« 上一頁繼續 »
which you are bound to govern, with a temperate and restrained authority.
Bel. True, sir, most truly said ; mine's a commission, not a right; I am the offspring of distress, and every child of sorrow is my brother; while I have hands to hold, therefore, I will hold them open to mankind; but, sir, my passions are my masters; they take me where they will; and oftentimes they leave to reason and to virtue nothing but my wishes and my sighs.
Stock. Come, come, the man who can accuse, corrects himself.
Bel. Ah! that's an office I am weary of; I wish a friend would take it up; I would to heaven you had leisure for the employ; but, did you drive a trade to the four corners of the world, you would not find the task so toilsore as to keep me free from faults.
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged; this candour tells me I should not have the fault of self-conceit to combat, that, at least, is not amongst the number.
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth who thought more humbly of me than I do of myself, I would take up his opinion, and forego my own.
Stock. And was I to choose a pupil, it should be one of your complexion; so if you'll come along with me, we'll agree upon your admission, and enter on a course of lectures directly. Bel. With all my heart.
Scene II 1.—A Room in Lady Rusport's House.
Enter Lady RUSport and Miss Rusport. Lady R. Miss Rusport, I desire to hear no more of Captain Dudley and his destitute family; not a shilling of mine shall ever cross the hands of any of them ;
because my sister chose to marry a beggar, am I bound to support him and his posterity? Miss R. I think you are.
Lady R. You think I am! and pray where do you find the law that tells you so ?
Miss R. I am not proficient enough to quote chapter and verse; but I take charity to be a mean clause in the great statute of christianity.
Lady R. I say charity, indeed! I am apt to think the distresses of old Dudley, and of his daughter into the bargain, would never break your heart, if there was not a certain young fellow of two-and-twenty in the case ; who, by the happy recommendation of a good person, and the brilliant appointments of an ensigncy, will, if I am not mistaken, cozen you out of a fortune of twice twenty thousand pounds, as soon as ever you are of age to bestow it upon him.
Miss R. A nephew of your ladyship’s can never want any other recommendation with me: and, if my partiality for Charles Dudley is acquitted by the rest of the world, I hope Lady Rusport will not condemn me
Lady R. I condemn you! I thank heaven, Miss Rusport, I am no ways responsible for your conduct ; nor is it any concern of mine how you dispose of your. self: you are not my daughter ; and when I married your father, poor Sir Stephen Rusport, I found you a forward spoiled miss of fourteen, far above being instructed by me...
Miss R. Perhaps your ladyship calls this instruction.
Lady R. You are strangely pert; but 'tis no wonder: your mother, I'm told, was a fine lady: and according to the modern style of education you was brought up. It was not so in my young days; there was then some decorum in the world, some subordination, as the great Locke expresses it. Oh ! 'twas an edifying sight, to see the regular deportment observed in our family; no
giggling, no gossiping was going on there; my good father, Sir Oliver Roundhead, never was seen to laugh himself, nor ever allowed it in his children. Miss R. Ay; those were happy times, indeed.
Lady R. But, in this forward age, we have coquettes in the egg-shell, and philosophers in the cradle , girls of fifteen, that lead the fashion in new caps and new opinions, that have their sentiments and their sensations; and the idle fops encourage them in it. Oʻmy conscience, I wonder what it is the men can see in such babies.
Miss R. True, madam; but all men do not overlook the maturer beauties of your ladyship’s, age; witness your admired Major Dennis O'Flaherty; there's an example of some discernment; I declare to you, when your ladyship is by, the Major takes no more notice of me than if I was part of the furniture of your chamber.
Lady R. The Major, child, has travelled through various kingdoms and climates, and has more enlarged notions of female merit than falls to the lot of an Eng. lish homebred lover; in most other countries, no woman on your side forty would ever be named in a polite circle.
Miss R. Right, madam ; I've been told that in Vienna they have coquettes upon crutches, and Venuses in their grand climacteric; a lover there celebrates the wrinkles, not the dimples in his mistress's face. The Major, I think, has served in the imperial army. · Lady R. Are you piqued, my young madam? Had my sister, Louisa, yielded to the addresses of one of Major O'Flaherty's person and appearance, she would have had some excuse ; but to run away, as she did, at the age of sixteen too, with a man of old Dudley's sort
Miss R. Was, in my opinion, the most venial trespass that ever girl of sixteen committed; of a noble family, an engaging person, strict honour, and sound
understanding, what accomplishment was there wanting in Captain Dudley, but that which the prodigality of
R. They deprived him of?ch the prodigality
Lady R. They left him as much as he deserves; hasn't the old man captain's half-pay? and is not the son an ensign?
Miss R. An ensign! Alas, poor Charles! Would to heaven he knew what my heart feels and suffers for his sake.
Enter ServÁNT. Sero. Ensign Dudley, to wait upon your ladyship.
Lady R. Who! Dudley! What can have brought him to town?
Miss R. Dear Madam, 'tis Charles Dudley, 'tis your nephew.
Lady R. Nephew! I renounce him as my nephew; Sir Oliver renounced him as his grandson ; Didn't the poor dear good old man leave his fortune to me, except a small annuity to my maiden sister, who spoiled her constitution with nursing him? And, depend upon it, not a penny of that fortune shall ever be disposed of otherwise than according to the will of the donor.
Enter Charles Dudley. So, young man, whence came you? What brings yon to town?
Charles. If there is any offence in my coming to town, your ladyship is in some degree responsible for it, for part of my errand was to pay my duty here.
Lady R. Coxcomb! And where is your father, child; and your sister? Are they in town too?
Charles. They are.
Lady R. Ridiculous ! I don't know what people do in London, who have no money to spend in it.
Miss R. Dear madam, speak more kindly to your nephew; how can you oppress a youth of his sensibility?
Lady R. Miss Rusport, I insist upon your retiring to your apartment; when I want your advice, I'll send to you. [Exit Miss RuspoRT.] So you have put on a red coat too, as well as your father; 'tis plain what value you set upon the good advice Sir Oliver used to give you ; how often has he cautioned you against the army?
Charles. Had it pleased my grandfather to enable me to have obeyed his caution, I would have done it; but you well know how destitute I am; and 'tis not to be wondered at, if I prefer the service of my king to that of any other master.
Lady R. Well, well, take your own course ; 'tis no concern of mine: you never consulted me.
Charles. I frequently wrote to your ladyship, but could obtain no answer; and, since my grandfather's death, this is the first opportunity I have had of waiting upon you.
Lady R. I must desire you not to mention the death of that dear good man in my hearing; my spirits cannot support it.
Charles. I shall obey you: permit me to say, that, as that event has richly supplied you with the materials of bounty, the distresses of my family can furnish you with objects of it.
Lady R. The distresses of your family, child, are quite out of the question at present; had Sir Oliver been pleased to consider them, I should have been well content; but he has absolutely taken no notice of you in his will, and that to me must and shall be a law. Tell your father and your sister, I totally disapprove of their coming up to town. .
Charles. Must I tell my father that, before your ladyship knows the motive that brought. him hither? Allured by the offer of exchanging for a commission on full pay, the veteran, after thirty years service, pre