Sons of Erin; Or, Modern Sentiment
A Comedy in Five Acts.
By Alicia Lefanu 
Ed. Julia M. Wright
Advertisement | Prologues | Dramatis Personae | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V | Epilogues
The principal object of the Author in the following Comedy, was to do away any lingering prejudice that may still exist in England against the people of Ireland: this she has endeavoured to effect, by drawing a character she believes to be new to the Stage, that of an Irish Gentleman, such as he now exists in society.
That she has not been unfitted for the task by a blind national partiality, will be allowed, when it is remembered, that although a native of Ireland, and for many years past a resident in that country, yet all her early habits and connexions were formed in England; and therefore all her impressions are highly favourable to a country which she must ever regard with sincere esteem and fond affection; nor did she visit Ireland from her infancy, to a period of life when judgment is sufficiently ripe to correct any groundless predilection she may be supposed to have contracted for the place of her birth, merely as such.
All considerations of a political nature respect the Irish nation have been carefully avoided, as such are neither agreeable to the Author's habits of thinking as a woman, nor, in her opinion, suitable to this species of composition.
The character of Mrs. Rivers, and the part of the plot which relates to her, are meant to show the danger of yielding in any degree to sickly sensibility or affected refinement of feeling; which begins by persuading its victim, that conscious of acting upon more exalted principles than the common herd of mortals, she need not consider herself as bound by the ordinary rules of conduct and decorum, and ends too often by plunging her into irretrievable disgrace and ruin. Some experience of life and manners has taught the Author to believe, that such a delineation may not be without its use at present.
The Author's Prologue and Epilogue, which arrived too late to be made use of, are here given, with those which were obligingly supplied in their room.
To her nephew, Mr. T. SHERIDAN, the Author is indebted, among many acts of attention and kindness, with regard to the Play, for the Epilogue, and for some judicious curtailments and alterations in the piece itself while in preparation for representation, which her absence from the spot incapacitated her from making.
To Mr. ARNOLD she desires to return many thanks for having exerted himself to bring forward the piece with every advantage, and for the judicious manner in which it was cast.
Not having witnessed the performance, the Author can only express her thanks generally to the Performers for the just and animated representation which, she is informed by the unanimous accounts of many friends, they give of their respective characters.
The Author cannot conclude without expressing how much she is gratified by the flattering reception which the piece has met with; and that not merely from the feelings natural to a writer, but from her real and warm attachment to the country which gave her birth, and to that to which she owes her education, and her first impressions of whatsoever is amiable and good; for how creditable is it to both nations to reflect, that a piece whose principal object is to place in the most favourable point of view the character of the sister-country, should have been received by so many successive English audiences with universal and marked approbation!
The Author has only to add her sincere hope, that the publication of this Comedy may not prove injurious to the interests of true taste and sound morals, and that The Sons of Erin may be received by their friends on the other side of the water, as cordially by the fireside, and in the domestic circle, as they have been already on the public scene.
Dublin, 5th May 1812. [to top]
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE COMEDY.
There was a time when Genius held the pen,
The comic Writer painted living men,
The real foibles of existing life,
The Careless Husband or the Jealous Wife;
The manners as they rose were fairly trac'd,
The pencil guided by the hand of Taste:
Then wit and humour, in a genial soil,
Repaid with honest fame the poet's toil;
Then we beheld a bard of Erin's boast
Prove in each various power himself a host,
O'er vanquished Dulness raise his laurell'd head,
While at his touch the hydra Scandal fled.
Now in his hall the silent harp is hung,
"The Muse forsaken and the lyre unstrung;"
While other favourites of the Comic Muse,
Chill'd by neglect, th' unvalu'd aid refuse,
Hopeless to check the flow of Fashion's tide,
Lay with disdain the useless pen aside:
Hopeless where monsters and chimeras dire
Have held the place of lost poetic fire,
Where witches, fairies, with invidious rage
Degrade with puppet-shows the alter'd stage.
Say, where an elephant with pond'rous mien
Drives pigmy poets from the groaning scene,
Where horses neigh--can "Fancy's sweetest child,"
To ears delighted strike his "wood-notes wild?"
Yet unappall'd the Sons of Erin rise,
And dare to-night to tempt the bold emprise
Of bringing truth and nature to your view,
The thoughts unborrow'd and the story new;
With sentiments not wove in Fancy's loom,
But what each generous bosom finds at home:
To those emotions Erin's Sons appeal,
And rest their future fate on what you feel;
Their ardent wishes conquer every fear,
They trust, they know, they are no strangers here.
SPOKEN BY MR. MARSHALL.
Who through the world has pass'd, and never felt
The dire effects stern Prejudice has dealt?
Through every rank its influence extends;
Friends it makes foes, and foes converts to friends.
To poets' sorrow, critics feel its sway,
And oft, with minds preform'd, prejudge the play.
Of freedom, politicians loud exclaim,
And give to Prejudice a patriot name.
Nations hate nations for no other crime
But breathing air beneath another clime.
To banish feelings which we ever find
The constant emblems of a narrow mind;
To open wide the avenues to peace,
And bid a nation's prejudices cease;
To make us greet the Sons of Erin's land,
The sister kingdom, with a brother's hand,
Our Bard stands forth--array'd in Comic dress,
And trusts a British audience for success.
Let then each lip, unprejudic'd, impart
The generous smile which Nature gives the heart;
Believing still, in every line exprest,
The truest feelings of the Poet's breast.
Be yours the pride, unprejudic'd, to raise
Hands to support another nation's praise.
Our PREJUDICE depends on your decrees:--
Our MODERN SENTIMENT--"The wish to please!" [to top]
Mr. Rivers------------------------------------Mr. Powell.
Mr. Oddley----------------------------------Mr. Dowton.
Fitz Edward--------------------------------Mr. De Camp.
Captain Rivers--------------------------------Mr. Holland.
Sir Frederick Fillamour------------------------Mr. Wrench.
La Jonquille----------------------------------Mr. Wewitzer.
Servant to Mr. Rivers---------------------------Mr. Evans.
Servant to Lady Ann--------------------------Mr. Buxton.
Lady Ann Lovel-----------------------------Miss Duncan.
Mrs. Rivers------------------------------------Mrs. Edwin.
Miss Ruth Rivers------------------------------Mrs. Sparks.
Mrs. Fitz Edward------------------------------Miss Boyce.
Mrs. Furbish---------------------------------Mrs. Harlowe.
Servant Maid------------------------------Mrs. Chatterley.
THE SONS OF ERIN
A Room at Mr. Rivers's.
Enter Mr. Oddley and La Jonquille
Odd. This house is so completely metamorphosed in four years, that I hardly know it again.
La J. Yes, Sir, it is much improve; it is all in de French manner, vich all de vorld knows is de best.
Odd. Puppy! I differ from the world; I hate every thing French. Tell your master and lady, that Mr. Oddley wishes to see them.
La J. My master is not at home: my lady is not visible, except to von or two intimate friend. But, Sir, Captain Rivers, if par hazard you know him--
Odd. My nephew George! I did not think he was in town:--bid him come to me directly.--[Exit La Jonquille.]--What a change since my poor sister's time!--Would she have had French furniture, and a French valet de chambre? I have no patience with this foolish brother-in-law of mine; he must marry a young wife, forsooth: well! as Sir Peter Teazle says, "The crime carries the punishment along with it."
Enter Captain Rivers.
Capt. R. My dear uncle! I am rejoiced to see you.
Odd. So, George! I did not expect to see you here; I thought you with your regiment.
Capt. R. I have left it upon leave of absence for a short time; business required my presence in town.
Odd. Business! humph! Is this house your home at present?
Capt. R. It is, Sir; I wish to be on good terms with my father; and he would have had reason to be offended, had I refused to remain here while in town.
Odd. How can you bear it? How can you endure to see your mother's place filled by a vapoured, feather-headed, fashionable, fine lady? My sister, Caroline Oddley, was indeed such a woman as a man might marry; and, after being her husband for three-and-twenty years, to disgrace himself as your father has done!--
Capt. R. After all, Sir, my father had a right to do whatever he thought might contribute to his happiness.
Odd. Happiness! misery you mean.--Then the rage of marrying seizes the whole family: your sister Emily, forsooth, must run off with an Irishman, possessed of a modest assurance, and an estate in the moon. You, I suppose, if the truth were known, have no other business in London but to dance attendance on that wild, airy, elegant coquette, Lady Ann Lovel--for such I understand she is--but beware--
Capt. R. Really, uncle, I have not the presumption to pretend to the favour of Lady Ann.
Odd. So much the better. If you love me, George, no marrying while I live; you will have time enough to play the fool after I am gone.
Capt. R. At present I cannot marry.
Odd. And hereafter you will not, when you have looked at life a little more attentively. Now consider me well, George.--Did you ever see a married man of sixty-four look as I do? No, no! you may see wife written in crow's-feet at the corners of his eyes, and for every child an additional wrinkle in his forehead.
Capt. R. Yet there are women who can smooth the wrinkled brow of care, invigorate the mind, improve the heart, and strew with fancy's sweetest flowers the rugged path of life.
Odd. What a rhapsody of nonsense!--I suppose in your opinion such a woman is Lady Ann Lovel?
Capt. R. You would think so too, if you knew her, uncle.
Odd. I don't desire to know her; and I think the wisest thing you could do would be to drop her acquaintance.
Capt. R. Pardon me, Sir; that I cannot do.
Odd. Very well, Sir! as you please:--but take care of what you are about: your sister Emily having disobliged me, I did intend to have made you my heir.
Capt. R. Sir, I never wished
Odd. Your wishes are nothing to the purpose. Mark me!--I did intend to have made you my heir; but the thing is not done, nor ever shall be done, if you choose to add another volume to the foolish memoirs of your family.
Capt. R. At the hazard of incurring your displeasure, I will be candid with you: I reverence your character, I esteem your principles
Odd. No flattery, Sir! I am not better than other people; worse than a great many:--your mother, indeed, had more sense, more virtue, than all her family put together.
Capt. R. Her brother, Sir, has the first place in my affections; but--
Odd. Ay; those cursed buts--
Capt. R. I too have a sister.
Odd. Had--has she not renounced her whole family?
Capt. R. They, indeed, have renounced her.
Odd. Grant me patience!--did she not run away with an Irishman we none of us knew any thing about?
Capt. R. She did; but much may be said in extenuation of the rash action:--my father's marriage;--the Atlantic between her and an affectionate brother, who might have guided, might have influenced her.
Odd. The vanity of human nature! Was not I the most affectionate of brothers? and could I prevent your mother from throwing herself away?
Capt. R. Pardon me, uncle; but I cannot hear my father spoken of slightingly.
Odd. Well; I'll speak no more of him: but this foolish girl! if she was uncomfortable at her father's, was not my house open to her? No! she must go to Bristol with an old blind and deaf dowager, that she might elude observation.
Capt. R. I regret that Emily should have been guilty of so indiscreet an action; but I am told Fitz Edward, notwithstanding your prejudices against his country, is a man of sense, spirit, generosity, a warm heart; in short, that he has no fault but a disregard for money.
Odd. And what greater fault can he have, Sir? Money is independence, money is power, nay, is health: but he has a greater fault, one that I never can overlook--that he's an Irishman.
Capt. R. Sir, I must own that I have not imbibed your prejudices and my father's against a country that has produced so many men of acknowledged genius and merit.
Odd. Genius and merit! Oons! Irishmen have been our family plague, and descended, like the gout, from generation to generation! Was not your great aunt, Barbara, kidnapped in her dotage by an hunch-backed counsellor from Connaught? And is not a moiety of the family acres gone for ever among the O'Rourkes and Malonys--and the lord knows what heathenish tribes besides?
Capt. R. I've heard you say so, Sir.
Odd. And you've heard me say, too, Sir, that if I had not had the temper of an angel, your uncle's throat would have been cut by one of them, for only taking a legal opinion as to their title to the estate! Prejudice! Zounds, Sir, I'm independent--I'm an Englishman--I've a right to my prejudices, and will indulge them.
Capt. R. Yes Sir--
Odd. Yes, Sir!--Genius and merit forsooth--very possibly, Sir; but Emily might have found an Englishman of genius and merit, that one knew something about; as, for example, Sir Gregory Graze--there's a man of sense, a man of morals; besides, his estate joins mine; it would have been some satisfaction to bestow half of it on such a man; but my money shall not be given to drain bogs, and fertilize mountains.
Enter Mr. Rivers.
Mr. R. Brother! this is so kind!--I hope you are come to make some stay in London.
Odd. As short as I can; I never liked London: nothing ever brought me to it but to see your mother, George; and allow me to ask, where is her picture that used to fill that pannel?
Mr. R. Pray, Sir,--pray, Mr. Oddley--do not embitter the first moments of our meeting by painful retrospections;--consider my feelings.
Odd. Feelings! Pray, nephew, are you of the new school of sensibility? do you shrink from the recollection of departed worth? do you wish to forget your mother?
Capt. R. Can I, Sir, forget the tenderness that protected, the wisdom that guided my early years?--No, Sir; while I have life I never shall.
Mr. R. Right, George,--it is your duty to remember;--but your uncle should consider that it has become mine, in some measure, to forget.
Odd. That you will find no very difficult task; your heart has, I believe, a bad memory.--But come, Sir, no more on that subject. This visit is intended as one of conciliation; I have a regard for my nephew, and wish to be on amicable terms with his father.
Mr. R. Nothing on my part shall be wanting to perpetuate our renewed acquaintance.
Odd. Will you oblige me by giving me the discarded picture?--Caroline Oddley's picture?
Mr. R. My daughter Emily has it; if, indeed, her Irish husband has left any thing in her possession.
Odd. Ah! poor silly girl! Come, George; I have business in the city, will you accompany me? Good bye Mr. Rivers.
Mr. R. Won't you breakfast first?
Odd. Breakfast! I have breakfasted these two hours;--why, it is twelve o'clock.
Mr. R. [To Capt. Rivers.] I hope you mean to appear at your mother's levee?
Capt. R. Certainly, Sir.--Do, dear uncle, allow me to attend you to Mrs. Rivers's boudoir.
Odd. I must see her: I may as well have it over.--[Half aside.]
Mr. R. I must send to prepare her for our coming; her nerves are weak--I must not have her surprised.
Odd. Nerves! the ever ready apology for all female absurdity! But by all means apprize her that a cross, formal old bachelor is to be introduced to her, and I will take a turn with this son of yours, to give her time to rally her spirits for the interview.
Mr. R. I beg you may return soon; and I think my gentle Julia will, on the first interview, compel you to relinquish the prejudices you may have conceived against her.
Odd. I rather doubt that, Sir; your nervous ladies can't endure the address of blunt honesty. They can brave the midnight air after a hot ballroom, and the cold they take is nervous: but they are too delicate to risk their nerves by going to church. Their ears are nervous, their eyes are nervous--every thing is nervous about 'em, except a good nervous understanding.
SCENE changes to Mrs. Rivers's Boudoir.
An elegant and highly ornamented Boudoir--in the centre Compartment, an Altar decorated with Vases of Flowers--on the Altar a Statue of Friendship--behind the whole, Silk Curtains festooned in Drapery.
Mrs. Rivers is seated at a small Dressing-table sealing a Note, Tiffany attending.
Mrs. R. Tiffany, send one of the footmen with this note to--
Tiff. Yes, Madam. [Offers to take it.]
Mrs. R. Why, I have not told you to whom.
Tiff. Madam, I did suppose it was to Sir Frederick Fillamour.
Mrs. R. You are impertinent; it is to Lady Ann Lovel, who is expected in town to-day.
Tiff. [Rings, and gives the Note to a Servant.] Will you allow me to finish your hair?
Mrs. R. Yes, settle it in the most neglected way.--[Reads aloud.]
"Lives there a wretch who would profanely dare
On love bestow a tyrant's barbarous name;
And, foe to every soft delight, proclaim
His service slavery, his wages care?"
Beautiful! Sure sweet poetry contains "the balm of hurt minds," a solace, where happiness is denied. [Looks in the glass.] Oh, barbarous! What a fright you have made me! Mrs. Penelope Prim was never more accurately screwed.
Tiff. Oh la, Ma'am! do pray look again; it's quite the new ton which the Duchess of Blowze and Lady Crop have introduced.
Mrs. R. Odious! Do you suppose I would take a fashion from any one? I rather fancy I might lead one.
Tiff. Certainly, Mem; for, as Sir Frederick says, you adorn all you wear.
Mrs. R. Foolish! but how do you know Sir Frederick said so?
Tiff. Didn't I hear him, Ma'am, in this very boudoir, placing these roses on the Altar of Friendship? And he kissed them as he laid them down; and he spoke to them as if they were living creatures; "Plead for me," said he
Mrs. R. Peace! no more of this stuff; I hear some one coming--probably your master.
Tiff. No, Madam; it is Monsieur Jonquille, my master's--your Ladyship's Valley de Sham.
Enter La Jonquille.
La J. Madame, my master send his lofe; hope you rest well, and will come himself in von two minute, to give you de bonjour; and Sir Frederick respect to know if you are visible.
Mrs. R. Certainly: I expect Sir Frederick to breakfast; and tell your master I shall be glad to see him.
La J. But, Madam, permit me von petit coup de peigne, von little comb, to give de grace, de finishe. [Taking the comb.]
Mrs. R. Provided you are not a moment.
[He settles her hair.]
La J. Dere! c'est fini, 't is done. Mademoiselle Tiffany, regardez! Look vat elegance! I vill teach you de science, de true principes.
Tiff. I want none of your French principles.--Do you want your coffee, Madam?
Mrs. R. Yes; La Jonquille, breakfast! be expeditious.
La J. I fly, Madam, to introduce Sir Frederick. [Exit.
Mrs. R. I can't tell what's the matter with me to-day; I feel quite nervous; I must recur to my panacea.--[Reads.]
"For much he wrongs the gentlest, best of powers,
Whose very pangs can charm, and torments please
Whom long I've known, and in whose angriest hours
Such raptures felt as would I not forego,
No, not forego for all the dead, cold ease
Which dull indifference could e'er bestow."
Sir Frederick enters while she is reading the last line.
Sir F. Charming! What melody of voice! Were I enlisted in the service of the Muses, I would make interest with you to recite my verses, as the surest road to fame and fortune.
Mrs. R. Oh! Sir Frederick, how can you address me in the language of flattery?
Sir F. And do you term flattery a just tribute to merit? Ah! my too lovely friend, if you knew how very short of what I feel my expressions are
Mrs. R. This must not be; this is too like the common complimentary style which I have ever disliked even in mere acquaintance; but in a friend! it would almost make me doubt his sincerity.
Sir F. Do you doubt mine? Have I a hope of which you are not the object? Is it possible to entertain a more lively, a more tender--friendship--than I entertain for you?
Mrs. R. It would make me too wretched not to believe you; but I sometimes fear the cruel, the unjust world
Sir F. Will misconstrue the purity of my intentions, and the delicacy of your sentiments. Is it not so? But surely you have a mind superior to such considerations.
Mrs. R. Certainly no one despises more than I do the idle prate, the suggestions of malice and envy;--but you know my situation is peculiar:--married to a man much older than myself,--
Sir F. Older! he might be your grandfather: and so unsuited, too, in person, talents, tastes, and feelings! "joined, not matched," indeed--then his temper
Mrs. R. Nay, his temper is not bad; and to me he is ever kind and indulgent.
Sir F. Do you ever oppose him? Do you ever try his temper? The angelic sweetness of yours leaves no room for the faults of his to operate. But I have done; I see a cloud over the most expressive face in the world.
Mrs. R. I think you unjust to Mr. Rivers, who, though certainly not suited to me in years, or, perhaps--[sighing]--perhaps, not in mind
Sir F. Grant me patience!--suited!--Oh! who can merit the happiness to call you his?--Oh Julia!--Oh Mrs. Rivers!--How enviable the possession of such a jewel!
Mrs. R. Sir Frederick, you shock, you alarm me with your vehemence, with your strange expressions; you certainly forget who you are addressing.
Sir F. Would I could! but forgive me; and I will never offend in a similar way--Whatever I may feel, I respect your tranquillity.
Mrs. R. My tranquillity is--I fear--lost for ever--My life is a solitude, my heart a void; but the dear solace of friendship, the delights of poetry remain.--I did flatter myself I had found in you a kindred mind.
Sir F. You have; you have--forget the distraction of a moment, and trust me.
Mrs. R. I doubt whether I ought.
La Jonquille and Tiffany bring in Breakfast.
La J. Madame, my master is come up stair.
Enter Mr. Rivers.
[He bows slightly, but formally, to Sir Frederick.]
Mr. R. My dear love, an uncle of my son's, Mr. Oddley, wishes to be introduced to you: he will be here immediately; but I was anxious to apprise you of his coming; as, though he is a very worthy man, his manners are so abrupt.--Sir Frederick, your most obedient.
Sir F. [Bows.] Abrupt!--barbarous!--Under the pretext of plain dealing, he says the roughest things.
Mrs. R. Dear Mr. Rivers, is there no avoiding an interview with this respectable Hottentot?
Mr. R. Impossible: but I defy him to find any thing unpleasant to say to you, when he has once seen you.
Mrs. R.Oh! you are too good.
Sir F. [Aside.] I fear so. [He fills a cup of coffee, and presents it to Mrs. Rivers.] Allow me the happiness--Mr. Rivers, shall I give you some?
Mr. R. No, Sir.--[Aside.] Officious puppy!--Well, my dear, the unpleasant meeting will soon be over, and you will greatly oblige me, and gratify George, who is fond of his uncle.
Mrs. R. You know I always do what you wish, and certainly Captain Rivers has every right to my kindness; but really an introduction to a splenetic old bachelor is a nervous business.
Sir F. Tremendous to a degree; but with a few friends about you to support your spirits by way of chasse ennui, you will get through it, never fear.
Mr. R. I thought my sister had been with you.
Mrs. R. Oh dear! no; you know we never breakfast together; and she is usually in her laboratory at this hour.
Sir F. Miss Ruth Rivers is certainly a lady of science; but is she not a dangerous inmate?
Mrs. R. I don't understand you, Sir Frederick.
Sir F. Oh! believe me, I mean no disrespect to the lady; I allude to an event that happened before you were mistress of this house: in Miss Ruth Rivers's ardour for chemical experiments, she nearly sent it, like the chapel of Loretto, a journey through the air; the roof, at least, fell a sacrifice to the aurum fulminans.
Mrs. R. A dangerous inmate indeed!--You terrify me out of my senses.
Mr. R. My sister is a person of sense, of merit, and a proper companion for a young woman, whose attractions might excite envy and calumny, as surely as they do admiration.
Sir F. I should think Mrs. Rivers's uniform propriety puts calumny to defiance.
Mr. R. Sir Frederick, Mrs. Rivers stands not in need of a panegyrist to make me fully sensible of her merit.
Sir F. [Aside.] Jealous, by all that's fortunate.--I am well convinced of that; but surely you have no objection to all the world's paying homage to it.
Mr. R. Not in the least, provided it be a silent one: but praise from a common acquaintance for those qualities that intimacy alone can discover, is as offensive to sense as delicacy.
Sir F. [Looking at his watch.] I have outstayed my appointment; good-day, both. [Exit.
Mrs. R. My dear Mr. Rivers, you appear out of spirits to-day: your temper, I know, is never disturbed.
Mr. R. You are mistaken, my love; my spirits are as good as usual; but Sir Frederick's officious interference vexed me. I am sure he meant no harm; for I believe he is a good sort of man.
Mrs. R. Good sort of man!--What a character!
Mr. R. Why, then he is a bad sort of man, if you please.
Mrs. R. Nay, now I see you are angry. Have I given you any cause of displeasure? Perhaps Sir Frederick's visits here may not be agreeable to you.
Mr. R. To prevent future discussions, allow me to say, that I am no friend to the modern system of cicisbeism--A woman had better choose a companion of her own sex: a male friend too frequently slides into a lover.
Mrs. R. I understand you but too well. I know it is my duty to obey you; but I little thought, when I yielded my will, I was to forfeit my happiness. But if I cannot obtain your confidence, your esteem, I will at least endeavour to deserve them; I will have no society except what you choose for me; go no where but as you direct; make, in short, every sacrifice you desire. [Weeps.]
Mr. R. Engaging softness! I should be barbarous indeed to exact any:--No, my angel; let your own prudence be your guide--I am your husband, but not your tyrant.
Mrs. R. Now you look the dear kind soul that made duty a pleasure to me. But I fear I was petulant; you have spoiled me; I am so unused to contradiction, that I did not acquiesce at once, as I ought, with your wishes.
Mr. R. Petulant!--No! you are all sweetness.
Enter La Jonquille.
La J. De original old gentleman I mention you, Sir, is coming up stair with Captain Rivers.
Mr. R. Show them in. [Exit La Jonquille.
Enter Mr. Oddley and Captain Rivers.
[Mr. Oddley bows very formally.]
Mr. R. [Introducing.] My dear, Mr. Oddley:--Mrs. Rivers, Sir.
Odd. [Half aside.] Mrs. Rivers!--Your most obedient, Madam.
Capt. R. I hope you find yourself better to-day.
Mrs. R. I have still a slight head-ache; but I think the opera was rather of use to me.
Odd. Pray what is the matter with the lady? She looks the very picture of health: besides, I never heard of music's curing any thing except the bite of a tarantula.
Mr. R. Pardon me, Sir; it is of the greatest service in nervous cases: dissipation is as necessary to the mind, as exercise is to the body--Mrs. Rivers's physician prescribed it for her.
Odd. In our younger days, Mr. Rivers, physicians had other ways of curing fine ladies of the vapours; good air, exercise, early rising, and useful employment, were thought the most efficacious remedies: it had not yet been discovered that hot rooms and midnight revels were strengtheners of the system, and a certain cure for a nervous head-ache.
Capt. R. Surely, uncle, you would not deprive the ladies of every elegant and innocent amusement?
Odd. The ladies! I hate ladies: but certainly would allow to rational women every reasonable amusement.
Mr. R. Manners change with times, and we are not now in Queen Elizabeth's days, when high dames made their breakfasts on cold roast beef and a flagon of ale.
Odd. Better for health and morals than hyson tea, and a convocation of fops and flirts killing time and destroying reputations.
Mrs. R. Perhaps it is possible to spend one's morning in avocations not injurious to others, and improving to one's self.
Odd. Possible! yes; but probable, oh, no, no! and reading may deprave as well as improve the mind: foolish novels and licentious poetry have taken the lead of the old romances, that had at least dignity in their absurdity.
Capt. R. I see, uncle, you do not approve of what Mrs. Malaprop calls the inflammatory branches of learning:--but there are ladies who disdain such trifling, who cultivate the sciences. 
Odd. They have no business with them; they are exotics in a female brain, and never take to the soil.
Mrs. R. I wish Miss Ruth were here to vindicate the cause of female literature;--and I protest I hear her voice, and in no very good humour.
Enter Miss Ruth.
Miss R. [Entering.] If Mr. Crucible's in a hurry, let him wait.--Mrs. Rivers, ten thousand pardons. Brother, good day. Nephew, I congratulate you on your uncle's arrival in such apparent good health.
Odd. Thank you, Madam, I am very well; but is it not more usual to condole with a young fellow upon the health and vigour of an old rich uncle, than to congratulate him?
Miss R. O fy! Mr. Oddley; what strange opinions you have taken up of your fellow-creatures! I am very glad we have you among us again, to reconcile you to them.
Odd. I question whether my opinion of them will become more favourable by my residence in London.
Miss R. As you observe, your opinion of them will be more favourable: "Blame where you must, be candid where you can." Mrs. Rivers, have you requested Lady Ann Lovel to send the gentleman she recommended to me as an amanuensis?
Mrs. R. I have, Madam: Lady Ann was expected every moment in town, so I suppose you will have an immediate answer.
Miss R. I beg your pardon for the trouble, but I really cannot write notes; I have less than any one, l'esprit du billet.
Odd. And pray, Miss Ruth, do you mean to keep a secretary to write your notes?
Miss R. Do not suppose I would employ my own talents, or any gentleman's time, upon such futile composition.
Mr. R. Pray, sister, may I ask how you do mean to employ the gentleman's time?
Miss R. In writing, under my dictation, what I flatter myself will add a new luminary to the world of science.
Odd. Perhaps you do flatter yourself. I think women had better confine themselves to their own sphere, and leave the world of science alone.
Miss R. Really, Sir!I suppose what is vulgarly termed a good wife and mother, and an orderly mistress of a family, in your opinion, makes a perfect female character.
Mr. R. I should think, sister, it would go pretty near it.
Miss R. Fy! what gross conceptions!You see, Mrs. Rivers, they would degrade us into mere domestic animals; we that are capable of the highest attainments, who can become astronomers, metaphysicians, logicians, chemists, alchymists, botanists--
Mrs. R. Where will she stop?--Oh dear, Madam, my poor head would be perfectly unequal to such a profusion of knowledge.--Are you for the Park this morning? or do you go to the sale of pictures?
Miss R. Neither, sister; Lady Catherine Corolla is to favour me with a new plant, of the family of the Cryptogamia, not to found in the Linnaean system; and Mr. Crucible is waiting to instruct me in the manner of reducing diamonds to pure carbon.
Odd. It would be a pity to interrupt such useful pursuits.--George, are you with me? I have business in the city.
Mrs. R. I hope, Mr. Oddley, you dine with us; our hour is seven.
Odd. No, thank you, Madam; I take my tea at that hour. [Exit with Captain Rivers.
Miss R. Mrs. Rivers, you'll excuse me--Mr. Crucible waits--good morning. [Exit.
Mrs. R. Dear Mr. Rivers, if you would be pleased with my company in a short airing--
Mr. R. It would indeed give me pleasure;--the chariot is at the door.
Mrs. R. Allons donc;--Tiffany, my shawl! [Exeunt Mr. and Mrs. Rivers.
END OF ACT I.
SCENE--A handsome apartment at Mrs. Furbish's.
Enter Mrs. Furbish.
Mrs. Fur. Bless me, I shall certainly go distracted. Here's my Lady Ann Lovel expected every day to her old lodgings, and I can't get rid of the gentleman who now occupies them; and then that impudent, noisy Irish servant of his, eats me out of house and home, and pays for nothing. They talk a great deal about Irish gallantry to the ladies, but I'm sure this fellow never said a civil thing to me.
It does not signify talking; your master must provide himself immediately with another lodging; I expect Lady Ann Lovel this very day.
Pat. Why, have n't you been expecting her this week, and she is n't come yet? So can't you be easy?
Mrs. Fur. How can I be azy, as you call it? Isn't this her Ladyship's apartment? Pray where am I to put her if she comes?
Pat. In another to be sure, if she does n't think there's room enough for my master and her in this.
Mrs. Fur. Marry come up! My Lady will look a little higher, I believe, when she chooses her company, than a poor Irish gentleman.
Pat. Higher! lower you mean--for there is n't better blood in the three kingdoms than runs in the veins of Arthur Fitz Edward, of Ballyna, in the county of Roscommon, my master.
Mrs. Fur. Fiddle faddle of his blood! Fine grandeur without a guinea in their purses!
Pat. And what then? No; he scorns the dirty trash, and has spent all he had, and more too, like a rale gentleman as he is.
Mrs. Fur. Has he so? Pray then who is to pay me for four months lodging?
Pat. He will--and overpay you. Oh! he is as generous as a prince when he has the wherewithal.
Mrs. Fur. And who is to pay me for your maintenance? You have been a boarder with me ever since your master took my lodgings.
Pat. A half boarder; for on my safe conscience I am half starv'd, I have n't got my satisfaction of the roast beef since I came to ould England: I suppose you have been studying the doctor, who says it's so wholesome to rise hungry from table.
Mrs. Fur. Hold your Irish impertinence! You never fared so well in your own country: buttermilk, your prime dainty; potatoes and a bit of salt herring to season them, your daily food.
Pat. Oh, faith, Mrs. Furbish, I had better seasoning than that! One you never use--a good-humoured, sweet countenance opposite to me. My poor Nora! I wish I was back with you, away from these Philistines. But what signifies thinking of misfortunes? They only serve to make one melancholy, and that's not the way to be cheerful: but you need not fear that my master will go off in your debt, whatever I might do to borrow a trifle of you in the way of friendship.
Mrs. Fur. I promise you that I am not used to have friendship with one of your sort, Mr. Shee.
Pat. O'Shee, if you please, Madam; I had the O in my family before your first ancestor was born. And let me tell you that the friendship of an honest Irish lad would n't disgrace one of your sort, though you kept a house as broad as St. Giles's and as high as the Monument.
[Loud Knocking at the Door.]
Mrs. Fur. There now--as sure as death, her Ladyship is come, and no place fit to receive her in but this here drawing-room. Do help me set it to rights.
Pat. The room's well enough; there's but one bad piece of furniture in it, which you may easily remove, that's yourself--do you take my meaning?
Mrs. Fur. That I do, you jackanapes; and I'll teach you to affront a person of my respectability in her own house.
Pat. Keep yourself cool, for here is my Lady herself.
Enter Lady Ann Lovel.
La. A. Bless me, Mrs. Furbish, what is this disturbance about? Who are you disputing with?
Mrs. Fur. Oh, my Lady, I am in such a flustration! Your Ladyship's unexpected arrival--
La. A. Unexpected! surely you got my letter, mentioning my intention of coming this week?
Mrs. Fur. I did, my Lady; but I thought to let my lodgings till the time came about, as your Ladyship occupies them.
La. A. Certainly. Well; and--whose servant is that?--[Sees Patrick.]
Pat. My master's, Madam, who scorns to intrude upon any lady; and will have great satisfaction in laving the house the moment he sets his eyes upon your Ladyship.
La. A. And pray who is your master, friend?
Pat. Arthur Fitz Edward, of Ballyna in the county of Roscommon; the great Fitz Edward, my Lady, the ould stock; not one of your grazing gentlemen that come from the bullocks.
La. A. I know your master, and shall be glad to see him; and, though Mrs. Furbish has managed this matter a little awkwardly, I don't doubt but I shall be able to settle it to your master's satisfaction and my own.
Pat. To be sure, my Lady. I am sure my master--
Mrs. Fur. Hold your tongue, Mr. Shee--
Mrs. Fur. My Lady, give me leave to say that I thought to have had my house quit of master and man a fortnight ago; and I am quite distracted that your Ladyship should not have found things--
La. A. Make no apologies; I am not offended at what has happened, and I shall have no difficulty in settling with Mr. Fitz Edward.
Pat. Ah, no fear of that, Madam. Mrs. Furbish knows his Honour is always ready to settle with the ladies. She's a charming creature; she must be an Irishwoman.
La. A. Do you think your master and I can come to an amicable agreement?
Pat. Oh, to be sure you won't, my Lady! But may be your Ladyship does n't know that my master's married already: he'll tell you so himself; for he scorns to deceive any lady. And here he comes to speak for himself.
Enter Fitz Edward.
Fitz. Lady Ann Lovel, by all that's delightful!
La. A. Even so. But by what chance do I find you in possession of my apartment? Mrs. Furbish, you may leave us.
Fitz. O'Shee, vanish!
Pat. Give me leave to hand you out, Madam.
Mrs. Fur. Impudent fellow!
Pat. If it's impertinence you mean, Mrs. Furbish, perhaps we learned at the same school, with this difference, that you finish'd your education while I'm only a beginner.
Mrs. Fur. I shall take another opportunity of explaining all things to your Ladyship.
[Exeunt Mrs. Furbish and Patrick.
Fitz. Oh, Fortune! fickle goddess! who has played me so many slippery tricks, thou hast made amends for all by this meeting. Let me see; it is now four years; yet I perceive you are still unshackled: my vanity finds consolation for your rejection of me, as you have not made another choice.
La. A. I vow the presumption of you Irishmen is very provoking: pray, after all your pretended vows to me, did you not forsake me? Well, you are married; and happily?
Fitz. I rather think so, my wife has but one fault, and that is--
La. A. She has no fortune.
Fitz. No, I knew that when I ran away with her; but she is too good, too perfect a character. Now, when I was in love with you--
La. A. Stop! I guess what you are going to say. But tell me about this fair lady of yours; for as my intimacy with her family commenced since her marriage, I never saw her: describe her, that I may judge whether she is worthy of having supplanted me.
Fitz. It would be difficult to find any one who could.
La. A. Handsome, no doubt, she is; but has she an air or manner, an indescribable something which is more alluring than beauty, more captivating than wit, more attaching than sensibility? Is she, in short--
Fitz. Like your charming self, my sweet cousin? No, positively, not like you; yet she is lovely.
La. A. But how does this extraordinary goodness accord with her marrying you in a clandestine way?
Fitz. The only fault she ever committed. I found her at Bath with an old deaf card-playing relation. She was in no great delight at her father's marriage. We pitied each other, and it led us further than we intended--even to Scotland.
La. A. And your father, I suppose, in the spirit of Christian forgiveness, disinherited you for marrying without money.
Fitz. Oh, no, no; he did much worse--he left me his whole estate, and my own discretion was my only guide. Not to weary you with a history of thoughtless extravagance, three years almost completed my ruin; my estate is mortgaged--I left Ireland, where Emily remains to collect our little wreck of fortune, and came here to try mine in the lottery of great men's promises.
La. A. And have you succeeded?
Fitz. No; nor do I think I shall. I have a very troublesome inmate in my breast, that won't leave me a moment's quiet, were I to fashion my principles to my necessities.
La. A. Perfectly right; but, my heroic cousin, though your Hibernian spirit might induce you to starve rather than bend; yet, for the sake of your Emily, I think you ought to try to accommodate matters. Let me interfere; I will speak to your father-in-law.
Fitz. To that I cannot consent. I am too poor not to be proud; and stand too much in need of his assistance to solicit it: do you suppose I could lay myself and my necessities at the feet of insolent prosperity? I should deserve to be spurned. Besides, he detests the very name of Irishman, and I glory in it.
La. A. Very true, and very fine! But what is to be done? How could you be so unthinking?
Fitz. Because I was in love; and in my country, men are very apt to do a thing first, and think of its effects after. And now I am grieved, like the thief in Prior's ballad, not for the deed, but for its consequences. But enough of self. Tell me, my fair monitress, something of your affairs; Fame has given you many lovers.
La. A. She is too courteous; I wish for none, I have not the least inclination to part with my dearly-prized liberty: I hate control; and when that submissive animal, a lover, is changed into that lordly one a husband, adieu to all the delights of life.
Fitz. Why no; honestly speaking, you who are formed to inspire love--
La. A. Oh, your servant, Sir!
Fitz. Do you pretend to say you never felt it?
La. A. No; I never have. A vagrant Cupid may, in fluttering round me, have brushed me with his wing, but I have escaped his dart. My father chose to marry me at sixteen to a man whom I tried to esteem, but whom nobody could love; and when, after six years bondage, I recovered my freedom, I determined not to surrender in a hurry.
Fitz. And therefore you refused me?
La. A. If my heart is not very susceptible of love, I feel that it is capable of friendship; and believe me, Fitz Edward, I will not rest till I have done something to serve you.
Fitz. [Takes her hand and kisses it.] I cannot express my gratitude.
La. A. You need not; I do not require such warm acknowledgments.
Enter Servant with a Note to Lady Ann.
La. A. Does any one wait for an answer?
Serv. Yes, my Lady. [Exit Servant.
La. A. Allow me--[After reading the Note.] This is a most fortunate occurrence, for you I mean. This note is from Mrs. Rivers.
Fitz. Dear Lady Ann, have I not already told you my resolution? Much as I wish for a reconciliation (as I know it would gratify my Emily), I will make no advances to her insolent family.
La. A. Piano! Don't be in a passion. Believe me, I have the honour of our family too much at heart, to wish you to do any thing that would degrade you; but I have a scheme to propose--I warn you that it is rather eccentric.
Fitz. Oh, the more to my taste.
La. A. To introduce you to the family; nay, to domesticate you with them, without their suspecting who you are; and if you obtain their favour and good opinion (which I am apt to think you will), they will be ashamed to retract when they discover it.
Fitz. I will do whatever you please; but what am I to do? I think, with your instructions, at all events I am tolerably expert at playing the fool.
La. A. This will demand very different talents, I assure you. Can you act the man of sense, of sentiment, of literature?--in short, are you equal to becoming the amanuensis of a lady of profound learning, a chemist, a botanist, a blue stocking--
Fitz. Dear Lady Ann, you take away my breath; am I to be in love with this sagacious personage?
La. A. Oh, fy! no; she's your wife's aunt, Miss Ruth Rivers, who resides at her brother's, and sacrifices to the Muses, while his lovely wife courts pleasure under every form of dissipation, short of criminality; and his son, Captain Rivers--
Fitz. Ay, there's another of my enemies incog.
La. A. I cannot think that George Rivers can be any one's enemy (to use an honest phrase) but his own: yet it is natural, that, knowing you only by reputation (which you have been too careless of), and displeased with his sister--
Fitz. Oh, now I remember that this same brother-in-law of mine is your devoted slave, and rival to the all-conquering Sir Frederick Fillamour, so famous in the annals of gallantry. Tell me, coz, which is to be the happy man?
La. A. Psha! ridiculous! neither. But Miss Ruth applied to me for an amanuensis--a scholar of course, but no pedant, a gentleman, a man of the world; in short, a presentable person in her coterie. A gentleman, who had been mentioned to me, is gone to Italy; and you, I think, are a very proper substitute.
Fitz. But, my dear friend, I have no acquaintance with the sciences.
La. A. Nor has she, beyond their names. Half an hour's reading in the Encyclopædia will qualify you at any time for her learned discussions. And now your name, of my own authority, and without an act of Parliament, I change to Melville; and your country--
Fitz. Ah, my poor country! must I follow the example of some of your unnatural children, and renounce you too? Well, for a short time, be it so: like parted lovers, to press you more closely to my heart, when acknowledging my claim to the name of Irishman will bring no disgrace upon the dearly valued title!
Pat. Here's a letter for me, directed to my master's Honour.
Fitz. For you, Patrick?
Pat. Indeed and it is; but the postman is not in fault any how--it's only the direction's contrary.
La. A. That's unlucky; but it accounts for the blunder he has made.
Pat. Entirely, my Lady; but forgetting that my master is n't a member since our Parliament House has removed from College Green, Dublin, to Westminster Abbey, London; and I bid my poor Nora direct under cover to my master; and I want to know how it fares with the cratur. 
Fitz. This has nothing to say to Nora; it is from your mistress, who is well in health.
Pat. I'm mighty sorry for it.
Pat. I don't mean that I am sorry that my mistress is well, but that Nora has n't wrote to me.
La. A. Does Mrs. Fitz Edward purpose coming here?
Fitz. She talks of setting off instantly. I should be sorry she arrived before the execution of our plan; but that is not likelythe arrangements she has to make must still detain her for some time.
Pat. Oh, ha! is it thereabouts you are?
La. A. No; she might disapprove of it.
Pat. I should think so.
La. A. I think we can settle it better without her: she will know it time enough.
Pat. That she will, Im afraid.
Fitz. O'Shee, find a small lodging near this; and let whatever belongs to me be removed to it.
Pat. Faith and I wish I could remove what does not belong to you as easily. [Exit Patrick.
La. A. Do you propose confiding in him?
Fitz. No, impossible; some unlucky blunder might destroy the whole plan; but I will direct him to apply to you for any thing he wishes to say to me; and it may be supposed that I have left town for a short time.
Enter Servant, and announces Captain Rivers.
La. A. You are come most apropos to save me the trouble of writing a note to Mrs. Rivers.
Capt. R. I shall be always happy in taking your commands.--How charmingly you look!
La. A. Do I? Mr. Melville, Captain Rivers. [Introduces them to each other.] Tell your aunt I have quite a treasure for her. This gentleman has preferred being her amanuensis to a lucrative situation under Government in Ireland.
Fitz. Though I have no objection to going to Ireland; which, after all, I believe to be a tolerable country; yet at present I certainly should prefer a situation in your family, Sir.
Capt. R. Tolerable! it is a beautiful country, Sir, and worthy of its brave, its hospitable inhabitants.
Fitz. You have seen it, Sir?
Capt. R. Yes, Sir; and some day or other mean to revisit its green hills.
Fitz. Captain Rivers, I shall be very glad to---
La. A. [Interrupting him.] Come, come; you have made all your civil speeches before; so, well as I like your company, Mr. Melville, you had better go and make your arrangements preparatory to meeting me, in half an hour, in Portman Square.
Fitz. I am gone--I cannot express how much I feel for your kindness. [Exit Fitz Edward.
Capt. R. Lady Ann, are you--
La. A. Well, Sir.
Capt. R. Have you been long acquainted with that grateful gentleman?
La. A. Yes, a long time; and he improves vastly upon acquaintance:--I am sure you will like him.
Capt. R. I doubt that;--my temper is, you know, reserved: I have not your happy facility in making acquaintance.
La. A. That may be construed into a compliment, or a reproach. Now, Rivers, as I do not want to quarrel with you, I will take it as the former.
Capt. R. Oh, Lady Ann!
La. A. If you love me, not a sentence that begins with "Oh!"
Capt. R. How can you trifle with a man that loves you as I do?
La. A. It is precisely your manner of making love that I object to. I have had one suspicious husband--I should not like to run the risk of a second.
Capt. R. Were I sure of your affections--But tormented by doubts, a prey to anxiety--
La. A. And tormented by jealousy. Trust me, you are wrong,--the confiding heart alone is worth acceptance.
Capt. R. Mould mine as you please.--But indulge me with an answer to a question prompted by mere curiosity. Where did you find this Mr. Melville?
La. A. No; I cannot indulge that curiosity--it is twin sister to suspicion, and jealousy is their common parent:--I have a natural antipathy to the whole ugly family. But to call another cause: is your bella madre still all nerve and delicate sensibility? your father all acquiescence? and Sir Frederick Fillamour the faithless, forgetting his allegiance to me, doing homage to the fair idol?
Capt. R. Yes; that insidious coxcomb is continually at the ear of Mrs. Rivers, instilling poison under the form of flattery.--I am surprised my father can suffer his assiduity.
La. A. Your father is in the right not to notice it;--he is very harmless: he is one of those animals who serve to pick up a fan at a public place--to report, divertingly, the lie of the day--and then one thinks no more of them.
Capt. R. I am not quite sure of that:--flattery is such a luller of the female understanding, that it leaves a woman hardly strength to exert her reason, when under its influence.
La. A. It has been called the food of fools;--perhaps they are synonymous with females in your vocabulary.
Capt. R. Pardon me; I conceive a truly amiable woman to be the most perfect work in the creation.
La. A. Poor mistaken soul! What would you do with such a perfect creature?
Capt. R. Adore her--make her my friend:--if I could aspire to it, my wife. [Kisses her hand.]
La. A. Suspend your raptures. Never will I say, "I Ann take thee George," until I can do it with a safe conscience.--Your uncle Oddley has, I find, notions highly anti-matrimonial; and denounces disinheritance against you, if you transgress his injunctions. I am informed that he points me out as the "ignis fatuus" who is to lead you from the path of "single blessedness," of which he has been so steady an example.
Capt. R. And can you suppose me so void of all right principle or feeling, as to be influenced by my uncle's prejudices and narrow notions?
La. A. Perhaps not: but I am influenced by them; and have, besides, prejudices of my own in favour of the necessaries, and even of the elegancies of life. Rosy fetters will not do to bind that volatile rogue Cupid--a golden chain is a much better security.
Capt. R. How can you trifle, when the happiness of my life depends upon a serious answer?
La. A. Excuse me, dear Rivers;--I must laugh while white teeth and dimples hold their ground.
Capt. R. Say but one kind word.
La. A. Poor Rivers! I am sorry for you.
Capt. R. Give me but one kind look.
La. A. There!--[Smiles on him.]
Capt. R. Give me but hopes that hereafter--
La. A. Come, come--you grow too pathetic. [Exeunt.
SCENE changes to another Apartment in the same House.
Enter Mr. Oddley and Mrs. Furbish.
Odd. Two quiet rooms in the back part of your house will do--that is empty?
Mrs. Fur. Yes, Sir, that is quite unoccupied. But--two rooms--and your servant's garret--and--what am I to do with the rest of the house?
Odd. Let it, to be sure, old acquaintance;--and, do ye mind me, if you know of any worthy person in distress that wants a cheap lodging, let them have it, and I will pay you the difference.
Mrs. Fur. Your Honour is so good and generous--
Odd. Fy, fy, woman!--never speak to me in that way:--there is no goodness in giving a small portion of your wealth to your fellow-creature; but great wickedness in withholding it.--But who have you lodging in your front house?
Mrs. Fur. A widow lady, Sir, who keeps remarkable good hours; and she is a woman of condition.
Odd. Not the better for that--But if she's quiet, that's all I desire or expect. You know my way: I disturb no one, and I suffer no one to disturb me.
Mrs. Fur. Yes, Sir, I think I ought to know your ways. It will be seven-and-twenty years, next Midsummer, since I first had the honour of your lodging in my house;--you found me a poor distressed widow, and you comforted and relieved me.
Odd. Well, well--any one would have done the same.
Mrs. Fur. And that dear lady, your sister, Mrs. Rivers--Who would have thought she was so near her end, when she called to see your Honour before she set out for Bristol!--Was not she reckoned very like you, Sir?
Odd. Never;--she was very handsome--she was--Yes, yes--my sister Rivers was no fine lady--she deserved, and gained, the love of all who knew her--she had no nervous head-aches, to be cured only by crowded assemblies, or the noisy absurdities of a mob of fops and fools--she--but I hate gossips--Show me to my apartment.
Mrs. Fur. This way, Sir. [Exeunt.
END OF ACT II.
SCENE--Mrs. Rivers's House.
Enter Miss Ruth Rivers and Lady Ann Lovel.
Miss R. Yes, Lady Ann, these lordly tyrants would enslave the mind, trammel our genius, set bounds to our invention, and deprive us of the rights of rational creatures.
La. A. Very true. As ignorance is the parent of wonder, they think, the less we know, the more shall we be tempted to admire and admit the superiority they claim over us.
Miss R. Arrogant wretches! For my part, I never could submit to them. I have often wondered that a woman of your Ladyship's sense and spirit should have married.
La. A. I don't know how it happened; one is carried away by the bad example of others; one is talked into it by friends. Besides, I look at awful distance at your superior attainments; I am a sort of every-day woman, whose reading seldom goes beyond the last publication.
Miss R. You have too humble an opinion of yourself.
Enter a Servant.
Serv. A gentleman has inquired for Lady Ann Lovel.
La. A. [To Miss Ruth.] With your permission.--Bid him come in. [Exit Servant.
Miss R. Oh, this is the gentleman you speak so highly of.
La. A. I can hardly do justice to his merit.
Servant introduces Fitz Edward.
Miss R. He is rather young, but has a very sedate aspect.
Fitz. Madam, I cannot express my obligations to Lady Ann Lovel, for having procured me the honour of your notice: I shall consider this as the happiest moment of my life, if I can obtain your approbation.
Miss R. Vastly eloquent!--You are, I presume, Sir, well versed in the sciences?
Fitz. Slightly tinctured, Madam:--something of geometry, trigonometry, mathematics, and military tactics.
Miss R. You are a chemist, I presume?
Fitz. I had the honour of being an elève of Lavoisier's. 
Miss R. You have travelled, no doubt?
Fitz. Yes, Madam, I have measured some ground;--France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Prussia--East and West Indies--North and South America--Newfoundland and the Cape of Good Hope--Botany Bay--Turkey, which I think the finest country in the world. Pray, Madam, were you ever tempted to go to Constantinople? 
Miss R. Yes, I have been tempted; but could not accomplish it: a woman finds so many impediments when she travels in pursuit of knowledge, that I think, like Sancho Panza, we had better endeavour to acquire it dry-shod, at home.
La. A. Any thing would be better than going among those odious Mussulmen, who think we have no souls.
Fitz. Miss Rivers would have the glory of converting them: so highly gifted and so accomplished a lady would convince them of their error.
La. A. Is Mrs. Rivers in the drawing-room?
Miss R. She is:--and will you excuse me to her for a short time?--I wish to talk to this gentleman.
La. A. I will, certainly; and I think you will be mutually pleased with each other.--[To Fitz Edward, glancing significantly.] [Exit.
Miss Ruth sits down, and points Fitz Edward a chair.
Miss R. You will have the goodness, Sir, to give me a specimen of your composition. I shall seldom give you that trouble; for I shall employ you, under my dictation, on subjects more worthy of your talents and my attention. It is necessary to premise, Sir, that though we are esteemed by the world a fortunate family, a very serious calamity befell us a short time ago; a niece of mine--
Fitz. [Aside.] Now for it.
Miss R. Married, I blush to think--I can hardly bring myself to mention it;--such a perversion of taste;--such a degrading connexion;--she married--
Fitz. Perhaps a man of colour; and, Desdemona-like, "saw his visage in his mind."
Miss R. Oh dear, no, Sir; she--but not to keep you in suspense, she married an Irishman.
Fitz. [Aside.] Poor me!--Is it possible?--But surely, Madam, that country is more civilized than you imagine?
Miss R. No, no, no; they can no more change their manners than divest themselves of the brogue: a yes, or a no--any monosyllable would suffice to discover to me an Hibernian.
Fitz. Certainly, Madam, it would be as difficult to deceive Miss Rivers's delicate sense of hearing as to elude her penetration:--no man could successfully impose upon either.
Miss R. I defy them;--but to the point. This poor deluded kinswoman of mine has written very humbly to me, to intercede with her father, and of course concludes that I will myself forgive her. Now, Sir, write in such a way as to cut her off from all hope; tell her she has as little chance of entering these doors as her Irishman; that her father will not hear her name mentioned; and that nothing but the fear of finding a tyrant in a husband, and the difficulty of meeting with a man of sense, knowledge, refinement, and taste, prevents my making a choice, and disposing of that fortune which it had been my intention to share with her.
Fitz. [Aside.] Very noble! very fine! I hope I shall be able to fill up the elegant outline.--But allow me, Madam, to observe, those ladies have little to fear from the tyranny of men, whose will is reason and whose guide is sense.
Miss R. Oh, you are vastly polite!--[Aside.] This young man has great discernment.--Be good enough to set about the letter, and bring it, when done, to me. You will find me in the drawing-room.--[Aside.] A very fine young man, upon my life! [Exit Miss Rivers.
Fitz. [Sits down to write--begins, and laughs.] Upon my word, a very promising beginning--"To cut off all hope; no more, my sweet Emily, to be admitted into this house than your Irish husband."--Well; be it so! Success to the shamrock, which will flourish even in an ungenial soil.--[Going on writing.]
Enter Sir Frederick and La Jonquille.
Sir F. I know your lady is at home; I saw her go in.
La J. Cela se peut--perhaps--but she is not visible.
Sir F. Did she give you directions to deny her to me?
La J. Non pas--it vas my master; who has not de same goût, de same taste for your elegant society as my lady.
Sir F. C'est possible--but I must see your lady. You can contrive to let your lady know I am here?
La J. Par my honneur, no.
Sir F. Certainly your honour is very respectable; but it must yield to reason.--[Shows him money.]
La J. [Taking the money.] You are very persuasive; but you must not be seen in the drawing-room.
Sir F. I would not wish that for worlds; but if you could conduct me to the boudoir--
La J. Dat is very difficult; for Mademoiselle Tiffany--
Sir F. Oh, I am sure of her!--But who have we here?--[Sees Fitz Edward.]--I hope he has not overheard us.
La J. No matter--c'est un etranger; he know noting of noting.--[To Fitz Edward.] Sir, Sir!
Fitz. Don't interrupt me.
La J. De honneur of your name, Sir.
Fitz. There is no necessity that I should tell it you.
La J. Yes, certainly--to announce you--
Fitz. I shall announce myself. [Exit La Jonq.
Sir F. Allow me, Sir, the liberty of asking you a few questions.
Fitz. Certainly you may; but you must allow me the liberty of not answering them.
Sir F. I take it for granted you are a gentleman and a man of honour.
Fitz. Granted--what then, Sir?
Sir F. That you can keep a secret?
Fitz. I had much rather not.
Sir F. May I ask how you came into this house?
Fitz. In at the door.
Sir F. Psha! I mean what brought you here?
Sir F. There is no making any thing of this fellow.--I beg you may attend to what I am going to say.
Fitz. I will, Sir, if it be worth it.
Sir F. In a word--be secret, Sir, or--
Fitz. I understand you, Sir--and I say be honest, or--
Sir F. Do you threaten, Sir?
Fitz. No; I only advise, Sir.
Enter Lady Ann Lovel.
La. A. Hoity toity, gentlemen! do you forget there are ladies and nerves in the house?
Sir F. Oh, bellissima Lady Ann!--how have I existed so long without one gaze at that divine countenance?
La. A. How indeed? you who lived but on my smiles! and yet how astonishingly well you look upon such a slender diet!--Mr. Melville, I must introduce you to Sir Frederick Fillamour.--Sir Frederick, this gentleman is a particular friend of mine; you must be very intimate.
Sir F. Any friend of yours, Madam:--but before you Ladyship came in, I had commenced an acquaintance with Mr. Melville.
Fitz. A most promising beginning.
Sir F. The progress may, I doubt not, be still more agreeable, if you will do me the favour to recollect what I requested of you.
Fitz. I certainly shall remember what you said.
Sir F. Lady Ann, I must tear myself away--business--
La. A. Must be attended to; pray go. [Exit Sir Frederick.
Fitz. What a coxcomb that is! How can you be civil to him?
La. A. I am barely not rude: why should I affront a harmless fop?
Fitz. Not harmless, believe me;--but at present something more material occupies me. I am sure, my sweet coz, that your plan will succeed: I am pretty well established in Miss Ruth's opinion; and now to propitiate the rest of the family.
La. A. In families, as in governments, make sure of the women, and the business is done:--write a sonnet or a love-elegy for Mrs. Rivers.
Fitz. I have other means to prevent her becoming my enemy; and as for Captain Rivers--
La. A. Leave him to me: his heart and understanding are of the best description; but the prime source of happiness, temper, is in him a little poisoned by jealousy: that must be cured; and as in certain maladies the physician raises the fever before he can conquer the disease, so will I inflame the passion I wish to subdue. And most apropos here he comes.
Enter Capt. Rivers.
Capt. R. Lady Ann, I was sent in pursuit of you.
La. A. Well, I am found;--what now?
Capt. R. To request your company in the drawing-room.
La. A. Oh, presently.--I was engaged in very particular conversation with Mr. Melville.
Capt. R. Mr. Melville, Madam, is very happy to engage so much of your attention.
La. A. Happy! I wish it would make him so; but, alas! it cannot.
Fitz. You are too good, Madam; your friendship, indeed, has been my only resource.--With your permission, I must finish a letter which Miss Ruth has desired me to write.
La. A. Make haste then, for we shall be monstrous dull without you.
[Fitz Edward goes to the Writing-table.]
La. A. The very genius of ennui presides over your mother's drawing-room--Don't you think so?
Capt. R. I am sorry you do; but indeed it is difficult to amuse fine ladies.
La. A. Yes; but I am not a fine lady, but the most rational woman of your acquaintance; Mr. Melville knows I am. Try now, and talk sense to me, and see how I'll endure it.--[Yawns.]
Capt. R. I am sometimes astonished how I can endure your caprices.
La. A. Well, now I hope it is I who am to be accused of ill temper. Oh ye powers of justice! I declare, unless I am in very dull company indeed, I am not even grave; and when I am with pleasant people--[Looking at Fitz Edward.]--I am cheerfulness itself.
Capt. R. I admire cheerfulness as much as any body; but exuberant spirits will sometimes run away with one.
La. A. So will a blood-horse; yet I should prefer his curvetting to the jog-trot of a road-hack. Do we interrupt you? [To Fitz Edward.]
Fitz. Not in the least. I shall have done presently.
La. A. I hope you have satisfied yourself; if so, you must succeed in pleasing others.
Fitz. Your partial opinion encourages me to hope it. I must carry my production to the bar of criticism. [Exit.
La. A. I wish I had a pocket-mirror; I would show you the most lack-a-daysical countenance that ever chilled, or put to flight, the laughing train of loves and graces.
Capt. R. Very well, Madam; exult in the power of making me wretched.
La. A. That is so easily accomplished, that it affords but slender cause of triumph.
Capt. R. Ungenerous woman, to laugh at the pain you inflict!
La. A. Nay, you wrong me; I do not laugh; I seldom feel an inclination to be merry in your company.
Capt. R. It is evident you wish to get rid of me.
La. A. I declare I was not thinking about you; my thoughts were engaged upon a different subject.
Capt. R. Mr. Melville, I suppose: indeed it is but too evident how much of your attention he engages.
La. A. I find I am but a poor hypocrite; I thought I could disguise my feelings better.
Capt. R. Then you own your attachment to Melville?
La. A. Certainly: you know I made a faint endeavour to hide it from you.
Capt. R. I have done, Madam: farewell!
La. A. Good bye! Do you travel north or south? [Sings.]
"My pride is to hold all mankind in my chain;
The conquest I prize, though the slaves I disdain."
Capt. R. No, your reign is over; I am no longer under your dominion.
La. A. No loss of a rebellious subject. [Sings.]
"I'll tease and I'll vex them,
I'll plague, I'll perplex them;
Since men use all arts our weak sex to betray,
I'll show them a woman as cunning as they."
Capt. R. How could I suppose a coquette had a heart to bestow!
La. A. Wiser men than you have committed the same mistake.
Capt. R. Perhaps, when it is too late, you may wish to recall me.
La. A. I never answer for the future; but at present you have my full permission to depart.
Capt. R. You have some memorials of my folly--may I request them?
La. A. Nay, now, they are very prettily written, I declare; and as, now-a-days, it is quite fashionable to publish private correspondence, perhaps you may wish to amuse the tender sentimentalists with ours; to mine you are perfectly welcome. Adieu!--[Going.]--You are not angry, are you? I was never better pleased.
Capt. R. Insensible woman!
La. A. Marble!--[Smiling.]--Why! are you not gone!
Capt. R. Nay, don't smile; for, upon my soul, I can't bear it.
La. A. [Turns her head away, and offers her hand.] There! we are to part friends, are not we?
Capt. R. [Kisses her hand.] Fascinating creature! It is in vain to struggle with my destiny; I cannot leave you.
La. A. What inconsistent creatures men are!--They can only be matched by women!--For I declare I don't feel so indifferent by any means as I thought I should about you:--you foolish, petulant--Well, I forgive you.
Capt. R. I can hardly forgive myself:--but my uncle had vexed me; and that man, that Melville--
La. A. Not a word against my friend: I am sure, when you know him better, you will like him as well as I do.
Capt. R. I doubt that--but why is he here?
La. A. I have placed him as secretary with your aunt.
Capt. R. A strange situation for a man of his manners and appearance.
La. A. Very much below his merit, but perfectly accordant with his wishes.
Capt. R. I shall relapse if you praise him.
La. A. Well, silly man! I will speak of him no more.
Capt. R. Nor I--will never mention his name again;--let us change the subject--let us join the company.
La. A. With all my heart.
Capt. R. With all my heart--Only one word more--pray who is this Melville?
La. A. I have told you already, a gentleman, and my friend: if you wish to know more, Time, the great discoverer of truth, may inform you.
Capt. R. I submit;--but give me credit for suppressing my curiosity.
La. A. No; but I will take credit to myself for not gratifying it. [Exeunt.
SCENE changes to Mrs. Rivers's Boudoir.
La Jonquille introducing Sir Frederick.
La J. Dere, Sir, I vill myself inform my lady dat you are here: but prenez bien garde, do not appear:--if you hear any von come, hide yourself behind that pretty statue;--it is not de first time dat friendship hide de love.
Sir F. Why, Monsieur, you are quite a wit.--[Aside.] Familiar whelp!--But fly to acquit your promise; I shall more than fulfil mine.
La J. J'y cours--I run. [Shuffles away.] [Exit.
Sir F. Curse the fellow, he creeps like a snail! But let me see; how will all this end? The old fellow was plaguy sulky to-day. My dear Sir Frederick, a brace of bullets through your pericranium would be a most unsentimental catastrophe: much as I adore my little divinity, it would be paying rather too dearly for any favour she has hitherto shown me.
Re-enter La Jonquille.
La. J. Sir, Sir! hist--c'est fort apropos--my lady will have de agreable surprise to find you here. She come to her boudoir dis moment, on her own accord. [Exit La Jonquille.
Sir F. Away!--there is no time now for reflection--Here she comes, who turns all my suffering into transport, and makes even misery delightful!
Enter Mrs. Rivers.
Mrs. R. Good Heavens! Sir Frederick!--I thought I--
Sir F. That being forbidden access to you, I would yield obedience to the cruel sentence.
Mrs. R. I had indeed determined to give up the pleasure of your society altogether--but I find it impossible--Alas! I have been but too much accustomed to it.
Sir F. And would you for a moment think of banishing the friend who sympathizes in all your sorrows?--Would I could bear them for you! Would you consign to unutterable wretchedness a man who would forfeit his life to give you pleasure?
Mrs. R. I have no doubt of your sincerity; I have no doubt of your--friendship--but what can I do?
Sir F. Certainly, Madam, obey your master, and follow the dictates of your heart, which I plainly see inclines to giving up an unfortunate being--
Mrs. R. Ah! would I could! No, Sir Frederick, I cannot make so great a sacrifice; but I cannot receive you as usual, and I am reduced to give to the purest attachment the mysterious appearance of guilt. But I have every confidence in your honour.
Sir F. Angelic creature! how I glory in your confidence!--Here, at the pure altar of Friendship, I swear to consecrate my life to you! [Kneels, and takes her hand.] Allow me to ratify, to seal the oath.--[While he is kissing her hand,
Enter Fitz Edward.
Fitz. Madam, I am sent by Miss Ruth to know if it was illness that so suddenly called you away, or--
Sir F. Sir, this intrusion is extremely--extraordinary.
Fitz. Undesired I perceive it is, Sir; but my being deputed saves me from the charge of impertinence:--I hope, Madam, you think so; and I shall give myself very little concern about that gentleman's opinion.
Mrs. R. Really, Sir, I don't know what to think--but I am not accustomed to have my retirement broken in upon by--
Fitz. By gentlemen:--so I perceive, Madam.
Sir F. That sneer is, let me tell you, Sir--
Fitz. No, Sir, you shall not tell me any thing I would not wish to hear.--You, Madam, I pity.
Mrs. R. Sir, do you mean to insult me?
Fitz. No, on my soul: by all my hopes of happiness, I would save you from insult.
Sir F. Sir, I don't understand you.
Fitz. It is not material that you should, at present;--perhaps you may hereafter.
Sir F. I shall certainly take an opportunity--
Tiff. Oh lud! Ma'am, what shall we do?--Here's my master on the stairs. [Exit.
[Sir Frederick goes behind the Altar.]
Mrs. R. Mr. Melville, I am sure you will not expose me to the harshness of Mr. Rivers' censure, which I neither deserve, nor can bear. For, believe me, whatever you may conjecture, I have done nothing wrong.
Fitz. Believe me, Madam, whatever I may conjecture, I will be silent.
Enter Mr. Rivers.
Mr. R. My dear love, I have been quite uneasy about you: that foolish wench seemed in such a flurry, I was afraid something of consequnce was the matter. My sister's anxiety prompted her to send Mr. Melville to inquire about you, and his not returning--
Fitz. Sir, I waited to attend Mrs. Rivers; who not finding herself very well--
Mrs. R. I am quite well now: if you please, we will return to the company.
Mr. R. By no means, my life: you are ill, I am sure: how you tremble! pray sit down, and try to compose yourself.--A terrible nervous attack!--I fear she will faint;--see, how she grasps my hand!--do you support her, Mr. Melville; if I can get loose, there used to be some drops about that fantastical piece of furniture:--I will try if I can find any thing.
Fitz. Don't attempt it, Sir: the air is better for her than any thing;--if you will assist me, we will take her into the next room, where the windows are open.
Mr. R. To be sure. [Exeunt, supporting her.
Sir F. Is the coast clear?
Tiff. Yes, at present, Sir; but it won't be so long--So make haste down the back stairs, while they are busy about my lady.
Sir F. Tiffany, take compassion on me, and let me know how this ends, and when I may see your lady.
Tiff. Yes, yes; begone now, for I am frightened out of my wits.--[Exit Sir Frederick.]--I am in such a flurry, I'm sure I hardly know what I am about.--[Settling her head, with a glass in her hand.] Mr. Friz ought to be ashamed to charge me seven shillings for this new front; it does n't sit natural, by no means.
Mr. R. [Without.] Tiffany!
Tiff. Coming, Sir. Lord bless me! I've got my lady's rouge-pot instead of the hartshorn. Coming, Sir. [Returns to the table to change it, and exit.
SCENE changes to Mrs. Furbish's.
Enter Mrs. Fitz Edward and Patrick.
Mrs. F. Gone, you can't tell where?
Pat. No, Madam, for I don't know: this London is such a wilderness of a place, you may lose yourself looking for a friend, and not be a bit the nearer finding him.
Mrs. F. This is the house I was directed to: are not these his lodgings?
Pat. Sure enough they were, when he lived here.
Mrs. F. Where is he gone?
Pat. If you give me leave, I'll tell you all I know of my master.
Mrs. F. Pray do.
Pat. Why, Madam, finding we did no good at all in London, in the way of getting a place, as my master's no longer a Parliament-man, Patrick (says he), I wish I was back with my sweet Emily;--meaning you, Ma'am.
Mrs. F. Pray be brief, and come to the point.
Pat. I crave your pardon, my lady, but I must tell my story in my own way, or, when I come to the middle, I shan't know the beginning from the end of it.
Mrs. F. Well, proceed.
Pat. I wish I was back again (says my master) in ould Ireland;--so do I, please your Honour: I would rather live in Ireland, if I was to die the day before I landed, than spend the remainder of my life in England.
Mrs. F. Psha! what is all this to the purpose?
Pat. Oh, faith, Madam, if you knew but all, you would n't be in such a hurry to be informed of it--and myself would rather hold my tongue than tell you the bad news.
Mrs. F. You distract me. Tell me, at once, what has happened to your master;--my fears forebode;--he has been arrested;--he has been carried off to prison.
Pat. Carried off, sure enough, Madam; but it was by a bailiff in petticoats--by a lady almost as handsome as yourself.
Mrs. F. Ah! Fitz Edward! am I then forsaken!
Pat. Forsaken! that's impossible:--my master will come back to you. But what could he do, you know, when a beautiful creature would have him, will he nill he, go with her!--It would be quite out of character for an Irishman to refuse his company to a lady.
Mrs. F. What will become of me! a stranger in my own country, without money, without a friend!
Pat. As to money, Madam, I wish, for your sake, I had any.--But a friend!--it would be great assurance of the like of me to call myself your friend; but your servant to command, to the end of his days, is poor Patrick O'Shee!
Mrs. F. I thank you, and am persuaded of your fidelity:--but what can you do for me?
Pat. Faith, Madam, I am strong and able: I can work for you; nay, I could bring myself to do for you, what none of my family ever did--I could beg for you.--I think I could--no, I would n't steal: I would n't disgrace my country by a mean action.
Mrs. F. Do you think you could find out this lady for me?
Pat. Find out? why, sure, she lodges in this very house.
Mrs. F. What is her name?
Pat. Lady--Lady--I never can remember them English names,--they have no sense in them; but I can give your compliments to her, and--
Mrs. F. On no account: I forbid you even to mention my name to her, or indeed to any body.--Could I, do you think, get an apartment in this house? I have particular reasons for wishing to conceal my name, until I can unravel this mystery.
Pat. Oh, Madam, sure you are not ashamed of your name that you have been such a credit to?
Mrs. F. No, Patrick; but a very few days will determine whether it is to be a pledge of happiness to me:--in the mean time, call me Belmont--say I am a widow.
Pat. Why, to be sure, you are all as one, Madam, until my master comes back.--But here's Mrs. Furbish herself; and for the love of goodness don't say a word to her about your being poor.
Enter Mrs. Furbish.
Mrs. Fur. Madam, your most obedient: the honour of your commands.
Mrs. F. The character I have heard of you has given me a strong wish to live under your roof.
Pat. There now, you see I never give you an ill name behind your back.
Mrs. Fur. I wish you would n't be so impudent before my face.--Madam, I fear I have nothing that would suit a lady of your appearance.
Mrs. F. The plainest accommodations, the smallest apartment, would content me; and I shall not stand upon terms.
Mrs. Fur. Oh, Madam, as you are not very particular as to the furniture, and perhaps would not object to the adjoining house, which I call my dormitory--
Mrs. F. The more retired, the better. The recent loss of a dear friend makes me unfit for society.
Mrs. Fur. Ay, Madam, I know what those losses are;--I lost a dear friend, a good husband, myself.
Pat. I wonder is it for joy, or for grief, she is crying.
Mrs. F. Be good enough to show me to my room, and to have conveyed to it whatever belongs to me.
Mrs. Fur. Certainly, Madam:--your name is upon your trunks, I presume?
Mrs. F. My name is Belmont, Madam: I have brought very little to town with me, as my stay is uncertain.
Mrs. Fur. Dear me, allow me to look after your things, Madam; I'll wait upon you in an instant. [Exit.
Mrs. F. Patrick, do you know my father's house in Portman Square?
Pat. No, Madam; but I'll make it out if it is above ground.
Mrs. F. My brother, Captain Rivers, I have heard, is in England: though my father is implacable, he cannot have lost all tenderness for an unfortunate sister;--and to him I intend to apply.
Pat. Ah, do, Madam! A brother is a relation that sticks by one all one's life. There is a fashion in this country of marrying and unmarrying: I hope it will never come round to Ireland. Here a gentleman is your husband to-day, and to-morrow he is no relation at all to you.--But your father's--that is, your mother's son, by your father,--by my troth, he'll be a relation to you all your days.
Mrs. F. Well, Patrick, inform yourself whether my brother be in London, and where I may find him. But be cautious; don't let it be suspected who you come from: and speak as little as possible, as the whole family have a prejudice against your country.
Pat. More shame for them!--But how are they to know by my speech that I am an Irishman, now that I have lost my brogue?
Re-enter Mrs. Furbish.
Mrs. Fur. Now, Madam, if you please, I'll show you to your apartment. Mr. Shee, if any one wants me, I shall be back directly. [Exeunt Mrs. Fitz Edward and Mrs. Furbish.
Pat. I am going away directly: I wish I could teach you the manners of calling people by their names. How often must I tell that bothered woman that my name is O'Shee? [Exit.
Enter Mr. Oddley and Female Servant.
Odd. Dinner not ready yet?
Serv. No, Sir; but if your Honour would choose chocolate, or a sandwich, by way of whet--
Odd. No: but order the cook to make haste.
Serv. Yes, Sir--but here comes Mrs. Furbish.
Enter Mrs. Furbish.
Odd. I am sorry to find such irregular doings in your house.
Mrs. Fur. Irregular!--dear me, Sir, I am the most exactest person in the world.
Odd. You used to be so when you and I were first acquainted--that is, let me tell you, full five-and-twenty years ago;--we don't improve as we grow older: you were a smart active body then, and very sightly.
Mrs. Fur. La, Sir, you can't think me much altered;--though, to be sure, I have had my troubles--up early and late, so many humours to please--
Odd. Mine among the rest.
Mrs. Fur. O fy, no, Sir!--If every one was as easily pleased as you--
Odd. Psha! stuff!--never let me hear you direct your compliments to me; I hate them--I know I am hard to please:--none of my family were ever well tempered--except my poor Caroline--
Mrs. Fur. The late Mrs. Rivers--very different from--
Odd. Well, no gossip, pray--let me have my dinner, and then give me an account of my poor pensioners--I wish to add to my list. If you know of any discreet person, who may merit, as well as want, assistance--
Mrs. Fur. Ay, there is the matter, Sir; there is so much deceit in the world, so much imposition, it quite hardens one's heart--for one doesn't like to be imposed upon, you know.
Odd. I know no such thing:--is it not better to give where it is not wanted, than to withhold where it is?
Mrs. Fur. Very true, Sir; and since you are so good as--
Odd. Again at your speeches!
Mrs. Fur. I beg pardon, Sir; but I was going to say, there is a lady, a lodger of mine, who (I fear) will hardly be able to pay me: for she has no luggage; and she does take on so, crying, that though she is well dressed, and that--
Odd. Is she elderly?
Mrs. Fur. Dear me, no, Sir; quite young and handsome, and elegant-like; and a widow, like myself.
Odd. Young and handsome, and a widow, like yourself!--No, no, old acquaintance; by your account, the resemblance is not great.--But she wants money, you say--
Mrs. Fur. Ay, Sir--but who does not?
Odd. Many whom it would be wrong to supply: but youth, beauty, and poverty united, are powerful assailants to a frail woman to do wrong.--There's twenty pounds, it will be a present supply to this poor woman; and when you are better informed of her situation, I can perhaps serve her more effectually.
Mrs. Fur. Sir, you are so generous--
Odd. I am not:--no one can be called generous who gives only what he can very well spare. What do I deprive myself of? Do I suffer any inconvenience? No. Is my table worse supplied than it ought to be? Do I sleep worse? No; I sleep the better for sometimes giving a feather-bed to a fellow-creature who can't afford to buy one.
Mrs. Fur. Very ture, Sir; and I'll try to give this note to the lady in the most delicate manner; for, indeed, she is quite genteel. But first I must see to your dinner, Sir. [Exit.
Odd. A young widow! Ay; this comes of marrying:--foolish girls cannot be cured of leaving their old friends for fellows they know nothing of.--But who have we here? A very elegant woman, young and handsome. This must be the lady in question.
Enter Lady Ann Lovel.
La. A. Ten thousand pardons, Sir; I thought Mrs. Furbish was here.
Odd. She was here, Madam, and will return immediately. You live here, Madam, I understand.
La. A. I do, Sir; but pray--
Odd. Nay, don't be displeased or alarmed. My name is Oddley; what Mrs. Furbish has told me of you has interested me in your behalf: she can inform you that I am--more apt to mean more than I say, than to say more than I mean.
La. A. [Aside.] A most whimsical rencontre! Rivers's cross uncle!--Sir, Mr. Oddley's character I am perfectly acquainted with; and am gratified by this opportunity of being known to him.
Odd. You are a widow, Madam, not very fortunate in your circumstances.
La. A. I am a widow, Sir; but I am not particularly unfortunate; at least, I don't think myself so.
Odd. Well, so much the better; it shows your good sense not to repine at your fate. But, pehraps, it may be in my power to be of service to you; since I have seen you, I feel more inclined than before to be so.
La. A. You are very polite, and very good; but I am surprised that--
Odd. That I should be polite or good? I don't think I am either; but no matter: you, at least, have nothing to fear from my temper. I like your countenance, it is open and ingenuous, though I cannot perceive much sorrow in it.
La. A. No, certainly, if it does justice to my feelings: your kindness has set my heart at ease, and relieved me from a load of anxiety.
Odd. Pray, Madam, don't accustom yourself to these exaggerated expressions upon every trifling occasion:--I have done nothing for you yet, and you cannot know what I mean to do:--that will depend, in a great measure, upon your own conduct.
La. A. I protest, Mr. Oddley, I don't comprehend you.
Odd. That is not my fault; I explain myself clearly;--I mean, if you behave properly in this house, are not troublesome as to hours;--in short, if your habits are retired and rational, I shall think the better of you, and give essential proofs that I do.
La. A. [Aside.] Very strange all this: but I must humour the queer old soul.--I should be very sorry, Sir, that my hours or mode of life should interfere with your convenience: be assured, it will be gratifying to myself to conform to your wishes.
Odd. Now you talk like the rational woman I took you for; we shall be better acquainted, I dare say: meantime, remember it will be your own fault, if I do not do more for you than, perhaps, you have reason to expect--you understand me. [Exit.
La. A. What am I to think of all this? What a strange mixture of good-nature and roughness does this singular uncle of Rivers exhibit! Not that I like these mannerists, in general; for singularity as often springs from affectation and vanity as from peculiarity of character; and we are seldom recompensed for the absence of good-breeding by the qualities which displaced it. [Exit.
END OF ACT III.
SCENE I. A Hall in Mr. Rivers's House.
[A knock at the door.]
Patrick is heard disputing with a Servant, then enters.
Pat. Well, faith, Pat, you are no fool;-- to be sure I don't make my way in the world!--This is the house sure enough--it's almost as pretty as my master's in Stephen's Green, only you have not the prospect of the sea, and the mountains, and the statue from it.--But who have we here, dizen'd out like King William a horseback?
Enter La Jonquille.
La J. Pray vat do you vant?
Pat. Oh faith--I want a great many things.
La J. Diantre! I believe it, but what do you vant vid me?
Pat. Nothing at all, but a little civility, to answer me a question.
La J. Ver vel!--it is--
Pat. Where one Captain Rivers lives?
La J. Here, in dis house.
Pat. Upon my conscience, he could not have a nater--Is he at home now?
La J. He is not--but if you tell me your affair--Vat is your business?
Pat. Tell you my business?--Faith I never tell my business to a stranger, that is not my intimate acquaintance--Who the devil are you?
La J. Who am I? I am Monsieur Jonquille, my ladie valet de chambre.
Pat. Oh! Mr. John Quill!--I think I may venture to give him a hint that he won't understand. Tell Captain Rivers there's a lady that he don't know (but may be he will when he sees her) would be mighty glad he'd come to her--(to be sure she would, and no wonder, poor soul)--at one Mrs. Furbish's, as contrary a devil as ever was born--where she lodges and goes by the name of--faith I am so bothered in this town that I recollect nothing--but no matter for that; he knows her own name well enough.
La J. I don't understand.
Pat. That's all one, if you take your maning--and so Mr. John Quill, if you'll be so polite as to deliver my message and make no blunder, I'll be after thinking myself extremely obliged to you; for I am in haste, and must off to the post office.
La J. You go to de post office?--bon--vill you carry dis letter to de post office?--'tis for Irelande.
Pat. It might go to a worse place.
La J. You have been dere?
Pat. What makes you think so?--To be sure I hav'n't!--But give me the letter, I'll take care of it, if you take care to deliver my message to the captain.
La J. To be sure I vill--you can read de address?
Pat. I can read?--What should ail me?--it's light enough.--[reads] "To Mrs. Fitz Edward, Stephen's Green, Dublin."--Well to be sure, that is comical enough!--Pray who was after writing her this letter?
La J. After? I don't understand after.
Pat. Why you don't understand before or after: you Frenchmen never understand a word that's said to you: so I'll go off with myself and my letter, and I am obliged to you for all your civility--Mr. John Quill--King William a horseback. [Exit.
La J. He is one sauvage, very fit to carry de old lady's letter--I myself vill take care of the young lady's billet doux. Oh! de pretty writing! And it smells so sweet!--Ah, ah! c'est bien drole--my lady in such great hurry--so frighten, she forgot to seal her note--den I shall read it--de little family secret sometimes is profitable--voyons--but here comes Monsieur, and not in very good humour--I hope he has not seen the note [puts it up in a hurry.]
Enter Mr. Rivers.
Mr. R. Gone out after so violent an attack? Do you know where your lady is gone?
La J. I do not know, Sir:--I suppose to see some friend.
Mr. R. A friend! What do you mean? What friend? What note was that I saw you hide in such a hurry?
La J. Note, Sir!--de note vat I hide--a--
Mr. R. No prevarication, Sirrah, speak.
La J. De note, Sir, is van note--what!--'tis not my note, Sir.
Mr. R. Whose is it then?
La J. 'Tis one note of my lady--
Mr. R. And so you presume, scoundrel, to read your lady's note?--Give it me instantly.
La J. Sir, I not read one word, par my honour--dere Sir--[gives the note] but have the goodness not to ruin a pauvre diable, do not tell my lady nor Sir Frederick--
Mr. R. Sir Frederick! It is as I suspected--breathe not a word of what is past, and I will try to overlook it. Begone. [Exit La J.] I am ashamed of my weakness; but I protest I am afraid to read this note:--if it should contain the proof of her guilt!--[reads] "Friend of my soul. At my return from taking the air, I shall expect to find you as you promised.--La Jonquille will conduct you to the Boudoir--Tiffany has my orders to see that the coast is clear. My agitated spirits will be soothed by your kindness, and raised by the spell of your conversation."--Infernal villain! he has gained complete possession of her mind:--from actual guilt she may yet be free--[Enter Fitz Edward--walks slowly towards him as wishing to speak.] I will not expose her--yet something must be thought on immediately.--How! Mr. Melville here!
Fitz. An involuntary auditor of last reflections.
Mr. R. This young man has evidently sense and feeling--it were surely best to confide in him wholly, since chance has acquainted him with so much.--Yes, I will consult him.--The communication I am about to make, Sir, is I know abrupt, and to one nearly a stranger, I feel it will be distressing; almost unnatural--but in my present agitation, I dare not trust my own judgment to decide what course I should pursue--I know not where else to turn--I think from Lady Ann Lovel's description of your character, I may confide in you: I cannot speak to my son, for every reason on the subject. There!--read that [gives him the note.]
Fitz. [After reading it.] Well, Sir, it proves what I have already suspected, that Sir Frederick is a modern man of fashion, and that Mrs. Rivers, like every woman who can obtain it, is fond of admiration.
Mr. R. Does it not prove more?
Fitz. My life upon it Mrs. Rivers is guilty only of indiscretion: this discovery, if rightly managed, may turn to the best account.
Mr. R. How, my good friend?--I will talk to her on the subject, reproach her with her conduct, and--
Fitz. No, Sir, let her reproaches be a much severer punishment to a delicate mind. Consider, that she is very young--
Mr. R. And that I am old;
Fitz. You mistake my meaning; which is that she is young enough to retrieve all. Allow me to talk to Mrs. Rivers: practical wisdom I have yet to learn, but in the best school in the world (that of misfortune) I became acquainted with the theory.
Mr. R. You want to talk to her!--why what can you say? The feelings of a husband are--
Fitz. Are well known to me;--I too have had a wife, beautiful, and young, the bright spot of my existence, the solace, the compensation of my cares; and suppose, for argument's sake, she had formed a friendship I did not approve--
Mr. R. With a man, you must recollect. Suppose, now, you had intercepted such a letter, addressed to--me--beginning "friend of my soul," would it not excite in you the most painful, the most angry emotions?
Fitz. No, upon my truth, Sir.
Mr. R. Sir, you smile;--perhaps you think a friendship with a man of no consequence--
Fitz. If I smiled, it was from a different reason.--But have I your permission, Sir, to speak to Mrs. Rivers?
Mr. R. You have; but be cautious: it will be most advisable not to mention the intercepted note;--only in general terms to say, that my suspicions are awakened: I will even send this note, and let the appointment take place: I can break in upon them abruptly--and the explanation that must ensue, from my detection of this clandestine interview, will decide my doubts at once.--
Fitz. Any thing is better than suspence; and I am convinced you will learn what will clear Mrs. Rivers of every imputation, save that of folly.
Mr. R. If you succeed in awakening her to the sense of her duties, you will secure my eternal gratitude--Gratitude!--my affection. My son will scarce be dearer to me.--You seem moved;--Melville you have a heart.
Fitz. I am indeed impressed with your kindness; and will endeavour to deserve it.
Mr. R. I see my sister coming. She is a good, but a very absurd person; I will not expose myself to her observation. [Exit.
Enter Miss Ruth.
Miss R. Brother!--I protest he is gone.--My brother, Mr. Melville, is a very worthy man, but abrupt--strange--I had almost said absurd--an unlettered man,--no knowledge of the sciences, no taste for the arts.--I protest, since I have lived under his roof, I feel my inventive faculties decline; the sweet buds of fancy cannot expand in so ungenial a soil.
Fitz. But perhaps, Madam, tho' the effusions of fancy must, until a more favourable moment, be laid aside, your superior studies may be pursued with advantage; and when we were interrupted you were on the point of imparting something--
Miss R. Yes, I have much to communicate--Do you know, Sir, I have composed a treatise on animal magnetism?--It is all here [pointing to her head.]--only to get it written.
Fitz. I am impatient to contribute my humble assistance.
Miss R. From the specimen you gave in the letter to my unfortunate niece, I see you are master of composition: so I shall content myself in my future works with only giving you the ground to work up as you please.--But apropos to animal magnetism, do you, Mr. Melville, believe in sympathy?
Fitz. Do I?--Ah, Madam, who has not felt the secret but irresistible power by which congenial minds are drawn in sweet accordance?--rejecting the slow progress of time--o'erleaping the formality of long acquaintance,--the intimacy dates from the first interchange of looks, and friendship springs up, at once, compleat, like Minerva from the head of Jove.--But I beg pardon, Madam, for my enthusiasm.
Miss R. I don't dislike enthusiasm, Sir;--but alas! how little of it is to be found in the present day: formerly men were rapturous in their love and steady in their friendship; then one might venture to trust one's happiness to their keeping: I think even now, I should be tempted to forego my resolution to remain single in favour of a man of superior merit, of mind, of energy:--fortune I should not look for; my own is considerable.
Fitz. Surely, Madam, such a man might be found, who would think his life well past in contributing to the happiness of yours.
Miss R. He must be a gentleman:--one would not disgrace one's self by a mean allegiance;--and if young so much the better:--for I have observed that elderly men contract a thousand ways very distressing to a woman of refinement.
Fitz. True, Madam, men of a certain age are more apt to sacrifice to Bacchus than the graces--to take snuff--to fall asleep after dinner;--in short, to indulge various odious habits to female delicacy;--whereas the faults of youth, like the graceful negligences of a fine poet, are atoned for by a thousand beauties.
Miss R. What delightful locution! Mr. Melville, you speak so uncommonly well, you would make, I think, a distinguished figure in parliament.
Fitz. Pardon me, Madam, I am much too easily understood to hope for success, where to dazzle is more the object than to convince.
Miss R. Well, to recur to our point: I have serious thoughts of altering my condition, my niece's indiscreet match with that Irishman having changed my favourable intentions towards her, leaves me at liberty to bestow my hand and fortune where inclination prompts. [Looking first at Fitz. and then down.]
Fitz. Certainly, Madam, you--are--free to chuse.
Miss R. You are either very dull, or very modest. Why am I compelled to o'erstep the bounds of virgin delicacy, and declare that, stranger as you are to me, you are--the man of men?
Fitz. I am surprized, overwhelmed with your generosity--but there may be difficulties--objections--Mr. Rivers perhaps may--
Miss R. Mr. Rivers has no right to object: he is only my brother, though old enough to be my father: indeed I look older than my years; study, hard study, anticipates the work of time; my face is marked with the hours of thinking.
Fitz. Venus, Madam, can hardly bestow so dangerous a cosmetic--
Miss R. Finely said--but I see the delicacy that prompts this hesitation--you fear that you may be suspected of mercenary motives, or that, perhaps, with the usual fickleness of my sex, I may disappoint your hopes--but I scorn these little arts, and will instantly enter into an engagement--
Fitz. Hold, Madam--you are at present ignorant who and what I am; and till you are fully acquainted with the circumstances of my life--I cannot, must not, take such an advantage of this flattering partiality.
Miss R. Amiable generosity!
Fitz. Yes, Madam, before I enter into an explanation which perhaps may deprive me of your regard--nay, even your protection--
Miss R. Impossible, Sir!--
Fitz. There is a testimony which I own myself most anxious--most ambitious to possess.
Miss R. Name it, Mr. Melville.
Fitz. Would Miss Rivers condescend only to bestow upon me a written avowal that she considered me worthy the honour of being connected with her family, would she deign to bless me with so precious a pledge of her approbation, she would confer upon me the only consolation, valuable in my eyes, should circumstances hereafter induce her to think her present kind intention impracticable.
Miss R. I will do it instantly--but rest assured your fears are vain--of any degrading action I am sure you are incapable, and the accidental disadvantages that may perhaps attend your birth or fortune can have no weight with me, when opposed to that nobility of soul--to that innate urbanity which so pre-eminently distinguish Mr. Melville from the degenerate race of modern days. [Exit.
Fitz. So!--I think all difficulty in this quarter, at least, removed, and the penetrating Mrs. Ruth will find it difficult to mention her objections to her niece's Irishman, when he makes his appearance in the person of her humble servant.--Plague the old woman--I will take no dishonorable advantage of her weakness--but it will gratify me to make her feel it is to my forbearance alone she is indebted, that I do not take ample vengeance for her vindictive and unforgiving spirit towards my sweet Emily.
Enter Lady Ann.
La. A. I hope I don't intrude upon your studies--[peeping in.]
Fitz. Oh no!--school's up!--Had you arrived a few minutes sooner you might have been edified by some practical illustrations of the doctrine of sympathies, into which the fair Miss Ruth has this morning initiated me.
La. A. What, in the name of all that is extraordinary, can this mean?
Fitz. It means that your plan has succeeded beyond expectation--Mr. Rivers is my friend--Miss Ruth, only for the small impediment of my being already disposed of, would, I think--with very--little--persuasion, be my bride.
La. A. The day is your own, nothing is now wanting but the arrival of Mrs. Fitz Edward.
Fitz. Every hour I expect her--may I intreat you to order Patrick to be on the watch to conduct her to you.
La. A. If I see him; but, the blundering fellow has kept out of my sight--have you written to Mrs. Fitz Edward?
Fitz. Only a most quaint and impertinent epistle, by Miss Ruth's direction, as a specimen of my abilities; which will be no injury to my sweet Emily, as she must have quitted Ireland before its arrival there--it was my first step into my good aunt's favour.
La. A. You Irishmen, Fitz Edward, are very dangerous creatures: you have only to will and to wish; and all obstacles give way before you.
Fitz. Alas! No.--How vainly did I sue for your favour?
La. A. Ungrateful wretch!--Have not I made you ample amends, have not I been--
Fitz. My guardian angel!--The way is clear before me; I see land,--all will be well,--all will be happy!--I am half frantick with delight, I must bless you on my knees. [Kneels, takes her hand, and kisses it.]
Enter Captain Rivers in a hurry, starts when he sees Fitz Edward; who rises and bows.
La. A. Rivers, I come here on purpose to talk to you.
Capt. R. With me?--Yes, Madam, so it seems.
La. A. Are you going to relapse?
Capt. R. What can I think? to find you continually in close conversation with this gentleman?--
Fitz. Believe me, Sir, your suspicions are unfounded--the appearances that have deceived you will not long remain unexplained. Lady Ann, I may rely on your discretion with regard--
La. A. Certainly--How foolish is a woman to give a man such power over her! Yet if any man's liberality may be tested, I think yours may.
Fitz. You will find I shall not disgrace your favourable opinion of me. [Exit.
La. A. Rivers, I have partly made a new conquest, that you little dream of.--
Capt. R. I have no doubt of your ladyship's success in that way.
La. A. The words are pretty enough, but I don't like the tune: the tone in which that was uttered was far from complimentary; but you are a silly mortal, and I foresee I shall find it hard to rationalize you: --Excuse the word, for I am in haste.
Capt. R. To quit me you ever are.
La. A. Wonderful! when you are such an agreeable companion. But you shall not put me out of my good humour: I will smile while I am on the safe side of matrimony. My new admirer is your uncle Oddley; and I protest, if you provoke me, I think I will marry him--how would you like me for an aunt?
Capt. R. My uncle: impossible.
La. A. Very polite to doubt my powers of captivation. I had intended consulting you, and came fraught with a thousand plans for--as I was going to say, our happiness; but your captiousness--
Capt. R. Lady Ann, I promised you not to indulge groundless jealousy; but there is a mystery hangs over this Melville.
La. A. Which all your wisdom cannot penetrate. But good bye! when we meet next I hope I shall find you in better temper. [Exit.
Capt. R. A moment!--Stay--she is gone; and through all her affected gaiety I see displeasure in her looks. I must follow her:--what can be the reason of her intimacy with this man?--She must, she shall explain all to me, or--either way I shall be a wretch; for to renounce her is to give up every chance of happiness. [Exit.
Scene changes to a mean apartment at Mrs. Furbish's--Mrs. Fitz Edward and Mrs. Furbish discovered.
Mrs. Fur. Nay, Madam, I can assure you, this is a most respectable old gentleman, who wishes to see you, and the acceptance of this trifle he will esteem as a particular favour [offering the note.] It is a mere nothing to him, Ma'am. [lays the note on the table.]
Mrs. F. Take back your money, Madam, I am not in the habit of receiving obligations from strangers.
Mrs. Fur. No offence, Madam; but if you will see the gentleman, and tell him so yourself--
Mrs. F. Excuse me; I cannot see him.--But thank the gentleman for his kindness, tho' I cannot profit by it. You need not, Madam, be under any apprehensions; I have more money than is sufficient to answer any demand you may have upon me.
Mrs. Fur. As to that, Madam, I have no uneasiness. I will let the gentleman know, Ma'am;--but I think you would have done much better to accept his kindness. [Exit.
Mrs. F. Kindness from a stranger! I am not quite sunk to such a degradation. Bankrupt as I am in happiness, I must doubly cling to that delicate integrity of mind, that conscious rectitude which can alone support me--Oh! my tender mother! my earliest, truest friend! how fatal has your loss been to me!
Pat. Is it talking to yourself you are, my sweet mistress?--Tho' faith you'll not easily get into pleasanter company, if it wasn't for being so lonesome.
Mrs. F. Patrick, did you find my father's house?
Pat. May be I didn't!
Mrs. F. Well, and what account of my brother? did you see him?--Will he come?
Pat. To be sure he will.
Mrs. F. Then you saw him?
Pat. No, Madam, I saw nobody but a French Mounseer: I wonder what makes the people here so fond of them forreners; they're not a bit like christians.
Mrs. F. Did the servant say my brother would come?
Pat. The whole affair is, Madam, that Mr. John Quill said he would tell Capt. Rivers the message for me, set in case I would put this letter in the post for him;--so seeing it directed for you, Madam,--thinks I the shortest way will be to give it to my mistress herself, and save the postage.
Mrs. F. A letter for me! give it quickly--[takes it] gracious--
Pat. Faith I told you he'd be for coming back to you; and writing is all one, you know, Madam.
Mrs. F. [Reading] "Your efforts to recover my affection are fruitless: with my consent we never meet again."--Oh! Fitz Edward!
[she sinks into a chair.]
Pat. Oh, my sweet mistress, are you kilt dead? [runs about franticly] help!--murder!--help!
Mrs. Furbish runs in.
Mrs. Fur. What's the matter?
Pat. Have you no nature in you?--See if you can recover my lady, that's dead?
Mrs. Fur. [Runs and supports Mrs. Fitz.] Dear me! the lady has fainted--Mr. Shee, run quick for a glass of water!
Pat. Water, you neger!--Is that all the comfort you'd give her?--I'll get something better for her, if I make the whole house ring for it.--[He runs out calling] Help! help! for the tender mercy!--Bring some wine, or some cordial, good christians! [Exit.
Enter Mr. Oddley.
Odd. Mrs. Furbish, what is all this riot about?--One might as well be in an inn.
Mrs. Fur. This poor lady, Sir, who has fainted.
Odd. Raise her up,--give her air;--or--do you run for some assistance--I'll support her myself. [He supports her but does not see her face, which is covered with a veil.] There--I have her safe;--run!--Be quick! [Exit Mrs. Fur.] These ridiculous fashions! These veils--I must give her more air, [puts up her veil.] Eh!--What?--Where am I got?--It is she indeed,--the unfortunate creature!--It would be great weakness to be surprised into forgiving her; but in common humanity I cannot leave her until she is better.--How like my poor Caroline she looks now!--She begins to revive; how shall I escape?
Mrs. F. Oh my poor broken heart!--Where am I?
Odd. You--you--you are--in your uncle's arms.
Mrs. F. [falling on her knees.] Oh! my more than father! can you forgive the imprudent, the repentant Emily?
Odd. I did not think I should pardon you; nay, I had made a resolution to the contrary--which I believe I should have kept, if I had heard of your being well and happy;--but, my poor girl, to find you ill, and sinking under a weight of misery--I cannot boast of more tenderness than most men; but I must have been a barbarian to have withstood so powerful an appeal to the affection I had for the child of Caroline Oddley. [Re-enter Mrs. Furbish, with drops and water.]
Mrs. Fur. Here, Sir, is sal volatile--dear me, Madam, you are quite revived!
Odd. No occasion for drops now--prepare coffee in my apartment--this lady and I will go there.
Mrs. Fur. You had better take a little, Ma'am.
Mrs. F. No, I thank you--[to Odd.] Your kindness has been indeed an all powerful cordial to me.
Enter Patrick with a bottle.
Pat. Oh, faith, Madam, this is what you may call the cordial, some rale Drogheda usquebaugh that I got from my friend Felix O'Shaughnessy--but I am rejoiced to find you come to life of your own accord.
Odd. Who is that Irish fellow?
Pat. How the plague do they all find out that I am Irish?
Mrs. F. A faithful, honest creature, Sir, my servant. Go, Patrick; assist Mrs. Furbish to get the coffee.
Mrs. Fur. Come, Mr. Shee.
Pat. How often must I repate to you that that isn't my name?--Faith, if you were a man instead of a woman, I'd make you say O' I warrant you. [Exeunt Pat. and Mrs. Fur.
Odd. Niece; you must not take amiss what I am going to say to you; but it is necessary that I should know your real situation:--your Irish husband has, I suppose, used you very ill?
Mrs. F. I cannot accuse him of the shadow of unkindness until this last overwhelming blow. The urgency of creditors, my ignorance of business--determined my leaving Ireland sooner than I had proposed. I wrote to Mr. Fitz Edward to inform him of my intention, and immediately followed my letter. When I arrived, this very servant (who accompanied him to London) told me some lady--excuse me!
Odd. You could hardly expect any thing better; but I mean not to reproach you. What have we here? [takes up the letter.]
Mrs. F. The fatal letter, Sir, that has confirmed my worst fears, and almost killed me.
Odd. "Your efforts to recover my lost affections will be fruitless--with my consent we never meet again--but tho' I throw you entierely from my heart, I shall not dismiss you from my recollection"--There's a fellow for you!--[continues to read.] "I shall make you such a yearly allowance, as will take from you the plea of poverty, for doing any thing wrong in itself, or disgraceful to me."--The wretch!--but I have read enough.--I always told you, niece, it is not in the volatile nature of his country to be constant.
Mrs. F. I, Sir, have lived among the Irish, and have experienced from them such disinterested acts of kindness, such hospitable goodness--
Odd. Pray say no more about those people: I always disliked them, and now, for your sake, I am inclined to dislike them more.--I suppose you are anxious to be reconciled to your father--well! I will try what I can do with him and his fantastical wife;--but you must not live with them;--No, no! I will not give you up to any one.
Mrs. F. My kind uncle!
Odd. [takes her hand and gazes on her face attentively.] How like the virtue of my love she looks! Yes, Emily--you are quite--quite forgiven.-- [Exeunt.
END OF ACT IV.
SCENE--A Chamber in Mrs. Rivers's House.
Enter Mrs. Rivers and Tiffany.
Mrs. R. Has any one called since I went out?
Tiff. No, Madam: Sir Frederick is not come yet, but I'm sure he soon will.
Mrs. R. Is your master at home?--or who is?
Tiff. My master and the captain, ma'am, are both out--there is no one at home but Miss Ruth and Mr. Melville.
Mrs. R. Go--and when your master comes in, let him be informed I have returned with a violent head-ache; but I will let him know when I am better and able to see him.
Tiff. But should Sir Frederick call, Ma'am, his voice is so low and so soft like, he would not disturb your head, Ma'am and--
Mrs. R. Go, you are impertinent.
Tiff. For the matter of that I think I am as well to be trusted as that French fellow. [Exit muttering.
Mrs. R. What would the wench insinuate? Heigho!--Mr. Rivers's groundless jealousy exposes me to the surmises of the servants--I am surprised that Sir Frederick is not come.
Enter Fitz Edward.
Fitz. Madam, will you forgive my trespassing a few minutes on your time?--Some thing of importance I have to communicate--
Mrs. R. To me, Sir?--That is very improbable--and I have at present a particular engagement which will prevent my attending to the important matter you speak of.
Fitz. As you please, Madam; but it will be with great reluctance I shall be obliged to inform Mr. Rivers that an appointment with Sir Frederick Fillamour prevents your listening to what he desired me to say to you.
Mrs. R. Pray, Sir, has Mr. Rivers given you the honourable office of spy upon my conduct?
Fitz. No, Madam--Mr. Rivers reserves to himself the inspection of your conduct--I wish only to prove myself your friend.
Mrs. R. Very extraordinary language this. Well, Sir--go on.
Fitz. I would save you from the insidious arts of a villain, who to the paltry vanity of being supposed a favourite with you, would sacrifice your fame, your happiness, and perhaps your life;--for my confidence in the rectitude of your heart is such--that I feel assured you could not survive the loss of reputation.
Mrs. R. Mr. Rivers shall be informed of the liberty you have presumed to take--in the mean time, I desire you will quit the room.
Fitz. In pity to yourself, hear me!--Your husband's suspicions are awakened; nay more--he thinks he has proof sufficient to warrant his taking a decisive step.
Mrs. R. Sir, my innocence will be a sufficient protection against his calumnies and your's.
Fitz. Madam, Madam--believe me, this Sir Frederick, for whom you are sacrificing yourself, is--
Mrs. R. Is my friend--my devoted, my attached friend!--
Fitz. Before it be quite too late--before irretrievable ruin encompasses you, make one trial of this so highly praised admirer.
Mrs. R. Your advice and interference are equally officious--since I can no longer command my own apartments--I shall leave you until I can find protection from insult. [Exit.
Fitz. Infatuated woman!--All remonstrance is vain--with Sir Frederick I am still less likely to succeed--yet I will make the attempt--his fears, perhaps, if no better feeling be awakened, may induce him to forego his dishonourable pursuit.
Enter La Jonquille, ushering in Sir Frederick.
Fitz. Sir Frederick, a word with you.
Sir F. O, Mr.--Mr.--what's your name? La Jonquille, tell your Lady I will wait upon her immediately--well, Sir--
Fitz. Sir Frederick, you will not suspect me of any hostile motive, when I warn you that your attentions to Mrs. Rivers are not unnoticed.
Sir F. I should be very much mortified if I thought they were, after the pains I have taken to stand in a proper point of view with the world--I am exceedingly tenacious of my reputation in this respect, Mr. Melville.
Fitz. It would be well, Sir, if you were so on other points--but the honour of a respectable man, Sir Frederick--
Sir F. Is by the ridiculous inconsistency of the world's opinion attached to the conduct of an unrespectable woman.--But I assure you, nothing is further from my intention than injuring Mr. Rivers's honour--I am thus explicit with you, as you seem a sort of ami de la maison: a Quixote in sentiment, I wish not to draw upon me any more of your animosity than I really merit.
Fitz. My animosity, Sir Frederick, can be of but little consequence--but rest assured, Mr. Rivers is not blind to what is passing--Mrs. Rivers is certainly very lovely, and really worth a man's running some risk for; but--
Sir F. Obsolete notion.--No woman is worth risking any thing for but a little money, when one has nothing to do with one's time indeed, a portion of it may be bestowed on the elegant triflers.
[Enter Mrs. Rivers, and is advancing hastily to Sir Frederick but pauses in astonishment on hearing Sir Frederick's answer, and continues to listen to the conversation at the back of the stage.]
Fitz. So many excellencies meet in Mrs. Rivers, beauty indeed is her least perfection.
Sir F. Beauty her least perfection! Pray what are her other merits, the dear romantic, silly little angel!
Fitz. Has she not sense, refinement, taste?
Sir F. Sense? no--or I should not have endured her. Refinement is the veil of affectation to conceal ardent passions--yes, she has something of that; and taste I shall be very ungrateful not to allow her, she is so fond of me.
Fitz. And you repay her kindness with indifference.
Sir F. Pardonnez moi; I like her very well,--her folly entertains me.
Fitz. And can you, Sir Frederick, thus trifle with a woman's peace, whose too tender friendship for you, is, after all, her only folly?
Sir F. Trifle with her peace!--Tender friendship--Fine sounding words, but they have no meaning in them. But she has beauty, and while that remains, votaries will not be wanting to its worship--adieu--I go to see the relic on its shrine--The boudoir of friendship--ha! ha! ha!--Recollect what I have said to you. [Exit.
Mrs. Rivers comes forward.
Mrs. R. Depend upon it all you have said will be accurately remembered.
Fitz. Good heavens! Mrs. Rivers!
Mrs. R. Mr. Melville, I am ashamed to see you: how contemptible must I appear in your eyes, for ever bestowing a thought of approbation on such a man! and how shall I repay my obligations to you for restoring me to my senses?
Fitz. By using them, Madam, to your own advantage; by empowering me to tell Mr. Rivers, that in future your first friend will be he who can best value as well as merit your affection.
Mrs. R. Say to Mr. Rivers whatever you think most likely to efface his suspicions; and be assured whatever you promise in my name, my future conduct will justify.
Fitz. You gratify me more than I can express; and you will one day know, Madam, that I act from no sordid views; that I prize, dearly prize, your fame, and peace of mind.
Mrs. R. You are a very singular being--there is a mystery, a meaning in your words I cannot fathom--who are you?
Fitz. A man who admires you without passion--who would serve you without interest--a man, who while he gazes on you as one of the loveliest works of the creation, would not profane with one unworthy thought, the wife, the adored wife of a respectable man. For though upon more intimate knowledge, if I do not offend by the expression, I am sure I should love Mrs. Rivers, I am equally certain I should never be in love with her.
Mrs. R. Umph! that would depend more upon me perhaps than you--but I have bid a long adieu to all my folly: and now to dismiss, in form, the great promoter of it.
Fitz. Are not you afraid to trust your own resolution against his artful pleadings?
Mrs. R. Nay, Sir, I am not quite an idiot--besides, had I no superior motive, you ought to know enough of the female heart, to be certain, that though anger may be forgiven, contempt never is. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.--The Boudoir--Mr. Rivers discovered.
Mr. R. This suspence is insupportable--why did I confide that task to another, my heart alone knew how to execute--the more I reflect the more I recal the blameless tenour of her life, the gentle,--the confiding disposition she has ever shewn towards me, the more I am convinced she can not be really culpable--the villain--the insidious--hark!--I hear some one approaching--it is a man's foot-step--perhaps the wretch himself--I dare not trust myself to speak to him--and to avow my suspicions at this moment may only leave me a prey to endless doubt and misery--shall I--[hesitates] yes, I will know my fate at once.
[Goes behind the statue.
Enter Sir Frederick and La Jonquille.
Sir F. La Jonquille, this lady of yours does not pique herself upon punctuality.
La J. Elle ne tardera pas:--she must come soon, but take care;--monsieur suspect.
Sir F. I am sorry the old gentleman should feel uneasy at my attention--a very good kind of man, this master of yours;--Eh, monsieur.
La J. De best in de vorld--for a husband--he, he, he!--but here is mi ladi.
Sir F. Begone.-- [Exit La Jonquille.
Enter Mrs. Rivers.
Sir F. My lovely friend!--But why that averted face, that air of displeasure? have I been so unfortunate as to incur your anger? or is that beautiful glow of indignation excited by another cause?
Mrs. R. Sir Frederick, I have too long allowed you to use a language unfit for me to hear: I have perhaps only myself to blame for inspiring you with an ill opinion of my understanding, if not of my principles.
Sir F. I am all amazement!--Surely, my angelic creature--
Mrs. R. No more of these unmeaning expressions, I beg, Sir, as distant from your own feelings as repugnant to mine; and be pleased to consider this interview as our last, except in general society.
Sir F. And will you be pleased to expound this riddle? Meet no more!--Take care, my dear creature! you will die with ennui without me, and I shall not be easily recalled, I assure you.
Mrs. R. Oh, you are too good in your anxiety for my happiness! I will endeavour to exist without your company.
Sir F. That sneer is rather provoking [aside.]--Really, Madam, you appear to me in so new a character that I hardly know what to think.
Mrs. R. Take no superfluous pains to find out what is quite clear without the labour of thought. You had supposed me very silly; and I had persuaded myself that you were very amiable--we are both undeceived:--and perhaps you might reform, if the warnings of reason and honour were not overwhelmed in the suggestions of cruel, worthless vanity.
Sir F. Is it possible this can be the soft sentimental Mrs. Rivers that I hear? whose words were friendship, and whose looks were love.
Mrs. R. It is as much beyond your power to wound me with your sarcasms, as again to delude me with your sophistry.
Sir F. Ah, thou fair truant to all the soft sympathies thou didst profess, does not this altar remind thee--
Mrs. R. Of my folly. And here will I make my best reparation, and swear never more to swerve even in thought from reason and duty. [Mr. Rivers suddenly advances from behind the statue, where he had been concealed.]
Mr. R. No, Julia, you never will!
Mrs. R. Mr. Rivers! I am shocked,--I am confounded--but believe me, though I have been silly, I have nothing more than weakness to reproach myself with.
Mr. R. I know all; and feel towards you as I have ever done.
Sir F. Quel coup de theatre!--Mr. Rivers, do you frequently practise these little agreeable surprises upon your lady?
Mr. R. Perhaps if you do not make a speedy retreat, my servants may be tempted to surprise you in no very agreeable way:--you are below my resentment.
Sir F. And your age, Sir, and my regard for that lady's reputation, are your protection from mine.--I wish you both all manner of amusement in your new domestic coalition. [Exit.
Mr. R. 'Tis true I am too old to be beloved as a husband.
Mrs. R. How severely that reproaches me!
Mr. R. I meant no such thing; but in years might I not be your father--nay, is not my unfortunate daughter as old as you?
Mrs. R. Let me, Sir, as the pledge of your future kindness, obtain forgiveness for that unfortunate daughter. Her trespass was venial, compared to mine--ah, Sir, be lenient to her error, or I shall hardly think you can forget my own.
Mr. R. They bear no comparison:--to run away, to disgrace herself and her family, by such an union!--You could hardly be said to have deviated from the right path, before your native sense and goodness brought you back.
Mrs. R. I have, at least, the virtue to reject praise that I do not deserve: to Mr. Melville's interference--
Mr. R. Aye, Melville, is truly a man of worth--had my unfortunate girl made such a choice, she would not need an advocate; I should take pride in acknowledging such a relation, nay 'tis not unlikely he may yet become one, my sister Ruth would not very much object to winding up her course of reading with Mr. Melville by the marriage service.
Mrs. R. Her fortune would hardly acquit our debt of gratitude: if she has serious intentions, would you, Sir, oppose them?
Mr. R. Certainly not; tho' I disapprove of matches where the disparity of years is so considerable--I mean where the woman is so much the elder.
Odd. I am glad to find you together, to tell you both my mind at once. I have seen my niece, you will not object to receiving your daughter,--if you won't receive her I will; and you, Madam, will forget that you are a stepmother, and act a kind part.
Mrs. R. Mr. Oddley, I will not forget that I hold the place of a lady, whose virtues it shall hereafter be the study of my life to imitate; that to her child I will endeavour to prove myself a mother--to you, if you will allow me, a sister.
Odd. Why this is very fair--and very unexpected; what do you say, Mr. Rivers?
Mr. R. My daughter I may see; but for her husband, I must beg to be excused.
Odd. There we perfectly agree:--but you need not see him,--nay, you cannot;--for he has (as might have been expected) forsaken his wife;--so we must be doubly kind to the poor girl,--must not we?
Mrs. R. Certainly, Sir, if you please I will accompany you to Mrs. Fitz Edward; her mind, which must be anxious, should be spared the pain of longer suspense. Shall we go, Sir?
Odd. Why really, you are become a very good sort of woman; or I was quite mistaken in your character--no, we need not go to her, for I had directed her to follow me, unless I sent to forbid it. So I suppose she will be here immediately.
Mr. R. My sister should be informed of all these new plans, or I shall be worried with her learned loquacity.
Odd. [to Mrs. R.] Will you try your powers of persuasion with her?
Mrs. R. Or suppose we engage Mr. Melville in the cause, I believe he has more influence than any of us with Miss Ruth.
Odd. Is Mr. Melville a young man?
Mr. R. Yes, but a very wise one.
Odd. Since he is young, his reasoning will have more effect than mine: but we will go to this good lady, since she must be consulted.
Mrs. R. I will shew you the way to her apartment; we shall find Mr. Melville with her. [Exeunt.
SCENE IV.--Another apartment in Mr. Rivers's house.
Enter Lady Ann Lovel and Mrs. Fitz Edward.
La. A. How very fortunate that I had an opportunity of clearing up the terrible mistake in which honest Patrick had involved us.
Mrs. F. I am quite ashamed of my credulity; how could I for a moment doubt the truth, the constancy, of Fitz Edward?
La. A. I fear you have a little of your brother's temper, a small spice of jealousy to season your affection; but my poor cousin in the ordeal of four years marriage never gave you cause; whereas I have put your brother's patience to some proof.
Mrs. F. Ah, Lady Ann! how kind, how good you have been to my poor wanderer--
La. A. Tho' not quite so kind as you suspected. But come, no exclamatory heroics; the worthies are holding their cabinet council, and feeling and fortitude must all be reserved for the grand interview.
Mrs. F. I wish Fitz Edward could be apprized of my being here.
La. A. Impossible now; but that is very immaterial. His nerves will be able to stand the shock of pleasure; whereas his sudden appearance might have electrified you too violently.
Mrs. F. A thousand fears assail me!
La. A. Nay, if you grow timid, I leave you to your fate: a drowning creature, who has a little resolution, one holds out a willing hand to save; but one would not like to be pulled in one's self: so the coward must sink.
Mrs. F. If I had a little of your charming spirits, Lady Ann,--
La. A. You would not be half so interesting--is not that the word? Men feel their own superiority so much, when they are protecting, soothing, coaxing dear little helpless souls, that they quite doat on them.
Mrs. F. I see you laugh at my folly.
La. A. No--but I am, as Lady Townly says, "in that harmony of temper from the success of my scheme, that nothing can make me sad or serious." 
[He remains bowing at the door.]
Mrs. F. Well, Patrick, why did you follow me?
Pat. Oh, faith, Madam, I could not feel easy in my mind for fear any mistake had happened to vex you, so I came after you to prevent it.
La. A. No, honest Pat; nothing but good can happen to your mistress here; I fancy she will not find many as ingenious in blundering as yourself.
Pat. Is it me, my lady? I don't think I ever made a blunder in my born days, that is, on purpose.
La. A. A fine story you told your mistress, of your master and I running away together!
Pat. And pray, my lady, was n't it the truth? which I never will tell you again, Madam, as long as I live, if you will but forgive me this once. [to Mrs. Fitz Edward.]
Mrs. F. I do, most sincerely, for I know you intended well--and I am convinced of your affectionate attachment.
Pat. Intend well! what else, Madam? and as to attachment--I hear a great deal of Irish blunders in this country; but on my conscience, if our heads commit any, our hearts are never easy till they've set all to rights again--but, my lady, I don't believe I told you that Capt. Rivers wished to spake to you in the parlour. [to Lady Ann.]
La. A. No, indeed you did not--shall we go to him?
Mrs. F. Do you, dear Lady Ann, see my brother, and explain my situation: I think it best to wait here for my uncle's commands.
La. A. --I have a presentiment all will end happily. [Exit.
Pat. Oh! St. Patrick grant it may--then, Madam, we shall all set off for Ballina, and leave old mother Rubbish to starve her half boarders by herself. [Exit, following Lady Ann.
Enter Mr. Oddley and Mr. Rivers.
Mr. R.--Emily, though you must be conscious how little you are entitled to my forgiveness, yet as your uncle tells me you are miserable at the thought of having offended me--
Mrs. F. Indeed I am, Sir.
Odd.--Fie! more moderation;--more sincerity: I said no such thing, Mr. Rivers; I told you your daughter wished to be on good terms with you and your family; and she wants nothing else from you: Caroline Oddley's children are my natural heirs.
Mr. R. That is very generous in you, Sir.
Odd. No compliments: I am only just.
Mr. R. My dear Julia has been your advocate; and your aunt Ruth, though not very graciously, has consented to see you.
Enter Mrs. Rivers and Miss Ruth.
Mrs. R. Most welcome, dear Madam, to your home!
Mrs. F. My grateful thanks are all I can offer.
Odd. No, no! not her home: her home must be with me.
Miss R. Niece, I pardon your unfortunate connection; but you cannot be surprised that my intentions are changed with respect to you; and that should I meet a man, as perhaps I may--nay--as perhaps I have--that where I bestow my whole heart--my whole fortune should follow.
Odd. What, Miss Ruth! do you really intend to marry?
Miss R. And if I should, Sir; where would be the wonder? Brother, I hope you wou'd not think I had made a foolish choice, were I to name Mr. Melville.
Mr. R. No, sister; it would meet my warmest approbation [to Mrs. Fitz Edward] Ah Emily!--But I will not reproach you-- [Rings.
Enter a Servant.
Request of Mr. Melville to come in. [Exit Servant.
Enter Lady Ann Lovel and Captain Rivers.
Capt. R. [to Mrs. F.] My dear sister!
Mrs. F. My ever kind brother!
[They go up the stage and talk apart.]
La. A. [to Mr. Oddley] Well, Sir! you seem to have considered me pretty attentively: how do you like me?
Odd. Pray, Madam, are you not a widow?
La. A. Yes, Sir.
Odd. And much distressed?
La. A. Judge for yourself:--do I appear in a state of despondency?
Odd. No, truly.--But I must talk to you bye and bye; I am anxious to see and hear Miss Ruth's spouse elect.
Enter Fitz Edward.
[Miss Ruth takes him by the hand, and brings him to Mrs. Fitz Edward.]
Miss R. This, niece, is Mr. Melville and my intended.
Fitz. [Running up to Mrs. Fitz Edward, and embracing her.] Oh, beloved of my soul! my Emily! my wife!
Mrs. F. My more than ever dear Fitz Edward!
Odd. Wife! Eh, niece? Did you not tell me that your husband had left you?
Mrs. F. I was deceived by false appearances; he is all that is noble and good. Lady Ann Lovel, whose near relation he is, can explain all to you.
La. A. I thought, Sir, you and I would be better acquainted. [She talks apart to Mr. Oddley, while the others converse.]
Mrs. R. I stand amazed! You! you my son-in-law?
Fitz. And happy in the title, if you will admit it.
Mrs. R. Dear Mr. Rivers, can you hesitate to compleat the happiness of one to whom we are so much indebted?
Mr. R. No my dear Julia; surprise alone prevented my paying the debt of honour and gratitude. There, take my daughter, Sir, with a father's blessing.
Miss R. I shall never recover from my astonishment, and allow me to say, Mr. Rivers, that altho' you consented to overlook my niece's very culpable indiscretion, this hasty and unqualified approval--
Fitz. Will, I trust, meet with no opposition from Miss Rivers, when she recollects the flattering testimony of regard she has been pleased to bestow on me. [aside to her--and shewing her letter.]
Miss R. Sir--I certainly can have no objection--that is--I hope there will be no necessity to expose.
Fitz. Certainly not, Madam--nor will I deprive you of the satisfaction of voluntarily compleating my happiness, by the unfetter'd avowal of your approbation--there, Madam [returns the letter.] We Irishmen do sometimes rob ladies, but it is only of their hearts.
Miss R. Niece--though I wished to check my brother's vivacity a little, it was because no one could be so competent as myself to speak to Mr. Melville's merits--I consider you most fortunate, child, in having such a protector--and sincerely hope your youth, inexperience and flighty disposition may hereafter occasion him no uneasiness. [Exit Miss Ruth.
Odd. [To Lady Ann] Well, Madam, this is all very strange; you are it seems Lady Ann Lovel; and that relation of yours, neither a fop, a fool, nor a fortune-hunter. I little thought I should have taken an Irishman by the hand; but your character, Sir, is of so peculiar a description--
Fitz. Mr. Oddley, I accept your offer'd hand; but it is given to an Irishman in heart, in mind, and, (would I could add) in virtues; and I hope in that dear native country, cordial hospitality greeting you on the shore, to make you soon relinquish your prejudices against the Land of Bards.
Odd. Well, Sir, I begin to think I have been wrong to indulge a prejudice against the sister country. For your sake I will in future cultivate a more liberal feeling; but now I recollect, that tho' you Irishmen do sometimes run away with our women, you were never known to run away from our enemies.
Mr. R. George, acknowledge your brother. [to Capt. Rivers.]
Capt. R. I am happy to call him so.
La. A. I don't doubt it; for now I suppose you are perfectly easy about this incognito!--But beware of jealousy! if I perceive the least symptom of it, I will immediately commence a sentimental flirtation with the first pretty fellow I meet.
[Hastily advancing to the middle of the stage.]
Pat. I can hold out no longer!--Ladies and gentlemen, may I come in, and pay my duty to my dear master? Oh, Sir, is it yourself I see? and faith by your laughing you will make it up with poor Pat?
Fitz. Yes, my good fellow, this is a day of general amnesty, of harmony, of union.
Pat. If the Union manes kindness to poor Pat, long life to it! and may we fancy ourselves among old friends, though we never saw any of their faces before!
Fitz. Yes, my best friends are here:
To them I trust my cause,
Lost by their frowns, or gained by their applause.
END OF THE PLAY.
To be spoken by Mrs. Edwin.
I own I'm puzzled at our bard's intent,
In making war 'gainst modern sentiment!
Mercy! where has she liv'd? for by the way
I trust you've heard a lady wrote the play.
Ah! poor dear soul, it seems she little knows
The modern sentiments of modern beaux.
Bold, fierce, and noisy where they dare intrude
They think their manhood shown by being rude.
Whisker'd from ear to nose, 'twould seem they chuse
To form the link 'twixt gentlemen and Jews!--
We thought, when one behind our scene appeared,
'Twas master Slender, in old Shylock's beard--
Or, as waste lands, most weeds and rubbish bear,
That unploughed brains bring neatest crops of hair;
But would you view their mounting genius soar
The hero mark in his barouche and four--
With gait and action for the part prepared,
The drayman's swaggering roll, and bruiser's guard.
See him ascend the box with surly grace,
And eye each strap, with thoughtful solemn face.
His horses thorough bred, his carriage new;
Patents, and posthorns, crowding on our view;
Long reins, short tommies, and the Lord knows what!
He's off--and now--the nags begin to trot:
He'll do, he'll do--Oh! wonderful to say--
What Greenwich stage performs twelve times a day!
But sentiment at least you'll say finds place,
Where beauty reigns!--Alas! 'tis not the case;
Like gout when chas'd by the medic'nale eau
Driven from the head it now has seiz'd the toe.
Wax ends, and bristles, hammer, lasts, and leather,
Have mixed love and shoe-making together,
No more Miss Glancer now each breast controuls,
Instead of piercing hearts, she's stitching soles;
No more Miss Languish weeps her Cynthio false,
But pares the pumps in which Mama's to waltz:
For prudent daughters now are Chaprons all,
While whirling dowagers keep up the ball.
Oh! happy forecast, in this ticklish age,
When half our noblemen can drive a stage;
When high-bred dames can make or mend their shoes,
Coachmen and coblers can't have much to lose.
Let's see what belle shall next appear before you,
The lady chymist in her lab'ratory?
What oxygen and hydrogen appears,
And how proportioned, in her lover's tears.
But vain are all his tears, soft sighs and flattery,
Cupid's no match for a galvanic battery--
The lover flies--the learned courtship ends,
And if he takes a wife, 'tis now--a friend's.--
Where then does genuine sentiment appear,
When modest talent pleads for mercy--here?--
For mercy did I sue?--no--for applause!--
What British hand is slack, in woman's cause?
In freedom's aid, the patriot shaft she drew:
What if the bow be weak, her aim was true!
She sees Britannia's anchor is a-trip,
And pipes all hands to man the noble ship--
As England--Ireland--calls--their guide would prove
To seal their union with a brother's love.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE COMEDY.
To be spoken by Lady Ann Lovel.
Wise as I am, I scarce know what to say;
--Shall I entreat your favour for the play?--
Critics, avaunt!--fastidious carping elves!
The Sons of Erin shall protect themselves;
They must find favour in the ladies' eyes,
Which still rain influence and judge the prize:
Then kindly take them to your fostering care;
The brave, our poets say, deserve the fair:
--Besides they are a really pleasant sort of fellows,
Love to distraction, yet not madly jealous.
Like my poor swain, whose utmost patience tried,
Gained him at last a most capricious bride:
--'Twas a bold venture in a choice for life,
Yet I'm resolved to make a pattern wife,
Teaze the good man no more, no more coquet,
Or feel delighted, should I see him fret;
Nor always in the chase of pleasure roam,
Found by my friends just once a month at home;
To all enjoyments of a modish belle.
Without regret I bid a long farewell,
Rest satisfied a tame domestic thing.
Bound by the circle of the magic ring.
"Impossible!" exclaims precise Miss Prue,
"A married life is quite unfit for you:
Accustomed long to wild unbounded sway,
'Twill break your charming spirits to obey,
That odious creature man is so exacting!--
You're not engaged, I hope, beyond retracting."--
Good Mrs. Formal pities the poor man
Who in an evil hour chose Lady Ann,
--"A giddy, thoughtless, gay, unfeeling flirt,--
Her character as yet has not been hurt;
But, shou'd he try her wishes to restrain,
If she can't stretch, she'll surely break her chain."--
Mad Lady Rantipole, herself set free,
Wonders I can resign my liberty;--
"A widow rich and young, her woes forgot,
Can mortal woman wish a happier lot?"--
I rather think I've chosen a better part;
But, strange as it may seem, I have a heart:
That heart, to friendship, love and nature true,
Rests for compleat content its hopes on you.--
1. There were at least three London editions of the play in 1812. The present text is based on the third edition, printed by S. Ridgway, but the first edition, printed by S. Gosnell, was also extensively consulted. Variations between the two texts are generally of the typographical sort. Typographical errors and inconsistencies in formatting, characters' names, and so forth have been corrected here; the punctuation of long quotations has been modernized (i.e., indenting rather than putting quotation marks at the beginning of each line). Inconsistency in the numbering of scenes, however, has followed the original text. My thanks to Holly Crumpton for her assistance in proofreading this text and to the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canada Research Chairs Program for generously supporting this research.[return to text]
2. Alicia Lefanu was the sister of playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan and the daughter of playwright and novelist Frances Sheridan; Lefanu's father, Thomas Sheridan, also worked in the theatre for a time and published the popular farce, Captain O'Blunder, or the Brave Irishman (1743). Sons of Erin is Alicia Lefanu's only known work.[return to text]
3. Lefanu is alluding to one of her brother's plays: Mrs. Malaprop is a character in R. B. Sheridan's The Rivals (1775).[return to text]
4. Patrick is referring to the Act of Union (1800); it abolished the Irish Parliament in Dublin and, in its stead, gave Ireland some seats in the British Parliament, thus ending any semblance of Irish political autonomy. Lefanu's brother, R. B. Sheridan, an M.P. at the time, argued strenuously against the Act of Union in the British House of Commons.[return to text]
5. Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), a French chemist, made a number of key discoveries and revolutionized chemistry at the end of the eighteenth century.[return to text]
6. Fitz Edward may be alluding to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters (1763), in which Montagu argued, by way of critique of British attitudes towards women, that Turkish women enjoyed more freedom than their British counterparts.[return to text]
7. Fitz Edward alludes to Shakespeare's Othello. [return to text]
8. Fitz Edward lives in a fashionable area: Stephen's Green (or St. Stephen's Green) was at the time a residential square near the centre of Dublin. "King William a horseback" may be a reference to another Dublin landmark, the statue of King William III unveiled in 1701. [return to text]
9. Though the quotation is untraced, this may be a reference to the character of Lady Townly in John Vanbrugh's and Colley Cibber's The Provok'd Husband, or The Journey to London (1726), a play with some relevance to the plot involving Mr. and Mrs. Rivers; see Sir John Vanbrugh and Colley Cibber, The Provoked Husband, ed. Peter Dixon (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1973). [return to text]
10. The racist import of this passage is accentuated by the reference to Shylock, an anti-Jewish stereotype derived from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.[return to text]
11. "a barouche and four": a carriage with four horses.[return to text]
12. Possibly another reference to the Provok'd Husband: "Another rantipole Dame of Quality" (5.1.93). "Rantipole" means "romping" or "unruly."[return to text]