227 Q2r

The Belle’s Stratagem.

A Comedy.

Q2 228 Q2v 228

This Comedy was brought out at Covent Garden in the year 17801780; it has been constantly on the stage since, and was performed before the Royal Family once every season as long as they frequented the Theatres.

A Critic, in language somewhat florid, has said of Letitia Hardy that were Venus and Minerva to make a descent to the Earth, their united powers would be requisite to a perfect exhibition of the character. Her adventures are certainly the most brilliant, though rather fanciful. Davies, who gives some pages of praise to this Comedy, in his Life of Garrick, pronounces that Letitia’s adventures could have occurred only to the Imagination of a Lady.

Perhaps the adventures of Sir George and Lady Frances are the most touching. His jealousy is not the common jealousy of the Stage—that of distrust, but that of precaution, in a Husband who is still a Lover, devoting himself to his new found Happiness, and withdrawing in a tremor from the mixed circle of Fashion. The Moral of the play is enforced, with great life and spirit, in the defeat of the scouted and exiled libertine Courtall.

Some Speeches of deeper Thought stand prominent, amidst the general current of vivacious language; for instance—the half ironical excuse for employing foreign servants, and the justification of foreign Tours, in the third scene of the first act; the descriptions of a Woman of Fashion in the first scene of the second act; and Letitia’s description of a woman devoted to her husband, towards the close of the Masquerade scene in the fourth act. The original Letitia (Miss Younge afterwards Mrs. Pope) it is said was always too much agitated to be able to suppress a real tear, when, in terror for the result, she took off her Mask and discovered herself to Doricourt at the end of the Play.

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Dedication, by Permission.

To the Queen.

Madam,

In the following Comedy, my purpose was to draw a female character that, with the most lively Sensibility, fine Understanding, and elegant Accomplishments, should in her natural character unite that graceful Reserve and Delicacy, which, veiling those charms, render them still more interesting. In delineating such a Character my Heart naturally dedicated it to your Majesty, and formed a wish for Permission to lay it at your feet. Your Majesty’s graciously allowing me this high Honour is the point to which my hopes aspired, and a Reward, of which I may indeed be proud.

Madam,

With the warmest wishes for the continuance of your Majesty’s Felicity, I am

Your Majesty’s

Most devoted and most dutiful Servant,

Hannah Cowley.

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Characters.

Men.

Doricourt.

Hardy.

Sir George Touchwood.

Flutter.

Saville.

Courtall.

Silvertongue.

First Gentleman.

Second Gentleman.

Mountebank.

French Valet.

Dick.

Gibson.

Women.

Letitia Hardy.

Mrs. Rackett.

Lady Frances Touchwood.

Miss Ogle.

Kitty Willis.

231 Q4r 231

The Belle’s Stratagem.

Act the First.

Scene I.

Lincoln’s Inn. Enter Saville, at a distance, looking round as if at a loss, followed by a Servant.

Sav.

Lincoln’s-Inn, well. But where to find him, now I am in Lincoln’s-Inn? Where did he say his Master was?

Serv.

He only said in Lincoln’s-Inn, Sir.

Sav.

And your wisdom never enquired at whose Chambers?

Serv.

Sir, you spoke to the Servant yourself!

Sav.

If I was too impatient to ask questions, you ought to have taken directions Blockhead!— Enter Courtall. Ha! Courtall!—Bid him keep the horses in motion, and do you enquire at all the Chambers round— Exit Servant. What adventure brings you to this part of Town?—Have any of the long Robes handsome Sisters or Daughters?

Court.

Perhaps they have—but, I came on a different errand; and had thy good fortune brought thee here sooner I’d have given thee such a treat! 232 Q4v 232

Sav.

I am sorry I missed it—what was it?

Court.

I was informed that my Cousins Fallow were come to Town, and desired earnestly to see me at their Lodgings in Warwick Court Holborn. Away drove I, painting them all the way as so many Hebes. They came from the furthest part of Northumberland, had never been in Town, and of course were, as I concluded, made up of Rusticity and Beauty.

Sav.

Well!

Court.

After waiting thirty minutes, during which there was a violent bustle above, in burst five sallow damsels; four of them Maypoles. Nature, to introduce her various lines, midst so many strait ones made the fifth a Curve, in the Æsop stile. Like hounds on a fresh scent, they all opened—at once: Oh, Cousin Courtall!—How do you do Cousin Courtall! in different voices Lord Cousin, I’m glad you’re come! We want you to go with us to the Park, and the Plays, and the Opera, and all the fine places! You may send for your Country Suitors, thought I, my dears to attend you, for I am sure I wont.—However, I heroically staid an hour with them, and discovered that the Misses were all come to Town with the hopes of leaving it—Wives; —their heads full of Amiable Baronets, and Fops, and Adventures.

Sav.

But, how could you get off?

Court.

Oh, pleaded Engagements.—However Conscience twitched—so I breakfasted with them this morning, and ’squired them to the Gardens here, as the most private place in Town; then, took a sorrowful leave, complaining of my hard, hard, fortune, that obliged me—ha! ha! ha! to set off immediately for Dorsetshire.

Sav.

I congratulate you on your Escape.—Courtall at the Opera with five awkward Country Cousins, ha! ha! ha! Why, your existence as a man of Fashion could not have survived it.

Court.

The Plagues! had they come to Town, like 233 Q5r 233 the Rustics of the last age, to see St. Paul’s, the Lions, and the Waxwork, at their Service; but, the Cousins of our day come up Ladies—and, with the knowledge they glean from Pocket-books and Magazines— Fine Ladies; laugh at the Bashfulness of their grandmothers, and boldly demand their entrées into the first Circles.

Sav.

Looks round. Where can this fellow be! Come, give me some News—I have been at war with woodcocks and partridges, and am a stranger to all that has passed out of their region.

Court.

News! More than in three Gazettes. The Mamas, with female families, are going to petition for a Bill—to compel Bachelors to marry!

Sav.

They’ll succeed! For, the majority of our Lawgivers—being themselves caught—will enforce a Maxim of Legislation—that every man shall be equally burthened!

Court.

Ha! ha! But prithee Saville, how came you in Town whilst the country is over-run with Hares and Foxes?

Sav.

I came to meet my friend Doricourt, who, you know, is lately arrived from Rome.

Court.

Arrived! Aye, and has driven us all out! His Carriages, his Liveries, his Dress, Himself, are the Rage of the day! His first appearance set the whole town in a Ferment, and his Valet is beseiged by Levées of Taylors and other ministers of Fashion to gratify the Impatience of their customers for becoming à la Doricourt. Nay, the beautiful Lady Frolic ’tother night, with two Sister Countesses, insisted upon his waistcoat for muffs; and their snowy arms now bear it in triumph about Town, to the heartrending affliction of all our Beaux Garçons.

Sav.

Indeed! Well, those little gallantries will soon be over; he’s on the point of Marriage.

Court.

Marriage! Doricourt on the point of Marriage!—the happiest tidings you could have 234 Q5v 234 given, next to his being hanged. Who is the Bride elect?

Sav.

Miss Hardy, the rich Heiress. She is come to Town à propos with her father, who is arrived to attend his duty in Parliament. The match was made by the Parents, and the Courtship began on the nurse’s knees; Master used to crow at Miss, and Miss used to chuckle at Master.

Court.

Then, by this time, they care no more for each other—than I do for my country cousins.

Sav.

I don’t know that; they have never met since —thus high; and so, at least have no disregard for each other.

Court.

Never met! odd!

Sav.

A Whim of Mr. Hardy’s; he thought his daughter’s charms, in making a sudden, would make a more forcible impression, if her Lover remained in ignorance of them till he had made the Grand Tour. His gift of Foreknowledge, on which you know how incessantly he piques himself, told him all this. Enter Saville’s Servant.

Serv.

Mr. Doricourt Sir has been at Counsellor Pledell’s—and has been gone about five minutes.

Sav.

Five minutes! ’Tis precisely the time I have been too late all my life!—Good morrow, Courtall, I must pursue him. going

Court.

Promise to dine with me to day; I have some honest fellows. Going off, on the opposite side.

Sav.

Cant promise; perhaps I may.—See there— there’s a bevy of female Patagonians coming down upon us!

Court.

By the memory of Brodignag they must be my strapping Cousins!—I dare not look behind me— Run, man, run!

Exeunt, same side.
235 Q6r 235

Scene II.

A hall at Doricourt’s. Enter the french Valet, and other foreign Servants, and some Tradesmen.

Tradesm.

Well then, you have overhauled to us all his Honour’s Wardrobe.

Valet.

All, en verité, Messieurs! you avez seen every ting. Serviteur, serviteurExeunt Tradesmen. Ah! here comes vun autre curious Englishman, and dat’s vun autre guinee pour moiEnter Saville. Allons, Monseiur, dis way; I vill shew you tings, such tings you never see in England!—Velvets by Le Mosse, Suits cut by Verdue, trimmings by Grossette, embroidery by Detanville

Sav.

Puppy! where is your Master? Enter Porter.

Port.

You chattering, frog-eating, dunderhead dress-monger—learn to know when you see a Gentleman. ’Tis Mr. Saville.

Valet.

MonsieurSaville! Je suis mort de peur!— Ten Tousand pardones! Excusez mon erreur, and permit me to conduct you to MonsieurDoricourt; he be too happy à vous voir.

Exeunt.
Scene III. 236 Q6v 236

Scene III.

An apartment at Doricourt’s. Enter Doricourt.

Doric.

Speaking to a Servant behind. I shall be too late for St. James’s; bid him come immediately. Enter Valet and Saville.

Valet.

Monsieur Saville. Exit.

Doric.

Most fortunate! My dear Saville, let the warmth of my salutation speak the pleasure of my heart.

Sav.

This is some Comfort, after the scurvy reception I met with in your Hall.—I prepared my mind, as I came up the stairs, for a —bon jour—a grimace —and an Adieu!

Dor.

Why so?

Sav.

Judging of the Master from the rest of the family.—Wherefore that flock of Foreigners below, with their parchment faces and snuffy whiskers? What! cant an Englishman stand behind your carriage, or put on your Coat!

Dor.

Stale, my dear Saville, stale! Englishmen make the best Artizans, Soldiers, and Philosophers in the world—but, the very worst Footmen. I keep French fellows and Germans, as the Romans kept slaves, because their own countrymen had minds too enlarged and haughty to descend, with a Grace, to the duties of such a station.

Sav.

A good excuse for a bad practice.

Dor.

On my honor, Experience would convince you of its Truth. A Frenchman neither hears, sees, or breathes—but as his Master directs; and his whole system of conduct is comprised in one short word— Obedience! An Englishman looking grave reasons,237 Q7r 237 sons, forms opinions, cogitates, and disputes; the one, is the mere creature of your Will; the other, a being believing himself of equal importance in the universal scale with yourself; and is therefore your Judge whilst he wears your Livery, and decides on your actions with the freedom of a Censor.

Sav.

And all this in defence of a custom I have heard you execrate—together with all the adventitious manners imported by our travelled gentry!

Dor.

Aye, but that was at Eighteen; we are always very wise at eighteen!—But, for the sake of higher objects than Servants, quarrel not with Travel.—We go into Italy, where the sole business of the people is to improve the powers of Music, we yield to the fascination, and grow Enthusiasts in the charming science. We travel over France, and see the whole kingdom composing Ornaments and inventing Fashions, we condescend to avail ourselves of their industry, and to adopt their modes. To England we return, and find the Nation intent on the most important objects; Polity, Commerce, War, with all the Liberal Arts, employ her sons. The latent sparks glow afresh within our bosoms, with faculties enlarged, we have learnt, by Contrast, the value of our home, the amusing follies of the Continent imperceptibly slide away, and Senators, Statesmen, Patriots, and Heroes, emerge from the virtú of Italy, and the frippery of France.

Sav.

I may as well give it up! You had always the art of placing your faults in the most favorable light; but I cant help liking you, faults and all, so, to start a subject which must please you—when do you expect Miss Hardy?

Dor.

The Zest of expectation is past. She is arrived, and I this morning had the Honour of an interview at Pledell’s. The writings were ready, and, in obedience to Mr. Hardy, we met to sign and seal. 238 Q7v 238

Sav.

Was your heart elate, or sunk, when you beheld your Mistress?

Dor.

Neither one or the other! she’s a fine girl, as far as mere Person goes――But—

Sav.

But what?

Dor.

Why, she’s only a fine girl—Complexion, Shape, and Features,—nothing more!

Sav.

Are not they enough?

Dor.

No! She should have Spirit! Fire! l’air enjoué! that Naiveté—something, nothing, which every body sensates, and which nobody can describe, in the resistless charmers of Italy and France.

Sav.

Thanks! to the parsimony of my father which kept me from Travel! I would not have been without my admiration of true unaffected English beauty —to have been quarrelled for by all the Belles of Versailles and Florence!

Dor.

Pho! thou hast no Taste—English beauty! ’tis Insipidity;—it wants Zest, it wants Poignancy. Frank! I have known a Frenchwoman, indebted to Nature for no present but a pair of decent Eyes, reckon in her suite as many Comtes, Marquisses, and Petites Maîtres, as would satisfy the Vanity of three dozen of our first-rate Toasts. I have known an Italian Marquisina make ten conquests in stepping from her Carriage, and carry her slaves from one city to another, whose real intrinsic Beauty would have yielded to half the little Grisettes that pace your Park on a Sunday.

Sav.

And, has Miss Hardy nothing of this?

Dor.

If she has, she was pleased to keep it to herself. I was in the room half an hour before I could catch the colour of her eyes, and every attempt to draw her into Conversation occasioned so cruel an embarrassment, that I was reduced to conversation with her Father, on News, French fleets, and Spanish Captures. However, I have engaged myself.

Sav.

So Miss Hardy with only Beauty, Modesty, 239 Q8r 239 and Merit, is doomed to a husband who will despise her.

Dor.

You are unjust. Though she has not inspired me with violent Passion—my Honor secures her Felicity!

Sav.

Come, come, Doricourt, you know very well that when the Honor of a husband is locum-tenens for his Heart, his wife must be as indifferent as himself, if she is not unhappy.

Dor.

Pho! never moralize without Spectacles. But, as we are on the tender subject, how did you bear Touchwood’s carrying Lady Frances?

Sav.

You know I looked up to her only with humble hope, and Sir George is every way worthy of her. Disappointed in a sweet partial tie—why, I thus have the more leisure to run about and make myself useful—to the World at large.

Dor.

A la Mode anglaise, a Philosopher—even in Love!

Sav.

I am going to call in at Hardy’s. I detain you; you seem dressed at all points—and of course have an engagement.

Dor.

To St. James’s. I shall be at the Masquerade in the Evening; but, breakfast with me tomorrow, and we’ll talk of our old companions—for, I pledge myself to you, Saville, the air of the Continent has not effaced one youthful prejudice or attachment.

Sav.

——Except, as to Ladies and Servants!

Doric.

True; there I plead guilty;—but, I have never yet found any Man whom I could cordially take to my heart, and call Friend, who was not born beneath a British Sky, and whose Heart and Manners were not truly English.

Exeunt
Scene IV. 240 Q8v 240

Scene IV.

An apartment at Mr. Hardy’s. Flutter, seated on a Sopha, tossing over some Books.

Flut.

What have we here?—The Authentic History of Lapland—Oh, that may be dipped into, for the mind quarrels not with Romance in Lapland —H-r-r-r reads. Enter Saville.

Sav.

Ah! Flutter at Study! What a dearth must there be of News and Scandal! Have you seen Mrs. Rackett? Miss Hardy, I find, is not at home.

Flut.

I have not seen the Widow yet. I have been near the North Pole whilst she has been at her Toilette. Flinging away the book, and yawning.

Sav.

Have any events occurred in the World, since yesterday?

Flut.

Oh, yes; I stopped at the Sale of Hunters as I came, and found Lord James Jessamy, Sir William Wilding, and Mr. What’s his name?—When the first Hunter was brought out――But, now I think of it, you shant know a syllable of the matter; for I have been informed that you never believe more than half of what I say!

Sav.

My dear fellow, somebody has been egregiously incorrect!—Half?—Why I never believe one tenth—that is according to the plain and literal Expression; but, as I understand you, your intelligence is amusing.

Flut.

Why all this is very hard now! I never related a falsity in my life, unless I stumbled upon it by mistake, and, if it were otherwise, you dull matter-offact people are infinitely obliged to those warm 241 R1r 241 Imaginations which, to amuse, soar into Fiction. The actual Events of this little dirty world are not worth talking about, unless you embellish them! —ah! here comes Mrs. Rackett—Adieu to Weeds I see—all Life!— Enter Mrs. Rackett. Enter, Madam, in all your Charms! Saville has been impatient with your Toilette for keeping you so long; but, I think we are much obliged to it—and so are you!

Mrs. R.

How so pray?—Good morning to you both—here, here’s a hand a-piece for you. They kiss her hands.

Flut.

How so!—Because to your Toilette you owe so many Beauties!

Mrs. R.

Delightful Compliment!—What do you think of that, Saville?

Sav.

That he and his Compliments are alike— showy but wont bear examining. So you brought Miss Hardy to Town last night?

Mrs. R.

Yes, I should have brought her before, but I had a fall from my horse that confined me a week. I suppose, in her heart, she a dozen times an hour half wished it had been fatal to me.

Flut.

Why?

Mrs. R.

Had she not an expecting Lover in Town all the time? She is gone to meet him this morning at the Lawyer’s. I hope she’ll charm—she’s the sweetest girl in the world.

Sav.

Like murder—Vanity will out; you have convinced me you think yourself more charming.

Mrs. R.

How!

Sav.

Oh, you know, no woman praises another, unless, in the very perfection she allows, she thinks herself superior.

Flut.

And, unless he is conscious he deserves their hatred, no man ever rails at the Sex. Vol. I. R 242 R1v 242

Mrs. R.

Thank ye, Flutter, I owe ye a Bouquet for that. I am going to visit the new married Lady Frances Touchwood.—Who knows her Husband?

Flut.

Every body.

Mrs. R.

Is there not something odd in his character?

Sav.

Why—Yes! he is passionately fond of his Wife.—But, so petulant is his love, that he opened the Cage of a favorite Bullfinch and sent it to catch Butterflies, because she rewarded its song with a kiss!

Mrs. R.

Intolerable Monster! He deserves—

Sav.

Nay nay, nay nay, this is your Sex now. Give a woman but one trait of Character, off she goes, sees the whole Being, marks him for an Angel or a Devil, and so exhibits him to all her acquaintance. This Monster! is one of the worthiest fellows upon earth; has sound sense in a liberal mind; but doats on his wife to such excess, that he quarrels with every thing she admires, and is jealous of her Tippet and Nosegay.

Mrs. R.

Oh, less Love for me, kind Cupid! I can see no reason for preferring the torment of such an Affection to Tyranny.

Flut.

Oh, pardon me, inconceivable difference, I see an inconceivable difference as clear as your bracelet. The Tyrant says—Heyday Madam, do you suppose that my table, and my house, and my pictures!—Apropos—Pictures! speaks very fast There was the divinest Plague of Athens sold yesterday in Pall Mall—the dead figures so natural you would have sworn they were alive. Lord Carmine bid five hundred—a Thousand said Ingot the Nabob —down went the hammer! A rouleau for your bargain said Sir Jeremy Jingle—and what answer do you think Ingot made him?

Mrs. R.

Why, took the offer.

Flut.

Sir!—my children have got Whittington and 243 R2r 243 his Cat in the Nursery—just this Size; and they’ll make a good match!

Mrs. R.

Ha! ha! ha! That’s just the course now; —the Nabobs and their Wives outbid at every sale, yet, the Strangers have no more Taste—

Sav.

There, off you go again on Character! You forget that this story is told by Flutter, who always remembers every thing but the Persons and the Circumstances:—’twas Ingot the Nabob who offered a Rouleau for the bargain, and Sir Jeremy who made the Reply.

Flut.

Eh!—I believe you are right—but the story’s as good one way as ’tother. Good morning; in my way back I shall make my bow at Sir George Touchwood’s. Going.

Sav.

I’ll venture every figure in your taylor’s bill, you make some Blunder in your first three words there.

Flut.

turning back Done!—My Taylor’s bill has not been paid these three years; and I’ll open my mouth with as much Care as Mrs. Bridget, who wears a cork plumper in each cheek, and never hazards more than two words, for fear of display! Exit.

Mrs. R.

’Tis a good-natured insignificant creature! let in every where, and cared for no where— Ah! Miss Hardy returned from the Lawyer’s—she seems rather flurried.

Sav.

Then I leave you to your communications— Enter Letitia, followed by her Maid. Adieu! I am rejoiced to see you so well Miss Hardy—I must tear myself away.

Let.

Dont vanish in a Moment.

Sav.

Oh, I beg quarter! you are the two most dangerous women in Town.—Staying to be shot at by four such eyes, is equal to a Rencontre with Paul R2 244 R2v 244 Jones.—(Aside.—They’ll swallow the Nonsense, for the sake of the Compliment!) Exit.

Let.

Gives her cloak to her Maid. Order Du Quesne never to come again, positively he shall dress my hair no more. Exit Maid And this odious Dress, how unbecoming it is! I was bewitched to chuse it! throwing herself on a Sopha, and viewing herself in a Pocket Glass, Mrs. Rackett staring at her Did you ever see such a Fright as I am to day!

Mrs. R.

Why I have seen you look――rather worse.

Let.

How can you be so provoking? If I do not look this morning worse than ever I looked in my life, I am naturally a Fright. You shall have it which way you will.

Mrs. R.

Just as you please; but, pray what is the meaning of all this?

Let.

rising Men are all Dissemblers! Flatterers! Deceivers! Have I not heard a thousand times of my Air, my Eyes, my Shape—all made for Victory! and to day, when I bent my whole Heart on one conquest, I have proved that those imputed charms are nothing, for—Doricourt saw them unmoved!—A husband of fifteen months could not have examined me with more cutting indifference.

Mrs. R.

Why then return it, like a Wife of fifteen months; and be as indifferent as he.

Let.

Ah! there’s the sting! The blooming boy who left his Image in my young heart, is at four and twenty improved in every Grace that fixed him there. It is the same face that my memory, or my fancy, constantly painted—its Expression more heightened, its Graces more finished. How mortifying, to feel myself at the same moment his slave, and an object of thorough indifference.

Mrs. R.

How are you certain that is the case? Did you expect him to kneel down to make Oath of your Beauty, before your father, the Lawyer, and his Clerk! 245 R3r 245

Let.

No; but, he should have looked as if a suddun Ray had pierced him! He should have been breathless speechless—for, oh! Caroline all this was I.

Mrs. R.

I am sorry you was such a Fool. Can you expect a man who has seen half the fine women in Europe, to feel like a young Master who has just left boarding school? He is the most interesting fellow you have seen, and bewilders your imagination; but, he has seen a thousand pretty Women child before he saw you, and his romantic fancies have been over long ago.

Let.

Your Raillery distresses me.—I am determined to touch his heart or never to be his wife.

Mrs. R.

If you have no reason to believe his heart pre-engaged, be satisfied; if he is a man of Honour, you’ll have nothing to complain of in his conduct.

Let.

Nothing to complain of! Shall I marry the man I adore, with such an expectation as that?

Mrs. R.

And, when you have fretted yourself pale, my dear, you will have mightily heightened your chance of Success!

Let.

pausing—Yet, I have one Hope!—If there is any Power whose peculiar care is faithful love, that power I invoke to aid me! Enter Mr.Hardy.

Hardy.

Well now, wasn’t I right? Eh, Letty? Eh, Cousin Rackett? wasn’t I right? I knew ’twould be so. He was all agog to see her before he went abroad; and, if he had, I foresaw he’d have thought no more of her face, may be, than his own.

Mrs. R.

May be, not half so much!

Hardy.

Aye, may be so: but, I see things before hand. I foresaw exactly then, that to day ha! ha! he would fall desperately in Love with the wench.

Let.

Indeed Sir!—how did you perceive it? 246 R3v 246

Hardy.

That’s a pretty Question! How do I perceive every thing? How did I forewarn Parson Homily that, if he did not contrive to have more Votes than Merit, he would lose the Lectureship? Did not the House receive, with Acclamations of Chearfulness, my foreseeing that, if war arose, the funds would fall!—and the Change of Ministry, and the rise of Taxes! How did I—but what Whim makes you so dull Letitia? I thought to have found you popping about as brisk as the jacks of your harpsichord.

Let.

Surely, Sir, ’tis a very serious occasion!

Hardy.

Poh! Poh! girls should never be grave before Marriage. How was you, Cousin, before-hand —eh?

Mrs. R.

Why exceedingly full of Care. I could not sleep for thinking of my Coach and my Liveries. The Taste of the Clothes I should be presented in distracted me for a week; and, whether I should be married in White or Lilac, gave me the utmost Anxiety.

Let.

And, is it possible that you had no other care?

Hardy.

And pray, what may your cares be Mrs. Letitia? I foresee now it will turn out that you have taken a Dislike to Doricourt!

Let.

Indeed, Sir—I have not.

Hardy.

Then what’s all this Melancholy about? Are not you going to be married? and, what’s more, to a handsome sensible man? What’s all this melancholy for I say?

Mrs. R.

Why, only because she is over head and ears in love with him; which, it seems, your foreknowledge had not told you a word of.

Let.

Fie, Caroline!

Hardy.

Well, come, tell me what’s the matter then? If you dont like him, hang signing and sealing, he shant have you—and yet I cant say that either; for, you know, that Estate that cost his father and 247 R4r 247 me upwards of four score thousand pounds, must go all to him if you wont have him: if he wont have you, indeed, ’twill be all your’s. All that’s clearly engrossed on parchment—nay—I dont know what to say about its being clear—however they tell me, there it is; and the poor dear man set his hand to it whilst he was a dying— So, said I, I foresee you’ll never live to see them married!—But come, what is the matter? Do you really not like him?

Let.

I fear, Sir—if I must speak—I fear――I was less agreeable in Mr. Doricourt’s eyes than he appeared in mine.

Hardy.

There you must be mistaken; for I asked him —and he told me he liked you very well. Dont you think he must have taken a Fancy to my Letitia?

Mrs. R.

Why really I think so, as――I was not present!

Let.

My dear Sir—I am convinced he has not. But, if there is Spirit or Invention in Woman—he shall!

Hardy.

Right, Girl!—so away to your Toilette.

Let.

Oh! it is not my Toilette that can serve me; but a Plan has struck me, which, if you will not oppose it, flatters me with hopes of brilliant success.

Hardy.

Oppose! not I indeed! I’m not fond of Opposition—so what is it?

Let.

Why Sir—it may, at first, seem a little paradoxical;—but, as he does not like me enough, I want him to like me still less—and will, at our next interview, endeavour to heighten his Indifference into Dislike!

Hardy.

What Conjurer could have foreseen that!

Mrs. R.

Is this Love-witchery! Letitia—are you serious?

Let.

As serious, as the most important event of my life demands!

Mrs. R.

Why endeavour to make him dislike you?

Let.

Because, ’tis much easier to convert a sentiment248 R4v 248 ment into its Opposite, than to transform indifference into tender passion.

Mrs. R.

Let me see;—a Quality may be changed, but Nothing cannot be turned into Something.— Well, that may be good Philosophy; but, I am afraid you’ll find it like other Philosophy—a bad practical Speculation.

Let.

I have the strongest Confidence in it. I am inspired with unusual Spirits! and on this Hazard willingly stake my Chance for Happiness—I am impatient to begin! Exit.

Hardy.

Can you forsee the End, Cousin?

Mrs. R.

No Sir, nothing less than your penetration can; and I cant stay now to consider it. I am going to call on Miss Ogle, and then on Lady Frances Touchwood, and then to an Auction, and then—I dont know where;—but, I shall be at home time enough to witness their next extraordinary Interview—Good-bye! Exit.

Hardy.

Well—’tis odd;—I cant understand it— but, I foresee Letty will have her way, and so I shant give myself the useless trouble of disputing it.

Exit.
249 R5r 249

Act the Second.

Scene I. Sir George Touchwood’s.

Enter Doricourt, and Sir George.

Dor.

Married! ha! ha! ha! you, whom I heard in Paris say such things of the Sex, are in London—a married man!

Sir Geo.

The Sex is still what it has ever been, since La petite Morale banished substantial Virtues; and, rather than have given my Name to one of your thorough-bred Fashionable Dames, I’d have ventured across the globe in a fire-ship—and married a Japanese.

Dor.

Yet, you have married an english Beauty; yea—and a Beauty born in High Life.

Sir Geo.

True; but, she has the Simplicity of heart and manners that would have become the fair Hebrew damsels toasted by the Patriarchs.

Dor.

Ha! ha!—Why thou art a downright matrimonial Quixote! My life on it, she becomes as mere a town Lady in six months as though she had been bred to the mystery.

Sir Geo.

Common—common! No, Sir; Lady Frances, from the Ideas I have given her, despises High Life so much, that she’ll live in it like a salamander in fire. 250 R5v 250

Dor.

Oh, that the Circle dans la place Victoire could witness thy extravagance! I’ll send thee off to St. Evreux this night—drawn at full length, and coloured after nature.

Sir Geo.

Tell them then, to add to the Ridicule, that Touchwood glories in the name of Husband! that he has found, in one Englishwoman, more Beauty than frenchmen every saw, and more Goodness than frenchwomen can form an Idea of.

Dor.

Well—enough of Description! Introduce me to this Phoenix—I came on purpose.

Sir Geo.

Introduce—oh—aye to be sure――I believe Lady Frances is engaged just now, but—another time. (Aside.—How handsome the dog looks to day!)

Dor.

Another time! But I have no other time— this is the only hour I can command this fortnight.

Sir Geo.

(Aside.—I’m very glad to hear it!)—So then you cant dine with us to day? That’s very unlucky.

Dor.

—Dinner――why yes, dinner?――yes, I can, I believe, contrive to dine with you to day.

Sir Geo.

Pshaw!—I meant Supper. You cant sup with us?

Dor.

Supper?—dinner alone made me hesitate, Supper will be convenient. But, you are fortunate, if you had asked me any other night I could not have come.

Sir Geo.

To night! What a Blunderer I am! now I recollect—we are particularly engaged this evening —But tomorrow—

Dor.

Why look ye, Sir George, ’tis very plain you have no inclination to let me see your wife at all; so, here I sit throws himself on a sopha—there’s my hat, and here are my legs. Now I shant stir till I have seen her; I have no engagements—I’ll breakfast dine and sup with you every day this week!

Sir Geo.

Was there ever such a provoking wretch! But, to be plain with you Doricourt, you are an inconveniently251 R6r 25I conveniently agreeable fellow, and the women, I observe, always simper when you appear. For these reasons, in truth, I had rather, when you meet me with Lady Frances, that you should forget that we are acquainted—further than a Nod, a Smile, or a How—are ye?

Dor.

What next!

Sir Geo.

It is not merely yourself in propria persona that I object to; but, if you are intimate here, you’ll make my house still more the Fashion than it is; and it is already so much so, that my Doors are of no use to me! I married Lady Frances to engross her thoughts, yet, such is the freedom of modern manners, that, spite of me, her eyes, thoughts, and conversation, are continually divided amongst all the Flirts and Coxcombs of Fashion.

Dor.

To be sure I confess that kind of freedom is carried too far. ’Tis hard one cant have a Jewel in one’s cabinet, but the whole Town must be gratified with viewing its lustre—(Aside.—He shant preach me out of seeing his Wife though!)

Sir Geo.

Well now, that’s reasonable. When you take time to reflect, Doricourt, I observe you always decide right, and therefore I hope— Enter Servant.

Serv.

Sir, my Lady desires—

Sir Geo.

I am particularly engaged now!

Dor.

Oh! let that be no excuse I beg! springing from the Sopha Lead the way John, I’ll wait on your Lady. Exit, following the Servant.

Sir Geo.

What evil Genius possessed me to talk about her! here Doricourt! runs out after him Doricourt! Enter 252 R6v 252 Enter Mrs. Rackett, and Miss Ogle. Followed by a Servant.

Mrs. R.

Acquaint your Lady, that Mrs. Rackett and Miss Ogle are here. Exit Servant.

Miss Ogle.

I shall hardly know Lady Frances, ’tis so long since I was in Shropshire.

Mrs. R.

And I’ll be sworn you never saw her out of Shropshire.—Her father kept her locked up with his Caterpillars and Shells, and loved her beyond any thing—but a blue Butterfly and a petrified Frog!

Miss Ogle.

Ha! ha! ha!—Well, ’twas a cheap way of breeding her;—you know, though a Lord, he was poor; and very high-spirited, though a Virtuoso. Her Operas, and Robes de Cour, in Town, would have consumed his Sea-weeds, Moths, and Monsters, in one Season. Sir George, I find, thinks his wife a most extraordinary creature:—but, his greatest boast is, that he has taught her to despise every thing like Fashionable Life.

Mrs. R.

Has he so! There’s great Impertinence in all that—we must do ourselves Justice! Let us, in spite to him, immediately try to give her a Taste for that high life—which merits not such treatment.

Miss Ogle.

Agreed! ’tis just what I wish. She comes! Enter Lady Frances.

Lady F.

I beg a thousand pardons my dear Mrs. RackettMiss Ogle, I rejoice to see you.—I should have come to you sooner, but I was detained in conversation by Mr. Doricourt.

Mrs. R.

Pray, make no apology. I am quite happy that we have your Ladyship in Town at last— what stay do you make?

Lady F.

A short one! Sir George talks with Regret253 R7r 253 gret of the scenes we have left, and, as the Ceremony of Presentation is over, will, I believe, soon return.

Miss Ogle.

He cant be so cruel! Does your Ladyship wish to return so soon?

Lady F.

I have not the Habit of consulting my own wishes; but I think, if they were to decide— we should not return immediately. I have yet hardly formed an Idea of London!

Mrs. R.

I shall quarrel with your Lord and Master, if he dares think of depriving us of you so soon! How do you dispose of yourself to day?

Lady F.

Sir George is going with me this morning to the Mercer’s to chuse a Silk; and then—

Mrs. R.

Chuse a Silk!—ha! ha! ha! Sir George chuses your Laces too I hope—your Gloves, and your Pincushions!

Lady F.

Madam!

Mrs. R.

I am glad however that you blush, my dear. Lady Frances—these are strange home-spun ways! If you act thus, pray keep it secret. Suppose the Town were to know, that your Husband chuses your Gowns!

Miss Ogle.

You are very young, my Lady—and have been brought up in Solitude. The Maxims you learned amongst Wood-Nymphs wont pass current here, I assure you.

Mrs. R.

Why, my dear creature, you look quite frightened! Come, you shall go with us to drop a few Cards—then to an Auction Room—then we’ll drive to Kensington. We shall be at home by Five to dress; and, in the Evening, I’ll attend you to the Masquerade.

Lady F.

I shall be very happy, if Sir George has no Engagements, to be of your party.

Mrs. R.

What! Do you stand so low in your own opinion, that you dare not trust yourself without Sir George? You should have staid in the Country if you chuse to play Darby and Joan my Dear! ’tis an exhibition not calculated for London I assure you. 254 R7v 254

Miss Ogle.

I suppose, my Lady, you and Sir George will be seen pacing it comfortably round the Green-Park—arm-in-arm; and then, go lovingly into the same Carriage—dine tête-à-tête, spend the evening at Piquet, and retire at Eleven! Such a snug plan may do for an Attorney and his Wife; but— for Lady Frances Touchwood!—’tis as unsuitable as Linsey-woolsey, or a black bonnet at the Opera!

Lady F.

These are rather new doctrines to me! But, my dear Mrs. Rackett, you and Miss Ogle judge better than I can. As you observe—I am but young, and may have caught absurd opinions—but, here is Sir George! Enter Sir George.

Sir Geo.

aside. Death! another room full!

Lady F.

My Love! Mrs. RackettMiss Ogle.

Mrs. R.

Give you Joy, Sir George.—We came to rob you of Lady Frances for a few hours.

Sir Geo.

A few Hours!

Lady F.

Oh Yes! I am going to make Calls, and to an Auction-Room, and to the Park, and a hundred places!—It is quite ridiculous, I find, for married people to be always together—We shall be laughed at!

Sir Geo.

I am astonished!—Mrs. Rackett, what does the dear creature mean?

Mrs. R.

Mean, Sir George—what she says, I suppose.

Miss Ogle.

Why, you know Sir, as Lady Frances had the Misfortune to be bred entirely in the Country—she cant be supposed to be versed in Fashionable Life.

Sir Geo.

Heaven forbid she should! If she had been, Madam, she never would have been my Wife!

Mrs. R.

—Can you be serious!

Sir Geo.

Perfectly so. I should never have had Courage enough to have married—a Fine Lady. 255 R8r 235

Miss Ogle.

Pray, Sir, what do you take a Fine Lady to be, that you express such Fear of her! Sneering.

Sir Geo.

A Being easily described Madam, for she is seen every where—but in her own house. She sleeps at home, but she lives—all over the town. In her mind every sentiment gives place to the Passion for Conquest, and the Vanity of being particular. The feelings of Wife and Mother—are lost in the whirl of Dissipation. If she continues virtuous— she is fortunate; if she brings not ruin on her husband, ’tis by her dexterity at the Card-table.—Such a woman I take to be a perfect Fine-Lady!

Mrs. R.

And you I take to be a slanderous Cynic of Two-and-thirty; twenty years hence one might have forgiven such Defamation! Now, Sir, hear my definition of a Fine Lady:—She is a creature for whom Nature has done much—and Education more; she has Taste, Elegance, Spirit, Understanding. In her Manner free—in her Morals she is nice. Her behaviour is undistinguishingly polite to her Husband, and to all others; her Sentiments are for their hours of retirement. In a word—a Fine Lady is the Life of conversation—the Spirit of society—the Joy of the public! Pleasure follows wherever she appears —the kindest wishes attend her through life.—My dear Lady Frances, to force your husband to acknowledge the correctness of my picture—make haste to adopt the character.

Lady F.

’Tis a delightful one! How can you dislike it, Sir George?—You placed Fashionable Life in a light so disgusting, that I hated what, on a nearer view, seems charming! I have hitherto lived in Obscurity—’tis time I should be a Woman of the World. I long to begin—my heart pants with expectation and delight!

Mrs. R.

Let us then begin directly. I am impatient to introduce you to that Society which you were born to ornament and charm. 256 R8v 256

Lady F.

Adieu—my Love!—We shall meet again at dinner. Going.

Sir Geo.

I am in a dream.—Fanny!

Lady F.

Sir George?

Sir Geo.

Will you go without me!

Mrs. R.

Will you go without me! Ha! ha! ha! what a pathetic address! Why, you would not be seen side by side always—like two beans on a stalk. Are you afraid to trust Lady Frances with me, Sir?

Sir Geo.

Why, where can a man select a discreet protectress for his wife, in the present state of society? Formerly, there were Distinctions amongst ye—every class of females had its particular Description; Grandmothers were pious, Aunts circumspect, Old Maids censorious—But now! Aunts, Grandmothers, Girls, and Maiden-Gentlewomen, are all the same creature—a Wrinkle more or less is the sole difference between ye.

Miss Ogle.

That Maiden-Gentlewomen have lost their Censoriousness is surely not in your catalogue of grievances!

Sir Geo.

Indeed it is—and ranked amongst the grievances the most serious. Things went well, Madam, when the tongues of three or four Old Maids kept all the wives and Daughters of a parish in Awe! They were the dragons that guarded the Hesperian fruit;—and I wonder they have not been obliged by Act of Parliament to resume their function.

Mrs. R.

Ha! ha! ha! and pensioned I suppose, for making strict enquiries into the lives and conversations of their Neighbours.

Sir Geo.

With all my heart, and impowered to oblige every woman to confirm her conduct to her real Situation. You, for instance, are a Widow; your air should be sedate, your dress grave, your deportment matronly, in all things an Example to the young women growing up around you!—Instead of which—you are dressed for Conquest, and think of nothing but of ensnaring hearts—are a Wit and A Fine Lady. 257 S1r 257

Mrs. R.

Bear witness!—a Wit! and a Fine Lady! Who would have expected an Eulogy from such an ill-natured mortal! Valour to a Soldier, Wisdom to a Judge, or Glory to a Prince, are not more than such a character to a Woman.

Miss Ogle.

Sir George, I see, languishes for the charming society of a Century and a half ago; when a grave Squire, and a still graver Dame, surrounded by a sober family, formed a stiff group in a mouldy old house in the corner of a Park.

Mrs. Rack

Delightful Serenity! Undisturbed by any noise, but the cawing of Rooks, and the quarterly rumbling of an old family coach on a state visit; with the happy intervention of a friendly call from the parish Apothecary; or the Curate’s wife—with her formal Curtsey—and her How do you do Ma’am! Curtesying stiffly.

Sir Geo.

And what is the Society of which you boast?—a mere Chaos; in which all distinction of Rank is lost—in a ridiculous Affectation of Ease, and every different Order of beings is huddled together. In the same select party, you will often find the wife of a Bishop and of a Sharper, of an Earl and of a Fiddler. In short, ’tis one universal masquerade, but where all assume the same disguise of dress and manners. Enter Servant.

Serv.

Mr. Flutter. Exit.

Sir Geo.

—Here comes an illustration. Now I defy you to tell, from his appearance, whether Flutter is a Privy Counsellor or a Mercer—a Lawyer or a Grocer’s Apprentice. Enter Flutter.

Flut.

Oh, just which you please, Sir George— so you dont make me a Lord Mayor. Ah, Mrs. Vol. I. S 258 S1v 258 Rackett!—Lady Frances, your most obedient; you look—now hang me if that’s not provoking! had your Gown been of another Colour, I should have said the prettiest thing you ever heard in your life.

Miss Ogle.

Pray give it us!

Flut.

I was yesterday at Mrs. Bloomer’s. She was dressed all in green; no other colour to be seen, but that of her Face and Neck. So says I— my dear Mrs. Bloomer—you look like a Carnation just beginning to burst its green pod.

Sir Geo.

And what said her husband?

Flut.

Her husband! Why he dully said—a Cucumber would have been a happier Simile.

Sir Geo.

But there are husbands, Sir, who, rather than have amended your comparison, would have considered it as an impertinence.

Flut.

What harm can there be in Compliments— they keep up the Spirits! You, Sir George, cannot fear they may be mischievous, who, of all people breathing, have reason to be convinced of your Lady’s attatchment—every body talks of it;—that little Bird there, that she killed out of Jealousy, the most extraordinary instance of Affection that ever was given.

Lady F.

I kill a Bird through Jealousy! Mr. Flutter, how can you impute such a cruelty to me?

Sir Geo.

I could have forgiven you if you had!

Flut.

What a blundering fool am I!—No, no— now I remember—’twas your bird Lady Frances— that’s it—your Bullfinch, which Sir George, in one of the Refinements of his passion, sent into the wide world to seek its fortune.—He took it for a Knight in disguise.

Lady Fran.

Is it possible! Oh, Sir George, could I have imagined that it was you who deprived me of a creature I was so fond of!

Sir Geo.

Mr. Flutter, you are one of those busy, idle, meddling people, who, from mere vacuity of mind, are the most dangerous inmates in a family; —who have neither feelings nor opinions of their 259 S2r 259 own, but, like an Echo convey those of every blockhead who comes in their way; thinking themselves excused because they mean no harm, though broken friendships, discords, or murder, are the consequences of their indiscretion.

Flut.

taking out his Pocket Book Vacuity of Mind!—what was next? I’ll write down this sermon, ’tis the first I’ve heard since my Grandmother’s funeral.

Miss Ogle.

Come, Lady Frances, you see what a cruel creature your loving husband can be—so let us leave him.

Sir Geo.

Madam—Lady Frances shall not go!

Lady Fran.

Shall not, Sir George!—This is the first time such an expression— weeping.

Sir Geo.

My Love! my Life!

Lady Fran.

Dont imagine I’ll be treated like a child! denied what I wish, and then pacified by sweet words.

Miss Ogle.

apart The Bullfinch!—that’s an excellent subject; never let it down.

Lady F.

I see plainly you would deprive me of the pleasures of Society, as well as of my sweet bird, out of pure Love!—Barbarous Man!

Sir Geo.

’Tis well Madam; your resentment of that circumstance proves to me, what I did not before suspect—that you are deficient both in Tenderness and Understanding.—Tremble to think the hour approaches in which you would give the world for such a proof of my Love! Go, Madam, give yourself to the public, abandon your heart to Dissipation, and see if, in the scenes of Gaiety and Folly that await you, you can find a recompense for the lost affection of a doating husband! Exit.

Flut.

What a fine thing it is to have the gift of Speech! Your great Speakers, sooner or later, always gain their Object—save and except being overpowered at Home notwithstanding.

Lady F.

He is really angry—I cannot go. S2 260 S2v 260

Mrs. R.

Not go! Foolish creature! you are arrived at the moment which, some time or other, was sure to arrive;—and every thing depends upon the use you make of it.

Miss Ogle.

Come Lady Frances! dont hesitate— the minutes are precious!

Lady F.

I could find in my heart—and yet I wont give up! If I should in this instance, he’ll expect it for ever. Exeunt Lady F. and Mrs. Rackett.

Miss Ogle.

There, you act now like a woman of Spirit! Exit.

Flut.

A fair tug—between Inclination and Duty. But Inclination, as of old, leads off in Triumph!

Exit.

Scene II.

An auction room. Pictures, Busts, ;c; ;c; Silvertongue in the pulpit; with his Clerk, and a Croud.

Silv.

Going!—for Seventy Guineas—three Coins —undoubted Originals—genuine—brass—for Seventy Guineas only—nobody bid more!—going— gone!

Gent.

Mr. Silvertongue, are these Medals genuine?

Silv.

Infallibly so, Sir—I know the Age of a coin by the taste, and can fix the birth-day of a medal, Anno Mundi, or Anno Domini, though the green rust should have eaten up every Character.

Another Gent.

My Taste is for Pictures: pray what have you to give us in that way?

Silv.

Your taste is for Pictures, Sir,—Oh, we have every thing, and every body—I have Parmegiano, Sal Rosa, Metzu, Tarbaek, and Vandermeer, in the 261 S3r 261 different rooms. You may perceive the Relief of Woovermans, the Spirit of Teniers, the Colouring of the Venetian school, and the Correctness of the Roman. Claude you’ll discover by his Sheep, and Ruysdael by his Water. Here the Rapidity of Tintoret’s pencil strikes at the first glance, there the Harmony of Vandyk, and the Glow of Corregio, point out their Masters. Enter Lady Frances, Mrs. Racket, and Miss Ogle, And come down from the back of the Stage, looking at Pictures, ;c;

Silv.

Come, this is nearly the last Lot—the Model of a City, in Wax.

Gent.

The Model of a City! what City?

Silv.

That I have not been able to discover; but, call it Rome, Pekin, or London—’twill be all the same: you’ll find in it the same jarring Interests, the same Passions, Virtues, and Vices, whatever the Name.

Another Gent.

You may as well present us with a Map of Terra Incognita.

Silv.

Oh—pardon me—pardon me, Sir! Imagination may convert this into endless Amusement:—for instance, the house on the Right, who shall say there are no prudes there, anxious about the reputations of —their Neighbours. This elegant mansion, on the Left, decorated with Corinthian Pillars, who wants proof that it is the habitation of a Statesman, of course of—Patriotism and Wisdom? Here, is a Hall of some Commercial Company, and, near it, a Workhouse—how comfortable the idea that the rich steams from the one encrease the nourishment in the other!—I perceive, Sir, that you are considering whether the city is English? Here is a Church— we’ll pass over that—the doors are shut; the Parsonage-house—catches262 S3v 262 age-house—catches the eye; could we take a peep, we might perhaps discover the Doctor asleep upon a volume of The Fathers, and his Lady—rouging for a Masquerade; it would, Sir, establish the point— that it is a foreign city.—Who buys the City? Lady Frances and Miss Ogle come forward, followed by Courtall.

Lady F.

I wish Sir George were here. This man follows me about, and stares at me in such a way, that I am quite uneasy.

Miss Ogle.

He has travelled, and is heir to an immense estate, so—is assumptive by Privilege.

Court.

You are very cruel Ladies. Miss Ogle— you will not let me speak to you! As to this scornful Beauty, she has frowned me dead fifty times.

Lady F.

Sir—I am a married woman.

Court.

’Twould be a shame if such a charming woman were not married. But, I see you are a Daphne—just come from your Sheep, and your Meadows, your Crook, and your Water-fall. Pray now, who is the happy Damon to whom you have vowed eternal truth and constancy?

Miss Ogle.

Mr. Courtall—’tis Lady Frances Touchwood to whom you are speaking.

Court.

Lady Frances! (Aside, that’s Saville’s old flame!) I beg your Ladyship’s pardon—I ought at once to have known your name—for I have long heard that it is that of the finest woman in England. Mrs. Rackett comes forward.

Lady F.

Apart My dear Mrs. Rackett—I am frightened! Here’s a man making love to me, though he knows I am married.

Mrs. R.

Oh, dont mind him. Was you at the Concert last night, Mr. Courtall?

Court.

I looked in. ’Twas impossible to stay— 263 S4r 263 no body there but Antiques. You’ll be at Lady Brilliant’s Masquerade to night, doubtless?

Mrs. R.

Yes, I go with Lady Frances.

Lady F.

to Miss Ogle Bless me, I did not know this Gentleman was acquainted with Mrs. Rackett. I behaved so rude to him!

Mrs. R.

Come looking at her watch ’tis past three. I protest if we dont fly to Kensington, we shall not find a soul there.

Lady F.

Wont this Gentleman go with us?

Court.

looking surprised To be sure—you make me happy beyond expression!

Mrs. R.

Oh, never mind him; he’ll follow. Exeunt Lady F. Mrs. R. and Miss Ogle.

Court.

Hur-r-r-m—your reserved Ladies are like Ice—no sooner begin to soften than they melt.

Following.
Act 264 S4v 264

Act the Third.

Scene I. Mr. Hardy’s. Letitia seated.

Enter Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs. R.

Come prepare, prepare—your Lover is coming!

Let.

My Lover! Confess now that my absence from Dinner was a Mortification to him.

Mrs. R.

I am not absolutely sure that it spoiled his appetite; he ate as if he was hungry, and drank his wine as though he liked it.

Let.

What was the Apology?

Mrs. R.

That you was indisposed;—but, I gave him a Hint that your extreme Bashfulness could not support his Eye!

Let.

If I can comprehend him, Awkwardness is no less than Bashfulness one of the last faults he can pardon—so, expect to see me transformed into the veriest Maukin, as a new source of dislike.

Mrs. R.

You persevere then?

Let.

Certainly. I know the scheme is rash, and the Event important;—it either makes Doricourt mine by all the tenderest ties of passion, or deprives me of him for ever; but—never to be his wife will afflict me less, than to be his wife and not be beloved. 265 S5r 265

Mrs. R.

Then you wont trust to the good old Maxim—Marry first, and Love will follow?

Let.

As readily as I would venture my last Guinea, that Good Fortune might follow. The woman that has not touched the Heart before she is led to the Altar, has scarcely a chance of charming it when security prevents her value from being raised by the risk of losing her—But here he comes! I’ll disappear for a moment—Dont spare me!

Mrs. R.

Oh, I’ll do you all the mischief you wish! Exit Letitia. Enter Doricourt Without seeing Mrs. Rackett.

Dor.

So! looking up at a picture this is my mistress I presume; sur ma foi! the painter has hit her off. The downcast eye—the blushing cheek—timid —apprehensive—bashful—A Prayer-book and a Tear would have made her La Bella MagdalenaGive me a Fair-one in whose touching mienA Mind, a Soul, a polish’d Art, are seen,Whose Gesture speaks, beams intellectual fire,She, speeds the darts which endless Love inspire!—

Mrs. R.

Is that an Impromptu? touching him on the shoulder with her Fan.

Dor.

Starting.――.Madam!――Aside. Finely caught!)—Not absolutely, I was trying it during the Dessert, as a Motto for your Picture.

Mrs. R.

Gallantly turned! but, wasn’t it for Miss Hardy’s? I suspect however that her charms have made no violent impression—and who can wonder? the poor Girl’s defects are so obvious.

Dor.

Defects—

Mrs. R.

Merely those of Education. Her father’s mismanagement ruined her—mauvaise honte266 S5v 266 conceit—and ignorance—all unite in the Charmer you are to marry!

Dor.

Marry?—I marry such a woman! Your picture I hope is overcharged;—I ally myself with mauvaise honte, pertness, and ignorance!

Mrs. R.

Thank Hymen that ugliness and ill temper are not added to the list. You allow she is handsome?

Dor.

Half her personal Beauty would be sufficient; but, were the Medicean Venus animated for me, and with a vulgar soul, as she awoke to life I should change to marble and become the Statue.

Mrs. R.

Bless us—we are in a hopeful way then!

Dor.

(Aside. But there must be some Envy in the Widow’s description)—Ha! ha! I must allow for a Lady’s painting! Miss Hardy, I have been assured, though not spirited, is elegant and accomplished.

Mrs. R.

(Aside. I’ll be even with him for that.)— Ha! ha! I protest I had no design upon you myself Doricourt—I only meant to encrease the éclat of her appearance—Here comes the Lady, she will herself announce her Elegance and Accomplishments! Enter Letitia, running.

Let.

La! Cousin—do you know that our John— oh, dear heart! I didn’t see you, Sir! hanging down her head, and hiding behind Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs. R.

Fie Letitia! Mr. Doricourt thinks your manners elegant; stand forward, and confirm his opinion.

Let.

No, no, let me skulk; he’s my Sweetheart— and ’tis impudent to look one’s Sweetheart in the face, you know!

Mrs. R.

apart You’ll allow in future for a Lady’s painting, Sir, Ha! ha! ha!

Dor.

I am astonished!

Let.

pretending to whisper Well, hang it, I must take heart at last! Why he is but a man you know 267 S6r 267 Cousin; and I’ll let him see I wasn’t born in a wood, and yet to be scared by an Owl! Advances, and looks at him through her fingers He! he! he! Goes up to him, and makes an awkward formal curtesy. He bows. You have been a great Traveller, Sir, they tell me!

Dor.

I have travelled, Madam.

Let.

Then I wish you’d tell us about the fine Sights you saw, when you went over-Sea.—I have read, in a Book, that there are some countries where the men and women are all Horses—did you ever see ’em?

Mrs. R.

Mr. Doricourt is not prepared, my dear, I fancy, for these enquiries. He is reflecting on the sagacity of the question, and will answer you when —he can.

Let.

Why! he’s as slow in speech as Aunt Margery when she is labouring through Thomas Aquinas;— look!—how he stands gaping, like mum-chance.

Mrs. R.

A little Discretion! Miss Hardy; or your Lover may not perceive your accomplishments and your elegance!

Let.

Hold your tongue!—sure I may say what I please before I am married, if I cant afterwards. D’ye think a body doesn’t know how to talk to a Sweetheart—it isn’t the first I have had.

Dor.

Indeed!

Let.

O lud—he speaks! runs from him. Why, you must know there was the Curate at home— when Papa was a-hunting he used to come a suitoring, and making speeches to me out of books. No body knows what a mort of fine things he used to say to me—and call me Venis, and Jubah, and Dinah!

Dor.

And pray, fair lady, how did you answer him?

Let.

Why I used to say—Look ye Mr. Curate, dont think for to manage me with your Flim-flams; —for a better man than ever trod in your shoes, is coming over-Sea to marry me.—But, ifags! I begin 268 S6v 268 to think I was out—Parson Dobbins was the sprightfuller man of the two!

Dor.

Surely, this cannot be really Miss Hardy!

Let.

Laws! why dont you know me—you saw me to day! But I was daunted before my Father, and the Lawyer, and all them, and I did not care to speak out—so may be you thought I couldn’t!—but, I can talk as fast as any body, when the ice is broke; and, having shown my Qualifications I hope you’ll like me the better! Enter Hardy.

Har.

But, I foresee this wont do! Mr. Doricourt —mayhap you take my daughter for a Fool, but you are mistaken, she is a sensible Girl—as any in England.

Dor.

She has an uncommon Understanding, Sir. (Aside—I did not think he had been such a Blockhead.)

Let.

(Aside.—My father will undo the whole.) Laws! Papa—how can you think he could take me for a fool, when every body knows I beat the Potecary at Conundrums last Christmas-time? And, didn’t I make a string of names, all Riddles, for the Ladies Diary?—There was—what a Lamb says—that was Ba; and three letters—k, e, r, ker—Baker. There was—

Har.

Dont stand ba-a-ing here. You’ll make me mad! I tell you Sir that, for all that, she’s peculiarly sensible.

Dor.

Sir, I give all possible credit to your assertion.

Let.

Laws! Papa—do go along! If you stand watching, how can my Sweetheart break his mind, and tell me how he admires me?

Dor.

It is difficult indeed, Madam.

Har.

I tell you Letty, I’ll have no more of this.— I foresee well enough— 269 S7r 269

Let.

Laws! Dont snub me before my Husband that is to be—You’ll teach him to snub me too;—I believe, by his Looks, he’d like to begin now! so come and talk with me Papa. Cousin—you may tell the Gentleman what a Genusgenius I have—how I can cut out watch-papers, and work cat-gut. Exeunt Hardy and Letitia.

Mrs. R.

What think you of my Painting now?

Dor.

Outline, Madam! The Original outdoes the Sketch.

Mrs. R.

How does she strike you altogether?

Dor.

Like a good Design spoilt by adventitious circumstances. I observed an Expression in her eye incongruous with the folly of her lips.

Mrs. R.

Aye—but—at her age, when education has stopped, and Manner is become Nature—hopes of Improvement—

Dor.

Would be as rational as hopes of restoring spoiled wine. But if Doricourt has a wife incapable of improvement, it must be—because there is no room for it.

Mrs. R.

Well, I may congratulate you, on perceiving no melancholy in your air from the adventure!

Dor.

No. So benign were the stars at the hour of my birth, that, though misfortunes go plump to the bottom of my heart, yet, as when pebbles sink in water, the surface is soon unruffled. I shall set off for the other world—or for Bath, to-night; whether to the one in a chaise and four, or to the other in a tangent from the aperture of a Pistol, deserves consideration. Going.

Mrs. R.

Whichsoever of the journies you take, I entreat you postpone until tomorrow! You must be at the Masquerade to night.

Dor.

Masquerade!

Mrs. R.

Why not? Even though you should resolve to visit the other world, you may as well, you know, take leave of this pleasantly. 270 S7v 270

Dor.

Well, Ladies are the best Philosophers! Expect me at the Masquerade. Exit.

Mrs. R.

He’s a charming fellow—I think Letitia shant have him! Going. Enter Hardy.

Har.

What’s he gone?

Mrs. R.

Yes; and I am glad he is—you would have ruined us. Now I beg, Mr. Hardy, you wont interfere in this business, it is a little out of your way. Exit.

Har.

Hang me if I dont though. I foreknow very clearly what will be the end of it if I leave ye to yourselves. I’ll follow him to the Masquerade, and tell him all.—Let me see, what shall my Dress be— A Great Mogul? No.—I foresee the Laugh would be at me!—An Ambassador? No—he is all open Honour! my aim is Deception—I’ll go as a Jew.

Exit.

Scene II.

Courtall’s. Enter Courtall, Saville, and three others, from an apartment at the back of the Stage, the last three tipsy.

Court.

You shant go yet—Another Bottle, and another Catch!

First Gent.

If you get any more wine into me— I’ll give you leave to hang the Bottle.—Why, I am going to the Masquerade; Jack—you know who I mean—is to meet me, we are to have a leap at the new Lustres.

Second Gent.

And I am going too—as Harlequin; 271 S8r 271 hiccups—my Zig Zags will do for the Harlequinades. Come, where are our Dominos? we must disguise.

Third Gent.

We are already disguised I think—bid them draw up! Exeunt the three Gentlemen.

Sav.

Thy skull, Courtall, is an Egg-shell!

Court.

Nay, then you are gone too! Such matterof-fact men as you never aspire to Similes—but in your cups.

Sav.

No, no; I am tolerably steady—but the fumes of wine pass directly through thy Eggshell, and leave thy brain as cool as――Hey! I must be quite sober, for my Similes fail me.

Court.

Then we’ll sit down here, and have one sober bottle—John! Wine brought.

Sav.

I’ll not swallow another drop, though the juice should be the true Falernian.

Court.

By the bright eyes of her you love—you shall drink her health.

Sav.

Ah! sitting down her I loved is gone! sighing she is married.

Court.

Then, bless your stars you are not her husband! I would be husband to no woman in England, who was not rich and ugly.

Sav.

Wherefore ugly?

Court.

Because she could not have the conscience to exact that Admiration which a Pretty Wife expects;—or, if she should, her resentments would not make me uneasy.

Sav.

Thou art a most licentious fellow!

Court.

Still, I have a great respect for Wives—so —here’s to the prettiest Wife in EnglandLady Frances Touchwood!

Sav.

Lady Frances Touchwood! I rise to drink her. drinks How came Lady Frances into your head? I never knew you give a woman of high Character before.

Court.

Ah!—the Wine works again—you are a Wag!—for you have heard me give full half a dozen 272 S8v 272 Women of Fashion. But, what do you take a woman of High Character to be? sneering.

Sav.

Such a woman as Lady Frances Touchwood, Sir.

Court.

Oh, I remember, you was an Adorer of her’s!—Why didn’t you marry her?

Sav.

I had not the arrogance to look so high. Had my Fortune been worthy of her, she should not have been ignorant of my Admiration.

Court.

Precious Fellow! What, I suppose you would not dare to tell her that you admire her, now?

Sav.

No—nor you.

Court.

By Cupid—I have told her so.

Sav.

Have!—impossible.

Court.

Ha! ha! ha!—is it so?

Sav.

Why, how did she receive the declaration?

Court.

Why, in the old way; blushed, and frowned, and said—she was married.

Sav.

What amazing things thou art capable of!— A Roman would sooner have breathed vows to a Vestal, than I have prophaned her ears with such a declaration.

Court.

I shall meet her at Lady Brilliant’s to-night —where I shall repeat it; and I have no doubt— under a Mask—she’ll hear it without a blush or a frown.

Sav.

You wrong her, Sir, rising—she will not.

Court.

She will! rising Nay, I’d venture to lay a round sum that I will prevail on her to trust herself with me—all in honorable confidence! I mean.

Sav.

Preposterous Vanity! From this moment I am convinced that the other victories you boast are as slanderous—as your pretended influence with Lady Frances.

Court.

Pretended! Why how should such a fellow as you now, who never soared beyond compliments to a cherry-cheeked daughter of a Ploughman in Norfolk, judge of the influence of a man of my Figure 273 T1r 273 and Stile? I could shew thee a list, in which there are names to shake thy faith in the whole sex! and, to that list I have no doubt of adding the name of Lady—

Sav.

Hold Sir! My ears cannot bear the prophanation. You cannot—dare not—approach her! For your life, you would not dare mention Love to her!—her Look would chill the word, whilst it hovered on thy licentious lips!

Court.

Whu! whu! Well, we shall see! This evening, by Jupiter, the trial shall be made.

Sav.

I think thou darest not! But, my life, my honour, on her Purity. Exit.

Court.

Hot-headed fool!—But, since he has brought it to this point—I’ll try what can be done with her Ladyship—musing But softly!—softly—a moment —cries Conscience! Wilt thou attempt to blemish her character for Virtue—merely to keep up thy own for Vice!—a Qualm! on such a subject! Pshaw, I have no time to muse on any thing—but the Means. Pauses, then rings. She’s frost-work, and the prejudices of education yet strong—ergo—passionate professions will only inflame her pride, and put her on her guard. For other Arts then! Enter Dick. Dick, do you know any of the servants at Sir George Touchwood’s?

Dick.

Yes Sir; I knows the Groom, and one of the Housemaids: for the matter-o’-that, she’s my own Cousin, and it was my Mother that holped her to the place.

Court.

Do you know Lady Frances’s maid?

Dick.

I cant say as how I am acquainted with she.

Court.

Do you know Sir George’s Valet?

Dick.

No Sir. But Sally is very thick with Mr. GibsonSir George’s Gentleman.

Court.

Then go there directly, and employ Sally Vol. I. T 274 T1v 274 to discover whether her Master goes to Lady Brilliant’s this evening; and, if he does, the name of the shop that sold his Habit.

Dick.

Yes, Sir.

Court.

Be exact in your intelligence, and come to me at White’s. Exit Dick. If I cannot otherwise succeed, I will, in the dress of her husband, beguile her to trust herself with me.—So fine a woman—the triumph over Saville—are each a sufficient motive; united, they are irresistible.

Exit.

Scene III.

the street. Enter Saville.

Sav.

The Air has recovered me. But what have the wine fumes made me do! Perhaps my Petulance may be the Cause of insult, to her whose honour I asserted. His Vanity is piqued—and, where Women are concerned, Courtall can be a Villain— Enter Dick. Bows, and passes hastily.

Sav.

Ha! I believe that’s his Servant—Dick!

Dick.

returning Sir.

Sav.

Where are you going, Dick?

Dick.

Going. I am going, Sir, where my Master bid me.

Sav.

Well answered;—but I have a particular reason for my enquiry, and you must tell me.

Dick.

Why then Sir I am going to the next street, to call upon a Cousin of mine that lives at Sir George Touchwood’s.

Sav.

Very well.—There gives him money you must make your Cousin drink my health—What are you going about? 275 T2r 275

Dick.

Why, Sir, I believe ’tis no harm, or elseways, I’m sure I wouldn’t blab. I’m only going to ax if Sir George Touchwood goes to the Masquerade, and what Dress he wears.

Sav.

Enough. I am going to call there this instant myself Dick, but, though I have a reason for wishing to know how both will be dressed, I cannot well make the enquiry myself. If you’ll call when you’ve learnt, and acquaint me with your Cousin’s intelligence, I’ll double the trifle I have given you.

Dick.

Oh, I’ll find out, and let you know Sir never fear—You may trust my Honor! Exit.

Sav.

Surely the Occasion may justify the Means. I cannot venture to inform Sir George, or, in endeavouring to prevent uncertain, I shall cause certain, mischief. It is doubly my Duty to be, and I will be, Lady Frances’s guardian. Courtall, I see, is planning an artful scheme—but Saville shall out-plot him!

Exit.

Scene IV.

Sir George Touchwood’s. Enter Sir George and Saville.

Sav.

Why, Sir George, as you quitted Lady Frances I perceived tears in her eyes—no severe affliction, I trust, has—

Sir Geo.

’Tis I am afflicted—at the departure of my Dream of happiness! Lady Frances and I are disunited.

Sav.

Presto! Why you have been in Town but ten days; deeds of separation follow your arrival with more even than their usual Celerity!

Sir Geo.

Pho! I mean our Minds are disunited; she no longer places her whole delight in me—she has yielded herself to the World! T2 276 T2v 276

Sav.

Why did’nt you bring her to Town in a Cage —then she might have had no more than a Peep at it. But, after all, what has the World done so to offend you! A twelvemonth since, you was the gayest fellow in it.—If any body asked who dressed best? Sir George Touchwood.—Who the most given to Dissipation? Sir George Touchwood.—And, now, Sir George is metamorphosed into a sour Censor, and talks of fashionable life with as much bitterness as the crabbed Censor of old in Rome.

Sir Geo.

Society wore a different complexion the moment I became possessed of such a jewel as Lady Frances; that, in which I lived with so much éclat, became the object of my terror; and, I now think of the manners of polite-life—as I do of the atmosphere of a Pest-house. My wife is already infected; she was set upon this morning by Maids, Widows, and Bachelors, who carried her off, in spite of my displeasure, in triumph!

Sav.

Had there been no opposition, there would have been no triumph. I have heard the whole story from Mrs. Rackett, and I assure you Lady Frances did not enjoy the morning at all,—she wished for you fifty times.

Sir Geo.

Indeed!

Sav.

Here she comes to receive your Apology. If she is a mere Woman, her Displeasure will rise in proportion to your Contrition. However I’ll leave you—matrimonial duets are seldom pleasing to auditors. Exit. Enter Lady Frances.

Sir Geo.

The sweet sorrow that glitters in these eyes I cannot bear embracing her Look chearfully you Rogue!

Lady F.

I cannot look otherwise, if you are pleased with me.

Sir Geo.

Well, Fanny, to day you made your entrée 277 T3r 277 into the fashionable world; tell me honestly the Impression you received.

Lady F.

Indeed, Sir George, I was so hurried from place to place, that I had not time to scrutinize what my impressions were.

Sir Geo.

That’s the very Spirit of the life you have chosen.

Lady F.

Every body about me seemed as though they hoped to be happy elsewhere.

Sir Geo.

And you like this?

Lady F.

One must like what the rest of the world likes.

Sir Geo.

Pernicious maxim!

Lady F.

But, my dear Sir George, you have not promised to go with me to the Masquerade!

Sir Geo.

’Twould be a shocking Indecorum to be seen together, you know.

Lady F.

Oh, no; I asked Mrs. Rackett, and she told me we might be seen together at the Masquerade without being laughed at.

Sir Geo.

Really!

Lady F.

Indeed, I wish it was the Fashion for married people to be always in each other’s society. I have more heartfelt satisfaction in an hour of converse with you, than a month of amusement could give me without you.

Sir Geo.

My sweet Creature!—how that confession charms me! Let us begin the Fashion.

Lady F.

Oh! impossible. We should not gain a single proselyte;—you cant conceive what spiteful things would be said of us. At Kensington to day a Lady, whom we saw at Court when we were presented, met us; she lifted up her hands in amazement!—Bless me! said she—here’s Lady Frances without Sir Hurlo! My dear Mrs. Rackett, consider what an important charge you have—take her home again! or some Enchanter, on a flying dragon, will descend and carry her off. Oh, said another, you may depend upon it she has a clue at her heel, like 278 T3v 278 the peerless Rosamond; her tender Swain would never have trusted her so far, without means of discovering her.

Sir Geo.

Heaven! How shall Innocence preserve its Lustre amidst manners so corrupt?—My dear Fanny, I feel a sentiment for thee at this moment tenderer than Love—more animated than passion. I view thy progress through the infectious regions of fashion—with anxious terror! Enter Gibson.

Gib.

You talked, Sir, something about going to the Masquerade?

Sir Geo.

Well!

Gib.

Isn’t it? haven’t you? I thought, Sir, you had forgot to order a Dress. Aside. What, now, can it signify to Sal, what his dress is to be?)

Lady F.

Well considered Gibson.—Come, will you be Jew, Turk, a Chinese Emperor, or a Balladsinger!

Sir Geo.

Neither, my Love. I cant take the trouble to support a Character.

Lady F.

You’ll wear a Domino then:—I saw a pink one trimmed with blue, at the shop where I bought my Habit—would you like it?

Sir Geo.

Any thing—any thing.

Lady F.

Go about it directly, Gibson.—A pink Domino, trimmed with blue, and a hat of the same. Exit Gibson. You have not seen my Dress yet, it is most beautiful, I long to have it on!

Exeunt.
279 T4r 279

Act the Fourth.

Scene I. A masquerade.

Music. A Party of Masqueraders, dancing in front. A variety of Characters pass and repass. Enter Folly—with his Cap and Bells.

Mask.

Hey! Tom Fool! What Business have you here?

Folly.

What Slave! Affront a Prince surveying— his own Dominions! Struts through the Crowd. A Mountebank advances, followed by his Merry Andrew who continues playing tricks around him.

Merry Andrew.

Here! here! here!—who’ll buy my Master’s Nostrums—who’ll buy?

Mount.

Nostrums! Ladies and Gentlemen, most excellent Nostrums—who’ll buy?

Masks.

What are they? what are they? They all come round him.

Mount.

Different sorts—for different Customers. Here’s an excellent Powder for Ladies, quenches the rage for Gaming by making them――sleep at Night. Husbands! here’s an Eye-water thickens the visual membrane, prevents its seeing every cobweb――good 280 T4v 280 for Jealousy. Here’s a Narcotic for Members of Parliament, produces Repose――in every state of the Conscience! Here—here’s a Corroborant for the Clergy, provided they effect an advantageous―― Change of Living! Projectors! here’s a Decoction dissipates Airy Castles, by rectifying the Fumes―― of empty stomachs! Here—but where shall I find it —Oh! here’s a Quieting-draught for Lawyers!―― a great promoter of Modesty.

A. Mask.

Mr. Mountebank! have you no Anodyne for young Heirs, whose Uncles and Fathers are healthy?

Mount.

An Anodyne for young Heirs—no. But, I have an Alterative, produces Abstinence in Creditors, when Gentlemen plead their Privilege—of breaking a Promise!

First Mask.

Come along—come along;—here are Customers for your whole cargo. Conducts him in Front, between the masqueraders and the Audience; and they pass behind, Music. Enter Hardy, dressed as a Jew.

Hardy.

Why, isn’t it a Shame to see so many stout well-built young fellows, masquerading and cutting capers to Music here at home—instead of making the French cut capers to a tune from our Cannon— or exercising the Spaniards in an English fandango. —I foresee the end of all this!

1st Mask.

Why, thou testy Israelite, back to Duke’s Place! and preach thy Tribe into a Subscription for the good of the land—on whose milk and honey ye fatten. Where are your Joshuas and your Gideons—eh! What—all dwindled into Stockbrokers, Pedlars, and Ragmen?

Har.

Vat shure—not all! Shum of us have dwindled into—Men of Fashion! (Aside. Ha! here are Cousin Rackett and her Party; they shant know me.) Music. 281 T5r 281 Enter Mrs. Rackett, Lady Frances, Sir George, and Flutter.

Mrs. R.

Look at this swarthy Jew! he must be a real Levite by his Figure. You have surely practised the flesh-hook a long time friend, to have raised that goodly presence.

Har.

Vy, about ash long, my brisk Vidow, ash you have been angling for a second Hushband! My hook ish better baited than your’sh, you catch I shee only Gudgeon! pointing at Flutter.

Flut.

Oh! what we have here some Genius our Hostess has hired, to entertain the company with accidental sallies.—Let me look at your Common- Place book friend,—I want a few good things—

Har.

I know it! but you vilsh spoil dem in repeating! Or, if not, dey vilsh gain you no reputation—nobody vilsh believe dey are your own!

Sir Geo.

He knows ye Flutter! The bustling Gentleman fancies himself a Wit I see.

Har.

Dares no depending upon vatsh you shee; —de eyes of de shellous are not to be trushted! Try to shee clear vensh you look after your Ladee!

Flut.

He knows you, Sir George!

Sir Geo.

Aside.—What!—am I the Town-talk?

Har.

Aside. I can neither see Doricourt nor Letty. I must find them out. Exit.

Mrs. R.

Well, Lady Frances, is not all this charming? Could you have conceived such a brilliant assemblage of objects?

Lady F.

Delightful!—The days of Enchantment are restored! The Columns glow with Sapphires and Rubies. Emperors and Fairies, Beauties and Dwarfs, meet me at every step.

Sir Geo.

How lively are first impressions on sensible minds! In two hours—Vapidity and Languor will take place of that exquisite sense of Joy that flutters thy susceptible heart.

Mrs. R.

What an inhuman creature! Fate has not 282 T5v 282 allowed us these Sensations above ten times in the whole course of our lives;—and would you have us suppress them by Anticipation?

Flut.

Oh! your wise men are the greatest fools upon earth! whilst they reason about enjoyments, and develope the Philosophy of pleasure, the Essence escapes.—Look, Lady Frances, do you see that figure strutting in the dress of an Emperor? he has stolen a march upon the servants at the door—his father sells Oranges in Botolph Lane. That Gypsey—is a Maid of Honour; and that Undertaker, a Physician!

Lady F.

Why, you know every body.

Flut.

Oh, every creature—a Mask is nothing at all to me.—I can give you the history of half the people here. In the next apartment there is a whole family who, to my knowledge, have lived on Watercresses this month, to make a figure here to night. To make up for that however, they’ll cram their pockets with cold ducks and chickens—for a Carnival tomorrow.

Lady F.

Oh! I should like to see this provident family.

Flut.

Honour me with your arm. Ex. Flutter and Lady Frances.

Mrs. R.

Come, Sir George, you shall be my Beau. We’ll make the tour of the rooms, and meet them. Oh! your pardon, you must follow Lady Frances, or the Wit and Graces of Mr. Flutter may drive you out of her head. Ha! ha! ha! Exit.

Sir George.

I was about to follow her, but, now I dare not! How can I be such a Fool as to be governed by the fear of the very ridicule which I despise! Exit. Music. Enter Doricourt, meeting a Pilgrim.

Dor.

Ha! my Lord!—I thought you had been engaged in the House this important night.

Pilg.

So I am—I slipt out as soon as Lord Trope got upon his legs; I can badiner here an hour or 283 T6r 283 two, and be back again before he is down. Here’s a fine Figure from which I shall not run— Enter Letitia. Charity, fair Lady! Charity for a poor Pilgrim!

Let.

Charity! If you mean my prayers—heaven grant thee Wit, Pilgrim.

Pilg.

Blessings I should ask from a Devotee;—but from you I ask the charities Beauty should bestow —soft looks, sweet words.

Let.

Alas! I am bankrupt of these, and forced to turn beggar myself— Doricourt advances. (Aside.—There he is! something striking must catch his Attention!)

Pilg.

Do you beg too! Come, we’ll proceed together then through the world—if you’ll accept my hand?

Let.

(Aside—Fortunate question!) I’ll make you my Partner, not for Life, but through the soft mazes of a Minuet—Dare you Dance?

Dor.

Some Spirit in that!

Pilg.

I dare any thing you command.

Dor.

Do you know her, my Lord?

Pilg.

No! Such a woman would formerly have been known in any disguise; but, Beauty is now common,—Venus seems to lend her Cestus through the whole sex! They dance a Minuet.

Dor.

Doricourt expresses Delight throughout. She dances divinely――charming! The Minuet closes.Exit Letitia. Somebody must know her, let us enquire who she is!Exit. 284 T6v 284 Saville advances with Kitty Willis, habited like Lady Frances.

Sav.

Though he endeavoured to keep himself concealed, I have discovered Courtall habited as Sir George.—Go and seat yourself in the Tea Room, and on no account discover your face. Remember too, Kitty, that the woman you are to personate—is a woman of Virtue.

Kitty.

Such a part is sometimes, I suppose, not kept up in a Masquerade even by a woman of Character.

Sav.

Of that you can be no judge!—Follow my directions, and you shall be rewarded. Exit Kitty. Enter Doricourt, hastily.

Dor.

Ha! Saville!—did you see a Lady dance just now?

Sav.

No.

Dor.

Very odd, I have enquired every where, nobody knows her!

Sav.

Where is Miss Hardy?

Dor.

Oh, I know nothing of her—cutting watchpapers, and making Conundrums, I suppose.

Sav.

What do you mean?

Dor.

Faith, I hardly know. Mrs. Rackett tells me she is not here—I asked no further!

Sav.

Your Indifference seems encreased.

Dor.

Quite the reverse; I have advanced thirtytwo degrees towards Hatred!

Sav.

You are jesting?

Dor.

Then it must be with a very ill Grace my dear Saville, for I never was in a mood more serious. —Do you know the creature’s almost an Ideot?

Sav.

What!

Dor.

An Ideot. To force Hardy to cancel the Engagement, I have some thoughts of feigning myself—downright mad. 285 T7r 285

Sav.

I must leave you;—you are mysterious, and I cant stay to unravel you! I came here to watch over Innocence and Beauty.

Dor.

At three and twenty, the Guardian of innocence and beauty! Is there not a cloven foot under that black gown, Saville?

Sav.

No, faith. Courtall is here on a most detestable design. I have brought here, to personate the Lady, a Girl whose reputation cannot be hurt. You shall know the result to-morrow! Adieu! Exit.

Dor.

Advancing forward, and musing.Yes, I think that will do! I actually will feign myself mad —fee the Doctor to pronounce me incurable—and when the parchments are destroyed—

As he stands, in a musing posture, Letitia enters, and sings

Song.

Wake! Thou son of Dullness, wake!

From thy drowsy Senses shake

All the Spells that Care employs

Cheating mortals of their Joys.

Light wing’d Spirits hither haste!

Who prepare for mortal taste

All the gifts that pleasure sends,

Every bliss that youth attends.

Touch his feelings, rouse his Soul,

Whilst the sparkling moments roll

Bid them teem with new Delight

Crown the Magic of the night!

Dor.

Heaven!—the same sweet creature!

Let.

You have chosen an unfit situation for Study! Fashion and Taste preside in this spot, they throw their Spells around you, a thousand Delights spring 286 T7v 286 up at their command;—and you, a Stoic! a being without Senses, are lost to all this in Reflection!

Dor.

But you, the most charming of beings, awake me to Admiration! Did you come from the Stars!

Let.

Yes, and shall re-ascend in a moment!

Dor.

Pray, show me your face before you go.

Let.

Why?

Dor.

That I may fall in Love with it.

Let.

Is there no honorable Engagement in the way!

Dor.

Aside Ah! There’s the rub!

Let.

She to whom you are devoted will be angry— but perhaps there is none.

Dor.

Yes, yes—such a one!

Let.

What! is she old?

Dor.

No.

Let.

Ugly?

Dor.

No.

Let.

What then?

Dor.

Pho! dont talk about her—but shew me your face!

Let.

My Vanity forbids;—’twould frighten you.

Dor.

Impossible! Your Shape is graceful; your Air bewitching; your Face—your chin would tempt me to kiss it if I did not see, half mask’d, a pouting red lip above it that demands—

Let.

You grow too free!

Dor.

Your face then—only half a Glance!

Let.

Not for Worlds!

Dor.

What! you will have a little gentle force? attempts to seize her mask.

Let.

I am gone for ever! Exit.

Dor.

’Tis false. I’ll follow you for ever. Exit. Music. Flutter, Lady Frances, and Saville dressed as an Enchanter, advance.

Lady F.

How can you be thus interested for a Stranger? 287 T8r 287

Sav.

Goodness interests because it is a Stranger; —its home is Heaven, on earth ’tis an assailed Wanderer. Imprudent Lady! why have you left the side of your proper protector? Where is your husband?

Flut.

Why, what’s that to him?

Lady F.

It cannot be merely his Habit—There is something that awes me!

Flut.

Pho! ’tis only his grey beard.—I know him; he keeps a Lottery Office on Cornhill!

Sav.

My power as an Enchanter lays open every secret to me. Lady! there are Dangers abroad— beware!Exit.

Lady F.

I cannot account for it—but his manner has made me tremble! Let us seek Sir George.

Flut.

He is coming towards us. Courtall advances masked, and habited like Sir George.

Court.

Aside.—There she is! If I can but disengage her from that fool Flutter—crown me ye schemers with immortal wreaths!

Lady F.

O my dear Sir George! I rejoice to meet you;—an old Conjuror has been alarming me by Prophecies. Where is Mrs. Rackett?

Court.

Presses his Mask on his mouth In the outer Dancing room.—I promised to send you to her Mr. Flutter.

Flut.

Oh she wants me to dance!—With all my heart.Exit.

Lady F.

Why do you keep on your mask?—’tis too warm.

Court.

’Tis very warm—I want air—let us go.

Lady F.

You seem quite agitated. Shall we not bid our friends adieu?

Court.

No, no; forms will be inconvenient now! I’ll just give directions about the Carriage, and be 288 T8v 288 with you in a moment. going—steps back Put on your Mask, I have a particular reason for it. Exit Courtall. Lady F. masks. Saville advances; with Kitty masked.

Sav.

Now Kitty, you know your Lesson. Lady Frances! takes off his Mask let me lead you to your Husband.

Lady F.

Most unexpected! is Mr. Saville the Conjurer?— Sir George is just stepp’d to the door to give directions. We are going immediately—

Sav.

You are deceived! See Sir George, unmasked, yonder.

Lady F.

Good Heaven!—what means this?

Sav.

Be not alarmed!—you have escaped the Snare. Exeunt Saville and Lady Frances. Enter Courtall, and seizes Kitty’s hand.

Court.

Now! come—my Angel! hurries out with her on the other side. Music. Doricourt follows Letitia backwards and forwards through the Crowd. They come forward.

Dor.

I never was charmed till now! English Beauty—french Vivacity, Wit, Elegance. Your name, my Angel! though you persist in concealing your face—tell me your name!

Let.

My name has a powerful Spell in it!

Dor.

You are all Charm!

Let.

But, my name revealed—the Charm is broke.

Dor.

I’ll answer for its undiminished force.

Let.

Suppose it Harriet, or Charlotte, or Maria— or—

Dor.

Away with Harriet, and Charlotte, and Maria—the name you inherit from your father? 289 U1r 289

Let.

Oh, that’s of no worth;—’tis so transient!

Dor.

Why must it be transient?

Let.

After Marriage, only, I would have it unchangeable.

Dor.

Marriage! Oh—its Chains are too heavy and vulgar for such a spirit as your’s.—The Flowery Wreaths of Cupid are the only bands you should wear.

Let.

They may be the lightest;—but, ’tis possible to wear those of Marriage with Ease, throw them gracefully round, and twist them in a True-Lovers’ knot for the Bosom.

Dor.

You are an Angel! But, what will you be when a Wife?

Let.

But a woman. If my husband should prove a Churl, a Gamester, a Coxcomb, or a Tyrant, I’ll squander his Fortune, treat him with neglect, break his heart—and return the sneer of the world with scorn, whilst my Feelings prey upon my Life!

Dor.

What spirit—what Animation! But—your conduct if he be worthy of your love?

Let.

Why then, I would be any thing—or all; Grave, Gay, Capricious,—the soul of Whim, the spirit of Variety. Live with him in the eye of Fashion, or in the shade of Retirement. Change my country, my sex. Feast with him in an Esquimaux hut, or in a Persian pavilion. Join him in the victorious Wardance on the borders of Lake Ontario, or sleep to the soft breathings of the flute in the Cinnamon Groves of Ceylon. Dig with him in the Mines of Golconda, or enter the dangerous precincts of the gorgeous Palace of the Mogul, cheat him of his wishes—and overturn his empire! to restore the Husband of my heart to the blessings of Liberty and Love!

Dor.

Delightful wildness! Oh, that I could catch and cage thee for ever! attempting to clasp her.

Let.

Hold, Sir! Though Cupid may tempt to the snare, ’tis Hymen must draw the Net to catch me. Vol. I. U 290 U1v 290

Dor.

In vain you assume airs of coldness—Fate has ordained you mine!

Let.

How do you know?

Dor.

I feel it in my Heart. I never met with a woman so perfectly to my fancy; I wont believe it formed you so only to tantalize me.

Let.

Aside. This moment is worth a whole existence!

Dor.

Come, shew me your face—and confirm your empire!

Let.

Tomorrow you shall be satisfied.

Dor.

Tomorrow! Oh, let it be now!

Let.

No.

Dor.

Where then shall I see you tomorrow?— When?

Let.

You shall see me in an hour when you least expect me!

Dor.

Why all this Mystery?

Let.

I chuse to be mysterious. At present, be content to know that I am a woman of Family and Fortune.—Farewell! Hardy comes through the crowd, and advances a little.

Har.

Aside. Farewell!—Then I am come at the fag end.

Dor.

Let me see you to your Carriage.

Let.

As you value knowing who I am, stir not a step. If I am followed, you see me no more! Exit.

Dor.

Barbarous creature—she’s gone!—What, and is this really serious—am I in Love!—Pho! it cant be. Oh, Flutter—this is lucky—I want you—do you know that charming creature? Enter Flutter.

Flut.

What charming creature? I pass’d a thousand.

Dor.

She went out at that door, as you entered. 291 U2r 291

Flut.

Oh, yes;—I know her very well—I know every body.

Dor.

Do you, my dear fellow? Who is she?

Flut.

Oh, Lord George Jennett has intruded the creature in disguise—she is kept by him.

Har.

Aside Impudent Scoundrel!

Dor.

Kept!

Flut.

Yes; Colonel Gorget had her first—then— I forget exactly to how many she sunk;—at last, she’s Lord George’s. Talks to other Masks.

Dor.

I’ll murder Gorget, poison Lord George, and shoot myself!

Har.

comes forward I foresee I have hit the time to clear up the whole.—Mr. Doricourt—I say— Flutter as usual has misled—I can tell you correctly whom you are in Love with.

Dor.

A strange rencontre!—Who?

Har.

Why, my Letty!

Dor.

I understand the Rebuke, Sir;—’tis however too soon to assume the Father-in-law.

Har.

Whu! what do you mean by that? I tell you that the Lady you admire—is Letitia Hardy.

Dor.

I am glad you are so well satisfied with the state of my heart.—I wish I was! Exit.

Har.

Stop a moment—stop I say!—You wont! very well, I’ll trick you for this; I’ll join Letty’s plot, hang me if I dont. There’s something in my head shall tingle in your heart!—He shall have a lesson on impatience, which I predict he’ll be the better for as long as he lives! Exit. Saville comes forward, with other Masks.

Sav.

Flutter, you love Variety, come with us; we are going to Courtall’s to raise—a Laugh at Vice!— Come along, I’ll explain as we go

Flut.

With all my heart—Live to think was My father’s Motto:—Live to laugh is mine!

Exeunt, with two or three others.
U2 292 U2v 292

Scene II.

Courtall’s. Enter Kitty and Courtall, masked.

Kitty.

Where have you brought me Sir George? this is not my home!

Court.

Beautiful Lady Frances! kneels and unmasks—’tis my home. Oh, forgive the ardent Passion which has compelled me to deceive you.

Kitty.

Oh! Mr. Courtall—what will become of my Character!

Court.

Say but that you pardon the wretch who adores you! Did you but know the agonizing tortures of my heart since I have had the felicity of conversing with you this morning—or the despair that now— a knock.

Kitty.

Oh! I am undone!

Court.

Confusion!—my dear Lady Frances! I’m not at home—Rascal! do you hear? Let nobody in; I am not at home!

Serv.

Without Sir, I told the Gentlemen so!

Court.

Some Spirit thwarts me!—They are coming up—step adorable creature into this room one moment!—I’ll throw them out of the window, if they stay three. Exit Kitty through a door at the back of the stage. Enter Saville, Flutter, and other Masks.

Flut.

Oh, Gemini?—beg the petticoat’s pardon— just saw a corner of it!

1st Mask.

No wonder you was denied. I thought you took us for Bailiffs!

Court.

Upon my Veracity I am inexpressibly glad to see you Gentlemen—but, you perceive how I am circumstanced—excuse me at this moment. 293 U3r 293

Flut.

Tell us who it is then?

Court.

Oh, fie!

Flut.

Come, we wont blab.

Court.

I cant, upon honour.—Thus far—She’s a woman of the first character and rank! Saville takes him aside have I influence, or have I not!

Sav.

Why, surely, you dont insinuate—

Court.

No, not insinuate, but swear, that she’s now closeted! by Cupid, I dont deceive you. There’s Generalship! you Rogue. Such an humble, distant, sighing fellow as thou art, at the end of a six months siege, would have boasted of a kiss on her glove.—I only give the signal and—pop! she is with me.

Sav.

What, Lady Fran

Court.

Hush!! You shall see her name, on some other occasion, in red letters at the end of my list. Gentlemen, you must excuse me now—But—

Sav.

With an air of Mystery Oh, we must go, out of respect to the Lady:—’tis a person of Rank!

Flut.

Then I’ll have a peep at her—runs to the door.

Court.

This is too much, Sir. Trying to prevent him.

1st Mask.

By Jupiter—we’ll all have a peep!

Court.

Gentlemen! consider—for Character sake —a Lady of Quality—the Earl her father—the consequences between me and her husband—How can you make amends?

Flut.

Why, you’ll have your throat cut—but I’ll write your Elegy!—So, now for the door! whilst part hold Courtall, the rest open the door Beg your Ladyship’s pardon. Whoever you are—Leads her out emerge from darkness, and, like the glorious Sun, dissipate obscurity by your charms takes off her mask.

Sav.

Kitty Willis!—ha! ha! ha!

All.

Ha! ha! ha! Kitty Willis! ha! ha! ha! Kitty Willis! Kitty Willis! 294 U3v 294

1st Mask.

Why, what a fellow you are Courtall, to attempt imposing on your Friends in this manner! —ha! ha! ha! A Lady of Quality—an Earl’s Daughter—ha! ha! ha!—Your Ladyship’s most obedient!

Sav.

Courtall calls him aside—pretending to whisper have you Influence, or have you not?

Flut.

The man’s moon-struck!

Court.

The Furies seize you all together!

Kitty.

What! me too Mr. Courtall? me, whom you have knelt to, prayed to, and adored! runs round the stage after him.

Flut.

That’s right, Kitty; give him a little more!

Sav.

to Kitty—You may now depart. Exit Kitty.

Court.

Disappointed—laughed at—

Sav.

—And despised! I have fulfilled my Design, which was—to expose Presumption and Profligacy with all their blandishments to Laughter and Contempt! Adieu Sir;—pause before you again boast of influence with women of Rank. When you next flatter yourself with hopes of success in Vice—look not to the virtuous and the Noble! Exit.

Flut.

And Courtall—d’ye hear! before you closet a Lady again—look under her mask! Exit with the other Masks all laughing.

Court.

There’s no bearing this! Tarnished in Character I cannot remain here—I’m off for Paris!

Act 295 U4r 295

Act the Fifth.

Scene I. Hardy’s.

Enter Hardy, and Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs. R.

Oh! in what a whimsical situation is poor Doricourt! Dying for her, and hates her; believes her a Fool—and a woman of Brilliant Understanding!

Har.

Do you know, out of downright goodnature, at the Masquerade I went up to him to explain matters; but my Gentleman whips round upon his heel, and snapt me as short—as if he had been Overseer of the Poor, and I—an old Woman with six small children! You are sure of me now in all your plots.

Mrs. R.

Here comes the Wonder-worker, Enter Letitia. here comes The Enchantress of the Masquerade— who can sing and dance a man out of his Wits! But pray, have we Morning masquerades?

Let.

Oh no—but I am so enamoured of this allconquering Dress, that I could not resist putting it on the moment I had breakfasted. I shall wear it on the day I am married, and then lay it by in spices, like the miraculous robes of St. Bridget.

Har.

Aye, Letty, the attractions that help to catch 296 U4v 296 a husband are laid by, one after another, till the Lady grows—a downright Wife; and then—as I always foresee—she runs crying to her Mother, because she has transformed her Lover into a downright Husband.—As for Doricourt, Plots against him so quickly drove one another out of my head all night, that, giddy as a Goose—I could make nothing of them in the morning. Cousin Racket, do contrive something.

Mrs. R.

I have—I have it! You shant undeceive him Letitia, until he is your Husband! Marry him under the impressions he has of Miss Hardy—and when you are his Wife—

Let.

Oh!—I see the whole—’tis an enchanting scheme!

Har.

But—I foresee the End of it—it will not succeed;—you know the Wedding is not to take place this week or more—and my Letty will never be able to play the fool so long.

Mrs. R.

Oh, the knot shall be tied to day! I have it all in my brain. Feign yourself seriously ill to Hardy, send for Doricourt, and tell him you cant go out of the world in peace, unless you first see the ceremony performed.

Har.

I feign myself quitting the World from a serious illness—I could as soon feign myself a retiring Minister! Why, as I never called in a Doctor, I never had an illness in my life that went beyond a Cold!

Mrs. R.

Oh, it is not of you that I have fears! But, what says Letitia? are you willing to make the irrevocable vow, to day?

Let.

Oh—I—I—’tis so exceedingly sudden, that really—

Mrs. R.

That really you are frighten’d out of your wits—lest it should be impossible to contrive it. But, I’ll manage it.—Come, put off your conquering Dress, and recover all your awkward airs. Go to Mr. 297 U5r 297 Hardy to bed directly! Your room shall be crammed with Phials, and all the other Apparatus of Death.

Har.

Well by and by! looks at his Watch The Budget’s to be opened this evening—I must first just step down to the House.

Mrs. R.

What, Sir! wont your attendance be excused by a mortal sickness!

Har.

Why, I believe Cousin Rackett there are rogues who, on that plea, would willingly excuse many of us, with a view to the health of the Nation. But—

Mrs. R.

But—you must not stir out, Sir; stay and practise a few Groans—and I’ll answer for the plot.

Let.

Married in jest! the idea is most extraordinary—But, the Spirit of Venture is on me! Exit, with Mrs. Rackett.

Har.

In truth, I’d rather go any where, out of the way of this Scheme;—I’m half afraid! I foresee some Ill happening from this making believe to die before one’s time.—But, hang it――a-hem! I’m a stout man yet; only Fifty-six.—And what’s that? in the last Yearly Bill there were three lived to above an hundred. Fifty-six!—Whu!—that’s not Old-age now!

Exit.

Scene II.

Doricourt’s. Doricourt in his Robe de Chambre. Enter Saville.

Sav.

Undressed so late?

Dor.

I went to bed late—I was not able to sleep —’twas late when I rose—Do you know Lord George Jennett?

Sav.

Yes.

Dor.

Has he a Mistress? 298 U5v 298

Sav.

Yes.

Dor.

What sort of a creature is she?

Sav.

Why, she spends him Three Thousand a year with the Ease of a Duchess, and entertains his friends with the air of a Ninon—ergo, she is handsome, lively, and impudent. Doricourt stamps and walks about disordered—In the name of Caprice, what ails you?

Dor.

You have hit it—elle est mon Caprice; the Mistress of Lord George—insufferable!

Sav.

What, you saw her at the Masquerade?

Dor.

Saw her!—loved her, was dying for her, without knowing who she was. And now—torture!—I cannot hate her.

Sav.

Ridiculous enough! all this distress about a Kept Woman, who will sink to any one, I dare swear, in a fortnight.

Dor.

The sentiment I have conceived for the witch is so unaccountable, that this is the very idea which I cannot endure. Was she a Woman of Honour, as a Wife I could adore her—but, I really believe, if she were to send me an assignation, I should hate her.

Sav.

Hey-dey! This sounds like Love! What is to become, pray, of poor Miss Hardy?

Dor.

Her name gives me an Ague! Dear Saville, how shall I contrive to make old Hardy cancel the engagement! The moiety of the estate which she will forfeit shall be her’s the next moment, by deed of gift.

Sav.

Let me see—Cant you get it insinuated that you are a wild fellow, attached to Gaming, and so forth?

Dor.

Oh, such a Character might have disgusted, three Centuries back. But, what timorous being will it frighten now? I positively must pursue my scheme of feigned Madness at last—there, will that do for a Grin?

Sav.

Ridiculous!—But, how are you certain that 299 U6r 299 the woman who so bewilders you is but the creature of Lord George?

Dor.

Flutter told me so.

Sav.

Fifty to One against the intelligence, of course.

Dor.

It must be true;—there was a strange Mystery about her, for which nothing else can account —a violent rap—Who can this be? Saville looks out.

Sav.

The Proverb is your answer—’tis Flutter himself. Tip him a scene of the Madman—to see how it takes!

Dor.

I will;—a good way to send it about Town. Shall it be of the melancholy kind—or the raving?

Sav.

Oh! let it be Rant!—downright Rant!— he comes.

Dor.

Talk not to me—who can pull Comets by the Beard, and overset an Island!— Enter Flutter. There! This is he!—this is he, who hath sent my poor soul, without Coat or Waistcoat, to be tossed about in Æther like a duck-feather!—Villain—give me my Soul again!

Flut.

Upon my soul I have’nt got it. Exceedingly frightened.

Sav.

Oh! Mr. Flutter, what a melancholy sight! —I little thought to have seen my poor friend reduced to this.

Flut.

Mercy defend me! What’s he mad?

Sav.

You see how it is. An abandoned Italian Lady—Jealousy—gave him a drug—and every full of the Moon—

Dor.

Moon! Who dares talk of the Moon? the patroness of Genius—the rectifier of Wits—the— Ah! here she is!—I feel her—she tugs at my Brain —she has it—she has it—she runs away with it— Exit. 300 U6v 300

Flut.

This is dreadful! exceedingly dreadful I protest. Have you had the mad Doctor?

Sav.

Not yet. The worthy Miss Hardy—what a Misfortune!

Flut.

Aye very true.――Do they know it?

Sav.

Oh, no; the Paroxysm seized him but this morning.

Flut.

Adieu—I must go and tell!—I can’t stay. going hastily.

Sav.

But you must holding him stay and assist me; perhaps he’ll return again in a moment, and, when he is in this way, his Strength is prodigious.

Flut.

Can’t indeed—can’t upon my soul—can’t. In great haste.

Sav.

Flutter!—Dont mistake now;—remember, ’tis Doricourt that’s mad.

Flut.

turning back Yes—you mad.

Sav.

No, no;—Doricourt.

Flut.

That I may be quite sure I make no mistake —I’ll say you’re both mad!

Exeunt, severally.

Scene III.

Sir George Touchwood’s. Enter Sir George, and Lady Frances.

Sir Geo.

The delinquent is escaped—Courtall is gone to France.

Lady F.

What! is it possible that you have been to seek him?

Sir Geo.

It was impossible to avoid it.

Lady F.

I should have been too much afraid of Consequences ever to have told you his name—how did you learn it?

Sir Geo.

Oh, in the first Coffee-Room I entered. —Every body is full of the story.

Lady F.

Thank Heaven he’s gone! Let us give 301 U7r 301 our minds to a pleasanter subject.—The Hardy family are forming a plot against your friend Doricourt, and we are expected in the evening to assist.

Sir Geo.

With all my heart, my Angel; but I cant stay to hear it explained. They told me Mr. Saville would be at home in half an hour, I am impatient to see him. The adventure of last night—

Lady F.

Think of it only with Gratitude; the danger I was in has overset a new System of conduct that, perhaps, I was too much inclined to adopt. But, henceforth, my dear Sir George, you shall be my constant companion and Guard. And, when they ridicule the unfashionable creatures, the felicity of our hearts will have rendered them impenetrable by their Satire.

Sir Geo.

Charming Angel! you almost reconcile me to Courtall. Hark! here is Company goes to the door ’tis your lively Widow—I’ll away to Saville. Exit. Enter Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs. R.

Oh, Lady Frances! I am shocked to death. Have you received a Card from us?

Lady F.

Yes; within this half hour.

Mrs. R.

Aye, ’tis of no consequence.—’Tis all over—Doricourt is mad!

Lady F.

Mad!

Mrs. R.

My poor Letitia! Just as we were enjoying ourselves in the prospect of a Scheme that was planned for their mutual happiness, in came Flutter, breathless with the Intelligence. I flew hither to know whether you had heard it.

Lady F.

No—indeed—and I hope it is one of Mr. Flutter’s dreams— Enter Saville. Oh! we shall be informed. Mr. Saville, I rejoice to 302 U7v 302 see you; Sir George will be disappointed, he is gone to your Lodgings.

Sav.

I should have been happy to have prevented Sir George. I hope your Ladyship’s adventure last night did not disturb your dreams?

Lady F.

No Dreams were disturbed, for the thoughts of my escape, and of my obligations to you, prevented my sleeping a moment. But, we have just had shocking intelligence—Is it true that Doricourt is mad?

Sav.

(Aside. So! the business is done!)—I have just been a witness of his furious ravings!

Mrs. R.

Flutter told us the whole history. Some Italian Princess gave him a drug, in a box of sweetmeats sent to him by her own page; and it renders him Lunatic exactly one week every month. Poor Miss Hardy! I never felt so much on any occasion in my life.

Sav.

As a great Secret, I will inform you Madam that she is less to be pitied on account of this malady than you imagine—Doricourt did not love Miss Hardy.

Mrs. R.

He did love Miss Hardy, Sir, and would have been the happiest of men.

Sav.

Pardon me, Madam, his heart was not only free from that Lady’s chains, but absolutely captivated by another; but—if you know better than he does—

Mrs. R.

Why I do know better than he does, Sir;—it was Miss Hardy herself who captivated him at the Masquerade—she charmed him in disguise. He professed the most violent passion for her; and a plan was laid, this evening to cheat him into happiness—by marrying him to the unrecognized object of his Love.

Sav.

Ha!—ha! excellent!—most exhilarating News! Why then, though I have not eaten of the Italian Princess’s box of sweetmeats, sent by her own Page, I am quite as mad as Doricourt is! 303 U8r 303

Mrs. R.

So it appears.—What can all this mean?

Sav.

Why that he has never been out of his perfect senses; though he will lose them through Joy when I tell him what I have learnt. Why, the madness was only a Feint, to avoid marrying Miss Hardy, ha! ha!—I’ll carry the intelligence instantly. going.

Mrs. R.

In the name of Revenge—no!—revenge for what he has made us to suffer. Divulge not a Syllable! when he is summoned to Mr. Hardy, prevail upon him to come—Madness and all!

Lady F.

Pray do. Now I am in the Secret, I should like to see him shewing off!

Sav.

Why, ’tis inhuman to conceal his happiness. Yet, let me consider, his Joy will eventually be the greater;—besides, the Plot and Counterplot will hasten the Catastrophe—

Mrs. R.

The what!

Sav.

The—will hasten the Marriage! Bows.

Mrs. R.

Beware! I know with marriage you are out of humour now; to break your heart for which I may perhaps, some six years hence, have you myself.

Sav.

Well then, if ever I should be tired of Life —but, dont make love to me foolish Hussey; but set me down as you go, and tell me, by the way, your whole scheme against Doricourt. Leading her out.

Mrs. R.

You wont fail us? Exeunt Saville and Mrs. Rackett.

Lady F.

No. Depend on us.

Exit. Scene IV. 304 U8v 304

Scene IV.

An apartment at Doricourt’s. Doricourt seated, reading.

Dor.

flings away the book. What effect can the Advice of Fourscore have on a youthful mind agitated by Passion! Musing—Can it then be possible for such a soul as her’s to support itself in a situation so humiliating?—a kept Woman! rising. Enter Saville.

Sav.

What a happy dog you are, Doricourt! I might have been mad, have beggar’d, or pistol’d myself, without its being mentioned—But you forsooth! the whole female World is concerned for. I reported the state of your brain to five different women:—the lip of the first trembled; the white bosom of the second heaved a Sigh; the third blessed —herself; the fourth, whilst she pinned a curl, said —Well, now, perhaps, he’ll be a lively companion, his insipidity was intolerable;—and the fifth? why the eyes of the fifth dropped—upon her pocket glass.

Dor.

Envy! sheer Envy by the smiles of Hebe! There are not less than forty pair of the brightest eyes in Town will drop crystals when their owners hear of my supposed misfortune.

Sav.

Well, but I have News for you:—Poor Hardy is confined to his bed; they say he is going out of the World, and that he wants to settle whether you are to have his Daughter, before he goes.

Dor.

Ill?—so ill! I am really sorry for it. He is a worthy little fellow—if he had not the gift of foreseeing so confoundedly.

Sav.

Well, you must go and take leave. 305 X1r 305

Dor.

What! act the Lunatic in a dying man’s chamber.

Sav.

You will thus attain your object, for his last commands you may suppose will be, that you are not to marry his Daughter!

Dor.

Why that’s true, and tempts me—and yet— impose upon a poor fellow at so serious a moment—I cant do it.

Sav.

I am answerable for your appearance, though it should be in a strait waistcoat. I assure you he is acquainted with the state of your mind, and is the more anxious to see you!

Dor.

I dont like encountering Rackett;—she’s an arch little devil, and will discover the cheat.

Sav.

There’s a fellow!—Escaped ninety-nine women, and afraid of the hundredth.

Dor.

And with reason—that hundredth is a Widow!

Exeunt.

Scene V.

Hardy’s. Enter Mrs. Rackett and Miss Ogle.

Miss Ogle.

And so Miss Hardy is to be married immediately?

Mrs. R.

If Fate does not thwart her. You are apprised of the scheme.

Miss Ogle.

(Aside.—The Plague! she is six years younger than I am.) Mr. Doricourt is handsome.

Mrs. R.

Handsome, rich, and generous! There’s a husband—Isn’t he worth pulling caps for?

(Aside.In my conscience the widow speaks as though, after the loss of her cap, he might have her ear.) I wonder you did’nt try for this Wonder, Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs. R.

Really, Miss Ogle, I had not time. Besides,I. X 306 X1v 306 sides, when I marry, so many fellows will hang themselves that, to prevent so much mischief, I shall postpone it for a few years. (Aside. This will cost her a new lace—I heard it crack!) Enter Sir George and Lady Frances.

Sir Geo.

Well, here we are. But where is the Knight of the fierce countenance? Enter Flutter.

Flut.

Here he comes! Here he comes! I ran up as fast as I could as soon as I saw him alight from his Carriage!

Lady F.

Then Miss Hardy’s fate is at its Crisis. —She plays a hazardous game, and I tremble for her.

Sav.

Without Come, let me guide you; this way my poor friend! Why are you so furious?

Dor.

Without. The house of Death—to the house of Death— Enter Doricourt and Saville. Ah! ’tis the very spot!

Lady F.

How wild, and fiery, he looks!

Mrs. R.

Now, I think, he looks terrified at us.

Flut.

Poor creature!—how his eyes work!

Mrs. R.

I never saw a Madman before.—Let me examine him—will he bite?

Sav.

Pray, keep out of his reach Ladies—You dont know your danger. He’s like a Wild Cat if a sudden fancy seizes him.

Sir Geo.

You talk like a Keeper of wild-creatures. —How much do you demand for showing the Monster?

Dor.

(Apart.—I dont like this—I must arouse their Sensibility!) There! there she darts through the air in liquid flames!—Down again!—oh—oh! 307 X2r 307 —now I have her. Ah! she burns, she scorches! she eats into my very heart!

All.

Ha! ha! ha!

Mrs. R.

’Tis the apparition of the wicked Italian Princess!

Flut.

Keep her Highness fast, Doricourt.

Miss Ogle.

Give her a pinch, before you let her go.

Dor.

I am laughed at!

Mrs. R.

Laughed at—to be sure;—you cant escape. Why I could play the Madman better than you.—There! there she darts—Now I have her! —ha! ha! ha! (Aside. I must go and learn whether Mr. Hardy is ready.) Exit.

Dor.

I knew that Widow would discover me. I am overpowered by Confusion—I’ll leave the house! Going.

Sir Geo.

Stay Sir—You must not go. Doricourt! ’twas poorly done, to affect Madness rather than fulfil your engagements.

Dor.

Affect!—Saville, what can I do?

Sav.

Why—since you’re discovered—like other rogues—confess.

Miss Ogle.

Aye, plead guilty, and pray for Mercy.

Dor.

Well—I avow the Scheme! I cannot love Miss Hardy, and I never—

Sav.

Hold my dear Doricourt, be not rash! What will the World say to such—

Dor.

What care I for the World!—The World wont care for my loss of Peace! Must I, to please the world, sacrifice my Happiness?

Sir Geo.

Yes, every thing—rather than be branded with Dishonour.

Lady F.

Though our arguments should fail, there is a pleader whom you surely cannot resist—Mr. Hardy who you have heard is dying, supplicates you not to foresake his child!

All.

The dying Mr. Hardy! X2 308 X2v 308 Enter Mrs. Rackett.

Mrs R.

The dying Mr. Hardy requests you to grant him a moment’s interview Mr. Doricourt! Let me conduct you to his room.

Dor.

Oh, aye, any where, to the Antipodes —I care not what becomes of me! Ex. Doricourt, Mrs. Rackett, and Miss Ogle.

Sir Geo.

How Mortification proves itself a specific against Stubbornness!

Flut.

Ladies, Ladies, have the charity to take me with you, that I may make no blunder! Exit.

Lady F.

Sir George, you dont know Mr. Saville. Exit.

Sir Geo.

A thousand pardons—but I will not pardon myself for not observing you. I have been at your door twice to day.

Sav.

I am concerned that you had so much trouble Sir George.

Sir Geo.

Trouble! what a word from you who have preserved Lady Frances!—And yet—you have wrested from me my dearest privilege. Start not, Sir George, to protect Lady Frances was my Right.

Sav.

I hardly know how to answer such a reproach.

Sir Geo.

There is but one method by which my feelings can be satisfied—I cannot endure that my wife should be so indebted to any man who is less than my Brother.

Sav.

Explain yourself.

Sir Geo.

I have a Sister, Saville, who is amiable—I shall give her a commission to steal your Heart, out of revenge for what you have done.

Sav.

I am infinitely honoured, Sir George, but—

Sir Geo.

I will not listen to a Sentence which begins with so unpromising a word. You must go with us into Hampshire. I know no one to whose Heart I would so readily commit the care of my Sister’s happiness.

Sav.

I will attend you with pleasure, provided it 309 X3r 309 is not on your scheme of Retirement. Society has Claims on Lady Frances.

Sir Geo.

Claims Saville!

Sav.

Yes, Claims. Lady Frances was born to be the ornament of Courts. She is sufficiently alarmed, by the danger through which I fortunately watched her, not to wander in future beyond the reach of her natural protector. And, from the British Court, the most tenderly anxious Husband could not wish to banish his Wife. Let her keep in her eye the bright Example who presides there; the splendor of whose Rank yields to the superior lustre of her Virtue!

Sir Geo.

I am conquered by your argument.—But, here they come—all intelligence! Enter Mrs. Rackett, Lady Frances, Miss Ogle, and Flutter.

Mrs. R.

Oh! what a Scene! do you know—

Flut.

Let me tell the Story;—As soon as Doricourt

Mrs. R.

I protest you shan’t!—Said Mr. Hardy

Flut.

No—’twas Doricourt spoke first—Says he— No, ’twas the Parson—Says he—

Mrs. R.

Stop his mouth Sir George—he’ll spoil the story of course.

Sir Geo.

Never heed Circumstances—the Result —the Result.

Mrs. R.

No, no; you shall have it in Form.—Mr. Hardy performed the sick man like an Angel.—He sat up in bed, and talked so pathetically, that the tears stood in Doricourt’s eyes.

Flut.

Aye, stood—they did not drop, but stood— in future I shall be very exact. ’Twas a good moment, the Parson seized it—such opportunities you know they never miss.

Mrs. R.

Make haste! said Doricourt—if you leave me time to reflect, poor Hardy may die unhappy. 310 X3v 310

Flut.

When we slipt out of the room, they were proceeding with the Marriage surprisingly.

Sir Geo.

Then, by this time, they have reached Amazement, which every body knows is the end of the ceremony of Matrimony.

Mrs. R.

Aye, the framers of the Ceremony closed with that word, as a hint to the Bride of the Amazement which awaits her, on finding the Lover lost in the Husband—

Sir Geo.

Because she has perhaps, brisk Widow, remitted after Marriage some of those skilful attractions by which she enchanted before.

Lady F.

Here the Bridegroom comes! Enter Doricourt, with folded arms and melancholy air. Exit Saville.

All.

Joy! joy! joy!

Miss Ogle.

If he is a sample of Bridegrooms, keep me single!—A younger brother, from the funeral of his father, could not carry a more distressed countenance.

Flut.

Oh!—Now, I suppose, he’s melancholy mad.

Lady F.

You do not consider the Importance of the occasion!

Sir Geo.

Nor, how shocking it is for a man to be forced into marriage with one woman, whilst his heart is devoted to another.

Mrs. R.

Well Mr. Doricourt! now ’tis over, I confess ’twas a most ridiculous piece of Quixotism to give up the happiness of a whole life, to please a man who perhaps has but a few moments to be sensible of the sacrifice.

Flut.

So it appeared to me. But, thought I, Mr. Doricourt has studied man in different climates—he knows best.

Dor.

Desperation!—Did ye not all set upon me? Didn’t ye talk of Honour—Compassion—Justice? 311 X4r 311

Sir Geo.

Very true—and, as you have acted according to their dictates, I believe the utmost felicity of the Marriage State will reward you!

Dor.

Never, Sir George! To Felicity I bid adieu —but, I will endeavour to be content. Where is my —I must speak it, where is my—Wife? Enter Letitia, masked. Led by Saville.

Sav.

Mr. Doricourt, this Lady was pressing to be introduced to you.

Dor.

Ah!—starting.

Let.

I told you, last night, you should see me at a time when you least expected me—I keep my promise!

Sir Geo.

Whoever you are, Madam, you could not have arrived at a happier moment—Mr. Doricourt is just married.

Let.

Married! but a few hours since, he swore eternal love to me! I believed him, gave him a heart in which no other man had ever obtained an interest —and now—

Dor.

In which no other ever had an Interest! Lady, my fate yet wants that torture! Nothing but the conviction that such was not your state could have made me think one moment of my present marriage. This visit is as barbarous as unexpected —for it is now my Duty to forget you; which, spite of your degraded Situation, I shall find but too difficult!

Let.

My——what situation? (Aside. What can he mean!)

Dor.

I must apologize for such an explanation here—but, I am not ignorant—it is the only circumstance that can give me peace—that you are the Companion of Lord George Jennett.

Let.

Ridiculous pretence! No, Sir, know that my Name, my Heart, my Honour are unspotted—as her’s you have married; my Birth and Fortune equal 312 X4v 312 to your own.—I might have been your’s—But, Sir, farewell! Going.

Dor.

Oh! stay a moment—runs and seizes Flutter by the Collar. Rascal! is she not—

Flut.

Who, she? Oh dear no—’Twas quite a different person that I meant. I dont know that I ever before saw that Lady.

Dor.

And never shalt thou see her more. Shakes him most violently.

Mrs. R.

Have mercy upon the poor man—he’ll murder him!

Dor.

Murder him! Yes, you, myself, and all mankind. Sir GeorgeSavilleyou have thus thrust me on the precipice—you have driven me from Joy, Felicity, and Life.

Mrs. R.

There! Now how well he acts the Madman!—This is something like! I knew he would do it well enough, when the proper time came.

Dor.

Hard-hearted Woman! enjoy my Ruin—riot in my wretchedness— Hardy bursts in.

Har.

This is too much! How dare you, the husband of my Daughter, show all this passion for this Woman?

Dor.

Alive!

Har.

Alive? aye, and merry! Here, wipe off the flour from my face—never in better health, or in higher Spirits, in my life. Why, my illness was only a fetch—which I foresaw would make you marry my Letty.

Dor.

Cruel and ungenerous! Well Sir, you are gratified; the possession of my Heart was no object either with you or your daughter—my Fortune, and my Name, were all you desired, and these—I leave ye. My native England I shall quit, nor ever behold you more. But, Lady! that—in my exile—I 313 X5r 313 may have one consolation, grant me the favour you last night denied;—let me behold all that mask conceals, that your Image may be fully impressed upon my heart, and chear my distant solitary hours.

Let.

――This is the most awful moment of my Life! She turns aside in great Agitation.――Oh Doricourt! The slight act of taking off my Mask, makes me the most blest—or the most miserable of Women!

Dor.

What can this mean? Reveal your Face, I conjure you.

Let.

unmasks—Behold it!

Dor.

Rapture! Transport! Heaven!

Mrs R.

Now for a touch of the happy Madman! —This scheme was mine.

Let.

I will not allow that. This Strategem originated from my disappointment in not having made the impression on you I wished. The timidity of the english character threw over me a veil which you did not penetrate. You have forced me to emerge, in some degree, from my natural reserve, and throw aside the veil that hid me.

Dor.

My spirits are still in a delerium of pleasure —I cannot answer you.—Speak on sweet Angel!

Let.

You see I can be any thing; chuse then my character—your taste shall fix it. Shall I be an English wife?—or, breaking from the bonds of Nature and Education, step forth to the world in all the striking glare of foreign manners?

Dor.

Nothing can be captivating that you are not; you shall be nothing but—yourself. Your penetration discovered that you won not my Heart at the first interview; but, you now have my whole Soul— your person, your face, your Mind, I would not exchange for those of any other woman breathing.

Har.

The Rogue! how well he makes up for past slights!

Let.

Congratulate me, my dear friends, can you conceive my Happiness? 314 X5v 314

Flut.

No, congratulate me, that I have escaped with Life; and give me some sticking plaister—this wild-cat has torn the skin from my throat.

Sir Geo.

I expect to be amongst the first who are congratulated—for, whilst Doricourt has gained one Enchantress—I have preserved another.

Har.

I say I’ll be congratulated first, for I am the happiest! Cousin Rackett, I wish you a good Husband with all my heart. Mr. Flutter, I’ll believe every word you say—this fortnight. The long train of Felicity, which I foresee, inspires me――I never was so merry in all my life—Whu! I believe I can dance! footing.

Dor.

Charming, charming creature! It was a strange perversion of Taste that led me to consider delicate Timidity as proof of an uninformed Mind and inelegant Manners! I now feel that it is to that innate Modesty, English Husbands owe a felicity— the married men of other nations are strangers to. It is a protecting Veil to your charms; it is the surest bulwark of your husband’s honour—may the hour never arrive, in which British Ladies shall sacrifice to foreign Glare—the Grace of Modesty!

315 X6r 315

Epilogue.

Nay, cease, and hear me!—I am come to ask

Why pleased at conquest gain’d behind a Mask!

Is’t strange? Why, pray what Lady Bab, or Grace,

E’er won a Lover—in her natural face?

Mistake me not! french red and blanching creams

I stoop not to—for these are hackneyed themes;

The Arts I mean are harder to detect,

Easier put on, displayed to more effect.

Do Pride or Envy by their horrid lines

Destroy th’ effect of nature’s sweet designs?

The mask of Softness is at once applied,

And gentlest Manners decorate the Bride!

Does Heart in Love inspire the Vestal’s eye,

Or point the glance, or prompt the struggling sigh?

Not Dian’s brows more rigid frowns disclose,

And timid hues appear, where passion glows.

And you, my gentle sirs, wear Vizors too,

But I’ll unmask you, and expose to view

Your hidden features.—First I point at you!

That well-stuff’d waistcoat, and that ruddy cheek,

That ample forehead, and that skin so sleek,

Point out Goodnature and a generous Heart—

Tyrant! stand forth, and, conscious, own thy part,

Thy Wife, thy Children, tremble in thy eye,

And Peace is banished—when the father’s nigh!

316 X6v 316

Sure ’tis Enchantment! See, on every side

Your Masks fall off!—In Charity I hide

The monstrous features rushing to my view—

Fear not there, Grand-Papa—nor you—nor you,

For, should I show your features to each other,

Not one be known would by his Friend or Brother.

’Tis plain, in real life, from Youth to Age,

All wear their Masks. Here, only, on the Stage,

You see us as we are; here trust your eyes,

Our Wish to please cannot be mere Disguise!