Get Your Free Goodie Box here

The World's Greatest Books by Arthur Mee - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

[Pg 25]

An entrance to her son Orestes' heart,
And yet his uprais'd arm her bosom pierced.
The weapon raise, spare not, this bosom rend,
And make an outlet for its boiling streams.

[He sinks exhausted. Enter Pylades.

Pylades: Dost thou not know me, and this sacred grove,
And this blest light, which shines not on the dead?
Attend! Each moment is of priceless worth,
And our return hangs on a slender thread.
The favouring gale, which swells our parting sail,
Must to Olympus waft our perfect joy.
Quick counsel and resolve the time demands.


Act IV

Iphigenia alone.


Iphigenia: They hasten to the sea, where in a bay
Their comrades in the vessel lie concealed,
Waiting a signal. Me they have supplied
With artful answers should the monarch send
To urge the sacrifice. Detested falsehood!

[Enter Arkas.

Arkas: Priestess, with speed conclude the sacrifice!
Impatiently the king and people wait.

Iphigenia: The gods have not decreed that it should be.
The elder of these men of kindred-murder
Bears guilt. The dread Erinnys here within
Have seized upon their prey, polluting thus
The sanctuary. I hasten now to bathe
The goddess' image in the sea, and there
With solemn rites its purity restore.

Arkas: This hindrance to the monarch I'll announce.

[Exit Arkas. Enter Pylades.

Pylades: Thy brother is restor'd! The fire of youth

[Pg 26]

With growing glory shines upon his brow.
Let us then hasten; guide me to the fane.
I can unaided on my shoulder bear
The goddess' image; how I long to feel
The precious burden! Hast thou to the king
Announced the prudent message as agreed?

Iphigenia: The royal messenger arrived, and I,
According to thy counsel, fram'd my speech.

Pylades: Danger again doth hover o'er our heads.
Alas! Why hast thou failed to shroud thyself
Within the veil of sacerdotal rights?

Iphigenia: I never have employed them as a veil.

Pylades: Pure soul! Thy scruples will alike destroy
Thyself and us. Come, let us be firm.
Nor with incautious haste betray ourselves.

Iphigenia: It is an honest scruple, which forbids
That I should cunningly deceive the king,
And plunder him who was my second father.

Pylades: Him dost thou fly, who would have slain thy brother.
If we should perish, bitter self-reproach,
Forerunner of despair, will be thy portion;
Necessity commands. The rest thou knowest. [Exit.

Iphigenia: I must obey him, for I see my friends
Beset with peril. Yet my own sad fate
Doth with increasing anguish move my heart
To steal the image, sacred and rever'd,
Confided to my care, and him deceive
To whom I owe my life and destiny!
Let not abhorrence spring within my heart!


Act V

Thoas alone.


Thoas: Fierce anger rages in my riven breast,
First against her whom I esteem'd so pure;
Then 'gainst myself, whose foolish lenity

[Pg 27]

Hath fashion'd her for treason. Vain my hope
To bind her to me. Now that I oppose
Her wish, she seeks to gain her ends by fraud.

[Enter Iphigenia.

Wherefore delay the sacrifice; inform me!

Iphigenia: The goddess for reflection grants thee time.

Thoas: To thee this time seems also opportune.

Iphigenia: Are we not bound to render the distress'd
The gracious kindness from the gods received?
Thou know'st we are, and yet wilt thou compel me?

Thoas: Obey thine office, not the king.

Iphigenia: Oh, couldst thou see the struggle of my soul,
Courageously toward the first attack
Of an unhappy doom which threatens me;
Must I implore a miracle from heaven?

Thoas: Extravagant thy interest in the fate
Of these two strangers. Tell me who they are.

Iphigenia: They are�they seem, at least�I think them Greeks.

Thoas: Thy countrymen; no doubt they have renewed
The pleasing picture of return.

Iphigenia (after a pause): Attend,
O king, and honour truth in me. A plot
Deceitfully and secretly is laid
Touching the captives thou dost ask in vain.
They have escaped. The eldest is Orestes,
Whom madness seized, my brother; Pylades,
His early friend and confidant, the other.
From Delphi, Phoebus sent them to this shore,
To steal away the image of Diana,
And to him bear back the sister thither.
And for this, deliverance promised he
The Fury-haunted son.

Thoas: The traitors have contrived a cunning web,
And cast it round thee, who, secluded long,

[Pg 28]

Giv'st willing credence to thine own desire.

Iphigenia: No, no! I'd pledge my life these men are true;
And shouldst thou find them otherwise, O king,
Then let them perish both, and cast me forth.

[Enter Orestes, armed.

Orestes (addressing his followers): Redouble your exertions! Hold them back!
And keep a passage open to the ship!
(To Iphigenia) We are betray'd; brief time remains for flight!

[He perceives the king.

Thoas: None in my presence with impunity
His naked weapon wears!

Iphigenia: Do not profane
Diana's sanctuary with rage and blood.
In him revere the king, my second father!

Orestes: Will he permit our peaceable return?

Iphigenia: Thy gleaming sword forbids me to reply.

[Enter Pylades, followed by Arkas, with drawn swords

Pylades: Do not delay, our friends are putting forth
Their final strength!

Arkas: They yield; their ship is ours!

Thoas: Let none annoy the foe while we confer.

[Arkas retires.

Thoas: Now, answer me; how dost thou prove thyself
The priestess' brother, Agamemnon's son?

Iphigenia: See here, the mark on his right hand impress'd
As of three stars, which on his natal day
Were by the priest declar'd to indicate
Some dreadful deed therewith to be perform'd!

Thoas: E'en though thy words had banish'd every doubt,
Still must our arms decide. I see no peace;
Their purpose, as thou didst thyself confess,

[Pg 29]

Was to deprive me of Diana's image!

Orestes: The image shall not be the cause of strife!
We now perceive the error which the god
Threw o'er our minds. His counsel I implor'd;
He answer'd, "Back to Greece the sister bring,
Who in the Tauris sanctuary abides."
To Phoebus' sister we applied the words,
And she referred to thee.

Iphigenia: Oh, let thy heart
Be moved by what an honest tongue has spoken.
Look on us, king; an opportunity
For such a noble deed not oft occurs!

Thoas: Then go!

Iphigenia: Not so, my king! I cannot part
Without thy blessing, or in anger from thee.

Thoas (extending his hand): Fare thee well!



Goethe's fascinating and noble drama, "Iphigenia in Tauris," was first written in prose, and recast into verse in 1786. Inspired partly by his feelings towards Frau von Stein, whom Goethe "credited with knowing every trait of his being," and partly by the "Iphigenia in Tauris" of Euripides, the play is totally different from anything that had as yet come from his pen. Although it lacks some of the pomp and circumstance of the best Greek tragedy, it is written with great dignity in the strictest classical form, admirably suggesting the best in French classical drama. The prominent motive of the piece is the struggle between truth and falsehood. "It is," one critic has remarked, "a poetic drama of the soul." On its production at Weimar, the German public received it indifferently.



[Pg 30]





The Inspector-General


Persons in the Play

Anton Antonovitch, governor of a small town
Anna Andreyevna, his wife
Marya, their daughter
Luka, director of schools
Khelstakov, a St. Petersburg official
Osip, his servant-man
Bobchinski and Dobchinski, independent gentlemen
A Judge, A Charity Commissioner, A Postmaster
Police Superintendent and Constables
A Waiter at the Inn


Act I

Scene.�A room in the Governor's house. The Governor, a coarse and ill-educated official, and several functionaries of the town.

Governor (addressing the functionaries): I have bad news. An inspector-general is coming from St. Petersburg. You must see that your various departments are set in order. The hospital must be tidied up and the patients must be provided with nice white night-caps. The school-teachers must coach up the scholars in their subjects.

[Pg 31]

[Enter Bobchinski and Dobchinski breathlessly.

Bobchinski: What an extraordinary incident!

Dobchinski: A startling announcement!

All: What is it? What is it?

Bobchinski: I will tell you correctly. After you had received the letter from St. Petersburg, I ran out to tell the postmaster what it had announced. On the way Dobchinski pressed me to go into the inn for refreshment. Into the restaurant came an elegant young man with a fashionable aspect. The landlord told us he was an official on his way from Petersburg to Saratov, and that he is acting strangely, for he has been here more than a fortnight, and pays for nothing.

Governor: Good lord! Surely it cannot be he! Been here a fortnight? May heaven help us. You, sirs, get all your departments in proper trim. In the meantime I will take a stroll round the town, and satisfy myself that travellers are treated with due respect.

The governor orders the police to see that the street leading to the inn is well swept. He threatens to punish severely any of the townspeople who shall dare to bring complaints of any kind to the visiting official.

[Pg 32]

Act II

Scene.�A small room in the inn. Osip lying on his master's bed.

Osip: Devil take it! I am famishing. It is two months since we left St. Petersburg. This master of mine has squandered all his money on the way, and here we are penniless. The old man sends his son money, but he goes on the racket with it till all is spent, and then he has to pawn his clothes almost to the last rag. And now this landlord declares he will let us have nothing more to eat unless we pay in advance. Ah, there's the knock.

[He gets off the bed. Khelstakov enters.

Khelstakov: Go down and ask for something to eat.

Osip: No. The landlord will not let us have it. He says we are swindlers, and he threatens to have you put in prison.

Khelstakov: Go to the devil! Call the landlord. (Osip goes.) How fearfully hungry I am. And I was cheated at cards and cleaned right out at Penza by that infantry captain. What a miserable little town this is. They give no credit at the provision shops.

[Enter Waiter.

Waiter: The landlord asks what you want.

Khelstakov: Please bring my dinner at once. I must be busy directly I have dined.

The waiter replies that the landlord refuses to supply anything more, and seems likely to complain to the governor. But presently dinner is brought in. To Khlestakov's great consternation Osip announces that the governor has come and is asking for him.

Khelstakov: What? The landlord has reported me! I'll put on an aristocratic air, and ask him how he dares��

Governor, entering in trepidation and saluting humbly, astonishes him by profuse offers of hospitality and entertainment, though when at first mention is made of taking him to other

[Pg 33]

quarters, the guest in horror ejaculates that he supposes the gaol is meant, and he asks what right the governor has to hint at such a thing.

Khelstakov (indignantly): How dare you? I�I�I am a government official at St. Petersburg. I�I�I��

Governor (aside): Good heavens, what a rage he is in! He knows everything. Those confounded merchants have told him all.

Banging the table, Khelstakov declares he will not go to the gaol, but will complain to the Minister of the Interior; and the governor, trembling and terrified, pleads that he has a wife and little children, and begs that he may not be ruined. The ridiculous misunderstanding on both sides grows more confused every minute. The governor pours forth the most abject apologies; declares that if the people accuse him of oppression and extortion, and even of flogging women, they are a slandering mob.

Khelstakov: What have I to do with your enemies or the women you have flogged? Don't attempt to flog me. Now, look here, I will pay this landlord's account, but just now I have not the money. That is why I am staying here.

Governor (aside): Sly rogue, trying to mystify me! (Aloud) If you really are short of money, I am ready to serve you at once.

The visitor says that he will in that case borrow 200 roubles, and the money is readily handed over; in fact, the governor quietly slips in 200 extra roubles. The governor, convinced that the inspector-general is simply determined to keep up his incognito, resolves to act accordingly, and to tell falsehoods appropriate for mutual deception. He invites the guest to visit Various institutions, and a round is made.


Scene.�A room in the Governor's house. Governor, Khelstakov, and other functionaries.

Khelstakov: Fine establishments! In other towns they showed me nothing.

[Pg 34]

Governor: In other towns I venture to say that the officials think most about their own profit; here we only aim at winning the approbation of the government.

Khelstakov: That lunch was very good! The fish was delicious! Where was it that we lunched? Was it not at the hospital? I saw the beds, but there were not many patients. Have the sick recovered?

Governor: Yes. Since I became governor they all get well like flies, not so much by doctoring as by honesty and regularity. Thank God, everything goes satisfactorily here! Another governor would undoubtedly look after his own advantage; but, believe me, when I lie down to sleep, my prayer is, "O Thou my Lord, may the government perceive my zeal and be satisfied." So I have an easy conscience.

Khelstakov: Are there any clubs here where a game at cards could be had?

Governor: God forbid! Here such a thing as a card-club is never heard of. I am disgusted at the sight of a card, and never dealt one in my life. Once to amuse the children I built a house of cards, and had accursed dreams all night.

Luka (aside): But the villain cheated me yesterday out of a hundred roubles!

Introduced to the governor's wife and daughter, Khlestakov addresses them in the manner of a gallant from the metropolis, and chatters boastfully of his influence, his position, and his connections. His house is the first in St. Petersburg. Meantime, the various functionaries meet in the house of the governor to concert measures for propitiating this great courtier. They resolve to present him with a substantial token of regard. With great trepidation they wait on him.

Judge (entering very nervously): I have the honour to present myself. I have been judge here since 1816, and have been decorated with the Vladimir of the Fourth Class.

Khelstakov: What have you there in your hand?

Judge (in bewilderment drops banknotes on the floor): Nothing.

[Pg 35]

Khelstakov: How nothing? I see some money has been dropped.

Judge (trembling and aside): O heaven, I am already before the tribunal, and they have brought the cart to take me into exile.

Khelstakov picks up the notes, and asks that the money may be lent him, as he has spent all his cash on the journey. He promises to return it as soon as he reaches home, but the judge protests that the honour of lending it is enough, and he begs that there shall be no injunction against him.

Next to present himself is the postmaster, in full uniform, sword in hand. After a little conversation with this functionary, Khlestakov thinks he may just as well borrow of him also, and he forthwith mentions that a singular thing has happened to him, for he has lost all his money on the way, and would be glad to be obliged with the loan of three hundred roubles. It is instantly counted out with alacrity, and the postmaster hastily retires. Also, in a very nervous state, Luka, the School Director, the Charity Commissioner, Bobchinski and Dobchinski, come to pay their homage, and Khlestakov borrows easily from each in turn.

Khelstakov (alone): There are many officials here; it seems to me, however, that they take me for a government functionary. What fools! I must write about it all to Tryapitchkin at Petersburg; he will write sketches of it in the papers. Here, Osip, bring me paper and ink! I will just see how much money I have got. Oh, more than a thousand!

While he is writing a letter Osip interrupts him with earnest assurances that it will be prudent to depart speedily from the town; for people have been mistaking him for somebody else, and awkward complications may ensue. It is really time to go. There are splendid horses here, and these can be secured for the journey. Khlestakov consents, tells Osip to take the letter to the post, and to obtain good posthorses. Suddenly some merchants present themselves with petitions, bringing with them gifts of sugar-loaves and wine. They pour forth bitter complaints against the governor. They accuse him of constant and outrageous extortion. They beg Khlestakov to secure his deposition from office. When they offer the sugar-loaves and the wine, Khlestakov protests that he cannot accept bribes, but if they would offer him a loan of three hundred roubles that would be another matter. They do so and go out.

[Pg 36]

[Enter Marya nervously.

Marya: Ach!

Khelstakov: Why are you so frightened?

Marya: No; I am not frightened. I thought mamma
might be here. I am disturbing you in your important

Khelstakov: But your eyes are more attractive than important business.

Marya: You are talking in St. Petersburg style.

Khelstakov: May I venture to be so happy as to offer you a chair? But no; you should be offered a throne, not a chair! I offer you my love, which ever since your first glance��

Marya: Love! I do not understand love!

He kisses her on the shoulder, and, when she rises angrily to go, falls on his knees. At that moment her mother enters. With a show of indignation she orders Marya away.

Khelstakov (kneeling at her feet): Madame, you see I burn with love.

Anna Andreyevna: But permit me, I do not quite comprehend you. If I am not mistaken, you were making a proposal to my daughter?

Khelstakov: No; I am in love with you.

Anna Andreyevna: But I am married!

Khelstakov: That is nothing. Let us flee under the canopy of heaven. I crave your hand!

Marya enters, and seeing Khlestakov on his knees, shrieks. The mother scolds her for her bad manners, and declares that he was, after all, asking for the daughter's hand. Then enters the governor. He breathlessly begins to bewail the base, lying conduct of the merchants who have been slandering him, and swears he is innocent of oppressing anybody.

To his profound amazement, Anna informs her husband that the great man has honoured them by asking for their daughter's hand. On recovering from his amazement, he sees the couple kissing, and gives them his blessing. Osip enters at this juncture to say the horses are ready, and Khlestakov informs the governor that he is only off to visit for a day a rich uncle. He will quickly return. He presently rides off after affectionate farewell expressions on both sides.

[Pg 37]

Act IV

Scene.�As before. The Governor, Anna Andreyevna, and Marya. A police-officer enters.

Governor (addressing the policeman): Ivan Karpovitch, summon the merchants here, brother. Complaining of me, indeed! Cursed lot of Jews! Little turtle doves! Ascertain who brought petitions; and take care to let them know how heaven has honoured the governor. His daughter is going to marry a man without an equal in the world; who can achieve everything, everything, everything. Let everybody know! Shout it out to everybody! Ring the bells! Devil take it; now that at length I triumph, triumph I will!

The police-officer retires. The governor and Anna indulge in roseate prospects of their coming prosperity. Of course they will not stay in these mean surroundings, but will remove to St. Petersburg. Suddenly the merchants enter. The governor receives them with the utmost indignation, assails them with a shower of vituperation. They abjectly entreat pardon. They promise to make amends by sending very handsome presents, and they are enjoined not to forget to do so. The wedding gifts are to be worthy of the occasion. The merchants retire crestfallen, and callers stream in with profuse congratulations. Anna, with studied haughtiness, makes them fully understand that the family will now be far above them all. All the people secretly express to each other their hatred and contempt for the governor and his family.

Postmaster (breathlessly entering with an open letter in his hand): An astonishing fact, gentlemen! The official which we took for an inspector-general is not one! I have discovered this from a letter which he wrote and which I saw was addressed "Post Office Street." So, as I said to myself that he had been reporting to the authorities something he had found wrong in the postal department, I felt a supernatural impulse constraining me to open the letter.

Governor: You dared to open the letter of so powerful a personage?

[Pg 38]

Postmaster: That is just the joke; that he is neither powerful nor a personage. I will read the letter. (Reads) "I hasten to inform you, my dear Tryapitchkin, of my experiences. I was cleared out of everything on the way by an infantry captain, so that an innkeeper wanted to put me in prison; when, owing to my Petersburg appearance and dress, the whole town suddenly took me for the governor-general. So now I am living with the governor, enjoy myself, and flirt with his wife and daughter. These people all lend me as much money as ever I please. The governor is as stupid as a grey gelding. The postmaster is a tippler. The charity commissioner is a pig in a skull-cap."

Governor: I am crushed�crushed�completely crushed. Catch him!

Postmaster: How can we catch him? I, as if purposely, specially ordered for him the very best post-carriage and three horses.

Governor: What an old fool I am! I have been thirty years in the service; not a tradesman nor contractor could cheat me; rogues upon rogues have I outwitted; three governors-general have I deceived!

Anna Andreyevna: But this cannot be, Antosha. He is engaged to Mashenka.

Governor (enraged): Engaged! Rubbish! Look, look; all the world, all Christendom, all of you look how the governor is fooled! Fool, fool; old driveller that I am! (Shakes his fist at himself) Ah, you fat-nose! Taking a rag for a man of rank! And now he is jingling his bells along the road. Who first said he was an inspector-general? Answer!

[All point to Bobchinski and Dobchinski, who fall to accusing each other. A gendarme enters.

Gendarme: The inspector-general sent by imperial command has arrived, and requires you to attend him immediately. He awaits you at the inn.

[Thunderstruck at this announcement, the whole group remained as if petrified, and the curtain falls.



Nicolai Vasilieyitch Gogol is famous not only as the prince of Russian humorists, but as the real founder of both the modern drama and the novel in Russian literature. He was born on March 31, 1809, in the province of Poltava, in South, or "Little," Russia, and died at Moscow on March 3, 1852. His life was replete with romantic episodes. After a short career on the stage, in St. Petersburg, followed by the tenure of a minor Government office, he returned to the South, and at once found his true vocation and achieved a wide popularity by a collection of stories and sketches of Cossack life, entitled "Evenings at a Farm House," which appeared in 1830. Other "Cossack Tales" rapidly followed, including the famous "Taras Bulba"; in recognition of which, and of his project for writing a history of Russia in the Middle Ages, he was rewarded with a chair of history at St. Petersburg. This he held but for a short time, however. Turning his attention to comedy, Gogol now produced the drama "The Inspector-General" ("Revizor") in 1836, the play achieving a tremendous success on the stage in the spring of the same year, whilst in 1842 his novel entitled "Dead Souls" embodied the fruits of the same idea in fiction. The play is intended to bring a scathing indictment against the corruptions and abuses of officialism and administration. The following epitome has been prepared from the original Russian.



[Pg 39]





She Stoops to Conquer


Persons in the Play

Mr. Hardcastle


Tony Lumpkin

Kate Hardcastle


Sir Charles Marlow

Mrs. Hardcastle

Constance Neville



Act I

Scene I.�Mr. Hardcastle's house. MR. and MRS. Hardcastle.

Mrs. Hardcastle: I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.

Hardcastle: And I love it; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine, and I believe you'll own I've been pretty fond of an old wife.

[Pg 40]

Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, you're for ever at your old wife. I'm not so old as you'd make me. I was twenty when my son Tony was born, and he's not come to years of discretion yet.

Hardcastle: Nor ever will, I dare answer; you've taught him finely. Alehouse and stable are his only schools.

Mrs. Hardcastle: Poor boy, anyone can see he's consumptive.

[Tony is heard hallooing.

Hardcastle: Oh, very consumptive!

[Tony crosses, and Mrs. Hardcastle follows him out. Enter Kate Hardcastle.

Hardcastle: Blessings on my pretty innocence! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl!

Kate: But in the evening I am to wear my housewife's dress to please you; you know our agreement, sir.

Hardcastle: By the bye, I shall have to try your obedience this very evening. In fact, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband, this very day; and my old friend his father, Sir Charles Marlow, soon after him. I shall not control your choice, but I am told that he is of an excellent understanding.

Kate: Is he?

Hardcastle: Very generous.

Kate: I believe I shall like him.

Hardcastle: Young and brave.

Kate: I'm sure I shall like him.

Hardcastle: And very handsome.

Kate: Say no more; he's mine.

Hardcastle: And, to crown all, he's one of the most reserved and bashful young fellows in the world.

Kate: That word has undone all the rest, still I think I'll have him. (Exit Hardcastle.) Reserved and sheepish. Can't he be cured? (Enter Miss Neville.) I'm glad you came, my dear. I am threatened with a lover, the son of Sir Charles Marlow.

[Pg 41]

Miss Neville: The most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer; and such a character. Among ladies of reputation the modestest man alive, but with others��

Miss Hardcastle: And has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual? I could almost love him for hating you so.

Miss Neville: It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anyone but himself.


Scene II.�An alehouse. Tony Lumpkin carousing with the village riff-raff. Marlow and Hastings arrive, and inquire the way to Mr. Hardcastle's house. Tony tells them they cannot possibly reach the house that night, but directs them to it as an inn.

Tony: The old Buck's Head on the hill, one of the best inns in the whole county. But the landlord is rich and just going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, and will be for giving you his company. Ecod, he'll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of the peace. I'll just step myself, and show you a piece of the way.


Act II

Scene.�The hall of Hardcastle's house. Marlow and Hastings have just arrived at the supposed inn, and the supposed innkeeper is paying hospitable attention to their belongings. Enter Marlow and Hastings.

Hastings: Upon my word, a very well-looking house; antique, but creditable.

Marlow: The usual fate of a large mansion. Having just ruined the master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to levy contributions as an inn.

[Pg 42]

Hastings: Good and bad, you have lived pretty much among them; and yet, with all your experience you have never acquired any show of assurance. How shall you behave to the lady you have come down to visit?

Marlow: As I behave to all other ladies. A barmaid, or a milliner�but to me a modest woman dressed out in her finery is the most tremendous object in creation. An impudent fellow may counterfeit modesty, but I'll be hanged if a modest man can counterfeit impudence. I shall bow very low, answer yes and no, and I don't think I shall venture to look her in the face. The fact is, I have really come down to forward your affair, not mine. Miss Neville loves you, the family don't know you, as my friend you are sure of a reception, and��Here comes mine host to interrupt us.

[Enter Hardcastle.

Hardcastle: Heartily welcome once more, gentlemen; which is Mr. Marlow? Sir, you are heartily welcome.

Marlow: He has got our names from the servants

[Marlow and Hastings converse together, ostentatiously ignoring Hardcastle's attempts to join in with a story of Marlborough at the siege of Denain.

Marlow: My good friend, a glass of that punch would help us to carry on the siege.

Hardcastle: Punch sir! (Aside) This is the most unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with. Well, here, Mr. Marlow, here's to our better acquaintance.

Marlow: A very impudent fellow, but a character;
I'll humour him. Sir, my service to you. (They drink.)
Well, now, what have you in the house for supper?

Hardcastle: For supper! (Aside) Was ever such a request to a man in his own house!

Marlow: Yes, sir; supper. I begin to feel an appetite.

[Pg 43]

Hardcastle: Sure, such a brazen dog��Sir, I believe the bill of fare is drawn out; you shall see it. (The menu is produced and discussed in scathing terms. Then Marlow insists on seeing himself that the beds are properly aired.) Well, sir, I will attend you. This may be modern modesty, but I never saw anything so like old-fashioned impudence.

[Exeunt Hardcastle and Marlow.

Hastings: This fellow's civilities begin to grow troublesome. (Enter Miss Neville.) Miss Neville, by all that's happy!

Miss Neville: My dear Hastings!

Hastings: But how could I have hoped to meet my dearest Constance at an inn?

Miss Neville: An inn! You mistake. My aunt, my guardian, lives here. How could you think this house an inn?

Hastings: My friend, Mr. Marlow, and I were directed hither by a young fellow��

Miss Neville: One of my hopeful cousin's tricks.

Hastings: We must keep up the deception with Marlow; else he will fly.

Hastings has planned to elope with Miss Neville; she wishes first to get into her own hands her jewelry, which is in Mrs. Hardcastle's possession. As they complete their plot Marlow enters.

Hastings: My dear Marlow, the most fortunate event! Let me present Miss Constance Neville. She and Miss Hardcastle have just alighted to take fresh horses. Miss Hardcastle will be here directly. Isn't it fortunate?

Marlow: Oh, yes; very fortunate, a most joyful encounter; but our dresses, George! To-morrow will be every bit as convenient. Let it be to-morrow.

Hastings: Pshaw, man! Courage, courage! It is but the first plunge.

[Enter Kate as from a walk. Hastings introduces them.

[Pg 44]

Kate (after a pause): I am glad of your safe arrival, sir. I am told you had some accidents by the way.

Marlow: A few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, a good many. But should be sorry, madam�I mean glad�of any accidents that are so agreeably concluded. George, sure you won't go?

Hastings: You don't consider, man, that we are to manage a little t�te-�-t�te of our own.

[Exeunt Hastings and Miss Neville.

Marlow: I am afraid, madam, I�hem�grow tiresome.

Kate: Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave consideration. You were going to observe��

Marlow: I was about to observe, madam�I was�I protest, I forgot��

Kate: Something about hypocrisy�this age of hypocrisy.

Marlow: Ah, yes. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who�a�a�� But I see Miss Neville expects us; shall I��

Kate: I'll follow you. If I could teach him a little confidence!


Mrs. Hardcastle, Miss Neville, Hastings and Tony enter. In pursuance of their plot, Constance engages Tony in a determined flirtation, to his extreme disgust, while Hastings wins the heart of Mrs. Hardcastle by extravagant flatteries. On the pretext of bringing the "dear, sweet, pretty, provoking, undutiful boy" to a better mind, Hastings gets rid of the ladies, and then offers to take Miss Neville off Tony's hands. Tony joyfully engages to help the elopement, and procure Miss Neville's jewels.


Scene.�As before. Enter Tony with a casket.

Tony: Ecod, I've got 'em. Cousin Con's necklaces, bobs and all. My mother shan't cheat the poor souls out of their fortin. Here's (enter Hastings) your sweetheart's

[Pg 45]

jewels. If I hadn't a key to every drawer in my mother's bureau�� Never you mind me. Zounds, here she comes. Keep 'em. Morrice! Prance!

[Exit Hastings. Enter Miss Neville, and Mrs. Hardcastle, who refuses to let her ward have her jewels.

Mrs. Hardcastle: They are missing, I assure you. My son knows they are missing, and not to be found.

Tony: I can bear witness to that. I'll take my oath on't.

Mrs. Hardcastle: In the meantime you can use my garnets.


Miss Neville: I detest garnets.

Tony: Don't be a fool! If she gives 'em you, take what you can get. I've stolen your jewels out of the bureau. She's found it out, ecod, by the noise. Fly to your spark, and he'll tell you all about it. Vanish!

[Exit Miss Neville.

Kate has reported Marlow's bashfulness to Hardcastle, who has told another tale. She has since learnt Marlow's blunder, and that he has taken her in her "housewife's dress" for the barmaid. She has resolved to test him in this character. She enters at the same time as Marlow, who is studying his notebook.

Kate: Did you call, sir?

Marlow (not looking up): No, child.

Kate: Perhaps it was the other gentleman?

Marlow: No, no, child, I tell you! (Looking up.) That is�yes, I think I did call. I vow, child, you're vastly handsome.

Kate: Oh, la, sir, you'll make me ashamed!

Marlow: Suppose I should call for a taste of the nectar of your lips?

Kate: Nectar? Nectar? We keep no French wines. (He tries to kiss her.) Pray keep your distance. I'm sure you didn't treat Miss Hardcastle so. Are you a favourite among the ladies?

Marlow: Yes, my dear. At the ladies' club up in town they call me their Agreeable Rattle. Do you ever work, child?

[Pg 46]

Kate: Ay, sure. There's not a screen or a quilt in the house but bears witness to that.

Marlow: You must show me your embroidery.

[As he seizes her hand, Hardcastle enters. Exit Marlow. Kate persuades her father to give her an hour to clear Marlow's character.

Act IV

Scene.�As before. Hastings has passed over the jewels to Marlow's care. The unconscious Marlow has told him that the servant by his order has placed them in charge of the landlady. Enter Hardcastle, solus.

Hardcastle: My house is turned topsy-turvy. His servants are drunk already. For his father's sake, I'll be calm. (Enter Marlow.) Mr. Marlow, sir, the conduct of your servants is insufferable. Their manner of drinking is setting a very bad example.

Marlow: I protest, my good friend, that's no fault of mine. They had my positive orders to drink as much as they could.

Hardcastle: Zounds, I shall go distracted! I'll stand it no longer! I desire that you and your drunken pack shall leave my house directly.

Marlow: Leave your house? I never heard such cursed impudence. Bring me my bill.

Hardcastle: Nor I, confound me if ever I did!

Marlow: My bill, I say.

Hardcastle: Young man, young man, from your father's letter I expected a well-bred, modest visitor, not a coxcomb and a bully. But he will be down here presently, and shall hear more of it.


Marlow: How's this? Surely I have not mistaken the house? Everything looks like an inn. The barmaid, too. (Enter Kate.) A word with you, child. Who are you?

[Pg 47]

Kate: A poor relation, sir, who looks after the guests.

Marlow: That is, you're the barmaid of this inn.

Kate: Inn? Oh, la! What brought that into your head? Old Mr. Hardcastle's house an inn!

Marlow: Mr. Hardcastle's house? Mr. Hardcastle's? So all's out. I shall be laughed at over the whole town. To mistake this house of all others�and my father's old friend. What must he think of me! And may I be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the barmaid. I mistook�but it's all over. This house I no more show my face in. By heaven, she weeps! But the difference of our birth, fortune, education�an honorable connection would be impossible, and I would never harbour a thought of any other. Farewell. [Exit.

Kate: He shall not go, if I have power to detain him. I will undeceive my father, and he shall laugh him out of his resolution.


The second couple are about to take flight without the jewels, by Tony's help, when he receives a note from Hastings, which�not knowing its source�he hands to his mother to decipher. She resolves to carry Miss Neville off forthwith, to place her in charge of her old Aunt Pedigree, in the coach prepared for the elopement. Tony being ordered to attend them on horseback, hits on an expedient which he does not reveal, but contents himself with bidding Hastings meet him two hours hence in the garden. The party start on their journey.

Act V

Scene I.�Sir Charles Marlow has arrived, and the two elders have been making merry over the blunder; both are now eager for the marriage. But they are mystified by Marlow's assertion that he is indifferent to MISS Hardcastle, and his assertion is corroborated by what Hardcastle saw.

Scene II.�The back of the garden. Enter Tony, booted and spurred, meeting Hastings.

Tony: Ecod, five-and-twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such bad driving.

[Pg 48]

Hastings: But where are your fellow-passengers? Where have you left the ladies?

Tony: Why, where I found 'em! Led 'em astray, man. There's not a pond or a slough within five miles of the place but they can tell the taste of; and finished with the horsepond at the back of the garden. Mother's confoundedly frightened, and thinks herself forty miles off. So now, if your own horses be ready, you can whip off with my cousin, and no one to budge an inch after you.

Hastings: My dear friend, how can I be grateful.


Tony: Here she comes�got up from the pond.

[Enter Mrs. Hardcastle.

Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, Tony, I'm killed�shook�battered to death! That last jolt has done for me. Whereabouts are we?

Tony: Crackskull Common by my guess, forty miles from home. Don't be afraid. Is that a man galloping behind us? Don't be afraid.

Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, there's a man coming! We are undone!

Tony (aside): Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky! Hide yourself, and keep close; if I cough it will mean danger.

[Enter Hardcastle.

Hardcastle: I am sure I heard voices. What, Tony? Are you back already? (Tony laughs.)

Mrs. Hardcastle (running forward): Oh, lud; he'll murder my poor boy! Here, good gentleman, whet your rage on me. Take my money, take my life, good Mr. Highwayman, but spare my child.

Hardcastle: Sure, Dorothy, you have lost your wits? This is one of your tricks, you graceless rogue. Don't you remember me, and the mulberry-tree, and the horsepond?

Mrs. Hardcastle: I shall remember it as long as I live. And this is your doing�you��

[Pg 49]

Tony: Ecod, mother, all the parish says you've spoilt me, so you may take the fruits on't.


Miss Neville thinks better of the elopement, and resolves to appeal to Mr. Hardcastle's influence with his wife. This improved plan is carried to a successful issue, with great satisfaction to Tony Lumpkin.

Scene III.�The hall. Sir Charles Marlow and Hardcastle witness, from concealment, the formal proposal of Marlow to make the supposed "poor relation" his wife. They break in.

Sir Charles: Charles, Charles, how thou hast deceived me! Is this your indifference?

Hardcastle: Your cold contempt? Your formal interview? What have you to say?

Marlow: That I'm all amazement. What does it mean?

Hardcastle: It means that you say and unsay things at pleasure; that you can address a lady in private and deny it in public; that you have one story for us and another for my daughter.

Marlow: Daughter? This lady your daughter? Oh, the devil! Oh�!

Kate: In which of your characters may we address you? The faltering gentleman who looks on the ground and hates hypocrisy, or the bold, forward Agreeable Rattle of the ladies' club?

Marlow: Zounds, this is worse than death! I must
be gone.

Hardcastle: But you shall not! I see it was all a mistake. She'll forgive you; we'll all forgive you. Courage, man! And if she makes as good a wife as she has a daughter, I don't believe you'll ever repent your bargain. So now to supper. To-morrow we shall gather all the poor of this parish about us; the mistakes of the night shall be crowned with a merry morning.



The Life of Goldsmith, by John Forster, may be found in Volume IX of the World's Greatest Books (see also Vol. IV, p. 275). "The Mistakes of a Night, or She Stoops to Conquer," appeared at Covent Garden, in March, 1773. So convinced was George Colman that the public would endure nothing but sentiment, that he could hardly be induced to accept the play, and was extremely nervous about its success, almost until the fall of the curtain on the first night. Nevertheless, its success was immediate and decisive, and it became established as a stock piece. The play loses nothing by the suppression of sentimental passages between Hastings and Miss Neville, without which Colman would certainly have declined it altogether. Apart from the main argument�the wooing of Kate Hardcastle�the plot turns on the points that Tony Lumpkin is the son of Mrs. Hardcastle by her first marriage, and that Constance Neville is her niece and ward, not her husband's.


[Pg 50]





Atta Troll

A Summer Night's Dream



In the valley lies attractive Cauterets. The shining houses

Gay with balconies, and on them

Stand fair ladies loudly laughing.

Laughing as they look beneath them

On the brightly swarming market,

Where are dancing bear and she-bear

To the droning of the bagpipes.

[Pg 51]

Atta Troll and his good lady,

Whom the people call black Mumma,

Are the dancers; the Biscayans

Shout aloud in admiration.

Atta Troll, who once paraded

Like a mighty lord of deserts,

Free upon the mountain summit,

Dances in the vale to rabble!

Both the music and the laughter

Quickly cease, and shrieking loudly,

From the market fly the people,

And the ladies they are fainting.

Yes, the slavish chain that bound him

Suddenly hath rent asunder

Atta Troll. And, wildly springing,

Up the rocks he nimbly clambers.

In the empty market standing,

All alone are left black Mumma

And the keeper. Wild with fury

On the ground his hat he dashes.

On the wretched poor black Mumma

Falls this much-enraged one's fury

Doubly down at last; he beats her,

Then he calls her Queen Christina.



In the vale of Ronceval

Not far off from Roland's cleft,

And by savage fir-trees hidden,

Lies the cave of Atta Troll.

[Pg 52]

In the bosom of his family,

There he rests from all his hardships.

Tender meeting! All his young ones

Found he in the well-loved cavern:

Well-licked, lady-like young bears,

Blonde their hair, like parson's daughters;

Brown the boys, the youngest only

With the single ear is black.

Gladly now relates the old one

What he's in the world experienced,

Of the overwhelming plaudits

Reaped by his great skill in dancing.

Overcome by self-laudation,

Now he calls on deeds to witness

That he is no wretched boaster,

That he's really great at dancing.



In the caverns with his offspring,

Sick at heart, upon his back lies

Atta Troll; in meditation

Licks his paws, and, licking, growls:

"Mumma, Mumma, pearl of blackness,

Whom I fished from out life's ocean,

Is it thus that in life's ocean

I am forced again to lose thee!

"Might I only once more sniffle

That sweet odour, the peculiar,

Of my black, my darling Mumma,

Fragrant as the scent of roses!

[Pg 53]

"But, alas! my Mumma pineth

In the fetters of those rascals,

Who, the name of Men assuming,

Call themselves Creation's lords.

"Mankind, are ye any better

Than we others, just because ye

Boiled and baked devour your victuals?

In a raw state we eat ours.

"Children," grumbles Atta Troll,

"Children, we must seize the future!

If each bear but thought as I do,

We should soon subdue the tyrants.

"Let the boar but form alliance

With the horse, the elephant

Coil his trunk with love fraternal

Round the valiant bullock's horn;

"Bear and wolf of every colour,

Goat and monkey; even hares, too,

Let them work awhile together,

And the victory cannot fail us.

"Equal rights for all God's creatures,

Be our fundamental maxim;

Absolutely no distinction

In belief, or skin, or smell.

"Strict equality! Ev'ry jackass

Competent for highest office;

On the other hand, the lion

Trotting with the corn to grind."


[Pg 54]


Many an honest, virtuous burgher

Lives on earth in evil odour,

Whilst your princely people reek of

Lavender and ambergris.

Therefore do not make wry faces,

Gentle reader, if the cave of

Atta Troll should not remind you

Of the spices of Arabia.

Tarry with me in the steamy

Confines in the dismal odour,

Where the hero to his youngest

Speaks as if from out a cloud:

"Ever shun men's ways of thinking!

Not a creature that is decent