"SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER"
by Oliver Goldsmith
She Stoops To Conquer; Or, The Mistakes Of A Night.
To Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
Dear Sir,—By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety.
I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this performance. The undertaking a comedy not merely sentimental was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its various stages, always thought it so. However, I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.
I am, dear Sir, your most sincere friend and admirer,
By David Garrick, Esq.
Enter MR. WOODWARD, dressed in black, and holding a handkerchief to his eyes.
Excuse me, sirs, I pray—I can't yet speak— I'm crying now—and have been all the week. "'Tis not alone this mourning suit," good masters: "I've that within"—for which there are no plasters! Pray, would you know the reason why I'm crying? The Comic Muse, long sick, is now a-dying! And if she goes, my tears will never stop; For as a player, I can't squeeze out one drop: I am undone, that's all—shall lose my bread— I'd rather, but that's nothing—lose my head. When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier, Shuter and I shall be chief mourners here. To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed, Who deals in sentimentals, will succeed! Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents; We can as soon speak Greek as sentiments! Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up. We now and then take down a hearty cup. What shall we do? If Comedy forsake us, They'll turn us out, and no one else will take us. But why can't I be moral?—Let me try— My heart thus pressing—fixed my face and eye— With a sententious look, that nothing means, (Faces are blocks in sentimental scenes) Thus I begin: "All is not gold that glitters, "Pleasure seems sweet, but proves a glass of bitters. "When Ignorance enters, Folly is at hand: "Learning is better far than house and land. "Let not your virtue trip; who trips may stumble, "And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble."
I give it up—morals won't do for me; To make you laugh, I must play tragedy. One hope remains—hearing the maid was ill, A Doctor comes this night to show his skill. To cheer her heart, and give your muscles motion, He, in Five Draughts prepar'd, presents a potion: A kind of magic charm—for be assur'd, If you will swallow it, the maid is cur'd: But desperate the Doctor, and her case is, If you reject the dose, and make wry faces! This truth he boasts, will boast it while he lives, No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he gives. Should he succeed, you'll give him his degree; If not, within he will receive no fee! The College YOU, must his pretensions back, Pronounce him Regular, or dub him Quack.
SIR CHARLES MARLOW Mr. Gardner. YOUNG MARLOW (His Son) Mr. Lee Lewes. HARDCASTLE Mr. Shuter. HASTINGS Mr. Dubellamy. TONY LUMPKIN Mr. Quick. DIGGORY Mr. Saunders.
MRS. HARDCASTLE Mrs. Green. MISS HARDCASTLE Mrs. Bulkley. MISS NEVILLE Mrs. Kniveton. MAID Miss Williams.
LANDLORD, SERVANTS, Etc. Etc.
ACT THE FIRST.
SCENE—A Chamber in an old-fashioned House.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MR. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbour Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month's polishing every winter.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home! In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, your times were fine times indeed; you have been telling us of them for many a long year. Here we live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.
HARDCASTLE. And I love it. I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and I believe, Dorothy (taking her hand), you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're for ever at your Dorothys and your old wifes. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make money of that.
HARDCASTLE. Let me see; twenty added to twenty makes just fifty and seven.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle; I was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet.
HARDCASTLE. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you have taught him finely.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a year.
HARDCASTLE. Learning, quotha! a mere composition of tricks and mischief.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Humour, my dear; nothing but humour. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humour.
HARDCASTLE. I'd sooner allow him a horse-pond. If burning the footmen's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens be humour, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popt my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may do for him?
HARDCASTLE. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle. No, no; the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Anybody that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. He coughs sometimes.
HARDCASTLE. Yes, when his liquor goes the wrong way.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I'm actually afraid of his lungs.
HARDCASTLE. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking trumpet—(Tony hallooing behind the scenes)—O, there he goes—a very consumptive figure, truly.
Enter TONY, crossing the stage.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee?
TONY. I'm in haste, mother; I cannot stay.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. You shan't venture out this raw evening, my dear; you look most shockingly.
TONY. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
HARDCASTLE. Ay; the alehouse, the old place: I thought so.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. A low, paltry set of fellows.
TONY. Not so low, neither. There's Dick Muggins the exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, Little Aminadab that grinds the music box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
TONY. As for disappointing them, I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (detaining him.) You shan't go.
TONY. I will, I tell you.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I say you shan't.
TONY. We'll see which is strongest, you or I. [Exit, hauling her out.]
HARDCASTLE. (solus.) Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate! the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE.
HARDCASTLE. Blessings on my pretty innocence! drest out as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress to please you.
HARDCASTLE. Well, remember, I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the bye, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I protest, sir, I don't comprehend your meaning.
HARDCASTLE. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself shortly after.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
HARDCASTLE. Depend upon it, child, I'll never control your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Is he?
HARDCASTLE. Very generous.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I believe I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. Young and brave.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm sure I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. And very handsome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My dear papa, say no more, (kissing his hand), he's mine; I'll have him.
HARDCASTLE. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Eh! you have frozen me to death again. That word RESERVED has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
HARDCASTLE. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very feature in his character that first struck me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. He must have more striking features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so everything as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so?—Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
HARDCASTLE. Bravely resolved! In the mean time I'll go prepare the servants for his reception: as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster. [Exit.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Alone). Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a flutter. Young, handsome: these he put last; but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved and sheepish; that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't I—But I vow I'm disposing of the husband before I have secured the lover.
Enter MISS NEVILLE.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there anything whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face to-day?
MISS NEVILLE. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look again—bless me!—sure no accident has happened among the canary birds or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last novel been too moving?
MISS HARDCASTLE. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened—I can scarce get it out—I have been threatened with a lover.
MISS NEVILLE. And his name—
MISS HARDCASTLE. Is Marlow.
MISS NEVILLE. Indeed!
MISS HARDCASTLE. The son of Sir Charles Marlow.
MISS NEVILLE. As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him when we lived in town.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never.
MISS NEVILLE. He's a very singular character, I assure you. Among women of reputation and virtue he is the modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of another stamp: you understand me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. An odd character indeed. I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony as usual?
MISS NEVILLE. I have just come from one of our agreeable tete-a-tetes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of the family.
MISS NEVILLE. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son; and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed upon another.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so.
MISS NEVILLE. It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons! Courage is necessary, as our affairs are critical.
MISS HARDCASTLE. "Would it were bed-time, and all were well." [Exeunt.]
SCENE—An Alehouse Room. Several shabby Fellows with punch and tobacco. TONY at the head of the table, a little higher than the rest, a mallet in his hand.
OMNES. Hurrea! hurrea! hurrea! bravo!
FIRST FELLOW Now, gentlemen, silence for a song. The 'squire is going to knock himself down for a song.
OMNES. Ay, a song, a song!
TONY. Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a song I made upon this alehouse, the Three Pigeons.
Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain With grammar, and nonsense, and learning, Good liquor, I stoutly maintain, Gives GENUS a better discerning. Let them brag of their heathenish gods, Their Lethes, their Styxes, and Stygians, Their Quis, and their Quaes, and their Quods, They're all but a parcel of Pigeons. Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
When methodist preachers come down, A-preaching that drinking is sinful, I'll wager the rascals a crown, They always preach best with a skinful. But when you come down with your pence, For a slice of their scurvy religion, I'll leave it to all men of sense, But you, my good friend, are the Pigeon. Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
Then come, put the jorum about, And let us be merry and clever, Our hearts and our liquors are stout, Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever. Let some cry up woodcock or hare, Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons; But of all the GAY birds in the air, Here's a health to the Three Jolly Pigeons. Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
OMNES. Bravo, bravo!
FIRST FELLOW. The 'squire has got spunk in him.
SECOND FELLOW. I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never gives us nothing that's low.
THIRD FELLOW. O damn anything that's low, I cannot bear it.
FOURTH FELLOW. The genteel thing is the genteel thing any time: if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation accordingly.
THIRD FELLOW. I likes the maxum of it, Master Muggins. What, though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear ever dances but to the very genteelest of tunes; "Water Parted," or "The minuet in Ariadne."
SECOND FELLOW. What a pity it is the 'squire is not come to his own. It would be well for all the publicans within ten miles round of him.
TONY. Ecod, and so it would, Master Slang. I'd then show what it was to keep choice of company.
SECOND FELLOW. O he takes after his own father for that. To be sure old 'Squire Lumpkin was the finest gentleman I ever set my eyes on. For winding the straight horn, or beating a thicket for a hare, or a wench, he never had his fellow. It was a saying in the place, that he kept the best horses, dogs, and girls, in the whole county.
TONY. Ecod, and when I'm of age, I'll be no bastard, I promise you. I have been thinking of Bet Bouncer and the miller's grey mare to begin with. But come, my boys, drink about and be merry, for you pay no reckoning. Well, Stingo, what's the matter?
LANDLORD. There be two gentlemen in a post-chaise at the door. They have lost their way upo' the forest; and they are talking something about Mr. Hardcastle.
TONY. As sure as can be, one of them must be the gentleman that's coming down to court my sister. Do they seem to be Londoners?
LANDLORD. I believe they may. They look woundily like Frenchmen.
TONY. Then desire them to step this way, and I'll set them right in a twinkling. (Exit Landlord.) Gentlemen, as they mayn't be good enough company for you, step down for a moment, and I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon. [Exeunt mob.]
TONY. (solus). Father-in-law has been calling me whelp and hound this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged upon the old grumbletonian. But then I'm afraid—afraid of what? I shall soon be worth fifteen hundred a year, and let him frighten me out of THAT if he can.
Enter Landlord, conducting MARLOW and HASTINGS.
MARLOW. What a tedious uncomfortable day have we had of it! We were told it was but forty miles across the country, and we have come above threescore.
HASTINGS. And all, Marlow, from that unaccountable reserve of yours, that would not let us inquire more frequently on the way.
MARLOW. I own, Hastings, I am unwilling to lay myself under an obligation to every one I meet, and often stand the chance of an unmannerly answer.
HASTINGS. At present, however, we are not likely to receive any answer.
TONY. No offence, gentlemen. But I'm told you have been inquiring for one Mr. Hardcastle in these parts. Do you know what part of the country you are in?
HASTINGS. Not in the least, sir, but should thank you for information.
TONY. Nor the way you came?
HASTINGS. No, sir: but if you can inform us——
TONY. Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I have to inform you is, that—you have lost your way.
MARLOW. We wanted no ghost to tell us that.
TONY. Pray, gentlemen, may I be so bold so as to ask the place from whence you came?
MARLOW. That's not necessary towards directing us where we are to go.
TONY. No offence; but question for question is all fair, you know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a cross-grained, old-fashioned, whimsical fellow, with an ugly face, a daughter, and a pretty son?
HASTINGS. We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the family you mention.
TONY. The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping, talkative maypole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable youth, that everybody is fond of.
MARLOW. Our information differs in this. The daughter is said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother's apron-string.
TONY. He-he-hem!—Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you is, that you won't reach Mr. Hardcastle's house this night, I believe.
TONY. It's a damn'd long, dark, boggy, dirty, dangerous way. Stingo, tell the gentlemen the way to Mr. Hardcastle's! (Winking upon the Landlord.) Mr. Hardcastle's, of Quagmire Marsh, you understand me.
LANDLORD. Master Hardcastle's! Lock-a-daisy, my masters, you're come a deadly deal wrong! When you came to the bottom of the hill, you should have crossed down Squash Lane.
MARLOW. Cross down Squash Lane!
LANDLORD. Then you were to keep straight forward, till you came to four roads.
MARLOW. Come to where four roads meet?
TONY. Ay; but you must be sure to take only one of them.
MARLOW. O, sir, you're facetious.
TONY. Then keeping to the right, you are to go sideways till you come upon Crackskull Common: there you must look sharp for the track of the wheel, and go forward till you come to farmer Murrain's barn. Coming to the farmer's barn, you are to turn to the right, and then to the left, and then to the right about again, till you find out the old mill—
MARLOW. Zounds, man! we could as soon find out the longitude!
HASTINGS. What's to be done, Marlow?
MARLOW. This house promises but a poor reception; though perhaps the landlord can accommodate us.
LANDLORD. Alack, master, we have but one spare bed in the whole house.
TONY. And to my knowledge, that's taken up by three lodgers already. (After a pause, in which the rest seem disconcerted.) I have hit it. Don't you think, Stingo, our landlady could accommodate the gentlemen by the fire-side, with——three chairs and a bolster?
HASTINGS. I hate sleeping by the fire-side.
MARLOW. And I detest your three chairs and a bolster.
TONY. You do, do you? then, let me see—what if you go on a mile further, to the Buck's Head; the old Buck's Head on the hill, one of the best inns in the whole county?
HASTINGS. O ho! so we have escaped an adventure for this night, however.
LANDLORD. (apart to TONY). Sure, you ben't sending them to your father's as an inn, be you?
TONY. Mum, you fool you. Let THEM find that out. (To them.) You have only to keep on straight forward, till you come to a large old house by the road side. You'll see a pair of large horns over the door. That's the sign. Drive up the yard, and call stoutly about you.
HASTINGS. Sir, we are obliged to you. The servants can't miss the way?
TONY. No, no: but I tell you, though, the landlord is rich, and going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, saving your presence, he! he! he! He'll be for giving you his company; and, ecod, if you mind him, he'll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of peace.
LANDLORD. A troublesome old blade, to be sure; but a keeps as good wines and beds as any in the whole country.
MARLOW. Well, if he supplies us with these, we shall want no farther connexion. We are to turn to the right, did you say?
TONY. No, no; straight forward. I'll just step myself, and show you a piece of the way. (To the Landlord.) Mum!
LANDLORD. Ah, bless your heart, for a sweet, pleasant—damn'd mischievous son of a whore. [Exeunt.]
ACT THE SECOND.
SCENE—An old-fashioned House.
Enter HARDCASTLE, followed by three or four awkward Servants.
HARDCASTLE. Well, I hope you are perfect in the table exercise I have been teaching you these three days. You all know your posts and your places, and can show that you have been used to good company, without ever stirring from home.
OMNES. Ay, ay.
HARDCASTLE. When company comes you are not to pop out and stare, and then run in again, like frightened rabbits in a warren.
OMNES. No, no.
HARDCASTLE. You, Diggory, whom I have taken from the barn, are to make a show at the side-table; and you, Roger, whom I have advanced from the plough, are to place yourself behind my chair. But you're not to stand so, with your hands in your pockets. Take your hands from your pockets, Roger; and from your head, you blockhead you. See how Diggory carries his hands. They're a little too stiff, indeed, but that's no great matter.
DIGGORY. Ay, mind how I hold them. I learned to hold my hands this way when I was upon drill for the militia. And so being upon drill——
HARDCASTLE. You must not be so talkative, Diggory. You must be all attention to the guests. You must hear us talk, and not think of talking; you must see us drink, and not think of drinking; you must see us eat, and not think of eating.
DIGGORY. By the laws, your worship, that's parfectly unpossible. Whenever Diggory sees yeating going forward, ecod, he's always wishing for a mouthful himself.
HARDCASTLE. Blockhead! Is not a belly-full in the kitchen as good as a belly-full in the parlour? Stay your stomach with that reflection.
DIGGORY. Ecod, I thank your worship, I'll make a shift to stay my stomach with a slice of cold beef in the pantry.
HARDCASTLE. Diggory, you are too talkative.—Then, if I happen to say a good thing, or tell a good story at table, you must not all burst out a-laughing, as if you made part of the company.
DIGGORY. Then ecod your worship must not tell the story of Ould Grouse in the gun-room: I can't help laughing at that—he! he! he!—for the soul of me. We have laughed at that these twenty years—ha! ha! ha!
HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! The story is a good one. Well, honest Diggory, you may laugh at that—but still remember to be attentive. Suppose one of the company should call for a glass of wine, how will you behave? A glass of wine, sir, if you please (to DIGGORY).—Eh, why don't you move?
DIGGORY. Ecod, your worship, I never have courage till I see the eatables and drinkables brought upo' the table, and then I'm as bauld as a lion.
HARDCASTLE. What, will nobody move?
FIRST SERVANT. I'm not to leave this pleace.
SECOND SERVANT. I'm sure it's no pleace of mine.
THIRD SERVANT. Nor mine, for sartain.
DIGGORY. Wauns, and I'm sure it canna be mine.
HARDCASTLE. You numskulls! and so while, like your betters, you are quarrelling for places, the guests must be starved. O you dunces! I find I must begin all over again——But don't I hear a coach drive into the yard? To your posts, you blockheads. I'll go in the mean time and give my old friend's son a hearty reception at the gate. [Exit HARDCASTLE.]
DIGGORY. By the elevens, my pleace is gone quite out of my head.
ROGER. I know that my pleace is to be everywhere.
FIRST SERVANT. Where the devil is mine?
SECOND SERVANT. My pleace is to be nowhere at all; and so I'ze go about my business. [Exeunt Servants, running about as if frightened, different ways.]
Enter Servant with candles, showing in MARLOW and HASTINGS.
SERVANT. Welcome, gentlemen, very welcome! This way.
HASTINGS. After the disappointments of the day, welcome once more, Charles, to the comforts of a clean room and a good fire. Upon my word, a very well-looking house; antique but creditable.
MARLOW. The usual fate of a large mansion. Having first ruined the master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to levy contributions as an inn.
HASTINGS. As you say, we passengers are to be taxed to pay all these fineries. I have often seen a good sideboard, or a marble chimney-piece, though not actually put in the bill, inflame a reckoning confoundedly.
MARLOW. Travellers, George, must pay in all places: the only difference is, that in good inns you pay dearly for luxuries; in bad inns you are fleeced and starved.
HASTINGS. You have lived very much among them. In truth, I have been often surprised, that you who have seen so much of the world, with your natural good sense, and your many opportunities, could never yet acquire a requisite share of assurance.
MARLOW. The Englishman's malady. But tell me, George, where could I have learned that assurance you talk of? My life has been chiefly spent in a college or an inn, in seclusion from that lovely part of the creation that chiefly teach men confidence. I don't know that I was ever familiarly acquainted with a single modest woman—except my mother—But among females of another class, you know——
HASTINGS. Ay, among them you are impudent enough of all conscience.
MARLOW. They are of US, you know.
HASTINGS. But in the company of women of reputation I never saw such an idiot, such a trembler; you look for all the world as if you wanted an opportunity of stealing out of the room.
MARLOW. Why, man, that's because I do want to steal out of the room. Faith, I have often formed a resolution to break the ice, and rattle away at any rate. But I don't know how, a single glance from a pair of fine eyes has totally overset my resolution. An impudent fellow may counterfeit modesty; but I'll be hanged if a modest man can ever counterfeit impudence.
HASTINGS. If you could but say half the fine things to them that I have heard you lavish upon the bar-maid of an inn, or even a college bed-maker——
MARLOW. Why, George, I can't say fine things to them; they freeze, they petrify me. They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but, to me, a modest woman, drest out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.
HASTINGS. Ha! ha! ha! At this rate, man, how can you ever expect to marry?
MARLOW. Never; unless, as among kings and princes, my bride were to be courted by proxy. If, indeed, like an Eastern bridegroom, one were to be introduced to a wife he never saw before, it might be endured. But to go through all the terrors of a formal courtship, together with the episode of aunts, grandmothers, and cousins, and at last to blurt out the broad staring question of, Madam, will you marry me? No, no, that's a strain much above me, I assure you.
HASTINGS. I pity you. But how do you intend behaving to the lady you are come down to visit at the request of your father?
MARLOW. As I behave to all other ladies. Bow very low, answer yes or no to all her demands—But for the rest, I don't think I shall venture to look in her face till I see my father's again.
HASTINGS. I'm surprised that one who is so warm a friend can be so cool a lover.
MARLOW. To be explicit, my dear Hastings, my chief inducement down was to be instrumental in forwarding your happiness, not my own. Miss Neville loves you, the family don't know you; as my friend you are sure of a reception, and let honour do the rest.
HASTINGS. My dear Marlow! But I'll suppress the emotion. Were I a wretch, meanly seeking to carry off a fortune, you should be the last man in the world I would apply to for assistance. But Miss Neville's person is all I ask, and that is mine, both from her deceased father's consent, and her own inclination.
MARLOW. Happy man! You have talents and art to captivate any woman. I'm doom'd to adore the sex, and yet to converse with the only part of it I despise. This stammer in my address, and this awkward prepossessing visage of mine, can never permit me to soar above the reach of a milliner's 'prentice, or one of the duchesses of Drury-lane. Pshaw! this fellow here to interrupt us.
HARDCASTLE. Gentlemen, once more you are heartily welcome. Which is Mr. Marlow? Sir, you are heartily welcome. It's not my way, you see, to receive my friends with my back to the fire. I like give them a hearty reception in the old style at my gate. I like to see their horses and trunks taken care of.
MARLOW. (Aside.) He has got our names from the servants already. (To him.) We approve your caution and hospitality, sir. (To HASTINGS.) I have been thinking, George, of changing our travelling dresses in the morning. I am grown confoundedly ashamed of mine.
HARDCASTLE. I beg, Mr. Marlow, you'll use no ceremony in this house.
HASTINGS. I fancy, Charles, you're right: the first blow is half the battle. I intend opening the campaign with the white and gold.
HARDCASTLE. Mr. Marlow—Mr. Hastings—gentlemen—pray be under no constraint in this house. This is Liberty-hall, gentlemen. You may do just as you please here.
MARLOW. Yet, George, if we open the campaign too fiercely at first, we may want ammunition before it is over. I think to reserve the embroidery to secure a retreat.
HARDCASTLE. Your talking of a retreat, Mr. Marlow, puts me in mind of the Duke of Marlborough, when we went to besiege Denain. He first summoned the garrison——
MARLOW. Don't you think the ventre d'or waistcoat will do with the plain brown?
HARDCASTLE. He first summoned the garrison, which might consist of about five thousand men——
HASTINGS. I think not: brown and yellow mix but very poorly.
HARDCASTLE. I say, gentlemen, as I was telling you, be summoned the garrison, which might consist of about five thousand men——
MARLOW. The girls like finery.
HARDCASTLE. Which might consist of about five thousand men, well appointed with stores, ammunition, and other implements of war. Now, says the Duke of Marlborough to George Brooks, that stood next to him—you must have heard of George Brooks—I'll pawn my dukedom, says he, but I take that garrison without spilling a drop of blood. So——
MARLOW. What, my good friend, if you gave us a glass of punch in the mean time; it would help us to carry on the siege with vigour.
HARDCASTLE. Punch, sir! (Aside.) This is the most unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with.
MARLOW. Yes, sir, punch. A glass of warm punch, after our journey, will be comfortable. This is Liberty-hall, you know.
HARDCASTLE. Here's a cup, sir.
MARLOW. (Aside.) So this fellow, in his Liberty-hall, will only let us have just what he pleases.
HARDCASTLE. (Taking the cup.) I hope you'll find it to your mind. I have prepared it with my own hands, and I believe you'll own the ingredients are tolerable. Will you be so good as to pledge me, sir? Here, Mr. Marlow, here is to our better acquaintance. [Drinks.]
MARLOW. (Aside.) A very impudent fellow this! but he's a character, and I'll humour him a little. Sir, my service to you. [Drinks.]
HASTINGS. (Aside.) I see this fellow wants to give us his company, and forgets that he's an innkeeper, before he has learned to be a gentleman.
MARLOW. From the excellence of your cup, my old friend, I suppose you have a good deal of business in this part of the country. Warm work, now and then, at elections, I suppose.
HARDCASTLE. No, sir, I have long given that work over. Since our betters have hit upon the expedient of electing each other, there is no business "for us that sell ale."
HASTINGS. So, then, you have no turn for politics, I find.
HARDCASTLE. Not in the least. There was a time, indeed, I fretted myself about the mistakes of government, like other people; but finding myself every day grow more angry, and the government growing no better, I left it to mend itself. Since that, I no more trouble my head about Hyder Ally, or Ally Cawn, than about Ally Croker. Sir, my service to you.
HASTINGS. So that with eating above stairs, and drinking below, with receiving your friends within, and amusing them without, you lead a good pleasant bustling life of it.
HARDCASTLE. I do stir about a great deal, that's certain. Half the differences of the parish are adjusted in this very parlour.
MARLOW. (After drinking.) And you have an argument in your cup, old gentleman, better than any in Westminster-hall.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, young gentleman, that, and a little philosophy.
MARLOW. (Aside.) Well, this is the first time I ever heard of an innkeeper's philosophy.
HASTINGS. So then, like an experienced general, you attack them on every quarter. If you find their reason manageable, you attack it with your philosophy; if you find they have no reason, you attack them with this. Here's your health, my philosopher. [Drinks.]
HARDCASTLE. Good, very good, thank you; ha! ha! Your generalship puts me in mind of Prince Eugene, when he fought the Turks at the battle of Belgrade. You shall hear.
MARLOW. Instead of the battle of Belgrade, I believe it's almost time to talk about supper. What has your philosophy got in the house for supper?
HARDCASTLE. For supper, sir! (Aside.) Was ever such a request to a man in his own house?
MARLOW. Yes, sir, supper, sir; I begin to feel an appetite. I shall make devilish work to-night in the larder, I promise you.
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Such a brazen dog sure never my eyes beheld. (To him.) Why, really, sir, as for supper I can't well tell. My Dorothy and the cook-maid settle these things between them. I leave these kind of things entirely to them.
MARLOW. You do, do you?
HARDCASTLE. Entirely. By the bye, I believe they are in actual consultation upon what's for supper this moment in the kitchen.
MARLOW. Then I beg they'll admit me as one of their privy council. It's a way I have got. When I travel, I always chose to regulate my own supper. Let the cook be called. No offence I hope, sir.
HARDCASTLE. O no, sir, none in the least; yet I don't know how; our Bridget, the cook-maid, is not very communicative upon these occasions. Should we send for her, she might scold us all out of the house.
HASTINGS. Let's see your list of the larder then. I ask it as a favour. I always match my appetite to my bill of fare.
MARLOW. (To HARDCASTLE, who looks at them with surprise.) Sir, he's very right, and it's my way too.
HARDCASTLE. Sir, you have a right to command here. Here, Roger, bring us the bill of fare for to-night's supper: I believe it's drawn out—Your manner, Mr. Hastings, puts me in mind of my uncle, Colonel Wallop. It was a saying of his, that no man was sure of his supper till he had eaten it.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) All upon the high rope! His uncle a colonel! we shall soon hear of his mother being a justice of the peace. But let's hear the bill of fare.
MARLOW. (Perusing.) What's here? For the first course; for the second course; for the dessert. The devil, sir, do you think we have brought down a whole Joiners' Company, or the corporation of Bedford, to eat up such a supper? Two or three little things, clean and comfortable, will do.
HASTINGS. But let's hear it.
MARLOW. (Reading.) For the first course, at the top, a pig and prune sauce.
HASTINGS. Damn your pig, I say.
MARLOW. And damn your prune sauce, say I.
HARDCASTLE. And yet, gentlemen, to men that are hungry, pig with prune sauce is very good eating.
MARLOW. At the bottom, a calf's tongue and brains.
HASTINGS. Let your brains be knocked out, my good sir, I don't like them.
MARLOW. Or you may clap them on a plate by themselves. I do.
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Their impudence confounds me. (To them.) Gentlemen, you are my guests, make what alterations you please. Is there anything else you wish to retrench or alter, gentlemen?
MARLOW. Item, a pork pie, a boiled rabbit and sausages, a Florentine, a shaking pudding, and a dish of tiff—taff—taffety cream.
HASTINGS. Confound your made dishes; I shall be as much at a loss in this house as at a green and yellow dinner at the French ambassador's table. I'm for plain eating.
HARDCASTLE. I'm sorry, gentlemen, that I have nothing you like, but if there be anything you have a particular fancy to——
MARLOW. Why, really, sir, your bill of fare is so exquisite, that any one part of it is full as good as another. Send us what you please. So much for supper. And now to see that our beds are aired, and properly taken care of.
HARDCASTLE. I entreat you'll leave that to me. You shall not stir a step.
MARLOW. Leave that to you! I protest, sir, you must excuse me, I always look to these things myself.
HARDCASTLE. I must insist, sir, you'll make yourself easy on that head.
MARLOW. You see I'm resolved on it. (Aside.) A very troublesome fellow this, as I ever met with.
HARDCASTLE. Well, sir, I'm resolved at least to attend you. (Aside.) This may be modern modesty, but I never saw anything look so like old-fashioned impudence. [Exeunt MARLOW and HARDCASTLE.]
HASTINGS. (Alone.) So I find this fellow's civilities begin to grow troublesome. But who can be angry at those assiduities which are meant to please him? Ha! what do I see? Miss Neville, by all that's happy!
Enter MISS NEVILLE.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear Hastings! To what unexpected good fortune, to what accident, am I to ascribe this happy meeting?
HASTINGS. Rather let me ask the same question, as I could never have hoped to meet my dearest Constance at an inn.
MISS NEVILLE. An inn! sure you mistake: my aunt, my guardian, lives here. What could induce you to think this house an inn?
HASTINGS. My friend, Mr. Marlow, with whom I came down, and I, have been sent here as to an inn, I assure you. A young fellow, whom we accidentally met at a house hard by, directed us hither.
MISS NEVILLE. Certainly it must be one of my hopeful cousin's tricks, of whom you have heard me talk so often; ha! ha! ha!
HASTINGS. He whom your aunt intends for you? he of whom I have such just apprehensions?
MISS NEVILLE. You have nothing to fear from him, I assure you. You'd adore him, if you knew how heartily he despises me. My aunt knows it too, and has undertaken to court me for him, and actually begins to think she has made a conquest.
HASTINGS. Thou dear dissembler! You must know, my Constance, I have just seized this happy opportunity of my friend's visit here to get admittance into the family. The horses that carried us down are now fatigued with their journey, but they'll soon be refreshed; and then, if my dearest girl will trust in her faithful Hastings, we shall soon be landed in France, where even among slaves the laws of marriage are respected.
MISS NEVILLE. I have often told you, that though ready to obey you, I yet should leave my little fortune behind with reluctance. The greatest part of it was left me by my uncle, the India director, and chiefly consists in jewels. I have been for some time persuading my aunt to let me wear them. I fancy I'm very near succeeding. The instant they are put into my possession, you shall find me ready to make them and myself yours.
HASTINGS. Perish the baubles! Your person is all I desire. In the mean time, my friend Marlow must not be let into his mistake. I know the strange reserve of his temper is such, that if abruptly informed of it, he would instantly quit the house before our plan was ripe for execution.
MISS NEVILLE. But how shall we keep him in the deception? Miss Hardcastle is just returned from walking; what if we still continue to deceive him?——This, this way——[They confer.]
MARLOW. The assiduities of these good people teaze me beyond bearing. My host seems to think it ill manners to leave me alone, and so he claps not only himself, but his old-fashioned wife, on my back. They talk of coming to sup with us too; and then, I suppose, we are to run the gantlet through all the rest of the family.—What have we got here?
HASTINGS. My dear Charles! Let me congratulate you!—The most fortunate accident!—Who do you think is just alighted?
MARLOW. Cannot guess.
HASTINGS. Our mistresses, boy, Miss Hardcastle and Miss Neville. Give me leave to introduce Miss Constance Neville to your acquaintance. Happening to dine in the neighbourhood, they called on their return to take fresh horses here. Miss Hardcastle has just stept into the next room, and will be back in an instant. Wasn't it lucky? eh!
MARLOW. (Aside.) I have been mortified enough of all conscience, and here comes something to complete my embarrassment.
HASTINGS. Well, but wasn't it the most fortunate thing in the world?
MARLOW. Oh! yes. Very fortunate—a most joyful encounter—But our dresses, George, you know are in disorder—What if we should postpone the happiness till to-morrow?—To-morrow at her own house—It will be every bit as convenient—and rather more respectful—To-morrow let it be. [Offering to go.]
MISS NEVILLE. By no means, sir. Your ceremony will displease her. The disorder of your dress will show the ardour of your impatience. Besides, she knows you are in the house, and will permit you to see her.
MARLOW. O! the devil! how shall I support it? Hem! hem! Hastings, you must not go. You are to assist me, you know. I shall be confoundedly ridiculous. Yet, hang it! I'll take courage. Hem!
HASTINGS. Pshaw, man! it's but the first plunge, and all's over. She's but a woman, you know.
MARLOW. And, of all women, she that I dread most to encounter.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE, as returned from walking, a bonnet, etc.
HASTINGS. (Introducing them.) Miss Hardcastle, Mr. Marlow. I'm proud of bringing two persons of such merit together, that only want to know, to esteem each other.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Now for meeting my modest gentleman with a demure face, and quite in his own manner. (After a pause, in which he appears very uneasy and disconcerted.) I'm glad of your safe arrival, sir. I'm told you had some accidents by the way.
MARLOW. Only a few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, madam, a good many accidents, but should be sorry—madam—or rather glad of any accidents—that are so agreeably concluded. Hem!
HASTINGS. (To him.) You never spoke better in your whole life. Keep it up, and I'll insure you the victory.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm afraid you flatter, sir. You that have seen so much of the finest company, can find little entertainment in an obscure corner of the country.
MARLOW. (Gathering courage.) I have lived, indeed, in the world, madam; but I have kept very little company. I have been but an observer upon life, madam, while others were enjoying it.
MISS NEVILLE. But that, I am told, is the way to enjoy it at last.
HASTINGS. (To him.) Cicero never spoke better. Once more, and you are confirmed in assurance for ever.
MARLOW. (To him.) Hem! Stand by me, then, and when I'm down, throw in a word or two, to set me up again.
MISS HARDCASTLE. An observer, like you, upon life were, I fear, disagreeably employed, since you must have had much more to censure than to approve.
MARLOW. Pardon me, madam. I was always willing to be amused. The folly of most people is rather an object of mirth than uneasiness.
HASTINGS. (To him.) Bravo, bravo. Never spoke so well in your whole life. Well, Miss Hardcastle, I see that you and Mr. Marlow are going to be very good company. I believe our being here will but embarrass the interview.
MARLOW. Not in the least, Mr. Hastings. We like your company of all things. (To him.) Zounds! George, sure you won't go? how can you leave us?
HASTINGS. Our presence will but spoil conversation, so we'll retire to the next room. (To him.) You don't consider, man, that we are to manage a little tete-a-tete of our own. [Exeunt.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. (after a pause). But you have not been wholly an observer, I presume, sir: the ladies, I should hope, have employed some part of your addresses.
MARLOW. (Relapsing into timidity.) Pardon me, madam, I—I—I—as yet have studied—only—to—deserve them.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And that, some say, is the very worst way to obtain them.
MARLOW. Perhaps so, madam. But I love to converse only with the more grave and sensible part of the sex. But I'm afraid I grow tiresome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave conversation myself; I could hear it for ever. Indeed, I have often been surprised how a man of sentiment could ever admire those light airy pleasures, where nothing reaches the heart.
MARLOW. It's——a disease——of the mind, madam. In the variety of tastes there must be some who, wanting a relish——for——um—a—um.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I understand you, sir. There must be some, who, wanting a relish for refined pleasures, pretend to despise what they are incapable of tasting.
MARLOW. My meaning, madam, but infinitely better expressed. And I can't help observing——a——
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Who could ever suppose this fellow impudent upon some occasions? (To him.) You were going to observe, sir——
MARLOW. I was observing, madam—I protest, madam, I forget what I was going to observe.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) I vow and so do I. (To him.) You were observing, sir, that in this age of hypocrisy—something about hypocrisy, sir.
MARLOW. Yes, madam. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who upon strict inquiry do not—a—a—a—
MISS HARDCASTLE. I understand you perfectly, sir.
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad! and that's more than I do myself.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You mean that in this hypocritical age there are few that do not condemn in public what they practise in private, and think they pay every debt to virtue when they praise it.
MARLOW. True, madam; those who have most virtue in their mouths, have least of it in their bosoms. But I'm sure I tire you, madam.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Not in the least, sir; there's something so agreeable and spirited in your manner, such life and force—pray, sir, go on.
MARLOW. Yes, madam. I was saying——that there are some occasions, when a total want of courage, madam, destroys all the——and puts us——upon a—a—a—
MISS HARDCASTLE. I agree with you entirely; a want of courage upon some occasions assumes the appearance of ignorance, and betrays us when we most want to excel. I beg you'll proceed.
MARLOW. Yes, madam. Morally speaking, madam—But I see Miss Neville expecting us in the next room. I would not intrude for the world.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I protest, sir, I never was more agreeably entertained in all my life. Pray go on.
MARLOW. Yes, madam, I was——But she beckons us to join her. Madam, shall I do myself the honour to attend you?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Well, then, I'll follow.
MARLOW. (Aside.) This pretty smooth dialogue has done for me. [Exit.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Alone.) Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such a sober, sentimental interview? I'm certain he scarce looked in my face the whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his unaccountable bashfulness, is pretty well too. He has good sense, but then so buried in his fears, that it fatigues one more than ignorance. If I could teach him a little confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a piece of service. But who is that somebody?—That, faith, is a question I can scarce answer. [Exit.]
Enter TONY and MISS NEVILLE, followed by MRS. HARDCASTLE and HASTINGS.
TONY. What do you follow me for, cousin Con? I wonder you're not ashamed to be so very engaging.
MISS NEVILLE. I hope, cousin, one may speak to one's own relations, and not be to blame.
TONY. Ay, but I know what sort of a relation you want to make me, though; but it won't do. I tell you, cousin Con, it won't do; so I beg you'll keep your distance, I want no nearer relationship. [She follows, coquetting him to the back scene.]
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well! I vow, Mr. Hastings, you are very entertaining. There's nothing in the world I love to talk of so much as London, and the fashions, though I was never there myself.
HASTINGS. Never there! You amaze me! From your air and manner, I concluded you had been bred all your life either at Ranelagh, St. James's, or Tower Wharf.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. O! sir, you're only pleased to say so. We country persons can have no manner at all. I'm in love with the town, and that serves to raise me above some of our neighbouring rustics; but who can have a manner, that has never seen the Pantheon, the Grotto Gardens, the Borough, and such places where the nobility chiefly resort? All I can do is to enjoy London at second-hand. I take care to know every tete-a-tete from the Scandalous Magazine, and have all the fashions, as they come out, in a letter from the two Miss Rickets of Crooked Lane. Pray how do you like this head, Mr. Hastings?
HASTINGS. Extremely elegant and degagee, upon my word, madam. Your friseur is a Frenchman, I suppose?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I protest, I dressed it myself from a print in the Ladies' Memorandum-book for the last year.
HASTINGS. Indeed! Such a head in a side-box at the play-house would draw as many gazers as my Lady Mayoress at a City Ball.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I vow, since inoculation began, there is no such thing to be seen as a plain woman; so one must dress a little particular, or one may escape in the crowd.
HASTINGS. But that can never be your case, madam, in any dress. (Bowing.)
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yet, what signifies my dressing when I have such a piece of antiquity by my side as Mr. Hardcastle: all I can say will never argue down a single button from his clothes. I have often wanted him to throw off his great flaxen wig, and where he was bald, to plaster it over, like my Lord Pately, with powder.
HASTINGS. You are right, madam; for, as among the ladies there are none ugly, so among the men there are none old.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. But what do you think his answer was? Why, with his usual Gothic vivacity, he said I only wanted him to throw off his wig, to convert it into a tete for my own wearing.
HASTINGS. Intolerable! At your age you may wear what you please, and it must become you.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pray, Mr. Hastings, what do you take to be the most fashionable age about town?
HASTINGS. Some time ago, forty was all the mode; but I'm told the ladies intend to bring up fifty for the ensuing winter.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Seriously. Then I shall be too young for the fashion.
HASTINGS. No lady begins now to put on jewels till she's past forty. For instance, Miss there, in a polite circle, would be considered as a child, as a mere maker of samplers.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. And yet Mrs. Niece thinks herself as much a woman, and is as fond of jewels, as the oldest of us all.
HASTINGS. Your niece, is she? And that young gentleman, a brother of yours, I should presume?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My son, sir. They are contracted to each other. Observe their little sports. They fall in and out ten times a day, as if they were man and wife already. (To them.) Well, Tony, child, what soft things are you saying to your cousin Constance this evening?
TONY. I have been saying no soft things; but that it's very hard to be followed about so. Ecod! I've not a place in the house now that's left to myself, but the stable.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Never mind him, Con, my dear. He's in another story behind your back.
MISS NEVILLE. There's something generous in my cousin's manner. He falls out before faces to be forgiven in private.
TONY. That's a damned confounded—crack.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ah! he's a sly one. Don't you think they are like each other about the mouth, Mr. Hastings? The Blenkinsop mouth to a T. They're of a size too. Back to back, my pretties, that Mr. Hastings may see you. Come, Tony.
TONY. You had as good not make me, I tell you. (Measuring.)
MISS NEVILLE. O lud! he has almost cracked my head.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. O, the monster! For shame, Tony. You a man, and behave so!
TONY. If I'm a man, let me have my fortin. Ecod! I'll not be made a fool of no longer.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Is this, ungrateful boy, all that I'm to get for the pains I have taken in your education? I that have rocked you in your cradle, and fed that pretty mouth with a spoon! Did not I work that waistcoat to make you genteel? Did not I prescribe for you every day, and weep while the receipt was operating?
TONY. Ecod! you had reason to weep, for you have been dosing me ever since I was born. I have gone through every receipt in the Complete Huswife ten times over; and you have thoughts of coursing me through Quincy next spring. But, ecod! I tell you, I'll not be made a fool of no longer.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Wasn't it all for your good, viper? Wasn't it all for your good?
TONY. I wish you'd let me and my good alone, then. Snubbing this way when I'm in spirits. If I'm to have any good, let it come of itself; not to keep dinging it, dinging it into one so.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. That's false; I never see you when you're in spirits. No, Tony, you then go to the alehouse or kennel. I'm never to be delighted with your agreeable wild notes, unfeeling monster!
TONY. Ecod! mamma, your own notes are the wildest of the two.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was ever the like? But I see he wants to break my heart, I see he does.
HASTINGS. Dear madam, permit me to lecture the young gentleman a little. I'm certain I can persuade him to his duty.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, I must retire. Come, Constance, my love. You see, Mr. Hastings, the wretchedness of my situation: was ever poor woman so plagued with a dear sweet, pretty, provoking, undutiful boy? [Exeunt MRS. HARDCASTLE and MISS NEVILLE.]
TONY. (Singing.) "There was a young man riding by, and fain would have his will. Rang do didlo dee."——Don't mind her. Let her cry. It's the comfort of her heart. I have seen her and sister cry over a book for an hour together; and they said they liked the book the better the more it made them cry.
HASTINGS. Then you're no friend to the ladies, I find, my pretty young gentleman?
TONY. That's as I find 'um.
HASTINGS. Not to her of your mother's choosing, I dare answer? And yet she appears to me a pretty well-tempered girl.
TONY. That's because you don't know her as well as I. Ecod! I know every inch about her; and there's not a more bitter cantankerous toad in all Christendom.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) Pretty encouragement this for a lover!
TONY. I have seen her since the height of that. She has as many tricks as a hare in a thicket, or a colt the first day's breaking.
HASTINGS. To me she appears sensible and silent.
TONY. Ay, before company. But when she's with her playmate, she's as loud as a hog in a gate.
HASTINGS. But there is a meek modesty about her that charms me.
TONY. Yes, but curb her never so little, she kicks up, and you're flung in a ditch.
HASTINGS. Well, but you must allow her a little beauty.—Yes, you must allow her some beauty.
TONY. Bandbox! She's all a made-up thing, mun. Ah! could you but see Bet Bouncer of these parts, you might then talk of beauty. Ecod, she has two eyes as black as sloes, and cheeks as broad and red as a pulpit cushion. She'd make two of she.
HASTINGS. Well, what say you to a friend that would take this bitter bargain off your hands?
HASTINGS. Would you thank him that would take Miss Neville, and leave you to happiness and your dear Betsy?
TONY. Ay; but where is there such a friend, for who would take her?
HASTINGS. I am he. If you but assist me, I'll engage to whip her off to France, and you shall never hear more of her.
TONY. Assist you! Ecod I will, to the last drop of my blood. I'll clap a pair of horses to your chaise that shall trundle you off in a twinkling, and may he get you a part of her fortin beside, in jewels, that you little dream of.
HASTINGS. My dear 'squire, this looks like a lad of spirit.
TONY. Come along, then, and you shall see more of my spirit before you have done with me.
(Singing.) "We are the boys That fears no noise Where the thundering cannons roar." [Exeunt.]
ACT THE THIRD.
Enter HARDCASTLE, alone.
HARDCASTLE. What could my old friend Sir Charles mean by recommending his son as the modestest young man in town? To me he appears the most impudent piece of brass that ever spoke with a tongue. He has taken possession of the easy chair by the fire-side already. He took off his boots in the parlour, and desired me to see them taken care of. I'm desirous to know how his impudence affects my daughter. She will certainly be shocked at it.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE, plainly dressed.
HARDCASTLE. Well, my Kate, I see you have changed your dress, as I bade you; and yet, I believe, there was no great occasion.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I find such a pleasure, sir, in obeying your commands, that I take care to observe them without ever debating their propriety.
HARDCASTLE. And yet, Kate, I sometimes give you some cause, particularly when I recommended my modest gentleman to you as a lover to-day.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You taught me to expect something extraordinary, and I find the original exceeds the description.
HARDCASTLE. I was never so surprised in my life! He has quite confounded all my faculties!
MISS HARDCASTLE. I never saw anything like it: and a man of the world too!
HARDCASTLE. Ay, he learned it all abroad—what a fool was I, to think a young man could learn modesty by travelling. He might as soon learn wit at a masquerade.
MISS HARDCASTLE. It seems all natural to him.
HARDCASTLE. A good deal assisted by bad company and a French dancing-master.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sure you mistake, papa! A French dancing-master could never have taught him that timid look—that awkward address—that bashful manner—
HARDCASTLE. Whose look? whose manner, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Mr. Marlow's: his mauvaise honte, his timidity, struck me at the first sight.
HARDCASTLE. Then your first sight deceived you; for I think him one of the most brazen first sights that ever astonished my senses.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sure, sir, you rally! I never saw any one so modest.
HARDCASTLE. And can you be serious? I never saw such a bouncing, swaggering puppy since I was born. Bully Dawson was but a fool to him.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Surprising! He met me with a respectful bow, a stammering voice, and a look fixed on the ground.
HARDCASTLE. He met me with a loud voice, a lordly air, and a familiarity that made my blood freeze again.
MISS HARDCASTLE. He treated me with diffidence and respect; censured the manners of the age; admired the prudence of girls that never laughed; tired me with apologies for being tiresome; then left the room with a bow, and "Madam, I would not for the world detain you."
HARDCASTLE. He spoke to me as if he knew me all his life before; asked twenty questions, and never waited for an answer; interrupted my best remarks with some silly pun; and when I was in my best story of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, he asked if I had not a good hand at making punch. Yes, Kate, he asked your father if he was a maker of punch!
MISS HARDCASTLE. One of us must certainly be mistaken.
HARDCASTLE. If he be what he has shown himself, I'm determined he shall never have my consent.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And if he be the sullen thing I take him, he shall never have mine.
HARDCASTLE. In one thing then we are agreed—to reject him.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes: but upon conditions. For if you should find him less impudent, and I more presuming—if you find him more respectful, and I more importunate—I don't know—the fellow is well enough for a man—Certainly, we don't meet many such at a horse-race in the country.
HARDCASTLE. If we should find him so——But that's impossible. The first appearance has done my business. I'm seldom deceived in that.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And yet there may be many good qualities under that first appearance.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, when a girl finds a fellow's outside to her taste, she then sets about guessing the rest of his furniture. With her, a smooth face stands for good sense, and a genteel figure for every virtue.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, a conversation begun with a compliment to my good sense, won't end with a sneer at my understanding?
HARDCASTLE. Pardon me, Kate. But if young Mr. Brazen can find the art of reconciling contradictions, he may please us both, perhaps.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And as one of us must be mistaken, what if we go to make further discoveries?
HARDCASTLE. Agreed. But depend on't I'm in the right.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And depend on't I'm not much in the wrong. [Exeunt.]
Enter Tony, running in with a casket.
TONY. Ecod! I have got them. Here they are. My cousin Con's necklaces, bobs and all. My mother shan't cheat the poor souls out of their fortin neither. O! my genus, is that you?
HASTINGS. My dear friend, how have you managed with your mother? I hope you have amused her with pretending love for your cousin, and that you are willing to be reconciled at last? Our horses will be refreshed in a short time, and we shall soon be ready to set off.
TONY. And here's something to bear your charges by the way (giving the casket); your sweetheart's jewels. Keep them: and hang those, I say, that would rob you of one of them.
HASTINGS. But how have you procured them from your mother?
TONY. Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no fibs. I procured them by the rule of thumb. If I had not a key to every drawer in mother's bureau, how could I go to the alehouse so often as I do? An honest man may rob himself of his own at any time.
HASTINGS. Thousands do it every day. But to be plain with you; Miss Neville is endeavouring to procure them from her aunt this very instant. If she succeeds, it will be the most delicate way at least of obtaining them.
TONY. Well, keep them, till you know how it will be. But I know how it will be well enough; she'd as soon part with the only sound tooth in her head.
HASTINGS. But I dread the effects of her resentment, when she finds she has lost them.
TONY. Never you mind her resentment, leave ME to manage that. I don't value her resentment the bounce of a cracker. Zounds! here they are. Morrice! Prance! [Exit HASTINGS.]
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MISS NEVILLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Indeed, Constance, you amaze me. Such a girl as you want jewels! It will be time enough for jewels, my dear, twenty years hence, when your beauty begins to want repairs.
MISS NEVILLE. But what will repair beauty at forty, will certainly improve it at twenty, madam.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yours, my dear, can admit of none. That natural blush is beyond a thousand ornaments. Besides, child, jewels are quite out at present. Don't you see half the ladies of our acquaintance, my Lady Kill-daylight, and Mrs. Crump, and the rest of them, carry their jewels to town, and bring nothing but paste and marcasites back.
MISS NEVILLE. But who knows, madam, but somebody that shall be nameless would like me best with all my little finery about me?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Consult your glass, my dear, and then see if, with such a pair of eyes, you want any better sparklers. What do you think, Tony, my dear? does your cousin Con. want any jewels in your eyes to set off her beauty?
TONY. That's as thereafter may be.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear aunt, if you knew how it would oblige me.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. A parcel of old-fashioned rose and table-cut things. They would make you look like the court of King Solomon at a puppet-show. Besides, I believe, I can't readily come at them. They may be missing, for aught I know to the contrary.
TONY. (Apart to MRS. HARDCASTLE.) Then why don't you tell her so at once, as she's so longing for them? Tell her they're lost. It's the only way to quiet her. Say they're lost, and call me to bear witness.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Apart to TONY.) You know, my dear, I'm only keeping them for you. So if I say they're gone, you'll bear me witness, will you? He! he! he!
TONY. Never fear me. Ecod! I'll say I saw them taken out with my own eyes.
MISS NEVILLE. I desire them but for a day, madam. Just to be permitted to show them as relics, and then they may be locked up again.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. To be plain with you, my dear Constance, if I could find them you should have them. They're missing, I assure you. Lost, for aught I know; but we must have patience wherever they are.
MISS NEVILLE. I'll not believe it! this is but a shallow pretence to deny me. I know they are too valuable to be so slightly kept, and as you are to answer for the loss—
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Don't be alarmed, Constance. If they be lost, I must restore an equivalent. But my son knows they are missing, and not to be found.
TONY. That I can bear witness to. They are missing, and not to be found; I'll take my oath on't.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. You must learn resignation, my dear; for though we lose our fortune, yet we should not lose our patience. See me, how calm I am.
MISS NEVILLE. Ay, people are generally calm at the misfortunes of others.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Now I wonder a girl of your good sense should waste a thought upon such trumpery. We shall soon find them; and in the mean time you shall make use of my garnets till your jewels be found.
MISS NEVILLE. I detest garnets.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. The most becoming things in the world to set off a clear complexion. You have often seen how well they look upon me. You SHALL have them. [Exit.]
MISS NEVILLE. I dislike them of all things. You shan't stir.—Was ever anything so provoking, to mislay my own jewels, and force me to wear her trumpery?
TONY. Don't be a fool. If she gives you the garnets, take what you can get. The jewels are your own already. I have stolen them out of her bureau, and she does not know it. Fly to your spark, he'll tell you more of the matter. Leave me to manage her.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear cousin!
TONY. Vanish. She's here, and has missed them already. [Exit MISS NEVILLE.] Zounds! how she fidgets and spits about like a Catherine wheel.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Confusion! thieves! robbers! we are cheated, plundered, broke open, undone.
TONY. What's the matter, what's the matter, mamma? I hope nothing has happened to any of the good family!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. We are robbed. My bureau has been broken open, the jewels taken out, and I'm undone.
TONY. Oh! is that all? Ha! ha! ha! By the laws, I never saw it acted better in my life. Ecod, I thought you was ruined in earnest, ha! ha! ha!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Why, boy, I AM ruined in earnest. My bureau has been broken open, and all taken away.
TONY. Stick to that: ha! ha! ha! stick to that. I'll bear witness, you know; call me to bear witness.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I tell you, Tony, by all that's precious, the jewels are gone, and I shall be ruined for ever.
TONY. Sure I know they're gone, and I'm to say so.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My dearest Tony, but hear me. They're gone, I say.
TONY. By the laws, mamma, you make me for to laugh, ha! ha! I know who took them well enough, ha! ha! ha!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was there ever such a blockhead, that can't tell the difference between jest and earnest? I tell you I'm not in jest, booby.
TONY. That's right, that's right; you must be in a bitter passion, and then nobody will suspect either of us. I'll bear witness that they are gone.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was there ever such a cross-grained brute, that won't hear me? Can you bear witness that you're no better than a fool? Was ever poor woman so beset with fools on one hand, and thieves on the other?
TONY. I can bear witness to that.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Bear witness again, you blockhead you, and I'll turn you out of the room directly. My poor niece, what will become of her? Do you laugh, you unfeeling brute, as if you enjoyed my distress?
TONY. I can bear witness to that.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Do you insult me, monster? I'll teach you to vex your mother, I will.
TONY. I can bear witness to that. [He runs off, she follows him.]
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE and Maid.
MISS HARDCASTLE. What an unaccountable creature is that brother of mine, to send them to the house as an inn! ha! ha! I don't wonder at his impudence.
MAID. But what is more, madam, the young gentleman, as you passed by in your present dress, asked me if you were the bar-maid. He mistook you for the bar-maid, madam.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did he? Then as I live, I'm resolved to keep up the delusion. Tell me, Pimple, how do you like my present dress? Don't you think I look something like Cherry in the Beaux Stratagem?
MAID. It's the dress, madam, that every lady wears in the country, but when she visits or receives company.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And are you sure he does not remember my face or person?
MAID. Certain of it.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I vow, I thought so; for, though we spoke for some time together, yet his fears were such, that he never once looked up during the interview. Indeed, if he had, my bonnet would have kept him from seeing me.
MAID. But what do you hope from keeping him in his mistake?
MISS HARDCASTLE. In the first place I shall be seen, and that is no small advantage to a girl who brings her face to market. Then I shall perhaps make an acquaintance, and that's no small victory gained over one who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex. But my chief aim is, to take my gentleman off his guard, and, like an invisible champion of romance, examine the giant's force before I offer to combat.
MAID. But you are sure you can act your part, and disguise your voice so that he may mistake that, as he has already mistaken your person?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never fear me. I think I have got the true bar cant—Did your honour call?—Attend the Lion there—Pipes and tobacco for the Angel.—The Lamb has been outrageous this half-hour.
MAID. It will do, madam. But he's here. [Exit MAID.]
MARLOW. What a bawling in every part of the house! I have scarce a moment's repose. If I go to the best room, there I find my host and his story: if I fly to the gallery, there we have my hostess with her curtsey down to the ground. I have at last got a moment to myself, and now for recollection. [Walks and muses.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did you call, sir? Did your honour call?
MARLOW. (Musing.) As for Miss Hardcastle, she's too grave and sentimental for me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did your honour call? (She still places herself before him, he turning away.)
MARLOW. No, child. (Musing.) Besides, from the glimpse I had of her, I think she squints.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm sure, sir, I heard the bell ring.
MARLOW. No, no. (Musing.) I have pleased my father, however, by coming down, and I'll to-morrow please myself by returning. [Taking out his tablets, and perusing.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. Perhaps the other gentleman called, sir?
MARLOW. I tell you, no.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I should be glad to know, sir. We have such a parcel of servants!
MARLOW. No, no, I tell you. (Looks full in her face.) Yes, child, I think I did call. I wanted—I wanted—I vow, child, you are vastly handsome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. O la, sir, you'll make one ashamed.
MARLOW. Never saw a more sprightly malicious eye. Yes, yes, my dear, I did call. Have you got any of your—a—what d'ye call it in the house?
MISS HARDCASTLE. No, sir, we have been out of that these ten days.
MARLOW. One may call in this house, I find, to very little purpose. Suppose I should call for a taste, just by way of a trial, of the nectar of your lips; perhaps I might be disappointed in that too.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Nectar! nectar! That's a liquor there's no call for in these parts. French, I suppose. We sell no French wines here, sir.
MARLOW. Of true English growth, I assure you.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then it's odd I should not know it. We brew all sorts of wines in this house, and I have lived here these eighteen years.
MARLOW. Eighteen years! Why, one would think, child, you kept the bar before you were born. How old are you?
MISS HARDCASTLE. O! sir, I must not tell my age. They say women and music should never be dated.
MARLOW. To guess at this distance, you can't be much above forty (approaching). Yet, nearer, I don't think so much (approaching). By coming close to some women they look younger still; but when we come very close indeed—(attempting to kiss her).
MISS HARDCASTLE. Pray, sir, keep your distance. One would think you wanted to know one's age, as they do horses, by mark of mouth.
MARLOW. I protest, child, you use me extremely ill. If you keep me at this distance, how is it possible you and I can ever be acquainted?
MISS HARDCASTLE. And who wants to be acquainted with you? I want no such acquaintance, not I. I'm sure you did not treat Miss Hardcastle, that was here awhile ago, in this obstropalous manner. I'll warrant me, before her you looked dashed, and kept bowing to the ground, and talked, for all the world, as if you was before a justice of peace.
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad, she has hit it, sure enough! (To her.) In awe of her, child? Ha! ha! ha! A mere awkward squinting thing; no, no. I find you don't know me. I laughed and rallied her a little; but I was unwilling to be too severe. No, I could not be too severe, curse me!
MISS HARDCASTLE. O! then, sir, you are a favourite, I find, among the ladies?
MARLOW. Yes, my dear, a great favourite. And yet hang me, I don't see what they find in me to follow. At the Ladies' Club in town I'm called their agreeable Rattle. Rattle, child, is not my real name, but one I'm known by. My name is Solomons; Mr. Solomons, my dear, at your service. (Offering to salute her.)
MISS HARDCASTLE. Hold, sir; you are introducing me to your club, not to yourself. And you're so great a favourite there, you say?
MARLOW. Yes, my dear. There's Mrs. Mantrap, Lady Betty Blackleg, the Countess of Sligo, Mrs. Langhorns, old Miss Biddy Buckskin, and your humble servant, keep up the spirit of the place.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then it's a very merry place, I suppose?
MARLOW. Yes, as merry as cards, supper, wine, and old women can make us.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And their agreeable Rattle, ha! ha! ha!
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad! I don't quite like this chit. She looks knowing, methinks. You laugh, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. I can't but laugh, to think what time they all have for minding their work or their family.
MARLOW. (Aside.) All's well; she don't laugh at me. (To her.) Do you ever work, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, sure. There's not a screen or quilt in the whole house but what can bear witness to that.
MARLOW. Odso! then you must show me your embroidery. I embroider and draw patterns myself a little. If you want a judge of your work, you must apply to me. (Seizing her hand.)
MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, but the colours do not look well by candlelight. You shall see all in the morning. (Struggling.)
MARLOW. And why not now, my angel? Such beauty fires beyond the power of resistance.—Pshaw! the father here! My old luck: I never nicked seven that I did not throw ames ace three times following. [Exit MARLOW.]
Enter HARDCASTLE, who stands in surprise.
HARDCASTLE. So, madam. So, I find THIS is your MODEST lover. This is your humble admirer, that kept his eyes fixed on the ground, and only adored at humble distance. Kate, Kate, art thou not ashamed to deceive your father so?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never trust me, dear papa, but he's still the modest man I first took him for; you'll be convinced of it as well as I.
HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, I believe his impudence is infectious! Didn't I see him seize your hand? Didn't I see him haul you about like a milkmaid? And now you talk of his respect and his modesty, forsooth!
MISS HARDCASTLE. But if I shortly convince you of his modesty, that he has only the faults that will pass off with time, and the virtues that will improve with age, I hope you'll forgive him.
HARDCASTLE. The girl would actually make one run mad! I tell you, I'll not be convinced. I am convinced. He has scarce been three hours in the house, and he has already encroached on all my prerogatives. You may like his impudence, and call it modesty; but my son-in-law, madam, must have very different qualifications.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sir, I ask but this night to convince you.
HARDCASTLE. You shall not have half the time, for I have thoughts of turning him out this very hour.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Give me that hour then, and I hope to satisfy you.
HARDCASTLE. Well, an hour let it be then. But I'll have no trifling with your father. All fair and open, do you mind me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, you have ever found that I considered your commands as my pride; for your kindness is such, that my duty as yet has been inclination. [Exeunt.]
ACT THE FOURTH.
Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.
HASTINGS. You surprise me; Sir Charles Marlow expected here this night! Where have you had your information?
MISS NEVILLE. You may depend upon it. I just saw his letter to Mr. Hardcastle, in which he tells him he intends setting out a few hours after his son.
HASTINGS. Then, my Constance, all must be completed before he arrives. He knows me; and should he find me here, would discover my name, and perhaps my designs, to the rest of the family.
MISS NEVILLE. The jewels, I hope, are safe?
HASTINGS. Yes, yes, I have sent them to Marlow, who keeps the keys of our baggage. In the mean time, I'll go to prepare matters for our elopement. I have had the 'squire's promise of a fresh pair of horses; and if I should not see him again, will write him further directions. [Exit.]
MISS NEVILLE. Well! success attend you. In the mean time I'll go and amuse my aunt with the old pretence of a violent passion for my cousin. [Exit.]
Enter MARLOW, followed by a Servant.
MARLOW. I wonder what Hastings could mean by sending me so valuable a thing as a casket to keep for him, when he knows the only place I have is the seat of a post-coach at an inn-door. Have you deposited the casket with the landlady, as I ordered you? Have you put it into her own hands?
SERVANT. Yes, your honour.
MARLOW. She said she'd keep it safe, did she?
SERVANT. Yes, she said she'd keep it safe enough; she asked me how I came by it; and she said she had a great mind to make me give an account of myself. [Exit Servant.]
MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! They're safe, however. What an unaccountable set of beings have we got amongst! This little bar-maid though runs in my head most strangely, and drives out the absurdities of all the rest of the family. She's mine, she must be mine, or I'm greatly mistaken.
HASTINGS. Bless me! I quite forgot to tell her that I intended to prepare at the bottom of the garden. Marlow here, and in spirits too!
MARLOW. Give me joy, George! Crown me, shadow me with laurels! Well, George, after all, we modest fellows don't want for success among the women.
HASTINGS. Some women, you mean. But what success has your honour's modesty been crowned with now, that it grows so insolent upon us?
MARLOW. Didn't you see the tempting, brisk, lovely little thing, that runs about the house with a bunch of keys to its girdle?
HASTINGS. Well, and what then?
MARLOW. She's mine, you rogue you. Such fire, such motion, such eyes, such lips; but, egad! she would not let me kiss them though.
HASTINGS. But are you so sure, so very sure of her?
MARLOW. Why, man, she talked of showing me her work above stairs, and I am to improve the pattern.
HASTINGS. But how can you, Charles, go about to rob a woman of her honour?
MARLOW. Pshaw! pshaw! We all know the honour of the bar-maid of an inn. I don't intend to rob her, take my word for it; there's nothing in this house I shan't honestly pay for.
HASTINGS. I believe the girl has virtue.
MARLOW. And if she has, I should be the last man in the world that would attempt to corrupt it.
HASTINGS. You have taken care, I hope, of the casket I sent you to lock up? Is it in safety?
MARLOW. Yes, yes. It's safe enough. I have taken care of it. But how could you think the seat of a post-coach at an inn-door a place of safety? Ah! numskull! I have taken better precautions for you than you did for yourself——I have——
MARLOW. I have sent it to the landlady to keep for you.
HASTINGS. To the landlady!
MARLOW. The landlady.
HASTINGS. You did?
MARLOW. I did. She's to be answerable for its forthcoming, you know.
HASTINGS. Yes, she'll bring it forth with a witness.
MARLOW. Wasn't I right? I believe you'll allow that I acted prudently upon this occasion.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) He must not see my uneasiness.
MARLOW. You seem a little disconcerted though, methinks. Sure nothing has happened?
HASTINGS. No, nothing. Never was in better spirits in all my life. And so you left it with the landlady, who, no doubt, very readily undertook the charge.
MARLOW. Rather too readily. For she not only kept the casket, but, through her great precaution, was going to keep the messenger too. Ha! ha! ha!
HASTINGS. He! he! he! They're safe, however.
MARLOW. As a guinea in a miser's purse.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) So now all hopes of fortune are at an end, and we must set off without it. (To him.) Well, Charles, I'll leave you to your meditations on the pretty bar-maid, and, he! he! he! may you be as successful for yourself, as you have been for me! [Exit.]
MARLOW. Thank ye, George: I ask no more. Ha! ha! ha!
HARDCASTLE. I no longer know my own house. It's turned all topsy-turvy. His servants have got drunk already. I'll bear it no longer; and yet, from my respect for his father, I'll be calm. (To him.) Mr. Marlow, your servant. I'm your very humble servant. (Bowing low.)
MARLOW. Sir, your humble servant. (Aside.) What's to be the wonder now?
HARDCASTLE. I believe, sir, you must be sensible, sir, that no man alive ought to be more welcome than your father's son, sir. I hope you think so?
MARLOW. I do from my soul, sir. I don't want much entreaty. I generally make my father's son welcome wherever he goes.
HARDCASTLE. I believe you do, from my soul, sir. But though I say nothing to your own conduct, that of your servants is insufferable. Their manner of drinking is setting a very bad example in this house, I assure you.
MARLOW. I protest, my very good sir, that is no fault of mine. If they don't drink as they ought, they are to blame. I ordered them not to spare the cellar. I did, I assure you. (To the side scene.) Here, let one of my servants come up. (To him.) My positive directions were, that as I did not drink myself, they should make up for my deficiencies below.
HARDCASTLE. Then they had your orders for what they do? I'm satisfied!
MARLOW. They had, I assure you. You shall hear from one of themselves.
Enter Servant, drunk.
MARLOW. You, Jeremy! Come forward, sirrah! What were my orders? Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what you thought fit, for the good of the house?
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) I begin to lose my patience.
JEREMY. Please your honour, liberty and Fleet-street for ever! Though I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man. I'll drink for no man before supper, sir, damme! Good liquor will sit upon a good supper, but a good supper will not sit upon——hiccup——on my conscience, sir.
MARLOW. You see, my old friend, the fellow is as drunk as he can possibly be. I don't know what you'd have more, unless you'd have the poor devil soused in a beer-barrel.
HARDCASTLE. Zounds! he'll drive me distracted, if I contain myself any longer. Mr. Marlow—Sir; I have submitted to your insolence for more than four hours, and I see no likelihood of its coming to an end. I'm now resolved to be master here, sir; and I desire that you and your drunken pack may leave my house directly.
MARLOW. Leave your house!——Sure you jest, my good friend! What? when I'm doing what I can to please you.
HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, you don't please me; so I desire you'll leave my house.
MARLOW. Sure you cannot be serious? At this time o' night, and such a night? You only mean to banter me.