THE CRITIC OR A Tragedy Rehearsed A Dramatic Piece in three ACTS as it is performed at the THEATRE ROYAL in DRURY LANE
BY Richard Brinsley Sheridan Esqr LONDON. Printed for T. Becket, Adelphi, Strand, MDCCLXXXI.
TO Mrs. GREVILLE.
IN requesting your permission to address the following pages to you, which as they aim themselves to be critical, require every pro|tection and allowance that approving taste or friendly prejudice can give them, I yet ven|tured to mention no other motive than the gra|tification of private friendship and esteem. Had I suggested a hope that your implied approba|tion would give a sanction to their defects, your particular reserve, and dislike to the re|putation of critical taste, as well as of poetical talent, would have made you refuse the pro|tection of your name to such a purpose. How|ever, I am not so ungrateful as now to attempt to combat this disposition in you. I shall not here presume to argue that the present state of poetry claims and expects every assistance that taste and example can afford it: nor en|deavour to prove that a fastidious concealment of the most elegant productions of judgment and fancy is an ill return for the possession of those Page ii endowments.—Continue to deceive yourself in the idea that you are known only to be emi|nently admired and regarded for the valuable qualities that attach private friendships, and the graceful talents that adorn conversation. Enough of what you have written, has stolen into full public notice to answer my purpose; and you will, perhaps, be the only person, conversant in elegant literature, who shall read this address and not perceive that by publishing your particular approbation of the following drama, I have a more interested object than to boast the true respect and regard with which
Your very sincere, And obedient humble servant, R. B. SHERIDAN.
- Dangle Mr. DODD.
- Sneer Mr. PALMER.
- Sir Fretful Plagiary, Mr. PARSONS.
- Signor Pasticcio Ritornello, Mr. DELPINI.
- Interpreter Mr. BADDELEY.
- Under Prompter Mr. PHILLIMORE.
- Puff Mr. KING.
- Mrs. Dangle Mrs. HOPKINS.
- Italian Girls Miss FIELD, and the Miss ABRAMS.
- Characters of the TRAGEDY.
- Lord Burleigh Mr. MOODY.
- Governor of Tilbury Fort, Mr. WRIGHTEN.
- Earl of Leicester Mr. FARREN.
- Sir Walter Raleigh Mr. BURTON
- Sir Christopher Hatton Mr. WALDRON.
- Master of the Horse Mr. KENNY
- Beefeater Mr. WRIGHT.
- Justice Mr. PACKER.
- Son Mr. LAMASH.
- Constable Mr. FAWCETT.
- Thames Mr. GAWDRY.
- Don Ferolo Whiskerandos, Mr. BANNISTER, jun.
- 1st Niece Miss COLLET.
- 2d Niece Miss KIRBY.
- Justice's Lady Mrs. JOHNSTON.
- Confidant Mrs. BRADSHAW.
- Tilburina Miss POPE.
- Guards, Constables, Servants, Chorus, Rivers, At|tendants, &c. &c.
Yes, that's your gazette.
So, here we have it.—
"Theatrical intelligence extraordinary,"—
Lord, Mr. Dangle, why will you plague me about such nonsense?—Now the plays are be|gun I shall have no peace.—Isn't it sufficient to make yourself ridiculous by your passion for the theatre, without continually teazing me to join you? Why can't you ride your hobby-horse without desiring to place me on a pillion behind you, Mr. Dangle?
Nay, my dear, I was only going to read—
No, no; you never will read any thing that's worth listening to:—you hate to hear about your country; there are letters every day with Ro|man signatures, demonstrating the certainty of an invasion, and proving that the nation is ut|terly undone—But you never will read any thing to entertain one.
What has a woman to do with politics, Mrs. Dangle?
And what have you to do with the theatre, Mr. Dangle? Why should you affect the cha|racter of a Critic? I have no patience with you! —haven't you made yourself the jest of all your acquaintance by your interference in matters where you have no business? Are not you call'd a theatrical Quidnunc, and a mock Maecenas to second-hand authors?
True; my power with the Managers is pretty notorious; but is it no credit to have applica|tions from all quarters for my interest?—From lords to recommend fidlers, from ladies to get Page 4 boxes, from authors to get answers, and from actors to get engagements.
Yes, truly; you have contrived to get a share in all the plague and trouble of theatri|cal property, without the profit, or even the cre|dit of the abuse that attends it.
I am sure, Mrs. Dangle, you are no loser by it, however; you have all the advantages of it: —mightn't you, last winter, have had the read|ing of the new Pantomime a fortnight pre|vious to its performance? And doesn't Mr. Fos|brook let you take places for a play before it is advertis'd, and set you down for a Box for every new piece through the season? And didn't my friend, Mr. Smatter, dedicate his last Farce to you at my particular request, Mrs. Dangle?
Yes; but wasn't the Farce damn'd, Mr. Dangle? And to be sure it is extremely pleasant to have one's house made the motley rendezvous of all the lackeys of literature!—The very high change of trading authors and jobbing critics!—Yes, my drawing-room is an absolute register-office for candidate actors, and poets without character;—then to be continually alarmed with Misses and Ma'ams piping histeric changes on Page 5 JULIETS and DORINDAS, POLLYS and OPHELIAS; and the very furniture trembling at the proba|tionary starts and unprovok'd rants of would-be RICHARDS and HAMLETS!—And what is worse than all, now that the Manager has monopoliz'd the Opera-House, haven't we the Signors and Signioras calling here, sliding their smooth se|mibreves, and gargling glib divisions in their outlandish throats—with foreign emissaries and French spies, for ought I know, disguised like fidlers and figure dancers!
Mercy! Mrs. Dangle!
And to employ yourself so idly at such an alarming crisis as this too—when, if you had the least spirit, you would have been at the head of one of the Westminster associations—or trailing a volunteer pike in the Artillery Ground!—But you—o'my conscience, I believe if the French were landed to-morrow, your first enquiry would be, whether they had brought a theat|rical troop with them.
Mrs. Dangle, it does not signify—I say the stage is "the Mirror of Nature," and the ac|tors are "the Abstract, and brief Chronicles of the Time:"—and pray what can a man of sense Page 6 study better?—Besides, you will not easily per|suade me that there is no credit or importance in being at the head of a band of critics, who take upon them to decide for the whole town, whose opinion and patronage all writers solicit, and whose recommendation no manager dares refuse!
Ridiculous!—Both managers and authors of the least merit, laugh at your pretensions.—The PUBLIC is their CRITIC—without whose fair approbation they know no play can rest on the stage, and with whose applause they welcome such attacks as yours, and laugh at the malice of them, where they can't at the wit.
Very well, Madam—very well.
Mr. Sneer, Sir, to wait on you.
O, shew Mr. Sneer up.
Plague on't, now we must appear loving and affectionate, or Sneer will hitch us into a story.
With all my heart; you can't be more ridicu|lous than you are.
Your are enough to provoke—
—Hah! my dear Sneer, I am vastly glad to see you. My dear, here's Mr. Sneer.
Good morning to you, Sir.
Mrs. Dangle and I have been diverting our|selves with the papers.—Pray, Sneer, won't you go to Drury-lane theatre the first night of Puff's tragedy?
Yes; but I suppose one shan't be able to get in, for on the first night of a new piece they always fill the house with orders to support it. But here, Dangle, I have brought you two pieces, one of which you must exert your|self to make the Managers accept, I can tell you that, for 'tis written by a person of conse|quence.
So! now my plagues are beginning!
Aye, I am glad of it, for now you'll be happy. Why, my dear Dangle, it is a plea|sure Page 8 to see how you enjoy your volunteer fa|tigue, and your solicited solicitations.
It's a great trouble—yet, egad, its pleasant too.—Why, sometimes of a morning, I have a dozen people call on me at breakfast time, whose faces I never saw before, nor ever desire to see again.
That must be very pleasant indeed!
And not a week but I receive fifty letters, and not a line in them about any business of my own.
An amusing correspondence!
"Bursts into tears, and exit." What, is this a tragedy?
No, that's a genteel comedy, not a transla|tion—only taken from the French; it is written in a stile which they have lately tried to run down; the true sentimental, and nothing ridicu|lous in it from the beginning to the end.
Well, if they had kept to that, I should not have been such an enemy to the stage, there was some edification to be got from those pieces, Mr. Sneer!
I am quite of your opinion, Mrs. Dangle; the theatre, in proper hands, might certainly be made the school of morality; but now, I am sorry to say it, people seem to go there princi|pally for their entertainment!
It would have been more to the credit of the Managers to have kept it in the other line.
Undoubtedly, Madam, and hereafter perhaps to have had it recorded, that in the midst of a luxurious and dissipated age, they preserv'd two houses in the capital, where the conversation was always moral at least, if not entertaining!
Now, egad, I think the worst alteration is in the nicety of the audience.—No double enten|dre, no smart inuendo admitted; even Van|burgh and Congreve oblig'd to undergo a bungling reformation!
Yes, and our prudery in this respect is just on a par with the artificial bashfulness of a courte|zan, who encreases the blush upon her cheek in an exact proportion to the diminution of her modesty.
Sneer can't even give the Public a good word!—But what have we here?—This seems a very odd—
O, that's a comedy, on a very new plan; replete with wit and mirth, yet of a most seri|ous moral! You see it is call'd "THE RE|FORMED HOUSEBREAKER;" where, by the mere force of humour, HOUSEBREAKING is put into so ridiculous a light, that if the piece has its proper run, I have no doubt but that bolts and bars will be entirely useless by the end of the season.
Egad, this is new indeed!
Yes; it is written by a particular friend of mine, who has discovered that the follies and foi|bles of society, are subjects unworthy the notice of the Comic Muse, who should be taught to stoop only at the greater vices and blacker crimes of humanity—gibbeting capital offences in five acts, and pillorying petty larcenies in two.—In short, Page 11 his idea is to dramatize the penal laws, and make the Stage a court of ease to the Old Bailey.
It is truly moral.
Sir Fretful Plagiary, Sir.
Beg him to walk up.—
I confess he is a favourite of mine, because every body else abuses him.
—Very much to the credit of your charity, Madam, if not of your judgment.
But, egad, he allows no merit to any author but himself, that's the truth on't—tho' he's my friend.
Never.—He is as envious as an old maid verging on the desperation of six-and-thirty: and then the insiduous humility with which he seduces you to give a free opinion on any of his Page 12 works, can be exceeded only by the petulant arrogance with which he is sure to reject your observations.
Very true, egad—tho' he's my friend.
Then his affected contempt of all newspa|per strictures; tho', at the same time, he is the sorest man alive, and shrinks like scorch'd parch|ment from the fiery ordeal of true criticism: yet is he so covetous of popularity, that he had rather be abused than not mentioned at all.
There's no denying it—tho' he is my friend.
You have read the tragedy he has just fi|nished, haven't you?
O yes; he sent it to me yesterday.
Well, and you think it execrable, don't you?
Why between ourselves, egad I must own—tho' he's my friend—that it is one of the most Page 13 —He's here
Ah, my dear friend!—Egad, we were just speak|ing of your Tragedy.—Admirable, Sir Fretful, admirable!
You never did any thing beyond it, Sir Fret|ful —never in your life.
You make me extremely happy;—for without a compliment, my dear Sneer, there isn't a man in the world whose judgment I value as I do yours.—And Mr. Dangle's.
They are only laughing at you, Sir Fretful; for it was but just now that—
Mrs. Dangle!—Ah, Sir Fretful, you know Mrs. Dangle.—My friend Sneer was rallying just now—He knows how she admires you, and—
O Lord—I am sure Mr. Sneer has more taste and sincerity than to—A damn'd double-faced fellow!
Yes, yes,—Sneer will jest—but a better hu|mour'd—
O, I know—
He has a ready turn for ridicule—his wit costs him nothing.—
No, egad—or I should wonder how he came by it.
Because his jest is always at the expence of his friend.
But, Sir Fretful, have you sent your play to the managers yet?—or can I be of any service to you?
No, No, I thank you; I believe the piece had sufficient recommendation with it.—I thank you tho'.—I sent it to the manager of COVENT|GARDEN THEATRE this morning.
I should have thought now, that it might have been cast (as the actors call it) better at DRURY-LANE
O lud! no—never send a play there while I live—harkee!
Writes himself!—I know he does—
I say nothing—I take away from no man's merit—am hurt at no man's good fortune—I say nothing.—But this I will say—through all my knowledge of life, I have observ'd—that there is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy!
I believe you have reason for what you say, indeed.
Besides—I can tell you it is not always so safe to leave a play in the hands of those who write themselves.
What, they may steal from them, hey, my dear Plagiary?
Steal!—to besure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children, disfigure them to make 'em pass for their own.
But your present work is a sacrifice to Melpo|mene, and HE, you know, never—
That's no security.—A dext'rous plagiarist may do any thing.—Why, Sir, for ought I know, he might take out some of the best things in my tragedy, and put them into his own co|medy.
That might be done, I dare be sworn.
And then, if such a person gives you the least hint or assistance, he is devilish apt to take the merit of the whole.—
If it succeeds.
Aye—but with regard to this piece, I think I can hit that gentleman, for I can safely swear he never read it.
I'll tell you how you may hurt him more—
Swear he wrote it.
Plague on't now, Sneer, I shall take it ill.—I believe you want to take away my character as an author!
Then I am sure you ought to be very much oblig'd to me.
O you know, he never means what he says.
Sincerely then—you do like the piece?
But come now, there must be something that you think might be mended, hey?—Mr. Dangle, has nothing struck you?
Why faith, it is but an ungracious thing for the most part to—
—With most authors it is just so indeed; they are in general strangely tenacious!—But, for Page 18 my part, I am never so well pleased as when a judicious critic points out any defect to me; for what is the purpose of shewing a work to a friend, if you don't mean to profit by his opi|nion?
Very true.—Why then, tho' I seriously ad|mire the piece upon the whole, yet there is one small objection; which, if you'll give me leave, I'll mention.
SIR, you can't oblige me more.
I think it wants incident.
Good God!—you surprize me!—wants in|cident!—
Yes; I own I think the incidents are too few.
Good God!—Believe me, Mr. Sneer, there is no person for whose judgment I have a more implicit deference.—But I protest to you, Mr. Sneer, I am only apprehensive that the inci|dents are too crowded.—My dear Dangle, how does it strike you?
Really I can't agree with my friend Sneer.—I Page 19 think the plot quite sufficient; and the four first acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest any thing, it is that the interest rather falls off in the fifth.—
—Rises; I believe you mean, Sir.
No; I don't upon my word.
Yes, yes, you do upon my soul—it certainly don't fall off, I assure you—No, no, it don't fall off.
Now, Mrs. Dangle, didn't you say it struck you in the same light?
No, indeed, I did not—I did not see a fault in any part of the play from the beginning to the end.
Upon my soul the women are the best jud|ges after all!
Or if I made any objection, I am sure it was to nothing in the piece; but that I was afraid it was, on the whole, a little too long.
Pray, Madam, do you speak as to duration of Page 20 time; or do you mean that the story is tediously spun out?
O Lud! no.—I speak only with reference to the usual length of acting plays.
Then I am very happy—very happy indeed,—because the play is a short play, a remarkably short play:—I should not venture to differ with a lady on a point of taste; but, on these occa|sions, the watch, you know, is the critic.
Then, I suppose, it must have been Mr. Dangle's drawling manner of reading it to me.
O, if Mr. Dangle read it! that's quite ano|ther affair!—But I assure you, Mrs. Dangle, the first evening you can spare me three hours and an half, I'll undertake to read you the whole from beginning to end, with the Prologue and Epilogue, and allow time for the music between the acts.
I hope to see it on the stage next.
Well, Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to Page 21 get rid as easily of the news-paper criticisms as you do of ours.—
The NEWS-PAPERS!—Sir, they are the most villainous—licentious—abominable—infernal—Not that I ever read them—No—I make it a rule never to look into a news-paper.
You are quite right—for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the li|berties they take
No!—quite the contrary;—their abuse is, in fact, the best panegyric—I like it of all things.—An author's reputation is only in dan|ger from their support.
Why that's true—and that attack now on you the other day—
Aye, you mean in a paper of Thursday; it was compleatly ill-natur'd to be sure.
O, so much the better.—Ha! ha! ha!—I wou'dn't have it otherwise.
Certainly it is only to be laugh'd at; for—
—You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?
Pray, Dangle—Sir Fretful seems a little anxi|ous—
—O lud, no!—anxious,—not I,—not the least. —I—But one may as well hear you know.
Sneer, do you recollect?—Make out something.
Well, and pray now—Not that it signifies—what might the gentleman say?
Why, he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention, or original genius what|ever; tho' you are the greatest traducer of all other authors living.
Ha! ha! ha!—very good!
That as to COMEDY, you have not one idea of your own, he believes, even in your com|mon place-book—where stray jokes, and pil|fered witticisms are kept with as much me|thod as the ledger of the LOST-and-STOLEN-OFFICE.
—Ha! ha! ha!—very pleasant!
Nay, that you are so unlucky as not to have the skill even to steal with taste.—But that you gleen from the refuse of obscure volumes, where more judicious plagiarists have been before you; so that the body of your work is a composition of dregs and sediments—like a bad tavern's worst wine.
In your more serious efforts, he says, your bombast would be less intolerable, if the thoughts were ever suited to the expression; but the homeliness of the sentiment stares thro' the fantastic encumbrance of it's fine language, like a clown in one of the new uniforms!
That your occasional tropes and flowers suit the general coarseness of your stile, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey-wolfey; while your imitations of Shakespeare resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's Page, and are about as near the standard of the original.
—In short, that even the finest passages you steal are of no service to you; for the poverty of your own language prevents their assimilating; so that they lie on the surface like lumps of marl on a barren moor, encumbering what it is not in their power to fertilize!—
—Now another person would be vex'd at this.
Oh! but I wou'dn't have told you, only to di|vert you.
I know it—I am diverted,—Ha! ha! ha!—not the least invention!—Ha! ha! ha! very good!—very good!
Yes—no genius! Ha! ha! ha!
A severe rogue! Ha! ha! ha! But you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such non|sense.
To be sure—for if there is any thing to one's praise, it is a foolish vanity to be gratified at it, and if it is abuse,—why one is always sure to hear of it from one damn'd good natur'd friend or another!
Sir, there is an Italian gentleman, with a French Interpreter, and three young ladies, and a dozen musicians, who say they are sent by LADY RONDEAU and MRS. FUGE.
Gadso! they come by appointment. Dear Mrs. Dangle do let them know I'll see them directly.
You know, Mr. Dangle, I shan't understand a word they say.
But you hear there's an interpreter.
Well, I'll try to endure their complaisance till you come.
And Mr. PUFF, Sir, has sent word that the last rehearsal is to be this morning, and that he'll call on you presently.
That's true—I shall certainly be at home.
Pshaw! Sir, why should I wish to have it an|swered, when I tell you I am pleased at it?
True, I had forgot that.—But I hope you are not fretted at what Mr. Sneer—
—Zounds! no, Mr. Dangle, don't I tell you these things never fret me in the least.
Nay, I only thought—
—And let me tell you, Mr. Dangle, 'tis Page 27 damn'd affronting in you to suppose that I am hurt, when I tell you I am not.
But why so warm, Sir Fretful?
Gadslife! Mr. Sneer, you are as absurd as Dangle; how often must I repeat it to you, that nothing can vex me but your supposing it possible for me to mind the damn'd nonsense you have been repeating to me!—and let me tell you, if you continue to believe this, you must mean to insult me, gentlemen—and then your disrespect will affect me no more than the news|paper criticisms—and I shall treat it—with ex|actly the same calm indifference and philosophic contempt—and so your servant.
Ha! ha! ha! Poor Sir Fretful! Now will he go and vent his philosophy in anonymous abuse of all modern critics and authors—But, Dangle, you must get you friend PUFF to take me to the rehearsal of his tragedy.
I'll answer for't, he'll thank you for desiring it. But come and help me to judge of this musical family; they are recommended by people of consequence, I assure you.
I am at your disposal the whole morning—but I thought you had been a decided critic in musick, as well as in literature?
So I am—but I have a bad ear.—Efaith, Sneer, tho', I am afraid we were a little too severe on Sir Fretful—tho' he is my friend.
Why, 'tis certain, that unnecessarily to mor|tify the vanity of any writer, is a cruelty which mere dulness never can deserve; but where a base and personal malignity usurps the place of literary emulation, the aggressor deserves nei|ther quarter nor pity.
That's ture egad!—tho' he's my friend!
Je dis madame, ja'i l'honneur to introduce & de vous demander votre protection pour le Signor PASTICCIO RETORNELLO & pour sa charmante famille.
Ah! Vosignoria noi vi preghiamo di favori tevi colla vostra protezione.
Vosignoria fatevi questi grazzie.
Madame—me interpret.—C'est à dire—in English—quils vous prient de leur faire l'hon|neur—
—I say again, gentlemen, I don't understand a word you say.
Questo Signore spiegheró.
Oui—me interpret.—nous avons les lettres de recommendation pour Monsieur Dangle de—
—Upon my word, Sir, I don't understand you.
La CONTESSA RONDEAU e nostra padrona.
Si, padre, & mi LADI FUGE.
O!—me interpret.—Madame, ils disent—in English—Qu'ils ont l'honneur d'etre proteges de ces Demes.—You understand?
No, Sir,—no understand!
Ah voici Monsieur Dangle!
A! Signor Dangle!
Mr. Dangle, here are two very civil gentle|men trying to make themselves understood, and I don't know which is the interpreter.
Monsieur Dangle—le grand bruit de vos talents pour la critique & de votre interest avec Messieurs les Directeurs a tous les Theatres.
Vosignoria siete si famoso par la vostra conoscensa e vostra interessa colla le Diret|tore da—
Egad I think the Interpreter is the hardest to be understood of the two!
Why I thought, Dangle, you had been an ad|mirable linguist!
So I am, if they would not talk so damn'd fast.
Well I'll explain that—the less time we lose in hearing them the better,—for that I suppose is what they are brought here for.
Shew him up.
Bravo! admirable! bravissimo! admirablis|simo! —Ah! Sneer! where will you find such as these voices in England?
But PUFF is coming.—Signor and little Sig|nora's—obligatissimo!—Sposa Signora Danglena Page 32 —Mrs. Dangle, shall I beg you to offer them some refreshments, and take their address in the next room.
Mr. PUFF, Sir!
My dear PUFF!
My dear Dangle, how is it with you?
Mr. Sneer, give me leave to introduce Mr. PUFF to you.
Mr. Sneer is this? Sir, he is a gentleman whom I have long panted for the honour of knowing—a gentleman whose critical talents and transcendant judgment—
Nay, don't be modest, Sneer, my friend PUFF only talks to you in the stile of his profession.
Yes, Sir; I make no secret of the trade I fol|low—among friends and brother authors, Dangle knows I love to be frank on the sub|ject, and to advertise myself vivâ voce.—I am, Sir, a Practitioner in Panegyric, or to speak more plainly—a Professor of the Art of Puffing, at your service—or any body else's.
Sir, you are very obliging!—I believe, Mr. Puff, I have often admired your talents in the daily prints.
Yes, Sir, I flatter myself I do as much busi|ness in that way as any six of the fraternity in town—Devilish hard work all the summer—Friend Dangle? never work'd harder!—But harkee,—the Winter Managers were a little sore I believe.
No—I believe they took it all in good part.
Aye!—Then that must have been affecta|tion in them, for egad, there were some of the attacks which there was no laughing at!
Aye, the humourous ones.—But I should think Mr. Puff, that Authors would in general be able to do this sort of work for themselves.
Why yes—but in a clumsy way.—Besides, we look on that as an encroachment, and so take the opposite side.—I dare say now you conceive half the very civil paragraphs and advertise|ments you see, to be written by the parties con|cerned, or their friends?—No such thing—Nine out of ten, manufactured by me in the way of business.
Even the Auctioneers now,—the Auctioneers I say, tho' the rogues have lately got some cre|dit for their language—not an article of the merit their's!—take them out of their Pulpits, and they are as dull as Catalogues.—No, Sir;—'twas I first enrich'd their style—'twas I first taught them to crowd their advertisements with panegyrical superlatives, each epithet rising above the other—like the Bidders in their own Auction-rooms! From ME they learn'd to enlay their phraseology with variegated chips of exo|tic metaphor: by ME too their inventive facul|ties Page 35 were called forth.—Yes Sir, by ME they were instructed to clothe ideal walls with gra|tuitous fruits—to insinuate obsequious rivulets into visionary groves—to teach courteous shrubs to nod their approbation of the grateful soil! or on emergencies to raise upstart oaks, where there never had been an acorn; to create a de|lightful vicinage without the assistance of a neighbour; or fix the temple of Hygeia in the fens of Lincolnshire!
I am sure, you have done them infinite ser|vice; for now, when a gentleman is ruined, he parts with his house with some credit.
Service! if they had any gratitude, they would erect a statue to him, they would figure him as a presiding Mercury, the god of traffic and fiction, with a hammer in his hand instead of a caduceus.—But pray, Mr. Puff, what first put you on exercising your talents in this way?
Egad sir,—sheer necessity—the proper parent of an art so nearly allied to invention: you must know Mr. Sneer, that from the first time I tried my hand at an advertisement, my success was such, that for sometime after, I led a most ex|traordinary life indeed!
Sir, I supported myself two years entirely by my misfortunes.
By your misfortunes!
Yes Sir, assisted by long sickness, and other occasional disorders; and a very comfortable liv|ing I had of it.
From sickness and misfortunes!—You prac|tised as a Doctor, and an Attorney at once?
No egad, both maladies and miseries were my own.
Hey!—what the plague!
'Tis true, efaith.
Harkee!—By advertisements—"To the cha|ritable and humane!" and "to those whom Providence hath blessed with affluence!"
Oh,—I understand you.
And in truth, I deserved what I got, for I suppose never man went thro' such a series of calamities in the same space of time!—Sir, I was five times made a bankrupt, and reduced from a state of affluence, by a train of unavoid|able misfortunes! then Sir, tho' a very in|dustrious tradesman, I was twice burnt out, and lost my little all, both times!—I lived upon those fires a month.—I soon after was con|fined by a most excruciating disorder, and lost the use of my limbs!—That told very well, for I had the case strongly attested, and went about to collect the subscriptions myself.
Egad, I believe that was when you first called on me.—
—In November last?—O no!—I was at that time, a close prisoner in the Marshalsea, for a debt benevolently contracted to serve a friend!—I was afterwards, twice tapped for a dropsy, which declined into a very profitable consumption!—I was then reduced to—O no—then, I became a widow with six helpless children,—after having had eleven husbands pressed, and being left every time eight months Page 38 gone with child, and without money to get me into an hospital!
And you bore all with patience, I make no doubt?
Why, yes,—tho' I made some occasional at|tempts at felo de se; but as I did not find those rash actions answer, I left off killing myself very soon.—Well, Sir,—at last, what with bankrupt|cies, fires, gouts, dropsies, imprisonments, and other valuable calamities, having got together a pretty handsome sum, I determined to quit a business which had always gone rather against my conscience, and in a more liberal way still to indulge my talents for fiction and embellish|ment, thro' my favourite channels of diurnal communication—and so, Sir, you have my his|tory.
Most obligingly communicative indeed; and your confession if published, might certainly serve the cause of true charity, by rescuing the most useful channels of appeal to benevolence from the cant of imposition.—But surely, Mr. PUFF, there is no great mystery in your present profession?
Mystery! Sir, I will take upon me to say the matter was never scientifically treated, nor reduced to rule before.
Reduced to rule?
O lud, Sir! you are very ignorant, I am afraid.—Yes Sir,—PUFFING is of various sorts—the principal are, The PUFF DIRECT—the PUFF PRELIMINARY—the PUFF COLLATERAL—the PUFF COLLUSIVE, and the PUFF OBLIQUE, or PUFF by IMPLICATION.—These all assume, as circumstances require, the various forms of LETTER TO THE EDITOR—OCCASIONAL ANEC|DOTE—IMPARTIAL CRITIQUE—OBSERVATION from CORRESPONDENT,—or ADVERTISEMENT FROM THE PARTY.
The puff direct, I can conceive—
O yes, that's simple enough,—for instance—A new Comedy or Farce is to be produced at one of the Theatres (though by the bye they don't bring out half what they ought to do) The author, suppose Mr. Smatter, or Mr. Dapper—or any particular friend of mine—very well; Page 40 the day before it is to be performed, I write an account of the manner in which it was re|ceived—I have the plot from the author,—and only add—Characters strongly drawn—highly coloured—hand of a master—fund of genuine humour—mine of invention—neat dialogue—attic salt! Then for the performance—Mr. DODD was astonishingly great in the character of SIR HARRY! That universal and judicious actor Mr. PALMER, perhaps never appeared to more advantage than in the COLONEL;—but it is not in the power of language to do justice to Mr. KING!—Indeed he more than merited those repeated bursts of applause which he drew from a most brilliant and judicious audience! As to the scenery—The miraculous power of Mr. DE LOUTHER BOURG's pencil are universally acknow|ledged!—In short, we are at a loss which to ad|mire most,—the unrivalled genius of the author, the great attention and liberality of the ma|nagers—the wonderful abilities of the painter, or the incredible exertions of all the perfor|mers!—
That's pretty well indeed, Sir.
O cool—quite cool—to what I sometimes do.
And do you think there are any who are in|fluenced by this.
O, lud! yes, Sir;—the number of those who go thro' the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed!
Well, Sir,—the PUFF PRELIMINARY?
O that, Sir, does well in the form of a Caution.—In a matter of gallantry now—Sir FLIMSY GOSSIMER, wishes to be well with LADY FANNY FETE—He applies to me—I open trenches for him with a paragraph in the Morning Post.—It is recommended to the beautiful and accomplished Lady F four stars F dash E to be on her guard against that dangerous character, Sir F dash G; who, however pleasing and insinuating his man|ners may be, is certainly not remarkable for the constancy of his attachments!—in Italics.—Here you see, Sir FLIMSY GOSSIMER is introduced to the particular notice of Lady FANNY—who, perhaps never thought of him before—she finds herself publickly cautioned to avoid him, which naturally makes her desirous of seeing him;—the observation of their acquaintance causes a Page 42 pretty kind of mutual embarrassment, this pro|duces a sort of sympathy of interest—which, if Sir Flimsy is unable to improve effectually, he at least gains the credit of having their names mentioned together, by a particular set, and in a particular way,—which nine times out of ten is the full accomplishment of modern gallantry!
Egad, Sneer, you will be quite an adept in the business.
Now, Sir, the PUFF COLLATERAL is much used as an appendage to advertisements, and may take the form of anecdote.—Yesterday as the celebrated GEORGE BON-MOT was saun|tering down St. James's-street, he met the lively Lady MARY MYRTLE, coming out of the Park,—'Good God, LADY MARY, I'm surprised to meet you in a white jacket,—for I expected never to have seen you, but in a full-trim|med unifor, and a light-horseman's cap!'—"Heavens, GEORGE, where could you have learned that?"—'Why, replied the wit, I just saw a print of you, in a new publication called The CAMP MAGAZINE, which, by the bye, is a devilish clever thing,—and is sold at No. 3, on the right hand of the way, two doors from the Page 43 printing-office, the corner of Ivy-lane, Pater-noster-row, price only one shilling!'
Very ingenious indeed!
But the PUFF COLLUSIVE is the newest of any; for it acts in the disguise of determined hostility.—It is much used by bold booksellers and enterprising poets.—An indignant corres|pondent observes—that the new poem called BEELZEBUB's COTILLION, or PROSERPINE's FETE CHAMPETRE, is one of the most unjustifi|able performances he ever read! The severity with which certain characters are handled is quite shocking! And as there are many descriptions in it too warmly coloured for female delicacy, the shameful avidity with which this piece is bought by all people of fashion, is a reproach on the taste of the times, and a disgrace to the delicacy of the age!—Here you see the two strongest inducements are held forth;—First, that nobody ought to read it;—and secondly, that every body buys it; on the strength of which, the publisher boldly prints the tenth edi|tion, before the had sold ten of the first; and then establishes it by threatening himself with the pillory, or absolutely indicting himseif for SCAN. MAG.!
Ha! ha! ha!—'gad I know it is so▪
As to the PUFF OBLIQUE, or PUFF BY IM|PLICATION, it is too various and extensive to be illustrated by an instance;—it attracts in titles, and presumes in patents; it lurks in the limitation of a subscription, and invites in the assurance of croud and incommodation at public places; it delights to draw forth conceal|ed merit, with a most disinterested assiduity; and sometimes wears a countenance of smiling cen|sure and tender reproach.—It has a wonderful memory for Parliamentary Debates, and will of|ten give the whole speech of a favoured mem|ber, with the most flattering accuracy. But, above all, it is a great dealer in reports and sup|positions.—It has the earliest intelligence of in|tended preferments that will reflect honor on the patrons; and embryo promotions of modest gentlemen—who know nothing of the matter themselves. It can hint a ribband for implied services, in the air of a common report; and with the carelesness of a casual paragraph, sug|gest officers into commands—to which they have no pretension but their wishes. This, Sir, is the last principal class in the ART of PUFFING—An art which I hope you will Page 45 now agree with me, is of the highest dignity—yielding a tablature of benevolence and public spirit; befriending equally trade, gallantry, cri|ticism, and politics:—the applause of genius! the register of charity! the triumph of heroism! the self defence of contractors! the fame of orators!—and the gazette of ministers!
Sir, I am compleatly a convert both to the importance and ingenuity of your profession; and now, Sir, there is but one thing which can possibly encrease my respect for you, and that is, your permitting me to be present this morning at the rehearsal of your new trage—
—Hush, for heaven's sake.—My tragedy!—Egad, Dangle, I take this very ill—you know how apprehensive I am of being known to be the author.
'Efaith I would not have told—but it's in the papers, and your name at length—in the Morn|ing Chronicle.
Ah! those damn'd editors never can keep a secret!—Well, Mr. Sneer—no doubt you will do me great honour—I shall be infinitely hap|py—highly flattered—
I believe it must be near the time—shall we go together.
No; It will not be yet this hour, for they are always late at that theatre: besides, I must meet you there, for I have some little mat|ters here to send to the papers, and a few para|graphs to scribble before I go.
—Here is 'a CONSCIENTIOUS BAKER, on the Subject of the Army Bread;' and 'a DE|TESTER OF VISIBLE BRICK-WORK, in favor of the new invented Stucco;' both in the style of JUNIUS, and promised for to-morrow.—The Thames navigation too is at a stand—MISO|MUD or ANTI-SHOAL must go to work again di|rectly. —Here too are some political memoran|dums I see; aye—To take PAUL JONES, and get the INDIAMEN out of the SHANNON—reinforce BYRON—compel the DUTCH to—so!—I must do that in the evening papers, or reserve it for the Morning Herald, for I know that I have undertaken to-morrow; besides, to establish the unanimity of the fleet in the Public Advertiser, and to shoot CHARLES Fox in the Morning Post.—So, egad, I ha'n't a moment to lose!
Well!—we'll meet in the Green Room.
NO, no, Sir; what Shakespeare says of ACTORS may be better applied to the pur|pose of PLAYS; they ought to be 'the abstract and brief Chronicles of the times.' Therefore when history, and particularly the history of our own country, furnishes any thing like a case in point, to the time in which an author writes, if he knows his own interest, he will take advan|tage of it; so, Sir, I call my tragedy The SPANISH ARMADA; and have laid the scene be|fore TILBURY FORT.
A most happy thought certainly!
Egad it was—I told you so.—But pray now I dont understand how you have contrived to introduce any love into it.
Love!—Oh nothing so easy; for it is a received point among poets, that where history gives you a good heroic out-line for a play, you may fill up with a little love at your own dis|cretion; in doing which, nine times out of ten, you only make up a deficiency in the private history of the times.—Now I rather think I have done this with some success.
No scandal about Queen ELIZABETH, I hope?
O Lud! no, no.—I only suppose the Gover|nor of Tilbury Fort's daughter to be in love with the son of the Spanish Admiral.
Oh, is that all?
Excellent, Efaith!—I see it at once.—But won't this appear rather improbable?
To be sure it will—but what the plague! a play is not to shew occurrences that happen every day, but things just so strange, that tho' they never did, they might happen.
Certainly nothing is unnatural, that is not physically impossible.
Very true—and for that matter DON FEROLO WISKERANDOS—for that's the lover's name, might have been over here in the train of the Spanish Ambassador; or TILBURINA, for that is the lady's name, might have been in love with him, from having heard his character, or seen his picture; or from knowing that he was the last man in the world she ought to be in love with—or for any other good female reason.—However, Sir, the fact is, that tho' she is but a Knight's daughter, egad! she is in love like any Princess!
Poor young lady! I feel for her already! for I can conceive how great the conflict must be between her passion and her duty; her love for her country, and her love for DON FEROLO WISKERANDOS!
O amazing!—her poor susceptible heart is swayed to and fro, by contending passions like—
Sir, the scene is set, and every thing is ready to begin if you please.—
'Egad; then we'll lose no time.
Tho' I believe, Sir, you will find it very short, for all the performers have profited by the kind permission you granted them.
You know, Sir, you gave them leave to cut out or omit whatever they found heavy or un|necessary to the plot, and I must own they have taken very liberal advantage of your indulgence.
Well, well.—They are in general very good judges; and I know I am luxuriant.—Now, Mr. HOPKINS, as soon as you please.
Gentlemen, will you play a few bars of some|thing, just to—
Aye, that's right,—for as we have the scenes, and dresses, egad, we'll go to't, as if it was the first night's performance;—but you need not mind stopping between the acts.
Soh! stand clear gentlemen.—Now you know there will be a cry of down!—down!—hats off! silence!—Then up curtain,—and let us see what our painters have done for us.
Tilbury Fort!—very fine indeed!
Now, what do you think I open with?
Faith, I can't guess—
A clock.—Hark!—(clock strikes.) I open with a clock striking, to beget an aweful at|tention Page 52 in the audience—it also marks the time, which is four o'clock in the morning, and saves a description of the rising fun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere.
But pray, are the centinels to be asleep?
Fast as watchmen.
Isn't that odd tho' at such an alarming crisis?
To be sure it is,—but smaller things must give way to a striking scene at the opening; that's a rule.—And the case is, that two great men are coming to this very spot to begin the piece; now, it is not to be supposed they would open their lips, if these fellows were watching them, so, egad, I must either have sent them off their posts, or set them asleep.
O that accounts for it!—But tell us, who are these coming?—
These are they—SIR WALTER RALEIGH, and SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON.—You'll know Sir Page 53 CHRISTOPHER, by his turning out his toes—fa|mous you know for his dancing. I like to preserve all the little traits of character.—Now attend.
What, they had been talking before?
O, yes; all the way as they came along.—I beg pardon gentlemen
Pray, Mr. Puff, how came Sir Christopher Hatton never to ask that question before?
What, before the Play began? how the plague could he?
That's true efaith!
But you will hear what he thinks of the matter.
A very cautious conjecture that.
Yes, that's his character; not to give an opi|nion, but on secure grounds—now then.
He calls him by his christian name, to shew that they are on the most familiar terms.
—Mr. Puff, as he knows all this, why does Sir Walter go on telling him?
But the audience are not supposed to know any thing of the matter, are they?
True, but I think you manage ill: for there certainly appears no reason why Sir Walter should be so communicative.
For, egad now, that is one of the most ungrate|ful observations I ever heard—for the less in|ducement he has to tell all th•s, the more I think, you ought to be oblig'd to him; for I am sure you'd know nothing of the matter without it.
That's very true, upon my word.
But you will find he was not going on.
Here, now you see, Sir Christopher did not in fact ask any one question for his own informa|tion.
No indeed:—his has been a most disinterested curiosity!
Really, I find, we are very much oblig'd to them both.
To be sure you are. Now then for the Com|mander in Chief, the EARL OF LEICESTER! who, you know, was no favourite but of the Queen's.—We left off—"in amazement lost!"—
Aye, they envy him.
But who are these with him?
O! very valiant knights; one is the Governor of the fort, the other the master of the horse.—And now, I think you shall hear some better language: I was obliged to be plain and intel|ligible in the first scene, because there was so much matter of fact in it; but now, efaith, you have trope, figure, and metaphor, as plenty as noun-substantives.
There it is,—follow'd up!
Nem. con. egad!
O yes, where they do agree on the stage, their unanimity is wonderful!
What the plague, is he going to pray?
Yes, hush!—in great emergencies, there is nothing like a prayer!
But why should he pray to Mars?
Now, pray all together.
A very orthodox quintetto!
Vastly well, gentlemen.—Is that well managed or not? Have you such a prayer as that on the stage?
But, Sir, you hav'nt settled how we are to get off here.
You could not go off kneeling, could you?
O no, Sir! impossible!
It would have a good effect efaith, if you could! exeunt praying!—Yes, and would vary the established mode of springing off with a glance at the pit.
O never mind, so as you get them off, I'll answer for it the audience wont care how.
Well then, repeat the last line standing, and go off the old way.
Bravo! a fine exit.
Well, really Mr. Puff.—
Stay a moment.—
Hey!—why, I thought those fellows had been asleep?
Only a pretence, there's the art of it; they were spies of Lord Burleigh's.
—But isn't it odd, they were never taken no|tice of, not even by the commander in chief.
O lud, Sir, if people who want to listen, or overhear, were not always conniv'd at in a Tragedy, there would be no carrying on any plot in the world.
But take care, my dear Dangle, the morning gun is going to fire.
Well, that will have a fine effect.
I think so, and helps to realize the scene.—
What the plague!—three morning guns!—there never is but one!—aye, this is always the Page 65 away at the Theatre—give these fellows a good thing, and they never know when to have done with it. You have no more cannon to fire?
Now then, for soft musick.
Pray what's that for?
It shews that TILBURINA is coming; nothing introduces you a heroine like soft musick.—Here she comes.
And her confidant, I suppose?
To be sure: here they are—inconsolable to the minuet in Ariadne!
Your white handkerchief madam—
I thought, Sir, I wasn't to use that'till, 'heart rending woe.'
O yes madam—at 'the finches of the grove,' if you please.
Vastly well madam!
Vastly well indeed!
O!—'tis too much.
Oh!—it is indeed
Hey, what the plague!—what a cut is here!—why, what is become of the description of her first meeting with Don Wiskerandos? his gal|lant behaviour in the sea fight, and the simile of the canary bird?
Now, pray gentlemen mind.—This is one of the most useful figures we tragedy writers have, by which a hero or heroine, in consideration of their being often obliged to overlook things that are on the stage, is allow'd to hear and see a number of things that are not.
Yes—a kind of poetical second-sight!
Yes—now then madam.
Egad tho', the governor seems to make no allowance for this poetical figure you talk of.
No, a plain matter-of-fact man—that's his character.
All who asks Mr. Puff? Who is—
Egad Sir, I can't tell.—Here has been such cutting and slashing, I don't know where they have got to myself.
Indeed Sir, you will find it will connect very well.
O,—if they had'nt been so devilish free with their cutting here, you would have found that Don Wiskerandos has been tampering for his li|berty, and has persuaded Tilburina to make this proposal to her father—and now pray observe the conciseness with which the argument is con|ducted. Egad, the pro & con goes as smart a hits in a fencing match. It is indeed a sort of small-sword logic, which we have borrowed from the French.
There you see—she threw in Tilburina, Quick, parry cart with England!—Hah! thrust in teirce a title!—parried by honor.—Hah! a pension over the arm!—put by by conscience.—Then flankonade with a thousand pounds—and a palpable hit egad!
Aye, that antithesis of persons—is a most establish'd figure.
O dear ma'am, you must start a great deal more than that; consider you had just deter|mined in favour of duty—when in a moment the sound of his voice revives your passion,—overthrows your resolution, destroys your obe|dience.—If you don't express all that in your start—you do nothing at all.
Speaking from within, has always a fine effect.
The wind you know, is the established re|ceiver of all stolen sighs, and cast off griefs and apprehensions.
Hey day! here's a cut!—What, are all the mutual protestations out?
Now, pray Sir, don't interrupt us just here, you ruin our feelings.
Your feelings!—but zounds, my feelings, ma'am!
No; pray don't interrupt them.
S'death and fury!—Gadslife! Sir! Madam! if you go out without the parting look, you might as well dance out—Here, here!
You, pshaw! what the devil signifies how you get off! edge away at the top, or where you will—
We understand you Sir.
Aye for ever.
Hey!—'tis pretty well I believe—you see I don't attempt to strike out any thing new—but I take it I improve on the established modes.
You do indeed.—But pray is not Queen Eli|zabeth to appear?
No not once—but she is to be talked of for ever; so that egad you'll think a hundred times that she is on the point of coming in.
Hang it, I think its a pity to keep her in the green room all the night.
O no, that always has a fine effect—it keeps up expectation.
But are we not to have a battle?
Yes, yes, you will have a battle at last, but, egad, it's not to be by land—but by sea—and that is the only quite new thing in the piece.
What, Drake at the Armada, hey?
Yes, efaith—fire ships and all—then we shall end with the procession.—Hey! that will do I think.
No doubt on't.
Come, we must not lose time—so now for the UNDER PLOT.
What the plague, have you another plot?
O lord, yes—ever while you live, have two plots to your tragedy.—The grand point in ma|naging them, is only to let your under plot have as little connexion with your main plot as possi|ble. —I flatter myself nothing can be more dis|tinct than mine, for as in my chief plot, the Page 77 characters are all great people—I have laid my under plot in low life—and as the former is to end in deep distress, I make the other end as happy as a farce.—Now Mr. Hopkins, as soon as you please.
Sir, the carpenter says it is impossible you can go to the Park scene yet.
The Park scene! No—I mean the description scene here, in the wood.
Sir, the performers have cut it out.
Cut it out!
What! the whole account of Queen Eliza|beth?
And the description of her horse and side-saddle?
So, so, this is very fine indeed! Mr. Hopkins, how the plague could you suffer this?
Sir, indeed the pruning knife—
The pruning knife—zounds the axe! why, here has been such lopping and topping, I shan't have the bare trunk of my play left presently.—Very well, Sir—the performers must do as they please, but upon my soul, I'll print it every word.
That I would indeed.
Very well—Sir—then we must go on—zounds! I would not have parted with the description of the horse!—Well, Sir, go on—Sir, it was one of the finest and most laboured things—Very well, Sir, let them go on—there you had him and his accoutrements from the bit to the crup|per —very well, Sir, we must go to the Park scene.
Sir, there is the point, the carpenters say, that unless there is some business put in here before the drop, they shan't have time to clear away the fort, or sink Gravesend and the river.
So! this is a pretty dilemma truly!—Gentle|men —you must excuse me, these fellows will never be ready, unless I go and look after them myself.
O dear Sir—these little things will happen—
To cut out this scene!—but I'll print it—egad, I'll print it every word!
Before the Curtain.
WELL, we are ready—now then for the justices.
This, I suppose, is a sort of senate scene.
To be sure—there has not been one yet.
It is the under plot, isn't it?
Yes. What, gentlemen, do you mean to go at once to the discovery scene?
If you please, Sir.
O very well—harkee, I don't chuse to say any thing more, but efaith, they have mangled my play in a most shocking manner!
It's a great pity!
Now then, Mr. Justice, if you please.
But, Mr. Puff, I think not only the Justice, but the clown seems to talk in as high a style as the first hero among them.
Heaven forbid they should not in a free country!—Sir, I am not for making slavish dis|tinctions, and giving all the fine language to the upper sort of people.
That's very noble in you indeed.
Now pray mark this scene.
What, Sir, do you leave out the account of your birth, parentage and education?
They have settled it so, Sir, here.
There, you see relationship, like murder, will out.
What do you think of that?
One of the finest discovery-scenes I ever saw. —Why, this under-plot would have made a tragedy itself.
Aye, or a comedy either.
And keeps quite clear you see of the other.
The scene remains, does it?
You are to leave one chair you know—But it is always awkward in a tragedy, to have you Page 85 fellows coming in in your playhouse liveries to remove things—I wish that could be managed better.—So now for my mysterious yeoman.
Perdition catch my soul but I do love thee.
Haven't I heard that line before?
No, I fancy not—Where pray?
Yes, I think there is something like it in Othello.
Gad! now you put me in mind on't, I believe there is—but that's of no consequence—all that can be said is, that two people happened to hit on the same thought—And Shakespeare made use of it first, that's all.
Now, Sir, your soliloquy—but speak more to the pit, if you please—the soliloquy always to the pit—that's a rule.
That's a very short soliloquy.
Yes—but it would have been a great deal longer if he had not been observed.
A most sentimental Beefeater that, Mr. Puff.
Hearke—I would not have you be too sure that he is a Beefeater.
What! a hero in disguise?
No matter—I only give you a hint—But now for my principal character—Here he comes—LORD BURLEIGH in person! Pray, gentlemen, step this way—softly—I only hope the Lord High Treasurer is perfect—if he is but perfect!
Hush!—vastly well, Sir! vastly well! a most interesting gravity!
What, isn't he to speak at all?
Egad, I thought you'd ask me that—yes it is a very likely thing—that a Minister in his situa|tion, Page 87 with the whole affairs of the nation on his head, should have time to talk!—but hush! or you'll put him out.
Put him out! how the plague can that be, if he's not going to say any thing?
There's a reason!—why, his part is to think, and how the plague! do you imagine he can think if you keep talking?
That's very true upon my word!
He is very perfect indeed—Now, pray what did he mean by that?
You don't take it?
No; I don't upon my soul.
Why, by that shake of the head, he gave you to understand that even tho' they had more justice in their cause and wisdom in their mea|sures—yet, if there was not a greater spirit shown on the part of the people—the country would at last fall a sacrifice to the hostile ambi|tion of the Spanish monarchy.
The devil!—did he mean all that by shaking his head?
Every word of it—If he shook his head as I taught him.
Ah! there certainly is a vast deal to be done on the stage by dumb shew, and expression of face, and a judicious author knows how much he may trust to it.
O, here are some of our old acquaintance.
What is all this?
Ah! here has been more pruning!—but the fact is, these two young ladies are also in love with Don Whiskerandos.—Now, gentlemen, this scene Page 89 goes entirely for what we call SITUATION and STAGE EFFECT, by which the greatest applause may be obtained, without the assistance of lan|guage, sentiment or character: pray mark!
O dear madam, you are not to say that to her face!—aside, ma'am, aside.—The whole scene is to be aside.
There's situation for you!—there's an heroic group!—You see the ladies can't stab Whiske|randos —he durst not strike them for fear of their uncles—the uncles durst not kill him, because of their nieces—I have them all at a dead lock!—for every one of them is afraid to let go first.
Why, then they must stand there for ever.
So they would, if I hadn't a very fine contri|vance for't—Now mind—
That is a contrivance indeed.
Aye—in the Queen's name.
There, egad! he comes out to be the very Captain of the privateer who had taken Whis|kerandos prisoner—and was himself an old lover of Tilburina's.
Admirably manag'd indeed.
Now, stand out of their way.
That's excellently contrived!—it seems as if the two uncles had left their swords on purpose for them.
No, egad, they could not help leaving them.
O, my dear Sir, you are too slow, now mind me.—Sir, shall I trouble you to die again?
No, Sir—that's not it—once more if you please—
I wish, Sir—you would practise this without me—I can't stay dying here all night.
Very well, we'll go over it by and bye—I must humour these gentlemen!
Dear Sir, you needn't speak that speech as the body has walked off.
That's true, Sir—then I'll join the fleet.
If you please.
Now, who comes on?
Yes—and no one to blame but his daughter!
And the planets—
True.—Now enter Tilburina!—
Egad, the business comes on quick here.
Yes, Sir—now she comes in stark mad in white satin.
Why in white satin?
O Lord, Sir—when a heroine goes mad, she always goes into white satin—don't she, Dangle?
Always—it's a rule.
Yes—here it is—
But what the deuce, is the confidant to be mad too?
To be sure she is, the confidant is always to do whatever her mistress does; weep when she weeps, smile when she smiles, go mad when she goes mad.—Now madam confidant—but —keep your madness in the back ground, if you please.
There, do you ever desire to see any body madder than that?
Never while I live!
You observed how she mangled the metre?
Yes—egad, it was the first thing made me suspect she was out of her senses.
And pray what becomes of her?
She is gone to throw herself into the sea to be sure—and that brings us at once to the scene of action, and so to my catastrophe—my sea-fight, I mean.
What, you bring that in at last?
Yes—yes—you know my play is called the Spanish Armada, otherwise, egad, I have no oc|casion for the battle at all.—Now then for my magnificence!—my battle!—my noise!—and my procession!—You are all ready?
Is the Thames drest?
Here I am, Sir.
Very well indeed—See, gentlemen, there's a river for you!—This is blending a little of the masque with my tragedy—a new fancy you know—and very useful in my case; for as there must be a procession, I suppose Thames and all his tributary rivers to compliment Britannia with a fete in honor of the victory.
But pray, who are these gentlemen in green with him.
Those?—those are his banks.
Yes, one crown'd with alders and the other with a villa!—you take the allusions?—but hey! what the plague! you have got both your banks on one side—Here Sir, come round—Ever while you live, Thames, go between your banks.
Well, pretty well—but not quite perfect—so ladies and gentlemen, if you please, we'll re|hearse this piece again to-morrow.