British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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To lead me through this twilight of my mind?

For as bright day with black approach of night 105
Contending, makes a doubtful, puzzling light, So does my honor and my love together
Puzzle me so, I can resolve for neither.

(Goes out hopping with one boot on, and the other off.)

JOHNSON. By my troth, sir, this is as difficult a

combat as ever I saw, and as equal; for 'tis 110
determined on neither side.

BAYES. Aye, is't not now, 'y gad, ha? For to go off hip hop, hip hop, upon this occasion, is a thousand times better than any conclusion in the world,

'y gad. 115

*JOHNSON. Indeed, Mr. Bayes, that hip hop in this place, as you say, does a very great deal.

*BAYES. O, all in all, sir; they are these little things that mar or set you off a play; as I remember once,

in a play of mine, I set off a scene,1 'y gad, 120
beyond expectation, only with a petticoat and the belly-ache.

*SMITH. Pray, how was that, sir?

*BAYES. Why, sir, I contrived a petticoat to be

brought in upon a chair (nobody knew how) 125
into a prince's chamber, whose father was not to see it, that came in by chance.

*JOHNSON. God's my life, that was a notable contrivance, indeed.

*SMITH. Aye; but, Mr. Bayes, how could you 130 contrive the belly-ache?

*BAYES. The easiest i'th' world, 'y gad: I'll tell you how: I made the prince sit down upon the petticoat, no more than so, and pretended to his father

that he had just then got the belly-ache; 135
whereupon his father went out to call a physician, and his man ran away with the petticoat.

*SMITH. Well, and what followed upon that?

*BAYES. Nothing, no earthly thing, I vow to gad.

*JOHNSON. O' my word, Mr. Bayes, there you 140
hit it.

*BAYES. Yes, it gave a world of content. And then I paid 'em away besides, for I made 'em all talk bawdy -- ha, ha, ha! -- beastly, downright baw

dy upon the stage, 'y gad -- ha, ha, ha! -- but 145
with an infinite deal of wit, that I must say.

*JOHNSON. That, aye that, we know well enough, can never fail you.

*BAYES. No, 'y gad, it can't. Come, bring in the

dance. Exit to call 'em. 150

*SMITH. Now, the devil take thee for a silly, confident, unnatural, fulsome rogue!

Enter BAYES and Players.

*BAYES. Pray dance well, before these gentlemen. You are commonly so lazy, but you should be light

and easy, tah, tah, tah. 155

(All the while they dance, Bayes puts 'em out with teaching 'em.)

Well, gentlemen, you'll see this dance, if I am not deceived, take very well upon the stage, when they are perfect in their motions, and all that.

SMITH. I don't know how 'twill take, sir, but I

am sure you sweat hard for't. 160

BAYES. Aye, sir, it costs me more pains and trouble to do these things than almost the things are worth.

SMITH. By my troth, I think so, sir.

BAYES. Not for the things themselves, for I 165
could write you, sir, forty of 'em in a day; but, 'y gad, these players are such dull persons that, if a man be not by 'em upon every point and at every turn, 'y gad, they'll mistake you, sir, and spoil all.

Enter a Player.

What, is the funeral ready? 170

PLAYER. Yes, sir.

BAYES. And is the lance filled with wine?

PLAYER. Sir, 'tis just now a-doing.

BAYES. Stay, then, I'll do it myself.

SMITH. Come, let's go with him. 175

BAYES. A match! But, Mr. Johnson, 'y gad, I am not like other persons; they care not what becomes of their things, so they can but get money for 'em. Now, 'y gad, when I write, if it be not just as it should be in every circumstance, to every par- 180 ticular, 'y gad, I am no more able to endure it; I am not myself, I'm out of my wits, and all that; I'm the strangest person in the whole world. For what care I for money? I write for reputation. Exeunt.


ACT IV

SCENE I

BAYES and the two Gentlemen.

BAYES. Gentlemen, because I would not have any two things alike in this play, the last act beginning with a witty scene of mirth, I make this to begin with a funeral.2

SMITH. And is that all your reason for it, Mr. 5
Bayes?

BAYES. No, sir, I have a precedent for it besides. A person of honor, and a scholar, brought in his funeral just so; and he was one (let me tell you) that

knew as well what belonged to a funeral as any 10
man in England, 'y gad.

JOHNSON. Nay, if that be so, you are safe.

BAYES. 'Y gad, but I have another device -- a frolic, which I think yet better than all this; not

for the plot or characters (for in my heroic plays, 15

____________________
1
The opening scene of Act IV of Dryden's The Assignation; or, Love in Nunnery ( 1672). ( Key)
2
According to the Key, Colonel Henry Howard's unpublished play The United Kingdoms 'began with a funeral; and had also two kings in it.'

-57-

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