Collection No. 49: Taste, by Samuel Foote

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

Publication details

Author: Foote, Samuel
Author dates: 1720 - 1777
Title: Taste

First played: 1752
First published: 1752, for R. Francklin. 34p.
C18th availability: Available from ECCO (1752):

Modern availability: Available from LION (1996):

Genre: Comedy

Character types: Classical; German

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Secondary commentary

A) Howard, Douglas. ‘Samuel Foote: January, 1721-October 21, 1777.’ Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 89: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Dramatists, Third Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Paula R. Backscheider, University of Rochester. The Gale Group, 1989. LiteratureResourceCenter. 26 May 2008.

"Foote wrote Taste as a satire on the burgeoning antiquarian trade. The play ridicules those who unthinkingly prefer the ancient and exotic over the modern and familiar. The frontispiece to the first edition illustrates the range of "ancient" artifacts by means of which would-be connoisseurs were duped. Chief among the gullible collectors is Lady Pentweazel, whose nouveau-riche pretensions were acted to great acclaim by the comedian Jeremy Worsdale. Only the first act of Taste seems to have had enduring appeal, however, and later performances often substituted a burlesque ultimately deriving from Foote's successful formula in Diversions of the Morning."

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

Family of rich City alderman Pentweazel have money but no taste: signified by non-standard grammar despite their son’s exposure to classical education. False taste associated with fake accent of Puff as the connoisseur Monsieur Baron de Groningen.

Varieties / dialects

Variety: The Pentweazel family: Lady Pentweazel (alderman’s wife), schoolboy son Caleb

 a. Sample of dialect

I have heard, good Sir, that every Body has a more betterer, and more worserer Side of the Face than the other---now which will you chuse?
Oh! oh! good Sir, have you found out that? Why all my Family by the Mother's Side were famous for their Eyes: I have a great Aunt amongst the Beauties at Windsor ; she has a Sister at Hampton-Court , a perdigious fine Woman---she had but one Eye indeed, but that was a Piercer; that one Eye got her three Husbands---we were call'd the gimlet-ey'd Family. Oh, Mr. Carmine ; you need not mind these Heats in my Face; they always discharge themselves about Christmas ---my true Carnation is not seen in my Countenance. That's Carnation! Here's your Flesh and Blood!

And yet it has been employ'd enough [250]  to spoil the best Hand and Arm in the World. ---Even before Marriage never idle; none of your galloping, gossoping, Ranelagh Romps, like the forward Minxes of the present Age. I was always employ'd either in painting your Lamskips , playing upon the Haspicols , making Paste, or something or other---All our Family had a Geno ; and then I sung! Every Body said I had a monstrous fine Voice

I be got into Æsop's Fables , and can say all As in præsenti by Heart.
for Musick.

b.1 Orthography:  ingenus, perdigious, Lamskips, Haspicols
b.2 Grammar: double comparative; flat adverb (perdigious fine Woman, monstrous fine Voice)
b.3 Vocabulary: intensifier monstrous; Caleb mixes Latin with nonstandard grammar (“I be got into …”)
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profiles: keen to educate her children, e.g. Caleb
When House and Land are gone and spent,
Then Learning is most excellent
e. Consistency of representation: intermittent

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Narrative comments on varieties and dialects

European accents are thought to signify “Taste”:

Well, of that hereafter---But to our Business. The Auction is about beginning; and I have promised to meet Sir David Dusledorpe , Sir Positive Bubble , and Lord Dupe , to examine the Pictures, and fix on those for which they are to bid---but since, we have settled the German Plan; so Varnish or Brush must attend them.

Oh! by all Means pursue that. You have no Conception how dear the foreign Accent is to your true Virtuoso; it announces Taste, Knowledge, Veracity, and in short every Thing. ---But can you enough disguise the Turn of your Face, and Tone of your Voice? A Discovery of Mr. Puff in Mynheer Groningen blasts us at once.

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Other points of interest


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©2008 Arden Hegele