THE LADY OF THE MANOR.

A COMIC OPERA.

[Price One Shilling and Six-pence.]

THE LADY OF THE MANOR, A COMIC OPERA: AS IT IS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL IN COVENT-GARDEN.

WRITTEN BY DR. KENRICK.

THE SONGS SET TO MUSIC BY MR. HOOK.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR E. AND C. DILLY IN THE POULTRY; J. WILKIE, IN ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD; T. DA­VIES, IN GREAT RUSSEL-STREET, COVENT-GARDEN, AND J. WALTER, CHARING-CROSS. MDCCLXXVIII.

PREFACE.

THE outline of the following Opera (written about ten years ago, by way of relaxation from severer studies) was taken from the Country Lasses of Mr. Charles Johnson, particularly the pleasing and romantic episode, borrowed from the Custom of the Country of Beaumont and Fletcher.

The author, in accommodating his plan to the present taste, was led, of course, to reject the revolting absurdity of supposing the custom in question still to subsist.

[Page]The considerable alterations and addi­tions, also, which he found it expedient to make, both in the plot and dialogue, have so much diversified the whole, that it has been as truly as ill-naturedly ob­served, ‘the piece resembles a coat, stolen a second time from a thief, so metamorphosed, that the very tay­lor, who first cut it out, would not know the handy-work of his own shears.’

It is no wonder that, in this age of originality, so many truly-original cri­tics, who never play at rob-thief them­selves, should sufficiently rally him on so artful and complete a transformation, He cannot help thinking, however, that these very honest gentlemen are a little unreasonable in expecting him to do such great things merely for his amusement, as are done by those who make play­writing their serious occupation.

[Page]If, therefore, this opera hath hitherto met with an approbation * as general as even the best of their most elabo­rate productions; the author cannot but impute it to the excellent acting of the theatrical performers, and the elegant taste of the musical composer.

THE PERSONS OF THE DRAMA.

MEN.
  • Sir Wilful Wildman, MR. QUICK.
  • Young Wildman, his Nephew, MR. VERNON.
  • Sir John Manly, MR. MATTOCKS.
  • Farmer Sternold, MR. WILSON.
  • Clodden, MR. DOYLE.
WOMEN.
  • Lady Lucy, otherwise Flora, MRS. MATTOCKS.
  • Mrs. Townly, otherwise Laura, MISS BROWN.
  • Cicely the Dairy Maid, MRS. FARREL.

THE LADY OF THE MANOR.

ACT I.

SCENE a fertile Country. A Gentleman's Seat at the top of a Hill, and a Farm-house in the Center of the Scene, at the Bottom.
The Scene rises, and discovers Lady Lucy and Mrs. Town­ly, dressed, like Country Lasses, accompanied by Sheep-shearers, Men and Maidens, dancing and singing in Chorus.
HAPPY Britons! while we shear
Our silver fleeces once a year,
As rich, tho' not so rare,
If that of old
A fleece of gold,
We neither know nor care.
Mrs. Town.

Stop, stop, my dear cousin Flora, stop. I am quite weary, and can hoyden it no longer.

Lady Lucy.

Come, rest a while on this bank, then; mean time, our good neighbour Clodden, here, will give us the new sheep-shearing ballad again.

Clodden.

That I will, fair damsel, and as often as you desire it, so my lungs hold good, and the lads and lasses will join in the chorus.

Lady Lucy.

Strike up then.

CLODDEN.
[Page 2]
A wond'rous tale, my friends, we're told,
How, from some foreign shore,
To Grecce of old,
A fleece of gold,
Advent'rous Jason bore.
Yet murmur not, my honest swains,
Your native flocks to keep;
Not less our gains,
Whose peaceful plains
Are silver'd o'er with sheep.
More richly doth our pains requite
The harvest of the fold,
Whose fleeces white
Are chang'd at sight,
By commerce into gold.

CHORUS repeated. Happy Britons, &c.

Exeunt Sheep-shearers, singing and dancing.
Lady Lucy.

So, you are heartily tired of your fro­lick, I see—

Mrs. Town.

Indeed I am, my dear.

They come forward.
Lady Lucy.

And was this fatiguing amusement all the pleasure you promised yourself from this wild pro­ject, of our leaving the manor-house, and passing, in this disguise, under the names of Flora and Laura, for re­lations of farmer Sternold? I hope you do not intend to romp about with these good folks again to-morrow.

Mrs. Town.

No, child, I was only willing to have another taste of your rural diversions before I left the country. And I promise you, I am fully satisfied of [Page 3] their rusticity. I wish I could prevail on you to ac­company me to London.

Lady Lucy.

What to do there?

Mrs. Town.

To see and converse with human crea­tures, my dear; for I cannot look upon the things, that have just parted from us, in any other light than as a kind of intermediate beings between men and brutes; they are certainly of an inferior nature to people who live in London.

Lady Lucy.

And yet, in the metropolis every thing is false, frivolous and artificial; while here all things appear in the plain and unaffected dress of nature.

LADY LUCY.
Simplicity, daughter of Truth,
In Modesty's vesture array'd,
Here breathes the fond hope of the youth,
And whispers the wish of the maid.
There, Artifice, son of Deceit,
In impudent foppery dress'd,
With Innocence playing the cheat,
Still makes of true passion a jest.
Mrs. Town.

And yet, my dear Lucy, people, bred in society, are as preferable to these clowns as angels are to mere mortals.—How long do you think to live in this wilderness, before you get a husband, as I did, by accident?

Lady Lucy.

I should hope never; were I so soon to lose him again as you did, by accident.

Mrs. Town.

Why not, my dear, if, like mine, he were as well lost as found? The man dropped from the clouds, to please my papa; and, taking pet at the world, returned back again—to please me.

Lady Lucy.
[Page 4]

They say, indeed, that marriages are made in heaven.

Mrs. Town.

Yes; but they say too, they are strange­ly broke in coming down.

Lady Lucy.

In London, perhaps, where the multi­plicity of objects puzzles the choice. But, out of the few that drop here in the country, we may soon re­solve to catch one; and be assured, my dear Townly, that when the right man comes, I shall not let him slip through my fingers.

Mrs. Townly.

Nay, there's not much choice in the whole sex. A man's but a man, make the most of him. Mine, they say, was one of the best of them, and you see I survived his loss.

Lady Lucy.

You are too young and giddy, to take any thing to heart.

Mrs. Town.

True, cousin, I wore the willow only with my weeds, and that not a weeping willow neither.

Lady Lucy.

You are a wild rake, Townly.

Mrs. Town.

We widows have a privilege, child—But women are all rakes at heart; so, at least the poet says: nay, I'll answer for it, that with all your sim­plicity, you have your female rakes in the country, as well as we in town.

MRS. TOWNLY.
Delightful is a rural life,
Where peace and plenty reign;
Where faithful every man and wife,
And true each nymph and swain.
The plain of plains, the rural plain,
Where such pure raptures flow:
But may I ne'er see town again,
If such a plain I know.
Believe me, false the country clown
As any London beau;
The rustic lass, like Miss in town,
Can favours too bestow.
The town of towns, dear London town,
Thy pleasures, then, be mine!
Deceit may dress in linen gown,
And Truth in diamonds shine.
Mrs. Town.

To be serious, my dear Lady Lucy, I cannot conceive how any woman, who has youth, beau­ty, and fortune at command, as you have, can take de­light in wandering, like a wild thing, about the woods, in gloomy groves and dismal shades; when she might display her charms to so much greater advantage in the glittering circle of the Pantheon, or the brilliant vistas of Vauxhall.

Lady Lucy.

And I can as little conceive how any woman, of sense or taste, can be taken with the artifi­cial amusements of the town, when she might enjoy the pleasure of breathing the fresh air, and contem­plating the beauties of nature, in the country.

Mrs. Townly.

And you do really prefer the pitiful employment of dangling after a flock of simple sheep, to the superlative delight of having a flock of simple admirers dangling after you!—As I live, here they are!

Lady Lucy.

Who? What?

Mrs. Town.

Men, men, my dear, social beings!—See, they are coming over the stile! My heart flutters at the sight of them; does not yours?

Lady Lucy.

Strangers, and well dressed!

Mrs. Town.

Two of our London beaus: Sir John Manly and young Wildman.

Lady Lucy.

My cousin Wildman!

Mrs. Town.
[Page 6]

The same, my dear. You don't know much of him, it seems.

Lady Lucy.

My uncle has ever kept him at such a distance, that I have not seen him since he was a school­boy: nor do I believe Sir Wilful himself would know his nephew, any more than I. He has not suffered the young spark to come into his presence, since his return from his travels.

Mrs. Town.

What can have brought them hither? Let us retire behind this thicket; perhaps we may learn their errand.

They retire behind a thicket.
Enter Sir John Manly and Young Wildman.
Manly.
[Speaking to his Servants without.]

Well, get the carriage round to the farm-house, yonder in the bottom. We'll walk across the fields, and meet you.

[To Wild.]

What an unlucky accident! We are not, it seems, above a mile or two from the manor-house.

Wild.

It will be impossible, however, to get our da­mage repaired time enough to reach it to-night. But no matter, the news of our disaster will get there be­fore us, and, my word for it, when the good Baronet, my uncle, comes to be informed that the coach of a man of fashion hath broken down, in crossing the country to pay him a visit, he'll give us an opportuni-of profiting by our misfortune.

Manly.

Be it so then: I am ever for making a vir­tue of necessity. In the mean time, George, you will have the pleasure of spending the night with your dear­ly beloved mistress, Variety: you shall sleep, for once, on a truss of clean straw, in a farmer's barn.

Wild.

Well, any thing for a change in life. I am satisfied, so we tread not continually the same track of insipid pleasures as in London, where our amusements, [Page 7] like the company at Ranelagh, move round and round for ever in a circle.

WILDMAN.
The dog in a wheel, and the horse in a mill,
The squirrel with bells on his cage,
Thus run the same round of mere drudgery still,
So dull is the taste of the age!
Manly.

Truce with your common-place raillery. Variety, indeed, is the pleasure of life, but not the comfort of it. I'll hold you a wager, you'll not sleep so soundly in a barn, as you would at a bagnio.

Wild.

Not the first night, perhaps; but custom would inure me to it.

Manly.

Right—Habit only makes things easy and familiar. This removes every inconvenience, and makes us look even on danger and distress with indiffe­rence.

MANLY.
Luxurious lords, on beds of down,
Thus Care wide-waking keeps;
While, laid on straw, the labouring clown
All night profoundly sleeps.
Nay, blythe, the sea-boy reefs the sail,
While howling tempests blow,
And laughs to scorn, amidst the gale,
His wat'ry grave below.
Wild.

This is pretty moralizing, Manly. But, come, now we are so near our journey's end, let us rightly understand each other.

Manly.

By all means.

Wild.

You agree, then, that if, in consequence of this visit to my whimsical uncle, you should approve of his niece, get into her good graces, and marry her, [Page 8] you will advance me a moiety of that lady's portion, to be repaid on the death of Sir Wilful, should he die intestate; and, in case of a will, partial either to ne­phew or niece, that we share his fortune equally be­tween us.

Manly.

Exactly.

Wildman.

On the other hand, if you should dislike, or decline to pay your addresses to the lady—

Manly.

Never fear, George: as I have determined to take up and look out for a wife, she will be certain­ly my choice. I was struck when I had a sight of her once, at Litchfield races, and have heard such encomi­ums on her wit, beauty and understanding, since, that I am half in love with her already: so let us get what accommodation we can to-night, and to-morrow pro­ceed to business.

Exeunt.
Re-enter Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly, from behind the thicket.
Lady Lucy.

So, so, these are your people bred in so­ciety; these are your mortal angels!

Mrs. Town.

Well, really, they are pretty fellows.

Lady Lucy.

Yes, and prettily have they taken upon them to dispose of this proper person of mine, without once asking leave of the right owner.

Mrs. Townly.

Nay, child, there's nothing in that. People must have some way of coming together: and if your cousin helps you to a good husband, I think you are greatly obliged to him.

Lady Lucy.

And I am greatly obliged to him, for helping himself to half my fortune too, am I?

Mrs. Town.

That, indeed, is a piece of imperti­nence.

Lady Lucy.

For which, if I don't make them do such penance—But, hold; they return this way.

Mrs. Town.
[Page 9]

Surely they won't know me in this dis­guise. I wish I had a mask.

Lady Lucy.

A mask! that would be a strange sight, indeed in the country. No, no, only act up to your dress and character! You made so different an ap­pearance in London, they will never recollect your fea­tures.

LADY LUCY.
Fine ladies with fair-painted faces in town,
One mask with another may hide;
Tho' less would be known some complexions, so brown,
If laid both the vizors aside.
But, dowdy-like dress'd and bedizen'd, your part
In aukward simplicity lies,
The woman-of-fashion's's a creature of art,
And nature her surest disguise.
Mrs. Town.

Enough! My hands are set, my eyes fixed; I have a blush at command. I'll bite the fin­gers of my cotton gloves, and be as very a hoyden as ever hopped round a may-pole.

Re-enter Sir John Manly and Wildman.
Manly.

Well met, pretty maidens.—They're de­vilish handsome.

Wild.

Fine girls, faith!—Can you tell us, fair damsel,

[Addressing himself to Mrs. Townly.]

where two honest fellows can get a lodging tonight. We have had the misfortune to—

Mrs. Town.

Fortune! Sir, we don't tell fortunes, indeed.

Affecting great aukwardness in speech and manner.
Lady Lucy.

No, gentlemen, if you are fortune-hun­ters, you will find some of the sisterhood behind those elms. We are no gypsies.

Manly.
[Page 10]

Gypsies, my dear! I protest I am astonished to see so much beauty and elegance. Your habits are rustic, but they are perfectly genteel; and by your air and mien, you should be fine ladies from St. James's.

Mrs. Town.
[very aukwardly.]

Yes, we have quite the St. James's air, indeed.

Wild.

Thou hast something better, my little dear. Those pretty pouting lips, those sparkling eyes, this yielding hand—

Laying hold of her hand.
Mrs. Town.

Nay, pray, Sir, be civil.—Come, cou­sin.

Wild.

You would not, sure, leave us in a strange place, child.

Mrs. Town.

Laud, Sir, we have nothing to do with you. As a couple of strays, indeed, we might drive you to the head-borough.

Wild.

And what then?

Mrs. Town.

Why, then he would lodge you to­night in the pound; have you cried the three next market-days; and then, if nobody owned you—you would fall to the lady of the manor.

Wild.

The lady of the manor!

Mrs. Town.

Yes, Sir, for want of a lord.—May neither of you have worse luck, —come, cousin.

Lady Lucy.
[Coming forward with Man.]

Ay, come let us go.

To Manly.

Pray, Sir, let go my hand.

Manly.

Yes, child, if you'll let go my heart, otherwise, my dear, I shall not let you escape. Do you know the penalty of robbing a man thus, on the highway?

Lady Lucy.

If you have lost any thing, Sir, you know your remedy. It is as yet between sun and sun, you may sue the county.

Manly.
[Page 11]

No, child, I shall detain the robber and bring her to justice.

Lady Lucy.

Indeed, Sir, you won't, for I shall in­stantly go home:

Manly.

Where do you live, then?

Lady Lucy.

At yonder farm-house.

Manly.

And who is the owner of it?

Lady Lucy.

One Sternold, a surly old farmer, who, when he's pleased, vouchsafes to call me daughter.

Wild.
[To Mrs. Townly.]

And do you live there too, my dear?

Mrs. Townly.

Yes, Sir, we live here two country cousins, fretting like silk and inkle, wove together in a piece.

Wild.

How so?

Mrs. Townly.

Oh, Sir. She's quite a rustic, and has none of the town polish, one gets, by going, as I do, to market.

Curtsying with aukward affectation.
Wild.
[Aside.]

Arch and silly! A whimsical com­pound!

Takes her Aside.
Manly.
[To Lady Lucy.]

And is your father, really, a farmer?

Lady Lucy.

A gentleman farmer, Sir; one that having when young squandered away his estate in Lon­don, took an aversion to the town, and has been con­stantly railing against it ever since.

Manly.

Is he so morose a cynic, think you, as to refuse us entertainment for a single night?

Lady Lucy.

Indeed I believe he is.

Manly.

Surely not, if you intercede in our favour.

Lady Lucy.

Perhaps not; but I am not satisfied of the propriety of that; I will however propose it to my father, and if he approves of it, you will be welcome. Come, cousin.

Exeunt Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly.
Man.

What a pair of pretty rustics!

Wild.

I never saw any thing more charming.

Manly.
[Page 12]

My girl is the most angelic creature.

Wild.

Mine the most mortal-killing beauty.

Manly.

Mine the prettiest, wittiest—

Wild.

Mine the neatest, sweetest—a little silly or so! But, no matter, the more simple the more kind.

WILDMAN.
Give me the girl that's ripe for joy,
Who, not so wise as to be coy,
Is amorous, void of art.
MANLY.
Give me the lovely girl, who knows,
To prize the blessings, she bestows;
Whose head informs her heart.
WILDMAN.
Be thine, then, the joy wit and sense may inspire,
And mine the fond raptures that flow from desire.
MANLY.
Though mine be the joy wit and sense may inspire,
Be mine too the raptures that flow from desire.
Exeunt.
SCENE. A Farm-Yard.
Enter Sternold.

Sternold. I wish these young ladies were returned. It grows late, and should any accident happen to them, they might pay dear for their frolick—Ha! they have been talking to two young sparks, I see: there's something more in the wind, than I suspected.

Enter Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly.
Lady Lucy.

Oh, farmer Sternold! We have a fa­vour, to beg of you. Can't you furnish lodgings for those two gentlemen yonder?

Stern.

Why, ladies, if you will not let me into your [Page 13] whole project, I may commit some blunder. You know how apt I am to be rude to strangers.

Lady Lucy.

Well, well, you must treat them as such, notwithstanding — for tho' we know them, they don't know us: but take us for what we seem. Oblige us, in giving them entertainment to-night and behave to them otherwise as you will. They are within hearing, so appear to them in character.

Stern.
[Aside.]

Then I have my cue.

[Aloud.]

Ay, some Covent-Garden gentry, I suppose; that, hav­ing been fleeced at the bagnio and card-table, are come to recruit their finances on the highway. But here they can only rob the hen-roost. What a plague sent them hither?

Lady Lucy.

Bless us, Sir, how you talk! The gentlemen will hear you.

Stern.

Hear me! Why, I would have them hear me. Where are they?

Lady Lucy.

By yonder hedge-row, Sir—they have been waiting a good while.

Stern.

Let them wait, with a murrain.

Lady Lucy.

You will please, Sir, to say yes or no.

Stern.

No, then, no! Burn my house and barns; let the distemper seize my cows, the rot my sheep, the mildew my corn, and the blight my fruit; but let no London plagues come within my doors. What has bewitch'd you to ask such a question!

Lady Lucy.

They desired it of us, in common hu­manity.

Mrs. Townly.

And 'twere a pity the poor gentle­men should lie all night in the fields.

Stern.

Gentlemen! —Why, ye simpletons, they are the bane and destruction of your sex; worse enemies to beauty than old age or the small-pox—Gentle, indeed!

STERNOLD.
[Page 14]
Not Satan, when a wily snake,
He tempted grandame Eve,
More subtle than the modern rake
Her daughters to deceive.
Like her, each curious female, still,
The fruit forbidden eyes,
And longs to taste both good and ill;
For women will be wise.
Like him, pursu'd the precious plan,
The devil himself had laid,
Doth cruel, cunning, gentle man
Seduce the silly maid.
Lady Lucy.

But under your protection, Sir—

Stern.

True daughters of the first woman! Well to oblige you, I'll talk to them. Tell them they may come this way.

Lady Lucy.

We will, Sir.

Mrs. Townly.

See, Sir, they are almost here, and look like sober, honest gentlemen: not as if they come from London!

Ex. Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly.
Stern.

Now, to me, they look like a deputation from the cuckold-makers of the corporation, in common­hall assembled.

Enter Sir John Manly and Young Wildman.
Manly.

We are extremely sorry, Sir—

Wild.

To give you this trouble—

Manly.

But, having lost our way—

Wild.

And our carriage breaking down—

Stern.

Extremely sorry! Yes, you look very sorrow­ful, indeed. Lost your way! —Now I rather think you [Page 15] are two sorry fellows that are never out of your way— A pretty excuse this, you have trumped up for an un­seasonable visit.

Manly.

Sir, in a few plain words—

Stern.

Come, come, I'll tell you, in a few plain words, what honourable design you are bent upon. You clubbed your shallow wits together; your car­riage was to break down; you were to be benightod; and taking the advantage of my humanity for entrance into my house, you were honestly to embrace that opportunity of ruining my family. Was it not so? Ask your consciences now, ha!

Manly.

Our consciences, Sir!

Stern.

Our-consciences, Sir! Yes, your con­sciences, Sir. What are you posed? Have you no consciences? Egad, like enough. Pray whence come you?

Manly.

From London.

Stern.

From London! I thought so: the mart of iniquity; the devil's chief residence. He picks up a vagabond sinner now and then with us in the country; but he monopolizes with you in London.

Wild.

You are very severe upon the town, Sir.

Stern.

Yes, Sir. I know both ends of it.

Wild.

Which are both greatly changed of late we assure you.

WILDMAN.
When you were a youngster, 'tis known,
The town was as wicked as witty;
The laugh was at court all their own;
The old standing jest, still, the city.
But now, Sir, believe me, 'tis true,
Of both ends the practices tally;
A lord thus stock-jobs, like a jew,
And baits bulls and bears in the Alley.
In morals and manners the same,
In morals and manners the same,
For money or love when the trade is,
The peer plays the citizen's game,
And the peeress the gay city-lady's.
Stern.

Yes, yes, I hear London is mightily changed, indeed; and if it were grown as much better as it is bigger, something might be said for it. But the head is too big for the body, and the whole nation has got the rickets.

Manly.

I find, Sir, you are an universal satirist. But, come, to the purpose, I see our servants and horses are coming round. Is there no security you will take for a single night?

Stern.

There is; but it lies in my own hands, gen­tlemen, and if you dare abide by honest conditions—

Manly.

We wish no other, Sir. They who intend no wrong fear none.

Stern.

There lies your way, then, gentlemen. Enter and welcome.

Exeunt.
Re-enter Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly.
Lady Lucy.

He has taken them both in.

Mrs. Townly.

As I live, so he has. Now, Lady Lucy, if the right man should be dropped from the clouds; you will be as good as your word, and not let let him slip through your fingers.

Lady Lucy.

I protest my heart beats strangely.

Mrs. Townly.

Yes, child, it beats to arms, the town's besieged and the guard is called upon duty.

MRS. TOWNLY.
The heart of a woman's the fort,
Where quickly the garrison muster,
And all her proud spirits resort,
When man puts her into a fluster.
Yet, courage, my girl, never fear;
Discretion's an able defender,
That, be the foe ever so near,
Will make proper terms of surrender.

But here returns your gallant, to look for us, I'll leave you together.

Lady Lucy.

Nay, but—

Laying hold of her.
Enter Sir John Manly.
Manly.

I am come, gentle maidens—

Mrs. Townly.

Yes, Sir, we see you are. Good b'ye, cousin.

[Breaks from her and runs out.]
Manly.
Stopping Lady Lucy, who is following her.

Indeed, my pretty maid, I must not lose this oppor­tunity of talking a little seriously to you.

Lady Lucy.

Bless me, Sir. What can you have seriously to say to me?

Manly.

Say, child! Mere saying is too cold. Let me swear to thee.

Lady Lucy.

Well, Sir; and what would you swear to me?

Manly.

That I love you, passionately, fondly love you.

Lady Lucy.

That you love me! Eh! And pray, Sir, how long may you have thus passionately, fondly, lov'd me!

Manly.

From the first moment I beheld you.

Lady Lucy.

About half an hour, or so!

Manly.

Yes, my eyes caught instantly the infec­tion, my head grew confus'd, my heart inflamed, my—

Lady Lucy.

Poor gentleman! troubled with the amorous epilepsy! Is it usual for you to fall in love, thus at first sight! Or is this the first fit of the kind!

Manly.

The first and last, be assured. The flame which now glows in my breast will burn for ever.

Lady Lucy.
[Page 18]

Not it, Sir. Be comforted. It was kindled too suddenly, and burns too violently, to last long.

LADY LUCY.
Love, by reason uncontroul'd,
Never long the same can hold,
'Tis a fever of the mind;
Of the intermittent kind;
Hot and cold,
Like an ague, hot and cold.
Now the wretch with fury burns,
Now his freezing fit returns;
Fickle as the breath he draws,
Now he chills, and now he thaws.
Hot and cold!
Love's an ague, hot and cold.
Manly.

This, child, is mere poetry. And poets, you know, will say any thing.

Lady Lucy.

Come then, Sir, to converse without a metaphor.

Manly.

With all my heart. Then I declare, I think you a charming creature, and never saw a wo­man I liked so well it my life.

Lady Lucy.

At the same time you, think yourself sufficiently agreeable, I suppose.

Manly.

Why, don't you?

Lady Lucy.

To be sure, you are not absolutely frightful.

Manly.

Nay, but you like me.

Lady Lucy.

Don't be too confident of that. You may flatter yourself, as you do me.

Manly.

Flattery, my dear, is the language of love. It is impossible to say what we mean, when our mean­ing is beyond the power of words.

Lady Lucy.
[Page 19]

'Tis time then to have done, Sir, if you cannot speak to be understood.

Manly.

Or if you won't understand me. To speak plainly then, in what part of this rural habita­tion is your bed-chamber?

Lady Lucy.

That's pretty plain, indeed.

Manly.

Do you sleep alone, child.

Lady Lucy.

No, Sir, with my cousin Laura. But why are you so inquisitive? My father sleeps not far off.

Manly.

No matter.

MANLY.
In the gentle Laura's stead,
Take me, fair one, to your bed;
To your arms I'll softly creep,
When your father's fast asleep.
Tell me, charmer, which the way,
Lest I, in the dark, should stray.
Lady Lucy.

So then, it seems, you really assure yourself that, having sighed, kissed my hand, said a few foolish fine things and impudently stared me in the face, I shall drop into your arms, as they say birds do into the mouth of the rattle-snake, by fasci­nation.

Manly.

Nay, my love, this is all raillery. Come, you shall live with me and command my fortune. I'll take you from this surly old man, and place you in your proper sphere. Make me but happy to night.

Warmly.
Laying hold of her hand, which she coldly withdraws.
Lady Lucy.

And you will leave me miserable to­morrow. I thank you for the mighty favours you would confer. But what would the world say?

Manly.
[Page 20]

The world! Child. I will set you above it. My whole estate, shall be devoted to your plea­sure, and my influence exerted to protect you from insult.

Lady Lucy.

No, Sir. Tho' you could place me beyond the reach of censure, you could not raise me above the sense of shame. You might protect me from the insult of reproach, but could not shield me from the pangs of remorse. I scorn your protection.

Going.
Manly.
[Laying hold of her hand.]

Nay, but stay.

LADY LUCY.
Such cruel protectors ye men,
Who seek simple maids to decoy,
As butchers, who guard in the pen
The lambs, they prefer to destroy.
MANLY.
Nay, men to fond shepherds compare,
Who watch o'er the hopes of the fold;
The favourite lamb of whose care,
To slaughter is not to be sold.
LADY LUCY.
Adieu, mean seducer, adieu!
I fly from the falsehood of art.
MANLY.
In vain; for I still will pursue
The charmer possessing my heart.
Exeunt.
END OF THE FIRST ACT.

ACT II.
The curtain rises, and discovers Sir John Manly, Young Wildman, Sternold, Lady Lucy, Mrs. Townly, and others sitting at a table.

Stern.

Ay, a song! But, let it be something, in which we may all bear a part.

Manly.

And let the burthen be rural hospitality.

Song for several voices.
With friendly smile, and social glee,
Lo! Rural-hospitality,
With hearty welcome to the best,
Of ev'ry Stranger makes a guest.
In plenty spreads her chearful board,
With what kind Nature's gifts afford;
So lib'ral, generous, frank and free
Is Rural-hospitality!
In heaven no sooner heard her name,
Than Jove to earth a rambler came;
Philemon 's guest, as well as we;
Hail, Rural-hospitality!
They all rise. Lady Lucy, Mrs. Townly, and the rest, go out.
Sir John Manly, Wildman and Sternold, come forward.
Stern.

Ay, only lay aside your town manners, gen­tlemen; and we shall agree well enough.

Manly.

But what hath set you, farmer, so much against London?

Stern.
[Page 22]

The insolence and impertinence of its inha­bitants. —Prodigal as I was, I could not bear to be flee­ced by a set of money-making sharpers, who differed from coiners, clippers, and cut-purses only, in being greater criminals with greater security. —I could not endure the haughtiness of scoundrel upstarts; who, by taking advantage of the weakness, or administring to the wickedness of mankind, were enabled to assume the appearance of gentlemen, and lolled at ease in the carriages, which honester men were forced to drive.

Manly.

Yet thus will it ever be, Sir; while men are men, and live in a state of society.

Stern.

No Sir, it is because men are not men, that such pitiful doings disgrace society.—It is because so many mean animals are ever ready to bend the knee and crawl on four legs that a few others stand so erect and strut about so insolently on two. But I! —

STERNOLD.
I never could bear, in the train
Of sycophants servile, to wait;
Or, meanly dependent, in vain
To dance at the heels of the great.
The spaniel, indeed, that will creep,
And kiss, while they beat him, their hand,
In time, on a wool-sack may leap,
And sit with the lords of the land.
But he that by merit would rise.
Will find, to his cost, when too late,
That meanness, not merit, they prize;
So low and so little the great!
Manly.

I hope, farmer, your sentiments have not infected your neighbourhood. —If they have, we are [Page 23] likely to meet with but an indifferent reception, from the old gentleman there on the top of the hill, whom we purposed to visit.

Stern.

Sir Wilful Wildman! Oh! no. He is still fond of your men in power and place, your people of rank and quality, forsooth.

Manly.

I thought him a worthy character, Sir.

Stern.

He is so. Sir Wilful has many more good qualities than the fops he so foolishly admires. —

Manly.

He has a niece, I think, the toast of the country!

Stern.

She is, Sir, and very deservedly; but you'll hardly have an opportunity of seeing her, unless you make some stay in these parts: she is at present gone a visiting somewhere, with a rantipole young widow of quality, that came down from London about a month ago. And when they will return to the manor, it seems, nobody knows but themselves; and perhaps they neither.

Manly.

That's unlucky.

Stern.

Yes, Sir, she would have been worth your seeing: she has twenty thousand pound in her pocket and will in all probability succeed to the whole estate of Sir Wilful.

Wild

Has the baronet no other relations, then? I thought he had a nephew.

Stern.

Yes, he has a nephew, and a sad rakehelly young dog, they say, he is. Sir Wilful never sees him, and will most likely cut him off with a shilling. At least I would advise him to it.

Wild.
[Aside.]

I'm much obliged to you for that, however.

Stern.

He has been sent abroad truly for improvement, and improved, it seems, he is returned.

Manly.

In virtù, I suppose, eh!

Stern.

Ay, if by virtù you mean all manner of vice. The devil, I think, possesses the fathers and guardians [Page 24] of this age to send over their sons and wards to the continent. Luxury is a plant that thrives pretty well in the cold climate of our own island: there is no need of transplanting it into the hot-beds of France and Italy. But, come, gentlemen, walk into the other room. I'll just step out and see your servants and cat­tle provided for, and return immediately. I see the girls are coming again this way; they will entertain you in the mean while.

Exit.
Lady Lucy, and Mrs. Townly, crossing the stage and curtsying as they pass.
Manly.
[To Lady Lucy.]

Whither away, my little charmer?

[Follows Lady Lucy out.]
Wild.
[To Mrs. Town.]

No, no, child, you don't get off so easily.

Runs after Mrs. Townly and brings her back.
Mrs. Town.
[Affecting a silly aukwardness as in a for­mer Scene.]

Laud, Sir, what would you have! You men are the strangest creatures.—

Wild.

And, you, women, are the most provoking things! Whither were you going?

Offers to kiss her, she breaks from him.
Mrs. Town.

I sha'nt tell you indeed and so don't — follow me.

Exit.
Wild.

That I will; for if that be not a challenge I'll never accept one. —

Exit.
Re-enter Sir John Manly, and Lady Lucy.
Lady Lucy.

Nay, Sir: No more of this, I beseech you. —I have told you, my heart is not to be purcha­sed. —

Manly.

Not with mine, my dear? Come we'll make an exchange. I'll give you heart for heart. —

Lady Lucy.

That was indeed the whole way, they say. —Before money was in fashion, they used to barter in kind. —

Manly.
[Page 25]

Let us then revive that honest custom of the age of love and innocence.

Lady Lucy.

But, have you a clear title to what you would dispose of? Is not that heart of yours sold or mortgaged already?

Manly.

I was free as air till I beheld those eyes.

Lady Lucy.

And would yet so soon exchange your freedom for servitude.

Manly.

If I might be your servant.

Lady Lucy.

I am afraid you'll prove a worthless one.

Manly.

Try me, and if you like me not, discharge me.

Lady Lucy.

That may be dangerous; but come, in­stead of taking you for a servant, suppose I should like you well enough to make you master. —Would you marry me?

Manly.

Marry you! Why, that is—as—to be sure—but,—

Lady Lucy.

Ha! ha! ha! Confounded as I live! The man so very humble as to offer me his service, is too haughty to accept of mine.

Manly.

Not that, child.—Not at all.—Oh, no! But why need we marry? Why should you give me the command who am so ready to obey?

Lady Lucy.

It is enough, Sir. I am fully satisfied of the baseness of your designs.—Take back the vain offer of your heart, and know that I scorn as much to yield to your dishonest passion as you do to submit to honourable love.

Going.
Manly.
[Detaining her.]

Nay, but stay.—You must stay.—Let me reflect a little.

Lady Lucy.

Do, Sir. Think how ungrateful, how injurious your solicitations. You call yourself a gen­tleman, and pretend to be ruled by the laws of truth and honour; and yet you would betray the confidence repo­sed in your veracity; you would defraud your honest host of his greatest treasure, the innocence of his [Page 26] daughter; you would, inhospitably murder my poor father; the man whose house you entered under a solemn engagement, that would to common robbers, under the like circumstances, be sacred and inviola­ble.

Manly.

Thou hast touched my soul. A conscious pang shoots through my heart and covers me with shame.

Lady Lucy.

I know the disparity of our fortunes.—I know you fear your family and name should suffer in the opinion of the world; but believe me, Sir, they suffer more in fact, when you attempt to seduce an ho­nest mind from virtue.

Manly.

I own it.—Can you forgive me? Your just reproof hath overcome my scruples. I will marry thee.

Lady Lucy.

Nay but think seriously. Can you love me for life? A poor girl without a penny of portion. Take time to consider of it.

LADY LUCY.
Think what your companions so gay,
And family friends in high-life,
With insolent scoffing will say,
If made humble Flora your wife.
Though virtue, in simple attire,
May pleasing appear in the clown,
Great folks in the country admire
The merit, they spurn at, in town.
Manly.

I have thought of it; and would marry you, were it practicable, immediately. No family can en­sure, no education improve, such manners. I must not, cannot, will not, live without you. My whole soul is fixed, my wishes all center in you. Can you deny me? Give me your hand. Let me be yours for ever. My [Page 27] whole estate shall go to purchase your consent, and that shall be your wedding portion.

Lady Lucy.

Well, Sir, on that condition and with my father's consent you may possibly obtain mine.

Manly.

I'll seek him and obtain his instantly. But shall I then be sure of yours!

Lady Lucy.

Why that is—as—Bless me, here's somebody coming.

Manly.

You promise then.

Lady Lucy.

Promise! I don't know:—well—but then I do.

Manly leads Lady Lucy to the door and returns.
Manly.

Charming creature! Marry you! How can I resist such wit, beauty and virtue united?—But the world—How shall I withstand the reproach of my acquaintance?—I will renounce them. I can more easily sustain the taunts of a thousand sops and flirts of fashion, than support a single reproof from my lovely, virtuous Flora.

MANLY.
Then give me, dear charmer, your hand,
The world's vain reproaches above,
My freedom I yield on demand;
The world were well lost for your love.
Re-enter Wildman.
Wild.

Well said, heroic Anthony, But where's your Cleopatra, my boy?

Manly.

A Cleopatra only in beauty, George. You come in good time: I want your advice. Shall I marry this charming little rustic or not?

Wild.

Marry her, why you are not in love with her, surely?

Manly.

Faith, I believe I am—I have strong symp­toms of it. My heart flutters at the sight of her. She [Page 28] is constantly in my thoughts. I could fight for her, die for her.

Wild.

Poh! that a man might do for an hundred women, he was never in love with. To die for a wo­man, Manly, is a mere piece of gallantry. But to marry her, boy, is to live for her, a serious piece of bu­siness, and perhaps with her too, which is—out of fa­shion, egad, and that is worse than being out of the world by half.

Manly.

Yet that I could bear with Flora.—fame, fortune, friendship, all put into the balance against her, appear light as a feather. My regard for her will be lasting as life.

Wild.

Then you must die soon, Manly, take my word for it. However, if you have a mind to put your passion to a violent death, you will take the readiest way. Marriage is as certain a remedy for love, as an incurable mortification is for all other disorders.

Manly.

Don't be so severe, George. Her charms will afford an eternal source of pleasure.

Wild.

I don't believe either in the immortality of her charms, or the eternity of your passion.

Manly.

Look at her again, then, and be converted.

Wild.

Convert thyself, my friend. To marry a wo­man merely for her beauty, is to enslave your whole body for the gratification only of your eyes. But why nerd you marry her? Give her some gold, man, pro­mise her more: cheapen her; purchase her; carry her off, as I will do the little lapwing, her cousin: What, the devil, should you encumber yourself with the lease of a house for, when you may rent the best apartments in it, as long as you like, and leave it at pleasure?

Manly.

I don't believe that. Had you seen with what modest reluctance she yielded even to a kiss! Her maiden reserve—

Wild.
[Page 29]

Modest reluctance! I like that truly! Mai­den reserve! Ha! ha! ha! Little artful gypsey!

YOUNG WILDMAN.
The cunning country wench, in this,
Like little, lofty, London Miss,
So shyly shuns a civil kiss;
But boldly offer more—
Begin to rifle once her charms,
Her bosom beats with soft alarms,
And, kindly sinking in your arms,
Her feign'd aversion's o'er.
Manly.

And yet I have tried every temptation to al­lure, every argument to persuade; and neither my gifts nor my promises would avail me.

Wild.

Poh! poh! you did not come up to her price, I suppose. That's all. I thought, Manly, you had known women better. Besides, consider, you are on the cruise after my cousin Lady Lucy, a twenty thou­sand pounder! Will you be diverted from the chace of such a noble prize, by such a little smuggling cut­ter as this? If the free-hearted cock-boat will give herself away willingly, or take a reasonable price for her cargo, well and good. But to purchase a pretty beggar at the expence of your whole estate, reputation and liberty! Zounds, man, are you mad? Come, come, let us have no more of this, but go in and sit down to old Crusty's October.

Manly.

It is in vain, I find, to talk of virtue to a libertine. Go in, yourself; I'll join you presently. But, I must speak a word or two with old Crusty, as you call him, before we set into drinking.

Exeunt at opposite sides of the stage.
[Page 30] SCENE an Orchard with an Arbour at the bottom in front.
Mrs. Townly comes forward out of the Arbour.
MRS. TOWNLY.
Sure nature form'd man for a rover,
Weak women design'd to deceive!
His tale, though told over and over
To twenty, they all would believe.
Nay, were time or chance to discover
The falsehood, so many must rue;
So soothing the voice of a lover,
To each he would seem to be true.
Enter Lady Lucy.
Lady Lucy.

Well, cousin; what have you done with your gentleman?

Mrs. Town.

Nay, what have you done with yours?

Lady Lucy.

Mine is grown the most civil, obsequi­ous flatterer.

Mrs. Town.

Mine continues the most impudent, rude rogue. Do you know, that I could not get rid of him without promising to meet him here after sup­per. And yet he no sooner left me than he fell despe­rately in love with Cicely, the dairy-maid: and told the poor wench more lies, in five minutes, than she ever heard at statute, market or fair, in her whole life.

Lady Lucy.

It would be a good deed to put the rake to some shame.

Mrs. Town.

I intend it, if he be not shameless. I have thefore ordered Cicely to come hither and give him the meeting in my stead. I have also another scheme in my head, with the help of Farmer Sternhold, to punish his impudence more severely, if he carries it any further.

[Page 31] Enter Cicely.
Mrs. Town.

So, Cicely, you have made a conquest of the London gentleman it seems.

Cicely.

Concourse! Madam! Laud! I don't know what your ladyship means.

Mrs. Town.

Madam! Ladyship! You know, child, you are not to call me Madam, but Mistress Laura.

Cicely.

True Madam Laura, I declare I did not know one word in ten the gentleman said▪ But he hugged and squeezed me so, I am sure I wished 'un fur­ther.

Lady Lucy.

He did not hurt you, sure!

Cicely.

Not to speak of: I could have managed 'un well enough, had that been all. But as he was a gen­tleman, I was minded to let 'un alone a little. Yet he was so woundy skittish, had it been Robin or Rich­ard, I would have flapped the face of o'un heartily.

CICELY.
At romps with Robin, Tom, or Dick,
One fearful is of danger,
And rates them for the wanton trick
One pardons in a stranger.
If such rough clowns should come too near,
We risk the being undone:
But rude may be those freedoms here,
Which civil are in London.
Lady Lucy.

And yet you must not let even Londo­ners be too familiar, Cicely; for tho' less rough, they are not less rude, and are the more dangerous as they are more insinuating.

Cicely.

Your Ladyship!

Lady Lucy.
[Page 32]

Again! your Ladyship! My name is Flora, you know.

Mrs. Town.

Hush! Hush! Yonder goes our spark, sauntering about to look for me, I suppose. You have your instructions, Cicely, so put your best foot foremost. We shall be at hand to assist you, if your gentleman grows rude upon encouragement.

Exeunt Lady Lucy, and Mrs. Townly.
Enter Cicely alone.
Cicely.

I will, Madam, and as he is within ear-shot I'll at him first with a song.

CICELY.
What hopes can there be for poor Cicely,
That one who's a gentleman born,
In love will not cater more nicely,
And treat a plain milk-maid with scorn?
Can he who was e'er sworn at Highgate,
The mistress forsake for the maid;
When, ah! between her mien and my gait,
So striking a diff'rence display'd?
Can he, who knows a gem to prize,
And may its worth enjoy,
Reject, when both before his eyes,
A diamond for a toy?
What hopes can there be, then, for Cicely, &c.
Enter Wildman.
Wild.

What in full song, my little canary bird! I have been looking here all about for you this half hour.

Cicely.

For me or Mrs. Laura, Sir?

Wild.

Laura! child. No for you. Did your young mistress talk of coming, then.

Cicely.

Yes, Sir. She sent me to tell you she should not come.

Wild.
[Page 33]

Ha! ha! ha! I like that much. Who wan­ted her? I had rather have your company, my dear Cicely, by half. Why, do you know that I fell in love with you—

Cicely.

At first sight, mayhap.

Wild.

Nay, before that, mayhap.

Cicely.

What before you saw me at all, Sir! What for, pray?

Wild.

For your singing, my little woodlark. As I listened to the ditties you carol'd, coming home from milking, Cupid let fly his darts so thick at me, that one came, whiz, into my right ear.

Cicely.

And went, whiz, out of the left, I suppose.

Wild.

No, faith, it lodged in my head, and in its way down to my heart, left, at my tongue's end, a little song, I once made on a name-sake of yours, pat to our present purpose.

WILDMAN.
Love, my blindfold heart to wound,
Made not sightly charms his choice;
But, more artful, arm'd with sound,
Avail'd him of Cecilia's voice.
Echo thus made Pan, of yore,
Amorous of the vocal wind.
Sing, sweet Cicely, sing no more,
Till Love be deaf as well as blind.

Unless, my sweet Cicely, you sing only for me, and then you may warble sweet-jug all the live-long night, like a nightingale.

Cicely.

And will you lie so long awake to listen to me?

Wild.

That I will, my little Philomel. Do you think I had not rather listen to you than gaze upon that moppet, your mistress, Laura?

Cicely.
[Page 34]

Moppet, Sir! Laud! Mrs. Laura is reckon­ed a monstrous deal handsomer than me.

Wild.

She! Mere curds and whey! No more to be compared to you than sour butter milk is to sweet cream, child. Besides, the silly creature is half a fool, an idiot in comparison of you.

Cicely.

Silly! Oh! oh! oh! Why she goes in these parts for a great wit. You are certainly joking with me now.

CICELY.
You terribly flatter, I'm sorely afraid,
Poor Cicely, an ignorant, innocent maid;
More witty and pretty by half than myself,
My betters, so fair,
You well may compare
To fine china ware,
That stands in the cupboard or uppermost shelf;
While homelier Ciss,
Like a plain earthen dish,
Is coarse and as clumsy as delf.
Wild.

Wrong not your charms, my pretty little milk­skimmer. I swear you look, in that straw hat and short petticoat, like a queen of the fairies, come to take a dance on the green by moonlight.

WILDMAN.
Let me then to yonder bower,
Only but for half an hour,
With my fairy-queen retire.
There unseen we'll toy and kiss—
Why averse, my gentle Ciss?—
Zounds! she sets me all on fire.
Wildman endeavours to force Cicely towards the ar­bour, out of which Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly burst, laughing.
Lady Lucy and Mrs. Town.
[Page 35]

Ha! ha! ha!

[They advance, laughing, to the front of the stage, keep­ing Wildman and Cicely shuffling and looking con­fus'd, still between them.]
Lady Lucy.
[Ironically to Cicely.]
Gentle fairy
Of the dairy,
Who by moonlight trip the green!
Mrs. TOWNLY.
With your lover,
Under cover,
Go and toy and kiss unseen.
Cicely.
[Pretending to be frightened.]

Indeed and in­deed Mrs. Flora; indeed and indeed, Mrs. Laura, I was not consenting nor relenting. The wicked gen­tleman would force me into the arbour, in spite of my teeth.

Lady Lucy.
[Affecting anger.]

Mighty well, hussey! Be ready to confront him then before your matter to­morrow morning.

Mrs. Townly.

For neither of you shall sleep in the house to-night, I can assure you.

Lady Lucy.

A pretty gentleman, indeed! Prefer the maid to the mistress!

Mrs. Townly.

A mighty pretty gentleman, truly! Ha! ha! ha!

Exeunt Lady Lucy and Mrs. Townly, laughing.
Wild.

What an unlucky dog am I! By beginning with the maid before I had done with the mistress, I shall do nothing, I suppose, with either mistress or maid.

CICELY.
[Affecting to cry.]
Alack! must poor Ciss,
For a trifle like this,
Be turn'd out to the wind and the weather?
Oh! ho! ho! ho! ho!
Crying.
WILDMAN.
[Page 36]
Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
Laughing,
No, no, Cicely, no,
With me you shall go,
And we'll lodge in some hovel together.

Come, don't look so renetty, my cream-cheese curd. If you lose your place on my account, I'll get you an­other. You shall live with me, and churn butter in a dairy of your own. But surely your young mistresses will not be so cruel as to lock us out of doors!

Cicely.

I don't know, Sir. They are very severe. I'll go and see, if you please.

Wild.

And so make a separate peace and leave me out of the treaty! No, no, child. If I am to stay all night in the orchard, you certainly stay along with me.

Cicely.

Laud! Sir, do you think I won't come back to you again?

Wild.

Why, will you?

Cicely.

For certain I will.

Wild.

Nay, then, they may do as they please. But you'll return soon.

Cicely.

Don't be too impatient neither; my young mistresses want a great deal of courting.

Wild.

Egad, I think so; but make what haste you can, child; the dew falls apace.

Cicely.

Yonder is a dry hovel, Sir, where you may wait till I come back. But don't ramble into the yard, for fear of the mastiffs.

Wild.

Well thought of, my dear. I shall lie close till you return, my dear dairy-maid. So I don't wish you good night.

Exit.
Cicely.

And yet the poor gentleman might as well: for the nights are so short, I shall hardly prevail to get him [Page 37] till morning. But it is moonlight, and there is plenty of pease-straw in the hovel.

CICELY.
The sky so clear, the night so sine,
The watch-dogs bay the moon?
Then lie close, London spark of mine,
For fear I come not soon.
Poor Cicely vows her heart it moves
To speak her mind so free—
Then lie close, thy dear dairy-maid
Can come no more to thee.
Exit.
SCENE the Farmer's Hall.
Enter Sir John Manly and Sternold.
Stern.

Well, Sir; as I find your character and in­tentions are honourable, I am satisfied. I have no other objection to make than the general one against unequal and precipitate marriages. I could wish your affections had been of slower growth, to have taken deeper root. Beauty is like a rich but shallow soil. It is fertile; but I always suspect its sudden shoots come up too hastily to be vigorous or lasting.

Sir John.

Rather suspect the languid affection of the mercenary tribe, who marry only for money.

Stern.

Well, Sir, if you are so fully determined, I have nothing farther to say; except that, if you mean to be married this morning, (for you have kept us up till past midnight) you must not have much sleep, I can tell you. You must ride some miles, and that expedi­tiously too, to procure a licence and get tacked toge­ther within canonical hours.

Sir John.

Sleep, Sir! I promise you, I shall not go to bed till I return. You will be so obliging as to let my servant and one of yours, get the horses ready to [Page 38] attend us: my lovely Flora has promised she would set out with me the moment I procured your permission.

Stern.

Adventurous girl! Well, go see after your mistress, while I order the necessary preparations for your journey. Heav'n grant that your love prove as lasting as it seems to be sincere. Not but that a match made only for love is as likely to turn out happy as one made merely for money.

Sir John.

Ay, never fear, farmer.

Exit Stern.
Sir JOHN.
The passion doubt, when faintly gleams
From gold is borrow'd light:
The moon thus sheds her watery beams,
Still cold, however bright.
True love is like the sun, whose rays,
A genial warmth impart;
While beauty's warmer, brighter blaze
Inflames at once the heart.
Exit,
SCENE a Farm-Yard.
Enter Wildman.
Wild.

Fairly jilted, by Jupiter! Here have I been waiting, like an ass, the return of a skittish young filly, till it is broad day-light. By the noises that have continued all the while in the house, one would imagine this out-of-the-way old fellow kept his family up all night; or at least that, like a ship's crew, they, kept watch and watch about. If I am not revenged of the little devils for playing me this trick.—Ha! here comes my arch little simpleton alone. An early riser, 'faith. She may chance to get a fall before night.

[Page 39] Enter Mrs. Townly.

Ha! Miss. Have I caught you?

Lays hold of her.
Mrs. Town.

Sir, my uncle would speak with you.

Wild.

Yes, child: and I would speak with you too. What a pretty trick you country-cousins contrived to play me last night! Do you think I shall tamely put up with it?

Mrs. Town.

Bless me, Sir! Have you been in the orchard all night?

Affecting astonishment.
Wild.

No: but I have been skulking in yonder ho­vel, all night.

Mrs. Town.

What with Cis, the dairy maid; I'll warrant!

Wild.

No: all alone, I warrant, But come, child, you shall go and satisfy yourself.

Mrs. Town.

Laud, Sir! What do you mean?

Wild.

Mean, my dear! Nothing, but to let you see whether the bed be tumbled or not.

Wildman endeavours to force Mrs. Townly off the stage
Mrs. Town.

Nay, then, help! help! Uncle! mur­der, help!

Enter Sternold with two servants; who go up to Wild­disarm and seize him; while Mrs. Townly breaks from him and runs off.
Stern.

So, so. There, there; the game is safe. What, my honest guest, Mr. Wildman! Is it you that have strolled out poaching abroad so early? You are really a very modest gentleman. What can you say for yourself now? Ha!

Wild.

Say! Why I say that your kinswoman here has been very uncivil to me.

Stern.

And you would have been as much too civil to her! Hah! Is it not so? Come, come, bring him along. He shall have a ducking and a fair race for it. Our [Page 40] horse-pond, Sir, is something wide and not of the clea­nest. If you can swim across it, I believe you will not make a hunting seat of my farm again in haste.

Wild.

Sir, I am a gentleman, and expect to be used accordingly. Take off your two ruffians and let me speak with you alone.

Stern.

Well, Sir. I'll trust you. I'll give you more credit than you deserve. Do you hear?

[To the servants.]

Stay, without, that you may be ready with­in call.

Exeunt servants.

Now, Sir, what have you to say in arrest of judg­ment?

Wild.

Sir, I say, that I have done nothing contrary to law.

Stern.

Not contrary to law?

Wild.

Not to common law; which is founded sole­ly on custom: and it has been the custom, time out of mind, for us young fellows, whose blood flows brisk­ly through our veins, to use no ceremony with a whole­some cherry-cheek'd country wench, wherever we have the opportunity of a barn, bed, hovel, or haycock.

Stern.

Mighty well! And so you confess you would have overpowered her, hah!

Wild.

A little agreeable violence is absolutely ne­cessary on these occasions. It saves a world of alterca­tion and gives an edge to appetite.

Stern.

And so having finished this agreeable affair; that is having dishonoured yourself by doing the poor girl an irreparable injury, you could have reconciled your behaviour to your principles, and have sat down perfectly satisfied with the probity of the action?

Wild.

Faith, I believe I should.

Stern.

What can provoke you to such injustice and barbarity?

Wild.

Health and high spirits, my dear misanthrope. Look you, old Wormwood, I have entered into a cove­nant [Page 41] with youth to make the most of time. I have sei­zed fast hold of his forelock, and won't let him give me the slip for a moment without some enjoyment.

WILDMAN.
Give me then life's largest cup;
Fill with pleasure, fill it up;
Pleasure, such as love inspires,
Melting joys and warm desires;
Keep, Oh! keep it running o'er,
Till, grown old, I thirst no more.
Stern.

Hoity! Toity! What a dissolute wretch have we got here!

Wild.

Come, come, old boy, don't mistake your ill-nature for virtue, or your crusty humour for an antipa­thy to vice. Every cynic is not a philosopher. Pr'y­thee polish yourself, therefore, my dear rough diamond. You are the sourest old fellow, I think, I ever met with. You invite a man into your house here, and then deny him the only tid-bit he has a mind to.

Stern.

You know the conditions, Sir, on which you entered this house. But you have broken through every social obligation, and yet imagine you are still acting in the character of a gentleman.

Wild.

Well said, father grey-beard! Egad I fancy you would make a good methodist preacher. But, as we are not likely to agree in our principles, with ex­change of compliments on both sides, let us take leave.

Stern.

Stay, Sir. I must first have satisfaction for the insult put on my family.

Wild.

Oh! with all my heart, old plough-share. I understand you was born a gentleman. So your time, place and weapons in a few words.

Stern.

Not mine, I assure you. I have lived long enough to be a little wiser. But the young woman you have insulted, has a lover; who lives in the neigh­bourhood, [Page 42] and has spirit enough to give you the meet­ing.

Wild.

Gad so! Your bullies about you too! I did not suspect that. However I'll meet him, Sir.

Stern.

Expect him then, under the elms, in the meadow behind the farm, precisely at noon. And alone Sir.

Wild.

I will not fail, Sir.

Stern.

You dare not, for fear of being posted for a coward; a greater reproach to a modern fine gentleman than that of being stigmatized as a villain, or even a murderer.

Wild.

You are right, old gentleman, there is nothing a man of spirit is so much afraid of, as that of being thought afraid of any thing.

YOUNG WILDMAN, and STERNOLD, alternately.
Right or wrong, true or false, good or bad be your cause,
Proud honour with nature at strife,
O'er justice to triumph and laugh at the laws,
You have only to venture your life.
'Tis the mode, and the world will be still so polite,
Whatever the cause be of strife.
To think, though you're wrong, that you're still in the right,
If but boldly you venture your life.
END OF THE SECOND ACT.

ACT III.

SCENE a Meadow near the Farm-House.
Enter Wildman.
Wild.

A fine time of day for a cool thrust, just in the heat of the sun. Egad I have no appetite for it. I wish it was over. But where's my rival! I am before my time, I see.

[Looking at his watch.]

Ha! Manly.

Enter Sir John Manly.
Manly.

George, what are you doing here?

Wild.

Doing. I have been looking about the fields for you. Where the deuce have you been all this morning, that I could not get a sight of you?

Manly.

With my charming Flora, to be sure. Where should I have been?

Wild.

Well, and you have brought her to reason at last, have you?

Manly.

I hope so.

Wild.

Ay, ay. I told you the way—Marry her, indeed! A fine scheme!

Manly.

True that's all over. I may go to bed to her now if I will, without asking leave of the parson.

Wild.

If you will! And won't you? What the devil, have you more scruples than the girl?

Manly.

Why, faith, she is so innocent and credu­lous that I cannot bear the thoughts of imposing on her simplicity.

Wild.

Well then, marry her afterwards, if you like it. But I may safely trust you for that; you are too [Page 44] good a friend to population to encourage the inclosure of commons.

Manly.

This spot, however, is neither common nor waste, George; and a little legal inclosure is a convenience to life, when the land has been carefully cultivated.

Wild.

Yes, yes, it has been cultivated. I'll war­rant it—But you cannot intend to marry the wench.

Manly.

Indeed, I did intend it in the morning.

Wild.

What, to take the refuse of a clod-hopper to your bed, and share her favours perhaps with a plow­man

Manly.

Nay, no more of this, her virtues are equal to her beauty.

MANLY.
Though meaner far my Flora's lot.
And I of princely line;
I'd take her from her humble cot,
Or make that cottage mine.
From chance derived, let noble birth,
Ideal honours claim;
In virtue there is real worth;
A title's but a name.
Wild.

Virtue! Ha, ha, ha. Yes, yes, it is a very virtuous family we have stumbled on here in­deed. I suppose I am to be bullied into marrying the niece too, but—

Manly.

Hold, Sir, I have hitherto borne your re­flections with temper, but I must not indulge you farther.

Wild.

Oh, Oh! You are serious! Are you? Well come, come, did it want a wife? It shall have a [Page 45] Dutch ginger bread one, gilt with Dutch gold too; not worth a stiver.

Manly.

Pr'ythee, George, don't make me angry with you in earnest.

Wild.

Why, what's the matter with you, man! Are you mad in earnest? You are as fractious as if you were married already and had found your wife as wise as yourself.

Manly.

To confess the truth then I am married.

Wild.

Married! How? When? Where? To whom?

Manly.

This morning, to Flora. And now you know my situation. Tell me, as a friend, your opi­nion of what I have done.

Wild.

Done! Pox, you have done a very silly thing; tied yourself to a waxen baby, a mere mop­pet, a prating, party-coloured paroquet, which you will play with like a child, till you are tired; and then, in a peevish fit, be ready to wring its neck off.

WILDMAN.
The whining girl or whimpering boy,
Papa's or mother's darling,
Obtaining thus a favourite toy,
By sulking or by snarling;
A while he in it takes a pride,
So pleasing is the gay thing!
But soon, the bauble thrown aside,
He cries for some new play-thing.
Manly.

Nay, if that be all, farewel. I see you are bent on railing at every thing. But, if you will come and dine with us at Sir Wilful's you may pos­sibly be converted.

Wild.
[Page 46]

At my uncle's!

Manly.

Yes, the Baronet intercepted us, in our re­turn from church, and infisted on the celebration of our marriage at the manor house. You'll give us your company, George.

Exit.
Wild.

Not I. You have ruined our project there—Besides I have other business.—My antagonist is not very alert in keeping the farmer's appointment. Per­haps this is he coming cross the field.—No, this is a mere boy.—I suppose my hero has sent some formal excuse; the women have locked him up; the country is raised: or the justices have issued their warrant to stop hostile proceedings and make up the matter over a friendly bottle.

Enter Mrs. Townly, in man's cloaths.
Mrs. Townly.

Your servant, Sir.

Wild.

Yours, Sir.

[Aside]

Some young ensign of the militia, I suppose.

Mrs. Townly.

I am sent hither, Sir, to do justice to an injured fair, whom I have the honour to be well with, and I suppose you are my man.

Wild.

And do you think yourself man enough, young gentleman, to support your pretensions to her.

Mrs. Townly.

Oh, Sir. I have brought a stouter man than you on his knees before now.

Wild.

But what interest may you have in the wench to engage you thus in her affairs?

Mrs. Townly,

Oh, Sir! I have been her favourite a good while; her chief fault indeed is being a little too fond of me.

MRS. TOWNLY.
[Page 47]
I freely confess, Sir,
I dress and undress her;
Alone with her quite at my ease.
No mortal but I, Sir,
Her constant adviser,
Can do with her just as I please.

'Tis not so gallant, to be sure, to mention particulars of this nature, but the affair is no secret. I think this is the seventh challenge I have given or received, for her and her cousin, Flora. The seventh! No, the eighth. Four justices, two excisemen, a parson, and yourself.

Wild.

Flora! What you have had her too, hah?

Mrs. Townly.

Excuse me there, Sir, she's married, it seems—Faith, I'm very glad on't—Poor man! Your friend, I mean. I hope he is not apt to be jea­lous.—If his son and heir should step into the world before the usual time, he would do well to impute it rather to the forwardness of the boy, than to the frailty of his wife.

Wild.

Thou art the most impudent braggard, I ever met with.

Mrs. Townly.

'Tis false, Sir. What because I have reprieved you a little and suffered you to breathe a moment, while I diverted you with my gallantries, you grow insolent.

Wild.

Ha, ha, ha, thou art a very pot-gun charged with air.

Mrs. Townly.

And thou, a wooden blunderbuss without any charge at all.

Wild.

Thou most insignificant animal!

Wildman draws and advances towards Mrs. Townly.
WILDMAN.
[Page 48]
Come, come, draw your sword, Sir,
Without more delay.
MRS. TOWNLY.
Not I, on my word, Sir,
I fight my own way.
Presenting a large pistol, on which Wildman starts and retires.
Nay, think not to fly,
Put up, or you drop,
With a flash and a pop,
Put instantly up, or you die.
Wild.

Hah! What have you these tricks, my little bully?

Mrs. Townly.

As you make a longer lunge than I, Sir, it may not be prudent to engage with you at small sword. But put up and take this, or this

Pre­senting two pistols, Wildman puts up his sword and takes one.

You may change it or recharge it, if you suspect my honour.

Wild.

How is it loaded?

Mrs. Townly.

With a brace of bullets, Sir.

Enter Farmer Sternold.
Stern.
[To Mrs. Townly.]

Aha! What engaged already, my little friend!

[To Wildman.]

I told you he was a lad of spirit, and would find you sport. Keep your ground, for he shoots flying to a miracle.

Wild.

Does he? Egad, then I am glad you are come, farmer, for we were just going to be very serious here. This little huff-bluff Hetcor will let nobody kiss your family but himself, it seems. Pr'ythee, let us make up this affair, old gentleman. I own I don't fancy this flash and a pop, as your young friend calls it—If I am in the wrong; why—

Stern.
[Page 49]

Oh, Sir. Nothing will satisfy him now, but your blood; depend on it.

Mrs. Townly.
[Traversing the stage with her pistol cock'd.]

No, Sir. Nothing but your blood! Nothing but your blood! Demme.

Wild.

Well, Sir, if nothing else will do—

Mrs. Townly.

Come on—Let us retreat each five paces, then turn round on our heels, and give fire together.

[They meet, retire each five paces and then turn round. Wildman fires, and Mrs. Townly falls, as if shot.]
Stern.

Oh, he is shot! he is killed! my poor boy is murdered!

Wild.

What have I done! Curse on my steady hand.

Stern.

Help, help, murder! Help.

Wild.

Nay then it is time to provide for my own safety.

Exit.
Enter several Country Fellows.
All.

What's the matter! What's the matter?

Ist Coun.

Codso! here's murderation committed, I believe.

Stern.

Run, fly, pursue the murderer, all of you. Yonder he scampers. I'll see to the young gentle­man.

Exeunt countrymen.
Mrs. Townly.
[cautiously rising.]

Is the coast clear?

Stern.

All off. Admirably performed, indeed. I was afraid you durst not have stood fire.

Mrs. Townly.

Yes, yes, as I know there was no danger I was not much afraid. Bring him up to the [Page 50] manor house when taken—I'll slip across the fields and be there before you.

Exeunt severally

.

SCENE an Appartment in the Manor-house.
Enter Sir Wilful Wildman and Sir John Manly.
Manly.

Really, Sir Wilful, you give yourself too much trouble, I am obliged to you, but could wish, to be excused.

Sir Wil.

Excused! No, no. No excuse; I will have no excuse. What a bridegroom and afraid of a fiddle! A tenant's daughter married and not have a dance!

Manly.

Well, Sir, if it must be so—

Sir Wil.

And so it is that graceless young rogue, my nephew, you have brought with you into the country, eh?

Manly.

Yes, Sir Wilful; and I could wish I might be the means of restoring him to your favour.

Sir Wil.

Restore him, Sir!—He never lost my favour. He never had it. He forfeited all preten­sions to that before he was born.

Manly.

How, Sir! Before he was born!

Sir Wil.

My brother, you must know, mortally offended me by his extravagance; so that, though I consented to be the boy's guardian, for the sake of his mother, I shall never be reconciled to him on the ac­count of his father.

Manly.

That resolve does not square with your re­ported generosity, Sir Wilful. The son may not in­herit the foibles of his father.

Sir Wil.
[Page 51]

Yes, yes, prodigality runs in the blood as well as other fashionable disorders; he has made away with his whole patrimony already, and might starve but for the annuity, I allow him out of regard to the honour of our family.

Manly.

Young men, Sir Wilful, are apt to be too liberal. By keeping good company he has fallen into bad hands.

Sir Wil.

Why give the rogue his due, he has kept good company, as you say. Who but George Wild­man at Boodle's, the thatched house, the St. James's, and, and—every where else, egad, where he might spend, or lose his money. To be sure, he is the worse, for good company. And yet, if the young rascal had my estate to-morrow, he'd run headlong into better, and ruin himself for ever.

Manly.

It is unhappily too true, Sir. The first men in the kingdom are liable to be stript by sharpers.

Sir Wil.

Yes, but George is not sharp enough to strip me. He would be the first man in the kingdom, I know, to do it, but I shall be the last man to let him. No, no, let him play at sharps with those that have taught him the game.

SIR WILFUL WILDMAN.
The youth of the age are so prodigal grown,
So profligate, thoughtless and idle;
That all my estate should I lend him on loan,
At Newmarket races,
At Bath and such places,
My money and lands would go after his own:
No, no, let him bite on the bridle.
[Page 52] Our family mansion, which Time still regards,
In mould'ring would totter and sidle;
Our oaks, that once shelter'd old Druids and Bards,
At Almack's and Arthur's,
Amongst stars and garters,
To earth would be fell'd by a cut of the cards;
No, no, let him bite on the bridle.
Manly.

But, Sir Wilful—

Sir Wil.

No entreating, Sir John. It is only waste of breath. It will be to no purpose. Here has been a pretty lady from London, this month past interceding for him. If she can do any thing with him, well and good; otherwise I am inexorable. Not but that he shall have all when I die; I'll not give sixpence out of the family—But not a farthing more than his allowance while I live. But I shall survive the rogue; he'll cer­tainly come to be hanged. I have heard such things of him! he'll certainly come to be hanged.

Enter a Servant.
Serv.

The coach is returned, Sir, with the ladies.

Sir Wil.

Gadso, ay, shew them up.

Manly.

Ladies! Sir Wilful.

Sir Wil.

Only a neighbour or two, just to make up a party for a country dance after dinner.

Sir Wilful goes, to the door, to introduce the Ladies

.

Manl.
[Aside.]

This queer old Baronet is so trouble­some with his civility, I find I must go through the im­pertinence of a public wedding after all.

[Page 53] Enter Lady Lucy, elegantly dressed:
Sir Wil.
[Leading Lady Lucy forward.]

Sir John Manly.

Manly.

So! I must salute them too, it seems.

[He goes to salute Lady Lucy, and starts back.]

My love! my dear! Is it you? Why this change of dress? Where­fore thus metamorphosed?

Lady Lucy.

I hope my features are not alter'd with my clothes.

Manly.

No, my love; but you can receive no ad­dition by dress that will not injure the simplicity of your charms.

MANLY.
Can shreds of sattin, silk or lace
By mode or taste combin'd,
Bestow one beauty in the face,
One virtue on the mind?
Then, Flora, wherefore stoop so low
To have recourse to art?
Your charms require not dress nor shew,
To captivate the heart.
Sir Wil.

All this is very true, Sir John. But here­by hangs a tale. It was formerly an odd custom for the Lord of this Manor—

Manly.

Why are not you he?

Sir Wil.

Not I, Sir: no, no. The present Lord is a relation of mine by marriage. I thought you had known him; but you'll know him presently.

Manly.
[Page 54]

Well, Sir; and what of him?

Sir Wil.

Being a humorist and a man of pleasure, he lately took it into his head to revive the obsolete custom, I was going to tell you of; by promising a handsome marriage portion to a tenant's daughter, on condition of her indulging him in the privilege of a husband on her wedding-night.

Many.

And she has found a man, I supppse, that will marry her on such conditions!

Sir Wil.

Our peasantry, Sir John, are few of them so nice as to let honour stand in the way of profit.

Manly.

But what is all this to us, Sir!

Sir Wil.

True, Sir John, that is as you take it; but the point is, your spouse is the damsel, on whom my kinsman has promised to bestow his bounty, and as he is ready to fulfil his part of the agreement, he thinks he has a right to insist on the performance of covenants on the part of the bride.

Manly.

Ha! ha! ha! I see you are disposed to be merry with me, Sir Wilful.

Sir Wil.

Gadso, but I am very serious, Sir John. The maiden, never dreaming it would be her lot to meet with a husband, who should object to the condi­tion of the obligation, thought there was no harm in thus providing herself with something to begin the world with. But, if you refuse your consent, to be sure, the landlord must forego his claim.

Manly.

Consent! Confound his claim and his cove­nant too! I'll shoot him through the head, for having the insolence to mention it.

Lady Lucy.

And me through the heart at the same time, Sir?

Manly.

Madam!

Lady Lucy.
[Page 55]

Since all must come out, Sir, it is in vain to deny that I love this landlord.

Manly.

Love him! Sir Wilful's kinsman! the lord of the manor!

Lady Lucy.

The same, Sir.

LADY LUCY.
Let lord and husband have his due;
I yield to each his part;
For when I gave my hand to you,
I gave to him my heart.
While your commands I, then, obey,
And prove a loving wife;
O'er him, Oh! let me bear the sway,
A mistress, lov'd for life.
Manly.

Mighty loving, indeed! I thank you for your love, Madam. —But what can you see in me so absurd as to attempt thus to impose upon me?

Lady Lucy.

Take care you don't impose on your­self, Sir.

Manly.

'Sdeath, Madam! who is this landlord? — Let me see him. What's his name? Where is he?

Lady Lucy.

If you can command your passion, Sir, you may find, yourself alone with him in the adjoin­ing gallery, and be satisfied of his claim.

Manly.

Yes, yes, Madam, he shall give me satis­faction, depend on it.

Exit.
Sir Wil.

'Egad, his blood circulates purely. What a confounded flurry he is in!

Lady Lucy.

I begin to pity him, Sir; he suffers too much from an imaginary evil. Let us follow him.

Exeunt.
[Page 56] SCENE, Another Apartment in the Manor-house.
Enter Sir John Manly in great agitation.
Manly.

Confusion! What can I make of all this?

[Looking anxiously about.]

I see nobody.

Enter Mrs. Townly, in man's cloaths.
Manly.

Ah, ha! here he comes.

Aside.
Mrs. Town.
[Aside.]

So far, so good. Now, if I can but steal undiscovered to her dressing-room—

Walks on tip-toe across the stage

.

Manly.
[Coming forward and stopping her.]

Yes, Sir; but you don't steal undiscovered to her dressing-room, I assure you,. 'Sdeath, Sir! how dare you have the impudence to think a gentleman would suffer such an insult? Draw this moment, or—

Drawing his sword

.

Mrs. Town.

Bless me, Sir! What's the matter?

Manly.

You know very well what's the matter, Sir.

Mrs. Town.

The deuce take me, if I do.

Manly.

Come, come, draw, my little rampant lord land'ord.

Mrs. Town.

Landlord: The deuce a landlord am I, Sir. Not a mansion, hovel, or tenement have I in the whole county—Nay, Sir, I am only tenant at will to the cloaths on my back.

Manly.

It is in vain to trifle. You were sneaking to her dressing-room. Draw, I say.

Mrs. Town.

Not I, Sir, without some better reason.

Manly.

Dost thou talk of reason too, thou con­temptible little animal?

Mrs.

Town. Yes, faith, do I. And I think it very hard, for a man who has just fallen in one duel, to be taken up so soon by a second.

Manly.

Do you laugh at me, Sir?

Advancing.
Mrs. Town.
[Page 57]

Hold, hold, Sir! I tell you I have been shot once to-day already. You would not go to kill me again.

Manly.

Insolent trifler! —Defend yourself this mo­ment, or, by heavens—

Puts himself in a posture of defence.
Mrs. Town.

Nay, then, it is well I secured my fire­arms.

Aside

.

MRS. TOWNLY.
The man is stark mad without doubt!
And this for my safety expedient—
Presents a pistol to Manly, who retires
.
To the right, if you please—Wheel about—
'Tis well, Sir—So—There—Your obedient.
Crosses the stage, and exit
.
Manet Manly, with his sword drawn, in great confusion.
Sir Wilful and Lady Lucy enter at folding doors that open in the centre of the scene.
Sir Wil.

Ha! ha! ha! What, fencing with the air, man? Fighting with your own shadow?

Manly.

It is well, Sir, that your age and house pro­tect you. As for you, Madam, I have learned to de­spise you, since I have seen the thing on which you had placed your affections.

Lady Lucy.

What thing, Sir?

Manly.

That toy of silk and tinsel, that went out just now. Bullies should be made of more substantial stuff. But, thank Heaven, our marriage is not con­summated, nor ever shall. I'll sue out a divorce, or ride post to Japan, but I'll get rid of this affair.

Sir Wil.
[to Lady Lucy.]

Codso! We shall carry this joke too far here: the man's brain is turned in good earnest.—

[To Manly.]

Why, Sir John, there was nobody here but in your own imagination.

Manly.
[Page 58]

Away! thou egregious old coxcomb.

Putting up his sword and going

.

LADY LUCY.
Oh, stay! Ah, turn, my only dear!
The sportive trial's too severe;
It pains me thus to grieve you.
Leave not in rage your faithful bride.
But lay your fears and frowns aside,
And let her undeceive you.
Manly.

'Sdeath, Madam! What do you mean?

Lady Lucy.

I mean, Sir, that you yourself are the favourite landlord in question. It is you who gave me the promise of your whole fortune for my wed­ding-portion. —It is you to whom I have given both my hand and heart.

Sir Wil.

It is even so, Sir John. This is my niece Lucy, late Lady of the Manor; and you my new kinsman, who have entered, it seems, into a matrimo­nial contract to go to bed together. You see you have stumbled on a fortune without knowing it.

Lady Lucy.

Yes, Sir; and I now give you my por­tion in possession, in return for yours in promise. —This morning I was mistress of this mansion, with all the pastures and plowed fields within two miles round. At present they are yours: you are their owner now, lord of this manor and me.

Manly.

Is it possible?

Sir Wil.

Oh, yes, it is very possible that things should be as they are. Well, Sir John, what say you now? Shall the marriage be consummated or not? Shall the landlord have his due? or will you shoot him through the head? Sue out a divorce, or ride post to Japan, to get rid of this affair? Hah?

Manly.

I am dumb with admiration.

Lady Lucy.
[Page 59]

I was resolved, Sir, never to venture on a husband, till I was convinced that my person, ra­rather than my fortune, was his aim. —That proof you have generously given me; and I am rejoiced that I can make you this grateful return. —You must impute the artifices, I have used in procuring this assurance, to the design concerted between you and your friend, for the disposal of both my person and fortune without my consent.

Manly.

I own it; with blushes I own it. How shall I repay thy generosity? —Give me thy hand, thy lips, thy heart; there let me dwell, and be for ever happy.

Embraces her

.

Sir Wil.

There, there; so, so. All's compos'd again. Egad, I was afraid you were non compos, when you talked of meeting a bully here.

Manly.

By heavens, I encountered an insolent boy, who with fire arms set me at defiance and retired.

Lady Lucy.

Mrs. Townly, as I live, returning from her expedition against Mr. Wildman; who is in con­sequence, you see, taken into custody. You must join with us in inflicting a little imaginary punishment too on your friend.

Enter Wildman, guarded by a Constable and other country fellows: with Farmer Sternold, who goes up to Lady Lucy and converses with her aside.
Const.
[To Sir Wilful.]

An please your worship, we have apprehended a vagrom here, who has committed a murder, as I may say, in Farmer Sternold's close. And so we have brought him to take his exami­nation afore your worship, and be committed to gaol.

Sir Wil.

Murder! say you? Whom has he mur­dered?

Const.

Nea, nea, I did na see the dead mon, to be sure, to ask'un. But the fellow and he, beliken, had [Page 60] some words about their sweethearts, and so he shot'un that's aw.

Sir John.
[To Wildman.]

I always told you, George, what these wild doings would bring you to; but you would still run riot upon every thing. What could you expect?

Wild.

Yes, faith, we have made a very fine expedi­tion of it. One of us is married to a jilt, and the other will be hanged for killing her bully.

Sir Wil.

A fair confession. Where's John, clerk! Here, let him make out the fellow's mittimus. I'll dispatch him to the county jail, in an instant.

Wild.

To the county jail! Sir John, you will be bound for my appearance at the assizes.

Manly.

As to that, George, I must beg to be excused. I am sorry for you, but a murder is serious affair, and the law must take its course.

Sir Wil.

Ay, certainly—Where's John, clerk! The vagrant stands committed.

Wild.

Then, Sir, for the sake of your family, I must be so free as to acquaint you who I am. Look at me, Sir, are my features unknown to you?

Sir Wil.

Gadso! Where's my spectacles! Let me see—Ay, sure enongh, the very fellow that I commit­ted to Lincoln jail for horse-stealing! Egad, friend, if yours be a family phiz, it is a very unpromising one, I can assure you.

Wild.

And yet, Sir, I am your nephew, George Wildman.

Wil.

My nephew! you George Wildman!

Man.

Tis too true, Sir Wilful, and I cannot help reflecting on the sagacity of your late prediction. The young gentleman will certainly come to be hanged, as you said.

Sir Wil.

True, but I did not think I should have the trouble of signing his mittimus.

Stern.

With your worship's leave; as the culprit [Page 61] proves to be a kinsman of yours, and I am the only wit­ness that can convict him; if he should chuse to supply the place of the poor girl's sweetheart he has killed, and marry her, my evidence, you know, on that con­dition—

Wild.

No, thou rascally old pandar.

Sir Wil.

Nay, no abuse, friend; you have your choice. It is a fair offer; the girl or the gallows.

Sir WILFUL.
Does the foolish fellow faulter?
Pr'ythee make no more delay;
Take the wench or take the halter,
Stand not shill-I, shall-I, pray.
STERNOLD.
[To Wildman.]
While there's life, man, there is hope,
Take the wife and leave the rope.
LADY LUCY.
[To Manly.]
Sarce can I refrain from laughter.
MANLY.
[To Sternhold.]
Mayn't the man be hang'd hereafter,
When to wife and husband too—
STERNOLD.
The rope may prove a friend—
Sir WILFUL.

That's true.

Enter Mrs. Townly, in man's cloathes.
Mrs. Townly.

Hey day! What's the matter here!

All appear surpriz'd

.

Wild.

Ha! my little bully alive.

Mrs. Townly.

My antagonist in custody! I expected as much. You may release him, gentlemen, as I am unhurt. My foot only slipped, and my friend, the far­mer, here, took the alarm before I could recover myself.

Wild.
[Page 62]

Let me embrace you, my little bravo.

Runs to embrace Mrs, Townly, who retires

.

Mrs. Town.

Nay no more rudeness, Sir, at your pe­ril. My Uncle Sternold is here to protect me. Don't you know his niece. Laura, Sir?

Wild.

How! Laura!

Sir Wil.
[After conferring with Lady Lucy, aside.]

Very frolicksome truly all this! A pretty piece of work, you young folks have made of it here. But come, come, it is my turn to have a frolick now. Look you here Mr. Scapegrace, I dare say, tho' Mrs. Laura did not chuse to be a mistress, she will have no objec­tions to be made a wife.

Mrs. Townly.

Sir Wilful.

Sir Wil.

Silence, hussy.

Mrs. Townly.

But, Sir Wilful!

Wild.

How, Sir! a farmer's daughter!

Sir Wil.

Ay, sirrah, or you shall inherit no farm lands of mine. A farmer's daughter, booby! Why every woman is somebody's daughter. But you're out, you rogue, this is Mrs. Townly, Sir, a London lady of fa­mily and fortune.

Wild.

Mrs. Townly! Nay then I am caught in a snare, I thought I had escaped. Folly, I see, makes one as blind as love; I should else have sooner recol­lected those features I have so often admired. May I hope, Madam—

To Mrs. Townly

.

Mrs.

Townly. Nay don't talk to me about your hopes, I know nothing of the matter. Sir Wilful seems to dispose of us all as his property; but—

Sir Wil.

But what, hussy? Come take her hand, boy, take her hand. If you can venture for once on a wife, I warrant she'll venture twice on a husband.

Wildman takes Mrs Townly's hand and eagerly kisses

.

Mrs. Townly.

Hold, hold, Sir; no more. Sir Wil­ful seems positive, but—

Sir Wil.

Again! at your buts?

Lady Lucy.
[Page 63]

Nay, cousin, pay some regard, for my sake, to the hasty example before you.

Sir Wil.

Which if they don't follow, adod, I'll make such an example of them—

Manly.

Never fear, Sir Wilful. I'll be bound for my friend's appearance at the assizes now. At the same time, take notice, George, that however you, libertines, may affect to turn matrimony into ridicule, there is no lasting bliss but in honourable love.

Sir Wil.

Right, Sir John: And here I see are our neighbours and tenants assembled to wish you joy on the occasion. Let them all come in—you must know it is our sheepshearing time, and we must make a ge­neral holiday of it.

MANLY.
False and flattering is the kiss
Of the fickle faithless miss.
LUCY.
True and faithfully for life,
Loves a chaste endearing wife.
Mrs. TOWNLY.
Marriage might indeed have joys,
Youth so true to beauty.
WILDMAN.
Laughing girls and blooming boys,
Blessing love and duty.
STERNOLD.
Joy, then, to the wedded pair!
Joy unmix'd with sorrow!
Sir WILFUL.
Hold you there—an hour of care
Must bid an heir good-morrow.
[Page 64]
CHORUS.
Joy, then, to the wedded pair!
Joy, unmix'd with sorrow!
Till the birth-day hour of care,
Bid girl or boy good-morrow.
THE END.

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