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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb IV by Charles and Mary Lamb

Part 5 out of 11

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Because, being the sweet and tender infancy of the day, methinks, it
should ill endure such early blightings.

DRUNKEN MAN
I grant you, 'tis in some sort the youth and tender nonage of the day.
Youth is bashful, and I give it a cup to encourage it. (_Sings_) "Ale
that will make Grimalkin prate."--At noon I drink for thirst, at night
for fellowship, but, above all, I love to usher in the bashful morning
under the auspices of a freshening stoop of liquor. (_Sings_) "Ale in a
Saxon rumkin then makes valour burgeon in tall men."--But, I crave
pardon. I fear I keep that gentleman from serious thoughts. There be
those that wait for me in the cellar.

WOODVIL
Who are they?

DRUNKEN MAN
Gentlemen, my good friends, Cleveland, Delaval, and Truby. I know by
this time they are all clamorous for me. (_Exit, singing._)

WOODVIL
This keeping of open house acquaints a man with strange companions.

(Enter, at another door, Three calling for Harry Freeman._)

Harry Freeman, Harry Freeman.
He is not here. Let us go look for him.
Where is Freeman?
Where is Harry?

(_Exeunt the Three, calling for Freeman._)

WOODVIL
Did you ever see such gentry? (_laughing_). These are they that fatten
on ale and tobacco in a morning, drink burnt brandy at noon to promote
digestion, and piously conclude with quart bumpers after supper, to
prove their loyalty.

LOVEL
Come, shall we adjourn to the Tennis Court?

WOODVIL
No, you shall go with me into the gallery, where I will shew you the
_Vandyke_ I have purchased. "The late King taking leave of his
children."

LOVEL
I will but adjust my dress, and attend you. (_Exit Lovel._)

JOHN WOODVIL (_alone_)
Now Universal England getteth drunk
For joy that Charles, her monarch, is restored:
And she, that sometime wore a saintly mask,
The stale-grown vizor from her face doth pluck,
And weareth now a suit of morris bells,
With which she jingling goes through all her towns and villages.
The baffled factions in their houses sculk:
The common-wealthsman, and state machinist,
The cropt fanatic, and fifth-monarchy-man,
Who heareth of these visionaries now?
They and their dreams have ended. Fools do sing,
Where good men yield God thanks; but politic spirits,
Who live by observation, note these changes
Of the popular mind, and thereby serve their ends.
Then why not I? What's Charles to me, or Oliver,
But as my own advancement hangs on one of them?
I to myself am chief.--I know,
Some shallow mouths cry out, that I am smit
With the gauds and shew of state, the point of place,
And trick of precedence, the ducks, and nods,
Which weak minds pay to rank. 'Tis not to sit
In place of worship at the royal masques,
Their pastimes, plays, and Whitehall banquetings,
For none of these,
Nor yet to be seen whispering with some great one,
Do I affect the favours of the court.
I would be great, for greatness hath great _power_,
And that's the fruit I reach at.--
Great spirits ask great play-room. Who could sit,
With these prophetic swellings in my breast,
That prick and goad me on, and never cease,
To the fortunes something tells me I was born to?
Who, with such monitors within to stir him,
Would sit him down, with lazy arms across,
A unit, a thing without a name in the state,
A something to be govern'd, not to govern,
A fishing, hawking, hunting, country gentleman?
(_Exit_.)

SCENE.--_Sherwood Forest_.

SIR WALTER WOODVIL. SIMON WOODVIL.
(_Disguised as Frenchmen_.)

SIR WALTER
How fares my boy, Simon, my youngest born,
My hope, my pride, young Woodvil, speak to me?
Some grief untold weighs heavy at thy heart:
I know it by thy alter'd cheer of late.
Thinkest, thy brother plays thy father false?
It is a mad and thriftless prodigal,
Grown proud upon the favours of the court;
Court manners, and court fashions, he affects,
And in the heat and uncheck'd blood of youth,
Harbours a company of riotous men,
All hot, and young, court-seekers, like himself,
Most skilful to devour a patrimony;
And these have eat into my old estates,
And these have drain'd thy father's cellars dry;
But these so common faults of youth not named,
(Things which themselves outgrow, left to themselves,)
I know no quality that stains his honor.
My life upon his faith and noble mind,
Son John could never play thy father false.

SIMON
I never thought but nobly of my brother,
Touching his honor and fidelity.
Still I could wish him charier of his person,
And of his time more frugal, than to spend
In riotous living, graceless society,
And mirth unpalatable, hours better employ'd
(With those persuasive graces nature lent him)
In fervent pleadings for a father's life.

SIR WALTER
I would not owe my life to a jealous court,
Whose shallow policy I know it is,
On some reluctant acts of prudent mercy,
(Not voluntary, but extorted by the times,
In the first tremblings of new-fixed power,
And recollection smarting from old wounds,)
On these to build a spurious popularity.
Unknowing what free grace or mercy mean,
They fear to punish, therefore do they pardon.
For this cause have I oft forbid my son,
By letters, overtures, open solicitings,
Or closet-tamperings, by gold or fee,
To beg or bargain with the court for my life.

SIMON
And John has ta'en you, father, at your word,
True to the letter of his paternal charge.

SIR WALTER
Well, my good cause, and my good conscience, boy,
Shall be for sons to me, if John prove false.
Men die but once, and the opportunity
Of a noble death is not an every-day fortune:
It is a gift which noble spirits pray for.

SIMON
I would not wrong my brother by surmise;
I know him generous, full of gentle qualities,
Incapable of base compliances,
No prodigal in his nature, but affecting
This shew of bravery for ambitious ends.
He drinks, for 'tis the humour of the court,
And drink may one day wrest the secret from him,
And pluck you from your hiding place in the sequel.

SIR WALTER
Fair death shall be my doom, and foul life his.
Till when, we'll live as free in this green forest
As yonder deer, who roam unfearing treason:
Who seem the Aborigines of this place,
Or Sherwood theirs by tenure.

SIMON
'Tis said, that Robert Earl of Huntingdon,
Men call'd him Robin Hood, an outlaw bold,
With a merry crew of hunters here did haunt,
Not sparing the king's venison. May one believe
The antique tale?

SIR WALTER

There is much likelihood,
Such bandits did in England erst abound,
When polity was young. I have read of the pranks
Of that mad archer, and of the tax he levied
On travellers, whatever their degree,
Baron, or knight, whoever pass'd these woods,
Layman, or priest, not sparing the bishop's mitre
For spiritual regards; nay, once, 'tis said,
He robb'd the king himself.

SIMON
A perilous man. (_Smiling_.)

SIR WALTER
How quietly we live here,
Unread in the world's business,
And take no note of all its slippery changes.
'Twere best we make a world among ourselves,
A little world,
Without the ills and falsehoods of the greater:
We two being all the inhabitants of ours,
And kings and subjects both in one.

SIMON
Only the dangerous errors, fond conceits,
Which make the business of that greater world,
Must have no place in ours:
As, namely, riches, honors, birth, place, courtesy,
Good fame and bad, rumours and popular noises,
Books, creeds, opinions, prejudices national,
Humours particular,
Soul-killing lies, and truths that work small good,
Feuds, factions, enmities, relationships,
Loves, hatreds, sympathies, antipathies,
And all the intricate stuff quarrels are made of.

(_Margaret enters in boy's apparel_.)

SIR WALTER
What pretty boy have we here?

MARGARET
_Bon jour, messieurs_. Ye have handsome English faces,
I should have ta'en you else for other two,
I came to seek in the forest.

SIR WALTER
Who are they?

MARGARET
A gallant brace of Frenchmen, curled monsieurs,
That, men say, haunt these woods, affecting privacy,
More than the manner of their countrymen.

SIMON
We have here a wonder.
The face is Margaret's face.

SIR WALTER
The face is Margaret's, but the dress the same
My Stephen sometimes wore.

(_To Margaret_)

Suppose us them; whom do men say we are?
Or know you what you seek?

MARGARET
A worthy pair of exiles,
Two whom the politics of state revenge,
In final issue of long civil broils,
Have houseless driven from your native France,
To wander idle in these English woods,
Where now ye live; most part
Thinking on home, and all the joys of France,
Where grows the purple vine.

SIR WALTER
These woods, young stranger,
And grassy pastures, which the slim deer loves,
Are they less beauteous than the land of France,
Where grows the purple vine?

MARGARET
I cannot tell.
To an indifferent eye both shew alike.
'Tis not the scene,
But all familiar objects in the scene,
Which now ye miss, that constitute a difference.
Ye had a country, exiles, ye have none now;
Friends had ye, and much wealth, ye now have nothing;
Our manners, laws, our customs, all are foreign to you,
I know ye loathe them, cannot learn them readily;
And there is reason, exiles, ye should love
Our English earth less than your land of France,
Where grows the purple vine; where all delights grow,
Old custom has made pleasant.

SIR WALTER
You, that are read
So deeply in our story, what are you?

MARGARET
A bare adventurer; in brief a woman,
That put strange garments on, and came thus far
To seek an ancient friend:
And having spent her stock of idle words,
And feeling some tears coming,
Hastes now to clasp Sir Walter Woodvil's knees,
And beg a boon for Margaret, his poor ward. (_Kneeling_.)

SIR WALTER
Not at my feet, Margaret, not at my feet.

MARGARET
Yes, till her suit is answer'd.

SIR WALTER
Name it.

MARGARET
A little boon, and yet so great a grace,
She fears to ask it.

SIR WALTER
Some riddle, Margaret?

MARGARET
No riddle, but a plain request.

SIR WALTER
Name it.

MARGARET
Free liberty of Sherwood,
And leave to take her lot with you in the forest.

SIR WALTER
A scant petition, Margaret, but take it,
Seal'd with an old man's tears.--
Rise, daughter of Sir Rowland.

(_Addresses them both._)

O you most worthy,
You constant followers of a man proscribed,
Following poor misery in the throat of danger;
Fast servitors to craz'd and penniless poverty,
Serving poor poverty without hope of gain;
Kind children of a sire unfortunate;
Green clinging tendrils round a trunk decay'd,
Which needs must bring on you timeless decay;
Fair living forms to a dead carcase join'd;--
What shall I say?
Better the dead were gather'd to the dead,
Than death and life in disproportion meet.--
Go, seek your fortunes, children.--

SIMON
Why, whither should we go?

SIR WALTER
_You_ to the Court, where now your brother John
Commits a rape on Fortune.

SIMON
Luck to John!
A light-heel'd strumpet, when the sport is done.

SIR WALTER
_You_ to the sweet society of your equals,
Where the world's fashion smiles on youth and beauty.

MARGARET
Where young men's flatteries cozen young maids' beauty,
There pride oft gets the vantage hand of duty,
There sweet humility withers.

SIMON
Mistress Margaret,
How fared my brother John, when you left Devon?

MARGARET
John was well, Sir.

SIMON
'Tis now nine months almost,
Since I saw home. What new friends has John made?
Or keeps he his first love?--I did suspect
Some foul disloyalty. Now do I know,
John has prov'd false to her, for Margaret weeps.
It is a scurvy brother.

SIR WALTER
Fie upon it.
All men are false, I think. The date of love
Is out, expired, its stories all grown stale,
O'erpast, forgotten, like an antique tale
Of Hero and Leander.

SIMON
I have known some men that are too general-contemplative for the narrow
passion. I am in some sort a _general_ lover.

MARGARET
In the name of the boy God, who plays at hood-man-blind with the Muses,
and cares not whom he catches: what is it _you_ love?

SIMON
Simply, all things that live,
From the crook'd worm to man's imperial form,
And God-resembling likeness. The poor fly,
That makes short holyday in the sun beam,
And dies by some child's hand. The feeble bird
With little wings, yet greatly venturous
In the upper sky. The fish in th' other element,
That knows no touch of eloquence. What else?
Yon tall and elegant stag,
Who paints a dancing shadow of his horns
In the water, where he drinks.

MARGARET
I myself love all these things, yet so as with a difference:--
for example, some animals better than others, some men
rather than other men; the nightingale before the cuckoo, the
swift and graceful palfrey before the slow and asinine mule.
Your humour goes to confound all qualities.
What sports do you use in the forest?--

SIMON
Not many; some few, as thus:--
To see the sun to bed, and to arise,
Like some hot amourist with glowing eyes,
Bursting the lazy bands of sleep that bound him,
With all his fires and travelling glories round him.
Sometimes the moon on soft night clouds to rest,
Like beauty nestling in a young man's breast,
And all the winking stars, her handmaids, keep
Admiring silence, while those lovers sleep.
Sometimes outstretcht, in very idleness,
Nought doing, saying little, thinking less,
To view the leaves, thin dancers upon air,
Go eddying round; and small birds, how they fare,
When mother Autumn fills their beaks with corn,
Filch'd from the careless Amalthea's horn;
And how the woods berries and worms provide
Without their pains, when earth has nought beside
To answer their small wants.
To view the graceful deer come tripping by,
Then stop, and gaze, then turn, they know not why,
Like bashful younkers in society.
To mark the structure of a plant or tree,
And all fair things of earth, how fair they be.

MARGARET (_smiling_)
And, afterwards them paint in simile.

SIR WALTER
Mistress Margaret will have need of some refreshment.
Please you, we have some poor viands within.

MARGARET
Indeed I stand in need of them.

SIR WALTER
Under the shade of a thick-spreading tree,
Upon the grass, no better carpeting,
We'll eat our noon-tide meal; and, dinner done,
One of us shall repair to Nottingham,
To seek some safe night-lodging in the town,
Where you may sleep, while here with us you dwell,
By day, in the forest, expecting better times,
And gentler habitations, noble Margaret.

SIMON
_Allons_, young Frenchman--

MARGARET
_Allons_, Sir Englishman. The time has been,
I've studied love-lays in the English tongue,
And been enamour'd of rare poesy:
Which now I must unlearn. Henceforth,
Sweet mother-tongue, old English speech, adieu;
For Margaret has got new name and language new.

(_Exeunt._)

ACT THE THIRD

SCENE.--_An Apartment of State in Woodvil Hall--Cavaliers drinking._

JOHN WOODVIL, LOVEL, GRAY, _and four more._

JOHN
More mirth, I beseech you, gentlemen--Mr. Gray, you are not merry.--

GRAY
More wine, say I, and mirth shall ensue in course. What! we have not yet
above three half-pints a man to answer for. Brevity is the soul of
drinking, as of wit. Despatch, I say. More wine. (_Fills._)

FIRST GENTLEMAN
I entreat you, let there be some order, some method, in our drinkings. I
love to lose my reason with my eyes open, to commit the deed of
drunkenness with forethought and deliberation. I love to feel the fumes
of the liquor gathering here, like clouds.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
And I am for plunging into madness at once. Damn order, and method, and
steps, and degrees, that he speaks of. Let confusion have her legitimate
work.

LOVEL
I marvel why the poets, who, of all men, methinks, should possess the
hottest livers, and most empyreal fancies, should affect to see such
virtues in cold water.

GRAY
Virtue in cold water! ha! ha! ha!--

JOHN
Because your poet-born hath an internal wine, richer than lippara or
canaries, yet uncrushed from any grapes of earth, unpressed in mortal
wine-presses.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
What may be the name of this wine?

JOHN
It hath as many names as qualities. It is denominated indifferently,
wit, conceit, invention, inspiration, but its most royal and
comprehensive name is _fancy_.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
And where keeps he this sovereign liquor?

JOHN
Its cellars are in the brain, whence your true poet deriveth
intoxication at will; while his animal spirits, catching a pride from
the quality and neighbourhood of their noble relative, the brain, refuse
to be sustained by wines and fermentations of earth.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
But is your poet-born alway tipsy with this liquor?

JOHN
He hath his stoopings and reposes; but his proper element is the sky,
and in the suburbs of the empyrean.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
Is your wine-intellectual so exquisite? henceforth, I, a man of plain
conceit, will, in all humility, content my mind with canaries.

FOURTH GENTLEMAN
I am for a song or a catch. When will the catches come on, the sweet
wicked catches?

JOHN
They cannot be introduced with propriety before midnight. Every man must
commit his twenty bumpers first. We are not yet well roused. Frank
Lovel, the glass stands with you.

LOVEL
Gentlemen, the Duke. (_Fills_.)

ALL
The Duke. (_They drink_.)

GRAY
Can any tell, why his Grace, being a Papist--

JOHN
Pshaw! we will have no questions of state now. Is not this his Majesty's
birth-day?

GRAY
What follows?

JOHN
That every man should sing, and be joyful, and ask no questions.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Damn politics, they spoil drinking.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
For certain,'tis a blessed monarchy.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
The cursed fanatic days we have seen! The times have been when swearing
was out of fashion.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
And drinking.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
And wenching.

GRAY
The cursed yeas and forsooths, which we have heard uttered, when a man
could not rap out an innocent oath, but strait the air was thought to be
infected.

LOVEL
'Twas a pleasant trick of the saint, which that trim puritan
_Swear-not-at-all Smooth-speech_ used, when his spouse chid him with an
oath for committing with his servant-maid, to cause his house to be
fumigated with burnt brandy, and ends of scripture, to disperse the
devil's breath, as he termed it.

ALL
Ha! ha! ha!

GRAY
But 'twas pleasanter, when the other saint _Resist-the-devil-
and-he-will-flee-from-thee Pure-man_ was overtaken in the act, to plead
an illusio visus, and maintain his sanctity upon a supposed power in the
adversary to counterfeit the shapes of things.

ALL
Ha! ha! ha!

JOHN
Another round, and then let every man devise what trick he can in his
fancy, for the better manifesting our loyalty this day.

GRAY
Shall we hang a puritan?

JOHN
No, that has been done already in Coleman-Street.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Or fire a conventicle?

JOHN
That is stale too.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
Or burn the assembly's catechism?

FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Or drink the king's health, every man standing upon his head naked?

JOHN (_to Lovel_)
We have here some pleasant madness.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
Who shall pledge me in a pint bumper, while we drink to the king upon
our knees?

LOVEL
Why on our knees, Cavalier?

JOHN (_smiling_)
For more devotion, to be sure. (_To a servant_.) Sirrah, fetch the gilt
goblets.

(_The goblets are brought. They drink the king's health, kneeling. A
shout of general approbation following the first appearance of the
goblets_.)

JOHN
We have here the unchecked virtues of the grape. How the vapours curl
upwards! It were a life of gods to dwell in such an element: to see,
and hear, and talk brave things. Now fie upon these casual potations.
That a man's most exalted reason should depend upon the ignoble
fermenting of a fruit, which sparrows pluck at as well as we!

GRAY (_aside to Lovel_)
Observe how he is ravished.

LOVEL
Vanity and gay thoughts of wine do meet in him and engender madness.

(_While the rest are engaged in a wild kind of talk, John advances to
the front of the stage and soliloquises_.)

JOHN
My spirits turn to fire, they mount so fast.
My joys are turbulent, my hopes shew like fruition.
These high and gusty relishes of life, sure,
Have no allayings of mortality in them.
I am too hot now and o'ercapable,
For the tedious processes, and creeping wisdom,
Of human acts, and enterprizes of a man.
I want some seasonings of adversity,
Some strokes of the old mortifier Calamity,
To take these swellings down, divines call vanity.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Mr. Woodvil, Mr. Woodvil.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Where is Woodvil?

GRAY
Let him alone. I have seen him in these lunes before. His abstractions
must not taint the good mirth.

JOHN (_continuing to soliloquize_)
O for some friend now,
To conceal nothing from, to have no secrets.
How fine and noble a thing is confidence,
How reasonable too, and almost godlike!
Fast cement of fast friends, band of society,
Old natural go-between in the world's business,
Where civil life and order, wanting this cement,
Would presently rush back
Into the pristine state of singularity,
And each man stand alone.

(_A Servant enters._)
Gentlemen, the fire-works are ready.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
What be they?

LOVEL
The work of London artists, which our host has provided in honour of
this day.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
'Sdeath, who would part with his wine for a rocket?

LOVEL
Why truly, gentlemen, as our kind host has been at the pains to provide
this spectacle, we can do no less than be present at it. It will not
take up much time. Every man may return fresh and thirsting to his
liquor.

THIRD GENTLEMAN
There is reason in what he says.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Charge on then, bottle in hand. There's husbandry in that.

(_They go out, singing. Only Level remains, who observes Woodvil_.)

JOHN (_still talking to himself_)
This Lovel here's of a tough honesty,
Would put the rack to the proof. He is not of that sort,
Which haunt my house, snorting the liquors,
And when their wisdoms are afloat with wine,
Spend vows as fast as vapours, which go off
Even with the fumes, their fathers. He is one,
Whose sober morning actions
Shame not his o'ernight's promises;
Talks little, flatters less, and makes no promises;
Why this is he, whom the dark-wisdom'd fate
Might trust her counsels of predestination with,
And the world be no loser.
Why should I fear this man?
(_Seeing Lovel_.)
Where is the company gone?

LOVEL
To see the fire-works, where you will be expected to follow. But I
perceive you are better engaged.

JOHN
I have been meditating this half-hour
On all the properties of a brave friendship,
The mysteries that are in it, the noble uses,
Its limits withal, and its nice boundaries.
_Exempli gratia_, how far a man
May lawfully forswear himself for his friend;
What quantity of lies, some of them brave ones,
He may lawfully incur in a friend's behalf;
What oaths, blood-crimes, hereditary quarrels,
Night brawls, fierce words, and duels in the morning,
He need not stick at, to maintain his friend's honor, or his cause.

LOVEL
I think many men would die for their friends.

JOHN
Death! why 'tis nothing. We go to it for sport,
To gain a name, or purse, or please a sullen humour,
When one has worn his fortune's livery threadbare,
Or his spleen'd mistress frowns. Husbands will venture on it,
To cure the hot fits and cold shakings of jealousy.
A friend, sir, must do more.

LOVEL
Can he do more than die?

JOHN
To serve a friend this he may do. Pray mark me.
Having a law within (great spirits feel one)
He cannot, ought not to be bound by any
Positive laws or ord'nances extern,
But may reject all these: by the law of friendship
He may do so much, be they, indifferently,
Penn'd statutes, or the land's unwritten usages,
As public fame, civil compliances,
Misnamed honor, trust in matter of secrets,
All vows and promises, the feeble mind's religion,
(Binding our morning knowledge to approve
What last night's ignorance spake);
The ties of blood withal, and prejudice of kin.
Sir, these weak terrors
Must never shake me. I know what belongs
To a worthy friendship. Come, you shall have my confidence.

LOVEL
I hope you think me worthy.

JOHN
You will smile to hear now--
Sir Walter never has been out of the island.

LOVEL
You amaze me.

JOHN
That same report of his escape to France
Was a fine tale, forg'd by myself--Ha! ha!
I knew it would stagger him.

LOVEL
Pray, give me leave.
Where has he dwelt, how liv'd, how lain conceal'd?
Sure I may ask so much.

JOHN
From place to place, dwelling in no place long,
My brother Simon still hath borne him company,
('Tis a brave youth, I envy him all his virtues.)
Disguis'd in foreign garb, they pass for Frenchmen,
Two Protestant exiles from the Limosin
Newly arriv'd. Their dwelling's now at Nottingham,
Where no soul knows them.

LOVEL
Can you assign any reason, why a gentleman of Sir Walter's known
prudence should expose his person so lightly?

JOHN
I believe, a certain fondness,
A child-like cleaving to the land that gave him birth,
Chains him like fate.

LOVEL
I have known some exiles thus
To linger out the term of the law's indulgence,
To the hazard of being known.

JOHN
You may suppose sometimes
They use the neighb'ring Sherwood for their sport,
Their exercise and freer recreation.--
I see you smile. Pray now, be careful.

LOVEL
I am no babbler, sir; you need not fear me.

JOHN
But some men have been known to talk in their sleep,
And tell fine tales that way.

LOVEL
I have heard so much. But, to say truth, I mostly sleep alone.

JOHN
Or drink, sir? do you never drink too freely?
Some men will drink, and tell you all their secrets.

LOVEL
Why do you question me, who know my habits?

JOHN
I think you are no sot,
No tavern-troubler, worshipper of the grape;
But all men drink sometimes,
And veriest saints at festivals relax,
The marriage of a friend, or a wife's birth-day.

LOVEL
How much, sir, may a man with safety drink? (_Smiling_.)

JOHN
Sir, three half pints a day is reasonable;
I care not if you never exceed that quantity.

LOVEL
I shall observe it;
On holidays two quarts.

JOHN
Or stay; you keep no wench?

LOVEL
Ha!

JOHN
No painted mistress for your private hours?
You keep no whore, sir?

LOVEL
What does he mean?

JOHN
Who for a close embrace, a toy of sin,
And amorous praising of your worship's breath,
In rosy junction of four melting lips,
Can kiss out secrets from you?

LOVEL
How strange this passionate behaviour shews in you!
Sure you think me some weak one.

JOHN
Pray pardon me some fears.
You have now the pledge of a dear father's life.
I am a son--would fain be thought a loving one;
You may allow me some fears: do not despise me,
If, in a posture foreign to my spirit,
And by our well-knit friendship I conjure you,
Touch not Sir Walter's life. (_Kneels_.)
You see these tears. My father's an old man.
Pray let him live.

LOVEL
I must be bold to tell you, these new freedoms
Shew most unhandsome in you.

JOHN (_rising_)
Ha! do you say so?
Sure, you are not grown proud upon my secret!
Ah! now I see it plain. He would be babbling.
No doubt a garrulous and hard-fac'd traitor--
But I'll not give you leave. (_Draws_.)

LOVEL
What does this madman mean?

JOHN
Come, sir; here is no subterfuge.
You must kill me, or I kill you.

LOVEL (_drawing_)
Then self-defence plead my excuse.
Have at you, sir. (_They fight_.)

JOHN
Stay, sir.
I hope you have made your will.
If not, 'tis no great matter.
A broken cavalier has seldom much
He can bequeath: an old worn peruke,
A snuff-box with a picture of Prince Rupert,
A rusty sword he'll swear was used at Naseby,
Though it ne'er came within ten miles of the place;
And, if he's very rich,
A cheap edition of the _Icon Basilike_,
Is mostly all the wealth he dies possest of.
You say few prayers, I fancy;--
So to it again. (_They fight again. Lovel is disarmed_.)

LOVEL
You had best now take my life. I guess you mean it.

JOHN (_musing_)
No:--Men will say I fear'd him, if I kill'd him.
Live still, and be a traitor in thy wish,
But never act thy thought, being a coward.
That vengeance, which thy soul shall nightly thirst for,
And this disgrace I've done you cry aloud for,
Still have the will without the power to execute.
So now I leave you,
Feeling a sweet security. No doubt
My secret shall remain a virgin for you!--
(_Goes out, smiling in scorn_.)

LOVEL (_rising_)
For once you are mistaken in your man.
The deed you wot of shall forthwith be done.
A bird let loose, a secret out of hand,
Returns not back. Why, then 'tis baby policy
To menace him who hath it in his keeping.
I will go look for Gray;
Then, northward ho! such tricks as we shall play
Have not been seen, I think, in merry Sherwood,
Since the days of Robin Hood, that archer good.

ACT THE FOURTH

SCENE.--_An Apartment in Woodvil Hall_.

JOHN WOODVIL (_alone_)
A weight of wine lies heavy on my head,
The unconcocted follies of last night.
Now all those jovial fancies, and bright hopes,
Children of wine, go off like dreams.
This sick vertigo here
Preacheth of temperance, no sermon better.
These black thoughts, and dull melancholy,
That stick like burrs to the brain, will they ne'er leave me?
Some men are full of choler, when they are drunk;
Some brawl of matter foreign to themselves;
And some, the most resolved fools of all,
Have told their dearest secrets in their cups.

SCENE.--_The Forest_.

SIR WALTER. SIMON. LOVEL. GRAY.

LOVEL
Sir, we are sorry we cannot return your French salutation.

GRAY
Nor otherwise consider this garb you trust to than as a poor disguise.

LOVEL
Nor use much ceremony with a traitor.

GRAY
Therefore, without much induction of superfluous words, I attach you,
Sir Walter Woodvil, of High Treason, in the King's name.

LOVEL
And of taking part in the great Rebellion against our late lawful
Sovereign, Charles the First.

SIMON
John has betrayed us, father.

LOVEL
Come, Sir, you had best surrender fairly. We know you, Sir.

SIMON
Hang ye, villains, ye are two better known than trusted. I have seen
those faces before. Are ye not two beggarly retainers,
trencher-parasites, to John? I think ye rank above his footmen. A sort
of bed and board worms--locusts that infest our house; a leprosy that
long has hung upon its walls and princely apartments, reaching to fill
all the corners of my brother's once noble heart.

GRAY
We are his friends.

SIMON
Fie, Sir, do not weep. How these rogues will triumph! Shall I whip off
their heads, father? (_Draws_.)

LOVEL
Come, Sir, though this shew handsome in you, being his son, yet the law
must have its course.

SIMON
And if I tell you the law shall not have its course, cannot ye be
content? Courage, father; shall such things as these apprehend a man?
Which of ye will venture upon me?--Will you, Mr. Constable self-elect?
or you, Sir, with a pimple on your nose, got at Oxford by hard drinking,
your only badge of loyalty?

GRAY
'Tis a brave youth--I cannot strike at him.

SIMON
Father, why do you cover your face with your hands? Why do you fetch
your breath so hard? See, villains, his heart is burst! O villains, he
cannot speak. One of you run for some water: quickly, ye knaves; will ye
have your throats cut? (_They both slink off_.) How is it with you, Sir
Walter? Look up, Sir, the villains are gone. He hears me not, and this
deep disgrace of treachery in his son hath touched him even to the
death. O most distuned, and distempered world, where sons talk their
aged fathers into their graves! Garrulous and diseased world, and still
empty, rotten and hollow _talking_ world, where good men decay, states
turn round in an endless mutability, and still for the worse, nothing is
at a stay, nothing abides but vanity, chaotic vanity.--Brother, adieu!

There lies the parent stock which gave us life,
Which I will see consign'd with tears to earth.
Leave thou the solemn funeral rites to me,
Grief and a true remorse abide with thee.

(_Bears in the body_.)

SCENE.--_Another Part of the Forest_.

MARGARET (_alone_)
It was an error merely, and no crime,
An unsuspecting openness in youth,
That from his lips the fatal secret drew,
Which should have slept like one of nature's mysteries,
Unveil'd by any man.
Well, he is dead!
And what should Margaret do in the forest?
O ill-starr'd John!
O Woodvil, man enfeoffed to despair!
Take thy farewell of peace.
O never look again to see good days,
Or close thy lids in comfortable nights,
Or ever think a happy thought again,
If what I have heard be true.--
Forsaken of the world must Woodvil live,
If he did tell these men.
No tongue must speak to him, no tongue of man
Salute him, when he wakes up in a morning;
Or bid "good-night" to John. Who seeks to live
In amity with thee, must for thy sake
Abide the world's reproach. What then?
Shall Margaret join the clamours of the world
Against her friend? O undiscerning world,
That cannot from misfortune separate guilt,
No, not in thought! O never, never, John.
Prepar'd to share the fortunes of her friend
_For better or for worse_ thy Margaret comes,
To pour into thy wounds a healing love,
And wake the memory of an ancient friendship.
And pardon me, thou spirit of Sir Walter,
Who, in compassion to the wretched living,
Have but few tears to waste upon the dead.

SCENE.--_Woodvil Hall_.

SANDFORD. MARGARET.

(_As from a Journey_.)

SANDFORD
The violence of the sudden mischance hath so wrought in him, who by
nature is allied to nothing less than a self-debasing humour of
dejection, that I have never seen any thing more changed and
spirit-broken. He hath, with a peremptory resolution, dismissed the
partners of his riots and late hours, denied his house and person to
their most earnest solicitings, and will be seen by none. He keeps ever
alone, and his grief (which is solitary) does not so much seem to
possess and govern in him, as it is by him, with a wilfulness of most
manifest affection, entertained and cherished.

MARGARET
How bears he up against the common rumour?

SANDFORD
With a strange indifference, which whosoever dives not into the niceness
of his sorrow might mistake for obdurate and insensate. Yet are the
wings of his pride for ever clipt; and yet a virtuous predominance of
filial grief is so ever uppermost, that you may discover his thoughts
less troubled with conjecturing what living opinions will say, and judge
of his deeds, than absorbed and buried with the dead, whom his
indiscretion made so.

MARGARET
I knew a greatness ever to be resident in him, to which the admiring
eyes of men should look up even in the declining and bankrupt state of
his pride. Fain would I see him, fain talk with him; but that a sense of
respect, which is violated, when without deliberation we press into the
society of the unhappy, checks and holds me back. How, think you, he
would bear my presence?

SANDFORD
As of an assured friend, whom in the forgetfulness of his fortunes he
past by. See him you must; but not to-night. The newness of the sight
shall move the bitterest compunction and the truest remorse; but
afterwards, trust me, dear lady, the happiest effects of a returning
peace, and a gracious comfort, to him, to you, and all of us.

MARGARET
I think he would not deny me. He hath ere this received farewell letters
from his brother, who hath taken a resolution to estrange himself, for a
time, from country, friends, and kindred, and to seek occupation for his
sad thoughts in travelling in foreign places, where sights remote and
extern to himself may draw from him kindly and not painful ruminations.

SANDFORD
I was present at the receipt of the letter. The contents seemed to
affect him, for a moment, with a more lively passion of grief than he
has at any time outwardly shewn. He wept with many tears (which I had
not before noted in him) and appeared to be touched with a sense as of
some unkindness; but the cause of their sad separation and divorce
quickly recurring, he presently returned to his former inwardness of
suffering.

MARGARET
The reproach of his brother's presence at this hour should have been a
weight more than could be sustained by his already oppressed and sinking
spirit.--Meditating upon these intricate and wide-spread sorrows, hath
brought a heaviness upon me, as of sleep. How goes the night?

SANDFORD
An hour past sun-set. You shall first refresh your limbs (tired with
travel) with meats and some cordial wine, and then betake your no less
wearied mind to repose.

MARGARET
A good rest to us all.

SANDFORD
Thanks, lady.

ACT THE FIFTH

JOHN WOODVIL (_dressing_).

JOHN
How beautiful, (_handling his mourning_)
And comely do these mourning garments shew!
Sure Grief hath set his sacred impress here,
To claim the world's respect! they note so feelingly
By outward types the serious man within.--
Alas! what part or portion can I claim
In all the decencies of virtuous sorrow,
Which other mourners use? as namely,
This black attire, abstraction from society,
Good thoughts, and frequent sighs, and seldom smiles,
A cleaving sadness native to the brow,
All sweet condolements of like-grieved friends,
(That steal away the sense of loss almost)
Men's pity, and good offices
Which enemies themselves do for us then,
Putting their hostile disposition off,
As we put off our high thoughts and proud looks.
(_Pauses, and observes the pictures_.)
These pictures must be taken down:
The portraitures of our most antient family
For nigh three hundred years! How have I listen'd,
To hear Sir Walter, with an old man's pride,
Holding me in his arms, a prating boy,
And pointing to the pictures where they hung,
Repeat by course their worthy histories,
(As Hugh de Widville, Walter, first of the name,
And Ann the handsome, Stephen, and famous John:
Telling me, I must be his famous John.)
But that was in old times.
Now, no more
Must I grow proud upon our house's pride.
I rather, I, by most unheard of crimes,
Have backward tainted all their noble blood,
Rased out the memory of an ancient family,
And quite revers'd the honors of our house.
Who now shall sit and tell us anecdotes?
The secret history of his own times,
And fashions of the world when he was young:
How England slept out three and twenty years,
While Carr and Villiers rul'd the baby king:
The costly fancies of the pedant's reign,
Balls, feastings, huntings, shows in allegory,
And Beauties of the court of James the First.

_Margaret enters._

JOHN
Comes Margaret here to witness my disgrace?
O, lady, I have suffer'd loss,
And diminution of my honor's brightness.
You bring some images of old times, Margaret,
That should be now forgotten.

MARGARET
Old times should never be forgotten, John.
I came to talk about them with my friend.

JOHN
I did refuse you, Margaret, in my pride.

MARGARET
If John rejected Margaret in his pride,
(As who does not, being splenetic, refuse
Sometimes old play-fellows,) the spleen being gone,
The offence no longer lives.
O Woodvil, those were happy days,
When we two first began to love. When first,
Under pretence of visiting my father,
(Being then a stripling nigh upon my age)
You came a wooing to his daughter, John.
Do you remember,
With what a coy reserve and seldom speech,
(Young maidens must be chary of their speech,)
I kept the honors of my maiden pride?
I was your favourite then.

JOHN
O Margaret, Margaret!
These your submissions to my low estate,
And cleavings to the fates of sunken Woodvil,
Write bitter things 'gainst my unworthiness.
Thou perfect pattern of thy slander'd sex,
Whom miseries of mine could never alienate,
Nor change of fortune shake; whom injuries,
And slights (the worst of injuries) which moved
Thy nature to return scorn with like scorn,
Then when you left in virtuous pride this house,
Could not so separate, but now in this
My day of shame, when all the world forsake me,
You only visit me, love, and forgive me.

MARGARET
Dost yet remember the green arbour, John,
In the south gardens of my father's house,
Where we have seen the summer sun go down,
Exchanging true love's vows without restraint?
And that old wood, you call'd your wilderness,
And vow'd in sport to build a chapel in it,
There dwell

"Like hermit poor
In pensive place obscure,"

And tell your Ave Maries by the curls
(Dropping like golden beads) of Margaret's hair;
And make confession seven times a day
Of every thought that stray'd from love and Margaret;
And I your saint the penance should appoint--
Believe me, sir, I will not now be laid
Aside, like an old fashion.

JOHN
O lady, poor and abject are my thoughts,
My pride is cured, my hopes are under clouds,
I have no part in any good man's love,
In all earth's pleasures portion have I none,
I fade and wither in my own esteem,
This earth holds not alive so poor a thing as I am.
I was not always thus. (_Weeps_.)

MARGARET
Thou noble nature,
Which lion-like didst awe the inferior creatures,
Now trampled on by beasts of basest quality,
My dear heart's lord, life's pride, soul-honor'd John,
Upon her knees (regard her poor request)
Your favourite, once-beloved Margaret, kneels.

JOHN
What would'st thou, lady, ever-honor'd Margaret?

MARGARET
That John would think more nobly of himself,
More worthily of high heaven;
And not for one misfortune, child of chance,
No crime, but unforeseen, and sent to punish
The less offence with image of the greater,
Thereby to work the soul's humility,
(Which end hath happily not been frustrate quite,)
O not for one offence mistrust heaven's mercy,
Nor quit thy hope of happy days to come--
John yet has many happy days to live;
To live and make atonement.

JOHN
Excellent lady,
Whose suit hath drawn this softness from my eyes,
Not the world's scorn, nor falling off of friends
Could ever do. Will you go with me, Margaret?

MARGARET (_rising_)
Go whither, John?

JOHN
Go in with me,
And pray for the peace of our unquiet minds?

MARGARET
That I will, John.--
(_Exeunt_.)

SCENE.--_An inner Apartment_.

(_John is discovered kneeling.--Margaret standing over him_.)

JOHN (_rises_)
I cannot bear
To see you waste that youth and excellent beauty,
('Tis now the golden time of the day with you,)
In tending such a broken wretch as I am.

MARGARET
John will break Margaret's heart, if he speak so.
O sir, sir, sir, you are too melancholy,
And I must call it caprice. I am somewhat bold
Perhaps in this. But you are now my patient,
(You know you gave me leave to call you so,)
And I must chide these pestilent humours from you.

JOHN
They are gone.--
Mark, love, how cheerfully I speak!
I can smile too, and I almost begin
To understand what kind of creature Hope is.

MARGARET
Now this is better, this mirth becomes you, John.

JOHN
Yet tell me, if I over-act my mirth.
(Being but a novice, I may fall into that error,)
That were a sad indecency, you know.

MARGARET
Nay, never fear.
I will be mistress of your humours,
And you shall frown or smile by the book.
And herein I shall be most peremptory,
Cry, "this shews well, but that inclines to levity,
This frown has too much of the Woodvil in it,
But that fine sunshine has redeem'd it quite."

JOHN
How sweetly Margaret robs me of myself!

MARGARET
To give you in your stead a better self!
Such as you were, when these eyes first beheld
You mounted on your sprightly steed, White Margery,
Sir Rowland my father's gift,
And all my maidens gave my heart for lost.
I was a young thing then, being newly come
Home from my convent education, where
Seven years I had wasted in the bosom of France:
Returning home true protestant, you call'd me
Your little heretic nun. How timid-bashful
Did John salute his love, being newly seen.
Sir Rowland term'd it a rare modesty,
And prais'd it in a youth.

JOHN
Now Margaret weeps herself.
(_A noise of bells heard_.)

MARGARET
Hark the bells, John.

JOHN
Those are the church bells of St. Mary Ottery.

MARGARET
I know it.

JOHN
Saint Mary Ottery, my native village
In the sweet shire of Devon.
Those are the bells.

MARGARET
Wilt go to church, John?

JOHN
I have been there already.

MARGARET
How canst say thou hast been there already? The bells are only now
ringing for morning service, and hast thou been at church already?

JOHN
I left my bed betimes, I could not sleep,
And when I rose, I look'd (as my custom is)
From my chamber window, where I can see the sun rise;
And the first object I discern'd
Was the glistering spire of St. Mary Ottery.

MARGARET
Well, John.

JOHN
Then I remember'd 'twas the sabbath-day.
Immediately a wish arose in my mind,
To go to church and pray with Christian people.

And then I check'd myself, and said to myself,
"Thou hast been a heathen, John, these two years past,
(Not having been at church in all that time,)
And is it fit, that now for the first time
Thou should'st offend the eyes of Christian people
With a murderer's presence in the house of prayer?
Thou would'st but discompose their pious thoughts,
And do thyself no good: for how could'st thou pray,
With unwash'd hands, and lips unus'd to the offices?"
And then I at my own presumption smiled;
And then I wept that I should smile at all,
Having such cause of grief! I wept outright;
Tears like a river flooded all my face,
And I began to pray, and found I could pray;
And still I yearn'd to say my prayers in the church.
"Doubtless (said I) one might find comfort in it."
So stealing down the stairs, like one that fear'd detection,
Or was about to act unlawful business
At that dead time of dawn,
I flew to the church, and found the doors wide open,
(Whether by negligence I knew not,
Or some peculiar grace to me vouchsaf'd,
For all things felt like mystery).

MARGARET
Yes.

JOHN
So entering in, not without fear,
I past into the family pew,
And covering up my eyes for shame,
And deep perception of unworthiness,
Upon the little hassock knelt me down,
Where I so oft had kneel'd,
A docile infant by Sir Walter's side;
And, thinking so, I wept a second flood
More poignant than the first;
But afterwards was greatly comforted.
It seem'd, the guilt of blood was passing from me
Even in the act and agony of tears,
And all my sins forgiven.

* * * * *

THE WITCH

A DRAMATIC SKETCH OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY (1798)

* * * * *

CHARACTERS

_Old Servant in the Family of Sir Francis Pairford. Stranger._

* * * * *

SERVANT
One summer night Sir Francis, as it chanced,
Was pacing to and fro in the avenue
That westward fronts our house,
Among those aged oaks, said to have been planted
Three hundred years ago
By a neighb'ring prior of the Fairford name.
Being o'er-task'd in thought, he heeded not
The importunate suit of one who stood by the gate,
And begged an alms.
Some say he shoved her rudely from the gate
With angry chiding; but I can never think
(Our master's nature hath a sweetness in it)
That he could use a woman, an old woman,
With such discourtesy: but he refused her--
And better had he met a lion in his path
Than that old woman that night;
For she was one who practised the black arts,
And served the devil, being since burnt for witchcraft.
She looked at him as one that meant to blast him,
And with a frightful noise,
('Twas partly like a woman's voice,
And partly like the hissing of a snake,)
She nothing said but this:--
(Sir Francis told the words)

_A mischief, mischief, mischief,
And a nine-times-killing curse,
By day and by night, to the caitiff wight,
Who shakes the poor like snakes from his door,
And shuts up the womb of his purse_.

And still she cried

_A mischief,
And a nine-fold-withering curse:
For that shall come to thee that will undo thee,
Both all that thou fearest and worse_.

So saying, she departed,
Leaving Sir Francis like a man, beneath
Whose feet a scaffolding was suddenly falling;
So he described it.

STRANGER
A terrible curse! What followed?

SERVANT
Nothing immediate, but some two months after
Young Philip Fairford suddenly fell sick,
And none could tell what ailed him; for he lay,
And pined, and pined, till all his hair fell off,
And he, that was full-fleshed, became as thin
As a two-months' babe that has been starved in the nursing.
And sure I think
He bore his death-wound like a little child;
With such rare sweetness of dumb melancholy
He strove to clothe his agony in smiles,
Which he would force up in his poor pale cheeks,
Like ill-timed guests that had no proper dwelling there;
And, when they asked him his complaint, he laid
His hand upon his heart to shew the place,
Where Susan came to him a-nights, he said,
And prick'd him with a pin.--
And thereupon Sir Francis called to mind
The beggar-witch that stood by the gateway
And begged an alms.

STRANGER
But did the witch confess?

SERVANT
All this and more at her death.

STRANGER
I do not love to credit tales of magic.
Heaven's music, which is Order, seems unstrung,
And this brave world
(The mystery of God) unbeautified,
Disorder'd, marr'd, where such strange things are acted.

* * * * *

Mr. H----

A FARCE IN TWO ACTS

As it was performed at Drury Lane Theatre, _December, 1806_

"Mr. H----, thou wert DAMNED. Bright shone the morning on the play-bills
that announced thy appearance, and the streets were filled with the buzz
of persons asking one another if they would go to see Mr. H----, and
answering that they would certainly; but before night the gaiety, not of
the author, but of his friends and the town, was eclipsed, for thou wert
DAMNED! Hadst thou been anonymous, thou haply mightst have lived. But
thou didst come to an untimely end for thy tricks, and for want of a
better name to pass them off----."

--_Theatrical Examiner._

* * * * *

CHARACTERS

Mr. H---- _Mr. Elliston_.
BELVIL _Mr. Bartley_.
LANDLORD PRY _Mr. Wewitzer_.
MELESINDA _Miss Mellon_.
Maid to Melesinda. _Mrs. Harlowe_.
Gentlemen, Ladies, Waiters, Servants, &c.

SCENE.--_Bath_

* * * * *

PROLOGUE

_Spoken by Mr. Elliston_

If we have sinn'd in paring down a name,
All civil well-bred authors do the same.
Survey the columns of our daily writers--
You'll find that some Initials are great fighters.
How fierce the shock, how fatal is the jar,
When Ensign W. meets Lieutenant R.
With two stout seconds, just of their own gizard,
Cross Captain X. and rough old General Izzard!
Letter to Letter spreads the dire alarms,
Till half the Alphabet is up in arms.
Nor with less lustre have Initials shone,
To grace the gentler annals of Crim. Con.
Where the dispensers of the public lash
Soft penance give; a letter and a dash--
Where vice reduced in size shrinks to a failing,
And loses half her grossness by curtailing.
Faux pas are told in such a modest way,--
The affair of Colonel B---- with Mrs. A----
You must forgive them--for what is there, say,
Which such a pliant Vowel must not grant
To such a very pressing Consonant?
Or who poetic justice dares dispute,
When, mildly melting at a lover's suit,
The wife's a Liquid, her good man a Mute?
Even in the homelier scenes of honest life,
The coarse-spun intercourse of man and wife,
Initials I am told have taken place
Of Deary, Spouse, and that old-fashioned race;
And Cabbage, ask'd by Brother Snip to tea,
Replies, "I'll come--but it don't rest with me--
I always leaves them things to Mrs. C."
O should this mincing fashion ever spread
From names of living heroes to the dead,
How would Ambition sigh, and hang the head,
As each lov'd syllable should melt away--
Her Alexander turned into Great A----
A single C. her Caesar to express--
Her Scipio shrunk into a Roman S----
And nick'd and dock'd to these new modes of speech,
Great Hannibal himself a Mr. H----.

* * * * *

MR. H----

A FARCE IN TWO ACTS

* * * * *

ACT I

SCENE.--_A Public Room in an Inn--Landlord, Waiters, Gentlemen, &c.

Enter Mr. H._

MR. H.
Landlord, has the man brought home my boots?

LANDLORD
Yes, Sir.

MR. H.
You have paid him?

LANDLORD
There is the receipt, Sir, only not quite filled up, no name, only
blank--"Blank, Dr. to Zekiel Spanish for one pair of best hessians."
Now, Sir, he wishes to know what name he shall put in, who he shall say
"Dr."

MR. H.
Why, Mr. H. to be sure.

LANDLORD
So I told him, Sir; but Zekiel has some qualms about it. He says, he
thinks that Mr. H. only would not stand good in law.

MR. H.
Rot his impertinence, bid him put in Nebuchadnezzar, and not trouble me
with his scruples.

LANDLORD
I shall, Sir. [_Exit_.]

_Enter a Waiter_.

WAITER
Sir, Squire Level's man is below, with a hare and a brace of pheasants
for Mr. H.

MR. H.
Give the man half-a-crown, and bid him return my best respects to his
master. Presents it seems will find me out, with any name, or no name.

_Enter Second Waiter_.

SECOND WAITER
Sir, the man that makes up the Directory is at the door.

MR. H.
Give him a shilling, that is what these fellows come for.

SECOND WAITER
He has sent up to know by what name your Honour will please to be
inserted.

MR. H.
Zounds, fellow, I give him a shilling for leaving out my name, not for
putting it in. This is one of the plaguy comforts of going anonymous.

[_Exit Second Waiter_.]

_Enter Third Waiter_.

THIRD WAITER
Two letters for Mr. H. [_Exit_.]

MR. H.
From ladies (_opens them_). This from Melesinda, to remind me of the
morning call I promised; the pretty creature positively languishes to be
made Mrs. H. I believe I must indulge her (_affectedly_). This from her
cousin, to bespeak me to some party, I suppose (_opening it_)--Oh, "this
evening"--"Tea and cards"--(_surveying himself with complacency_). Dear
H., thou art certainly a pretty fellow. I wonder what makes thee such a
favourite among the ladies: I wish it may not be owing to the
concealment of thy unfortunate--pshaw!

_Enter Fourth Waiter_.

FOURTH WAITER
Sir, one Mr. Printagain is enquiring for you.

MR. H.
Oh, I remember, the poet; he is publishing by subscription. Give him a
guinea, and tell him he may put me down.

FOURTH WAITER
What name shall I tell him, Sir?

MR. H.
Zounds, he is a poet; let him fancy a name.

[_Exit Fourth Waiter_.]

_Enter Fifth Waiter_.

FIFTH WAITER
Sir, Bartlemy the lame beggar, that you sent a private donation to last
Monday, has by some accident discovered his benefactor, and is at the
door waiting to return thanks.

MR. H.
Oh, poor fellow, who could put it into his head? Now I shall be teazed
by all his tribe, when once this is known. Well, tell him I am glad I
could be of any service to him, and send him away.

FIFTH WAITER
I would have done so, Sir; but the object of his call now, he says, is
only to know who he is obliged to.

MR. H.
Why, me.

FIFTH WAITER
Yes, Sir.

MR. H.
Me, me, me, who else, to be sure?

FIFTH WAITER
Yes, Sir; but he is anxious to know the name of his benefactor.

MR. H.
Here is a pampered rogue of a beggar, that cannot be obliged to a
gentleman in the way of his profession, but he must know the name,
birth, parentage, and education of his benefactor. I warrant you, next
he will require a certificate of one's good behaviour, and a
magistrate's licence in one's pocket, lawfully empowering so and so
to--give an alms. Any thing more? FIFTH WAITER

Yes, Sir: here has been Mr. Patriot, with the county petition to sign;
and Mr. Failtime, that owes so much money, has sent to remind you of
your promise to bail him.

MR. H.
Neither of which I can do, while I have no name. Here is more of the
plaguy comforts of going anonymous, that one can neither serve one's
friend nor one's country. Damn it, a man had better be without a nose,
than without a name. I will not live long in this mutilated, dismembered
state; I will to Melesinda this instant, and try to forget these
vexations. Melesinda! there is music in the name; but then, hang it,
there is none in mine to answer to it. [_Exit_.]

(_While Mr. H. has been speaking, two Gentlemen have been observing him
curiously._)

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Who the devil is this extraordinary personage?

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Who? why 'tis Mr. H.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Has he no more name?

SECOND GENTLEMAN
None that has yet transpired. No more! why that single letter has been
enough to inflame the imaginations of all the ladies in Bath. He has
been here but a fortnight, and is already received into all the first
families.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Wonderful! yet nobody knows who he is, or where he comes from!

SECOND GENTLEMAN
He is vastly rich, gives away money as if he had infinity; dresses well,
as you see; and for address, the mothers are all dying for fear the
daughters should get him; and for the daughters, he may command them as
absolutely as--. Melesinda, the rich heiress, 'tis thought, will carry
him.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
And is it possible that a mere anonymous--

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Phoo! that is the charm, Who is he? and What is he? and What is his
name?--The man with the great nose on his face never excited more of the
gaping passion of wonderment in the dames of Strasburg, than this
new-comer with the single letter to his name, has lighted up among the
wives and maids of Bath; his simply having lodgings here, draws more
visitors to the house than an election. Come with me to the parade, and
I will shew you more of him. [_Exeunt_.]

SCENE.--_In the Street_.

(MR. H. _walking_, BELVIL _meeting him_.)

BELVIL
My old Jamaica school-fellow, that I have not seen for so many years? it
must, it can be no other than Jack (_going up to him_). My dear Ho----

MR. H. (_Stopping his mouth._)
Ho----! the devil, hush.

BELVIL
Why sure it is--

MR. H.
It is, it is your old friend Jack, that shall be nameless.

BELVIL
My dear Ho----

MR. H. (_Stopping him_.)
Don't name it.

BELVIL
Name what?

MR. H.
My curst, unfortunate name. I have reasons to conceal it for a time.

BELVIL
I understand you--Creditors, Jack?

MR. H.
No, I assure you.

BELVIL
Snapp'd up a ward, peradventure, and the whole Chancery at your heels?

MR. H.
I don't use to travel with such cumbersome luggage.

BELVIL
You ha'n't taken a purse?

MR. H.
To relieve you at once from all disgraceful conjectures, you must know,
'tis nothing but the sound of my name.

BELVIL
Ridiculous! 'tis true your's is none of the most romantic, but what can
that signify in a man?

MR. H.
You must understand that I am in some credit with the ladies.

BELVIL
With the ladies!

MR. H.
And truly I think not without some pretensions. My fortune--

BELVIL
Sufficiently splendid, if I may judge from your appearance.

MR. H.
My figure--

BELVIL
Airy, gay, and imposing.

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