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The intention of the Author in thus naming the piece is not clear.—It may refer to himself—it may refer to his audience—both ways it proved a misnomer.
This design was originally caught from a hint by Swift; and, as a man, into whatever ground he may venture, usually carries his anger and his prejudices along with him, so the Beggar's Opera became the vehicle of his spleen; and those, whose influence he could not obtain, he lowered to the level of Highwaymen and Housebreahers. That the Court felt any soreness at the satire, it is not easy to imagine :—If the severity were insupportable, they knew how to stop it. The anger of mortification usually vindicates where it injures—injustice heals the venom in which resentment steeps the shafts of the satyrist.
The Characters of this Opera are low and vicious— the good here can derive no encouragement of virtue, the bad no discouragement of vice.
The Airs were selected from popular tunes—theit popularity is still fresh.
I r poverty be a title to poetry, I am sure nobody can dispute mine. I own myself of the Company of Beggars, and I make one at their weekly festivals at St. Giles's. I have a small yearly salary for my catches, and am welcome to a dinner there whenever I please, which is more than most poets can say.
Play. As we live by the Muses, it is but gratitude in us to encourage poetical merit wherever we find it. The Muses, contrary to all other ladies, pay no distinction to dress, and never partially mistake the pertness of embroidery for wit, nor the modesty of want for dullness. Be the author who he will, we push his play as far as it will go; so (though you are in want) I wish you success heartily.
Beg. This Piece, I own, was originally writ for the celebrating the marriage of James Chanter and Moll Lay, two most excellent ballad-singers. I have introduced the similies that are in all your celebrated operas, The Swallow, The Moth, The Bee, The Ship, The Flower, 6sff. besides, I have a prison scene, which the ladies always reckon charmingly pathetic. As to the parts, I have observed such a nice impartiality to our two ladies, that it is impossible for either of them to take offence. I hope I may be forgiven that 1 have not made my Opera through cut unnatural, like those in vogue, for I have no recitative ex
cepting this. As I have consented to have neither prologue nor epilogue, it roust be allowed an Opera in all its forms. The Piece indeed hath been heretofore frequently represented by ourselves in our great room at St. Giles's, so that I cannot too often acknowledge your charity in bringing it now on the stage.
Play. But I see it is time for us to withdraw; the aftors are preparing to begin. Play away the overture. [Exeunt. DRV'RY- LANE.
Peachum - Mr. Moody.
Lock It .... Mr. Fawcet.
Macheath .... Mr. Kelly.
Filch ..... Mr. Suett.
Jemmy Twitcher ... Mr. Webbe.
Crook-finger'd Jack - - Mr. Lyons.
Wat Dreary ... Mr. Alfred.
Robin or Bacshot - - Mr. Hayms.
Nimmingned ... Mr. Chapman.
Harry Paddington - - Mr. Phillimore.
Mat or The Mint . - Mr. Williames.
Ben Budge - - ... Mr. Burton.
Beggar .... Mr. Maddox.
Player .... Mr. Benson.
Mrs. Peachum ... Mrs. Hopkins.
Polly Peachum ... Mrs. Crouch.
Lucy Lockit ... Mrs. Edwards.
Diana Trapes ... Mrs. Booth.
Mrs. Coaxer .... Mrs. Fox.
Dolly Trull ... Mrs. Davics.
BtTTT Doxit ... Mrs. Shaw.
Jenny Diver ... Miss Barnes.
Mrs. Slammekin - . Miss Tidswell.
Sukey Tawdry ... Mrs. Heard.
Molly Brazen Mrs. Butter.