« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
observes, that it renders the affair very doubtful. In fact, Steevens, as is noticed above, knew the story to be a falsehood from the beginning; and Mr. Malone, of whom I enquired the reason of his coadjutor's disgraceful pertinacity, wrote to me in reply that Steevens merely held out "because the discovery of the forgery had been made by another." That Steevens believed a word of it, he never thought for a moment.
After the complete detection of this clumsy fabrication, by Mr. Malone, it might reasonably be hoped that the public would have heard no more of it: but who can sound the depths of folly! Mr. Weber, the editor of Ford, has thought proper to repeat it, and with an hardihood of assertion which his profound ignorance cannot excuse, to affirm, in addition, that the enmity of Jonson to Ford, (on which Macklin's forgery is built,) is "corroborated by indisputable documents!" One of them (the only one, indeed, with which he condescends to favour his readers) is the quotation produced from Shirley by Steevens, (for the mischievous purpose of misleading some heedless gull,) which Mr. Weber pronounces, on his own knowledge, "to be evidently pointed at our author's insulting ode."
To attempt to convince a person, who has not understanding enough for reason to operate upon, is, as learned authors utter, to wash a tile; to others it may be just sufficient to say, that the "ode" was published near two years after the verses to which it is here affirmed to have given birth-This is going beyond Mr. Steevens, and may serve to shew how dangerous it is for stupidity to meddle with cunning, or to venture on gratuitous falsehoods to recover the credit of an exploded slander.
of all fictions," is a miserable piece of doggrel, a wretched cento, which would not at this time be admitted into the corner of a newspaper. Will the reader have a specimen of this "combined effort of taste and learning," to which the talents of the author of the Man of the World were "so unequal?" Let him take, then, the first stanza :—
"Says Ben to Tom, the Lover's stole,
'Tis much too good for Ford!"
Euge Poeta! The splendour of the composition so effectually dazzled the critics, that the compliment paid to Shakspeare by "the envious Ben" luckily escaped their notice. It would have made Mr. Malone miserable.
TO THE READER.
F thou be such, I make thee my patron, and dedicate the piece to thee: if not so much, would I had been at the charge of thy better literature. Howsoever, if thou canst but spell, and join my sense, there is more hope of thee, than of a hundred fastidious impertinents, who were there present the first day, yet never made piece of their prospect the right way. What did they come for, then? thou wilt ask me. I will as punctually answer: To see, and to be seen: to make a general muster of themselves in their clothes of credit; and possess the stage against the play: to dislike all, but mark nothing. And by their confidence of rising between the acts, in oblique lines, make affidavit to the whole house, of their not understanding one scene. Armed with this prejudice, as the stage-furniture, or arras-clothes, they were there, as spectators, away: for the faces in the hangings, and they, beheld alike. So I wish they may do ever; and do trust myself and my book, rather to thy rustic candour, than all the pomp of their pride, and solemn ignorance to boot. Fare thee well, and fall to. Read.
HE lord Frampul, a noble gentleman, well educated, and bred a scholar in Oxford, was married young, to a virtuous gentlewoman, Sylly's daughter of the South, whose worth, though he truly enjoyed, he never could rightly value; but, as many green husbands, (given over to their extravagant delights, and some peccant humours of their own,) occasioned in his over loving wife so deep a melancholy, by his leaving her in the time of her lying-in of her second daughter, she having brought him only two daughters, Frances and Lætitia: and (out of her hurt fancy) interpreting that to be a cause of her husband's coldness in affection, her not being blest with a son, took a resolution with herself, after her month's time, and thanksgiving rightly in the church, to quit her home, with a vow never to return, till by reducing her lord, she could bring a wished happiness to the family.
He in the mean time returning, and hearing of this departure of his lady, began, though over-late, to resent the injury he had done her: and out of his cock-brain'd resolution, entered into as solemn a quest of her. Since when, neither of them had been heard of. But the eldest daughter, Frances, by the title of lady Frampul, enjoyed the estate, her sister being lost young, and is the sole relict of the family. Here begins our Comedy.
This lady, being a brave, bountiful lady, and enjoying this free and plentiful estate, hath an ambitious disposition to be esteemed the mistress of many servants, but loves none. And hearing of a famous New-inn, that is kept by a merry host, call'd Goodstock, in Barnet, invites some lords and gentlemen to wait on her thither, as well to see the fashions of the place, as to make themselves merry, with the accidents on the by. It happens there is a melancholy gentleman, one master Lovel, hath been lodged there some days before in the inn, who (unwilling to be seen) is surprised by the lady, and invited by Prudence, the lady's chambermaid, who is elected governess of the sports in the inn for that day, and install'd their sovereign. Lovel is persuaded by the host, and yields to the lady's invitation, which concludes the first act. Having revealed his quality before to the host.
In this, Prudence and her lady express their anger conceiv'd at the tailor, who had promised to make Prudence a new suit, and bring it home, as on the eve, against this day. But he failing of his word, the lady had commanded a standard of her own best apparel to be brought down; and Prudence is so fitted. The lady being put in mind, that she is there alone without other company of women, borrows, by the advice of Prue, the host's son of the house, whom they dress, with the host's consent, like a lady, and send out the coachman with the empty coach, as for a kinswoman of her ladyship's, mistress Lætitia Sylly, to bear her company: who attended with his nurse, an old chare-woman in the inn, drest odly by the host's counsel, is believed to be a lady of quality, and so receiv'd, entertain'd, and love made to her by the young lord Beaufort, &c. In the mean time the Fly of the inn is discover'd to colonel Glorious, with the militia of the house, below the stairs, in the drawer, tapster, chamberlain, and hostler, inferior officers; with the coachman Trundle, Ferret, &c. And the preparation is made to the lady's design upon Lovel, his upon her, and the sovereign's upon both.
Here begins the Epitasis, or business of the play.
Lovel, by the dexterity and wit of the sovereign of the sports, Prudence, having two hours assign'd him of free colloquy, and love-making to his mistress, one after dinner, the other after supper, the court being set, is demanded by the lady Frampul, what love is: as doubting if there were any such power, or no. To whom he, first by definition, and after by argument, answers; proving and describing the effects of love so vively, as she who had derided the name of love before, hearing his discourse, is now so taken both with the man and his matter, as she confesseth herself enamour'd of him, and, but for the ambition she hath to enjoy the other hour, had presently declared herself: which gives both him and the spectators occasion to think she yet dissembles, notwithstanding the payment of her kiss, which he celebrates. And the court dissolves, upon news brought of a new lady, a newer coach, and a new coachman call'd Barnaby.
The house being put into a noise, with the rumour of this new lady, and there being drinking below in the court, the colonel, sir Glorious, with Bat Burst, a broken citizen, and Hodge Huffle, his champion; she falls into their hands, and being attended but with one footman, is uncivilly entreated by them, and a quarrel commenced, but is rescued by the valour of Lovel; which beheld by the lady Frampul, from the window, she is invited up for safety, where coming, and conducted by the host, her gown is first discovered to be the same with the whole suit,
which was bespoken for Prue, and she herself, upon examination, found to be Pinnacia Ştuff, the tailor's wife, who was wont to be preoccupied in all his customers' best clothes, by the footman her husband. They are both condemned and censured, she stript like a doxey, and sent home a-foot. In the interim, the second hour goes on, and the question, at suit of the lady Frampul, is changed from love to valour; which ended, he receives his second kiss, and, by the rigour of the sovereign, falls into a fit of melancholy, worse, or more desperate than the first.
Is the catastrophe, or knitting up of all, where Fly brings word to the host of the lord Beaufort's being married privately in the New Stable, to the supposed lady, his son; which the host receives as an omen of mirth; but complains that Lovel is gone to bed melancholic, when Prudence appears drest in the new suit, applauded by her lady, and employed to retrieve Lovel. The host encounters them, with this relation of Lord Beaufort's marriage, which is seconded by the lord Latimer, and all the servants of the house. In this while, lord Beaufort comes in, and professes it, calls for his bed and bride-bowl to be made ready; the host forbids both, shews whom he hath married, and discovers him to be his son, a boy. The lord bridegroom confounded, the nurse enters like a frantic bedlamite, cries out on Fly, says she is undone in her daughter, who is confessed to be the lord Frampul's child, sister to the other lady, the host to be their father, she his wife. He finding his children, bestows them one on Lovel, the other on the lord Beaufort, the inn upon Fly, who had been a gypsy with him; offers a portion with Prudence, for her wit, which is refused; and she taken by the lord Latimer, to wife; for the crown of her virtue and goodness. And all are contented.