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honorable addresses to his ward—I behold him now in a light so truly despicable, that I shall never against respect myself for having listened to him.
[Exit. Jos. Surf. Notwithstanding all this, Sir Peter, Heaven knows
Sir Pet. That you are a villain ! and so I leave you to your conscience.
Jos. Surf. You are too rash, Sir Peter; you shall hear me. The man who shuts out conviction by refusing toSir Pet. Oh, damn your sentiments ! TExeunt Sir Peter and Joseph SURFACE,
THE CRITIC.-ACT I.
DANGLE, MRS. DANGLE, and SNEER on the
Ser. Sir Fretful Plagiary, sir.
Dang. Beg him to walk up.-[Exit SERVANT.] Now, Mrs. Dangle, Sir Fretful Plagiary is an author to your own taste.
Mrs. Dang. I confess he is a favorite of mine, because everybody else abuses him.
Sneer. Very much to the credit of your charity, madam, if not of your judgment.
Dang. But, egad, he allows no merit to any author but himself, that's the truth on'tthough he's my friend.
Sneer. Never.—He is as envious as an old maid verging on the desperation of six and thirty; and then the insidious humility with which he seduces you to give a free opinion on any of his works, can be exceeded only by
the petulant arrogance with which he is sure to reject your observations.
Dang. Very true, egad—though he's my friend.
Sneer. Then his affected contempt of all newspaper strictures; though, at the time, he is the sorest man alive, and shrinks like scorched parchment from the fiery ordeal of true criticism: yet is he so covetous of popularity, that he had rather be abused than not mentioned at all.
Dang. There's no denying it-though he is
Sneer. You have read the tragedy he has just finished, haven't you?
Dang. Oh, yes; he sent it to me yesterday.
Sneer. Well, and you think it execrable, don't you?
Dang. Why, between ourselves, egad, I must own-though he is my friend—that it is one of the most- He's here—[Aside.] finished and most admirable perform
Sir Fret. [Without.] Mr. Sneer with him, did you say?
Enter SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.
Dang. Ah, my dear friend !--Egad, we were just speaking of your tragedy.-Admirable, Sir Fretful, admirable !
Sncer. You never did anything beyond it, Sir Fretful-never in your life. Sir Fret. 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. Dang. They are only laughing at you, Sir Fretful; for it was but just now that
Dang. Mrs. Dangle !-Ah, Sir Fretful, you know Mrs. Dangle.—My friend Sneer rallying just now :-he knows how she admires you, and
Sir Fret. O Lord, I am sure Mr. Sneer has more taste and sincerity than to -[Aside.] A damned double-faced fellow !
Dang. Yes, yes-- Sneer will jest---but a better humored
Sir Fret. Oh, I know
Dang. He has a ready turn for ridiculehis wit costs him nothing.
Sir Fret. No, egad—or I should wonder how he came by it.
Aside. Mrs. Dang. Because his jest is always at the expense of his friend.
[Aside. Dang. But, Sir Fretful, have you sent your play to the managers yet?--or can I be of any service to you?
Sir Fret. No, no, I thank you: I believe the piece had sufficient recommendation with it.-I thank you though. 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 Fret. O lud! no—never send a play there while I live--hark'ee!
[Whispers SNEER. Sneer. Writes himself !-I know he does.
Sir Fret. 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 Fret. 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 dear Plagiary?
Sir Fret. 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 Fret. 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 Fret. And then, if such a person gives you the least hint or assistance, he is devilish apt to take the merit of the whole