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“ Enter CLERIMONT. u Sir B. So, Clerimont-we were just wishing for you to enliven us with your wit and agreeable vein.
“ Cler. No, Sir Benjamin, I cannot join you.
“ Sir B. Why, man, you look as grave as a young lover the first time he is jilted.
“ Cler. I have some cause to be grave, Sir Benjamin. A word with you all. I have just received a letter from the country, in which I understand that my sister has suddenly left my uncle's house, and has not since been heard of.
“ Lady S. Indeed ! and on what provocation ?
“ Cler. It seems they were urging her a little too hastily to marry some country squire that was not to her taste.
“Sir B. Positively I love her for her spirit.
“ Lady S. And so do I, and would protect her, if I knew where she was.
“ Cler. Sir Benjamin, a word with you-(takes him apart). I think, sir, we have lived for some years on what the world calls the footing of friends.
“Sir B. To my great honour, sir.—Well, my dear friend?
“ Cler. You know that you once paid your addresses to my sister. My uncle disliked you; but I have reason to think you were not indifferent to her.
“Sir B. I believe you are pretty right there; but what follows?
Cler. Then I think I have a right to expect an implicit answer from you, whether you are in any respect privy to her elopement?
Sir B. Why, you certainly have a right to ask the question, and I will answer you as sincerely, which is, that though I make no doubt but that she would have gone with me to the world's end, I am at present entirely ignorant of the whole affair. This I declare to you upon my honour-and, what is more, I assure you my devotions are at present paid to another lady-one of your acquaintance, too.
“ Cler. (aside). Now, who can this other be whom he alludes to ?- I have sometimes thought I perceived a kind of mystery between him and Maria--but I rely on her promise, though, of late, her conduct to me has been strangely reserved.
“ Lady S. Why, Clerimont, you seem quite thoughtful. Come with us; we are going to kill an hour at ombre-your mistress will join us ?
“ Cler. Madam, I attend you.
“Lady S. (taking Sir B. aside). Sir Benjamin, I see Maria is now coming to join us—do you detain her awhile, and I will contrive that Clerimont should see you, and then drop this letter.
[Exeunt all but Sir B.
Enter MARIA. "Mar. I thought the company were here, and Clerimont“Sir B. One, more your slave than Clerimont, is here.
"Mar. Dear Sir Benjamin, I thought you promised me to drop this subject. If I have really any power over you, you will oblige me
“ Sir B. Power over me! What is there you could not command me in? Have you not wrought on me to proffer my love to Lady Sneerwell ? Yet though you gain this from me, you will not give me the smallest token of gratitude.
“ Enter CLERIMONT behind. “Mar. How can I believe your love sincere, when you continue still to importune me.
“Sir B. I ask but for your friendship, your esteem.
“Mar. That you shall ever be entitled to—then I may depend upon your honour?
“Sir B. Eternally-dispose of my heart as you please.
“Mar. Depend upon it I shall study nothing but its happiness. I need not repeat my caution as to Clerimont?
“ Sir B. No, no, he suspects nothing as yet.
“Mar. For, within these few days, I almost believed that he suspects me.
“Sir B. Never fear, he does not love well enough to be quicksighted; for just now he taxed me with eloping with his sister.
“ Mar. Well, we had now best join the company. [Excunt.
“ Cler. So, now—who can ever have faith in woman? D-d deceitful wanton! why did she not fairly tell me that she was weary of my addresses ? that woman, like her mind, was changed, and another fool succeeded.
“ Enter LADY SNEERWELL. Lady S. Clerimont, why do you leave us? Think of my losing this hand. (Cler. She has no heart !)-Five mate-(Cler. Deceitful wanton !)-spadille. “ Cler. Oh yes, ma'am--'twas
hard. Lady S. But you seem disturbed ; and where are Maria and Sir Benjamin I vow I shall be jealous of Sir Benjamin.
“Cler. I dare swear they are together very happy,---but,
Lady Sneerwell-you may perhaps often have perceived that I am discontented with Maria. I ask you to tell me sincerelyhave you ever perceived it?
Lady S. I wish you would excuse me.
“Cler. Nay, you have perceived it-I know you hate deceit.”
In the other sketch, Sir Peter and Lady Teazle are made the leading personages. The two plans are entirely distinct. Lady Sneerwell and her associates being as wholly excluded from the one, as Sir Peter and Lady Teazle are from the other; so that it is difficult to say, with certainty, which existed first, or at what time the happy thought occurred of blending all that was best in each into one.
The following are the Dramatis Personæ of the second plan >
Sir Rowland Harpur.
Maria. From this list of the personages we may conclude that the quarrels of Old Teazle and his wife, the attachment between Maria and one of the Plausibles, and the intrigue of Mrs. Teazle with the other, formed the sole materials of the piece, as then constructed. There is reason, too, to believe, from
The first intention was, as appears from his introductory speech, to give Old Teazle the Christian name of Solomon. Sheridan was, indeed, most fastidiously changeful in his names. The present Charles Surface was at first Clerimont, then Florival, then Captain Harry Plausible, then Harry Pliant or Pliable, then Young Harrier, and then Frank-- while his elder brother was successively Plausible, Pliable, Young Pliant, Tom, and, lastly, Joseph Surface. Trip was originally called Spunge; the name of Snake was, in the earlier sketch, Spatter, and, even after the union of the two plots into one, all the business of the opening scene with Lady Sneerwell, at present transacted by Snake, was given to a character, afterwards wholly omitted, Miss Verjuice.
† This was most probably the “Two-act comedy,” which he announced to Mr. Linley as preparing for representation in 1775.
the following memorandum, which occurs in various shapes through these manuscripts, that the device of the screen was not yet thought of, and that the discovery was to be effected in a very different manner :
“Making love to aunt and niece-meeting wrong in the dark-some one coming-locks up the aunt, thinking it to be the niece."
The following scene from the second sketch shows, perhaps, even more strikingly than the other, the volatilizing and condensing process which his wit must have gone through, before it attained its present proof and flavour.
"ACT I.-SCENE I.
“OLD TEAZLE, alone. "In the year '44 I married my first wife; the wedding was at the end of the year-ay, 'twas in December; yet, before Ann. Dom. '45, I repented. A month before, we swore we preferred each other to the whole world-perhaps we spoke truth; but, when we came to promise to love each other till death, there I am sure we lied. Well, Fortune owed me a good turn; in '48 she died. Ah, silly Solomon, in '52 I find thee married again! Here, too, is a catalogue of ills-Thomas, born February 12 ; Jane, born Jan. 6; so they go on to the number of five. However, by death I stand credited but by one. Well, Margery, rest her soul! was a queer creature ; when she was gone, I felt awkward at first, and being sensible that wishes availed nothing, I often wished for her return. For ten years more I kept my senses and lived single. Oh, blockhead, dolt Solomon! Within this twelvemonth thou art married again--married to a woman thirty years younger than thyself; a fashionable woman. Yet I took her with caution; she had been educated in the country ; but now she has more extravagance than the daughter of an earl, more levity, than a countess. What a defect it is in our laws, that a man who has once been branded in the forehead should be hanged for the second offence.
“ Enter JARVIS. “ Teas. Who's there? Well, Jarvis?
"Jaru. Sir, there are a number of my mistress's tradesmen without, clamorous for their money.
“ Teaz. Are those their bills in your hand ?
" Teas. What! have you expended the hundred pounds I gave you for her use ?
"Jarv. Long ago, sir, as you may judge by some of the items Paid the coachmaker for lowering the front seat of the coach'
“ Teaz. What the deuce was the matter with the seat?
"Jarv. Oh, Lord, the carriage was too low for her by a foot when she was dressed-so that it must have been so, or have had a tub at top like a hat-case on a travelling trunk. Well, sir (reads), ‘Paid her two footmen half a year's wages, £50.'
“ Teaz. 'Sdeath and fury ! does she give her footmen a hundred a year?
“Jarv. Yes, sir, and I think, indeed, she has rather made a good bargain, for they find their own bags and bouquets.
“ Teaz. Bags and bouquets for footmen !-halters and bastinadoes !*
“Jarv. 'Paid for my lady's own nosegays, £50.'
“ Teaz. Fifty pounds for flowers ! enough to turn the Pantheon into a green-house, and give a fête champêtre at Christ
“ Lady Teaz.t Lord, Sir Peter, I wonder you should grudge me the most innocent articles in dress—and then, for the expense--flowers cannot be cheaper in winter-you should find fault with the climate, and not with me. I am sure I wisł, with all
* Transferred afterwards to Trip and Sir Oliver. + We observe here a change in his plan, with respect both to the titles. of Old Teazle and his wife, and the presence of the latter during this scene, which was evidently not at first intended.
From the following skeleton of the scenes of this piece, it would appear that (inconsistently, in some degree, with my notion of its being the twoact comedy announced in 1775) he had an idea of extending the plot through five acts.
“ Act ist, scene ist, Sir Peter and Steward—2nd, Sir P. and Ladythen Young Pliable.
“ Act 2nd, Sir P. and Lady-Young Harrier-Sir P., and Sir Rowland, and Old Jeremy-Sir R. and Daughter-Y. P. and Y. H.
“Act 3rd, Sir R., Sir P., and Ò. J.—2nd, Y. P. and company, Y. R. O. R.-3rd, Y. H. and Maria-Y. O. R. H., and Young Harrier, to bor
“Act 4th, Y. P. and Maria, to borrow his money; gets away what he had received from his uncle-Y. P., Old Jer., and tradesmen—P. and Lady T.,” &c., &c