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Lucy. Had'st thou been hanged five months ago, I had been happy.
Polly. And I too.—If you had been kind to me till death, it would not have vexed me-And that's no very unreasonable request (though from a wife) to a man who hath not above seven or eight days to live.
Lucy. Art thou then married to another? Hast thou two wives, monster?
Macheath. If women's tongues can cease for an answer-hear me.
Lucy. I won't.-Flesh and blood can't bear my usage.
Polly. Shall I not claim my own!-Justice bids me speak.
Macheath. How happy could I be with either
Polly. Sure, my dear, there ought to be some preference shown to a wife! At least she may claim the appearance of it. He must be distracted with his misfortunes, or he could not use me thus.
Lucy. Oh, villain, villain! thou hast deceived me-I could even inform against thee with pleasure. . .
Macheath. Be pacified, my dear Lucy-This is all a fetch of Polly's to make me desperate with you in
case I get off. If I am hanged, she would fain have the credit of being thought my widow-Really, Polly, this is no time for a dispute of this sort; for whenever you are talking of marriage, I am thinking of hanging. Polly. And hast thou the heart to persist in disowning me?
Macheath. And hast thou the heart to persist in persuading me that I am married? Why, Polly, dost thou seek to aggravate my misfortunes?
Lucy. Really, Miss Peachum, you but expose your. self. Besides, 'tis barbarous in you to worry a gentleman in his circumstances.
Polly. Decency, Madam, methinks, might teach you to behave yourself with some reserve with the husband, while his wife is present.
Macheath. But seriously, Polly, this is carrying the joke a little too far.
Lucy. If you are determined, Madam, to raise a disturbance in the prison, I shall be obliged to send for the turnkey to shew you the door. I am sorry, Madam, you force me to be so ill-bred.
Polly. Give me leave to tell you, Madam; these forward airs don't become you in the least, Madam. And my duty, Madam, obliges me to stay with my husband, Madam.
GOLDSMITH, like Sheridan, borrowed a good deal of his comedy manner from the dramatists of the Restoration period. In the making of plays, more perhaps than in any other form of composition, a writer, having to act directly upon the traditional and conventionalized tastes of audiences, cannot safely overlook the work of his predecessors. Goldsmith's immediate predecessors were the playwrights of the senti mental school. His literary taste and keen sense of humour revolted against their general badness and their bathos, and he went back for models to the dramatists of the Restoration, a term, be it observed, which has much more than a chronological significance,-and both Goldsmith and Sheridan may in a sense be taken to be the last representatives of the great Restoration School of Comedy. He is a more original writer than Sheridan-his plots are mostly his own, and with, I think, two exceptions, his characters are entirely so, but his originality is partly due to this, that he departed at times from the purposes of comedy and got distinctly into the region of farce. Yet this farce element was what, if tradition is true, mainly saved his first piece from damnation; for the first-night's audience, it is recorded, chose to consider 'The Good-Natured Man' not up to their standard of refinement in comedy. They were a little shocked (not wholly without reason) by the impossibility and absurdity of the scene where Honeywood passes off the bailiffs who come to arrest him as gentleman acquaintances, and were cold and critical till Shuter came on in the part of Croaker to read that famous incendiary letter in which Goldsmith's fun is at its best and broadest: this won the audience, and the most humorous comedy in the English language was fortunately saved. 'She Stoops to Conquer,' though the farce element is strong in it, is a truer and better comedy than Goldsmith's first piece, and full of that delicate and delightful manner which makes Goldsmith a writer apart from all others.
THE GOOD-NATURED MAN
MR. HONEYWOOD is a young gentleman whose easy good-nature has involved him in money difficulties, ending in his arrest for debt. Miss Richland, an heiress with whom he is in love, comes, accompanied by Garnet, her maid, to pay him a visit. He induces the bailiff and his follower to feign to be two friends of his, but this does not deceive Miss Richland, who has heard of his situation and already instructed her lawyer to pay his debts.
Miss Richland's guardian, Mr. Croaker, a man of a gloomy and repining temper, wishes his son, Leontine, to marry her. Leontine is in love with Olivia, whose mercenary guardian attempting to force her into a convent in France, she throws herself upon Leontine's protection. He brings her to his family as his sister, who had been brought up from childhood in France, and whom he had been sent to fetch home. Croaker pressing his son's marriage with Miss Richland, Leontine and Olivia elope, accompanied by Jarvis, the old servant of Honeywood, who has promised to supply them with funds; but the bill he gave Leontine is protested, and their flight is delayed. Olivia confesses that she is not Croaker's daughter. Sir William Honeywood (Honeywood's father) knows her to be the child of Sir James Woodville, a former friend of his, and successfully intercedes with Croaker for the young couple; while Honeywood, who declares himself convinced of the dangers of too easy a disposition, comes to an understanding with Miss Richland.