« AnteriorContinuar »
ples of purse-proud citizens, and would be gentlemen, should be numerous enough in the eastward division of the metropolis; and it is hardly to be imagined that, with such, the vocation of the muses, or the servants of the drama, would meet with much patronage or respect. Still less is it to be believed that this irritabile genus, by whom even the unquestionable prerogatives of rank and station are hardly acknowledged, should endure with content, or tolerate with equanimity, the overbearing insolence of city-pride and pretensions. Accordingly a war was immediately commenced between the two contending powers of the stage and the cityin the course of which the latter were, without fear and without scruple, held up to ridicule, as ignorant, uxorious, aping, and conceited; and hence the tribe, varying all occasionally in features, but all with the same generic marks and character of Fungoso's and Master Stephens.
But we will now enter upon our account of the play. Golding and Quicksilver, from whom the original hint of Hogarth's idle and industrious apprentices seems to have been taken, are the two shopmen of Touchstone, a wealthy and saving goldsmith in the city. While the one keeps his hunting nag, and plays at Primero with the gallants of the town, the other, less ambitious of these notable distinctions, attends to his master's interest and shop. The good citizen, who holds dice and ordinaries in abomination, thus parleys with the more dashing appur
tenance of his counter.
"Sirrah, I tell thee I am thy master, William Touchstone, goldsmith, and thou my 'prentice, Francis Quicksilver, and I will see whither you are running. Work upon that, now.
Quick. Why, sir, I hope a man may use his recreation with his master's profit. Touch. 'Prentices' recreations are seldom with their master's profit. Work upon that, now. You shall give up your cloak, though you be no alderman. Heyday, ruffians !-ha! sword! pumps!
here's a racket indeed!
[TOUCH. uncloaks QUICK. Quick. Work upon that, now.' Touch. Thou shameless varlet, dost thou jest at thy lawful master, contrary to thy
Quick. 'Sblood, sir, my mother's a gen. tlewoman, and my father a justice of peace and of quorum; and though I am a younger brother and a 'prentice, yet I
hope I am my father's son; and, by god'slid, 'tis for your worship, and for your commodity, that I keep company. I am entertained among gallants, 'tis true; they call me Cousin Frank-right; I lend them when they are spent, must not they strive monies-good; they spend it-well: But to get more? must not their land fly? and to whom?-shall not your worship ha' the refusal? Well, I am a good mem ber of the city, if I were well considered. How would merchants thrive, if gentlemen would not be unthrifts? how could gentlemen be unthrifts, if their humours were not fed? how should their humours be fed but by white meat, and cunning secondings? Well, the city might consider us. lants fall to play; I carry light gold with I am going to an ordinary now; the galme; the gallants call, Cousin Frank, some gold for silver: I change; gain by it; the gallants lose the gold, and then call, Cousin Frank, lend me some silver. Why
Touch. Why? I cannot tell; seven score pound art thou out in the cash; but look to it, I will not be gallanted out of my monies. And as for my rising by other men's fall, God shield me! Did I gain my wealth by ordinaries? no: by exchanging of gold? no: by keeping of gallants' company? no: I hired me a little shop, fought low, took small gain, kept no debt book; garnished my shop, for want of plate, with good, wholesome, thrifty sentences: as, Touchstone, keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.Light gains make heavy purses.-'Tis good to be merry and wise.' And when I was wived, having something to stick to, I had the horn of suretieship ever before my eyes. You all know the device of the horn, where the young fellow slips in at the buckall: and I grew up; and, I praise butt-end, and comes squeezed out at the Providence, I bear my brows now as high as the best of my neighbours: But thouWell, look to the accounts; your father's bond lies for you: seven score pound is yet
in the rear.
Probably the character of Touchstone, though common enough in itself, had a reference to some living personage of city consideration, a man perhaps of sufficient substance and notoriety in his time. We are led to conclude this from the statutory words which are continually introduced into
his discourse, and which, no doubt, were as well recogniezd by the original auditors of the play, as any of Foote's ludicrous imitations half a century ago. From the same reason we should be inclined to believe that the old usurer Security was of kin to some money lending and accommodating contemporary. Touchstone, the citizen, has likewise two daughters, the elder of whom, Girtred, a proud and ambitious minx, is on the point of marriage with Sir Petronel Flash, a needy adventuring knight. The father gives us their characters in the following pass
"As I have two 'prentices; the one of a boundless prodigality, the other of a most hopeful industry: so have I only two daughters; the eldest of a proud ambition and nice wantonness; the other of a modest humility and comely soberness. The one must be ladified, forsooth, and be attired just to the court-cut, and long tail. So far is she ill-natured to the place and means of my preferment and fortune, that she throws all the contempt and despite hatred itself can cast upon it. Well, a piece of land she has; 'twas her grandmother's gift; let her, and her. Sir Petronel, flash out that: but as for my substance, she that scorns me, as I am a citizen and tradesman, shall never pamper her pride with my industry-shall never use me as men do foxes; keep themselves warm in the skin, and throw the body that bare it to the dunghill. I must go entertain this Sir Petronel. Golding, my utmost care's for thee, and only trust in thee; look to the shop. As for you, Master Quicksilver, think of husks; for thy course is running directly to the prodigal's hogtrough. Husks, sirrah! Work upon that, now."
Girtred is an entertaining specimen of the vulgar would-be lady of the city. She sighs for coaches and fashions, stops her ears at the sound of Bow Bells; and, already raised in imagination to the pinnacle of her desires, hardly condescends to look upon her more lowly-minded relatives. She thus vents her scorn upon her humble sis
knight take me in the city-cut, in any hand tear't! pox on't, (does he come?) tear't off! Thus whilst she sleeps, I
sorrow for her sake,' &c.
Mil. Lord, sister, with what an immodest impatiency and disgraceful scorn do you put off your city tire! I am sorry to think you imagine to right yourself, in wronging that which hath made both you and us.
Gir. I tell you, I cannot endure it; I must be a lady: do you wear your quoif, with a London licket; your stamen petticoat, with two guards; the buffin gown, with the tuftaffity cap, and the velvet lace: like some humours of the city dames well: I must be a lady, and I will be a lady. I To eat cherries only at an angel a pound, good; to dye rich scarlet black, pretty; to line a grogram gown clean through with velvet, tolerable; their pure linen, their smocks of three pound a-smock, are to be borne withal: but your mincing niceries, taffeta pipkins, durance petticoats, and silver bodkins-God's my life, as I shall be a lady, I cannot endure it. Is he come yet? Lord, what a long night 'tis !
And ever she cried, Shoot home’yet I knew one longer-' And ever she cried, Shoot home; fa, la, ly, re, lo, la.'
Mil. Well, sister, those that scorn their nest oft fly with a sick wing.
Mil. Where titles presume to thrust before fit means to second them, wealth and respect often grow sullen, and will not fol low. For sure in this, I would, for your sake, I spake not truth- Where ambition of place goes before fitness of birth, contempt and disgrace follow.' I heard a scholar once say, that Ulysses, when he counterfeited himself mad, yoked cats and foxes and dogs together, to draw his plough, whilst he followed and sowed salt: But sure I judge them truly mad, that yoke citizens and courtiers, tradesmen and knight. Well, sister, pray God my father soldiers, a goldsmith's daughter and a
sow not salt too.
Mil. I hope, as a sister, well.
Touch. Nay, but nay, but how dost thou like her behaviour and humour? speak freely.
Mil. I am loth to speak ill; and yet I am sorry of this, I cannot speak well.
Touch. Well, very good; as I would wish a modest answer. Golding, come hither: hither, Golding. How dost thou like the knight, Sir Flash? does he not look big? how lik'st thou the elephant? he says he has a castle in the country.
Gold. Pray heaven the elephant carry not his castle on his back.
Touch. 'Fore heaven, very well: but seriously, how dost repute him?
Gold. The best I can say of him is, I know him not.
Touch. Ha, Golding, I commend thee, I approve thee; and will make it appear, my affection is strong to thee. My wife has her humour, and I will ha' mine. Dost thou see my daughter here? she is not fair, well favoured or so; indifferent; which modest measure of beauty shall not make it thy only work to watch her, nor sufficient mischance to suspect her. Thou art towardly she is modest; thou art vident-she is careful. She's now mine: give me thy hand, she's now thine.Work upon that, now.
Gold. Sir, as your son, I honour you; and as your servant, obey you.
Touch. Sayest thou so? Come hither, Mildred. Do you see yon fellow? He is a gentleman, (though my 'prentice,) and has somewhat to take to; a youth of good hope; well friended, well parted. Are you mine? you are his. Work you upon that,
Mil. Sir, I am all your's; your body gave me life; your care and love, happiness
Touch. Not a penny.
Quick. Not a penny? I have friends, and I have acquaintance. I will pass at thy shop posts, and throw rotten eggs at thy sign- Work upon that, now.'
[Exit, staggering. Touch. Now, sirrah, you, hear you; you shall serve me no more neither—not an hour longer.
Gold. What mean you, sir?
Touch. I mean to give thee thy freedom; and with thy freedom my daughter: and with my daughter, a father's love."
Quicksilver now turns gallant in complete style. He throws aside the cap, usually worn by city-apprentices of the time as a badge of slavery, and exclaims, in all the glory of emancipation, to his mistress, with the spirit of George Barnwell himself,—
Like a man of the world, he has now to live upon his wits; and, not being very nice as to the means, he scruples not to appropriate part of honest Touchstone's property to his own use. He becomes a partner in iniquity with Security, the old usurer and procurer; and, as ruined men have generally a practice of clinging to each other, he is found to be hand and glove with the worthy knight, Sir Petronel Flash. These two concert to procure the new-married wife of the latter by a trick; to make over her inheritance for a sum of money, which Security is to advance, and with which these two adventurers, along with others equally desperate, determine to set sail to Virginia, in the expectation of advancing their fortunes there. The bride, in the mean time, is to be sent, with her mother, into the country on a fool's-errand to her husband's castle, which is in fact on his back, and thus to be got out of the way till the embarkation. Quicksilver's mistress is likewise to be disposed of; and she is, therefore, preferred to the place of waiting-maid to the new-made lady, who gives her the following summary of the duties of her post:
"Gir. Hark you, good man, you may put on your hat, now I do not look on you.— I must have you of my fashion now; not of my knight's, maid.
Synd. No, forsooth, madam; of yours. Gir. And draw all my servants in my bow; and keep me counsel; and tell me tales; and put me riddles; and read on a book sometimes, when I am busy; and laugh at country gentlewomen; and command any thing in the house for my retainers; and care not what you spend, for it is all mine; and in any case, be still a maid, whatsoever you do, or whatsoever any man can do unto you.
Secu. I warrant your ladyship for that."
The plot succeeds. Girtred signs away her property, and departs full of triumph to the castle of her husband; not, however, without being discomfited by the sight of her sister's marriage with her father's industrious apprentice. She exclaims,
"Gir. There's a base fellow, my father, now: but he's e'en fit to father such a daughter! he must call me daughter no more now, but Madam, and please you, madam; and please your worship, madam,' indeed. Out upon him! marry his daughter to a base 'prentice ?"
Sir Petronel, in his turn, now denies the gentility of Touchstone's new son-in-law. The old citizen thus answers him:
ship, sir, there are two sorts of gentlemen. "Touch. An't please your good worPet. What mean you, sir?
Touch. Bold to put off my hat to your worship
Pet. Nay, pray forbear, sir; and then forth with your two sorts of gentlemen.
Touch. If your worship will have it so, I say there are two sorts of gentlemen: There is a gentleman artificial, and a gentleman natural; now, though your worship be a gentleman natural-Work upon that,
Sir Petronel carries on an intrigue with the handsome wife of the usurer Security, and determines to make her the companion of his voyage. Notwithstanding his jealousy, the old man is made, by a feint, to assist in this part of the plot, and all the while imagine that he is only helping to ease his friend Lawyer Bramble of his helpmate. He is even brought to comfort her when she is about to set off.
"Pet. A word, I beseech you, sir: Our friend, Mistress Bramble here, is so dissolved in tears, that she drowns the whole mirth of our meeting; sweet gossip, take her aside and comfort her.
Sec. Pity of all true love, Mistress Bramble: what! weep you to enjoy your love? what's the cause, lady? First, because your husband is so near, and your heart earns to have a little abused him! Alas, alas! the offence is too common to be respected."
The adventurers take a boat with their female, but are overset, and with difficulty escape a watery death.Quicksilver is taken up at the gallows; which one of the spectators ob
Sea. No, by my troth, knight, not I; but methinks we have been a horrible while upon the water, and in the water.
"Worshipful son, I cannot contain myself, I must tell thee, I hope to see thee one of the monuments of our city, and
Pet. Ah me, we are undone for ever! reckoned among her worthies, to be rememhast any money about thee?
Sea. Not a penny, by heaven. Pet. Not a penny betwixt us, and cast ashore in France!
Sea. Faith, I cannot tell that; my brains, nor mine eyes, are not mine own yet.
Enter two Gentlemen.
Pet. 'Sfoot, wilt not believe me? I know by the elevation of the pole, and by the altitude and latitude of the climate. See, here come a couple of French gentlemen; I knew we were in France; dost thou think our Englishmen are so Frenchified, that a man knows not whether he be in France or in England when he sees 'em? What shall we do? We must e'en to 'em, and entreat some relief of 'em: life is sweet, and we have no other means to relieve our lives now, but their charities.
Sea. Pray you, do you beg on 'em then; you can speak French.
Pet. Monsieur, plaist il d' avoir pity de notre grand infortune: Je suis un pauvre Chevalier d'Angleterre, qui a suffri l' infortune de naufrage.
1 Gent. Un pauvre Chevalier d' Angle
Pet. Ouy, Monsieur, i'l est trop vray; mais vous sçavez bien, nous sommes tous sujet d fortune.
2 Gent. A poor knight of England? a poor knight of Windsor, are you not? Why speak you this broken French, when y'are a whole Englishman? On what coast are you, think you?
1 Gent. On the coast of dogs, sir. Y'are i'th'Isle of Dogs, I tell you. I see y'have been wash'd in the Thames here; and I believe ye were drown'd in a tavern before, or else you would never have took boat in such a dawning as this was. Farewell, farewell; we will not know you for shaming of you. I ken the man well; he's one of my thirty pound knights.
2 Gent. Now this is he that stole his knighthood o' the grand day, for four pound given to a page, all the money in's purse I
The old usurer's helpmate manages to get to her husband, and to blind him as to her departure. The rest are not so fortunate. Quicksilver and Petronel are taken by the constable before Golding, the industrious apprentice, now advancing high in city credit, and an alderman's deputy. He commits them to the counter, to repent themselves at their leisure. After telling Touchstone of his new honours, the old gentleman thus addresses him:
bered the same day with the lady Ramsay, and grave Gresham; when the famous fable of Whittington and his puss shall be forgotten, and thou and thy acts become the posies for hospitals; when thy name shall be written upon conduits, and thy deeds play'd i'thy lifetime, by the best company of actors, and be called their Get-penny. This I divine and prophecy.”
Meanwhile the undeceived and mortified lady returns to her father, who will not receive her. She thus condoles with her maid:
"Gir. Ah, Synne! hast thou ever read i'the chronicle of any lady and her waitingwoman driven to that extremity that we are, Synne?
Synd. Not I truly, madam; and if I had, it were but cold comfort should come out of books now.
Gir. Why, good faith, Syn, I could dine with a lamentable story now; O hone hone, o no nera, &c. Can'st thou tell ne'er a one, Syn?
Synd. None but mine own, madam, which is lamentable enough: first, to be stol'n from my friends, which were worshipful, and of good account, by a 'prentice, in the habit and disguise of a gentleman; and here brought up to London, and promised marriage; and now, likely to be forsaken; for he's in a possibility to he hang'd.
Gir. Nay, weep not, good Synne. My Petronel is in as good possibility as he. Thy miseries are nothing to mine, Synne. I was more than promised marriage, Synne; I had it, Synne; and was made a lady; and by a knight, Syn, which is now as good as no knight, Syn. And I was born in London; which is more than brought up, Syn and already forsaken, which is past likelihood, Syn: and instead of land i'the country, all my knight's living lies i'the Counter, Syn; there's his castle now.
Synd. Which he cannot be forced out of, madam.
Gir. Yes, if he would live hungry a week or two; hunger, they say, breaks stone walls. But he's e'en well enough served, Syn, that so soon as ever he got my hand to the sale of my inheritance, ran away from me, as I had been his punk, God bless us! Would the Knight of the Sun, or Palmerine of England, have used their ladies so, Synne? or Sir Launcelot ? or Sir Tristrem ?
Synd. I do not know, madam.
Gir. Then thou knowest nothing, Syn. Thou art a fool, Syn. The knighthoods now-a-days are nothing like the knighthood of old time. They rid a-horse-back; ours go a-foot. They were attended by