British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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ACT II

SCENE I

BAYES, JOHNSON, and SMITH.

BAYES. Now, sir, because I'll do nothing here that ever was done before, instead of beginning with a scene that discovers something of the plot, I begin this play with a whisper.1

SMITH. Umph! very new, indeed. 5

BAYES. Come, take your seats. Begin, sirs.

Enter Gentleman-Usher and Physician.

PHYSICIAN. Sir, by your habit, I should guess you to be the gentleman-usher of this sumptuous place.

USHER. And by your gate and fashion I should almost suspect you rule the healths of both our noble kings, 10 under the notion of physician.

PHYSICIAN. You hit my function right.

USHER. And you, mine.

PHYSICIAN. Then let's embrace.

USHER. Come. 15

PHYSICIAN. Come.

JOHNSON. Pray, sir, who are those so very civil persons?

BAYES. Why, Sir, the gentleman-usher and physi

cian of the two kings of Brentford. 20

JOHNSON. But, pray then, how comes it to pass that they know one another no better?

BAYES. Phoo! that's for the better carrying on of the plot.

JOHNSON. Very well. 25

PHYSICIAN. Sir, to conclude,

SMITH. What, before he begins?

BAYES. No, sir; you must know they had been talking of this a pretty while without.

SMITH. Where? In the tiring-room? 30

BAYES. Why, aye, sir. -- He's so dull! -- Come, speak again.

PHYSICIAN. Sir, to conclude, the place you fill has more than amply exacted the talents of a wary pilot, and

all these threat'ning storms which, like impregnate 35
clouds, hover o'er our heads, will (when they once are grasped but by the eye of reason) melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.

BAYES. Pray, mark that allegory. Is not that

good? 40

JOHNSON. Yes; that grasping of a storm with the eye is admirable.

PHYSICIAN. But yet some rumors great are stirring; and if Lorenzo should prove false (which none but the

great gods can tell), you then perhaps would find 45
that -- (Whispers.)

BAYES. Now he whispers.

USHER. Alone, do you say?

PHYSICIAN. No; attended with the noble -- (Whispers.)

BAYES. Again. 50

USHER. Who -- he in gray?

PHYSICIAN. Yes; and at the head of -- (Whispers.)

BAYES. Pray, mark.

USHER. Then, sir, most certain, 'twill in time appear

These are the reasons that have moved him to't: 55
First, he -- (Whispers.)

BAYES. Now the other whispers.

USHER. Secondly, they -- (Whispers.)

BAYES. At it still.

USHER. Thirdly, and lastly, both he and they -- 60
(Whispers.)

BAYES. Now they both whisper.

Exeunt whispering.

-- Now, gentlemen, pray tell me true, and without flattery, is not this a very odd beginning of a play?

JOHNSON. In troth, I think it is, sir. But why

two kings of the same place? 65

BAYES. Why? because it's new, and that's it I aim at. I despise your Jonson2 and Beaumont, that borrowed all they writ from nature. I am for fetching it purely out of my own fancy, I.

SMITH. But what think you, sir, of sir John 70
Suckling?

BAYES. By gad, I am a better poet than he.

SMITH. Well, sir; but pray, why all this whispering?

BAYES. Why, sir (besides that it is new, as I 75
told you before), because they are supposed to be politicians; and matters of state ought not to be divulged.

SMITH. But then, sir, why --

BAYES. Sir, if you'll but respite your curi­ 80 osity till the end of the fifth act, you'll find it a piece of patience not ill recompensed. (Goes to the door.)

JOHNSON. How dost thou like this, Frank? Is it not just as I told thee?

SMITH. Why, I did never, before this, see 85
anything in nature, and all that (as Mr. Bayes says), so foolish but I could give some guess at what moved the fop to do it; but this, I confess, does go beyond my reach.

JOHNSON. It is all alike. Mr. Wintershul390
has informed me of this play already. And I'll tell thee, Frank, thou shalt not see one scene here worth one farthing, or like anything thou canst imagine

____________________
ACTS II-V] As in Act I, asterisks continue to indicate the 'large additions' of new material in Q3, but illustration of other textual variants between Q1 and Q3 is discontinued. (See textual notes.)
1
In Mrs. Aphra Behn's The Amorous Prince ( 1671) 'all the chief commands and directions are given in whispers.' ( Key, 1704.) Summers notes various other similar passages.
2
Dryden disparages Jonson in the Epilogue to The Conquest of Granada, Part II.
3
William Wintershul ( Wintersel, Wintershal, and other spellings), a celebrated veteran actor had played in The Conquest of Granada and many other plays of Dryden.

-48-

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