Spelling as in the original has been preserved.
By SAMUEL LOW
(b. December 12, 1765)
Very little is known about the author of "The Politician Out-witted," a play which I have selected as representative of the efforts of the American drama, as early as 1789, to reflect the political spirit of the time. Assiduous search on the part of the present editor has failed to bring to light any information from any of the historical societies regarding Mr. Low, except that he was born on December 12, 1765, and that he must have been, in his political sympathies, an anti-federalist. The reader who is interested in literary comparisons might take this play of Low's and read it in connection with Dunlap's "The Father," in which a prologue gives a very excellent example of the American spirit. Dunlap's "Darby's Return" might likewise be read in connection with "The Politician Out-witted," inasmuch as it refers to the Federal Constitution, and to Washington's inauguration.
The present play, which was opposed to the Federal union, was, according to some authorities, offered to the actors, Hallam and Henry, and was promptly rejected by them. There is no record of the piece having thereafter succeeded in reaching the theatre. It is mentioned both in Dunlap and in Seilhamer in a casual manner.
In the New York Directory, of 1794, we find Samuel Low mentioned as a clerk in the Treasury Department, and, in a later Directory of 1797-1798, he is referred to as the first bookkeeper in the Bank of New York.
In the preface to his published poems, after the diffident manner of the time, Low says: "Many of the pieces were written at a very early age, and most of them under singular disadvantages; among which, application to public business, for many years past, was not the least; not only because it allowed little leisure for literary pursuits, but because it is of a nature peculiarly inimical to the cultivation of poetic talent. For his own amusement and improvement he has written—at the request of his friends he publishes."
We know that he was a writer of odes, exhibiting some grace in his handling of this poetic form. He is also credited with having written a long poem entitled "Winter Displayed," in 1794. In 1800, two volumes of poems appeared in New York, and among the subscribers listed were John Jacob Astor, William Dunlap, Philip Hone, Dr. Peter Irving, and members of the Beekman and Schermerhorn families. Examining the contents of these volumes, one discovers that Samuel Low, in a social and fraternal way, must have been a very active member of New York society. On January 8, 1800, his "Ode on the Death of Washington" was recited by Hodgkinson at the New York Theatre.
At St. Paul's Church, and at Trinity Church, his anthems and odes were ever to the fore. He must have been a member of the Tammany Society, or Columbian Order, because a "Hymn to Liberty" was penned by him, and sung in church on the anniversary of that organization, May 12, 1790.
His Masonic interests are indicated throughout the volume by poems written especially for such orders as the Holland Lodge, and the Washington Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. He was also asked to write an epitaph on John Frederick Roorbach.
His interest in politics may likewise be seen in several poems written about the Constitution of the United States; while his literary taste may be measured by his tribute to Kotzebue, the "second Shakespeare," in which occur the lines:
"The purest, sweetest among modern bards Who tread the difficult dramatic path."
Except for this, as one of the biographical sources says, nothing is known of Low's history, "and he is only saved from absolute oblivion by his two small volumes of poems."
Yet "The Politician Out-witted" has historical value, and, in its dialogue, exhibits how well Low had studied the artificial comedy of Sheridan. The construction of the plot is mechanical, but the convictions of the two opposing fathers, on the subject of the Constitution, give the play an interest in character and in viewpoint which is marked. It is not a piece adapted to the theatre, there being slight action of a cumulative kind; but, as an example of early closet drama, it cannot be ignored.
 The/Politician Out-witted,/a/Comedy,/In Five Acts./Written in the Year 1788./By an American./"Then let not Censure, with malignant joy,/"The harvest of his humble hope destroy!"/Falconer's Shipwreck. [Colophon.]/New-York:/Printed for the Author, by W. Ross, in Broad-Street,/and Sold by the Different Booksellers./ M. DCC. LXXXIX./
 Through the assiduous researches of a member of the staff of the Americana Division of the New York Public Library, who has generously given me permission to use the results of this investigation, there is brought to light, in the New York Directory for 1803, the name of Widow Ann Low, keeper of a boarding-house. There is a plausible theory framed by this investigator that, maybe, Samuel Low died during the New York yellow fever epidemic of 1803, although his name does not occur in the New York Evening Post death lists for that year. It may be that our Samuel, as revealed in the annals of the Dutch Reform Church, v. 1, p. 273; v. 32, p. 23 (New York Geneological and Biographical Society), married Anne Creiger, as recorded on April 20, 1797, and that she may be the "Widow Ann" referred to above. The Nicholas Low mentioned in the Directories of the time as President of the Bank of New York, and who was well-to-do, must have been the brother, or some near relation. There are many Samuel Lows of this period; one (1739-1807) mentioned in the D. A. R. Lineage, v. 15; another who married Margaret Kip. The nearest we get to our Low's parentage is a reference, in the Reports of the New York Geneological and Biographical Society, v. 29, p. 36, to John and Susanna Low, whose son, Samuel, was, born December 22, 1765. Identification has yet to be established.
 Poems, By Samuel Low. In two volumes. New York: Printed by T. & J. Swords. 1800.
TRUEMAN. OLD LOVEYET. CHARLES LOVEYET, engaged to HARRIET. FRANKTON, his Friend. WORTHNOUGHT. HUMPHRY. TOUPEE. THOMAS.
HARRIET, daughter to TRUEMAN. MARIA, her Friend. TABITHA CANTWELL. HERALD. DOLLY.
SCENE—The city of New-York. Time of four acts is one day, and the fifth act commences the second day.
SCENE I. OLD LOVEYET'S House.
Enter OLD LOVEYET.
Ugh, ugh, ugh,—what a sad rage for novelty there is in this foolish world! How eagerly all your inspectors in the Daily Advertiser, the New-York Packet, and all the long catalogue of advertisers and intelligencers, catch'd at the news of the day just now at the Coffee-House; though a wise man and a king has told them, there's nothing new under the sun. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
Well, Thomas, what's the news? [Eagerly.
THOMAS. Nothing strange, sir.
LOVEYET. That's more than I can say, Thomas, for I'm sure 'tis strange to hear so many people praise this same new Constitution, as it is call'd.—Has the New-York Journal been brought to-day?
THOMAS. Yes, sir.
[Fetches the newspaper.
LOVEYET. Look if it contains anything worth reading, Thomas; anything in behalf of the good old cause.
THOMAS. Yes, sir, here's something will suit your honour's notion to a hair.
[Offers it to LOVEYET.
LOVEYET. No, Thomas, do you read it,—I'm afraid I shall cast my eyes upon something that's on the other side of the question; some wicked consolidation scheme or another.
THOMAS. Why, you know, sir, there's never anything in this paper but what's on your side of the question.
LOVEYET. True, true; by my body, you're right enough, Tom.—I forgot that: but never mind; since you've got the paper, do you read it.
THOMAS. He only wants me to read, because he can't see to do it himself,—he's almost as blind as a bat, and yet he won't use spectacles for fear of being thought old. [Aside.
LOVEYET. Come, Thomas, let's have it,—I'm all ears to hear you.
THOMAS. 'Tis a pity you have not a little more eyesight and brains along with your ears. [Aside.] [Reads.] "Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Boston, dated February the third, 1788.—Our convention will pass the federal government by a considerable majority: The more it is examined, the more converts are made for its adoption. This you may rely on."
LOVEYET. 'Tis a cursed lie.—Why, why, you confounded scoundrel, do you mean to ridicule your master?
THOMAS. I ask pardon, sir; I thought it was the New-York Journal; but I see it is Mr. Child's Daily Advertiser.
LOVEYET. A plague on his aristocratic intelligence!—Begone, you vile foe to American Liberty, or I'll—
What, my friend Trueman! well, what's the news, eigh?
TRUEMAN. I have not learn'd a single monosyllable, sir.
LOVEYET. Nothing concerning this same Constitution there is so much talk about, friend Horace? A miserable Constitution, by the bye. If mine was no better,—ugh, ugh, ugh,—I say, if—ugh, ugh, if my constitution was no better than this same political one, I solemnly swear, as true as I am this day, man and boy, two score and three years, five months, eleven days, six hours, and, and,—[Pulling out his watch.] fifty-nine minutes old; why, I—I—I would,—I don't know what I wou'd not do. Ugh, ugh.
TRUEMAN. Mr. Loveyet, you run on in such a surprising manner with your narrations, imprecations, admirations, and interrogations, that, upon my education, sir, I believe you are approaching to insanity, frenzy, lunacy, madness, distraction,—a man of your age—
LOVEYET. Age, sir, age!—And what then, sir, eigh! what then? I'd have you to know, sir, that I shall not have lived forty years till next spring twelvemonth, old as I am; and if my countenance seems to belie me a little or so, why—trouble, concern for the good of my country, sir, and this tyrannical, villainous Constitution have made me look so; but my health is sound, sir; my lungs are good, sir, [Raising his voice.]—ugh, ugh, ugh,—I am neither spindle-shank'd nor crook-back'd, and I can kiss a pretty girl with as good a relish as—ugh, ugh,—ha, ha, ha. A man of five and forty, old, forsooth! ha, ha. My age, truly!—ugh, ugh, ugh.
TRUEMAN. You talk very valiantly, Mr. Loveyet; very valiantly indeed; I dare say now you have temerity and enterprise enough, even at this time of day, to take a wife.
LOVEYET. To be sure I have. Let me see,—I shou'd like a woman an inch or two less than six feet high now, and thick in proportion: By my body, such a woman wou'd look noble by the side of me when she was entient.
TRUEMAN. Oh, monstrous! Entient! an entient woman by the side of an antient husband! Most preposterous, unnatural, and altogether incongruous!
LOVEYET. Poh, a fig for your high-flown nonsense. I suppose you think it would cost me a great deal of trouble.
TRUEMAN. No, no; some clever young blade will save you the trouble.
LOVEYET. By my body, I should love dearly to have such a partner; she would be a credit to me when she had me under the arm.
TRUEMAN. Under the thumb, you mean.
LOVEYET. Under the Devil, you mean.
TRUEMAN. You're right; you might as well be under the Devil's government as petticoat government; you're perfectly right there.
LOVEYET. I'm not perfectly right;—I—I—I mean you are not perfectly right; and as for her age, why I should like her to be—let me see—about ten years younger than myself: a man shou'd be at least ten years older than his wife.
TRUEMAN. Ten years; fifty-three and ten are sixty-three. Then you mean your wife shall be fifty-three years of age.
LOVEYET. S'death, sir! I tell you I am but two and forty years old: She sha'n't be more than thirty odd, sir, and she shall be ten years younger than I am too.
TRUEMAN. Yes, thirty odd years younger than you are; ha, ha. The exiguity of those legs is a most promising earnest of your future exploits, and demonstrate your agility, virility, salubrity, and amorosity; ha, ha, ha. I can't help laughing to think what a blessed union there will be between August and December; a jolly, buxom, wanton, wishful, plethoric female of thirty odd, to an infirm, decrepit, consumptive, gouty, rheumatic, asthmatic, phlegmatic mortal of near seventy; ha, ha. Exquisitely droll and humourous, upon my erudition. It puts me in mind of a hot bed in a hard winter, surrounded with ice, and made verdant and flourishing only by artificial means.
LOVEYET. Pshaw, you're a fool!
TOUPEE. Pardonnez moy, monsieur. I hope it not be any intrusion; par dieu, I will not frize dat Jantemon a la mode Paris no more, becase he vas fronte me.
TRUEMAN. What's the matter, Mr. Toupee?
TOUPEE. I vill tella your honare of the fracas. I vas vait on monsieur a—choses, and make ma compliment avec beaucoup de grace, ven monsieur vas read de news papier; so I say, is your honare ready for be dress? De great man say, "No—, d—n de barbare." [In a low voice.] I tell de parsone, sare, I have promise 'pon honare for dress one great man vat is belong to de Congress, 'bout dis time, sans manquer: De ansare vas (excuse moy, monsieur), "go to h-ll, if you be please; I must read 'bout de Constitution." Dis is de ole affair, monsieur, en verite.
LOVEYET. Sixty-three, indeed! Heaven forbid! But if I was so old, my constitution is good; age is nothing, the constitution is all,—ugh, ugh, ugh.
TOUPEE. Sare, you vill give me leaf, vat is dat Constitution?
LOVEYET. Hold your prating, you booby.
TOUPEE. You booby,—Vat is dat booby, I vonder!
TRUEMAN. Ha, ha, a good constitution! With great propriety did the man ask you what constitution you meant. Ha, ha, ha.
TOUPEE. Par Dieu, monsieur de Schoolmastare sall larn a me vat is de booby! oui, an de Constitution,—foy d'Homme d'Honneur.
TRUEMAN. What a figure for a sound constitution! ha, ha.
LOVEYET. Ugh, hang you for an old simpleton! Talk of my age and constitution.—Ugh, ugh, ugh.
TRUEMAN. Fractious old blockhead!
TOUPEE. Blockhead! Pourquoi you call a mine head von block, sare?
TRUEMAN. I mean that old curmudgeon who goes hobbling along there, like a man of forty.
TOUPEE. Pardonnez moy, monsieur; S'il vous plait, ve make de eclaircissement, if you tell me vat is de interpretation—you booby.
TRUEMAN. What! have you the effrontery to call me a booby? S'death, you scoundrel, what do you mean?
TOUPEE. Vous ne m'entendez pas. [Hastily.
TRUEMAN. Do you threaten me, you insignificant thing? Do you call me names?
TOUPEE. Diable! me no stand under your names.
TRUEMAN. Zounds and fury! I am raving. Must I bear to be abus'd in this manner, by a vile Tonsor?
TOUPEE. Yes, you Schoolmastare; you tell me vat be you booby.
TRUEMAN. Pertinacious, audacious reptile! [Canes TOUPEE.
TOUPEE. Ah, mon dieu! mon dieu! [Runs off.
TRUEMAN. To insult a professor of Orthography, Analogy, Syntax, and Prosody!
SCENE II. A Street.
Enter YOUNG LOVEYET.
In compliance with the commands of a father, here I am, once more in the place of my nativity. Duty to him, and curiosity to know, why he has enjoined my sudden departure so peremptorily, as well as a desire to see New-York (perhaps never to leave it more) have all conspir'd to bring me here sooner than I am expected,—let me see—yes, I must try to find out Frankton first. [HUMPHRY crosses the stage.] Here, friend, honest man, prithee stop.
HUMPHRY. What's your will?
LOVEYET. Can you inform me, friend, where one Mr. Frankton lives?
HUMPHRY. No, I don't know where anybody lives in this big city, not I; for my part, I believe how they all lives in the street, there's such a monstrous sight of people a scrouging backards and forards, as the old saying is. If I was home now—
LOVEYET. Where is your home, if I may make so free?
HUMPHRY. Oh, you may make free and welcome, for the more freer the more welcomer, as the old saying is; I never thinks myself too good to discourse my superiors: There's some of our townsfolks now, why some of 'um isn't so good as I, to be sure. There's Tom Forge, the blacksmith, and little Daniel Snip, the tailor, and Roger Peg, the cobbler, and Tim Frize, the barber, and Landlord Tipple, that keeps the ale-house at the sign of the Turk's Head, and Jeremy Stave, the clerk of the meeting-house, why, there an't one of 'um that's a single copper before a beggar, as the old saying is; but what o' that? We isn't all born alike, as father says; for my part, I likes to be friendly, so give us your hand. You mus'n't think how I casts any reflections on you; no, no, I scorn the action. [They shake hands.] That's hearty now—Friendship is a fine thing, and, a friend indeed is a friend in need, as the saying is.
LOVEYET. What an insufferable fool it is! [Half aside.
HUMPHRY. Yes, it is insufferable cool, that's sartin; but it's time to expect it.
LOVEYET. Worse and worse!
HUMPHRY. Yes, I warrant you it will be worser and worser before long; so I must e'en go home soon, and look after the corn and the wheat, or else old father will bring his pigs to a fine market, as the old proverb goes.
LOVEYET. You're quite right; you mean your father wou'd bring his corn to a fine market: You mean it as a figurative expression, I presume.
HUMPHRY. Not I, I isn't for none of your figure expressions, d' ye see, becase why, I never larnt to cipher;—every grain of corn a pig! Ha, ha, ha. That's pleasant, ecod; why the Jews wou'dn't dare for to shew their noses out o'doors, everything wou'd smell so woundily of pork! Ha, ha, ha.
LOVEYET. A comical countryman of mine this. [Aside.] What is your name, my honest lad?
HUMPHRY. Why, if you'll tell me your name, I'll tell you mine, d' ye see; for, one good turn desarves another, as the old saying is, and, evil be to them that evil thinks, every tub must stand upon its own bottom, and, when the steed is stolen, shut the stable door, and, while the grass grows, the mare starves—the horse I mean; it don't make no odds, a horse is a mare, but a mare an't a horse, as father says, d' ye see—and——
LOVEYET. What a monstrous combination of nonsense!
HUMPHRY. Don't tell me what I am, but tell me what I have been—
LOVEYET. Prithee, Mr. Sancho, let's have no more of those insipid proverbs. You was going to tell me your name.
HUMPHRY. My name is Cubb,—Humphry Cubb, at your sarvice, as the saying is.
LOVEYET. Hah! my worthy friend Frankton——
FRANKTON. My best, my long expected Charles! your arrival has made me the happiest man alive.
LOVEYET. I am heartily glad to see you, George, and to meet you so opportunely; 'tis not fifteen minutes since I landed on my native soil, and you are the very person, above every other in the city, whom I wish'd first to see.
FRANKTON. Then you have not forgot your friend.
LOVEYET. Far from it, Frankton; be assured that the joy I now feel at meeting with you, is by no means the least I expect to experience.
FRANKTON. Our satisfaction is then mutual—your friends are all happy and well, and I know your arrival will not a little contribute to their felicity, as well as mine—but who have you here, Loveyet? Landed not fifteen minutes ago, and in close confab with one of our Boors already?
HUMPHRY. A boar! why you're worser than he there—he only took father's corn for pigs, but do you take me for a boar, eigh? Do I look like a hog, as the saying is?
FRANKTON. Begone, you illiterate lubber!—My dear Charles, I have a thousand things to say to you, and this is an unfit place for conversation.
LOVEYET. We will adjourn to the Coffee-House.
FRANKTON. No, you shall go with me to my lodgings.
HUMPHRY. Why, what a cruel-minded young dog he is! See how he swaggers and struts—he looks very like the Pharisee's head, on old Coming Sir, honest Dick Tipple's sign, I think—No, now I look at him good, he's the very moral of our Tory.
LOVEYET. I wait your pleasure, Frankton.
FRANKTON. Then allons!
[Exeunt FRANKTON and LOVEYET.
HUMPHRY. [Burlesquing them.] Forward, march—as our Captain says—[Struts after them.]—Literary lubber, eigh! But I'll be up with the foutre.
FRANKTON and LOVEYET return.
FRANKTON. Do you call me a foutre, you rascal?
HUMPHRY. Call you a future! ha, ha, ha. I was a talking about something that I was a going for to do some other time, sir.—Doesn't future magnify some other time, eigh?
FRANKTON. The future signifies the time to come, to be sure.
HUMPHRY. Well, then, isn't I right? What argufies your signifies, or your magnifies? There an't the toss up of a copper between 'um—I wou'dn't give a leather button for the choice, as the old proverb goes.
FRANKTON. Harkee, Mr. Talkative, if you ever——
HUMPHRY. No, sir, never,—that I won't—no, no, you may be sure of that.
FRANKTON. Sure of what?
HUMPHRY. Nothing, sir; we can be sartin of nothing in this world, as Mr. Thumpum says.
LOVEYET. Ha, ha, ha.
FRANKTON. Oh, what a precious numskull it is!
LOVEYET. [To FRANKTON.] I have a letter here, which announces to my father, my intention to leave the West-Indies the beginning of March, but I miss'd of the expected conveyance—I have half a mind to send it yet. I would not have him apprized of my arrival; for I wish to try if he would know me;—and yet I long to embrace my aged and venerable parent.—Will you do me the favour to take this letter to my father, Mr. Cubb? He lives at number two hundred and fifty, in Queen-Street, in a three-story red brick house.—I'll reward you for it.
HUMPHRY. As for your rewards, I'm above it, d' ye see: If I do it, I'll do it without fear or reward, as the saying is; but if you think fit, you may treat a body to the valuation of a mug or so. Don't you love ale? for they says how the Yorkers is cursed fellows for strong beer.
LOVEYET. What a digression!
HUMPHRY. I scorn your words—'tis no transgression at all to drink ale—Why, Parson Thumpum himself drinks ale.
LOVEYET. Well, will you carry the letter? You shall have as much strong beer when you come back as you can stagger under.
HUMPHRY. Why, if I was for to have my beer a-board before I go, I shou'dn't get top-heavy, as the saying is; for I can carry as much weight in my head as e'er a he that wears a head, without staggering.
FRANKTON. I dare say you can; you have always plenty of that.
HUMPHRY. Yes, you're right—I know what you mean; I've got it here a little, as old Mr. Scourge says. [Exeunt FRANKTON and LOVEYET.] But as for what you said just now—no, no, sir; I'll never foutre you, I warrant you—I always curses and swears in plain English, d' ye see—I—what's he gone? I hope he won't come back again for the sixth time; three times has he been in and out within the circumference of a minute. But I won't stay here no longer—I'll go and try if I can't find out where Doll lives, my old sweetheart; I an't so poor, but what I can buy her a ribbon or so; and, if all comes to all, I can get a new pair o' breeches too; for, to be sure, this one doesn't look quite so decent, and if that doesn't fetch her, the devil shall, as the old saying is. I'm cursedly afraid, I sha'n't be able to find out her quarters.
SCENE III. MR. FRIENDLY'S House.
Enter HARRIET and MARIA.
HARRIET. Pray, Maria, how were you entertained at the Assembly last night?
MARIA. Very indifferently, I assure you, my dear: You know, Harriet, I do most cordially hate dancing at any time; but what must one do with one's self these irksome, heavy, dreary Winters? If it were not for cards, visits to and from, and——
MARIA. Yes, as my last resource, Assemblies, I should absolutely be in a state of despair before Spring.—Then one may take an excursion on York or Long-Island—an agreeable sail on the East-River—a walk in the Broadway, Pharisee-like, to be seen of men, and—to see them—and then how refreshing to take a negligent stroll on the Battery, the Fort, the Mall, and from thence to Miss Such-a-one, then to Mrs. Such-a-one, then to Lady What's-her-name, and then home;—but now I am half of my time as motionless as Pitt's statue; as petrified and inanimate as an Egyptian mummy, or rather frozen snake, who crawls out of his hole now and then in this season to bask in the rays of the sun.
HARRIET. And whenever the sunshine of Mr. Frankton's eyes breaks upon you, you revive.
MARIA. Pshaw—I wish you had Mr. Frankton yourself, since you are so full of his sweet image.
HARRIET. I'm sure you did not wish so last night: Your eyes seem'd to say,—I wish I could secure the good-for-nothing, agreeable rake.
MARIA. Oh, you heard my eyes say so, did you? I ask pardon of your penetration.
HARRIET. But do you really think the Winter is so destitute of comforts?
MARIA. Ha, ha, comforts! by comforts I suppose you mean the sweets of domestic life—the large portion of comfort arising from a large winter fire, and the very pleasing tittle-tattle of an antiquated maiden aunt, or the equally pleasing (tho' less loquacious) society of a husband, who, with a complaisance peculiar to husbands, responds—sometimes by a doubtful shrug, sometimes a stupid yawn, a lazy stretch, an unthinking stare, a clownish nod, a surly no, or interrogates you with a—humph? till bed time, when, heaven defend us! you are doom'd to be snor'd out of your wits till day-break, when——
HARRIET. Hold, Maria—what a catalogue of uncomfortable comforts have you run over.—Pleasure and Comfort are words which imply the same thing with me; but in this enlighten'd age, when words are so curiously refin'd and defin'd, modern critics and fashionable word-mongers have, in the abundance of their wisdom, made a very nice distinction between them—for my part, I always endeavour to reconcile modish pleasure with real comfort, and custom with reason, as much as is in any way consistent with the obligation one is under to conform a little to the perverse notions of mankind.
MARIA. There now!—you know I can't abide to hear you moralize—prithee, my dear Harriet, leave that to grey beards and long-ear'd caps—everything is beautiful in its season, you know.
HARRIET. Common sense and propriety are ever in season, Maria, and I was going to mention a sentimental pleasure, a rational enjoyment, which is peculiar to the present season, tho' beautiful in every one, if you had not got frightened at the idea of being comforted.
MARIA. Well, my dear comfortable, rational, sentimental Harriet! Let me hear what this rational enjoyment of yours is?
HARRIET. Hearing a good play, my dear.
MARIA. Hearing a good play! why not seeing it, pray?
HARRIET. Because I believe plays are frequently seen, and not heard; at least, not as they ought to be.
MARIA. I protest you are quite a critic, Harriet.
HARRIET. If you desire amusement, what so likely to beguile the heavy hours as Comedy? If your spirits are depress'd, what so replete with that which can revive them as the laughter-loving Thalia? If the foibles and vices of human nature ought to suffer correction, in what way can they be satiriz'd so happily and successfully as on the stage;—or if elegance of language, and refinement of sentiment——
MARIA. Humph—there's sentiment again.
HARRIET. You dislike every good thing I have mentioned this morning, Maria,—except one.
MARIA. What's that, my dear?
HARRIET. Mr. Frankton.
MARIA. Ha, ha. Why, to be sure, the good things of this life are not to be despis'd, and men are not the worst creatures belonging to this life, nor Mr. Frankton the worst of men, but—apropos, about plays—did you observe how much I was affected the other night at the tragedy of Zara?
HARRIET. I really did not—I wish I had seen such a pleasing proof of your sensibility.
MARIA. Oh, you cruel creature!—wish to see your friend in tears?
HARRIET. 'Tis rather unusual to see a lady of your taste and spirit, either weep at a pathetic incident in tragedy, or laugh at a comic scene; and as for the gentlemen, your lads of spirit, such as are falsely called ladies' men, they are not so masculine as to understand, and, therefore, not so effeminate as to weep; tho' one would conclude, from their effeminacy in appearance and behaviour, that they would cry if you were to look at them.
MARIA. To be sure, a little matter will draw tears from the feminine part of mankind.
HARRIET. For your part, you seem'd to be neither laughing nor crying, but rather displeas'd and uneasy.
MARIA. Oh, you mistake the matter entirely, my dear; your skill in physiognomy is but indifferent, I find—why, after the tragedy was over, I laugh'd most inordinately for a considerable time.
HARRIET. On what account, pray?
MARIA. Why, you must know, my dear, Mr. Frankton sat in the box opposite to the one I was in.
HARRIET. Yes, I know your dear Mr. Frankton was in the opposite box.
MARIA. My dear Mr. Frankton! Did I say so? Why I could not say more of him, were he my husband.
HARRIET. If you conform to custom, you would not say so much of a husband.
MARIA. But I did not say any such thing. Says I, you must know, my dear Harriet——
HARRIET. No, no, there was no Harriet mentioned.
MARIA. But I say there was—so, as I was going to tell you, you must know, my dear Harriet, that Mr. Frankton sat opposite to me at the theatre; and as he seem'd to be very much chagrin'd at the attention which was paid me by a couple of beaux, I took some pains to mortify him a little; for, tho' he strove to hide his uneasiness by chattering, and whispering, and tittering, and shewing his white teeth, his embarrassment was very visible under his affected unconcern.
HARRIET. How exactly she has described her own situation and feelings! [Aside.]—I find that you acquire your skill in physiognomy from sympathy; or from making suitable comparisons, and drawing natural inferences from them; but now for the remainder of your pleasant anecdote, Maria.
MARIA. So, I was extremely civil to my two worshipping votaries, grinn'd when they did, and talk'd as much nonsense as either of them. During this scene of mock-gallantry, one of my love-sick swains elevated his eyes in a most languishing manner; and, clasping his sweet, unlucky hands together rather eagerly, my little dog Muff happen'd to be in the way, by which means my pet was squeez'd rather more than it lik'd, and my Adonis's finger bit by it so feelingly, that it would have delighted you to see how he twisted his soft features about, with the excruciating anguish. Ha, ha, ha.
HARRIET. Ha, ha, ha. Exceeding ludicrous indeed!—But pray, my dear careless, sprightly Maria, was you not a little nettled to see Mr. Frankton and his nymphs so great? And are you not deeply in love with each other, notwithstanding your coquetry at the theatre, and his levity at the Assembly?—Yes, yes,—your aversion to the dancing last night was only pretence. I hope when your hearts are cemented by wedlock, you will both do better.
MARIA. It will be well if I do no worse; but, to hear you talk, one would swear you were not in love yourself.
HARRIET. Love is an amiable weakness, of which our sex are peculiarly susceptible.
MARIA. Ha, ha, ha; of which our sex are peculiarly susceptible—what an evasion!—and so my dear lovelorn, pensive, sentimental, romantic Harriet has never experienced that same amiable weakness which, it seems, the weaker sex is so susceptible of. But I won't tease you about Mr. Loveyet any more; adieu.
HARRIET. Ha, ha; why in such sudden haste, my dear?
MARIA. I have already made my visit longer than I intended, and I have plagu'd you enough now; adieu.
HARRIET. Ha, ha, ha; that is laughable enough.
End of the First Act.
SCENE I. FRANKTON'S Lodgings.
FRANKTON and YOUNG LOVEYET sitting.
LOVEYET. When did you say you saw her?
FRANKTON. Last night, in company with several other belles of no small note, who did not look a tittle the handsomer for appearing at the same time with her, I assure you.
LOVEYET. Then she's as charming as ever.
FRANKTON. Charming as ever! By all that's beautiful, a Seraphim is nothing to her! And as for Cherubims, when they compete with her,
Conscious of her superior charms they stand, And rival'd quite by such a beauteous piece Of mortal composition; they, reluctant, Hide their diminish'd heads.
LOVEYET. You extol her in very rapturous strains, George—I hope you have not been smitten by her vast perfections, like the Cherubims.
FRANKTON. I am really enraptur'd with the bewitching little Goddess!
LOVEYET. Do you positively think her so much superior to the generality of women?
FRANKTON. Most indubitably I do—don't you, pray?
LOVEYET. I thought her handsome once—but—but—but you certainly are not in love with her.
FRANKTON. Not I, faith. Ha, ha, ha. My enamorata and yours are two distinct persons, I assure you—and two such beauties!—By all that's desirable, if there was only one more in the city who could vie with the lovely girls, and boast of the same elegantly proportioned forms; the same beauty, delicacy and symmetry of features; the same celestial complexion, in which the lily and carnation are equally excell'd; the same——
LOVEYET. Oh, monstrous! Why, they exceed all the Goddesses I ever heard of, by your account.
FRANKTON. Well, if you had let me proceed, I should have told you that if one more like them could be found in town, they would make a more beautiful triple than the three renowned goddesses who were candidates for beauty and a golden apple long ago; but no matter now.—The account you have given of the lovely Harriet, has rekindled the flame she so early inspir'd me with, and I already feel myself all the lover; how then shall I feel, when I once more behold the dear maid, like the mother of mankind—"with grace in all her steps, heaven in her eye; in every gesture, dignity and love!"
FRANKTON. Aye—and what do you think of your father's sending for you to marry you to this same beautiful piece of mortality?
LOVEYET. Is it possible? Then I am happy indeed! But this surpasses my most sanguine hopes!
FRANKTON. Did you suppose he would object to the alliance then?
LOVEYET. I did not know,—my hope was only founded on the probability of his approving it.
FRANKTON. Well, I can now inform you that your hope has a better basis to rest on, and that there is as fair a prospect of its being shortly swallowed up in fruition as ever Cupid and Hymen presented to a happy mortal's view.—For your farther comfort, I have the pleasure to acquaint you, that Mr. Trueman is equally fond of the match.
LOVEYET. Better and better—my dear George! You are the best of friends,—my happy genius! My very guardian angel!
FRANKTON. Well said, Heroics—come, spout away.
LOVEYET. Yes, I am happy, very happy, indeed: Moralists disparage this world too much,—there is such a thing as happiness under the sun,—I feel it now most irrefragably,—here it vibrates in a most extatic manner.
FRANKTON. Why, you are positively the arrantest love-sick swain that ever had recourse to a philter.
LOVEYET. Profane heretic in love! Did not you extol the two Seraphims just now in the same generous language? But you have never experienced the blissful transition from doubt and solicitude to certainty and peace, as I do now.
FRANKTON. How do you know that?
LOVEYET. I only conjecture so—Did you ever feel the same transports I do?
FRANKTON. How, in the name of sense, should I know how you feel?
LOVEYET. Feel!—I feel that kind heaven, my friend, my father, and my dearest girl, all conspire to bless me!
FRANKTON. There he rides his hobby-horse again.
LOVEYET. Aye, and a generous horse he is—he carries me very pleasantly, I assure you.
FRANKTON. Yes, and, I dare say, could convey you more agreeably and speedily to Paradise than the Ass did Mahomet.
LOVEYET. Ha, ha. I think you have improved my idea.
FRANKTON. To improve your reason, and check your strange delirium, I have.
LOVEYET. I will talk more dispassionately;—but my heart will palpitate at the thought of meeting the lovely source of its joy, and the ultimatum of all its wishes!
FRANKTON. I suppose you know she lives with Mr. Friendly.
LOVEYET. With Mr. Friendly!
FRANKTON. Yes, she is nearly related to his family, and as the style in which they live, corresponds with her former prosperity better than the present ineligible situation of her father does, he has granted them her valuable company, after their repeated solicitations had prov'd the sincerity of their regard.
LOVEYET. But how do you account for Mr. Trueman's poverty, since fortune has lately put it so much in Harriet's power to relieve him from it? I dare not think it arises from her want of filial regard; I do not know anything so likely to abate the ardour of my attachment as a knowledge of that; but it is an ungenerous suggestion, unworthy the benignity and tenderness of the gentle Harriet.
FRANKTON. It is so.—Two things, on the part of the old gentleman, are the cause: his pride will not suffer him to be the subject of a daughter's bounty; and his regard for that daughter's welfare, makes him fearful of being instrumental in impairing her fortune.
LOVEYET. I thought the angelic girl could not be ungrateful to the parent of her being; but don't let us tarry—I am already on the wing.
FRANKTON. You are too sanguine; you must not expect to succeed without a little opposition.
LOVEYET. How! what say you? pray be explicit.
FRANKTON. I will remove your suspense.—There is a Mr. Worthnought, a thing by some people call'd a man, a beau, a fine gentleman, a smart fellow; and by others a coxcomb, a puppy, a baboon and an ass.
LOVEYET. And what of him?
FRANKTON. Nothing; only he visits Miss Harriet frequently.
LOVEYET. Hah!—and does she countenance his addresses?
FRANKTON. I'll explain.—He imagines she is fond of him, because she does not actually discard him; upon which presumption he titters, capers, vows, bows, talks scraps of French, and sings an amorous lay—with such an irresistibly languishing air, that she cannot do less than compliment him—on the fineness of his voice, for instance; the smartness of his repartees, the brilliancy of his wit, the gaiety and vivacity of his temper, his genteel carriage, his handsome person, his winning address, his——
LOVEYET. Hah! you surely cannot be in earnest, Frankton.
FRANKTON. To be serious then,—the sum total of the affair, I take to be this.—In order to kill a heavy hour, she sometimes suffers the fool to be in her company, because the extravagance of his behaviour, and the emptiness of his upper region furnish her with a good subject for ridicule; but your presence will soon make him dwindle into his primitive insignificance.
LOVEYET. If your prediction proves false, Harriet will be false indeed;—but I must see her straightway.
FRANKTON. I think you go pretty well fraught with the fruits of our united deliberations.
LOVEYET. Deliberations!—away with the musty term—
No caution need my willing footsteps guide;— When Love impels—what evil can betide? Patriots may fear, their rulers lack more zeal, And nobly tremble for the public weal; To front the battle, and to fear no harm, The shield must glitter on the warrior's arm: Let such dull prudence their designs attend, But Love, unaided, shall obtain its end!
SCENE II. OLD LOVEYET'S House.
Enter OLD LOVEYET and TRUEMAN.
LOVEYET. I tell you it is the most infernal scheme that ever was devis'd.
TRUEMAN. And I tell you, sir, that your argument is heterodox, sophistical, and most preposterously illogical.
LOVEYET. I insist upon it, sir, you know nothing at all about the matter; and, give me leave to tell you, sir—
TRUEMAN. What—give you leave to tell me I know nothing at all about the matter! I shall do no such thing, sir—I'm not to be govern'd by your ipse dixit.
LOVEYET. I desire none of your musty Latin, sir, for I don't understand it, not I.
TRUEMAN. Oh, the ignorance of the age! To oppose a plan of government like the new Constitution. Like it, did I say?—There never was one like it:—neither Minos, Solon, Lycurgus nor Romulus, ever fabricated so wise a system;—why it is a political phenomenon, a prodigy of legislative wisdom, the fame of which will soon extend almost ultramundane, and astonish the nations of the world with its transcendent excellence.—To what a sublime height will the superb edifice attain!
LOVEYET. Your aspiring edifice shall never be erected in this State, sir.
TRUEMAN. Mr. Loveyet, you will not listen to reason: only attend calmly one moment—[Reads.]—"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide—"
LOVEYET. I tell you I won't hear it.
TRUEMAN. Mark all that. [Reads again.] "Section the first.—All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." Very judicious and salutary, upon my erudition.—"Section the second—"
LOVEYET. I'll hear no more of your sections.
TRUEMAN. "Section the second.—The House of Representatives—"
LOVEYET. They never shall represent me, I promise them.
TRUEMAN. Why, you won't hear me out.
LOVEYET. I have heard enough to set me against it.
TRUEMAN. You have not heard a quantum sufficit to render you competent to give a decisive opinion; besides, you hear with passion and prejudice.
LOVEYET. I don't care for that; I say it is a devilish design upon our liberty and property; by my body, it is;—it would reduce us to poverty and slavery.
Enter HUMPHRY, listening.
HUMPHRY. What's that about liberty, and property, and slavery, and popery, and the devil? I hope the pope and the devil an't come to town for to play the devil, and make nigers of us!
TRUEMAN. You will have it your own way.
LOVEYET. To be sure I will—in short, sir, the old Constitution is good enough for me.
HUMPHRY. I wonder what Constitution magnifies.
TRUEMAN. The old Constitution!—ha, ha, ha, ha. Superlatively ludicrous and facetious, upon my erudition; and highly productive of risibility—ha, ha, ha. The old Constitution! A very shadow of a government—a perfect caput mortuum;—why, one of my schoolboys would make a better: 'tis grown as superannuated, embecilitated, valetudinarianated, invalidated, enervated and dislocated as an old man of sixty odd.
LOVEYET. Ah, that's me—that's me—sixty odd, eigh—[Aside.] I—I—ugh, ugh, I know what you want:—a consolidation and annihilation of the States.
TRUEMAN. A consolidation and annihilation!—You certainly have bid defiance to the first rudiments of grammar, and sworn war against the whole body of lexicographers. Mercy on me! If words are to be thus abus'd and perverted, there is an end of the four grand divisions of grammar at once: If consolidation and annihilation are to be us'd synonymously, there is a total annihilation of all the moods, tenses, genders, persons, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, substantives, conjunctions, interjections, prepositions, participles,—
HUMPHRY. Oh dear, oh dear,—what a wise man a Schoolmaster is!
TRUEMAN. How can the States be consolidated and annihilated too? If they are consolidated or compounded into one national mass, surely the individual States cannot be annihilated, for, if they were annihilated, where would be the States to compose a consolidation?—Did you ever study Logic, sir?
LOVEYET. No, but I've studied common sense tho', and that tells me I am right, and consequently you are wrong; there, that's as good logic as yours.
TRUEMAN. You mean Paine's Common Sense, I suppose—yes, yes, there you manifest something like common sense, Mr. Loveyet.
LOVEYET. 'Tis no such thing, sir; it lately took three speakers, and much better ones than Paine, no less than three whole days, to prove that consolidation and annihilation are one and the same thing.
TRUEMAN. An execrable Triumvirate—a scandalum magnatum to all public bodies: I suppose they and their adherents are now sitting in Pandemonium, excogitating their diabolical machinations against us.
LOVEYET. A pack of nonsensical stuff!
TRUEMAN. Harkee, Mr. Loveyet, I will propound a problem to you. We will suppose there are two parallel lines drawn on this floor, which, notwithstanding they may be very contiguous to each other, and advance ad infinitum, can never approximate so near as to effect a junction, in which fundamental axiom all mathematicians profess a perfect congruity and acquiescence:—now, to elucidate the hypothesis a little, we will suppose here is one line; and we will further suppose here is another line. [Draws his cane over LOVEYET'S feet, which makes him jump.] Now we will suppose that line is you, and this line is compos'd, form'd, constituted, made up of discernment, political knowledge, public spirit, and true republicanism,—but, as I predicated antecedently, that line is you—[Striking his cane on LOVEYET'S feet.] You must not forget that.
LOVEYET. S'death, sir, do you mean to make a mathematical instrument of me, to try experiments with?
TRUEMAN. Now take notice—as the East is to the West, the North Pole to the South ditto, the Georgium Sidus to this terraqueous globe, or the Aborigines of America to the Columbians of this generation, so is that line to this line, or Mr. Loveyet to true wisdom and judgment; sometimes appearing to verge towards a coalition with them, but never to effect it. There, sir,—in this argument, you have a major, a minor and a conclusion, consonant to the received principles of logic.
LOVEYET. Confound your senseless comparisons; your problems, your mathematics, and your Georgium Sidus.
HUMPHRY. Aye, confound your gorgon hydras, I say too.
LOVEYET. Here you have been spending your breath to prove—what?—that I am not a rational human being, but a mathematical line.
TRUEMAN. I know you are not a mathematical line; you are not the twentieth part so straight and well made;—I only wish to convince you that the present government is an ignis fatuus that is leading you and thousands more to ruin.
LOVEYET. But I don't choose to be convinc'd by you.
TRUEMAN. No more than you'll be convinc'd you are sixty years old, I suppose.
LOVEYET. Now see there again, see there! isn't this enough to try Job's patience? I'll let you know that my bodily and political Constitutions are both good, sir, both sound alike.
TRUEMAN. I know they are. Ha, ha, ha.
HUMPHRY. Pray, old gentleman, what sort of things may them same constitutions be?
TRUEMAN. Avaunt, thou plebeian, thou ignoramus!
HUMPHRY. Why, I lay now I can say that as good as you, for all you're such a fine scholard.—I won't be plain, thou ignorant mouse.
TRUEMAN. "Monstrum horrendum, cui lumen ademptum!"
HUMPHRY. Monstrous memorandums, cu—no, I can't say that; that's too hard for me. Well, what a glorious thing it is for to have good larning.
LOVEYET. Sixty odd years indeed! provoking wretch!
HUMPHRY. What a bloody passion he's in!
TRUEMAN. Pray, Mr. Loveyet, do not anathematize me so;—if you do not civilize your phraseology a little, I must have recourse to a little castigation, for, necessitas non habet legem, you know, Mr. Loveyet.
LOVEYET. I know nothing about such nonsense, not I.
TRUEMAN. You are the most unenlightened, contumacious, litigious, petulant, opprobrious, proditorious, misanthropic mortal I ever confabulated a colloquy with; by the dignity of my profession you are.
HUMPHRY. What monstrous queer words he discourses the old fellow with!
LOVEYET. Mighty pleasant and witty, by my body; sixty years, forsooth!—But I'll be aveng'd of you.—Your daughter sha'n't have my son—there, sir,—how do you like that? Sixty years, indeed! Ugh, ugh.
HUMPHRY. What an old reprobate it is! He swears till he sweats again.
TRUEMAN. What an unlucky affair! [Aside.
LOVEYET. And give me leave to tell you, Mr. Schoolmaster, I was an old—I—I mean—I was a great fool to disparage him so much as to think of the match.
TRUEMAN. Illiberal aspersion! But were I as contemptible as you think me, a disastrous war has rendered me so; and as for my child, Providence has placed her above dependence on an unfortunate father: the bequest of a worthy relation has made her, what the world calls, rich; but her mind—is far richer; the most amiable temper, improved by a virtuous and refined education (not to mention her beauty) deservedly makes her the object of general love and respect, and renders your present resolution a matter of perfect indifference to me.
LOVEYET. Well, well, so be it; but you never shall be Charles's father-in-law, for all that—that's as fix'd as fate,—you may beg my forgiveness for your faults by and by, but your daughter shall never be mine, I promise you.
TRUEMAN. Conceited old sot! [Exit.
HUMPHRY. He's gone at last.
LOVEYET. What brought you here, pray?
HUMPHRY. Why, my legs, to be sure.—Here, old gentleman, if you'll promise you won't get in such a passion as you did just now, I've got some news to tell you.
LOVEYET. I in a passion? 'tis no such thing—I didn't mind anything he said, because he's old and fretful;—but what news, eigh—what news?
HUMPHRY. Here's a letter for you. [Gives it to LOVEYET.
LOVEYET. [Opens the letter and reads.] I am heartily glad, 'faith! [Reads again.]—'Od's my life, I'm as happy as the Great Mogul, and as good-natur'd—
HUMPHRY. That's clever; I likes to see people good-natur'd,—it makes me as happy as the Great Pogul.
LOVEYET. I'll go tell old Trueman's daughter, Charles is coming, but not for her—I know she'll be mortify'd, poor girl, but I can't help that. Who gave you this letter?
HUMPHRY. Why your son, to be sure.
LOVEYET. When did you leave the Havanna, pray?
HUMPHRY. The Havanna?
LOVEYET. Yes, are you not from the West-Indies?
HUMPHRY. Who—me?—not I.
LOVEYET. Why, what the plague makes you think he was my son, then?
HUMPHRY. Because he said you was his father—that's a good reason, an't it? But it's a wise son knows his own father, as the old saying is.
LOVEYET. How can that be, when the letter is dated in the Island of Cuba, the twentieth day of January, and he says he don't expect to leave it till the beginning of March, and this is only February, so it is impossible he shou'd be here yet.
HUMPHRY. May be you an't the old gentleman, then.
LOVEYET. To be sure I an't an old gentleman. Did he say I was old, eigh?
HUMPHRY. Yes, I believe he did.
LOVEYET. I believe you lie—and I'll let you know that I an't old enough to be his father, you—
HUMPHRY. Well, if the case lies there, that settles the harsh, d' ye see; but, for my part, I think how you look old enough and ugly enough to be his great-grandfather, as the old saying is.
LOVEYET. Sirrah, get out of my house, or I'll break your bones for you.
HUMPHRY. I'm a going—howsomever, give me the letter again; you've got no business with it—you an't his father.
LOVEYET. You lie! I am his father—if he was here, he wou'dn't deny it.
HUMPHRY. Why, he is here, I tell you—here in New-York. I suppose how he's made a small mistake about the day of the month, and says he's just arrived from the East-Indies, for he's cursed apt for to make blunders;—that about the corn and the pigs; ha, ha, ha.
LOVEYET. Do you laugh at me, you vagabond?
HUMPHRY. Not I, old gentleman; I've got too much respect for old age, I'll insure you.
LOVEYET. I shall go distracted!
HUMPHRY. Put on your spectacles and look again—I'm sure your eyes must perceive you, for I'll give my corporal oath he an't in the East-Indies.
LOVEYET. It is not the East-Indies, you great calf; you mean the West-Indies.
HUMPHRY. No matter if it's East or West; the odds an't much for the matter o' that.
LOVEYET. What an abominable fool!
HUMPHRY. I'm no more a fool than you are—
LOVEYET. Be gone, you scoundrel! Here, Thomas—[Enter THOMAS.], lug this fellow out of doors.
THOMAS. Yes, sir.
HUMPHRY. No, you sha'n't tho', d' ye see.
THOMAS. I'm cursedly afraid of the great two-handed fellow too.
[Aside, and exit with HUMPHRY.
Abusive rascal! But I won't put myself in a passion with such a vile animal.—I—I'll read the letter again.
"I have just time enough to acquaint you by the Oceanus, Captain Seaborn, who is now preparing to sail, that I have at length adjusted my business so as to be able to leave this place for New-York, the beginning of March; in which case you may look for me before the first of April next; when I promise myself the happiness of seeing you once more, and enjoying the society of the best of parents: till then I shall continue to be, with truly filial attachment, and anxious expectation of the happy event, your obliged and dutiful son,—CHARLES LOVEYET."
I wonder he don't say anything of the coffee and madeira I wrote to him about;—egad, I must mind the main chance; a penny sav'd, is a penny got; and charity begins at home. By strictly attending to these excellent maxims, I am worth about five and twenty per cent. more than any other merchant in the city; and as for that stupid proverb, money is the root of all evil, 'tis well enough for those to say so, who have none; for my part, I know that much of the good things of this world is better than not enough—that a man can live longer upon a hundred thousand pounds than one thousand pounds—that if, the more we have the more we want, the more we have the more we make—and that it is better to make hay while the sun shines against a rainy day, when I shall be upon my last legs, than to work and toil like an ass in the rain; so it plainly appears that money is the root of all good;—that's my logic.—I long to see the young rogue tho'—I dare say he looks very like his father;—but, had I thought old Trueman wou'd have us'd me so ill, I wou'd not have wrote for him yet; for he shall not have his old sweetheart:—if he offers to disobey me in this respect, by my body, I'll disinherit the ungracious dog immediately.
SCENE III. Another part of LOVEYET'S House.
DOLLY and THOMAS.
THOMAS. I've set a bowl of grog before him, pretty much to the northward, and a luncheon of bread and beef almost as big as his head; for he said he was consumed hungry.
DOLLY. I language to behold him;—but I'm afraid he'll be rude to a body. [Enter HUMPHRY, with a large luncheon of bread and butter.] Oh, as I'm alive, it is Humphry; old Cubb, the miller's son! Now will the great bear be for rumpling and hugging a body, as he us'd to do. [Aside.
HUMPHRY. How d' ye do again, as the saying is? You're a devilish honest fellow, as I'm a gentleman; and thank 'e for your frugality, with all my heart: I've eaten up all the beef and grog, so I thought I wou'd go to the cupboard, and cut a small slice of bread and butter, d' ye see.
THOMAS. Why didn't you cut yourself a larger slice, while you was about it?
HUMPHRY. Oh, it's big enough, thank 'e; I never eat much at a meal; but if I crave more, I'll speak. [Sees DOLLY.] Wha—what—Doll! is that you? Oh, the wonderful works of nature! Who'd ha' thought to ha' found you here. What, don't you know me? not know your old sweetheart? By Job, I want to buss you, most lasciviously.
[Crams all the bread in his mouth in haste, and offers to kiss her.—THOMAS hinders him.
DOLLY. Oh, oh!
THOMAS. What, do you dare to do such a thing before me, you country brute?
HUMPHRY. Aye, no sooner said than done; that's my way.
THOMAS. But you sha'n't say nor do your lascivious tricks before me, I warrant you.
DOLLY. Oh, the filthy beast! he has frightened me out of my seventy-seven senses; he has given me a fever.
HUMPHRY. I don't care if you'll give me a favour, or not; for I don't value it an old horse-shoe, not I; I can get favours enough in New-York, if I go to the expense.—I know what—I suppose you forget when Jack Wrestle, the country mack-marony—
DOLLY. Oh, oh!
HUMPHRY. Why, in the country you us'd for to kiss me without axing.
DOLLY. I scorn your words, you worthless blackguard; so I do.
THOMAS. Sir, I'd have you to know, sir, that I won't suffer you, sir, to abuse this young lady, sir, in this manner, sir; and, sir—in short, sir, you're a dirty fellow, for your pains, sir.
HUMPHRY. And you're a great litterly lubber, as the saying is; and if you'll be so friendly as for to fetch the mug of ale you promis'd me, I'll lick you out of pure gratitude: have a care—grog makes me fight like a tyger.
THOMAS. It's a bargain,—I shou'd be sorry to try you; but I'll go lace you ale a little, and that will spoil your fighting, I warrant you.
[Aside, and exit.
DOLLY. You sha'n't fight him.—Oh, law, I wou'dn't trust myself with him alone, for the riches of the Indians!
[Exit, after him.
HUMPHRY. [Mimicking her.] What an unfaithless trollop! She's got to be very vartuous since she's liv'd in town, but vartue is but skin deep, as the saying is:—wou'dn't even let me kiss her;—I meant nothing but the genteel thing neither,—all in an honest way. I wonder what she can see in that clumsy booby's face, for to take his part, sooner than I!—but I'll go buy a new coat and breeches, and get my head fricaseed, and my beard comb'd a little, and then I'll cut a dash with the best on 'em. I'll go see where that ill-looking fellow stays with the ale.
End of the Second Act.
SCENE I. A Barber's Shop.
HUMPHRY in new clothes, reading a newspaper.—TOUPEE shaving him.
HUMPHRY. Pray now, master barber, what does Constitution mean? I hears so many people a quarrelling about it,—I wish I cou'd get somebody to give me the exclamation of it; here it is among the news too. It's spelt C, O, N, con—S, T, I, sti—consti—T, U, tu—constitu—T, I, ti—constituti—O, N, on—con-sti-tu-ti-on,—but your city folks calls it Constitushon; they've got such a queer pronouncication.
TOUPEE. Vat you please, sare?
HUMPHRY. Yes, it pleases me well enough; I only want to know what it magnifies.
TOUPEE. Je ne vous entens pas, monsieur.
HUMPHRY. Why, what outlandish dialogue is that you're a talking? I can't understand your lingo as well as the Schoolmaster's, with his monstrous memorandums, and his ignorant mouses.
TOUPEE. You be 'quainted with monsieur de Schoolmastare, monsieur?
HUMPHRY. Yes, mounsieur; he and the consumptive old gentleman, old what's his name, was a wrangling about that confounded name that I was axing you about;—caw—con—[Looks at the paper.] aye, Constitution.
TOUPEE. Dat Constitution is no bon;—de Schoolmastare vas strike me for dat. By gar, I get de satisfaction!
HUMPHRY. He talks as crooked as a Guinea niger. [Aside.
TOUPEE. He vas call me—ah, le diable!—block; dis—[Points to his head.] blockhead, oui, blockhead.
HUMPHRY. If you've got a mind, I'll lather him for you.
TOUPEE. Yes; den I vill lader you for nothing.
HUMPHRY. You lather me for nothing?—I'll lather you for less yet, you barber-looking—
TOUPEE. No, no; me lader you so. [Lathers HUMPHRY'S face.
HUMPHRY. Oh, with soap-suds, you mean:—I ax pardon, mounsieur; I thought how you was a going for to lather me without soap-suds or razor, as the old proverb is.
TOUPEE. Dat is no possible, monsieur.
HUMPHRY. I believe not; you shou'd be shav'd as clean as a whistle, if you was; 'faith should you.
TOUPEE. Yes, I will shave you very clean;—here is de bon razor for shave de beard.
[Draws the razor over the back of HUMPHRY'S hand, to shew him it can cut a hair.]
HUMPHRY. [Bellowing out.] You ill-looking, lousy, beard-combing, head-shaving rascal! Did you ever know any body for to have a beard upon their hand?
TOUPEE. You be von big 'merican brute, sur mon ame!
HUMPHRY. You lie, as the saying is. What a mouth he makes whenever he goes for to talk his gibberage!—He screws it up for all the world like a pickled oyster. I must have a care I don't get some of that snuff out of his nose.
TOUPEE. You please for taste de snuff?
HUMPHRY. I don't care if I smell some.
[Takes a pinch of snuff, which makes him sneeze, while TOUPEE is shaving him; by which he gets his face cut.]
TOUPEE. Prenez garde a vous!
HUMPHRY. The devil take the snuff and you! [Going.
TOUPEE. S'il vous plait, monsieur, you vill please for take de—de—vat is dat—de lettre—de shallange to monsieur de Schoolmastare, for fight me?
HUMPHRY. Yes, that I will, with the most carefullest manner;—he shall have it in the greatest pleasure.
[TOUPEE gives a paper to HUMPHRY.
TOUPEE. Dat is de bon civility,—I vill be your—a—very good friend.
HUMPHRY. Thank 'e kindly, Mounsieur. [Exeunt, severally.
SCENE II. A Street.
Enter YOUNG LOVEYET and HUMPHRY.
LOVEYET. Not find where he lives?
HUMPHRY. No;—you're the most unluckiest gentleman for making of blunders,—didn't you tell me how your father liv'd in number two hundred and fifty, in Queen-Street, in the three-story brick house?
LOVEYET. I did; is not that the house?
HUMPHRY. No—why, your father don't live there.
LOVEYET. Did you enquire for Mr. Loveyet?
HUMPHRY. Yes, I saw Mr. Loveyet.
LOVEYET. The devil is in the fellow, I believe. Did you give him my letter?
HUMPHRY. Yes, but I didn't want to.
LOVEYET. Why not?
HUMPHRY. Becase I wanted for to carry it to your father.
LOVEYET. What makes you think Mr. Loveyet is not my father?
HUMPHRY. Somebody told me so that's got a good right to know; I've his own words for it.
LOVEYET. My father tell you so?
HUMPHRY. The young man is crazy, I believe.—I say Mr. Loveyet said you wasn't his son; so I suppose he can't be your father by that.
LOVEYET. I forgot that the letter would probably produce this misunderstanding. [Aside.]—He is the only one I know, whom I have a right to call my father.
HUMPHRY. May be you're the old fellow's bastard, and if you're a bastard, you can't be a son, you know: aye, that's the catch, I suppose.
LOVEYET. Your new clothes make you quite smart, Mr. Cubb.
HUMPHRY. Yes, don't I look quite smart, with these here new clothes? they're all new, I'll insure you—only a little the worse for wear; I bought 'em at the vandue option, at the Fly-Market.
LOVEYET. But how came you by that patch on one side of your face, and that large crop of beard on the other?
HUMPHRY. Mounsieur, the outlandish barber, give me a small cut across the whiskers; but the best of all you ha'n't seen yet;—see here.
[Pulls off his hat.
LOVEYET. Aye, now you look something like—quite fierce—entirely the fine gentleman, upon my falsehood. A genteel dress is the very soul of a man, Mr. Cubb.
HUMPHRY. Like enough, for I've got more soul to shew myself, now I cut such a dash; I've got a soul to see the shews at the play-house; and, I think, I've got a great deal more soul to spend a few shillings at the ale-house.
LOVEYET. That's true; I'm glad you remind me of my promise.
HUMPHRY. Not I, I didn't remind you,—I scorn it.
LOVEYET. I dare say you do. [Gives him money.] There, drink my health with that.
HUMPHRY. With all my heart—soul, I mean;—aye, here's soul enough—[Jingling the money.]—to buy the matter o' twenty mugs;—come, let's go at once.
LOVEYET. I?—excuse me, sir; I have particular business elsewhere.—Sir, your most humble servant.
HUMPHRY. Sir, I am your most humble sarvint too. [Bows awkwardly.]
SCENE III. MR. FRIENDLY'S House.
[Knocking at the door.] What an incessant knocking! Mr. Friendly's family are out, and between their company and my own, I expect to be engaged all day: I am fairly tired of these morning visits;—they are fashionable, and, therefore, agreeable, to those who can make propriety and happiness subservient to custom and false politeness; but, for my part—
SERVANT. Miss Airy is waiting in her carriage, madam.
HARRIET. Admit her. [Exit SERVANT.] She is the only one I wish to see this morning.
MARIA. My dear Harriet, I am rejoic'd to find you at home;—I this minute heard something, which I knew would make you happy; and that, I trust, is a good excuse for troubling you twice a day with my company.
HARRIET. You wrong my friendship, Maria, if you think you can oblige me too often with your desirable company; 'tis true I was wishing for a little cessation of that torrent of formal visitors which is pouring in from morning till night; but far be it from Harriet to reckon her Maria among that number.
MARIA. You are very good, my dear; but you must give me leave to be a little jealous that I am not the only one who is favoured with such a preference.
HARRIET. Indeed, I do not know any one I have a particular desire to see this morning, except yourself.
MARIA. You forget Mr. Loveyet, when you say so.
HARRIET. Poh! I am not talking of men.
MARIA. No; but it is very probable you are thinking of a man.
HARRIET. And pray what reason have you to think, that my thoughts run upon such an improper subject?
MARIA. Improper subject,—ha, ha, ha. So my very discreet, prudish little Harriet never lets man enter into her head; tho' it is pretty notorious somebody has enter'd into her heart long ago.
HARRIET. Your discernment must be very subtle, if you know all that is in my heart.
MARIA. I only judge of your heart, by your tongue; and the abundance of the former is generally inferred from the speech of the latter.—Yes, yes—that constant, hypocritical heart of yours is now throbbing with love, hope, curiosity, and—a thousand speechless sensations, the improper subject of which, I do not hesitate to declare, is odious man; and that man, the accomplished Mr. Loveyet.
HARRIET. Pshaw,—how can you tantalize one so?
MARIA. Well, well, it shall not be serv'd like Tantalus any more: he was doom'd to behold; and, beholding, to wish and languish for the tempting draught, in vain: but a better doom awaits the happy Harriet;—what she desires is not thus interdicted, but will soon be obtain'd, and—
HARRIET. How strangely you talk, Maria.
MARIA. Well, I will not keep you in suspense any longer. Old Mr. Loveyet has received a letter from his son, signifying his intention to leave the West-Indies shortly after its date, so you may expect to see him very soon. Then hey for a wedding, &c.
HARRIET. Ha, ha; you are a droll girl.
MARIA. But my time is precious; I am just going to the widow Affable's:—about twelve months ago she paid me a visit, when, agreeably to the form in such cases made and provided, she beg'd I would be more sociable, and she would take it so kindly of me:—accordingly I shall step in en passant, to shew her my sociability and kindness, which I shall, perhaps, repeat at the end of another year.
HARRIET. How can you be so cruel? The pleasure I experience in your society, makes me regret that any one should be deprived of it.
MARIA. That is very strange:—I should imagine, if you priz'd my company so much, you would wish me to withhold it from others; because, the more I bless them with my presence, the less will come to your share, you know, my dear;—nor is it easy to conceive how you could be so fond of my sweet person, without being jealous at the partiality of others;—but, after all, good people, they say, are scarce; and my humble admirers shall find the saying verified in me; because they are not fully sensible of my superior value; but, since you prove the contrary, by extolling my conversation and friendship so much, I likewise shall observe a contrary conduct, and indulge you with a tete-a-tete frequently, my dear.—But I have fifty places to call at yet:—I am to wait on Miss Nancy Startup, Miss Biddy Dresswise, Miss Gaudy, Miss Titterwell, Mrs. Furbelow, Mrs. Neverhome, Mrs—et caetera, et caetera; which visits I mean to pay with all the formality and fashionable shortness in my power: from thence I shall proceed to Mademoiselle Mincit, the milliner; from thence to two or three score of shops in William-Street, to buy a prodigious number of important—
MARIA. You are right, my dear;—as I live, I would not be one of those officious "Nothing else, Ma'ms?" for all the goods from the North Church to Maiden-Lane.—Adieu,—I leave you to meditate on what I have told you.
HARRIET. Farewell. [Exit MARIA.] Now Maria is gone, I will see no more company.—If anything can be an excuse for a falsehood, the present occasion offers a very good one:—I feel my mind pretty much at ease, and I do not choose to have it disturbed by the impertinence of pretended friends.—Who is there?
HARRIET. Whoever calls to see me to-day, remember I am not at home.
SERVANT. Mr. Worthnought is here now, Madam; must I deny you to him?
HARRIET. Undoubtedly. [Exit SERVANT.] I am disgusted with the repetition of that coxcomb's nonsense.—[Sighs.]—I wish Charles was here:—In spite of the false delicacy of that tyrant, Custom, which forbids us to speak the exquisite effusions of a susceptible heart, I can now speak boldly, while that heart dictates to the willing tongue what complacence it feels at the prospect of its Charles's return.
SCENE IV. Another part of MR. FRIENDLY'S House.
WORTHNOUGHT, discovered solus.
WORTHNOUGHT. Who comes here! He sha'n't see her, if I don't, 'foregad—Curse me, but he shall go away with a flea in his ear.
Enter YOUNG LOVEYET, followed by HUMPHRY.
HUMPHRY. Mr. Lovit—Mr. Lovit.—[Takes him aside.] As I was a going along, d'ye see, I see you pop in here, and so I follow'd you, to tell you, how old Mr. Lovit said he was intend for to go for to see the old fellow's daughter, to tell her something about the letter. Don't Mrs. Harriet live here?
LOVEYET. I'll make haste, and supersede the design of his errand, if possible;—it would be a pity he should come before I had appriz'd Harriet I was not in the West-Indies. [Aside.]—I am obliged to you for your information. [To HUMPHRY.
HUMPHRY. Thank 'e, as the saying is. [Going,—WORTHNOUGHT whispers with him.]—What's that to you?—How clumsy mounsieur has dress'd his calabash!—Powder'd over the face and eyes.
WORTHNOUGHT. I wish I knew what he wanted with him;—perhaps it is something about me. [Aside.
LOVEYET. What Butterfly is this we have here!—I suppose it is the fop, Frankton mentioned. [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. Sir, I have the honour to be, with the profoundest respect and esteem, your most obedient, most devoted, and most obliged humble slave, foy d'Homme d'Honneur—Tol lol, &c. [Sings.
LOVEYET. A very pompous salutation, truly. [Aside.]—Your polite address does me too much honour, sir;—I cannot conceive how you can be my obliged slave, as I do not recollect I ever saw you before.
WORTHNOUGHT. Why, sir, I'll tell you:—Your appearance, sir, bespeaks the gentleman of distinction, sir,—
LOVEYET. My appearance;—superficial coxcomb! [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. 'Tis true, my words were words of course; but I meant every word, sir, 'pon hanor.—"Cupid, Gad of saft persuasion, &c." [Sings affectedly, and takes snuff.
LOVEYET. Humph,—To whom, sir, am I indebted, for so much civility?
WORTHNOUGHT. Dick Worthnought, esquire, at your service, sir.
LOVEYET. The very fool. [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. And give me leave to add, sir, that I feel the highest felicity, that you have given me so good an opportunity of asking you, in my turn, for the favour of your name, sir.
LOVEYET. My name is Loveyet, sir.—With what solemnity the coxcomb talks! [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. A native of this city, I presume, Mr. Loveyet.
LOVEYET. I am, sir; but I have been absent for some years, and, as I was a youth when I left the city, I cannot be supposed to have retained much of the Yorker.
WORTHNOUGHT. Pardon me, sir;—to a person of penetration, the Yorker is still conspicuous under the disguise of the foreigner; and I am proud to have the hanor of being your countryman, sir.
LOVEYET. I fancy the honour is by no means reciprocal. [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. You are acquainted with Miss Harriet Trueman, I presume, Mr. Loveyet.
LOVEYET. I was formerly acquainted with the lady.
WORTHNOUGHT. You must know, sir, that your humble servant has the hanor and felicity of being that lady's very humble admirer.
LOVEYET. I dare say she is admired by all who have the pleasure of knowing her.
WORTHNOUGHT. Give me leave, sir,—I mean her lover.
LOVEYET. Conceited ape! [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. You have no pretensions, sir, I presume.
WORTHNOUGHT. Aye, sir; I thought you might have a small penchant, as the French call it;—you apprehend me; but she don't intend to see company to-day. I am monstrously chagrin'd, sir, 'foregad, that I have it not in my power to introduce you to the divine mistress of my heart; but, as matters are circumstanc'd, I think it is not worth our while to stay.
LOVEYET. I mean to see Miss Trueman before I shall think so.
WORTHNOUGHT. Oh, fie, sir;—you wou'd not force a lady to give you her company against her inclination:—perhaps, indeed, she may appear to receive you with some warmth, and you may flatter yourself you have fairly made a canquest of her, and think Dick Worthnought esquire, is out-rival'd; but if so, you are most demnably bit, 'foregad, for she's as slippery as ice, tho' not quite so cold;—she is the very standard of true modern coquetry, the quintessence of the beau-monde, and the completest example of New-York levity, that New-York has the hanor to call its beautiful inhabitant: ha, ha,—she'll jilt you;—however, the dear creature, with all her amiable foibles, has been so profuse of her attention to me, that I should be ungrateful not to acknowledge the various favours she has hanor'd me with.
LOVEYET. Consummate impudence! [Aside.]—Miss Trueman's character is well known, sir.
WORTHNOUGHT. Miss Trueman's character! Demme, sir, do you mean to say anything against her character?
LOVEYET. No;—and I will take care you shall not, with impunity.
WORTHNOUGHT. You are the most unmannerly fellow I ever convers'd with, 'pan hanor.
LOVEYET. And you the most contemptible puppy; or that fellow would be unmannerly enough to chastise you for your insolence.
WORTHNOUGHT. That's a demnable rub, demme;—curse him, I'm afraid he isn't afraid of me, after all. [Aside.]—You wou'd find me as brave as yourself then; demme, but you wou'd.
LOVEYET. I'll try you. [Offers to cane him, which makes him cry out.—Then enter HARRIET, hastily.]
HARRIET. Oh, dear!—what's the matter?
[Seeing CHARLES, she shrieks.
LOVEYET. My dearest,—my adorable Harriet!
HARRIET. Is it possible? I did not dream that Mr. Loveyet was the person who wanted to see me.
LOVEYET. And am I again blest with a sight of the dear object of all my wishes and affections!—I thank you, heaven; you have been bountiful, indeed! The rolling billows, under your propitious guidance, have at length wafted me to my native land, to love and my dear Harriet.
WORTHNOUGHT. What the devil does he mean! [Aside.
HARRIET. Your unexpected appearance, and the unaccountable circumstance which attends it, have discomposed me in such a manner, that I cannot express, as I wish, how happy I am in your safe arrival.
WORTHNOUGHT. Hah,—happy in his arrival! If so, she will not be very happy in his rival, I'm afraid. [Aside.
LOVEYET. I will explain the occasion of my charmer's fright immediately;—at present I can only tell you that your wou'd-be lover, here—
HARRIET. My lover!
LOVEYET. So he confidently call'd himself, and took such other insufferably vain and impudent freedoms with your name, that I attempted to give him a little wholesome admonition with this, if his effeminate cries had not brought my lovely Harriet in to prevent me; but the very attempt has proved him to be the basest of dastards. [While he is saying this, WORTHNOUGHT makes several attempts to interrupt him.]
HARRIET. [To WORTHNOUGHT.] I am equally surpriz'd and incens'd, sir, that you would dare to take such freedoms with my name.
LOVEYET. Be assured, Miss Harriet, if you condescend to grant your valuable company to such superficial gentry, they will ever prove themselves as unworthy of it as he has; but your goodness does not let you suspect the use which such characters make of the intimacy they are honour'd with, or you would spurn their unmeaning flattery, and ridiculous fopperies, with indignation.
HARRIET. I ever till now consider'd him as a respectful, well-meaning person, as far as regarded myself; and as such, gave him a prudent share of my civilities; but I never thought either his intellects or his person sufficient to entitle him to a partial intimacy.
WORTHNOUGHT. You cannot deny, madam, that I have repeatedly experienced the most flattering proofs of your partiality, that a lady (who values her reputation) can ever bestow on her admirer.
HARRIET. Contemptible thing! An admirer, forsooth! Of what?—Your ideas are too mean and frothy to let you admire anything but my dress, or some other trifle as empty and superficial as the trifler I am speaking to. My demeanour towards you was nothing but the effect of cheerfulness and politeness; qualities which, I believe, are inherent in me, and of which, therefore, all with whom I am acquainted are the objects; but your present unmanly and insupportably impudent discourse, makes me despise myself almost as much as you, for allowing such a wretch even that small degree of attention which he so illy deserved.
WORTHNOUGHT. You are very insulting, madam, 'pan hanor.—
LOVEYET. How apt such fellows are to have honour in their mouths. [Aside.
WORTHNOUGHT. This is only a trick to conceal your inconstancy during his absence; but it is the nature of the sex to deceive us.
HARRIET. 'Tis the nature of a fool to say so; and if that fool does not instantly quit the subject and the house together, I must request the favour of Mr. Loveyet to make him.
LOVEYET. "As matters are circumstanced, Mr. Worthnought, I think it is not worth your while to stay."
WORTHNOUGHT. Her unparallel'd rudeness shall not compel me to leave the house, till I please.
LOVEYET. "Oh, fie, sir,—you would not force a lady to give you her company against her inclination."
WORTHNOUGHT. You are very fond of echoing my words, it seems.
LOVEYET. Yes, when I can apply them to your disappointment and disgrace.—"I am monstrously chagrin'd, sir, 'foregad, that I have it not in my power to introduce you to the divine mistress of my heart." Ha, ha, ha.
WORTHNOUGHT. 'Tis very well,—I will have revenge;—if the laws of politeness (which I would rather die than infringe) did not forbid swearing before a lady [In a contemptuous tone.], curse me, but I would d——n you for a—
LOVEYET. [Interrupting him.]—"You must know, sir, I have the hanor and felicity of being this lady's very humble admirer."—You have failed in your predictions, I think, sir.
WORTHNOUGHT. Yes, and she shall soon pay for her duplicity; tho' I would not have you think that her ill usage mortifies me in the least: I never was in love with her, nor did I ever intend marriage, which is more than she can say; and, I believe, it is fortunate for us both, that you arriv'd when you did, or something might have happened, which would have obliged me to marry her, merely to prevent her from being miserable.—Ha, ha, ha. Tol lol, &c.
HARRIET. What a superlative wretch!
LOVEYET. He is too contemptible to cost you a thought, Harriet:—none but the puppy tribe, and a few splenetic old maids, will pay any attention to his slander; they, no doubt, will spread it with avidity;—but to be traduced by such, is to be praised.—Hah!—there comes my father;—I forgot to tell you I expected him here: I will try if he knows me.
Enter OLD LOVEYET.
OLD LOVEYET. Madam, your most obedient;—Sir, your servant.
LOVEYET. [Bows.] I find he does not know me:—Nature, be still; for now I feel he is indeed my father.
HARRIET. Mr. Loveyet, I am happy to see you.
OLD LOVEYET. She would not be quite so happy, if she knew my errand. [Aside.]—I have waited on you, madam, upon disagreeable business.
HARRIET. How, sir?—I beg you will not leave me in suspense: What is it?
OLD LOVEYET. It is a matter of a delicate nature, madam, and therefore, must not be spoken at random.
LOVEYET. Heaven avert any unfavourable event! [Aside.
HARRIET. Mr. Loveyet, your cautious innuendoes give me sensible uneasiness.
LOVEYET. I will withdraw, Miss Trueman;—My love—friendship, I would say, though it wishes to afford you happiness, and participate in your troubles, does not presume to intrude on the private conversation Mr. Loveyet wishes.
HARRIET. I dare say your presence is no restraint, sir.
OLD LOVEYET. I don't know that, madam: pray, who is the gentleman?
HARRIET. The gentleman is my very particular friend, sir.
OLD LOVEYET. By my body, here is rare work going on.—[Aside.]—Well, madam, as the gentleman is your very particular friend; and as his love—friendship, I mean, is so great, that you dare to entrust all your secrets with him; I shall acquaint you, that, as you and my son have long entertained a partiality for each other, and being desirous to fulfill all my engagements, as well as to make him happy, I have wrote for him to come and conclude the marriage; but, for very good reasons, I have this day determined to forbid the bans; and Mr. Trueman says, he is very willing too.
LOVEYET. Hah!—what can all this mean? [Aside.
OLD LOVEYET. You must know, madam, your father has us'd me very ill; and—to be plain with you, madam, your familiarity with this person, convinces me you wou'd have play'd the fool with my son, without my breaking the match. Ugh, ugh.
LOVEYET. The old gentleman imagines I am going to cut myself out, it seems. [Aside to HARRIET.
HARRIET. You do not know who this is, sir, or you would not put any improper constructions on the friendly freedom you have observ'd between us.
LOVEYET. True; and, therefore, you need not be concerned at what he says.—Since he has made this unlucky resolution, he must not know who I am. [Aside to HARRIET.
OLD LOVEYET. How well she dissembles!—Friendly freedom,—a pretty term that, for the wanton hussy. [Aside.]—I wish Charles was here now; he wou'd acknowledge his father's kindness in preventing a match, which, I am sure, would end in sorrow and disappointment.
LOVEYET. I doubt that much.—This parent of mine is a singular character. [Aside to HARRIET.
HARRIET. It is necessary you should be made acquainted with some of his oddities: his most striking peculiarity is a desire to be thought younger than he is; and, I dare say, some remark of my father, respecting his age, is the only cause of his present ill humour.
OLD LOVEYET. Look how they whisper!—well, she is the most brazen coquette I ever knew!—Yes, yes, now her scandalous conduct is glaring enough. [Aside.]—I wish you and your very particular friend, a good day, madam.
HARRIET. I think our troubles increase fast: how unlucky, that this dispute should happen at the very crisis of your arrival;—an event which we fondly expected would be attended with the most pleasing circumstances.
LOVEYET. Those fond expectations, my lovely partner in trouble, shall soon be realized;—this is only the momentary caprice of old age.
HARRIET. You must take care not to talk of age, before him.
LOVEYET. Yes, my fair monitor; I shall think of that: and now permit me, in my turn, to give you a little advice.—In the first place, I would have you go to your father—fall at his feet—clasp your fair hands, thus—beseeching him in such terms as that gentle heart is so well form'd to dictate, and persuading him with the all-prevailing music of that tuneful voice, to recall his rigourous intention, nor doom such angelic goodness and beauty to despair, by persisting to oppose an alliance which alone can make you blest; and without which, the most faithful of lovers will be rendered the most wretched one on earth. I shall take a similar method with my old gentleman, and I think I can insure myself success.
HARRIET. This is all very fine; but—to have the voluntary consent of the parent one loves,—how infinitely more agreeable! I would not offend mine, for the world: and yet—
LOVEYET. And yet you will be obliged to offend him, by having me, eigh?
HARRIET. Pshaw;—how strangely you misconstrue my meaning: I was going to observe, that I expect his obstinacy and pride will prove invincible, in spite of all the rhetoric you are pleased to ascribe to me.
LOVEYET. Then we will employ a little rhetoric, against which another class of fathers are not quite so invincible.—Parsons are plenty, you know; and Gold and Silver are persuasive little words. Love inspires me with the spirit of prophecy, and tells me I shall soon with propriety call the loveliest of her sex, mine.
HARRIET. You are very eloquent, Mr. Loveyet: I do not think the subject merits so many florid speeches.
LOVEYET. Not merit them!—
'Tis not in human language, to define Merit so rare, and beauty—so divine! Then what avails this little praise of mine?
HARRIET. Harriet deserves not praise so great as thine.
End of the Third Act.
SCENE I. TRUEMAN'S House.
I sincerely lament this unfortunate dispute.—I know Harriet loves that young fellow, though he has been so long absent; and, therefore, I regret it; for, to what end do I live but to see her happy!—But I will not give way to his father;—perhaps he may think better of the matter, for I know him to be of a placable nature, though passionate;—and yet he seems to be inflexible in his resolution.
HUMPHRY. Sarvint, Mr. Schoolmaster;—here's a challenge for you.
[Gives TRUEMAN the barber's note.
TRUEMAN. A challenge! Surely the old blockhead would not make himself so ridiculous.
HUMPHRY. Yes, it's for that;—I remember he said you call'd him a blockhead.
TRUEMAN. You may go and tell him I advise him to relinquish his knight-errant project, or I will expose his absurdity by taking the advantage which the law offers in such cases.
HUMPHRY. That is, you'll take the law of him, if he goes for to fight you.
TRUEMAN. Fight me!—Oh, grovelling idea! Wit-forsaken progeny of a more than soporific pericranium! Fight me!—Hear and be astonished, O Cicero, Demosthenes, Socrates, Plato, Seneca, Aristotle,—
HUMPHRY. Oh, for shame!—Do you read Haristotle?
TRUEMAN. Be it known to thee, thou monstrous mass of ignorance, if such an uninformed clod, dull and heavy as that element to which it must trace its origin, can comprehend these very obvious and palpable truths, expressed in the most plain, simple, easy, unscholastic diction.—I repeat again, that you may apprehend me with the greater perspicuity and facility,—be it known to thee, that those immaculate sages would have died rather than have used such an expression; by the dignity of my profession, they would:—'tis true that the ancients had such things as single combats among the Olympic games, and they were always performed by the populace; but such a fight, alias a tilt, a tournament, a wrestle, could not, according to the rule of right, and the eternal fitness and aptitude of things, be properly denominated a bona fide fight; for, as I before observed, it was ipso facto, a game, an Olympic game.—Olympic, from Olympus.
HUMPHRY. Pray now, Mr. Schoolmaster, if a body mought be so bold, what do you think of the last war? Does your Schoolmastership think how that was a fona bide fight?
TRUEMAN. You are immensely illiterate; but I will reply to your interrogatory.—My opinion of the late war, is as follows, to wit.—Imprimis. The Americans were wise, brave and virtuous to struggle for that liberty, independence and happiness, which the new government will now render secure. Item. The Americans were prodigious fortunate to obtain the said liberty, independence and happiness. A war, encounter, combat, or, if you please, fight like this, is great and glorious; it will immortalize the name of the renowned WASHINGTON,—more than that of Cincinnatus, Achilles, AEneas, Alexander the Great, Scipio, Gustavus Vasa, Mark Anthony, Kouli Khan, Caesar or Pompey.
HUMPHRY. Caesar and Pompey! Why them is nigers' names.
TRUEMAN. O tempora! O mores!
HUMPHRY. He talks Greek like a Trojan.—Tempora mores;—I suppose how that's as much as to say, it was the temper of the Moors, that's the nigers, for to be call'd Caesar and Pompey.—I guess how he can give me the exclamation of that plaguy word.—Con—let me see [Spells it in the manner he did before.]—Please your worshipful reverence, Mr. Schoolmaster, what's Latin for Constitution?
TRUEMAN. To tell you what is Latin for Constitution, will not make you a particle the wiser; I will, therefore, explain it in the vernacular tongue.—Constitution then, in its primary, abstract, and true signification, is a concatenation or coacervation of simple, distinct parts, of various qualities or properties, united, compounded, or constituted in such a manner, as to form or compose a system or body, when viewed in its aggregate or general nature. In its common, or generally received, acceptation, it implies two things.—First, the nature, habit, disposition, organization or construction of the natural, corporeal, or animal system.—Secondly, a political system, or plan of government. This last definition, I apprehend, explains the Constitution you mean.
HUMPHRY. Like enough, but I don't understand a single word you've been a talking about.
TRUEMAN. No! 'Tis not my fault then:—If plainness of language, clearness of description, and a grammatical arrangement of words will not suffice, I can do no more.