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

I wish I had known it before matters had been carried so far—on a subject of this nature no woman can be affronted with impunity.

Geo.

I▪ am careless of her resentment—I will never be her husband—nor husband to any woman, but her to whom I have given my vows.

Mr. D.

Hah!—have you carried your affair so forward?

Geo.

Yes, Sir, I have made that enchanting Girl the offer of my heart and hand, and tho' her delicacy forbids her, while our families remain unknown to each other, to give the assent my heart aspires to—yet she allows me to atch hopes, that I would not forfeit to become master of the universe.

Mr. D.

There's a little of the ardor of youth in this—the ardor of youth, George—however, I will not blame you▪ for twenty years ago, I might have been tempted to enter the lists with you, myself.

Geo.

I shou'd fear less to meet a Hector in the field—in such a cause the fury of Achilles would inspire me—and I would bear off my lovely prize from amidst the embattled phalanx.

Mr. D.

Bravo—I like to see a man romantic in his love, and in his friendships—the virtues of him who is not an enthusiast in those noble passions, will never have strength to rise into fortitude, patriotism, and philanthropy—but here comes your Father, leave us.

Geo.

May the subject inspire you with resistless clo|quence!

[Exit.
Enter Mr. HARGRAVE.
Mr. D.

So, Mr. Hargrave.

Page  51
Mr. H.

So, Mr. Drummond—what, I guess your bu|siness.

Mr. D.

I suppose you do, and I hope you are prepared to hear me with temper.

Mr. H.

You'll talk to no purpose, for I am fixed, and therefore the temper will signify nothing.

Mr. D.

Strange infatuation! why must George be sacrificed to your ambition?—surely, it may be gratified without tying him to your Lady Dinah.

Mr. H.

How?

Mr. D.

By marrying her yourself—which, till now, I supposed to have been your design—and that wou'd have been sufficiently preposterous.

Mr. H.

What!—make me a second time the slave of hysterics, longings, and vapours!—no, no, I've got my neck out of the noose—catch it there again if you can—what, her Ladyship is not youthful enough for George, I suppose?

Mr. D.

True—but a more forcible objection is the dis|proportion in their minds—it wou'd not be less reason|able to expect a new element to be produced between earth and fire, than that felicity shou'd be the result of such a marriage.

Mr. H.

Psha, psha—what, do you suppose the whole world has the same idle notions about love and constancy, and stuff, that you have? D'ye think, if George was to become a widower at five and twenty, he'd whine all his life for the loss of his deary?

Mr. D.

Not if his deary, as you call her, should be a Lady Dinah; and if you marry him with no other view than to procure him a happy widowhood, I admire the election you have made—but, if she shou'd be like my lost love—my sainted Harriet—my—oh! Hargrave—

Mr. H.

Come, come, I am very sorry I have moved you so—I did not mean to affect you—come, give me your hand—'sbud, if a man has any thing to do with one of you fellows with your fine feelings, he must be as cau|tious as if he was carrying a candle in a gunpowder barrel.

Mr. D.

'Tis over, my friend—but when I can hear my Harriet named, without giving my heart a fond re|gret for what I have lost—reproach me—for then, I shall deserve it.

Mr. H.

Well, well—it shall be your own way—but come, let me convince you that you are wrong in this business

—'sbud! I tell you it has been the study of my life to make George a great man—I brought Lady Dinah here with no Page  52 other design—and now, when I thought the matter was brought to bear—when Lady Dinah had consented—and my Son, as I supposed, eager for the wedding—why!—'tis all a flam!

Mr. D.

My good friend—the motives, from which you wou'd sacrifice your Son's happiness, appear to me so weak.

Mr. H.

Weak!—why, I tell you, I have provided a wife for George, who will make him, perhaps, one of the first men in the kingdom.

Mr. D.

That is, she would make him a Court Dangler, an attendant on Ministers levees—one whose ambition is to be fostered with the cameleon food of smiles and nods, and who would receive a familiar squeeze with as much rapture as the plaudits of a nation—oh—shame—to transform an independent English Gentleman into such a being!

Mr. H.

Well, to cut the argument short—the bar|gain is struck, and George shall marry Lady Dinah, or never have an acre of my land, that's all.

Mr. D.

And he shall never possess a rood of mine, if he does.

[walking about]
Mr. H.
[aside]

There, I thought twou'd come to this: what a shame it is for a man to be so obstinate!—but hold—faith, if so, I may lose more than I get by the bargain—he'll stick to his word.

Enter JUSTICE.
Jus.

I am very much surprized, Mr. Drummond—Sir—that I can't be left alone in the discharge of my magis|terial duties, but must be continually thwarted by you.

Mr. D.

This interruption, Mr. Justice, is ill-timed, and rather out of rule—I cou'd wish you had chosen ano|ther opportunity.

Jus.

No opportunity like the present—no time like the present, Sir—you've cause, indeed, to be displeas'd with my not observing rules, when you are continually break|ing the laws.

Mr. D.

Ha, ha, ha! let us hear—what hen-roost robbery have you to lay to my charge now?

Jus.

Aye, Sir, you may think to turn it off with a joke, if you please—but for all that, I can prove you to be a bad member of society, for you counteract the wise de|signs of our legislators, and obstruct the operations of jus|tice—yes, Sir, you do.

Mr. H.

Don't be so warm—what is this affair?

Jus.

Why, the poacher, whom we committed last night, Page  53 Mr. Drummond has released, and given money to his family—How can we expect a due observance of our laws, when rascals find encouragement for breaking them?—Shall Lords and Commons in their wisdom assemble in Par|ment, to make laws about hares and partridges, only to be laughed at? Oh, 'tis abominable!

Mr. H.

Very true; and let me tell you, Mr. Drum|mond, it is very extraordinary that you will be conti|nually—

Mr. D.

Peace, ye men of justice—I have all the re|gard to the laws of my country, which it is the duty and interest of every member of society to possess—If the man had been a poacher, he shou'd not have been protected by me—the poor fellow found the hare in his garden, which she had considerably injured.

Mr. H.

Ho, ho—what, the rascal justifies himself! an unqualified man gives reasons for destroying a hare!—Zounds, if a gang of ruffians shou'd burn my house, wou'd you expect me to hear their reasons?

Jus.

Ah, there it works—Susan's my own

[aside.]
—there can be no reasons—if he had found her in his house, in his bed-chamber—in his bed, and offer'd to touch her—I'd pro|secute him for poaching.

Mr. D.

Oh, blush to avow such principles!

Mr. H.

Look'ee, Mr. Drummond, though you go|vern George with your whimsical notions, you sha'n't me.—I foresee how it will be as soon as I'm gone—my fences will be cut down—my meadows turned into common—my corn-fields laid open—my woods at the mercy of every man who carries an axe—and, oh—this is noble, this is great!

Mr. D.

Indeed, 'tis ridiculous.

Mr. H.

I'll take care that my property sha'n't fall a sa|crifice to such whimsies—I'll tye it up, I warrant me—and so, Justice, come along.

[going.]
Mr. D.

We were talking on a subject, Mr. Hargrave, of more importance, at present, than this; and, I beg you'll hear me farther.

Mr. H.

Enough has been said already, Mr. Drummond,—or if not, I'll give you one answer for all—I shall never think myself obliged to study the humour of a man, who thinks in such opposition to me; I have a humour of my own, which I am determined to gratify, in seeing George a great man—He shall marry Lady Dinah in two days; and all the fine reasoning in the world, you will see, has Page  54 less strength than my resolution—'Sbud, if I can't have the willing obedience of a Son, I'll enjoy the prerogatives of a Father—Come along, Justice.

[Exit.
Jus.

D'ye hear with what a fine firm tone he speaks?—This was only a political stroke, to restore the balance of power.

Mr. D.

Why don't you follow, Sir?

[Exit Justice.]
My son shall be a great Man!—To such a vanity as this, how many have been sacrificed!—He shall be great—The happi|ness of love, the felicities that flow from a suitable union, his heart shall be a stranger to—but he shall convey my name, deck'd with titles, to posterity, though, to purchase these distinctions, he lives a wretch—This is the silent language of the heart, which we hold up to ourselves as the voice of Reason and Prudence.

Enter EMILY.

Miss Morley!—Why this pensive air?

Em.

I am a little distress'd, Sir—the delicacy of the mo|tive which induced you to place me here, I am perfectly sen|sible of—yet—

Mr. D.

Yet—what, my dear Child?

Em.

Do not think me capricious, if I intreat you to take me back to your own house, till my uncle arrives—I cannot think of remaining here.

Mr. D.

Then 'tis as I hoped

[aside]
—What can have disgusted you?—Come, be frank; consider me as a friend, to whom you may safely open your heart.

Em.

Your goodness, Sir, is excessive—Shall I confess—the Lady who will soon have most right here, treats me unkindly.

Mr. D.

That you can't wonder at—Be assured, I will effectually defend you from her insults—But do you not pity poor George, for the fate his father designs him?

Em.

Yes—I do pity him.

Mr. D.

If I dared, I would go still further—I would hope, that, as his happiness depends on you—

Em.

Sir!

Mr. D.

Let me not alarm you—I am acquainted with his passion, and wish to know that 'tis not displeasing to you.

Em.

So circumstanced, Sir—what can I say?—He is destined to be the husband of another.

Mr. D.

It is enough—I bind myself to you from this moment, and promise to effect your happiness, if within the compass of my abilities or fortune. But, that I may know my task—favour me with the key to your Uncle's cha|racter.

Page  55
Em.

My Uncle possesses a heart, Sir, that would do him honour, if he would be guided by it—but unhappily he has conceived an opinion that his temper is too flexible—that he is too easily persuaded—and the consequence is—he'll never be persuaded at all.

Mr. D.

I am sorry to hear that—a man who is obstinate from such a mistake, must be in the most incurable stage of the disorder. However, we'll attack this man of might—his flexibility shall be besieged, and if it won't capitulate, we'll undermine it.

Em.

Ah, Sir! my Uncle is in a state of mind ill prepared for yielding—He returned from Spain with eager pleasure to his native country; but the disgust he has conceiv'd for the alteration of manners during his absence, has given him an impatience that you will hardly be able to combat.

Mr. D.

Take courage—let me now lead you back to your young companions—I am obliged to be absent a short time—but I'll watch over you, and, if possible, lead you to happiness.

[Exit Drummond leading Emily.
Enter JUSTICE.
[tipsy]
Jus.

Where the devil does my clerk stay with Burn! But I know I'm right—yes, yes, 'tis a clear case. By the statute Anno Primo Caroli Secundum—obtaining goods on false pretences, felony, with benefit—hum—with benefit.—Now obtaining entrance into houses, upon false preten|ces, must be worse—I have no doubt but it amounts to a burglary, and that I shall be authorized to commit—Ho! here they are! where is my clerk and Burn?

[Exit.
Enter Mr. HARGRAVE and Lady DINAH.
Mr. H.

Aye, aye, here's a pretty business—bringing this Girl into my house now is the consequence of Mr. Drum|mond's fine seelings—he will never take my advice—but I'll shew him who is best qualified to sist into an affair of this sort—and yet I am a little puzzled—a stroller—

Lady. D.

It is, doubtless, a strange story, Mr. Hargrave—and I beg that you will yourself question my servant con|cerning it.

Mr. H.

Why, what can she mean—what can her design be?

Lady D.

To you I shou'd imagine her design must be very obvious, 'though Mr. Drummond's penetration was so easily eluded—By assuming the airs and manners of a per|son of rank, she doubtless expects to impose on the cre|dulity of some young heir, and to procure—a jaunt to Scot|land—that, Mr. Hargrave, I take to be her design.

Page  56
Mr. H.

Hoh, ho, is it so—now I understand your Ladyship—if your man can prove what he asserts, be assured, Madam, she shall not stay in my house another moment—I'll young heir the baggage.

Lady D.

But consider, dear Mr. Hargrave, before you take any steps in this affair—that 'tis possible, we may have been deceived, for tho' my servant avows having been on the most intimate terms with her, he may be mistaken in her person, you know.

Har.

Oh, Madam, I shall inquire into that—she shall pick up no young heirs here, I warrant her—I shall see into that immediately.

[Going.
Enter Justice, leading in JARVIS by the button.
Just.

Here's the young man—the witness—I have brought him up in order to his examination.—Here,—do you stand there.—In the first place,—

[settling his wig]
in the first place, how old are you?

Har.

Fiddle de de—What signifies how old he is?

Just.

Why, yes it does—for—if he is not of age—

Har.

Psha, psha—I'll examine him myself. How long is it since you left the strollers you were engaged with?

Jar.

It is about two years since I had the honour of being taken into my Lady's service,—and at that time I left the company.

Har.

And did you leave the young woman in the compa|ny at that time?

Jar.

I did, Sir, and I have never seen her since till now.

Har.

I am strangely puzzled—I don't know what to think—

Just.

It is indeed a difficult case—a very difficult case—I remember Burn in the chapter on Vagrants—

Har.

Prithee, be silent—at this time you are not likely to clear up matters at all.

Just.

A Justice be silent!—a silent Justice!—a pretty thing indeed—are we not the very mouth of the law?

Har.

What does your Ladyship advise?

Lady D.

I advise!—I don't advise, Mr. Hargrave.

Just.

Why then, let the parties be confronted—

Har.

Aye—let the parties be confronted.

Jar.

Ay, ay, let us be confronted: if I once speak to her, she'll be too much dash'd to be able to deny the charge.

Enter Servant.
Ser.

Did your honour call?

Har.

Go and tell my daughter, that I desire she'll bring her visitant here—the young Lady.

Page  57
Jar.
[Aside]

Two glasses of brandy, and tremble yet!—I wish I had swallow'd the third bumper.

Lady D.

Now, Mr. Hargrave, it will be exceedingly im|proper, that I should be present at this interview, so I shall retire till the affair is settled.

[Going.
Mr. H.

'Sbud, my Lady, if you go, I'll go too—and the Justice may settle it as well as he can.

Jus.

Nay, if you are for that—I shall be gone in a crack—I won't be left in the lurch—not I.

Lady D.

Bless me! I am surprised—only consider what an imputation may be thrown on my character.

Enter HARRIET and EMILY.

So—now 'tis determin'd.

Har.

Robert inform'd us, Sir, that you requested our at|tendance.

Mr. H.

Yes, Harriet—I did send Robert—'tis about an odd affair—I had rather—but I don't know—pray, Madam—

[to Emily]
be so kind to tell us if you know any thing of that person—

[pointing to Jarvis.]
Em.

No, Sir, I believe not—I do not recollect—I may have seen him before.

Jar.

Oh, Miss Jenny—you don't recollect—what, you have forgot your old companion William Jarvis?

Em.

I do not remember indeed, that I was ever honour'd with such a companion—and the mistake you have made of my name, convinces me that I never was.

Jar.

Psha, psha—this won't do now—you was always a good actress, but behind the scenes, you know, we used to come down from our stilts, and talk in our own proper persons—Why sure, you will not pretend to forget our adventures at Colchester—the affair of the Blue Domino at Warwick—nor the plot which you and Mrs. Varnish laid against the Manager at Beconsfield.

Har.

Dear Sir, nothing is so evident, as that the man has mistaken this Lady for another person—I—hope you'll permit us to go without hearing any more of his impertinence.

Mr. H.

If he is mistaken, no excuses will be sufficient—I don't know what to say—'tis a perplexing business—but I wish you wou'd be so kind to answer the man, Madam.

Em.

Astonishment has kept me silent till now, Sir—and I must still be silent—for I have not yet been taught to make defences.

Page  58Enter GEORGE behind JARVIS.
Jar.

Dear Madam—why surely you have not forgot how often you have been my Juliet, and I your Alexander.

Geo.

Hark you, Sir,—if you dare utter another word to that Lady, I'll break every bone in your body—leave the room, rascal, this instant.

Mr. H.

You are too hot, George—he shall stay—and since things have gone so far, I'll sift the story to the bottom—If the young Gentlewoman is not what he represents her, she has nothing to fear—Speak boldly—where did you last see that Lady?

Jus.

Aye, speak boldly—give her a few more circum|stances, perhaps some of them may hit—People on occasions of this sort have generally short memories.

Geo.

Surely, Sir, you cannot allow these horrid—

Mr. H.

I do allow, Sir—and if you can't be silent, leave the room.

Jus.

Yes, Sir, or else you'll be committed for contempt of Court. Now, for your name, child, your name, and that of your family.

Em.

The name of my family, demanded on such an oc|casion, I think myself bound to conceal—my silence on that subject, hitherto arose from a point of delicacy—that motive is now greatly strengthened, and I refuse to discover a name—which my imprudent conduct has disgraced.

Jus.

Ho, ho—pray let the Lady be treated with respect—a person of Consequence—stands upon Constitutional ground—a Patriot, I'll assure you—she refuses to answer Inter|rogatories.

Geo.

Sir, I cannot be any longer a silent witness of these in|sults—Your presence, Madam, supports that rascal, or he shou'd feel the immediate effect of my resentment.

Lady D.

Your resentment will be unnecessary Sir, if he is not supported by truth—I shall take care that he is properly punish'd.

[Enter Servant.
Sir.

A Gentleman in a coach-and-six enquires for your honour—his name is Morley.

Em.

Hah—'tis my Uncle—I no longer dread his presence—now, Sir, you will be satisfied concerning my family.

[Exeunt Emily and Harriet.
Mr. H.
[to Lady D.]

Her Uncle—Heavens! Madam, what have we done!

[Exit Hargrave.
Lady D.

Done!—nothing—madness!

[aside.
Page  59
Jus.

So, so—the niece of a man who keeps a coach and six!—we are got into a wrong box here—

she can be no Patriot, our Patriots don't ride in coaches and six.

Geo.

Stay, Sir—we have not done with you yet—you must now exhibit another part in this scene—what says your oracle Burn to such a fellow as this, Justice?

Jus.

Ay, you rascal—'tis now your turn—thou art a vilifier, a cheat, an impostor—'tis a downright conspiracy—The niece of a man who keeps a coach and six!—why, how dost think to escape? thou'lt cut a noble figure in the pillory, Mr. "Alexander the Great."

Jar.

Sir,—your honours—I humbly crave pardon for my mistake—I cou'd have sworn the Lady had been my old ac|quaintance, the likeness is so strong.—But I humbly ask par|don—my Lady!—

Lady D.

Expect no protection from me, I discharge you from my service from this moment.—The dilemma into which you have deceived me excites my warmest resentment.

Geo.

Since Your Ladyship gives him up, he has no other protection—Who's there?

[Enter Servants]
Secure this fellow till I have leisure to inquire into the bottom of the affair—he is only the Agent, I am convinced.

Jar.
[Aside.]

Aye, Sir, but I am dumb—or we shall lose the reward.] I beseech your honour—'twas all a mistake.

Geo.

Take him away.

[Exeunt servants with Jarvis.
Lady D.
[Aside.]

Hah—are you suspicious, Sir!—I hope Susan has not put me in this fellow's power—I must be sure of that.

[Exit.
Jus.

'Tis a conspiracy, that's certain—and will, I believe, come under Scan. Mag.

for 'tis a most scandalous Libel—but hold—'gad-so—let me see—it can be no libel; 'tis a false story—if it had been true—aye, then indeed—if it had been true

—but I'll go home and consult Burn, and you shall know what he says. Egad, it won't be amiss to get out of this Morley's way.

[Aside.
[Exit Justice.
Geo.

Surely she must have been privy to this scandalous plot—but 'tis no matter—my fate is at its crisis.—Mr. Mor|ley's arrival fixes it.—At this moment my fortitude for|sakes me, and I tremble to meet the Man, on whose caprice depends, the value of my existence.