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take it how you will, good sir, I must and will pronounce it a most noble benefaction.
Penrud. [Rises.] In this particular I'll not decline your praise ; for doing this I've struggled hard against an evil spirit that had seized dominion of my heart, and triumphed over my benevolence—this conquest I may glory in.
Weazel. There yet remains, of solid and original estate, possessions to a great amount.
Penrud. Them I shall husband as untainted stock: I do not cut into the heart of the tree, I only lop off the excrescences and funguses, that weakened and disgraced it. Now, sir, if these points are clearly understood by you, and no difficulties occur that require explanation, we will separate, with your leave, you to Mr. Tempest and I to my own occupations.
Weazel. Your pardon for one moment-My profession is the law: it has been my lot to execute many honourable and benevolent commissions ; some, I confess, have fallen into my hands, that have put my conscience to a little strain, though a man of my sort must not start at trifles; but the instructions you have now honoured me with exceed all I have ever handled, all I have heard of; and when this charitable deed shall come to be registered in the upper court, I hope my name as witness will go along with it; and if the joy with which I signed it be remembered in my favour, I fancy few attornies will stand a better chance than your humble servant Timothy Weazel.
[Exit WEAZEL. Penrud. 'Tis done! the last bad passion in my breast is now expelled, and it no longer rankles with revenge: in the retirement of my cottage I shall have something in store, on which my thoughts may feed with pleasing retrospection; courted by affluence, I resort to solitude by choice, not fly to it for refuge from misfortune and disgust. Now I can say, as I contemplate Nature's bold and frowning face—“ Knito not your brows at me; I've done the world no wrong."
-Or if I turn the moral page, conscious of having triumphed in my turn, I can reply to Plato, “ I too am a philosopher."
Jenkins. Mrs. Woodville, sir, desires leave to wait on you. Penrud. Admit the lady.--What do you stand
[Exit JENKINS. Where is
Oh ! that this task was over!
Enter Mrs. WOODVILLE. Your servant, madam.
Mrs. W. If you are not as totally reversed in nature as you are raised in fortune, I shall not repent of having hazarded a step so humbling to my sex, so agonizing to my feelings; for I am sure it was not in your heart, when I partook of it, to treat a guiltless woman with contempt, or wreak unmanly vengeance on your worst of enemies, when fallen at your feet. Ah, sir! you are greatly agitated. Let me retire; I cannot bear to hurt you.
Penrud. Pray do not leave me: Did you know what struggles I have surmounted, you would say I perform wonders. I could not write to you, judge what it is to see you.
Mrs. W. I thought that these emotions had subsided, and that solitude and study had made you a philosopher. Penrud. Ah, madam, you see what a philosopher I
Arabella, you never knew me rightly; I had a heart for friendship and love; I was betrayed by one, and ruined in the other.
Mrs. W. You have been deeply injured, I must
own: I too have been to blame, but I was young and credulous, and caught with glittering snares.
Penrud. Aye, snares they have been ; fatal ones, alas !
Mrs. W. I have lived in dissipation, you in calm retirement ; how peacefully your hours have passed, how unquietly mine ! One only solace cheered my sad heart-my Henry, my son.
Penrud. I have seen him ; I have conversed with him : he spoke unguardedly—but disappointment sours the mind; he treated me unjustly--but he resembled you, and I forgave him.
Mrs. W. If you are thus retentive of affection, I must suppose you are no less so of resentment; why then should I repeat my sorrows ? You know them.
Penrud. I know them ; I have felt them ; I have redressed them.
Mrs. W. Redressed them ! What is it I hear ?
Penrud. What I have done, I have done ; I cannot talk of benefits
Mrs. W. Oh, sir
Penrud. Nor will I hear acknowledgments. You would have sunk I could not chuse but save you.
Enter HENRY. Henry. You must forgive me. Though your servants were drawn up to oppose my entrance, I broke through all their files, forced on by gratitude that nothing could withstand, till I beheld my benefactor.
Penrud. Not much of a benefactor; I have only restored to
conscience could not keep.
Mrs. W. In the name of goodness, what is it you have done ?
Penrud, Nothing, but wanted stomarch for a banquet where your son was served up ; in plainer words, preferred my own cottage to his country house : Henry wanted a wife, a wife wanted a settlement, and 1 stood in need of neither. I hope you and Tempest are agreed.
Henry. A word from your lawyer silenced all objection.-Oh ! my dear mother, help me to somo words that may express my gratitude.
Penrud. No, no, she is mute by compromise when I am quietly retiring from the stage of this vain world, call me not back to lose the little grace that I have gained : I would not be made a spectacle in my decline and dotage.
Mrs. W. Will you again sequester yourself, and renounce the society even of your most grateful friends ?
Penrud. Madam, I have yet perused but half the history of man: the pages are alternate, dark and bright: I have read the former only: let Henry's virtue stand the test, and I have all the pleasurable, study still to come.
Enter TEMPEST and EMILY.
Temp. I have broke through all forms, worthy sir, in bringing you a saucy girl, who will fancy she is privileged to pay her court to every generous cha. racter, that does honour to humanity, and is bountiful to her friends.
Penrud. I confess to you, Mr. Tempest, I was ambitious to behold your fair daughter, but did not presume to expect the visit should spring with her.-I hope, madam, there is something here present more amusing to your sight than a crabbed old clown, who happens to have a little more kindness at his heart than he carries in his countenance.
Emily. True generosity is above grimace : it is not always that the eye, which pities, is accompanied by the hand
that bestows : some there are, who can smile without friendship, and weep without charity.
Penrud. Certainly, madam, this world is a great polisher; it makes smooth faces and slippery friendships. Are you, may I ask, very fond of this fine town?
Emily. My father lives in it; I should be loth to say I had a preference for any other.
Penrud. I suppose, Mr. Tempest, you are one of the vainest men in England.
Temp. One of the happiest I am, and of your making: for Henry Woodville ever had my warmest wishes.
Penrud. And I hope your lovely daughter meets those wishes with all dutiful compliance ?
Temp. With the best grace in life? she does not object to take the man of her heart, though I wish .to join their hands.
Mrs. IV. Now, my Henry, you are, without comparison, the happiest, or, without pity, the most mi. serable of mankind: here, if you fail in merit, you offend beyond the reach of mercy.
Penrud. True, madam: but the sons of Cornelia did not disgrace their mother.
Temp. There again! that's something out of a book, like Emily's Agamemnon, and if it was treason I could not find it out.-But come, Henry! here, in the presence of your benefactor, I bestow upon you all I am worth (Joins their hands. ]-a virtuous daughter, the only joy and blessing of my money I have none, for I did not understand the arts of government; and when Emily is gone from me, I am without resources: for I cannot, like Mr. Penruddock, take shelter with the sciences : and as for the arts,