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require, the various forms of Letter to the Editor-Occasional Anecdote-Impartial Critique-Observation from Correspondent—or Advertisements from the Party.
Sneer. The Puff direct, I can conceive
Puff: Oh, yes, that's simple enough—for instance-A new Comedy or Farce is to be produced at one of the theatres (though, by the bye, they don't bring out half what they ought to do): the author, suppose Mr. Smatter, or Mr. Dapper, or any particular friend of minevery well; the day before it is to be performed, I write an account of the manner in which it was received -I have the plot from the author-and only add-Characters strongly drawn-highly coloured-hand of a master -fund of genuine humour-mine of inventiondialogue-attic salt !--Then for the performance-Mr. Baker was astonishingly great in the character of Sir Harry! That universal and judicious actor, Mr. Egerton, perhaps never appeared to more advantage than in the Colonel : but it is not in the power of language to do justice to Mr. Jones !—Indeed, he more than merited those repeated bursts of applause which he drew from a most brilliant and judicious audience! In short, we are at a loss which to admire most—the unrivalled genius of the author, the great attention and liberality of the managers, the wonderful abilities of the painter, or the incredible exertions of all the performers !
Sneer. That's pretty well, indeed, sir.
Sneer. And do you think there are any who are influenced by this?
Puf. Oh, lud ! yes, sir; the number of those who undergo 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 Puffing-an 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 apprehensive I am of being known to be the author.
Dan. 'Ifaith, I would not have told; but it's in the papers, and your name at length—in the Morning Chronicle.
Puff. Ah! those damned 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 some little matters to send to the papers, and a few paragraphs 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 new-invented 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 ingenius design for a self-acting air-pump, to be fixed in the confined streets, which is to supersede the necessity of country excursions for the benefit of the health. Here are likewise many other valuable memorandums, 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.
END OF ACT I.
Sir F. Steal!—to be sure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children-disfigure them to make 'em pass for their own.
Sneer. But your present work is a sacrifice to Melpomene, and he, you know, never
Sir F. That's no security. A dexterous plagiarist may do anything.–Why, sir, for aught I know, he might take out some of the best things in my tragedy, and put
them into his own comedy.
Sneer. That might be done, I dare be sworn.
Sir F. And then, if such a person gives you the least hint or assistance, he is devilish apt to take the merit of the whole
Dan. If it succeeds.
Sir F. Aye—but with regard to this piece, I think I can hit that gentleman, for I can safely swear he never read it.
Sneer. I'll tell you how you may hurt him more-
Sir F. Plague on't now, Sneer, I shall take it ill. I believe
you want to take away my character as an author! Sneer. Then I am sure you ought to be very much obliged to me.
Sir F. Hey !-Sir!
Sir F. But come, now, there must be something that you think might be mended, hey?-Mr. Dangle, bas 110thing struck you?
Dan. Why, faith, it is but an ungracious thing, for the most part, tom
Sir F. With most authors it is just so, indeed; they are in general strangely tenacious !-But, for my part, I am never so well pleased as when a judicious critic points out any defect to me; for what is the purpose of showing a work to a friend, if you don't mean to profit by his opinion ?
Sneer. Very true. · Why, then, though I seriously admire the piece upon the whole, yet there is one small objection; which, if you'll give me leave, I'll mention.
Sir F. Sir, you can't oblige me more.
Sir F. Good God !-you surprise me !-wants incident !
Sneer. Yes; I own I think the incidents are too few.
Sir F. Good God !-Believe me, Mr. Sneer, there is no person for whose judgment I have a more implicit deference. But I protest to you, Mr. Sneer, I am only apprehensive that the incidents are too crowded. Dangle, how does it strike you? Dan. Really, I can't agree
friend Sneer. I think the plot quite sufficient; and the four first acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest anything, it is that the interest rather falls off in the fifth.
Sir F. Rises, I believe you mean, sir-
Sir F. Yes, yes, you do, upon my soul-it certainly don't fall off, I assure you.—No, no, it don't fall off.
Dan. Now, Mrs. Dangle, didn't you say it struck you in the same light ?
Mrs. D. (R.) No, indeed, I did not—I did not see a fault in any part of the play from the beginning to the end.
Sir F. [Crossing to Mrs. Dangle.] Upon my soul, the women are the best judges after all !
Mrs. D. Or, if I made any objection, I am sure it was to nothing in the piece! but that I was afraid it was, on the whole, a little too long.
Sir F. Pray, madam, do you speak as to duration of time; or do you mean that the story is tediously spun out?
Mrs. D. Oh, lud! no. I speak only with reference to the usual length of acting plays.
Sir F. Then I am very happy very happy, indeedbecause the play is a short play, a remarkably short play: I should not venture to differ with a lady on a point of taste; but, on these occasions, the watch, you know, is the critic.
Mrs. D. Then, I suppose, it must have been Mr. Dangle's drawling manner of reading it to me.
Sir F. (Crosses, L., and back to R. c.] Oh, if Mr. Dan
gle read it, that's quite another affair !
But I assure you, Mrs. Dangle, the first evening you can spare me three hours and an half, I'll undertake to read you the whole, from beginning to end, with the Prologue and Epilogue, and allow time for the music between the acts.
Mrs. D. I hope to see it on the stage next. [Exit, R.
Dan. Well, Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to get rid as easily of the newspaper criticisms as you do of
Sir F. [Crosses, c.] The newspapers !-Sir, they are the most villainous-licentious—abominable_infernalNot that I ever read them! no! I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
Dan. (L.) You are quite right-for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the liberties they take.
Sir F. No!-quite the contrary; their abuse is, in fact, the best panegyric—I like it, of all things. An author's reputation is only in danger from their support.
Sneer. (R.) Why, that's true—and that attack now on you the other day
Sir F. What? where ?
Dan. Aye, you mean in a paper of Thursday; it was completely ill-natured, to be sure.
Sir F. Oh, so much the better-Ha! ha! ha!—I wouldn't have it otherwise.
Dan. Certainly, it is only to be laughed at; for
Sir F. You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?
Sneer. Pray, Dangle—Sir Fretful seems a little anxious !
Sir F. Oh, lud, no !-anxious—not I-not the least. I But one may as well hear, you know.
Dan. Sneer, do you recollect ?-[Aside.] Make out something
Sneer. I will. [To Dangle.] Yes, yes, I remember perfectly.
Sir F. Well, and pray, now—not that it signifies, what might the gentleman say ?
Sneer. Why he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention or original genius whatever; though you are the greatest traducer of all other authors living.
Sir F. Ha! ha! ha! Very good !