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LORD EUSTACE AND FRAMPTON.
Ld. Eust. Well, my dear Frampton, have you secured the letters ?
Fram. Yes, my lord, for their rightful owners.
Ld. Eust. As to the matter of property, Frampton, we will not dispute much about that. Necessity, you know, may sometimes render a trespass excusable.
Fram. I am not casuist sufficient to answer you upon that subject; but this I know, that you have already trespassed against the laws of hospitality and honour, in your conduct toward sir William Evans and his daughter; and, as your friend and counsellor both, I would advise you to think seriously of repairing the injuries you have committed, and not increase your offence by a farther violation.
Ld. Eust. It is actually a pity you were not bred to the bar, Ned; but I have only a moment to stay, and am all impatience to know if there be a letter from Langwood, and what he says.
Fram. I shall never be able to afford you the least information upon that subject, my lord.
Ld. Eust. Surely I do not understand you. You said you had secured the letters—Have you not read them ?
Fram. You have a right, and none but yon, to ask me such a question. My weak compliance with your first proposal relative to these letters warrants your thinking so meanly of me.
But know, my lord, that though my personal affection for you, joined to my unhappy circumstances, may have betrayed me to actions unworthy of myself, I never can forget, that there is a barrier fixed before the extreme of baseness, which honour will not let me pass.
Ld. Eust. You will give me leave to tell you, Mr. Frampton, that where I lead, I think you need not halt.
Fram. You will pardon me, my lord; the consciousness of another man's errors can never be a justification for our own; and poor indeed must that wretch be, who can be satisfied with the negative merit of not being the worst man he knows.
Ld. Eust. If this discourse were uttered in a conventicle, it might have its effect, by setting the congregation to sleep.
Fram. It is rather meant to rouse than lull your lordship.
Ld. Eust. No matter what it is meant for; give me the letters, Mr. Frampton.
Fram. Yet excuse me. I could as soon think of arming a madman's hand against his own life, as suffer you to be guilty of a crime, that will for ever wound your honour.
Ld. Eust. I shall not come to you to heal the wound: your medicines are too rough and coarse for me.
Fram. The soft poison of flattery might, perhaps, please you better.
Ld. Eust. Your conscience may, probably, have as much need of palliatives as mine, Mr. Frampton; as I am pretty well convinced, that your course of life has not been more regular than my own.
Fram. With true contrition, my lord, I confess part of your sarcasm to be just. Pleasure was the object of my pursuit: and pleasure I obtained, at the expense both of health and fortune; but yet, my lord, I broke not in upon the
peace of others; the laws of hospitality I never violated ; nor did I ever seek to injure or seduce the wife or daughter of my
friend. Ld. Eust. I care not what you did ; give me the letters.
Fram. I have no right to keep, and therefore shall surrender them, though with the utmost reluctance ; but, by our former friendship, I entreat you not to open them.
Ld. Eust. That you have forfeited.
Fram. Since it is not in my power to prevent your committing an error, which you ought for ever to repent of, I will not be a witness of it. There are the letters.
Ld. Eust. You may, perhaps, have cause to repent your present conduct, Mr. Frampton, as much as I do our past attachment.
Fram. Rather than hold your friendship upon such terms, I resign it for ever. Farewell, my lord.
Re-enter FRAMPTON. Fram. Ill-treated as I have been, my lord, I find it impossible to leave you surrounded by difficulties.
Ld. Eus. That sentiment should have operated sooner, Mr. Frampton. Recollection is seldom of use to our friends, though it may sometimes be serviceable to ourselves.
Fram. Take advantage of your own expressions, my lord, and recollect yourself. Born and educated, as I have been, a gentleman, how have you injured both yourself and me, by admitting and uniting, in the same confidence, your rascally servant !
Ld. Eust. The exigency of my situation is a sufficient excuse to myself, and ought to have been so to the man who called himself my friend.
Fram. Have a care, my lord, of uttering the least doubt upon that subject ; for could I think you once mean enough to suspect the sincerity of my attachment to you, it must vanish at that instant.
Ld. Eust. The proofs of your regard have been rather painful of late, Mr. Frampton. Fram. When I see my friend
the verge of a precipice, is that a time for compliment? Shall I not rudely rush forward and drag him from it? Just in that state you are at present, and I will strive to save you. Virtue
may languish in a noble heart, and suffer her rival, Vice, to usurp her power; but Baseness must not enter, or she flies for ever.
The man who has forfeited his own esteem thinks all the world has the same consciousness, and therefore is, what he deserves to be, a wretch.
Ld. Eust. Oh, Framptom! you have lodged a dagger in my heart !
Fram. No, my dear Eustace, I have saved you from one, from your own reproaches, by preventing your being guilty of a meanness, which you could never have forgiven yourself.
Ld. Eust. Can you forgive me, and be still my friend?
Fram. As firmly as I have ever been, my lord. --But let us, at present, haste to get rid of the mean business we are engaged in, and forward the letters we have no right to detain.
SCHOOL FOR RAKES.
DUKE AND LORD.
Duke. Now, my co-mates, and brothers in exile,
Lord. Indeed, my lord,
In piteous chase ; and thus the hairy fool,
Duke. But what said Jaques ?
Lord. O yes, into a thousand similies.
Duke. And did you leave him in this contemplation?
Lord. We did, my lord, weeping and commenting
Duke. Show me the place;
DUKE AND JAQUES. Duke. Why, how now, Monsieur, what a life is this, That your poor friends must woo your company ? What! you look merrily.