« السابقةمتابعة »
SIR MARTIN MAR-ALL.
SIR MARTIN MAR-ALL is imitated from the French of Moliere: nor, even with that qualification, is it entirely the work of Dryden. William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, renowned for his loyalty and gallantry during the civil wars, whether in compliance with the general custom amongst the men of wit and honour at the court of Charles, or in order to place himself upon a level with that voluminous authoress, his Duchess, thought fit to compose several plays. Amongst other lucubrations, he translated Moliere's " L'Etourdi," and presented it to our author, by whom it was adapted for the stage. From respect to his Grace, it was published anonymously until 1697, when it appeared with Dryden's name. The noble Duke being far more eminent as a soldier and an equestrian, than as an author, it may be readily allowed, that what is diverting in the piece has been inserted by our author. Upon the stage, indeed, the repeated and incorrigible blunders of Sir Martin must have appeared very diverting, since the play ran for no less than thirty-three nights, and was four times acted at court. Nokes, who acted this unfortunate coxcomb with inimitable humour, is said to have contributed much to this uncommon success. Moliere's play is followed with considerable exactness, allowing for such variations as the change of the scene from Paris to London appeared naturally to demand. One remarkable difference occurs in the conclusion: Calie is, in the original, at length united to her inconsiderate and blundering admirer. Mrs Millisent, the corresponding character in Sir Martin Mar-all, rewards, with her hand and fortune, the ingenious Warner, who has all along laboured to gain her for his master. The alternative was a little embarrassing; but the decorum of the French stage would not have permitted the union of a lady with an intriguing domestic, nor would an English audience have been less shocked with seeing her bestowed on a fool. Besides, Sir Martin Mar-all is a more contemptible character than Lelie, who is less conceited and foolish, than thoughtless and inconsequential. But although the character of a menial was .not quite so low in the 17th as in the 18th century,—for pages, and the higher class of attendants in a nobleman's family, were often men of somo
birth,-yet there is much grossness in the conduct of the lady, who, in
admiration of wit, marries a man, who never thought of her.
“ L'Amant Indiscret,” of Quinault, another French play, has also been consulted by Dryden in furbishing forth the Duke of Newcastle's labours. In that part of the play, which occasions its second title of “ The feigned Innocence,” the reader will hardly find wit enough to counterbalance the want of delicacy.
Sir Martin Mar-all was performed by the Duke of York's servants, probably at the desire of the Duke of Newcastle, as Dryden was engaged to write for the other house. It seems to have been acted in 1667, and was published, but without the author's name,
Fools, which each man meets in his dish each day,
Lord DARTMOUTH, in love with Mrs CHRISTIAN.
Lady Dupe, the old lady.
Other Servants, men and women, a Carrier, Bailiffs.
* Swash-buckler seems to have been a title for those, who retained the old blunt manners of Queen Elizabeth's time, when sword and buckler were the common weapons.
“ Of old, when Englishmen were fenced with bucklers, as with a rampier, nothing was more common with them, than to fight about taking the right or left hand on the wall, or upon any unpleasing countenance : clashing of swords was then daily music in every street.” Moryson's Itinerary, Part III. Book iv.-The buckler was disused in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign; but those who affected the old-fashioned, blunt, boisterous manners, common when that ancient weapon was used in brawls, were, like old Moody in the play, still termed Swash-bucklers.