Nobody: A Comedy in Two Acts

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TEI

Nobody.
a
Comedy~
in
Two Acts. [1] 

Page 0

Sir,

This Comedy, called Nobody, is designed, with the Permission of The Marquis of Salisbury, [2]  to be acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.

I am, Sir, your most obedient,
and most humble Servant –.

J. P. Kemble. [3] 

Prologue to Nobody.  [4] 

Page 1

The Storm that sweeps the Tow’ring mountain’s head,
Spares the low Tenant of the clay-built Shed;
While his meek Offspring, hid from ev’ry Eye,
Shrinks, as the howling tempest passes by;
Creeps to his Parents’ fostring arms, and steals,
The only warmth, the little Trembler feels;
Warmth that can more than mortal bliss impart,
The glow of kindness, – in the feeling Heart!
So, in these busy, these disastrous times,
When fateful Thunders roll, o’er distant climes,
To you for shelter flies, o’erwhelm’d with fear,
An humble fugitive, – once favour’d here; [5] 
With fond remembrance charm’d, again she tries,
To paint the living manners as they rise; [6] 
To deprecate, by Zeal, the frown severe
Whatever reigns abroad – let peace be here!
At Nobody we level Satire’s thorn,
We trust, such characters, are yet unborn;
No Pencil Traits; – we mark, the broader line,
Hogarth may please, – tho’ Reynolds is divine! [7] 
Alone our author comes; no master’s Aid
Has touch’d the light, or Harmoniz’d the Shade.
Authors are poor; no happy hours have they,
No Golden stores, to gild their toilsome day;

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They live unheeded; yet when sunk in dust,
Envy will die; and memory be just!
And hope, while living, chears the favour’d few,
Warms their sad hearts, and bids them turn to you.
Where shou’d a timid trembler hope to find
A Judge so lenient, – as a feeling mind?
Here Justice sits, by native freedom drest,
Thron’d on the bulwark of each Briton’s breast.
And you, ye lovely polish’d, gentle race;
Whose charms are rival’d, by your mental grace,
Ye whose bright eyes, with tears of pity glow,
To bathe the Widows, and the Orphan’s woe!
Who weeping, decorate the Soldier’s grave,
And bind, with deathless wreaths, the Godlike brave.
When Satire shews the portraits, fancy drew,
Sure Nobody will say, they’re meant for you.
Nobody frowns! there’s nobody severe!
None but our Author now, has cause to fear,
If she is wrong, ’tis but a venial crime;
She only apes, the follies of the Time.
I am her pleader, let her not be cast,
For if she’s damn’d, this Night will be her last.

Page 3

Dramatis Personæ.

  • Sir Henry Rightly (a Banker)
  • Sharply
  • Lord Courtland.
  • Thomas (an old Butler)
  • Servants.


  • Nelly Primrose (a West Country [8]  Girl)
  • Lady Languid
  • Lady Rouleau [9] 
  • Lady Farrow [10] 
  • Lady Squander
  • Miss Cassino [11] 
  • Mrs. Goodly.
Page 4

Act 1st Scene 1st
A Servants Hall at Lady Languids

Enter Mrs. Goodly & Thomas.
Mrs. Good.
How often must I tell you, Mr. Thomas that my Lady is Deaf to complaints of every kind, Women of her consequence have other things to mind besides listning to other Peoples Vexations: the smallest Surprize that attacks my Lady’s Nerves unhinges the whole System.
Thos.
I know well enough Mrs.Goodly, that all System is unhinged in this Family, we scarcely see the Sun from November to February, we rise at noon, and go to bed at Day break. My Lady has kill’d three waiting women already, and the fourth is now upon Trial.
Mrs. G.
Poor young Thing! I griev’d last night when she arriv’d. The Roses on her face will not retain their places long, unless their Possessor resigns – Mercy on us, what devastation does fashion make in the fair Garden of nature. But this simple Maiden comes recommended by my Ladys Maiden Aunt in the Country and will perhaps on that account meet with some indulgence tho’ I dread the Effect her rustic Manners will have
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on the refinement of my Lady.
Thos.
’Twas not so in my Lords time; He knew that Virtue gave Lustre to the Highest rank! But since my Lady has been a Widow—
Mrs. G.
She won’t remain one long, I assure ye; she means to marry immediately
Thos.
Sir Henry Rightly the rich Banker in the City, I know he was in Love with my Lady before she was married to Lord Languid.
Mrs. G.
You are mistaken, Mr. Sharply is the object of her Choice – and the worthy Baronet is rejected, She calls him nothing but the City Cynic, I had great mind to tell her Ladyship the other Morning that the Tinsel of Fashion would not pass current unless ’twere mix’t with that sterling gold Integrity which is generally to be found in the breast of an English Citizen. But time is the best Physician in some Cases, and to time I leave her. (Exit Thos.)
Here comes my Simple Girl.
Enter Nelly.
Nelly.
When shall us Dine? I be monstrous hungry.
Mrs. G.
Dine Child! why my Lady has not yet had her Breakfast and till her Bell Rings, I’ll give you some Instructions how
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to behave in her presence. You must put your best face on.
Nelly.
Why this be my best – I ha’ got no other, won’t it do.
Mrs. G.
Alack-a-day [12]  I fear ’twill soon be spoilt in London.
Nelly.
Why lord bless ye, you do know nothing about it – No matter what be done to un – I do wash un wi Soap & Suds every Morning, and a looks as good as new.
Mrs. G.
Very likely; but your face won’t last forever.
Nelly.
Ifecks [13]  it has lasted a good bit, for father always did say ’twas Grandmothers own face, and she ha been dead these 50 years.
Mrs. G.
Now be Serious.
Nelly.
There, I be – this be the way I look when I do hear a Sarmant. [14] 
Mrs. G.
What is your name, Child?
Nelly.
Nelly Primrose at your Service
Mrs. G.
Nelly, or Mrs. Primrose – Every body is Mrs in this family. [15] 
Nelly.
No sure! Efecks I be glad o’ that.
Mrs. G.
Now Mrs. Nelly – I must give you a little good advice[.] it will be of Service to you
Nelly.
No sure! Why then the more the better, One can’t have too much of a good thing.
Mrs. G.
You must know this is a very dangerous place for a Young Woman.
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Nelly.
Don’t e [16]  say so.
Mrs. G.
You must take care of [17]  the Men
Nelly.
O’ I bean’t afeard [18]  o’they.
Mrs. G.
You will find nothing here but falsehood, flattery[,] wickedness, and dissimulation, if you escape, [19]  it will be a Miracle
Nelly.
Let me go home again. I won’t tarry – I be afeard
Mrs. G.
All the fellows will be in Love with you, and dying for you.
Nelly.
Don’t e tell me so! why then I’ll stay by Jingo: Be they all a Dying for you too, Mrs. Goodly? Ecod [20]  I thought there was a Summat [21]  in’t, for as I com’d by the Footmans Pantry, I did hear un say that you was a bitter soul and refus’d un Every thing.
Mrs. G.
They are a parcel of Story-tellers.
Nelly.
Why then you did n’t refuse un any thing efecks I thought you did n’t look like such a body: but if they do say such things of such an Old Woman, what will they say of I.
Mrs. Good.
You must keep the footmen at a very great distance
Nelly.
What quite out o’ sight; I shall be unkid [22]  alone.
Mrs. G.
You must remember three things upon which your
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happiness depends –
Nelly.
Won’t one do? I ha got but an Addled brain, an I be mazed [23]  when I be put upon. They us’d for to say down a long, [24]  that I was beside myself. [25]  But let’s hear un, I’ll do my Endeavours.
Mrs. G.
You must never contradict my Lady, never answer her Ladyship, or repeat any thing she says.
Nelly.
Is there any thing more?
Mrs. G.
Now you must see my Ladys Breakfast properly set out with Tea – Plovers Eggs – Cold Ham – Potted Wheatears [26]  – Muffins – New Butter – Dry Toast – and the News papers.
Nelly.
Efecks she do like junketing! [27]  I suppose that serves for Breakfast and Dinner too? Be I to have the same?
Mrs. G.
No such thing – My Lady dines at 7 – Now to Business[.] Mind the Fellows, Mrs. Nelly.
Nelly.
I’ll warrant! let me alone for that.
Exeunt.
_____________________________________________________________________

Scene 2d. the Street.

Enter Lord Courtland meeting Sharply.
Lord C.
What Course art thou Steering, Sharply – to the Temple of Plutus, [28]  or the Shrine of Beauty?
Sharp.
You mean my Bankers & Lady Languids. The former
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is a comical Old Quiz, [29]  and won’t give me tick for a Rouleau, [30]  but the divine Languid, the liveliest of Creatures! Love beams in her smiles. Honey dwells upon her Lips! Ten thousand Cupids hover round her! By Jove her Eyes are Saphire! her Cheeks two blushing Roses – I’ve given up little Cassino entirely – no, no, the Widows the neat thing! but I am struck when ever I see her, Mute as a Statue! perfectly choak’d with Admiration – I can’t Exist without her – tho’ I know she hates me – Queer enough that.
Ld C.
I am glad to hear he has given up little Cassino. however
(Aside)
Come come Sharply, this is like an old Coquet who talks of what she has been – only to be told she is handsomer than ever. I saw you both last night at the Opera, She had no Eyes for Hilligsberg [31]  – No Ears for Banti [32]  She was the Figure in a Dutch Clock [33]  – perpetually turning her head from you to the Stage, & from the Stage to you thus.
Sharp.
Poor thing, I remark’d it, and for that Reason did not Visit her box [34]  – She look’d like a Goddess! She is the Aurora [35]  of the Western Hemisphere, and I am the Sun Flower that always turns towards her.
Lord C.
Ha! ha! thou art more frantic than ever! But have you no fears respecting a Rival! theres some danger.
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Sharp.
That’s odd! Sir Harry Rightly. O don’t fear a legion, no, She has too much Taste not to give me the preference. Sir Harry only wants her fortune – Lucre! damn’d dirty Lucre. Nothing Else – She needs no gold to make me love her, “She is cover’d with budding Beauties” [36]  You’ll come to our wedding[.] Mean to have it in Stile – Drolle Business.
Lord C.
You could not be more triste [37]  – if you were inviting me to your Funeral! Take Courage, Matrimony is but a trial.
Sharp.
But then tis a Trial for Life, and a damn’d serious thing.
Lord C.
Not a Murmur, or by Jupiter [38]  I’ll turn Evidence, and her hand shall be the reward of my treachery. She has long evinc’d a predelection in my favour, and had she not ruin’d herself by play. –
Sharp.
Done up! Oh! damme twon’t do – I’m off.
(Aside)
What then she’s Dish’d compleatly, [39]  Eh! thats comical Enough.
Ld C.
Compleatly so – She has rais’d Money till nobody will lend – Neither is she so Beautiful as the world calls her.
Sharp.
Egad I don’t think she is – How shall I be off handsomely
(Aside)
So then my lord, She is fond of you, Eh! faith drole enough! Curse me if I’ll have any thing to say to her, I resign her most willingly.
Page 11

Lord C.
What with all her store of Saphires – Roses – Honey and Cupids, Your Goddess, Your Western Aurora?
Sharp.
All! All, take ’em all together.
Lord C.
Consider her budding Beauties
Sharp.
I’ll leave you the budding Beauties, I’ve done with her
Lord C.
What because she loves thy Friend? O Antidiluvian[.] [40]  besides – you can’t Exist without her.
Sharp.
Then I’ll hang myself – Any Noose but the Matrimonial one. It won’t do – I’m not up to it.
Lord C.
It grows late – May I leave my name at Lady Languids
Sharp.
O leave it where you please, tis of no consequence[.] What an Escape have I had.
Exit
Lord C.
What a stupid Coxcomb it is.
Exit.
_____________________________________________________________________

Scene 3d. a Dressing Room.

Lady LanguidNelly waiting. at Breakfast.
Lady L.
Primrose is Breakfast ready?
Nelly.
(points)
Lady L.
What is the hour Child.
Nelly.
(brings a Watch)
Lady L.
Certainly the Girl is dumb – Give me that News Paper.
Page 12

Nelly.
(brings the Paper)
Lady L.
“Poets Corner” [41]  – What have we here.

(Reads)
Pray tell me what is this ye Scholars
A Thing made up of Boots & Collars;
With face of Woman, Voice of Man
With Body shorter than a Span [42] 
A Neck wrapp’d round with large Cravat
A Drummers Braid, [43]  a Beaver Hat. [44] 
Cheeks like red Wafers, puffing, blowing
Words stole from Phrases – vastly knowing
For such a one – not long ago
I met full speed in rotten row [45] 
And thought the thing was so uncommon
I knew not if ’twere Man or Woman.

 [46] 
Nelly.
Ha! ha! ha!
Lady L.
Impertinence and Envy, but the Vulgar live upon the follies of the fashionable World.
Nelly.
Efecks! they have a plenty then.
Lady L.
My Spirits are so fatigu’d that I can scarcely Speak. Give me the Sal Volatile. [47] 
Nelly.
Sal. who my Lady.
Lady L.
That small bottle which lays on the Table
Nelly.
I did not know bottles had Christian names before.
(Aside
Lady L.
Now I think if I had Music I cou’d Sleep –
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I am faint for want of rest. Primrose can you play on any Musical Instrument?
Nelly.
Yes, my Lady, I be famous in our parts
Lady L.
Indeed! I shou’d like to hear you.
Nelly.
(Plays)
Lady L.
Why Child what have you there?
Nelly.
A Jew’s Harp, [48]  my Lady, I us’d to twang un in the church Porch [49]  by Moonlight to make the Old Saxon [50]  frightful; for a us’d for to think ’twas [51]  his Sweetheart, that dy’d of Quince in her throat [52]  one day, and so she did haunt the Old Porch o’ Midsummer Eve, because a was falsehearted. [53] 
Lady L.
How cou’d the Porch be falsehearted, Child? [54] 
Nelly.
Because if a hadn’t Ould Scratch wou’d ha fetch’d un – as a did Doctor Foster! [55]  Oh!
Lady L.
You shou’d be charitable Primrose
Nelly.
Why so I be, my Lady, Many’s the time I ha slid a Penny into the Poors Box, [56]  when Gentlefolks ha slunk by and giv’d nothing; tho’ ’twas cover’d with Cobwebs, and I be mortal fear’d [57]  o’ Spiders.
Lady L.
Canst thou sing Primrose
Nelly.
A little my Lady – Williams Ghost – there was a Lady all Skin & Bone – Death & the Lady [58] 
Page 14

Lady L.
Frightful! Cans’t thou sing nothing less horrible?
Nelly.
Yes, my Lady, Barbara Allen [59] 
(Sings)
Lady L.
Vastly well indeed! Now bring my Harp, there it is. Well, are you coming?
Nelly.
I be looking a’ter the Fiddlestick, [60]  my Lady.
Lady L.
Let it alone – you’ll only do mischief. Let me hear the News – I can’t read. –
Nelly.
Why don’t ye larn then, I did use to see in my good book.
When House & Land be gone & Spent
Then larning is most Excellent. [61] 

Must I read un thro’ and thro?
Lady L.
Begin with the Play.
Nelly.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane – Just imported a large Quantity of Excellent Spirits – A certain Lady of the Beau Monde – Stray’d from a Field near Hackney [62]  – with Twelve waggon Loads of Flannel Shirts – for our gallant Troops on the Continent (I hope they’ll arrive safe with all my Soul) At Mrs. Cassino’s last Ball – no one was more Admir’d for Beauty – than the Arabian Savage & the Kangaroos – The best Concert this year was perform’d by the Brunswick & the Vengeur [63]  (I suppose that was a French Tune) The Piece concluded with Rule Britania – Gone Off, a large quantity of Indian Crackers [64]  – “whoever will bring them back? [65] 
Page 15

Lady.
What art thou reading.
Nelly.
The lovely Lady Languid is remarkable for a large quantity of Pearl, Powder, French Rouge, Shaving Soap – Blacking [66] 
Lady.
Put down the Paper, and give me some Tea. –
Nelly.
Why do I read un straight acros, and not miss a word.
Lady.
Oh Essence! [67]  destruction to my Nerves! tis Poison
Enter Mrs. Goodly.
Mrs. G.
Heavens! my Lady, whats the matter.
Lady L.
This awkward Girl has kill’d me.
Nelly.
I han’t a budg’d! I han’t a touch’d her. I be poison’d as well as she, for I drink’d some too.
Lady.
The Tea she gave me, was Essence, & and you know Goodly my appetite is so delicate – Give me a Slice of Ham.
(Nelly cuts some)
Lady.
Whats this?
Nelly.
A Slice of Ham, & as nice a kissing Crust [68]  as ever was cut off a Loaf.
Lady.
Take it away.
Nelly.
Better late than never – ’tis an ill wind that blows no-body good [69]  – I shou’d have giv’d up the Ghost in the twinkling of an Eye. [70] 
(Exit Mrs. Goodly)
Page 16

Lady.
Primrose! I’m at home
Nelly.
Yes, my Lady, I see you be.
Lady.
I see Company.
Nelly.
Where my Lady?
Lady.
Here, in my Dressing Room
Nelly.
Don’t ye say so – be they Spirits – I be afeard to Budge Sure she be craz’d! Why you do look as pale as a Ghost.
Lady.
I dare say I do – bring some rouge there it lays.
(Nelly brings the Rouge)
Lady.
Now Child, put some on.
Nelly.
Not for the Varsal World [71]  – I can’t abide it – I shou’d seem like Isabel, that one do read on, in the good Book[.] [72]  Did your Ladyship never read of the painted Isabel [73]  – Oh! ’tis wicked to spoil natures Works – I han’t a got no notion on’t.
Lady L.
Put some on my Face.
Nelly.
Where shall I begin, my Lady? If I do put a little all over your Face! ’twill be more like mine. [74] 
(Paints)
Lady.
Play! destructive Play! [75]  perpetual Losses, & no rest have destroy’d me!
Nelly.
No wonder you do look so glum – I do wish you wou’d be a little more Gamesomer. [76]  I do love People that
Page 17

be funny – and do hate to see folks in the Dumps [77] 
Lady.
Give me a Glass
Nelly.
A Wine Glass, or a Beer Glass
Lady.
A Pocket Glass.
Nelly.
This be the only one I see – tis too cumbersome I be afeard, for your Pocket, my Lady
Lady.
A Mirror Ignoramus
Nelly Rings – Enter John
Nelly.
O Mr. John! My Lady wants a Mirror Ignoramus. [78] 
Exit John laughing.
Lady.
I shall lose all patience, Surely my Aunt was raving when she prais’d this Girl for Gentleness and Simplicity! I am quite exhausted, faint with the irritations of the Morning – Oh!
Nelly.
Perhaps you be hungry, my Lady.
Lady.
Oh! Nature! why did’st thou create me so delicate a Creature? Had I been form’d of Vulgar Clay I might have borne the frowns of Fortune with plebean Apathy but now I am the Sport of Every Eye!
Nelly.
No wonder I’m sure.
Lady.
And like a Lilly Vanquish’d by the Storm, shall fade before my prime.
Page 18

Nelly.
You must make haste then.
Lady.
Alack! alack! that heaven shou’d practice Stratagems upon so soft a Subject as myself, Primrose, bring my Boots.
Nelly.
Your what my Lady.
Lady.
My Boots
Nelly.
Wou’d your Ladyship chose Spurs too [79]  – Where shall I find ’em.
Lady.
Bring the first pair you see. (Exit Nelly) This it is to be the Slave of Fashion! Our Equals laugh at us – Our Inferiors don’t understand us[.] In short now-a-days, we are Nobody
Enter Nelly with Boots. & Spurs

Heavens! what are these.
Nelly.
Boots, my Lady, they be a little grim’d or so, but you did bid me bring the first pair I did light on; and here they be.
(a Knocking)
Lady.
I’m not at home. – I’m gone out
Nelly.
Now she be craz’d again.
Lady.
I can’t see any body.
Nelly.
What has blinded you my Lady?
Lady.
In this hideous Dress, I’m frightfull
Page 19

Nelly.
Yes indeed you be frightful, but you can’t help that[.] we don’t make ourselves; but if you’ve a mind to hide under yon Table we a Petticoate, I’ll stand afore ye and ecod, they shant lug ye out while I be there.
Enter John
John.
Lord Courtland and Mr. Sharply.
Exit.
Enter Ld. Courtland & Mr. Sharply
Lady. Lan.
I am delighted at all times to see my friends amus’d, tho’ I lament when good manners are Sacrific’d to Sarcastic pleasantry.
Lord C.
I beg your pardon Sincerely, Lady Languid, but the Grotesque Appearance of your Face.
Lady Lan.
Grotesque Appearance! Your Vivacity becomes ridiculous – I ask every rational Being, whether there is any thing Extraordinary in my looks considering
I am just risen after a Sleepless night.
Sharp.
Ha! ha! ha! devilish Comical Efaith! [80]  Never saw any thing more drole, allow me to convince you – Damme this will do! The Boots will do! How lucky!
(Aside)
Enter John
Lady.
Order my Curricle [81]  immediately.
(Exit John)
Page 20

Heavens! how unfortunate! but that horrid Creature Primrose
Nelly.
(hides)
Lord C.
Don’t be alarm’d Child: Her Ladyship is all good nature.
Nelly.
When your Honour
Lady.
(to Nelly)
Vanish
Nelly.
How my Lady
Lady.
Fly.
Nelly.
That I wool in the Waggon [82]  this very night; I be Scar’d out of my Seven Senses. [83] 
(Exit)
Lady.
I can’t talk, my Nerves won’t bear it.
Enter John
John.
Lady Rouleau and Miss Casino.
(Exit)
Enter Lady Rouleau in a Military Cap & Dress. and Miss Cassino in white)
Lady Rou.
Lady Languid; I’m delighted to see you – I griev’d to hear of your Losses at Mrs. Trivials! What an absence – Six long Months! – I was Expiring to know who was parted, and who had come together – We have had our amusements in Camp, [84]  I assure ye – Four Elopements – Five Seperations – and one Marriage – I return a new Creature!
Page 21

Sharp.
Yes, I see you do
Lady Rou.
The Fatigues that is to say pleasure of Martial Maneuvres, [85]  give me Spirits to laugh at the Vexations of my fashionable Friends, I am the happiest of Creatures[.] Lord Rouleau is a perfect Hannibal [86]  – He has lost an Eye, and it wou’d give me great Pleasure if he lost his Head in the Service of his Country! What delightful Ideas possess my Brain! Apropos – poor Lady Paroli is quite ruin’d!
Sharply.
That’s drole.
Lady R.
How do you like my Uniform? [87]  Is it not most delicious? Most convenient for Dancing – (Dancing) We all wear it from the Meagre Miss Macas, to Plump Lady Paroli! You’ll come to night to Lady Squanders[.] All the World invited! – Nothing fashionable but the Brunswick rose! [88]  Charming Creature, full of accomplishments! – a world of Talents – Such Beautiful Eyes[.] Dark Blue! Order’d a Habit [89]  Exactly the Colour to ride a Race to morrow against Charles Winlove, bewitching wretch! Apropos! Miss Nerissa Vaivete, quite a
Page 22

Martial Spirit – All Soul – Eloped to Scotland last night with Harry Lovemore! now I dare say there are People ill natur’d enough to go about telling Every body – We who are prudent and circumspect know better – If it had happen’d in Camp, Nobody wou’d have minded it. O the charming Visissitudes of Military Life! why I wou’d command every Man in the Field, from the General to the Drummer and they were all proud to obey me. – I have given up Play these Six Months – and have Employ’d all my lords Money in raising a Regiment, no bad Example for some of my Acquaintance – Rub-a-dub. was my Morning Concert – Pop! Pop! my Evening Serenade – The Parole! Lord Howe the Countersign – Victory [90]  – Have you heard of the Adventure between Sir Hercules Tactic and Clara Cartouch? Such a Blow up – You know, Sir Hercules’ – Body, like a Drum – Legs like the Drumsticks [–] Voice like a Trumpet – Nose sharp as a Bayonet – Carries his Colours in his Face – Steeps them in Burgundy and will stand a Volley of Grape Shot with any Man in the Kingdom! Poor Lady Babs in high Dudgeon[.]
Page 23

Mind, I didn’t tell, poor thing, nobody pities her[.] She was the first to propogate the story that Serena Simper retir’d to the South of France to —
Lord C.
Hold Lady Rouleau, take breath, and hear Lady Languid’s answer.
Sharply.
Oh! we all know that her Ladyship loves to hear herself talk, in that instance, at least she has the felicity of being Singular
Lady Lan.
Cassino! you look triste – have you been at Church to-day? Or are you mortified at seeing so many younger Ladies go there before you? [91]  Apropos! I hope no-body has been wicked enough to tell you Courtlands flirtation with Mrs. La Belle, the pretty Milliner?
Sharp.
Why whats that to her? She is not ruin’d too, I hope!
(Aside)
Miss Cassino.
Pray Explain! I don’t comprehend you!
Lady L.
Not for the World – I never wounded the feelings of a Friend in my Life.
Lady Rou.
Because you never had one.
Lady Lan.
Besides, I never tell tales, I was desir’d to be discreet, and I hate mischief.
Page 24

Ld Court.
So we perceive.
Lady Lan.
I’m sure I do many good natur’d things at the Expence of my own feelings.
Lady Rou.
And many ill natur’d ones at the Expence of a Friend’s.
Miss Cas.
We all know the Amiable Heart of Lady Languid[,] tis impossible she ever shou’d Experience Ingratitude.
Lady Rou.
Because she never confers a Favour
(Aside)
Ld Court.
Very true. The Soul of Sensibility, I was very angry with Sharply only Yesterday.
Sharp.
Now comes my turn –
Ld. Court.
In St. James’s Street, for his boyish conduct with the Dutchess de Beaujour.
Lady Lan.
With the Dutchess de Beaujour! Oh!
Sharp.
Damme, this beats Boots – I’m in luck this Morning[.] Lord Courtland, I’m surpriz’d at your imprudence, and I never was more —
Ld Court.
Oblig’d to me in your life
Lady Rou.
Sharply. you look disconcerted – I hope you are not a party concern’d, A Lady who could make such a Display in her Dressing Room – and she just rizen
Page 25

Sharply.
Had little to Expect from the mercy of her female Visitors.
Miss Cas.
This is inhuman! How are you Lady Languid?
Enter Nelly
Nelly.
I be com’d to fetch the Boots, I did bring for my Lady by mistake – Odds me. what have e done to her.
Miss Cass.
Poor Soul, she is stabb’d to the Heart.
Nelly.
O lord! Murder! Fetch the Barber to bleed her[.] Send for a Constable – I do wash my hands on’t – I was n’t in the Room! What will the Crowner [92]  say.
Ld Court.
Have patience – and Assist your Lady.
Nelly.
What to be brought in a party concern’d, I do know a poor body wou’d be sent to jail, for what a Lady would only be laugh’d at – I be almost beside myself! Oh!
Miss Cass.
I’m afraid she’s Dead!
Nelly.
I’ll go fetch a lighted Match, or a burnt Feather, [93]  for I be Subject to Historicals [94]  myself and they do always bring me to – Say but I be innocent[.] I’ll forgive e all my Wagers, [95]  and never molest ye more in this world or the next.
Page 26

Lady Lan.
Bring my great Coat and Hat – I’ll drive to Hyde Park in my Curricle, My Lady Rouleau, you will take Miss Cassino and Sharply in your Landeau; [96]  Courtland you are a wicked Creature, and must do Penance before you are forgiven
Exeunt
Nelly alone
So then ’twas all Sham, to frighten I. – These may be London frolicks – But I do like Old fashion’d honesty better after all – Come along – they shant see I again in a hurry.
Exit
End of the 1st. Act.


Nobody. [97] 
Act Second.

Page 27

Scene 1st. A Drawing Room at Lady Languid’s.

Enter Sir Henry RightlyJohn shewing the way
Sir Henry.
Is Lady Languid at home?
John.
Yes, Sir Henry, my Lady is Dressing – but I’ll announce your name immediately.
Exit.
Sir Henry.
Is there no way to reform her? – She, who lately was a Model for her Sex, to become the victim of Dissipation! – I know her heart is uncontaminated – and He who would not encounter some Peril, to reclaim a Wanderer, little merits the applause of those who never go astray.
Enter John.
John.
My Lady will see you, Sir.
Sir Henry.
(Aside) This is the last Trial.
Exeunt.

Scene 2nd. Lady Languid’s Dressing Room.

Page 28

{Lady Languid Discovered as just finish’d dressing in a white Chemise with No Waist – a Turban with one Feather of enormous length. – Short Sleeves much above the Elbows – A very large Medallion at her Bosom – She Stands before the Glass. – [98] }
--------------------
Enter Sir Henry.
Sir Henry.
“Belinda smiles – and all the world looks gay.” So says Pope. [99] 
Lady Lan.
Sir Henry – you’re arived apropos – to conduct me to Lady Paroli’s – I go there first – shan’t stay – must call on Lady Di Scruple – shall remain there only three minutes; the good old Dowager never plays – ’tis quite impossible to exist where people have so little Taste in their choice of Amusements.
Sir Henry.
Taste – that sets decency at defiance & amusements, that destroy health, fame, & fortune – can excite in thinking minds no other sensation than Pity! – Believe me, a beautiful hand never appears to such disadvantage, as when it shakes a Dice:Box. [100] 
Lady Lan.
You are severe, Sir Henry! – You were
Page 29

Educated in Gothic [101]  Simplicity; – Your City Virtues –
Sir Henry.
Blush, for your Courtly follies!
Lady Lan.
You are angry, because the World became polite – when you were too old for Instruction.
Sir Henry.
I am old enough, indeed, to be more wise; I ought to banish from my mind, a Woman, whose only pleasure is to give me pain. Lady Languid, I come to bid you Adieu, for ever.
Lady Lan.
Rather Laconic – but perfectly pleasant, I assure you. – I cannot stay to take a formal leave: my Friends wait for me.
Sir Henry.
Your Enemies, you mean! – Those who would not lend an Arm, to save you from destruction! – They would but triumph in your fall. They are like April Suns – Gaudy to look at, but no warmth beams from them; when the voice of Sorrow pleads, they are as cold as Lapland [102]  – their Souls, as dark too.
Lady Lan.
But they are so pleasant! They know so well how to live! – Oh! the delights of Vingt un – the solicitudes of Rouge and Noir [103]  – the trembling hopes and fears that hang about a Dice Box!
Page 30

Sir Henry.
Why doat upon the darkest shakes of life – while it presents some bright examples, whose Virtues, make their Rank, their secondary Honor!
Lady Lan.
(Inattentive to Sir H:) Then to see the fritting, [104]  frowning, beauteous Circle! – bending over pyramids of Rouleaus – To behold their delicious Agonies! – their charming anxieties – their laughable vexations, and provoking Triumphs! – and if we lose, to have the bliss of seeing others as wretched as ourselves! – Where else can a Woman of Fashion be happy?
Sir Henry.
In finding out the Unfortunate – In consoling the Widow & the Orphan – in bathing their wounds with a Tear of Pity! – Explore some wretched habitation, where modes merit hides from public Eyes – Snatch the despairing sufferers to your heart – Relieve their Wants - & then tell me if ever you felt such rapture in the Paths of dissipation.
Lady Lan.
(disconcerted) That is your opinion –
Page 31

Indeed it once was mine; till pleasure drew me from the Paths of feeling.
Sir Henry.
Then let Justice lead you back again.
Lady Lan.
Justice is blind you know.
Sir Henry.
Yes, Madam, but Nature stole the Jewel from the Eye to place it in the heart.
Lady Lan.
You delight in hearing the thanks of the Unfortunate
Sir Henry.
Pardon me – not in hearing – but in knowing I deserve them. – I am a voluptuary – a very slave to mental pleasures. – Fortune bestowed her favours, that I might enjoy them – And, may I sink from the extreme of rapture, when I cease to share it with the Children of Calamity! –
(Lady Languid rings the Bell to conceal her emotion)
that Tear is worth a Million!
Enter John
Lady Lan.
Is my Carriage ready?
John.
It waits, my Lady.
Exit.
Lady Lan.
Well, Sir Henry, I will meet you half way – on the road to Amendment. – If you will for once
Page 32

enter into the Spirit of Play – I will sink into the Apathy of Sentiment. – If you will hold a Faro:Bank [105]  this Evening at Lady Squander’s – I will relieve a distress’d object Tomorrow – We will then compare Notes, and whoever is most satisfied shall be proclaimed the Victor.
Sir Henry.
Agreed! – I’ll meet you there.
Lady Lan.
Now see me to my Carriage – I’m impatient for the trial – and hope to make you shake off your City Morality – and become a Constellation in the higher Spheres! [106] 
Exeunt.

Scene 3rd. [107]  A Drawing Room at Lady Squanders

Page 33

{Lady Squander – Lady Faro – Lady Rouleau – Miss Casino – Lord Courtland & Mr. Sharply with Several persons of Fashion. – all drest in the extreme of the Fashion. Discd. some of the Company at Play.}
--------------------
Sharply.
I have two witnesses.
Lady Faro.
I can never believe it.
Lady Rou.
’Tis true, I assure you! – This beats our Camp all to nothing! – In her Dressing Room, and she just risen.
Lady Squ.
Impossible! Lady Languid is gay; but she has always been thought Lovely and correct.
Lady Rou.
As a Sun:Dial; where borrow’d Splendour only serves to mark the progress made by Time.
Lady Faro.
You allow her at least the dark shades of Character.
Lady Rou.
Indeed I’m glad Lady Squander is her Friend; for I believe, she wants one
Enter Sir Henry Rightly.
Sir Henry.
I am sorry to hear it!
Lord Court.
(affectidly.)
To hear what, Sir Henry?
Sir Henry.
(contemptuously.)
That any intimate of
Page 34

this gay Circle Wants a friend.
Miss Casino.
(Seriously.)
Sir Henry is a Man of Feeling! [108] 
Lady Rou.
Rather say a Cynic!
Lady Squan.
A very Pedant!
Sharply.
An Anchoret! – A Quiz of the first order! – a second Scipio! – A Melange of incomprehensibles; the very Salmagundi of moral Maxims [109]  – Pray, Sir Henry, tell us what you are?
Sir Henry.
A Thing, you do not know – a Philanthropist: – the friend of human:kind; my pleasures and my pains are such, as you have never felt. Yet You ought not to blame my way of thinking; for you every day receive the proudest gift, that Heav’n has taught me to bestow.
Sharply.
(smiling conceitedly.)
And pray, what may that be?
Sir Henry.
My Pity! –
Sharply.
Damn’d comical that! (retires disconcerted.)
Lord Court.
Ha! ha! ha!
Lady Rou.
Well – I never offer’d such a thing to a Friend in my life.
Sir Henry.
I believe you.
Page 35

Lord Court.
When I am Married – Sir Henry shall be my Wife’s Tutor – he is a perfect walking Horn:Book. [110] 
All.
Ha! ha! ha! –
Sir Henry.
I love a Book; – the Title I leave to your Lordship. [111] 
Sharply.
Ha! ha! ha!
Lord Court. Retires.
Enter William. P.S.D. [112] 
William.
Lady Languid!
Exit. P.S.D.
Enter Lady Languid. P.S.D.
All (seem delighted & pay court to her.)
Lady Lan:
Such an accident! – Overset my new Vis-a vis [113]  in Bond Street – broke the Pannel – what a misfortune! – Quite Shocking – Half kill’d an old Apple:Woman [114]  – but that’s nothing.
Sharply.
Queer Enough!
Lady Faro.
A mere trifle! – I meant to have call’d on you this Morning – I was dying to see you – and griev’d to hear you were indisposed – Lady Rouleau told me you had Visitors
Lord Court.
I had the honor to be one.
Page 36

Lady Lan.
Yes – yes – they call’d upon me rather Mal-a-propos, to be sure.
(Lady Lan: talks apart with Miss Cas: & Lady Rou:)
Sharply.
(Looking at Lady Languid.)
She looke devilish handsome! – I’ve a great mind – But then she’s done up – No, – damme I won’t.
Lady Squan:
She seems confused! – the thing is clear enough – Can’t be a doubt about it.
Lady Faro.
Evidently! – don’t give it up!
(Lady Lan. & Miss Cas. come forward.)
Lady Squan.
I thought Lord Courtland was too well bred, to break abruptly into a Lady’s Dressing Room, when she was alone!
Lord Court.
Lady Languid was not alone, Madam, she had a Person with her, who, I believe, occasioned her Ladyship some confusion, owing to my appearance; for which I beg her pardon.
Sharply.
I told you so.
Miss Cas.
How easily a Reputation may be lost.
(Aside)
Sir Henry.
Mischief is busy – I must stop her course, Lady Squander – Did you receive my note, requesting
Page 37

have to hold a Faro Bank [115]  here to:night?
Lady Squan.
I did – and everything is ready in the next Room.
Lady Lan.
(Coming forward)
Well, this is Elysium! People of Taste have such congeniality of Soul! such similarity of opinion! – such refinement in Friendship – and such sentiment in Love! – We have no feelings but for each other.
Sir Henry.
True! – But would not a little feeling for less Happy Objects, do honor to your Hearts?
Lady Rou.
You’re a perfect Mentor – a diciplinarian – A Martinet of the most Austere description. – I won’t enlist under your Banners [116]  – Tho’ I wou’d do anything to defend our glorious Constitution! – You have nothing Martial about you – All Sentiment and feeling – No Emulation! – No Heroic Ardour! But we forgive your Humanity on account of its singularity.
Sharply.
(Aside)
Suppose I tell all – Egad I’ve a great mind.
Sir Henry.
(Whispers to Lady Languid.)
Lady Lan.
(Contemptuously)
Pray tell all Mr. Sharply;
Page 38

Sir Harry says you’ve a great Mind – and –
Sharply.
(Insolently)
Sir Harry, did you say I had a great mind?
Sir Henry.
(Bowing)
Quite [117]  the reverse, Sir.
Sharply.
Very good! – that’s not bad! – damn’d rude tho! –
(Confused.)
All.
Ha! ha! ha!
Lady Faro.
Well, but, there is something to tell then?
Lady Lan.
This is evil insinuation! – More slander is daily drawn from innuendo than ever was extracted from plain truth; you have my permission to tell all you saw.
All.
(except Sir. Henry & Lady Lan:) Let us hear it! Let us hear it.
Sharply.
Nay! ’tis only what happens everyday.
All.
(alarmed – a look at each other.)
Sharply.
I have Lady Languid’s permission to tell?
Lady Lan.
(Bows her head)
Sharply.
(aside)
She’s up to any thing!
Lady Lan.
Any thing you please, Sir.
Sharply.
(Solemnly.)
Damme! I said so.
(aside)
– Why
Page 39

then – this is the Affair – To be sure ’tis rather a serious kind of a comical Business. – Lord Courtland and I, call’d on Lady Languid this Morning, and, on entering her dressing Room –
All.
(Whisper.)
Sharply.
Silence!
All.
(Eagerly)
Well!
Sharply.
There we saw hid behind her Toilette –
Lady Faro.
Behind her Toilette!
Sharply.
Two dirty looking –
All.
(Astonish’d and listening eagerly)
Two!
Sharply.
Two, damn’d, dirty looking –
All.
What?
Sharply.
Boots!
All.
(Starting)
And Spurs?
Sharply.
And Spurs! – Here’s a pretty kickup!
Lady Faro.
What sort of Boots?
Sharply.
Of the Masculine sort; splash’d – and evidently just left there by their owner.
Miss Cas.
(Sarcastically)
But how do you know that they were Masculine Boots?
Sharply.
They were Jack Boots [118]  – left in a hurry,
Page 40

by some one who had –
All.
(Eagerly.)
Who had –
Sharply.
Vanish’d!
All.
(Stand amazed.)
Lady Lan.
I confess appearances are against me; but remember, till I am proved guilty, I am supposed to be innocent – this is one of the privileges of a British subject.
Lady Rou.
But we lose time, Ladies – Let’s to Cards.
They [119]  retire to the Faro Table.
Lord Court.
(leading Miss Cassino)
Sharply.
Here’s a pretty Commence! [120]  – Courtland – I say – a word with you! –
Lord Cour: {Hands Miss Cas: to the Table – Kisses her hand – Bows – and then returns}
I say Courtland – You must not Philander with Little Casino – ’Twon’t do; upon my Soul you must not.
Lord Court.
For what reason?
Sharply.
Because I dont like it – and – and – in short – you must cut the Business – You must indeed[.] I can’t allow it.
Lord Court.
But all preliminaries are settled,
Page 41

and I marry her immediately.
Sharply.
No matter for that, I will have her – to speak reasonably – I say ’tis damn’d ridiculous, and damn’d rude – to think of any woman that I am in love with ’tis a thing I never suffer –
Exit Lord Courtland retires to Table
and besides, I know Cassino is in love with me, and ’tis damn’d – What, is he gone? – Queer enough! Now I’ll go and borrow fifty Guineas of the Bank – lose Ten – swear I am ruined – and pocket just Forty by the night – good fun enough.
Retires to the Table.
{Lady Languid rushes forward from the Table in great perturbation & rings a Bell.}
Enter William P.S. [121] 
Lady Lan.
Bring me, pen Ink and paper – and order my Carriage!
Exit William P.S. who returns immediately with Pen Ink and Paper}
This is too cruel; to be the dupe of such a Stoic! – Nine Thousand Guineas! – and the last nine thousand Fortune had left me! My dear Rouleaus, to be stuff’d into Sir Henry’s Musty Coffers! –
Page 42

I shall go wild with vexation.
(Writes.)
– There’s the Draft! – Take this with my compliments to Sir Henry Rightly – and then call up my Carriage!
{William delivers the Draft to Sir Henry at the Table and then Exit P.S.D. — }
Lady Faro.
(Coming Forward)
My dear Languid, why are you so childish?
(Speaking Soothingly.)
Lady Lan.
I am undone! ruin’d entirely!
Lady Faro.
(Coldly.)
Indeed! Well, I must be gone[.] I promised to call on poor Lady Paroli.
Lady Lan.
Can you lend me a Hundred? Fortune may Change.
Lady Faro.
(Turning from her)
I am as poor as you are – lost every Guinea I play’d for.
Lady Squander comes forward.
[Lady Lan.]
Have you a Rouleau to spare?
Lady Squan.
(Gravely.)
I owe more than I have won; and while I am in debt, my property is not at my disposal. Lady Faro is the only winner, besides Sir Henry.
Page 43

Lady Rouleau.
(Coming Forward)
I hope Lady Languid has not levanted; [122]  she owes me an hundred.
Lord Courtland.
(Coming forward)
And me Fifty.
Sir Henry.
(Coming forward.)
Lady Languid, you have made me this Night your Banker
{Miss Casino offers Lady Languid her Pocket Book, which she refuses & Curtsies}
Lady Lan.
I am Sufficiently humbled, Sir Henry; – but here comes one
(to Sharply as he is coming down.)
whose esteem for me was not built on the sordid basis of self:Interest – My Fortune was to him no object.
Sharply.
The comical discovery of this morning has released me from every Engagement.
Sir Henry.
(Sternly)
A paltry, poor excuse; you know that Lady’s innocence and must speak the Truth. She offers you her hand? –
Sharply.
(Bowing Affectedly.)
I am not worthy of that honor!
Page 44

Sir Henry.
I knew he’d speak the Truth.
All laugh at Sharply who looks particularly Grave
Sir Henry.
(Seriously.)
Now, Lady Languid, I remind you of your promise – you must relieve an unhappy object – Let me point one out. There is a Direction; and I think our pleasure will be Mutual.
Gives a Letter & Exit. P.S.D.
The Company retire.
Lady Lan.
My Draft returned! –
(Reads)
“Your Fortune without your Affection, to me were useless – neither can the advantages of a Gaming Table, compell me to distress an amiable, tho’ misguided Woman.” – Who waits?
Enter William. P.S.D.
Desire Sir Henry to return.
Exit William. P.S.D.
How unworthy am I of such generosity! –
Enter Sir Henry. P.S.D.
Page 45

Sir Henry, I cannot yield to be outdone in kindness – This draft of your’s – my pride will not receive it; – my folly must be punish’d – Point out a Being who wants the little I have left and I will share it with him.
(He refuses the Draft.)
Sharply.
(Coming forward)
Egad I’ll take pity on her – nine thousand is no bad thing! –
Sir Henry.
(Putting Sharply aside)
Will you relieve the object I shall name?
(To Lady Lan)
Lady Lan.
Assuredly!
Sir Henry.
Then believe me Lady Languid, ’till you are mine, no Man exists more wretched than myself!
Sharply.
Egad that’s queer Enough! – Mind your hits, Sir Harry – that Lady is Engaged to me.
Lord Court.
Sharply, give the thing up handsomely – old Plutus [123]  will at last Knock you down with a Sack of Gold.
Sharply.
Will he? – then I’ll –
(angrily) [124] 
Lord Court.
What wilt thou do?
(Laughing.)
Page 46

Sharply.
Why – why – Damme! I’ll pocket the affront!
(to Miss Cas.)
Come Little One, you and I will make up old Quarrels – and will be as happy – as we can. (Sighing)
Lord Court.
(Putting Sharply Aside)
With your permission I forbid the Banns: [125]  this Lady is Engaged to me.
Sharply.
Here’s a pretty spot of work! What will the world Say? Will Nobody have me? – Damme! This is Droll
Lady Lan.
Mr. Sharply, you have only to thank yourself – How could you expect the confidence of that Sex whose virtues were the subjects of your Slanders – remember that the wreath of Social Intercourse ever blooms most grateful to the sense when it is divested of the Thorn of ill:Nature.
Sharply.
Comical Enough!
Nelly without P.S.D.
Nelly.
I will come in! – I will see my Lady!
Page 47

Enter William.
William.
There is a Young Woman below, in great Affliction who wishes to see Lady Languid[.] She will take no denial – she says she is her Ladyship’s waiting:Woman.
All.
Let her come up – Let her come up.
Exit William. Enter Nelly. P.S.D.
Nelly.
(Running to Lady Languid)
I be a gowan [126]  home – I won’t tarry no longer. (Crying.)
Lady Lan.
What has distress’d you child? – You might have staid till my return
Nelly.
No, but I won’t – I ben’t used like a Christian I ha’ took a place in the flying Waggon & my Box [127]  is gone before me
Sharply.
I wish I was in it – for I’m in the wrong Box [128]  here.
Lady Lan.
That will satisfy you.
(gives Money)
Nelly.
– By gingo! Five Golden Guineas. By Jingo I’ve had many fine promises but a Bird in the Hand is worth Two in the Bush. [129] 
Epilogue.

Epilogue to Nobody.

Page 48

Half dead, and scarce recover’d from my fright,
Once more I come to bid you all good night,
For ere I quit this vast and Splendid place
Where kindness gives to Candour ev’ry Grace,
To make you smile again, shall be my Aim,
My Zeal to please you, Nobody will blame,
For when keen Malice strikes the grateful Heart,
Sure Nobody will say – I shot the dart.
A Truce to sadness. Is it not a shame
What ever’s wrong, that Nobody’s to blame,
When Scandal bids a reputation die
Who gave the wound? “’Twas nobody they cry.
When Modest merit at the Miser’s door,
Tells his sad Tale of mis’ry, o’er and o’er!
“Your Lord is Bountiful” – the Mourner cries
“Bear to his ear my sorrows, and my sighs
“He never lets the child of Genius roam,
The Porter answers, “Nobody’s at home”!
When Mistress Button from her Spouse is gone
To see the Play with Honest neighbour John.
“This” – says her Lord and master, “Is not well;
“Where is she gadding?” Nobody can tell!
Home sneaks the Lady; spouse begins to rave;
“I wish the foolish wretch were in her grave;”
“Do not say so, my Button, If you died
“Indeed I’d marry nobody beside”!

Page 49

“Where have you been? – Confess and I’ll forgive?
“With Nobody, – or may I cease to live!
“So then I find, when I am dead and gone,
“You’ll play the fool, my duck, with Neighbour John;
“For you confess’d – If I were in my grave,
“In spite of fate, you Nobody wou’d have;
“And if I may believe my eyes are true,
“That nobody, has been – this Night with you”.
“Well! do not look so fierce, and rave and Curse;
“For Lovey, Nobody will be the worse;
“Indeed I’m fond as any wife can be,
“And Nobody prefer, my dove, to thee!
“Yet I dare swear you do!” – She cries he Pouts;
A kiss dispels his Rage; – a Smile, his doubts:
Then Spousy promises, to cure his Sorrow,
She’ll do the like, with Nobody to morrow!
When I behold a lovely British Maid,
Depend on Nobody, for fashion’s aid,
I think she’s right, for nature shrinks to gaze,
On Shapes like Dolls, – cas’d up in Whalebone Stays; [130] 
Hoops of stiff Cane, [131]  were certainly design’d –
To hide deformity that stalk’d behind! –
Let Beauty banish Art, and all will say,
This is the charm, to hold Eternal Sway,
And may the Virtues! still to Briton’s dear!
Snatch their bright Model – from the highest Sphere!
But soft, – one smile, to bid our Author live
And nobody shall share, – the Wreath [132]  you give.

Notes

[1] Transcribed from the only known, surviving manuscript of Nobody (LA 1046), this play is reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, all rights reserved. Further reproduction of this text (including on the Internet) is prohibited without prior permission from The Huntington Library. Mary Robinson’s Nobody was first performed on 29 November 1794 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Except for the Prologue and Epilogue (see note 4), the play was not published. BACK

[2] Marquis of Salisbury: James Cecil (1748-1823), a British politician, became the first Marquess of Salisbury in 1789 and acted as Lord Chamberlain of the Household from 1783-1804. His duties as Lord Chamberlain included the licensing of London theatrical performances and, in this role, he had the ability to censor dramatic content. BACK

[3] J.P. Kemble: John Phillip Kemble (1757-1823), famous English actor, brother of renowned actress Sarah Siddons, and manager of London’s Theatres Royal, Drury Lane (1788-1796; 1800-1802) and Covent Garden (1803-1812). BACK

[4] The Prologue and Epilogue to Nobody, spoken by William Barrymore (1759-1830) and Dorothy Jordan (1761-1816), respectively, were published on 3 December 1794 with slight variations in the “Poets Corner” section of The Morning Post and Fashionable World. As The Morning Post’s footnotes to the Prologue and Epilogue indicate, lines in both of them were omitted on the second night’s representation, the Prologue due to concerns over length and the Epilogue due to Dorothy Jordan’s inability to speak them. The Prologue was also published on 3 December 1794 in The Sun and in The True Briton, with additional variations. The Prologue and Epilogue were also published together in the 2 December to 4 December 1794 edition of The Whitehall Evening Post. BACK

[5] An humble fugitive, once favour’d here: a reference to the author of Nobody, Mary Robinson, who had been a highly successful actress on the Drury Lane stage from 1776-1780. BACK

[6] To paint the living manners as they rise: a near quotation of “And catch the manners living as they rise” from Epistle I, l. 14 of Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man (1773). Nobody was staged just months after James Gillray’s satire of contemporary fashion And catch the living Manners as they rise was published on 7 May 1794; his cartoon depicts a voguish couple: a woman wearing enormous ostrich plumes on her head along with an Empire-waist dress that exposes her breasts and a man sporting a one-piece striped suit. In his edition of Nobody, William D. Brewer points out that Robinson also incorporates Pope’s line into Modern Manners, A Poem. In Two Cantos (II.6); see Brewer, ed. The Works of Mary Robinson, Vol. 8 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2010), 275n. Published the year prior to Nobody (London: James Evans, 1793), Modern Manners links voguish culture with gambling practices. BACK

[7] Hogarth . . . Reynolds: William Hogarth (1697-1764), English printmaker, painter and visual satirist; Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), English portraitist and the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts. Reynolds painted portraits of Robinson in 1782 and 1783, and Robinson, in turn, paid homage to him in her poems 'To Sir Joshua Reynolds' (1789), Ainsi va le Monde (1790), and Monody to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Late President of the Royal Academy (1792). In Ainsi va le Monde she writes,

Reynolds, ’tis thine with magic skill to trace
The perfect semblance of exterior grace;
Thy hand, by Nature guided, marks the line
That stamps perfection on the form divine.
(Judith Pascoe, ed. Mary Robinson: Selected Poems [Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2000], 103-114; ll. 73-76).
BACK

[8] West Country: a term referring to the south-western area of England that includes the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire, along with the city of Bristol, where Mary Robinson was born. BACK

[9] Rouleau: a roll of coins wrapped in paper. BACK

[10] Farrow: alternate spelling of Faro, a gambling game in which players place bets on the order that cards appear when drawn from a box. In the body of the play, this character’s name is spelled “Faro.” BACK

[11] Cassino: a “game at cards in which the ten of diamonds, called great cassino (or great cass) counts two points, and the two of spades, called little cassino (or little cass) counts one; eleven points constituting the game” (OED). In the body of the play, this character’s name is often spelled with one “s.” BACK

[12] Alack-a-day: expression of dismay or regret. BACK

[13] Ifecks, or later, Efecks: asseveration used mainly by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dramatists meaning “in faith” or “by my faith” (OED). BACK

[14] Sarmant: sermon. BACK

[15] family: “the servants of a house or establishment; the household” (OED). BACK

[16] e: ye. BACK

[17] take care of: beware of, be cautious of. BACK

[18] afeard: afraid. BACK

[19] escape: Mrs. Goodly suggests that Nelly’s chastity is in danger. BACK

[20] Ecod: egad, a milder version of the oath “by God” (OED). BACK

[21] a Summat: something. BACK

[22] unkid: “Feeling lonely, dull, or depressed” (OED). BACK

[23] mazed: stupefied, dazed, or confused (OED). BACK

[24] down a long: dialect word for the West Country (OED); see note 8. Through Nelly Primrose, Robinson displays her familiarity with West Country dialect. BACK

[25] beside myself: out of my wits, out of my senses (OED). BACK

[26] Potted Wheatears: the meat of wheatears, small songbirds, preserved in a sealed jar or pot. BACK

[27] junketing: feasting, eating. BACK

[28] Plutus: In Greek mythology, Plutus is the god of wealth. BACK

[29] Quiz: “an odd or eccentric person” (OED). BACK

[30] tick for a Rouleau: credit for a gambling coin; see note 9. BACK

[31] Hilligsberg: Marie-Louise Hilligsberg (d. 1804), a celebrated ballerina who performed in London, predominantly at the King’s Theatre. Like Robinson, she was known for wearing breeches on the stage; see Philip Highfill, Kalman Burnim, and Edward Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, 16 vols. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1973-1993), 7: 321. BACK

[32] Banti: Brigitta Banti-Giorgi (c. 1757-1806), also known as Brigida Banti, an Italian soprano opera singer who performed in London at the King’s Theatre from 1794-1802. Her first appearance on the King’s Theatre stage occurred in the spring prior to the debut of Nobody, when she starred on 26 April 1794 in the titular role of Bianchi’s Semiramide (La Vendetta di Nino). As the Biographical Dictionary of Actors reports, “her appearance was the greatest musical event of that season”; see Highfill et. al, 1: 278. BACK

[33] Dutch Clock: a pendulum clock, often featuring mechanical figures that perform functions such as the chiming of a bell on the hour. BACK

[34] box: theater box. BACK

[35] Aurora: In Roman mythology, Aurora is the goddess of the dawn. BACK

[36] budding Beauties: A likely allusion to Molière’s comedic play The School for Wives (L’école des femmes, 1662; London: Printed for John Watts, 1732) in which Arnolph, much like Sharply, decides to compete with another man in order to win over the object of his affection:

I never saw her look so handsome; her Eyes, methought, never were before so piercing, never did they before inspire me with such violent Desires . . . Have I indulg’d that dearest Hope my Heart had fixt upon her budding Beauties? . . . have I fondled her to be my own, as I imagin’d, for a young Fool, whom she’s in love with, to come and run away with her before my Face, and that, even when she’s half marry’d to me? No, before George, my foolish young Friend; . . . I shall render all your Hopes abortive, and you’ll find no cause to laugh at me” (IV.I. p. 95, 97).
The School for Wives also features Arnolph’s The Maxims of Marriage, a conduct book that contains the following precept: “Every Woman that would preserve her Honour, ought to refrain from Gaming as a terrible thing; for Play is very bewitching, and often drives a Woman to venture all she has” (75). Brewer suggests, alternatively, that “budding beauties” alludes to Simon Berington’s fictional travel narrative The Memoirs of Sigr Gaudentio di Lucca (London: T. Cooper, 1737), which contains an account of Gaudentio’s love for a young African girl: “My choice was soon determin’d: the first Time I saw the incomparable Isiphena, the Regent’s Daughter, tho’ she was then but ten Years old, ten Thousand budding Beauties appear’d in her”; see Brewer (8: 276n). In both instances, the men speak of young women—an eighteen-year-old (Molière) and a ten-year-old (Berington); clearly, as Brewer points out, the widow Lady Languid’s beauty is not in a similarly “budding” state. BACK

[37] Drolle . . . triste: Drolle is an anglicization of the French word “drôle,” which means funny. “Triste” is the French word for sad. BACK

[38] by Jupiter: by god; in Roman mythology, Jupiter is the chief god. BACK

[39] Done up . . . Dish’d compleatly: In both phrases, to be defeated or ruined (OED), here, financially. BACK

[40] Antidiluvian: antediluvian; ridiculously old-fashioned. BACK

[41] “Poets Corner”: a section of The Morning Post and Fashionable World newspaper. See also note 4. BACK

[42] Span: The maximum distance between the tip of the thumb and the little finger when the hand is fully splayed, generally taken to be about nine inches. BACK

[43] Drummer’s Braid: regimental fabric trimming. BACK

[44] Beaver Hat: a hat made of felted beaver fur. BACK

[45] rotten row: Rotten Row is a wide path located on Hyde Park’s south side, now maintained as a bridleway. During the eighteenth century, the fashionable set were known to parade up and down the broad avenue in their carriages and on their horses in an effort to see and be seen. BACK

[46] In this poem, Robinson depicts "the Nobody," an image of a torso-less man with a head, arms, and breeches rising up to his neck. Prior to and during the eighteenth century, this archetypal figure, usually associated with the common man, was often contrasted with Somebody, a “well-dressed body . . . a fop” (Catherine Gallagher, Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670-1820 [Berkeley: U of California P, 1994], 207). In her drama, however, Robinson reverses this representation: “Nobody” is not a common person, but a voguish person. For more on the figure of the “Nobody,” see Terry F. Robinson's forthcoming article, 'Becoming Somebody: Refashioning the Body Politic in Mary Robinson's Nobody.' BACK

[47] Sal Volatile: smelling salts. BACK

[48] Jew’s Harp: jaw harp, a folk instrument placed in the mouth and plucked with a finger. BACK

[49] Church Porch: “a transept or side chapel in a church” (OED). BACK

[50] Old Saxon: the old sexton. BACK

[51] for a us’d for to think ’twas: because he used to think it was. BACK

[52] dy’d of Quince in her throat: Nelly means to say “quinsy,” “an inflammation or swelling of the throat or part of the throat” (OED), caused by ailments such as tonsillitis or the mumps. The joke here is that Nelly makes it sound as if the sexton’s sweetheart choked to death on quince, a hard, pear-shaped fruit. BACK

[53] Midsummer Eve . . . was falsehearted: Midsummer’s Eve, also known as St. John’s Eve (the evening prior to the Feast of St. John the Baptist), is a holiday honoring the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and, in the Catholic religion, the nativity of St. John. In much of Britain, it was customary to light bonfires and celebrate with drink and food, including sweetmeats and fruit. Maidens, in particular, often engaged in superstitious practices either to gain a glimpse of their future sweetheart or to determine the faithfulness of their current love interest. William Hone in his Every-day Book (1827) for 24 June notes that in “One of the ‘Cheap Repository Tracts,’ entitled, ‘Tawney Rachel, or the Fortune-Teller,’ said to have been written by Miss Hannah More, relates, among other superstitious practices of Sally Evans, that ‘she would never go to bed on Midsummer eve, without sticking up in her room the well-known plant called Midsummer Men, as the bending of the leaves to the right, or to the left, would never fail to tell her whether her lover was true or false’”; see William Hone, The Every-day Book; or, Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, 2 vols. (London: Published for William Hone, 1827), I: 850. Nelly states that she played the jaw harp in a transept or a side chapel of the church in order to make the sexton believe that his deceased sweetheart was haunting him on Midsummer Eve because he had not been true or, in other words, because he had been unfaithful or “falsehearted.” BACK

[54] How cou’d the Porch be falsehearted, Child?: Here, Lady Languid mistranslates the final phrase of Nelly's last sentence. Rather than interpreting Nelly’s “a” for “he,” she interprets the pronoun “a” as “it,” which comically attributes falseheartedness to the “Porch” rather than to the sexton. BACK

[55] Ould Scratch . . . Doctor Foster: Old Scratch is a term for the devil; Doctor Foster is Nelly’s amusing misnomer for Dr. Faustus, the German astronomer who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil and who had been the subject of a drama by Christopher Marlowe. Nelly seems to indicate that if she had not played the joke on the sexton (i.e. made him believe that his deceased sweetheart was haunting him), he would have remained unrepentant, and the devil would have taken the sexton to hell just as he did Faustus. BACK

[56] Poors Box: church collection box for gifts of money to aid in the relief of the poor. In these lines, Nelly takes Lady Languid’s recommendation to “be charitable” literally, as a proposal that Nelly donate money rather than, simply, be kind to others. BACK

[57] mortal fear’d: mortally or deathly afraid. BACK

[58] Williams Ghost – there was a Lady all Skin & Bone – Death & the Lady: the names of three popular ballads, the first of which was more generally known as “Sweet William’s Ghost.” BACK

[59] Barbara Allen: 'The Ballad of Barbara Allen,' a folksong. The following is one of the many versions of the famous ballad:


’Twas early in the month of May
When green leaves they were springing,
When a young man on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen.

He sent to her his servant-man
To the place where she was dwelling,
Saying, “Fair maid, you must come to my master
If your name is Barbara Allen.”

Slowly, slowly she walked along
And slowly she got to him,
And when she got to his bedside,
“Young man,” said she, “You’re dying.”
“Dying, dying? Oh don’t say so!
One kiss from you will cure me.”
“One kiss from me you never shall have
If your poor heart is breaking.”

“Don’t you remember the other day
When in the city dwelling,
You gave kind words to the other girls
And none to Barbara Allen?”

As she was walking through the fields
She hear the bells a-ringing,
And as they rang they seemed to say
“Hard-hearted Barbara Allen.”

Hear-hearted creature sure was I
To him that loved me dearly.
I wish I had more kinder been
In time of life when he was near me.

As she was walking up the town
She saw the corpse a-coming.
“Put him down, put him down, you six young men,
And let me gaze upon him.”

The more she looked the more she laughed
And the further she got from him,
Till all her friends cried out, “For shame,
Hard-hearted Barbara Allen!”

’Twas he that died on one good day
And she died on the morrow.
’Twas him that only died for love
And she that died for sorrow.

One was buried in the old chancel,
The other in the choir.
Out of him grew a red rosebud
And out of her a sweet briar.

It grew, it grew to the old church top
Where it could not grow any higher,
Tied himself in a true lovers’ know
For all false hearts to admire.
('Barbara Allen,' The Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse, ed. Frederick Woods [Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1983], 122-23.)
BACK

[60] Fiddlestick: Nelly thinks that a harp is played with a “fiddlestick,” a bow. BACK

[61] When House & Land be gone & Spent / Then larning is most Excellent: a proverb made popular in Samuel Foote’s comedy Taste (1752) by the character Lady Pentweazel who states, “When house and land are gone and spent, / Then learning is most excellent” (1.1). David Garrick later echoed the phrase in his prologue to Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy She Stoops to Conquer (1773): “When ign’rance enters, folly is at hand; / Learning is better far than house and land.” BACK

[62] Hackney: a London borough. BACK

[63] the Brunswick & the Vengeur: Robinson cites contemporary events. During the French Revolution, on 1 June 1794, the English naval ship, the Brunswick, engaged in battle with the French naval ship, the Vengeur du Peuple. The sinking of the Vengeur gave rise to the legend that the ship went down with her crew, who perished while shouting the phrase, “Vive la République!” In reality, the British rescued 277 Frenchmen from the damaged and waterlogged ship. BACK

[64] Indian Crackers: fireworks manufactured in India. BACK

[65] Theatre Royal Drury Lane . . . bring them back: Nelly reads horizontally across the width of the newspaper page rather than vertically down a column. Her misreading, however inadvertent, reveals provocative, contemporary associations between the theater establishment (Drury Lane), its harboring of socialites (the “Excellent Spirits,” the “Beau Monde”), the dangerous liaisons of fashionable life (the “Troops,” patriotic hymns, and Mrs. Cassino’s last Ball), and colonialist spectacle (“Arabian Savage[s],” “Kangaroos,” and Indian fireworks). BACK

[66] Blacking: shoe polish. BACK

[67] Essence: perfume. Nelly has given Lady Languid perfume instead of tea to drink. BACK

[68] kissing Crust: the crust shared between two loaves of bread that have touched one another during baking. BACK

[69] ’tis an ill wind that blows no-body good: comic misquote of “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” a sailing proverb meant to suggest that good fortune may often come from another’s misfortune. Lady Languid’s rejection of the “kissing crust” is a boon to Nelly because she can now eat the crust herself, especially since she has not yet had breakfast. BACK

[70] giv’d up the Ghost in the twinkling of an Eye: died instantly, had she not had something to eat. BACK

[71] the Varsal World: universal or entire world. BACK

[72] the good Book: the Holy Bible. BACK

[73] painted Isabel: Nelly means to say “painted Jezebel.” In the Biblical Old Testament, Jezebel is the Phoenician queen and wife of King Ahab who was denounced by Elijah for introducing the worship of the pagan god Baal into Israel. Just before she is killed, she puts on makeup (2 Kings 9:30-33). BACK

[74] more like mine: Nelly implies here that her face is reddened, perhaps from exposure to the sun. Tanned or sunburned skin was commonly associated with the working classes. BACK

[75] Play: gambling. BACK

[76] Gamesomer: gamesome; playful and merry. BACK

[77] in the Dumps: depressed or unhappy. BACK

[78] Mirror Ignoramus: a pun on “mere ignoramus.” BACK

[79] Wou’d your Ladyship chose Spurs too: Nelly is surprised to hear Lady Languid’s request, since boots were largely considered footwear for men. Toward the close of the eighteenth century, however, wearing boots had become fashionable among certain circles of women. BACK

[80] Efaith!: ye faith. An oath. BACK

[81] Curricle: a light, two-wheeled carriage. BACK

[82] wool in the Waggon: were in the wagon; i.e. going home. BACK

[83] Seven Senses: The Apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus identifies seven senses: “The Lord created man; and they received the use of the five operations of the Lord, and in the sixth place he imparted them understanding, and in the seventh speech, an interpreter of the cogitations thereof” (King James Version 17:5). Brewer cites the following explanation: “According to ancient teaching, the soul of man or his ‘inward holy body’ was compounded of the seven properties which were under the influence of seven planets. Fire, animated; earth gave the sense of feeling; water, speech; air, taste; mist gave sight; flowers, hearing; and the south wind, smelling. Hence the seven senses were—animation, feeling, speech, taste, sight, hearing, smelling” (W. Chambers and R. Chambers, 'The Origin of Some Slang Phrases,' in Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts [London and Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers, 1878], 87); see Brewer 277n. BACK

[84] amusements in Camp: Military camps during the eighteenth century were occupied by both men and women. As Gillian Russell observes, wives accompanied their soldiering husbands, and women, in general, from daughters to cooks, nurses, laundresses, seamstresses, and prostitutes, participated in camp life. Due to the casual intermixture of men and women, camps became equated with “sexual license. . . . Sex, it seems was everywhere. ‘Half the girls in the country will get husbands by Coxheath-camp,’ declared the Morning Chronicle, while . . . prostitutes in general were admitted behind the lines”; see Russell, The Theatres of War: Performance, Politics, and Society, 1793-1815 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 39. In her poem, 'The Camp' (1800), Mary Robinson captures the atmosphere of a military camp in what Daniel Robinson calls a “satirical montage of sights and sounds of an assembly of soldiers and an attendant entourage where the fashionable and the military, the opulent and the vulgar, and, most of all, the sexual . . . become jarringly confused” (Daniel Robinson, The Poetry of Mary Robinson: Form and Fame [New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011], 30):


Tents, marquees, and baggage waggons;
Suttling houses, beer in flagons;
Drums and trumpets, singing, firing;
Girls seducing, beaux admiring;
Country lasses gay and smiling,
City lads their hearts beguiling;
Public-houses, booths, and castles;
Belles of fashion, serving vassals;
Lordly Gen’rals fiercely staring,
Weary soldiers, sighing, swearing!
Petit maitres always dressing—
In the glass themselves caressing;
Perfum’d, painted, patch’d and blooming
Ladies—manly airs assuming!
Dowagers of fifty, simp’ring
Misses for their lovers whimp’ring—
Husbands drill’d to household tameness;
Dames heart sick of wedded sameness.
Princes setting girls a-madding—
Wives for ever fond of gadding—
Princesses with lovely faces,
Beauteous children of the Graces!
Britain’s pride and Virtue’s treasure,
Fair and gracious, beyond measure!
Aid de camps and youthful pages—
Prudes, and vestals of all ages! (Pascoe 294-95; ll.1-30)
In Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen emblematizes the liberal sexuality of the camps in Lydia Bennet’s elopement with Mr. Wickham, an officer in a regiment stationed first at Meryton and then at Brighton. BACK

[85] pleasure of Martial Maneuvres: In the camps, women often dressed in military garb and pretended to participate in military maneuvers, though “maneuvers” carries a double meaning here in that it also refers to matchmaking, lovemaking, and the getting of husbands. BACK

[86] Hannibal . . . lost an Eye . . . lost his Head: Hannibal Barca (247-183 BCE), a renowned Carthaginian military commander who, due to an infection, lost one of his eyes while crossing the Apennine Mountains. When Lady Rouleau says that Lord Rouleau has “lost an Eye,” she may be suggesting merely that he has lost sight in one eye (see “lose an eye,” OED). “Lost his head” denotes beheading and, by association, the guillotine, which was first used in France on 25 April 1792 and which became a symbol of the “Reign of Terror” (the period from 1793 to 1794), during which the Revolutionary Tribunal sanctioned execution on a mass scale. By linking “the pleasure of martial maneuvres” (see note 85) with the discussion of her husband’s body, Lady Rouleau also suggests a link between her husband’s military vigor and his sexual appeal. BACK

[87] Uniform: Lady Rouleau wears a feminine version of a military uniform, sporting a popular trend amongst the voguish set. See also note 85. BACK

[88] the Brunswick rose: Brewer reveals that this sobriquet likely alludes to Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), who in 1794 became engaged to Mary Robinson’s former lover, the Prince of Wales (1762-1830), later George IV. The ill-matched couple married in 1795, separated in 1796, and went on to fight a number of legal and political battles. BACK

[89] Habit: riding habit or outfit. BACK

[90] Rub-a-dub . . . Pop! Pop! . . . The Parole! . . . the Countersign: “Rub-a-dub” and “pop-pop” are onomatopoeic words indicating, respectively, the sounds of a drum being beaten and the firing of a gun. “Parole” refers to the password or watchword used by officers or inspectors of the guard, which, here, is “Lord Howe.” Lord Howe (1726-1799) was a British naval officer who, on 1 June 1794 (“The Glorious First of June”), commanded the Channel fleet to victory against the French, taking seven enemy ships. Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, The Glorious First of June, debuted at Drury Lane the following month on 2 July 1794. The “countersign” is a password or watchword given to all soldiers on guard (OED). BACK

[91] go there before you: get married before you. BACK

[92] Crowner: coroner. BACK

[93] a lighted Match, or a burnt Feather: Nelly believes that Lady Languid may not have died and could be in a deep faint. To remedy the matter, she suggests the use of a lit match, indicating, perhaps, that its sulfurous fumes could wake up her employer. Burnt feathers were also held smoking under the nostrils as a way to recall a person to his or her senses. BACK

[94] Historicals: hysterics; here, fainting fits. Throughout the play, Robinson peppers Nelly’s speech with humorous malapropisms, indicating the influence of Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comic drama The Rivals (1775), whose name gave rise to the linguistic term. BACK

[95] forgive e all my Wagers: give up claim to her wages. BACK

[96] Hyde Park . . . Curricle . . . Landeau: Hyde Park is a western central London green space and, during this time, a particularly fashionable spot for driving, promenading, and socializing. For “curricle,” see note 81. A landau is a four-wheeled carriage; both a curricle and a landau are pulled by horses harnessed side by side. BACK

[97] Nobody: In the manuscript, the handwriting in the second act is different from the handwriting in the first act. BACK

[98] Lady Languid Discovered . . . She Stands before the Glass: Lady Languid, who admires herself in a mirror, wears the latest in haute couture; her dress and accoutrements echo those seen in James Gillray’s satirical print And catch the living Manners as they rise, published on 7 May 1794, about a half a year prior to the first staging of Nobody; see note 6. About two months before the play’s debut, the 6 October 1794 edition of the Morning Post and Fashionable World commented, “A Turban, and single White Feather, is the simple head dress worn by our Belles. Equality seems the motto of the most dashing Fair, as they still appear as Nobody” (3). Robinson, herself, started this fashion trend over a decade earlier in 1782 with her own version of a “white chemise with No Waist”, otherwise known as the “Perdita chemise.” For more on Robinson’s famous chemise, see Paula Byrne, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson (London: Harper Perennial, 2005), 203-06, 331. See also Terry F. Robinson's forthcoming article, 'Becoming Somebody: Refashioning the Body Politic in Mary Robinson's Nobody.' BACK

[99] Belinda . . . Pope: Sir Henry quotes Canto II, line 52 (“Belinda smil’d, and all the world was gay”) of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1712/1714), a mock-heroic poem about the high-society heroine, Belinda, who has a lock of her hair snipped off of her head without her permission. In the poem, Pope paints a portrait of the glittering world of the beau-monde, in which social intercourse is dominated by fashionable appearances. Like Lady Languid who plays the card game Faro, Belinda plays the card game ombre, a precursor to whist and bridge. BACK

[100] Dice:Box: A “Dice Box” refers to a container with one open end, in which dice are placed and shaken and from which they are thrown. BACK

[101] Gothic: barbaric or crude. BACK

[102] Lapland: Region of Northern Europe, encompassing areas of Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden and located mainly within the Arctic Circle. BACK

[103] Vingt un . . . Rouge and Noir . . . a Dice Box: Lady Languid refers to different gambling games. “Vingt-et-un” is “Twenty-one,” now commonly known as “blackjack,” where the object of the game is to obtain a hand of cards adding up to twenty-one. “Rouge et Noir” (Red and Black), also known as “Trente et Quarante” (Thirty and Forty), is a game where a two rows of cards are dealt, the upper row being “noir” and the lower being “rouge”; players place bets on which of the rows has a total nearest to thirty one, the winning sum always occurring between the numbers thirty and forty. BACK

[104] fritting: a misspelling of “fretting.” BACK

[105] hold a Faro:Bank: For “Faro,” see note 10. “Holding a Faro Bank” can refer either to the act of playing faro or to the financing of the faro table by a representative, in this case Sir Henry, who uses his capital to venture in the game. In Maria Edgeworth’s novel Belinda (1801), Lady Delacour reveals that her former friend Mrs. Luttridge held a “faro bank” at which she (Delacour) lost “an immensity of money” (Maria Edgeworth, Belinda, ed. and intro. Kathryn J. Kirkpatrick [Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994], 45). BACK

[106] the higher Spheres: high or fashionable social circles. BACK

[107] Scene 3rd: corrected from "2nd" in the manuscript BACK

[108] Man of Feeling: allusion to Henry Mackenzie’s sentimental novel The Man of Feeling (1771) in which the protagonist exhibits acute sensibility, in part, by empathizing with and aiding those less fortunate than himself. BACK

[109] Anchoret . . . Quiz . . . Scipio . . . Salmagundi: An “anchorite” is a religious recluse or hermit. For “quiz,” see note 29. “Scipio” refers to Scipio Aemilianus Africanus (c.185-129 BCE), politician and general of the Roman Republic whose army destroyed Carthage in 146 BCE. He was the grandson (by adoption) of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus and was a wealthy patron of the arts and sciences, renowned for founding the Scipionic Circle, a Roman intellectual group, consisting of philosophers, historians, poets, and other scholars. He is also remembered as a stern censor, a position he held in 142 BCE, during which time he served as supervisor of public morality and attempted to curb dissipation and corruption. He is the principal speaker in Cicero’s De re publica (c.54-61 BCE), the sixth book of which—entitled Somnium Scipionis (The Dream of Scipio)—depicts him as a man of intellect and virtue. It is a text that, among other things, influenced Dante Alighieri’s the Divine Comedy (1308-1321) and inspired Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione (K. 126) (1772). The Tomb of the Scipios in Rome was rediscovered in 1780, and images of the tomb were published in Rome in 1785 by Francesco Piranesi in Monumenti degli Scipioni, a work begun by his father Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Salmagundi, in this context, means “mixture.” BACK

[110] Horn:Book: an elementary educational aid, consisting of a rectangle of wood, upon which is mounted a piece of paper illustrating information such as the alphabet, the numbers one to ten, and the Lord’s Prayer, and over which is placed, to protect the paper, a transparent piece of horn. BACK

[111] I love a Book; – the Title I leave to your Lordship: Sir Henry Rightly draws attention, here, to the word “horn.” Horns were attributes of a cuckold, and “Horn:Book” itself echoes the contemporary term “horn work,” which was slang for cuckold making; see, for instance Lawrence Sterne, Life of Tristram Shandy (London: Penguin, 2003), II.xii.98, where Sterne refers to the “horn-works of cuckoldom.” The word “horn” also connoted the penis as in “horn-colic,” cant for an erection; see Francis Grose, A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence (London: Printed for C. Chappel, 1811) n. pag. BACK

[112] P.S.D.: a stage direction, meaning either “prompt side door” or “proscenium stage door”; see, respectively, Edward A. Langhans, Eighteenth Century British and Irish Promptbooks (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987), xxxi, and Charles H. Shattuck, ed. John Philip Kemble Promptbooks, Vol. 1 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1974), xviii-xix. The proscenium is the area of the stage in front of the curtain, the depth of which was on average twelve to fifteen feet (Charles Beecher Hogan, The London Stage, 1776-1800: A Critical Introduction [Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968], lv-lvi). BACK

[113] Vis-a vis: vis-à-vis, an open carriage in which passengers sit, as its name suggests, face to face. BACK

[114] Apple:Woman: a woman who sells apples. BACK

[115] Faro Bank: see note 105. BACK

[116] Banners: banner, a piece of cloth attached to a pole, displaying family, military, or national symbols and acting as a rallying point in battle; a flag. When Lady Rouleau states that she will not “enlist under [Sir Henry Rightly’s] Banners,” she suggests not only that she disdains his reproaches but also that his principled persona makes him socially unappealing. BACK

[117] Quite: corrected from “quit” in the manuscript. BACK

[118] Jack Boots: men’s heavy military boots. BACK

[119] They: corrected from “the” in the manuscript. BACK

[120] Commence: start or beginning. BACK

[121] P.S.: a stage direction, meaning “prompt side” or “proscenium side”; see note 111. BACK

[122] levanted: To “levant” means to run away, often leaving unpaid debts. BACK

[123] Plutus: see note 28. BACK

[124] angrily: corrected from “angerly” in the manuscript. BACK

[125] Banns: the notice of an intended marriage, read out for three Sundays in a parish church, to provide the opportunity for objections. BACK

[126] gowan: going. BACK

[127] flying Waggon . . . Box: A “flying coach” was a high-speed traveling carriage; Nelly has reserved a seat in one so that she may travel home, where she has already sent her “box” or luggage. BACK

[128] in the wrong Box: slang phrase meaning “out of one’s element” or “finding oneself in embarrassment” (A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant, ed. Albert Barrère and Charles Leland [n.p.: Ballantyne Press, 1889], 2: 423). “Box,” in this context, could also refer to a vagina. In Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, Littlewit sends his wife to tell his clerk, Solomon, to search in a black box for a license. The character Wasp says to Littlewit, “Good Lord, how long your wife stays! Pray God, Solomon, your clerk, be not looking i’ the wrong box” (1.4); see James T. Henke, Renaissance Dramatic Bawdy (Exclusive of Shakespeare): An Annotated Glossary and Critical Essays, 2 vols. (Austria: Institut für Englishe Sprache und Literatur, Universität Salzburg, 1974), 96. BACK

[129] a Bird in the Hand is worth Two in the Bush: Nelly exclaims one of the morals of Nobody, that a tangible advantage is better than the chance of a greater one. In the context of the play, holding on to one’s actual wealth is preferable to gambling it away in the expectation of more. BACK

[130] Whalebone Stays: pieces of whalebone used to stiffen corsets. BACK

[131] Hoops of stiff Cane: Hoop petticoats were fashionable during the eighteenth century and required the use of cane, which was inserted into sewn channels around the width of the petticoat. BACK

[132] wreath: laurel wreath, here meaning “honor.” BACK

Original publication date

1794

Published @ RC

March 2013

Country