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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Pawnbroker's Daughter, A Farce - Act 1 - Scene 2
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The Pawnbroker's Daughter, A Farce - Act 1 - Scene 2 Post by :mindout Category :Plays Author :Charles Lamb Date :May 2012 Read :3467

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The Pawnbroker's Daughter, A Farce - Act 1 - Scene 2

ACT I - SCENE II

SCENE II.--A Butcher's Shop.


(CUTLET. BEN.)


CUTLET
Reach me down that book off the shelf, where the shoulder of veal hangs.

BEN

Is this it?

CUTLET
No--this is "Flowers of Sentiment"--the other--aye, this is a good book. "An Argument against the Use of Animal Food. By J.R." _That means Joseph Ritson. I will open it anywhere, and read just as it happens. One cannot dip amiss in such books as these. The motto, I see, is from Pope. I dare say, very much to the purpose.

(Reads.)

"The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he sport and play?
Pleas'd to the last, he crops his flowery food,
And licks the hand"--

Bless us, is that saddle of mutton gone home to Mrs. Simpson's? It should have gone an hour ago.

BEN
I was just going with it.

CUTLET
Well go. Where was I? Oh!

"And licks the hand just raised to shed its blood."

What an affecting picture!

(turns over the leaves, and reads).

"It is probable that the long lives which are recorded of the people before the flood, were owing to their being confined to a vegetable diet."

BEN
The young gentleman in Pullen's Row, Islington, that has got the consumption, has sent to know if you can let him have a sweetbread.

CUTLET
Take two,--take all that are in the shop. What a disagreeable interruption!

(reads again)

"Those fierce and angry passions, which impel man to wage destructive war with man, may be traced to the ferment in the blood produced by an animal diet."

BEN
The two pound of rump-steaks must go home to Mr. Molyneux's. He is in training to fight Cribb.

CUTLET
Well, take them; go along, and do not trouble me with your disgusting
details.

(Exit Ben.)

CUTLET
(Throwing down the book.)

Why was I bred to this detestable business? Was it not plain, that this trembling sensibility, which has marked my character from earliest infancy, must for ever disqualify me for a profession which--what do ye want? what do ye buy? O, it is only somebody going past. I thought it had been a customer.--Why was not I bred a glover, like my cousin Langston? to see him poke his two little sticks into a delicate pair of real Woodstock--"A very little stretching ma'am, and they will fit exactly"--Or a haberdasher, like my next-door neighbour--"not a better bit of lace in all town, my lady--Mrs. Breakstock took the last of it last Friday, all but this bit, which I can afford to let your ladyship have a bargain--reach down that drawer on your left hand, Miss Fisher."

(Enter in haste, Davenport, Marian, and Lucy.)

LUCY
This is the house I saw a bill up at, ma'am; and a droll creature the landlord is.

DAVENPORT
We have no time for nicety.

CUTLET
What do ye want? what do ye buy? O, it is only you, Mrs. Lucy.

(Lucy whispers Cutlet.)

CUTLET
I have a set of apartments at the end of my garden. They are quite detached from the shop. A single lady at present occupies the ground floor.

MARIAN
Aye, aye, any where.

DAVENPORT
In, in.--

CUTLET
Pretty lamb,--she seems agitated.

(Davenport and Marian go in with Cutlet.)

LUCY
I am mistaken if my young lady does not find an agreeable companion in these apartments. Almost a namesake. Only the difference of Flyn, and Flint. I have some errands to do, or I would stop and have some fun with this droll butcher.

(Cutlet returns.)

CUTLET
Why, how odd this is! Your young lady knows _my young lady. They are as thick as flies.

LUCY
You may thank me for your new lodger, Mr. Cutlet.--But bless me, you do not look well?

CUTLET
To tell you the truth, I am rather heavy about the eyes. Want of sleep, I believe.

LUCY
Late hours, perhaps. Raking last night.

CUTLET
No, that is not it, Mrs. Lucy. My repose was disturbed by a very different cause from what you may imagine. It proceeded from too much thinking.

LUCY
The deuce it did! and what, if I may be so bold, might be the subject of your Night Thoughts?

CUTLET
The distresses of my fellow creatures. I never lay my head down on my pillow, but I fall a thinking, how many at this very instant are perishing. Some with cold--

LUCY
What, in the midst of summer?

CUTLET
Aye. Not here, but in countries abroad, where the climate is different from ours. Our summers are their winters, and _vice versa_, you know. Some with cold--

LUCY
What a canting rogue it is! I should like to trump up some fine story to plague him.

(_Aside._)

CUTLET
Others with hunger--some a prey to the rage of wild beasts--

LUCY
He has got this by rote, out of some book.

CUTLET
Some drowning, crossing crazy bridges in the dark--some by the violence of the devouring flame--

LUCY
I have it.--For that matter, you need not send your humanity a travelling, Mr. Cutlet. For instance, last night--

CUTLET
Some by fevers, some by gun-shot wounds--

LUCY
Only two streets off--

CUTLET
Some in drunken quarrels--

LUCY
(Aloud.)
The butcher's shop at the corner.

CUTLET
What were you saying about poor Cleaver?

LUCY
He has found his ears at last. (_Aside._) That he has had his house burnt down.

CUTLET
Bless me!

LUCY
I saw four small children taken in at the green grocer's.

CUTLET
Do you know if he is insured?

LUCY
Some say he is, but not to the full amount.

CUTLET
Not to the full amount--how shocking! He killed more meat than any of the trade between here and Carnaby market--and the poor babes--four of them you say--what a melting sight!--he served some good customers about Marybone--I always think more of the children in these cases than of the fathers and mothers--Lady Lovebrown liked his veal better than any man's in the market--I wonder whether her ladyship is engaged--I must go and comfort poor Cleaver, however.

(Exit.)

LUCY
Now is this pretender to humanity gone to avail himself of a neighbour's supposed ruin to inveigle his customers from him. Fine feelings!--pshaw!

(Exit.)

(Re-enter Cutlet.)

CUTLET
What a deceitful young hussey! there is not a word of truth in her. There has been no fire. How can people play with one's feelings so!--(_sings_)--"For tenderness formed"--No, I'll try the air I made upon myself. The words may compose me--(_sings_).

A weeping Londoner I am,
A washer-woman was my dam;
She bred me up in a cock-loft,
And fed my mind with sorrows soft:

For when she wrung with elbows stout
From linen wet the water out,--
The drops so like to tears did drip,
They gave my infant nerves the hyp.

Scarce three clean muckingers a week
Would dry the brine that dew'd my cheek:
So, while I gave my sorrows scope,
I almost ruin'd her in soap.

My parish learning I did win
In ward of Farringdon-Within;
Where, after school, I did pursue
My sports, as little boys will do.

Cockchafers--none like me was found
To set them spinning round and round.
O, how my tender heart would melt,
To think what those poor varmin felt!

I never tied tin-kettle, clog,
Or salt-box to the tail of dog,
Without a pang more keen at heart,
Than he felt at his outward part.

And when the poor thing clattered off,
To all the unfeeling mob a scoff,
Thought I, "What that dumb creature feels,
With half the parish at his heels!"

Arrived, you see, to man's estate,
The butcher's calling is my fate;
Yet still I keep my feeling ways.
And leave the town on slaughtering days.

At Kentish Town, or Highgate Hill,
I sit, retired, beside some rill;
And tears bedew my glistening eye,
To think my playful lambs must die!

But when they're dead I sell their meat,
On shambles kept both clean and neat;
Sweet-breads also I guard full well,
And keep them from the blue-bottle.

Envy, with breath sharp as my steel,
Has ne'er yet blown upon my veal;
And mouths of dames, and daintiest fops,
Do water at my nice lamb-chops.


(Exit, half laughing, half crying.)

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