SEDUCTION: A COMEDY.

AS IT IS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL IN DRURY-LANE.

BY THOMAS HOLCROFT.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR G. G. J. AND J. ROBINSON▪ PATERNOSTER-ROW.

M. DCC. LXXXVII.

PROLOGUE.

AMONG the tawny sons of Indian lands,
The Hero, who aspires to lead their bands,
Must proof afford, ere he his cause can gain,
Of resolution, and contempt of pain:
Ere they'll confess him fit for them to die,
Whips, stings, and fire, his fortitude must try!
Assembled Chiefs the desp'rate contest view,
Inflict the torture, and the pang renew!
And, should he, while the flames his reins embrace,
Heave one poor sigh, or even breathe apace,
With scorn and ignominy, he's expell'd;
By boys and women in derision held!
But if, to pain superior, he comes forth
Equal to heroes of acknowledg'd worth,
Applauding shouts re-echo to the skies,
And all hearts claim him as his country's prize!
Severe the task!—Who would to fame aspire
In lands like these, where Virtue's try'd by fire?
Scarce less severe his task who pants for fame,
Scorch'd by the ardour of Poetic flame;
While fable, diction, pathos, wit and taste,
Like scorpion whips, and racks, are round him plac'd:
For, while to conquer each defect he tries,
"On the strong torture of the mind he lies!"
Rashly resolv'd to dare impending fate,
To-night comes forth a hardy candidate.
The Critic lash, the more than mortal stings,
When Obloquy the Poet's bosom wrings,
When Disappointment gnaws his bleeding heart,
And mad Resentment hurls her venom'd dart,
When angry Noise, Disgust, and Uproar rude,
Damnation urge, and ev'ry hope exclude,
These, dreadful tho' they are, can't quite repel
Th' aspiring mind, that bids the man excel.
Tho' rules, alone, would yield a barren fame,
Such praise as rules can merit he may claim.
Each unity's preserv'd, nor knows the play
A lapse of time beyond the close of day;
[Page] No change of scene denotes a chang'd abode,
Nor has he dar'd indulge one episode.
But rules of art no native tints bestow;
Art never taught the beauteous rose to blow:
If nurtur'd not by dews, and heav'n-born fire,
The half-blown bud must droop, the plant expire.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

  • Sir Frederic Fashion, Mr. PALMER.
  • Lord Morden, Mr. KEMBLE.
  • General Burland, Mr. AICKIN.
  • Lapelle, Mr. BATES.
  • Bailiff, Mr. CHAPLIN.
  • Mr. Wilmot, Mr. KING.
  • Lady Morden, Miss FARREN.
  • Harriet, Mrs. WILSON,
  • Emily, Mrs. BRERETON.
  • Mrs. Pinup, Miss TIDSWELL.
  • Mrs. Modely, Miss POPE.

The time within twelve hours. The scene is the house of Lord Morden, and does not change; and the stage is never vacant, but at the end of an act. The action is single.

PREFACE.

THE immortal Author of Hudibras af­firms, the hardest task in the world is to write a play; it is, therefore, no wonder that writers of plays are prone to regard their la­bours with fondness, even to partiality; or that they should perceive with regret the light esteem in which a part of the literary world have lately affected to hold them. Works of rudi­ment, of disquisition, nay, even, of mere compilation, are often treated by criticism with a respect which a comedy, or tragedy, where wit, invention, genius, and all the highest faculties of the mind have, or ought to have, been employed, seldom meets. The theatre, however it may be debased by the nightly intrusion of unhappy and improper persons, has a most powerful and good in­fluence on morals, which increases with in­dustry, and as the means of gaining admission among the lower class increase. Much time is there spent to the best, the noblest, of pur­poses; the body's fatigues are forgotten, the mind is beguiled of its cares, the sad heart is made merry, fictitious sorrow obliterates real, and the soul, imbibing virtuous and heroic principles, is roused and impelled to actions that honour not only individuals but nations, and give a dignity to human nature. Those who can doubt this are to be pitied. And it is piteous, most piteous, that, not only the learned, but, the political world should treat the stage with neglect; nay, with contempt: [Page vi] that they do not combine, and employ the high powers they possess to the encouragement and perfection of an art which, being, in its own nature, so delightful, so fascinating, is capable of contributing, so infinitely, to the happiness, as well as to the pleasure, of man­kind.

These ideas have long, and often, occurred to my mind, where they have acted with in­creasing force. If I have written a comedy which, perfectly moral in its tendency, and counteracting a fashionable vice that is in danger of becoming a vulgar one, has charms sufficient to attract spectators, I am of opinion I have done my country an essential service. That some who read this may call me vain or presumptuous is, to me, totally indifferent. The theatre is a subject of such consequence to virtue, happiness, and man, that I cannot forbear speaking of it with a sense of feeling which, I fear, I cannot impart.

I must now undertake a task of a very dif­ferent and painful nature; the cause of my undertaking it shall be given, when I have told my story.

In the summer of 1785, I wrote the Opera of the Choleric Fathers, and the Comedy of Seduction. They were both put into the hands of Mr. Harris, on certain conditions; the substance of which was that, if, after read­ing, he should approve the pieces, they were both to be played, during the ensuing season, the first in November, and the latter in January, [Page vii] or the beginning of February, 1786. They were read by Mr. Harris, and both accepted, on these conditions; and so precise, so per­fectly explained, were they that they were re­duced to writing. However, certain objec­tions arising, on the part of Mr. Harris, con­cerning benefit nights (not the time of perform­ing the pieces, for that remained determined) I, myself, tore the written agreement; saying, I thought it improbable men, who meant ho­nestly and honourably, should differ in trifles; and that each other's word was sufficient.

When Mr. Harris had read Seduction, though he objected to parts, he was, yet, so well pleased with the whole, that he said, with evident, and peculiar, satisfaction, I had given the theatre a comedy which, he thought, would do it no harm.

Having made his objections, alterations were agreed on, and the comedy taken back. Further to prove how fully the word of Mr. Harris was engaged, how perfectly he under­stood himself pledged to abide by his agree­ment, while the Opera of the Choleric Fathers was preparing for representation, Mr. Harris sent to me, to make a new proposal, which, according to him, would highly benefit the theatre. This was that, instead of January, I should suffer the comedy to be brought out before Christmas, because he had a new panto­mime (Omai) that would, in all probability, be greatly beneficial to the theatre, after Christmas, and that his season would then [Page viii] be filled up, and, probably, exceedingly pro­ductive. That my interest might not suffer by this arrangement, he promised, in com­pensation, to suffer the new pantomime to be played for my third benefit, and, if the comedy ran a certain number of nights, for my fourth. When he made this proposition I desired time to consider, and consult my friends; and, at last, from a sincere wish to oblige Mr. Harris, and serve the theatre, acquiesced. This pro­ject, however, was deranged; not by me, or Mr. Harris; but by an event highly vexatious to both, and which I shall not relate now; perhaps never.

In the mean time, the play had received some alterations, and the insertion of a cha­racter so atrocious, yet so frequent, in this town, as to make, in the opinion of Mr. Harris, the representation of it dangerous. Accordingly, this was to be expunged, still further alterations were undertaken, and the comedy, a third time, delivered, as it is at pre­sent played, about the beginning of December, 1785. It will be necessary to remark that, before this, the Choleric Fathers had been performed, and did not take that run which Mr. Harris expected, and I had hoped; and that, knowing the changeable disposition of Mr. Harris, I cautioned him against suffering this mediocrity of success to influence, and prejudice, his mind against the comedy. He assured me it should not.

I must likewise state that, so self-denying [Page ix] was I, and desirous of promoting the welfare of the theatre, when Mr. Harris informed me, by Mr. Lewis, he had no further hopes from the Opera, which had then been played seven nights, and that he would allow me the eighth instead of the ninth night, but adding he doubted whether I should clear expences; I, though there was no probability of loss, and, certainly, some of gain, gave up my third night to the theatre; telling Mr. Lewis I would not deprive Mr. Harris of a night, un­der such circumstances.

The Comedy remained with Mr. Harris, who, I was told, was gone out of town, till the beginning of January, without my re­ceiving any information of its being preparing for rehearsal. I began to be alarmed; and, unable to obtain an interview, or even dis­cover where Mr. Harris was, I wrote a letter to him, expressive of these alarms. I need not describe what my feelings were, a few days after, on receiving the comedy back, with a letter from Mr. Harris, in which these feelings were indeed little respected, inform­ing me it could not succeed. The manner of sending it back was, almost, as extraordinary as the act. It was brought, loosely tied up with packthread, in a bit of dirty brown pa­per, unsealed, by the servant of Mr. O'Keefe. I mean not to insinuate any possible disad­vantage to the character of Mr. O'Keefe: far to the contrary. I have often heard him ho­nourably mentioned. Neither can I say how [Page x] it came into his hands, or that he knew what it was; but this is no palliation of Mr. Harris's conduct. I returned no answer; it would have been exceedingly wrong to have trusted the irritated mind at such a moment.

I will now give my reasons for relating this transaction to the world. To pretend I did not feel all the indignation which conduct like this must kindle, would be to assume an apathy contrary to nature; and, even, to virtue. This, however, has worn off: I act coolly, at pre­sent, and from a sense of duty, not revenge. As far as relates to myself, I would wish the affair might never more be remembered; but, if men in similar situations might act thus always with impunity, as they too often do, what means could the weak and unprotected find of obtaining redress; what security in their dealings with a man, who, regardless of probity, and yielding to the caprice of opi­nion, the dictates of pride, or the narrow motives of self-interest, does not scruple to break his word, so pledged, and engagements thus formal?

This narrative will scarcely be more dis­agreeable to Mr. Harris to read than it has been to me to write: it is not my own cause I plead, for that was gained in the success of my Comedy; but the cause of the weak against the strong; the cause of hereafter genius against hereafter injustice; the cause of the man, who, endowed with gifts of which Nature herself is proud, but deprived of every [Page xi] benefit of Fortune, shall devote his days and nights to study, and suffer every abstinence with resignation, and, even with delight, cheered by the sweet hope of being some time known for what he is. There is a momentary intoxication, a delirium of soul, in this hope, which not the daily privation of pleasures, the disappointments of years, the labours of a life, nor injustice itself can counterbalance. It is this godlike sensation which has given the mind an impetus, and made it produce works so various, and so vast, that, glancing at their amplitude and sublimity, it stands confounded at its own powers!

That I may avoid all appearance of min­gling flattery with an appeal to justice, I shall forbear describing the conduct of the Proprie­tors of Drury-Lane; except saying, they have behaved to me like Gentlemen, and men of honour.

My heart will not, however, suffer me to be equally reserved, and silent, concerning Mr. King. The moment he was convinced the producing of this Comedy would proba­bly serve, not injure, the Theatre, his zeal and activity, in my cause, were indefatigable: how very essentially his powers, as an actor, have contributed to its success is too public for me (had I a wish so selfish) to conceal. But this is not the first debt of gratitude from me to Mr. King; his friendship, or his philanthropy, while I was struggling into notice, and com­bating with adverse fortune, did me a gene­rous [Page xii] kindness which never can, nor ever ought to be forgotten.

The Town have beheld, with delight and surprise, the increasing excellence of Miss Farren; and, thinking she had attained per­fection, have been astonished, when they saw her next, at their own mistake. In the pre­sent instance, her exertions, and even the very manner of them, have been as pleasing to me, as they were beneficial to the Comedy. I can only add, she has excelled herself; and, though that thought be old, it never was more properly applied.

Having mentioned these, it were injustice to the rest of the performers not to thank them; both for the display of talents, the merits of which are well known, and the ardour, I may say the anxiety, they testified for my success. Yes, I most sincerely thank them all; and only forbear to name them, individually, because I cannot find expressions, various and warm enough, to convey my thoughts, without making true and well deserved praise assume the form of laboured panegyric.

SEDUCTION: A COMEDY.

ACT I.

SCENE I.

[A superb Drawing-room in the House of Lord MORDEN, with several Doors-leading to other Apartments.]
LAPELLE, from Lord Morden's dressing-room, looking at his watch.

TWENTY minutes past ten!—a shameful time of the morning for a gentleman's gentleman to be disturbed.—My Lord has lost his money, can't sleep himself, and won't suffer others to take their natural rest.

SCENE II. LAPELLE, Mrs. PINUP, from Lady Morden's dressing-room.

Mrs. Pinup.

I declare, upon my honour, this is a most monstrous time of night for a lady's [Page 2] gentlewoman to be kept up; dozing over a dull novel, or nodding in an antichamber and an arm chair, while others are taking their pleasure, and losing their estates, among their friends.

Lapelle.

Good morrow, Mrs. Pinup.

Mrs. Pinup.

Good morrow, Mr. Lapelle! Good night, you mean.—I have not been in bed yet!

Lapelle.

No!

Mrs. Pinup.

That vile bedside bell!—They'll wear me haggard before I am old! Knew I should not rest long, so threw myself down in my clothes; and, just as I was got into a sound sleep, tingle, tingle, tingle; up I must get, to dress my lady, who, for my part, I be­lieve, never sleeps at all.

Lapelle.

Why, yes; your fashionable folks are a kind of ghosts, that walk of nights, and greatly trouble the repose of valets and lady's maids—and late hours, like white paint, are excellent promoters of crack'd complexions.

Mrs. Pinup.

I declare, upon my honour, I am as tired as—as—

Lapelle.

A hackney coach horse, on a rainy Sunday.

Mrs. Pinup.

Yes—and as drowsy as—

Lapelle.

An alderman at an oratorio—Your Lady had a deal of company at her rout—Was Sir Frederick Fashion there?

Mrs. Pinup.

To be sure.

Lapelle.

He is a prodigious favourite with your Lady, I think.

Mrs. Pinup.

Favourite!—There are strange doings in this world!—Staid I know not how long, after every body else was gone!

Lapelle.

What, alone, with your Lady?

Mrs. Pinup.

Alone, with my Lady!

Lapelle.
[Page 3]

Indeed!—Was Mrs. Modely at the rout?

Mrs. Pinup.

Yes—but don't ask me any questions; it's impossible I should say ten words more: I am talking in my sleep now.—When I get up, in the morning, that is, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I'll tell you all; so good night.

SCENE III.

Lapelle.

A wonderful change in a short time!—Lady Morden, young, handsome, and full of spirits, was, not a month ago, reserved in her conduct, fond of her husband, contented with home, and, indeed, a miraculous kind of ex­ception among wives of quality. Whereas, now, she has suddenly turned fantastical in dress, capricious in temper, free of speech, and, what we half-bred folks should call, light of carriage. She games with the women, coquettes with the men, and seems, in every respect, ambitious to become—a woman of fashion. As for my Lord—why—he is a man of fashion.

SCENE IV. GENERAL BURLAND, LAPELLE.

Gen. Burland.

Is your Lady up, Mr. Lapelle?

Lapelle.

Yes, Sir—I believe she has never been in bed.

Gen. Burland.

Who—what do you mean?

Lapelle.

My Lady had a rout last night.

Gen. Burland.

A rout—and never in bed? Im­possible!

Lapelle.

Yes! but it's very true, Sir.

Gen. Burland.
[Page 4]

Lady Morden! She whom, but a few weeks since, I left so singular, so eminent an example of simplicity, and purity of manners!

Lapelle.

Sir Frederick Fashion was here.

Gen. Burland.

Sir Frederick Fashion!

Lapelle.

He staid after every body else had re­tired.

Gen. Burland.

What! alone, with Lady Morden?

Lapelle.

So her Ladyship's woman, who is scarcely yet undressed, informed me.

Gen. Burland.
[after a pause of astonishment]

Why, then, all hopes of goodness, in this world, are vanished!—Go—bid my daughter, my Emily, come to me.

Lapelle.

She is not stirring, I fancy, Sir.

Gen. Burland.

But I fancy she is, Sir; I am sure she is.—What, Sir, she had not a rout, to keep her up all night!

Lapelle.

She was of my Lady's party, I believe, Sir.

Gen. Burland.
[after a pause of great anxiety]

Go—go—pray, go, and do as I bid you.

SCENE V.

Gen. Burland.

What will this town, this world, come to! The only perfectly amiable, the only enchantingly virtuous woman I knew, fasci­nated at last, and sinking into the gulph of depravity!—She will drag down my Emily too!—No! I'll hide her in a forest, seclude her in a cave, rather than suffer her to be infected by the pestiferous breath of this contagious town.—But is she not already tainted?—Of my Lady's party!—She that I left her with as a pattern, [Page 5] commanded her to observe, to study, to imitate, in all things!

SCENE VI. GENERAL BURLAND, LAPELLE.

Gen. Burland.

Well, where is my daughter?

Lapelle.

I have called her woman, and she will call Miss Emily.

Gen. Burland.

I'll call her myself—and it shall be the most ungentle call she has long heard from me.

SCENE VII. LAPELLE, HARRIET, in the dress of a Croat.

Lapelle.

Who comes here? Some foreign shar­per, I dare say—One of my Lord's morning duns for last night's debts.

Harriet.
[with the brogue]

Hark you, young man; may I be asking you where I will find my Lord Morden?

Lapelle.

He is not come down, Sir.

Harriet.

Oh, that, I suppose, is becase he is not up.

Lapelle.

My Lord told me he expected a gentleman, or two, would call—but he has had so many calls lately—

Harriet.

That he is a little slow in answering?

Lapelle.

Rather—Riches, regularity, and roast beef, will soon, I fear, take their leave of our house.

Harriet.

Faidth, and that may viry will be; for they are all three become great vagabonds. Riches is turned Amirican pedlar, Regularity a Prussian grenadier, and as for Roast Beef, why, the Frinch are now so fond of good ould Eng­lish [Page 6] fashions, that poor Roast Beef is transported alive to Paris.

Lapelle.

My Lord, I believe, is a little out of cash, at present.

Harriet.

Will, now, that is viry prudent of him to put it out: for, whin a man finds he can't keep his cash himself, he is viry right to lit odther people keep it for him.

Lapelle.

Nay, then, I don't know a more care­ful gentleman.

Harriet.

Careful? Why, sure, always whin a a man of spirit begins to take care of his money, 'tis becase he has none.

Lapelle.

Well, Sir, if you will please to leave your card, his Lordship, I suppose, will know who has called.

Harriet.

Indeed and he won't.

Lapelle.

How so, pray, Sir?

Harriet.

Faidth, for a viry good raison—He niver saw me in his life.

Lapelle.

Who then shall I say?—

Harriet.

And is it my name you would know?

Lapelle.

If you please.

Harriet.

Let me see—What the white divle is my name now?—Oh!—Char-les Phelim O'Fire­away; an Irishman by accident, a gintleman by policy, and a captain of Croats, in the Austrian sarvis, by design.—Do you understand that riddle now?

Lapelle.

Not clearly.

Harriet.

I did not intind you should—What time can I see my Lord?

Lapelle.

Most likely, about one.

Harriet.

Will, then, give him this litter, and inform his Lordship I will take the liberty of calling, this afternoon, to bid him a good-mor­row.

SCENE VIII. LAPELLE, LORD MORDEN.

Lord Morden.
[in his morning gown and slippers, and calling as he enters]

Lapelle!

Lapelle.

So! here he comes, already.

[an­swering]

My Lord.

Lord Morden.

What time is it?

Lapelle.

Eleven o'clock, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

What a damn'd night have I passed!—Is my coffee ready?

Lapelle.

I'll go and see, my Lord.

SCENE IX. LORD MORDEN.

[Throws himself on the sofa]

This head ache!—No rest!—Oh for half an hour's sleep!—A cursed silly course of life, mine!—But there is no ac­counting in the morning for the conduct of over-night.

SCENE X. LORD MORDEN, LAPELLE with coffee.

Lord Morden.

This is not half strong enough—get me some as strong as possible.—Any message?

[rises].
Lapelle.

This letter, my Lord.

SCENE XI. LORD MORDEN.

From Lady Westbrook, I see.

[reads]

‘Um—A young lady in disguise!—um—Will relate her own story!—um—um—Rely on your honour to keep her secret, and serve her cause! [Page 8] —Would have addressed myself to Lady Mor­den, but for reasons which you shall know hereafter!—’

SCENE XII. LORD MORDEN, LAPELLE, with more coffee.

Lord Morden.

Who brought this letter?

Lapelle.

An Irish gentleman, in a foreign dress.

Lord Morden.

A gentleman!

Lapelle.

Said he would call about one, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

Shew him into my room, and inform me the instant he comes.

Lapelle.

General Burland is here.

Lord Morden.
[aside]

General Burland! Zounds!

Lapelle.

Came to town late last night, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

Tell him I am come down.

SCENE XIII. LORD MORDEN.

Must not let him see the present temper of my mind—My guardian once, he is determined ne­ver to think me of age—I need not his reproof to increase my present chagrin; my own follies, and Lady Morden's unexpected, unaccountable reverse of conduct, are sufficient—He will lay it all to me; and, perhaps, with reason!—Heigho!—Here he comes—Really, one of these very prudent, plain-spoken friends is a very disagreeable person, in these our moments of folly.—Well, I must assume a cheerfulness I don't feel, and ward off his wisdom with raillery.

SCENE XIV. LORD MORDEN, GENERAL BURLAND.

Gen. Burland.

Good morrow, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

General, good morrow.

Gen. Burland.

You seem scarcely awake.

Lord Morden.
[stretching]

Slept ill—troubled with the night-mare.

Gen. Burland.

Your troubles, I am afraid, are rapidly increasing.

Lord Morden.

How so, General?

Gen. Burland.

Lady Morden had a rout, last night!

Lord Morden.

Oh! and forgot to send you a card, I suppose.—Is that my fault?

Gen. Burland.

You are merry, my Lord; but he who drinks poison, out of a frolic, will soon be glad to send for a physician, out of fear; and the chances are the doctor will come too late.

Lord Morden.

Trope and figure!

Gen. Burland.

My Lord! my Lord! this levity is unseasonable: blushes, and shame, would better become you.

Lord Morden.

Pff! They are out of fashion.

Gen. Burland.

Yes, you leave your friends to blush for your faults.

Lord Morden.

My friends are very good; nay, indeed, generous; for, were they but to spare a single blush for each of their own faults, they would have none to bestow on mine.

Gen. Burland.

Fie! The mirth of a mad-man is sport only to boys—I was your guardian, I wished to prove myself your friend. 'Twas I first discovered that, then, angelic woman who is, now, Lady Morden; I was the cause of her [Page 10] union with you; and I am, therefore, account­able to myself, to her, and to society, for her conduct.

Lord Morden.

That is, you are a kind of second-hand sponsor—Godfather-in-law, as it were.

Gen. Burland.

Very well, Sir! proceed! de­spise reproof! ridicule advice!

Lord Morden.

Nay, good doctor, you really wrong me; 'tis not the advice, but the physic, I hate—At least, I hate the form under which it is administered—But, pray, tell me; when last you saw Lady Morden, did you perceive any symptoms of that degeneracy, in her Lady­ship, you, now, complain so loudly of?

Gen. Burland.

None! I thought it impossible!

Lord Morden.

And is it not rather extraor­dinary, then, that my example should, so sud­denly, subdue what, within this month, seemed so invulnerable?

Gen. Burland.
[Great surprise and energy]

It is extraordinary, my Lord! most extraordinary! but not less true; and, had you any sense of your duty to yourself, your family, or society, the truth of it would make you tremble!

Lord Morden.

See how differently different people understand things! My acquaintance are, every day, wishing me joy of her Ladyship's re­formation; and telling me how surprisingly she has retrieved her character, in the world.

Gen. Burland.
[sarcastically]

And Sir Frederic Fashion, no doubt, among the rest!

Lord Morden.
[endeavouring to conceal his feelings]

Hem!—yes—yes. He is one of our very first men, you know; and he is quite in [Page 11] raptures with her—swears she was born to lead and outshine us all.

Gen. Burland.
[with continued irony]

The ap­probation of so great an adept must give you vast pleasure!

Lord Morden.

Hem!—a—infinite!—Not but this sudden change has, rather, surprised me.

Gen. Burland.

How so?

Lord Morden.

Just as you left town, her Lady­ship's melancholy seemed increasing—wandering over the house, like a perturbed spirit, as the play says, mournfully clanking her chains, and frightening the gentle smiles and pleasures from her, she seemed to way-lay me, and, with moving look, and melting eye, intreat compas­sion; till, egad, I, really, at last, began to pity her.

Gen. Burland.

You did!

Lord Morden.

Yes—But, suddenly forsaking the—penseroso, she broke in upon me, one morn­ing, and, with an air of levity and good hu­mour, and a small tincture of reproach, then, and there, read me a very pretty, wifelike, re­monstrance.

Gen. Burland.

To which you listened with a truly picktooth insensibility.

Lord Morden.

Yes—You know my way.

Gen. Burland.

And what was the subject of her discourse?

Lord Morden.

Why, chapter the first was a recapitulation of my agreeable follies, and her own perverse virtues.—She was no partaker in my pleasures—I had forgot every endearment—She was left to dine, sup, and sleep, by herself—I dined, supped, and slept, nobody knew where.—She more recluse than the abbess of a convent: [Page 12] I more uncertain than the price of stocks, or the place of prime minister.

Gen. Burland.
[with earnest concern]

And what did you say to this?

Lord Morden.
[aside]

I must face it out.

[aloud]

Say? What could I say to such a simple woman?

Gen. Burland.

You did not attempt to deny the charge, then?

Lord Morden.

What should I deny? 'Twas every syllable true; and every syllable in my praise.

Gen. Burland.
[sighs]

Humph!—Then you do not think, the sweets of affection ought, sometimes, to alleviate the bitterness of neglect.

Lord Morden.

Sweets! pshaw! they are too cloying to the stomach, and ought to be taken sparingly.—I am fond of sweet music, but too much of it sets me to sleep.—Besides, a wife, like a barrel organ, can only play one set of tunes.

Gen. Burland.
[sighs]

Well, Sir, but the conclusion?

Lord Morden.

A very unexpected one, I as­sure you—I misunderstood this for a declara­tion of war; and, with a smile, was very oblig­ingly about to intreat her Ladyship would hatch her melancholy into mischief her own way: when, turning short upon me, she curtsied, seemed abashed, began to apologize, applaud my conduct, ridicule the silliness of her own, and promised to become as fashionable a Lady as I, or any Lord in Christendom, could wish.

Gen. Burland.

Your increase of happiness is, then, prodigious?

Lord Morden.

Hem!—a—unspeakable.—Lady Morden, I own, was, certainly, a kind of— [Page 13] Demi-Angel, tho' my wife—but, then, her—her goodness seemed to throw one at such a distance—so much in the back ground that there was only one figure noticed in the picture!

Gen. Burland.

'Tis well, Sir, you are so per­fectly satisfied.

Lord Morden.

Nay, General, I will own, I have often felt a kind of inclination, a sort of wish, as it were, to become very prudent, and wise, and—and all that—but, really, one has so much to do that one does not know where to be­gin.—Besides, you very good kind of people, you—upon my honour, you are, in many re­spects, the most queer, precise, particular, species of beings, and have such strange notions!—In­stead of taking one's pleasure, and doing just what one likes best, which, you know, is so na­tural, one must live for the good of one's country, love one's wife and children, pay tradesmen, look over accounts, reward merit, and a thousand other of the—the most ridiculous whims—and what nobody, absolutely, nobody does.

Gen. Burland.

Intolerable profligacy!—I have listened to you, my Lord, with grief, vexation, astonishment, and pity!—Your mind is degraded; and the more dangerously so because you believe your worst vices to be your greatest merits! You have had honour, happiness, and pleasure, of the most perfect kind, within your power; and you have rejected them, to clasp their shadows! To merit pity by misconduct is humiliating; but, by misconduct to incur contempt is, to a manly spi­rit, insupportable; and the latter will, I fear, be suddenly your Lordship's fate. Did not the re­membrance of your noble father affect me, I should look upon your approaching punishment [Page 14] with apathy; because you wilfully have plunged to perdition: but, for your Lady, if I cannot retrieve, if I cannot save her, I shall mourn in­deed!

SCENE XV.

Lord Morden.

Faith, this good general is, like a cuckoo, always in a tune.

[sighs]

He has rea­son!—I have laboured to laugh at my own follies; but the farce is over, the forced jest forgot­ten, and the sorceress Recollection conjures up the ugly phantom Disgust!—Why, what a child am I!—Oh! Lady Morden—pshaw!—absurd!—I will not make myself the butt, and by-word, of my acquaintance—I—I—I will laugh—ha, ha, ha!—laugh at my Lady's gallantries.—I jealous!—I!—that have daily made jealousy a standing jest; the criterion of an ill-bred, vulgar, mind!—No, no, no.

[Sees Lady Morden, and Sir Frederic Fashion, coming; and is seized with a suspicious anxiety, which he endeavours to conceal.]

SCENE XVI. LORD MORDEN, LADY MORDEN, in an undress, SIR FREDERIC FASHION.

Lady Morden.
[entering]

No, no, Sir Frederic; you are partial.

Sir Frederic.

Not in the least, Madam.

Lady Morden.

Yes, you are—good morrow to your Lordship—yes, you are.—I feel, I still retain a leaven of former silly prejudices; but a little collision, among you people of superior fashion, will soon wear these asperities smooth, and bring them to bear a proper polish.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 15]

Ah! Madam, you have a leaven of something celestial; which we inferior people wonder at, but cannot imitate!

Lord Morden.
[aside]

So!

Lady Morden.
[taps Sir Frederic with her fan]

Fie! flatterer!—but you are always saying civil things; and that, I fancy, makes you so agree­able.

Sir Frederic.
[serious and ardent]

No, Lady Morden; you wrong me—my tongue is forced to give utterance to the effusions of my heart—By heaven, you are an angel! and I am, invo­luntarily, obliged to repeat, and repeat, and re­peat, that you are an angel!—You must not be angry with me, for I cannot help it.

Lady Morden.

No, no—angry! no—Tho', I really believe, I do improve—don't I, my Lord?

Lord Morden.

Certainly, Madam, certainly!

Lady Morden.

Yes—I have discovered that one of my most capital errors, formerly, was be­ing too sensible of my own defects.—I find that to wear, on one's countenance, an open, and avowed, consciousness that one possesses every grace and perfection, is the grand secret of really possessing them: or, at least, of persuading the world one really does, which is the same thing.

Sir Frederic.

Your Ladyship is very right; nothing can put a face of real fashion out of countenance: the placid features are all fixed.

Lady Morden.

Oh, immoveable!—Like the owner's names, cut in brass and nailed to their doors.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! Charming!

Lady Morden.

Do but observe one of our well-bred beaus, at a public assembly, and you will see him enter, plant himself in a spot, elevate [Page 16] his eye-brows, fix his eyes, half open his mouth, and stand like an automaton, with its head turn­ing on a pivot.

[mimicks the manner.]
Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! Charming! Charming!

Lord Morden.
[smiling]

But, don't you think this a little tending to the ridiculous, Madam?

Lady Morden.

Oh dear, no!—Nothing can be ridiculous that's fashionable.

Sir Frederic.

Oh, no, impossible!

Lady Morden.

Formerly, I should have blushed if stared at; but, now, I find, the only way is to stare again—without looking—that is, without betraying the least indication of knowing whether one is looking towards the man, or the wall—thus.

Lord Morden.
[with forced pleasantry]

Ha, ha, ha! your Ladyship is very right: modesty—modesty is an obsolete bugbear.

Lady Morden.

Yes, and, like the—the ghost in the tragedy, has been stared out of doors.

Sir Frederic.

Oh, the very quakers despise it, at present.

Lady Morden.

Yes—'tis a shabby fellow, whose acquaintance every body wishes to drop.—To be sure, I was a most absurd creature: was not I, my Lord?

Lord Morden.

I—upon my honour, Madam—I—you—no—no—not absurd—no.

Lady Morden.

Oh fie—not absurd—why, do you know, Sir Frederic—ha! ha! ha!—I—ha! ha! ha! I was, downright, in love with his Lordship.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! in love with his Lordship?

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! upon my honour, 'tis true!—is it not, my Lord?

Lord Morden.
[Page 17]

Ha, ha, ha!—ye—ye—yes—Madam, yes.

Lady Morden.

Thought him the most charm­ing man in—in—in the whole world!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! Is that possible?

Lady Morden.

Why, it—it is scarcely credible!—But—but such is the fact—Nay! I doated on him—and continually reproached myself, for wanting power, and attractions, to obtain my Lord's affection!—For I never blamed him—Ha, ha, ha!—I—ha, ha, ha!—I used to sit whole nights, while my Lord was out, watching and weeping; and whole days studying which way I could regain his love!

Sir Frederic.

Regain, Lady Morden!—Why, was his Lordship ever so unfashionable as—as—?

Lady Morden.

As to love his wife—Why, yes, really—I—I do believe he was so singular, for—for a whole fortnight.

Sir Frederic.

Why! ha, ha, ha! Why, were you, Lord Morden?

Lord Morden.
[forcing a laugh]

Ha, ha, ha!—I—I—

[with a little spleen]

I don't know, Sir, what I was.

Lady Morden.

Nay, don't be out of counte­nance, my Lord! You hear, I have the justice to relate my own foibles, as well as your Lordship's—and mine—mine were infinitely the greatest.—It is exceedingly strange, but, so—fascinated—was I that, ha, ha, ha!—I—ha, ha, ha!

[suddenly becoming very serious]

—I am verily persuaded, I could have died, with pleasure, to have insured his affection.

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha!—

[aside, and turning away]

I cannot bear it.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 18]

Ha, ha, ha! These things are unaccountable.

Lady Morden.
[resuming her levity]

Ay, one wonders how one could be so weak!—Oh, Sir Frederic! I am going to Christie's. There is a painting I have a mind to purchase. They tell me 'tis very fine.

Sir Frederic.

What is the story, Madam?

Lady Morden.

The Metamorphosis of Actaeon.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! A fashionable subject.

Lady Morden.

Yes—that—tha—that is the very reason I wish to have it.—Poor Actaeon is taken at the precise moment when the—the change is taking place.

Sir Frederic.

In his forehead?

Lady Morden.

Yes. I am going down there, now; will you go with me, Sir Frederic?

Sir Frederic.

With pleasure, Madam—Ha, ha, ha! poor Actaeon!

Lady Morden.

Ay, poor Actaeon!—Adieu, my Lord.

SCENE XVII.

Lord Morden.

Madam!

[following, stops short]

'Sdeath! what am I about? Shall I, at last, sink into one of the vulgar; and become jealous?—Wretched about a—oh, no! Actaeon!

[striking his forehead]

Sure all men are ideots, and never know the value of that most inestimable jewel, a lovely and a loyal wife, till in danger of having it purloined.

[Lord Morden retires into his dressing-room].
END OF THE FIRST ACT.

ACT II.

SCENE I. LAPELLE (coming from the door of the antichamber, as if he had been listening).

SO, Mr. Irishman, by accident! A lady, in disguise! That's the riddle, is it?—But, hush!

SCENE II. LORD MORDEN, dressed, HAR­RIET, (from the antichamber.)

Lord Morden
[to Lapelle.]

Leave the room—I am sorry we were disturbed; your story, Ma­dam, has interested me deeply: though too re­prehensible for the irregularities of my own con­duct, I cannot but condemn the licentious liber­tinism of this Sir Frederic—Indeed, I—I have reason, perhaps, to dread it.

Harriet.

A man of honour, among men, the ruin of woman he thinks as necessary to his fame as to his pleasure; and, like too many others of your cruel sex, holds it no crime to make war upon those who cannot defend themselves.

Lord Morden.

But what do you propose, by this disguise, Madam?

Harriet.

There is a contract, which I, in­deed, refused, but which he forced upon me, to demonstrate, as he said, the purity of his inten­tions, [Page 20] wherein he bound himself, in a penalty of ten thousand pounds, to marry me within a month: for, in his fictitious raptures, he protested no sum, no proofs, could sufficiently express the ardour, and sanctity, of his affection.

Lord Morden.

And have you this contract?

Harriet.

Oh, no! The day preceding that on which it was my good fortune to discover his real designs, he asked to see, and artfully ex­changed it, for a counterfeit copy.

Lord Morden.

This contract you wish to re­gain?

Harriet.

If possible; or some other unequi­vocal means of detection.

Lord Morden.

And force him to marry you?

Harriet.

Oh, no—To own the truth, I have a generous and a constant lover, who, perhaps, has been a little ill used.

Lord Morden.

As most generous and con­stant lovers are.

Harriet.

'Tis too true.—To avenge him, and humble the pride of one who thinks himself too cunning for our whole sex, is my determination.

Lord Morden.

Well, Madam, ours is a com­mon cause—But, as we have both been impru­dent, and invited misfortune, we must both en­deavour to conceal our true feelings, mask our suspicions, and—Hush! Here he comes; and with him a lady, whose principles are as free as his own; but who has had the art so well to con­ceal her intrigues, and preserve appearances, that she is every where received in society.—I will introduce you, in your assumed character.

Harriet.

Not now; let us withdraw—when he is alone. The fewer eyes are on me, the less liable I shall be to a discovery.

[Page 21] (Lord Morden and Harriet return to the antichamber just as Mrs. Modely and Sir Frederic appear.)

SCENE III. MRS. MODELY and SIR FREDERIC.

Mrs. Modely.

Really, Sir Frederic, there is no accounting for the strangeness of your present taste!—I pity you!—I foresee the downfall of your reputation!—What, you! who have van­quished so many elegant coquettes, and driven so many happy lovers mad; you! who were the very soul of our first societies, and whose pre­sence made palpitate the hearts of belles and beaux; the first with hope and delight, the latter with fear and envy; you! sighing at the feet of a prude, and become the rival of a husband!

Sir Frederic.
[laughing]

Deplorable!

Mrs. Modely.

Have not you, for this month past, buried yourself in Lady Morden's sober so­ciety, and dozed over crown whist with her, night after night?—Nay, have not you attended her even to church; and, there, with a twang, joined the amen chorus of charity-children, pau­pers, and parish-clerks; sitting with your face drawn as long as its shadow at sun-set; and a look as demure and dismal—

Sir Frederic.

As poor Doctor Faustus, waiting for the Devil to come and fetch him—Ha, ha, ha!—Granted.

Mrs. Modely.

And what do you think has been said of you, mean while, in the polite circles you have abandoned?—Your very best friends have been the very first to condemn you.

Sir Frederic.

That's natural—When we are guilty of any folly, our very best friends are al­ways [Page 22] the very first to condemn us; to shew they neither advise nor countenance us.

Mrs. Modely.

I thought the gay, young, beauty, besieged by pleasures, surrounded by flatteries, who believes herself the goddess she is painted, to fix her wandering fancy, to humble and bring her to a sense of frailty; or, to sup­plant the happy, the adored, lover, while yet the breath is warm that vows eternal constancy; these, I imagined, were the only atchievements worthy Sir Frederic Fashion!

Sir Frederic.

These have their eclat. But, to initiate a youthful, beauteous, wife, who, from her childhood, has been accustomed to say her prayers, believe in virtue, and rank conjugal in­fidelity among the most heinous of the seven deadly sins; to teach her to doubt, fear, wish, tremble, and venture; to be a witness, after­ward, of her repentance; her tears involuntarily falling, her eyes motionless, her form fixed, and the severe saint transformed to a statue of weeping sin; to read her fall in the public papers; be praised, reproached, admired, and curst, in every family in England; in short, to be for ever im­mortalized, in the annals of gallantry, and the hero of the tea-table for a whole month, for this will be no common vulgar wonder, this were glory equal to my ambition! And this glory I am determined to acquire: nay, it is, already, within my grasp.—This day, or, rather, this night, this very, blessed, ecstatic, night, shall I gain the greatest of all my victories!

Mrs. Modely.

Insulting!

Sir Frederic.

Nay, my dear Mrs. Modely, you know my enthusiasin, and must not take excep­tions—Nor can I, surely, be blamed. Lady [Page 23] Morden is a concealed hoard of native sweets, that delights the senses: while the made-up beau­ties we commonly meet, like artificial flowers, are all shew, and no fragrance.

Mrs. Modely,

Raptures!

Sir Frederic.

Inferior to her, in form and per­fection, as the Venus of a Dutch image-hawker to the genuine Grecian Antique!

Mrs. Modely.

It matters not wasting your rhe­toric on this topic; for I will not give my consent to your pursuing this affair any further, Sir Fre­deric.

Sir Frederic.

You will not?

Mrs. Modely.

I will not.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! Don't provoke me, my dear Mrs. Modely; don't provoke me.

Mrs. Modely.

Nay, no threatening.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!—Well—To arms then—War is the word.

Mrs. Modely.

The choice remains with you.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!

Mrs. Modely.

Lady Morden is my relation; and, though I despise prudery, and know the world—

Sir Frederic
[aside.]

That you do, indeed!

Mrs. Modely.

Yet—you can hardly suppose I will silently acquiesce in her ruin!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! You—you forget yourself, dear Madam—These qualms would do vastly well, in some places; but, to me!—

Mrs. Modely.

And why not to you, Sir!—Though I do allow myself a little liberty of con­science—

Sir Frederic.

Not a little.

[aside.]
Mrs. Modely.

And though you—you—know I do, must I—In short, I have another favourite [Page 24] project, which I am determined not to give up.

Sir Frederic
[aside.]

Oh ho! But it will be best to avoid a rupture.—

[aloud]

May I ask what this favourite project may be?

Mrs. Modely.

You know the public affront General Burland gave me, last winter; and you cannot suppose I have forgotten it.

Sir Frederic
[aside.]

No; I know you better.—

[aloud]

Oh! the General is an eccentric mortal; licensed to say any thing; and, instead of being listened to, is laughed at.

Mrs. Modely.

Yes; but I am determined he shall be punished.

Sir Frederic.

Which way?

Mrs. Modely.

His daughter, Emily, is a pretty, simple, girl—I mean, untutored, in the world.

Sir Frederic.
[conceiving her design]

True!

Mrs. Modely.

To see her married to a man of fashion would, at least, break his heart.

Sir Frederic.
[laughs]

Infallibly!

Mrs. Modely.

Your fortune, I believe, Sir Frederic, like your family seat, begins to want repairs; and she is a rich heiress, with twenty thousand pounds at her own disposal, beside the General's estate, which must be hers—Why do you laugh so?

Sir Frederic.

Oh! the delights of anticipation!

Mrs. Modely.

An—an—anticipation!

Sir Frederic.
[still laughing]

It is a part of my plan to carry her off, I mean, to let her carry me off, this very night.

Mrs. Modely.

Who? Emily?

Sir Frederic.

Emily.

Mrs. Modely.

To night!

Sir Frederic.
[Page 25]

This active, this important, this blissful, night!

Mrs. Modely.

Lend me your eau de luce, you divle!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!—This surprise from you, Mrs. Modely, is the supreme of pane­gyric.

Mrs. Modely.

And have you made any ad­vances to Emily?

Sir Frederic.

Yes, yes—Ha, ha, ha!—I made advances to her, and she made advances to me—The conquest was too easy—Were it not for the circumstance of the elopement, which will give the sauce a flavour the food wants, it would scarcely invite my appetite.

Mrs. Modely.

But Lady Morden—

Sir Frederic.

Is mine, whenever I please to make my final attack. I am no bad orator, in general; but, in company with her, I seem in­spired—am, absolutely, astonished at my own eloquence!—Nay, I have several times spoken with such energy, enthusiasm, and momentary conviction, in praise of virtue, that I have, actu­ally, been in imminent danger of making a con­vert of myself!

Mrs. Modely.

In praise of virtue?

Sir Frederic.

In praise of virtue. There is no making one of these virtuous visionaries rational, but by flattering their bigotry, and pretending to adore their idol; by pursuing which method, I have inured her to, and made her as familiar with, what is prudishly called vice, and vicious sentiments, as she is with her own thoughts.

Mrs. Modely.

Yes, yes, vile rake: but, re­member, I'll have no concern in this affair!—I—

Sir Frederic.

Oh, poh! Ay, ay, that is un­derstood—You [Page 26] wink—and know nothing of the matter.

Mrs. Modely.

Nay, but I, here, publicly pro­test against your proceedings!

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

And will privately do your utmost to promote them.

Mrs. Modely.

I exclaim against such licen­tiousness!

Sir Frederic.

I know you do—But, if you are thus tender of her Ladyship's reputation, you will feel no repugnance at assisting me to irritate hi [...] Lordship's sensibility.

Mrs. Modely.

What do you mean?

Sir Frederic.

To confess the truth, I am a lit­tle piqued at Lord Morden's want of feeling—I wish I could make him jealous.

Mrs. Modely.

Jealous! Fie! He is too well bred.

Sir Frederic.

That's unfortunate.—The antics of a jealous husband add highly to the enjoy­ment, as well as the reputation, of an amour.—The poor man is so injured, so enraged, so dis­tressed, so industrious to publish his calamity, and is so sincerely pitied, and laughed at—must, positively, rouse my Lord to a sense of his mis­fortune; or it will want poignancy—A turtle feast without French wines!

Mrs. Modely.

Well, should I find any oppor­tunity of aiding you—

Sir Frederic.

Ay, ay; I have no doubt of your zeal in the cause.

Mrs. Modely.

Nay, but, don't mistake me—I only mean as far as teazing his Lordship is con­cerned.

Sir Frederic.

Oh! Certainly—certainly.

Mrs. Modely.

If his Lordship had any real [Page 27] cause for jealousy, I should, for Lady Morden's ake, be the—the—the—the—the most miserable creature upon earth.

Sir Frederic.

To be sure.

Mrs. Modely.

But you seem mighty secure of your conquest.

Sir Frederic.

I am no novice; I can tell when a woman's time is come.—Besides, her Ladyship has granted me a rendezvous.

Mrs. Modely.

When?

Sir Frederic.

Why, this very evening, to be sure.

Mrs. Modely.

Where?

Sir Frederic.

Here, in this very house.

Mrs. Modely.

Since you are so very certain, how came you not to take advantage of being alone with her, after the rout?

Sir Frederic.

I did: that is, should have done, had we not been interrupted.

Mrs. Modely.

By whom?

Sir Frederic.

A new footman—an odd kind of—Oh! here the very fellow comes.

SCENE IV. MRS. MODELY, SIR FREDERIC, GABRIEL, loitering and leering.

Mrs. Modely.

What does the rude lout peer at?

Sir Frederic.

Country curiosity.

Gabriel.
[attempting to go once or twice, then pausing and turning back]

Did—did—did your Ladyship's honour call?

Mrs. Modely.

No.

Gabriel.
[again going and turning]

I—I thought, mayhap, you wanted my Lord.

Mrs. Modely.

What should I want your Lord for, think you, friend?

Gabriel.
[Page 28]

Nay, marry, that's more nur I can tell.

Sir Frederic.

What is your name?

Gabriel.

Gabriel, an't please you.—In my last place, they used to call me the Sly Simpleton.

Mrs. Modely.

And who did you live with last?

Gabriel.

Why, you an heard of my Lady's brother, the rich nabob, that be just come over fro' th' Eastern Indies?

Sir Frederic.

Mr. Wilmot?

Gabriel.

Ees.—I do come fro' his estate, out o' Staffordshire.

Sir Frederic.

You are part of the live stock?

Gabriel.

Anon!

Mrs. Modely.

Were you in his service?

Gabriel.
[hesitates]

N—E—Ees.

Mrs. Modely.

How long?

Gabriel.

Better nur a week.

Sir Frederic.

What sort of a man is he?

Gabriel.

Humph!—A be well enough, when a's pleased—tho' I canno' say as I do like him much, for a measter.

Mrs. Modely.

Why so?

Gabriel.

Because a'l neither let a servant tell lies nur take money.

Sir Frederic.

Indeed!

Gabriel.

No—A'wonnot—whereof, here, I find, I canno' please my Lady, if I donna tell lies; and, I am sure, I canno' please myself, if I donna take money.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!

Mrs. Modely.

Ha, ha, ha! So, he did not suit you?

Gabriel.

No.—A's too high flown, as 'twere, in's notions—

Sir Frederic.

Which way?

Gabriel.
[Page 29]

A makes a great case o' what a calls friendship, and honour, and honesty, and such like; and, you know, if a poor sarvant gis heed to that there sort o'stuff—a's not likely to get rich.

Mrs. Modely.

Upon my word!

Sir Frederic.

So Mr. Wilmot's head is full of such nonsense, is it?

Gabriel.

Oh! a's brimful of such nonsense—and so were I, while I lived wi' he; which wur the reason, as I do suppose, that they called me a Simpleton—but I am not so simple as folk think me.

Sir Frederic.
[aside to Mrs. Modely]

My dear Mrs. Modely, leave me, for a moment, with this fellow.—You'll be upon the watch, to throw in any hints, or aids, you happen to see necessary, and apropos?

Mrs. Modely.

Yes, yes—that is, for Emily, and the elopement—but, be cautious; a defeat would turn the tables upon us, and make us the jest of the whole town, friends and enemies.

Sir Frederic.

How can you fear it?

Mrs. Modely.

Nay, I do not; I know my sex, and I know you.

SCENE V. SIR FREDERIC, GABRIEL.

Sir Frederic.

Gabriel is your name, you say?

Gabriel.

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

You seem a sharp kind of fellow, and one that understands his own interest.

Gabriel.

Ees—I understand my own interest.

Sir Frederic.

Are you, if occasion should offer, willing to do me a piece of service?

Gabriel.

Humph!—What will you gi' me?

Sir Frederic.
[Page 30]

I see you are a sensible fellow▪ and come to the point, at once.

Gabriel.

Ees.—I love to come to the point.

Sir Frederic.

And you would not betray me, to any body?

Gabriel.

Why—not unless somebody were to pay me better.

Sir Frederic.

Upon my honour, thou art the honestest rogue I ever met with.

Gabriel.

Ees—that I be.

Sir Frederic.

Here—here is money for thee—and, observe, as thou seemest perfectly to under­stand a bargain, thou shalt have more, in pro­portion to thy fidelity and capacity; and, more­over—Canst thou read and write?

Gabriel.

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

Well, then, be faithful, and I will get thee a place in the excise—And, now, observe—I—I have a—very great respect—and friendship for your Lady.

Gabriel.

Ees, ees—As we sen ith' country, you have more nur a month's mind to her.

Sir Frederic.

How, sirrah!—Dare you suppose I have?—

Gabriel.

Nay, now, belike, you think me a simpleton too!—Your great folk supposen a sarvant has neither ears nor eyes—But, lord, they are mistaken!—Ecod, their ears are often plaguy long.—What, mun, I wur no' so fast asleep as you thought me, i' the passage, this morning.

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

The rascal!

Gabriel.

Belike, becase I be a country lad, you reckon I should think it strange, like, that one gentleman should teak a liking to another gentleman's wife; but, lord, I know, well [Page 31] enough, that's nought, here—I ha' learned a little o' what's what—

Sir Frederic.

Nay, friend Gabriel, I am more and more convinced, thou art a clever, acute, fellow.

Gabriel.

Lord, mun, your worship need no' be so shy, like—You do know, you ha' pro­mised me a place—an places that are no' bought one way—mun be bought another.

Sir Frederic.

Well said, friend Gabriel.

Gabriel.

An, as for keeping o' family secrets, donno' you fear me; becase why, I do find they be a sarvant's best parkizites—For, an it wur na for family secrets, how should so many poor coun­try Johns so very soon become gentlemen?

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

This fellow's thoughts run all in one channel; his ruling passion is money; the love of that sharpens his intellects, and opens his eyes and ears.—Well, Gabriel, you shall find me generous as a Prince, provided—Here's somebody coming—go into the next room; I'll speak with you presently.

Gabriel.

Ees.—But I do hope your honour's worship wunna forget the place, like?

Sir Frederic.

Never fear.

[Gabriel goes into Lady Morden's dressing Room.]

SCENE VI. SIR FREDERIC, EMILY.

Sir Frederic.

My angel! My life!—

Emily.

Hush!—My papa is coming, and wants to take me away with him, home.

Sir Frederic.

Away!

Emily.

Yes—hush—take no notice.

SCENE VII. GENERAL BURLAND, SIR FREDERIC, EMILY.

Gen. Burland.

Come, Emily; are you ready?

Emily.
[Page 32]

I am always ready, and happy, to obey my dear papa; but, surely, Sir, you will not let me leave Lady Morden, without so much as bid­ding her adieu?

Gen. Burland.

I'll write a card of thanks to her Ladyship, with your respects, and as many compliments as you please.

Emily.

Nay, but, dear Sir, consider—it will seem too abrupt. Lady Morden is so good, so kind—I would not give her a moment's pain for the world.—Besides, I have so many obligations to her Ladyship.

Gen. Burland.

I begin to be afraid, child, left you should have too many obligations to her Ladyship.

Emily.

Let me only stay to-night, and to-morrow morning I will go, with all my heart, and as early as you please, if you desire me.

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

I protest she is bantering him!—Oh! the charming malicious little angel!

[aloud]

—Ay, General, let Emily stay to-night; I will answer for her, she will go to-morrow morning, as soon as you please, if you desire her.

Gen. Burland.

You will answer for her!—

Sir Frederic.

Yes—Won't you permit me, Emily?

Emily.
[curtsies]

My dear papa knows I never attempt to break my word.

Gen. Burland.

Yes, my child; I do know, you have, hitherto, been unspotted, and pure, as the morn blown lily; and my anxiety that you should remain so makes me thus desirous of your quitting this house.—When I brought you here, these doors did not, so easily, fly open, at [Page 33] the approach of such fine, such accomplished, gentlemen as Sir Frederic Fashion.

Sir Frederic.
[with vast pleasure]

By heavens, he anticipates his misfortunes!

[aside]
Emily.
[takes the General's hand]

Do, my dear papa, consent only for to-day; I don't ask any longer.

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

I could hug the charming hypocrite!

Gen. Burland.

Well, well, Emmy; you know, I never deny you any thing: for, indeed, you never yet asked any thing that could give the most anxious and affectionate father a moment's pain.

Emily.
[kisses his hand]

I thank you, dear, dear Sir; you have made me happy.

Sir Frederic.

By my life, I shall find this a much more agreeable affair than I hoped!—Yes, General—you—you are a very good papa.

Gen. Burland.

You think so?

Sir Frederic.

Yes—I do, upon my soul.

Gen. Burland.

Then I am what you, I am afraid, will never be.

SCENE VIII. SIR FREDERIC.

Ha, ha, ha! He does not suspect we are so soon to be so nearly related—Ha, ha, ha! I should like to be present when he first hears the news—He—he will foam and bounce like a cork from a bottle of champaigne.

SCENE IX. SIR FREDERIC, LORD MORDEN, from the Anti-chamber.

Lord Morden.

Well, Sir Frederic, is her Ladyship returned?

Sir Frederic.
[Page 34]

Yes; she is dressing for dinner.—She bought the Actaeon.

Lord Morden.

She did?

Sir Frederic.

Oh, yes.—She is a charming wo­man!—the eyes of the whole room were upon her. There were some smart things said—One ob­served a likeness between me and Actaeon; another thought it bore a far greater resemblance to your Lordship.

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! About the head, no doubt?

Sir Frederic.

For my part, I said, I thought the likeness was very capable of being improved.

Lord Morden.

You were very kind.

Sir Frederic.

Oh, pray, have you heard that Sir Peter Pry is going to sue for a bill of divorce?

Lord Morden.

No.

Sir Frederic.

'Tis very true. I should not have suspected Sir Peter of such vulgar revenge; but, I find, our married men of fashion are far less liberal in their sentiments than the Ladies.

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Yes; they often want a woman's philosophy in these matters.

Sir Frederic.

Yes—they are wasps, that fly and feed wherever they can find honey, but retain a sting for any marauder that shall approach their nests.

Lord Morden.

Somewhat selfish, I own.

Sir Frederic.

Much more liable to be jealous than the women—and jealousy, your Lordship knows, is the most ridiculous, ill-bred, con­temptible thing in nature!

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Yes, yes—ha, ha, ha! Perfectly despicable.

Sir Frederic.

Oh, nothing so laughable as the [Page 35] vagaries of a jealous husband: no creature suf­fers so much, or is pitied so little.

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Ay—the thefts of love are applauded, not punished.

Sir Frederic.

Yes, and the poor robb'd hus­band, watchman like, twirls his rattle, alarms the neighbourhood, and collects assistants, who never fail to aid the thief, and laugh at him and his loss.

Lord Morden.

Ye—ye—yes. Ha, ha, ha!—A husband is a very strange, ignominious animal.

Sir Frederic.

A jealous husband!

Lord Morden.

A paltry, mechanical—

Sir Frederic.

Without an idea of life, or manners!

Lord Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Very true—But, come with me; there's a young gentleman, in the anti-chamber, of a good family, who wishes to be introduced to you—A very pretty fellow—Has an ambition to do something which shall give him eclat, and is, therefore, desirous of being known to us men of the world.

Sir Frederic.

Well! I am yours for a few minutes; but I must attend Lady Morden at her toilette, presently.

END OF THE SECOND ACT.

ACT III.

SCENE I. GENERAL BURLAND, LORD MORDEN, meeting: GABRIEL introduces GENE­RAL BURLAND.

Gen. Burl.

WELL, my Lord, is Lady Morden to be seen?

Gabriel.

Oh! Ees, your worship, hur will be, anon; for yonder is Sir Frederic, helping the maid to dress her ladyship.

Gen. Burland.

Helping to dress her Ladyship?

Gabriel.

Ees—They sent me for some milk of roses, here—

[shewing the phial]

and, would you believe it, I wur sich an oaf, I had never heard, before, that roses gave milk.

Gen. Burland.

Ah!—You are some half-taught country booby.

Gabriel.

Why, so I do find; for, in the coun­try, the folk do only clear-starch their aprons and ruffles; but, here, ecod, they clear-starch their faces.

Gen. Burland.

Well, go, carry in your milk; and inform her Ladyship I am waiting her lei­sure—

[laughing within]
Gabriel.

Ecod, here they all come, your ho­nour; and rare and merry they be. But you [...] Londoneers do lead a rare, ranting, life!

SCENE II. GENERAL BURLAND, LORD MORDEN, SIR FREDERIC, LADY MORDEN, MRS. MODELY. The three last from Lady Morden's Dressing-Room, laughing.

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha!—Oh! You whim­sical toad! You—Ha, ha, ha!—You have half-killed me!—I am glad to see you in town, Ge­neral—We have been drawing the characters of our acquaintance, and Mrs. Modely, and Sir Frederic Fashion, have been so droll, and so sa­tirical!

Gen. Burland.

Ah! No doubt.

Lady Morden.

I could not have thought there was so much satisfaction in remembering the failings of one's friends.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh! It makes one so cheerful!

Sir Frederic.

And keeps one so charmingly in countenance!

Gen. Burland.
[aside.]

Which you stand in very great need of.

Sir Frederic.

I assure your Ladyship, you have an exquisite turn for satire; you cut with excessive keenness; and, yet, with a dexterity that makes the very patient tingle with pleasure.

Lady Morden.

You are partial, ‘A little more experience will make these things quite familiar; but habit only can give one perfect ease.’

Sir Frederic.

‘Oh! Habit—Habit is a won­derful thing!—Have you heard the anecdote of the Newmarket-Jockey?’

Lady Morden.
[Page 38]

‘No; what is it?’

Sir Frederic.

‘Why, a Jockey, having had a bad run at the last October meeting, was wil­ling to correct the errors of Fortune by turning his lead to gold; accordingly, on Epping Forest, he stopped Major Warboys, and bade him deliver; to which the Major, being one of those singular officers who think it some dis­grace to be robb'd, replied by firing his pistol—The ball happened to be fatal—the horse set off—and, to shew the effect of habit, the body of the Jockey kept its seat as far as the stable door, and there deliberately tumbled off; nay, some go so far as to assert it was seen to rise in the stirrups; but that, I believe, wants con­firmation.’

Lord Morden.

‘Ha, ha, ha!’

Mrs. Modely.

‘Ha, ha, ha!’

Lady Morden.

‘Pshaw! You tragi-comic wretch!’

Lord Morden.

I think you had not much com­pany last night.

Lady Morden.

Your Lordship was so well bred, and made your visit so short, else you would have found a great deal.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh, yes, they poured in, from all quarters.

Sir Frederic.

Sir Nathan Neaptide, the yellow admiral, came.

Lord Morden.

An agreeable guest!

Mrs. Modely.

Oh! rude as his own boatswain.

Sir Frederic.

‘Would teach a starling blas­phemy, rather than want good conversation.—’

Lady Morden.

‘He attempts satire.’

Lord Morden.

‘But utters abuse.’

Mrs. Modely.
[Page 39]

That makes him so much re­spected.

Lady Morden.

Yes; like a chimney-sweeper in a crowd, he makes his way by being dirty.

Sir Frederic.

I protest, your Ladyship is pro­digiously brilliant to-day!

Lady Morden.

No, no—Though I am a vast admirer of wit. A person of wit has one very pe­culiar, and enviable, advantage.

Lord Morden.

What is that, madam?

Lady Morden.

Long life.

Lord Morden.

Long life!

Lady Morden.

Yes. A wit has more ideas, consequently lives longer, in one hour than a fool in seven years.

Sir Frederic.

For which reason, your Ladyship is, already, three times the age of old Par.

Lady Morden.

Dear, Sir Frederic, that is so gallant.

Mrs. Modely.

And so new.

Gen. Burland.

Why, yes—This is the first time I ever heard a Lady told she was old, and re­ceive it as a compliment!

Lord Morden.

But, your visitors—Who had you next?

Mrs. Modely.

There was Sir Jeremy Still-life.

Lady Morden.
[mimics]

And his bouquet. He primmed himself up in one corner, and seemed to think that, like the image of a Saint on a holy­day, he was powdered and painted on purpose to be adored.

Mrs. Modely.

He was not singular in that.

Lady Morden.

Oh, no; there was a whole row of them that, like jars and mandarins on a man­tle-piece, look'd vastly ornamental, and served charmingly to fill up vacancies.

Gen. Burland.
[Page 40]

Every trifle has its use.

Mrs. Modely.

Lord Index came, and stalk'd round the rooms, as if he had been loaded with the wisdom of his whole library.

Lady Morden.

Yes, he look'd as solemn as a monkey after mischief.

Sir Frederic.
[mimicking his solemnity]

And drew up his face in form, like a writ of inquiry into damages, with a Take-notice engrossed in front.

Lord Morden.

He would not stay late, for his Lordship is as careful of his health as he is vain of his understanding.

Lady Morden.

And, yet, he is but a kind of rush-candle; he may glimmer a long while, but will never give much light.

Lord Morden.

It seems strange that your peo­ple, who have acquired a little knowledge, al­ways think they possess an infinite deal; while those, who are the best informed, appear con­tinually conscious of wanting more.

Gen. Burland.

Not strange at all, my Lord. Amassing knowledge is like viewing the sun through a telescope; you enlarge the object, but you destroy the glare.

Mrs. Modely.

Did not you observe that, not­withstanding the pearl-powder, my Lady Bloom's neck looked remarkably sallow?

Lord Morden.

Oh! As a Jew's face under a green umbrella.

Sir Frederic.

The widow Twinkle, as usual, talked a vast deal about reputation.

Lady Morden.

One is apt to admire a thing one wants.

Lord Morden.

She always takes infinite pains to place her reputation, like broken china in a buffet, with the best side outward.

Lady Morden.
[Page 41]

She may plaister, and cement, but will never bring it to bear handling.

Mrs. Modely.

Mr. Pensive, the poet, came in, too.

Sir Frederic.

Yes, but as nobody took any notice of him, he presently went out again.

Gen. Burland.

A great proof of his good sense.

Sir Frederic.

Your poets, and sheriff's-officers, are a kind of people every body has heard of, but that nobody chooses to know.

Lady Morden.

Or, if you are under the ne­cessity of receiving a private call from them, now and then, it would be quite disgraceful to be seen with them in public.

Lord Morden.

Your Ladyship used to be very partial to Mr. Pensive.

Gen. Burland.

Yes, her Ladyship used to have many singular partialities. She was once par­tial to merit and virtue, wherever she found them: she had a partiality for order, oeconomy, and domestic duties, likewise: nay, she even went so far as to cherish a partiality for your Lord­ship!

Lady Morden.

Ha! ha! ha! Odious par­tialities!

Sir Frederic.

Ha! ha! ha!

Mrs. Modely.

 

Lord Morden.

Ma—Ma—Madam!—Odious?

Lady Morden.

Ha! ha! ha! To—to be sure, Sir!—Is it not odious to be unfashion­able?

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly—Ha! ha! ha! ha!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!—I protest, General, you—Ha, ha, ha! You are too severe.

Gen. Burland.

Am I?

[Page 42] (all together)
Sir Frederic.

Ha! ha! ha! You are, really.

Mrs. Modely.

Ha! ha! ha! Yes, you are, indeed, General.

Lady Morden.

Ha! ha! ha! Yes, yes, you absolutely are.

Gen. Burland.

Humph—Why don't you laugh, my Lord?

Lord Morden.

I do. Ha! ha! ha!—I—I—I do, General—Though, as to severity, I own I—I don't see it in that light.

Gen. Burland.

No!

Lord Morden.

No—I cannot accuse myself of any fault; unless the love of pleasure be one.

Gen. Burland.

Hah!

[sighs]

And your cata­logue of pleasures, I fancy, is pretty extensive.

Lord Morden.

Not half so extensive as one could wish.

Gen. Burland.

A dice-box, for instance, is one.

Lord Morden.

A very principal one.

Lady Morden.

My short experience hardly en­titles me to venture an opinion, but I find a wonderful similarity between gaming and a cold bath—You have a—a tremor—a—a hesitation, at first; but, having once plunged in, you are thrown into the most delightful glow!

Lord Morden.

Oh, an ardent tingling—

Gen. Burland.

Beware, Sir, that a shivering fit does not succeed.

Mrs. Modely.

Ha! ha! ha!

Lady Morden.

 

Sir Frederic.

Ha! ha! ha!—You really have no mercy, General—You hit so often, and so hard, egad!

Lord Morden.

I'm vastly—happy—to see you [Page 43] all so merry—Tho'—upon my honour—I can't find out the jest.

Gen. Burland.

That is strange, when you yourself make it.

Lady Morden.

Not in the least—There is many a professed joker who does not understand his own wit.

Gen. Burland.
[half aside]

I am tired, dis­gusted, with this mixture of folly and wicked­ness—

[aloud]

May I intrude so far upon your Ladyship as to obtain half an hour's private con­versation?

Lady Morden.

Why—Upon my word—Ge­neral—I—I have so many affairs on hand, to day, that I must beg you—to excuse me:—To­morrow, you may command me, for as long as you please.

Sir Frederic.

Ay, do, General, have the com­plaisance to wait till to-morrow, when my Lady will be more at leisure.

Gen. Burland.
[deeply affected]

Well, madam▪ I did not use to be thought an intruder, by your Ladyship, and will not begin now—But, since I cannot have the honour to tell you privately, I still think myself bound to do my duty, and in­form you, publicly, you are in the hands of sharpers, "who will filch from you your good name"—

[with great anxiety]

Nay, perhaps, you are on the very eve of destruction!—Oh guile!—Can it be!—My heart is full!—I—

[goes up to her, and most affectionately takes and presses her hand]

Lady Morden—I have no utterance—But, if there be such a thing as sympathy, some small portion of the horror I now feel will communi­cate itself to you.

SCENE III. LORD MORDEN, SIR FREDE­RIC, LADY MORDEN, MRS. MODELY.

(Lady Morden seems affected, Lord Morden deeply so, Sir Frederic and Mrs. Modely disconcerted.)
A PAUSE.
Lady Morden.
[endeavouring to recover herself]

The—the General—has the—strangest way of—affecting—and—harrowing—Has not he, my Lord?

Lord Morden.

Ye—yes—Upon my honour, he—he—I don't know how—

[putting his hand to his heart].
Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!—The General—The General is a true Don Quixote. He first creates giants, and then kills them.

Lady Morden.

Yes. Ha! ha! ha!—His head is full of—of windmills to grind moral senti­ments—But, come, Mrs. Modely, you have not seen my new purchase.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh, what the Actaeon?

Sir Frederic.

Is it come home?

Lady Morden.

Oh, yes—I could not rest till I had it.

[talking as they are going off.]
Mrs. Modely.

Come, my Lord—I long to see it!

Lady Morden.

The tints are charming!

Mrs. Modely.

So I hear—The grouping ex­cellent!

Lady Morden.

Oh, delightful!

SCENE IV. HARRIET, from the Anti-chamber, SIR FREDERIC.

Harriet.

Hist!—Sir Frederic!

Sir Frederic.
[turning back]

Oh!—Well, Sir, how proceeds your amour? I thought you had been busied in schemes about that affair.

Harriet.

Faidth, and I am so—But I don't believe I can succeed, without your assistance.

Sir Frederic.

Perhaps, you are a little scrupu­lous about the means.

Harriet.

Me!—Indeed and you have mistaken your man—Why, you don't think, Sir Frederic, I regard the complaints or tears of women!—You and I, sure, seek our own gratification, not their happiness—For, if the love of man sought only the happiness of woman, faidth, there would be nothing but dull marriages, fond hus­bands, and legitimate children; and we should lose all the satisfaction of seducing wives, ruining daughters, and of bringing so many fine, sweet, innocent, craters upon the town!

Sir Frederic.

Oh, it would strangely reverse the order of things.

Harriet.

Order!—Faidth, and it would occa­sion a blissed confusion—in Doctor's Commons.

Sir Frederic.

For my part, present pleasure is my pursuit; I never disturb my imagination with dismal conjectures, on future consequences.

Harriet.

Faidth, and you are right—For, as you say, it would be dismal enough to trace these consequences into—into streets, and hospi­tals, and—places that the imagination sickens at.

Sir Frederic.

Marriage, you say, is not your object.

Harriet.
[Page 46]

Oh, no! I don't like that said ma­trimony music.

Sir Frederic.

A mortgaged rent-roll, only, can make it supportable. A wife is like a child's whistle, which every breath can play upon, but which no art can make melodious.

Harriet.

Faidth, and you have viry proper notions about wives. So, whin the dare crater gave a marriage hint, why, I told her a dale of boister, consarning an old cross fadther, and be­ing under age, and that I could not marry these three months. For, you know, one does not stand for a good double handful of oaths, and lies, whin one wants to ruin a sweet, kind, angel, that one loves.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!—Suppose you were to make a sham marriage.

Harriet.

A sham marriage?—Faidth, and I would make that, if there were not a parcel of low rascals, that make halters.

Sir Frederic.

Pshaw! That's a paltry, me­chanical, fear.

Harriet.

But, you—you were telling me, you know, of—a—scheme—

Sir Frederic.

Oh! The contract.

Harriet.

Ay, faidth! The contract. You said you would shew it me.

Sir Frederic.

I will—I have brought it for that purpose

[feeling for his pocket-book].

I, lately, found it an efficacious expedient.

Harriet.

And succissful?

Sir Frederic.

Would have been, but for an unlucky accident.

Harriet.

But there is one small impidimint.

Sir Frederic.

What is that?

Harriet.

Westminster hall.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 47]

Baw! A house of cards.

Harriet.

Oh, and that it is; for 'tis supported by knaves, and full of tricks.

Sir Frederic.

Here—here is the very contract I myself gave.

Harriet.

Ay!

[endeavouring to conceal her eagerness.]
Sir Frederic.

And here a counterfeit copy, with a few slight, but essential, alterations.

Harriet.

I understand—To put the change upon her.

[with an anxious eye, continually, to­ward the contract.]
Sir Frederic.

Which you may easily take, or make, an opportunity to do.

Harriet.
[with affected indifference]

Will, thin, lind them both to me; and, faidth, you shall see fine divarsion.

Sir Frederic.

No—I—I'll have them copied for you. This is signed, and sealed

Harriet.

Arrah, what of that?—Ha! ha! ha! Sure, you are not afraid you would be obliged to marry a man?

Sir Frederic.

No—The only danger, in trust­ing them to you, is that of losing them. And, even then, there could be no ill consequence; except by falling into the hands of one who is far enough from London.

Harriet.

Ay, ay, lit me have them—I give you my honour to make a proper use of them.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! You are a promising youth, and it would be a pity such talents should be baulked—So, here—here.

Harriet.

Promising? Oh, faidth, and I hope to surprise even you, yoursilf. You shall pri­sently hear of the succiss of your schaimes.

SCENE V. SIR FREDERIC, GABRIEL.

Gabriel.
[looking after Harriet]

There a' goes—Hop, step, and jump!—

(Pause)

—Ecod, she does it featly!

Sir Frederic.

She! What's that you say?

Gabriel.

How a' skipp'd into the carriage!—There! Off it drives! Whur-r-r-r! Rattling away!

Sir Frederic.

What does the fellow mean?—S'death!—Sure!—Who are you talking of?

Gabriel.

Why, of that Irish, gentleman-like, Lady.

Sir Frederic.

Lady!

Gabriel.

I wur coming straight to tell you—There is a plot, mun, against you!

Sir Frederic.

A plot!

[runs toward the door.]
Gabriel.

Nay, you are too late!—A's gone!—Three streets off by this.

Sir Frederic.

Confusion!

Gabriel.

Ees—She means to breed a confusion.

Sir Frederic.

Who?

Gabriel.

Miss Harriet.

Sir Frederic.

Harriet!—By heavens 'tis she!—

Gabriel.

Ees—'tis she.

Sir Frederic.

Secure fool! Ineffable ideot!—And, yet, in that disguise, Lucifer himself could not have discovered her!—And who told you?

Gabriel.

Why, his worship's gentleman, Mr. Lapelle—A' o'erheard her tell my Lord aw her plot.

Sir Frederic.

What course shall I take?

Gabriel.

Suppose I wur to watch, and, when she comes back, let your worship know?

Sir Frederic.
[Page 49]

Do so—But be very careful—And be very secret.

Gabriel.

Ees, ees; I remember the place, mun.

Sir Frederic.

Away—be watchful and be re­warded.

SCENE VI. SIR FREDERIC.

This is a thunder stroke!—Lord Morden in the plot, too!—It will come to Lady Morden's ears, I shall be blown, all my plans disconcerted, myself laughed at, and my reputation eternally ruined!—

[walks about]

Ha!—There is one way to prevent the mischief, yet—By heavens, it can­not fail!—I will go to Lady Morden, and, with feigned penitence, tell her every circum­stance, myself; only making her believe I knew Harriet, when I returned the contract. She wist admire my candour, think my contrition real▪ and thus will I turn this seeming disaster to ex­cellent account, by making it an additional proof of sincerity, and affection for her Ladyship!—Dear Wit, I thank thee; thou never forsakest me at a crisis!—Indeed!—My Lord! And my young Lady!—Ah, ha!—But you shall find one, perhaps, who can plot, as deeply as yourselves.

END OF THE THIRD ACT.

ACT IV.

SCENE I. LORD MORDEN, LAPELLE.

Lord Morden.

INTO what an abyss of evils have I plunged, through in­experience, want of reflection, and an absurd imitation of fashionable follies!—Lapelle.

Lapelle.

My Lord.

Lord Morden.

Is the young—young gentleman returned?

Lapelle.
[significantly]

No, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

I am on the rack!—The liber­ties in which Lady Morden permits this Sir Frederic are insupportable!—Unable to be silent, and ashamed to complain, I am tortured, by contending passions.—Lapelle—Let me know the instant—the—the young gentleman comes back.

Lapelle.
[going]

Yes, my Lord.

Lord Morden.

Stay—

[to himself]

What if I were to inform Lady Morden of this affair?—Surely, she could not shut her eyes against such a palpable, such an unprincipled, attempt at se­duction!—

[aloud]

Go, and tell your Lady, I beg to speak with her, a moment.

SCENE II. LORD MORDEN.

What an absurd being is man!—Not a fort­night ago, Lady Morden was totally indifferent to me; and, now I am in danger of losing her, I find I love her—To distraction love her!—Yet to sink into a civil, sober, domestic, man—To become the standing jest of all those high­spirited companions whose society I have courted, whose maxims I have pretended to admire!—

SCENE III. LORD MORDEN, LADY MORDEN.

Lady Morden.

So, my Lord, in melancholy contemplation; and at home, too!

Lord Morden.

Yes, madam.

Lady Morden.

Lud! I wonder how your Lordship can endure home! Of all places, in the world, home is, certainly, the most disagree­able.

Lord Morden.

Did not your Ladyship meet Lapelle?

Lady Morden.

Lapelle! no.

Lord Morden.

I—I wished to see your Lady­ship.

Lady Morden.

To see me! What can your Lordship possibly want with me?

Lord Morden.

To speak to you.

Lady Morden.

Speak to me!—You perfectly surprise me.

Lord Morden.

On a subject which—I—I scarcely know how to begin.

Lady Morden.

Ha! ha! ha! What can have made your Lordship so serious? Ha! ha! ha! [Page 52] I declare, I never saw you look so grave be­fore!—This must be some very important se­cret, that can occasion your Lordship to look so very dismal!—I vow, I am quite impatient—Come, my Lord—Why don't you proceed?

Lord Morden.

I—I begin to find—I have been very foolish.

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Is that the secret?

Lord Morden.

I—I feel I have been to blame.

Lady Morden.

To blame, my Lord! How? Which way?—Or, if you have, how does it concern me?

Lord Morden.

Your Ladyship used to think our interests inseparable.

Lady Morden.

For which your Lordship al­ways laughed at me. And, I freely own, I was a very silly—out of the way woman.

Lord Morden.

Perhaps not, madam.

Lady Morden.

How, my Lord!—Not?—Your Lordship is very polite, but you know very well I was.

Lord Morden.

Lady Morden, you once loved me—You yourself, not long since, kindly owned you did.

Lady Morden.

Very true, my Lord; but why—why now should you reproach me with my fol­lies?

Lord Morden.

I feel the severity of your re­proof—It is no more than I merit!

Lady Morden.
[with affected surprise]

I, real­ly, don't understand your Lordship!—I—I meant no reproof—We loved each other as long as it was agreeable to us, and, if my passion happened to out-last your Lordship's, that was none of your fault. These are the principles of—of all rational people, you know, my Lord.

Lord Morden.
[Page 53]

They are principles, madam, that, from my soul, I wish I had never heard!

Lady Morden.

Upon my honour, you astonish me!—Have not I learnt them from you, your­self?

Lord Morden.

Unjustifiable, madam, as my conduct may have been, I never carried them to the same excess as Sir Frederic Fashion.

Lady Morden.
[with an air of pique]

Sir Frederic Fashion may, perhaps, be as capable [...] reformation as your Lordship.

Lord Morden.

Your Ladyship may—may [...] partial.

Lady Morden.

Partial!

Lord Morden.

Who so great a libertine as [...] Sir Frederic?

Lady Morden.

Has been—He has [...] enough to confess it.

Lord Morden.

Has been!—Madam, [...] exists a present proof of deliberate seduction!—An injured Lady!—

Lady Morden.
[smiling]

Oh! What the— [...] the Croat.

Lord Morden.

Madam!

Lady Morden.

What's your surprise, my Lo [...] ▪ Don't I tell you he has confessed all his follie [...] [...] me?

Lord Morden.

But, madam, did he menti [...] the contract?

Lady Morden.

To be sure! And the— [...] counterfeit copy—With the generous manne [...] [...] which he, just now, returned Harriet the origin [...] ▪ though she thought he did not know her.

Lord Morden.

I am petrified!—Lady M [...] ­den—I perceive, I have lost your affections.

Lady Morden.
[Page 54]

My Lord—I am above dis­simulation. Yes—I own I have a passion, too permanent to be shaken; and the satisfaction of a self-assurance that he who, at present, possesses my heart, will not, so soon, be weary of me, as he who had it before.

Lord Morden.

You cut me to the soul!—Did you know what I feel!

Lady Morden.

Feel, my Lord! Ha, ha, ha! Oh fie!—Your Lordship is a man of fashion, not of feeling.

Lord Morden.

Hovering mischief, madam, has quickened benumbed nature in me.

[kneels and takes her hand]

Oh! let me conjure you, Lady Morden, to reflect on your present situation! I have conducted you to the horrid precipice of guilt, and destruction! Oh suffer me to save, to snatch, you from danger!

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha!

SCENE IV. LORD MORDEN, LADY MORDEN, SIR FREDERIC.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! How now, my Lord! Ha, ha, ha! Making love to your wife?

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Oh! Sir Frede­ric, if you had but come a little sooner, you would have heard the most delightful morality!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! Morality from my Lord?

Lord Morden.

Yes, Sir, morality from my Lord!

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! Nay, I assure you, he is quite serious.

[retires coquetting with Sir Frederic.]
Lord Morden.
[Page 55]

Rejected! Ridiculed! De­spised! Their sport! Their scorn!—Their sub­ject for open sarcasm, laughter, and contempt! Oh! Insupportable.

[Lord Morden retires into his own room.]

SCENE V. LADY MORDEN, SIR FREDE­RIC.

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha! My Lord has a mind to fall in love with me, once more.

Sir Frederic.

Nobody, but my Lord, madam, would ever have ceased, a moment, to love you!

Lady Morden.

Well, Sir Frederic, and may I, then, at last, flatter myself I have found that sympathy of soul, for which I so long have sighed?

Sir Frederic.

Alas, madam, I dare not rank myself your equal!—No, I dare not!—There is such infinitude of perfection in your every thought, look, and expression, that to merit you were to be, as you are, something celestial!—Yet, such virtue as mere humanity may arrive at, I will exhaust nature with endeavours, and weary heaven with prayers, to acquire!

Lady Morden.

There is, surely, some secret charm in your words.

Sir Frederic.

Did I think the gratification of any sinister passion influenced my present con­duct; were it not my hope to remove you from the cold embrace of satiated apathy, to the swee and endless transports of love, founded on, per­mit me to say, on a congeniality of soul and sen­riment; did I not feel an innate conviction that there, already, subsists, between us, a tie of the most indissoluble nature, an immaculate tie, a [Page 56] marriage of the mind, superior infinitely to all human institutions; did I not think, and feel, thus, I would, instantly, dreadful as the image is [...] thought, renounce that heaven which I have had the presumption to contemplate, nay aspire to possess!

Lady Morden.

And if, after all this, you should prove false, Sir Frederic!

Sir Frederic.

False, madam!—Oh! Let me conjure you to inflict any punishment on me, ra­ther than that of suspecting my sincerity!—Thus, [...]eeling, on this angelic hand, I vow—

SCENE VI. LADY MORDEN, SIR FRE­DERIC, LORD MORDEN.

Lord Morden.

I cannot resist the impulse which—How!—Sir Frederic!

Sir Frederic.
[rising]

My Lord.

[with per­ [...] indifference.]
Lord Morden.

So, madam!

Lady Morden.

So, Sir.

Lord Morden.

You can listen to morality from [...]ers, madam, if not from me!

Lady Morden.

Oh! I—I have no dislike to a [...]non, when I—admire the preacher.

Lord Morden.

Madam—If you have no respect [...] my honour, you might have some for my feelings, and—

Lady Morden.
[interrupting him]

A, a—Hold, [...]ld, my Lord—You are beginning your dis­ [...]se again; but I am in a hurry, and will hear [...] draw your conclusions some other opportu­ [...]

Lord Morden.

Madam—

Lady Morden.

Nay, I will, upon my honour.

SCENE VII. LORD MORDEN, SIR FREDERIC.

Lord Morden.

Hold, Sir; a word with you, if you please.

Sir Frederic.

With me, my Lord?

Lord Morden.

With you.

Sir Frederic.

Willingly. Your Lordship seems in so pleasant a humour—

Lord Morden.

Sir, I am in a humour neither to be trifled with nor sneered at.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! I can assure your, Ha, ha, ha! your Lordship, no man is happier to see you in your present temper than I am.

Lord Morden.

Look you, Sir Frederic, you and I have been too long of the same school for me to be ignorant of your principles. But I be­gin to detest them!

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!

Lord Morden.

They are now, at this very mo­ment, rending my heart. They have planted a nest of adders in my bosom.—In short, Sir—You must forbear your visits to Lady Morden.

Sir Frederic.

My Lord—

Lord Morden.

I am serious—determined.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! When her Ladyship gives me this advice, it may—perhaps—be fol­lowed.

Lord Morden.

It must and shall be followed, Sir, when I give it.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha!

Lord Morden.

Ridiculous as it may appear, to you, and such as you, I feel, and will assert, a husband's rights.

Sir Frederic.

Ha, ha, ha! I congratulate your [Page 58] Lordship, on the keenness, and delicacy, of your feelings; they give me great pleasure; infinite pleasure, upon my soul. Ha, ha, ha!—As to—a husband's rights, I—have no doubt, you will—very shortly—be in full possession of them all.

Lord Morden.

Sir, I will have you know, I am, at present, in full possession of them all.

Sir Frederic.

May be so, egad!

Lord Morden.

And can no longer forbear telling you, I believe you to be a villain.

Sir Frederic.

Ah, now, your Lordship is per­fectly explicit.

[draw and fight.]

SCENE VIII. LORD MORDEN, SIR FREDE­RIC, GABRIEL, who runs fearless between them, and looks first at one, then at the other.

Lord Morden.

How now, sirrah! How dare you take this liberty?

Gabriel.

Nay, ecod, there do seem to be some danger in it; an I had not dared to dare, but that I thought that your Lordship wou'd na stick I.

Lord Morden.

Be gone, sirrah!

Gabriel.

Nay, but my Lady sent me, and would be glad to speak wi' your honour's wor­ship.

Lord Morden.

With me?

Gabriel.

Oh no! Not wi' your Lordship's ho­nour's worship; but wi' his worship's honour, Sir Frederic Fashion.

Sir Frederic.

This is no place, my Lord: we'll settle this business to-morrow—To-morrow, my Lord—To-morrow—

SCENE IX. LORD MORDEN, GABRIEL.

Lord Morden.

Damnation!—Torture!—To-morrow?—He has some concealed meaning—‘A thousand little circumstances tell me, some mischief is brooding—I could not have be­lieved Lady Morden so confirmed, so far gone, in guilt.—The behaviour of them all, their dark allusions, their sarcasms, pointed at me, convince me, they are acting in conjunction, to hold me up’—How now, sirrah! What do you stand gaping at?—How durst you come between us?

Gabriel.

Why, ecod, I knew that, wi' us, i'th country, murder would have been against the commandements; and I had forgot that, here, in town, you have no commandements.

Lord Morden.

This fool can see the excesses of passion in their true light.

Gabriel

I'm sorry 'at I angered your Lord­ship's worship; becase as why, I wur determined to do like the rest of my neighbours; for, sar­tinly, wur a body to keep the commandements, while every body else is breaking them—a'd be a poor devil, indeed.

[Lord Morden walks about]

Belike, your Lordship be a bit jealousy, like?

Lord Morden.

How, sirrah!

Gabriel.

Nay, I should no' a' wondered an you wur—An I had no' been told that your Londoneers be never jealousy, like.

Lord Morden.

Should not have wondered!—Why not, sirrah?

Gabriel.

Nay, ecod, I munna tell!

Lord Morden.

Tell what?

Gabriel.

Nay, that's it—As I said, I munna tell!

Lord Morden.
[Page 60]
[puts his hand to his sword]

Speak all you know, instantly, or—

Gabriel.
[with half serious half sulky reproof]

Nay, nay, donna be in a passion, your worship—I be no goose, you munna spit me.

Lord Morden.

Speak, I say—I'll have your secret, or your soul.

Gabriel.

Ecod, I believe, your worship will be puzzled to find either—Tho' that Sir Frederic be an old fox—A's used to steal chicken.

Lord Morden.

Be explicit; what has he done?

Gabriel.

Done—Oh!—A's—

Lord Morden.

What?

Gabriel.

Promised me a place!

Lord Morden.

Zounds!

Gabriel.

And, moreover, a' ga' me a purse; which is better still: for, your worship's grace do know that, an egg, in hand, is better nur a hen, in expectation.

Lord Morden.

Suppose, sirrah, I give you my purse, too.

Gabriel.

Nay, ecod, an you gi' it me—I b'lieve, I shall—I shall take it.

Lord Morden.

There, Sir.

Gabriel.

Thank your worship's Lordship.—

[Gabriel puts up the purse, and walks leisurely into Lady Morden's Dressing-Room.]

SCENE X. LORD MORDEN, HARRIET.

Lord Morden.
[following Gabriel]

Why, hark you, sirrah!—Come back!—Why, rascal!

Harriet.
[calling]

St! My Lord! My Lord!

Lord Morden.
[looking back to Harriet, and then recollecting Gabriel]

Astonishing effrontery!

Harriet.

My Lord!

Lord Morden.
[Page 61]
[returning]

Oh! Madam, I am distracted.

Harriet.

Have patience, but for one quarter of an hour, and I hope to rid you of all your fears, and inflict that punishment, on the author of them, which he dreads most.

Lord Morden.

How, Madam?

Harriet.

By exposing him; making him what he delights to make others, a subject of laughter and contempt.

Lord Morden.

Which way, Madam?

Harriet.

We may be overheard; step with me into the antichamber, and I'll inform you.

SCENE XI. GABRIEL, SIR FREDERIC.

Gabriel.
[peeping after Lord Morden and Harriet, and then calling]

Sir Frederic!—Sir Frederic!

Sir Frederic.

Well, what's the matter? How camest thou off with his Lordship?

Gabriel.

Off? Ecod, I—I wish you may come off as well.

Sir Frederic.

I!

Gabriel.

Ees.—Why, mun, there be the bai­liffs, below!

Sir Frederic.

Bailiffs!

Gabriel.

Ees—Sent by the Irish gentleman, lady I mean, a'ter your worship!—Ecod, hur is detarmined to ha' you, safe!

Sir Frederic.

The Devil! What's to be done!—Is she with them?

Gabriel.

No; hur be come back, and is gone into the antichamber, wi' my Lord.

Sir Frederic.

And has not seen them?

Gabriel.

Likely not.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 62]

Here, quick, change clothes with me, and tell them you are Sir Frederic Fashion.

Gabriel.

Me!—Ecod, thank you for that—No, no—I would na' be in your coat, for fifty pound!

Sir Frederic.

Fool! they durst not detain you.

Gabriel.

I'll take care they shan't.

Sir Frederic.

S'death! What's to be done?

Gabriel.

Ecod—Suppose—Suppose I wur to go, and tell the Irish gentleman somebody wanted hur; and so make 'em arrest she?

Sir Frederic.

Ha! Exquisite fellow! I con­ceive—Away, send her instantly!

SCENE XII. SIR FREDERIC, TWO BAILIFFS.

Bailiff.

Is your name Sir Frederic Fashion, Sir?

Sir Frederic.

No, Sir; but Sir Frederic will be here, directly; if you have any business with him.

Bailiff.
[aside to his companion]

Have your handkerchief ready, should he make any noise, for fear of a rescue—This is a very serious affair.

[to Sir Frederic]

Pray, Sir, what kind of person is Sir Frederic?

Sir Frederic.

Um—a handsome—agreeable little gentleman, and very young.

Bailiff.

May I ask, Sir, how he is dressed?

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

Gad! well remember'd.—

[to the bailiffs]

Dressed, oh! he is dressed for—for the masquerade—Here he comes.

[the Bailiffs retire a little upon the watch.]

SCENE XIII. SIR FREDERIC, BAILIFFS, HARRIET.

Sir Frederic.
[to Harriet]

Well, Sir Frederic! Ha, ha, ha! How goes your scheme.

Harriet.

Oh, ho!—Faidth, and are you so jocular?

Sir Frederic.

I have been thinking this is a dangerous business, and would advise you not to give the girl that contract—It may bring you into trouble.

Bailiff.
[aside to his companion]

You hear!

Harriet.

Oh! Faidth, and she has it safe enough.

Bailiff.
[advances]

Sir Frederic Fashion

[touches Harriet on the shoulder],

you are my prisoner, Sir,—I have a special writ against you.

Harriet.

Ha, ha, ha! Against me!—Arrah, frind, but you are making a bit of a bull here.

Bailiff.

We know what we are about, Sir; my carriage is below; you shall be treated like a gentleman; but we must beg you to go with us, instantly, and without noise.

Harriet.
[alarmed and forgetting the brogue]

I tell you, friend, you mistake the person.

SCENE XIV. SIR FREDERIC, HARRIET, BAILIFFS, GABRIEL.

Gabriel.
[goes up to Harriet]

Here, Sir Frederic; here be a card, from Colonel Castoff, wi' his compliments.

Harriet.

Sirrah! Me!

Gabriel.
[with pretended astonishment]

Ees, to be sure!

Bailiff.
[Page 64]

Sir, we must be gone.

Harriet.

This is a concerted trick—Here—

[as soon as Harriet begins to call, the bailiffs clap the handkerchief over her mouth, and hurry off with her.]

SCENE XV. GABRIEL, SIR FREDERIC.

Gabriel.

Did not I do it rarely?

Sir Frederic.

Do!—I could wonder and wor­ship thee! In half a year, thou would'st make an ass of Machiavel!—Oh that I could but retrieve that cursed contract.

Gabriel.

I do think I could get it.

Sir Frederic.

Ay!—Nay, I do, almost, begin to believe in miracles! Which way?

Gabriel.

No matter for that—What will you gi' me?

Sir Frederic.

Whatever thou canst wish—A hundred guineas—

Gabriel.

And the place in the Excise?

Sir Frederic.

Any thing, every thing!—Run, try, fly!—Think, succeed, and I'll make an Emperor of thee!

Gabriel.

Ees—I'll be Emperor of Excise-men.

SCENE XVI. SIR FREDERIC, MRS. MODELY, EMILY.

Sir Frederic.

The shrewdness, and abilities, of this fellow are amazing!

Mrs. Modely.
[entering]

Yes, my sweet little Emily, the greatest beauty in London would be envied, had she made such a conquest.

Emily.

Ah!—▪You say so.—

Mrs. Modely.

Say! Why, to-morrow morning, the whole town will be in a flame!

Emily.
[Page 65]

Well, that will be pure!

Mrs. Modely.

Oh! Sir Frederic—

Sir Frederic.
[runs to Emily]

My life! My soul! My transport!

Emily.
[to Mrs. Modely]

What sweet words!

Mrs. Modely.

You are very much obliged to me, I assure you.—I have been speaking to my sweet, dear, little Emily, here, in your behalf.

Sir Frederic.

Then, Madam, I am, inexpres­sibly, obliged to you!

Emily.

Yes, Mrs. Modely is very much your friend, and very much my friend—A'n't you, Mrs. Modely?

Mrs. Modely.

Yes, my little dear; I am, in­deed, very much your friend: and, if I had not the best opinion in the world of Sir Frederic, would not have spoken as I have.

Emily.

Well, Sir Frederic, have you ordered the chaise and four?

Sir Frederic.
[pretending to be afraid Mrs. Modely should overhear].

Yes!—Hush!

Emily.

Nay, you may say any thing before Mrs. Modely. I have told her all; for, you know, she is my friend.

Mrs. Modely.

Yes, yes, Sir Frederic; be assured, I will not betray any secret, the keeping of which will make my dear Emily so happy!

Emily.

Yes, we shall be so happy!—You know, Sir Frederic, you swear to marry me.

Sir Frederic.

Solemnly!

[all through the scene he looks anxiously round, at intervals, fearful of being surprised.]
Emily.

Well, but, swear it again; now, be­fore Mrs. Modely.

Sir Frederic.

By all the saints!

Emily.
[Page 66]

Saints! Pshaw! You should swear by—by my bright eyes, that dim the stars.

Sir Frederic.

Oh! By those bright eyes, that dim the blazing Sun.

Emily.

And—and, my beauties, that eclipse the blushing Moon!

Sir Frederic.

Ay, by those, and all your burn­ing charms, I swear.

Emily.

To marry me, the moment we come to Scotland?

Sir Frederic.

The moment we come to Scot­land.

Emily.

And, if we are pursued—

Sir Frederic.

To fight for you! Die for you!

Emily.

Oh! That will be delightful!—

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

The Devil it will!

Emily.

Come, let us set off!—My bandbox is ready!

Sir Frederic.

That is impossible, my angel!

Emily.

Impossible?

Sir Frederic.

I have not ordered the chaise, till ten o'clock.

Emily.

Oh dear! What, two whole hours longer!

Sir Frederic.

They are two ages, I grant—

[looking round]

Forgive my fears, my deares Emily; but, tho' the pleasure of your company is the most precious thing on earth—a—a—yet—

Emily.

What, you want me gone?

Sir Frederic.

Rather than you should think so unkindly, I will run the hazard of being sur­prised, and eternally separated from you.

Emily.

Will you! I am sure you don't love me then—However, I'll go.—You will be sure to be ready, the moment the clock strikes ten.

SCENE XVII. SIR FREDERIC, MRS. MODELY.

Sir Frederic.

Time is precious—Here have been such plots, against me!

Mrs. Modely.

Plots!

Sir Frederic.

Oh! I have escaped Scylla and Charybdis! But wind and tide are, now, both with me—Lady Morden is to meet me, here, in half an hour. Thro' that door is her chamber.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh, you vile creature!

Sir Frederic.

What prude, to-morrow, will dare pretend that woman, and education, are a match for man, and nature?

Mrs. Modely.

And so you will persist in your wickedness, in spite of my persuasions!

Sir Frederic.

Lady Morden has, still, all the rhodomontade of love, in her brain—Thinks of nothing but cooing-constancy, and eternal rap­tures!

Mrs. Modely.

Simple woman!

Sir Frederic.

Except, indeed, tormenting her husband; which seems to give the sin a double sweetness.

Mrs. Modely.

Or she would be no wife!

Sir Frederic.

So, as soon as I am gone off with Emily, I will have a consolatory epistle deli­vered to her.

Mrs. Modely.

Compassionate toad!

Sir Frederic.

Here it is, ready written; and, if I don't flatter myself, a master-piece.

Mrs. Modely.

Let me see! Let me see!

Sir Frederic.

No, you shall hear.

[reads]

‘Dear Madam, Tho' you are an angel, if there are other angels, am I to blame?’

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 68]
[reads]

‘If man is naturally in­constant, and if I am a man—am I to blame?’

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.
[reads]

‘If nature has made variety the highest enjoyment—am I to blame?’

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.
[reads]

‘If, since happiness is the pursuit of us all, I am happy as often as I can—am I to blame?’

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.
[reads]

‘Farewell, Madam; circumstances, as you will find, force me, thus suddenly, from your arms, in which, I own, I found heaven centered: but, if you should call me cruel, perjured, and ungrateful, because I act naturally, and therefore rationally—am I to blame?’

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not!—Well, as I live, this is a master-stroke! Perfectly as I thought I knew you, you have astonished me!

Sir Frederic.

Yes; 'tis the true Socratic mode—But, now, my dear Mrs. Modely, go you to Emily, prevent her disturbing us, and keep her in readiness.

Mrs. Modely.

Well! remember, every thing is at stake, and be yourself.

Sir Frederic.

Fear me not; that prescience, which, they say, is the forerunner of all great events, gives me a happy assurance of success: a confidence, that makes success certain.

END OF THE FOURTH ACT.

ACT V.

SCENE I.

General Burland.

I Cannot keep from this house!—There is a fore­boding of mischief, which haunts, and perturbs, my imagination!—And, I fear, with reason!—The malignant joy, the smothered exult, the ob­scure, ironical, satire, which ran through the discourse of that Sir Frederic, were not without a meaning.—I wish I had not consented to let Emily stay—He sneered, I remember, at the moment: nay, it seemed the sneer of triumph!—I wish she were safe, at my own house.—Poor Lady Morden!—And, is it possible?—Such rectitude of heart!—Such purity of sentiment!—I wish Emily were at home—Should my child, my darling fall, I were a wretch indeed!

SCENE II. GENERAL, LORD MORDEN.

Lord Morden.
[wildly]

I am miserable! distracted! racked!—The thunderbolt has struck before I heard it!—Oh that its exterminating power had been final! But it has maimed, and deformed, and left a full feeling of wretchedness!

Gen. Burland.

How now, my Lord?

Lord Morden.
[Page 70]

General!—I am a wretch!—An irretrievable, eternal, wretch!

Gen. Burland.

What, and are you come to a sense of this, now it is too late?

Lord Morden.

There's the misery!—The curse is accomplished, and hope is fled!

Gen. Burland.

Why, ay! Such is the infatua­tion of folly, and vice, they will not believe ven­geance has an arm, till its fatal gripe is felt!

Lord Morden.

I cannot support these tortures!—Oh that it were possible!—

Gen. Burland.

What?

Lord Morden.

To reclaim Lady Morden.

Gen. Burland.

What then? Another month and Sir Frederic Fashion, or any other libertine of fashion, might take her.

Lord Morden.

Never!—Never!—Were her affections once again mine, the stroke of death, only, should separate us!

Gen. Burland.
[with deep compassion]

Well, my Lord, if you are, at last, convinced of the im­mensity of your loss—I pity you!

Lord Morden.

Oh, would you could relieve!

Gen. Burland.

Would I could!—But, you were a witness how ineffectual my endeavours were. However, walk with me, into the antichamber, and let us consult what is best to be done.—Her principles, I fear, are shaken; the only rock on which virtue can stand secure.

Lord Morden.

Sapped, destroyed!—She avows her intents! Unblushingly avows them! And, recapitulating my errors, my crimes, dares me to complain of, or notice, hers! Scorns and con­temns me, and justly too, that such a thing as I [Page 71] should pretend to repeat, or respect, the word virtue!

Gen. Burland.

It is what every husband, every father of a family, must expect! His smallest foibles will stand as precedents for a swarm of follies; and, if he has any vices, they will propa­gate a hideous brood, that shall extirpate his name from the earth, or overwhelm it with ob­loquy!

SCENE III. GABRIEL, SIR FREDERIC.

Gabriel.
[peeping after Lord Morden, and the General]

Come, mun!—Your worship, come!

Sir Frederic.

Are they gone?

Gabriel.

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

Well, what hast thou done?—Where is Harriet?

Gabriel.

Oh, I ha' her safe.

Sir Frederic.

Thou!

Gabriel.

Ees, mun—For, when the Bailiffs found out a wur a woman, they wur parfitly ravenous!

Sir Frederic.

And let her go?

Gabriel

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

S'death!

Gabriel.

But, I secured her.

Sir Frederic.

Secured! Impossible! How?

Gabriel.

Nay, never do you mind how—I tell'ee, I ha' her safe.

Sir Frederic.

But where are the Bailiffs?

Gabriel.

In this house.

Sir Frederic.

The devil they are!

Gabriel.

Ees, they be—waiting for your wor­ship.

Sir Frederic.
[Page 72]

Death and destruction!

Gabriel.

But what o'that? I a'got the contract, mun.

Sir Frederic.

Hast thou?

Gabriel.

Ees, here it is.

Sir Frederic.

Precious fellow! I could worship thee!—Give it me.

Gabriel.
[putting his hand behind him.]

Nay, hold there!—I wunna do that.

Sir Frederic.

Won't!

Gabriel.

No—I wunna.

Sir Frederic.

Pshaw! Make no words, but de­liver it—and, here—here is—

Gabriel.

Nay, put up your paper, for I wun­na part wi' mine.

Sir Frederic.

S'death, fellow!

Gabriel.

Nay, be mild tempered—stand where you be; for an you stir another step, I'll call the Bailiffs.

Sir Frederic.
[aside]

Cunning scoundrel!—He has me in his power, and time presses.—Well, Gabriel, be faithful, and, depend on't, I'll make thee a clever fellow.

Gabriel.

Why, ecod, I think I am like a Mon­mouth-street coat—ready made.

Sir Frederic.

Thou rememberest the instruc­tions I gave thee?

Gabriel.

Parfitly.

Sir. Frederic.

The chaise is to wait, at the corner of the street.

Gabriel.

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

Thou art to convey Emily's bandbox away, privately; and, if any questions are asked, to say it is Lady Morden's.

Gabriel.

Ees.

Sir Frederic.

Hast thou taken care of the letter, I gave thee?

Gabriel.
[Page 73]

Care! Ees, ees; I a' ta'en good care on't.

Sir Frederic.

Observe, thou art to deliver, it to Lady Morden, half an hour after we are de­parted.

Gabriel.

Half an hour before you are departed.

Sir Frederic.

Zounds! No, half an hour after, man.

Gabriel.

Oh! Ees, ees; half an hour after.

Sir Frederic.

Now begone.

Gabriel.

But—but, how will your worship get by the Bailiffs?

Sir Frederic.

S'death, that's true!—Is there no disguise?

Gabriel.

Why—ees—there be a long great­coat i'th' hall.

Sir Frederic.

Ay, true!—Bring it me.

Gabriel.

Nay, nay—I'll put it on first, and let 'em see me—so, then, when they see you, they'll think it be I—

Sir Frederic.

Excellent! Where are Lord Morden, and the General?

Gabriel.

I'th' t'other chamber.

Sir Frederic.

Unlucky! I wish they were any where else.

Gabriel.

Oh!—an that be all, I'll soon make 'em budge.

Sir Frederic.

How?

Gabriel.

Nay!—Lord, you're so quisitive!—I tell you, I'll do't—I'll saunter thro' this door, lock it, and send 'em packing thro' t'other.

Sir Frederic.

Thou art the prince of plotters—Away, be vigilant.

Gabriel.

Oh! never do you fear me!

[Goes into the antichamber.]

SCENE IV. SIR FREDERIC, LADY MORDEN.

Sir Frederic.

This fellow would outwit a whole conclave of Cardinals!

Lady Morden.

Well, Sir Frederic! here I am, you see; punctual to my promise.

Sir Frederic.
[with vast insinuation, seeming sin­cerity, and humble rapture, all through the scene.]

Oh, Madam, how can I repay this bounty!—this condescension!—Never!—My life were a poor sacrifice, to such sweetness and such charms!

Lady Morden.

Sir Frederic, this is a trying, a decisive moment! I am going to be either the most happy or the most wretched of women! You tell me, it is your wish, your resolution, to be no longer that general lover, that man of the world, you have, hitherto, been thought.

Sir Frederic.

Say not, dear Lady, it is either my wish or resolution! Heaven can testify, I have not the power to be any thing, but what it shall please you to make me!

Lady Morden.

I have owned to you that, the levity I have lately affected is not natural to me▪ that my heart sighs for an acquaintance, a mate▪ that, like itself, is subject to all the sweet emo­tions of sensibility!—Yes, it was the first wish of my soul to find this correspondent heart! A heart beating with the same ardour, vibrating to the same sensations, panting for the same pleasures, shrinking from the same pangs; pliant, yet firm; gentle, yet aspiring; passionate, yet pure!—Such I once thought Lord Morden's—Should I, a second time, be deceived!

Sir Frederic.
[Page 75]

I am poor in proofs of sincerity! I have none to offer!—My former errors are present punishments! To deny or even palliate them would imply intentional deceit; and this is a moment in which I would wish for men and gods to be witnesses of my truth!—I have had, I own, most libertine opinions of your gentle sex; but these I, now, solemnly renounce!—Had I, before, met with a Lady Morden, I should, be­fore, have made this renunciation!—But, per­haps, the women it has been my misfortune to know deserved, in part, the light esteem in which I held them.—Never, till now, did I find one who could mutually inspire such passion and re­spect! Such agitated, burning, hopes! Such excruciating fears, or thoughts so sanctified, as those I, this moment, feel!

Lady Morden.

Yet, Sir Frederic, I cannot help observing your conversation, in society, seems still tinged with the impurity of your for­mer libertine principles.

Sir Frederic.

I own, Lady Morden, with con­fusion own, I have not hitherto had the courage, or, perhaps, I have wanted strength to stem the torrent: but, aided by you, I feel, I dare pro­mise any thing!

Lady Morden.

I confess, Sir Frederic, the mind finds some difficulty in rooting out fears, planted in it by reiterated accusations. The stories the world tells of you are dreadful! And, yet, there is such heartfelt conviction attends your present words that, to me, it is impossible to listen and retain a doubt.

Sir Frederic.

This generous confidence trans­ports me, fills me with gratitude, and inspires [Page 76] rapturous hope!

[clasps her round the waist.]

Oh, gently suffer me to conduct you, where love lies, in panting, breathless, ecstasy—

SCENE V.

To them GABRIEL, abruptly, in a Great-coat, stands fixed, staring.
Sir Frederic.
[sternly]

How now!

Gabriel.
[deliberately]

Belike—You dunna want company?

Sir Frederic.

No, Sir.

Gabriel.

I thought as much—

Sir Frederic.
[laying hold of him]

Begone, in­stantly!

Gabriel

Nay! Hands off!

[throws him from him]

I shan't stir, till I have delivered my message.

Sir Frederic.

What message? What have you to say?

Gabriel.
[aloud]

Why the chaise and four be come.

Sir Frederic.

How?

Gabriel.
[still louder]

The bandbox ready.

Sir Frederic.

Infernal booby!

Gabriel.

Miss Emily waiting.

Sir Frederic.
[violently]

Begone, I say.

Gabriel.

Gone!—Nay, sartinly, you would no' ha' I run away wi' her.

Lady Morden.
[with contempt]

Ha, ha, ha!

Sir Frederic.

Lady Morden!

Lady Morden.

Ha, ha, ha!—Why, surely, you! The never failing victor! The fertile-brained Sir Frederic Fashion! who knows not defeat, and who never, yet, was at a loss for stratagems! [Page 77] Though you are taken somewhat unawares, you cannot want invention!

Sir Frederic.

You'll pardon me, Madam, if I want understanding to comprehend your meaning.

Lady Morden.

Indeed!—Well, if you are so very dull of apprehension—am I to blame?

Sir Frederic.

Madam!

Lady Morden.

Oh!—Do you recollect—this letter?

Sir Frederic.

How!—Faithless fiend!

[goes to assault Gabriel, who throws back his great-coat and appears dressed as a gentleman.]
Gabriel.

Keep off, or dread the chastisement I am prompted, instantaneously, to inflict!

Sir Frederic.

Chastisement!—What is this?—Who are you?

Gabriel.

A man!—You are—

Lady Morden.

For heaven's sake, brother!—

Sir Frederic.

Brother!

Gabriel.

Gabriel Wilmot; whose head is so full of the nonsense of friendship, honour, and honesty!

Sir Frederic.

I'll be revenged, however.

[attacks Mr. Wilmot again.]

SCENE VI.

To them LORD MORDEN and GENERAL
Lord Morden.

Turn, wretch, and receive your punishment from this arm!

[Sir Frederic turns on Lord Morden.]
Gen. Burland.
[beating down their swords]

Oh, for shame!—Look to the Lady—

Lady Morden.

Oh, General!—Oh, my Lord!

[runs to Lord Morden and falls on his neck.]
Lord Morden.
[Page 78]

My life! My ecstasy! My saviour!

SCENE VII.

To them MRS. MODELY and EMILY.
Mrs. Modely.

Bless me, what uproar—Hey day!—

[aside]

So, so! Here is a very pretty denouement to our plot, indeed!—

[aloud]

I see, good folks, you are all embroiled here; and, as it is a very disagreeable thing to be present at fa­mily disputes, I'll—

[is going; the General plants himself against the door]
Gen. Burland.

Pray, Madam, stay, and re­ceive the compliments of the company—Mine, and your friend Emily's, in particular.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh, with pleasure!

Lord Morden.

Mr. Wilmot! My best brother!—Though you have, in part, acquainted me with what is past, yet, it is so sudden—And you! my dearest Lady! To find you still the same is joy unspeakable!

Lady Morden.

The task of making you sup­pose I had effectually become what I seemed, was, indeed, most painful; but the loss of your affec­tion were not pain! 'Twere horror!—I told you my passion was too permanent to be shaken—Ah! how could you imagine I meant another? Or think it possible I ever could forget that chaste, that ardent, that eternal, love, I have so re­peatedly vowed?

Lord Morden.

Oh for words!—I am all love! gratitude! rapture! and amazement!

Gen. Burland.

And so is Sir Frederic, appa­rently—Nay, even you, Madam, seem a little surprised.

Mrs. Modely.
[Page 79]

Me! Oh dear, no.

Lady Morden.
[to Sir Frederic]

Dear Sir, though you are a deep and excellent plotter, if there have been counterplots—am I to blame?

[curtsies.]
Mrs. Modely.
[with affected candour]

Certainly not.

Lady Morden.

If man is sometimes vain, pre­sumptuous, and unprincipled, and if you are a man—am I to blame?

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Mr. Wilmot.

If I assumed a mean disguise, that I might aid a sister, to detect, and expose, the mean machinations of Seduction—am I to blame?

Mrs. Modely.

Certainly not.

Emily.

If, following the advice of this dear Lady

[to Lady Morden]

simplicity has made cun­ning outwit itself—am I to blame?

[curtsying first to Sir Frederic, and then to Mrs. Modely.]
Gen. Burland.
[with vast pleasure]

Certainly not.

Lady Morden.

If, since happiness is the pur­suit of us all, I wish to be as happy as possible—

[most affectionately taking Lord Morden's hand]

am I to blame?

Omnes.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.
[with affected ease]

Certainly not—So, the catechism being ended, the scholars may depart.

Mr. Wilmot.

Certainly not.

Sir Frederic.

Sir!

Mr. Wilmot.

You forget the bailiffs.

Lady Morden.

Besides, Sir Frederic, before you go, you must give me leave to introduce you to—

SCENE THE LAST.

To them HARRIET in woman's clothes presented by Lady Morden.

—This Lady.

Sir Frederic.

Harriet!

Harriet.

Yes, Sir—that Harriet, whom, hear­ing she had happiness in view, and proportioning your ideal triumph to the weight of misery you might entail, you raised heaven and earth to bring to wretchedness, and ruin.

Mrs. Modely.

Upon my honour, you—you are a sad man, Sir Frederic!—A very sad man!

[The company by their looks shew they understand Mrs. Modely's real character.]
Harriet.

But your vanity is humbled—you, now, stand detected; and, instead of envied, you will be sneered at by the depraved, pitied by the good, and, henceforth, avoided by the cre­dulous young creatures you, so manfully, have delighted to involve in guilt, and destruction!

Mrs. Modely.

A very dangerous man, indeed, Sir Frederic!

General.
[ironically]

Ay! beware of him, Madam.

Mrs. Modely.

Oh! I—I will!

Harriet.

Yes, Sir, the finger of scorn points where it ought: you are exposed, and my re­sentment is appeased.

Sir Frederic.

Then, Madam—the—the con­tract—

Harriet.

There it is, Sir.

[returns it]

I never meant to make any other use of it than what has [Page 81] been better effected, by different means.

[curtsy­ing to Lady Morden and Mr. Wilmot.]
Sir Frederic.

Madam!—

Harriet.

No thanks, Sir.

Gen. Burland.

No; they would sit a little awkwardly.

Lady Morden.

And now, Sir Frederic, if, af­ter this lesson, you should still retain your for­mer principles, and practices, and, hereafter, re­ceive a still severer punishment, I hope you will acknowledge—we are not to blame.

Exeunt Omnes.
[...]
[...]

EPILOGUE.

IN former times—'tis long ago, I own—
Man, seated on the haughty husband's throne,
The wife by such absurd restraints enclos'd,
Not one gallant had she—as he suppos'd:
But, modest, meek, his jealous doubts appeas'd,
And sooth'd her lord and master—when she pleas'd.
Then, women led such exemplary lives,
Daughters, almost, as humble were—a—as wives!
"A savage Salick law the men maintain'd;
"O monstrous! We were slaves! and husband's reign'd."—
Strange were these customs, obsolete; but we
Consolidate our customs—and, you see,
Such wise designs no opposition find:
A fair free trade is good for all mankind.
The lib'ral spirit of our lib'ral beauties
Has quite annull d prohibitory duties.
The Cicisbeo, and the chere amie,
On the broad base of reciprocity,
Are exports now, and imports, duty free.
As for this Lady Morden's motley merit,
With her half-ancient, her half-modern spirit,
You'll imitate the part you most approve;
Her modish licence, or her maukish love!
Of that no more—The subject of my speech,
The doctrine I came, purposely, to teach,
(Nay, look not low'ring, man of mighty sense)
Is rival woman's super-eminence—*
"Yes, we have proofs where wit, where taste combin'
"To deck, with blended charms, the female mind.
"Say, shall not we, with conscious pride, proclaim
"A female critic rais'd—ev'n Shakespear's Fame!
"Yes, lordly man—look surly if you please,
"But women beat you out and out, with ease!
"In tales of fancy, tenderness, distress,
"If you dare doubt us—study The Recess.
"And oft l [...]t soft Cecilia win your praise;
"While Reason guides the clue, in Fancy's maze.
[Page] "In tragedy our triumph all attest;
"Your tears the genuine proof who acts the best—
"In comedy—But hold—I dread to say
"How much, of late, ev'n there, you've lost the day."
No, I'll not humble your proud sex so far,
Till you no more remember—SUCH THINGS ARE.
Gladly our author owns, all this is true;
Nor thinks he's robb'd, when others have their due:
Yet, owning, hopes you've kindly heard his cause;
Hopes to participate your just applause.
And, should your hands some grateful wreath combine,
And should that wreath his anxious brow entwine,
The prize most precious mem'ry holds in store,
It there shall bloom—'till mem'ry is no more! 1

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