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The Constant Couple or, A Trip to the Jubilee   By: (1678?-1707)

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First Page:

THE CONSTANT COUPLE;

Or,

A Trip to the Jubilee;

A Comedy, in Five Acts;

by

GEORGE FARQUHAR, ESQ.

As Performed at the Theatres Royal, Drury Lane and Covent Garden.

Printed Under the Authority of the Managers from the Prompt Book.

With remarks by Mrs. Inchbald.

London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster Row.

William Savage, Printer, London.

REMARKS.

George Farquhar, the author of this comedy, was the son of a clergyman in the north of Ireland. He was born in the year 1678, discovered an early taste for literature, and wrote poetic stanzas at ten years of age.

In 1694 he was sent to Trinity College, Dublin, and there made such progress in his studies as to acquire considerable reputation. But he was volatile and poor the first misfortune led him to expense; the second, to devise means how to support his extravagance.

The theatre has peculiar charms for men of letters. Whether as a subject of admiration or animadversion, it is still a source of high amusement; and here Farquhar fixed his choice of a profession, in the united expectations of pleasure and of profit he appeared on the stage as an actor, and was disappointed of both.

The author of this licentious comedy is said to have possessed the advantages of person, manners, and elocution, to qualify him for an actor; but that he could never overcome his natural timidity. Courage is a whimsical virtue. It acts upon one man so as to make him expose his whole body to danger, whilst he dares not venture into the slightest peril one sentiment of his mind. Such is often the soldier's valour. Another trembles to expose his person either to a wound or to the eye of criticism, and yet will dare to publish every thought that ever found entrance into his imagination. Such is often the valour of a poet.

Farquhar, abashed on exhibiting his person upon the stage, sent boldly thither his most indecorous thoughts, and was rewarded for his audacity.

In the year 1700 he brought out this comedy of "The Constant Couple; or, A Trip to the Jubilee." It was then the Jubilee year at Rome, and the author took advantage of that occurrence to render the title of his drama popular; for which cause alone it must be supposed he made any thing in his play refer to that festival, as no one material point is in any shape connected with it.

At the time Farquhar was a performer, a sincere friendship was formed between him and Wilks, the celebrated fine gentleman of the stage for him, Farquhar wrote the character of Sir Harry Wildair; and Wilks, by the very admirable manner in which he supported the part, divided with the author those honours which the first appearance of the work obtained him.

As a proof that this famed actor's abilities, in the representation of the fine gentlemen of his day, were not over rated, no actor, since he quitted the stage, has been wholly successful in the performance of this character; and, from Wilks down to the present time, the part has only been supported, with celebrity, by women.

The noted Mrs. Woffington was highly extolled in Sir Harry; and Mrs. Jordan has been no less admired and attractive.

But it must be considered as a disgrace to the memory of the men of fashion, of the period in which Wildair was brought on the stage, that he has ever since been justly personated, by no other than the female sex. In this particular, at least, the present race of fashionable beaux cannot be said to have degenerated; for, happily, they can be represented by men.

The love story of Standard and Lurewell, in this play, is interesting to the reader, though, in action, an audience scarcely think of either of them; or of any one in the drama, with whom the hero is not positively concerned. Yet these two lovers, it would seem, love with all the usual ardour and constancy of gallants and mistresses in plays and novels unfortunately, with the same short memories too! Authors, and some who do not generally deal in wonders, often make persons, the most tenderly attached to each other, so easily forget the shape, the air, the every feature of the dear beloved, as to pass, after a few years separation, whole days together, without the least conjecture that each is the very object of the other's search! Whilst all this surprising forgetfulness possesses them, as to the figure, face, and mind of him or her whom they still adore, show either of them but a ring, a bracelet, a mole, a scar, and here remembrance instantly occupies its place, and both are immediately inspired with every sensation which first testified their mutual passion... Continue reading book >>




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