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SCENE I. A CHAMBER IN AN OLD-FASHIONED HOUSE.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MR. HARDCASTLE.
Mrs. Hard. I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbour Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month's 5 polishing every winter.
Hard. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home! In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel 10 faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket.
Mrs. Hard. Ay, your times were fine times indeed; you have been telling us of them for many a long year. Here we live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for 15 all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned 20 trumpery.
Hard. And I love it. I love every thing that's old : old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines; and, I believe, Dorothy (Taking her hand.), you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.
Mrs. Hard. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're for ever at your Dorothy's, and your old wives. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make money of that.
Hard. Let me see; twenty added to twenty makes just fifty and seven.
Mrs. Hard. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle; I was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by
Mr. Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to 15 years of discretion yet.
Hard. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you have taught him finely.
Mrs. Hard. No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think 20 a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a year.
Hard. Learning, quotha ! a mere composition of tricks and mischief.
Mrs. Hard. Humour, my dear: nothing but humour. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little 25 humour.
Hard. I'd sooner allow him an horse-pond. If burning the footmen's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens be humour, he has it. It was but yesterday
he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when 30 I went to make a bow, I popt my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.
Mrs: Hard. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger who knows what a year or two's Latin may do for him?
Hard. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle. No, no, the 5 ale-house and the stable are the only schools he'll ever
Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Any body that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
Hard. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like 15 a speaking trumpet - (TONY hallooing behind the scenes.)
(Tony . O there he goes -- a very consumptive figure, truly !
Enter Tony, crossing the stage. Mrs. Hard. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee?
Tony. I'm in haste, mother, I cannot stay.
Mrs. Hard. You shan't venture out this raw evening, my dear. You look most shockingly.
Tony. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
Hard. Ay; the ale-house, the old place; I thought so. Mrs. Hard. A low, paltry set of fellows.
Tony. Not so low neither. There's Dick Muggins the exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, little Aminidab
that grinds the music-box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter.
Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
Tony. As for disappointing them I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
Mrs. Hard. (Detaining him.) You shan't go.
[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 20 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 25 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.