The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield.

Sir courtly.  I write like a gentleman, soft and easy.”

It is only a titter, however, that Cibber can produce this afternoon, or evening,[A] nor does the audience take the usual relish in that touch-and-go rubbish of a duet sung by a supposed Indian and his love, a duet in which the former declares: 

  “My other Females all Yellow, fair or Black,
  To thy Charmes shall prostrate fall,
  As every kind of elephant does
  To the white Elephant Buitenacke. 
  And thou alone shall have from me
  Jimminy, Gomminy, whee, whee, whee,
  The Gomminy, Jimminy, whee.”

To which the lovely maiden answers: 

  “The great Jaw-waw that rules our Land,
    And pearly Indian sea
  Has not so absolute Command
    As thou hast over me,
  With a Jimminy, Gomminy, Gomminy,
  Jimminy, Jimminy, Gomminy, whee.”

[Footnote A:  Theatrical performances in this reign generally began at 5 p.m.]

When the play is over Nance can take a new part, that of a feminine conqueror.  She has overshadowed Colley Cibber, who is more dazed than chagrined at the denouement, and she has proved more potent for the public amusement than all the beauties of “Jimminy, Gomminy,” with its elephants, its jaw-waw, and its pearly Indian Sea.  As she sits in the green-room, smiling in girlish triumph while she looks around at the beaux and players who crowd about her, anxious to worship the rising star, her eloquent glance falls on George Farquhar.  There is a tear in his eye, but a radiant expression about the face.  What does the Oldfield’s success mean to the Captain?  Perhaps Anne knows, as she throws him a tender recognition; perhaps she thinks of that song in “Sir Courtly Nice” which runs: 

  “Oh, be kind, my dear, be kind,
  Whilst our Loves and we are Young;
  We shall find, we shall find,
  Time will change the face or mind,
  Youth will not continue long. 
  Oh, be kind, my dear, be kind.”



While Anne Oldfield is resting from her first triumph and preparing for another, let us glance for a moment at the theatrical conditions which surround her.  Curious, perplexing conditions they are, marking as they do a transition between the brilliant but generally filthy period of the Restoration—­a period in which some of the worst and some of the best of plays saw the light—­and the time when the punctilio and artificial decency of the age will cast over the stage the cold light of formality and restraint.  The nation is but slowly recovering from the licentiousness which characterised the merry reign of Charles II., that witty, sceptical sovereign, who never believed in the honesty of man nor the virtue of frail woman.  The playwrights are recovering too, yet, if anything, more tardily than the people; for when a nasty cynicism, like that pervading the old comedies, is once boldly cultivated, many a long day must elapse ere it can be replaced by a cleaner, healthier spirit.

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The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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