« EelmineJätka »
de forfeited, and that as well as the condescend to live. Men exert their whole faculties Fest will then be mine: to torture one another: animals are the prey of aniGrime. If he had but signed and sealedmals: flowers bloom to be plucked and perish: the Item. Which he shall do this very day. very grass grows to be torn and eaten; trees to be
Grime. Still, why are you the enemy of Joanna ? mangled, sawed, rooted up, and burned. The whole What have you to fear from her?
Item. Much! An action of recovery.
Grime. How so? She has no title: she is illegiti
Item. Would she were! No, no; a lawful daughter, born in wedlock: her mother, poor but virtuous, and died in childbed. Fearful it should injure his second marriage with Lady Anne, he never produced the infant; but told his man, Donald, it was a natural daughter, and by his intermission, secretly main
tained and had her educated.
Grime. Why not employ the same agent still? Item. Because this Donald has got the fool's disease-pity; and threatens to make Mordeat own his daughter, or impeach.
Grime. And was it prudent to place her beyond Donald's knowledge ?
Item. It was.
Grime. Ah! 'tis a strange world! Well, now, Mr. Item, give me leave to say a word or two on my own
is a system of exquisite misery, and I have my full proportion. Oh! this girl! Why am I thus perturbed concerning her? She can but be wretched; and wretchedness is the certain fate of all!
Well, my good Mr. Item, this poor Joanna! What have you done? Can you secure her happiness? Psha! fool! Can you lighten her misery? I can think of nothing but her; though distraction is in every thought.
Item. "Tis a serious affair: you ought to do nothing lightly.
Mor. Turned adrift! rejected of all! no relation, no friend! never acknowledged, never!
Item. My advice, you know, sir, was, at once boldly to produce her as your daughter. No matter for the impertinent clamours and questions of who her mother was, and what became of her? why the child was never owned? where she had been concealed, and for what purposes?
Mor. Ay, ay, ay! The malignant sneers of friends, the cutting calumny of enemies, the reproaches of Lady Anne, the insults of her pompous family! Item. For my part, I obey your commands, but I cannot approve them.
Mor. My late ward, Mr. Cheveril, should he hear of it, what would he think? Then this Berkshire mortgage!
Item. Ay, there again! Totally opposite to my advice. Mor. Can you shew me any other possible way d paying my debts?
Item. The danger of signing it is extreme.
Mor. 'Tis ruin!
whole one mass of wretchedness ?
Item. Then the out-standing bills-tradesmen are
Item. Evading.] Yonder is my nephew. [Calls.] very insolent.
Mor. Ay, ay! They, like the rest, have their appointed office to torture.
Item. Well, remember I have given you fair warning.
Mor. Certainly you do your part, and with the best intentions; goad and sting, and add your quantum to the sum of suffering. The consistency of evil is amazing good and bad all concur. Is the deed ready?
Item. I must first read it through.
Item. But that will not take ten minutes.
Mor. I will be back presently. The gulph is be fore me; plunge I must, and to plunge blindfold will be to cheat the devil of some part of the pain. Item. Nay, if you will not be warned, it is not my
Item. I would not have you seen just now. My dear Grime! my kind friend! Through this door!-fault. Some other opportunity-Pray oblige me.
Grime. Well, well! [Aside.] The next time we meet, you shall know more of my mind.
Item. The rascal begins to grow troublesome. Take care of the steps, good Mr. Grime!
Mor. What is life? a continual cloud, pregnant with mischief, malignity, disease, and death. Happiness? an ignis-fatuus. Pleasure? a non-entity. Existence? a misfortune, a burthen. None but fools
SCENE III.-The Dressing-room of Lady Ante.
Lady ANNE and Mrs SARSNET discovered. Mrs. Ș. I told your ladyship he would refuse. Lady A. What reason did he give?
Mrs. S. Reason, forsooth! Husbands never have any reason.
Lady A. [Aside.] Unkind man! Why does he tou
wish to avoid me?
Mrs. S. He keeps his distance both day and night: but I would teach him to sleep in two beds! A pretty fashion, truly! I would tell him I was afraid of ghosts; and so I married because I could not, nor I would not, lie alone. So let him remember that. Lady A. Why were you so long in bringing the message back?
Mrs. S. Why, that is what I have to tell your ladyship. If there is not bad doings, say I am no witch. Lady A. What do you mean?
Mrs. S. Your ladyship must not be angry; but you know I can't help having a sharp eye and a quick ear of my own.
Lady A. What have you been doing now?
Mrs. S. So, I saw my master go into the steward's
Lady A. Psha! folly! What of that?
Mrs. S. So I had all my seven senses and my eyeteeth about me
Lady A. Pray, have done!
Mrs. S. So, I clapped my ear to the key-hole; and, then, I heard a-whuz, buz
Lady A. This was very improper.
Mrs. S. So, I could only catch up a word here and there; and the first was summut about-of a childLady A. A child?
Mrs. S. And a mother, my lady! Though for the matter of that, where there is a child, one's own nataral penetrality will tell one there must be a mother. Lady A. Of what weakness am I guilty?
Mrs. S. And I thought I catched the sound of Mr. Item of a fathering the child; and I'm posituve he said it wuz against his conscience.
Lady A. Who said so?
Mrs. S. Mr. Item, my lady. And so, a little bit after, my master called somebody a poor injurious girl, and a prodigality of wit and beauty. So, then, I heard somebody's foot on the stairs, and I wuz fain to scamper.
Lady A. I know not why I listen to this indecent prattle. My over-anxious curiosity betrays me, and you are much too forward to profit by my weakness. Mrs. S. Because you know, my lady, I love you in my heart; and it is all for your own good.
Lady A. A child! an injured child! Yet why do I feel agitation? His infidelities have been too open for me to be ignorant of them. And who has been to blame; he or I? Oh! doubtful and difficult question! Mrs. S. But I'll come at the truth, I warrant me, in all its particlers.
fatal loss be real, how is it to be avoided? Yet I will not lightly yield let me hope my efforts will not all be ineffectual. Would this agonizing contest were
[Exit. Mrs. S. She may say what she will, but I know very well she is the most miserablest lady alive, and I could tear his eyes out. Husband, indeed! And so, because I listened to the fellow's love, and nonsense-stuff, and took pity on him when he was going to hang or drown himself, he must think, as soon as he has got me safe, to be my lord and master: I'd tell him another story. My lord and master, truly! [Erit.
Well, my sweet Joanna, do you think you can love me, and follow my advice?
Joanna. Are you not my benevolent protectress? and will it not be my duty?
Mrs. E. Why, that's a precious! Ay, ay; do but as I desire you, darling, and then
Joanna. Oh! that I will. Come, set me to work. Mrs. E. Ah! I won't kill you with work. Pretty dear! those delicate arms were not made for work! Joanna. Fie! You must not tell me that. My mother is dead, and my father-But I must bear my with fortitude. Labour is no punishment. Mrs. E. Labour! Oh! the beauty! Chicken gloves, my lamb, for those white hands! A noble lookingglass, to see that sweet form! a fine chariot, to shew off your charms! These you ought to have, and a thousand other fine things; ay, and if you will take my advice, have them you shall.
Lady A. Suffering, perhaps, under the conscious-fate ness of error, which the sight of me might increase, he flies from additional anguish. Oh! that I had the power to sooth and reconcile him to himself! Why will he not receive consolation from me?
Mrs. S. I'll rummage about!
Lady A. If I am unhappy, how must I be certain that it is not my own fault? Where there is unhappiness, neither party can be wholly blameless.
Mrs. S. He ought to love and adore such a lady; and clothe her in satin and gold.
Lady A. Shall I tyrannize over the affections that I cannot win? If I want the power to please, let me correct my own defects, and not accuse my husband of insensibility. Oh! nothing is so killing to a husband's love, as a discontented, irksome, wailing wife! let me be anything but that.
Mrs. S. He is a barbarian Turk; and so I as good as told him. If any fellow was to use me so, I know what I would do.
Lady A. Yet have I not lost his love? Dreadful doubt! My family advise a separation; and, if this
Joanna. Fine things! chariots! No, no, not for ine. To work, to work! But I'll willingly take your advice; for you are so kind, it cannot be ill.
Mrs. E. Ill! Heaven protect me! I advise a dear, sweet, handsome creature to ill!
Joanna. Handsome! Fie! an orphan! fatherless! Mrs. E. Ay, very true. Ill! No, no; think me your parent.
Joanna. Dear lady!
Mrs. E. Ah! my tender lamb! Think of joy; think of pleasure.
Joanna. Be not so kind. You should not soften, but steel my heart: teach it to have neither fear nor feeling of wrong; to laugh when others weep. Mrs. E. Do not think of it.
Joanna. I must be wrong, because you are good: but you have not a good countenance. That's strange; I never saw such a thing before. And the more I look, the less I like.
Mrs. E. Ande.] Does she suspect me? Joanna. If ever I draw your face, I'll alter some of the lines. I'll make them such as I think virtue ought to have made them; open, honest, undaunted. You have such a number of little artful wrinkles at the corners of your eyes-You are very cunning.
Mr. E. [Aside.] What does she mean?
Joanna. But what of that? You are kind to me; and I fear no cunning, not I. You found me friendless, have given me work, and I would die to serve you; so I'll copy that wild man's portrait.
Mrs. E. Wild!
Mrs. E. Ay, child, that I will. Everybody shall know what an angel my dear young friend is. Joanna. Consider, madam
Mrs. E. Nay, I am sure you will not refuse me this pleasure.
Joanna. You are too kind.
Mrs. E. Come, my precious! Joanna. Well, I commit myself to your trust. Friendless and fatherless, you will be my guardian. You are too generous to injure the helpless and the forlorn; and the lines in your face are false. [Exeunt. SCENE II-An Ante-chamber in Mordent's House MORDENT and CHEVERIL discovered. Chev. Grumble no more, guardy! Have done with
Chet. I'm free! I'm alive! I'm beginning to exist !———
Mor. Like a wretch at the stake, when the flames first reach him!
Chet. The whole world is before me; its pleasures are spread out, and I long to fall on. The golden apples of delight hang inviting me to pluck, eat, and— Mor. Be poisoned.
Cher. Ha, ha, ha!
Mor. As your guardian, I—
Chee. Da guardianship! I have been guarde! too long. Years out of number have I been fed with lean Latin, crabbed Greek, and an abominable olio of the four faculties: served up with the jargon of Aristotle, the quirks of Thomas Aquinas, and the quibbles and quodlibets of Doctor Duns Scotus-. Mor. Take warning
Chee. Fined for Horace; horsed for Homer; and plucked because I could not parrot over their premises and predicates, majors and minors, antecedents and consequents. My brain was a broker's shop; the little good furniture it contained all hid by lumber.
Mor. Let me tell you, young sir
Chev. Not now: your day is done. I am my own man! I breathe! I am abroad! I am on the wing to visit the regions of fruition and Paradise; to banquet with the gods, and sip ambrosia from the lips of Venus and Hebe, the loves, and the graces! Mor. You are a lunatic!
Cher. No; I am just come to my senses-for [ am just come to my estate. High health, high spirits, eight thousand a-year, and one-and-twenty.
Mor. Youth! riches! Poor idiot! Health, too! What is man but a walking hospital? You, boy! you, little as you suspect it, include within yourself a whole pharmacopoeia of malady and mischief! Chev. Zounds! he'll persuade me presently I am Pandora's box.
Mor. So you are.
Cher. Why, guardy, you are mad!
Mor. True, or I should take the shortest way to get rid of misery, and instantly go hang myself. Chev. What a picture!
Mor. Equal it in accuracy, if you can.
Cher. Why, I am but a young artist; however, I can dash my brush at the canvass as daringly as you have done. So, what think you of mirth, songs, and smiles; youth, beauty, and kisses; friendship, liberty, and love; with a large, capacious soul of benevolence, that can sooth the afflicted, succour the poor, heal the sick, instruct the ignorant, honour the wise, reform the bad, adore the good, and hug genius and virtue to the heart?
Mor. Every feature a lie!
Chev. Curse me, but I say the likeness is, at least, as good as your's: and I am sure the colouring is infinitely more delightful.-[Enter DONALD
Don. I'ze ganging aboot the business of the poor lassy, ken ye me? Gin ye want me, I'ze be back in a blink.
Mor. Go to the devil, if you will; so that you do not torment me.
Chev. Ah! friend Donald, don't you know that I'm of age? Won't you revel and roar, my boy? Why do you look so glum, old honesty?
Don. Troth, ye mistake the maitter, young gen tleman; I am an auld go-between. Cher. Ha, ha, hal
Lady A. Psha! Pray don't tease me.
Don. It's varra true; wetch makes me unco blate | I don't know.
Chev. A child deserted by the father!
Don. Much thereabout, an I dunna miss my ken. Chev. Bring the child to me; bring it to me, old rueful! I'll be its father. I never fathered a child in my life, and I long to begin.
Don. Ye seem, truly, to ha' mair human affaction than some fathers.
Mor. Begone! Leave us, blood-sucker! goblin! vampire!
Don. Yas; I'ze gang where I tow'd ye; and, gin I dunna hear o' her, ye'ze hear o' me. [Erit. Chev. Bring me the baby, Donald. Zounds! how it would delight me to father all the fatherless children in the world. Poor little dears! I should have a plentiful brood. And so, guardian, I want money. Mor. What, to purchase destruction wholesale? Chev. I have five hundred good, wicked, spirited, famous projects on hand. You have seventeen thousand pounds of mine, hard cash: I want it
Mor. Seventeen thousand plagues!
Mrs. S. So, my lady, he took it off, and ordered one of the fellows to give it a brush. So, making a pretence, I was close at his heelsLady A. At whose heels?
Mrs. S. The footman's, my lady. So, while he was brushing, he had a wranglation with the cook; and turned about to gabble footman's gibberish with she; so I, having a hawk's-eye, twirled my hand behind me, so; and felt in the pocket, and there I found this written letter, which I slyly slipped under my apron, so.
Lady A. Take a letter out of your master's pocket? Mrs. S. Yes, my lady; because, being broke open, I read the contents, and found that it was from one Mrs. Enfield, to appoint an assassination between my master and a young girl.
Lady A. Give it me.
Mrs. S. Yes, my lady; I was sure you could not but wish to see it.
Lady A. Mistress Sarsnet, I have frequently cautioned you against practices like these; which are mean and dishonest.
Mrs. S. My lady!
Lady A. I have winked at these liberties too often; I'll suffer them no longer.
Lady A. To have robbed your master of his money would have been less culpable than to steal from Mor. Your money, sir, is locked up in mortgages. him the knowledge of transactions which, because Chev. Locked up? Oh, d-e! I'll unlock it. I'll of their impropriety, he has not the courage to avow. send honest Grime to ye; he carries a master-key. Mrs. S. It's very hard, because I can't bear your Mor. Have you no regard to my convenience? lady-ladyship's ill usage; and-and-and always Chev. I'll pay the premium; and, if you want se- feel as if my very stays were a-bursting, to see your curity, you may have mine. I must have money!-your treatment, time after time, that I should get The world must hear of me; I'll be a patron, and myself ill-ill-ill-will, because I love you from a subscriber, and a collector, and an amateur, and the very bottom of my heart. a connoisseur, and a dilletante! I'll hunt, I'll race, I'll dice! I'll grub, plant, plan, and improve! I'll buy a stud, fell a forest, build a palace, and pull down a church! [Exit. Mor. Mr. Cheveril! He is flown! Why, ay, with spirits equally wild, wanton, and ignorant of evil, I began my career. I have now lived long enough to discover that universal nature is universal agony. Oh! this rejected Joanna! Miserable girl! Well, am not I miserable too? Who is not? The dangers to which she may be exposed! the cruelty of utterly abandoning her! Never shall I again be at peace with myself!
Lady A. (Without.) Where is your master?
Mor. Hark! my wife! She tortures me with her silent sufferings and her stifled sighs. Passion, bitter reproach, and violent menace, would be infinitely more supportable. In short, I have not deserved her kindness, and cannot endure it. [Exit.
Enter Lady ANNE.
Lady A. Mr. Mordent! Thus does he continually shun me. Why, then, do I haunt him? why intrude myself upon him? Must this have no end? Fond, foolish heart, these aches and pains are fruitless: sleep in forgetfulness, cease to feel, and be at peace! Mrs. S. (Without.) I tell you, I can't stay. Lady A. The stories, too, with which this kind but officious creature torments me
Enter Mrs. SARSNET, hastily.
Mrs. S. I've got it, my lady! I've got it!
Mrs. S. Why, I'll tell your ladyship. A queer, quandary kind of person brought my master a letter, which I knew was suspicious. So, my master's coat was all powder, over here: how he came by it,
Mrs. S. Very very well. Since your ladyship is so angry, you may turn-turn me away, if you please, and quite break-break-break heart.
Lady A. No; the fault is more than half my own: but, from this time, I seriously warn you against such improper, such base actions.
Mrs. S. Very very well, my lady, I'll be deaf, and dumb, and blind; and when I see you treated worser than a savage, I'll burst twenty laces a-day before I'll speak a word.
Lady A. With great kindness.] What you have done has been affectionately meant. I am sorry to have given you pain, and to have excited your tears; but I must earnestly desire you will commit no more such mistakes. They are wrong in themselves, and every way fatal to my peace.
Mrs. S. [Kisses her hand.] You are the tenderest and best of ladies! and I know who is an unfeeling brute! [Exit Lady A.
Enter LENNOX and CHEVERIL.
Len. Pray, Mrs. Sarsnet, is Mr. Mordent within? Mrs. S. Indeed, sir, I don't know. [Muttering.] Mr. Mordent is a good-for-nothing chap! [Exit. Len. I'll bet you a thousand, Cheveril, your charmer does not equal the girl I have this moment
Cher. It is now a fortnight since; and although I have walked the Green Park, morning, noon, and night, every day, I could never once again set eyes on her. Intolerable booby that I was, to lose three such precious opportunities
Len. Of making love to a lady's-maid.
Chev. What, you think I dare not?
Len. Ha, ha, ha! Look you, Cheveril; I know you a lighted match and the mouth of a cannon could not cow you like the approach of a petticoat. Cher. I afraid of women! D-me! I don't understand having my character attacked and traduced. Make a Master Jackey of me? I am a wicked one.
Len. Ha, ha, ha! Wicked! you are as conscientious as a drunken methodist, or a dying miser. You are not only afraid of the woman, but of the sin.
Chev. Why, if-no, d-me! 'tis not true. I have no more conscience than yourself.
Len. Me! I have a deal of conscience. Pleasure, I own, can tempt me; but I make no pretensions, like you, to the sin for the sake of reputation.
Chev. Sir, I make no such pretensions. I am, indeed, resolved to be a fellow of enterprise, pith, and soul; but not by vile, rascally methods. I'll love all the women, and, perhaps, trick some of the men; but not seduce wives, ruin daughters, and murder husbands and fathers. No; if I cannot be wicked without being criminal, d-me, if I do not live and die an honest, dull dog!
Enter MORDENT, searching his pockets.
Mor. A thousand to one but it has fallen into the bands of Lady Anne.
Len. What have you lost?
Enter LADY ANNE
Lady A. Indeed, I have never opened it.
Lady A. Yes; but that is not my fault.
Lady A. How shall I behave? Which way frame my words and looks, so as not to offend? Would I could discover!
Mor. You never complain! You have no jealousy!
Mor. Ha, ha, ha! As if lips were the only instruments of upbraiding! No deep-fetched sighs? no pale, melancholy glances? no obvious hiding of the ever-ready tear?
Lady A. I fear I have been to blame. Indeed, I am sorry that my sensations have been so acute. Mor. You accuse! You give a husband pain! Insolent supposition!
Lady A. I sincerely wish, my dear, you gave no more than I intend to give.
Mor. There! Did not I say so? Ha, ha, ha! You accuse!
Lady A. I am wrong; I forgot myself. Pray, forgive me. Why am I subject to these mistakes? Mor. You are all angel
Lady A. Would I were!
Lady A. Do not, Mr. Mordent, by the dear affec tion you once bore
Mor. There there! The affection I once bore! Lady A. Heavens! must I ever be fated to wound, when it is most the wish of my soul to heal?
Mor. Why was the Earl of Oldcrest here this morning? Why are these family consultations held? Lady A. They are contrary to my wish. Mor. A separation, I hear, is the subject of them. Lady A. But not countenanced by me. Mor. Pretending in pity to spare me yourself, they are to be set upon me.
Lady A. Never! Heaven be my judge, never! Mor. I am to be subjected to their imperious dictates.
Lady A. I own they have lately been very urgent with me to return to my father; but, were you only kind, their solicitations would be vain, indeed. Oh! take pity on yourself and me, and teach me to regain your lost affections! or, if that be too great a blessing to hope, there is still one evil which I would suffer any other torture to escape: think, if you can,
Lady A. Mr. Mordent, I am glad to meet with that I no longer love; treat me with unkindness;
neglect, accuse, do any thing-but hate me! Let
Mor. Ha, ha, ha! What are barbs, and stings, and poisoned arrows? Pitiful instruments! Thou, triumphant wretchedness, usest these but on small [Erit. occasions; they want pungency.