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Enter SERVANT. Ser. Sir Fretful Plagiary, sir.
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 it though 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 itx.
Sir Frelful-never in your life.
Sir F. You make me extremely happy; for without a compliment, my dear Sneer, there isn't a 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. Sveer has more taste and sincerity than to-[Aside. ] A damn’d double-faced fellow!
Dan. Yes, yes,-Sneer will jest—but a belter 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?
Şir 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 actors 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-1 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.
Sir 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 gypsies 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 hint 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 morem Sir F. How ? Sneer. Swear he wrote it. 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 objection; which, if you'll give me leave, I'll mention.
Sir F. Sir, you can't oblige me more.
Sir F. Good God !--you surprise me !wants incident!
Sneer. Yes; I own, I think the incidents are too few.
Sir F. Good God!-Believe me, Mr. Sneer, there is no person for whose judgment I have a more implicit deference. But I protest to you, Mr. Sneer, I am only apprehensive that the incidents are too crowded.—My dear Dangle, how does it strike you ?
Dan. Really, I can't agree with my friend Sneer.I think the plot quite sufficient; and the four first acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest any thing, it is that the interest rather falls off in the fifth. Sir F. Rises, I believe, you mean,
sirDan. No; I don't, upon my word.
Sir F. Yes, yes, you do, upon my soul-it certainly don't fall off, I assure you—No, no, it don't fall off.
Dan. Now, Mrs. Dangle, didn't you say it struck you in the same light?
Mrs. D. No, indeed, I did not-I did not see a fault in any part of the play from the beginning to the end.
Sir F. Upon my soul, the women are the best judges after all!
Mrs. D. Or, if I made any objection, I am sure it was to nothing in the Piece! but that I was afraid it was, on the whole, a little too long.
Sir F. Pray, Madam, do you speak as to daration of time; or do you mean that the story is tediously
Mrs. D. O lud ! no. I speak only with reference to the usual length of acting plays.
Str F. Then I am very happy-very happy indeed —because the play is a short play, a remarkably short play: I should not venlure to differ with a lady on a point of taste: but, on these occasions , the watch, you know, is the critic.
Mrs. D. Then, I suppose,
it must have been Mr. Dangle's drawling manner of reading it to me.
Sir F. 0, if Mr. Dangle read it! that's quite an other affair !-But I assure you, Mrs. Dangle, the first evening you can spare me three hours and a half, I'll undertake to read you the whole from beginning to end, with the Prologue and Epilogue, and allow time for the music between the acts.
Mrs. D. I hope to see it on the stage next.
Dan. Well. Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to get rid as easily of the newspaper criticisms as you do of ours.
Sir F. The newspapers!--Sir, they are the most villanons-licentious - abominable infernal - Not that I ever read them! No! I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
Dan. You are quite right-for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the liberties they take,
Sir F. No!-quite the contrary ;-their abuse is , in fact, the best panegyric-I like it of all things. An author's reputation is only in danger from their support.
Sneer. Why, that's true—and that attack now on you the other day
Sir F. What? where?
Dan. Aye, you mean in a paper of Thursday; it was completely ill-natur'd, to be sure.
Sir F. 0, so much the better-Ha! ha! ha!I wouldn't have it otherwise.
Dan. Certainly, it is only to be laughed at; for
Sir F. You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?
Sneer. Pray, Dangle-Sir Fretful soems a little anxious!
Sir F. O lud, no!-anxious,-not I.-not the least, I--But one may as well hear, you know.
Dun. Sneer, do you recollect?--Make out something.