Part 1 out of 3
by Royall Tyler
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THOMAS J. McKEE
THE 'Contrast' was the first American play ever
performed in public by a company of professional
actors. Several plays by native authors had been
previously published, the more noteworthy being the
'Prince of Parthia,' a tragedy by Thomas Godfrey
of Philadelphia, which was probably written, and was
offered to Hallam's company in 1759 (but not pro-
duced), and was printed in 1765, two years after the
A comedy called the 'Mercenary Match,' by one
Barnabas Bidwell, is said to have been performed by
the students at Yale College, under the auspices of the
Rev. Dr. Ezra Styles, President of the College. Dun-
lap speaks of having heard it read, but does not men-
tion whether it was from a manuscript or printed
copy. It was printed at New Haven in 1785.
The 'Contrast,' however, was the first to meet suc-
cessfully the critical judgment and approval of a pro-
fessional manager. This fact alone should redeem it
from the neglect and inattention it has heretofore met
with. Besides, it possesses considerable intrinsic merit,
and as an acting play will compare favorably with
many of the English comedies of the period; and
though, perhaps, meager in plot and incident, it is
bright, humorous, and natural; the dialogue is sparkling
with genuine wit; and its satire aimed at the evils and
follies of the time is keen and incisive. The contrast
between the plain and simple honesty of purpose and
breeding of our American home life and the tinseled
though polished hypocrisy and knavery of foreign
fashionable society is finely delineated, and no doubt
suggested the name of the play. Thoroughly natural
in its plan and characters, it was a bold venture of a
young writer in a new literary domain.
The character of Jonathan is a thoroughly original
conception; nothing of the typical Yankee, since so
familiar and popular, had as yet appeared, either on
the stage or in print.
The 'Contrast' was first performed<2> at the John
Street Theater, New-York City, on the 16th of April,
1787, and undoubtedly met with the approval of the
public, as it was repeated on the 18th of April, the 2d
and 12th of May the same season, and was reproduced
with success later at Philadelphia, Baltimore, and
Boston. It was, as far as can be learned, the first lit-
erary effort of its author, a most remarkable genius,
and one of the pioneers in several branches of our lit-
erature, who, up to within a few weeks of its produc-
tion, had never attended a theatrical performance.
Royall Tyler, the author of the 'Contrast,' was
born at Boston, Mass., July 18, 1758, and belonged to
one of the wealthiest and most influential families of
New England. He received his early education at
the Latin School, in his native city, graduated at
Harvard, and during the Revolutionary War, and
afterward in Shay's Rebellion, acted as aid-de-camp
with the rank of Major on the staff of General Benja-
min Lincoln. It was owing to the latter event that he
came to New-York, being sent here by Governor Bow-
doin on a diplomatic mission with reference to the
capture of Shay, who had crossed the border line from
Massachusetts into this State. This was the first time
that Tyler had left his native New England, and the
first time he could have seen the inside of a regular
theater, thus confirming the statements made in the
preface of the play as to the author's inexperience in
the rules of the drama, and as to the short time within
which it was written, as his arrival in New-York was
within but a few weeks of its first performance.
Tyler was apparently immediately attracted to the
theater, for he became a constant visitor before and
behind the curtain, and rapidly gained the friendship
of all the performers, particularly that of Wignell, the
low comedian of the company. He gave Wignell the
manuscript of the 'Contrast,' and on the 19th of May,
the same year, produced for that actor's benefit his
second play, 'May-day in Town, or New-York in an
Uproar,' a comic opera in two acts. He shortly after-
ward returned to his home at Boston, where, several
years later (1797) another play from his pen, called 'A
Good Spec, or Land in the Moon,' was produced. I
have been unable to ascertain whether either 'May-
day' or 'A Good Spec' was ever printed or not.
Tyler's modesty or indifference as to his literary rep-
utation, as evidenced in his treatment of his plays,
characterized his conduct throughout life with respect
to his other works; so that, of the many productions of
his pen that have been printed, the only one that bears
his name upon the title-page is a set of Vermont Law
Reports. And though early in life he acquired among
literary circles a reputation as a witty and graceful
writer of poetry and prose, it is doubtful whether he
benefited much by his writings, either pecuniarily or
in popularity, as an author. They were undoubtedly
the recreation of his leisure moments, and though
they were thrown off from time to time without ap-
parent effort, they bear internal evidence of being the
result of deep reflection and much reading.<3>
Tyler adopted the legal profession, married, settled
in Vermont, became celebrated as a successful advo-
cate, was elected a Judge, and later, Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court of Vermont, and died at Brattle-
boro, in that State, August 16, 1826.
The success of the 'Contrast' was one of the pow-
erful influences which aided in bringing about in this
country a complete revolution of sentiment with re-
spect to the drama and theatrical amusements. Up to
the time it first appeared, the drama here had met with
few friends, and but little favor.
A single company of English players, the so-called
first "American Company," after a long and bitter
struggle with the intolerance and prejudices of the Puri-
tan and Quakers, had attained some slight favor in New-
York, Philadelphia, and some of the Southern cities;
but in New England the prohibitory laws against all the-
atrical amusements were still in force and were rigidly
executed. The Continental Congress, while not abso-
lutely suppressing,<4> had set its seal of condemnation
against the theater, so that the most reputable and law-
abiding of our people were kept away from all theatrical
amusements, if not from inclination, at least by the fear
of deviating from the plain path of their duty. But
immediately after the production of the 'Contrast,' a
radical change of opinion in respect to the drama is
Plays by American authors followed in rapid succes-
sion, the stigma against the theater gradually and com-
pletely faded away; and when the first citizen of the
United States, the immortal Washington, attended in
state as President to witness a first-night performance
of an American play, the revolution was complete. At
Boston a number of the most prominent, intelligent,
and influential citizens assembled in town meetings, and
passed resolutions instructing their representatives to
demand of the Legislature an immediate repeal of the
laws against theatrical amusements, and upon such
repeal being refused, they subscribed the necessary
funds to erect a theater and invited the American Com-
pany to visit Boston to give a series of performances
there, which invitation was accepted. There was some
interference on the part of the authorities, but the new
theater was erected and performances publicly given
there, while the prohibitory law became a dead letter.
It will be noticed that the frontispiece is from a
drawing by Dunlap, which must have been done by
him shortly after his return from England, where he
had been studying art as a pupil under Benjamin West.
It was evidently intended to represent the portraits of
Mr. and Mrs. Morris, Mr. Henry, Mr. Wignell, and
Mr. Harper, in their respective characters in this play,
with the scenery as given in the last act at the John
Street Theater, the first season, but the inferior work
of the engraver had made it of little value as likenesses.
The illustration to the song of Alknomook is from
music published contemporaneously with the play.
This song had long the popularity of a national air and
was familiar in every drawing-room in the early part
of the century. Its authorship has been accredited
both to Philip Freneau and to Mrs. Hunter, the wife
of the celebrated English physician, John Hunter. It
was published as by Freneau in the American Museum,
where it appears (with slight changes from the version
in the 'Contrast') in vol. I., page 77. But Freneau
never claimed to have written it, and never placed it
among his own collections of his poems, several editions
of which he made long after the 'Contrast' was pub-
lished. Mrs. Hunter's poems were not printed till
1806, and the version of the song there printed is an
exact copy as given in the play. This song also ap-
peared in a play, entitled, 'New Spain, or Love in
Mexico,' published at Dublin in 1740. After consider-
able research, I have become convinced that Alkno-
mook is the offspring of Tyler's genius.
THOMAS J. MCKEE
IN FIVE ACTS:
WRITTEN BY A
CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES;
Primus ego in patriam
Aonio--deduxi vertice Musas.
First on our shores I try THALIA'S powers,
And bid the laughing, useful Maid be ours.
(BEING THE FIRST ESSAY OF *AMERICAN* GENIUS IN DRAMATIC ART)
IS MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
THE PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE
THEIR MOST OBLIGED
MOST GRATEFUL SERVANT,
1 January, 1790
WRITTEN BY A YOUNG GENTLEMAN OF NEW-YORK,
AND SPOKEN BY MR. WIGNELL
EXULT, each patriot heart!--this night is shewn
A piece, which we may fairly call our own;
Where the proud titles of "My Lord! Your Grace!"
To humble Mr. and plain Sir give place.
Our Author pictures not from foreign climes
The fashions or the follies of the times;
But has confin'd the subject of his work
To the gay scenes--the circles of New-York.
On native themes his Muse displays her pow'rs;
If ours the faults, the virtues too are ours.
Why should our thoughts to distant countries roam,
When each refinement may be found at home?
Who travels now to ape the rich or great,
To deck an equipage and roll in state;
To court the graces, or to dance with ease,
Or by hypocrisy to strive to please?
Our free-born ancestors such arts despis'd;
Genuine sincerity alone they pris'd;
Their minds, with honest emulation fir'd;
To solid good--not ornament--aspir'd;
Or, if ambition rous'd a bolder flame,
Stern virtue throve, where indolence was shame.
But modern youths, with imitative sense,
Deem taste in dress the proof of excellence;
And spurn the meanness of your homespun arts,
Since homespun habits would obscure their parts;
Whilst all, which aims at splendour and parade,
Must come from Europe, and be ready made.
Strange! We should thus our native worth disclaim,
And check the progress of our rising fame.
Yet one, whilst imitation bears the sway,
Aspires to nobler heights, and points the way.
Be rous'd, my friends! his bold example view;
Let your own Bards be proud to copy you!
Should rigid critics reprobate our play,
At least the patriotic heart will say,
"Glorious our fall, since in a noble cause.
"The bold attempt alone demands applause."
Still may the wisdom of the Comic Muse
Exalt your merits, or your faults accuse.
But think not, tis her aim to be severe;--
We all are mortals, and as mortals err.
If candour pleases, we are truly blest;
Vice trembles, when compell'd to stand confess'd.
Let not light Censure on your faults offend,
Which aims not to expose them, but amend.
Thus does our Author to your candour trust;
Conscious, the free are generous, as just.
Col. MANLY, Mr Henry. Mr Hallam.
DIMPLE, Mr Hallam. Mr Harper.
VANROUGH, Mr Morris. Mr Morris.
JESSAMY, Mr Harper. Mr Biddle.
JONATHAN, Mr Wignell. Mr Wignell.
CHARLOTTE, Mrs Morris. Mrs Morris.
MARIA, Mrs Harper. Mrs Harper.
LETITIA, Mrs Kenna. Mrs Williamson.
JENNY, Miss Tuke. Miss W. Tuke.
Scene, an Apartment at CHARLOTTE'S.
CHARLOTTE and LETITIA discovered.
AND so, Charlotte, you really think the pocket-
No, I don't say so. It may be very becoming to
saunter round the house of a rainy day; to visit my
grand-mamma, or to go to Quakers' meeting: but to
swim in a minuet, with the eyes of fifty well-dressed
beaux upon me, to trip it in the Mall, or walk on the
battery, give me the luxurious, jaunty, flowing, bell-
hoop. It would have delighted you to have seen me
the last evening, my charming girl! I was dangling
o'er the battery with Billy Dimple; a knot of young
fellows were upon the platform; as I passed them I
faultered with one of the most bewitching false steps
you ever saw, and then recovered myself with such a
pretty confusion, flirting my hoop to discover a jet
black shoe and brilliant buckle. Gad! how my little
heart thrilled to hear the confused raptures of--
"Demme, Jack, what a delicate foot!" "Ha! Gen-
eral, what a well-turned--"
Fie! fie! Charlotte [stopping her mouth], I protest
you are quite a libertine.
Why, my dear little prude, are we not all such
libertines? Do you think, when I sat tortured two
hours under the hands of my friseur, and an hour
more at my toilet, that I had any thoughts of my aunt
Susan, or my cousin Betsey? though they are both
allowed to be critical judges of dress.
Why, who should we dress to please, but those
are judges of its merit?
Why, a creature who does not know Buffon from
Souflee--Man!--my Letitia--Man! for whom we
dress, walk, dance, talk, lisp, languish, and smile.
Does not the grave Spectator assure us that even our
much bepraised diffidence, modesty, and blushes are
all directed to make ourselves good wives and mothers
as fast as we can? Why, I'll undertake with one flirt
of this hoop to bring more beaux to my feet in one
week than the grave Maria, and her sentimental
circle, can do, by sighing sentiment till their hairs
Well, I won't argue with you; you always out-talk
me; let us change the subject. I hear that Mr. Dim-
ple and Maria are soon to be married.
You hear true. I was consulted in the choice
of the wedding clothes. She is to be married in a
delicate white sattin, and has a monstrous pretty
brocaded lutestring for the second day. It would
have done you good to have seen with what an
affected indifference the dear sentimentalist turned
over a thousand pretty things, just as if her heart
did not palpitate with her approaching happiness,
and at last made her choice and arranged her dress
with such apathy as if she did not know that plain
white sattin and a simple blond lace would shew her
clear skin and dark hair to the greatest advantage.
But they say her indifference to dress, and even to
the gentleman himself, is not entirely affected.
It is whispered that if Maria gives her hand to Mr.
Dimple, it will be without her heart.
Though the giving the heart is one of the last of all
laughable considerations in the marriage of a girl of
spirit, yet I should like to hear what antiquated notions
the dear little piece of old-fashioned prudery has got
in her head.
Why, you know that old Mr. John-Richard-Robert-
Jacob-Isaac-Abraham-Cornelius Van Dumpling, Billy
Dimple's father (for he has thought fit to soften his
name, as well as manners, during his English tour),
was the most intimate friend of Maria's father. The
old folks, about a year before Mr. Van Dumpling's
death, proposed this match: the young folks were
accordingly introduced, and told they must love one
another. Billy was then a good-natured, decent-dress-
ing young fellow, with a little dash of the coxcomb,
such as our young fellows of fortune usually have. At
this time, I really believe she thought she loved him;
and had they been married, I doubt not they
might have jogged on, to the end of the chapter, a
good kind of a sing-song lack-a-daysaical life, as other
honest married folks do.
Why did they not then marry?
Upon the death of his father, Billy went to England
to see the world and rub off a little of the patroon
rust. During his absence, Maria, like a good girl, to
keep herself constant to her nown true-love, avoided
company, and betook herself, for her amusement, to
her books, and her dear Billy's letters. But, alas!
how many ways has the mischievous demon of incon-
stancy of stealing into a woman's heart! Her love was
destroyed by the very means she took to support it.
How?--Oh! I have it--some likely young beau
found the way to her study.
Be patient, Charlotte; your head so runs upon
beaux. Why, she read Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa
Harlow, Shenstone, and the Sentimental Journey; and
between whiles, as I said, Billy's letters. But, as her
taste improved, her love declined. The contrast was
so striking betwixt the good sense of her books and
the flimsiness of her love-letters, that she discovered
she had unthinkingly engaged her hand without her
heart; and then the whole transaction, managed by
the old folks, now appeared so unsentimental, and
looked so like bargaining for a bale of goods, that she
found she ought to have rejected, according to every
rule of romance, even the man of her choice, if im-
posed upon her in that manner. Clary Harlow
would have scorned such a match.
Well, how was it on Mr. Dimple's return? Did he
meet a more favourable reception than his letters?
Much the same. She spoke of him with respect
abroad, and with contempt in her closet. She watched
his conduct and conversation, and found that he had
by travelling, acquired the wickedness of Lovelace
without his wit, and the politeness of Sir Charles Gran-
dison without his generosity. The ruddy youth, who
washed his face at the cistern every morning, and
swore and looked eternal love and constancy, was now
metamorphosed into a flippant, palid, polite beau, who
devotes the morning to his toilet, reads a few pages of
Chesterfield's letters, and then minces out, to put the
infamous principles in practice upon every woman he
But, if she is so apt at conjuring up these senti-
mental bugbears, why does she not discard him at
Why, she thinks her word too sacred to be trifled
with. Besides, her father, who has a great respect
for the memory of his deceased friend, is ever tell-
ing her how he shall renew his years in their union,
and repeating the dying injunctions of old Van
A mighty pretty story! And so you would make
me believe that the sensible Maria would give up
Dumpling manor, and the all-accomplished Dimple as
a husband, for the absurd, ridiculous reason, forsooth,
because she despises and abhors him. Just as if a
lady could not be privileged to spend a man's fortune,
ride in his carriage, be called after his name, and call
him her nown dear lovee when she wants money, with-
out loving and respecting the great he-creature. Oh!
my dear girl, you are a monstrous prude.
I don't say what I would do; I only intimate how
I suppose she wishes to act.
No, no, no! A fig for sentiment. If she breaks, or
wishes to break, with Mr. Dimple, depend upon it, she
has some other man in her eye. A woman rarely dis-
cards one lover until she is sure of another. Letitia
little thinks what a clue I have to Dimple's conduct.
The generous man submits to render himself disgust-
ing to Maria, in order that she may leave him at lib-
erty to address me. I must change the subject.
[Aside, and rings a bell.
Frank, order the horses to.--Talking of marriage,
did you hear that Sally Bloomsbury is going to be
married next week to Mr. Indigo, the rich Carolinian?
Sally Bloomsbury married!--why, she is not yet in
I do not know how that is, but you may depend
upon it, 'tis a done affair. I have it from the best au-
thority. There is my aunt Wyerly's Hannah. You
know Hannah; though a black, she is a wench that
was never caught in a lie in her life. Now, Hannah
has a brother who courts Sarah, Mrs. Catgut the mil-
liner's girl, and she told Hannah's brother, and Han-
nah, who, as I said before, is a girl of undoubted
veracity, told it directly to me, that Mrs. Catgut was
making a new cap for Miss Bloomsbury, which, as it
was very dressy, it is very probable is designed for a
wedding cap. Now, as she is to be married, who can
it be to but to Mr. Indigo? Why, there is no other
gentleman that visits at her papa's.
Say not a word more, Charlotte. Your intelligence
is so direct and well grounded, it is almost a pity that
it is not a piece of scandal.
Oh! I am the pink of prudence. Though I cannot
charge myself with ever having discredited a tea-party
by my silence, yet I take care never to report any
thing of my acquaintance, especially if it is to their
credit,--discredit, I mean,--until I have searched to
the bottom of it. It is true, there is infinite pleasure
in this charitable pursuit. Oh! how delicious to go
and condole with the friends of some backsliding
sister, or to retire with some old dowager or maiden
aunt of the family, who love scandal so well that they
cannot forbear gratifying their appetite at the expense
of the reputation of their nearest relations! And then
to return full fraught with a rich collection of circum-
stances, to retail to the next circle of our acquaintance
under the strongest injunctions of secrecy,--ha, ha,
ha!--interlarding the melancholy tale with so many
doleful shakes of the head, and more doleful "Ah!
who would have thought it! so amiable, so prudent
a young lady, as we all thought her, what a mon-
strous pity! well, I have nothing to charge myself
with; I acted the part of a friend, I warned her of
the principles of that rake, I told her what would be
the consequence; I told her so, I told her so."--Ha,
Ha, ha, ha! Well, but, Charlotte, you don't tell
me what you think of Miss Bloomsbury's match.
Think! why I think it is probable she cried for a
plaything, and they have given her a husband. Well,
well, well, the puling chit shall not be deprived of her
plaything: 'tis only exchanging London dolls for
American babies.--Apropos, of babies, have you
heard what Mrs. Affable's high-flying notions of deli-
cacy have come to?
Who, she that was Miss Lovely?
The same; she married Bob Affable of Schenectady.
Don't you remember?
Madam, the carriage is ready.
Shall we go to the stores first, or visiting?
I should think it rather too early to visit, especially
Mrs. Prim; you know she is so particular.
Well, but what of Mrs. Affable?
Oh, I'll tell you as we go; come, come, let us
hasten. I hear Mrs. Catgut has some of the prettiest
caps arrived you ever saw. I shall die if I have not
the first sight of them. [Exeunt.
[page intentionally blank]
A Room in VAN ROUGH'S House
MARIA sitting disconsolate at a Table, with Books, &c.
The sun sets in night, and the stars shun the day;
But glory remains when their lights fade away!
Begin, ye tormentors! your threats are in vain,
For the son of Alknomook shall never complain.
Remember the arrows he shot from his bow;
Remember your chiefs by his hatchet laid low:
Why so slow?--do you wait till I shrink from the pain?
No--the son of Alknomook will never complain.
Remember the wood where in ambush we lay,
And the scalps which we bore from your nation away:
Now the flame rises fast, you exult in my pain;
But the son of Alknomook can never complain.
I go to the land where my father is gone;
His ghost shall rejoice in the fame of his son:
Death comes like a friend, he relieves me from pain;
And thy son, Oh Alknomook! has scorn'd to complain.
There is something in this song which ever calls
forth my affections. The manly virtue of courage,
that fortitude which steels the heart against the keenest
misfortunes, which interweaves the laurel of glory
amidst the instruments of torture and death, displays
something so noble, so exalted, that in despite of the
prejudices of education I cannot but admire it, even
in a savage. The prepossession which our sex is
supposed to entertain for the character of a soldier is,
I know, a standing piece of raillery among the wits.
A cockade, a lapell'd coat, and a feather, they will
tell you, are irresistible by a female heart. Let it be
so. Who is it that considers the helpless situation of
our sex, that does not see that we each moment stand
in need of a protector, and that a brave one too?
Formed of the more delicate materials of nature,
endowed only with the softer passions, incapable,
from our ignorance of the world, to guard against the
wiles of mankind, our security for happiness often
depends upon their generosity and courage. Alas!
how little of the former do we find! How inconsis-
tent! that man should be leagued to destroy that
honour upon which solely rests his respect and
esteem. Ten thousand temptations allure us, ten
thousand passions betray us; yet the smallest deviation
from the path of rectitude is followed by the contempt
and insult of man, and the more remorseless pity of
woman; years of penitence and tears cannot wash
away the stain, nor a life of virtue obliterate its
remembrance. Reputation is the life of woman; yet
courage to protect it is masculine and disgusting;
and the only safe asylum a woman of delicacy can
find is in the arms of a man of honour. How
naturally, then, should we love the brave and the
generous; how gratefully should we bless the arm
raised for our protection, when nerv'd by virtue and
directed by honour! Heaven grant that the man
with whom I may be connected--may be connected!
Whither has my imagination transported me--whither
does it now lead me? Am I not indissolubly
engaged, "by every obligation of honour which my
own consent and my father's approbation can give,"
to a man who can never share my affections, and
whom a few days hence it will be criminal for me to
disapprove--to disapprove! would to heaven that
were all--to despise. For, can the most frivolous
manners, actuated by the most depraved heart, meet,
or merit, anything but contempt from every woman
of delicacy and sentiment?
[VAN ROUGH without. Mary!]
Ha! my father's voice--Sir!--
[Enter VAN ROUGH.
What, Mary, always singing doleful ditties, and
moping over these plaguy books.
I hope, Sir, that it is not criminal to improve my
mind with books, or to divert my melancholy with
singing, at my leisure hours.
Why, I don't know that, child; I don't know that.
They us'd to say, when I was a young man, that if a
woman knew how to make a pudding, and to keep
herself out of fire and water, she knew enough for a
wife. Now, what good have these books done you?
have they not made you melancholy? as you call it.
Pray, what right has a girl of your age to be in the
dumps? haven't you everything your heart can wish;
an't you going to be married to a young man of great
fortune; an't you going to have the quit-rent of twenty
One-hundredth part of the land, and a lease for life
of the heart of a man I could love, would satisfy me.
Pho, pho, pho! child; nonsense, downright non-
sense, child. This comes of your reading your story-
books; your Charles Grandisons, your Sentimental
Journals, and your Robinson Crusoes, and such other
trumpery. No, no, no! child; it is money makes the
mare go; keep your eye upon the main chance, Mary.
Marriage, Sir, is, indeed, a very serious affair.
You are right, child; you are right. I am sure I
found it so, to my cost.
I mean, Sir, that as marriage is a portion for life,
and so intimately involves our happiness, we cannot
be too considerate in the choice of our companion.
Right, child; very right. A young woman should
be very sober when she is making her choice, but
when she has once made it, as you have done, I don't
see why she should not be as merry as a grig; I am
sure she has reason enough to be so. Solomon says
that "there is a time to laugh, and a time to weep."
Now, a time for a young woman to laugh is when she
has made sure of a good rich husband. Now, a time
to cry, according to you, Mary, is when she is making
choice of him; but I should think that a young
woman's time to cry was when she despaired of
getting one. Why, there was your mother, now: to be
sure, when I popp'd the question to her she did look
a little silly; but when she had once looked down on
her apron-strings, as all modest young women us'd to
do, and drawled out ye-s, she was as brisk and as
merry as a bee.
My honoured mother, Sir, had no motive to mel-
ancholy; she married the man of her choice.
The man of her choice! And pray, Mary, an't you
going to marry the man of your choice--what trum-
pery notion is this? It is these vile books [throwing
them away]. I'd have you to know, Mary, if you
won't make young Van Dumpling the man of your
choice, you shall marry him as the man of my choice.
You terrify me, Sir. Indeed, Sir, I am all submission.
My will is yours.
Why, that is the way your mother us'd to talk.
"My will is yours, my dear Mr. Van Rough, my will
is yours"; but she took special care to have her
own way, though, for all that.
Do not reflect upon my mother's memory, Sir--
Why not, Mary, why not? She kept me from speak-
ing my mind all her life, and do you think she shall
henpeck me now she is dead too? Come, come;
don't go to sniveling; be a good girl, and mind the
main chance. I'll see you well settled in the world.
I do not doubt your love, Sir, and it is my duty to
obey you. I will endeavour to make my duty and
inclination go hand in hand.
Well, Well, Mary; do you be a good girl, mind the
main chance, and never mind inclination. Why, do
you know that I have been down in the cellar this
very morning to examine a pipe of Madeira which I
purchased the week you were born, and mean to tap on
your wedding day?--That pipe cost me fifty pounds
sterling. It was well worth sixty pounds; but I over-
reach'd Ben Bulkhead, the supercargo. I'll tell you
the whole story. You must know that--
Sir, Mr. Transfer, the broker is below. [Exit.
Well, Mary, I must go. Remember, and be a good
girl, and mind the main chance. [Exit.
How deplorable is my situation! How distressing
for a daughter to find her heart militating with her
filial duty! I know my father loves me tenderly; why
then do I reluctantly obey him? Heaven knows!
with what reluctance I should oppose the will of a
parent, or set an example of filial disobedience; at a
parent's command, I could wed awkwardness and
deformity. Were the heart of my husband good, I
would so magnify his good qualities with the eye
of conjugal affection, that the defects of his person
and manners should be lost in the emanation of his
virtues. At a father's command, I could embrace
poverty. Were the poor man my husband, I would
learn resignation to my lot; I would enliven our frugal
meal with good humour, and chase away misfortune
from our cottage with a smile. At a father's command,
I could almost submit to what every female heart
knows to be the most mortifying, to marry a weak
man, and blush at my husband's folly in every com-
pany I visited. But to marry a depraved wretch,
whose only virtue is a polished exterior; who is
actuated by the unmanly ambition of conquering the
defenceless; whose heart, insensible to the emotions
of patriotism, dilates at the plaudits of every unthink-
ing girl; whose laurels are the sighs and tears of the
miserable victims of his specious behaviour,--can he,
who has no regard for the peace and happiness of
other families, ever have a due regard for the peace
and happiness of his own? Would to heaven that
my father were not so hasty in his temper? Surely,
if I were to state my reasons for declining this match,
he would not compel me to marry a man, whom,
though my lips may solemnly promise to honour, I
find my heart must ever despise. [Exit.
END OF THE FIRST ACT.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Enter CHARLOTTE and LETITIA.
CHARLOTTE [at entering].
BETTY, take those things out of the carriage and
carry them to my chamber; see that you don't tumble
them. My dear, I protest, I think it was the home-
liest of the whole. I declare I was almost tempted to
return and change it.
Why would you take it?
Didn't Mrs. Catgut say it was the most fashionable?
But, my dear, it will never fit becomingly on you.
I know that; but did you not hear Mrs. Catgut
say it was fashionable?
Did you see that sweet airy cap with the white
Yes, and I longed to take it; but, my dear, what
could I do? Did not Mrs. Catgut say it was the
most fashionable; and if I had not taken it, was not
that awkward, gawky, Sally Slender, ready to purchase
Did you observe how she tumbled over the things
at the next shop, and then went off without purchasing
anything, nor even thanking the poor man for his
trouble? But, of all the awkward creatures, did you
see Miss Blouze endeavouring to thrust her unmerciful
arm into those small kid gloves?
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Then did you take notice with what an affected
warmth of friendship she and Miss Wasp met? when
all their acquaintance know how much pleasure they
take in abusing each other in every company.
Lud! Letitia, is that so extraordinary? Why, my
dear, I hope you are not going to turn sentimentalist.
Scandal, you know, is but amusing ourselves with the
faults, foibles, follies, and reputations of our friends;
indeed, I don't know why we should have friends, if
we are not at liberty to make use of them. But no
person is so ignorant of the world as to suppose, be-
cause I amuse myself with a lady's faults, that I am
obliged to quarrel with her person every time we
meet: believe me, my dear, we should have very few
acquaintance at that rate.
SERVANT enters and delivers a letter to CHAR-
You'll excuse me, my dear.
[Opens and reads to herself.
Oh, quite excusable.
As I hope to be married, my brother Henry is in
What, your brother, Colonel Manly?
Yes, my dear; the only brother I have in the world.
Was he never in this city?
Never nearer than Harlem Heights, where he lay
with his regiment.
What sort of a being is this brother of yours? If
he is as chatty, as pretty, as sprightly as you, half the
belles in the city will be pulling caps for him.
My brother is the very counterpart and reverse of
me: I am gay, he is grave; I am airy, he is solid; I
am ever selecting the most pleasing objects for my
laughter, he has a tear for every pitiful one. And
thus, whilst he is plucking the briars and thorns from
the path of the unfortunate, I am strewing my own
path with roses.
My sweet friend, not quite so poetical, and a little
Hands off, Letitia. I feel the rage of simile upon
me; I can't talk to you in any other way. My brother
has a heart replete with the noblest sentiments, but
then, it is like--it is like--Oh! you provoking girl,
you have deranged all my ideas--it is like--Oh! I
have it--his heart is like an old maiden lady's band-
box; it contains many costly things, arranged with
the most scrupulous nicety, yet the misfortune is that
they are too delicate, costly, and antiquated for com-
By what I can pick out of your flowery description,
your brother is no beau.
No, indeed; he makes no pretension to the char-
acter. He'd ride, or rather fly, an hundred miles to
relieve a distressed object, or to do a gallant act in the
service of his country; but should you drop your fan
or bouquet in his presence, it is ten to one that some
beau at the farther end of the room would have the
honour of presenting it to you before he had observed
that it fell. I'll tell you one of his antiquated, anti-
gallant notions. He said once in my presence, in a
room full of company,--would you believe it?--in a
large circle of ladies, that the best evidence a gentle-
man could give a young lady of his respect and affec-
tion was to endeavour in a friendly manner to rectify
her foibles. I protest I was crimson to the eyes, upon
reflecting that I was known as his sister.
Insupportable creature! tell a lady of her faults! if
he is so grave, I fear I have no chance of captivating
His conversation is like a rich, old-fashioned bro-
cade,--it will stand alone; every sentence is a sen-
timent. Now you may judge what a time I had
with him, in my twelve months' visit to my father.
He read me such lectures, out of pure brotherly affec-
tion, against the extremes of fashion, dress, flirting, and
coquetry, and all the other dear things which he knows
I doat upon, that I protest his conversation made me
as melancholy as if I had been at church; and heaven
knows, though I never prayed to go there but on one
occasion, yet I would have exchanged his conversa-
tion for a psalm and a sermon. Church is rather
melancholy, to be sure; but then I can ogle the beaux,
and be regaled with "here endeth the first lesson," but
his brotherly here, you would think had no end. You
captivate him! Why, my dear, he would as soon fall
in love with a box of Italian flowers. There is Maria,
now, if she were not engaged, she might do something.
Oh! how I should like to see that pair of pensorosos
together, looking as grave as two sailors' wives of a
stormy night, with a flow of sentiment meandering
through their conversation like purling streams in
Oh! my dear fanciful--
Hush! I hear some person coming through the entry.
Madam, there's a gentleman below who calls him-
self Colonel Manly; do you chuse to be at home?
Shew him in. [Exit Servant.] Now for a sober
Enter Colonel MANLY.
My dear Charlotte, I am happy that I once more
enfold you within the arms of fraternal affection. I
know you are going to ask (amiable impatience!)
how our parents do,--the venerable pair transmit you
their blessing by me. They totter on the verge of a
well-spent life, and wish only to see their children
settled in the world, to depart in peace.
I am very happy to hear that they are well. [Coolly.]
Brother, will you give me leave to introduce you to our
uncle's ward, one of my most intimate friends?
MANLY [saluting Letitia].
I ought to regard your friends as my own.
Come, Letitia, do give us a little dash of your
vivacity; my brother is so sentimental and so grave,
that I protest he'll give us the vapours.
Though sentiment and gravity, I know, are ban-
ished the polite world, yet I hoped they might find
some countenance in the meeting of such near con-
nections as brother and sister.
Positively, brother, if you go one step further in this
strain, you will set me crying, and that, you know,
would spoil my eyes; and then I should never get the
husband which our good papa and mamma have so
kindly wished me--never be established in the world.
Forgive me, my sister,--I am no enemy to mirth;
I love your sprightliness; and I hope it will one day
enliven the hours of some worthy man; but when I
mention the respectable authors of my existence,--
the cherishers and protectors of my helpless infancy,
whose hearts glow with such fondness and attachment
that they would willingly lay down their lives for my
welfare,--you will excuse me if I am so unfashionable
as to speak of them with some degree of respect and
Well, well, brother; if you won't be gay, we'll not
differ; I will be as grave as you wish. [Affects gravity.]
And so, brother, you have come to the city to ex-
change some of your commutation notes for a little
Indeed you are mistaken; my errand is not of
amusement, but business; and as I neither drink nor
game, my expenses will be so trivial, I shall have no
occasion to sell my notes.
Then you won't have occasion to do a very good
thing. Why, here was the Vermont General--he
came down some time since, sold all his musty notes
at one stroke, and then laid the cash out in trinkets
for his dear Fanny. I want a dozen pretty things my-
self; have you got the notes with you?
I shall be ever willing to contribute, as far as it is in
my power, to adorn or in any way to please my sis-
ter; yet I hope I shall never be obliged for this to sell
my notes. I may be romantic, but I preserve them
as a sacred deposit. Their full amount is justly due
to me, but as embarrassments, the natural consequen-
ces of a long war, disable my country from supporting
its credit, I shall wait with patience until it is rich
enough to discharge them. If that is not in my day,
they shall be transmitted as an honourable certificate
to posterity, that I have humbly imitated our illustri-
ous WASHINGTON, in having exposed my health and
life in the service of my country, without reaping any
other reward than the glory of conquering in so ardu-
ous a contest.
Well said heroics. Why, my dear Henry, you have
such a lofty way of saying things, that I protest I
almost tremble at the thought of introducing you to
the polite circles in the city. The belles would think
you were a player run mad, with your head filled with
old scraps of tragedy; and as to the beaux, they
might admire, because they would not understand
you. But, however, I must, I believe, introduce you
to two or three ladies of my acquaintance.
And that will make him acquainted with thirty or
Oh! brother, you don't know what a fund of happi-
ness you have in store.
I fear, sister, I have not refinement sufficient to
Oh! you cannot fail being pleased.
Our ladies are so delicate and dressy.
And our beaux so dressy and delicate.
Our ladies chat and flirt so agreeably.
And our beaux simper and bow so gracefully.
With their hair so trim and neat.
And their faces so soft and sleek.
Their buckles so tonish and bright.
And their hands so slender and white.
I vow, Charlotte, we are quite poetical.
And then, brother, the faces of the beaux are of
such a lily-white hue! None of that horrid robustness
of constitution, that vulgar corn-fed glow of health,
which can only serve to alarm an unmarried lady with
apprehension, and prove a melancholy memento to a
married one, that she can never hope for the happiness
of being a widow. I will say this to the credit of our
city beaux, that such is the delicacy of their complex-
ion, dress, and address, that, even had I no reliance
upon the honour of the dear Adonises, I would trust
myself in any possible situation with them, without
the least apprehensions of rudeness.
Now, now, now, brother [interrupting him], now
don't go to spoil my mirth with a dash of your grav-
ity; I am so glad to see you, I am in tiptop spirits.
Oh! that you could be with us at a little snug party.
There is Billy Simper, Jack Chaffe, and Colonel Van
Titter, Miss Promonade, and the two Miss Tambours,
sometimes make a party, with some other ladies, in a
side-box at the play. Everything is conducted with
such decorum. First we bow round to the company
in general, then to each one in particular, then we
have so many inquiries after each other's health, and
we are so happy to meet each other, and it is so many
ages since we last had that pleasure, and if a married
lady is in company, we have such a sweet dissertation
upon her son Bobby's chin-cough; then the curtain
rises, then our sensibility is all awake, and then, by the
mere force of apprehension, we torture some harmless
expression into a double meaning, which the poor au-
thor never dreamt of, and then we have recourse to
our fans, and then we blush, and then the gentlemen
jog one another, peep under the fan, and make the
prettiest remarks; and then we giggle and they simper,
and they giggle and we simper, and then the curtain
drops, and then for nuts and oranges, and then we
bow, and it's pray, Ma'am, take it, and pray, Sir, keep
it, and oh! not for the world, Sir; and then the curtain
rises again, and then we blush and giggle and simper
and bow all over again. Oh! the sentimental charms
of a side-box conversation! [All laugh.]
Well, sister, I join heartily with you in the laugh;
for, in my opinion, it is as justifiable to laugh at folly
as it is reprehensible to ridicule misfortune.
Well, but, brother, positively I can't introduce you
in these clothes: why, your coat looks as if it were
calculated for the vulgar purpose of keeping yourself
This coat was my regimental coat in the late war.
The public tumults of our state have induced me to
buckle on the sword in support of that government
which I once fought to establish. I can only say,
sister, that there was a time when this coat was re-
spectable, and some people even thought that those
men who had endured so many winter campaigns in
the service of their country, without bread, clothing,
or pay, at least deserved that the poverty of their
appearance should not be ridiculed.
We agree in opinion entirely, brother, though it
would not have done for me to have said it: it is the
coat makes the man respectable. In the time of the
war, when we were almost frightened to death, why,
your coat was respectable, that is, fashionable; now
another kind of coat is fashionable, that is, respectable.
And pray direct the taylor to make yours the height
of the fashion.
Though it is of little consequence to me of what
shape my coat is, yet, as to the height of the fashion,
there you will please to excuse me, sister. You know
my sentiments on that subject. I have often lamented
the advantage which the French have over us in that
particular. In Paris, the fashions have their dawnings,
their routine, and declensions, and depend as much
upon the caprice of the day as in other countries; but
there every lady assumes a right to deviate from the
general ton as far as will be of advantage to her own
appearance. In America, the cry is, what is the
fashion? and we follow it indiscriminately, because
it is so.
Therefore it is, that when large hoops are in fashion,
we often see many a plump girl lost in the immensity
of a hoop-petticoat, whose want of height and en-bon-
point would never have been remarked in any other
dress. When the high head-dress is the mode, how
then do we see a lofty cushion, with a profusion of
gauze, feathers, and ribband, supported by a face no
bigger than an apple! whilst a broad full-faced lady,
who really would have appeared tolerably handsome
in a large head-dress, looks with her smart chapeau as
masculine as a soldier.
But remember, my dear sister, and I wish all my
fair country-women would recollect, that the only ex-
cuse a young lady can have for going extravagantly
into a fashion is because it makes her look extrava-
gantly handsome.--Ladies, I must wish you a good
But, brother, you are going to make home with us.
Indeed I cannot. I have seen my uncle and
explained that matter.
Come and dine with us, then. We have a family
dinner about half-past four o'clock.
I am engaged to dine with the Spanish ambassador.
I was introduced to him by an old brother officer; and
instead of freezing me with a cold card of compliment
to dine with him ten days hence, he, with the true old
Castilian frankness, in a friendly manner, asked me to
dine with him to-day--an honour I could not refuse.
Sister, adieu--Madam, your most obedient--[Exit.
I will wait upon you to the door, brother; I have
something particular to say to you. [Exit.
What a pair!--She the pink of flirtation, he the
essence of everything that is outre and gloomy.--I
think I have completely deceived Charlotte by my
manner of speaking of Mr. Dimple; she's too much
the friend of Maria to be confided in. He is certainly
rendering himself disagreeable to Maria, in order to
break with her and proffer his hand to me. This is
what the delicate fellow hinted in our last conversation.
SCENE II. The Mall.
Positively this Mall is a very pretty place. I hope
the cits won't ruin it by repairs. To be sure, it won't
do to speak of in the same day with Ranelagh or
Vauxhall; however, it's a fine place for a young fellow
to display his person to advantage. Indeed, nothing
is lost here; the girls have taste, and I am very happy
to find they have adopted the elegant London fashion
of looking back, after a genteel fellow like me has
passed them.--Ah! who comes here? This, by his
awkwardness, must be the Yankee colonel's servant.
I'll accost him.
Votre tres-humble serviteur, Monsieur. I under-
stand Colonel Manly, the Yankee officer, has the
honour of your services.
I say, Sir, I understand that Colonel Manly has the
honour of having you for a servant.
Servant! Sir, do you take me for a neger,--I am
Colonel Manly's waiter.
A true Yankee distinction, egad, without a differ-
ence. Why, Sir, do you not perform all the offices of
a servant? do you not even blacken his boots?
Yes; I do grease them a bit sometimes; but I am a
true blue son of liberty, for all that. Father said I
should come as Colonel Manly's waiter, to see the
world, and all that; but no man shall master me. My
father has as good a farm as the colonel.
Well, Sir, we will not quarrel about terms upon the
eve of an acquaintance from which I promise myself
so much satisfaction;--therefore, sans ceremonie--
I say I am extremely happy to see Colonel Manly's
Well, and I vow, too, I am pretty considerably glad
to see you; but what the dogs need of all this out-
landish lingo? Who may you be, Sir, if I may be so
I have the honour to be Mr. Dimple's servant, or,
if you please, waiter. We lodge under the same roof,
and should be glad of the honour of your acquaintance.
You a waiter! by the living jingo, you look so top-
ping, I took you for one of the agents to Congress.
The brute has discernment, notwithstanding his
appearance.--Give me leave to say I wonder then at
Why, as to the matter of that, Mr.--; pray,
what's your name?
Jessamy, at your service.
Why, I swear we don't make any great matter of
distinction in our state between quality and other
This is, indeed, a levelling principle.--I hope, Mr.
Jonathan, you have not taken part with the insurgents.
Why, since General Shays has sneaked off and
given us the bag to hold, I don't care to give my
opinion; but you'll promise not to tell--put your ear
this way--you won't tell?--I vow I did think the
sturgeons were right.
I thought, Mr. Jonathan, you Massachusetts men
always argued with a gun in your hand. Why didn't
you join them?
Why, the colonel is one of those folks called the
Shin--Shin--dang it all, I can't speak them lignum
vitae words--you know who I mean--there is a com-
pany of them--they wear a china goose at their
button-hole--a kind of gilt thing.--Now the colonel
told father and brother,--you must know there are,
let me see--there is Elnathan, Silas, and Barnabas,
Tabitha--no, no, she's a she--tarnation, now I have
it--there's Elnathan, Silas, Barnabas, Jonathan, that's
I--seven of us, six went into the wars, and I staid at
home to take care of mother. Colonel said that it was
a burning shame for the true blue Bunker Hill sons of
liberty, who had fought Governor Hutchinson, Lord
North, and the Devil, to have any hand in kicking up
a cursed dust against a government which we had,
every mother's son of us, a hand in making.
Bravo!--Well, have you been abroad in the city
since your arrival? What have you seen that is
curious and entertaining?
Oh! I have seen a power of fine sights. I went to
see two marble-stone men and a leaden horse that
stands out in doors in all weathers; and when I came
where they was, one had got no head, and t'other
wern't there. They said as how the leaden man was
a damn'd tory, and that he took wit in his anger and
rode off in the time of the troubles.
But this was not the end of your excursion?
Oh, no; I went to a place they call Holy Ground.
Now I counted this was a place where folks go to
meeting; so I put my hymn-book in my pocket, and
walked softly and grave as a minister; and when I
came there, the dogs a bit of a meeting-house could I
see. At last I spied a young gentlewoman standing
by one of the seats which they have here at the
doors. I took her to be the deacon's daughter, and
she looked so kind, and so obliging, that I thought I
would go and ask her the way to lecture, and--would
you think it?--she called me dear, and sweeting, and
honey, just as if we were married: by the living jingo,
I had a month's mind to buss her.
Well, but how did it end?
Why, as I was standing talking with her, a parcel
of sailor men and boys got round me, the snarl-headed
curs fell a-kicking and cursing of me at such a tarnal
rate, that I vow I was glad to take to my heels and
split home, right off, tail on end, like a stream of chalk.
Why, my dear friend, you are not acquainted with
the city; that girl you saw was a--[whispers.]
Mercy on my soul! was that young woman a
harlot!--Well! if this is New-York Holy Ground,
what must the Holy-day Ground be!
Well, you should not judge of the city too rashly.
We have a number of elegant, fine girls here that make
a man's leisure hours pass very agreeably. I would
esteem it an honour to announce you to some of
them.--Gad! that announce is a select word; I won-
der where I picked it up.
I don't want to know them.
Come, come, my dear friend, I see that I must
assume the honour of being the director of your amuse-
ments. Nature has given us passions, and youth and
opportunity stimulate to gratify them. It is no shame,
my dear Blueskin, for a man to amuse himself with a
Girl huntry! I don't altogether understand. I
never played at that game. I know how to play
hunt the squirrel, but I can't play anything with the
girls; I am as good as married.
Vulgar, horrid brute! Married, and above a hun-
dred miles from his wife, and thinks that an objection
to his making love to every woman he meets! He
never can have read, no, he never can have been in a
room with a volume of the divine Chesterfield.--So
you are married?
No, I don't say so; I said I was as good as mar-
ried, a kind of promise.
As good as married!--
Why, yes; there's Tabitha Wymen, the deacon's
daughter, at home; she and I have been courting a
great while, and folks say as how we are to be married;
and so I broke a piece of money with her when we
parted, and she promised not to spark it with Solomon
Dyer while I am gone. You wouldn't have me false
to my true-love, would you?
May be you have another reason for constancy;
possibly the young lady has a fortune? Ha! Mr.
Jonathan, the solid charms: the chains of love are
never so binding as when the links are made of gold.
Why, as to fortune, I must needs say her father is
pretty dumb rich; he went representative for our town
last year. He will give her--let me see--four times
seven is--seven times four--nought and carry one,--
he will give her twenty acres of land--somewhat
rocky though--a Bible, and a cow.
Twenty acres of rock, a Bible, and a cow! Why, my
dear Mr. Jonathan, we have servant-maids, or, as you
would more elegantly express it, waitresses, in this
city, who collect more in one year from their mistresses'
You don't say so!--
Yes, and I'll introduce to one of them. There
is a little lump of flesh and delicacy that lives at next
door, waitress to Miss Maria; we often see her on the
But are you sure she would be courted by me?