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let your under-plot have as little connection with your main-plot as possible.--I flatter myself nothing can be more distinct than mine; for as in my chief plot the characters are all great people, I have laid my under-plot in low life, and as the former is to end in deep distress, I make the other end as happy as a farce.—Now, Mr. Hopkins, as soon as you please.
Enter UNDER PROMPTER. Under Promp. Sir, the carpenter says it is impossible you can go to the park scene yet.
Puff. The park scene! no ! I mean the description scene here, in the wood.
Under Promp. Sir, the performers have cut it out.
Puff. So, so; this is very fine indeed !—Mr. Hopkins, how the plague could you suffer this?
Mr. Hop. [Within.] Sir, indeed the pruning-knife
Puff. The pruning-knife-zounds !—the axe! Why, here has been such lopping and topping, I shan't have the bare trunk of my play left presently !-Very well, sir—the performers must do as they please ; but, upon my soul, I'll print it every word.
Snecr. That I would, indeed.
Puff. Very well, sir ; then we must go on.—Zounds! I would not have parted with the description of the horse !Well, sir, go on.-Sir, it was one of the finest and most laboured things.
- Very well, sir; let them go on.—There you had him and his accoutrements, from the bit to the crupper.---Very well, sir; we must go to the park scene.
Under Promp. Sir, there is the point : the carpenters say, that unless there is some business put in here before the drop, they shan't have time to clear away the fort, or sink Gravesend and the river.
Puff. So ! this is a pretty dilemma, truly !Gentlemen, you must excuse me—these fellows will never be ready, unless I go and look after them myself.
Sneer. O dear, sir, these little things will happen.
Puff. To cut out this scene !—but I'll print it-egad I'll print it every word ?
Enter PUFF, SNEER, and DANGLE.
[Curtain rises. "JUSTICES, CONSTABLES, &c., discovered." Sneer. This, I suppose, is a sort of senate scene. Puff. To be sure; there has not been one yet. Dang. It is the under-plot, isn't it?
Puff. Yes.—What, gentlemen, do you mean to go at once to the discovery scene?
Just. If you please, sir.
Puff. Oh, very well !-Hark'ee, I don't choose to say anything more; but, i'faith they have mangled my play in a most shocking manner.
Dang. It's a great pity !
Are all the volunteers without ?
And clear convicted crimes have stamp'd him soldier?
The best reprieve that sends him to the fields
In honour's cause.
'Tis well—'tis justice arms him
If ’tis your worship’s pleasure, bid him enter.
[Exit.” Puff. Quick, sir.
Sneer. But, Mr. Puff, I think not only the Justice, but the clown seems to talk in as high a style as the first hero among them.
Puft. Heaven forbid they should not in a free country ! Sir, I am not for making slavish distinctions, and giving all the fine language to the upper sort of people. Dang. That's very noble in you, indeed.
“ Enter JUSTICE's LADY."
Bat as I just now pass'd a prisoner youth,
Son. . .
Fust. Ha ! sure some powerful sympathy directs
Re-enter CONSTABLE with Son.
What is thy name?
Though orphan'd, and without a friend ! just.
Thy parents? Son. My father dwelt in Rochester-and was,
As I have heard—a fishmonger—no more.' Puff. What, sir, do you leave out the account of your birth, parentage, and education ?
Son. They have settled it so, sir, here.
Puf. Oh ! oh! “ Lady. . How loudly nature whispers to my heart
Had he no other name?
I've seen a bill
The gipsy told !--Prepare !
I am thy father; here's thy mother; there
Are all your near relations !
Puff. There, you see relationship, like murder, will out. “Just. . Now let's revive -else were this joy too much!
But come and we'll unfold the rest within ;
[Exeunt.” Puff. What do you think of that?
Dang. One of the finest discovery-scenes I ever saw ! Why, this under-plot would have made a tragedy itself.
Sneer. Ay, or a comedy either.
Enter SCENEMEN, taking away the seats.
Puff. You are to leave one chair, you know.-But it is always awkward in a tragedy, to have you fellows coming in in your playhouse liveries to remove things.--I wish that could be managed better.-So now for my mysterious yeoman.
“ Enter BEEFEATER. 'eef. . . . Perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee."
Sneer. Haven't I heard that line before?
Puff. Gad ! now you put me in mind on't, I believe there is —but that's of no consequence; all that can be said is, that two people happened to hit upon the same thought—and Shakspeare made use of it first, that's all.
Sneer. Very true.
Puff. Now, sir, your soliloquy—but speak more to the pit, if you please-the soliloquy always to the pit, that's a rule. “ Beef. . . Though hopeless love finds comfort in despair,
It never can endure a rival's bliss !
[Exit.” Dang. That's a very short soliloquy.
Puff. Yes—but it would have been a great deal longer if he had not been observed.
Sneer. A most sentimental Beefeater that, Mr. Puff ! Puff. Hark'ee-I would not have you be too sure that he is a Beefeater.
Sneer. What, a hero in disguise ?
Puff. No matter-I only give you a hint. But now for my principal character. Here he comes-Lord Burleigh in person! Pray, gentlemen, step this way-softly-I only hope the Lord High Treasurer is perfect—if he is but perfect!
“Enter LORD BURLEIGH, goes slowly to a chair, and sits." Sneer. Mr. Puff!
Puff. Hush !—Vastly well, sir ! vastly well! a most interesting gravity! Dang. What, isn't he to speak at all?
Puff. Egad, I thought you'd ask me that !-Yes, it is a very likely thing—that a minister in his situation, with the whole affairs of the nation on his head, should have time to talk But hush ! or you'll put him out.
Sneer. Put him out; how the plague can that be, if he's not going to say anything !
Puff. There's the reason ! why, his part is to think; and how the plagje do you imagine he can think if you keep talking ? Dang. That's very true, upon my word !
“LORD BURLEIGH comes forward, shakes his head, and exit.” Sneer. He is very perfect indeed! Now, pray what did he mean by that?
Puff. You don't take it?
Puff. Why, by that shake of the head, he gave you to understand that even though they had more justice in their cause, and wisdom in their measures-yet, if there was not a greater spirit shown on the part of the people, the country would at last fall a sacrifice to the hostile ambition of the Spanish monarchy.
Sneer. The devil! did he mean all that hy shaking his head? Puff. Every word of it--if he shook his head as I taught him.
Dang. Ah! there certainly is a vast deal to be done on the stage by dumb show and expression of face; and a judicious author knows how much he may trust to it.
Sneer. Oh, here are some of our old acquaintance.
“Enter Sir CHRISTOPHER HATTON and SIR WALTER RALEIGU, Sir Christ. My niece and your niece too !
By Heaven ! there's witchcraft in't. - He could not else
Some horrid purpose lowering on their brows!
[They withdraw." Sneer. What is all this? Puff. Ah ! here has been more pruning !
—but the fact is, these two young ladies are also in love with Don Whiskerandos. -Now, gentlemen, this scene goes entirely for what we call situation and stage effect, by which the greatest applause may be obtained, without the assistance of language, sentiment, or character: pray mark !
“ Enter the two NIECES. Ist Niece. Ellena here !
She is his scorn as much as I-that is
Some comfort still !" Puff. O dear, madam, you are not to say that to her face ! -aside, ma’am, aside. --The whole scene is to be aside. "Ist Niece. She is his scorn as much as I-that is Some comfort still.
[Aside. 2nd Niece. I know he prizes not Pollina's love; But Tilburina lords it o'er his heart.
[Aside. Ist Niece. But see the proud destroyer of my peace. Revenge is all the good I've left.
[Aside. 2nd Niece. He comes, the false disturber of my quiet. Now, vengeance do thy worst.
[Asideo Enter Don FEROLO WHISKERANDOS. Whisk. O hateful liberty-. if thus in vain
I seek my Tilburina ! Both Nieces.
And ever shalt ! SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON and Sir WALTER RALEIGH come forwardo Sir Christ, and Sir Walt. Hold! we will avenge you. Whisk. Hold you—or see your nieces bleed i