Scarborough and the Critic

Part 3 out of 3

_Puff_. No, sir--that's not it--once more, if you please.
_Whisk_. I wish, sir, you would practise this without me--I
can't stay dying here all night.
_Puff_. Very well; we'll go over it by-and-by.--[_Exit_
WHISKERANDOS.] I must humour these gentlemen!
"_Beef_. Farewell, brave Spaniard! and when next--"
_Puff_. Dear sir, you needn't speak that speech, as the body
has walked off.
_Beef_. That's true, sir--then I'll join the fleet.
_Puff_. If you please.--[Exit BEEFEATER.] Now, who comes on?
"_Enter_ GOVERNOR, _with his hair properly disordered_.
_Gov_. A hemisphere of evil planets reign! And every planet
sheds contagious frenzy! My Spanish prisoner is slain! my
daughter, Meeting the dead corse borne along, has gone Distract!
[_A loud flourish of trumpets_.] But hark! I am summoned to
the fort: Perhaps the fleets have met! amazing crisis! O
Tilburina! from thy aged father's beard Thou'st pluck'd the few
brown hairs which time had left! [Exit.]"
_Sneer_. Poor gentleman!
_Puff_. Yes--and no one to blame but his daughter!
_Dang_. And the planets--
_Puff_. True.--Now enter Tilburina!
_Sneer._ Egad, the business comes on quick here.
_Puff._ Yes, sir--now she comes in stark mad in white satin.
_Sneer._ Why in white satin?
_Puff._ O Lord, sir--when a heroine goes mad, she always
goes into white satin.--Don't she, Dangle?
_Dang._ Always--it's a rule.
_Puff._ Yes--here it is--[_Looking at the book_.]
"Enter Tilburina stark mad in white satin, and her confidant
stark mad in white linen."
"_Enter_ TILBURINA _and_ CONFIDANT, _mad, according
to custom_."
_Sneer._ But, what the deuce! is the confidant to be mad
_Puff._ To be sure she is: the confidant is always to do
whatever her mistress does; weep when she weeps, smile when she
smiles, go mad when she goes mad.--Now, Madam Confidant--but keep
your madness in the background, if you please.
"_Tilb._ The wind whistles--the moon rises--see, They have
kill'd my squirrel in his cage: Is this a grasshopper?--Ha! no;
it is my Whiskerandos--you shall not keep him--I know you have
him in your pocket--An oyster may be cross'd in love!--who says
A whale's a bird?--Ha! did you call, my love?--He's here! he's
there!--He's everywhere! Ah me! he's nowhere! [_Exit_.]"
_Puff._ There, do you ever desire to see anybody madder than
_Sneer._ Never, while I live!
_Puff._ You observed how she mangled the metre?
_Dang._ Yes,--egad, it was the first thing made me suspect
she was out of her senses!
_Sneer._ And pray what becomes of her?
_Puff._ She is gone to throw herself into the sea, to be
sure--and that brings us at once to the scene of action, and so
to my catastrophe--my sea-fight, I mean.
_Sneer._ What, you bring that in at last?
_Puff._ Yes, yes--you know my play is called _The Spanish
Armada_; otherwise, egad, I have no occasion for the battle at
all.--Now then for my magnificence!--my battle!--my noise!--and
my procession!--You are all ready?
_Und. Promp_. [_Within._] Yes, sir.
_Puff_. Is the Thames dressed?
"_Enter_ THAMES _with two_ ATTENDANTS."
_Thames_. Here I am, sir.
_Puff_. Very well, indeed!--See, gentlemen, there's a river
for you!--This is blending a little of the masque with my
tragedy--a new fancy, you know--and very useful in my case; for
as there must be a procession, I suppose Thames, and all his
tributary rivers, to compliment Britannia with a fête in honour
of the victory.
_Sneer_. But pray, who are these gentlemen in green with
_Puff_. Those?--those are his banks.
_Sneer_. His banks?
_Puff_. Yes, one crowned with alders, and the other with a
villa!--you take the allusions?--But hey! what the plague!--you
have got both your banks on one side.--Here, sir, come round.--
Ever while you live, Thames, go between your banks.--[_Bell
rings._] There; so! now for't!--Stand aside, my dear
friends!--Away, Thames!
[_Exit_ THAMES _between his banks._]
[_Flourish of drums, trumpets, cannon, &c., &'c. Scene changes
to the sea--the fleets engage--the music plays--"Britons strike
home."--Spanish fleet destroyed by fire-ships, &c.--English fleet
advances--music plays, "Rule Britannia."--The procession of all
the English rivers, and their tributaries, with their emblems,
&c., begins with Handel's water music, ends with a chorus to the
march in Judas' Maccabaeus.--During this scene,_ PUFF
_directs and applauds everything--then_
_Puff_. Well, pretty well--but not quite perfect. So, ladies
and gentlemen, if you please, we'll rehearse this piece again to-morrow.
[_Curtain drops._]


Back to Full Books