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Come, let me see with what spirit you begin ? Well, why don't you
! Eh! What? Well then I must, it seemsMiss Richland, my dear, I believe you guess at our business ; an affair which my son here comes to open, that nearly concerns your happiness.
Miss Rich. Sir, I should be ungrateful not to be pleased with any thing that comes recommended by you.
Croak. How, boy, could you desire a finer opening ? Why don't you begin, I say?
[To Leont. Leont. 'Tis true, madam, my father, madam, has some intentions—hem-of explaining an affair—which-himself-can best explain, madam.
Croak. Yes, my dear; it comes entirely from my son ; it's all a request of his own, madam. And I will permit him to make the best of it.
Leont. The whole affair is only this, madam ; my father has a proposal to make, which he insists none but himself shall deliver.
Croak. My mind misgives me, the fellow will never be brought on (Aside.) In short, madam, you see before you one that loves you ; one whose whole happiness is
all in you.
Miss Rich. I never had any doubts of your regard, Sir : and I hope you can have none of my duty.
Croak. That's not the thing, my little sweeting; my love! No, no, another-guess lover than I; there he stands, madam, his very looks declare the force of his passion-Call up a look, you dog (Aside.)—But then, had you seen him, as I have, weeping, speaking soliloquies and blank verse, sometimes melancholy, and sometimes absent
Miss Rich. I fear, Sir, he's absent now; or such a declaration would have come most properly from himself.
Croak. Himself ! madam, he would die before he could make such a confession; and if he had not a channel
for his passion through me, it would ere now have drowned his understanding.
Miss Rich. I must grant, Sir, there are attractions in modest diffidence above the force of words. A silent address is the genuine eloquence of sincerity.
Croak. Madam, he has forgot to speak any other language ; silence is become his mother tongue.
Miss Rich. And it must be confessed, Sir, it speaks very powerfully in his favour. And yet I shall be thought too forward in making such a confession; shan't I, Mr. Leontine ?
Leont. Confusion ! my reserve will undo me. But, if modesty attracts her, impudence may disgust her. I'll try. (Aside.) Don't imagine from my silence, madam, that I want a due sense of the honour and happiness intended me. My father, madam, tells me, your humble servant is not totally indifferent to you.—He admires you ; I adore you ; and when we come together, upon my
soul I believe we shall be the happiest couple in all St. James's.
Miss Rich. If I could flatter myself, you thought as you speak, Sir
Leont. Doubt my sincerity, madam ? By your dear self I swear. Ask the brave if they desire glory ? ask cowards, if they covet safety
Croak. Well, well, no more questions about it.
Leont. Ask the sick, if they long for health ? ask misers, if they love money ? ask
Croak. Ask a fool, if they can talk nonsense! What's come over the boy ? What signifies asking, when there's not a soul to give you an answer ? If you would ask to the purpose, ask this lady's consent to make you happy.
Miss Rich. Why indeed, Sir, his uncommon ardour almost compels me—forces me to comply. And yet I'm afraid he'll despise a conquest gained with too much ease : won't you,
Mr. Leontine ?
Leont. Confusion ! (Aside.) Oh, by no means, madam, by no means. And yet, madam, you talk'd of force. There is nothing I would avoid so much as compulsion in a thing of this kind. No, madam, I will still be generous, and leave you at liberty to refuse.
Croak. But I tell you, Sir, the lady is not at liberty. It's a match. You see she says nothing. Silence gives consent.
Leont. But, Sir, she talk'd of force. Consider, Sir, the cruelty of constraining her inclinations.
Croak. But I say there's no cruelty. Don't you know, blockhead, that girls have always a roundabout way of saying yes before company ? So get you both gone together into the next room, and hang him that interrupts the tender explanation. Get you gone, I say; I'll not hear a word.
Leont. But, Sir, I must beg leave to insist
Croak. Get off, you puppy, or I'll beg leave to insist upon knocking you down. Stupid whelp! But I don't wonder! the boy takes entirely after his mother.
[Exeunt Miss Rich and Leont.
Enter Mrs. Croaker. Mrs. Croak. Mr. Croaker, I bring you something, my dear, that I believe will make you smile.
Croak. I'll hold you a guinea of that, my dear.
Mrs. Croak. A letter; and, as I knew the hand, I ventur'd to open it.
Croak. And how can you expect your breaking open my letters should give me pleasure ?
Mrs. Croak. Poo, it's from your sister at Lyons, and contains good news ; read it.
Croak. What a Frenchified cover is here! That sister of mine has some good qualities, but I could never teach her to fold a letter.
Mrs. Croak. Fold a fiddlestick. Read what it contains.
Croak. (reading.) · DEAR NICK,
An English gentleman, of large fortune, has for some time made private, though honourable proposals to your daughter Olivia. They love each other tenderly, and I find she has consented, without letting any of the family know, to crown his addresses. As such good offers don't come every day, your own good sense, his large fortune, and family considerations, will induce you to forgive her.
My daughter Olivia privately contracted to a man of large fortune! This is good news, indeed. My heart never foretold me of this. And yet, how slily the little baggage has carried it since she came home, not a word on’t to the old ones for the world. Yet, I thought I saw something she wanted to conceal.
Mrs. Croak. Well, if they have concealed their amour, they shan't conceal their wedding ; that shall be public, I'm resolv'd.
Croak. I tell thee, woman, the wedding is the most foolish part of the ceremony. I can never get this woman to think of the most serious part of the nuptial engagement.
Mrs. Croak. What, would you have me think of their funeral ? But come, tell me, my dear, don't you owe more to me than you care to confess? Would you have ever been known to Mr. Lofty, who has undertaken Miss Richland's claim at the treasury, but for me? Who was it first made him an acquaintance at lady Shabbaroon's rout? Who got him to promise us his interest ? Is not he a back-stairs favourite, one that can do what he pleases with those that do what they please? Is not he an acquaintance that all your groaning and lamentation could never have got us ?
Croak. He is a man of importance, I grant you. And yet what amazes me is, that, while he is giving away places to all the world, he can't get one for himself.
Mrs. Croak. That perhaps may be owing to his nicety. Great men are not easily satisfied.
Enter French Servant. Serv. An expresse from Monsieur Lofty. He vil be vait upon your honour's instamment. He be only giving four five instruction, read two tree memorial, call upon von ambassadeur. He vil be vid you in one tree minutes.
Mrs. Croak. You see now, my dear. What an extensive department! Well, friend, let your master know, that we are extremely honoured by this honour. Was there any thing ever in a higher stile of breeding? All messages among the great are now done by express.
Croak. To be sure, no man does little things with more solemnity, or claims more respect than he. But he's in the right on’t. In our bad world, respect is given, where respect is claim'd.
Mrs. Croak. Never mind the world, my dear; you were never in a pleasanter place in your life.
Let us now think of receiving him with proper respect, (a loud rapping at the door,) and there he is, by the thundering rap.
Croak. Ay, verily, there he is ! as close upon the heels of his own express, as an indorsement upon the back of a bill. Well, I'll leave you to receive him, whilst I go
to chide my little Olivia for intending to steal a marriage without mine, or her aunt's consent. I must seem to be angry, or she too may begin to despise my authority.