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live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.
HARD. And I love it. I love every thing that's old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines; and I believe, Dorothy (taking her hand), you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.
Mrs. Hard. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're for ever at your Dorothy's and your old wives. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make
money of that.
HARD. Let me see; twenty added to twenty makes just fifty and seven.
Mrs. Hard. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle; I was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lump
first husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet.
HARD. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you have taught him finely. MRS. HARD. No matter.
No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a year.
HARD. Learning, quotha! a mere composition of tricks and mischief.
Mrs. HARD. Humor, my dear; nothing but humor. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humor.
HARD. I'd sooner allow him a horse-pond. If burning the footman's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens,
be humor, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popt my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.
Mrs. Hand. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may
do for him ? HARD. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle. No, no; the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.
Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Any body that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
Hand. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking-trumpet—(Tony hallooing behind the scenes.)—0, there he goes--a very consumptive figure, truly.
Enter Tony, crossing the stage. Mrs. HARD. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee?
Tony. I'm in haste, mother; I can't stay.
Mrs. Hard. You shan't venture out this raw evening, my dear; you look most shockingly. Tony. I can't stay, I tell you.
The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
HARD. Ay; the alehouse, the old place; I thought so.
TONY. Not so low neither. There's Dick Mugging the exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, little Aminadab that
grinds the music-box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter.
Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
Tony. As for disappointing them, I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
Mrs. Hard. (Detaining him.) You shan't go.
[Exit, hauling her out. Hard. (Solus.) Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate ! the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she's as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE.
HARD. Blessings on my pretty innocence ! drest out as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
Miss Hard. You know our agreement, Sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress to please you.
Hard. Well, remember, I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the by, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
Miss HARD. I protest, Sir, I don't comprehend your meaning
HARD. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself shortly after.
Miss Hard. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
HARD. Depend upon it, child, I never will control your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often.
The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss HARD. Is he?
handsome. Miss Hard. My dear papa, say no more (kissing his hand), he's mine; I'll have him.
Hard. And to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in the world.
Miss HARD. Eh! you have frozen me to death again. That word reserved has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
HARD. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very feature in his character that first struck me.
Miss Hard. He must have more striking features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so every thing as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
HARD. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
Miss Hard. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so? Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
HARD. Bravely resolved! In the mean time I'll go prepare the servants for his reception : as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster.
[Exit. Miss HARD. (Alone.) Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a flutter.
Young, handsome; these he put last; but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved and sheepish, that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes; and can't I–But I vow I'm disposing of the husband before I have secured the lover.
Enter Miss NEVILLE. Miss Hard. I'm glad you're come, Nevilie, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there any thing whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face to-day?
Miss Nev. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look againbless me !—sure no accident has happened among the canary