John Gay – “The Beggar’s Opera” Act III scenes 8 and 9

Lucy apologizes profusely to Polly for the way she behaved last time, attributing it to “the spleen”. She sings a song about a pouty wife whose husband has to do what she wants and give her a dram of “a quieting draught”. Polly apologizes equally profusely, saying she was too distraught by her misfortunes. Lucy asks her to have a glass of liquor, advertising it as something the best ladies in the land could drink, but Polly refuses, saying liquor gives her headache. They talk a bit about which of them Macheath prefers and they pretend to agree that he cheats on them both. They sing a duet about a curse attending a woman’s love, the more she loves, the more the object of her love shuns her. Polly claims she still thinks he prefers Lucy, because the last time she was dragged from prison by her papa, Macheath didn’t show much concern. She sings a short song about the men who are like coquettes and love to be admired. Lucy again encourages her to have a glass of something which will cheer her up. It starts around 7:10 mark.

There are no stage directions here, but supposedly Lucy leaves at this point to get the bottle, and Polly reveals in a monologue that she doesn’t trust her an inch. Still, she doesn’t suspect what Lucy is capable of, because she thinks she is only going to ply her with liquor to get some of her secrets. Still, she resolves not to drink one drop.


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