The sister: a comedy. By Mrs. Charlotte Lennox.
THE law of cuſtom is the law of fools—
And yet the wiſe are govern'd by her rules.
Why ſhould Men only prologue all our plays,
Gentlemen-Uſhers to each modern Bayes?
Why are the Fair to Epilogues confin'd,
Whoſe tongues are loud, and gen'ral as the wind?
Mark how in real life each ſex is claſs'd!
Woman has there the firſt word and the laſt.
Boaſt not your gallant deeds, romantic men!
To-night a Female Quixote draws the pen.
Arm'd by the Comic Muſe, theſe liſts ſhe enters,
And ſallies forth—in queſt of ſtrange adventures!
War, open war, 'gainſt recreant knights declares,
Nor Giant-Vice nor Windmill-Folly ſpares:
Side-ſaddles Pegaſus, and courts Apollo,
While I, (you ſee!) her female Sancho, follow.
Ye that in this enchanted caſtle ſit,
Dames, ſquires, and dark magicians of the pit,
Smile on our fair knight-errantry to-day,
And raiſe no ſpells to blaſt a female play.
Oft has our Author, upon other ground,
Courted your ſmiles, and oft indulgence found.
Read in the cloſet, you approv'd her page;
Yet ſtill ſhe dreads the perils of the ſtage.
Reader with Writer due proportion keeps,
And if the Poet nods, the Critic ſleeps!
If lethargied by dullneſs here you ſit,
Sonorous catcalls rouſe the ſleeping pit.
Plac'd at the threſhold of the weather-houſe,
There ſtands a paſteboard huſband and his ſpouſe,
Each doom'd to mark the changes of the weather,
But ſtill—true man and wife!—ne'er ſeen together.
When low [...]ing clouds the face of heav'n deform,
The muffled huſband ſtands and braves the ſtorm;
But when the fury of the tempeſt's done,
Break out at once the Lady and the Sun.
Thus oft has man, in cuſtom's beaten track,
Come forth, as doleful Prologue, all in black!
Gloomy prognoſtick of the ba [...]a's diſgrace,
With omens of foul weather in his face.
Trick'd out in ſilk and ſmiles let me appear,
And ſix, as ſign of peace, the rainbow here;
Raiſe your compaſſion and your mirth together,
And prove to-day an emblem of fair weather!
- Earl of Belmont, Father to Lord Clairville. Mr. CLARKE.
- Lord Clairville, under the Name of Belmour. Mr. SMITH.
- Courteney, under the Name of Freeman, Governor to Lord Clairville. Mr. POWELL.
- Will, Servant to Courteney. Mr. CUSHING.
- Lady Autumn, a Widow. Mrs. WARD.
- Miſs Autumn, Daughter of Lord Autumn by a former Wife. Mrs. BULKLEY.
- Miſs Courteney, Siſter to Courteney, under the Name of D'Arcy. Miſs MORRIS.
- Simple, Woman to Lady Autumn. Miſs PIERCE.
- Betty, Woman to Miſs Autumn. Mrs. GARDINER.
Lord Clairville and Courteney meeting.
COURTENEY. I THOUGHT I ſhould find you here, my Lord: this new taſte for ſolitude is a mortal ſymptom in your diſtemper. A lover ſeldom deſires better company than his own thoughts.
CLAIRVILLE. I ſhould have been glad of your company, however. Why did you not join me ſooner?
COURTENEY. I come now to bring you unwelcome news—the Earl of Belmont is in town.
CLAIRVILLE. My father in town!
COURTENEY. Will, whom I ſent to London upon ſome particular buſineſs, is juſt now returned, and tells me my Lord came from his country-ſeat two days ago.
[Page 2] CLAIRVILLE. My dear Courteney, I ſhall never be able to look my father in the face.—To return to England without his orders—to be three weeks here under a borrowed name—If he has been informed of this, how can I excuſe my conduct?
COURTENEY. Tell him the truth.
CLAIRVILLE. The truth!
COURTENEY. Yes—That his Lordſhip, in his laſt letter to you at Paris, propoſed a match to you; your impatience to ſee the lady made you anticipate his orders for your return; you left Paris incognito, ſaw the lady at Ranelagh, and—
CLAIRVILLE. What then?
COURTENEY. Are ready to obey him.
CLAIRVILLE. Pſhaw! why will you trifle? You know I cannot.
COURTENEY. Cannot! my Lord— gravely.
CLAIRVILLE. No: Lady Ann does not pleaſe me.
COURTENEY. Becauſe Miſs D'Arcy pleaſes you too well.
CLAIRVILLE. Pr'ythee, do not torment me, Courteney.
COURTENEY. Doubtleſs, his Lordſhip will excuſe the violence of a paſſion, which keeps you here at Windſor, [Page 3] under a fictitious name, ſighing at the feet of a young divinity, that has viſited this ſublunary world in the ſhape of an humble dependant upon a haughty lady of quality.
CLAIRVILLE. What a blunder has Fortune committed, to place her in that ſtate!—Courteney, ſhe is an angel.
COURTENEY. An angel! Lovers have a fine creative fancy! It coſts them little to make angels, goddeſſes, nymphs—
CLAIRVILLE. Are you apprehenſive, then, that my paſſion for Miſs D'Arcy may lead me too far?
COURTENEY. Why, truly, my Lord, there ſeems to be ſome reaſon for my apprehenſion.—However this may be, ſome particular buſineſs obliges me to leave you.
CLAIRVILLE. Particular buſineſs! Is this affair to be a ſecret to your friend?
COURTENEY. I have no ſecrets that I would hide from you, my Lord. My ſiſter, whom you have often heard me mention with tenderneſs, though I have not ſeen her ſince ſhe was a child, has privately withdrawn herſelf from an aunt, with whom ſhe has reſided ſince the death of her parents; and it is conjectured ſhe is gone to Paris to meet me, my laſt letter to her being dated from thence.
CLAIRVILLE. Her aunt had made ſome prudent choice of a husband for her, perhaps—
[Page 4] COURTENEY. No—the old lady is a bigoted Roman Catholick—and, having a large fortune to beſtow, attempted to make a proſelyte of the poor girl, promiſing her, in that caſe, to ſettle her eſtate upon her. This failing, ſhe laid a ſcheme for entrapping her into a convent; which my ſiſter being informed of, fled to me.
CLAIRVILLE. Who gave you this intelligence?
COURTENEY. A friend of my father's, whom I accidentally met with upon the terrace, who had ſeen me at Leyden, while I was at the univerſity there, and knew me immediately. We cannot hope, you ſee, to be longer concealed; therefore it is abſolutely neceſſary, my Lord, that you ſhould preſent yourſelf as ſoon as poſſible to your father.—What do you reſolve to do, my Lord?
CLAIRVILLE. Give me a day or two to conſider.
COURTENEY. But, in the mean time, my ſiſter—
CLAIRVILLE. True—You ought to fly immediately to her aſſiſtance.
COURTENEY. And leave you here, my Lord?
CLAIRVILLE. Why not? Do you doubt my prudence?
COURTENEY. Your Lordſhip's in love.
[Page 5] CLAIRVILLE. Can you think me weak enough to form a raſh engagement with a young woman, to whoſe birth and circumſtances I am wholly a ſtranger.
COURTENEY. You are in love, my Lord.
CLAIRVILLE. You are determined, then, to acquaint my father with my being here?
COURTENEY. Certainly, unleſs you reſolve to preſent yourſelf to him immediately. My friendſhip for you, my Lord, has already carried me farther than it ought: I have indulged you, in coming over privately, that you might gratify your curioſity with a ſight of the lady your father deſigns for you; this done, you promiſed to go back with me to Paris, there to wait his expreſs orders for your return; but you have not kept your word. You ſtill linger here— my remonſtrances have hitherto been fruitleſs.
CLAIRVILLE. Well, ſince it muſt be ſo, I will go back with you to Paris.
COURTENEY. Were it not better to wait upon your father, who is perhaps, by this time, informed of your return?
CLAIRVILLE. I cannot ſee my father; I cannot reſolve to marry the lady he has choſen for me. Kind and indulgent as he has ever been, I have not fortitude enough to meet his frown — I will write to him when we get to Paris, and we will ſet out to-morrow. Now are you ſatisfied?
[Page 6] COURTENEY. I am, my Lord, your ſervant; I will go home, and give the neceſſary orders for our journey.
CLAIRVILLE. Nay, pr'ythee, take a turn with me, dear Courteney; my heart is oppreſſed, and I have a thouſand things to ſay to you.
COURTENEY. Your Lordſhip muſt excuſe me; we have not a moment to ſpare.
[Going; Miſs Autumn and Miſs Courteney appear at a diſtance; Courteney ſtops, looks at them, then comes back to Clairville, and ſays,]If your Lordſhip is only for a ſhort walk, I think I will accompany you.
(laughs).So, you have a moment to ſpare then; confeſs honeſtly, that the ſight of Miſs Autumn has brought you back.
COURTENEY. Miſs Autumn! ſure, my Lord, you do not imagine that I would neglect any ſerious buſineſs for the converſation of ſuch a vain coquet?
CLAIRVILLE. Not unleſs you were in love, Courteney.
COURTENEY. Well, I am not in love with Miſs Autumn, I do aſſure you, my Lord.
CLAIRVILLE. With whom then?
COURTENEY. Nor with your Paſtorella, my Lord, your bluſhing Dryad, who, with all her innocence and [Page 7] ſimplicity, has had art enough to enſnare your affections.
CLAIRVILLE. Dear Courteney, ſpeak with more reverence of what I love—they are again in ſight; ſhall we go round and meet them?
COURTENEY. Well, ſince it muſt be ſo, I will attend you.
Exeunt Courteney and Clairville.
Enter Miſs Autumn and Miſs Courteney.
MISS AUTUMN. It is very true, my dear, when I told you this morning, that you would make but an awkward fine lady, you ſurveyed yourſelf in my glaſs with a certain conſciouſneſs (mimicking her): well, I will allow that you are tolerably handſome; but half that bloom which you brought from the country might be ſpared, provided you knew what to do with the remainder—indeed, Harriet, I am almoſt aſhamed of your ſimplicity.
MISS COURTENEY. Why, my dear whimſical friend, what faults have I committed lately?
MISS AUTUMN. Faults! you never do one earthly thing that is right—all my documents are thrown away upon you—you bluſh, truly, when a ſop looks attentively on you—you cannot meet the ſteady gaze with the confident ſtare. You ſpeak without liſping; walk without tottering, and courteſy without toſſing back your head.
MISS AUTUMN. Indeed, Harriet, you are a ſilly girl, with all your knowledge—you have ſpent eighteen years of your life in cultivating your underſtanding, without reflecting that it is by your beauty only you can hope to make your fortune; ceaſe to be wiſe, child, and grow prudent; do not ſtudy the belle lettres, but the belle air—reaſon leſs with your tongue, and more with your eyes—why, really now, I believe you imagine nature gave you thoſe two ſparkling orbs for no other purpoſe but to ſee with.
MISS COURTENEY. You railly your ſex's follies ſo agreeably, my dear, that one would conclude you deſpiſed them, were you not too often ſeen practiſing them yourſelf—your eyes ſerve you for many other purpoſes beſides ſeeing.
MISS AUTUMN. My eyes, child, are well-diſciplined troops; they know how to attack, conquer, purſue, retreat, beg quarter—
MISS COURTENEY. Beg quarter! I am ſure they will never give any, if they can poſſibly help it—what an obſtinate ſiege have they laid to the heart of poor Freeman!
MISS AUTUMN. True; and they have carried the place at laſt, you find.
MISS COURTENEY. Well, and what do you intend to do with it?
MISS COURTENEY. I doubt the place is not tenable, my dear; two enemies to your power, pride and reſentment, have got admittance, and it is more than probable will expell your garriſon.
MISS AUTUMN. That, indeed, would be a great diſgrace upon my generalſhip.
MISS COURTENEY. Mr. Freeman is a man of ſenſe: he has perceived that your deſign was only to torment him. You are too much and too little of a coquet, my fair friend; and have not artifice enough to diſſemble the want of it.
MISS AUTUMN. Prodigious! What, the ſage Harriet taking upon her to give me leſſons in coquetry!
MISS COURTENEY. I might profit by your faults, were I diſpoſed to commence coquet.
MISS AUTUMN. Well, ſince I find you have ſome ſkill, I may venture to conſult you ſometimes upon my operations; tell me truly then, do you think Freeman will eſcape me?
MISS COURTENEY. I think he has already.
MISS AUTUMN. This would mortify me extremely, if I did not deſpiſe the rebel.
MISS AUTUMN. Not that I think him deſpicable, I aſſure you.
MISS COURTENEY. No, really!
MISS AUTUMN. No, really! why, is he not handſome? has he not wit, learning, elegance?
MISS COURTENEY. Ha! ha! ha! and yet you deſpiſe him, my dear.
MISS AUTUMN. Deſpiſe him—why yes—and yet I do not deſpiſe him neither. — I only mean that I do not like him.
MISS COURTENEY. Why ſhould you not like him? is he not handſome? has he not wit, learning, elegance?
MISS AUTUMN. Pooh! to convince you that I do not like him, obſerve how ill I will treat him the next time we meet.
MISS COURTENEY. That will be the way to convince me that you do like him.
MISS AUTUMN. Strange indeed! you could not ſay more were I to treat him well.
MISS COURTENEY. No, but I ſhould ſay as much.
MISS AUTUMN. You have a mind to maintain paradoxes, I perceive.
[Page 11] MISS COURTENEY. Indeed you are miſtaken, I have no mind to be ridiculous; the glitter of falſe wit, like the ſhine of falſe jewels, ſerve at once to ſhew the poverty and vanity of the poſſeſſor. What I mean, my dear, is, that if you are indeed—indifferent towards Mr. Freeman, you will treat him with that general politeneſs, which a man of real merit is ſure to meet with from a woman of ſenſe: too much or too little attention to ſuch a man, is alike liable to be conſtrued into a ſecret attachment.
MISS AUTUMN. According to this rule, my dear Harriet, you have certainly a ſecret attachment for his friend Mr. Belmour.
(confuſed.)I, a ſecret attachment! why, is it poſſible you can have diſcovered—that is, that you ſuſpect—
MISS AUTUMN. Ha! ha! ha! no, my dear, your extreme reſerve made me firſt ſuſpect, and afterwards diſcover—
MISS COURTENEY. What have you diſcovered?
MISS AUTUMN. That you love Mr. Belmour—aye, you may bluſh.—This was a ſecret that required all my ſagacity to diſcover; but as for his paſſion for you — any ideot might have found that out.
MISS COURTENEY. Yet does not reſerve become one in my circumſtances? An unhappy orphan, compelled by my ill fate, to become a fugitive from the friend to whom I owed my paſt, and from whom I expected my future ſupport; thus diſtreſt — perhaps cenſured—
[Page 12] MISS AUTUMN. I will not hear you talk ſo, cenſured you cannot be; you have acted upon motives too juſtifiable; and I hope my fortune is ſufficient to keep diſtreſs far from us both.
MISS COURTENEY. Generous Charlotte! yet if Lady Autumn ſhould diſcover me, ſhe will think it her duty to force me back to my aunt.
MISS AUTUMN. Moſt certainly; what favour can youth and beauty expect from a coquet of fifty?
MISS COURTENEY. Indeed, my dear, you make too free with the foibles of your father's widow; but you ought to remember, that, if ſhe loves admiration at fifty, it is becauſe ſhe was a coquet at fifteen.
MISS AUTUMN. That is true; — I proteſt I tremble at the idea, of being one day, what my ſtep-mother is at preſent. Oh heavens! in the midſt of wrinkles and grey hairs, to dream of gentle languiſhments, vows, ardors!—but there is ſome comfort yet, fifty and I are at an immenſe diſtance.
MISS COURTENEY. Do not cheat yourſelf, my dear, with that thought; young though you are, you will be old: whatever advances with ſuch rapidity, cannot be accounted far diſtant—
MISS AUTUMN. Well, I am determined to grow grave in time: dear Harriet, give me a leſſon every day till you have compleated my reformation:—but is not that Freeman and Belmour yonder? They are certainly come in ſearch of us; —come hither, Harriet—you [Page 13] who pronounced the rebel had eſcaped me—mark that penſive air, thoſe folded arms.—Well, my ſage monitreſs of eighteen, will you pretend to aſſert that he is not thinking on me? Now can I not for my life reſiſt my inclination to teaze him a little.—Do, dear girl, indulge me this once; I promiſe you, I will not be very cruel.—Nay, you ſhall preſcribe the utmoſt limits of my triumph; and when you think I am carrying it too far,— only pull me by the ſleeve, and I will inſtantly recollect myſelf.
MISS COURTENEY. Ha! ha! ha! I ſee your reformation is begun.
Enter Lord Clairville and Courteney.
COURTENEY. Your ſervant, ladies; we have been looking for you this half hour.
MISS AUTUMN. One would think you expected to find us like daiſies ſpringing up under your ſteps. I obſerved your eyes bent conſtantly on the ground.
CLAIRVILLE. My friend is a little thoughtful to-day.
(aſide to Miſs Courteney.)Mark that, Harriet; he has certainly eſcaped me: do you not think ſo?
(To Courteney.)That is your melancholy, is it not ſo, Mr. Freeman? Well, does not this prove what I have often told you; there is not the leaſt ſympathy in our minds; you are always ſad when I am gay; but I have a mind to be complaiſant for once, and will permit you to chuſe the humour I ſhall be of during the next half hour.
[Page 14] COURTENEY
(careleſsly bowing.)Pardon me, Madam, you muſt chuſe for yourſelf; you are ſo agreeable in whatever humour you aſſume, that it is impoſſible for me to give the preference to any. Your ſmiles and frowns become you in my opinion ſo equally, that I am charmed alike whether you ſmile or frown.
(aſide, a little diſconcerted.)Indeed! ſo indifferent!
(aſide to her.)I think I muſt pull him by the ſleeve, my dear.
MISS AUTUMN. Mr. Bellmour, my mamma ſent you a card this morning; you and your friend dine with us, I hope.
CLAIRVILLE. We will certainly wait on you, ladies.
COURTENEY. It muſt be a farewell viſit then, ladies; for we ſet out for Paris to-morrow.
(Here Clairville and Miſs Courteney talk apart.)
MISS AUTUMN. (Going, and ſo unconcerned too! (aſide.) This reſolution is very ſudden, Sir. To be ſure, Paris is a charming place; you are vaſtly in the right to go. Miſs D'Arcy, my dear, we have but juſt time to dreſs for dinner.
CLAIRVILLE. We will wait on you home, ladies.
(drawing away her hand from Courteney, who offers to lead her.)No ceremony, Sir; I can walk without aſſiſtance.
Exeunt Courteney, Clairville, Miſs Autumn, and Miſs Courteney.
END OF THE FIRST ACT.
Enter Lady Autumn, and her woman at the other ſide.
LADY AUTUMN. There they are, but I ſhall not join them; theſe girls are never weary of walking.
SIMPLE. They are young, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. Young! well, I ſuppoſe you do not think me old; and yet I hate walking, it is a robuſt exerciſe.
SIMPLE. To be ſure, there can be no pleaſure in walking, when one has the rheumatiſm ſo bad as your Ladyſhip has.
LADY AUTUMN. The rheumatiſm! who told you I had the rheumatiſm? What, becauſe I was laid up with a ſprain, which I got by running rather too giddily indeed after my ſquirrel, it paſſed for the rheumatiſm?
SIMPLE. I am ſure, Madam, the doctors called it ſo.
LADY AUTUMN. The doctors were blockheads then.—(Not return to join me! aſide, and looking about.) Simple, obſerve, whether Mr. Freeman be coming back.
SIMPLE. No, indeed, Madam; he is walking on towards the houſe, with the young ladies.
[Page 16] LADY AUTUMN
(aſide.)It is certainly ſo, he is vexed, I treated him with too much rigour laſt night; rigour was always my fault, I cannot help it.
SIMPLE. Bleſs me! I hope your Ladyſhip is not taken ill
LADY AUTUMN. Ill! no; and yet one cannot be very well, when one is the cauſe of ſo much pain to others.
LADY AUTUMN. It does not ſignify, there is no living without a confidant;—Simple, you have been in my ſervice but a ſhort time; but I have a notion that you are very diſcreet.
(curtſeying.)Indeed I am, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. Aye, I know you are, I am ſeldom miſtaken in my judgement of people: to ſhew you then that I think you very diſcreet, I am reſolved to make you my confidant.
SIMPLE. Confidant! I thank you, Madam, — but, but—I had rather keep the place I was hired for, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. Yes, I am determined to depoſite all my ſecrets in your breaſt.—Know then, Simple, that there is a young man who ſeems—but why do I ſay ſeems—who is deſperately—what ſhall I call it— who really languiſhes with an unconquerable, invincible, hopeleſs, fatal, dying paſſion, for—for— me;—is not this a ſad thing?
LADY AUTUMN. A ſtrange thing! I ſay, is it not a ſad thing?
SIMPLE. To be ſure, it is a ſad thing, Madam; and I am very ſorry for it.
LADY AUTUMN. Poor Freeman! I am ſorry too;—but there was a kind of fatality in it.—I never told you, Simple, the manner of our firſt acquaintance?
SIMPLE. No, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. One morning, when I was ſauntering in the foreſt, habited in a looſe white ſack, with my walking-crook in my hand—poor Lord Autumn uſed to ſay I looked like a nymph in this dreſs—I found myſelf fatigued, and was obliged to reſt under a tree.—Here I ſat, or rather reclined, in a penſive attitude, when I was rouſed by the ſight of a monſtrous ſnake, that had faſtened on my arm—
SIMPLE. Lord bleſs me! Madam, what did you do?—
LADY AUTUMN. Do!—I ſcreamed ſo loud, that two young gentlemen, who were walking at a little diſtance, came running to me:—both were eager to aſſiſt me;— but Mr. Freeman's aſſiduity was ſo animated, ſo languiſhing—ſo—ſo—in ſhort, the blow was ſtruck; I perceived immediately that I had made a violent impreſſion.
LADY AUTUMN. The ſnake!—O, I was miſtaken: it was only a caterpillar, which my fears had magnified into a ſnake. Mr. Freeman then offered me his hand, to lead me home; but it was with ſuch a timid aſpect!—Since that day, his friend Belmour and he have been conſtant viſitors at my houſe; and although his paſſion has been continually increaſing, yet he has concealed it ſo carefully, that no perſon in the family has diſcovered it but myſelf.
SIMPLE. I'll anſwer for it, Madam, nobody dreams of any ſuch thing.—But I wonder the gentleman has not broke his mind to your Ladyſhip!—
LADY AUTUMN. No, he has ever been ſilent, awfully ſilent, as to that point—ſuch is his extreme timidity!— Timidity, Simple, ever accompanies a violent paſſion; for flames, as the poet ſays, burn higheſt, when they tremble moſt.
(looking out.)I vow, Madam, here is Mr. Freeman coming, all alone. — Sure he intends to break his mind now.
LADY AUTUMN. It is he, indeed!—This can never be chance: he has certainly followed me hither. His paſſion has at length got the better of his timidity, and he is reſolved to declare himſelf. — I muſt not be too reſerved—I muſt not kill his hope.—Simple, obſerve his looks when he accoſts me.
COURTENEY. Your Ladyſhip's moſt humble ſervant. I did not expect to meet you here, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. No! you had a mind for a ſolitary walk, then?
COURTENEY. No, indeed, Madam: I have been walking all the morning. I left Mr. Belmour with the young ladies, to take leave; for we ſet out for Paris tomorrow.
LADY AUTUMN. How! do you leave us to-morrow?—Is this to try me? (aſide.) Poſitively, Mr. Freeman, you muſt not go.
COURTENEY. Indeed, Madam, I muſt: there is an abſolute neceſſity for it.
LADY AUTUMN. Indeed, but there is no abſolute neceſſity for it. Do you think I have ſo little penetration as not to have diſcovered the cauſe of this ſudden reſolution?
COURTENEY. So, ſhe means my Lord's paſſion for Miſs D'Arcy! —If I could but draw ſome intelligence from her, concerning this young woman, it might be of uſe. (aſide.)
LADY AUTUMN. Now is he conſidering with himſelf, whether he may venture to make a diſcovery of his paſſion.— I proteſt, I am all in a ſlutter! He wants courage. (aſide.) —Mr. Freeman, have I gueſſed truly, as to the cauſe of your ſudden departure?
(Looking down upon her fan, affectedly.)Nay now, Mr. Freeman—this is too much!— you throw me into the greateſt confuſion imaginable!—To be ſure, I have gueſſed—a paſſion ſo very obvious;—but, methinks, it would better become you to explain yourſelf—
COURTENEY. Why, Madam, I confeſs you have gueſſed truly: my friend's paſſion is indeed pretty obvious; but there are certain reaſons which make it highly improper for him to indulge it.
LADY AUTUMN. His friend's paſſion! prettily turned.—How cautious! how diffident! (aſide.) —Well, Sir, this you may aſſure your friend of, however, that to my certain knowledge he need not deſpair.
COURTENEY. So, ſhe favours this buſineſs, I find. aſide.
LADY AUTUMN. Well, Sir, do you ſtill hold your reſolution of leaving us?
COURTENEY. Your Ladyſhip may eaſily imagine, that I am ſomewhat intereſted in this affair.—
LADY AUTUMN. Yes, yes, I can very eaſily imagine that.
COURTENEY. I ſhould be glad, therefore, to know—
COURTENEY. Poſitively, you ſhall know no more now.—You men are ſo importunate!—But ſuppoſe now I ſhould [Page 21] give you an opportunity of talking to me upon this affair?
COURTENEY. I ſhould be greatly obliged to you, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. He might have thrown a little more rapture into his anſwer. (aſide.) —Well, I ſhall be alone, in the drawing-room, after dinner—and—But this looks ſo like an aſſignation, that I have a good mind to withdraw my promiſe.
COURTENEY. Aſſignation! how could that come into her head? (aſide.) —No, no, Madam; depend upon it, I will hold you to your promiſe.
LADY AUTUMN. Adieu, then, till dinner. Simple, do you hear, lay out my pink and white.—I ſhall dreſs immediately.
Exeunt Lady Autumn and Simple.
(alone.)What a piece of affectation! But if ſhe has not entered heartily into the intereſt of this Miſs D'Arcy, with whom my pupil is madly in love, I ſhall be able to diſcover her character and circumſtances, and muſt take my meaſures accordingly.
SCENE, a drawing-room, in Lady Autumn's houſe.
Enter Courteney, as from dinner.
COURTENEY. IF I do not hit upon ſome method to reſcue Lord Clairville, he is undone; I obſerved him all dinner-time—his attachment to this young creature is amazing!
Enter Lord Clairville.
CLAIRVILLE. Courteney, I wiſhed to ſpeak a word to you in private; I have been thinking all day on this journey to Paris.
COURTENEY. Well, my Lord.
CLAIRVILLE. I find, I cannot reſolve to go—
COURTENEY. I ſuſpected as much.
CLAIRVILLE. Without firſt ſeeing my father.
COURTENEY. There you are perfectly right, my Lord; you intend to wait on him to-morrow, I ſuppoſe?
[Page 23] CLAIRVILLE. Not ſo neither; I would prepare him firſt—I intend to write to him, to explain my reaſons for returning before I had received his orders; and to aſſure him, that I cannot think of marrying Lady Anne, and that I wait his anſwer here. I will juſt ſtep to my lodgings and write my letter, and return immediately.
(alone.)My Lord has a very contented air, he has certainly brought his miſtreſs to terms; but what thoſe terms are, I muſt endeavour to find out. This girl, I fear, will draw him into ſome raſh engagement. I can form no judgement of her character and deſigns, ſhe is ſo reſerved. Ha! here ſhe comes—I will try to found her; and for once, in order to preſerve my pupil, I will aſſume a language foreign to my heart.
Enter Miſs Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. Mr. Freeman, is it certain that you ſet out for Paris to-morrow?
COURTENEY. If not to-morrow, Madam, moſt certainly the next day.
MISS COURTENEY. I have a relation in Paris, whom I have not heard from for ſeveral weeks—it is of great importance to me to have a letter ſafely conveyed to his hands—will you execute this little commiſſion for me?
[Page 24] COURTENEY
(Receiving the letter, which he puts into his pocket book.)With pleaſure, Madam; but the honour you do me, in employing me upon this occaſion, will be envied by my friend.
MISS COURTENEY. Mr. Belmour tells me, he does not go with you.
COURTENEY. He once reſolved otherwiſe, and his affairs required it ſhould be ſo; but I, who know how difficult it is to be in love and to be wiſe, am not ſurprized that he has changed his mind.
(in confuſion.)This is an affair which I do not pretend to judge of. Will you walk into the next room? the coffee is brought in. going.
(detaining her.)Nay, but this is an affair which concerns you, Madam, more than any other perſon—you muſt, indeed you muſt, permit me to plead for my friend —I know the ſincerity and ardor of his paſſion for you—
MISS COURTENEY. Hold, Mr. Freeman—am I to think you ſerious?
COURTENEY. You wrong yourſelf and me, by ſuppoſing I would jeſt upon ſo delicate a ſubject.
MISS COURTENEY. It is ſtrange, methinks, that you ſhould encourage him in the liking, you ſay, he has entertained for me! his fortunes ſeem to be high; I am poor and dependant—do you think his parents will approve of ſo unequal match?
MISS COURTENEY. Ha!
COURTENEY. His, I believe, have deſtined his hand to another; but his heart, I am ſure, will always be yours.
(aſide, in great confuſion.)What can he mean?
COURTENEY. My friend adores you, Madam; he has the power and the will to make you happy—to place you in affluence and ſplendor—it is true, that, circumſcribed by a father's authority, he cannot offer you his hand—but—
MISS COURTENEY. No more, Sir—this inſult is too plain (turns, and weeps). Oh! why am I thus weak?— indignation, ſcorn, contempt would better become me.
COURTENEY. She is ſtrangely moved! in tears too! —her beautiful diſorder affects me—ſurely I have been to blame.
(endeavouring to ſeem compoſed)I will not aſk you, Sir, what you have obſerved in my behaviour, which could encourage you to treat me thus freely.—You, no doubt, act upon principle; and it is not ſurprizing that perſons, who hold riches to be the greateſt good, ſhould think they are more than an equivalent for virtue.
MISS COURTENEY. You boaſt your friend's rank and affluence— it belongs, indeed, to the great to be licentious with impunity. My humbler fate makes other maxims ſafer. I have been taught to think poverty a leſs evil than diſhonour; and to aſpire to that diſtinction only, which is attainable by all, the diſtinction due to virtue.
COURTENEY. How could I harbour a profane thought of ſuch a woman! (aſide) —I have offended ſo greatly. Madam, that I hardly dare ſolicit, much leſs hope for pardon; but if you knew—
MISS COURTENEY. No apologies, Sir, to me; your offence is general, and proceeds from the bad opinion you have formed of my ſex; yet to judge of all, from an acquaintance, perhaps, with the worſt, is an error which a man of ſenſe ought ſurely to have avoided. —It is ſinning againſt conviction, for, whatever libertines pretend, the contempt they feel for thoſe they have ſeduced, is a proof of that ſecret homage which all men pay to virtue.
COURTENEY. I am aſhamed and confounded at what has paſt— yet permit me—
MISS COURTENEY. No more, Sir; we muſt be ſtrangers for the future; therefore return the letter I gave you, I ſhall find a fitter way of conveying it.
COURTENEY. Do not, Madam, deprive me of an opportunity of doing yon this ſmall ſervice.
[Page 27] MISS COURTENEY
(with ſome emotion.)No, Sir, no—that letter would introduce you to the friendſhip of a man, whoſe ſentiments and conduct are very different from yours.—Alas! what would his generous heart ſuffer, were he to know the inſult his ſiſter has been ſubjected to this day!
turns and weeps.
(looking earneſtly at her.)Her brother! — good heaven! —ſhould it be poſſible! (takes out the letter, and reads the direction.) Ha! "To Mr. Courteney!"—her well-known hand too!—confuſion! have I then been all this time practiſing on the virtue of my ſiſter!
(turning towards him.)Give me the letter, Sir.
COURTENEY. The letter belongs to me; for oh! my dear Harriet, my amiable, my virtuous ſiſter! I—I, am Courteney—I am your your brother.
MISS COURTENEY. Is it poſſible!
COURTENEY. I am; nay, ſhrink not from my embrace—and yet your doubts are natural; you were ſo young when we parted, it is impoſſible you ſhould recollect my features.—But I have tokens that may convince you; ſee here, your mother's picture; this bracelet of her hair; her laſt dear gift.
MISS COURTENEY. You are—you are my brother! but why have you concealed yourſelf ſo long? and why—why this ſevere trial of your ſiſter?
COURTENEY. My dear Harriet, I muſt take ſhame to myſelf; I knew you not under a borrowed name, and in a [Page 28] place where I ſo little expected to meet you;—I ſhall never think on what has paſſed without the deepeſt confuſion and remorſe. Anxious to preſerve my pupil from offending his father by an unequal marriage, and ſuſpicious of your real character, I have inſulted innocence; and Heaven, to puniſh me, has turned that inſult on my ſiſter.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh! that my brother may be taught by this adventure, never more to inſult diſtreſs and innocence; and to conſider every virtuous, unprotected young woman as a ſiſter. Alas! I was afraid my ſlight from my aunt had expoſed me to your ſuſpicions.
COURTENEY. I know your motives; they free you from all blame.
MISS COURTENEY. But why did you aſſume the name of Freeman?
COURTENEY. I believe you already gueſs, that the young gentleman you ſee with me is the Earl of Belmont's ſon, whom I have accompanied in his travels; his father having provided a match for him, he prevailed upon me to come with him privately to England, in order to ſee his intended bride without being known by her.
MISS COURTENEY. His intended bride!
COURTENEY. Yes, his intended bride;—but why this emotion, ſiſter? You love Mr. Belmour:—ah! this is what I fear;—but remember, my dear Harriet, that Mr. Belmour is Lord Clairville, and never can be yours; and, were he weak enough to offer you his hand, I am bound in honour to prevent it. He was committed [Page 29] to my care by my benefactor and my friend; and, ſhould I encourage his paſſion for you, it would be ſuch a ſcandalous breach of truſt as would ſink me below the meaneſt of mankind. By Heaven, I would rather loſe my life than incur the infamy of having betrayed my pupil into a clandeſtine marriage with my ſiſter.
MISS COURTENEY. Be calm, brother, and place ſome confidence in me; you will find that I deſerve it.
COURTENEY. 'Tis well, then promiſe me to conceal your name and family ſtill from Lord Clairville; if he knows I am your brother, he will poſſibly be weak enough to expect my concurrence with his deſigns; and my fixed reſolution to oppoſe them may occaſion a breach between us.
MISS COURTENEY. Heaven forbid!
COURTENEY. Nor would I have Miſs Autumn know me yet by any other name than Freeman.
MISS COURTENEY. And is this neceſſary?
COURTENEY. I am apprehenſive, from her miſtaken kindneſs for you, that ſhe will certainly acquaint Lord Clairville with the truth.
MISS COURTENEY. Well, I will be entirely governed by you.
COURTENEY. Then, my dear Harriet, you muſt reſolve to go with me to-morrow to your aunt: I am aſſured that ſhe is very deſirous of being reconciled to you; [Page 30] and you cannot with any propriety ſtay here, where Lord Clairville may have ſuch eaſy acceſs to you.
MISS COURTENEY. To return to my aunt, is the hardeſt injunction you have laid upon me yet; but even in this you ſhall be obeyed.
COURTENEY. To-morrow morning early a poſt-chaiſe ſhall be ready for you; I will join you on the road, and conduct you to Eſſex.—But how is this, Harriet? You are in tears;—I expected more firmneſs from you.
MISS COURTENEY. I am to blame—but—
COURTENEY. Here is ſomebody coming,— retire and compoſe yourſelf; and oh! remember the honour of your brother is in your keeping.
MISS COURTENEY. Farewell; rely upon me.
Exit Miſs Courteney.
(looking after her.)It were a ſin to doubt her, yet ſhe loves Lord Clairville; what a difficult taſk does my ſituation impoſe upon me! compelled to make two perſons miſerable, whoſe happineſs I would purchaſe at the expence of my own.
Enter Lady Autumn.
LADY AUTUMN. Waiting in expectation of my coming.— So it ſhould be— a paſſionate lover will always prevent the hour. Aſide.
[Page 31] COURTENEY
(without ſeeing her.)If I can but avoid a diſcovery till I have placed her out of his reach, my honour will be ſafe.
LADY AUTUMN. Loſt in tender contemplation! Aſide. Mr. Freeman! (advancing.)
COURTENEY. I aſk your Ladyſhip's pardon, I did not ſee you.
LADY AUTUMN. No! well, here I am, according to my promiſe— but you muſt not impute this condeſcenſion—you muſt not preſume upon it.
COURTENEY. Preſume! Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. Nay, poſitively you ſhall not gaze upon me thus;—I ſhall bluſh ten times more if you do.
COURTENEY. Gaze upon you! Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. How his reſpect for me embarraſſes him! (aſide.) You were talking to me this morning of your friend's paſſion, Mr. Freeman; you remember the phraſe—your friend's paſſion—need I tell you that I am — very favourably —diſpoſed —to hear all you have to ſay upon that ſubject?
COURTENEY. My friend's paſſion! —I muſt put that notion out of her head (aſide). Oh! dear Madam, I was only jeſting.
LADY AUTUMN. How, Sir?
COURTENEY. Raillery, I do aſſure your Ladyſhip.
COURTENEY. You were certainly miſtaken, Madam, if you looked upon my friend's attachment in any other light than meer gallantry.
LADY AUTUMN. This is ſtrange! yet he owns an attachment; that is ſomething, however (aſide). —So then I am to ſuppoſe that—
COURTENEY. Nothing more than ſuch homage as the young and beautiful will always claim from our ſex.
LADY AUTUMN. When you ſpeak of beauty, there I am ſure you flatter; and yet poor Lord Autumn uſed to think —but Lord Autumn, perhaps, was ſingular in his opinion.
COURTENEY. What does ſhe mean? Aſide.
FOOTMAN. Madam, Miſs Autumn ſends to acquaint your Ladyſhip, that the coffee is upon the table.
LADY AUTUMN. What an unſeaſonable interruption! (aſide). — Mr. Freeman, I do not think you have any great inclination for coffee?
COURTENEY. Indeed I have, Madam; I will attend your Ladyſhip (offering his hand).
LADY AUTUMN. I proteſt he trembles; all this inconſiſtency is nothing but extreme reſpect aſide —Come, Sir, we will talk of this affair another time.
Exeunt Courteney and Lady Autumn.END OF THE SECOND ACT.
END OF THE THIRD ACT.
Miſs Autumn and her Woman.
MISS AUTUMN. I AM aſtoniſhed! — Leave me to-morrow morning, and return to her aunt! What can have occaſioned this ſudden reſolution? Sure Lady Autumn has not affronted her!—Betty—
MISS AUTUMN. Have you obſerved any coldneſs lately between Lady Autumn and Miſs D'Arcy?—She talks of leaving me to-morrow. I am afraid ſhe has taken ſome diſguſt.
BETTY. O, dear Ma'am, you are quite miſtaken; Miſs D'Arcy has other thoughts in her head.
MISS AUTUMN. Other thoughts! What do you mean?
BETTY. Lord, Ma'am, I mean nothing, not I; but I know—
MISS AUTUMN. What do you know?
BETTY. Nay, Ma'am, I know nothing, not I;—but I have ſeen ſomething, and I have been told ſomething.
BETTY. For that matter, Ma'am, nobody knows how to keep a ſecret better than I do.
MISS AUTUMN. Oh! if you have been truſted with a ſecret—I ſhall not tempt you to betray it, I aſſure you.—Go, and tell Miſs D'Arcy, that I wiſh to ſpeak with her here—
BETTY. Depend upon it, Ma'am, Miſs D'Arcy will confeſs nothing; ſhe has carried this matter too cloſely.
MISS AUTUMN. You would fain diſcloſe this ſecret, I perceive; but I will not gratify my curioſity at the expence of your fidelity.—Go, and deliver my meſſage.
BETTY. Nay, Ma'am, ſince you will have it—though, I am ſure, I never thought to have told—
MISS AUTUMN. Be gone, impertinent; I will not hear you.
BETTY. Nay, Ma'am, what I know is no great matter; it is only, that Mr. Freeman is in love with Miſs D'Arcy.
MISS AUTUMN. What is that you ſay? Come back—Mr. Freeman in love with Miſs D'Arcy! impoſſible!
BETTY. Oh, dear Ma'am, why impoſſible? Miſs D'Arcy is a fine young lady; and, to be ſure, Mr. Freeman doats upon her.
BETTY. I would have told you before, Ma'am; but you were ſo nice about betraying a ſecret—you would not hear me.
MISS AUTUMN. That is true;—but this is a ſecret which ought not to be concealed. You know, Miſs D'Arcy is my friend—ſhe may be taking ſome raſh ſtep.—It is fit I ſhould enquire into this matter.—So, Mr. Freeman is her lover, then? ſighs.
BETTY. Yes, Ma'am, I am ſure he is; for you muſt know, Ma'am, that they met here, in this very room, to-day: I ſaw them with my own eyes;—I was paſſing by the door when they were in earneſt diſcourſe.—Now, I abhor liſtening, Ma'am—I am above it:—ſo I ſtood ſtill, and ſhut the door halfway, that they might not ſee me; but I could ſcarcely hear a word they ſaid—they talked ſo low. —At laſt, I ſaw Miſs D'Arcy burſt into tears; and preſently afterwards, Mr. Freeman threw his arms about her neck, and kiſſed her.
MISS AUTUMN. Kiſſed her! and did ſhe ſuffer that?
BETTY. Yes, indeed, did ſhe, Ma'am; and kiſſed him again, very cordially too.
MISS AUTUMN. Amazement! Her motive for leaving me is now too plain.
BETTY. To be ſure, Ma'am. Why, Ma'am, Mr. Freeman is to go along with her.
BETTY. Why, Ma'am, you muſt know that Mr. William, Mr. Freeman's ſervant—his gentleman, I ſhould ſay; for he is above wearing a livery—
MISS AUTUMN. What is that to the purpoſe? Go on—
BETTY. I hope you will excuſe me, Ma'am;—but Mr. William has for ſome days made his addreſſes to me, upon honourable terms.
MISS AUTUMN. Abſurd creature! What then?
BETTY. He told me, Ma'am, under a promiſe of ſecreſy, that his maſter was certainly going to ſteal a marriage with Miſs D'Arcy; for that he had ordered him to hire a poſt-chaiſe for her; that he was to attend her as far as London, and Mr. Freeman was to join them there; but where they were to proceed afterwards, he did not know.
MISS AUTUMN. It is certainly ſo!—What a dupe have I been all this time!—Treacherous Harriet!
BETTY. If I had thought this news would have diſcompoſed you ſo much, Ma'am, I would not have told you.
MISS AUTUMN. Diſcompoſed! What is it to me whom Mr. Freeman marries?—Leave me.
[Page 37] MISS AUTUMN
(alone).Diſcompoſed!—yes, I feel it but too ſenſibly.— Ungrateful Harriet! But why do I complain of her? Have I not always affected to deſpiſe this man? laughed at, and raillied him continually? He is coming! Let me laugh and railly ſtill. Let me conceal my weakneſs at leaſt.— It will not be! I cannot look at him without betraying myſelf.
COURTENEY. Miſs Autumn, you are wanted at the quadrilletable.
MISS AUTUMN. I ſhall not play to-night, Sir. Exit.
COURTENEY. That was ſpoke in a peeviſh tone—I am ſure:— her eyes ſeemed full of tears too. Can that impenetrable heart have feelings! Charming creature! She only wants a little ſenſibility to make her irreſiſtible.
Enter Lord Clairville.
CLAIRVILLE. I am in no humour to play this evening—dear Courteney, take my place—
COURTENEY. That you may have an opportunity of entertaining Miſs D'Arcy.—Is it not ſo, my Lord?
CLAIRVILLE. I confeſs it is. But why muſt I find you eternally in my way? What is it you apprehend?
COURTENEY. Great inconveniences, from this attachment, my Lord; and I think it my duty to oppoſe it.
[Page 38] CLAIRVILLE. I muſt diſſemble with him (aſide). —What! do you imagine I am weak enough to be honourably in love with this girl?
COURTENEY. Ha! and do you own, my Lord, you have diſhonourable deſigns upon this girl, as you call her?
CLAIRVILLE. Why, if I had, what then?
COURTENEY. What then! confuſion! diſhonourable deſigns upon—upon—this is too much, my Lord. Let us talk no more upon this ſubject.
CLAIRVILLE. This is aſtoniſhing! By Heaven, his colour changes; what can this mean? aſide.
COURTENEY. My Lord, I muſt adviſe, nay I intreat, you to think no more of Miſs D'Arcy; you will find inſuperable difficulties in your way. Hereafter I will explain myſelf more fully.
bows, and exit.
CLAIRVILLE. Stay, Courteney; I inſiſt upon your explaining yourſelf now—gone!—what am I to think of this? he loves her himſelf perhaps—what then? does he expect I ſhould reſign her to him? has he been baſe enough?—no, that is not poſſible.
Enter Miſs Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. I thought Mr. Freeman had been with you, Sir?
MISS COURTENEY. I have a little buſineſs with him.
CLAIRVILLE. Buſineſs with Mr. Freeman! Madam? how long has Mr. Freeman been honoured with your confidence?
MISS COURTENEY. I always eſteemed Mr. Freeman. Sir.
CLAIRVILLE. Well, Madam, he is worthy of your eſteem.
MISS COURTENEY. He ſeems chagrined at ſomething (aſide). —Will you not join the company, Sir, in the next room?
CLAIRVILLE. Her looks are colder than uſual; but I will clear up all my doubts at once (aſide). —Indulge me with a few moments. Madam, while I intreat your pardon for having concealed my real name and circumſtances from you. I am now at liberty to declare myſelf, ſince my father, by this time, knows my reſolution never to marry the lady he deſigned for me.
MISS COURTENEY. What would he ſay? aſide.
CLAIRVILLE. My name is not Belmour; it is Clairville. I am ſon to the Earl of Belmont, and heir to his title and eſtate; but title and eſtate with you, I am ſure, will weigh nothing, if the man is unworthy. But if, as Belmour, I have been ſo fortunate as to [Page 40] gain your eſteem, you will not refuſe your hand to Clairville.
MISS COURTENEY. Generous youth! oh, my hard fate! aſide.
CLAIRVILLE. You turn from me; you anſwer me not. — Was it then a vain hope I flattered myſelf with, when I believed I was not diſagreeable to you?
MISS COURTEVEY. Oh! brother, what a taſk have you impoſed upon me! aſide.
CLAIRVILLE. Keep me not, dear Miſs D'Arcy, in this cruel ſuſpence—but why do I ſay ſuſpence?—your ſilence ſpeaks plainly enough—your affections are beſtowed upon another.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh! think not ſo, my Lord; my heart—
CLAIRVILLE. Go on, Madam, I conjure you.
MISS COURTENEY. Is ſenſible to your worth; but—
CLAIRVILLE. Finiſh the harſh ſentence, Madam; you love another.
MISS COURTENEY. Love another! oh, heavens! (aſide) — What can I ſay, my Lord? the honour you do me demands my moſt grateful acknowledgements; but there are obſtacles—
CLAIRVILLE. My father—he will conſent, perhaps—if not, he will forgive.
[Page 41] MISS COURTENEY. I underſtand you, my Lord. No, this can never be—there are difficulties which cannot be ſurmounted.—Yet do not ſuppoſe me ungrateful— inſenſible of—what am I going to ſay?—Think of me no more, my Lord, and obey the commands of your father.
Exit Miſs Courteney.
CLAIRVILLE. Think of her no more!—difficulties that never can be ſurmounted!—Courteney ſaid the very ſame words!—I fear it is too true that they love each other. Their ſecret conferences, the ſimularity of their conduct, their mutual confuſion and reſerve, all contribute to heighten my ſuſpicions. Diſtraction! this double jealouſy of the objects both of my friendſhip and my love is intolerable.—Can then Courteney?—I cannot bear theſe doubts—I muſt and will be ſatisfied. Exit.
Enter Lady Autumn and Simple.
LADY AUTUMN. Did Betty tell you this?
SIMPLE. Yes, indeed, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. It cannot be—I will not believe it—I know I am the object of his ſecret affection.
SIMPLE. I would lay ever ſo much, your Ladyſhip is miſtaken.
LADY AUTUMN. Simple, I begin to think you have not ſo much underſtanding as I once imagined you had.
LADY AUTUMN. Leave me. (exit Simple.) —Mr. Belmour, where have you been this half hour?
(with impatience.)Is Mr. Freeman gone home, Madam?
LADY AUTUMN. No, certainly; he ſups here to-night, and you too, I hope.—We will join him in the garden, he is there—but firſt, Mr. Belmour, I would aſk you a queſtion—do you ſuſpect your friend to be in love?
CLAIRVILLE. Ha! this may lead to a diſcovery (aſide). —I do, Madam.
LADY AUTUMN. You do?—well, that is candidly ſaid. And ſo do I (laughs). —Poor Freeman!—yes, he is in love; a perſon of the leaſt diſcernment in the world might have perceived his paſſion.
CLAIRVILLE. Then your Ladyſhip has perceived it?
LADY AUTUMN. His ſighs, his languiſhments, his tender aſſiduity.—Do you imagine all this could eſcape obſervation?
CLAIRVILLE. Yet it did mine—how have I been deceived?
CLAIRVILLE. Me, Madam! was it likely he would own his paſſion to me?
LADY AUTUMN. I think ſo; but you have found it out, however; and, I doubt not can gueſs the object.
(ſighing.)Yes, Madam, I believe I can—but your Ladyſhip knows, I am ſure.
LADY AUTUMN. I vow this is very provoking—know—yes, certainly, I know—that is, I can gueſs—but ſure you would not be ſo unpolite, as to oblige me to name her?
CLAIRVILLE. Well, Madam, I will name her then; but your Ladyſhip muſt condeſcend—
LADY AUTUMN. Condeſcend—bleſs me! you are leading me very far, methinks—I will not hear another word upon this ſubject —you are making conditions for your friend, I find;—but come, tell me what would you have me condeſcend to?
CLAIRVILLE. When I have named the lady, to tell me if I have gueſſed truly.
LADY AUTUMN. Well, I proteſt this is a very modeſt requeſt!— and to you would have me own—but name her— name her.
CLAIRVILLE. Miſs D'Arcy.
[Page 44] LADY AUTUMN
(looking diſappointed).Miſs D'Arcy! Is this your diſcernment? You never was more miſtaken in your life.
CLAIRVILLE. Am I miſtaken, Madam?
LADY AUTUMN. Certainly; but I know upon what grounds— Miſs D'Arcy has ſurprized us all, with a ſudden reſolution to go into the country to-morrow; and Miſs Autumn's tattling woman has told us, that it is at Mr. Freeman's inſtigation— that he has provided a poſt-chaiſe for her, and is to conduct her himſelf. She pretends to know this from his own ſervant—idle ſtuff—but we will railly him upon it.
CLAIRVILLE. So! it is all out; perſidious Courteney! Aſide.
LADY AUTUMN. Well, what do you think of this abſurd report?
CLAIRVILLE. That it may poſſibly be true, Madam; for you ſay Miſs D'Arcy is to leave you to-morrow.
LADY AUTUMN. Yes, but not to ſteal a marriage with Mr. Freeman. Ha! ha! ha! how people may be deceived! Do you underſtand the language of the eyes, Mr. Belmour?
CLAIRVILLE. The language of the eyes, Madam?
LADY AUTUMN. If you did, you would not have been ſo much miſtaken with regard to your friend's attachment; your ſuſpicions would have fallen ſomewhere elſe, I aſſure you.—Come, ſhall we take the air in the garden? The ſun is almoſt ſet.
LADY AUTUMN. You will find him in the garden — I will bring you to him.
CLAIRVILLE. I will follow you. Madam. (Exeunt Lady Autumn and Simple). Perfidious Courtney! it is too plain he has ſupplanted me, baſely ſupplanted me; and the ſtory he has told me of his ſiſter was invented to excuſe his ſudden abſence. Is this the friend who poſſeſſed more than a brother's part of my affections? I have been his dupe, his bubble: I will find him inſtantly, acquaint him with my detection of his perfidy, and demand ſatisfaction.
END OF THE FOURTH ACT.
Enter Courteney and Miſs Courteney talking.
COURTENEY. YES, my dear ſiſter, I agree with you that Lord Clairville has acted with great delicacy; and this frank offer of his hand is a proof that his eſteem of you is equal to his love—but do not carry your gratitude too far; do not encourage ſentiments that muſt be ſuppreſſed: the Earl of Belmont will never conſent to your marriage—I am bound by honour to prevent it—endeavour then to baniſh him from your thoughts.
MISS COURTENEY. To baniſh him from my thoughts, is—perhaps— not in my power; but never to be his without your approbation, I can, and do promiſe, becauſe I am convinced you ought to act as you do.
COURTENEY. And you hold to your reſolution of going tomorrow?
MISS COURTENEY. I do.
COURTENEY. How does this generous ſelf-denial endear you to me! Believe me, my dear Harriet, it wrings my ſoul to be obliged thus to oppoſe your happineſs— were any thing leſs than my honour at ſtake— but you are juſt enough to perceive the reaſonableneſs of my conduct.
[Page 47] MISS COURTENEY. No more, I beg you, on this ſubject—but tell me, when you will permit me to regain the confidence of my friend?
COURTENEY. Whom do you mean?
MISS COURTENEY. Miſs Autumn—my ſudden reſolution to leave her to-morrow, without being able to give her a ſatisfactory reaſon for it; and your deſign of conducting me yourſelf, having by ſome means or other come to her knowledge, ſhe ſuſpects you are my lover, and her reſentment—
COURTENEY. Reſentment! does the ſuſpicion of my being your lover give her any concern?
MISS COURTENEY. I am to blame; I have betrayed my friend's ſecret, without being ſure of his ſentiments for her.
COURTENEY. But tell me, dear Harriet, is it poſſible that Miſs Autumn can be jealous?
MISS COURTENEY. Jealous! what an inference has your vanity drawn! Miſs Courteney thinks I have entered into ſome engagements with you, and conſiders my not having communicated them to her, as a breach of our friendſhip.
(confuſed).Yes, to be ſure—that is very natural—then ſhe is angry—but, as you ſay, ſhe conſiders it as a breach of friendſhip—that indeed accounts for her [Page 48] anger. But tell me, Harriet, are Miſs Autumn's affections wholly diſengaged? is there not one happy man in the world who has been able to touch her heart?
MISS COURTENEY. Perhaps I may not tell you that; but I will tell you whoſe heart ſhe has touched.
COURTENEY. That is no great matter—whoſe?
MISS COURTENEY. Yours, brother.
COURTENEY. You may be miſtaken.
MISS COURTENEY. Am I miſtaken?
COURTENEY. No—now laugh if you will—but do not tell your friend; I would not ſwell her triumph, and be numbered in the liſt of her diſcarded admirers—
MISS COURTENEY. There is no danger of that, I believe.
COURTENEY. But what proofs have you of her partiality for me?
MISS COURTENEY. The ſtrongeſt in one of her temper; ſhe affects to hate you.
COURTENEY. That is a good ſign, I confeſs.
MISS COURTENEY. And me ſhe has ceaſed to love; now that ſhe ſuſpects me to be her rival. I can perceive her heart is torn with jealouſy, yet ſhe affects her uſual gaiety and unconcern—but indifference is of all [Page 49] diſpoſitions of the mind, the hardeſt to feign, and ſhe is too little practiſed in diſſimulation to feign it well.—I wiſh it were conſiſtent with your plan to own our ſecret.
COURTENEY. Do not preſs me on this ſubject;—my ſituation is already ſufficiently perplexing.—Should Lord Clairville ſuſpect you are my ſiſter—but I think I ſee him in the next walk.—Leave me, dear Harriet:— I would not have him find us alone.
Exit Miſs Courteney.
Enter Lord Clairville.
CLAIRVILLE. It was ſhe!—They ſeparated at my approach.— Both, both are perfidious— (aſide.)
COURTENEY. My Lord, you ſeem chagrined at ſomething!— What is the matter?
CLAIRVILLE. Aſk your own heart!—Have you dealt ingenuouſly with me, in regard to the lady who parted from you this moment?
CLAIRVILLE. I will ſpare you any further diſſimulation, Sir: I know all.
COURTENEY. I am ſorry for it, my Lord, becauſe it convinces me of my ſiſter's imprudence.—She has broke her word with me: weak girl! (aſide.)
[Page 50] CLAIRVILLE. Your ſiſter's imprudence!—Yes, that was one of your artifices, to furniſh you with an excuſe for quitting me—falſe, falſe Courteney!
COURTENEY. Forbear theſe unjuſt reproaches, my Lord.—By Heaven! till this day, I knew not that my ſiſter—
CLAIRVILLE. No more of your evaſions, Sir!—The ſtory you told me of your ſiſter, may, or may not be true: it matters not; though it is moſt likely it was feigned, to cover your deſigns upon Miſs D'Arcy.
COURTENEY. He knows her not yet, I find: ſhe has kept her promiſe—my generous ſiſter! (aſide.)
CLAIRVILLE. You knew my paſſion for Miſs D'Arcy!—Confiding in your friendſhip, my unſuſpecting heart truſted you without reſerve; and, while you were treacherouſly ſupplanting me in her affections, I was weak enough to believe that your eagerneſs of oppoſition, was the effect of a prudential regard to my intereſt.
COURTENEY. And ſo it was—ſo it is ſtill.—
CLAIRVILLE. Villain! 'tis falſe.—
COURTENEY. Ha! Villain!—He thinks I have wronged him.— But then this outrage.—Villain! 'tis too much—
CLAIRVILLE. Yes, Villain! I repeat the term, and will ſupport my aſſertion. Lead where you pleaſe, I will follow you.
[Page 51] COURTENEY
(after a pauſe).No, my Lord; I will neither lead nor follow you at preſent. You think I am your rival—think ſo ſtill.—After the treatment I have received from you, it would be mean to undeceive you.
CLAIRVILLE. Againſt ſuch plain, ſuch convincing circumſtances, what can you offer in your juſtification?
COURTENEY. Nothing—I will offer nothing;—and yet I could undeceive you with a ſingle word:—but you do not deſerve this condeſcenſion, my Lord—you, who have condemned your friend unheard—who have ſuffered a light, ill-grounded ſuſpicion to rob him of the merit of many years faithful attachment— injured, inſulted, and branded him with the name of Villain!—while he—but no more.—Hereafter you will know the motives upon which I have acted:—then, when ſhame and remorſe for your offence have intitled you to my forgiveneſs, then I may think you worthy of an explanation.
CLAIRVILLE. This language is very bold, Sir!—Sure, you forget—
COURTENEY. Oh, no—I remember you are a Lord; a title greatly inferior to that of a man of honour.—
CLAIRVILLE. How, Sir!
COURTENEY. My Lord, nobility is virtue, or it is nothing.
CLAIRVILLE. Well, grant it poſſible I may have wronged you by my ſuſpicions—anſwer me then one queſtion; is it true, that you go with Miſs D'Arcy to-morrow?
CLAIRVILLE. You own it?
COURTENEY. I do—and—
CLAIRVILLE. No more!—I am convinced!—Thou mean ſeducer!—But hope not to carry it thus triumphantly!—Within this half hour, meet me behind the garden-wall:—there, if I cannot obtain ſatisfaction from the man, I will at leaſt do juſtice on a coward!—
COURTENEY. Coward! My Lord, I'll meet you.
CLAIRVILLE. 'Tis well—I ſhall expect you. Exit Clairville.
(after a pauſe).In taking revenge, a man is only even with his enemy; in paſſing it over, he is ſuperior:—this ſounds well; the practice is ſomething difficult.— But is Lord Clairville my enemy?—a lover, and jealous! appearances ſtrong too, againſt me! But ſuch an outrage! Villain! Coward!
Enter Miſs Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh, brother! how greatly you diſtreſs me! I heard high words between Lord Clairville and you: he ſhot by me this moment, with looks inflamed with rage—ſcarce bowed to me in paſſing!—I fear you have quarreled.
COURTENEY. Calm yourſelf, dear Harriet; and conſide in my prudence.
[Page 53] MISS COURTENEY. Excuſe me, brother; but I cannot help telling you, that your prudence has hitherto produced nothing but confuſion: by ſome means or other, the whole family knows that I go under your conduct to-morrow.
COURTENEY. This muſt be owing to ſome imprudence—I doubt—
MISS COURTENEY. Your relation to me being a ſecret, this has raiſed a ſuſpicion of my having entered into a clandeſtine engagement with you: on this account, Miſs Autumn has withdrawn her friendſhip from me, Lord Clairville deſpiſes me, and you are become the object of his reſentment. All theſe inconveniences might have been prevented, had you declared yourſelf my brother.
COURTENEY. Perhaps not.—Obliged as I am in honour to oppoſe Lord Clairville's paſſion for you, had I acknowledged you to be my ſiſter, I ſhould have expoſed myſelf to importunities, which it would have been difficult to have rejected; and, after all, my conduct might have had the appearance of artifice.
MISS COURTENEY. My heart forebodes ſome misfortune!—Were it not better to own me now to Lord Clairville, than to leave him in a miſtake which draws his ſuſpicions on you?
COURTENEY. It is, indeed, unlucky that he ſhould ſuſpect me to be his rival: had he been more temperate, I believe I ſhould have undeceived him; but now an explanation would ſeem cowardice. walks aſide.
[Page 54] MISS COURTENEY
(aſide.)Ah! I perceive how it is. I muſt and will prevent it.—Lady Autumn! this is fortunate!
Enter Lady Autumn.
MISS COURTENEY. I beg of you, dear Madam, not to quit Mr. Freeman!—Something has happened—
LADY AUTUMN. What!—has he explained himſelf to you, then?
MISS COURTENEY. Explained himſelf to me, Madam! I find your Ladyſhip knows ſomething of the matter.
LADY AUTUMN. I believe I do.—
MISS COURTENEY. Then, Madam, you ſee the neceſſity of preventing—
LADY AUTUMN. I underſtand you.—Leave me with him.
MISS COURTENEY. If I can but ſee Lord Clairville before they meet again— aſide, and exit haſtily.
LADY AUTUMN. 'Tis ſo!—He has not had courage to declare his paſſion to me himſelf, and has employed her to mediate for him.—I think, I have carried punctilio far enough:—ſo reſpectful a flame deſerves—he ſees me, and advances.—Mr. Freeman, you have choſen the moſt retired part of the garden to walk in. Theſe ſhades are a nurſe for tender thoughts, as the poet ſays.
COURTENEY. My thoughts, Madam!—
[Page 55] LADY AUTUMN. Come, come—I have known your thoughts for ſome time: I know you love—I know, too, that you are beloved.
COURTENEY. And do you condeſcend to tell me ſo, Madam?
LADY AUTUMN. I do; and yet perhaps I ought not: but your reſpectful ſilence has had its weight with me, I aſſure you.
COURTENEY. And has Miſs Autumn, Madam, conſented?
LADY AUTUMN. Miſs Autumn, though miſtreſs of her fortune by her father's will, has yet much to hope for from my favour:—ſhe will hardly preſume to offer any oppoſition; or, if ſhe ſhould—
COURTENEY. Ah! Madam, did you not this moment flatter me with the hope of being beloved?
LADY AUTUMN. Yes; you are beloved: I repeat it.
COURTENEY. Then, ſurely, no oppoſition is to be apprehended!—Your conſent ſecures my happineſs!— Thus let me thank your Ladyſhip—
kneels, and kiſſes her hand.
LADY AUTUMN. Oh! riſe—Theſe raptures!—Yet methinks he ſcarcely touched my hand—what invincible reſpect! (aſide.)
FOOTMAN. Madam, the Earl of Belmont is at the gate, and ſends to know if your Ladyſhip is at home?
LADY AUTUMN. The Earl of Belmont! I hardly know him.— Admit his Lordſhip. What can this viſit mean?
COURTENEY. 'Tis ſtrange, yet it is lucky.— (aſide.) Nothing could happen more fortunate for me. Madam, than my Lord Belmont's viſit. Whatever be the occaſion of it, his Lordſhip can acquaint you with ſome particulars relating to my family and character, which it is neceſſary you ſhould know; and which will ſerve to ſhew you, that I am not wholly unworthy of the honour you deſign me.
LADY AUTUMN. I am impatient 'till I ſee him.—Adieu!
Exit Lady Autumn.
Enter Miſs Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. Sure, never was any thing ſo unfortunate! Lord Clairville is not to be found.
COURTENEY. My dear ſiſter, I have the moſt ſurprizing news to tell you!—
MISS COURTENEY. It is good news, then; for you look pleaſed.
COURTENEY. Lady Autumn is the moſt generous woman in the world! and I am the happieſt of men!—
MISS COURTENEY. What do you mean?
[Page 57] COURTENEY. Would you think it? Your dear, ſaucy, tormenting, lovely friend, has owned an inclination for me to her ſtep-mother; and this paragon of ſtep-mothers, overlooking the inequality of fortune, is determined to make us happy, and has promiſed me her hand.
MISS COURTENEY. You amaze me!
COURTENEY. 'Tis true! and juſt at the moment when I was preparing to acquaint her with my real name, Lord Belmont arrives; from whom the diſcovery will come with more advantage.
MISS COURTENEY. Lord Belmont here! my fears of a quarrel are at an end.—I ſuppoſe I am now at liberty to convince Miſs Autumn that I cannot be her rival?—She promiſed to join me in the garden.—
COURTENEY. Paint, if you can, your brother's tranſports; and obtain me permiſſion to throw myſelf at her feet. Mean time, I will attend Lord Belmont, who is doubtleſs come hither in ſearch of his ſon: our little excurſion will draw ſome reproaches from him; but, when he knows all, I ſhall be juſtified in his opinion. As for you, my dear Harriet, your conduct has been ſo generous—
MISS COURTENEY. No more on this ſubject, I intreat you.—I ſhall be impatient to know what paſſes between [Page 58] the Earl and you.—You will find me here in the garden.
COURTENEY. I'll come to you.—Adieu.
Enter Lady Autumn and Lord Belmont.
LADY AUTUMN. WHAT you tell me, my Lord, ſurpriſes me greatly; your ſon here in Windſor, under a borrowed name, and a conſtant viſitor at my houſe—what an adventure!
LORD BELMONT. It is very true, Madam; he left Paris with his governor ſome weeks ago, without acquainting me with their intention; and, as I am informed, have paſſed the greateſt part of their time here.—Are there not two young gentlemen, who viſit your Ladyſhip under the names of Belmour and Freeman?
LADY AUTUMN. Pray, my Lord, which of them is your ſon?
LORD BELMONT. He who calls himſelf Belmour; the other is his governor, a young man of a good family, but low fortunes, whoſe father was my friend; and upon that account, as well as for the good qualities I obſerved in him, I determined to take care of his fortune; I placed him at the univerſity of Leyden, and, when he had finiſhed his ſtudies, ſent him to travel with my ſon, to whoſe care I confided him—young as he is, his merit juſtified my choice of him for this truſt.
[Page 60] LADY AUTUMN. No doubt of it, my Lord;—all the world muſt approve of your choice; Mr. Freeman's merit— but Freeman is not his name, your Lordſhip ſays?
LORD BELMONT. No, Madam; Courteney is his real name.
LADY AUTUMN. Courteney!—your Lordſhip had reaſon to ſay he is of a good family!—Courteney is a name that any perſon might be proud to own.
LORD BELMONT. And he always ſupported the honour of it till now.
LADY AUTUMN. 'Till now, my Lord;—I am ſorry—your Lordſhip muſt excuſe me—but any imputation caſt upon Mr. Freeman—Mr. Courteney, I mean—
LORD BELMONT. I ſee, Madam, you are prejudiced in his favour; I am not ſurpriſed at it—Courteney has many good qualities; but to me he has ſhewn himſelf ungrateful. I confided my ſon to his care; and he has either led him into this miſconduct, or has concurred with him in it; either way he has betrayed his truſt.
LADY AUTUMN. A youthful frolic; perhaps love.
LORD BELMONT. Aye, Madam, that is what I apprehend.—Your Ladyſhip muſt excuſe me; but, although Miſs Antumn is an accompliſhed young lady—
LADY AUTUMN. Your Lordſhip is extremely miſtaken; Miſs Autumn is not the object of Mr. Courteney's vows, I aſſure you.
[Page 61] LORD BELMONT. Mr. Courteney, Madam, is his own maſter: he may offer his vows where he pleaſes; but I perſuade myſelf your Ladyſhip will not encourage my ſon in a clandeſtine addreſs to Miſs Autumn, when you know that I have other views for him.— It was to tell you this, Madam, that I took the liberty to trouble you with a viſit.
LADY AUTUMN. I do aſſure you, my Lord, I know of no correſpondence between Lord Clairville and Miſs Autumn—I never expected to be conſulted by her upon theſe occaſions; a mother-in-law of my years cannot be ſuppoſed to have much authority over a girl of one and twenty.
Enter Simple haſtily.
SIMPLE. Oh! dear Madam, I am in ſuch a fright! I hope your Ladyſhip will excuſe me; but here is Mr. Belmour's ſervant, who tells us, that his maſter and Mr. Freeman have quarrelled, and are gone out to fight.
LORD BELMONT. What can this mean?—quarrelled!—with your leave. Madam—bid the fellow come hither.
LADY AUTUMN. It cannot be, my Lord; I left Mr. Courteney a few minutes ago.
WILLIAM. My old Lord here! we are all blown up. aſide.
WILLIAM. Pray, my Lord, pardon me; I am but a ſervant, and was obliged to obey the orders that were given me.
LORD BELMONT. What orders?
WILLIAM. I brought my young Lord his piſtols, as he commanded me; and, to be ſure, I believe ſome miſchief is going forwards; for I know my Lord and his governor have quarrelled: I overheard them in the garden; I was behind an hedge—a challenge paſſed between them; and my young Lord, meeting me, ſent me to bring his caſe of piſtols. I followed my Lord unobſerved, and ſaw which way he went; and ſome time afterwards I ſaw Mr. Courteney taking the ſame path.
LORD BELMONT. Bring me inſtantly to the place; I may yet prevent their raſhneſs.
Exeunt Lord Belmont and William.
Enter Miſs Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh! Madam, I thought my brother had been with you.
LADY AUTUMN. Your brother!—but this is no time for explanations. I'll follow Lord Belmont—my fears diſtract me. Exit Lady Autumn.
Enter Miſs Autumn.
MISS AUTUMN. Well, Madam, your coquetry has produced fine effects!—two of the moſt amiable young men in the world are this moment, perhaps, dying by each other's hand, and you the cauſe! —falſe woman!—
MISS COURTENEY. My coquetry! dear Charlotte. Mr. Freeman!
MISS AUTUMN. Name him not, would I had never ſeen him!— but you, how have you deceived me!—ſuch inſatiate vanity in one who pretended to be ſo far ſuperior to all the little foibles of her ſex!—who was continually preſſing her grave rebukes upon me, and throwing out moral ſentences at every turn— away—hypocriſy at eighteen—unnatural vice!
MISS COURTENEY. My dear Charlotte, theſe are unjuſt reproaches; I never was your rival—Mr. Freeman is my brother.
MISS AUTUMN. Freeman your brother!—Freeman Mr. Courteney!—how barbarouſly have I treated you!
MISS COURTENEY. Alas! perhaps I have no brother now; neither of us knew each other till this day, and then an accident—but I cannot enter into particulars—dear Charlotte, let us haſte—
[Page 64] MISS AUTUMN. Whither would you go, my dear? we ſhall have ſome intelligence preſently—all the ſervants are gone after them.
MISS COURTENEY. Shocking intelligence, perhaps!—oh! why have I concealed this fatal ſecret ſo long?
MISS AUTUMN. Why, indeed! but let me not blame you —I have been too raſh already in my cenſures.
MISS COURTENEY. Sure the ſight of Lord Belmont;— but he may come too late—I cannot bear this cruel ſuſpence any longer. going.
(ſtopping her.)Here is ſomebody coming—my dear, dear Harriet; I give you joy! your brother's ſafe, it is him—
Enter Mr. Courteney.
MISS COURTENEY. My brother—thank Heaven!—but oh! Lord Clairville (aſide) —what terrors have you cauſed us! where is your friend?
COURTENEY. Be not alarmed, my dear; nothing has happened —but the whole houſe is in ſtrange confuſion; how came this fooliſh affair to be known?—Miſs Autumn, ha! ſhe looks as if ſhe had been weeping, delightful thought! her fears perhaps for me. (Going up to Miſs Autumn) Will you pardon me, Madam, for the diſingenuity I have been guilty of, in appearing before you ſo long under a borrowed name? my ſiſter may have informed you that—
MISS AUTUMN. Your ſiſter, Sir, has been under too much anxiety for you to enter into explanations—my dear [Page 65] Harriet, when you have chid your brother ſufficiently for the fright he has put you into, come and give me the hiſtory of this pretty adventure, that I may know whether I ought to pardon him or not. Exit Miſs Autumn.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh! brother, what affliction would you have ſpared me, had you permitted me to undeceive Lord Clairville?
COURTENEY. As things were ſituated, it was not fit you ſhould.
MISS COURTENEY. But have you met?
COURTENEY. Yes, I met him; I thought I could not in honour avoid it.
MISS COURTENEY. Oh! Heavens—
COURTENEY. Be calm, and hear the event; he brought piſtols, and inſiſted upon my taking one; he then bid me fire: I refuſed, ſaying, that, as I was reſolved he ſhould in every point be the aggreſſor, he ſhould fire firſt; he did, and miſſed me, and on my ſoul I believe deſignedly; for by the changes in his countenance, I could perceive that grief, and not anger, was then the predominant paſſion in his mind—my turn was next; I fired my piſtol in the air, then calmly told him, that his father was here, and that I would explain myſelf in his preſence; he ſpoke not a word, but bowed and left me, and we took different paths to the houſe—but tell me, dear Harriet, does Miſs Autumn ſeem to know her mother's favourable intentions? has ſhe acknowledged any thing to you?
[Page 66] MISS COURTENEY. I have ſeen her but for a few moments ſince you left me, and neither of us was then in a humour to enter upon a diſcourſe of that kind; but now that ſhe knows who you are, ſhe will certainly have no reſerves to me.— Adieu! I am going to her.
Exit Miſs Courteney.
(alone.)Lady Autumn's generoſity is ſo ſurprizing, that it looks more like caprice than a deſign taken up upon reflection; I don't know what to make of it.
Enter Lord Belmont.
LORD BELMONT. So, Sir, you are here; I have been in ſearch of you: where is my ſon? How has your honourable rencounter ended?
COURTENEY. Not diſ-honourably, my Lord, for either of us— Lord Clairville will be here this moment, he will do me the juſtice to acknowledge that this affair was forced upon me.
LORD BELMONT. Ungrateful youth! and dare you own! to me too, dare you own a quarrel with my ſon?
COURTENEY. My Lord, I can no more ſuffer an injury, than I dare do one.
LORD BELMONT. This is the language of conſcious worth, and but ill becomes a man who has ſo baſely betrayed the truſt that was repoſed in him.
COURTENEY. Baſely betrayed my truſt, my Lord!
LORD BELMONT. Yes, Sir, baſely.
[Page 67] COURTENEY. This reproach, this unjuſt reproach, my Lord— but you have been my benefactor; I know how much that ſacred title claims from me—rail on, my Lord; you ſhall never force me to be ungrateful.
CLAIRVILLE. My father! how can I appear before you after what has paſſed? how can I hope for pardon?
LORD BELMONT. Riſe, Clairville; you have been to blame, but ſo have I; your fault has been the conſequence of my imprudent choice of a governor for you. You have forgot your duty, but he was your ſeducer.
CLAIRVILLE. No, my Lord; whatever reaſon I may have to complain of Mr. Courteney in one particular inſtance in which I only am concerned, yet let me juſtify to yourſelf your choice: he has in every reſpect fulfilled your intentions, and faithfully diſcharged the truſt which you repoſed in him.
LORD BELMONT. Faithfully diſcharged his truſt! he who could engage in licentious brawls with his pupil, and attempt the life of one committed to his care.
CLAIRVILLE. My Lord—
LORD BELMONT. Be ſilent, you can ſay nothing that can extenuate guilt like this. Mr. Courteney, after what has happened, you muſt not reckon upon my friendſhip—the ſalary I allowed you while travelling with my ſon, is yours for life—but we muſt meet no more; if you conſider the loſs of my protection [Page 68] as a misfortune, remember you have yourſelf only to blame for it.
COURTENEY. There is but one real misfortune, my Lord, which a man can ſuffer; and that is, when he is conſcious of a crime, and has any thing to reproach himſelf with. The ſalary your Lordſhip offers me I will not accept; judging of me as you do, you cannot mean it as a reward; and, low as my fortunes are, I will not be indebted to compaſſion, for that which your eſteem only ought to beſtow upon me. Lord Clairville, I promiſed you an explanation before your father; and—
CLAIRVILLE. Hold, Sir; it is but juſt that I ſhould firſt clear you of an imputation which cannot wound you, more than it has me.—My Lord, you have reproached Mr. Courteney without cauſe; he ſought not my life, but gave it me when in his power: I urged him with the moſt opprobrious terms to accept my challenge; and when my raſhneſs had given him an advantage, he forbore to take it.
LORD BELMONT. If this be true, I have wronged him, greatly wronged him.
CLAIRVILLE. Oh! Courteney, a treacherous rival and a generous enemy! how can you reconcile this contradiction?
COURTENEY. I never was your rival, my Lord; it is my ſiſter whom you have all this time addreſſed under the name of D'Arcy.
CLAIRVILLE. Miſs D'Arcy your ſiſter?
[Page 69] COURTENEY. Neither ſhe nor I knew this circumſtance till today, when an accident which I ſhall ever remember diſcovered us to each other. I oppoſed your paſſion for her at firſt through prudence; but, when I knew her to be my ſiſter, my honour was more immediately concerned, to prevent the continuance of an attachment which could never have the ſanction of your father's conſent; my ſiſter, with a ſpirit becoming her birth, adopted my ſentiments; ſhe refuſed your offered hand, and conſented that I ſhould conduct her where you could not have acceſs to her; hence roſe your jealouſy, and the conſequences that followed.
LORD BELMONT. Courteney, you have acted nobly in this affair.
COURTENEY. I have done my duty.
LORD BELMONT. But what brought your ſiſter hither? and why did ſhe conceal her name?
COURTENEY. She took refuge with Miſs Autumn from the bigotry of her aunt, who, not having been able to pervert her to the Roman Catholick religion by the offer of ſettling her whole fortune upon her, was laying ſchemes to entrap her into a convent.
LORD BELMONT. Something of this I heard before, and had determined to enquire into it.—Is Miſs Courteney ſtill here?
COURTENEY. She is, my Lord; but to-morrow I ſhall take her into the country; Lord Clairville will then, I hope, forget a ſlight impreſſion, which he will have no oppurtunity of increaſing.
[Page 70] LORD BELMONT. Generous youth!—Yet you have one more taſk to perform, worthy your diſintereſtedneſs:—engage my ſon—I know your influence over him—engage him to ſubmit to my choice.
CLAIRVILLE. Alas! my Lord, were it poſſible for me to ceaſe to love Miſs Courteney, your commands were ſufficient.—In this, and only in this one point, I cannot obey you.
LORD BELMONT. Courteney, I rely upon your honour.
COURTENEY. You may, my Lord, ſecurely.
LORD BELMONT. Worthy ſon of a father whom I loved and eſteemed! I will not intreat you to pardon the harſh treatment you have received from me, till I have made you an atonement equal to the injury.—I leave you to complete your reconciliation with your friend.
Exit Lord Belmont.
CLAIRVILLE. I ſcarce can look up to you, Courteney! —Such nobleneſs, ſuch generoſity, to fall under my mean ſuſpicions!—Can you forgive me?
COURTENEY. Let us exchange forgiveneſs, my Lord.—I was to blame for leaving you ſo long in a miſtake which occaſioned theſe ſuſpicions.
CLAIRVILLE. My friend! my brother!—yes, Courteney, it muſt be ſo—your ſiſter—
[Page 71] COURTENEY. Think of her no more, my Lord.—Are you not convinced, by what has paſt to-day, that you are not to expect my concurrence in this affair?
CLAIRVILLE. Alas! I am, indeed!—Yet leave your ſiſter to her own determination.
COURTENEY. My ſiſter is already determined.
CLAIRVILLE. I ſee I am doomed to be miſerable! There is no hope of obtaining my father's conſent; and your too rigid honour—
COURTENEY. Baniſh from your heart, then, a hopeleſs paſſion; and, if poſſible, bend your will to your father's choice.
CLAIRVILLE. Never. Do not urge me on that head: my reſolution is fixed.
Enter Lord Belmont, Lady Autumn, Miſs Autumn, Miſs Courteney, and Simple.
LADY AUTUMN. Oh! Mr. Freeman—Mr. Courteney, I mean— how have you diſtreſſed me! But I have pardoned you.
COURTENEY. Your Ladyſhip is all goodneſs.
Goes to Miſs Autumn. They talk apart.
LORD BELMONT. Clairville, you have ſtill my pardon to obtain. — May I promiſe myſelf that you will merit it, by ſubmitting to my will?
[Page 72] CLAIRVILLE. Alas! my Lord, what can I ſay? I have not a heart to beſtow: I can promiſe only a negative obedience—I will not diſpoſe of myſelf without your conſent; but—
LORD BELMONT. This you promiſe, then?
CLAIRVILLE. I do, my Lord. (ſighing.)
LORD BELMONT. 'Tis ſomething, though not all that I have a right to expect from you.
CLAIRVILLE. You have, indeed, my Lord, a right to expect my obedience in all things poſſible; but I can never—
LORD BELMONT. Make no raſh reſolutions, ſon; for I will be obeyed. Behold my choice!
(Taking Miſs Courteney's hand, and leading her towards him.)
CLAIRVILLE. My father! can this be real?
LORD BELMONT. Take her, Clairville; the beſt, the worthieſt gift a father can beſtow, a truly virtuous woman! She who could ſacrifice her fortune to her conſcience, and ſubject her inclinations to her duty; who could deſpiſe riches, and triumph over love; ſhe brings you in herſelf a treaſure more valuable than both the Indies. Take her, my ſon; and endeavour to deſerve her.
LORD BELMONT. Courteney, I have yet but half diſcharged the debt I owe you.—Generous young man! had I a daughter—but in all things, except the name, I am your father.
COURTENEY. All the gratitude, the reverence, the duty, that ſacred title claims, expect from me, my Lord.
LADY AUTUMN. Mr. Courteney, after ſuch a teſtimony to your merit, I need not bluſh to declare my intentions—
COURTENEY. I acknowledge your Ladyſhip's goodneſs.—You have permitted me to hope for favour here— (addreſſing himſelf to Miſs Autumn.) —How bleſt ſhould I be, if you, Madam, would confirm it!
LADY AUTUMN. How is this!
(half aſide to Miſs Autumn.)Now, dear Charlotte, do not play off any of your too agreeable airs.—Did you not, half an hour ago, own to me that—
(ſmiling.)Ah! do not betray me.—Well, Sir, ſince you have obtained my mama's conſent, though I cannot imagine how, I will not hazard the loſs of her favour by my diſobedience.—Here is my hand, ſince it muſt be ſo.
COURTENEY. Charming creature! to deſerve it, will be my glory.
aſide to her.
SIMPLE. No, indeed, Madam, you do not dream now; you are but juſt awake, and have been dreaming all this time—I always told your Ladyſhip, that if the gentleman was in love, it muſt be with one of the young ladies.
LADY AUTUMN. Confuſion!
COURTENEY. What can this diſorder mean? dear Madam, if I have been ſo unfortunate as to have offended you—
LADY AUTUMN. Ah, that ſeducing accent!—Simple, even at this moment might not one believe?—but I ſhall relapſe—lead me to my chamber—my Lord, a ſudden indiſpoſition—oh! what a deluſion!
Exeunt Lady Autumn and Simple.
COURTENEY. Here is ſome myſtery.
(aſide to Miſs Courteney.)I could unfold it, I believe.
(to Miſs Autumn.)Be not uneaſy, Madam; I take upon myſelf to reconcile Lady Autumn to your generous choice.
COURTENEY. Lord Clairville, I give you joy; and yet congratulations from me, on the completion of your [Page 75] wiſhes, may appear ſelf-intereſted; but, if my ſiſter continues to maintain thoſe ſentiments ſhe has this day manifeſted, the rectitude of her heart will, in ſome meaſure, atone for the inferiority of her rank and fortune. As for me, though perhaps I have proved myſelf rather too young to be your governor, I am yet old enough to be your friend, and ſhall ever be proud of that diſtinction, not from the conſideration of your wealth and honour; but becauſe I am convinced that you want neither example, nor precept to inſtruct you, that there are no characters ſo truly noble, as that of a woman of virtue, and a man of real honour.
WHAT! five long acts—and all to make us wiſer!
Our authoreſs ſure has wanted an adviſer.
Had ſhe conſulted me, ſhe ſhould have made
Her moral play a ſpeaking maſquerade.
Warm'd up each buſtling ſcene, and in her rage
Have emptied all the Green-room on the ſtage.
My life on't, this had kept her play from ſinking,
Have pleas'd our eyes, and ſav'd the pain of thinking.
Well, ſince ſhe thus has ſhewn her want of ſkill,
What if I give a maſquerade? I will.
But how! ay, there's the rub! (pauſing) I've got my cue:
The world's a maſquerade! the maſquers, you, you, you.
To Boxes, Pit, Gall.
Lud! what a groupe the motley ſcene diſcloſes!
Falſe wits, falſe wives, falſe virgins, and falſe ſpouſes:
Stateſmen with bridles on; and, cloſe beſide 'em,
Patriots, in party colour'd ſuits, that ride 'em.
There Hebes, turn'd of fifty, try once more,
To raiſe a flame in Cupids of threeſcore.
Theſe, in their turn, with appetites as keen,
Deſerting fifty, faſten on fifteen.
Miſs, not yet full fifteen, with fire uncommon,
Flings down her ſampler, and takes up the woman:
The little urchin ſmiles, and ſpreads her lure,
And tries to kill ere ſhe's got power to cure.
Thus 'tis with all—Their chief and conſtant care
Is to ſeem every thing—but what they are.
Yon broad, bold, angry, ſpark, I fix my eye on,
Who ſeems t' have robb'd his vizor from the lion,
Who frowns, and talks, and ſwears, with round parade.
Looking, as who ſhould ſay, Damme! who's afraid! mimicking.
Strip but his vizor off, and ſure I am,
You'll find his lionſhip a very lamb.
Yon politician, famous in debate,
Perhaps to vulgar eyes beſtrides the ſtate;
Yet, when he deigns his real ſhape t' aſſume,
He turns old woman, and beſtrides a broom.
Yon patriot too, who preſſes on your ſight,
And ſeems to every gazer all in white;
If with a bribe his candour you attack,
He bows, turns round, and whip—the man's a black!
Yon critic too—but whither do I run?
If I proceed, our bard will be undone!
Well then, a truce, ſince ſhe requeſts it too;
Do you ſpare her, and I'll for once ſpare you.