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The Contrast by Royall Tyler

Part 3 out of 3

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JONATHAN

Swamp it--laugh by rule! Well, I should like that
tarnally.

JESSAMY

Why, you know, Mr. Jonathan, that to dance, a
lady to play with her fan, or a gentleman with his cane,
and all other natural motions, are regulated by art.
My master has composed an immensely pretty gamut,
by which any lady or gentleman, with a few years'
close application, may learn to laugh as gracefully as
if they were born and bred to it.

JONATHAN

Mercy on my soul! A gamut for laughing--just
like fa, la, sol?

JEREMY

Yes. It comprises every possible display of jocu-
larity, from an affettuoso smile to a piano titter, or full
chorus fortissimo ha, ha, ha! My master employs his
leisure hours in marking out the plays, like a cathedral
chanting-book, that the ignorant may know where to
laugh; and that pit, box, and gallery may keep time
together, and not have a snigger in one part of the
house, a broad grin in the other, and a d---d grum
look in the third. How delightful to see the audience
all smile together, then look on their books, then twist
their mouths into an agreeable simper, then altogether
shake the house with a general ha, ha, ha! loud as a
full chorus of Handel's at an Abbey commemoration.

JONATHAN

Ha, ha, ha! that's dang'd cute, I swear.

JESSAMY

The gentlemen, you see, will laugh the tenor; the
ladies will play the counter-tenor; the beaux will
squeak the treble; and our jolly friends in the gallery
a thorough base, ho, ho, ho!

JONATHAN

Well, can't you let me see that gamut?

JESSAMY

Oh! yes, Mr. Jonathan; here it is. [Takes out a
book.] Oh! no, this is only a titter with its variations.
Ah, here it is. [Takes out another.] Now, you must
know, Mr. Jonathan, this is a piece written by Ben
Johnson, which I have set to my master's gamut. The
places where you must smile, look grave, or laugh out-
right, are marked below the line. Now look over me.
"There was a certain man"--now you must smile.

JONATHAN

Well, read it again; I warrant I'll mind my eye.

JESSAMY

"There was a certain man, who had a sad scolding
wife,"--now you must laugh.

JONATHAN

Tarnation! That's no laughing matter though.

JESSAMY

"And she lay sick a-dying";--now you must titter.

JONATHAN

What, snigger when the good woman's a-dying!
Gor, I--

JESSAMY

Yes, the notes say you must--"and she asked her
husband leave to make a will,"--now you must begin
to look grave;--"and her husband said"--

JONATHAN

Ay, what did her husband say? Something dang'd
cute, I reckon.

JESSAMY

"And her husband said, you have had your will all
your life-time, and would you have it after you are
dead, too?"

JONATHAN

Ho, ho, ho! There the old man was even with
her; he was up to the notch--ha, ha, ha!

JESSAMY

But, Mr. Jonathan, you must not laugh so. Why
you ought to have tittered piano, and you have
laughed fortissimo. Look here; you see these marks,
A, B, C, and so on; these are the references to
the other part of the book. Let us turn to it, and you
will see the directions how to manage the muscles.
This [turns over] was note D you blundered at.--You
must purse the mouth into a smile, then titter, discov-
ering the lower part of the three front upper teeth.

JONATHAN

How? read it again.

JESSAMY

"There was a certain man"--very well!--"who
had a sad scolding wife,"--why don't you laugh?

JONATHAN

Now, that scolding wife sticks in my gizzard so
pluckily that I can't laugh for the blood and nowns of
me. Let me look grave here, and I'll laugh your
belly full, where the old creature's a-dying.

JESSAMY

"And she asked her husband"--[Bell rings.] My
master's bell! he's returned, I fear.--Here, Mr. Jona-
than, take this gamut; and I make no doubt but with
a few years' close application, you may be able to
smile gracefully." [Exeunt severally.

SCENE II.

CHARLOTTE'S Apartment.

Enter MANLY.

MANLY

WHAT, no one at home? How unfortunate to meet
the only lady my heart was ever moved by, to find
her engaged to another, and confessing her partiality
for me! Yet engaged to a man who, by her inti-
mation, and his libertine conversation with me, I fear,
does not merit her. Aye! there's the sting; for, were
I assured that Maria was happy, my heart is not so
selfish but that it would dilate in knowing it, even
though it were with another. But to know she is
unhappy!--I must drive these thoughts from me.
Charlotte has some books; and this is what I believe
she calls her little library. [Enters a closet.

Enter DIMPLE leading LETITIA.

LETITIA

And will you pretend to say now, Mr. Dimple, that
you propose to break with Maria? Are not the banns
published? Are not the clothes purchased? Are not
the friends invited? In short, is it not a done affair?

DIMPLE

Believe me, my dear Letitia, I would not marry her.

LETITIA

Why have you not broke with her before this, as
you all along deluded me by saying you would?

DIMPLE

Because I was in hopes she would, ere this, have
broke with me.

LETITIA

You could not expect it.

DIMPLE

Nay, but be calm a moment; 'twas from my regard
to you that I did not discard her.

LETITIA

Regard to me!

DIMPLE

Yes; I have done everything in my power to break
with her, but the foolish girl is so fond of me that
nothing can accomplish it. Besides, how can I offer
her my hand when my heart is indissolubly engaged
to you?

LETITIA

There may be reason in this; but why so attentive
to Miss Manly?

DIMPLE

Attentive to Miss Manly! For heaven's sake, if you
have no better opinion of my constancy, pay not so ill
a compliment to my taste.

LETITIA

Did I not see you whisper her to-day?

DIMPLE

Possibly I might--but something of so very trifling
a nature that I have already forgot what it was.

LETITIA

I believe she has not forgot it.

DIMPLE

My dear creature, how can you for a moment sup-
pose I should have any serious thoughts of that trifling,
gay, flighty coquette, that disagreeable--

Enter CHARLOTTE.

DIMPLE

My dear Miss Manly, I rejoice to see you; there is
a charm in your conversation that always marks your
entrance into company as fortunate.

LETITIA

Where have you been, my dear?

CHARLOTTE

Why, I have been about to twenty shops, turning
over pretty things, and so have left twenty visits unpaid.
I wish you would step into the carriage and whisk
round, make my apology, and leave my cards where
our friends are not at home; that, you know, will
serve as a visit. Come, do go.

LETITIA

So anxious to get me out! but I'll watch you.
[Aside.] Oh! yes, I'll go; I want a little exercise.
Positively [Dimple offering to accompany her], Mr.
Dimple, you shall not go; why, half my visits are cake
and caudle visits; it won't do, you know, for you to
go. [Exit, but returns to the door in the back scene and
listens.]

DIMPLE

This attachment of your brother to Maria is fortunate.

CHARLOTTE

How did you come to the knowledge of it?

DIMPLE

I read it in their eyes.

CHARLOTTE
And I had it from her mouth. It would have
amused you to have seen her! She, that thought it so
great an impropriety to praise a gentleman that she
could not bring out one word in your favour, found a
redundancy to praise him.

DIMPLE

I have done everything in my power to assist his
passion there: your delicacy, my dearest girl, would
be shocked at half the instances of neglect and mis-
behaviour.

CHARLOTTE

I don't know how I should bear neglect; but Mr.
Dimple must misbehave himself indeed, to forfeit my
good opinion.

DIMPLE

Your good opinion, my angel, is the pride and pleas-
ure of my heart; and if the most respectful tenderness
for you, and an utter indifference for all your sex
besides, can make me worthy of your esteem, I shall
richly merit it.

CHARLOTTE

All my sex besides, Mr. Dimple!--you forgot your
tete-a-tete with Letitia.

DIMPLE

How can you, my lovely angel, cast a thought on
that insipid, wry-mouthed, ugly creature!

CHARLOTTE

But her fortune may have charms?

DIMPLE

Not to a heart like mine. The man, who has been
blessed with the good opinion of my Charlotte, must
despise the allurements of fortune.

CHARLOTTE

I am satisfied.

DIMPLE

Let us think no more on the odious subject, but
devote the present hour to happiness.

CHARLOTTE

Can I be happy when I see the man I prefer going
to be married to another?

DIMPLE

Have I not already satisfied my charming angel,
that I can never think of marrying the puling Maria?
But, even if it were so, could that be any bar to our
happiness? for, as the poet sings,

"Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies."

Come, then, my charming angel! why delay our bliss?
The present moment is ours; the next is in the hand
of fate. [Kissing her.]

CHARLOTTE

Begone, Sir! By your delusions you had almost
lulled my honour asleep.

DIMPLE

Let me lull the demon to sleep again with kisses.
[He struggles with her; she screams.]

Enter MANLY.

MANLY

Turn, villain! and defend yourself.--[Draws.]

[VAN ROUGH enters and beats down their swords.]

VAN ROUGH

Is the devil in you? are you going to murder one
another? [Holding Dimple.]

DIMPLE

Hold him, hold him,--I can command my passion.

Enter JONATHAN.

JONATHAN

What the rattle ails you? Is the old one in you?
Let the colonel alone, can't you? I feel chock-full
of fight,--do you want to kill the colonel?--

MANLY

Be still, Jonathan; the gentleman does not want to
hurt me.

JONATHAN

Gor! I--I wish he did; I'd shew him Yankee
boys play, pretty quick.--Don't you see you have
frightened the young woman into the hystrikes?

VAN ROUGH

Pray, some of you explain this; what has been the
occasion of all this racket?

MANLY

That gentleman can explain it to you; it will be a
very diverting story for an intended father-in-law to
hear.

VAN ROUGH

How was this matter, Mr. Van Dumpling?

DIMPLE

Sir,--upon my honour,--all I know is, that I was
talking to this young lady, and this gentleman broke
in on us in a very extraordinary manner.

VAN ROUGH

Why, all this is nothing to the purpose; can you
explain it, Miss? [To Charlotte.]

Enter LETITIA through the back scene.

LETITIA

I can explain it to that gentleman's confusion.
Though long betrothed to your daughter [to Van
Rough], yet, allured by my fortune, it seems (with
shame do I speak it) he has privately paid his ad-
dresses to me. I was drawn in to listen to him by his
assuring me that the match was made by his father
without his consent, and that he proposed to break
with Maria, whether he married me or not. But, what-
ever were his intentions respecting your daughter, Sir,
even to me he was false; for he has repeated the same
story, with some cruel reflections upon my person, to
Miss Manly.

JONATHAN

What a tarnal curse!

LETITIA

Nor is this all, Miss Manly. When he was with
me this very morning, he made the same ungenerous
reflections upon the weakness of your mind as he has
so recently done upon the defects of my person.

JONATHAN

What a tarnal curse and damn, too!

DIMPLE

Ha! since I have lost Letitia, I believe I had as
good make it up with Maria. Mr. Van Rough, at
present I cannot enter into particulars; but, I believe,
I can explain everything to your satisfaction in private.

VAN ROUGH

There is another matter, Mr. Van Dumpling, which
I would have you explain. Pray, Sir, have Messrs.
Van Cash & Co. presented you those bills for accept-
ance?

DIMPLE

The deuce! Has he heard of those bills! Nay,
then, all's up with Maria, too; but an affair of this
sort can never prejudice me among the ladies; they
will rather long to know what the dear creature pos-
sesses to make him so agreeable. [Aside.] Sir, you'll
hear from me. [To Manly.]

MANLY

And you from me, Sir--

DIMPLE

Sir, you wear a sword--

MANLY

Yes, Sir. This sword was presented to me by that
brave Gallic hero, the Marquis De la Fayette. I have
drawn it in the service of my country, and in private
life, on the only occasion where a man is justified in
drawing his sword, in defence of a lady's honour. I
have fought too many battles in the service of my
country to dread the imputation of cowardice. Death
from a man of honour would be a glory you do not
merit; you shall live to bear the insult of man and the
contempt of that sex whose general smiles afforded you
all your happiness.

DIMPLE

You won't meet me, Sir? Then I'll post you for a
coward.

MANLY
I'll venture that, Sir. The reputation of my life
does not depend upon the breath of a Mr. Dimple. I
would have you to know, however, Sir, that I have a
cane to chastise the insolence of a scoundrel, and a
sword and the good laws of my country to protect me
from the attempts of an assassin--

DIMPLE

Mighty well! Very fine, indeed! Ladies and gen-
tlemen, I take my leave; and you will please to observe
in the case of my deportment the contrast between a
gentleman who has read Chesterfield and received
the polish of Europe and an unpolished, untravelled
American. [Exit.

Enter MARIA.

MARIA

Is he indeed gone?--

LETITIA

I hope, never to return.

VAN ROUGH

I am glad I heard of those bills; though it's plaguy
unlucky; I hoped to see Mary married before I died.

MANLY

Will you permit a gentleman, Sir, to offer himself as
a suitor to your daughter? Though a stranger to you,
he is not altogether so to her, or unknown in this city.
You may find a son-in-law of more fortune, but you
can never meet with one who is richer in love for her,
or respect for you.

VAN ROUGH

Why, Mary, you have not let this gentleman make
love to you without my leave?

MANLY

I did not say, Sir--

MARIA

Say, Sir!--I--the gentleman, to be sure, met
me accidentally.

VAN ROUGH

Ha, ha, ha! Mark me, Mary; young folks think
old folks to be fools; but old folks know young folks
to be fools. Why, I knew all about this affair. This
was only a cunning way I had to bring it about.
Hark ye! I was in the closet when you and he were
at our hours. [Turns to the company.] I heard that
little baggage say she loved her old father, and would
die to make him happy! Oh! how I loved the little
baggage! And you talked very prudently, young man.
I have inquired into your character, and find you to
be a man of punctuality and mind the main chance.
And so, as you love Mary and Mary loves you, you
shall have my consent immediately to be married.
I'll settle my fortune on you, and go and live with
you the remainder of my life.

MANLY

Sir, I hope--

VAN ROUGH

Come, come, no fine speeches; mind the main
chance, young man, and you and I shall always agree.

LETITIA
I sincerely wish you joy [advancing to Maria]; and
hope your pardon for my conduct.

MARIA

I thank you for your congratulations, and hope we
shall at once forget the wretch who has given us so
much disquiet, and the trouble that he has occasioned.

CHARLOTTE

And I, my dear Maria,--how shall I look up to
you for forgiveness? I, who, in the practice of the
meanest arts, have violated the most sacred rights of
friendship? I can never forgive myself, or hope
charity from the world; but, I confess, I have much
to hope from such a brother; and I am happy that I
may soon say, such a sister.

MARIA

My dear, you distress me; you have all my love.

MANLY

And mine.

CHARLOTTE

If repentance can entitle me to forgiveness, I have
already much merit; for I despise the littleness of my
past conduct. I now find that the heart of any wor-
thy man cannot be gained by invidious attacks upon
the rights and characters of others;--by countenan-
cing the addresses of a thousand;--or that the finest
assemblage of features, the greatest taste in dress, the
genteelest address, or the most brilliant wit, cannot
eventually secure a coquette from contempt and
ridicule.

MANLY

And I have learned that probity, virtue, honour,
though they should not have received the polish of
Europe, will secure to an honest American the good
graces of his fair countrywomen, and, I hope, the
applause of THE PUBLIC.

THE END.

NOTES.
<1> In addition to the 'Prince of Parthia,' the following plays by
American authors are known to have been printed:

1. 'The Suspected Daughter, or Jealous Father,' a Farce in
three acts, both serious and comic, written by T. T. Bos-
ton, 1751.

2. 'The Disappointment, or The Force of Credulity,' a new
American Comic Opera of two acts, by Andrew Barton, Esq.
New-York, 1767.

3. 'The Conquest of Canada, or Siege of Quebec, a Historic
Tragedy,' by George Cockings. Philadelphia, 1772.

4. 'The Adulateur,' a tragedy; and

5. 'The Group,' a Political Comedy, 1775; both by Mrs. Mercy Warren.

6. 'The Blockheads, or the Affrighted Officers,' a Farce. Boston, 1776.

7. 'The Battle of Bunker Hill,' a dramatic piece, in five acts.
Philadelphia, 1776; and

8. 'The Death of General Montgomery in storming the City of
Quebec,' a Tragedy. Philadelphia, 1777; both by H. H. Brackenridge.

9. 'The Patriot Chief,' a Drama, by Peter Markoe. Philadelphia, 1783.

10. 'Edwin and Angelina, or The Banditti,' an Opera in three
acts, by Dr. Elihu H. Smith. New-York, 1787.

<2> Dunlap erroneously gives the date of the first performance
of the 'Contrast' as in 1786, and writers generally following
him make the same mistake. Ireland in his 'Records' gives
the date correctly.

<3> Tyler, in addition to the plays and law reports mentioned,
wrote and published the following works:

1. 'The Algerine Captive, or The Life and Adventures of Doctor
Updike Underhill, six years a prisoner among the Algerines.'
2 vols. Walpole, N. H., 1797.

2. 'Moral Tales for American Youths.' Boston, 1800.

3. 'The Yankey in London; a series of Letters written by an
American Youth during nine months' residence in the City of
London.' New-York, 1809.

He also contributed to a number of newspapers of his period,
and a collection of his contributions (with those of Joseph Den-
nie) were published in a volume, at Walpole, in 1801, entitled
'The Spirit of the Farmers' Museum and Lay Preachers' Gazette.'
<4> On October 16th, 1778, the Continental Congress passed
the following resolution:

"Whereas, frequenting play-houses and theatrical entertainments
has a fatal tendency to divest the minds of the people from a
due attention to the means necessary to the defence of their
Country and preservation of their liberties;

"Resolved, That any person holding an office under the United
States who shall act, promote, encourage or attend such play,
shall be deemed unworthy to hold such office, and shall be
accordingly dismissed."

T. J. McK.

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