The Poor Soldier.
THE Poor Soldier is one of those blossoms that deck the never-fading laurel of O'Keeffe. No change of taste we should think can ever render this delightful vaudeville unpalatable; in which simplicity of plot, whimsicality of character, and music exquisitely tender and melodious, conspire to please. The scene is laid in Ireland and the time is a day-" A summer's day, as Millstone says!"
Patrick, the Poor Soldier, returns to his native village after two years' absence. He is in love, wounded, and without a sixpence in his pocket. He repairs to the cottage of his sweetheart Norah; and by one of those cross-purposes that sometimes occur in real life, and are perfectly allowable in farce, he encounters Monsieur Bagatelle in Norah's chamber, who bolts out of a closet just as he is about to bolt into it; for Bagatelle is the valet of a Captain Fitzroy, who is enamoured of Patrick's mistress, and the bearer of a message from him; previous to the delivery of which, he asks, with true French politesse, “Von littel kiss!" This discovery gives rise to a temporary fit of jealousy in Patrick, and some droll incidents, particularly a challenge which the Frenchman sends to Patrick, for the indignity offered in desiring him to walk out at the window, and some reflections on his curling-irons. The challenge is confided to Darby, (a delicious fellow!) to deliver to Patrick; but, as Pat is become a devil since he turned soldier, Darby debates with himself whether he shall deliver it in person, (for, as Pat ordered Mounseer to walk out at window, he may desire him to walk up the chimney!)
or appoint a deputy. He determines on the latter, and commissions a country lad to deliver it to " The man in the red coat," which description applies equally to Patrick and to Captain Fitzroy; and the boy. for the jest's sake, of course, delivers it to the latter. The catastrophe winds up with a pleasing incident. The Captain, in his humble, yet favoured rival, discovers the very soldier who had saved his life. The sequel may be easily imagined-every other feeling is merged in that of gratitude to his deliverer. Patrick is made an officer, and becomes the husband of Norah
There is an amusing underplot in the loves of Dermot, Darby, and Kathlane. Dermot is the favoured rival, and Darby is the laughing-stock, not only of the two lovers, but the audience. Kathlane is the ward of Father Luke, a jovial priest of olden time-pious, corpulent, and fond of strong ale. Now is the ghostly father sadly puzzled on which of these lovers to bestow Kathlane. Dermot's ale is unexceptionable, but the reprobate Darby offers a sheep as fat as bacon. This makes Dermot, in the eyes of his reverence, a bad man and an ugly Christian; and it is not until Dermot threatens to drive away two sheep, that he intended to make the priest a present of, that be pronounces Darby an ordinary fellow, and resolves to bestow Kathlane on Dermot.
The character of the Frenchman is well drawn ; and that of Darby, which was written for Edwin, is extremely comical. His misgivings, when he discovers the scar on Patrick's forehead, remind us of the two recruits, in Farquhar's admirable comedy of The Recruiting Officer. The songs are among the very best of O'Keeffe's; the music, by Shield, contains some of his choicest melodies. The "Twins of Latona" is a bold and animated composition. "A Rose-Tree full in Bearing," and My Friend and Pitcher," charm the ear and touch the heart.
What actor shall ever compare with Edwin, in Darby?
-Edwin, who was the comic world in one! Munden comes nearest to him: he was his immediate successor, and a worthy one he proved. Mathews was highly amusing in this character. We remember sitting close to the late Mr. Sheridan, at old Drury, and seeing him laugh heartily at Mathews' mode of singing the song, "Since Kathlane has prov'd Untrue." Keeley's Darby is a failure-it is not Darby, but Keeley-which is just tolerable.
Weweitzer never had an equal in Bagatelle, nor Mrs. Martyr in Kathlane. That lady's vivacity, archness, and crying manner are sometimes brought to our recollection by Miss Kelly. We were much pleased with Miss Love in Patrick; she sang the airs with taste and judgment, particularly the celebrated one, "My Friend and Pitcher." The original Patrick was Mrs. Kennedy, a singer who possessed extraordinary powers of voice, and whose greatest effort was Macheath, in which character she nearly emulated the famous Tom Walker.
The Conductors of this Work print no Plays but those which they have seen acted. The Stage Directions are given from their own personal observations, during the most recent performances.
EXITS and ENTRANCES.
R. means Right; L. Left; D. F. Door in Flat; R. D. Right Door; L. D. Left Door; S. E. Second Entrance; U. E. Upper Entrance; M. D. Middle Door.
R. means Right; L. Left; C. Centre; R. C. Right of Centre; L. C. Left of Centre.
** The Reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the Audience.
silk stockings-shoes and buckles.
PATRICK.-Scarlet soldier's coat-white trousers-soldier's cap,
DERMOT.-Gray coat-scarlet waistcoat-drab breeches-blue stockings-shoes.
blue coat-flowered waistcoat-buff-leather
FATHER LUKE.-Black suit-black cloak-three-cornered hat. BAGATELLE.-Short white coat, with blue collar-white waistcoat-drab stockings-pantaloons, trimmed with blue riband
NORAH.-Figured cotton dressing-gown, and white apron.
SCENE.-Carton, near the seat of the Duke of Leinster,
THE POOR SOLDIER.
SCENE I.-The Country-Sunrise-a large Mansion in the distance-a small House near the front, on the R. -a Cottage on the L.
Dar. [Without, L.] Nay, nay, what harm?
Enter DERMOT and DARBY, L.
Dar. Why, sure, I'll only stand by.
Der. I tell you it's not proper for any one to be by when one's along with one's sweetheart.
Dar. I always like to be by when I'm along with my sweetheart-she's asleep-I'll call her up,-halloa! Kathlane?
Der. Will you be quiet, Darby. Can't you go make a noise there, under Father Luke's window?
Dar. Ecod, if I do, he'll put me in the bishop's court. Der. If I wasn't so fond of Kathlane, I should think Norah, his niece there, a very handsome girl.
Dar. Why, so she is, but since her own sweetheart, Patrick, full of ale and vexation, went for a soldier, she don't care a pin for the prettiest of us: by the lord, she even turns up her nose at me!
Der. (R.) Well, well, you'll see how it will be; somebody I know
Dar. (L.) Ay, you mean the foreign serving man, to the strange officer that's above at my lord's. Eh! why faith, Dermot, it would be a shame to let a black-muzzled Mounseer of a Frenchman carry off a pretty girl, from a parcel of tight Irish boys like us.
Der. So 'twou'd, Darby; but my sweet Kathlane is fast asleep, and never dreams that her poor Dermot is here under her window.
Dar. Ay, never dreams poor Darby's under her window-but I'll have her up-Kathlane-Kath
[Pushes Darby off, L.