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The Man of Mode
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George Etherege was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, around 1636, the eldest of six children to George Etherege and Mary Powney. Little is known of much of his life and especially his early years. He was educated at Lord Williams's School and the next sighting of him is as apprentice to a lawyer before he himself began to study law at Clement's Inn, London, one of the Inns of Chancery. Thereafter conjecture attributes many things to him but none that can be confirmed as fact. However, after the Restoration to the throne of Charles II in 1660 he wrote his first comedy; The Comical Revenge, or, Love in a Tub, which also brought him to the attention of Lord Buckhurst, who later became the Earl of Dorset. The Comical Revenge was performed at the Duke's theatre in 1664 although other accounts say it was premiered at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It is written partly in rhymed heroic verse and contains several comic scenes that are refreshingly bright, especially in the context of other plays performed at the time. The verbal sparring between Sir Frederick and the Widow was a new departure for the stage and it worked brilliantly. An immediate success, it had followed much of the earlier traditions of theatre but had already begun to lay the foundations for what would become the comedy of manners. It gave him an immediate entrée to a world of literary rakes, including Sir Charles Sedley, John Wilmot, the earl of Rochester and many of the roguish elements of the Court circle. He seemed easy-going and amiable and his nicknames seem to confirm this; "gentle George" and "easy Etheredge." Whether this rich life of gaudy pleasures hindered his writing or not it would be another four years before his next play would be finished and performed. In 1668 She Would If She Could, a comedy full of action, wit and spirit, came to the stage. Although it was also seen by others to be frivolous and immoral. However, the play does cement Etheredge’s modern reputation as a powerful figure in English playwriting. The play dropped the romantic verse element to concentrate on flirtation for flirtations own sake. It was a radical departure. Unfortunately, it also flopped. It is said due to bad acting but the sudden movement away from the normal structure of a play may equally be the reason. Etheridge now departed on new adventures and between 1668 and 1671 Etherege resided in Constantinople as the secretary of the English ambassador, Sir Daniel Harvey. Returning once more to English shores he wrote the prologue for the opening, in 1671, of the new Dorset Garden Theatre. In 1676 his last and wittiest comedy, The Man of Mode; or, Sir Fopling Flutter, was brought to the stage. It was an immediate and over-whelming success. He was acclaimed. A writer being the sum of his own experiences it was widely believed that the play’s characters paint comic pictures of several of his well-known contemporaries. Sir Fopling Flutter himself being a portrait of Beau Hewit, the reigning exquisite of the hour, Dorimant a reference to John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, and Medley a portrait of Etherege himself or fellow playwright and wit Sir Charles Sedley. Even the drunkard shoemaker was a real character, who made his fortune from being brought to public attention. After this brilliant success Etheredge retired from literature, and a few years later had lost much of his new fortune to gambling. Etherege was knighted in either 1679 or 1680 and went on to marry the wealthy widow Mary Sheppard Arnold. In March, 1685 he was appointed resident minister in the imperial German court at Regensburg. After three and a half-year's residence and the Glorious Revolution, he left for Paris to join James II in exile. He died in Paris, probably in late 1691, although the date and cause of death are uncertain.

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ISBN: 9781787373426
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The Man of Mode by George Etherege

or, Sir Fopling Flutter

A Comedy

George Etherege was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, around 1636, the eldest of six children to George Etherege and Mary Powney.

Little is known of much of his life and especially his early years. He was educated at Lord Williams's School and the next sighting of him is as apprentice to a lawyer before he himself began to study law at Clement's Inn, London, one of the Inns of Chancery.

 Thereafter conjecture attributes many things to him but none that can be confirmed as fact. 

However, after the Restoration to the throne of Charles II in 1660 he wrote his first comedy; The Comical Revenge, or, Love in a Tub, which also brought him to the attention of Lord Buckhurst, who later became the Earl of Dorset.

The Comical Revenge was performed at the Duke's theatre in 1664 although other accounts say it was premiered at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  It is written partly in rhymed heroic verse and contains several comic scenes that are refreshingly bright, especially in the context of other plays performed at the time. The verbal sparring between Sir Frederick and the Widow was a new departure for the stage and it worked brilliantly.

An immediate success, it had followed much of the earlier traditions of theatre but had already begun to lay the foundations for what would become the comedy of manners.

It gave him an immediate entrée to a world of literary rakes, including Sir Charles Sedley, John Wilmot, the earl of Rochester and many of the roguish elements of the Court circle. He seemed easy-going and amiable and his nicknames seem to confirm this; gentle George and easy Etheredge.

Whether this rich life of gaudy pleasures hindered his writing or not it would be another four years before his next play would be finished and performed.

In 1668 She Would If She Could, a comedy full of action, wit and spirit, came to the stage.  Although it was also seen by others to be frivolous and immoral. However, the play does cement Etheredge’s modern reputation as a powerful figure in English playwriting.  The play dropped the romantic verse element to concentrate on flirtation for flirtations own sake. It was a radical departure.  Unfortunately, it also flopped.  It is said due to bad acting but the sudden movement away from the normal structure of a play may equally be the reason.

Etheridge now departed on new adventures and between 1668 and 1671 Etherege resided in Constantinople as the secretary of the English ambassador, Sir Daniel Harvey.

Returning once more to English shores he wrote the prologue for the opening, in 1671, of the new Dorset Garden Theatre.

In 1676 his last and wittiest comedy, The Man of Mode; or, Sir Fopling Flutter, was brought to the stage. It was an immediate and over-whelming success. He was acclaimed.  A writer being the sum of his own experiences it was widely believed that the play’s characters paint comic pictures of several of his well-known contemporaries. Sir Fopling Flutter himself being a portrait of Beau Hewit, the reigning exquisite of the hour, Dorimant a reference to John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, and Medley a portrait of Etherege himself or fellow playwright and wit Sir Charles Sedley. Even the drunkard shoemaker was a real character, who made his fortune from being brought to public attention.

After this brilliant success Etheredge retired from literature, and a few years later had lost much of his new fortune to gambling.

Etherege was knighted in either 1679 or 1680 and went on to marry the wealthy widow Mary Sheppard Arnold.

In March, 1685 he was appointed resident minister in the imperial German court at Regensburg. After three and a half-year's residence and the Glorious Revolution, he left for Paris to join James II in exile. 

He died in Paris, probably in late 1691, although the date and cause of death are uncertain.

Index of Contents

PROLOGUE by Sir Car Scroope, Baronet

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

ACT I

SCENE I

ACT II

SCENE I

SCENE II

ACT III

SCENE I

SCENE II

SCENE III

ACT IV

SCENE I

SCENE II

SCENE III

ACT V

SCENE I

SCENE II

EPILOGUE by Mr. Dryden

GEORGE ETHEREGE – A CONCISE BIBLIOGRAPHY

THE MAN OF MODE

PROLOGUE by Sir Car Scroope, Baronet

Like dancers on the ropes poor poets fare,

Most perish young, the rest in danger are;

This, one would think, should make our authors wary,

But, gamester like, the giddy fools miscarry.

A lucky hand or two so tempts ’em on,

They cannot leave off play till they’re undone.

With modest fears a muse does first begin,

Like a young wench newly enticed to sin;

But tickled once with praise, by her good will,

The wanton fool would never more lie still.

’Tis an old mistress you’ll meet here to-night,

Whose charms you once have look’d on with delight;

But now of late such dirty drabs have known ye,

A muse o’th’ better sort’s ashamed to own ye.

Nature well drawn, and wit, must now give place

To gaudy nonsense and to dull grimace:

Nor is it strange that you should like so much

That kind of wit, for most of yours is such.

But I’m afraid that while to France we go,

To bring you home fine dresses, dance, and show,

The stage, like you, will but more foppish grow.

Of foreign wares why should we fetch the scum

When we can be so richly served at home?

For, heaven be thank’d, ’tis not so wise an age

But your own follies may supply the stage.

Though often plough’d, there’s no great fear the soil

Should barren grow by the too frequent toil,

While at your doors are to be daily found

Such loads of dunghill to manure the ground.

’Tis by your follies that we players thrive,

As the physicians by diseases live;

And as each year some new distemper reigns,

Whose friendly poison helps t’increase their gains,

So among you there starts up every day

Some new unheard-of fool for us to play.

Then for your own sakes be not too severe,

Nor what you all admire at home, damn here:

Since each is fond of his own ugly face,

Why should you, when we hold it, break the glass?

Dramatis Personae

Mr. Dorimant – a Rake

Mr. Medley – a Gossip

Old Bellair – a Gentleman of Substance

Lady Townley – his Sister

Young Bellair – a Gentleman about Town

Sir Fopling Flutter – a Gentleman of Paris and London

Lady Woodvil – a Lady of moderately advanced years

Harriet Woodvil – her eminently marriageable Daughter

Emilia, Mrs Loveit, Belinda - Gentlewomen

Pert – waiting-woman to Mrs Loveit

Busy – waiting-woman to Harriet

Handy – valet-de-chambre to Mr. Dorimant

Mr. Smirk, a parson

A Shoemaker

An Orange-Woman

Three Slovenly Bullies

Two Chairmen

Pages, Footmen, &c. as required

ACT I

SCENE I

[Dorimant’s dressing-room. A table covered with a toilet; clothes laid ready. Enter DORIMANT in his

gown and slippers, with a note in his hand made up, repeating verses.]

DORIMANT

Now for some ages had the pride of Spain/Made the sun shine on half the world in vain. [looking on the note] For Mrs Loveit. What a dull insipid thing is a billet-doux written in cold blood, after the heat of the business is over! It is a tax upon good-nature which I have here been labouring to pay, and have done it, but with as much regret as ever fanatic paid the Royal Aid or Church Duties. ’Twill have the same fate, I know, that all my notes to her have had of late, ’twill not be thought kind enough. Faith, women are i’ the right when they jealously examine our letters, for in them we always first discover our decay of passion.—Hey! Who waits?

[Enter HANDY]

HANDY

Sir—

DORIMANT

Call a footman.

HANDY

None of’em are come yet.

DORIMANT

Dogs! Will they ever lie snoring a-bed till noon?

HANDY

’Tis all one, sir: if they’re up, you indulge ’em so they’re ever poaching after whores all the morning.

DORIMANT

Take notice henceforward, who’s wanting in his duty, the next clap he gets, he shall rot for an example. What vermin are those chattering without?

HANDY

Foggy Nan the orange-woman and swearing Tom the shoemaker.

DORIMANT

Go; call in that overgrown jade with the flasket of guts before her; fruit is refreshing in a morning.

[Exit HANDY]

DORIMANT

"It is not that I love you less

Than when before your feet I lay" -

[Enter ORANGE-WOMAN with HANDY]

DORIMANT

How now, double-tripe! What news do you bring?

ORANGE-WOMAN

News! Here’s the best fruit has come to town