The Beaux' Stratagem "'Twas For The Good Of My Country That I Should Be Abroad"

George Farquhar

"'Twas For The Good Of My Country That I Should Be Abroad"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this play we find a change from earlier comedies. Love here is a romantic passion, rather than merely an excuse for amorous intrigue, as it was in earlier drama of the Restoration period. Here, for example, we find a gentleman of broken fortune, Aimwell, who sets out to recoup his wealth by marriage to a beautiful and wealthy young woman, only to find himself in love with her. Instead of imposing on her, he even offers to give her up, saying, "I feel myself unequal to the task of villain; she has gained my soul and made it honest like her own." There is, however, a real villain, a highwayman named Gibbet, who carries an apt name indeed. Gibbet pretends to be an army officer and tries to pass himself off to Aimwell, who appears rich, as an officer in an old marching regiment. When Aimwell asks if he has served abroad, Gibbet gives the following reply, similar to a sentiment written for a prologue by George Barrington, a pickpocket sent to Botany Bay, at the opening of the first theater in New South Wales:


GIBBET
Yes, sir, in the plantations; 'twas my lot to be sent into the worst service. I would have quitted it indeed, but a man of honor, you know–Besides, 'twas for the good of my country that I should be abroad:–anything for the good of one's country–I'm a Roman for that.