THE SCHOOL FOR RAKES: A COMEDY.
As it is Performed at the THEATRE-ROYAL IN DRURY-LANE.
Printed for T. BECKET and P. A. DE HONDT, in the Strand. MDCCLXIX.
[Price ONE SHILLING and SIX PENCE.]
TO DAVID GARRICK, Esq
DEDICATIONS are generally meant to to do honour to the Patron, by revealing their private virtues, or recording their public merits. But neither of these subjects occasion|ed the present address; for while the undivided applause of a nation, proclaims the latter, my small plaudit must be lost, in the general voice; and while the friendship and esteem, of so many of the first personages of the age, are, at once, the strongest testimony, and most pleasing re|ward, of the former, my simple concurrence must be deemed superfluous.
To neither of these motives, then, is to be attributed my publicly placing this play, un|der Page ii your patronage; but to a desire of acknow|ledging my gratitude, for the great trouble you have taken with it, and of indulging a much higher vanity, than that of being its author; by declaring to the world, that you are my friend, and that I am,
Your much obliged, and most humble servant, The AUTHOR.
THE hint of this comedy was taken from a much admired performance of Monsieur Beaumarchais, stiled Eugenie, which Mr. Garrick was so kind to put into my hands, some time ago. I was immediately struck with the elegant simplicity of language, and sentiment, which cha|racterizes that work, and which, indeed, should do the same, in all dramatic writings, where neither the persons, or situations of the drama, are elevated above the common degrees of life.
I immediately adopted the plan, and set about adapting it to the English Stage. But, as I proceeded in this work, I found I had great difficulties to encounter; for, though Mons. Beaumarchais had laid the scene of his play, in Eng|land, he had, unluckily, adopted Spanish manners. This circumstance appeared an unsurmountable obslacle to me, and I should have immediately relinquished all hopes from my project, if Mr Garrick had not, in the most friendly manner, lent me his assistance, to overcome this otherwise insuperable difficulty.
How far I have succeeded, in rendering this piece worthy of the English stage, must be left to the candor of the public. I shall only add, that the characters of Frampton, Willis, Loyd, I may add Mrs. Winifred, also, are of English growth. The character of Lord Eustace, too, has receiv'd some additions; and I hope that his compunction, for the crime he had committed, will render him more worthy the favour of a British audience, whose generous natures can|not brook the representation of any vice, upon the stage, except in order to have it punished, or reclaimed. As the situation of Harriet would not admit of any change, I have not attempted to deviate from the gentle, and inte|resting Eugenie, of Monsieur Beaumarchais.
I had written thus far, before I could have been in|formed of the very kind and favourable reception, with Page [unnumbered] which the public have honoured this piece; and I think myself extremely happy, at having this opportunity of assuring them, that I shall ever retain the most grateful sense of their indulgence to me.
I am particularly bound to Mrs. Clive, on this occasion, who undertook the study of a new part, at a time when she had determined to quit the stage, and whose kindness to the author, and attention to the public, made her hazard her health, by performing it—I need not say how well—when her physicians would have confined her to her chamber.
I acknowledge myself also much obliged to the rest of the performers in my play, for having acquitted themselves so much to the advantage of the piece, and the approbation of the public; to whom I have the honour to be,
A much obliged, and Most obedient Servant, The AUTHOR.
PROLOGUE, Written by a FRIEND.
Spoken by Mr. KING.
Your most obedient.
Speedily will be published, (In FOUR VOLUMES Twelves) TWO NOVELS: The first intituled, THE DELICATE DISTRESS; and the other, The GORDIAN KNOT.
By HENRY and FRANCES.
Printed for BECKET and Co. in the Strand.Page [unnumbered]
- Lord Eustace, Mr. CAUTHERLEY.
- Sir William Evans, Mr. HOLLAND.
- Colonel Evans, Mr. PALMER.
- Mr. Frampton, Mr. REDDISH.
- Captain Loyd, Mr. KING.
- Willis, Valet to Lord Eustace, Mr. DODD.
- Robert, Mr. BADDELEY.
- Mrs. Winifred, Mrs. CLIVE.
- Harriet, Mrs. BADDELEY.
- Betty, Servant to Harriet, Mrs. SMITH.
THE SCHOOL FOR RAKES.
WELL, Willis, they are come!
Yes, Sir, but I am quite of opinion, they will soon be gone again, at least out of this house; for as I assisted in carrying in their trunks, and band-boxes, merely to contemplate their countenances, I cou'd perceive the strongest marks of dissatisfaction, in Sir William's face; and when the servants retir'd from the parlour, I overheard him, and his sister Winifred, in high disputation—Both their Welch bloods were up, and a fine splut|ter there was, between them; but, tho' you might Page 2 have heard them into Hyde-Park, they spoke so quick, that I cou'd only pick up an odd word, here and there, as if Sir William did not like this part of the town.
I wish they had staid in the country, with all my heart.
I believe there are more people of that mind, than you, Sir. I fancy my lord wou'd give a good round sum, that they had remained fixed to the freehold, at Langwillan.—Tho', to be sure, Miss Harriet is, by many degrees, the handsomest girl, that ever his lordship was fond of.
You must not, Willis, talk of her, in that stile—She is a young woman, both of character, and family.
So much the better for her, Sir, if she has a good family of her own, for I am pretty sure she never will belong to ours.
I must again desire you, Mr. Willis, not to speak so lightly, of this affair—the real friends of your lord, will not be much inclin'd to mirth, or ridicule, upon this occasion, I can tell you.
As we were both placed here, by my lord, to manage this matter for him, I thought there cou'd be no great harm, to argue, a little, upon it, Mr. Frampton.
I am not, at present, in a humour for con|versation.
O, Sir, another time will do, as well.
I wou'd have you go, immediately, and acquaint lord Eustace with their arrival—Let him also know, that I shall wait upon the ladies, and make his apology, for not being here to receive them.
You have been very obliging to his lord|ship, upon many such occasions, Mr. Frampton; Page 3 but I fancy he never stood more in need of your assistance, and mine, too, than he does, at present.
Tho' in the same cause, I believe our ser|vices will tend to different purposes—I shall not flatter his vices.
Lord, Mr. Frampton, you are grown so prudish, of late!
You are grown too familiar, Mr. Willis.—You'll oblige me, and obey your lord's com|mands, at the same time, by going, directly, with the message I desired you.
I did not mean to offend you, Sir, by observing how useful your friendship has been to my lord.—Has your honour any farther com|mands?
None, but those I gave you.
Here's more to do, with these shabby, ruin'd, hangers-on, of my lord's, than all the family, beside.—I think myself as good a man as he, and if he had not a little too much spirit for me, I wou'd tell him as much.
To what a state, have I reduced myself, when even such a wretch as that, dares to upbraid me! What now remains, of all the scenes of mirth, and revelry, which I have been partaker of, beneath this roof! A ruin'd fortune, a disturb'd mind, and a broken constitution, are the only mementos that are now left me—Yet, I think I have fortitude sufficient, to bear all these—but to be obliged to minister to another man's vices, for a wretched subsistence, is to degrade human nature, below the brutes.—Thank heaven, however, I have escap'd being concern'd in this iniquitous affair; and tho' my friendship for lord Eustace, will not suffer me to desert him, in his present difficulties, I am de|termin'd Page 4 to proceed no farther, than is consistent with my honour, and my peace.—I have con|sented to see the lady, and excuse his absence.—I must wait for Sir William's going out, and then hasten to fulfil my promise.
I tell you, again and again, sister Wini|••••. I am not satisfied.
As to that matter, brother, you know you never are satisfied, with what any person does, 〈◊〉 yourself. I shall, therefore, make myself per|fectly ea•y, on that head.
That's more than I shall be, while I am •n this house, I can tell you—I have very solid objections, to staying here—A young, idle, rakish lord—
What a vulgar objection! I declare, Sir William, if I were not acquainted with your ancestry, I should suspect you to be descended from mechanics. But I hope the family of Ap Evans, is known to be quite as ancient, as—
Adam, at least, sister—But let me now inform you, that lord Eustace is placed in a much higher rank, than any of your boasted an|cestors have ever been; and that I hate obligations, to persons above me; for the only satisfaction I ever felt, in receiving favours, arose from the pro|spect of repaying them.
Pride, absolute pride, brother!
It is an honest one, at least, you must allow, that inclines persons to discharge their debts of honour, as well as of law.
Pray, Sir William, give me leave to ask you, where is the mighty matter, of inter|changing civilities, between persons of a certain rank?—Lord Eustace spent, some months, at your house, in the country.—
Not by my invitation, sister, but yours—You know I was at my estate in Devonshire, the greatest part of the time he spent at Langwillan—I have, therefore, neither right, nor inclination, to accept of his house—Besides, it is extremely inconvenient to me, as I have so much business to transact, in Lincoln's Inn.
You should have written to your broker, then, to provide you apartments, in some of the stoves, on t'other side Temple-Bar, Sir Wil|liam;—but, as to my niece and me, we don't chuse to be suffocated, I must inform you.
Why, this place, as you say, is airy, enough—When I was last in London, about twelve years ago, there was not a house, within a mile of it—but all the fools in the nation, have now crouded up to the capital, and made the head too large for the body; and this very place, where I used to send my horses to graze, begins now, to look something like a street.
Like a street, Sir William!
Let us have done with wrangling, sister; I give it up—this air may be better for my girl—I shall stay here, therefore, for the short time I remain in town, tho' I don't like it—You are content, I hope—But what says my Harriet? Why so grave? I expected to have seen you as blithe, as Page 6 one of the kids, upon our mountains, at your ar|rival in London.
I find myself a little fatigued, Sir.
You were all life and spirit, during our journey—the bad air of this town, can't have affect|ed you, already, child. But tell me how you like this house?
I think it very retired, Sir.
Why, really, Miss Harriet, I don't believe my lord intended following business, or opening shop, when he took it; but, surely, for persons of distinction, it is the very spot one wou'd desire. I am astonished at your want of taste, child—Sir William, I know loves noise.—I think there is nothing else left to wish for, here.
Except the owner of the mansion.
Pray, madam, which is to be my young lady's appartment.
That, upon the right-hand, child—You had better go with her, Harriet, and adjust your Dress.—O Betty, bid 'em look in the coach for my snuff-box; they'll find it on the seat, or in the pockets.
Yes, as I have so far to go to them—Who is there?
Here's the box, madam.
Send David for a Hackney-coach—take this key, and bring me a parcel of papers, which you will find tied up, in my strong box, Robert.
I hope, Sir William, you have your address written upon your cards, and that you have ordered your letters to be directed to Lord Eustace's House. As his Lordship honours me with his friendship, I think it necessary that our Acquain|tance shou'd be informed, of his great politeness.
His lordship honours me with his friendship!—how well the traffic is kept up, in that phrase, between vanity and vanity. I had or|dered my letters to Serle's Coffee-house, but since it is determined that I must stay here, I shall direct them to be sent to me.
I must beg, Sir William, that you will order all the news-papers, and magazines, to be sent here, also. My mental faculties are quite at a stand—I have not had the least political information, these four days.
Here are the papers, Sir.
Are they of this day, Robert?
They are of much older date, sister, and will not, I fancy, afford you much entertain|ment.—Get me my hat and cane: do you know, Robert, where captain Lloyd lodges?
In Craven-street, Sir; they told me at Trevallin.
Direct the Coachman there.
For Heaven's sake, Sir William, what do you loiter for? It will be monstrous late, before you can return—you won't be back, by din|ner.
You seem so very impatient, for my setting out, sister, that I cannot imagine you shou'd Page 8 be very anxious for my coming back, again. I shall go first to captain Lloyd's.
You are, doubtless, at liberty, to go where you please, Sir William—but I hope you will not think of incumbering us with his visits, here.
You amaze me—not receive the uncle of the man, who is to marry my daughter?
That may be sooner said than done, I fancy, Sir William.
You are mistaken—I never yet have fal|sified my promise.
A pretty alliance, truly, for my niece, and your daughter. But let me tell you, Sir, if Harriet had not a shilling, her family and her beauty wou'd intitle her to a much better match, than your colonel; who has nothing but an old tottering castle, a scarlet coat, and a sword, to settle, by way of jointure.
Your absurdity distracts me. What has your family and beauty done for you? And I dare say, you once rated them as high, as you do Har|riet's.
You'll pardon me, brother, I under|stand genealogy better, than so—tho' there is not a very great difference, between my niece's years, and mine, she has one generation more, in her table, than I; which, let me tell you, is of no small con|sequence, to those who know how to set a proper value, upon family.
Family! Nonsense! Let those who have no other merit to support them, build on that; but, know, that I despise it; and to make an end of this ridiculous altercation, for ever, I shall inform you, that eight years ago, when Harriet was but a child, and the colonel was sent young abroad, Page 9 to serve his country, I liked him so well, that I promised his father, if the young fellow return'd, with life, and honour, my daughter shou'd be his.
I have ever disapproved of that me|thod, of affiancing young persons.—Have you no idea, that it is possible, the colonel may dislike your daughter?
I am not very apprehensive, on that ac|count.
Have you no fears, of her refusing him?
None.—Bred up in retirement, and in|nocence, she can have formed no attachment; and her obedience to a fond father, will certainly in|cline her to dispose of, both her hand and heart, where his prudence shall direct.
Sir, the coach is ready.
'Tis later than I thought it was—Why, I shan't be back to dinner—I shall go no-where, but to the captain's; if I don't meet with him, I shall return, directly. Put up these papers, Robert.
Desire Miss Evans to come to me, and pray, good Robert, send out, for the last Gazette, directly. There may be a thousand treaties, on foot, that I am ignorant of.
What, not begun to dress, niece!
My spirits are too much agitated, madam, to think of dress.
For heaven's sake, child, don't talk, in this doleful strain, to me—I can easily conceive that your father's presence may distress you, as he is so totally ignorant of your good fortune—but, with me, it appears ridiculous.
I am, indeed, madam, infinitely distressed, by my father's ignorance of my situation.
What a fuss, is here, about your fa|ther? You know he wou'd never have given his consent, to your marrying lord Eustace, if he had been asked—he hates men of quality; and as my lord is not yet in possession of his fortune, I doubt if he wou'd even have thought it a good match.
I wish he were acquainted with it, be it good, or bad.
I tell you, child, I lost two excellent matches, myself, by waiting for advice, and, by that means, giving time to the parties, to consider of it; so it came to nothing;—but I now tell you, that by my prudence, your good fortune does not admit of a doubt.
Wou'd to heaven it did not!
You are the very counterpart, of your father; never content with any thing—Are you not intitled to supporters, and coronets, upon your coach? And when the Evans's arms are quartered with my lord's, and well emblazoned, there won't be so hand|some an equipage, in London.
Yet the possessor may be wretched, madam!
Wretched, and a countess! I think that scarce possible. But what is it you wou'd have, Page 11 child? Have I not, with the greatest address, imagi|nable, managed matters, with my headstrong brother, and triumphed over his obstinacy? Are you not, at this instant, lodged in your husband's house?
What is his house, while he is absent from it? I hoped to have met him here—my letters must have informed him—
Perhaps, his, and your father, my lord Delville, Harriet, may have claimed his lord|ship's attendance. It is only people of no conse|quence, who are masters of themselves; and, there|fore, pretend to dignify their insignificance, with the title of independence. But persons of quality, my dear, never presume to rebel against the laws of subordination—But this is a political secret, which you are yet ignorant of, child.
He appeared to be perfect master of his own time, when we were first acquainted; nor did his engagements seem to interfere with his inclinations, till after you had commanded me to receive his hand.
'Till after I commanded you! Really, Miss Evans, any person who was to hear you talk, in this manner, might suppose that I had compelled you, to marry lord Eustace; but, perhaps, miss, you had rather have been sacrificed to your father's ridicu|lous attachment to colonel Loyd, and been buried alive, in the old castle of Trevallin.
Notwithstanding all your attention to my happiness, madam, if my lord no longer loves me, I must be miserable.
Can he hinder your being a countess, simpleton? But, prithee, what can have put all these melancholy thoughts, into your head? Did ever any man appear to be more in love, than he?
O no! he was all tenderness; he wept, at our parting; I wept too, yet found a pleasing soft|ness, in that grief he seemed to share.—What a change!
Revolutions are common, in all states, child; and if you understood politics, you would not be so much surprized at them.
Mr. Frampton, madam, desires to see my young lady.
Mr. Frampton! I don't know such a per|son; do you know him, Robert?
I know nothing more of him, madam, than that he lives in this house, and has a fine man to at|tend him. There are a power of people, coming and going, but I can't tell who they be.
He must certainly be a friend, or relation, of your lord's—I think we had better step into the parlour, to receive him, lest your father's return should interrupt us. We will see the gentleman, below, Robert, and wait on him, directly.
I feel myself extremely shocked, at this affair, both for lord Eustace, and the unhappy girl—it is an infamous business, and I am certain it must turn out ill.
The ladies will wait upon you, immediately, Sir▪
Would the interview were over.—If she is but half so amiable, as lord Eustace has described her, I fear I shall acquit myself, but indifferently, of his com|mission.—Beauty, that makes most men knaves, makes me honest; for I hold it the lowest baseness, to be capable of admiring, and betraying, an innocent creature, in the same moment.
I come, madam, from lord Eustace, to your ladyship.—
By acosting my niece, in that man|ner, Sir, I suppose you are one of his lordship's par|ticular friends; but, pray, be more guarded, Sir, and do not call my niece ladyship;—that time is not yet come.
I stand corrected, madam.
How does lord Eustace, Sir? I hope he is well.
Perfectly so, madam, though extremely concerned, at having it not in his power, to receive your ladyship—
—The moment of your arrival;—but his attendance, on his father, who is, at present, ill, in Berkshire, prevented him that happiness.
Aye, I knew it—Did not I tell you so, Miss Harriet?
Pray, Sir, when may we expect to see lord Eustace? I hope his father's illness is not dangerous.
No, madam, I hope not; though old mens lives are, certainly, precarious. I am sure your lord will leave him, the first moment it is possible, as I well know he burns with impatience, to throw himself at your feet.
I hope your mind is easy, now, child.—She may be a countess, sooner than I thought for; and if my lord can get into the ministry, I may be of some consequence to my friends.
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for the trouble you have taken.—I, by no means, wish that lord Eustace should neglect his duty, to lord Del|ville, or distress himself, in any other way, on my account; though I sincerely desire the happiness of seeing him.
His inclinations, madam, I am satisfied, more than keep pace with yours; and you may, with great probability, expect to see his lordship, either to-day, or to-morrow morning.
You alarm me, vastly, Sir; I would not have his lordship catch us, in this deshabille, for any consideration. I beg, child, you will go to your toilet—Bless me, what figures we are!
I shall attend you, madam. You have made me very happy, Sir—but do you think that he will come, to night?
I fear it is not in his power, madam.
Come, when he will, I shall rejoice to see him.
Pray, niece, come away, now. Sir, your humble servant—You don't know but his lordship may be here, in a few minutes.
I never lied, with a worse grace—By heaven, that girl is an angel, and lord Eustace, of course, a devil! What a delicate sensibility, in her countenance! what softness, in her voice! The man, who could first injure, and then forsake, such a wo|man, deserves to be marked as the most infamous, because he must be the most cruel, of his sex—I have some consolation, in thinking, that lord Page 15 Eustace, tho' ten years younger, is ten times a greater—
—What, what, Frampton!—I will lay ten thousand pounds, that is impossible; tho' you did not finish the sentence—Do you think I shou'd lose, Frampton?
I certainly do, my lord, tho' you were to determine the bet, yourself. But this is no time for fooling. I am astonished, at your imprudence—I thought you had determin'd not to come, this night; what can have changed your purpose?
Have you seen Harriet, Frampton, and can you ask that question? My mind, restless, distracted, and impatient, has impelled me, hither—But, tell me, have you seen her?
I have seen lady Eustace.
You startle me; don't talk so loud—are you sure that no one can overhear us?
Not a creature—Sir William is gone abroad; and the ladies are retired, to dress.
What said Harriet, to my absence?
The tears which seemed to have dimned her lovely eyes, reproached you, silently; but not an angry word escaped her lips.
Do not add to my distress, Frampton! By heaven, my heart bleeds, for the unhappy Har|riet! Had I, like you, been born a private man, and not at once bound down, by the vile tramels of family, and dependence, the world should not have bribed me, to forsake her.
The sense, you now seem to have, of your own situation, shou'd have operated, sooner, my Page 16 lord, and prevented your involving an innocent young woman, in certain ruin.
No, Frampton! no! that was beyond my power; I loved her, to distraction—nay, I do love her, still—but let us talk no more, upon this subject; it softens me into weakness; and as I am dependent, on my father, I must obey him—I hope she has not heard, of my intended marriage.
No, no, the devil is too great a gainer, by your schemes, to blast them.
Don't you think it is, rather, too late, in the day, for you to turn methodist, Ned?
It is never too late, my lord, for a man to condemn, and forsake, his follies; and young as you are, I heartily wish this was the time appointed, for your doing so, likewise.
These sentiments have, at least, the grace of novelty, to recommend them, from you, Mr. Frampton.
My sentiments, my lord, are of little con|sequence to you; but the time draws near, when you must justly suffer, in the opinion of one, who ought to be dear to you. Miss Evans cannot be much longer deceived—and when I reflect upon the vile artifices, that were used, to draw her into a feigned marriage, by heaven, I cannot help detesting you, and every one of the infernal agents, who were any way concerned in it.
O Frampton! my heart tells me that I deserve your detestation—Why, why were you not with me, to save me from the sad effects, of my wild, youthful passions!—The wretches, who were near me, but inflam'd them.
The attachments, of mean persons, are always founded in self-interest, my lord, nor was there ever yet a solid friendship form'd in vice.
Don't upbraid me with my miseries, Frampton, but think what a situation is mine. Tho' I feel the errors of my conduct, and wou'd repair them, I am so much involved, in my own toils, that I find it impossible, to break them.—What wou'd I not give, even to postpone this fatal marriage?
Postpone it! aye, for ever!
Cou'd I do that, I might yet be hap|py, Frampton; but matters are gone, too far—every thing was settled, between my father, and lady Anne's guardians, before I came to town, and I am certain he never will be brought to relinquish the great advantage, of her immense fottune.
And can you, my lord, be brought to consider those advantages, as an equivalent, for your peace, and honour?
What wou'd you have me do?
Avow your situation, to lord Delville.
Were it a common folly, I had com|mitted, Frampton, I might hope for his forgiveness; but the infamy, which must deservedly attend my conduct, in this affair, wou'd probably make him cast me from his heart, and fortune, for ever.
You are certainly in very difficult circum|stances, my lord, nor can I discover any means of extricating you, from them.
The only miserable hope, I have now left, is founded on the gentleness of Harriet's na|ture, which may enable me to prevail on her, to re|turn into the country, before she hears of my in|tended marriage.
It is rather shameful, my lord, to erect a sanctuary for our vices, upon the virtues of others.
I acknowledge it, Frampton; but were Harriet remov'd from the probability of hearing of this hateful marriage, my mind wou'd be more at Page 18 ease, and I might then possibly think of some ex|pedient, to break it off.
There is some merit, in that thought, my lord, and now let me know how I can serve you.
You shall hear—That villain Lang|wood, my father's steward, who persuaded me into this sham marriage, and personated the clergyman, on that occasion, is now dying, and writes me word that he is distracted, with the horrors of his consci|ence, and is determined to ask the young lady's for|giveness—a letter from him, to the family, wou'd discover all.
That wou'd, indeed, be fatal; but how can I prevent it?
You must remain in this house, and take care that my servants prevent their receiving any letters, without bringing them first to you. I will order Willis to intercept them.
He is fit for the office; but this is a very odious affair, my lord. However, I have promis'd to assist you, and if I can prevail upon myself, I will go so far, as to prevent Langwood's hastening the catastrophe, which I much fear will be a sad one.
You know not how you torture me! But let me now indulge my fond impatience, and see my lovely Harriet.
You must not think of it; I wou'd advise you to retire, directly.
It is impossible I shou'd obey you! I long, yet dread, to see her, Frampton.
It will require a good deal of courage, my lord, to support the interview; for I really think, that an injured, innocent woman, is a very formi|dable object.—But tho' you may be brave enough, for the encounter, I must prevent it, for the present, as I have but just now apologized for your absence, Page 19 by telling her you were in Berkshire, with your fa|ther; and the inconsistency of your immediate ap|pearance, might justly alarm her.—I wou'd, there|fore, have you withdraw, immediately, lest any of the family shou'd see you.
You have a right to direct me, and at your desire, I will defer my visit, for a little time, but I can have no rest, 'till I behold her.
I don't fancy your meeting will contribute much, to the quiet of your mind.
I do not hope it shou'd—But never yet was that mind so distressed, since it had first the power of thinking.
Peace and guilt seldom cohabit, my lord.
True, Frampton, true—and if young men, like myself, wou'd but calculate the pains and difficulties, which are the natural consequences of vice, and how much they over-balance its transitory joys, they wou'd be shocked at a traffic, where cer|tain loss must be the reward of their industry.
The being sensible of our errors, is the first step to amendment; for no man ever sets seri|ously about getting out of debt, 'till he is thoroughly apprized of the vast sum he owes.—But, come, my lord, let us retire, immediately; I hear some of the family in motion—this way, quickly.
I Feel the force of Frampton's sentiments, and tremble at the thoughts of seeing Harriet; and yet, I cannot deny myself this last indulgence. If my father were acquainted with my distress, perhaps—O no! I must not think of that.—Cursed ambition!—detested pride of family!—that makes us sink the man, to aggrandize the peer.
The ladies will wait on your lordship, im|mediately.
I am glad the aunt comes with her—Her folly and impertinence will help to interrupt, what I most dread, my Harriet's tenderness, and sensibility. She comes—I feel her superiority, and shrink to nothing.
My Harriet's first motion was, surely, natural, why then does she restrain the feelings of her heart? Have I been so unfortunate, as to de|serve this coldness?
I hope, madam
Ceremony, my lord, is quite unne|cessary, among persons of rank and breeding; espe|cially, where they have the honour of being so close|ly allied to your lordship. And I have great reason to believe, that every thing in your house, is like your lordship, perfectly compleat.
You are very polite, madam; and if my Harriet knew what I had suffered—
—I might, then have been more concerned, than I am at present, and that, my lord, is needless.
I hop'd we shou'd have had an end of your sighs, and your tears, when you saw lord Eu|stace—I declare, child, you are a perfect Niobe!—One wou'd imagine that you were the most unhappy creature, in the world.
You alarm me, extremely, madam—Speak, my love, and tell me what affects you?
Your lordship may remember with what great reluctance, I consented to a private marriage.
My Harriet's scruples cost me too many sighs, ever to forget them.
Yet your too powerful persuasions conquer'd them; and while you remain'd in Wales, your pre|sence silenc'd my reflections, nor suffered even a painful thought to intrude into that heart, which was ingross'd by you. What a delirium!
May it last, for ever!
It fled, with you, my lord—Left to myself, the offence I had committed, against an absent father—the clandestine air, which accompanied the awful ceremony—
Pray, niece, cou'd that be avoided?
—The painful necessity of your absence—
Let me, I intreat you, flatter myself, that my presence, now, may be sufficient to remove the anxiety my absence caused—What wou'd I not do, to make my Harriet happy! Command me; task my power.—
I would intreat, but not command, my lord.
Then name the soft request, and think it granted.
Since you permit, I wish you to employ that dear pursuasive art, which you possess, so amply, to reconcile my father to our marriage.
My dearest Harriet—
You, madam, sure will join us, and assist in bringing about an event, which cannot longer be deferr'd, without injury to your honour, and my peace.
I am his lordship's guarantee, that this treaty shall be kept secret, Harriet; and I shall pre|serve my promise, as inviolably, as if the peace of Europe, were concern'd. And to avoid the least infringement of the articlcs, I will prevent Sir Wil|liam's surprizing you, in this state of altercation, and give you notice, of the enemy's approach.
If ever I was dear to you, my lord, this is the time to prove it: remove the veil of mystery, which I blush to wear, and give that love, which is my highest boast, a sanction to the world.
Never was man so embarrass'd.—
Must it be ever kept a secret, then? And must we always live thus separated?
By no means—I can make a pretence to my father, of joining my regiment, and then can I retrace those paths, that brought me first to Lan|gwillan; and the moment I arrive there, Sir Wil|liam shall be made acquainted, with my happiness.
Do you mean to come there, soon, my lord?
I shou'd have been there, in a few days, if you had not come to town.
Why did you not tell me so? the least hint of your design, would have prevented my coming to London.
Does my Harriet think I would delay my own happiness, by deferring an interview, I so ardently desired, even for an hour?
You can persuade me, to any thing. I ac|quiesce, in your determination.—There is but one thing more, disturbs my mind; but that's a trifle.
It cannot be so, in my estimation, if it affects you—Let me know it.
Where there is much sensibility, the heart is easily alarmed—It has appeared extraordinary to me, that your lordship, in any of your letters to me, has never honour'd me, with the title, of your wife.
And can my Harriet blame me, for such a caution, meant to secure her happiness? If my fortunes only, were at stake, I shou'd now boast, what I so much endeavour to conceal, nor fear the consequence of lord Delville's resentment. The miscarriage, or interception, of a letter, sign'd your husband, wou'd precipitate the discovery of our marriage, and ruin me with my father.—
I wou'd not have you suffer, for my sake.
It is only thro' you, that I can suffer—Had my fortune been independent, I shou'd, at once, have asked you of Sir William.—Nay, situ|ated as I am, I can forego all the advantages of wealth, without regret, and, blest with you, only lament its loss, for your dear sake.—You weep, my Harriet! Let me kiss off those tears.
No, let them flow, my lord—Joy has its tears, as well as grief, and these are tears of joy.
My lovely softness!—How severely she distresses me!
I will not trust this simple heart, again, and blush to think it was so easily alarmed.
Softly, softly, here comes my bro|ther—have done with your love-prate—What, always a pouting, Harriet?
Give the coachman half a crown—and, do you hear, Robert, let there be springs put to our coach—every one has them, now—Luxury! luxury! Every alderman and apothecary skims Page 25 over this new-fangled pavement, without so much as a jolt.—One of these city sparks wou'd be shook to death, if he were to ride my Bay Bolton, a fox chace.
My brother is always his own herald, and proclaims himself, by the noise he makes—How detestably vulgar! how unlike a man of fashion!—Here is lord Eustace come to wait upon you, Sir William.
I am glad to see your lordship, you have been a good while absent, from quarters—But you young men of quality, can have leave of ab|sence, when you please, I suppose; and all you have to do, is to appear handsomely on a field day, or at a review. It was not so, in my time—But discipline, of every kind, is relaxed, now-a-days.
I have been a truant, Sir William, but I mean to make up for lost time, and return, im|mediately, to my regiment; and then, look to your partridge.
You shall be welcome to my manor, my lord.—How does my Harriet? I think you look pale. Don't you think her alter'd, my lord?
Rather improv'd, Sir.
She used to be remarkably lively; but as girls grow up, they affect gravity, in order to appear women before their time.—Her brother and she, are all I have left; and when Harriet is married—
Lord, Sir William, are you entering into family-matters!
Well, well, we won't talk of that, now; but since we are upon the subject, I think I ought to congratulate your lordship.
It must be, then, Sir William, upon Page 26 the happiness, I, at present, enjoy, in the company of these ladies.
What does my father mean?
No, no, my lord, I meant to give you joy, of your approaching marriage.—
Surely, my ears deceive me!
You jest, Sir William!
By no means, I assure you—I have it, from undoubted authority.
I tell you, sister, that it is in one of to|day's papers—I know what I read, sure.—
Did it mention how things go, in the Mediterranean? that is an article, which concerns us more—We shall not have a port left us, there, soon.—
I speak only of domestic news, and mind no other—The paragraph, I saw, ran thus—
I never knew any thing come of a We hear, yet.—But I wish you had brought home the paper.
Ha! ha! ha!—And is that your undoubted authority, Sir William? Why, at this season of the year, when occurrences are rare, the news writers couple half the nobility, in England, to fill up their papers—But, as there are no other papers fill'd up, by the parties themselves—your marriages, in print, are not allow'd good, in law.
How can you be so easily, discon|certed, child?
I think it highly insolent in them, my lord, to take these liberties, without authority, as such reports may sometimes happen to be prejudicial, to one party, or the other.
The freedom of the press, Sir William, tho' sometimes injurious to individuals, must never be restrain'd, in this land of liberty. 'Tis the very Magna Charta of freedom.
So it is, my lord.
However, there have been some slight grounds, for the report you mention.
So I should imagine.
Lady Anne's large fortune was rather a desirable object, to my father—he did, therefore, propose my paying my addresses to her; but, upon my declaring, that love should be my first motive, in an engagement of that nature; and that my heart had never given me the least hint of her lady|ship, he had the goodness to sacrifice his project, to my happiness. The affair had been whisper'd, in our family, and even whispers have echoes, Sir William.
Your lordship has taken more pains than was necessary, to explain this matter to us. For, tho' you shou'd not marry lady Anne, it is to be suppos'd that you'll soon marry a lady Betty, or a lady Mary, Somebody.—Such an accomplish'd young nobleman will not be suffer'd to remain long single.—
Lord, Sir William, how can you talk, so oddly? There are many instances, of persons who have lived single, in spite of temptation, and soli|citation, too; and that, to your certain knowledge, I believe.
You'll pardon me, sister; I am really Page 28 not acquainted with any of these coy, these sensitive plants.
You seem inclin'd to be witty, bro|ther, and, therefore, I shall retire.
I should oppose the severity of that resolution, madam, but that an engagement of business, calls me away, at this moment. May I hope for your permission to wait upon you, fre|quently, while you stay in town?
Your lordship's visits must always be consider'd, by us, both as an honour, and an obli|gation.
My sweet Harriet!—Ladies, your ser|vant.—I hope we shall often meet, Sir William.
Your lordship must excuse me.
With what nice delicacy, and honour, has my nephew explain'd away this idle report! But I am amazed, how you could be affected with it, child.
Chide me, as you please, I own I deserve it, for doubting the most amiable of men. Yet when my father hinted the subject, I should have fainted, if the tenderness of my lord's looks, even more than his words, had not convinc'd me of his love and truth. Our fears are proportion'd to our treasure; you cannot, therefore, condemn my ap|prehensions, without lessening his worth.
That I shall never do. Persons, of a certain rank in life, are always worthy.—But come, child, I am in a monstrous dilemma, at present.
What's the matter?
I want your assistance, to calculate the distance, from Persia to America; for I have great Page 29 apprehensions that the Sophy may join the Czarina, sail down the Baltic, together, and strip us of all our settlements.—
Dear madam, how can you trouble yourself, with things so foreign, either to your knowledge, or interests?
I beg your pardon. Why, niece, now that you are married to my satisfaction, I know nothing in the domestic way, worth being concern'd for; and one's affections, you know, child, cannot lie idle—therefore, I beg you will go, immediately, and search for Salmon's Geography, which, I be|lieve, you will find in my trunk, along with Col|lins's Peerage, which are books, I never travel without; and which no person can pretend to keep company, without being thoroughly conversant in.
Prithee, Robert, was that man in the hall, my lord's valet de chambre? Of what use can he be to his master, here?
Of a great deal, I fancy, Sir. There are numbers of people come here, after his lord. A fine lady, just now, wanted to gain admittance, but Mr. Willis had dacity enough to make her disbe|lieve her own senses, and persuaded her that his master was down at Bristol, tho' she said her eyes saw him come into the house. O these Londoners are cunning folk!
You told me of another person, that lives here, a gentleman, I think—
Yes, poor fellow, I believe he may be an honest man, because Willis don't seem much to like Page 30 him.—But 'tis hard to say, which is good, or bad, amongst them.
There is something very myste|rious, in all this—I desire, Robert, that you will have as little communication, as possible, with his lordship's servants, and that you will prevent the rest of my family, from having any, also.
Your honour need not fear.—They are not kindly to any of us.
I am glad of it.—Civility is the most dangerous mask of art.
Your honour makes my heart glad.
Do you know where Harriet is, Ro|bert? I left her here, just now.
I saw her go up stairs, with madam Wini|fred, as we came hither, Sir. I think, with sub|mission, our young lady likes London, as little as either your worship, or myself; she mopes mightily, to be in the country, again.
She shan't mope long, for that, Robert, nor when she is there, neither; for I intend to settle her soon, both to her happiness, and my own, by marrying her to colonel Loyd, immediately. And when the wedding is over, and I am once more sat down safe, at Langwillan, I shall think all my troubles are at an end.—I'll go to Harriet, directly, and talk the matter over with her.
And I'll go, and write the good news, to my friends in Wales.
To barricade the doors, and deny admit|ance to their friends!
These were his lordship's orders, Sir.—Wil|lis, says he, with an arch look, which I understand, pretty tolerably, you must be my Cerberus, and not suffer the devil, himself, to get thro' the key-hole, for a few days. But as soon as I am married, and gone off to the country, your care will be needless.—Yes, says I, to his lordship, I will then make my escape out of the gulph, leave the doors open for all the devils to enter, and pursue your lordship to the Elysian fields.
You are very poetical Mr. Willis.—But I fancy his lordship is rather over cautious, and that you will have no great employment, for your ex|traordinary talents; for I don't think the family have any acquaintance, in London.
More is the pity, for the girl is devilish handsome, It wou'd be a good deed to bring her a little into life.—I shou'd like to have the intro|ducing her.
Stop your licentious tongue!—I have al|ready told you, that this is no common affair.—She is a young lady of unblemished character.
This the old story, Mr. Frampton; I never knew a woman, in my life, who had not an unble|mished character—till she lost it.—This fellow is turn'd puritan; he'll preach, presently—But I hope his canting will not be able to corrupt my lord.—This would be no place for me, then. I fancy he likes the girl, himself.
Believe me, Willis, lord Eustace will find it a very difficult matter, to get clear of this unhappy adventure.—Sir William is a man of sense, and spirit, and the young lady has, besides, a brother, in the army, who is esteemed a brave young man.
As to Don Pedro, the father, I think my lord had better get commodore Loyd, to take a short walk with him, upon the quarter-deck; and, as to the young Spaniard, his lordship can't well refuse to take a bout of tilting with him, if he should insist upon it—But I have been pretty well used to things of this sort, as you know, Mr. Framp|ton, and I never yet knew a wounded reputation cured, by a sword, or pistol—Perhaps they may think as I do, and so let the matter rest in peace.
I shou'd imagine their sentiments to be very different, from yours, upon this occasion.—But, pray, who is this captain Loyd, that you talk of, for Sir William's antagonist?
There I was out, a little—I forgot his be|ing a Welchman, and a particular friend of the Ap Evans's.
But how came he connected with lord Eustace?
They were acquainted, before the captain went to sea, and a jolly buck he was. But he has now lost his ship; and to solicit another, he is as constant, at lord Delville's levee, as an old maid at her parish church.—The simile holds farther too, for his head is cast in so peculiar a mould, that he be|lieves every thing he hears, and repeats it as matter of fact.
What an infinite deal of falshood, must this honest man utter, in the course of a summer's day!
I will save his poor conscience, for this one day, at least, by keeping him out of our fortress.
It will be more necessary for your pur|pose, to prevent telling his truths, at present, I ima|gine.
Your honour knows it is not to be spoken, at all times. He has told a thousand, for my mas|ter, himself.
A fit one, for such an office! It is such wretches, as these, that corrupt us all; that clear the thorny paths of vice, and strew them o'er with roses.—These agents for perdition, can remove mountains that obstruct our passage, till we are sunk in the abyss of guilt, and then their weight falls on us! I would willingly persuade myself, that lord Eus|tace is not so far gone, in baseness, as to conclude his marriage with lady Anne, and desert this amiable unfortunate. Yet can I not, at present, foresee, how it may be possible for him, to avoid it. There is some time, however, to think about it. I'll seek him out, directly, and try how his heart beats, after his interview with Harriet.
I am sorry to find you so cold, upon this subject, Harriet. But I flatter myself when you come to know the colonel, you will have no objec|tions to him. Believe me, my child, he is the only man I know, deserving of an heart like yours, un|tainted with the follies, or vices, of the world, and unsullied with the image, of any other man.
This is too much; I cannot bear it.
Captain Loyd is come to wait upon your honour.
Desire him to walk in.—And do ye hear, Robert?
To be obliged to compound with my duty! Ashamed to look my father in the face! To blush at his confidence, and be humbled by his kindness! To feel the irksomeness of receiving praise, which I am conscious I do not merit! What a state, for an ingenuous mind!
O heavens, that monster here!—But 'tis impossible now to escape.
Good morrow, my good friend. Fair ladies, your servant.
I am extremely glad to see you, captain.
Why, so I thought you wou'd be, baronet, or I should not have been here; and yet it has not been without some difficulty, that we are met. I fancied, just now, that I should have been obliged to tack about, without seeing you.
I don't understand you, captain.
Why, to say truth, Sir William, I don't rightly comprehend it, myself; but one of your lazy hall furniture—the most obstinate puppy! I have seen him, before, tho' I can't now recollect where, took it into his head, to deny me admittance; and if old Robert had not come to the door, and clear'd deck of this fellow, I shou'd have sheer'd off, directly.
What can this mean! Was it your or|ders, sister, that we shou'd be denied?
As our arrival in town, has not yet been annonced, to any one, I did not expect visi|tors, so soon; and, therefore, gave no orders, about the matter—Tho' I wish to keep him, and all his family, out of the house.
There is something very extrordinary, in this proceeding.
Since the wind sits so, I am glad I came aboard you; I shou'd not choose to run foul of a lady's orders, especially any that belong to you.
You seem to have forgot these ladies, captain; this is my sister, and this will, soon, be your niece, I hope.
They are both much altered, since I saw them; for one is grown a young woman, and the other an old one.
You are not grown a brute, for you always was one.
Have a care, captain, you are very near splitting on a rock.
Not at all—Time brings every vessel into port, at last, that does not founder—But, faith, my nephew has had an excellent look out; I could al|most envy him such a station. A fine full sail, truly!—Well, prosperous gales attend their voyage!—But where is Harry? I expected to have seen him, here.
Whom do you speak of, captain?
Why, of your son, the young colonel.—I met him, yesterday, in the Park, not in his regi|mentals, tho'; for he told me he was a little incog, at present, and had even changed his name, for fear, of being known. I think it was Weston, he called himself, as he had quitted quarters, without leave of absence, and at the hazard of losing his commission.
And he deserves it—What can have brought him, here?
I rejoice at the thoughts of seeing him; does he look well, good captain?
Do you know where my nephew lodges, Sir?
I shou'd have as many tongues, as there are swivels on the quarter-deck, to answer such a broadside of questions; but one, at a time, I beseech you.—As to you, madam, I answer no; and to you, fair lady, yes; and as to you, Sir William, I think one need not have doubled the Cape, to be able to find out his errand, hither. A fair woman, and a fair wind, certainly brought him from Ireland.
Rash, inconsiderate, boy!
That may not be quite the case, neither, Sir William. But I shou'd not have mentioned this matter to you, if I had not thought it had been all above-board, between him and you, for Harry was never kept under hatches, I know.—But, never fear, man, keep a stout heart, and I warrant you he shall weather it; he shall not lose his commission.
I fancy, Sir, it may require the in|terest, of a person of rather more consequence, than you, to preserve it. But there are such, who are ready to interest themselves, for any one who belongs to my family; the Ap Evans's are neither unknown, nor unallied, to the nobility.
As to that, madam, I shou'd think the Loyds—
For shame! for shame!—Can you, who are a man, be infected with this folly?
Why 'tis not right, or becoming a man of war, to attack a frigate, to be sure.—But the Loyds, Sir, William—
Pray, brother, let the gentleman value himself upon what he pleases; but 'tis rather un|lucky, that a person of his weight and importance, Page 37 shou'd not be able to inform us where my nephew lodges, as that is the only thing, in which the captain could be, any way, serviceable to us.
Not so fast, Miss Winifred, if you please; there are many people in this town, who are apt to make offer of their services, without either will, or power, to be of the least use to us. Now, if you will tell me, madam, who those people are, that you reckon upon, I shall be better able to judge of your interest with the great.
What do you think of lord Eustace? Did you ever hear of him, captain?
I suppose I may; why he is one of my most intimate friends, madam, and I will speak to him about the business, directly.
Pray now, good captain, spare your|self that trouble, for he is one of my most intimate friends, also. It is he who has been so obliging to lend us this house, while we stay in London.
I do remember this place, now, as well as my own cabbin—But the impertinence of that foot|man, whom I now recollect to be his, put it out of my head.—Yes, my lord, and I have had some jovial parties, here.
What, in this identical house?
Why, aye—This used to be the place of rendezvous—But those days must be all over with him, now that he is going to be married.
Yes—The ceremony is to be performed, immediately; he'll soon be in the bilboes.—But you seem surpriz'd.—'Tis odd enough, truly, that he has not mentioned it to you, Miss Winifred, in particular, who are one of his most intimate friends.—When did you see him, pray?
What! again alarmed, at the same story?
He was here, this morning; and I knew it was so then, tho' my sister chose not to believe it.
Nor do I, now.—But pray, Mr. intel|ligencer extraordinary, to whom is lord Eustace to be married?
Why, really, madam, it is no extraor|dinary intelligence, that he is to marry lady Anne Mounfort, for it is just as public, as the arrival of a king's ship in the Downs, or an Indiaman at Blackwall.—The news-papers tell these things, and every one in London, knows them.
Gracious heaven! Where shall I hide my head?
We have heard this choice account, before, Sir; but tho' I have as implicit a faith, in the veracity of the public prints, as any person can have, I wou'd, however, take my life on't, that this is a falshood.
You are not serious, madam? But if you chuse to deny the fact, I have nothing further to say, about it.
It is very odd, that lord Eustace shou'd disown it to me, and yet, 'tis certain, that he did so.
That may be possible; but I, who am, every day, at his father's, and have seen the liveries, equipage, and jewels, brought home, for the wed|ding, cannot easily be persuaded, that all this rigging shou'd be prepared, before there is a bottom on stocks, for it.
'Tis too true! Undone, unhappy Harriet!
What think you now, sister?
That the captain has dreamed all he has said, or may be, perhaps, infected with a calenture; for I think I have very good reason to know, that lord Eustace is otherways engaged.
Aye, aye, engag'd, to be sure; say, rather, that he has taken another frigate, in tow, to add to his squadron; I know the man, pretty well. I now recollect my having heard, some time ago, that he had some attachment, to a pretty country girl. He was a long time absent, from London.
A country girl, truly!
Some poor simple creature, I suppose, who had youth and beauty, enough, to attract his inclinations, but neither sense, or virtue, sufficient, to preserve herself, or them.
This is, probably, the real truth of the matter.
Though I lament the unhappy victims of their own folly, I cannot say that I am sorry such adventures happen, sometimes, as these examples may, possibly, have their effect, in abating the pre|sumption of young women, who are, often, too apt to fancy themselves much wiser, than their fathers and mothers.
I can no longer sustain the agonies I suffer!
My Harriet! my dear child! what's the matter?
I am, suddenly, taken ill; I hope you'll excuse me, Sir.
Was there ever any thing, so absurd? Let us retire, my dear, and leave these wonder|making gentlemen to compose some other mar|velous anecdotes.
I am extremely alarmed.
Doubtless, Sir William.—I will now go and give chace to the colonel, and if I can hail him, shall pilot him, hither.
I shall be much obliged to you.
But you must not play old square-toes, upon us, baronet. Remember you were once as young, and I'll warrant as frolicksome, too, as any of us. Your servant, your servant, Sir William.
There is something, very singular, in this affair of lord Eustace.—My sister's absurdity, in denying the fact, I can account for, from the peculiar obstinacy of her character. But why should Harriet be affected with it? Her aunt's folly may have operated there, also; perhaps persuaded her, that his lordship's common address of galantry and politeness, was a profess'd declaration of passion for her. But this marriage will soon put an end to such illusion, and restore my child to her sense, and duty, again. I will, therefore, go now, and sooth, not wound her mind, with my surmises.—The soibles of youth, should be rather counteracted, than opposed, lest, in endeavouring to weed them out, we may destroy a kindred virtue.
IT was unlucky I could not meet with lord Eustace. I perceive I am more anxious, about this affair, than he appears to be. Youth and dissipation buoy him up, against those consequences, which I cannot help foreseeing.
Here they are, Sir; and if you knew what pains and address, it cost me, to get them into my hands, you would say, Willis, you deserve to be rewarded.
With a halter.
I was forced to swear to the fellow who brought them, that I was Sir William's own servant; and as the devil wou'd have it, he was a Mon|mouthshire lad, waiter at Serles's Coffee-house, and had come, on purpose, to ask a thousand imperti|nent questions, about Gillian, and John, James, and Mary Lewellins, Ap Griffiths, Ap Owens, and the lord knows who. Then my terrors, about Robert surprizing us; but, luckily, he was out of the way, so I carried the lad to a beer-house, killed one half of his kindred, and married the other, without knowing one of the parties.
What an ingenious rascal!
I hope, Sir, your honour will be so kind, to let my lord know the pains, I have taken, for his service, since you don't chu•e to take any notice of it, yourself.—Industry should be rewarded, Mr. Frampton.—You used to be generous, Sir; but—
How the fellow wounds me!
No, really, Sir—If you don't prevent it.
I hope he may remain there, 'till this un|happy business is over.
To Mrs. Winifred Evans; post-mark Here|ford; 'tis Langwood's hand—this must be the letter of letters.—Am I right, Sir?
Prithee, leave them, and your imperti|nence—You have no right to pry into their secrets.
I ask pardon, Sir; I have been trusted with a great many secrets, before now, and I believe your honour knows I never betrayed them.—And, though I am not a gentleman, Sir, I believe my lord will give me the character of being faithful to him; he never had any cause to repent his confi|dence, in me—Whatever he may—
Leave the room, this moment, lest I should be tempted to forget myself, and chastise your insolence, as it deserves.
I wish I had the letters again, and the devil should have them, before that sneaking puppy. (Aside.)
What a mean light, do I appear in, at this moment, to myself! Involved in an infamous con|fidence, with an insolent footman!—Let me keep clear of the looking-glass, that I may not be shocked at my own features.—And can I persist, in an action, that the least remains of honour or con|science, must revolt against? No, let beggary, rather than infamy, be my portion.—My indiscretions have deserved the first, but let not the baseness of my conduct, ever set a seal to the last.—I will go and deliver them, instantly, to Sir William.
Well, my dear Frampton, have you secur'd the letters?
Yes, my lord, for their rightful owners.
As to the matter of property, Framp|ton, we wo'nt dispute much about that.—Necessity, you know, may, sometimes, render a trespass excusable.
I am not casuist sufficient to answer you, upon that subject; but this I know, that you have already trespassed, against the laws of hospitality, and honour, in your conduct towards Sir William Evans, and his daughter.—And as your friend, and counsellor, both, I would advise you to think seriously, of repairing the injuries you have com|mitted, and not increase your offence, by a farther violation.
'Tis actually a pity you were not bred to the bar, Ned: but I have only a moment to stay, and am all impatience to know, if there be a letter from Langwood, and what he says.
I shall never be able to afford you the least information, upon that subject, my lord.
Surely, I don't understand you.—You said you had secur'd the letters—Have you not read them?
You have a right, and none but you, to ask me such a question.—My weak compliance, with your first proposal, relative to these letters, warrants your thinking, so meanly, of me.—But know, my lord, that though my personal affection for you, join'd to my unhappy circumstances, may have betray'd me to actions, unworthy of myself, I never can forget, that there is a barrier, fixed before the extreme of baseness, which honour will not let me pass.
You'll give me leave to tell you, Mr. Frampton, that where I lead, I think you need not halt.
You'll pardon me, my lord; the con|sciousness, of another man's errors, can never be a justification, for our own—and poor, indeed, must that wretch be, who can be satisfied, with the negative merit, of not being the worst man he knows.
If this discourse were uttered in a con|venticle, it might have its effect; by setting the congregation to sleep.
It is rather meant to rouze, than lull your lordship.
No matter what it is meant for; give me the letters, Mr. Frampton.
Yet, excuse me—By heaven, I could as soon think of arming a madman's hand, against Page 45 my own life, as suffer you to be guilty of a crime, that will, for ever, wound your honour.
I shall not come to you, to heal the wound: your medicines are too rough and coarse, for me.
The soft poison of flattery, might, per|haps, please you better.
Your conscience may, probably, have as much need of palliatives, as mine, Mr. Framp|ton, as I am pretty well convinced, that your course of life, has not been more regular, than my own.
With true contrition, my lord, I confess part of your sarcasm, to be just.—Pleasure was the object of my pursuit, and pleasure I obtained, at the expence, both of health, and fortune—but, yet, my lord, I broke not in upon the peace of others; the laws of hospitality, I never violated; nor did I ever seek to injure, or seduce, the wife, or daughter, of my friend.
I care not what you did; give me the letters.
I have no right to keep, and therefore shall surrender, them, tho' with the utmost re|luctance; but, by our former friendship, I intreat you not to open them.
That you have forfeited.
Since it is not in my power to prevent your committing an error, which you ought, for ever, to repent of, I will not be a witness of it—There are the letters.
You may, perhaps, have cause to repent your present conduct, Mr. Frampton, as much as I do our past attachment.
Rather than hold your friendship, upon such terms, I resign it, for ever.—Farewel, my lord.
I am glad they have quarrelled, I shall have my lord all to myself, now.
I have been to blame—but yet 'twas cruel in him, to distress me, when he knows the difficulties of my situation—he has shocked me, so extremely, I find it impossible to touch the letters.
Then we are all ruined, and I shall never be paid for the carriage.
Yet if Langwood's letter should fall into their hands, I must be undone.
In order to strengthen his lordship's con|science, I'll make my appearance.
I hope Mr. Frampton has given your lord|ship the letters, I took so much pains to get for you—there is one from Langwood, to Mrs. Winifred—
—The devil! he here again! there is no doing any business, with these half gentlemen.
Mr. Frampton!—Leave us. Willis.
So, I have lost my labour.
Ill treated as I have been, my lord, I find it impossible to leave you surrounded by difficulties.
That sentiment should have operated, sooner, Mr. Frampton—recollection is seldom of use, to our friends, tho' it may, sometimes, be ser|viceable, to ourselves.
Take advantage of your own expression, my lord, and recollect yourself—Born and educated as I have been, a gentleman, how have you injur'd, Page 47 both yourself and me, by admitting, and uniting, in the same confidence, your rascal servant?
The exigency of my situation, is a suf|ficient excuse, to myself, and ought to have been so, to the man, who called himself my friend.
Have a care, my lord, of uttering the least doubt, upon that subject; for cou'd I think you once mean enough, to suspect the sincerity of my attachment to you, it must vanish, at that instant.
The proofs of your regard, have been rather painful, of late, Mr. Frampton.
When I see my friend, upon the verge of a precipice, is that a time for compliment? Shall I not rudely rush forward, and drag him from it? Just in that state, you, are at present, and I will strive to save you.—Virtue may languish, in a noble heart, and suffer her rival, vice, to usurp her power; but baseness must not enter, or she flies, for ever—The man, who has forfeited his own esteem, thinks all the world has the same consciousness, and, therefore, is, what he deserves to be, a wretch.
Oh, Frampton! you have lodged a dagger, in my heart.
No, my dear Eustace, I have saved you from one, from your own reproaches, by preventing your being guilty of a meanness, which you cou'd never have forgiven yourself.
Can you forgive me, and be still my friend?
As firmly as I have ever been, my lord.
You are, indeed, my best, my truest friend
We must not judge of the strength of our passions, by the miseries they bring on others, but, Page 48 rather, by the means we use, to save them from distress—But let us, at present, hasten to get rid of the mean business, we are engaged in, and forward the letters we have no right to detain.
Here, take them; do what you will with them: I will be guided by you—Yet this affair, of Langwood's letter—
Will make dreadful confusion, my lord—Let me think, a little—I have it—Suppose we delay the delivery of it, for a few days; something may happen, in that time, that may save the unhappy Harriet the pain of such a discovery.
Tho' I have little hopes, on that ac|count, yet wou'd I not precipitate her wretchedness; it was to save her from it, Frampton, that first in|duced me—
Talk nomore of it, my lord—Mr. Willis—
So, they are friends, again, I see.
Take these letters, and give them to Sir William's servant, to be delivered, immediately.
What, all of them, my lord?
No, this one must be kept back. Look it up, carefully, 'till I call for it.
Come, my dear Frampton, I have a thousand obligations to you, and a thousand things to speak to you, about.
My dear Frampton!—There's a fellow for you, that, without half a crown in his pocket, talks as much stuff, about honour, and such nonsense, as if he were a duke—They have not broke the seal, I find; that's Frampton's fault: if he had not re|turn'd, the instant he did, I wou'd have satisfied my lord's curiosity, and my own—Well, cannot I do so, now? A good servant shou'd prevent his master's Page 49 wishes—My lord, I am sure, would be glad to know the contents; egad, and so should I, too—but how shall I come at 'em?—This cursed seal
I cannot pierce thro' the mystery, in which I am involved. I strive, in vain, to recover my confidence in lord Eustace. These fatal reports unhinge my very soul—Yet nothing can abate my love. One false step has involved me, in a thousand difficulties. I can endure my situation, no longer; and let the consequence be what it may, I will reveal the secret, to my father. But then, my lord's intreaties, and my aunt's commands—why even they must be sacrificed, to filial duty—Wretch, Page 50 that I am, how did I dare to break that first of mo|ral ties!—Heavens! he is here!
I have just received a letter, from your brother, Harriet, which I should have had, ten days ago, had I been at home.
Does he assign a cause, for coming to Lon|don, Sir?
Yes, yes, 'tis as Loyd guessed, an af|fair of galantry, but an honourable business, tho'—I long 'till ye are both married, that I may hear no more of romances. I hope, when Harry has led the way, you will have no objection to follow him.
What shall I say to him?
I wish I knew who my future daughter-in-law is to be. Harry tells me she has a great for|tune; but that, I suppose, is a sweetener—But if she has worth and virtue, sufficient to make him happy, I shal• be content.—But what's the matter, Harriet? I thought your illness was quit gone off—you look as if you had been weeping—My sister, I suppose—
No, Sir; indeed her goodness to me, as well as yours, is graved upon my heart.
She is a very odd woman—She wou'd fain persuade me, that I distressed you, by jesting with captain Loyd, about lord Eustace's mistress—I begin to think that she is in love with him, her|self—Of what consequence are his galantries to her? I dare say he has had a hundred, of the same sort; and that the lady, to whom he is now going to offer his hand, can have but a very small remnant, of his heart.
I have heard him say, Sir, they should ne|ver be divided.
Fine talking, for a libertine, truly!—However, I agree with you, that it is not right, to Page 51 make a jest, of those unfortunate women he may have ruined—And I commend your delicacy, upon this occcasion, as I well know it is the result of the most amiable female virtues, modesty, and com|passion.
What ails my child?
What is the matter? You amaze me, Harriet!
You see, before you, Sir—
Don't distract me! Whom do I see?
I am—lord Eustace—my father!—
Speak; go on—Lord Eustace!—What of him?
I am his wife—
What—lord Eustace's wife!—Then you are a wretch, indeed!
Yet pardon me, Sir!
I cannot pardon you! Harriet, you have undone yourself.
O do not say so, Sir, when it is in your power, to make me happy.
I wou'd it were—but there is very little prospect of happiness, for a virtuous woman, who is connected with a libertine.
I hope, Sir, you have mistaken his character; and when you know him better, I am sure you will be sorry—
It is you, child, that I fear will have cause to be sorry, for having mistaken his character—young women are but bad judges, of their lovers morals.
My aunt, Sir—
Aye, aye, she, I suppose, was privy to the match; he is a lord, and that's enough for her. Page 52 I might have expected such a stroke, from her in|tolerable vanity—But how have I been deceived, in my opinion, both of your duty, and affection to me!
My future conduct, Sir, shall prove them both.
O Harriet! What a disappointment is mine? I hoped to have seen you united to a man of sense, and worth, who wou'd have respected, as well as loved you—Instead of that, you are now joined to one, who, from his too intimate know|ledge of the vicious part of your sex, is likely to despise them all.
I flatter myself, Sir, that the goodness, both of his heart, and understanding, will make him rea|dily renounce any light errors, he may have fallen into.
I wish it, most sincerely—but—
Do not, Sir, injure him, by doubting it.
I fear, my child, you flatter yourself, in vain, with any change in your husband's conduct—that last amour, which captain Loyd spoke of—
How blest am I, to be able to acquit my lord!—Tho' blushing I avow it, it was his mysteri|ous attachment to his wife, that caus'd that vile re|port.—O Sir! let me, again, upon my knees, entreat you to pardon what is past, and give lord Eustace leave to prove the sincerity of his affection, to me, by his respectful tenderness and gratitude, to|ward you.
Rise, rise, my Harriet. Since it is so—I forgive, and bless you.
You have made your daughter happy—how will lord Eustace be transported!
Wou'd I cou'd see occasion, for this joy!
It is almost impossible, Sir!—I am too, too happy.
Why was this marriage huddled in the dark? It shall not be kept secret—Mystery is the fit mask for vice; my daughter needs it not—I am impatient, 'till I see lord Eustace.
It is not long, Sir, since he went from hence.
No matter; leave me, Robert.
If your honour wou'd hear a few words, that I have to say.—
I cannot hear you, now; my thoughts are all engaged.
Aye, Sir, and so does every one, who knows her, except some of the folk in this house.—I wish, indeed I do, that we were fairly out of it.
Well, we shall leave it, soon—but, for the present, Robert—
Your honour little knows what's going for|ward, in it—such quarrelling, such high words! aye, and such fine words, too, as I ne'er heard, before; tho', if I understand them right, they have but a black meaning.
Robert, we'll talk of this, some other time.—I say, again, I am not at leisure, now.—
I can't be easy, 'till I tell you, Sir; as I am sadly afraid there is something a plotting, against your honour, or my young mistress.—I have heard that wicked Willis talking of her, to his fellow servant.—O Sir, that fellow knows all his lord's secrets; he is at the beginning, and ending, of all mischief; and he says, as how Miss Harriet has been only impos'd upon.
How! impos'd upon! what can this mean? lord Eustace dare not think of any thing so base.—I injure both myself and him, by the sus|picion.
All I know of the matter, is, Sir, that the gentleman that lives here (whom I believe to be a very honest man, tho' Willis calls him a poor rogue) and my lord Eustace, had a sad quarrel, and they talked so loud, that I cou'd not help overhearing Mr. Frampton—for I scorn to listen—reproaching my lord, with having behaved, very ill, both to you, and your daughter—but they were friends, after|wards, and went out, together.—But Willis said a great deal more, to James, my lord's footman, to the same sense—and whatever mischief there is a brewing, I am sure he knows all about it.
I cannot comprehend the meaning of all this.—Imposed upon!—I will be satisfied—His scoundrel servant talk of my daughter, and of his marriage with another lady!—I have not patience to wait the meeting with lord Eustace—Is that fellow in the house?—That Willis, Robert?
Yes, Sir, James and he have been taking a hearty glass, I believe; he looks pure and merry.
Bid him come to me, directly.
I am afraid he will be too cunning, for your worship.
Do, as I bid you.
I will, Sir.
The happiness, or misery, of my child, seem now suspended, in an equal balance.—Let my impatience to turn the scale in her favour, ex|cuse me, to myself, for condescending to inquire in|to another's secrets, tho' they so nearly concern me.
Your valet de chambre told me, Sir, that you desired to speak with me.
Our conversation will be but short, Mr. Willis.
I am in a rare humour, to bam this Welsh Baronet.
I say our conversation will be but short, Mr. Willis; but I shou'd wish it to be sincere.
There he has hit the mark.
Truth is, certainly, the foundation of every other virtue, and I hope I may depend upon yours, to answer a few questions, that I shall ask you.
O yes, you may depend upon me.—What the devil is he about! He is certainly going to hear me my catechism.
I shall think myself obliged to you, if you will acquaint me with what you know, in rela|tion to lord Eustace's marriage.
Me, Sir! How is it possible I can tell?—All's out, I suppose—O that cursed Langwood!
No trifling with me, friend; I will be answer'd.
Yes, to be sure, Sir, all servants ought to give civil answers to gentlemen; but really, Sir, I cannot possibly tell you any thing about it.
Since fair means will not prevail upon you, this shall extort the truth.
For heaven's sake, Sir, don't terrify an evi|dence, in this land of liberty——You will either frighten what I do know, out of my head, or make Page 56 me confess any thing, without knowing any thing, at all, of the matter.
No prevarication, Sir—Men, like you, who are bred up in vice and idleness, are to be influenced by nothing, but their fears—There|fore, tell me, I say, again, what you know of this marriage?
Yes, yes, they have had another letter, from Langwood; so I may as well make a merit of giving up ours, since there can be none in keeping it from him.
What are you muttering, villain? Don't urge me farther; I have lost my reason, and will not answer for the consequences.
I will do any thing, Sir, if you will be pleased to drop the point of that ugly piece of cold iron.—What you have heard from Langwood, is most certainly true.—But a good servant, you know, Sir, ought to keep his master's secrets, till his life is in danger.
Langwood!—Master's secrets!—Ex|plain yourself, this moment.
Dear Sir, be patient—What need you have the trouble of hearing it over again, when you know it all, already?
Dare you again insult me, with your trifling?
Why, really, Sir, I can't say it was a right thing of my lord, but none of his servants were in fault, except Langwood; we must do what our masters bid us; and he, poor devil, is sorry enough, as you know, Sir, and may see, Sir.
Langwood, again!—Who is Lang|wood? And what has he to do, with your lord's marriage? And what is this letter?
It is for Mrs. Winifred, Sir; and as to Lang|wood, he was the mock-doctor, the counterfeit parson, that married my lord; I was only the clerk, indeed, Sir; and I hope your honour will be so good to forgive me, and not leave all the sin, and the shame, too, upon my poor conscience.
Why, villain! rascal! what is all this stuff? If your lord be married to my daughter, how dare he think of any other wife?
So, I have made a fine piece of work on't!—I find he did not know it was a sham marriage, till now.—
I asked you, wretch, about your lord's intended marriage?
O lord, Sir, it was very unlucky I did not un|derstand you. I shall be obliged to fly my country; my lord will never let me live in England, after this. I shall lose an excellent place, Sir.
Be gone, thou profligate! Fly from my sight, this moment.
I am an undone scoundrel, that's the truth of it!—But this comes of muddling, in a morning—Had I been sober, I shou'd have been an over-match, for his worship, or any justice of peace, in England. I'll e'en retire, till my master, and this Welch family, have so reconciled matters, between themselves, that a gentleman may be able to live, with some satisfac|tion, amongst them.
What am I now to think! My child is dishonoured! Let me contain my rage, a moment longer, and be yet more fully satisfied, from their own lips.—Robert!
Go, call my sister, and—I cannot name her.
Miss Harriet, Sir.
Aye, bid them come hither.
I never saw my master so disturbed, before.
Of what can they inform me? Do I not know my daughter is undone?
Pray, my lady, go first.
Where are these wretched, these unhap|py women, that have brought shame, and sorrow, on themselves, and infamy on me?
Hey day! What's the matter now? Harriet told me she had just lest you in a heavenly temper; what can have happened, to discompose you, since? but Much Ado about Nothing, is your play, from morning, 'till night.
A broken seal! What can be the contents?
Dear Sir, what is the matter?
Do not talk to me, unhappy girl! Lord Eustace has deceived you—you are not his wife.
All gracious heaven!
Rage and madness! O women, wo|men, what have ye done!
Vastly well, I think.
Do not provoke me.
You are enough to provoke a saint, yourself.—What is all this stuff, this letter, this for|gery, this nonsense! He personate a parson! I Page 59 think I shou'd know a clergyman, in any dress. I am not quite so easily impos'd upon, as you, Sir William.
I will not answer you—But thou, un|dutiful, unhappy girl! what can'st thou say?
I wish you wou'd hear reason, and spare your reproaches, Sir William.
No—give them vent—I only fear to live, not die—Let loose your rage, upon me: I implore it; I will endure it all.
You have deserved it. Your own de|ceit has fallen upon your head; you are betray'd, dishonour'd, and abandon'd, both by your villain husband, and your wretched father.
O Sir! have pity on my anguish and de|spair!
I cannot bear your sight—My being, life itself, is hateful to me.—
Will you forsake me, also?
Forsake you! no, child; this is a per|fect chimera of your father's.
O let us go this moment, implore his good|ness to forgive our fault, and fly, for ever, from this hateful dwelling.
By no means; I don't approve of your quitting your husband's house. I wou'd have you write to him, immediately, and desire him to come to us, this evening.
I write to him! You make me shudder, at the thought.
It must be done, child—I insist upon it—This is some trick, meant to impose upon us.
I feel the imposition, here—Lord Eustace has betrayed us.
I tell you, Harriet, it is impossible—he is at least the ninth peer of his family, in a direct line.
Tho' honours may be—honour is not hereditary, madam.
No matter; write to him, I say: you are, and must be lady Eustace, at any rate, I tell you.
And can you think me vile enough, after such perfidy, to receive his hand? Can I vow to honour the man, whom I no longer esteem? Shall I go to the altar with him, and swear to be faithful, to a perjur'd wretch? again repeat my vows of everlasting love, for him who has abandoned, and undone me? No; I would sooner die, a thousand, thousand deaths.
You are just as obstinate, as your fa|ther—Now you have taken this into your head, no|thing can get it out again.
Do you think my father could be so inhu|man, without just grounds, to stab me to the heart? It is, it is too true!
I will not believe a word of it.—I never was mistaken, in my life; my brother is ever in the wrong.—I desire, Harriet, you will write to lord Eustace, directly.
Indeed, I will not.
Then, positively, I will—I am deter|min'd to know the truth, from him. I own I be|gin to be a little doubtful, about this matter, myself. This letter may be forg'd—but those eternal reports confound me—'Tis impossible he should dare to de|ceive me—but if he has, he shall find that the Ap Evans's are not to be injured, with impunity.
MY father in London! you surprize me, captain—What can have brought him here?
Nay, as to the matter of surprize, my young hero, your father was quite as much astonish'd, at hearing of your being in the same port, as you can be; and as to your aunt Winifred, she started, with as much amazement, as the sailors that spied the first Patagonian. Your sister, indeed, seem'd more pleas'd, than any of them, at the news, and inquir'd whether I had met you in healthy condition, and if I knew your moorings.
My gentle Harriet!—I am impatient to see her.
Hoist sail, and away, then; I'll be your convoy, tho' I should like better to drop anchor, and take in refreshment, for an hour or so, at the Admiralty Coffee-house, where I have appointed captain Blast, of the Boreas, and some other jolly lads, to meet me.
I am much obliged to you, captain, but will, by no means, suffer you to break your engagement.—I have a little business to dispatch, before I can see my father, and shall easily find out the house, without troubling you.
Why, that you may readily do, as it is in|clos'd by a very high wall, and has a large hand|some gate-way, with a bell at the door.—Aye, Page 62 aye, that bell was not plac'd there, to call the crew to prayers, but to prevent the neighbours from know|ing who comes in and out, as they might do, if there was a rapper only.
I can't see why that caution should be neces|sary.
It is of no great use, at present—But time has been—Harkee me, Harry, there is a devilish storm brewing over your head; you may look for dirty weather, I can tell you—Your father is in a confounded passion, at your having quitted the regiment, and is strongly persuaded that you'll spring a leak, my boy.
I wrote to my father, some time ago, to acquaint him with my motives; I have also written to my colonel, to account for my conduct.
Never fear, I'll take care of you, as I am sure you did not desert, from cowardice—But it was a silly trick, Harry.—Some girl, I suppose, is in the wind; they make fools of the wisest of us.—I remember, when I was station'd at Gibraltar, a Donna Isabella—
Wou'd you were there, now: I know not how to get rid of this tiresome man.
A Spaniard, you may guess, by the name, had a devilish mind to come off with me, as she said, to see foreign parts—But I weigh'd anchor, slily, one moon-light night, and left the poor signiora on shore—But all men have not the gift of discretion: tho' I was a younker, then, Harry, not much turn'd of thirty, I'll assure you—
I think it was rather cruel in you, to forsake the lady, captain.
Why, I did hear, afterwards, that there was a ballad made about it, intitled The Cruel Cap|tain's Garland, and set to a very woeful tune—I Page 63 laugh at these things, Harry; but I find you are a truer lover, and have come here, in spite of wind and tide, in pursuit of your mistress—You can't expect, however, that Sir William will be highly delighted, if you shou'd happen to make a losing voyage of it.
I hope, Sir, it will be the most prosperous one of my life, and I shall be able to give my father a satisfactory account, of my conduct.
Why, if your mistress be well freighted, a sixty thousand pounder, or so, he will have no objection, I suppose.—But come, my boy, tell me a little about it: is she maid, or widow, Harry? I like to hear love-stories, mightily.
She is a maiden, young, and beautiful, and of a rank and fortune, beyond my expectation, captain. We have lov'd one another, long; her guardians are upon the point of disposing of her, to another; she has desir'd me to free her from their tyranny, and accept of her hand, as my reward—Glorious recom|pence!—
Why, Harry! this is running before the wind, with a vengeance—Not so fast, not so fast, my boy, you go at the rate of twelve knots, an hour—This story sounds a little romantic, tho', and puts me in mind of the lady, that the flying man comes to save from the monster.—But 'tis odd enough, that I shou'd not know this lady; prithee, Harry, what's her name?
You must excuse my not answering that question, captain, as you might possibly become my rival.
Why, to be sure, if she had applied to me, she shou'd have been far enough from her guardians, by this, we'd have run gunnel to, all the way, my Page 64 boy, and left them, and you on the dry land, Harry.
I shall tell her of your intended galantry, captain; and I hope you and she will be better acquainted—for the present, I must wish you a good evening.
Nay, if you have a mind to sheer off, colonel, I wish you a fair gale.—I never grapple with any thing, but a pretty lass, or an enemy; and so, your servant, your servant, colonel.
My meeting with this blundering sailor, was unlucky, as my father may, perhaps, be displeas'd at my not waiting on him, the moment I knew of his being in London.—But I cannot break my en|gagement, with lady Anne—every thing must give way, to that charming woman—I will fly to her, directly, and, if possible, find time to pay my duty to my father, before I sleep.
He will come, then; you have staid a great while, Robert.
My lord was not at home, madam; and as you desir'd I shou'd bring an answer, I was oblig'd to wait his coming—Every thing seems in confusion, in the family; his lordship, it seems, is to be mar|ried, in a few days; they are all packing up, and the servants scarce knew where to find pen, ink, and paper.
This startles me—'Tis but too plain I have been deceived.
I shall obey you, madam.—I am sure all is not right.
I must, if possible, prevent Sir Wil|liam's knowing of this interview—But here he comes—
—I hope you have vented all your rage, brother, and that one may talk, a little calmly, to you, now?
O yes! I have great reason to be calm.
I can tell you that a little more of your outrageous fury, wou'd have kill'd your daughter; nor do I know what fatal effect it might have had, upon my own constitution.
That is not very easily shock'd, I believe.
That is more than you know, at least, brother; but a person so intirely given up to their passions, never once reflects upon consequences.
I wish you had reflected upon conse|quences; but those who have err'd themselves, are ever ready to reflect on others.
A truce with reflections, on all sides; and in case that there shou'd be any truth, in this infamous story, let us set about forming some scheme, for redressing the affront, that he has dar'd offer to our family.
I shall not stand in need of your assist|ance. I am determin'd how to act.
Pray, Sir William, do not be head|strong, but, for once, be advised by me.—I have thought of a scheme, and I am sure it will answer.
What is it?
It is happy for my family, that I have a little sense, brother, tho' I do not boast of it.
Your wisdom in this matter, has been conspicuous; but what new proofs of it, are we to expect, at present?
Suppose we were to send for lord Eustace, and try what effect Harriet's tears, and my reproaches, wou'd have upon him—He has always had the greatest deference, for my opinion.
Your opinion!—Is this your boasted scheme?—He will not come; base as he is, it is im|possible he cou'd endure her sight.
Your affected sagacity is enough to set one mad—You are mistaken, as you always are.
I know it cannot be; the consciousness of his vile treachery, will keep him far from hence.—He dare not see her.
I cannot bear this contradiction.
And shall my daughter sue to him, for justice? implore him to receive the hand he has rejected, and the heart he has betray'd? Shall she be sacrific'd, to make his peace? I tell you, no—I will have other vengeance.
I see these horrid punctilios will ruin all—If we can make up this matter quietly, what does it signify, whether he be a man of honor, or no?
I never •ust forget, that I am one.
I wish you wou'd have a little pa|tience, and hear me out—If this should fail, I have another project, in my head, which I am certain must succeed—My imagination has not been idle, and I think it full as active, as your own.
I believe it may be rather more so—But I have no leisure, for imaginary matters, now.
Pray, Sir William, don't be so posi|tive—you know lord Eustace has a place, at court.
I wou'd, at least, let the king know what a servant he has about him; and as I may reasonably suppose that his majesty may have heard of our ancestors, tho' he knows nothing of you, Sir William, I wou'd advise you to throw yourself, at his feet—He is himself a father.
Blest may he long be, in that honour'd title! tho' I am render'd wretched, by the name—But what can he do, for me?
Disgrace, and displace the man, who has wrong'd you, altho' he be a lord.
What is his title? has he not debas'd it—But know, there is no difference of rank, before the throne—degrees of elevation, are only seen by those, who look above them: kings must look down, and therefore see all equal; and in our mo|narch's sight, the rights, even of the meanest sub|ject, are precious as his own—But yet he cannot heal my wrongs.
Tho' I can never believe that a knight baronet is upon a par, with a lord, Sir William.
Absurd distinctions! I will hear no more—The man who has the means of justice, in his own hands, and seeks for it elsewhere, deserves to be the sport of chance, and dupe of his own weakness—Then let him come, this night—I'll meet him as I ought.
You are exactly in the same case, of the Dissidents, at Warsaw; nothing, but force of arms, will content you; and like them, too, you may be Page 68 undone, by it—Suppose you were to meet lord Eustace, and he shou'd kill you.
I shall not, then, out-live my honor.
This self-will'd man distresses me, ex|tremely—he is, for ever, disconcerting my schemes—There never was such a race of ideots, as the fa|mily of the Ap Evans's, myself excepted—there is not a head, in this house, but my own—To be sure I have been a little over-reach'd, in this affair of the wedding; but the greatest politicians are liable to mistakes—I hope to repair all, yet, and make my niece a woman of quality, one way, or another.
Madam, I have just now heard the private door of the garden, unlock, and ran to tell you.
You are here in safety, Sir, and may put up your sword; this house is mine, notwith|standing the mysterious manner of my entrance—I hope you are not wounded?
Thanks to your courage, and generosity, Sir, I have escaped unhurt. I thought our police was better conducted, than to suffer our lives to be en|dangered, by footpads.
These accidents are less frequent, in this country, than they used to be; but no code of laws was ever yet framed, that cou'd make all men ho|nest.—I am extremely happy, at having come so op|portunely, to your assistance.
I shall ever be grateful, for the obligation, Sir; but may I not know to whom I am obliged?
Do not mention the matter as a favour, I intreat you—You wou'd, doubtless, have done the same for me; and had I happen'd to have come first, I shou'd have stood in need of your assistance—I am call'd lord Eustace.
I shall remain indebted to your lordship, and wish you a good night.—What a rencontre!
I could wish you not to leave me, Sir; 'tis late, and therefore unsafe for either of us, to re|turn alone—The fellows who attacked you, may lye in wait for you—I shall not stay here a quarter of an hour; and as I wish to be better acquainted with you, I shou'd be glad to know your ad|dress.
I am extremely obliged to your lordship. I am call'd colonel Weston; you'll hear of me, at the hotel in Pall-mall.
Let me entreat you not to leave me—I am, at present, in a very difficult, and disagreeable situation.
Your lordship has a right to command me; but I hope you will not stay longer than the time you have mention'd, as I have some business to transact, this night.
If that be the case, I will not trespass upon you; perhaps, there may be something simi|lar, in our circumstances; for your business, at this hour, must, in all probability, be with a lady, and you may reasonably suppose, by my being alone, and on foot, that I am come to meet one, here.
Let me entreat your lordship not to lose such precious minutes, but fly to the expecting fair one.—This is an odd discovery.
The matter is not as you imagine, Sir.
There is, perhaps, a jealous husband, or an old cross father, my lord—
Neither, colonel. But matches, made for interest, only, too often break the most delight|ful ties, the union of fond hearts—The lady, who lives here, is the most amiable of her sex, and I adore her; yet, am on the point of marrying one, whom I can never love.
This is a sad affair, indeed, my lord.—I cou'd save you a great deal of trouble, if I were at liberty to tell you lady Anne's intentions.
I fear the unhappy girl has heard of my intended marriage, as she has written to me to come here, this night—I never was so embarras'd, or dis|tress'd.
Some girl you keep, I presume, my lord.
By no means; she is a woman of family and character—I am almost distracted about her—I will now step and see if the coast be clear, as there are some of the family, that I shou'd not chuse to en|counter, at this late hour, and return to you, Sir, instantly—You see what confidence you have al|ready inspired me with.
A confidence, indeed! but of what use can it be to me, who am bound in honor, not to betray it?
All is quiet; I must therefore, take the opportunity of conveying you safe out, again; and I hope to have the pleasure of being better known to you.
Your lordship's inclination does me honor.
Your obstinacy is enough to distract me—I say you shall see him.
Support me, gracious Heav'n!
My dearest Harriet, your billet has alarm'd me, more than I can express—I have made the utmost dispatch that was possible, to fly to you; and the moments that have passed, since I received your commands, have been the most painful of my life.
Your lordship need not enter into a defence of your punctuality.
Why is my Harriet's brow overcast? and her eyes quenched in tears? Why is she silent?
Ask your own heart!
Is it possible that the idle report of my marriage, can have distress'd her, thus?
Do not exhaust your spirits, my dear Harriet; give me leave to talk to him
If you will but recollect, what has pass'd between your niece and me, madam, you must be fully convinced it can be nothing more.
And yet, my lord, you seem, con|fused.
Why really, madam, the doubts you seem to entertain of my veracity, are a little dis|tressing—But let me hope my Harriet will believe me, while I swear—
Away, my lord! I can believe no more—Cou'd I have thought that either my wrongs, or my resentment, were capable of increase!
Really, madam, I do not clearly un|derstand the meaning of this conversation—and I must say, I think it rather severe, to be condemn'd, unheard.
I can contain my rage, no longer; read that.
Langwood's letter! All is discover'd, then!
I perceive that even a man of qua|lity, may be disconcerted—Your lordship did not use to be at a loss, for an answer.
Have patience, madam; I confess that appearances are against me.
Aye, and realities, too, my lord.
I do not mean to justify myself—No, I plead guilty. The fear of losing you, my Har|riet, whom I lov'd more than life, and the appre|hension of disobliging my father, tempted me to Page 73 make you mine, in an illegal manner—But here I swear, I will repair the injury.
I think it will do; matters are in a right train, now, if I can but prevent Sir William from interrupting them.
You are offended, Harriet, and have cause—but let not your resentment turn against your|self.
Cou'd I forgive myself, my lord, I then might pardon you; but while I think my punishment severe, I own I have deserved it.
You judge yourself, too hardly—Has either your virtue, or your delicacy, suffered, by my crime? Nay, even your reputation is still free from stain; and if you will now condescend to accept my hand, my future life shall be devoted to your hap|piness.
And can you think I'll be again deceived?
By heaven, you shall not!—
Nay, I will not—Your poor evasions have no weight with me—Leave me, for ever leave me—I will not be united to you, by any ties.
Yet hear me, Harriet.
Wou'd I had never heard you—But tho' I were to listen to you, now, you cannot shake my purpose. No—I can die!—
No, live, my Harriet! Live, to make me happy—
Where is he? I must, and will, see him.
Ah! Sir William! This is unlucky! I am not prepar'd, for this encounter
What! is it possible that you shou'd dare to enter underneath this roof?
What shou'd I fear, Sir William?
Your own base heart, and my much in|jur'd honour; which calls upon you, now, for justice.
So then, I find the pride of injur'd vir|tue, was assumed—Your daughter would secure me, by compulsion—But I despise assassins!
Do not, my lord, insult my patience, farther; I did not know you were without a sword: on that account, I put up mine; but know, young man, I shall not rest, till it has done me justice.
Sir William, tho' I cannot pretend to justify the injuries I have done your daughter, I neither must, nor will be compell'd, to make the reparation; I shou'd, indeed, be unworthy to be|come her husband, if fear cou'd make me so.
At the first hour you saw her, Sir, I shou'd have deemed you so—'Tis not your birth, young man, can varnish over vices, such as yours—Your rank renders them the more obnoxious.
I readily allow myself to blame, Sir William.
You cannot then be base enough, to re|fuse the sole atonement, which is now within your power—
I will confess I felt my heart fubdued, by Harriet's grief, and tenderness—they had more power, than armies—She might have triumphed over me, but—
You surely do not think I mean to give my daughter to you! What! to reward your vices, with a heart like hers—to have my child become, a second time, a sacrisice to that vain idol, Title!—No, Sir, it is another kind of reparation, I demand; and I will have it.
A brave man, Sir William, never thinks meanly, of another's courage; and as I know you to Page 75 be so, I hope you will not think me otherwise, if I decline your offer.
On what pretence, my lord? Have you not wrong'd me?
For that reason, only, I cannot, dare not, draw my sword against you.
These are new rules of honour, form'd on the principles of fear, my lord.
Fear, Sir William!
Yes, my lord, I say it; none but a coward, ever will decline to meet the man he has in|jured; and shou'd you still persist in your refusal, I will proclaim you one.
This is too much—But consider, Sir, you are—my Harriet's father.
That consideration wou'd brace a nerve|less arm—But, look upon me, Sir; I am not bent be|neath the weight of years—my mind and body both, are firm as yours; and the first shock that ever reach'd my heart, except her mother's loss, is the disgrace you have brought upon my child—The stain must be effac'd, my lord.
I know not how to act; shou'd I de|clare my intention to marry Harriet, he wou'd de|spise me; and if I fight him, that renders it impos|sible.
Come, come, my lord, this is no time for musing—You must determine, instantly, to give me the satisfaction I require, or see your title posted up, with the honourable addition, of coward, to it.
Nay, then, Sir William, tho' with re|luctance, I must accept your offer—Name your time, Sir.
At eight, to-morrow morning—
I'll call upon you, Sir, and bring a friend—But let me once more add, that you are the Page 76 only man, on earth, that I shou'd fear to meet, upon such terms▪
I am glad my son is ignorant, of this af|fair—Had he been here, he must have fought lord Eustace—He has, I hope, a long, and happy life, before him; mine, tho' not quite worn out, is of less value; and if I lose it, in defence of my child's honour, 'tis well disposed of.
So she was, or might have been, very well dispos'd of, but for your intemperance—You have managed your matters, very cleverly, to be sure—You have driven lord Eustace away, and the fa|mily of the Ap Evans's are disgrac'd for ever.
Thou weak, vain, woman! whose folly has undone me, and my child.
Not I truly, Sir William—It is her own high-flown principles, that have ruined her—My lord offered to marry her, over and over again, it seems, but she with her nonsensical, romantical no|tions, affected to despise him, and refused to be his wife, on any terms.
Has she? I rejoice, to hear it—
Rejoice; at what! at her being a mad woman? I think, in her situation, she needed not have been so nice—It would have been much better for her, to have been lady Eustace, even against his will, than Miss Harriet Evans's, against her own.
How nearly pride, and meanness, are allied! You wou'd obtrude your niece, upon a man, who has abandoned, and dishonour'd her; then vainly think she might receive distinction, from a title, which force, not choice, bestowed.
Brother, I neither understand logic, nor sophistry, but I am very sorry matters are as they are. Page 77 —As to Harriet, I believe it will be of no great con|sequence, to her; she will soon break her heart, I imagine—But the scandal of this affair, will rest upon the survivors.—I don't think I shall ever be able to shew my face, at Monmouth, again.
Away! The moments now are too precious, to be wasted. Where is Harriet?
In her chamber, like a distracted wretch, tearing herself to pieces. I endeavoured to comfort her, as much as I could, by telling her how wrong she had acted, and that she might have lived to be a countess, if he had followed my advice.
Was this the consolation you offer'd to her grief? How cou'd you be so barbarous? The proper spirit she has shewn, in refusing that worth|less lord, has replaced her in my heart—I will go try to comfort her.
Aye, so you may; you are the fittest to go together. For my part, I disclaim the mis|managment of this whole affair; and remember, I'll no longer be accountable, for measures, that I am not suffer'd to guide.
YOUR meeting with Sir William, was extremely unfortunate.
I most sincerely wish we had not met; but that is past—
Then I suppose you think the worst is over.
No, Frampton, 'tis to come.—Sir William has insisted upon my meeting him, this morning.
Impossible, my lord! you must not fight him. Think on the consequences: if you should be so unhappy, as to kill the father of the woman you have highly injured, the world wou'd cer|tainly unite against you, and drive you from society.
In that case, I shou'd be but ill quali|fied, for solitude, I confess.—Now, my dear Frampton, as I know you are my friend, and as I wou'd not wish any other person shou'd be acquainted with this story, I must desire you will be my second.
It is much beneath a man of honour, to make professions, either of his friendship, or his courage; but, on this occasion, I must tell you, that I wou'd hazard my life, for your service, in any other cause; but I will not be concern'd, in this Page 79 infamous affair; and, I say, again, you must not raise your arm, against Sir William.
You do not know how I am circum|stanced. He has compell'd me, to this duel; said he wou'd brand me, for a coward, if I declin'd it.—What wou'd you have me do?
Marry his daughter.
No—Tho' I love her, with the truest fondness, I will not wed her, upon such terms; nor suffer her to think so meanly of me, as to suppose I poorly barter'd a coward's hand, to save his worth|less life.
Yet, consider, my lord, that let the con|sequences of this duel, be what they may, nothing can acquit you of that justice, you owe, both to her, and yourself.
I own that I have greatly wrong'd her.
It is now within your power, to make reparation, by becoming her husband; but shou'd you deprive her of a father, she never can be united to the man who kill'd him.
I will not kill him, Frampton—Urge me, no farther—My mind is torn to pieces.
Believe me, my lord, you are not in a right course, to heal it.
No matter; you have refus'd to be a witness of my conduct, Mr. Frampton.
And do so, still: I never had the least reason to doubt your bravery; and as this is an affair, in which only principals can be concern'd, I hope it will be no imputation, upon mine, if I decline seeing your lordship engaged in a strife, where I cannot wish you success.
I shall not press you; but have yet a request to make.
Name it, my lord.
If I should fall, deliver this letter, to my father; and—if there be any circumstance of my misconduct, left untold, which may do Harriet justice, inform him of it, fully.—I must now go seek, for a less cautious friend, than Mr. Frampton.
Your lordship will scarcely ever find a sincerer. (Exit lord Eustace.) Of what opposite qua|lities, is this young man compounded? What a mixture, of good, and evil! But are we not all made of the same materials? The devil himself cannot always mislead a man, that has principles; they will recur, in spite of him, and make their owner act rightly, upon trying occasions.—This letter to his father, shews him to be a man of honor.—Something must be done, to preserve him.—I cannot give him up.—An experiment, tho' a hazardous one, must be made, directly.
When shall my tortured mind find rest! Gracious heaven, preserve me from distraction! Perhaps, in a few moments, my father's sword may pierce my husband's heart.—Why has that tender name escap'd my lips? Resentment should have stopt its passage to my tongue, and sighs opposed its utterance.
I don't see any harm, child, in your calling him your husband, tho' to be sure he is not so, in law.—But I wou'd have you hope the best, Harriet.
No, I will hope no more—What shou'd I hope?—My pride, my reason might have scorn'd him, living, but I will love him, and lament him, Page 81 dead?—Wou'd I had died, the hour before I listen'd to your counsel, and set at nought, the au|thority of my father.—Your cruel kindness has undone me.
I shou'd not have thought of meeting such a return, for that kindness, from you, Miss Evans.
Forgive, and pity my distraction, madam! 'Tis I that have brought ruin, on ye all—But if you ever loved me, think of some means, to find my brother out: he may prevent this duel, and save me from the lowest depth of misery.
Really, child, you are extremely ignorant; you talk as if you were at Mohmouth, where our family are known, and properly respected—but in such a place as London, it may possibly be as difficult, to find out an Ap Evans, as any of those mushroom gentry, whose Table does not con|tain above three generations.
My dearest aunt, do not place bars before my only hope; let all our servants be sent out to seek him.
Well, child, if it will make you easy, they shall go, directly; tho' I am of opinion it will be but a fruitless inquiry. But the being too easily prevail'd upon, is my greatest foible—I wish I had a little of Sir William's obstinacy, about me.
Consider, madam, I am on the rack; do not lose time, I beg of you.
Well, be composed, I will send them; they shall search all the genteel coffee-houses, at the West end of the town—it is impossible he shou'd be in the city.—But don't let your father know, that I told you of the duel: he thinks women are never to be trusted with any thing; and has no Page 82 more respect for the empress-queen, or the czarina that I have for a county justice.
How can she be insensible, to griefs like mine!
What, up so early, Harriet! Who has disturbed your rest?
O Sir! where is that powerful opiate to be found, that can restore it?
The consciousness of your own heart, and my forgiveness of your only fault, shou'd set your mind at peace.
What! while that fault endangers your dear life, and robs my brother of the best of fathers?—unworthy as I am to call you by that name.
Her grief almost unmans me.
O do not make my brother hate me, too!—Will he not call me parricide?—or if—
Who has acquainted you, with this affair? I did not think there was a heart so brutal.—But do not, Harriet, thus alarm yourself—all may be yet repaired.
Never, Sir, never! for here I vow, that shou'd lord Eustace arm his hand, against your life, no power on earth, shall ever make me his.
Harriet, the laws of honour must be satisfied; and when I was first blest, with the fond name of father, yours then became my most peculiar care; nor life, nor aught on earth, is half so dear to me.—Nay, Harriet, do not weep! I blame you not; your youth, and innocence, have been deceiv'd.
You are too good, too gentle to me, Sir; I have deserv'd all the distress I feel.—Yet hear me, Page 83 Sir—If this must be—might not my brother, Sir, dear as he is to me—
My determination cannot now be alter'd: retire, my child.
Captain Loyd, Sir, desires to see your ho|nor.
Shew him up.
Leave me, my Harriet, leave me.
My heart bleeds for her.
I have crouded all the sail I cou'd make, to come up with you, baronet; and now that I am here, I should be glad to know, in what soundings we are, and whether we are to steer starboard, or larboard?
My letter, I believe, captain, must have given you to understand the reason, of my desiring to see you; at present, I am unhappily engaged, in a duel, and the opinion I have, both of your bravery, and friendship, made me look upon you as the pro|perest person of my acquaintance, to be my second.
As to that matter, Sir William, I think, I have discharged as many broadsides, as any gentle|man in the navy—tho' I never yet drew a trigger, out of the line; but powder and ball, I suppose, do pretty much the same execution, by land, as by sea; tho' standing fair to the windward, is, sometimes, of great use to us, baronet.
It is of little consequence, which way the wind sits, at present, captain.
I can't say much to that, Sir William.—But I wish you had acquainted me with this business, a day or two ago, I shou'd have lik'd to have made a little will—But, 'tis no great matter, neither—For if I should pop over, you daughter's husband will be my heir.
There is not the least occasion, for that precaution, captain, as your life will not be endan|ger'd.
How so? When the ship is once engaged, must not every man aboard her, fight? All but the chaplain, and he shou'd be busy, in his way, too.
In this case, my friend, you need be no farther concern'd, than to see that the laws of honor, are not violated.
Hold, hold, Sir William! this may do, for some of your fresh water sparks, but Jerry Loyd will never lie to, when the signal's given for chace—no lug-sail work, for me; I shall come pouring down upon them.—But, pray, who is your antago|nist? And what is the cause of your quarrel? Was it a drunken business?—I was pretty jolly, my|self, last night, but don't remember that I had words, with any one, except the waiter.
I shou'd be asham'd, captain, were I weak enough to run into one vice, from the con|sequences of another, or hazard my life, this day, for having been guilty of excess, last night.
Well! if that is not the case, I don't know what it is. For I think you are not quarrelsome, when you are sober.—But have you breakfasted? Tho' you may have no great appetite, my stomach has been ready for a mess, this half hour, I can tell you.
We shall find every thing prepar'd, in the next room.
Let us make to the store-room, directly; and while we are laying in our provisions, you may tell me who is your man, and all about it.
Let your master know, that I am here.
This is the most romantic affair, my lord, that ever I heard of. To set out determined to stand your enemy's fire, without returning it!
The wrongs, I have done him, and his family, shou'd be atoned, and not increased, colo|nel; and were it now within my power, I wou'd not take his life, even to save my own.
There I think you are right, my lord; but I can't say I shou'd carry-my politeness, so far, as to make him a compliment, of mine.
There is something much higher than po|liteness, in the question, at present—justice, colonel—A man may dispense with the one, but not the other.
I am intirely of your opinion; but as your sentiments are so very delicate, and that you really love the girl, why may not I, as your second, step in, and save the explosion of gunpowder, and the lady's character, by preventing the duel?
I will not suffer it.
As you intend to offer her your hand, when this business is over, I don't see why you shou'd run the hazard, of losing life or limb; and if the father be a man of honor, as you say he is, I shou'd think—
I will not be restrained! No, I will rush be|tween their cruel swords!
My brother, here! then heaven has heard my prayer.
Will you not speak to me?
Are you her brother?
Yes, I have that dishonour—Ill fated girl!
What can this mean? Are you come hi|ther, to abet the man, who has disgraced your sister?
My father can't suppose it.
Retire, this moment, then, and take her with you—My lord, I am ready to attend you, singly.
You shall not go, for I will cling, for ever, here.
I cannot bear this sight—Pray hear me, Sir.
Take her away.
Nay then, Sir, I must interfere—I cannot suffer you to turn assassin, even for her—Lord Eu|stace has not charg'd his pistols, nor does he mean to raise his arm against you—You cannot take his life, upon these terms.
Does he despise me, then?
A little gleam of hope, breaks in upon me.
Your son can answer that, Sir William.
With truth, my lord, I say you do not—Now, you must answer me.
Your being perfectly acquainted with my intentions, towards your sister, before I knew that you were related to her, shou'd, I think, be a sufficient answer, to any demand you can possibly have to make.
By no means, my lord; tho' your tender|ness for the weakness you have caused, may incline you to repair her lost honor, I must and will, be guardian of my own; and nothing but your meet|ing me, on fair and equal terms, can heal the wound you have given it.
Now, Harry, you are my son.
Inhuman brother! will nothing, but his life, content your rage? Let me die for him.
My angel Harriet!—But since it must be so, I am ready, colonel.
I hope your lordship thinks I stand acquitted of my obligations to you, by preventing your en|gaging, on such unequal terms, for that unworthy girl.
You wrong her much; it is I alone am guilty.
It is true, my son; Harriet is inno|cent.
If that be true, I have a double right to venge|ance!
You have a right to chuse your repa|ration, Sir, and I attend you.
When shall my miseries end!
I hope, this moment, madam.
What can this mean?
I have no sort of business, with your lord|ship, Page 88 my commission is directed to Sir William Evans, and lady Eustace.
Do not insult me, Sir; I am not lady Eustace.
Nor ever shall be.
That is a point, that will not, I think, admit of being contested.
You are mistaken, Sir; but this is trifling.
I am on the rack—explain yourself, my friend.
You must give me leave to speak, then—When I saw the distress, and anxiety of your mind, I was fully satisfied of your honourable intentions, towards this lady, from the letter you entrusted me with, which yet remains unopened.—I determin'd, if possible, to preserve both your life, and honour, for her sake, by preventing your duel, with her fa|ther, and your marriage, with lady Anne Mount|fort.
The first event, Sir, has been prevented, without your assistance, and I will venture to promise, that the second shall never take place.
I am quite of your opinion, Sir. As I came, this moment from lord Delville, to acknow|ledge this fair lady, as his son's wife—but this letter Sir William, will more fully explain his lordship's sentiments.
My generous friend! my guardian angel!
My lord, I neither desire, nor deserve, your thanks.—If I have been, in any way, service|able to you, attribute it to my real attachment, to your truly amiable wife.
I do not understand all this.
'Tis as I guess'd, exactly.—All smoke, and no fire.—My nephew, here! Then something may be done—I rejoice to see you, Harry.
Lord Delville has behav'd, like a man of honour; but yet I must inform you, Sir, that the generosity of his conduct, cannot efface the baseness of his son—My daughter shall never be his wife—He has disgrac'd her.
Never, Sir! Here is my witness—this letter, which I now entreat my Harriet to peruse, will fully prove, that had I fallen by your hand, her honour wou'd have been preserv'd.
I will not read it.
I think that was behaving like a man of quality.
Let me entreat you, Sir William, to look it over, as I can, with truth and honour, attest the sincerity of the writer.
There need no farther vouchers. Let Har|riet now determine, for herself.
The struggle is too great.—I cannot speak—Leave me, my lord—
Never, whilst I have life, will I forsake you.
It cannot be, my lord—Tho' I have the highest sense of gratitude, for lord Delville's good|ness to me, and tho' I believe you perfectly sincere, in what you say, at present; yet the humiliating situ|ation, into which you have plunged me, the distress you have brought upon my family, your attachment to another lady——
With shame I must confess my trifling with a lady, whom I cou'd not have lov'd, even had my Harriet been unknown to me.
I think I may venture to assure your lordship, that lady Anne Mountfort will be very ready to forgive your want of passion for her, as her parti|ality for me, might, perhaps, have been the cause of her blindness, to your superior merits.
I congratulate your good fortune, co|lonel; and am indebted to your generosity, for remov|ing every shadow of difficulty, on lady Anne's ac|count.
Nephew, I wish you joy—There will be one wom of quality, at least, in the family.
Weak as I am, my lord, you cannot shake my resolution
I have no hope, but in your interposi|tion, Sir: you are her father, and have been most offended; yet you, perhaps, have the goodness to forgive!
Aye, and give, too, my lord; the man who sincerely repents of error, is farther remov'd from vice, than one who has ne'er been guilty—This letter is a sufficient, and convincing proof, of your contrition. Take her; she is, and shall be yours.
The commands of a father, must not be re|sisted—O! my lord, how different are my present sensations, from those I sustained, when I ventur'd to bestow this hand, without his sanction!—But take it; it is yours, for ever, now.
Then every wish of my fond heart is ac|complished.
Joy to your lordship, and my dearest Harriet!
I sincerely wish your ladyship all the hap|piness, which I well know you have deserv'd.
And you, my friend, shall share it with us, who have steer'd my course to this blest har|bour, thro' all the shoals and quick-sands of my folly. Page 91 —You shall be happy, too, if ought within my for|tune, or my power, can render you so.
Continue to preserve your present bliss, my lord, and I am over-paid.
I think I have a right to partake, in your ladyship's felicity, from the principal share I have had, in bringing this event to pass. I hope that lord Delville has been properly inform'd—
—That man is my perpetual torment.
Why, hey-day, Sir William! What wind's a blowing, now? You seem to have cast anchor, when I thought you were putting out to sea.—Here is the whole crew assembled; Miss Winifred, and all.—Do women fight duels? If I had them on board the Dreadnought, I'd clap them all under hatches, before she engaged.—But come along, baronet, you don't mean to slack sail, now, I hope—I thought, by this time, we shou'd have made a few eyelet holes, in the enemy's rigging.
I hope, my good friend, you will excuse my seeming inattention, to your impatient bravery, when I tell you, that our contest has ended happily, and that you may now wish all this company, as well as lord Eustace, joy.
He is to be married, then, it seems—I hope, madam, you'll believe me, another time.
Yes, when you tell truth, captain—But, at present, you happen to be a little out, in your soundings, for the ship's name is not the lady Anne, but the lovely Harriet—The country girl, you talked of.
Well, well, all is one to me.—So she is bound for the port of matrimony, I am content— Page 92 and so I wish your lordship, your ladyship, and all your ships, a prosperous voyage, to the island of happiness.