The Beggar's Opera
By John Gay

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10 chapters

2 hour read


13 minute read

  Title Page Text List of Plates Claud Lovat Fraser by John Drinkwater Note on the Scene and Costumes Cast of Characters Act I Scene I : Peachum’s House Airs I–XVIII Act II Scene I : A Tavern near Newgate Airs XIX–XXIV Scene II : Newgate Airs XXV–XXXVIII Scene III : The Same Air XXXIX Act III Scene I : Newgate Airs XL–XLII Scene II : A Gaming-House Air XLIII Scene III : Peachum’s Lock Airs XLIV, XLV Scene IV : Newgate Airs XLVI–LVI Scene V : The Condemn’d Hold Airs LVII–LXVII Scene II : Newgate Airs XXV–XXXVIII Scene III : The Same Air XXXIX Act III Scene I : Newgate Airs XL–XLII Scene II : A Gaming-House Air XLIII Scene III : Peachum’s Lock Airs XLIV, XLV Scene IV : Newgate Airs XLVI–LVI Scene V : The Condemn’d Hold Airs LVII–LXVII To J. G. and to G. L. F.,...


7 minute read

That when I die this word may stand for me— He had a heart to praise, an eye to see, And beauty was his king. Dead at the age of thirty-one after a sudden operation, Claud Lovat Fraser was as surely a victim of the war as though he had fallen in action. He was full of vigour for his work, but shell-shock had left him with a heart that could not stand a strain of this kind, and all his own fine courage could not help the surgeons in a losing fight. We are not sorry for him—we learn that, not to be sorry for the dead. But for ourselves? This terror is always so fresh, so unexampled. I had telephoned to him to ask whether he would help me in a certain theatrical enterprise. I was told by his servant that he was ill, but one hears these things so...


3 minute read

Superficially the task of staging The Beggar’s Opera was one of supreme ease. Indeed, so easy was it that it became a matter of some embarrassment to prune and select the required amount of data. Here was Hogarth and his actual scene of Newgate with Macheath in chains; here was Laroon’s Cries of London falling, in its edition of 1733, pat into the period; here was the National Portrait Gallery and, added to these, here was the benefit of all Mr. Charles E. Pearce’s research. 1 After a month or two of work in designing, the ease became so marked and apparent that it engendered in me the beginnings of mistrust. Still, I persevered in scene and costume with historically accurate reproduction and, until three weeks before the actual work was due to be carried out at the costumier’s and in the painting shops, I felt comparatively cheerful. Then I reviewed my forces—the...


6 minute read

Constables, Drawers, Turnkey, etc. lady in powdered wig  ...


1 minute read

If Poverty be a Title to Poetry, I am sure no-body can dispute mine. I own myself of the Company of Beggars; and I make one at their Weekly Festivals at St. Giles’s . I have a small Yearly Salary for my Catches, and am welcome to a Dinner there whenever I please, which is more than most Poets can say. Player. As we live by the Muses, it is but Gratitude in us to encourage Poetical Merit wherever we find it. The Muses, contrary to all other Ladies, pay no Distinction to Dress, and never partially mistake the Pertness of Embroidery for Wit, nor the Modesty of Want for Dulness. Be the Author who he will, we push his Play as far as it will go. So (though you are in Want) I wish you success heartily. Beggar. This piece I own was originally writ for the celebrating the Marriage of James Chaunter...


6 minute read

man with eye patch color plate: The Beggar the three Peachums...


29 minute read

Peachum sitting at a Table with a large Book of Accounts before him. musical notation MIDI PDF Through all the Employments of Life Each Neighbour abuses his Brother; Whore and Rogue they call Husband and Wife: All Professions be-rogue one another: The Priest calls the Lawyer a Cheat, The Lawyer be-knaves the Divine: And the Statesman, because he’s so great, Thinks his Trade as honest as mine. A Lawyer is an honest Employment, so is mine. Like me too he acts in a double Capacity, both against Rogues and for ’em; for ’tis but fitting that we should protect and encourage Cheats, since we live by them. Enter Filch . Filch. Sir, Black Moll hath sent word her Trial comes on in the Afternoon, and she hopes you will order Matters so as to bring her off. Peachum. As the Wench is very active and industrious, you may satisfy her...


31 minute read

Jemmy Twitcher , Crook-finger’d Jack , Wat Dreary , Robin of Bagshot , Nimming Ned , Henry Paddington , Matt of the Mint , Ben Budge , and the rest of the Gang, at the Table, with Wine, Brandy and Tobacco. Ben. But pr’ythee, Matt , what is become of thy Brother Tom ? I have not seen him since my Return from Transportation. Matt. Poor Brother Tom had an Accident this time Twelve-month, and so clever a made fellow he was, that I could not save him from those fleaing Rascals the Surgeons; and now, poor Man, he is among the Otamys at Surgeons Hall . Ben. So it seems, his Time was come. Jemmy. But the present Time is ours, and no body alive hath more. Why are the Laws levell’d at us? are we more dishonest than the rest of Mankind? What we win, Gentlemen, is our own...


6 minute read

Lockit , Lucy . Lockit. To be sure, Wench, you must have been aiding and abetting to help him to this Escape. Lucy. Sir, here hath been Peachum and his Daughter Polly , and to be sure they know the Ways of Newgate as well as if they had been born and bred in the Place all their Lives. Why must all your Suspicion light upon me? Lockit. Lucy , Lucy , I will have none of these shuffling Answers. Lucy. Well then—If I know any thing of him I wish I may be burnt! Lockit. Keep your Temper, Lucy , or I shall pronounce you guilty. Lucy. Keep yours, Sir,—I do wish I may be burnt. I do—And what can I say more to convince you? Lockit. Did he tip handsomly?—How much did he come down with? Come, Hussy, don’t cheat your Father; and I shall not be angry with you—Perhaps, you...


49 minute read

musical notation MIDI PDF Thus I stand like the Turk , with his Doxies around; From all Sides their Glances his Passion confound; For Black, Brown, and Fair, his Inconstancy burns, And the different Beauties subdue him by turns: Each calls forth her Charms to provoke his Desires: Though willing to all, with but one he retires. But think of this Maxim, and put off your Sorrow, The Wretch of To-day, may be happy To-morrow. Chorus. But think of this Maxim, &c. line drawing     Title Page THE BEGGAR’S OPERA. WRITTEN by Mr. GAY . To which is Prefixed the MUSICK to each SONG. {Decoration} Nos hæc novimus esse nihil. — Mart. LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 1921...