La Diligence (1819)

The scene (as represented in the plate) consists of an Inn-yard, with the Diligence, marked no. 34, ready to set out from the Post-House. Over the front in large characters, MESSAGERIES ROYALE. The following direction is also seen over the door "PARLIEZ AU PORTIER." Several boots are strewed upon the ground; some clean, and others dirty.

A table of postes is put up over the Office-window.

The following stages are enumerated,
Calais au Brison.
Boulogne sur Mer.
Montreiul sur Mer.
Abbeville au Paris.
Underneath an English posting-bill.
Light Coaches to Paris, morning and evening, from the White Bear, Piccadilly.

The passengers going by the DILIGENCE, are thus described by Mr. Matthews [sic], in the following characters: -

Jemmy, (English boots), dressed in a long smock-frock, like an English ostler, sitting down, cleaning a boot.

Jemmy Martin's my name,
          And my brother's call'd Billy;
I polish boots for my fame,
          And I books for the Dilly!
               Tol de rol lol, tol de rol lol, &c.
(Yes, I'ze deputy book-keeper, and does all the work.)

You've heard of my Eye-Betty -
           Martin, my mother,
And the fam'd Day and Martin,
           That Martin's my brother.
                Tol de rol lol, tol de rol lol, &c.

Ah! Let me see; this is the Wellington Cut. The French people (laughing) don't like the Wellington Cut, it has too much trimmings about it for them. They used to call me Jemmy Martin, when I lived at the Bell-inn, Holborn; but here they call me Mons. Le Bot. There's the Dilly, and a pretty consarn it is; I wish Jem Bradshaw, that drives the Manchester, saw it. The French are funny fellows. What a mort of English is come here for improvement; (laughing) but what a parcel of flats; they get no more polish here, than what I give's 'em. This big boot belongs to Mr. Hulk, the Attorney, that's at the Hot Hell, I wish him safe out of it. And this (holding up a boot) belongs to Mr. Starch, the Dandy. He's a precious rum customer. (Ventriloquism) Miss Evelina Evergreen, on the other side of the window. " I want to book a place in the Diligence for Calais. How much is it?" "Fifty franks," "but you must put down half for the deposit; forty franks is half fifty, here ma'am." "Very well, I'll be ready." "But where's the money, ma'am. - Marm, marm, you an't paid, marm." (running after her.)

Monsieur Peremptoire, from behind the window.) "Officare, I vant to put down de name for de Diligence! (Hallo! Here I am.) Monsieur Peremptoire enters, dressed as a French cockney. The change of appearance is so sudden, and the alteration of the countenance from the assistance of a black-wig and whiskers, and the tone, manners, and gestures, are so completely French, as to astonish every spectator.) "I speake the language well, vat is a clock go by?" "What do you want?" (roughly,) "None of your ridiculousness, sare, you Anglaish bore. I say, vat time your Diligence take fright - start, I mean." "Two or three hours." "O, sacre, nasty stick in de mud - answer me, you places have for Jean, Jacques, Clotilde, Antoine, Peremptoire?" "No! hav'nt room for half." "Ah! sacre, you Anglaish brute, you vil not understand me! - dere is my card: - put down de name. Now for little Tommy, I will sheat his Papa. I will play him a russe de guerre. I save de fifty franks. Shall he go in the cabriolet. Non! Shall he go upon the horse, non! non! Shall he go in the boot, non! Ah! ah! let me see, he shall go in my fiddle-case. (Ventriloquism, opening the case, and talking to the child,) "Tommy Tarregon," [sic] "I am almost smothered. I am so glad now." "Vat makes you glad?" "Because I am." "Ah! ah! How find yourself?" "I don't know!" "Don't you be a fool." "Don't you be a fool." "Don't you mock me, sare." "Do you know the multiplication table. How moch is six times eleven?""Why, eleven times six." "And how moch is eleven times six?" "Six times eleven." "Oh'  - you saucy - say after me, - Seextee seex." "Seextee seex." "How dare you mock me, sare; you puppy dog: I will put you in de fiddle-case, you rascal. - Eh! mock me:" "No, you won't!" "No, I won't? what you mean by dat." "Ah, ah, you'll cheat my papa, of my carriage. - Ah, ah." "Who told you so?" "The Dandy!" "What is a Dandy?" "Nothing at all." "You are saucy - sacre - I'll put you again in the case, you head of de block - you - !" "Oh, no, pray don't; I shall be smothered; oh! oh! o --- (shuts down the case, and gets into the diligence.)

Enter SAMUEL STARCH, Esq. (this character is a mere satire on the Dandies) dressed in the exquisite costume. "I say, you bore, where's my boot. A pretty thing; I must look for my boot, amidst boots enough, for half a regiment of cavalry. Let me see, I have not been let out, since I left my garret in Coventry-street; I'm all right, I hope, stays tight, false calves on, &c. Let me see what's the time. I have only my chain, my watch is on tick; gone on a visit to my uncle. I never will travel without a maid servant again. (Attempts to put on his boot, but from the stiffness of his dress, stays, &c. he is unable, and affords a great deal of laughter; he at length goes into the diligence.)

HEZEKIAH HULK, a great Attorney of SIZE-lane. (In point of appearance, he is like the character of Mr. Wiggins which was so ably represented by Mr. Matthews [sic] at the Hay-market theatre a few years since.) "This is a sensible machine, (looking at the diligence,) not like the Dover mail, where three persons pushed me in, and the coachmaker was afterwards obliged to be sent for to take down one side of the coach before I could get out. (Smacking of the whip from behind the scenes.) I shall be too late. I must leave my boot behind me. I must be at the Old Bailey for the trial of the King against Cut Purse - we shall be hanged there. I shall never be able to get into the diligence. (Ventriloquism from Boots in the vehicle.) "I'll help you in, sir." "Pull devil - pull devil - it's a lawyer." Hulk, with great difficulty, appears to be pulled in, during which time the voices of Boots, Peremptoire, Starch, and Hulk, quarrelling as it were, is remarkably well done.

Miss Evelina EVERGREEN, enters as an old maid, dressed in the highest absurdity of fashion (see the plate). This character affords Mr. Matthews [sic] an excellent opportunity for the display of his great mimic talent. Her dog, puggy, is well imitated; and also her parrot. "Where shall I hide my shawl; these fellows commit great indecencies in searching after Valenciene's lace." The voice of little Tommy TARRAGON now attends her notice, who calls out from the fiddle-case - "Oh, dear! I shall be smothered! I shall be smothered!" "Lord, help me, what's that? surely, I heard a voice." "Let me out! I shall be smothered." - The voice having direc'ed her to the fiddle-case, which she opens, and exclaims - "A child! who put you there, my dear?" - "My Tutor," - "Who is your Tutor?" - "Ah, ah," says Tommy, "I know you - I know you!" "Know me, child? why, who am I?" "You are six times nine." "Shocking impertinence! indeed, - No, no, child; I am only five times six. What an interesting moment! (Smacking of the whip). O dear, I shall be too late. - What will be the consequence if I am caught in this situation with a child. The parish officers will demand security from me. But the sneers of my dear Belinda Blue Stocking, will be insupportable. O, I have it." She at length, puts little Tommy in the basket with puggy; when the imitation of both, astonish [sic] the audience. (Sings.)

Pretty puggy, wuggy, goes to bed at sun down,
Shall have a lump of sugar when he gets to London.
(The dog barking the chorus of)
                              Bow, wow, wow.
Miss Evergreen gets into the diligence, which she describes as "Mount Etna upon wheels." (Here an imitation of all the voices from the supposed passengers within the diligence are given with great effect, objecting to receive inside the coach, the parrot and puggy-wuggy. The dog barking, rendering the quarrel more natural.)

The time is so short, that it appears scarcely possible for any person to change their dress so completely, and enter as Monsieur POUDRE MENEUR, dressed as a French postilion, belonging to the diligence. After singing a French song, he goes into the diligence; when Mr. Matthews appears at the two windows of the vehicle, in all the above characters, and the diligence moves off, and the dropping of the curtain closes the performances, amidst the most enthusiastic approbation, Monsieur Poudre Meneur, singing,

Vite! vite! alons, alons!
La Diligence parte de Calais.
Mathews's Trip to Paris; or, the Dramatic Tourist: Containing the Whole of the Songs, Adventures and Misadventures, Original Anecdotes, High and Low Life, Whimsical Imitation of French and English Characters, Of Talma, Professors of Craniology, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera; As Gleaned By That Unrivalled Performer, "Abroad" and "At Home," And Delivered By Him At The English Opera House; With Remarks Upon the Merits of the Lecture. Taken in Short-hand, And Dedicated to Dandy Cockney, Esq. By R. Mitchell (London: Dean and Munday, 1819), pp. 45-9.

Compiled by Steven Connor. as part of The Dumbstruck Archive, a continuing, online supplement to Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).