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ACT THE SECOND,
A Room in HARDCASTLE's House.
Enter HARDCASTLE, followed by Three or Four awk
ward SERVANTS. Hard. Well, I hope you're perfect in the table exercise I have been teaching you these three days, You all know your posts and your places, and can show that you have been used to good company, without stirring from home.
All. Ay, ay.
Hard. When company comes, you are not to pop out and stare, and then run in again, like frighted rabbits in a warren,
All. No, no.
Hard, You, Diggory, whom I have taken from the barn, are to make a show at the side table; and you, Roger, whom I have advanced from the plough, are to place yourself behind my chair. But you're not to stand so, with your hands in your pockets. Take your hands from your pockets, Roger; and from your head, you bluckhead you. See how Diggory carries his hands. They're a little too stiff, indeed, but that's no great matter.
Digg. Ay, mind how I hold them. I learned to hold
my hands this way, when I was upon drill for the militia. And so being upon drill
Hard, You must not be so talkative, Diggory, the pantry:
You must be all attention to the guests. You must hear us talk, and not think of talking; you must see us drink, and not think of drinking; you must see us eat, and not think of eating.
Digg. By the laws, your worship, that's parfectly unpossible. Whenever Diggory sces yeating going forwards, ccod he's always wishing for a mouthful himself.
Hard. Blockhead ! is not a bellyfull in the kitchen as good as a bellyfull in the parlour? Stay your stomach with that reflection.
Digg. Ecod, I thank your worship; I'll make a shift to stay my stomach with a slice of cold beef in
Hard. Diggory, you are too talkative. Then if I happen to say a good thing, or tell a good story, at table, you must not all burst out a laughing, as if you made part of the company.
Digg. Then, ecod, your worship must not tell the story of Ould Grouse in the gunroom: I can't help laughing at that—he! he! he!--for the soul of me. We have laughed at that these twenty years—ha! ha! ha!
Hard. Ha ! ha! ha! The story is a good one, Well, honest Diggory, you may laugh at that-but still remember to be attentive. Suppose one of the company should call for a glass of wine, how will you behave ? A glass of wine, sir, if you please. [To DigGORY.]-Eh, why don't you move?
Digg. Ecod, your worship, I never have courage till I see the eatables and drinkables brought upon the table, and then I'm as bauld as a lion.
Hard. What, will nobody move? 1 Serv, I'm not to leave this place. 2 Serv. I'm sure its no pleace of mine. 3 Serv. Nor mine, for sartain. Digg. Wauns, and I'm sure it canna be mine. Hard. You numskulls ! and so while, like your betters, you are quarrelling for places, the guests must be starv’d. O, you dunces ! I find I must begin all over again.--But don't I hear a coach drive into the yard ! To your posts, you blockheads! I'll go in the mean time, and give my old friend's son a hearty welcome at the gate.
[Exeunt—SERVANTS running about different Ways. Enter Servant, with Candles, showing in MARLOW
and HASTINGS. Serv. Welcome, gentlemen, very welcome. This way.
Hast. After the disappointments of the day, welcome once more, Charles, to the comforts of a clean room and a good fire. Upon my word, a very well looking house; antique, but creditable.
Mar. The usual fate of a large mansion. Having first ruined the master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to levy contributions as an inn.
Hast. As you say, we passengers are to be taxed to pay all these fineries. I have often seen a good sideboard, or a marble chimneypiece, tho' not actually put in the bill, inflame the bill confoundedly.
Mar. Travellers, George, must pay in all places. The only difference is, that in good inns you pay dearly for luxuries; in bad inns, you are fleeced and starved.
Hast. You have lived pretty much among them. In truth, I have been often surprised, that you who have seen so much of the world, with your natural good sense, and your many opportunities, could never yet acquire a requisite share of assurance.
Mar. The Englishman's malady. But tell me, George, where could I have learned that assurance you talk of? My life has been chiefly spent in a college, or an inn, in seclusion from that lovely part of the creation that chiefly teach men confidence. I
don't know, that I was ever familiarly acquainted with a single modest woman-except my mother-But among females of another class
knowHast. Ay, among them you are impudent enough of all conscience. Mar. They are of you
know. Hast. But in the company of women of reputation I never saw such an idiot, such a trembler ; you look for all the world as if you anted an opportunity of stealing out of the room.
Mar. Why man that's because I do want to steal out of the room. Faith, I have often formed a resolution to break the ice, and rattle away at any rate. But I don't know how, a single glance from a pair of fine
eyes has totally overset my resolution. An impudent fellow may counterfeit modesty, but I'll be hanged if a modest man can ever counterfeit impudence. Hast. If
half the fine things to them that I have heard you lavish upon the bar-maid of an inn, or even a college bed-maker.
Mar. Why, George, I can't say fine things to them. They freeze, they petrify me. They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but to me, a modest woman, drest out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.
Hast. Ha ! ha! ha! At this rate, man, how can you ever expect to marry ?
Mar. Never, unless, as among kings and princes my bride were to be courted by proxy. If, indeed, like an eastern bridegroom, one were to be introduced to a wife he never saw before, it might be endured. But to go through all the terrors of a formal courtship, together with the episode of aunts, grandmothers, and cousins, and at last to blurt out the broad star-question, of, Madam, will you marry me? No, no, that's a strain much above me, I assure you.
Hast. I pity you. But how do you
intend behaving to the lady you are come down to visit at the request of your father?
Mar. As I behave to all other ladies. low; answer yes, or no, to all her demands—But for the rest, I don't think I shall venture to look in her face till I see iny
father's again. Hast. I'm surprised that one who is so warm a friend can be so cool a lover.
Mar. To be explicit, my dear Hastings, my chief inducement down was to be instrumental in forwarding your happiness, not my own. Miss Neville loves you; the family don't know you ; as my. friend
you are sure of a reception, and let honour.do the rest.
Hast. My dear Marlow ! But I'll suppress the emotion. Were I a wretch, meanly seeking to carry off a fortune, you should be the last man in the world I would apply to for assistance. But Miss Neville's
person is all I ask, and that is mine, both from her deceased father's consent, and her own inclination.
Mar. Happy man! You have talents and art to captivate any woman. I'm doom'd to adore the sex, and yet to converse with the only part of it, I despise. This stammer in my address, and this awkward prepossessing visage of mine, can never permit me to svar above the reach of a milliner's 'prentice, or one of the duchesses of Drury-lane. Pshaw! this fellow here to interrupt us!
Enter HARDCASTLE. Hard. Gentlemen, once more you are heartily wel
Which is Mr. Marlow ? Sir, you're heartily welcome. It's not my way, you see, to receive my friends with my back to the fire. I like to give them a hearty reception in the old style at my gate. I like to see their horses and trunks taken care of.
Mar. [Aside.] He has got our names from the servants already. (To him.] We approve your caution