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my daughters, like servants at a statute-fair? think that I will suffer you, or any man in the world, to come into my house like the Grand Seignior, and throw the handkerchief first to one, and then to the other, just as he pleases? Do you think I drive a kind of African slave. trade with them ? and—
Sir John. A moment's patience, Sir! Nothing but the excess of my passion for Miss Fanny should have induced me to take any step that had the least appearance of disrespect to any part of your family, and even now I am desirous to atone for my transgression by making the most adequate compensation that lies in my power.
Sterl. Compensation! What compensation can you possibly make in such a case as this, Sir John ?
Sir John. Come, come, Mr. Sterling ; I know you to be a man of sense, and a man of business, a man of the world. I will deal frankly with you ;
shall see that I do not desire a change of measures for my own gratification, without endeavouring to make it advantageous to you,
Sterl. What advantage can your inconstancy be to me, Sir John ?
Sir John. I will tell you, Sir. You know that, by the articles at present subsisting between us, on the day of my marriage with Miss Sterling you agree to pay down the gross sum of eighty thousaud pounds.
Sterl. Well !
Sir John. Now, if you will but consent to my waving that marriage
Sterl. I agree to your waving that marriage! Impossible, Sir John.
Sir John. I hope not, Sir; as, on my part, I will agree to wave my right to thirty thousand pounds of the fortune I was to receive with her.
Sterl. Thirty thousand, do you say?
Sir John. Yes, Sir; and accept of Miss Fanny, with fifty thousand instead of fourscore.
Sterl. Fifty thousand-
Sterl. Why, why, there may be something in that.Let me see; Fanny with fifty thousand instead of Betsy with fourscore. But how can this be, Sir John? For
I am to pay this money into the hands of
Lord Ogleby; who, I believe, betwixt you and me, Sir John, is not overstocked with ready money at present; and threescore thousand of it you know, are to go to pay off the present incumbrances on the estate, Sir John.
Sir John. That objection is easily obviated. Ten of the twenty thousand, which would remain as a surplus of the fourscore, after paying off the mortgage, was intended by his lordship for my use, that we might set off with some little eclat on our marriage; and the other ten for his own. Ten thousand pounds therefore I shall be able to pay you immediately; and for the remaining twenty thousand you shall have a mortgage on that part of the estate which is to be made over to me, with whatever security you shall require for the regular payment of the interest, till the principal is duly discharged.
Sterl. Why, to do you justice, Sir John, there is something fair and open in your proposal ; and since I find you do not mean to put an affront upon the family
Sir John. Nothing was ever farther from my thoughts, Mr. Sterling. And after all, the whole affair is nothing extraordinary; such things happen every day; and as the world had only heard generally of a treaty between the families, when this marriage takes place, nobody will be the wiser, if we have but discretion enough to keep our own counsel.
Sterl. True, true; and since you only transfer from one girl to the other, it is no more than transferring so much stock, you know.
Sir John. The very thing.
Sterl. Odso! I had quite forgot. We are reckoning without our host here. There is another difficulty
Sir John. You alarm me. What can that be?
Sterl. I cannot stir a step in this business without consulting my sister Heidelberg. The family has very great expectations from her, and we must not give her any offence.
Sir John. But if you come into this measure, surely she will be so kind as to consent
Sterl. I do not know that. Betsy is her darling ; and I cannot tell how far she may resent any slight that seems to be offered to her favourite niece. However, I will do the best I can for you. You shall go and break the matter to her first, and by the time that I may suppose that your
rhetoric has prevailed on her to listen to reason, I will step in to reinforce your arguments.
Sir John. I will fly to her immediately : you promise me your assistance ?
Sterl. I do.
Sir John. Ten thousand thanks for it! and now success attend me!
Sterl. Harkee, Sir John !- Not a word of the thirty thousand to my sister, Sir John.
Sir John. O, I am dumb, I am dumb, Sir.
Sterl. But, Sir John, one thing more. My lord must know nothing of this stroke of friendship between us.
Sir John. Not for the world. Let me alone! let me alone!
Sterl. And when every thing is agreed, we must give each other a bond to be held fast to the bargain.
Sir John. To be sure, a bond by all means ! a bond, or whatever you please.
Sterl. I should have thought of more conditions ; he is in a humour to give me everything. Why, what mere children are your fellows of quality ; that cry for a plaything one minute, and throw it by the next! as changeable as the weather and as uncertain as the stocks. Special fellows to drive a bargain! and yet they are to take care of the interest of the nation truly! Here does this whirligig man of fashion offer to give up thirty thousand pounds in hard money, with as much indifference as if it was a china orange. By this mortgage, I shall have hold of his Terra Firma : and if he wants more money, as he certainly will, let him have children by my daughter or no, I shall have his whole estate in a net for the benefit of my family. Well; thus it is, that the children of citizens, who have acquired fortunes, prove persons of fashion ; and thus it is, that persons of fashion, who have ruined their fortunes, reduce the next generation to cits.
BELCOUR AND STOCKWELL,
Stock. Mr. Belcour, I am rejoiced to see you; you are welcome to England.
Bel. I thank you heartily, good Mr. Stockwell ; you and I have long conversed at a distance; now we are met, and the pleasure this meeting gives me, amply compensates for the perils I have run through in accomplishing it.
Stock. What perils, Mr. Belcour? I could not have thought you would have met a bad passage at this time o'year.
Bel. Nor did we: courier-like, we came posting to your shores
upon the pinions of the swiftest gales that ever blew; it is upon English ground all my difficulties have arisen ; it is the passage from the river-side I complain of.
Stock. Ay, indeed. What obstructions can you have met between this and the river side?
Bel. Innumerable! Your town's as full of defiles as the island of Corsica ; and, I believe, they are as obstinately defended : so much hurry, bustle, and confusion on your quays; so many sugar-casks, porter-butts, and comnion council men in your streets ; that, unless a man marched with artillery in his front, it is more than the labour of a Hercules can effect, to make any tolerable way through
Stock. I am sorry you have been so incommoded.
Bel. Why, faith, it was all my own fault; accustomed to a land of slaves, and out of patience with the whole tribe of customhouse extortioners, boatmen, tidewaiters, and waterbailiffs that beset me on all sides worse than a of mosquitos, I proceeded a little too roughly to brush them away with my rattan ; the sturdy rogues took this in dudgeon, and beginning to rebel, the mob chose different sides, and a furious scuffle ensued; in the course of which iny person and apparel suffered so much that I was obliged to step into the first tavern to refit before I could make my approaches in any decent trim.
Stock. Well, Mr. Belcour, it is a rough sample you have
had of my countrymen's spirit; but, I trust, you will not think the worse of them for it.
Bel. Not at all; not at all; I like them the better : were I only a visitor, I might, perhaps, wish them a little more tractable'; but as a fellow-subject, and a sharer in their freedom, I applaud their spirit, though I feel the effect of it in every bone in my skin.--Well, Mr. Stockwell, for the first time in my life here am I in England; at the fountain-head of pleasure, in the land of beauty, of arts, and elegancies. My happy stars have given me a good estate, and the conspiring winds have blown me hither to spend it.
Stock. To use it, not to waste it, I should hope; to treat it, Mr. Belcour, not as a vassal, over whom you have a wanton despotic power ; but as a subject, which you are bound to govern with a temperate and restrained authority.
Bel. True, Sir; most truly said ; mine 's a commission, not a right: I am the offspring of distress, and every child of sorrow is my brother. While I have hands to hold, therefore, I will hold them open to mankind : but, Sir, my passions are my masters; they take me where they will, and oftentimes they leave to reason and virtue nothing but my wishes and my sighs.
Stock. Come, come, the man who can accuse, corrects himself. Bel. Ah! that is an office I
I wish a friend would take it up: I would to heaven you had leisure for the employ! but, did you drive a trade to the four corners of the world, you would not find the task so toilsome as to keep me free from faults.
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged, this candour tells me I should not have the fault of self-conceit to combat ; that, at least, is not among the number.
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth, who thought more humbly of me than I do of myself, I would take up his opinion and forego my own.
Stock. And, were I to choose a pupil, it should be one of your complexion ; so, if you will come along with me, we will agree upon your admission, and enter upon a course of lectures directly. Bel, With all