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This play is a paradox: its characters are all as natural as were ever drawn, and yet they do nothing probable nor possible from the beginning of the play to the end. No house of a gentleman was ever thus mistaken for an inn; nor did any change of dress ever disguise the acquaintance of the morning into a stranger in the evening. A man must part with two of his senses to be deceived by a young lady, he knows, in the plain dress of a chambermaid, neither features nor tones changing with the habit.
The HARDCASTle family exists in every county in England ; but the first praise must be conferred upon the design of MARLOW : it is so common that no circle of company ever wanted a hero of the sort, bold and insulting among the loose and dissolute of the sex, confounded and abashed in the presence of the elegant and the virtuous; a kind of mean mischiefs that could never soar to tempt an angelic nature.
The dialogue is written with little ambition of wit: humour there is in abundance ; much in the diction, more in the situations, most improbable.
Enter Mr. WoodWARD, dressed in Black, and
holding a Handkerchief to his Eyes.' EXCUSE me, Sirs, I pray“I can't yet speak I'm crying nowmand have been all the week! 'Tis not alone this mourning suit, good masters ; I've that within—for which there are no plasters! Pray wou'd you know the reason why I'm crying ? The Comic muse, long sick, is now a dying! And if she goes, my tears will never stop : For, as a play'r, I can't squeeze out one drop : I am undone, that's all-shall lose my breadI'd rather, but that's nothing lose my head. When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier, Shuter and I shall be chief mourners here. To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed, Who deals in sentimentals, will succeed! Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents, We can as soon speak Greek as sentiments! Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up, We now and then take down a hearty cup. What shall we do?- If Comedy forsake us! They'll turn us out, and no one else will take us. But why can't I be moral ?--Let me try~ My heart thus pressing-fix'd my face and eyem.
With a sententious look, that nothing means,
And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble.
I give it up--morals won't do for me ;
Sir CHARLES MARLOW,
Men. . Mr. Packer. . Mr. Kemble. . Mr. Suett. . Mr. Barrymore. . Mr. Bannister, jun. • Mr. Burton.
Women. Mrs. HARDCASTLE,
• Mrs. Miss HARDCASTLE, . · - Mrs. Henrey. Miss NEVILLE,
. Mrs. Powell. Maid, - -
• Mrs. Shaw. Landlord, Servants, &c. &c.
Women. Mrs. HARDCASTLE,
- - Mrs. Webb. Miss HARDCASTLE, - - - Mrs. Matrocks. Miss NEVILLE, - - - - Mrs. Lewis. Maid,
. - Mrs. Spriggs. Landlord, Servants, &c. &c.