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called on you I was a close prisoner in the Marshalsea, for a debt benevolently contracted to serve a friend ! I was afterwards twice tapped for a dropsy, which declined into a very profitable consumption! I was then rednced to-0 no-then, I became a widow with six helpless children,-after having had eleven husbands pressed, and being left every time cight months gone with child, and without money to get me inlo an hospital!
Sneer. And you bore all with patience, I make no doubt?
Puff. Why, yes,-though I made some occasional attempts at felo de se; but as I did not find those rash actions answer, I left of killing myself very soon.Well, sir ,-at last, what with bankruptcies, fires, gouls, dropsies, imprisonments, and other valuable calamities, having got together a pretty handsome sum, I determined to quit a business which had always gone rather against my concience, and in a more liberal way still to indulge my talents for fiction and embellishments, through my favourite channels of diurnal communication-and so, sir, you have my history.
Sneer. Most obligingly communicative, indeed. But surely, Mr. Puff, there is no great mystery in your present profession.
Puff. Mystery! Sir, I will take upon me to say the matter was never scientifically treated, nor reduced to rule, before.
Sneer. Reduced to rule ?
Puff. O lud, sir! you are very ignorant, I am afraid. -Yes, sir,-Pusling is of various sort :- the principal are—the Puff direct-The Puff preliminary, the Puff collateral-lhe Puff collusive-and the Puff oblique, or Puff by implication. These all asume, as circumstances require, the various forms of-Letter to the Editor- Occasional Anecdote-Impartial CritiqueObservation from Correspondent-or Advertisements from the Party
Sneer. The Puffdirect, I can conceive-
A new Comedy or Farce is to be produced at one of
Sneer. That's pretty well, indeed, sir.
Sneer. And do you think there are any who are influenced by this !
Puff. o lud! yes, sir, the number of those who understand the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed!
Dan. Ha! ha! ha!-'gad I know it is so.
Puff. As to the Puff oblique, or Puff by implication, it is too extensive, and branches into so many varieties, that it is impossible to be illustrated by an instance; -it is the last principal class of the art of Puffingan art which I hope you will now agree with me,
is of the highest dignity.
Sneer. Sir, I am completely a convert both to the importance and ingenuity of your profession : and now, sir, there is but one thing which can possibly increase my respect for you, and that is, your permitting me
to be present this morning at the rehearsal of your new trage
Puff Hush, for heaven's sake. --My tragedy !Egad, Dangle, I take this very ill; you know how apprehensivel am of being known to be the author. Dan. 'Efaith, I would not have told; but it's in the
your name at length in the Morning Chronicle.
Puff. Ah! those damn'd editors never can keep a secret! Well, Mr. Sneer—no doubt you will do me great honour-I shall be infinitely happy-highly flattered.
Dan. I believe it must be near the time-shall we go together?
Puff. No; it will not be yet this hour, for they are always late at that theatre: besides, I must meet you there, for I have somme little matters to send to the papers, and a few paragraps to scribble before I go. [Looking at memorandums.) Here is 'a Conscientious Baker, on the Subject of the Army Bread,' and 'a Detester of visible Brick-work, in favour of the newinvented Stucco;' both in the style of Junius, and promised for to morrow -Here is an invention for the running our mail coaches by steam, and lighting them by gas.--I have also a very ingenious design for a selfacting air-pump, to be fixed in the confined streets, which is to supersede the necessity of country excorsions for the benefit of the health. Here are likewise many other valuable memorandams, most of which I have no doubt but I shall render equally practicable, and of the greatest importance to the nation. So, egad, I have not a moment to lose.
Enter DANGLE, PUFF, and SNEER. Puff. No, no, sir; what Shakspeare says of actors may be better applied to the purpose of Plays; they ought to be the abstract and brief chronicles of the times. Therefore when history, and particularly the history of our own country, furnishes any thing like a case in point, to the time in which an author writes, if he knows his own interest, he will take advantage of it; so, sir, I call my tragedy, "The Spanish Armada;' and have laid the scene before Tilbury Fort.
Sner. A most happy thought, certainly !
Dangle. Egad, it was; I told you so. But pray, now, I don't undersland how you have contrived to introduce any love into it.
Puff. Love!-Oh nothing so easy : for it is a received point among poets, that where history gives you a good heroic outline for a play, you may fill up with a little love at your own discretion : in doing which, nine times out of ten, you only make up a deficiency in the private history of the times. Now I rather think I have done this with some success.
Sneer. No scandal about Queen Elizabeth, I hope ? Puff. O lud, no, no. I only suppose the Governor of Tilbury Fort's daughter to be in love with the son of the Spanish Admiral.
Sneer. Oh, is that all ?
Dan. Excellent, 'efaith! I see it at once. But won't this appear rather inprobable ?
Puff. To be sure it will—but what the plague! a play is not to shew occurrenses that happen every day, but things just so strange, that though they never did, they might happen.
Sneer. Certainly, nothing is unnatural, that is not physically impossible.
Puff. Very true—and for that matter, Don Ferolo Whiskerandos for that's the lover's name --might have been over here in the train of the Spanish Ambassador; or Tilburina, for that is the lady's name, might have been in love will him, from having heard his character, or seen his picture; or from knowing that he was the last man in the world she ought to be in love with, or for any other good female reason. However, sir, the fact is, that though she is but a knight's daughter, egad! she is in love like any princess !
Dan. Poor young lady! I feel for her already!
Puff. O amazing!-her poor susceptible heart is swayed to and fro, by contending passions, lik
Enter UNDER PROMPTER. Under P. Sir, the scene is set, and every thing is ready to begin, if you please.
Puff. 'Egad, then we'll lose no time.
Under P. Though I believe, sir, you will find it very short, for all the performers have profited by the kind permission you granted them.
Puff. Hey! what!
Under P. You know, sir, you gave them leave to cut out or omit whatever they found heavy or unnecessary to the plot, and I must own they have taken very liberal advantage of your indulgence. [Exit.
Puff. Well, well. They are in general very good judges; and I know I am luxuriant. Gentlemen, be seated. [SNEER and DANGLE sit.] Now, Mr. Wodarch [To Leader of the Band] please to play a few bars of something soft, just to prepare the audience for the curtain's rising.
[The Band strike 'Bobbing Joan,' very forte. Puff. [Having stopped them with much difficulty.] Now, really, gentlemen , this is unkind. I ask you to play a soothing air, and you strike up Bobbing Joan! [To Sreer, &c.] These gentlemen will have their joke at rehearsal, you see. [To Orchestra.] Come, gentlemen, oblige me. [The Band play a few bars of soft music.] Aye, that's right,-for we have the scenes, and dresses; egad, we'll go to it, as if it was the first night's performance; but you need not mind stopping between the acts. Soh! stand clear, gentlemen. Now, you know there will be a cry of down-down!-hats off!-silence !Then up curtain,-and let us see what our painters have done for us. SCENE II.-The Curtain rises, and discovers Tilbury
Fort. Two Centinels asleep on the ground. Dan. Tilbury Fort! very fine, indeed!