Collection No. 18: Man and Wife, by George Colman the Elder

Publication Details | Synopsis | Secondary Commentary |Varieties & Dialects | Other

Publication details

Author: Colman, George (the Elder)
Author dates: 1732-1794
Title: Man and Wife

First played: 1769
First published: 1770, for T. Becket and Co. ... and R. Baldwin [etc.] 64 p.
C18th availability: Available from ECCO (1770)

Available in print in The Dramatick Works of George Colman in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library: B-10 09965

Modern availability: Available from LION (1997)

Genre: Comedy

Character types: Nautical; Country

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Characters from Shakespeare's plays sing songs, and the bustle of Stratford at Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee is represented.

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Secondary commentary

A) Baldwin, Olive, and Thelma Wilson. ‘Colman, George, the elder (bap. 1732, d. 1794)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 May 2008.

"Man and Wife, or, The Shakespeare Jubilee (7 October 1769)…capitalized quickly on Garrick's rain-soaked celebrations at Stratford that September. The play incorporated a pageant of characters from seventeen of Shakespeare's plays, accompanied by appropriate music."

B) Sondergard, Sid. ‘George Colman, the Elder: April 15, 1732-August 14, 1794’. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 89: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, Third Series. Edited by Paula R. Backscheider, University of Rochester. The Gale Group, 1989. LiteratureResourceCenter. 26 May 2008.

"Colman was too practical a businessman to fail to exploit the unrestrained Bardolatry inspired by Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford, 6-7 September 1769. After surviving the rain that plagued that celebration, the Drury Lane manager advertised the Jubliee's transference to the stage--but not before 14 October. In the interim, Colman capitalized on the delay by opening his own Man and Wife; or, The Shakespeare Jubilee on 7 October. Depperwit, the Colman persona, explains in the prelude that he is mourning "for a dear and worthy friend, and a most valuable partner--a man, whose goodness of heart was even superior to his admirable talents in his profession": the reference is to Powell, who had died 3 July 1769 of complications resulting from a cold caught playing cricket. The comedy quickly moves to the chaos of severely overbooked Stratford and the attempts of Colonel Frankly and Charlotte to marry despite her quarreling parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cross (a conflict anticipating the moral conclusion "that nothing is so necessary as harmony among those whose interests are so intimately connected as those of Man and Wife"). A spectacular "Pageant, Exhibiting the Characters of Shakespeare" parades between acts 2 and 3, including delicious juxtapositions such as Richard III marching with the two Princes in the Tower, or Coriolanus with the "Roman Ladies--dishevelled.""

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

The audience members of Garrick’s popular Shakespeare Jubilee are satirized; their low class is suggested by their professions (landlady, coachman), their language (nautical) and their unfamiliarity with artistic terms, such as “jubilee”, “oratorio”, and “anthem”.

Varieties / dialects

Variety: Landlady and Coach
a. Sample of dialect:
[page 7]
I hopes the gentry will excuse all faults at present---We never were so full in our days--- we're almost hurried out of our lives---every house in the town just the same---all as busy as bees about the jubalo.

Jubalo! I have heard of nothing but jubilees, and Shakespeares, and mulberry-trees, for these three months. What the devil is this jubilee?

Lack-a-day, Sir, I can hardly tell you myself; but it is one of the finest things that ever was seen---There is the great little gentleman from London, and I don't know how many painters, and carpenters, and musicianers, and actor-people, come down on purpose---Great doings, I promise you.

Is there to be any dancing, pray?

Oh yes---abundance of dancing---but begun with going to church, and singing of antums and o-ra-to-ries , I think they call them---and then there is eating and drinking, and processioning, and masquerading, and horse-racing, and fireworks---So gay---and as merry as the day is long.

The horses are put to, gentlefolks.

By and by---we are coming, master whip!

Please to make a little haste, my master!--- this accident has thrown us quite out of our biass, as I may say---we shall be two hours beyond our time before we get to Woodstock to-day---The fly from London will wonder what is become on us.

No, no: they'll think we have broke our necks, or they have broken their own necks, mayhap.

Ah, Heaven bless your honour!---you're a merry gentleman.

How many knots dy'e go an hour, brother seaman?

We goes above seven miles an hour---near seven and a half---up hill and down, my master.

[Page 9 ]

Well---you must let out a reef or two this morning, to make up for lost time---but don't overset the ship again.---But come---I am purser to the ship's company---what's to pay, mother?

Coffee---tea---wine---and bread and butter--- five and four-pence, Sir.

There---there's six shillings.---Good b'wye, mother---I wish you a merry jubalo!

                                         [Exit Coachman with Passengers.
b.1 Orthography: “d’ye”; “Good b’wye”
b.2 Grammar: “they’ll think we have broke our necks”; “what has become on us”; “we goes”
b.3 Vocabulary: “jubalo”; “antum”; “o-ra-to-ries” (unfamiliarity with artistic terms); “musicianers and actor-people”; First Man Passenger’s nautical jargon: “let out a reef or two”; “I am purser to the ship’s company”; “how many knots d’ye go, brother seaman?”
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profiles: visitors to Stratford to see Garrick’s (rained-out) Shakespeare Jubilee
e. Consistency of representation: consistent through the scene

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Narrative comments on varieties and dialects


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Other points of interest


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©2008 Arden Hegele