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Miss Als. I declare I shall like it exceedingly—one lees so few uncopied originals—the thing I cannot bear
LadyE. Is vulgar imitation.—I must catch the words from your mouth, to show you how we agree.
Miss Als. Exactly. Not that one wishes to be without affectation.
Lady E. Oh! mercy forbid!
Miss Als. But to catch a manner, and weave it, as I may say, into one's own originality. Mrs. Bland. Pretty! pretty!
Lady E. That's the art.—Lord, if one lived entirely upon one's own whims, who would not be run out in a twelvemonth?
Miss Als. Dear Lady Emily, don't you dote upon folly?
Lady E. To ecstacy. I only despair of seeing it well kept up. #
Miss Als. I flatter myself there is no great danger of that.
Lady E. You are mistaken. We have, 'tis true, some examples of the extravaganza in high life, that no other country can match; but withal, many a false sister, that starts, as one would think, in the very hey-day of the fantastic, yet comes to a stand-still in the midst of the course.
Mrs. Bland. Poor, spiritless creatures!
Lady E. Do you know there is more than one duchess who has been seen in the same carriage with her husband—like two doves in a basket, in the print of Conjugal Felicity; and another has been detected—I almost blush to name it
Mrs. Bland. Bless us! where? and how? and how?
Latly E. In nursing her own child!
Miss Als. Oh, barbarism!—For heaven's sake let us change the subject. You were mentioning a revived cap, Lady Emily; any thing of the Henry Quatre?
Lady E. Quite different. An English mob under the chin, and artless ringlets, in natural colour, that shall restore an admiration for Prior's Nut-brown Maid.
Miss Als. Horrid! shocking!
Lady E. Absolutely necessary. To be different from the rest of the world, we must now revert to nature: make haste, or you have so much to undo, you will be left behind.
Miss Als. I dare say so. But who can vulgarise all at once? What will the French say?
Lady E. Oh, we shall have a new treaty for the interchange of fashions and follies, and then say, they will complain, as they do of other treaties, that we outmanufactured them.
Miss Als. Fashions and follies! O, what a charming contention!
Lady E. Yes, and one, thank heaven, so perfectly well understood on both sides, that no counter declaration will be wanted to explain it.
Miss Als. [With an affected drop of her lip in her laugh.] He! he! he! he! he! he!
Lady E. My dear Miss Alscrip, what are you doing? I must correct you as I love you. Sure you must have observed the drop of the under-lip is exploded since Lady Simpermode broke a tooth—[Sets her mouth affectedly.]—I am preparing the cast of the lips for the ensuing winter—thus—It is to be called the Paphian Mimp.
Miss Als. [Imitating.] I swear I think it pretty—I must try to get it.
Lady E. Nothing so easy. It is done by one cabalistical word, like a metamorphosis in the fairy tales. You have only, when before your glass, to keep pronouncing to yourself nimini-pimini—the lips cannot fail taking their ply.
Miss Als. Nimini—pimini—imini, mimini—oh! it's delightfully infantine—and so innocent, to be kissing •ne's own lips.
Lady E. You have it to a charm—does it not become her infinitely, Mrs. Blandish?
Mrs. Bland. Our friend's features must succeed in every grace! but never so much as in a quick change of extremes.
Enter Servant. Serv. Madam, Lord Gayville desires to know if yow are at home?
Miss Als. A strange formality!
Lady E. [Aside.] No brother ever came more opportunely to a sister's relief, "I have fooled it to the top of my bent."
Miss Als. Desire Miss Alton to come to me. [Exit Servant.] Lady Emily, you must not blame me; I am supporting the cause of our sex, and must punish a lover for some late inattentions—I shall not see him.
Lady E. Oh, cruel! [Sees Miss Alton.
Enter Miss Alton. Miss Alscrip, you have certainly the most elegant companion in the world.
Miss Als. Dear, do you think so ?—an ungain, dull sort of a body, in my mind; but we'll try her in the present business. Miss Alton, you must do me a favour.—I want to plague my husband that is to be— you must take my part—you must double me Tike a second actress at Paris, when the first has the vapours.
Miss Alton. Really, madam, the task you would impose upon me
Miss Als. Will be a great improvement to you, and quite right for me.—Don't be grave, Lady Emily— [Whose attention is fixed on Miss Alton.] Your brother's penance shall be short, and I'll take the reconciliationscene upon myself.
Lady E. [Endeavouring to recover herself.] I cannot but pity him; especially as I am sure, that do what you will, he will always regard you with the same
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eyes. And so, my sweet sister, I leave him to your1 mercy, and to that of your representative, whose disposition, if I have any judgment, is ill suited to a task of severity.
Mrs. Bland. Dear Lady Emily, carry me away with you. When a lover is coming, it shall never be said I am in the way.
Lady E. [Looking at Miss Alton.—Aside.] What a painful suspense am I to suffer! another instant, and I shall betray myself.—Adieu, Miss Alscrip.
MissAls. Call Lady Emily's servants.
Lady E. You sha'n't stir—remember nimini primini. I am at your orders. [Exit.
Mrs. Bland. I follow you, my sweet volatile. [Coming back, and squeezing Miss Alscrip's hand, in a halfwhisper.] She'd give her eyes to be like you. [Exit.
Miss Als. Mow for it, Miss Alton—only remember that you are doubling me, the woman he adores.
Miss Alton. Indeed, madam, I am quite incapable of executing your orders to your satisfaction. The utmost I can undertake is a short message.
Miss Als. Never fear. [Knock at the door.] There he comes.—Step aside, and I'll give you your very words.
Enter Lord Gayville, conducted by a Servant.
Lord G. So, now to get through this piece of drudgery. There's a meanness in my proceeding, and my compunction is just. Oh, the dear, lost possessor of my heart; lost, irrecoverably lost!
Enter Miss Altou, from the bottom of the scene.
Miss Alton. A pretty employment I am sent upon!
Lord G. [To himself.] Could she but know the sacrifice I am ready to make!
Miss Alton. [To herself.] The very picture of a lover, if absence of mind marks one. It is unpleasant for me to interrupt a man I never saw, but I shall deliver my' message very concisely.—My lord
Lord G. [Dirning.] Madam. [Both start, and stand in surprise.] Astonishment! Miss Alton! my charming fugitive!
Miss Alton. How, Mr. Heartly—Lord Gay ville!
Lord G. My joy and my surprise are alike unutterable. But I conjure you, madam, tell me by what strange circumstance do I meet you here?
Mitt Alton. [Aside.] Now assist me, honest pride! assist me, resentment.
Lord G. You spoke to me—did you know me?
Miss Alton. No otherwise, my lord, than as Miss Alscrip's lover. I had a message from her to your lordship.
Lord G. For heaven's sake, madam, in what capacity?
Mitt Alton. In one, my lord, not very much above the class of a servant.
Lord G. Impossible, sure! It is to place the brilliant below the foil—to make the inimitable work of nature secondary to art and defect.
Miss Alton. It is to take refuge in a situation that offers me security against suspicious obligation; against vile design; against the attempts of a seducer.—It is to exercise the patience, that the will, and perhaps the favour, of heaven meant to try.
Lord G. Cruel, cruel to yourself and me—Could I have had a happiness like that of assisting you against the injustice of fortune—and when to be thus degraded was the alternative?
Miss Alton. My lord, it is fit I should be explicit. Reflect upon the language you have held to me; view the character in which you present yourself to this family; and then pronounce in whose breast we must look for a sense of degradation.
Lord G. In mine, and mine alone. I confess it—