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Rivals is a play. a comedy of manners, set in 18th Century Bath and in five acts, was first performed on 17th January 1775 in this fashionable destination of the time, with rich people travelling there for the proverbial healing capability of waters. The cast included romantic Lydia Languish and dashing Captain Absolute, pretending to be poor soldier Ensign Beverley with Sir Anthony and Mrs…
The play was a success although it was not like any of Johnson's plays and lacked 'high seriousness'. Still, Hazlitt popularly pointed out that on stage it 'has the broadest and most palpable effect'.
"I was informed that Julia would return soon. I wonder what kept her away for so long. My right judgement should definitely hold my unsatisfied and restless temper in abhorrence. Still I am sure I do not indulge in such self-scrutiny in any other matter, other than the one connected to Julia, whom I love more than my own life. In other matters, I do not expect myself to be so unbelievably unreasonable and insanely fretful. I can deal with any other matter with cool reasoning. Nobody could be more aware of it, although it is beyond my power to correct myself. What kind of tender love sparkled in her eyes when we met! How delicately warm and loving her expression was! It ridiculed my gravity with which I had decided to meet her. Sir Anthony's presence bridled my otherwise overflowing enthusiasm. Anyway it was gratifying to know that she was not particularly happy in my absence. Oh, she must be coming. ...
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