A WORD TO THE WISE, A COMEDY, AS IT WAS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, in DRURY-LANE.

WRITTEN BY HUGH KELLY, OF THE MIDDLE-TEMPLE, AUTHOR of FALSE DELICACY.

LONDON, PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, AND SOLD BY DODSLEY, IN PALL-MALL; J. AND E. DILLY, IN THE POULTRY; G. KEARSLY, IN LUDGATE-STREET; AND T. CADELL, IN THE STRAND.

MDCCLXX.

AN ADDRESS to the PUBLIC.

THE comedy here offered to the world, having been banished from the theatre, through the rage of po­litical prejudice, and the author having, through that prejudice, been no less attacked in his reputation than wounded in his fortune, it becomes necessary for him to justify his character as a man, however poor his abilities may be as a writer. — Popular resentment has had it's victim, and the sacrifice being now over, perhaps a few words may be heard in his defence.

For a considerable time, previous to the exhibition of the following scenes, two charges were industriously propagated against the author; and to these charges the unexampled severity exercised on his play may be wholly attributed: The first was, that Mr. Kelly prostituted the Public Ledger, a daily paper then under his direction, to the purposes of admi­nistration, in consequence of an annual pension he received; and, instead of conducting it upon principles of impartiality, would admit no letters whatever, unless professedly written in favour of government. — This accusation, though constantly rendered absurd by his readiness to insert every proper letter on each side of every public subject, gained no little credit, but gained it intirely among those who would not be at the trouble of examining into the truth. — At length the ca­lumny grew serious enough to demand some notice, and accordingly, on the 14th of February, 1769, the following reply was published in the Ledger, to a fresh attack by an anonymous correspondent upon the independency of that paper.

We can assure this gentleman (meaning the correspon­dent) that we have never suppressed any thing in favour of Mr. Wilkes's cause, which was in the least proper for pub­lication: But declare on the contrary, that we always have been and always shall be as ready to insert the productions of his friends, as the letters of his enemies. — Many pieces on both sides have reached us, which we were under a ne­cessity of rejecting, because they were too dangerous, or too absurd for admittance: yet we can with great truth aver, that we strictly keep to our title, and maintain the most dis­passionate impartiality, — we profess ourselves open to all [Page iv] parties, and cannot consistently with this profession refus any performance which seems dictated by a spirit of can dour, or an appearance of rational argument. Our cor­respondent, therefore, before he calls us partial, should really prove us so; and should first of all favour us with his essays in defence of Mr. Wilkes, before he pronounces posi­tively, that we will not indulge them with a place.

In fact, a paper to maintain a real impartiality, must be actuated by the principles of justice, not by the fear of cen­sure on the one hand, nor the hope of approbation on the other; and the conductors of it must be more solicitous to deserve the applause of their readers, than to obtain it. — Had the managers of the Ledger for instance, rejected any piece which came against the cause of Mr. Wilkes, through an apprehension of incurring the popular displeasure, they would have violated the assurance of impartiality, which they have so solemnly given to the public, and the opponents of that gentleman, would have a reasonable plea to reproach them with their palpable breach of faith. To accuse them consequently of partiality, argues a partiality in their accu­sers; and it is rather unfair in those, to deny others a li­berty of speaking upon national affairs, who constantly lay claim to such a privilege themselves,

These gentlemen must however remember, that, though the Ledger is open to all parties, it is influenced by none: And that the conductors, to merit the good opinion of all, must no more make a sacrifice of their justice at the shrine of popularity, than at the altar of government: they can therefore only repeat, that the advocates for Mr. Wilkes, will always be as acceptable to them, as any other corres­pondents, and they call upon his friends in this manner, to favour them with productions in his defence. What more can be desired at their hands? If the popular writers decline this candid invitation, the editors of the Ledger are intirely free from blame. They have bound themselves in a promise of undeviating impartiality to the whole public, and must by no means act inequitably to those who do oblige them with pieces for insertion, out of an unreason­able deference for those who do not.

This advertisement Mr. Kelly flattered himself would effectually undeceive the public; but here he was unhap­pily disappointed. Many who had repeatedly heard the charge against him, never once honoured the defence with a perusal; while many more who really read it, considered the very candour of it's declaration as a proof of crimi­nality, and would not allow any weight to the argument of justice, when opposed to what they looked upon as the cause of the people. — Mr. Kelly, however, determined, at [Page v] all events, to do his duty, conducted the Ledger on it's customary plan of impartiality, and many of the most po­pular gentlemen who have arraigned his conduct in the capacity of a public editor, well know that their letters, instead of being rejected, have been frequently inserted at the warning of an hour. — Besides, a review of the Ledger during Mr. Kelly's superintendency, will convince the most incredulous, that the severest animadversions were admitted on the proceedings of administration. — It was not Mr. Kelly's fault if the publications on the contrary side were the most numerous. — The correspondents of a news-paper will make it what they please, and the editor is not to consider in whose favour they write, but whether their writings are proper for insertion. — Whatever Mr. Kelly's own sentiments might be on political affairs, this was the only object of his inquiry: and it will appear, on a retrospection of the pieces printed, while he directed the Ledger, that Mr. Kelly has frequently complimented popular writers on account of their abilities, and civilly requested a continuation of their correspondence. — As to Mr. Kelly's own letters in the Ledger, they appeared but occasionally, from the number of volunteers who eager­ly crowded to the general service: Yet he will candidly confess, that when they did appear, they were not always in favour of popularity. This constitutes the second charge against him; and as he is above the despicable littleness of prevaricating, he will enter with confidence, and he hopes with decency, upon his justification.

Whether it has been Mr. Kelly's merit or demerit, to think from principle unpopularly, on the subject of the present un­happy dissensions, he will not pretend to say, but certainly it has been his misfortune; and though several of his discreeter friends repeatedly warned him of the danger his next piece would run on the stage, from an open declaration of his poli­tical opinions; still he did not imagine, that his profession as a public writer was to deprive him of his independence as a man —As he never presumed to be offended with the sentiments of others on matters of a national tendency, he claimed a right of expressing his own; and did not suppose his lite­rary character, precluded him from speaking upon a point which was the continual object of literary investigation. — Besides this, he little conceived that the advocates for free­dom of thinking, would be the first to manacle the mind; that the professed friends of candour would be the first to condemn without a hearing; and the avowed enemies of oppression be the only persons ready to exercise an unwar­rantable severity — He had at least a right to justice, if he had no pretence to favour, and merited surely a trial, though he might afterwards deserve to be condemned.— [Page vi] The heated hour of prejudice however, is not the hour of sober reflection; at such a season the very virtues of our hearts frequently lead us into mistakes; and we run into excesses which our cooler reason must disapprove, from an actual rectitude of intention. This was the case of numbers who opposed the exhibition of Mr. Kelly's play: they had been told he was a despicable mercenary, hired to write away their liberties, and therefore considered him as a very im­proper candidate for public approbation — they had been informed, that at the memorable trials of Mr Gillam, and of the soldier at Guildford, in consequence of the un­happy affair in St. George's fields, he had stood forth an advocate for the effusion of innocent blood; of course they beheld him with detestation; and their motive was really respectable, though their resentment was wholly ex­cited by misinformation or mistake.

It is true indeed Mr. Kelly, as well as an account of the two remarkable trials just mentioned, wrote, during the course of our domestic disunion, many other papers in sup­port of government, and in vindication of parliament; but he never exercised his trifling pen where he did not suppose both to be right, nor delivered a single sentence that was not the result of his amplest conviction. — With regard to the two trials, he represented them as they really were, not as they might be wished in print, by the over zealous advocates of freedom. — And so far was he from being once employed, since his existence, by administration, to exert his poor abilities in their cause, that he here protests, before the public, he never expected or received the smallest emo­lument for his little services. — Never was directly or in­directly connected with a minister in his days, nor has he even at this moment, though suffering so severely on account of his attachment to government, either solicited or received a shilling compensation for that bread, which he and his family have lost in it's defence.

HERE possibly Mr. Kelly may be asked, how, ‘unplac'd, un­pension'd, no man's heir or slave,’ he could be idle enough to risk the favour of a town, that had honoured him with the warmest marks of approbation in his first dramatic attempt, for the mere purpose of serving a government from which he had not received the minutest favour or protection? To this Mr. Kelly replies, that in serving government, where he thought it ought to be served, he looked upon himself as rendering very essential benefit to the community. — Know­ing it the duty of every good subject to promote, instead of disturbing, the national tranquility, he used his humble endeavours, rather to extinguish than animate the torch of public discord, and strove, as far as so insignificant an in­dividual [Page vii] could strive, to wrest it from the hand of every po­litical enthusiast, who madly attempted to set his country in flames. With this view he particularly gave an account of the two trials that have exposed him to so much unmerited obloquy. Being well convinced, that, during the rage of party, truth would undergo a torture upon the wheel of prejudice, Mr. Kelly, determined to give a faithful narrative of these remarkable decisions. He accordingly attended; he accordingly gave a real state of both to the world; and though he has been calumniated in the gross, as a shameless abettor of murder, no attempt has hitherto been made to point out, in his representation, the smallest perversion of a fact. — This was easy to be done, had he been employed as the vernisher of guilt; the trials were not carried on in secret, but in the full face of day; not solely before the re­tainers of a court, but before the warmest sons of popularity: Mr. Kelly was not culpable if the prisoners were wholly without blame; he only acquitted those in his relation, who were acquitted by the laws of their country, and only ex­plained how that innocence was made apparent, which the too decissive voice of partiality had previously condemned.

Mr. Kelly's account of the trials was received with general surprize, because the public, by a succession of papers in the daily and other prints, had been taught to consider Mr. Gillam and the soldier unquestionably guilty. — On their acquittal therefore the intemperate friends to the po­pular cause, (Mr. Kelly says the intemperate friends, because he knows many of the most rational, as well as the most wor­thy members of the community, from principle in opposition,) wished to throw a stigma on the court, where they were tried, and wished to prejudice the world with an opinion, that both owed their preservation more to the dexterity of judicial chicane, than to their real innocence. — Mr. Kelly, however, by setting the transactions in a plain, an honest light, prevented the intended insult to the courts, but drew the whole weight of party resentment upon himself, and the doctrine having been long successfully inculcated among the people, that whoever spoke, much less whoever wrote, against popular prejudices, must necessarily be the hireling of government, Mr. Kelly became gradually stigmatized into such a por­tion of politcal consequence, that the suppression of his co­medy was considered as a triumph over administration; so that the curtain was no sooner raised on the first night than a loud hissing prevented the performers from begin­ning the play a considerable time; — while on the other hand, the plaudits of Mr. Kelly's numerous friends, to whose goodness he stands eternally indebted, as well as of the unprejudiced, who desired to give him a fair hearing, and afterwards to express their censure or approbation, render­ed the confusion general. At last the performance com­menced [Page viii] — but went on with incessant interruptions; except only in the third act, to the conclusion. The performers totally disconcerted by the tumult, were unable to exercise their abilities, or to remember their parts — whole speeches, essentially necessary to the conduct of the fable, were left out, and others mutilated for the sake of brevity. —In short, the sole consideration was to get the comedy through the five acts in any manner. — This, with much difficulty, was [...]ffected, and it was given out for the following Monday. A new contest now arose: the opposers of the play insisted, with an uncustomary severity, that it should never be exhibited again. — The supporters insisted that it should, on the Mon­day, according to the public intimation from Mr. King; but Mr. Kelly, fearing the consequences of a dispute that appeared extremely serious, proposed behind the scenes, to withdraw his piece at once, for the sake of restoring peace, and the tragedy of Cymbeline was given out in it's room.

This conciliating measure, however, was not attended with the desired effect. The friends of the play, who were greatly the majority, would by no means admit the comedy to be withdrawn; and, after the farce, above two hundred gentle­men calling out for the manager, and threatening immediate demolition, to the house, if A WORD to the WISE was not performed, as originally given out, Mr. Lacy, the only manager then in town, sent Mr. Hopkins, the prompter, to assure the company it should, and all terminated peaceably for that evening.

It was no difficult matter to foresee that the theatre, on the succeeding Monday night, would be a scene of fresh tumult; and the consequences appearing more and more alarming to Mr. Kelly, he went to Mr. Garrick, who came to town on the Sunday morning, to consult with him on the best means of preserving peace, and it was concluded, that Mr. Kelly should wait on his friends, and request that they would give up the point. — Mr. Kelly accordingly did so, observ­ing, that the interests of a single individual were of little consideration, when weighed against the repose of a whole public. — He observed, as he has repeatedly done in the course of the present narrative, that prejudices had been strongly propagated against him, and that the very severity he had experienced from many of his enemies, though un­justifiable in the manner, yet in the motive was really lauda­ble. The moment of party heat, he frequently added, was not the moment to reason; and that however he might be injured in his circumstances, by the suppression of his play, he would suffer the injury with pleasure, if he could by any means restore the tranquility of the town, which he had so un­happily, though so innocently, disturbed. — To this his friends replied, that the cause was not his cause now, but [Page ix] the public's; that if party disputes were once introduced into the theatre, our most rational amusements must be quickly at an end, that the number of writers at present for the stage was sufficiently small, and that they would not suffer the town to be controuled in it's pleasures from private pique or personal resentment: all they contended for was a fair hearing for the piece; that if it deserved condemna­tion, they themselves would be the first to give it up; but, till it received an equitable trial, they would not allow a triumph to prejudice professed, and acknowledged partiality.

In this state the affair rested till the Monday evening, when, on Mr. King's appearance, to speak the prologue, the opposition, with increased numbers, hissed, cat-called, and threw oranges: on the other side the demand for the new play was equally violent, the supporters turned several out of the house, whom they considered as general disturbers; however Mr. Garrick went on, in the author's name, with a formal renunciation of every emolument, of every reputa­tion arising from his small endeavours for the public amuse­ment; adding, that he was not only ready, but desirous to concur with their pleasure, though to the total disappoint­ment both of his wishes and intere [...], and begged the sacri­fice he then so chearfully offered might be allowed to ter­minate the contention. Things nevertheless continued in the same confusion for a considerable time, — during which Mr. Garrick often retired and returned, — but at last advanced with a paper in his hand, from Mr. Kelly, containing a written repetition of the foregoing request, and desiring permission, as the only means of re-establishing harmony, to withdraw his comedy wholly from the theatre.

When Mr. Garrick attempted to read this paper, a de­mand was made from the gallery, to know whether it was a political production, but though the demand occasioned no little laughter among the opposers of the piece, it only augmented the spirit of the author's friends, by rendering the views of party still more and more visible. — The play of Cymbeline being loudly insisted upon on the one [...]nd, was loudly prohibited on the other; and near three hours having passed in acts of annoyance and hostility, Mr. Kelly was so exceedingly alarmed for the event, that he c [...]e himself into the front boxes, and from the fro [...]t boxes, on the galleries calling out they could not se [...] him, into the pit, and there, turning towards the audience, he expressed his apprehensions for their safety, begged they would be satisfied with what he had done, which was all he had in his power to do for their preservation, and not, by injuring one another, wound him irreparably in his peace.

Though in no degree so successful as he wished, he ne­vertheless so far prevailed, that a proposition on his [Page x] retiring was suggested for False Delicacy to be given the ensuing night, for his benefit by way of compromise: a gen­tleman then stood up in the pit, and asked Mr. Garrick, whether consenting to these measures would, or would not, be an impediment to Mr. Kelly's bringing any future productions on the stage — to which that gentleman had no sooner given a negative, than a second person from the gallery cried out, Expulsion means incapacitation. Mr. Kelly, acquainted with these particulars, went to Mr. Garrick and declined the favour intended him — observing, that he by no means meant to wring a benefit from the cha­rity of the public — that if he deserved one benefit he was intitled to three, and that the theatre had already sustained sufficient loss upon his account. — But Mr. Garrick generously told him, that the theatre was much the best able to bear a loss; though, supposing the case otherwise, neither he nor Mr. Kelly, as public men, had a right on that occasion to dispute a determination of the public. Here the matter rested for that night, as there was no play, the money was returned, and the audience retired seemingly well recon­ciled.

Notwithstanding the compromise of the foregoing even­ing, and notwithstanding Mr. Kelly desired that the play­bills should contain no intimation that the performance of False Delicacy was intended for his benefit, a report univer­sally prevailed that the opposition were determined not to suffer the exhibition of False Delicacy, which had long been honoured with the approbation of all parties, merely because it was written by the author of a Word to the Wise. Mr. Kelly on this, imagining that the circumstance of his being to receive the profits, of the night, and not any objection which could be raised to an established comedy, must be the sole foundation of this fresh resentment, waited upon his friends and begged they would allow him to relinquish his title to these profits since they were so likely to renew the disturbances of the theatre. His friends however were for a long time inflexible — they pronounced a violation of the compromise, no less injurious to the public, than in­sulting to them, and added, that they would never have listen­ed to any compromise, if he had not been so importunately solicitous to give up every thing for peace — but Mr. Kelly representing the prejudice the managers must neces­sarily sustain, by a contention of the present nature between the public, and pointing out the prejudice also which every individual belonging to the play-house must as necessarily sustain, by an interruption of the customary bu­siness — his friends yielded to these arguments, and permit­ted Mr. Kelly to forego the advantages of the night, to [Page xi] prevent the managers and the performers from suffering in a dispute, where it was equally their interest and their duty to consult the wishes of the auditors.

These precautions being taken by Mr. Kelly, he repaired to the theatre on the Tuesday evening with some degree of satisfaction; but, on the opening of the play the confu­sion was as violent as ever, though Mr. Garrick, from Mr. Kelly, assured the opposition, that the play was not to be per­formed for the benefit of the author — This assurance how­ever was by no means sufficient; the comedy of False Deli­cacy was written by Mr. Kelly, and therefore though in possession of the stage among the number of stock play [...], was now to be condemned — to effect this purpose, an up­roar in the theatre was not only judged necessary, but the following hand bill was distributed at all the doors.

To the PUBLIC.

YOU cannot be ignorant that one wretch in that in­famous banditti, hired by administration to explain away the rights of an insulted people, is the author of a Word to the Wise. As a comic writer, his universal want of abilities has rendered him contemptible. As a politician, his principles are detestable. For these united reasons, you were pleased to forbid the representation of his play on Saturday, and pre­vent it's performance last night.

The author himself begged leave to withdraw it: yet his party are now determined, that you shall support the writer, though you reject the play. This night's represen­tation is for his benefit. Shall he with impunity assume a power repugnant to your own? — If the priviledge of managers be imposition, the duty of an English audience must be obedience.

Tuesday, March 6, 1770.

The heat with which proceedings were thus conducted on the part of opposition, gave room to imagine, that the audi­ence would, as upon the preceding night, be dismissed with­out any play. — But Mr. Kelly's friends were now no longer able to suppress their indignation, and being determined to make no farther concessions, they exerted themselves so effec­tually, that False Delicacy was performed, though with very considerable interruption. — Whole speeches, nay, whole scenes were obliged to be omitted, and such was the rage of undistinguishing prejudice, that it even attacked the personal safety of the female performers — This was not all, when the attempt to suppress False Delicacy proved abortive, the ene­mies of the author demanded their money, and appeared [Page xii] unwilling to pay for the mischief they really did, because, they had not effected as much as they actually wished to do.

The conclusion of the farce happily produced a general calm, and though the theatrical horizon seemed pregnant with a storm the succeeding evening, it's serenity still continued, and perhaps, will never be again disturbed by any of Mr. Kelly's productions. There is nothing more necessary to add with regard to the exhibition of A Wora to the Wise, than that such was the judicious conduct of Mr. Garrick and Mr. King, that what they gained on the one hand, they never lost on the other, [...] the amusement of the public had in the first in­sta [...] been the only object of their attention, so it was ap­parent the public tranquility was, in the second, the only ob­ject of their care: And whatever inconveniences they them­selves might be exposed to, they were incapable of deviating from the rules of politeness, of good sense, and manly con­descension.

After a sacrifice of his interest, so ample, so unreserved, for the sake of restoring tranquility in the theatre, it might perhaps be expected that Mr. Kelly's enemies would have thought themselves sufficiently gratified; but prejudice has many appetites to glut, and we seldom listen to the sen­timents of justice, where we have publicly committed a vio­lence upon our reason. — It was therefore no way wonderful, though his cause was the common cause of letters, to find many of the periodical prints constantly filled with the gross­est scurrilities against him; but, in this they rather gratified his pride, than wounded his sensibility; they only exalted him on the roll of slander, among the most illustrious cha­racters in the kingdom, and made him an object of impor­tance, by making him an object of implacable resentment.

One attack however he cannot help mentioning in this place, though it leads to a repetition of the Guildford Trial, because it came from a quarter wholly unexpected; and from a quarter also too respectable to be overlooked, from the reve­rend Mr. Horne, at the meeting of the Middlesex freeholders at Mile-End, on Friday the 30th of April. At this meeting Mr. Horne, in summing up the various grievances under which he supposed the nation groaning from the tyranny of administration, took occasion to descant on the soldier's trial for the murder of the unfortunate Mr. Allen, and expressed himself thus — ‘It is necessary to give you an account of Maclean's trial, because the judge forbad it's being taken down by any one, except it was government. — It has never been published — A very false account of this trial has indeed been published by Mr. KELLY, who was paid and brought to Guildford for that purpose, and who had lodgings taken for him there, and who was familiarly conversant with a gen­tleman, whose name I shall not mention now, lest it should [Page xiii] seem to proceed from resentment in me, for an account I have to settle with him next week; however one circumstance I ought to tell you; this gentleman was foreman of the grand jury.—’

Without dwelling on Mr. Horne's extraordinary tenderness to the gentleman whose name he will not mention, while he points him clearly out to every apprhension, Mr. Kelly will suppose that what was asserted with regard to him, Mr. Horne himself believed to be indisputably true — Nay, Mr. Kelly is seriously of this opinion, because many gen­tlemen of unquestionable veracity have assured him, that, ab­stracted from the intemperance of party, Mr. Horne is in his understanding enlarged, and in his disposition liberal. On these accounts however, Mr. Kelly differed from the po­litician, he always respected Mr Horne's private character, and did justice to what he considered the well meaning, though mistaken zeal of the soirited freeholder, in the moment of his deepest concern at hearing a minister of peace, preach­ing discord through his country, and expressing an impatience of dying the vestments of his sacred function, in the blood of his fellow subjects.

But though Mr. Kelly readily makes this concession in favour of Mr. Horne's private character, he must observe, that the constitution of this country, for the purity of which Mr. Horne is so strenuous an advocate, does not allow the mere belief of any man to be positive evidence, nor com­pliment his simple conjecture with the force of a fact. — For this reason, Mr. Horne should be extremely cautious how he asserts any thing to the prejudice of another's reputation; hearsay authority is not enough for this purpose; he should know of his own knowledge what he asserts upon his own word; and be certain in his proof, where he is peremptory in his accu­sation. — If a circumspection of this nature is necessary in every man of honour, it must give Mr. Horne much mortification to hear, after he has represented Hugh Kelly, to the free­holders of Middlesex, as a venal scribler, a shameless instrument of power, an atrocious defender of murder, that the whole charge should be utterly groundless— That Kelly's account of Maclean's trial, should be true in every circumstance, that Kel­ly never expected or received a shilling for writing it, and that in the course of his days he has not once changed a syllable with Mr Onslow, notwithstanding the conversant familiarity at Guildford.

Strange however as all these things must appear, after Mr. Horne's positive affirmation to the contrary, all these things are most religiously veritable; and Mr. Horne is in this public manner called upon to prove an iota of his charge; it is his business to support his own allegations, not Mr. Kelley's, to [Page xiv] endeavour at establishing negatives. — Let him therefore spi­ritedly proceed to his proofs. — He has pronounced Mr. Kelly guilty, let him now shew in what his guilt consists. — The most tyrannical minister can do no more than convict without evidence—in him however despotism is to be expected. But surely the rigid advocate for justice will not follow so dangerous an example; he will act reasonably while he con­tends for reason, and conduct himself upon principles of legality, while he is generously struggling for the preservation of the laws.

In reality, if there is no more foundation in Mr. Horne's celebrated speech, for the charges brought against govern­ment, than for the charges urged against Mr. Kelly, the catalogue of public grievances is rather ludicrous than me­lancholy. But without troubling Mr. Horne to support his assertions, Mr. Kelly will shew these very assertions self-refuted; he will prove them as inconsistent, as they are positive, and rest his defence entirely on the nature of Mr. Horne's accusation.

Mr. Horne sets out with saying that the judge would not suffer the trial to be taken down by any body, except it was for government — Several nevertheless took it down, and among the rest Mr. Chinnery and Mr. Gurney the professed short hand writers—Numbers besides committed the most ma­terial passages to paper, and some to Mr. Kelly's knowledge not for Government; but, Mr. Kelly will say, that had he been hired by administration for the infamous purpose Mr. Horne mentions, it is not likely that the use of a pen would have been at all permitted in the court; it is not likely, that the judge would allow a real account of a trial to be taken, where a prostitute writer was particularly employed to misre­present it, nor is it likely that the ministry, while wishing to stand well with the world, would furnish such palpable evidence of it's own dishonour—If there was any thing ille­gal in the proceeding of the court — If an unwarrantable stretch of power rescued the prisoner from justice, why has not the transaction been held up to universal in dignation? — Why is it not recorded in the list of grievances presented to the throne? — To make a solemn court of judicature the pan­dar of despotic authority would have been a crime of the first magnitude; it would have shaken the constitution to it's centre, and overwhelmed the minister with inevitable destruction. — But, wicked as some gentlemen in opposition might suppose the Government, they could not suppose it weak enough to overturn the laws thus desperately at once, for the mere end of saving a private foot soldier from punish­ment; a pardon was an easy expedient, and mercy was not then considered criminal—Besides, were the ostensible men in power as ruthless as they have been painted, they would [Page xv] have given the prisoner up at once, they would have been regardless of his fate, nor would they have attempted to save him from the gibbet, by methods that must have un­avoidably hurried themselves to the block. The question is not whether the unhappy Mr. Allen lost a son, but Whe­ther that son fell by the hands of Maclean? — Humanity is melted when it thinks of a slaughtered child, and a weeping father — But humanity must still be just — it must not with for victims without guilt, nor dry up the tears of sorrowing relations with a sacrifice of unoffending blood.

The last part of Mr. Horne's assertion is to the full as ex­traordinary as the first. Mr. Kelly is made culpable for being farmiliarly conversant with the foreman of the grand jury at Guildford; though certainly, if there was a necessity for any mention of the grand juryman he ought to be mentioned with respect; because the grand jury found the bill against Maclean, and consequently, in that circumstance, advanced the very wishes of popularity — Instead therefore of con­demning Mr. Kelly for his intimacy with Mr. Onslow in the present case, that intimacy ought to be an argument in Mr. Kelly's favour — But the truth is, Mr. Kelly in the whole course of his existence, never once spoke to Mr. Onslow, the grand juryman alluded to, knowing who he was, nor he believes at any rate, because he knows Mr. Onslow's person, and is flattered with the possession of a tol­lerable memory—however, if Mr. Horne has evidence to the contrary—let him produce it — if not, let him for the future be more certain of his facts, or less peremptory in his assertions.

But possibly, though Mr. Horne is a strong enemy to exa­mination by interrogatory, he may nevertheless choose to ask Mr. Kelly what business carried him to Guildford, if he did not go as a literary prostitute in favour of govern­ment? To this Mr. Kelly will reply with another question, What business had Mr. Horne there? Mr. Kelly surely has as much right to indulge his curiosity, and to support what he conceives a just cause, as that gentleman — Mr. Horne cannot be a warmer well wisher to true freedom, and to na­tional happiness than Mr. Kelly, though he pursues a very different plan of promoting them — Mr. Kelly's political opinions may be erroneous — but his intention is right — Had he been the venal thing he is represented, he might have carried his venality to a certain market — Popular ap­plause is always fortune to a public writer of prudence, and the part Mr. Kelly has taken may be an impeachment of his judgment, but argues no depravity of his heart.

Upon the whole, with regard to Mr. Horne, if Mr. Kelly's account of the Guildford trial i. false, let Mr. Horne point [Page xvi] the fallacy out; if Mr. Kelly has been hired to write it let Mr. Horne mention by whom—and if it is criminal to be familiarly conversant with Mr. Onslow, let Mr. Horne support a single instance of Mr. Kelly's familiarity with that gentle­man. — Mr. Horne soon after Mr. Kelly's account of the Guildford trial appeared, promised the world a true state of that remarkable affair, and if Mr. Kelly shamefully misrepre­sented facts, the appearance of Mr. Horne's pamphlet was doubly necessary — That pamphlet has never yet appeared; and it cannot be supposed that a temper so ready to fire at light occasions as Mr. Horne's, would suppress it, had there been any material cause of complaint to lay before the people.

Mr. Kelly has taken up a great deal of room with his tri­fling concerns, for which he ought to apologize, but as the publication of his play by subscription, proceeded entirely from the generous partiality of his friends, he thought it his duty to let them at least see, that though they might be sup­porting a dull writer, they were encouraging an honest man—The piece, with all it's imperfections on it's head, is now before the world; and the author hopes, if it should even set the reader fast asleep, that nothing it contains will rouze his indignation: the most careful father he thinks may put it into the hands of his daughter, without any fear of wounding her delicacy, or unhinging her principles—This is it's chief, perhaps it's only merit, and perhaps, had it been heard on the stage with patience, it might have been condemned with justice — Mr. Kelly will therefore console himself with his optimist Willoughby, by thinking every thing happens for the best, and look upon that very prejudice which has suppressed his poor performance as ultimately for­tunate, since it may have been the means of preserving his little share of reputation.

He cannot however conclude this address without an ob­servation or two upon the melancholy situation of dramatic writers—and as it is possible that he himself may never more venture a production on the stage, he hopes what he has further to advance, will merit an additional considera­tion from his readers.

The great decline of dramatic genius in this country, has been for many years an object of general concern with the public, and the lovers of the theatre have ardently wished, that some happy stimulus might be discovered to encrease the number of writers for the stage; yet, though this wish has prevailed universally, and though the credit, as well as the emolument arising from a successful play is not; a little tempting, still the danger attending the representation of the best pieces, is so considerable, that the few writers blessed with easy fortunes do not choose to run the hazard, and [Page xvii] most of those who live by the sale of their productions, are content to follow studies less profitable, for a more cer­tain reward of their labours.

Besides this, the difficulty, the toil, the downright drudgery of writing a good play is inconceivable; it is a work which requires long time and a close application; it is a work in which neither the most extensive erudition, nor the most ac­curate understanding can ensure an author success— In eve­ry other species of composition, judgment, genius, and edu­cation are almost certain of a triumph—but here knowledge of the world is indispensibly requisite—An acquaintance with the manners, and with the passions is requisite. — Nor are these sufficient without an invention to strike out variety; and a skill to produce effects, by a forcible display of situa­tion — It is not the good sense only of an audience which is addressed — but their feelings; they must be agreeably sur­prized while they are publicly instructed, and the Muse, like other beauties, must be ravishing to the general eye, before she can be dear to the general heart.

When therefore the difficulty attending a dramatic work is so considerable; when perhaps there is another considerable difficulty to get a play received by the stage, and another still to find a capital company of performers to represent it, instead of wondering that the number of writers is so small, we should in reality wonder how it is so respectable. — But if we look still farther, we shall be surprized that any author risks his bark upon the dangerous ocean of the theatre — It is a melancholy truth, that the people who write most for the stage, are rather remarkable for their inge­nuity than their opulence. — On this account a disappoint­ment to them is an essential misfortune. Yet a few private enemies can at all times frustrate their expectations. In vain an unfortunate man of letters may labour for many months with a laudable view of entertaining the town, and improv­ing his own circumstances; — and in vain he may exert his utmost efforts to merit the protection of an audience, if he has unhappily given one individual an offence. The moment his piece is talked of, a party is possibly formed to damn it; and many who would not join this party from malevolence, give it countenance, for the pleasure, as it is called, of kick­ing up a riot in the playhouse. — Thus the littleness of per­sonal pique, and the levity of inconsiderate laughter, have the poet totally at their mercy. — The curtain rises, and the storm begins; nor can the generous interposition of nine tenths among the auditors preserve the play from destruc­tion. There is as much confusion created by the desire of go on, go on, as by the cry, go off, go off. What­ever disturbs the representation has a tendency to injure it; [Page xviii] so that a performance exhibited during a state of contention must despair of success; — the supporters constantly interrupted have no opportunity of being entertained, and naturally enough, perhaps attribute the fault to the author; while the opposition decisively pronouncing upon what is predetermined not to hear, kindly brands him with the epithet of an incorrigible, dance, and, not content with the injury done to his fortune, makes an equal attack upon his literary character.

Such being the situation of dramatic genius in this country, let the public themselves judge, whether an author has any mighty encouragement to write for the stage. — Perhaps the poet, treated in the manner now described, has no dependence but his talents; perhaps upon the success of the very piece thus suppressed he built his chief establish­ment in life, and founded every future prospect of bringing up a growing family with reputation. — What must his feel­ings then be, to find his hopes all blasted in a single hour — to find the very labour, possibly of years, destroyed in an instant, by the people for whose entertainment he laboured; and to see the bread not only wrested from the hands of his unoffending little ones, but to see them even exposed to the still persecuting resentment of prejudice, for the imaginary offences of their father. — What must be his feelings — Yet for­bear humanity to inquire — the answer will harrow up your bosom — Generosity, turn away from the picture, it must deluge you with tears.—The scene of poetical distress however sketched to the reader's imagination, thanks to the goodness of Providence, is far from being Mr. Kelly's situation; but it often has been, and often may be, the situ­ation of a much worthier man.—Mr. Kelly is affluent beyond his merits—nay, beyond his utmost hopes, he possesses the riches of content in a very extensive manner, and can sit down to his humble repast with pleasure, in the honest recol­lection that it is punctually paid for.

The difficulties here pointed out, for dramatic genius to encounter, are difficulties to which every writer for the stage is constantly exposed; but the danger becomes infinitely more formidable, if, in times of party feud, he renders himself in the least disagreeable to the popular side of the question; the unreflecting virtue of numbers then, as in Mr. Kelly's case, will arm against him, and think it meritorious to condemn the production, that punishment may be inflicted upon the imputed delinquency of the man. — In times like the present therefore, what is a dramatic writer to do? — To hold his tongue, replies cold blooded prudence. — And what has the unfortunate man of letters committed, that he alone of all the community is to be denied the privilege of speaking his sentiments? Say, ye various sons of science, will you sub­mit [Page xix] to this despicable slavery of the mind? Are you, above the generality of mankind, distinguished for your education and your understanding, to be refused an opinion, where an opi­nion is deemed the birth-right of your meanest fellow-sub­ject? Shall it be your glory to inculcate lessons of generosity and independence, and yet be your crime to practise these lessons yourselves? — Shall your writings breathe the noblest spirit of candour, and your lives be a round of the poorest dissimulation? — Shall you think your country in dan­ger, and yet be afraid to speak a syllable for it's preser­vation? — No, you will not tear the siner principles from your breasts; you will not set an example of so abject a disingenuity. — Whatever meets the approbation of your judgment, will be supported by the sanction of your voice, and however you may meet with reproach, you will at least be careful not to deserve it. — When administration is inde­fensible, you will be too honest to combat in it's cause; but, at the same time you will not hesitate to condemn the errors of popularity. — You will be always animated by a real solicitude for the public, and be as careful to guard against the extravagance of it's over-zealous friends, as to provide against the machinations of it's most politic enemies. — Acting thus you may be poor, but you will ever be respectable. — Posterity will do you justice, if you are even oppressed by your cotemporaries, and you will find ample resources in the consciousness of your integrity, to compensate for the severest disappointments in your fortune.

To conclude — If men of talents have an equal right of thinking with the rest of their fellow-subjects, and if they are not precluded by the generally acknowledged superiority of their understandings, from declaring their sentiments upon subjects of national importance, the lovers of the drama must see that nothing can be so dangerous to the existence of genius, as the introduction of political disputes into the theatre. The party which condemns a writer of different principles on one day, may see a favourite author, sacrificed the very next by their enemies in politics; and the violence may continue till there is scarcely an individual hardy enough to furnish our managers with a piece. The state of the stage is at present sufficiently deplorable; and it's litera­ture, instead of wanton opposition, calls loudly for the ge­nerous hand of public encouragement. — Give it this en­couragement therefore, ye wise, and ye worthy — rescue your writers from the worst of all tyrannies, and no longer form your minds by the sentiments of those, who are not allowed to possess any minds of their own.

A LIST OF THE SUBCRIBERS

A
  • THE Right Hon. the Countess of Anglesea, 4 copies
  • Roger Altham, Esq.
  • Mr. A —, 2 copies
  • — Arboin, Esq. 2 copies
  • Mr. John Alexander
  • Mr. Arnold, 2 copies
  • Alexander Anderson, Esq. 2 copies
  • William Arnold, Esq.
  • Mr. John Adams
  • Edward Athawes, Esq.
  • Mr. Arnold
  • Mr. Addington
  • Latham Arnold, Esq.
  • Charles Alexander, Esq.
  • Mr. Thomas Ayre
  • Mr. Theodore Aylward
  • James Ashurst, Esq. 4 copies
  • Leonard Ashurst, Esq. 4 copies
  • Stephen Ashurst. Esq. 4 copies
  • Felix Arden, Esq. 4 copies
  • Ambrose Arden, Esq 4 copies
  • Mr. William Alsop, 2 copies
  • Mrs. Alexander
  • Matthew Ascoygh, Esq.
  • Peter Askew, Esq.
  • Mr. Archedeacon
  • Mr. Appleby
  • Mr. Andrews
  • Mrs. Andrews
  • Miss Andrews
  • Miss Kitty Andrews
  • Miss Aislabie, 8 copies
  • Mr. Arbuthnot, 4 copies
  • Mr. Archbold
  • Mr. Auberry
  • Mr. Armitage
  • Mr. Atkinson
  • Mr. Abbott, 4 copies
  • Charles Ainsworth, Esq.
  • Alexander Ainsworth, Esq.
  • William Aldrich, Esq. 4 copies
  • Edmund Aldrich, Esq. 4 copies
  • Robert Ascot, Esq. 4 copies
  • William Altham, Esq.
  • Richard Alton, Esq.
  • Mrs. Alton
  • Miss Alton
  • Miss Fanny Alton
  • Ashford Society
  • John Alsop, Esq.
B.
  • His Grace the Duke of Bed­ford
  • The Right Hon. the Earl of Buckinghamshire
  • Benj Brockhurst, Esq. 4 copies
  • Daniel Bayne, Esq. 4 copies
  • Allatson Burgh, Esq. 4 copies
  • Richard Blunt, Esq.
  • Mr. Bright, 2 copies
  • [Page]The Rev. Mr. B.
  • Theob. B urke, Esq. 4 copies
  • Thomas Butler, Esq.
  • Mrs. Broughton
  • Mrs. Barlow
  • Miss Brooke
  • Mr. Bollard
  • Mr. Thomas Barke, 4 copies
  • Joseph Brockhurst, Esq.
  • Mrs. Brockhurst
  • Mr. Brockhurst
  • Mr. Baughan
  • — Bivin, Esq.
  • Mr. Edward Berry
  • — Barbute, Esq.
  • — Burfoot, Esq.
  • William Blake, Esq.
  • Mr. John Borwick
  • Samuel Baldwin, Esq.
  • James Bradshaw, Esq.
  • Charles Blackwell, Esq.
  • Mr. Beard
  • Mr. Bell
  • Francis Buxton, Esq. 4 copies
  • Samuel Been, Esq. 4 copies
  • Francis Blake, Esq.
  • Mr. Neeve Berwick
  • Mr. T. Bowles
  • Mr. J Bowles
  • Mr. Charles Barrow
  • John Bird, Esq. Alderman
  • Mrs. Braddyll
  • Mr. Thomas Browne, 3 copies
  • Capt. George Burn
  • Mr. Browne, 2 copies
  • Mr. Samuel Broome
  • Elias Boudenott, Esq. of Eli­zabeth-town, New-Jersey, 4 copies
  • Isaac Buxton, Esq.
  • Michael Barret, Esq.
  • James Boswell, Esq.
  • John Blake, Esq. 2 copies
  • John Burke, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. W. Bristow
  • Mr. James Brooke
  • Mr. Bonham
  • Mr. Buller
  • Mr. Burton, 6 copies
  • Mr. Brandon, 4 copies
  • Everard Baker, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. Bourdineau
  • Arthur Bolton, Esq.
  • Ralph Bolton, Esq.
  • Mr. Birch
  • Mr. Baxter
  • Mr. Burroughs. 8 copies —
  • William Bailie, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mrs. Bailie, 4 copies
  • Mr Bartholemon
  • Mrs. Bartholemon
  • Mr. Butterworth
C.
  • His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland
  • The Right Hon. the Earl of Chesterfield
  • Lady Frances Coningsby
  • Charles Criket, Esq. 21 copies
  • Mr. Francis Const
  • Rev. Mr. C —
  • Mr. Cooke
  • Mr. Tukes Coulson
  • Mr. Coffin, 4 copies
  • — Clifford, Esq.
  • Edward Cheslyn, Esq.
  • Mr. Thomas Collins
  • Mr. T. Clarke
  • The Rev. Augustus Calvert
  • — Crawford, Esq.
  • Mr. Coker
  • Osmond Cooke, Esq.
  • — Crofts, Esq.
  • — Caine, Esq.
  • Samuel Court, Esq. 2 copies
  • Felix Calvert, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. R. Collins
  • — Crank, Esq. 2 copies
  • John Augustus Corner, Esq.
  • Machel Wilkins Conway, Esq.
  • Mr. Richard Clay
  • Michael Collinson, Esq.
  • John Catton, Esq.
  • Mr. Cook
  • Mr. Richard Curson
  • Mr. Warwick Calmady, 2 copies
  • [Page]John Coryton, Esq.
  • Mr. John Cumberlege
  • Mr. F. A. Cumberlege
  • Mr. Cooper
  • The Rev. Dr. C —, 8 copies
  • Francis Carey, Esq. 4 copies
  • Henry Carey, Esq. 4 copies
  • James Castleton, Esq
  • William Cotes, Esq. 2 copies
  • Richard Clifton, Esq.
  • Mr. Abraham Carson
  • Robert Caldwell, Esq.
  • Mr. Caldicot, 4 copies
  • Mrs. Caldicot, 4 copies
  • Mr. Crewe, 2 copies
  • Captain Child
  • Mr. Chamberlain
  • Mrs. Chamberlain
  • Miss Chamberlain
  • Miss Harriot Chamberlain
  • Roger Coulston, Esq. 4 copies
  • Edward Coleman, Esq.
  • Mrs. Coleman
  • Miss Coleman
  • William Capel, Esq.
  • Antony Carew, Esq.
  • Mr. David Cross, 3 copies
  • Mr. Elisha Calder
  • Mr. C.
  • Mrs.C.
  • Archibald Corrie, Esq. 2
  • copies
  • Mrs. Corrie, 2 copies
  • Mr. Conway
  • Mr. Henry Constable, 2 copies
  • Edward Car, Esq.
  • Mrs. Car
  • Rowland Carter, Esq.
  • Mr. Craveh
  • Mr. Cotton, 4 copies
  • William Crook shank, Esq.
  • Captain Robert Campbell, 2 copies
  • Captain Crowe
  • Mr. Francis Cowper
  • Mr. Thomas Cowper
  • Miss Crosbie, 4 copies
D.
  • The Right Hon. the Earl of Denbigh
  • Robert Day, Esq.
  • Doctor Dodd
  • Mrs. Dodd
  • Mr. D —
  • John Day, Esq.
  • Miss Drury
  • William Davy, Esq. 4 copies
  • Miss Dauterville
  • Mr. D.
  • Mr. Thomas Dibbs
  • Miss Dolby
  • Mrs. Dolby
  • Mr. Charles Dolby
  • Mr. Dupuy
  • — Dacre, Esq.
  • — Drewes, Esq.
  • Mr. Down
  • William Davison, Esq.
  • Miss D.
  • Mr. George Dyer, 2 copies
  • Mr. Dare
  • Mr. Dawson, 2 copies
  • Mrs. Dawson, 2 copies
  • John Durnford, Esq.
  • Mr. Daniel
  • Mr. Devereux, 2 copies
  • Mr. Davis
  • Mrs. Davis
  • Edward Dean, Esq.
  • Mrs. Dean
  • Miss Dean
  • Denis Dufour, Esq.
  • Mr. Dawes, 2 copies
  • Mr. Darby
  • Mr. Dukes
  • Capt. Delafont, 4 copies
  • Mrs. Delesont
  • Mr. Darker
  • Mr. Doiley
  • Patrick Douglas, Esq.
  • Andrew Douglas, Esq.
  • Miss Dee
  • Miss Delamer
  • Capt. Dunbar, 6 copies
  • Messrs. Dilly, 15 copies
E.
  • [Page]I. R. W. E. 10 copies
  • Mr. E. 4 copies
  • Mrs. Edie, 2 copies
  • Dr. Ewin, 4 copies
  • Mr. Edmund Eaton, 4 copies
  • Dr. Edwards, 4 copies
  • Miss Edwards, 4 copies
  • Charles Elliot, Esq.
  • Michael Eccles, Esq.
  • James Emerson, Esq.
  • Lieut. Thomas Etherington, of the 60th regiment
  • Capt. George Etherington
  • Higgins Eden, Esq.
  • Thomas Elwood, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mrs. Eldwood, 4 copies
  • Master Elwood, 4 copies
  • Mr. Mark Ellison
  • Laurence Eddis, Esq.
  • Mr. Francis English
  • Mr. Edward English
  • Mr. Everard
  • Captain Eld, 2 copies
  • James Ewer, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. Thomas Ewer, 4 copies
  • Robert Edmondson, Esq.
  • Mr. Eastcourt
  • — Errington, Esq.
  • Mr. Elford
  • Mrs. Elford
  • Peter Ellicot, Esq. 3 copies
  • Mr. Eells
  • Mr. Eldridge
  • Mr. Eades
  • Mr. Everett
  • Mrs. Eccleson, 2 copies
  • Miss Eccleson, 2 copies
  • Bernard Eames, Esq.
  • Mrs. Eames
  • Mr. Easton
  • Miss Easton
  • Ralph Earl, Esq 4 copies
  • H.E —, Esq.
F.
  • — Fitzpatrick, Esq. 4 copies
  • Samuel Foot, Esq. 4 copies
  • A. F. Esq. 4 copies
  • P. F. Esq. 2 copies
  • Mr. Free
  • Michael Fountain, Esq.
  • Mr. George Farmer
  • Mr. Ferguson, 2 copies
  • William Fuller, Esq.
  • Mrs. Ferguson
  • The Hon. Michael Francklin, Esq. Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia
  • The Rev. Dr. Franklin
  • Robert Fulton, Esq.
  • Ingham Foster, Esq.
  • Robert Foster, Esq.
  • James Foster, Esq.
  • William Foster, Esq.
  • Mr. Stephen Foster
  • Mrs. Foster
  • Miss Foster
  • Arthur Forward, Esq. 4 copies
  • Richard Forrest, Esq. 4 copies
  • Captain Frasier, 4 copies
  • Captain Forbes, 4 copies
  • Captain Field, 4 copies
  • Mrs. Fielding, 2 copies
  • Miss Fielding, 2 copies
  • Mr. Fanshaw
  • Mrs. Fanshaw
  • Miss Francis
  • Mr. Freeman
  • Mr. William Freeman
  • Mr. James Freeman
  • Mr. Fawcett
  • Mr. Fairfax
  • Mr Felton
  • Mrs. Felton
  • Mr. Fitzgerald
  • Mrs Fitzgerald
  • Dr. F —, 6 copies
  • Mr. Fitzgibbon
  • James Fellowes, Esq.
  • H. F. Esq.
  • R. F. Esq. 4 copies
  • Rev. Mr. F —
  • Miss Folliott
  • Mrs. Farquhar
G.
  • [Page]O.G. Esq.
  • Mr. George Good, 50 copies
  • William Glover, Esq. 12 copies
  • Mrs. Glover
  • Mr. Charles Gibbes, 2 copies
  • Mr. Roger Griffin
  • Mr. William Greaves
  • Mr. G.
  • Sherman Godfrey, Esq.
  • Richard Gulston, Esq.
  • J. G. Esq. 2 copies
  • J. Glenny, Esq. 2 copies
  • David Gravier, Esq. 4 copies
  • Joseph Groves, Esq. 2 copies
  • Mr. Goodwin, 2 copies
  • Thomas Grimstead, Esq. 2 copies
  • Mr. Graham, 2 copies
  • Mrs. Granville
  • Colonel John Goodwin
  • Mr. Gaine, of New-York, 4 copies
  • Mrs. Graffy
  • Robert Gordon, Esq. 2 copies
  • Captain Gordon, 2 copies
  • Mr. T. Gordon, 2 copies
  • Mrs. Gordon, 2 copies
  • Miss Gordon, 2 copies
  • William Green, Esq. 4 copies
  • Richard Gray, Esq.
  • Mr. Rice Griffith
  • Mr. Evan Griffith
  • Captain Gore, 4 copies
  • Richard Gore, Esq.
  • Mr. William Gore
  • Mr. Gamble, 4 copies
  • William Gilbert, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. Gunning
  • Mr. Gay
  • Mr. Giffard
  • Mr. Gardner
  • Mr. Golding
  • Mr. Gainesborough, 4 copies
H.
  • Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Hawke
  • M. B. Hawke, Esq.
  • Lady Dorethea Hotham
  • Miss Hotham
  • Dr. Hay, 4 copies
  • George Harris, L. L. D.
  • B. Hammet, Esq. 21 copies
  • W. Henley, Esq.
  • Richard Hunt, Esq.
  • Mrs. Haggard
  • John Hall, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mr. Edward Hewitt
  • Captain Hunt, 2 copies
  • Alderman Hallifax
  • Mr. Hussey
  • Mrs. Hussey, 2 copies
  • Alexander Home, Esq. 2 co­pies
  • Mr. Heath
  • Mr. John Hilman
  • Mr. M. Hamelton
  • Mr. Henderson
  • Mr. John Higgins
  • Mr. Thomas Hicklin
  • Mark Holman, Esq.
  • Mr. J. H.
  • Mr. Bridges Hook
  • Mr. Hamilton
  • Mr. Highman
  • John Hyde, Esq.
  • — Hyde, Esq. jun.
  • Miss Holland
  • Mr. Henry Holland, jun.
  • Rev. David Horne
  • Joseph Hodges, Esq.
  • Mr. Thomas Harrison
  • Captain Cornelius Haight
  • Mr. Samuel Hake, merchant New-York
J.
  • Wm. Sam. Johnson, L.
  • Charles Jennens, Esq.
  • Mr. Johnston, 2 copies
  • Mr. John Johnston
  • Mrs. Ireson
  • Mr. Johnson
  • Charles Jackson, Esq.
  • [Page] Rice James, Esq.
  • Mr. Henry Jarvis
  • Mr. James, 4 copies
  • William James, Esq.
  • Tobias Johnson, Esq.
  • Edward Ingram, Esq.
  • Mr Anselen Jones, jun.
  • Mr. G. Jones
  • Pierce Izard, Esq.
  • Robert Jemmet, Esq.
  • Harry Jemmet, Esq.
  • Richard Jephson, Esq.
  • Mrs. Jephson
  • Mr. Inglis
  • Mr. Thomas Jordan, 3 co­pies
  • Mr. Stephen Jacobs, 4 co­pies
  • Mr. Rowland Ingham
  • Mr Robert Joyce
  • Randal Jefferies, Esq.
  • Mrs. Jennings
  • Miss Isham, 4 copies
  • William Jarrat, Esq. 4 copies
  • Rupert Isaacs, Esq.
  • Rev. Dr. J. 4 copies
  • Dr. J. 4 copies
  • Rev. Mr. J. 4 copies
  • Mr. Jenkinson
  • Mr. Jenkins
  • Mr. Jebb
  • Mr. Thomas Jenner
  • Mr. Jellico
  • Mr. Ingersol, 6 copies
  • James Ilsted, Esq.
  • Mrs. Ilsted
  • Mr. Iccard
  • Mrs. Iccard
  • Mr. Domnic Ibbotier
  • Mr. Lewis Ibbotier
  • Mr. Jaffray, 2 copies
  • Mr. Jane, 4 copies
K.
  • William Kelly, Esq. of New York, 42 copies
  • Captain Kelly
  • Ensign William Kelly, of the 60th regiment
  • Mr. Henry Kelly, of New-York
  • John Ignatius Kelly, Esq. 10 copies
  • Hyacinth Kelly, Esq. 10 co­pies
  • Cornelius Kelly, Esq. 10 co­pies
  • Peter Kelly, Esq. 10 copies
  • C.O Kelly, Esq.
  • — D.O Kelly, Esq.
  • Mrs. P.H.O Kelly
  • Robert Kingscote, Esq. 4 co­pies
  • Alderman John Kirkman, 4 copies
  • — Kidney, Esq. 2 copies
  • Thomas King, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mrs. King, 4 copies
  • Mr. Kearsley, 4 copies
  • James Knightley, Esq. 4 co­pies
  • Robert Kennicot, Esq.
  • Mr. Kent
  • Mr. Kroome
  • Daniel Kendal, Esq.
  • James Knight, Esq.
  • Mr. Thomas Kerr
  • Mr. Edward Kerr
  • Mr. Robert Kerr
  • William Kane, Esq.
  • Mrs. Kane
  • Mr. Knolles, 4 copies
  • Mrs. Knolles, 4 copies
L.
  • Sir Robert Ladbroke, 21 co­pies
  • Robert Ladbroke, Esq. 4 co­pies
  • Mrs. Ladbroke, 4 copies
  • Richard Ladbroke, Esq. 4 copies
  • Miss Lewis
  • John Lodge Esq. 4 copies
  • R. L. Esq. 21 copies
  • Thomas Ledwich, Esq. 24 copies
  • [Page] Thomas Littler, Esq. 4 copies
  • Captain I echmere
  • Stephen Lushington, Esq.
  • Hon. Temple S. Luttrell 4 copies
  • Abraham Lott, Esq. treasurer of New York
  • Philip Levingston, Esq. jun.
  • Charles Lloyd, Esq
  • John Lubbock, Esq. 4 copies — Lavie, Esq.
  • Mr. Lee
  • Mr. Lane, 8 copies
  • Mr. Longbottom
  • Mr. L.
  • James Lister, Esq. 4 copies
  • Mrs. Lister, 4 copies
  • Captain Leeson
  • Mrs. Leeson
  • Mr. Lawrenson
  • Miss Lawrenson
  • Mr. William Lowther, 4 co­pies
  • James Lockhart, Esq.
  • — Lefanu, Esq.
M
  • Sir William Baynard, Bart.
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THIS COMEDY IS INSCRIBED TO ROBERT LADBROKE, Esq.

AS A PUBLIC TESTIMONY OF THE VERY HIGH ESTEEM IN WHICH THE AUTHOR HOLDS HIS FRIENDSHIP, AND A SINCERE MARK OF THE VERY JUST RESPECT HE ENTERTAINS FOR HIS PRIVATE CHARACTER.

Dramatis Personae.

MEN.
  • SIR GEORGE HASTINGS, Mr. King.
  • SIR JOHN DORMER, Mr. Reddish.
  • WILLOUGHBY, Mr. Aickin.
  • CAPTAIN DORMER, Mr. Palmer.
  • VILLARS, Mr. Cautherly.
  • FOOTMEN,
    • Mr. Watkins.
    • Mr. Wrighten.
WOMEN.
  • MRS. WILLOUGHBY, Mrs. Jefferys.
  • MISS WILLOUGHBY, Mrs. Baddely.
  • MISS DORMER, Miss Younge.
  • MISS MONTAGU, Mrs. Barry.
  • JENNY, Mrs. Smith.
  • Lucy, Miss Platt.

PROLOGUE.

WELL, here you are, and comfortably squeez'd —
But do you come quite willing to be pleas'd? —
Say, do you wish for bravo — fine — encore —
Or — hiss — off, off, — no more — no more — no more —
Tho' for true tasle I know the warmth you feel,
A roasted poet is a glorious meal —
And oft I've known a miserable wit,
Thro' downright laughter fastn'd on the spit,
Basted, with cat-call sauce, for very fun,
Not till quite ready — but till quite undone —
And yet you serv'd the puppy as you ought —
How dare be think to tell you of a fault —
What fair one here from prudence ever strays,
What lover here e'er flatters or betrays?
What husband here is ever found to roam,
What wife is here that does not doat on home?
In yon gay circle, not a blooming [...]ace
From Club's rude king cou'd point you out the face;
No sober trader, in that crowed pit,
'Till clear, broad day will o'er his bottle sit;
Nor while our commerce fatally decays,
Erect his villa, or set up his chaise —
Nay, you above, in cake-consuming bow'rs,
Who thro' whole Sundays munge away your hours;
[Page]You are so mild, so gentle, that ev'n here,
Your sweet ton'd voices never wound the ear;
Ne'er make the house for tune or prologue ring,
Roast-beef — roast-beef — the prologue, prologue — King —
Why then, thus weigh'd in truth's severest scale,
Shall each pert scribbler impudently rail,
With dull morality disgrace the stage,
And talk of vices in so pure an age;
Your wise forefathers, in politer days,
Had ev'n their faults commended in their plays,
To cheat a friend, or violate a wife,
Was then true humour, comedy, and life —
But now the bard becomes your highest boast,
Whose ill-bred pen traduces you the most;
Whose saucy mase can hardily aver
That still a lady possibly can err;
That still a lord can trick you at a bet,
And fools and madmen are existing yet —
Be rous'd at lest — nor, in an age so nice,
Let these grave dunces teize you with advice —
What, tho' some taylor's oft protracted bill
May hang all trembling on the author's quill,
Regard it not, remove the growing evil —
A well drest poet is the very devil —
Do taverns dun him — What, can scribblers treat?
Fine times, indeed, when scribblers think to eat —
Do justice then — to-night, ten minutes here
May blast the bard's whole labour of a year —
What do I see! — resentment in your eyes?
'Tis true, the fellow at your mercy lies;
And of all wreaths, the Briton's noblest crown,
Is ne'er to strike an enemy when down —

A WORD to the WISE.

ACT I.

SCENE, an Apartment in Sir JOHN DORMER'S House.
Enter Sir JOHN DORMER, Miss DORMER, and Miss MONTAGU.
Sir JOHN.

WELL but, my dear Caroline, tho' I grant you that Sir George Hastings has his peculiarities, still you must grant me that he has many very amiable qualities.

Miss DORMER.

I never denied Sir George's merit, Sir, but all his good qualities cannot conceal his unaccount­able coxcombry; ‘his attention is constantly cen­tered in himself, and there is no enduring a man who fancies that every woman must at first sight fall violently in love with him.’

Sir JOHN.

Do you hear her, Miss Montagu?

Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 2]

Why, Sir John, there is no accounting for in­clination, you know; — however, I cannot look upon Sir George in the very ridiculous light he appears to Miss Dormer.

Miss DORMER.

No — why he is a narcissus that continually makes love to his own shadow, and I can't bear the idea of a husband, in whose affection I am likely to be every moment rival'd by the looking­glass.

Miss MONTAGU.

Nay now, my dear, you are rather hard upon him. — Sir George may possibly be a little too fond of himself —

Sir JOHN.

But that does'nt prevent him from entertain­ing very tender sentiments for Caroline Dormer.

Miss MONTAGU.

He may be unnecessarily attentive to the niceties of dress —

Sir JOHN.

But then he is attentive to every law of justice and generosity.

Miss MONTAGU.

And if his foibles provoke us to an occasional smile, his worth must always excite our warmest admiratiun.

Miss DORMER.

Upon my word, Harriot, a very florid winding up of a period, and very proper for an elevated thought in a sentimental Comedy; — but I tell you, I should relish these encomiums on Sir George well enough, if he Was not so particularly recom­mended [Page 3] to my attention. — I really can't sup­port the imagination of vowing honour and obe­dience to the object of my own ridicule, and it wou'd mortify my pride beyond conception, to see my husband the constant jest of his acquaint­ance.

Sir JOHN.

My dear Caroline, don't be too difficult in your choice, nor entertain any romantic idea of finding a husband, all perfection. — The expectation of too much before marriage, frequently imbitters the union after; — and as the best men will have their little blemishes, we may farley number those among the best, in whose characters we can dis­cover nothing more than a few trisling peculiarities.

Miss DORMER.

I see, Sir, you make a point of this affair.

Sir JOHN.

I wou'd not make a point of any thing, my dear, which I thought wou'd be in the least repug­nant to your happiness: — but, really, when I con­sider this proposal in every respect, when I con­sider the rank, the fortune, and what is above all, the merit of the man, I cannot but with that you wou'd give him a favourable reception; and this the more especially, as I am convinced, if the match should take place, that your fine sense and sweetness of temper, will easily mould your hus­band to your wish, and quickly remove every trace of those foibles, which, are at present the only reason of your objection.

Miss DORMER.

You are very good, Sir.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 4]

This morning, my dear, Sir George purposes to declare himfelf in form.—If you can receive his addresses, you will make him happy, and ob­lige me exceedingly; — but if you cannot, deal ingenuously, and reject him; the justice which I owe to him, as well as the tenderness which I have for you, makes this advice doubly recpsite.

Enter a SERVANT.
SERVANT,

Mr.Willoughby, Sir.

Sir JOHN.

I'll wait upon him instantly.

[Exit Serv.]

Think therefore seriously, Caroline, before you deter­mine, for I neither wish to cheat my friend into the possession of a reluctant heart, nor to sacrifice my daughter to the object of her aversion.

[Exit.]
Miss DORMER.

Well, Harriot, what shall I do?—You hear he has actually mention'd him to me in the most se­rious terms, and that this very morning he is to make a formal declaration.

Miss MONTAGU.

And what then, does'nt Sir John desire you to reject him, if he is really disagreeable? —Can you possibly wish for a greater degree of indulgence?

Miss DORMER.

And yet that very indulgence, my dear Miss Montagu, is likely to render me extremely mi­serable.

Miss MONTAGU

Why indeed, Miss Dormer— remember, child, you complimented me first with the cold respect­ful [Page 5] epithet of Miss—the men in general say that the surest way of making a woman wretched is to indulge her inclinations—But pray, my dear, why is this liberty which Sir John allows you, of promoting your own happiness, so very likely to make you miserable.

Miss DORMER.

Ah, Harriot! don't you see that while he is so generously anxious to consult my wishes, I am bound by gratitude, as well as justice, to pay the greatest regard to his expectations.

Miss MONTAGU.

You are really an excellent girl, my dear. But pray answer me one question seriously.

Miss DORMER.

What is it?

Miss MONTAGUE.

Is this dislike, which you entertain to your fa­ther's choice, entirely the result of your aversion to Sir George? or is it, be honest now, the con­sequence of a secret partiality for somebody else?

Miss DORMER.

A secret partiality for somebody else? Pray, my dear, for whom is it likely I should entertain a partiality?

Miss MONTAGU.

Caroline, Caroline, this reserve is ill suited both to the nature of our friendship and the custom­ary frankness of your temper—yet notwithstanding the secresy you have hitherto so unkindly observ'd, I can easily see that Mr. Villars—What, con­scious, Caroline?

Miss DORMER.
[Page 6]

O Harriot, spare me—nor be offended that I have endeavour'd to keep a secret from you, which I absolutely shudder to whisper to myself—to deal candidly, my dear, I must acknowledge that your charge is but too just—and notwithstanding every effort of my pride, and every argument of my prudence, I find this humble yet deserving Villars possesses a much higher place in my esteem than can be consistent with my happiness.

Miss MONTAGU.

Why, to do the young fellow justice, he is really very agreeable, and has something in his manner that would do credit to a more eligible situation—but—

Miss DORMER.

Ay, Harriot, there's the misfortune—agreeable as he is in every respect, he is still a total depen­dent on my father, and thinks himself extremely happy that his talents have obtain'd him even a temporary establishment in an opulent family.

Miss MONTAGU.

Well, my dear, Sir John is generous, and Mr. Villars is very useful to him in his literary re­searches; besides, I am not a little pleas'd at the distinction with which he, as well as the Captain, constantly treats Mr. Villars.

Miss DORMER.

I don't know how it is—Mr. Villars has a man­ner of commanding respect from every body; he is humble without servility, and spirited—

Miss MONTAGU.

Oh! he is every thing that's amiable, no doubt —and the stars have been exceedingly relentless [Page 7] in not giving him a large fortune—however, if I have any skill in the business of the heart, Villars is to the full as uneasy upon your account as you can possibly be on his—he is always contriving excuses for conversing with you, yet when he does, he is in visible confusion; and it was only yes­terday evening, when I beg'd he wou'd put a letter for me into the post-office, that he stam­mer'd out, in the utmost perplexity, ‘I shall take particular care, Madam, to deliver it to Miss Dormer.’

Miss DORMER.

If this be the case, Harriot, I must indeed behave with particular circumspection to him; and yet, tho' I see the impossibility of ever being his, he has given me an insuperable aversion to the rest of his sex.

Miss MONTAGU.

What then do you intend to do with Sir George?

Miss DORMER.

To reject him; but still to do it without giving any offence to my father.

Miss MONTAGU.

And how do you propose to manage it?

Miss DORMER.

By throwing myself honestly upon Sir George's humanity, by telling him my affection is engaged, and by begging of him to withdraw his addresses in such a manner as shall appear to be the result of his own choice, and not the consequence of my disinclination—Sir George, notwithstanding his egregious vanity is uncommonly good-natur'd —but let us retire to my room, my dear, I am [Page 8] unfit for company at present, and here we are likely to be broken in upon. —O Harriot.

Miss MONTAGU.

And O, Caroline, what a very foolish figure does a woman make, when she is lamentably in love.

[Exeunt.]
Enter Sir GEORGE HASTINGS and Captain DOR­MER.
DORMER.

Well, my brother-in-law elect, —you are very splendidly dress'd this morning.

Sir GEORGE.

Why, Jack, I think, I do make a pretty to­lerable appearance.

DORMER.

And do you think this appearance calculated to make an impression upon a woman of spirit. — Zounds, man, give up your pretensions, for no­thing but a fellow of life is likely to succeed with my sister I can promise you.

Sir GEORGE.

A fellow of life, Jack; —that is, I suppose, a fellow of profligacy: —truly you pay your sister a very pretty compliment.

DORMER.

And why pray do you necessarily connect the idea of life with the idea of profligacy?

Sir GEORGE.

Because, in the vocabulary of libertines, like you, Jack, the word life always means a round of every thing that is foolish or unwarrantable.

DORMER.
[Page 9]

Why, what the devil are you turn'd fanatic, George, that you begin to deal so much in second­hand morality?

Sir GEORGE.

In short, your fellows of spirit never allow a man a scruple of common-sense, till he has en­tirely prostituted his understanding; nor suppose him to be fit for a commerce with the world, till he absolutely merits to be hunted out of society.

DORMER.

Well but, George, there is one excess of which you yourself have been guilty; and I have known the time, when you took a bottle so freely, that you were generally made toast-master of the com­pany.

Sir GEORGE.

Yes, but I soon found out that drinking was detestable, and toasting the greatest of all absur­dities.

DORMER.

Why how wou'd you wish to pass an evening? — Can any thing exceed the pleasure of society, with a few select friends of good-nature and viva­city?

Sir GEORGE.

O nothing to be sure is so delightful as guzzling down half a dozen bottles, and enjoying the ratio­nal discourse—of where does the toast stand—with you, Sir William—no, with you, Sir George— fill him a bumper, Captain Dormer—fill him to the top. —O, an evening spent in this manner must be delectable, especially if a couple of fools should happily quarrel in their cups, and cut one another's throat to prove the superiority of their understanding.

DORMER.
[Page 10]

Ha! ha! ha! —But was this all your objection to the bottle?

Sir GEORGE.

No, for it made my heach ach, and disorder'd my dress beyond bearing.

DORMER.

Disorder'd your dress, ha! ha! ha! what un­accountable coxcombry.

Sir GEORGE.

Why to be sure it's a very ridiculous thing for a man to shew a little regard for decency.

DORMER.

Well, notwithstanding you are a coxcomb sys­tematically, I am sure the character will not be a strong recommendation to my sister.

Sir GEORGE.

Your sister, Jack, is a woman of sense, and must see that she has a much stronger chance of being happy with me, than poor Miss Montagu has of being happy with her brother. —My heart is una­dulterated, and is therefore worth any woman's acceptance.

DORMER.

O no doubt it is a very valuable acquisition.

Sir GEORGE.

Whereas, you fellows of life, hawk about your hearts from commoner to commoner, till they be­come quite contemptible; and then with the ad­ditional merit of broken constitutions, —tottering limbs, —pale cheeks, and hollow eyes, you po­litely offer the refuse of the stews to ladies of fortune, family, and character.

DORMER.

And so your affection is unadulterated; —ha! ha! ha!

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 11]

Ay, laugh on and welcome; —but who have we here?

DORMER.

Mr. Willoughby, who will keep you in coun­tenance with maxims of musty morality.

Sir GEORGE.

What, my good-natur'd optimist, who thinks every thing happens for the best?

DORMER.

Ay, Candide to perfection, who is continually blessing his stars the more they load him with misfortunes; —and pray heaven his business here this morning has not been to talk with Sir John about my intimacy in his family.

[aside.]
Enter WILLOUGHBY.
WILLOUGHBY.

Sir George, your most obedient. —Captain, I am your humble servant.

Sir GEORGE.

Mr. Willoughby, yours. —How do the ladies, Sir? —the good Mrs. Willoughby, and your ami­able daughter.

WILLOUGHBY.

Why my daughter, Sir George, is very well; — and my wife is as usual, continually embittering every comfort of life, and lamenting the miseries attendant on mortality.

Sir GEORGE.

I wonder she does not chuse to follow the sensi­ble example you set her, and endeavour rather to lessen, than to aggravate the measure of unavoid­able misfortunes. —She's a young woman, and misanthropy at her age is rather out of character.

WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 12]

Why yes, Sir George, she's twenty good years younger than I am, and yet she is twenty times more impatient under the smallest disappointment.

Sir GEORGE.

But, my good friend, you don't think her youth a very unfortunate circumstance?

WILLOUGHBY.

O, Sir George, my principle is to think every thing for the best.

DORMER.

Well said, Mr. Willoughby.

WILLOUGHBY.

It was'nt her youth, however, that struck me, but the sobriety of her conduct, and her affection for my daughter; —she was besides a distant rela­tion of my first wife's—liv'd with us in the same house; and some how I lik'd her, because having no fortune, it gave her but little expectation of a better husband.

Sir GEORGE.

But why don't you teach her to adopt some part of your own fortitude under disappointment?

DORMER.

Perhaps it is not in her power to exercise so de­sirable a philosophy.

WILLOUGHBY.

My dear Captain, life has misfortunes enough without our being industrious to encrease the num­ber of them—when an accident therefore happens, we shou'd consider that, bad as it may be, it might have been still worse; and instead of arro­gantly murmuring at the dispensations of provi­dence, we shou'd thankfully acknowledge the goodness that did not plunge us into a deeper de­gree of affliction.

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 13]

Upon my word I think there is much reason in this argument.

WILLOUCHBY.

Ay, and much policy too, Sir George — we shou'd always imagine that every thing happens for the best—about ten years ago I broke my leg by a fall from a horse—

DORMER.

And pray did this prove a fortunate accident?

WILLOUGHBY.

Yes; for your father, who generously pitied my situation, got my place continued to my family; so that, if I drop off to-morrow, there's a comfortable provision for them—Indeed when the accident happened I cou'dn't foresee this conse­quence — however, I made the best of matters— was thankful that I hadn't broke both my legs, and drew a kind of negative good fortune from a stroke of real calamity.

Sir GEORGE.

Why what the devil is this fellow Dormer laugh­ing at?

DORMER.

Why how the devil can I help laughing, when the very evils of life are made so many indirect instruments of happiness.

WILLOUGHBY.

Oh! let him laugh, Sir George; he can by no means joke me out of my sentiments—why when my son was stolen from me in his infancy—I found a consolation in reflecting that I had not lost my daughter too;—and tho' I have never since been able to hear any account of my poor boy, I am satisfied he was taken from me for the best, and I bear my lot with resignation.

DORMER.
[Page 14]

How! do you set down the loss of your son in the chapter of fortunate accidents?

Sir GEORGE.

Negatively he may, Dormer; for he might have turned out a libertine like yourself, and in that case his being lost is indeed a very fortunate cir­cumstance.

DORMER.

Very smart truly—but I suppose you bear your lot with resignation too, Sir George, —for you have lately got a good two thousand a year by the death of this young fellow's godfather, old Webly the humorist; and it is your interest to pray that he never may be found, as there is a certain clause in the will you know, which —

Sir GEORGE.

Which obliges me to invest him with this estate if ever he is discovered—a mighty hardship really; and you must be a very pretty fellow to suppose it any way difficult for an honest man, to do a com­mon act of justice.

WILLOUGHBY.

All for the best still, Captain.—Sir George we are certain will do good with his fortune, —whereas had it been possessed by my boy, —how am I sure that it wou'd not be applied to very different pur­poses: — yet who knows that it might either; — who knows but—however

[stisting his emotion]

I am positive every thing happened for the best, — and so—and so a good morning to you.

[Exit.]
Sir GEORGE.

Poor man, how sensibly he feels the loss of his son, notwithstanding his endeavours to be chear­ful. —But what am I throwing away my time upon you for, when I have business of so much impor­tance [Page 15] with your sister? Good bye, Jack, and now let us see if profligates only are to meet encourage­ment from the ladies.

[Exit.]
DORMER.

Ha! ha! ha! was there ever such a compound of sentiment and vanity. —Caroline must keep the fellow in a glass case, or he'll kill himself before the honey-moon is over, with the fatigue of seeing company.

[Going]
Enter Sir JOHN.
Sir JOHN.

Jack, Jack, come back a little—I want a word or two with you.

DORMER.

I fear'd as much

[aside.]

What are your com­mands, Sir?

Sir JOHN.

Why, Jack, I need not tell you how anxious I am to have you settled in the world, nor is it ne­cessary for me to put you in mind of the engage­ment I enter'd into with my late worthy friend, Sir Ralph Montagu.

DORMER.

I know your obliging sollicitude for me ex­tremely well, Sir, and I feel it with the most grate­ful sensibility, —but sure there is yet time enough before I undertake the important charge of a fa­mily.

Sir JOHN.

Come, come, you have seen enough of the world to become, if you please, a useful member of society; —besides, Miss Montagu is now without a father, and shou'd be treated with an additional degree of attention. —Nothing therefore can be more improper than to keep a young lady of her merit [Page 16] and fortune waiting for the result of your deter­mination, when you ought to think it a very great honour that she can be prevail'd upon to receive you as a husband.

DORMER.

Miss Montagu, Sir, will, I dare say, be no way offended at the delay, if I can judge from the in­difference with which she constantly behaves to me.

Sir JOHN.

And how can she behave otherwise, when you constantly treat her with indifference? —To be plain with you however, Jack, I fear you are too wild, too dissipated, to think seriously:—you more­over possess a spirit of gallantry, which gives me many an uneasy moment, —and I am not a little troubled at your continual visits to Mr. Willough­by's.

DORMER.

To Mr. Willoughby, Sir, —to your own parti­cular friend!

Sir JOHN.

Yes, and the more I esteem him, the more uneasy I must naturally be at your visiting there so frequently. —Miss Willoughby has a fine person, and a feeling heart; she thinks, besides, I have obliged her father, and may in the fulness of her gratitude, imbibe sentiments for the son of his benefactor. — ‘Take care, therefore, take care; gallantry, tho' a fashionable crime, is a very detestable one; and the wretch who pilfers from us in the hour of his necessity, is an innocent cha­racter, compared to the plunderer who wantonly robs us of happiness and reputation.’

DORMER.

I hope, Sir, I shall never do any thing to bring a reflection upon the honour of my family.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 17]

I hope not, Jack, and therefore I cou'd wish you were not a man of gallantry:—to engage the confidence of the innocent on purpose to betray it, is as mean as it is inhuman.

Enter a Servant.
Servant.

Every thing is ready in the library, Sir.

Sir JOHN.

Very well—

[Exit Serv.]

Come, Jack, think a little on what I have said;—in my son let me for once find a friend; — the honour of my family is now materially trusted in your hands, and tho' my tenderness for you may feel at any prostitution of that honour, be assur'd that my justice will never allow me to pardon it.

[Exit Sir John.
Enter Villars.
DORMER.

Well, Villars, I fancy Willoughby has at last made a complaint to my father, for I am com­manded, in the most positive terms to think of an immediate marriage with Miss Montagu.

Villars.

And isn't it by much the most sensible course you can follow? — Miss Montagu is a very fine young lady.

DORMER.

True—but you have never seen Miss Wil­loughby.

Villars.

Besides the great fortune—

Dormer.

Miss Willoughby.

Villars.

That courts your acceptance, if I may so ex­press myself—

DORMER.
[Page 18]

Miss Willoughby.

VILLARS.

Oh—I see how it is; —and are you then deter­min'd to marry Miss Willoughby?

DORMER.

Not so fast—not quite so fast, my dear Villars, I beg of you: —Miss Willoughby certainly pos­sesses a greater share of my affection than any other woman in the world; and I don't know, if my father could be brought to approve of such a match, that I should find the least disinclination to marry her: — but as matters stand at present there's no likelihood of such a circumstance, and therefore I wou'dn't choose to disoblige Sir John in so material a point, especially as my wishes with regard to Miss Willoughby may possibly be in­dulg'd without so considerable a sacrifice.

VILLARS.

I don't understand you.

DORMER.

Why Miss Willoughby knew all along of my en­gagement with Miss Montagu, and consequently had no reason to suppose that my intentions cou'd be very matrimonial; besides, she let nobody into the secret of my addresses but her ridiculous step­mother, who is a miserable compound of avarice and affectation: —indeed, to do the young lady justice, it was a considerable time before she wou'd hear a syllable of a tender nature from me, on account of my connection with Miss Montagu.

VILLARS.

And how did you manage it at last?

DORMER.

Why in the customary manner: — I talk'd a damn'd deal of nonsense with a very tragical tone and a very melancholy countenance — exclaim'd [Page 19] against the tyranny of fathers who wanted to force the inclinations of their children from despicable motives of interest—and curs'd the poor stars for giving her so much beauty, and making me so sensible of it:— then pressing her tenderly by the hand, I usually ran out of the room, as if in vio­lent emotion, affecting to gulp down a torrent of tears, and left her own pity to be my advocate the moment she recovered the use of her recollection.

VILLARS.

What, and did this auswer your purpose, Sir?

DORMER.

Oh, perfectly; the women are inconceivably fond of the pathetic, and listen to you with rapture if you talk about death or distraction—spring but the mine of their pity, you soon blow their hearts into a flame — and reap more service from an hour of compleat substantial misery than from a whole year of the most passionate adoration.

VILLARS.

Well, Captain, and may I presume to ask what use you intend to make of Miss Willoughoy's par­tiality for you?

DORMER.

Why faith, Villars, that's a very puzzling ques­tion upon the whole; — notwithstanding all my levity, you know I have the deepest reverence for my father, and he must not be disoblig'd upon any account, — tho' to deal honestly with you, I have no mighty inclination to Miss Montagu.

VILLARS.

And what must become of poor Miss Willoughby?

DORMER.

Why I shou'd'nt like to be a rascal there neither, —yet what can one do; — where a woman's weak enough to encourage the addresses of a man whom she knows to be pre-engaged, she gives him a kind [Page 20] of title to deceive her: — besides, Villars, Miss Willoughby has herself shewn a genius for dupli­city in this affair which shou'd make a man of any sense a little considerate.

VILLARS.

How so, pray?

DORMER.

Don't you recollect she has deceiv'd her father thro' the whole transaction? and it is a maxim with me that the woman who can forget the senti­ments of nature, has half an inclination to forget the sentiments of virtue.

VILLARS.

Poor Miss Willoughby!

DORMER.

You are mightily concern'd for a woman you never saw in your life; however, be easy — I am as sentimental for a libertine, you know, as any fellow in the kingdom, and it shall be Miss Wil­loughby's own fault if matters are carried to extre­mities. — But, Villars, step with me to my agent's, and we'll talk farther on this subject: —few people despise money more than myself, and yet there are few to whom a snug sum would at this moment be more acceptable.

VILLARS.

You promise me then that in this affair of Miss Willoughby's—

DORMER.

Zounds, Villars, I won't brag too much neither, — I am still flesh and blood, — and these make a very dangerous composition in the hour of love and opportunity.

VILLARS.

My dear Captain, this is no jesting matter—the happiness of a deserving young lady is at stake, and a laugh will but poorly repay a violation of your honour, or a breach of your humanity.

[Exeunt.]
END of the FIRST ACT.

ACT II.

SCENE, WILLOUGHBY'S House.
Enter Mr. and Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
Mrs. WlLLOUGHBY.

AND so my prudenr, sage, considerate dear, you have actually advited Sir John Dormer to restrain his son's visits to our house?

WILLOUGHBY.

Yes, that was my business at Sir John's this morning.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

And you imagine this wise measure will turn out for the best I suppose?

WILLOUGHBY.

I do really —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

What? You think it for the best to let your poor family continue always in obscurity;—and look upon it as a great unhappiness, whenever they have the least chance of rising in the world?

WILLOUGHBY.

And you think I have done a mighty foolish thing in preserving the peace as well as the honour of my poor family, from the greatest of all mis­fortunes?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

From the greatest of all misfortunes! did any body ever hear the like? —Why I tell you Cap­tain Dormer is in love, passionately in love with your daughter.

WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 22]

So much the worse —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

So much the worse! this is the only thing in which you ever forgot your all for the best princi­ple. — So much the worse! so much the better I tell you;—and in all likelihood he might have married her, if your ridiculous fear of being happy, had not put Sir John upon his guard, to prevent so desirable a circumstance.

WILLOUGHBY.

What, madam, wou'd you have me trepan the only son of my benefactor, into a marriage with my daughter, and at a time too when I know him engaged to a lady of Miss Montagu's family and fortune. —O, Mrs. Willoughby, I am ashamed of these arguments; and if there is no way to be rich without being despicable, let us look upon poverty as the most eligible of all situations.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Don't tell me of Miss Montagu's family, Mr. Willoughby, your daughter is not her inferior in that respect;—besides, a woman of beauty, edu­cated as I have educated Cornelia, even if she has not altogether so much money, has merit enough to deserve the first man in the kingdom. — I am sure if I was a single woman again —

WILLOUGHBY.

You have been a single woman, madam, and are now married to a fellow old enough for your father.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

I don't deserve to be reproach'd by you, Mr. Willoughby; —you are, at least, a gainer by my pity.

WILLOUGHBY.

I think so, my dear-I think all for the best.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 23]

What all for the best; my marrying a man as old as my father? —Have a little gratitude, Mr. Willoughby.

WILLOUGHBY.

Well, well, my dear, —'tis foolish for a man and wife to quarrel, because they must make it up again. —However, we were here talking of Cap­tain Dormer, —and what is our girl's beauty and education to the purpose?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Very much to the purpose. —They shew there would have been no impropriety in suffering Cap­tain Dormer to marry Cornelia, and they shew that you behav'd very absurdly in striving to pre­vent the advancement of your own daughter.

WILLOUGHBY.

Madam, madam, young women are apt enough to err of themselves, but a father has indeed a great deal to answer for, who exposes his daughter to unnecessary temptations —Captain Dormer has been already too successful in some families of our acquaintance; and if, while we are contriving to trap him into a marriage with Cornelia, he should find it possible to rob her of her honour, we shall be very properly punished for the base­ness of our designs.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

And do you think that possible, after the share I have had in her education? —tho' I am but her mother-in-law —

WILLOUGHBY.

My good wife, it is by supposing our own children wiser than the children of other people, that so many are constantly ruined. —If we are desirous, therefore, of preserving them unsullied, [Page 24] we should always keep them out of danger; — but our ridiculous partiality, constantly paints them in the most flattering colours or perfection, and we never suppose them cap [...]ble of committing the smallest mistake, till they [...] totally undone.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Well, it is in vain to talk with you; —but re­member I say, you will always be the enemy of your own family.

WILLOUGHBY.

I shall always endeavour, madam, to act as be­comes a father, —but I shall also strive to act as becomes an honest man, —and therefore Captain Dormer shall have no more interviews with my daughter.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

No? —

WILLOUGHBY.

No. —My avarice shall neither lead me to injure the happiness of my friend's family, nor shall my weakness betray the honour of my own. —Every thing will, I dare say, turn out for the best; tho' if the worst shou'd happen, I shall still find a con­solation in having taken every justifiable method to prevent it.

[Exit.]
Enter Miss WILLOUGHBY.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

O, madam, I have heard all:—what will be­come of me?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Ah, my poor dear child, was there ever so pre­posterous a fool as your father!

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Dear madam, say something to comfort me. — You have kindly made yourself the confidant of my sentiments for Captain Dormer, and I must [Page 25] be the most miserable creature in the world, if my father is inflexibly determined to drive him from the house.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

I can say nothing to you, Cornelia, but what must add to your regret:— there is no hope of any favourable turn in the affairs of our family: — day after day produces fresh disappointments; and instead of having any agreeable prospect to cheer us as we go on, the view becomes more and more clouded with misfortunes. —No, there's no enduring life upon these terms; — no, there's no possibility of enduring it.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

O that I had never seen Captain Dormer, —or that he had been less amiable! —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Ah, my dear child, I know but too well how to pity your distress:— I have been in love my­self; strangely as he now neglects my advice, I was once very desperately in love with your fa­ther: — He was the first man that ever said a ten­der thing to me; —and Mexico, if he was dead to­morrow, would not purchase a single glance of regard for another, nor the mines of Peru obtain a smile of approbation.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Well, madam, it is happy for me that you have yourself been susceptible of the softer impressions, since that susceptibility has induc'd you to assist me, during my acquaintance with Captain Dormer.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 26]

It is happy for you, Cornelia, and it shall be happy for you. —My tenderness is more than the tenderness of a step-mother, —and there is nothing I admire so much as constancy in love. — My thoughts, therefore, have not been idle on this affair, and I believe you will allow my understand­ing to be tollerable.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

The whole world concurs in an opinion of your good-sense, madam, but few entertain a higher idea of it than Captain Dormer.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

The Captain, my dear, is a man of taste and discernment.

Miss. WILLOUGHBY.

And yet I must give him up for ever.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

'Tis your own fault; —why won't you take my advice, and make him yours securely? —there is but one way —

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

O, madam, you know my abhorrence of an elopement — I have often told you —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Yes, and I have often told you, —that your fa­ther's forgiveness may be easily obtain'd; —but that Dormer once married to that Harriot Montagu, is lost for ever. —Do you imagine, child, I wou'd advise you to an impropriety?

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

But how can I betray the dignity of my sex, in proposing so bold a measure to the Captain?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

To be sure it's very bold in a woman who has given away her heart, to make an honourable of­fer [Page 27] of her hand to a lover. —However, stay child— let poor Dormer be forc'd into this marriage with Miss Montagu, —let him be torn irrecoverably from you, —and let your obstinacy, like your fa­ther's, continually counteract the happiness of your family; —were you once Mrs. Dormer, very handsome things might be done for Mr. Wil­loughby.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

O, madam, don't attack me in so tender a point!

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Come up stairs child; —suspecting your father's business to Sir John Dormer's this morning, and dreading the consequence, I have pack'd up all your things ready for an expedition to Scotland: —you must determine, therefore, instantly; —and if you determine to have Dormer, you must act instantly too.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

What will become of me!

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

I don't know what will become of you, if you don't take my advice; —and I am sure, on the present occasion, I give you advice that wou'd be very agreeable to half the young ladies within the bills of mortality.

[Exeunt.]
The SCENE changes to a Room at Sir JOHN DORMER'S.
Miss DORMER and Sir GEORGE discovered.
Sir GEORGE.

Nay, my dear Miss Dormer, there is no bear­ing so unjust an insensibility to the power of your own attractions.

Miss DORMER.
[Page 28]

Indeed, Sir George, you over-rate my little merits exceedingly; —and probably the greatest I can boast, is my consciousness of their being con­tracted within a very limited circle.

Sir GEORGE.

Well, madam, the very modesty which induces you to decline every pretension to the admiration of the world, is but a fresh proof how greatly you deserve it.

Miss DORMER.

You have much politeness, Sir George, but po­liteness is your peculiar characteristic—

Sir GEORGE.

At least, madam, I have much sincerity; —and if Sir John's mediation in my favour, together with as fervent an attachment as ever warm'd the bosom can obtain a look of approbation from Miss Dormer, she may rest satisfied that the busi­ness of my life, will be an unremitting sollicitude for the advancement of her happiness.

Miss DORMER.

I am infinitely honour'd by this declaration, — and I believe there are not many ladies—

Sir GEORGE.

Why, madam, if the vanity may be excused, I flatter myself there are not many ladies who wou'd highly disapprove my addresses. — I have more than once resisted some flattering overtures, and from very fine women too; —but my heart was reserv'd for Miss Dormer, and she will make me the happiest man existing, by kindly condes­cending to accept it.

Miss DORMER.

I am very sensible how just a value shou'd be [Page 29] plac'd upon such an affection as yours, Sir George, and it gives me no little —

Sir GEORGE.
[aside.]

So the Captain imagin'd I shou'd not succeed with her.

Miss DORMER.

You Will Pardon My Confusion, Sir George, —But The Declaration I Am Going To Make—

Sir GEORGE.

Will demand my everlasting gratitude, madam.

Miss DORMER.

I shall be very happy to find you really of this opinion.

Sir GEORGE.

I must be eternally of this opinion; condescen­sion and benignity, madam, are animating every feature of that beautiful face, and I am satisfied you will be prevail'd upon, not utterly to disregard the heart that so passionately solicits your accep­tance.

Miss DORMER.

Indeed, Sir George, I must own you are possess'd of extraordinary merit.

Sir GEORGE.

This goodness is too much, madam.

Miss DORMER.

Your understanding is enlarg'd.

Sir GEORGE.

Dear Miss Dormer!

Miss DORMER.

Your person is unexceptionable.

Sir GEORGE.

You distress me, madam, by this excessive ge­nerosity.

Miss DORMER.

Your manners are amiable.

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 30]

I want words to thank you, madam.

Miss DORMER.

And your humanity is unbounded.

Sir GEORGE.

What I am, madam, take me:—I am yours and only yours; nor shou'd the united graces, if prostrate at my feet and soliciting for pity, rival you a moment in my affection.—No, Miss Dor­mer, your happiness will ever be the ulimate ob­ject of my attention, and I shall no longer wish to exist, than while I am studious to promote it.

Miss DORMER.

Sir George, I fear you misunderstand me, —and yet it is in your power to make me very happy.

Sir GEORGE.

How can I misunderstand you, my dearest creature, if it is in my power to make you happy.

Miss DORMER.

'Tis in your power indeed, Sir George.

Sir GEORGE.

Bewitching loveliness, how you transport me; —so the Captain thought I shou'd'nt succeed with her.

[aside.]
Miss DORMER.

But if you wou'd wish to see me happy, — you must withdraw your addresses.

Sir GEORGE.

Miss Dormer!

Miss DORMER.

It is impossible for me ever to return your affec­tion.

Sir GEORGE.

Miss Dormer!

Miss DORMER.
[Page 31]

And I shall be miserable beyond belief by a continuance of your sollicitation.

Sir GEORGE.

Miss Dormer!

Miss DORMER.

O, Sir George, to the greatness of your huma­nity let me appeal against the prepossession of your heart. — You see before you a distressed young creature, whose affection is already engaged; — and who, tho' she thinks herself highly honoured by your sentiments, is wholly unable to return them.

Sir GEORGE.

I am extremely sorry, madam, —to have been —I say, madam, —that—really I am so exceedingly disconcerted, that I don't know what to say. —

Miss DORMER.

O, Sir George, you have no occasion for apo­logies, tho' I have unhappily too much; —but I know the nicety of your honour, and I depend upon it with security. —Let me then entreat an additional act of goodness at your hands, which is absolutely necessary, as well for my peace, as for my father's: — this is to contrive such a method of withdrawing your addresses, as will not expose me to his displeasure. —Let the discontinuance of them appear, not to be the re­sult of my request, but the confequence of your own determination; he is a zealous advocate for you, and I shou'd incur his severest resentment, if he was to be acquainted with the real im­pediment to the match. — You are distres­sed, Sir George, and I am sinking with confusion; —I shall therefore only add that I trust you with more than life, and that I conjure you to com­passionate [Page 32] my situation. — By this conduct you will engage my eternal esteem, and merit that happiness with a much more deserving woman, which it is impossible for you ever to enjoy with me.

[Exit.]
Sir GEORGE.

What is all this! — a dream! —No, 'tis no dream, and I feel myself awake but too sensibly. — What then, am I rejected, despis'd, where I suppos'd myself certain of success and approba­tion. —This is too much; —neither my pride nor my tenderness can support the indignity, —and I shall—what shall I do? Shall I meanly betray the poor girl who has generously thrown herself upon my humanity, and convince the world by such a conduct that she was right in refusing me: —no, damn it—I scorn a littleness of that nature, and I must shew myself worthy of her affection, tho' her unfortunate pre-engagement wou'd not suffer me to obtain it. But how in the name of perplex­ity shall I manage the matter? —A refusal on my side necessarily incurs the general resentment of the family, and the censure of the world into the bargain; — so that in all probability I shall not only have the honour of risquing my life but my reputation, and this for the happiness of giv­ing the woman I admire to the arms of my rival. —Really the prospect is a very comfortable one.

[Exit.]
Enter Miss MONTAGU and Miss DORMER.
Miss MONTAGU.

Upon my word, Caroline, you have acted a very heroic part; —but this unaccountable love is able to carry the most timid of the romantic la­dies thro' the greatest difficulties. —Now had I [Page 33] been in your situation, I cou'd no more have ask'd the man to take my fault upon himself, than I cou'd have made downright love to him.

Miss DORMER.

Ah, Harriot, you little know to what extremi­ties a strong prepossession is capable of driving a woman, even where there is the most evident im­possibility of ever obtaining the object of her in­clinations.

Miss MONTAGU.

O, my dear, I see very plainly that it is capable of driving a woman to very great extremities.

Miss DORMER.

Well I am convinc'd that if any thing was to prevent your marriage with my brother, you wou'd, notwithstanding this seeming insensibility, look upon the rest of his sex with the utmost aversion.

Miss MONTAGU.

I wonder, Caroline, after my repeated declara­tions of indifference with regard to your brother, that you can imagine I consider him with the smal­lest partiality. —There was indeed a time when I might have been prevailed upon to endure the creature, —but his negligence quickly alarmed my pride, and prevented me from squandering a sin­gle sentiment of tenderness, upon a man who seem'd so little inclin'd to deserve it.

Miss DORMER.

Well, my dear, I am in hopes that you will have but little reason to blame his negligence for the future, —because I know he intends this very day to solicit your approbation.

Miss MONTAGU.

O he does me infinite honour, and I suppose you imagine he is entitled to one of my best curt­sies [Page 34] for so extraordinary an instance of his con­descension; —but, Caroline, I am not altogether so critically situated as to be glad of a husband at any rate, —nor have I such a meanness of disposi­tion as to favour any addresses which are made to me with a visible reluctance.

Miss DORMER.

A visible reluctance, my dear—?

Miss MONTAGU.

Yes, Caroline, a visible reluctance. —'Tis true indeed there are a good many kind-hearted crea­tures who can stoop to fatter a fellow's vanity, even while he treats them with contempt; —but I am made of different materials, my dear, — I love to mortify the presumption of those confi­dent puppies, who ask my hand with as much fa­miliarity as if they ask'd a pinch of snuff, and seem to say, ‘so child, I want to make you the upper servant of my family.’

Miss DORMER.

You are a whimsical creature, Harriot, —but how can you contrive to invalidate the contract between my brother and you, if you are even se­rious in your determination?

Miss MONTAGU.

If I can guess right, your brother will himself find a very expeditious method of breaking it. — However, if he shou'd not, I am in no great hurry for a tyrant, and my Strephon's impudent brow shall be pretty well loaded with wrinkles, before he finds me in the humour of saying, ‘whenever you please, good Sir, —and I am very much oblig'd to you.’

Miss DORMER.

Well, well, Jack must solicit for himself, and I am sure, notwithstanding this pretended want [Page 35] of feeling, you are no way destitute of good­nature and sensibility.

Miss MONTAGU.

Good-nature and sensibility, Caroline; —ay, 'tis this good-nature and sensibility that makes the men so intolerably vain, and renders us so fre­quently contemptible. —If a fellow treats us with ever so much insolence, he has only to burst into a passionate rant, and tell a gross lie with a prodigious agitation; — in proportion as he whines we become softened; till at last, bursting into tears, we bid the sweet creature rise, —tell him that our fortune is entirely at his service, and beg that he will immediately assume the power of making us compleatly miserable.

Miss DORMER.

What a picture!

Miss MONTAGU.

While he, scarcely able to stifle his laughter, retires to divert his dissolute companions with our weakness, and breaking into a yawn of insolent affectation, cries, ‘poor fool she's doatingly fond of me.’ —However, Caroline, to convince you at once with regard to my sentiments for your bro­ther —

Miss DORMER.

Well!

Miss MONTAGU.

Let me tell you now you have determin'd against Sir George, that this very coxcomb as you call him, this Narcissus, who can love nothing but himself, according to your account —

Miss DORMER.

Astonishment!

Miss MONTAGU.

Is the only man I shall ever think of seriously — [Page 36] There, wonder, —be amaz'd that I don't see with your eyes, —and despise my want of taste;—I'm a mad girl, you know, and possibly like Sir George for his peculiarities, —but still foibles are less culpa­ble than faults, Caroline, and the vanities even of a coxcomb arc more ealsily cured than the vices of a libertine.

Enter a FOOTMAN.
FOOTMAN.

Mr. Villars ladies, sends his compliments, and is ready if you are disengaged, to play over the new air which you commended last night at the Opera.

Miss Dormer.

O we'll wait upon him instantly.

[Exit Footman.]
Miss MONTAGU.
[ludicrously.]

O yes, we'll wait upon him instantly!

Miss DORMER.

How can you be so provoking, Harriot?

Miss MONTAGU.

What, provoking to wait upon your Corydon instantly. —Come, my sweet shepherdess, let me shew it to the parlour.

[Exeunt.]
The SCENE changes to WILLOUGHBY'S.
Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
Enter

Mr: Willoughby is return'd I find, and has got the letter Cornelia left for him. —Well, by this time she's with her husband that is to be, and will, I suppose, be speedily on her journey. —The Cap­tain can't recede now, and let his father be pleated or displeased, he is still heir to his title and for­tune. —What a difficulty I had to shew her the necessity, —pay the propriety of this measure; — [Page 37] fond as she is of Dormer, it was hardly possible to engage her in it, and she seem'd at one time more determin'd to give him up for ever, than betray the dignity of the female character. —Dignity indeed—I think I know what be­longs to female dignity, as well as most people; — these very young girls, however, art strange crea­tures; — their nicety is not in the least wounded when they tell a man they love him. —But O'tis a deviation from dignity to own they wish him for a husband. —Here comes Mr. Willoughby; —he mus'nt know my share in this transaction 'till he finds himself happy in the good conse­quences, and owns there is at least one sensible head in the family.

Enter WILLOUGHBY. [speaking to a servant behind.]
WILLOUGHBY.

Let a coach be call'd directly, —she must cer­tainly be gone off to this libertine Dormer.

Mrs. WILLOUGABY.

Well, have your elevated notions done you any service, or has all turn'd out for the best now?

WILLOUGHBY.

Madam, madam, don't distract me, — don't distract me, —I am sufficiently miserable without these unnecessary reproaches.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

O you are! I am heartily glad of it —

WILLOUGHBY.

Yet something whispers at my heart that all will still turn out for the best —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Indeed!

WILLOUGHBY.

Yes, —the dispensations of providence are al­ways [Page 38] ways founded on justice; —and none are ever suf­ferers in the end, but those who have merited the utmost severity from its hands.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Fine philosophy truly; —and I suppose you wou'd have thought it for the best if you had lost me, as well as your daughter?

WILLOUGHBY.
[ironically.]

I wou'd have tried at least, madam, to be as easy as possible under so great a misfortune.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

You wou'd you barbarous man, —but you are miserable enough without such a circumstance, and that's some comfort to me. — Your obsti­nacy has made your only child desperate, and you have thought it better to run the hazard of her ruin, than to establish her happiness on a certain foundation.

WILLOUGHBY.

I tell you, madam, any distress is preferable to the perpetration of a crime; and there was no way of acting upon your principles, without the blackest ingratitude to the common benefactor of my family. — I feel for the indiscretion of this unhappy girl with the severest poignancy, but I rejoice that my partiality for her led the father into no action that could impeach the probity of the man.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Mighty fine.

WILLOUGHBY.

This, madam, is a consolation, a great conso­lation in this hour of affection; and let me tell you that in the severest trials, the truly honest feel a satisfaction, which is never experienced in the most flattering moments of a guilty prosperity.

Mrs. WlLLOUGHBY.
[Page 39]

Well, well, follow your own course, and an­swer for the consequences. —Had my advice been taken, — but who indeed takes sensible advice now-a-days; —you never took my advice in your life, and you see what the effect has proved to your unfortunate family.

WILLOUGHBY.

A truce with, your wisdom, madam, I beseech you; for if it only teaches you to be worthless, it wou'd be happy for you to be the greatest idiot in the kingdom:—but I have no time to waste in words, every possible measure must be taken for the recovery of this infatuated girl —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

And suppose you shou'd not be able to recover this infatuated girl as you call her, —what medi­cine will your philosophy in that case administer for so great a misfortune.

WILLOUGHBY.

The best of all medicines, —the consciousness of having never deserv'd it.

[Exit.]
Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Why you ill-bred brute won't you take me along with you —I must go with him to see that every thing is conducted with propriety.

[Exit.]
The END of the SECOND ACT.

ACT III.

SCENE the Park.
VILLARS.
alone

INTO how very hopeless a situation has my fortune at last plung'd me, and how unluck­ily has the very accident which I consider'd as the most happy circumstance of my life, turn'd out a source of disappointment and distress. — Here, while I was rejoicing on being entertained by Sir John Dormer, was it possible for me to suppose that his amiable daughter wou'd have made so absolute a conquest of my heart. — But on the other hand, was it possible to see so much sweet­ness, affability, and merit, without the warmest admiration? — Yet to what purpose do I conti­nually indulge myself in thinking of Miss Dor­mer? —My lot in life is as precarious as it is poor, whereas she is entitled to cherish the no­blest expectations. —'Tis true indeed, Captain Dormer has favour'd me with his friendship, and I am in hourly hope of an ensigncy by his means—. And will an ensigncy — No— I'll lock the se­cret eternally in my bosom, and since I cannot raise myself up to the importance of her prospects, she shall never be reduc'd to the penury of mine.

Enter DORMER.
DORMER.

All alive and merry, my dear Villars, I am now in cash enough; but here my boy is the commission I have been soliciting for you. —'l is just sign'd, —and you must do me the additional favour of accepting this note to buy regimentals.

VILLARS.
[Page 41]

You overwhelm me with this generosity —

DORMER.

Nay, no hesitating, — you shall give me a draft upon the agent for the money, or do any thing your ridiculous nicety requires, so you only con­descend to oblige me.

VILLARS.

I am at a loss for words to —

DORMER.

I am very glad of it, as I don't want to be thank'd for an act of common justice; the ne­cessities of the worthy have a constant claim upon the superfluities of the rich, and we in reality only pay a debt, where the world imagines we confer an obligation.

VILLARS.

This way of thinking is so noble, that —

DORMER.

Poh, —poh, —poh man, let's have none of these elaborate acknowledgements, especially at this time—when I have news for you; — such news, —wou'd you believe it, Miss Willoughby has actually left her father, and is now at my private lodgings in Pall mall.

VILLARS.

You astonish me!

DORMER.

Read this letter, and it will inform you of every thing.

VILLARS reads.

‘My dearest Dormer, my unrelenting father has this morning commanded me, never to re­ceive a visit from you more —’

DORMER.
[Page 42]

There's a touch of the pathetic, Villars. — My unrelenting father has this morning com­manded me, never to receive a visit from you more.

[ludicrously.]
VILLARS.

‘But there's no possibility of existing without my Dormer —’

DORMER.

But there's no possibility of existing without my Dormer.

VILLARS.

‘I have therefore sent some cloathes, and a few ornaments, to the house in Pall-mall, where I have occasionally met him, and shall follow them immediately myself —’

DORMER.

And shall follow them immediately myself. — Ay, there she drops the heroic, and sensibly pro­ceeds to business.

VILLARS.

‘If my Dormer's passion is as sincere and as honourable as I think it, he will take instant measures for carrying me to Scotland —’

DORMER.

No—Scotland is too far to the north, Villars —too far to the north—but mind what follows.

VILLARS.

‘And put it out of the power of the most ma­lignant destiny—’

DORMER.

There she's in heroics again, Villars.

VILLARS.

‘To rob him or his Cornelia Willoughby.’

DORMER.

To rob him of his Cornelia Willoughby. — O you must speak that with all the emphasis of tra­gedy [Page 43] tenderness, man:—your voice must be broken, —your bosom must be thump'd, —your eyes must be fix'd. —Zounds it will never do without a deal of the passionate.

VILLARS.

How can you turn a woman into ridicule, whose partiality for yourself, is the only cause of her indiscretion?

DORMER.

And how can you suppose that her partiality for me, shou'd render me blind to the impropriety of her conduct? —I can see when a woman plays the fool with myself, as soon as when she plays it with other people.

VILLARS.

Well, but what do you intend to do, you see her elopement is upon an absolute supposition of your intending to marry her?

DORMER.

I don't know that, nor do I see how I am bound to take more care of a lady's honour, than she chooses to take herself. —But even admitting the force of your supposition, what can I do? —It is not in my power to marry her, she knows herself it is not in my power, and I shou'd cut a very ridiculous figure in the eye of the world, if after a fine girl threw herself voluntarily into my arms, with a perfect knowledge of my situation, I was to read her a lecture of morality with a prim, puritanical phyz, and to cry, ‘you shan't stay with me, Miss, you must go home and be du­tiful to your papa.’

VILLARS.

My dear Captain, a fond woman always judges of her lover by herself; and Miss Willough by imagines, because she is ready to run any risk for [Page 44] your sake, that you will as readily run any hazard for her's, —she therefore trusts you —

DORMER.

Zounds, Villars, how preposterously you argue; —doesn't every woman who trusts entirely to the discretion of a lover, —trust a robber with her purse, and an enemy with her reputation? A woman of real principle will never put it into a man's power to be persidious, and I shou'd not care to trust any of these eloping damsels with my honour, who are such miserable guardians of their own.

VILLARS.

You are a very extrrordinary man indeed, to think meanly of a woman, for giving you the greatest proof which she can possibly shew of her affection.

DORMER.

I must think meanly of any woman who, gives me an improper proof of her affection, tho' I may be inclin'd to take an advantage of it.

VILLARS.

Indeed!

DORMER.

O, Villars, if the women did but know how we doat upon them for keeping us at a sensible distance, and how we despise them where they are forwardly fond, their very pride wou'd serve them in the room of reason, and they would learn to be prudent even from the greatness of their vanity.

VILLARS.

So then you think Miss Willoughby fair game, now she has —

DORMER.

Undoubtedly; —formerly, indeed, I had some scruples on her father's account, —but now she [Page 45] has gone this length, there is no resisting the temptation. —As I told you before, Villars, she knows I can't marry her, she knows I am already engag'd, —and what the devil do you think she wants with me—hey?

VILLARS.

Why but —

DORMER.

Why but, — why but what? Only consider man what a mind a woman must have, who can plunge her whole family in wretchedness for any fellow's sake; honour believe me, Villars, never took root in a bosom which is dead to the seelings of nature; nor are those in the least to be pitied who are willingly destroy'd.

VILLARS.

Well, well, I stay still —

DORMER.

But well, well, — I hav'nt time to hear what you wou'd say, —for I want you to go to Pall­mall directly to see that Miss Willoughby is pro­perly accommodated. — I know the moment she is miss'd I shall be suspected, so I'll go to my fa­ther's and be in the way there, to save appearances as much as possible,

VILLARS.

Why hav'nt you been at Pall-mall yourself to receive her?

DORMER.

Yes, but I had only time to take a few trifling liberties, —and I am now going to make love very much against my inclination to Miss Mon­tagu —My father read me a damn'd severe lecture this morning, and the best way of preventing any suspicion from fastening on me about Miss Wil­loughby, is to shew every mark of readiness to [Page 46] comply with his inclinations; —but go, my dear boy, about the business, and I'll do as much for you, whene'er a pretty woman brings you into diffi­culties.

VILLARS.

O, I am much oblig'd to you.

DORMER.

The people of the house will admit you di­rectly; —and remember, that a trifling lie or two must choak neither of us, if any body shou'd question us about the little run-away.

[Exeunt severally.]
SCENE changes to Sir JOHN DORMER'S.
Enter Sir GEORGE.
Sir GEORGE.

Why how the plague shall I act in this affair, —or with what face can I possibly tell Sir John that I am desirous of declining an alliance with his family, after I have so repeatedly solicited his in­fluence with Miss Dormer. — I promised to wait till he return'd from the Cocoa-tree—I wish he was come back with all my heart—for my present situation is none of the most agreeable. —Upon my word it was a mighty modest request of the young lady, at the very moment she refus'd me, to desire I wou'd take the whole blame upon my­self. — Your women of sentiment, however, have a very extraordinary manner of doing things — O but here comes Sir John, what the devil shall I say to him.

Sir JOHN.
Enter

Sir George I give you joy, —joy a thousand times. —I met Caroline as I was coming up stairs, and by her silence as well as blushing. I [Page 47] read her readiness to comply with my wishes, and find her the excellent girl I always imagin'd her.

Sir GEORGE.

She is a very excellent young lady indeed, and I am very much oblig'd to her.

Sir JOHN.

You can't now, conceive the transport of my heart at her chearful concurrence, but I hope you will one day experience, that a dutiful child is the first of all human felicities.

Sir GEORGE.

It must be a very great happiness indeed, Sir John.

Sir JOHN.

Well, Sir George, our lawyers shall meet this very evening, and every thing shall be settled to our mutual satisfaction.

Sir GEORGE.

Yes, Sir John, I wish to settle every thing to your satisfaction.

Sir JOHN.

There will be no great occasion for expensive preparations.

Sir GEORGE.

O none in the world, none in the world.

Sir JOHN.

I don't see any necessity you have to move out of our present house in Berkeley-square.

Sir GEORGE.

Nor I either.

Sir JOHN.

You have room enough there.

Sir GEORGE.

Plenty.

Sir JOHN.

Why what's the matter, Sir George, you speak with an air of coldness and embarrassment that surprizes me?

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 48]

Sir John, I am incapable of a duplicity.

Sir JOHN.

Well.

Sir GEORGE.

And notwithstanding my wishes for Miss Dor­mer are as ardent as she is deserving, —a circum­stance has happen'd, which must forever deny me the blessing of her hand.

Sir JOHN.

You astonish me! —but what circumstance— she is ready—

Sir GEORGE.

Yes, yes, she is very ready, Sir John.

Sir JOHN.

Then pray acquaint me with the impediment.

Sir GEORGE.

My dear Sir John, a point, a very nice point of honour prevents the possibility of my indul­ging you in this request: you may, however, safely assure yourself that I am now no less worthy of your good opinion, than when you favour'd me with the warmest reeommendation to Miss Dor­mer.

Sir JOHN.

Mighty well, Sir George, mighty well, —and so you come into my house to solicit my influence in your favour, over the affections of my daughter, obtain her approbation, and then, without pro­ducing one cause for a change in your sentiments, affront us both in the grossest manner, by in­stantly receding from your engagements.

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 49]

You are warm, Sir John.

Sir JOHN.

Have I not abundant cause for warmth, when you deny a reason for the affront which on this occasion you have offered to my family. — If you know any thing in my daughter's conduct that renders her unworthy of your alliance, pro­nounce it freely — and I shall myself be the first to approve your rejection of her. — But, Sir George, if you capriciously decline a treaty which you yourself took so much pains to commence, without assigning a sufficient cause for your be­haviour; be assur'd I will have ample satisfaction. — Nor shall the altar itself protect you from the united vengeance of an injur'd friend and an in­sulted father.

Sir GEORGE.

Sir John, I easily conceive the purport of this menace: — but whatever measures you intend to take, let me tell you, I shall one day have your thanks for the conduct which now excites your in­dignation; and, let me also tell you, that the very moment in which your hand is raised against my life, will be the moment in which I shall prove myself the truest friend to your family.

Sir JOHN.

Away, away, you are all profession and fals­hood. — My daughter told me that you were in­capable of loving any thing but yourself.

Sir GEORGE.

I thank her very heartily, Sir.

Sir JOHN.

And that the wishes of your heart were entirely centred in the admiration of your own adorable person.

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 50]

O, I am infinitely oblig'd to her.

Sir JOHN.

But insignificant, as she justly represented you—

Sir GEORGE.

Insignificant!

Sir JOHN.

That insignificence shall not be your protection.

Sir GEORGE.

My protection! mdash;So, I want to be protected!

Sir JOHN.

Therefore, unless you wou'd prove yourself as destitute of courage as of honour, meet me at the Cocoa-tree in an hour; we can easily have a pri­vate room, and, if you fail, I shall set such a stig­ma on the coward, as will render him a scorn even to the greatest prosligate in the kingdom.

[Exit.
Sir GEORGE.

So—now I am engag'd in a pretty piece of business —and must hazard my life for a woman, who has not only rejected my addresses, but mention'd me with contempt; and danger join'd to insult is my reward, where, in reality, I ought to meet with thanks and approbation, la la la la lalla, (hums a French air)— Well, be it as it will, Miss Dormer's secret shall be inviolably preserv'd. — A thrust through the guts is, to be sure, disagreeable enough, but if fellows every day hazard it in defence of the basest actions, there can be no mighty heroism in running a little risque, to support the cause of honour and generosity.

[Exit.
[Page 51] SCENE, DORMER'S Lodgings in Pall-Mall.
Enter Miss WILLOUGHBY.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Where shall I hide my miserable head, or how shall I avoid the stroke of impending destruction. — The man who shou'd have been the guardian, is himself the person that attacks my honour, and the unlimited confidence which I rashly repos'd in his af­fection, is now made use of to cover me with disgrace. — O that my unhappy sex would learn a little pru­dence, and be well convinc'd, when they fly from the imaginary oppression of a father, that they are seeking protection from the most cruel of all ene­mies, those who mean to sacrifice their peace, and blast their reputation.

Enter Lucy.
Lucy.

Madam, there is a Gentleman from Captain Dormer come to wait upon you.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

What can he want with me?

Lucy.

I really can't say, Madam. — But, if you please, I'll send him up, and then you can know his busi­ness from himself.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.
[Walking about in disorder.]

How am I insulted and expos'd! But the woman deserves no respect from others, who does not shew a proper regard for her own character.

Lucy.
[Aside.]

Lord! what a mighty fuss we make, though I don't see we are a bit handsomer than other people. — Well, Madam, what shall I say to the gentleman?

Miss WILLOUGHBY

Shew the gentleman up.

Lucy.
[Page 52]
[Pertly.]

Yes, Madam.

[Exit.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Whoever he is he cannot increase my fears, and may possibly bring me some intelligence to mitigate their severity.

Enter VILLARS.
VILLARS.

Madam, your most obedient. — I wait upon you with Captain Dormer's respects, to apologize for his unavoidable absence a few hours, and to hope that every thing here is quite to your satisfaction.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

As the Captain, Sir, has engag'd your good offices on this occasion, I suppose you are ac­quainted with the history of my indiscretion.

VILLARS.

The Captain, Madam, gave me no particular account of matters, but only sent me as a friend, on whose secresy he cou'd rely, to apologize for his absence, and to enquire how you approved of this situation.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.
[With emotion.]

Sir, I don't approve of this situation at all.

VILLARS.

I shou'd be sorry, Madam, that my presence distressed you.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

'Tis not your presence, Sir, which distresses me, 'tis the consciousness of my own folly; 'tis the danger to which I have expos'd myself. — But, Sir, your appearance is the appearance of hu­manity; and I think you look with compassion on an unhappy young creature, whom the perfidy of a man too tenderly esteem'd, has devoted to dis­truction; if you do, Sir, save me — I conjure you, by all you hold most dear, to save me from dis­honour. [Page 53] — I have been indiscreet, but not criminal, and the purity of my intention has some claim to pity, though the rashness of my slight may be wholly without excuse.

VILLARS.

Be compos'd, Madam — Pray be composed — You affect me exceedingly. — And you shall find a protector in me, if you have any just cause to apprehend the least violence from Captain Dormer.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

If I have any cause, Sir. — Why, instead of proceeding with me to a place where we might be securely united, am I detained in this unac­countable house? — Why did he here attempt liberties, that must be shocking to the mind of sensibility? — And why at his departure did he give the people here orders to confine me to these apartments.

VIILARS.

You feel too strongly, Madam.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Can I feel too strongly, Sir, where my ever­lasting peace of mind is destroy'd; and where the man who declared he only existed for my sake, is cruelly industrious to plunge me into infamy? — Unknowing in the ways of the world, I cou'd not distinguish between the language of sincerity, and the voice of dissimulation. — By my own in­tegrity I judg'd of his truth, and cou'd not think that any man wou'd be monster enough to return a tender partiality for himself with disgrace and destruction.

VILLARS.

Madam, there is something in your manner — there is something in this generous indignation [Page 54] that disposcs me very warmly to serve you, and if you really desire to leave this house, you shall leave it instantly; the people have directions to obey me in every thing, and I do not think my­self oblig'd to answer Mr. Dormer's expectations, where his demands are evidently contrary to the principles of virtue.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Sir you charm me with these sentiments.

VILLARS.

Madam, they are sentiments which should re­gulate the conduct of every man; for he who suffers a bad action to be committed when he has the power of preventing it, is, in my opinion, as guilty as the actual perpetrator of the crime.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

I am eternally indebted to this generosity, Sir.

VILLARS.

Not in the least, Madam. — For, abstracted from my general abhorrence of what is indefen­sible, I find, I know not how, an irresistable in­clination to serve you. — But we lose time. — I'll order a coach directly to the door, and leave you at perfect liberty to follow your own inclinations.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

I have a fix'd reliance on your honour, Sir, and only lament that I have nothing but thanks to shew my gratitude for this goodness.

VILLARS.

My dear Madam, your thanks are more than I deserve. What I have done, humanity made my duty; and the most contemptible of mankind, is he who declines the performance of a good action because he has not an expectation of being re­warded.

END of the Third ACT.

ACT IV.

SCENE, Sir JOHN DORMER'S.
Enter Dormer followed by WILLOUGHBY.
WILLOUGHBY.

CAPTAIN Dormer, don't keep me on the rack, but give me up my daughter.

DORMER.

Sir, I have repeatedly told you—

WILLOUGHBY.

Yes, Sir, you have repeatedly told me, that you are wholly unconcern'd in her flight— But this is the only thing in which I cou'd find it any way difficult to believe you.

DORMER.

Mr. Willoughby, this doubt of my veracity is neither kind nor delicate.

WILLOUGHBY.

Don't insult me, Captain Dormer, while you are loading me with calamity, or possibly I may forget that you are the son of my benefactor. — However, Sir, I do not come here to menace, but to supplicate. — I do not come here to provoke the warmth of your temper, but to interest the sensibility of your heart. — You see me a distress'd, unfortunate, miserable old man. — The whole happiness of my life is wrapp'd up in the inconsi­derate girl you have stolen from my arms — and if she is not instantly return'd, my portion will be distraction. — Restore her therefore, I beseech you, and restore her while she is innocent. — The [Page 56] blow is a barbarous one, which is aim'd at the bosom of a friend; and the triumph is despicable indeed, which is purchased at the expcnce of hu­manity.

DORMER.
[Aside.]

Why, how contemptible a rascal is a libertine!

WILLOUGHBY.

For pity's sake give me back my child; nor destroy, in your giddy pursuit of pleasure, the eternal peace of a man who wou'd readily risque his life for the advancement of your happiness. — You have generosity, Captain Dormer, and you have underitanding— yet you combat the natural benevolence of your heart, and oppose the evi­dent sense of your own conviction: You are cruel, because it is gallant; and you are licentious, be­cause it is fashionable. — But, Sir, let my distress, my anguish, restore you to yourself, and teach you, in some measure, to anticipate the feelings of a father. Early in life an only son was taken from me; and the evening of my days is now to be mark'd with the pollution of an only daughter.— O! Mr. Dormer, you men of pleasure know not how wide a ruin you spread in the progress of your unwarrantable inclinations. — You do not recollect, that, besides the unhappy victim sacri­fic'd, there is a family to participate in her inju­ries; a mother, perhaps to die at her destruction, and a wretch like me to madden at her disgrace.

DORMER.

I cannot be the rascal I intended.

[Aside.]

Sir, — Mr. Willoughby, be satissied. — Miss Wil­loughby is safe and well — nor shall I ever enter­tain a wish to disturb your happiness, or to injure her reputation.

WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 57]

Eternal blessings on you for this generous de­claration. — But, if you speak your real senti­ments, conduct me instantly to my child.

DORMER.

With pleasure, Sir — and I have great reason to imagine, that the anxiety she has suffer'd in consequence of this little Indiscretion, will make her additionally worthy of your affection.

WILLOUGHBY.

Why, I always said, that every thing happens for the best; and that many accidents are really blessings in disguise, which we lament as absolute misfortunes.

DORMER.

Your philosophy will be justified in the present case, I assure you.

WILLOUGHBY.

Give me your hand, Captain. — I esteem you more than ever. — But come; I am impatient to see my poor girl. — Her fault was the result of her inexperience; and if we were all to be pu­nish'd for the errors of indiscretion, what wou'd become of the best of us?

DORMER.

Justly consider'd, Sir.

WILLOUGHBY.

Come along, come along, man: I want to be gone — and my miserable wife, whom I didn't care to bring in, for fear she shou'd be clamorous, waits for me in a coach at the end of the street.

DORMER.

I attend you, Sir — yet, if half the gay fellows about town were inform'd of the business I am going upon — I fancy they'd laugh at me pretty heartily.

WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 58]

Ah, Captain! a man of sense shou'd despise the ridicule of the profligate, and recollect, that the laughter of a thousand fools is by no means so cutting as the severity of his own detestation.

[Exeunt.
SCENE changes to another Apartment in Sir JOHN DORMER'S.
Enter Miss MONTAGU and Miss WILLOUGHBY.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Thus, my dear Madam, have I given you the whole history of my infatuation; and I have now only to repeat my sincere concern for thinking it possible that Captain Dormer cou'd be insensible of your very great merit, and to intreat the fa­vour of your interposition with my father.

Miss MONTAGU.

My dear girl, there is no occasion whatsoever for this generous apology.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Indeed, Madam, there is—I was unpardonably vain in attempting to dispute a heart with you, and I was extremely culpable, in forgetting how much the completion of my own wishes might disturb the peace of a family, to which my father had so many obligations.

Miss MONTAGU.

My dear Miss Willoughby, we women are all fools when we are in love, and it is but natural that our own happiness shou'd be more immedi­ately the object of our attention than the happi­ness of other people— But I want to ask you a question about this recreant of ours, to which I beg you will give me an ingenuous answer.

Miss WILLOUHGBY.
[Page 59]

Pray propose your question, Madam.

Miss MONTAGU.

Then, my dear, suppose matters cou'd be so brought about, that Sir John wou'd approve the Captain's attachment to you, cou'd you, tell me candidly, forgive the insolent use which he has just made of your generosity?

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Dear Miss Montagu, why do you ask me such a question?

Miss MONTAGU.

Because I am pretty sure you may still have him, if you think him worth your acceptance.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

I really don't understand you.

Miss MONTAGU.

You shall understand me then—I never will marry Captain Dormer.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Madam!

Miss MONTAGU.

He's not a man to my taste.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

No!

Miss MONTAGU.

No—he is worse to me, to make use of an af­fected simile, than prepar'd chicken gloves, or almond paste.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Indeed!

Miss MONTAGU.

Yes—he is more offensive than Naples dew, or Venitian cream, the essence of daffodil, or the Imperial milk of roses.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 60]

You can't be serious surely—not like him!

Miss MONTAGU.

No, positively, I do not like him.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Why, where can there be so—

Miss MONTAGU.

O bravo.

Is he not more than painting can express,
Or youthful poets fancy when they love.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

You reprove me very justly, Madam—and I blush to speak of a man with softness, whom I shou'd always consider with indignation.

Miss MONTAGU.

Come, come, my dear, the Captain is a very agreeable young fellow after all—But I know he is as indifferent about me, as I can possibly be about him, and I shou'd never have a syllable of the tender kind from him—if he was not ex­tremely unwilling to disoblige his father.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Has he yet declar'd himself, Madam?

Miss MONTAGU.

Why, not expressly—but I expect him every moment to open with the usual formality, and if you please, we can not only render the scene a whimsical one, but make him smart very sensibly for the liberties of this morning.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

In what manner pray?

Miss MONTAGU.

Why the moment he comes, you shall retire in­to this closet—and in the midst of all his pro­fessions to me, I shall take an opportunity of men­tioning [Page 61] your name with an air of jealous resent­ment.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Well!

Miss MONTAGU.

This I am sure will induce him to make violent protestations, that this heav'nly face of mine alone is the object of his adoration; and, as the men think it no way dishonourable to tell a trifling little fib to a woman, I shall soon have him vow­ing everlasting fidelity and swearing.

The envious moon grows pale and sick with grief,
That I, her maid, am far more fair than she.
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

I conceive the whole design, Madam.

Miss MONTAGU.

Well then, when he is in the meridian of all his nonsense—do you steal softly out of the closet and sit in that chair—I'll take care that he doesn't see you—If he forswears his passion for you, give him a gentle pull by the sleeve—and, looking him stedfastly in the face, leave all the rest to accident.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

I am afraid I shan't have spirits to go through with it.

Miss MONTAGU.

Courage, child; havn't I given you spirits enough in declaring that I'll never marry him? — I think you said my woman let you in, and that you saw nobody else.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Yes.

Miss MONTAGU.

Why then she shall keep your being here a se­cret from every body, and I warrant we'll pay the Captain off pretty handsomely—but why so me­lancholy?

Miss WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 62]

Why, my dear Miss Montagu, I don't know, if in justice to you, I shou'd think any more of Dormer—he has so many accomplishments—

Miss MONTAGU.

Well, my dear, to make you entirely easy, there is a man in the world who is, in my opinion, much more accomplish'd; —but not a word to any body on this matter for your life—I only mention it to you in confidence, and to shew the probability of your yet being happy with Dormer.

Enter JENNY.
JENNY.

Madam, the pens and paper are laid in the next room.

Miss MONTAGU.

Very well—go—and Jenny —

JENNY.

Madam.

Miss MONTAGU.

Don't give the least hint to any of the family that Miss Willoughby is here.

JENNY.

By no means, Madam.

[Exit.
Miss MONTAGU.

And now we'll prepare a letter to your father —But come, my dear girl, you must not be so dejected — Your little error is amply attoned for by the generosity of this conduct; and there are some faults which, like happy shades in a fine picture, actually give a forcible effect to the ami­able light of our characters.

[Exeunt.
[Page 63] SCENE changes to the Pall-mall apartments.
Enter WILLOUGHBY, Mrs. WILLOUGHBY, DORMER, and Lucy.
DORMER.

Come in, my dear Sir — come in — don't be alarm'd Miss Willoughby — your father is pre­pared to overlook every — Why, she isn't here!

LUCY.

Pray, Sir, didn't I tell you so?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

What isn't she here?

LUCY.

No, Madam.

WILLOUGHBY.

No!

LUCY.

Lord bless you, Sir, didn't I tell you so as you came up?

DORMER.

And where is she gone to?

Lucy.

Do you desire I shou'd tell the truth?

WILLOUGHBY.

Ay, speak the truth child, and fear nothing — But let's take a peep into this room.

[Goes into another room.
LUCY.

Then the truth is—

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

That's a good girl, speak up.

Lucy.

The truth is, I don't know where she's gone.

DORMER.
[Page 64]

Death and confusion, — where can she be gone to?

Lucy.

That I don't know, as I said before — But she went with your friend — the gentleman you sent here on a message to her.

[Exit.
Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

O, she's gone away with a friend of your's, is she — for shame Captain Dormer — you a tender lover — you animated with that exquisite softness which souls of sensibility feel.

DORMER.

Death, Madam, why will you teaze me in this manner — I tell you I have been betray'd. —

Re-enter WILLOUGHBY.
WILLOUGHBY.

No, Sir, it is I who am betray'd. — And so a friend of his has carried her off.

[To Mrs. Willoughby.
Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Yes, and every thing happens for the best now — does not it?

DORMER.

Mr. Willoughby, [...] me.

WILLOUGHBY.

Captain Dormer, after this re-iterated insult, this aggravated cruelty — 'tis infamous to talk with you. — However, Sir, old as you think me, and little as you dread my resentment, you shall feel it heavily. — No! injur'd as I am, you shall never receive a stroke from me. — I am too miserable myself by the loss of a child, to stab my best benefactor even in the person of a worthless son. — You are therefore [Page 65] afe. — Safe as the fears of cowardice can wish. — But, if you have feelings, to those feelings I con­sign you. — They will wake a scorpion in that bosom to avenge my wrongs. — For know, though bad men may find it possible to elude the justice of a whole universe, they are yet utterly without means of flying from their own recollection.

DORMER.

Mr. Willoughby, let me only explain the matter —

WILLOUGHBY.

Sir, I'll talk to no monsters.

DORMER.

Dear Mrs. Willoughby, your husband is so im­petuous —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Don't speak to me, Sir — don't speak to me. — A perfidious lover shall never gain an audience from Mr. Willoughby. — But, my dear, — what do you intend doing?

WILLOUGHBY.

Pray, Madam, don't teaze me.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Why, you il1-natur'd — but I won't forget the bounds of propriety — especially as you are not madman enough to fight — It wou'd be little for the better if you were killed.

WILLOUGHBY.

Death, Madam, any thing wou'd be for the better, that set me free from your intollerable im­pertinence.

[Exit.
Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Did the world ever hear such a vulgar fellow — But these husbands have no more breeding! — And here he has gone without giving me his hand. — In a little time I suppose the fair sex will [Page 66] be entirely neglected. —

[Going, returns.]

But, Sir, a word in your ear. — You are a base man. — I would not violate propriety for the world — but you are a base man. Sir John shall know every thing instantly. — 'T was I that urg'd my poor girl to repose that implicit confidence in your honour — and since my advice has lost — my assi­duity will do any thing to recover her.

[Exit.
DORMER.

Why, how just is it that profligacy shou'd be constantly attended with punishment, and how rea­sonable is it, that those who make no scruple of wounding the happiness of others, shou'd be con­spicuously miserable themselves. — How shall I look my father in the face, when this matter comes to be known; or how shall I see this unhap­py old man, whom I have so infamously wrong'd. — What a poor, what a paltry, what a merciless passion, is this passion of gallantry; yet it reflects no scandal whatever upon it's followers, though it begins in the most despicable falshood, and ter­minates in the most irreparable destruction. — A man of gallantry, is the only wretch who can despise the sense of shame, and stifle the feelings of gratitude without reproach; take him into your house, he attempts the sanctity of your bed; — load him with obligations, and he betrays the purity of your daughter. — The sensible world however allows him to be a man of honour all the time, and he stabs you with impunity to the heart for presuming to complain of your wrongs. — Why did not I see the blackness of this character a little earlier. — But — no — My cursed pride would resist the arguments of my conviction. — And for a pitiful triumph over an unsuspecting innocent, I must basely divest myself both of rea­son and humanity. Where can this girl be fled to? — Villars I am sure is incapable of betraying me, and as she came here with her own con­sent [Page 67] she was prepared for the consequences of course.

VILLARS.
Enter

My dear Villars you are come most luckily, here Miss Willoughby is gone off, and the peo­ple of the house have the impudence to say, by your means.

VILLARS.

Well, and they say very justly.

DORMER.

How's this?

VILLARS.

I suffer'd her to escape — I assisted in her escape — and am now ready to answer for the con­sequences.

DORMER.

Indeed!

VILLARS.

But first, Sir, let me return you the commis­sion, and the note with which you were this morn­ing so kind as to present me. — I do not mean to keep your favours while I counteract your views, and I scorn to profit by the generosity of any man, unless upon terms that merit my approbation.

DORMER.

Death and the devil, Sir, how dare you use me in this manner: how dare you betray my con­fidence so scandalously, draw, and give me instant satisfaction.

VILLARS.

I came here on purpose to give you satisfaction — but before I draw suffer me to ask a question or two in my turn. — And now, Sir, how dare you suppose, that I was to be made the instrument of your licentiousness; how dare you suppose that I [Page 68] wou'd be the pander to your vices, and join with you in a barbarous contrivance of destroying a young creature, whose inexperience was her only crime?

DORMER.

Here's a fellow!

VILLARS.

But I suppose you insulted me on account of my situation, and imagin'd, because I was poor that I was consequently worthless; however, Sir, be now undeceiv'd, and, in the midst of your affluence, and my poverty, know, that I am your superior, for the best of all reasons, because I dis­dain to commit a despicable action.

DORMER.

I am astonish'd at the very impudence of his rectitude, and can't say a syllable to him.

VILLARS.

When I came here, instead of a willing victim to your wishes, I found Miss Willougby in the ut­most affliction, conscious of her indscretion in flying from her father, and shuddering with ap­prehension of violence from you. — She soon in­form'd me of her fears, and lamented, in the most pathetic terms, how greatly she had been deceiv'd in the object of her affection. — She imagin'd an honourable union with you, wou'd have been the consequence of her flight; and little supposed that the man she lov'd wou'd make use of her partiality for himself to cover her with disgrace. — Thus disappointed, thus betray'd, she ask'd for my protection, she receiv'd it — and now, Sir, (drawing) take your revenge.

DORMER.

Yes, Sir, I will take my revenge, but it shall be thus: (throwing down his sword and shaking [Page 69] Villars by the hand) Thus, my dear Villars, let me thank you for the superiority of your principles; I am myself just awakened to a sense of true honour, and cannot, now I know the real motive of your conduct, resent, as an injury, what I must look upon with the highest admiration.

VILLARS.

How agreeably you surprize me, Sir.

DORMER.

Dear Villars, take these trifles again, or I shall not think you forgive me. (Villars accepts the com­mission, &c.) But, my poor girl — and so she has principle after all — what a rascal have I been! — Do tell me where she's gone.

VILLARS.

Indeed I cannot. — I only saw her into a coach; but I suppose she is returned to her father's.

DORMER.

No — she is not — her father is but just gone — he came to me, as I suspected, on the very first knowledge of her flight; and shew'd so deep a distress, that I cou'dn't persevere in my design of seeming wholly ignorant of her elopement.

VILLARS.

Well!

DORMER.

I therefore brought him here to give her back; and the poor man was actually in extasies — but when he found she was gone, he lost all patince; and, naturally enough, imagining that she was carry'd off by my contrivance, treated me with a freedom, which nothing but the conviction of my guilt could enable me to endure, even from the father of Miss Willoughby.

VILLARS.

Upon my word, this affair has drawn you into a very disagreeable situation.

DORMER.
[Page 70]

Into a disagreeable situation! — into a damn'd one — and I shall hate the word Gallantry as long as I live. — My friend's daughter too! — shame — shame — shame — Zounds! Villars, a man ought to be good even from policy, if he is not so from inclination. — Damn it; you don't know half the perplexities of my situation.

VILLARS.

No!

DORMER.

No. — Distracted as I am, I must assume a calm unruffled face immediately, before Miss Montagu.

VILLARS.

What, are you going to Miss Montagu di­rectly?

DORMER.

Yes, instantly — I have myself requested a tete a tete, to make a formal declaration — and truly I am in a pretty frame of mind to make love to a woman of her vivacity.

VILLARS.

Why, indeed, your hands are pretty full of bu­siness.

DORMER.

Yes, yes, I have business enough; and my father will know every thing presently. — But I must be a man of gallantry, and be damn'd to me! — Villars, you now see, that the greatest of all idiots is he who makes himself despicable to destroy his own happiness.

[Exeunt.
SCENE changes to a Room at the Cocoa-tree.
Sir GEORGE
(alone.)

Well, here I am; and a pleasant affair I have to go through! — I wish it was well over:— [Page 71] For, though there may be a great deal of bravery in venturing one's life, I can't say that there is a great deal of satisfaction.

Enter a WAITER.
WAITER.

Sir John Dormer, Sir.

Sir GEORGE.

Shew Sir John up. — Now for it.

The WAITER returns, introducing Sir JOHN, and exits.
Sir GEORGE.

Sir John, your most obedient.

Sir JOHN.

Well, Sir George; I see you are a man of cou­rage at least; and so far I find you worth my re­sentment.

Sir GEORGE.

No reproaches now, my dear Sir John: For the greatest enemies make a point of being per­fectly well bred, when they are going to cut one another's throats.

Sir JOHN.

Then, Sir George, that I may answer your ideas of politeness, let me beg of you to draw instantly.

Sir GEORGE.

There is no refusing a request which is made with so much civility; and now, Sir, I am all obedience to your commands.

Sir JOHN.

And now to punish the infamous insult which has been offer'd to my family.

Miss DORMER
rushes from a door at the head of the stage; and, falling upon her knees, exclaims,

Then punish it here, Sir: For I alone am cul­pable.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 72]

How's this!

Miss DORMER.

O Sir, hear me with pity: For the dread of your resentment is insupportable.

Sir GEORGE.

A lady upon her knees! Pray, Madam, suf­fer me raise you up.

Miss DORMER.

No, Sir George: This attitude best becomes a creature like me, who has not only expos'd her benefactor to danger, but even rais'd a sword against the life of her father.

Sir JOHN.

Rise, Caroline. — But tell me, in the name of wonder, what am I to understand by this?

Miss DORMER.

My indiscretion, Sir — my disobedience:— For, though you have ever treated me with the most unbounded indulgence, I have nevertheless ungratefully disappointed your views, and plac'd my affection upon an object that can never be in­titled to your approbation.

Sir GEORGE.

So my throat seems to be pretty safe this time.

Sir JOHN.

Go on.

Miss DORMER.

Actuated by my regard for this object, though utterly despairing to obtain him, I trusted Sir George with the secret, in the fulness of my heart; and begg'd he would not only withdraw his addresses, but withdraw them in such a man­ner, as might save me even from the suspicion of any unwillingness to pay an implicit obedience to your commands.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 73]

This is very extraordinary.

Sir GEORGE.

Yes, but it's very true for all that.

Miss DORMER.

Sir George saw my distress, and kindly com­plied with my request; and hadn't I accidentally overheard the altercation which produc'd this meeting, the best of fathers or the noblest of men

(pointing to Sir George)

had perhaps fallen a sacri­fice to the unhappy prepossession of an inconsi­derate daughter.

Sir GEORGE.

I never knew so sensible a woman in my life.

Miss DORMER.

Distracted at the extremity to which matters were carried, I knew not how to act— The mo­ment I was capable of resolving, I resolv'd to fly here and wait for your arrival—not coming to any determination till you, Sir, and Sir George had quitted the house—here I hinted to the people my apprehension of a misunderstanding between you, and desir'd to be plac'd in the next room to that which he told me was reserv'd for your use— the rest is already known—and I am now to in­treat Sir George's forgiveness, for the danger to which his unexampled greatness of mind had so nearly expos'd him—and to implore your pardon, Sir, for daring to entertain even a hopeless pre­possession, when I knew it must combat with the favourite object of your inclinations.

Sir GEORGE.

Come, Sir John—what the devil are you dream­ing of — you and I are friends now—and there­fore we need not stand altogether upon cere­monies.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 74]

I am considering, Sir George, whether I ought most to be pleas'd, or offended with my daughter.

Sir GEORGE.

Zounds, man, be pleas'd with her, for it will be most to your own satisfaction.

Sir JOHN.

Then, Caroline, let me tell you that I am charm'd with your frankness upon this occasion— though I am sorry it was not shewn a little ear­lier —had you ingenuously told me the situation of your heart when I talk'd to you this morning, you wou'd have sav'd yourself much anxiety, and prevented me from behaving in a manner to Sir George that I must be eternally asham'd of.

Miss DORMER.

Indeed, Sir, if you knew my motive—

Sir GEORGE.

Come, come, my dear Miss Dormer—don't let us pain ourselves with the recollection of past anxieties—when we may indulge ourselves with the prospect of future happiness—I have no no­tion of the wisdom that makes us miserable— and therefore, Sir John must and shall, if he ex­pects me to overlook his cavalier conduct of to­day, do me the favour to consult your incli­nations.

Miss DORMER.

You are too good, Sir George—but—

Sir JOHN.

Speak up my dear, and tell us candidly who you have distinguished with your approbation— I am not one of the fathers who wish to maintain a despotic authority, nor will I make my daughter wretched, to convince the world that I am master in my family.

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 75]

O fye, Sir John, there are a great many good fathers who never refuse any thing but happiness to their children.

Miss DORMER.

I am so overwhelm'd with this goodness—it is at present too much for me. As we go home in the coach I shall endeavour to let you know every thing—Especially as the object of my choice is—

Sir JOHN.

Is he a man of merit, my dear—is he a good man — he that is worthy in himself, is above the despicable necessity of stealing a reputation from the virtue of his progenitors; the riches of the heart are the noblest of all possessions.

[Exeunt Sir John, and Miss Dormer.
Sir GEORGE.

I am entirely of Sir John's opinion—the riches of the heart are the noblest of all possessions, and I don't think that, on the present occasion, I have proved myself the poorest fellow in the kingdom —notwithstanding my recent insignificance.

[Exit.
End of the Fourth ACT.

ACT V.

SCENE Sir JOHN DORMER'S House.
Enter Mis MONTAGU, and Miss WIL­LOUGHBY.
Miss MONTAGU.

Why, what can keep this hopeful Corydon of ours.

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Possibly some other attachment.

Miss MONTAGU.

Jealousy, Miss Willoughby—rank jealousy, my dear girl—O that we shou'd be such fools as to bestow a single thought upon these wretched fel­lows, who are not sensible of the obligation.

JENNY.
Enter

Madam, Madam, Captain Dormer is coming up.

[Exit.
Miss MONTAGU.

To your ambush, my dear—and be sure you watch a proper opportunity of annoying the enemy.

Miss WILLOUGHBY
(retiring into a closet.)

O you shan't have any occasion to question my generalship.

Enter DORMER.
DORMER.

Miss Montagu, your most obedi ent

Miss MONTAGU.

Captain Dormer, your most devoted humble servant.

DORMER.

I am come my dear Miss Montagu. —

Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 77]

I see you are, my dear Captain Dormer.

DORMER.

The amiable vivacity of your temper, Madam, has always been an object of my admiration—but I come now to solicit you in regard to a subject—

Miss MONTAGU.

Upon which it is criminal I suppose to exercise my amiable vivacity.

DORMER.

I need not inform you, Madam, of the engage­ment which, so happily for me, subsists between our families—nor need I remind you—

Miss MONTAGU.

Why then do you give yourself this trouble, Sir, if the information is so very unnecessary?

DORMER.

That I may tell you, Madam, I am inexpressi­bly fortunate in the honour of this interview, and that I may assure the most charming of her sex the whole felicity of my life materially depends upon her approbation.

Miss MONTAGU.

Upon my word, a very pretty speech, Captain, and very tolerably express'd — but do you know now, that I look upon the whole business of mak­ing love to be mighty foolish, and have no notion of a woman's sense, who is to be flatter'd out of her liberty, by a flimsy compliment to her person.

DORMER.

This liveliness is charming—but you must not however rally me out of my purpose—suffer me therefore, my dear Miss Montagu, to implore—

Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 78]

Now positively I must stop you, for there is no bearing the insolence of this humility.

DORMER.

What insolence—my dear Miss Montague—Is it insolence thus to fall at your feet—Is it inso­lence—

Miss MONTAGU.

For heaven's sake Dormer don't make a fool of yourself—for I tell you the humblest supplications with which you men can possibly teaze the wo­men, are an unaccountable mixture of pride and absurdity.

DORMER.

There is something so very new in this opinion, Madam, that I should be glad you'd let me know how it is to be supported.

Miss MONTAGU.

O'tis very easily supported, if you only suffer me to put the general purport of all love addresses, from the time of the first pair, down to the pre­sent hour, into something like plain English.

DORMER.

Pray do.

Miss MONTAGU.

Why then suppose, that a tender lover, like you, shou'd offer up his adoration at the altar of some terrestrial divinity like myself, let me ask you if this wou'd not be the meaning of his pretty harangue, however he might study to disguise his design with the plausible language of adulation.

DORMER.

Now for it.

Miss MONTAGU.

Don't interrupt me—Madam, your beauty is so exquisite, and your merit is so transcendent, that Emperors themselves might justly tremble to ap­proach [Page 79] you, and languish in the deepest despair of being allied to so much perfection.

DORMER.

Well said.

Miss MONTAGU.

Yet, though all hearts are yours, and though you were born to triumph over an admiring world, I desire you will instantly appoint me the master of your fate—my happiness depends upon your being a slave, and I must be eternally wretched, without the power of making you miserable — you must therefore promise to know no will but my humour, and no pleasure but my inclination— Your present state of freedom you must exchange for the most mortifying dependence, and throw your whole fortune at my feet, for the honour of managing the domestic concerns of my family. If you—

DORMER.

What the devil is there more of it?

Miss MONTAGU.

If you behave well, that is if you put up with every caprice of my temper, and every irregu­larity of my conduct; if you meanly kiss the hand that strikes at your repose, and treat me with re­verence when I offer you the grossest indignities, you shall have an occasional new gown, and some­times the use of your own chariot— Nay, if you are very good indeed, I may carry my kindness still farther, and use you with nearly as much ci­vility as any of my servants.

DORMER.

What hav'nt you done yet?

Miss MONTAGU.

O I cou'd go on for an hour—But what do you think of this specimen — Isn't it a true translation of all the love speeches that have been made since [Page 80] the commencement of the world, and aren't you men a set of very modest creatures, to suppose that an address of this elegant nature is calculated to make an instant conquest of our affections?

DORMER.

This spirit is bewitching, and increases my admiration, though it treats me with severity.

Miss MONTAGU.

Well, notwithstanding the frightful idea which I entertain of matrimony, I am nevertheless half afraid I shall be at last cheated out of my freedom as well as the rest or my sex — but then I must be perfectly convinc'd of my admirer's sincerity.

DORMER.

A decent hint that, though I wish it had been spar'd. —

[Aside.]

And can you, my dear Miss Montagu, possibly doubt the sincerity of my pro­fessions, and cruelly turn away those irresistible eyes when I vow an everlasting fidelity? — What, still silent, my angel — not a word — not one word to rescue me from destraction — but be it so — If Miss Montagu decrees my fate, I submit without murmuring, for death itself is insinitely preferra­ble to the idea of offending her.

[Going.]

I think I am pretty safe now.

[Aside.]
Miss MONTAGU

Now, who wou'd believe that this fellow cou'd lye with so very grave a countenance.

[Aside.]

Why you are in a violent hurry Captain Dormer.

DORMER.

O, zounds, she calls me back does she?

[Aside.]

What, my dear Miss Montagu, do you relent, do you feel the least compassion for the distresses of a heart that adores you?

Miss MONTAGU.

Sit down, Captain. — Sit down here — I am a strange, foolish creature — and cannot disguise [Page 81] my sentiments. — But if I thought myself the only object. —

DORMER.

By all my hopes—

Miss MONTAGU.

Well, don't swear — I must believe you. — And yet I am strangely apprehensive that in the extensive circle of your acquaintance you must have form'd some attachments. — The world has been talking — and 'tis no secret that Miss Wil­loughby has accomplishments.

Miss WILLOUGHBY enters unobserved by DORMER, and sits down.
DORMER.

Yes, Madam — Miss Willoughby has accom­plishments, but they are very trifling.

Miss MONTAGU.

Then you never entertained any tenderness for her, I suppose.

DORMER.

For Miss Willoughby, Madam — O my dear Miss Montagu, you don't think me altogether destitute of understanding!

Miss MONTAGU.

Why, you just now own'd that she had accom­plishments.

DORMER.

Yes, I said that she had trifling ones.

Miss MONTAGU.

And no more?

DORMER.

The baby's face is regular enough—and might serve very well for the window of a toy-shop.

Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 82]

Then I find there is nothing to be apprehended on her account.

DORMER.

On her account, my angel, you shan't lessen the merit of your own attractions so much as to admit the possibility of supposing it.

Miss WILLOUGHBY,
(Giving him a pull by the sleeve.)

I am very much oblig'd to you, Sir.

Miss MONTAGU.
(Ludicrously.)

Not a word, not one word to rescue me from distraction —

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

The baby's face is regular enough, and might serve very well for the window of a toy-shop —

Miss MONTAGU.

But be it so—If Miss Montagu decrees my fate, I submit without murmuring. —

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

O don't think the Gentleman altogether desti­tute of understanding —

Miss MONTAGU.

For death itself is infinitely more preferrable to the idea of offending her — There Miss Wil­loughby is a man of honour for you —

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

And are these the men who value themselves so much upon their veracity?

Miss MONTAGUE.

O my dear, they have veracity to a very pru­dent degree, for they never tell a falshood to any body who is capable of calling them to an ac­count — But come, Miss Willoughby, let us [Page 83] leave the Gentleman to himself — he has a very pretty subject for a reverie, and it wou'd be cruel to disturb him in his agreeable reflections — Sir, your most obedient — Give it him home, my dear girl — have no mercy on him —

[Aside to Miss WILLOUGHBY.]
Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Sir, your most respectful —

Miss MONTAGU.

That's right — Sir, your most oblig'd —

Miss WILLOUGHBY.

Your most faithful —

Miss MONTAGU.

Bravo! — And most devoted humble servant.

[Exeunt laughing.
DORMER.
[After a long pause of confusion.]

So; I have had a hopeful time on't — my evil genius has been along arrear in my debt, and now pays me off with a witness. — What a sneaking, what a pitiful puppy do I appear — thus detect­ed, and thus laughed at — But I deserve it all — I woudn't see the infamy of practising deceit upon a woman — I must even think myself call'd upon to betray, because the object was a woman; and laugh at the anguish I gave a worthy heart, because it was lodg'd in a female breast —— Notwithstanding all my mortification, however, I am overjoyed at finding Miss Willoughby safe — I may now perhaps prevent the matter from reach­ing my father's ears — not that I fear he will dis­card — but what is insinitely worse, if he knows it, will eternally despise me — How merry the girls were with me — Sir, your most respectful — Sir, your most oblig'd — Sir, your most faithful —

[Page 84] Enter Sir JOHN.
Sir JOHN.

Sir, your most devoted humble servant —

DORMER.
[Aside.]

O! now I am completely done for —

Sir JOHN.

Well, Sir, what can be urg'd for you now? — Is this the reformation I was to expect — and is this the regard which you entertain for the credit of your family?

DORMER.

If you'll give me leave to clear this matter up, Sir —

Sir JOHN.

'Tis already clear'd up — Mr. Willoughby — Miss Montagu have clear'd it up — And now sup­pose Mr. Willoughby, listening only to the dictates of his rage, and not to the pleadings of his friend­ship for me, had demanded reparation for his wrongs, how, after robbing him of his daughter, cou'd you come prepar'd against his life — And how, after destroying a young lady's reputation, cou'd you attempt to embrue your hands in the blood of her father? —But, Sir, you are a man of spirit, you are a man of honour, and that spirit, and that honour are to be sufficient pleas for every violence offer'd to justice, and ev'ry outrage commited upon humanity — You have a title to be guilty, because you have the character of being brave, and you may perpetrate the black­est crime with impunity, because you have the diabolical resolution to defend it.

DORMER.

There is so much propriety in this reproach, Sir — that I feel myself unable to answer it —

Sir JOHN.
[Page 85]

That sword I gave you, Sir, to be exerted in the cause of honour, not to be drawn in the support of infamy — I gave it to be us'd in the defence of your country, not to be exercis'd in the vio­lation of her laws — but why do I talk of honour to him who looks with admiration upon shame, and thinks himself accomplish'd in proportion as he becomes profligate — why do I reason with a man who glories in the prostitution of his under­standing, and imagines he exalts his character as he destroys the peace of society? — Perhaps, in his ideas of bravery he may be oblig'd even to raise his arm against my bosom, and perhaps he may punish a reproachful mention of his vices, though, it comes from the lips of his father.

DORMER.

Sir, I have been culpable — extremely culpa­ble — but my present intention is to remove Mr. Willoughby's distress — not to defend the injury I offered him — and I can with truth affirm, that the principal part of my misconduct in this affair, originally proceeded from the great veneration which I entertained for that very father, who now thinks me so profligate and unnatural.

Sir JOHN.

Mighty well!

DORMER.

I lov'd Miss Willoughby, Sir, tenderly lov'd her, before you enter'd into any engagement about Miss Montagu — But fearful of disobliging you, I kept the circumstance of my passion a secret, as I did not suppose you wou'd countenance a union, where there was so material a disparity of situations.

Sir JOHN.
[Page 86]

And, pray, Sir, how dare you suppose that I shou'd be more offended at the performance of a good action—than at the commission of a dis­honourable one? —How dare you imagine I shou'd be displeas'd at your marriage with Miss Wil­loughby, and that I shou'd not be infinitely more displeas'd at this scandalous seduction? —But it was your regard for me which led you to betray the confidence of your friend, as well as to at­tempt the innocence of his daughter—Yes, Sir, your regard for me is extremely evident—You knew how much my happiness depended upon your reputable rise in the world, and how warmly I expected you wou'd be a credit to your country, as well as an ornament to your family—Your natural advantages were great, and your educa­tion has been liberal—Yet, instead of the slatter­ing prospects with which my imagination was once delighted, I have now nothing before me but a gloomy scene of disappointment and regret—In­stead of hearing my son's name with joy, and exult­ing in the growing dignity of his character, I am hourly mortified with some fresh accounts of his licentiousness, and hourly trembling, left the hand of well-grounded resentment, or the sword of public justice, should cut him off in the perpe­tration of his crimes—Instead of finding him the support of my age, he incessantly saps the foun­dation of my life, and instead of kindly nourishing the lamp of my existence with his virtues, he sinks me down into the grave, an equal victim of sorrow and disgrace.

DORMER.
[Falling at his father's feet.]

No more, Sir, I beseech you no more—nor sup­pose me such a monster— My life hitherto has [Page 87] been a scene of folly and dissipation, and I reflect, with the deepest concern, upon the anxiety which the best of fathers has suffer'd on my account— but if he can be prevail'd upon to forgive the past, the future, I will boldly say, shall merit his appro­bation —for I am now satisfied that nothing can be consistent with the principles of honour, which is any way repugnant to the laws of morality.

Sir JOHN.

Rise, and be my son again—there is a candour, there is a generosity in this acknowledgment which engages my confidence, and I still slatter myself with a belief, that you will answer my warmest expectations.

DORMER.

You are too good, Sir—But the freedom with which I shall communicate the most unfa­vourable circumstances of this affair, as well as my readiness to fulfill all your commands, shall in some measure prove the certainty of my re­formation.

Sir JOHN.

Why, Jack, this is speaking like my son— And to let you see that your inclination is the only object of my wishes, Miss Willoughby's hand now waits to crown your return to virtue.

DORMER.

Miss Willoughby's, Sir!

Sir JOHN.

Yes, —Miss Montagu, just as I entered, ac­quainted me with the whimsical distress of your courtship scene, in terms equally consistent with her usual good-nature and vivacity, and on account, of your attachment to Miss Willoughby, as well [Page 88] as her own fix'd disinclination to be your's, re­quested I wou'd not think any longer of the treaty between our families—Finding her determin'd in the solicitation, I wou'd by no means force her wishes—and am now rejoic'd at so lucky an op­portunity of rewarding, as you yourself cou'd desire, the merit of your present character.

DORMER.

There is no doing justice to the generosity of your sentiments, Sir—

Sir JOHN.

Poh, poh, man, the parent that makes his chil­dren happiest always gives them the best fortunes —We'll, now join the company chearfully— But remember for the future, my dear boy, what every son shou'd constantly have in view, that more than your own happiness and your own honour are trusted to your care, and that you cannot experience a misfortune, nor suffer a dis­grace, without sensibly wounding the bosom of your father.

[Exeunt.
SCENE another Room at Sir JOHN DORMER'S.
Sir GEORGE.
Enter

So then, it seems, I am not quite detestible after all. —It seems there are some women, though I have been rejected, who can still think me amiable—and declare, if ever they change their situation, I must positively be the man. —Villars had the secret from Miss Dormer—and Miss Dormer had the acknowledgement of Miss Montagu's regard for me, from Miss Mon­tague herself—her refusal of Dormer more­over [Page 89] over corroborates the intelligence, even if there was any thing very improbable in my having en­gag'd a lady's affection. —Upon my soul I don't see but Harriot is to the full as handsome as Caroline; and then her understanding — Yes, I think 'tis pretty evident that she has the advan­tage in understanding — Ay, but can I so readily forget Caroline — Can I so quickly remove my addresses, and offer up that heart at the shrine of the one which has been so recently rejected at the altar of the other—Why, to be sure, there will be nothing extremely gallant in such an affair —But, at the same time, there will be nothing extremely preposterous — It doesn't follow, be­cause I have been repuls'd by one woman, that I should forswear the whole sex; and, in a fit of amorous lunacy, like the knight errants of old, nobly dedicate my life to despair, because I un­fortunately lost the original object of my affec­tions — Besides, at the present period, changing hands is all the fashion; and while it is so meri­torious in men of quality to part with their wives, it cannot surely be very criminal to part with our mistresses — here, by all that's opportune, she comes — what a bewitching girl — O! 'twou'd be barbarous to let her pine — I'll give her en­couragement at once, and put an end to her anxiety.

Enter Miss MONTAGU.
Miss MONTAGU.

O! there's no bearing their loves, and their joys — their tears, and their congratulations — Sir John has join'd the hands of another couple — and Caroline has now Miss Willoughby to keep her in countenance — But pray, Sir George, wasn't [Page 90] poor Villars overjoy'd when you told him of Sir John's design of receiving him as a son-in-law.

Sir GEORGE.

He was, both with gratitude and astonishment — however, I carried him immediately to Sir John; here Miss Dormer was sent for, and, with­out the least hint of her private sentiments, Sir John, who had properly sounded the young fel­low's inclinations, introduce'd him as a man whom he found worthy to be his son-in-law, and her husband.

Miss MONTAGU.

I pity'd her situation most heartily.

Sir GEORGE.

I pity the situation of every lady in love, Madam

Miss MONTAGU.

I am sure Miss Dormer thinks herself much indebted to your generosity.

Sir GEORGE.

Perhaps, Madam, I may yet have obligations to the prepossession of Miss Dormer.

Miss MONTAGU.

Prepossessions are strong things, Sir George.

Sir GEORGE.

And, in a lady's bosom, Madam, very trou­blesome.

Miss MONTAGU.

Not where the object is attainable—

Sir GEORGE.

True, Madam — and he must be a barbarian who, conscious of a lady's tenderness, possesses the ability without the inclination to return it — I think that hint will give her some consolation.

[Aside.]
Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 91]

The men, I believe, Sir George, have but few opportunities of exercising such a barbarity — Indications of tenderness seldom first proceed from the ladies.

Sir GEORGE.

I don't know that, Madam — but was I happy enough to be the object of a lady's esteem — I would sacrafice much to remove her anxiety — This will make her speak or the devil's in't.

[Aside.]
Miss MONTAGU.

Kind creature! and so you'd condescend to take pity on her.

Sir GEORGE.

I would do every thing to make her happy, Madam — why, what the plague must she be in love, and is the courtship to come entirely from my side?

[Aside.]
Miss MONTAGU.

Well! you are a whimsical creature, and so I leave you —

Sir GEORGE.

Stay, Miss Montagu —

Miss MONTAGU.

For what?

Sir GEORGE.

I will be generous and spare her blushes

[Aside.]

I have something very serious to say to you.

Miss MONTAGU.

Serious indeed if one may judge by your gravity.

Sir GEORGE.

Miss Montagu, I am inexpressibly concerned — I say inexpressibly concern'd to see you of late so melancholy.

Miss MONTAGU.
[Page 92]

To see me of late so melancholy! — Why, Sir George, I never had better spirits.

Sir GEORGE.

No!

Miss MONTAGU.

No — really —

Sir GEORGE.

I cou'd not imagine it.

Miss MONTAGU.

And why so, pray?

Sir GEORGE.

Why so, Madam? Nay, I have no particular reason — but Miss Montagu, I should be sorry to see you labour under the smallest uneasiness — I have the highest opinion of your merit, Madam — and —

Miss MONTAGU.

Surely Caroline has not—

[Aside.]

I shall be al­ways proud of possessing a place in the good opi­nion of Sir George Hastings.

Sir GEORGE.

You do possess the principal place in my good opinion, Madam — and —

The back scene thrown open discovers Sir JOHN, Cap­tain and Miss DORMER, VILLARS, Mr. Mrs. and Miss WILLOUGHBY.
Sir GEORGE.

Zounds, this interruption is abominable.

DORMER.

Ay, this is right; now the rooms are thrown together, we shall have space enough for a coun­try dance in the evening — Villars we now are bothers.

VILLARS.
[Page 93]

To my unspeakable transport.

Sir JOHN,
to Willoughby, who seems in private conversation with him.

Nay, no acknowledgment, my dear Mr. Wil­loughby — I am acting no more than an interest­ed part, and consulting my own wishes in the wishes of my children.

WILLOUGHBY,
to his wife.

Doesn't every thing happen for the best now?— And isn't this excellent young man, to whom I probably owe my child, another proof, that if we are desirous of happiness we must labour to de­serve it.

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
[Aside.]

My Scotch scheme has help'd the business greatly for all that.

Sir John.

We'll have a public wedding — the friends of all our families shall be invited — and Mr. Villars, let not any humility in the situation of your's, prevent you from calling the worthy to be wit­nesses of the justice which fortune renders to your merit.

VILLARS.

Sir, your goodness is unbounded — but justice obliges me to tell you, that the man thus honour'd with your esteem, is even more humble than you think him; that he has no family, no relations — and, out of this company, no friends.

WILLOUGHBY.

How's this?

Sir JOHN.

Pray wasn't Mr. Villars, the clergyman in my neighbourhood, your uncle?

VILLARS.
[Page 94]

He was the best of men; and more than a father to me in every thing but the actual re­lation.

WILLOUGHBY,
[Impatiently.]

Stand out of the way —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

My dear, I desire you won't forget the rules of propriety.

WILLOUGHBY.

You said, Sir, you were ignorant of your family.

VILLARS.

I did, Sir.

WILLOUGHBY.

Some unhappy father, like me, now bleeds for the loss of a son — Pray go on —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

My dear —

VILLARS.

At an early stage of infancy, some wandering miscreants stole me from my friends, and carried me into a distant part of the country, where a woman, who call'd herself my mother, being com­mitted to prison for a theft, fell ill of a fever, that put a period to her life — with her dying breath she related this circumstance, and wou'd have told more, but the last agonies taking away her utter­ance, prevented the possibility of any farther declaration.

Sir JOHN.

How unfortunate!

Miss DORMER.

How extremely unfortunate!

VILLARS.
[Page 95]

It wou'd have been still more unfortunate, hadn't the good Mr. Villars, who kept a little academy in the place, attended the poor wretch with medicines, and look'd with an eye of com­passion on my helpless situation — Mr. Villars was the universal friend of mankind, the rich never mentioned him without reverence, and the poor never beheld him without joy — But his in­come was too narrow for the extent of his bene­volence, and he was involved in continual dis­tresses from the uncommon excellence of his heart.

Sir GEORGE.

Zounds, no person doubts his being a good man.

VILLARS.

Mr. Villars, without hesitating, ordered me to be taken care of, and as soon as I was capable of instruction, receiv'd me into his house, where I was educated in common with the rest of his pupils — and at last grew sufficiently qualified to be his assistant; but his necessities encreasing with the exercise of his virtues, notwithstanding my utmost assiduity, he was oblig'd to sell his aca­demy, and I had at last the mortification of clo­sing his eyes in the very prison, from which I was originally rescu'd by the greatness of his humanity.

Miss DORMER.

And was it just at this time that Sir John bought the seat in your neighbourhood?

VILLARS.

It was, Madam — and it was at this time also, that hearing Sir John had an occasion for an assistant in some literary employments, I procur'd the recommendation to him which has given me [Page 96] the honour of being known in this family — The only trace of what I ever was, is this picture; which was by some means in my possession when I was stolen, as the woman who stole me declar'd in the course of her imperfect narration; fearing to dis­pose of it, she kept it to the hour of her death, and then delivered it up as a possible means of finding out my family —

Sir JOHN.

Let me see this picture.

WILLOUGHBY.

No, let me see it for the love of heaven — O Sir John — Sir John — this was Lady Dormer's picture — she made a present of it to my first wife, and here on the setting are the initials of her name.

Sir JOHN.

I remember it perfectly — I myself ordered the letters to be engrav'd.

VILLARS.

I can scarce speak.

WILLOUGHBY.

While I have power to ask — tell me, Sir, what is your age.

VILLARS.

Twenty-two.

WILLOUGHBY

Receive my thanks, receive my thanks, kind heav'n! — O my boy, my boy! Providence still orders all things for the best, and I am in reality your father.

VILLARS.

O, Sir! bless your son, and assure him he has a father.

Miss WILLOUGHBY,
embracing him.

My brother my deliverer too! — this is happi­ness indeed —

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.
[Page 97]

Let me embrace you too — Your sister will tell you what a mother-in-law I am, and how much she is indebted to my lessons of propriety. Well! I begin myself to think every thing happens for the best, after the unexpected good fortune of this morning.

DORMER.

Not to Sir George, I am sure — for he loses a good estate by this unexpected discovery.

[Here Miss MONTAGU, Miss DORMER, Sir JOHN, and DORMER seem congratulating VILLARS — so does Sir GEORGE.]
Sir GEORGE.

What, you begin to crow again, do you? — But, let me tell you, I think every accident hap­pens for the best, which enables me to do an act of justice, and advance the welfare of the de­serving.

Miss MONTAGU.

Generously consider'd indeed, Sir George — few people, I believe, would give up a fortune so easily.

Sir GEORGE.

Why, my friend Jack there, if he lost both an estate and a mistress in a couple of hours, wou'd hardly set so good a face upon matters, notwith­standing he is much my superior in serenity of countenance.

Sir JOHN.

And perhaps, Sir George, even you, may be a considerable gainer in the end, if we can but contrive to make an actual comedy of to-day's adventures, by your marriage with a certain la­dy in this company.

[Looking at Miss MONTAGU.]
Sir GEORGE.
[Page 98]

And possibly that might be yet effected, through your interposition, Sir John, with Miss Montagu.

Miss MONTAGU.

What? is your denouement to be produc'd at my expence; upon my word, I should be much oblig'd to Sir John's interposition for such a purpose!

Sir GEORGE.

I shou'd at least, Madam — and though I come rather with an ill grace after so recent a rejection—

DORMER.

Your affection is not unadulterated now George

Sir GEORGE.

Why, no — But I hav'nt yet told Miss Mon­tagu — that death itself is infinitely preferable to the idea of offending her —

[ludicrously]

though I wou'd readily risk my life to purchase her fa­vourable opinion.

[Turning to her.]
Miss MONTAGU.

Well, don't talk to me on this subject now, Sir George — You have to be sure merited much — and you are in every respect so greatly the oppo­site of my confident swain there, who thought I must fly into his arms the moment he condescend­ed to receive me — that — however, I won't hear a syllable from you now — if you can make a tollerable bow to me do, but don't let me hear a syllable of nonsense, I beg of you.

Sir GEORGE.

This goodness —

DORMER.

Didn't the lady say she wou'dn't hear a syllable of nonsense —

Sir GEORGE.
[Page 99]

And so you begin to talk to her, do you?

Mrs. WILLOUGHBY.

Mighty fine! is it nonsense to make a grateful acknowledgment for the kindness of a lady — What will the men come to at last? —

Sir GEORGE.

So he thinks, Madam—Though Villars

[Aside to Villars]

'tis a little hard, because Miss Mon­tagu chooses to consult her own happiness, that I am to acknowledge the receipt of an obligation.

Sir JOHN.

My dear Sir George, Miss Montagu has too much discernment not to see the value of so de­serving a lover — Address her therefore certain of success, and look securely for happiness ac­cording to Mr. Willoughby's principle, because you richly merit it.

WILLOUGHBY.

Right, Sir John — Providence looks down de­lighted on the actions of the worthy, and, how­ever it may command adversity to frown on the beginning of their days, they will acknowledge with me, that all it's dispensations are full of be­nignity in the end.

THE END.

EPILOGUE.

MODISH divines, at court and in the city,
Are in their pulpits hum'rous, gay, and witty —
They've now chang'd hands, the stage and pulpit teaching,
Sermons are plays, and plays are merely preaching —
A Word to the Wise, a pretty pert adviser! —
As if 'twere possible to make you wiser:
Yet as each here, may think the Poet labours
Not to teach him, but to instruct his neighbours:
As the bright reg [...]ts of that splendid row
Sneer on the pit, for beings much below;
And these in turn, as things in order move,
Toss up the sneer to those who mount above:
The gods look down, and let their pity fall
On front, side, green, stage-boxes, pit, and all.
Let me, before your carriages appear,
Breathe one short word, ye wise ones, in your ear.
You, stop your chairs, (to the side-boxes) your hacks, (to the pit) won't run away;
And ladies, (to the gallery) put not on your pattins pray:
And first, ye soft, ye sweet romantic maids,
Who die for purling streams, and sylvan shades,
And think for better and for worse, to take
The best of husbands, in a darling rake;
Who brings a shatter'd fortune to the fair,
With mind and body wanting vast repair;
[Page] Shall I for once your tender thoughts reveal?
'Tis fine to hear him swear, to see him kneel;
His tongue with worn-out extacies will run,
'Till he has triumph'd, 'till the wife's undone;
And then that tender strain, so love-creating,
Turns to, "Death, Madam, hold your cursed prating, —
"You quite distract me — prithee farther stand —
"I won't be teaz'd — Zounds, take away your hand —"
This is a sad change, ladies, but 'tis common,
Man will be man, and woman will be woman;
For Villars is a phoenix, where's his brother?
'Twill take a hundred years to find another.
Yet you, ye Sires, whom time should render wise,
You act as if each moment it could rise;
Forgetting all, what you yourselves have been,
You trust your girls with Dormers at fifteen;
Throw your poor lambkins in the tyger's way,
Then stare to find a rake — a beast of prey.
Learn prudence here — and, O! you precious blades,
Whether cockaded, or without cockades;
Whether haranguing for the public good,
You shake St. Stephens — or the Robinhood —
Who ring our charms for ever in our ears,
Yet inly triumph at a virgin's tears;
Be now convinc'd — the libertine disclaim,
And live to honour, if not dead to shame.
What is the plaudit of a fool when mellow,
Roaring in raptures, a damn'd honest fellow?
Will that repay you for the bosom stings?
Damn'd honest fellows, oft are worthless things
But I'll stop here, I will not sermonize —
A foolish woman can't instruct the wise.

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