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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Henry Fielding (1707–1754)

Opening Scenes of ‘Tom Thumb the Great’

  • KING ARTHUR, a passionate sort of king, husband to QUEEN DOLLALLOLLA, of whom he stands a little in fear; father to HUNCAMUNCA (whom he is very fond of) and in love with GLUMDALCA.
  • TOM THUMB THE GREAT, a little hero with a great soul, something violent in his temper, which is a little abated by his love for HUNCAMUNCA.
  • GHOST OF GAFFER THUMB, a whimsical sort of ghost.
  • LORD GRIZZLE, extremely zealous for the liberty of the subject, very choleric in his temper, and in love with HUNCAMUNCA.
  • MERLIN, a conjuror, and in some sort father to TOM THUMB.
  • NOODLE and DOODLE, courtiers in place, and consequently of that party that is undermost.
  • FOODLE, a courtier that is out of place, and consequently of that party that is undermost.
  • BAILIFF and FOLLOWER, of the party of the plaintiff.
  • PARSON, of the side of the Church.
  • QUEEN DOLLALLOLLA, wife to KING ARTHUR, and mother to HUNCAMUNCA, a woman entirely faultless, saving that she is a little given to drink, a little too much a virago toward her husband, and in love with TOM THUMB.
  • The PRINCESS HUNCAMUNCA, daughter to their Majesties KING ARTHUR and QUEEN DOLLALLOLLA, of a very sweet, gentle, and amorous disposition, equally in love with LORD GRIZZLE and TOM THUMB, and desirous to be married to them both.
  • GLUMDALCA, of the giants, a captive Queen, beloved by the King, but in love with TOM THUMB.
  • CLEORA, MUSTACHA, maids of honour in love with NOODLE and DOODLE.

  • SCENE.The Court of KING ARTHUR, and a plain thereabouts.


    Doodle.Sure such a day as this was never seen!

    The sun himself, on this auspicious day,

    Shines like a beau in a new birthday suit:

    This down the seams embroidered, that the beams.

    All nature wears one universal grin.

    Nood.This day, oh, Mr. Doodle, is a day—

    Indeed, a day we never saw before.

    The mighty Thomas Thumb victorious comes;

    Millions of giants crowd his chariot-wheels,

    Giants to whom the giants in Guildhall

    Are infant dwarfs. They frown, and foam, and roar,

    While Thumb, regardless of their noise, rides on.

    So some cock-sparrow in a farmer’s yard

    Hops at the head of a huge flock of turkeys.

    Dood.When Goody Thumb first brought this Thomas forth,

    The Genius of our land triumphant reign’d;

    Then, then, oh, Arthur, did thy genius reign!

    Nood.They tell me it is whisper’d in the books

    Of all our sages, that this mighty hero,

    By Merlin’s art begot, hath not a bone

    Within his skin, but is a lump of gristle.

    Dood.Then ’tis a gristle of no mortal kind;

    Some god, my Noodle, stept into the place

    Of Gaffer Thumb, and more than half begot

    This mighty Tom.

    Nood.Sure he was sent express

    From heaven to be the pillar of our State.

    Though small his body be, so very small

    A chairman’s leg is more than twice as large,

    Yet is his soul like any mountain big;

    And as a mountain once brought forth a mouse,

    So does this mouse contain a mighty mountain.

    Dood.Mountain indeed! So terrible his name,

    The giant nurses frighten children with it,

    And cry, “Tom Thumb is come, and if you are

    Naughty, will surely take the child away!”

    Nood.But hark these trumpets speak the King’s approach.

    Dood.He comes most luckily for my petition.(Flourish.)


    King.Let nothing but a face of joy appear;

    The man who frowns this day shall lose his head,

    That he may have no face to frown withal.

    Smile, Dollallolla. Ha! what wrinkled sorrow

    Hangs, sits, lies, frowns upon thy knitted brow?

    Whence flow those tears fast down thy blubber’d cheeks,

    Like a swoln gutter gushing through the streets?

    Queen.Excess of joy, my lord, I’ve heard folks say,

    Gives tears as certain as excess of grief.

    King.If it be so, let all men cry for joy,

    Till my whole court be drowned with their tears;

    Nay, till they overflow my utmost land,

    And leave me nothing but the sea to rule.

    Dood.My liege, I a petition have here got.

    King.Petition me no petitions, sir, to-day;

    Let other hours be set apart for business.

    To-day it is our pleasure to be drunk;

    And this our queen shall be as drunk as we.

    Queen(aside).Though I already half-seas over am,

    If the capacious goblet overflow

    With arrack punch, ’fore George, I’ll see it out!

    Of rum and brandy I’ll not taste a drop.

    King.Though rack, in punch, eight shillings be a quart,

    And rum and brandy be no more than six,

    Rather than quarrel, you shall have your will.(Trumpets.)

    But, ha! the warrior comes, the great Tom Thumb;

    The little hero, giant-killing boy,

    Preserver of my kingdom, is arrived.


    King.Oh, welcome, most, most welcome to my arms!

    What gratitude can thank away the debt

    Your valour lays upon me?
    Queen.Oh, ye gods!(Aside.)

    Thumb.When I’m not thank’d at all, I’m thank’d enough.

    I’ve done my duty, and I’ve done no more.

    Queen.Was ever such a Godlike creature seen?(Aside.)

    King.Thy modesty’s a candle to thy merit;

    It shines itself, and shows thy merit, too.

    But say, my boy, where didst thou leave the giants?

    Thumb.My liege, without the castle gates they stand,

    The castle gates too low for their admittance.

    King.What look they like?

    Thumb.Like nothing but themselves.

    Queen.And sure thou art like nothing but thyself.(Aside.)

    King.Enough! the vast idea fills my soul.

    I see them—yes, I see them now before me:

    The monstrous, ugly, barb’rous sons of clods.

    But ha! what form majestic strikes our eyes—

    So perfect, that it seems to have been drawn

    By all the gods in council? So fair she is,

    That surely at her birth the council paused,

    And then at length cry’d out, This is a woman!

    Thumb.Then were the gods mistaken. She is not

    A woman, but a giantess, whom we,

    With much ado, have made a shift to haul

    Within the town; for she is by a foot

    Shorter than all her subject giants were.

    Glum.We yesterday were both a queen and wife;

    One hundred thousand giants own’d our sway,

    Twenty whereof were married to ourself.

    Queen.Oh, happy state of giantism, where husbands

    Like mushrooms grow, whilst hapless we are forced

    To be content—nay, happy thought—with one.

    Glum.But then, to lose them all in one black day;

    That the same sun which, rising, saw me wife

    To twenty giants, setting should behold

    Me widow’d of them all! My worn-out heart,

    That ship, leaks fast, and the great heavy lading,

    My soul, will quickly sink.
    Queen.Madam, believe

    I view your sorrows with a woman’s eye;

    But learn to bear them with what strength you may.

    To-morrow we will have our grenadiers

    Drawn out before you, and you then shall choose

    What husbands you think fit.
    Glum.Madam, I am

    Your most obedient and most humble servant.

    King.Think, mighty princess, think this court your own,

    Nor think the landlord me, this house my inn;

    Call for whate’er you will, you’ll nothing pay.

    I feel a sudden pain within my breast,

    Nor know I whether it arise from love,

    Or only the windpipes. Time must show.

    O Thumb, what do we to thy valour owe!

    Ask some reward, great as we can bestow.

    Thumb.I ask not kingdoms—I can conquer those;

    I ask not money—money I’ve enough;

    For what I’ve done, and what I mean to do,

    For giants slain, and giants yet unborn

    Which I will slay, if this be call’d a debt,

    Take my receipt in full. I ask but this,

    To sun myself in Huncamunca’s eyes.

    King.Prodigious bold request.
    Queen.Be still, my soul.(Aside.)

    Thumb.My heart is at the threshold of your mouth,

    And waits its answer there. Oh, do not frown!

    I’ve try’d to Reason’s tune to tune my soul,

    But love did overwind and crack the string.

    Though Jove in thunder had cry’d out, You shan’t!

    I should have loved her still. For oh, strange fate,

    Then, when I loved her least, I loved her most!

    King.It is resolv’d—the princess is your own.

    Thumb.Oh, happy, happy, happy, happy Thumb!

    Queen.Consider, sir; reward your soldier’s merit,

    But give not Huncamunca to Tom Thumb.

    King.Tom Thumb! Odzooks! my wide-extended realm

    Knows not a name so glorious as Tom Thumb!

    Let Macedonia Alexander boast,

    Let Rome her Cæsars and her Scipios show,

    Her Messieurs France, let Holland boast Mynheers,

    Ireland her O’s, her Macs let Scotland boast,

    Let England boast no other than Tom Thumb.