Page images
PDF
EPUB

the lower scenes. Both, especially the former, retain deservedly a high rank among our acting plays. But the glory of the British stage is to be found in the writings of an author “ lost but too soon in yonder house Without pretending to say whether the Rivals and the School for Scandal are to be considered as genteel comedies in the strictest sense of the word, they display that nice and delicate taste which seizes the manners as they rise and disappear, ombined with the broader and more laughable delineation of coinic character. The wit of the author, though its flashes are as bright as those of Congreve, being held under due restraint, serves, on the one hand, to enliven the easy and natural dialogue of high life, while the portion of it which is imparted to that of the lower characters, is so well accommodated to their more vulgar language and habits of thinking, that none of its coruscations could be transferred to another person of the draina than him by whom it is spoken, without an obvious offence against propriety. The plots of Mr Sheridan's plays are happily contrived, and developed with much stage effect, though without any complication of intrigue. They have, doubtless, their faults; but, as we must own we were never able to observe

any

which ought to be mentioned in comparison with their merits, we shall leave their dissection to more acute critics. The bounds of our collection do not permit us to prosecute this investigation any farther; a circumslance which we cannot regret, since we could only trace the declension of the art from Attic comedy to German importations of false sensibility, and domestic productions, where the humour rests upon grimace, cant, and catch-words. Yet it is but just to say, that comedy still receives some countenance from the British audience, and that its revival, upon a true and classic model, may be more reasonably hoped than that of tragic representation.

THE

BRITISH DRAMA

EVERY MAN IN HIS HUMOUR.

ALTERED FROM

BEN JONSON.

PROLOGUE.

Tho' need make many poets, and some such Nor nimble squib is seen, to make afear'd
As art and nature have not bettered much ; The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard
Yet ours, for want, hath not so loved the stage, To say, it thunders; nor tempestuous drum
As he dare serve the ill customs of the age, Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come;
Or purchase your delight at such a rate,

But deeds, and language, such as men do use, As, for it, he himself must justly hate:

And persons, such as comedy would choose, To make a child now swaddled, to proceed When she would shew an image of the times, Man, and then shoot up in one beard and weed, And sport with human follies, not with crimes; Past three-score years : or, with three rusty Except we make 'em such, by loving still swords,

Our popular errors, when we know they're ill. And help of some few foot and half-foot words, I mean such errors as you'll all confess, Fight over York and Lancaster's long jars, By laughing at them, they deserve no less : And in the tiring-house bring wounds to scars. Which, when you heartily do, there's hope left He rather prays, you will be pleased to see

then, One such to-day, as other plays should be ; You, that have so graced monsters, may like Where neither chorus wafts

you

o'er the seas, Nor creaking throne comes down, the boys to

please;

men,

DRAMATIS PERSONA.

MEN.

ROGER FORMAL, his Clerk. KITELY, a Merchant.

Master MATTHEW, the Town Gull. Captain BOBADIL, a blustering Coward.

Cash, Kitely's Man. KNO'WELL, an old Gentleman.

COB, a Water-bearer.
ED. KNO'WELL, his Son.

WOMEN.
BRAIN-WORM, the Father's Man.
Master STEPHEN, a Country Gull.

Dame KITELY.
DOWNRIGHT, a plain Squire.

Mrs BRIDGET, Sister to Kitely. WELL-BRED, his Half Brother.

TIB, Cob's Wife. Justice CLEMENT, an old merry Magistrate.

SCENE,-London. VOL. III.

A

ACT I.

SCENE I.-A Court-yard before Kno'well's talk on it? Because I dwell at Hogsden, I shall House.

keep company with none but the archers of Fins

bury! or the citizens, that come a-ducking to Enter KNO'WELL and BRAINWORM.

Islington ponds! A fine jest, i’faith! slid, a genKno. A GOODLY day toward ! and a fresh tleman mun shew himself like a gentleman.morning! Brain-worm,

Uncle, I pray you be not angry. I know what I Call up your young master. Bid him rise, sir. have to do; I trow, I am no novice. Tell him, I have some business to employ him. Kno. You are a prodigal, absurd coxcomb: go to ! Brain, I will, sir, presently.

Nay, never look at me, 'tis I that speak. Kno. But hear you, sirrah!

Take't as you will, sir, I'll not flatter you. If he be at his book, disturb him not.

Have you not yet found means enow to waste Bruin. Well, sir.

(Erit. That, which your friends have left you, but you Kno. How happy, yet, should I esteem myself,

must Could I, by any practice, wean the boy

Go cast away your money on a kite, From one vain course of study he affects. And know not how to keep it, when you've done? He is a scholar, if a man may trust

0, 'tis comely! this will make you a gentleman ! The liberal voice of Fame in her report,

Well, cousin, well ! I see you are e'en past hope Of good account in both our universities; Of all reclaim. Ay, so, now you're told on it, Either of which have favoured him with graces.

You look another way.
But their indulgence must not spring in me Step. What would you ha' me do!
A fond opinion that he cannot err.

kno. What would I have you do! I'll tell you, Myself was once a student; and, indeed,

kinsman; Fed with the self-same humour he is now, Learn to be wise, and practise how to thrive; Dreaming on nought but idle poetry,

That would I have you do; and not to spend That fruitless and unprofitable art,

Your coin on every bauble, that you fancy, Good unto none, but least to the professors, On every foolish brain, that humours you. Which, then, I thought the mistress of all know- I would not have you to invade each place, ledge:

Nor thrust yourself on all societies, But since, time and the truth bave waked my Till men's aftections, or your own desert, judginent,

Should worthily invite you to your rank. And reason taught me better to distinguish He, that is so respectless in his courses, The vain from the useful learnings

Oft sells his reputation at cheap market.

Nor would I you should melt away yourself Enter Alaster STEPHEN.

In flashing bravery, lest, while you affect Cousin Stephen!

To make a blaze of gentry to the world, What news with you, that you are here so early? | A little puff of scorn extinguish it,

Step. Nothing, but e'en come to see how you | And you be left like an unsavoury snuff, do, uncle.

Whose property is only to offend.
Kno. That's kindly done, you are welcome, coz. I'd have you sober, and contain yourself;

Step. Ay, I know that, sir. I would not ha' Not, that your sail be bigger than your boat: come else. How doth my cousin Edward, uncle? But moderate your expences now (at first),

Kno. O, well, coz, go in and sce: I doubt he As you may keep the same proportion still, be scarce stirring yet.

Nor stand so much on your gentility, Step. Uncle, afore I go in, can you tell me an' Which is an airy, mere borrowed thing, he have e'er a book of the sciences of hawking From dead men's dust and bones ; and none of and hunting? I would fain borrow it.

yours, Kno. Why, I hope you will not a hawking Except you make, or hold it. Who comes here? now, will you? Sicp. No wosse, but I'll practise against the

Enter a Servant. next year, uncle. I have bought me a hawk, Sero. Save you, gentlemen. and a hood, and bells, and all; I lack nothing Step. Nay, we do not stand much on our genbut a book to keep it by:

tility, friend ; yet, you are welcome; and I asKno. 0, most ridiculous !

sure you, mine uncle here is a man of a thousand Step. Nay, look you now, you are angry, un. a-year, Middlesex land; he has but one son in all clc. Why, you know, an' a man have not skill the world; I am his next heir (at the common in the hawking and bupting languages now-a- law) Master Stephen, as simple as I stand here; days, I'll not give a rush for 'em. They are if my cousin die (as there is hope he will). I have a more studied than the Greck, or the Latip. He pretty living o'my own, too, beside, hard by here. is for no gallant's company withont them. And Sero. In good time, sir. by Gad's lid I scorn it, I, so I do, to be a consort Step. In good time, sir! why, and in very for every hum-drum; hang them scroyls, there's good time, sir. You do not flout, friend, do you? nothing in them in the world. What do you Serv., Not I, sir.

7

6

Slep. Not you, sir! you were not best, sir ;

(The Letter.] an' you should, here be them can perceive it, and that quickly too: go to. And they can give it

" Why, Ned, I beseech thee, hast thou foreagain soundly too, an' need be.

sworn all thy friends i' the Ol Jewry? or dost Serz. Why, sir, let this satisfy you: good faith,

thou think us all Jews that inhabit there? Yet I had no such intent.

• if thou dost, come over, and but see our fripStep. Sir, an' I thought you had, I would talk pery; change an old shirt for a whole smock with you, and that presently.

with us : Do not conceive that antipathy beSerr. Good master Stephen, so you may, sir,

tween us and i logsden, as was between Jews at your pleasure.

and hog’s-flesh. Leave thy vigilant father alone, Step. And so I would, sir, good my saucy

to number over his green apricots, evening and companion, an' you were out of my uncle's

morning, o' the north-west wall: an' I had been ground, I can tell you ; though I do not stand his son, I had saved him the labour long since ; upon my gentility neither, in it.

'if taking in all the young wenches that pass by, Kno. Cousin ! cousin! will this ne'er be left? at the back door, and coddling every kernel of Step. Whoreson, base fellow? a mechanical

the fruit for them would have served. But priserving man? By this cudgel, an''twere not for thee, come over to me, quickly, this morning : shame, I would

• I have such a present for thee! Our Turkey Kno. What would you do, you peremptory gull ? company never sent the like to the Grand SigIf you cannot be quiet, get you hunce.

nior. One is a rhimer, sir, o'your own batch, You see the honest man demeans himself your own leven; but doth think himself poetModestly towards you, giving no reply

major o' the town; willing to be shewn, and To your unseasoned, quarrelling, rude fashion :

worthy to be seen. The other, I will not venAnd still you huff it, with a kind of carriage,

ture his description with you till you come, beAs void of wit as of humanity.

cause I would have you make hither with an Go, get you in! 'fore Heaven, I am ashamed • appetite. If the worst of them be not worth Thou hast a kinsman's interest in me.

your journey, draw your bill of charges, as un

(Erit STEPIIEN. 'conscionable as any Guild-hall verdict will give Serr. I pray, sir, is this master Kno’well's it you, and you shall be allowed your viaticum. house?

(From the Ilindmill.' Kno. Yes, marry, is it, sir.

Serr. I should inquire for a gentleman here, From the Burdello, it might come as well; one master Edward Kno'well: do you know any

The Spittal, or Pict-hatch. Is this the man, such, sir, I pray you?

My son hath sung so, for the happiest wit, Kno. I should forget myself else, sir.

The choicest brain, the times have sent us forth? Sert. Are you the gentleman? cry your mer

I know not what he may be in the arts; cy, sir : I was required by a gentleman in the city, Nor what in schools: but, surely, for his manners, as I rode out at this end of the town, to deliver I judge him a profane and dissolute wretch: you this letter, sir.

Worse, by possession of such great good gifts, Kno. To me, sir ? What do you mean? Pray Being the master of so loose a spirit. you remember your court’sie. [To his most select. Why, what unhallowed ruffian would have writ ed friend, master EDWARD KNO’well.) What In such a scurrilous manner to a friend? might the gentleman's name be, sir, that sent it? Why should he think, I tell my apricots ? Nay, pray you be covered.

Or play the Hesperian dragon with my fruit, Sero. One master Well-bred, sir.

To watch it? Weil, my son, I thought Kno. Master Well-bred! A young gentleman, You'd had more judgment to have made electiori is he not?

Of your companions, than to have ta'en on trust Sero. The same, sir; master Kitely married Such petulant, jeering gamesters, that can spare his sister: the rich merchant in the Old Jewry. No argument, or subject from their jest. Kno. You say very true. Brain-worm ! But I perceive, affection makes a fool

Of any man, too much the father. Brain-worm
Enter BRAIN-WORM.

Enter BRAIN-WORM.
Brain. Sir,
Kno. Make this honest friend drink here. Brain. Sir.
Pray you go in.

Kno. Is the fellow gone, that brought this letter? (Ereuni BRAIN-WORM and Servant. Brain. Yes, sir, a pretty while since. This letter is directed to my son:

Kno. And where's your young master? Yet I am Edward Kno’well too, and may,

Brain. In his chamber, sir, With the safe conscience of good manners, use

Kno. He spake not with the fellow, did he? The fellow's error to my satisfaction.

Brain. No, sir, he saw him.not. Well, I will break it ope (old men are curious)

Kno. Take you this letter, and deliver it to my Be it but for the style's sake, and the phrase,

son; To see if both do answer my son's praises,

But with no notice, that I've opened it, on your Who is almost grown the idolater

life. Of this young Well-bred: What have we here? Brain. O lord, sir, that were a jest indeed! What's this?

Kno. I am resolved I will not stop his journey;

« PreviousContinue »