The London Merchant; or, mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to sleep with whores, steal from their employers, and commit parricide

The London Merchant; or, mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to sleep with whores, steal from their employers, and commit parricide

1731 bourgeois tragedy in prose about middle- and working-class characters. Based on a broadside ballad of a real murder and set in the Elizabethan era. Popular by the middle of the century for employers to send their apprentices to on the Christmas holiday, because the message is more-or-less “business, the youth’s best preservative from ill, as idleness his worst of snares.” But I like to think that most of the apprentices were sitting there thinking, “Whatever, man, I’m going to get me a Trans-Am and go see Van Halen and MAN wouldn’t it be rad if they hired me as a roadie, forget all this apprentice shit.”

But why I’m really bringing this up is for this description of author George Lillo, reprinted in the Regents Restoration Drama edition of the play: “In person . . . lusty, but not tall, of a pleasing countenance, though unhappily deprived of the sight of one eye.” YESSS I LOVE IT (the idiosyncratic description, not the fact that he was blind in one eye)(what do you take me for anyway).

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