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Then Henry gives a kind of anguish shake,' and getting up, sighs from the bottom of his heart-then holding up his head like a king, zays-" Varmer, I have too long been a burden to you-Heaven protect you, as you have me-Farewell! I go." Then I says, "If thee does, I'll be hang'd!" (with great energy.) Hollo! you Mister Sir Philip! you may come in
Enter SIR PHILIP.
Zur, I have argufied the topic, and it wou'd'nt be pretty;" -zo I can't.
Sir Phil. Can't! absurd!
Ash. Well, zur, there is but one word-I won't.
Sir Phil. Indeed!
Ash. No, zur, I won't-I'd zee myself hang'd first, and you too, zur—I would indeed. (boring.)
Sir Phil. You refuse then to obey.
Ash. I do, zur-at your zarvice. (bowing.)
Ash. I be zorry for that too-I be indeed, zur; but if corn wou'dn't grow I cou'dn't help it. It wan't poisoned by the hand that sow'd it. This hand, zur, be as free from guilt as your own. It were never held out to clinch a hard bargain, nor will it turn a good lad out into the wide wicked world because he be poorish a bit. I be zorry you be offended, zur, quite-but come what wool, I'll never hit this hand against here, but when I be zure, that zomeit at the inzide will jump against it with pleasure. (boring.) I do hope you'll repent of all your zins, I do indeed, zur; and if you should, I'll come and zee you again as friendly as ever-I wool, indeed, zur.
Explanation of the following Scene.
Stukely, a noted gamester by the assistance of other sharpers having ruined Mr. Bexerly, by cheating him, not only of his own property, but by the artifice of a letter, wherein Stukely pretends great friendship for Mr. Beverly and his family, he persuades Mr. Beverly to rob his wife of all her jewels. and even to sell the reservation of her unele's estate. Stokely not satisfied with the ruin of Mr. Beverly's fortune, plots the dishonour of his family. But Mrs. Beverly, though reduced to extreme want. values her virtue as more precious than all the treasures of the east. She rejects his infamous proposal with a spirit of indignation becoming a woman of such moral goodness and exalted virtue.
STUKELY AND MRS. BEVERLY.
Stukely. TO meet you thus alone, Madam, was what I wished. Unseasonable visits, when friendship warrants them, need no excuse-therefore I make none.
Mrs. B. What mean you, Sir? and where is your friend?
Stu. Men have secrets, Madam, which their best friends are not admitted to. We parted in the morning, not soon
to meet again. Mrs. B.
You mean to leave us then; to leave your country too. I am no stranger to your reason, and pity your misfortunes.
Stu. Your pity has undone you. Could Beverly do this? that letter was a false one; a mean contrivance to rob you of your jewels. I wrote it not.
Mrs. B. Impossible! Whence came it then?
Stu. Wrong'd as I am, Madam, I must speak plainly. * Mrs. B. Do so, and ease me. Your hints have troubled me. Reports you say are stirring-reports of whom? You wished me not to credit them. What, Sir, are these reports?
Stu. I thought them slander, Madam, and cautioned you in friendship, lest from officious tongues the tale had reached you with double aggravation.
Mrs. B. Proceed, Sir.
Stu. It is a debt due to my fame; due to an injured wife toc-We are both injured.
Mrs. B. How injured? and who has injured us?
Mrs. B. You would resent for both then; but know, Sir, my injuries are my own, and do not need a champion.
Stu. Be not too hasty, Madam. I come not in resentment, but for acquittance. You thought me poor, and to the feigned distresses of a friend gave up your jewels. Mrs. B. I gave them to a husband.
Stu. Who gave them to a
Mrs. B. What! To whom did he give them ?
Stu. A mistress.
Mrs. B. No; on my life he did not.
Stu. Himself confessed it.
Mrs. B. I'll not believe it he has no mistress; if he has, why is it told me ?
Stu. To guard you against insults,. He told that to move you to compliance, he forged that letter, pretending I was ruined; ruined by him too. The fraud
succeeded; and what a trusting wife bestowed in pity, was lavished on a wanton.
Mrs. B. Then I am lost indeed! and my afflictions are too powerful for me. His follies I have borne without upbraiding, and saw the approach of poverty, without a tear. My affections, my strong affections, supported me through every trial.
Stu. Be patient, Madam.
Mrs. B. Patient! The barbarous, ungrateful man And does he think that the tenderness of my heart is his best security for wounding it? But he shall find injuries, such as these, can arm my weakness for vengeance and redress.
Stu. Ha! then I may succeed. (Aside.) Redress is
Stu. Forgive me, Madam, if in my zeal to serve you, I hazard your displeasure. Think of your wretched state. Already want surrounds you. Is it in patience to bear that? To see your helpless little one robbed of his birthright? A sister, too, with unavailing tears la menting her lost fortune? No comfort left you, but inef fectual pity from the few, outweighed by insults from the many.
Mrs. B. Am I so lost a creature?-Well, Sir, my re dress.
Stu. To be resolved is to secure it. The marriage vow once violated is, in the sight of Heaven, dissolved-Start not, but hear me. "Tis now the summer of your youth; time has not cropt the roses from your cheek-then use your beauty wisely, and freed by injuries, fly from the cruelest of men, for shelter with the kindest.
Mrs. B. And who is he?
Stu. A friend to the unfortunate; a bold one too, who, while the storm is bursting on your brow, and lightning flashing from your eyes, dares tell you that he loves you.
Mrs. B. Would that these eyes had Heaven's own lightning, and with a look, thus I might blast thee, monster! Am I fallen so low? Has poverty so humbled me, that I should listen to a villain's offer, and sell my soul for bread? O villain! villain-But now I know thee, and thank thee for the knowledge.
Stu. If you are wise you shall have cause to thank me. Mrs. B. An injured husband too shall thank thee. Stu. Yet know, proud woman, I have a heart as stubborn as your own; as haughty and imperious; and as it loves, so can it hate.
Mrs. B. Mean, despicable villain! I scorn thee, and thy threats. Was it for this that Beverly was false? that his too credulous wife should, in despair and vengeance, give up her honour to a wretch? But he shall know it, and vengeance shall be his.
Lewson, the friend of Mrs. Beverly's sister Charlotte, being informed of the insults offered to her by Stukely, resolves to be revenged on him for his infamous proposals.
STUKELY AND LEWSON.
Stu. Why this intrusion?-This house is mine, Sir, and should protect me from insult and ill manners. Lew. Guilt has no place of sanctuary; wherever found 'tis virtue's lawful game. The fox's hole and tyger's den are no security against the hunter.
Stu. Your business, Sir?
Lew. To tell you that I know you. Why this confusion, that look of guilt and terror? Is Beverly awake, or has his wife told tales? The man that dares like you, should have a soul to justify his deeds, and courage to confront accusers; not with a coward's fear to shrink beneath reproof.
Stu. Who waits there? (aloud and in confusion.)
Lew. By heaven, he dies who interrupts us. (shutting the door.) You should have weighed your strength, Sir, and then instead of climbing to high fortune, the world had marked you for what you are, a little paltry villain. Stu. You think I fear you.
Lew. I know you fear me. This is to prove it. (pulls ́ him by the sleeve.) You wanted privacy-A lady's presence took up your attention. Now we are alone, Sir. Why what a wretch! (flings him from him.) By Heaven, Stukely, the veriest worm that crawls is made of
braver spirit than thou art; the vilest insect in creation will turn when trampled on; yet this thing has undone a man--by cunning and mean arts undone him. But we have found you, Sir; traced you, through all your labyrinths. If you would save yourself, fall to confession; no mercy will be shewn else.
Stu. First prove me what you think me-till then your threatenings are in vain. And for this insult vengeance may yet be mine.
Lew. Infamous coward! Why take it now, then(draws, and Stukely rises.) Alas, I pity thee! Yet that a wretch like this should overcome a Beverly! It fills me with astonishment!-A wretch so mean of soul, that even desperation cannot animate him to look upon an enemy. You should not thus have soared, Sir, unless like others of your black profession, you had a sword to keep the fools in awe, your villainy has ruined.
Stu. Villainy! 'Twere best to curb this license of your tongue; for know, Sir, while there are laws, this outrage on my reputation will not be borne with.
Lew. Laws! Dar'st thou seek shelter from the laws, those laws which thou and thy infernal crew live in the open violation of? Talk'st thou of reputation too, when, under friendship's sacred name, thou hast betrayed, robbed, destroyed, and, worse than all, has tried to dishonor?
Stu. Ay, rail at gaming; 'tis a rich topic, and affords noble declamation. Go, preach against it in the city; you'll find a congregation in every tavern. If they should laugh at you, fly to my lord, and sermonize it there; he'll thank you, and reform.
Lew. And will example justify a vice? No, wretch ! the custom of my lord, or of the cit that apes him, cannot excuse a breach of law, or make the gamester's calling reputable.
Stu. Rail on, I say-but is this zeal for beggar'd Beverly? Is it for him I am treated thus? No, he and his wife might have groaned in prison, had but the sister's fortune escaped the wreck, to have rewarded the disinterested love of honest Mr. Lewson.
Lew. How I detest thee for the thought! But thou art lost to every human feeling. Yet let me tell thee,