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SCENE I.--Breakfast table, with coffee-equipage, two chairs,
Mr. (L.) and Mrs. DANGLE, (R.) discovered at breakfast, reading newspaper.
Dan. [Reading.] Pshaw!-Nothing but politics—an? I hate all politics but theatrical politics. Where's the Morning Chronicle ? Mrs. D. Yes, that's
Gazette. Dan. So, here we have it.
“ Theatrical intelligence extraordinary."- We hear there is a new tragedy in rehearsal at Drury Lane Theatre, called the Spanish Armada,' said to be written by Mr. Puff, a gentleman well known in the theatrical world : if ve may allow ourselves to give credit to the report of the performers, who, truth to say, are in general but indifferent judges, this piece abounds with the most striking and received beauties of modern composition.”—So! I am very
friend Puff's tragedy is in such forwardness.Mrs. Dangle, my dear, you will be very glad to hear that Puff's tragedy
Mrs. D. Lord, Mr. Dangle, why will you plague me about such nonsense ?-Now the plays are begun, I shall have no peace.—Isn't it sufficient to make yourself ridiculous by your passion for the theatre, without continually teazing me to join you? Why can't you ride your hubby-horse without desiring to place me on a pillion behind you, Mr. Dangle?
Dan. Nay, my dear, I was only going to read-
worth listening to haven't you made yourself the jest of all your acquaintance by your interference in matters where you have no business? Are you not called a theatrical Quidnunc, and a mock Mæcenas to second-hand authors ?
Dan. True; my power with the Managers is pretty notorious; but is it no credit to have applications from all quarters
interest ?-From lords to recommend fiddlers, from ladies to get boxes, from authors'to get an swers, and from actors to get engagements.
Mrs. D. Yes, truly; you have contrived to get a share in all the plague and trouble of theatrical property, without the profit, or even the credit of the abuse that attends it.
Dan. I am sure, Mrs. Dangle, you are no loser by it, however; you have all the advantages of it: mightn't you, last winter, have had the reading of the new pantomime a fortnight previous to its performance ? And doesn't Mr. Notter let you take places for a play before it is advertised, and set you down for a box for
every new piece through the season? And didn't my friend, Mr. Smatter, dedicate his last farce to you, at my particular request, Mrs. Dangle?
Mrs. D. (Rising. Yes, but wasn't the farce damned, Mr. Dangle? And to be sure it is extremely pleasant to have one's house made the motley rendezvous of all the lackeys of literature.
Lan. Mrs. Dangle, Mrs. Dangle, you will not easily persuade me that there is no credit or importance in being at the head of a band of critics, who take upon them to decide for the whole town, whose opinion and patronage all writers solicit, and whose recommendation no manager dares refuse !
Mrs. D. Ridiculous !-Both managers and authors of the least merit laugh at your pretensions. The Public is their Critic—without whose fair approbation they know no play can rest on the stage, and with whose applause they welcome such attacks as yours, and laugh at the malice of them, where they can't at the wit. Dan. Very well, madam, very well.
Enter SERVANT, L. Serv. Mr. Sneer, sir, to wait on you.
Dan. Oh, show Mr. Sneer up. [Exit Servant, L.) Plague on't, now we must appear loving and affectionate, or Sneer will hitch us into a story.
Mrs. D. With all my heart; you can't be more ridiculous than you are. Dan. You are enough to provoke
Enter Mr. SNEER, L. Ha, my dear Sneer, I am vastly glad to see you. My dear, here's Mr. Sneer; Mr. Sneer, my dear; my dear, Mr. Sneer.
Mrs. D. Good morning to you, sir. Dan. Mrs. Dangle and I have been diverting ourselves with the papers. Pray, Sneer, won't you go to Drury Lane theatre the first night of Puff's tragedy?
Sneer. Yes; but I suppose one shan't be able to get in, for on the first night of a new piece they always fill the house with orders to support it.
But here, Dangle, I have brought you two pieces, one of which you must exert yourself to make the managers accept, I can tell you that, for 'tis written by a person of
Gives Dangle two manuscripts. Dan. [Reading.) “ Bursts into tears, and exit.” What, is this a tragedy?
Sneer. No, that's a genteel comedy, not a translationonly taken from the French ; it is written in a style which they have lately tried to run down; the true sentimental, and nothing ridiculous in it from the beginning to the end.
Mrs. D. Well, if they had kept to that, I should not have been such an enemy to the stage ; there was some edification to be got from those pieces, Mr. Sneer.
Sneer. (Crossing, c.] I am quite of your opinion, Mrs. Dangle.
Dan. [Looking at the other MS.) But what have we here !—This seems a very odd
Sneer. Oh, that's a comedy, on a very new plan; replete with wit and mirth, yet of a most serious moral! You see it is called “ The Reformed Housebreaker;" where, by the mere force of humour, housebreaking is put into so ridiculous a light, that if the piece has its proper run, I have no doubt but that bolts and bars will be entirely useless by the end of the season.
Dan. Egad, this is new, indeed !
Sneer. Yes; it is written by a particular friend of mine, who has discovered that the follies and foibles of society are subjects unworthy notice of the Comic Muse, who should be taught to stoop only at the greater vices and blacker crimes of humanity-gibbetting capital offences in five acts, and pillorying petty larcenies in two.-In short, his idea is to dramatize the penal laws, and make the stage a court of ease to the Old Bailey. Dan. That is to unite poetry and justice indeed!
Enter SERVANT, L.
Dan. Beg him to walk up. [Exit Servant, l.] 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 desperation of six-and-thirty. Dan. Very true, egad—though he's my friend.
Sneer. Then his affected contempt of all newspaper strictures; though, at the same time, he is the sorest man alive, and shrinks, like scorched parchment, from the fiery ordeal of true criticism.
Dan. There's no denying it-though he is my friend.
Sneer. You have read the tragedy he has just finished, haven't you?
Dan. Oh, yes; he sent it to me yesterday.
Dan. Why, between ourselves, egad I must ownthough he's
friend—that it is one of the most-He's here—Aside. finished and most admirable performSir F. [Without, L.) Mr. Sneer with him, did you say?
Enter Sir FRETFUL, L. He crosses to L. C. Dan. Ah, my dear friend !-Egad, we were just speaking of your tragedy.--Admirable, Sir Fretful, admirable !
Sneer. (R. c.) You never did any thing beyond it, Sir Fretful-never in your
life. Sir F. (L. c.) You make me extremely happy; for without a compliment, my dear Sneer, there isn't a man in the world whose judgment I value as I do yours—and Mr. Dangle's.
Mrs. D. (R.) They are only laughing at you, Sir Fretful, for it was but just now that,
Dan. (L.) Mrs. Dangle! Ah, Sir Fretful, you know Mrs. Dangle. My friend, Sneer, was rallying just now-He knows how she admires you, and—
Sir F. Oh, Lord, I am sure Mr. Sneer has more taste and sincerity than to-[Aside,] A damned double-faced fellow!
Dan. Yes, yes-Sneer will jest—but a better humoured
Sir F. Oh, I know
Dan. He has a ready turn for ridicule-his wit costs him nothing
Sir F. [Aside.] No, egad-or I should wonder how he came by it.
Dan. But, Sir Fretful, have you sent your play to the managers yet? or can I be of
service to you? Sir 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. Oh, lud! no-never send a play there 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-I 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