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A Three-Act Drama of Puritan times

by W. S. Gilbert

Dan'l Druce, Blacksmith, was first produced at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on September 11, 1876.

Click on picture to enlarge.

The Illustrated London News published this engraving of the scene at the end of Act I commenting:

"This interesting domestic drama, By Mr. W. S. Gilbert has continued to engage the sympathies of a nightly sufficient audience at the Haymarket Theatre, where it has now been represented more than sixty times. Its subject and charcter were described by us, in the ordinary report of theatrical novelties, about two months ago. Our readers will probably not need to be reminded that the hero of the story, Dan'l Druce, the blacksmith, is a solitary recluse dwelling on the coast of Norfolk, where his lone cottage is visited by fugitives from party vengeance during the civil wars of the Commonwealth. His hoard of money is stolen; but a different sort of treasure, a helpless female infant, is left by some mysterious agency, and may be accepted, as in George Eliot's tale of "Silas Marner", for a divine gift to the sad-hearted misanthrope, far better than riches. In this spirit, at least, he is content to receive the precious human charge; and so to those who would remove it from his home, Dan'l Druce here makes answer with the solemn exclamation, 'Touch not the Lord's gift!' This character is well acted by Mr. Hermann Vezin."

The rest of the play takes place fourteen years later, with Marion Terry playing Dorothy, the infant that was left for Dan'l to care for. Gilbert took his dramas very seriously, but even in its own day this play was burlesqued as Dan'l Tra-Duced, Tinker.

Of particular interest to us today is Gilbert's use of some of the characters in his later Savoy operas. Dorothy is clearly the model for Rose Maybud and Geoffrey Wyngard the model for Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore. Also, Reuben Haines is an earlier (and meaner) Jack Point from Yeomen of the Guard. I also find it interesting how little employment this play provided for the female actresses of the time — Dorothy is the only actress to appear in the entire play, and she does not appear until the second act. Also notice the typical Gilbertian "oh my gosh!" surprise ending.

  • Review from The Illustrated London News, September 16, 1876, page 275, submitted by Adam Cuerden.
  • Review from The Times, September 14, 1876.

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