R. B. Sheridan, School for Scandal (Premiered 8 May 1777).

Prologue, A Portrait: addressed to Mrs Crewe: “…Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal’s school, / Who rail by precept, and detract by rule, / Lives there no character, so tried, so known, / So deck’d with grace and so unlike your own, / That even you assist her fame to raise, / Approve by envy, and by silence praise!– / Attend! – a model shall attract your view … &c.’ / Ye matrons … whose practised memories, cruelly exact, / Omit no circumstance, except the fact!’ [Introduced Amoret – ‘my model, CREWE’].

I.1: Lady Sneer, Snake, Joseph Surface, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mrs Candour, and Maria; ‘She wants that delicacy of tint and mellowness of sneer which distinguishes your ladyship’s scandal.’

‘O Lud! you are going to be moral, and forget that you are among friends.’

‘That fellow hasn’t virtue enough to be faithful even to his own villain.’

‘His conversation is a perpetual slander on all his acquaintance.’

[Backbite on his yet unwritten works of genius}: ‘Yes, Madam, I think you will like them, when you shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin. Fore Gad, they will be the most elegant things of their kind!’

‘There is a sort of puny, sickly reputation that is always ailing, but yet will outlive the robuster character of a hundred prudes.’

I.2: Sir Peter Teazle and Rowley, discussing the return of Sir Oliver Surface from India, and his proposed testing of his sons, the profligate Charles and the hypocritical Joseph. ‘Tis now six months since Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men – and I have been the most miserable dog ever since!’ NOTE the witty monologue as scene opener: ‘… paragraphed in the newspapers …’ - ‘he means to make some trial of their dispositions.’

II.1: Marital disharmony between the Teazles: “wife … widow”

‘… with what a charming air she contradictios everything I say … though I can’t make her love me, there is great satisfaction in quarreling with her …’

II.2: ‘tis not that she paints so ill – but when she has finished her face, she joins it so badly to her neck that she looks like a mended statue in which the connessieur sees at once that the head’s modern, though the trunk’s antique.’

‘a character dead at every word, I suppose.’ [Teazle, aside]

‘a woman labours under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl at six–and–thirty.’

[Exchange between Joseph S. and Maria where she argues against the malice of his set that ‘If to raise malicious smiles at the infirmities or misfortunes of [other] be the province of wit or humour, Heaven grant me a double portion of dulness!’

[Joseph rejoins:] ‘But can you … feel thus for othrs, and be unkind to me alone. Is hope to be denied the tenderest passion?’

II.3[Rowley and Sir Oliver; later, Sir Peter Teazle.]

‘Ah sir, it gives me life to find that your heart is not turned against him …’

‘if he salutes me with a scrap of morality in his mouth, I shall be sick directly.’

III.1: Sir Peter, Sir Oliver, Rowley, and a ‘good’ Jew, Moses

III.2: THE TEST: ‘Why sir, this Mr Stanley … near related to them by their mother … was a merchant in Dublin, but has been ruined by a series of undeserved misfortunes …’

‘an annuity, ha! ha! A footman raise money by way of an annuity! Well done, luxury, egad!’

III.3: [Noll visits the younger brother masquerading as the Jew]

‘But the bond you mention [Sir Oliver dying and leaving his estate to Charles] happens to be just the worst security you could offer me – for I might live to a hundred, and never see the principal.’

‘… sell your forefathers, would you?’

‘Every man of them to the best bidder.’

IV.1: [Set in the gallery] ‘No hang it

I’ll not part with poor Noll. The old fellow has been very good to me, and, egad, I’ll keep his picture while I’ve a room to put it in.’ ‘The rogue’s my nephew after all!’ And later in the scene, ‘… a dear extravagant rogue.’

‘My distresses are so many I can’t afford to part with my spirits.’

IV.2: ‘He would not sell my picture.’ [Noll plans to visit the elder brother as old Stanley.]

IV.3: [Joseph and Lady Teazle;] ‘consciousness of innocence … is of the greatest prejudice to you. … Your character at present is like a person in a plethora, absolutely dying of too much health.’ [Sir Peter Teazle enters. Lady Teazle goes behind screen. Joseph plays the hypocrite]

‘What noble sentiments!’

[Charles suspected of cuckolding Teazle, who confides in Joseph:] ‘the town would only laugh at me, the foolish old bachelor, who had married a girl.’

‘a French milliner’

‘He [Joseph] is a man of sentiment. There is nothing in the world so noble as a man of sentiment!’

‘smartest French milliner I ever saw!’

Lady Teazle: ‘I came … seduced by his insidious arguments, at least to listen to his pretended passion, if not to sacrific your [her husband’s] honour to his baseness’; ‘smooth–tongued hypocrite’.

V.1: [Sir Oliver visits as old Stanley, and Joseph pretends to have received from his stingy uncle on ‘avadavats and Indian crackers’].

[Joseph reflects:] ‘this is one bad effect of a good character; it invites application from the unfortunate … The silver ore of pure charity is an expensive article … whereas the sentimental French plate I use instead makes just as good a show, and pays no tax.’

V.2: [Candour, Backbite, Sneerwell all foregather at Teazle’s to scandal over Lady Teazle’s fall] ‘the ball struck a little bronze Shakespeare that stood over the fire –place, grazed out of the window at a right angle, and wounded the postman, who was just coming to the door with a double letter from Northamptonshire.’

‘Fiends, vipers, furies!’ ‘the closet and the screen’ ‘Joseph and his sentiments … hypocritical villain.

‘Hold Master Rowley! if you have any regard for me never let me hear you utter anything like a sentiment. I have had enough of thm to serve me the rst of my life.’

V.3: [Lady Sneer:] ‘I hate such an avarice of crimes; tis an unfair monopoly and never prosper.’

‘I confess I deviated from the direct road of wrong’ Joseph becomes at this stage an out and out villain, competing with his ‘confederate in evil.’

[Joseph reveals Lady Sneerwell, the author of the forged letter from Charles to her, hiding behind the door:] ‘Another French milliner! Egad, he has one in every room of the house, I suppose.’

Snake requests that his good deed ‘never be known’.

SONG [of Sir Harry Bumper]: ‘Here’s to the maiden of bashful fifteen; / Here’s to the widow of fifty; / Here’s to the flaunting extravagant quean,/ and Here’s to the housewife, that’s thrifty. / Chorus: Let the toast pass,– / Drink to the lass, / I’ll warrant she’ll prove an excuse for the glass. // Here’s to the charmer whose dimples we prize; / Now to the maid who has none, sir: / Here’s to the girl with a pair of blue eyes, / And here’s to the nymph with but one, sir / [Chorus]… … For let ’em be clumsy, or let ’em be slim / Young or ancient, I care not a feather; / So fill a pint bumper quite to the brim, / And let us ’em toast them together.’ [Chorus]

EPILOGUE, by George Colman, spoken in the character of Lady Teazle.

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