THE PLATONIC WIFE, A COMEDY▪
As it is Performed at the THEATRE-ROYAL IN DRURY-LANE.
By a LADY.
LONDON, Printed for W. JOHNSTON in Ludgate-street; J. DODSLEY in Pall-Mall; and T. DAVIES in Russel-street. MDCCLXV.
TO HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF BEDFORD THIS PIECE IS MOST HUMBLY INSCRIBED, BY HER GRACE'S MUCH OBLIGED, MOST GRATEFUL, AND OBEDIENT SERVANT,
THE hint of this Piece was taken from one of the Contes Moraux of Marmon|tel, stiled L'Hereux Divorce. The foible ri|diculed in the tale is, perhaps, the only one imputed to our sex which has never yet been exposed by a theatrical representation. It is a simplicity, not a coquetry; it is the error of a delicate and elevated mind, unacquainted with the manners of real life, or the general frame of the human heart.
The novel was too barren of incident to furnish out an entertainment for the stage, which obliged me to contrive an intire un|der-plot, and introduce several new charac|ters into the Comedy, which I shall not take up the reader's time to point out here; and submit this performance to the candor and clemency of the public, after having, per|haps, too adventurously hazarded their criti|cism and censure.Page [unnumbered]
Sent by an unknown Hand.
- Lord FRANKLAND, Mr. POWELL.
- Sir WILLIAM BELVILLE, Mr. HOLLAND.
- Sir HARRY WILMOT, Mr. GRIFFITH.
- Mr. FRANKLAND, Mr. LEE.
- AMBROSE, Mr. HAVARD.
- PATRICK, Mr. MOODY.
- NICODEMUS, Mr. PARSONS,
- Two Footmen, Mr. ACKMAN, &c.
- Lady FRANKLAND, Mrs. YATES.
- Lady FANSHAW, Mrs. CLIVE.
- EMILIA, Miss POPE.
- CLARINDA, Mrs. HOPKINS.
- FONTANGE, Mrs. CROSS.
- LUCY, maid to Emilia, Mrs. HIPPISLY.
- BETTY, maid to Clarinda, Mrs. LEE.
Scene, LONDON.Page [unnumbered]
THE PLATONIC WIFE.
_I REJOICE to find that your ladyship's good nature is as much delighted as mine, at lady Frankland's happy escape from the galling chain of matrimony.
Why really, Clarinda, I look upon it, that next to the felicity of widowhood is that of being sepa|rated. However, there are, my dear, some mate|rial differences: While the tyrant lives to whom we have been bound, we never can forget we have been slaves. There are, besides, some other dis|agreeable circumstances which attend a separation, from which, thank Heaven, my state is free.
You mean, I suppose, the power a husband has of withdrawing alimony, in case of indiscretion, and forcing the wretched wife upon certain moyens de vivre, whether she will or no.
True. Now you know that since that Gothic statute of the Black-Ram, in the North-west Rid|ing, has been abolished, we widows may chuse what hobby-horse we please; sometimes, for varie|ty, perhaps an ass; but oh! defend me from a mule, 'tis so vastly like a husband.
Oh! the happiest simile in the world: for, on my conscience, they seem equally to be deviations from the laws of nature. However, when broke, from restiveness, they are the best pack-saddle am|blers in the world.
But now, my dear Clarinda, that we have got this pretty little bird out of its cage, what think you will it do with its freedom? 'Tis vastly wild, and will, I imagine, take flight to some Arcadian grove, and sit and sing alone.
O no; that must not be: it would disgrace our generalship. She dies for sentimental passion; and when once her romance is known, I warrant we shall be able to supply her with pretenders enough, who may assume by turns, the crook and scrip, the helmet and the lance, to hold her in play. Nay, piqued as she was at what she stiled lord Frank|land's indifference toward her, I am persuaded that if one tender tear had but glistened in his eye, at the instant of their separation, she would have sunk into his arms, and like the plaintive turtle, have Page 3 moaned and cooed away the remainder of her life, in true conjugal insipidity.
I am surprized this did not happen, for I am quite of opinion that lord Frankland loves her.
He certainly does; but then he did not deify her. My lord knows himself to be a mere mortal man, and has not the presumption of lxion, to cope with goddesses.
He once, I think, admired you, Clarinda; it was thought you liked him too: how happened you to escape the noose?
Platonics, lady Fanshaw, all Platonics. So vul|gar a notion as matrimony, never once, I believe, entered either of our heads; and I dare swear he wishes now, that he had never changed his mind since in that article.
'Tis possible he may; and that at length, tired with the pettishness of a spoiled child, he may re|turn and throw his devoirs again at the feet of one who will at least treat him like a reasonable creature.
I dare not indulge the hope; but I shall endea|vour though, to lay every obstacle in the way to their re-union. Lady Frankland is young and handsome; she may be virtuous too; but how long that same fortress, called Chastity, will hold out when besieged by flattery, the love of which is her chief foible, I cannot say.
Why just as long, Clarinda, as any other fortress, where the governor loves money, and the besiegers come up to his price. But among those who either are, or pretend to be, her adorers, I cannot yet per|ceive that she has shewn the smallest preference; and I really believe that she admires Alexander, Cy|rus, or Orondates, more than any man alive.
Perhaps she may think so too; but be assured, lady Fanshaw, that any person who ardently desires to inspire a romantic passion is not unsusceptible of a natural one; and when that takes place, she will e'en act an old proverb, and accept of the living dog, instead of the dead lion.
But come, my dear Clarinda, and let us attend the levee of this eccentric comet, which, like other blazing stars, perhaps glitters but to fall.
Thou beauteous shade of that angelic form, whose wild caprices have destroyed my peace, I could for ever gaze upon thee! As lord Townly says, "Why did I marry?" Oh! rather say, Why did I quit my charge, deputed as I was her virtue's guard?
Good morning to your lordship.
Good morrow, Charles.
I grieve to find your lordship's contemplations still fixed upon that gloomy subject.
And wherefore should they not? Why gloomy, Charles? Look with what innocence she smiles upon me! and sure that painting is the portrait of her heart.
I have not the least doubt of lady Frankland's innocence or virtue; but surely, my lord, it were a childish folly to cast our play-thing from us, then sit and mourn its loss.
I have not done so, Charles: I have thrown a diamond in a flaming furnace; if it escape without a crack or flaw, its value then is proved.
Ay, if it does, my lord.
Why should you doubt it, Charles? I know her merits, and her foibles too—her real love of virtue, with her fond wishes to inspire a vain, romantic passion.
And can you think, my lord, that to obtain so fair, so rich a prize, there are not men who will as|sume the semblance of a more romantic passion, than even your lordship feels?
Perdition's in that thought! Oh, Charles, had I but shewn the thousandth part of that fond love I feel for lady Frankland, this fatal separation ne'er had happened.
I have been, my lord, to inquire lady Frank|land's health, and was answered by her woman that her ladyship had sat up late, reading a new ro|mance; that she had wept much, and slept little, but was in tolerable health this morning.
May each new morn, fresh from its downy wings, shed health and happiness around her! Order my chariot, Ambrose, and see that all things are got ready for my departure this morning. I shall go to Belle-veüe, for how long I know not. Perhaps air, exercise, and change of objects, may throw off this sad weight.
Shall I accompany your lordship?
No, Charles; you seem to have some doubts of lady Frankland's conduct: I would have you, therefore, be a witness to it; for my part I have none. Your intimacy with Emilia, who now lives with my wife, will furnish you with sufficient op|portunities to know every step she takes, and I shall thank you with true gratitude, to deal with strictest justice.
Ay, toward myself I will. This poor, weak man has parted from his wife, for wishing he should love her, and now sits pining at yon baby-face, and longs to have the limbs to it again. But should that happen, he may perhaps get others, which must contract and cripple mine. Counsellor Frankland, with four hundred pounds a-year, and that dipt up to the chin too, is but a poor lover sor Emilia, with Page 7 fifteen hundred; but the same man, heir to lord Frankland's rank and fortune, sounds well enough. Therefore the case stands thus: my bird is almost caught, and shall I loose the string, and let it fly, to lure his to the nest again, where it may sit and breed, while I am whistled down the wind to prey at fortune?
Nicodumpus, Nicodumpus, maka de hot vater for my lady breakfast. Vite, Nicodumpus.
What can she mean now?
Why you no stir, Nicodumpus? my lady up this half-an-hour, and has no gota her tea. In my countré de valet de chambre hava de caffé, de ga|teau, ready again de lady sit up in her bed; they carry it to her ruelle, they clap it upon her lap, they tell her de news of de ville, of de compagne, of every ting in de vorld; they maka her laugh, and put her in de bon humeur for de whole day. O, de English serviteurs sont de mere bétes!
Why there now, youse run on at a fine rate, and Ise does not know what youse been jabbering about, this half hour. The Devil take all your country, say I: Youse come over here, poor, sorry, lean, spectacles, to take the bread out of our English Page 8 mouths, and then prate to us in outlandish gibber|ish, of ruelly's, villy's, and Cato's. But I'll be hanged if Mrs. Cato, that lived with my lady be|fore she ever saw your ugly feace, were not worth a ship-load on ye.
What, you filthy animal, do you stand making a names of me? Spectacle! me no spectacle; me no wear de spectacle on my eyes. Ver fine indeed! I vill make complain of my lady directly; I vill maka her turna you out, you miserable ver de terre, and I vill get de French valet for her, who shall know how to treat mademoiselle de Fontange vid de propre complaisance.
Youse turn me out, youse be hanged first. Sure one Englishman is able to flog a dozen of your wishy-washy soup-meagre munseers, let alone such a flippery, flimsey doll Margery, as you.
Oh, de monster, de barbicon! je dechireray ton visage, vid my nail.
If youse at that work, have at you.
Oh, oh, oh!
Goodlack, what is the matter, dear mademoi|selle? you seem to be in a most piteous taking. For goodness sake, Nicodemus, what have you done to poor mademoiselle?
Why, nothing at all, Mrs. Lucy, and Ise sorry for it: Those damned furbeloes and flounces about her heels there, have saved her beacon, or I'd have trimmed her jacket for her; ay, that I would.
Oh! he has mada de baddest names of me—he calla me de spectacle, de marjoram—oh, oh!
Dear mademoiselle, do not take on so, though it is very affecting really. Come, Mr. Nicodemus, pray ask mademoiselle's pardon; come, kiss and be friends, do now.
Ise ask her pardon! Ise kiss her! not I truly—Isc just as soon hug an hedgehog. Let her be glad she was not a mon, and go off quietly with what she has gotten.
Come, dear mademoiselle, walk in with me; your nerves seem mightily affected, and I have got some excellent hartshorn, which I hope will compose you.
Oh, de béte, de monster!
Page 10 Heigh ho! why cannot I repeat the rest? Dear unhappy Eloise; but oh! far more unhappy lady Frankland! She had experienced those transports she so feelingly describes, whilst I, unhappy I, with all the tenderness of fond affections glowing in my breast, was doomed to the embraces of a marble statue! Surely my glass deceives me, or I might well inspire that ardent love which lifts us to the skies upon its seraph's wings. Cruel parents, was it for you I wedded! you chose, indeed, a man of worth and honour for me: O, the rare gift! but to become once weary of a faultless person, is to be doomed to lassitude for life. This surely, is severe!
Upon my word, lady Frankland, you will spoil those fine eyes of yours, with constant poring; and then, I fear you will become so very, very wise too, that our beaux won't be able to converse with you, and we shall absolutely be deserted by every crea|ture, but the grave Sir William Belville, who I be|lieve reads a little, and the sagacious counsellor Frankland, learned in the laws.
I assure you, Emilia, I almost wish I had never learned my letters; sor the delicate and refined sen|timents, which books have inspired me with, have only served to disgust me with almost all mankind.
And yet you would have me read and sigh, and weep over a parcel of doleful devils, who, ten to one, never existed, nor is it a farthing matter whe|ther they did or no. Not I truly; if knowledge is to make me unhappy, I am sure 'tis wisdom to remain in ignorance; and I heartily wish dame Eve had thought so too.
Yet you lose vast pleasure, Emilia.
Grant it; you must allow that I escape much pain: And I am persuaded, that your ladyship might have been as happy with lord Frankland, as any woman in England, if your ideas had not been perverted and disturbed by an heap of vile roman|tic trash.
No, Emilia, it was impossible. But let me not accuse my lord for this; my ill stars only were to blame.
Bless me, what had stars to do in that case?—unless you mean stars and garters; and I dare say his lordship might easily have obtained a red ribbon, at least, if that could have rendered you happy.
My dear wild girl, you have wandered very far from my meaning. When I accused my fate, in order to excuse my lord, it was for not having af|forded me some glorious opportunity of manifest|ing a passion for him, by some noble, generous deed, which must have extorted his admiration, his gratitude, and love. For, to deal candidly, what right had I to have expected that lord Frankland should be a passionate lover? what sacrifice had I made him? by what heroic devotement had I awakened the sensibility of his soul? where was the merit of having obeyed my parents, and accepted for an husband one, to whom I could possibly have no exception?
Indeed, my dear lady Frankland, you talk strange|ly, and put me in mind of a young lady of my ac|quaintance, deeply versed in romance, who, with a Page 12 large fortune, ran away with an ensign; but when they had got clear off, she would not be content unless he returned and suffered her to leap out of a window to him: The experiment was made, and the poor lady discovered, and confined, till a more suitable match could be found out for her.
With which, I suppose, she was miserable for life. Why should love meddle in matches of con|venience? Oh, ye delights of sensible souls! charms of impassioned hearts! where are ye? alas! in free and independent love alone, in the mutual yield|ing of two fond hearts, which have bestowed them|selves!
Oh, for Heaven's sake, dear lady Frankland, don't run on at this rate! I vow I am frightened lest you should tempt me to throw away myself and fortune, upon some beggar in pursuit of these same transports, which, after all, I do not believe are to be found any where but in the heated imagination of some poet or romance-monger.
I hope that my dear Emilia will experience every happiness which she can wish. I own your reproof is just, and I shall henceforth avoid any discourse that may elevate your notions to such an height, as may perhaps make you feel those bitter pangs of disappointment, which have been my lot.
My dear lady Frankland, I had not the least idea of your growing serious on the subject: But luckily here comes company to divert it. I have some letters to write, and shall return the moment they are finished.
Joy to my dear lady Frankland, joy to the world of love and gaity.
Joy to the lovers of liberty, that you have reco|vered yours.
I thank ye, ladies, for your congratulations; but as yet I confess I do not see of what great advan|tage this same boasted liberty will be of to me. I have really no pursuits to follow, no inclinations to indulge, that need restraint; and to become one's own mistress, at my age, is, I think, a thing rather to be feared than wished.
Why truly, madam, yours is a critical situation. But what is female liberty, after all, but a name? for a fine woman can never enjoy it, but in the mo|ment she renounces it; and it is only worth pre|serving, in order to part with it to good purpose.
I am astonished, Sir Harry, to hear you preach such absurd doctrine: Lady Frankland is very young; her ignorance is therefore pardonable; but give me leave, who have been my own mistress these ten years, to instruct her ladyship in the charms and use of liberty, and I fancy she will find there is something in them more than a name.
Madam, I bow to your superior judgment, and must confess I do not know a more experienced guide, to all the paths of pleasure. You and the gay Clarinda here, would have made notable priest|esses, Page 14 were the mysteries of the Bona Dea now in vogue. But, madam,
True, Sir Harry, provided one knows how to use that freedom; but to run gadding about the world, without meaning or design, is certainly a gross abuse of it.
Absolute prostitution of our greatest blessing—But, in my opinion, there is but one measure for your ladyship to pursue; to chuse a proper con|ductor, and leave the rest to him. A person, en|dowed with your ladyship's beauty, and delicacy of sentiment, must surely have the choice of many.
There lies the difficulty, Sir Harry. When they who wished my happiness, as ardently as I can do, whose judgment and experience were far superior to mine, have erred, what have I not to fear, even in the choice of a mere sentimental friendship, which is all my situation can admit of?
Your ladyship means, I suppose, in chusing lord Frankland for your husband.
I swear, for my part, I ever thought it an ill|suited match.
Why, he is really a good sort of man, and sen|sible enough too, but unhappily wants taste; not at all cut out for discovering the elegant and re|fined charms of your ladyship's mind. Besides, Page 15 really the desire of pleasing an husband, is in gene|ral so very languid, that a fine woman seldom ex|erts her most amiable qualities, toward him. To charm, to conquer, she reserves for other eyes, and other hearts than his.
Indeed, Sir Harry, I should look upon myself as highly culpable, if that had been my case. My ut|most wish was to inspire lord Frankland with the most delicate passion: How I have failed, I know not!
Oh, the sweet plaintive turtle! Come, come, my dear, lord Frankland is a reasonable creature; he leaves you at liberty.
And you would be unworthy of such rational treatment, should you squander so great a treasure, in idleness or dissipation.
I am not much afraid of falling into either of these extremes, Sir Harry.
Was there ever so rude a monster, as that Charles Frankland! I met him in the ante-chamber, and made him as civil a curtesy, as any third cousin could possibly do, and the bear came up to me, whipt me about the neck, and kissed me with the same rustic freedom he used to do at my father's in Wales, when he came circuit with the judges, and dined at our house.
Oh, poor Emilia! ha, ha, ha!
Do settle my tucker, Clarinda.
So, Sir, you have followed me, I see.
He must be a dull hound, indeed, who could be found at a fault, in so short a course. I am glad to see your ladyship,
I find your ladyship so much engaged with the croud which surrounds you, that I shall, for the pre|sent, take my leave; but as I have something of im|portance to communicate to you, I intreat you will allow me the honour of waiting on you this evening, when the company may be seated at cards, and I may have the felicity of entertaining your ladyship apart.
I shall be glad to see you, Sir Harry.
I doubt it not
Well now, my dear giddy Emilia, what is this terrible disaster, which you complain of?
Why, madam, all I know of the matter, is, that my cousin seems offended at my being glad to see her.
Not so neither, Mr. Charles; but you need not drag one's cloaths off, as you used to do. Besides, I am not so great a romp as I was, and had not my hair dressed then. I am sure he has disconcerted it mightily; has not he, lady Fanshaw?
Not much, my dear.
This fracas will soon be made up, I imagine. Mr. Frankland, you'll do me the pleasure of your com|pany to dinner. Come, ladies.
I shall attend your ladyship.
WELL, Mr. Frankland, now that you have drawn me from the company, prithee what is this mighty important business, you said you had to communicate to me?
How can my dear Emilia be so cold—ask such a cruel question!
I declare I am not in the least cold; I think the weather rather warm for the season: and as to cru|elty, 'tis a most unjust charge, for I vow I never hurt any thing in my life, no not a fly.
How can you trifle thus?
Nay, but it is you that trifle, and I beg you will not detain me, for I am sure the company within will sit down to loo in five minutes, and I would not lose my place at the table, for any considera|tion; therefore, if you have any thing to say, speak, vite, vite, as Fontange says.
Since I find, madam, that you cannot with pa|tience spare a few minutes to one, whose every hour of life is devoted to you, I shall not trespass on you longer, but leave you, madam, to more agreeable avocations.
No, I swear you shall not make a fool of me, neither; I am sure lady Frankland will ask what business you had with me, therefore do, pray do, tell it me, directly.
If my eyes have not already made the too pre|sumptuous declaration, then let my tongue avow it—Emilia, I adore you.
Ha, ha, ha! and is that the mighty secret, la|bouring in your breast?—Why, my good cousin Charles, you ought certainly to be a great wit, for you really have a very bad memory, and seem utterly to forget that you have told me the same story, by night and by day, an hundred times at least, within these three years, and that I have al|ways received this pompous declaration, just as I do at present—Ha, ha, ha!
I am extremely unhappy, madam, to find that the most important concern of my life should be|come a matter of ridicule and mirth to you. But though you cannot feel for others, let your own danger awaken your sensibility: You stand at pre|sent on the brink of ruin, and have no other place of safety, that I can see, but these arms, to take re|fuge in.
Then sure my case is desperate, indeed! But what danger, Sir, what ruin, am I threatened with?
With one of the greatest misfortunes that can possibly befal an innocent young woman—the loss of reputation, madam.
My character, Sir, is far above the reach of ma|lice, nor has the tongue of slander ever yet pro|nounced my name.
It will not long be silent then, be assured of it, associated as you now are with persons, whose cha|racters have been so long infamous, that scandal has forgot their names.
I neither know, nor own such vile acquaintance; but if you would not have me think you worse, far worse, than those you have described, speak out di|rectly; name them to me, Sir, nor like a base as|sassin, attempt to wound those by night, you dare not look upon by day.
My dear Emilia, you are young, and do not see through the artifices of that vile woman.
What woman? Sure you dare not hint it!
Lady Frankland is—
I say, a fallen one.
Oh, thou art one, and of the blackest dye!—She vile, she artful! thou art a monster but to think it. Her mind and person are as pure as mountain-snow, which the sun's beams have never glanced upon.
This is prodigious fine, very poetical truly. But now, my dear Emilia—
Stand off; there's poison in your touch, as in your speech.
Are you then deaf, as well as blind? Were you not present this morning, when she publicly gave an assignation to Sir Harry Wilmot? her bed-cham|ber, I suppose, will be the scene.
Sir, I command you silence; let not your ve|nomed tongue offend my ears, with such base, such vile suggestions.
You bid me speak, and you shall hear me out. Is not the grave Sir William Belville ever sighing at her feet, with twenty coxcombs more, who in their turns shall hope, nor hope in vain.
Leave me, Sir; I desire you'll leave me.
No, my lovely Emilia, I cannot, will not leave you: I will defend you, even against yourself. I have shewn you the precipice, on which you stand; let me now point out the path to happiness and safety. This vile lady Frankland—
Can never think of returning back to her hus|band again; and, in failure of lawful issue, you know I am his heir; therefore no despicable match for my Emilia.
Thou art indeed, the most despicable, meanest wretch that lives. So, sir, the source of this pol|luted stream, at length appears: You have traduced Page 22 one innocent woman, to entrap another. But know, that were you this moment, what I hope you ne|ver will be, in possession of lord Frankland's wealth and honours, and that Emilia had not a shilling in the world, she would fly you with the same detes|tation and contempt, she does at present. And so, my lord Would-be, adieu.
I fear I have over-shot the mark. I thought to have frightened the little Welch puss, with the cry of scandal opening against her, and that she would have taken cover in my arms. But faith she is a stout one, and worth scampering after, the whole circumference of her estate; and, by fair or foul means, I will yet hunt her down.
Oh, your honour's tres humble servante; com|ment se porte Mr. Padrick, your honour's Iris ser|viteur? he never a come to see us since a we leave Parliamentary-street. Oh, he be de inconstant varlet!
I shall take care to chide him for it, mademoi|selle, and send him to wait upon you directly.
Oh, your honour maka me very, very glad. I do like Mr. Padrick dearly, he be so very coxco|mical he maka me laugh; and then he maka de plays vid de kisses in it. Oh, it was very, very sweet.
Well, mademoiselle, Patrick shall certainly re|fresh your lips, with some of those sweet kisses Page 23 again. But tell me, how do you like your manner of living, since your removal to Pall-Mall? I sup|pose you are quite happy here without a master.
Oh, point de tout, not at all. My lady she keep a de very bad hour; pauvre Fontange she must sit up for her lady. I am sure me look a de vizard, for want of de sleep.
How happens that, mademoiselle? what can she find to do alone?
Why she have a de companie dat stay with her sometime till one or two o'clok; den she go up to her chambre; dere she sit down to sigh, or to read a de great big boke; den may be, that laughing miss Emilie she come in, whip away de boke, and sit prate-a-prate to her till we no want candle to go to bed. But I beg a your honour's pardon: I have a de lettre to my lady, from Sir Harry Wil|mot.
Serviteur, mademoiselle. Proceed in your vo|cation.
Your tres humble.—Pray souvenez monsieur Padrick.
A letter from Sir Harry! What then, his sto|mach does not serve, or perhaps he thinks the treat will keep cold. I am sorry for it. I wish he, or the Devil had her. I know not what to think of her. I greatly fear she may be honest. But if I can contrive any method to ruin her in lord Frank|land's opinion, 'tis quite equal, and she may then remain as chaste as she pleases, for me. This French Page 24 woman may be of use: She certainly knows her lady's secrets; and it will be very extraordinary, if an Englishman's gold, and an Irishman's kisses, may not be able to open the lock of that curious repo|sitory. She may assist in my design on Emilia too, whom I am determined to have, were it only to gratify my pique.
The pool is out, and my cards are really so dis|agreeable that I am tired of playing. I wish Emi|lia would come and take them.
Will you play, Emilia?
No, madam, I would rather be excused, at present.
Then we have done, if your ladyship pleases, and I am glad of it; for I confess I think that play, among friends, is a most shameful misemployment of time, and that cards appear properly in the hands of sharpers only, merely as implements of their trade.
For all that, Sir William, cards are a very com|fortable resource sometimes.
Ay, where the company is not large enough to make up a country-dance.
I am sure half the people of fashion in England, would pass many a dull evening, nay, perhaps some of them might hang or drown themselves, if it was not for the relief which these little innocent paint|ings afford.
I am so far of Sir William Belville's opinion, that I think avarice is the true source of play; and how persons of liberal minds, and easy fortunes, can reconcile so mean a motive to themselves, is to me surprizing.
There are few people, madam, who are truly ac|quainted with the springs of their own actions, and many who are actuated by the basest, would be shocked if they knew them.
This is a grave subject, Sir William; I think we grow rather too wise.
Why I really think so too, so I'll e'en go trifle. O Clarinda, such a capuchin as I saw in the Park, yesterday! I will have just such another positively, and will instantly go enter into close consultation with my milliner, on this important subject.
I wish Sir Harry Wilmot was here; he would enliven us all, even without cards.
You'll not have your wish to-night, lady Fan|shaw—Sir Harry is engaged.
Prithee where, Clarinda?
At lady Subtle's: He is solely devoted to her, for the present. Her husband is in the country, Page 26 and I dare say he would not spend this evening from her, for a nabob's fortune.
Ridiculous! how can you talk so? why he has been in her good graces, above this month, which is long enough, believe me, to surfeit him. He has had a dozen amours, at least, within these twelve months.
A dozen, did you say, lady Fanshaw?
I did indeed; and your ladyship may be assured I have spoken within bounds.
I dare say so too; and yet he has behaved with honour, to them all.
How you amaze me! with honour said you? I thought till now, that constancy in love had been a virtue.
I have met with some such musty moral, among the metaphysics of old romances; but the bon ton of later times, have exploded it long since, I assure your ladyship.
I humbly beg a mille pardon of your ladyship, and of all de ladyships, for me entre here; but I have a beg of Nicodumpus this half-hour, to bring a this lettre to your ladyship; but he pretend a he do not entendez moi, and I am forced to bring it myself, for which I beg a mille pardon again.
Give it to me, mademoiselle.—I shall return im|mediately.
Each word, each glance, discovers some new charm, And dead, not cold, is he she cannot warm.
O fye, Sir William! what a mere whining ina|morato you are! why don't you say all these fine things to her face? what signifies your sighing them out, after she has got beyond ear-shot?
The delicate and high respect I bear toward her ladyship's unhappy situation, must seal my lips in everlasting silence; nor shall I ever breathe a sigh or wish, that may offend her.
Ha, ha, ha!
And so you think she would be offended! Lord, Sir William, though you are very young, you need not pretend to be quite so innocent. Offended! ha, ha, ha!
I am pleased to hear you so merry, ladies. Pri|thee communicate the occasion; for I should be glad to try if there be sympathy in mirth, as well as contagion in sorrow. Do tell me what you laugh at.
Lady Fanshaw and Clarinda, madam, were say|ing—
Why, that of all simple animals, a bashful lover was the most ridiculous.
I believe there are few men, now-a-days, ridicu|lous on that account. I have, indeed, read of lovers who have sighed whole years away, without daring to acquaint the happy object with their passion.
While, perhaps, the pining fair one sat sighing, in her turn, to waving woods and purling streams, for him again. Ha, ha, ha!
That too might have happened, I believe, Cla|rinda.
And don't your ladyship think they were a cou|ple of mighty silly mortals?
You know my sentiments upon that subject, al|ready, ladies.
For my part, I think there is happiness sufficient, in the bare loving of an amiable object.
What, without any hope or desire of a return?
It is impossible to divest a lover of the fond hope of being pitied, at least, by the object he adores; and while he confines his wishes within that bound, he is indeed a lover: but when he vainly thinks his services should merit a reward, perhaps incon|sistent with the honour or happiness of the beloved object, self-love assumes the place of passion, and it no longer deserves even the name.
Upon my word, Sir William, I am charmed with the elegant and just description you have given of Page 29 love, and am rejoiced to find the dear idea still ex|ists in any breast besides my own.
They must be insensible, indeed, who could have had the happiness of conversing with your ladyship, without being, in some degree, inspired by that de|licacy and refinement, which accompany all your words and actions; and if I have been able to con|ceive, or express proper sentiments of the noblest passion, I own myself indebted for them, to my knowledge of lady Frankland.
This goes on swimmingly; let us leave them together; I dare say they wish us gone, Clarinda.—
You are not coming with us, Sir William?
No, madam, but I think it time also to retire. I wish your ladyship good-night.
Stupid fellow! I would not have gone away these two hours, if I had thought so.
Sir William Belville is really a very agreeable and polite man. Oh, if lord Frankland had been capa|ble of his refined, his delicate sentiments of love, how happy had I been! this were indeed the golden age again restored to me!—But let me see once more, what says the gay Sir Harry?
Page 30 "Madam,
"I am totally in despair at losing the most pre|cious moments of my life; but company have broke in upon me, and prevented my laying my devoirs at your feet. What would I not give to escape from them! but, unluckily, they are persons of the first condition:—I cannot therefore taste of hap|piness, till to-morrow. I most earnestly conjure dear lady Frankland, to abridge some hours of cruel and distracting absence, by permitting me to attend her levee at the toilet: 'Till then I have the honour to be
Her ladyship's most passionate adorer,
Vain coxcomb! is this then the important busi|ness he had to communicate to me? But I will see him, to mortify the insolence of his presumption.
Pray, what is your ladyship ruminating so very seriously upon?
I have much to think of, Emilia; but I pro|mised you this morning, you may remember, to confine my ideas to my own breast. I fancy you look grave too: what, has Mr. Frankland boister|ously presumed to kiss your hand, or neglected to take up your fan, when you dropt it on purpose for him? or—
No such matters, I assure your ladyship. Yet he has indeed furnished me with a very copious sub|ject for contemplation. But—
I claim no right over your secrets, my dear; and from the good opinion I have formed of your cha|racter, Page 31 I dare say you may be safely trusted with the keeping of them yourself. But, as I most sin|cerely wish your happiness, I must say, that I think you would have a better chance for it with any other man, than Mr. Frankland: There is a reserve, even in his gayest manners, that seems to squint suspicion.
I am so far of your ladyship's opinion, that I promise you Mr. Frankland shall never have it in his power to render me unhappy. But let us talk no more upon so disagreeable a subject. I have just got the last new song, that your ladyship seemed fond of: will you step into the next room, and hear it with the harpsichord?
With all my heart.
You have staid a confounded while; but I sup|pose you waited for an answer—Give it to me.
Fait, and if I had done that, myself would not have been here so soon itself; for how could miss Emilia give an answer to a letter she would not read, unless she was a conjuror, or a witch?
Not read my letter!
Not she indeed; she scorned the motion, though mademoiselle palavered her at the greatest rate, and said she was sure it must be very pretty, when it Page 32 would come from the young concealor; but madam Emilia she said she would not pry into the conceal|ment; that is, she would not break the seal, I sup|pose. Augh, she is very witty.
Leave your nonsensical prate, and be gone.
Well, there is your letter for you again, safe and sound; not a bit worse than when you gave it me—O yes, fait, it has got a little clean dirt in my pocket, but that's no great signify, it will serve a poor body well enough still. Shall I carry it to Mrs. Susan Ta|per in Threadneedle-street? may be it would bid her bring home the shirts, if she is able to carry them, with the load your honour has given her already.
Blockhead, give me the letter.
Fait, that's very foolish now. I am sure your ho|nour was a full hour a writing it; and what do you throw it away for?
Leave the room.
How strongly do I feel the force of this senti|ment in my own breast! I hoped the opening charms of the soft breathing spring, would have removed my languor; I grew sick of the country in a few hours, and I shall probably be tired of London, in as short a space.
I hope I see your lordship in good health; your sudden return has alarmed me.
I thank you, Ambrose; but I am as well as ever I expect to be!
My dearest lord, you break my heart to hear you talk so sadly. If your old servant guesses right, your malady is love—Love for the sweetest, best of women, your lordship's wife. Oh! she is all made up of gentleness and generosity! I won|der, indeed I do, how you could have the heart to part with her, indeed I do, my lord.
Full well I know her exquisite perfections, Ambrose, and admire them all. But with a heart that lov'd as mine did, how could I bear daily to be reproached with want of tenderness and passion for her! I found it impossible to act up to her romantic notions; and as I could not make her happy, I determined not to make her wretched, tho' 'tis too sure that she has rendered me so.
I am certain, my lord, her gentle heart would break, if she suspected that you grieved for her. She ever has received your poor old servant with the greatest kindness, and made me even sit down before her, when she thought that I looked feeble or fatigued, while she inquired minutely of your lordship's health. Then let me go to her, and tell her what I am sure your lordship thinks, I know she will hear me, indeed she will—Oh! on my knees I beg that I may be the blessed messen|ger of peace, the happy cause of your re-union!
I command you not to attempt it. [The pride of manhood and of love forbid it: could I have condescended to have whined and sighed before her, we never should have parted; but since that has happened, nothing but a full conviction of the injury she has done my love, shall ever make us meet again. Mean time, I will watch over her, like her guardian angel, and shield her from each wrong, or violence, she brings not on herself. Should that e'er happen, my care is at an end.]
I will obey your lordship, tho' 'tis the first se|vere command you ever laid upon me.
You will find me in the library.
Bright as the sun, and as the morning fair! Eh, ma charmante! what an amazing freshness of com|plexion! what a profusion of lovely hair! upon my soul, lady Frankland, you are vastly hand|some.
I am glad to see you in such top spirits, Sir Harry. I suppose them the effect of your last night's party.
Last night—Let me consider, where was I last night? Oh the cursed embarras du monde! which prevented my waiting on your ladyship. I have a vast mind to turn shepherd, and renounce the world at once. Should not you like to be a shep|herdess now?
O vastly! with such a faithful swain.
Egad, and so I am. Constancy is, I think, my greatest foible, at present.—'Tis apt to wear out a mistress's patience.
Then lady Subtle may boast of her charms, if they have been powerful enough to six the lively, roving, Sir Harry Wilmot.
Lady Subtle! why you know, ma chere, her charms are in the wane, absolutely expiring—We have been old acquaintance, and it would have been cruel in me to have refused her the shadow of an amour, when she is so very near becoming a ghost. I am glad to find she is jealous.
Is she in a bad state of health, Sir Harry?
O, by no means, she is as fat and florid as any woman in England of her age, which I believe is near forty.
Pray where is the danger then, of her becoming a ghost?
Helas, ma chere innocente! don't you meet a thousand ghosts in every public place? Bodies without souls, who have haunted the world so long, that they are worn out of every one's remem|brance, and might glide in and out, without ever being taken notice of, if it were not for the space they occupy. Have you never been jostled by a fat red ghost, in the box lobby of the playhouse, Page 37 or at the puppet-show cascade at Vauxhall? ha! ha! ha!
As they differ in every respect from spirits, I should never have thought of stiling them ghosts, tho', as you have explained it, I own the term is apt enough; yet I fancy that blanks would do still better, as some authors have lately used them, merely to make up bulk, and stuff life's volume.
I vow, madam, your ladyship has an infinity of wit, as well as beauty. But now, prithee, dear lady Frankland, what do you seriously mean to do with them both?
I do not find myself overburthen'd with either of those rare qualities, Sir Harry; but if I should, I must e'en look out for some good-natured person, who will be kind enough to assist me in bearing the load.
Ay, now your ladyship talks reason. Mutual offices are the very bands of society. And among the croud of adorers, who bow before your shrine, have you yet fixed on one whom you think equal to so blest a charge? I may be impertinent—Your ladyship's blushes seem to hint as much.
No, Sir Harry, a heart like mine has nothing to disguise—If I blushed, it was not shame, but pride, that glowed upon my cheek, from the slight notion you seem to have conceived of me, that among the trifling characters which frequent my drawing room, there could be found one capable of attaching my confidence, or regards.
Why, that is vastly severe now, when there are such a number of pretty fellows, who dedicate their services to your ladyship. What pains she takes to shew me she is not engaged?
It would be the height of vanity in me, to set down their visits to my own account, Sir Harry, while I am blest with a companion in my house, whose mind is free, and person disengag'd, and where each charm that can attract in both, unite in my Emilia.
Faith I have always heard your ladyship reck|oned a little romantic, but never believed it till now. Emilia! why we know her price is matri|mony, to become a property for life, egad. And sure no man of spirit would condescend to such terms, unless with a view to lord Frankland's circumstances, madam.
Sir, you grow insolent.
I vow I did not mean it, and ask a thousand pardons—but surely, madam, with that blaze, that glow of youth and beauty which surrounds you, it is impossible you should think of living disengag'd! Were the Hesperian fruit planted in our streets, it would require ten dragons to secure it. Alas! you have not one.
In this imminent danger, what think you of my appointing such an excellent guardian as Sir Harry Wilmot? ha! ha! ha!
You may gibe if you please, madam, but I cer|tainly should be the very thing, if I were not so much engag'd. Lord, what shall I do for means to get free!
Pray do not give yourself the least trouble upon that account, Sir Harry, for tho' I am, as you ob|served, a little romantic, I have not bravery sufficient to turn knight-errant; and I must surpass even the renowned Don Quixote, should I think of encoun|tering the numerous host of rivals which your attachment might enrage.
No, madam, your ladyship is mistaken, there are not a vast number, who at this time lay claim to my devoirs.
O but, Sir Harry, my heart is so very tender, that I should be moved to restore you back to the groans of lady Subtle, or the first stalking shade of those numberless ghosts your cruelty has made, that might come to haunt me for you.
I assure your ladyship you are wrong to make a jest of my behaviour to lady Subtle; there are few men of my rank in life, who have either morals, or politeness, sufficient to pay the least regard to a dying reputation.—Now, madam, it has ever been my principle and practice both, never pub|lickly to abandon a mistress; and when I have been insufferably tired of a lady, I have kept my chamber, and seen no company for three days to|gether, in order to give her the credit of the rup|ture. But you are not to expect such nice morals from the generality of men, I'll assure you, madam.
How you amaze me! is this, Sir Harry, what you stile morals, principles, politeness! to betray, to expose a wretched woman! surely I am in a dream, I cannot think myself awake.
Why truly, madam, I think we are both very near taking a nap; we have wandered from the point strangely; and I ought to beg your lady|ship's pardon, for having made so improper an use of the favour you have indulged me in. Eh donc, ma belle, will you now seriously fix upon the happy man, who is to love and be beloved by you?
You increase my astonishment every syllable you utter.
She must be very ignorant, to be so subject to wonder.
I am young, perhaps not insensible; but neither my youth nor sensibility shall ever betray me into imprudence. If my affections are to be gained, it must be time, assiduity, reflection, the soft ha|bitudes of friendship and esteem, that must obtain them, even without my choice.
I admire you vastly, madam, upon my soul I do—but I have not the honour to be of the antient chivalry; nor had I the least notion of your lady|ship's allowing me the happiness of a tête à tête, merely to assist you in composing a romance. Adieu, donc, ma chere princesse, belle heroine, adieu.
Where will my wonder end! Is this the man of gallantry, the irresistable Sir Harry Wilmot! Surely that woman must first be a dupe to her own pas|sions, who could comply with his. Not such the lovers I have read of, who sighed whole years in silence, nor to the world revealed their bitter an|guish, their consuming pain; the whispering woods alone were conscious of their woe, till echo caught the sound, and bore it on her dying voice to the beloved fair.
This charming woman fills up all my thoughts, my every wish is her's, nay my whole soul! What delicacy of sentiment, what elegance of form and manners! Happy—rather say unhappy lord Frank|land, whose sure possession made him contemn a prize, that kings might become rivals for.
Why so grave, Sir William?
You mistake, Sir Harry, I was only thoughtful.
Why curse me if ever I could distinguish be|tween thought and gravity, in all my life; and as I look upon reflexion to be a mere dull mechanic sort of business, I have resolved never to think, while I live.
A most rational resolution, truly!
But, my dear Sir William, egad I had like to have forgot—you are under the highest obligation to me, this very moment; and I will be thanked, positively I will.
You need but name it, Sir Harry, and rest as|sured of my gratitude.
Why then, Sir Knight, I have atchieved such a feat in your favour, as you will be transported at—cleared the cover'd way, my boy, and left the de|file open to you, and you alone. But not to ar|rogate too much, I must confess that it was pure want of that noble spirit of perseverance, which you are so amply possessed of, that made me quit the assault; for to say the truth, I am tolerable enough at a skirmish, but devilish bad at a siege.
You speak in riddle, Sir Harry, pray explain yourself, that I may thank you as I ought.
Well then, my dear Belville, thus the matter stands—We have both of us, you know, sighed for that Delia, that Cassandra, that queen of all ro|mance, lady Frankland.
Sir Harry, lady Frankland has a husband, and—
Sir William, I know she has, and—they are parted; but suppose they lived together; is it not possible to fall in love with another man's wife? Page 43 answer me that, and from your heart, my grave Sir William Belville.
A passion in that place, must be an hopeless one.
Not at all, I assure you; for if I would but have starved on hope, for a few days, I might have lived on certainty, as long as I lik'd it after. But egad, my constitution is not strong enough to fast through a lent, though I were sure to feast at the carnival.
Sir Harry, I hope still I do not understand you; lady Frankland's character is free from blame.
And always shall be so, for me, I assure you; but to be plain, Sir William, her ladyship did me the honour of an assignation, this morning, for all that.
An assignation, Sir Harry!
Ay, positively, a tête à tête.
Go on, Sir.
Go on, Sir! egad I don't know whether I shall or no. I fancy I have mistaken my man, and instead of talking to my old friend, Will. Belville, have stumbled on some country cousin, who, because he is related to her ladyship, thinks it incumbent on his honour, to vindicate her's. Go on, Sir!
To be short then, her ladyship assumed all the airs of an heroine in romance, talked of constancy, assiduity, friendship, esteem—and modestly gave me to understand, that I must dangle some months, at least, after her, before she could think of re|warding my labour. Ha! ha!
But did she promise to be kind upon these terms, Sir Harry?
Why, not expresly indeed; but sure, Belville, you and I are too well acquainted with the sex, not to know that a constant attendance for a fort|night, a few warm sighs, some drops of heat dis|tilling from the eyes, with a volley of flattery planted against her ears, would have carried this proud princess captive, and made her fink into my arms.
Sir Harry, notwithstanding the lightness of your manners, I have ever believed you to be a man of honour; I must therefore suppose, that you have framed this story, purely to try my opinion and re|gards for lady Frankland; and that on that disco|very, you will freely own the falsehood.
The falsehood, Sir!
Yes Sir—to traduce that lady's honour, is the basest, meanest falsehood. She grant you an assig|nation!
By heaven, she did.
By heaven, 'tis false, and thus I will assert it.
Nay then, have at you, in defence of truth.
In defence of honour.
Bless me! what's the matter!
Sir William, my life is in your hands.
Then take it freely. I hope you are not hurt.
Not much. If you know how to use it, this adventure will be a vast advantage to you. A con|quering lover is a treasure in romance, virtue is her fort, but sentiment her foible. Help me to my chair, 'tis at the park gate, my wound grows painful, and the walks begin to fill. Do not boast of this affair to any one but lady Frankland.
Upon my honour, I shall not, even to her, Sir Harry.
Success attend you, you deserve it.
To deserve is to obtain, Sir Harry; for he who founds his schemes in honour, has already secured Page 46 to himself that self-applause which is more pre|cious than any other gratification can possibly be.
"Virtue is her fort, but sentiment her foible." That must be lady Frankland. 'Tis very odd, now, I have coquetted with half a dozen at once, and have been kind to two or three, and yet never had the honour of a duel being sought for me, tho' I have endeavoured to set the men together by the ears, with all my might. But these sly, slow things, that have either the reality, or appearance of virtue, do fifty times more mischief, than we good natur'd, generous hearted girls are capable of doing. Or perhaps our gallants, like our nation, love fighting for fighting sake, without any hopes of being paid for it.
Oh Emilia! such a dreadful accident!
Bless me! what has happened?
A duel between Sir William Belville, and Sir Harry Wilmot.
How did it end?
I fear 'tis all over, with poor Sir Harry.
But Sir William, dear Clarinda, what of him!
So, my little sly one, you are caught, I sind—
Can one hear of bloodshed, without concern?
But why distinguish between the combatants?
Pshaw, prithee tell me the whole of this story?
Prithee first tell me, whether your emotion arises from sentiment, or passion?
Neither, neither; compassion all.
Well then, all I know of the matter is, that just now as I entered the park, I saw these gen|tlemen both draw their swords, and engage; and before I could get up to the place, Sir William had become master of Sir Harry's sword.
Were they both wounded?
I cannot inform you, I know Sir Harry was.
Surely the provocation must have been great that could tempt them to draw in the park. I thought Sir William had more temper and pru|dence. Do you know the subject of this quarrel?
I know there was a woman in the case, whom I dare pronounce to be lady Frankland.
Impossible! what right have either of them to asperse or vindicate her fame? She neither does, nor can belong to either of them.
That is perhaps, the very reason why they fought about her. A woman in her circumstances, is looked upon as lawful plunder, to which the long|est sword gives a title.
My dear unhappy friend, I am grieved to the heart for her. I was going to visit lord Frankland, just across the park, but I shall first return to her for a few minutes. I intreat, Clarinda, that you will not mention this affair to any mortal.
Not I, you may depend upon it. The secret would burst me.
Pshaw, I hope he is not hurt, with all my heart.
I am fortunate, madam, in meeting you in a place, where you cannot avoid me.
You are much mistaken, Sir, if you think it is not what I would wish to do in every place.
I have no reason to doubt your sincerity, madam, but it was carrying your cruelty too far, to refuse reading my letter—No judge condemns unheard.
I have heard you, Sir, and from your own lips condemn you, nor can any of your artful palliatives ever induce me to change my opinion. I therefore request that you will spare yourself and me the fruitless trouble of attempting it; for be assured, that I will never receive letter or message, nor hold converse or commerce with you more.
For heaven's sake hear me one word, my Emilia!
No, Sir. But to rid you of perhaps your greatest uneasiness, I promise you I never shall repeat the vile calumny you thought proper to insult me with; so that your secret remains safer, even in a woman's breast, than it was in your own. But for the future, I advise you to be more cautious.
So then, all is safe with regard to lord Frank|land I find.—But what an ass am I to think my|self so, while I am in the power of a woman? no, that can never be, till she is in mine.
Well Patrick, have you seen Fontange?
Yes, please your honour, I have seen her all over.
What's all over?
Why by my shoul she is all over impudence, I think.
What do you mean?
Why faith, when I enquir'd for her below, they said she was above; so up I went to the top of the house, to the very garret, to her chambray, as she call'd it, and knocked at the door, out of pure civility, she answer'd, enter, or entry, or something like that; so in I went, and found her sowing on her bodices, without so much as an apron or bed|gown about her shoulders—augh, she has made me sick about the heart.
You are plaguy dainty, truly, to be offended at seeing a woman half naked.
Augh hone, my jewel, if it was one of my own country girls, with a skin as white as a crud, or a new potatoe, it would not have affected my sto|mach that way.
Well, hold your nonsense—did she promise to come to my chambers?
Faith, honey, it is but ask and have with her. I'll be bound she is there already.
And you, blockhead, have got the keys, run home directly, I'll follow you as quick as possible, fly—
Troth let her wait, I'll not fly a step for her.
YOU cannot imagine, my dear Emilia, how much I am shocked at what you have told me. I fear I shall now become a common topic of dis|course. What a triumph for lord Frankland! his character will rise upon the ruin of mine.—Good heaven, what will become of me!
Indeed, my dear lady Frankland, you first de|ceive yourself, and then argue right, upon wrong principles. You must certainly imagine lord Frank|land a monster, before you can suppose it possible for him to rejoice at your dishonour. On the con|trary, I am certain he would be sensible of the highest concern, were he acquainted even with your present distress.
O! do not say so, Emilia, I can bear his resent|ment better than his pity. I fear I have de|served the one, and am certain I have no claim to the other.
You judge too hardly of yourself, my dear; but I have strong hopes that this unlucky affair will never reach his, or any other ears. Sir Harry has nothing to boast of; we may therefore depend on his silence; and I have too good an opinion of Sir William Belville, to suppose him capable of ever Page 53 mentioning it; and I would not have your ladyship seem to know one word of the matter.
Grant it should remain a secret, Emilia; how painful must my situation be! conscious of the highest obligation, which I must not acknowledge, even to the generous hand that has conferr'd it To a mind open and grateful as mine, this must be torture.
Have a care, lady Frankland, of over-rating the obligation. Sir William knows that your situation cannot admit of a return, and if I am not much deceiv'd with regard to his character, his senti|ments are too generous to expect one.
By shewing my want of power to repay it, you but enhance the debt.
Sir William Belville, madam.
Your servant, ladies, I scarce expected the plea|sure of finding you at home this fine day, when all the world is abroad.
That may perhaps be one reason for our staying at home, Sir William. I hate crowds of every kind.
If half the world could entertain themselves or others, as either of you ladies can, there would Page 54 scarce be such a thing as a crowd: select parties and rational conversation, would then become the fashion. But when the mind is vacant of ideas; its activity will seek them from outward objects, which strike upon the senses, yet leave no more impression, than our forms do on a looking glass; while the charms of refined sense, and elegant converse, remain indelible upon the soul.
For my part, Sir William, I relinquish any share in that very fine compliment, for I confess I have great pleasure in seeing a number of well dressed people together, looking as if they were pleased themselves, and wishing to please others; and I should certainly have been in the park an hour ago, if I had not staid in compliment to her lady|ship.
You render me uneasy, Emilia, pray do not suffer your complaisance for me to trespass on your pleasures.
Tho' you modestly refuse it, madam, you have still a part in the eulogium; nor is it for want of ideas in yourself, but to inspire them in others, that you need ever wish to appear in public; and who that sees Emilia, must not be captivated with the pleasing one of sprightly innocence?
Ay, but then, Sir William, it leaves no more impression, than our forms do on a looking glass, you know, so I'll even vanish away.
All forms, however pleasing, are transient, I con|fess; but when animated by a noble mind, they then become such substances as stars are made of.
Then sure my dear Emilia may shine forth the morning's harbinger, for never was there yet a nobler mind join'd to a fairer person.
The comparison had been more just, madam, had you alluded to our nightly planet, which bor|rows its reflected light from the bright sun, as she from you.
Your compliment is so very high, Sir William, that there is no replying to it. We seem to have got beyond the clouds, and had better beware the fate of Icarus.
It were falling indeed, madam, to descend to any terrestrial subject, while I have the happiness of contemplating, and conversing with a seraph.
Upon my word, Sir William, your extravagant politeness distresses me; yet I confess my foible, if it is one, in being pleased at being approved and esteemed by a person of your refined senti|ments. I hope too, that it is a pleasure I may in|dulge with innocence.
Transporting sound! my raptures are too strong for expression. Thus give me leave to thank you.
Oh! Sir William! beware of ecstasies! they are, alas, inconsistent with my hapless lot!
Never, madam, shall I aspire to higher bliss, than what I now enjoy.
Perhaps, Sir William, I have been led too far▪—But still remember, Sir, that I am bound by the strongest ties. They must be preserved inviolate; and if I am really dear to you, you will ever hold them sacred.
Far, far from Belville's heart, be every wish for transient joys, attended by remorse; much sooner would he die, than e'er create a pang in the soft bosom of sair innocence.
Lady Fanshaw, madam.
I vow you are a most unaccountable creature, lady Frankland, I have waited for you this full hour; and what is worse, I am afraid the auction is begun, and the room so stuff'd, that we shall not be able to see the beautiful pagoda, nor get into the circle among the men; but be jamm'd up in some obscure nook among the canaille, who frequent such places, merely to stare at their bet|ters, and poison the air with the fumes of tobacco.
I ask your ladyship many pardons—I utterly forgot to order a card to be sent, to let you know I could not attend you this morning.
Vastly polite, truly—not go with me! after pre|venting my being there two hours ago, and getting a seat close to the auctioneer! I should have had the very best place, ma'am, Mr. Langford and I are very well acquainted.
By your own account, madam, her ladyship has done you a favour, by preventing you from being squeez'd up in a crowd.
You are vastly mistaken, Sir, there is nothing more pleasant, and healthful too; and I am cer|tain half the people of fashion in London would die of fevers, if it were not for the benefit of per|spiration, which they can only receive in such places, as they are too delicate to use exercise suf|ficient to procure it any other way.
This is really, madam, the only rational argu|ment I ever heard urged in favour of a crowd; and I shall henceforth consider myself, or any of my friends in such a situation, as only suffering a painful operation for the benefit of health.
But now, dear lady Frankland, you have not an idea of what you will lose, if you don't come with me directly; there's my lord Mount Fashion, who has travelled thro' Persia, and the Mogul's country, purely to acquire a knowledge in painting and architecture, makes his first public appearance there this morning; and will decide exactly, with regard to the value of the bronzes, and the antiquity of the china.
Such a virtuoso must be equally an honour and advantage to his country, surely!
O but, Sir William, they say he is a mighty pretty fellow too; in short, all the pretty fellows in Town will be there.—Do come, for heaven's sake, lady Frankland! I shall break my heart if I don't Page 58 go, and I can't decently stalk in alone, like one that nobody knows.
Rather than your ladyship should suffer so ex|treme a disappointment, come then, I will accom|pany you.
Away, away then, quickly my dear, my cha|riot is at the door. Your's Sir William.
Sir William, your servant.
Lord Mount Fashion, and all the pretty fellows in town there! sure that could not be the motive for her going.—Yet she absolutely refused, till they were mentioned; nor once desired me to accom|pany her. This is strange! Oh! she is too dear to my fond heart! I cannot bear that other men should gaze upon her charms; for if they do, they'll love. I'll follow at a distance and observe her, she will attract all eyes, and I may pass unnotic'd.
So you think, Emilia, that lady Frankland reads too much!
I do indeed, my lord.
Were her books well chosen, that could hardly be; but I fear her studies serve rather to augment, Page 59 than amend her only foible. But pray, Emilia, who are lady Franlkand's chief intimates? I do not mean the crowds that fill her drawing room, but those who are admitted en famille.
Does your lordship mean men or women?
Both, Emilia; but more particularly the latter; for I would have you and every woman I regard, more nice in the choice of their female, even than their male acquaintance. Believe me much de|pends upon it.
Lady Fanshaw and Clarinda are, I think, the most intimate of our female friends; Sir Harry Wilmot and Sir William Belville are more fre|quently with us, than any other men.
You surprize me, Emilia! Clarinda intimate with lady Frankland! I am sorry for it.
And why, my lord? Clarinda is sprightly, sen|sible, and chearful.
Beware of that spirit, sense, and gaiety, Emilia, which have not virtue for their base! they are dangerous instruments in dangerous hands! I am shock'd at her intimacy with my wife, which she has compassed since our separation; and if I have yet any influence with lady Frankland, or with you, you will both immediately quit all con|nection there. The rest of the persons you have named, I am unacquainted with, except Sir Wil|liam Belville, who bears the character of a man of honour. Clarinda! lady Frankland! those names ought never to be joined.
I am very certain, my lord, that lady Frankland would sacrifice any thing on earth to your desire. I will answer for it that she gives up Clarinda di|rectly. I promise your lordship that I shall.
Do not flatter me, Emilia; could she have sacri|fic'd her only foible to my fond love, we had been blest indeed!
Pardon me, my lord, if I suspect that foible might have been cured, if proper means had been applied.
Do not speak of it, Emilia; my wounds all bleed afresh. There was no way to cure it, nor could we have lived on any terms, but by indulging it to an excess, which must have rendered us both contemptible. I am impatient till you see my wife; alas! all that remains to me of that endearing name, is that fair shadow
Your lordship need not doubt your being obey'd.
I am grieved at thinking what may be the event of this connection. All women who have forfeited their own title to virtue, envy those who possess it; and would wish to sink them to their own base level. I am certain lady Frankland is virtuous, open, and sincere. But alas! what arms are these, to combat the charms of flattery, the attractions of Page 61 pleasure, and the snares of seduction! should she sink under them. I surely am to blame, who have exposed her youth and inexperience to a trial, per|haps too hard. But should she pass this more than ordeal fire, unsullied and unhurt, she will be something more than woman; and adoration, late her claim, will then become her due. I'll hope the best.
What can my master, and that ugly mademoiselle there, be doing in the bed-chamber within, this full half hour together? Sure the devil would not put an ill thing in his head. Faith myself will peep through the key-hole, and try.
Upon a my •ord, conceleur, I do run a de very great dangere for your service. Madame Emilic she be de heiress you know, and that do make a it de hanging matter for pauvre Fontange. Ah! Morblieu, si je sera pendue! What a disgrace to my family! not one of dem would own a me, if I should be hanged.
Courage, mademoiselle, the hazard is not so great as you imagine, then think of the reward. A thousand pounds! Why that will enable you to return to your own country, with eclat, set up an equigage, and outshine half the women in Lan|guedoc. Why a thousand English pounds, Fon|tange, twenty thousand livres Françoises, is the portion of a marchioness there.
But are you very sure your honour mean a de mar|riage, after you carry her off? or else Fontange vil a have noting to say to it. She would no turn procurateur for any ting in de vorld; but in de honorable way, she serve a her friend, sans doute.
O, fear me not, mademoiselle.—You have the best security in the world, over me, my own in|terest.
You must not come a to de house, till it is black dark; you get a ready de parson and de coach; den leave a de rest to me.
My life and fortune both depend on the event.
I wish a your honour de bon success, vid all my heart; but you will not forget pauvre Fontange. I will have a de bond ready for your honour to sign, when you come a to de house.
With all my heart, mademoiselle. Would I had signed and sealed with Emilia!
Tout en bon tems—Adieu, Monsieur, adieu.
Myself was never so bothered what to do, in the course of my whole life. To be sure I would be glad my master was married to madam Emilia, because I believe he loves her. But this stealing her away by night has an ugly look with it.—And to have that wicked mademoiselle get a good thousand pound for helping to ruin the innocent creature; augh, that would vex me to the heart. I'll go directly, and consult with my old friend and gossip, Jimmy Kavanagh, that is in a good place here in town, and may be he would tell me what I would do; for I don't much care to betray my poor master, neither.
I vow, Clarinda, this was vastly kind, now, and really more than I deserve; but I declare, you are the very paragon of good-nature.
Why truly, Sir Harry, I must say, it shews a most dove-like disposition in me, to hazard my re|putation, by visiting a man who has just now endan|gered his life for another lady.
There you are mistaken, Clarinda; curse me, if I either did, or would fight, for any woman in England—except yourself, ma belle fille.
O, your servant, Sir—But what could have been your cause of quarrel, then? For Sir William, I think, never plays.
Why, that same doughty knight-errant, you have named, took it into his wise head, that be|cause a certain fair lady had never allowed him a tête à tête, she never meant to indulge herself, or any body else, with one; and upon my declaring that she had done me that favour, talked in a high, ridiculous, romantic strain of the lady's honour and character; and seemed to hint as if he suspected me of a falsehood. That you'll allow was not to be endured.
O, by no means, Sir Harry. However, I have not quite so much pity for you, as I had, as you were paid, I suppose, before-hand. A tête à tête with lady Frankland, was, I think, an over-pay|ment for the slight scratch you have received. But you certainly did ill to boast: I could not have suspected you of so much dishonour, Sir Harry.
Why now, my dear Clarinda, there's the mis-chief on't. I had nothing to boast of; for this same petite partie ended in a very absurd proposal on her side, for entering into the Platonic system, which I positively refused. Car je n'ai pas le tems. Admired the elegant impracticability of her lady|ship's seraphics, made my bow, and withdrew.
Very absurd and ridiculous, truly! Equally so, on both sides. I never could have supposed, that a man who knows the world, as well as you have a right to do, could have slipp'd such an opportu|nity, so simply. Ha, ha, ha.
Why faith, Clarinda, there is a kind of bashful courage about those modest dames, that is capable of putting the most impudent fellow in the world out of countenance; and tho' I was never in better spirits for an attack, she talked so queerly of friend|ship, esteem, honour, and such stuff, that she left me little to say, and less to do; so I e'en quitted the field, and marched off.
Shame of all cowards, say I; if your double defeat should be known, you will be hooted out of the world both of love and gallantry; and faith, you deserve it.
Point de tout, ma chere fille, no man is wise or brave at all times, and I shall only smile at my late defeat, if I can but triumph here,
Pshaw, let me go; it would be scandalous in me to submit to a beaten general—conquest is the road to conquest, both in love and war; and the illustrious name of our victorious leader, has been a legion added to our troops: English women, as well as men, chuse to list under a brave com|mander.
Vastly severe and piquant, truly! but I shall have my reprisals, some other time.
You'll have better luck than you deserve, then. Farewel, poor recreant knight.
Adieu, ma bizarre!
Love and jealousy are twins, I find, born in the self-same moment. What transports have I felt, what agonies endured, within a few short hours! That angel form which blessed my eyes and ears this morn, e're noon transformed into a mortal object! surrounded by a crowd of coxcombs! By heaven, she freely gave her hand to lord Mount-Fashion, and suffered him to lead her from that vulgar scene of hurry, noise, and nonsense. I'll see if she is returned.
Noa, Sir, I'se wish she were, for servants are all well y'clemmed, and cook says dinner's a-spoil|ing—Madam Emilia's at home tho', if your ho|nour pleases to walk in.
No, friend, 'tis very well.
Soa, Sir, what mun you want now?
I have changed my mind, and will go in to wait for your lady's return.
You'se welcome. I'se swear you'se a person of quality, for they never know their own minds.
After the declaration you made this morning; it surprizes me, madam, to find you in this re|tired situation.
One often says more, Sir William, as well as less, than they think, according to the degree of spirits they happen to be in. I confess myself a rattle, and have vivacity enough to be fond of public places. Yet, I very soon tire of them, and frequently prefer the gaiety of these little objects, which I can create with my pencil, and the enjoy|ment of my own thoughts, to the more glaring shadows which surround me abroad, and no thought at all. 'Tis vastly pleasant to think some|times, Sir William.
They are, indeed, truly unhappy who do not find it so. Guilt alone can make reflection pain|ful.
I must differ with you, Sir William; for I really know many good sort of people, who I am sure Page 68 have nothing to reproach themselves with, yet for want of an early habit, dread sitting alone, as much as if they feared spirits, and would run into any kind of company, rather than endure their own.
Charming, sensible, unaffected girl
Pray do not make me vain, Sir William; per|haps no body may have it so much in their power as you.
That declaration ought to make me proud, ma|dam.—But I have been so charmed with your sen|timents upon retirement, that I almost forgot the occasion of my intruding upon yours. Do you know any thing of lady Frankland? Does she dine at home?
I have not seen her since morning, but I am so well acquainted with her ladyship's regularity and politeness, that I have not the least doubt of her returning to dinner
I have some little business to communicate to her ladyship, and shall take the liberty of waiting on her soon after dinner.
O, here she comes; and as you say you have business, I shall withdraw; but pray don't detain her long, Sir William, for I am vastly hungry.
Will my dear Emilia excuse me this trespass on her patience? But I vow it was not possible for me to get away from lord Mount-Fashion, one moment sooner.
Your's, Madam; I am surprized that his lord|ship could part with you, even now, Madam: I did suppose you had been gone to dine with him at lady Fanshaw's, or some other of his lordship's fond admirers.
I don't understand you, Sir William; I should certainly have dined abroad, if I had happened to have one of my own servants with me, to have sent home to Emilia. I did not expect the fa|vour of your company, Sir, therefore cannot charge myself with any want of politeness toward you.
Want of politenefs, Madam! is that a term to me? whose heart-strings you have strained, and taught to feel more racking agonies, than e'er Damien knew! keep your politeness for your lord Mount-Fashion, Madam; I hoped I had an higher claim.
Are these the sentiments, Sir William, which gave that claim? Where is that nice respect, those soft expressions of friendship and esteem, which pleaded for that claim?
Vanished, Madam! fled in the moment that you gave your hand to that same peregrine lord.
Delusion all! they never yet existed in your breast; self-love alone assumed the form of senti|mental passion, and has imposed on you, but never shall again on me.
Cruel, unkind! vain metaphysical distinction! you know I would sacrifice a thousand lives to please you, detach myself from the whole uni|verse, and give up every thought to you, and you alone! Is this self-love?
True love requires no sacrifice, but the heart; self love must have its triumphs: suspicion is its constant mate, and the least degree of complaisance shewn to another object, appears a robbery to selfish minds. In short, there can be no slavery equal to that a jealous lover would impose.
I, Madam, I render you a slave! you, Madam, whose empire is so absolutely over me!
Sir William, I shall ever acknowledge the high|est obligations to you; you have drawn me from the verge of a precipice, into which my own im|prudence had like to have plunged me—I awake from an illusion, and can dream no more—Be my friend still, this is the only rank that you can ever hold in my regards.
Heavens, Madam! what crime have I com|mitted, that you should wish my death?
Far from it, Sir William; I wish your happi|ness, so far as it may not be inconsistent with my own; and by depriving you of all right to be jealous, I lay you under the happy necessity of ceasing to be so. I begin to dread the violence of your temper, and what we fear, we cannot love.
I begin to know you, Madam, in my turn; the refinement of a platonic passion, but ill agrees with the slightness of your conduct. Sir Harry Wilmot would have been a more suitable lover, and I was certainly wrong to interfere—
Stop there, Sir William; I know already how much I am indebted to you, upon that occasion; and shall therefore retire, to save you the confusion of having reproached me with an obligation, which even this behaviour cannot cancel, nor shall I forget.
Distraction! what have I done! upbraided lady Frankland! she is, she must be irrecoverably lost to me! But by what bond could I have hoped to hold her? Platonics, I am now convinced, are all a jest; and her virtue, and my own honour, both forbid all other ties.
MY dearest Emilia, I have now opened my whole soul to you. My mind is a perfect chaos; yet I feel as if a weight had been taken off my breast, by this most fortunate breach with Sir William. Oh, my Emilia, how near have I been to ruin! I am frighted even at the prospect.
You should contemplate it rather, with that kind of pleasure, with which they view the wreck, who have just escaped the storm, with a proper sense toward providence, and a steady purpose never to run the same risque again.
Humbled as I now am, Emilia, such resolutions are natural, and bare remembrance of the peril I've escaped, must certainly insure my perseverance. But alas, my friend, have I not reason to accuse my fate, for turning those advantages, which are deemed a blessing to my sex, into a curse for me! youth, beauty, innocence, and sensibility, to what have ye reduced me! to become the sport of fop|pery, or victim of jealousy! Is this the world I have been taught to admire? For what illusions have I strayed from real happiness, which I am now convinced is only to be found, in the calm in|dulgence Page 74 of rational affections. In the repose, rather than tumult of the soul.
I rejoice to find that the natural good sense of my amiable friend has been only hoodwinked, but not blinded, and that she can so clearly see her errors now
Yes, wretch that I am! I see them but too late; after I have forfeited the friendship, the confidence, and regards, of the best of men and husbands! thank heaven, though, that I have nothing to re|proach myself with, except imprudence; and yet, Emilia, can I hope that Lord Frankland should take my word for this, or even condescend to listen to my justification? How I detest the writers of romance! Oh, Emilia, 'tis but too easy to swerve from the right path, but difficult indeed to recover it again.
Why difficult? the little deviation you have made, requires no artful clue. There are no bars against you, but those your fears create. Lord Frankland is still the same tender, affectionate husband he has ever been, and gave a proof of it this morning, by requesting you to quit all farther intimacy with Clarinda, whom he seems to think no safe companion for your honour.
Another precipice! an angel's guard has surely hovered over me! O were he to forbid my converse with all the world, with light itself, with every thing but thee, nay, nay, even with thee, Emilia! his will should be obeyed.
My heart exults at finding yours so sensible of duty. O, Lady Frankland, you have indeed Page 75 escaped from many dangers yet unknown. Nor can a wife e'er find a place of safety, but under the protection of that heaven-appointed guard, her husband. Lose not a moment then, but let us fly to your asylum—That generous man, who has ever pitied and bewailed your errors, will open wide his arms to your returning virtue.
Alas, Emilia, a certain native pride, or rather conscious shame, which generous minds alone, are capable of, restrains my steps. I must first endea|vour to be reconciled to myself, before I can even hope for his forgiveness.
Mr Ambrose is come to wait upon your lady|ship.
In a lucky minute, sure! a thought has just occurred—If blest with success, my dear Emilia shall be the first partaker of my joy. For the present, leave me.
How does my Lord, and yours, good Am|brose?
In health, may heaven be praised for it; I have not been so happy as to see your ladyship, for some time past, though I have called here daily, by my lord's command.
I am obliged to his lordship, and to you also, Mr Ambrose.
O madam, would it were within my power to oblige your ladyship, your poor old servant would lay down his life, to shew his duty.
Then, Ambrose, you have it in your power to do me a most essential service.
Your Ladyship has but to command, and I obey. Would to heaven that my lord and you loved your|selves, but as well as I love either of you. I know not which of you was to blame, but I am sure my heart bleeds for you both. How it used to delight me, to see you together. It was a blessed sight! and since your separation, I have seen nothing but affliction in our house.
I take the blame upon myself, good Ambrose, yet I have hopes my fault may be repaired, if you will but implicitly follow my directions.
Doubtless, madam, I shall obey.
You know that my picture remains still in my lord's house.
Ay, madam, and my lord knows it too, full well; he shuts himself up with it whole days, gazes on it, talks to it, then sighs enough to break one's heart to hear him—'Tis all his company and consolation, now—I dare not speak. But—
Your words pierce through my soul! I have not merited this kindness; I thought his heart insensible Page 77 and cold, dead to all tenderness for me; but let his generous foftness quicken mine. Ambrose, you must steal that picture for me, and bring it hither this very instant, unseen by mortal eye.
What, madam! rob my master of his only treasure! Bid me lay down my life, and I'll obey.
Be assured I do not mean to deprive him of it. This evening you shall replace it in my husband's chamber. My sole request is that you will not let him know it has been moved. You can't refuse me, sure!
Your ladyship is goodness itself, and I can't sup|pose you would put an end to my life, by the grief it would give me to afflict, or offend the best of masters—I will then instantly obey your ladyship's commands—But pray, good lady, remember that it must be restored, this very evening.
You may rely upon my promise, indeed, good Ambrose—
I can't tell you how much I am disappointed at the folly of that coxcomb, Sir Harry—I had great hopes that his spirited assurance might have conquered her timid bashfulness; and a breach once Page 78 made in that bastion, the citadel falls of course. I begin to fear she'll conterwork us all, and either keep the fortress in her own hands, or perhaps de|liver it back again to the former governor, in statu quo.
I can't agree with you, Clarinda, though even Sir Harry has failed. For I dare swear no woman ever parted from her husband, with a design of playing the drude with all the rest of the world. I fancy now, that Sir William will carry the town—not by storm indeed, but by starving the be|sieged into terms of capitulation.
I don't understand your ladyship.
Why then, in plainer English, Sir William is grown jealous, and will, if possible, prevent any other man from coming near her. By this means, she will find herself prisoner, and may then probably surrender her person, to obtain her liberty, en parole, at least.
You deal still in tropes, Lady Fanshaw.
Ay, but you understand me, for all that, Clarinda. You know full well that when a woman puts herself into the power of a man, he becomes a tyrant, she a slave, from that moment; and all the difference I can find, between marriage and gallan|try, is, that one is perpetual, the other temporary, only.
I care not by what means her ruin is accom|plished, provided it be accomplished. Her fatal marriage with Lord Frankland, blasted all my Page 79 hopes, and I cannot bear to think that she should taste the heart-felt joy of her own virtue, while I am de|prived of that, as well as of what I resigned it for.
Nay, as to that Clarinda, it is no such mighty matter, that one need wish to rob her of it, for we both know with regard to the world, the appearance will answer, as well as the reality. But if you are bent upon her ruin, blast her reputation, my dear—The story you told me of the duel, pro|perly managed, is sufficient to do that effectually.
That alone shall destroy her fame, should she even preserve her chastity, which you seem to think improbable.
I have half a score visits to make to morrow morning and I shall take care to whisper this ad|venture in every one of them, with the tenderest professions of pity for her misfortune, and a
This will do, my dear Lady Fanshaw; for let women value themselves ever so much upon their in|nocence, the loss of character is next to that of virtue.
O much worse, Clarinda—But I must go and visit that simple Sir Harry, as he is confined; I own I despise him, but to persons of certain ranks in life, one must be civil, you know.
I shall send to know if Lady Frankland be at home. If she is, I'll pay her a visit; perhaps Sir William may be there, and I may possibly discover something to corroborate our story. But that silly chit Emilia never leaves her, so that the woman wants opportunity, were she ever so well inclined—I wish that girl was any how out of the way.
She'll marry Charles Frankland, and be a wretch.
You have told me a most extraordinary story, James; are you sure your countryman's veracity may be depended upon.
Please your honour, I have known him from a child, and never had cause to doubt it—He is simply honest.
Then sure his master is an horrid villain! bid your friend attend me in my study—I must have all the particulars from himself.
That was as nicely done now as if I had a hand in it, myself. High presto, pass and be gone—as the conjurer says. That must be the house, for I saw my lady's ugly Frenchwoman open the door—Aye, aye, I am right.
So Nic.—How do'st do, my lad? Is your Lady at home?
Why aye—I think so.
There, carry that card to her then, from my lady madam Clarinda, and bring me an answer, straight.
Nic. has a rare place of it, surely—Such a fine handsome woman as his mistress, must have a deal of rich gallants come after her—And she is not cruel, I find.
My lady will write an answer, directly, and you mun stay to carry it, for ise get going enough.
You're a lucky rogue, Nic, to get into such a service; to have so beautiful a young lady your mistress—I warrant me you'll be for purchasing into the funds, by and by.
Funds! I believe you'se making fun of me—Why mon, since those cursed sociations for drop|ping of vails, have been in fashion, a poor sarvant can scarce keep himself whole and clean. Funds quotha!
Why really, as you say, since the incroachment upon our perquisites, it is not worth any man of spirit's while to wear a livery, except where there is a little private business going forward—You under|stand me; and in that case, we must be touched handsomely, for hush-money, you know. I'll warrant now, you make above forty pounds a year of your lady.
Not I, as I hope to be saved—She gives me but the bare ten guineas, and I have hardly any re|quisites at all; for my lady don't love play.
Don't she, really?
Here's my lady's answer
Good by to you, friend Nic. Since you're so plaguy dry.
That indeed, I am always—And should be glad to take a pot of beer with you, with all my heart.
Another time may serve, good Mr Sly-boots.
Oh, I am all in a fluster, I tremble from head to foot. If you do not succeed, that madame Clarin|da's serviteur discovery me—He saw me at de door—O, de bonté, monsieur, what vill become of me, if she be not very, very quiet?
Why faith, mademoiselle, I find myself a little disconcerted too, at present, and have a foreboding sufficient to deter another man from the attempt, but I am determined to proceed, in spite of qualms, either of my conscience, or her virtue—This night puts an end to my life, or my misfortunes. I come prepared you see.
O de bonne grace! you terrify me out of my life—Why, monsieur, if you should shoot a yourself, the king he get a your fortune—I never can recover my bond, against your heirs.
You need not be in pain upon that account, mademoiselle, for if I should be taken off this moment, by an apoplexy, I should die my own executor.
Helas! den, I have venture my neck for noting, I have de great mind to go and discover de whole affair this very minute, since I find I am no to be paid.
If you attempt to squeak, I shall silence you. Madame.
Pardonnez moi, monsieur, take away de pistol, and I vill no squeaka—But do, pray sign a de bond, if it be only for de satisfaction to my own conscience, that I did no commit a de sin, for noting.
There, mademoiselle, and may you be intitled to your reward, with all my heart. It is not wit|nessed, therefore not valid.
Je vous rend mille, grace, monsieur—The bell ring, get into that closet; de key is in de inside—Be sure you no stir, till all de house be in de bed.
Doubt not my discretion.
You are repiqued, Clarinda.
Well, that makes us even. I wish Thomas was returned.
From Lady Frankland, ma'm,
To me! what can it mean?
It would almost tempt one to think they had a familiar, who could discover your heart to them.
For that matter, I believe one of them is familiar enough—with the gentlemen, at least; if what Thomas says be true.
Why really, Betty, gentlemen are the most agreeable familiars a lady can have.
Very true, to be sure, my lady; but too much familiarity breeds content, as the proverb says; and I never should have thought of repeating what Thomas told me, the longest day I have to live, if it was not for their hypocrisy in refusing the visits of such a sweet virtuous lady as my mistress, that I have known, as it were, from a child. But some folks have fair faces, and foul hearts, in troth.—
They had better have shut other people's doors against me, than their own; for henceforth, where I enter, they never more shall be received—I'll blast that little prudish minx Emilia, too; I'll say any thing of them both that revenge can instigate.
Upon my verily, ma'm, I cannot bear to see you so instigationed by slights and malice, when if you knew but all, you need not be beholding to inven|tions, in the least, ma'm; for as sure as day, and as I hope to be saved, ma'm, Thomas saw a man Page 86 muffled up in a disguise, let in just n•w, to Lady Frankland's house, by her mademaselle there, who to be sure and sartin is like the rest of her country|women, no better than she should be.
Ha, Clarinda! this is a lucky discovery for you.—I find her grave ladyship has not consined her studies intirely to romance, but has dipt a little into the more practical business of novel too, and seems to be a pretty apt scholar, for her time, truly.
This secret is worth a million—who could he be?
It must certainly be the sly Sir William.
No matter who—She is now in my power, and I will use the advantage—This very instant I will write to Lord Frankland, he may command ad|mittance, though I am denied,
I am sure it would be a burning sin, and shame too, not to detract, and ruinate such vild hypocrite creatures, for a couple of slippery heels, as they are.
I am of opinion, Clarinda, that your information will have but little weight with Lord Frankland, as you may be supposed to have some interest in the discovery.
You are mistaken, madam, he has the quickest sense of honour, and will fly, either to convict or acquit her—Bid Thomas be in the way to carry my Letter.
Well, come my dear, do give vent to your re|fentment—or it may hurt you mightily.
I am uneasy, till I know from Emilia, whether my wife has broke off her intercouse with Clarinda.—Why should I doubt it? she never yet opposed my will, her temper's easy as her air; calm, placid, and serene, as that fair semblance.
Ha! what enchantment's this! that countenance, no longer placid and serene, speaks agonizing woe! the hair dishevelled too! the hands held up in sup|plication! can it be to me! tears streaming from the eyes, the precious drops, perhaps, of penitence and love! amazement all! Who waits?
Ambrose, look there! explain this wonder to my astonished sense, while I have reason left to comprehend you. How came that picture thus?
My dearest lord, upon my bended knees I beg forgiveness; but could you have seen with what an earnest fondness and desire she urged me to this deed, you would yourself have granted her request—How then could I refuse!
Do not torture me! but say, with brevity, and truth, who urged you to this deed?
O! moderate the strong emotions of your mind, and I will tell you all. It was my lady Frankland, your lordship's fond, repentant, faithful wife—But if the crime be past forgiveness, O let your anger fall on me; even drive me from your sight, which of all punishments would be the saddest to me, but forgive my lady.
Rise, Ambrose, rise, and share your master's joy, which thus runs o'er.
May heaven be praised for this most blest event! I shall see my dearest lord and lady happy once more, and then I've lived enough.
With what impatience have I told the minutes, since I deemed it possible Lord Frankland might have seen the picture! Ambrose, perhaps, de|ceived me. He may not look upon it, or if he should, how am I sure that he will turn his eyes on me? But should he even despise my sorrows, and leave me to my fate, I ought not to complain! But 'tis impossible—I know his generous heart will melt at my distress. At least, he sure will pity and forgive!
My bounding heart springs from my breast, to meet her—How beautiful she looks! and Oh! how exquisite those charms, which even the veil of sorrow cannot shade!
Is then the dearest, fairest of her sex, again re|stored to the fond heart and arms, of her adoring husband!
Oh! if not held unworthy of that blessing, her wishes are complete.
Unworthy, said you! you never were, nor could be so; through all the winding maze of gaiety and youth, my eyes have followed still their dar|ling object; nor has my heart one moment ceased to love, to pity, and esteem you. Had the charms of pleasure, or the snares of vice, infatuated your heart, that heart would ne'er have sighed to turn Page 90 again to me. When I was first flattered at re|ceiving the possession of it with that fair hand, I claimed it as an husband's right—I now accept it as a generous gift, and set the higher value on the prize.
Alas, my lord, your tenderness and generosity overpower me—They are indeed much more than I deserve, yet, though blushing for my follies, let me say no crime has rendered me unworthy of your goodness—My heart is free from stain, and hence|forth I may hope thy image there, shall shield it from all future weakness.
Can you suppose I doubt it, while with tran|sports such as those, I clasp it to my own.
My dear Lady Erankland, joy, like mine, is not to be restrained by common forms—Lucy this moment told me she saw Lord Frankland come into your dressing room, and though perhaps, I inter|rupt your happiness, I must indulge my own, by wishing to you both, that true felicity which I well know you both deserve.
The generous friend who has shared the sorrows of my heart, has a right surely to partake its joys; and if my present happiness could admit addition, it must be found in that which my Emilia feels.
I know of nought that could increase my bliss, but seeing you rejoice, Emilia.Page 91
Madam, Sir William Belville is below, and begs to speak with you immediately; he says the cause of his intrusion at so late an hour, will be a sufficient apology for it. There is a servant of Mr Frank|land's, Patrick, madam, who says he has been at Lord Frankland's with a letter for him, but his lordship was not at home.
They were mistaken, Lucy, for this is now my home.
What shall I do, Lady Frankland?
See him, by all means, Emilia. There must be some uncommon cause for such an ill-timed visit.
Desire him to walk in here, Lucy, every mark of politeness, is due to his character.
What business Mr Frankland's servant can have with Sir William, or with me, I can not imagine.
A little time will explain this mystery, Emilia.
I am extremely happy at finding your Lordship here, as I am persuaded this meeting must render Lady Frankland and you so; and as the affair which brings me hither, concerns the honour of Page 92 your lordship's Family. For which reason I meant to have waited on you at your house.
Sir William I am very glad to see you, upon any occasion, but I think I have as little to fear, on the account you mention, as any man, for I happen not to be blest with any female relations, but those ladies who now stand before you.
Then, my Lord, you may indeed boast your having nothing to be alarmed at from feminine connections; for if virtue and innocence were to be|come embodied, and chuse their forms, they would be those of Lady Frankland and Emilia—But your lordship has, I think, a male relation, counsellor Frankland.
Augh, that's my master, now, and faith myself is almost sorry I exposed him before such great company.
What of him, Sir William? I look upon him as a very honest, sensible, and sober young man, rather too grave for one of his age.
Augh hone, how little he knows of him?
I fear then you are deceived, my lord—This honest simple fellow here, his own servant, this morning overheard a scheme laid between him and Fontange, Lady Frankland's woman, for no less than the absolute ruin of this lady.
Heavens! how I tremble!
I am unwilling to think so vilely of human na|ture, in any instance, and much more so of Charles Frankland, in particular, as to suppose this to be true. What proof can you produce, friend, that such a villainy was e'er intended?
Upon my safe conscience, my lord, my own two ears heard them talk about it, in my master's cham|bers; and that ugly jade, that madame Fontange, was to get a good thousand pounds for assisting him in carrying her off.
I cannot be persuaded that Charles is such a villain!
Why, my lord, if he is not in the house this very instant, why then Patrick's a lyar, and never believe him more, Augh-hone! myself is sorry enough for his doing such a bad thing, and it would break my heart to see him go to Tyburn for it, among a parcel of dirty, black-guard highway|men, that would lose their life for five or six guineas, and not among gentlemen, like himself, that would be hanged for killing their friend in a fair quarrel, or running handsomely away with their mistress. But upon my own soul, though, it would be a thousand pities to ruin that sweet creture, for all that.
If Charles be found in the house, Emilia, I fear the rest of the story is then too true. Yet as the crime has not been perpetrated, I would wish to save him both from the shame, as well as the Page 94 punishment he deserves. I will go search, and bring him from his hold.
I request your lordship will allow me, and this honest fellow, to attend you, if it be only to ap|prove our truth.
By no means, Sir William, your honour has been proved sufficiently, in the detection. His servants honesty shall be rewarded.
Great luck to your lordship.
How is it possible, Sir William, to repay this service?
I shall ever consider it as the greatest happiness of my life, that it has been in my power to render you any, madam; and if it might not appear to be presuming too much upon the present incident, I should intreat you to accept all the future services of my life. I rejoice to find your ladyship has led the way into the only path to real happiness.
I have not the least doubt of your generosity, Sir William, and shall ever be ready, with true gra|titude, to own my obligations.
If your ladyship thinks you have any, 'tis in your power to overpay them now, by joining me to request the fair Emilia to accept my hand and heart. Both your ladyship and I have seen the error of imagining they can be separated.
I allow it, Sir William, and as I know no per|son so capable of rendering my Emilia happy, I en|treat—
My dear lady Frankland, I will not make a merit of granting that to your request, which I think Sir William's own deserts have a right to claim.
The generous manner of conferring, would, if possible, double the obligation.
I have secured the poor unhappy wretch to save him from himself.
Then it was true, my lord.
Too true, Sir; I made his vile accomplice, trem|bling and scared, convey me to the place where he lay concealed; but when he saw me stand before him, guilt and confusion flashed into his face—He thought it was an apparition, and stiffened quite with horror. I closed upon him instantly, and seized the pistols which lay by his side. He then fell on his knees, confessed his crime, and begged that I would give him from my hand, that death which he deserved.
I grieve to think, my lord, this happy hour should have been interrupted by such a sad event.
'Tis rather sure an addition to my bliss, that you are saved from misery, Emilia—But to Sir William Belville, your first and greatest thanks are due.
If he is not satisfied with my payments, my lord, he must e'en take out a statute of bankruptcy against me, for I have already surrendered to him every thing I was mistress of.
Then I give him joy, with all my heart.
As for you, honest Patrick, I think the least re|turn I can make you, for saving my life and ho+nour, is to present you with the same sum that Fontange was to have had for destroying both.
Heaven bless and prosper your ladyship, for that. Patrick will carry it into his own country, and that itself would be a help to poor Ireland, for every one has a pluck at it, and would be glad to take all they can get from it, and no body never gives it nothing at all.
One of your servants has just brought this from your lordship's house, he says the man who gave it him, bid him carry it where-ever you were, if he should not meet with your honour at home.
Have I permission?
This fortunate deliverance, with every other suc|cessful event of my future life, may add to my happiness, but cannot increase that love and grati|tude, with which my heart o'erflows to thee its generous protector, and its surest guide.
Please your ladyship, mademoiselle has got out of the window of the room where his lordship left her, thoa I'se have the key safe enough in my poc|ket—Shall I go after, and lug her back?
No, let the wretch escape; the disappointment of her avarice, be the punishment of her crime; but henceforth I intreat my dearest wife will never employ foreigners again, while there are persons in our own country, both in trade and service, suf|ficient to supply our uses.
In this, and every thing else, my pride and plea|sure shall be, to obey my dearest lord.
The Writer unknown.