Before the curtain.
Enter PUFF, SNEER, and DANGLE.
PUFF. Well, we are ready; -- now then for the justices.
Curtain rises -- Justices, Constables, &c. discovered.
SNEER. This, I suppose, is a Sort of senate scene.
PUFF. To be sure -- there has not been one 5 yet.
DANGLE. It is the under-plot, isn't it?
PUFF. Yes. - What, gentlemen, do you mean to go at once to the discovery scene?
JUSTICE. If you please, sir. 10
PUFF. Oh, very well. -- Harkee, I don't choose to say anything more -- but, i'faith, they have mangled my play in a most shocking manner.
DANGLE. It's a great pity!
PUFF. Now, then, Mr. Justice, if you 15 please.
JUSTICE. Are all the volunteers without?
CONSTABLE. They are. Some ten in fetters, and some twenty drunk.
JUST. Attends the youth whose most opprobrious fame And clear convicted crimes have stamped him soldier? 20
CONST. He waits your pleasure; eager to repay The blest reprieve that sends him to the fields Of glory, there to raise his branded hand In honor's cause.
JUST. 'Tis well -- 'tis justice arms him! O! may he now defend his country's laws 25 With half the spirit he has broke them all! If 'tis your worship's pleasure, bid him enter.
CONST. I fly, the herald of your will. Exit Constable.
PUFF. Quick, sir!
SNEER. But, Mr. Puff, I think not only the 30 Justice but the clown seems to talk in as high a style as the first hero among them.
PUFF. Heaven forbid they should not, in a free country! -- Sir, I am not for making slavish distinctions, and giving all the fine language to the 35 upper sort of people.
DANGLE. That's very noble in you, indeed.
Enter Justice's Lady.
PUFF. Now pray mark this scene.1
LADY. Forgive this interruption, good my love; But as I just now passed a pris'ner youth, 40 Whom rude hands hither lead, strange bodings seized My fluttering heart, and to myself I said, And if our Tom had lived, he'd surely been This stripling's height! JUST. Ha! sure some powerful sympathy directs 45 Us both --
Enter Son and Constable.
What is thy name?
SON. My name's Tom Jenkins -- alias have I none -- Though orphaned, and without a friend!
JUST. Thy parents?
SON. My father dwelt in Rochester -- and was, 50 As I have heard -- a fishmonger -- no more.
PUFF. What, Sir, do you leave out the account of your birth, parentage, and education?
SON. They have settled it so, Sir, here.
PUFF. Oh! oh! 55
LADY. How loudly Nature whispers to my heart! Had he no other name?
SON. I've seen a bill Of his signed Tomkins, creditor.
JUST. This does indeed confirm each circumstance The gipsy told! - Prepare! 60
SON. I do.
JUST. No orphan, nor without a friend art thou -- I am thy father; here's thy mother; there Thy uncle -- this thy first cousin, and those Are all your near relations! 65
MOTHER. O ecstasy of bliss!
SON. O most unlooked for happiness!
JUST. O wonderful event!
(They faint alternately in each other's arms.)
PUFF. There, you see relationship, like murder, will out. 70
JUST. Now let's revive -- else were this joy too much! But come -- and we'll unfold the rest within; And thou, my boy, must needs want rest and food. Hence may each orphan hope, as chance directs, To find a father -- where he least expects! 75
PUFF. What do you think of that?
DANGLE. One of the finest discovery scenes I ever saw. -- Why, this under-plot would have made a tragedy itself.
SNEER. Aye, or a comedy either. 80
PUFF. And keeps quite clear, you see, of the other.
Enter Scenemen, taking away the seats.
PUFF. The scene remains, does it?
SCENEMAN. Yes, sir.
PUFF. You are to leave one chair, you know. -- But it is always awkward, in a tragedy, to have 85 you fellows coming in in your playhouse liveries to remove things -- I wish that could be managed better. -- So now for my mysterious yeoman.
Enter a Beefeater.1
BEEFEATER. Perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee.
SNEER. Haven't I heard that line before? 90
PUFF. No, I fancy not -- Where, pray?____________________