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The Way to get fħarried.
THE title of this comedy is a sufficient advertisement to raise the curiosity of the unmarried of both sexes, of every age and denomination. We may imagine young maids and bachelors tripping in crowds to the theatre with quick steps and palpitating hearts, to be put in this wonderful way; and single gentlemen of riper years and venerable spinsters journeying with less alacrity, but with equal desire, thinking that the acquirement of useful knowledge is better late than never. We can also picture to ourselves their blank looks at finding how they had been hoaxed; and for the first time in their lives they have felt disappointed at receiving entertainment when they had hoped for instruction: for he who, by dint of ingenuity, shall discover in this comedy the way to get married, may rank with certain Shakspearian commentators, who have imputed meanings to the author that he, simple wight, never dreamt of.
But married people and critics
"Whose sober wishes never learned to stray,"
will pronounce this, in many respects, a good comedy. If in the laughable parts they find mirth sometimes excited by extravagance and caricature, there is still much to approve-it is only in the serious scenes that the author deserves particular censure; and here he has offended equally against morals and taste.
We shall not analyze the absurdities of Captain Faulkner's cha racter-his bombastical pride, his despicable meanness. He is a heterogeneous compound of blustering valour and pious execration; of high-flown sentiment and fustian woe. He is alternately a knave, a man of honour, a tender father, and a would-be suicide. These contradictions we pass over;-but when he hoards up a brace of pis. tols as the last remnant of his ruined fortunes, and presents one of them to his daughter as a dernier resort, inviting her to become a partner in his crime, our indignation rises to its height. Such an incident is quite sufficient to condemn the best comedy that ever was written; and we can only wonder at the excessive forbearance of the audience that did not mark this with their especial reprobation. Although we do not agree with the epigram
"When all the blandishments of life are gone,
The coward shrinks to death-the brave live on,"
the conduct of Captain Faulkner in this instance admits of no extenuation.
We now turn to more congenial characters; and, among the most prominent, is Dashall, a London merchant of the new school, who takes his chief clerk out a hunting with him, and plans his speculations while the hounds are at fault. This character, like an attor ney's bill, will bear taxing-though (and here ends the simile), but a little. Unlike the merchants of ancient times, who dwelt in the city, were at business early and late, and wore velvet night-caps in their counting-houses, Dick sees his office but once in three weeks or so; yet, nevertheless, contrives to stake as much money in one month as they did in twelve. The grand secret of all this is kite-flying"Bless'd paper-credit! last and best supply,
That lends corruption lighter wings to fly."
A secret unknown to our simple ancestors, whose transactions were always paid down on the nail, or, as Dan will have it, on the counter. This, however, enables him to make a splash, a term that anciently applied to a horse-pond; but in the modern vocabulary means trading in style-by monopoly, a system of the newest and most improved invention, viz. buying up any commodity, no matter whether stuffs, muffs, tippets, or darning-needles. If their value increase in a ratio with the hobnails, his fortune is made-the contrary, he is not out of pocket, but his creditors.
"If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me," exclaims Macbeth; and Dashall is of the like opinion as regards his fortune. If the juggling fiends of witchcraft bring Birnam Wood to Dunsinane, those of speculation drive Dick into the gazette. And, after losing three thousand pounds by his bet on green peas, his mercantile career is cut short by the liveliness of hops; and he makes a smash-another phrase of modern coinage, which signifies doing the thing handsomely, not by paltry units, tens, and hundreds, but by thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands.
We hardly know whether Dick's account of the fashionable world be strictly correct-whether it possess the Jeremy-Diddler predilection for dining at other people's expense, or if folks of quality will subject themselves to the pompous vulgarity of illiterate opulence to enjoy its good living, or to win its money. We rather think not. "Damme!" says the Duchess," and " Curse me," cries little Miss Swagger-now we never heard a duchess say Damme," nor a sweet little creature about fourteen, in decent company, indulge in this species of juvenile imprecation. We remember a story in Peregrine Pickle, where Peregrine's lady, the ci-devant gipsy girl, having been detected cheating at cards, is guilty of the like inad vertence; and we think Mr. Morton must have remembered it also, for the incident is exactly similar, except in some fundamental particulars, not material to mention.
Toby Allspice is a natural picture of a sober trader, who, by in. dustry, has acquired a fortune, and by folly is about to lose it. He would not (like Malvolio) have greatness thrust upon him-witness how joyfully he casts off the cumbrous trappings of office, but he would have a dash at speculation by way of doubling his riches, and be initiated in fashionable frolics; who, therefore, shall we find more expert to cheat him of his money, and to make him a mountebank, than Dick Dashall? Toby's compunction at parting with his banknotes, and Dick's fidgetty impatience to finger them, form a whimsical contrast. Indeed, we are almost sorry for their restitution. Toby deserved to pay for his folly: his long experience should have saved him from becoming the dupe of an impudent sharper; and his age, from such silly vanities as quizzing-glasses, cropped hair, and pretty women.
Caustic is one of those singular contradictions who can say a barsh thing, but cannot do one-whose tongue will admit of no apology for the follies of mankind, but whose heart can find an extenuation for most of them. If he possess not the patience of philosophy, he has none of its apathy, and, considering who it is that puts his patience to the trial, we can hardly blame him in this respect.
Tangent is the very essence of that mathematical term whence he derives his name. A more provoking eccentric never existed. If Jove appeared to his goddess in a shower of gold, Tangent may vie in singularity with the thunderer, for his disguise was the captivating costume of a grocer's shopman-an apron round his waist, and a parcel under his arm. This was stooping to conquer with a vengeance!
It is hardly possible to mix in society without encountering a Clementina Allspice :
"Gold! yellow, glittering, precious gold!
To th' April day again,"
will at all times introduce ignorant affectation to the most polite as semblies. Clementina's ludicrous attempts to be well-bred, her genteel abhorrence of every thing that appertains to the shop, and her whimsical estimate of elegant breeding, as exemplified in Dick Dashall, who stamps about the room with his hands in his pockets, and tears the ladies' dresses in such a style, are the very haut-ton of vulgar arrogance; while her tender concern for the sorrows of Julia-her reply to the passionate appeals of her friend, that to be ruined is extremely disagreeable, and that the guinea loo-table waits for her with her affectionate injunction to come and see her
when her affairs are settled, are another commentary on that fairweather bird, fashionable friendship,
"That flies the sad roof where the wretched reside."
The other characters are a villanous attorney, and an amorous old woman of quality-a Fungus in petticoats, that takes fire at every spark. Julia Faulkner is a true heroine of crying comedy; exceedingly virtuous and miserable. But we derive consolation from knowing that, according to dramatic rules, her sorrows will not endure much beyond the fourth act.
Munden gave the sarcastic morality of Caustic due force and feeling. Quick, in Toby Allspice, was at once the sober trader and would-be gallant. His assumption of the apron and the quizzing glass of the pomp and circumstance of office, and the matter-of-fact duties of the shop-his droll jumble of sugar, raisins, pickles, and pretty girls, were in the best style of this whimsical and original actor. "But," as Mr. Puff: says, "it is not in the power of language to do justice to Mr. Lewis!-Indeed, he more than merited those repeated bursts of applause which he drew from a most brilliant and judicious audience!" The wildest flights of the most sportive imagination were not above the reach of Lewis. In Tangent, his vivacity and whim rendered the extravagance of the author highly acceptable to the audience.-How comically did he dance the hornpipe in fetters--how completely did he look the sharping stock-jobber-and how glibbly did his tongue rattle away! With what delightful awkwardness did he carry the grocery-what an exquisite quiz he looked in his apron and little round hat! All this merriment, Death," insatiate archer," has laid in the grave.
Mr. Jones's Tangent is better than Mr. Elliston's. It is lighter and more full of fun; and, consequently, reminds us (though feebly) of Lewis's performance. Dowton, in Toby Allspice, is humorous, but somewhat too coarse. He has all the bluntness of the trader, but he wants richness and buoyancy in the lighter scenes with Dick Dashall; where Toby sinks the shop and becomes fashionable and frisky. Quick was delightfully bobbish and uxorious in this part, and winked and chuckled with true amorous glee.
Mrs. Davenport was herself in Lady Sorrel-"the rest who does not know ?"-Mrs. Mattocks has not since been equalled in Miss Clementina Allspice. We have witnessed many subsequent attempts which to record (being failures) would be "extremely disagreeable."
TANGENT.-Black suit, with white under-waistcoat.
TOBY ALLSPICE.-First dress : Old-fashioned brown coat,with brass buttons-figured waistcoat-brown breeches-lamb's-wool white stockings-shoes and buckles-apron and sleeves. Second dress: Sheriff's gown, wand, and chain-white powdered curly wig -ruffles, and bib. Third dress: Old-fashioned browu dress coatpink silk flowered waistcoat-black silk breeches-knee-buckleswhite silk stockings-shoes and buckles-hair powdered.
CAPTAIN FAULKNER.-Black suit eomplete.
CAUSTIC.-Brown old-fashioned suit, with gilt buttons-white silk stockings-shoes and buckles-ruffles and white stock.
DICK DASHALL.-Plum-coloured fashionable surtout-black velvet waistcoat-white pantaloons-boots-round hat. M'QUERY.-Old-fashioned black suit-three-cornered hat. LANDLORD.-Brown coat-red waistcoat-brown kerseymere
SHOPMAN.-Kerseymere breeches-buff waistcoat-short fustian jacket -apron and sleeves-little hat.
TOWN CLERK.-Suit of black.
WAITER.-Blue coat-buff waistcoat-white pantaloons.
NED-Light snuff coloured surtout-striped waistcoat-corderoy breeches-worsted stockings-kersey mere gaiters.
POSTILION. - Buff jacket-light blue waistcoat- leather breeches-top boots-jockey cap.
UNDERTAKER.-A suit of black.
GAOLER.-Light brown coat-red waistcoat-corderoy breeches -blue stockings-shoes and buckles.
SOLICITOR.-A suit of black.
OFFICER.-Blue coat-red waistcoat-blue pantaloons- top
ALLSPICE'S cocked hat.
SERVANT.-Old-fashioned livery, and large
CAUSTIC'S SERVANT.-Livery of white and silver, turned up with light blue.
DASHALL'S SERVANT.-Light brown coat-buff waistcoatwhite pantaloons.
BAILIFF.-Long blue surtout-red waistcoat-blue pantaloons. white muslin, JULIA FAULKNER.- Fashionable dress of and a leghorn bonnet in the third act.
CLEMENTINA ALLSPICE.-Half-mourning fashionable black crape dress, trimmed with white satin.
LADY SORREL.-A blue and white satin striped fashionable dress-turban and feathers, and several flounces on her petticoatsblue satin shoes.
FANNY.-White petticoat-black apron-pink gown-white kerchief-mob or fashionable cap