The Character of Fribble

from David Garrick’s farce
Miss in her Teens, 1747

Enter Fribble.

Biddy. Mr. Fribble, your Servant –

Frib. Miss Biddy, your Slave – I hope I have not come upon you abruptly; I should have waited upon you sooner, but an Accident happen’d that discompos’d me so, that I was oblig’d to go home again to take Drops.

Biddy. Indeed you don’t look well, Sir. – Go, Tag, and do as I bid you.

Tag. I will, Madam. [Exit.] [p. 18]

Biddy. I have set my Maid to watch my Aunt, that we may’nt be surpriz’d by her.

Frib. Your Prudence is equal to your Beauty, Miss, and I hope your permitting me to kiss your Hands, will be no Impeachment of your Understanding.

Biddy. I hate the Sight of him. [Aside.] I was afraid I should not have had the Pleasure of seeing you, pray let me know what Accident you met with, and what’s the matter with your Hand? I shan’t be easy till I know.

Frib. Well, I vow, Miss Biddy, you’re a good Creater, – I’ll endeavour to muster up what little Spirits I have, and tell you the whole Affair – Hem! – But first you must give me leave to make you a Present of a small Pot of my Lip-salve; My Servant made it this Morning – the Ingredients are innocent, I assure you; nothing but the best Virgin’s-wax, Conserve of Roses, and Lilly of the Valley Water.

Biddy. I thank you, Sir, but my Lips are generally red, and when they an’t, I bite ’em.

Frib. I bite my own, sometimes, to pout ’em a little, but this will give ’em a Softness, Colour, and an agreeable Moister. – Thus let me make an humble Offering at that Shrine, where I have already sacrificed my Heart. [Kneels and gives the Pot.]

Biddy. Upon my Word that’s very prettily express’d, you are positively the best Company in the World – I wish he was out of the House. [Aside.]

Frib. But to return to my Accident, and the Reason why my hand is in this Condition – I beg you’ll excuse the Appearance of it, and be satisfy’d that nothing but mere Necessity could have forc’d me to appear thus muffled before you. [p. 19]

Biddy. I am very willing to excuse any Misfortune that happens to you, Sir. [Curtsies.]

Frib. You are vastly good, indeed, – thus it was, –Creation I have so great an Aversion to, as those Hackney-coach Fellows. – As I was coming out of my Lodgings, – Says one of ’em to me, Would your Honour have a Coach? – No, Man, said I, not now, (with all the Civility imaginable) – I’ll carry you and your Doll too, (says he) Miss Margery for the same Price. – Upon which, the masculine Beasts about us fell a laughing; then I turn’d round in a great Passion, curse me, (says I) Fellow, but I’ll trounce thee. – And, as I was holding out my Hand in a threatning Poster, – thus; – he makes a cut at me with his Whip, and striking me over the Nail of my little Finger, it gave me such exquisite Torter that I fainted away; and while I was in this Condition, the Mob pick’d my Pocket of my Purse, my Scissars, my Mocoa Smelling-Bottle, and my Huswife.

Biddy. I shall laugh in his Face. [Aside.] I am afraid you are in great Pain; pray sit down, Mr. Fribble, but I hope your Hand is in no Danger. [They sit.]

Frib. Not in the least, Maam; pray don’t be apprehensive – A Milk-poultice, and a gentle Sweat to Night, with a little Manna in the Morning, I am confident, will relieve me entirely.

Biddy. But pray, Mr. Fribble, do you make use of a Huswife?

Frib. I can’t do without it, Maam; there is a Club of us, all young Batchelors, the sweetest Society in the World; and we meet three times a Week at each other’s Lodgings, where we drink Tea, hear the Chat of the Day, [p. 20] invent Fashions for the Ladies, make Models of ’em, and cut out Patterns in Paper. We were the first Inventors of Knotting, and this Fringe is the original Produce and joint Labour of our little Community.

Biddy. And who are your pretty Set, pray?

Frib. There’s Phil Whiffle, Jacky Wagtail, my Lord Trip, Billy Dimple, Sir Dilbery Diddle, and your humble ——

Biddy. What a sweet Collection of happy Creatures!

Frib. Indeed and so we are, Miss. – But a prodigious Fracas disconcerted us a little on our Visiting-Day at Billy Dimple’s – three drunken naughty Women of the Town burst into our Club-room, curst us all, threw down the China, broke six Looking-glasses, scalded us with the Slop-Bason, and scrat poor Phil Whiffle’s Cheek in such a manner, that he has kept his Bed these three Weeks.

Biddy. Indeed, Mr. Fribble, I think all our Sex have great reason to be angry; for if you are so happy now you are Batchelors, the Ladies may wish and sigh to very little purpose.

Frib. You are mistaken, I assure you; I am prodigiously rallied about my Passion for you, I can tell you that, and am look’d upon as lost to our Society already; He, he, he!

Biddy. Pray, Mr. Fribble, now you have gone so far, don’t think me impudent if I long to know how you intend to use the Lady who shall be honour’d with your Affections?

Frib. Not as most other Wives are us’d, I assure you; all the domestic Business will be taken off her Hands; I shall make the Tea, comb the Dogs, and dress the Children myself, if I should be bless’d with any; so that tho’ [p. 21] I’m a Commoner, Mrs. Fribble will lead the Life of a Woman of Quality; for she will have nothing to do, but lie in Bed, play at Cards, and scold the Servants.

Biddy. What a happy Creature she must be!

Frib. Do you really think so? Then pray let me have a little serous [sic] Talk with you. – Tho;’ my Passion is not of a long standing, I hope the Sincerity of my Intentions –

Biddy. Ha, ha, ha!

Frib. Go, you wild Thing. [Pats her.] The Devil take me but there is no talking to you. – How can you use me in this barbarous manner! If I had the Constitution of an Alderman it would sink under my Sufferings – hooman-nater can’t support it –

Biddy. Why, what would you do with me, Mr. Fribble?

Frib. Well, I vow I’ll beat you if you talk so –look at me in that manner – Flesh and Blood can’t bear it – I could – but I won’t grow indecent –

Biddy. But pray, Sir, where are the Verses you were to write upon me? I find if a young Lady depends too much upon such fine Gentlemen as you, she’ll certainly be disappointed.

Frib. I vow, the Flutter I was put into this Afternoon has quite turn’d my Senses – there they are tho’ – and I believe you’ll like ’em. –

Biddy. There can be no doubt of it.

Frib. I protest, Miss, I don’t like that Curtsy – Look at me, and always rise in this manner. [Shews her.] But my dear Creater, who put on your Cap to-day? They have made a Fright of you, and it’s as yellow as old Lady Crowfoot’s Neck. – When we are settled, I’ll dress your Heads myself.

Biddy. Pray read the Verses to me, Mr. Fribble. [p. 2]

Frib. I obey – Hem! – William Fribble, Esq; to Miss Biddy Bellair – greeting.

No Ice so hard, so cold as I,
’Till warm’d and soften’d by your Eye;
And now my Heart dissolves away
In Dreams by Night, and Sighs by Day;
No brutal Passion fires my Breast,
Which loaths the Object when possess’d;
But one of harmless, gentle Kind,
Whose Joys are centr’d – in the Mind:
Then take with me, Love’s better Part,
His downy Wing, but not his Dart.

How do you like ’em?

Biddy. Ha, ha, ha! I swear they are very pretty – but I don’t quite understand ’em.

Frib. These light Pieces are never so well understood in Reading as Singing; I have set ’em myself, and will endeavour to give ’em you – La la – I have an abominable Cold, and can’t sing a Note; however the Tune’s nothing, the Manner’s all.

No Ice so hard, &c. [Sings.]

Enter Tag, running.

Tag. Your Aunt! your Aunt! your Aunt, Madam!

Frib. What’s the matter?

Biddy. Hide, hide Mr. Fribble, Tag, or we are ruin’d.

Frib. Oh! for Heaven’s sake, put me any where, so I don’t dirty my Clothes. [p. 23]

Biddy. Put him into the Store-Room, Tag, this Moment.

Frib. Is it a damp Place, Mrs. Tag? The Floor is boarded, I hope?

Tag. Indeed it is not, Sir.

Frib. What shall I do? I shall certainly catch my Death! Where’s my Cambrick Handkerkchief, and my Salts? I shall certainly have my Hystericks! [Runs in.] [p. 24]

SOURCE: David Garrick, Miss in her Teens: or, The Medley of Lovers. A Farce in two acts. London: Printed for J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper in the Strand, 1747. Pages 18-24.
NOTES: David Garrick himself played the character of Fribble, which is a satire on effeminacy. In the above scene, the coachman's reference to "Miss Margery" is an allusion to the word "Margery", which is a slang term for mollies, i.e. effeminate homosexual men. The "huswife" stolen from Fribble's pocket is a pocket-case for needles, pins, thread, scissors, etc., indicating his womanly talents.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Character of Fribble, 1747", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 28 February 2003 <>.

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