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

NAY, but hear him—hear him, Harriet.

Har.

Can this be you, Bella, who this morning seem'd fearful that I should not treat him with sufficient scorn—now persuading me to allow a private interview to a Man who is professedly the lover of another?

Bel.

How apprehensive you very delicate Ladies are! Why must you suppose he wants to talk to you about love—or on any topic, that his approaching marriage would make improper?

Har.

Why—what can he have to say to me?

Bel.

Admit him, and he'll tell you—perhaps he wants to consult your taste about the trimmings of his wedding clothes—or to beg your choice in his ruffles—or—

Har.

Pho!—this is downright ridicule.

Bel.

Well then—you won't admit him?

[seeming to go]
I shall tell him you don't choose to see him, tho' he is going to Page  43 leave us directly—but I approve your caution, Harriet, you are perfectly right.

Har.

Going to leave us directly, Bella!

Bel.

Immediately, my dear—I heard him order his chaise, and mutter something about insupportable—but I think you'll be exceedingly imprudent in receiving his visit, and advise you by all means to refuse it.

Har.

Dear Bella!

Bel.

Well then you will see him—I shall acquaint him with the success of my embassy—but remember scorn, Harriet, scorn.

[Exit Bella.
Har.

Now, what am I to expect? my heart beats strangely—but remember, foolish Girl, the picture of his Mistress is in his bosom.

Enter Sir CHARLES.
Sir Ch.

The request I ventured to make by Miss Sidney, Madam, must appear strange to you—the engagements which I—

Har.

Renders it an extraordinary request indeed, Sir.

Sir Cha.

I fear'd you would think so, and conscious of those engagements, I shou'd not have presum'd to have made it—but as it's probably the last time I may ever see you—I seize it, to tell you that—I adore you.

Har.

Sir Charles! I am astonished,—in my Father's house at least, I should have been secure from such an insult.

Sir Ch.

Forgive me, I intreat you. Nothing could have forced this declaration from me, but my despair.

Har.

The engagement you talk of, Sir, ought to have prevented these effects of your despair.

Sir Cha.

I acknowledge it—and they have kept me silent ever since I arrived—but when I thought of leaving you in a few moments, I sound the idea insupportable.

Har.

The picture you wear, Sir Charles—might console you surely.

Sir Cha.

Hah—I thought you were ignorant, Madam, of my possessing it.

Har.

Without doubt you did, Sir Charles—but no, Sir—I am acquainted with your wearing that Picture—and wonder how you could presume—but I deserve the insult, for listening to you a moment.

[Going.
Sir Ch.

Oh, stay, Miss Hargrave, I intreat you,—I will give up the picture, since it so offends you—yet how can I part from it?

Page  44
Har.

Oh, keep it, Sir—keep it by all means—you mistake me entirely, Sir; I have no right to claim such a sa|crifice.

[Going.
Sir Ch.

You have a right, Madam—here it is—

[kissing and offering it]
but do not rob me of it.

Har.

Rob you of it!—in short, Sir Charles, you redouble your rudeness every moment—

Sir Ch.

I did not think you would have so resented it—but I resign it to you, Madam—nay, you must take it.

Har.

I take it, Sir!

[Glances her eye on it, then takes it with an air of doubt]
—My Picture!—astonishing!

Enter GEORGE and BELLA, both laughing.
Sir Ch.

Your picture, Madam!!

Geo.

Look at the simpletons—na, ha, ha!

Bel.

What a fine attitude!—do it again, Sir Charles—ha, ha, ha!—Well, Harriet—how do you like Sir Charles's Mistress? Is she as handsome as George represented her?

Geo.

Hold, hold! 'tis time now to have mercy. My dear Harriet, allow me to present to you my most valued friend, as the Man whom I shou'd rejoice to see your Husband. To you, my Seymour, I present a Sister, whose heart has no en|gagements that I am acquainted with, to supersede your claim.

Sir Ch.

I am speechless with joy, and with amazement.

Geo.

Forgive the embarrasment I have occasion'd you—you have suffer'd something; but your felicity will be heighten'd from the comparison. My dear Harriet, Seymour has always loved you—the picture which so offended you is a proof, you cannot doubt.

Sir Ch.

And that you were so offended, is supreme feli|city—stupid wretch—not to perceive my bliss!

Har.
[to Geo. and Bel.]

You have taken a liberty with me that I cannot pardon.

Geo.

Nay, but you shall pardon it—and as a proof, give him back your picture this minute.

Sir Ch.

Return it to me, Madam, I intreat you

[kneeling]
I will receive it as the most precious gift.

Bel.

Come, give the poor thing its bauble.

Har.

Well, take it, Sir—since you had no share in this brilliant contrivance.

Sir Ch.
[taking the picture]

Eternal blessings on that hand!

Har.

You, George, are never so happy, as in exercising your wit, at my expence.

Page  [unnumbered]
Geo.

And you, Harriet, never so heartily forgave me in your Life, and therefore—

Sir Ch.

Hold, George—I cannot bear Miss Hargrave's suffering in this manner; I will take on myself the transport|ing office of defending her—this hour, Madam, I shall for ever remember with gratitude, and will endeavour to deserve it, by a life devoted to your happiness.

Bel.

Come, Harriet—I must take you away, that Sir Charles may bring down his raptures to the standard of com|mon mortals—at present, I see his in the clouds.

Har.

'Tis merciful to relieve me.

[Exeunt Harriet and Bella.
Sir Ch.

Charming Miss Sydney—I'll never quarrel with your vivacity again.—But why have I been made to suffer thus?

Geo.

Because you did not tell me why you wanted my Sister's picture—but I have taken a friendly vengeance; my plot has told you more of my Sister's heart in a few hours, than all your sighs and humility, wou'd have obtained in as many months.

Sir Ch.

For which I thank you—and my present happiness receives a brighter glow from this illusion of misery—I'll fly and pour out my joy and gratitude, at the feet of my charming Harriet.

[going. Enter Bella.
Bel.

Oh, stay, stay—we may want your assistance. Here's your Father coming, George. Your repartee to Lady Dinah at dinner, spoilt her digestion—and she's been repre|senting you—that's all.

Geo.

I hope she represented her sneer too, which suffused with tears the loveliest eyes in the world. Could I do less than support hr against the ill-humour of that antiquated pedant?—By Jupiter, I'll draw her in colours to my Father, that shall make him shrink from the fate he is preparing for himself.

Enter HARGRAVE.
Mr. H.

Why, George, how's this?—Dy'e know what you've done?—you've affronted Lady Dinah.

Geo.

I did not design to affront her, Sir—I only meant to convince her that she shou'd not insult the amiable young Lady, whom Mr. Drummond placed under your protection.

Mr. H.

Don't tell me—amiable young Lady! How do you know what she is?—on the footing you are with Lady Dinah, let me tell you, if she had insulted an hundred young Ladies, you ought not to have seen it—at least, not resented it.

Page  46
Geo.

Pardon me, Sir—I did not conceive that Lady Di|nah shou'd have assumed in your house—at least till she be|comes your Wife—a right to—

Mr. H.

What's that you say, Sir?

Geo.

Indeed, Sir, to confess the truth, I am astonish'd at your partiality for that Lady—she is the last woman in the world, whom I could wish to see in the place of my amiable Mother.

Mr. H.

Your Mother!

Geo.

I shou'd think it a breach of my duty, to see you plunge yourself into so irretrievable a fate, without acquaint|ing you with my sentiments—if you saw her in the light I do, Sir—you would think on your wedding day with horror.

Mr. H.

Why—why—are you mad?

Geo.

If you wished to keep your engagements a secret, Sir—I am sorry I mention'd the affair, but—

Bel.

Oh—'tis no secret, Sir, I assure you—every body talks of it—for my part, I shall be quite happy in paying my respects to my new Aunt—I have put a coral string in my tambour already, that I may finish it time enough for her first Boy to wear at its christening.

Mr. H.

Look ye, Sir—I perceive that you have all that backwardness in obeying me that I expected, and, in order to conceal it, are attempting to throw the affair into ridicule—but I tell you it will not do—I know what I am about, and my commands shall not be disputed.

Geo.

Commands, Sir!—I am quite at a loss—

Mr. H.

Well then, to prevent further mistakes, I ac|quaint you, that I design Lady Dinah for your Wife, and not your Mother—and moreover, that the marriage shall take place in a very few days.

[going.]
—And, d'ye hear?—acquaint your pert Cousin, that the coral string will do for your first Boy.

Exit Hargrave.
[A long pause, staring at each other.
Bel.

So, so, so! and is this the end of all the closetings?

Sir Ch.

What the devil!—it must be all a dream.

Geo.

Wife!!—Lady Dinah my Wife!

Bel.

Ha, ha, ha! dear George, forgive me, but I must laugh, or I can't exist—ha, ha, ha! oh, my Cousin Dinah!

Geo.

Pray, Bella, spare your mirth, and tell me what I am to do—for I am incapable of thinking.

Bel.

Do! why run to Lady Dinah—fling yourself at her seet, tell her you had no idea of the bliss that was designed you—and that you'll make her the tenderest, fondest Hus|band in the world—ha, ha, ha!

Page  47
Geo.

Oh, Cousin, for once forget your sprightliness—I cannot bear it—Seymour, what am I to do?

Sir Ch.

My dear George, I pity you from my soul—but I know not what advice to give you.

Bel.

Well, then seriously I think—ha, ha, ha! but 'tis impossible to be serious—I am astonish'd you are not more struck with your Father's tender cares for you.

Geo.

Have you no mercy, Bella?

Bel.

You have none upon yourself, or instead of standing here with that countenance si triste, you wou'd be with Mr. Drummond.

Geo.

He is, indeed, my only resource—I'll fly to him this instant, and if it fails me—I am the most miserable man on earth.

[Exit.
Sir Cha.

What can induce Mr. Hargrave to sacrifice such a fellow as George, to a Lady Dinah?—Preposterous!

Bel.

Her rank and fortune—and I dread the lengths to which his obstinacy may carry him; he has no more respect for the divinity of Love, than for that of the Aegyptian Apis—Let us find Harriet, and tell her the strange story; she is not the only person, I fear, to whom it will be painful.

Sir Ch.

Is it possible that Lady Dinah, in the depth of her wisdom, can imagine such an union proper?

Bel.

Be merciful—Love has forc'd Heroes to forget their valour, and Philosophers their systems—no wonder he shou'd make a Woman forget her wrinkles.

[Exeunt.