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Mill. The interest I have in all that relates to you (the reason of which you shall know hereafter) excites my curiosity; and, were I sure you would pardon my presumption, I should desire to know your real sentiments on a very particular subject.
Barn. Madam, you may command my poor thoughts on any subject. I have none that I would conceal.
Mill. You will think me bold.
Mill. What, then, are your thoughts of love? Barn. If you mean the love of women, I have not thought of it at all. My youth and circumstances make such thoughts improper in me yet. But if you mean the general love we owe to mankind, I think no one has more of it in his temper than myself. I do not know that person in the world, whose happiness I do not wish, and would not promote, were it in my power. In an especial manner I love my uncle, and my master; but above all, my friend.
Mill. You have a friend, then, whom you love?
Barn. As he does me, sincerely.
Mill. He is, no doubt, often blessed with your company and conversation?
Barn. We live in one house, and both serve the same worthy merchant.
Mill. Happy, happy youth! Whoever thou art, I envy thee, and so must all, who see and know this youth. What have I lost, by being formed a woman! I hate my sex, myself. Had I been a man, I might, perhaps, have been as happy in your friendship, as he who now enjoys it is: but as it is- -Oh!
Barn. I never observed woman before; or this is, sure, the most beautiful of her sex. [Aside.] You seem disordered, madam-May I know the cause?
Mill. Do not ask me I can never speak it, whatever is the cause. I wish for things impossible. I would be a servant, bound to the same master, to live in one house with you.
Barn. How strange, and yet how kind, her words and actions are! And the effect they have on me is as strange. I feel desires I never knew before. I must be gone, while I have power to go. [Aside.] Madam, I humbly take my leave.
Mill. You will not, sure, leave me so soon!
Mill. You cannot be so cruel! I have prepared a poor supper, at which I promised myself your
Barn. I am sorry I must refuse the honour you designed me: but my duty to my master calls me hence. I never yet neglected his service. He is so gentle, and so good a master, that, should I wrong him, though he might forgive me, I should never forgive myself.
Mill. Am I refused, by the first man, the second favour I ever stooped to ask? Go then, thou proud hard-hearted youth; but know, you are the
only man that could be found, who would let me sue twice for greater favours.
Barn. What shall I do? How shall I go, or stay?
Mill. Yet do not, do not leave me. I with my sex's pride would meet your scorn; but when I look upon you, when I behold those eyes-Oh! spare my tongue, and let my blushes-this flood of tears too, that will force its way, declarewhat woman's modesty should hide.
Barn. Oh, heavens! she loves me, worthless as I am.
Her looks, her words, her flowing tears confess it. And can I leave her then? Oh, never, never! Madam, dry up your tears: you shall command me always; I will stay here for ever, if you would have me.
Lucy. So she has wheedled him out of his virtue of obedience already, and will strip him of all the rest, one after another, till she has left him as few as her ladyship, or myself. [Aside.
Mill. Now you are kind, indeed: but I mean not to detain you always: I would have you shake off all slavish obedience to your master; but you may serve him still.
Lucy. Serve him still! Ay, or he'll have no opportunity of fingering his cash; and then he'll not serve your end, I'll be sworn. [Aside.
Blunt. How! is our mistress turned fool at last?
She's in love with him, I suppose.
Lucy. I suppose not. But she designs to make him in love with her, if she can.
Blunt. What will she get by that? He seems under age, and cannot be supposed to have much money.
Lucy. But his master has, and that's the same thing, as she will manage it.
Blunt. I do not like this fooling with a handsome young fellow while she is endeavouring to ensnare him, she may be caught herself.
Lucy. Nay, were she like me, that would cer tainly be the consequence; for, I confess, there is something in youth and innocence that moves me mightily.
Blunt. Yes; so does the smoothness and plumpness of a partridge move a mighty desire in the hawk to be the destruction of it.
Lucy. Why, birds are their prey, and men are ours; though, as you observed, we are sometimes caught ourselves. But that, I dare say, will never be the case of our mistress.
Blunt. I wish it may prove so; for you know
we all depend upon her. Should she trifle away her time with a young fellow that there is nothing to be got by, we must all starve.
Lucy. There is no danger of that; for I am sure she has no view in this affair but interest. Blunt. Well, and what hopes are there of success in that?
wise, it is your inconstancy must make them so. Barn. The law of Heaven will not be reversed, and that requires us to govern our passions. Mill. To give us sense of beauty and desires, and yet forbid us to taste and be happy, is a cruelty to nature. Have we passions only to
Lucy. The most promising that can be. It is Barn. To hear you talk, though in the cause true the youth has his scruples; but she will soon of vice; to gaze upon your beauty, press your teach him to answer them, by stifling his con-hand, and see your snow-white bosom heave and science. Oh, the lad is in a hopeful way, de- fall, inflame my wishes; my pulse beats high, pend upon it. [Exeunt. my senses all are in a hurry, and I am on the rack of wild desire.-Yet, for a moment's Draws, and discovers BARNWELL and MILLWOOD An entertainment of music and singing. After which they come forward. Barn. What can I answer? All that I know is, that you are fair, and I am miserable. Mill. We are both so, and yet the fault is in ourselves.
Barn. To ease our present anguish by plunging into guilt, is to buy a moment's pleasure with an age of pain.
Mill. I should have thought the joys of love as lasting as they are great; if ours prove other
guilty pleasure, shall I lose my innocence, my
Barn. I would not-yet must on-
Mill. Along with me, and prove
SCENE I-A Room in THOROWGOOD's House.
Barn. How strange are all things round me! Like some thief who treads forbidden ground, and fain would lurk unseen, fearful I enter each apartment of this well-known house. To guilty love, as if that were too little, already have I added breach of trust- A thief!-Can I know myself that wretched thing, and look my honest friend and injured master in the face? Though hypocrisy may a while conceal my guilt, at length it will be known, and public shame and ruin must ensue. In the mean tiine, what must be my life? Ever to speak a language foreign to my heart; hourly to add to the number of my crimes, in order to conceal them. Sure such was the condition of the grand apostate, when first he lost his purity. Like me, disconsolate, he wandered; and, while yet in heaven, bore all his future hell about him.
cold and silent? When my heart is full of joy for your return, why do you turn away? why thus avoid me? What have I done? How am I altered since you saw me last? Or rather, what have you done? and why are you thus changed? for I am still the same.
Barn. What have I done, indeed! [Aside. True. Not speak !—nor look upon me!Barn. By my face he will discover all I would conceal; methinks already I begin to hate him. [Aside.
True. I cannot bear this usage from a friend; one whom till now I ever found so loving;whom yet I love; though this unkindness strikes at the root of friendship, and might destroy it in any breast but mine.
Barn. I am not well. [Turning to him.]— Sleep has been a stranger to these eyes since you beheld them last.
True. Heavy they look indeed, and swoln with tears; now they overflow. Rightly did my sympathizing heart forebode last night, when thou wast absent, something fatal to our peace.
Barn. Your friendship engages you too far.My troubles, whate'er they are, are mine alone: you have no interest in thein, nor ought your concern for me to give you a moment's pain.
True. You speak as if you knew of friendship nothing but the name. Before I saw your grief, I felt it. Since we parted last I have slept no more than you, but pensive in my chamber sat alone, and spent the tedious night in wishes for
your safety and return: even now, though ignorant of the cause, your sorrow wounds me to the heart.
Barn. Twill not be always thus. Friendship and all engagements cease, as circumstances and occasions vary; and, since you once may hate me, perhaps it might be better for us both that now you loved me less.
True. Sure I but dream! Without a cause would Barnwell use me thus? Ungenerous and ungrateful youth, farewell; I shall endeavour to follow your advice. [Going.] Yet stay; perhaps I am too rash, and angry when the cause demands compassion. Some unforeseen calamity may have befallen him, too great to bear.
Barn. What part am I reduced to act? It is vile and base to move his temper thus, the best of friends and men.
True. I am to blame; prithee, forgive me, Barnwell. Try to compose your ruffled mind; and let me know the cause that thus transports you from yourself; my friendly counsel may restore your peace.
Barn. All that is possible for man to do for man, your generous friendship may effect; but
here even that is in vain.
True. Something dreadful is labouring in your breast; oh, give it vent, and let me share your grief! it will ease your pain, should it admit no cure, and make it lighter by the part I bear.
Barn. Vain supposition! my woes increase by being observed; should the cause be known, they would exceed all bounds.
True. So well I know thy honest heart, guilt cannot harbour there.
Barn. Oh, torture insupportable! [Aside. True. Then why am I excluded? Have I a thought I would conceal from you?
Barn. If still you urge me on this hated subject, I will never enter more beneath this roof, nor see your face again.
True. It is strange-but I have done; say but you hate me not.
Barn. Hate you! I am not that monster yet. True. Shall our friendship still continue? Barn. It is a blessing I never was worthy of, yet now must stand on terms; and but upon conditions can confirm it.
True. What are they?
Barn. Never hereafter, though you should wonder at my conduct, desire to know more than I am willing to reveal.
True. It is hard; but upon any conditions I must be your friend.
Barn. Then, as much as one lost to himself can be another's, I am yours. [Embracing. True. Be ever so, and may Heaven restore your peace!
Barn. Will yesterday return? We have heard the glorious sun, that till then incessant rolled, once stopped his rapid course, and once went back. The dead have risen, and parched rocks
poured forth a liquid stream to quench a people's thirst. The sea divided, and formed walls of water, while a whole nation passed in safety through its sandy bosom. Hungry lions have refused their prey; and men unhurt have walked amidst consuming flames; but never yet did time, once past, return.
True. Though the continued chain of time has never once been broke, nor ever will, but uninterrupted must keep on its course, till, lost in eternity, it ends where it first began; yet as Heaven can repair whatever evils time can bring upon us, we ought never to despair. But business requires our attendance; business, the youth's best preservative from ill, as idleness his worst of snares. Will you go with me?
Barn. I'll take a little time to reflect on what has past, and follow you. [Erit Trueman.] I might have trusted Trueman, and engaged him to apply to my uncle to repair the wrong I have done my master; but what of Millwood? Must I expose her too? Ungenerous and base! Then Heaven requires it not. But Heaven requires that I forsake her. What! never to see her more? Does Heaven require that? I hope I may see her, and Heaven not be offended. Presumptuous hope! Dearly already have I proved my frailty. Should I once more tempt Heaven, I may be left to fall, never to rise again. Yet, shall I leave her, for ever leave her, and not let her know the cause? She who loves me with such a boundless passion! Can cruelty be duty? I judge of what she then must feel, by what I now endure. The love of life, and fear of shame, opposed by inclination strong as death or shame, like wind and tide in raging conflict meeting, when neither can prevail, keep me in doubt. How then can I determine?
Thor. Without a cause assigned, or notice given, to absent yourself last night was a fault, young man, and I came to chide you for it; but hope I am prevented. That modest blush, the confusion so visible in your face, speak grief and shame. When we have offended Heaven, it requires no more; and shall man, who needs himself to be forgiven, be harder to appease? If my pardon or love be of moment to your peace, look up, secure of both.
Barn. This goodness has overcome me. [Aside.] Oh, sir, you know not the nature and extent of my offence; and I should abuse your mistaken bounty to receive it. Though I had rather die than speak my shame; though racks could not have forced the guilty secret from my breast, your kindness has."
Thor. Enough, enough, whatever it be; this concern shews you are convinced, and I am satisfied. How painful is the sense of guilt to an ingenuous mind? Some youthful folly, which it were prudent not to inquire into. When we
consider the frail condition of humanity, it may
Thor. I never will. Yet be upon your guard in this gay thoughtless season of your life; when the sense of pleasure is quick, and passions high, the voluptuous appetites, raging and fierce, demand the strongest curb; take heed of a relapse: when vice becomes habitual, the very power of leaving it is lost.
Barn. Hear me, on my knees, confessThor. Not a syllable more upon this subject; it were not mercy, but cruelty, to hear what must give such torment to reveal.
Barn. This generosity amazes and distracts me Thor. This remorse makes thee dearer to me than if thou hadst never offended. Whatever is your fault, of this I am certain, 'twas harder for you to offend, than for me to pardon.
Exit Thorowgood. Barn. Villain, villain, villain! basely to wrong so excellent a man! Should I again return to folly? Detested thought!-But what of Millwood then?-Why, I renounce her ;-I give her upThe struggle's over, and virtue has prevailed. Reason may convince, but gratitude compels. This unlooked-for generosity has saved me from destruction. [Going.
Enter a Footman.
Foot. Sir, two ladies from your uncle in the country desire to see you.
Barn. Who should they be? [Aside.] Tell them I'll wait upon them, Methinks I dread to see them. Now every thing alarms me.- -Guilt, what a coward hast thou made me! [Exit.
SCENE II.-Another room in Thorowgood's
Enter MILLWOOD, LUCY, and a Footman. Foot. Ladies, he will wait upon you immediately.
Mill. Tis very well.- -I thank
Barn. Confusion! Millwood!
Mill. Unkind and cruel! Lost myself, your happiness is now my only care.
Burn. How did you gain admission?
Mill. Saying we were desired by your uncle to visit, and deliver a message to you, we were received by the family without suspicion, and with much respect conducted here.
Barn. Why did you come at all?
Mill. I never shall trouble you more. come to take my leave for ever. Such is the malice of my fate: I go hopeless, despairing ever to return. This hour is all I have left: one short hour is all I have to bestow on love and you, for whom I thought the longest life too short.
Barn. Then we are met to part for ever? Mill. It must be so. Yet think not that time or absence shall ever put a period to my grief, or make me love you less. Though I must leave you, yet condemn me not.
Barn. Condemn you! No, I approve your resolution, and rejoice to hear it; it is just-it is necessary- -I have well weighed, and found it
Lucy. I am afraid the young man has more sense than she thought he had. Aside Burn. Before you came, I had determined never to see you more.
Mill. Confusion! Lucy. Ay, we are all out; this is a turn so unexpected, that I shall make nothing of my part; they must e'en play the scene betwixt themselves. [Aside.
Mill. It was some relief to think, though absent, you would love me still; but to find, though fortune had been indulgent, that you, more cruel and inconstant, had resolved to cast ine offThis, as I never could expect, I have not learned to bear.
Barn. I am sorry to hear you blame me in a resolution that so well becomes us both.
Mill. I have reason for what I do, but you have none.
Barn. Can we want a reason for parting, who have so many to wish we never had inet?
Mill. Look on me, Barnwell. Am I deformed or old, that satiety so soon succeeds enjoyment? Nay, look again; am I not she whom yesterday you thought the fairest and the kindest of her sex; whose hand, trembling with extasy, you pressed and moulded thus, while on my eyes you gazed with such delight, as if desire increased by being fed?
Barn. No more; let me repent my former fol[Erit Foot. lies, if possible, without remembering what they
Mill. That angry look tells me that here I am an unwelcome guest. I feared as much; the unhappy are so every where.
Barn. Will nothing but my utter ruin content
Barn. No-no- -I never said I did
O1, my heart!
Mill. Perhaps you pity me?
Barn. I do I do—Indeed I do.
Barn. Doubt it not, while I can think at all. Mill. You may judge an embrace at parting too great a favour-though it would be the last. [He draws back.] A look shall then sufficeFarewell-for ever. [Exeunt Millwood and Lucy. Barn. If to resolve to suffer be to conquer, I have conquered-Painful victory!
Re-enter MILLWOOD and LUCY.
Mill. One thing I had forgot;I never must return to my own house again. This I thought proper to let you know, lest your mind should change, and you should seek in vain to find me there. Forgive me this second intrusion; I only came to give you this caution, and that, perhaps, was needless.
Burn. I hope it was; yet it is kind, and I must thank you for it.
Mill. My friend, your arm. [To Lucy.] Now, I am gone for ever. [Going. Barn. One thing more-Sure there is no danger in my knowing where you go? If you think otherwise
[Weeping. Lucy. We are right, I find; that's my cue. [Aside.] Ah, dear sir! she is going she knows not whither; but go she must.
Barn. Humanity obliges me to wish you well: why will you thus expose yourself to needless troubles?
Lucy. Nay, there is no help for it: she must quit the town immediately, and the kingdom as soon as possible. It was no small matter, you may be sure, that could make her resolve to leave you. Mill. No more, my friend; since he, for whose dear sake alone I suffer, and am content to suffer, is kind and pities me; wherever I wander, through wilds and deserts benighted and forlorn, that thought shall give me comfort.
Barn. For my sake!-Oh, tell me how, which way am I so cursed to bring such ruin on thee? Mill. No matter; I am contented with my lot. Barn. Leave me not in this uncertainty. Mill. I have said too much.
Barn. How, how am I the cause of your undoing?
was young, left her and her fortune (no inconsiderable one, I assure you) to the care of a gentleman who has a good estate of his own.
Mill. Ay, ay, the barbarous man is rich enough; but what are riches when compared to love?
Lucy. For a while he performed the office of a faithful guardian, settled her in a house, hired her servants.But you have seen in what manner she lived, so I need say no more of that.
Mill. How I shall live hereafter, Heaven knows!
Lucy. All things went on as one could wish; till some ago, his wife dying, he fell violently in love with his charge, and would fain have married her. Now the man is neither old nor ugly, but a good personable sort of a man, but I do not know how it was, she could never endure him. In short, her ill usage so provoked him, that he brought in an account of his executorship, wherein he makes her debtor to him.—
Mill. A trifle in itself, but more than enough to ruin me, whom, by this unjust account, he had stripped of all before.
Lucy. Now, she having neither money nor friend, except me, who am as unfortunate as herself, he compelled her to pass his account, and give bond for the sum he demanded; but still provided handsomely for her, and continued his courtship, till, being informed by his spies (truly I suspect some in her own family), that you were entertained at her house, and staid with her all night, he came this morning raving and storming like a madman, talks no more of marriage (so there is no hope of making up matters that way), but vows her ruin, unless she shall allow him the same favour that he supposes she granted you.
Barn. Must she be ruined, or find her refuge in another's arms?
Mill. He gave me but an hour to resolve in; that is happily spent with you—And now I go—
Barn. To be exposed to all the rigours of the various seasons; the summer's parching heat, and winter's cold; unhoused, to wander, friendless, through the inhospitable world, in misery and want; attended with fear and danger, and pursued by malice and revenge. Wouldst thou endure all this for me, and can I do nothing, nothing, to prevent it?
Lucy. It is really a pity there can be no way found out.
Burn. Oh, where are all my resolutions now? Like early vapours, or the morning dew, chased by the sun's warm beams, they are vanished and lost, as though they had never been.
Lucy. Now I advised her, sir, to comply with the gentleman: that would not only put an end to her troubles, but make her fortune at once.
Barn. Tormenting fiend, away! I had rather perish, nay, see her perish, than have her saved by him. I will, myself, prevent her ruin, though with my own. A moment's patience; I'll return immediately. [Exit Barnwell.