Scene I.The Theatre before the Curtain.
Enter Dangle, Puff, and Sneer.
Puff. No, no, sir; what Shakspeare says of actors may be better applied to the purpose of plays; they ought to be the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. Therefore when history, and particularly the history of our own country, furnishes anything like a case in point, to the time in which an author writes, if he knows his own interest, he will take advantage of it; so, sir, I call my tragedy The Spanish Armada; and have laid the scene before Tilbury Fort.
Sneer. A most happy thought, certainly!
Dang. Egad it wasI told you so. But pray now, I dont understand how you have contrived to introduce any love into it.
Puff. Love! oh, nothing so easy! for it is a received point among poets, that where history gives you a good heroic outline for a play, you may fill up with a little love at your own discretion: in doing which, nine times out of ten, you only make up a deficiency in the private history of the times. Now, I rather think I have done this with some success.
Sneer. No scandal about Queen Elizabeth, I hope?
Puff. O Lud! no, no;I only suppose the governor of Tilbury Forts daughter to be in love with the son of the Spanish admiral.
Sneer. Oh, is that all!
Dang. Excellent, ifaith! I see at once. But wont this appear rather improbable?
Puff. To be sure it willbut what the plague! a play is not to show occurrences that happen every day, but things just so strange, that though they never did, they might happen.
Sneer. Certainly nothing is unnatural, that is not physically impossible.
Puff. Very trueand for that matter Don Ferolo Whiskerandos, for thats the lovers name, might have been over here in the train of the Spanish ambassador; or Tilburnia, for that is the ladys name, might have been in love with him, from having heard his character, or seen his picture; or from knowing that he was the last man in the world she ought to be in love withor for any other good female reason.However, sir, the fact is, that though she is but a knights daughter, egad! she is in love like any princess!
Dang. Poor young lady! I feel for her already! for I can conceive how great the conflict must be between her passion and her duty; her love for her country, and her love for Don Ferolo Whiskerandos!
Puff. Oh, amazing!her poor susceptible heart is swayed to and fro by contending passions like
Enter Under Prompter.
Und. Promp. Sir, the scene is set, and everything is ready to begin, if you please.
Puff. Egad, then well lose no time.
Und. Promp. Though, I believe, sir, you will find it very short, for all the performers have profited by the kind permission you granted them.
Puff. Hey! what?
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