Scene, PEACHUM's House.
sitting at a Table with a large Book of Accounts
Air I.—An old Woman clothed in Gray, &c.
Through all the Employments of Life
Each Neighbour abuses his Brother;
Whore and Rogue they call Husband and Wife:
All Professions be-rogue one another:
The Priest calls the Lawyer a Cheat,
The Lawyer be-knaves the Divine:
And the Statesman, because he's so great,
Thinks his Trade as honest as mine.
A Lawyer is an honest Employment, so is mine. Like me too he acts in a
double Capacity, both against Rogues and for 'em; for 'tis but fitting that
we should protect and encourage Cheats, since we live by them.
Sir, Black Moll hath sent word her Trial comes on in the
Afternoon, and she hopes you will order Matters so as to bring her off.
Why, she may pl
ead her Belly4
at worst; to my Knowledge she
hath taken care of that Security. But, as the Wench is very active and
industrious, you may satisfy her that I'll soften the Evidence.
Tom Gagg, sir, is found guilty.
A lazy Dog! When I took him the time
before, I told him what he would come to if he did not mend his Hand.
This is Death without Reprieve. I may venture to Book him5
For Tom Gagg, forty
Pounds. Let Betty Sly know that I'll save her from Transportation6
, for I can get more by her staying in England.
Betty hath brought more goods into our
to-year than any five of the Gang; and in truth,
'tis a pity to lose so good a Customer.
If none of the Gang take her off, she
may, in the common course of Business, live a Twelve-month longer. I
love to let Women scape. A good Sportsman always lets the Hen
Partridges fly, because the Breed of the Game depends upon them.
Besides, here the Law allows us no Reward; there is nothing to be got
by the Death of Women—except our Wives.
Without dispute, she is a fine Woman! 'Twas
to her I was obliged for my Education8
, and (to say a
bold Word) she hath trained up more young fellows to the Business than
the Gaming table.
Truly, Filch, thy Observation is right.
We and the Surgeons are more beholden to Women than all the
Air II.—The bonny gray-ey'd Morn, &c.
'Tis Woman that seduces all Mankind,
her we first were taught the wheedling Arts:
Her very Eyes can
cheat; when most she's kind,
She tricks us of our Money with our
For her, like Wolves by Night we roam for Prey,
practise ev'ry Fraud, to bribe her Charms;
For suits of Love, like
Law, are won by Pay,
And Beauty must be fee'd into our Arms.
But make haste to Newgate9
Boy, and let my Friends know what I intend; for I love to make them
easy one way or other.
When a Gentleman is long kept in suspence,
Penitence may break his Spirit ever after. Besides, Certainty gives a
Man a good Air upon his Trial, and makes him risque another without
Fear or Scruple. But I'll away, for 'tis a Pleasure to be the
Messenger of Comfort to Friends in Affliction.
But 'tis now high time to look about me
for a decent Execution against next Sessions10
. I hate a
lazy Rogue, by whom one can get nothing 'till he is hang'd. A Register
of the Gang, Reading
Crook-finger'd Jack. A
Year and a half in the service; Let me see how much the Stock owes to
his Industry; one, two, three, four, five Gold Watches, and seven
Silver ones. A mighty clean-handed Fellow! Sixteen Snuff-boxes, five
of them of true Gold. Six Dozen of Handkerchiefs, four silver-hilted
Swords, half Dozen of Shirts, three Tye-Periwigs11
a piece of Broad-Cloth. Considering these are only the Fruits of his
leisure Hours, I don't know a prettier Fellow, for no Man alive hath a
more engaging Presence of Mind upon the Road. Wat Dreary, alias Brown
Will, an irregular Dog, who hath an underhand way of disposing of his
Goods. I'll try him only for a Sessions or two longer upon his
Good-behaviour. Harry Padington, a poor petty-larceny Rascal, without
the least Genius; that Fellow, though he were to live these six
Months, will never come to the Gallows with any Credit. Slippery Sam;
he goes off the next Sessions, for the Villain hath the Impudence to
have Views of Following his Trade as a Tailor, which he calls an
honest Employment. Mat of the Mint; listed not above a Month ago, a
promising sturdy Fellow, and diligent in his way; somewhat too bold
and hasty, and may raise good Contributions on the Public, if he does
not cut himself short by Murder. Tom Tipple, a guzzling soaking Sot,
who is always too drunk to stand himself, or to make others stand. A
is absolutely necessary for him. Robin of
, alias Gorgon, alias Bob Bluff, alias
Carbuncle, alias Bob Booty.
PEACHUM, MRS. PEACHUM.
What of Bob Booty, Husband? I hope
nothing bad hath betided him. You know, my Dear, he's a favourite
Customer of mine. 'Twas he made me a present of this Ring.
I have set his Name down in the Black
List, that's all, my Dear; he spends his Life among Women, and as soon
as his Money is gone, one or other of the Ladies will hang him for the
Reward, and there's forty Pounds lost to us for-ever.
You know, my Dear, I never meddle in
matters of Death; I always leave those Affairs to you. Women indeed
are bitter bad Judges in these cases, for they are so partial to the
Brave that they think every Man handsome who is going to the Camp14
or the Gallows.
Air III.—Cold and raw, &c.
If any Wench Venus's Girdle15
Though she be never so ugly;
Lilies and Roses will quickly appear,
And her Face look wond'rously smugly.
Beneath the left Ear so fit but a Cord,
(A Rope so charming a a Zone is!)
The Youth in his Cart hath the Air of a Lord,
And we cry, There goes an Adonis16
But really Husband, you should not be too hard-hearted, for you never had a
finer, braver set of Men than at present. We have not had a Murder among
them all, these seven Months. And truly, my Dear, that is a great Blessing.
What a dickens is the Woman always a
whimpring about Murder for? No Gentleman is ever look'd upon the
worse for killing a Man in his own Defense; and if Business cannot be
carried on without it, what would you have a Gentleman do?
If I am in the wrong, my Dear, you
must excuse me, for no body can help the Frailty of an over-scrupulous
Murder is as fashionable a Crime as a Man
can be guilty of. How many fine Gentlemen have we in Newgate every
Year, purely upon that Article! If they have wherewithal to persuade
the Jury to bring it in Manslaughter, what are they the worse for it?
So, my Dear, have done upon this Subject. Was Captain Macheath here
this Morning for the Bank-Notes17
he left with you last
Yes, my Dear; and though the Bank
hath stopt Payment, he was so cheerful and so agreeable! Sure there is
not a finer Gentleman upon the Road than the Captain! If he comes from
at any reasonable Hour, he hath promis'd to
make one this Evening with Polly and me, and Bob Booty at a party of
. Pray, my dear, is the Captain rich?
The Captain keeps too good Company ever
to grow rich. Mary-bone20
and the Chocolate-houses21
are his undoing. The Man that proposes to get Money by
Play should have the Education of a fine Gentleman, and be train'd up
to it from his Youth.
Really, I am sorry upon Polly's
Account the Captain hath not more Discretion. What Business hath he to
keep Company with Lords and Gentlemen? he should leave them to prey
upon one another.
Upon Polly's Account! What a plague does
the Woman mean?——Upon Polly's Account!
Captain Macheath is very fond of the
And what then?
If I have any Skill in the Ways of
Women, I am sure Polly thinks him a very pretty Man.
And what then? You would not be so mad as
to have the Wench marry him! Gamesters and Highwaymen are generally
very good to their Whores, but they are very Devils to their Wives.
But if Polly should be in Love, how
should we help her, or how can she help herself? Poor Girl, I am in
the utmost Concern about her.
Air IV.—Why is your faithful Slave disdained?
If Love the Virgin's Heart invade,
How, like a Moth, the simple Maid
Still plays about the Flame!
If soon she be not made a Wife,
Her Honour's sing'd, and then for Life
She's—what I dare not name.
Look ye, Wife. A handsome Wench in our
way of Business is a profitable as at the Bar of a Temple
, who looks upon it as her livelihood to
grant every Liberty but one. You see I would not indulge the Girl as
far as prudently we can. In anything, but Marriage! After that, my
Dear, how shall we be safe? Are we not then in her Husband's Power?
For a Husband hath the absolute Power over all a Wife's Secrets but
her own. If the Girl had the Discretion of a Court-Lady, who can have
a Dozen young Fellows at her Ear without complying with one, I should
not matter it; but Polly is Tinder, and a Spark will at once set her
on a Flame. Married! If the Wench does not know her own Profit, sure
she knows her own Pleasure better than to make herself a Property! My
Daughter to me should be, like a Court-Lady to a Minister of State, a
Key to the whole Gang. Married! If the Affair is not already done,
I'll terrify her from it, by the Example of our Neighbours.
May-hap, my Dear, you may injure the
Girl. She loves to imitate the fine Ladies, and she may only allow the
Captain liberties in the view of Interest.
But 'tis your Duty, your Duty, my Dear,
to warn the Girl against her Ruin, and to instruct her how to make the
most of her Beauty. I'll go to her this moment, and sift her. In the
mean time, Wife, rip out the Coronets and Marks of these Dozen of
Handkerchiefs, for I can dispose of them this
Afternoon to a Chap24
in the City.
Never was a Man more out of the way
in an Argument than my Husband? Why must our Polly, forsooth, differ
from her Sex, and love only her Husband? And why must Polly's
Marriage, contrary to all Observation, make her the less followed by
other Men? All Men are Thieves in Love, and like a Woman the better
for being another's Property. Air V.—Of all
the simple Things we do, &c.
A Maid is like the Golden
Which hath Guineas25
Worth is never known, before
It is try'd and imprest in the Mint.
A wife's like a Guinea in Gold,
Stampt with the Name of her
Now here, now there; is bought, or is sold;
current in every House.
MRS. PEACHUM, FILCH.
Come here, Filch. I am as fond of
the Child, as though my Mind misgave me he were my own. He hath as
fine a Hand at picking a Pocket as a Woman, and is as nimble-finger'd
as a Juggler. If an unlucky Session does not cut the Rope of thy Life,
I pronounce, Boy, thou wilt be a great Man in History. Where was your
Post last Night, my Boy?
I ply'd at the Opera, Madam; and
considering 'twas neither dark nor rainy, so that there was no great
Hurry in getting Chairs and Coaches, made a tolerable Hand on't. These
seven Handkerchiefs, Madam.
Colour'd ones, I see. They are of
sure Sale from our Warehouse at Redriff26
And this Snuff-box.
Set in Gold! A pretty Encouragement
this to a young Beginner.
I had a fair Tug at charming Gold Watch.
Pox take the Tailors for making the Fobs27
so deep and
narrow! It stuck by the way, and I was forc'd to make my Escape under
a Coach. Really, Madam, I fear I shall be cut off in the Flower of my
Youth, so that every now and then (since I was pumpt)28
I have Thoughts of taking up and going to Sea.
You should go to Hockley in the
, and to Mary-bone, Child, to learn Valour. These
are the Schools that have bred so many brave Men. I thought, Boy, by
this time thou hadst lost Fear as well as Shame. Poor Lad! how little
does he know yet of the Old Baily30
! For the first Fact
I'll insure thee from being hang'd; and going to Sea, Filch, will come
time enough upon a Sentence of Transportation. But now, since you have
nothing better to do, ev'n go to your Book, and learn your Catechism;
for really a Man makes but an ill Figure in the Ordinary's Paper31
, who cannot give a satisfactory Answer to his Questions.
But hark you, my Lad. Don't tell me a Lye; for you know that I hate a
Liar. Do you know of anything that hath pass'd between Captain
Macheath and our Polly?
I beg you, Madam, don't ask me; for I must
either tell a Lye to you or to Miss Polly; for I promis'd her I would
But when the Honour of our Family is
I shall lead a sad Life with Miss Polly, if
she ever comes to know that I told you. Besides, I would not willingly
forfeit my own Honour by betraying any body.
Yonder comes my Husband and Polly.
Come, Filch, you shall go with me into my own Room, and tell me the
whole Story. I'll give thee a most delicious Glass of a Cordial that I
keep for my own drinking.
I know as well as any of the fine Ladies
how to make the most of myself and of my Man too. A Woman knows how to
be mercenary, though she hath never been in a Court or at an Assembly.
We have it in our Natures, Papa. If I allow Captain Macheath some
trifling Liberties, I have this Watch and other visible Marks of his
Favour to show for it. A Girl who cannot grant some Things, and refuse
what is most material, will make but a poor hand of her Beauty, and
soon be thrown upon the Common.
Air VI.—What shall I do to show how much I
love her, &c.
Virgins are like the fair Flower in its Lustre,
Which in the Garden enamels the Ground;
Near it the Bees in play flutter and cluster,
And gaudy Butterflies frolick around.
But, when once pluck'd, 'tis no longer alluring,
'tis sent (as yet sweet),
There fades, and shrinks, and grows past all enduring
Rots, stinks, and dies, and is trod under feet.
You know, Polly, I am not against your
toying and trifling with a Customer in the way of Business, or to get
out a Secret, or so. But if I find out that you have play'd the Fool
and are married, you Jade you, I'll cut your Throat, Hussy. Now you
know my Mind.
PEACHUM, POLLY, MRS. PEACHUM.
Air VII.—Oh London is a fine Town.
in a very great
Our Polly is a sad Slut! nor heeds what we have
I wonder any Man alive will ever rear a Daughter!
For she must have both Hoods and Gowns, and Hoops to swell her
With Scarfs and Stays, and Gloves and Lace; and she will
have Men beside;
And when she's drest with Care and Cost, all
tempting, fine and gay,
As Men should serve a Cowcumber, she flings
Our Polly is a sad slut, &c.
you Hussy! you inconsiderate Jade! had you been hang'd, it would not
have vex'd me, for that might have been your Misfortune; but to do
such a mad thing by Choice! The Wench is married, Husband.
Married! the Captain is a bold Man, and
will risk anything for Money; to be sure he believes her a Fortune. Do
you think your Mother and I should have liv'd comfortably so long
together, if ever we had been married? Baggage!
I knew she was always a proud Slut;
and now the Wench hath play'd the Fool and Married, because forsooth
she would do like the Gentry. Can you support the Expence of a
Husband, Hussy, in Gaming, Drinking and Whoring? Have you Money enough
to carry on the daily Quarrels of Man and Wife about who shall
squander most? There are not many Husbands and Wives, who can bear the
Charges of plaguing one another in a handsome way. If you must be
married, could you introduce no body into our Family but a Highwayman?
Why, thou foolish Jade, thou wilt be as ill-used, and as much
neglected, as if thou hadst married a Lord!
Let not your Anger, my Dear, break
through the Rules of Decency, for the Captain looks upon himself in
the Military Capacity, as a Gentleman by his Profession. Besides what
he hath already, I know he is in a fair way of getting, or of dying;
and both these ways, let me tell you, are most excellent Chances for a
Wife. Tell me, Hussy, are you ruin'd or no?
With Polly's Fortune, she might very
well have gone off to a Person of Distinction. Yes, that you might,
you pouting Slut!
What is the Wench dumb? Speak, or I'll
make you plead by squeezing out an Answer from you. Are really bound
Wife to him, or are you only upon liking? Pinches
How the Mother is to be pitied who
has handsome Daughters! Lock, Bolts, Bars, and Lectures of Morality
are nothing to them: They break through them all. They have as much
Pleasure in cheating a Father and Mother, as in cheating at Cards.
Why, Polly, I shall soon know if you are
married, by Macheath's keeping form our House.
Air VIII.—Grim King
of the Ghosts, &c.
Can Love be control'd by Advice?
Will Cupid our Mothers obey?
Though my Heart were as frozen as
At his Flame 'twould have melted away.
When he kist
me so closely he prest,
'Twas so sweet that I must have comply'd;
So I thought it both safest and best
To marry, for fear you
Then all the Hopes of our Family are
gone for ever and ever!
And Macheath may hang his Father and
Mother-in-law, in hope to get into their Daughter's Fortune.
I did not marry him (as 'tis the Fashion)
coolly and deliberately for Honour or Money. But, I love him.
Love him! worse and worse! I thought
the Girl had been better bred. Oh, Husband, Husband! her Folly makes
me mad! my Head swims! I'm distracted! I can't support
See, Wench, to what a Condition you have
reduc'd your poor Mother! a glass of Cordial, this instant. How the
poor Woman takes it to heart! Polly goes out, and
returns with it. Ah, Hussy, this is now the only Comfort your
Mother has left!
Give her another Glass, Sir! my Mama drinks
double the Quantity whenever she is out of Order. This, you see,
The Girl shows such a Readiness, and
so much Concern, that I could almost find it in my Heart to forgive
her. Air IX.—O Jenny, O Jenny where hast
O Polly, you might have toy'd and kist.
keeping Men off, you keep them on.
But he so teaz'd me,
And he so pleas'd
What I did, you must have done.
Not with a
Highwayman.——You sorry Slut!
A Word with you, Wife. 'Tis no new thing
for a Wench to take a Man without Consent of Parents. You know 'tis
the Frailty of Woman, my Dear.
Yes, indeed, the Sex is frail. But
the first time a Woman is frail, she should be somewhat nice methinks,
for then or never is the time to make her Fortune. After that, she
hath nothing to do but to guard herself from being found out, and she
may do what she pleases.
Make yourself a little easy; I have a
Thought shall soon set all MAtters again to rights. Why so melancholy,
Polly? since what is done cannot be undone, we must all endeavour to
make the best of it.
Well, Polly; as far as one Woman can
forgive another, I forgive thee.——Your Father is too fond
of you, Hussy.
Then all my Sorrows are at an end.
A mighty likely Speech in troth, for
a Wench who is just married!
I cannot, &c.
I, like a Ship in Storms, was tost;
Yet afraid to put in to Land:
For seiz'd in the Port the
Whose Treasure is contreband.
The Waves are
My Duty's paid.
O joy beyond Expression!
I ask no more,
My All is in my Possession.
I hear Customers in t'other Room: Go,
talk with 'em, Polly; but come to us again, as soon as they are
gone——But, hark ye, Child, if 'tis the Gentleman who was
here Yesterday about the Repeating Watch33
; say you
believe we can't get Intelligence of it till to-morrow. For I lent it
to Suky Straddle, to make a figure with it to-night at a Tavern in
. If t'other Gentleman calls for the
Silver-hilted Sword; you know Beetle-brow'd Jemmy hath it on, and he
doth not come from Tunbridge35
'till Tuesday Night; so
that it cannot be had 'till then.
PEACHUM, MRS. PEACHUM.
Dear Wife, be a little pacified, Don't
let your Passion run away with your Senses. Polly, I grant you, hath
done a rash thing.
If she had had only an Intrigue with
the Fellow, why the very best Families have excused and huddled up a
Frailty of that sort. 'Tis Marriage, Husband, that makes it a
But Money, Wife, is the true
for Reputations, there is not a Spot or
a Stain but what it can take out. A rich Rogue now-a-days is fit
Company for any Gentleman; and the World, my Dear, hath not such a
contempt for Roguery as you imagine. I tell you, Wife, I can make this
Match turn to our Advantage.
I am very sensible, Husband, that
Captain Macheath is worth Money, but I am in doubt whether he hath not
two or three Wives already, and then if he should die in a Session or
two, Polly's Dower would come into a Dispute.
That, indeed, is a Point which ought to
be consider'd. Air XI.—A Soldier and a
A Fox may steal your Hens, Sir,
A Whore your
Health and Pence, Sir,
Your Daughter rob your Chest, Sir,
Wife may steal your Rest, Sir.
A Thief your Goods and Plate37
But this is all but picking38
Rest, Pence, Chest and Chicken;
It ever was decreed, Sir,
Lawyer's Hand is fee'd, Sir,
He steals your whole Estate.
Lawyers are bitter Enemies to those in our Way. They don't care that
any body should get a clandestine Livelihood but themselves.
PEACHUM, PEACHUM, POLLY.
'Twas only Nimming Ned. He brought in a
Damask Window-Curtain, a Hoop-Petticoat, a pair of Silver
Candlesticks, and one Silk Stocking, from the Fire that happen'd last
There is not a Fellow that is cleverer in
his way, and saves more Goods out of the Fire than Ned. But now,
Polly, to your Affair; for Matters must be left as they are. You are
married, then, it seems?
And how do you propose to live, Child?
Like other Women, Sir, upon the Industry of
What, is the Wench turn'd Fool? A
Highwayman's Wife, like a Soldier's, hath as little of his Pay, as of
And had not you the common Views of a
Gentlewoman in your Marriage, Polly?
I don't know what you mean, Sir.
Of a Jointure39
, and of
being a Widow.
But I love him, Sir; how then could I have
Thoughts of parting with him?
Parting with him! Why, this is the whole
Scheme and Intention of all Marriage Articles. The comfortable Estate
of Widow-hood, is the only Hope that keeps up a Wife's Spirits. Where
is the Woman who would scruple to be a Wife, if she had it in her
Power to be a Widow, whenever she pleas'd? If you have any Views of
this sort, Polly, I shall think the Match not so very unreasonable.
How I dread to hear your Advice! Yet I must
beg you to explain yourself.
Secure what he hath got, have him peach'd
the next Sessions, and then at once you are made a rich Widow.
What, murder the Man I love! The Blood runs
cold at my Heart with the very Thought of it!
Fie, Polly! What hath Murder to do in the
Affair? Since the thing sooner or later must happen, I dare say, the
Captain himself would like rather that we should get the Reward for
his Death sooner than a Stranger. Why, Polly, the Captain knows that
as 'tis his Employment to rob, so 'tis ours to take Robbers; every Man
in his Business. So there is no Malice in the case.
Ay, Husband, now you have nick'd the
Matter. To have him peach'd40
is the only thing could
ever make me forgive her.
ponder well, ye Parents dear.
O ponder well! be not severe:
So save a
For on the Rope that hangs my Dear
But your Duty to your Parents,
Hussy, obliges you to hang him. What would many a Wife give for such
What is a Jointure, what is Widow-hood to
me? I know my heart. I cannot survive him. Air
XIII.—Le printemps rappelle aux armes.
thus with plaintive Crying,
Her Lover dying,
The Turtle thus
with plaintive Crying,
Laments her Dove.
Down she drops quite
spent with Sighing
Pair'd in Death, as pair'd in Love.
Sir, it will happen to your poor Polly.
What, is the Fool in Love in earnest
then? I hate thee for being particular: Why Wench, thou art a Shame to
they very Sex.
But hear me, Mother.——If you
Those cursed Play-Books41
she reads have been her Ruin. One Word more, Hussy, and I
shall knock your Brains out, if you have any.
Keep out of the way, Polly, for fear of
Mischief, and consider what is propos'd to you.
Away, Hussy. Hang your Husband, and
MRS. PEACHUM, PEACHUM.
The Thing, Husband, must and shall
be done. For the sake of Intelligence we must take other Measures, and
have him peach'd the next Session without her Consent. If she will not
know her Duty, we know ours.
But really, my Dear, it grieves one's
Heart to take off a great Man. When I consider his Personal Bravery,
his fine Strategem42
, how much we have already got by
him, and how much more we may get, methinks I can't find it in my
Heart to have a hand in his Death. I wish you could have made Polly
But in a Case of
Necessity——our own Lives are in danger.
Then, indeed, we must comply with the
Customs of the World, and make Gratitude give way to
Interest.——He shall be taken off.
I'll undertake to manage Polly.
And I'll prepare Matters for the Old
Now I'm a Wretch,
indeed.——Methinks I see him already in the Cart, sweeter
and more lovely than the Nosegay in his Hand!——I hear the
Crowd extolling his Resolution and Intrepidity!——What
Vollies of Sighs are sent from the Windows of Holborn43
that so comely a Youth should be brought to Disgrace!—I see him
at the Tree! The whole Circle are in Tears!——even Butchers
himself hesitates to
perform his Duty, and would be glad to lose his Fee, by a Reprieve.
What then will become of Polly!——As yet I may inform him
of their Design, and aid him in hisEscape.——It shall be
so——But then he flies, absents himself, and I bar myself
from his dear Conversation! That too will distract me.——If
he keep out of the way, my Papa and Mama may in time relent, and we
may be happy.— —If he stays, he is hang'd, and then he is
lost for ever!——He intended to lie conceal'd in my Room,
'till the Dusk of the Evening: If they are abroad, I'll this Instant
let him out, lest some Accident should prevent him.
Exit, and returns.
Air XIV.—Pretty Parrot, say——
Pretty Polly, say,
When I was away,
Did your Fancy never stray
To some newer Lover?
My constant Heart discover,
Fondly let me loll!
O pretty, pretty Poll.
And are you as fond as ever, my Dear?
Suspect my Honour, my Courage, suspect
any thing but my Love.— —May my Pistols miss Fire45
, and my Mare slip her Shoulder46
while I am
pursu'd, if I ever forsake thee!=
Nay, my Dear, I have no Reason to doubt
you, for I find in the Romance you lent me, none of the great Heroes
were ever false in Love.
Air XV.—Pray, Fair one, be kind——
My Heart was so free,
It rov'd like
'Till Polly my Passion requited;
I sipt each Flower,
I chang'd ev'ry Hour,
But here ev'ry Flow'r is united.
Were you sentenc'd to Transportation, sure,
my Dear, you could not leave me behind you——could you?
Is there any Power, any Force that could
tear me from thee? You might sooner tear a Pension out of the hands of
a Courtier, a Fee from a Lawyer, a pretty Woman from a Looking-glass,
or any Woman from Quadrille.— —But to tear me from thee is
impossible! Air XVI.—Over the Hills and far
Were I laid on Greenland's Coast,
And in my Arms embrac'd my Lass;
Warm amidst eternal Frost,
Too soon the Half Year's Night would pass
Were I sold on Indian Soil,
Soon as the
burning Day was clos'd,
I could mock the sultry Toil
When on my
Charmer's Breast repos'd.
And I would love you all the Day,
Every Night would kiss and play,
If with me you'd fondly stray
Over the Hills and far away.
Yes, I would go with thee. But
oh!——how shall I speak it? I must be torn from thee. We
We must, we must.——My Papa and
Mama are set against thy Life. They now, even now are in Search after
thee. They are preparing Evidence against thee. Thy Life depends upon
Air XVII.—Gin thou wert mine awn thing.——
Oh What pain it is to part!
Can I leave thee, can I leave thee?
O what pain it is to part!
Can thy Polly ever leave thee?
But lest Death my Love should thwart,
And bring thee from my bleeding Heart!
Fly hence, and let me leave thee.
One Kiss and then—one Kiss—begone—farewell.
My Hand, my Heart, my Dear, is so
riveted to thine, that I cannot unloose my Hold.
But my Papa may intercept thee, and then I
should lose the very glimmering of Hope. A few Weeks, perhaps, may
reconcile us all. Shall thy Polly hear from thee?
Must I then go?
And will not Absence change your Love?
If you doubt it, let me stay—and
O how I fear! how I
tremble!——Go——but when Safety will give you
leave, you will be sure to see me again; for 'till then Polly is
Air XVII.—O the Broom, &c.
Parting, and looking back at each other with fondness; he at one Door, she at the other.
The Miser thus a Shilling sees,
Which he's oblig'd to pay,
With sighs resigns it by degrees,
And fears 'tis gone for aye.
The Boy, thus when his Sparrow's flown,
The Bird in Silence eyes;
But soon as out of Sight 'tis gone,
Whines, whimpers, sobs and cries.
Tavern near Newgate.
JEMMY TWITCHER, CROOK-FINGER'D JACK, WAT
DREARY, ROBIN OF BAGSHOT, NIMMING NED, HENRY PADINGTON, MATT OF THE
MINT, BEN BUDGE, and the rest of the Gang at the Table, with Wine,
Brandy, and Tobacco.
But pr'ythee, Matt, what is become of thy
brother Tom? I have not seen him since my Return from Transportation.
Poor Brother Tom had an Accident this time
Twelvemonth, and so clever a made fellow he was, that I could not save
him from those fleaing47
Rascals the Surgeons; and now,
poor Man, he is among the Ottamys48
at Surgeons Hall.
So it seems, his Time was come.
But the present Time is ours, and no body
alive hath more. Why are the Laws levell'd at us? are we more
dishonest than the rest of Mankind? What we win, Gentlemen, is our
own by the Law of Arms, and the Right of Conquest.
Where shall we find such another Set of
Practical Philosophers, who to a Man are above the Fear of Death?
Sound Men, and true!
Of try'd Courage, and indefatigable
Who is there here that would not die for his
Who is there here that would betray him for
Show me a Gang of Courtiers that can say as
We are for a just Partition of the World, for
every Man hath a Right to enjoy Life.
We retrench the Superfluities of Mankind.
The World is avaritious, and I hate Avarice. A covetous fellow, like a
Jackdaw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of
hiding it. These are the Robbers of Mankind, for Money was made for
the Free-hearted and Generous, and where is the Injury of taking from
another, what he hath not the Heart to make use of?
Our several Stations for the Day are fixt.
Good luck attend us all. Fill the Glasses.
Air XIX.—Fill every Glass, &c.
Fill ev'ry Glass, or Wine inspires us,
And fires us
With Courage, Love and Joy.
Women and Wine should
Is there ought else on Earth desirous?
Fill ev'ry Glass, &c.
To them enter MACHEATH.
Gentlemen, well met. My Heart hath been
with you this Hour: but an unexpected Affair hath detain'd me. No
ceremony, I beg you.
We were just breaking up to go upon Duty. Am
I to have the Honour of taking the Air with you, Sir, this Evening
upon the Heath? I drink a Dram now and then with the Stage-coachmen in
the way of Friendship and Intelligence; and I know that about this
Time there will be Passengers upon the Western Road, who are worth
I was to have been of that
But what, Sir?
Is there any Man who suspects my
We have all been Witnesses of it.
My Honour and Truth to the Gang?
I'll be answerable for it.
In the Division of our Booty, have I
ever shewn the least Marks of Avarice or Injustice?
By these Questions something seems to have
ruffled you. Are any of us suspected?
I have a fixed Confidence, Gentlemen, in
you all, as Men of Honour, as as such I value and respect you. Peachum
is a Man that is useful to us.
Is he about to play us any foul Play? I'll
shoot him through the Head.
I beg you, Gentlemen, act with Conduct
and Discretion. A Pistol is your last Resort.
He knows nothing of this Meeting.
Business cannot go on without him. He is
a Man who knows the World, and is a necessary Agent to us. We have had
a slight Difference, and 'till it is accomodated I shall be obliged to
keep out of his way. Any private dispute of mine shall be of no ill
consequence to my Friends. You must continue to act under his
Direction, for the moment we break loose from him, our Gang is ruin'd.
As a Bawd50
to a Whore, I
grant you, he is to us of great Convenience.
Make him believe I have quitted the
Gang, which I can never do but with Life. At our private Quarters I
will continue to meet you. A Week or so will probably reconcile us.
Your Instructions shall be observ'd. 'Tis
now high time for us to repair to our several Duties; so 'till the
Evening at our Quarters in Moor-Fields51
we bid you
I shall wish myself with you. Success
Sits down melancholy at the
Air XX.—March in Rinaldo52
, with Drums and Trumpets.
Let us take the Road.
Hark! I hear the
Sound of Coaches!
The Hour of Attack approaches,
To your Arms,
brave Boys, and load.
See the Ball I hold!
toil like Asses,
Our Fire their Fire
And turns all our Lead to Gold.
The Gang, rang'd in the Front of the Stage, load their
Pistols, and stick them under their Girdles; then go off singing the
first Part in Chorus.
What a Fool is a fond Wench! Polly is
most confoundedly bit.—I love the Sex. And a Man who loves
Money, might as well be contented with one Guinea, as I with one
Woman. The Town perhaps have been as much obliged to me, for
recruiting it with free-hearted Ladies, as to any Recruiting Officer
in the Army. If it were not for us, and the other Gentlemen of the
Sword, Drury-Lane would be uninhabited.
Air XXI.—Would you have a young Virgin, &c.
If the Heart of a Man is deprest with Cares,
The Mist is dispell'd when a Woman appears;
Like the Notes of a Fiddle, she sweetly, sweetly
Raises the Spirits, and charms our Ears,
Roses and Lilies her Cheeks disclose,
But her ripe Lips are more sweet than those.
Dissolve us in Pleasure, and soft Repose.
I must have Women. There is nothing unbends the Mind like them. Money is
not so strong a Cordial for the Time. Drawer.—
Is the Porter gone for all the Ladies according to my Directions?
I expect him back every Minute. But you
know, Sir, you sent him as far as Hockley in the Hole for three of the
Ladies, for one in Vinegar-Yard55
and for the rest of
them somewhere about Lewker's Lane56
. Sure some of them
are below, for I hear the Bar-Bell. As they come I will show them up.
MACHEATH, MRS. COAXER, DOLLY TRULL, MRS. VIXEN, BETTY DOXY, JENNY DIVER, MRS. SLAMMEKIN, SUKY TAWDRY, and MOLLY BRAZEN.
Dear Mrs. Coaxer, you are welcome. You
look charmingly to-day. I hope you don't want the Repairs of Quality,
and lay on Paint.——Dolly Trull! kiss me, you Slut; are you
as amorous as ever, Hussy? You are always so taken up with stealing
Hearts, that you don't allow yourself Time to steal anything
else.——Ah Dolly, thou wilt ever be a
Coquette!——Mrs. Vixen, I'm yours, I always lov'd a Woman
of Wit and Spirit; they make charming Mistresses, but plaguey
Wives.——Betty Doxy! Come hither, Hussy. Do you drink as
hard as ever? You had better stick to good wholesom Beer; for in
troth, Betty, Strong-Waters57
will in time ruin your
Constitution. You should leave those to your Betters.—What! and
my pretty Jenny Diver too! As prim and demure as ever! There is not
any Prude, though ever so high-bred, hath a more sanctify'd Look, with
a more mischievous Heart. Ah! thou art a dear artful
Hypocrite.——Mrs. Slammekin! as careless and genteel as
ever! all you fine Ladies, who know your own Beauty, affect an
Undress.——But see, here's Suky Tawdry come to contradict
what I am saying. Everything she gets one way she lays out upon her
Back. Why, Suky, you must keep at least a Dozen Talleymen58
. Molly Brazen!
She kisses him.
That's well done. I love a
free-hearted Wench. Thou hast a most agreeable Assurance, Girl, and
art as willing as a Turtle.——But hark! I hear Music. The
Harper is at the Door. If Music be the Food of Love, play on59
you seat yourselves, Ladies, what think you of a Dance? Come in.
Play the French Tune, that Mrs. Slammekin was so fond of.
A dance a la ronde in the French manner; near the end of it this Song and Chorus.
Youth's the Season made for Joys,
Love is then our Duty,
She alone who that employs,
Well deserves her Beauty.
Let's be gay,
While we may,
Beauty's a Flower, despis'd in Decay,
Youth's the Season &c.
Let us drink and sport to-day,
Ours is not to-morrow.
Love with youth flies swift away,
Age is nought but Sorrow.
Dance and sing,
Time's on the Wing.
Life never knows the Return of Spring.
Chorus. Let us drink, &c.
Now, pray Ladies, take your Places. Here
Fellow. Pays the Harper. Bid the Drawer
bring us more Wine. Exit Harper. If any of
the Ladies choose Ginn, I hope they will be so free to call for it.
You look as if you meant me. Wine is strong
enough for me. Indeed, Sir, I never drink Strong-Waters, but when I
have the Cholic. I hope, Mrs. Coaxer, you have had good Success of
late in your Visits among the Mercers60
We have so many
interlopers——Yet with Industry, one may still have a
little Picking. I carried a silver-flower'd Lutestring, and a Piece of
to Mr. Peachum's Lock but last Week.
There's Molly Brazen hath the Ogle of a
Rattle-Snake. She rivetted a Linen-Draper's Eye so fast upon her, that
he was nick'd of three Pieces of Cambric before he could look off.
Oh dear Madam! ——But sure
nothing can come up to your handling of Laces! And then you have such
a sweet deluding Tongue! To cheat a Man is nothing; but the Woman must
have fine parts indeed who cheats a Woman.
Lace, Madam, lies in a small Compass, and
is of easy Conveyance. But you are apt, Madam, to think too well of
If any Woman hath more Art than another,
to be sure, 'tis Jenny Diver. Though her Fellow be never so agreeable,
she can pick his Pocket as coolly, as if money were her only Pleasure.
Now that is a Command of the Passions in a Woman!
I never go to the Tavern with a Man, but in
the View of Business. I have other Hours, and other sorts of Men for
my Pleasure. But had I your Address, Madam——
Have done with your Compliments, Ladies,
and drink about: You are not so fond of me, Jenny, as you use to be.
'Tis not convenient, Sir, to shew my
Fondness among so many Rivals. 'Tis your own Choice, and not the
Warmth of my Inclination that will determine you.
Air XXIII.—All in a misty Morning, &c.
Before the Barn-Door crowing,
The Cock by Hens attended,
His Eyes around him throwing,
Stands for awhile suspended.
Then one he singles from the Crew,
And cheers the happy Hen;
With how do you do, and how do you do,
And how do you do again.
Ah Jenny! thou art a dear Slut.
Pray, Madam, were you ever in keeping62
I hope, Madam, I han't been so long upon
the Town, but I have met with some good-fortune as well as my
Pardon me, Madam, I meant no harm by the
Question; 'Twas only in the way of Conversation.
Indeed, Madam, if I had not been a Fool, I
might have liv'd very handsomely with my last Friend. But upon his
missing five Guineas, he turn'd me off. Now I never suspected he had
Who do you look upon, Madam, as your
best sort of Keepers?
That, Madam, is thereafter as they be.
I, Madam, was once kept by a Jew; and
their Religion, to Women they are a good sort
Now for my Part, I own I like an old
Fellow: For we always make them pay for what they can't do.
A spruce Prentice, let me tell you Ladies,
is no ill thing, they bleed freely. I have sent at least two or three
Dozen of them in my time to the Plantations64
But to be sure, Sir, with so much
Good-fortune as you have had upon the Road, you must be grown
The Road, indeed, hath done me Justice,
but the Gaming-Table hath been my Ruin.
XXIV.—When once I lay with another Man's Wife, &c.
The Gamesters and Lawyers are Jugglers
If they meddle, your all is in Danger.
if once they can finger a Souse65
Your Pockets they
pick, and they pilfer your House
And give your Estate to a
A Man of Courage should never put any thing to the
Risque but his Life. These are the Tools of a Man of Honour. Cards
and Dice are fit only for cowardly Cheats, who prey upon their
She takes up his Pistol. Tawdry
takes up the other.
This, Sir, is fitter for your Hand.
Besides your loss of Money, 'tis a loss to the Ladies. Gaming takes
you off from Women. How fond could I be of you! But before Company
'tis ill bred.
I must and will have a Kiss to give my Wine
They take him about the Neck and make
signs to Peachum and Constables66
, who rush in upon
To them, PEACHUM and Constables.
I seize you, Sir, as my Prisoner.
Was this well done67
Jenny?——Women are Decoy Ducks; who can trust them! Beasts,
Jades, Jilts, Harpies, Furies, Whores!
Your Case, Mr. MACHEATH, is not
particular. The greatest Heroes have been ruin'd by Women. But, to do
them Justice, I must own they are a pretty sort of Creatures, if we
could trust them. You must now, Sir, take your Leave of the Ladies,
and if they have a mind to make you a Visit, they will be sure to find
you at home. This Gentleman, Ladies, lodges in Newgate. Constables,
wait upon the Captain to his Lodgings.
XXV.—When first I laid Siege to my Chloris, &c.
At the Tree I shall suffer with
At the Tree I shall suffer with Pleasure,
Let me go
where I will,
In all kinds of Ill,
I shall find no such Furies
as these are.
Ladies, I'll take care the Reckoning
shall be discharg'd.
Exit Macheath, guarded
with Peachum and Constables.
The Women remain.
Look ye, Mrs. Jemmy, though Mr. Peachum may
have made a private Bargain with you and Suky Tawdry for betraying the
Captain, as we were all assisting, we ought all to share alike.
I think Mr. Peachum, after so long an
Acquaintance, might have trusted me as well as Jenny Diver.
I am sure at least three Men of his
hanging, and in a Year's time too, (if he did me Justice) should be
set down to my Account.
Mrs. Slammekin, that is not fair. For you
know one of them was taken in Bed with me.
As far as a Bowl of Punch or a Treat, I
believe Mrs. Suky will join with me.——As for anything
else, Ladies, you cannot in Conscience expect it.
I would not for the World——
'Tis impossible for me——
As I hope to be sav'd, Madam——
Nay then, I must stay here all
Since you command me.
Exeunt with great Ceremony.
Noble Captain, you are welcome. You have
not been a Lodger of mine this Year and a half. You know the Custom,
, Captain, Garnish. Hand me down those
Those, Mr. Lockit, seem to be the
heaviest of the whole Set. With your Leave, I should like the further
Look ye, Captain, we know what is fittest
for our Prisoners. When a Gentlemen uses me with Civility, I always do
the best I can to please him.——Hand them down I say. We
have them of all Prices, from one Guinea to ten, and 'tis fitting
every Gentleman should please himself.
I understand you, Sir. Gives Money. The fees here are so many, and so
exorbitant, that few Fortunes can bear the Expense, of getting off
handsomely, or of dying like a Gentleman.
Those, I see, will fit the Captain
better—Take down the further Pair. Do but examine them,
Sir.—Never was better work.——How genteely they are
made!——They will fit as easy as a Glove, and the nicest
Man in England might not be asham'd to wear them. He puts on the Chains. If I had the best Gentleman
in the Land in my Custody. I could not equip him more handsomely. And
so, Sir—I now leave you to your private Meditations.
XXVI.—Courtiers, Courtiers, think it no Harm, &c.
Man may escape from Rope and Gun;
Nay, some have outliv'd the Doctor's Pill;
Who takes a Woman must
is sure to kill.
Fly that sips the Treacle72
is lost in the Sweets,
So he that tastes Woman, Woman, Woman,
He that tastes Woman, ruin
To what a woful Plight have I brought myself! Here must I
(all Day long, 'till I am hang'd) be confin'd to hear the Reproaches
of a Wench who lays her Ruin at my Door——I am in the
Custody of her Father, and to be sure, if he knows of the matter, I
shall have a fine time on't betwixt this and my
Execution.——But I promis'd the Wench
Marriage——What signifies a Promise to a Woman? Does not
Man in Marriage itself promise a hundred things that he never means to
perform? Do all we can, Women will believe us; for they look upon a
Promise as an Excuse for following their own
Inclinations.——But here comes Lucy, and I cannot get from
her.——Wou'd I were deaf!
You base Man you,——how can you
look me in the Face after what hath passed between
us?——See here, perfidious Wretch, how I am forc'd to bear
about the Load of Infamy73
you have laid upon
me——O Macheath! thou hast robb'd me of my
Quiet——to see thee tortur'd would give me Pleasure.
Air XXVII.—A lovely Lass to a Friar came, &c.
Thus when a good Huswife sees a Rat
In her Trap in the Morning taken,
With Pleasure her Heart goes pit-a-pat,
In Revenge for her loss of Bacon.
Then she throws him
To the Dog or Cat
To be worried, crush'd and shaken.
Have you no Bowels74
Tenderness, my dear Lucy, to see a Husband in these Circumstances?
In ev'ry Respect but the Form, and that,
my Dear, may be said over us at any time.——Friends should
not insist upon Ceremonies. From a Man of Honour, his Word is as good
as his Bond.
'Tis the Pleasure of all you fine Men to
insult the Women you have ruin'd. Air XXVIII'Twas
when the Sea was roaring, &c.
How cruel are the
Who lye and swear in jest,
To cheat unguarded
Of Virtue, Fame, and Rest!
Whoever steals a
Through shame the Guilt conceals:
In Love the
With boasts the Theft reveals.
The very first Opportunity, my Dear,
(have but Patience) you shall be my Wife in whatever manner you
Insinuating Monster! And so you think I know
nothing of the Affair of Miss Polly Peachum.——I could tear
thy Eyes out!
Sure, Lucy, you can't be such a fool as
to be jealous of Polly!
Are you not married to her, you Brute, you.
Married! Very good. The Wench gives it
out only to vex thee, and to ruin me in thy good Opinion. 'Tis true, I
go the House; I chat with the Girl, I kiss her, I say a thousand
things to her (as all Gentlemen do) that mean nothing, to divert
myself; and now the silly Jade hath set it about that I am married to
her, to let me know what she would be at. Indeed, my dear Lucy, these
violent Passions may be of ill Consequence to a Woman in your
Come, come, Captain, for all your Assurance,
you know that Miss Polly hath put it out of your Power to do me the
Justice you promis'd me.
A jealous Woman believes everything her
Passion suggests. To convince you of my Sincerity, if we can find the
Ordinary, I shall have no Scruples of making you my Wife; and I know
the Consequences of having two at a time.
That you are only to be hang'd, and so get
rid of them both.
I am ready, my dear Lucy, to give you
Satisfaction——If you think there is any in
Marriage.——What can a Man of Honour say more?
So then, it seems, you are not married to
You know, Lucy, the Girl is prodigiously
conceited. No Man can say a civil thing to her but (like other fine
Ladies) her Vanity makes her think he's her own for ever and ever.
Air. XXIX.—The Sun had loos'd his weary Teams
The first time at the Looking-glass
sets her Daughter,
The Image strikes the smiling Lass
self-love ever after,
Each time she looks, she, fonder grown,
Thinks ev'ry Charm grows stronger.
But alas, vain Maid, all eyes
but your own
Can see you are not younger.
When Women consider
their own Beauties, they are all alike unreasonable in their Demands;
for they expect their Lovers should like them as long as they like
Yonder is my Father——perhaps
this way we may light upon the Ordinary, who shall try if you will be
as good as your Word.——For I long to be made an honest
PEACHUM, LOCKIT with an Account-Book.
In this last Affair, Brother Peachum, we
are agreed. You have consented to go halves in Macheath.
We shall never fall out about an
Execution——But as to that Article, pray how stands our
last Year's Account?
If you will run your Eye over it, you'll
find 'tis fair and clearly stated.
This long Arrear of the Government75
is very hard upon us! Can it be expected that we would
hang our Acquaintance for nothing, when our Betters will hardly save
theirs without being paid for it. Unless the People in Employment pay
better, I promise them for the future, I shall let other Rogues live
besides their own.
Perhaps, Brother, they are afraid these
Matters may be carried too far. We are treated by them with Contempt,
as if our Profession were not reputable.
In one respect indeed our Employment may
be reckon'd dishonest, because, like great Statesmen, we encourage
those who betray their Friends.
Such Language, Brother, any where else,
might turn to your Prejudice. Learn to be more guarded, I beg you.
Air XXX.—How happy are we, &c.
When you censure the Age,
Be cautious and sage,
Courtiers offended should be:
If you mention Vice or Bribe,
'Tis so pat to all the Tribe;
Each cries——That was
levell'd at me.
Here's poor Ned Clincher's Name, I see.
Sure Brother Lockit, there was a little unfair Proceeding in Ned's
Case: for he told me in the Condemn'd Hold76
, that for
Value receiv'd, you had promis'd him a Session or two longer without
Mr. Peachum——this is the first
time my Honour was ever call'd in Question.
Business is at an end—if once we
Who accuses me?
You are warm, Brother.
He that attacks my Honour, attacks my
Usage——Sir——is not to be borne.
Since you provoke me to speak—I
must tell you too, that Mrs. Coaxer charges you with defrauding her
of her Information-Money, for the apprehending of curl-pated Hugh.
Indeed, indeed, Brother, we must punctually pay our Spies, or we shall
have no Information.
Is this Language to me,
Sirrah,——who have sav'd you from the Gallows, Sirrah77
Collaring each other.
If I am hang'd it shall be for ridding
the World of an arrant Rascal.
This Hand shall do the office of the
Halter you deserve, and throttle you——you
Brother, Brother——We are both
in the Wrong——for you know we have it in our Power to hang
each other. You should not be so passionate.
Nor you so provoking.
'Tis our mutual Interest; 'Tis for the
Interest of the World we should agree. If I said any thing, Brother,
to the Prejudice of your Character, I ask pardon.
Brother Peachum——I can forgive
as well as resent.——Give me your Hand. Suspicion does not
become a Friend.
I only meant to give you Occasion to
justify yourself. But I must now step home, for I expect the
about this Snuff-box, that Filch nimm'd two
nights ago in the Park. I appointed him at this Hour.
Whence come you, Hussy?
My Tears might answer that Question.
You have then been whimpering and
fondling, like a Spaniel, over that Fellow that hath abus'd you.
One can't help Love; one can't cure it. 'Tis
not in my Power to obey you, and hate him.
Learn to bear your Husband's Death like a
reasonable Woman. 'Tis not the fashion now-a-days, so much as to
affect Sorrow upon these Occasions. No Woman would ever marry, if she
had not the Chance of Mortality for a Release. Act like a Woman of
Spirit, Hussy, and thank your Father for what he is doing.
Air XXXI.—Of a noble Race was
Is then his fate decreed, Sir?
Man can I think of quitting?
When first we met, so moves me yet,
See how my heart is splitting!
Look ye, Lucy—There is no saving
him——So, I think, you must ev'n do like other
Widows——buy yourself Weeds79
, and be
cheerful. Air XXXII
You'll think ere
many Days ensue
This Sentence not severe;
I hang your Husband,
Child, 'tis true,
But with him hang your Care.
Like a good Wife, go moan over your dying Husband.
That, Child, is your Duty—Consider, Girl, you can't have the Man
and the Money too—so make yourself as easy as you can, by
getting all you can from him.
Though the Ordinary was out of the way
to-day, I hope, my Dear, you will upon the first Opportunity, quiet my
Scruples——Oh Sir!——my Father's hard heart is
not to be soften'd, and I am in the utmost Despair.
But if I could raise a small
Sum——Would not twenty Guineas, think you, move
him?——Of all the Arguments in the way of Business, the
is the most prevailing——Your
Father's Perquisites for the Escape of Prisoners must amount to a
considerable Sum in the Year. Money well tim'd, and properly apply'd,
will do anything. Air XXXIII.—London
If you at an Office solicit your Due,
not have Matters neglected;
You must quicken the Clerk with the
To do what his Duty directed.
Or would you the
Frowns of a Lady prevent,
She too has this palpable Failing,
The Perquisite softens her into Consent:
That Reason with all
What Love or Money can do shall be done: for
all my Comfort depends upon your Safety.
Where is my dear Husband?——Was
a Rope ever intended for this Neck!——O let me throw my
Arms about it, and throttle thee with Love!—— Why dost
thou turn away from me?——'Tis thy Polly——'Tis
Was there ever such an unfortunate
Rascal as I am!
Was there ever such another Villain!
O Macheath! was it for this we parted?
Taken! Imprison'd! Try'd! Hang'd—cruel Reflection! I'll stay
with thee 'till Death—no Force shall tear thy dear Wife from
thee now.——What means my Love?——Not one kind
Word! not one kind Look! think what thy Polly suffers to see thee in
this Condition. Air XXXIV.—All in the Downs,
Thus when the Swallow, seeking Prey,
Sash is closely pent,
His Comfort, with bemoaning Lay,
sits pining for th' Event.
Her chatt'ring Lovers all around her
She heeds them not (poor Bird!) her Soul's with him.
I must disown her. Aside The wench is distracted.
Am I then bilk'd of my Virtue? Can I have no
Reparation? Sure Men were born to lie, and Women to believe them! O
Am I not thy Wife?——Thy Neglect
of me, thy Aversion to me too severely proves it.——Look at
me.——Tell me, am I not thy Wife?
Hadst thou been hang'd five Months ago, I
had been happy.
And I too——If you had been kind
to me 'till Death, it would not have vexed me——And that's
no very unreasonable Request, (though from a Wife) to a Man who hath
not above seven or eight Days to live.
Art thou then married to another? Hast thou
two Wives, Monster?
If Women's Tongues can cease for an
I won't.—Flesh and Blood can't bear my
Shall I not claim my own? Justice bids me
Air XXXV.—Have you heard of a
frolicsome Ditty, &c.
How happy could I be with either,
Were t'other dear Charmer away!
But while you thus teaze me
To neither a Word will I say;
But tol de rol,
Sure, my Dear, there ought to be some
Preference shown to a Wife! At least she may claim the Appearance of
it. He must be distracted with his Misfortunes, or he could not use me
O Villain, Villain! Thou hast deceiv'd
me——I could even inform against thee with Pleasure. Not a
Prude wishes more heartily to have Facts against her intimate
Acquaintance than I now wish to have Facts against thee. I would have
her Satisfaction, and they should all out.
Air XXXVI.—Irish Trot.
O how I am troubled!
Bambouzled, and bit!
My Distresses are doubled.
When you come to the Tree, should the
These Fingers, with Pleasure, could fasten the
Be pacified, my dear
Lucy——This is all a Fetch of Polly's to make me desperate
with you in case I get off. If I am to be hang'd, she would fain have
the Credit of being thought my Widow——Really, Polly, this
is no time for a Dispute of this sort; for whenever you are talking of
Marriage, I am thinking of Hanging.
And hast thou the Heart to persist in
And hast thou the Heart to persist in
persuading me that I am married? Why, Polly, dost thou seek to
aggravate my Misfortunes?
Really, Miss Peachum, you but expose
yourself. Besides, 'tis barbarous in you to worry a Gentleman in his
Cease your Funning;
Force or Cunning
Never shall my Heart trepan.
All these Sallies
To seduce my constant Man.
'Tis most certain,
By their flirting
Women oft have Envy shown
Pleas'd to ruin
Never happy in their own!
Decency, Madam, methinks might teach you to behave yourself with some Reserve
with the Husband, while his Wife is present.
But seriously, Polly, this is carrying
the Joke a little too far.
If you are determin'd, Madam, to raise a
Disturbance in the Prison, I shall be oblig'd to send for the Turnkey
to shew you the Door. I am sorry, Madam, you force me to be so
Give me leave to tell you, Madam: These
forward Airs don't become you in the least, Madam. And my Duty, Madam,
obliges me to stay with my Husband, Madam.
Air XXXVIII.—Good-morrow, Gossip Joan.
Why how now, Madam Flirt?
If you thus
And are for flinging Dirt,
Let's see who best can
Why how now, saucy Jade;
Sure the Wench
How can you see me made To
The scoff of such a Gipsy?
Saucy Jade! To her.
LUCY, MACHEATH, POLLY,
Where's my Wench? Ah, Hussy!
Hussy!——Come you home, you Slut; and when your Fellow is
hang'd, hang yourself, to make your Family some Amends.
Dear, dear Father, do not tear me from
him——I must speak; I have more to say to
him——Oh! twist thy Fetters about me, that he may not haul
me from thee!
Sure all Women are alike! If ever they
commit the Folly, they are sure to commit another by exposing
themselves——Away——Not a Word
more—— You are my Prisoner now, Hussy.
Air XXXIX.—Irish Howl.
No Power on Earth can e'er divide
Knot that sacred Love hath ty'd.
When Parents draw against our
The True-Love's Knot they faster bind,
Oh, oh ray, oh
Amborah—oh, oh, &c.
Macheath, Peachum pulling her.
I am not naturally Compassionate, Wife;
so I could not use the Wench as she deserv'd; which made you at first
suspect there was something in what she said.
Indeed, my Dear, I was strangely puzzled.
If that had been the Case, her Father
would never have brought me into this Circumstance——No,
Lucy——I had rather die than be false to thee.
How happy I am, if you say this from your
heart! For I love thee so, that I could sooner bear to see thee hang'd
than in the Arms of another.
But could'st thou bear to see me hang'd?
O Macheath, I can never live to see that
You see, Lucy; in the account of Love
you are in my debt, and you must now be convinc'd, that I rather
choose to die than be another's. ——Make me, if possible,
love thee more, and let me owe my Life to thee——If you
refuse to assist me, Peachum and your Father will immediately put me
beyond all means of Escape.
My Father, I know, hath been drinking hard
with the Prisoners; and I fancy he is now taking his Nap in his own
Room——If I can procure the Keys, shall I go off with thee,
If we are together, 'twill be impossible
to lie conceal'd. As soon as the Search begins to be a little cool, I
will send to thee——'Till then my Heart is thy Prisoner.
Come then, my dear Husband——owe
thy life to me——and though you love me not——be
grateful,——But that Polly runs in my Head strangely.
A moment of Time may make us unhappy for
Air XL.—The Lass of Patie's
I like the Fox shall grieve,
hath left her Side,
Whom Hounds from Morn to Eve,
the Country wide.
Where can my Lover hide?
Where cheat the
If love be not his Guide,
will come back!
To be sure, Wench, you must have been
aiding and abetting him to help him to this Escape.
Sir, here hath been Peachum and his Daughter
Polly, and to be sure they know the Ways of Newgate as well as if they
had been born and bred in the Place all their Lives. Why must all your
Suspicion light upon me?
Lucy, Lucy, I will have none of these
Well then——If I know anything of
him I wish I may be burnt!
Keep your Temper, Lucy, or I shall
pronounce you guilty.
Keep yours, Sir,——I do wish I
may be burnt. I do——And what can I say more to convince
Did he tip handsomely?——How
much did he come down with? Come, Hussy, don't cheat your Father; and
I shall not be angry with you—— Perhaps, you have made a
better Bargain with him than I could have done—— How much,
my good Girl?
You know, Sir, I am fond of him, and would
have given him money to have kept him with me.
Ah Lucy! thy Education might have put thee
more upon thy Guard; for a Girl in the Bar of an ale-house is always
Dear Sir, mention not my Education—for
'twas to that I owe my Ruin. Air XLI.—If
Love's a sweet Passion, &c.
When young at the Bar you
first taught me to score,
And bid me be free of my Lips and no
I was kissed by the Parson, the Squire, and the Sot
the guest was departed the Kiss was forgot.
But his Kiss was so
sweet, and so closely he prest,
That I languish'd and pin'd till I
granted the rest.
If you can forgive me, Sir, I will make a fair
Confession, for to be sure he hath been a most barbarous Villain to
And so you have let him escape,
When a Woman loves; A kind Look, a tender
Word can persuade her to anything——and I could ask no
Thou wilt always be a vulgar Slut,
Lucy.—If you would not be look'd upon as a Fool, you should
never do anything but upon the foot of Interest. Those that act
otherwise are their own Bubbles.
But Love, Sir, is a Misfortune that may
happen to the most discreet Woman, and in Love we are all Fools
alike——Notwithstanding all that he swore, I am now fully
convinc'd that Polly Peachum is actually his Wife.—— Did I
let him escape (Fool that I was!) to go to her?——Polly
will wheedle herself into his Money, and then Peachum will hang him,
and cheat us both.
And so I am to be ruin'd, because,
forsooth, you must be in Love! ——A very pretty Excuse!
I could murder that impudent happy
Strumpet:—I gave him his Life, and that Creature enjoys the
Sweets of it.——Ungrateful Macheath! Air XLII.—South-Sea Ballad.
My Love is
all Madness and Folly,
Alone I lie,
Toss, tumble, and cry,
What a happy creature is Polly!
Was e'er such a Wretch as I!
With rage I redden like Scarlet,
That my dear inconstant Varlet,
Stark blind to my Charms,
Is lost in the Arms
Of that Jilt,
that inveigling Harlot!
Stark blind to my Charms,
Is lost in
Of that Jilt, that inveigling Harlot!
This, this my
And so, after all this Mischief, I must
stay here to be entertain'd with your Catterwauling, Mistress
Puss!——Out of my Sight, wanton Strumpet! you shall fast
and mortify yourself into Reason, with now and then a little handsome
Discipline to bring you to your Senses.——Go.
Peachum then intends to outwit me in this
Affair; but I'll be even with him.——The Dog is leaky in
his Liquor, so I'll ply him that way, get the Secret from him, and
turn this Affair to my own Advantage.——Lions, Wolves and
Vultures don't live together in Herds, Droves, or Flocks.83
——Of all Animals of Prey, Man is the only
sociable one. Every one of us preys upon the other, and yet we herd
together.——Peachum is my Companion, my
Friend.——According to the Custom of the World, indeed he
may quote thousands of Precedents for Cheating me——And
shall I not make use of the Privilege of Friendship to make him a
Return. Air XLIII.—Packington's
Thus Gamesters united in Friendship are found,
Though they know that their Industry all is a Cheat;
to their Prey at the Dice-Box's Sound,
And join to promote one
But if by mishap
They fail of a Chap,
keep in their hands, they each other entrap.
, lank with Hunger, who miss of their Ends,
their Companions and prey on their Friends.
Now, Peachum, you and
I, like honest Tradesmen are to have a fair Trial which of us can
overreach the other.——Lucy.—— Enter Lucy.
Are there any of Peachum's People
now in the House?
Filch, Sir, is drinking a Quartern85
of Strong-Waters in the next Room with Black Moll.
Bid him come to me.
Why, Boy, thou lookest as if thou wert
half starv'd, like a shotten Herring86
One had need have the Constitution of a
Horse to go through with the Business.——Since the
favourite Child-getter was disabled by a Mishap, I have pick'd up a
little Money by helping the Ladies to a Pregnancy87
against their being call'd down to Sentence.——But if a Man
cannot get an honest Livelihood any easier way, I am sure, 'tis what I
can't undertake for another Session.
Truly, if that great Man88
should tip off, 'twould be an irreparable Loss. The vigor and Prowess
of a Knight-Errant never sav'd half the Ladies in Distress that he
hath done.——But, Boy, canst thou tell me where thy Master
is to be found?
At his Lock, Sir, at the Crooked Billet.
Very well.—I have nothing more with
you. Exit Filch. I'll go to him there, for
I have many important Affairs to settle with him; and in the way of
these Transactions, I'll artfully get into his Secret——So
that Macheath shall not remain a Day longer out of my Clutches.
MACHEATH in a fine
tarnish'd Coat, BEN BUDGE, MATT OF THE MINT.
I am sorry, Gentlemen, the Road was so
barren of Money. When my Friends are in Difficulties, I am always glad
that my Fortune can be serviceable to them. Gives
You see, Gentlemen, I am not a mere Court Friend,
who professes every thing and will do nothing. Air
The Modes of the Court so common
That a true Friend can hardly be met;
Interest is but a Loan,
Which they let out for what they can get,
'Tis true, you find
Some Friends so kind,
Who will give you
good Counsel themselves to defend.
In sorrowful Ditty,
promise, they pity,
But shift you for Money, from Friend to Friend.
But we, Gentlemen, still have Honour enough to break through the
Corruptions of the World.——And while I can serve you, you
may command me.
It grieves my Heart that so generous a Man
should be involv'd in such Difficulties, as oblige him to live with
such ill Company, and herd with Gamesters.
See the Partiality of
Mankind!——One man may steal a Horse, better than another
may look over a Hedge.——Of all Mechanics, of all servile
handi-crafts-men, a Gamester is the vilest. But yet, as many of the
Quality are of the Profession, he is admitted among the politest
Company. I wonder we are not more respected.
There will be deep Play to-night at
Mary-bone, and consequently Money may be pick'd up upon the Road. Meet
me there, and I'll give you the Hint who is worth Setting89
The Fellow with a brown Coat with a narrow
Gold Binding, I am told, is never without Money.
What do you mean,
Matt?——Sure you will not think of meddling with
him!——He's a good honest kind of a Fellow, and one of us.
To be sure, Sir, we will put ourselves under
Have an Eye upon the
, or two, would
prove a pretty sort of an Expedition. I hate Extortion.
Those Rouleaus are very pretty
things.——I hate your Bank Bills.—— There is
such a Hazard in putting them off.
There is a certain Man of Distinction,
who in his Time hath nick'd me out of a great deal of the Ready. He is
in my Cash, Ben;——I'll point him out to you this Evening,
and you shall draw upon him for the Debt. ——The Company
are met; I hear the Dice-Box in the other Room. So, Gentlemen, your
Servant. You'll meet me at Mary-bone.
A Table with Wine, Brandy, Pipes, and
The Coronation Account91
Brother Peachum, is of so intricate a nature, that I believe it will
never be settled.
It consists indeed of a great Variety of
Articles.——It was worth to our People, in Fees of
different kinds, above ten Instalments.—— This is part of
the Account, Brother, that lies open before us.
A Lady's Tail92
Brocade——that, I see, is dispos'd of.
To Mrs. Diana Trapes, the Tally-Woman,
and she will make a good Hand on't in Shoes and Slippers, to trick out
young Ladies, upon their going into Keeping——
But I don't see any Article of the Jewels.
Those are so well known that they must be
sent abroad——You'll find them enter'd upon the Article of
Exportation.——As for the Snuff-Boxes, Watches, Swords,
&c.——I thought it best to enter them under their
Seven and twenty Women's Pockets complete;
with the several things therein contain'd; all Seal'd, Number'd, and
But, Brother, it is impossible for us now
to enter upon this Affair.—We should have the whole Day before
us.——Besides, the Account of the last Half Year's PLate is
in a Book by itself, which lies at the other Office.
Bring us then more
Liquor.——To-day shall be for
Pleasure——To-morrow for Business—Ah, Brother, those
Daughters of ours are two slippery Hussies——Keep a
watchful eye upon Polly, and Macheath in a day or two shall be our own
again. Air XLV.—Down in the North Country,
are we Men!
Ev'ry Woman's easy Prey.
Though we have felt the Hook, agen
bite and they betray.
The Bird that hath been trapt,
When he hears his calling Mate,
To her he flies, again he's clapt
Within the wiry Grate.
But what signifies catching the Bird, if
your Daughter Lucy will set open the Door of the Cage?
If Men were answerable for the Follies and
Frailties of the Wives and Daughters, no Friends could keep a good
Correspondence together for two Days.——This is unkind of
you, Brother; for among good Friends, what they say or do goes for
Enter a Servant.
Sir, here's Mrs. Diana Trapes wants to
speak with you.
Shall we admit her, Brother Lockit?
By all means,——She's a good
Customer, and a fine-spoken Woman—— And a Woman who drinks
and talks so freely, will enliven the Conversation.
Desire her to walk in.
PEACHUM, LOCKIT, MRS.
Dear Mrs. Dye94
Servant——One may know by your Kiss, that your Ginn is
I was always very curious in my Liquors.
There is no perfum'd Breath like
it.—I have been long acquainted with the Flavour of those
Lips—Han't I, Mrs. Dye.
Fill it up——I take as large
Draughts of Liquor, as I did of Love.——I hate a Flincher
in either. Air XLVI.—A Shepherd kept Sheep,
In the Days of my Youth I could bill like a Dove,
fa, la la, &c.
Like a Sparrow at all times was ready for Love,
fa, la la, &c.
The Life of all Mortals in Kissing should pass,
Lip to Lip while we're young—then the Lip to the Glass, fa,
la la, &c.
But now, Mr. Peachum, to our
Business.——If you have Blacks of any kind, brought in of
Scarfs——Petticoats——Let it be what it
will——I am your Chap——for all my Ladies are
very fond of Mourning.
Why, look ye, Mrs. Dye——you
deal so hard with us, that we can afford to give the Gentlemen, who
venture their Lives for the Goods, little or nothing.
The hard Times oblige me to go very near
in my Dealing.——To be sure, of late Years I have been a
great Sufferer by the Parliament.——Three thousand Pounds
would hardly make me amends.——The Act for destroying the
, was a severe Cut upon our
Business——'Till then, if a Customer stept out of the
way——we knew where to have her——No doubt you
know Mrs. Coaxer——there's a Wench now ('till to-day) with
a good Suit of Clothes of mine upon her Back, and I could never set
eyes upon her for three Months together.——Since the Act
too against Imprisonment for small Sums97
, my Loss there
too hath been very considerable, and it must be so, when a Lady can
borrow a handsome Petticoat, or a clean Gown, and I not have the least
Hank upon her! And, o' my Conscience, now-a-days most Ladies take a
Delight in cheating, when they can do it with Safety.
Madam, you have had a handsome Gold Watch
of us t'other Day for seven Guineas.——Considering we must
have our Profit——To a Gentleman upon the Road, a Gold
Watch will be scarce worth the taking.
Consider, Mr. Peachum, that Watch was
remarkable, and not of very safe Sale.——If you have any
black Velvet Scarfs——they are a handsome Winter-wear, and
take with most Gentlemen who deal with my Customers.——
'Tis I that put the Ladies upon a good Foot. 'Tis not Youth or Beauty
that fixes their Price. The Gentlemen always pay according to their
Dress, from half a Crown98
to two Guineas; and yet those
Hussies make nothing of their bilking of me.——Then too,
allowing for Accidents99
.——I have eleven
fine Customers now down under the Surgeon's Hands——What
with Fees and other Expenses, there are great Goings-out and no
Comings in, and not a Farthing100
to pay for at least a
Month's Clothing.——We run great Risques—great
As I remember, you said something just
now of Mrs. Coaxer.
Yes, Sir.——To be sure I stript
her of a Suit of my own Clothes about two Hours ago; and have left her
as she should be, in her Shift, with a Lover of hers at my House. She
call'd him up Stairs, as he was going to MAry-bone in a Hackney
.——And I hope, for her own sake and
mine, she will persuade the Captain to redeem her, for the Captain is
very generous to the Ladies.
He thought I did not know
him——an intimate Acquaintance of yours, Mr.
Peachum——Only Captain Macheath——as fine as a
To-morrow, Mrs. Dye, you shall set your
own Price upon any of the Goods you like——We have at least
half a Dozen Velvet Scarfs, and all at your Service. Will you give me
leave to make you a Present of the Suit of Night-clothes for your own
wearing?——But are you sure it is Captain Macheath.
Though he thinks I have forgotten him; no
body knows him better. I have taken a great deal of the Captain's
Money in my Time at second-hand, for he always lov'd to have his
ladies well drest.
Mr. Lockit and I have a little Business
with the Captain;——You understand me——and we
will satisfy you for Mrs. Coaxer's Debt.
Depend upon it——We will deal
like Men of Honour.
I don't enquire after your
Affairs——so whatever happens, I wash my hands
on't——It hath always been my Maxim, that one Friend should
assist another——But if you please——I'll take
one of the Scarfs home with me. 'Tis always good to have something in
Jealousy, Rage, Love and Fear are at once
tearing me to pieces, How am I weather-beaten and shatter'd with
Distresses! Air XLVII.—One Evening, having
lost my Way, &c.
I'm like a Skiff102
the Ocean tost,
Now high, now low, with each Billow born,
her Rudder broke, and her Anchor lost,
Deserted and all forlorn.
While thus I lie rolling and tossing all Night,
That Polly lies
sporting on seas of Delight!
Revenge, Revenge, Revenge,
appease my restless Sprite.
I have the Rats-bane103
ready.——I run no Risque; for I can lay her Death upon the
Ginn, and so many die of that naturally that I shall never be call'd
in question.——But say, I were to be hang'd.——I
never could be hang'd for any thing that would give me greater
Comfort, than the poisoning that Slut.
Madam, here's Miss Polly come to wait upon
Show her in.
Dear Madam, your Servant.——I
hope you will pardon my Passion, when I was so happy to see you
last.——I was so over-run with the Spleen104
that I was perfectly out of myself. And really when one hath the
Spleen, everything is to be excus'd by a Friend. Air XLVIII.——Now Roger, I'll tell thee because
thou'rt my Son.
When a Wife's in her Pout,
sometimes, no doubt;)
The good Husband as meek as a Lamb,
Vapours to still,
First grants her her Will,
And the quieting
Draught is a Dram105
quieting Draught is a Dram.
——I wish all our Quarrels
might have so comfortable a Reconciliation.
I have no Excuse for my own Behaviour,
Madam, but my Misfortunes. ——And really, Madam, I suffer
too upon your Account.
But, Miss Polly——in the way of
Friendship, will you give me leave to propose a Glass of cordial to
Strong-Waters are apt to give me the
Head-Ache——I hope, Madam, you will excuse me.
Not the greatest Lady in the Land could have
better in her Closet, for her own private drinking.——You
seem mighty low in Spirits, my Dear.
I am sorry, Madam, my Health will not allow
me to accept of your Offer——I should not have left you in
the rude manner I did when we met last, Madam, had not my Papa haul'd
me away so unexpectedly——I was indeed somewhat provok'd,
and perhaps might use some Expressions that were
disrespectful.——But really, Madam, the Captain treated me
with so much Contempt and Cruelty, that I deserv'd your Pity, rather
than your Resentment.
But since his Escape, no doubt all Matters
are made up again.——Ah Polly! Polly! 'tis I am the unhappy
Wife; and he loves you as if you were only his Mistress.
Sure, Madam, you cannot think me so happy
as to be the object of your Jealousy.——A Man is always
afraid of a Woman who loves him too well— —so that I must
expect to be neglected and avoided.
Then our Cases, my dear Polly, are exactly
alike. Both of us indeed have been too fond.
Air XLIX.— O Bessy Bell.
A Curse attend that Woman's Love,
always would be pleasing.
The Pertness of the billing Dove,
Tickling, is but teasing.
What then in Love can Woman do;
If we grow fond they shun us.
And when we fly them, they pursue:
But leave us when they've won us.
Love is so very whimsical in both Sexes,
that it is impossible to be lasting.——But my Heart is
particular, and contradicts my own Observation.
But really, Mistress Lucy, by his last
Behaviour, I think I ought to envy you.——When I was forc'd
from him, he did not shew the least Tenderness.——But
perhaps, he hath a Heart not capable of it.
Air L.—Would Fate to me Belinda give.
Among the Men, Coquets we find,
Who court by turns all Woman-kind;
And we grant all the Hearts desir'd,
When they are flatter'd, and admir'd.
The Coquets of both Sexes are Self-lovers, and that is a Love no other
whatever can dispossess. I hear, my dear Lucy, our Husband is one of those.
Away with these melancholy
Reflections,——indeed, my dear Polly, we are both of us a
Cup too low——Let me prevail upon you to accept of my
Offer. Air LI.—Come, sweet Lass.
Come, sweet Lass,
Let's banish Sorrow
Come, sweet Lass,
Let's take a chirping Glass.
Wine can clear
The Vapours of Despair
And make us light as Air;
drink, and banish Care.
I can't bear, Child, to see you in such
low Spirits.——And I must persuade you to what I know will
do you good.——I shall now soon be even with the
hypocritical Strumpet. Aside.
All this Wheedling of Lucy cannot be for
nothing.——At this time too! when I know she hates
me!——The Dissembling of a Woman is always the Forerunner
of Mischief.——By pouring Strong-Waters down my Throat, she
thinks to pump some Secrets out of me,——I'll be upon my
Guard, and won't taste a Drop of her Liquor, I'm resolv'd.
with Strong-Waters. POLLY.
Come, Miss Polly.
Indeed, Child, you have given yourself
trouble to no purpose.—— You must, my Dear, excuse me.
Really, Miss Polly, you are as squeamishly
affected about taking a Cup of Strong-Waters as a Lady before Company.
I vow, Polly, I shall take it monstrously ill if you refuse
me.——Brandy and Men (though Women love them ever so well)
are always taken by us with some Reluctance——unless 'tis
I protest, Madam, it goes against
me.——What do I see! Macheath again in
Custody!——Now every Glimm'ring of Happiness is lost.
Drops the Glass of Liquor on the Ground.
Since things are thus, 'm glad the Wench
hath escap'd; for by this Event, 'tis plain, she was not happy enough
to deserve to be poison'd. Aside.
MACHEATH, PEACHUM, LUCY, POLLY.
Set your Heart to rest,
Captain.——You have neither the Chance of Love or Money for
another Escape,——for you are order'd to be call'd down
upon your Trial immediately.
Away, Hussies!——This is not a
Time for a Man to be hamper'd with his Wives.——You see,
the Gentleman is in Chains already.
O Husband, Husband, my Heart long'd to see
thee; but to see thee thus distracts me.
Will not my dear Husband look upon his
Polly? Why hadst thou not flown to me for Protection? with me thou
hadst been safe.
Air LII.—The last
time I went o'er the Moor.
Hither, dear Husband, turn your Eyes.
Bestow one Glance to cheer me.
Think with that Look, thy Polly dies.
O shun me not——but hear me.
Is thus true Love requited?
My Heart is bursting.
Must I be slighted?
What would you have me say,
Ladies?——You see this Affair will soon be at an end,
without my disobliging either of you.
But the settling this Point, Captain,
might prevent a Law-Suit between your two Widows.
Air LIII Tom Tinker's my true Love.
Which way shall I turn
me——How can I decide?
Wives, the Day of our Death, are
as fond as a Bride.
One Wife is too much for most Husbands to
But two at a time there's no mortal can bear.
and that way, and which way I will,
What would comfort the one,
t'other Wife would take ill.
But if his own Misfortunes have made him
insensible to mine——A Father sure will be more
compassionate——Dear, dear Sir, sink the material Evidence,
and bring him off at his Trial——Polly, upon her Knees begs
it of you. Air LIV.—I am a poor Shepherd
When my Hero in Court appears,
arraign'd for his Life;
Then think of poor Polly's Tears;
Ah! poor Polly's his Wife.
Like the Sailor he holds up his Hand,
Distrest on the dashing Wave.
To die a dry Death at Land,
Is as bad as a wat'ry Grave.
And alas, poor Polly!
Before I was in Love,
Oh! every Month was
If Peachum's Heart is harden'd; sure you,
Sir, will have more Compassion on a Daughter.——I know the
Evidence is in your Power.——How then can you be a Tyrant
to me? Kneeling.
LV.—Ianthe the lovely, &c.
When he holds up his
Hand arraign'd for his Life,
O think of your Daughter, and think
I'm his Wife!
What are Cannons or Bombs, or clashing of Swords?
For Death is more certain by Witnesses Words.
Then nail up
their Lips; that dread Thunder allay;
And each Month of my Life
will hereafter be May.
Macheath's Time is come,
Lucy——We know our own Affairs, therefore let us have no
more Whimpering or Whining. Air LVI.—A
Cobler there was, &c.
Ourselves, like the Great, to
secure a Retreat,
When Matters Require it, must give up our Gang:
And good reason why,
Or, instead of the Fry,
Like poor petty Rascals, might hang, hang;
petty Rascals, might hang.
Set your Heart at rest,
Polly.——Your Husband is to die to-day.
——Therefore if you are not already provided, 'tis high
time to look about for another. There's comfort for you, you Slut.
We are ready, Sir, to conduct you to the
The charge is prepar'd; the Lawyers are
The Judges all rang'd (a terrible Show!)
undismay'd.——For Death is a Debt,
A Debt on
Demand.——So take what I owe.
Then farewell, my
Love——Dear Charmers, adieu.
die——'Tis the better for you.
Here ends all Disputes
for the rest of our Lives,
For this way at once I please all my
Now, Gentlemen, I am ready to attend you.
Follow them, Filch, to the Court. And when
the Trial is over, bring me a particular Account of his Behaviour, and
of everything that happen'd—— You'll find me here with
Miss Lucy. Exit Filch. But why is all this
The prisoners, whose Trials are put off
'till next Session, are diverting themselves.
Sure there is nothing so charming as
Musick! I'm fond of it to Distraction!——But
alas!——now, all Mirth seems an Insult upon my
Affliction.——Let us retire, my dear Lucy, and indulge our
Sorrows.——The noisy Crew, you see, are coming upon us.
A Dance of
Prisoners in Chains, &c.
The Condemn'd Hold
MACHEATH, in a melancholy Posture.
Air LVIII.—Happy Groves.
O cruel, cruel, cruel Case!
suffer this Disgrace? Air LIX.—Of all the
Girls that are so smart.
Of all the Friends in time of
When threatening Death looks grimmer,
Not one so sure
can bring Relief,
As this best Friend, a Brimmer. Drinks.
Since I must swing,——I scorn, I
scorn, to wince or whine. Rises.
Air LXI.—Chevy Chase.
But now again my
I'll raise them high with Wine. Drinks a glass of Wine.
LXII.—To old Sir Simon the King.
But Valour the
The stronger Liquor we're drinking;
And how can
we feel our Woes
When we've lost the Trouble of Thinking? Drinks.
Air LXIII.—Joy to
If thus——A Man can die
bolder with Brandy. Pours out a Bumper of
Air LXIV.—There was an old
So I drink off this Bumper.——And now I
can stand the Test.
And my Comrades shall see, that I die as brave
as the Best. Drinks.
LXV.—Did you ever hear of a gallant Sailor.
But can I
leave my pretty Hussies,
Without one Tear, or tender Sigh? Air LXVI.—Why are mine Eyes still flowing.
Their Eyes, their Lips, their Busses
Love,——Ah must I die! Air
Since Laws were made for ev'ry
To curb Vice in others, as well as me,
I wonder we han't
from Law can take out the Sting;
And if rich Men like us were to
'Twould thin the Land, such Numbers to string
Some Friends of yours, Captain, desire to
be admitted——I leave you together.
MACHEATH, BEN BUDGE,
MATT OF THE MINT.
For my having broke Prison, you see,
Gentlemen, I am order'd immediate Execution.——The
Sheriff's Officers, I believe, are now at th Door.——That
Jemmy Twitcher should peach me, I own surpris'd me!——'Tis
a plain Proof that the World is all alike, and that even our Gang can
no more trust one another than other People. Therefore, I beg you,
Gentlemen, look well to yourselves, for in all probability you may
live some Months longer.
We are heartily sorry, Captain, for your
Misfortune.——But 'tis what we must all come to.
Peachum and Lockit, you know, are
infamous Scoundrels. Their Lives are as much in your Power, as yours
are in theirs.——Remember your dying
Friend!——'Tis my last Request.——Bring those
Villains to the Gallows before you, and I am satisfied.
We'll do it.
Miss Polly and Miss Lucy intreat a Word
My dear Lucy——My dear Polly.
Whatsoever hath pass'd between us is now at an end——if you
are fond of marrying again, the best Advice I can give you is to Ship
yourselves to the West-Indies, where you'll have a fair Chance of
getting a Husband a-piece, or by good Luck, two or three, as you like
How can I support this Sight!
There is nothing moves one so much as a
great Man in Distress.
you that must take a Leap, &c.
Would I might be hang'd!
And I would so too!
To be hang'd with you.
My dear, with you.
O leave me to Thought! I fear! I doubt!
I tremble! I droop!——See, my Courage is out!
Turns up the empty Bottle.
See, my Courage is out.
Turns up the empty Pot.
But hark! I hear the Toll of the Bell.
Tol de rol lol, &c.
Four Women more, Captain, with a Child
apiece! See, here they come.
more!——This is too
much——Here——tell the Sheriff's Officers I am
Exit Macheath guarded.
Enter PLAYER and BEGGAR.
But, honest Friend, I hope you don't
intend that Macheath shall be really executed.
Most certainly, Sir.——To make
the Piece perfect, I was for doing strict poetical
Justice——Macheath is to be hang'd; and for the other
Personages of the Drama, the Audience must have suppos'd they were all
hang'd or transported.
Why then Friend, this is a downright deep
Tragedy. The Catastrophe is manifestly wrong, for an Opera must end
Your Objection, Sir, is very just, and is
easily remov'd. For you must allow, that in this kind of Drama, 'tis
no matter how absurdly things are brought
about——So——you Rabble there——run
and cry, A Reprieve!107
——let the Prisoner
be brought back to his Wives in Triumph.
All this we must do, to comply with the
Taste of the Town.
Through the whole Piece you may observe
such a Similitude of Manners in high and low Life, that it is
difficult to determine whether (in the fashionable Vices) the fine
Gentlemen imitate the Gentlemen of the Road, or the Gentlemen of the
Road, the fine Gentlemen.——Had the Play remain'd, as I at
first intended, it would have carried a most excellent Moral. 'Twould
have shown that the lower sort of People have their Vices in a degree
as well as the Rich: And that they are punish'd for them. To them, MACHEATH with RABBLE, &c.
So, it seems, I am not left to my
Choice, but must have a Wife at last.——Look ye, my Dears,
we will have no Controversy now. Let us give this Day to Mirth, and I
an sure she who thinks herself my Wife will testify her Joy by a
Come, a Dance——a Dance.
Ladies, I hope you will give me leave to
present a Partner to each of you. And (if I may without Offence) for
this time, I take Polly for mine.——And for Life, you
Slut,——for we were really marry'd.——As for the
rest.——But at present keep your own Secret.
Air LXIX.—Lumps of Pudding,
Thus I stand like the Turk, with his Doxies108
From all Sides their Glances his Passion
For Black, Brown, and Fair, his Inconstancy burns,
different Beauties subdue him by turns:
Each calls forth her
Charms, to provoke his Desires;
Though willing to all, with but one
But think of this Maxim, and put off your Sorrow,
The Wretch of To-day, may be happy To-morrow.
But think of this Maxim, &c.
A Bibliography for Students of John Gay's Life, Work, and Influence
By John Gay: 18th Century publication (in chronological order):
Wine: A Poem. London, 1708.
The Present State of Wit, in a Letter to a Friend in the Country. London, 1711.
The Mohocks: A Tragi-Comical Farce. London, 1712.
Rural Sports: A Poem. London, 1713.
The Wife of Bath: A Comedy. London, 1713.
The Fan: A Poem. London, 1713.
The Shepherd's Week: In Six Pastorals. London, 1714.
The What D'Ye Call It: A Tragi-Comi-Pastoral Farce. London, 1715.
Trivia: or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London. London, 1716.
Three Hours After Marriage: A Comedy. London, 1717.
Poems on Several Occasions. 2 vols, London, 1720. Revised 1731.
An Epistle to Her Grace Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough. London, 1722.
The Captives: A Tragedy. London, 1724.
To a Lady on Her Passion for Old China. London, 1725.
Fables. 2 vols, London, 1727 and 1738.
The Beggar's Opera. London, 1727. (with music, 1728.)
Polly. London, 1729.
Acis and Galatea: An English Pastoral Opera. London, 1732.
Achilles: An Opera. London, 1733.
The Distress'd Wife: A Comedy. London, 1743.
Plays. London, 1760.
The Works. 4 vols, Dublin, 1770.
Plays. London, 1772.
Poems and Fables. 2 vols, Aberdeen, 1772.
The Works. 4 vols, London, 1772.
The Poetical Works. 3 vols, London, 1777.
The Poetical, Dramatic, and Miscellaneous Works. 6 vols, London, 1795.
A Selection of Useful Works:
Hazlitt, W. Lectures on the English Poets. London, 1818.
Thackeray, W.M. English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century. London,
Melville, L. Life and Letters of John Gay.
London, 1921. Kidson, F. The Beggar's Opera: Its
Predecessors and Successors. London, 1922.
Schultz, William Eben. Gay's Beggar's Opera: Its
Content, History, and Influence. New Haven: YUP, 1923.
Irving, W.H. John Gay's London. Cambridge,
MA: HUP, 1928.
Sherwin, O. Mr. Gay: Being a Picture of the Life
and Times of the Author of The Beggar's Opera. New York, 1929.
Bateson, F.W. English Comic Drama,
1700-1750. London, 1929.
Empson, William. Some Versions of Pastoral.
Gaye, P. Fenwick. John Gay: His Place in the Eighteenth Century. London,
Irving, W.H. John Gay: Favorite of the Wits. Durham, NC: UNCP, 1940.
Herbert, A.P. Mr. Gay's London. London, 1948.
Armens, S.M. John Gay: Social Critic. New York, 1954.
Forsgren, A. John Gay: Poet of “A Lower Order.” Stockholm, 1964.
Guerinot, J.V., and Rodney D Jilg. Context 1: The Beggar's Opera. New
York: Archon, 1976.
Fuller, John, ed. John Gay: Dramatic Works. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon,
1983. With glossary in second volume.
Recent scholarship (with acknowledgement to the MLA CD-ROM):
Beckwith, Charles E. “The Languages of Gay's Trivia.” Eighteenth-Century
Life. Oct. 1986, v. 10 (3).
Bender, John “The Novel and the Rise of the Penitentiary: Narrative and
Ideology in Defoe, Gay, Hogarth, and Fielding.” Stanford Literature
Review. Spring 1984, v. 1(1) p. 55-84.
Berry, Reginald. “Absurder Projects: Scriblerus, Chaucer, and the
Discommodities of Marriage.” English Studies in Canada. Summer 1981,
v. 7(2) p. 141-155.
Bloom, Harold “John Gay's The Beggar's Opera.” Chelsea, New York 1988 viii,
143 p. Series: Modern Critical Interpretations.
Bywaters, David A. “Political Parallel in Augustan England.” Dissertation
Abstracts International. Sept. 1985, v. 46(3) p. 704A.
Copley, Stephen; Haywood, Ian. “Luxury, Refuse, and Poetry: John Gay's
Trivia.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the Scriblerians. London:
Denning, Michael. “Beggars and Thieves.” Literature and History. Spring
1982, v. 8(1) p. 41-55.
DeRitter, William Jones, Jr. “Authors and Audiences: The Development of
Eighteenth-Century Literary Forms.” Dissertation Abstracts
International. June 1989, v. 49(12) p. 3731A.
Downie, J. Alan. “Gay's Politics.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the
Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Downie, J. Alan. “Walpole, 'the Poet's Foe'.” Black, Jeremy, ed., Britain in
the Age of Walpole. New York: St. Martin's, 1984.
Duckworth, Alistair M. “Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and the
Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England.” English Language
Notes. June 1989, v. 26(4) p. 80-85.
Dugaw, Dianne. “Folklore and John Gay's Satire.” SEL: Studies in English
Literature, 1500-1900. Summer 1991, v. 31(3) p. 515-33.
Fischer, John Irwin. “Never on Sunday: John Jay's The Shepherd's Week.”
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. 1981, v. 10 p. 191-203.
Gillespie, Norman. “An Operatic Version of John Gay's Dione.” English
Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature. Oct. 1984, v.
65(5) p. 420-425.
Gillespie, Norman. “The Origins and Early History of 'Sally in Our Alley'.”
Review of English Studies: A Quarterly Journal of English Literature
and the English Language. May 1984, v. 35(138) p. 203-208.
Hammond, Brean S. “'A Poet, and a Patron, and Ten Pound': John Gay and
Patronage.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the Scriblerians. London:
Hammond, Brean S. “Scriblerian Self-Fashioning.” Yearbook of English
Studies. 1988, v. 18 p. 108-124.
Hannaford, Stephen “The Shape of Eighteenth-Century English Drama.”
Theatre Survey: The American Journal of Theatre History. Nov. 1980,
v. 21(2) p. 93-103.
Hassler, Donald M. “Dhalgren, The Beggar's Opera, and Georgic: Implications
for the Nature of Genre.” Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction
and Fantasy. Winter 1989, v. 30(4) p. 332-338.
Judy, David Jones. “A Reconstruction of the First Production of The Beggar's
Opera.” Dissertation Abstracts International. May 1983, v. 43(11) p.
Kephart, Carolyn .”An Unnoticed Forerunner of 'The Beggar's Opera'.” Music
and Letters. July-Oct. 1980, v. 61(3-4) p. 266-271.
Kievitt, Frank David “Three Times Three Penny: Brecht's Adaptations of The
Beggar's Opera.” Mid-Hudson Language Studies. 1984, v. 7 p. 57-63.
Kirk, Eugene. “Gay's 'Roving Muse': Problems of Genre and Intention in
Trivia.” English Studies: A Journal of English Language and
Literature. June 1981, v. 62(3) p. 259-270.
Lamoine, Georges. “Note sur la parodie de la pastorale dans The Beggar's
Opera.” Etudes Anglaises: Grande-Bretagne, Etats-Unis. Jan.-March
1990, v. 43(1) p. 100-102.
Lewis, Peter. “The Beaux' Stratagem and The Beggar's Opera.” Notes and
Queries. June 1981, v. 28 (226)(3) p. 221-224.
Lewis, Peter. “The Beggar's Rags to Rich's and Other Dramatic
Transformations.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the Scriblerians.
London: Vision, 1988.
Lewis, Peter. “'An irregular dog': Gay's Alternative Theatre.” Yearbook of
English Studies. 1988, v. 18 p. 231-246.
Lindfors, Bernth “Begging Questions in Wole Soyinka's Opera Wonyosi.”
Ariel: A Review of International English Literature. July 1981, v.
12(3) p. 21-33.
Lindgren, Lowell. “Camilla and The Beggar's Opera.” Philological
Quarterly. Winter 1980, v. 59(1) p. 44-61.
McWhir, Anne. “The Wolf in the Fold: John Gay in The Shepherd's Week and
Trivia.” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. Summer 1983,
v. 23(3) p. 413-423.
Michon, Jacques. “Genese d'un chef-d'oeuvre: The Beggar's Opera.” Willems,
Michele, ed., Aspects du theatre anglo-saxon. Rouen: Pubs. de
l'Universite de Rouen, 1981.
Morgan, Paula M. “E. L. Davenport and Black-Eyed Susan: A Musical Episode in
Nineteenth-Century Theatre.” Princeton University Library Chronicle.
Autumn 1986, v. 48(1) p. 21-37.
Noble, Yvonne, and Nicholas Temperley. “The Beggar's Opera (1953 and
1983).” Eighteenth-Century Life. May 1986, v. 10(2) p. 109-117.
Noble, Yvonne. “John Gay's Monument.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the
Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Noble, Yvonne. “Sex and Gender in Gay's Achilles.” Lewis, Peter, ed.,
John Gay and the Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Pavlopoulos, Francoise. “Musique et violence dans l'Angleterre de
dixhuitieme siecle.” Morvan, Alain, ed., Savoir et violence en
Angleterre du XVIe au XIXe siecle. Lille: Univ. de Lille III; 1987.
Rogers, Pat. “Gay and the World of Opera.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and
the Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Sabor, Peter. “Wole Soyinka and the Scriblerians.” World Literature
Written in English. Spring 1989, v. 29(1) p. 43-51.
Salmon, Richard J. “Two Operas for Beggars: A Political Reading. Theoria:
A Journal of Studies in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Oct. 1981, v. 57 p. 63-81.
Shearer, Ellen Bond “Ovid and Scriblerus: An Exploration of Techniques and
Themes from the Metamorphoses of Ovid in the Works of Pope, Swift, Gay,
Arbuthnot, and Parnell.” Dissertation Abstracts International. July
1981, v. 42(1) p. 230A-231A.
Spacks, Patricia Meyer. “John Gay's Dramatic Works.” Papers on Language and
Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and
Literature. Winter 1986, v. 22(1) p. 100-104.
Spielman, Hans R. “Zum Sensibility-Begriff im englischen fruhburgerlichen.”
Drama Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht. 1984, v. 17(2) p. 97-117.
Steiner, Peter. “Cops or Robbers: Vaclav Havel's Beggar's Opera.” Harris,
Jane Gary, ed., American Contributions to the Tenth International
Congress of Slavists, Sofia, September 1988: Literature. Columbus, OH:
Tasch, Peter A. “The Beggar's Opera and The Libertine.” Notes and Queries
Mar. 1989, v. 36 (234)(1) p. 52.
Tonkin, Humphrey. “De Trigrosa opero al Trigrosa romano.” Lit. Foiro.
Dec. 1985, v. 16(94) p. 9-16.
Voisine, Jacques. “La Condition feminine dans L'Opera du mendiant; Actes
du colloque tenu a Paris, les 24 et 25 octobre 1975.” La Femme en
Angleterre et dans les Colonies americaines aux XVIIe et XVIIIe
siecles. Lille: Pub. de l'Universite de Lille III, 1976.
Walker, John. “Hogarth's Painting 'The Beggar's Opera': Cast and Audience
at the First Night.” Wilmerding, John, ed., Essays in Honor of Paul
Mellon: Collector and Benefactor. Washington, DC: National Gallery,
Weisstein, Ulrich. “Brecht's Victorian Version of Gay: Imitation and
Originality in the Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera).” Mews,
Siegfried, comp., Critical Essays on Bertolt Brecht. Boston: Hall,
Wertheim, Albert. “Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum in the New World: John
Gay and Peter Hacks.” Maske und Kothurn: Internationale Beitrage zur
Theaterwissenschaft. 1981, v. 27(2-3) p. 176-184.
Williams, Carolyn D. “The Migrant Muses: A Study of Gay's Later Drama.”
Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Wolf, Janet Sorlien “The Augustan Mock Form, 1678-1743: A Reconsideration
of Some Major Examples.” Dissertation Abstracts International. Aug.
1985, v. 46(2) p. 435A.
Wood, Nigel. “Gay and the Ironies of Rustic Simplicity.” Lewis, Peter, ed.,
John Gay and the Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Woodman, Tom. “'Vulgar Circumstance' and 'Due Civilities': Gay's Art of
Polite Living in Town.” Lewis, Peter, ed., John Gay and the
Scriblerians. London: Vision, 1988.
Zach, Wolfgang. “Fascination and Scandal: On John Gay's Beggar's Opera and
the Doctrine of Poetic Justice.” Welch, Robert, ed., Bushrui, Suheil
Badi ed., Literature and the Art of Creation. Totowa, NJ: Barnes &
Baptized at Barnstaple, Devon, on September 16, 1685, during the reign
of Charles II, John Gay was orphaned by the age of ten but raised by a
kind uncle, who saw to his education at the local grammar school. On
reaching adulthood, Gay was apprenticed to a mercer, but he disliked this
occupation and found a post, in or near 1712, as secretary to the Duchess
of Monmouth. In 1714, with the sponsorship of Jonathan Swift, Gay joined
the household of Lord Clarendon, and journeyed with him to the Continent.
Gay's friendly and ingratiating character won him many friends, not a few
of whom were courtiers who found employment for him, either in their own
households, or with the Government, throughout his life. Immediately
after losing a small fortune in the South Sea Bubble, Gay was appointed
Lottery Commissioner (!!), a post he held nearly to the end of his life.
Gay never married, and divided his time among his friends, especially the
Duke and Duchess of Queensberry and the members of the Scriblerians,
including Swift and Pope.
John Gay produced, apart from The Beggar's Opera
, a small body of
prose and poetry ranging in quality from brilliant to drab. In 1712 was
printed, but never acted, a short topical play, The Mohocks
the exploits of a gang who had named themselves after a warlike Native
Come fill up the Glass,
Round, round let it pass,
'Till our Reason be lost in our Wine:
Leave Conscience's Rules
To Women and Fools,
This only can make us divine.
Chorus. Then a Mohock, a Mohock I'll be,
No Laws shall restrain
Our Libertine Reign,
We'll riot, drink on, and be free. [All Drink.
The point of this slight work, if it has one, seems to be that frolicsome
gentlemen, by introducing chaos into society, have only themselves to
blame if that chaos leads to their own downfall. The moral concern that
drives The Beggar's Opera is found here, along with its sense of play
and eye for detail; it is easy to see why the Scriblerians adopted Gay so
wholeheartedly so early in his career.
In 1714, his The Shepherd's Week
appeared, demonstrating a sustained
competence in producing couplets which, in the pastoral tradition,
oscillate gently between mockery and a sweet seriousness:
Ah woful Day! ah woful Noon and Morn!
When first by thee my Younglings white were shorn,
Then first, I ween, I cast a Lover's Eye,
My Sheep were Silly, but more Silly I.
Beneath the Shears they felt no lasting Smart,
They lost but Fleeces while I lost a Heart.
The What-d'ye Call it, a Tragi-Comi-Pastoral-Farce, was briefly
staged in 1715. It has relatively little merit, or interest other than
that Alexander Pope and John Arbuthnot seem to have assisted in the
writing of it. Gay's concern here, as it would be in The Beggar's
Opera, is the suffering imposed upon the poor by the rich in a corrupt
A year later, in humorous tribute to his adopted London, Gay produced
Trivia: or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London
inconveniences of life amid eighteenth-century urban hurly-burly are
Pent round with Perils, in the Midst you stand,
And call for Aid in vain; the Coachman swears,
And Car-Men drive, unmindful of thy Prayers.
Where wilt thou turn? ah! whither wilt thou fly?
On ev'ry Side the pressing Spokes are nigh.
In 1724, a rather stilted, if well plotted, tragedy, The Captives,
was staged at Drury-Lane. In 1727, Gay brought out a collection of
original verse Fables on the model of Aesop. They are good reading,
despite their subsequent neglect, but they are overshadowed by the
crystalline clarity and fine-honed irony of The Beggar's Opera.
Gay, with the encouragement of Swift and Pope, tried to interest Colley
Cibber, the manager of the theatre at Drury-Lane, in putting on his new
ballad farce, but encountered disdain. It is possible that the
experienced Cibber liked the work, but mistrusted its considerable
departure from accepted theatrical conventions and potentially dangerous
political satire. The Duchess of Queensberry used her influence (and
money: she promised to cover costs in the event of a loss) to convince
another reluctant manager, John Rich of the Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, to take
on the piece. Rich had had a mild success recently with a revival of The
Merry Wives of Windsor, but had since found very little useful material
to bring in the crowds, and was staging a number of unmemorable
pantomimes, even playing the part of Harlequin himself (Schultz 11).
James Quin, the company's leading actor, was to have been Macheath, but
felt himself a poor singer and uncomfortable with the role, and
recommended the more obscure Thomas Walker, who was found backstage
humming one of the songs in a lively fashion, and was hired on the spot
(Schultz 36-37). Walker was not, in fact, a great singer, but he brought
to the role a romantic and aristocratic verve that was a perfect foil for
the sweet and idealistic Polly. Miss Lavinia Fenton, a player with the
company, who had been earning fifteen shillings a week, was found to be a
very able singer for the part of Polly, and was engaged for the part at
thirty shillings a week Schultz 23).
The first performance, on January 29, began, it is said, with some
concern on the part of the audience, for the departure from the
conventions of the day was considerable. But the sparkling dialogue, witty
satire, and ingenious ballads set to well-loved familiar tunes carried
their own weight, and we have a report from Pope, as remembered by Joseph
We were all at the first night of it, in great uncertainty of the
event; till we were very much encouraged by overhearing the Duke
of Argyle, who sat in the box next to us, say, “it will do,—it
must do!—I see it in the eyes of them.”—This was a good while
before the first act was over, and so gave us ease soon; for the
duke, (besides his own good taste) has a more particular knack
than anyone now living, in discovering the taste of the public. He
was quite right in this, as usual; the good nature of the audience
appeared stronger and stronger with every act, and ended in a
clamour of applause (Anecdotes 159; in Schultz, 3).
The success proved overwhelming. The London weekly The Craftsman
February 3, carried a short notice:
This Week a Dramatick Entertainment has been exhibited at the
Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, entitled the Beggar's Opera,
which has met with a very general Applause, insomuch that the
Waggs say it hath made Rich very Gay, and probably will make Gay
Gay cleared over six hundred pounds, in fact, while Rich was enabled to
begin construction on a fine new theatre in Covent-Garden. That year the
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields performances ran to sixty-two, all to full houses, an
unprecedented achievement. The play was staged in a number of other
cities in England while the original London run was still in progress,
and spread to Wales and Ireland, and was the first musical comedy
produced in New York City. The Beggar's Opera was printed (and pirated)
in many editions; the songs were sung everywhere, and prints of Miss
Fenton as Polly were sold in all the shops. The actress was mobbed
wherever she went, and eventually married a lord, the Duke of Bolton, who
had been present on opening night and lost his heart upon first hearing
her sing “Oh ponder well! Be not severe.”
The Beggar's Opera is a comic farce, poking accurate fun at the
prevailing fashion in Italian opera as well as the social and political
climate of the age. It established a new genre, the “ballad opera,” of
which it remains the only really notable example, though its popularity
led to the work Sheridan and eventually Gilbert and Sullivan. Gay cuts
the standard five acts to three, and tightly controls the dialogue and
plot so that there are delightful surprises in each of the forty-five
Peachum, who is both fence and thief-catcher (see note 10, below), sets
the tone with his song of self-justification as he sits at his account-book:
Through all the Employments of Life
Each Neighbour abuses his Brother;
Whore and Rogue they call Husband and Wife:
All Professions be-rogue one another:
The Priest calls the Lawyer a Cheat,
The Lawyer be-knaves the Divine:
And the Statesman, because he's so great,
Thinks his Trade as honest as mine.
Mrs. Peachum comes in, and overhearing her husband's blacklisting of
unproductive thieves, remonstrates with him over one of them, but easily
You know, my Dear, I never meddle in matters of Death; I always leave
those Affairs to you. Women are indeed bad Judges in these cases, for
they are so partial to the Brave that they think every Man handsome
who is going to the Camp or the Gallows.
The middle-class criminal complacency of these two is shattered by their
discovery that their daughter Polly has secretly married Macheath, the
famous highwayman. Peachum's famous objection:
Do you think your Mother and I should have liv'd comfortably so long
together if ever we had been married?
is seconded by Mrs. Peachum's:
Can you support the Expence of a Husband, Hussy, in Gaming, Drinking
and Whoring? Have you Money enough to carry on the daily Quarrels of
Man and Wife about who shall squander most? There are not many
Husbands and Wives, who can bear the Charges of plaguing one another
in a handsome way.
The parents conclude, however, that the match may make sense, provided
the husband can be killed for his money. They depart, intent on this
errand, and we find that Polly has hidden her man on the premises. She
informs him of his danger, and there follows a touching duet, in spite of
its intentional burlesque of popular love scenes:
MACHEATH. And I would love you all the Day,
POLLY. Every Night would kiss and play,
MACHEATH. If with me you'd fondly stray
POLLY. Over the Hills and far away.
Macheath's idea of escaping is to repair to a tavern and gather around
him a company of women of dubious virtue. These, though they are of the
lowest possible class of society, vie with one another in displaying
perfect drawing-room manners, although the subject of their conversation
is their success in picking pockets and shoplifting. Two of them, to
Macheath's great surprise, have contracted with Peachum to capture him,
and Macheath finds himself a prisoner in Newgate, the great City prison.
Here, it develops, the jailor's daughter, Lucy Lockit, awaits her chance
to upbraid Macheath for having promised to marry her, and reneged.
You base Man you,——how can you look me in the Face after what hath
passed between us?——See here, perfidious Wretch, how I am forc'd to
bear about the Load of Infamy you have laid upon me——O Macheath!
thou hast robb'd me of my Quiet——to see thee tortur'd would give me
Macheath succeeds in mollifying her, only to have Polly drop in at this
inopportune moment, nearly ruining his chances of escape by claiming him
for her husband in Lucy's presence. Macheath finds himself forced to
pretend that Polly is crazy, and succeeds in forcing her to retreat—but
something in the performance fills Lucy with foreboding: “But that Polly
runs in my Head strangely.” And she sings, affectingly:
If love be not his Guide,
He never will come back!
There would be, as the Beggar promised, difficulty choosing between the
two young women, but for Lucy's capacity for violence and revenge.
Macheath notices, and this would be fatal to her cause, were it not lost
LUCY. How happy I am, if you say this from your heart! For I love
thee so, that I could sooner bear to see thee hang'd than in the Arms
MACHEATH. But could'st thou bear to see me hang'd?
In spite of her fears, Lucy aids Macheath in his escape. Her father
learns of Macheath's promise of marriage to her, and determines to learn
from Peachum the status of Polly's possible marriage, for if Macheath is
recaptured and hanged, his fortune will be subject to rival claims. Lockit
visits Peachum, and they discover, while listening to a long-winded
account by Mrs. Trapes, the whereabouts of Macheath. They conclude to go
halves in him, and the chase is on. Mrs. Trapes shows the practical
presence of mind that characterizes these underworld characters, by not
presuming upon Peachum and Lockit's promise of a reward:
TRAPES. I don't enquire after your Affairs——so whatever happens,
I wash my hands on't——It hath always been my Maxim, that one Friend
should assist another——But if you please——I'll take one of the
Scarfs home with me. 'Tis always good to have something in Hand.
Polly, meanwhile, goes to visit Lucy in hopes of working something out,
little knowing that Lucy has resolved to poison her. In a fine takeoff on
melodramatic murder scenes, Polly narrowly avoids the cup, and Macheath's
recapture is revealed. In the scene memorialized by Hogarth, who was
present on opening night, The two “wives” plead with their fathers,
unavailingly, for Macheath's life. Then, in a moment of inspired
burlesque, Macheath finds that his life has become too complex for him:
JAILOR. Four Women more, Captain, with a Child apiece! See, here
MACHEATH. What——four Wives more!——This is too much——Here——
tell the Sheriff's Officers I am ready.
A scene, reminiscent of the interruptions in The Rehearsal, interposes,
in which the Beggar explains that he would have provided a properly moral
ending with the hanging of Macheath, “and for the other Personages of the
Drama, the Audience is to suppose they were all either hang'd or
transported.” But the “taste of the town” will not allow this, for the
people had not come to see a tragedy, and must have a happy ending.
Macheath is brought back, to the general cry of “a Reprieve,” and invites
all to a dance of celebration, declaring to Polly that he acknowledges
his marriage to her as binding.
The intent of the play is clearly to remind those in high place that
corruption at their level leads to corruption and suffering throughout
society. As such, it is a highly moral play, in spite of its apparent
glamorization of the criminal life. Two weeks after opening night, an
article appeared in The Craftsman
, the leading Opposition newspaper,
ostensibly protesting Gay's work as libelous, but actually assisting him
in satirizing the Walpole establishment by very clumsily taking the
It will, I know, be said, by these libertine Stage-Players, that the
Satire is general; and that it discovers a Consciousness of Guilt for
any particular Man to apply it to Himself. But they seem to forget
that there are such things as Innuendo's (a never-failing Method of
explaining Libels)....Nay the very Title of this Piece and the
principal Character, which is that of an Highwayman, sufficiently
discover the mischievous Design of it; since by this Character
every Body will understand One, who makes it his Business arbitrarily
to levy and collect Money on the People for his own Use, and of which
he always dreads to give an Account——Is not this squinting with a
vengeance, and wounding Persons in Authority through the Sides of a
common Malefactor? (in Guerinot & Jilg, 87-88)
The commentator drives home his point by taking note of the Beggar's last
remark, which is the most important of the play: “That the lower People
have their Vices in a Degree as well as the Rich, and are punished for
them,——innuendo, that rich People never are” (89). The article was
reprinted as A Key To The Beggar's Opera, and widely distributed.
Following the success of the Opera, Gay wrote a sequel in which Polly
follows her husband to the West Indies, which though never performed (it
was banned by the Lord Chamberlain, presumably for the sharp satire it
contained), sold very well in the bookshops. Polly
plotted and attempts too many things at once, though its songs are not
Tho' peevish and old
If Women have Gold,
They have Youth, Good-Humour and Beauty:
Among all Mankind
Without it we find
Nor Love, nor Favour nor Duty.
Gay also wrote, as he was nearing his end, a serious opera, Achilles,
which was performed briefly at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, and
allowed quietly to disappear into deserved obscurity.
To the end, although Gay was financially improvident, his loyal
friends, particularly the Duchess of Queensberry, watched over him. He
died in London in 1732, at forty-seven years of age. His remains were
interred in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, and marked with an
inscription which included these lines:
Life is a Jest, and all Things show it:
I thought so once, and now I know it.
Gay was a serious artist, never more so than when producing satire; but
it is fitting for the persona of the Beggar to pronounce his last rites.