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sir, give me leave to overpay myself, in the only instance that can now add to my felicity, by begging you to bestow this
lady on Mr. Myrtle. Mr. Šeal. She is his without reserve; I
beg he may be sent for. Mr. Cimberton, notwithstanding you never had my consent, yet there
since I last saw you, another objection to your marriage with
my daughter. Cimb. I hope, sir, your lady has concealed
nothing from me? Mr. Seal. Troth, sir, nothing but what was
concealed from myself—another daughter, who has an undoubted title to half
ratify, as they once favored my pretensions, no abatement of fortune shall lessen
her value to me. Luc. Generous man ! Mr. Seal. If, sir, you can overlook the in
jury of being in treaty with one who as meanly left her, as you have generously
asserted your right in her, she is yours. Luc. Mr. Myrtle, though you have ever
had my heart, yet now I find I love you
more, because I bring you less. Myrt. We have much more than we want;
and I am glad any event has contributed to the discovery of our real inclinations
to each other. Mrs. Seal. Well! however, I'm glad the girl's disposed of, anyway.
(Aside.) Bev. Myrtle, no longer rivals now, but
brothers! Myrt. Dear Bevil, you are born to tri
umph over me! but now our competition ceases; I rejoice in the pre-eminence of your virtue, and your alliance adds
charms to Lucinda. Sir J. Bev. Now, ladies and gentlemen,
you have set the world a fair example: your happiness is owing to your constancy and merit; and the several difficulties you have struggled with evidently show
Cimb. How, Mr. Sealand? Why, then, if
half Mrs. Lucinda's fortune is gone, you can't say that any of my estate is settled upon her. I was in treaty for the whole; but if that is not to be come at, to be sure there can be no bargain. Sir, I have nothing to do but to take my leave of your good lady, my cousin, and beg pardon for the trouble I have given this old
gentleman. Myrt. That you have, Mr. Cimberton, with all my heart.
(Discovers himself.) All. Mr. Myrtle! Myrt. And I beg pardon of the whole
company that I assumed the person of Sir Geoffry, only to be present at the danger of this lady's being disposed of, and in her utmost exigence to assert my right to her; which, if her parents will
Whate'er the generous mind itself denies, The secret care of Providence supplies.
THE TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES; OR, THE LIFE AND
DEATH OF TOM THUMB THE GREAT
Henry Fielding (1707-1754), of aristo- and silent attention which becometh an audicratic birth and pleasure-loving disposition, ence at a deep tragedy," — he rejects with began writing plays as the best-paying form seeming indignation the notion that it was of literature, most of them being comedies meant to be ludicrous, and, hinting that it more or less after the pattern of Molière and may be by Shakespeare, confidently dates it Congreve. He best shows his comic ability in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He conin his burlesques and farces. Tom Thumb tinues by applauding, in received critical (the fourth of twenty-seven plays) was first style, “ the Fable, the Moral, the Characters, acted, at the Haymarket Theater, in 1730, the Sentiments, and the Diction.” Thus in was enlarged to three acts in 1731, and pub- the Preface, as well as in some of the notes, lished in both years; in an altered form it he has his joke at the expense of the porheld the stage till well on in the nineteenth tentous · style and deficient insight of some century. At the age of thirty Fielding aban- scholars and critics of his day, who he avers doned the stage for the law, and a few years have wagged their heavy heads over this later began the series of great novels which eminent work. The similarities between it mainly support his fame; a word of admira- and other plays of the preceding seventy tion can be spared also for his essays.
years he affects to be uncertain whether to Fielding was a born parodist. Endlessly attribute to coincidence or to their imitation clever, versatile, vigorous, with a strong of his author; but in the notes intimates that though not fine feeling for style, a great it has been pillaged right and left, till, like sense of the ridiculous, and exhaustless com- Hamlet, it seems to be made up of nothing mon-sense, he could have had no mercy on but quotations. unreality, pomposity, pretentiousness, and The “heroic plays” are particularly though sentimentality. His fling at sentimentality not wholly the object of his mirth, and is in a novel, later and more celebrated than among them The Conquest of Granada comes this play. In 1740 Samuel Richardson had in for its full share. Like Almanzor, though published Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, which probably not especially imitated from him, seemed to Fielding petty and fine-drawn, Tom Thumb has his moments of modesty or and he responded in 1742 with Joseph An- at least of courtesy, but not unlike the other drews. Thus from the first fully-developed he announces, novel of emotion was born the first fully
I ask not kingdoms, I can conquer those. developed novel of incident. For the mood of mockery died away as Fielding became Like Almanzor he is devoted to honor only more interested, and a creative spirit replaced less than to love, and comes from preterit.
human victory to lay his heart at the feet In his earlier burlesque he maintains of the fair. Like Almanzor (in part II) throughout the spirit of delicious derision. King Arthur not only faces but threatens a There was no new type of fiction ready for ghost; a scene which poor saturnine Dean the birth. In a highly diverting Preface to Swift said was one of the two things in his Tom Thumb, all as fictitious as the fantastic life which had made him laugh. Several name, H. Scriblerus Secundus, under which
are in the rhymed couplet, which he wrote it, he states that some publicly Fielding sometimes varies by such grotesque affirmed that no author could produce so Browning-like rhymes as Are you drunk, fine a piece but Mr. P- [Pope); others have
“Huncamunca." The unities are obwith as much vehemence insisted that no one served with a strictness to set the heart of could write anything so bad but Mr. F- Castelvetro aglow. Like the classical trage[Fielding)." After recording the ponderous dies of the day, the play has a moral, which praises it had received from universities and when stated is as usually a platitude; “it crities, and how “ though it hath, among teaches these two instructive lessons," says other languages, been translated into Dutch, the Preface,“ viz., that human happiness is and celebrated with great applause at Am- exceeding transient; and that death is the sterdam (where burlesque never came) by certain end of all men: the former whereof the title of Mynheer Vander Thumb, the is inculcated by the fatal end of Tom Thumb; burgomasters received it with that reverend the latter by that of all the other person
ages.” As naturally in a burlesque, the height of the absurd is reached at the end, in the anticlimax where the hero is swallowed by a cow, and in the concluding extravagance, where the spectator's head fairly swims watching all the other characters fall dead. Thus he has his fling at the exaggerated and unnatural violences of some artificial tragedy. On the whole the several dozen plays by sixteen writers thus ridiculed are fair game. They are almost without exception tragedies of the Restoration and early eighteenth century, more especially those of Dryden, Banks, and Lee. Earlier tragedies he leaves almost entirely alone. While one or two of the plays at which he shoots his arrows, such as Dryden's All for Lore, are still admired, most of them met only a temporary taste, and have ceased to please and even to be read. Passion, freedom of feeling, are essential to great tragedy, and an age when it was literary good breeding to repress and make light of feeling was ill adapted to it. Poets did not wait till the fire kindled and at last they spake with their tongue. They thought more of rule than of spontaneity, as was pointed out in the discussion of Cato. There never
a time when poets made such elaborate effort to write tragedy, or more often dismally failed. They were like the men of Babel, who said, “ Go to, let us build us a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name”; and the Lord confounded their language, that they might not understand one another's speech.
“ Which brings me to speak of his diction,” as the Preface says.
“Here I shall only beg one postulatum, viz., that the greatest perfection of the language of a tragedy is, that it is not to be understood; which granted (as I think it must be ), it will necessarily follow that the only way to avoid this is by being too high or too low for the understanding. What can be so proper for tragedy as a set of big sounding words, so contrived together as to convey no meaning ?” He has no mercy on the artificial and the inflated, especially the frigid and long similes bedecking the tragedies of poets “ who liken things not like at all." “Our author" “is very rarely within sight through the whole play, either rising higher than the eye of your imagination can soar, or sinking lower than it careth to stoop.” Such a parody as
Oh! Huncamunca, Huncamunca, oh!, which chastises Thomson's notorious effort
Oh! Sophonisba; Sophonisba, ohl, illustrates how faint a line parts the ludicrous from the intolerably touching, for it differs in but one word from Shakespeare's
O Desdemona, Desdemona, dead, ! With the incongruity which is the essence of humor, he varies this sort of thing by the prosaic and grotesque, which made particu
larly effective satire in an age when a poet had better be in jail than be “low." His laughter rings out at the too-literary device of attributing human traits to non-human things (smiling dolphins, a blushing sun), which John Ruskin a century later scolded at as the “ pathetic fallacy"; and at the puffing up of a frog.commonplace into an ox-grandiloquence. Fielding relishes nothing in his play more than the dressing up in burlesque solemnity of some proverb like “ Between two stools the breech falls to the ground ” (II. x). With his common-sense liking for pithy reality, he says in the note, “ It were to be wished that, instead of filling their pages with the fabulous theology of the pagans, our modern poets would think it worth their while to enrich their works with the proverbial sayings of their ancestors.” * There speaks not only eighteenth-century prosaic sense against pseudo-classicism, but also the later romantic spirit, with its fondness for the popular and traditional.
But, after all, Tom Thumb must not be taken too seriously, even a burlesque. Fielding was no prophet, or reformer, with deep convictions on literature, but a play. wright who needed money and wanted to “make a hit.” He saw a chance in cleverly parodying what everybody would recognize, not only what deserved ridicule and might be discredited by it, but also what could bear ridicule. There are almost as many reminiscences of Shakespeare as of any later dramatist, though Fielding has too much reverence to point them out in the notes (he also spares Venice Preserved). There is no more humor in his parody of Thomson's Sophonisba-scream than of Juliet in “O Tom Thumb! Tom Thumb! wherefore art thou Tom Thumb?”; or in that of Don John's “ Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man's Hero,” in “ My Huncamunca! - Your Huncamunca, Tom Thumb's Huncamunea, erery man's Huncamunca." The only difference is that Shakespeare can stand it and Thomson cannot. It must not be supposed that Fielding condemned everything in the plays he parodied, or even every parodied passage. It must be admitted too that his mockery is often undeserved; a clever writer can always take passable or even good things out of their context and make them look silly. Young's “ with these eyes I saw him," ridiculed in III. ix, is the natural emphatic language of strong feeling. With a mind full of scraps of plays, Fielding parodied from memory anything that could be made to raise a laugh, and when he came to print set the originals in the footnotes (so far as he could re member them), and sometimes inaccurately. These notes make the play more suitable to read than to witness, for few things are less intelligible than a burlesque of something in, known. They explain to us a play which is rather a free-and-easy boiling over of humor
than a harsh and serious satire. Much of posedly by Dr. William Wagstaffe, and writFielding's spirit reappeared a century later ten to ridicule Addison's appreciation of the in Thackeray, and one can hardly fail to see ballad of Chevy Chase in the Spectator. The the manner and style of Tom Thumb (com- play quotes the History (III. viii), and borbined with Thackeray's own novelist-style) in
some of its incidents. In such burhis delicious Christmas-burlesque, The Rose lesques there is really much more of the vital and the Ring.
energy of the age than in the works they The chief origin or models of the work parodied. Its greatest literary men, Swift, (aside from the plays already discussed) were Pope, Addison, were critics, and the critical the Duke of Buckingham's Rehearsal (1671), spirit of the earlier eighteenth century was a dramatic satire on Dryden's plays, and es- more vigorous and more characteristic than pecially A Commentary on the History of the imaginative. Any collection of eighteenthTom Thumb (1711), a burlesque ballad with century dramas would be incomplete without a commentary much like Fielding's, sup- a specimen of it.
THE TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES; OR, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF TOM THUMB
With the Annotations of H. Scriblerus Secundus.
First acted in 1730, and altered in 1731.
Parson, of the side of the church. KING ARTHUR, a passionate sort of king, hus
WOMEN band to QUEEN DOLLALLOLLA, of whom he
QUEEN · DOLLALLOLLA, wife to KING ARTHUR, stands a little in fear; father to HUNCA
and mother to HUNCAMUNCA, a woman enMUNCA, whom he is very fond of and in love with GLUMDALCA.
tirely faultless, saving that she is a little Tou THUMB THE GREAT, a little hero with a
given to drink, a little too much a virago
towards her husband, and in love with Tom great soul, something violent in his temper,
THUMB. which is a little abated by his love for
THE PRINCESS HUNCAMUNCA, daughter to HUXCAMUXCA. Ghost OF GAFFER THUMB, a whimsical sort
their Majesties KING ARTHUR and QUEEN
DOLLALLOLLA, of a very sweet, gentle, and of Ghost. LORD GRIZZLE, estremely zealous for the lib
amorous disposition, equally in love with
LORD GRIZZLE and TOM THUMB, and deerty of the subject, very choleric in his
sirous to be married to them both. temper, and in love with HUNÇAMUNCA.
GLUMDALCA, of the giants, a captive queen, VERLIN, a conjurer, and in some sort father
beloved by the king, but in love with TOM to Tou THUMB.
THUMB. NOODLE, I courtiers in place, and consequently
CLEORA, MUSTACHA, maids of honor in love DOODLE, s of that party that is uppermost. with NOODLE and DOODLE. FOODLE, a courtier that is out of place, and
Courtiers, Guards, Rebels, Drums, Trumpets, consequently of that party that is under
Thunder and Lightning. most. BAILIFF, the party of the plaintiff.
Scene.—The Court of King Arthur, and a
Shines like a beau in a new birth-day
suit: SCENE 1. The Palace.
This down the seams embroidered, that (Doodle, Noodle.)
the beams. Doodle. Sure such a 1 day as this was
All nature wears one universal grin.
Nood. This day, O Mr. Doodle, is a day never seen! The sun himself, on this auspicious day, we generally call a fine summer's day: so that ac.
cording to this their exposition, the same months are 1 Corneille recommends some very remarkable day proper for tragedy which are proper for pastoral. wherein to fix the action of a tragedy. This the best Most of our celebrated English tragedies as Cato, of our tragical writers have understood to mean a Mariamne, Tamerlane, * &c., begin with their observaday remarkable for the serenity of the sky, or what tions on the morning. Lee seems to have come the
* By Addison, Fenton, and Rowe.
Indeed !-A day, we never saw before. The mighty 3 Thomas Thumb victorious
comes; Millions of giants crowd his chariot
wheels, 4 Giants! to whom the giants in Guild
Are infant dwarfs. They frown, and
foam and roar, While Thumb, regardless of their noise,
rides on. So some cock-sparrow in a farmer's yard, Hops at the head of an huge flock of
turkeys. Dood. When Goody Thumb first brought
this Thomas forth, The Genius of our land triumphant
reigned; Then, then, 0 Arthur! did thy Genius
reign. Nood. They tell me it is whispered in the
books Of all our sages, that this mighty hero, By Merlin's art begot, hath not a bone
Within his skin, but is a lump of gristle. Dood. Then 't is a gristle of no mortal Some God, my Noodle, stept into the
place Of Gaffer Thumb, and more than 6 half
begot This mighty Tom. Nood.
7-Sure he was sent express From Heaven to be the pillar of our
state. Though small his body be, so very small, A chairman's || leg is more than twice as
large, Yet is his soul like any mountain big; And as a mountain once brought forth a
mouse, 8 So doth this mouse contain a mighty
nearest to this beautiful description of our author's :
Ca8. Borg. Massinissa, in the New Sophonisba [by Thomson), is also a favorite of the sun:
The sun too seems
Memnon, in the Persian Princess (by Theobald ), makes the sun decline rising that he may not peep on objects which would profane his brightness :
The morning rises slow,
2 This line is highly conformable to the beautiful
(Dryden's] State of Innocence. Love is not sin but where 'tis sinful love.
[Dryden's] Don Sebastian. Nature is nature, Lælius. (Lee's] Sophonisba. Men are but men, we did not make ourselves.
(Young's Revenge. 3 Dr. B-y reads. The mighty Tall mast Thumb. Mr. DS, The mighty Thumbing Thumb. Mr. T-dt readsThundering. I think Thomas more agreeable to the great simplicity so apparent in our author.
4 That learned historian Mr. S-nt in the third number of his criticism on our author, takes great pains to explode this passage. "It is," says he, "difficult to guess what giants are here meant, unless the giant Despair in the Pilgrim's Progress, or the giant Greatness in the Royal Villain; for I have heard of no other sort of giants in the reign of King Arthur." Petrus Burmannus makes three Tom Thumbs, one whereof he supposes to have been the same person whom the Greeks call Hercules; and that by these giants are to be understood the Cen: taurs slain by that hero. Another Tom Thumb he contends to have been no other than the Hermes Trismegistus of the ancients. The third Tom Thumb he places under the reign of king Arthur; to which third Tom Thumb, says he, the actions of the other two were attributed. Now, though I know that this opinion is supported by an assertion of Justus Lipsius, "Thomam illum Thumbum non alium quàm Herculem fuisse satis constat," yet shall I venture to oppose one line of Mr. Midwinter i against them all:
In Arthur's court Tom Thumb did live.
"But then," says Dr. B-y. "if we place Tom Thumb in the court of king Arthur, it will be proper to place that court out of Britain, where no giants were ever heard of." Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, is of another opinion, where, describing Albion, he says,
Far within a savage nation dwelt
Then Elfar, with two brethren giants had,
The other three.
5 "To whisper in books," says Mr. D-5, "is arrant nonsense." I am afraid this learned man does not sufficiently understand the extensive meaning of the word whisper. If he rightly understood what is meant by the "senses whispering the soul," in the Persian Princess, or what "whispering like winds" is in (Dryden's) Aurengzebe, or like thunder in another author, he would have understood this. Emmeline in Dryden sees a voice, but she was born blind, which is an excuse Panthea cannot plead in [Banks']Cyrus, who hears a sight:
Your description will surpass
6 —Some ruffian stert into his father's place, And more than half begot him.
Mary Queen of Scots. It 7 -- For Ulamar seems sent express from Heaven. To civilize this rugged Indian clime.
(Dennis') Liberty Asserted 8 "Omne majus continet in se minus. sed minus the ballad of
Banks' The 1&l.
and (later Albion (Tupper).
Queens; or, The 11 A carrier of a se
Death of Vary dan chair.
Queen of Scot ** Don't laugh, my
* Two wooden fig.
ures 14 142 feet high, of mythical
British giants. † Bentley, Dennis
and Theobald are
# One of the two
titious author of