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Title: Mask and Faces, or, Before and Behind the Curtain - A Comedy in Two Acts
Author: Taylor, Tom, Reade, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mask and Faces, or, Before and Behind the Curtain - A Comedy in Two Acts" ***

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Archive and the University of Toronto.



MASKS AND FACES;

OR,
BEFORE AND BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

A Comedy
IN TWO ACTS.

BY

TOM TAYLOR AND CHARLES READE.

LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
1854

[_The Authors reserve the right of Translating this work._]



PRINTED BY HARRISON AND SONS,
LONDON GAZETTE OFFICE, ST. MARTIN'S LANE.



played 103 nights at the Haymarket and Adelphi Theatres.

  DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.         HAYMARKET.               ADELPHI.

_Sir Charles Pomander_  Mr. Leigh Murray        Mr. Leigh Murray.

_Mr. Ernest Vane_       Mr. Parselle            Mr. Parselle.

_Colly Cibber_          Mr. Lambert             Mr. G. Honey.

_Quin_                  Mr. James Bland         Mr. Paul Bedford.

_Triplet_               Mr. Benjamin Webster    Mr. Benjamin Webster.

_Lysimachus Triplet_    Master Caulfield        Master Caulfield.

_Mr. Snarl_             Mr. Stuart              Mr. O. Smith.

_Mr. Soaper_            Mr. Braid               Mr. C. J. Smith.

_James Burdock_         Mr. Rogers              Mr. R. Romer.

_Colander_              Mr. Clark               Mr. Hastings.

_Hundsdon_              Mr. Coe                 Mr. Lindon.

_Call Boy_              Mr. Edwards             Mr. Waye.

_Pompey_                Master C. J. Smith      Master C. J. Smith.

_Mrs. Vane_             Miss Rosa Bennett       Miss Woolgar.

_Peg Woffington_        Mrs. Stirling           Madame Celeste.

_Kitty Clive_           Miss Maskell            Miss Maskell.

_Mrs. Triplet_          Mrs. Leigh Murray       Mrs. Leigh Murray.

_Roxalana_              Miss Caulfield          Miss Caulfield.

_Maid_                  Miss E. Woulds          Miss Mitchenson.



MASKS AND FACES,

OR,

BEFORE AND BEHIND THE CURTAIN.


ACT I.

SCENE I.--_The Green Room of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. A
Fire-place C., with a Looking-glass over it, on which a call is
wafered. Curtain rises on Mr. Quin and Mrs. Clive, seated each side of
Fire-place._

CLIVE. Who dines with Mr. Vane to-day besides ourselves?

QUIN. His inamorata, Mrs. Woffington, of this theatre.

CLIVE. Of course. But who else?

QUIN. Sir Charles Pomander. The critics, Snarl and Soaper, are
invited, I believe.

CLIVE. Then I shall eat no dinner.

QUIN. Pooh! There is to be a haunch that will counterpoise in one hour
a century of censure. Let them talk! the mouth will revenge the ears
of Falstaff;--besides, Snarl is the only ill-natured one--Soaper praises
people, don't he?

CLIVE. Don't be silly, Quin! Soaper's praise is only a pin for his
brother executioner to hang abuse on: by this means Snarl, who could
not invent even ill-nature, is never at a loss. Snarl is his own
weight in wormwood; but Soaper is--hush!--hold your tongue.

[_Enter Snarl and Soaper L.D. Quin and Clive rise._]

(_Clive, with engaging sweetness_). Ah! Mr. Snarl! Mr. Soaper! we were
talking of you.

SNARL. I am sorry for that, madam.

QUIN. We hear you dine with us at Mr. Vane's.

SOAP. We have been invited, and are here to accept. I was told Mr.
Vane was here.

QUIN. No; but he is on the stage.

SNARL. Come, then, Soaper.

[_They move towards door._

SOAP. (_aside_). Snarl!

SNARL. Yes. (_With a look of secret intelligence_).

SOAP. (_crosses slowly to Clive_). My dear Mrs. Clive, there was I
going away without telling you how charmed I was with your Flippanta;
all that sweetness and womanly grace, with which you invested that
character, was----

SNARL. Misplaced. Flippanta is a vixen, or she is nothing at all.

SOAP. Your Sir John Brute, sir, was a fine performance: you never
forgot the gentleman even in your cups.

SNARL. Which, as Sir John Brute is the exact opposite of a gentleman,
he ought to have forgotten.

[_Exit L._

SOAP. But you must excuse me now; I will resume your praise at
dinner-time.

[_Exit, with bows, L._

CLIVE (_walks in a rage_). We are the most unfortunate of all artists.
Nobody regards our feelings. (_Quin shakes his head._)

[_Enter Call-Boy L._]

CALL-BOY. Mr. Quin and Mrs. Clive!

[_Exit Call-Boy L._

QUIN. I shall cut my part in this play.

CLIVE (_yawns_). Cut it as deep as you like, there will be enough
left; and so I shall tell the author if he is there.

[_Exeunt Quin and Clive L._

[_Enter Mr. Vane and Sir Charles Pomander L._]

POM. All this eloquence might be compressed into one word--you love
Mrs. Margaret Woffington.

VANE. I glory in it.

POM. Why not, if it amuses you? We all love an actress once in our
lives, and none of us twice.

VANE. You are the slave of a word, Sir Charles Pomander. Would you
confound black and white because both are colours? Actress! Can you
not see that she is a being like her fellows in nothing but a name?
Her voice is truth, told by music: theirs are jingling instruments of
falsehood.

POM. No--they are all instruments; but hers is more skilfully tuned and
played upon.

VANE. She is a fountain of true feeling.

POM. No--a pipe that conveys it, without spilling or retaining a drop.

VANE. She has a heart alive to every emotion.

POM. And influenced by none.

VANE. She is a divinity to worship.

POM. And a woman to fight shy of. No--no--we all know Peg Woffington;
she is a decent actress on the boards, and a great actress off them.
But I will tell you how to add a novel charm to her. Make her
blush--ask her for the list of your predecessors.

VANE (_with a mortified air_). Sir Charles Pomander! But you yourself
profess to admire her.

POM. And so I do, hugely. Notwithstanding the charms of the mysterious
Hebe I told you of, whose antediluvian coach I extricated from the
Slough of Despond, near Barnet, on my way to town yesterday, I gave La
Woffington a proof of my devotion only two hours ago.

VANE. How?

POM. By offering her three hundred a-year--house--coach--pin-money--my
heart----and the et ceteras.

VANE. You? But she has refused.

POM. My dear Arcadian, I am here to receive her answer. (_Vane crosses
to L. H._) You had better wait for it before making your avowal.

VANE. That avowal is made already; but I will wait, if but to see what
a lesson the calumniated actress can read to the fine gentleman.

[_Exit L. H._

POM. The lesson will be set by me--Woffington will learn it
immediately. It is so simple, only three words, _£. s. d._

[_Exit L. H._

TRIPLET (_speaking outside_). Mr. Rich not in the theatre? Well, my
engagements will allow of my waiting for a few minutes. (_Enter
Triplet and Call-Boy L. Triplet has a picture wrapped in baize and
without a frame._) And if you will just let me know when Mr. Rich
arrives (_winks--touches his pocket_). Heaven forgive me for raising
groundless expectations!

CALL-BOY. What name, sir?

TRIP. Mr. Triplet.

CALL-BOY. Triplet! There is something left for you in the hall, sir.

[_Exit Call-Boy L._

TRIP. I knew it, I sent him three tragedies. They are accepted; and he
has left me a note in the hall, to fix the reading--at last. I felt it
must come, soon or late; and it has come--late. Master of three arts,
painting, writing, and acting, by each of which men grow fat, how was
it possible I should go on perpetually starving. But that is all over
now. My tragedies will be acted, the town will have an intellectual
treat, and my wife and children will stab my heart no more with their
hungry looks.

[_Enter Call-Boy with parcel._]

CALL-BOY. Here is the parcel for you, sir.

[_Exit Call-Boy L._

TRIP. (_weighs it in his hand_). Why, how is this? Oh, I see; he
returns them for some trifling alterations. Well, if they are
judicious, I shall certainly adopt them, for (_opening the parcel_)
managers are practical men. My tragedies!--Eh? here are but two! one is
accepted!--no! they are all here (_sighs_). Well, (_spitefully_) it is
a thousand pounds out of Mr. Rich's pocket, poor man! I pity him; and
my hungry mouths at home! Heaven knows where I am to find bread for
them to-morrow! Everything that will raise a shilling I have sold or
pawned. Even my poor picture here, the portrait of Mrs. Woffington
from memory--I tried to sell that this morning at every dealer's in
Long Acre--and not one would make me an offer.

[_Enter Woffington L. reciting from a part._]

WOFF.        "Now by the joys
Which my soul still has uncontroll'd pursued,
I would not turn aside from my least pleasure.
Though all thy force were armed to bar my way."

TRIP. (_aside, R._). Mrs. Woffington, the great original of my
picture!

WOFF. (L.) "But like the birds, great nature's happy commoners
Rifle the sweets"--I beg your pardon, sir!

TRIP. Nay, madam, pray continue; happy the hearer and still happier
the author of verses so spoken.

WOFF. Yes, if you could persuade the authors how much they owe us, and
how hard it is to find good music for indifferent words. Are you an
author, sir?

TRIP. In a small way, madam; I have here three tragedies.

WOFF. (_looking down at them with comical horror_). Fifteen acts,
mercy on us!

TRIP. Which if I could submit to Mrs. Woffington's judgment----

WOFF. (_recoiling_). I am no judge of such things, sir.

TRIP. No more is the manager of this theatre.

WOFF. What! has he accepted them?

TRIP. No! madam! he has had them six months and returned them without
a word.

WOFF. Patience, my good sir, patience! authors of tragedies should
learn that virtue of their audiences. Do you know I called on Mr. Rich
fifteen times before I could see him?

TRIP. You, madam, impossible!

WOFF. Oh, it was some years ago--and he has had to pay a hundred pounds
for each of those little visits--let me see,--fifteen times--you must
write twelve more tragedies--sixty acts--and then he will read one, and
give you his judgment at last, and when you have got it--it won't be
worth a farthing.

(_turns up reading her part._)

TRIP. (_aside_). One word from this laughing lady, and all my plays
would be read--but I dare not ask her--she is up in the world, I am
down. She is great--I am nobody--besides they say she is all brains and
no heart (_crosses to L. Moves sorrowfully towards L. D., taking his
picture_).

WOFF. He looks like a fifth act of a domestic tragedy. Stop, surely I
know that doleful face--Sir!

TRIP. Madam!

WOFF. (_beckons_). We have met before;--don't speak; yours is a face
that has been kind to me, and I never forget those faces.

TRIP. Me, madam! I know better what is due to you than to be kind to
you.

WOFF. To be sure! it is Mr. Triplet, good Mr. Triplet of
Goodman's-fields Theatre.

TRIP. It is, madam (_opening his eyes with astonishment_); but we
don't call him Mr., nor even good.

WOFF. Yes; it is Mr. Triplet (_shakes both his hands warmly; he
timidly drops a tragedy or two_). Don't you remember a little orange
girl at Goodman's Fields you used sometimes to pat on the head and
give sixpence to, some seven years ago, Mr. Triplet?

TRIP. Ha! ha! I do remember one, with such a merry laugh and bright
eye; and the broadest brogue of the whole sisterhood.

WOFF. Get along with your blarney then, Mr. Triplet, an' is it the
comether ye'd be puttin' on poor little Peggy?

TRIP. Oh! oh! gracious goodness, oh!

WOFF. Yes; that friendless orange girl was Margaret Woffington! Well,
old friend, you see time has treated me well. I hope he has been as
kind to you; tell me, Mr. Triplet.

TRIP. (_aside_). I must put the best face on it with her. Yes, madam,
he has blessed me with an excellent wife and three charming children.
Mrs. Triplet was Mrs. Chatterton, of Goodman's Fields--great in the
juvenile parts--you remember her?

WOFF. (_very drily_). Yes, I remember her; where is she acting?

TRIP. Why, the cares of our family--and then her health (_sighs_). She
has not acted these eight months.

WOFF. Ah!--and are you still painting scenes?

TRIP. With the pen, madam, not the brush! as the wags said, I have
transferred the distemper from my canvas to my imagination, ha! ha!

WOFF. (_aside_). This man is acting gaiety. And have your pieces been
successful?

TRIP. Eminently so--in the closet; the managers have as yet excluded
them from the stage.

WOFF. Ah! now if those things were comedies, I would offer to act in
one of them, and then the stage door would fly open at sight of the
author.

TRIP. I'll go home and write a comedy (_moves_).

WOFF. On second thoughts, perhaps you had better leave the tragedies
with me.

TRIP. My dear madam!--and you will read them?

WOFF. Ahem! I will make poor Rich read them.

TRIP. But he has rejected them.

WOFF. That is the first step--reading comes after, when it comes at
all.

TRIP. (_aside_). I must fly home and tell my wife.

WOFF. (_aside_). In the mean time I can put five guineas into his
pocket. Mr. Triplet, do you write congratulatory verses--odes--and that
sort of thing?

TRIP. Anything, madam, from an acrostic to an epic.

WOFF. Good, then I have a commission for you; I dine to-day at Mr.
Vane's, in Bloomsbury Square. We shall want some verses. Will you
oblige us with a copy?

TRIP. (_aside_). A guinea in my way, at least. Oh, madam, do but give
me a subject.

WOFF. Let's see--myself, if you can write on such a theme.

TRIP. 'Tis the one I would have chosen out of all the heathen
mythology; the praises of Venus and the Graces. I will set about it at
once (_takes up portrait_).

WOFF. (_sees picture_). But what have you there? not another tragedy?

TRIP. (_blushing_). A poor thing, madam, a portrait--my own painting,
from memory.

WOFF. Oh! oh! I'm a judge of painted faces; let me see it.

TRIP. Nay, madam!

WOFF. I insist! (_She takes off the baize._) My own portrait, as I
live! and a good likeness too, or my glass flatters me like the rest
of them. And this you painted from memory?

TRIP. Yes, madam; I have a free admission to every part of the theatre
before the curtain. I have so enjoyed your acting, that I have carried
your face home with me every night, forgive my presumption, and tried
to fix in the studio the impression of the stage.

WOFF. Do you know your portrait has merit? I will give you a sitting
for the last touches.

TRIP. Oh, madam!

WOFF. And bring all the critics--there, no thanks or I'll stay away.
Stay, I must have your address.

TRIP. (_returning to her_). On the fly leaf of each work, madam, you
will find the address of James Triplet, painter, actor, and dramatic
author, and Mrs. Woffington's humble and devoted servant. (_Bows
ridiculously low, moves away, but returns with an attempt at a jaunty
manner._) Madam, you have inspired a son of Thespis with dreams of
eloquence; you have tuned to a higher key a poet's lyre; you have
tinged a painter's existence with brighter colours; and--and--(_gazes on
her and tries in vain to speak_) God in heaven bless you, Mrs.
Woffington!

[_Exit L. hastily._

WOFF. So! I must look into this!

[_Enter Sir Charles Pomander L._]

POM. Ah, Mrs. Woffington, I have just parted with an adorer of yours.

WOFF. I wish I could part with them all.

POM. Nay, this is a most original admirer, Ernest Vane, that pastoral
youth who means to win La Woffington by agricultural courtship, who
wants to take the star from its firmament, and stick it in a cottage.

WOFF. And what does the man think I am to do without this (_imitates
applause_) from my dear public's thousand hands.

POM. You are to have that from a single mouth instead (_mimics a
kiss_).

WOFF. Go on, tell me what more he says.

POM. Why, he----

WOFF. No, you are not to invent; I should detect your work in a
minute, and you would only spoil this man.

POM. He proposes to be your friend, rather than your lover; to fight
for your reputation instead of adding to your éclat.

WOFF. Oh! and is Mr. Vane your friend?

POM. He is!

WOFF. (_with significance_). Why don't you tell him my real character,
and send him into the country again!

POM. I do; but he snaps his fingers at me and common sense and the
world:--there is no getting rid of him, except in one way. I had this
morning the honour, madam, of laying certain propositions at your
feet.

WOFF. Oh, yes, your letter, Sir Charles (_takes it out of her
pocket_). I ran my eye down it as I came along, let me
see--(_letter_)--"a coach," "a country house," "pin-money." Heigh ho!
And I am _so_ tired of houses, and coaches, and pins. Oh, yes, here
_is_ something. What is this you offer me, up in this corner?

[_They inspect the letter together._]

POM. That,--my "heart!"

WOFF. And you can't even write it; it looks just like "earth." There
is your letter, Sir Charles.

[_Curtseys and returns it; he takes it and bows._]

POM. Favour me with your answer.

WOFF. You have it.

POM. (_laughing_). Tell me, do you really refuse?

WOFF. (_inspecting him_). Acting surprise? no, genuine! My good soul,
are you so ignorant of the stage and the world, as not to know that I
refuse such offers as yours every week of my life? I have refused so
many of them, that I assure you I have begun to forget they are
insults.

POM. Insults, madam! They are the highest compliment you have left it
in our power to pay you.

WOFF. Indeed! Oh, I take your meaning. To be your mistress could be
but a temporary disgrace; to be your wife might be a lasting
discredit. Now sir, having played your rival's game----

POM. Ah!

WOFF. And exposed your own hand, do something to recover the
reputation of a man of the world. Leave the field before Mr. Vane can
enjoy your discomfiture, for here he comes.

POM. I leave you, madam, but remember, my discomfiture is neither your
triumph, nor your swain's.

[_Exit L._

WOFF. I do enjoy putting down these irresistibles.

[_Enter Vane, L._]

At last! I have been here so long.

VANE. Alone?

WOFF. In company and solitude. What has annoyed you?

VANE. Nothing.

WOFF. Never try to conceal anything from me. I know the map of your
face. These fourteen days you have been subject to some adverse
influence; and to-day I have discovered whose it is.

VANE. No influence can ever shake yours.

WOFF. Dear friend, for your own sake, not mine; trust your own heart,
eyes, and judgment.

VANE. I do. I love you; your face is the shrine of sincerity, truth,
and candour. I alone know you: your flatterers do not--your
detractors--oh! curse them!

WOFF. You see what men are! Have I done ill to hide the riches of my
heart from the heartless, and keep them all for one honest man, who
will be my friend, I hope, as well as my lover?

VANE. Ah, that is my ambition.

WOFF. We actresses make good the old proverb, "Many lovers, but few
friends." And oh! it is we who need a friend. Will you be mine?

VANE. I will. Then tell me the way for me, unequal in wit and address
to many of your admirers, to win your esteem.

WOFF. I will tell you a sure way; never act in my presence, never try
to be very clever or eloquent. Remember! I am the goddess of tricks: I
can only love my superior. Be honest and frank as the day, and you
will be my superior; and I shall love you, and bless the hour you
shone on my artificial life.

VANE. Oh! thanks, thanks, for this, I trust, is in my power!

WOFF. Mind--it is no easy task: to be my friend is to respect me, that
I may respect myself the more; to be my friend is to come between me
and the temptations of an unprotected life--the recklessness of a
vacant heart.

VANE. I will place all that is good about me at your feet. I will
sympathize with you when you are sad; I win rejoice when you are gay.

WOFF. Will you scold me when I do wrong?

VANE. Scold you?

WOFF. Nobody scolds me now--a sure sign nobody loves me. Will you scold
me?

VANE (_tenderly_). I will try! and I will be loyal and frank. You will
not hate me for a confession I make myself? (_agitated._)

WOFF. I shall like you better--oh! so much better.

VANE. Then I will own to you----

WOFF. Oh! do not tell me you have loved others before me; I could not
bear to hear it.

VANE. No--no--I never _loved_ till now.

WOFF. Let me hear that only. I am jealous even of the past. Say you
never loved but me--never mind whether it is true--say so;--but it is
true, for you do not yet know love. Ernest, shall I make you love me,
as none of your sex ever loved? with heart, and brain, and breath, and
life, and soul?

VANE. Teach me so to love, and I am yours for ever. (_Pause_) And now
you will keep your promise, to make me happy with your presence this
morning at the little festival I had arranged with Cibber and some of
our friends of the theatre.

WOFF. I shall have so much pleasure; but, _àpropos_, you must include
Snarl and Soaper in your list.

VANE. What! the redoubtable Aristarchuses of the pit?

WOFF. Yes. Oh, you don't know the consequences of loving an actress.
You will have to espouse my quarrels, manage my managers, and invite
my critics to dinner.

VANE. They shall be invited, never fear.

WOFF. And I've a trust for you; poor Triplet's three tragedies. If
they are as heavy in the hearing as the carrying---- But here comes your
rival, poor Pomander (_crosses to L._).

[_Enter Sir Charles, L._]

You will join our party at Mr. Vane's, Sir Charles? You promised, you
know (_crosses to L._).

POM. (_coldly_). _Desolé_ to forfeit such felicity; but I have
business.

VANE (_as he passes, crosses to C._). By-the-bye, Pomander, that
answer to your letter to Mrs. Woffington?

WOFF. He has received it. _N'est ce pas_, Sir Charles? You see how
radiant it has made him! Ha! ha!

[_Exeunt Woffington and Vane L. H._

POM. Laughing devil! If you had wit to read beneath men's surface, you
would know it is no jest to make an enemy of Sir Charles Pomander.

[_Enter Hundsdon, R._]

HUNDS. Servant, Sir Charles.

POM. Ah, my yeoman pricker, with news of the mysterious Hebe of my
Barnet rencontre. Well, sirrah, you stayed by the coach as I bade you?

HUNDS. Yes, Sir Charles.

POM. And pumped the servants?

HUNDS. Yes, Sir Charles, till they swore they'd pump on me.

POM. My good fellow, contrive to answer my questions without punning,
will you?

HUNDS. Yes, Sir Charles.

POM. What did you learn from them? Who is the lady, their mistress?

HUNDS. She is on her way to town to join her husband. They have only
been married a twelvemonth; and he has been absent from her half the
time.

POM. Good. Her name?

HUNDS. Vane.

POM. Vane!

HUNDS. Wife of Mr. Ernest Vane, a gentleman of good estate, Willoughby
Manor, Huntingdonshire.

POM. What!--What!--His wife, by heaven! Oh! here is a rare revenge. Ride
back, sirrah, and follow the coach to its destination.

HUNDS. They took master for a highwayman. If they knew him as well as
I do, they wouldn't do the road such an injustice.

[_Exit R._

POM. (_with energy_). I'll after them; and if I can but manage that
Vane shall remain ignorant of her arrival, I may confront Hebe with
Thalia; introduce the wife to the mistress under the husband's roof.
Aha! my Arcadian pair, there may be a guest at your banquet you little
expect, besides Sir Charles Pomander!

[_Exit L._


SCENE II.--_A spacious and elegant Apartment in the House of Mr. Vane,
opening into a Garden formally planted, with Statues, &c. A Table set
for a collation, with Fruits, Flowers, Wine, and Plate. A Door C.
flat, communicating with Entrance Hall, other Doors R. and L. Settees
and high-backed Chairs, a Side Table with Plate, Salvers, &c._

[_Colander discovered arranging table._]

COL. So! malmsey, fruit, tea, coffee, yes! all is ready against their
leaving the dining-room!

[_Enter James Burdock, a salver with letters in his hand._]

BUR. Post letters, Master Colander.

COL. Put 'em on the salver. (_Burdock does so._) You may go, honest
Burdock--(_Burdock fidgets, turning the letters on the salver_) when I
say you _may_ go--that means you _must;_ the stable is your place when
the family is not in Huntingdonshire, and at present the family is in
London.

BUR. And I wish it was in Huntingdonshire, with the best part of it,
and that's mistress. Poor thing! A twelvemonth married, and six months
of it as good as a widow.

COL. We write to her, James, and receive her replies.

BUR. Aye! but we don't read 'em, it seems.

COL. We intend to do so at our leisure--meanwhile we make ourselves
happy among the wits and the players.

BUR. And she do make others happy among the poor and the suffering.

COL. James Burdock, property has its duties, as well as its rights.
Master enjoys the rights in town, and mistress discharges the duties
in the country; 'tis the division of labour--and now vanish, honest
James, the company will be here directly, and you know master can't
abide the smell of the stable (_crosses to L._).

BUR. But, Master Colander, do let him have this letter from missus
(_holds out the letter he has taken from the salver_).

COL. James Burdock, you are incorrigible. Have I not given it to him
once already? and didn't he fling it in my face and call me a puppy? I
respect Mistress Vane, James; but I must remember what's due to
myself--I shan't take it.

[_Exit Colander 3 E. L._

BUR. Then I will--there! Poor dear lady! I can't abear that her
letters, with her heart in 'em, I'll be sworn, should lie unopened.
Barnet post mark!--why, how can that be? Well, it's not my business.
(_puts salver on table 2 E. L._) Master shall have it though (_hurried
knocking heard_). There goes that door, ah! I thought it wouldn't be
quiet long--what a rake-helly place this London is!

[_Exit L._

[_Re-enter with Mrs. Vane in a hood and travelling dress._]

BUR. Stop! stop! I don't think master can see you, young woman.

MABEL. Why, James Burdock, have you forgotten your mistress? (_removes
her hood_)

BUR. Mistress! why Miss Mabel--I ask your pardon, miss,--I mean, madam.
Bless your sweet face!--here, John, Thomas!

MABEL. Hush!

BUR. Lord, lord! come at last! oh! how woundy glad I am, to be
sure--oh! lord, lord, my old head's all of a muddle with joy to see
your kind face again.

MABEL. (R.) But Ernest--Mr. Vane, James, is he well--and happy--and
(_sees his change of face_)--Eh! he is well, James?

BUR. Yes, yes, quite well, and main happy.

MABEL. And is he very impatient to see me?

BUR. (_aside_). Lord help her!

MABEL. But mind, James, not a word; he doesn't expect me till six, and
'tis now scarce four. Oh! I shall startle him so!

BUR. Yes, yes, madam; you'll startle him woundily.

MABEL. Oh! it will be so delightful to pop out upon him unawares--will
it not, James?

BUR. Yes, Miss Mabel,--that is, madam; but hadn't I better prepare him
like?

MABEL. Not for the world. You know, James, when one is wishing for any
one very much, the last hour's waiting is always the most intolerable,
so when he is most longing to see me, and counting the minutes to six,
I'll just open the door, and steal behind him, and fling my arms round
his neck, and--but I shall be caught if I stay prattling here, and I
must brush the dust from my hair, and smooth my dress, or I shall not
be fit to be seen; so not a word to anybody, James, I insist, or I
shall be angry. Where is my room? (_goes to 3 E. R. and opens door_)
Oh, here!

BUR. Your room, Miss Mabel; no! no! that is Mr. Vane's room, Ma'am.

MABEL. Well, Mr. Vane's room is my room, I suppose (_pausing at
door_). He is not there, is he?

BUR. No, Ma'am, he is in the dining-room (_knock_). Anon! anon!

MABEL. I fear my trunks will not be here in time for me to dress; but
Ernest will not mind. He will see my heart in my face, and forgive my
travelling sacque.

[_Exit into apartment R. 2 E._

BUR. Poor thing! poor thing! (_knock_) there goes that door again--darn
me if I go till I've seen Colander. Anon,--Miss Mabel!--(_going to door
3 E. R._).

[_Hundsdon enters 3 E. L._]

HUNDS. (_aside and looking at Burdock_). For all the world the twin
brother to those bumpkins behind Hebe's coach. Well, my honest fellow!

BUR. Well, my jack-a-dandy!

HUNDS. Can'st bring me Sir Charles Pomander hither, my honest fellow?

BUR. Here he's a bringing himself, my jack-a-dandy.

[_Exit C. L._

HUNDS. For so pretty a creature, she hath an establishment of the
veriest brutes. Ah! here comes Master!

[_Enter Sir Charles Pomander 3 E. L._]

POM. Well! is she arrived?

HUNDS. (_aside to Pom._). I've marked her down, sir. She is here--in
that room.

POM. Is her arrival known?

HUNDS. But to a rustic savage of a servant.

POM. Good! Take thy sheep's face out of sight, incontinently.

HUNDS. Yes, Sir Charles.

POM. Hold! I have kept thee sober for two days. Here's for thee to
make a beast of thyself.

HUNDS. Nay, I'll disappoint him, and profit by sobriety.

[_Exit 3 E. L._

POM. So, the train is laid and I hold the match in my hand (_Colander
returns with servants, who bring tea, coffee, &c._).

[_Enter Vane, Woffington, Quin, Clive, Cibber, Snarl and Soaper, as
from the dining-room, laughing._]

QUIN. I hate this detestable innovation of outlandish drawing-room
drinks--your tea and coffee--pshaw!

VANE. But you forget the ladies, Mr. Quin, and in the presence of Mr.
Cibber too, whom I cannot thank enough for the honor of this visit.

CIB. Nay, sir, I bring my wit in exchange for your wine; we barter our
respective superfluities.

QUIN. Good wine is no superfluity, Mr. Cibber; 'tis a necessary of
life, just as much as good victuals.

SOAP. I vow Mr. Cibber is as lively as ever, and doesn't look a day
older: does he, Mr. Snarl?

SNARL. 'Tis that there's no room on Mr. Cibber's face for another
wrinkle.

CIB. (_takes snuff_). Puppies!

QUIN. Really this is too bad, the coffee is getting cold (_goes to
table, R._).

CLIVE. So, no wonder Quin is getting warm--(_gives him coffee_). Here,
bear! (_Woffington presides over tea._)

CIB. You have a charming house here, Mr. Vane, I knew it in poor dear
Lord Loungeville's time. You may just remember him, Sir Charles?

POM. I never read ancient history.

CIB. Puppy! An unrivalled gallant, Peggy. Oh the _petits soupers_ we
have had here! Loungeville was a great creature, Sir Charles. I wish
you may ever be like him.

POM. I sincerely trust not (_goes to table, C._). I do not feel at all
anxious to figure in the museum of town antiquities--labelled, "Old
Beau, very curious."

CIB. (_aside_). Coxcomb! Let me tell you your old beaux were the only
ones worthy of winging the shafts from Cupid's quiver.

SNARL. Witness Mr. Cibber (_goes to table, C._).

WOFF. Oh, Colley is like old port--the more ancient he grows the more
exquisite his perfume becomes.

SOAP. Capital! She alludes to Mr. Cibber's pulvilio.

SNARL. And the crustier he gets.

SOAP. Delicious! He alludes to Mr. Cibber's little irritability.

CIB. Ah, laugh at us old fellows as you will, young people; but I have
known Loungeville entertain a fine lady in this very saloon, whilst a
rival was fretting and fuming on the other side of that door. Ha, ha!
(_sighs._) It is all over now.

POM. Nay, Mr. Cibber, why assume that the house has lost its virtue in
our friend's hands?

CIB. Because, young gentleman, you all want _sçavoir faire;_ the
fellows of the day are all either unprincipled heathens like you, or
cold blooded Amadisses like our host. The true _Preux des Dames_
(_regretfully_) went out with the full periwig, stap my vitals!

QUIN. A bit of toast, Mr. Cibber? (_goes to table._)

CIB. Jemmy, you are a brute.

QUIN. You refuse, Sir?

CIB. (_with dignity_). No, Sir, I accept.

(_Quin takes plate of toast to table, R._)

POM. (_goes to table_). You Antediluvians must not flatter yourselves
you have monopolized iniquity, or that the deluge washed away
intrigue, and that a rake is a fossil. We are still as vicious as you
could desire, Mr. Cibber. What if I bet a cool hundred round that Vane
has a petticoat in the next room, and Mrs. Woffington shall bring her
out.

VANE. Pomander! (_checks himself_) but we all know Pomander.

POM. Not yet, _but you shall._ Now don't look so abominably innocent,
my dear fellow, I ran her to earth in this house not ten minutes ago.

CIB. Have her out, Peggy! I know the run--there's the cover--Hark
forward! Yoicks! Ha, ha, ha! (_coughing_) Ho, ho!

VANE. Mr. Cibber, age and infirmity are privileged; but for you, Sir
Charles Pomander--

WOFF. Don't be angry. Do you not see it is a jest, and, as might be
expected, a sorry one?

VANE. A jest; it must go no farther, or by Heaven!--

(_Woffington places her hand on his shoulder--Mabel appears,
D. R. 3 E._)

MABEL. Ernest, dear Ernest!

(_Woffington removes her hand quickly._)

VANE. Mabel!

POM. I win (_a pause of silent amazement_).

(_Vane looks round on the reverse side from Woffington._)

WOFF. (_aside to Vane_). Who is this?

VANE. My--my wife!

(_All rise and bow. Colander places chair for Mrs. Vane._)

CIB. 'Fore Gad! he is stronger than Loungeville.

MABEL. You are not angry with me for this silly trick? After all I am
but two hours before my time. You know, dearest, I said six in my
letter.

VANE. Yes--yes!

MABEL. And you have had three days to prepare you, for I wrote like a
good wife to ask leave before starting, ladies and gentlemen; but he
never so much as answered my letter, madam (_to Woffington, who
winces_).

VANE. Why, you c--c--couldn't doubt, Mabel? (_Cibber joins Snarl and
Soaper at table L._)

MABEL. No, silence gives consent; but I beg your pardon, ladies
(_looking to Woffington_), for being so glad to see my husband.

SNARL. 'Tis a failing, madam, you will soon get over in town
(_laugh_).

MABEL. Nay, sir, I hope not; but I warrant me you did not look for me
so soon.

WOFF. Some of us did not look for you at all.

MABEL. What! Ernest did not tell you he expected me?

WOFF. No; he told us the entertainment was in honor of a lady's first
visit to his house; but he did _not_ tell us that lady was his wife.

VANE (_aside to Woff._). Spare her!

WOFF. (_aside to Vane_). Have you spared me?

POM. No doubt he wished to procure us that agreeable surprise, which
you have procured him.

SNARL. And which he evidently enjoys so much.

SOAP. Oh, evidently.

[_Cibber, Snarl, and Soaper, laugh, aside._

VANE. You had better retire, Mabel, and change your travelling dress.

MABEL. Nay; you forget, I am a stranger to your friends. Will you not
introduce me to them first?

VANE. No, no; it is not usual to introduce in the polite world.

WOFF. We always introduce ourselves (_rises_).

[_All come down except Vane and Quin._]

VANE (_aside to Woff._). Madam, for pity's sake!

WOFF. So, if you will permit me.

POM. (_aside_). Now for the explosion!

VANE (_aside_). She will shew me no mercy.

WOFF. (_introducing Clive_). Lady Lurewell!

CLIVE. Madam! (_She curtsies._) If she had made me a commoner, I'd
have exposed her on the spot.

WOFF. (_introducing him_). Sir John Brute!

QUIN (_he comes forward, aside to Woff._). Hang it! Falstaff!

WOFF. Sir John Brute Falstaff! we call him for brevity, Brute.

POM. (_aside_). Missed fire! Confound her ready wit.

VANE (_aside_). I breathe again.

WOFF. That is Lord Foppington (_crosses to Cibber_), a butterfly of
long standing and a little gouty. Sir Charles Pomander!

POM. Who will spare you the trouble of a description (_crossing to
Mabel_), as he has already had the honour of avowing himself Mrs.
Vane's most humble servant.

VANE. How? (_Advances C._)

MABEL. The good gentleman who helped my coach out of the slough
yesterday.

VANE. Ah! (_goes up to the table, L. U. E._)

WOFF. Mr. Soaper, Mr. Snarl--gentlemen who would butter and cut up
their own fathers!

MABEL. Bless me; cannibals!

WOFF. (_with a sweet smile_). No; critics.

MABEL. But yourself, madam?

WOFF. (_curtseying_). I am the Lady Betty Modish, at your service.

CLIVE (_aside to Quin_). And anybody else's.

MABEL. Oh dear, so many lords and ladies!

VANE. Pray go, and change your dress, Mabel.

MABEL. What! before you hear the news of dear Willoughby, Ernest? Lady
Betty, I had so many things to tell him, and he sends me away.

CIBBER. Nay, really, 'tis too cruel.

WOFF. Pray, madam, your budget of country news: clotted cream so
seldom comes to London quite fresh.

MABEL. There you see, Ernest. First, then, Grey Gillian is turned out
for a brood mare, so old George won't let me ride her.

WOFF. The barbarian!

MABEL. Old servants are such hard masters, my lady; and my Barbary hen
has laid two eggs, Ernest. Heaven knows the trouble we have had to
bring her to it. And dame Best (that's his old nurse, Lady Lurewell)
has had soup and pudding from the hall every day.

QUIN. Soup and pudding! that's what I call true charity.

MABEL. Yes; and once she went so far as to say, "it wasn't altogether
a bad pudding." I made it with these hands.

CIBBER. Happy pudding!

VANE. Is this mockery, sir?

CIBBER. No, sir, it is gallantry; an exercise that died before you
were born. Madam, shall I have the honour of kissing one of the fair
hands that made that most favoured of puddings?

MABEL. Oh, my Lord, you may, because you are so old; but I don't say
so for a young gentleman, unless it was Ernest himself, and he doesn't
ask me.

[_Cibber, Snarl, and Soaper go up._]

VANE (_angrily_). My dear Mabel, pray remember we are not at
Willoughby.

CLIVE. Now, bear, where's your paw? (_going up R._)

QUIN. All I regret is, that I go without having helped Mrs. Vane to
buttered toast.

CLIVE. Poor Quin, first to quit his bottle half finished, and now, to
leave the run of the table for a walk in the garden!

[_Exeunt U. E. R._

VANE. Let me shew you to your apartment (_rings bell, leads her to
door R._).

[_Enter Servant L. H._]

Bid the musicians play.

[_Exit Servant L. H._

(_Vane offers his arm to Woff._) Let me conduct you to the garden.

[_Music. Woffington gives her hand and goes off with Vane (L. C.): in
going out she looks back. Music._]

WOFF. (_aside_). Yes; there are triumphs out of the theatre.

[_Exit with Vane, L. C._

CIBBER (_crosses to Mabel_). Mr. Vane's garden will lack its fairest
flower, madam, if you desert us.

MABEL (R.). Nay, my Lord, there are fairer here than I.

POM. (_goes up to C. L._) Jealous, I see, already. Shall I tell her
all? No; I will let the green-eyed monster breach the fortress, and
then I shall walk in without a contest.

CIBBER (_meeting Sir Charles at C. L._). Your arm, Sir Charles.

POM. At your service, Mr. Cibber.

[_Exeunt Pomander and Cibber U. E. L._

SNARL. A pleasant party, Mr. Soaper.

SOAPER. Remarkably. Such a delightful meeting of husband and wife, Mr.
Snarl!

[_Exeunt L. C._

[_Music ceases._

MABEL. How kind they all are to me, except him whose kindness alone I
value, and he must take Lady Betty's hand instead of mine; but that is
good breeding I suppose. I wish there was no such thing as good
breeding in London, any more than in Huntingdonshire.

COLANDER (_without, angrily, C. L._) I tell you Mr. Vane is not at
home.

MABEL. What is the matter?

[_Triplet discovered attempting to force his way through L. C.
Colander bars his entrance. Triplet carries a portfolio, two volumes,
and a roll of manuscript._]

COL. I tell you he is not at home, sir.

MABEL. How can you say so, when you know he is in the garden.

COL. Ugh! (_aside_) the simpleton.

MABEL. Show the gentleman in.

COL. Gentleman!

TRIP. A thousand thanks, madam, for this condescension; I will wait
Mr. Vane's leisure in the hall.

MABEL. Nay, sir, not in the hall, 'tis cold there. Tell Mr. Vane the
gentleman waits. Will you go, sirrah?

COL. I am gone, madam. (_Aside_) Porter to players! and now usher to
an author! curse me if I stand it.

[_Exit L. U. E._

TRIP. (_advancing_). A thousand apologies, madam, for the trouble I
put you to. I--madam--you overwhelm me with confusion.

MABEL. Nay--nay--be seated.

TRIP. Madam, you are too condescending. (_Aside_) Who can she be?
(_Bows again and again._)

MABEL. Nay, sit down and rest you. (_Triplet bows, and sits on the
edge of a chair, with astonishment_). You look sadly adust and tired.

TRIP. Why, yes, madam; it is a long way from Lambeth; and the heat is
surpassing (_takes his handkerchief out to wipe his brow: returns it
somewhat hastily to his pocket_). I beg your pardon, I forgot myself.

MABEL (_aside_). Poor man, he looks sadly lean and hungry. And I'll be
bound you came in such a hurry, you forgot--you mustn't be angry with
me--to have your dinner first.

TRIP. How strange! Madam, you have guessed it. I did forget--he,
he!--I have such a head--not that I need have forgotten it--but being
used to forget it, I did not remember not to forget it to-day (_smiles
absurdly_).

MABEL (_pours wine_). A glass of wine, sir?

TRIP. (_rising and bowing_). Nay, madam (_eyes the wine--drinks_).
Nectar, as I am a man. (_She helps him to refreshments_).

MABEL. Take a biscuit, sir?

TRIP. (_eating_). Madam, as I said before, you overwhelm me. Walking
certainly makes one hungry (_eats_). Oh, yes, it certainly does
(_Mabel helps him_); and though I do not usually eat at this time of
the day. (_Mabel helps him again._)

MABEL. I am sorry Mr. Vane keeps you waiting.

TRIP. By no means, Madam, it is very fortunate (_eats_)--I mean it
procures me the pleasure of (_eats_) your society. Besides, the
servants of the Muse are used to waiting. What we are not used to is
(_she fills his glass_) being waited on by Hebe and the Twelve Graces,
whose health I have the honour!--Falernian, as I'm a poet!

MABEL. A poet! (_clapping her hands._) Oh, I am so glad! I never
thought to see a living poet; I do so love poetry!

TRIP. Ha! it is in your face, madam. I should be proud to have your
opinion of this trifle composed by me for Mr. Vane, in honour of the
lady he expected this morning.

MABEL (_aside_). Dear Ernest! how ungrateful I was. Nay, sir, I think
I know the lady; and it would be hardly proper for me to hear them.

TRIP. (_after placing the MS. by the side of his plate, with another
plate to keep it open; laying his hand on his heart_). Oh, strictly
correct, Madam. James Triplet never stooped to the loose taste of the
town, even in trifles of this sort. (_Reads_) "When first from
Albion's isle----"

MABEL. Take another glass of wine first.

TRIP. Madam, I will (_drinks_). I thank you infinitely. (_Reads_)
"When first from Albion's isle----"

MABEL. Another biscuit (_helps him_).

TRIP. Madam (_eats a mouthful_), you do me infinite honour. (_Reads
again_) "When first from Albion's isle----"

MABEL. No--no--no! (_stops her ears._) Mr. Vane intended them for a
surprise, and it would spoil his pleasure were I to hear them from
you.

TRIP. (_sighs_). As you please, madam! But you would have liked them,
for the theme inspired me. The kindest, the most generous and gifted
of women!--don't you agree with me, madam?

MABEL (_laughs_). No, indeed!

TRIP. Ah! if you knew her as I do.

MABEL. I ought to know her better, sir.

TRIP. Her kindness to me, for instance: a poor devil like me, if I may
be allowed the expression.

MABEL. Nay, you exaggerate her trifling act of civility.

TRIP. (_reproachfully_). Act of civility, madam! Why she has saved me
from despair--from starvation perhaps.

MABEL (_aside_). Poor thing! how hungry he must have been.

TRIP. And she's to sit to me for her portrait, too.

MABEL. Her portrait! (_aside._) Oh, another attention of Ernest's--but
I thought you were a poet, sir?

TRIP. So I am, madam, from an epitaph to an epic. Let me convince you.
(_Reads_) "When first from Albion's isle----"

MABEL. But you spoke just now of painting. Are you a painter too?

TRIP. From a scene to a sign-board; from a house-front to an
historical composition.

MABEL. Oh, what a clever man! And so Ernest commissioned you to paint
this portrait?

TRIP. No; for that I am indebted to the lady herself.

MABEL. The lady? (_Rises_).

TRIP. I expected to find her here;--perhaps you can inform me whether
she is arrived?

MABEL (_aside_). Not my portrait after all. Who?

TRIP. Mrs. Woffington.

MABEL. Woffington? No, there was no such name among the guests Mr.
Vane received to-day.

TRIP. That is strange! She was to be here; and therefore I expedited
the verses in her honour.

MABEL (_ruefully_). In _her_ honour?

TRIP. Yes, Madam: the subject is "Genius trampling on Envy." It
begins--(_reads_). "When first from Albion's Isle----"

MABEL. Nay, I do not care to hear them, for I do not know the lady.

TRIP. Few really know her; but at least you have seen her act.

MABEL. Act! Is she an actress?

TRIP. _An_ actress, madam! _The_ Actress!--and you have never seen
her! Madam, you have a great pleasure before you; to see her act is a
privilege, but to act with her, as I once did, though she doesn't
remember it--I was hissed, madam, owing to circumstances which for the
credit of our common nature I suppress.

MABEL. An actor too!

TRIP. And it was in a farce of my own too, madam, which was
damned--accidentally.

MABEL. And a play-writer?

TRIP. Plays, madam! I have written a library of them; but the madmen
who manage the patent houses won't act them and make their fortunes.
You see in me a dramatic gold mine, lost because no company will work
me.

MABEL. Yes, yes; but tell me! this actress:--Mr. Vane admires her?

TRIP. Mr. Vane is a gentleman of taste, madam.

MABEL. And she was to have been here? There were none but persons of
quality--Ah! the news of my intended arrival--no doubt--well Mr.----

TRIP. Triplet, madam! James Triplet, 10, Hercules Buildings, Lambeth:
occasional verses, odes, epithalamia, elegies, dedications,
translations, and every species of literary composition executed with
spirit, punctuality, and secrecy. Portraits painted, and lessons given
in declamation and the dramatic art. The card, madam, (_presents
card_) of him, who, to all these qualifications adds a prouder
still--that of being your humble, devoted, and truly grateful
servant--James Triplet (_bows and moves off,--returns_). The fact is,
madam, it may appear strange to you, but a kind hand has not so often
been held out to me, that I should forget it, especially when that
hand is so fair and gracious as yours. May I be permitted, madam?
(_puts her hand to his lips_,) you will impute it to gratitude rather
than audacity--madam, I am gone--I flatter myself James Triplet,
throughout this charming interview, has conducted himself like what he
may not appear to be--a gentleman.--Madam, I take my final leave.

[_Exit 3 E. L._

MABEL. Invite an actress to his house! but Ernest is so warm-hearted
and generous; no doubt 'tis as Mr. Triplet says; he has admired her
acting and wished to mark his sense of her merit by presenting her
these verses, and a dinner.

[_Music._

These poor actors and actresses! I have seen some of them down in
Huntingdonshire, and I know what a kindness it is to give them a good
meal. (_crosses to L._).

[_Enter Sir Charles Pomander, L. C. down R._]

POM. What, madam, all alone, here as in Huntingdonshire! Force of
habit. A husband with a wife in Huntingdonshire is so like a bachelor.

MABEL. Sir!

POM. And our excellent Ernest is such a favourite.

MABEL. No wonder.

POM. There are not many who can so pass in six months from the larva
state of Bumpkin to the butterfly existence of Beau.

[_Music ceases._

MABEL. Yes; (_sadly_) I find him changed.

POM. Changed? transformed! He is now the prop of the Cocoa-tree--the
star of Ranelagh--the Lauzum of the Green Room.

MABEL. The green room?

POM. Ah, I forgot! you are fresh from Eden; the Green Room, my dear
madam, is the bower where fairies put off their wings and goddesses
become dowdies--where Lady Macbeth weeps over her lap-dog's
indigestion, and Belvidera groans over the amount of her last
milliner's bill. In a word, the Green Room is the place where actors
and actresses become mere men and women, and the name is no doubt
derived from the general character of its unprofessional visitors.

MABEL. And is it possible that Ernest, Mr. Vane, frequents such
places?

POM. He has earned in six months a reputation that many a fine
gentleman would give his ears for--not a scandalous journal he has not
figured in--not an actress of reputation or no reputation, but gossip
has given him for a conquest.

MABEL. You forget, sir, you are speaking to his wife.

POM. On the contrary, madam; but you would be sure to learn this, and
it is best you should learn it at once and from a friend.

MABEL. Is it the office of a friend to calumniate the husband to the
wife?

POM. When he admires the wife, he reprobates the husband's ill-taste
in neglecting her.

MABEL. Do you suppose I did not know of his having invited Mrs.
Woffington to his house to day?

POM. What! you found her out? you detected the Actress-of-all-work
under the airs of Lady Betty Modish.

MABEL. Lady Betty Modish!

POM. Yes; that was La Woffington.

MABEL. Whom he had invited hither to present her with a copy of
verses.

POM. Et cetera.

MABEL. And who in an actress's sudden frolic, gave herself and her
companions those titles without my husband's connivance.

POM. Vane could not have explained it half so well. These women are
incredibles.

MABEL. Had the visit been in any other character, do you think he
would have chosen for it the day of my arrival?

POM. Certainly not, if he knew you were coming.

MABEL. And he did know; why here (_seeing letters on table L._) are my
letters announcing my intention to start--my progress on the road--the
last written from Barnet, only yesterday.

[_While speaking she has gone to the salver, and hastily taken the
letters, which she offers Pomander with triumph. He takes them with an
uncertain air, looks at them--gives them back to her--after a pause--_

POM. (_coolly_). The seals have not been broken, Madam.

MABEL (_bursting into tears_). Unopened! It is too true! Flung aside
unread! and I have learned by heart every word he ever wrote to me.
Sir, you have struck down the hope and trust of my life without
remorse. May heaven forgive you!

POM. Madam! let me, who have learned to adore you----

MABEL. I may no longer hold a place in my husband's heart--but I am
still mistress of his house--leave it, Sir!

POM. Your wishes are my law (_going_),--but here they come! (_crosses
to L._) Use the right of a wife, watch them unseen, and you will soon
learn whether I am mistaken, or you misinformed.

MABEL (_violently_). No! I will not dog my husband's steps at the
bidding of his treacherous friend (_watches Pomander out_).

POM. (_aside_). She will watch them.

[_Exit._

[_After a moment or two of irresolution, Mabel crouches down behind a
chair. Enter Vane C. L. conducting Woffington: they pass without
observing Mabel._]

VANE. But one word--I can explain all. Let me accompany you to this
painter's. I am ready to renounce credit--character--wife--all for
you!

WOFF. I go alone, sir. Call Mrs. Woffington's coach.

[_Exit Woff. followed by Vane._

MABEL (_starting from seat_). Oh, no, no!--you cannot use me so.
Ernest! Husband! (_tries to rush towards L. D. Swoons. Vane returns._)

VANE. Who called me? Mabel--my wife! (_stamps_) help, here!--what have
I done? (_He raises her in his arms._)

[END OF ACT I.]



ACT II.

SCENE.--_A large roughly furnished Garret. Easel with Woffington's
Picture on it, half concealed by a green baize Drapery. Colours,
Palette, Pencils, Maulstick, &c. &c. Mrs. Triplet reclining in a large
chair, and wrapped up like an invalid. Violin hanging against wall.
Triplet seated at small Table writing. Two Children. Wooden Chairs.
Boy is rocking Cradle and singing._

TRIP. Do keep those children quiet, Jane.

MRS. T. Hush, my dears, let your father write his comedy. Comedy seems
so troublesome to write.

TRIP. Yes! somehow sorrow comes more natural to me! (_pause_) I've got
a bright thought; you see, Jane, they are all at a sumptuous banquet:
all the Dramatis Personæ except the poet, (_writes_) music--sparkling
wine--massive plate--soups--fish--shall I have three dishes of fish?
venison--game--pickles and provocatives in the centre, then up jumps
one of the guests, and says he--

BOY. Oh, dear! I am so hungry!

GIRL. And so am I.

TRIP. That is an absurd remark, Lysimachus, not four hours after
breakfast.

BOY. But father--there wasn't any breakfast for breakfast!

TRIP. Now I ask you, Mrs. Triplet--how am I to write comic scenes, if
you let Lysimachus and Roxalana there put the heavy business in every
five minutes?

MRS. T. Forgive them, the poor things _are_ hungry!

TRIP. Then they must learn to be hungry in another room. They shan't
cling round my pen and paralyze it, just when it is going to make all
our fortunes (_rises_); but you women have no consideration--send 'em
all to bed, every man Jack of 'em (_children raise a doleful cry_).
Hungry! hungry! Is that a proper expression to use before a father who
is sitting down (_seats himself_), all gaiety--and hilarity to write a
Com-- a Com-- (_chokes_)? Where's the youngest--where's Cleopatra?
(_Mrs. T. brings child to him--he takes her on his knee._)

GIRL. Father, I'm not so very hungry!

BOY (_who has come to his Father_). And I'm not hungry at all--I had a
piece of bread and butter yesterday!

TRIP. Wife; they'll drive me mad!

BOY (_sotto voce_). Mother; father made us hungry out of his book.

GIRL. Is it a cookery book, father?

TRIP. Ha! ha! is my comedy a cookery book? The young rogues say more
good things than I do--that is the worst of it. Wife, I took that
sermon I wrote--

MRS. T. And beautiful it was, James.

TRIP. I took it to the Reverend Gentleman, and he would not have it,
he said it was too hard upon sin for the present day (_dashes at the
paper_). Ah! if my friend Mrs. Woffington would but leave this stupid
comedy and take to tragedy, things would smile again.

MRS. T. Oh, James, how can you expect anything from that woman? You
won't believe what all the world says--you measure folk by your own
good heart.

TRIP. I haven't a good heart, I spoke like a brute to you just now.

MRS. T. Never mind, James, I wonder how you put up with me at all! a
sick useless creature. I often wish to die, for your sake--I know you
would do better--I am such a weight round your neck. (_Triplet takes
Mrs. T. to chair--then returns with energy to his comedy--boy brings
violin._)

BOY. Play us a tune on the fiddle, father!

MRS. T. Ay do, husband! that often helps you in your writing.
(_Triplet plays a merry tune dolefully._)

TRIP. It won't do, music must be in the heart, or it will never come
out of the fingers (_puts fiddle down--boy takes it and puts it in the
cradle_). No! let us be serious and finish the comedy--perhaps it
hitches because I forgot to invoke Thalia--the Muse of Comedy, Mrs.
Triplet; she must be a black-hearted jade if she won't lend a broad
grin to a poor devil starving in the middle of his hungry little ones.

MRS. T. Heathen goddesses can't help us. We had better pray to heaven
to look down on us and our children.

TRIP. (_sullenly_). You forget, Mrs. Triplet, that our street is very
narrow, and the opposite houses are very high.

MRS. T. James!

TRIP. How can heaven see an honest man and his family in such an
out-of-the-way place as this.

MRS. T. Oh! what words are these?

TRIP. Have we given honesty a fair trial? yes or no (_walking in great
agitation_)!

MRS. T. No, not till we die as we have lived.

TRIP. I _suppose_ heaven is just, I can't _know_ it, till it sends me
an angel to take my children's part; they cry to me for bread, I have
nothing to give them but hard words. God knows it has taken a great
deal to break my heart, but it is broken at last, broken--broken--(_he
sobs with head on his hands on table_).

[_Enter Woffington speaking, L. D._]

WOFF. Wasn't somebody inquiring after an angel? Here I am!

TRIP. Mrs. Woffington!

[_Woff. seeing Triplet's distress, retreats; but presently comes
back._]

WOFF. See (_shows him letter_). "Madam, you are an angel;" from a
gentleman, a perfect stranger to me, so it must be correct (_enter
Pompey with a basket_). Ah! here is another angel! there are two sorts
you know, angels of light and angels of darkness (_takes basket from
Pompey_). Lucifer, avaunt! (_in a terrible tone_) and wait outside the
door (_in a familiar tone. Exit Pompey_). (_Aside._ They are in sore
distress, poor things!) I am sorry you are ill, Mrs. Triplet! I have
brought you some physic--black draught from Burgundy (_Mrs. Triplet
attempts to rise but sinks back again_). Don't move, I insist!

TRIP. Oh, Mrs. Woffington, had I dreamed you would deign to come
here,--

WOFF. You would have taken care to be out. (_Aside._ Their faces look
pinched, I know what that means.) Mrs. Triplet, I have come to give
your husband a sitting for my portrait, will you allow me to eat my
little luncheon in your room? I am so hungry. Pompey! (_Pompey runs
in_) run to the corner and buy me that pie I took such a fancy to as
we came along (_gives money to Pompey. Exit Pompey 2 E. L._).

BOY. Mother, will the lady give me a bit of her pie?

MRS. T. Hush, you rude boy!

WOFF. She is not much of a lady if she doesn't! Now children, we'll
first look at father's comedy. Nineteen dramatis personæ,--cut out
seven. Don't bring your armies into _our_ drawing-rooms, Mr. Dagger
and Bowl: can you marshal battalions on a Turkey carpet, and make
gentlefolks witty in platoons? What's here in the first act? A duel!
and both wounded--you butcher!

TRIP. (_deprecatingly_). They are not to die, they shan't die, upon my
honour!

WOFF. Do you think I'll trust their lives with you? I'll show you how
to run people through the body (_takes pen, writes_). Business,
"Araminta looks out of garret window, the combatants drop their
swords, put their hands to their hearts, and stagger off, O. P. and P.
S." Now children! who helps me lay the cloth?

CHIL. I, and I! (_they run to dresser._)

MRS. T. (_half rising_). Madam, I can't think of allowing you.

WOFF. Sit down ma'am, or I must use brute force (_in Mrs. T's ear_):
shake hands with distress, for it shall never enter your door again.

[_Mrs. T. clasps her hands._

(_Woff. meets the children with the tablecloth, which she lays._)
Twelve plates, quick! twenty-four knives, quicker! forty-eight forks,
quickest.

[_Enter Pompey, who sets pie on table, and exit, looking wistfully at
it._]

Mr. Triplet,--your coat, if you please,--and carve.

TRIP. My coat, madam!

WOFF. Yes; off with it, there's a hole in it (_Triplet, with signs of
astonishment, gives her his coat, then carves pie: they eat. Woff.
seats herself_). Be pleased to cast your eye on that, ma'am (_boy
passes housewife to Mrs. Triplet_). Woffington's housewife, made by
herself, homely to the eye, but holds everything in the world, and has
a small space left for everything else; to be returned by the bearer.
Thank you, sir! (_stitches away very rapidly_) Eat away; children,
when once I begin the pie will soon end; (_girl takes plate to her
mother_), I do everything so quick.

GIRL. The lady sews faster than you, mother.

WOFF. Bless the child, don't come near my sword-arm, the needle will
go into your eye, and out at the back of your head (_children laugh_).
The needle will be lost, the child will be no more, enter undertaker,
house turned topsyturvy, father shows Woffington the door, off she
goes, with a face as long and as dull as papa's comedy, crying, "Fine
Chaney o-ran-ges!"

[_The children laugh heartily._

GIRL. Mother! the lady is very funny!

WOFF. You'll be as funny when you're as well paid for it.

[_Triplet chokes with laughing, and lays down knife and fork._]

MRS. T. James, take care!

WOFF. There's the man's coat, (_aside_) with a ten pound note in it.

[_Girl takes it to Triplet._

TRIP. My wife is a good woman, ma'am, but deficient in an important
particular.

MRS. T. Oh, James!

TRIP. Yes, my dear, I regret to say you have _no sense of humour:_ no
more than a cat, Jane.

WOFF. What! because the poor thing can't laugh at your comedy?

TRIP. No ma'am, but she laughs at nothing.

WOFF. Try her with one of your tragedies!

MRS. T. I am sure, James, if I don't laugh, it is not for the want of
the will. (_Dolefully_) I used to be a very hearty laugher; but I
haven't laughed this two years (_Woffington leads Mrs. T. to chair_).

WOFF. Oh, you haven't, haven't you? Then the next two years you shall
do nothing else.

TRIP. Oh, madam, that passes the talent even of the great comedian.

BOY. _She_ is not a comedy lady.

WOFF. Hallo!

BOY. You don't ever cry, pretty lady.

WOFF. (_ironically_). Of course not.

BOY (_confidentially_). Comedy is crying. Father cries all the time he
writes his comedy.

WOFF. Oh!

TRIP. Hold your tongue. They were tears of laughter, you know, ma'am.
Wife, our children talk too much; they thrust their noses into
everything, and criticise their own father.

WOFF. Unnatural offspring!

TRIP. And when they take up a notion, the devil himself couldn't
convince them to the contrary; for instance, all this morning they
thought fit to assume that they were starving.

BOY. So we were till the angel came, and the devil went for the pie.

TRIP. There, there, there, there! now, you mark my words, Jane, we
shall never get that idea out of their heads----

WOFF. Till we (_cuts a large piece of pie, and puts on child's plate_)
put a different idea into their stomachs. Come, _trinquons!_ as they
do in France (_fills glasses, and touches hers with those of the
children, who crowd round her with delight_). Were you ever in France,
Triplet?

TRIP. No, madam, I am thoroughly original.

WOFF. That's true. Well, I went there once to learn tragedy of the
great Dumesnil (_recites a couple of lines of tragedy à la
Française_). But Peg Woffington was never meant to walk the stage on
stilts;--no, let Mrs. Pritchard pledge Melpomene in her own
poison-bowl, I'll give you Thalia in a bumper of Burgundy. Come, drink
to your new mistress, Triplet (_fills her glass_). Mrs. Triplet (_she
rises, bottle and glass in hand_), I must prescribe for you too. A
wine glassful of this _elixir_ six times a day till further notice.
Success to your husband's comedy! What's this? (_Sees fiddle in
cradle_). A fiddle, as I'm an ex-orange wench! (_Giving it to
Triplet._) Here, Triplet, a jig--a jig. (_Triplet takes fiddle._)
Peggy has not forgotten how to cover the buckle. Come, young
ones--(_Triplet plays. She dances a jig with the children_)--more
power to your elbow, man--shake it, ye sowl! Hurroo! (_She dances up
to Triplet, who, in his excitement, rises and joins in the jig, while
Mrs. Triplet follows their movements with her body._) But come, Mr.
Triplet, you really shan't make me play the fool any longer.
Business!--my picture is to be finished. Mrs. Triplet, we must clear
the studio:--take your cherubs into the bed-room.

MRS. T. (_seizes her hand_). Oh, madam! may the blessings of a mother
watch over you in life and after it, and the blessings of these
innocents too!

WOFF. Pooh! pooh! let me kiss the brats (_kisses them_). (_Aside._
Poor things!)

BOY. I shall pray for you after father and mother.

GIRL. I shall pray for you after daily bread, because we were so
hungry till you came.

WOFF. (_putting them off_). There, there. Exeunt mother and cherubs.
Music for the exit, Trippy--the merriest you can extort from that
veteran Stradivarius of yours. (_Aside._ Heaven knows I've as much
need of merry music as the saddest of them) (_sees Triplet overcome_).
Why, how now? If there isn't this kind-hearted, soft-headed, old booby
of a Triplet making a picture of himself in water colours. (_Goes up
to him--taps him on the arm_). Come! to work--to work, and with a
will, for I have invited Cibber, and Quin, and Clive, and Snarl,
Soaper and all, to see the portrait, which is to make your fortune and
hand me down to posterity not half as handsome as nature made me.
There (_sits_), I must put on my most bewitching smile of course.
(_Aside_) Oh, dear! how it belies my poor aching heart.

[_Triplet, during this, has got his palette and pencil, set his easel,
and begun to work, while Woffington sits._]

Well, are you satisfied with it?

TRIP. Anything but, madam (_paints_).

WOFF. Cheerful soul! then I presume it is like.

TRIP. Not a bit. (_Woffington stretches._) You must not yawn,
ma'am--you must not yawn just now!

WOFF. Oh, yes, I must, if you will be so stupid.

TRIP. I was just about to catch the turn of the lip.

WOFF. Well, catch it, it won't run away.

TRIP. A pleasant half-hour it will be for me, when all your friends
come here, like cits at a shilling ordinary, each for his cut. Head a
little more that way. (_Sadly_) I suppose you can't sit quiet, Madam;
then never mind. Look on this picture and on that!

WOFF. Meaning, that I am painted as well as my picture.

TRIP. Oh, no, no, no! but to turn from your face, on which the
lightning of expression plays continually, to this stony, detestable,
dead daub: I could--(_seizes palette-knife_)--miserable mockery! vile
caricature of life and beauty! take that! (_dashes the knife through
picture._)

WOFF. Oh! right through my pet dimple! Hark! I hear the sound of
coaches--the hour of critique approaches!

TRIP. Two coach loads of criticism, and the picture ruined!

WOFF. (_reflecting_). I'll give you a lesson--your palette-knife
(_cuts away face of the picture_).

TRIP. There will be Mr. Cibber with his sneering snuff-box; Mr. Quin
with his humourous bludgeon; Mrs. Clive with her tongue; Mr. Snarl
with his abuse; and Mr. Soaper with his praise!--but I deserve it all!

WOFF. That green baize--(_gets behind easel_)--fling it over the
easel--so; and now (_shewing her face through the picture_) you shall
criticise criticism, and learn the true weight of goose's feathers.

(_Triplet throws the baize over the picture._)

[_Enter Cibber, Clive, Quin, Snarl, and Soaper. Triplet bows humbly.
They return his salute carelessly._]

CIB. Ough! Four pair of stairs!

QUIN. Well, where's the picture? (_crossing to R. H. with Clive._)

(_They take up positions to look at it._)

TRIP. Mrs. Woffington, gentlemen!

(_Triplet removes the baize and suppresses a start._)

SOAP. Ah!

SNARL. Umph!

QUIN. Ho!

CLIVE. Eh?

CIB. Ah!

QUIN. Whose portrait did you say?

CLIVE. He, he! Peg Woffington's--it's a pretty head enough, and not a
bit like Woffington.

QUIN. Nay--compare paint with paint, Kitty--who ever saw Woffington's
real face?

SOAP. Now, I call it beautiful; so smooth, polished, and uniform.

SNARL. Whereas nature delights in irregular and finely graduated
surfaces. Your brush is not destitute of a certain crude talent, Mr.
Triplet, but you are deficient in the great principles of Art; the
first of which is a loyal adherence to truth; beauty itself is but one
of the forms of truth, and nature is our finite exponent of infinite
truth.

SOAP. What wonderful criticism! One quite loses oneself among such
grand words!

CIB. Yes, yes! proceed Mr. Snarl. I am of your mind.

SNARL. Now in nature, a woman's face at this distance, has a softness
of outline--(_draws back and makes a lorgnette of his two hands, the
others do the same_), whereas your work is hard and tea-boardy.

SOAP. Well it is a _leetle tea-boardy_, perhaps. But the light and
shade, Mr. Snarl--! the--what-d'ye-call--the--um--you know--eh?

SNARL. Ah! you mean the chiaroscuro.

SOAP. Exactly!

SNARL. The chiaroscuro is all wrong. In nature, the nose, intercepting
the light on one side the face, throws a shadow under the eye.
Caravaggio, the Venetians, and the Bolognese, do particular justice to
this--no such shade appears in your portrait.

CIB. 'Tis so--stap my vitals!

(_All express assent except Soaper._)

SOAP. But, my dear Mr. Snarl, if there are no shades, there are
lights--loads of lights.

SNARL. There are, only they are impossible (_superciliously_). You
have, however, succeeded tolerably in the mechanical parts--the dress,
for example; but your Woffington is not a woman, Sir--nor nature!

(_All shake their heads in assent._)

WOFF. (C.) Woman! for she has tricked four men; nature! for a fluent
dunce does not know her when he sees her!

CIB. Why--what the deuce?

CLIVE. Woffington!

QUIN. Pheugh!

WOFF. (_steps out of picture_). A pretty face, and not like
Woffington! I owe you two, Kitty Clive.

(_Mrs. Clive bridles._)

(_to Quin_). Who ever saw Peggy's real face? Look at it now if you can
without blushing.

ALL (_except Snarl_). Ha! ha!

SNARL. For all this, I maintain on the unalterable rules of art----

ALL. Ha! ha! ha!

SNARL (_fiercely_). Goths! (_Quin and Cibber turn up stage laughing_).
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!

CIB. Good morning, Mr. Snarl!

SNARL. I have a criticism to write of last night's performance. I
shall sit on your pictures one day, Mr. Brush.

TRIP. (_crosses to Snarl_). Pictures are not eggs, Sir--they are not
meant to be sat upon.

SNARL. Come, Soaper!

[_Exit._

SOAP. You shall always have my good word, Mr. Triplet.

TRIP. I will try and not deserve it, Mr. Soaper!

SOAP. At your service, Mr. Snarl!

[_Exit._

CIB. Serve 'em right--a couple of serpents! or rather one
boa-constrictor--Soaper slavers, for Snarl to crush (_crosses to L._).
But we were all too hard on poor Trip: and if he will accept my
apology----

TRIP. Thank you! "Colley Cibber's Apology" can be got at any
book-stall.

CIB. Confound his impertinence! Come along, Jemmy!

QUIN. If ever you paint my portrait----

TRIP. The bear from Hockley Hole shall sit for the head.

QUIN. Curse his impudence! Have with you, Mr. Cibber.

[_Exeunt Cibber and Quin, L. D._

CLIVE. I did intend to have my face painted, sir, but after this----

TRIP. You will continue to do it yourself!

CLIVE. Brute!

[_Exit in a rage, L. D._

TRIP. Did I show a spirit, or did I not, ma'am?

WOFF. Tremendous!

TRIP. Did you mark the shot I fired into each as he sheered off?

WOFF. Terrific!

TRIP. I defy them! the coxcombs! as for real criticism, I invite it.
Yours for instance, or that sweet lady's I met at Mr. Vane's, or
anybody that appreciates one's beauties. By-the-bye, you were not at
Mr. Vane's yesterday?

WOFF. Yes, I was!

TRIP. No! I came with my verses, but she said you were not there.

WOFF. Who said so?

TRIP. The charming young lady who helped me with her own hand to
nectar and ambrosia.

WOFF. A young lady?

TRIP. About twenty-two.

WOFF. In a travelling dress?

TRIP. Yes--brown hair--blue eyes! I poured out all to her;--that I
expected to find you; that Mr. Vane admired you; and that you were
sitting to me for your portrait; that I lived at 10, Hercules
Buildings, and should be proud to show her the picture for her
judgment.

WOFF. You told her all this?

TRIP. I did. Do you know her?

WOFF. Yes.

TRIP. Who is she?

WOFF. Mrs. Vane.

TRIP. Mrs. Vane! Mr. Vane's mother? No--no! that can't be!

WOFF. Mr. Vane's wife!

TRIP. Wife?

WOFF. Yes.

TRIP. Then she wasn't to know you were there?

WOFF. No.

TRIP. Then I let the cat out of the bag?

WOFF. Yes.

TRIP. And played the devil with their married happiness?

WOFF. Probably. (_turns her back on him_).

TRIP. Just my luck! Oh! Lord, Lord! To see what these fine gentlemen
are! to have a lawful wife at home, and then to come and fall in love
with you! _I_ do it for ever in my plays, it is all right there!--but
in real life it is abominable!

WOFF. You forget, sir, that I am an actress!--a plaything for every
profligate who can find the open sesame of the stage-door. Fool! to
think there was an honest man in the world, and that he had shone on
me!

TRIP. Mrs. Woffington!

WOFF. But what have we to do (_walks agitated_) with homes, and
hearths, and firesides? Have we not the theatre, its triumphs, and
full-handed thunders of applause? Who looks for hearts beneath the
masks we wear? These men applaud us, cajole us, swear to us, lie to
us, and yet, forsooth, we would have them respect us too.

TRIP. (_fiercely_). They shall respect you before James Triplet. A
great genius like you, so high above them all!--my benefactress
(_whimpers_).

WOFF. (_taking his hand_). I thought this man truer than the rest. I
did not feel his passion an insult. Oh! Triplet, I could have loved
this man--really loved him!

TRIP. Then you don't love him?

WOFF. Love him! I hate him, and her, and all the world!

TRIP. You will break with him then?

WOFF. Break with him! No! I will feed his passion to the full--tempt
him--torture him--play with him, as the angler plays the fish upon his
hook! He shall rue the hour he trifled with a heart and brain like
mine!

TRIP. But his poor wife?

WOFF. His wife! and are wives' hearts the only hearts that throb, and
feel, and break? His wife must take care of herself, it is not from me
that mercy can come to her.

TRIP. But madam--(_a knock at door_). Who's this at such a moment (_he
goes to the window_)! 'Tis a lady! Eh! cloaked and hooded. Who can she
be? Perhaps a sitter! My new profession has transpired!

[_A tap at room-door. Enter a slatternly servant, who hands a paper._]

SERV. From a lady who waits below.

TRIP. (_reads and drops the paper_). "Mabel Vane!"

WOFF. His wife here! (_To servant_) Shew the lady up stairs!

[_Exit Servant._

What does she come here for?

TRIP. I don't know, and I wish to heaven she had stayed away! You will
retire, of course you will retire?

WOFF. No, sir! I will know why she comes to you (_reflects, enters the
picture again_). Keep it from me if you can!

[_Triplet sinks into a chair, the picture of consternation._]

TRIP. (_with a ghastly smile, going very slowly towards the door_). I
am going to be in the company of the two loveliest women in England; I
would rather be between a lion and a unicorn--like the royal arms.

[_A tap at the door._

[_Enter Mabel Vane in hood and cloak, a mask in her hand._]

TRIP. Madam!

MABEL (_crosses to R. hastily_). See first that I am not followed;
that man who pursued me from my husband's house,--look out.

TRIP. (_looking through window_). Sir Charles Pomander! he examines
the house--his hand is on the knocker--no! he retires! (_he rids her
of her hood, mantle, mask, &c._)

MABEL. I breathe again (_hastily_). Mr. Triplet, you said I might
command your services.

TRIP. (_bows_).

MABEL. You know this actress you spoke of to-day, Mrs. Woffington?

TRIP. (_aside_). Curse it! I am honoured by her acquaintance, madam!

MABEL. You will take me to her, to the theatre where she acts?

TRIP. But consider, madam!

MABEL. You must not refuse me.

TRIP. But what can be the use of it?

MABEL. I am sure you are true and honest--I will trust you (_Trip.
bows_). When you saw me yesterday, I was the happiest woman in the
world, for I love my husband; and I thought then he loved me as he
used to do. Two days ago I left our country home--I yearned to be by
my husband's side; I counted the hours of the journey, the miles, the
yards of the road--I reached his house at last--to find that the
heart, on which I had so longed to rest my head, was mine no longer.

TRIP. Poor thing! poor thing!

MABEL. And she who held my place, was the woman--the actress you so
praised to me; and now you pity me, do you not; and will not refuse my
request?

TRIP. But be advised;--do not think of seeking Mrs. Woffington; she
has a good heart, but a fiery temper; besides, good heavens! you two
ladies are rivals. Have you read the Rival Queens, Madam?

MABEL. I will cry to her for justice and mercy;--I never saw a kinder
face than this lady's--she must be good and noble!

TRIP. She is! I know a family she saved from starvation and despair.

MABEL (_seeing Woff. in the picture_). Ah! she is there! see! see!
(_she approaches the easel_).

TRIP. (_interposing_). Oh, my portrait! you must not go near that, the
colours are wet!

MABEL. Oh, that she were here, as this wonderful portrait is; and then
how I would plead to her for my husband's heart! (_she addresses the
supposed picture_). Oh, give him back to me! what is one more heart to
you? you are so rich, and I am so poor, that without his love I have
nothing; but must sit me down and cry till my heart breaks--give him
back to me, beautiful, terrible, woman; for with all your gifts you
cannot love him as his poor Mabel does. Oh, give him back to me--and I
will love you and kiss your feet, and pray for you till my dying day
(_kneels to her and sobs_). Ah!--a tear! it is alive! (_runs to
Triplet and hides her head_) I am frightened! I am frightened!

[_Woffington steps out of frame and stands with one hand on her brow,
in a half-despairing attitude. She waves her hand to Triplet to
retire--Mabel stands trembling._]

WOFF. We would be alone.

TRIP. (_in consternation_). But, Mrs. Woffington, but, ladies!

WOFF. Leave us!

TRIP. I will retire into my sleeping apartment (_retires into inner
room R. H., and puts out his head_). Be composed, ladies. Neither of
you could help it.

WOFF. Leave us, I say! (_he vanishes suddenly_).

(_A long uneasy pause._)

WOFF. (_with forced coldness_). At least, madam, do me the justice to
believe I did not know Mr. Vane was married.

MABEL. I am sure of it--I feel you are as good as you are gifted.

WOFF. Mrs. Vane, I am not--you deceive yourself.

MABEL. Then, heaven have mercy on me! but you are--I see it in your
face, ah! you know you pity me!

WOFF. I do, madam--and I could consent never more to see your--Mr.
Vane.

MABEL. Ah, but will you give me back his heart? What will his presence
be to me if his love remain behind?

WOFF. But, how, madam?

MABEL. The magnet can repel as well as attract--you who can
enchant--can you not break your own spell?

WOFF. You ask much of me!

MABEL. Alas, I do!

WOFF. But I could do even this.

MABEL. You could!

WOFF. And perhaps if you--who have not only touched my heart, but won
my respect, say to me--"do so," I shall do it (_Mabel clasps her
hands_). There is only one way--but that way is simple. Mr. Vane
thinks better of me than I deserve--I have only to make him (_with a
trembling lip_) believe me worse than I am, and he will return to you,
and love you better, far better, for having known, admired, and
despised, Peg Woffington.

MABEL. Oh! I shall bless you every hour of my life (_pause_). But rob
you of your good name! bid a woman soil her forehead so for me!
(_sighs, long pause_) With heaven's help I do refuse your offer; it is
better I should die with my heart crushed, but my conscience
unstained; for so my humble life has passed till now.

WOFF. Humble! such as you are the diamonds of the world!!! Angel of
truth and goodness, you have conquered! The poor heart we both
overrate shall be your's again. In my hands 'tis painted glass at
best--but set in the lustre of your love, it may become a priceless
jewel. Can you trust me?

MABEL. With my life!

WOFF. And will you let me call you friend?

MABEL. Friend! no--not friend!

WOFF. Alas!

MABEL. Let me call you sister? I have no sister! (_timidly and
pleadingly_)

WOFF. Sister! oh, yes! call me sister! (_they embrace_) You do not
know what it is to me, whom the proud ones of the world pass by with
averted looks, to hear that sacred name from lips as pure as yours.
Let me hold you in my arms--so--a little while--if you knew the good
it does me to feel your heart beating close to mine--(_pause_); and
now to bring back this truant--how this heart flutters--you must
compose yourself (_goes to door leading to inner room and opens it_).
And I have need to be alone awhile (_puts her in, comes forward and
sits a moment with her hands pressed over her forehead_). 'Twas a
terrible wrench--but 'tis over; and now--"about my brains" as Hamlet
says--to bring back the husband to his duty--what a strange office for
a woman like me! How little the world knows about us after all (_she
sighs and sobs convulsively_). I ought to feel very happy--pshaw! On
with the mask and spangles, Peggy--and away with the fumes of this
pleasant day-dream--how to bring Pomander hither? Let me see--this
paper (_takes paper Mabel sent up_) signed in her hand; Mabel
Vane--what if by its aid--I have it--pen--ink--one never can find
writing materials in an author's room (_goes to door and calls_).
Triplet! (_enter Triplet from inner room_). Pens and ink--quick!

TRIP. (_gets them, looking at her_). Here, madam--and paper?

WOFF. No, I have that here (_she writes--he watches her_).

TRIP. Her eyes are red--and Mrs. Vane all of a flutter inside. There's
been a storm--but they haven't torn each other in pieces, that's one
comfort. But has she relented, I wonder?

WOFF. Triplet! This note to Sir Charles Pomander.

TRIP. Madam (_takes it_). What is it, I wonder? However, 'tis not my
business (_going--pauses_). But it is my business--I'm not a
postman--if I carry letters I ought to know the contents (_returns_).
Madam--

WOFF. Well!

TRIP. Madam--I--I--

WOFF. I see--you wish to know the contents of that letter--hear them:
"Follow the bearer."

TRIP. Madam!

WOFF. (_reads_). I am here without my husband's knowledge.

TRIP. Mrs. Woffington!

WOFF. (_reads_). Alone and unprotected--signed "Mabel Vane."

TRIP. Her own signature too! Mrs. Woffington--you are a great
actress--you have been cruelly wronged--you have saved me from
despair, and my children from starvation; but before I will carry that
letter, I will have my hands hacked off at the wrists.

WOFF. (_aside_). What a good creature this is. Then you refuse to obey
my orders.

TRIP. No! no! ask me to jump out of that window--to burn my favourite
tragedy--to forswear pen and ink for ever--anything but carry that
letter, and I will do it.

WOFF. Well--leave the letter! (_Triplet runs for his hat_) Where are
you going?

TRIP. To bring the husband to his wife's feet--and so to save one
angel--that's the lady in the other room--from despair; and another
angel--that's you, from a great crime. Trust poor Jemmy Triplet for
once to bring this domestic drama to a happy denouement!

[_Exit L._

WOFF. How innocently he helps my plot! I must have all the puppets
under my hand. If I know Sir Charles, he is still on the watch (_goes
to window_). Yes! (_goes to inner door_) Here--your eldest boy, Mrs.
Triplet; I want him (_enter Lysimachus R. door_). Lysimachus, you
see that gentleman, run down--give him this letter--and then show him
up here (_exit Lysimachus L. door_). And now Mrs. Vane's mantle, the
hood well forward--so--we are nearly of a height--he does not know I
am here--if I can but imitate her voice and rustic shyness--_allons_,
Peggy 'tis seldom you acted in so good a cause (_she assumes the air
of Mrs. Vane_).

[_Enter Pomander behind--Woffington appears sunk in grief--he comes
forward--she starts and gives a little shriek._]

POM. My dear Mrs. Vane (_she shrinks_). Do not be alarmed--loveliness
neglected, and simplicity deceived, give irresistible claims to
respect as well as adoration. Had fate given me this hand (_he takes
her hand_)--

WOFF. Oh, please sir!

POM. Would I have abandoned it for that of a Woffington--as artificial
and hollow a jade as ever winked at a side-box. Oh, had I been your
husband, madam--how would I have revelled in the pastoral pleasures
you so sweetly recalled yesterday--the Barbary mare--

WOFF. (_timidly_). Hen!

POM. Ah, yes, the Barbary hen; and old dame--dame--

WOFF. Best, please sir!

POM. Yes, Best--that happy though elderly female for whom you have
condescended to make puddings.

WOFF. Alas, sir!

POM. You sigh! It is not yet too late to convert me. Upon this white
hand I swear to become your pupil, as I am your adorer (_he kisses
it_); let me thus fetter it with a worthy manacle. (_Aside._ What will
innocence say to my five hundred guinea diamond?)

WOFF. La, sir! how pretty!

POM. Let me show how poor its lustre is to that of your eyes (_he
tries to draw back her hood_).

WOFF. Oh, sir--hark! (_she suddenly starts away and listens in an
attitude of alarm_).

POM. Ah! (_noise without_). Footsteps on the stairs! (_goes to door
and opens it, listening_).

VANE (_without_). Another flight!

POM. Ha! Vane's voice, by all that's mal-à-propos; (_Woffington
screams and rushes into inner apartment_) and now for Monsieur le mari
(_Triplet appears at the door leading to the staircase, with his back
to the stage and speaking off_).

TRIP. Have a care, sir! There is a hiatus in the fourth step--and now
for the friend who waits to forget grief and suspicion in your
arms--that friend is----

[_Enter Vane--Triplet turns round and recognizes Pomander._]

The Devil!

POM. You flatter me!

VANE. So this is the mysterious rencontre--pray, Sir Charles, what is
it you want to forget in my arms?

POM. In your arms! (_Aside._ Confounds himself with his wife.) Perhaps
you had better explain, my friend?

TRIP. Nay, sir--be yours the pleasing duty!

VANE. In one word, Sir Charles Pomander, why are you here? and for
what purpose am I sent for?

POM. In two words my dear fellow, I don't choose to tell you why I am
here--and 'twas not I who sent for you.

VANE (_to Triplet_). Speak, sirrah--your riddling message!

TRIP. There's nothing for it but the truth. Then, sir--the friend I
expected you would find here was Mrs.----

POM. (_to Trip._). Stop, my deplorable-looking friend: (_to Vane_)
when the answer to such a question begins with a mistress, I think you
had better not enquire further: (_to Trip._) Don't complete the name.

VANE. I command you to complete it, or----

TRIP. Gentlemen, gentlemen, how am I to satisfy both of you?

POM. My dear Vane, remember it is a lady's secret--the only thing in
the world one is bound to keep, except one's temper, which,
by-the-bye, you're losing rapidly.

VANE (_aside_). He spoke of griefs and suspicions to be forgiven and
forgotten. Mabel has left my house. (_crosses to C._) Sir Charles
Pomander, I insist on knowing who this lady is. If it is as I fear, I
have the best right to ask.

POM. But the worst right to be answered.

VANE. How am I to construe this tone, sir?

POM. Do as we did at school with a troublesome passage--don't construe
it at all.

VANE. Sir Charles Pomander, you are impertinent.

POM. My dear Vane, you are in a passion.

VANE. By heaven, sir----

TRIP. Gentlemen, gentlemen, I give you my word. Mr. Vane, she does not
know of Sir Charles Pomander's presence here.

VANE. She? s'death, who?

TRIP. Mrs. Vane!

VANE. My wife--here--and with him?

TRIP. No--not with _him!_

POM. I regret to contradict you, my dilapidated friend, or to hurt
you, my dear Vane; but really, in self-defence--you know this
signature (_offers paper written by Woffington_).

VANE. Mabel's hand!

POM. Yes--what my attentions began, your little peccadilloes
finished--cause and effect, my dear fellow,--pure cause and effect.

VANE. Coxcomb and slanderer! draw and defend yourself.

[_draws._

POM. If you will have it!

[_draws._

TRIP. (_throwing himself between them_). Hold! hold!

(_Woffington suddenly opens the inner room door, and presents herself
at the threshold: her hood is drawn over her face_).

TRIP. Mrs. Vane!

VANE. Mabel! wife! say that this is not true--that you were lured by
stratagem. Oh, speak! belie this coxcomb! You know how bitterly I
repented the infatuation that brought me to the feet of another.

(_Woffington bursts into a laugh, and throws back the hood._)

POM. Woffington!

VANE. She here!

WOFF. There, Sir Charles, did I not wager he would confess he was
heartily ashamed of himself? (_crosses to C._)

TRIP. (_aside_). I have a glimmer of comprehension.

WOFF. Yes--we have had our laugh--and Mr. Vane his lesson; as for Mrs.
Vane--this way, madam, and satisfy yourself.

(_Mabel appears._)

MABEL. Ernest--dear Ernest!

VANE (_sternly_). Mabel, how came you here?

WOFF. In such very questionable company as a town rake and a profane
stage-player? Mrs. Vane might have asked the same question yesterday.
Why Mrs. Vane somehow fancied you had mislaid your heart in Covent
Garden green-room, and that I had feloniously appropriated it: she
came here in search of stolen goods--would you could rummage here,
madam, and satisfy yourself if you still want proof, that I have no
such thing as a heart about me--not even one of my own.

TRIP. I deny that--a better heart than Mrs. Woffington's----

WOFF. What on earth do you know about it, man?

VANE (_to Mabel_). But this letter?

WOFF. Was written by me on a paper which by accident bore Mrs. Vane's
signature. The fact is, I had a wager with Sir Charles here--his
diamond ring against my left-hand glove--that I could bewitch a
certain country gentleman's imagination, though his heart all the
while belonged to its rightful owner, and I have won (_sighs_).

VANE. What a dupe I have been--am I enough humiliated?

POM. Ha! ha! ha! My poor fellow, you had better return to
Huntingdonshire, and leave town and the players to us, who know how to
deal with them.

WOFF. And are quite safe against being taken in--eh! Sir Charles?
(_points to ring on her finger_).

POM. Oh, perfectly--we know each other's cards--retain that ring as a
mark of my----

(_Woffington holds up her finger._)

POM. Respect!

WOFF. No, no--I accept your ring; but I shall always hate you.

POM. I welcome the sentiment--I can endure anything but your
indifference.

VANE. And you, Mabel, will you forgive my infatuation?

MABEL. I forgive all, Ernest--(_crosses to Woffington, aside to her_)
what do we not owe you, sister?

WOFF. Nothing that word does not pay for. (_Aside_) Alas! and so ends
the game. You and I have the tricks, I think, Sir Charles--Mrs. Vane
the honors.--Mr. Vane will quit hazard and the clubs for Willoughby
Manor and the double dummy of a matrimonial rubber. As for me, I
revoke my lead of hearts.

POM. After taking my ace of diamonds!

TRIP. And poor Jemmy Triplet I suppose must once again take up his
solitary hand at patience.

WOFF. Unless Manager Rich is fool enough to accept my judgment for
gospel--and then--but whom have we here?

[_Enter Cibber, Quin, Mrs. Clive, Snarl and Soaper; Snarl and Soaper
cross behind to R. H._]

CIB. Ah! Mrs. Vane--Mr. Vane--Sir Charles--Peggy--Bonjour, Mesdames et
Messieurs--Mr. Triplet, I congratulate you--stap my vitals!

TRIP. Congratulate me!

CLIVE. Yes--Quin here, who's a good natured bear, declares we behaved
shamefully to you to-day, and so as Mr. Rich has just told us of your
good fortune----

TRIP. My good fortune! there must be some mistake. You've come to the
wrong house.

QUIN. No; you have a prospect henceforward of dining every day of your
life. 'Tis a great comfort, and I wish you appetite to enjoy it, Mr.
Triplet.

TRIP. Am I awake? Pinch me, somebody--(_Woffington pinches him_) thank
you--I _am_ awake.

CIB. Manager Rich, thanks to Peggy's influence here, and a good word
or two from one who shall be nameless, has accepted one of your
tragedies.

TRIP. Oh, Lord!

SOAP. He! he! I give you joy, Mr. Triplet; Mr. Snarl and I are so
glad, for as Mr. Snarl said to me, as we left your studio this
morning, "I do so wish they'd play one of Mr. Triplet's tragedies."

SNARL. That I might have the pleasure of criticising it. Mr. Rich did
me the honour to ask which of the three we should accept--I told him,
the shortest.

CLIVE. You'll be pleased to hear, Mrs. Woffington, there's a capital
part for _me._ (_Aside_) Now she could knock me down, I know.

TRIP. One of my tragedies accepted at last! Oh, gracious goodness!
Break it gently to my wife--I know I'm dreaming, but prithee don't
anybody wake me. Oh, Mrs. Woffington--my guardian angel--my preserver!
(_seizes her hand_)

WOFF. No, no--we had better wait, and see on which act of your tragedy
the curtain falls.

TRIP. Ah! I forgot that.

MABEL. I need not wait to express my gratitude--say in what way can I
ever thank you?

WOFF. Dear sister, when hereafter in your home of peace you hear harsh
sentence passed on us, whose lot is admiration, but rarely love,
triumph but never tranquillity--think sometimes of poor Peg
Woffington, and say, stage masks may cover honest faces, and hearts
beat true beneath a tinselled robe--
    Nor ours the sole gay masks that hide a face
    Where care and tears have left their withering trace,
    On the world's stage, as in our mimic art,
    We oft confound the actor with the part.

POM. Distrust appearances--an obvious moral--
    With which, however, I've no time to quarrel;
    Though for my part, I've found, the winning riders
    In the world's race are often the outsiders.

VANE. So I have played at love--witched from my will.

MAB. My love was always Ernest, and is still.

CIB. Pshaw! stap my vitals! "Manners make the man,"
    They have made _me!_

SNARL.         'Tis about all they can!

SOAP. Yes; Mr. Cibber's epitaph shall be,
    He played Lord Foppington at seventy-three.

CLIVE. I'm for plain speaking--let the truth be shown--

SNARL. Truth's in a well--best leave that well alone--

QUIN. Its bitter waters why should _you_ uncork?
    No; play like me--an honest knife and fork.

TRIP. That part would be well played by many a poet,
    Had he the practice one must have, to know it,
    But 'tis the verdict by the public past,
    Must sentence scribblers or to feast or fast.
    Be kind to-night: in triplet tone I sue,
    As actor, manager, and author too.

POM. Mind that for sentence when they call the cause on,
    You've at least one Peg here--to hang applause on.

WOFF. Yes; sure those kind eyes and bright smiles one traces,
    Are not deceptive _masks_--but honest _faces._
    I'd swear it--but if your hands make it certain,
    Then all is right on both sides of the curtain.

[CURTAIN FALLS.]


PRINTED BY HARRISON AND SONS,
LONDON GAZETTE OFFICE, ST. MARTIN'S LANE.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on images digitized by the University of
Toronto and posted by the Internet Archive at:

https://archive.org/details/masksfacesorbefo00tayluoft

In general, this transcription attempts to retain the formatting,
punctuation and spelling of the source text. Some minor
inconsistencies and errors have been corrected.

The following changes were made:

--Dramatis Personæ: Mr Lambert--Added a period after "Mr" for
consistency.

--Dramatis Personæ: Mrs. Leigh Murray--Added a period after the second
"Mrs. Leigh Murray" for consistency.

--p. 2: SOAP. (_aside_), Snarl!--Changed comma after "(_aside_)" to a
period.

--p. 2: SOAP (_crosses slowly to Clive_). My dear Mrs. Clive--Added a
period after "SOAP".

--p. 6: WOFF., (L.) "But like the birds--Deleted the comma after
"WOFF."

--p. 9: I dine to day at Mr. Vane's--Changed "to day" to "to-day".

--p. 14: address to many of your admirers, to wiu your
esteem.--Changed "wiu" to "win".

--p. 21: HUNDS (_aside to Pom._). I've marked her down, sir.--Inserted
a period after "HUNDS".

--p. 23: The true _Preux des Dames_, (_regretfully_) went out with the
full periwig--Deleted the comma after "_Preux des Dames_".

--p. 26: QUIN (_she comes forward, aside to Woff._). Hang it!
Falstaff!--Changed "_she_" to "_he_".

--p. 28: [_Cibber, Snarl, and Soaper, go up._]--Deleted the comma
after "_Soaper_".

--p. 28: VANE. Let me shew you to your apartment (_rings bell, leads
her to door R._)--Added a period after the closing parenthesis.

--p. 36: MABEL. Do you suppose I did not know of his having invited
Mrs. Woffington to his house to day?--Changed "to day" to "to-day".

--p. 37: MABEL, (_bursting into tears_).--Deleted the comma after
"MABEL".

--p. 42: [_Mr. W. seeing Triplet's distress, retreats; but presently
comes back._--Changed "_Mr. W._" to "_Woff._" and added a closing
bracket after "_back._"

--p. 43: and wait outside the door, (_in a familiar tone. Exit
Pompey_).--Deleted the comma after "door".

--p. 43: TRIP. (_deprecatingly._) They are not to die--Moved the
period after "_deprecatingly_" to after the closing parenthesis for
consistency.

--p. 45: TREP. My wife is a good woman, ma'am--Changed "TREP." to
"TRIP."

--p. 47: Here, Triplet, a jig--a jig (_Triplet takes
fiddle._)--Inserted a period after "jig" before the stage direction.

--p. 47: WOFF. Pooh! pooh! let me kiss the brats (_kisses them._)
(_Aside_ Poor things!)--Moved the period after "_kisses them_" to
after the closing parenthesis and added a period after "_Aside_".

--p. 48: (_Aside_ Heaven knows I've as much need of merry music as the
saddest of them)--Added a period after "_Aside_".

--p. 49: WOFF. (_reflecting._) I'll give you a lesson--Moved the
period after "_reflecting_" to after the closing parenthesis for
consistency.

--p. 49: The stage direction "(_Triplet removes the baize and
suppresses a start._)" was printed in the source text to the right of
two lines spoken by Triplet and Soaper. The stage direction has been
placed on a line between Triplet's and Soaper's lines.

--p. 50: SOAP. Well it is a _leetle teaboardy_, perhaps.--Changed
"_teaboardy_" to "_tea-boardy_" for consistency with the previous
line.

--p. 51: SNARL (_fiercely._) Goths!--Moved the period after
"_fiercely_" to after the closing parenthesis for consistency.

--p. 57: TRIP. (_interposing._) Oh, my portrait!--Moved the period
after "_interposing_" to after the closing parenthesis for
consistency.

--p. 58: TRIP. I will retire into my sleeping apartment _retires into
inner room R. H., and puts out his head_), be composed,
ladies.--Inserted an opening parenthesis before "_retires_", changed
the comma after the closing parenthesis to a period, and capitalized
"be".

--p. 62: Here--your eldest boy, Mrs. Triplet; I want him (_enter
Lysimachus R door_).--Added a period after "R".

--p. 63: (_Aside_ What will innocence say to my five hundred guinea
diamond?)--Added a period after "_Aside_".

--p. 64: POM. (_to Trip_). Stop, my deplorable-looking friend--Added a
period after "_Trip_".

--p. 70: TRI. That part would be well played by many a poet--Changed
"TRI." to "TRIP." for consistency.





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