The Dramatist; or Stop Him Who Can! - A Comedy, in Five Acts
by Frederick Reynolds
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Vapid. Farcical!

Lady. Yes, sir, the farcical affair that happened at Mr Neville's.

Vapid. Farcical?—what, my epilogue, ma'am?—I hope you don't mean to reflect on that?

Lady. No, sir, far from it—I have no doubt but it is a very elegant composition.

Vapid. Doubt!—here it is, read it!—the very first production of the age! A regular climax of poetic beauty!—the last line the ne plus ultra of genius.

Lady. But, to be serious, Mr Vapid——

Vapid. Why, I am serious:—and I'll tell you, lady Waitfor't, 'tis the last line of an epilogue, and the last scene of a comedy, that always distracts me—'tis the reconciliation of lovers—there's the difficulty!—You find it so in real life, I dare say?

Lady. Yes.—But Mr Vapid, this affair concerns me excessively, and I wish to know what is to be done.

Vapid. I'll tell you,—write a play,—and, bad as it may possibly be, say it's a translation from the French, and interweave a few compliments on the English, and, my life on't, it does wonders.—Do it, and say you had the thought from me.

Lady. Sir, do you mean to deride me?

Vapid. No.—But only be cautious in your style—women are in general apt to indulge that pruriency and warm luxuriancy of fancy they possess,—but do be careful—be decent—if you are not, I have done with you.

Lady. Sir, I desire you'll be more respectful.—I don't understand it at all. [Rising.


Vapid. Then here comes one that will explain every thing.

"There's in her all that we believe of Heaven; Amazing brightness, purity, and truth, Eternal joy, and everlasting love!"

My dear sweet little partner, I rejoice to see you!

Mari. And, my dear sweet Mr Poet, I rejoice to see you!

Lady. Provoking!—Have I not told you a thousand times, never to break in upon me when I am alone?

Mari. Alone, my lady! do you call Mr Vapid nobody, then?

Lady. Suppose I should,—what is that to you?

Mari. Then I have a wrong notion of your nobodies.—I always thought them harmless, unmeaning things; but Mr Vapid's not so very harmless either—are you, Mr Vapid?

Vapid. Indeed, ma'am, I am not.

Mari. There now,—I told you so.—Upon my word, you rely too much on your time of life,—you do indeed. You think, because you're a little the worse for wear, you may trust yourself any where,—but you're mistaken—you're not near so bad as you imagine—nay, I don't flatter, do I, Mr Vapid?

Vapid. Indeed, ma'am, you do not.

Lady. Look ye, miss,—your insolence is not to be borne—you have been the chief cause of all my perplexities.

Mari. Nay, aunt, don't say that.

Lady. No matter,—your behaviour is shameless, and it is high time I exerted the authority of a relation—you are a disgrace to me—to yourself, and your friends—therefore, I am determined to put into execution a scheme I have long thought of.

Mari. What is it? something pleasant I hope.

Lady. No, you shall retire to a convent, till you take possession of your fortune.

Mari. A convent! Oh lord! I can't make up my mind to it, now don't, pray don't think of it—I declare it's quite shocking.

Lady. It is a far better place than you deserve; my resolution is fixed, and we shall see whether a life of solitude and austerity will not awaken some sense of shame in you.

Mari. Indeed, I can't bear the thoughts of it.—Oh do speak to her, Mr Vapid—tell her about the nasty monks, now do,—a convent! mercy! what a check to the passions! Oh! I can't bear it. [Weeping.

Vapid. Gad, here's a sudden touch of tragedy—pray, Lady Waitfor't, reflect—you can't send a lady to a convent when the theatres are open.

Mari. It will be the death of me! pray, my dear aunt——

Lady. Not a word—I am determined—to-morrow you shall leave this country, and then I have done with you for ever.

Mari. Oh! my poor heart! Oh, oh!

Vapid. See! she'll faint!

Mari. Oh! oh! oh! [MARIANNE faints in LADY WAITFOR'T'S Arms.

Lady. Oh! I have gone too far, Mr Vapid!

Vapid. I fly, I'll call the servants. Have you got any drops?

Lady. I have some drops in this closet may recover her—hold her a moment, and for heaven's sake take care of her. [Exit.

[MARIANNE lays in VAPID'S Arms.

Vapid. Here's a situation!—Poor girl!—how I pity her! I really loved her.

Mari. Did you really love me, Mr Vapid?

Vapid. Hey-day! recovered!—here's incident!

Mari. But did you really love me, Mr Vapid?

Vapid. Yes I did,—here's stage effect!

Mari. And would you have really run away with me, Mr Vapid?

Vapid. Yes, I really would.

Mari. Then come along this moment.

Vapid. Hush!—here's the old lady! keep dying, as before, and we'll effect the business—more equivoque!


Lady. Well, Mr Vapid, how does she do? lord! she's in strong convulsions.

Vapid. Yes, ma'am, she's dying; where are the drops?

Lady. Here, sir.

Vapid. There are very few—are there any more of the same kind?

Lady. Yes, plenty.

Vapid. Fetch them,—'tis the only hope—if you have any hartshorn too, bring a little of that.

Lady. I'm quite shocked! [Exit.

Mari. Well, Mr Vapid, now let's run away—come—why what are you thinking of?

Vapid. My last act, and I fear—

Mari. What do you fear?

Vapid. That it can't be managed—let me see—we certainly run away, and she returns—'faith, I must see her return.

Mari. No, no, pray let us begone, think of this another time.

Vapid. So I will—it will do for the fourth, though not for the fifth act,—therefore, my dear little girl, come away, and we'll live and die together.

Mari. Die together!

Vapid. Ay, "Die all! die nobly! die like demi-gods!" [Exeunt.


Lady. Here, Mr Vapid—here are the drops!—What, gone!—ruined by a writer of epilogues!—Oh! I shall burst with disappointment! [Exit.


Another Apartment in NEVILLE'S House—In the back Scene, Glass Doors, with Curtains.


Louisa. Still in the same house, yet still afraid to meet him! Oh, Neville! my superior in every thing; how can I hope for your forgiveness? while you revealed an affection it had done you credit to deny, I concealed a passion I might have been proud to confess.


Mari. Oh! Miss Courtney! my sweet Miss Courtney! Mr Vapid, here, has run away with me, and I am so frightened for fear of Lady Waitfor't.

Louisa. Yes, she may well alarm you,—she has destroyed my peace for ever! but have you seen Mr Neville? yet, why do I ask!

Vapid. Seen Mr Neville!—What, doesn't he yet know you are in his lodgings?

Louisa. No, and I hope never will—the moment his brother returns, I shall set out for my uncle's, and perhaps never see him more.

Vapid. And why not see him, ma'am?

Louisa. Because I cannot bear the sight of one I have so injured.

Vapid. This'll do—mutual equivoque! equal misunderstanding! my own case exactly!

Mari. Your own case! Lord! you base man, have you got a young lady in your lodgings?

Vapid. Ridiculous! don't talk about young ladies at such an awful—the very situation in my comedy! the last scene to a syllable!—here's an opportunity of improving the denouement!

Enter PETER.

Peter. Ma'am, my master is returned—the occasion of his delay has been a long interview with Mr Willoughby,—he doesn't know you are here.

Louisa. Marianne, excuse me—you'll be safe from Lady Waitfor't here—indeed I'm very ill.

Mari. Nay—where are you going?

Louisa. Alas! any where to avoid him—farewell! and may you enjoy that happiness I have for ever lost! [Exit.

Mari. Poor dear girl! I mustn't leave her thus—Mr Vapid, we won't run away till something is done for her.

Vapid. Go,—there's a good girl—follow her, and comfort her.

Mari. I will—Lord! if they must be happy in being friends again, what must I be who make them so! [Exit.

Vapid. The picture before me! all from nature,—I must heighten his distress, for contrast is every thing—Peter, not a word for your life.


Nev. Vapid, I am glad to see you—any letter from my brother? [To PETER.

Peter. None, sir.

Nev. Nor message?

Peter. No, sir.

Nev. Then I need doubt no longer—'tis evident he avoids me—cruel, ungenerous Floriville!— [Seats himself.

Vapid. [Leaning over his Chair.] Miss Courtney will never see you again.

Nev. I know it—too well I know it—that, and that alone, makes me determined to leave this country for ever.

Vapid. You are unhappy then?

Nev. Completely so.

Vapid. Then stop.—[Sits by him.] She was an angel, Harry.

Nev. Ay, a divinity!

Vapid. And then to lose her!

Nev. [Rising.] 'Sdeath!—don't torment me!—my griefs are already beyond bearing.

Vapid. It will do—he's as unhappy as I could wish.

Peter. I can hold no longer—sir!

Vapid. Hush!—you d—d dog, you'll ruin the catastrophe.

Peter. I don't care—I'll tell him every thing—sir!—Mr Neville!

Vapid. You villain!—Do you ever go to a play?—did you ever sit in the gallery?

Peter. Yes, sir, sometimes.

Vapid. Then know this is all for your good——you'll applaud it some day or other, you dog—curse it, won't he have happiness enough bye and bye?—-What—you are going abroad, Neville?

Nev. Yes, for ever.—Farewell, Vapid.

Vapid. Farewell, Neville—good night——Now for the effect!—Miss Courtney is in the next room.

Nev. What!

Vapid. Miss Courtney is in the next room.

Nev. Louisa! is it possible?

Vapid. There's light and shade!—Yes, your brother brought her here, and she expects him to return every moment.

Nev. My brother! then 'tis he means to marry her—nay, perhaps they are already married—Heavens! I shall go wild!

Vapid. Don't, don't go wild—that will ruin the denouement.

Nev. No matter—I am resolved—I'll bid her farewell for ever—Vapid, 'tis the last favour I shall ask of you—give her this, [A Letter.] and tell her, since I have resented Willoughby's attack on her honour, I think I may be allowed to vindicate my own; tell her, great as have been my faults, my truth has still been greater, and wherever I wander—

Vapid. Here's a flourish, now!—why you misunderstand—she is not married, nor going to be married.

Nev. Come, this is no time for raillery.

Vapid. Raillery!—why, I'm serious—serious as the fifth act—she is now weeping on your account.

Nev. Pr'ythee leave fooling, it will produce no effect, believe me.

Vapid. Won't it? it will produce a very great effect though, believe me. Zounds! go to her—preserve the unity of action,—marry her directly, and if the catastrophe does not conclude with spirit, damn my comedy—damn my comedy—that's all, damn my comedy.

Nev. 'Would to Heaven you were in earnest!

Vapid. Earnest! why there it is now! the women, dear creatures, are always ready enough to produce effect—but the men are so curst undramatic.—Go to her, I tell you, go to her. [Exit NEVILLE.—VAPID stands aside.


Lord. That curst dramatic maniac,—if I see him again——

Flor. My dear uncle, consent to Harry's marriage, and depend on it he shall trouble you no more.

Lord. I tell you again, sir, I will not.

Flor. Will you give any hopes of future consent?

Lord. By the word of a peer, I will not.

[VAPID, coming forward, touching LORD SCRATCH on the Shoulder, and writing in common-place book.

Vapid. Master Brook, let me persuade you.

Lord. Flames and firebrands, the fiend again!

Vapid. Give consent, and I'll give Neville a fortune—he shall have the entire profit of the different plays in which I intend to have the honour of introducing yourself and the old Lady Hurlothrumbo.

Lord. Oh, that I was not a peer! if I was any thing else—but, thank Heaven, Louisa is more averse to the match than myself.

Vapid. Is she?

Lord. Yes, she knows his falsehood, and despises him.

Vapid. What, you are confident of it?

Lord. Out of my way, sir,—I'll not answer you,—I'll go take her to town directly.—Out of my way, sir.

Vapid. Stop—you're wrong, Master Brook—she's in that room.

Lord. Where?—behind me?

Vapid. Yes—there—there! [Pointing.] Now for it!—what an effect!

[LORD S. opens the Glass Doors, and discovers NEVILLE kneeling to LOUISA. MARIANNE with them.

Vapid. There, Peter! there's catastrophe!—Shakspeare's invention nothing!—Applaud it, you dog—clap, clap, Peter, clap!

Lord. What are you at, you impudent rascal?—get out of the room. [Exit PETER.

Vapid. I should set this down—I may forget.

Mari. Lord! he has a very bad memory,—I hope he won't forget our marriage.

Nev. Oh! Louisa, what am I to think?

Louisa. That I have wronged thee, Neville! [Embracing.

Flor. My dear Harry, let this be my apology for not having seen you before. [Giving him a Paper.] Miss Courtney, ten thousand joys;—could I have found my brother, you should have seen him sooner.

Nev. Why, here is a deed of gift of half your estate!

Flor. I know it, but say nothing. When you gave me money, five years ago, did I say any thing?—no, I forgot it as soon as it was over; and should never have recollected, at this moment, but for my lord's inhumanity.—Uncle, I thank you,—you have made me the happiest man alive.

Lord. Don't perplex me;—what a compound of folly and generosity!

Mari. Uncle-in-law, what are your feelings on this occasion?—as my aunt says.

Lord. Feelings!—I never knew a peer had any.

Mari. Didn't you?

Lord. No; but now I find the contrary: I begin to think I've a heart like other men. It's better to atone for an error, than persist in one—therefore give me that deed, Neville——there, sir, [Giving it to FLORIVILLE.] do you think nobody has estates but yourself?—Louisa and her fortune are your own, Neville; and after my death, you shall have all mine:—and now there's a cursed burden off my mind.

Mari. Now, you're a dear creature! and I won't marry,—that's what I won't, without consulting you.

Lord. You marry! why, who should you marry?—And pray, how came you here?

Mari. A gentleman run away with me;—he is now in the room.

Lord. In the room! what, Floriville?

Mari. No, behind you. [Pointing to VAPID, who is writing at a Table.

Lord. Ghosts and spectres! my evil genius!

Mari. Come, my dear, haven't you almost finished? [VAPID rises.

Vapid. Yes, the denouement is complete, and now, Mrs Vapid, I resign myself to love and you.

Mari. Come, give consent, my lord,—my husband will get money, though I have none.

Lord. None!—I dare say he can tell you, you will have twelve thousand pounds in less than a year.

Vapid. That's a new incident!

Mari. Shall I? then 'faith, Mr Vapid, we'll build a theatre of our own! you shall write plays, and I'll act them.

Enter ENNUI.

Ennui. I've an idea—I give you joy, Neville.—I mean to kill time, by living single; and, therefore, I hope, the lady and the borough may be yours.

Mari. Mr Ennui, I hope you'll forgive me, and Sir Harry Hustle, the fatigue we occasioned you?

Ennui. Yaw, aw—don't mention it.—The very recollection makes me faint.—In fact—my lord, I just met one of Lady Waitfor't's servants, who tells me she has left Bath in a rage.

Flor. I am afraid she has escaped too easily.

Lord. Oh, never think of her! I can answer for her punishment being adequate to her crimes—Willoughby has told me all her schemes,—and if ever I hear her name again, may I lose my peerage, and dress like a gentleman.

Ennui. My lord—I've an idea—

Vapid. Sir, I beg your pardon; but really, if you have an idea, I will trouble you to spare it me for my comedy.

Ennui. In fact—I don't comprehend. I have read your "die-all" epilogue, and—

Vapid. Oh, then I don't wonder at your having ideas!

Lord. Oh, poor fellow! he's always talking about what he never has.—Neville, my boy, may you be as happy as I am.

Flor. Ay, I'll answer for his happiness by my own.—Miss Courtney, notwithstanding my brother, I will "still live in your eye,—die in your lap—and be buried in your heart:" and, moreover, I will stay with you both in England.

Louisa. Yes, Floriville, if you would behold pure, unsullied love, never travel out of this country. Depend on't,

No foreign climes such high examples prove, Of wedded pleasure, or connubial love. Long in this land have joys domestic grown, Nursed in the cottage—cherish'd on the throne.




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Transcriber's note:

The following typographical errors present in the original edition have been corrected.

In Act I, Scene I, a missing question mark was added after "Has he not a share of vanity in his composition".

In Act IV, Scene I, "Willoughby." was added before the lines beginning "'Tis past the hour" and "Ha! gone,—I am sorry for it".

In Act IV, Scene II, "Peter." was added before the line beginning "Vapid presents his compliments"; the line "Here's something wanting, sir.", which was originally formatted as a stage direction, has been reformatted as dialogue; a missing quotation mark was inserted before the words "Die all" in the line "in the middle of my composition?—Die all, die nobly"; and missing brackets were added before the stage directions beginning "As he is going to sign" and the final "Exeunt".

In Act V, Scene II, "Vapid." was added before the line beginning "Here's a situation!"

In the advertisements, a missing comma was added after "West Indian".


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