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been so exceedingly well-what then she has been merry and gay, I suppose ?-Always in spirits-hey?
Acres. Merry, odds crickets ! she has been the belle and spirit of the company wherever she has been-so lively and entertaining ! so full of wit and humour !
Faulk. There, Jack, there. -Oh, by my soul! there is an innate levity in woman that nothing can overcome.--What! happy, and I away.!
Abs. Have done !-How foolish this is ! just now you were only apprehensive for your mistress' spirits.
Faulk. Why, Jack, have I been the joy and spirit of the company?
Abs. No, indeed, you have not.
Abs. No, faith, to do you justice, you have been confoundedly stupid indeed.
Acres. What's the matter with the gentleman ?
Abs. He is only expressing his great satisfaction at hearing that Julia has been so well and happy—that's all—hey, Faulkland?
Faulk. Oh ! I am rejoiced to hear it-yes, yes, she has a happy disposition !
Acres. That she has indeed-then she is so accomplished so sweet a voice—so expert at her harpsichord-such a mistress of flat and sharp, squallante, rumblante, and quiverante !There was this time month-odds minims and crotchets ! how she did chirrup at Mrs. Piano's concert !
Faulk. There again, what say you to this ? you see she has been all mirth and song—not a thought of me!
Abs. Pho! man, is not music the food of love?
Faulk. Well, well, it may be so.—Pray, Mr. -, what's his damned name ?-Do you remember what songs Miss Melville sung ?
Acres. Not I indeed.
Abs. Stay, now, they were some pretty melancholy purlingstream airs, I warrant; perhaps you may recollect;
did she sing, When absent from my soul's delight?
Acres. No, that wa’n't it.
[Sings. Acres. Oh, no! nothing like it. Odds ! now I recollect one of them—My heart's my own, my will is free.
[Sings. Faulk. Fool fool that I am! to fix all my happiness on such a trifler! 'Sdeath! to make herself the pipe and ballad
wonger of a circle !. toʻsoothe her light heart with catches and glees !--What can you say to this, sir?
Abs. Why, that I should be glad to hear my mistress had been so merry, sir.
Faulk. Nay, nay, nay—I'm not sorry that she has been happy-no, no, I am glad of that I would not have had her sad or sick-yet surely a sympathetic heart would have shown itself even in the choice of a song--she might have been temperately healthy, and somehow, plaintively gay ;--but she has been dancing too, I doubt not !
Acres. What does the gentleman say about dancing ?
Faulk. Hell and the devil ! There !-there--I told you so ! I told you so! Oh! she thrives in my absence ! Dancing ! But her whole feelings have been in opposition with mine ;-I have been anxious, silent, pensive, sedentary—my days have been hours of care, my nights of watchfulness. She has been all health ! spirit I laugh! song ! dance !-Oh! damned, damned levity!
Abs. For heaven's sake, Faulkland, don't expose yourself so !-Suppose she has danced, what then ?-does not the ceremony of society often oblige—
Faulk. Well, well, I'll contain myself-perhaps as you sayfor form sake.--What, Mr. Acres, you were praising Miss Melville's manner of dancing a minuet-hey?
Acres. Oh, I dare insure her for that—but what I was going to speak of was her country-dancing. Odds swimmings ! she has such an air with her !
Faulk. Now disappointment on her !-Defend this, Absolute ; why don't you defend this ?-Country-dances ! jigs and reels ! am I to blame now? A minuet I could have forgiven -I should not have minded that I say I should not have regarded a minuet—but country-dances !-Zounds ! had she made one in a cotillon-I believe I could have forgiven even that-but to be monkey-led for a night to run the gauntlet through a string of amorous palming puppies !—to show paces like a managed filly !-Oh, Jack, there never can be but one man in the world whom a truly modest and delicate woman vught to pair with in a country-dance; and, even then, the rest of the couples should be her great-uncles and aunts !
Abs. Ay, to be sure !-grandfathers and grandmothers ! Faulk. If there be but one vicious mind in the set, 'twill spread like a contagion--the action of their pulse heats to the
lascivious movement of the jig--their quivering, warm-breathed sighs impregnate the very air--the atmosphere becomes electrical to love, and each amorous spark darts through every link of the chain I must leave you—I own I am somewhat flurried —and that confounded looby has perceived it.
[Going Abs. Nay, but stay, Faulkland, and thank Mr. Acres for his : good news. Faulk. Damn his news !
. · Abs. Ha ! ha! ha! poor Faulkland five minutes since-t, “nothing on earth could give him a moment's uneasiness !"
Acres. The gentleman wa’n't angry at my praising his mistress, was he ?
Abs. A little jealous, I believe, Bob.
Acres. You don't say so? Ha! ha! jealous of me—that's a good joke.
Abs. There's nothing strange in that, Bob; let me tell you, that sprightly grace and insinuating manner of yours will do some mischief among the girls here.
Acres. Ah! you joke-ha! ha! mischief-ha! ha! but you: 1 know I am not my own property, my dear Lydia has forestalled
She could never abide me in the country, because I used to dress so badly--but odds frogs and tambours! I shan't take: matters so here, now ancient madam has no voice in it: I'll make my old clothes know who's master, I shall straightway. cashier the hunting-frock, and render my leather breeches incapable. My hair has been in training some time.
Abs. Indeed !
Acres. Ay—and tho'ff the side curls are a little restive, my: hind-part takes it very kindly. Abs. Oh, you'll polish, I doubt not.
Acres. Absolutely I propose so—then if I can find out this Ensign Beverley, odds triggers and flints ! I'll make him know the difference o't.
Abs. Spoke like a man! But pray, Bob, I observe you have got an odd kind of a new method of swearing
Acres. Ha ! ha! you've taken notice of it'tis genteel, isn't it !—I didn't invent it myself though; but a commander in our militia, a great scholar, I assure you, says that there is no meaning in the common oaths, and that nothing but their antiquity makes them respectable ;—because, he says, the ancients would never stick to an oath or two, but would say, by Jove ! or by Bacchus ! or by Mars ! or by Venus ! or by Pallas, according to the sentiment: so that to swear with propriety, says my little
not expect it, for I was going to write to you though I did
major, the oath should be an echo to the sense; and this we call the oath referential or sentimental swearing—ha! ha! 'tis genteel, isn't it?
Abs. Very genteel, and very new, indeed and I dare say will supplant all other figures of imprecation.
Acres. Ay, ay, the best terms will grow obsolete.-Damus have had their day.
Abs. Ay-you may.
[Exit FAG. Acres. You have business with Sir Anthony.-I expect a message from Mrs. Malaprop at my lodgings. I have sent also to my dear friend, Sir Lucius O'Trigger. Adieu, Jack ! we must meet at night, when you shall give me a dozen bumpers to little Lydia.
Abs. That I will with all my heart.-[Exit ACRES.] Now for a parental lecture--I hope he has heard nothing of the business that has brought me here-I wish the gout had held him fast in Devonshire, with all my soul !
Enter SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE. Sir, I am delighted to see you here ; looking so wi! your sudden arrival at Bath made me apprehensive for your health.
Sir Anth. Very apprehensive, I dare say, Jack.-What, you are recruiting here, hey ?
Abs. Yes, sir, I am on duty.
a little matter of business. — Jack, I have been considering that I grow old and infirm, and shall probably not trouble you long.
Abs. Pardon me, sir, I never saw you look more strong and hearty; and I pray frequently that you may continue so.
Sir Anth. I hope your prayers may be heard, with all my heart. Well then, Jack, I have been considering that I am so strong and hearty I may continue to plague you a long time. Now, Jack, I am sensible that the income of your commission, and what I have hitherto allowed you, is but a small pittance for a lad of your spirit
Abs. Sir, you are very good.
Sir Anth. And it is my wish, while yet I live, to have my boy make some figure in the world. I have resolved, therefore, to fix you at once in a noble independence.
Abs. Sir, your kindness overpowers me—such generosity makes the gratitude of reason more lively than the sensations even of filial affection.
Sir Anth. I am glad you are so sensible of my attentionand you shall be master of a large estate in a few weeks.
Abs. Let my future life, sir, speak my gratitude; I cannot express the sense I have of your munificence.--Yet, sir, I presume you would not wish me to quit the army?
Sir Anth. Oh, that shall be as your wife chooses.
Sir Anth. Ay, ay, settle that between you—settle that be. tween you.
Abs, A wife, sir, did you say?
Sir Anth. Odd so !-I mustn't forget her, though.— Yes, Jack, the independence I was talking of is by a marriage-the fortune is saddled with a wife—but I suppose that makes no difference.
Abs. Sir! sir !-you amaze me !
Sir Anth. Why, what the devil's the matter with the fool ? Just now you were all gratitude and duty.
Abs. I was, sir--you talked to me of independence and a fortune, but not a word of a wife.
Sir Anth. Why, what difference does that make? Odds life, sir ! if you have the estate, you must take it with the live stock ca it, as it stands.
Abs. If my happiness is to be the price, I must beg leave to decline the purchase.—Pray, sir, who is the lady?
Sir Anth. What's that to you, sir ?_Come, give me you promise to love, and to marry her directly.
Abs. Sure, sir, this is not very reasonable, to summon my affections for a lady I know nothing of !
Sir Anth. I am sure, sir, 'tis more unreasonable in you to object to a lady you know siothing of. Abs. Then, sir, I must tell you plainly that my
inclinations are fixed on another-my heart is engaged to an angel.
Sir Anth. Then pray let it send an excuse. It is very sorry -but business prevents its waiting on her. Abs. But my vows are pledged to her.