The Clandestine Marriage/Act II< The Clandestine Marriage
SCENE an anti-chamber to Lord Ogleby's bed-chamber—Table with chocolate, and ſmall caſe for medicines.
Enter Bruſh, my Lord's valet-de-chambre, and Sterling's chamber-maid.
Bruſh.YOU ſhall ſtay, my dear, I inſiſt upon it.
Ch. Maid. Nay, pray, Sir, don't be ſo poſitive; I can't ſtay indeed.
Bruſh. You ſhall take one cup to our better acquaintance.
Ch. Maid. I ſeldom drinks chocolate; and if I did, one has no ſatisfaction, with ſuch apprehenſions about one—if my Lord ſhould wake, or the Swiſh gentleman ſhould ſee one, or Madam Heidelberg ſhould know of it, I ſhould be frighted to death—beſides I have had my tea already this morning—I'm ſure I hear my Lord. [in a fright.
Bruſh. No, no, Madam, don't flutter yourſelf—the moment my Lord wakes, he rings his bell, which I anſwer ſooner or later, as it ſuits my convenience.
Ch. Maid. But ſhould he come upon us without ringing—
Bruſh. I'll forgive him if he does—This key [takes a phial out of the caſe] locks him up till I pleaſe to let him out.
Ch. Maid. Law, Sir! that's potecary's-ſtuff.
Bruſh. It is ſo—but without this he can no more get out of bed—than he can read without ſpectacles—[ſips.] What with qualms, age, rheumatiſm, and a few ſurfeits in his youth, he muſt have a great deal of bruſhing, oyling, ſcrewing, and winding up to let him a going for the day.
Ch. Maid. [ſips.] That's prodigious indeed—[ſips.] My Lord ſeems quite in a decay.
Bruſh. Yes, he's quite a ſpectacle, [ſips.] a mere corpſe, till he is reviv'd and refreſh'd from our little magazine here—When the reſtorative pills, and cordial waters warm his ſtomach, and get into his head, vanity friſks in his heart, and then he ſets up for the lover, the rake, and the fine gentleman.
Ch. Maid. [ſips.] Poor gentleman!—but ſhould the Swiſh gentleman come upon us. [frighten'd.
Bruſh. Why then the Engliſh gentleman would be very angry—No foreigner muſt break in upon my privacy. [ſips.] But I can aſſure you Monſieur Canton is otherwiſe employ'd—He is oblig'd to ſkim the cream of half a ſcore news-papers for my Lord's breakfaſt—ha, ha, ha. Pray, Madam, drink your cup peaceably—My Lord's chocolate is remarkably good, he won't touch a drop but what comes from Italy.
Ch. Maid. [ſipping.] 'Tis very fine indeed!—[ſips.] and charmingly perfum'd—it ſmells for all the world like our young ladies dreſſing-boxes.
Bruſh. You have an excellent taſte, Madam, and I muſt beg of you to accept of a few cakes for your own drinking, [takes 'em out of a drawer in the table.] and in return, I deſire nothing but to taſte the perfume of your lips—[kiſſes her.]—A ſmall return of favours, Madam, will make, I hope, this country and retirement agreeable to both. [he bows, ſhe curtſies.] Your young ladies are fine girls, faith: [ſips.] tho' upon my ſoul, I am quite of my old lord's mind about them; and were I inclin'd to matrimony, I ſhould take the youngeſt. [ſips.]
Ch. Maid. Miſs Fanny's the moſt affableſt and the moſt beſt nater'd creter!
Bruſh. And the eldeſt a little haughty or ſo——
Ch. Maid. More haughtier and prouder than Saturn himſelf—but this I ſay quite confidential to you, for one would not hurt a young lady's marriage, you know. [ſips.]
Bruſh. By no means, but you can't hurt it with us—we don't conſider tempers—we want money, Mrs. Nancy—give us enough of that, we'll abate you a great deal in other particulars—ha, ha, ha.
Ch. Maid. Bleſs me, here's ſomebody—[bell rings.]—O! 'tis my Lord—Well, your ſervant, Mr. Bruſh—I'll clean the cups in the next room.
Bruſh. Do ſo—but never mind the bell—I ſhan't go this half hour.—Will you drink tea with me in the afternoon?
Ch. Maid. Not for the world, Mr. Bruſh—I'll be here to ſet all things to rights—but I muſt not drink tea indeed—and ſo your ſervant. [Exit Maid with tea-board.
[Bell rings again.]
Bruſh. It is impoſſible to ſtupify one's ſelf in the country for a week without ſome little flirting with the Abigails:—this is much the handſomeſt wench in the houſe, except the old citizen's youngeſt daughter, and I have not time enough to lay a plan for Her—[Bell rings.] And now I'll go to my Lord, for I have nothing elſe to do. [going.
Enter Canton with news-papers in his hand.
Cant. Monſieur Bruſh—Maiſtre Bruſh—My Lor ſtirra yet?
Bruſh. He has juſt rung his bell—I am going to him.
Cant. Depechez vous donc. [Exit Bruſh.] [Puts on ſpeftacles.] I wiſh de Deviel had all deſe papiers—I forget, as faſt as I read—De Advertiſe put out of my head de Gazette, de Gazette de Chronique, and ſo dey all go l'un apres l'autre—I muſt get ſome nouvelle for my Lor, or he'll be enragée contre moi—Voyons!—[Reads in the papers.] Here is noting but Anti-Sejanus & advertiſe——
Enter Maid with chocolate things.
Vat you vant, child?——
Ch. Maid. Only the chocolate things, Sir.
Cant. O ver well—dat is good girl—and ver prit too! [Exit Maid.
Lord Ogleby within.
L. Ogle. Canton, he, he—[coughs.]—Canton!
Cant. I come my Lor—vat ſhall I do?—I have no news—He vill make great tintamarre!—
L. Ogle. [within.] Canton, I ſay, Canton! Where are you?—
Enter Lord Ogleby leaning on Bruſh.
Cant. Here my Lor, I aſk pardon my Lor, I have not finiſh de papiers—
L. Ogle. Dem your pardon, and your papers—I want you here. Canton.
Cant. Den I run, dat is all—[ſhuffles along—Lord Ogleby leans upon Canton too, and comes forward.
L. Ogle. You Swiſs are the moſt unaccountable mixture—you have the language and the impertinence of the French, with the lazineſs of Dutchmen.
Cant. 'Tis very true, my Lor—I can't help—
L. Ogle. [cries out.] O Diavolo!
Cant. You are not in pain, I hope, my Lor.
L. Ogle. Indeed but I am, my Lor—That vulgar fellow Sterling, with his city politeneſs, would force me down his ſlope laſt night to ſee a clay-colour'd ditch, which he calls a canal; and what with the dew, and the eaſt-wind, my hips and ſhoulders are abſolutely ſcrew'd to my body.
Cant. A littel veritable eau d'arquibuſade vil ſet all to right again— [My Lord ſits down, Bruſh gives chocolate.
L. Ogle. Where are the palſy-drops, Bruſh?
Bruſh. Here, my Lord! [Pouring out.
L. Ogle. Quelle nouvelle avez vous, Canton?
Cant. A great deal of papier, but no news at all.
L. Ogle. What! nothing at all, you ſtupid fellow?
Cant. Yes, my Lor, I have littel advertiſe here vil give you more plaiſir den all de lyes about noting at all. La voila! [Puts on his ſpectacles.
L. Ogle. Come read it, Canton, with good emphaſis, and good diſcretion.
Cant. I vil, my Lor—[Cant. reads.] Dere is no queſtion, but dat de Coſmetique Royale vil utterlie take away all heats, pimps, frecks & oder eruptions of de ſkin, and likewiſe de wrinque of old age, &c. &c.—A great deal more, my Lor—be ſure to aſk for de Coſmetique Royale, ſigned by de Docteur own hand—Dere is more raiſon for dis caution dan good men vil tink—Eh bien, my Lor!
L. Ogle. Eh bien, Canton!—Will you purchaſe any?
Cant. For you, my Lor?
L. Ogle. For me, you old puppy! for what?
Cant. My Lor?
L. Ogle. Do I want coſmeticks?
Cant. My Lor!
L. Ogle. Look in my face—come, be ſincere—Does it want the aſſiſtance of art?
Cant. [with his ſpectacles.] En veritè, non.—'Tis very ſmooſe and brillian—but I tote dat you might take a little by way of prevention.
L. Ogle. You thought like an old fool, Monſieur, as you generally do—The ſurfeit-water, Bruſh! [Bruſh pours out.] What do you think, Bruſh, of this family, we are going to be connected with?—Eh!
Bruſh. Very well to marry in, my Lord; but it would not do to live with.
L. Ogle. You are right, Bruſh—There is no waſhing the Blackamoor white—Mr. Sterling will never get rid of Black-Fryars, always taſte of the Borachio—and the poor woman his ſiſter is ſo buſy and ſo notable, to make one welcome, that I have not yet got over her firſt reception; it almoſt amounted to ſuffocation! I think the daughters are tolerable—Where's my cephalick ſnuff? [Bruſh gives him a box.
Cant. Dey tink ſo of you, my Lor, for dey look at noting elſe, ma foi.
L. Ogle. Did they?—Why, I think they did a little—Where's my glaſs? [Bruſh puts one on the table.] The youngeſt is delectable. [Takes ſnuff.
Cant. O, ouy, my Lor—very delect, inteed; ſhe made doux yeux at you, my Lor.
L. Ogle. She was particular—the eldeſt, my nephew's lady, will be a moſt valuable wife; ſhe has all the vulgar ſpirits of her father, and aunt, happily blended with the termagant qualities of her deceaſed mother.—Some pepper-mint water, Bruſh!—How happy is it, Cant, for young ladies in general, that people of quality overlook every thing in a marriage contract but their fortune.
Cant. C'eſt bien heureux, et commode auſſi.
L. Ogle. Bruſh, give me that pamphlet by my bed-ſide—[Bruſh goes for it.] Canton, do you wait in the anti-chamber, and let nobody interrupt me till I call you.
Cant. Muſh goot may do your Lorſhip!
L.Ogle. [To Bruſh, who brings the pamphlet.] And now, Bruſh, leave me a little to my ſtudies. [Exit Bruſh.
Lord Ogleby alone.
What can I poſſibly do among theſe women here, with this confounded rheumatiſm? It is a moſt grievous enemy to gallantry and addreſs—[Gets off his chair.]—He!—Courage, my Lor! by heav'ns, I'm another creature—[Hums and dances a little.] It will do, faith—Bravo, my Lor! theſe girls have abſolutely inſpir'd me—If they are for a game of romps—Me voila pret! [Sings and dances.] O—that's an ugly twinge—but it's gone—I have rather too much of the lily this morning in my complexion; a faint tincture of the roſe will give a delicate ſpirit to my eyes for the day. [Unlocks a drawer at the bottom of the glaſs, and takes out rouge; while he's painting himſelf, a knocking at the door.] Who's there! I won't be diſturb'd.
Canton. [without.] My Lor, my Lor, here is Monſieur Sterling to pay his devoir to you this morn in your chambre.
L. Ogle. [ſoftly.] What a fellow!—[aloud.] I am extreamly honour'd by Mr. Sterling—Why don't you ſee him in, Monſieur?—I wiſh he was at the bottom of his ſtinking canal— [Door opens.] Oh, my dear Mr. Sterling, you do me a great deal of honour.
Enter Sterling and Lovewell.
Sterl. I hope, my Lord, that your Lordſhip ſlept well in the night—I believe there are no better beds in Europe than I have—I ſpare no pains to get 'em, nor money to buy 'em—His Majeſty, God bleſs him, don't ſleep upon a better out of his palace; and if I had ſaid in too, I hope no treaſon, my Lord.
L. Ogle. Your beds are like every thing elſe about you, incomparable!—They not only make one reſt well, but give one ſpirits, Mr. Sterling.
Sterl. What ſay you then, my Lord, to another walk in the garden? You muſt ſee my water by day-light, and my walks, and my ſlopes, and my clumps, and my bridge, and my flow'ring trees, and my bed of Dutch tulips—Matters look'd but dim laſt night, my Lord; I feel the dew in my great toe—but I would put on a cut ſhoe that I might be able to walk you about—I may be laid up to-morrow.
L. Ogle. I pray heav'n you may! [aſide.]
Sterl. What ſay you, my Lord!
L. Ogle. I was ſaying, Sir, that I was in hopes of ſeeing the young ladies at breakfaſt: Mr. Sterling, they are, in my mind, the fineſt tulips in this part of the world—he, he.
Cant. Braviſſimo, my Lor!—ha, ha, he.
Sterl. They ſhall meet your Lordſhip in the garden—we won't loſe our walk for them; I'll take you a little round before breakfaſt, and a larger before dinner, and in the evening you ſhall go the Grand Tower, as I call it, ha, ha, ha.
L. Ogle. Not a foot, I hope, Mr. Sterling—conſider your gout, my good friend—You'll certainly be laid by the heels for your politeneſs—he, he, he.
Cant. Ha, ha, ha—'tis admirable! en veritè!—
[Laughing very heartily.
Sterl. If my young man [to Lovewell] here, would but laugh at my jokes, which he ought to do, as Mounſeer does at yours, my Lord, we ſhould be all life and mirth.
L. Ogle. What ſay you, Cant, will you take my kinſman under your tuition? you have certainly the moſt companionable laugh I ever met with, and never out of tune.
Cant. But when your lorſhip is out of ſpirits.
L. Ogle. Well ſaid, Cant,—but here comes my nephew, to play his part.
Enter Sir John Melvil.
Well, Sir John, what news from the iſland of Love? have you been ſighing and ſerenading this morning?
Sir John. I am glad to ſee your Lordſhip in ſuch ſpirits this morning.
L. Ogle. I'm ſorry to ſee you ſo dull, Sir—What poor things, Mr. Sterling, theſe very young fellows are! they make love with faces, as if they were burying the dead—though, indeed, a marriage ſometimes may be properly called a burying of the living—eh, Mr. Sterling?—
Sterl. Not if they have enough to live upon, my Lord—Ha, ha, ha.
Cant. Dat is all Monſieur Sterling tink of.
|Sir John. Prithee, Lovewell, come with me into the garden; I have ſomething of conſequence for you, and I muſt communicate it directly.||apart.|
|Lovew. We'll go together—|
|If your Lordſhip and Mr. Sterling pleaſe, we'll prepare the ladies to attend you in the garden.|
[Exeunt Sir John, and Lovewell.
Sterl. My girls are always ready, I make 'em riſe ſoon, and to-bed early; their huſbands ſhall have 'em with good conſtitutions, and good fortunes, if they have nothing elſe, my Lord.
L. Ogle. Fine things, Mr. Sterling!
Sterl. Fine things, indeed, my Lord!—Ah, my Lord, had not you run off your ſpeed in your youth, you had not been ſo crippled in your age, my Lord.
L. Ogle. Very pleaſant, I proteſt, He, he, he.— [Half-laughing.
Sterl. Here's Mounſeer now, I ſuppoſe, is pretty near your Lordſhip's ſtanding; but having little to eat, and little to ſpend, in his own country, he'll wear three of your Lordſhip out—eating and drinking kills us all.
L. Ogle. Very pleaſant, I proteſt—What a vulgar dog! [Aſide.
Cant. My Lor ſo old as me!—He is ſhicken to me—and look like a boy to pauvre me.
Sterl. Ha, ha, ha. Well ſaid, Mounſeer—keep to that, and you'll live in any country of the world—Ha, ha, ha.—But, my Lord, I will wait upon you into the garden; we have but a little time to breakfaſt—I'll go for my hat and cane, fetch a little walk with you, my Lord, and then for the hot rolls and butter!
L. Ogle. I ſhall attend you with pleaſure—Hot rolls and butter, in July!—I ſweat with the thoughts of it—What a ſtrange beaſt it is!
Cant. C'eſt un barbare.
L. Ogle. He is a vulgar dog, and if there was not ſo much money in the family, which I can't do without, I would leave him and his hot rolls and butter directly—Come along, Monſieur!
[Exeunt Lord Ogleby and Canton.
Scene changes to the Garden.
Enter Sir John Melvil, and Lovewell.
Lovew. In my room this morning? Impoſſible.
Sir John. Before five this morning, I promiſe you.
Lovew. On what occaſion?
Sir John. I was ſo anxious to diſcloſe my mind to you, that I could not ſleep in my bed—But I found that you could not ſleep neither—The bird was flown, and the neſt long ſince cold.—Where was you, Lovewell?
Lovew. Pooh! prithee! ridiculous!
Sir John. Come now! which was it? Miſs Sterling's maid? a pretty little rogue!—or Miſs Fanny's Abigail? a ſweet ſoul too!—or—
Lovew. Nay, nay, leave trifling, and tell me your buſineſs.
Sir John. Well, but where was you, Lovewell?
Lovew. Walking—writing—what ſignifies where I was?
Sir John. Walking! yes, I dare ſay. It rained as hard as it could pour. Sweet refreſhing ſhowers to walk in! No, no, Lovewell.—Now would I give twenty pounds to know which of the maids——
Lovew. But your buſineſs! your buſineſs, Sir John!
Sir John. Let me a little into the ſecrets of the family.
Sir John. Poor Lovewell! he can't bear it, I ſee. She charged you not to kiſs and tell.—Eh, Lovewell! However, though you will not honour me with your confidence, I'll venture to truſt you with mine.—What d'ye think of Miſs Sterling?
Lovew. What do I think of Miſs Sterling?
Sir John. Ay; what d'ye think of her?
Lovew. An odd queſtion!—but I think her a ſmart, lively girl, full of mirth and ſprightlineſs.
Sir John. All miſchief and malice, I doubt.
Sir John. But her perſon—what d'ye think of that?
Lovew. Pretty and agreeable.
Sir John. A little griſette thing.
Lovew. What is the meaning of all this?
Sir John. I'll tell you. You muſt know, Lovewell, that notwithſtanding all appearances—[ſeeing Lord Ogleby &c.] We are interrupted—When they are gone, I'll explain.
Enter Lord Ogleby, Sterling, Mrs. Heidelberg, Miſs Sterling, and Fanny.
Lord Ogle. Great improvements indeed, Mr. Sterling! wonderful improvements! The four ſeaſons in lead, the flying Mercury, and the baſin with Neptune in the middle, are all in the very extreme of fine taſte. You have as many rich figures as the man at Hyde-Park Corner.
Sterl. The chief pleaſure of a country houſe is to make improvements, you know, my Lord. I ſpare no expence, not I.—This is quite another-gueſs ſort of a place than it was when I firſt took it, my Lord. We were ſurrounded with trees. I cut down above fifty to make the lawn before the houſe, and let in the wind and the ſun—ſmack-ſmooth—as you ſee.—Then I made a green-houſe out of the old laundry, and turned the brew-houſe into a pinery.—The high octagon ſummer-houſe, you ſee yonder, is raiſed on the maſt of a ſhip, given me by an Eaſt-India captain, who has turned many a thouſand of my money. It commands the whole road. All the coaches and chariots, and chaiſes, paſs and repaſs under your eye. I'll mount you up there in the afternoon, my Lord. 'Tis the pleaſanteſt place in the world to take a pipe and a bottle,—and ſo you ſhall ſay, my Lord.
Lord Ogle. Ay—or a bowl of punch, or a can of flip, Mr. Sterling! for it looks like a cabin in the air.—If flying chairs were in uſe, the captain might make a voyage to the Indies in it ſtill, if he had but a fair wind.
Canton. Ha! ha! ha! ha!
Mrs. Heidel. My brother's a little comacal in his ideas, my Lord!—But you'll excuſe him.—I have a little gothic dairy, fitted up entirely in my own taſte.—In the evening I ſhall hope for the honour of your Lordſhip's company to take a diſh of tea there, or a ſullabub warm from the cow.
Lord Ogle. I have every moment a freſh opportunity of admiring the elegance of Mrs. Heidelberg—the very flower of delicacy, and cream of politeneſs.
|Mrs. Heidel. O my Lord!||leering at each other.|
|Lord Ogle. O Madam!|
Sterl. How d'ye like theſe cloſe walks, my Lord?
Lord Ogle. A moſt excellent ſerpentine! It forms a perfect maze, and winds like a true-lover's knot.
Sterl. Ay—here's none of your ſtrait lines here—but all taſte—zig-zag—crinkum crankum—in and out—right and left—to and again—twiſting and turning like a worm, my Lord!
Lord Ogle. Admirably laid out indeed, Mr. Sterling! one can hardly ſee an inch beyond one's noſe any where in theſe walks.—You are a moſt excellent œconomiſt of your land, and make a little go a great way.—It lies together in as ſmall parcels as if it was placed in pots out at your window in Gracechurch-Street.
Canton. Ha! ha! ha! ha!
Lord Ogle. What d'ye laugh at, Canton?
Canton. Ah! que cette ſimilitude eſt drole! So clever what you ſay, mi Lor!
Lord Ogle. [to Fanny.] You ſeem mightly engaged, Madam. What are thoſe pretty hands ſo buſily employed about?
Fanny. Only making up a noſegay, my Lord!—Will your Lordſhip do me the honour of accepting it? [Preſenting it.
Lord Ogle. I'll wear it next my heart, Madam!—I ſee the young creature doats on me. [Apart.
Miſs Sterl. Lord, ſiſter! you've loaded his Lordſhip with a bunch of flowers as big as the cook or the nurſe carry to town on Monday morning for a beaupot.—Will your Lordſhip give me leave to preſent you with this roſe and a ſprig of ſweet-briar?
Lord Ogle. The trueſt emblems of yourſelf, Madam! all ſweetneſs and poignancy.—A little jealous, poor ſoul! [Apart.
Sterl. Now, my Lord, if you pleaſe, I'll carry you to ſee my Ruins.
Mrs. Heidel. You'll abſolutely fatigue his Lordſhip with overwalking, Brother!
Lord Ogle. Not at all, Madam! We're in the garden of Eden, you know; in the region of perpetual ſpring, youth, and beauty. [Leering at the women.
Mrs. Heidel. Quite the man of qualaty, I perteſt. [Apart.
Canton. Take a my arm, mi Lor!
[Lord Ogleby leans on him.
Sterl. I'll only ſhew his Lordſhip my ruins, and the caſcade, and the Chineſe bridge, and then we'll go in to breakfaſt.
Lord Ogle. Ruins, did you ſay, Mr. Sterling?
Sterl. Ay, ruins, my Lord! and they are reckoned very fine ones too. You would think them ready to tumble on your head. It has juſt coſt me a hundred and fifty pounds to put my ruins in thorough repair.—This way, if your Lordſhip pleaſes.
Lord Ogle. [going, ſtops.] What ſteeple's that we ſee yonder? the pariſh-church, I ſuppoſe.
Sterl. Ha! ha! ha! that's admirable. It is no church at all, my Lord! it is a ſpire that I have built againſt a tree, a field or two off, to terminate the proſpect. One muſt always have a church, or an obeliſk, or a ſomething, to terminate the proſpect, you know. That's a rule in taſte, my Lord!
Lord Ogle. Very ingenious, indeed! For my part, I deſire no finer proſpect, than this I ſee before me. [leering at the women.]—Simple, yet varied; bounded, yet extenſive.—Get away, Canton! [puſhing away Canton.] I want no aſſiſtance.—I'll walk with the ladies.
Sterl. This way, my Lord!
Lord Ogle. Lead on, Sir!—We young folks here will follow you.—Madam!—Miſs Sterling!—Miſs Fanny! I attend you.
[Exit, after Sterling, gallanting the ladies.
Canton. [following.] He is cock o'de game, ma foy!
Manent Sir John Melvil, and Lovewell.
Sir John. At length, thank heaven, I have an opportunity to unboſom.—I know you are faithful, Lovewell, and flatter myſelf you would rejoice to ſerve me.
Lovew. Be aſſured, you may depend on me.
Sir John. You muſt know then, notwithſtanding all appearances, that this treaty of marriage between Miſs Sterling and me will come to nothing.
Sir John. It will be no match, Lovewell.
Lovew. No match?
Sir John. No.
Lovew. You amaze me. What ſhould prevent it?
Sir John. I.
Lovew. You! wherefore?
Sir John. I don't like her.
Lovew. Very plain indeed! I never ſuppoſed that you was extremely devoted to her from inclination, but thought you always conſidered it as a matter of convenience, rather than affection.
Sir John. Very true. I came into the family without any impreſſions on my mind—with an unimpaſſioned indifference ready to receive one woman as ſoon as another. I looked upon love, ſerious, ſober love, as a chimæra, and marriage as a thing of courſe, as you know moſt people do. But I, who was lately ſo great an infidel in love, am now one of its ſincereſt votaries.—In ſhort, my defection from Miſs Sterling proceeds from the violence of my attachment to another.
Lovew. Another! So! ſo! here will be fine work. And pray who is ſhe?
Sir John. Who is ſhe! who can ſhe be? but Fanny, the tender, amiable, engaging Fanny.
Lovew. Fanny! What Fanny?
Sir John. Fanny Sterling. Her ſiſter—Is not ſhe an angel, Lovewell?
Lovew. Her ſiſter? Confuſion!—You muſt not think of it, Sir John.
Sir John. Not think of it? I can think of nothing elſe. Nay, tell me, Lovewell! was it poſſible for me to be indulged in a perpetual intercourſe with two ſuch objects as Fanny and her ſiſter, and not find my heart led by inſenſible attraction towards Her?—You ſeem confounded—Why don't you anſwer me?
Lovew. Indeed, Sir John, this event gives me infinite concern.
Sir John. Why ſo?—Is not ſhe an angel, Lovewell?
Lovew. I foreſee that it muſt produce the worſt conſequences. Conſider the confuſion it muſt unavoidably create. Let me perſuade you to drop theſe thoughts in time.
Sir John. Never—never, Lovewell!
Lovew. You have gone too far to recede. A negotiation, ſo nearly concluded, cannot be broken off with any grace. The lawyers, you know, are hourly expected; the preliminaries almoſt finally ſettled between Lord Ogleby and Mr. Sterling; and Miſs Sterling herſelf ready to receive you as a huſband.
Sir John. Why the banns have been publiſhed, and nobody has forbidden them, 'tis true—but you know either of the parties may change their minds even after they enter the church.
Lovew. You think too lightly of this matter. To carry your addreſſes ſo far—and then to deſert her—and for her ſiſter too!—It will be ſuch an affront to the family, that they can never put up with it.
Sir John. I don't think ſo: for as to my transferring my paſſion from her to her ſiſter, ſo much the better!—for then, you know, I don't carry my affections out of the family.
Lovew. Nay, but prithee be ſerious, and think better of it.
Sir John. I have thought better of it already, you ſee. Tell me honeſtly, Lovewell! can you blame me? Is there any compariſon between them?
Lovew. As to that now—why that—that is juſt—juſt as it may ſtrike different people. There are many admirers of Miſs Sterling's vivacity.
Sir John. Vivacity! a medley of Cheapſide pertneſs, and Whitechapel pride.—No—no—if I do go ſo far into the city for a wedding-dinner, it ſhall be upon turtle at leaſt.
Lovew. But I ſee no probability of ſucceſs; for granting that Mr. Sterling wou'd have conſented to it at firſt, he cannot liſten to it now. Why did not you break this affair to the family before?
Sir John. Under ſuch embarraſſed circumſtances as I have been, can you wonder at my irreſolution or perplexity? Nothing but deſpair, the fear of loſing my dear Fanny, cou'd bring me to a declaration even now; and yet, I think I know Mr. Sterling ſo well, that, ſtrange as my propoſal may appear, if I can make it advantageous to him as a money-tranſaction, as I am ſure I can, he will certainly come into it.
Lovew. But even ſuppoſe he ſhould, which I very much doubt, I don't think Fanny herſelf wou'd liſten to your addreſſes.
Sir John. You are deceived a little in that particular.
Lovew. You'll find I am in the right.
Sir John. I have ſome little reaſon to think otherwiſe.
Lovew. You have not declared your paſſion to her already?
Sir John. Yes, I have.
Lovew. Indeed!—And—and—and how did ſhe receive it?
Sir John. I think it is not very eaſy for me to make my addreſſes to any woman, without receiving ſome little encouragement.
Lovew. Encouragement! did ſhe give you any encouragement?
Sir John. I don't know what you call encouragement—but ſhe bluſhed—and cried—and deſired me not to think of it any more:—upon which I preſt her hand—kiſſed it—ſwore ſhe was an angel—and I cou'd ſee it tickled her to the ſoul.
Lovew. And did ſhe expreſs no ſurpriſe at your declaration?
Sir John. Why, faith, to ſay the truth, ſhe was a little ſurpriſed—and ſhe got away from me too, before I cou'd thoroughly explain myſelf. If I ſhould not meet with an opportunity of ſpeaking to her, I muſt get you to deliver a letter from me.
Lovew. I!—a letter!—I had rather have nothing—
Sir John. Nay, you promiſed me your aſſiſtance—and I am ſure you cannot ſcruple to make yourſelf uſeful on ſuch an occaſion.—You may, without ſuſpicion, acquaint her verbally of my determined affection for her, and that I am reſolved to aſk her father's conſent.
Lovew. As to that, I—your commands, you know—that is, if ſhe—Indeed, Sir John, I think you are in the wrong.
Sir John. Well—well—that's my concern—Ha! there ſhe goes, by heaven! along that walk yonder, d'ye ſee?—I'll go to her immediately.
Lovew. You are too precipitate. Conſider what you are doing.
Sir John. I wou'd not loſe this opportunity for the univerſe.
Lovew. Nay, pray don't go! Your violence and eagerneſs may overcome her ſpirits.—The ſhock will be too much for her.
Sir John. Nothing ſhall prevent me.—Ha! now ſhe turns into another walk.—Let me go! [breaks from him.] I ſhall loſe her.—[going, turns back.] Be ſure now to keep out of the way—If you interrupt us, I ſhall never forgive you.
'Sdeath! I can't bear this. In love with my wife! acquaint me with his paſſion for her! make his addreſſes before my face!—I ſhall break out before my time.—This was the meaning of Fanny's uneaſineſs. She could not encourage him—I am ſure ſhe could not.—Ha! they are turning into the walk, and coming this way.—Shall I leave the place?—Leave him to ſollicit my wife! I can't ſubmit to it.—They come nearer and nearer—If I ſtay it will look ſuſpicious—It may betray us, and incenſe him—They are here—I muſt go—I am the moſt unfortunate fellow in the world.
Enter Fanny, and Sir John.
Fanny. Leave me, Sir John, I beſeech you leave me!—nay, why will you perſiſt to follow me with idle ſollicitations, which are an affront to my character, and an injury to your own honour?
Sir John. I know your delicacy, and tremble to offend it: but let the urgency of the occaſion be my excuſe! Consider Madam, that the future happineſs of my life depends on my preſent application to you! conſider that this day muſt determine my fate; and theſe are perhaps the only moments left me to incline you to warrant my paſſion, and to intreat you not to oppoſe the propoſals I mean to open to your father.
Fanny. For ſhame, for ſhame, Sir John! Think of your previous engagements! Think of your own ſituation, and think of mine!—What have you diſcovered in my conduct that might encourage you to ſo bold a declaration? I am ſhocked that you ſhould venture to ſay ſo much, and bluſh that I ſhould even dare to give it a hearing.—Let me be gone!
Sir John. Nay, ſtay Madam! but one moment!—Your ſenſibility is too great.—Engagements! what engagements have even been pretended on either ſide than thoſe of family-convenience? I went on in the trammels of matrimonial negotiation with a blind ſubmiſſion to your father and Lord Ogleby; but my heart ſoon claimed a right to be conſulted. It has devoted itſelf to you, and obliges me to plead earneſtly for the ſame tender intereſt in your's.
Fanny. Have a care, Sir John! do not miſtake a depraved will for a virtuous inclination. By theſe common pretences of the heart, half of our ſex are made fools, and a greater part of yours deſpiſe them for it.
Sir John. Affection, you will allow, is involuntary. We cannot always direct it to the object on which it ſhould fix—But when it is once inviolably attached, inviolably as mine is to you, it often creates reciprocal affection.—When I laſt urged you on this ſubject, you heard me with more temper, and I hoped with ſome compaſſion.
Fanny. You deceived yourſelf. If I forbore to exert a proper ſpirit, nay if I did not even expreſs the quickeſt reſentment of your behaviour, it was only in conſideration of that reſpect I wiſh to pay you, in honour to my ſiſter: and be aſſured Sir, woman as I am, that my vanity could reap no pleaſure from a triumph, that muſt reſult from the blackeſt treachery to her.
Sir John. One word, and I have done. [stopping her.]—Your impatience and anxiety, and the urgency of the occaſion, oblige me to be brief and explicit with you.—I appeal therefore from your delicacy to your juſtice.—Your ſiſter, I verily believe, neither entertains any real affection for me, or tenderneſs for you.—Your father, I am inclined to think, is not much concerned by means of which of his daughters the families are united.—Now as they cannot, ſhall not be connected, otherwiſe than by my union with you, why will you, from a falſe delicacy, oppoſe a meaſure ſo conducive to my happineſs, and, I hope, your own?—I love you, moſt paſſionately and ſincerely love you—and hope to propoſe terms agreeable to Mr. Sterling.—If then you don't abſolutely loath, abhor, and ſcorn me if there is no other happier man——
Fanny. Hear me, Sir! hear my final determination.—Were my father and ſiſter as inſenſible as you are pleaſed to repreſent them;—were my heart for ever to remain diſengaged to any other—I could not liſten to your propoſals.—What! You on the very eve of a marriage with my ſiſter; I living under the ſame roof with her, bound not only by the laws of friendſhip and hoſpitality, but even the ties of blood, to contribute to her happineſs,—and not to conſpire againſt her peace—the peace of a whole family—and that my own too!—Away! away, Sir John!—At ſuch a time, and in ſuch circumſtances, your addreſſes only inſpire me with horror.—Nay, you muſt detain me no longer.—I will go.
Sir John. Do not leave me in abſolute deſpair!—Give me a glimpſe of hope! [falling on his knees.
Fanny. I cannot. Pray, Sir John! [ſtruggling to go.
Sir John. Shall this hand be given to another? [kiſſing her hand.] No—I cannot endure it.—My whole ſoul is yours, and the whole happineſs of my life is in your power.
Enter Miſs Sterling.
Fanny. Ha! my ſiſter is here. Riſe for ſhame, Sir John!
Sir John. Miſs Sterling! [riſing.
Miſs Sterl. I beg pardon, Sir!—You'll excuſe me, Madam!—I have broke in upon you a little unopportunely, I believe—But I did not mean to interrupt you—I only came, Sir, to let you know that breakfaſt waits, if you have finiſhed your morning's devotions.
Sir John. I am very ſenſible, Miſs Sterling, that this may appear particular, but——
Miſs Sterl. Oh dear, Sir John, don't put yourſelf to the trouble of an apology. The thing explains itſelf.
Sir John. It will ſoon, Madam!—In the mean time I can only aſſure you of my profound reſpect and eſteem for you, and make no doubt of convincing Mr. Sterling of the honour and integrity of my intentions. And—and—your humble ſervant, Madam!
[Exit in confuſion.
Manent Fanny, and Miſs Sterling.
Miſs Sterl. Reſpect?—Inſolence!—Eſteem?—Very fine truly!—And you, Madam! my ſweet, delicate, innocent, ſentimental ſiſter! will you convince my papa too of the integrity of your intentions?
Fanny. Do not upbraid me, my dear ſiſter! Indeed, I don't deſerve it. Believe me, you can't be more offended at his behaviour than I am, and I am ſure it cannot make you half ſo miſerable.
Miſs Sterl. Make me miſerable! You are mightily deceived, Madam! It gives me no ſort of uneaſineſs, I aſſure you.—A baſe fellow!—As for you, Miſs! the pretended ſoftneſs of your diſpoſition, your artful good-nature, never impoſed upon me. I always knew you to be ſly, and envious, and deceitful.
Fanny. Indeed you wrong me.
Miſs Sterl. Oh, you are all goodneſs, to be ſure!—Did not I find him on his knees before you? Did not I ſee him kiſs your ſweet hand? Did not I hear his proteſtations? Was not I witneſs of your diſſembled modeſty?—No—no, my dear! don't imagine that you can make a fool of your elder ſiſter ſo eaſily.
Fanny. Sir John, I own, is to blame; but I am above the thoughts of doing you the leaſt injury.
Miſs Sterl. We ſhall try that, Madam!—I hope, Miſs, you'll be able to give a better account to my papa and my aunt—for they ſhall both know of this matter, I promiſe you.
How unhappy I am! my diſtreſſes multiply upon me.—Mr. Lovewell muſt now become acquainted with Sir John's behaviour to me—and in a manner that may add to his uneaſineſs.—My father, inſtead of being diſpoſed by fortunate circumſtances to forgive any tranſgreſſion, will be previouſly incenſed againſt me.—My ſiſter and my aunt will become irreconcilably my enemies, and rejoice in my diſgrace.—Yet, at all events, I am determined on a diſcovery. I dread it, and am reſolved to haſten it. It is ſurrounded with more horrors every inſtant, as it appears every inſtant more neceſſary.