"Stolen Sweets Are Best"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In the opening scene of Cibber's play we meet Sir Oliver Outwit and his son, who has "been at age this half-year." Sir Oliver is extremely proud that he is a self-made man and grumbles because his son wants an allowance on which to live. Sir Oliver says the son should live by his wits, to which advice his son replies that such persons have but ill reputation, ". . . men of honour and fortune call 'em sharpers and scoundrels." Sir Oliver brushes aside such views as nonsense and proceeds to tell how he built up his fortune, beginning as a pimp while still a youngster and progressing to being a gambling sharp while still a youth. Having built up a fortune by his wits, he is unsympathetic to the notion of giving his fortune, or even a part of it, to his son, till Young Outwit proves himself. As the father says later in the play, "Let me first have a proof, that if I shou'd give thee land, thou hast Wit enough to keep it." In answer to his son's reference to his early career as a cheat, Sir Oliver retorts:

Turning a penny, sirrah! I liv'd! I liv'd! did not I live, Fool? I bustled, I stirred, I was as busy as a bee, had all the world to rove in, and cull'd a maintenance from every flower. Traverse, make honey, sirrah! and when you've tasted it, confess with me, that stolen sweets are best.