Collection No. 70: Love a-la-Mode, by Charles Macklin

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

Publication details

Author: Macklin, Charles
Author dates: 1699? - 1797
Title: Love a la Mode

First played: 1759
First published: 1779. 29p.
C18th availability: Available from ECCO (1779)

Modern availability: Not available.

Genre: Comedy

Trend(s): Nationality; Popularity

Character types: Scottish; Irish; Military; Country; Jewish

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Charlotte is pursued by Squire Groom, Sir Callaghan O'Brallaghan, Sir Archy Macsarcasm and Beau Mordecai. After her father pretends that he has been ruined, all the men abandon their suits except Sir Callaghan, who agrees to marry her. Charlotte's father bestows his fortune on the young couple.

Act I.
Sir Theodore and Charlotte converse; she discusses the characters of each of her lovers. The ‘North-British Knight’ is a hypocrite, the ‘English Jew’ Beau Mordecai is a ‘downright ideot’, and the last is Sir Theodore’s Irish nephew, Sir Callaghan O’Brallaghan, whom Charlotte suggests has been brought up solely by the army. Sir Mordecai arrives full of flattery for Charlotte. She questions him about a love-affair of his at the Opera, of which she has been informed by Archy MacSarcasm. Mordecai paints an unflattering picture of MacSarcasm, who promptly arrives.  MacSarcasm mocks Mordecai’s fashionable dress, then announces that his “Hibernian friend” (Sir Callaghan) will be arriving shortly. MacSarcasm says that Sir Callaghan has penned a song for Charlotte; Mordecai takes his leave. MacSarcasm warns Charlotte about each of her lovers: Mordecai is a “reptile”, Squire Groom is a “beggar,” and Sir Callaghan O’Brallaghan may have a design on Charlotte’s fortune because her guardian is his uncle. Sir Archy then asks Charlotte to marry him, saying that an alliance with a Scot will purify her blood. Mordecai returns to say that Sir Callaghan is just outside. He enters and explains that he is about to leave for war in Germany; he refuses to describe a battle in which he had previously fought, although he is goaded to do so by MacSarcasm and Mordecai. They discuss the battle of Quebec; MacSarcasm insists that the Highlanders were solely responsible for the British victory. Charlotte and Mordecai exit. Sir Callaghan reveals to MacSarcasm that he intends to ask for Charlotte’s hand, but that he will first consult with her uncle (his guardian). When Sir Callaghan reads the part of his letter that recalls the long history of his family, MacSarcasm mocks him, contrasting the Scots with the Irish; Sir Callaghan claims that the Scots are all the “Irishmen’s bastards.” MacSarcasm draws and they fight. Charlotte enters.  They discuss their relative degrees of brogue. Charlotte leaves to prepare dinner; Sir Callaghan sings to MacSarcasm about the valour of the Irish.

Act II.
MacSarcasm tells Charlotte that Squire Groom has arrived; Mordecai enters to say that he has left the Squire and Sir Callaghan dueling – with pints of claret.  Squire Groom enters; he is late for dinner because a friend reset his stopwatch. The Squire is a horse-racer; he tells stories of his recent races. Sir Archy proposes a plan: when Sir Callaghan comes into the room to reveal his love for Charlotte, the others are to listen in hiding. Sir Callaghan enters, and MacSarcasm brings Charlotte in, then leaves. Sir Callaghan begins to expostulate about his love, but Charlotte interrupts him to request to hear his song; it concludes “instead of your lap dog, take me in your arms”. The other men laugh quietly, and leave the room without Callaghan or Charlotte noticing. Charlotte suggests that the army is Callaghan’s mistress, and Callaghan admits he could not desert. Charlotte leaves quickly. Callaghan is resolved to tell her of his passion for her before he is to leave for Germany the next day. MacSarcasm and Mordecai speculate on what went wrong in what was to be the love scene: every member of Sir Theodore’s family is upset. Sir Theodore and a lawyer enter: both Sir Theodore and his ward Charlotte are bankrupt. Sir Theodore suggests that Charlotte can rely on MacSarcasm to marry her; he hotly denies this, saying that he will not take charity cases to disgrace his family. He suggests Mordecai, who, despite having no familial objections, is suddenly no longer set to marry. Squire Groom enters, and, using equine metaphors, says he will not ‘back’ this ‘filly.’ Sir Calloghan returns, and is enlightened to the situation by Sir Theodore. Calloghan is in fact pleased by Charlotte’s new poverty: they are now social equals and his former awe of her is dispelled, allowing him to love her. He offers her his hand, and she accepts. Sir Theodore reveals that Charlotte is not actually bankrupt; this was a test of the lovers’ motives. The other men are angry, but Sir Theodore is resolved: the honest man has been rewarded.

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Secondary commentary

A) Shaughnessy, Robert. ‘Macklin , Charles (1699?–1797)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 28 May 2008.

"During this period Macklin wrote his most successful stage play, the satirical comedy Love à-la-Mode, which he managed to persuade a reluctant Garrick to produce. On 12 December 1759 his brief retirement ended with a reappearance at Drury Lane as Shylock, and as Sir Archy Macsarcasm in his own play, presented as the afterpiece. It was an immediate hit, and remained popular with actors and audiences for the next fifty years, providing numerous opportunities for Macklin to indulge in his taste for litigation, in actions against unauthorized performances or publication."

B) Schwartz, Richard B. ‘Charles Macklin: May, 1699-July 11, 1797’. 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. 28 May 2008.

"Macklin's first truly memorable play was his sixth one: Love à la Mode opened at Drury Lane on 12 December 1759 and marked a turning point in his literary career. This two-act play follows the efforts of a young woman and her guardian to dupe her four suitors in order to determine which one of them is truly worthy of her affections. The four suitors, a Jew, an English country squire, a Scotsman (Sir Archy Macsarcasm, a part for which Macklin was famous), and an Irishman fighting for the Prussian army, give Macklin a broad base from which to explore the narrow attitudes of his society. Each gentleman is mercilessly ridiculed by his rivals because of stereotypes associated with his nationality, and Macklin also returns to one of his favorite themes--the question of love versus money… In Love à la Mode the Irishman is the hero and, as such, is the first sympathetic Irish character that Macklin draws. While the comments of the other men lead the audience to believe that Calligan O'Bralligan will be yet another Irish stage buffoon, Macklin plays against their expectations and exhibits a (rare) personal fondness for his own people. Though the other three men forsake the woman when they learn that she has lost her wealth, O'Bralligan loves her more for her misfortune. The allure of money and power in conflict with personal integrity is an issue that Macklin addresses throughout his work. A huge popular success in London as well as in Dublin, Love à la Mode was also one of the chief causes prompting Macklin to struggle for control over his texts. Many theater managers were attempting to exploit the play's success and pirate copies so that they might perform the play at their own theaters. However, Macklin sued and insisted on his rights."

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

Sir Theodore and his ward Charlotte speak in Standard English, while the other characters’ professions and worth are denoted by their dialects. Sir Archy MacSarcasm, who speaks with a thick Scottish brogue, is the worst of the characters; his more successful rival Sir Callaghan O’Brallaghan tellingly does not speak with an Irish accent, but his profession as a soldier is suggested by his vocabulary. Squire Groom’s sporting vocabulary reinforces his social position as a country squire. Mordecai, a foppish Jew, does not speak in a non-standard dialect – this is interesting, as most playwrights of this time would give a Jewish character a specific dialect.

Varieties / dialects

Variety: Sir Archy MacSarcasm’s Scottish dialect
a. Sample of dialect
 [page 7]
Sir Archy. What, my child of circumcision, how do ye do my bonny Girgisite?  Gi’e us a wag o’ your lufe lad. Why, ye are as diligent in the service o’ your mistress as in the service o’ your looking-glass, for your een or your thoughts are ay’ turn’d upo’ the ane or the ither.

[page 8]
Vera weel, that’s right, that’s right. I mun ken that your ladyship has been entertain’d vera weel by my friend Mordecai, before I broke in upon you; he’s a guid ane at a tale, when the stocks is at one end and the lottery at the ither; ha! ha! ha! But ye maun ken that I hae news for ye that canna fail to give muckle sport.
b.1 Orthography: een (eyes); ane (one); guid (good)
b.2 Grammar: ye, “I mun ken”, “the stocks is”
b.3 Vocabulary: Northern (muckle); ken, lufe,
c. Nationality: Scottish
d. Character profile: irascible aging suitor to Charlotte
e. Consistency of representation: very consistent

Variety: Squire Groom
a. Sample of dialect
[page 20]
Squire Groom. Damn’d unlucky! but that, my groom had him gired, and he stood sound; was in fine condition, sleek as your ladyship’s skin; we started off feore, by Jupiter; and for the first half mile you might have covered us all with your under-petticoat – I saw I had them in hand, but your friend Bob, madam, ha! ha! I shall never forget it: Poor Bob’s gelding took the rest, flew out of the course and run over two attorneys, -- a quack doctor, -- a Methodist parson, -- an excise man, and a little Beau Jew Mordecai, friend, madam, that you used to laugh at so immoderately at Bath, -- a little dirty thing with a chocolate coloured phiz, just like Mordecai.
b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar
b.3 Vocabulary: vulgarity; interjections (ha! ha!; damn’d unlucky!)
c. Nationality: English (country)
d. Character profile: horse-obsessed country squire
e. Consistency of representation: very consistent; his rejection of Charlotte is phrased in equine terms

Variety: Sir Callaghan’s military dialect
a. Sample of dialect:
[page 28]
Sir Callaghan. By the glory of a soldier I had rather be at her foot, than at the head of a regiment—and now she’s mine by all the rules of war—I have a right to lay her under contribution, for her kisses are lawful plunder (kisses her). O ye are a little tight creature –‘Pon honour her breath is as sweet as the sound of a trumpet.
b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar
b.3 Vocabulary: “eclaircissement” (p 22); military terminology: soldier, glory, regiment, rules of war, plunder, trumpet
c. Nationality: Irish
d. Character profile: Irish military man (and Charlotte's successful suitor)
e. Consistency of representation: fairly consistent

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Narrative comments on varieties and dialects

Who has the brogue?

[page 16]
Sir Archy. I am satisfied, madam, but let me tell you Sir Callaghan as a friend, as a friend man, you should never enter into disputes about history, literature or antiquity of families, for you have got such a cursed wicked jargon upon your tongue—
Sir Callaghan. Oh I beg your pardon, Sir Archy, ‘tis you have got such a damn’d twist of Scotch brogue, that you don’t understand good English when I speak it.
Sir Archy. Very weel, very weel, but you are out again, for every body kens that I speak the South country dialect sae weel, that wharever I gang I am always taken for an Englishman – but we’ll appeal to the lady which of us twa has the brogue.
Sir Callaghan. With all my heart – pray, madam, have I the brogue?
Charlotte. No sir.
Sir Callaghan. I am sure I never could perceive it.
Charlotte. Neither have the brogue, neither, you both speak very good English.

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Other points of interest


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©2008 Arden Hegele