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THE LITTLE FRENCH
Gardiner, Lovelace, and Mills, in their Commendatory Verses, ascribe this Comedy to Fletcher;
but more credible witnesses, the Prologue and Epilogue, mention it as a joint production, Its first publication was in the folio of 1647. The greatest applause was always bestowed on this play, and it used to be frequently performed, till modern refinement banished it from the Theatres. In 1749, some of the scenes were selected for a farce, and acted under the title of this Comedy.
PROLOGUE. To promise much before a play begin, And such a play as shall (so should plays do) And when 'tis done ask pardon, were a sin Imp time's dull wings, and make you merry We'll not be guilty of; and to excuse Before we know a fault, were to abuse 'Twas to that purpose writ, so we intend it; The writers and ourselves : For I dare say And we have our wish'd ends, if you coin. We all are fool'd if this be not a play,
PERSONS REPRESENTED, DIXANT, a Gentleman that formerly loved, SAMPSON, a foolish Advocate, Kinsman to Ver. and still pretends to love Lamira.
(taign. CLEREMONT, a merry Gentleman, his Friend. GENTLEMEN. CHAMPERNEL, a lame old Gentleman, Hus CLIENTS. band to Lumira.
SERVANTS. VERTAIGN, a Nobleman and a Judge, LAMIRA, Wife to Champernel, and Daughter BEAUPRE, Son to Vertaign.
to Vertaign. VERDONE, Nephew to Champernel.
ANABELL, Niece to Champernel. LA WRIT, a wrangling Advocate, or the Nurse to Lamira.
Dhira. Little Lawyer.
CHARLOTTE, Wailing-gentlewoman to Lun SCENE, France,
For th' honour of our country, and our prince,
Pours itself out with prodigal expence
Upon our mother's lap, the earth that bred us,
For Din. DISSUA DE me not,
trife. And these private duels, Cler. 'Twill breed a brawl! Which båd their first original from the French, Din. I care not;
And for which, to this day, we're justly cenI wear a sword!
sur'd, Cler. And wear discretion with it, Are banish'd from all civil
governments: Or cast it off; let that direct your arm;
Scarce three in Venice, in as many years; 'Tis madness else, not valour, and more base In Florence they are rarer; and in all Than to receive a wrong.
The fair dominions of the Spanish king Din. Why, would you have me
They are ne'er heard of. Nay those neighSit down with a disgrace, and thank the doer? bour countries, We are not stoicks, and that passive courage Which gladly imitate our other follies, Is only now commendable in lacquies, And come at a dear rate to buy them of us, Peasants, and tradesmen, not in men of rank Begin now to detest them. And quality, as I am.
Din. Will you end yet? [late kings, Cler. Do not cherish
[suffers. Cler. And I have beard that some of our That daring vice, for which the whole age For the lie, wearing of a mistress' favour, The blood of our bold youth, that heretofore Acheat at cards or dice, and such-like causos, Was spent in honourable action,
Have lost as many gallant gentlemen Or to defend or to enlarge the kingdom, As might have met the GreatTurk in the field, VOL. II,
With confidence of a glorious victory: I have seen fools and fighterschain'd together, And shall we then
And the fighters had the upper-hand, and Din. No more, for shame, no more!
(been Are you become a patron' tov? Tis a new one, ?The poor sots laughing at 'em. What I have No more on't, burn it, give it to some orator, It skills not; what I will be is resolvid on. To help liim to enlarge bis exercise :
Din. Why, then you'll fight no more? With such a one it might do well, and profit
Cler, Such is my purpose. The curate of the parish; but for Cleremont, Din. On no occasion ? The bold and undertaking Cleremont,
Cler. There you stagger me. (and blood To talk thus to his friend, his friend that Some kind of wrongs there are, which flesh knows him,
; Cler. Why, what know you of me
Live a protested coward, or be callid one?
Cler. Words are but words. Din. Why, it thou hast forgot thyself, I'll Din. Nor wouldst thou take a blow? tell thee,
Cler. Not from my friend, tho' drunk; and And not look back, to speak of what thou wert I think much less. [irum al enemy, At fifteer., for at those years I have heard Din. There's some hope of the left then, Thou wast flesh'd, and enter'd bravely. Wouldst thou hear me behind my back disa Cler. Well, sir, well!
gracd? Din. But yesterday thou wast the common Cler. D’you think I am a rogue? They Of all that only knew thee; thou hadət bilis that should do it Set up on every post, to give thee notice Had better been born dumb, Where any ditierence was, and who were par
Din. Or in thy presence, And as, to save the charges of the law, (ties. Sce me o'er-chargd with orids? Poor men seek arbitrators, thou wert chosen, Cler. I'd fall myself first. By such as knew thee net, to compound quar Din. Wouldst thou endure thy mistress be
And thou sit quiet? [ta'en trom thee, Dut thou wert so delighted with the sport, Cier. There you touch my bouour; That if there were no just cause, thou wouldst No Frenchman can endure that.
Din. Plague upon thee! (dar’st suffer Or be engag'd thyself. This goodly calling Why dost thou talk of peace then, that TH' hast follow'd tive-andi-twenty years, and Nothing, or in thyself, or in thy friend, studied
That is unmavly? The criticisms of contentious; and art thou Cler. That l grant, I cannot: In so few hours transtorm'd? Certain, this But I'll not quarrel with this gentleman
For wearing stammel breeches3; or this gameTl'hast had strange dreams, or rather visions.
(nothing; Cler. Yes, sir,
For playing a thousand pounds, that owes me
you become a patron too? ?Tis a new one, No mure on't, buræ it, give it to some orator.] Tatron, here, has its Latin meaning, i. e. a pleader, or advocate; but the word speech, declamation, hurungue, or something to that effect, must be understood, to make the following line sense; and it is highly probable that a whole line is lost, which might have been sometbing like the following:
Are you become a patron too? Ilow long
you been conning this speech ? 'Tis a new one;
No more on't, &c. Seuurd. Are you become a patron tuo?' 'Tis a uew one.) We suspect patron to be a corruption of pattern, a word wbich would give good sense to the passage, and comes very near that admitted into the text.
2 lords are but words.] After Cleromont has said ibis, which seems to assert that he would not inind being called a coward, nor make that a cause of tightiny, Dinant goes on as if he had said directly the contrary; and perhaps a line may here be lost again to the following import :
Words are lut words, but couurd is a name
I could not brook.
3 Stammel breaches.] i. 4. Red breeches. Mr. Sympson has given an explanation of the word from Ben Jonson, inore clear than what we have in dictionaries, Octavo edition,
s'Red-hood the first that does appcar
• In stammel; scarlet is too dear.' It is highly pr:bable that red breeches were in vur Authors' time wore only by smarts, and were esteemed concomical. In that age of duelling, therefore, a sucer upon this topie miglit bave produced bloodshed. Scuari,