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THE GOOD-NATURED MAN;
AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.
WHEN I undertook to write a comedy, I confess I was strongly prepossessed in favour of the poets of the last age, and strove to imitate them. The term, genteel comedy, was then unknown amongst us, and little more was desired by an audience, than nature and humour, in whatever walks of life they were most conspicuous. The author of the following scenes never imagined that more would be expected of him, and therefore to delineate character has been his principal aim. Those who know any thing of composition, are sensible that, in pursuing humour, it will sometimes lead us into the recesses of the mean; I was even tempted to look for it in the master of a spunging-house; but in deference to the public taste, grown of late, perhaps, too delicate, the scene of the bailiffs was retrenched in the representation. In deference also to the judgment of a few friends, who think in a particular way, the scene is here restored. The author submits it to the reader in his closet; and hopes that too much refinement will not banish humour and character from ours, as it has already done from the French theatre. Indeed, the French comedy is now become so very elevated and sentimental, that it has not only banished humour and Moliere from the stage, but it has banished all spectators too.
Upon the whole, the author returns his thanks to the public for the favourable reception which "The Good-Natured Man" has met with; and to Mr. Colman in particular, for his kindness to it. It may not also be improper to assure any, who shall hereafter write for the theatre, that merit, or supposed merit, will ever be a sufficient passport to his protection.
WRITTEN BY DR. JOHNSON,
SPOKEN BY MR. BENSLEY.
PREST by the load of life, the weary mind Surveys the general toil of human kind; With cool submission joins the lab'ring train, And social sorrow loses half its pain; Our anxious bard without complaint, may This bustling season's epidemic care, Like Cæsar's pilot, dignified by fate, Tost in one common storm with all the great; Distrest alike, the statesman and the wit, When one a borough courts, and one the pit. The busy candidates for power and fame Have hopes and fears, and wishes, just the same; Disabled both to combat or to fly, Must bear all taunts, and hear without reply. Uncheck'd, on both loud rabbles vent their rage, As mongrels bay the lion in a cage. Th' offended burgess holds his angry tale, For that blest year when all that vote may rail; Their schemes of spite the poet's foes dismiss, Till that glad night, when all that hate may hiss. "This day the powder'd curls and golden coat," Says swelling Crispin, "begg'd a cobbler's vote." "This night our wit," the pert apprentice cries, "Lies at my feet-I hiss him, and he dies." The great, 'tis true, can charm th' electing tribe; The bard may supplicate, but can not bribe. Yet judged by those, whose voices ne'er were sold, He feels no want of ill-persuading gold; But confident of praise, if praise be due, Trusts, without fear, to merit, and to you.
has only served to spoil him. This same philosophy is a good horse in the stable, but an arrant jade on a journey. For my own part, whenever I hear him mention the name on't, I'm always sure he's going to play the fool.
Sir William. Don't let us ascribe his faults to
MR. WOODWARD. his philosophy, I entreat you. No, Jarvis, his good-nature arises rather from his fears of offending the importunate, than his desire of making the deserving happy.
MR. R. SMITH.
THE GOOD-NATURED MAN.
Jarvis. What it arises from, I don't know. But to be sure, every body has it, that asks it.
Sir William. Ay, or that does not ask it. I have been now for some time a concealed spectator of his follies, and find them as boundless as his dissipation.
Jarvis. And yet, faith, he has some fine name or other for them all. He calls his extravagance, generosity; and his trusting every body, universal benevolence. It was but last week he went security for a fellow whose face he scarce knew, and that he called an act of exalted mu-mu-munificence; ay, that was the name he gave it.
Sir William. And upon that I proceed, as my last effort, though with very little hopes to reclaim him. That very fellow has just absconded, and I have taken up the security. Now, my intention is to involve him in fictitious distress, before he has
SCENE AN APARTMENT IN YOUNG HONEYWOOD's plunged himself into real calamity: to arrest him for
Enter SIR WILLIAM HONEYWOOD, JARVIS.
Sir William. Good Jarvis, make no apologies for this honest bluntness. Fidelity, like yours, is the best excuse for every freedom.
that very debt, to clap an officer upon him, and then let him see which of his friends will come to his relief.
Jarvis. Well, if I could but any way see him thoroughly vexed, every groan of his would be music to me; yet faith, I believe it impossible. I have tried to fret him myself every morning these three years; but instead of being angry, he sits as calmly to hear me scold, as he does to his hair-dresser.
Jarvis. I can't help being blunt, and being very angry too, when I hear you talk of disinheriting so good, so worthy a young gentleman as your nephew, my master. All the world loves him. Sir William. Say rather, that he loves all the however, and I'll go this instant to put my scheme world; that is his fault.
Jarvis. I am sure there is no part of it more dear to him than you are, though he has not seen you since he was a child.
Sir William. What signifies his affection to me; or how can I be proud of a place in a heart, where every sharper and coxcomb finds an easy entrance?
Sir William. We must try him once more,
into execution: and I don't despair of succeeding, as, by your means, I can have frequent opportunities of being about him without being known. What a pity it is, Jarvis, that any man's good-will to others should produce so much neglect of himself, as to require correction! Yet we must touch his weaknesses with a delicate hand. There are some faults so nearly allied to excellence, that we Jarvis. I grant you that he is rather too good-can scarce weed out the vice without eradicating natured; that he's too much every man's man; that the virtue. he laughs this minute with one, and cries the next Jarvis. Well, go thy ways, Sir William Howith another; but whose instructions may he thank neywood. It is not without reason, that the world for all this? allows thee to be the best of men. But here comes
Sir William. Not mine, sure? My letters to his hopeful nephew; the strange, good-natured, him during my employment in Italy, taught him foolish, open-hearted-And yet, all his faults are only that philosophy which might prevent, not de- such that one loves him still the better for them. fend his errors.
Jarvis. Faith, begging your honour's pardon, Honeywood. Well, Jarvis, what messages føm I'm sorry they taught him any philosophy at all; it my friends this morning?
Jarvis. You have no friends. Jarvis. Ay, it's the way with them all, from the Honeywood. Well; from my acquaintance then? scullion to the privy-counsellor. If they have a bad Jarvis. [pulling out bills.] A few of our master, they keep quarrelling with him; if they usual cards of compliment, that's all. This bill have a good master, they keep quarrelling with one from your tailor; this from your mercer; and this another. from the little broker in Crooked-lane. He says he has been at a great deal of trouble to get back the money you borrowed.
Honeywood. That I don't know; but I am sure we were at a great deal of trouble in getting him to lend it.
Jarvis. He has lost all patience.
Honeywood. Then he has lost a very good thing. Jarvis. There's that ten guineas you were sending to the poor gentleman and his children in the Fleet. I believe that would stop his mouth for a while at least.
Honeywood. Ay, Jarvis, but what will fill their mouths in the meantime? Must I be cruel, because he happens to be importunate; and, to relieve his avarice, leave them to insupportable distress?
Jarvis. 'Sdeath! sir, the question now is how to relieve yourself'; yourself.-Haven't I reason to be out of my senses, when I see things going at sixes and sevens?
Honeywood. Whatever reason you may have for being out of your senses, I hope you'll allow that I'm not quite unreasonable for continuing in
Enter BUTLER, drunk.
Butler. Sir, I'll not stay in the family with Jonathan; you must part with him, or part with me, that's the ex-ex-exposition of the matter, sir.
Honeywood. Full and explicit enough. But what's his fault, good Philip?
Butler. Sir, he's given to drinking, sir, and I shall have my morals corrupted by keeping such company.
Honeywood. Ha! ha! he has such a diverting
Jarvis. O, quite amusing.
Butler. I find my wine's a-going, sir; and liquors don't go without mouths, sir; I hate a drunkard, sir.
Honeywood. Well, well, Philip, I'll hear you upon that another time; so go to bed now.
Jarvis. To bed! let him go to the devil. Butler. Begging your honour's pardon, and beg ging your pardon, Master Jarvis, I'll not go to bed, nor to the devil neither. I have enough to do to mind my cellar. I forgot, your honour, Mr. Croaker is below. I came on purpose to tell you. Honeywood. Why didn't you show him up,
sir. Up or down, all's one to me.
Jarvis. You are the only man alive in your pre-blockhead? sent situation that could do so.--Every thing upon Butler. Show him up, sir! With all my heart, the waste. There's Miss Richland and her fine fortune gone already, and upon the point of being given to your rival.
Honeywood. I'm no man's rival.
Jarvis. Your uncle in Italy preparing to disinherit you; your own fortune almost spent ; and nothing but pressing creditors, false friends, and a pack of drunken servants that your kindness has made unfit for any other family.
Jarvis. Ay, we have one or other of that family in this house from morning till night. He comes on the old affair, I suppose. The match between his son that's just returned from Paris, and Miss Richland, the young lady he's guardian to.
Honeywood. Perhaps so. Mr. Croaker knowing my friendship for the young lady, has got it into his head that I can persuade her to what I
Honeywood. Then they have the more occasion please. for being in mine.
Jarvis. Ah! if you loved yourself but half as Jarris. Soh! What will you have done with well as she loves you, we should soon see a marhim that I caught stealing your plate in the pan-riage that would set all things to rights again. try? In the fact; I caught him in the fact.
Honeywood. In the fact? If so, I really think that we should pay him his wages, and turn him off.
Jarvis. He shall be turned off at Tyburn, the dog; we'll hang him, if it be only to frighten the rest of the family.
Honeywood. No, Jarvis; it's enough that we have lost what he has stolen; let us not add to it the loss of a fellow creature!
Jarvis. Very fine! well, here was the footman just now, to complain of the butler: he says he does most work, and ought to have most wages.
Honeywood. Love me! Sure, Jarvis, you dream. No, no; her intimacy with me never amounted to more than friendship-mere friendship. That she is the most lovely woman that ever warmed the human heart with desire, I own. But never let me harbour a thought of making her unhappy, by a connexion with one so unworthy her merits as I am. No, Jarvis, it shall be my study to serve her, even in spite of my wishes; and to secure her happiness, though it destroys my own.
Jarvis. Was ever the like? I want patience. Honeywood. Besides, Jarvis, though I could obtain Miss Richland's consent, do you think I could Honeywood. That's but just; though perhaps succeed with her guardian, or Mrs. Croaker, his here comes the butler to complain of the footman. Iwife; who, though both very fine in their way, are
are yet a little opposite in their dispositions, you know.
Jarvis. Opposite enough, Heaven knows! the very reverse of each other: she, all laugh and no joke; he always complaining and never sorrowful; a fretful poor soul, that has a new distress for every hour in the four-and-twenty
Honeywood. Hush, hush, he's coming up, he'll hear you.
Jarvis. One whose voice is a passing-bell-
Jarvis. A raven that bodes nothing but mischief; a coffin and cross bones; a bundle of rue; a sprig of deadly night-shade; a— [Honeywood stopping his mouth, at last pushes him off.
Honeywood. I must own my old monitor is not entirely wrong. There is something in my friend Croaker's conversation that quite depresses me. His very mirth is an antidote to all gaiety, and his appearance has a stronger effect on my spirits than an undertaker's shop.-Mr. Croaker, this is such a satisfaction
Richland and my son much relished, either by one side or t' other.
Honeywood. I thought otherwise.
Croaker. Ah, Mr. Honeywood, a little of your fine serious advice to the young lady might go far: I know she has a very exalted opinion of your understanding.
Honeywood. But would not that be usurping an authority that more properly belongs to yourself?
Croaker. My dear friend, you know but little of my authority at home. People think, indeed, because they see me come out in a morning thus, with a pleasant face, and to make my friends merry, that all's well within. But I have cares that would break a heart of stone. My wife has so encroached upon every one of my privileges, that I'm now no more than a mere lodger in my own house.
Honeywood. But a little spirit exerted on your side might perhaps restore your authority. Croaker. No, though I had the spirit of a lion! I do rouse sometimes. But what then? always haggling and haggling. A man is tired of getting the better before his wife is tired of losing the victory.
Croaker. A pleasant morning to Mr. Honey- Honeywood. It's a melancholy consideration inwood, and many of them. How is this! you look deed, that our chief comforts often produce our most shockingly to-day, my dear friend. I hope greatest anxieties, and that an increase of our posthis weather does not affect your spirits. To be sessions is but an inlet to new disquietudes. sure, if this weather continues-I say nothing-| But God send we be all better this day three months. Honeywood. I heartily concur in the wish, though, I own, not in your apprehensions.
Croaker. Ah, my dear friend, these were the very words of poor Dick Doleful to me not a week before he made away with himself. Indeed, Mr. Honeywood, I never see you but you put me in Croaker. May-be not. Indeed what signifies mind of poor Dick. Ah, there was merit neglected what weather we have in a country going to ruin for you! and so true a friend! we loved each other like ours? taxes rising and trade falling. Money for thirty years, and yet he never asked me to lend flying out of the kingdom, and Jesuits swarming him a single farthing. into it. I know at this time no less than a hundred
Honeywood. Pray what could induce him to com
and twenty-seven Jesuits between Charing-cross mit so rash an action at last?
Croaker. I don't know: some people were ma
Honeywood. The Jesuits will scarce pervert licious enough to say it was keeping company with you or me, I should hope.
Crouker. May-be not. Indeed, what signifies whom they pervert in a country that has scarce any religion to lose! I'm only afraid for our wives and daughters.
Honeywood. I have no apprehensions for the ladies, I assure you.
me; because we used to meet now and then and
Honeywood. His fate affects me. Croaker. May-be not. Indeed, what signifies Croaker. Ay, he grew sick of this miserable life, whether they be perverted or no? the women in my where we do nothing but eat and grow hungry. time were good for something. I have seen a lady dress and undress, get up and lie down; while readrest from top to toe in her own manufactures for- son, that should watch like a nurse by our side, merly. But now-a-days, the devil a thing of their falls as fast asleep as we do. own manufacture's about them, except their faces. Honeywood. To say truth, if we compare that Honeywood. But, however these faults may be part of life which is to come, by that which we have practised abroad, you don't find them at home, past, the prospect is hideous. either with Mrs. Croaker, Olivia, or Miss Richland?. Croaker. Life at the greatest and best is but a Croaker. The best of them will never be canon-froward child, that must be humoured and coaxed ized for a saint when she's dead. By the by, my a little till it falls asleep, and then all the care is ear end, I don't find this match between Miss is over.
Honeywood. Very true, sir, nothing can exceed, love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and the vanity of our existence, but the folly of our pur-slaves.
suits. We wept when we came into the world, Miss Richland. And, without a compliment, I and every day tells us why. know none more disinterested, or more capable of friendship, than Mr. Honeywood.
Croaker. Ah, my dear friend, it is a perfect satisfaction to be miserable with you. My son Leon- Mrs. Croaker. And, indeed, I know nobody that tine shan't lose the benefit of such fine conversation. has more friends, at least among the ladies. Miss I'll just step home for him. I am willing to show Fruzz, Miss Oddbody, and Miss Winterbottom, him so much seriousness in one scarce older than praise him in all companies. As for Miss Biddy himself And what if I bring my last letter to the Bundle, she's his professed admirer.
Gazetteer on the increase and progress of earth- Miss Richland. Indeed! an admirer!-I did not quakes? It will amuse us, I promise you. I there know, sir, you were such a favourite there. But prove how the late earthquake is coming round to is she seriously so handsome? Is she the mighty pay us another visit, from London to Lisbon, from thing talked of?
Lisbon to the Canary Islands, from the Canary Honeywood. The town, madam, seldom begins Islands to Palmyra, from Palmyra to Constantino- to praise a lady's beauty, till she's beginning to ple, and so from Constantinople back to London lose it. [Smiling
again. [Exit. Mrs. Croaker. But she's resolved never to lose Honeywood. Poor Croaker! his situation deserves it, it seems. For, as her natural face decays, her the utmost pity. I shall scarce recover my spirits skill improves in making the artificial one. Well, these three days. Sure to live upon such terms is nothing diverts me more than one of those fine, worse than death itself. And yet, when I consider old, dressy things, who thinks to conceal her age. my own situation,-a broken fortune, a hopeless by every where exposing her person; sticking herpassion, friends in distress, the wish but not the self up in the front of a side box; trailing through power to serve them-[pausing and sighing.] a minuet at Almack's; and then in the public gardens, looking for all the world like one of the painted ruins of the place.
Butler. More company below, sir; Mrs. Croaker and Miss Richland; shall I show them up? but they're showing up themselves. [Exit.
Enter MRS. CROAKER and MISS RICHLAND.
Honeywood. Every age has its admirers, ladies. While you, perhaps, are trading among the warmer climates of youth, there ought to be some to carry on a useful commerce in the frozen latitudes beyond fifty.
Miss Richland. But, then, the mortifications
Miss Richland. You're always in such spirits. Mrs. Croaker. We have just come, my dear Honeywood, from the auction. There was the old deaf dowager, as usual, bidding like a fury against herself. And then so curious in antiques! they must suffer, before they can be fitted out for herself the most genuine piece of antiquity in the traffic. I have seen one of them fret a whole morning at her hair-dresser, when all the fault was her face.
Honeywood. Excuse me, ladies, if some uneasiness from friendship makes me unfit to share in this good-humour: I know you'll pardon me.
Mrs. Croaker. I vow he seems as melancholy as if he had taken a dose of my husband this morning. Well, if Richland here can pardon you I must.
Miss Richland. You would seem to insinuate, madam, that I have particular reasons for being disposed to refuse it.
Mrs. Croaker. Whatever I insinuate, my dear, don't be so ready to wish an explanation.
Miss Richland. I own I should be sorry Mr. Honeywood's long friendship and mine should be misunderstood.
Honeywood. And yet, I'll engage, has carried that face at last to a very good market. This good-natured town, madam, has husbands, like spectacles, to fit every age, from fifteen to fourscore
Mrs. Croaker. Well, you're a dear good-natured creature. But you know you're engaged with us this morning upon a strolling party. I want to show Olivia the town, and the things; I believe I shall have business for you for the whole day.
Honeywood. I am sorry, madam, I have an appointment with Mr. Croaker, which it is impossible to put off.
Mrs. Croaker. What! with my husband? then Honeywood. There's no answering for others, I'm resolved to take no refusal. Nay, I protest madam. But I hope you'll never find me presum- you must. You know I never laugh so much as ing to offer more than the most delicate friendship may readily allow.
Miss Richland. And I shall be prouder of such a tribute from you, than the most passionate professions from others.
Honeywood. My own sentiments, madam; friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals;
Honeywood. Why, if I must, I must. I'll swear you have put me into such spirits. Well, do you find jest, and I'll find laugh I promise you. We'll wait for the chariot in the next room. [Exeunt.
Enter LEONTINE and OLIVIA.
Leontine. There they go, thoughtless and hap