« EelmineJätka »
he very extraordinary success he met with from public encouragement made an ample amends, both with respect to atisfaction and omolument, for those private disappointments: for, in the season of 1727-28, appeared his Beggar's Opera, the success of which was not only unprecedented, but almost incredible, It had an uninterrupted run in Lonlon of sixty-three nights in the first season, and was renewed in the ensuing one with equal approbation, It spread into all the great towns of England; was played in many places to the thirtieth and fortieth time, and at Bath and Bristol fifty; made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, in which last place it was acted for twenty-four successive nights, and last of all it was performed at Minorca. Nor was the fame of it confined to the reading and representation alone, for the card-table and the drawing-room shared with the theatre and the closet in this respect; he ladies carried about the favourite songs of it engraven on their fan-mounts, and screens and other pieces of furni ure were decorated with the same. Miss Fenton, who acted Polly, though till then perfectly obscure, became all at once the idol of the town; her pictures were engraven, and sold in great numbers; her life written; books of letters and verses to her published; and pamphlets made of even her very sayings and jests; nay, she herself was received to station, in consequence of which she, before her death, attained the highest rank a female subject can acquire, being married to the Duke of Bolton. In short, the satire of this piece was so striking, so apparent, and so perfectly adapted o the taste of sl1 degrees of people, that it even for that season overthrew the Italian opera, that Dagon of the nobi ity and gentry, which had so long seduced them to idolatry, and which Dennis, by the labours and outeries of a whole ife, and many other writers, hy the force of reason and reflection had in vain endeavoured to drive from the throne -f public taste. Yet the Herculean exploit did this little piece at once bring to its completion, and for some time realled the devotion of the town from an adoration of mere sound and show, to the admiration of, and relish for, true atire and sound understanding. The profits of this piece were so very great, both to the author and Mr. Rich the manager, that it gave rise to a quibble, which became frequent in the mouths of many, viz. That it had made Rich gay, and Gay rich; and we have heard it asserted, that the author's own advantages from it were not less than two thouand pounds. In consequence of this success, Mr. Gay was induced to write a second part to it, which he entitled Polly. But, owing to the disgust subsisting between him and the court, together with the misrepresentations made of im, as having been the author of some disaffected libels and seditious pamphlets, a charge which, however, he warmly lisavows in his preface to this opera, a prohibition of it was sent from the Lord Chamberlain, at the very time when every thing was in readiness for the rehearsal of it. This disappointment, however, was far from being a loss to the uthor; for, as it was afterwards confessed, even by his very best friends, to be in every respect infinitely inferior to he first part, it is more than probable, that it might have failed of that great success in the representation which Mr. ay might promise himself from it; whereas the profits arising from the publication of it afterwards in quarto, in conequence of a very large subscription, which this appearance of persecution, added to the author's great personal interest rocured for him, were at least adequate to what could have accrued to him from a moderate run, had it been repreented. He afterwards new wrote The Wife of Bath, which was the last dramatic piece by him that made its apearance during his life; his opera of Achilles, the comedy of the Distrest Wife, and his farce of The Rehearsal at oatham, being brought on the stage or published after his death. Besides these, Mr. Gay wrote many very valuable icces in verse; among which his Trivia; or, The Art of walking in the Streets of London; though one of his first oetical attempts, is far from being the least considerable; but, as among his dramatic works, his Beggar's Opera did first, and perhaps ever will, stand as an unrivalled masterpiece, so, among his poetical works, his Fables hold the ime rank of estimation: the latter having been almost as universally read as the former was represented, and both qually admired. It would therefore be superfluous here to add any thing further to these self-reared monuments of is fame as a poet. As a man, he appears to have been morally amiable. His disposition was sweet and affable, his mper generous, and his conversation agreeable aud entertaining. He had indeed one foible, too frequently incident to en of great literary abilities, and which subjected him at times to inconveniences, which otherwise he needed not to ave experienced, viz. an excess of indolence, which prevented him from exerting the full force of his lalents. He was, owever, not inattentive to the means of procuring an independence, in which he would probably have succeeded, had ot his spirits been kept down by disappointments. He had, however, saved several thousand pounds at the time of his eath, which happened at the house of the Duke and Dutchess of Queensberry in Burlington Gardens, in December 732. He was interred in Westminster Abbey, and a monement erected to his memory, at the expense of his afore entioned noble benefactors, with an inscription expressive of their regards and his own deserts, and an epitaph in erse by Mr. Pope; but, as both of them are still in existence, and free of access to every one, it would be impernent to repeat either of them in this place.
By John Gay, Acted at Lincoln's Inn fields. The great success of this piece has rendered its merits sufficiently nown. It was written in ridicule of the musical Italian drama, was first offered to Cibber and his brethren at Drury ane, and by them rejected. Of the origin and progress of this new species of composition, Mr. Spencer has given a lation in the words of Pope: "Dr. Swift had been observing once to Mr. Gay, what an odd pretty sort of thing a ewgate pastoral might make. Gay was inclined to try at such a thing for some time; but afterwards thought it would • better to write a comedy on the same plan. This was what gave rise to The Beggar's Opera. He began on it; id when first he mentioned it to Swift, the doctor did not much like the project. As he carried it on, he showed to both of us, and we now and then gave a correction, or a word or two of advice; but it was wholly of his own riting. When it was done, neither of us thought it would succeed. We showed it to Congreve, who, after reading over, said, it would either take greatly, or be damned confoundedly. We were all at the first night of it, in very eat uncertainty of the event, till we were very much encouraged, by overhearing the Duke of Argyle, who sat in the ext box to us, say, 'It will do; it must do; I see it in the eyes of them.' This was a good while before the first
t was over, and so gave us ease soon for that Duke (besides his own good taste) has a particular knack, as any one ving, in discovering the taste of the public. He was quite right in this, as usual; the good-nature of the audience peared stronger and stronger every act, and ended in a clamour of applause." Many persons, however, have decried is piece; written, and even preached in the pulpit, against it, from mistaking the design of it; which was, not to commend the characters of highwaymen, pickpockets, and strumpets, as examples to be followed, but to show that e principles and behaviour of many persons in what is called high life were no better than those of highwaymen, ieves, sharpers, and strumpets. Nor can these characters be seductive to persons in low life, when they see that they ust all expect to be hanged. 'Tis what we must all come to, says one of them; and it is a kind of miracle, if they utique six months in their evil courses. This fellow, says Peachum, if he were to live these six months, would never me to the gallows with any grace. The women of the town are far from being made desirable objects; since they e all shown to he pickpockets and shoplifters, as well as ladies of pleasure; and so treacherous, that even those who em fondest of Macheath, at the very time they are caressing him, are beckoning behind his back to the thief-taker d constables to lay hold of him. Sir Robert Walpole was frequently the subject of Mr. Gay's satire. The minister wever, was not deterred from attending the performance of the poet's Beggar's Opera. Being in the stage boxes at first representation, a most universal encore attended the following air of Lockit, and all eyes were directed on the inister at the instant of its being repeated:
When you censure the age,
Be cautious and sage,
Lest the courtiers offended should be:
If you mention vice or bribe
'Tis so pat to all the tribe,
r Robert, observing the pointed manner in which the audience applied the last line to him, parried the thrust by coring it with his single voice; and thus not only blunted the poetical shaft, but gained a general huzza from the dience.
Through all the employments of life,
holden to women, than all the professions be sides.
Tis woman that seduces all mankind;
very eyes can cheat; when most she's kind
Peach. But make haste to Newgate, b and let my friends know what I intend; I love to make them easy, one way or anothe A lawyer is an honest employment, so is Filch. When a gentleman is long kept i mine. Like me too, he acts in a double ca- suspense, penitence may break his spirit pacity, both against rogues, and for them; after. Besides, certainty gives a man a g for is but fitting, that we should protect air upon his trial, and makes him risk anoth and encourage cheats, since we live by them. without fear or scruple. But I'll away, 'tis a pleasure to be a messenger of com to friends in affliction.
soften the evidence.
Filch. Sir, Black Moll has sent word, her Peach. But it is now high time to trial comes on in the afternoon, and she hopes about me, for a decent execution against you will order matters so as to bring her off. sessions. I hate a lazy rogue, by whom Peach. Why, as the wench is very active and industrious, you may satisfy her that I'll of the gang. [Reading] Crook-finger'd J can get nothing till he is hanged. A reg -a year and a half in the serviceFilch. Tom Gagg, sir, is found guilty. me see, how much the stock owes to his Peach. A lazy dog! When I took him, dustry;-One, two, three, four, five the time before, I told him what he would watches, and seven silver ones.. A mig come to, if he did not mend his band. This clean-handed fellow! sixteen snuff-boxes, is death, without reprieve. I may venture to of them of true gold, six dozen of hand book him; [Writes] for Tom Gagg, forty chiefs, four silver-hilted swords, half-a-do pounds 1). Let Betty Sly know, that I'll save of shirts, three tie-perriwigs, and a piece her from transportation, for I can get more broadcloth. Considering these are only by her staying in England.
Filch. Betty hath brought more goods to our lock this year, than any five of the gang; and, in truth, 'tis pity to lose so good a cus
fruits of his leisure hours, I don't know prettier fellow; for no man alive hath am engaging presence of mind upon the road Wai Dreary, alias Brown Will-an irreg dog; who hath an underhand way of disposing Peach. If none of the gang takes her off2), his goods 1); I'll try him only for a sess she may, in the common course of business, or two longer, upon his good behavio live a twelvemonth longer. I love to let wo- Harry Paddington men 'scape. A good sportsman always lets rascal, without the least genius! that fell a poor pelly-lar the hen-partridges fly, because the breed of though he were to live these six months, the game depends upon them. Besides, here never come to the gallows with any cred the law allows us no reward: there is nothing Slippery Sam-he goes off the next sessi to be got by the death of women-except our for the villain hath the impudence to h views of following his trade as a tailor, whi Filch. Without dispute, she is a fine wo- he calls an honest employment,-Matman! 'Twas to her I was obliged for my Mint-listed not above a month ago; & p education. To say a bold word, she has mising, sturdy fellow, and diligent in his wa trained up more young fellows to the busi- somewhat too hold and hasty, and may ness, than the gaming-table. Peach. Truly, Filch, thy observation is not cut himself short by murdergood contributions on the public, if he d right. We and the surgeons) are more be- Tipple-a guzzling, soaking sot, who is 1) Blood money, as it is called, or the sum paid to any ways too drunk to stand himself, or to ma one for the conviction of a person who has committed others stand 3) a cart +) is absolutely necess?
a robbery. Peachum's character has, unfortunately, but too many traits of what is done every day in London. 2) Marries her.
5) The bodies of those hanged for murder, are given over to the surgeons for dissection.
1) Sells his stolen goods to other people.
☛ him.-Robin of Bagshot, alias Gorgon, What business bath he to keep company as Bluff Bob, alias Carbuncle, alia's with lords and gentlemen? he should leave ob Bootythem to prey upon one another.
Enter MRS. PEACHUM.
Peach. Upon Polly's account! what a plague doth the woman mean?-Upon Polly's
Mrs. P. What of Bob Booty, husband? I account!
Mrs. P. Captain Macheath is very fond of
Mrs. P. If I have any skill in the ways of Peach. I have set his name down in the women, I am sure Polly thinks him a very ck list, that's all, my dear; he spends his pretty man.
= among women, and, as soon as his mo- Peach. And what then? you would not be y is gone, one or other of the ladies will so mad as to have the wench marry him! g him for the reward, and there's forty Gamesters and highwaymen are, generally, very good to their mistresses, but they are very devils to their wives.
unds lost to us for ever!
Mrs. P. But if Polly should be in love, how should we help her, or how can she help herself?-Poor girl, I'm in the utmost concern
Mrs. P. You know, my dear, I never meddle
AIR. MRS. PEACHUM.
ny wench Venus' girdle wear,
AIR. MRS. PEACHUM.
If love the virgin's heart invade,
She's what I dare not name.
in our way of business, is as profitable as at Peach. Lookye, wife, a handsome wench, the bar of a Temple coffee-house, who looks really, husband, you should not be too upon it as her livelihood, to grant every li1-hearted, for you never had a finer, bra-berty but one. My daughter to me should set of men than at present. We have be like a court lady to a minister of state, a had a murder among them all these seven key to the whole gang. Married! if the af ths; and truly, my dear, that is a great fair is not already done, I'll terrify her from sing. it, by the example of our neighbours. 'each. What a dickens is the woman Mrs. P. Mayhap, my dear, you may injure ys whimpering about murder for? No the poor girl: she loves to imitate the fine tleman is ever looked upon the worse for ladies, and she may only allow the captain ng a man in his own defence; and if bu-liberties, in the view of interest.
ss cannot be carried on without it, what Peach. But 'tis your duty, my dear, to ld you have a gentleman do? so, my dear, warn the girl against her ruin, and to instruct :done upon this subject. Was captain her how to make the most of her beauty. I'll heath here, this morning, for the bank-go to her this moment, and sift her. In the 's he left with you last week? mean time, wife, rip out the coronets and Trs. P. Yes, my dear; and though the marks of these dozen of cambric handkerhath stopped payment, he was so cheer-chiefs, for I can dispose of them this afterand so agreeable! Sure,, there is not a noon to a chap in the city. [E.xit.
gentleman upon the road 1) than the Mrs. P. Never was a man more out of the ain; if he comes from Bagshot, at any way in an argument than my husband. Why onable hour, he hath promised to make must our Polly, forsooth, differ from her sex, this evening, with Polly, me, and Bob and love only her husband? and why must ty, at a party at quadrille. Pray, my dear, Polly's marriage, contrary to all observation, e captain rich? make her the less followed by other men? each. The captain keeps too good com- All men are thieves in love, and like a woever to grow rich. Marybone and the man the better for being another's property. colate-houses are his undoing. The man proposes to get money by play, should the education of a fine gentleman, and rained up to it from his youth.
rs. P. Really, I am sorry, upon Polly's unt, the captain hath not more discretion. that is very difficult to obey their summons; and ladies, as well as the weaker part of the male sex, are much more inclined to full, especially when they order you to give your "money" or your "life."
Formerly, those cast for death, were conveyed in a cart, all through the streets of London, from Newgate Frison to Tybura; where they were hanged; but now
AIR. MRS. PEACHUM.
A maid is like the golden ore
Mrs. P. Come hither, Filch.—I am as fond
they are "launched into eternity" before the debtors' of this child, as though my mind misgave me
The were my own. He hath as fine a hand
at picking a pocket as a woman, and is as But when once pluck'd 'tis no longer alluring, nimble-fingered as a juggler. If an unlucky To Covent Garden 'tis sent (as yet sweel), session does not cut the rope of thy life, There fades, and shrinks, and grows past al pronounce, boy, thou wilt be a great man in enduring, history. Where was your post last night, my boy?
Rots, stinks, and dies, and is trod under fee Peach. You know, Polly, I am not agains your toying and trifling with a customer, the way of business, or to get out a sear
Filch. I plied at the opera, madam; and, considering 'twas neither dark nor rainy, so that there was no great hurry in getting chairs and coaches, made a tolerable hand or so; but if I find out that you have play the fool, and are married, you jade you, f on't-These seven handkerchiefs, madam.
Mrs. P. Coloured ones, I see. They are of cut your throat, hussy. Now, you know m sure sale from our warehouse at Redriff, among the seamen.
Filch. And this snuff-box.
Mrs. P. Set in gold! a pretty encourage ment this to a young beginner!
Enter MRS. PEACHUM, in a very great Passira
Our Polly is a sad slut! nor heeds what have taught her,
Filch. I had a fair tug at a charming gold watch. Plague take the tailors, for making wonder any man alive will ever rear a the fobs so deep and narrow!-it stuck by For she must the way, and I was forced to make my escape under a coach. Really, madam, I fear With scarfs and I shall be cut off in the flower of my youth, so that, every now and then, since I was And when she's pumped, I have thoughts of taking up and going to sea.
As men should
have both hoods and go and hoops to swell her pr stays, and gloves and face, she will have men beside, dress'd with care and cost, tempting, fine, and gay. serve a cucumber, she f herself away.
Mrs. P. You should go to Hockley-in-thehole 1), and to Marybone, child, to learn va- You baggage! you hussy! you inconside lour; these are the schools that have bred so jade! had you been hanged it would not many brave men. I thought, boy, by this vexed me; for that might have been time, thou hadst lost fear as well as shame. misfortune; but to do such a mad thing Poor lad! how little does he know yet of the choice!-The wench is married, husband Old Bailey! For the first fact, I'll insure thee Peach. Married! the captain is a bold m from being hanged; and going to sea, Filch, and will risk any thing for money: to be will come time enough, upon a sentence of he believes her a fortune. Do you think a transportation. But, hark you, my lad, don't mother and I should have lived comfor tell me a lie; for you know I hate a liar: so long together if ever we had been ma Do you know of any thing that hath passed baggage! between captain Macheath and our Polly? Filch. I beg you, madam, don't ask me; for I must either tell a lie to you, or to miss Polly; for I promised her I would not tell.
Mrs. P. I knew she was always a pro slut, and now the wench hath played the and married, because, forsooth, she would like the gentry! Can you support the pense of a husband, hussy, in gaming drinking? have you money enough to Filch. I shall lead a sad life with miss on the daily quarrels of man and wife ab Polly, if ever she comes to know I told you. who shall squander most? If you must Besides, I would not willingly forfeit my own married, could you introduce nobody honour, by betraying any body.
Mrs. P. But when the honour of our family is concerned.
our family but a highwayman? Why, t foolish jade, thou wilt be as ill used and much neglected as if thou hadst married lord!
Mrs. P. Yonder comes my husband and Polly. Come, Filch, you shall go with me into my own room, and tell me the whole story. I'll give thee a glass of a most delicious cor- Peach. Let not your anger, my dear, b dial that I keep for my own drinking. [Exeunt. through the rules of decency; for the cap Enter PEACHUM and POLLY. looks upon himself, in the military capa Polly. I know as well as any of the fine as a gentleman by his profession. Bes ladies how to make the most of myself, and what he hath already, I know he is in b of my man too. A woman knows how to be way of getting or of dying; and both t mercenary, though she hath never been in a ways, let me tell you, are court or at an assembly. We have it in our chances for a wife. Tell me, hussy, natures, papa. If I allow captain Macheath ruined or no? some trifling liberties, I have this watch and Mrs. P. With Polly's fortune she mu other visible marks of his favour to show for very well have gone off to a person ol it. A girl who cannot grant some things, and stinction: yes, that you might, you pouting refuse what is most material, will make but Peach. What! is the wench dumb? spes a poor hand of her beauty, and soon be or I'll make you plead by squeezing thrown upon the common. answer from you. Are you really bound to him, or are you only upon liking?
Virgins are like the fair flow'r in its lustre,
most exce are 100
Polly. Oh! Mrs. P. How the mother is to be p who hath handsome daughters! Locks, bars, and lectures of morality, are nothing
em; they break through them all; they have s much pleasure in cheating a father and other, as in cheating at cards.
Peach. Why, Polly, I shall soon know if ou are married, by Macheath's keeping from ir house.
in love be controll'd by advice? Vill cupid our mothers obey?
I like a ship in storms was toss'd,
O joy beyond expression!
I ask no more;
My all's in my possession."
Peach. I hear customers in t'other room;
ough my heart were as frozen as ice, it his flame 'twould have melted away. 'hen he kiss'd me, so sweetly he press'd, was so sweet that I must have complied, 50 talk with them, Polly; but come again as soon as they are gone. But hark ye, child, I thought if both safest and best if 'tis the gentleman who was here yesterday o marry for fear you should chide. about the repeating watch, say you can't get Mrs. P. Then all the hopes of our family intelligence of it till to-morrow, for I lent it gone for ever and ever! to Sukey Straddle, to make a figure with toPeach. And Macheath may bang his father night at a tavern in Drury-lane. If t'other 1 mother-in-law, in hopes to get into their gentleman calls for the silver-hilted sword, ighter's fortune. you know Beetle-browed Jemmy hath it on, Polly. I did not marry him (as 'tis the and he doth not come from Tunbridge till ion), coolly and deliberately, for honour Tuesday night, so that it cannot be had till money-but I love him. then. [Exit Polly] Dear wife, be a little paMrs. P. Love him! worse and worse! I cified; don't let your passion run away with ught the girl had been better bred. Oh your senses: Polly, I grant you, hath done a band! husband! her folly makes me mad! rash thing.
head swims! I'm distracted! I can't sup- Mrs. P. If she had had only an intrigue with t myself-Oh! [Faints. the fellow, why the very best families have 'each. See, wench, to what a condition excused and huddled up a frailty of that sort, have reduced your poor mother! A glass Tis marriage, husband, that makes it a blemish. cordial this instant! How the poor woman Peach. But money, wife, is the true fullers's it to heart! [Polly goes out, and re-earth for reputations; there is not a spot or 18 with it] Ab, hussy! now this is the stain but what it can take out. I tell you, comfort your mother has left. wife, I can make this match turn to our ad
'olly. Give her another glass, sir; my vantage. ama drinks double the quantity whenever Mrs. P. I am very sensible, husband, that is in this way. This, you see, fetches her. captain Macheath is worth money, but I am Trs. P. The girl shows such readiness, and in doubt whether he hath not two or three nuch concern, that I almost could find in wives already, and then, if he should die in heart to forgive her. a session or two, Polly's dower would come into dispute.
Polly, you might have toy'd and kiss'd:
!rs. P. Not with a highwayman-you sorry
Peach. That indeed is a point which ought to be considered. The lawyers are bitter enemies to those in our way; they don't care that any body should get a clandestine livelihood but themselves.
Polly. Twas only Nimming Ned: he brought in a damask window-curtain, a hoop-pettieach. A word with you, wife. 'Tis no coat, a pair of silver candlesticks, a perriwig, - thing for a wench to take a man with- and one silk stocking, from the fire that hapconsent of parents. You know 'tis the pened last night. ty of woman, my dear!
Peach. There is not a fellow that is cleverer Irs. P. Yes, indeed, the sex is frail; but in his way, and saves1) more goods out of first time a woman is frail, she should be the fire, than Ned. But now, Polly, to your ewhat nice methinks, for then or never affair; for matters must not be as they are. er time to make her fortune: after that You are married then, it seems? hath nothing to do but to guard herself Polly. Yes, sir. 1 being found out, and she may do what pleases.
each. Make yourself a little easy; I have ought shall soon set all matters again to ts. Why so melancholy, Polly? since t is done cannot be undone, we must enour to make the best of it.
rs. P. Well, Polly, as far as one woman forgive another, I forgive thee. Your ris too fond of you, hussy.
Peach. And how do you propose to live, child?
Polly. Like other women, sir; upon the industry of my husband.
Mrs. P. What! is the wench turn'd fool? a highwayman's wife, like a soldier's, bath as little of his pay as of his company.
Peach. And had not you the common views of a gentlewoman in your marriage, Polly? Polly. I don't know what you mean, sir. Peach. Of a jointure, and of being a
lly. Then all my sorrows are at an end. rs. P. A mighty likely speech in troth widow. wench who is just married!