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Croak. The best of them will never be canoniz'd for a saint when she's dead. By the bye, my dear friend, I don't find this match between Miss Richland and my son much relished, either by one side or t’other.
Honeyw. I thought otherwise.
Croak. Ah, Mr. Honeywood, a little of your fine serious advice to the young lady might go far: I know she has a very exalted opinion of your understanding.
Honeyw. But would not that be usurping an authority that more properly belongs to yourself?
Croak. My dear friend, you know but little of my authority at home. People think, indeed, because they see me come out in a morning thus, with a pleasant face, and to make my friends merry, that all's well within. But I have cares that would break an heart of stone. My wife has so encroached upon every one of my privileges, that I'm now no more than a mere lodger in my own house.
Honeyw. But a little spirit exerted on your side might perhaps restore your authority.
Croak. No, though I had the spirit of a lion! I do rouse sometimes. But what then ! always haggling and haggling. A man is tired of getting the better before his wife is tired of losing the victory.
Honeyw. It's a melancholy consideration indeed, that our chief comforts often produce our greatest anxieties, and that an increase of our possessions is but an inlet to new disquietudes. Croak. Ah, my dear friend, these were the very
words of poor
Dick Doleful to me not a week before he made away with himself. Indeed, Mr. Honeywood, I never see you but you put me in mind of poor—Dick. Ah, there was merit neglected for you! and so true a friend ; we lov'd each other for thirty years, and yet he never asked me to lend him a single farthing.
Honeyw. Pray what could induce him to commit so rash an action at last ?
Croak. I don't know, some people were malicious enough to say it was keeping company with me ; because we used to meet now and then and open our hearts to each other. To be sure I lov’d to hear him talk, and he lov'd to hear me talk; poor dear Dick. He us’d to
< say that Croaker rhym'd to joker : and so we us'd to laugh-Poor Dick.
[Going to cry. Honeyw. His fate affects me.
Croak. Ay, he grew sick of this miserable life, where we do nothing but eat and grow hungry, dress and undress, get up and lie down; while reason, that should watch like a nurse by our side, falls as fast asleep as we do.
Honeyw. To say truth, if we compare that part of life which is to come, by that which we have past, the prospect is hideous.
Croak. Life at the greatest and best is but a froward child, that must be humour'd and coax'd a little till it falls asleep, and then all the care is over.
Honeyw. Very true, Sir, nothing can exceed the vanity of our existence, but the folly of our pursuits. We wept when we came into the world, and every day tells us why.
Croak. Ah, my dear friend, it is a perfect satisfaction to be miserable with you. My son Leontine shan't lose the benefit of such fine conversation. I'll just step home for him. I am willing to show him so much seriousness in one scarce older than himself—And what if I bring my last letter to the Gazetteer on the increase and progress of earthquakes? It will amuse us, I promise you. I there prove how the late earthquake is coming round to pay us another visit, from London to Lisbon, from Lisbon to the Canary Islands, from the Canary Islands to Palmyra, from Palmyra to Constantinople, and so from Constantinople back to London again. [Exit.
Honeyw. Poor Croaker! his situation deserves the utmost pity. I shall scarce recover my spirits these three days. Sure, to live upon such terms is worse than death itself. And yet, when I consider my own situation, a broken fortune, a hopeless passion, friends in distress ; the wish but not the power to serve them—(pausing and sighing).
But. More company below, sir; Mrs. Croaker and Miss Richland ; shall I shew them up ? but they're shewing up themselves.
Enter Mrs. Croaker and Miss Richland. Miss Rich. You're always in such spirits.
Mrs. Croak. We have just come, my dear Honeywood, from the auction. There was the old deaf dowager, as usual, bidding like a fury against herself. And then so curious in antiques ! herself the most genuine piece of antiquity in the whole collection.
Honeyw. Excuse me, ladies, if some uneasiness from friendship makes me unfit to share in this good humour : I know you'll pardon me.
Mrs. Croak. I vow he seems as melancholy as if he had taken a dose of my husband this morning. Well, if Richland here can pardon you, I must.
Miss Rich. You would seem to insinuate, madam, that I have particular reasons for being disposed to refuse it.
Mrs. Croak. Whatever I insinuate, my dear, don't be so ready to wish an explanation.
Miss Rich. I own I should be sorry, Mr. Honeywood's long friendship and mine should be misunderstood.
Honeyw. There's no answering for others, madam, But I hope you'll never find me presuming to offer more than the most delicate friendship may readily allow.
Miss Rich. And I shall be prouder of such a tribute from you than the most passionate professions from others.
Honeyw. My own sentiments, madam : friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals ; love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.
Miss Rich. And, without a compliment, I know none more disinterested, or more capable of friendship, than Mr. Honeywood.
Mrs. Croak. And, indeed, I know nobody that has more friends, at least among the ladies. Miss Fruzz, Miss Odbody, and Miss Winterbottom, praise him in all companies. As for Miss Biddy Bundle, she's his professed admirer.
Miss Rich. Indeed ! an admirer ! I did not know, Sir, you were such a favourite there.
But is she seriously so handsome? Is she the mighty thing talked of?
Honeyw. The town, madam, seldom begins to praise a lady's beauty, till she's beginning to lose it. (Smiling.) Mrs. Croak. But she's resolved never to lose it, it
For, as her natural face decays, her skill improves in making the artificial one. Well, nothing diverts me more than one of those fine, old, dressy things, who thinks to conceal her age, by every where exposing her person; sticking herself up in the front of a side box : trailing through a minuet at Almack's; and then, in the public gardens, looking for all the world like one of the painted ruins of the place.
Honeyw. Every age has its admirers, ladies. While you, perhaps, are trading among the warmer climates of youth; there ought to be some to carry on a useful commerce in the frozen latitudes beyond fifty.
Miss Rich. But, then, the mortifications they must suffer, before they can be fitted out for traffic. I have seen one of them fret a whole morning at her hairdresser, when all the fault was her face.
Honeyw. And yet, I'll engage, has carried that face at last to a very good market. This good-natur’d town, madam, has husbands, like spectacles, to fit every age, from fifteen to fourscore.
Mrs. Croak. Well, you're a dear good-natur'd creature. But you know you're engaged with us this morning upon a strolling party. I want to shew Olivia the town, and the things ; I believe I shall have business for you for the whole day.
Honeyw. I am sorry, madam, I have an appointment with Mr. Croaker, which it is impossible to put off.
Mrs. Croak. What! with my husband! then I'm resolv'd to take no refusal. Nay, I protest you must. You know I never laugh so much as with you.
Honeyw. Why, if I must, I must. I'll swear you have put me into such spirits. Well, do you find jest, and I'll find laugh, I promise you. We'll wait for the chariot in the next room.
Enter Leontine and Olivia. Leont. There they go, thoughtless and happy. My dearest Olivia, what would I give to see you capable of sharing in their amusements, and as chearful as they are?
Oliv. How, my Leontine, how can I be chearful, when I have so many terrors to oppress me? The fear of being detected by this family, and the apprehensions of a censuring world, when I must be detected
Leont. The world! my love, what can it say ? At worst it can only say that, being compelled by a mercenary guardian to embrace a life you disliked, you formed a resolution of flying with the man of your choice; that you confided in his honour, and took refuge in my father's house ; the only one where your's could remain without
Oliv. But consider, Leontine, your disobedience and