페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

to Beverley, charged him with his falsehood, put myself in a violent passion, and vowed I'd never see him more.

Jul. And you let him depart so, and have not seen him since ?

Lyd. . 'Twas the next day my aunt found the matter out. I intended only to have teased him three days and a half, and now I've lost him for ever.

Jul. If he is as deserving and sincere as you have represented him to me, he will never give you up so. Yet, consider, Lydia, you tell me he is but an ensign, and you have thirty thousand pounds.

Lyd. But you know I lose most of my fortune if I marry without my aunt's- consent, till of age; and that is what I have determined to do, ever since I knew the penalty. Nor could I love the man who would wish to wait a day for the alternative.

Jul. Nay, this is caprice!

Lyd. What, does Julia tax me with caprice ?-I thought her lover Faulkland had inured her to it.

Jul. I do not love even his faults.
Lyd. But apropos—you have sent to him, I suppose ?

Jul. Not yet, upon my word-nor has he the least idea of my being in Bath. Sir Anthony's resolution was so sudden, I could not inform him of it.

Lyd. Well, Julia, you are your own mistress (though under the protection of Sir Anthony), yet have you for this long year, been a slave to the caprice, the whim, the jealousy of this ungrateful Faulkland, who will ever delay assuming the right of a husband, while you suffer him to be equally imperious as a lover.

Jul. Nay, you are wrong entirely. We were contracted before my father's death. That, and some consequent embarrassments, have delayed what I know to be my Faulkland's most ardent wish. He is too generous to trifle on such a point-and for his character, you wrong him there, too. No, Lydia, he is too proud, too noble, to be jealous; if he is captious, 'tis without dissembling; if fretful, wiihout rudeness. Unused to the fopperies of love, he is negligent of the little duties expected from a lover-but being unhackneyed in the passion, his affection is ardent and sincere ; and as it engrosses his whole soul, he expects every thought and emotion of his mistress to move in unison with his. Yet, though his pride calls for this full return, his humility makes him undervalue those qualities in him which would entitle him to it; and not feeling why he should be loved to the degree he wishes, he still

[ocr errors]

suspects that he is not loved enough. This temper, I must own, has cost me many unhappy hours ; but I have learned to think myself his debtor, for those imperfections which arise from the ardour of his attachment.

Lyd. Well, I cannot blame you for defending him. But tell me candidly, Julia, had he never saved your life, do you think you should have been attached to him as you are ?-Believe me, the rude blast that overset your boat was a prosperous gale of love to him.

Jul. Gratitude may have strengthened my attachment to Mr. Faulkland, but I loved him before he had preserved me; yet surely that alone were an obligation sufficient.

Lyd. Obligation ! why a water spaniel would have done as much !-Well

, I should never think of giving my heart to a man because he could swim.

Jul. Come, Lydia, you are too inconsiderate.
Lyd. Nay, I do but jest—What's here?

Re-enter Lucy in a hurry.
Lucy. O ma'am, here is Sir Anthony Absolute just come
home with your aunt.
Lyd. They'll not come here.-Lucy, do you watch. .

[Exit LUCY. Jul. Yet I must go. Sir Anthony does not know I am here, and if we meet, he'll detain me, to show me the town. I'll take another opportunity of paying my respects to Mrs. Malaprop, when she shall treat me, as long as she chooses, with her select words so ingeniously misapplied, without being mispronounced.

Re-enter LUCY.
Lucy. O Lud! ma'am, they are both coming upstairs.

Lyd. Well, I'll not detain you, coz.—Adieu, my dear Julia.
I'm sure you are in haste to send to Faulkland-There-
through my room you'll find another staircase.
Jul. Adieu !

[Embraces LYDIA, and exit. Lyd. Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books. Quick, quick! -Fling Peregrine Pickle under the toilet-throw Roderick Random into the closet-put The Innocent Adultery into The Whole Duty of Manthrust Lord Aimworth under the sofacram Ovid behind the bolster--there-put The Man of Feeling into your pocket-so, so—now lay Mrs. Chapone in sight, and leave Fordyce's Sermons open on the table.

Lucy. O burn it, ma'am! the hair-dresser has torn away as tar as Proper Pride.

Lyd. Never mind--open at Sobriety.-Fling me Lord Chesterfield's Letters.—Now for 'em.

[Exit Lucy. Enter Mrs. MALAPROP, and Sir ANTHONY ABSOLUTE. Mrs. Mal. There, Sir Anthony, there sits the deliberate simpleton who wants to disgrace her family, and lavish herself on a fellow not worth a shilling.

Lyd. Madam, I thought you once

Mrs. Mal. You thought, miss! I don't know any business you have to think at all—thought does not become a young

But the point we would request of you is, that you will promise to forget this fellow-to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.

Lyd. Ah, madam ! our memories are independent of our wills. It is not so easy to forget.

Mrs. Mal. But I say it is, miss; there is nothing on earth so easy as to forget, if a person chooses to set about it. I'm sure I have as much forgot your poor dear uncle as if he had never existed—and I thought it my duty so to do; and let me tell you, Lydia, these violent memories don't become a young

woman.

woman.

Sir Anth. Why sure she won't pretend to remember what she's ordered not !-ay, this comes of her reading !

Lyd. What crime, madam, have I committed, to be treated thus ?

Mrs. Mal. Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the matter; you know I have proof controvertible of it.-—But tell me, will you promise to do as you're bid? Will you

take a husband of your friends' choosing ?

Lyd. Madam, I must tell you plainly, that had I no preferment for any one else, the choice you have made would be my aversion.

Mrs. Mal. What business have you, miss, with preference and aversion ? They don't become a young woman; and you ought to know, that as both always wear off, 'tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion. I am sure I hated your poor dear uncle before marriage as if he'd been a blackamoor-and yet, miss, you are sensible what a wife I made ! —and when it pleased Heaven to release me from him, 'tis unknown what tears I shed !-But suppose we were going to give you another choice, will you promise us to give up this Beverley?

Lyd. Could I belie my thoughts so far as to give that promise, my actions would certainly as far belie my words.

Mrs. Mal. Take yourself to your room.—You are fit company for nothing but your own ill-humours. Lyd. Willingly, ma’am-I cannot change for the worse.

[Exit. Mrs. Mal. There's a little intricate hussy for you !

Sir Anth. It is not to be wondered at, ma'am,—all this is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read. Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet !

Mrs. Mal. Nay, nay, Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy.

Sir Anth. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I obscrved your niece's maid coming forth from a circulating library ! She had a book in each hand they were half-bound volumes, with marble covers ! From that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see her mistress !

Mrs. Mal. Those are vile places, indeed !

Sir Anth. Madam, a circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year !-And depend on it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves, will long for the fruit at last.

Mrs. Mal. Fy, fy, Sir Anthony ! you surely speak laconi. cally.

Sir Anth. Why, Mrs. Malaprop, in moderation now, what would

you have a woman know? Mrs. Mal. Observe me, Sir Anthony. I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew,(or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning-neither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments.-But, Sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts ;-and as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries ; --but above all, Sir Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not misspell, and mis-pronounce words so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know ;—and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.

Sir Anth. Well, well, Mrs. Malaprop, I will dispute the point no further with you ; though I must confess that you are a truly moderate and polite arguer, for almost every third word you say is on my side of the question. But, Mrs. Malaprop, to the more important point in debate--you say you have no objection to my proposal ?

Mrs. Mal. None, I assure you. I am under no positive engagement with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia is so obstinate against him, perhaps your son may have better success.

Sir Anth. Well, madam, I will write for the boy directly. He knows not a syllable of this yet, though I have for some time had the proposal in my head. He is at present with his regiment.

Mrs. Mal. We have never seen your son, Sir Anthony ; but I hope no objection on his side.

Sir Anth. Objection !-let him object if he dare !--No, no, -Mrs. Malaprop, Jack knows that the least demur puts me in a frenzy directly. My process was always very simple in their younger days, 'twas “ Jack, do this ;"—if he demurred, I knocked him down-and if he grumbled at that, I always sent him out of the room.

Mrs. Mal. Ay, and the properest way, o' my conscience !-nothing is so conciliating to young people as severity.-- Well, Sir Anthony, I shall give Mr. Acres his discharge, and prepare Lydia to receive your son's invocations.;--and I hope you will represent her to the captain as an object not altogether illegible. erettigetale

Sir Anth. Madam, I will handle the subject prudently.-Well, I must leave you ; and let me beg you, Mrs. Malaprop, to enforce this matter roundly to the girl.—Take my advicekeep a tight hand : if she rejects this proposal, clap her under lock and key; and if you were just to let the servants forget to bring her dinner for three or four days, you can't conceive how she'd come about.

[Exit. Mrs. Mal. Well, at any rate, I shall be glad to get her from under my intuition. She has somehow discovered my partiality for Sir Lucius O'Trigger-sure, Lucy can't have betrayed me !-No, the girl is such a simpleton, I should have made her confoss it.-Lucy! - Lucy !--[Calls.] Had she been one of your artificial ones,

I should never have trusted her.

Re-enter Lucy. Luy. Did you call, ma'am ?

Mrs. Mal. Yes, girl.–Did you see Sir Lucius while you was out?

« 이전계속 »