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THE AUTHOR's DEDICATION,
Right Ilonourable HENRY PELHAM.
It was a very fine piece of oratory of a young lawyer at the bar, who as council against a highwayman, observed that the prosecutor had been robbed of a certain quantity of ore, which being purified by fire, cut into circular pieces, and impressed with the image of a king, and the arms of a state, brought with it the necessaries, the conveniences, and the luxuries of life. I'll be hanged, says an honest country gentleman, who was standing by, if this flourishing fool does not mean money. But if he had said it in one word, would not all the rest have been implied?
Just such a censure as this should I deserve, if in an address to Mr. PELHAM I endeavoured to enumerate the qualities he possesses:
The characters of great men are generally connected with their names, and it is im-possible for any one to read the name of Mr. Pelham, without connecting with it, in his own mind, all the virtues of humanity.
It is therefore sufficient that I desire his acceptance of this pluy; that I acknowledge the obligations I owe. him; and that I subscribe myself
His Most Grateful
THE AUTHOR's PREFACE.
It having been objected to this tragedy, that its language is prose, and its catastrophe too horrible, I shall entreat the reader's patience for a minute, that I may say a word or two to these objections.
The play of the GAMESTER was intended to be a natural picture of that kind of life, of which all men are judges; and as it struck at a vice so universally prevailing, it was thought proper to adapt its language to the capacities and feelings of every part of the audience: that as some of its characters were of no higher rank than Sharpers, it was imagined that (whatever good company they may find admittance to in the world) their speaking blank verse upon the stage would be unnatural, if not ridiculous. But though the more elevated characters also speak prose, the judicious reader will observe, that it is a species of prose which differs very little from verse: in many of the most animated scenes, I can truly say that I often found it a much greater difficulty to avoid, than to write,
I shall only add, in answer to this objection, that I hoped to be more interesting, by being more natural; and the event, as far as I have been a witness of it, has more than answered my expectations.
As to the other objection, the horror of its catastrophe, if it be considered simply what that catastrophe is, and compared with those of other tragedies, I should humbly presume that the working it up to any uncommon degree of horror, is the merit of the play, and not its reproach. Nor should so prevailing and destructive a vice as Gaming be attacked upon the theatre, without impressing upon the imagination all the horrors that may attend it.
I shall detain the reader no longer than to inform him, that I am indebted for many of the most popular passages in this play to the inimitable performer, who, in the character of the Gamester, exceeded every idea I had conceived of it in the writing.
Scene, London. Time, about twenty-four hours.
G A M E S T E R,
ACT I. SCENE I. Beverley's Lodgings. Enter Mrs. BEVERLEY and CHARLOTTE. Mrs. Bev. Be comforted, my dear, all may be well yet. And now, methinks, the lodgings begin to look with another face. O sister! sister! if these were all my hardships; if all I had to complain of were no more than quitting my house, servants, equipage, and show, your pity would be weakness.
Char. Is poverty nothing, then?
While we had a fortune, I was the happiest of the rich; and now 'tis gone, give me but a bare subsistence, and my husband's smiles, and I'll be the happiest of the poor. To m2, now, these lodgings want nothing but their master. Why do you look at me?
Char. That I may blame my brother.
Chur. Has he not undone you?-Oh this pernicious rice of gaming! but methinks his usual hours of four or five in the morning might have contented him; 'twas misery enough to wake for him till then. Need he have staid out all night? I shall learn to reprove him!
Mrs. Bev. Not for the first fault. He never slept from me before.
Char. Slept from you! no, no, his nights have nothing to do with sleep. How has this one vice driven him from every virtue! nay, from his affections, too!--The time Mrs. Bev. And is. I have no fear of his affections, Would I knew that he were safe!
Char. From ruin and his companions-But that's impossible. His poor little boy, too! What must become of him?
Mrs. Bev. Why, want shall teach him industry. From his father's mistakes he shall learn prudence, and from his mother's resignation, patience. Poverty has no such terrors in it as you imagine. There's no condition of life, sickness and pain excepted, where happiness is excluded. The husbandman, who rises early to his labour, enjoysmore welcome rest at night for’t. His bread is sweeter to him; his home happier; his family dearer; his enjoyments surer. The sun that rouses him in the morning, sets in the evening to release him. All situations have their comforts, if sweet contentment dwell in the heart. But my poor Beverley has none. The thought of having ruin'd those he loves, is misery for ever to him. Would I could ease his mind of that!
Char. If he alone were ruin’d, 'twere just he should be punish’d. He is my brother, 'tis true; but when I think of what he has done; of the fortune you brought him; of his own large estate too, squander'd away upon this vilest of passions, and among the vilest of wretches! My own little fortune is untouch'd, he says.
Would I were sure on't.
Mrs. Bev. And so you may-you must not doubt it.
Char. I will be sure on't-'twas madness in me to give it to his management. But I'll demand it from him this morning. I have a melancholy occasion for't..
Mrs. Bev. What occasion?
Mrs. Bev. No, I have no need on't. Take it, and reward a lover with it. The generous Lewson deserves much more. Why won't you make him happy?
Char. Because my sister's miserable.
Mrs. Bev. You must not think so. I have my jewels left yet. I'll sell them to supply our wants; and when all's gone, these hands shall toil for our support. The poor should be industrious- Why those tears, Charlotte?