Whether or not Mr Hardcastle is a Yorkshireman is not made explicit in She Stoops to Conquer. What is made clear, however, is that he intends to incur no unnecessary expense in preparing for the impending visit to his house by his old friend, Sir Charles and the two young suitors, Mr Marlow and Mr Hastings.
Act Two starts with Mr Hardcastle, fully bewigged in anticipation of company, trying to make some, albeit limited, progress in the training of his non-too-bright servants.
“I hope you’re all perfect in the table exercises that I’ve been teaching you these three days. You all know you posts and your places and can show that you have been used to good company.”
Rather than spending money on employing proper servants, the over-talkative Diggory has been “taken from the barn,” the shepherd, Ned has been brought off the meadow, Susan, the milkmaid has been brought in from the cowshed and Roger has been “advanced from the plough.” Much training is necessary.
Diggory, in particular, takes a deal of training, perhaps because of his propensity, like his master, to divert himself with stories of his days in the militia.
Mr Hardcastle: Now if I should happen to say a good thing or tell a good story at table, you’re not all to burst out a-laughing, like you made part of the company.
Diggory: Then your worship must not tell the story of Ould Grouse in the gunroom. We’ve laughed at that these twenty years.
Mr Hardcastle: Ha, Ha the story is a good one. Well, honest Diggory, you may laugh at that, but remember to be attentive…”
The training is cut short as Mr Hardcastle hears a coach pulling in the yard. Mr Marlow and Mr Hastings have arrived and Mr Hardcastle sets off to give them a hearty welcome, in the old fashion, at his gate.
The scene is now set for much confusion and discomforture for all concerned