Dion Boucicault's Dot, an adaptation of Charles Dickens's second Christmas Book, The Cricket on the Hearth (December 1845), was first produced in New York City at the Winter Garden Theatre on 14 September 1859, a production in which Agnes Robertson, Boucicault's young wife, played the eponymous role. The first British performance appears to have been on 14 April 1862 at London's Adelphi Theatre, a production in which Louise Keeley had the leading role. Although the holographic manuscript is still available in the Lord Chamberlain's Collection [Reference: British Library MSS Add. 53013E], it has yet to be published.

In the following transcription, the names of speakers have been bolded. Minor punctuation such as the colon in "Speaker:" has been added; anything else is given with the notation [ ...] Page breaks in original manuscript are indicated in the following form: [1/2].

Dot

A drama in Three Acts.

Licencer's copy/ Mr. B. Webster/ New Adelphi Theatre/ Strand/ 1862/ Received April 10/ License is[su]ed--11/ W. B. Donne/ [Large blotted signature--illegible]/ Acting Manager

[Act One]

Scene 1st. A Wood. [1/2]

Titania discovered.

Titania:

The wind is cold--it bites me through and through.
My rosy wings are frozen till they're blue.
Oberon, why Oberon, he comes, the lazy thing.

Enter Oberon:

Here's a condition for a fairy King!
Reduced to gather faggots in this wood
Where just two hundred years ago I stood
the centre of a fairy court. My Duck,
Where's Ariel?

Enter Ariel:

Here, master.

Oberon:

And where's Puck?

Enter Puck: Here.

Oberon:

My faithful ones, Sad remnant of the past.
Of all the ancient fairies we're the last.

Ariel:

I always said that Modern education
Would be of fairy land the ruination.
We've no more woods where we by night can roam.
They have improved us out of house and home.
We're not believed in--

Ariel:

I fear our race is run. Oberon,
Is then the fairies' occupation gone?

Enter Home:

Not quite, King Oberon, you're but dethroned.
Your kingdom by another Monarch's owned.

Oberon:

Pray, who are you?

Home:

Queen of New fairyland,
O'er all the household Elves I hold command,
My Home the chimney corner, my Scepter this
A Knitting Needle, emblem of Cheerfulness.
My Name is Home, what ho! My Merry Elves,
Come from your Cozy Nooks and Shew yourselves.
Kettle [Kettle appears], Cradle, [Cradle appears]
And now my little Cricket, quick come forth;
Leave for awhile your corner on the hearth [Cricket appears] My prince.

Cricket: [3/4]

My Queen.

Home:

Behold the Elfin band
that rule the Modern realms of fairyland.

Oberon:

Oh, wretched hour!
Has such a homely elf usurped my power?

Home:

Fairies no longer trip upon the green,
But round the peasants' homestead we are seen.

Cricket:

We dwell hard bye, within a peasant's hut,
The guardian fairy of his wife I have named Dot,
The dearest, kindest, little thing that breathes.
Woulds't see my home; come forest, by your leaves.

Wood opens and discovers Dot's Cottage.

Oberon:

Is that your fairy palace?

Home:

Within those walls
A Nobleman of Nature's making dwells.

Cricket:

He'd wear a coronet if crowns were made
To fit the heart of Man, And not the head.

Titania: [4/5]

Who can to Such a Miserable thatch
A feeling of romance or love attach?

Home:

A little child around that cot once played,
'Twas many years ago. Since then, he
Strayed Far over Seas, to distant climes to roam.

Wood opens: Edward Plummer discovered asleep on Mast of Ship.

Behold him now, the Shipboy dreams of home.

Oberon:

A lovely scene that home must surely be,
That thus enchains his Sleeping Spirit.

Wood opens: Interior of Dot's Cottage appears.

Cricket:

For all the palaces of Greece and Rome
He would not change that humble, happy home. See, Dot and John and Tilly at their tea
Talk of poor Ned that ran away to Sea.
Those thoughts are Messages we fairies take.
And so to distant hearts communicate. Visions away--[Woods close.]

Oberon:

Romance and Poetry
Belong to Noble hearts and not to peasantry.

Home: [5/6]

That is one of your old exploded follies
That Greece's heart was finer made than Molly's.
Listen. John Peerybingle though advanced in life
Has got a young and very pretty wife
Called Dot.

Titania:

Othello o'er again.

Home:

The Same.

We'll play the very tragedy you name,
Upon this vulgar hind.

Cricket:

And then we'll see
Who shows the nobler heart, the Moor or he.

Oberon:

Agreed. Come on. As Shakespeare used to say--
My soul's in arms and eager for the fray. *

* Note to MS., p. 6: From Act Five, Scene Three, of Colley Cibber's version of Richard Ill, produced on 9 July 1700 at Drury Lane, a popular adaptation in which Cibber himself played Richard until 1739. "In Furness' Variorum edition . . . will be found a table of the number of lines retained by Cibber, his borrowings from other Shakespearean plays, and his own additions, all of which totalled some thousand odd lines" (J. R. Crawford, Notes to The Tragedy of Richard the Third, The Yale Shakespeare [New Haven: 1960]: 180). Critic William Hazlitt delivered the classic condemnation of Cibber's adaptation in "Characters of Shakespeare's Plays."

Cricket:

Then follow me, over the wood we go, and
light upon Dot's Cottage in the snow.
Then down the chimney from whence issuing forth
We'll form our fairy
Circle on the Hearth.

Chorus:

Over the forest, over the lea,
Through the air we glide
Over the Moonlight Silver Sea [Page]
Floating along the tide.
Fairies come, no longer stay.
Moonlight is our fairy day.

All exit.

Scene 2nd.

Dot's Cottage: Interior.

Enter Dot:

There, "I lost my pattens in the snow, and splashed my stockings, too. But where's Tilly, and Baby--Tilly--Tilly--

Enter Tilly and baby.

[Tilly:]

Yes, Missus, here I be's--

Dot:

Here, help to set the table. John will be home 'ere his supper's ready; put the kettle on the fire; hurry, now, hurry.

Tilly:

Yes, Missus. . .

Dot:

Then toast the bacon. Come quick, Tilly.

Tilly:

Yes, Missus.

Dot: [7/8]

Put the child to bed, you goose, and the kettle on the fire.

Tilly:

Yes, Missus.

Dot:

Ah! My gracious!--Tilly!--you horrid thing. She was going to boil the child.

Tilly:

Yes, Missus.

Dot:

And now she's a rocking the cradle, the lass is crazy sure.

Tilly:

Oh, Missus, please don't scold. I couldn't help it.

Dot:

Oh, don't cry, dear Tilly. There, take the baby; it isn't your fault if you've got no brains in your head.

Tilly:

No, Missus.

Dot:

There, don't stir now; let me work.

Tilly:

Was its Tilly a going to feed its precious dear?

Enter May. [8/9]

Dot:

May Fielding, come in. What's the matter?
Come ye, ye are as pale as a potatoe cake.

May:

Oh, I have dreadful news. I hope you won't despise me for what I have done.

Dot:

What's the matter?

May:

How many years ago was it since poor Ned went to Sea?

Dot:

It's just four years this Christmas that he went aboard ship in search of fortune in the golden South Americas. Poor Ned. And when the news came home that his vessel and all aboard was lost.

May:

He is dead, Dot. And I wish I was dead beside him.

Dot:

What's the matter?

May:

My Mother has incurred a debt, much larger than we can pay; the man to whom the [9/10] debt is due is rich and--and--

Dot:

And wants a wife. Well, tell him you're Not for Sale.

May:

Dot, were I sure that Ned was drowned and lost to me forever I had rather marry a man that I could not love.

Dot:

If I were you, I'd rather be the widow of Ned's
Memory than Queen of England. And I'd give
No man the right to take his last kiss off my
lips. Them's my Sentiments.

May:

Oh, Dot, you break my heart.

Tilly:

Don't, Missus, don't break her heart. I couldn't abear it.

Dog barks.

Dot:

Hark, there's Boxer's yelp. I hear the cart wheel. John is coming; let us tell him all.

May:

No, no, I couldn't meet his face. I will run out the back way. Good bye, Dot.

Exit RD.

Enter John: [10/11]

Wo, ho, quick. Ha! Where's my fairy wife, where's my Dot?

Dot:

All done, John?

John:

I won't. I can't; how can I keep going on? Why, as my old cart rolls along the road and Boxer races ahead afore me, the old dog runs into every cottage door, and out he flies agin, followed by all the population, asking me how's your wife, how's Dot, how's the little wife. Why, it's like Music played afore and around me.

Tilly:

Did his fathers comes homes and never notice his precious?

John:

What, Tilly and the little pip; let's look at him. He ain't more than a mouthful, is he?-- Hello!--

Dot:

What?

John:

He's opened his eyes and he's turning his lip awful. I ain't hurt him, have I?

Dot:

John, you don't deserve to be a father. [11/12]

John:

Well, when I look at that mite of a thing I feel like an elephant that found himself the father of a canary.

Dot:

Now, John. Sit down to your supper, all's ready-- there's the tea. And the fresh loaf. And the eggs. And ham. And [cricket chirps] Listen, there's the cricket, too, d'ye hear? What parcels have we? What's this? Why, 'tis a wedding cake.

John:

Leave a woman alone to find out that. I do believe if you was to pack a wedding cake in a pickle oyster barrel or a turn-up bedstead, a woman would smell it out.

Dot:

A wedding here, whose is it?

Tilly:

Oh, don't I wish it was mine.

John: [12/13]

Your wedding?

Tilly:

Noa: my cake.

Dot:

Stay, here's a direction. What, Tackleton at the toy shop?

John:

Yes, I got it at the pastry cook's, and I've been thinking all the way home who it is he be going to marry: it can't be Mrs. Boxer, nor Bertha, Caleb's blind girl. Nor old Widow Fielding, May's mother.

May:

Ah!--

John:

What's the matter?--

Dot:

Nothing. I only dropt the cake. [Aside] It is old Tackleton May is going to marry.

Tilly:

Was it old Tackletons, the toy makers, and did its fader bring it homes?

John:

Hello! I've quite forgot the old gentleman.

Dot:

The old gentleman?--

John: [13/14]

In the cart. Hoy, Sir. He's deaf as a codfish. Hoy, this way, Sir.

Enter Edward disguised.

He can't hear a word. I found him seated by the road-side; he hailed me, and here he be.

Edward:

Put me with the other goods till called for.

Dot:

Poor old man.

Edward:

Your daughter, my good friend?

John:

No, wife.

Edward:

Oh, your Niece.

John:

No, my wife.

Edward:

Baby yours--girl?

Dot:

No, boy--

Edward:

Ah, very fine little girl.

Dot:

Bo--oy--the idea of taking our baby for a girl.

John:

Set him down beside the fire while I go and give Dobbin a feed. [Exit.] [14/15]

Dot:

Come, Tilly; go and draw a jug of ale.

Tilly:

Yes, Missus.

Exit. [Edward jumps up.]

Dot:

My gracious! What's come to the old gentleman?

Edward [throws off disguise]:

What's come to him: don't you know me, Dot?

Dot:

It is! it ain't! Yes, it is. Ned.

Edward:

Yes. Your own Ned come back again.

Dot:

Oh! Ned, Ned, how could you keep away so long and let us think you dead -- and gone?

Edward:

I was wrecked and cast away upon a shore seldom visited by our ships. And after a long time I made my way to the Spanish Main.

Dot:

And you never forgot May Fielding?

Edward:

Never, Dot; wherever I went the form of May was Always before me. I was hastening home when what did I hear at the Market town below, why that [15/16] the banns for May's Marriage was on the Church door, then I bought this disguise so that I might see with my own eyes what my heart refused to believe.

Dot:

May loves your memory better than all the kissing men in the world.

Edward:

And this story of her going to be Married is a lie?

Dot:

Well, not exactly, but I must tell you--

Edward:

To whom--to whom?--

Dot:

I don't know. She was here just now, crying her eyes out and saying she'd rather be dead beside you than the wife of a king. Let me call in John and tell him.

Edward:

No, Dot. John is too honest to keep my secret as it must be kept. And you will promise me that you will not betray it to May until I prove her heart is the same [as] I left it. If you refuse me, I'm off to Sea again.

Dot: [16/17]

Don't ask me to have a secret from John.

Edward:

Only for one day, and for my heart's sake.

John [without]:

Down, Boxer; down, Sir.

Dot:

Quick then, put on that horrid wig and coat -- here comes John.

Edward:

Tol de rol!-- we shall all be happy again [dances].

Enter Tilly.

Tilly:

He's broke out in a fresh place.

Edward:

Boo!--

Tilly:

St. Vitus in his legs.

Enter John:

:

Why, Dot, here be old Caleb Plummer out in the snow.

Edward [aside]:

My father!

Dot [also aside]:

Hush!

John:

Come in, man--

Enter Caleb.

Caleb: [17/18]

Good evening, Missus. How d'ye do? Boxer's pretty well, I hope?

John:

All thriving, Caleb. Sit down and warm yourself.

Caleb:

Thank ye, John. No, it makes me want it, you know, and I can't afford to have a fire at home every day.

Edward:

What do I hear?--

Tilly:

I think the old gentleman is going wrong inside.

Caleb:

Have you got anything for me in the parcel line?

John:

A small box; here you are.

Caleb:

"For Caleb Plummer with Cash."

John:

"With care"; where do you make out "cash"?

Caleb:

So it is. With care. Ah! if my dear boy that went away to the golden South Americas had lived, it might have been "with Cash" too.

Edward [aside]:

He speaks of me.

Caleb: [18/19]

When he left us I was doing a thriving little business in the toy shop line, but since his death, my business fell off--perhaps I fell off first, but down, down I went, like my poor boy.

Edward [aside]:

I can't contain myself much longer.

Caleb:

It's a box of dolls' eyes for my blind daughter's work.

Edward [aside]:

My Sister blind!

Caleb:

I wish it was her own Sight in a box that you had brought me, John.

John:

I wish it was.

Caleb:

What's the dammage?

John:

I'll dammage you if you Inquire. Stop--here's Something for your Master, old Tackleton.

Caleb:

He isn't a pleasant man, is he, though he does sell toys. 'pon my word, I believe he likes to sell those that make children uncomfortable; he revels in what's ugly. [19/20]

John:

Don't forget, Caleb, that tomorrow is Christmas Eve, And Dot and I and Tilly and the baby is coming over to spend the evening with you and Bertha. It's my wedding day, and we'll bring a few eatables, so you needn't get nought ready, and the next day being Christmas, you'll dine with us, won't you?

Caleb:

Thank ye, John.

Dot:

Are you busy just now, Caleb?

Caleb:

Pretty well, Mam; there's rather a run on Noah's Arks just now. I wish I could improve Noah's family. It goes agin my conscience to make sheeps and elephants and flies all of one size. I must be golng. By the bye, you couldn't have the goodness to let me pluck Boxer's tail, Mam, for half a minute, could you?

Dot:

What for?--

Caleb:

Oh, never mind, Missus; perhaps he mightn't like it, but there's a small order for barking dogs just come in, and I'd like to go as near Nature as I could for Sixpence. [20/21]

Enter Tackleton.

Oh, here you are, are you?

John:

Mr. Tackleton.

Tackleton:

Don't say you're glad to see me, because you're not, you know.

Well, I won't.

Tackleton:

I suppose you've heard the news. Next Thursday I shall marry May Fielding.

Edward [aside]:

How!

Dot [aside]:

I knew it!--

Caleb:

May. Our May Fielding, your wife.

Tackleton:

Why, one would think the girl was going to the County Jail instead of the church. She has forgotten your son. [To John*] I want your wife to praise up Married life-- *Directions not in ms. [To Dot*] tell May that next Thursday is to be the happiest day of her life; that'll make her believe it.

Dot:

You mean to say, she don't believe it then?

[22/23]

Tackleton:

Oh, that's all nonsense, you know: love is only the gilt and paint on Marriage--it all comes off with a little handling, it's only a toy.

John:

Don't mistake Mr. Tackleton; it isn't every man that has a house who can bring a wife to a home.

Tackleton:

Bah! What's a home? [cricket chirps] four walls and a ceiling. Why don't you kill that cricket? I would. I always do. I hate their noise.

John:

ooh, you kill your crickets, do you?

Tackleton:

I scrunch 'em--pooh! Romance and feeling and Sentimental Stuff is all very well in story books, but look at your own case; you are young and John is old enough to be your father.

John:

She's eighteen and I'm more than double that.

Tackleton:

Well, you liked him well enough at first, and now you honour and obey. You don't pretend there's anything more in it.

Dot:

I think my John would chuck any man out of the window who said there wasn't. [23/24]

Caleb:

Don't you think we'd better go, Sir?

Tackleton:

Of course. Come, Caleb.

John:

Stay. I'll just step down to the public to see if the old gentleman can have a bed there.

Dot:

No, John, he can sleep here. We'll make him up a bed.

Tackleton:

I say, Caleb, who's that with the grey hair?

Caleb:

I don't know, Sir. What a beautiful figure for a Nut-cracker, or a Great Mogul. With a screw jaw opening down into his waistcoat, he'd be lovely.

Tackleton:

Not half ugly enough.

Caleb:

Or a fire-box. You might unscrew his head to put the matches in; he'd be lovely for a gent's mantlepiece what smokes cigars.

Tackleton:

Not half ugly enough. Come, Caleb, take care how you carry that box; let it fall and I'll murder you. Good night: it's as black as pitch, and weather worse than ever. [23/24]

Caleb:

Goodnight, John. We shall expect you tomorrow, recollect.

Exit

Dot:

Come. I'll shew this old man to his room. Tilly, you stop here and mind the baby. [To Edward] Come.

Exit. Edward follows her.

John:

Bless her, how kind-hearted she is, and to think that young thing loves me. Me old enough to be her father.

Tilly:

Did its Mother and the old gentlemans dance then, and was its hair brown and curly under its old grey wig?

John:

What are you talking about?

[Re-Enter Dot.]

[Dot]:

There. I'm so glad he's sleeping under our roof. Oh, John, I feel so happy tonight.

John:

Are you, then so am I. And d'ye never think that I'm so much older than you?

Dot:

Yes, and that makes me think I'm such a useless, little thing, and when I look into the fire and think so, the Cricket says to me-- [24/25] I'm little Dot. Cheer up. Cheer up. Oh, this is a happy home to me, and I love the cricket for its sake.

[cricket chirps]

John:

D'ye hear him? Come, Dot, fill my pipe. Sit there beside me, and you there, Tilly and the baby.

Dot:

When you brought me home a year ago the first voice I heard was that of the cricket on the hearth.

John:

It was glad to see you.

Dot:

I love it for the many times I've heard it and the good things its harmless Music has put into my heart. [cricket chirps] Hark, it hears me. Oh, John, it is a good thing to have a cricket on the hearth.

[They all sleep.

Chimney at back opens and Fairies descend

Singing Chorus.]

Cricket:

I love it for the many times I've heard it, and and the good things its harmless Music has put into my heart. Sleep on, Sweet Dot. Sleep gently, little wife. The cricket watches you this life.

Chorus resumed.

Curtain

End of Act 1st


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