Collection No. 50: The Englishman in Paris, by Samuel Foote

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

Publication details

Author: Foote, Samuel
Author dates: 1720-1777
Title: The Englishman in Paris

First played: 1753
First published: 1753: Printed for Paul Vaillant. 51p.

C18th availability: Available online from ECCO (1753):

Modern availability: Available online from LION (1996):

Genre: Comedy

Trend(s): Nationality; Popularity

Character types: French; Class-Crossing; Servant

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Buck, the Englishman, curses French foppery. The Subtles arrange for Buck and Lucinda to fall in love so that they can get money from Buck. Buck's father questions Lucinda's virtue, but it is intact. Lucinda is given a fortune by Buck's father and they return to England.

Prologue: a row between Macklin and his wife: will the audience applaud or hiss at the play?

Act I.
Classic, Buck’s guardian, and Subtle, a Frenchman, discuss Buck’s absence from their party. Buck, a young Englishman, has been sent to France by his father to be educated: “Contradiction seems to be the Life and Soul of young Buck.” Subtle plans to marry his ward, Lucinda, to Buck, but her notions of honour complicate her involvement in the plot. Buck enters; he is injured from a brawl that he initiated by tying a lady to a banister by the hair at the theatre. He is jovial and plans to take Lucinda out, but must be dressed as a Frenchman. A barber and other servants dress Buck, mostly against his will. Buck leaves with Lucinda. It is rumoured that his father has secretly arrived in France.

Act II.
Mr. and Mrs. Subtle gladly note that Buck and Lucinda are in love; they plan to produce a rival for Lucinda’s affections by dressing a language-master as a marquis so as to further inflame Buck’s affections. Buck enters and requests a meeting with Mrs. Subtle. With difficulty, he says he wishes to marry Lucinda. The laws of the land prevent a clandestine marriage, and Buck’s father’s permission is needed. Buck and Mrs. Subtle covertly watch Lucinda’s singing and dancing lessons. The false Marquis arrives and flirts with Lucinda. Buck emerges and the two engage in verbal sparring. Each offers Lucinda his hand; she chooses Buck’s. Buck’s father appears and calls Lucinda’s virtue into question. Lucinda reveals that she has been pressured by the Subtles, but is resolved to not marry Buck unless his father gives permission. She is also of a noble English family. The Subtles’ plot is exposed, Buck’s father is reconciled to his son’s marriage with Lucinda, and they plan to return to England.

Epilogue: spoken by Miss Macklin (Lucinda). She plans to instruct the English in French fashions, but concludes by saying that the English should not give up their good sense for the fopperies of the French.

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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.

"Having mocked the aesthetic pretensions of his countrymen in Taste, Foote turned in his new play to the doltishness they exhibited in travels abroad. Although the play remained in the Drury Lane and Covent Garden repertoires for more than two decades, its satire is weighty and didactic compared with Foote's more mature efforts. Foote himself, who followed Macklin in the role of Buck, seems to have tired of the part by the end of the next season and rarely performed it afterward. Perhaps Foote saw the inadequate characterization of his rowdy Englishman. The title role of Buck presents an oddly contradictory individual, at once generous and gullible, courageous and rash. To link these opposites required deftness and range of the sort that Farquhar and Richard Brinsley Sheridan possessed but that Foote did not. As Simon Trefman observes, "Foote was a master of the many tongues of roguery, but knew only one heavy monotone for virtue.""

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

Language is used to distinguish the cunning Frenchified characters from the honest English characters. The Subtles and their servants make ample use of Franglais; however, they also speak in standard English. Although standard, Buck’s blustering language differentiates him as wholly English: he uses lower physical nouns (“Dog”, “Beef”, “Pudding”, “Paunch”), frequent interjections (“Domine”, “Sirrah”, “you dog”), and curses. Likewise, Roger, Buck’s servant, speaks in dialect (“Here been two of his old comrades followed un already”) to emphasize his honest Englishness. Buck’s father uses legal, polite and somewhat feudal diction (“Declaration”, “Duty”, “Covenant”, “Blood”).

Varieties / dialects

Variety: Buck’s “English”

a. Sample of dialect

Domine ! Look here, what a Monster the Monkey has made of himself? Sirrah! if your String was long enough, I'd do your Business myself you Dog, to sink a bold Briton into such a sneaking, snivelling ---the Rascal looks as if he had not had a Piece of Beef and Pudding in his Paunch these twenty Years; I'll be hang'd if the Rogue ha'nt been fed upon Frogs ever since he came over. Away with your Trumpery!

[page 18]

Je suis Peruquier, Monsieur.

Speak English , you Son of a Whore.

I am a Perriwig-maker, Sir.

Then why could not you say so at first? What are you asham'd of your Mother Tongue? I knew this Fellow was a Puppy by his Pig-tail. Come, let's see your handy Work.

b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar
b.3 Vocabulary: curses (son of a whore), animal words (monkey, dog, frogs, puppy, pig), physical words (string, beef, pudding, paunch), interjections (domine!, sirrah!)
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profile: the eponymous Englishman in Paris
e. Consistency of representation: consistent throughout the play; most prominent in Buck’s first appearance.

Variety: The French characters’ language:

a. Sample of language

[page 18]

As I found you were in a Hurry, I have brought you, Sir, something that will do for the present: But a Peruque is a different Ouvrage, another Sort of a Thing here, from what it is en Angleterre ; we must consult the Colour of the Complexion, and the Tour de Visage , the Form of the Face; for which End, it will be necessary to regard your Countenance in different Lights:---A little to the Right, if you please.


[page 38]

Oh! oh! a Rival! Eh Morbleu! a dangerous one too. Ha! ha! Well, Monsieur, what, and I suppose you presume to give Laws to this Lady; and are determin'd, out of your very great and singular

[page 39 ]
Affection, to knock down every Mortal she likes, A-la-mode d'Angleterre ; Hey! Monsieur Roast-Beef!

No; but I intend that Lady for my Wife; consider her as such; and don't chuse to have her soil'd by the impertinent Addresses of every French Fop, A-la-mode de Paris , Mounsieur Fricassy!



b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar
b.3 Vocabulary: Franglais: ("Morbleu!"; "Monsieur"; "a-la-mode d'Angleterre" etc)
c. Nationality: French
d. Character profiles: French characters representing different classes (hairdresser and "marquis" (= language master))
e. Consistency of representation: consistent among the French characters; these are more prominent examples.

Variety: Father’s use of noble / “polite” language

a. Sample of dialect

[page 45]
Sir, I am oblig'd to you for this Declaration, as, to it I owe the entire Subjection of that paternal Weakness, [525]  which has hitherto suspended the Correction your abandon'd Libertinism has long provok'd. You have forgot the Duty you owe a Father, disclaim'd my Protection, cancell'd the natural Covenant between us; 'tis Time I now should give you up to the Guidance of your own guilty Passions, and treat you as a Stranger to my Blood for ever.

b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar: “you have forgot”
b.3 Vocabulary: Feudal/noble: declaration, subjection, paternal, duty, protection, covenant, blood
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profile: Buck's traditional English father
e. Consistency of representation: consistent

Variety: Roger’s dialect English
a. Sample of dialect:
[page 11]
Between Five and Six, pummell'd to a Jelly: Here been two of his old Comrades follow'd un already; I count we shall ha' the whole Gang in a Se'nnight.

b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar: “Here been”
b.3 Vocabulary: “un” for “him”; “ha” for “have” (apocope);
c. Nationality: English
d. Character profile: servant
e. Consistency of representation: consistent; English dialect associated with integrity and honesty; the speakers of Franglais and standard English are devious

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Narrative comments on varieties and dialects

Buck's linguistic incompetence:

[page 14]
Why I was telling Domine, last Night, Dick Daylight, Bob Breadbasket and I were walking through one of their Rues I think they call them here, they are Streets in London ; but they have such devilish out-of-the-way Names for Things, that there is no remembering them;

Fashionable language:

[page 15]

Mr. Subtle.
No! Squire, they are Englishmen : Fashion has ordain'd, that as you employ none but Foreigners at home, you must take up with your own Countrymen here.

It is not in this instance alone we are particular, Mr. Subtle ; I have observ'd

[page 16 ]

many of our pretty Gentlemen, who condescend to use entirely their native Language here, sputter nothing but bad French in the Side-boxes at Home.

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Other points of interest


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©2008 Arden Hegele