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

Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774)

Tony’s Directions to the Travellers

From “She Stoops to Conquer


Mar.What a tedious, uncomfortable day have we had of it! We were told it was but forty miles across the country, and we have come above three-score.

Hast.And all, Marlow, from that unaccountable reserve of yours, that would not let us inquire more frequently on the way.

Mar.I own, Hastings, I am unwilling to lay myself under an obligation to every one I meet, and often stand the chance of an unmannerly answer.

Hast.At present, however, we are not likely to receive any answer.

Tony.No offence, gentlemen; but I’m told you have been inquiring for one Mr. Hardcastle in these parts. Do you know what part of the country you are in?

Hast.Not in the least, sir, but should thank you for information.

Tony.Nor in the way you came?

Hast.No, sir; but if you can inform us——

Tony.Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I have to inform you is, that—you have lost your way.

Mar.We wanted no ghost to tell us that.

Tony.Pray, gentlemen, may I be so bold as to ask the place from whence you came?

Mar.That’s not necessary toward directing us where we are to go.

Tony.No offence; but question for question is all fair, you know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a cross-grain’d, old-fashion’d, whimsical fellow, with an ugly face, a daughter, and a pretty son?

Hast.We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the family you mention.

Tony.The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping, talkative maypole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable youth, that everybody is fond of.

Mar.Our information differs in this: the daughter is said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother’s apron-string.

Tony.He-he! h’m. Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you is, that you won’t reach Mr. Hardcastle’s house this night, I believe.


Tony.It’s a damned long, dark, boggy, dangerous way. Stingo, tell the gentleman the way to Mr. Hardcastle’s(winking at the LANDLORD)—Mr. Hardcastle’s of Quagmire Marsh. You understand me.

Land.Master Hardcastle’s? Lack-a-daisy! my masters, you’re come a deadly deal wrong. When you came to the bottom of the hill, you should have cross’d down Squash Lane.

Mar.Cross down Squash Lane?

Land.Then you were to keep straight forward till you came to four roads.

Mar.Come to where four roads meet?

Tony.Ay; but you must be sure to take only one.

Mar.Oh, sir! you’re facetious.

Tony.Then, keeping to the right, you are to go sideways till you come upon Crack-skull Common; there you must look sharp for the track of the wheel, and go forward till you come to farmer Murrain’s barn. Coming to the farmer’s barn, you are to turn to the right, and then to the left, and then to the right about again, till you find out the old mill——

Mar.Zounds! man, we could as soon find out the longitude.

Hast.What’s to be done, Marlow?

Mar.This house promises but a poor reception; though, perhaps, the landlord can accommodate us.

Land.Alack, master, we have but one spare bed in the whole house.

Tony.And, to my knowledge, that’s taken up by three lodgers already.(After a pause, in which the rest seem disconcerted.)I have hit it: Don’t you think, Stingo, our landlady would accommodate the gentlemen by the fireside, with three chairs and a bolster?

Hast.I hate sleeping by the fireside.

Mar.And I detest your three chairs and a bolster.

Tony.You do, do you? Then let me see—what if you go on a mile farther, to the Buck’s Head, the old Buck’s Head, on the hill, one of the best inns in the whole country——

Hast.Oh, ho! so we have escaped an adventure for this night, however.

Land.(aside to TONY).Sure you bean’t sending them to your father’s as an inn, be you?

Tony.Mum! you fool, you let them find that out.(To them.)You have only to keep on straight forward till you come to a large house on the roadside; you’ll see a pair of large horns over the door; that’s the sign. Drive up the yard, and call stoutly about you.

Hast.Sir, we are obliged to you. The servants can’t miss the way?

Tony.No, no; but I tell you, though, the landlord is rich, and going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, saving your presence, he-he-he! He’ll be for giving you his company; and, ecod! if you mind him, he’ll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of peace.

Land.A troublesome old blade, to be sure; but a’ keeps as good wines and beds as any in the whole county.

Mar.Well, if he supplies us with these, we shall want no further connection. We are to turn to the right, did you say?

Tony.No, no—straight forward. I’ll just step, myself, and show you a piece of the way.(To the LANDLORD.)Mum!