|Part 1 is set in the home of the hypochondriac Alderman Pillbury,
(adorned with medical and surgical Apparatus, viz. an Electrifying Machine,
Shower Bath &c.)
Enter Captain Furlough, who complains that the Alderman will not allow him to marry his daughter Flirtilla, since he is only interested in having doctors in the family. On hearing Pillbury and his wife approach, he takes refuge in the chimney. Pillbury enters, and has a conversation with his wife, who is preparing his restorative lunch offstage. When he goes off for his lunch, he is replaced by Mrs. Pillbury, who converses with him offstage, and then leaves to `go to Dr. Shockbone directly, and have you electrified'. After a few lines from Pillbury to indicate his falling asleep, Vattemare reappears as Nicholas, the abused, but resourceful manservant, and complains of his treatment. There then follows a long piece of business in which Nicholas pretends to fry an omelette for Pillbury (first pretending to saw up the table to make a fire). Nicholas then banters with Captain Furlough, who is still up the chimney. Nicholas sends him up to the top, where he emerges and sings `a French air' on the roof.
Part II opens in the interior of a dentist's shop. Nicholas arrives, having run away from Pillbury's service. A board reads:
"Andrew Stump, Surgeon Dentist - People Trepanned here and teeth drawn; bleeding performed, and cupping with expedition. - N.B. Files, scrapes, and professes the Fiddle. New strings to be had here." - "P.S. Attempts to electrify."
A section of the stage is partitioned off with a curtain. Vattemare produces Stump's voice fluctuating in volume behind an opening and closing door, as Nicholas asks him for wine. A dialogue ensues between Nicholas and Stump's servant, Jacob, who has been sent to the cellar to fetch wine, where he has fallen asleep. Nicholas tricks him into giving him a bottle, and locks him in, giving Stump instead some of his own patent medicine. When Pillbury and his wife arrive, Nicholas impersonates the dentist and gets his revenge on Pillbury by painfully extracting several of his teeth, behind the curtain.
Part III is set in Pillbury's country seat, Gallipot Place.
Nicholas enters and explains that he is prosecuting the ambitions of Furlough with Flirtilla. He hides under the table and produces a colloquy between Captain Furlough knocking at the door and imitating the voice of Pillbury's friend Squire Tivy, with his dog. Dogs, cats and grunting pigs punctuate their interchange. There is another offstage conversation between Mr and Mrs Pillbury, during which a child wakes and cries, described in the dramatis personae as `PILLBURY MINIMUS, - an infant in arms, with a fine voice for Tragedy. Not to be seen from the intervention of a Cradle, and breaking through the desirable consummation of Children being seen and not heard. Pillbury appears (Vattemare having presumably escaped through the stage trap door used in the previous scene to brain Jacob as he attempted to ascend from the cellar), and exits to go hunting. A speech from Mrs. P. settling herself back to sleep, gives time for Vattemare to transform himself into and Flirtilla, who enters and speaks of her longing for Captain Furlough. Nicholas addresses her from under her dressing table, telling her of the imminent arrival of Captain Furlough. When she goes to wait for him in the clothes press, Nicholas comes out and acts out the persons of nuns remembered from his youth, described in the category of `Imitated Half-Length Persons' as
`CELESTINE, - a young Novice, learning to sing, but wanting an Ear and
The Captain knocks, and Nicholas exits to let him in; we hear their conversation outside, as they hear Pillbury returning. The Captain enters, hides himself in an armchair, which he turns to the wall. Nicholas warns the Captain of Pillbury's arrival, after which Pillbury indeed enters, hiding himself in a box to surprise the Captain. Nicholas's next entrance is preceded only by `A pause': he violently shakes the box with Pillbury in it, and protesting mightily. Nicholas forces him to give his consent to the Captain's marriage before he will let him out of the box. Nicholas then goes to each of the other places in which characters have taken refuge in turn, revealing that they are empty. He pursues the voices of the characters round the stage, hearing them now in the chimney, now in the cellar. Finally, Pillbury tells him that everyone is in the box with him: Nicholas turns it over, to reveal that it is empty.
Nich. You do? Ah! now I recollect your voice. You are my dear friend after all. What ups and downs we have in the world, worthy Sir! I have the marriage agreement drawn up just as you desired; and, as I know you are very anxious to sign it, here is the pen and ink. You shall do it, before you leave the box.
Pillbury, in box. Nay; but, my dear friend, why this hurry?
Nich. Make haste; or I shall be obliged to go: and then I must take you in this box, in the stage cart, to the Proctor's; and you know that is over the stones. Here is the pen and ink; and I will open the lid to give you a little light. There!
Pillbury, in box. I suppose I must, to save my life.
Nich. Have you light enough?
Pillbury, in box. No; a little higher.
Nich. Will that do?
Pillbury, in box. A little higher. There, that will do.
[Signs, writing in the box.]
Nich. And this will do. He's done, and all's done.
Pillbury, in box. Now let me out.
Nich. Manners! the young folks first, and then you. I will tell the Captain first. Captain, your happiness is complete: I have got Mr. Pillbury's consent. Come forth, and let me finish my exertion, by uniting you with the girl of your heart.
Nich. Thank ye, thank ye. This way, Sir.
[Turns round arm chair. - No one there]
Eh! why he's gone: and yet I could almost swear I heard his voice there.
Oh, Oh! I know now; the young dog is with his sweetheart in the clothes
press. [Goes to clothes press.] Yes, yes, he's pressing her up close
enough there. Come forth, you young rogues; it's all signed and sealed:
only wants the Parson's amen.
Flirt. behind. Yes, we're both here, Nicholas.
Capt. behind. Aye, aye; we're both here, my boy.
Mrs. Pill. behind. Wait a moment, till I have finished dressing. There, I am ready now, and you may take away the screen. I shall want you to hold the child.
Nich. I thought they were all pigged in together here. Come along.
Capt. up chimney. No, we are in the cellar.
Nich. In the cellar! They are playing at hide and seek. Are you in the cellar?
Flirt. in cellar. No; we are in the box with Mr. Pillbury.
Nich. Oh! I thought they would not be so low as to go in the cellar. Mr. Pillbury! Mr. Pillbury!
Pill. in box. Ulloa!
Nich. You have got your family in the box with you.
Pillbury, in box. Yes; we are all here; let us out directly.
Nich. I will; for they must be nearly stifled, so many of them. Now then.
W.T. Moncrieff, Adventures of a Ventriloquist; or, the Rogueries of Nicholas; An entirely new Comic, Characteristic, Vocalic, Mimitic, Multiformical, Maniloquous, Ubiquitarical Entertainment, In Three Parts, As Embodied, Illustrated, and Delivered at the Adelphi Theatre, Strand (London: John Lowndes, 1822).