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chastity! Not an hour since she sent them, imprudently sent them, by a servant of this house: contagious infamy started from their touch.
Eger. Sir, do you but clear her conduct with Melville, and I will instantly satisfy your fears concerning the jewels and her virtue.
Mel. Sir, you give me new life; you are my better angel: I believe in your words-your looks. Know, then, I am that Melville.
Lord L. I doubt it much, Sir Pertinax; I doubt it much. But what is it, sir? what is your expedient?
Sir P. My lord, I have another son, Sandy-eh! he's a guid lad; and, provided the lady and your lordship have nae objection till him, every article of that rebel's intended marriage shall be amply fulfilled upon Lady Rodolpha's union with my younger son.
Lord L. Why, that is an expedient, indeed, Sir Pertinax. But what say you, Rodolpha?
Lady L. Nay, nay, my lord; as I ha nae reason to have the least affection till my cousin Egerton, and as my intended marriage with him was entirely an act of obedience till my grandmother, provided my cousin Sandy will be as agreeable till her ladyship as my cousin Charles here would have been, I have nae the least objection till the change. Ay, ay; one brother is as good to Rodolpha as another. Sir P. I'll answer, madam, for your grandmother. Now, my lord, what say you?
Lord L. Nay, Sir Pertinax, so the agreement stands, all is right again. Come, child, let us begone. Ay, ay; so my affairs are made easy, it is equal to me whom she marries. I say, Sir Pertinax, let them be but easy, and rat me if I care if she incorporates with the cham of Tartary. [Exit. Sir P. As to you, my Lady Macsycophant, I suppose you concluded, before you gave your consent till this match, that there would be an end of a' intercourse betwixt you and me. You shall have a jointure; but not a bawbee besides, living or dead, shall you, or any of your issue, ever see of mine: and so, madam, live with your Constantia, with your son, and with that d-d black sheep there. [Exit. Lady R. Weel, cousin Egerton, in spite of the ambitious frenzy of your father, and the thoughtless dissipation of mine, Don Cupid has at last carried his point in favour of his devotees. But I must now take my leave; and so, guid folks, I will leave you with the fag end of an auld north-country wish: "May mutual love and guid humour be the guest of your hearts, the theme of your tongues, and the blithsome subjects of aw your tricksome MAC-world; and may our fathers be an example till ourdreams through the rugged road of this deceitful selves, to treat our bairns better than they have treated us." [Exit.
Eger. You seem melancholy, sir. Mel. These precarious turns of fortune, sir, will press upon the heart; for, notwithstanding my Constantia's happiness, and mine in hers, I own, I cannot help feeling some regret, that my misfortunes should be the cause of any disagreement be tween a father and the man to whom I am under the most endearing obligations.
Eger. You have no share in his disagreement: if affluence can procure content aud ease, they are within our reach. My fortune is ample, and shall be dedicated to the happiness of this domestic circle.
Sir P. How, sir? you that Melville that was at farmer Hodge's?
Mel. The same, sir; it was he brought my Constantia to my arms-lodged and secreted me; once my lowly tenant, now my only friend. The fear of inexorable creditors made me change my name from Harrington to Melville, till I could see and consult some who once called themselves my friends.
Eger. Sir, suspend your fears and anger but for a few minutes; I will keep my word with you religiously, and bring your Constantia to your arms, as virtuous and as happy as you could wish her. [Exit with Lady Mac. Sir P. The clearing up of this wench's virtue is d-d unlucky; I am afraid it will ruin a' our affairs again; however, I have one stroke still in my head that will secure the bargain with my lord, let matters gang as they will. (Aside.) But I wonder, Maister Melville, that you did nae pick up some little matter of siller in the Indies. Ah! there have been bonny fortunes snapt up there, of late years, by some of the military blades.
Mel. It is very true, sir; but it is an observation among soldiers, that there are some men who never meet with anything in the service, but blows and ill-fortune. I was one of those, even to a proverb.
Sir P. Ah! 'tis pity, sir, a great pity, now, that you did nae get a Mogul, or some sic an animal, intill your clutches. Ah! I should like to have the strangling of a nabob, the rummaging of his gold dust, his jewel-closet, and a' his magazines of bars and ingots. Ha, ha, ha! guid traith, naw, sie an a fellow would be a bonny cheeld to bring till this town, and to exhibit him riding on an elephant; upon honour, a man might raise a poll-tax by him, that would gang near to pay the debts of the nation.
Enter EGERTON, CONSTANTIA, LADY
and the lady proposed by the intended match with him.
Eger. Sir, I promised to satisfy your fears concerning your daughter's virtue; and my best proof is, that I have made her the partner of my heart, and the tender guardian of my earthly happiness for life.
Sir P. How! married!
Eger. I know, sir, at present, we shall meet your anger; but time, reflection, and our dutiful conduct, we hope, will reconcile you to our happiness. Sir P. Never, never! and, could I make you, her, and a' your issue beggars, I would move hell, heaven, and earth to do it.
Lord L. Why, Sir Pertinax, this is a total revolution, and will entirely ruin my affairs
Sir P. My lord, with the consent of your lordship and Lady Rodolpha, I have an expedient to offer, that will not only punish that rebellious villain, but answer every end that your lordship
My scheme, though mock'd by knave, coquette, and fool,
Not wealth, but morals, make the happy life. [Exeunt
Luc. And is this your advice?
Luc. Here's my hand; positively, I'll follow it. I have already sent to my gentleman, who is now in the country, to let him know he may come hither this day; we will make use of the opportunity to settle all preliminaries, and then-but take notice, whenever we decamp, you march off along with us.
Ros. Oh! madam, your servant; I have no inclination to be left behind, I assure you. But you say you got acquainted with this spark, while you were with your mother during her last illness at Bath, so that your father has never seen him.
Luc. Never in his life, my dear; and, I am confident, he entertains not the least suspicion of my having any such connexion: my aunt, indeed, has her doubts and surmises; but, besides that, my father will not allow any one to be wiser than himself, it is an established maxim between these affectionate relations, never to agree in anything.
Ros. Except being absurd; you must allow they sympathize perfectly in that. But, now we are on the subject, I desire to know what I am to do with this wicked old justice of peace, this father of yours? He follows me about the house like a tame goat.
Luc. Nay, I'll assure you he hath been a wag in his time; you must have a care of yourself.
Ros. Wretched me! to fall into such hands, who have been just forced to run away from my parents to avoid an odious marriage. You smile at that now; and I know you think me whimsical, as you have often told me; but you must excuse my being a little over-delicate in this particular.
My heart's my own, my will is free, And so shall be my voice;
No mortal man shall wed with me, Till first he's made my choice.
Let parents rule, cry nature's laws,
Ros. It is the only character, my dear, in which I could hope to lie concealed; and, I can tell you, I was reduced to the last extremity, when in consequence of our old boarding-school friendship, I applied to you to receive me in this capacity; for we expected the parties the very next week.
Luc. But had not you a message from your intended spouse, to let you know he was as little inclined to such ill-concerted nuptials as you were?
Ros. No matter; I'll sit down in that arbour, and listen to the singing of the birds: you know I am fond of melancholy amusements.
Luc. So it seems, indeed: sure, Rosetta, none of your admirers had power to touch your heart; you are not in love, I hope?
Ros. In love! that's pleasant: who do you suppose I should be in love with, pray?
Luc. Why, let me see; what do you think of Thomas, our gardener? There he is at the other end of the walk. He's a pretty young man, and the servants say, he's always writing verses on you. Ros. Indeed, Lucinda, you are very silly.
Luc. Indeed, Rosetta, that blush makes you look very handsome.
Ros. Blush! I am sure I don't blush.
Luc. Ha, ha, ha!
Ros. Psha! Lucinda, how can you be so ridiculous?
Luc. Well, don't be angry, and I have done. But suppose you did like him, how could you help yourself.
[Exeunt into arbour. Enter Young MEADOWS.
Young M. Let me see; on the fifteenth of June, at half an hour past five in the morning. (taking out a pocket-book,) I left my father's house unknown to any one, having made free with a coat and jacket of our gardener's that fitted me, by way of a disguise; so says my pocket-book: and chance
directing me to this village, on the twentieth of the same month I procured a recommendation to the worshipful justice Woodcock, to be the superintendant of his pumpkins and cabbages, because I would let my father see, 1 chose to run any lengths, rather than submit to what his obstinacy would have forced me to, a marriage against my inclination with a woman I never saw. (Puts up the book, and takes up a watering-pot.) Here I have been three weeks, and in that time I am as much altered as if I had changed my nature with my habit. 'Sdeath; to fall in love with a chambermaid! And yet, if I could forget that I am the son and heir of sir William Meadows-But that's impossible.
O! had I been by fate decreed
My sheep upon the plain!
What bliss had I been born to taste,
Ha! who was it I had a glimpse of as I passed by that arbour? Was it not she sat reading there? The trembling of my heart tells me my eyes were not mistsken. Here she comes.
Enter ROSETTA from the arbour.
Ros. Lucinda was certainly in the right of it; and yet I blush to own my weakness, even to myself. Marry, hang the fellow for not being a gentleman.
Young M. I am determined not to speak to her. (Turning to a rose-tree, and plucking the flowers.) Now or never is the time to conquer myself; besides, I have some reason to suppose the girl has no aversion to me; and, as I wish not to do her an injury, it would be cruel to fill her head with notions of what can never happen. (Hums a tune.) Psha! rot these roses, how they prick one's fingers!
Ros. He takes no notice of me, but so much the better; I'll be as indifferent as he is. I am sure the poor lad likes me; and, if I were to give him any encouragement, I suppose the next thing he talked of would be buying a ring, and being asked in church. Oh, dear pride! I thank you for that thought
Young H. Ha! going without a word-a look! I can't bear that. Mrs. Rosetta, I am gathering a few roses here, if you please to take them in with you.
Ros. Thank you, Mr. Thomas, but all my lady's flower-pots are full,
Young H. Will you accept of them yourself, then? (Catching hold of her.) What's the matter? you look as if you were angry with me,
Ros. Pray let go my hand. Young H. Nay, pry'thee, why is this? you shan't go, I have something to say to you.
Ros. Well, but I must go-I will go; I desire, Mr. Thomas
Gentle youth, ah, tell me why Still you force me thus to fly? Cease, Oh! cease to persevere! Speak not what I must not hear
To my heart its ease restore; Go, and never see me more.
Young H. This girl is a riddle. That she loves me I think there is no room to doubt; she takes a thousand opportunities to let me see it: and yet, when I speak to her, she will hardly give me an answer; and if I attempt the smallest familiarity, she is gone in an instant. I feel my passion grow for her every day more and more violent. Well; would I marry her? would I make a mistress of her, if I could? Two things, called prudence and honour, forbid either. What am I pursuing, then? A shadow, Sure my evil genius laid this snare in my way. However, there is one comfort: it is in my power to fly from it; if so, why do I hesitate? I am distracted-unable to determine anything.
Still in hopes to get the better
SCENE IL-A Hall in Justice Woodcock's house, Enter HAWTHORN, with a fowling piece in his hand, and a net with birds at his girdle.
There was a jolly miller once,
He work'd and sung from morn till night;
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.
House! Here, house! What, all gadding, all abroad! House, I say! hilli-ho-ho!
Jus. W. (Without.) Here's a noise, here's a racket! William, Robert, Hodge! why does not somebody answer? Ods-my-life, I believe the fellows have lost their hearing!
Enter JUSTICE WOODCOCK.
Oh, master Hawthorn! I guessed it was some such mad-cap. Are you there?
Haw. Am I here? Yes: and, if you had been where I was three hours ago, you would have found the good effects of it by this time: but you have got the lazy, unwholesome London fashion of lying a-bed in a morning, and there's gout for you. Why, sir, I have not been in bed five minutes after sunrise these thirty years; am generally up before it; and I never took a dose of physic but once in my life, and that was in compliment to a cousin of mine, an apothecary, that had just set up busi
Haw. What, when I maintain the contrary?Look you, neighbour Woodcock, you are a rich man, a man of worship, a justice of peace, and all that; but learn to know the respect that is due to the sound from the infirm; and allow me that superiority, a good constitution gives me over you. Health is the greatest of all possessions; and, 'tis a maxim with me, that a hale cobbler is a better man than a sick king."
Jus. W. Well, well, you are a sportsman.
Haw. And so would you be too, if you would take my advice. A sportsman! why, there is nothing like it. I would not exchange the satisfaction I feel, while I am beating the lawns and thickets about my little farm, for all the entertainment and pageantry in Christendom.
The honest heart, whose thoughts are clear,
Haw. Come, come, never mind the act; let me tell you, this is a very proper, a very useful meeting. I want a servant or two myself: I must go see what your market affords; and you shall go, and the girls, my little Lucy and the other young rogue, and we'll make a day on't as well as the rest. Jus. W. I wish, master Hawthorn, I could teach you to be a little more sedate: why won't you take pattern by me, and consider your dignity? Ods heart, I don't wonder you are not a rich man; you laugh too much ever to be rich.
Haw. Right, neighbour Woodcook! health, good humour, and competence, is my motto: and, if my executors have a mind, they are welcome to make it my epitaph.
The greatness that would make us grave
What more than mirth would mortals have?
Enter LUCINDA, HODGE going off.
Luc. Hist, hist, Hodge!
Hodge. Who calls? Here am I.
Luc. Well, have you been?
Hodge. Been? ay, I ha' been far enough, an that be all: you never knew anything fall out so crossly in your born days.
Hodge. Did your worship call, sir?
Jus. W. Call, sir! Where have you and the rest of the rascals been? but I suppose I need not ask. You must know there is a statute, a fair for hiring servants, held upon my green to day; we have it usually at this season of the year, and it never fails to put all the folks hereabout out of their
Hodge. Lord, your honour, look out and see what a nice show they make yonder: they had got pipers, and fiddlers, and were dancing as I came along, for dear life.-I never saw such a mortal throng in our village in all my born days again.
Haw. Why, I like this now; this is as it should
Jus. W. No, no, 'tis a very foolish piece of business; good for nothing but to promote idleness and the getting of bastards: but I shall take mea-waistcoat pocket. Oh, here it is. sures for preventing it another year, and I doubt whether I am not sufficiently authorized already; for by an act passed Anno undecimo Carolo primi, which empowers a justice of peace, who is lord of
Luc. Why, what's the matter?
Hodge. Why, you know, I dare not take a horse out of his worship's stables this morning, for fear it should be missed, and breed questions; and our old nag at home was so cruelly beat i' th' hoofs, that, poor beast, it had not a foot to set to ground! so I was fain to go to farmer Ploughshare's, at the Grange, to borrow the loan of his bald filly; and, would you think it? after walking all that way, de il from me, if the cross-grained toad did not deny me the favour.
Hodge. Well, then I went my ways to the King'shead in the villege, but all their cattle were at plough: and I was as far to seek below at the turnpike: so at last, for want of a better, I was forced to take up with dame Quickset's blind mare.
Luc. Oh, then you have been?
Luc. Psha! why did you not say so at once? Hodge. Ay, but I have had a main tiresome jaunt on't, for she is a sorry jade at best.
Luc. Well, well, did you see Mr. Eustace, and what did he say to you? Come, quick; have you e'er a letter?
Hodge. Yes, he gave me a letter, if I ha'na' lost
Luc. Lost it, man!
Hodge. Nay, nay, have a bit of patience: adwawns! you are always in such a hurry: (rummaging his pockets,) I put it somewhere in this
Luc. So give it me. (Reads the letter to herself.)
Hodge. Lord a mercy! how my arm aches with beating that plaguy beast! I'll be hang'd if I won'na' rather ha' thrash'd half a day, than ha' ridden her.
Luc. Well, Hodge, you have done your business very well.
Hodge. Well, have not I now?
Luc. Yes: Mr. Eustace tells me in this letter that he will be in the green lane, at the other end of the village, by twelve o'clock; you know where he came before?
Hodge. Ay, ay.
Luc. Well, you must go there, and wait till he arrives; and watch your opportunity to introduce him, across the fields, into the little summer-house, on the left side of the garden.
Hodge. That's enough.
Luc. But take particular care that nobody sees you.