The flitch of bacon; a comic opera: in two acts: as it is performed at the Theatre-Royal in the Hay-Market. By the Rev. Hen. Bate.

[Page 13] [...] [Page 14] [...] [Page]


By the Rev. HEN. BATE.

—Thus theſe two
Imparadis'd in one another's arms,
(The happier Eden) ſhall enjoy their fill
Of bliſs, on bliſs!





YOUR title to the matrimonial prize of DUNMOW PRIORY, is admitted by the general voice, without the formality of the claim; and therefore I have preſumed to lay it at your feet. Humble as the offering is, it carries with it the never-fading wreathe of CONJUGAL VIRTUE, which in our own iſle gives luſtre to a Diadem—and therefore cannot be unacceptable to any branch of the illuſtrious houſe of NORTHUMBERLAND.

I am, My LORD, and LADY, with the greateſt reſpect, your moſt obedient, and devoted ſervant, HENRY BATE.


[Page vi]
Juſtice BENBOW
Captain WILSON
ELIZA, (married to GREVILLE)

Shepherds, Shepherdeſſes, &c.



1. ACT I.

1.1. SCENE a Green.

The Curtain riſing, diſcovers Tipple on a Ladder, hanging a FLITCH OF BACON upon the Arm of an old Oak; Putty, the Glazier, painting the Names of the Candidates on the Stocks.
RISING with the ſun to labor,
Blithe like him we ſpend the day!
When he ſet [...] the merry tabor
Bids us frolic, ſport and play!
Tip. There it is! And as fine a flitch as any in this hundred or the next; now let 'em win it, and ſnack it, ſay I.
Put. Why they ſay as how, Maſter Tipple, that they been your tip-top gentry that are coming down to ſwear for it.
Tip. Ay, like enough, neighbour Putty, for now-a-days they may ſwear through a church door, and nobody muſt not ſay nay to 'em.
[Page 2] Put. We hears there's to be rare doings, howſever!
Tip. Plenty of the big beer ſtirring to-day; why his worſhip has given me orders, that no throat ſhall be dry thro' the whole hamlet!
All. Rare news, indeed!
Tip. So bundle along, my lads and laſſes—clap your beſt foot foremoſt! Get your half-day's work done, and ere night you ſhall be all as merry as grigs.
[Exeunt, ſinging the Chorus.

1.2. SCENE a Room in the Juſtice's Houſe.

Enter Juſtice.
Juſt. No tidings yet of the arrival of the candidates?
Serv. None at all, Sir.
Juſt. Surely I have not miſtaken the day! Let me ſee— [Takes a Letter from his Pocket and reads.] ‘"A young couple, named Lionel and Elizabeth Greville, intend to claim the honourable reward due to their conjugal fidelity, on Thurſday next, the 28th of July."’—And glad I a [...] in this age of divorces, ſeparations, and devil' [...], that there is any conjugal fidelity at all to [...]d.— [Reads on.] ‘"Being able to conform to all the ceremonies in that caſe made and provided, according to the charter of Dunmow Priory."’—No, it's right enough, I ſee. [After a Pauſe.]—This, which will prove a day of feſtivity to the whole country, is to me a ſad memento of my daughter's diſobedience, and my own raſhneſs. Perhaps, even now, when by the cuſtom of my manor, I am about to reward the love and conſtancy of this happy pair, my own poor girl may be the wife of an unfeeling tyrant, and the child of penury, on a foreign ſhore! Why [Page 3] did I, in the bitterneſs of my wrath, refuſe to ſee her?—But then was there not a provocation?—To elope to France! and that with a young rake of an officer whom I never beheld!—
Enter Tipple.
Tip. Your ſervant, your worſhip!
Juſt. Well, Tipple, what news have you brought?
Tip. Only, that all's done as your worſhip ordered—Fooh! fooh! how woundly hot it is this morning! My mouth is ſo parch'd, and my throat ſo dry!—
Juſt. [Smiling.] The old hint for a morning draught! Eh, Tipple?—Here, William, bring a tankard of ſtrong beer.
Tip. Ah! your worſhip's a ſenſible kind of a body: you can ſee the wants of a poor man with half an eye, and loves to relieve 'em—but as for your neighbour, Dr. Stingy, our Wicar, I never ſee the man that could tell, whether he brew'd with pale malt or brown; and that's a monſtrous ſhame for a clargyman!
Enter Servant, with a Tankard.
Juſt. Come, take your liquor, Tipple, and you'll proceed the better.
Tip. [After drinking.] The rich don't want it: but it does mend a poor man's ſpirits ſure enough.—Well then, your worſhip, the Flitch is hung up on the arm of the old oak, and a choice one it is! 'twas one of the laſt litter of the old carroty ſow; it weighs twenty ſtone at leaſt, and better ſtuff nedid man ſtick knife into.—Oh! and Nat Putty, the glazier, too, has finiſhed painting the names of the [Page 4] candidates upon the ſtocks, according to the canon law of the manor.
Juſt. That's all very well. You muſt now go and find out my brother, the Major, and tell him, I ſhall be glad of his company to dinner, notwithſtanding our little pet this morning.
Tip. I will, your worſhip: but I am glad his honour, the Major, is not to be jocum tenus for your worſhip, he's ſo much upon the roguiſh order with the women, now and ten. I did not care to mention it to your worſhip before; but as true as I'm alive he was a little rombuſtical to our Bridget, no longer ago than laſt Sunday was ſe'night, as ſhe was coming home from church.
Juſt. Ay, no doubt, for his head runs of nothing elſe but fighting and wenching from morning to night; though he'll meet with his match one day or other, take my word for it. But it's a little ſtrange, methinks, Tipple, that in the courſe of ſo many centuries, no couple of our own family ſhould have claimed this matrimonial honor?
Tip. Mayhap, your worſhip, they thought their own bacon too fat for 'em, and would not ſit eaſy on their ſtomachs.
Juſt. So it ſhould ſeem, Tipple; [Smiling.]—well, do you hear any thing of the happy couple, who, or what they are?
Tip. No, your worſhip.—My wife Bridget thinks as how they been Londoners; now, for my part, I takes it to be a Lord and his ſpouſe; ſuch a mort of folk have been flocking from all parts to ſee 'em, and ſuch a woundly ſight of chaiſeſes, and fine cattle, been come to the Red Cow and Green Man already—Oh! I'm certain it muſt be a lord.
Juſt. Oh, that can't be!
Tip. Why not, your worſhip?
[Page 5] Juſt. Becauſe, theſe are not the days, Tipple, for coronets and conjugal affection to take a trip together to Dunmow Priory; beſides, the lady has deſired the privilege of being veiled, a modeſt ſign, ſeldom or never to be found among the great folks, Tipple, depend on't.
Tip. Modeſt! not they, efecks! they'd ſooner ſtare poor folk out of countenance, than give 'em any thing.
Juſt. Well ſaid, Tipple! A pretty correct portrait of our modern peerage!
Tip. To tell your worſhip the truth, I'm not over and above fond of 'em.
SONG, awkwardly imitating the Maccaronies. TIPPLE.
Oh, a gay flaſhy lord is a woundy ſine ſight!
Who is ne'er to be ſeen but with owls in the night:
Then ſo ſlight here behind,
He's blown thro' by the wind;
So cropp'd,
And belopp'd!
Such timber, ſo limber, from top to the toe,
That he wriggles and nods, as he walks to and fro!
I ne'er ſee'd but one in the courſe of my life,
And him I had lick'd, but for Bridget my wife;
I laugh'd at his pride,
And the ſpit by his ſide,
Good lack!
His long back,
Like a building ſo weak is, it hardly can ſtand,
But would ſnap ſhort in two like a twig in this hand!
[Exe [...]

1.3. SCENE a Grove. Drum beats.

[Page 6]
Grevill, Wilſon and Eliza diſcovered, in diſguiſ [...] as a recruiting Party.
How merrily we live that ſoldiers be!
Round the world thus we march with merry glee:
On the pleaſant downs ſometimes encamp'd we lie;
No cares we know, but Fortune's frowns defy,
So long as we can ſee our colours fly.
Grev. Under this diſguiſe, we are arrived within gun ſhot of the fort; the fort, which, about this time twelve-month, I ſack'd of thee, Eliza, its deareſt treaſure.
Eliza. From which, you mean, I voluntarily deſerted to the enemy.—Heigho!
Grev. Come, come, you promis'd, when we embarked from Calais on this enterprize, to give all theſe womaniſh fears to the wind.
Wil. You who made ſo light of the ſtormy terrors of the ſea, to ſink now at the proſpect of ſucceſs!
Eliza. Alas! you, neither of you, know the difference between that, and the preſent conflict!
The pow'rs that agitate the ſeas,
And bid the billows roar,
Can calm them into bounds of peace,
And make them kiſs the ſhore:
But I, who rais'd, and left the ſtorm,
To wreck a parent's breaſt,
Can ne'er approach his dreaded form,
To bleſs him, or be bleſt!
[Page 7] Grev. Prithee, love, take courage, let this inſpire thee. [Kiſſing her.
Wil. As the cordial ſeems to revive her, don't be ſp [...]ing of them, but give her another, and we ſhall be proof againſt any thing.
Eliza. The deuce take you! You all know well enough how to enſlave us; while a poor woman's conqueſt generally ceaſes with the novelty of her charms.
Grev. Never, with the man of common ſenſe or integrity, my Eliza, depend on't.
No:—'twas neither ſhape nor [...]eature,
Made me own thy ſov'reign ſway;
Ev'n thine, the proudeſt gifts of nature,
Could have triumph'd but a day!
Beauty's graces, tho' inviting,
Scarce the raviſh'd ſenſe will bind;
But with Virtue's charms uniting,
Steal Love's fetters o'er the mind.
Wil. Oh! the drum, I ſee, has brought Ned to us.
Enter Ned.
Grev. Well, Ned, how does the land lie?
Ned. Rarely, Sir; every thing goes as your heart cou'd wiſh.
Eliza. And how does my dear father, Ned?
Ned. Oh! pure and hearty, Madam.
Eliza. Thank Heaven!
Grev. Did the old gentleman heſitate at all, to comply with the demand in my letter?
Ned. Not in the leaſt, Sir; for when he read it [Page 8] he only ſigh'd, and ſaid. Heaven forbid he ſhould with-hold the reward due to honourable love.
Eliza. Heaven then reward his generous feelings! How I long, my Greville, once more to behold this beſt of fathers and of men!
Grev. So neither he, nor his brother, the old Major, have the leaſt ſuſpicion of our ſcheme, you are ſure, Ned.
Ned. None in the world, Sir. His worſhip wanted much to know who the couple were; but he ſeemed ſatisfied at laſt, when I told him, they deſired it might be kept a ſecret; and has conſented, that you, Madam, ſhould appear veil'd before him, not to put your modeſty to the bluſh.
Grev. Run then to the corner of the lane there, where the poſt-coach ſtands, take out the cloak-bag, pay the drivers, and return to us immediately.
[Exit Ned.
Eliza. I begin now to be more afraid of my uncle's obſtinacy than any thing elſe; for his conſent, you know, is as neceſſary as my father's, for the recovery of my fortune.
Wil. If that's all your fear, make yourſelf perfectly eaſy; for a little plot has juſt ſtruck me, that cannot fail, I think, to operate effectually upon him, if I underſtand his character at all, in which you muſt not only aſſiſt, without a murmur, but act a principal part. [To Eliza.
Eliza. You may be ſure, my aſſiſtance will not be wanting: but what is it? I'm all impatience till I know it.
Wil. Why, what think you of my bringing you together, for you to make a conqueſt of the old one-eyed dotard, (who, you ſay, can't ſee the length of his noſe) and then leave it to your wit and goodſenſe to turn it to a proper advantage?
[Page 9] Eliza. I cannot divine what end this can poſſibly anſwer.
Wil. Oh! the beſt in the world; that of betraying him into ſo ridiculous a ſituation, that he ſhall readily aſſent to any terms you may propoſe, to ſave himſelf from becoming the deriſion of the whole country.
Eliza. Why, I muſt confeſs, I do not ſee any great difficulty in effecting this—for the Major is a hungry fiſh, that riſes at every fly, and if I can muſter up ſpirits enough, I don't fear but I ſhould be able to hook him.
Grev. Bravo! I like the plot amazingly!
Eliza. But if he ſhould begin to be violent, and talk nonſenſe to me?
Wil. Why then you've only to ſhut your ears and run away from him: but be ſure you contrive it ſo, that he may catch you again.
Enter Ned, with a Cloak-bag, &c.
Where is the likelieſt place to fall in with the Major accidentally in his morning's ramble, Ned?
Ned. Oh, Sir! you may meet with him this very inſtant, at the Red Cow upon the Green, taking what he calls his morning's bever.
Wil. If that's the caſe, I'll make the attack immediately; and as you have agreed to try the experiment, Greville muſt attend you to this ſpot about two hours hence, and then leave the reſt to fortune and me.
Eliza. I'll certainly attempt it, tho', even with all the aſſiſtance of your friendſhip and invention, rather doubtful of ſucceſs.
Wil. You know but little of theſe old dotards, or [Page 10] you would be ſatisfied how eaſy a matter it is to carry our plan into execution.
Tell me which of magic charms
Ev'ry earthly pow'r diſarms;
Young ones pleaſing,
Grey-beards teaſing,
Setting fancy wild afloat?—
'Tis the ſnow-white Petticoat!
Circled thus from prying eyes,
Love's immortal witchcraft lies:
And to bleſs us,
Or diſtreſs us,
Nature bids us fondly doat—
On the ſnow-white Petticoat!

1.4. SCENE, a Room at the Red Cow.

Enter Major Benbow, and Tipple with a Tankard.
Tip. I'll be ſworn, your honor, there will be a thouſand folk at leaſt, gentle, and ſimple, and all.
Maj. And what's that, you fool, to an army on the field of battle? where I've ſeen fifty thouſand alive and merry before breakfaſt, and half of 'em dead on the ſpot before dinner, and a damn'd fine ſight, let me tell you, Tipple!
Tip. Mercy on us!
Maj. Many's the good time that I've ſeen the field covered with Frenchmen's blood, and made ſo hot by our hiſſing nine-pounders—that one might have poach'd an egg in it!
Tip. [Whiſtling.] Now he's off full gallop! [Aſide.
Maj. Did I never tell you, Tipple, of my behaviour [Page 11] at the battle of Crevelt, where I loſt the fellow to this eye?
Tip. O la! Yes, your honour, a thouſand times.
Maj. That's a damn'd confounded lie, Tipple! Beſides, if I had, it would imprint it the ſtronger on your memory. On the 17th of Auguſt, juſt at break of day— [Drum beats.]—what the devil's all this about?
Tip. O, lud! the French evaſion's certainly come.
Maj. There's nothing new in that, Tipple, for the French always evade coming to blows as long as ever they can; for my part, I wiſh the Monſieurs would come over; I ſhould like to ſee a few of their whiſkers on this ſide the water.
Tip. Lud, your honour! how can you be ſo blaſ—phe—mous? Why ſhould you?
Maj. To train our Cox-heath camp a little; then our militia would eat their brown bread without grumbling, and fight like lions, for fear the hungry Frenchmen ſhould eat it all up from 'em.—Here, Kilderkin!
Enter Kilderkin.
What, the devil! are we beſieg'd here, Kilderkin?
Kil. Sieg'd, your honour!
Maj. Ay.—What drum was that?
Kil. O, la! your honour; only a drummer of a marching regiment of foot, juſt call'd in for a mug of beer, that's all.
Tip. I'fecks! I'm glad on't!
Maj. Order him in to me, Kilderkin, that I may examine his beating orders.
Kil. I will, your honour: but he ſeems a pickled kind of a fellow.
[Page 12] Maj. Pickled!—I'll pickle him, a dog, I warrant you—and ſee for a conſtable, Kilderkin; do you hear.
[Exit Kilderkin.
Tip. Ax him, your honour, by what authority he comes into our Willage, to frighten poor honeſt men, and their Vives and children?
Maj. Let me alone, Tipple, let me alone.
Enter Wilſon.
How dare you, Sir, beat a drum in this diviſion [...]y leave?
[...] Your leave, Sir!—Why I don't know who [...]re!
Maj. Not know who I am!—Did you ever ſee ſuch an impudent ſcoundrel in the whole courſe of your life?
Tip. A pure impudent fellow, ſure enough.
Maj. Lookee, you thumper of parchment! I am Major Benbow, who ſerved five and thirty years in the [...]rain, but am now retired on half-pay, with as many honourable holes through my body, as you have button holes in your jacket, you dog; and one of his Majeſty's juſtices of peace for the county of Eſſex.
Wil. [Taking off his Hat.] If ſo, I crave your honour's pardon.
Maj. Shew me your beating order, Sir;—ſhew me your beating order.
Wil. An't pleaſe your honour, the ſerjeant is gone to the juſtice's, next the church, to get it back'd.
Maj. There's another damn'd inſult to the military! Get my brother to back a beating order, while I am canton'd in the pariſh!—A feeder of bullocks, who never ſmelt powder in the courſe of [Page 13] his life! Nor you neither, one would ſuppoſe, by your unſoldier-like conduct.
Wil. It does not become a private man to boaſt of his exploits, or I could convince your honour, that I have ſeen ſome warm ſervice, and that when I was no higher than your honour's cane.
Maj. Ay, what?—When?—Where?
Wil. I'll tell your honour:
From Minden's plains of glory,
I date my warlike ſtory;
Where conqueſt, never yet out-done
By Britiſh arms, was nobly won!
See old Kingſley's lads preſent!
Revenge deſiring!
Inceſſant firing!
On fame and Britain's glory bent.
All our powder and ball expended,
The Monſieurs thought the battle ended,
Till with bayonets advancing,
We quickly ſet their columns prancing,
And, to make our vict'ry good,
Follow'd thro' a crimſon flood!
[Da Capo.
Tip. A marv'lous bloody ſtory, ſure enough!
Maj. Why that does ſmack a little of the old ſoldier, I muſt confeſs. What regiment do you belong to?
Wil. I belong to the old Twentieth, your honour.
Maj. And how many does your party conſiſt of?
Wil. Why there's only the ſerjeant, corporal, and myſelf.
Maj. What only three of you?
Wil. No more, your honour; except a young lady, indeed, that came off with the ſerjeant, in a kind of a frolic.
[Page 14] Maj. Eh! What? A young lady!—You may leave us for half a minute, Tipple, while I examine him a little cloſer, as the times are perilous, to ſee if he is not a ſpy.—Do you take me?—I'll ring for you when I want you.
Tip. Ecod, that's right, your worſhip, ſound him to the bottom; for he looks woundly like a ſpy, or a Roman Papiſh. [Making ſignals to each other.
[Exit Tipple.
Maj. What was it you was ſaying about a fine girl juſt now? You may ſpeak out, my honeſt lad, for nobody now can over-hear us.
Wil. [Pondering.] Fine girl!—O! yes, your honour, I believe I did ſay ſomething about the frolickſome young lady, who, tying her ſheets together, let herſelf out of a boarding-ſchool window, near London, to come off with our ſerjeant: but I believe they are plaguy ſick of each other by this time.
Maj. Sweet, ſpirited little baggage—what would I give to have been in the dog's place! Is ſhe very pretty?
Wil. Oh! the ſweeteſt roſy young creature your honour every clapped your—one eye on!
Maj. Hold your tongue, you dog, or you'll ſet me all on fire; I'm in a fever already!—Hearkee! Do you think ſhe is—come—at—able?
Wil. That I can't ſay: but if your honour was to be as ſecret as I could wiſh, I don't know but matters might be brought about.
Maj. Who me! I'll be as ſilent as a wounded Frenchman, with a lock'd jaw.—Come, tell me, where ſhall I ſee her; for, you damn'd dog, you've beat Love's revelly on the drum of my ear, till my paſſions are all under arms! Come, come, it's your duty to aſſiſt a brother ſoldier; beſides, [Giving him [Page 15] Money.] there's your Maſter's order for it, ſtamp'd with his own royal arms.
Wil. That being the caſe, your honour, it would be mutiny not to obey, and puniſhable by the articles of war. [Putting the Money in his Pocket.] But would your honour treat her kindly? for ſhe is very young and tender, and of a very good family.
Maj. Pretty ſoul! Why if I like her, I'll take her under my protection, and nurſe her like a pet lamb! But what the devil ſhall we do with the ſerjeant the while?
Wil. Oh! leave that to me; I'll take care of him: a batch of Coggeſhall beer will put him under an arreſt at any time.
Maj. Excellent! why what a ſhrew'd clever dog you are!—But when ſhall I ſee the little huſſey?
Wil. This very afternoon; before the ceremony on the Green, I'll contrive that ſhe ſhall take a walk in the grove, juſt upon the hill. I'll tell her what kindneſs ſhe is to expect; after which, I ſhall have nothing to do, but march you up to her, and leave you to ſettle the reſt,
Maj. Give me your hand—You're a damn'd fine, jolly fellow!—Say no more; Snug's the word.
Enter Tipple.
Tip. Here's the conſtable in the kitchen, your honour, ready to commit the wagrant ſpy.
Maj. Spy! What ſpy? Is the fellow mad or drunk this morning? Why, you fool, this is one of the fineſt fellows in all his Majeſty's ſervice! So ſhake hands with him, Tipple.
Wil. Come, Maſter Tipple, [Offering his Hand.] don't be afraid.
[Page 16] Tip. I'm content. [Looking affrighted.
Maj. That's well. And now we'll ſally forth, and ſee how the world wags abroad. [Making Signs to Wilſon.
How ſhould we mortals ſpend our hours?
—In war!
—In love!
—In drinking!
None but a fool conſumes his pow'rs
—In peace,
—In care,
—In thinking.
Time, would you let him wiſely paſs,
—Is lively!
—And jolly!
Dip but his wings i'th' ſparkling glaſs,
And he'll drown dull melancholy!

2. ACT II.

[Page 17]

2.1. SCENE a Grove.

Enter Eliza, and Greville.
THO' fortune cloud hope's friendly ray,
That beams our guardian light,
Our conſtancy ſhall cheer the day,
Our love the longeſt night!
By thee belov'd!
—While bleſt with thee!
Stern Fate may frown in vain;
Content, and ſweet Simplicity,
Will take us in their train!
Grev. Tho', my Eliza, we did fly from parental tyranny, and obeyed the call of Nature, in following our own inclinations, yet the reflection, that we have violated no principle, either of reaſon or virtue, will ever preſerve our domeſtic felicity!
Eliza. Hence all doubt and fears!—The arguments of love and Greville are irreſiſtible!
Grev. To your poſt then! for I ſee your uncle and Wilſon aſcending the hill; I muſt withdraw, therefore, on the other ſide of the grove: but whatever may [...] the iſſue of this experiment, I ſhall wait to conduct you to the church, where by oath, you know, we muſt qualify ourſelves for the laſt, and moſt ſerious ſcene of all.
Eliza. To encounter the eyes of an offended father, will be a trying ſcene indeed!
[Page 18] Grev. Courage, my love, and ſucceſs cannot fail to attend us! [Kiſſes her, and retires.
Eliza. Adieu!—Well, matters are now coming to a criſis indeed!—It's well for me, the old Major is purblind, or I fear my confuſion on his firſt approach would betray me.—Bleſs me! here he comes, hobbling along;—ſuppoſe I lure him with my favourite air, and thus decoy the old bird of prey, by the very ſtrains in which I love to recount my Greville's affection.
Within this breaſt the record lies
Of all the vows he made;
His lips—but more his tell-tale eyes,
His inmoſt ſoul betray'd!
How could I ſhun the pleaſing pain
When all my doubts were flown?
Beſides, my bluſhes told the ſwain,
My heart was not my own!
The Major and Wilſon enter juſt before the concluſion of the Air.
Wil. A ſweet little pipe, a'n't ſhe, your honour?
Maj. Enchanting!—But where is the dear delightful little minx? She's got of the blind ſide of me already!
Wil. There ſhe ſits, your honour, on that ſtile, leaning her roſy cheek upon her li [...] hand.
Maj. By my ſword and authority, and ſo ſhe does! [Looking thro' a Glaſs.] and looks as ſoft, and as plump as—Zounds! I'm ſo impatient, I can't think of a ſimile for her! [Putting himſelf in an Attitude of advancing.
[Page 19] Wil. Huſh, your honour! Now pray be a little gentle with her at firſt, and you'll find ſhe'll come to hand like a tame ſparrow.
Maj. Mum!—You're right.—I'll take your advice, for I'm apt to be a little too fiery I muſt confeſs.
Eliza. He's a long time before he advances; like cowards of the other ſex, I begin to derive courage, I find, from the backwardneſs of the enemy. [Aſide.
Maj. [Peeping thro' a Glaſs.] Has ſhe fine eyes, Drum?
Wil. Beautiful, your honour!
Maj. But, Drum! She has got two, I hope?
Wil. Yes, your honour.
Maj. I'm glad on't, for I love to baſk in the ſunſhine of a pair of pretty twinklers!—But harkee!—Are you ſure now, that the Serjeant's ſafe after all?
Wil. So ſafe, your honour, that I left him, about ten minutes ago, at the Green Man, not able to ſtand or go.
Maj. Why then you may incline to the left, and beat a retreat down the hill, as ſoon as you pleaſe; but you're ſure that you ſettled it with her about my coming?
Wil. That you may depend on, your honour;—And ſuch a ſettlement as will cool your courage, or I'm much miſtaken, my old buck. [Aſide, and exit.
Maj. Now [...]or the attack— [Advancing.]—But ſecond thoughts are beſt; ſo, like a prudent officer, I'll firſt reconnoitre at a diſtance, for fear ſhe ſhould ſpring a mine upon me.
[Page 20]
Odds bobs! ſhe's wond'rous pretty!
Her locks are almoſt jetty!
She's finer wench than Betty!
And ſee her eyes are blue!
Her ſnow-white boſom's heaving
My appetite is craving!—
She hits my taſte to a ſhaving!—
Sweet damſel, how do you do?
Maj. I ſay, how d'ye do, damſel? How d'ye do?
Eliza. Pretty well, I thank you, Sir; how do you do?
Maj. Oh! oh! the fort ſurrenders without firing a ſingle ſhot!
Eliza. May I be ſo bold as to aſk your name, Sir? For you're a fine man, and a brave one I'm ſure, by your looks.
Maj. Poor thing! She's done for already! [Conceitedly.] The gates are thrown open! ſo that I have nothing to do, but march in with all the honours of war. [Aſide.
Eliza. La! as ſure as I'm alive, you are the agreeable gentleman that the drummer told me about; a'n't you, Sir?
Maj. The very ſame, my little dove! no leſs a man than Major Benbow, of the train, who formerly laid whole towns in aſhes, and left ſuch beauteous damſels as you to weep the embers out.
Eliza. Indeed! Dear me, what a brave man you muſt be?
Maj. O! that's nothing, child, to what I've been us'd to—but now, my better fate ordains, that I ſhould ſit down before the breaſt-work of your little [Page 21] heart, and never raiſe the ſiege, as long as I have a tongue to ſummon it to ſurrender.
Eliza. Ah, me! what an unfortunate girl am I, who cannot ſhut my ears againſt the flattering tales of a gallant and agreeable man.—But if you love me then, as you ſay you do, take me with you to ſee ſhew upon the Green.
Maj. What my brother's damn'd Flitch of Bacon raree ſhew? No; that's rather too bad, child: beſides, it would not be ſo prudent for us to be ſeen together.
Eliza. Your brother is he, Sir?—Why ſure then it's very good of him to encourage matrimony in this manner!
Maj. Yes, a very good kind of a fellow truly, who ſhut his door in his own daughter's face, only for doing the very thing that he is now going to reward in others.
Eliza. That was unkind of him, indeed!
Maj. Unkind! why he's the moſt flint-hearted, cloſe-fiſted old dog in the whole hundred, and quite the reverſe of me, tho' I'm his brother that ſay it!
Eliza. What kind of a young lady was ſhe, Sir?
Maj. Nothing to brag on, love! A chattering, forward kind of minx, who, as ſoon as ſhe began to feel her legs, could not be held in, by the ſtrongeſt double rein'd bridle in her father's ſtable!
Eliza. Pleaſant all this! [Aſide.]—Was ſhe pretty, Sir?
Maj. Oh! no, quite the reverſe.—You might have ſworn ſhe was the daughter of a grazier, for ſhe was large, plump, and red, all over, like an Eſſex calf.
Eliza. A very flattering deſcription, truly! [Aſide.
Maj. I mean, when compared with ſuch a ſweet, [Page 22] delicate, tempting morſel as you.— [Kiſſing her hand.] But come, my little angel, we loſe time; yield at once to the addreſſes of a man, trained in the field of honour, who never fails to make a ſuitable return.
Eliza. Heigho!—And when you have ſecured my affections, perhaps you'll ſerve me as your brother did his daughter, turn me out to the wide world, to repent my folly, and raſhneſs.
The heart the gallant ſoldier ſtorms,
Surrenders at diſcretion;
To his command, ev'n love conforms,
And gains him quick poſſeſſion.
This ſilent grove
Abets your love,
While you my heart trapan;—
Ceaſe to woo me!
You'll undo me,
Too bewitching man!
Oh! if I yield and grant your will,
I doubt you would forſake me;
And ſhould you not your vows fulfil,
Deſpair would overtake me!
Da Capo. The heart, &c.
Maj. Forſake you? No, upon my ſoul, I won't; for if I find you loving and conſtant, you ſhall live with me all the days of my life, and inherit the portion I deſigned for my run-away niece.
Eliza. But ſee, the country people are paſſing by the Grove, and we ſhall be diſcovered!
Maj. Here, here!—take this key then, which unlocks the little white wicket, that leads from the Green into my garden; ſo that when that old fool [Page 23] my brother, and his mob, are buſy with their damn'd Flitch of Bacon, you may ſteal, like a young leveret thro' her meuſe, into my ſhrubbery; will you now, my little roſe-bud?
Eliza. I will, I will;—but don't ſqueeze me ſo.— [Breaks from him.] Oh! he's a terrible old man! I'm well out of his clutches.
[Exit laughing.
Maj. Tol-de-roll— [Strutting.]—The field's my own!—As to the ſerjeant, if he pretends to grumble, I can either purchaſe, or compel the dog's ſilence, which ever I pleaſe. My brother Benbow, I ſuppoſe, when he hears of it, will run roaring thro' the hamlet like a pariſh bull—but what care I? All the heroes of antiquity had their pretty little grigs to toy away a pleaſurable hour with; and why not the moderns?—Achilles had his little blue-eyed wench, and damme I'll have mine!

2.2. SCENE, a Green; with a large wooden Chair under an old Oak. A ſhort Paſtoral Dance of Shepherds, by Way of Entrè to the Proceſſion.

Enter Tipple, with a white Wand, and a Bottle in his Hand, half drunk.
Tip. Make way, make way there; now, do, my ſweet, pretty little damſels, make way for the candidates to come in perceſſion from the church;—nay! do, my ſweet, pretty, little wenches.—It will be your turns, my little ſmilers, all in good time.—Fooh! what a melting day it is! and not a breath of air to be had, for love, or money—let's ſee what this will do. [Drinks.
Juſtice entering, takes the Chair.
Juſt. Nothing now remains, but for you, Tipple, to chaunt out the clauſe in the charter, ſummoning [Page 24] the happy couple to come forth, and receive the reward due to their love and fidelity.
[Gives Tipple the Parchment.
Tip. I'm a little hoarſe, and giddy, this hot weather, your worſhip, but I'll do my beſt.
Ye good men and wives,
Who have lov'd all your lives,
And whoſe Wows have at no time been ſhaken,
Now come and draw near,
With your conſciences clear,
And demand a huge Flitch of our Bacon!
Chorus. Ye good men, &c.
Since a year and a day
Have in love roll'd away,
And an oath of that love has been taken,
On the ſharp-pointed ſtones,
With your bare marrow-bones,
You have won our fam'd Priory Bacon.
Chorus. Since a year, &c.
The Throng dividing, Greville and Eliza advance, and kneeling, preſent the Certificate of their having taken the Oath required.
Juſt. Receive this benediction from a parent, who, tho' made miſerable himſelf, by the unhappy marriage of an only daughter, ſolemnly calls heaven to witneſs, that he wiſhes every returning year may heap freſh bleſſings on you both, for your unexampled affection.
Eliza. [Throwing off her Veil.] A father's bleſſing cannot be recalled; 'tis regiſter'd in heaven!
Tip. [Starting.] By the law, and ſo it is! [Looking more inquiſitively.] Miſs Eliza!—or—or—may I never ſtick a fork into bacon again!
[Page 25] Juſt. I cannot bear it—let me go.
Tip. You muſt bear it, and you can't go;—ſo—ſo—ſtay, your worſhip, and do your duty, or we muſt make you!
Juſt. My loſt Eliza! and can'ſt thou call upon heaven to atteſt thy nuptial happineſs?
Eliza. I have proved it, Sir, by the moſt ſolemn of all appeals; nor would it raiſe your admiration a moment, if you knew the man, for whoſe love I renounced, for a time, the protection of ſo indulgent a parent.
Juſt. Heavens! is it poſſible!
Grev. As our mutual attachment qualified us in every reſpect for the matrimonial prize of Dunmow Priory, we flattered ourſelves, that when our claim was admitted, we might plead it in extenuation of our error, and hope for your forgiveneſs.
Juſt. To with-hold my pardon and conſent now, would be an offence to heaven.
Tip. Ay; and a curs'd offence too! let me tell you that.
Juſt. Take then my warmeſt bleſſing, my children, as a ſmall return for the unexpected happineſs you have given me.—But yonder I ſee your uncle, the Major, at his garden-gate; run to him, Tipple; tell him the news, and bid him come immediately, and partake of our felicity.
Tip. I will.—Mercy on us! wonders will never ceaſe in our hamlet.
Juſt. But how dexterouſly, you little rogues, you contrived this buſineſs; to execute it thus without giving us even the leaſt ground for ſuſpicion!
Grev. The thought originated with our boſom friend there in maſquerade, whom, I beg leave to introduce to you, as a man who is an honour to his profeſſion.
[Page 26] Juſt. A good ſoldier is an honour to mankind!—I ſhall be proud of his acquaintance, and happy to repay the ſervices he has done us all. [Taking Wilſon by the Hand.
Wil. The joy of ſeeing my brother ſoldier and his Eliza happy in your forgiveneſs, has already repaid me.
Maj. [Speaking behind.] I ſay, you jackanapes, I will not forgive her; hold your tongue!—And my brother Benbow is a weak, ſhallow-pated old fool, to forgive ſuch a little wanton huſſey.— [Coming forward with Tipple.]—Where is this Madam Hot-upon't? Let me only juſt ſee if ſhe dare look me in the face—
Eliza. That ſhe dare, Sir; and hope you'll like my face now, as well as you did ſometime ago.
Maj. [Diſcovering her.] Why, what the devil's here!—A mine ſprung?—All blown up, damme!
Wil. Would your honour be pleas'd to back our beating orders?
Maj. A pretty manoeuvre, for an old ſoldier to tumble into ſuch a damn'd ambuſcade as this!— [Aſide.]—but as for you, dog, you deſerve to be drum'd out of the regiment.
Juſt. What is all this about, brother? Why you ſeem ſhy of our loſt ſheep.
Eliza. Oh! dear Sir! my uncle has only choſe to be facetious with you all this time, for we have had a long tête-à-tête together this morning, before I had the pleaſure of ſeeing you; and he was ſo delighted with my return, that I thought he would would have devoured me alive.
Tip. He has the devil of a ſtomach ſure enough!
[Major makes Signs to her to prevent a Diſcovery.
Eliza. You were preſent, Captain Wilſon!
[Page 27] Wil. Oh! I never ſaw any one half ſo fond and affectionate in the whole courſe of my life.—You had better ſtrike your colours, old governor, if you mean to retain the honours of war. [To the Major.
Maj. Quarter, quarter!—I ſurrender at diſcretion. [Aſide to him.
Juſt. Give me your hand, brother; and you really rejoice with me at this event?
Maj. Oh, prodigiouſly!—Its a very happy day's work for us all! [Ironically.
Juſt. Come, then, you Major ſhall be gentleman uſher, and conduct the bride to the hall.
Maj. By all means— [Taking her Hand.] Oh, you little water-wagtail. [To Eliza.
Tip. I have not head enough at this time to underſtand all this: but as it means happineſs and feli—li—city,—why I—I—rejoice in my ignorance.
Juſt. Right, Tipple.—Come, my friends and neighbours, you muſt likewiſe attend us to the Priory, where with mirth and feſtivity you ſhall celebrate with me the unexpected felicity of this day.
Ladies, would you taſte Love's Bacon,
But one way you'll ever find;
Let the ſolemn vow you've taken
With the body—tie the mind!
Mark but this, and we'll enſure ye
To be ever bleſt, and wiſe;
'Tis the charm that will ſecure ye
DUNMOW'S matrimonial prize.
CHORUS. Mark but, &c.
And ye men, when you are yoking,
Scorn to trap our ſex by art;
Nought to woman's ſo provoking,
As a hand—without a heart!
[Page 28]
Mark but this, and we'll enſure ye
To be ever bleſt, and wiſe;—
'Tis the charm that will ſecure ye
DUNMOW's matrimonial prize!
[...]eſe lines being a kind of parody on thoſe of the old [...] ſame irregularity of meaſure was obliged to be pre [...]