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Rand. I have a part already—I am blest In your success, and share in all your joys. Y. Wilm. I doubt it not—But tell me, dost thou think, My parents not suspecting my return, That I may visit them, and not be known? Rand. "Tis hard for me to judge—You are, already, Grown so familiar to me, that I wonder I knew you not at first : yet it may be ; For you're much alter'd, and they think you dead.' Y. Wilm. This is certain; Charlotte beheld me long, And how loud reproaches, and complaints, Without rememb'ring she had ever seen me. My mind, at ease, grows wanton : I would fain Refine on happiness. Why may I not Indulge my curiosity, and try If it be possible, by seeing first My parents as a stranger, to improve Their pleasure by surprise 2 Rand. It may, indeed, Enhance your own, to see from what despair Your timely coming, and unhop'd success, Have given you power to raise them. Y. Wilm. I remember, E'er since we learn'd together, you excell'd In writing fairly, and could imitate Whatever hand you saw, with great exactness. I therefore beg you'll write, in Charlotte's name And character, a letter to my father; And recommend me, as a friend of her’s, To his acquaintance. Rand. Sir, if you desire it— And yet Y. Wilm. Nay, no objections ! 'Twill save time, Most precious with me now. For the deception, If doing what my Charlotte will approve,
'Cause done for me, and with a good intent,
Deserves the name, I'll answer it myself.
If this succeeds, I purpose to defer
Discov'ring who I am till Charlotte comes,
And thou, and all who love me. Ev'ry friend
Who witnesses my happiness to might,
Will, by partaking, multiply my joys.
Rand. You grow luxurious in imagination.
Could I deny you aught, I would not write
This letter. To say true, I ever thought
Your boundless curiosity a weakness.
Y. Wilm. What canst thou blame in this 2
Rand. Your pardon, sir!
Perhaps I spoke too freely;
I'm ready to obey your orders.
Y. Wilm. I am much thy debtor,
But I shall find a time to quit thy kindness.
O, Randal but imagine to thyself
The floods of transport, the sincere delight,
That all my friends will feel, when I disclose
To my astonish'd parents my return,
And then confess, that I have well contriv'd,
By giving others joy texalt my own. [Ereunt.
OLD WILMoT and AGNEs discovered.
O. Wilm. Here, take this Seneca ; this haughty pedant,
Who, governing the master of mankind,
And awing power imperial, prates of patience;
And praises poverty—possess'd of millions:
Sell him, and buy us bread. The scantiest meal
The vilest copy of his booke'er purchas'd,
Will give us more relief in this distress,
Than all his boasted precepts—Nay, no tears;
Keep them to move compassion when you beg.
Agnes. My heart may break, but never stoop to
that. * 0. Wilm. Nor would I live to see it.—But despatch. [Exit AGNEs.
Where must I charge this length of misery,
That gathers force each moment as it rolls,
And must at last o'erwhelm me, but on hope :
Wain, flattering, delusive, groundless hope,
That has for years deceiv'd me?—Had I thought
As I do now, as wise men ever think,
When first this hell of poverty o’ertook me,
That power to die implies a right to do it,
And should be us’d when life becomes a pain,
What plagues had I prevented!—True, my wife
Is still a slave to prejudice and fear
I would not leave my better part, the dear [Weeps.
Faithful companion of my happier days,
To bear the weight of age and want alone.—
I'll try once more.—
Enter AGNEs, and after her YouNG WILMoT. Return'd, my life, so soon— Agnes. The unexpected coming of this stranger, Prevents my going yet. Y. Wilm. You're, I presume, The gentleman to whom this is directed.
What wild neglect, the token of despair,
What indigence, what misery appears
In this once happy house! What discontent,
What anguish and confusion, fill the faces
Of its dejected owners -
., O. Wilmot. [Having read the Letter.] Sir, such
As this poor house affords, you may command.
Our ever friendly neighbour—once we hop'd
T' have call'd fair Charlotte by a dearer name—
But we have done with hope—I pray excuse
This incoherence.—We had once a son. [Weeps. Agnes. That you are come from that dear virtuous maid,
Revives in us the mem'ry of a loss,
Which, though long since, we have not learn'd to
Y. Wilm. The joy to see them, and the bitter pain
It is to see them thus, touches my soul
With tenderness and grief, that will o'erflow.—
They know me not—and yet I shall, I fear,
Defeat my purpose, and betray myself. [Aside. O. Wilm. The lady calls you, here, her valu'd friend ;
Enough, though nothing more should be imply'd,
To recommend you to our best esteem,--
A worthless acquisition 1 May she find
Some means that better may express her kindness'
But she, perhaps, has purpos'd to enrich
You with herself, and end her fruitless sorrow
For one, whom death alone can justify
For leaving her so long. If it be so,
May you repair his loss, and be to Charlotte
A second, happier Wilmot ' Partial nature,
Who only favours youth; as feeble age
Were not her offspring, or below her care,
Has Seal’d our doom No second hope shall spring
To dry our tears, and dissipate despair. -
Agnes. The last, and most abandon'd of our kind'
By Heaven and earth neglected or despis'd?
The loathsome grave, that robb'd us of our son,
And all our joys in him must be our refuge.
Y. Wilm. Let ghosts unpardon'd, or devoted fiends,
Fear without hope, and wail in such sad strains;
But grace defend the living from despair'
The darkest hours precede the rising sun,
And mercy may appear when least expected.
O. Wilm. This I have heard a thousand times
And have, believing, been as oft deceiv'd.
Y. Wilm. Behold in me an instance of its truth.
At sea twice shipwreck'd, and as oft the prey
Of lawless pirates; by the Arabs thrice
Surpris'd, and robb'd on shore; and once reduc’d
To worse than these, the sum of all distress
That the most wretched feel on this side hell;
Even slavery itself: Yet here I stand,
Except one trouble that will quickly end, -
The happiest of mankind. i
O. Wilm. A rare example -
Of fortune's changes; apter to surprise
Or entertain, than comfort or instruct.
If you would reason from events, be just, -
And count, when you escap'd, how many perish'd,
And draw your inference thence.
Agnes. Alas! who knows, -
But we were render'd childless by some storm,
In which you, though preserv'd, might bear a part?
Y. Wilm. How has my curiosity betray'd me
Into superfluous pain' I faint with fondness;
And shall, if I stay longer, rush upon them;
Proclaim myself their son; kiss, and embrace them;
Till, with the excess of pleasure and surprise,
Their souls transported, their frail mansions quit,
And leave them breathless in my longing arms.
By circumstances then, and slow degrees,
They must be let into a happiness