single thing to me that I 
wished unsaid." In like manner, Sheridan was ever 
girding at Michael Kelly, ''Composer of Wines 
and Importer of Music," and yet his cuts were 
kindly and left no scar ; and nowhere is Sheridan 
treated with more honest affection than in Kelly's 
recollections. Sydney Smith's wit has been com- 
pared to " summer lightning, that never harmed the 
object illumined by its flash " ; and to continue the 
parallel, in the verses Moore wrote just after Sheri- 
dan's death, he declared him one 

" Whose humour, as gay as the fire-fly's 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 acri- 
monious, Sheridan seems ever to have been courte- 
ous 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 de- 
tected. 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 Honourable Gentleman had quitted 
the camp as a deserter, he would never attempt to 
return as a spy. 

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 



xlviii RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

the wit which was his chief characteristic. After he 
entered public life, and until he fell under the evil in- 
fluence 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 Eng- 
lish patriot. In the preface of the * Rivals,' he de- 
clares 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 honour, dignity, 
and peace of the British empire. When the French 
Revolution came and " the great army of the indo- 
lent 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 put- 
ting 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. 

IV. 

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 fortune which had waxed began in time to wane. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. xlix 

In 1788, Sheridan's father died, and in 1792 Sheri- 
dan'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. After her death these 
bad habits grew on him, and became inveterate. 
Unfortunately there was never greater need of ex- 
actness and economy than then, for the Drury Lane 
Theatre was condemned by the architects and torn 
down ; and the money to erect a new theatre had to 
be raised by the issue of ^150,000 in debentures of 
^500 each. Pending the rebuilding, the company 
performed at the Opera-House, and later at the Hay- 
market. Unexpected delay in the completion of the 
new theatre caused great loss, and began that accu- 
mulation of indebtedness which was not to be cleared 
off during Sheridan's life. At last .the house was 
complete; and on April 21, 1794, it was opened 
with a performance of ' Macbeth.' A few weeks 
later, on the receipt of the news of Lord Howe's vic- 
tory, Sheridan brought out an occasional piece, called 
' The Glorious First of June,' sketched by himself, 
written, rehearsed, and produced in three days. 

In the spring of 1795, Sheridan was married to 
Miss Ogle, a young daughter of the Dean of Win- 
chester, having settled upon her, as a condition 
precedent to the wedding, a sum of ^15,000, raised 
by debentures on the theatre. During the next few 
years his difficulties increased. At last, in 1802, 
came a final blow. The theatre was burnt to the 



1 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAAT. 

ground. As the glare of the burning building lighted 
up the House of Commons, where Sheridan sat in 
silence, a motion was made to adjourn, out of regard 
for Sheridan, who opposed it, hoping that what- 
ever might be the extent of his private calamity it 
would not interfere with the public business of the 
country. There seems to be a doubt whether he re- 
mained thereafter at his post in the House, or 
whether he went to the scene of his loss and the 
theatre of his triumphs. After the destruction of 
Drury Lane, Sheridan was a ruined man. Whit- 
bread 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 ^28,000 
for his interest in the property, and his son Thomas 
;i 2,000 for his quarter share. But this was con- 
ditional 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 Sheri- 
dan set foot in the play-house he had ruled for twenty- 
five of the mos't prosperous 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 1812 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 in- 
creased 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 1815 came 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. H 

" 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 Sheri- 
dan 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 de- 
clare that a sum of money, about ^3000, was sent 
Sheridan by the Prince, although it was " either at- 
tached 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 sub- 
scription 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 ^15,000, and that 
Sheridan's debts at his death were found to be less 
than ^5000 far less than the debts of Fox or 
Pitt ; and these debts were paid by the family. The 
anonymous Octogenarian, in whose biography is to 
be found the best account of Sheridan's last hours, 
describes Mrs. Sheridan's grief and her constant at- 
tention 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 unconscious- 
ness." 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 Sheri- 
dan was wholly insensible. At nine o'clock on the 
morning of Sunday, July 7, 1816, he said " Good-by "; 



Hi RICHARD BRINSLEY 'SHERIDAN. 

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. 

V. 

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 understood and explained 
only at the cost of effort. Sheridan was good-natured 
and warm-hearted ; he never did any one an inten- 
tional injury ; but he brought trouble on all who 
trusted him. While he was gentle, kind, and affec- 
tionate, his wife had reason to feel neglected, and his 
father parted from him in anger. He earned enor- 
mous sums of money, and his advice to others was 
always admirable ; 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 antithesis 
would be easy, for the story of his life is a series ol 
antitheses ; but to suggest a clue to the labyrinth ol 
his character is not so easy. 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, 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. 1m 

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 sor- 
did 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, 
bnt while the spirit might be willing the flesh was 
often weak. He intended to be not merely generous 
with everybody, but also absolutely honest and up- 
right ; 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 posi- 
tion 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. 
In time this habit grew upon him, and the frequency 
of failure to accomplish what he had intended, 
blunted his aspirations. This type of character is 
not as uncommon as it may seem at first sight. Sub- 
stantially it does not differ greatly from the The"rese 
of ' Elle et Lui,' which a biographer of George Sand 
declares to be "a faithful picture of a woman not 
quite up to the level of her own principles, which are 
so high that any lapse from them on her part brings 
down more disasters on herself and on others than 
the misdemeanours of avowedly unscrupulous per- 
sons." 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 whenever spurred to it by an 
extraordinary motive. This vanity and this indo- 
lence were the contending evil spirits who strove 
for the mastery in Sheridan's later days. The indo- 



liv RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 

lence encouraged his carelessness in money matters ; 
and the vanity or ambition or pride stiffened his im- 
practicably high code of morality. He was always 
paying his debts in a large-handed, reckless way, but 
he was never out of debt. He scorned to examine 
an account or to catechise a claimant ; when he had 
money he paid, and when he had none, he promised 
to pay and he kept his word, if reminded of .it 
when money came in. All, or nearly all, of his 
shares in the rebuilt theatre were given to credit- 
ors without any question as to their claims. Sheri- 
dan stripped himself and died in poverty and left 
but few creditors unpaid. From sheer heedlessness 
he probably had paid far more than he actually owed ; 
but he never made an effort to investigate his liabili- 
ties, or to set them off against his assets to see the 
exact state of his affairs. He had no^the mercantile 
morality, as he had not the mercantile training, which 
would have stood him in good stead so often in his 
checkered career. But he had personal morality in 
money matters, and he had political morality. His 
nice sense of honour 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 of money, that he had 
to use the money to meet a debt of honour ; where- 
upon the creditor burnt his bond before his face and 
declared his debt was thereafter a debt of honour, 
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 comprehending the very simplest 
character in all its bearings ; and it might well 
argue vanity to boast of even a common acquaint- 
ance with one like " Sheridan's, which was even 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. lv 

more complex and problematic 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 biog- 
raphers are often too indolent or injudicious to col- 
lect, 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 ex- 
tracts from this 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 
Of failing wisdom yields a base delight 
Men who exult when minds of heavenly tone 
Jar in the music which was born their own 
Still let them pause ah ! 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 may remain, 
Sighing that nature formed but one such man, 
And broke the die, in moulding Sheridan ! " 



THE RIVALS. 



THE RIVALS. 



IN 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 were doing a most meritorious thing, a series of 
old-comedy revivals. Whenever the announcement 
was put forth, the regular playgoer retired within 
himself, and made ready for an intellectual treat. 
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 the 
regular playgoer, and investigating for yourself, you 
will find that the Old Comedies are mostly those 
which, in spite of their being more than a hundred 
years old, are yet lively and sprightly enough to 
amuse a modern audience. 

^ The life of a drama, even of a successful drama, 
is rarely three-score years and ten ; and the num- 
ber of dramas which live to be centenarians is small 
indeed. In the last century the case was different ; 
lix 



Ix THE RIVALS. 

and a hundred years ago the regiriar playgoer had a 
chance to see frequently eight or ten pieces by Mas- 
singer, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and 
Shirley. Nowadays, Shakspere's are the only Eliza- 
bethan plays which keep the stage, with one solitary 
exception Massinger's ' A New Way to Pay Old 
Debts.' The ' Chances/ of Beaumont and Fletcher; 
the ' City Madam,' of Massinger ; and ' Every Man 
in his Humour,' of Ben Jonson these have all, one 
after another, dropped out of sight. The comedies 
of the eighteenth century have now in their turn 
become centenarians ; of these there are half a 
score which have a precarious hold on the theatre, 
and are seen at lengthening intervals ; and there 
are half a dozen w r hich hold their own firmly. Of 
this scant half-dozen, the ' School for Scandal ' is, 
perhaps, in the greatest request, followed closely by 
'She Stoops to Conquer' and the 'Rivals.' Of 
late the ' Rivals ' has been seen most often in these 
United States, since Mr. Joseph Jefferson, laying 
aside the accent and the tatters of that ne'er-do-weel, 
Rip Van Winkle, has taken on the counterfeit pre- 
sentment of Bob Acres, full of strange oaths and of 
a most valiant bearing ; and he was long aided and 
abetted by that sterling artist, Mrs. John Drew, as 
the voluble Mrs. Malaprop. 

The ' Rivals ' was Sheridan 's first play ; it was 
produced at Covent Garden, January i7O7J5> 
Like the first plays of many another dramatist who 
has afterward succeeded abundantly, it failed dis- 
mally on its first performance, and again on the 
second, the night after. It was immediately with- 
drawn ; 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 



INTRODUCTION. Ixi 

from the bills, it reappeared, with Mr. Clinch in the 
place of Mr. Lee, as Sir Lucius O 'Trigger. 

Moore remarks that as comedy, more than any 
other species of composition, requires " that know- 
ledge of human nature and the world which expe- 
rience alone can give, it seems not a little 
extraordinary 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 himself, 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 youth- 
ful works." Empty and hollow are harsh words to 
apply to English comedy ; but it is 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 Moliere and of Shakspere, 
ami it is easy to see what Lessing means. In place 
of a liberal humanity, is an exuberance of youthful 



Ixii THE RIVALS. 

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 born, not made. 

" A dramatic author," says the younger Alexandre 
Dumas, " as he advances in life, can acquire higher 
thoughts, can develop a higher philosophy, can con- 
ceive and execute works of stronger tissue, than 
when he began ; in a word, the matter he can cast 
into his mould will be nobler and richer, but the mould 
will be the same." Dumas proceeded 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 Sheridan ; 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 how 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 twenty- three. 

Humour ripens slowly, but in the case of Sheridan 
some forcing-house of circumstance seems to have 
brought it to an early maturity, not so rich, perhaps, 
or so mellow as it might have become with time, 
and yet full of a flavour of its own. Strangely 
enough, the early ' Rivals ' is more humorous and 
less witty than the later * School for Scandal,' per- 
haps because the humour of the * Rivals ' is rather 
the frank feeling for fun and appreciation of the 
incongruous (both of which may be youthful quali- 
ties) than the deeper and broader humour which we 
see at its full in Moliere and Shakspere. 



INTRODUCTION. Ixiii 

So we have the bold outlines of Mrs. Malaprop 
and Bob Acres, personages having only a slight like- 
ness to nature, and not always even consistent to 
their own projection, but strong in comic effect and 
abundantly laughter-compelling. They are carica- 
tures, 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 in- 
telligence, incapable of acquiring, even by contagion, 
the curious system of referential swearing by which 
he gives variety to his speech. But " odds, bullets, 
and blades ! " as he says, his indeterminate valour is 
so aptly utilized, and his ultimate poltroonery in the 
duel scene is so whimsically developed, and so 
sharply contrasted with the Irish assurance and ease 
of Sir Lucius 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 " de- 
rangement 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, theat- 
rical 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 attri- 
butes of a character may be incongruous if they make 






Ixiv THE RIVALS. 

the character itself more readily recognizable ; and 
the attention of the spectator may be taken from the 
incongruity by humour of situation and quickness 
of dialogue. Acres's odd oaths are no great strain 
on consistency, and they help to fix him in our 
memory. Mrs. Malaprop's 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 invent- 
ing it. After all, Sheridan had to live on his wit ; 
and he wrote his plays to make money by its dis- 
play. And the more of himself he put into each of 
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 Regnard, and not in the class with Shakspere 
and Moliere. But humour and an insight into human 
nature are not found united with the play-making 
faculty once in a century ; there is only one Shak- 
spere, and only one Moliere. It is well that a quick 
wit and a lively fancy can amuse us not unsatisfac- 
torily, and that, in default of Shakspere and Moliere, 
we have at least Beaumarchais and Sheridan. 

It is well that Sheridan wrote the ' Rivals ' just 
when he did, or else both wit and humour 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 in the eighteenth cen- 
tury the danger was real. A school of critics had 
arisen who prescribed that comedy should be gen- 
teel, and that it should eschew all treatment of ordi- 
nary human nature, confining itself chiefly to sentiment 






INTRODUCTION. Ixv 

in high life. A school of dramatists, beginning with 
Steele (whom it is sad to see in such company), and 
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 the secret of Moliere's 
humour 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 * Pro- 
voked Husband,' and it was indeed a very grave and 
solemn entertainment, without any low wit, or 
humour, or jests ; or, to do it no more than justice, 
anything which could provoke a laugh. The audi- 
ence 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 humour 
" low." But Tony Lumpkin's country laugh cleared 
the atmosphere. Sentimental-Comedy had received 
a deadly 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 announc- 
ing 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 



Ixvi THE RIVALS. 

herself to honour 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 favourite 
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 Sentimental-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 anx- 
ious was he for the success of the ' Rivals,' and so 
important was this success to him, that he attempted 
to conciliate the wits and fine ladies who were bitten 
by the current craze ; at least it is difficult to see any 
other reason for the characters of Julia and Faulk- 
land, so different from all Sheridan s other work, and 
so wholly wanting in the sparkle in which he ex- 
celled. And the calculation was seemingly not un- 
wise ; the scenes between Julia and Faulkland, 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 
Bernard, who was at one time secretary of the Beef- 
steak Club, and afterward one of the first of Ameri- 
can managers, records in his amusing ' Retrospec- 
tions ' that the audience at the first performance of 
the 'Rivals' contained " two parties those sup- 
porting the prevailing taste, and those who were in- 
different 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 Faulkland and Julia (which Sheridan had 
obviously introduced to conciliate the sentimental- 



INTRODUCTION. Ixvii 

ists, but which, in the present day, are considered 
incumbrances) were the characters most favourably 
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 genteel to laugh. So Sheridan, 
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 does she seem form'd to teach? 
Should you expect to hear this lady preach? 
Is gray experience suited to her youth? 
Do solemn sentiments become that mouth? 
Yet, thus 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 sprig of rue ! 
There fixed in usurpation should she stand, 
She'll snatch the dagger from her sister's hand ; 
And having made her votaries iveep a flood, 
Good heaven ! she'll end her comedies in blood ! " 

Sheridan's use of the figures of Comedy and Trag- 
edy is characteristic of his aptness in turning to his 
own advantage any accident upon which his quick wit 
could seize. Characteristic, too, is the willingness 
to borrow a hint from another. Sheridan was not 
above taking his matter wherever he found it. In- 
deed, there are not wanting those who say that Sheri- 
dan had nothing of his own, and was barely able to 
cover his mental nakedness with rags stolen every- 



Ixviii THE RIVALS. 

where. John Forster declared that Lydia Languish 
and her lover owed something to Steele's ' Tender 
Husband.' Dibdin, in his ' History of the Stage,' says 
that Lydia was stolen. from Colman's Polly Honey- 
combe. Whipple found that Sir Anthony Absolute 
was suggested by Smollett's Matthew Bramble; 
and, improving on this, Thomas Arnold, in the article 
on English Literature in the Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica, spoke 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, 
Heidelberg, in Colman and Garrick's ' Clandestine 
Marriage.' And a more recent writer spoke of 
Theodore Hook's ' Ramsbottom Papers ' as contain- 
ing the original of all the Mrs. Malaprops and Mrs. 
Partingtons. Not only were the characters thus all 
copied here and there, but the incidents also are 
stolen. Moore and Mrs. Inchbald point out that 
Faulkland's trial of 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 in 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 con- 
tent with thus robbing Sheridan of the constituent 
parts of his play, an attempt has been made to de- 
prive him of the play itself. Under the head of 
Literary Gossip, a British weekly called The Athe- 
naum, on 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 



INTRODUCTION. Ixix 

(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 char- 
acter 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 Sheri- 
dan's characters and incidents 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 plagiarism. It is not that Sheridan was 
at all above borrowing from his neighbour : .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 Honeycombe, 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 shopkeeper's daughter, and Lydia has the fine 
airs of good society. It is as hard to see a likeness 
between Polly and Lydia, as it is to see just what 
Sheridan owes to Steele's ' Tender Husband.' The 
accusation that the ' Rivals ' is indebted to ' Hum- 
phrey Clinker ' is absurd ; Sir Anthony Absolute is 
not at all like Mr. Matthew Bramble ; indeed, in all 
of Smollett's novel, of which the humour is so rich, 
not to say oily, there is nothing which recalls Sheri- 
dan's play, save possibly Mistress Tabitha 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 



Ixx THE RIVALS. 

far, however, from Sheridan's neat touch is Smollett's 
coarse stroke ! " Mr. Gwynn," says Mistress Tabi- 
tha to Quin the actor, " I was once vastly enter- 
tained with your playing the l 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 pub- 
lished the 'Ramsbottom Papers' between 1824 and 
1828 say half a century after Mrs. Malaprop had 
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 Faulk- 
land from Prior's * Nut-brown Maid,' and from Smol- 
lett's ' Peregrine Pickle,' and from Mrs. Sheridan's 
1 Sidney Biddulph ' ; the situation in the play differs 
materially from those in the three other productions. 
Remains only the sweeping charge of The Athenceum ; 
and this well-nigh as causeless as the rest. The manu- 
script of which The Athenceum speaks is No. 2 5, 9 7 5, and 
it is called ' A Journey to Bath ' ; it ends with the 
third act, and two more are evidently 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 



INTRODUCTION. Ixxi 

unlike the ' Rivals.' The characters of the ' Journey 
to Bath ' are : Lord Hewkly ; Sir Jeremy Bull, Bart; 
Sir Jonathan Bull, his brother, a city knight ; Edward, 
son to Sir Jonathan ; Champignon ; Stapleton ; Lady 
Filmot ; Lady Bel Aircastle ; Mrs. Tryfort, a citi- 
zen's widow ; Lucy, her daughter ; Mrs. Surface, 
one who keeps a lodging-house at -Bath. Mrs. Sur- 
face, it may be noted, is a scandalmonger, who hates 
scandal ; 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 Mrs. Try- 
fort, who is described by one of the other characters 
as the " vainest poor creature, and the fondest of 
hard words, which, without miscalling, she always 
takes care to misapply." Few of her misapplications, 
however, are as happy as those of Mrs. Malaprop. 

After all, the invention is rather Shakspere's than 
Mrs. Sheridan's. Mrs. Malaprop is but Dogberry 
in petticoats. And the fault of which Whipple 
accused Sheridan may be laid at Shakspere's door 
also. Whipple called Mrs. Malaprop's mistakes 
"too felicitously infelicitous to be natural," and 
declares them " characteristic, not of a mind flip- 
pantly 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, 
" Is our whole dissembly appeared ? " And " O 



Ixxii THE RIVALS. 

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 l Rivals ' was 
taken from life, having been suggested by his own 
courtship of Miss Linley and the ensuing duel with 
Captain Mathews. And a later biographer, Mrs. 
Oliphant, chose to identify Miss Lydia Languish 
with Mrs. Sheridan. Both suggestions 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 l 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 honour ; and also, that in the char- 
acter of Faulkland he sketched his own state of 
mind during the long hours 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 coachman 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 



INTRODUCTION. Ixxiii 

vicissitudes of all old favourites. Although never 
long forgotten, it has been now and again neglected 
and now and again harshly treated. Of late years 
the parts of Faulkland and Julia have been much 
curtailed when the comedy has been acted in Eng- 
land ; and in the admirable revival effected in 1880 
by Mr. Joseph Jefferson in the United States, Julia 
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 Hay market 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 tne comedy was acted more than two hun- 
dred times), the part of Mrs. Malaprop was per- 
formed 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 were fortunate in the pos- 
session of Mr. John Gilbert, whose Sir Anthony 
Absolute may be matched with the great Sir An- 
thonys of the past. We 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 autobiog- 
raphy, 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 perform- 
ance in which the future German dramatist, then a 



Ixxiv THE RIVALS. 

mere youth, doubled the parts of 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.' 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE. 



A PREFACE to a play seems generally to be con- 
sidered as a kind of closet-prologue, in which if 
his piece has been successful the author solicits 
that indulgence from the reader which he had be- 
fore experienced from the audience ; but as the scope 
and immediate object of a play is to please a mixed 
assembly in representation (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 further solicitude on the part of the writer be- 
comes unnecessary at least, if not an intrusion ; and 
if the peace has been condemned in the perform- 
ance, I fear an address to the closet, like an appeal 
to posterity, is constantly regarded as the procras- 
tination of a suit, from a consciousness of the weak- 
ness of the cause. From these considerations, the 
following comedy would certainly have been sub- 
mitted to the reader, without any further introduc- 
tion than what it had in the representation, but that 
its success has probably been founded on a circum- 
stance 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 
Ixxv 



Ixxvi THE RIVALS. 

imperfections in the first representation which were 
too obvious to escape reprehension, and too numer- 
ous to admit of a hasty correction. There are few 
writers, I believe, who, even in the fullest conscious- 
ness of error, do not wish to palliate the faults which 
they acknowledge : and, however trifling the per- 
formance, to second their confession of its deficien- 
cies, by whatever plea seems least disgraceful to their 
ability. In the present instance, it cannot be said 
to amount either to candour 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 candour and judgment with which an impartial 
public distinguishes between the errors of inexpe- 
rience and incapacity, and the indulgence which it 
shows even to a disposition to remedy the defects of 
either. 

It were unnecessary to enter into any further ex- 
tenuation 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 un- 
common 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 cen- 
sure to rest where none was deserved. Hurry in 
writing has long been exploded as an excuse for an 
author ; however, in the dramatic line, it may hap- 
pen, that both an author and a manager may wish to 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE. Ixxvii 

fill a chasm in the entertainment of the public with 
a hastiness 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 correctness, and he 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 flat- 
tered myself that, after the first trial, I might with 
safer judgment proceed to remove what should ap- 
pear to have been most dissatisfactory. Many other 
errors there were, which might in part have arisen 
from my being by no means conversant wath plays 
in general, either in reading or at the theatre. Yet 
I own that, in one respect, I did not regret my igno- 
rance ; 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 recollec- 
tion : 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 enjoy- 
ments becomes suspicious of its offspring, and doubts 
whether it has created or adopted. 

With regard to some particular passages which on 
the first night's representatic-n seemed generally dis- 
liked, I confess, that if I felt any emotion of surprise 
at the disapprobation, it was not that they were dis- 
approved of, but that I had not before perceived that 



Ixxviii THE RIVALS. 

they deserved it. As some part of the attack on 
the piece was begun too early to pass for the sentence 
of judgment, 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 disap- 
pointment. 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 sin- 
cerity, and even though the annotation be rude, he 
may rely upon the justness of the comment. Con- 
sidered 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 peev- 
ish strictures in private circles, and scribble at every 
author who has the eminence of being unconnected 
with them, as they are usually spleen-swoln from a 
vain idea of 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 
author. 



AUTHORS PREFACE. Ixxix 

It is not without pleasure that I catch at an oppor- 
tunity of justifying myself from the charge of intend- 
ing any national reflection in the character of Sir 
Lucius O 'Trigger. If any gentlemen opposed the 
piece from that idea, I thank 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 uncontro verted, as to call for the 
warmest and truest applause from a number of judi- 
cious audiences, 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 candour 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. 



THE RIVALS. 



DRAMATIS PERSONS, 

AS ORIGINALLY ACTED AT COVENT-GARDEN THEATRE 
IN 1775. 



SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE .... Mr. Shuter. 

CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE Mr. Woodward. 

FAULKLAND Mr. Lewis. 

ACRES . . . . . . . Mr. Quick. 

SIR Lucius OTRIGGER .... Mr. Lee. 1 

FAG Mr. Lee Lewes. 

DAVID Mr. Dunstal. 

THOMAS Mr. Fearon. 

MRS. MALAPROP,.^ Mrs. Green. 

LYDIA LANGUISH ..*., Miss Barsanti. 

JULIA Mrs. Bulkley. 

LUCY ........ Mrs. Lessingham. 

Maid, Boy, Servants, etc. 



SCENE BATH. 
Time of Action Five Hours. 



1 Afterwards by Mr. Clinch. 



PROLOGUE. 

-T^ 

BY THE AUTHOR. \ ! 
SPOKEN BY MR. WOODWARD AND MR. QUICK. 



Enter SERJEANT-AT-LAW, and ATTORNEY following 
and giving a paper. 

Serj. WHAT 's here ! a vile cramp hand ! I can- 
not see 
Without my spectacles. 

Att. He means his fee. 

Nay, Mr. Serjeant, good sir, try again. [Gives money. 

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

pretty plain. 

Hey ! 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, 
Would gladly plead the Muse's cause. 

Serj. So ! so ! 

Att. And if the fee offends, your wrath should fall 
On me. 

Serj. Dear Dibble, no offence at all. 

Att. Some sons of Phoebus in the courts we meet, 

Serj. And fifty sons of Phoebus in the Fleet ! 

Att. Nor pleads he worse, who with a decent sprig 
Of bays adorns his legal waste of wig. 

3 



4 SffERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Serj. Full-bottom 'd heroes thus, on signs, unfurl 
A leaf of laurel in a grove of curl ! 
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 court, from whence there 's no ap- 
peal; 

No tricking here, to blunt the edge of law, 
Or, damned in equity, escape by flaw : 
>v& 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 favour, 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 candour, without fear 
My client waives all right 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 or fall. 



PROLOGUE. 

BY THE AUTHOR. 
SPOKEN ON THE TENTH NLGHT, BY MRS. BULKLEY. 



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 Humour, 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 form'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. 

Yet, thus adorn 'd with every graceful art 

To charm the fancy and yet reach the heart 

1 Pointing to the figure of Comedy. 
5 



6 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 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 flood, 
Good heaven ! she '11 end her comedies in blood 
Bid 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 : 

fTair Virtue scorns our feeble aid to ask ; 

j And moral Truth disdains the trickster's mask. 

I For here their fav'rite stands, 1 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. 

1 Pointing to Tragedy. 

, -^ 



THE RIVALS. 

A COMEDY. 



ACT I. 

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 ! Mr. Fag ! give us 
your hand, my old fellow-servant. 

Fag. Excuse my glove, Thomas : I 'm devilish 
glad to see you, my lad. Why, my prince of chariot- 
eers, 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 j 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 ! 

7 



8 SHE&TDAJV'S COMEDIES. 

Thos. Bu,t tell us> Mr. Fag," aow does young master? 
Odd 1 : Sir^rithony-wiU stare, to see the Captain here ! 

' Pag. 1 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 war- 
rant ! 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. 

Thos. 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 half-pay ensign than if she knew he was 
son and heir to Sir Anthony Absolute, a baronet of 
three thousand a year. 



THE RIVALS. 9 

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 ! 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 ! 

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

Fag. As fond as pigeons. 

Thos. May one hear her name ? 

Fag. Miss Lydia Languish. 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 to- 
gether in matrimony. 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 I'll introduce you there, Thomas 
you '11 like him much. 

Thos. Sure I know Mr. Du-Peigne you know his 
master is to marry Madam Julia. 

Fag. I had forgot. But, Thomas, you must polish 
a little indeed you must. Here now this wjg ! 

* rve^ VH^ Kv^vj^ " v *-<x 

' \ ^ ** , -1 



10 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

What the devil do you do with a wig, Thomas ? 

None of the London whips of any degree of ton 
wear wigs now. 

Thos. More 's the pity ! more 's the pity, I say. 
Odd's life Nwhen I heard how the lawyers and doc- 
tors 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 't would 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 pro- 
fessions ben't all of a mind for in our village now, 
thoff Jack Gauge, the exciseman has ta'en to his 
carrots, there 's little Dick the farrier swears he '11 
never forsake his bob, though all the college should 
appear with their own heads ! 

Fag. Indeed ! well said, Dick ! But hold ! 
mark ! mark ! Thomas. 

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 news. 

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

Fag. Good-by, 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. 



f 



THE RIVALS. II 



SCENE II. A Dressing-room in MRS. MALAPROP'S 

Lodgings. 

LYDIA sitting on a sofa, with a book in her hand. 
LUCY, as just 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 Reward of 
Constancy ? 

Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am. 

Lyd. Nor The Fatal Connection ? 

Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am. 

Lyd. Nor The Mistakes of the Heart 1 

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 Deli- 
cate Distress ? 

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 ob- 
serving thumb ; and, I believe, cherishes her nails 
for the convenience of making marginal notes. 
Well, child, what have you brought me ? 

Lucy. Oh 1 here, ma'am. \Taking books from 
under her cloak, and from her pockets I\ This is The 
Gordian Knot, and this Peregrine Pickle. Here are 
The Tears of Sensibility and Humphrey Clinker. This 
is The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality, written by her- 



12 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

self, 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 
cousin Julia's voice. 

Reenter LUCY. 

Lucy. Lud ! ma'am, here is Miss Melville. 

Lyd. Is it possible ! \_Exit LUCY. 

Enter JULIA. 

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

Jul. True, Lydia, and our pleasure is the greater. 
But what has been the matter ? you were denied 
to me at first ! 

Lyd. Ah, Julia, I have a thousand things to tell 
you 1 But first inform me what has conjured you 
to Bath ? Is Sir Anthony here ? 

Jul. He is we are arrived within this hour 
and I suppose he will be here to wait on Mrs. Mala- 
prop as soon as he is dressed. 

Lyd. Then before we are interrupted, let me im- 
part 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 with Beverley ! 



THE RIVALS. 13 

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 correspondence with him, under a feigned 
name though, till she chooses to be known to him ; 
but it is a Delia or a Celia, I assure you. 

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

Lyd. Quite the contrary. Since she has dis- 
covered her own frailty, she is become more suspi- 
cious 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. Unfortu- 
nately I had 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 how 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 Thursday, 
I wrote a letter to myself, to inform myself that 
Beverley was at that time 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 more. 



14 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

Lyd. 'T was 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 for- 
ever. 

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. 
I 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. 

////. 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 reso- 
lution 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 
Faulkland, 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 con- 
tracted before my father's death. That, and some 
consequent embarrassments, have delayed what I 
know to be my Faulkland's most ardent wish. He 



THE RIVALS. 15 

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 cap- 
tious, '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 affec- 
tion 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 humil- 
ity makes him undervalue those qualities in him 
which would entitle him to it ; and not feeling w 7 hy 
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 learned to think myself his debtor for those 
imperfections which arise from the ardour of his 
attachment. 

Lyd. Well, I cannot blame you 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. 

JuL Gratitude may have strengthened my attach- 
ment to Mr. Faulkland, but I loved him before he 
had preserved me ; yet surely that alone were an 
obligation sufficient. 

Lyd. Obligation ! why a water-spaniel would have 
done as much ! Well, I should never think of giv- 
ing 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 ? 



1 6 SHERIDAWS COMEDIES. 

Reenter 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. 

////. 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 pay- 
ing my respects to Mrs. Malaprop, when she shall 
treat me, as long as she chooses, with her select 
words so ingeniously misapplied, without being mis- 
pronounced. 

Reenter LUCY. 

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

Lyd. Well, I '11 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. 

////. Adieu ! [Embraces LYDIA, 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 
Ovid behind the bolster there put the Man of 
Feeling into your pocket so, so; now lay Mrs. 
Chapone in sight, and leave Fordyce's 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 Chesterfield^s Letters. Now for 'em. 

[Exit LUCY. 



THE RIVALS. I/ 

Enter MRS. MALAPROP and Sir ANTHONY ABSOLUTE. 

Mrs. Mai. There, Sir Anthony, there sits the de- 
liberate simpleton 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 woman. But the point we would 
request of you is, that you will 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, if a person chooses to 
set about it. I 'm sure I have as much forgot your 
poor dear uncle as if he had never existed and I 
thought it my duty so to do ; and let me tell you, 
Lydia, these violent memories don't become a young 
woman. 

Sir Anth. Why sure she won't pretend to remem- 
ber 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 your- 
self from the matter ; you know I have proof con- 
trovertible 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 



1 8 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

preference and aversion ! 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 I hated your poor 
dear uncle before marriage as if he 'd been a blacka- 
moor and yet, miss, you are sensible what a wife 
I made ! and when it pleased Heaven to release 
me from him, 't is 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-humours. 

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

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

Sir Anth. It is not to be wondered at, ma'am, 
all this is the natural consequence of teaching girls 
to read. Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven ! 
I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their 
alphabet ! 

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

Sir Anth. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I 
observed your niece's maid coming forth from a cir- 
culating 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 evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge ! It 
blossoms through the year! and depend on it, 



THE RIVALS. 19 

Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of han- 
dling the leaves will long for the fruit at last. 

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

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

Mrs. 'Mai. Observe me, Sir Anthony, I would by 
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 Sim- 
ony, or Fluxions, or Paradoxes, or such inflamma- 
tory branches of learning neither would it be 
necessary for her to handle any of your mathemati- 
cal, 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 supercili- 
ous knowledge in accounts ; and as she grew up, I 
would have her instructed in geometry, that she 
might know something of the contagious coun- 
tries; but above all, Sir Anthony, she should be 
mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not misspell, 
and mispronounce words so shamefully as girls 
usually do ; and likewise that she might reprehend 
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 dis- 
pute 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 ? 



2O SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Mrs. Mai. None, I assure you. I am under no 
positive engagement with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia 
is so obstinate against him, 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 I hope no objection on his side. 

Sir Anth. Objection ! let him object if he 
dare ! No, no, Mrs. Malaprop, Jack knows that 
the least demur puts me in a frenzy directly. My 
process was always very simple in their younger 
days 'twas "Jack, do this;" if he demurred, I 
knocked him down and if he grumbled at that, I 
always sent him out of the room. 

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

Sir Anth. Madam, I will handle the subject pru- 
dently. 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 ANTH. 

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 O 'Trigger 



THE RIVALS. 21 

sure, Lucy can't have betrayed me! No, the girl 
is such a simpleton, I should have made her confess 
it. Lucy ! Lucy ! \Calls I\ Had she been one 
of your artificial ones, I should never have trusted 
her. 

Reenter LUCY. 

Lucy. Did you call, ma'am ? 

Mrs. Mai. Yes, girl. Did you see Sir Lucius 
while you was out ? 

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

Mrs. Mai. You are sure, Lucy, that you never 
mentioned 

Lucy. Oh Gemini ! I 'd sooner cut 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 I '11 
give you another letter to Sir Lucius ; but mind, 
Lucy, if ever you betray what you are entrusted 
with (unless it be other people's secrets to me), you 
forfeit 'my malevolence forever ; and your being a 
simpleton shall be no excuse for your locality. 

\Exit MRS. MAL ti 

Lucy. Ha ! ha ! ha ! So, my dear Simplicity! 
let me give you a little respite. ^Altering her man- 
ner, ,] 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 simplic- 
ity lately. [Looks at a paperl\ For abetting Miss 
Lydia Languish in a design of running away with an 
ensign ! in money, sundry times, twelve pounds 
twelve; gowns, Jive; hats, ruffles, caps, &*c. &>., 



22 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

numberless ! From the said ensign, within this last 
month, six guineas and a half, about a quarter's 
pay ! Item, from Mrs. Malaprop for betraying the 
young people to her when I found matters were 
. likely to be discovered two guineas, and a black 
padusoy. I tern, from Mr. Acres, for carrying divers 
letters which I never delivered two guineas, and 
a pair of buckles. Item, from Sir. Lucius O' Trigger, 
three crowns, two gold pocket-pieces, and a silver snuff- 
box ! Well done, Simplicity! Yet I was forced 
to make my Hibernian believe that he was corre- 
sponding, 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. [Exit. 



THE RIVALS. 23 



ACT II. 

SCENE I. CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE'S Lodgings. 
CAPTAIN 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 gentle- 
man 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 lied, 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, no, sir no no not a syllable, upon 
my veracity ! he was, indeed, a little inquisitive ; 



24 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

but I was sly, sir devilish sly ! My master (said 
I), honest Thomas, (you know, sir, one says honest to 
one's inferiors,) is come to Bath to recruit yes, sir, 
I said to recruit and whether for men, money, or 
constitution, you know, sir, is nothing to him, nor 
anyone else. , 

Abs. 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 hon- 
our had already enlisted five disbanded chairmen, 
seven minority waiters, and thirteen billiard-markers. 

Abs. You blockhead, never say more than is 
necessary. 

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. 

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 dress. 

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. \GoingI\ I beg pardon, sir, but 
should Sir Anthony call, you will do me the favour to 
remember that we are recruiting, if you please. 

Abs. Well, well. 

Fag. And, in tenderness to my character, if your 
honour could bring in the chairmen and waiters, I 



THE RIVALS. 2$ 

should esteem it as an obligation ; for though I never 
scruple to lie to serve my master, yet it hurts one's 
conscience to be found out. \JExit. 

Abs. Now for my whimsical friend if he does 
not know that his mistress is here, I '11 tease him a 
little before I tell him 

Enter FAULKLAND. 

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

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 re- 
called every hour. 

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

Abs. What, and lose two-thirds of her fortune ? 
you forget that, my friend. No, no, I could have 
brought her to that long ago. 

Faulk. Nay then, you trifle too long if you are 
sure of her, propose to the aunt in your own charac- 
ter, 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 certain 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 Faulk- 
land, you '11 dine with us to-day at the hotel ? 



26 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

Abs. By heavens I 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 brain! 

Faulk. Ah ! Jack, your heart and soul are not, 
like mine, fixed immutably on one only object. You 
throw for a large stake, but losing, you could stake 
and throw again : but I have set my sum of happi- 
ness on this cast, and not to succeed were to be 
stripped of all. 

Abs. But, for Heaven's sake ! what grounds for 
apprehension can your whimsical brain conjure up 
at present? 

Faulk. What grounds for apprehension, did you 
say ? Heavens ! are there not a thousand ! 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 chilled her delicate frame ! If the wind be 
keen, some rude blast may have affected 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 RIVALS. 2/ 

the hint or not. So, then, Faulkland, 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 rny father within 
this hour. 

Faulk. Can you be serious ? 

Abs. I thought you knew Sir Anthony better than 
to be surprised at a sudden whim of this kind. 
Seriously, then, it is as I tell you upon my honour. 

Faulk. My dear friend ! Hollo, Du Peigne ! my 
hat. My dear Jack now nothing on earth can 
give me a moment's uneasiness. 

Retnter 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 go- 
ing : besides, his character will divert you. 

Faulk. Well, I should like to ask him a few ques- 
tions. 

Abs. He is likewise a rival of mine that is, of 
my other selfs, for he does not think his friend Cap- 
tain Absolute ever saw the lady in question; and 
it is ridiculous enough to hear him complain to 



28 SHERIDAWS COMEDIES. 

me of one Beverley, a concealed skulking rival, 

who 

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 servant. 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 

Abs. Ay, Bob, Miss Melville's Mr. Faulkland. 

Acres. Od'so ! she and your father can be but just 
arrived before me : I suppose you have seen them. 
Ah ! Mr. Faulkland, you are indeed a happy 
man. 

Faulk. I have not seen Miss Melville yet, sir ; 
I hope she enjoyed full health and spirits in Devon- 
shire ? 

Acres. Never knew her better in my life, sir, 
never better. Odds blushes 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 you. 

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



THE RIVALS. 29 

Abs. Now are you angry with your mistress for 
not having been sick? 

Faulk. No, no, you misunderstand me : yet surely 
.a little trifling indisposition is not an unnatural con- 
sequence of absence from those we love. Now 
confess is n't there something unkind in this vio- 
lent, robust, unfeeling health ? 

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

Acres. Good apartments, Jack. 

Faulk. Well, sir, but you were saying that Miss 
Melville has been so exceedingly 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 
humour ! 

Faulk. There, Jack, there. Oh, by my soul! 
there is an innate levity in woman, that nothing can 
overcome. What ! happy, and I away ! 

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

Faulk. Why, Jack, have I been the joy and spirit 
of the company ? 

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 humour ? 

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 ? 



3O SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

Acres. That she has indeed then she is so ac- 
complished so sweet a voice so expert p,t 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 ! 

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 sung ? 

Acres. Not I indeed. 

Abs. Stay, now, they were some pretty melancholy 
pur ling-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 recol- 
lect one of them My heart 's my own, my will is 
free. [Sings. 

Faulk. Fool ! fool that I am ! to fix all my happi- 
ness 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 mis- 
tress 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 



THE RIVALS. 31 

would not have had her sad or sick yet surely a 
sympathetic heart would have shown itself even in 
the choice of a song she might have been temper- 
ately healthy, and somehow, plaintively gay ; but 
she has been dancing too, I doubt not ! 

Acres. What does the gentleman say about danc- 
ing? 

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

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

Faulk. Hell and the devil ! There ! there I told 
you so ! I told you so ! Oh ! she thrives in my absence ! 

Dancing ! but her wjiole feelings have been in 
opposition with mine ; -^Xhave been anxious, silent, 
pensive, sedentary,? my days have been hours of 
care, my nights^ef watchfulness. She has been all 
health ! spirit ! laugh ! song ! dance ! Oh ! damned, 
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- dancing. 
Odds swimmings ! she has such an air with her ! 

Faulk. Now disappointment on her ! Defend 
this, Absolute ; why don't you defend this ? Coun- 
try-dances ! jigs and reels ! am I to blame now ? A 
minuet I could have forgiven I should not have 
minded that I say I should not have regarded a 
minuet but country-dances ! Zounds ! had she 



32 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

made one in a cotillion I believe I could have 

(forgiven even that but to be monkey-led for a 
night ! to run the gauntlet through a string of 
amorous palming puppies ! to show paces like a 
managed filly ! Oh, Jack, there never ca'n be but 
one man in the world whom a truly modest and deli- 
cate woman ought to pair with in a country-dance ; 
and, even then, the rest of the couples should be her 
great-uncles and aunts ! 

Abs. Ay, to be sure ! grandfathers and grand- 
mothers ! 

Faulk. If there be but one vicious mind in the 
set 'twill spread like a contagion the action of 
their pulse beats to the lascivious movement of the 
jig their quivering, warm-breathed sighs impreg- 
nate the very air the atmosphere becomes electri- 
cal to love, and each amorous spark darts through 
every link of the chain ! I must leave you I 
own I am somewhat flurried and that confounded 
looby has perceived it. [Going. 

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

Faulk. Damn his news! \Exit. 

Abs. Ha ! ha I ha ! poor Faulkland, five minutes 
, since " nothing on earth could give him a moment's 
uneasiness ! " 

Acres. The gentleman wa'n't angry at my prais- 
ing his mistress, was he ? 

Abs. A little jealous, I believe, Bob. 

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

Abs. There 's nothing strange in that, Bob ; let 
me tell you, that sprightly grace and insinuating 
manner of yours will do some mischief among the 
girls here. 



THE RIVALS. 33 

Acres. Ah ! you joke ha ! ha ! mischief ! ha ! 
ha ! but you know I am not my own property, my dear 
Lydia has forestalled me. She could never abide me 
in the country, because I used to dress so badly but 
odds frogs and tambours! I shan't take matters so 
here, now ancient madam has no voice in it : I '11 make 
my old clothes know who 's master. I shall straight- 
way cashier the hunting-frock, and render my leather 
breeches incapable. My hair has been in training 
some time. 

Abs. Indeed ! 

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

Abs. Oh, you '11 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, Bob, I observe 
you have got an odd kind of a new method of swear- 
ing 

Acres. Ha ! ha ! you 've taken notice of it 't is 
genteel is n't it ? I did n't invent it myself though ; 
but a commander in our militia, a great scholar, I 
assure you, says that there is no meaning in the 
common oaths, and that nothing but their antiquity 
makes them respectable ; because, he says, the 
ancients would never stick to an oath or two, but 
would say, by Jove ! or by Bacchus ! or by Mars ! 
or by Venus ! or by Pallas ! according to the senti- 
ment : so that to swear with propriety, says my lit- 
tle major, the oath should be an echo to the sense ; 
and this we call the oath referential or sentimental 
swearing ha ! ha ! 't is genteel, is n't it ? 

Abs. Very genteel, and very new, indeed ! and 



34 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

I dare say will supplant all other figures of impre- 
cation. 

Acres. Ay, ay, the best terms will grow obsolete. 
Damns have had their day. 

- Reenter FAG. 

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

Abs. Ay you may. 

Acres. Well, I must be gone 

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 message from Mrs. Malaprop at my lodg- 
ings. 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 
Lydia. 

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 
Devonshire, 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. Very apprehensive, I dare say, Jack. 
What, you are recruiting here, hey ? 

Abs. Yes, sir, I am on duty. 

Sir Anth. Well, Jack, I am glad to see you, though 
I did not expect it, for I was going to write you on 



THE RIVALS. 35 

a little matter of business. Jack, I have been con- 
sidering that I grow old and infirm, and shall prob- 
ably not trouble you 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 consider- 
ing that I am so strong and hearty I may continue 
to plague you a long time. Now, Jack, I am sen- 
sible 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 are very good. 

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

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

Sir Anth. I am glad you are so sensible of my 
attention and you shall be master of a large estate 
in a few weeks. 

Abs. Let my future life, sir, speak my gratitude ; 
I cannot express the sense I have of your munifi- 
cence. Yet, sir, I presume you would not wish me 
to quit the army ? 

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

Abs. My wife, sir ! 

Sir Anth. Ay, ay, settle that between you settle 
that between you. 

Abs. A wife, sir, did you say ? 

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



36 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 indepen- 
dence and a fortune, 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 to love, and to marry her directly. 

Abs. Sure, sir, this is not very reasonable to 
summon my affections for a lady 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 in- 
clinations are fixed dn 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 fore- 
close ; they are not worth redeeming ; besides, you 
have the angel's vows in exchange, I suppose ; so 
there can be no loss there. 

Abs. You must excuse me, sir, if I tell you, once 
for all, that in this point I cannot obey you. 



THE RIVALS. 37 

Sir Anth. Hark'ee, Jack ; I have heard you for 
some time with patience I have been cool quite 
cool ; but take care you know I am compliance 
itself when I am not thwarted; no one more 
easily led when I have my own way; but don't 
put me in a frenzy. 

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

Sir Anth. Now damn me I if ever I call you Jack 
again while I live ! 

Abs. Nay, sir, but hear me. 

Sir Anth. Sir, I won't hear a word not a word ! 
not one word ! so give me your promise by a nod 
and I '11 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 ! to 

Sir Anth. Zounds ! sirrah ! the lady shall be as 
ugly as I choose : she shall have a hump on each 
shoulder ! 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 ! 

Sir Anth. None of your sneering, puppy ! no grin- 
ning, jackanapes ! 

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

Sir Anth. 'T is false, sir, I know you are laughing 
in your sleeve ; I know you '11 grin when I am gone, 
sirrah ! 

Abs. Sir, I hope I know my duty better. 

Sir Anth. None of your passion, sir ! none of your 



38 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

violence, if you please ! It won't do with me, I 
promise you. 

Abs. Indeed, sir, I never was cooler in my life. 
/ Sir Anth. 'T is a confounded lie ! I know you 
are in a passion in your heart ; I know you are, you 
hypocritical young dog ! but it won't do. 

Abs. Nay, sir, upon my word 

Sir Anth. 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, over- 
bearing 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 
everything 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 light 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 '11 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 me ! Yet he mar- 
ried himself for love ! and was in his youth a bold 
intriguer, and a gay companion ! 



THE RIVALS. 39 

Reenter FAG. 

Fag. Assuredly, sir, your father is wrath to a de- 
gree ; he comes down-stairs eight or ten steps at a 
time muttering, growling, and thumping the ban- 
isters all the way : I and the cook's dog stand bow- 
ing 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 ac- 
quaintance. 

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 re- 
venge 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 BOY. 

Boy. Mr. Fag ! Mr. Fag ! your master calls you. 

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

Boy. Quick, quick, Mr. Fag ! 

Fag. Quick! quick! you impudent jackanapes! 
am I to be commanded by you too ? you little imper- 
tinent, insolent, kitchen-bred 

\_Exit, kicking and beating him. 



4O SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

SCENE II. The North Parade. 

Enter LUCY. 



Lucy. So I shall have another rival to add to 
my mistress's list Captain Absolute. 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 punctual, when he expects 
to hear from his dear Dalia, as he calls her : I won- 
der he 's not here ! I have a little scruple of con- 
science from this deceit ; though I should not be 
paid so well, if my hero knew that Delia was near 
fifty, and her own mistress. 

Enter SIR Lucius O'TRIGGER. 

Sir Lite. 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 tak- 
ing a nap at the Parade Coffee-house, and I chose 
the window on purpose that I might not miss you. 

Lucy. 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 
me? 



THE RIVALS. 41 

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

Sir Luc. O faith ! I guessed you were n't come 
empty-handed well let me see what the dear 
creature says. 

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

Sir Luc. [Reads.] Sir there is of ten a . sudden 
incentive impulse in love, that has a greater induction 
than years of domestic combination : such was the com- 
motion I felt at the first superfluous view of Sir Lucius 
O^ Trigger. Very pretty, upon my word. Female 
punctuation 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. -p. 

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 offhand ! 

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. Oh, tell her I '11 make her the best hus- 
band in the word, and Lady O 'Trigger into the bar- 
gain ! But we must get the old gentlewoman's 
consent and do everything fairly. 



42 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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, \Gives her 
money] 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 impu- 
dent. 

Sir Luc. 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. 

Lucy. 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. Exit, 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 simplicity, with a grain or two more sincer- 
ity, 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. 



THE RIVALS. 43 

Lticy. Ha ! ha ! ha ! you gentlemen's gentlemen 
are 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 hun- 
dred 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-by, 
Lucy, I must away with this news. 

Lucy. Well, you may laugh but it is true, I as- 
sure you. [ Going.'] 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 Absolute. 

Fag. Never fear ! never fear ! 

Lucy. Be sure bid him keep up his spirits. 

Fag. We will we will. [Exeunt severally. 



44 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 



ACT III. 

SCENE I. The North Parade. 
Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE. 

Abs. J Tis just as Fag told me, indeed. Whim- 
sical 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 proceed- 
ing in these matters. However, I '11 read my recan- 
tation instantly. My conversion is something sudden, 
indeed but I can assure him it is very sincere. 
So, so here he comes. He looks plaguy gruff. 

\_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! for putting him, at twelve 
years old, into a marching regiment, and allowing 
him fifty pounds a year, besides his pay, ever since ! 
But I have done with him ; he 's anybody's son for 
me. I never will see him more, never never 
never. 



THE RIVALS. 45 

Abs. [Aside, coming forward.} Now for a peni- 
tential 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 ac- 
knowledge my error, and to submit entirely to your will. 

Sir Anth. 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 balanc- 
ing what you were pleased to mention concerning 
duty, and obedience, and authority. 

Sir Anth. Well, puppy ? 

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

Sir Anth. Why now you talk sense absolute 
sense I never heard anything more sensible in my 
life. Confound you ! you shall be Jack again. 

Abs. I am happy in the appellation. 

Sir Anth. Why then Jack, my dear Jack, I will 
now inform you who the lady really is. Nothing 
but your passion and violence, you silly fellow, pre- 
vented my telling you at first. Prepare, Jack, for 
wonder and rapture prepare. What think you of 
Miss Lydia Languish ? 

Abs. Languish ! What, the Languishes of Worces- 
tershire ? 

Sir Anth. Worcestershire ! no. Did you never 
meet Mrs. Malaprop and her niece, Miss Languish, 
who came into our country just before you were last 
ordered to your regiment ? 



46 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Abs. Malaprop ! Languish! I don't remember 
ever to have heard the names before. Yet, stay 
I think I do recollect something. Languish ! Lan- 
guish ! She squints, don't she ? A little red-haired 
girl? 

Sir Anth. Squints ! A red-haired girl ! Zounds [ 
no. 

Abs. Then I must have forgot ; it can't be the 
same person. 

Sir Anth. Jack ! Jack ! what think you of bloom- 
ing, love-breathing seventeen ? 

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 cheeks, 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 gentle- 
man. [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 ! Odds life ! when I ran away 
with your mother, I would not have touched any- 
thing 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 



THE RIVALS. 47 

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, 't is 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 : and though one eye may be very agreeable, 
yet as the prejudice has always run in favour of two, 
I would not wish to affect -a singularity in that 
article. 

Sir Anth. What a phlegmatic sot it is ! Why, 
sirrah, you 're an anchorite ! a vile, insensible 
stock. You a soldier ! you 're a walking block, 
fit only to dust the company's regimentals on ! 
Odds life ! I have a great mind to marry the girl 
myself. 

Abs. I am entirely at your disposal, sir : if you 
should think of addressing Miss Languish yourself, 
I suppose you would have me marry the aunt ; or if 
you should change your mind and take the old lady 

't is the same to me I '11 marry the niece. 

Sir Anth. Upon my word, Jack, thou 'rt either a 
very great hypocrite, or but come, I know your 
indifference on such a subject must be all a lie I 'm 
sure it must come, now damn your demure 
face ! come, confess, Jack you have been lying 

ha'n't you ? You have been playing the hypocrite, 



48 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

hey ! I '11 never forgive you, if you ha'n't been ly- 
ing and playing the hypocrite. 

Abs. I 'in sorry, sir, that the respect and duty 
which I bear to you should be so mistaken. 

Sir Anth. Hang your respect and duty ! But 
come along with me, I '11 write a note to Mrs. Mala- 
prop, and you shall visit the lady directly. Her 
eyes shall be the Promethean torch to you come 
along, I '11 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! \Exeunt. 



SCENE II. JULIA'S Dressing-room. 
FAULKLAND discovered alone. 

Faulk. 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 r anrL-to 
.this one subject, whom I think I love beyond my 
life, I am ever ungenerously fretful and madly capri- 
cious ! 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 know the 
nimbleness of her tread, when she thinks her impa- 
tient Faulkland counts the moments of her stay. 



THE RIVALS. 49 

Enter JULIA. 

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 salutation. 

Faulk. 'T was but your fancy, Julia. I was re- 
joiced 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 an,d arrival here, by your 
neighbour Acres, was somewhat damped by his dwell- 
ing much on the high spirits you had enjoyed in 
Devonshire on your mirth your singing danc- 
ing, and I know not what ? For such is my temper, 
Julia, that I should regard every mirthful moment 
in your absence as a treason to constancy. The 
mutual tear that steals down the cheek of parting 
lovers is a compact that no smile shall live there till 
they meet again. 

Jul. Must I never cease to tax my Faulkland with 
this teasing minute caprice ? Can the idle reports 
of a silly boor weigh in your breast against my tried 
affection ? 

Faulk. They have no weight with me, Julia : no, 
no I am happy if you have been so yet only say 
that you did not sing with mirth say that you 
thought of Faulkland in the dance. 

Jul. I never can be happy in your absence. If I 
wear a countenance of content, it is to show that my 



5O SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

mind holds no doubt of my Faulkland's truth. If I 
seemed sad, it were to make malice triumph ; and 
say that I had fixed my heart on one who left me to 
lament his roving and my own credulity. Believe 
me, Faulkland, I 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 ever all goodness to me. Oh, I 
am a brute, when I but admit a doubt of your true 
constancy ! 

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

Faulk. Ah ! Julia, that last word is grating to me. 
I would I had no title to your gratitude ! Search 
your heart, Julia ; perhaps what you have mistaken 
for love is but the warm effusion of a too thankful 
heart. 

Jul. For what quality must I love you ? 

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 obligation 
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 me as I 
wish, though I were an ^thiop, you 'd think none so 
fair. 



THE RIVALS. 51 

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 per- 
severing love ? 

Jul. Then try me now. Let us be free as stran- 
gers 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 are not used to weigh and separate the 
motives of their affections : the cold dictates of pru- 
dence, gratitude, or filial duty, may sometimes be 
mistaken for the pleadings of the heart. I would 
not boast yet let me say that I have neither age, 
person, nor character, to found dislike on ; my 
fortune such as few ladies could be charged with 
indiscretion in the match. O Julia ! when love 
receives such countenance from prudence, nice 
minds will be suspicious of its birth. 

////. I know not whither your insinuations would 



52 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

tend : but as they seem pressing to insult me, I 
will spare you the regret of having done so. I have 
given you no cause for this ! \Exit in tears. 

Faulk. In tears ! Stay, Julia : stay but for a 
moment. The door is fastened ! Julia ! my 
soul ! but for one moment ! I hear her sobbing 
- 'Sdeath ! what a brute am I to use her thus ! 
I Yet stay. Ay she is coming now : how little 
resolution there is in woman ! how a few soft 
words can turn them ! No, faith ! 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 com- 
ing 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 indifference \Hums a tune : then 
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 ! 
't was barbarous and unmanly ! I should be 
ashamed to see her now. I '11 wait till her just 
resentment is abated and when I distress her so 
again, may I lose her forever ! and be linked instead 
to some antique virago, whose gnawing passions and 
long-hoarded spleen shall make me curse my folly 
half the day and all the night. \Eocit. 



THE RIVALS. 53 



SCENE III. MRS. MALAPROP'S Lodgings. 

MRS. MALAPROP, with a letter in her hand, and CAP- 
TAIN ABSOLUTE. 

Mrs. Mai. Your being Sir Anthony's son, captain, 
would itself be a sufficient accommodation ; but from 
the ingenuity of your appearance, 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 honour of being allied to Mrs. Malaprop, of whose 
intellectual accomplishments, elegant manners, and 
unaffected learning, no tongue is silent. 

Mrs. Mai. Sir, you do me infinite honour ! I beg, 
captain, you'll be seated. {They sit.~\ Ah! few 
gentlemen, now-a-days, know how to value the in-; 
effectual 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. Mala- 
prop and the orange-tree, are rich in both at 
once ! 

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



54 SHERIDAWS COMEDIES. 

i 

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

Mrs. Mai. You are very good and very con- 
siderate, captain. I am sure I have done everything 
in my power since I exploded the affair ; long ago 
I laid my positive conjunctions on her, never to 
think on the fellow again ; I have since laid Sir 
Anthony's preposition before her ; but, I am sorry to 
say she seems resolved to decline every particle that 
I enjoin her. 

Abs. It must be very distressing, indeed, ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. Oh, it gives me the hydrostatics to 
such a degree. I thought she had persisted from 
corresponding with him ; but, behold, this very day, 
I have interceded another letter from the fellow ; I 
believe I have it in my pocket. 

Abs. Oh, the devil ! my last note. [Aside. 

Mrs. Mai. Ay, here it is. 

Abs. Ay, my note indeed ! O the little traitress 
Lucy. [Aside. 

Mrs. Mai. There, perhaps you may know the 
writing. [ Gives him the letter. 

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

Mrs. Mai. Nay, but read it, captain. 

Abs. [Reads.] My souVs idol, my adored Lydia ! 

Very tender indeed ! 

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

Abs. [Reads.] I am excessively alarmed at the in- 
telligence you send me, the more so as my new rival 

Mrs. Mai. That 's you, sir. 

Abs. [Reads.] Has universally the character of 
being an accomplished gentleman and a man of honour. 

Well, that 's handsome enough. 



THE RIVALS. 55 

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

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

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

Abs. [Reads.] As for the old weather-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 which makes her dress up 
her coarse features and deck her dull chat with hard 
words which she don't understand 

Mrs. Mai. There, sir, an attack upon my lan- 
guage ! 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.] does also 
lay her open to the grossest deceptions from flattery and 
pretended admiration an impudent coxcomb so 
that I have a scheme to see you shortly with the old 
harridan's consent, and even to make her a go-between 
in our interview. 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 '11 try 
who can plot best ! 

Abs. So we will, ma'am so we will ! Ha ! ha ! 



$6 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 nick, will have the fel- 
low laid by the heels, and fairly contrive to carry 
her off in his stead. 

Mrs. Mai. I am delighted with the scheme ; never 
was anything better perpetrated ! 

Abs. But, pray, could not I see the lady for a few 
minutes now ? I should like to try her temper a little. 

Mrs. Mai. Why, I don't know I doubt she is not 
prepared for a visit of this kind. There is a decorum 
in these matters. 

Abs. O Lord 1 she won't mind me only tell her 
Beverley 

Mrs. MaL Sir. 

Abs. Gently, good tongue. [Aside. 

Mrs. Mai. What did you say of Beverley ? 

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

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 ! ha ! Let him if he can, I say 
again. Lydia, come down here ! [Calling. ~\ He '11 
make me a go-between in their interviews ! ha ! ha ! 
ha ! Come down, I say, Lydia ! I don't wonder at 
your laughing, ha ! ha ! ha ! his impudence is truly 
ridiculous. 

Abs. 'T is very ridiculous, upon my soul, ma'am, 
ha ! ha ! ha 1 

Mrs. Mai. The little hussy won't hear. Well, I '11 



THE RIVALS. 57 

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 woman. 

Abs. As you please, ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. For the present, captain, your servant. 
Ah ! you Ve not done laughing yet, I see elude my 
vigilance; yes, yes ; ha! ha! ha! {Exit. 

Abs. Ha ! ha ! ha ! one would think now that I 
might throw off '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 '11 
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 per- 
secuted as I am who have appealed in behalf of their 
favoured lover to the generosity of his rival ; sup- 
pose I were to try it there stands the hated rival 
an officer too ! but oh, how unlike my Beverley ! 
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 ! and 
so overjoyed ! for Heaven's sake ! how came you 
here? 

Abs. Briefly, I have deceived your aunt I was 



58 SHERIDAN^ S COMEDIES. 

\ 

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 Absolute ? 

Abs. Oh, she 's convinced of it. 

Lyd. Ha ! ha ! 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 from unde- 
serving persecution, and with a licensed warmth 
plead for my reward. 

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

Abs. Oh, come to me rich only thus in love- 
liness ! Bring no portion to me but thy love 
't will be generous in you, Lydia for well you know, 
it is the only dower your poor Beverley can repay. 

Lyd. How persuasive are his words ! how charm- 
ing will poverty be with him ! [Aside. 

Abs. Ah ! my soul, what a life will we then live ! 
love shall be our idol and support ! we will worship 
him with a monastic strictness ; abjuring all worldly 
toys, to centre every thought and action there. 
Proud of calamity, we will enjoy the wreck of wealth ; 
while the surrounding gloom of adversity shall make 
the flame of our pure love show doubly bright. By 
Heavens ! I would fling all goods of fortune from 
me with a prodigal hand, to enjoy the scene where 
I might clasp my Lydia to my bosom, and say, the 
world affords no smile to me but here \_Embracing 
herJ\ If she holds out now, the devil is in it ! [Aside. 



THE RIVALS., 59 

Lyd. Now could I fly with him to the antipodes ! 
but my persecution is not yet come to a crisis. 

[Aside. 

Reenter MRS. MALAPROP, listening. 

Mrs. MaL I am impatient to know how the little 
hussy deports herself. [Aside. 

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

Mrs. Mai. Warmth abated !" so ! she has been 
in a passion, I suppose. [Aside. 

Lyd. No nor ever can while I have life. 

Mrs. Mai. An ill-tempered little devil ! she '11 be 
in a passion all 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. 

Abs. 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 forward.'] Why, thou vixen ! I 
have overheard you. 

Abs. 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 

Mrs. Mai. Oh, there 's nothing to be hoped for 
from her ! she 's as headstrong as an allegory on the 
banks of the Nile. 



60 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

i 

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

Mrs. MaL Why, thou unblushing rebel didn't 
you tell this gentleman to his face that you loved 
another better ? did n't you say you never would be 
his? 

L yd. 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. 'T is true, ma'am, and none but Bever- 
ley 

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 me in the least, I assure you. 

Mrs. Mai. You are too good, captain too ami- 
ably 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 '11 choke the word in your 
throat ! come along come along. 

[Exeunt severally , CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE kissing his 
hand to LYDIA MRS. MALAPROP stopping her 
from speaking. 



THE RIVALS. 6 1 

SCENE IV. ACRES 's Lodgings. 
ACRES, as just dressed, and I) AVIV. 

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

Dav. You are quite another creature, believe me, 
master, by the mass ! an' we 've any luck we shall 
see the Devon monkerony in all the print-shops in 
Bath! 

Acres. 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 honour's favourite, would blush like my waist- 
coat. Oons ! I '11 hold a gallon, there a'nt a dog in 
the house but would bark, and I question whether 
Phillis would wag a hair of her tail I 

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

Dav. So I says of your honour'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-office. 

Dav. I will. By the mass, I can't help looking 
at your head ! if I had n't been by at the cooking, 
I wish I may die if I should nave, known the dish 
again myself 1 \Exit* 



62 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Acres. \Comes forward, practising a dancing step^ 
Sink, slide coupee. Confound the first inventors 
of cotillons ! say I they are as bad as algebra to 
us country gentlemen I can walk a minuet easy 
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 cross-over to 
couple figure in right and left and I'd foot 
it with e'er a captain in the country! but these 
outlandish heathen allemandes and cotillons are 
quite beyond me ! I shall never prosper at 'em, 
that 's sure mine are true-born English legs 
they don't understand their curst French lingo ! 
their pas this, and/^w that, and/^ t'other! damn 
me ! my feet don't like to be called paws ! no 't is 
certain I have most Antigallican toes ! 

Enter SERVANT. 

Serv. Here is Sir Lucius O 'Trigger to wait on 
you, sir. 

Acres. Show him in ! [Exit SERVANT. 

Enter SIR Lucius O'TRIGGER. 

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

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

Sir Luc. Pray, my friend, what has brought you 
so suddenly to Bath ? 

Acres. Faith! I have followed Cupid's }ack-a- 
lantern, and find myself in a quagmire at last. In 
short, I have been very ill used, Sir Lucius. I don't 
choose to mention names, but look on me as on a 
very ill-used gentleman. 

Sir Luc. Pray what is the case ? I ask no names. 

Acres. Mark me, Sir Lucius,, I fall as deep as 



THE RIVALS. 63 

need be in love with a young lady her friends 
take my part I follow her to Bath send word of 
my arrival ; and receive answer, that the lady is to 
be otherwise disposed of. This, Sir Lucius, I call 
being ill used. 

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

Acres. Why, there 's the matter ; she has another 
lover, one Beverley, 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 ? 

Acres. Unfairly ! to be sure he has. He never 
could have done it fairly. 

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

Acres. Not I, upon my soul ! 

Sir Luc. We wear no swords here, but you under- 
stand 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 hajL given you the great- 
est provocation in the world. ^Can a man commit a 
more heinous offence against another than to fall in 
love with the same womaaP Oh, by my soul ! it is 
the most unpardonable breach of friendship. 

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 rind a man may have a deal of valour in him, and 



64 SHERIDAN; s COMEDIES. 

not know it ! But could n't I contrive to have a little 
right of my side ? 

Sir Luc. What the devil signifies right, when your 
honour is concerned ? 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 set- 
tle the justice of it. 

Acres. Your words are a grenadier's march to my 
heart ; I believe courage must be catching ! I cer- 
tainly do feel a kind of valour 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 Blunder- 
buss-Hall here, I could show you a range of ancestry, 
in the O'Trigger 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 
honour 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, 'I could do such 
deeds /' 

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

Acres. I must be in a passion, Sir Lucius I 
must be in a rage. Dear Sir Lucius, let me be in 
a rage, if you love me. Come, here 's pen and paper. 
[Sits down to write.} I would the ink were red ! 
Indite, I say indite ! How shall I begin ? Odds 



THE RIVALS. 65 

bullets and blades ! I '11 write a good bold hand, 
however. 

Sir Luc. Pray compose yourself. 

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

Sir Luc. Pho ! pho ! 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. same 
lady 

Acres. Ay, there 's the reason same lady 
well 

Sir Luc. I shall expect the honour of your com- 
pany 

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

Sir Luc. Pray be easy. 

Acres. Well then, honour of your company 

Sir Luc. To settle our pretensions 

Acres. Well. 

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

Acres. So, that 's done Well, I '11 fold it up pres- 
ently ; my own crest a hand and dagger shall 
be the seal. 

Sir Luc. You see now this little explanation will 
put a stop at once to all confusion or misunderstand- 
ing that might arise between you. 

Acres. Ay, we fight to prevent any misunder- 
standing. 

Sir Luc. Now, I '11 leave you to fix your own time. 
Take my advice, and you '11 decide it this evening 



66 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

if you can ; then let the worst come of it, 'twill be 
off your mind to-morrow. 

Acres. Very true. 

Sir Luc. So I shall see nothing more of you, un- 
less it be by letter, till the evening. I would do 
myself the honour 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 
country, and I only want to fall in with the gentle- 
man to call him out. 

Acres. By my valour, 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 lesson. 

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. \Exeunt severally. 



THE RIVALS. 67 



ACT IV. 

SCENE I. ACRES 's Lodgings. 
ACRES and DAVID. 

Dav. Then, by the mass, sir ! 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 valour. 

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 cry off : but for your curst 
sharps and snaps, I never knew any good come of 
'em. 

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

Dav. Ay, by the mass ! and I would be very care- 
ful of it ; and I think in return my honour 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 honour ! 

Dav. I say then, it would be but civil in honour 
never to risk the loss of a gentleman. Look'ee, 
master, this honour seems to me to be a marvellous 
false friend : ay, truly, a very courtier-like servant. 



68 SHERIDAN^ COMEDIES. 

Put the case, I was a gentleman (which, thank God, 
no one can say of me) ; well my honour makes me 
quarrel with another gentleman 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 honour. But 
put the case that he kills me! by the mass ! I go 
to the worms, and my honour whips over to my 
enemy. 

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

Dav. 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 valour to listen to you. What, 
shall I disgrace my ancestors ? Think of that, 
David think what it would be to disgrace my an- 
cestors ! 

Dav. Under favour, the surest way of not disgrac- 
ing 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 ! 

Dav. By the mass, I think 't is ten to one against 
you! Oons ! here to meet some lion-headed fellow, 
I warrant, with his damned double-barrelled swords, 
and cut-and-thrust pistols ! Lord bless us ! it makes 
me tremble to think o't ! Those be such desperate 
bloody-minded weapons ! Well, I never could abide 



THE RIVALS. 69 

'em from a child I never could fancy 'em ! I sup- 
pose there a'n't been so merciless a beast in the world 
as your loaded pistol ! 

Acres. Zounds ! I won't be afraid ! Odds fire and 
fury! you shan't make me afraid. Here is the 
challenge, and I have sent for my dear friend Jack 
Absolute to carry it for me. 

Dav. Ay, i' the name of mischief, let him be the 
messenger. For my part, I would n't lend a hand 
to it for the best horse in your stable. By the mass ! 
it don't look like another letter I It is, as I may 
say, a designing and malicious-looking letter ; 
and I warrant smells of gunpowder like a soldier's 
pouch! Oons ! I wouldn't swear it mayn't go 
off! 

Acres. Out, you poltroon ! you ha 'n't the valour of 
a grasshopper. 

Dav. Well, I say no more 't will be sad news, 
to be sure, at Clod-Hall! but I ha' done. How 
Phi His will howl when she hears of it! Ay, poor 
bitch, she little thinks what shooting her master 's 
going after 1 And I warrant old Crop, who has car- 
ried your honour, field and road, these ten years, will 
curse the hour he was born. [ Whimpering. 

Acres. It won't do, David I am determined to 
fight so get along, you coward, while I 'm in the 
mind. 

Enter SERVANT. 

Serv. Captain Absolute, sir. 

Acres. Oh ! show him up. \Exit SERVANT. 

Dav. Well, Heaven send we be all alive this time 
to-morrow. 

Acres. What 's that ? Don't provoke me, David ! 
Dav. Good-by, master. \Whimpering. 



70 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Acres. Get along, you cowardly, dastardly, croak- 
ing raven 1 [Exit DAVID. 

Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE. 

Abs. What 's the matter, Bob ? 

Acres. A vile, sheep-hearted blockhead ! If I 
had n't the valour of St. George and the dragon to 
boot 

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

Acres. Oh ! there 

[Gives him the challenge. 

Abs. [Aside.~\ To Ensign Beverley. So, what 's 
going on now ? [Aloud.'] Well, what 's this ? 

Acres. A challenge ! 

Abs. 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 
mayn't be wasted. 

Abs. 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 I You could n't be my second, could you, 
Jack? 

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



THE RIVALS. fl 

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. 

Reenter SERVANT. 

Serv. 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 r will you, Jack? 

Abs. To be sure I shall. I '11 say you are a deter- 
mined dog hey, Bob ! 

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

Abs. I will, I will ; I '11 say you are called in the 
country Fighting Bob. 

Acres. Right right 't is all to prevent mis- 
chief ; for I don't want to take his life if I clear my 
honour. 

Abs. 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 ? [ Going. 

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, Fighting Bob ! [Exeunt severally. 



72 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

SCENE II. MRS. MALAPROP'S Lodgings. 
MRS. MALAPROP and LYDIA. 

Mrs. Mai. Why, thou perverse one ! tell me 
what you can object to him ? Is n't he a handsome 
man? tell me that. A genteel man? a pretty 
figure of a man ? 

Lyd. [Aside.'] She little thinks whom she is prais- 
ing ! [Aloud J\ So is Beverley, ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. No caparisons, miss, if you please. 
Caparisons don't become a young woman. No! 
Captain Absolute is indeed a fine gentleman ! 

Lyd. Ay, the Captain Absolute jw/ have seen. 

[Aside. 

Mrs. Mai. 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 physi- 
ognomy so grammatical ! Then his presence 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 station, like Harry 
Mercury, new " Something about kissing on a 
hill however, the similitude struck me directly. 

Lyd. How enraged she '11 be presently, when she 
discovers her mistake ! [Aside. 

Enter SERVANT. 

Serv. Sir Anthony and Captain Absolute are be- 
low, ma'am. 

Mrs. Mai. Show them up here. [Exit SER- 
VANT.] Now, Lydia, I insist on your behaving as 



THE RIVALS. 73 

becomes a young woman. Show your good breed- 
ing, 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 him. 

\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, arid 
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. Mai. 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 Anth. I hope, madam, that Miss Languish has 
reflected on the worth of this gentleman, and the 
regard due to her aunt's choice and my alliance. 
[Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] Now, Jack, speak to 
her. 

Abs. [Aside.] What the devil .shall I do ! - 
\Aside to SIR ANTHONY.] You see, sir, she won't 
even look at me whilst you are here. I knew she 
wouldn't! I told you so. Let me entreat you, 
sir, to leave us together ! 

[Seems to expostulate with his father. 

Lyd. [Aside. 1 I wonder I ha' n't heard my aunt 
exclaim yet ! sure she can't have looked at him ! 
perhaps their regimentals are alike, and she is some- 
thing blind. 

Sir Anth. I say, sir, I won't stir a foot yet ! 



74 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Mrs. Mai. I am sorry to say, Sir Anthony, that 
my affluence over my niece is very small. [Aside to 
LYDIA.] Turn round, Lydia : I blush for 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 Anthony, 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 predilection will be no bar to Jack's hap- 
piness. [Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] Zounds ! 
sirrah ! why don't you speak ! 

Lyd. [Aside.'] I think my lover seems as little in- 
clined to conversation as myself. How strangely 
blind my aunt must be ! 

Abs. Hem ! hem ! madam hem 1 [Attempts to 
speak, then returns to SIR ANTHONY.] Faith ! sir, I 
am so confounded ! and 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 Anth. But it don't take away your voice, fool, 
does it ? Go up, and speak to her directly ! 

[CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE makes signs to MRS. MALA- 
PROP to leave them together. 

Mrs. Mai. Sir Anthony, shall we leave them to- 
gether ? [Aside to LYDIA.] Ah ! you stubborn little 
vixen ! 

Sir Anth. Not yet, ma'am, not yet ! [Aside to 
CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] What the devil are you at? 
unlock your jaws, sirrah, or 

Abs. [Aside.~\ Now Heaven send she may be too 



THE RIVALS. 75 

sullen to look round ! I must disguise my voice. 
[Draws near LYDIA, and speaks in a low hoarse 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 modesty, 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. Mala- 
prop, I wish the lady would favour us with something 
more than a side-front. 

[MRS. MALA PROP 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 present. 

Lyd. [AsideJ] Heavens ! 't is Beverley's voice ! 
Sure he can't have imposed on Sir Anthony too ! 
[Looks round by degrees, then starts up.~} Is this 
possible ! my Beverley ! how can this be ? my 
Beverley ? 

Abs. Ah ! 't is all over. [Aside. 

Sir Anth. Beverley ! the devil Beverley ! 
What can the girl mean? This is my son, Jack 
Absolute. 

Mrs. Mai. For shame, hussy ! for shame ! your 
head runs so on that fellow, that you have him al- 
ways in your eyes I beg Captain Absolute's pardon 
directly. 

Lyd. I see no Captain Absolute, but my loved 
Beverley ! 

Sir Anth. Zounds ! the girl 's mad ! her brain 's 
turned by reading. 



76 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Mrs. Mai. O' my conscience, I believe so! 
What do you mean by Beverley, hussy ? You saw 
Captain Absolute before to-day; there he is your 
husband that shall be. 

Lyd. With all my soul, ma'am when I refuse 
my Beverley 

Sir Anth. 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 endeavour to recollect. 

Sir Anth. Are 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. \AsideI\ Ye powers of Impudence, befriend 
me! [AloudJ] Sir Anthony, most assuredly I am 
your wife's son ; and that I sincerely believe myself 
to be yours also, I hope my duty has always shown. 

Mrs. Malaprop, I am your most respectful ad- 
mirer, and shall be proud to add affectionate nephew. 

I need not tell my Lydia that she sees her faithful 
Beverley, who, knowing the singular 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 ! 

[Sullenly. 

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 
't is my modesty, you know, sir my modesty, that 
has stood in my way. 



THE RIVALS. 77 

Sir Anth. Well, I am glad you are not the dull, 
insensible varlet you pretended to be, however! 
I 'in glad you have made a fool of your father, you 
dog I am. So this was ywt penitence ^ your duty 
and obedience ! I thought it was damned sudden ! 
You never heard their names before, not you ! what 
the LANGUISHES of Worcestershire, hey ? if you 
could please me in the affair it was all you desired ! 
Ah ! you dissembling villain ! What ! ^Pointing 
to LYDIA.] she squints, don't 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 confused, as you must perceive. 

Mrs. Mai. O Lud 1 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 
weather-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 forgive ; odds life ! matters have taken 
so clever a turn all of a sudden, that I could find in 
my heart to be so good-humoured ! and so gallant ! 
hey ! Mrs. Malaprop ! 

Mrs. Mai. Well, Sir Anthony, since you desire it, 
we will not anticipate the past! so mind, young 
people our retrospection will be all to the future. 

Sir Anth. Come, we must leave them together ; 
Mrs. Malaprop, they long to fly into each other's 
arms, I warrant! Jack isn't the cheek as I 
said, hey ? and the eye, you rogue ! and the lip 



78 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

hey? Come, Mrs. Malaprop, we'll not disturb 
their tenderness theirs is the time of life for hap- 
piness ! Youth 's the season made for joy [Sings. ~\ 

hey! Odds life! I'm in such spirits, I don't 
know what I could not do ! Permit me, ma'am 
[Gives his hand to MRS. MALAPROP.] [Sings. ~\ 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 sullenly in her chair. 
Abs. [Aside.~\ So much thought bodes me no 
good. [Aloud.'] So grave, Lydia ! 
Lyd. Sir! 
Abs. [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' consent indeed ! [Peevishly. 

Abs. Come, come, we must lay aside some of our 
romance a little wealth and comfort may be en- 
dured 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 ! 

Abs. Oh, my love! be not so unkind! thus let 
me entreat [Kneeling. 

Lyd. Psha ! what signifies kneeling, when you 
know I must 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 spirit will do. 

Lyd. [Rising.] Then, sir, let me tell you, the 



THE RIVALS. 79 

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 ! humouring 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 de- 
ceiving my relations, and flattered myself that I 
should outwit and incense them all behold my 
hopes are to be crushed at once, by my. aunt's con- 
sent and approbation and / am myself the only 
dupe at last ! [ Walking about in a heat.~\ But here, 
sir, here is the picture Beverley's picture ! [taking 
a miniature from her bosoni\ which I have worn, 
night and day, in spite of threats and entreaties ! 
There, sir, [jlings 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 difference! 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 ! and 
there the half-resentful blush, that would have 
checked the ardour of my thanks ! Well, all that 's 
past ! all over indeed ! There, madam in 
beauty, that copy is not equal to you, but in my 
mind its merit over the original, in being still the 
same, is such that I cannot find in my heart to 
part with it. {Puts it up again. 

Lyd. \_Softening.~] 'T is your own doing, sir I 
I I suppose you are perfectly satisfied. 

Abs. Oh, most certainly sure, now, this is much 
better than being in love ! ha ! ha ! ha ! there 's 



80 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

some spirit in this ! What signifies breaking some 
scores of solemn promises : all that 's of no conse- 
quence, you know. To be sure people will say that 
miss don't know her own mind but never mind 
that ! Or, perhaps, they may be ill-natured enough 
to hint that the gentleman grew tired of the lady and 
forsook her but don't let that fret you. 
Lyd. There is no bearing his insolence. 

\_Bursts into tears. 

Reenter MRS. MALAPROP and SIR ANTHONY 
ABSOLUTE. 

Mrs. Mai. [Entering^ 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 cooing I ever heard ! but what the deuce is the 
meaning of it ? I am 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 Anth, Zounds ! I shall be in a frenzy ! Why, 
Jack, you are 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, are you ? 

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 



THE RIVALS. 8 1 

obey you : for, from this moment, I renounce him 
forever. [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, cap- 
tain ! 

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 impatient. 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. Malaprop: 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. 



82 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

SCENE III. The North Parade. 
Enter SIR Lucius O TRIGGER. 

Sir Luc. I wonder where this Captain Absolute 
hides himself ! Upon my conscience ! these officers 
are always in one's way in love affairs : I remem- 
ber I might have married Lady Dorothy Carmine, if 
it had not been for a little rogue of a major, who ran 
away with her before she could get a sight of me ! 
And I wonder too what it is the ladies can see in them 
to be so fond of them unless it be a touch of the 
old serpent in 'em, that makes the little creatures be 
caught, like vipers, with a bit of red cloth. Ha ! is n't 
this the captain coming? faith it is! There is 
a probability of succeeding about that fellow that 
is mighty provoking ! Who the devil is he talking 
to ? \_Steps aside. 

Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE. 

Abs. \_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 could have made her so damned absurd 
either. 'Sdeath, I never was in a worse humour 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. \_Goes up to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.] 
With regard to that matter, captain, I must beg 
leave to differ in opinion with you. 



THE RIVALS. 83 

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. 

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 controversy. 

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 quarrel with me, I 
cannot conceive. 

Sir Luc. I humbly thank you, sir, for the quickness 
of your apprehension . \_BowingI\ You have named 
the very thing I would be at. 

Abs. Very 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. We 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 



84 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

a gentleman can never fight in peace and quietness. 
However, if it's the same to you, captain, I should 
take it as a particular kindness if you 'd let us meet in 
King's-Mead-Fields, as a little business will call me 
there about six o'clock, and I may despatch both 
matters at once. 

Abs. T is the same to me 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 ease. [Exit SIR Lucius. 

Enter FAULKLAND, meeting ABSOLUTE. 

Abs. Well met ! I was going to look for you. O 
Faulkland ! all the demons of spite and disappoint- 
ment have conspired against me ! I 'm so vexed, that 
if I had not the prospect of a resource in being 
knocked o' the head by-and-by, I should scarce have 
spirits to tell you the cause. 

Faulk. What can you mean ? Has Lydia 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 love-eye was fixed on me, t' other, 
her eye of duty, was finely obliqued : but when duty 
bid her point that the same way, off t' other turned 
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 [Mimicking SIR Lucius.] 
begged leave to have the pleasure of cutting my 
throat: and I mean to indulge him that's all. 



THE RIVALS. 85 

Faulk. Prithee, be serious ! 

Abs. 'T is fact, upon my soul ! Sir Lucius 
O 'Trigger you know him by sight for some 
affront, which I am sure I never intended, has 
obliged me to meet him this evening at six o'clock : 
't is on that account I wished to see you ; you must 
go with me. 

Faulk. Nay, there must be some mistake, sure. 
Sir Lucius shall 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 torment- 
ing 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 may be to take a last leave 1 
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 ! 't is 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 reflections have already 
upbraided him for his last unkindness to me, I will not 



86 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 ! 

Faitlk. Oh, yes, I am : but but 

Abs. Confound your buts ! you never hear any- 
thing that would make another man bless himself, 
but you immediately damn it with a but ! 

Faulk. Now, Jack, as you are my friend, own 
honestly don't you think there is something for- 
ward, 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 wooed to kindness ; and* their par- 
don, like their love, should " not unsought be won." 

Abs. I have not patience to listen to you ! thou 'rt 
incorrigible ! so say no more on the subject. I must 
go to settle a few matters. Let me see you before six, 
remember, at my lodgings. A poor industrious devil 
like me, who have toiled, and drudged, and plotted 
to gain my ends, and am at last disappointed by other 
people's folly, may in pity be allowed to swear and 
grumble a little ; but a captious sceptic in love, a 
slave to fretfulness and whim, who has no difficulties 
but of his own creating, is a subject more fit for 
ridicule than compassion ! [Exit ABSOLUTE. 

Faulk. I feel his reproaches; yet I would not 
change this too exquisite nicety for the gross con- 
tent with which he tramples on the thorns of love ! 
His engaging me in this duel has started an idea 
in my head, which I will instantly pursue. I '11 use 
it as the touchstone of Julia's sincerity and disinter- 
estedness. If her love prove pure and sterling ore, 
my name will rest on it with honour ; and once I Ve 



THE RIVALS. 87 

stamped it there, I lay aside my doubts forever ! But 
if the dross of selfishness, the alloy of pride, pre- 
dominate, 'twill be best to leave her as a toy for 
some less cautious fool to sigh for ! 

\Exit FAULKLAND. 



88 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 



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, Faulk- 
land ? 

Faulk. Alas ! Julia, I am come to take a long 
farewell. 

////. 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 mis- 
chance had fallen on me, I should not so deeply 
dread my banishment ! 

JuL My soul is oppressed with sorrow at the nature 
of your misfortune : 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 



THE RIVALS. 89 

guardian I now entrust my person to your honour 
- 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 tenderest 
comforter. Then on the bosom of your wedded 
Julia, you may lull your keen regret to slumbering ; 
while virtuous love, with a cherub's hand, shall 
smooth the brow of upbraiding thought, and pluck 
the thorn from compunction. 

' Faulk. O Julia ! I am bankrupt in gratitude ! but 
the time is so pressing, it calls on you for so hasty 
a resolution. Would you not wish some hours to 
weigh the advantages you forego, and what little 
compensation poor Faulkland can make you beside 
his solitary love ? 

////. I ask not a moment. No, Faulkland, I have 
loved you for yourself : and if I now, more than 
ever, prize the solemn engagement which so long has 
pledged us to each other, it is because it leaves no 
room for hard aspersions on my fame, and puts the 
seal of duty to an act of love. But let us not linger. 
Perhaps this delay 

Faulk. 'T will be better I should not venture out 
again till dark. Yet am I grieved to think what 
numberless distresses will press heavy on your gentle 
disposition ! 

////. Perhaps your fortune maybe 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 pride perhaps may increase the natural fret- 
fulness of my temper, till I become a rude, morose 
companion, beyond your patience to endure. Per- 



90 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

haps the recollection of a deed my conscience can- 
not justify may haunt me in such gloomy and unsocial 
fits, that I shall hate the tenderness that would re- 
lieve me, break from your arms, and quarrel with 
your fondness ! 

Jul. If your thoughts should assume so unhappy 
a bent, you will the more want some mild and affec- 
tionate spirit to watch over and 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 useless device I throw away all my doubts. 
How shall I plead to be forgiven this last unworthy 
effect of my restless, unsatisfied disposition ? 

Jul. Has no such disaster happened as you re- 
lated ? 

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 ! that you are free from a 
crime, which I before feared to name, Heaven knows 
how sincerely I rejoice ! These are tears of thank- 
fulness 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, Faulk- 
land ! and you preserved the life that tender parent 
gave me ; in his presence I pledged my hand joy- 
fully pledged it where before I had given my 



THE RIVALS. 91 

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, my grateful 
duty, as well as my affection : hence I have been con- 
tent 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 sin- 
cerity - 



Faulk. I confess it all ! yet hear 



////. After such a year of trial, I might have flat- 
tered myself that I should not have been insulted 
with a new probation of my sincerity, as cruel as 
unnecessary ! I now see it is not in your nature to 
be content or confident in love. With this convic- 
tion 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 ex- 
pense of one who never would contend with you. 

Faulk. Nay, but Julia, by my soul and honour, 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 per- 
formance of our solemn engagement. All I request 
of you is, that you will yourself reflect upon this in- 
firmity, and when you number up the many true de- 
lights it has deprived you of, let it not be your least 
regret, that it lost you the love of one who would 
have followed you in beggary through the world ! 

[Exit. 



Q2 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Faulk. She 's gone forever ! There was an 
awful resolution in her manner, that riveted me to 
my place. O fool ! dolt ! barbarian ! Cursed 
as I am, with more imperfections than my 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 now haste to my appointment. 
Well, my mind is tuned for such a 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, acting on men of dull souls, makes idiots 
of them, but, meeting subtler spirits, betrays their 
course and urges sensibility to madness ! [Exit. 

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. \Reenter 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. \AsideI\ I would not accuse 
Faulkland to a sister ! 

Lyd. Ah ! whatever vexations you may have, I 
can assure you mine surpass them. You know who 
Beverley proves to be ? 

Jul. I will now own to you, Lydia, that Mr. 



THE RIVALS. 93 

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 endeavour 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 senti- 
mental elopements ! so becoming a disguise ! so 
amiable a ladder of ropes ! Conscious moon 
four horses Scotch parson with such surprise to 
Mrs. Malaprop and such paragraphs in the news- 
papers ! Oh, I shall die with disappointment. 

////. I don't wonder at it ! 

Lyd. Now sad reverse ! what have I to ex- 
pect, but, after a deal of flimsy preparations with a 
bishop's license, and my aunt's blessing, to go sim- 
pering 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! 

Jul. Melancholy indeed ! 

Lyd. How mortifying, to remember the dear de- 
licious shifts I used to be put to, to gain half a 
minute's conversation with this fellow ! 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, 



94 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 
ardour ! Ah, Julia, that was something like being 
in love. 

JuL If I were in spirits, Lydia, I should chide 
you only by laughing heartily at you ; but it suits 
more the situation of my mind, at present, earnestly 
to entreat you not to let a man, who loves you with 
sincerity, suffer that unhappiness from your caprice, 
which I 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, parricide, and simulation, going on in 
the fields ! and Sir Anthony not to be found to pre- 
vent the antistrophe ! 

JuL For Heaven's sake, madam, what 's the mean- 
ing of this ? 

Mrs. Mai. That gentleman can tell you 't was 
he enveloped the affair to me. 

Lyd. Do, sir, will you, inform us ? \_To FAG. 

Fag. Ma'am, I should hold myself very deficient 
in every requisite 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 ! 



THE RIVALS. 95 

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 man- 
slaughter, 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 are frightened now ! 

[uL But 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, fire-office, and the devil knows what other 
crackers beside ! This, my lady, I say, has an 
angry favour. 

////. But who is there beside Captain Absolute, 
friend ? 

Dav. My poor master under favour for mention- 
ing him first. You know me, my lady I am David 
and my master, of course, is, or was. Squire Acres. 
Then comes Squire Faulkland. 



96 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

| 

Jul. Do, ma'am, let us instantly endeavour to pre- 
vent mischief. 

Mrs. 'Mai. O fie ! it would be very inelegant in 
us : we should only participate things. 

Dav. Ah ! do, Mrs. Aunt, save a few lives they 
are desperately given, believe me. Above all, there 
is that blood-thirsty Philistine, Sir Lucius O 'Trigger. 

Mrs. Mai. Sir Lucius O'Trigger ? O mercy ! 
have they drawn poor little dear Sir Lucius into the 
scrape ? Why, how you stand, girl ! you have no 
more feeling than one of the Derbyshire petrifac- 
tions ! 

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 will ex- 
hort us. Come, sir, you're our envoy lead the 
way, and we '11 precede. 

fag. Not a step before the ladies for the world ! 

Mrs. Mai. You 're sure you know the spot ? 

Fag. I think I can find it, ma'am ; and one good 
thing is, we shall hear the report of the pistols as we 
draw near, so we can't well miss them; : never 
fear, ma'am, never fear. \_Exeunt, he talking. 



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 pro- 



THE RIVALS. 97 



yoking 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 ? 

\_Muffles up his face, 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 honour 
my name is Saunderson, at your service. 

Sir Anth. Sir, I beg your pardon I took you 
hey ? why, zounds ! it is Stay \_Looks up to his 
faceJ\ So, so your humble servant, Mr. Saunder- 
son ! 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. 'T is cool sir ; is n't it ? rather chilly some- 
how but I shall be late I have a particular 
engagement. 

Sir Anth. Stay ! Why, I thought you were look- 
ing for me ? Pray, Jack, where is 't you are going ? 

Abs. Going, sir ! 

Sir Anth. Ay, where are you going ? 

Abs. Where am I going ? 

Sir Anth. You unmannerly puppy ! 

Abs. I was going, sir, to to to to Lydia 



98 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

sir, to Lydia to make matters up if I could ; and 
I was looking for you, sir, to to 

Sir Anth. To go with you, I suppose. Well, 
come along. 

Abs. Oh ! Zounds ! no, sir, not for the world ! 
I wished to meet with you, sir, to to to You 
find it cool, I 'm sure, sir you 'd better not stay 
out. 

Sir Anth. Cool ! not at all. Well, Jack and 
what will you say to Lydia ? 

Abs. Oh, sir, beg her pardon, humour her pro- 
mise and vow : but I detain you, sir consider the 
cold air on your gout. 

Sir Anth. Oh, not at all ! not at all ! I 'm in no 
hurry. Ah ! Jack, you youngsters, when once you 
are wounded here \Putting his hand to CAPTAIN 
ABSOLUTE'S breast '.] 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 throat, are you ? 

Abs. Ha ! ha ! ha ! I thought it would divert 
you, sir, though I did n't mean to tell you till after- 
wards. 

Sir Anth. You didn't? Yes, this is a very di- 
verting trinket, truly ! 

Abs.- Sir, I'll explain to you. You know, sir, 
Lydia is romantic, devilish romantic, and very 
absurd of course : now, sir, I intend, if she refuses to 



THE RIVALS. 99 

forgive me, to imsheath this sword, and swear I '11 
fall upon its point, and expire at her feet ! 

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 me, 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 ! Murder ! 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 murder, 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 going to fight, my poor master, Sir 
Lucius O 'Trigger, your son, the captain 

Sir Anth. Oh, the dog ! - 1 see his tricks. Do 
you know the place ? 



100 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Dav. King's-Mead-Fields. 

Sir Anth. You know the way? 

Dav. Not an inch ; but I '11 call the mayor alder- 
men constables churchwardens and beadles 
we can't be too many to part them. 

Sir Anth. Come along give me your shoulder ! 
we '11 get assistance as we go the lying villain 
Well, I shall be in such a frenzy ! So this was 
the history of his trinkets ! I '11 bauble him ! 

[Exeunt. 

S CENE III. King's-Mead-Fields. 

Enter SIR Lucius O 'TRIGGER and ACRES, with 
pistols. 

Acres. By my valour ! 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 conscience, Mr. Acres, you must leave 
those things to me. Stay now I '11 show you. 
\Measures paces along the stagel\ There now, that 
is a very pretty distance a pretty gentleman's 
distance. 

Acres. Zounds ! we might as well fight in a sentry- 
box ! I tell you, Sir Lucius, the farther he is off, the 
cooler I shall take my aim. 

Sir Luc. Faith ! then I suppose you would aim at 
him best of all if he was out of sight 1 

Acres. No, Sir Lucius; but I should think forty or 
eight-and-thirty yards 

Sir Luc. Pho ! pho ! nonsense ! three or four feet 
between the mouths of your pistols is as good as a 
mile. 



THE RIVALS. IOI 

Acres. Odds bullets, no ! by my yalour ! there is 
no merit in killing him so near : do, my dear Sir 
Lucius, let me bring him .down at a long shot : 
a long shot, Sir Lucius, if y,o,',i Jove ,n?e ; , : . %-o ; v . . 

Sir Liu. Well, the gentleman s friend and 1 -m-isst 
settle that. But tell me now, Mr. Acres, in case of 
an accident, is there any little will or commission I 
could execute for you ? 

Acres. I am much obliged to you, Sir Lucius 
but I don't understand 

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 matters. 

Acres. A quietus ! 

Sir Ln,c. 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 himself in an attitude i\ 
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 

{Levelling at him. 



IO2 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Acres. Zounds ! Sir Lucius are you sure it is not 
cocfeJ? \\ V'- '' 

Sir Luc. Never fear! , 

, 4.cres. . But but ; "ypu Gon't know it may go off 
of ?t cwri'hcad ! ' 

Sir Luc. 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 't will be very 
hard if it don't succeed on the left ! 

Acres. A vital part ! 

Sir Luc. But, there fix yourself so [placing 
him\ let him see the broadside of your full front 

there now a ball or two may pass clean through 
your body, and never do any harm at all. 

Acres. Clean through me ! a ball or two clean 
through me ! 

Sir Luc. Ay may they and it is much the 
genteelest attitude into the bargain. 

Acres. Look'ee ! Sir Lucius I 'd just as lieve be 
shot in an awkward posture as a genteel one so, 
by my valour ! I will stand edgeways. 

Sir Luc. \_Looking at his watch .] Sure they don't 
mean to disappoint us Hah ! no, faith I think 
I see them coming. 

Acres. Hey ! what ! coming ! 

Sir Luc. Ay. Who are those yonder getting ovc ; 
the stile ? 

Acres. There are two of them indeed ! well 
let them come hey, Sir Lucius! we we we 

we won't run. 
Sir Luc. Run ! 

Acres. No I say we won V run, by my valour ! 
Sir Luc. What the devil 's the matter with 
you? 

Acres. Nothing nothing my dear friend my 



THE RIVALS. 1 03 

dear Sir Lucius but I I I don't feel quite so 
bold, somehow, as I did. 

Sir Luc. O fie ! consider your honour. 

Acres. Ay true my honour. Do, Sir Lucius, 
edge in a word or two every now and then about my 
honour. 

Sir Luc. Well, here they 're coming. \Looking. 

Acres. Sir Lucius if I wa'n't with you, I should 
almost think I was afraid. If my valour should leave 
me ! Valour will come and go. 

Sir Luc. Then pray keep it fast, while you have it. 

Acres. Sir Lucius I doubt it is going yes 
my valour is certainly going ! it is sneaking off ! 
I feel it oozing out as it were, at the palms of my 
hands ! 

Sir Luc. Your honour your honour. 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, Captain 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 gentleman civilly. \To FAULKLAND.] 
So, Mr. Beverley, if you '11 choose your weapons, the 
captain and I will measure the ground. 

Faulk. My weapons, sir. 



IO4 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Acres. Odds life ! Sir Lucius, I 'm not going to 
fight Mr. Faulkland ; 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 ; I '11 bear my dis- 
appointment 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 lieve let it alone. 

Sir Luc. Observe me, Mr. Acres I must not be 
trifled with. You have certainly challenged some- 
body and you came here to fight him. Now, if 
that gentleman is willing to represent him I can't 
see, for my soul, why it is n't just the same thing. 

Acres. Why no Sir Lucius I tell you 't is one 
Beverley I 've challenged a fellow, you see, that 
dare not show his face ! If he 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. The person 
who assumed that name is before you ; and as his 
pretensions are the same in both characters, he is 
ready to support them in whatever way you please. 

Sir Luc. Well, this is lucky. Now you have an 
opportunity 

Acres. What, quarrel with my dear friend Jack 
Absolute ? not if he were fifty Beverleys ! Zounds ! 
Sir Lucius, you would not have me so unnatural. 



THE RIVALS. 1 05 

Sir Luc. Upon my conscience, Mr. Acres, your 
valour 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 quietus you may command me entirely. 
I '11 get you snug lying in the Abbey here ; or pickle 
you, and send you over to Blunderbuss-Hall, or any- 
thing of the kind, with the greatest pleasure. 

Sir Luc. Pho ! pho ! you are little better than a 
coward. 

Acres. Mind, gentlemen, he calls me a coward ' ; 
coward was the word, by my valour. 

Sir Luc. Well, sir ? 

Acres. Look'ee, Sir Lucius, 't is n't that I mind the 
word coward coward may be said in joke But 
if you had called me a poltroon, odds daggers and 
balls 

Sir Luc. Well, sir ? 

Acres. 1 should have thought you a very ill- 
bred man. 

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 deter- 
mined 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, 't is we must begin 
so come out, my little counsellor [Draws his 
sword~\ and ask the gentleman whether he will re- 
sign 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. 



106 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Enter SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE, DAVID, MRS. 
MALAPROP, LYDIA, and JULIA. 

Dav. Knock 'em all down, sweet Sir Anthony ; 
knock down my master in particular ; and bind his 
hands over to their good behaviour ! 

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 go- 
ing 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 subjects ? 

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 honour could not brook. 

Sir Anth. Zounds ! Jack, how durst you insult 
the gentleman in a manner which his honour could 
not brook ? 

Mrs. Mai. Come, come, let 's have no honour 
before ladies Captain Absolute, come here 
How could you intimidate us so ? Here 's Lydia 
has been terrified to death for you. 

Abs. For fear I should be killed, or escape, 
ma'am ? 

Mrs. Mai. Nay, no delusions to the past Lydia 
is convinced ; speak, child. 

Sir Luc. With your leave, ma'am, I must put in a 
word here I believe I could interpret the young 
lady's silence. Now mark 



THE RIVALS. 



Lyd. What is it you mean, sir ? 

Sir Luc. Come, come, Delia, we must be serious 
now this is no time for trifling. 

Lyd. 'T is true, sir ; and your reproof bids me 
ofler this gentleman my hand, and solicit the return 
of his affections. 

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 in- 
tentional. 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 inad- 
vertency I ask your pardon. But for this lady, 
while honoured with her approbation, I will support 
my claim against any man whatever. 

Sir Anth. 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 valour ! I '11 
live a bachelor. 

Sir Luc. Captain, give me your hand an affront 
handsomely acknowledged becomes an obligation ; 
and as for the lady if she chooses to deny her own 
handwriting, here - \Takes out letters, 

Mrs. Mai. O, he will dissolve my mystery! Sir 
Lucius, perhaps there's some mistake, perhaps I 
can illuminate - 

Sir Luc. Pray, old gentlewoman, don't interfere 
where you have no business. Miss Languish, are 
you my Delia, or not ? 

Lyd. Indeed, Sir Lucius, I am not. 

[ Walks aside with CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE. 

Mrs. Mai. Sir Lucius O 'Trigger ungrateful as 



108 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

you are I own the soft impeachment pardon my 
blushes, I am Delia. 

Sir Lite. You Delia pho ! pho ! be easy. 

Mrs. Mai. Why, thou barbarous Vandyke those 
letters are mine When you are more sensible of 
my benignity perhaps I may be brought to encour- 
age your addresses. 

Sir Luc. Mrs. Malaprop, I am extremely sensible 
of your condescension ; 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, Cap- 
tain 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 Valour here, will you make 
your fortune ? 

Acres. Odds wrinkles ! No. But give me your 
hand, Sir Lucius, forget and forgive ; but if ever I 
give you a chance ol pickling me again, say Bob Acres 
is a dunce, that 's all. 

Sir Anth. Come, Mrs. Malaprop, don't be cast 
down you are in your bloom yet. 

Mrs. Mai. O Sir Anthony men are all bar- 
barians. [All retire but JULIA and FAULKLAND. 

Jul. [AsideJ] He seems dejected and unhappy 
not sullen ; there was some foundation, however, for 
the tale he told me O woman ! how true should 
be your judgment, when your resolution is so weak ! 

Faulk. Julia ! how can I sue for what I so little 
deserve? I dare not presume yet Hope is the 
child of Penitence. 

Jul. Oh! Faulkland, you have not been more 
faulty in your unkind treatment of me, than I am now 
in wanting inclination to resent it. As my heart 



THE RIVALS. IOQ 

honestly bids me place my weakness to the account 
of love, I should be ungenerous not to admit the 
same plea for yours. 

Faulk. Now I shall be blest indeed ! 

Sir Ant/i. [Coming forward. ~\ What 's going on 
here ? So you have been quarrelling too, I warrant ! 
Come, Julia, I never interfered before ; but let me 
have 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 surprisingly ! 

\The rest come forward. 

Sir Luc. Come, now, I hope there is no dissatis- 
fied 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. You are right, Sir Lucius. So Jack, I 
wish you joy Mr. Faulkland the same. Ladies, 
come now, to show you I 'm neither vexed nor 
angry, odds tabours and pipes ! I '11 order the fiddles 
in half an hour to the New Rooms and I insist on 
your all meeting me there. 

Sir Anth. 'Gad ! sir, I like your spirit ; and at 
night we single lads will drink a health to the young 
couples, and a husband to Mrs. Malaprop. 

Faulk. Our partners are stolen from us, Jack I 
hope to be congratulated by each other yours 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 
candour, reformed the unhappy temper of one who by 
it made wretched whom he loved most, and tortured 
the heart he ought to have adored. 



110 SHERIDAWS COMEDIES. 

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 7 

Lyd. Was always obliged to me for it, hey ! Mr. 
Modesty ? But come, no more of that our hap- 
piness is now as unalloyed as general. 

////. 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 colours 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 Passion will force 
the gaudier rose into the wreath, whose thorn of- 
fends them when its leaves are dropped ! 

[Exeunt omnes. 



EPILOGUE. 

BY THE AUTHOR. 
SPOKEN BY MRS. BULKLEY. 



LADIES, for you I heard our poet say 
He 'd try to coax some moral from his play : 
"One moral's plain," cried I, "without more fuss: 
Man's social happiness all rests on us : 
Through all the drama whether damn'd or not 
Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot. 
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 ; but first he '11 ask his wife : 
John Trot, his friend, for once will do the same, 
But then he '11 just step home to tell 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 ! 

The/<?//v Toper chides each tardy blade, 
Till reeling Bacchus calls on Love for aid : 
Then with each toast he sees fair bumpers swim, 
And kisses Chloe on the sparkling brim ! 

Nay, I have heard that Statesmen great and 

wise 
Will sometimes counsel with a lady's eyes ! 



112 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 viewed the mistress, 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 of t. through winter's chilling woes 
Is all the warmth his little cottage knows ! 

The wandering Tar, who not ion 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 triumph 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 honour steel'd 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 polish 'd Wit more lasting charms disclose, 
And Judgment fix the darts which Beauty throws ! 

In female breasts did sense and merit rule, 
The lover's mind would ask no other school ; 
Shamed into sense, the scholars of our eyes, 
Our beaux from gallantry would soon be wise ; 
Would gladly light, their homage to improve, 
The lamp of Knowledge at the torch of Love ! 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



EARLY in the spring of 1776 Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan succeeded David Garrick as the manager 
of Drury Lane Theatre. Within a 'little more than 
a year Sheridan had brought out the l 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 announce- 
ment of his first play at his own theatre. The pro- 
duction of the ' Trip to Scarborough ' in February, 
1777, was only a temporary disappointment, for it 
was soon noised abroad that a more important com- 
edy in five acts was in preparation. At last, on 
May 8, 1777, the * School for Scandal ' was acted for 
the first time on any stage. 

Garrick had read the play, and he thought even 
more highly of it than he had thought of Mrs. Sheri- 
dan's i 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, 
"5 



Il6 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

between Wilkes and Hopkins. The latter had been 
charged with some practices similar to those of 
Moses, the Jew, in lending money to young men 
under age, and it was supposed that the character of 
the play was levelled at him, in order to injure him 
in his contest, in which he was supported by the 
ministerial interest. In the warmth of a contested 
election, the piece was represented as a factious and 
seditious opposition to a court candidate. The au- 
thor, however, went to Lord Hertford, then lord 
chamberlain, who laughed at the affair and gave 
the license. Sheridan told Lord Byron that the next 
night, after the grand success of the 'School for 
Scandal,' he was knocked down and taken to the 
watch-house, for making a row in the street, and 
being found intoxicated by the watchman. 

Perhaps this was only a bit of Hibernian hyper- 
bole, though a man's head might well reel under a 
triumph so overwhelming. There seems to have 
been hardly a dissenting voice. Merry Della-Crus- 
can 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 persona" he 
said, " stop talking, and let the play go on ? " The 
comedy was a success from the rising of the curtain, 
but it was the falling of the screen although Gar- 
rick 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 the- 
atre was proceeding to fall about it, I ran for my 
life ; but found the next morning that the noise did 



INTROD UCTION. 1 1 7 

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." Sheridan chose his per- 
formers, 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 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 of Joseph Surface ; 
Boaden relates a characteristic interview between 
him and the manager, when he returned to the the- 
atre 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 I wrote it!" Palmer 
declared that the manager's wit cost him something, 
"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 Crab- 
tree ; and Dodd, who has been called " the Prince of 
Pink Heels and Soul of Empty Eminence," was Sir 



Il8 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

Benjamin Backbite. The various characters fitted 
the actors who played them with the most exact 
nicety ; and the result was a varied and harmonious 
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 dramatic 
excellences. Walpole has noted that there were 
more parts better played in the ' School for Scandal ' 
than he almost ever remembered to have seen in 
any other play ; and Charles Lamb thought it " some 
compensation for growing old, to have seen the 
' School for Scandal ' in its glory." 

Dr. Watkins, in his unnecessary biography of 
Sheridan, saw fit to insinuate therein that Sheridan 
was not the real author of the ' School for Scandal,' 
but that it was the composition of a young 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 state of decline, went to Bristol Hot- Wells, where 
she died." 

Pope well knew the type to which this Dr. Watkins 
belonged (" with him most authors steal their works 
or buy ; Garth did not write his own * Dispensary ' ") ; 
and the story which Pope crippled, as if by anticipa- 
tion, 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 growing 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- 



INTR OD UCTION. 1 1 9 

tinct plays one containing the machinery of the 
scandalous college, to have been called possibly 
the ' Slanderers,' and the other setting before us 
the Teazles and the Surfaces. This latter was, per- 
haps, the two-act comedy which Sheridan announced 
to Mr. Linley in 1775, as being in preparation for 
the stage. The gradual amalgamation 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 extracts given by Moore. 
In the eyes of some small critics this revelation of 
Sheridan's laborious method of working, this exhibi- 
tion 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 
improvisation. Its symmetrical smoothness and per- 
fect polish cost great labott/ It did not spring full 
armed from the brain of- JW ; Jupiter 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 
attributes of the- highest genius. Balzac had them ; 
he spent the v, hole of one long winter night on a 
single sentei! had Sheridan ; he told Ridg- 

way, to whonfi h^lYad Sold the copyright of this very 
play, and who^^liBf for the manuscript again and 
again in vain. trrH9he had been for nineteen years 
endeavouring to satisfy himself with the style of the 
' SchoJ^^^^Kdal,' but had not yet succeeded. 
A di, f fhe first water, like this, is worth care- 

ful cutting^ find even the chips are of value. Those 



I2O THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

given to the world by Moore are curious in them- 
selves, 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 discredit 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 a satirical 
episode in the ' Misanthrope ' of Moliere, and on the 
likeness of Joseph Surface to Tartuffe. Taine, who 
seems sometimes to speak slightingly of Sheridan, 
puts this accusation into most effective shape : 
" Sheridan took two characters from Fielding, Blifil 
and Tom Jones, two plays of Moliere, ' Le Misan- 
thrope' and 'Tartuffe,' and from his puissant ma- 
terials, condensed with admirable cleverness, he has 
constructed the most brilliant fireworks imaginable." 

A glance at the play itself will show this to be a 
most exaggerated statement. The use of Moliere 
and Fielding is far sljg^er than alleged ; and at 
most to what does it all amount? But little more 
than the outline and faint colouring of two characters, 
and of a very few incidents, Jflfhile the play could 
not exist without them, they are far from the most 
important. Lady Teazle and Sir Peter, the screen- 
scene and the auction-scene these are what made 
the success of the ' School for Scandal,' and not what 
Sheridan may have derived from Fielding and 
Moliere. Nor is this borrowing at all as extensive 
as it may seem. Joseph is a hypocrite ^.so is Tar- 
tuffe, so is Blifil ; but there are hypocrites ,and hypo- 
crites, and -the resemblance can scarcely be stretched 
much farther. The rather rustic and if the. word 
may be risked vulgar Tom Jones id., as unlike as 



INTR OD UCTION. 1 2 1 

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 
1 School for Scandal.' Boaden has even seen the 
embryonic suggestion of the fall of the screen in 
the dropping of the rug in Molly Seagrim's room, 
discovering the philosopher Square. Now, Sheridan 
had a marvellous power of assimilation. He ex- 
tended 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. But 
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 indebted- 
ness to Moliere is even less than to Fielding. We 
may put on one side Sheridan's ignorance of French 
for in Colley Gibber's * Non-Juror,' or in Bicker- 
staff's ' Hypocrite,' he could find Moliere's Tartuffe ; 
and the scandal-loving Celimene of the * Misanthrope,' 
he might trace in Wycherley's ' Plain-Dealer.' If 
Sheridan had borrowed from Moliere 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 
Moliere is barely visible. It is almost as slight, in- 
deed, as the borrowing from the ' School for Scandal ' 
of which Madame de Girardin was guilty for her fine 
comedy, 'Lady Tartuffe.' In any case, Sheridan's 
indebtedness is less to the ' Misanthrope ' than to 
' Tartuffe ' and even here there is little resemblance 
beyond the generic likeness of all hypocrites. 
This resemblance, such as it is, the French adapters 
of the ' School for Scandal ' chose to emphasize by 
calling their version the ' Tartuffe des Mceurs.' 



122 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

Although Sheridan was in general original in in- 
cident, he unhesitatingly 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 him- 
self, he could boldly conquer and annex the wit of 
others, sure to increase its value by his orderly gov- 
ernment. 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 Moliere said, " I take my own where I find it." 
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-forgotten 
dreams, and the imagination in its fullest enjoy- 
ments becomes suspicious of its offspring, and 
doubts whether it has created or adopted." It is a 
curious coincidence that this very passage is quoted 
by Burgoyne to explain his accidental adoption, in 
the ' Heiress,' of an image of Ariosto's and Rous- 
seau's, which Byron did not scruple to use again in 
his monody on Sheridan himself : 

" Sighing that Nature formed but one such man, 
And broke the die in moulding Sheridan." 

In the * School for Scandal ' the construction, the 
ordering of the scenes, the development of the elabo- 
rate plot, is much better than in the comedies of 
any of Sheridan's contemporaries. A play in those 
days need not reveal a complete and self-contained 
plot. Great laxity of episode was not only permitted, 
but almost praised ; and that Sheridan, with a sub- 



INTR OD UCTION. 1 2 3 

ject which lent itself so readily to digression, should 
have limited himself as he did, shows his exact 
appreciation of the source of dramatic effect. But 
it must be confessed that the construction of the 
' School for Scandal/ when measured by our modern 
standards, seems a little loose a little diffuse, per- 
haps. It shows 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 
been so carefully concealed, and the whole structure 
has been overlaid with so much wit, that few people 
after seeing the play would care to complain. The 
wit is ceaseless ; and wit like Sheridan's would cover 
sins of construction far greater than those of the 
'School for Scandal.' It is "steeped in the very 
brine of conceit, and sparkles like salt in the 
fire." 

In his conception of character Sheridan was a wit 
rather than a humorist. He created character by a 
distinctly intellectual process; he did not bring it 
forth out of the depths, as it were, of his own being. 
His humour fine and dry as it was was the humour 
of the wit. He had little or none of the rich and 
juicy, nay, almost oily humour 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 Shakspere'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 



124 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

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 higher 
peak of Parnassus. In the front rank of the sec- 
ond 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 re- 
semblance 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 are, it is 
true, here and there blemishes to be detected on the 
general surface, an occasional hardness of feeling, 
an apparent lack, at times, of taste and delicacy 
for instance, the bloodthirsty way in which the scan- 
dal-mongers pounce upon their prey, the almost brutal 
expression by Lady Teazle of her willingness to be a 



INTRODUCTION. 12$ 

widow, the ironical speech of Charles after the fall of 
the screen ; but these are more the fault of the age 
than of the author. 

The great defect of the ' School for Scandal ' 
the one thing which shows the difference between a 
comic writer of the type of Sheridan and a great 
dramatist like Shakspere is the unvarying wit of 
the characters. And not only are the characters all 
witty, but they all talk alike. Their wit is Sheridan's 
wit, which is very good wit indeed ; but it is Sheri- 
dan's own, and not Sir Peter Teazle's, or Backbite's, 
or Careless's, or Lady Sneerwell's. It is one man 
in his time playing many parts. It is the one voice 
always ; though the hands be the hands of Esau, the 
voice is the voice of Jacob. And this quick wit and 
ready repartee is not confined to the ladies and gen- 
tlemen; the master is no better off than the man, and 
Careless airs the same wit as Charles. As Sheridan 
said in the ' Critic,' he was " not for making slavish 
distinctions in a free country, and giving all the fine 
language to the upper sort of people." It is a fact 
that the characters all talk too well ; the comedy 
would be far less entertaining if they did not. The 
stage is not life, and it is not meant to be ; a mere 
transcript of ordinary talk would be insufferable. 
Condensation* 'is necessary ; and selection also, 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 
Shakspere 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, characters of the 



126 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

1 School for Scandal/ but who of us would not if he 
could ? 

Wit of this kind is not to be had without labour. 
Because Sheridan 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 labour. 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 fastidious eye. Even in his 
early youth Sheridan had the faculty of toiling over 
his work to his immediate improvement ; his friend 
Halhed complimented 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 salt he sought the utmost refinement of 
language. An accomplished speaker himself, 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 



INTRODUCTION. I2/ 

for Scandal,' to burnish a bit of dialogue, or 
brighten a soliloquy, could never cost Sheridan, lazy 
though he was, too much labour. " This kind of 
writing," as M. Taine says, " artificial and condensed 
as the satires of La Bruyere, 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 obvious. 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 these shores. Ireland, in his ad- 
mirable ' Records of the New York Stage,' which 
it is always a duty and a pleasure to praise, noted 
what was probably its first performance in New York, 
on the evening of December 16, 1785, and on this 
occasion the comedy was cast to the full strength 
of the best company which had been then seen in 
America. Its success was instant and emphatic ; 
and from that day 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 were to 
be measured. Comedies were announced as " equal 
to the * School for Scandal,' or to any play of the 
century, the ' School for Scandal ' not excepted." 
This sort of " odorous comparison " continued to 
obtain for many years, and when some indiscreet 
admirer likened Mrs. Mowatt's * Fashion ' to Sheri- 
dan's comedy, Poe took occasion to point out that 
the general tone of ' Fashion ' was adopted from the 
1 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 



128 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

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 favourite 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 16, 1786, was first acted in this city the 
1 Contrast/ a comedy in five acts, by Royal Tyler, 
afterward Chief Justice of Vermont. It was the first 
American play performed on the public stage by pro- 
fessional comedians. It contained in Jonathan, acted 
by Wignell, the first of stage Yankees, and the pre- 
cursor, therefore, of Asa Trenchard, Colonel Mul- 
berry Sellers, and Judge Bardwell 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 hold- 
ing the theatre to be the " devil's drawing room," 
gets into it, however, in the belief that he is going 
to see a conjurer : 

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 
neighbour'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 ? 

Jonathan. Well, I vow, they were pretty much like other 
families ; there was a poor, good-natured curse of a husband, 
and a sad rantipole of a wife. 



INTRODUCTION. I2Q 

Jenny. But did you see no other folks ? 

Jonathan. Yes ; there was one youngster, they called him 
Mr. Joseph ; he talked as sober and as pious as a minister ; 
but, like some ministers that I know, he was a sly tike in his 
heart, for all that ; he was going to ask a young woman to 
spark it with him, and the Lord have mercy on my soul she 
was another man's wife ! 



It was in America also that two of the most note- 
worthy incidents in the career of the ' School for 
Scandal ' occurred. One took place during a visit to 
this country of Macready, who, early accustomed 
to enact the heavy villains of the stage, took a fancy 
to the part of Joseph, and, not finding it as promi- 
nent 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 performance 
of the careless hero was known as " Charles's 
Martyrdom." 

The second noteworthy incident was the perform- 
ance 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 Gov- 
ernor General of Canada, Lord Dufferin, the great- 
grandson of the author. 

In the same year that this memorable performance 



130 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

took place in a former French province, Miss Gene- 
vieve Ward, an American actress, appeared as Lady 
Teazle in Paris in a French version ; and the fore- 
most of Parisian dramatic critics, Francisque Sarcey 
seized the opportunity for a most interesting appre- 
ciation of the play. He considered it one of the 
best of the second class, and, as in his view the first 
class would contain few plays but those of Shakspere 
and Moliere, this is high praise. He ranked the 
1 School for Scandal ' with the ' Mariage de Figaro,' 
and instituted the comparison of Sheridan with 
Beaumarchais, which Taine had already attempted. 
But Sarcey held a more just as well as a more favour- 
able opinion of the ' School for Scandal ' than Taine. 
An earlier French critic, Villemain, who edited a 
close translation of the play for the series of foreign 
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 un- 
doubted 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 pos- 
sible." Sarcey informed 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 was also the opinion of M. H6ge'sippe Cler, 
who published a French translation of the * School 
for Scandal ' in 1879, ^h a preface, in which he 
declared that Sheridan'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 1 788 the auction and screen scenes 



INTR OD UCTION 1 3 1 

had been introduced into a little piece called the 
' Deux Neveux ' ; a year later a translation in French 
by Delille, with the permission, apparently, of Sheri- 
dan himself, was published in London. Certain 
episodes were utilized in the * Portraits de Famille,' 
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 J 
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 Theatre Francais ; 
it was called the ' Tartuffe des Mceurs.' A few 
years later, yet another version, ' L'Ecole du Scan- 
dale,' 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 
Tizle" . Oddly enough it was Mme. Dorval's husband, 
Merle, who was the cause of the first performance 
in France of the ' School for Scandal ' in English by 
English actors. Merle was one of the managers of 
the Port St.-Martin Theatre in 1822 ; and he ar- 
ranged for a series of performances by the company 
of the Brighton Theatre, then managed by Mr. Pen- 
ley. The British comedians opened their season 
with ' Othello ' ; but it was only seven years after 
Waterloo, and Shakspere was stormily received. 
For the second performance Sheridan took Shak- 
spere's place, and the ' School for Scandal ' was 
announced for Friday, August 2, 1822. But the day 
was unlucky, and the mob which took possession of 
the theatre would not allow the English comedy to 
be acted at all. It is interesting to note the change 
which took place in France in the short space of five 



132 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

years. In 1827, when the Covent Garden company 
appeared at the Odeon Theatre, they met with a 
cordial welcome ; and they began their season with 
Sheridan's other comedy, the ' Rivals.' 

The Germans were not behind the French in the 
enjoyment of the ' School for Scandal.' Shroder, 
the actor and author, went from Vienna to London 
no small journey, in the eighteenth century 
expressly for the purpose of seeing it acted. He 
understood English well, and attended every per- 
formance of the piece while he was in 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 
compact 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 fol- 
lowed 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 translations 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. Kabrajee, was produced, also with suc- 
cess, at the Esplanade Theatre in Bombay. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



DRAMATIS PERSONS, 

AS ORIGINALLY ACTED AT DRURY-LANE THEATRIC 
MAY 8, 1777. 



SIR PETER TEAZLE Mr. King. 

SIR OLIVER SURFACE .... Mr. Yates. 

SIR HARRY BUMPER . . . . . Mr. Gawdny. 

SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE .... Mr. Dodd. 

JOSEPH SURFACE Mr. Palmer. 

CHARLES SURFACE Mr. Smith. 

CARELESS . Mr.Farren. 

SNAKE Mr. Packer. 

CRABTREE Mr. Parsons. 

ROWLEY Mr. Aickin. 

MOSES Mr. Baddeley^ 

TRIP ...... Mr. Lamash. 

LADY TEAZLE Mrs. Abington, 

LADY SNEERWELL Miss Sherry. 

MRS. CANDOUR Miss Pope. 

MARIA Miss P. Hopit^ 

Gentlemen, Maid, and Servants. 



SCENE LONDON. 



A PORTRAIT: 

ADDRESSED TO MRS. CREWE, WITH THE COMEDY 
OF THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

.BY R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ. 



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 ! 
Attend, all ye who boast, or old or young, 
The living libel of a slanderous tongue ! 

135 



136 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

So shall my theme as far contrasted be, 

As saints by fiends, or hymns by calumny. 

Come, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name 

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

Come for but thee who seeks the muse ? and while 

Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile, 

With timid grace, and hesitating eye, 

The perfect model, which I boast, supply : 

Vain Muse ! could'st thou the humblest sketch create 

Of her, or slightest charm could'st imitate 

Could thy blest strain in kindred colours 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 Devon's eyes ! 

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

Whose judgment scorns the homage flattery pays ! 

But praising Amoret we cannot err, 

No tongue o'ervalues Heaven, or flatters her ! 

Yet she by fate's perverseness she alone 

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

Adorning fashion, unadorn'd by dress, 

Simple from taste, and not from carelessness ; 

Discreet in gesture, in deportment mild, 

Not stiff with prudence, nor uncouthly wild : 

No state has Amoret ; no studied mien ; 

She frowns no goddess, and she moves no queen. 

The softer charm that in her manner lies 

Is framed to captivate, yet not surprise ; 

It justly suits the expression of her face, 

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

On her pure cheek the native hue is such, 



A PORTRAIT. 137 

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 ! 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 to meet, 
In pard'ning dimples hope a safe retreat. 
What though her peaceful breast should ne'er allow 
Subduing frowns to arm her alter'd brow, 
By Love, I swear, and by his gentle wiles, 
More fatal still the mercy of her smiles ! 
Thus lovely, thus adorn 'd, possessing all 
Of bright or fair that can to woman fall, 
The height of vanity might well be thought 
Prerogative in her, and Nature's fault. 
Yet gentle Amoret, in mind supreme 



138 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

As well as charms, rejects the vainer theme ; 

And, half mistrustful of her beauty's store, 

She barbs with wit those darts too keen before : 

Read in all knowledge that her sex should reach, 

Though Greville, 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 Millar'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 hue of female doubt ; 

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

How graceful science, when that robe she wears ! 

Such too her talents, and her bent of mind, 

As speak a sprightly heart by thought refined : 

A taste for mirth, by contemplation school 'd, 

A turn for ridicule, by candour ruled, 

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 colours just the outline true, 
Thee my inspirer, and my model CREWE! 



PROLOGUE. 

WRITTEN BY MR. GARRICK. 



A SCHOOL for Scandal ! tell me, I beseech you, 
Needs there a school this modish art to teach you? 
No need of lessons now, the knowing think ; 
We might as well be taught to eat and drink. 
Caused by a dearth of scandal, should the vapours 
Distress our fair ones let them read the papers ; 
Their powerful mixtures such disorders hit ; 
Crave what you will there 's quantum sufficit. 
" Lord ! " cries my Lady Wormwood '(who loves tattle, 
And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle), 
Just risen at noon, all night at cards when threshing 
Strong tea and scandal " Bless me, how refreshing ! 
Give me the papers, Lisp how bold and free ! 

[Sips. 

Last mght Lord L. \Sips\ was -caught with Lady D. 
For aching heads what charming sal volatile ! [Sips. 
If Mrs. B. will still continue flirting, 
We hope she 7/ DRAW or we '// UNDRAW the curtain. 
Fine satire, poz in public all abuse it, 
But, by ourselves [Sips'], our praise we can't refuse it. 
Now, Lisp, read you there, at that dash and star." 
" Yes, ma'am A certain lord had best beware. 
Who lives not twenty miles from Grosvenor Square ; 
For, should he Lady W. find willing, 



I4O PROLOGUE. 

Wormwood is bitter" ' " Oh ! that's me! the 

villain ! 

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 '11 fight that 's write a cavalliero true, 
Till every drop of blood that 's ink is spilt for you. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

A COMEDY. 



ACT I. 

SCENE I. LADY SNEERWELL'S Dressing-room. 

LADY SNEERWELL discovered at the dressing-table; 
SNAKE drinking chocolate. 

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

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

Lady Sneer. Did you circulate the report of Lady 
Brittle 's intrigue 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 suc- 
cessful in her day. To my knowledge, she has been 
the cause of six matches being broken off, and three 
141 



142 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

sons being disinherited; of four forced elopements, 
and as many close confinements ; nine separate main- 
tenances, and two divorces. Nay, I have more than 
once traced her causing a tete-a-tete in the " Town 
and Country Magazine," when the parties, perhaps, 
had never seen each other's face before in the course 
of their lives. 

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

Snake. 'T is very true. She generally designs 
well, has a free tongue and a bold invention ; but her 
colouring is too dark, and her outlines often extrava- 
gant. She wants that delicacy of tint, and mellowness 
of sneer, which distinguish your ladyship's scandal. 

Lady Sneer. You are partial, Snake. 

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

Lady Sneer. Yes, my dear Snake ; and I am no 

hypocrite to deny the satisfaction I reap from the 

success of my efforts. Wounded myself, in the 

early part of my life, by the envenomed tongue of 

i slander, I confess I have since known no pleasure 

j equal to the reducing others to the level of my own 

i reputation. 

Snake. Nothing can be more natural. But, La^y 
Sneerwell, 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 neighbour, Sir Peter Teazle, and his family ? 

Snake. I do. Here are two young men, to whom 
Sir Peter has acted as a kind of guardian since their 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 143 

father's death ; the eldest possessing the most ami- 
able 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 favourite ; 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 ex- 
pectations 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 favoured 
rival, he has been obliged to mask his pretensions, 
and profit by my assistance. 

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

Lady Sneer. Heavens ! how dull you are ! Cannot 
you surmise the weakness which I hitherto, through 
shame, have concealed even from you ? Must I con- 
fess that Charles -ithat 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 consist- 
ent : but how came you and Mr. Surface so confi- 
dential ? 



144 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Lady Sneer. For our mutual interest. LL have 
i found him out a long time since. I know him to be 
artful, selfish, and malicious in short, a sentimen- 
tal knave^7 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 Peter vows he has not his 
equal in England and, above all, he praises him as 
a man of sentiment. 

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

Enter SERVANT. 

Serv. Mr. Surface. 

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. 

Enter 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 confidence is not ill 
placed. 

Jos. Surf. Madam, it is impossible for me to sus- 
pect a man of Mr. Snake's sensibility and discern- 
ment. 

Lady Sneer. Well, well, no compliments now ; but 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. J 45 

tell me when you saw your mistress, Maria -~ or > 
what is more material to me, your brother. 

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

Lady Sneer. Ah, my dear Snake'! the merit of this 
belongs to you. But do your brother's distresses 
increase ? 

Jos. Surf. Every hour. I am told he has had 
another execution in the house yesterday. In short, 
his dissipation and extravagance 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 es- 
sential 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 senti- 
ment 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 
understanding. 

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 Sneerwell, I am very sorry you have put any 
farther confidence in that fellow. 

Lady Sneer. Why so ? 

Jos. Surf. I have lately detected him in frequent 



146 SHERIDAN' S COMEDIES. 



ee with old Rowley, who was formerly my 
frvner'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 Sneerwell, that fellow has n't virtue 
enough to be faithful even to his own villainy. 
Ah, Maria! 

Enter MARIA. 

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

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

Lady S?ieer. Is that all ? 

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

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

Mar. Oh, he has, done nothing but 't is for 
what he has said : jjhis conyersation is a perpetual 
libel on all his acquaintance]. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, and the worst of it is, there is no 
advantage in not knowing him ; for he '11 abuse a 
stranger just as soon as his best friend : and his 
uncle 's as bad. 

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

Mar. For my part, I own, rnadam, wu *, ses its 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 147 

respect with me, when I see it in company with malice. 
What do you think, Mr. Surface ? 

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

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

Jos. Surf. To be sure, madam : that conversation, 
where the spirit of raillery is suppressed, will ever 
appear tedious and insipid. 

Mar. Well, I '11 not debate how far scandal may 
be allowable; but in a man, I am sure, it is always 
contemptible. We have pride, envy, rivalship, and a 
thousand motives to depreciate each other : but the 
male slanderer must have the cowardice of a woman 
before he can traduce one. 

Reenter SERVANT. 

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

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

Mar. Yes, [with a very gross affectation of good- 
nature and benevolence, she does more mischief than 
the direct malice of old Crabtreej 

Jos. Surf. I' faith that 's true, Lady Sneerwell : 
whenever I hear the curxent running against the 
characters of my friends^I-jiever think them in such 
danger as when Candour undertakes their defence. 

Lady Sneer. Hush 1 here she is 1 



148 SHERIDAN^ S COMEDIES. 

Enter MRS. CANDOUR. 

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

Jos. Surf. Just so, indeed, ma'am. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, Maria ! child, what, is the whole 
affair off between you and Charles ? His extrava- 
gance, I presume the town talks of nothing else. 

Mar. I am very sorry, ma'am, the town has so 
little to do. 

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

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

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

Mar. Such reports are highly scandalous. 

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

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



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 149 

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

Jos. Surf. The license of invention some people 
take is monstrous indeed. 

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

Mrs. Can. To be sure they are ; tale-bearers are 
as bad as the tale-makers 't is an old observation, 
and a very true one : but what 's to be done, as I said 
before ? how will you prevent people from talking ? 
To-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. 
Honeymoon were at last become mere man and wife, 
like the rest 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 Harjy 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, 1 Mr. Surface) I cannot bear 
to hear people attacked < behind their backs ; and 
when ugly circumstances icome out against our ac- 
quaintance ,1 own I always Jove to think the best; 
By the by, I hope 't is not true ^that your brother is 
absolutely ruined ? 

Jos. Surf. I am afraid his circumstances are very 
bad indeed, ma'am. 



150 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Mrs. Can. Ah ! I heard so but you must tell 
him ^ to keep up his spirits; everybody . almost is in 
the same way : Lord Spindle, Sir Thomas Splint, 
Captain Quinze, and Mr. Nickit s!Lup>' I hear,-* 
within this week ; so, if Charles is undone,- he '11 find 
half his acquaintance ruined too,i.and that, you know, 
is a consolation. 

Jos. Surf. Doubtless, ma'am a very great one. 

Reenter SERVANT. 

Serv. Mr. Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. 

\Exit SERVANT. 

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

Enter CRABTREE and SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE. 

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

Sir. Benj. Oh, fie, uncle ! 

Crab. Nay, egad it 's true ; I back him at a rebus 
or a charade against the best rhymer in the king- 
dom. Has your ladyship heard the epigram he 
wrote last week on Lady Frizzle's feather catching 
fire ? Do, Benjamin, repeat it, or the charade you 
made last night extempore at Mrs. Drowzje^s con- 
versazione. Come, now ; your first is the name of a 
fish, your second a great naval commander, and 

Sir Benj. Uncle, now pr'ythee 

Crab. I' faith, ma'am, 't would surprise you to hear 
how ready he is at all these fine sort of things. 

Lady Sneer. I wonder, Sir Benjamin, you never 
publish anything. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 151 

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

Crab. [To MARIA.] 'Fore heaven, ma'am, they '11 
immortalize you ! you will be handed down to 
posterity, like Petrarch's Laura, or Waller's Sacha- 
rissa. 

Sir Benj. \_To MARIA.] Yes, madam, I think you 
will like them, when you shall see them on a beauti- 
ful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall 
meander through a meadow of margin. 'Fore Gad 
they will be the most elegant things of their kind ! 

Crab. But, ladies, that 's true have you heard 
the news ? 

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

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 heard 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 Benj. O Lud ! ma'am, that 's the very reason 
'twas believed at once. She has always been so 



I $2 SHERIDAN* S COMEDIES. 

cautious and so reserved, that everybody was sure 
there was some reason for it at bottom. 

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

Sir Benj. True, madam, there are valetudinarians 
in reputation as well as constitution, who, being con- 
scious 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 how Miss Piper came to lose her 
lover and her character last summer at Tunbridge ? 
Sir Benjamin, you remember it ? 

Sir. Benj. Oh, to be sure! the most whimsical 
circumstance. 

Lady Sneer. How was it, pray ? 

Crab. Why, one evening, at Mrs. Ponto's assem- 
bly, the conversation happened to turn on the breed- 
ing Nova Scotia sheep in this country. Says a 
young lady in company, I have known instances of 
it ; for Miss Letitia Piper, a first cousin of mine, had 
a Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins. 
" What ! " cries the Lady Dowager Dundizzy (who 
you know is as deaf as a post), " has Miss Piper had 
twins ? " This mistake, as you may imagine, threw 
the whole company into a fit of laughter. However, 
't was the next morning everywhere reported, and in 
a few days believed by the whole town, that Miss 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 153 

Letitia Piper had actually been brought to bed of a 
fine boy and a girl : and in less than a week there 
were some people who could name the father, and 
the farmhouse where the babies were put to nurse. 

Lady Sneer. Strange, indeed ! 

Crab. Matter of fact, I assure you. O Lud ! Mr. 
Surface, pray is it true that your 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 returns, to hear how 
your brother has gone on ! 

Jos. Surf. Charles has been imprudent, sir, to be 
sure ; but I hope no busy people have already preju- 
diced Sir Oliver against him. He may reform. 

Sir Benj. To be sure he may : for my part, I 
never believed him to be so utterly void of principle 
as people say ; and, though he has lost all his friends, 
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 popular 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 splendour. 
They tell me, when he entertains his friends he will 
sit down to dinner with a dozen of his own securi- 
ties ; have a score of tradesmen waiting in the ante- 
chamber, and an officer behind every guest's chair. 

Jos. Surf. This maybe entertainment to you, gen- 
tlemen, but you pay very little regard to the feelings 
of a brother. 

Mar. \AsideI\ Their malice is intolerable ! 



154 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

[Aloud.'] Lady Sneerwell, I must wish you a good 
morning: I 'm not very well. [Exit MARIA. 

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

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

| Mrs. Can. That I will, with all my soul, ma'am. 
j Poor dear girl, who knows what her situation may 
/J3J [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 \&&y's penchant is obvious. 

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

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

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 

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

Crab. Oh, he has done many mean things, that 's 
certain. 

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

[ Going. 

Crab. We '11 tell you all another opportunity. 

[Exeunt CRABTREE and SIR BENJAMIN. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 155 

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

Jos. Surf. And I believe the abuse was no more 
acceptable to your ladyship than Maria. 

Lady Sneer. I doubt her affections are farther 
engaged than we imagine. But the family are to be 
here this evening, so you may as well dine where 
you are, and we shall have an opportunity of observ- 
ing farther ; in the meantime I '11 go and plot mis- 
chief, and you shall study sentiment. \_Exeunt.\ 



SCENE II. A Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE'S House. 
Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE. 

Sir Peter. When an old bachelor marries a young 
wife, what is he to expect ? 'T is now six months 
since Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men 
tand I have been the most miserable dog ever since ! 
We tifted a little going to church, and fairly quar- 
relled before the bells had done ringing. I was 
more than once nearly choked with gall during the 
honeymoon, and had lost all comfort in life before 
my friends had done wishing me joy. Yet I chose 
with caution r a girl bred wholly in the country, who 
never knew luxury beyond one silk gown, nor. dissi- 
pation above the annual gala of a race ball/ Yet 
she now plays her part in all ( the extravagant fopper- 
ies of fashion and the town^Jvith as ready a grace as 
if she never had seen a bush or a grass-plot out 
of Grosvenor Square! J am sneered at by all my 
acquaintance, and paragraphed in the newspapers* 
She dissipates my fortune, and contradicts all my 
humours ; yet the worst of it is, I dojubtJL love her, or 



156 SHERIDAN' 'S COMEDIES. 

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 yesterday ? 

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? 

I' Row. Come, come, Sir Peter, you love her, not- 
Ajdthstanding 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 temper ; and so I tell her a 
j| hundred times a day. 

Row. Indeed ! 

Sir Peter. Ay ; and what is very extraordinary, in 
all our disputes she is always in the wrong ! But 
Lady Sneerwell, and the set she meets at her house, 
encourage the perverseness of her disposition. 
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 resolved on for her hus- 
band ; meaning, I suppose, to bestow herself on his 
profligate brother. 

Row. You know, Sir Peter, I have always taken 
the liberty to differ with you on the subject of these 
two young gentlemen. I only wish you may not be 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 157 

deceived in your opinion of the elder. For Charles, 
my life on 't ! he will retrieve his errors yet. Their 
worthy father, once my honoured master, was, at his 
years, nearly as wild a spark ; yet, when he died, he 
did not leave a more benevolent heart to lament his 
loss. 

Sir Peter. You are wrong, Master Rowley. On 
their father's death, you know, I acted as a kind of 
guardian to them both, till their uncle Sir Oliver's 
liberality gave them an early independence : of 
course, no person could have more opportunities of 
judging of tjieir hearts, and I was never mistaken 
in my life, f Joseph is indeed a model of the young 
men of the ctg'eT 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 of virtue by 
descent, he has dissipated it with the rest of his 
inheritance. Ah ! my old friend, Sir Oliver, will be 
deeply mortified when he finds how part of his bounty 
has been misapplied. 

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

Sir Peter. What ! let me hear. 

Row. Sir Oliver is arrived, and at this moment in 
town. 

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

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

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



158 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Row. 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 together, 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 disagree. 

Row. By no means. 

Sir Peter. For I should never be able to stand Noll's 
jokes ; so I '11 have him think, Lord forgive me ! that 
we are a very happy couple. 

Row. 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 that 's 
impossible. Ah ! Master Rowley, when an old 
bachelor marries a young wife, he deserves no 
the crime carries its punishment along with it. 

\Exeunt, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, 159 



ACT II. 

SCENE I. A Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE'S House. 
Enter SIR PETER and LADY TEAZLE. 

Sir Peter. Lady Teazle, Lady Teazle, I '11 not 
bear it! 

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

Sir Peter. Very well, ma'am, very well ; so a 
husband is to have no influence, no authority ? 

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

Sir Peter. Old enough ! ay, there it is. Well, 
well, Lady Teazle, though my life may be made un- 
happy by your temper, I '11 not be ruined by your 
extravagance ! 

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

Sir Peter. No, no, madam, you shall throw away 
no more sums on such unmeaning luxury. 'Slife ! 
to spend as much to furnish your dressing-room with 



160 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the Pan- 
theon into a greenhouse, and give a fete champetre at 
Christmas. 

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

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 dis- 
agreeable 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, 'twas 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 fox-chase. 

Sir Peter. I am glad you have so good a memory. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. l6l 

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

Lady Teaz. No I swear I never did that: I deny 
the butler and the coach-horse. 

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

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

Sir Peter. My widow, I suppose ? 

Lady Teaz. Hem ! hem ! 

Sir Peter. I thank you, madam but don't flatter 
yourself ; for, though your ill conduct may disturb 
my peace of mind, it shall never break my heart, I 
promise you : however, I am equally obliged to you 
for the hint. 

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

Sir Peter. 'Slife, madam, I say, had you any of 
these little elegant expenses when you married 
me ? 

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

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

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



1 62 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Sir Peter. Ay there again taste ! Zounds 1 
madam, you had no taste when you married me ! 

Lady Teaz. That 's very true, indeed, Sir Peter 1 
and after having married you, I should never pretend 
to taste again, I allow. But now, Sir Peter, since 
we have finished our daily jangle, I presume I may 
go to my engagement at Lady Sneerwell's. 

Sir Peter, Ay, there 's another precious circum- 
stance a charming set of acquaintance you have 
made there ! 

Lady Teaz. Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of 
rank and fortune, and remarkable tenacious of repu- 
tation. 

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

Lady Teaz. 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. jJBut I v vow I bear no malice against 
the people I abuse^- When I say an ill-natured 
thing, 't is out of pure good humour ; and I take it for 
granted they deal exactly in the same manner with 
me. But, Sir Peter, you know you promised to come 
to Lady Sneerwell's too. 

Sir Peter. Well, well, I '11 call in, just to look 
after my own character. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 163 

Lady Teaz. Then, indeed, you must make haste 
after me, or you '11 be too late. So good-by to ye. 

[Exit LADY TEAZLE. 

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



SCENE II. A Room in LADY SNEERWELL'S House. 

LADY SNEERWELL, MRS. CANDOUR, CRABTREE, SIR 
BENJAMIN BACKBITE, and JOSEPH SURFACE, dis- 
covered. 

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

Jos. Surf. Yes, yes, the epigram, by all means. 

Sir Benj. O plague on 't, uncle ! 't is mere non- 
sense. 

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

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

Sure never was seen two such beautiful ponies ; 
Other horses are clowns, but these macaronies : 
To give them this title I 'm sure can't be wrong, 
Their legs are so slim and their tails are so long. 



164 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

Jos. Surf. [ A very Phoebus, mounted! indeed, Sir 
Benjamin ! i- 

Sir Benj. Oh dear, sir ! trifles trifles. 

Enter LADY TEAZLE and MARIA. 

Mrs. Can. I must have a copy. 

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

Lady Teaz. I believe he '11 wait on your ladyship 
presently. 

Lady 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 how- 
ever, I '11 do as your ladyship pleases. 

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 scan- 
dalous, I '11 forswear your society. 

Lady Teaz. What 's the matter, Mrs. Candour ? 

Mrs. Can. They '11 not allow our friend Miss Ver- 
million to be handsome. 

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 colour. 

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

Mrs. Can. O, fie ! I '11 swear her colour is natural : 
I have seen it come and go ! 

Lady Teaz. 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 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 165 

goes ; but, what 's more, egad, her maid can fetch 
and carry it I 

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

Sir Benj . Nay, now,- Lady Sneerwell, you are 
severe upon the widow. Come, come, 't is not that 
she paints so ill but, when she has finished her 
face, she joins it on so badly to her neck, that she 
looks like a mended statue, in which the connoisseur 
may see at once that the head is modern, though the 
trunk 's antique. 

Crab. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, nephew. 

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

Sir Benj. Why, she has very pretty teeth. 

Lady Teaz. Yes ; and on that account, when she 
is neither speaking nor laughing (which very seldom 
happens), she never absolutely shuts her mouth, but 
leaves it always on a-jar, as it were thus. 

[Shows her teeth. 

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



1 66 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Lady Teaz. Nay, I allow even that 's better than 
the pains Mrs. Prim takes to conceal her losses in 
front. She draws her mouth till it positively resem- 
bles the aperture of a poor's-box, and all her words 
appear to slide out edgewise, as it were thus : 
How do you do, madam ? Yes, madam. \Mimics. 

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

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

Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE. 

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

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

Sir Peter. That must be very distressing to you, 
indeed, Mrs. Candour. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, they will allow good qualities to 
nobody ; not even good nature to our friend, Mrs. 
Pursy. 

Lady Teaz. 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 Teaz. 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 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 167 

like a drummer's and puffing round the Ring on a 
full trot. 

Mrs. Can. I thank you, Lady Teazle, for defend- 
ing 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 Sallow is a near relation of mine by 
marriage, and, as for her person, great allowance is 
to be made ; for, let me tell you, a woman labours 
under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a 
girl of six-and- thirty. 

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, consider- 
ing 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 ! you are both of you too good-na- 
tured ! 

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

Mrs. Can.\J?Qi my part, I own I cannot bear to 
hear a friend ill spoken of. 

Sir Peter. No, to be sure ! 

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



168 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Lady Teaz. Nay, I vow Lady Stucco is very well 
with the dessert after dinner ; for she 's just like the 
French fruit one cracks for mottoes made up of 
paint and proverb. 

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

Crab. Oh, to be sure ! she has herself the oddest 
countenance that ever was seen ; 't is a collection 
of features from all the different countries of the 
globe. 

Sir Benj. So she has, indeed an Irish front 

Crab. Caledonian locks 

Sir Benj. Dutch nose 

Crab. Austrian lips 

Sir Benj. Complexion of a Spaniard 

Crab. And teeth a la Chinoise 

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

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

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! 

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

Lady Sneer. Go, go ; you are a couple of provok- 
ing 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 stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 169 

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 your- 
self 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 Teaz. 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 Teaz. 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 im- 
portance 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 repu- 
tations, 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. 



I/O SHERIDAN 1 S COMEDIES. 

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 in- 
ventions are founded on some ridiculous misrepre- 
sentation. 

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 unperceived. \Aside. 

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

Sir Peter. Your ladyship must excuse me ; I 'm 
called away by particular business. But I leave my 
character behind me. \Exit SIR PETER. 

Sir Benj. Well certainly jVLady 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 humour, Heaven grant me a double portion 
of dulness ! 

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

Mar. Then is their conduct still more contempt- 
ible ; for, in my opinion, nothing could excuse the 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. \J\ 

intemperance of their tongues but a natural and un- 
controllable bitterness of mind. 

Jos. Surf. Undoubtedly, madam ; and it has always 
been a sentiment of mine, that to propagate a mali- 
cious truth wantonly is more despicable than to fal- 
sify 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, St. Peter's will, but 
that I see that profligate Charles is still a favoured 
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. 

Reenter 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 ! 

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 



1/2 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

concern I have for your happiness, and threatened 
to acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions, and I was 
just endeavouring to reason with her when you came 
in. 

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

Jos. Surf. Oh, she ? s a child, and I thought a little 

bombast But, Lady Teazle, when are you to give 

me your judgment on my library, as you promised ? 

Lady Teaz. No, no ; I begin to think it would be 
imprudent, and you know I admit you as a lover no 
farther than fashion requires. 

Jos. Surf. True a mere Platonic cicisbeo, 
what every wife is entitled to. 

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

Jos. Surf. The only revenge in your power. 
Well, I applaud your moderation. 

Lady Teaz. 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 Teaz. 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 ingra- 
tiate 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 such a point of gaining so 
very good a character, for it has led me into so many 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 1/3 

cursed rogueries that I doubt I shall be exposed at 
last. [Exit. 



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 mar- 
ried, hey ? a young wife out of the country. Ha ! 
ha! ha! that he should have stood bluff to old bach- 
elor so long, and sink into a husband at last ! 

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 months. 

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, 
anol 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- 
bourhood, 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 favourite. 

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 



174 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

not turned against him, and that the son of my good 

old master has one friend, however, left. 
r Sir Oliv. What ! shall I forget, Master Rowley, 

when I was at his years myself ? Egad, my brother 

and I were neither of us very prudent youths ; and 
\ yet, I believe, you have not seen many better men 

than your old master was ? 

Row. Sir, 't is this reflection gives me assurance 

that Charles may yet be a credit to his family. 

But here comes Sir Peter ! 

Sir Oliv. Egad, so he does ! Mercy on me ! he 's 

greatly altered, and seems to have a settled married 

look ! ..One may read husband in his face at this 

distance ! 

Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE. 

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

Sir Oliv. Thank you, thank you, Sir Peter ! and 
i' faith I am glad to find you well, believe me ! 

Sir Peter. Oh ! \ is a long time since we met 
fifteen years, I doubt, Sir Oliver, and many a cross 
accident in the time. 

Sir Oliv. 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. [Aside to SIR OLIVER.] Take care, pray, 
sir. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 175 

Sir Oliv. Well, so one of my nephews is a wild 
rogue, hey? 

Sir Peter. Wild ! Ah ! my old friend, I grieve for 
your disappointment there; he 's a lost young man, 
indeed. However, his brother will make you amends ; 
Joseph is, indeed, what a youth should be every- 
body in the world speaks well of h,ifl&. 

Sir Oliv. I am sorry to hear it j^-he has too good a 
character to be an honest fellow. Everybody speaks 
well of him ! Pshaw ! then 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 con- 
verse ; he professes the noblest sentiments. 

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, however, don't mistake 
me, Sir Peter ; I don't mean to defend Charles's 
errors : but, before I form my judgment of either of 
them, I intend to make a trial of their hearts ; and 
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 honour ! 

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

Sir Peter. Allans, then ! 

Sir Oliv. And don't, Sir Peter, be so severe 



1/6 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

against your old friend's son. Odds my life! I am 
not sorry that he has run out of the course a little : 
for my part, I hate to see prudence clinging to the 
green suckers of youth ; 't is like ivy round a sap- 
ling, and spoils the growth of the tree. [Exeunt. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



ACT III. 

SCENE I. A Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE'S House. 

Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE, SIR OLIVER SURFACE, and 
ROWLEY. 

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

Roiv. Why, sir, this Mr. Stanley, whom I was 
speaking of, is nearly related to them by their 
mother. He was once a merchant in Dublin, but 
has been ruined by a series of undeserved misfor- 
tunes. He has applied, by letter, both to Mr. Sur- 
face and Charles : from the former he has received 
nothing but evasive promises of future service, while 
Charles has done all that his extravagence has left 
him power to do ; and he is, at this time, endeavour- 
ing 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, I 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 
judging, at least, of the benevolence of their disposi- 



178 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

tions : and believe me, sir, you will find in the 
youngest brother one who, in the midst of folly and 
dissipation, has still as our immortal bard expresses 
it, 

"a heart to pity, and a hand, 
I Open as day, 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 Charles's affairs ? 

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 upstairs. 

[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 another 
evidence in my power, one Snake, whom I have de- 
tected 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 is Sir Oliver. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 179 

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 ; but he was ruined before he came to me for 
assistance. 

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

Mos'. None at all ; I had n't the pleasure of know- 
ing his distresses till he was some thousands worse 
than nothing. 

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

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

Sir Peter. What one Charles has never had 
money from before ? 

Mos. Yes, Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars, 
formerly a broker. 

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

Mos. Not at all. 

Sir Peter. Now then, Sir Oliver, you may have a 
better opportunity of satisfying yourself than by an 
old romancing tale of a poor relation ! go with my 
friend Moses, and represent Premium, and then, I '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 may visit Joseph afterwards as old 
Stanley. 

Sir Peter. True so you may. 

Row. Well, this is taking Charles rather at a dis- 



180 SHE RID AN 1 S COMEDIES. 

advantage, to be sure. However, Moses, you under- 
stand Sir Peter, and will be faithful ? 

Mas. You may depend upon me. [Looks at his 
watch.] This is near the time I was to have gone. 

Sir Oliv. I '11 accompany you as soon as you 

please, Moses But hold ! I have forgot one 

thing how the plague shall I be able to pass for 
a Jew? 

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 char- 
acter, 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 cer- 
tainly 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 ? 

Mos. 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 immediately. 

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. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. l8l 

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

Sir Peter. I' faith, 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. 

Mos. Very much. 

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

Mos. 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 Oliv. Oh, never fear ! my tutor appears so able, 



1 82 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 con- 
vinced : 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 '11 
hear what he has to say presently. I see Maria, and 
want to speak with her. [Exit ROWLEY.] I should 
be glad to be convinced my suspicions of Lady Teazle 
and Charles were unjust. I have never yet opened 
my mind on this subject to my friend Joseph I am 
determined I will do it he will give me his opinion 
sincerely. 

Enter MARIA. 

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

Mar. No, sir ; he was engaged. 

Sir Peter. Well, Maria, do you 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 subject distresses me extremely you com- 
pel 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, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 183 

if, while my understanding severely condemns his 
vices, my heart suggests some pity for his distresses. 

Sir Peter. 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. 'T is true, by my father's will, I am for a 
short period bound to regard you as his substi- 
tute ; but must cease to think you so, when you 
would compel me to be miserable. [Exit MARIA. 

Sir Peter. Was ever man so crossed as I am ? 
everything conspiring to fret me ! I had not been 
involved in matrimony a fortnight, before her father, 
a hale and hearty man, died, on purpose, I believe, 
for the pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his 
daughter. [Lady Teazle sings without I\ But here 
comes my helpmate ! She appears in great good 
humour. How happy I should be if I could tease 
her into loving me, though but a little 1 

Enter LADY TEAZLE. 

Lady Teaz. Lud ! \ Sir Peter, I hope you have n't 
been quarrelling with !Vgia.? \ Iris not using me 
wellito be ill-humoured when I am not by. 

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

Lady Teaz. I am sure J wish I had ; for I want 
you to be in a charming sweet temper? at this mo- 
ment. Do be good-humoured now, and let me have* 
two hundred pounds, will you ? 



1 84 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Sir Peter. Two hundred pounds ; what, ar 
be in a good humour without paying for it 
speak to me thus, and i' faith there 's nothing 1 could 
refuse you. You shall have it ; but seal me a bond 
for the repayment. 

^Lady Teaz. Oh, no there my note of hand 
w'ill do as well. ^Offering her hand. 

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

Lady Teaz. If you please. I ; m sure I don't care 
how soon we leave off quarrelling, provided you '11 
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. You look now. as you did "before we 
were married, when you used to walk with meander 
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 met 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 ridicule. 

Sir Peter. Indeed ! 

Lady Teaz. Ay, \ and when my cousin Sophy t 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, 1 
I didn't think you so ugly by any means. 

Sir Peter. Thank you. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 185 

Teaz. And I dared say you 'd make a very 
- t of a husband. 

Sir j. der. 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 clear, if you recollect, my love, you always began 
first. 

Lady Teaz. I beg your pardon,uny dear Sir Peter : 
indeed you always 'gave the provocation. V 

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

Lady Teaz. Then don't you begin it,imy love ! 

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

Lady Teaz. Nay, you know if you will be angry 
without any reason, my dear 

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

Lady Teaz. No,jl 'm sure I don't: but if you will 
be so peevish 

Sir Peter. There now ! who begins first ? 

Lady Teaz. Why, you,\to be sure.' I. said nothing 
but there 's no bearing your temper. 

Sir Peter. No, no, madam : the fault 's in your own 
temper. 

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

Sir Peter. Your cousin Sophy is a forward, imperti- 
nent gipsy. 

Lady Teaz. You are a great bear, I 'm sure, to 
abuse my relations. 



1 86 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

Lady Teaz. So much the better. 

Sir Peter. No, no, madam : 't is evident you never 
cared a pin for me, and I was a madman to marry 
you a pert, rural coquette, that had refused half 
the honest 'squires in the neighbourhood ! 

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

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

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

Sir Peter. I have done with you, madam ! You 
are an unfeeling, ungrateful but there 's an end of 
everything. I believe you capable of everything 
that is bad. Yes, madam, I now believe the reports 
relative to you and Charles, madam. Yes, madam, 
you and Charles are, not without grounds 

Lady Teaz. Take care, Sir Peter ! you had better 
not insinuate any such thing ! I '11 not be suspected 
without cause, I promise you. 

Sir Peter. Very well, madam ! very well ! A sepa- 
rate maintenance as soon as you please. Yes, madam, 
or a divorce ! I '11 make an example of myself for the 
benefit of all old bachelors. Let us separate, madam. 

Lady Teaz. 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 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 187 

know : ha ! ha ! ha ! Well, you are going to be in a 
passion, I see, and I shall only interrupt you so, 
by ! by ! [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 presuming to keep her 
temper : no ! she may break my heart, but she shan't 
keep her temper. [Exit. 

SCENE II. A Room in CHARLES SURFACE'S House. 
Enter TRIP, MOSES, and SIR OLIVER SURFACE. 

Trip. Here, Master Moses ! if you '11 stay a mo- 
ment, I '11 try whether what 's the gentleman's 
name? 

Sir Oliv. 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 would n'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 sell- 
ing it to him was more reprehensible by half. 

Reenter TRIP. 

Trip. My master says you must wait, gentlemen : 
he has company, and can't speak with you yet. 



1 88 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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

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

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 pleas- 
ant 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 basti- 
nadoes. [Aside. 

Trip. And a propos, 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. \Aside. 

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 ! 

[Aside. 

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. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 189 

Sir Oliv. It is more than I would your neck. 

{Aside. 

Mos. But is there nothing you could deposit ? 

Trip. Why, nothing capital of my master's ward- 
robe has dropped lately ; but I could give you a 
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 secu- 
rity hey, my little fellow ? 

Mos. Well, well. \Bell rings. 

Trip. Egad, I heard the bell ! I believe, gentle- 
men, 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 GENTLEMEN, discovered drinking. 

Chas. Surf. 'Fore heaven, 't is true ! there 's the 
great degeneracy of the age. Many of our acquain- 
tance 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 so- 
ciety 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 



I go SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

all the pertness and flatulency of champagne, with- 
out its spirit or flavour. 

ist Gent. But what are they to do who love play 
better than wine ? 

Care. True ! there 's Sir Harry diets himself for 
gaining, and is now under a hazard regimen. 

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

All. Hey, what? 

Chas. Surf. At least I never feel my losses, which 
is exactly the same thing. 

2d Gent. Ay, that I believe. 

Chas. Surf. And then, what man can pretend to 
be a believer in love, who is an abjurer of wine ? 
'T is the test by which the lover knows his own 
heart. Fill a dozen bumpers to a dozen beauties, 
and she that floats at the top is the maid that has 
bewitched you. 

Care. Now then, Charles, be honest, and give us 
your real favourite. 

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 impossible 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 1 

AIL Maria! 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 191 

Chas. Surf. But now, Sir Harry, beware, we must 
have beauty superlative. 

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. 

SONG. 

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. 

Chorus. Let the toast pass, 

Drink to the lass, 
I '11 warrant she '11 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. 

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 

Here 's to the maid with a bosom of snow : 
Now to her that 's as brown as a berry, 

Here 's to the wife with a face full of woe, 
And now to the damsel that 's merry. 

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim, 

Young or ancient, I care not a feather; 

So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim, 

So fill up your glasses, nay, fill to the brim, 

And let us e'en toast them together. 

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 
All. Bravo ! bravo ! 



1 92 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Enter TRIP, and whispers CHARLES SURFACE. 

Chas. Surf. Gentlemen, you must excuse me a 
little, Careless, take the chair, will you ? 

Care. Nay, pr'ythee, Charles, what now ? This 
is one of your peerless beauties, I suppose, has 
dropped in by chance ? 

Chas. Surf. No, faith ! To tell you the truth, 't is 
a Jew and a broker, who are come by appointment. 

Care. Oh, damn it ! let 's have the Jew in. 

ist Gent. Ay, and the broker too, by all means. 

2d Gent. Yes, yes, the Jew and the broker. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, with all my heart ! Trip, bid 
the gentlemen walk in. [Exit TRIP.] Though 
there 's one of them a stranger, I can tell you. 

Care. Charles, let us give them some generous 
Burgundy, and perhaps they '11 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. 

Reenter TRIP, with SIR OLIVER SURFACE and 
MOSES. 

Chas. Surf. So, honest Moses ; walk in, pray, Mr. 
Premium that 's the gentleman's name, is n't it, 
Moses ? 

Mos. Yes, sir. 

Chas. Surf. Set chairs, Trip. Sit down, Mr. Pre- 
mium. Glasses, Trip. [Gives chairs and glasses, 
and exit.} Sit down, Moses. Come, Mr. Premium, 
I '11 give you a sentiment ; here 's Success to usury ! - 
Moses, fill the gentleman a bumper. 

Mos. Success to usury ! [Drinks. 

Care. Right, Moses usury is prudence and in- 
dustry, and deserves to succeed. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 193 

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. 

ist Gent. A pint bumper, at least. 

Mos. Oh, pray, sir, consider Mr. Premium 's a 
gentleman. 

Care. And therefore loves good wine. 

2d Gent. Give Moses a quart glass this is mu- 
tiny, and a high contempt for the chair. 

Care. Here, now for 't ! I '11 see justice done, to 
the last drop of my bottle. 

Sir Oliv. Nay, pray, gentlemen I did not expect 
this usage. 

Chas. Surf. No, hang it, you shan't ; Mr. Pre- 
mium '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 gentlemen ? 

Chas. Surf. I will ! I will ! \_Exeunt SIR HARRY 
BUMPER and GENTLEMEN ; CARELESS following. ~\ 
Careless ! 

Care. [Returning.'] Well! 

Chas. Surf. Perhaps I may want you. 

Care. Oh, you know I am always ready: word, 
note, or bond, \ is all the same to me. [Exit. 

Mos. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a gentleman of 
the strictest honour and secrecy ; and always per- 
forms what he undertakes. Mr. Premium, this 



Chas. Surf. Pshaw ! have done. Sir, my friend 



IQ4 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, no, sir ! plain dealing in business 
I always think best. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I like you the better for it. How- 
ever, you are mistaken in one thing; I have no 
money to lend, but I believe I could procure some 
of a friend ; but then he 's an unconscionable dog. 
Is n't he, Moses ? 

Mos. But you can't help that. 

Sir Oliv. And must sell stock to accommodate 
you. Must n'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 gen- 
erally do. But these are trifles, Mr. Premium. 
What ! I know money is n'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 ? 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 195 

Chas. Surf. Nothing but live stock and that 's 
only a few pointers and ponies. But pray, Mr. Pre- 
mium, 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 expecta- 
tions ? 

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 favourite, 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 '11 swear to 't. 

Sir Oliv. Egad, they '11 persuade me presently I 'm 
at Bengal. [Aside. 

Chas. 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. 

Sir Oliv. Not more than I should, I assure you. 
But the bond you mention happens to be just the 
worst security you could offer me for I might live 
to a hundred and never see the principal. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, yes, you would ! the moment Sir 
Oliver dies, you know, you would come on me for 
the money. 



1 96 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Sir Oliv. Then I believe I should be the most 
unwelcome dun you ever had in your life. 

Chas. Surf. What ! I suppose you 're afraid that 
Sir Oliver is too good a life ? 

Sir Oliv. No, indeed I am not ; though I have 
heard he is as hale and healthy as any man of his 
years in Christendom. 

Chas. Surf. There, again, now you are misin- 
formed. No, no, the climate has hurt him consider- 
ably, poor uncle Oliver. Yes, yes, he breaks apace, 
I 'm told and is so much altered lately that his 
nearest relations don't know him. 

Sir Oliv. No ! Ha ! ha ! ha I so much altered 
lately that his nearest relations don't know him ! 
Ha! ha! ha! egad ha! ha! ha! 

Chas. Surf. Ha ! ha ! you 're glad to hear that, 
little Premium? 

Sir Oliv. No, no, I 'm not. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, you are ha! ha! ha! 
you know that mends your chance. 

Sir Oliv. But I 'm told Sir Oliver is coming over ; 
nay, some say he is actually arrived. 

Chas. Surf. Pshaw ! sure I must know better than 
you whether he 's come or not. No, no, rely on 't 
he 's at this moment at Calcutta. Is n't he, Moses ? 

Mas. Oh, yes, certainly. 

Sir Oliv. Very true, as you say, you must know 
better than I, though I have it from pretty good 
authority. Have n't I, Moses ? 

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 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 197 

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 corporation-bowls ! \AloudI\ Then it was 
also supposed that his library was one of the most 
valuable and compact 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, so it was vastly too much 
so for a private gentleman. For my part, I was 
always of a communicative disposition, so I thought 
it a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself. 

Sir Oliv. \_AsideJ] Mercy upon me ! learning that 
had run in the family like an heir-loom \AloudI\ 
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 'em 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 great-uncles and aunts ? 

Chas. Surf. Ay, and my great-grandfathers and 
grandmothers too. 

Sir Oliv. \Aside.~\ Now I give him up ! \_Aloud.~\ 
What the plague, have you no bowels for your own 
kindred ? Odd's life ! do you take me for Shy lock 



198 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

in the play, that you would raise money of me on 
your own flesh and blood ? 

C/ias. Surf. Nay, my little 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 I 
can dispose of the family canvas. \Aside.~\ Oh, I '11 
never forgive him this ! never ! 

Reenter CARELESS. 

Care. Come, Charles, what keeps you? 

Chas. Surf. I can't come yet. I' faith, we are 
going to have a sale above-stairs ; here 's little Pre- 
mium will buy all my ancestors ! 

Care. Oh, burn your ancestors ! 

Chas. Surf. No, he may do that afterwards, if he 
pleases. Stay, Careless, we want you : egad, you 
shall be auctioneer so come along with us. 

Care. Oh, 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 ! [Aside. 

Chas. 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 ! \Aside I\ 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 him ; never ! never ! 

[Exeunt. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 199 



ACT IV. 

SCENE I. A Picture Room in CHARLES SURFACE'S 
House. 

Enter CHARLES SURFACE, SIR OLIVER SURFACE, 
MOSES, and CARELESS. 

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 volontiere grace or 
expression. Not like the works of your modern 
Raphaels, who give you the strongest resemblance, 
yet contrive to make your portrait independent of 
you ; so that you may sink the original and not 
hurt the picture. No, no ; 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 
purpose. 

Care. Ay, ay, this will do. But, Charles, I 
have n't a hammer ; and what 's an auctioneer with- 
out his hammer? 



2OO SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, that 's true. What parchment 
have we here ? Oh, our genealogy in full. [Taking 
pedigree down."] Here, Careless, you shall have no 
common bit of mahogany, here 's the family tree for 
you, you rogue ! This shall be your hammer, and 
now you may knock down my ancestors with their 
own pedigree. 

Sir Oliv. What an unnatural rogue ! an ex post 
facto parricide ! [Aside. 

Care. Yes, yes, here 's a list of your generation 
indeed ; faith, Charles, this is the most convenient 
thing you could have found for the business, for 
't will not only serve as a hammer, but a catalogue 
into the bargain. Come, begin A-going, a-going, 
a-going ! 

Chas. Surf. Bravo, Careless ! W T ell, here 's my 
great-uncle, Sir Richard Raveline, a marvellous good 
general in his day, I assure you. He served in all 
the Duke of Marlborough's wars, and got that cut 
over his eye at the battle of Malplaquet. What say 
you, Mr. Premium ? look at him there 's a hero ! 
not cut out of his feathers, as your modern clipped 
captains are, but enveloped in wig and regimentals, 
as a general should be. What do you bid ? 

Sir Oliv. [Aside to Moses.] Bid him speak. 

Mos. Mr. Premium would have you speak. 

Chas. Surf. Why, then, he shall have him for ten 
pounds, and I 'm sure that 's not dear for a staff- 
officer. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside] Heaven deliver me ! his fa- 
mous uncle Richard for ten pounds! [Aloud.] 
Very well, sir, I take him at that. 

Chas. Surf. Careless, knock down my uncle 
Richard. Here, now, is a maiden sister of his, my 
great-aunt Deborah, done by Kneller, thought to be 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2OI 

in his best manner, and a very formidable likeness. 
There she is, you see, a shepherdess feeding her 
flock. You shall have her for five pounds ten the 
sheep are worth the money. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside. ~\ Ah! poor Deborah! a woman 
who set such a value on herself ! \AIoud7\ Five 
pounds ten she 's mine. 

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. 

Chas. Surf. Well, take that couple for the same. 

Mos. 'T is a good bargain. 

Chas. Surf. Careless ! This, now, is a grand- 
father of my mother's, a learned judge, well known 
on the western circuit. What do you rate him at, 
Moses ? 

Mos. Four guineas. 

Chas. 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 ! 

Chas. 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 honour of parlia- 
ment. 



2O2 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Care. Well said, little Premium ! I '11 knock them 
down at forty. 

Chas. 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. 

Chas. Surf. Come, make it guineas, and I '11 throw 
you the two aldermen there into the bargain. 

Sir Oliv. They 're mine. 

Chas. Surf. Careless, knock down the mayor and 
aldermen. But, plague on't! we shall be all day 
retailing in this manner : do let us deal wholesale ; 
what say you, little Premium ? Give me three hun- 
dred pounds for the rest of the family in the lump. 

Care. Ay, ay, that will be the best way. 

Sir Oliv. Well, well, anything to accommodate 
you ; they are mine. But there is one portrait which 
you have always passed over. 

Care. What, that ill-looking little fellow over the 
settee ? 

Sir Oliv. Yes, sir, I mean that ; though I don't 
think him so ill-looking a little fellow, by any means. 

Chas. Surf. What, that ? Oh ; that 's my uncle 
Oliver ! 't was done before he went to India. 

Care. Your uncle Oliver ! Gad, then you '11 never 
be friends, Charles. That, now, to me, is as stern a 
looking rogue as ever I saw ; an unforgiving eye, and 
a damned disinheriting countenance! an 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 ? 

Chas. Surf. No, hang it ! I '11 not part with poor 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 203 

Noll. The old fellow has been very good to me, and, 
egad, I '11 keep his picture while I 've a room to put 
it in. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.'] The rogue 's my nephew after 
all ! \_Aloud.~] But, sir, I have somehow taken a 
fancy to that picture. 

C/ias. Surf. I 'm sorry for 't, for you certainly will 
not have it. Oons, have n't you got enough of them ? 

Sir Oliv. \AsideJ\ I forgive him everything ! 
\AloudI\ But, 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. 

Ckas. 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 ! 

\Aloud^\ Well, well, I have done. \_Aside.} I 
did not perceive it before, but I think I never saw 
such a striking resemblance. \Aloud.1 Here is a 
draft for your sum. 

Chas. Surf. Why, 't is for eight hundred pounds ! 

Sir Oliv. You will not let Sir Oliver go ? 

Ckas. 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 are 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. 

Chas. Surf. But hold ; do now send a genteel con- 
veyance for them, for, I assure you, they were most 
of them used to ride in their own carriages. 

Sir Oliv. I will, I will, for all but Oliver. 



204 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Chas. Surf. Ay, all but the little nabob. 

Sir Oliv. You 're fixed on that ? 

C/ias. Surf. Peremptorily. 

Sir Oliv. \Asidet\ A dear extravagant rogue ! 
[Aloud.] Good day ! Come, Moses. [Aside.'] 
Let me hear now who dares call him profligate ! 

[Exit -with MOSES. 

Care. Why, this is the oddest genius of the sort I 
ever met with ! 

Chas. Surf. Egad, he 's the prince of brokers, I 
think. I wonder how the devil Moses got acquainted 
with so honest a fellow. Ha ! here 's Rowley. Do, 
Careless, say I '11 join the company in a few moments. 

Care. I will but 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, are the most exorbitant fellows. 

Chas. Surf. Very true, and paying them is only 
encouraging them. 

Care. Nothing else. 

Chas. Surf. Ay, ay, never fear. [Exit CARELESS.] 
So ! this was an odd old fellow, indeed. Let me see, 
two-thirds of this is mine by right, five hundred and 
thirty odd pounds. 'Fore Heaven ! I find one's ances- 
tors are more valuable relations than I took them for ! 
Ladies and gentlemen, your most obedient and very 
grateful servant. \Bows ceremoniously to the pictures. 

Enter ROWLEY. 

Ha ! old Rowley ! egad, you are just come in time 
to take leave of your old acquaintance. 

Row. Yes, 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 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2O$ 

are so many, that I can't afford to part with my 
spirits ; but I 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 is very affecting, but you 
see they never move a muscle, so why should I ? 

Row. 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. 

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 're 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 Gen- 
erosity, for the soul of me. 

Row. Yet, Charles, believe me, one hour's reflec- 
tion 

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. 



206 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Sir Oliv. True, but he would not sell my 
picture. 

Mas. And loves wine and women so much. 

Sir Oliv. But he would not sell my picture. 

Mos. And game 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 pur- 
chase 

Sir Oliv. Yes, yes, our young rake has parted 
with his ancestors like old tapestry. 

Row. And here has he commissioned me to re- 
deliver you part of the purchase-money I mean, 
though, in your necessitous character of old Stanley. 

Mos. Ah ! there is the pity of all ! he is so damned 
charitable. 

Row. 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, I '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. 

Row. Not yet awhile ; Sir Peter, I know, means to 
call there about this time. 

Enter TRIP. 

Trip. Oh, gentlemen, I beg pardon for not show- 
ing you out : this way Moses, a word. 

{Exit with MOSES. 

Sir Oliv. There 's a fellow for you ! Would you 
believe it, that puppy intercepted the Jew on our 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2O/ 

coming, and wanted to raise money before he got to 
his master 1 

Row. Indeed ! 

Sir Oliv. Yes, they are now planning an annuity 
business. Ah, Master Rowley, in my days servants 
were content with me follies of their masters, when I 
they were worn a little threadbare ; but now they I 
have their vices, like their birthday clothes, with the I 
gloss on. \_Exeunt:" 



SCENE III. A Library in JOSEPH SURFACE'S 
House. 

Enter JOSEPH SURFACE and SERVANT. 

Jos. Surf. No letter from Lady Teazle ? 

Serv. No, sir. 

Jos. Surf. \_Aside.~] I am surprised she has not 
sent, if she is prevented from coming. Sir Peter 
certainly does not suspect me. Yet I wish I may 
not lose the heiress through the scrape I have drawn 
myself into with the wife: however, Charles's impru- 
dence and bad character are great points in my 
favour. [Knocking heard without. 

Serv. 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. 

Serv. 'T is 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 neighbour is a 
maiden lady of so curious a temper. [SERVANT 
draws the screen, and exit.~\ I have a difficult hand 



208 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

to play in this affair. Lady Teazle has lately sus- 
pected 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 pre- 
tend 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 girl. 

Lady Teaz. Well, well, I 'in inclined to believe 
you. But is n't it provoking, to have the most ill- 
natured things said of one? And there 's my friend 
Lady Sneerwell has circulated I don't know how 
many scandalous tales of me, and all without any 
foundation too ; that 's what vexes me. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, madam, to be sure, that is the pro- 
voking circumstance without foundation ; yes, yes, 
there 's the mortification, indeed ; for, when a scan- 
dalous story is believed against one, there certainly 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2OQ 

is no comfort like the consciousness of having de- 
served it. 

Lady Teaz. No, to be sure, then I 'd forgive their 
malice ; but to attack me, who am really so innocent, 
and who never say an ill-natured thing of anybody 
that is, of any friend ; and then Sir Peter, too, to 
have him so peevish, and so suspicious, when I know 
the integrity of my own heart indeed 'tis mon- 
strous ! 

Jos. Surf. But, my dear Lady Teazle, 't is your 
own fault if you suffer it. When a husband enter- 
tains a groundless suspicion of his wife, and with- 
draws his confidence from her, the original compact 
is broken, and she owes it to the honour of her sex to 
endeavour to outwit him. 

Lady Teaz. Indeed ! So that, if he suspects me 
without cause, 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 compliment to his discernment. 

Lady Teaz. To be sure, what you say is very 
reasonable, and when the consciousness of my inno- 
cence 

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 inno- 
cence. 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 conscious- 
ness of your innocence. 



210 SHERIDAN* S COMEDIES. 

Lady Teaz. 'T is very true ! 

Jos. Surf. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would 
but once make a triftmgfaux pas, you can't conceive 
how cautious you would grow, and how ready to 
humour and agree with your husband. 

Lady Teaz. 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 Teaz. So, so ; then I perceive your prescrip- 
tion is, that I must sin in my own defence, and part 
with my virtue to preserve my reputation ? 

Jos. Surf. Exactly so, upon my credit, ma'am. 

Lady Teaz. Well, certainly this is the oddest doc- 
trine, and the newest receipt for avoiding calumny ! 

Jos. Surf. An infallible one, believe me. Pru- 
dence, like experience, must be paid for. 

Lady Teaz. Why, if my understanding were once 
convinced 

Jos. Surf. Oh, certainly, madam, your understand- 
ing should be convinced. Yes, yes, Heaven forbid 
I should persuade you to do anything you thought 
wrong. No, no, I have too much honour to desire 
it. 

Lady Teaz. Don't you think we may as well leave 
honour out of the argument ? [Rises. 

Jos. Surf. Ah, the ill effects of your country edu- 
cation, I see, still remain with you. 

Lady Teaz. I doubt they do indeed ; and I will 
fairly own to you, that if I could be persuaded to do 
wrong, it would be by Sir Peter's ill usage sooner 
than your honourable logic, after all. 

Jos. Surf. Then, by this hand, which he is un- 
worthy of \Taking her hand. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 211 



Reenter SERVANT. 

'Sdeath, you blockhead what do you want ? 

Serv. I beg your pardon, sir, but I thought you 
would not choose Sir Peter to come up without 
announcing him. 

Jos. Surf. Sir Peter ! Oons the devil ! 

Lady Teaz. Sir Peter ! O Lud ! I 'm ruined ! I 'm 
ruined ! 

Serv. Sir, 't was n't I let him in. 

Lady Teaz. Oh ! I 'm quite undone ! What will 
become of me ? Now, Mr. Logic Oh ! mercy, sir, 
he 's on the stairs I '11 get behind here and if 
ever I 'm so imprudent again 

[ Goes behind the screen. 

Jos. Surf. Give me that book. 

\_Sits down. SERVANT pretends to adjust his chair. 

Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE. 

Sir Peter. Ay, ever improving himself Mr. Sur- 
face, Mr. Surface 

[Pats JOSEPH on the shoulder. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, my dear Sir Peter, I beg your par- 
don [ Gaping, throws away the book.'] I have been 
dozing over a stupid book. Well, I am much obliged 
to you for this call. You have n't been here, I be- 
lieve, since I fitted up this* room. Books, you know, 
are the only things in which I am a coxcomb. 

Sir Peter. 'T is 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. 



212 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, or to hide anything in a hurry 
either. [Aside. 

Sir Peter. Well, I have a little private busi- 
ness 

Jos. Surf. You need not stay. [To SERVANT. 

Serv. No, sir. [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. Here 's a chair, Sir Peter I beg 

Sir Peter. Well, now we are alone, there is a sub- 
ject, my dear friend, on which I wish to unburden 
my mind to you a point of the greatest moment to 
my peace ; in short, my 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, 't is 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 attach- 
ment to another. 

Jos. Surf. Indeed ! you astonish me ! 

Sir Peter. Yes ! and, between ourselves, I think 
I Ve discovered the person. 

Jos. Surf. How! you alarm me exceedingly. 

Sir Peter. Ay, my dear friend, I knew you would 
sympathize with me ! 

Jos. Surf. Yes, believe me, Sir Peter, such a dis- 
covery would hurt me just as much as it would 
you. 

Sir Peter. I am convinced of it. Ah ! it is a hap- 
piness to have a friend whom we can trust even with 
one's family secrets. But have you no guess who I 
mean ? 

Jos. Surf. I have n't the most distant idea. It 
can't be Sir Benjamin Backbite ! 

Sir Peter. Oh, no ! What say you to Charles ? 

Jos. Surf. My brother ! impossible ! 

Sir Peter. Oh, my dear friend, the goodness of 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 21 3 

your own heart misleads you. You judge of others 
by yourself. 

Jos. Surf. Certainly, Sir Peter, the heart that is 
conscious of its own integrity is ever slow to credit 
another's treachery. 

Sir Peter. True ; but your brother has no senti- 
ment you never hear him talk so. 

Jos. Surf. Yet I can't but think Lady Teazle her- 
self has too much principle. 

Sir Peter. Ay ; but what is principle against the 
flattery of a handsome, lively young fellow ? 

Jos. Surf. 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. 

Jos. Surf. That's true, to be sure they would 
laugh. 

Sir Peter. Laugh ! ay, and make ballads, and 
paragraphs, and the devil knows what of me. 

Jos. Surf. No, you must never make it public. 

Sir Peter. 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. Surf. Ay, there 's the point. When ingrati- 
tude barbs the dart of injury, the wound has double 
danger in it. 

Sir Peter. Ay I, that was, in a manner, left his 
guardian : in whose house he had been so often en- 
tertained ; who never in my life denied him my 
advice ! 

Jos. Surf. Oh, 't is not to be credited ! There 
may be a man capable of such baseness, to be sure ; 



214 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 
honour. 

Sir Peter. I am sure I wish to think well of her, 
and to remove 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 in- 
terest while living. Here, my friend, are the drafts 
of two deeds, which I wish to have your opinion on. 
By one, she will enjoy eight hundred a year indepen- 
dent 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. \AsideI\ 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 Peter. And now, my dear friend, if you please, 
we will talk over the situation of your hopes with 
Maria. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 21$ 

Jos. Surf. [Softly.] Oh, no, Sir Peter; another 
time, if you please. 

Sir Peter. I am sensibly chagrined at the little 
progress you seem to make in her affections. 

Jos. Surf. [Softly.] I beg you will not mention it. 
What are my disappointments when your happiness 
is in debate ! [Aside] 'Sdeath, I shall be ruined 
every way ! 

Sir Peter. And though you are so averse to 
my acquainting Lady Teazle with your passion for 
Maria, I 'm sure she 's not your enemy in the affair. 

Jos. Surf. Pray, Sir Peter, now oblige me. I am 
really too much affected by the subject we have been 
speaking of, to bestow a thought on my own con- 
cerns. The man who is entrusted with his friend's 
distresses can never 

Re enter SERVANT. 
Well, sir ? 

Serv. Your brother, sir, is speaking to a gentleman 
in the street, and says he knows you are within. 

Jos. Surf. 'Sdeath, blockhead, I 'm not within 
I 'm out for the day. 

Sir Peter. Stay hold a thought has struck 
me : you shall be at home. 

Jos. Surf. Well, well, let him up. [Exit SER- 
VANT.] He '11 interrupt Sir Peter, however. [Aside. 

Sir Peter. Now, my good friend, oblige me, I 
entreat you. Before Charles comes, let me conceal 
myself somewhere, then do you tax him on the 
point we have been talking, and his answer may 
satisfy me at once. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, fie, Sir Peter ! would you have me 
join in so mean a trick? to trepan my brother 
too? 



2l6 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 up,'] 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 7 , it does not follow that one is to be 
an absolute Joseph either ! Hark'ee, 't is a little 
French milliner, a silly rogue that plagues me ; 
and having some character to lose, on your com- 
ing, 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 wife. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, 't will 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 curi- 
ous situation I 'm in, to part man and wife in this 
manner. 

Lady Teaz. [Peeping^ Could n't I steal off ? 

Jos. Surf. Keep close, my angel ! 

Sir Peter. [Peeping.] Joseph, tax him home. 

Jos. Surf. Back, my dear friend ! 

Lady Teaz. [Peeping.'] Couldn't you lock Sir 
Peter in ? 

Jos. Surf. Be still, my life ! 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 21? 

Sir Peter. [Peeping.} v ou 're sure* the little milli- 
ner won't blab ? 

Jos. Surf. In, in, my ckar Sir Peter ! 'Fore Gad, 
I wish I had a key to the door. 

Enter CHARLES SURFACE. 

Chas. Surf. Holla ! brother, what has been the 
matter ? Your fellow would not let me up at first. 
What ! have you had a Jew or a wench with 
you ? 
Jos. Surf. Neither, brother, I assure you. 

Chas. Surf. But what has made Sir Peter steal 
off ? I thought he had been with you. 

Jos. Surf. He was, brother ; but, hearing you were 
coming, he did not choose to stay. 

Chas. Surf. What ! was the old gentleman afraid 
I wanted to borrow money of him ? 

Jos. Surf. No, sir : but I am sorry to find, Charles, 
you have lately given that worthy man grounds for 
great uneasiness. 

Chas. 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 endeavouring to gain Lady Teazle's 
affections from him. 

Chas. Surf. Who, I ? O Lud ! not I, upon my 
word. Ha ! ha ! ha I ha ! so the old fellow 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 subject to jest on, brother. 
He who can laugh 

Chas. Surf. True, true, as you were going to 
say then, seriously, I never had the least idea of 
what you charge me with, upon my honour. 



X 2l8 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Jos. Surf. Well, it will give Sir Peter great satis- 
faction to hear this. [Raising his voice. 
Chas. 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. 

Jos. Surf. But sure, brother, even if Lady Teazle 
had betrayed the fondest partiality for you 

Chas. Surf. Why, look'ee, Joseph, I hope I shall 
never deliberately do a dishonourable action ; but if a 
pretty woman was purposely to throw herself in my 
way and that pretty woman married to a man old 
enough to be her father 

Jos. Surf. Well ! 

Chas. Surf. Why, I believe I should be obliged 
to- 

Jos. Surf. What ? 

Chas. Surf. To borrow a little of your morality, 
that 's all. But, brother, do you know now that you 
surprise me exceedingly, by naming me with Lady 
Teazle ; for, i' faith, I always understood you were 
her favourite. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, for shame, Charles ! This retort 
is foolish. 

Chas. Surf. Nay, I swear I have seen you exchange 
such significant glances 

Jos. Surf. Nay, nay, sir, this is no jest. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, I 'm serious ! Don't you re- 
member 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 ser- 
vant 

Jos. Surf. Brother, brother, a word with you. 
\AsideI\ Gad, I must stop him. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2 19 

Chas. Surf. Informed, I say, that 

Jos. Surf. Hush ! I beg your pardon, but Sir 
Peter has overheard all we have been saying. I 
knew you would clear yourself, or I should not 
have consented. 

Chas. Surf. How, Sir Peter ! Where is he ? 

Jos. Surf. Softly, there ! \_Points to the closet. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, 'fore Heaven, I '11 have him out. 
Sir Peter, come forth ! 

Jos. Surf. No, no 

Chas. Surf. I say, Sir Peter, come into court. 
\_Pulls in SIR PETER.] What! my old guardian! 
What ! turn inquisitor, and take evidence incog. ? 
Oh, fie ! Oh, fie ! 

Sir Peter. Give me your hand, Charles I believe 
I have suspected you wrongfully : but you mustn't 
be angry with Joseph 't was my plan ! 

Chas. Surf. Indeed. 

Sir Peter. But I acquit you. I promise you I 
don't think near so ill of you as I did : what I have 
heard has given me great satisfaction. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, then, 't was lucky you did n't 
hear any more. Was n't it, Joseph ? 

[Aside to JOSEPH. 

Sir Peter. Ah ! you would have retorted on him. 

Chas. Surf. Ah, ay, that was a joke. 

Sir Peter. Yes, yes, I know His honour too well. 

Chas. Surf. But you might as well have suspected 
him as me in this matter, for all that. Might n't he, 
Joseph ? [Aside to JOSEPH. 

Sir Peter. Well, well, I believe you. 

Jos. Surf. Would they were both out of the room ! 

[Aside. 

Sir Peter. And in future, perhaps we may not be 
such strangers. 



/220 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Reenter SERVANT, and whispers JOSEPH SURFACE. 

Serv. 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 to- 
gether. \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 he would as soon let a priest into his 
house as a girl. 

Sir Peter. No, no, come, come, you wrong 
him. No, no ! Joseph is no rake, but he is no such 
saint either in that respect. [_AsideJ\ I have a 
great mind to tell him we should have such a 
laugh at Joseph. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, hang him ! he 's a very anchorite, 
a young hermit. 

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 ? 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 221 

Sir Peter. No but this way. [Aside.'] Egad, 
I'll tell him. [AloudJ] Hark'ee have you a 
mind to have a good laugh at Joseph ? 

Chas. Surf. I should like it of all things. 

Sir Peter. Then, i' faith, we will! I'll be quit 
with him for discovering me. He had a girl with 
him when I called. \_Whispers. 

Chas. Surf. What ! Joseph ? you jest. 

Sir Peter. Hush ! a little French milliner and 
the best of the jest is she is in the room now. 

Chas. Surf. The devil she is ! 

Sir Peter. Hush ! I tell you. \_Points to the screen. 

Chas. Surf. Behind the screen ! 'Slife, let 's 
unveil her ! 

Sir Peter. No, no, he's coming: you shan't 
indeed ! 

Chas. Surf. Oh, egad, we '11 have a peep at the 
little milliner ! 

Sir Peter. Not for the world ! Joseph will never 
forgive me. 

Chas. Surf. I '11 stand by you 

Sir Peter. Odds, here he is ! 

Re'enter JOSEPH SURFACE just as CHARLES SURFACE 
throws down the screen. 

Chas. Surf. Lady 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 I 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 1 



222 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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. [Going.] 
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 other.~\ \_Exit CHARLES. 

Jos. Surf. Sir Peter notwithstanding I con- 
fess that appearances 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 pretensions to your ward Maria I say 
sir, Lady Teazle, being apprehensive 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 apprehensive 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 lie ? 

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 myself. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 223 

Sir Peter. Ay, let her alone, sir ; you '11 find she '11 
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 igno- 
rant of this gentleman's pretensions to her. But I 
came, seduced by his insidious arguments, at least 
to listen to his pretended passion, if not to sacrifice 
your honour to his baseness. 

Sir Peter. Now, I believe, the truth is coming, 
indeed ! 

Jos. Surf. The woman 's mad. 

Lady Teaz. No, sir ; she has recovered her senses, 
and your own arts have furnished her with the 
means. Sir Peter, I do not expect you to credit 
me but the tenderness you expressed for me, 
when I am sure you could not think I was a witness 
to it, has so penetrated to my heart, that had I left 
the place without the shame of this discovery, my 
future life should have spoken the sincerity of my 
gratitude. As for that smooth-tongued hypocrite, 
who would have seduced the wife of his too credu- 
lous friend, while he affected honourable addresses to 
his ward I behold him now in a light so truly 
despicable, that I shall never again respect myself 
for having listened to him. {Exit LADY TEAZLE. 

Jos. Surf. Notwithstanding all this, Sir Peter, 
Heaven knows 

Sir Peter. That you are a villain ! and so I leave 
you to your conscience. 

Jos. Surf. You are too rash, Sir Peter ; you shall 
hear me. The man who shuts out conviction by 
refusing to 

Sir Peter. Oh, damn your sentiments ! 

\Exeunt SIR PETER and JOSEPH SURFACE, talking. 



224 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 



ACT V. 

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. 

Serv. 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 ? 

Serv. I will, sir. Why, sir, it was not my fault 
that Sir Peter discovered my lady 

Jos. Surf. Go, fool ! [Exit SERVANT.] Sure For- 
tune never played a man of my, policy such a trick 
before ! My character with Sir Peter, my hopes with 
Maria, destroyed in a moment ! I 'm in a rare 
humour to listen to other people's distresses ! I 
shan't be able to bestow even a benevolent senti- 
ment 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 ? 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 22$ 

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 fkst 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 ! 

Row. As to his way of thinking, I cannot pretend 
to decide ; for, to do him justice, he appears to have 
as much speculative benevolence as any private 
gentleman in the kingdom, though he is seldom so 
sensual as to indulge himself in the exercise of 
it. 

Sir Oliv. Yet he has a string of charitable senti- 
ments at his fingers' ends. 

Row. Or, rather, at his tongue's end, Sir Oliver ; 
for I believe there is no sentiment he has such faith 
in as that Charity begins at home. 

Sir Oliv. And his, I presume, is of that domestic 
sort which never stirs abroad at all. 

Row. I doubt you '11 find it so ; but he 's coming. 
I must n't seem to interrupt you ; and you know, 
immediately as you leave him, I come in to announce 
your arrival in your real character. 

Sir Oliv. True ; and afterwards you '11 meet me 
at Sir Peter's. 

Row. Without losing a moment. \_Exit. 

Sir Oliv. I don't like the complaisance of his 
features. 

Reenter JOSEPH SURFACE. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I beg you ten thousand pardons 
for keeping you a moment waiting Mr. Stanley, I 
presume. 

Sir Oliv. At your service. 



226 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I beg you will do me the honour 
to sit down I entreat you, sir 



Sir Oliv. Dear sir there's no occasion. 
Too civil by half ! . 

Jos. Surf. I have not the pleasure of knowing you, 
Mr. Stanley ; but I am extremely happy to see you 
look so well. You were nearly related to my mother, 
I think, Mr. Stanley. 

Sir Oliv. I was, sir ; so nearly that my present 
poverty, I fear, may do discredit to her wealthy chil- 
dren, 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 friend. 

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 recommend me. But I imagined his bounty 
would enable you to become the agent of his charity. 

Jos. Surf. My dear sir, you were strangely mis- 
informed. 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 confidence, what 
he has done for me has been a mere nothing ; though 
people, I know, have thought otherwise, and, for my 
part, I never chose to contradict the report. 

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, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 22 / 

congou tea, avadavats, and Indian crackers little 
more, believe me. 

Sir Oliv. Here 's gratitude for twelve thousand 
pounds ! Avadavats and Indian crackers ! [Aside. 

Jos. Surf. 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 ! [Aside. 

Jos. Surf. The sums I have lent him ! Indeed 
I have been exceedingly to blame ; it was an amiable 
weakness ; however, I don't pretend to defend it, 
and now I feel it doubly culpable, since it has de- 
prived me of the pleasure of serving you, Mr. Stanley, 
as my heart dictates. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Dissembler ! [Aloud] Then, 
sir, you can't assist me? 

Jos. Surf. At present, it grieves me to say, I can- 
not ; but, whenever I have the ability, you may 
depend upon hearing from me. 

Sir Oliv. I am extremely sorry 

Jos. Surf. Not more than I, believe me ; to pity 
without the power to relieve, is still more painful 
than to ask and be denied. 

Sir Oliv. Kind sir, your most obedient humble 
servant. 

Jos. Surf. You leave me deeply affected, Mr. 
Stanley. William, be ready to open the door. 

[Calls to SERVANT. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, dear sir, no ceremony. 

Jos. Surf. Your very obedient. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, your most obsequious. 

Jos. Surf. You may depend upon hearing from 
me, whenever I can be of service. 

Sir Oliv. Sweet sir, you are too good 1 



228 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Jos. Surf. In the meantime I wish you health and 
spirits. 

Sir Oliv. Your ever grateful and perpetual humble 
servant. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, yours as sincerely. 

Sir. Oliv. [Aside J\ Charles, you are my heir ! 



Jos. Surf. This is one bad effect of a good char- 
acter ; it invites application from the unfortunate, 
flmd there needs no small degree of address to gain 
the reputation of benevolence without incurring the 
expense.} The silver ore of pure charity is an ex- 
pensive article in the catalogue of a man's good 
qualities ; whereas the sentimental 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 appre- 
hensive of interrupting 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 Sur- 
face ! My uncle arrived ! 

Row. He is, indeed : we have just parted quite 
well, after a speedy voyage, and impatient to em- 
brace his worthy nephew. 

Jos. Surf. I am astonished ! William ! stop Mr. 
Stanley, if he 's not gone. [Calls to SERVANT. 

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. But 
I must be gone to inform your brother, and appoint 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 22Q 

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 time ! 

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 ROW- 
LEY.] Certainly his coming just at this time is the 
cruellest piece of ill-fortune. [Exit. 



SCENE II. A Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE'S 
House. 

Enter MRS. CANDOUR and MAID. 

Maid. Indeed, ma'am, my lady will see nobody at 
present. 

Mrs. 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 glad to see 
her, if it be only for a moment, for I 'm sure she 
must be in great distress. \_Exit MAID.] Dear 
heart, how provoking ! I 'm not mistress of half the 
circumstances ! , We shall have the whole affair in 
the newspapers, with the names of the parties at 



230 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

length, before I have dropped the story at a dozen 
houses./ 

Enter SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE. 
Oh, dear Sir Benjamin ! you have heard, I suppose 



Sir Benj. Of Lady Teazle and Mr. Surface 

Mrs. Can. And Sir Peter's discovery 

Sir Benj. 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 Benj. Now, I don't pity Sir Peter at all : he 
was so extravagantly partial to Mr. Surface. 

Mrs. Can. Mr. Surface ! Why, 't was with Charles 
Lady Teazle was detected. 

Sir Benj. No, no, I tell you : Mr. Surface is the 
gallant. 

Mrs. Can. No such thing! Charles is the man. 
'T was Mr. Surface brought Sir Peter on purpose to 
discover them. 

Sir Benj. I tell you I had it from one 

Mrs. Can. And I have it from one 



Sir Benj. Who had it from one, who had it 

Mrs. Can. From one immediately But here 

comes Lady Sneerwell; perhaps she knows the whole 

affair. 

Enter LADY 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 appear- 
ances ; though, indeed, she was always too lively for 
me. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



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 quali- 
ties. 

Mrs. Can. So she had, indeed. But have you 
heard the particulars ? 

Lady Sneer. No; but everybody 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. Sur- 
face, 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 Sirj 
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 . 

Mrs. Can. Ay, to Charles - 

Sir Benj. No, no to Mr. Surface a most un- 
grateful fellow ; and old as I am, sir, says he, I insist 
on immediate satisfaction. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, that must have been to Charles ; 



232 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

for 't is very unlikely Mr. Surface should fight in his 
own house. 

Sir Benj. Gad's life, ma'am, not at all giving 
me immediate satisfaction. On this, ma'am, Lady 
Teazle, seeing Sir Peter in such danger, ran out of 
the room in strong hysterics, and Charles after her, 
calling out for hartshorn and water ; then, madam, 
they began to fight with swords 

Enter CRABTREE. 

Crab. With pistols, nephew pistols ! I have it 
from undoubted authority. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, Mr. Crabtree, then it is all true ! 

Crab. Too true, indeed, madam, and Sir Peter is 
dangerously wounded 

Sir Benj. By a thrust in second quite through his 
left side 

Crab. By a bullet lodged in the thorax. 

Mrs. Can. Mercy on me ! Poor Sir Peter ! 

Crab. Yes, madam ; though Charles .would have 
avoided the matter, if he could. 

Mrs. Can. I told you who it was ; I knew 7 Charles 
was the person. 

Sir Benj. My uncle, I see, knows nothing of the 
matter. 

Crab. But Sir Peter taxed him with the basest 
ingratitude 

Sir Benj. That I told you, you know 

Crab. Do, nephew, let me speak ! and insisted 
on immediate 

Sir Benj. Just as I said 

Crab. Odds life, nephew, allow others to know 
something too ! A pair of pistols lay on the bureau 
(for Mr. Surface, it seems, had come home the night 
before late from Salthill, where he had been to see 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 233 

the Montem with a friend, who has a son at Eton), 
so, unluckily, the pistols were left charged. 

Sir Benj. 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 fire- 
place, 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 circumstan- 
tial, 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. [J^/'/LADY SNEERWELL. 

Sir Benj. Ah ! Lady SneerwelPs alarm is very 
easily accounted for. 

Crab. Yes, yes, they certainly do say but that 's 
neither here nor there. 

Mrs. Can. But, pray, where is Sir Peter at pres- 
ent? 

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 sup- 
pose, attending him. 

Crab. Yes, yes ; and I saw one of the faculty 
enter just before me. 

Sir Benj. Hey ! who comes here ? 

Crab. Oh, this is he : the physician, depend on 't. 

Mrs . Can. O h , certai n ly ! it m us t be the phy s ici an ; 
and now we shall know. 



234 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Enter SIR OLIVER SURFACE. 

Crab. Well, doctor, what hopes ? 

Mrs. Can. Ay, doctor, how 's your patient ? 

Sir Benj. Now, doctor, is n't it a wound with a 
small-sword ? 

Crab. A bullet lodged in the thorax, for a hun- 
dred ! 

Sir Oliv. Doctor ! a wound with a small-sword ! 
and a bullet in the thorax ! Oons ! are you mad, 
good people ? 

Sir Benj. Perhaps, sir, you are 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 heard of his 
accident ? 

Sir Oliv. Not a word ! 

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 wounded. 

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 the most imprudent man alive ; 
for here he comes, walking as if nothing at all was 
the matter. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 235 

Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE. 

Odds heart, Sir Peter ! you are come in good time, I 
promise you ; for we had just given you over ! 

Sir Benj. \_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 accomplice. 

Sir Peter. Why, what is all this ? 

Sir Benj. We rejoice, Sir Peter, that the story of 
the duel is not true, 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. 'T is no uncommon case, that 's one com- 
fort. 

Sir Peter. I insist on being left to myself : without 
ceremony, I insist on your leaving my house 
directly ! 



236 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Mrs. Can. Well, well, we are going; and depend 
on 't, we '11 make the best report of it we can. [Exit 

Sir Peter. Leave my house ! 

Crab. And tell how hardly you Ve been treated. 

[Exit 

Sir Peter. Leave my house ! 

Sir Benj. And how patiently you bear it. [Exit. 

Sir Peter. Fiends ! vipers ! furies ! Oh ! that their 
own venom would choke them ! 

Sir Oliv. They are very provoking, indeed, Sir 
Peter. 

Enter ROWLEY. 

Row. I heard high words : what has ruffled you, 
sir? 

Sir Peter. Pshaw ! what signifies asking ? Do I 
ever pass a day without my vexations ? 

Row. Well, I 'm not inquisitive. 

Sir Oliv. Well, Sir Peter, I have seen 'both my 
nephews in the manner we proposed. 

Sir Peter. A precious couple they are ! 

Row. Yes, and Sir Oliver is convinced that your 
judgment was right, Sir Peter. 

Sir Oliv. Yes, I find Joseph is indeed the man, 
after all. 

Row. Ay, as Sir Peter says, he is a man of senti- 
ment. 

Sir Oliv. And acts up to the sentiments he pro- 
fesses. 

Row. It certainly 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 don't join 
us in your friend Joseph's praise, as I expected. 

Sir Peter. Sir Oliver, we live in a damned wicked 
world, and the fewer we praise the better. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 237 

Row. What ! do you say so, Sir Peter, who were 
never mistaken in your life ? 

Sir Peter. Pshaw ! plague on you both ! I see by 
your sneering you have heard the whole affair. I 
shall go^ mad among you ! 

Row. Then, to fret you no longer, Sir Peter, we 
are indeed acquainted with it all. I met Lady 
Teazle coming from Mr. Surface's so humble, that 
she deigned to request me to be her advocate with 
you. 

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 as- 
sure you ; ah ! 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 



238 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

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 paragraphs about Mr. S , Lady T , and 

Sir P , will be so entertaining ! 

Row. Without affectation, Sir Peter, you may de- 
spise 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 return- 
ing, 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. 

Row. 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 perceive. 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 in- 
tended for Charles ? 

Row. A mere forgery, Sir Peter ! laid in your 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 239 

way on purpose. This is one of the points which I 
intend Snake shall give you conviction 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. 

Row. Let them laugh, and retort their malice only 
by showing them you are happy in spite of it. 

Sir Peter. I' faith, so I will ! and, if I 'm not mis- 
taken, we may yet be the happiest couple in the 
country. 

Row. Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside sus- 
picion 

Sir Peter. Hold, Master Rowley I 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 im- 
mediately 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 calm- 
ness. 



240 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Lady Sneer. Because the disappointment does n't 
reach your heart ; your interest only attached you to 
Maria. Had you felt for her what I have for that 
ungrateful libertine, neither your temper nor hypoc- 
risy could prevent your showing the sharpness of 
your vexation. 

Jos. Surf. But why should your reproaches fall on 
me for this disappointment ? 

Lady Sneer. Are you not the cause of it ? Had 
you not a sufficient field for your roguery in impos- 
ing upon Sir Peter, and supplanting your brother, 
but you must endeavour to seduce his wife ? 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 deviated 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 honour to your lady- 
ship, 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 1 this is probably 
my uncle, Sir Oliver : retire to that room ; we '11 con- 
sult farther when he is gone. 

Lady Sneer. Well, but if he should find you out, 
too? 

Jos. Surf.- Oh, I have no fear of that. Sir Peter 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 241 

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 constant to one roguery at a time. 

Jos. Surf. I will, I will ! [Exit LADY SNEER- 
WELL.] So ! 't is confounded hard, after such bad 
fortune, to be baited by one's confederate 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 

Enter SIR OLIVER SURFACE. 

Gad's life, Mr. Stanley, why have you come back 
to plague me at this time? You must not stay now, 
upon my word. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I hear your uncle Oliver is ex- 
pected 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 prom- 
ise you you shall be assisted. 

Sir Oliv. No : Sir Oliver and I must be acquainted. 

Jos. Surf. Zounds, sir ! then I insist on your quit- 
ting the room directly. 

Sir Oliv. Nay, sir 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I insist on 't ! Here, William ! 
show this gentleman out. Since you compel me, sir, 
not one moment this is such insolence. 

[Going to push him out. 



242 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 



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 you ? 

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. 

\JBothforcing Sir Oliver out. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 243 



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 Teaz. Indeed, Sir Oliver, 't was well we 
came in to rescue you. 

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 ! 

Chas. 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 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 dis- 
appointment in discovering him to be destitute of 
truth, charity, and gratitude ! 

Sir Peter. Sir Oliver, I should be more surprised 
at this declaration, if I had not myself found him to 
be mean, treacherous, and hypocritical. 

Lady Teaz. And if the gentleman pleads not guilty 
to these, pray let him call me 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. 



244 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Chas. Surf. If they talk this way to Honesty, 

what will they say to me, by and by ? [Aside. 

[SiR PETER, LADY TEAZLE, and 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 honour 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 would undertake to justify 
yourself entirely ? [To JOSEPH SURFACE. 

Jos. Surf. I trust I could. 

Sir Oliv. [To CHARLES SURFACE.] Well, sir! 
and you could justify yourself too, I suppose ? 

Chas. Surf. Not that I know of, Sir Oliver. 

Sir Oliv. What ! Little Premium has been let too 
much into the secret, I suppose ? 

Chas. Surf. True, sir ; but they were family se- 
crets, and should not be mentioned again, you know. 

Row. Come, Sir Oliver, I know you cannot speak 
of Charles's follies with anger. 

Sir Oliv. Odds heart, no more I can ; nor with 
gravity either. Sir Peter, do you know the rogue 
bargained with me for all his ancestors ; sold me 
judges and generals by the foot, and maiden aunts 
as cheap as broken china. 

Chas. Surf. To be sure, Sir Oliver, I did make a 
little free with the family canvas, that 's the truth 
on 't. My ancestors may rise in judgment against 
me, there 's no denying it ; but believe me sincere 
when I tell you and upon my soul I would not say 
so if I was not that if I do not appear mortified at 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 24$ 

the exposure of my follies, it is because I feel at this 
moment the warmest satisfaction in seeing you, my 
liberal benefactor. 

Sir Oliv. Charles, I believe you. Give me your 
hand again : the ill-looking little fellow over the 
settee has made your peace. 

Chas. Surf. Then, sir, my gratitude to the original 
is still increased. 

Lady Teaz. [Advancing.'] Yet, I believe, Sir Oliver, 
here is one whom Charles is still more anxious to be 
reconciled to. [Pointing to MARIA. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, I have heard of his attachment 
there ; and, with the young lady's pardon, if I con- 
strue right that blush 

Sir Peter. Well, child, speak your sentiments ! 

Mar. Sir, I have little to say, but that I shall 
rejoice to hear that he is happy ; for me, whatever 
claim I had to his affection, I willingly resign to one 
who has a better title. 

Chas. Surf. How, Maria ! 

Sir Peter. Heyday ! what 's the mystery now ? 
While he appeared an incorrigible rake, you would 
give your hand to no one else ; and now that he 
is likely to reform I '11 warrant you won't have him ! 

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 point, but my regard to 
justice compels me, and Lady SneerwelPs 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 ! 



246 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Lady Sneer. Ungrateful Charles ! Well may you 
be surprised, and feel for the indelicate situation 
your perfidy has forced me into. 

Chas. Surf. Pray, uncle, is this another plot of 
yours ? 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 appear. 

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 me extremely liberally for the lie in ques- 
tion ; but I unfortunately have been offered double 
to speak the truth. 

Sir Peter. Plot and counter-plot, egad ! I wish 
your ladyship joy of your negotiation. 

Lady Sneer. The torments of shame and disap- 
pointment on you all ! [ Going. 

Lady Teaz. Hold, Lady Sneerwell before you 
go, let me thank you for the trouble you and that 
gentleman have taken, in writing letters from me to 
Charles, and answering them yourself ; and let me 
also request you to make my respects to the scan- 
dalous college of which you are president, and 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 247 

inform them that Lady Teazle, 'licentiate, begs leave 
to return the diploma they granted her, as she 
leaves off practice, and kills characters no longer. 

Lady Sneer. You, too, madam ! provoking in- 
solent ! May your husband live these fifty years ! 

[Exit. 

Sir Peter. Oons ! what a fury ! 

Lady Teaz. A malicious creature, indeed 1 

Sir Peter. Hey ! not for her last wish ? 

Lady Teaz. Oh, no ! 

Sir Oliv. Well, sir, and what have you to say 
now? 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I am so confounded, to find that 
Lady Sneervvell 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 Peter. Moral to the last drop 1 

Sir Oliv. Ay, and marry her, Joseph, if you can. 
Oil and Vinegar ! egad, you '11 do very well 
together. 

Row. I believe we have no more occasion for* Mr. 
Snake at present. 

Snake. Before I go, I beg pardon once for all, for 
whatever uneasiness I have been the humble instru- 
ment 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 known. 

Sir Peter. Hey ! what the plague ! are you 
ashamed of having done a right thing once in your 
life? 



248 SHERIDAN'S COMEDIES. 

Snake. Ah, sir, consider -Ljjive by the badness of 

. my character ; I have nothing but my infamy to de- 

, pend on ! and, if it were once known that I had been 

I 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 Teaz. See, Sir Oliver, there needs no persua- 
sion now to reconcile your nephew and Maria. 

Sir Oliv. Ay, ay, that 's as it should be, and, egad, 
we '11 have the wedding to-morrow morning. 

Chas. Surf. Thank you, dear uncle. 

Sir Peter. What, you rogue ! don't you ask the 
girl's consent first? 

Chas. Surf. Oh, I have done that a long time a 
minute ago 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, my old friend, I am sure you 
congratulate me ; and I suspect that I owe you 
much. 

Sir Oliv. You do, indeed, Charles. 

Row. If my efforts to serve you had not succeeded, 
you would have been in my debt for the attempt ; but 
deserve to be happy and you overpay me. 

Sir Peter. Ay, honest Rowley always said you 
would reform. 

Chas. Surf. Why, as to reforming, Sir Peter, I '11 
make no promises, and that I take to be a proof that 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 249 

I intend to set about it. But here shall be my monitor 
my gentle guide. Ah ! can I leave the virtuous 
path those eyes illumine ? 

Though thou, dear maid, shouldst waive thy beauty's sway, 

Thou still must rule, because I will obey : 

An humble fugitive from Folly view, 

No sanctuary near but Love and you : [ To the audience. 

You can, indeed, each anxious fear remove, 
For even Scandal dies, if you approve. 



EPILOGUE. 

BY MR. COLMAN. 
SPOKEN BY LADY TEAZLE. 

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 wives, 

Learn from our play to regulate your lives ; 

Each bring his dear to town, all faults upon her 

London will prove the very source of honour, 

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 condemn'd to such a dismal doom ? 

Save money when I just knew how to waste it ! 

Leave London just as I began to taste it! 

Must I then watch the early crowing cock, 
The melancholy ticking of a clock ; 
In a lone rustic hall forever pounded; 
With dogs, cats, rats, and squalling brats surrounded ? 
250 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 2$ I 

With humble curate can I now retire, 

(While good Sir Peter boozes with the squire,) 

And at backgammon mortify my soul, 

That pants for loo, or flutters at a vole ? 

Seven 's the main ! Dear sound that must expire. 

Lost at hot cockles round a Christmas fire ; 

The transient hour of fashion too soon spent, 

Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content ! 

Farewell the plumed head, the cushion 'd tete, 

That takes the cushion from its proper seat ! 

That spirit-stirring drum ! card drums I mean, 

Spadille odd trick pam basto king and 

queen ! 

And you, ye knockers, that, with brazen throat, 
The welcome visitors' approach denote ; 
Farewell all quality of high renown, 
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious town ! 
Farewell ! your revels I partake no more, 
And Lady Teazle's occupation 's o'er ! 
All this I told our bard ; he smiled, and said 't was 

clear, 

I ought to play deep tragedy next year. 
Meanwhile he drew wise morals from his play, 
And in these solemn periods stalk'd away : 
" Bless'd were the fair like you ; her faults who stopp'd 
And closed her follies when the curtain dropp'd ! 
No more in vice or error to engage, 
Or play the fool at large on life's great stage." 



NOTES. 

THE RIVALS 
PREFACE. 

" 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 said, "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 own." 

" It is not without pleasure that I catch at an opportunity of 
justifying myself from the charge of intending any national 
reflection in the character of Sir Lucius O'Trigger." 

In his 'Retrospections of the Stage,' John Bernard, who was 
present at the unfortunate first performance of the ' Rivals,' has 
declared that the audience was indifferent to Sir Lucius, as 
acted by Lee. When the play was revised, Clinch took the 
part. Why any one should object to Sir Lucius, it is now diffi- 
cult to discover. Sir Lucius is one of the best of stage-Irishmen, 
and he is emphatically an Irish gentleman. 
253 



254 TffE RIVALS. 

ACT I. 

SCENE I. 

" Thomas. But pray, Mr. Fag, what kind of a place is this 
Bath ? " 

It is not easy now to understand fully the extraordinary 
brilliancy of Bath after Beau Nash had organized society there. 
The manners and customs of Bath, as they were a very few 
years before the date of the ' Rivals,' may be seen in Anstey's 
'New Bath Guide,' first published in 1766; and Anstey's lively 
verses prove that the town offered unusual advantages to the 
social satirist and the comic dramatist. In ' Humphrey Clinker,' 
Smollett has left us an elaborate description of the place and the 
people to be met there. Foote's comedy, the ' Maid of Bath,' 
was a dramatic setting of the romantic story of Miss Linley, 
Sheridan's wife. The best account of Bath at this time is to be 
found in a French book, A. Barbeau's ' Une Ville d'Eaux Ang- 
laise ' (Paris: Picard, 1904). 

SCENE II. 

"Lydia. And could not you get the ' Reward of Constancy ' ? " 
Miss Lydia Languish seems to have had a catholic taste in 
fiction. Most of the books she sought were novelties : the 
' Mistakes of the Heart ' and the ' Tears of Sensibility ' were 
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 ' Memoirs of a Lady of 
Quality ' (i.e. Lady Vane) were included in Smollett's ' Pere- 
grine Pickle,' published first in 1 75 1 ; ' Humphrey Clinker ' did 
not appear till 1771. The 'Sentimental Journey' had been 
originally published in 1 768, in two volumes. 

" Lydia. Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books." 
Miss Languish was evidently fond of Smollett. After ' Pere- 
grine Pickle,' with its ' Memoirs of a Lady of Quality,' and after 
' Humphrey Clinker,' comes ' Roderick Random,' published in 



NOTES. 255 

1748. The * Innocent Adultery' was the second title of 
Southerne's tragedy, the 'Fatal Marriage,' revived as 'Isa- 
bella ; or, the Fatal 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 precepts just before he sat down resolutely 
to the writing of this play. 

" Mrs. Mai. 'T is safest in matrimony to begin with a little 
aversion." 

With a readiness recalling Sheridan's own promptness in 
repartee, George Canning quoted this assertion of Mrs. Mala- 
prop's, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons in 1825. 

" Sir Anthony. Well, I must leave you." 

The traditional business of Sir Anthony's departure requires 
him to bow and gain the door, and then to return to say the 
next clause as though it had just occurred to him. This leave- 
taking, protracted by Mrs. Malaprop's elaborate courtesies, is 
repeated two or three times before Sir Anthony finally takes 
himself off. 

" Lucy. And a black padusoy." 

Paduasoy was a particular kind of silk stuff, deriving its name 
from the Italian town Padua, and the French word soie, silk. 

ACT II. 
SCENE I. 

"Fag. I beg pardon, sir I beg pardon but, with sub- 
mission, a lie is nothing unless one supports it. Sir, whenever 



256 THE RIVALS. 

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 Fag'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, "in all cases of slander currency, whenever 
the draw of the lie was not to be found, the injured parties 
should have a right to come on any of the indorsers." 

" Enter Faulkland." 

Faulkland is the name of two prominent characters, a father 
and a son, in the ' Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph,' the novel 
written by Mrs. Frances Sheridan ; but neither of them in any 
way resembles this Faulkland of her son's. 

" Acres. My hair has been in training some time." 

Here Acres removes his cap, and shows his side-curls in 
papers. After his next speech, he turns his back to the audi- 
ence to show his back-hair elaborately dressed. 

"Acres. Damns have had their day." 

In his ' History of the English Stage ' (v. 461), the Rev. Mr. 
Geneste quotes an epigram of Sir John Harrington's, quite per- 
tinent here : 

" In elder times, an ancient custom was 
To swear, in weighty matters, by the mass ; 
But when the mass went down, as old men note, 
They sware, then, by the cross of this same groat ; 
And when the cross was likewise held in scorn, 
Then by their faith the common oath was sworn ; 
Last having sworn away all faith and troth, 
Only God damn them is their common oath. 
Thus custom kept decorum by gradation, 
That losing mass, cross, faith, they find damnation." 



NOTES. 257 

" Sir Anthony. What 's that to you, sir ? " 

The alleged likeness of Sir Anthony to Smollett's Matthew 
Bramble is very slight indeed. Sheridan's treatment of Sir 
Anthony in this scene and in the contrasting scene in the next 
act is exquisite comedy. In these two scenes is to be found the 
finest writing in the play. The present scene may be compared 
with one somewhat similar between Mrs. Linnet and Miss 
Linnet in the first act of Foote's * Maid of Bath.' 

" Sir Anthony. Like the bull in Cox's Museum." 
Cox's Museum was a popular and fashionable exhibition of 
natural and mechanical curiosities. There are many allusions to 
it in contemporary literature. In ' Evelina,' for instance, pub- 
lished in 1778, three years after the ' Rivals' was written, Miss 
Burney takes her heroine to Cox's Museum and describes some 
of the many marvels it must have contained. 

SCENE II. 

" Fag. We will we will. [Exeunt severally.] " 
The traditional business here is for Fag to parody the exit of 
Sir Lucius just before, calling Lucy, kissing her, saying, " I '11 
quiet your conscience," and then making his exit, humming the 
tune he has just caught from Sir Lucius. 

ACT III. 
SCENE III. 

" Mrs. Mai. Oh, it gives me the hydrostatics to such a 
degree. I thought she had persisted from corresponding with 
him; but, behold, this very day, I have interceded another let- 
ter from the fellow ; I believe I have it in my pocket." 

As Mrs. Malaprop, Mrs. John Drew used first to take from her 
pocket the letter of Sir Lucius and then discovering her mis- 
take to produce with much difficulty and in great confusion the 
letter which Capt. Absolute recognizes at once. (See 'The 
Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson,' pp. 400-401.) 



258 THE RIVALS. 

" Lydia. O heavens ! Beverley ! " 

Lydia Languish has been called a second edition of Colman's 
Polly Honeycombe; 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 proto- 
type must be found for Lydia, it had better be sought in the 
Niece in Steele's ' Tender Husband.' In Steele's play, the rela- 
tions 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 be 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 step]. These outlandish 
heathen allemandes and cotillons are quite beyond me. I 
shall never prosper at 'em, that's sure. Mine are true-born 
English legs. They don't understand their curst French lingo." 

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 Lacedemonian boots, 
endeavours to excuse himself by saying that one of his toes is a 
sworn enemy to the Lacedemonians. 

"Acres. That 's too civil by half." 

In the writing of the challenge most actors of Acres indulge 
in "gags " beyond the bounds of all decency, and until comedy 
sinks into clowning. Mr. Joseph Jefferson refuses to make the 
judicious grieve by saying, "to prevent the confusion that 
might arise from our both undressing the same lady," and 
other vulgarities of that sort, retaining, however, the subtler jest 



NOTES. 259 

of Acres's pause and hesitation when he comes to the word 
" company," of his significant whisper in the ear of Sir Lucius, 
and of Sir Lucius's prompt solution of the orthographical prob- 
lem, " With a <r, of course ! " 

ACT IV. 
SCENE II. . 

" Mrs. Malaprop. Caparisons don't become a young 
woman." 

Here Mrs. Malaprop comes very near to Dogberry's " com- 
parisons are odorous " (' Much Ado About Nothing.' Act 
IIL, Scene V.). Perhaps the earliest use of the phrase is in 
'The Posies of George Cascoigne ' (1575), where we find, 

Since all comparisons are odious." 

ACT V. 

SCENE I. 

" Faulkland. Julia, I have proved you to the quick ! " 
Moore considers that this scene was suggested by Prior's 
ballad of the 'Nut-brown Maid,' and so indeed it may have 
been, although Prior's situation is very different from Sheridan's. 
In the 'Nut-brown Maid,' the high-born lover conceals his 
rank, approaches his mistress in various disguises, and at last 
tests her love by a tale of murder, like Faulkland's. She stands 
the test like Julia. Then the lover confesses the trick and re- 
veals his rank, whereat the maid is joyful. The point of Sheri- 
dan's more dramatic situation is in the recoil of Faulkland's 
distrustful ingenuity on his own head, and the rejection of his 
suit by Julia, so soon as he declares his fraud. 

" 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 drew attention to the likeness of this speech of Lydia's 



260 THE RIVALS. 

to the lines in the Tenth Ode of the Third Book, in which 
Horace adjures a certain Lyce to take pity on him. 

" You would pity, sweet Lyce, 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 is streaking. 
With ice the crisp snow that lies thick on the ground ! 

******* 
"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 Boucicault's * London Assurance,' 
who ventures to deny his father in much the same fashion as 
Captain 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. 



NOTES. 26l 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

ACT I. 

SCENE I. 

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

In the original draft of this scene, now in the possession of 
the Sheridans of Frampton Court, Dorchester, the person with 
whom Lady Sneerwell 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 revis- 
ing the scene, Sheridan found that one character 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 Sneerwell is to be found in Fielding's ' Pasquin.' 

" Servant. Mr. Surface." 

In ' A Journey to Bath,' an unacted 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. See 
Mr. W. Fraser Rae's edition of ' Sheridan's Plays as he wrote 
them' (London: Nutt, 1902). 'A Journey to Bath' is also 
included. 

SCENE II. 

" Rowley. 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.' 



262 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 



ACT II. 

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. 

" Sir Peter. You were content to ride double, behind the 
butler on a docked coach-horse." 

Professor Ward, in his ' History of English Dramatic Litera- 
ture,' 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. Ay there again taste ! Zounds! madam, 
you had no taste when you married me ! " 

It seems as though John G. Saxe may have remembered this 
speech of Sir Peter's when he wrote his epigram, ' 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 ! ' " 



NOTES. 263 

SCENE II. 

" Sir Benjamin Backbite : 

" Sure never were seen two such beautiful ponies ; 
Other horses are clowns, but these macaronies : 
To give them this title I 'm sure can't be wrong, 
Their legs are so slim and their tails are so long." 

The reading of this epigram by Sir Benjamin Backbite is per- 
haps another of Sheridan's reminiscences of Moliere; at least 
there is a situation not unlike it in the ' Precieuses 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 arose a variety called the dude. 

" The Italians are extremely fond of a dish they call macaroni, 
composed of a kind of paste; and, as they consider this the 
summum bonuni 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 fellow ; and, accordingly, to distinguish themselves as 
such, they instituted a club under this denomination, the mem- 
bers 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 chib, 
hanging down their shoulders, as white as a baker's sack " 
('Pocket-book,' 1773, quoted in Mr. T. L. O. Davies's 'Supple- 
mentary Glossary'). The name of the macaroni is also pre- 
served 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." 



264 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

This scandal scene of Sheridan's had predecessors in the 
comedies of Congreve and of Wycherley, not to go back as far 
as the ' Misanthrope ' of Moliere. Hard and cruel as Sheridan's 
scene now seems to us, it is gentle indeed when contrasted with 
the cudgel-play of Congreve and Wycherley. It is possible that 
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 atten- 
tion to a parallel passage in the ' Trinummus ' of Plautus, and 
suggests that it would furnish a very pat motto for this play : 

" Quod si exquiratur usque ab stirpe auctoritas, 
Unde quicquid auditum dicant, nisi id appareat. 
Famigeratori res sit cum damno et malo : 
Hoc ita si fiat, publico fiat bono. 
Pauci sint faxim, qui sciant quod nesciunt; 
Occlusioremque habeant stultiloquentiam." 



ACT III. 

SCENE I. 

" Sir Peter. But, Moses ! would not you have him run out a 
little against the Annuity Bill?" 

In 1777 a committee of the House of Commons was ap- 
pointed to inquire into the laws concerning usury and annui- 
ties; and on its report in May, the month in which this play 
was first acted, a bill was brought in and passed, providing that 
all contracts with minors for annuities shall be void, and that 
those procuring them and solicitors charging more than ten 
shillings per cent shall be subject to fine or imprisonment. 



NOTES. 265 

" Sir Peter. No, never ! " 

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. 

" Trip. 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 bouquets,' was said to Sir Peter as he was complain- 
ing 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 ser- 
vants talk as their masters; but this is an old failing of writers 
of comedy, although few of them would have risked this accu- 
rate use of the legal phraseology which Sheridan at all times af- 
fected. But there is in Ben Jonson's ' Every Man in his Humour ' 
(Act III., Scene II.) a speech of Knowell's servant, Brairiworm, 
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, Brainworm." 
Sheridan's Trip and Fag recall the amusing personages of 

* High Life below Stairs,' 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 



266 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

charge. The music to Sheridan's song was composed by his 
father-in-law, Thomas Linley, who had been his partner in the 
' Duenna.' 

" Moses. Oh, pray, sir, consider ! Mr. Premium 's a gentle- 
man." 

In Foote's * Minor,' there is a spendthrift son, whose father 
visits him in disguise to test him; and in Foote's 'Arthur,' a 
father returns in disguise, and, to his great delight, hears his son 
disclose the most admirable sentiments; but there is no real 
likeness between either of Foote's scenes and this of Sheridan's, 
the real original of which is perhaps to be found in his mother's 
* Sidney Biddulph,' in which an East Indian uncle returns to test 
a nephew and a niece. Yet there is possibly a slight resem- 
blance between " little Premium the broker," and " little Trans- 
fer, the broker," in the " Minor." 

" Moses. Oh, yes ; I '11 swear to 't ! " 

An erring tradition authorizes Moses to interpolate freely and 
frequently throughout the rest of the scene a more or less mean- 
ingless " I '11 take my oath of that." As the part of Moses 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 Stoops to Conquer,' in which Tony offers to swear to his 
mother's assertion that Miss Hardcastle's jewels have been 
stolen. 

ACT IV. 

SCENE I. 
" Charles. But come, get to your pulpit, Mr. Auctioneer." 

The absurdity of an auction with only one bidder has been 
commented upon often, but surely Sheridan never intended the 
auction to be taken seriously. The pretence of an auction is 
surely a freak of Charles's humour and high spirits. 



NOTES. 267 

"Charles. Well, here 's my great uncle, Sir Richard Raveline." 
The * School for Scandal ' was one of the plays performed by 
the English actors on their famous visit to Paris in 1827, a 
visit which revealed the might and range of the English drama 
to the French and thereby served to make possible the Roman- 
ticist revolt of 1830. Victor Hugo was an assiduous follower 
of the English performances; and it may be that this scene of 
the ' School for Scandal ' suggested to him the scene with the 
portraits in ' Hernani.' 

SCENE II. 

" Charles. Be just before you 're generous." 
In a note to an anonymous pamphlet biographical sketch of 
Sheridan, published in 1799, there is quoted a remark of a lady 
which is not without point and pertinency : " Mr. Sheridan is 
a fool if he pays a bill (of which, by the by, he is not accused) 
of one of the tradesmen who received his comedy with such 
thunders of applause. He ought to tell them in the words of 
Charles, that he could never make Justice keep pace with Gen- 
erosity, and they could have no right to complain." 

SCENE III. 
"Joseph. Stay, stay; draw that screen before the windows ! " 

It has been often objected that the hiding of Lady Teazle 
behind the screen put her in full view of the opposite neighbour, 
the maiden lady of so curious a temper; but it must be remem- 
bered 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 preju- 
dice to you." 

The late Abraham Hayward, in his ' Selected Essays ' (i. 400), 
calls this "the recast of a fine reflection in 'Zadig,' " and quotes, 



268 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

in a foot-note, Voltaire's words : " Astarte est femme, elle laisse 
parler ses regards avec d'autant plus d'imprudence qu'elle ne 
se croit pas encore coupable. Malheureusement rassuree sur 
son innocence, elle neglige les dehors necessaires. Je trem- 
blerai pour elle tant qu'elle n'aura rien a se reprocher." 

" Charles Surface throws down the screen." 

Boaden, the biographer of Kemble, has the hyper-ingenuity 
to discover in the fall of the rug 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. Lady Teazle, by all that 's damnable ! " 

Nowadays most Sir 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 honour 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. 

ACT V. 

SCENE I. 

" Sir Oliver. What ! 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 thrust in segoon quite through his left 
side." 



NOTES. 269 

" 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 ceremony of the boys at Eton, 
abolished only in 1847. ^ consisted of a procession to a 
mound {ad monteni} near the Bath Road, where they exacted 
money from those present and from all passers-by. The sum 
collected, sometimes nearly ^1000, 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 carrying the joke a little too far. 

SCENE III. 

" Snake. Ah, sir, consider I live by the badness of my 
character." 

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, 



2/0 THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. 

' Letter to Thomas Moore, Esq., on the subject of Sheridan's 
"School for Scandal'" (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). 

EPILOGUE. 

" 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 parr. basto king and queen." 
In the game of ombre, at its height when Pope wrote the 
f Rape of the Lock,' and still surviving when Colman wrote this 
epilogue, "Spadille" was the ace of spades, "pam" was the 
knave of clubs, and " basto " was the ace of clubs. 



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