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You were observing, Sir, that in this age of hypocrisy, something about hypocrisy, Sir.
Mar. Yes, Madam. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who upon strict enquiry do not-a-2-a.
Miss Hard. I understand you perfectly, Sir.
Miss Hard. You mean that in this hypocritical age
practise in private, and think they pay every debt to virtue when they praise it.
Mar. True, Madam ; those who have most virtue
I'm sure I tire you, Madam.
Miss Hard. Not in the least, Sir; there's something so agreeable and spirited in your manner, such life and force-Pray, Sir, go on.
Mar. Yes, Madam. I was saying that there are some occasions when a total want of courage, Madam, destroys all the and puts usupon aaa
Miss Hard. I agree with you entirely; a want of courage upon some occasions assumes the appearance of ignorance, and betrays us when we most want to excel. I beg you'll proceed.
Mar. Yes, Madam. Morally speaking, Madam—
I would not intrude for the world.
Miss Hard. I protest, Sir, I never was more agreeably entertained in all my life. Pray go on.
Mar. Yes, Madam. I was— But she beckons us to join her. Madam, shall I do myself the honour to attend you. Miss Hard. Well then, I'll follow.
Mar. [ Aside] This pretty smooth dialogue has done for me.
[Exit. Miss Hard: Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such a sober sentimental interview? I'm certain he scarce look'd in my face the whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his unaccountable bashfulness, is pretty well too. He has good sense, but then so buried in his fears, that it fatigues one more than ignorance. If I could teach him a little confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a piece of service. But who is that somebody ?mthat, faith, is a question I can scarce answer.
[Exit. Enter TONY and Miss Neville, followed by Mrs. HARD
CASTLE and HASTINGS. 1 Tony. What do you follow me for, cousin Con? I wonder you're not asham'd to be so very engaging.
Miss Neu. I hope, cousin, one may speak to one's own relations, and not be to blame.
Tony. Ay, but I know what sort of a relation you want to make me though; but it won't do. I tell you, cousin Con, it won't do, so I beg you'll keep your distance, I want no nearer relationship.
[She follows coqueting him to the back scene. Mrs. Hard. Well! I vow, Mr. Hastings, you are very entertaining. There's nothing in the world I love to talk of so much as London, and the fashions, though I was never there myself.
Hast. Never there ! You amaze me! From your air and manner, I conclude you had been bred all your life either at Ranelagh, St. James's, or Tower Wharf.
Mrs. Hard. O! Sir, you're only pleased to say so. We country persons can have no manner at all. I'm in love with the town, and that serves to raise me above some of our neighbouring rustics; but who can have a manner that has never seen the Pantheon, the Grotto Gardens, the Borough, and such places where the Nobility chiefly resort? All I can do, is to enjoy Loudon at second-hand. I take care to know every tete-a-tete from the Scandalous Magazine, and have all the fashions, as they come out, in a letter from the two Miss Rickets of Crooked-lane. Pray how do you like this head, Mr. Hastings ?
Hast. Extremely elegant and degagée, upon my word, Madam. Your friseur is a Frenchman, I suppose ?
Mrs. Hard. I protest i dressed it myself from a print in the Ladies memorandum book for the last year.
Hast. Indeed. Such a head in a side-box, at the play-house, would draw as many gazers as my Lady May-ress at a city ball.
Mrs. Hard. I vow, since inoculation began, there is no such thing to be seen as a plain woman; so one
must dress a little particular or one may escape in the crowd.
Hast. But that can never be your case, Madam, in any dress. [Bowing. ]
Mrs. Hard. Yet, what signifies my dressing when I have such a piece of antiquity by my side as Mr. Hardcastle? all I can say will not argue down a single button from his clothes. I have often wanted him to throw off his great faxen wig, and where he was bald, to plaster it over, like my Lord Pately, with powder.
Hast. You are right, Madam; for, as among the ladies, there are none ugly, so among the men, there are none old.
Mrs. Hard. But what do you think his answer was? Why, with his usual Gothic vivacity, he said I only wanted him to throw off his wig to convert it into a tete for my own wearing.
Hast. Intolerable! At your age you may wear what you please, and it must become you.
Mrs. Hard. Pray, Mr. Hastings, what do you take to be the most fashionable age about town?
Hast. Some time ago, forty was all the mode ; but I'm told the ladies intend to bring up fifty for the en
suing winter. · Mrs. Hard. Seriously. Then I shall be too young for the fashion.
Hast. No lady begins now to put on jewels till she's past forty. For instance, Miss there, in a polite cir
cle, would be considered as a child, a mere maker of samplers.
Mrs. Hard. And yet Mrs. Niece thinks herself as much a woman, and is as fond of jewels as the oldest of us all.
. Hast. Your niece, is she? And that young gentle. man, a brother of yours, I should presume ?
Mrs. Hard. My son, Sir. They are contracted to each other. Observe their little sports. They fall in and out ten times a day, as if they were man and wife already. [To them] Well Tony, child, what soft things are you saying to your cousin Constance this evening?
Tony. I have been saying no soft things ; but that it's very hard to be followed about so. Ecod! I've not a place in the house now that's left to myself but the stable.
Mrs. Hard. Never mind him, Con. my dear. He's in another story behind your back.
Miss Nev. There's something generous in my cousin's manner. He falls out before faces to be forgiyen in private.
Tony. That's a damned confounded- crack. Mrs. Hard. Ah! he's a sly one. Don't you think they're like each other about the mouth, Mr. Hastings? The Blenkinsop mouth to a T. They're of a size too. Back to back, my pretties, that Mr. Hast. ings may see you. Come, Tony. Tony. You had as good not make me, I tell you.