« 上一頁繼續 »
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D.
BY inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety.
I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this performance. The undertaking a Comedy, not merely sentimental, was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its variOus stages, always thought it so. However I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.
I am, dear Sir,
Your most sincerc friend
and admirer, OLIVER GOLDSMIT H.
This play is a paradox: its characters are all aš 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.
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER;
ACT I. SCENE 1.
A Chamber in an old fashioned House. Enter Mrs. HARD.
CASTLE, and Mr. HARDCASTLE.
Mrs. Hardcastle. I vow, 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 neighbour, Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month's polishing every winter.
Hard. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation 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-ccach. Its fopperies come down, not only as inside passengers, but in the
Mrs. Hard. Ay, your times were 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 visiters are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripple. gate, 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 every thing that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and, I believe, Dorothy, [Taking her hand] you'll 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, and make money of that.
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 hundred a year.
Hard. Learning, quotha! a mere composition of tricks and mischief. Mrs. Hard. Humour, my dear: nothing but hu
Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humour.
Hard. I'd sooner allow him an horse-pond. If burning the footmen's shoes, frighting the maids, worrying the kittens, be humour, he has it. It was but yesterday he faste ned my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popt 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 a 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. Any body that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symp
Mrs. Hard. He coughs sometimes.