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But I hope you'll never find me presuming to offer more than the most delicate friendship may readily allow.
Miss R. And I shall be prouder of such a tribute from you, than the most passionate professions from others.
Mr. H. My own sentiments, madam: friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.
Miss R. And without a compliment, I know none more disinterested, or more capable of friendship, than Mr. Honeywood.
Mrs. C. And, indeed, I know nobody that has more friends, at least among the ladies. Miss Fruzz, Miss Odbody, and Miss Winterbottom, praise him in all companies. As for Miss Biddy Bundle, she's his professed admirer.
Miss R. Indeed! an admirer! I did not know, sir, you were such a favourite there. But is she seriously so handsome ?
Mr. H. The town, madam, seldom begins to praise a lady's beauty, till she's beginning to lose it. [Smiling.
Mrs. C. But she's resolved never to lose it, it seems. For as her natural face decays, her skill improves in making the artificial one. Well, nothing diverts me more than one of those fine old dressy things, who thinks to conceal her age, by every where exposing her person ;--sticking herself up in the front of a side box-trailing through a minuet at Almack's--and then, in the public gardens-looking for all the world like one of the painted ruins of the place.
Mr. H. Every age has its admirers, ladies. While you, perhaps, are trading among the warmer climates of youth, there ought to be some to carry on an useful commerce in the frozen latitudes beyond fifty.
Miss R. But then the mortifications they must suffer, before they can be fitted out for traffic. I have seen one of them fret a whole morning at her hairdresser, when all the fault was her face.
Mr. H. And yet I'll engage has carried that face at last to a very good market. This goodnatured town, madam, has husbands, like spectacles, to fit every age, from fifteen to fourscore.
Mrs. C. Well, you're a dear, goodnatured creature. But you know you're engaged with us this morning upon a strolling party. I want to show Olivia the town, and the things ;-I believe I shall have business for you for the whole day.
Mr. H. I am sorry, madam, I have an appointment with Mr. Croaker, which it is impossible to put off.
Mrs. C. What! with my husband! Then I'm resolved to take no refusal. - Nay, I protest you must, - You know I never laugh so much as with you.
Mr. H. Why, if I must, 1 must. have put me into such spirits !-Well, do you find jest, and I'll find laugh, I promise you.-We'll wait for the chariot in the next room.
I'll swear you
Enter LEONTINE and OLIVIA.
Leon. There they go, thoughtless and happy: my dearest Olivia, what would I give to see you capable of sharing in their amusements, and as cheerful as they are!
Olivia. How, my Leontine-how can I be cheerful, when I have so many terrors to oppress me? The fear of being detected by this family, and the apprehensions of a censuring world, when I must be detected
Leon. The world! my love, what can it say? At worst it can only say that, being compelled by a mercenary guardian to embrace a life you disliked, you formed a resolution of flying with the man of your choice; that you confided in his honour, and took refuge in his father's house; the only one where yours could remain without censure.
Olivia. But, consider, Leontine, your disobedience and my indiscretion : your being sent to France, to
bring home a sister; and, instead of a sister bringing home
Leon. One dearer than a thousand sisters. One that I am convinced will be equally dear to the rest of the family, when she comes to be known.
Olivia. And that, I fear, will shortly be.
Leon. Impossible, tilt we ourselves think proper to make the discovery. My sister, you know, has been with her aunt, at Lyons, since she was a child, and you find every creature in the family takes you for her:
Olivia. But mayn't she write, mayn't her aunt write?
Leon. Her aunt scarce ever writes, and all my sister's letters are directed to me.
Olivia. But won't your refusing Miss Richland, for whom you know the old gentleman intends you, create a suspicion?
Leon. There, there's my master stroke. I have resolved not to refuse her; nay, an hour hence, I have consented to go with my father to make her an offer of my heart and fortune.
Olivia. Your heart and fortune !
Leon. Don't be alarmed, my dearest. Can Olivia think so meanly of my honour, or my love, as to suppose I could ever hope for happiness from any but her? No, my Olivia, neither the force, nor, permit me to add, the delicacy of my passion, leave any room to suspect me. I only offer Miss Richland a heart I am convinced she will refuse; as I am confident that, without knowing it, her affections are fixed upon Mr. Honeywood.
Olivia. Well, I submit. And yet, my Leontine, I own I shall
envy her even your pretended addresses. I consider every look, every expression of your esteem, as due only to me. This is folly, perhaps :-I allow it; but it is natural to suppose that merit, which has
made an impression on one's own heart, may powerful over that of another.
Leon. Don't, my life's treasure, don't let us make imaginary evils, when you know we have so many real ones to encounter. At worst, you know, if Miss Richland should consent, or my father refuse his pardon, it can but end in a trip to Scotland; and
Enter CROAKER. Croak. Where have you been, boy? I have been seeking you. My friend Honeywood here has been saying such comfortable things. Ah ! he's an example indeed! Where is he? I left him here.
Leon. Sir, I believe you may see hin, and hear him too in the next room : he's preparing to go out with the ladies.
Croak. Good gracious! can I believe my eyes, or my ears? I'm struck dumb with his vivacity, and stunned with the loudness of his laugh. Was there ever such a transformation! [A Laugh behind the Scenes, CROAKER mimics it.] Ha! ha! ha! there it goes : a plague take their balderdash; yet I could expect nothing less, when my precious wife was of the party. On my conscience, I believe she could spread a horse-laugh through the pews of a tabernacle.
Leon. Since you find so many objections to a wife, , sir, how can you be so earnest in recommending one to me?
Croak. I have told you, and tell you again, boy, that Miss Richland's fortune must not go out of the family ; one may find comfort in the
whatever one does in the wife. Leon. But, sir, though in obedience to
desire I am ready to marry her, it may be possible she has no inclination to me.
Croak. I'll tell you once for all, how it stands. A good part of Miss Richland's large fortune consists in
a claim upon government, which my good friend, Mr. Lofty, assures me the treasury will allow. One half of this she is to forfeit, by her father's will, in case she refuses to marry you. So, if she rejects you, we seize half her fortune; if she accepts you, we seize the whole, and a fine girl into the bargain.
Leon. But, sir, if you will but listen to reason-Croak. Come, then, produce your reasons.
I tell you I'm fixed, determined so now produce your rea
When I'm determined, I always listen to reason, because it can then do no harm.
Leon. You have alleged that a mutual choice was the tirst requisite in matrimonial happiness.
Crouk. Well, and you have both of you a mutual choice. She has her choice to marry you, or lose half her fortune; and
choice-to marry her, or pack out of doors without any fortune at al).
Leon. An only son, sír, might expect more indulgence.
Croak. An only father, sir, might expect more obedience; besides, has not your sister here, that never disobliged me in her life, as good a right as you? He's a sad dog, Livy, my dear, and would take all from you. But he shan't, I tell you he shan't, for you shall have
share. Olivia. Dear sir, I wish you'd be convinced that I can never be happy in any addition to my fortune which is taken from his.
Croak. Well, well, 'tis a good child, so say no more; but come with me, and we shall see something that will give us a great deal of pleasure, I promise you; old Ruggins, the curry-comb maker, lying in state ; I'm told he makes a very handsome corpse, and becomes his coffin prodigiously. He was an intimate friend of mine, and these are friendly things we ought to do for each other.