The runaway, a comedy: as it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane.
Cowley, Mrs. (Hannah), 1743-1809.
SCENE, an Apartment.
Enter GEORGE, HARRIET, and BELLA.
Bel.

What transformations this Love can make! You look as grave, George, and speak as sententiously, as an Old-Bailey Fortune-teller.

Geo.

And is it only to preserve your spirits, Bella, that you keep your heart so cold?

Bel.

The recipe is certainly not a bad one, if we may judge from the effects of the opposite element on your spirits—but I advise you, whatever you do, not to assume an ap|pearance of gravity—'tis the most dangerous character in the world.

Geo.

How so?

Bel.

Oh, the advantages you would lose by it are incon-conceivable. While you can sustain that of a giddy, thoughtless, undesigning, great Boy, all the impertinent and foolish things you commit will be excus'd—laugh'd at—nay, if accompanied by a certain manner, they will be applauded—but do the same things with a grave reflecting face, and n ••por••nt air—and you'll be condemn'd, nm. con.

Page  21Enter Servant.
Serv.

Sir Charles Seymour is driving up the avenue, Sir.

[Exit.
Geo.

Is he?—I am rejoiced—

Har.

Sir Charles Seymour, Brother?—I thought you told us yesterday he was on the point of marriage.

Geo.

Well, my dear Harriet, and what then? Is his being on the point of marriage any reason why he should not be here?—he is even now hastening to pay his devoirs to the Lady—I left him yesterday at a friend's house on the road, and he promised to call on us in his way to-day—but I hear him—

[Exit.
Bel.

Harriet, you look quite pale—I had no concep|tion that Sir Charles was of serious consequence to you.

Har.

My dear Bella—I am ashamed of myself—I'll go with you to your dressing-room—I must not see him while I look so ridiculously—I dread my Brother's raillery.

Bel.

Come then, hold by me. Deuce take it, what bu|siness have women with hearts?—If I could influence the House, handsome men should be shut out of society, 'till they grew harmless, by becoming Husbands.

[Exeunt.
[Enter GEORGE and Sir CHARLES.
Geo.

Ha! the birds are flown.

Sir Cha.

Let us pursue 'em then.

Geo.

Pho—they are not worth pursuing—Bella's a Co|quette, and Harriet's in love.

Sir Ch.

Harriet in love!

Geo.

Aye, she's in for't, depend on't—but that's nothing, I have intelligence for the man—my Incognita's found, she's now in the house—my beauteous Wood Nymph!

Sir Ch.

Miss Hargrave's heart another's!

Geo.

Miss Hargrave's heart another's—why, my Sister's heart is certainly engaged—but how's all this?

Sir Ch.

O George! I love—I love your Sister—to distrac|tion, doat on her.

Geo.

A pretty time, for the mountain to give up its bur|then truly! Why did you not tell me this before? If your heart had been as open to me, as mine has ever been to you—I might have serv'd you; but now—

Sir Ch.

Oh, reproach me not, but pity me—I love your Sister—long have lov'd her.

Geo.

And not intrust your love to me!—You distrusted me, Charles, and you'll be properly punish'd.

Page  22
Sir Ch.

Severely am I punish'd—fool, fool, that I was, thus to have built a superstructure of happiness for all my life to come, that in one moment dissolves into air! I cannot see your Sister—I must leave you.

Geo.

Indeed, you shall not leave me, Seymour—On what grounds did you build your hopes, that you seem so greatly disappointed?—Had my Sister accepted your addresses?

Sir Ch.

No—I never presumed to make her any—my fortune was so small, that I had no hopes of obtaining your Father's consent—and therefore made it a point of honour not to endeavour to gain her affection.

Geo.

Yes, yes, you took great care.

[aside.
Sir Ch.

But my Uncle's death having removed every cause of fear on that head, I flatter'd myself I had nothing else to apprehend.

Geo.

Courage, my friend, and your difficulties may va|nish. 'Tis your humble distant lovers who have sung thro' every age of their scornful Phillis's—You never knew a bold fellow, who could love Women without mistaking 'em for Angels, whine about their cruelty.

Sir Ch.

Do you not tell me your Sister's heart is engaged?—Then what have I to struggle for? it was her heart I wish'd to possess. Could Miss Hargrave be indelicate enough, which I am sure she could not, to bestow her hand on me without it, I would reject it.

Geo.

Bravo!—nobly resolved! keep it up by all means.—Come how, I'll introduce you to one of the finest Girls you ever saw in your life—but remember you are not to suffer your heart to be interested there, for that's my quarry—and death to the man who attempts to rob me of my prize!

Sir Ch.

Oh, you are very secure, I assure you—my heart is adamant from this moment.

[Exeunt.
The Garden. Enter HARGRAVE and a Servant.
Mr. Har.

Run and tell my Son I want to speak to him here diectly

[exit Serv.]
Her forty thousand pounds will just enable me to buy the Greenwood Estate,—and to my cer|tan knowledge, that young Rakehelly won't be able to keep it to his back much longer. We shall then have more land than any family in the country, and a Borough of our own into the bargain. Humph—But suppose George should not have a mind to marry her now? Why then,—why then—as to his mind, when two parties differ, the weaker must give way—the match is for the advancement of your fortune, says I; and if it can't satisfy your mind, you must teach it what I have always taught you—obedience.—
[Enter GEO.]
Page  23 Oh, George, I sent for you into the garden, that we might have no interruptions; for, as I was saying, there's an affair of consequence I want to talk to you about.

Geo.

I am all attention, Sir.

Mr. H.

I don't design that you shall return to College any more—I have other views, which I hope will not be disagree|able to you—You—you like Lady Dinah, you say?

Geo.

[hesitatingly]
She is a Lady of great erudition, with|out doubt.

Mr. H.

I don't know what your notions may be of her age; I could wish her a few years younger, but—

Geo.

Pardon me, Sir, I think there can be no objection to her age; and the preference her Ladyship gives to our fa|mily, is certainly a high compliment.

Mr. H.

Ho, ho, then you are acquainted already with what I was going to communicate to you—I am surprised at that.

Geo.

Matrimonial negotiations, Sir, are seldom long con|cealed; 'tis a subject on which every body is fond of talking—the young, in hopes that their turn will come;—and those who are older—

Mr. H.

By way of giving a fillip to their memories, I suppose you mean, George, ch?—well, I am glad you are so merry; I was a little uneasy about what you might think of this affair—tho' I never mention'd it in my life—but perhaps, Lady Dinah may have hinted it to her woman, and then I should not wonder if the whole parish knew it. However, you have no objection, and that's enough—tho' if you had, I must have had my way, George.

Geo.

Without doubt, Sir.

Mr. H.

Have you spoken to Lady Dinah on the subject?

Geo.

Spoke—n—o, Sir, I could not think of addressing Lady Dinah on so delicate an affair without your permission.

Mr. H.

Well then, my dear Boy—I would have you speak to her now, and, I think, the sooner the better.

Geo.

To be sure, Sir—I shall obey you—

Mr. H.

Well, you have set my heart at rest—I am as happy as a Prince—I never fixt my mind on any thing in my life, so much as I have done on this marriage—and it would have gall'd me sorely if you had been against it—but you are a good Boy, George, a very good Boy, and I'll go in, and prepare Lady Dinah for your visit.

[Exit.
Geo.

Why, my dear Father, you are quite elated on the prospect of your nuptials—but why must I make speeches to Lady Dinah? I am totally ignorant of the mode that elderly Gentlemen adopt on such occasions.

Page  24Enter BELLA.
Bel.

What, have you been opening your heart to your Father, George?

Geo.

No, faith—he has been opening his to me—He has been making me the confident of his passion for Lady Dinah.

Bel.

No! ha, ha, ha—is it possible?—what style does he talk in? is it flames and darts, or esteem and sentiment?

Geo.

I don't imagine my good Father thinks of either—her fortune, I presume, is his object; and I shall not venture to hint an objection; for contradiction, you know, only lends him fresh ardor. Where is Seymour and Harriet?

Bel.

Your Sister is in the drawing-room, and Sir Charles I just now saw in the Orange-walk, with his arms folded thus—and his eyes fixt on a shrub, in the most penseroso style you can conceive—Why—he has no appearance of a happy youth on the verge of Bridegroomism.

Geo.

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

Bel.

Why do you laugh?

Geo.

At the embarrasment I have thrown the simpletons into—ha, ha, ha!

Bel.

What simpletons?—what embarrasment?

Geo.

That you cannot guess, my sweet Cousin, with all your penetration.

Bel.

I shall expire, if you won't let me know it—now do—pray, George—come—be pleas'd to tell it me.

[curtseying.
Geo.

No, no, you look so pretty while you are coaxing, that I must—must see you in that humour a little longer.

Bel.

That's unkind—come—tell me this secret—tho' I'll be hang'd if I don't guess it.

Geo.

Nay, then I must tell you; for if you shou'd find it out, I shall lose the pleasure of obliging you.—Seymour and my Sister doat on one another—and I have made each believe, that the other has different engagements.

Bel.

Oh, I am rejoiced to hear it.

Geo.

Rejoic'd! I assure you, I am highly offended.

Bel.

At what? Sir Charles is your friend, and every way an eligible match for your Sister.

Geo.

Very true—I am happy in their attachment, and therefore offended.—Sir Charles has been as chary of his secret, as if I had not deserv'd his confidence.

Bel.

I believe he never address'd your Sister.

Geo.

Aye, so he pretends, he never made love to her—ridiculous subterfuge!—he stole into her heart by the help of those silent tender observances, which are the surest battery when there's time to play 'em off—If any man had thus obtain'd my Sister's heart—left her a prey to disappoint|ment, Page  25 and then said—he meant nothing—my sword should have faught him, that his conduct was not less dishonourable, than if he had knelt at her feet, and sworn a million oaths.

Bel.

Why, this might be useful—but, mercy upon us! if every girl had such a snap-dragon of a Brother,—no Beaus—and very few pretty fellows would venture to come near her—pray, when did you form this mischievous design?

Geo.

Oh, Sir Charles has been heaping up the measure of his offences some time—'twould have diverted you to have seen the tricks he play'd to get Harriet's picture—At last he begg'd it, to get the drapery copied for his Sister's; and I know 'tis at this moment in his bosom, tho' he has sworn an hundred times 'tis still at the Painter's.

Bel.

Ha!—I'll fly and tell her the news—If I don't mistake, she'd rather have her picture there than in the Gal|lery of Beauties at Hampton.

[going.]
Geo.

Sdeath!—stop—Why, are not you angry?—shut out by parchment provisoes from all the flutters of Courtship your|self—you had a right to participate in Harriet's.

Bel.

Very true; this might be sufficient for me—But what pleasure can you have in tormenting two hearts so at|tach'd to each other?

Geo.

I do mean to plague 'em a little; and it will be the greatest favour we can do them—for they are such sentimental people—you know—that they'll blush, and hesitate, and tor|ment each other, six months before they can come to an ex|planation—But, by alarming their jealousy, they'll betray themselves in as many hours.

Bel.

Oh, cry your mercy!—So there's not one grain of mischief in all this; and you carry on the plan in downright charity—well, really in that light there is some reason—

Geo.

Aye, more reason than is necessary to induce you to join in it—even tho' there were mischief—so promise me your assistance with a good grace.

Bel.

Well, I do promise; for I really think—

Geo.

Oh, I'll accept of very slight assurances.

Bel.

A-propos! Here's Harriet—I'm just as angry as you wish me: leave us, and you shall have a good account of her.

Enter HARRIET.
Har.

Brother! Mr. Drummond, I fancy, wonders at your absence: he's alone with the Lady—

Geo.

Then he possesses a privilege that half mankind would grudge him.

[Exit.
Bel.

Have you seen Sir Charles yet?

Page  26
Har.

Indeed I have not—I confess I was so weak, as to retire twice from the drawing-room, because I heard his voice—tho' I was conscious my absence must appear odd, and fearful the cause might be suspected.

Bel.

Ah!—pray be careful that you give him in particu|lar no reason to guess at that—I advise you to treat him with the greatest coldness.

Har.

Most certainly I shall, whatever it costs me—It would be the most cruel mortification, if I thought he would ever suspect my weakness—I wonder, Bella, if the Lady whom he is to marry, is so handsome as George describes her.

Bel.

Of what consequence is that to you, child?—never think about it; if you suffer your mind to be soften'd with reflections of that sort, you'll never behave with a proper de|gree of scorn to him.

Har.

Oh, do not fear it; I assure you, I possess a vast deal of scorn for him.

Bel.

I am sure you fib,

[aside.]
—Well now, by way of example, he is coming this way, I see.

Har.

Is he?—come then, let us go.

Bel.

Yes, yes, you are quite a Heroine, I perceive—Surely you will not fly to prove your indifference?—Stay and mortify him with an appearance of carelessness and good-humour—For instance: when he appears, look at him with such an unmeaning eye, as one glances over an acquaintance shabbily dress'd at Ranelagh—and when he speaks to you, look another way; and then, suddenly recollecting yourself,—What is that you were saying, Sir Charles? I beg pardon, I really did not attend—then, without minding his answer—Bella, I was thinking of that sweet fellow who open'd the ball with Lady Harriet—Did you ever see such eyes? and then the air with which he danced!—O Lord! I never shall forget him.

Har.

You'll find me a bad scholar, I believe—however, I'll go through the interview, if you'll assist me.

Bel.

Fear me not.

Enter Sir CHARLES.
Sir Cha.

Ladies—this is rather unexpected—I hope I don't intrude.

Bel.

Sir Charles Seymour can never be an unwelcome in|truder.

Sir Cha.

Miss Hargrave—I have not had the happiness of paying my respects to you since I arriv'd—I hope you have enjoyed a perfect share of health and spirits, since I left Har|grave-Place.

[confused'y.]
Page  27
Har.

I never have been better, Sir; and my spirits are seldom so good as they are now.

[affecting gaiety.]
Sir Cha.

Your looks indeed, Madam, speak you in pos|session of that happiness I wish you

[sighing]
—You, Miss Sydney, are always in spirits.

Bel.

In general, Sir—I have not wisdom enough to be troubled with reflections to destroy my repose.

Sir Cha.

Do you imagine it then a proof of wisdom to be unhappy?

Bel.

One might think so; for wise folks are always grave.

Har.

Then I'll never attempt to be wise—henceforward I'll be gaiety itself—I am deermined to devote myself to pleasure, and only live to laugh.

Bel.

Perhaps you may not always find subjects, Cousin, unless you do as I do—laugh at your own absurdities.

Har.

Oh, fear not—we need not always look at home; the world abounds with subjects for mirth, and the men will be so obliging as to furnish a sufficient number, when every other resource fails.

Sir Cha.

Miss Hargrave was not always so severe.

Har.

Fye, Sir Charles—do not mistake pleasanty for severity—but exuberant spirits frequently overflow in im|pertinence; therefore I pardon your thinking that mine do.

Sir Cha.

Impertinence! Surely, Madam, you cannot sup|pose I meant to—

Har.

Nay, Bella, I appeal to you; did not Sir Charles intimate some such thing?

Bel.

Why—a—I don't know—To be sure there was a kind of a distant intimation—tho' perhaps Sir Charles only means that you are aukward—ha! ha!—But consider, Sir, this character of Harriet's is but lately assumed—and new characters, like new stays, never sit till they have been worn.

Sir Cha.

Very well, Ladies; I will not dispute your right to understand my expressions in what manner you please—but I hope you will allow me the same—and that, when a Lady's eyes speak disdain, I may, without offence, translate it into Love.

Har.

'Tis an error that men are apt to fall into; but the eyes talk in an idiom, warm from the heart; and so skilful an observer as Sir Charles will not mistake their language.

Sir Cha.

Are they alike intelligible to all?

Har.

So plain, that nine times out of ten, at least, mis|takes must be wilful.

Page  28
Sir Ch.

Then pray examine mine, Madam, and by the ••port you make I shall judge of your proficiency in their dialect.

Bella.

Oh—I'll examine yours, Sir Charles—I am a better judge than Harriet—let me see—aye—'tis so, in one I per|ceive love and jealousy—in the other, hope and a wedding. Now am I not a Prophetess?

Sir Ch.

Prove but one in the last article, and I ask no more of Fate—now—will you read? Madam!

Har.

You are so intirely satisfied with Bella's translation, Sir, that I will not run the risk of mortifying you with a dif|ferent construction—come, Cousin—let us return to our company.

Bel.

[apart]
Fye! that air of pique is enough to ruin all.

Sir Ch.

Do you not find the garden agreeable, Miss Har|grave? I begin to think it charming.

Har.

Perfectly agreeable, Sir—but the happy never fly society—I wonder to see you alone. Come, Bella.

Bel.

Bravo!

[Exeunt Bella and Harriet.
Sir Ch.

Astonishing! What is become of that sweetness—that dove-like softness, which stole into my heart, and deceived me into dreams of bliss? She flies from me, and talks of her company, and returning to her society—Oh Harriet! oh my Harriet! thy society is prized by me beyond that of the whole world; and still to possess it, with the hope that once glowed in my bosom, would be a blessing for which I would sacrifice every other, that Nature or Fortune has bestowed.

[Exit.