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Tom. The enemy's fleet bearing down— Corp. The enemy's troops marching up— Tom. Pour in a broadside— Corp. Charge bayonets— g Tom. Grape and canister— Corp. Bombs and bullets— Tom. With five sail of the line we attack forty of the enemy— Corp. Two thousand English fall on seventy thousand French— Tom. Take ten; burn, sink, and destroy twenty; thirty scud away— fl Corp. Kill thirty thousand; make forty thousand prisoners; fifty thousand y— Together. Victory ! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Tom. That was when you lost your eye, Corporal? Corp. No : My eye I lost with the great Marlborough at Blenheim; my leg I gloriously left at Waterloo; and my arm I left fighting by the side of the brave Harry, at Agincourt, t And how came you crippled, Tom 2– Come, tell us all about it. Tom. No, split my timbers if I do. A British tar can beat forty Frenchmen at any time; but, dam’me, he won't boast. Howsomever, I'll tell you. SoNg. Tom Topsail.
My name's Tom Topsail: I have seen
Some sarvice, doubt no one can, ;
With Rodney, Drake, and Duncan.
Brave Jarvis made me cabin-boy, *-
The boatswain pip'd all hands ahoy! --
Old England pip'd her sons to arms,
To plough the seas again I went,
And oft the Mounseer's flag I beat
by the galleries—an experienced writer will leave it to the actor's discretion to introduce it as soon as he perceives the pit and boxes beginning to yawn, or at any period when he discovers indications of a coming storm on the other side of the lamps. On such occasions, a battle and “ British valour” always beat British common-sense out of the field. * Our heroes are killing, burning, sinking, and destroying more ships and soldiers than were engaged in the combat. No matter : it would be absurd to attempt to circumscribe, within the common rules of arithmetic, courage and loyalty so enthusiastic as theirs.
+ Unless we are to consider this as a downright anachronism (and our comic operas now and then furnish examples of the use of this licence), the Corporal is a veteran in the fullest sense of the term. On a moderate computation he must be upwards of four hundred years old.
# Assuredly not. He helped to beat the Armada in 1588, and fought with Nelson full two centuries later. But, compared with his companion, Tom is a mere infant in the career of arms; for, as yet, he can hardly be more than two centuries and a half old. It has already been observed, that anachronisms, and similar lapses, are allowable in comic operas; but if Mr. Topsail sailed round the world with Drake, “it follows as the night the day,” that “brave Jarvis” promoted him to the post of cabin-boy when he was but about two hundred and twenty years of age. After this, let us hear no more complaints of the tardiness of o promotion.
With him I lost a leg and eye;
Because a British tar will die,
Then next with Howe, in storms and calms,
Then, since I’ve not lost both my glims,
Enter ADMIRAL ANchor.
Admiral. Softly there, softly; keep less noise between decks. Tom. We are drinking to the success of old England, my noble Commander. Admiral. Then make less moise about it, and be damn'd to you. Tom. Less noise! It wasn't your word of command to make less moise when the cannons were roaring aboard the Thunderer.f Admiral. We are not aboard the Thunderer now, you lubber. Tom. No ; for aboard the Thunderer Tom Topsail was fighting alongside of you. But Tom's hulk is batter'd, and I suppose he's to be put out of commission. - Corp. Aye, Gratitude has shoulder'd arms, and march'd out of the garIrison. Admiral. Split my timbers! a mutiny in the fleet! Tom. Mutiny' Look'ee, Admiral, I've shed my blood for you; but run me up the yard-arm, if ever I thought to shed a tear. § (Wiping his eye.) J. ‘..., Nor I neither, spike me on a shiver-de-freeze if pdid. (Wiping is eye. Admiral. What the devil are you piping at 2 Who spoke to you ? Corp. True ; but looke'e, your honour: when a British sailor pipes his eye, 'tis the duty of ev'ry British soldier to pipe his eye also. . Admiral. (Wiping his eyes.) Dam’me, my old weather-beaten timbers a'nt proof against this. (Kindly.) Boatswain. Tom. (Sulkily.) What says my noble Commander? Admiral. Corporal. Corporal. (As sulkily as Tom.) Your honour.
* A very ingenious operation of this chain-shot. But let me check Mr. Tom's accounts. He lost a leg with Drake, a second leg with Rodney, and “t'other leg” with Howe. This then makes the third leg he has lost But what does that signify to a theatrical British tar * Besides, one can never suffer too much in defence of one's king and country. + And a very ample salvage too, for a tar of such determined courage and loyalty. But after his boast of what his head should do, even should he lose his body, it is to be hoped we shall hear no more of Witherington, of Chevy-chace celebrity. Tom, however, is a mere pigmy, compared with some others of Mr. D–’s heroes. I will take this occasion to mention as a general rule, that when a British audience is to be drugged with clap-trap loyalty, and boasts of British valour, British generosity, or British any thing else, the dose cannot be too strongly administered. : A foremast-man abusing his admiral, forms a true picture of naval manners; at least it passes for such on the stage. It is now, perhaps, a little the worse for use. § More naval pathetic.
Admiral. I've wrong'd you; and a British admiral is not too proud to own it. Come, fill a bumper, lads. Here's “Gratitude: and may the man that is without gratitude never sail in his right latitude.” Tom. Corp. Admiral. Ah! lads, and I might still be happy, if my poor niece Tom. Aye, Miss Lovely, who died in her infancy. But come, your honour mustn't think of that. (A scream heard.) Admiral. (Agitated.) Tom 1 that scream Tom. 'Twas very like ' " Should it be. But make all sail for the port a-head, and leave me plenty of sea-room. (ADMIRAL retires into a room at the side—CoRroRAL walks up the stage.)
Long life to your honour!
Enter Lucy Lovely (running), followed by SIR FREDERick FRIBBLE.
Lucy. Save me! save me ! Sir F. Why do you fly me, my charmer? I have four spanking greys, that shall gaily gallop us to Gretna-green. Let me be your beau; the blacksmith shall fasten the matrimonial knot ; and I shall come back to London with an additional–rib-on. Lucy. Leave me, monster, nor longer persecute me. Sir F. Well, my frisky filly, if you've the folly not to follow freely, Frederick Fribble would feel it foolish not to force you. t So here goes. (Takes her arm. Tom. Avast there, pirate: fire a shot at that little cutter, and I’ll pour a broadside into you. Corp. Leave him to me: what can you do who have neither legs nor arms? Tom. The duty of a British sailor. Sir F. Stand out of the way, you great sea-bear. Do you know who I am * Tom. No; but I know that a female is a woman, and it is the duty of a British tar to protect a woman in distress. : So surrender your prize, and make all sail out of an enemy's port. If you stay you'll buy a rabbit. Sir F. Then I'll go, and buy a brush. This tar is above my pitch. (Erit.) Lucy. Pr'ythee don't run after him. Tom. (Pointing to his wooden legs.) A British sailor scorns to run. § Lucy. Thanks, my brave deliverer. Pardon this intrusion. Alighting from the Plymouth Telegraph, the monster accosted me (ADMIRAL appears listening); he would have forced me to accompany him ; I fled; he followed; perceiving this door open, I entered to avoid him: you know the rest. But, where am I? Tom. Aboard the good ship Admiral Anchor. Lucy. Good Heavens! my uncle! Extraordinary adventure! ||
ADMIRAL (rushing forward).
Admiral. Yes, Lucy, your uncle, who has so long mourned your death. Image of your departed mothers (They embrace.) But more of this anon.
Tom. Never a more unlooked for ship than this came into harbour; and come what may of it 'tis all for BRITAIN's Glory.
End of the Scene.
* Like the scream of the Admiral's niece who died in her infancy. The modern drama abounds in recognitions equally probable.
+ Alliteration is the beauty by which (next to pun) Mr. D 's style is distinguished. In the art of punning he is not without rivals, and (I am forced to admit) dangerous rivals too ; but in alliteration he reigns alone.
t This sentiment is sufficient to save a play on the very brink of damnation. Probatum est.
| Perfectly natural and probable; and, in the modern drama, nothing more comme
Thy tale of Elphin Irving, said a hale and ruddy old man to me, whose singular knack in relating adventures, chiefly of a joyous and festive kind, had rendered him a welcome visitant to the Portioner of Lyddalcross; thy tale, said this patriarch in narratives, is veritable doubtless, I have heard snatches of it said or sung myself while wandering about the country.
But ye have steeped it so deep, young man, in the dark stream of superstition, that ye have fairly drown
ed the tale and the hero of it toge
ther. Now, touching fairies and elves, and elf-candles, and water-spunkies, and wraiths, and ghosts, and goblins, and foul fiends hormed or clovenfooted, and witches, and wizards, and familiar spirits, I have suffered more from a bed of wet sacks in a farmer's barn, than from all the invisible dwellers of the earth or the air. For save the sinful forms clothed in flesh and blood, nought else has ever disturbed the peace of honest old John Ochiltree: nevertheless, some of the early hours of my life have been devoted to curious adventures, any of which falling from the lips of one who has a matural grace o utterance might move you to mirth; from my lips they will only move you to commiseration. The old man adjusted his wallet, or traveling knapsack, stood perpendicularly up, and combing his white locks several times with his fingers, commenced his narrative with some
thing of a look and tone at once arch and grave. I was not always, said he, an old man with a lank leg and hoary head: there was a time before I took to this pleasant life of wandering from house to hall, cheering the dames of the district with my grave look and my merry tale. I was then young, my locks were black, and my leg was firm, and I could have pitched a bar, or played on the fiddle, with any youth in the land. But a sad cough which I caught among the damp broom on Quarrelwood-hill, hearkening a sectarian sermon, plucked strength and spirit down, and drove me to the country to win the bread by my wit which I should have won by the sweat of my brow. The adventures I shall relate commenced with my seventeenth year: I had learned to sing and also to dance; but nature, which lavishes so many notable gifts, denied me that ready and familiar grace of address which wins its way to woman's regard: I conversed with the maids whom the music of the fiddle surrendered to my company, with such manifest confusion, and even alarm, that they soon reckoned me a creature equally uncouth and ungracious, and I was subjected to abundance of scorn, and caprice, and wit, when I endeavoured at gallantry. The maidens, when I led them to the floor, would examine me from head to foot, with an eye sparkling in malicious wit; and even their grandmother
regarded me with a glance of the most mortifying compassion. It was sometimes a matter of rivalry among the girls to obtain my hand: to dance with such a cutter of uncouth capers, such a marvelous piece of human imperfection as me, was made a matter of boast and a subject for laughter ; and any expressions of respect or love which I hazarded were parodied and distorted into all that was absurd and ridiculous o these capricious spirits. They all seemed to possess, for my mortification and sorrow, a talent for humour and ridicule which broke out on every occasion. I became the most exalted personage in the parish, if my merit might be estimated by the notice I received, and to this “bad eminence” I was raised by the wit, and the fun, and folly of women. To one of those meetings at the conclusion of harvest, which, taking farewell of autumn, welcome the winter with drinking and dancing and all sorts of rustic festivity, I was about this time invited. I drest myself out for the occasion in my newest dress, and in the vanity of my heart I counted myself captivating. My aunt assisted me much in this; she possessed an antique taste, and so far back did her intelligence in apparel reach, that she sought to revive, and that on my person, the motiey dress of the minstrels at the ancient border tournaments. One mistake was, that I had no turn for poetry, so I was soon doomed to endure the malice of verse without the power of inflicting it on others; and another was, that I had nothing of a romantic turn about me, so that the dress sat on me with an evil grace. To the dance, however, I went, waving my right arm gallantly as I marched along, and looking oftentimes back at my shadow in the moon-light; the luminary I could not help thinking neglected to do justice to my form, but that planet is certainly the most capricious of all the lesser lights. I was received with a general stare; and then with a burst of universal and spontaneous mirth. The old men surveyed me with looks in which compassion .." with curiosity, but the maidens gathered about me, commended the head that imagined my dress, and the hand that fashioned it;
the young men joined in this praise with a gravity which I mistook for envy, and the roof rocked and rang to another peal of laughter. The fiddler, wholly blind, and seated apart from this scene of merriment and mortification, seemed incensed to think that any one should be the cause of mirth but himself. He stayed his hand, laid down his instrument, and while he rosined his bow enquired what all this laughter meant. “ Thy curiosity shall be gratified,” said a wicked young girl, and taking my unreluctant hand, she led me up to this producer of sounds, and guided his hand to my person. He felt my dress from head to heel, vowed by his bow he had never touched a garment of such rich device as my coat, swore by his fiddle my bonnet was worth all the money his instrument had ever earned, and hoped I would leave the land before I ruined the mystery of thairms, for there was no need of instrumental mirth where I came. And dismissing me with a suppressed laugh, for open merriment might have dimimished his evening's gain, he recommenced his music, and the discontinued dance began. My torment now commenced: the lasses danced round me in a ring. I had the misfortune to be so much in request that I was never off the floor; though I danced six and thirty reels without lett or pause; and though the drops fell from my brows like rain: I saw no end to such perpetual capering. This ridiculous exertion is still remembered among the dames of Annandale; and I lately heard a girl reproach her lover with his listlessness for mirth, saying, “when will ye dance six and thirty reels like daft John Ochiltree?” I grew an inch taller with this proof of my fame. All this was to come to an end. The blind fiddler had been smit in his youth with the disease of tune-making : he had mingled the notes of half a dozen tunes together, from which he extracted a kind of musical square root, and this singular progeny he was desirous of baptizing ; much it seems depends on having a fine sounding name. At present, he was hesitating between “Prince Charles's Delight,” or “ Duke William's Welcome,” when a peasant demanded the tune, “ the new tune, plague on’t.