John Burgoyne.

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[Illustration: HEIRESS.










The author of this play was an elegant writer, and a brave soldier - yet,
as an author he had faults, and as a general failures. His life was
eventful; and he appears to have had, among his other qualities, that
of patient philosophy: or if, in the warmth of youth, or pride of
manhood, he was ever elated by prosperity, it is certain he bore adversity
with cheerful resignation; that adversity, which is more formidable to
the ambitious, than poverty to the luxurious - disappointment of expected

Secret love, and clandestine marriage, composed the first acts of that
tragi-comedy, called his life. His cultivated mind, and endearing
manners, reconciled, in a short time, the noble house of Derby to his
stolen union with Lady Charlotte Stanley: her father, the late Earl of
Derby, acknowledged him for his son-in-law; while the present Earl
considered him, not only as his uncle, but his friend[1].

The author was, at that period, but a subaltern in the army. The
patronage of his new relations, more than his own merit, it is probable,
obtained him higher rank. He was, however, possessed of talents for a
general, and those talents were occasionally rewarded with success. But
his misfortunes in battle have been accompanied by circumstances more
memorable than his victories - the latter were but of slight or partial
consequence; his defeat at Saratoga was of great and direful import.

He sent an able, and most pathetic account, from America, of the
surrender of his whole army - it was correctly written, and the style
charmed every reader - but he had better have beaten the enemy, and
mis-spelt every word of his dispatch; for so, probably, the great Duke
of Marlborough would have done, both by one and the other.

General Burgoyne appears to have been a man capable of performing all
things that did not require absolute genius. He was complete in
mediocrity, A valiant, but not always a skilful, soldier; an elegant,
but sometimes an insipid, writer.

When the comedy of "The Heiress" was first acted, it was compared, and
preferred by some persons, to "The School for Scandal." It attracted
vast sums of money from the east, as well as the west part of the
metropolis; - but was more justly appreciated when the season of acting
was over, and the playhouses closed.

Still, it is a production which claims high respect, from a degree of
refinement which pervades the whole work; from the peculiar situation
of its author; and from other circumstances closely connected with its
performance on the stage. - "The Heiress" is dedicated to the Earl of
Derby; and the present Countess of Derby was the Lady Emily of the
drama when it was first acted.

The author, in his Preface, has, with much art, paid a deference to
Miss Farren, by a compliment separate from her brother and sister
performers; at the same time, wisely taking care not to excite their
jealousy, while he soothed the partiality of his noble relation. He
thanks and praises her merely for speaking his Epilogue, in which, of
course, no other performer had a claim to his acknowledgments.

Lieutenant General Burgoyne is the author of another comedy, called
"The Maid of the Oaks," and the excellent farce of "Bon Ton." - He was
enamoured of the stage, and was at a play, in the little theatre of the
Haymarket, the night previous to that on which he died suddenly, in the
summer of 1792.

He was a Privy Counsellor, Colonel of the 4th regiment of foot, and
Member of Parliament for Preston, in Lancashire. He had held many
offices of great emolument; but having resigned them all about the time
he wrote this comedy, he was at length rather a confirmation of, than
an exception to, the adage - an author is seldom wealthy.

[Footnote 1: The late Earl of Derby was grandfather to the present
Earl, his son having died before him.]


Sir Clement Flint _Mr. King._
Clifford _Mr. Smith._
Lord Gayville _Mr. Palmer._
Alscrip _Mr. Parsons._
Chignon _Mr. Baddeley._
Mr. Blandish _Mr. Bannister, jun._
Prompt _Mr. R. Palmer._
Mr. Rightly _Mr. Aickin._

Lady Emily _Miss Farren._
Miss Alscrip _Miss Pope._
Miss Alton _Mrs. Crouch._
Mrs. Sagely _Mrs. Booth._
Tiffany _Miss Tidswell._
Mrs. Blandish _Mrs. Wilson._

Chairmen, Servants, _&c._

SCENE - _London._


* * * * *



_A Lady's Apartment._

_MR. BLANDISH and MRS. LETITIA BLANDISH discovered writing: Letters
folded up, and Message Cards scattered upon the Table._

_MRS. BLANDISH leans upon her Elbows, as meditating; writes, as pleased
with her Thought; lays down the Pen._

_Mrs. Blandish._ There it is, complete - -

[_Reads conceitedly._

_Adieu, my charming friend, my amiable, my all
Accomplished associate! conceive the ardour of
Your lovers united with your own sensibility -
Still will the compound be but faintly expressive
Of the truth and tenderness of your_


There's phrase - there's a period - match it, if you can.

_Blandish._ Not I, indeed: I am working upon a quite different plan:
but, in the name of the old father of adulation, to whom is that
perfect phrase addressed?

_Mrs. Blandish._ To one worth the pains, I can tell you - Miss Alscrip.

_Blandish._ What, sensibility to Miss Alscrip! My dear sister, this is
too much, even in your own way: had you run changes upon her fortune,
stocks, bonds, and mortgages; upon Lord Gayville's coronet at her feet,
or forty other coronets, to make footballs of if she pleased, - it would
have been plausible; but the quality you have selected - -

_Mrs. Blandish._ Is one she has no pretensions to; therefore the
flattery is more persuasive - that's my maxim.

_Blandish._ And mine also, but I don't try it quite so
high - Sensibility to Miss Alscrip! you might as well have applied it to
her uncle's pig-iron, from which she derives her first fifty thousand;
or the harder heart of the old usurer, her father, from which she
expects the second. But come, [_Rings._] to the business of the morning.

_Enter PROMPT._

Here, Prompt - send out the chairman with the billets and cards. - Have
you any orders, madam?

_Mrs. Blandish._ [_Delivering her Letter._] This to Miss Alscrip, with
my impatient inquiries after her last night's rest, and that she shall
have my personal salute in half an hour. - You take care to send to all
the lying-in ladies?

_Prompt._ At their doors, madam, before the first load of straw.

_Blandish._ And to all great men that keep the house - whether for their
own disorders, or those of the nation?

_Prompt._ To all, sir - their secretaries, and principal clerks.

_Blandish._ [_Aside to PROMPT._] How goes on the business you have
undertaken for Lord Gayville?

_Prompt._ I have conveyed his letter, and expect this morning to get an

_Blandish._ He does not think me in the secret?

_Prompt._ Mercy forbid you should be!


_Blandish._ I should never forgive your meddling.

_Prompt._ Oh! never, never!

_Blandish._ [_Aloud._] Well, dispatch - -

_Mrs. Blandish._ Hold! - apropos, to the lying-in list - at Mrs. Barbara
Winterbloom's, to inquire after the Angola kittens, and the last hatch
of Java sparrows.

_Prompt._ [_Reading his Memorandum as he goes out._] Ladies in the
straw - ministers, &c. - old maids, cats, and sparrows: never had a
better list of how d'ye's, since I had the honour to collect for the
Blandish family.


_Mrs. Blandish._ These are the attentions that establish valuable
friendships in female life. By adapting myself to the whims of one,
submitting to the jest of another, assisting the little plots of a
third, and taking part against the husbands with all, I am become an
absolute essential in the polite world; the very soul of every
fashionable party in town or country.

_Blandish._ The country! Pshaw! Time thrown away.

_Mrs. Blandish._ Time thrown away! As if women of fashion left London,
to turn freckled shepherdesses. - No, no; cards, cards and backgammon,
are the delights of rural life; and, slightly as you may think of my
skill, at the year's end I am no inconsiderable sharer in the pin-money
of my society.

_Blandish._ A paltry resource - - Gambling is a damned trade, and I have
done with it.

_Mrs. Blandish._ Indeed!

_Blandish._ Yes; 'twas high time. - The women don't pay; and as for the
men, the age grows circumspect in proportion to its poverty. It's odds
but one loses a character to establish a debt, and must fight a duel to
obtain the payment. I have a thousand better plans, but two principal
ones; and I am only at a loss which to chuse.

_Mrs. Blandish._ Out with them, I beseech you.

_Blandish._ Whether I shall marry my friend's intended bride, or his

_Mrs. Blandish._ Marry his intended bride? - - What, pig-iron and
usury? - Your opinion of her must advance your addresses admirably.

_Blandish._ My lord's opinion of her will advance them; he can't bear
the sight of her, and, in defiance of his uncle, Sir Clement Flint's,
eagerness for the match, is running mad after an adventure, which I,
who am his confidant, shall keep going till I determine. - There's news
for you.

_Mrs. Blandish._ And his sister, Lady Emily, the alternative! The first
match in England, in beauty, wit, and accomplishment.

_Blandish._ Pooh! A fig for her personal charms; she will bring me
connexion that would soon supply fortune; the other would bring fortune
enough to make connexion unnecessary.

_Mrs. Blandish._ And as to the certainty of success with the one or the
other - -

_Blandish._ Success! - Are they not women? - But I must away. And first
for Lord Gayville, and his fellow student, Clifford.

_Mrs. Blandish._ Apropos! Look well to Clifford. Lady Emily and he were
acquainted at the age of first impressions.

_Blandish._ I dare say he always meant to be the complete friend of the
family; for, besides his design on Lady Emily, his game, I find, has
been to work upon Lord Gayville's understanding; he thinks he must
finally establish himself in his esteem, by inexorably opposing all
his follies. - Poor simpleton! - Now, my touch of opposition goes only
to enhance the value of my acquiescence. So adieu for the morning - You
to Miss Alscrip, with an unction of flattery, fit for a house-painter's
brush; I to Sir Clement, and his family, with a composition as delicate
as ether, and to be applied with the point of a feather.


_Mrs. Blandish._ Hark you, Blandish - a good wish before you go: To make
your success complete, may you find but half your own vanity in those
you have to work on!

_Blandish._ Thank you, my dear Letty; this is not the only tap you have
hit me to-day, and you are right; for if you and I did not sometimes
speak truth to each other, we should forget there was such a quality
incident to the human mind.



_LORD GAYVILLE's Apartment._


_Lord G._ My dear Clifford, urge me no more. How can a man of your
liberality of sentiment descend to be the advocate of my uncle's family

_Cliff._ My lord, you do not live for yourself. You have an ancient
name and title to support.

_Lord G._ Preposterous policy! Whenever the father builds, games, or
electioneers, the heir and title roust go to market. Oh, the happy
families Sir Clement Flint will enumerate, where this practice has
prevailed for centuries; and the estate been improved in every
generation, though specifically spent by each individual!

_Cliff._ But you thought with him a month ago, and wrote with transport
of the match - "Whenever I think of Miss Alscrip, visions of equipage
and splendour, villas and hotels, the delights of independence and
profuseness, dance in my imagination."

_Lord G._ It is true, I was that dissipated, fashionable wretch.

_Cliff._ Come, this reserve betrays a consciousness of having acted
wrong: You would not hide what would give me pleasure: But I'll not be

_Lord G._ Hear me without severity, and I'll tell you all. Such a
woman, such an assemblage of all that's lovely in the sex! - -

_Cliff._ Well, but - the who, the how, the where?

_Lord G._ I met her walking, and alone; and, indeed, so humbly
circumstanced as to carry a parcel in her own hand.

_Cliff._ I cannot but smile at this opening of your adventure. - But

_Lord G._ Her dress was such as a judicious painter would chuse to
characterise modesty. But natural grace and elegance stole upon the
observation, and, through the simplicity of a quaker, showed all we
could conceive of a goddess. I gazed, and turned idolater.

_Cliff._ [_Smiling._] You may as well finish the description in poetry
at once; you are on the very verge of it.

_Lord G._ She was under the persecution of one of those beings peculiar
to this town, who assume the name of gentlemen, upon the sole credentials
of a boot, a switch, and round hat - the things that escape from counters
and writing desks, to disturb public places, insult foreigners, and
put modest women out of countenance. I had no difficulty in the rescue.

_Cliff._ And, having silenced the dragon, in the true spirit of
chivalry, you conducted the damsel to her castle.

_Lord G._ The utmost I could obtain was leave to put her into a hackney
coach, which I followed unperceived, and lodged her in the house of an
obscure milliner, in a bye street, whose favour was soon conciliated by
a few guineas. I almost lived in the house; and often, when I was not
suspected to be there, passed whole hours listening to a voice, that
would have captivated my very soul, though it had been her only
attraction. At last - -

_Cliff._ What is to follow?

_Lord G._ By the persuasions of the woman, who laughed at my scruples
with an unknown girl, a lodger upon a second floor, I hid myself in the
closet of her apartment: and the practised trader assured me, I had
nothing to fear from the interruption of the family.

_Cliff._ Oh, for shame, my lord! whatever may be the end of your
adventure, such means were very much below you.

_Lord G._ I confess it, and have been punished. Upon the discovery
of me, fear, indignation, and resolution, agitated the whole frame
of the sweet girl by turns. - I should as soon have committed sacrilege,
as have offered an affront to her person. - Confused - overpowered - I
stammered out a few incoherent words - Interest in her fortune - respect
- entreaty of forgiveness - and left her, to detest me.

_Cliff._ You need go no farther. I meant to rally you, but your
proceedings and emotion alarm me for your peace and honour. You are on
a double precipice; on one side impelled by folly, on the other -

_Lord G._ Hold, Clifford, I am not prepared for so much admonition.
Your tone is changed since our separation; you seem to drop the
companion, and assume the governor.

_Cliff._ No, my lord, I scorn the sycophant, and assert the friend.

_Enter SERVANT, followed by BLANDISH._

_Serv._ My lord, Mr. Blandish.


_Cliff._ [_Significantly._] I hope every man will do the same.

_Blandish._ Mr. Clifford, do not let me drive you away - I want to learn
your power to gain and to preserve dear Lord Gayville's esteem.

_Cliff._ [_With a seeming Effort to withdraw his Hand, which BLANDISH
holds._] Sir, you are quite accomplished to be an example. -

_Blandish._ I have been at your apartment, to look for you - we have
been talking of you with Sir Clement - Lady Emily threw in her word. -

_Cliff._ [_Disengaging his Hand._] Oh, sir, you make me too proud.
[_Aside._] Practised parasite!


_Blandish._ [_Aside._] Sneering puppy. - - [_To LORD GAYVILLE._] My lord,
you seem disconcerted; has any thing new occurred?

_Lord G._ No, for there is nothing new in being disappointed in a

_Blandish._ Have you told your story to Mr. Clifford?

_Lord G._ I have, and I might as well have told it to the cynic my
uncle: he could not have discouraged or condemned me more.

_Blandish._ They are both in the right. I see things exactly as they
do - but I have less fortitude, or more attachment than others: - The
inclinations of the man, I love, are spells upon my opposition.

_Lord G._ Kind Blandish! you are the confidant I want.

_Blandish._ What has happened since your discovery in the closet?

_Lord G._ The lovely wanderer left her lodgings the next morning - but
I have again found her - she is in a house of equal retirement, but of
very different character, in the city, and inaccessible. I have wrote
to her, and knowing her to be distressed, I have enclosed bank bills
for two hundred pounds, the acceptance of which I have urged with all
the delicacy I am master of, and, by Heaven! without a purpose of

_Blandish._ Two hundred pounds, and Lord Gayville's name -

_Lord G._ She has never known me, but by the name of Mr. Heartly. Since
my ambition has been to be loved for my own sake, I have been jealous
of my title.

_Blandish._ And pr'ythee by what diligence or chance, did Mr. Heartly
trace his fugitive?

_Lord G._ By the acuteness of Mr. Prompt, your valet de chambre. You
must pardon me for pressing into my service for this occasion, the
fellow in the world fittest for it. - Here he comes.

_Enter PROMPT._

_Prompt._ Are you alone, my lord?

[_Starts at seeing his Master._

_Lord G._ Don't be afraid, Prompt - your peace is made.

_Prompt._ Then there is my return for your lordship's goodness.
[_Giving the Letter._] This letter was just now brought to the place
appointed, by a porter.

_Lord G._ By a Cupid, honest Prompt, and these characters were engraved
by the point of his arrow! [_Kissing the Superscription._] "To - -
Heartly, Esq." Blandish, did you ever see any thing like it?

_Blandish._ If her style be equal to her hand-writing -

_Lord G._ If it be equal! - Infidel! you shall have proof directly.
[_Opens the Letter precipitately._] Hey-day! what the devil's here? my
bills again, and no line - not a word - Death and disappointment, what's

_Prompt._ Gad it's well if she is not off again - 'faith I never asked
where the letter came from.

_Lord G._ Should you know the messenger again?

_Prompt._ I believe I should, my lord. For a Cupid he was somewhat in
years, about six feet high, and a nose rather given to purple.

_Lord G._ Spare your wit, sir, till you find him.

_Prompt._ I have a shorter way - my life upon it I start her myself.

_Blandish._ And what is your device, sirrah!

_Prompt._ Lord, sir, nothing so easy as to bring every living creature
in this town to the window: a tame bear, or a mad ox; two men, or two
dogs fighting; a balloon in the air - (or tied up to the ceiling 'tis
the same thing) make but noise enough, and out they come, first and
second childhood, and every thing between - I am sure I shall know her
by inspiration.

_Lord G._ Shall I describe her to you?

_Prompt._ No, my lord, time is too precious - I'll be at her last
lodgings, and afterwards half the town over before your lordship will
travel from her forehead to her chin.

_Lord G._ Away then, my good fellow. He cannot mistake her, for when
she was formed, nature broke the mould.

[_Exit PROMPT._

_Blandish._ Now for the blood of me, cannot I call that fellow back; it
is absolute infatuation: Ah! I see how this will end.

_Lord G._ What are your apprehensions?

_Blandish._ That my ferret yonder will do his part completely; that I
shall set all your uncle's doctrine at nought, and thus lend myself to
this wild intrigue, till the girl is put into your arms.

_Lord G._ Propitious be the thought, my best friend - my uncle's
doctrine! but advise me, how shall I keep my secret from him for the
present? 'Faith, it is not very easy; Sir Clement is suspicion
personified: his eye probes one's very thought.

_Blandish._ Your best chance would be to double your assiduities to
Miss Alscrip. But then dissimulation is so mean a vice. -

_Lord G._ It is so indeed, and if I give into it for a moment, it is
upon the determination of never being her husband. I may despise and
offend a woman; but disgust would be no excuse for betraying her.
Adieu, Blandish; if you see Prompt first, I trust to you for the
quickest communication of intelligence.

_Blandish._ I am afraid you may - I cannot resist you. [_Exit LORD
GAYVILLE._] - Ah! wrong - wrong - wrong; I hope that exclamation is not
lost. A blind compliance with a young man's passions is a poor plot
upon his affections.



_MRS. SAGELY's House_.


_Mrs. Sagely._ Indeed, Miss Alton, (since you are resolved to
continue that name) you may bless yourself for finding me out in this
wilderness. - Wilderness! this town is ten times more dangerous to youth
and innocence: every man you meet is a wolf.

_Miss Alton._ Dear madam, I see you dwell upon my indiscretion in
flying to London; but remember the safeguard I expected to find
here. How cruel was the disappointment! how dangerous have been the
consequences! I thought the chance happy that threw a retired lodging
in my way: I was upon my guard against the other sex, but for my own
to be treacherous to an unfortunate - could I expect it?

_Mrs. Sagely._ Suspect every body, if you would be safe - but most of
all suspect yourself. Ah, my pretty truant - the heart, that is so
violent in its aversions, is in sad danger of being the same in its
affections, depend upon it.

_Miss Alton._ Let them spring from a just esteem, and you will absolve
me: my aversion was to the character of the wretch I was threatened
with - can you reprove me?

_Mrs. Sagely._ And tell me truly now; do you feel the same detestation
for this worse character you have made acquaintance with? This
rake - this abominable Heartly? - - Ah, child, your look is suspicious.

_Miss Alton._ Madam, I have not a thought, that I will not sincerely
lay open to you. Mr. Heartly is made to please, and to be avoided; I
resent his attempts, and desire never to see him more - his discovery of
me here; his letters, his offers have greatly alarmed me. I conjure you
lose not an hour in placing me under the sort of protection I solicited.

_Mrs. Sagely._ If you are resolved, I believe I can serve you. Miss
Alscrip, the great heiress, (you may have heard of the name in your
family) has been inquiring among decayed gentry for a companion. She
is too fine a lady to bear to be alone, and perhaps does not look to a
husband's company as a certain dependence. Your musical talents will be
a great recommendation - She is already apprized, and a line from me
will introduce you.

_Miss Alton._ I will avail myself of your kindness immediately.

_Prompt._ [_Without._] I tell you I have business with Mrs. Sagely - I
must come in.

_Mrs. Sagely._ As I live here is an impudent fellow forcing himself

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Online LibraryJohn BurgoyneThe Heiress; → online text (page 1 of 6)