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Sir John. I'll tell you. You must know, Lovewell, that notwithstanding all appearances - [Seeing LORD OGLEBY, &c.] We are interrupted— When they are gone, I'll explain. Enter LORD OGLEBY, Sterling, MRS. HEIDELBERG, Miss
STERLING, and Fanny. Lord O. Great improvements, indeed, Mr. Sterling ! wonderful improvements! The four seasons in lead, the flying Mercury, and the bason with Neptune in the middle, are in the very extreme of fine taste. You have as many rich figures as the man at Hyde-Park Corner.
Sterl. The chief pleasure of a country-house is to make improvements, you know, my lord. I spare no expense, not I. This is quite another-guess sort of a place than it was when I first took it, my lord. We were surrounded with trees. I cut down above fifty to make the lawn before the house, and let in the wind and the sun-smack smooth-as you see. Then I made a green-house out of the old laundry, and turned the brew-house into a pinery.—The high octagon summer-house, you see yonder, is raised on the mast of a ship, given me by an East India captain, who has turned many a thousand of my money. It commands the whole road. All the coaches, and chariots, and chaises, pass and repass under your eye. I'll mount you up there in the afternoon, my lord.
Lord 0. No, I thank you, Mr. Sterling.
Sterl. 'Tis the pleasantest place in the world to take a pipe and a bottle, and so you shall say, my lord.
Lord O. Ay, or a bowl of punch, or a can of flip, Mr. Sterling! for it looks like a cabin in the air.If flying chairs were in use, the captain might make a voyage to the Indies in it still, if he had but a fair wind.
Cun. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Mrs. Heidel. My brother's a little comical in his ideas, my lord !-But you'll excuse him.--I have a little Gothic dairy, fitted up entirely in my own taste.--In the evening, I shall hope for the honour of your lordship’s company to take a dish of tea there, or a sullabub warm from the cow.
Lord 0. I have every moment a fresh opportunity of admiring the elegance of Mrs. Heidelberg—the very flower of delicacy, and cream of politeness. Mrs. Heidel. O, my lord !
[Leering at LORD OGLEBY. Lord 0. 0, madam!
[Leering at Mrs. HEIDELBERG. Sterl. How d’ye like these close walks, my lord ?
Lord O. A most excellent serpentine! It forms a perfect maze, and winds like a true lover's knot.
Sterl. Ay, here's none of your straight lines here but all taste-zig-zag-crinkum-crankum-in and out -right and left-to and again-twisting and turning like a worm, my lord!
Lord 0. Admirably laid out indeed, Mr. Sterling ! one can hardly see an inch beyond one's nose any where in these walks.—You are a most excellent economist of your land, and make a little go a great way. - It lies together in as small parcels as if it was placed in pots out at your window in Gracechurch-street.
Cun. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Can. Ah! que cette similitude est drole! so clever what you say, mi lor!
Lord 0. [To Fanny.) You seem mightily engaged, madam. What are those pretty hands so busily employed about?
Fanny. Only inaking up a nosegay, my lord !- Will your lordship do me the honour of accepting it?
Lord 0. I'll wear it next my heart, madam !-I see the young creature dotes on me!
[Apart. Miss Sterl. Lord, sister! you've loaded his lordship with a bunch of flowers as big as the cook or the nurse carry to town, on a Monday morning, for a heaupot.Will your lordship give me leave to present you with this rose, and a sprig of sweetbriar?
Lord 0. The truest emblems of yourself, madam! all sweetness and poignancy.-A little jealous, poor soul!
(Apart. Sterl. Now, my lord, if you please, I'll carry you to see my ruins.
Mrs. Heidel. You'll absolutely fatigue his lordship with over-walking, brother!
Lord 0. Not at all, madam! We're in the garden of Eden, you know; in the region of perpetual spring, youth, and beauty.
[Leering at the women. Mrs. Heidel. Quite the man of qualaty, I vow and pertest.
[ Apart. Can. Take a my arm, mi lor!
. (LORD OGleby leans on hin. Sterl. I'll only show his lordship my ruins, and the cascade, and the Chinese bridge, and then we'll go in to breakfast.
Lord O. Ruins, did you say, Mr. Sterling?
Sterl. Ay, ruins, my lord! and they are reckoned very fine ones, too. You would think them ready to tumble on your head. It has just cost me a hundred and fifty pounds to put my ruins in thorough repair. This way, if your lordship pleases.
Lord 0. [Going, stops.) What steeple’s that we see yonder!--the parish church, I suppose. · Sterl. Ha, ha, ha! that's admirable. It is no church at all, my lord ! it is a spire that I have built against a tree, a field or two off, to terminate the prospect. One must always have a church, or an obelisk, or something to terminate the prospect, you know. That's a rule in taste, my lord !
Lord O. Very ingenious, indeed! For my part, I desire no finer prospect than this I see before me. [Leering at the women.] Simple, yet varied; bounded, yet extensive.- Get away, Canton! [Pushing away Canton.] I want no assistance-I'll walk with the ladies.
Sterl. This way, my lord !
Lord O. Lead on, sir!-We young folks here, will follow you.- Madam!-Miss Sterling !-Miss Fanny! I attend you.
[Exit, after STERLING, gallanting the ladies. Can. [Following.] He is cock o'de game, ma foy!
[Exit. Sir John. Harkye, Lovewell, you must not go—at length, thank heaven! I have an opportunity to unbosom. -I know you are faithful, Lovewell, and flatter myself you would rejoice to serve me.
Love. Be assured you may depend upon me.
Sir John. You must know, then, notwithstanding all appearances, that this treaty of marriage between Miss Sterling and me will come to nothing.
Sir John. I don't like her. · Love. Very plain, indeed! I never supposed that you were extremely devoted to her from inclination, but thought you always considered it as a matter of convenience, rather than affection.
Sir John. Very true. I came into the family without
any impressions on my mind-with an unimpassioned indifference, ready to receive one woman as soon as another. I looked upon love, serious, sober love, as a chimera, and marriage as a thing of course, as you know most people do. But I, who was lately so great an infidel in love, am now one of its sincerest votaries.
- In short, my defection from Miss Sterling proceeds from the violence of my attachment to another.
Love. Another! So, so ! here will be fine work. And pray, who is she?
Sir John. Who is she! who can she be, but Fannythe tender, amiable, engaging Fanny ? · Love. Fanny! What Fanny?
Sir John. Fanny Sterling. Her sister-Is not she an angel, Lovewell?
Love. Her sister? Confusion !-- You must not think of it, Sir John.
Sir John. Not think of it? I can think of nothing else. Nay, tell me, Lovewell! was it possible for me to be indulged in a perpetual intercourse with two such objects as Fanny and her sister, and not find my heart led by insensible attraction towards her?-You seem confounded—Why don't you answer me?
Love. Indeed, Sir John, this event gives me infinite concern. Why did not you break this affair to the family before?
Sir John. Under such embarrassed circumstances as I have been, can you wonder at my irresolution or perplexity? Nothing but despair, the fear of losing my dear Fanny, could bring me to a declaration even now; and yet, I think I know Mr. Sterling so well that, strange as my proposal may appear, if I can make it advantageous to him as a money transaction, as I am sure I can, he will certainly come into it.
Love. But even suppose he should, which I very much doubt, I don't think Fanny herself would listen to your addresses.