[Price One Shilling and Sixpence.]
THE TIMES: A COMEDY.
AS IT IS NOW PERFORMING AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL IN DRURY-LANE.
By Mrs. GRIFFITH.
LONDON: Printed for FIELDING and WALKER, Paternoster-Row; J. DODSLEY, Pall-Mall; T. BECKET, Strand; and T. DAVIES, Russel-Street, Covent-Garden.
THE favourable reception which the fol|lowing Comedy has met with from a candid and generous Public, calls for my warmest acknowledgements; and tho' it may be of little consequence to them to know the source of so slight an amusement, I think myself bound by truth and gratitude to own, that the first idea of this Piece was hinted to me by my ever-respected and lamented friend Mr. GARRICK, who mentioned GOLDONI's Bourru Bienfaisant, as a sketch that, if adapted to our times and manners, might be rendered pleasing to an English Audience. Those who have read the French Piece must judge how far I have profited by GOLDONI's work; but of this I am certain, that had Mr. GARRICK lived to afford me that friendly assistance which he has done on former occasions, my Comedy would have been more worthy of the reception with which it has been honoured. I will, however, hope that,
Page vi I gladly take this opportunity of returning my thanks to my much-esteemed friend, Mr. SHERIDAN, senior, for his kind attention to the getting up my Play, my ill health not permitting me to attend one Rehearsal. But Mr. SHERIDAN's friendship, wherever pro|fessed, is not of modern growth.
I have more than common acknowledge|ments to make to all the Performers in my Comedy; particularly to Mrs. ABINGTON and Miss POPE, who both chearfully undertook Parts out of their usual line of acting, and in which they have both excelled. I should be utterly unable to express my sentiments of Mr. KING, in the character of SIR WILLIAM WOODLEY, if I were not at liberty seriously to adopt the very words which he humorously, but justly, speaks of himself, under a personated character, in The Critic:—
I flatter myself, this little tribute to distin|guished merit will not be deemed tedious or impertinent by the Public, for whose opinion I have the sincerest respect, and to whom I have the honour to be
A much obliged, And most obedient Servant, THE AUTHOR.
London,Dec. 18, 1779.
Spoken by Mr. KING.
Spoken by Miss FARREN.
- Sir William Woodley, Mr. KING.
- Mr. Woodley, Mr. BRERETON.
- Colonel Mountfort, Mr. PALMER.
- Counsellor Belford, Mr. BENSLEY.
- Mr. Bromley, Mr. AICKIN.
- Forward (Servant to Mr. Woodley), Mr. BADDELEY.
- Waters (Servant to Sir William), Mr. WRIGHTEN.
- Lady Mary Woodley, Mrs. ABINGTON.
- Mrs. Bromley, Miss POPE.
- Louisa, Mrs. BRERETON.
- Mrs. Williams, (Woman to Lady Mary), Mrs. COLLES.
Gentlemen and Ladies, Players at Whist, Loo, &c.Page [unnumbered]
SURE, never man was so suddenly involved as I have been!—and yet I cannot charge either my wife or myself with any particular extravagance. We do but live like other people of our rank; and yet, in less than four years that we have been mar|ried, an estate of four thousand pounds a-year has dwindled into nothing!—Heigh-ho!—
I am often plagued so, myself, Sir, after the first night of a new Opera, tho' I have a to|lerable ear, and catch a tune pretty readily.Page 2
What a proposal!—I would die first. Get me pen, ink, and paper
I'll fetch them instantly from the Library, Sir.
You need not. I'll write there.
He seems devilishly flurried by that same letter. I wish I could come fairly at its con|tents. 'Tis no billet-doux, I am certain; for I have never found him tripping that way, since I have been in the family. It must be some matter of bu|siness, and if it is, it may concern me as well as my master. I have had my doubts that our affairs were going wrong, for some months past. Our hall has been crowded with sturdy Tradesmen, and we have had sneaking Jews closeted in the Library.—Egad, I'll venture; for where interest is concerned, even my honour must give way—
I find it impossible to trifle any longer with your creditors; the executions will therefore immedi|ately be laid on, unless you can prevail on Lady Mary to release her jointure; for there is not even a Jew in Duke's-Place that will advance a guinea more on your estate, whilst that incumbrance re|mains.
I am your humble servant, JOHN FLEECE'EM.
P. S. I have scarce cash enough in my hands to discharge the inclosed small bill of costs.
Here's a bill, as long as his Taylor's!
Puppy! What are you meddling with Page 3 those papers for? Give this letter to James, and order him to carry it instantly.
Must I not put the things to rights, first, Sir?
Do as I order you, and leave the room.
Ay, and the place, too, as soon as your Honour can provide yourself.
How shall I be able to reveal my situa|tion to Lady Mary! My heart bleeds for what she must suffer!
Colonel Mountfort, Sir.
Desire him to walk in.
Good-morrow, Woodley! What, not dressed yet! I expected to find you booted, and ready to set out for Newmarket. You'll be late on the turf. Your horses run, I suppose? What matches have you made?
None, Colonel. I shall not be there, this Meeting.
You amaze me.
Would I had never been there! I am sick of the diversion, and shall never make another bett on the turf while I live.
Why don't you dispose of your stud, then? It must be an enormous, and now an useless expence.
Horses are the least part of the extrava|gances incident to racing.
That is selon, Woodley; for I have known several fortunes made on the turf.
True—but by those only who had none to lose. They are surest to win, who carry least weight.
Take my advice, then, and sell your horses.
Why, faith, I wish they were disposed of. But yet, I don't know, I should be ashamed, I think, to advertise them, as it might look some-how as if one could not afford to keep them. Ha! ha! ha!
Ridiculous, indeed! That you know, Mountfort, is far from the case, but I really am tired of the sport; and the Meeting, too, is at a time of the year when there are so many more agreeable amusements to be met with in London, so that I should be glad to get rid of them, with all my heart.
Let me dispose of them for you, then. I'll be your Auctioneer, and try if I can't emblazon their pedigree with a little of that true humour which Charles Surface bestows on his ancestors, when he sets up their pictures to sale. Bucephalus, the fa|mous Bucephalus, Gentlemen, descended in a right line from the renowned quadrupede of that name, which had the honour of carrying a greater brute than himself—the immortal Alexander—
Or shall we deduce his lineage from—
You had better consult Tattersall, for their pedigree, as he is your only herald in those points. Heigh-ho!
Heigh-ho! This is but poor encourage|ment for me to enter on my new profession. Surely there is something malignant in the air, at present; for every man I have conversed with, this morning, seems rather to be depressed with the gloom of November, than enlivened by the sunshine of April. I have just now left Jack Knightly and Will Careless calculating, not their nativities, but their deaths.
I saw them both at Boodle's, yesterday, in good health.
Not the more likely to live, for that, I as|sure you. However, it was not their natural exist|ence, Page 5 but their necessary subsistence, that employed their mathematics.
You astonish me!—Why, it is but lately they came into possession of great estates.
True:—but then they have travelled the modern short and easy road to ruin, of granting annuities for this twelvemonth past, and are now so nearly arrived at the last stage of their journey, that I think Jack said he had but two months to run; and Will flattered himself, that as the summer was approaching, he might be able to hold out four. I advised their compounding the terms, and run|ning together for three months each.
Poor fellows! I am sorry for them.
What! moping again, Woodley? You'll infect me, if I stay.—Where are the Ladies?—In truth, my visit was to them, for I scarce hoped to find you here. Are Lady Mary and your sister visible? or shall I pass on to your Uncle's apartment, and pay my respects to him? I think there is a door of communication to his house from this room. Shall I go this way?
That may be a service of danger, Colonel; for I fear Sir William is not at present much delighted either with his vicinity, or affinity, to any of this family, except my sister.
I am glad to hear you can except my sweet Louisa; for, notwithstanding the brusqueness of his manners, I have such an opinion of the old Knight's good sense and good nature, that I cannot readily acquit those he is offended with, as wholly free from blame.
I subscribe to your censure, as far as it relates to myself; but the asperity of his behaviour to Lady Mary, renders me extremely unhappy; and not even my past obligations, or future prospects, Page 6 shall ever make me acquiesce in his treating my wife with disrespect.
Allow me to say, Woodley, that persons so nearly connected, ought to dispense with ceremony, in favour of sincerity.
That's a dangerous tenet, Colonel, and may be extended 'till downright rudeness may be considered but as the privilege of family-chat.
I think you have no cause for such an appre|hension, in this case, as Sir William is quite as singular for goodness of heart, as for a deficiency in that outward varnish which too often supplies the place of it. But to compound the argument, let us admit there may be faults on both sides.
My dear Woodley, don't I look like a hag, to-day? Do you know that I have not slept an hour, the whole night!
I'm sorry for it, my dear:—I hope it was not any illness that prevented your rest.
No—I was not the least ill; but the uncommon brilliancy of Lady Mushroom's ear-rings, that I saw at the Opera, in the evening, twinkled all night before my eyes, and would not suffer me to close them.
Vanity has her vigils, I perceive, Ladies.
That's but fair, Colonel, as her festivals seem to bestow such supreme delight on her votaries of both sexes.
I think, now, that a thousand pounds added to my own, would make them out-blaze Lady Mushroom's; and I am sure my dear Woodley won't refuse me such a trifle.
I can refuse you nothing—but we'll talk of it some other time.Page 7
What makes you look so grave, my Love? I should almost suppose that letter was from your Uncle, if he did not live in the same house, and had not a peculiar delight in seeing the effect of his own ill temper.
The reprehensions of sincere friends pro|ceed oftener from kindness, than ill-nature.
Will you send for Set|well to-morrow, my Dear, if you are not at leisure to-day? I must have this bar taken out, the middle stone larger, and the drop at least twice this size: and pray hurry him, for I must positively wear them at Court, next Sunday.
It must be so.
You don't attend to me, Mr. Woodley?
O, yes, my Dear, I hear every word you say. Give me the ear-rings, I'll carry them myself to the Jeweller.
Here they are;—but don't be too extravagant:—I would not have more than a thousand pounds added, on any account.
I give you credit for that last caution, Lady Mary; as 'tis uncommon to hear a wife re|straining her husband's generosity to herself, in this day.
His indulgence, Colonel, has ever exceeded my wishes.
But never equalled my own.
With Mrs. Bromley's compliments, Madam, and requests you'll do her the honour to call on her.
O! 'tis the Catalogue she promised to mark for me. My compliments, and I shall be at her door in a few minutes.—Louisa, are you dis|posed for Christ•e's Rooms, this morning? There are abundance of fine things, and, of course, fine people, to be there. I delight in an Auction, one meets with so many things there, one never thought one wanted before.
Though it is not my passion, I'll attend your Ladyship with pleasure.
See, Wood|ley, what an unconscionable creature Bromley is! She has marked a whole side of the Catalogue.—A lustre that holds a hundred lights! I think I should like that, now, for our grand saloon, in the country. I own, I should delight vastly to astonish our neigh|bours in Dorsetshire—if ever we go there. Have you any objection, my Dear?
But one, my Dear—I am to settle with my Banker, to day.
No matter—Mrs. Bromley shall be my Banker. Her purse is always at the service of her friends.—O, here's the sweetest sett of fillagree dressing-plate!—I must have that, Woodley, instead of the one I have had these two years.—'Tis abso|lutely Gothic.
I cannot wound her by restraint.
Don't you think Mrs. Bromley a de|lightful creature, Colonel?—
I have not the honour, Madam, of knowing her sufficiently to judge of her character, and there|fore can only speak of it as doubtful.
In some cases, Lady Mary, to doubt, is rather to compliment, than to censure.
And, in other cases, to doubt, is to be cer|tain.
You don't affect to be doubtful, I hope, Miss Woodley?
By no means, I assure you. Mrs. Brom|ley's character is quite clear to me.
If you talk in this stile, Louisa, I shall certainly conclude that you are jealous of the dear Bromley.
I know not on what account I should be so, except in your good graces; for I hope you don't think me vain enough to attempt rivalling her with her present Cecisbeo, Sir Harry Granger.
That ridiculous compound of affectation and epicurism! who ruminates upon every meal, and tries to preserve the relish of his sauces, by a repetition of their ingredients in every new com|pany that admits him.
You are monstrously censorious, Colo|nel; but I will allow that he is a little out of fashion, at present; and for that reason, I have forbidden his ever coming into this house. The Bromleys dine here to-day, my Dear
Will your Ladyship permit me to have the honour of attending you?
There's a vacant seat in the coach, and you shall be welcome, if you won't be spiteful. Good morrow, Woodley! Come, Louisa.
So—I am once more left at leisure for my own reflection. Solitude is said to be a relief to the unhappy; but thought only serves to double my distress. Surely my poverty begins to be appa|rent, Page 10 or Knightly would not write so pressingly.—His note surprises me.
Dear Woodley, I desire you will, on receipt of this, let me have the three hundred pieces you lost to me at our last Meeting, as I am just setting off for Newmarket, and must have some weight of metal to balance the scales on the turf. I shall wait at home for you exactly one hour, by the best going watch in Eu|rope, and must have the cash by that time, pos.
Yours ever, T. KNIGHTLY.
The peremptory stile of this billet alarms me! Knightly used to be a careless, liberal fellow; but Mountfort told me just now, that he is on the verge of ruin. His state, however, is to be envied, in com|parison of mine. He falls alone. No wife, no family, at once to share and aggravate his wretched|ness. I'll go this moment and acquit me of his de|mand, by parting with these toys—
Just on the wing, my dear friend! How lucky thus to catch you flying, as it were!
The good fortune is rather mine, Mr. Bromley.
No, no; you compliment.—But where are the dear, the divine Ladies?—Mayn't I hope to be cheared with one glance from their bright eyes?—What a beautiful creature is Lady Mary!—Do you know she wants but little, very little, my dear friend, to be the top of the tree, the very para|gon of fine taste and bon ton; and I think she will very soon acquire that little. My Dame has an ex|cellent hand at touching up the last polish.
I allow Mrs. Bromley to be perfectly elegant.
No, no; there you are wrong.—She is pretty, lively, and so forth, but somewhat subsy, you know.—But Lady Mary, Lady Mary is the thing!—But what's here?
They did cost a pretty large sum, when they were bought.
Not new, then, I perceive—but fine, very fine, indeed!
Lady Mary don't quite like the fashion—the setting, I mean;—and therefore I should not be sorry to part with them—and buy others.
O, that alters the case considerably! Let us see—let's see. Why now, upon examining them closely, they appear but middling, very mid|dling, indeed. I don't wonder Lady Mary should not like them—no lustre—very old fashion'd—they'll sell for little or nothing, believe me.
They cost me fifteen hundred pounds, about four years ago.
Fifteen hundred pounds!—You amaze me!—You must have been sadly imposed upon! very sadly, indeed, my dear friend! What monstrous cheats these tradesfolks are!—Why, these jewels, now, will not bring above three hundred.
That's more than the common dispro|portion between buying and selling, I should think, Mr. Bromley.
I mean in the Trade, Mr. Woodley. Among the Trade, diamonds are a drug, a mere drug, indeed: and money is a rare jewel in all trades now, I'll assure you. A Gentleman, or a friend, per|haps, might give more. Come, for the frolic's sake, I'll turn jeweller myself, and offer you a cool five Page 12 hundred for them. What say you? Is it a bargain, Woodley?
I cannot bear the thought of carrying them abroad to sell!—Well, if you really think they are worth no more—
Nay, I have over-rated them; but I never compute by pounds, shillings, and pence, when dealing with a friend. Diamonds are, as I told you before, a mere drug; and cash, cash, my dear boy, your only valuable commodity. Here, here it is
Does the wind sit in that point?—I'll see—I'll see. O! here is just the three hundred, cut and dry, my boy. You shall have the other two this evening at Boodle's. We'll cut a card, or throw a cast for it, or how you will.
I shan't go to Boodle's to-night—nor do I think I shall ever play again.
The knowing-ones are taken in. I would not have given so much for the jewels, if I had thought so.—What, not play? That's good, very good, indeed! You have a sort of lover's quarrel to the dice, I perceive. But though they have, I confess, used you a little scurvily, they'll make you amends some other time. One lucky hit, you know, may repay all your losses.
They have so often, and so fatally de|ceived me—
That you'll trust them again, for all that.
I think not. But we shall meet at dinner?
Yes, yes; I obey the dear, sweet Lady Mary's invitation. I shall bring the money with me. Besides, I recollect, that you and I have a little Page 13 matter of business to settle; but it shan't break in upon our pleasures, tho'. You shall have no trouble but just to set your name. A memorandum is all I want, my boy.
I have a particular reason for desiring that you will not mention the transaction of the jewels to my wife, or even to yours.
Secret—secret as the grave, my dear friend—trusty as steel, my boy. You may always depend upon honest Bob Bromley. We shall be with you at five, tho' that's rather early
I am going out this moment.
I have listened and pryed to good purpose, I think, and am thoroughly confirmed in my resolution of shifting my quarters, to-morrow morning. Up tents, and away, then! But I cannot help being a little concerned at leaving my master and Lady; because I am sure I shall never get so good a place again. All masters—no servants—every one did as he liked. It grieves me to think what a hand the rest of the servants have made of them. There's the lazy Housekeeper, the drunken Butler, the cribbing Coachman!—But what signifies moralizing! Let me look about me a little, and see if there be any small matters lying loose, that are of no farther use to my master, and may be of some to me.—
By the quietness in the nest, the birds are flown; and I am glad of it. My apartment smokes a little, to-day. I'll have the tables brought here, and try if the game be recoverable: tho', to be sure, I have but little hopes; for sure there never was any man so unlucky.—Waters!
What! is old Square-Toes ruined, too? Egad, I should be glad of that.
—Why, hey, what are you doing here?—Waters! I say—
Only removing a few useless things of my master's, Sir.
Then you will certainly remove your|self; for I know nothing half so useless, as a pert, coxcomical, lazy Valet-de-Chambre.
As your Honour chuses to be alone, I shall retire directly.
Retire! There's a phrase now for a foot|man! But these puppies all mimic their masters, even in their language, and what's worse, in their vices. I'll answer for it that fellow now, is as idle, as dissipat|ed, and extravagant, as my nephew himself. But why do I think of a man whose misconduct has so totally alienated my affections? Yet he was a sweet boy at Eton, and a fine youth at College. His in|discreet marriage has ruined him—a fine Lady—a Lady of Quality, forsooth, and without a fortune to support her vanity. But, no matter now—I re|nounce them both.—Waters!—I wish Louisa was removed from this scene of folly and extravagance, and safely settled in the country. There is no other place for a woman to be secure in.
I wish you would advance, Mr. Slow-boots. I have called you at least a dozen times.
I came the very moment—
Well, well, well—apologies take up time.—Bring the back-gammon tables here, then go to Counsellor Belford, and desire him to come to me, directly.—
Your Honour bid me bring the tables, first.
Of what use are they, when Belford is not here to play?—
I am utterly ignorant of every point of the game, Sir.
Stupidity in the abstract! How often have you been in the room, while Belford and I have been playing! Had we been saying or doing any thing we ought not, you would have picked it up fast enough, I warrant you.
No words—I hate prate—fly to Mr. Belford's—
HOW truly do I rejoice to see my good friend Mr. Belford! But may I flat|ter myself that the honour of this visit was intended for me?
I am sorry, my dear Sir, that there should be a necessity for discriminating the person to whom my respects are paid, in a family I so equal|ly regard, and which was once so happily united.
If indeed you regard this family, or ever had any friendship for me—But I cannot speak.
I am already apprized of your difficul|ties, and would spare you the pain of even hinting at them, were it in my power to redress them.
Then be assured it is; for amidst all my distresses, nothing afflicts me half so much as Sir William's implacable resentment against Lady Mary and me. If he were but reconciled—
That is, in plain English, my young friend, if he could be reconciled to your expensive mode of living, he ought in honour to assist in sup|porting it. But that, I doubt, will never be brought to pass, though Sir William is both rich and ge|nerous—
To all the world, but me.
In this case, then, you should suspect your own conduct, rather than his character.—But remonstrances are useless, now; and I promise to use my utmost interest to bring about a reconciliation. Page 17 But I much fear that we shall not be able to get Lady Mary included in the family-compact; for I know no man more resolute in what he conceives to be right, than Sir William.
My honour, as well as my love, obliges me to vindicate her; and I here pledge them both, that she is free from blame.
I am glad to find you still a lover, Mr. Woodley; but I who am but a friend, in this ques|tion, can't help thinking, that if Lady Mary had spent more of her time in Dorsetshire, and less at Spa, Paris, and other places of dissipation and ex|travagance, she would have been more entitled to Sir William's esteem, and you would have had less need of his assistance.
The fault was mine alone.—Vain of pos|sessing such a treasure—
You childishly exposed it to the gaze of fops and foreigners.—And let me tell you, Mr. Woodley, you are a lucky man, in these licentious times, to have preserved such a gem pure and entire, even at the expence of your other possessions. But, prithee, why don't you now retreat into the country?
My wife is quite ignorant of my pre|sent circumstances—I have not resolution to ac|quaint her with them—and to propose quitting London, in this gay season, without assigning some cause—
Would, in your situation, be extremely prudent.
I cannot bear the thought of giving her uneasiness—
And so cruelly prefer the evil to the cure.
I humbly beg your Honour's pardon for my intrusion, but I have been at your Chambers, Page 18 and at the Temple Coffee-house, to look for you. My master is quite impatient to see you, Sir, and one of Mr. Woodley's servants told me you were here.
This seems to fall out luckily. I will not detain you a moment. Dear Belford, remember what a cause you have in hand.
Do not distrust my attention to my client, tho' I cannot warrant success to the suit.
I cannot tell your Honour how proud I am to meet you. My good, dear master has been as angry with me for not finding you at home, as if I had committed the greatest of faults; and I would die rather than vex him.
I know my friend's hasty temper, per|fectly well; but I also know that his good-nature is an over-match for it.
O, Sir! you don't know how good and generous he is.
You are mistaken, Waters; I am no stranger to Sir William's benevolence.
Indeed, Sir, with submission you are;—for he takes as much pains to conceal his goodness, as others do to reveal theirs. He would never for|give me if he knew I mentioned it; but my heart is so glad, I can't help telling your Honour that he apprenticed my eldest boy, last week, and pays for the schooling of the two youngest.
These are noble bounties, I confess, Waters; but I think your feelings on the occasion do as much honour to human nature, as the Knight's generosity;—for a liberal hand is more frequently to be met with, than a grateful heart.—But where is Sir William?
I left him going to take a turn in the garden, and I don't in the least doubt but he will come in as cool as a cucumber, tho' when he went Page 19 down stairs he was as angry with me, as if he had never done me any good.
Shew me the way, and I'll go to him directly.
They are pretty, I confess; but even I think them rather dear.
What an idea for my dear Lady Mary! Do you know, now, that the equipage of Mrs. Stockwell's toilet, the Broker's wife, cost thirteen hundred pounds?
I remember her at Paris—an over|dressed Thing!—I thought she had been a Jeweller's wife, and looked upon her as a stalking shew-glass, to expose her husband's goods for sale. But the poor man, I suppose, was ruined by her extravagance.
Yes, yes, he was done-up, very soon after. But the woman had wit in her madness, however; for she secreted her paraphernalia, and her chariot has rolled on her personal fortune, ever since. Women are much wiser, now-a-days, than they used to be.
Your Ladyship's masquerade dress is just come home, Ma'am.
Let me see! let me see!
How beautiful! My dear crea|ture,
Ah, Bromley! I have just recollected that I can't go as a Sultana. I have sent my ear-rings to be altered, and the rest of my jewels will make no figure without them.
Hire, hire, my Dear.
I don't understand you.
What a baby, Mrs. Williams! but 'tis a sweet baby, we must allow. Why, for fifty, or a hundred guineas, at most, you may hire as many diamonds as would out-blaze the throne of Dehli.
A hundred guineas! What a sum for one night's vanity! No—I'll go as a Shepherdess.
That wou'd be a disguise, indeed, in these days of martial ardour, when our whole Sex have exchanged their old fashion'd simplicity of dress and manners, for the military air, the smart cockade, and lively regimental.
But one may be allowed to look inno|cent in masquerade, I hope?
Ha, my little fly one! have I found you out?—Nothing but a Corydon cou'd have inspired such an idea.
All dresses, I fancy, are alike to Mr. Woodley.
Mr. Woodley! Ridiculous! Why, surely, my dear, you don't think of exposing your|self to be the jest of the whole Town, by going en groupe with your husband to a Masquerade!—Would not the dear, good natured Sir Harry Granger, or even the wise Colonel Mountfort, make a better Corydon for our sweet Shepherdess, think you?
How idly you talk!—Mountfort is Louisa's Cecisbeo, and Sir Harry, I fancy, would be proud to enlist under your banner, in the same capacity.
This is wilful blindness, Lady Mary, for you can't avoid seeing that Sir Harry is your slave. I pity him with all my heart, and w•sh you would do so too. Poor soul, how he doats upon you!
You'll make me angry, Mrs. Bromley.—But, prithee, why must I be treated like a picture for a drawing room, not to be hung up without its companion? I want no Corydon, I assure you.
No, to be sure—quite lonely and discreet. Come, come, my dear Lady Mary, you were not designed for a simple Shepherdess:—the Sultana is your natural character—born to command, and be adored. But you must and shall be fine; for let the men say what they will of native charms, our diamonds add considerably to the lustre of our eyes. What say you, Mrs. Williams?
There never was a truer word spoken, Ma'am; for though my Lady wants no off|settings, and looks like an angel in any dress—
A truce with your flattery, Williams!—Take away the dress—I shall consider of it.
Nobody's flattery will go down, now, but Mrs. Bromley's, it seems.
I should like the Sultana, I confess; but—
Can't you guess? You know I have been stripped at play, and have squandered a great deal of money, this morning. I am sorry I bought these toys.
Bless me! how you talk? you that have the fondest, and the most indulgent husband breathing!
For that very reason, my dear Bromley.
You really talk like a wife of the last century.—Here's a fuss, indeed, about a poor hundred guineas! Do you know, now, that I would not have this story told of you, in any polite circle, for treble the sum.—If it should take wind, you'd be sneered to death with encomiums on your Lady|ship's very uncommon prudence.
Why, I should not care to be thought Page 22 too prudent, neither; so I beg you'll not mention it to any one.
You may rely on my friendship.—And now, my Dear, what jewels would you have?
You can't imagine how much distressed I am, upon this trifling subject. I'm resolved not to ask Mr Woodley for money, to-day.
Borrow, then. You may com|mand thousands, to my knowledge. Sir Harry is as rich as all Duke's Place, and I am sure he would be happy to lay all his treasures at your feet.
Borrow money from Sir Harry Gran|ger!—You cannot mean it!
Ha, ha, ha! Sure never mortal was so easily taken-in, as my dear Lady Mary! You could not think me serious, I hope.—Not but I know many wives—
Who are a reproach to their Sex, perhaps.
No preaching, if you love me!—I shall get the jewels for you, on my own credit; for I am resolved that you shall not only be the loveliest, but the finest woman, in all that dear, gay, motley Assembly, to-night.
I thank you, my dear Bromley.—I think the dress will become me.—But I owe you a monstrous deal of money, I'm afraid, already.—How much is it?
A trifle, a very trifle, indeed, between such friends! and I shall be apt to quarrel with you, if ever you mention it again—let the men settle it.—I shall bring the jewels with me at five; 'till then, adio mia cara.
Mr. Bromley comes, I hope?
Lord! who knows any thing of a Husband's engagements, my Dear? But there is no doubt of his attending your summons, on any occa|sion, for my poor Bromley dies for you. You are quite a monopolizer, Lady Mary!
What a rattle you are!
I tell you, I will hear no more of him.—If he has destroyed his fortune, he shall not de|stroy my peace.—
It is amazing, Sir William, that you can be so anxious about this trifling game, and at the same time so indifferent about your nephew!
I am in earnest about every thing, Mr. Belford; consequently, in my resentment against my silly nephew, who is a slave to his wife, and a victim to his vanity. Will you take the box, I say?
Gently, gently, my good Sir William.—You have put yourself in a passion, already.
No, Sir, 'tis you that have put me in a passion.—I hate gently, and all the phlegmatic people in the world.
And yet you and I have been friends, these twenty years.
True, true, my dear Belford!—and, perhaps, I am indebted to your gently, for our conti|nuing so.—But don't put my patience to any further trial, at present.—Sit down, I entreat you.
But one word more, and I have done.
Well, I am patient, but don't harp again on the same string—No more of Mr. Wood|ley.
You have a noble fortune, Sir William!
Yes, thanks to Providence! more than I have occasion for myself, and therefore I consider the overplus but as a bank for my friends.—Do you want money, Belford? Name the sum, and take it.
Thank you, Sir William, but 'tis not my wants I wish you to supply, but those of your nephew.
What! at it again? I will not give him a doit—not a doit, Sir. My fortune shall not be lavished to indulge his vanity, or supply his prodigality.
I am persuaded he has so thoroughly re|flected upon his past folly, that he would make a proper use of your future kindness.
Let him alter his conduct, first, if he expects I should alter mine. His repentance may merit my bounty; but my liberality shall not pre|vent his reformation.
But if Mr. Woodley should be undone, what will become of your niece?
Let her share his fate, as she has done his folly—she has earned it.—An extravagant woman, that could not be content to live at one of the finest Seats in England, but must frisk it to Spa and Paris, forsooth, like the rest of the silly English, to squander their money, and be laughed at by Foreigners!
I understood Miss Woodley had remain|ed in England.
What, Louisa! I did not speak of her—she is the best girl on earth.—No, no—she shan't suffer for other people's faults. If he has involved her fortune too, I shall take care of her.
Do you intend she shall live with you?
No, Sir, no—I'll have no mistress in my house, but old Jones. I would not displace her for a Duchess—it would break the poor woman's heart.—But I shall take proper care of Louisa.—
But now give me leave, Sir William—
Neither now, nor then, Mr. Belford. The matter is all settled in my mind, and the game gone quite out of my head. I'll send for Louisa, directly, and talk this matter over with her.—Waters! (enter Waters) Step in to Mr. Woodley's, and desire my niece to come to me immediately.
I am sorry I have been so unsuccessful in my suit, Sir William, and wish you a good-day.
You are not angry with me, I hope, Belford?—I am as sorry for my nephew's indiscre|tion as you or any one can be.
If you are, you will certainly assist him. (aside) But I know it must be all done in your own way.
Dine with me, and we'll play out our party, after dinner.
With all my heart, but I shall be too many for you, as usual.
If I had not the greatest regard ima|ginable for my old friend, I should hate him abominably, for always beating me at backgammon. But let me consider, now—She has ten thousand pounds of her own. I will give her as much more, at present, and my whole estate, after my death.—No, no,—that won't be acting justly—Woodley may have children—They have not offended me, though their father has;—and if they should be half so pleasant as he was when he was a child, I should love them dearly, as I once did him. But I must strive to forget all that business, now.—Here comes Louisa.
Well, child; you know, I suppose, that my hopeful nephew is totally ruined—
Why don't you come nearer? I wouldn't have all the house hear me.—
I could not have imagined, Sir, when you did me the honour of sending for me, that you meant to alarm or insult me.
I send for you! I in|sult you!—That blundering Waters!—No, Madam, you are the last person in the world, except your husband, that I should think of sending for.
The respect I have for you, Sir, as Mr. Woodley's relation, must make it extremely painful to me to know that I am so disagreeable to you.
Respect for me, Madam! I don't de|sire your respect, nor deserve your respect.—
Has brought you one that is proud of that title, Sir.
You have a title of your own, Madam.—I hate titles—and one reason why I never married, was because I would not have my wife called my Lady.
I see, Sir William, that you are not inclined—
To converse with Ladies, Madam.—I would speak with Louisa, upon business.
I shall no longer obtrude on you, Sir; but before I go, must request you'll explain what you meant by saying that Mr. Woodley was ruined.
She knows nothing of the matter, I find, and I cannot bear to shock her.—I think, Madam, you ought to understand that matter as well as I.—Ruined!—Why, 'tis a common phrase, at present, Madam.—Dukes, Lords, and Commons, nay, the whole Nation, are ruined, Ma|dam—'tis Page 27 quite the Ton; and I suppose that neither Mr. Woodley nor you would chuse to be out of the fashion.
I hope, Sir, you'll allow that Mr. Woodley's fortune, and my rank, entitles us—
To be ruined in good company, Ma|dam.—
I am sorry to find, Sir, that your pre|judices against Mr. Woodley and me are so strong, that it would be in vain for us to attempt a justifi|cation of our conduct.
Quite so, indeed, Madam.
I shall therefore take my leave, Sir.
You have mine, with all my heart.
Shall I send Miss Woodley to you, Sir?
No, Madam, no; I'll send for her when I am a little more composed. Your servant—your servant, Madam.—
Does your Honour speak to me?
No; to the door; to the window; to this table—Matter itself has more intelligence than thou.
Would your Honour please to have dinner served? It is quite ready.
Let it wait.
Mr. Belford is below, Sir,
Well, well, I'll go then. What a provoking blunder!
If Belford should succeed with my uncle, all may yet be well. Something must be done, and quickly too. I can no longer endure the agony of endea|vouring to impose upon the world, and myself, by personating a borrowed character. But here she comes, who innocently adds to all my sufferings, and tips the darts of poverty with anguish!
O! my dear Woodley! such a trial ordeal as I have undergone! I declare I would ra|ther be buried alive, in Dorsetshire, than endure such another tête-à-tête. He has done every thing, but beat me.
I don't comprehend you—Whom do you mean?
Nay, that's downright perverseness; for I am certain there is not such another creature upon earth, as your precious Uncle.
I hope you have not quarrelled with him, Lady Mary?
No, truly; he has spared me that trouble, by quarrelling with me, most outrageously.
Then all my hopes in Belford are at an end. I am very sorry you happened to come in his way.
I'm sure so am I, Mr. Woodley. The interview was not of my seeking; and though I was as mild as a lamb, he was as rude as a bear. The deuce take his blundering servant for bringing me into such a scrape!
I should hope that your regard for me would have prevented—
And so it did, I assure you; for I did not laugh, tho' he said something so ridiculous, Page 29 about your being ruined, the Nation being ruined, and all the world being ruined, that I had much ado to keep my countenance. However, I behaved very decently all the while, and even condescended to en|treat that he would give you leave to justify your conduct to him.
And did my dear Mary obtain his per|mission?
Your earnestness startles me, Mr. Woodley. Of what consequence can the old-fashion|ed opinion of an obstinate Don Choleric, who hates us both, be of to us? I wish he would endow an Hospital with his fortune, that our solicitude to please might end with our expectations.
Mine should not, I assure you.
That must be as you please, Mr. Woodley; but I declare, that from this hour—
Make no rash vows, Madam. You know not how much you have been, or may be, in|debted to Sir William.
I indebted to him! No, Mr. Woodley, that I positively deny.
And so do I, with both my hands, and all my heart; for be the question in Law, Physic, or Divinity, I'll pawn my life on't, that Lady Mary is right.
I am much obliged to you for your good opinion, Mr. Bromley.
And I wager on Mr. Woodley's side, were it only to keep up the argument. The question, then?
Ay, ay, the question?
There are secrets in all families, you know, my dear Bromley.
And it is always prudent to keep them so, Lady Mary.
Very good, very good, indeed.
Curiosity, thank heaven, is not one of my failings. 'Tis ever a mark both of igno|rance and ill-breeding. I am astonished how any one can be infected with such an impertinent weakness.
Yes, yes, my Dame is quite above all silly curiosity—
They are quite charming, indeed! I shall outblaze the Queen of Diamonds.
What jewels are these? I hope you have not bought them, Lady Mary!
You hope I have not bought them—What an odd speech, Mr. Woodley! No; I have only borrowed them, and will lend you part, if you'll go en Turc. I can spare enough to ornament his turban, can't I, Bromley?
Surely you don't persist in making a family party, Lady Mary?
You shall have these.
Prithee, don't teize me, Lady Mary—I shall not go to the Masquerade.
Don't teize me! Something extraordinary must have disturbed him.
You'll have a charming squeeze at your rout, Lady Mary! Not a vacant chair to be found in the whole house, I warrant you.
You flatter me. No; I believe there will hardly be any body. Do you know that I have had a hundred and ninety-one excuses within these two days?
Ay, but you'll have nine hundred Page 31 and ninety people, for all that. I hope Lady Sitfast won't come! That woman never orders her carriage till near one, tho' she plagues the servant to call it up, every five minutes after eleven.
Then there's that poor, drooping Mrs. Henpeck, who always loses, and sits moaning over her losses, and playing the after-game, 'till the ser|vants are obliged to put her out along with the candles.
No more excuses, I hope?
Dinner is served, please your Ladyship.
Is Sir Harry Granger come?
O, no; he has no longer the entrée here.
I'm heartily sorry for it. No man tem|pers a sallad like Sir Harry. He is a perfect com|pendium of the whole art of cookery, and has more good receipts in his pocket-book, than ever were published by the celebrated Hannah Glass.
Most excellent qualifications for a man of fashion!
True, very true, indeed! Eating is the rage, the high ton, at present, and indeed is one of the most refined of our modern studies.—Will your Ladyship permit me the transcendant honour of your fair hand?
I attend Mrs. Bromley.
I AM no drinking man myself, Belford; but yet I do not approve of this water system of yours. It keeps the spirits too low—
To say or do any thing mad or foolish, I grant it may. But if water does not raise, it never depresses the spirits. Can you say as much for your generous wine?
Well, well, I won't dispute with you, because I hate argument; and as you are an honest fellow, I can venture to take my glass chearfully in your company, tho' you don't partake of my liquor. But I'd give something, ay, more than I'll mention, that you'd share only one pint of claret with me, now.
I have made no vows, Sir William; and to humour a friend can easily dispense with rules of my own making: So here's your fair niece, Louisa Woodley, in a bumper.
Thank you, thank you, my good friend! She is a most excellent girl, and I like to have her toasted by such a man as you. I wish she was well settled, with all my heart.
There can be no doubt of her marrying to advantage. She is a fine young woman, with a fine fortune.
And so may be sacrificed to some fine young man, that may spend her fortune in finery, as her hopeful brother has done, and leave her a beg|gar. Page 33 No, no,—I'll prevent that—I have thought of a match for her—Fill your glass, Belford!—a prudent, sober, sensible man.—
Rare qualities, indeed, for a young man of fashion to possess, in these days, Sir Wil|liam.
Who told you that he was a young man of fashion? Why, Sir, there have been no men born, at least, for these last thirty years—all monkies and macaronies. No Hearts of Oak, now, Belford,—all dwindled, dwindled into aspens!
Your sarcasm is rather too general, my good friend. Courage is the birth-right of an Englishman, and while one acre of our soil remains, both the Oak and the Laurel will thrive on it.—We must not prejudge the rising generation; and I have not the least doubt but your niece will make a very proper choice.
A choice! I hope she has been better educated, than to have a choice, Sir. I was not consulted in her brother's match, and you see the consequence.—I shall dispose of Louisa in my own way.—I have a husband now in my eye for her, Belford.
Whoever obtains Miss Woodley, will, I dare say, be a very happy man.
Stick to that, my dear Belford.—Yes, yes, whoever marries Louisa will be a very happy man, and I am extremely glad you think so.—
You know, Sir William, that I have long been acquainted with Miss Woodley's merit.
You charm me, my dear Belford. I am glad you know her worth, and you will therefore cherish it.—She is mild and timid—but you'll be kind and gentle to her, even for my sake, my good old friend.
Kind and gentle to her! and your good old friend!
Why, are not you my friend?
Then why all this reiteration? If you marry Louisa—
I marry her, Sir William!
Yes, Sir—Did you not, this moment, allow that who ever married her, would be a very happy man? And I suppose, you can have no possible objection to being a very happy man, Mr. Belford?
Yes, Sir, the strongest in the world, if my happiness is to be purchased at the expence of another's misery.—But I am wrong for being serious, when I am certain you do but jest.
In the first place, Sir, I never said any thing in jest, since I was born.—And, secondly, Sir, I never was more in earnest, in the whole course of my life. I therefore request from you a serious answer.—Jest, indeed! No, truly, Counsellor, I am no joker.
Why, then, Sir, I should think myself highly honoured—
Psha, psha, psha—
Patience, my good friend—
No, Sir—I will have no patience with your nonsensical compliments—none of your ho|nours, I say.
In a word, then, Sir William, the disparity of years between forty-eight and eigh|teen—
Is just nothing at all.—What need you tell her you are forty-eight?
There will be no occasion, I grant you—Self-evident propositions need no proof.
Hark'ye, Belford, you fatigue me to death with your logic and sophistry.—The point Page 35 may be reduced to two words,—Will you marry my niece, or no?
It is a match so infinitely beyond my pretensions, Sir William—
I hope I may be allowed the best judge in that matter, Mr. Belford.
By no means, Sir William, your partial kindness towards me—
Is almost worn out, by your tiresome, false modesty;—and, if I thought I should have as much plague with Louisa, as I have had with you, I'd renounce my project, and leave her to die an old maid.
The proposal is so highly favourable to me—
That you consent.
Were I certain that Miss Woodley's inclinations—
I told you, before, that I could dis|pose of them as I pleased; so that if you have no other objection, I shall carry my point, and settle one of my family to my entire satisfaction, at last.
It is impossible that I can have any objection, if she has none.
Your hand then, my dear Belford—'Tis a match.—Order your clerks to set about the writings directly.—Your estate lies in Staffordshire, I think.—You know I add ten thousand to her fortune.
But surely, my dear Sir William, Miss Woodley ought to be made acquainted—
Why, has she not been acquainted with you ever since she was born? If I mistake not, you were present at her christening.—The wedding shall be next week—The sooner my dear girl is happily settled, the better.
Your kindness overwhelms me—but still, Miss Woodley—
Shall be made acquainted with her happiness, this evening. I leave all the articles of settlement to your own honour.—I know you'll make a proper provision for my niece, because it is pos|sible you may die before her—but no pin-money, I charge you—'Tis but a prelude to alimony, believe me.
I shall endeavour to acquit myself as such a generous confidence deserves.
Hurry, hurry your clerks, and bring this happy event to a speedy conclusion, my dear nephew.
I have the strongest motives to enforce their diligence, as well as the highest sense of my obligations to your friendship.
No speeches—hasten the business, and adieu.—
I am very glad to see you, my dear child.—And now what have you to say to me?
I was informed, Sir, by my sister, that you desired to speak with me, and I am therefore come to receive your commands.
Why, my dear, it will neither be ques|tions nor commands, but cross-purposes, if you keep at such a distance as will make it impossible we should hear one another. Come nearer, I say—What are you afraid of?
So, so—that will do.—And now, my dear child, you can't imagine what a heavenly tem|per Page 37 I am in, and what favourable dispositions I have towards you.
I am very happy, Sir—
So you'll say, my dear, when you know all. But you must deserve my kindness, by your frankness;—therefore, first tell me, whether you have any particular objection to matrimony?
It is a subject, Sir, that I have never much thought upon.
That's singular, now; for I am told that the girls of these days think of nothing else. But, luckily, there is no occasion for your considering about the matter, as you have such a friend as I am to consider for you, child.
And so I shall make your mind easy at once, by letting you know that I have provided a husband for you.
And such a one as is not to be met with every day, I assure you—a man after my own heart—has not a fault, Louisa, but that he is a water-drinker. But I won't anticipate, by telling you his name. He shall surprise you with it him|self.—Why, hey!—what's the matter now? You don't seem at all overjoyed!—You are not hankering after a title, I hope; for, believe me, niece, if there be either happiness or virtue left in the present world, they are only to be met with in the middle ranks of life. What makes you tremble so?
You are not unacquainted with my ti|midity, Sir.
Yes, yes, I understand the timidity of your whole sex—
As I am certain, Sir, that 'tis your wish to make me happy—
You are right, my dear; but it must be my own way. Your brother's want of respect to my opinion, you see, has been his ruin, child. Don't attempt to copy him, Louisa.
If you would but condescend to hear me, Sir—
Why, child, I know every thing already, that you would wish to say. Your obligations to me, and your modesty, and your timidity, and your settlement, and all that—
Dear Sir, I have not a thought about a settlement—
Well, well, every thing shall be taken care of, except a provision for a separate mainte|nance. I bar that; for if you can't live happily with such a husband as I have chosen for you, I should think you deserved to starve, tho' you were my niece a thousand times.
But, my dear uncle—
But, my dear niece, don't insist upon it; for a woman who thinks of separation at the moment of her union, does not intend to abide by her husband, as she ought to do, 'till death do them part.
I neither think of union nor separation, Sir—
Modest and virtuous that—
Hear me but one word, Sir—
Enough's said, enough's said, my dear. Here, take this bill, to provide for your dress. I'd have every thing handsome. The ladies are great belles in Staffordshire; and I'd have my niece make as good an appearnace as any private gentlewoman among them. Why don't you take the bill? 'Tis for five hundred pounds, and I hope you think that sufficient.
I have no sort of occasion for it, Sir; and if you would but indulge me with a moment's conversation—
Psha, psha, psha,—I hate all this af|fected delicacy. Take money from the old man whenever you can get it. Hasten your milliners and mantua-makers, and get all your matters ready by this day se'nnight, for I won't have the wedding de|ferred an hour longer. Delays are ever dangerous.
What, in the name of wonder, can this dear, kind, cruel uncle of mine intend for me? I almost doubt whether I wake or not. Married in a week, to a man perhaps I never saw! No, that's impossible—he is too good to think of such an union. Possibly Mountfort may have applied for his consent, before he asked mine!—Too fond a hope, I fear.—I wish I could see Counsellor Belford; my uncle keeps no secret from him, and he is a friend to all our fa|mily. I'll write to him to come to me instantly.
I cannot proceed on this business, in earnest, till Sir William has had some conference with his niece. It is possible she may dislike the match, or perhaps be otherwise engaged—and then I should become the standing jest of all my brother Benchers. I must speak to Sir William again.
My good Mr. Belford, I never was so glad to see you in my whole life. I have been this moment writing to you.
You make me the happiest of mortals, Madam.—
There is something so particular—
I find completed his kindness, and ac|quainted you, Madam—
No, Sir, but as you share his confidence, I must entreat that you'll inform me—
You can't imagine, Sir, how he has sur|prised and terrified me, by talking of my being to be married in a week.
You might be surprised, to be sure, Ma|dam; but I don't see any occasion for your being terrified, any more than for such a violent hurry. The writings can't be properly engrossed in that time. The Law seldom keeps pace with a Lover's wishes;—and however impatient I may be to expedite this business, you shall not be hurried, fair Lady, but be at liberty to name your own day.
It shall be Doomsday, then—However, I thank you, Sir, for allowing me even a reprieve.
I despise affectation, Sir, and am above disguise, with an old friend like you:—I have no aversion to marriage, when I can bestow my hand with my heart;—but I would rather die, than be sa|crificed to a frightful fordid wretch, who has tre|panned my uncle out of his consent, because he de|spaired of mine, and takes me merely as an appen|dage to my fortune.
Let him be what he will, Sir, I shall de|test him.
I never thought, Miss Woodley, that my conduct or character had in any instance merit|ed your detestation, Madam.
Detest you, Mr. Belford! No, that's impossible!—But how are you concerned in the mat|ter?
Not much, at present, Madam;—for I scorn to take advantage of your uncle's engagements, unless ratified by your consent.
Oh, Mr. Belford!
Nay, never whimper about it. I own, I suspected, from the first, that it was rather too good news to be true:—but don't make yourself unhappy, Miss Woodley; for I would rather live and die a batchelor, than marry the finest woman in England, as is now the case
Generous, worthy man!
Not more generous than prudent, Ma|dam, on this occasion. But, as I hope I have now deserved your confidence, Miss Woodley, tell me then, if you have any particular attachment, and I shall endeavour to serve you with Sir William;—though I know I shall, for a time, stand in the light of a culprit before him, by declining the honour he intended me.
You overpower me with obligations, Mr. Belford.
No speeches, my dear Madam. If I was not sufficiently gratified by the honour of the act, no acknowledgements could make me amends for the disappointment; so frankly name the hap|py man who is to raise my envy, and compleat your happiness.
Though I think that a well-placed and mutual affection need not raise a blush upon the chastest cheek, yet mine will glow when I name Co|lonel Mountfort.
Colonel Mountfort! I'm sorry for it▪
Why so, Sir?
Because he's a very pretty fellow, Ma|dam, and for that reason may fall within your un|cle's chapter of coxcombs, and prevent his consent.
Then I shall never give mine to marry any man else.
That's somewhat in the Knight's own stile, Miss Woodley. But I heartily wish you suc|cess, and shall shew myself a warmer Friend than a Lover, by using my best pleadings in my rival's suit.
Accept my warmest thanks, my good old friend.
Ay, ay,—I knew she would always think of me as her old friend.
I'll play no more.
Why, to be sure, my dear friend, luck has run confoundedly against you; but I never saw you give out for such a trifling loss, before.
Seven hundred pounds is no trifle, Mr. Bromley!
A trifle, indeed, to a person of your immense fortune!
You have made a false estimate of my circumstances. I am rather a distressed man, at present, Mr. Bromley.
I hate to repeat it; but 'tis so true, that I had some thoughts of applying to your friend|ship, to extricate me out of my present difficulties, Mr. Bromley.
Command me, command me, my dear Woodley! Every thing that poor Bob Brom|ley has in the world—
For shame, Woodley!—at hazard in your own house! I thought you had enough of that at Clubs.
Play among friends is wrong, very wrong, I confess, Colonel; but one can't be always grave and wise.—Come, my dear Woodley, let us make an end of our business—the pen, or the box, my dear boy?
Desperate situations require desperate remedies.—Give me the box—
'Tis double, now, you know, my unlucky friend; which makes upon the whole ex|actly the sum of seven thousand three hundred and fifty-four pounds, including the dear Lady Mary's trifling debt to Mrs. Bromley.
Well, I have brought a bond with me, and when I have filled up the blanks, if you please we'll perfect it in the next room.
With all my heart.—
Then I give you joy of your losses; for I Page 44 know you are too much a man of honour to break your vow.
Gamesters, like lovers, you know, Colonel—And after all, now, this is but matter of form between friends and men of honour, like you and me.—Don't you think so, Colonel?
I consider all compulsive obligations be|tween men as a disgrace to human nature. But while there are such things as knaves in the world, Mr. Bromley, we must submit to the mean securities of bars and bonds. But between men of honour, as you say—
Certainly, my dear Sir, men of ho|nour are—
Too often the dupes of knaves, Mr. Bromley.
I don't like him.—We'll talk over the affair you hinted at in the next room. Command me, on all occasions—ever—ever at your service. But I must attend the ladies. The ladies and the coffee are powerful attractions to me. You'll follow me, I presume, Colonel?
Yes, with pleasure, through my whole re|giment, with a drum at your heels. I am persuaded, Woodley, that fellow is a knave, and I wish you would exclude both him and his flaunting wife from your's and Lady Mary's society. I can't con|ceive why you are so partial to them.
The great civilities we received from them, at Spa, first attached my wife to Mrs. Brom|ley, who was there in the first sets, and even in Lon|don, where people are more nice. She keeps very good company, I assure you, Colonel.
You'll pardon me, Woodley!—She is seldom seen in public but with some damaged Dowager of Quality, who would be excluded from society if her title did not serve as a herald to make way for her Ladyship.—But enough of them! I am come to speak to you on a much more interesting subject, Page 45 and to prove—what, however, I cannot doubt—your friendship for me.
Be assured, my dear Mountfort—
I am so—you need not make professions;—therefore, with the frankness of a soldier, I venture to ask the highest proof of your regard, by consent|ing to make the fair Louisa mine.
You seem to hesitate, Mr. Woodley! My fortune is—
As unexceptionable as your character, Colonel; and as I truly love Louisa, and should rejoice in her happiness—
You consent to mine. Is it so, my friend?
I know not how to answer you.
You alarm me extremely, Mr. Woodley! For heaven's sake, speak out!—What can be your objections?
None in the world, to you; but cir|cumstanced as I am at present, it would involve me in the greatest difficulties, to be called upon so sud|denly for ten thousand pounds.
That shall not be the case, Woodley. I should think even Louisa too dearly purchased, at the expence of distressing you. When I asked for your sister's hand, I did not demand her purse; nor shall I accept the one, 'till I have signed a release for the other.
Mountfort, that must not, shall not be! I never will accept of such a sacrifice.
Hark-ye, Woodley! A soldier's character should be uniform; and if there could be one who was not liberal, I should suspect his courage to be of the mere animal kind. My fortune is sufficiently ample; and I would as soon mount my charger, cry stand and deliver, as take money I don't want, from a friend who does.
Your generosity, Colonel—
Is of too selfish a nature to merit praise; for I feel here
I will not lessen it, by offering thanks. But have you opened your trenches before the Knight of the Castle yet?
My sentiments are even with the good old Knight's, I assure you. I esteem his good qualities, and do not dislike even his foibles, as they are truly natural and unsophisticate. But there, perhaps, you may see me play the usurer, like any Jew. He may double or treble Louisa's fortune, without the least impediment from any scruple or modesty of mine.
When do you purpose to make the essay?
As soon as possible; for 'till I have paid the proper respect due to him, I do not think myself entitled to throw myself at Louisa's feet.
May success attend you, my generous friend!
Fie, Woodley—no more of that!—But adieu.
AND so that was all?
Every word, I assure you. But we shall soon make it up, for ours are but lovers' quarrels.
Lovers! talk of love after four years marriage! Believe me, Lady Mary, 'tis all a farce.
No, my dear Mrs. Bromley, I cannot give you credit against the feelings of my own heart. I love Mr. Woodley, and I am firmly per|suaded that he has a sincere affection for me, not|withstanding the little peevishness of his behaviour to-day, which I own makes me apprehend that something must have ruffled him extremely.
How did you like his peremptory resolve, of passing the whole summer in Dorset|shire?
Not at all, I confess; 'tis frightful to think of it—though there is a tolerable neighbour|hood—
Of empty houses.—No creature stays at their family seats, now-a-days, unless it be some antiquated Dowager, who, like an old Gothic corner cupboard, remains fixed to the freehold.
I vow I won't go into the country—'tis quite mauvais ton—except you'll come with us; and then we'll fly about to all the bathing-places, and give a masquerade at one of them.
I should like to pass a few weeks so, well enough;—and, indeed, my dear, you'll be quite forgotten, if you don't do something in that way. But are you sure that Mr. Woodley would like it? for I must say, though I ask your pardon, Lady Mary, he is dull—absolutely dull, indeed, my dear.
Why, I own, of late he has been rather gloomy;—but he is vastly good-natured, and never before refused any request of mine.
That may be:—but had Mr. Bromley talked to me in the same manner—
You would have loved him just as well as you do now.
You are admirable at guessing, my dear;—for as that same romantic notion of love never was the band of our connexion—
You startle me, Mrs. Bromley. Mar|riage without love must surely be a state of the greatest unhappiness.
No, I don't feel in the least unhappy.—Convenience is the best matrimonial cement, and keeps many couples together for years, whose love did not out-last the honey-moon.—But these are mysteries, into which you seem not yet initiated.
I hope I shall never know them by experience.
My dear sister—
You alarm me vastly, Louisa!—What is the matter, my dear? You know I keep no secrets from Mrs. Bromley.
Another time, Lady Mary. Family affairs—
Pray, my dear, make no stranger of me!—
Colonel Mountfort, Madam, is no way concerned in the present question.
Then I would not give sixpence for the whole story.
You look distressed, Louisa!—What can have happened? I'm all impatience.
Though I had rather be excused, Lady Mary, yet as you press so earnestly to know, my Uncle—
Has insisted on my marrying—
Not himself, hope?
Giddy creature! I Whom, my dear Louisa?
And is that all? I think it a monstrous good match.
Monstrous, indeed!—Why, he's fifty, at least.
Fifty! fiddle-stick! What does that signify? He is rich enough for threescore; and money, money, my dear, qualifies all dis|proportions.
This is by much too serious a subject for jesting, Mrs. Bromley.—But Sir William is not your sole Guardian, Louisa; and your brother, I am certain, will never consent to sacrifice you to his uncle's caprice.
I would not, on any account, my dear sister, have my brother oppose Sir William in any thing, as he is already but too much offended with him. Besides, I am in hopes that there will not be any occasion for his interposing.
She's coming round, I find.Page 50
Mr. Bromley, Madam, has sent the car|riage, and desires to speak with you, at home, im|mediately.
I'm glad of the release.—What now can he possibly want with me? But I am all obedience, though it breaks my heart to leave you. But I shall return quickly, before any one sits down to Loo.—And so, my dear,
Thank Heaven, I am not!—She is levity itself.
Her lightness, Louisa, extends no farther than her manners:—her morals are irre|proachable; and when the mind is untainted, its gaiety, like a coloured trimming to a grave suit, serves only to enliven it.
You are too partial, sister; for I much fear that you will one day discover Mrs. Bromley's manners and morals to be both of a piece.
No more upon the subject, at pre|sent!—and in truth I wonder how you can have spirits to talk of any thing else but your own melan|choly situation.—Married to Belford! to your Grandfather!
I should be sad, indeed, if such a marriage was to take place;—but my Intended has generously consented to break off the match, at my request, and to screen me from Sir William's displeasure, at the same time.
Then the old Barrister is charming, and I think I could be a little in love with him myself. But I cannot submit to this new insult from Sir William! What could he mean by dis|posing of you without deigning to consult Mr. Woodley? I shall insist upon an explanation of his conduct.
I again intreat you, Lady Mary, not to involve my brother farther with Sir William—you do not know the consequences.
I am quite weary of all this temporiz|ing, Louisa; and as you are safe on shore, you must allow me to guide the helm for myself, at present.—You'll permit me, at least, to acquaint Mr. Woodley with his uncle's contemptuous neglect of him in this matter, which I shall go and do directly.
Well, for once, Waters, I will ac|knowledge myself the happiest man in England.
I am proud to hear that your Honour is so well pleased.
Yes, yes, I am pleased, and I won't be pleased alone—they shall be pleased too!—They shall have a noble service of plate!—Louisa deserves every thing—she behaved like an angel! I thought I should have had more trouble with her; but though it be strange, it is certainly true, that all girls like to be married.
Colonel Mountfort, Sir.
I shall be glad to see him.—Wa't on him up, Waters.
I am very glad to see you, my young friend. Set chairs, Waters.
I am much obliged to you, Sir William, and happy to perceive by your looks that all in|quiries after your health must be superfluous.
I thank you, Sir!—I fancy, indeed, I do look tolerably well, for serenity of mind goes a great way towards clearing up the countenance; and I do not know when my spirits have ever been so harmo|nized, as at this moment.
How fortunate!—May I flatter myself, Sir William, that the present happy temper of your mind will assist my suit, and render you propitious!
Propitious! Nonsense.—You are an idle young rogue!—With such a noble fortune as yours—But I won't scold, now.—You have been on the Turf, I suppose, or fleeced at the Gaming-table?—But I hope the Terra Firma is safe. I should be grieved to see my old friend's estate in the hands of knaves or sharpers.—What sum do you want? I know you to be a man of honour.
You quite amaze me, Sir, by suspicions which, I will be bold to say, are unworthy both of Sir William Woodley and me. I am no gam|bler, Sir, nor have I dissipated the noble inheri|tance derived from my ancestors.
I am heartily glad of it, Sir!—I ask your pardon, young man.—
If I were so unfortunately weak, as you for a moment seemed to imagine, the respect I bear you, would have prevented my applying to you upon such an occasion, as your good opinion, Sir, is of the greatest consequence to my happiness.
There you are wrong, Colonel;—you had much better apply to me, than to any one else.—I am no cent. per cent. man—I never received a shilling interest from any friend in my life; and I have my doubts whether I should even take it from the Funds, now that the Nation is so poor.—But come, Colonel, if you don't want money, in what other way can I possibly serve you? I have no in|terest at Court.
You have an interest, Sir, in what is far dearer to me than either wealth or preferment:—your lovely niece, Louisa, Sir—
Thank Heaven, she is better disposed of!
You pause!—Do not keep me on the rack, Sir William.
I was only recollecting myself.—Am much obliged to you, Sir, for the honour—I think that's the phrase—you intend my niece; but she's married, Sir.
Married, Sir William!
Yes, Sir,—married, and settled in the country.
This raillery is rather cruel, Sir.
I never joke, Sir.—I have passed my word that she shall be married this day se'nnight; and if all the Emperors, Kings, Princes, and Po|tentates in Europe, nay the Great Mogul himself, were to demand her in marriage, William Woodley would not forfeit his promise: so that married she is, to all intents and purposes, my gay Colonel.
And has Miss Woodley consented, Sir?
Ay, to be sure; I force no-body.
Why should you think so? She is a modest, dutiful girl. It would be hard, indeed, if I was to have no comfort in my family. But don't be disheartened, Colonel! Many a gallant soldier has met with a repulse, before now.
If you could conceive the tenderness of my affection for Miss Woodley, Sir, you would not treat my sufferings so slightly.
It may be a disappointment, to be sure, Sir, for she is a fine young woman, I confess; but my friend has her, Sir, and you must think of her no more.
It is not in my power to obey your injunc|tion.—
That's a secret, Colonel.
That, I think, I have a right to know, Sir.
What! you want to exercise your va|lour a little—sa, sa, sa,—by challenging your ri|val? But keep your prowess for the common foe: we cannot spare a soldier, at present, Colonel.
This treatment is unlike yourself, Sir Wil|liam. But Miss Woodley, I suppose, will inform me;—I presume she is not bound to keep the secret.
There you are wrong again, my young hero; for she really is bound by the strongest of all possible ties—the not knowing it.
You cannot now be serious, Sir; and I will try if I have yet power enough over Louisa's heart to make her so—for I will know my rival. Adieu, Sir William!
Your servant, Colonel Huff-Cap. What a hot-brained boy! I am doubly glad Louisa has escaped him:—I would have no passionate man in the family, but myself. How lucky 'tis that Louisa does not know her husband's name!—Wo|men should ever be kept in ignorance, to prevent mischief. I have conducted this business most ad|mirably!—I have some doubts, however, whether my nephew should not be made acquainted with it; but he does not deserve my confidence, and he shan't vex me now.
Are all things going on briskly and cleverly, as they should do, my dear nephew?
The swiftest bowl does not always hit the jack, Sir William; and "fair and softly" is an established maxim in the Law.
Well, well, we must submit; but I hope you'll use as much dispatch as possible.
Dispatch is a term, Sir, not to be found in any Law Dictionary that I know of; and I fancy it will be a long time before the matters you talk of will be dispatched.
Why, surely you have a mind to try my temper, with your fair and softly! But if you knew as much as I do, you would, perhaps, think it worth while to mend your pace a little; for
So you'll find presently.—The most material point in this important affair does not appear to be yet adjusted.
Now—what can he mean?
There can be no marriage without the consent of parties; and I don't find that Miss Woodley—
If I was not in the most heavenly tem|per, you would put me in a rage. Have I not told you, Sir, that she had no consent, no choice, but what I please to give? And in twenty years ac|quaintance, have you ever known me say an untruth, Sir? My niece is all compliance and gentleness; and you'll be a very happy man, my dear nephew.
I should be unworthy of happiness, if I could enjoy it on such terms, Sir William.
Why, what's the matter, Belford?—Your head seems to be turned with your good for|tune, and you want to turn mine. No man that is unworthy can be happy—
In short, Sir William—
Ay, ay, that's the thing—now you talk sense! I like in short—stick to that, my friend. If Page 56 you want more clerks, don't value expence, I'll clear all costs—You know I hate the Law's delay.
No law, but that of honour, has any thing to do in this case, Sir William; and however irksome the task, I must beg you will per|mit me to undeceive you.
Then you acknowledge you have de|ceived me? I am thunder-struck!
No, my good friend—'tis you that have deceived yourself.
Your proposition is false, Sir. I never deceived myself, nor any one else, since I was born, Sir. I scorn and abhor deceit, Mr. Belford. But come, Sir, let me know what all this round-about tends to? Despise the chicanery of your profession, and speak as if you was a witness on the table—not a Lawyer at the bar, Sir.
I fear I shall rather appear a criminal at the bar to you, at present, Sir William.
What, then, you are married, I suppose?—have a wife already? Nay, don't smile, Sir, there is no joke in this matter; and you ought to have been hanged, if you had married my niece.
I think so too, though not upon the ac|count you mention, as I give you my honour I have no wife; and if I continue in my present mood, may venture to say that I never shall have one.
Mighty well, mighty ill, Mr. Belford! You have rewarded my sincere friendly attachment—
With true gratitude, Sir.
Don't offer to say so. What! to spurn my niece with twenty thousand pounds! Let me tell you, Sir—
That she is much too good for me.
Why really I begin to think so.
I rejoice, therefore, my dear friend—
No, Sir, don't rejoice. I am not your friend, nor ever will be your friend. You have Page 57 broke my heart—frustrated all my schemes—disap|pointed my niece.—Poor girl, I feel for her!—Young minds are easily broken by grief.—You will have much to answer for on her account, I assure you, Mr. Belford.
I should have much more to answer for to Miss Woodley, Sir William, if I did not decline the match.
Decline! Zounds, Sir, I won't bear so contemptuous an expression!—
I agree with you, Sir William, that it would be a more suitable match.
Don't agree with me, Mr. Belford, I won't suffer it.
Allow me at least to say—
No, Sir, I won't allow you to say any thing, but yes, or no, to this simple question: Do you accept, or reject, my niece?
The phrase is rather too strong, Sir; but I have already told you, that upon mature consi|deration, I decline the honour.
Confound your honour, and your con|sideration too!—And now, Sir, I decline any further conversation, connection, or correspondence, with you; and so, Sir, I am—no—I am not, your humble servant.
His rage will soon subside, and we sha•l be as good friends as ever. I am glad his resent|ment is entirely pointed at me, as 'tis probable, that to make his niece amends for the loss of a husb•nd she did not like, he may give her one she does:—and so ends, exactly as it should, the matr•monial schemes of an Old Batchelor!
I wish you would defer it till to|morrow! It will otherwise break up the assembly, and make a monstrous bustle in the family.
A fig for the assembly, and the bustle, too! No, no, my sweet simpleton, business of some kinds brook no delay.
You have no right to complain of my simplicity, Mr. Bromley. It is thro' me that you get this money from the Woodleys.
Money, child! I have never touch|ed above a thousand pounds of their cash yet. This piece of paper is all I have got for spending my time with a dull fool, and endeavouring to persuade him that he was a Solomon, and his silly wife the Queen of Sheba. But I must be paid for my attendance and trouble, and in a few minutes I shall convert this manuscript into the sum of seven thousand three hundred and fifty-three pounds, with costs—costs must be added.
I can have no objection to your being paid for your time and trouble, my dear. All I desire is, that you may not lay on the execution 'till to-morrow. Let us devote this evening to pleasure, my dear Brommy. I am to play gold Loo to-night, and I have a certain presentiment that I shall win considerably.
As to your winning, I believe you are pretty secure in that point. You don't leave much to chance, I imagine, my dove. But tho' you might win, I shall lose considerably, if this bond be not put in force this very night. I have been with Woodley's attorney, Mr. Fleece'em, a very ho|nest man, and for a small token of friendship, he has informed me, that there will be six executions in the house to morrow.
Six executions! Nay, then, they are done up, indeed, and it does not signify much keeping any further terms with them. Yet I still wish you would postpone this ugly business, 'till we are gone to the masquerade. Poor Lady Mary! it will be a sad disappointment to her, not to shew her finery.
Now you talk of finery, here, look at these!
Let me see! They are Lady Mary's ear-rings!
No; they were, my sweet innocent!
But how came you by them? She told me they were gone to be new-set.
Ask no questions, but take them, and think yourself happy in such a provident husband.
Thank you, my dear Brom|my! They are beautiful, indeed!—I have long wished for them, I confess.
I must go and expedite this busi|ness directly. Don't be frightened, dove, when the Bailiffs come in. They'll add to Lady Mary's squeeze, you know.—But take a little hartshorn in your pocket:—it will be proper for you to faint, I think.
Never fear my acting properly.—But the carriage is at the door, and I have twenty places to call at. Shall I set you down at your lawyer's, to save my dear the fatigue of walking?
How happy am I in such a discreet, tender wife!—
I follow, my dear Brommy.—
FOUR gold Loo tables, with Monsters—Four p•und four!—Two at half-crowns! Thrust them to the lower end of the room, James; they are seldom worth more than twelve shillings a piece.
Where shall I fix the Whist tables, Mr. Forward?
Damn the Whiskers! Even the gold players never make it worth a gentleman's while to snuff their candles. I wish the Parliament would put down all sneaking games!—A man can neither win or lose a fortune with any degree of credit at them. No—Pharo, Pharo's the sport.
Is this a Pharaoh's table, Mr. Forward?
No; but set that in the center, in the best place in the room. That's a Macao-table, and •ome of the birds, I fancy, will be picked pretty bare that play at it—Five pound five.—Do you hear, James? The moment the company's gone, pack up all the cards and candles, whether used or not, and carry them to my room:—I may have occasion for them, if I should see company while I am out of place.
What, you leave us a few packs to make merry with in the Servants Hall, Mr. Forward? I likes a game at All •ours, dea•ly.
Why, servants should have their amuse|ments, as well as their betters, James; so you may strip the Whist-tables for your own use. The Dons always take snuff, and fully their cards confound|edly.
Thank. you, thank you, Mr. Forward! Must I carry up the candles to your room that mayn't be lighted?
Certainly; the others will only serve for my bed-chamber, or to dress by. I detest tallow.
Well, well, I'll do as I'm bid.—
I shall make about twelve pieces pack|ing penny. I wish my master may win to-night, as I shall call upon him for my wages to-morrow: and, to do him justice, he is always ready to pay, when he has it. The Funds are low at present, and a prudent man should not suffer his money to lie dead, especially in such hands where it may be buried, too.
Let the ices be brought before eleven, Forward, as I wish the assembly to break up early. Are the bouquets come from the King's Road? Let there be a profusion of rofes in all the rooms: they are delicious, at this ••ason.
Your Ladyship shall be obeyed—
Your indifference upon this occasion really amazes me, Mr. Woodley! I thought you loved your sister.
I do, most tenderly, and shall therefore rejoice at seeing her under the protection of a wor|thy man.
Bless me! is there nothing but worth to be consid•red, in matrimony? no allowance to be made for liking? I vow, if you had been fifty times as worthy as you are, I would never have married you, if you had not been agreeable, also.
But as the match is not to take place, his being agreeable or not is of no consequence, now.
I don't comprehend you.
You don't choose to comprehend me, Mr. Woodley. But still I must say, that the indig|nity of Sir William's presuming to dispose of your sister without your consent, is not to be endured.
You are misinformed, my dear. Mount|fort asked my consent, before he applied to Sir Wil|liam—I did not see you since.
Mountfort is quite out of the present question, I tell you, Mr. Woodley.
You rave, my dear!
One of us does, that's certain.
I am not mad, yet, Madam—though I have enough to make me so.
This is too much, Mr. Woodley. Every one takes notice of your behaviour to me, of late; and wonder how I bear it.
From me, Mr. Woodley?
Not from, but for, you, Mary.
You terrify me! Explain your mean|ing, I intereat you.
It will too soon cease to be a mystery.
Then, do not let me be the last to know it.
Could every pang I now endure, be doubled to save you from the shock which you must feel, I'd bear them all, without complaining. But ruin comes on apace! and that you must share it ag|gravates my distress.
Ungenerous Woodley! to think I would shrink from any misery that attends on you! But speak your meaning clearly—suspence is tor|ture—what misery awaits us?
Our fortune's gone, my Mary!—We are undone!
Gone! Not all—my jointure still is left.—Dispose of that, and let me go into retirement with you. With pleasure I'll renounce all the fan|tastic gaieties of life, and find true happiness in your society.
Your nobleness of mind but adds to my distress.—Your jointure! No, I will live a beggar, all my days, rather than leave you one, when I must leave you. Somewhat may yet be done to save us from destruction. I have a dependence on Mr. Bromley's friendship.
So have I;—but we must be our own friends, my dear.—I will go into Dorsetshire, imme|diately. Let us discharge hal• our servants, and become patterns of oeconomy and conjugal happiness.
Generous, charming woman! Happi|ness must attend you, every where.
'Tis the inseparable companion of an upright heart; and my dear Woodley shall soon be convinced from my conduct, that chearfulness can survive gaiety, and true love make ample amends for the loss of fortune.
Your sense and virtue have removed the heaviest weight that hung upon my hear•.
Then clear your brow, my d•ar, and let us act the last scene of the farce with the same spirit as the first.Page 64
Colonel Mountfort, Sir.
Shew him into my dressing-room—I'll wait on him instantly.
Don't let even Colonel Mountfort perceive your dejection, my dear Woodley. We should, in kindness to our friends, conceal our sor|rows.
If Mountfort has succeeded with my uncle, Louisa's happiness will lighten my distress.
I have not time to ask an explanation of this matter, now.—But let me again intreat you to be chearful:—something tells me that our situa|tion is not so bad as you imagine. Let us not anti|cipate misfortune:—'tis always too soon to be wretched.
I will exert my utmost power, my dear, to emulate your fortitude.
My fortitude! Ah Woodley! little dost thou know the perturbation here.—Ruin comes on apace!—The shock was sudden and severe; but 'twas my love, not resolution, bore me through it.—And now let me collect myself a little, and try, by Reason's standard, the value of those joys which I resign.—Dress! Won't my little person look as well in a plain silk, as in all this finery? Vanity says, Yes.—Grandeur—what is it? A magnificent side-board, a train of useless servants, gay furniture, crouded rooms, and blazing lights, which but oppress the spirits, without affording enjoyment. Elegance is not confined to state: her handmaid Neatness shall preside at our board, and render our rural fare de|licious.—Operas! Ranelagh! Plays! Masquerades! Assemblies! Company! ay, there's the rub! So|ciety! dear Society! I shall not find, a Mrs. Brom|ley in Dorsetshire; but I shall have my Woodley there, and my endeavours not to let him see I grieve, Page 65 will soon make me cease to do so. My resolution's fixed—I'll acquaint Louisa with it instantly,
Upon my honour, Colonel, I am as unable to fathom Sir William's meaning, as you can be. I am certain that no person ever proposed to me for Louisa, but yourself, and she could not possibly give her consent, before it was asked.
This assurance has revived my hopes a little; but 'tis impossible my heart can be at ease, till your sister has pronounced my doom.
If she consults her own heart, Mount|fort, you will not, I fancy, have much reason to com|plain of her sentence. But as she is the only Oedi|pus that can expound this riddle, let us apply to her for the explanation.
You prevent my wishes, for you have an undoubted right to make the enquiry.
Tell my sister I desire to speak with her, immediately.
How my heart throbs, at her ap|proach!
For shame, my gallant friend!
O Woodley! when all one's happiness is staked on the turn of a die, who would not trem|ble when he stood the cast?
Miss Woodley, Sir, has just sent to let Sir William know she wishes to pay her respects to him:—at her return she will wait upon you.
Inhuman girl! She trifles with my anxiety—perhaps rejoices in it.
Lovers are of all beings the most irra|tiona. I'd hazard my life that Louisa has never heard of your proposal to Sir William, and of course can know nothing of your anxiety.
She will be soon acquainted with both. But have not you informed her?
No, on my honour; I have not seen her since you left me.
Your coolness on this subject, Mr. Woodley, by no means accords with my impatience.
You wrong me, Mountfort. Be assur|ed, that your union with Louisa is an object my heart is set on; but that heart is torn to pieces, at present.—I cannot speak—Louisa never stays long with her uncle—she will return in a few minutes.
They will be years to me.
Let us meet her then, before she goes into the drawing-room.
Poor child! I am very sorry she is coming—I know not what excuse to make for Bel|ford—I fear it will be a grievous disappointment to her.
I come, Sir, most joyfully to tell you something that I am sure will give you pleasure.
My poor dear! and I have some|thing to tell you, that I am sure will give you pain.
Indeed, Sir, I am so much rejoiced at present, that there are but very few things that could render me unhappy.
So much the worse—the shock will be the greater! I shall never have the courage to tell her.—The suddenness of this event, Louisa—
Do you know it, Sir?
Ay, but too well, my dear.
You quite surprise me, Sir! It is not above five minutes, since it was determined.
Yes, yes, 'tis more than that—above half an hour. But though matters have taken an unexpected turn, I would not have you fret, or grieve, child!
So far from it, Sir, that I am quite re|joiced, and flattered myself that you would be so too, as I know it is a point you have long set your heart upon;—and I must do Lady Mary the justice to de|clare the plan was intirely her own.
Lady Mary! I guessed as much.—How did she dare to thwart my schemes?
Dear Sir, have you not always wished that my brother and sister should live in Dorsetshire? and now that Lady Mary has, of her own accord, determined to quit London, you seem offended.
Softly, softly, child; don't hurry me!—For once in my life, I perceive I am left behind.—
Has, unsolicited by any one, resolved to give up all the gaiety and dissipation of this town, and remain in Dorsetshire till my brother's affairs are intirely retrieved.
She'll not return in a hurry, then, I doubt.—I am glad of it, my dear, for your sake, as well as your brother's:—air and exercise will be of great use to you.—
But, my good, dear uncle, won't you give Lady Mary credit for her prudence? and won't you permit my brother and sister to take leave of you, before they go?
I hate all forms and ceremonies, child!—They have had my leave to go into the coun|try, these three years past; and I am less displeased with your sister, for her prudent resolution. And so, at your request, my dear, you may all breakfast with me before you set out to-morrow.—
I don't believe, Sir, that they can set out so immediately; but I am certain they will not defer a moment to accept your kind invitation, on that account.
Stop, child, stop! I won't have them come to me, till the very hour they are going. If I were to see your brother often, I might be weak enough to grow fond of him again; so don't let him come, I charge you, 'till his boots are on. I have trouble enough on my hands for others, al|ready. You don't know what I suffer on your ac|count, Louisa, at this moment. But you shall know all about it, when you are setting off for Dorset|shire.
I wish I dare venture to make the good man's mind easy, with regard to me.—As I am perfectly resigned to your commands, Sir, on every occasion, I hope I shall never give you cause for any real trouble.
There now, she'll break my heart with her mildness!—I hope for your own sake you'll be resigned, my dear. But go, child, and tell your brother and Lady Mary, that I shall be glad to see them on the morning they are setting out; but not before, upon any account whatever.
I rejoice to be the messenger of such glad tidings; for if he sees my brother, I am certain he will serve him.
Fifty pieces on the rubber!
A bet, my Lord.
A Pam flush!
You seldom deal, I think, without one, Madam.
My Pam box can best answer that hint, Madam; for this is the first guinea I have been able to put into it, this whole winter.—But you lose, at present, Madam, and therefore have leave to speak.—Please to mark the Loo, Madam—'tis just sixty guineas.
How much am 'I obliged to you, my excellent friend, for so generously saving me from the pain of offending the best of uncles!
And let me join my gratitude, Sir, for your having so kindly removed, I hope, the only obstacle to my happiness, by releasing Sir William from his promise.
I heartily wish he may be inclined to transfer his favour to you, Sir.
My dear cousin, here's a place for you! The Monsters must come in with Mrs. Bromley.
I'll wait upon you, in a moment.
The Monsters positively shall not come in, 'till 'tis a single stake;—and then I shall never have a flush after, I suppose.
My dear Bromley, I have a thousand things to say to you of the utmost importance. I wish you would not play, to-night.
Not play! you must excuse me, indeed, Lady Mary! Besides, we shall have time Page 70 enough to talk over those same important matters, you know, at the Masquerade.
I shall not go, to-night, and have something so interesting to tell you—
'Tis impossible she should suspect any thing.—Your Ladyship knows I hate melancholy stories.—
Another flush, as I live! I don't be|lieve we shall have a single stake, these two hours.
Your Ladyship's basted—you trumpted the King of Diamonds.
What then, Madam? Here take the Diamond, I have my game without it.
No, Madam—a renounce is a Beast.
I won't submit to it.—Judgment! Several. Your Ladyship's a Beast! a Beast!
What a racket they make, at this pal|try play! Not above a crown a-fish, I dare swear!—The Loo is just two hundred and forty guineas!—Deal, Madam.
Not keep your promise, Bromley?
Why, no, indeed, Madam! I cannot possibly think of rusticating myself with your Ladyship;—but if any of the summer camps should happen to lie near you, I may give you a call, en passant, to see how love and a cottage agree with you.—Will you never let me in, Mrs. Henpeck?
Dear Madam, I wish you had been in my place, the whole evening, with all my heart! I have lost near three hundred pounds in it.—Heigh|ho!
I had vainly flattered myself, it seems, that my company might have rendered the country Page 71 passable, at least, to one who professed herself my friend.
I always thought your Ladyship very romantic.—
This shock is much severer to me, than the first I felt, as friends were dearer to me than fortune.—But let me rise above her worthlessness, nor let her see how her unkindness wounds me.
Lurched at four! 'tis confounded hard!
I bet you three to one.
Certainly.—Sooner than you wish, I fancy.
Pray, Mrs. Bromley, did you hire those ear-rings from my jeweller? I'm glad now, he did not alter them.
I have never yet been under the necessity of hiring jewels, Madam, whatever other people may have been. But though the setting of these is not altered, Madam, the property is;—for they are mine, at present, I assure you.
You'll pardon me, Mrs. Bromley.—Mr. Woodley, pray are not those my ear-rings?
They were, my dear.—
Nay, Mr. Woodley, it requires but little explanation. Lady Mary is not so much a child as not to know, that, in this country, and in these times, property quickly changes hands, from those who have squandered their own fortunes, and possibly that of others, to those who have been more prudent, and less lavish.
The Loo is over, Mrs. Bromley.—Bring the Monsters, Sir.
I thought it would never be a single stake!
Her unkindness would be in|supportable, did not the insolence of it render her despicable.
Don't you think, Miss Woodley, that Lady Mary looks uncommonly grave, this evening?
You will not be surprised at her serious|ness, when I tell you that she has determined on quitting London immediately, and retiring with my brother into Dorsetshire. I shall go with them, Colonel.
And I shall as certainly follow my leader. Sir William can have no objection to my being can|toned in the neighbourhood of Woodley Park, I presume?
Four by honours, again! This is the fourth time you have dealt them, in the rubber. Six|teen out of twenty, are odds that Demoivre could not play against.—There's your money, there's your money, Sir!
No—double or quit with your Lord|ship.
I know I am a bubble, but I hate to cut a loser.—'Tis a bet, Sir.
Two Pams, as I hope to be saved!
Fie, Madam, don't swear! 'tis vastly ill-bred.
'Tis much worse breeding to cheat, Mrs. Bromley.
Mean creature! I scorn your words.
You should begin by scorning mean actions, Madam. But you shan't take up the Loo, I assure you—I have long suspected you of such tricks.
And so have I.—Heigh-ho!—she has got a deal of my money.—Heigh-ho!
And of mine too, I assure you;—but her surprising luck is now clearly accounted for.
I won't touch another card with such vulgar, suspicious wretches.
We have renounced you first, Madam;—so if you please to rise from the table, Madam, and I'll take care that you shall never sit down to any other where-ever I am present, I assure you, Madam.
Put all the Monsters out, at once.—Heigh-ho!
I did not think your Ladyship would stand tamely by, and suffer me to be insulted in your house; but 'tis the last time I shall ever come into it, I promise you.
I shall take care that you shan't break that promise, if you shou'd happen to forget it, Mrs. Bromley.
You speak like an oracle, with|out consciousness, Madam; for this is the last night you will ever have any authority here, believe me: and so I leave your Ladyship to your future rural felicity.
Was there ever so sudden and extraordinary a change in any human creature!
'Tis rather a discovery, than a metamor|phose, my dear Lady Mary!—I have long seen through Mrs. Bromley's mask—'twas only made of gauze.
There are some Gentlemen below, Sir, who, though not invited, insist upon coming up.
Admit them, directly—all Gentlemen are welcome.
I should have done so, Sir, but that these Gentlemen don't seem to be well enough dressed for my Lady's assembly—They are but Bailiffs, Sir.
Distraction! my disgrace is public, now!
At whose suit do they come here?
I think they mentioned Mr. Bromley, Sir.
Impossible! he is the very friend I thought of applying to, in my present difficulties.
Don't be too confident, Mr. Woodley. I know that fellow to be a consummate knave.
Don't let your spirits sink, my dear Woodley.—We'll inquire into the matter, and ac|commodate it immediately.—I beg your Ladyship not to be alarmed—every thing shall be settled, directly. Try to support your sister's sinking heart, my dear Louisa.
Bailiffs, did the fellow say? Egad, I'll decamp in time.
You must not stir, 'till the rubber is out, Sir.
Your Lordship must excuse me!—Such incidents are so common, to be sure, in the present times, that they cease to be scandalous; but that does not prevent my being affected by them. I shall re|member that seven to four are the points of our game, and for debts of honour, my Lord, you'll always find me solvent.
These scenes are apt to affect me, too, Charles!—I never could stand them.—Peers are pri|vileged from such sympathies; so let us counter|march Page 75 down the back-stairs, together, or we may be lurched, though we are seven.
I shall faint, if I see them!—I must go, Ladies.
Let us have another round, Madam! We are all married women, you know.
My antipathy to these harpies was con|tracted while I was a widow, Madam.—'Tis your deal, Madam—Poor Lady Mary!—Heigh-ho!
Ay, poor Lady Mary, I say too;—tho' to be sure, one cannot have any great compassion for such an extravagant woman.
Compassion! No, truly!—Such suppers after her routs! though I was never asked to one of them. That cheat Bromley was one of her chief favourites, you know.
She is gone out of the room, as I live, without making the least apology.—Did you ever hear of such rudeness! I'll never visit her again.—Heigh-ho!
Nor I.—'Tis time to break up, indeed, when the Lady of the house has retired!—I'll carry off this Pam, to triumph over that rude wretch, Bromley. I shall have the honour of seeing you all, to-morrow night.
My coach was not ordered 'till twelve.—Will you carry me to Lady Freakish's rout? They never meet there, 'till eleven.
With pleasure.—But I insist upon telling the story of the Woodleys.
And I of Mrs. Bromley.
Then I have nothing left to do, but to count my losses.—Heigh-ho!
Why didn't you say I was gone to bed? She'll break my rest, for this night, at least. She has heard of her misfortune, I fear.
Yes, yes, 'tis all out, now.—Nay, my dear child, don't take on so—you'll break my heart, if you do.—'I was not my sault, Louisa.
Don't talk or think of faults, now, Sir.—You know that before this disgraceful event happen|ed in the family—
Don't you talk of it in such a me|lancholy strain, child;—'tis no disgrace, I tell you.
'Tis too public to be concealed, Sir. The Bailiffs are but this moment gone out of the house.
What house? This house? Your brother's house? What! have they carried him to prison? I thought it would come to this.
No, Sir—Colonel Mountfort gene|rously—
What had he to do with it? Why should •olonel Mountfort, or any one else? Why didn't they send to me?—But what have I to do wi•h your brother, child? He should have gone to pri•on.
He would not long have languished there, Sir believe me; a broken heart would soon have r•l•ased him.
Psha, psha—with your broken heart—You play the fool with me!—My nephew pe|rish in a ga••! But he has brought it all on himself, you know, child.
I grant that his imprudence, Sir, has ex|ceeded every thing, but your good-nature.
Confound my good-nature! it is for ever bringing me into scrapes—
And bringing others out of them, my dear uncle.
Well, well, well—I want Belford, now, extremely!—Every thing falls out unlucky!—But what of Colonel Mountfort, child?
I was going to tell you, Sir, that he be|came security for my brother, on the instant.
That's noble! for he did not know that I would discharge the debt.—Nay, for that mat|ter, I don't know that I shall—I promise nothing—but I like this action of the Colonel.
I rejoice to hear it, Sir.
Ay! then perhaps you like the Co|lonel? Be honest, speak out.—I should be glad to make you some amends for a loss you don't yet know of;—but I can conceal it no longer.—Belsord has declared off!—but he is unworthy your resentment. The Colonel's father was my friend, and a noble fellow he was!
And his son is every way worthy of such a father!
You know, Sir, it was their determined purpose, before this misfortune happened.
That's something in their favour, to be sure, and I'm glad you told me of it.—One good act of choice, is worth all the virtues of necessity, in the world.—I should be glad to make their minds easy, to-night—But they'd thank me, and talk to me, and discompose me, and I should lose my night's rest—for I hate thanks.—I should be glad to see Co|lonel Page 78 Mountfort:—his behaviour has shewn a respect to me, and the family.
You will meet him now, at my brother's, Sir, where your presence will make them all happy.
Well, child, I can deny you no|thing.—I like to make people happy, when they'll assist me in doing so, themselves; without which the best endeavours are but labour in vain.—But the country is the place!—You must settle in the coun|try, Louisa!—There is no safety for good folks in London, believe me, child.
I should hope, Sir, that with prudence and virtue one might be safe any where.
A fig for your prudence—ay, and for virtue too, against example! Example, child, is the ruin of us all. We naturally strive to ape those that are called our Betters, and so become worse than we otherwise should be.—But this is no time for mo|ralizing. Do you step in and tell your brother I am coming. I'll just wrap my cloak round me and follow you.
Fear not, my gallant Colonel! Mr. Woodley shall have ample vengeance upon that scoundrel Bromley; for as he has evidently altered the date of the bond, we shall find a way to reward his ingenuity.
I know not whether I am most astonish|ed at his villany, or at my own weakness in being duped by it.
The uprightness of your own heart, my dear Woodley, is the best excuse for your credulity.
I come the happy messenger of joyful tidings! My dear good uncle—But he's here.
I'm glad to meet you here, all to|gether, for I have business with every one of you, jointly and severally.—And first for you, Colonel, I am very much obliged to you, Sir, and I scorn to be obliged to any man, without making him some return for his kindness. I therefore make you a pre|sent I refused you, a few hours ago, for the sake of old Sir Doubtful Deliberation there.—But do you take Louisa, and for aught I know, you may make her as good a husband as he would have done.
I shall use my best endeavours, Sir, to deserve—
That's right—stick to that.—No thanks, but deserve as much as ever you can.—And as for you, Mr. Belford, though I am confoundedly angry with you, I must get you to settle this young man's affairs; his debts of honour, his post obits, &c.; though perhaps it may be only affording him an opportunity for deranging them again.—That's the modern phrase, I think, for being over-head-and-ears in debt.
The sufferings my follies have brought upon me, Sir, and the remembrance of your gene|rosity, will remain too strongly impressed on my mind, to admit of my relapsing into my former errors; as that would be adding ingratitude to ex|travagance, and vice to folly.
Well, well, I hope so.—Kindness should be the strongest tie to a generous mind, and I suspect you not of any baseness in your nature;—though, to be sure, you have shewn a plentiful lack of wisdom in your conduct. But misfortunes Page 80 make Solomons of us all!—And now, Madam,
Your kindness, Sir,—
Stop there—I won't be thanked—I wish to do as I would be done by; and as I should not like to be confined in the finest place in the world, not even Woodley Park, I would not impose such a restraint on one who I doubt not will hereafter merit my indulgence.
Gratitude overwhelms me, Sir!—I cannot speak my sense of your goodness as it deserves.
So much the better!—There are nobler ways of shewing one's sentiments.
They shall be demonstrated in my future conduct, Sir; for the virtue that arises from the conviction of past errors, must be at once sincere, and permanent.