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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 223 pages of information about The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield.
in such a literary occupation, but in the days of Nance Oldfield to con the pages of Beaumont and Fletcher was considered a privilege rather than a duty.  Then, again, the little seamstress had a soul above threads and thimbles; her heart was with the players, and we can imagine her running off some idle afternoon to peep slyly into Drury Lane Theatre, or perhaps walk over into Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where the noble Betterton and his companions had formed a rival company.  The performance over, she hurries to the Mitre Tavern, in St. James’s Market, and here she is sure of a warm welcome, as is but natural, since the Mrs. Voss who rules the destinies of the hostelry is Anne’s elder sister[A].  Here the girl loves to spend those rare moments of leisure, reading aloud the comedies of long ago and dreaming of the future; and here, too, it is that dashing Captain Farquhar listens in amazement as she recites the “Scornful Lady.”

[Footnote A:  According to one authority Mrs. Voss was Anne’s aunt.  We adhere, however, to Dr. Doran’s account of the relationship.]

George Farquhar—­how his name conjures up a vision of all that is brilliant, rakish, and bibulous in the expiring days of the seventeenth century!  It is easy to picture him, as he stands near the congenial bar of the tavern, entranced by the liquid tones and marvellous expression of Nance’s youthful voice.  He has a whimsical, good-humoured face, perhaps showing the rubicund effects of steady drinking (as whose features did not in those halcyon times of merry nights and tired mornings?), and a general air of loving the world and its pleasures, despite a secret suspicion that a hard-hearted bailiff may be lying in wait around the corner.  His flowing wig may seem a trifle old, the embroidery on his once resplendent vest look sadly tarnished, and the cloth of his skirted coat exhibit the unmistakable symptoms of age, but, for all that, Captain Farquhar stands forth an honourable, high-spirited gentleman.  And gentleman George Farquhar is both by birth and bearing.  Was he not the son of genteel parents living in the North of Ireland, and did he not receive a polite education at the University in Dublin?  So polite, indeed, has his training been that he is already the author of that wonderful “Love and a Bottle,” a comedy wherein he amusingly holds the mirror up to English vices, including his own.  And, speaking of vices, he can now look back to those salad days when he wrote verses of unimpeachable morality, setting forth, among other sentiments, that—­

  “The pliant Soul of erring Youth
  Is, like soft Wax, or moisten’d Clay,
  Apt to receive all heav’nly Truth,
  Or yield to Tyrant Ill the Sway. 
  Shun Evil in your early Years,
  And Manhood may to Virtue rise;
  But he who, in his Youth, appears
  A Fool, in Age will ne’er be wise.”

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