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Sir Fret. Oh, Lord! I am sure Mr. Sneer has more taste and sincerity than to-a double-faced fellow!
[Aside. Dangle. Yes, yes ; Sneer will jest, but a better-humouredSir Fret. Oh, I know
Dangle. He has a ready turn for ridicule. His wit costs him nothing
Sir Fret. No, egad, -or I should wonder how he came by it. [Aside. Mrs. Dangle. Because his jest is always at the expense of his friend.
Dangle. But, Sir Fretful, have you sent your play to the managers yet? Or can I be of any service to you?
Sir Fret. No, no, I thank you; I believe the piece had sufficient recommendation with it. I thank you, though. I sent it to the manager of Covent Garden Theatre this morning.
Sneer. I should have thought, now, that it might have been better cast (as they call it) at Drury Lane.
Sir Fret. Oh, Lud! No-never send a play there while I live. Hark'ee !
[Whispers SNEER. Sneer. Writes himself !—I know he does
Sir Fret. I say nothing I take away from no man's merit-am hurt at no man's good fortune--I say nothing. But this I will say— through all my knowledge of life, I have observed that there is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy!
Sneer. I believe you have reason for what you say indeed.
Sir Fret. Besides, I can tell you it is not always so safe to leave a play in the hands of those who write themselves.
Sneer. What, they may steal from them, hey, my dear Plagiary?
Sir Fret. Steal! to be sure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children, disfigure them to make 'em pass
for their own. Sneer. But your present work is a sacrifice to Melpomene, and he, you know, never
Sir Fret. That's no security. A dexterous plagiarist may do any thing. Why, sir, for aught I know, he might take some of the best things in my tragedy, and put them into his own comedy,
Sneer. That might be done, I dare be sworn.
Sir Fret. And then, if such a person gives you the least hint or assistance, he is devilish apt to take the merit of the whole.
Dangle. If it succeeds.
Sir Fret. Ay; but, with regard to this piece, I think I can hit that gentleman, for I can safely swear he never read it. Sneer. I 'll tell
how you may hurt him more. Sir Fret. How? Sneer. Swear he wrote it.
Sir Fret. Plague on't now, Sneer, I shall take it ill. I believe you want to take away my character as an author.
Sneer. Then I am sure you ought to be very much obliged to me.
Sir Fret. But, come now, there must be something that you might be amended, hey? Mr. Dangle, has nothing struck you?
Dangle. Why, faith, it is but an ungracious thing, for the most part
Sir Fret. With most authors it is just so indeed; they are in gene ral strangely tenacious ! But, for my part, I am never so well pleased as when a judicious critic points out any defect to me; for what is the purpose of showing a work to a friend, if you don't mean to profit by his opinion ?
Sneer. Very true. Why, then, though I seriously admire the piecze upon the whole, yet there is one small objection, which, if you 'll give me leave, I'll mention.
Sir Fret. Sir, you can't oblige me more.
Sir Fret. Believe me, Mr. Sneer, there is no person for whose jude ment I have a more implicit deference. But I protest to you. Sneer, I am only apprehensive that the incidents are too crowded My dear Dangle, how does it strike you?
Dangle. Really I can't agree with my friend Sneer. I think the plot quite sufficient; and the first four acts by many degrees the best I ever read or saw in my life. If I might venture to suggest any thing. it is that the interest rather falls off in the fifth.
Sir Fret. Rises, I believe, you mean, sir.
upon my word.
Sir Fret. Yes, yes, you do upon my soul-it certainly don't fall off, I assure you. No, no; it don't fall off.
Dangle. Now, Mrs. Dangle, didn't you say it struck you in the same light?
Mrs. Dangle. No, indeed, I did not-I did not see a fault in any part of the play from the beginning to the end.
Sir Fret. Upon my soul, the women are the best judges, after all!
Mrs. Dangle. Or, if I made any objection, I am sure it was nothing in the piece ; but that I was afraid it was on the whole a little too long.
Sir Fret. Pray madam, do you speak as to the duration of time, or do you mean that the story is tediously spun out ?
Mrs. Dangle. Oh, Lud! no. I speak only with reference to the usual length of acting plays.
Sir Fret. Then I am very happy-very happy indeed—because the play is a short play, a remarkably short play. I should not venture to differ with a lady on a point of taste; but, on these occasions, the watch, you know, is the critic.
Mrs. Dangle. Then, I suppose, it must have been Mr. Dangle's drawling manner of reading it to me.
Sir Fret. Oh, if Mr. Dangle read it, that's quite another affair! But I assure you, Mrs. Dangle, the first evening you can spare me three hours and a half, I 'll undertake to read you the whole from beginning to end, with the prologue and epilogue, and allow time for the music between the acts.
Mrs. Dangle. I hope to see it on the stage next.
Dangle. Well, Sir Fretful, I wish you may be able to get rid as easily of the newspaper criticisms as you do of ours.
Sir Fret. The newspapers ! Sir, they are the most villainouslicentious—abominable—infernal-not that I ever read them. No; I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
Dangle. You are quite right—for it certainly must hurt an author of delicate feelings to see the liberties they take.
Sir Fret. No! quite the contrary; their abuse is, in fact, the best panegyric-I like it of all things. An author's reputation is only in danger from their support.
Sneer. Why, that's true—and that attack, now, on you the other day —
Sir Fret. What? Where?
Dangle. Ay, you mean in the paper of Thursday; it was completely ill-natured, to be sure.
Sir Fret. Oh, so much the better. Ha! ha! I wouldn't have it otherwise.
Dangle. Certainly, it is only to be laughed at; for
Sir Fret. You don't happen to recollect what the fellow said, do you?
Sneer. Pray, Dangle—Sir Fretful seems a little anxious.
Sir Fret. Oh, Lud! no; anxious—not I-not in the least. I- -But one may as well hear, you
know, Dangle. Sneer, do you recollect? Make out something. [Aside. Sneer. I will.—[T. DANGLE.] Yes, yes, I remember perfectly.
Sir Fret. Well, and pray now—not that it signifies--what might the gentleman say?
Sneer. Why, he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention or original genius whatever, though you are the greatest traducer of all other authors living.
Sir Fret. Ha! ha! ha!-very good!
Sneer. That, as to comedy, you have not one idea of your own, he believes, even in your common-place book; where stray jokes and pilfered witticisms are kept with as much method as the ledger of the lost and stolen office.
Sir Fret. Ha! ha! ha!- very pleasant.
Sneer. Nay, that you are so unlucky as not to have the skill even to steal with taste; but that you glean from the refuse of obscure volumes, where more judicious plagiarists have been before you; so that the body of your work is a composition of dregs and sediments—like a bad tavern's worst wine,
Sir Fret. Ha ! ha!
Sneer. In your more serious efforts, he says, your bombast would be less intolerable, if the thoughts were ever suited to the expression; but the homeliness of the sentiment stares through the fantastic encumbrance of its fine language, like a clown in one of the new uniforms !
Sir Fret. Ha! ha!
Sneer. That your occasional tropes and flowers suit the general coarseness of your style, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey. woolsey; while your imitations of Shakspere resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's page, and are about as near the standard of the original.
Sir Fret. Ha!
Sneer. In short, that even the finest passages you steal are of no service to you; for the poverty of your own language prevents their assimilating, so that they lie on the surface like lumps of marl on a barren moor, encumbering what it is not in their power to fertilize!
Sir Fret. [After great agitation.] Now another person would be vexed at this.
Sneer. Oh! but I wou'dn't have told you, only to divert you.
Sir Fret. I know it-I am diverted. Ha! ha! ha! not the least invention! Ha! ha! ha!-very good! very good !
Sncer. Yes-no genius ! Ha! ha! ha!
Dangle. A severe rogue ! Ha! ha! ha! but you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such nonsense.
Sir Fret. To be sure—for, if there is any thing to one's praise, it is a foolish vanity to be gratified at it; and, if it is abuse, why one is always sure to hear of it from one d-d good-natured friend or other.
161.-SWINEHERDS OF THE NEW FOREST.
GILPIN. [WILLIAM GILPIN was one of those best benefactors of mankind, who, without possessing abilities of the very highest order, employ their talents so as to be useful to others and happy in themselves. He was born in 1724, entered the church, and married young. He became a schoolmaster at Cheam in Surrey, and there realized a handsome competence. The living of Boldre in the New Forest was presented to him; and there he dwelt for the remainder of his long and useful life, a blessing to all the inhabitants of that wild and beautiful district. He died in 1804. At a time when a love of the picturesque was little cultivated, he published several works, illustrating by his descriptions and his pencil the principles of the beautiful in landscape. The following extract is from his · Forest Scenery,' in which he describe characteristics of his own locality, and intersperses his artistical sketches with many amusing anecdotes and traditions.]
These woods afford excellent feeding for hogs, which are led in the