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The Caxtons — Volume 17 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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PART XVII.




CHAPTER I.


The stage-scene has dropped. Settle yourselves, my good audience; chat
each with his neighbor. Dear madam in the boxes, take up your opera-
glass and look about you. Treat Tom and pretty Sal to some of those
fine oranges, O thou happy-looking mother in the two-shilling gallery!
Yes, brave 'prentice-boys in the tier above, the cat-call by all means!
And you, "most potent, grave, and reverend signiors" in the front row of
the pit, practised critics and steady old playgoers, who shake your
heads at new actors and playwrights, and, true to the creed of your
youth (for the which all honor to you!), firmly believe that we are
shorter by the head than those giants our grandfathers,--laugh or scold
as you will, while the drop-scene still shuts out the stage. It is just
that you should all amuse yourselves in your own way, O spectators! for
the interval is long. All the actors have to change their dresses; all
the scene-shifters are at work sliding the "sides" of a new world into
their grooves; and in high disdain of all unity of time, as of place,
you will see in the play-bills that there is a great demand on your
belief. You are called upon to suppose that we are older by five years
than when you last saw us "fret our hour upon the stage." Five years!
the author tells us especially to humor the belief by letting the drop-
scene linger longer than usual between the lamps and the stage.

Play up, O ye fiddles and kettle-drums! the time is elapsed. Stop that