Collection No. 78: The School for Guardians, by Arthur Murphy

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

Publication details

Author: Murphy, Arthur
Author dates: 1727-1805
Title: The School for Guardians

First played: 1767
First published: 1767, for P. Vaillant [etc.] 88 p.
C18th availability: Available from ECCO (1767)

Modern availability: Available from LION (1997)

Genre: Comedy

Character types: Country; Servant

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See "Secondary Commentary".

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Secondary commentary

A) Bode, Robert F. ‘Arthur Murphy: December 27, 1727-June 18, 1805.’ 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. 29 May 2008.

"Murphy's next play, a five-act comedy entitled The School for Guardians, which he wrote in 1763, was also acted without its authors being identified when it was first presented at Covent Garden on 10 January 1767, and like his previous play, it was given outright to an actress, although this time the recipient was Murphy's mistress Ann Elliot. The play, begun as a modernization of William Wycherley's The Country Wife (1675), is, as Murphy acknowledged, a combination of elements from three plays by Molière. Two sisters have been educated by different guardians with differing methods, Mary Ann Richley by Oldcastle in country simplicity and Harriet by Lovibond in the ways of the world. Each guardian intends to marry his ward, but each girl is in love with a young man, Mary Ann with Young Brumpton and Harriet with Bellford. In the end guardian is tricked into giving his consent for the marriage of his ward to the man of her choice. The play uses some disguise and coincidence and a good deal of trickery to bring about the proper matching of the girls and the thwarting of their guardians. The play was neither a critical nor a theatrical success."

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Varieties & Dialects

Overview of varieties / dialects

Mary Ann has been brought up by Oldcastle and the servants she lives with (Peter and Bridget), whose poor grammar has affected her language. The country dialect reinforces the difference between Mary Ann and Harriet’s upbringings.

Varieties / dialects

Variety: Mary Ann
a. Sample of dialect
[page 25]
Mary Ann. [Sings]
"Three children sliding on the ice"---so, you be come, I see---

Yes, I am come home---

Mary Ann.
Better late than never---I began to think as how you had forgot poor I---I expected you all the live long, long day, so I did, and there did not go by a coach or a cart, or an horse or an ass, but I thought it was you---ah! I am glad you're  come---what's the matter?---ben't you well?---

Fatigued after my journey---you have been very well, I hope, since I left you---

Mary Ann.
Oh! yes, purely---neither sick nor sorry not I---by goles, that is not true neither, for last night---
b.1 Orthography
b.2 Grammar: “you be come”; “to think as how you had forgot poor I”; “ben’t”
b.3 Vocabulary: “all the live long, long day”; “by goles”
c. Nationality: English (country)
d. Character profile: Ill-educated: Lovibond says about Harriet “The sensible girl! this is owing to her education---her sister Mary Ann could not make such a remark”
e. Consistency of representation: consistent

Variety: Peter and Bridget
a. Sample of dialect
[page 23]
Yes, yes, Bridget---the gentleman's generous enow, for a matter o'that.

And pray, Peter, do the London folk always give money to the like of we, as often as [225]  they come in or out of the house?

Ay! zure, and the sarving folk call it vails. Why, Bridget, poor servants would not be able to ape all their master's follies, and powder like fine gentry, and curse and swear like lords, an so be every body did not give at street door more than any thing they get in the house is worth.

La! well that's pure, sure enow!

b.1 Orthography: “enow” (enough); “o’that” (contraction “of that”); “zure” (sure); “sarving” (serving)
b.2 Grammar: “to the like of we”; “an so be every body did not give”; “more than any thing they get in the house is worth” (?)
b.3 Vocabulary: “vails”
c. Nationality: English (country)
d. Character profiles: two servants who keep Oldcastle’s country house and take care of his daughter Mary Ann
e. Consistency of representation: consistently bad grammar

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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