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box for every new piece through the season ? And did'nt my friend, Mr. Smatter, dedicate his last farce to you at my particular request, Mrs. Dangle ?
Mrs.D [Rising.] Yes, but wasn't the farce damn’d, Mr. Dangle? And to be sure it is extremely pleasant, to have one's house made the motley rendezvous of all the lackeys of literature.
Dan. Mrs. Dangle, Mrs. Dangle, you will not easily persuade me that there is no credit or importance in being at the head of a band of critics , who take upon them to decide for the whole town, whose opinion and patronage all writers solicit, and whose recommendation no manager dares refuse !
Mrs. D. Ridiculous !-Both managers and authors of the last merit laugh at your pretensions. -— The public is their Critic-without whose fair approbation they know no play can rest on the stage, and with whose applause they welcome such attacks as yours, and laugh at the malice of them, where they can't at the wit Dan. Very well, Madam ---very well.
Dan. O, shew Mr. Sneer up. [Èxit SERVANT.] Plague on't, now we must appear loving and affectionate, or Sneer will hitch us into a story.
Mrs. D. With all my heart; you can't be more ridiculous than you are. Dun. You are enough to provoke
Enter Mr. SNEER. -Ha! my dear Sneer, I am vastly glad to se: you. My dear, here's Mr. Sneer; Mr. Sneer, my dear; my dear, Mr. Sneer.
Mrs. D. Good morning to you, sir.
Dun. Mrs. Dangle and I have been diverling ourselves with the papers.-Pray, Sneer, won't you go lo Drury-lane Theatre the first night of Puff's tragedy?
Sneer. Yes; but I suppose one shan't be able to get
in, for on the first night of a new piece they always fill the house with orders to support it. But here, Dangle, I have brought you two pieces, one of which you must exert yourself to make the managers accept, i can tell you that, for 'tis written by a person of consequence.
[Gives Dangle two manuscripts. Dan [Readin..] Bursts inlo tears, and exit.' What, is this a tragedy?
Sneer. No, that's a genteel comedy, not a translalion-only taken from the French; it is written in a style which they have lately tried to run down; the true sentimental, and nothing ridiculous in it from the beginning to the end.
Mrs. D. Well, if they had kept to that, I should not have been such an enerny to the stage: there was some edification to be got from those pieces, Mr. Sneer.
Sneer. I am quite of your opinion, Mrs. Dangle.
Dan. [Looking at the other MS ] But what have we here P_This seems a very odd
Sneer. O, that's a comedy, on very new plan; replete with wit and mirth, yet of a most serious moral! You see it is called 'The Reformed Housebreaker;' where, by the mere force of humour, housebreaking is put into so ridiculous a light, that if the piece has its proper run, I have no doubl but that bolts and bars will be entirely useless by the end of the season.
Dan. Egad, this is new, indeed !
Sneer. Yes; it is written by a particular friend of mine, who has discovered that the follies and foibles of society are subjects unworthy notice of the Comic Muse, who should be taught to sloop only at the greater vices and blacker crimes of humanitygibbetting capital offences in five acts, and pillorying petty larcenies in two.-In short, his idea is 10 dramalize the peral laws, and make the stage a court of ease to the Old Bailey.
Dan. That is to unite poetry and justice indeed!
Dan. Beg him to walk up [Exit SERVANT.] Now, Mrs. Dangle, Sir Fretful Plagiary is an author to your own taste
Mrs. D. I confess he is a favourite of mine, because every body else abuses him.
Sneer. Very much to the credit of your charity, madam, if not of your judgment.
Dan. But, egad, he allows no merit to any author but himself, that's the truth on't-though he's my friend.
Sneer. Never.-He is as envious as an old maid, verging on the disperation of six-and-thirty.
Dan. Very true, egad—though he's my friend.
Sneer. Then his affected contempt of all newspaper striclures; though, at the same time, he is the sorest man alive, and shrinks like scorch'd parchment from the fiery ordeal of true criticism.
Dan. There's no denying itthough he's my friend.
Sneer. You have read the tragedy he has just finished, haven't you?
Dan. O yes; he sent it to me yesterday.
Dan. Why, between ourselves, egad, I must own-though he's my friend--that it is one of the most-He's here [Aside.] finished and most admirable perform
[Sir Fretful without.] Mr. Sneer with him, did you say?
Enter SIR FRETFUL. Dun. Ah, my dear friend !--Egad, we were just speaking of your tragedy. --Admirable, Sir Fretful, admirable!
Sneer. You never did any thing beyond it, Sir Frelful-never in your life.
Sir F. You make me extremely happy; for without a compliment, my dear Sneer, there isn't man in the world whose judgment | value as I do yours--and Mr. Dangle's.
Mrs. D. They are only laughing at you , Sir Fretful, for it was but just now that
Dan. Mrs. Dangle! Ah, Sir Fretful, you know Mrs. Dangle.—My friend Sneer was rallying just now-He knows how she admires yon, and
Sir F. O Lord, I am sure Mr. Sreer has more taste and sincerity than to-[ Aside.] A damn'd double-faced fellow!
Dan. Yes, yes,-Sneer will jest—but a better humour'd
Sir F. 0, I know
Dan. He has a ready turn for ridicule-his wit costs him nothing. Sir F. No, egad, -or I should wonder how he came
[Aside. Dun. But, Sir Fretful, have you sent your play to the managers yet?-or can I be of any service to you?
Sir F. No, no, I thank you; I sent it to the manager of Covent Garden theatre this morning.
Sneer. I should have thought now, that it might have been cast (as the aclors call it) better at Drury Lane.
Sir F. O lud ! no-never send a play the while I live-harkee!
[Whispers Sneer. Sneer: "Writes himself! I know he does
Sir F. I say nothing- I take away from no man's merit-am hurt at no man's good fortune-I say nothing—But this I will say-through all my knowledge of life, I have observed—that there is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy!
Sneer. I believe you have reason for what you say, indeed.
Şir F. Besides—I can tell you it is not always so safe to leave a play in the hands of those who write themselves.
Sneer. What, they may steal from them, hey, my dear Plagiary?
Sir F. Steal to be sure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsics do stolen children, desfigure them to make 'em pass for their own.
Sneer. But your present work is a sacrifice to Melpomene, and he you know never
Sir F. That's no security--A dextrous plagiarist may do any thing-Why, sir, for ought I know, he might take out some of the best things in my tragedy, and put them into his own comedy.
Sneer. That might be done. I dare be sworn.
Sir F. And then, if such a person gives you the least hiut or assistance, he is devilish apt to take the merit of the whole
Dan. If it succeeds.
Sir F. Aye,—but with regard to this piece, I think I can hit that gentleman, for I can safely swear he never read it.
Sneer. I'll tell you how you may hurt him more
Sir F. Plague on't now, Sneer, I shall take it ill.I believe you want to take away my character as an author!
Sneer. Then I am sure you ought to be very much oblig'd to me.
Sir F. Hey !-Sir!
Sir F. But come now, there must be something that you think might be mended, hey ?--Mr. Dangle, has nothing struck you ?
Dan. Why, faith, it is but an ungracious thing, for the most part, to
Sir F. With most authors it is just so indeed; they are in general strangely tenacious ! But, for my part, I am never so well pleased as when a judicious critic points out any defect to me; for what is the purpose of shewing a work to a friend , if you don't mean to profit by his opinion ?
Sneer. Very true. Why then, though I seriously admire the piece upon the whole, yet there is one small objeclion; which, if you'll give me leave, I'll mention.