AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE.
1774. Written in celebration of the forthcoming marriage of
Edward Smith Stanley, heir to the earldom of Derby and Lady
Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753-1797), Countess of Derby by Romney
Unlike to ancient Fame, all eyes, tongues, ears,
See modern Fame, dress’d cap-a-pee, appears,
In Ledgers, Chronicles, Gazettes, and Gazetteers:
My soaring wings are fine Election speeches,
And puffs of Candidates supply my breeches:
My Cap is Satire, Criticism, Wit;
Is there a head that wants it in the Pit? [Offering it.]
No flowing robe and trumpet me adorn;
I wear a jacket, and I wind a horn.
Pipe, Sons, and Pastoral, for five months past,
Puff'd well by me, have been the gen’ral taste.
Now Mars bone shines forth to gaping crowds!
Now Highgate glitters from her hill of clouds!
St. George's Fields, with taste and fashion struck,
Display Arcadia at the Dog and Duck!
And Drury Misses—‘here in carmine pride:
Are there 1‘astoras by the fountain side*.’
To frowsy bow'rs they reel through midnight damps,
With Fauns half drunk, and Dryads breaking lamps,
Both far and near did this new whimsy run,
One night it frisk’d, forsooth, at Islington:
And now, as for the public bound to cater,
Our Manager must base his Fete Champitre—
*Arcadia's Countess here in ermine pride
Is their Pastora by a mountain side. -- POPE
How is the weather? pretty clear and bright? [Looking about]
A storm’s the devil on Champetre night!
Lest it should fall to spoil the Author’s scenes,
I’ll catch this gleam to tell you what he means:
He means a show, as brilliant as at Cox's—
Laugh for the Pit—and may be at the Boxes—
Touches of passion, tender, though not tragic,
Strokes at the times—a kind of Lantern Magic;
Song, chorus, frolic, dance, and rural play,
The merry-making of a wedding-day.
Whose is this piece?—’tis all surmise—suggestion—
Is’t his?—or her's?—or your's, sir? that’s the question:
The parent, bashful, whimsical, or poor,
Left it a puling infant at the door:
’Twas laid on flowers, and wrapt in fancied cloaks,
And on the breast was written—Maid o’ th’ Oaks.
The actors crowded round the girls caress’d it,
‘Lord! the sweet pretty babe!’—they prais’d and bless’d it,
The Master peep’d—smil’d—took it in and dress’d it. '
Whate’er its birth, protect it from the curse
Of being smother’d by a parish nurse!
kind, rear it—if you’re curious praise it,
And ten to one but vanity betrays it.
Mr. Oldworth..... Mr. Aickin
Old Grovebv ...... Mr. King
Sir Ilarrv Groveby Mr. Palmer
Mr. Dupeley....... Mr. Dodd
Hurry ................ Mr. Suett
Painter .............. Mr. Moody
Architect........... Mr. Wrighten
Lady Bab Lardoon Mrs. Abingdon
Maria ................ Mrs. Crouch.
Shepherdesses, Gardeners, Carpenters, Painters, Etc.
SCENE I. Part of an ornamented Farm.
Enter Sir Harry Groveby and Mr. DUPELEY, meeting.
Dear Charles, welcome to England, and doubly welcome to Oldworth’s Oaks—Friendship I see has wings, as well as love—you arrive at the moment I wished: I hope in your haste you have not forgot a fancy dress.
No, no; I am a true friend, and prepar’d for all your whimsies, amorous and poetical. Your summons found me the day after my arrival, and I took post immediately—next to my eagerness to see you, was that of being in time for the Fete Champetre—Novelty and pleasure are the beings I pursue—They have led me half the world over already, and for ought I know they may sometime or other carry me to Otaheite.
You have pursued but their shadows—here they reign, in the manners of this New Arcadia, and the smiles of the sweet Maid of the Oaks.
Who, in the name of curiosity, is she that bears this romantic title? for your letter was a mere eclogue; the devil a thing could I make out, but a rhapsody upon rural innocence, and an invitation from a gentleman I did not know, to an entertainment I never saw—What, are we to have a representation of the Pastor-fido in a garden?
The Pastor-fido is before you in propria persona; the business of the day is a wedding, and Charles Dupeley is invited to see his friend, Sir Harry Groveby, united to the most charming of her sex.
The devil it is! What, a young fellow of your hopes and fortune, sacrificed to a marriage of romance! But, pr’ythee, relieve my impatience, and tell me who she is.
An orphan ward of the worthy old gentleman, at whose seat you now are: his character is singular, and as amiable in its way as her’s. Inheriting a great estate, and liberally educated, his disposition led him early to a country life, where his benevolence and hospitality are boundless; and these qualities, joined with an imagination bordering upon the whimsical, have given a peculiar turn to the manners of the neighbourhood, that, in my opinion, degrades the polish of courts—but judge of the original.
Mr. Old worth, I present you my friend; he is just arrived from abroad; I will not repeat how much he is worthy of your friendship.
To be worthy of your’s, Sir Harry, is the best recommendation.—[To Dupeley] Sir, your friend is going to receive from my hands a lovely girl, whose merit he has discern’d and lov’d for its own sake: such nuptials should recall the ideas of a better age; he has permitted me to celebrate them upon my own plan, and I shall be happy to receive the judgment of an accomplish’d critic.
Sir, by what I already see of Oldworth’s Oaks, and know of the character of the master, 1 am persuaded the talent most necessary for the company will be that of giving due praise.
Lord, sir, come down to the building directly—all the trades are together by the ears— it is for all the world like the tower of Babylon— they have drove a broad-wheel waggon over two hampers of wine, and it is all running among lilies and honeysuckles—one of the cooks stumbled over one of the clouds, and threw a ham and chickens into a tub of white-wash—a lamp-lighter spilt a gallon of oil into a cream’d apple-tart, and they have sent for more roses, and there is not one left within twenty miles.
Why, honest Hurry, if there is none to be had, you need not be in such haste about’em —Mercy on us! my fete has turn’d this poor fellow’s head already, he will certainly get a fever.
Get a favour, sir!—why there has not been one left these three hours; all the girls in the parish have been scrambling for them, and I must get a hundred yards more—Lord a mercy! there is so much to do at once, and nobody to do it, that it is enough to moider one’s head.
[Oldworth and Hurry talk together.]
Ha, ha, ha! is this one of the examples you produce, Sir Harry, to degrade the polish of courts?
If I did, have you never met with a courtier in your travels, as busy, as important, and as insignificant, upon yet more trifling occasions? —Why, my friend Hurry is the true bustle of an anti-chamber, with this difference, that there is rather more attachment and fidelity to the master at the bottom of it.
[During this speech Hurry is expressing by his action his impatience for Oldworth to go.
La, sir, if you loiter longer, I tell you they will all be at loggerheads—they were very near it when I came away.
Mr. Dupeley, you’ll excuse me — Hurry convinces me my presence is necessary elsewhere—this is a busy day!
The greatest compliment you can pay me is not to look upon me as a stranger.
I forgot to tell you, Sir Harry, that Lady Bab Lardoon is in the neighbourhood, and I expect her every moment—she promised to be with us long before the hour of general invitation.
Who is she pray?
Oh, she’s a superior! a phoenix!— more worthy your curiosity than any object of your travels.—She is an epitome, or rather a caricature of what is call’d very fine life, and the first female gamester of the time.
For all that, she is amiable—one cannot help discerning and admiring the natural excellence of her heart and understanding; though she
is an example, that neither is proof against a false education, and a rage for fashionable excesses—But when you see her, she will best explain herself— This fellow will give me no rest.
Rest, sir, why I have not slept this fortnight; come along, sir, pray make haste— nothing’s to be done without it.
Nor with it, honest Hurry.
[Exit with Hurry.]
A cunning old fellow, I warrant!— with 'his ward, and his love of merit for its own sake'—ha, ha, ha I pry’thee, how came your acquaintance in this odd family?
Don’t sneer, and I will tell you—By mere chance, in a progress of amusement to this side the country: the story is too delicate for thy relish, suffice it that I came, saw, and lov’d—I laid my rank and fortune at the fair-one’s feet, and would have married instantly; but that Oldworth opposed my precipitancy, and insisted upon a probation of six months’ absence—It has been a purgatory!
All this is perfectly en regle for a man of home education—I should like to see the woman that could entangle me in this manner.
There is not a fellow in England has a more susceptible heart; you may have learut in your foreign tour to disguise it, but if you have lost it, put all your acquisitions together, and the balance will be against you.
I have learned at least, not to have it imposed upon: shew me but a woman from an Italian princess to a figurante at the French opera; or change the scene, and carry me to the rural nymphs from a vintage in Burgundy, to a dance round a maypole at Oldworth’s Oaks—and at the first glance I will discover the whole extent of their artifice, find their true lure, and bring them to my hand as easily as a tame sparrow.
And pray, my sagacious friend, upon what circumstances have you formed your suspicions that I am more likely to be impos’d upon than yourself?
Upon every one I have seen and heard; but above all upon that natural propensity of every true homebred Englishman, to think one woman different from another—Now I hold there is but one woman in the world.
I perfectly agree, and Maria is that charming one.
Ay, but Maria, and Lady Bab, and Pamela Andrews, and Clarissa Harlowe, and the girl that steals a heart in a country church, or she that picks your pocket in Covent-garden, are one and the same creature for all that—I am always too quick for them, and make fools of them first—Oh, do but try them by the principle 1 have laid down, you’ll find them as transparent as glass.
My own principle will answer my purpose just as well; with that perspective I have looked through the woman, and discovered the angel; and you will do the same when you see her, or never brag of your eyesight more.
Rhapsody and enthusiasm!—I should as soon discover Mahomet’s seventh heaven; but what says your uncle, Old Groveby, to this match?
Faith I have asked him no questions, and why should I? when I know what must be his answer.
Oh, he can never disapprove a passion that soars above the stars!
He has all the prejidices of his years, and worldly knowledge; the common old gentleman’s character—You may see it in every drama from the days of Terence to those of Congreve; though not perhaps with quite so much good humour, and so little obstinacy as my uncle shews. He is ever most impetuous, when most kind; and I dare trust his resentment will end with a dramatic forgiveness. Should it not, I may have pride in the sacrifice of his estate, but no regret—So much for fortune, Charles—are there any other means to reconcile me to your approbation?
’Gad I know but one more—Have you laid any plan for succeeding at the divorce-shop next winter? It would be some comfort to your friends, to see you had a retreat in your head.
Charles, I have listened to your raillery with more patience than it deserves, and should at last be out of humour with such an importation of conceit and affectation, if I was not sure your good sense would soon get the better of it. This is called knowing the world—to form notions without, perhaps, ever seeing a man in his natural character, or conversing with a woman of principle; and then, for fear of being imposed upon, be really dup’d out of the most valuable feelings in human nature, confidence in friendship, and esteem in love.
Lord, sir, I am out of breath to find you; why almost every thing is ready, except yonrself; and Madam Maria is gone to the Grove, and she is so dress’d, and looks so charming!
Propitious be the hour!—here, Hurry, find out this gentleman’s servant, and shew him where he is to dress.
Oh, take care of yourself, Corydon the first, I shall be time enough: Hurry shall first shew me a little of the preparation—what is going forward here?
[Approaching the side-scene.]
Hold, sir, not that way; my master lets nobody see his devices and figaries there.
Why, what is he doing there, Hurry?
Doing!—as you are a gentleman, I will tell you what he is doing—I hope nobody hears us. [Looking about.] Why, he is going to make the sun shine at midnight, and he is covering it with a thousand yards of sail-cloth, for fear the rain should put it out—Lord, such doings!—here, this way, your honour.
But hark’ee, honest Hurry, do stand still a moment to oblige me.
Standstill, sir!—Lord, sir, if I stand still, every thing stands still: and then what a fine Sham-Peter should we make of it!
You seem to know every thing here?
To be sure I do—I am no fool I believe —What think you, sir?
He that takes you for a fool, is not over wise, I warrant him; therefore let me ask you a question or two.
To-morrow, sir, with all my heart; but I have so many questions to ask myself, and so many answers to give, that I have not five minutes to spare.
Three minutes will do my business: who is this Maid of the Oaks, friend Hurry?
A young lady, sir.
I thought as much. [Smiling.] You are a courtier, friend Hurry.
I court her!—Heaven forbid!—she’s going to be married, sir.
Well said, Simplicity! If you won’t tell me who she is, tell me what she is?
She is one of the most charmingest, sweetest, delightfulest, mildest, beautifulest, modestest, genteelest, never to be prais’d enough, young creature in all the world!
True courtier again! Who is her father, pray?
It is a wise child that knows its own father; Lord bless her! she does not want a father.
Not while Mr. Oldworth lives.
Nor when he is dead neither; every body would be glad to be her father, and everybody wishes to be her husband; and so, sir, if you have more questions to ask, I’ll answer them another time, for I am wanted here, and there, and everywhere.
Shew me my chamber to dress, and I’ll desire no more of you at present.
Bless your honour for letting me go; I have been very miserable all the while you were talking to me—this way, this way, sir.
What a character!—yet he has his cunning, though the simplest swain in this region of perfect innocence, as Sir Ilarry calls it—ha, ha, ha! [Exit.]
SCENE II. An outside Building, Workmen of all sorts passing to-and-fro.
Architect. [As speaking to persons at work behind the side-scene.]
Come, bustle away, my lads, strike the scaffold, and then for the twelve o’clock tankard; up with the rest of the festoons there on the top of the columns.
Holloa! you sir, where are you running with those flowers?
They’re wanted for the Arcades; we can have no deceit there—if you want more here, you may make them of paper—anv thing will go off by candle-light.
First Lamp-lighter. [Running.]
They want above a hundred more lamps yonder, for the illumination of the portico.
Then they may get tallow candles; I shan’t have enough to make the sky clear in the saloon—that damn’d Irish painter has made his ground so dingy, one might as soon make his head transparent as his portico.
[Enter Irish Painter.]
Arrah! what is that you say of my head, Mr. Lamp-lighter?
I say you have spoil’d the transparency, by putting black where you should have put blue.
Painter. [Dabbing his brush across his face.]
There's a black eye for you; and you may be thankful you got it so easily—Trot away with your ladder upon your shoulder, or the devil fire me but you shall have black and blue both, my dear.
Good words, good words, gentlemen; no quarrelling—Your servant, Mr. O‘Daub; upon my word you have hit oft’those ornaments very well—the first painter we have here could not have done better.
No, faith, I believe not, for all his hard name; sure O’Daub was a scene-painter before he was born, though I believe he is older than I too.
You a scene-painter!
Ay, by my soul was I, and for foreign countries too.
Where was that pray?
Faith, I painted a whole set for the Swish, who carries the Temple of Jerusalem about upon his back, and it made his fortune, though he got but a halfpenny a-piece for his show.
I wish we had known your merits, you should certainly have been employ’d in greater parts of the work.
And, by my soul, it would have been better for you if you had—I would have put out Mr. Lanterbug’s stars with one dash of my pencil, by making them five times more bright—Ho! if you had seen the sign of a setting sun, that I painted for a linen draper, in Bread-street, in Dublin— Devil burn me but the Auroree of O’Guide was a fool to it.
O’Guide!—Who is he? Guid-o, I suppose you mean.
And if he has an O to his name, what signifies whether it comes before or behind—Faith, I put it like my own of O’Daub, on the right side, to make him sound more like a gentleman—besides it is more melodious in the mouth, honey.
[nter Carpenters, Etc.]
Well, sir, the scaffold’s down, and we are woundy dry—we have toil’d like horses.
Rest yon merry, Master Carpenter— take a draught of the ’Squire’s liquor, and welcome, you shall swim in it, when all is over.
Faith let me have one merry quarter of an hour before we at it again, and it will be no loss of time neither—we will make the next quarter after, as good as an hour—and so his honour and the sham-peter will gain by the loss.
Well said, O’Daub! and if von will give us the song you made, the quarter of an hour will be merrier still.
Can you rhyme, O’Daub?
Yes, faith, as well as paint—all the difference is, I do one with a brush, and t’other with a pen; I do one with my head, and both with my hands—and if any of the poets of 'em all can produce better rhymes and raisins too within the gardens, I’ll be content to have one of my own brushes ration'd down my throat, and so spoil me for a singer as well as a poet hereafter.
Well said, Master Painter!
[Enter the several Tradesmen.]
SONG. [By the Irish Painter, to an Irish Tune.]
Then away to Champetre, Champetre eome all away,
To work at Champetre is nothing at all but play;
As I know nothing of it, no more, my dear, will I say,
But Champetre forever, forever, and ay, I say!
You may guess what a sight, for it never has yet been seen,
Heav’n bless her sweet face! ’tis a sight for the lovely queen;
For lords, and for earls, and for gentlefolks too,
And the busy beau monde, who have nothing to do.
Then away to Champetre, &c.
While ’tis light you’ll see nothing, when darker, O then you’ll see,
That the darker it is, the more light it will quickly be;
The moon and the stars, they may twinkle and go to bed,
We can make better sun-shine, than such as they ever made.
Then away to Champetre, &c.
Such crowds and confusions, such uproar and such delight,
With lamps bung by thousands, to turn day into night;
There will be Russians, Turks, Prussians, and Dutchmen, so bright and gay,
And they’ll all be so fine, they’ll have nothing at all to say.
Then away to Cbampetre, &c.
Then let’s take a drink to the ’Squire of the Jolly Oaks,
May no crabbed critics come here with their gibes or jokes;
If they did, I could make the dear creatures soon change their notes,
With my little black brush I could sweep clean their noisy throats!
Then away to Cbampetre, &c.
SCENE I. The Oaks.
Maria, [sitting under a great Tree.]
Come sing round my favourite tree,
You songsters that visit the grove,
’Twas the haunt of my shepherd and me,
And the bark is a record of love.
Reclin’d on the turf by my side,
He tenderly pleaded his cause;
I only with blushes replied,
And the nightingale fill’d up the pause.
Da Capo.—Come sing, &c.
Joy to my sweet Maria! may long succeeding years resemble this, her bridal hour! may health, and peace, and love, still inspire her song, and make the harmony of her voice an emblem of her life! But come, my girl, if there is a wish remaining in your heart within my power to gratify, I hope, in this last hour of my cares, I shall not be a stranger to it.
If I have a wish you have not indulged, sir, I fear it must be an improper one, or it would not have escaped you.
You seem disconcerted, Maria; he more explicit.
My mind is incapable of reserve with you; the most generous of men is on the point of giving his hand to your—what shall I call myself? I am almost nameless, but as the creature of your bounty and cares, this title gives me a value in my own eyes; but I fear it is all I have to boast. The mystery you have kept, makes me apprehensive there is something in my origin ought to be concealed—what am I to interpret from your smiles?
Every thing that is contrary to your surmises: be patient, sweet Maid of the Oaks; before night all mysteries shall be cleared. It is not an ordinary wedding I celebrate, I prepare a feast for the heart—Lady Bab Lardoon, as I live!—the princess of dissipation! Catch an observation of her while yon can, Maria; for though she has been but three days out of London, she is as uneasy as a mole in sunshine, and would expire, if she did not soon dive into her old element again.
[Enter Lady Bab.]
Dear Maria, I am happy to be the first of your company to congratulate you—Well, Mr. Oldworth, I am delighted with the idea of your Fete; it is so novel, so French, so expressive of what every body understands, and nobody can explain; then there is something so spirited in an undertaking of expence, where a shower of rain would spoil it all.
I did not expect to escape from so fine a lady, but you and the world have free leave to comment upon all you see here.
‘Laugh where you must, be candid where you can.’
I only hope that to celebrate a joyful event upon any plan, that neither hurts the morals nor politeness of the company, and at the same time sets thousands of the industrious to work, cannot be thought blame-worthy.
Oh, quite the contrary, and I am sure it will have a run; a force upon the seasons and the manners is the true test of a refined taste, and it holds good from a cucumber at Christmas, to an Italian opera.
Is the rule the same among the ladies, Lady Bab? Is it also a definition of their refinement to act in all things contrary to nature?
Not absolutely in all things, though more so than people are apt to imagine; for even in circumstances that seem most natural, fashion prompts ten times, where inclination prompts once; and there would be an end of gallantry at once in this country, if it was not for the sake of reputation.
What do you mean?
Why, that a woman without a connection, grows every day a more awkward personage; one might as well go into company without powder—if one does not really despise old vulgar prejudices, it is absolutely necessary to affect it, or one must sit at home alone.
Yes, like Lady Sprose, and talk morals to the parrot.
This is new, indeed; I always supposed that in places where freedom of manners was most countenanced, a woman of unimpeached conduct carried a certain respect.
Only fit for sheep-walks and Oakeries!—I beg your pardon, Mr. Oldworth—in town it would just raise you to the whist-party of old Lady Cypher, Mrs. Squabble, and Lord Flimzey; and at every public place, you wou’d stand amongst the footmen to call your own chair, while all the macaronies passed by, whistling a song through their tooth-picks, and giving a shrug—' Dem it, ’tis a pity that so fine a woman shou’d be lost to all common decency.’
I believe I had better stay in the Oakery, as you call it; for I am afraid I shall never procure any civility in town, upon the terms required.
Oh, my dear, you have chose a horrid word to express the intercourse of the bon ton; civility may be very proper in a mercer, when one is choosing a silk, but familiarity is the life of good company. I believe this is quite new since your time, Mr. Oldwortb, but ’tis by far the greatest improvement the beau monde ever made.
A certain ease was always an essential part of good breeding; but Lady Bab must explain her meaning a little further, before we can decide upon the improvement.
I mean that participation of society, in which the French used to excel, and we have now so much outdone our models—I maintain, that among the inferior set—mind, I only speak of them —our men and women are put more upon a footing together in London, than they ever were before in any age or country.
And pray how has this happy revolution been effected?
By the most charming of all institutions, wherein we shew the world, that liberty is as well understood by our women as by our men; we have our Bill of Rights and our Constitution too, as well as they—we drop in at all hours, play at all parties, pay our own reckonings, and in every circumstance (petticoats excepted) are true, lively, jolly fellows.
But does not this give occasion to a thousand malicious insinuations?
Ten thousand, my dear—but no great measures can be effected without a contempt of popular clamour.
Paying of reckonings is, I confess, new since my time; and I should be afraid it might sometimes be a little heavy upon a lady’s pocket.
A mere trifle—one generally wins them—Jack Saunter of the guards, lost a hundred and thirty to me upon score at one time; I have not eat him half out yet—he will keep me best part of next winter; but, exclusive of that, the club is the greatest system of economy for married families ever yet established.
Indeed! but how so, pray?
Why, all the servants may be put to board wages, or sent into the country, except the footman—no plunder of house-keepers, or maitres d’hotel, no long butcher’s bills—Lady Squander protests she has wanted no provision in her family these six months, except potatoes to feed the children, and a few frogs for the French governess— then our dinner-societies are so amusing, all the doves and hawks together, and one converses so freely; there’s no topic of White’s or Almack’s, in which we do not bear a part.
Upon my word I should be a little afraid, that some of those subjects might not always be managed with sufficient delicacy for a lady’s ear, especially an unmarried one.
Bless me! why where’s the difference? Miss must have had a strange education indeed, not to know as much as her chaperon: I hope you will not have the daughters black-ball’d, when the mothers are chose? Why it is almost the only place where some of them are likely to see each other.
[Enter Sir Harry Groveby.]
I come to claim my lovely bride— here at her favourite tree I claim her mine! — the hour is almost on the point, the whole country is beginning to assemble; every preparation of Mr. Oldworth’s fancy is preparing.
'And while the priests accuse the bride’s delay,
Roses and myrtles shall obstruct her way.'
Repugnance would be affectation, my heart is all your own, and I scorn the look or action that does not avow it.
Come, Sir Harry, leave your protestations, which my girl does not want; and see a fair stranger.
Sir Harry, I rejoice at your happiness—and do not think me so tasteless, Maria, as not to acknowledge attachment like your’s preferable to all others, when it can be had—-filer le parfait amour, is the first happiness in life: but that you know is totally out of the question in town; the matrimonial comforts in our way are absolutely reduced to two; to plague a man, and to bury him; the glory is to plague him first, and bury him afterwards.
I heartily congratulate Lady Bab, and all who are to partake of her conversation, upon her being able to bring so much vivacity into the country.
Nothing but the Fete Champetre could have effected it, for I set out in miserable spirits— 1 had a horrid run before I left town—1 suppose you saw my name in the papers?
I did, and therefore concluded there was not a word of truth in the report.
Your name in the papers, Lady Bab! for what, pray?
The old story—it is a mark of insignificance now to be left out: have not they begun with you yet, Maria?
Not that I know of, and I am not at all ambitious of the honour.
Oh, but you will have it—the Fete Champetre will be a delightful subject:—To be complimented one day, laugh’d at the next, and abused the third; you can’t imagine how amusing it is to read one’s own name at breakfast in a morning paper.
Pray, how long may your ladyship have been accustomed to this pleasure?
Lord, a great while, and in all its stages: they first began with a modest innuendo, ‘We hear a certain lady, not a hundred miles from Hanover-square, lost at one sitting, some nights ago, two thousand guineas—O tempora! O mores!’
Pray, Lady Bab, is this concluding ejaculation your own, or was it the printer’s?
His, you maybe sure: a dab of Latin adds surprising force to a paragraph, besides shewing the learning of the author.
Well, but really I don’t see such a great matter in this; why should you suppose any body applied this paragraph to you?
None but my intimates did, for it was applicable to half St. George’s parish; but about a week after they honoured me with initials and italics: ‘It is said, Lady B. L.’s ill success still continues at the quinze table: it was observed, the same lady appeared yesterday at court, in a riband collier, having laid aside her diamond necklace, (diamond in italics) as totally bourgeoise and unnecessary for the dress of a woman of fashion.’
To be sure this was advancing a little in familiarity.
At last, to my infinite amusement, out I came at full length: ‘Lady Bab Lardoon has tumbled down three nights successively; a certain colonel has done the same; and we hear that both parties keep house with sprained ankles.’
This last paragraph sounds a little enigmatical.
And do you really feel no resentment at all this?
Resentment!—poor silly devils, if they did but know with what thorough contempt those of my circle treat a remonstrance—but hark, I hear the pastoral’s beginning. [Music behind.'] Lord, I hope I shall find a shepherd!
The most elegant one in the world, Mr. Dupeley, Sir Harry’s friend.
You don’t mean Charles Dupeley, who has been so long abroad?
The very same; but I’m afraid he will never do, be is but half a macaroni.
And very possibly the worst half: it is a vulgar idea to think foreign accomplishments fit a man for the polite world.
Lady Bab, I wish you would undertake him; he seems to have contracted all the common-place affectation of travel, and thinks himself quite an overmatch for the fair-sex, of whom his opinion is as ill founded as it is degrading.
O, is that his turn? what, he has been studying some late posthumous letters I suppose?—’twould be a delight to make a fool of such a fellow!—where is he?
He is only gone to dress; I appointed to meet him on the other side the Grove; he’ll be here in twenty minutes.
I’ll attend him there in your place — I have it—I’ll try my hand a little at naivete—he never saw me—the dress I am going to put on for
the Fete will do admirably to impose upon him: I’ll make an example of his hypocrisy, and his graces, and his usage du monde.
My life for it he will begin an acquaintance with you.
If he don’t, I’ll begin with him: there are two characters under which one may say any thing to a man; that of perfect assurance, and of perfect innocence: Maria may be the best critic of the last; but under the appearance of it, lord have mercy!—I have heard aud seen such things!
[Enter Hurry, running.]
Here they come! here they come! give them room! pray, sir, stand a little back—a little further, your honourable lad)ship, let the happy couple stand foremost—here they come!
And, pray, when you can find breath to be understood, who or what is coming, Hurry?
All the cleverest lads and girls that could be picked out within ten miles round: they have garlands in one hand, and roses in another, and their pretty partners in another, and some are singing, and all so merry!
Stand still, Hurry; I foresaw you would be a sad master of the ceremonies; why they should not have appeared till the lawn was full of
company; they were to have danced there—you let them in too soon by an hour.
Lord, sir! ’twas impossible to keep them out.
Impossible! why, I am sure they did not knock you down.
No, but they did worse; for the pretty maids smiled and smirked, and were so coaxing; and they called me dear Hurry, and sweet Hurry, and one call'd me pretty Hurry, and I did but just open the door a moment, flesh and blood could not resist it, and so they all rushed by.
Ay, and now we shall have the whole crowd of the country break in.
No, sir, no, never be aftaid; we keep out all the old ones.
Ay, here they come cross the lawn —I agree with Hurry, flesh and blood could not stop them—Joy and gratitude are overbearing arguments, and they must have their course.
Now, Sir Harry! now, your ladyship! you shall see such dancing, and hear such singing!
[Enter first Shepherd, very gaily, followed by a group of Shepherds and Shepherdesses.]
Hither, ye swains, with dance and song,
Join your bands in sportive measure;
Hither, ye swains, with dance and song,
Merrily, merrily, trip it along:
'Tis holiday, lads, from the cares of your tillage,
Life, health, and joy, to the lord of the village.
Scenes of delight,
Round you invite,
Harmony, beauty, love, and pleasure:
Hither, ye swains, with dance and song,
Join your bands in sportive measure,
Chorus. —Hither ye swains, &c.
Hither, ye nymphs, and scatter around
Every sweet the spring discloses;
Hither, ye nymphs, and scatter them round,
With the bloom of the hour enamel the ground;
The feast of the day is devoted to beautv,
Sorrow is treason, and pleasure a duty:
Love shall preside,
Fetter his winks with links of roses:
Hither, ye nymphs, and scatter around
Every sweet the spring discloses.
Chorus.—Hither ye nymphs, &c.
Lasses and lads, with dance and song,
Join your bands in sportive measure:
Lasses and lads, nith dance and song,
Merrily, merrily trip it along:
An hour of youth is worth ages of reason,
’Tis the sunshine of life, take the gift of the season;
Scenes of delight,
Round you invite,
Harmony, beauty, love, and pleasure.
Chorus.—Lasses and lads, &c.
So much for singing, and now for dancing; pray give ’em room, ladies and gentlemen.
[Here a grand dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses.]
SCENE I. The Garden Gate.
sir, we can’t! it is as much as our places are worth: prav don’t insist upon it.
[Enter Old Groveby, booted and splashed, pushing in Hurry.]
I must see Sir Ilarry’ Groveby, and I will see him. Do ye think, ye Jackanapes, that I come to rob the house?
That is not the case, sir; nobody visits my master to-day without tickets; all the world will be here, and how shall we find room for all the world, if people were to come how they please, and when they please?
What, have you a stage-play here, that one cannot be admitted without a ticket?
As you don’t know what we have here to-day, I must desire you to come to-morrow—Sir Harry won’t see you to-day, he has a great deal of business upon his hands; and you can’t be admitted without a ticket; and moreover you are in such a pickle, and nobody will be admitted but in a fanciful dress.
This is a dress after my own fancy, sirrah; and whatever pickle I am in. I will put you in a worse, if you don’t immediately shew me to Sir Harry Groveby—[Shaking his whip.]
Sir Harry’s going to be married—What would the man have?
I would have a sight of him before he goes to be married. I shall mar his marriage, I believe. [Aside.]—I am his uncle, puppy, and ought to be at the wedding.
Are you so, sir? Bless my heart! why would you not say so?—This way, good sir! it was impossible to know you in such a figure; I could sooner have taken you for a smuggler than his uncle; no offence, sir—If you will please to walk in that grove there, I'll find him directly—I’m sorry for what has happened—but you did not say you were a gentleman, and it was impossible to take you for one—no offence, I hope?
None at all, if you do as I bid you.
That I will, to be sure. I hope you are come to be merry, sir?
O, ay to be sure—It is true, I see; I come at the very instant of his perdition—whether I succeed or not, I shall do my duty, and let other folks be merry if they like it—Going to be married! and to whom? to a young girl, without birth, fortune, or without anybody’s knowing anything about her; and without so much as saying to me, his uncle, with your leave, or by your leave: if he will prefer the indulgence of a boyish passion, to my affection and two thousand pounds per annum—let him be as merry as he pleases. I shall return to Gloomstock-hall, and make a new will directly.
SCENE II. changes to a Grove.
I wish I may have strength to support my happiness: I cannot get the better of my agitation; and though this day is to complete my wishes, my heart, I don’t know how, feels something like distress—But what strange person is coming this way? How got he admitted in that strange dress?
Madam, your servant; I hope I don’t intrude: 1 am waiting here for a young gentleman —If I disturb you, I’ll walk at the other end.
Indeed, sir, you don’t disturb me. Shall I call anybody to you, sir?
Not for the world, fair lady; an odd kind of a pert, bustling, restless fellow, is gone to do my business; and if I might be permitted to say a word or two, in the mean time, to so fair a creature, I should acknowledge it a most particular favour: but I intrude, I fear.
Indeed you don’t, sir—I should be happy to oblige you.
And you make me happy by such civility—This is a most lovely creature! [Aside.]
Who can this be? [Aside.]
I find, madam, there is going to be a wedding here to-day. '
Yes, sir; a very splendid one, by the preparations.
A very foolish business, to make such a fuss about a matter which both parties may have reason to curse this time twelvemonth.
I hope not, sir—Do you know the parties?
One of them too well, by being a near relation—Do you know the bride, young lady?
Pretty well, sir; my near acquaintance with her makes me attend here to-day.
[Maria seems confused.]
Might I, without being impertinent, beg to know something about her—but you are partial to her, and won’t speak your mind.
I am indeed partial to her—everybody is too partial to her—her fortune is much above her deserts.
Ay, ay, I thought so—sweet lady, your sincerity is as lovely as your person—you really think then, she does not deserve so good a match?
Deserve it, sir! so far from deserving it, that I don’t know that human creature that can deserve Sir Harry Groveby.
What a sensible sweet creature this is! [Aside-.] Young lady, your understanding is very extraordinary for your age—you sincerely think then, that this is a very unequal match?
Indeed I do, very sincerely—
And that it ought not to be.
Ought not to be, sir! [Hesitating.] That, sir, is another question—If Sir Harry has promis’d—and the young lady’s affections—
Ay, to be sure, the young lady’s affections! they are more to be consider'd than the young man’s credit, or the old man’s happiness — But pray, fair young lady, what are your real sentiments of this incognita?
Upon my word, sir— [Hesitates.] 1 scarce know how to answer your question—[Much confused.]
Your delicacy to your friend won’t let you speak out; but I understand your objections— Nay, I feel ’em so much, that I am come on purpose to break the match.
Ay, indeed am I—a silly young puppy! without acquainting me with it, to go so far—I suppose some interested creature, with a little beauty and more cunning, has laid hold of this precious fool of a nephew of mine—
Your nephew, sir!
Yes, yes, my nephew; but he must give up his girl, or renounce the relationship.
But consider, sir, what the poor young woman must suffer!
She ought to suffer, a designing baggage! I’ll be bang’d if it is not some demure looking chit, with a fair skin, and a couple of dimples in her cheeks, that has done all this mischief'; you think so too, but you won’t speak out.
But if Sir Ilarry is contented with such small accomplishments—
He contented, a simpleton! don’t say a word in his favour; have not you confessed, though her friend, that she does not deserve him?
1’ll take your word for it; you have good sense, and can see his folly: you can’t give up your friend to be sure; I see your affection struggling with your understanding; but you have convinced me that the fellow’s undone.
For heaven’s sake, sir!—I convinced you!
Had the young blockhead but half an eye he would have fallen in love with you; and if he had, there had been some excuse for his folly; on my word you are so sensible and sincere, I could fall in love with you myself— don’t blush, maiden— I protest I never was half so much smitten in so short a time, when I was as young a fool as my nephew—don’t blush, damsel—
You overpower me with your goodness: but, sir, pray let me plead for him.
Nay, nay, sweet young lady, don’t contradict yourself; you spoke your sentiments at first —truth is a charming thing, and you’re a charming creature, and you should never be asunder. My nephew, (as you hinted at first) is a very silly fellow, and in short it is a damn’d match.
[Enter Sir Harry, who starts at seeing his Uncle, and looks ashamed.[
I cannot stand this interview. [Exit.]
O, your humble servant, Sir Harry Groveby.
My dear uncle, I am so happy —
O, to be sure—you are very happy to see me here. [Sir Harry looks confused.] O, ho, you have some modesty left—And so you are going to be married, and forgot that you had an uncle living, did you?
Indeed, sir, I was afraid to trust your prudence with my seeming indiscretion; but were you to know the object of my choice—
Ay, to be sure, I shall be bamboozled as you have been; but where is the old fox, that has made a chicken of you? I shall let him know a piece of my mind.
Mr. Oldworth, sir, is all probity; he knew nothing of my having an uncle, or he would never have given his consent, without your’s.
Ay, to be sure, they have set a simpleton-trap, and you have popp’d your head into it; but I have but a short word to say to you—give up the lady, or give up me.
Let me intreat you to see her first.
I have seen a young lady; and I am so put upon my mettle by your ingratitude, that if she would but talk to me half an hour longer, I’d take her without a petticoat to Gloomstock-Hall, and have my Champetre-wedding too.
You are at liberty, sir
To play the fool, as you have done— her own friend and companion told me she was undeserving!
That Maria was undeserving!where is she who told you so? who is she?
Your aunt, sir, that may be, if I could get to talk to her again—so don’t be in your airs—
Should she dare to hint, or utter the least injurious syllable of my Maria, I would forget her sex, and treat her—
And if you should dare to hint, or mutter the least injurious syllable of my passion, I should forget our relationship, and treat you— zounds! I don’t know how I should treat you.
But, dear sir, who is the slanderer? she has deceived you.
I don’t know her name, and you must, not call her names.
Where did you see her?
This moment, sir.
As I came in, sir?
Yes, sir, yes—she could not bear the sight of you, and went away.
Dear sir, that was Maria herself.
Maria, the Maid of the Oaks, my bride that is to be.
That’s a fib, Harry, it can’t be, and shan’t be.
It can be no other, and she is the only person upon earth that could speak without rapture of herself.
And she is the person you are going to marry? .
I cannot deny it.
If you did, you ought to be hanged— follow me, sir, follow me, sir—shew me to her this moment—don’t look with that foolish face, but lead the way, and bring me to her, I say.
What do you mean, sir?
What’s that to you, sir—shew me the girl, I say; she has bamboozled you and me too, and I will be reveng’d.
But, dear sir—
Don’t dear me; I won’t rest a moment ’till I have seen her; either follow me or lead the way, for I must, I will see her directly, and then you shall know, and she too, that I am—zounds! I’ll shew you what I am—and so come along, you puppy you.
SCENE III. A Flower Garden.
[Enter Lady Bab, dressed as a Shepherdess, passing over the Stage, Oldworth following.]
Hist, hist, Lady Bab. Here comes your prize; for the sake of mirth, and the revenge of your sex, don’t miss the opportunity.
Not for the world; you see I am dress'd for the purpose. I have been out of my wits this half hour, for fear the scene should be lost, by interruption of the company—what, is that he?
Yes, he is looking out for us.
Step behind that stump of shrubs, and you shall see what an excellent actress I should have made, if fortune had not luckily brought me into the world an earl’s daughter.
Don’t be too hasty, for it is a pity Sir Harry should not be a witness; he owes him vengeauce too.
Lady Bab. Away, away.
[Exit Oldworth.—Lady Bab retires to a corner of the stage.]
Where the devil is Sir Harry? this is certainly the place where I was appointed to find him; but I suppose I shall spring him and his bride from under a rose-bush by and by, like two pheasants in pairing-time—[Observing Lady Bab.] Hah! I wish that was a piece of game, she should not want a mate: is that a dress now for the day, or is she one of the natives of this extraordinary region? —Oh! I see now, it is all pure Arcadian; her eyes have been used to nothing but daisy hunting; they are as awkward to her, when she looks at a man, as her elbows would be in a French Berline.
Lady Bab. [Aside.]
My spark does not seem to want observation, he is only deficient in expression; but I will help him to that presently. Now to my character.
What a neck she has! how beautifully nature works, when she is not spoil’d by a damn’d town stay-maker; what a pity she is so awkward! I hope she is not foolish.
[During this observation, he keeps his eye fixed upon her neck; Lady Bab looks first at him, then at herself; unpins her nosegay, and with an air of the most perfect naivete, presents it to him.]
You seem to wish for my nosegay, sir, it is much at your service.
[Offers the flowers, and curtseys awkwardly.]
Oh, the charming innocent!—my wishes extend a little further. A thousand thanks, my fair one; I accept it as a faint image of your own sweets. To whom am I so much obliged?
To the garden-man, to be sure; he has made flowers to grow all over the garden, and they smell so sweet; pray smell ’em, they are charming sweet I assure vou, and have such fine colours—law! you are a fine nosegay yourself, I think.
[Simpers and looks at him.]
Exquisite simplicity! [Half aside.] sweet contrast to fashionable affectation—Ah, I knew at first glance you were a compound of innocence and sensibility.
Lack-a-dazy heart! how could you hit upon my temper so exactly?
By a certain instinct 1 have, for I have seen few, or none of the sort before; but, my dear girl, what is your name and situation?
Ay, what are you?
I am a bridemaid.
But, my sweet image of simplicity, when yon are not a bridemaid, what is your way of life? how do you pass your time?
I rise with the lark, keep my hands always employ’d, dance upon a holiday, and eat brown bread with content.
[With an innocent curtsey.]
O, the delicious description!—beachen shades, bleating flocks, and pipes, and pastorals. [Aside] What an acquisition to my fame, as well as pleasure, to carry off this quintessence of Champetre! —'tis but an annuity job—I’ll do it.
[During this soliloquy she examines him round and round.]
And pray, what may you be? for I never saw any thing so out of the way in all my life!—he, he, he!
Me, my dear—I am a gentleman.
What a fine gentleman! bless me, what a thing it is!—this is a fine gentleman!—ha, ha, ha! I never saw any thing so comical in all my life—ha, ha, ha!—and this is a fine gentleman, of which I have heard so much!
What is the matter, my dear? is there any thing ridiculous about me, that makes you laugh? What have you heard of fine gentlemen, my sweet innocence?
That they are as gaudy as peacocks, as mischievous as jays, as chattering as magpies, as wild as hawks—
And as loving as sparrows—my beauteous Delia; do not leave out the best property of the feather’d creation.
No, no, I did not mean to leave out that; I know you are very loving—of yourselves; ha, ha, ha! You are a sort of birds that flock but never pair.
Why you are satirical, my fairest; and have you heard anything else of fine gentlemen?
Yes, a great deal more—That they take wives for fortunes, and mistresses for shew; squander their money among tailors, barbers, cooks, and fiddlers; pawn their honour to sharpers, and their estates to Jews; and at last run to foreign countries to repair a pale face, a flimsy carcass, and an empty pocket—that’s a fine gentleman for you!
Hey-day! where has my Arcadian picked up this jumble?
I am afraid I have gone too far. [Aside.]
Dupeley. [Still surprised.]
Pray, my dear, what is really your name?
Lady Bab. [Resuming her simplicity.]
My name is Philly.
Philly Nettletop, of the vale.
Dupeley. [Still suspicions.]
And pray, my sweet Philly, where did you Irani this character of a fine gentleman?
O, I learnt it with my catechism— Mr. Oldworth has it taught to all the young maidens here about.
O, the glutton!—have I found at last the clue —I’ll be hang’d if old sly-boots has not a rural seraglio, and this is the favourite sultana.
Lady Bab, [Aside.]
I fancy I have put him upon a new scent—why, a real fool now would not have afforded half this diversion.
So it is from Mr. Oldworth, is it, my charming innocence, that you have learnt to be so afraid of fine gentlemen?
No, not at all afraid; 1 believe you are perfectly harmless if one treats you right, as I do our young mastiff at home.
And how is that, pray?
Why, while one keeps at a distance, he frisks, and he flies, and he barks, and tears and grumbles, and makes a sad rout about it—Lord, you’d think he would devour one at a mouthful! But if one does but walk boldly up and look him in the face, and ask him what he wants, he drops his ears and runs away directly.
Well said, rural simplicity again!—Oh, damn it, I need not be so squeamish here! Well, but my dear heavenly creature, don’t commit such a sin, as to waste your youth, and your charms upon a set of rustics here; fly with me to the true region of pleasure—my chaise and four shall be ready at the back gate of the park, and we will take the opportunity, when all the servants are drunk, as they certainly will be, and the company is gone tired to bed.
Lady Bab. [Fondly.]
And would you really love me dearly now, Saturdays, mid Sundays, and all? ‘
Oh, this will do without an annuity I see!
You’ll forget all this prittle-prattie gibberish to me now, as soon as you see the fine strange ladies, by and by—there's Lady Bab Lardoon, I think they call her, from London.
Lady Bab Lardoon, indeed!—Oh, you havee named a special object for a passion—I should as soon be in love with the figure of the Great Mogul at the back of a pack of cards—if she has anything to do with hearts, it must be when they are trumps, and she pulls them out of her pocket—No, sweet Philly; thank heaven that gave me insight into the sex, and reserved me for a woman in her native charms—here alone she is to be found, and paradise is on her lips! [Struggling to kiss her.'] Thus let me thank you for my nosegay.
[During the struggle enter Hurry.]
Oh, Lady Bab, I come to call your ladyship. [Pauses.] Lord, I thought they never kiss’d at a wedding till after the ceremony; but they cannot begin too soon—I ask pardon for interruption.
[Going.—Dupeley stares, Lady Bab laughs]
Stay, Hurry; who was you looking for?
Why, I came with a message for Lady Bab Larder, and would have carried her answer, but you stopp’d her month.
Who! what! who!—This is Philly Nettletop!
Philly Fiddlestick—’Tis Lady Bab Larder, I tell you; do you think I don’t know her, because she has got a new dress? But you are surpris’d and busy, and I am in haste, so your servant.
Surpris’d indeed! Lady Bab Lardoon!
No, no, Philly Nettletop! [Curtseys.]
Dupeley. Here’s a damn’d scrape!
In every capacity, sir—a rural innocent, Mr. Oldworth's mistress, or the great Mogul, equally grateful for your favourable opinion.
[Slowly, and with a low curtsey.]
[Enter Oldworth and Sir Harry, laughing.]
Mr. Oldworth, give me leave to present to you a gentleman remarkable for second sight: he knows all women by instinct.
From a princess to a figurante, from a vintage to a May-pole—I am rejoiced I came in time for the catastrophe.
Mr. Oldworth, there is your travell’d man for you! and I think I have given a pretty good account of him.
[Pointing at Dupeley, who is disconcerted.]
I hope the ladies are not the only characters in which Mr. Dupeley has been mistaken!
Upon my word, Mr. Dupeley, considering you have not been two hours in the house you have succeeded admirably, to recommend yourself to your company! why you look as if you had gone your va toute upon a false card.
The devil’s in her, I believe; she overbears me so, that I have not a word to say for myself. [Aside.]
Well, though I laugh now, I am sure I have most reason to be disconcerted, for that blundering fellow spoil’d my fortune.
Why, I should have had an annuity.
Come, come, my good folks, you have both acquitted yourselves admirably: Mr. Dupeley must forgive the innocent deceit; and you, Lady Bab, like a generous conqueror, should bear the triumph moderately.
I own myself her captive, bound in her chains, and thus I lay all my former laurels at her feet. [Kneels.]
The laurels have been mostly poetical—gathered in imagination only; he, he, he!
Quarter, quarter, my dear invincible!
Now this scene is finished, let me open another to you—Maria’s charms have been as much signalized as her ladyship’s wit—my old uncle Groveby
The same, and full primed with the rhetoric of sixty-five, against the marriage of inclination; but such a conversion! such a revolution!
Your uncle here! I must chide you, Sir Harry, for concealing from me that you had a relation so well entitled to be consulted—which way is he?
I left him all in a transport with my bride; he kisses her, and squeezes her hand— ’gad. I shan’t get her away from him, without your help.
Poor Sir Ilarry!
If she has sweetened that old crab, that his sourness will not set our teeth an edge, she has worked miracles indeed.
There you totally mistake his character, Lady Bab:—no—he has the heart of an Oldworth—[Addressing himself to Mr. Oldworth.] though, I confess, with very different manners; his expression often puts me in mind of the harsh preparation of instruments; your ear is jarred before it is delighted—but attend to his sentiments, and as Hamlet says,
He will discourse most excellent music.
He never said or did an ill-natured thing in his life.
I wish I had him in town, to contrast with some smooth successful characters of my acquaintance, who will smile upon you, even though you affront them, and always flatter your judgment, when they mean to pick your pocket— but here he is, I declare, and looks as if he was quite in tune.
[Enter Groveby with Maria under his arm.]
Sir Harry. [Running to her.]
I was coming to seek you, my Maria.
Your Maria! sir, my Maria—she will own me, if you won’t—there, sir, let her teach you your duty.
[Quitting Maria, who retires with Sir Harry to the bottom of the stage.]
Sir, I have many pardons to ask of you; but Sir Harry will be my witness, that my fault was in my ignorance; had I known your name and situation, I should have paid you my respects months ago.
Sir I dont wonder the graceless rogue forgot me, but I’ll be even with him; he shant have a guinea from me.
Good sir, you are not serious that he has offended you
I am serious, that I have found another inheritor for Glooinstock-Hall—I have got a niece, worth twenty such nephews. [Maria and Sir Harry approaching.] Ay, you may look, sir, but she shall have every acre of it.
[Taking Maria by the hand.]
I ever found your kindness paternal, and you now give me the best proof of it.
No, sir, had I been your father, and you had surprised me with a match like this, I should have taken another method.
What would that have been, my dear uncle?
I would have loaded you with all the rents, and you should have been forced to keep me, at your own expence, for the rest of my life, sirrah.
There is a sort of humour about this old fellow that is not unpleasant; I must have a little laugh with him before the day is over.
Well, Mr. Oldworth, I intend there shall be no more ceremony between us; I shall not quit your Champetre, I assure yon—but what shall I do, to equip myself? one shall look like a fool, it seems, dressed in one’s own clothes.
Sir, your good humour and compliance will be a new compliment to the day—you shall be supplied—I took care to be provided with plenty of habits for chance comers.
Why, then, this lady, who looks like a merry one, shall choose for me, if she will do me that favour.
With great pleasure, sir; and before I have done with you, I’ll make you look --
Ay, what shall I look, fair lady?
Why, like old Burleigh revived from the Champetre Leicester gave to Queen Elizabeth at Kennelworth-castle.
And no bad compliment, neither— ’Gad, fair lady, if you could revive more of’em, it would do the country no harm, I believe.
Well, my good friends—now for a slight refreshment, and then for the happy rights. Who must lead the bride? .
That will I—she is my niece, and only your ward. Give me your hand, Lady Paramount, of Gloomstock-Hall. [Leads Maria off.]
And may I be thought worthy to offer mine to the lovely Phillida?
She accepts of your sagacity as Cavalier Servante and Cecisbo, [Going off.] and as we go along, we will talk of the annuity.
Dupeley. [Half aside.]
’Gad, you deserve one— and, if I durst, I’d make it a jointure—and now, if you please, you may overhear that, my Lady Quickears.
SCENE I. A Grove.
[Enter Hurry, in great spirits.]
Here, lass, take this basket, and runaway to the church, or you’ll be thrown out, and then you won’t be married this year—tell all the girls to be sure they strew in time to the music; and bid Dolly Dump smile, and not look as if she was at a funeral. [Exit Girl.] What a day of joy is this! I could leap out of my skin, and into it again— here, you Robin—
What say you, Master Hurry?
What signifies what I say, when you are running and fluttering about, that you can neither hear, see, nor understand?
Law, master, I try to do every thing after you—where shall I go next?
Hurry. Run away to the ringers, and set the bells a-going directly—and, do you hear? [Robin returns.] Huzza all of you, till nobody cau hear the bells. [Exit Robin.]
What have I to do now?—ho, I must go down to the tents.
No, I’ll go first to the Shrubbery, and tell the musicianers—[Going, and returns.} That I have done already—I must take care that none of the servants—that will do by-and-by. I must bid the maids—’gad I must not go near them neither in these rampant spirits—I am so full of everything, that I can think of nothing but to be rnad with joy!
[Exit singing and capering.
SCENE II. Arcades of Flowers.Procession from the Marriage, Hells ringing, Music playing, Huzzas at a distance.
Breezes that attend the spring,
Bear the sound on rosy wing,
Waft the swelling notes away,
’Tis Maria’s wedding day.
CHORUS OF FEMALE VOICES.
Spread the tidings o’er the plain,
Call around each maid and swain,
Dress’d in garlands fresh and gay,
Tis Maria’s bridal day.
Hence suspicion, envy, strife,
Every ill that poisons life,
Skulking vice, and specious art,
All that spoils, or cheats the heart.
CHORUS OF MALE VOICES.
Here the chastened Loves invite
Harmless dalliance, pure delight,
Choral sonnet, festive play,
'Tis Maria’s bridal day.
Plenty come with ceaseless hoard,
Mirth to crown the evening board,
Truth the nuptial bed to guard,
Joy and Peace, its bright reward.
But the chief-invited guest,
Health, in rosy mantle drest,
Come, and with thy lengthen’d stay,
Make her life a bridal day.
Spread the tidings o’er the plain,
Call around each maid and swain,
Dress'd in garlands fresh and gay,
Tis Maria’s bridal day.
Thank you, my honest friends and neighbours; if your hearts o’erflow with joy, how must it be with mine? I beg you to retire a moment.
[They retire.—He walks about greatly agitated.]
Oh, my heart! my heart! what a moment is this? I cannot bear it! the tide’s too strong, and will o’erwhehn me.
What is the cause of this?
You are, Maria—you!
Am I, sir?—heaven forbid!
Heaven has granted it, and I avow' it—I have liv’d to see, in these times, successful merit, and disinterested love—my hopes and wishes are accomplish’d! my long-projected joys are full, and 1 will proclaim ’em! I have a child!
Come to my arms, Maria! thy father’s arms! If my lips fail me, let my heart, in throbs, speak the discovery.
explain this mystcry!
I have a father’s right!—my child’s conduct has made it a proud one.
How, how, sir!—I am lost in rapture and amazement!
So we are all.
Excuse me, brother—madam—all. My story is very short, Maria; the hour of your birth made me a widow er, and you a splendid heiress; I trembled at the dangers of that situation, made more dangerous by the loss of your mother —to be the object of flattery in the very cradle, and made a prey to interest, is the common lot attending it. These reflections, call them whims, call them singularities, what you please, induced me to conceal your birth; being abroad at the time, the plan was easily executed.
How blind have I been! Benevolent as you are to all, 1 might still have percehcd and interpreted the distinction of your unremitting tenderness—how could I mistake the parent's partiality, the parent’s fondness?
Your happiness has been the motive of my actions, be it my excuse. The design has answered wonderfully—for though Maria’s virtues would have wanted the humble station of theMaid of the Oaks, to give her due proof of a disinterested lover.
O, sir! expect not words—where shall I find even sentiments of tenderness, gratitude, and duty, that were not your’s before.
The life of my ward is a pledge for that of the daughter and the wife.—To you, Sir Harry, I shall make no apology for my secresy; it has served to give scope and exercise to your generosity, a sensation more gratifying to minds like your’s, than any acquisition of fortune—that pleasure past, accept now, with Maria’s hand, the inheritance of Oldworth’s Oaks.
Sir, your conduct does not surprise, but it overwhelms me—long may you remain the possessor of Oldworth’s Oaks! When you cease to be so, he will ill deserve to succeed you, who does not make your example the chief object of his imitation.
New joy to the disinterested lover, and to the destined Queen of the Oaks!
To the amiable pair, and the rewarder of their merits—Mr. Oldworth, you promised us a singular regale, but you have outdone yourself.
Regale! egad I don’t know what to call it—he has almost turned the Champetre into a tragedy, I think—I never felt my eyes twinkle so oddly before; have at your double bottles and long corks!
My worthy friend—brother, let me call you! I have robbed you of a pleasure; I know you also had your eye upon my Maid of the Oaks, for an exercise of your generosity.
It is very true, I should have been as well pleased as her lover to receive her only with an under-petticoat, though not quite for the same reason—but you may perceive how cursedly vexed I am at the disappointment. [Aside.] Ay, I must alter the disposition of my acres once more— I will have no nabobs nor nabobesses in my family.
The females would be the better of the two, for all that: they would not be guilty of so much rapacity to acquire a fortune, and they would spend it to better purposes.
By as much as a province is better disposed of in a jewel at the breast of a Cleopatra, than when it is melted down in the fat guts of mayors and burgesses of country corporations.
I agree in your preference between the two; but an honest country gentleman, and a plain English wife, is more respectable and useful than both—so, do you hear, madam, take care to provide me a second son, fit for that sort of family —let him be an honest fellow, and a jolly fellow, and in every respect a proper representative for Gloomstock-Hall.
your honour and worship, here are all the quality persons in
fanciful dresses— you never saw such a sight, they are for all
the world like the Turks and Prussians—do but look at ’em, how
they come prancing along through the grove! I never saw any
thing so fine, and so proud, and so fantastical—Lord, I wonder
any body will ever wear a coat and waistcoat again— This is
My friend Hurry is in the right— Harry, come and help to dress me, for ’till I have got my fool’s coat on, I can’t make one among ’em.
I’ll wait upon you—My sweet Maria, I must leave you for a few minutes—for an age. [Exit.]
My heart is now disburden'd, and free to entertain my friends—Come, Maria, let us meet ’em, and shew in our faces the joy of our hearts—Will your Ladyship and Mr. Dupeley assist us?
[Exeunt Oldworth and Maria.]
O, most willingly, Mr. Olduorth.
[As she is going out she sees Actcaea coming.
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us!”
Hey-day! what is coming, Lady Bab?
O, that most hideous of all goblins, a country cousin—and I can neither avoid her, nor overlook her, as I should do in town.
Where is the barbarian?
Mistake her if you can—the lovely Diana there that is talking to Maria, with a tin crescent upon her head, big enough for a Turkish mosque.
Dupeley. [Looking through his glass.']
Oh, I have her— By her step, the goddess is reveal’d.
What can I do with her? she’ll suffocate me if you don’t take her off my hands.
[Enter Actaea, followed by six Hunters.
O cousin! Lady Bab! here am I at the head of my hunters—I left the company to come to you—1 want to practise my song before I sing it in public, you shall hear me, ha! ha! ha!
O you delicate creature! pray let us hear it—while she is singing we’ll steal off and join the company. [Aside to Dupeley] Come, my dear, pray begin.
[Actaea sings her hunting song, during which. Lady Bab and Dupeley steal off, laughing.]
Come, rouse from your trances,
The sly morn advances,
To catch sluggish mortals in bed!
Let the horn’s jocund note
In the wind sweetly float,
While the fox from the brake lifts his head!
The fox from the brake lifts his head!
Each away to his steed,
Your goddess shall lead,
Come follow, my worshippers, follow;
For the chase all prepare,
See the hounds snuff the air,
Hark, hark, to the huntsman’s sweet holloa!
Hark Jowler, hark Rover,
See reynard breaks cover,
The hunters fly o'er the ground;
Now they skim o’er the plain,
Now they dart down the lane,
Aud the hills, woods, and vallies resound;
The hills, woods, and vallies resound;
Then away with full speed,
Your goddess shall lead,
Come follow, my worshippers, follow;
O’er hedge, ditch, and gate,
If you stop, you’re too late,
Hark, hark, to the huntsman’s sweet holloa!
[After the Song, the Scene opens, and discovers the Gardens illuminated.—Actcea and her followers join the Company.—Another set of Company dance Quadrilles.]
This is as it should be—a dance, or a song, or a shout of joy, meets me at every turn; but come, ladies, I shall trust you no more in the gardens; at least not my fair dancers; though the evening is fine, it may be deceitful; we have prepared a place under cover for the rest of the entertainment.
Gentlemen, nobility, ladies and gentry, you are all wanted in the Temple of Venice, to —but I’ll not say what, that you may be more surpris’d; and if you are surpris’d here, you’ll be more surpris’d there, and we shan’t have done with you there neither—pray make haste, or you’ll get no place.
[They all crowd off.]
Bless my heart, how the whole place goes round with me!—my head seems quite illuminationed as well as that there. [Pointing to the building.] See what it is to have more business than one’s brains can bear; I am as giddy as a goose; yet I have not touched a drop of liquor to day—but two glasses of punch, a pint of hot negus to warm me, a bottle of cyder to cool me again, and a dram of cherry-bounce to keep all quiet— I should like to lie down a little—but then what would become of the Sham-Peter?—no, as I am entrusted with a high office, I scorn to flinch; I will keep my eyes open, and my head clear—ay, and my hands too—and I wish all my countrymen had done the same at the general election.
SCENE I. The Saloon.
[After the Minuet, enter a Shepherdess, drawing forward a Shepherd by the arm.]
Simon, why so lost in wonder,
At these folk of high degree?
If they’re finer, we are fonder;
Love is wealth to you and me.
Phcebe stop, and learn more duty:
We’re too lowly here to please:
Oh, how splendour brightens beauty!
Who’d not wish to be like these?
Pr’ythee, Simon, cease this gazing,
They’re deceitful, as they’re fair;
He. But their looks are all so pleasing,
Phoebe, how can I forbear?
Simon stop, and learn more duty;
He. Honest freedom can’t displease;
He. Riches give! new charms to beauty.
She. Riches give no charms to beauty.
He. Who’d not wish to be like these?
She. Who wou’d wish to be like these?
“ O Simon, simple Simon, know,
“ The finest garments cover woe;
“ The outside glitter never tells
“ The grief of heart that inward dwells.
“ We rustic folk, so true and plain,
“ Can never charm the light and vain;
“ Whate’er without our fortune wears,
“ Within no pang our bosom tears.
“ O Simon, simple Simon, know,
“ That lack of wealth is lack of woe;
“ Then homewards go, and let us prove
“ The greatest bliss, Content with Love.”
[The Character of Folly enters from the Top of the Stage to a lively Symphony.]
Make room my good neighbours, of every degree,
My name it is Folly, who does not know me?
Of high ones, and low ones, of great, and of small,
I’ve been the companion, and friend of you all:
Wherever I come I drive away care,
And if there’s a crowd, I’m sure to be there.
I’m here, and there,
And every where;
All know me—all know me—
Where’er I come,
Running o’er with mirth and glee.
From country elections I gallop’d post haste,
For there I am always the most busy guest;
And whether it be in the country or town,
I’m hugg’d very close, by the cit and the clown:
The courtier, the patriot, the turn-coat and all,
If I do not sweeten, breed nothing but gall.
I’m here, and there, &c. &c.
The statesman without me unhappy wou’d be;
No lady so chaste but gallants it with me;
The gravest of faces, who physic the land,
For all their grimaces, shake me by the hand;
At the play-house, a friend to the author, I sit,
And clap in the gallery, boxes, and pit.
I’m here, and there, &c. &c.
[A slow Symphony—all the. Company retire to the wings on each side; the curtains of the Saloon are drawn up, and discovers the Company at supper.]
Folly, away! nor taint this nuptial feast!
I come, a friendly, self-invited guest;
The Druid of these Oaks, long doom’d to dwell
Invisible, ’till beauty broke the spell;
Beauty, which here erects her throne,
And every spell dissolves, except her own.
“ Beauty breaks the magic spell,
“ Her power can every pow’r subdue;
“ Can charm the Druid from his cell,
“ To revel and rejoice with you!
“ What cannot beauty, spotless beauty do?”
Stand all apart, while mortals learn
The recompence their virtues earn;
When thus the generous court their power,
Celestial guardians find the dower,
And these are mansions they prepare
For the disint’rested and fair.
[He waves his wand.]
[The Scene breaks away, and discovers the Palace of Celestial Love.]
Maria! take this oaken crown,
The region round is all your own:
See ev’ry Driad of the groves,
With bending head, salute your loves;
And Naiads, deck’d in constant green,
With homage due, avow their queen;
Here all of autumn, all of spring,
The flower and fruit to \on they bring;
And, while they heap the lavish store,
A father’s blessing makes it more.
It does, indeed! my heart o’erflows with happiness.
Long, long may it do so! inv dear, my matchless daughter!—Come then, my friends and children: I see our joys are too sincere and spirited to be any longer celebrated in magic and allegory.
I ask your pardon, friend Oldworth; this reverend old gentleman Druid has charmed me, and I hope we shall have more of his company—A contempt for old times may be fashionable —but I am pleas’d with every thing that brings them to my remembrance—I love an old oak at my heart, and can sit under its shade ’till I dream of Cressy and Agincourt; it is the emblem of British fortitude, and, like the heroic spirits of the island, while it o’ertops, it protects the undergrowth—And now, old son of Misletoe, set that sentiment to music.
And he shall, brother.
[Druid gives signs to the musicians.]
Grace and strength of Britain’s isle,
May’st thou long thy glories keep,
Make her hills with verdure smile,
Bear her triumphs o’er the deep.
Grace and strength, &c.
Well, Lady Bab, are your spirits quite exhausted, or have the events of the day made you pensive? I begin to believe there are more
rational systems of happiness than ours—shou’d my fair instructress become a convert, my ambition wou’d be still to follow her.
I am no convert—my mind has ever been on the side of reason, though the torrent in which I have lived has not allowed me time to practise, or even to contemplate it as I ought— but to follow fashion, where we feel shame, is surely the strongest of all hypocrisy, and from this moment I renounce it.
And you never made a better renounce in your life.
Lady Groveby, accept the friendship of one sincerely desirous to imitate your virtues—Mr. Old worth, you do not know me yet; you forbad your company masks upon their faces, I have worn one upon my character to you, and to the world.
Lady Bab wanted but the resolution to appear in her genuine charms, to make her a model to her rank, and to the age.
To those charms I owe my conversion —and my heart, hitherto a prodigal, justly fixes with her, from whom it received the first impression of love and reason—There wants but the baud of Lady Bab, to make Oldworth’s Oaks distinguished by another union, founded on merit in her sex, and discernment in mine.
Sir, your proposal does me honour; but it is time enough to talk of hearts and hands— Let us follow the example before us in everything —after the life we have led, six months probation may be very proper for us both.
Amiable Lady Bab!—Confer the gift when you please; but my Fete Champetre shall be remember’d as the date of the promise— and now for such a song and dance as will best conclude so happy a day.
[Short flourish of instruments.]
Ye fine fangled folks, who from cities and courts,
By your presence enliven the fields,
Accept for your welcome the innocent sports,
And the fruits that our industry yields.
Chorus.—Ye fine fangled folks, &c.
No temple we raise to the idol of wealth,
No altar to interest smokes,
To the blessings of love, kind seasons and health,
Is devoted the Feast of the Oaks.
Chorus.—No temple we raise, &c.
From the thicket and plain, each favourite haunt,
The villagers hasten away,
Your encouraging smile is the bounty they want,
To compensate the toils of the day.
Chorus.—From the thicket, &c.
The milk-maid abandons her pail and her cow,
In the furrow the ploughman unyokes,
From the valley and meadow all press to the brow,
To assist at the Feast of the Oaks.
Chorus.—The milk-maid, &c.
The precept we teach is contentment and truth,
That our girls may not learn to beguile;
By reason to govern the pleasures of youth,
And decorate age with a smile.
Chorus.—The precept we teach, &c.
No serpent approaches with venomous tooth,
No raven with ominous croaks,
Nor rancorous critic, more fatal than both,
Shall poison the Feast of the Oaks.
Chorus.—No serpent approaches, &c.
Bring roses and myrtles, new circlets to weave,
Ply the flutes in new measures to move,
And lengthen the song to the star of the eve,
The favouring planet of love.
Chorus.—Bring roses and myrtles, &c.
Oh, Venus! propitious attend to the lav,
Each shepherd the blessing invokes;
May he who is true, like the youth of to-day,
Find a prize like the Maid of the Oaks.
Chorus.—Oh, Venus! propitious, &c.
Druid. [Stopping the Musicians.]
Yet hold—though Druid now no more,
He’s wrong who thinks my spells are o’er,
Thus midst you all I throw them round,
Oh, may they fall on genial ground!
May ev’ry breast their influence prove!
The magic lies in truth of Love.
Tis that irradiates ev’ry scene,
Restores from clouds the blue serene,
And makes, without a regal dome,
A palace of each humble home.
[The whole finishes with—A Grand Dance.]
EPILOGUE. WRITTEN BY MR. GARRICK. SPOKEN BY MRS. ABINGTON.
In Parliament, whene’er a question conies,
Which makes the Chief look grave, and bite his thumbs,
A knowing-one is sent, sly as a mouse,
To peep into the humour of the House:
I am that mouse; peeping at friends and foes,
To find which earn it—the Ayes or Noes:
With more than pow’r of Parliament you sit,
Despotic representatives of wit!
For in a moment, and without much pother,
You can dissolve this piece, and call another!
As ’tis no treason, let us frankly see
In what they differ, and in what agree,
The said supreme assembly of the nation,
With this our great Dramatic Convocation!
Business in both oft meets with interruption:
In both, we trust, no brib'ry or corruption;
Both proud of freedom, have a turn to riot,
And the best Speaker cannot keep you quiet;
Nay there, as hire, he knows not how to steer him—
When order, order's drown’d in hear him, hear him!
We base, unlike to them, one constant rule,
We open doors, and choose our Gall'ries full:
For a full house both send abroad their summons;
With us together sit the Lords and Commons.
You Ladies here have votes—debate, dispute,
There if you go (O fye for shame!) you’re mute:
Never was heard of such a persecution,
’Tis the great blemish of the constitution,
No human laws should nature's rights abridge,
Freedom of speech! our dearest privilege:
Ours is the wiser sex, though deem’d the weaker:
I’ll put the question—if you choose me Speaker:
Suppose me now be-wigg’d, and seated here,
I call to Order!—you, the Chair! the Chair!
Is it your pleasure that this Bill should pass—
Which grants the Poet, upon Mount Parnass',
A certain spot, where never grew or corn or grass!
You that would pass this play, say Aye, and save it;
You that say No would damn it—the Ayes have it.