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SCENE THE FIRST.
A paltry lodging in a country town, Ranter studying a part.
“ Yes, Altamont; to-day thy better stars
Are joined to shed their kindest influence on thee.” Deuce take the folly of these country managers ! A star can't come within fifty miles of them but they must be catching at it, when all the while they have better actors in their own company. Here's this man coming to play Lothario -He play Lothario !—and I must study Horatio, forsooth! a part of nine lengths at a day's notice. I to play Horatio! the most dull, prosy, hateful part-I'm sure that I shan't know two lines of it.
"Yes, Altamont; to-day thy better starsConfound all stars, say I.
“Yes, AltamontThere never was so vile a part !
“ Yes, AltamontLanil. Not at all, sir! my stars!
Rant. Stars again ! Don't pester me, woman. How do you think I am ever to study my part?
Landl. Lord, sir! I have got as nice a beef-steak as ever was seen-and to hear you say you won't eat it!
Raat. Get the beef-steak, then, there's a good creature; and take you elf off. Have not I told you that I've nine lengths to study!
[Exit LANDLADY. “ Yes, Altamont; to-day thy better stars Are joined to shed their kindest influence on thee;
Sciolto's noble hand, that raised thee first,”— Another interruption !
-“ to-day thy better stars,”What do you stand staring there for?
Maid. Won't you be pleased to look over your linen, sir?
[Flinging her the Money. Erit Maid. I shall never study my part here whilst the world stands. I'll go into the next room, and
lock myself in. That's my only chance.—(Goes out, repeating to himself,“ Yes, Altamont, to-day thy better stars.”
A Splendid Library.
MR MAYNARD enters, speaking to a Servant. Not at home to any one, excepting Colonel Falkland and Mr Ellis. This failure of Bland's great house, however deplorable in itself, at least bids fair to put an end to my troubles as a guardian. "Ever since Mary Conway has been under my care, she has been besieged by as many suitors as Penelope. We shall see whether the poor destitute girl will prove as attractive as the rich heiress. Falkland is an ardent lover, Ellis a modest one; Falkland is enormously rich, Ellis comparatively poor ; but whether either
Enter COLONEL FALKLAND.
Col. Falk. Most proud and happy to obey your summons. I believe that I am before my time; but where the heart is, you know, Mr Maynard-How is the fair Mary Conway? I hope she caught no cold in the Park yesterday? Mr May. None that I have heard. Col. Falk. And that she has recovered the fatigue of Tuesday's ball ? Mr May. She does not complain.
Col. Falk. No. But there is a delicacy, a fragility in her loveliness, that mingles fear of her health with admiration of her beauty.
Mr May. She is a pretty girl, and a good girl ; a very good girl, considering that, in her quality of an heiress, she has been spoilt by the adulation of every one that has approached her ever since she was born.
Col. Falk. Oh, my dear sir, you know not how often I wish that Miss Conway were not an heiress, that I might have an opportunity of proving to her and to you the sincerity and disinterestedness of my passion.
Mr May. I am glad to hear you say so.
Col. Falk. I may hope, then, for your approbation and your influence with your fair ward? You know my fortune and family?
Mr May. Both are unexceptionable.
Col. Falk. The estate which I inherited from my father is large and unencumbered ; that which will devolve to me from the maternal side is still more considerable. I am the last of my race, Mr Maynard; and my mother and aunt are, as you may imagine, very desirous to see me settled. They are most anxious to be introduced to Miss Conway; my aunt, Lady Lucy, more particularly so. Mary Conway, even were she portionless, is the very creature whom they would desire as a relative; the very being to enchant them. Mr May. I am extremely glad to hear you say so.
Enter MR ELLIS. Mr Ellis! Pray be seated.— I sent for you both, gentlemen, as the declared lovers of my ward, Miss Conway, in order to make to you an important communication.
Mr Ellis. I am afraid that I can guess its importa
Col. Falk. Yes. But what has that to do with Mary Conway ?—To the point, my good sir ; to the point.
Mr May. Well, then, to come at once to the point. Did you never hear, that, though not an ostensible partner, Mr Conway's large property was lodged in the firm ?
Mr Ellis. I had heard such a report.
Col. Falk. Mr Conway's property in Bland's house ! the house of a notorious speculator! What incredible imprudence !--All ?
Mr May. The whole.
Mr May. Whilst I live, Mary Conway can never want a home. But she is now a portionless orphan; and she desired that you, gentlemen, might be apprised of the change of her fortunes with all convenient speed, and assured,
my ward ?
that no advantage would be taken of proposals made under circumstances so different.
Mr Elis. Oh, how needless an assurance !
Mr May. I am, however, happy to find, Colonel Falkland, that your affection is so entirely centred on the lovely young woman, apart from her riches, that you will feel nothing but pleasure in an opportunity of proving the disinterestedness of your love.
Col. Falk. Why, it must be confessed, Mr Maynard,
Mr May. Your paternal estate is so splendid as to render you quite independent of fortune in a wife.
Col. Falk. Why, ye-es. But really my estate, what with the times, and one draw-back and another-Nobody knows what I pay in annuities to my father's old servants—In fact, Mr Maynard, I am not a rich man ;-not by any means a rich man.
Mr May. Then your great expectations from your mother, Lady Sarah, and your aunt, Lady Lucy.
Col. Falk. Yes. But, my dear sir, you have no notion of the aversion which Lady Lucy entertains for unequal matches ;-matches where all the money is on one side. They never turn out well, she says; and Lady Lucy is a sensible woman,-a very sensible woman. As far as my observation goes, I must say that I think her right.
Mr May. In short, then, Colonel Falkland, you no longer wish to marry
Col. Falk. Why really, my good sir, it is with great regret that I relinquish my pretensions; and if I thought that the lady's affections were engagedBut I am not vain enough to imagine, that, with a rival of so much merit
Mr Ellis (aside.) Contemptible coxcomb!
Col. Falk. Pray, assure Miss Conway of my earnest wishes for her happiness, and of the sincere interest that I shall always feel in her welfare. I have the honour to wish you a good morning.
[Going. Mr May.'A moment, sir, if you please.- What say you, Mr Ellis? Have these tidings wrought an equal change in your feelings?
Mr Ellis. They have indeed wrought a change, sir, and a most pleasant change ; since they have given me hope such as I never dared to feel before. God forgive me for being so glad of that which has grieved her! Tell Mary Conway, that for her dear sake I wish that I were richer, but that never shall I wish that she were rich for mine. Tell her that if a fortune adequate to the comforts and elegancies, though not to the splendours, of life, a pleasant country house, a welcoming family, and an adoring husband, can make her happy, I lay them at her feet. Tell her
Mr May. My dear fellow, you had far better tell her yourself. I have no doubt but she will accept your disinterested offers, and I shall heartily advise her to do so ; but you must make up your mind to a little disappointment.
Mr Ellis. How? what? How can I be disappointed, so that Miss Conway consents to be mine?
Mr May. Disappointment is not quite the word. But you will have to encounter a little derangement of your generous schemes. When you take my pretty ward, you must e'en take the burden of her riches along with her.
Col. Falk. She is not ruined then?
Mr May. No, sir. Mr Conway did at one time place a considerable sum in the firm of Messrs Bland; but finding the senior partner to be, as you observed, Colonel, a notorious speculator, he prudently withdrew it.
Col. Falk. And this was a mere stratagem?
Mr May. Why really, sir, I was willing to prove the sincerity of your professions, before confiding to you such a treasure as Mary Conway, and I think that the result has fully justified the experiment. But for your comfort, I don't think she would have had you, even if you had happened to have behaved better. My young friend here had made himself a lodgement in her heart, of which his present conduct proves him to be fully worthy. I have the hononr to wish you a very good morning.–Come, Ellis ; Mary's in music-room!
SCENR THE THIRD.
4 fushionable Morning Room.
Mr and Mrs APPERLEY at breakfast.-MR APPERLEY lays down the News
Mr App. Mrs Apperley, my dear, I want to speak to you on a subject, on which, as a mother, you have every right to be consulted; the more especially, as from your excellent sense, I have no doubt of your being entirely of my opinion. John grows a great boy,
Mrs App. Poor fellow! Yes.' He'll be ten years old the fifteenth of next month. Time slips away, Mr Apperley.
Mr App. Ten years old next month! It's high time that he should be taken from Mr Lynn's. These preparatory schools are good things for little boys ; but a lad of ten years old requires to be more tightly kept.
Mrs App. Just my opinion, Mr Apperley. The sooner you remove the poor boy from Mr Lynn's the better. They don't take half the care of him that they ought to do. Only yesterday when I called there, I found him playing at cricket without his hat-really without his hat !-in the middle of that wind, and so delicate as John is too !
Mr App. Delicate ! Pshaw! There never was anything the matter with the child but your coddling, Mrs Apperley; and Eton will soon cure him of that.
Mrs App. Eton ! Do you mean to send John to Eton?
Mrs App. Just look at the boys ; that's all. Did not the Duchess tell me herself that the poor little Marquis came home with only one skirt to his jacket, and his brother Lord Edward with scarcely a shoe to his foot ? There's a preto ty plight for you, Mr Arperley! Think of our John with his toes through his shoes, and half a skirt to his jacket!
Mr App. Pshaw !
Mrs App. Then such rude graceless pickles as they come back, with their manners more out at elbows than their clothes.
Mr App. Pshaw!
Mrs App. Then the dangers they run !-to be killed by a cricket-ball, or drowned in the Thames, or
Mr App. Pshaw! Mrs Apperley. Where now, in your wisdom, would you send the boy?
Mrs App. To Dr Courtly
Mrs App. Did you never hear of Dr Courtly's establishment for young gentlemen ?-never hear of Dr Courtly !So elegant, so comfortable, taken such care of; linen clean twice a-day ; hair curled every morning ; almond paste to wash their hands; china dinner-service; silver forks, napkins, and fingerglasses—Just ten miles off, only fourteen pupils, and happens to have a vacancy. Pray send John to Dr Courtly, Mr Apperley.
Mr App. And so make a coxcomb of the boy before his time! Not I, truly. Leave the hair-curling and the almond-paste to the instinct of eighteen. In the meanwhile I choose that he should learn Latin and Greek; and for that purpose
I shall send him to Eton. Mrs App. Lord, Mr Apperley! what is a man the better for that nonsense? You are an Etonian yourself, and pray tell me now what good has your scholarship ever done you? What use have you made of it?
Mr App. Hem! That's a point which ladies can't understand, and had better not talk about, Mrs Apperley.
Mrs App. Have you ever, during the eleven years that we have been mar. ried, read a single page of Greek or Latin, Mr Apperley ?
Mr App. Hem! Why, really, my dear
Mrs App. Or indeed a page of anything, except the newspapers and the Waverley novels ?
Mr App. How can you say so, Mrs Apperley ?
Mr App. Hem! The Quarterly-I generally look over the Quarterly; and Pepys–i dipped into Pepys; and Blackwood, Mrs Apperley! Don't I read Blackwood as regularly as the month comes ? And, in short, if you could but imagine the attic zest, the classical relish, with which a sound scholar-but this, as I said before, is what you ladies can't understand, and had better not talk about. John shall go to Éton ; that's my determination.
Mrs App. He shall go to Dr Courtly's; that's mine. How can you be so barbarous, Mr Apperley, as to think of sending John to such a place as Eton, subject as he is to chilblains, and the winter coming on? Now the Doctor has studied surgery, and dresses
Mr App. Hang the Doctor, and hang John's chilblains! The boy shall go to Eton.—That's my last word, Mrs Apperley.
Mrs App. If he does, he'll be dead in a week. But he sha'nt go to Etonthat's my resolution. And we shall see who'll have the last word, Mr Apperley--we shall see!
SCENE THE FIRST.
An Apartment in an Artists House.
Sir George Ludlow, Mr DeLaval, a Servant. Delaval. Engaged with a lady, you say? Be so good as to give your master my card. I shan't detain him an instant.
[Erit Servant. Sir George. And pray, my good friend, are you about to sit for your portrait ? And is it to consult on costume and attitude that you have brought me hither?
Del. With no such intention, I assure you.
Sir Geo. And yet you send for so fashionable an artist as Allingham, when engaged with a sitter, with as little remorse as you would feel in summoning me or any other idle gentleman of your acquaintance. You wealthy heirs have no notion of the value of time. Engaged with a lady too !
Del. Tush, man, tush! Allingham's a good fellow and my friend, and exe pects the summons. In short, I may as well confess at once what I have been trying to muster courage to tell you the whole morning, that the lady who is now sitting to him is one in whom I am particularly interested.
Sir Geo. Particularly interested! That means in love, I suppose. And the fair lady, is she particularly interested in you?
Del. I fear me, no. Sir Geo. Well, for a man of your age, figure, and fortune, that avowal has a laudable modesty. But there is no aversion to overcome, I hope ? No difficulty beyond that which a lover likes to vanquish ?
Del. I trust, not. In good truth, I believe her to be still ignorant of my passion. I met her in Paris ; danced with her at two or three balls ; escorted her to two or three show-houses; lost my heart; followed her to England; and have been in full chase of the divinity for the last fortnight, without being once able to catch sight of her! Never was mortal so unlucky. As fast as I pursued her to one place, so sure was she to be flown to another. At last I heard accidentally that Allingham was painting her portrait, and arranged with him to be let in by mistake this morning whilst she was sitting.