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Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE
Abs. (Aside.) To what fine purpose I have been plotting ! a noble reward for all my schemes, upon my soul l-a little gipsy KI did not think her romance could have made her so damned absurd either. 'Sdeath, I never was in a worse humour in my life !-I could cut my own throat, or any other person's, with the greatest pleasure in the world I
Sir Luc. Oh, faith! I'm in the luck of it. I never could have found him in a sweeter temper for my purpose-to be sure I'm just come in the nick! Now to enter into conversation with him, and so quarrel genteelly.- [Goes up to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.) With regard to that matter, captain, I must beg leave to differ in opinion with you.
Abs. Upon my word, then, you must be a very subtle disputant :--because, sir, I happened just then to be giving no opinion at all.
Sir Luc. That's no reason. For give me leave to tell you, a man may think an untruth as well as speak one.
Abs. Very true, sir; but if a man never utters his thoughts, I should think they might stand a chance of escaping controversy.
Sir Luc. Then, sir, you differ in opinion with me, which amounts to the same thing.
Abs. Hark’ee, Sir Lucius; if I had not before known you to be a gentleman, upon my soul, I should not have discovered it at this interview : for what you can drive at, unless you mean to quarrel with me, I cannot conceive !
Sir Luc. I humbly thank you, sir, for the quickness of your apprehension.--(Bowing.) You have named the very thing I would be at.
Abs. Very well, sir; I shall certainly not balk your inclinations. But I should be glad you would please to explain your motives.
Sir Luc. Pray, sir, be easy; the quarrel is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it. However, your memory is very short, or you could not have forgot an affront you passed on me within this week. So, no more, but name your time and place.
Abs. Well, sir, since you are so bent on it, the sooner the better; let it be this evening—here, by the Spring Gardens. We shall scarcely be interrupted.
Sir Luc. Faith! that same interruption in affairs of this nature shows very great ill-breeding. I don't know what's the reason, but in England, if a thing of this kind gets wind, people make such a pother, that a gentleman can never fight in peace and quietness. However, if it's the same to you, captain, I should take it as a particular kindness if you'd let us meet in King's-Mead-Fields, as a little business will call me there about six o'clock, and I may despatch both matters at once.
Abs. 'Tis the same to me exactly. A little after six, then, we will discuss this matter more seriously.
Sir Luc. If you please, sir ; there will be very pretty small-sword light, though it won't do for a long shot. So that matter's settled, and my mind 's at ease ! [Exit
Abs. Well met. I was going to look for you. O Faulkland! all the demons of spite and disappointment have conspired against me! I'm so vexed, that if I had not the prospect of a resource in being knocked o' the head by-andby, I should scarce have spirits to tell you the cause.
Faulk. What can you mean ? Has Lydia changed her mind ?-I should have thought her duty and inclination would now have pointed to the same object.
Abs. Ay, just as the eyes do of a person who squints : when her love-eye was fixed on me, t'other, her eye of duty, was finely obliqued : but when duty bid her point that the same way, off t’other turned on a swivel, and secured its retreat with a frown !
Faulk. But what's the resource you
Abs. Oh, to wind up the whole, a good-natured Irishman here has—[Mimicking SIR LUCIUS]-begged leave to have the pleasure of cutting my throat ; and I mean to indulge him-that's all.
Faulk. Prithee, be serious !
Abs. 'Tis fact, upon my soul ! Sir Lucius O'Trigger_you know him by sight-for some affront, which I am sure I never intended, has obliged me to meet him this evening at six o'clock : 'tis on that account I wished to see you ; you must go with me.
Faulk. Nay, there must be some mistake, sure. Sir Lucius shall explain himself, and I dare say matters may be accommodated. But this evening did you say? I wish it had been any other time.
Abs. Why? there will be light enough : there will (as Sir Lucius says) be very pretty small-sword light, though it will not do for a long shot. Confound his long shots!
Faulk. But I am myself a good deal ruffled by a difference I have had with Julia. My vile tormenting temper has made me treat her so cruelly, that I shall not be myself till we are reconciled.
Abs. By heavens Faulkland, you don't deserve her !
Enter SERVANT, gives FAULKLAND. a letter, and exit
Faulk. Oh, Jack ! this is from Julia. I dread to open it! I fear it may be to take a last leave -perhaps to bid me return her letters, and restore-Oh, how I suffer for my folly!
Abs. Here, let me see.-[Takes the letter and opens it.] Ay, a final sentence, indeed K'tis all over with you, faith!
Faulk. Nay, Jack, don't keep me in suspense !
Abs. Hear then. [Reads.) As I am convinced that my dear Faulkland's own reflections have already upbraided him for his last unkindness to me, I will not add a word on the subject. I wish to speak with you as soon as possible. Yours ever and truly, JULIA. There's stubbornness and resentment for you l-[Gives him the letter.] Why, man, you don't seem one whit the happier at this !
Faulk. O yes, I am ; but-but
Abs. Confound your buts ! you never hear anything that would make another man bless himself, but you immediately damn it with a 'but !
Faulk. Now, Jack, 'as you are my friend, own honestlydon't you think there is something forward, something indelicate, in this haste to forgive ? Women should never sue for reconciliation : that should always come from us. They should retain their coldness till wooed to kindness; and their pardon, like their love, should “not unsought be won.'
Abs. I have not patience to listen to you! thou 'rt incorrigible ! so say no more on the subject. I must go to settle a few matters. Let me see you before six, remember, at my lodgings. A poor industrious devil like me, who have toiled, and drudged, and plotted to gain my ends, and am at last disappointed by other people's folly, may in pity be allowed to swear and grumble a little ; but a captious sceptic in love, a slave to fretfulness and whim, who has no difficulties but of his own creating, is a subject more fit for ridicule than compassion!
Exit Faulk. I feel his reproaches; yet I would not change this too exquisite nicety for the gross content with which he tramples on the thorns of love ! \ His engaging me in this duel has started an idea in my head, which I will instantly pursue. Thuse it as the touchstone of Julia's sincerity and disinterestedness. If her love prove pure and sterling ore, my name will rest on it with honour; and once I’ye stamped it there, I lay aside my doubts for ever! But if the dross of selfishness, the alloy of pride, predominate, 'twill be best to leave her as a toy for some less cautious fool to sigh for!
SCENE I. -JULIA's Dressing Room
JULIA discovered alone
Jul. How this message has alarmed me! what dreadful accident can he mean ? why such charge to be alone ?-0 Faulkland how many unhappy moments—how many tears have you cost me.
Jul. What means this ?—why this caution, Faulkland ? Faulk. Alas! Julia, I am come to take a long farewell. Jul. Heavens ! what do you mean ?
Faulk. You see before you a wretch, whose life is forfeited. Nay, start not k-the infirmity of my temper has drawn all this misery on me. I left you fretful and passionate-an untoward accident drew me into a quarrel—the event is, that I must fly this kingdom instantly. O Julia, had I been so fortunate as to have called you mine entirely, before this mischance had fallen on me, I should not so deeply dread my banishment !
Jul. My soul is oppressed with sorrow at the nature of your misfortune : had these adverse circumstances arisen from a less fatal cause, I should have felt strong comfort in the thought that I could now chase from your bosom every doubt of the warm sincerity of my love. My heart has long known no other guardian-I now entrust my person to your honour-we will fly together. When safe from pursuit, my father's will may be fulfilled—and I receive a legal claim to be the partner of your sorrows, and tenderest comforter. Then on the bosom of your wedded Julia, you may lull your keen regret to slumbering; while virtuous love, with a cherub's hand, shall smooth the brow of upbraiding thought, and pluck the thorn from compunction.
Faulk. O Julia ! I am bankrupt in gratitude ! but the time is so pressing, it calls on you for so hasty a resolution.
-Would you not wish some hours to weigh the advantages you forego, and what little compensation poor Faulkland can make you beside his solitary love ?
Jul. I ask not a moment. No, Faulkland, I have loved you for yourself : and if I now, more than ever, prize the solemn engagement which so long has pledged us to each other, it is because it leaves no room for hard aspersions on my fame, and puts the seal of duty to an act of love. But let us not linger. Perhaps this delay
Faulk. 'Twill be better I should not venture out again till dark. Yet am I grieved to think what numberless distresses will press heavy on your gentle disposition !
Jul. Perhaps your fortune may be forfeited by this unhappy act.-I know not whether 'tis so; but sure that alone can never make us unhappy. The little I have will be sufficient to support us ; an exile never should be splendid.
Faulk. Ay, but in such an abject state of life, my wounded pride perhaps may increase the natural fretfulness of my temper, till I become a rude, morose companion, beyond your patience to endure. Perhaps the recollection of a deed my conscience cannot justify may haunt me in such gloomy and unsocial fits, that I shall hate the tenderness that would relieve me, break from your arms, and quarrel with your fondness!
Jul. If your thoughts should assume so unhappy a bent, you will the more want some mild and affectionate spirit to watch over and console you': one who, by bearing your infirmities with gentleness and resignation, may teach you so to bear the evils of your fortune.
Faulk. Julia, I have proved you to the quick | and with this useless device I throw away all my doubts. How shall I plead to be forgiven this last unworthy effect of my restless, unsatisfied disposition ? .
Jul. Has no such disaster happened as you related ? Faulk. I am ashamed to own that it was pretended ; yet