“Mr. Shuter, Mr Quick, and Mrs Green in the characters of Hardcastle, Tony Lumpkin, and Mrs. Hardcastle”, a mezzotint by Robert Laurie
This charming mezzotint (1776) by Robert Laurie is an engraving of Thomas Parkinson’s painting of the same year, Mr. Shuter, with Mr. Quick, and Mrs. Green, in a scene from She Stoops to Conquer. Parkinson was a known theatrical painter, and Laurie the owner of a successful engravings and publishing business located in Fleet Street, London, an area still associated with the British printing trade. She Stoops to Conquer (1773) is a five-part comedy by Oliver Goldsmith. The scene depicted in Laurie’s mezzotint takes place in the first scene of Act V. After a series of misunderstandings and mistaken identities, the play rollicks towards its conclusion with the union of two happy couples. But, not before the larrikin son Tony Lumpkin has tricked his mother Mrs. Hardcastle into believing she is lost in the countryside, and her husband, Mr. Hardcastle, is in fact a brigand out to rob and kill her.
MRS. HARDCASTLE: Oh lud! He’ll murder my poor boy, my darling! Here, good gentlemen, whet your rage upon me. Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman; spare my child, if you have any mercy!
HARDCASTLE: My wife, as I’m a Christian—[…]
MRS. HARDCASTLE: (Kneeling) Take compassion on us, good Mr. Highwayman, Take our money, our watches, as we have, but spare our lives. We will never bring you to justice; indeed we won’t, good Mr. Highwayman.
HARDCASTLE: I believe the woman’s out of her senses. What, Dorothy, don’t you know ME?
MRS. HARDCASTLE: Mr. Hardcastle, as I’m alive! My fears blinded me […]
The engraving shows Mrs. Hardcastle on her knees and begging her husband, while he stands in shock and Tony laughs at his successful jape. This scene is a clever choice to represent the play in a single image, as it speaks to both the hilarity and mishaps which propel the action, while referencing the title, She Stoops […]. The Hardcastles’ daughter Kate must pretend to be a low-born maid to talk with Marlow, the object of her affections, who is too nervous to converse with noble ladies. She stoops in status to conquer his love, as her mother does here, at the feet of the so-called Mr. Highwayman.
Print Room Intern