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and discretion out of doors?” He aimed but little, after all, at either satire or the exhibition of truth for its own sake; rather to excite a state of mind as different as possible from that produced by a Kelly or a Cumberland. She Stoops to Conqueris in the main a comedy of intrigue. Even Horace Walpole, who thought it mean and “ low,” worse than the sort of comedy it satirized, allowed merit in the situations, and that it made one laugh; its admirer Johnson, while admitting that the plot, with its confusion of a gentleman's house with an inn, bordered upon farce, felt that the incidents were so prepared for as not to seem improbable. The preparation is fairly obvious, as where in the first scene Mrs. Hardcastle calls the audience's attention to the inn-like look of the house, and Miss Hardcastle informs her father that she is wont at night to wear a ** housewive's dress, to please him "; and elsewhere information is given the audience in a sufficiently deliberate way. Like Sheridan, Goldsmith cared less to surprise the spectator than to gratify him by sharing secrets with him. It may make us a little readier in accepting two of the most surprising incidents, to know that Goldsmith as a boy spent a night in a squire's house in Ardagh thinking it an inn, and that Sheridan played on Mme. de Genlis a trick like Tony's on his mother. Chance constantly favors the deceptions, as in the play of crosspurposes between Marlow and old Hardcastle (IV. i), where the former thinks he is doing his landlord a favor by instructing his servants to drink heavily and thus increase the bill. Hastings is too much absorbed in his own amorous schemes to undeceive his friend (his fear of disconcerting him is hardly enough). The light is dim when the bashful Marlow sees Miss Hardcastle so little as not to recognize her the next time. We are willing to give the dramatist the benefit of every doubt; though our generosity is somewhat tried where Miss Neville returns to Tony her lover's letter. The gaiety and rapidity of the action keep such improbabilities from offending us.
The farther any play departs from probability — the nearer it comes to farce —, the more crowded must be the action; which here is quick and abundant, with an unusual amount of surprise and reversal. Assuredly it well fulfilled its purpose, as Dr. Johnson said: “I know of no comedy for many years that has 80 much exhilarated an audience, that has answered so much the great end of comedy - making an audience merry.”
The characterization, as fits a comedy of intrigue, is simple but firm. Few sketches of a heroine have more charm than Miss Hardcastle. If her talk to her father sometimes sounds a trifle prim, that was only to be expected in a patriarchal century, and her merry impudence and tact in talking with Marlow, her freedom from prudishness, her living vigor, recall the heroines of Shakespeare's comedies, the Rosalinds and the Beatrices. Hastings, who realizes that more flies are caught by honey than vinegar, is the softtongued sort that gets what he wants, yet keeps the good-will of those who would have withheld it; Mrs. Hardcastle has never harsh word for him. He is the off-spring of an Irishman's heart. His one slip, if it is such, is assuring Mrs. Hardcastle that jewels do not befit a woman under forty, and so making it harder for Miss ·Neville to filch her
Tony Lumpkin, the inspired hobbledehoy, is the most enlivening creation in the play (suggested by Humphry Gubbin in Steele's The Tender Husband). Though critics have protested that a fellow who could scarcely read should not have composed the admirable drinking-song in the first act, a light comedy may take full advantage of the license of art to make any type of person more perfect in the type than he would be in life; and is not a clever drinking-song directly in the line of this resourceful lover of the bottle? Marlow and his adventures bring us nearest to farce, but his timidity or boldness with different sorts of women are only heightened beyond those of Thackeray's Harry Foker.
She Stoops to Conquer prevailed over its adversary not only with a sling and with a stone, but also by temperate and sincere use of what had been overdone in the other. With all the merriment and extravagance, there is no lack of genuine sentiment, and old Hardcastle even manages to slip in sotto voce a moral (V. ii) more practical than the edifying commonplaces of the rival type of play. It follows the sentimental tradition as started by Steele in its entire cleanness and sweet
Garrick’s promise in the prologue is well fulfilled;
No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he gives. If it is too much to say, though it has been said, that this play gave a deadly blow to the sentimental drama, it certainly reinstated pure comedy, and no reader needs to be told that, along with Sheridan's best two plays, alone among eighteenth-century dramas, it still excites spontaneous delight on the stage.
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER, OR, THE MISTAKES OF
TO SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier,
Shuter 2 and I shall be chief mourners here. DEAR SIR,-By inscribing this slight per- To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed, formance to you, I do not mean so much Who deals in sentimentals will succeed! to compliment you as myself. It may do Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents, me some honor to inform the public, that We can as soon speak Greek as sentiments! I have lived many years in intimacy with Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up, you. It may serve the interests of man- We now and then take down a hearty cup. kind also to inform them, that the greatest What shall we do?-If Comedy forsake us! wit may be found in a character, without They 'll turn us out, and no one else will impairing the most unaffected piety.
I have, particularly, reason to thank you But wliy can't I be moral ?—Let me tryfor your partiality to this performance. My heart thus pressing-fixed my face and The undertaking a comedy, not merely sen- eye — timental, was very dangerous; and Mr. Col- With a sententious look, that nothing means man, who saw this piece in its various (Faces are blocks, in sentimental scenes), stages, always thought it so. However, I Thus I begin-All is not gold that glitventured to trust it to the public; and, ters, though it was necessarily delayed till late Pleasuré seems sweet, but proves a glass of in the season, I have every reason to be bitters. grateful.-I am, dear Sir, your most sin- When ignorance enters, folly is at hand; cere friend and admirer,
Learning is better far than house and land. OLIVER GOLDSMITH. Let not your virtue trip, who trips may
And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble.
I give it up-morals won't do for me;
To make you laugh I must play tragedy.
One hope remains—hearing the maid was (Enter Mr. Woodward, dressed in black, ill,
and holding a Handkerchief to his Eyes.) A doctor comes this night to show his skill. Excuse me, sirs, I pray-I can't yet
To cheer her heart, and give your muscles speak
motion, I’m crying now-and have been all the
He in five draughts prepared, presents a week!
potion : 'Tis not alone this mourning suit, good
A kind of magic charm-for be assured, .
you will swallow it, the maid is cured. I've that within—for which there are no
But desperate the Doctor, and her case
If Pray would you know the reason why I'm
you reject the dose, and make wry faces! crying?
This truth he boasts, will boast it while he The Comic muse, long sick, is now a-dying! And if she goes, my tears will never stop;
No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he For as a player, I can't squeeze out one
Should he succeed, you 'll give him his deI am undone, that's all-shall lose my gree; bread
If not, within he will receive no fee! I'd rather, but that's nothing-lose my The college you, must his pretentions back. head.
Pronounce him regular, or dub him quack.
2 An actor who played old Hardcastle.
1 An actor.
MEN SIR CHARLES MARLOW. YOUNG MARLOW (His Son). HARDCASTLE. HASTINGS. Tony LUMPKIN. DIGGORY.
Landlord, Servants, &c., &c.
SCENE 1. A Chamber in an Old-Fashioned
House. (Enter Mrs. Hardcastle and Mr. Hard
castle.) Mrs. Hard. I
Mr. Hardcastle, you 're very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country, but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbor, Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a
month's polishing every winter. Hard. Ay, and bring back vanity and af
fectation to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home. In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down, not only as in
side passengers, but in the very basket.3 Mrs. Hard Ay, your
fine times, indeed; you have been telling us of them for many a long year. Here we live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master: and all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate
such old-fashioned trumpery. Hard. And I love it. I love everything
that 's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and, I believe, Dorothy (taking her hand), you '11 own I have been pretty fond of an old
wife. Mrs. Hard. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you 're
for ever at your Dorothy's and your old wife's. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty,
Hard. Let me see; twenty added to twenty,
makes just fifty and seven! Mrs. Hard. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle: I
was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet. Hard. Nor ever will, I dare answer for
him. Ay, you have taught him finely! Mrs. Hard. No matter, Tony Lumpkin
has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hun
dred a year. Hard. Learning, quotha! A mere compo
sition of tricks and mischief ! Mrs. Hard. Humor, my dear: nothing but
humor. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must
allow the boy a little humor. Hard. I'd sooner allow him an horse
pond! If burning the footmen's shoes, frighting the maids, and worrying the kittens, be humor, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popped my bald head in Mrs.
Frizzle's face! Mrs. Hard. And am I to blame? The
poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin
may do for him? Hard. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle!
No, no, the ale-house and the stable are
the only schools he'll ever go to! Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the
poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Anybody that looks in his face may see he's consump
tive. Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of
the symptoms. Mrs. Hard. He coughs sometimes. Hard. Yes, when his liquor goes the wrong
way. Mrs. Hard. I'm actually afraid of his
and make money of that. 3 The back-part of a stage.coach, a poor place to
lungs. 4 Darby and Joan, in tradition, are a devoted el
Hard. And truly, so am I; for he some
times whoops like a speaking-trumpet(Tony hallooing behind the scenes)-0, there he goes-A very consumptive figure, truly!
(Enter Tony, crossing the stage.) Mrs. Hard. Tony, where are you going,
my charmer? Won't you give papa and
I a little of your company, lovey? Tony. I'm in haste, mother, I cannot stay. Mrs. Hard. You shan't venture out this
raw evening, my dear: you look most
shockingly. Tony. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three
Pigeons expects me down every moment.
There's some fun going forward. Hard. Ay; the ale-house, the old place:
I thought so. Mrs. Hard. A low, paltry set of fellows. Tony. Not so low, neither. There's Dick
Muggins the exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, Little Aminadab that grinds the music box, and Tom Twist
that spins the pewter platter. Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint
them for one night, at least. Tony. As for disappointing them, I
should not so much mind; but I can't
abide to disappoint myself! Mrs. Hard. (Detaining him.) You shan't
go. Tony. I will, I tell you. Mrs. Hard. I say you shan't. Tony. We'll see which is strongest, you or I.
(Exit hauling her out.)
(Hardcastle solus.) Hard. Ay, there goes a pair that only
spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling, Kate; the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
(Enter Miss Hardcastle.) Hard. Blessings on my pretty innocence!
Dressed out as usual, my Kate! Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk has thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed
out of the trimmings of the vain. Miss Hard. You know our agreement, sir.
You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own man
ner; and in the evening, I put on my
housewife's dress, to please you. Hard. Well, remember, I insist on the
terms of our agreement; and, by-the-bye, I believe I shall have occasion to try your
obedience this very evening. Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I don't com
prehend your meaning. Hard. Then, to be plain with you, Kate,
I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out. and that he intends to follow himseli
shortly after. Miss Hard. Indeed! I wish I had known
something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship
or esteem, Hard. Depend upon it, child, I'll never
control your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent under
standing. Miss Hard. Is he? Hard. Very generous. Miss Hard. I believe I shall like him. Hard. Young and brave. Miss Hard. I'm sure I shall like him. Hard. And very handsome. Miss Hard. My dear papa, say no more
(kissing his hand), he's mine, I'll have
him! Hard. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one
of the most bashful and reserved young
fellows in all the world. Miss Hard. Eh! you have frozen me to
death again. That word reserved has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes
a suspicious husband. Hard. On the contrary, modesty seldom
resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very fea
ture in his character that first struck me. Miss Hard. He must have more striking
features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so everything, as you mention, I believe he'll do still
. I think I'll have him.
Hard. Ay, Kate, but there is still an ob
stacle. It is more than an even wager,
he may not have you. Miss Hard. My dear papa, why will you
mortify one so ?-Well, if he refuses, in-
cult admirer. Hard. Bravely resolved! In the mean
time I'll go prepare the servants for his reception; as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster.
(Miss Hardcastle sola.) Jliss Hard. Lud, this news of papa's puts
me all in a flutter. Young, handsome; these he put last; but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved, and sheepish, that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't Ibut I vow I'm disposing of the husband before I have secured the lover!
(Enter Miss Neville.) Miss Hard. I'm glad you 're come, Neville,
my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there anything whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child ? Am I in face
to-day? Miss Neville. Perfectly, my dear. Yet,
now I look again-bless me!-sure no accident has happened among the canary birds the goldfishes? Has your brother or the cat been meddling? Or
has the last novel been too moving? Miss Hard. No; nothing of all this. I
have been threatened-I can scarce get it
out-I have been threatened with a lover! Miss Neville. And his nameMiss Hard. Is Marlow. Miss Neville. Indeed ! Miss Hard. The son of Sir Charles Mar
low. Miss Neville. As I live, the most intimate
friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him when we lived in
town. Miss Hard. Never. Miss Neville. He's a very singular char
acter, I assure you. Among women of reputation and virtue, he is the modestest
man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of another stamp: you understand
me. Miss Hard. An odd character, indeed! I
shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear? Has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual? Miss Neville. I have just come from one
of our agreeable tête-à-têtes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very
pink of perfection. Miss Hard. And her partiality is such,
that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her un
willing to let it go out of the family. Miss Neville. A fortune like mine, which
chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But, at any rate, if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son, and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed upon
another. Miss Hard. My good brother holds out
stoutly. I could almost love him for
hating you so. Miss Neville. It is a good-natured creature
at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons. Courage is necessary, as our af
fairs are critical. Miss Hard. Would it were bed-time and all were well.
SCENE 2. An Ale-house Room. (Several shabby fellows, with punch and
tobacco. Tony at the head of the table, a little higher than the rest: a mallet in
his hand.) Omnes. Hurrea, hurrea, hurrea, bravo! First Fellow. Now, gentlemen, silence for
a song. The 'Squire is going to knock
himself down for a song. Omnes. Ay, a song, a song. Tony. Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a
5 Let's go.