Several shabby Fellows with punch and tobacco. TONY at the head of the table, a little higher than the rest, a mallet in his hand.
OMNES: Hurrea! hurrea! hurrea! bravo!
First Fellow: Now, gentlemen, silence for a song. The 'squire is going to knock himself down for a song.
OMNES: Ay, a song, a song!
Tony: Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a song I made upon this alehouse, the Three Pigeons.
Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning,
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives GENUS a better discerning.
Let them brag of their heathenish gods,
Their Lethes, their Styxes, and Stygians,
Their Quis, and their Quaes, and their Quods,
They're all but a parcel of Pigeons.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
When methodist preachers come down,
A-preaching that drinking is sinful,
I'll wager the rascals a crown,
They always preach best with a skinful.
But when you come down with your pence,
For a slice of their scurvy religion,
I'll leave it to all men of sense,
But you, my good friend, are the Pigeon.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
Then come, put the jorum about,
And let us be merry and clever,
Our hearts and our liquors are stout,
Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever.
Let some cry up woodcock or hare,
Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons;
But of all the GAY birds in the air,
Here's a health to the Three Jolly Pigeons.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
OMNES: Bravo, bravo!
First Fellow: The 'squire has got spunk in him.
Second Fellow.: I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never gives us nothing that's low.
Third Fellow:O damn anything that's low, I cannot bear it.
Fourth Fellow: The genteel thing is the genteel thing any time: if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation accordingly.
Third Fellow:I likes the maxum of it, Master Muggins. What, though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear ever dances but to the very genteelest of tunes. Water Parted, or the minuet in Ariadne.
Second Fellow:What a pity it is the 'squire is not come to his own. It would be well for all the publicans within ten miles round of him.
Tony: Ecod, and so it would, Master Slang. I'd then show what it was to keep choice of company.
Second Fellow: O he takes after his own father for that. To be sure old 'Squire Lumpkin was the finest gentleman I ever set my eyes on. For winding the straight horn, or beating a thicket for a hare, or a wench, he never had his fellow. It was a saying in the place, that he kept the best horses, dogs, and girls, in the whole county.
Tony: Ecod, and when I'm of age, I'll be no bastard, I promise you. I have been thinking of Bet Bouncer and the miller's grey mare to begin with. But come, my boys, drink about and be merry, for you pay no reckoning. Well, Stingo, what's the matter?
Landlord: There be two gentlemen in a post-chaise at the door. They have lost their way upo' the forest; and they are talking something about Mr. Hardcastle.
Tony: As sure as can be, one of them must be the gentleman that's coming down to court my sister. Do they seem to be Londoners?
Landlord:I believe they may. They look woundily like Frenchmen.
Tony: Then desire them to step this way, and I'll set them right in a twinkling. (Exit Landlord) Gentlemen, as they mayn't be good enough company for you, step down for a moment, and I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon.
Tony: Father-in-law has been calling me whelp and hound this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged upon the old grumbletonian. But then I'm afraid—afraid of what? I shall soon be worth fifteen hundred a year, and let him frighten me out of that if he can.
Enter Landlord, conducting MARLOW and HASTINGS
Marlow: What a tedious uncomfortable day have we had of it! We were told it was but forty miles across the country, and we have come above threescore.
Hastings: And all, Marlow, from that unaccountable reserve of yours, that would not let us inquire more frequently on the way.
Marlow: I own, Hastings, I am unwilling to lay myself under an obligation to every one I meet, and often stand the chance of an unmannerly answer.
Hastings: At present, however, we are not likely to receive any answer.
Tony: No offence, gentlemen. But I'm told you have been inquiring for one Mr. Hardcastle in these parts. Do you know what part of the country you are in?
Hastings: Not in the least, sir, but should thank you for information.
Tony: Nor the way you came?
Hastings: No, sir: but if you can inform us——
Tony: Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I have to inform you is, that—you have lost your way.
Marlow: We wanted no ghost to tell us that.
Tony: Pray, gentlemen, may I be so bold so as to ask the place from whence you came?
Marlow: That's not necessary towards directing us where we are to go.
Tony: No offence; but question for question is all fair, you know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a cross-grained, old-fashioned, whimsical fellow, with an ugly face, a daughter, and a pretty son?
Hastings: We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the family you mention.
Tony: The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping, talkative maypole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable youth, that everybody is fond of.
Marlow: Our information differs in this. The daughter is said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother's apron-string.
Tony: He-he-hem!—Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you is, that you won't reach Mr. Hardcastle's house this night, I believe.
Tony: It's a damn'd long, dark, boggy, dirty, dangerous way. Stingo, tell the gentlemen the way to Mr. Hardcastle's! (Winking upon the Landlord.) Mr. Hardcastle's, of Quagmire Marsh, you understand me.
Landlord:Master Hardcastle's! Lock-a-daisy, my masters, you're come a deadly deal wrong! When you came to the bottom of the hill, you should have crossed down Squash Lane.
Marlow: Cross down Squash Lane!
Landlord:Then you were to keep straight forward, till you came to four roads.
Marlow: Come to where four roads meet?
Tony: Ay; but you must be sure to take only one of them.
Marlow: O, sir, you're facetious.
Tony: Then keeping to the right, you are to go sideways till you come upon Crackskull Common: there you must look sharp for the track of the wheel, and go forward till you come to farmer Murrain's barn. Coming to the farmer's barn, you are to turn to the right, and then to the left, and then to the right about again, till you find out the old mill—
Marlow: Zounds, man! we could as soon find out the longitude!
Hastings: What's to be done, Marlow?
Marlow: This house promises but a poor reception; though perhaps the landlord can accommodate us.
Landlord: Alack, master, we have but one spare bed in the whole house.
Tony: And to my knowledge, that's taken up by three lodgers already. (After a pause, in which the rest seem disconcerted.) I have hit it. Don't you think, Stingo, our landlady could accommodate the gentlemen by the fire-side, with——three chairs and a bolster?
Hastings: I hate sleeping by the fire-side.
Marlow: And I detest your three chairs and a bolster.
Tony: You do, do you? then, let me see—what if you go on a mile further, to the Buck's Head; the old Buck's Head on the hill, one of the best inns in the whole county?
Hastings: O ho! so we have escaped an adventure for this night, however.
Landlord:(apart to TONY). Sure, you ben't sending them to your father's as an inn, be you?
Tony: Mum, you fool you. Let them find that out. (To them.) You have only to keep on straight forward, till you come to a large old house by the road side. You'll see a pair of large horns over the door. That's the sign. Drive up the yard, and call stoutly about you.
Hastings: Sir, we are obliged to you. The servants can't miss the way?
Tony: No, no: but I tell you, though, the landlord is rich, and going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, saving your presence, he! he! he! He'll be for giving you his company; and, ecod, if you mind him, he'll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of peace.
Landlord: A troublesome old blade, to be sure; but a keeps as good wines and beds as any in the whole country.
Marlow: Well, if he supplies us with these, we shall want no farther connexion. We are to turn to the right, did you say?
Tony: No, no; straight forward. I'll just step myself, and show you a piece of the way. (To the Landlord.) Mum!
Landlord: Ah, bless your heart, for a sweet, pleasant—damn'd mischievous son of a whore.
End Of The First Act