This short comic harlequinade is written in the rich and enormously popular theatrical tradition of the Italian commedia dell’arte, imported into the Netherlands via France. Langendijk borrows a range of well-known commedia character types to populate his farce. In a series of twelve scenes he tells the story of Capitano. who plans a voyage to the South Sea (the Mississippi country) to trade in shares. Harlequin, himself a speculator in shares, undertakes to sell Capitano provisions for his voyage. When Capitano discovers that the provisions Harlequin has sold him are nothing but wind-filled bladders and animal guts, a battle ensues between two squadrons armed with inflated pig’s bladders. The cowardly Capitano faints from shock, and Harlequin is taken captive but is set free when he promises to bequeath his paper shares to his captors. The play concludes with Harlequin auctioning off a candle stub, which is handed back and forth between the characters until Gilles, who buys the candle, burns his fingers and drops the stub on a pile of shares that go up flames. The foolish investors are left with nothing, an ending that provides a comic warning to those who risk being burnt by the bubble craze.
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