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MRS. HARD. I
sha'n't. Tony. We'll see which is strongest, you or I.
[Exit, hauling her out. HARD. (solus). Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate! the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE HARD. Blessings on my pretty innocence! drest out as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
Miss HARD. You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress to please you.
HARD. Well, remember, I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the by, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I don't comprehend your meaning
HARD. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself shortly after.
Miss HARD. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I sha'n't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
HARD. Depend upon it, child, I'll never control your choice; but Mr. Marlow whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss HARD. Is he?
Miss HARD. My dear papa, say no more (kissing his hand), he's mine; I'll have him.
HARD. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
Miss HARD. Eh ! you have frozen me to death again. That word reserved has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
HARD. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very
feature in his character that first struck me.
Miss HARD. He must have more striking features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so everything as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
HARD. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
Miss HARD. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so? Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
HARD. Bravely resolved! In the meantime I'll go prepare " the servants for his reception: as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster.
[Exit. Miss Hard. (Alone.) Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a flutter. Young, handsome: these he put last; but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved and sheepish; that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud
of his wife? Yes, and can't I—But I vow I'm disposing of the husband before I have secured the lover.
Enter Miss NEVILLE Miss HARD. I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there anything whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face to-day?
Miss Nev. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look againbless me!-sure no accident has happened among the canary birds or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last novel been too moving ?
Miss HARD. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened—I can scarce get it out-I have been threatened with a lover.
Miss NEV. And his name-
Miss Nev. As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him when we lived in town.
Miss HARD. Never.
Miss Nev. He's a very singular character, I assure you. Among women of reputation and virtue he is the modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of another stamp: you understand me.
Miss HARD. An odd character indeed. I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony as usual ?
Miss Nev. have just come from one of our agreeable tête-à-têtes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
Miss HARD. And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation.
Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of the family.
Miss Nev. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son; and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed upon another.
Miss HARD. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so.
Miss Nev. It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons! Courage is necessary, as our affairs are critical. Miss HARD. “Would it were bed-time, and all were well.”
SCENE-An Alehouse Room. Several shabby Fellows with punch and
tobacco. TONY at the head of the table, a little higher than the rest, a mallet in his hand
OMNES. Hurrea ! hurrea ! hurrea ! bravo!
FIRST FEL. Now, gentlemen, silence for a song. The 'squire is going to knock himself down for a song.
OMNES. Ay, a song, a song !
Tony. Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a song I made upon this alehouse, the Three Pigeons.
Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning,
Gives genus a better discerning.
Their Lethes, their Styxes, and Stygians,
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
When methodist preachers come down,
A-preaching that drinking is sinful,
111 wager the rascals a crown,
They always preach best with a skinful.
For a slice of their scurvy religion,
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
Then come, put the jorum about,
And let us be merry and clever,
Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever.
Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons;
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
OMNES. Bravo, bravo!
SECOND FEL. I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never gives us nothing that's low.
THIRD FEL. O damn anything that's low, I cannot bear it.
FOURTH FEL. The genteel thing is the genteel thing any time: if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation accordingly.
THIRD FEL. I likes the maxum of it, Master Muggins. What, though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear ever dances but to the very genteelest of tunes; Parted,” or “The Minuet in Ariadne."
SECOND FEL. What a pity it is the 'squire is not come to his own. It would be well for all the publicans within ten miles round of him.
Tony. Ecod, and so it would, Master Slang. I'd then show what it was to keep choice of company.
SECOND FEL. O he takes after his own father for that. To be sure old 'Squire Lumpkin was the finest gentleman I ever set my eyes on. For winding the straight horn, or beating a thicket for a hare, or a wench, he never had his fellow. It was a saying in the place, that he kept the best horses, dogs, and girls, in the whole county.