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IN TWO ACTS.
BY MRS. BROOKE.
REMARKS. THIS pleasing and well-arranged petite piece has been a constant favourite since its original performance at Covent Garden in 1783.—The dialogue is natural and easy, and the morality unexceptionable ; the airs, compiled by Shield, are happily adapted ; and a more agreeable or effective afterpiece can scarcely be named in the varied productions of our modern writers.
Mrs. Brooke, the amiable authoress, has thus explained her intentions, in her preface to the first edition :
“ The fable of this piece, taken from the Book of Ruth, (a fable equally simple, moral, and interesting,) has already furnished a subject for the beautiful episode of Palemon and Lavinia, in Thomson's Seasons, and a pleasing opera of Mons. Favart: of both I have availed myself as far as the difference of my plan would allow; but as we are not, howerer extraordinary it may appear, so easily satisfied with mere sentiments as our more sprightly neighbours, the French, I found it necessary to diversify the story, by adding the comic characters of William and Phebe, which I hoped might at once relieve and heighten the sentimental cast of the other personages of the drama.”
The Scene opens and discovers a rural prospect :
on the left side a little hill with trees at the top; a spring of water rushes from the side, and falls into a natural basin below: on the right side a cottage, at the door of which is a bench of stone. At a distance a chain of moun. tains. The manor house in view. A field of corn fills up the scene. In the first act the sky clears by degrees, the morning' rapour disperses, the sun rises, and at the end of the act is above the horizon: at the beginning of the second he is past the height, and declines till the end of the day. This progressive motion should be made imperceptibly, but its effect should be visible through the two acts.
the cottage is open, a lamp burning just with.
in ; Dorcas, seated on a bench, is spinning;
Paints with gold the verdant lawn,
Sip the sweets, and hail the dawn.
Carol sweet the lively strain ;
To secure the golden grain.
See, content, the humble gleaner,
Take the écatter'd ears that fall !
(William retires. Ros. See ! my dear Dorcas, what we gleaned The blushing morn awakes the strain, yesterday in Mr. Belville's field !
Awakes the tuneful choir; Coming forward, and showing the corn But sad Rosina ne'er again at the door.
Shall strike the sprightly lyre. Dor. Lord love thee! but take care of thyself: thou art but tender.
Rust. [Without.) To work, my hearts of Ros. Indeed it does not hurt me. Shall I oak, to work; here the sun is half an hour put out the lamp?
high, and not a stroke struck yet. Dor. Do, dear; the poor must be sparing.
Enter Rustic, singing, followed by Reapers. [Rosina going to put out the lamp, DORCAS looks after her, and sighs ; she returns
Rust. See, ye swains, yon streaks of red, hastily.
Call you from your slothful bed; Ros. Why do you sigh, Dorcas ?
Late you tillid the fruitful soil; Dor. I canno' bear it : it's nothing to Phebe
See! where harvest crowns your toil. and me, but
thou wast not born to labour. Cho. Late you till’d the fruitful soil;
(Rising, and pushing awuy the wheel. See! where harvest crowns your toil. Ros. Why should I repine? Heaven, which deprived me of my parents, and my fortune,
Rust. As we reap the golden corn, left me health, content, and innocence. Nor
Laughing Plenty fills her horn.
What would gilded pomp avail is it certain that riches lead to happiness. Do you think the nightingale sings the sweeter for
Should the peasant's labour fail? being in a gilded cage?
Cho. What would gilded pomp avail Dor. Sweeter, I'll maintain it, than the poor
Should the peasant's labour fail ? little linnet that thou pick'dst up half-starved Rust. Ripen'd fields your cares repay, under the hedge yesterday, after its mother
Sons of labour, haste away; had been shot, and brought'st to life in thy Bending, see the waving grain bosom. Let me speak to his honour, he's
Crown the year, and cheer the swain, main kind to the poor. Ros. Not for the world, Dorcas; I want
Cho. Bending, see the waving grain nothing; you have been a mother to me.
Crown the year, and cheer the swain. Dor. Would I could! would I could! I ha' Rust. Hist! there's his honour. Where worked hard and ara'd money in my time: are all the lazy Irisbmen I hired yesterday at but now I am old and feeble, and am pushed market? about by every body.-More's the pity, I say; it was not so in my young time; but the world
Enter BELVILLE, followed by two IRISHMEN
und Servants. grows wickeder every day.
Ros. Your age, my good Dorcas, requires 1 Irish. Is it us he's talking of, Paddy? rest; go into the cottage, whilst Phebe and I Then the devil may thank hinn for his good join the gleaners, who are assembling from commendations. every part of the village.
Bel. You are too severe, Rustic; the poor Dor. Many a time have I carried thy dear fellows came three miles this morning; theremother, an infant, in these arms; little did I fore I made them stop at the manor house to think a child of hers would live to share my take a little refreshment. poor pittance. But I wo'not grieve thee. 1 Irish. Bless your sweet face, my jewel,
[Dorcas enters the Cottage, looking back and all those who take your part. Bad luck affectionately at Rosina.
to myself, if I would not, with all the veins of Phe. What makes you so melancholy, Ro- my heart, split the dew before your feet in a sina? Mayhap it's because you have not a morning.
[To BELVILLE. sweetheart? But you are so proud, yoụ won't Rust. If I do speak a little cross, it is for let our young men come a near you. You may your honour's good. live to repent being so scornful.
[The Reapers cut the corn, and make it into
sheaves. Rosina follows, and gleans. When William at eve meets me down at the Rust. (Seeing Rosina.] What a dickens stile,
does this girl do here? Keep back; wait till How sweet is the nightingale's song ;. the reapers are off the field ; do like the other Of the day I forget all the labour and toil, gleaners.
Whilst ihe moon plays yon branches among. Ros. [Timidly.) If I have done wrong, Sir, By her beams, without blushing, I hear him
I will put what I have gleaned down again.
(She lets full the ears she had gleaned. complain, And believe every word of his song:
Bel. How can you be so unfeeling, Rustic? You know not how'sweet 'tis to love the dear some ears, that she may glean the more.
Let fall She is lovely, virtuous, and in want. swain,
Rust. Your bonour is too good by balf. Whilst the moon plays yon branches among. Bel. No more: gather up the corn she has [During the lust stanza, WILLIAM appears
let fall. Do as I command you. at the end of the scene, and makes signs to
Rust. There, take the whole field, since his PHEBE; who, when it is finished, "steals honour chooses it. softly him, and they disappeur.
(Putting the corn into her apron. Ros. How small a part of my evils is pov.
Ros. I will not abuse his goodness. erty! And how little does Phebe know the
[Retires, gleaning. heart she thinks insensible! the heart which
2 Irish. Upon my soul now, his honour's no nourishes a hopeless passion. I blessed, like churl of the wheat, whate'er he may be of the others, Belville's genile virtues, and knew not
barley. that 'twas love. Unhappy, lost Rosina!
Bel. [Looking after Rosina.) What bewitch
ing softness! There is a blushing, bashful The morn returns in saffron dress'd, gentleness, an almost infantine innocence, in But not to sad Rosina rest.
that lovely countenance, which it is impossible
to behold without emotion! She turns this
Enter Rustic and PAEBE. way: what bloom on that cheek! 'Tis the Rust. That's a good girl! Do as I bid you, blushing down of the peach.
and you sha'n't want encouragement. Her mouth, which a smile,
[He goes up to the Reapers, and WILLIAM Devoid of all guile,
comes forward. Half opens to view,
Will. O no, I dare say she won't. So, Mrs.
Phe. And so, Mr. William, if you go to that!
Will. A new sweetheart, I'll be sworn; and More fragrant her breath
a pretty comely lad he is : but he's rich, and
that's enough to win a woman.
Phe. I don't desarve this of you, William :
but I'm rightly sarved for being such an easy The lily's perfume,
fool. You think, mayhap, I'm at my last Or the blossoms of May.
prayers; but you may find yourself mistaken.
Will.' You do right to cry out first; you Enter CAPTAIN BELVILLE in a riding dress. think belike that I did not see you take that Capt. B. Good morrow, brother; you are
posy fron Harry. early abroad.
Phe. And you, belike, that I did not catch Bel
. My dear Charles, I am happy to see you tying up one, of corn-flowers and wild you. True, I find, to the first of September.
roses, for the miller's maid ; but I'll be fooled Capt. B.' I meant to have been here last no longer; I have done with you, Mr. Wil.
liam. night, but one of my wheels broke, and I was obliged to sleep at a village six miles distant, the miller's maid loves the ground I walk on.
Will. I sha'n't break my heart, Mrs. Phebe. where I left my chaise, and took a boat down the river at day-break. But your corn is not Will. I've kiss'd and I've prattled to fifty off the ground.
fair maids, Bel. You know our harvest is late in the
And chang’d them as oft, d'ye see; north; but you will find all the lands cleared
But of all the fair maidens that dance on the other side the mountain.
on the green Capt. B. And pray, brother, how are the
The maid of the mill for me. partridges this season ?
Bel. There are twenty covies within sight of Phe. There's fifty young men have told me my house, and the dogs are in fine order.
fine tales, Capt. B. The gamekeeper is this moment
And call'd me the fairest she; leading them round. I am fired at the sight.
But of all the gay wrestlers that sport
on the green, By dawn to the downs we repair, With bosoms right jocund and
Young Harry's the lad for me.
gay, And gain more than pheasant or hare- Will. Her eyes are as black as the sloe in Gain health by the sports of the day.
the hedge, Mark! mark! to the right hand, prepare
Her face like the blossoms in May, See Diana !--she points !--see, they rise
Her teeth are as white as the new
shorn flock, See, they float on the bosom of air ! Fire away! whilst loud echo replies
Her breath like the new-made hay. Fire away!
Phe. He's tall and he's straight as the popHark! the volley resounds to the skies !
lar tree, Whilst echo in thunder replies !
His cheeks are as fresh as the rose; In thunder replies,
He looks like a squire of high degree And resounds to the skies,
When dress'd in bis Sunday clothes. Fire away! Fire away! Fire away!
Will. I've kiss'd and I've prattled, &c.
Phe. There's fifty young men, &c. But where is my little rustic charmer? (! [Exeunt on different sides of the Stage. there she is: I am transported. [Aside.) Pray, brother, is not that the little girl, whose dawn- Rosina runs across the Stage ; Captain Beling beauty we admired so much last year?
VILLE following her. Bel. It is, and more lovely than ever. I Capt. B. Stay and hear me, Rosina. Why shall dine in the field with my reapers to-day, will you fatigue yourself thus ? Only homely brother: will you share our rural repast, or girls are born to work.-Your obstinacy is have a dinner prepared at the manor-house? vain ; you shall hear me.
Cupt. B. By no means : pray let me be of Ros. 'Why do you stop me, Sir? My time is your party : your plan is an admirable one, precious. When the gleaning season is over, especially if your girls are handsome.. I'I will you make up my loss? walk round the field, and meet you at dinner Capt. B. Yes. time.
Ros. Will it be any advantage to you to [Exeunt BELVILLE and Rustic. CAPTAIN make me lose my day's work?
BELVILLE goes up to Rosina, gleans a Capt. B. Yes.
refuses them and runs out ; he follows her. pass all my days in idleness? Enter WILLIAM, speaking at the Side-scene.
Capt. B. Yes.
Ros. We differ greatly then, Sir. I only Will. Lead the dogs back, James; the cap- wish for so much leisure as makes me return tain won't shoot to-day. [Seeing Rustic and to my work with fresh spirit. We labour all PHEBE behind.] Indeed, so close! I don't half the week, 'tis true; but then how sweet is our like it.
rest on Sunday?
Whilst with village maids I stray,
Capt. B. Give her the money, and tell her Sweetly wears the joyous day;
she shall never want a friend; but not a word Cheerful glows my artless breast,
to my brother. Mild content the constant guest.
Rust. All's safe, your honour. (Exit CAPTAIN
BELVILLE.) I don't vastly like this business. Capt. B. Mere prejudice, child; you will At the captain's age, this violent charity is a know better. I pity you, and will make your little duberous. I am his honour's servant, fortune.
and it's my duty to hide nothing from him. Ros. Let me call my mother, Sir; I am I'll go seek his honour; O, here he comes. young, and can support myself by my labour ; but she is old and helpless, and your charity
Enter BELVILLE. will be well bestowed. Please to transfer to her the bounty you intended for me.
Bel. Well, Rustic, have you any intelliCapt. B. Why—as to that,
gence to communicate ? Ros. I understand you, Sir; your compas- to make good use of his money; he has given
Rust. A vast deal, Sir. Your brother begins sion does not extend to old women.
me these five guineas for myself, and this purse Capt. B. Really-I believe not.
for Rosina. Enter Dorcas,
Bel. For Rosina! "Tis plain he loves her.
[Aside.] Obey him exactly; but, as distress Ros. You are just come in time, mother. I renders the mind haughty, and Rosina's situahave met with a generous gentleman, whose tion requires the utmost delicacy, contrive to charity inclined him to succour youth. execute your commission in such a manner Dor. "Tis very kind. And old age- that she may not even suspect from whence Ros. He'll tell you that himself.
the money comes. [Goes into the Cottage. Rust. I understand your honour. Dor. I thought so.-Sure, sure, 'tis no sin to Bel. Have you gained any intelligence in be old.
respect to Rosina ? Capt. B. You must not judge of me by Rust. I endeavoured to get all I could from others, honest Dorcas.--I am sorry for your the old woman's grand-daughter; but all she misfortunes, and wish to serve you.
knew was, that she was no kin to Dorcas, Dor. And to what, your honour, may I owe and that she had had a good bringing-up; but this kindness?
here are the labourers, Capt. B. You have a charming daughter
Enter Dorcas, Rosina, and PHEBE. Dor. I thought as much. A vile, wicked Bel. But I don't see Rosina. Dorcas, you man !
(Aside. must come too, and Phebe. Capt. B. Beauty like hers might find a thou- Dor. We can't deny your honour. sand resources in London; the moment she Ros. I am asham'd; but you command, Sir. appears there, she will turn every head. Dor. And is your honour sure her own won't
Enter CAPTAIN BELVILLE, followed in the turn at the same time?
Reapers. Capt. B. She shall live in affluence, and Bel. By this fountain's flowery side, take care of you too, Dorcas.
Dress’d in nature's blooming pride, Dor. I guess your honour's meaning; but Where the poplar trembles high, you are mistaken, Sir. If I must be a trouble
And the bees in clusters fly; to the dear child, I had rather owe my bread
Whilst the herdsman on the hill to her labour than to her shame.
Listens to the falling rill: (Goes into the Cottage, and shuts the door.
Pride and cruel scorn, away: Capt. B. These women astonish me; but I
Let us share the festive day. won't give it up so.
Ros. & Bel, Taste our pleasures ye who may, Enter Rustic, crossing the stage.
This is Nature's holiday. A word with you, Rustic.
Simple Nature ye who prize,
Life's fantastic forms despise. Rust. I am in a great hurry, your honour; I am going to hasten dinner.
Cho. Taste our pleasures ye who may, Capt. B. I sha'n't keep you a minute. Take
This is Nature's holiday. these five guineas.
Capt. B. Blushing Bell, with downcast eyes, Rust. For whom, Sir ?
Sighs, and knows not why she sighs Capt. B. For yourself. And this purse.
Tom is near her-we shall knowRust. For whom, Sir ?
How he eyes her-Is't not so ? Capt. B. For Rosina; they say she is in distress, and wants assistance.
Cho. Taste our pleasures ye who may, Rust. What pleasure it gives me to see you
This is Nature's holiday. so charitable! You are just like your brother. Will. He is fond, and she is shy; Capt. B. Prodigiously.
He would kiss her ;-tie oh, fie! Rust. But why give me money, Sir ?
Mind thy sickle, let her be; Capt. B. Only to tell Rosina there is a
By and by she'll follow thee. person who is very much interested in her
Cho. Busy censors, hence away; happiness.
'This is Nature's holiday. Rust. How much you will please his honour by this. He takes mightily to Rosina,
Rust. & Dor. Now we'll quaff the nut-brown and prefers her to all the young women in the
Then we'll tell the sportive tale ; Capt. B. Prefers her! Ah! you sly rogue !
All is jest, and all is glee, [Laying his hand on Rustic's shoulder.
All is youthful jollity. Rust. Your honour's a wag ; but I'm sure I Cho. Taste our pleasures ye who may, meant no harm.
This is Nature's holiday.
Lads and lasses all advance, honour will like your bashfulness better than Phe.
Carol blithe, and form the dance; too much courage. Irish Girl.
[Exit. Trip it lightly while you may,
Ros. I cannot support his presence—my em1 Irish. This is Nature's holiday.
barrassment-my confusion-a stronger senCho. Trip it lightly while you may,
sation than that of gratitude agitates my This is Nature's holiday.
heart.—Yet hope in my situation were mad(All rise; the Dancers come down the stage
through the sheaves of corn, which are Sweet transports, gentle wishes, go! removed; the Dance begins, and finishes the In vain his charms have gain'd my heart; Act.
Since fortune, still to love a foe,
And cruel, duty bid us part.
Ah! why does duty claim the mind,
And part those souls wbich love has join'd ?
Enter WILLIAM. Rust. This purse is the plague of my life; 1 Pray, William, do you know of any body that hate money when it is not my own. I'll e'en has lost a purse ? put in the five guineas he gave me for myself: Will. I knows nothing about it. I don't want it, and they do. They certainly
Ros. Dorcas, however, has found one. must find it there. But I hear the cottage
Will. So much the better for she. door open.
(Retires a litile.
Ros. You will oblige me very much if yon
it to Mr. Belville, and beg him to Enter DORCAS and Rosina from the Cottage. keep it till the owner is found.
Dorcas with a great basket on her arm, filled Will. Since you desire it, I'll go: it shan't trith skeins of thread.
be the lighter for my carrying.
Ros. T'hat I am sure of, William. [Exit. Dor. I am just going, Rosina, to carry this thread to the weaver's.
Enter Puebe. Ros. This basket is to heavy for you : pray Phe. There's William; but I'll pretend not let me carry it.
to see him. (Takes the basket from Dorcas, and sets it down on the bench.
Henry culld the floweret's bloom, Dor. No, no.
Marian lov'd the soft perfume; Ros. If you love me, only take half; this Had playful kiss'd, but prudence near evening, or to-morrow morning, I will carry Whisper'd timely in her ear, the rest.-[Takes part of the skeins out of the Simple Marian, ah! beware; basket und lays them on the bench, looking affec- Touch them not, for love is there. tionately on DORCAS.] There, be angry with
(Throus away her nosegay. While she is singme if you please.
ing William turns, looks ut her, whistles, Dor. No, my sweet lamb, I am not angry;
and plays with his stick. but beware of men.
Will. That's Harry's posy; the slut likes me Ros. Have you any doubts of my conduct, still. Dorcas ?
Phe. That's a copy of his countenance, I'm Dor. Indeed I have not, love, and yet I am sartin; he can no more help following me nor uneasy.
he can be hang'd. Enter CAPTAIN Belville, unperceived.
Aside ; WILLIAM crosses ugain, singing. Go back to the reapers, whilst I carry this Of all the fair maidens that dance on thread. Ros. I'll go this moment.
The maid of the mill for me. Dor. But as I walk but slow, and 'tis a good way, you may chance to be at home be- I'll not speak first, an I die for't.
Phe. I'm ready to choke wi' madness; but fore me; so take the key. Ros. I will.
(WILLIAM sings, throwing up his stick and
catching it. Capt. B. (Aside, while Dorcas feels in her pockets for the key.) Rosina to be at home be- Will. Her eyes are as black as the sloe in the fore Dorcas! How lucky! I'll slip into the
hedge, house, and wait her coming, if 'tis till mid
Her face like the blossoms in May. night. (He goes unperceived by them into
Phe. I can't bear it no longer-you vile, the Cottage. Dor. Let nobody go into the house. ungrateful, parfidiousBut it's no matter
I can't think what I could see in youRos. I'll take care; but first I'll double-lock Harry loves me, and is a thousand times more the door.
handsomer. (While she is locking the door, DORCAS, go
(Sings, sobbing at every word. ing to take up the basket, sees the purse. Of all the gay wrestlers that sport on Dor. Good lack! What is here! a purse, as I live!
Young Harry's the lad for me. Ros. How! Dor. Come, and see; 'tis a purse indeed. Will. He's yonder a reaping, shall I call Ros. Heavens! 'tis full of gold.
[Offers to go. Dor. We must put up a bill at the church- Phe. My grandmother leads me the life of a gate, and restore it to the owner. The best dog; and it's all along of you. way is to carry the money to his honour, and Will. Well, then she'll be better tempered Ret him to keep it till the owner is found. now; You shall go with it, love.
Phe. I did not value her scolding a brass Ros. Pray excuse me, I always blush so. farthing, when I thought as how you were Dor. 'Tis nothing but childishness; but his true to me.