Stoops to Conquer; or, The Mistakes of a Night"
To Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
Dear Sir,—By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do
not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me
some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many
years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of
mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be
found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected
I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your
partiality to this performance. The undertaking a comedy not
merely sentimental was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who
saw this piece in its various stages, always thought it so.
However, I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though
it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have
every reason to be grateful.
I am, dear Sir, your most sincere friend and admirer,
ACT THE FIRST.
ACT THE SECOND.
ACT THE THIRD.
ACT THE FOURTH.
ACT THE FIFTH.
By David Garrick, Esq.
Enter MR. WOODWARD, dressed in black, and holding a
handkerchief to his eyes.
Excuse me, sirs, I pray—I can't yet speak—
I'm crying now—and have been all the week.
"'Tis not alone this mourning suit," good masters:
"I've that within"—for which there are no plasters!
Pray, would you know the reason why I'm crying?
The Comic Muse, long sick, is now a-dying!
And if she goes, my tears will never stop;
For as a player, I can't squeeze out one drop:
I am undone, that's all—shall lose my bread—
I'd rather, but that's nothing—lose my head.
When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier,
Shuter and I shall be chief mourners here.
To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed,
Who deals in sentimentals, will succeed!
Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents;
We can as soon speak Greek as sentiments!
Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up.
We now and then take down a hearty cup.
What shall we do? If Comedy forsake us,
They'll turn us out, and no one else will take us.
But why can't I be moral?—Let me try—
My heart thus pressing—fixed my face and eye—
With a sententious look, that nothing means,
(Faces are blocks in sentimental scenes)
Thus I begin: "All is not gold that glitters,
"Pleasure seems sweet, but proves a glass of bitters.
"When Ignorance enters, Folly is at hand:
"Learning is better far than house and land.
"Let not your virtue trip; who trips may stumble,
"And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble."
I give it up—morals won't do for me;
To make you laugh, I must play tragedy.
One hope remains—hearing the maid was ill,
A Doctor comes this night to show his skill.
To cheer her heart, and give your muscles motion,
He, in Five Draughts prepar'd, presents a potion:
A kind of magic charm—for be assur'd,
If you will swallow it, the maid is cur'd:
But desperate the Doctor, and her case is,
If you reject the dose, and make wry faces!
This truth he boasts, will boast it while he lives,
No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he gives.
Should he succeed, you'll give him his degree;
If not, within he will receive no fee!
The College YOU, must his pretensions back,
Pronounce him Regular, or dub him Quack.
SIR CHARLES MARLOW Mr. Gardner.
YOUNG MARLOW (His Son) Mr. Lee Lewes.
HARDCASTLE Mr. Shuter.
HASTINGS Mr. Dubellamy.
TONY LUMPKIN Mr. Quick.
DIGGORY Mr. Saunders.
MRS. HARDCASTLE Mrs. Green.
MISS HARDCASTLE Mrs. Bulkley.
MISS NEVILLE Mrs. Kniveton.
MAID Miss Williams.
LANDLORD, SERVANTS, Etc. Etc.
ACT THE FIRST.
SCENE—A Chamber in an old-fashioned House.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MR. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very
particular. Is there a creature in the whole country but
ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then,
to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs,
and our neighbour Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month's
polishing every winter.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to
last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep
its own fools at home! In my time, the follies of the town
crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a
stage-coach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside
passengers, but in the very basket.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, your times were fine times indeed;
you have been telling us of them for many a long year. Here
we live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the
world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best
visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little
Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and all our
entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke
of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.
HARDCASTLE. And I love it. I love everything that's old:
old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine;
and I believe, Dorothy (taking her hand), you'll own I have
been pretty fond of an old wife.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're for ever at
your Dorothys and your old wifes. You may be a Darby, but
I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make
me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and
make money of that.
HARDCASTLE. Let me see; twenty added to twenty makes just
fifty and seven.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle; I was but
twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr.
Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to years of
HARDCASTLE. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you
have taught him finely.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good
fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't
think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a
HARDCASTLE. Learning, quotha! a mere composition of
tricks and mischief.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Humour, my dear; nothing but humour.
Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little
HARDCASTLE. I'd sooner allow him a horse-pond. If burning
the footmen's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the
kittens be humour, he has it. It was but yesterday he
fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to
make a bow, I popt my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. And am I to blame? The poor boy was
always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his
death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what
a year or two's Latin may do for him?
HARDCASTLE. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle. No, no; the
alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now,
for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Anybody that
looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the
MRS. HARDCASTLE. He coughs sometimes.
HARDCASTLE. Yes, when his liquor goes the wrong way.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I'm actually afraid of his lungs.
HARDCASTLE. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops
like a speaking trumpet—(Tony hallooing behind the
scenes)—O, there he goes—a very consumptive figure, truly.
Enter TONY, crossing the stage.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Tony, where are you going, my charmer?
Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee?
TONY. I'm in haste, mother; I cannot stay.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. You shan't venture out this raw evening,
my dear; you look most shockingly.
TONY. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects
me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
HARDCASTLE. Ay; the alehouse, the old place: I thought
MRS. HARDCASTLE. A low, paltry set of fellows.
TONY. Not so low, neither. There's Dick Muggins the
exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, Little Aminadab that
grinds the music box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one
night at least.
TONY. As for disappointing them, I should not so much
mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (detaining him.) You shan't go.
TONY. I will, I tell you.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I say you shan't.
TONY. We'll see which is strongest, you or I. [Exit,
hauling her out.]
HARDCASTLE. (solus.) Ay, there goes a pair that only
spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination
to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my
pretty darling Kate! the fashions of the times have almost
infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as
fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE.
HARDCASTLE. Blessings on my pretty innocence! drest out
as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous
silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the
fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed
out of the trimmings of the vain.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You know our agreement, sir. You allow
me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my
own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress
to please you.
HARDCASTLE. Well, remember, I insist on the terms of our
agreement; and, by the bye, I believe I shall have occasion
to try your obedience this very evening.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I protest, sir, I don't comprehend your
HARDCASTLE. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the
young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town
this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he
informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow
himself shortly after.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Indeed! I wish I had known something of
this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand
to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and
so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for
friendship or esteem.
HARDCASTLE. Depend upon it, child, I'll never control
your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is
the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you
have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been
bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the
service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent
MISS HARDCASTLE. Is he?
HARDCASTLE. Very generous.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I believe I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. Young and brave.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm sure I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. And very handsome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My dear papa, say no more, (kissing his
hand), he's mine; I'll have him.
HARDCASTLE. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most
bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Eh! you have frozen me to death again.
That word RESERVED has undone all the rest of his
accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes
a suspicious husband.
HARDCASTLE. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a
breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the
very feature in his character that first struck me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. He must have more striking features to
catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so
handsome, and so everything as you mention, I believe he'll
do still. I think I'll have him.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle.
It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My dear papa, why will you mortify one
so?—Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his
indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set
my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less
HARDCASTLE. Bravely resolved! In the mean time I'll go
prepare the servants for his reception: as we seldom see
company, they want as much training as a company of recruits
the first day's muster. [Exit.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Alone). Lud, this news of papa's puts
me all in a flutter. Young, handsome: these he put last; but
I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all
that. But then reserved and sheepish; that's much against
him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught
to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't I—But I vow I'm
disposing of the husband before I have secured the lover.
Enter MISS NEVILLE.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear.
Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there
anything whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking
days, child? Am I in face to-day?
MISS NEVILLE. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look
again—bless me!—sure no accident has happened among the
canary birds or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat
been meddling? or has the last novel been too moving?
MISS HARDCASTLE. No; nothing of all this. I have been
threatened—I can scarce get it out—I have been threatened
with a lover.
MISS NEVILLE. And his name—
MISS HARDCASTLE. Is Marlow.
MISS NEVILLE. Indeed!
MISS HARDCASTLE. The son of Sir Charles Marlow.
MISS NEVILLE. As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr.
Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you
must have seen him when we lived in town.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never.
MISS NEVILLE. He's a very singular character, I assure
you. Among women of reputation and virtue he is the
modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very
different character among creatures of another stamp: you
MISS HARDCASTLE. An odd character indeed. I shall never
be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more
of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes
on your own affair, my dear? has my mother been courting you
for my brother Tony as usual?
MISS NEVILLE. I have just come from one of our agreeable
tete-a-tetes. She has been saying a hundred tender things,
and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of
MISS HARDCASTLE. And her partiality is such, that she
actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small
temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it,
I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of
MISS NEVILLE. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists
in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if
my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too
hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am
in love with her son; and she never once dreams that my
affections are fixed upon another.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My good brother holds out stoutly. I
could almost love him for hating you so.
MISS NEVILLE. It is a good-natured creature at bottom,
and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but
himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk
round the improvements. Allons! Courage is necessary, as our
affairs are critical.
MISS HARDCASTLE. "Would it were bed-time, and all were
SCENE—An Alehouse Room. Several shabby Fellows with punch
and tobacco. TONY at the head of the table, a little higher
than the rest, a mallet in his hand.
OMNES. Hurrea! hurrea! hurrea! bravo!
FIRST FELLOW Now, gentlemen, silence for a song. The
'squire is going to knock himself down for a song.
OMNES. Ay, a song, a song!
TONY. Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a song I made upon
this alehouse, the Three Pigeons.
Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning,
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives GENUS a better discerning.
Let them brag of their heathenish gods,
Their Lethes, their Styxes, and Stygians,
Their Quis, and their Quaes, and their Quods,
They're all but a parcel of Pigeons.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
When methodist preachers come down,
A-preaching that drinking is sinful,
I'll wager the rascals a crown,
They always preach best with a skinful.
But when you come down with your pence,
For a slice of their scurvy religion,
I'll leave it to all men of sense,
But you, my good friend, are the Pigeon.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
Then come, put the jorum about,
And let us be merry and clever,
Our hearts and our liquors are stout,
Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever.
Let some cry up woodcock or hare,
Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons;
But of all the GAY birds in the air,
Here's a health to the Three Jolly Pigeons.
Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.
OMNES. Bravo, bravo!
FIRST FELLOW. The 'squire has got spunk in him.
SECOND FELLOW. I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never
gives us nothing that's low.
THIRD FELLOW. O damn anything that's low, I cannot bear
FOURTH FELLOW. The genteel thing is the genteel thing any
time: if so be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation
THIRD FELLOW. I likes the maxum of it, Master Muggins.
What, though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a
gentleman for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear
ever dances but to the very genteelest of tunes; "Water
Parted," or "The minuet in Ariadne."
SECOND FELLOW. What a pity it is the 'squire is not come
to his own. It would be well for all the publicans within
ten miles round of him.
TONY. Ecod, and so it would, Master Slang. I'd then show
what it was to keep choice of company.
SECOND FELLOW. O he takes after his own father for that.
To be sure old 'Squire Lumpkin was the finest gentleman I
ever set my eyes on. For winding the straight horn, or
beating a thicket for a hare, or a wench, he never had his
fellow. It was a saying in the place, that he kept the best
horses, dogs, and girls, in the whole county.
TONY. Ecod, and when I'm of age, I'll be no bastard, I
promise you. I have been thinking of Bet Bouncer and the
miller's grey mare to begin with. But come, my boys, drink
about and be merry, for you pay no reckoning. Well, Stingo,
what's the matter?
LANDLORD. There be two gentlemen in a post-chaise at the
door. They have lost their way upo' the forest; and they are
talking something about Mr. Hardcastle.
TONY. As sure as can be, one of them must be the
gentleman that's coming down to court my sister. Do they
seem to be Londoners?
LANDLORD. I believe they may. They look woundily like
TONY. Then desire them to step this way, and I'll set
them right in a twinkling. (Exit Landlord.) Gentlemen, as
they mayn't be good enough company for you, step down for a
moment, and I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon.
TONY. (solus). Father-in-law has been calling me whelp
and hound this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so
revenged upon the old grumbletonian. But then I'm
afraid—afraid of what? I shall soon be worth fifteen hundred
a year, and let him frighten me out of THAT if he can.
Enter Landlord, conducting MARLOW and HASTINGS.
MARLOW. What a tedious uncomfortable day have we had of
it! We were told it was but forty miles across the country,
and we have come above threescore.
HASTINGS. And all, Marlow, from that unaccountable
reserve of yours, that would not let us inquire more
frequently on the way.
MARLOW. I own, Hastings, I am unwilling to lay myself
under an obligation to every one I meet, and often stand the
chance of an unmannerly answer.
HASTINGS. At present, however, we are not likely to
receive any answer.
TONY. No offence, gentlemen. But I'm told you have been
inquiring for one Mr. Hardcastle in these parts. Do you know
what part of the country you are in?
HASTINGS. Not in the least, sir, but should thank you for
TONY. Nor the way you came?
HASTINGS. No, sir: but if you can inform us——
TONY. Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you
are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the
first thing I have to inform you is, that—you have lost your
MARLOW. We wanted no ghost to tell us that.
TONY. Pray, gentlemen, may I be so bold so as to ask the
place from whence you came?
MARLOW. That's not necessary towards directing us where
we are to go.
TONY. No offence; but question for question is all fair,
you know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a
cross-grained, old-fashioned, whimsical fellow, with an ugly
face, a daughter, and a pretty son?
HASTINGS. We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the
family you mention.
TONY. The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping,
talkative maypole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable
youth, that everybody is fond of.
MARLOW. Our information differs in this. The daughter is
said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward
booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother's apron-string.
TONY. He-he-hem!—Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you
is, that you won't reach Mr. Hardcastle's house this night,
TONY. It's a damn'd long, dark, boggy, dirty, dangerous
way. Stingo, tell the gentlemen the way to Mr. Hardcastle's!
(Winking upon the Landlord.) Mr. Hardcastle's, of Quagmire
Marsh, you understand me.
LANDLORD. Master Hardcastle's! Lock-a-daisy, my masters,
you're come a deadly deal wrong! When you came to the bottom
of the hill, you should have crossed down Squash Lane.
MARLOW. Cross down Squash Lane!
LANDLORD. Then you were to keep straight forward, till
you came to four roads.
MARLOW. Come to where four roads meet?
TONY. Ay; but you must be sure to take only one of them.
MARLOW. O, sir, you're facetious.
TONY. Then keeping to the right, you are to go sideways
till you come upon Crackskull Common: there you must look
sharp for the track of the wheel, and go forward till you
come to farmer Murrain's barn. Coming to the farmer's barn,
you are to turn to the right, and then to the left, and then
to the right about again, till you find out the old mill—
MARLOW. Zounds, man! we could as soon find out the
HASTINGS. What's to be done, Marlow?
MARLOW. This house promises but a poor reception; though
perhaps the landlord can accommodate us.
LANDLORD. Alack, master, we have but one spare bed in the
TONY. And to my knowledge, that's taken up by three
lodgers already. (After a pause, in which the rest seem
disconcerted.) I have hit it. Don't you think, Stingo, our
landlady could accommodate the gentlemen by the fire-side,
with——three chairs and a bolster?
HASTINGS. I hate sleeping by the fire-side.
MARLOW. And I detest your three chairs and a bolster.
TONY. You do, do you? then, let me see—what if you go on
a mile further, to the Buck's Head; the old Buck's Head on
the hill, one of the best inns in the whole county?
HASTINGS. O ho! so we have escaped an adventure for this
LANDLORD. (apart to TONY). Sure, you ben't sending them
to your father's as an inn, be you?
TONY. Mum, you fool you. Let THEM find that out. (To
them.) You have only to keep on straight forward, till you
come to a large old house by the road side. You'll see a
pair of large horns over the door. That's the sign. Drive up
the yard, and call stoutly about you.
HASTINGS. Sir, we are obliged to you. The servants can't
miss the way?
TONY. No, no: but I tell you, though, the landlord is
rich, and going to leave off business; so he wants to be
thought a gentleman, saving your presence, he! he! he! He'll
be for giving you his company; and, ecod, if you mind him,
he'll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his
aunt a justice of peace.
LANDLORD. A troublesome old blade, to be sure; but a
keeps as good wines and beds as any in the whole country.
MARLOW. Well, if he supplies us with these, we shall want
no farther connexion. We are to turn to the right, did you
TONY. No, no; straight forward. I'll just step myself,
and show you a piece of the way. (To the Landlord.) Mum!
LANDLORD. Ah, bless your heart, for a sweet,
pleasant—damn'd mischievous son of a whore. [Exeunt.]
ACT THE SECOND.
SCENE—An old-fashioned House.
Enter HARDCASTLE, followed by three or four awkward
HARDCASTLE. Well, I hope you are perfect in the table
exercise I have been teaching you these three days. You all
know your posts and your places, and can show that you have
been used to good company, without ever stirring from home.
OMNES. Ay, ay.
HARDCASTLE. When company comes you are not to pop out and
stare, and then run in again, like frightened rabbits in a
OMNES. No, no.
HARDCASTLE. You, Diggory, whom I have taken from the
barn, are to make a show at the side-table; and you, Roger,
whom I have advanced from the plough, are to place yourself
behind my chair. But you're not to stand so, with your hands
in your pockets. Take your hands from your pockets, Roger;
and from your head, you blockhead you. See how Diggory
carries his hands. They're a little too stiff, indeed, but
that's no great matter.
DIGGORY. Ay, mind how I hold them. I learned to hold my
hands this way when I was upon drill for the militia. And so
being upon drill——
HARDCASTLE. You must not be so talkative, Diggory. You
must be all attention to the guests. You must hear us talk,
and not think of talking; you must see us drink, and not
think of drinking; you must see us eat, and not think of
DIGGORY. By the laws, your worship, that's parfectly
unpossible. Whenever Diggory sees yeating going forward,
ecod, he's always wishing for a mouthful himself.
HARDCASTLE. Blockhead! Is not a belly-full in the kitchen
as good as a belly-full in the parlour? Stay your stomach
with that reflection.
DIGGORY. Ecod, I thank your worship, I'll make a shift to
stay my stomach with a slice of cold beef in the pantry.
HARDCASTLE. Diggory, you are too talkative.—Then, if I
happen to say a good thing, or tell a good story at table,
you must not all burst out a-laughing, as if you made part
of the company.
DIGGORY. Then ecod your worship must not tell the story
of Ould Grouse in the gun-room: I can't help laughing at
that—he! he! he!—for the soul of me. We have laughed at that
these twenty years—ha! ha! ha!
HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! The story is a good one. Well,
honest Diggory, you may laugh at that—but still remember to
be attentive. Suppose one of the company should call for a
glass of wine, how will you behave? A glass of wine, sir, if
you please (to DIGGORY).—Eh, why don't you move?
DIGGORY. Ecod, your worship, I never have courage till I
see the eatables and drinkables brought upo' the table, and
then I'm as bauld as a lion.
HARDCASTLE. What, will nobody move?
FIRST SERVANT. I'm not to leave this pleace.
SECOND SERVANT. I'm sure it's no pleace of mine.
THIRD SERVANT. Nor mine, for sartain.
DIGGORY. Wauns, and I'm sure it canna be mine.
HARDCASTLE. You numskulls! and so while, like your
betters, you are quarrelling for places, the guests must be
starved. O you dunces! I find I must begin all over
again——But don't I hear a coach drive into the yard? To your
posts, you blockheads. I'll go in the mean time and give my
old friend's son a hearty reception at the gate. [Exit
DIGGORY. By the elevens, my pleace is gone quite out of
ROGER. I know that my pleace is to be everywhere.
FIRST SERVANT. Where the devil is mine?
SECOND SERVANT. My pleace is to be nowhere at all; and so
I'ze go about my business. [Exeunt Servants, running about
as if frightened, different ways.]
Enter Servant with candles, showing in MARLOW and
SERVANT. Welcome, gentlemen, very welcome! This way.
HASTINGS. After the disappointments of the day, welcome
once more, Charles, to the comforts of a clean room and a
good fire. Upon my word, a very well-looking house; antique
MARLOW. The usual fate of a large mansion. Having first
ruined the master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to
levy contributions as an inn.
HASTINGS. As you say, we passengers are to be taxed to
pay all these fineries. I have often seen a good sideboard,
or a marble chimney-piece, though not actually put in the
bill, inflame a reckoning confoundedly.
MARLOW. Travellers, George, must pay in all places: the
only difference is, that in good inns you pay dearly for
luxuries; in bad inns you are fleeced and starved.
HASTINGS. You have lived very much among them. In truth,
I have been often surprised, that you who have seen so much
of the world, with your natural good sense, and your many
opportunities, could never yet acquire a requisite share of
MARLOW. The Englishman's malady. But tell me, George,
where could I have learned that assurance you talk of? My
life has been chiefly spent in a college or an inn, in
seclusion from that lovely part of the creation that chiefly
teach men confidence. I don't know that I was ever
familiarly acquainted with a single modest woman—except my
mother—But among females of another class, you know——
HASTINGS. Ay, among them you are impudent enough of all
MARLOW. They are of US, you know.
HASTINGS. But in the company of women of reputation I
never saw such an idiot, such a trembler; you look for all
the world as if you wanted an opportunity of stealing out of
MARLOW. Why, man, that's because I do want to steal out
of the room. Faith, I have often formed a resolution to
break the ice, and rattle away at any rate. But I don't know
how, a single glance from a pair of fine eyes has totally
overset my resolution. An impudent fellow may counterfeit
modesty; but I'll be hanged if a modest man can ever
HASTINGS. If you could but say half the fine things to
them that I have heard you lavish upon the bar-maid of an
inn, or even a college bed-maker——
MARLOW. Why, George, I can't say fine things to them;
they freeze, they petrify me. They may talk of a comet, or a
burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but, to me, a
modest woman, drest out in all her finery, is the most
tremendous object of the whole creation.
HASTINGS. Ha! ha! ha! At this rate, man, how can you ever
expect to marry?
MARLOW. Never; unless, as among kings and princes, my
bride were to be courted by proxy. If, indeed, like an
Eastern bridegroom, one were to be introduced to a wife he
never saw before, it might be endured. But to go through all
the terrors of a formal courtship, together with the episode
of aunts, grandmothers, and cousins, and at last to blurt
out the broad staring question of, Madam, will you marry me?
No, no, that's a strain much above me, I assure you.
HASTINGS. I pity you. But how do you intend behaving to
the lady you are come down to visit at the request of your
MARLOW. As I behave to all other ladies. Bow very low,
answer yes or no to all her demands—But for the rest, I
don't think I shall venture to look in her face till I see
my father's again.
HASTINGS. I'm surprised that one who is so warm a friend
can be so cool a lover.
MARLOW. To be explicit, my dear Hastings, my chief
inducement down was to be instrumental in forwarding your
happiness, not my own. Miss Neville loves you, the family
don't know you; as my friend you are sure of a reception,
and let honour do the rest.
HASTINGS. My dear Marlow! But I'll suppress the emotion.
Were I a wretch, meanly seeking to carry off a fortune, you
should be the last man in the world I would apply to for
assistance. But Miss Neville's person is all I ask, and that
is mine, both from her deceased father's consent, and her
MARLOW. Happy man! You have talents and art to captivate
any woman. I'm doom'd to adore the sex, and yet to converse
with the only part of it I despise. This stammer in my
address, and this awkward prepossessing visage of mine, can
never permit me to soar above the reach of a milliner's
'prentice, or one of the duchesses of Drury-lane. Pshaw!
this fellow here to interrupt us.
HARDCASTLE. Gentlemen, once more you are heartily
welcome. Which is Mr. Marlow? Sir, you are heartily welcome.
It's not my way, you see, to receive my friends with my back
to the fire. I like give them a hearty reception in the old
style at my gate. I like to see their horses and trunks
taken care of.
MARLOW. (Aside.) He has got our names from the servants
already. (To him.) We approve your caution and hospitality,
sir. (To HASTINGS.) I have been thinking, George, of
changing our travelling dresses in the morning. I am grown
confoundedly ashamed of mine.
HARDCASTLE. I beg, Mr. Marlow, you'll use no ceremony in
HASTINGS. I fancy, Charles, you're right: the first blow
is half the battle. I intend opening the campaign with the
white and gold.
HARDCASTLE. Mr. Marlow—Mr. Hastings—gentlemen—pray be
under no constraint in this house. This is Liberty-hall,
gentlemen. You may do just as you please here.
MARLOW. Yet, George, if we open the campaign too fiercely
at first, we may want ammunition before it is over. I think
to reserve the embroidery to secure a retreat.
HARDCASTLE. Your talking of a retreat, Mr. Marlow, puts
me in mind of the Duke of Marlborough, when we went to
besiege Denain. He first summoned the garrison——
MARLOW. Don't you think the ventre d'or waistcoat will do
with the plain brown?
HARDCASTLE. He first summoned the garrison, which might
consist of about five thousand men——
HASTINGS. I think not: brown and yellow mix but very
HARDCASTLE. I say, gentlemen, as I was telling you, be
summoned the garrison, which might consist of about five
MARLOW. The girls like finery.
HARDCASTLE. Which might consist of about five thousand
men, well appointed with stores, ammunition, and other
implements of war. Now, says the Duke of Marlborough to
George Brooks, that stood next to him—you must have heard of
George Brooks—I'll pawn my dukedom, says he, but I take that
garrison without spilling a drop of blood. So——
MARLOW. What, my good friend, if you gave us a glass of
punch in the mean time; it would help us to carry on the
siege with vigour.
HARDCASTLE. Punch, sir! (Aside.) This is the most
unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with.
MARLOW. Yes, sir, punch. A glass of warm punch, after our
journey, will be comfortable. This is Liberty-hall, you
HARDCASTLE. Here's a cup, sir.
MARLOW. (Aside.) So this fellow, in his Liberty-hall,
will only let us have just what he pleases.
HARDCASTLE. (Taking the cup.) I hope you'll find it to
your mind. I have prepared it with my own hands, and I
believe you'll own the ingredients are tolerable. Will you
be so good as to pledge me, sir? Here, Mr. Marlow, here is
to our better acquaintance. [Drinks.]
MARLOW. (Aside.) A very impudent fellow this! but he's a
character, and I'll humour him a little. Sir, my service to
HASTINGS. (Aside.) I see this fellow wants to give us his
company, and forgets that he's an innkeeper, before he has
learned to be a gentleman.
MARLOW. From the excellence of your cup, my old friend, I
suppose you have a good deal of business in this part of the
country. Warm work, now and then, at elections, I suppose.
HARDCASTLE. No, sir, I have long given that work over.
Since our betters have hit upon the expedient of electing
each other, there is no business "for us that sell ale."
HASTINGS. So, then, you have no turn for politics, I
HARDCASTLE. Not in the least. There was a time, indeed, I
fretted myself about the mistakes of government, like other
people; but finding myself every day grow more angry, and
the government growing no better, I left it to mend itself.
Since that, I no more trouble my head about Hyder Ally, or
Ally Cawn, than about Ally Croker. Sir, my service to you.
HASTINGS. So that with eating above stairs, and drinking
below, with receiving your friends within, and amusing them
without, you lead a good pleasant bustling life of it.
HARDCASTLE. I do stir about a great deal, that's certain.
Half the differences of the parish are adjusted in this very
MARLOW. (After drinking.) And you have an argument in
your cup, old gentleman, better than any in
HARDCASTLE. Ay, young gentleman, that, and a little
MARLOW. (Aside.) Well, this is the first time I ever
heard of an innkeeper's philosophy.
HASTINGS. So then, like an experienced general, you
attack them on every quarter. If you find their reason
manageable, you attack it with your philosophy; if you find
they have no reason, you attack them with this. Here's your
health, my philosopher. [Drinks.]
HARDCASTLE. Good, very good, thank you; ha! ha! Your
generalship puts me in mind of Prince Eugene, when he fought
the Turks at the battle of Belgrade. You shall hear.
MARLOW. Instead of the battle of Belgrade, I believe it's
almost time to talk about supper. What has your philosophy
got in the house for supper?
HARDCASTLE. For supper, sir! (Aside.) Was ever such a
request to a man in his own house?
MARLOW. Yes, sir, supper, sir; I begin to feel an
appetite. I shall make devilish work to-night in the larder,
I promise you.
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Such a brazen dog sure never my eyes
beheld. (To him.) Why, really, sir, as for supper I can't
well tell. My Dorothy and the cook-maid settle these things
between them. I leave these kind of things entirely to them.
MARLOW. You do, do you?
HARDCASTLE. Entirely. By the bye, I believe they are in
actual consultation upon what's for supper this moment in
MARLOW. Then I beg they'll admit me as one of their privy
council. It's a way I have got. When I travel, I always
chose to regulate my own supper. Let the cook be called. No
offence I hope, sir.
HARDCASTLE. O no, sir, none in the least; yet I don't
know how; our Bridget, the cook-maid, is not very
communicative upon these occasions. Should we send for her,
she might scold us all out of the house.
HASTINGS. Let's see your list of the larder then. I ask
it as a favour. I always match my appetite to my bill of
MARLOW. (To HARDCASTLE, who looks at them with surprise.)
Sir, he's very right, and it's my way too.
HARDCASTLE. Sir, you have a right to command here. Here,
Roger, bring us the bill of fare for to-night's supper: I
believe it's drawn out—Your manner, Mr. Hastings, puts me in
mind of my uncle, Colonel Wallop. It was a saying of his,
that no man was sure of his supper till he had eaten it.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) All upon the high rope! His uncle a
colonel! we shall soon hear of his mother being a justice of
the peace. But let's hear the bill of fare.
MARLOW. (Perusing.) What's here? For the first course;
for the second course; for the dessert. The devil, sir, do
you think we have brought down a whole Joiners' Company, or
the corporation of Bedford, to eat up such a supper? Two or
three little things, clean and comfortable, will do.
HASTINGS. But let's hear it.
MARLOW. (Reading.) For the first course, at the top, a
pig and prune sauce.
HASTINGS. Damn your pig, I say.
MARLOW. And damn your prune sauce, say I.
HARDCASTLE. And yet, gentlemen, to men that are hungry,
pig with prune sauce is very good eating.
MARLOW. At the bottom, a calf's tongue and brains.
HASTINGS. Let your brains be knocked out, my good sir, I
don't like them.
MARLOW. Or you may clap them on a plate by themselves. I
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Their impudence confounds me. (To
them.) Gentlemen, you are my guests, make what alterations
you please. Is there anything else you wish to retrench or
MARLOW. Item, a pork pie, a boiled rabbit and sausages, a
Florentine, a shaking pudding, and a dish of
HASTINGS. Confound your made dishes; I shall be as much
at a loss in this house as at a green and yellow dinner at
the French ambassador's table. I'm for plain eating.
HARDCASTLE. I'm sorry, gentlemen, that I have nothing you
like, but if there be anything you have a particular fancy
MARLOW. Why, really, sir, your bill of fare is so
exquisite, that any one part of it is full as good as
another. Send us what you please. So much for supper. And
now to see that our beds are aired, and properly taken care
HARDCASTLE. I entreat you'll leave that to me. You shall
not stir a step.
MARLOW. Leave that to you! I protest, sir, you must
excuse me, I always look to these things myself.
HARDCASTLE. I must insist, sir, you'll make yourself easy
on that head.
MARLOW. You see I'm resolved on it. (Aside.) A very
troublesome fellow this, as I ever met with.
HARDCASTLE. Well, sir, I'm resolved at least to attend
you. (Aside.) This may be modern modesty, but I never saw
anything look so like old-fashioned impudence. [Exeunt
MARLOW and HARDCASTLE.]
HASTINGS. (Alone.) So I find this fellow's civilities
begin to grow troublesome. But who can be angry at those
assiduities which are meant to please him? Ha! what do I
see? Miss Neville, by all that's happy!
Enter MISS NEVILLE.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear Hastings! To what unexpected good
fortune, to what accident, am I to ascribe this happy
HASTINGS. Rather let me ask the same question, as I could
never have hoped to meet my dearest Constance at an inn.
MISS NEVILLE. An inn! sure you mistake: my aunt, my
guardian, lives here. What could induce you to think this
house an inn?
HASTINGS. My friend, Mr. Marlow, with whom I came down,
and I, have been sent here as to an inn, I assure you. A
young fellow, whom we accidentally met at a house hard by,
directed us hither.
MISS NEVILLE. Certainly it must be one of my hopeful
cousin's tricks, of whom you have heard me talk so often;
ha! ha! ha!
HASTINGS. He whom your aunt intends for you? he of whom I
have such just apprehensions?
MISS NEVILLE. You have nothing to fear from him, I assure
you. You'd adore him, if you knew how heartily he despises
me. My aunt knows it too, and has undertaken to court me for
him, and actually begins to think she has made a conquest.
HASTINGS. Thou dear dissembler! You must know, my
Constance, I have just seized this happy opportunity of my
friend's visit here to get admittance into the family. The
horses that carried us down are now fatigued with their
journey, but they'll soon be refreshed; and then, if my
dearest girl will trust in her faithful Hastings, we shall
soon be landed in France, where even among slaves the laws
of marriage are respected.
MISS NEVILLE. I have often told you, that though ready to
obey you, I yet should leave my little fortune behind with
reluctance. The greatest part of it was left me by my uncle,
the India director, and chiefly consists in jewels. I have
been for some time persuading my aunt to let me wear them. I
fancy I'm very near succeeding. The instant they are put
into my possession, you shall find me ready to make them and
HASTINGS. Perish the baubles! Your person is all I
desire. In the mean time, my friend Marlow must not be let
into his mistake. I know the strange reserve of his temper
is such, that if abruptly informed of it, he would instantly
quit the house before our plan was ripe for execution.
MISS NEVILLE. But how shall we keep him in the deception?
Miss Hardcastle is just returned from walking; what if we
still continue to deceive him?——This, this way——[They
MARLOW. The assiduities of these good people teaze me
beyond bearing. My host seems to think it ill manners to
leave me alone, and so he claps not only himself, but his
old-fashioned wife, on my back. They talk of coming to sup
with us too; and then, I suppose, we are to run the gantlet
through all the rest of the family.—What have we got here?
HASTINGS. My dear Charles! Let me congratulate you!—The
most fortunate accident!—Who do you think is just alighted?
MARLOW. Cannot guess.
HASTINGS. Our mistresses, boy, Miss Hardcastle and Miss
Neville. Give me leave to introduce Miss Constance Neville
to your acquaintance. Happening to dine in the
neighbourhood, they called on their return to take fresh
horses here. Miss Hardcastle has just stept into the next
room, and will be back in an instant. Wasn't it lucky? eh!
MARLOW. (Aside.) I have been mortified enough of all
conscience, and here comes something to complete my
HASTINGS. Well, but wasn't it the most fortunate thing in
MARLOW. Oh! yes. Very fortunate—a most joyful
encounter—But our dresses, George, you know are in
disorder—What if we should postpone the happiness till
to-morrow?—To-morrow at her own house—It will be every bit
as convenient—and rather more respectful—To-morrow let it
be. [Offering to go.]
MISS NEVILLE. By no means, sir. Your ceremony will
displease her. The disorder of your dress will show the
ardour of your impatience. Besides, she knows you are in the
house, and will permit you to see her.
MARLOW. O! the devil! how shall I support it? Hem! hem!
Hastings, you must not go. You are to assist me, you know. I
shall be confoundedly ridiculous. Yet, hang it! I'll take
HASTINGS. Pshaw, man! it's but the first plunge, and
all's over. She's but a woman, you know.
MARLOW. And, of all women, she that I dread most to
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE, as returned from walking, a
HASTINGS. (Introducing them.) Miss Hardcastle, Mr.
Marlow. I'm proud of bringing two persons of such merit
together, that only want to know, to esteem each other.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Now for meeting my modest
gentleman with a demure face, and quite in his own manner.
(After a pause, in which he appears very uneasy and
disconcerted.) I'm glad of your safe arrival, sir. I'm told
you had some accidents by the way.
MARLOW. Only a few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, madam,
a good many accidents, but should be sorry—madam—or rather
glad of any accidents—that are so agreeably concluded. Hem!
HASTINGS. (To him.) You never spoke better in your whole
life. Keep it up, and I'll insure you the victory.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm afraid you flatter, sir. You that
have seen so much of the finest company, can find little
entertainment in an obscure corner of the country.
MARLOW. (Gathering courage.) I have lived, indeed, in the
world, madam; but I have kept very little company. I have
been but an observer upon life, madam, while others were
MISS NEVILLE. But that, I am told, is the way to enjoy it
HASTINGS. (To him.) Cicero never spoke better. Once more,
and you are confirmed in assurance for ever.
MARLOW. (To him.) Hem! Stand by me, then, and when I'm
down, throw in a word or two, to set me up again.
MISS HARDCASTLE. An observer, like you, upon life were, I
fear, disagreeably employed, since you must have had much
more to censure than to approve.
MARLOW. Pardon me, madam. I was always willing to be
amused. The folly of most people is rather an object of
mirth than uneasiness.
HASTINGS. (To him.) Bravo, bravo. Never spoke so well in
your whole life. Well, Miss Hardcastle, I see that you and
Mr. Marlow are going to be very good company. I believe our
being here will but embarrass the interview.
MARLOW. Not in the least, Mr. Hastings. We like your
company of all things. (To him.) Zounds! George, sure you
won't go? how can you leave us?
HASTINGS. Our presence will but spoil conversation, so
we'll retire to the next room. (To him.) You don't consider,
man, that we are to manage a little tete-a-tete of our own.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (after a pause). But you have not been
wholly an observer, I presume, sir: the ladies, I should
hope, have employed some part of your addresses.
MARLOW. (Relapsing into timidity.) Pardon me, madam,
I—I—I—as yet have studied—only—to—deserve them.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And that, some say, is the very worst
way to obtain them.
MARLOW. Perhaps so, madam. But I love to converse only
with the more grave and sensible part of the sex. But I'm
afraid I grow tiresome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like
so much as grave conversation myself; I could hear it for
ever. Indeed, I have often been surprised how a man of
sentiment could ever admire those light airy pleasures,
where nothing reaches the heart.
MARLOW. It's——a disease——of the mind, madam. In the
variety of tastes there must be some who, wanting a
MISS HARDCASTLE. I understand you, sir. There must be
some, who, wanting a relish for refined pleasures, pretend
to despise what they are incapable of tasting.
MARLOW. My meaning, madam, but infinitely better
expressed. And I can't help observing——a——
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Who could ever suppose this
fellow impudent upon some occasions? (To him.) You were
going to observe, sir——
MARLOW. I was observing, madam—I protest, madam, I forget
what I was going to observe.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) I vow and so do I. (To him.)
You were observing, sir, that in this age of
hypocrisy—something about hypocrisy, sir.
MARLOW. Yes, madam. In this age of hypocrisy there are
few who upon strict inquiry do not—a—a—a—
MISS HARDCASTLE. I understand you perfectly, sir.
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad! and that's more than I do myself.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You mean that in this hypocritical age
there are few that do not condemn in public what they
practise in private, and think they pay every debt to virtue
when they praise it.
MARLOW. True, madam; those who have most virtue in their
mouths, have least of it in their bosoms. But I'm sure I
tire you, madam.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Not in the least, sir; there's something
so agreeable and spirited in your manner, such life and
force—pray, sir, go on.
MARLOW. Yes, madam. I was saying——that there are some
occasions, when a total want of courage, madam, destroys all
the——and puts us——upon a—a—a—
MISS HARDCASTLE. I agree with you entirely; a want of
courage upon some occasions assumes the appearance of
ignorance, and betrays us when we most want to excel. I beg
MARLOW. Yes, madam. Morally speaking, madam—But I see
Miss Neville expecting us in the next room. I would not
intrude for the world.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I protest, sir, I never was more
agreeably entertained in all my life. Pray go on.
MARLOW. Yes, madam, I was——But she beckons us to join
her. Madam, shall I do myself the honour to attend you?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Well, then, I'll follow.
MARLOW. (Aside.) This pretty smooth dialogue has done for
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Alone.) Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such
a sober, sentimental interview? I'm certain he scarce looked
in my face the whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his
unaccountable bashfulness, is pretty well too. He has good
sense, but then so buried in his fears, that it fatigues one
more than ignorance. If I could teach him a little
confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a
piece of service. But who is that somebody?—That, faith, is
a question I can scarce answer. [Exit.]
Enter TONY and MISS NEVILLE, followed by MRS. HARDCASTLE
TONY. What do you follow me for, cousin Con? I wonder
you're not ashamed to be so very engaging.
MISS NEVILLE. I hope, cousin, one may speak to one's own
relations, and not be to blame.
TONY. Ay, but I know what sort of a relation you want to
make me, though; but it won't do. I tell you, cousin Con, it
won't do; so I beg you'll keep your distance, I want no
nearer relationship. [She follows, coquetting him to the
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well! I vow, Mr. Hastings, you are very
entertaining. There's nothing in the world I love to talk of
so much as London, and the fashions, though I was never
HASTINGS. Never there! You amaze me! From your air and
manner, I concluded you had been bred all your life either
at Ranelagh, St. James's, or Tower Wharf.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. O! sir, you're only pleased to say so.
We country persons can have no manner at all. I'm in love
with the town, and that serves to raise me above some of our
neighbouring rustics; but who can have a manner, that has
never seen the Pantheon, the Grotto Gardens, the Borough,
and such places where the nobility chiefly resort? All I can
do is to enjoy London at second-hand. I take care to know
every tete-a-tete from the Scandalous Magazine, and have all
the fashions, as they come out, in a letter from the two
Miss Rickets of Crooked Lane. Pray how do you like this
head, Mr. Hastings?
HASTINGS. Extremely elegant and degagee, upon my word,
madam. Your friseur is a Frenchman, I suppose?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I protest, I dressed it myself from a
print in the Ladies' Memorandum-book for the last year.
HASTINGS. Indeed! Such a head in a side-box at the
play-house would draw as many gazers as my Lady Mayoress at
a City Ball.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I vow, since inoculation began, there is
no such thing to be seen as a plain woman; so one must dress
a little particular, or one may escape in the crowd.
HASTINGS. But that can never be your case, madam, in any
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yet, what signifies my dressing when I
have such a piece of antiquity by my side as Mr. Hardcastle:
all I can say will never argue down a single button from his
clothes. I have often wanted him to throw off his great
flaxen wig, and where he was bald, to plaster it over, like
my Lord Pately, with powder.
HASTINGS. You are right, madam; for, as among the ladies
there are none ugly, so among the men there are none old.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. But what do you think his answer was?
Why, with his usual Gothic vivacity, he said I only wanted
him to throw off his wig, to convert it into a tete for my
HASTINGS. Intolerable! At your age you may wear what you
please, and it must become you.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pray, Mr. Hastings, what do you take to
be the most fashionable age about town?
HASTINGS. Some time ago, forty was all the mode; but I'm
told the ladies intend to bring up fifty for the ensuing
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Seriously. Then I shall be too young for
HASTINGS. No lady begins now to put on jewels till she's
past forty. For instance, Miss there, in a polite circle,
would be considered as a child, as a mere maker of samplers.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. And yet Mrs. Niece thinks herself as
much a woman, and is as fond of jewels, as the oldest of us
HASTINGS. Your niece, is she? And that young gentleman, a
brother of yours, I should presume?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My son, sir. They are contracted to each
other. Observe their little sports. They fall in and out ten
times a day, as if they were man and wife already. (To
them.) Well, Tony, child, what soft things are you saying to
your cousin Constance this evening?
TONY. I have been saying no soft things; but that it's
very hard to be followed about so. Ecod! I've not a place in
the house now that's left to myself, but the stable.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Never mind him, Con, my dear. He's in
another story behind your back.
MISS NEVILLE. There's something generous in my cousin's
manner. He falls out before faces to be forgiven in private.
TONY. That's a damned confounded—crack.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ah! he's a sly one. Don't you think they
are like each other about the mouth, Mr. Hastings? The
Blenkinsop mouth to a T. They're of a size too. Back to
back, my pretties, that Mr. Hastings may see you. Come,
TONY. You had as good not make me, I tell you.
MISS NEVILLE. O lud! he has almost cracked my head.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. O, the monster! For shame, Tony. You a
man, and behave so!
TONY. If I'm a man, let me have my fortin. Ecod! I'll not
be made a fool of no longer.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Is this, ungrateful boy, all that I'm to
get for the pains I have taken in your education? I that
have rocked you in your cradle, and fed that pretty mouth
with a spoon! Did not I work that waistcoat to make you
genteel? Did not I prescribe for you every day, and weep
while the receipt was operating?
TONY. Ecod! you had reason to weep, for you have been
dosing me ever since I was born. I have gone through every
receipt in the Complete Huswife ten times over; and you have
thoughts of coursing me through Quincy next spring. But,
ecod! I tell you, I'll not be made a fool of no longer.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Wasn't it all for your good, viper?
Wasn't it all for your good?
TONY. I wish you'd let me and my good alone, then.
Snubbing this way when I'm in spirits. If I'm to have any
good, let it come of itself; not to keep dinging it, dinging
it into one so.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. That's false; I never see you when
you're in spirits. No, Tony, you then go to the alehouse or
kennel. I'm never to be delighted with your agreeable wild
notes, unfeeling monster!
TONY. Ecod! mamma, your own notes are the wildest of the
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was ever the like? But I see he wants to
break my heart, I see he does.
HASTINGS. Dear madam, permit me to lecture the young
gentleman a little. I'm certain I can persuade him to his
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, I must retire. Come, Constance, my
love. You see, Mr. Hastings, the wretchedness of my
situation: was ever poor woman so plagued with a dear sweet,
pretty, provoking, undutiful boy? [Exeunt MRS. HARDCASTLE
and MISS NEVILLE.]
TONY. (Singing.) "There was a young man riding by, and
fain would have his will. Rang do didlo dee."——Don't mind
her. Let her cry. It's the comfort of her heart. I have seen
her and sister cry over a book for an hour together; and
they said they liked the book the better the more it made
HASTINGS. Then you're no friend to the ladies, I find, my
pretty young gentleman?
TONY. That's as I find 'um.
HASTINGS. Not to her of your mother's choosing, I dare
answer? And yet she appears to me a pretty well-tempered
TONY. That's because you don't know her as well as I.
Ecod! I know every inch about her; and there's not a more
bitter cantankerous toad in all Christendom.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) Pretty encouragement this for a lover!
TONY. I have seen her since the height of that. She has
as many tricks as a hare in a thicket, or a colt the first
HASTINGS. To me she appears sensible and silent.
TONY. Ay, before company. But when she's with her
playmate, she's as loud as a hog in a gate.
HASTINGS. But there is a meek modesty about her that
TONY. Yes, but curb her never so little, she kicks up,
and you're flung in a ditch.
HASTINGS. Well, but you must allow her a little
beauty.—Yes, you must allow her some beauty.
TONY. Bandbox! She's all a made-up thing, mun. Ah! could
you but see Bet Bouncer of these parts, you might then talk
of beauty. Ecod, she has two eyes as black as sloes, and
cheeks as broad and red as a pulpit cushion. She'd make two
HASTINGS. Well, what say you to a friend that would take
this bitter bargain off your hands?
HASTINGS. Would you thank him that would take Miss
Neville, and leave you to happiness and your dear Betsy?
TONY. Ay; but where is there such a friend, for who would
HASTINGS. I am he. If you but assist me, I'll engage to
whip her off to France, and you shall never hear more of
TONY. Assist you! Ecod I will, to the last drop of my
blood. I'll clap a pair of horses to your chaise that shall
trundle you off in a twinkling, and may he get you a part of
her fortin beside, in jewels, that you little dream of.
HASTINGS. My dear 'squire, this looks like a lad of
TONY. Come along, then, and you shall see more of my
spirit before you have done with me.
(Singing.) "We are the boys That fears no noise Where the
thundering cannons roar." [Exeunt.]
ACT THE THIRD.
Enter HARDCASTLE, alone.
HARDCASTLE. What could my old friend Sir Charles mean by
recommending his son as the modestest young man in town? To
me he appears the most impudent piece of brass that ever
spoke with a tongue. He has taken possession of the easy
chair by the fire-side already. He took off his boots in the
parlour, and desired me to see them taken care of. I'm
desirous to know how his impudence affects my daughter. She
will certainly be shocked at it.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE, plainly dressed.
HARDCASTLE. Well, my Kate, I see you have changed your
dress, as I bade you; and yet, I believe, there was no great
MISS HARDCASTLE. I find such a pleasure, sir, in obeying
your commands, that I take care to observe them without ever
debating their propriety.
HARDCASTLE. And yet, Kate, I sometimes give you some
cause, particularly when I recommended my modest gentleman
to you as a lover to-day.
MISS HARDCASTLE. You taught me to expect something
extraordinary, and I find the original exceeds the
HARDCASTLE. I was never so surprised in my life! He has
quite confounded all my faculties!
MISS HARDCASTLE. I never saw anything like it: and a man
of the world too!
HARDCASTLE. Ay, he learned it all abroad—what a fool was
I, to think a young man could learn modesty by travelling.
He might as soon learn wit at a masquerade.
MISS HARDCASTLE. It seems all natural to him.
HARDCASTLE. A good deal assisted by bad company and a
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sure you mistake, papa! A French
dancing-master could never have taught him that timid
look—that awkward address—that bashful manner—
HARDCASTLE. Whose look? whose manner, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Mr. Marlow's: his mauvaise honte, his
timidity, struck me at the first sight.
HARDCASTLE. Then your first sight deceived you; for I
think him one of the most brazen first sights that ever
astonished my senses.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sure, sir, you rally! I never saw any
one so modest.
HARDCASTLE. And can you be serious? I never saw such a
bouncing, swaggering puppy since I was born. Bully Dawson
was but a fool to him.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Surprising! He met me with a respectful
bow, a stammering voice, and a look fixed on the ground.
HARDCASTLE. He met me with a loud voice, a lordly air,
and a familiarity that made my blood freeze again.
MISS HARDCASTLE. He treated me with diffidence and
respect; censured the manners of the age; admired the
prudence of girls that never laughed; tired me with
apologies for being tiresome; then left the room with a bow,
and "Madam, I would not for the world detain you."
HARDCASTLE. He spoke to me as if he knew me all his life
before; asked twenty questions, and never waited for an
answer; interrupted my best remarks with some silly pun; and
when I was in my best story of the Duke of Marlborough and
Prince Eugene, he asked if I had not a good hand at making
punch. Yes, Kate, he asked your father if he was a maker of
MISS HARDCASTLE. One of us must certainly be mistaken.
HARDCASTLE. If he be what he has shown himself, I'm
determined he shall never have my consent.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And if he be the sullen thing I take
him, he shall never have mine.
HARDCASTLE. In one thing then we are agreed—to reject
MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes: but upon conditions. For if you
should find him less impudent, and I more presuming—if you
find him more respectful, and I more importunate—I don't
know—the fellow is well enough for a man—Certainly, we don't
meet many such at a horse-race in the country.
HARDCASTLE. If we should find him so——But that's
impossible. The first appearance has done my business. I'm
seldom deceived in that.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And yet there may be many good qualities
under that first appearance.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, when a girl finds a fellow's outside to
her taste, she then sets about guessing the rest of his
furniture. With her, a smooth face stands for good sense,
and a genteel figure for every virtue.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, a conversation begun with a
compliment to my good sense, won't end with a sneer at my
HARDCASTLE. Pardon me, Kate. But if young Mr. Brazen can
find the art of reconciling contradictions, he may please us
MISS HARDCASTLE. And as one of us must be mistaken, what
if we go to make further discoveries?
HARDCASTLE. Agreed. But depend on't I'm in the right.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And depend on't I'm not much in the
Enter Tony, running in with a casket.
TONY. Ecod! I have got them. Here they are. My cousin
Con's necklaces, bobs and all. My mother shan't cheat the
poor souls out of their fortin neither. O! my genus, is that
HASTINGS. My dear friend, how have you managed with your
mother? I hope you have amused her with pretending love for
your cousin, and that you are willing to be reconciled at
last? Our horses will be refreshed in a short time, and we
shall soon be ready to set off.
TONY. And here's something to bear your charges by the
way (giving the casket); your sweetheart's jewels. Keep
them: and hang those, I say, that would rob you of one of
HASTINGS. But how have you procured them from your
TONY. Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no fibs. I
procured them by the rule of thumb. If I had not a key to
every drawer in mother's bureau, how could I go to the
alehouse so often as I do? An honest man may rob himself of
his own at any time.
HASTINGS. Thousands do it every day. But to be plain with
you; Miss Neville is endeavouring to procure them from her
aunt this very instant. If she succeeds, it will be the most
delicate way at least of obtaining them.
TONY. Well, keep them, till you know how it will be. But
I know how it will be well enough; she'd as soon part with
the only sound tooth in her head.
HASTINGS. But I dread the effects of her resentment, when
she finds she has lost them.
TONY. Never you mind her resentment, leave ME to manage
that. I don't value her resentment the bounce of a cracker.
Zounds! here they are. Morrice! Prance! [Exit HASTINGS.]
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MISS NEVILLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Indeed, Constance, you amaze me. Such a
girl as you want jewels! It will be time enough for jewels,
my dear, twenty years hence, when your beauty begins to want
MISS NEVILLE. But what will repair beauty at forty, will
certainly improve it at twenty, madam.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yours, my dear, can admit of none. That
natural blush is beyond a thousand ornaments. Besides,
child, jewels are quite out at present. Don't you see half
the ladies of our acquaintance, my Lady Kill-daylight, and
Mrs. Crump, and the rest of them, carry their jewels to
town, and bring nothing but paste and marcasites back.
MISS NEVILLE. But who knows, madam, but somebody that
shall be nameless would like me best with all my little
finery about me?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Consult your glass, my dear, and then
see if, with such a pair of eyes, you want any better
sparklers. What do you think, Tony, my dear? does your
cousin Con. want any jewels in your eyes to set off her
TONY. That's as thereafter may be.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear aunt, if you knew how it would
MRS. HARDCASTLE. A parcel of old-fashioned rose and
table-cut things. They would make you look like the court of
King Solomon at a puppet-show. Besides, I believe, I can't
readily come at them. They may be missing, for aught I know
to the contrary.
TONY. (Apart to MRS. HARDCASTLE.) Then why don't you tell
her so at once, as she's so longing for them? Tell her
they're lost. It's the only way to quiet her. Say they're
lost, and call me to bear witness.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Apart to TONY.) You know, my dear, I'm
only keeping them for you. So if I say they're gone, you'll
bear me witness, will you? He! he! he!
TONY. Never fear me. Ecod! I'll say I saw them taken out
with my own eyes.
MISS NEVILLE. I desire them but for a day, madam. Just to
be permitted to show them as relics, and then they may be
locked up again.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. To be plain with you, my dear Constance,
if I could find them you should have them. They're missing,
I assure you. Lost, for aught I know; but we must have
patience wherever they are.
MISS NEVILLE. I'll not believe it! this is but a shallow
pretence to deny me. I know they are too valuable to be so
slightly kept, and as you are to answer for the loss—
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Don't be alarmed, Constance. If they be
lost, I must restore an equivalent. But my son knows they
are missing, and not to be found.
TONY. That I can bear witness to. They are missing, and
not to be found; I'll take my oath on't.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. You must learn resignation, my dear; for
though we lose our fortune, yet we should not lose our
patience. See me, how calm I am.
MISS NEVILLE. Ay, people are generally calm at the
misfortunes of others.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Now I wonder a girl of your good sense
should waste a thought upon such trumpery. We shall soon
find them; and in the mean time you shall make use of my
garnets till your jewels be found.
MISS NEVILLE. I detest garnets.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. The most becoming things in the world to
set off a clear complexion. You have often seen how well
they look upon me. You SHALL have them. [Exit.]
MISS NEVILLE. I dislike them of all things. You shan't
stir.—Was ever anything so provoking, to mislay my own
jewels, and force me to wear her trumpery?
TONY. Don't be a fool. If she gives you the garnets, take
what you can get. The jewels are your own already. I have
stolen them out of her bureau, and she does not know it. Fly
to your spark, he'll tell you more of the matter. Leave me
to manage her.
MISS NEVILLE. My dear cousin!
TONY. Vanish. She's here, and has missed them already.
[Exit MISS NEVILLE.] Zounds! how she fidgets and spits about
like a Catherine wheel.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Confusion! thieves! robbers! we are
cheated, plundered, broke open, undone.
TONY. What's the matter, what's the matter, mamma? I hope
nothing has happened to any of the good family!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. We are robbed. My bureau has been broken
open, the jewels taken out, and I'm undone.
TONY. Oh! is that all? Ha! ha! ha! By the laws, I never
saw it acted better in my life. Ecod, I thought you was
ruined in earnest, ha! ha! ha!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Why, boy, I AM ruined in earnest. My
bureau has been broken open, and all taken away.
TONY. Stick to that: ha! ha! ha! stick to that. I'll bear
witness, you know; call me to bear witness.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I tell you, Tony, by all that's
precious, the jewels are gone, and I shall be ruined for
TONY. Sure I know they're gone, and I'm to say so.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My dearest Tony, but hear me. They're
gone, I say.
TONY. By the laws, mamma, you make me for to laugh, ha!
ha! I know who took them well enough, ha! ha! ha!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was there ever such a blockhead, that
can't tell the difference between jest and earnest? I tell
you I'm not in jest, booby.
TONY. That's right, that's right; you must be in a bitter
passion, and then nobody will suspect either of us. I'll
bear witness that they are gone.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Was there ever such a cross-grained
brute, that won't hear me? Can you bear witness that you're
no better than a fool? Was ever poor woman so beset with
fools on one hand, and thieves on the other?
TONY. I can bear witness to that.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Bear witness again, you blockhead you,
and I'll turn you out of the room directly. My poor niece,
what will become of her? Do you laugh, you unfeeling brute,
as if you enjoyed my distress?
TONY. I can bear witness to that.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Do you insult me, monster? I'll teach
you to vex your mother, I will.
TONY. I can bear witness to that. [He runs off, she
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE and Maid.
MISS HARDCASTLE. What an unaccountable creature is that
brother of mine, to send them to the house as an inn! ha!
ha! I don't wonder at his impudence.
MAID. But what is more, madam, the young gentleman, as
you passed by in your present dress, asked me if you were
the bar-maid. He mistook you for the bar-maid, madam.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did he? Then as I live, I'm resolved to
keep up the delusion. Tell me, Pimple, how do you like my
present dress? Don't you think I look something like Cherry
in the Beaux Stratagem?
MAID. It's the dress, madam, that every lady wears in the
country, but when she visits or receives company.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And are you sure he does not remember my
face or person?
MAID. Certain of it.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I vow, I thought so; for, though we
spoke for some time together, yet his fears were such, that
he never once looked up during the interview. Indeed, if he
had, my bonnet would have kept him from seeing me.
MAID. But what do you hope from keeping him in his
MISS HARDCASTLE. In the first place I shall be seen, and
that is no small advantage to a girl who brings her face to
market. Then I shall perhaps make an acquaintance, and
that's no small victory gained over one who never addresses
any but the wildest of her sex. But my chief aim is, to take
my gentleman off his guard, and, like an invisible champion
of romance, examine the giant's force before I offer to
MAID. But you are sure you can act your part, and
disguise your voice so that he may mistake that, as he has
already mistaken your person?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never fear me. I think I have got the
true bar cant—Did your honour call?—Attend the Lion
there—Pipes and tobacco for the Angel.—The Lamb has been
outrageous this half-hour.
MAID. It will do, madam. But he's here. [Exit MAID.]
MARLOW. What a bawling in every part of the house! I have
scarce a moment's repose. If I go to the best room, there I
find my host and his story: if I fly to the gallery, there
we have my hostess with her curtsey down to the ground. I
have at last got a moment to myself, and now for
recollection. [Walks and muses.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did you call, sir? Did your honour call?
MARLOW. (Musing.) As for Miss Hardcastle, she's too grave
and sentimental for me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Did your honour call? (She still places
herself before him, he turning away.)
MARLOW. No, child. (Musing.) Besides, from the glimpse I
had of her, I think she squints.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I'm sure, sir, I heard the bell ring.
MARLOW. No, no. (Musing.) I have pleased my father,
however, by coming down, and I'll to-morrow please myself by
returning. [Taking out his tablets, and perusing.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. Perhaps the other gentleman called, sir?
MARLOW. I tell you, no.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I should be glad to know, sir. We have
such a parcel of servants!
MARLOW. No, no, I tell you. (Looks full in her face.)
Yes, child, I think I did call. I wanted—I wanted—I vow,
child, you are vastly handsome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. O la, sir, you'll make one ashamed.
MARLOW. Never saw a more sprightly malicious eye. Yes,
yes, my dear, I did call. Have you got any of your—a—what
d'ye call it in the house?
MISS HARDCASTLE. No, sir, we have been out of that these
MARLOW. One may call in this house, I find, to very
little purpose. Suppose I should call for a taste, just by
way of a trial, of the nectar of your lips; perhaps I might
be disappointed in that too.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Nectar! nectar! That's a liquor there's
no call for in these parts. French, I suppose. We sell no
French wines here, sir.
MARLOW. Of true English growth, I assure you.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then it's odd I should not know it. We
brew all sorts of wines in this house, and I have lived here
these eighteen years.
MARLOW. Eighteen years! Why, one would think, child, you
kept the bar before you were born. How old are you?
MISS HARDCASTLE. O! sir, I must not tell my age. They say
women and music should never be dated.
MARLOW. To guess at this distance, you can't be much
above forty (approaching). Yet, nearer, I don't think so
much (approaching). By coming close to some women they look
younger still; but when we come very close
indeed—(attempting to kiss her).
MISS HARDCASTLE. Pray, sir, keep your distance. One would
think you wanted to know one's age, as they do horses, by
mark of mouth.
MARLOW. I protest, child, you use me extremely ill. If
you keep me at this distance, how is it possible you and I
can ever be acquainted?
MISS HARDCASTLE. And who wants to be acquainted with you?
I want no such acquaintance, not I. I'm sure you did not
treat Miss Hardcastle, that was here awhile ago, in this
obstropalous manner. I'll warrant me, before her you looked
dashed, and kept bowing to the ground, and talked, for all
the world, as if you was before a justice of peace.
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad, she has hit it, sure enough! (To
her.) In awe of her, child? Ha! ha! ha! A mere awkward
squinting thing; no, no. I find you don't know me. I laughed
and rallied her a little; but I was unwilling to be too
severe. No, I could not be too severe, curse me!
MISS HARDCASTLE. O! then, sir, you are a favourite, I
find, among the ladies?
MARLOW. Yes, my dear, a great favourite. And yet hang me,
I don't see what they find in me to follow. At the Ladies'
Club in town I'm called their agreeable Rattle. Rattle,
child, is not my real name, but one I'm known by. My name is
Solomons; Mr. Solomons, my dear, at your service. (Offering
to salute her.)
MISS HARDCASTLE. Hold, sir; you are introducing me to
your club, not to yourself. And you're so great a favourite
there, you say?
MARLOW. Yes, my dear. There's Mrs. Mantrap, Lady Betty
Blackleg, the Countess of Sligo, Mrs. Langhorns, old Miss
Biddy Buckskin, and your humble servant, keep up the spirit
of the place.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then it's a very merry place, I suppose?
MARLOW. Yes, as merry as cards, supper, wine, and old
women can make us.
MISS HARDCASTLE. And their agreeable Rattle, ha! ha! ha!
MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad! I don't quite like this chit. She
looks knowing, methinks. You laugh, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. I can't but laugh, to think what time
they all have for minding their work or their family.
MARLOW. (Aside.) All's well; she don't laugh at me. (To
her.) Do you ever work, child?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, sure. There's not a screen or quilt
in the whole house but what can bear witness to that.
MARLOW. Odso! then you must show me your embroidery. I
embroider and draw patterns myself a little. If you want a
judge of your work, you must apply to me. (Seizing her
MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, but the colours do not look well by
candlelight. You shall see all in the morning. (Struggling.)
MARLOW. And why not now, my angel? Such beauty fires
beyond the power of resistance.—Pshaw! the father here! My
old luck: I never nicked seven that I did not throw ames ace
three times following. [Exit MARLOW.]
Enter HARDCASTLE, who stands in surprise.
HARDCASTLE. So, madam. So, I find THIS is your MODEST
lover. This is your humble admirer, that kept his eyes fixed
on the ground, and only adored at humble distance. Kate,
Kate, art thou not ashamed to deceive your father so?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Never trust me, dear papa, but he's
still the modest man I first took him for; you'll be
convinced of it as well as I.
HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, I believe his
impudence is infectious! Didn't I see him seize your hand?
Didn't I see him haul you about like a milkmaid? And now you
talk of his respect and his modesty, forsooth!
MISS HARDCASTLE. But if I shortly convince you of his
modesty, that he has only the faults that will pass off with
time, and the virtues that will improve with age, I hope
you'll forgive him.
HARDCASTLE. The girl would actually make one run mad! I
tell you, I'll not be convinced. I am convinced. He has
scarce been three hours in the house, and he has already
encroached on all my prerogatives. You may like his
impudence, and call it modesty; but my son-in-law, madam,
must have very different qualifications.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sir, I ask but this night to convince
HARDCASTLE. You shall not have half the time, for I have
thoughts of turning him out this very hour.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Give me that hour then, and I hope to
HARDCASTLE. Well, an hour let it be then. But I'll have
no trifling with your father. All fair and open, do you mind
MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, you have ever found that I
considered your commands as my pride; for your kindness is
such, that my duty as yet has been inclination. [Exeunt.]
ACT THE FOURTH.
Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.
HASTINGS. You surprise me; Sir Charles Marlow expected
here this night! Where have you had your information?
MISS NEVILLE. You may depend upon it. I just saw his
letter to Mr. Hardcastle, in which he tells him he intends
setting out a few hours after his son.
HASTINGS. Then, my Constance, all must be completed
before he arrives. He knows me; and should he find me here,
would discover my name, and perhaps my designs, to the rest
of the family.
MISS NEVILLE. The jewels, I hope, are safe?
HASTINGS. Yes, yes, I have sent them to Marlow, who keeps
the keys of our baggage. In the mean time, I'll go to
prepare matters for our elopement. I have had the 'squire's
promise of a fresh pair of horses; and if I should not see
him again, will write him further directions. [Exit.]
MISS NEVILLE. Well! success attend you. In the mean time
I'll go and amuse my aunt with the old pretence of a violent
passion for my cousin. [Exit.]
Enter MARLOW, followed by a Servant.
MARLOW. I wonder what Hastings could mean by sending me
so valuable a thing as a casket to keep for him, when he
knows the only place I have is the seat of a post-coach at
an inn-door. Have you deposited the casket with the
landlady, as I ordered you? Have you put it into her own
SERVANT. Yes, your honour.
MARLOW. She said she'd keep it safe, did she?
SERVANT. Yes, she said she'd keep it safe enough; she
asked me how I came by it; and she said she had a great mind
to make me give an account of myself. [Exit Servant.]
MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! They're safe, however. What an
unaccountable set of beings have we got amongst! This little
bar-maid though runs in my head most strangely, and drives
out the absurdities of all the rest of the family. She's
mine, she must be mine, or I'm greatly mistaken.
HASTINGS. Bless me! I quite forgot to tell her that I
intended to prepare at the bottom of the garden. Marlow
here, and in spirits too!
MARLOW. Give me joy, George! Crown me, shadow me with
laurels! Well, George, after all, we modest fellows don't
want for success among the women.
HASTINGS. Some women, you mean. But what success has your
honour's modesty been crowned with now, that it grows so
insolent upon us?
MARLOW. Didn't you see the tempting, brisk, lovely little
thing, that runs about the house with a bunch of keys to its
HASTINGS. Well, and what then?
MARLOW. She's mine, you rogue you. Such fire, such
motion, such eyes, such lips; but, egad! she would not let
me kiss them though.
HASTINGS. But are you so sure, so very sure of her?
MARLOW. Why, man, she talked of showing me her work above
stairs, and I am to improve the pattern.
HASTINGS. But how can you, Charles, go about to rob a
woman of her honour?
MARLOW. Pshaw! pshaw! We all know the honour of the
bar-maid of an inn. I don't intend to rob her, take my word
for it; there's nothing in this house I shan't honestly pay
HASTINGS. I believe the girl has virtue.
MARLOW. And if she has, I should be the last man in the
world that would attempt to corrupt it.
HASTINGS. You have taken care, I hope, of the casket I
sent you to lock up? Is it in safety?
MARLOW. Yes, yes. It's safe enough. I have taken care of
it. But how could you think the seat of a post-coach at an
inn-door a place of safety? Ah! numskull! I have taken
better precautions for you than you did for yourself——I
MARLOW. I have sent it to the landlady to keep for you.
HASTINGS. To the landlady!
MARLOW. The landlady.
HASTINGS. You did?
MARLOW. I did. She's to be answerable for its
forthcoming, you know.
HASTINGS. Yes, she'll bring it forth with a witness.
MARLOW. Wasn't I right? I believe you'll allow that I
acted prudently upon this occasion.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) He must not see my uneasiness.
MARLOW. You seem a little disconcerted though, methinks.
Sure nothing has happened?
HASTINGS. No, nothing. Never was in better spirits in all
my life. And so you left it with the landlady, who, no
doubt, very readily undertook the charge.
MARLOW. Rather too readily. For she not only kept the
casket, but, through her great precaution, was going to keep
the messenger too. Ha! ha! ha!
HASTINGS. He! he! he! They're safe, however.
MARLOW. As a guinea in a miser's purse.
HASTINGS. (Aside.) So now all hopes of fortune are at an
end, and we must set off without it. (To him.) Well,
Charles, I'll leave you to your meditations on the pretty
bar-maid, and, he! he! he! may you be as successful for
yourself, as you have been for me! [Exit.]
MARLOW. Thank ye, George: I ask no more. Ha! ha! ha!
HARDCASTLE. I no longer know my own house. It's turned
all topsy-turvy. His servants have got drunk already. I'll
bear it no longer; and yet, from my respect for his father,
I'll be calm. (To him.) Mr. Marlow, your servant. I'm your
very humble servant. (Bowing low.)
MARLOW. Sir, your humble servant. (Aside.) What's to be
the wonder now?
HARDCASTLE. I believe, sir, you must be sensible, sir,
that no man alive ought to be more welcome than your
father's son, sir. I hope you think so?
MARLOW. I do from my soul, sir. I don't want much
entreaty. I generally make my father's son welcome wherever
HARDCASTLE. I believe you do, from my soul, sir. But
though I say nothing to your own conduct, that of your
servants is insufferable. Their manner of drinking is
setting a very bad example in this house, I assure you.
MARLOW. I protest, my very good sir, that is no fault of
mine. If they don't drink as they ought, they are to blame.
I ordered them not to spare the cellar. I did, I assure you.
(To the side scene.) Here, let one of my servants come up.
(To him.) My positive directions were, that as I did not
drink myself, they should make up for my deficiencies below.
HARDCASTLE. Then they had your orders for what they do?
MARLOW. They had, I assure you. You shall hear from one
Enter Servant, drunk.
MARLOW. You, Jeremy! Come forward, sirrah! What were my
orders? Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what
you thought fit, for the good of the house?
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) I begin to lose my patience.
JEREMY. Please your honour, liberty and Fleet-street for
ever! Though I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man.
I'll drink for no man before supper, sir, damme! Good liquor
will sit upon a good supper, but a good supper will not sit
upon——hiccup——on my conscience, sir.
MARLOW. You see, my old friend, the fellow is as drunk as
he can possibly be. I don't know what you'd have more,
unless you'd have the poor devil soused in a beer-barrel.
HARDCASTLE. Zounds! he'll drive me distracted, if I
contain myself any longer. Mr. Marlow—Sir; I have submitted
to your insolence for more than four hours, and I see no
likelihood of its coming to an end. I'm now resolved to be
master here, sir; and I desire that you and your drunken
pack may leave my house directly.
MARLOW. Leave your house!——Sure you jest, my good friend!
What? when I'm doing what I can to please you.
HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, you don't please me; so I
desire you'll leave my house.
MARLOW. Sure you cannot be serious? At this time o'
night, and such a night? You only mean to banter me.
HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, I'm serious! and now that my
passions are roused, I say this house is mine, sir; this
house is mine, and I command you to leave it directly.
MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! A puddle in a storm. I shan't stir a
step, I assure you. (In a serious tone.) This your house,
fellow! It's my house. This is my house. Mine, while I
choose to stay. What right have you to bid me leave this
house, sir? I never met with such impudence, curse me; never
in my whole life before.
HARDCASTLE. Nor I, confound me if ever I did. To come to
my house, to call for what he likes, to turn me out of my
own chair, to insult the family, to order his servants to
get drunk, and then to tell me, "This house is mine, sir."
By all that's impudent, it makes me laugh. Ha! ha! ha! Pray,
sir (bantering), as you take the house, what think you of
taking the rest of the furniture? There's a pair of silver
candlesticks, and there's a fire-screen, and here's a pair
of brazen-nosed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy to
MARLOW. Bring me your bill, sir; bring me your bill, and
let's make no more words about it.
HARDCASTLE. There are a set of prints, too. What think
you of the Rake's Progress, for your own apartment?
MARLOW. Bring me your bill, I say; and I'll leave you and
your infernal house directly.
HARDCASTLE. Then there's a mahogany table that you may
see your own face in.
MARLOW. My bill, I say.
HARDCASTLE. I had forgot the great chair for your own
particular slumbers, after a hearty meal.
MARLOW. Zounds! bring me my bill, I say, and let's hear
no more on't.
HARDCASTLE. Young man, young man, from your father's
letter to me, I was taught to expect a well-bred modest man
as a visitor here, but now I find him no better than a
coxcomb and a bully; but he will be down here presently, and
shall hear more of it. [Exit.]
MARLOW. How's this? Sure I have not mistaken the house.
Everything looks like an inn. The servants cry, coming; the
attendance is awkward; the bar-maid, too, to attend us. But
she's here, and will further inform me. Whither so fast,
child? A word with you.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Let it be short, then. I'm in a hurry.
(Aside.) I believe be begins to find out his mistake. But
it's too soon quite to undeceive him.
MARLOW. Pray, child, answer me one question. What are
you, and what may your business in this house be?
MISS HARDCASTLE. A relation of the family, sir.
MARLOW. What, a poor relation.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir. A poor relation, appointed to
keep the keys, and to see that the guests want nothing in my
power to give them.
MARLOW. That is, you act as the bar-maid of this inn.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Inn! O law——what brought that in your
head? One of the best families in the country keep an
inn—Ha! ha! ha! old Mr. Hardcastle's house an inn!
MARLOW. Mr. Hardcastle's house! Is this Mr. Hardcastle's
MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, sure! Whose else should it be?
MARLOW. So then, all's out, and I have been damnably
imposed on. O, confound my stupid head, I shall be laughed
at over the whole town. I shall be stuck up in caricatura in
all the print-shops. The DULLISSIMO MACCARONI. To mistake
this house of all others for an inn, and my father's old
friend for an innkeeper! What a swaggering puppy must he
take me for! What a silly puppy do I find myself! There
again, may I be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the
MISS HARDCASTLE. Dear me! dear me! I'm sure there's
nothing in my BEHAVIOUR to put me on a level with one of
MARLOW. Nothing, my dear, nothing. But I was in for a
list of blunders, and could not help making you a
subscriber. My stupidity saw everything the wrong way. I
mistook your assiduity for assurance, and your simplicity
for allurement. But it's over. This house I no more show MY
MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, I have done nothing to
disoblige you. I'm sure I should be sorry to affront any
gentleman who has been so polite, and said so many civil
things to me. I'm sure I should be sorry (pretending to cry)
if he left the family upon my account. I'm sure I should be
sorry if people said anything amiss, since I have no fortune
but my character.
MARLOW. (Aside.) By Heaven! she weeps. This is the first
mark of tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it
touches me. (To her.) Excuse me, my lovely girl; you are the
only part of the family I leave with reluctance. But to be
plain with you, the difference of our birth, fortune, and
education, makes an honourable connexion impossible; and I
can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that
trusted in my honour, of bringing ruin upon one whose only
fault was being too lovely.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Generous man! I now begin to
admire him. (To him.) But I am sure my family is as good as
Miss Hardcastle's; and though I'm poor, that's no great
misfortune to a contented mind; and, until this moment, I
never thought that it was bad to want fortune.
MARLOW. And why now, my pretty simplicity?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Because it puts me at a distance from
one that, if I had a thousand pounds, I would give it all
MARLOW. (Aside.) This simplicity bewitches me, so that if
I stay, I'm undone. I must make one bold effort, and leave
her. (To her.) Your partiality in my favour, my dear,
touches me most sensibly: and were I to live for myself
alone, I could easily fix my choice. But I owe too much to
the opinion of the world, too much to the authority of a
father; so that—I can scarcely speak it—it affects me.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I never knew half his merit till now. He
shall not go, if I have power or art to detain him. I'll
still preserve the character in which I STOOPED TO CONQUER;
but will undeceive my papa, who perhaps may laugh him out of
his resolution. [Exit.]
Enter Tony and MISS NEVILLE.
TONY. Ay, you may steal for yourselves the next time. I
have done my duty. She has got the jewels again, that's a
sure thing; but she believes it was all a mistake of the
MISS NEVILLE. But, my dear cousin, sure you won't forsake
us in this distress? If she in the least suspects that I am
going off, I shall certainly be locked up, or sent to my
aunt Pedigree's, which is ten times worse.
TONY. To be sure, aunts of all kinds are damned bad
things. But what can I do? I have got you a pair of horses
that will fly like Whistle-jacket; and I'm sure you can't
say but I have courted you nicely before her face. Here she
comes, we must court a bit or two more, for fear she should
suspect us. [They retire, and seem to fondle.]
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, I was greatly fluttered, to be
sure. But my son tells me it was all a mistake of the
servants. I shan't be easy, however, till they are fairly
married, and then let her keep her own fortune. But what do
I see? fondling together, as I'm alive. I never saw Tony so
sprightly before. Ah! have I caught you, my pretty doves?
What, billing, exchanging stolen glances and broken murmurs?
TONY. As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a little now and
then, to be sure. But there's no love lost between us.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. A mere sprinkling, Tony, upon the flame,
only to make it burn brighter.
MISS NEVILLE. Cousin Tony promises to give us more of his
company at home. Indeed, he shan't leave us any more. It
won't leave us, cousin Tony, will it?
TONY. O! it's a pretty creature. No, I'd sooner leave my
horse in a pound, than leave you when you smile upon one so.
Your laugh makes you so becoming.
MISS NEVILLE. Agreeable cousin! Who can help admiring
that natural humour, that pleasant, broad, red, thoughtless
(patting his cheek)—ah! it's a bold face.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pretty innocence!
TONY. I'm sure I always loved cousin Con.'s hazle eyes,
and her pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and
that over the haspicholls, like a parcel of bobbins.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ah! he would charm the bird from the
tree. I was never so happy before. My boy takes after his
father, poor Mr. Lumpkin, exactly. The jewels, my dear Con.,
shall be yours incontinently. You shall have them. Isn't he
a sweet boy, my dear? You shall be married to-morrow, and
we'll put off the rest of his education, like Dr. Drowsy's
sermons, to a fitter opportunity.
DIGGORY. Where's the 'squire? I have got a letter for
TONY. Give it to my mamma. She reads all my letters
DIGGORY. I had orders to deliver it into your own hands.
TONY. Who does it come from?
DIGGORY. Your worship mun ask that o' the letter itself.
TONY. I could wish to know though (turning the letter,
and gazing on it).
MISS NEVILLE. (Aside.) Undone! undone! A letter to him
from Hastings. I know the hand. If my aunt sees it, we are
ruined for ever. I'll keep her employed a little if I can.
(To MRS. HARDCASTLE.) But I have not told you, madam, of my
cousin's smart answer just now to Mr. Marlow. We so
laughed.—You must know, madam.—This way a little, for he
must not hear us. [They confer.]
TONY. (Still gazing.) A damned cramp piece of penmanship,
as ever I saw in my life. I can read your print hand very
well. But here are such handles, and shanks, and dashes,
that one can scarce tell the head from the tail.—"To Anthony
Lumpkin, Esquire." It's very odd, I can read the outside of
my letters, where my own name is, well enough; but when I
come to open it, it's all——buzz. That's hard, very hard; for
the inside of the letter is always the cream of the
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so
my son was too hard for the philosopher.
MISS NEVILLE. Yes, madam; but you must hear the rest,
madam. A little more this way, or he may hear us. You'll
hear how he puzzled him again.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. He seems strangely puzzled now himself,
TONY. (Still gazing.) A damned up and down hand, as if it
was disguised in liquor.—(Reading.) Dear Sir,—ay, that's
that. Then there's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the
next be an izzard, or an R, confound me, I cannot tell.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. What's that, my dear? Can I give you any
MISS NEVILLE. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a
cramp hand better than I. (Twitching the letter from him.)
Do you know who it is from?
TONY. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger, the feeder.
MISS NEVILLE. Ay, so it is. (Pretending to read.) Dear
'Squire, hoping that you're in health, as I am at this
present. The gentlemen of the Shake-bag club has cut the
gentlemen of Goose-green quite out of feather. The
odds—um—odd battle—um—long fighting—um—here, here, it's all
about cocks and fighting; it's of no consequence; here, put
it up, put it up. (Thrusting the crumpled letter upon him.)
TONY. But I tell you, miss, it's of all the consequence
in the world. I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea.
Here, mother, do you make it out. Of no consequence! (Giving
MRS. HARDCASTLE the letter.)
MRS. HARDCASTLE. How's this?—(Reads.) "Dear 'Squire, I'm
now waiting for Miss Neville, with a post-chaise and pair,
at the bottom of the garden, but I find my horses yet unable
to perform the journey. I expect you'll assist us with a
pair of fresh horses, as you promised. Dispatch is
necessary, as the HAG (ay, the hag), your mother, will
otherwise suspect us! Yours, Hastings." Grant me patience. I
shall run distracted! My rage chokes me.
MISS NEVILLE. I hope, madam, you'll suspend your
resentment for a few moments, and not impute to me any
impertinence, or sinister design, that belongs to another.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Curtseying very low.) Fine spoken,
madam, you are most miraculously polite and engaging, and
quite the very pink of courtesy and circumspection, madam.
(Changing her tone.) And you, you great ill-fashioned oaf,
with scarce sense enough to keep your mouth shut: were you,
too, joined against me? But I'll defeat all your plots in a
moment. As for you, madam, since you have got a pair of
fresh horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint them.
So, if you please, instead of running away with your spark,
prepare, this very moment, to run off with ME. Your old aunt
Pedigree will keep you secure, I'll warrant me. You too,
sir, may mount your horse, and guard us upon the way. Here,
Thomas, Roger, Diggory! I'll show you, that I wish you
better than you do yourselves. [Exit.]
MISS NEVILLE. So now I'm completely ruined.
TONY. Ay, that's a sure thing.
MISS NEVILLE. What better could be expected from being
connected with such a stupid fool,—and after all the nods
and signs I made him?
TONY. By the laws, miss, it was your own cleverness, and
not my stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice
and so busy with your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I
thought you could never be making believe.
HASTINGS. So, sir, I find by my servant, that you have
shown my letter, and betrayed us. Was this well done, young
TONY. Here's another. Ask miss there, who betrayed you.
Ecod, it was her doing, not mine.
MARLOW. So I have been finely used here among you.
Rendered contemptible, driven into ill manners, despised,
insulted, laughed at.
TONY. Here's another. We shall have old Bedlam broke
MISS NEVILLE. And there, sir, is the gentleman to whom we
all owe every obligation.
MARLOW. What can I say to him, a mere boy, an idiot,
whose ignorance and age are a protection?
HASTINGS. A poor contemptible booby, that would but
MISS NEVILLE. Yet with cunning and malice enough to make
himself merry with all our embarrassments.
HASTINGS. An insensible cub.
MARLOW. Replete with tricks and mischief.
TONY. Baw! damme, but I'll fight you both, one after the
MARLOW. As for him, he's below resentment. But your
conduct, Mr. Hastings, requires an explanation. You knew of
my mistakes, yet would not undeceive me.
HASTINGS. Tortured as I am with my own disappointments,
is this a time for explanations? It is not friendly, Mr.
MARLOW. But, sir——
MISS NEVILLE. Mr. Marlow, we never kept on your mistake
till it was too late to undeceive you.
SERVANT. My mistress desires you'll get ready
immediately, madam. The horses are putting to. Your hat and
things are in the next room. We are to go thirty miles
before morning. [Exit Servant.]
MISS NEVILLE. Well, well: I'll come presently.
MARLOW. (To HASTINGS.) Was it well done, sir, to assist
in rendering me ridiculous? To hang me out for the scorn of
all my acquaintance? Depend upon it, sir, I shall expect an
HASTINGS. Was it well done, sir, if you're upon that
subject, to deliver what I entrusted to yourself, to the
care of another sir?
MISS NEVILLE. Mr. Hastings! Mr. Marlow! Why will you
increase my distress by this groundless dispute? I implore,
I entreat you——
SERVANT. Your cloak, madam. My mistress is impatient.
MISS NEVILLE. I come. Pray be pacified. If I leave you
thus, I shall die with apprehension.
SERVANT. Your fan, muff, and gloves, madam. The horses
MISS NEVILLE. O, Mr. Marlow! if you knew what a scene of
constraint and ill-nature lies before me, I'm sure it would
convert your resentment into pity.
MARLOW. I'm so distracted with a variety of passions,
that I don't know what I do. Forgive me, madam. George,
forgive me. You know my hasty temper, and should not
HASTINGS. The torture of my situation is my only excuse.
MISS NEVILLE. Well, my dear Hastings, if you have that
esteem for me that I think, that I am sure you have, your
constancy for three years will but increase the happiness of
our future connexion. If——
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Within.) Miss Neville. Constance, why
Constance, I say.
MISS NEVILLE. I'm coming. Well, constancy, remember,
constancy is the word. [Exit.]
HASTINGS. My heart! how can I support this? To be so near
happiness, and such happiness!
MARLOW. (To Tony.) You see now, young gentleman, the
effects of your folly. What might be amusement to you, is
here disappointment, and even distress.
TONY. (From a reverie.) Ecod, I have hit it. It's here.
Your hands. Yours and yours, my poor Sulky!—My boots there,
ho!—Meet me two hours hence at the bottom of the garden; and
if you don't find Tony Lumpkin a more good-natured fellow
than you thought for, I'll give you leave to take my best
horse, and Bet Bouncer into the bargain. Come along. My
boots, ho! [Exeunt.]
ACT THE FIFTH.
Enter HASTINGS and Servant.
HASTINGS. You saw the old lady and Miss Neville drive
off, you say?
SERVANT. Yes, your honour. They went off in a post-coach,
and the young 'squire went on horseback. They're thirty
miles off by this time.
HASTINGS. Then all my hopes are over.
SERVANT. Yes, sir. Old Sir Charles has arrived. He and
the old gentleman of the house have been laughing at Mr.
Marlow's mistake this half hour. They are coming this way.
HASTINGS. Then I must not be seen. So now to my fruitless
appointment at the bottom of the garden. This is about the
Enter SIR CHARLES and HARDCASTLE.
HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! The peremptory tone in which he
sent forth his sublime commands!
SIR CHARLES. And the reserve with which I suppose he
treated all your advances.
HARDCASTLE. And yet he might have seen something in me
above a common innkeeper, too.
SIR CHARLES. Yes, Dick, but he mistook you for an
uncommon innkeeper, ha! ha! ha!
HARDCASTLE. Well, I'm in too good spirits to think of
anything but joy. Yes, my dear friend, this union of our
families will make our personal friendships hereditary; and
though my daughter's fortune is but small—
SIR CHARLES. Why, Dick, will you talk of fortune to ME?
My son is possessed of more than a competence already, and
can want nothing but a good and virtuous girl to share his
happiness and increase it. If they like each other, as you
say they do—
HARDCASTLE. IF, man! I tell you they DO like each other.
My daughter as good as told me so.
SIR CHARLES. But girls are apt to flatter themselves, you
HARDCASTLE. I saw him grasp her hand in the warmest
manner myself; and here he comes to put you out of your IFS,
I warrant him.
MARLOW. I come, sir, once more, to ask pardon for my
strange conduct. I can scarce reflect on my insolence
HARDCASTLE. Tut, boy, a trifle! You take it too gravely.
An hour or two's laughing with my daughter will set all to
rights again. She'll never like you the worse for it.
MARLOW. Sir, I shall be always proud of her approbation.
HARDCASTLE. Approbation is but a cold word, Mr. Marlow;
if I am not deceived, you have something more than
approbation thereabouts. You take me?
MARLOW. Really, sir, I have not that happiness.
HARDCASTLE. Come, boy, I'm an old fellow, and know what's
what as well as you that are younger. I know what has passed
between you; but mum.
MARLOW. Sure, sir, nothing has passed between us but the
most profound respect on my side, and the most distant
reserve on hers. You don't think, sir, that my impudence has
been passed upon all the rest of the family.
HARDCASTLE. Impudence! No, I don't say that—not quite
impudence—though girls like to be played with, and rumpled a
little too, sometimes. But she has told no tales, I assure
MARLOW. I never gave her the slightest cause.
HARDCASTLE. Well, well, I like modesty in its place well
enough. But this is over-acting, young gentleman. You may be
open. Your father and I will like you all the better for it.
MARLOW. May I die, sir, if I ever——
HARDCASTLE. I tell you, she don't dislike you; and as I'm
sure you like her——
MARLOW. Dear sir—I protest, sir——
HARDCASTLE. I see no reason why you should not be joined
as fast as the parson can tie you.
MARLOW. But hear me, sir—
HARDCASTLE. Your father approves the match, I admire it;
every moment's delay will be doing mischief. So—
MARLOW. But why won't you hear me? By all that's just and
true, I never gave Miss Hardcastle the slightest mark of my
attachment, or even the most distant hint to suspect me of
affection. We had but one interview, and that was formal,
modest, and uninteresting.
HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) This fellow's formal modest
impudence is beyond bearing.
SIR CHARLES. And you never grasped her hand, or made any
MARLOW. As Heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience
to your commands. I saw the lady without emotion, and parted
without reluctance. I hope you'll exact no farther proofs of
my duty, nor prevent me from leaving a house in which I
suffer so many mortifications. [Exit.]
SIR CHARLES. I'm astonished at the air of sincerity with
which he parted.
HARDCASTLE. And I'm astonished at the deliberate
intrepidity of his assurance.
SIR CHARLES. I dare pledge my life and honour upon his
HARDCASTLE. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my
happiness upon her veracity.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE.
HARDCASTLE. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely
and without reserve: has Mr. Marlow made you any professions
of love and affection?
MISS HARDCASTLE. The question is very abrupt, sir. But
since you require unreserved sincerity, I think he has.
HARDCASTLE. (To SIR CHARLES.) You see.
SIR CHARLES. And pray, madam, have you and my son had
more than one interview?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, several.
HARDCASTLE. (To SIR CHARLES.) You see.
SIR CHARLES. But did be profess any attachment?
MISS HARDCASTLE. A lasting one.
SIR CHARLES. Did he talk of love?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Much, sir.
SIR CHARLES. Amazing! And all this formally?
MISS HARDCASTLE. Formally.
HARDCASTLE. Now, my friend, I hope you are satisfied.
SIR CHARLES. And how did he behave, madam?
MISS HARDCASTLE. As most profest admirers do: said some
civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit,
and the greatness of mine; mentioned his heart, gave a short
tragedy speech, and ended with pretended rapture.
SIR CHARLES. Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know
his conversation among women to be modest and submissive:
this forward canting ranting manner by no means describes
him; and, I am confident, he never sat for the picture.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then, what, sir, if I should convince
you to your face of my sincerity? If you and my papa, in
about half an hour, will place yourselves behind that
screen, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in
SIR CHARLES. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe,
all my happiness in him must have an end. [Exit.]
MISS HARDCASTLE. And if you don't find him what I
describe—I fear my happiness must never have a beginning.
SCENE changes to the back of the Garden.
HASTINGS. What an idiot am I, to wait here for a fellow
who probably takes a delight in mortifying me. He never
intended to be punctual, and I'll wait no longer. What do I
see? It is he! and perhaps with news of my Constance.
Enter Tony, booted and spattered.
HASTINGS. My honest 'squire! I now find you a man of your
word. This looks like friendship.
TONY. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have
in the world, if you knew but all. This riding by night, by
the bye, is cursedly tiresome. It has shook me worse than
the basket of a stage-coach.
HASTINGS. But how? where did you leave your
fellow-travellers? Are they in safety? Are they housed?
TONY. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half is no
such bad driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: rabbit
me, but I'd rather ride forty miles after a fox than ten
with such varment.
HASTINGS. Well, but where have you left the ladies? I die
TONY. Left them! Why where should I leave them but where
I found them?
HASTINGS. This is a riddle.
TONY. Riddle me this then. What's that goes round the
house, and round the house, and never touches the house?
HASTINGS. I'm still astray.
TONY. Why, that's it, mon. I have led them astray. By
jingo, there's not a pond or a slough within five miles of
the place but they can tell the taste of.
HASTINGS. Ha! ha! ha! I understand: you took them in a
round, while they supposed themselves going forward, and so
you have at last brought them home again.
TONY. You shall hear. I first took them down Feather-bed
Lane, where we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them
crack over the stones of Up-and-down Hill. I then introduced
them to the gibbet on Heavy-tree Heath; and from that, with
a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horse-pond at
the bottom of the garden.
HASTINGS. But no accident, I hope?
TONY. No, no. Only mother is confoundedly frightened. She
thinks herself forty miles off. She's sick of the journey;
and the cattle can scarce crawl. So if your own horses be
ready, you may whip off with cousin, and I'll be bound that
no soul here can budge a foot to follow you.
HASTINGS. My dear friend, how can I be grateful?
TONY. Ay, now it's dear friend, noble 'squire. Just now,
it was all idiot, cub, and run me through the guts. Damn
YOUR way of fighting, I say. After we take a knock in this
part of the country, we kiss and be friends. But if you had
run me through the guts, then I should be dead, and you
might go kiss the hangman.
HASTINGS. The rebuke is just. But I must hasten to
relieve Miss Neville: if you keep the old lady employed, I
promise to take care of the young one. [Exit HASTINGS.]
TONY. Never fear me. Here she comes. Vanish. She's got
from the pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Oh, Tony, I'm killed! Shook! Battered to
death. I shall never survive it. That last jolt, that laid
us against the quickset hedge, has done my business.
TONY. Alack, mamma, it was all your own fault. You would
be for running away by night, without knowing one inch of
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I wish we were at home again. I never
met so many accidents in so short a journey. Drenched in the
mud, overturned in a ditch, stuck fast in a slough, jolted
to a jelly, and at last to lose our way. Whereabouts do you
think we are, Tony?
TONY. By my guess we should come upon Crackskull Common,
about forty miles from home.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. O lud! O lud! The most notorious spot in
all the country. We only want a robbery to make a complete
TONY. Don't be afraid, mamma, don't be afraid. Two of the
five that kept here are hanged, and the other three may not
find us. Don't be afraid.—Is that a man that's galloping
behind us? No; it's only a tree.—Don't be afraid.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. The fright will certainly kill me.
TONY. Do you see anything like a black hat moving behind
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Oh, death!
TONY. No; it's only a cow. Don't be afraid, mamma; don't
MRS. HARDCASTLE. As I'm alive, Tony, I see a man coming
towards us. Ah! I'm sure on't. If he perceives us, we are
TONY. (Aside.) Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky, come
to take one of his night walks. (To her.) Ah, it's a
highwayman with pistols as long as my arm. A damned
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Good Heaven defend us! He approaches.
TONY. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave me
to manage him. If there be any danger, I'll cough, and cry
hem. When I cough, be sure to keep close. (MRS. HARDCASTLE
hides behind a tree in the back scene.)
HARDCASTLE. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people in
want of help. Oh, Tony! is that you? I did not expect you so
soon back. Are your mother and her charge in safety?
TONY. Very safe, sir, at my aunt Pedigree's. Hem.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Ah, death! I find there's
HARDCASTLE. Forty miles in three hours; sure that's too
much, my youngster.
TONY. Stout horses and willing minds make short journeys,
as they say. Hem.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Sure he'll do the dear
boy no harm.
HARDCASTLE. But I heard a voice here; I should be glad to
know from whence it came.
TONY. It was I, sir, talking to myself, sir. I was saying
that forty miles in four hours was very good going. Hem. As
to be sure it was. Hem. I have got a sort of cold by being
out in the air. We'll go in, if you please. Hem.
HARDCASTLE. But if you talked to yourself you did not
answer yourself. I'm certain I heard two voices, and am
resolved (raising his voice) to find the other out.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Oh! he's coming to find
me out. Oh!
TONY. What need you go, sir, if I tell you? Hem. I'll lay
down my life for the truth—hem—I'll tell you all, sir.
HARDCASTLE. I tell you I will not be detained. I insist
on seeing. It's in vain to expect I'll believe you.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Running forward from behind.) O lud!
he'll murder my poor boy, my darling! Here, good gentleman,
whet your rage upon me. Take my money, my life, but spare
that young gentleman; spare my child, if you have any mercy.
HARDCASTLE. My wife, as I'm a Christian. From whence can
she come? or what does she mean?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Kneeling.) Take compassion on us, good
Mr. Highwayman. Take our money, our watches, all we have,
but spare our lives. We will never bring you to justice;
indeed we won't, good Mr. Highwayman.
HARDCASTLE. I believe the woman's out of her senses.
What, Dorothy, don't you know ME?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fears
blinded me. But who, my dear, could have expected to meet
you here, in this frightful place, so far from home? What
has brought you to follow us?
HARDCASTLE. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits?
So far from home, when you are within forty yards of your
own door! (To him.) This is one of your old tricks, you
graceless rogue, you. (To her.) Don't you know the gate, and
the mulberry-tree; and don't you remember the horse-pond, my
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as
long as I live; I have caught my death in it. (To TONY.) And
it is to you, you graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll
teach you to abuse your mother, I will.
TONY. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled
me, and so you may take the fruits on't.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. I'll spoil you, I will. [Follows him off
the stage. Exit.]
HARDCASTLE. There's morality, however, in his reply.
Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.
HASTINGS. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate
thus? If we delay a moment, all is lost for ever. Pluck up a
little resolution, and we shall soon be out of the reach of
MISS NEVILLE. I find it impossible. My spirits are so
sunk with the agitations I have suffered, that I am unable
to face any new danger. Two or three years' patience will at
last crown us with happiness.
HASTINGS. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy.
Let us fly, my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this
very moment. Perish fortune! Love and content will increase
what we possess beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me prevail!
MISS NEVILLE. No, Mr. Hastings, no. Prudence once more
comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the
moment of passion fortune may be despised, but it ever
produces a lasting repentance. I'm resolved to apply to Mr.
Hardcastle's compassion and justice for redress.
HASTINGS. But though he had the will, he has not the
power to relieve you.
MISS NEVILLE. But he has influence, and upon that I am
resolved to rely.
HASTINGS. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must
reluctantly obey you. [Exeunt.]
Enter SIR CHARLES and MISS HARDCASTLE.
SIR CHARLES. What a situation am I in! If what you say
appears, I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be
true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most
wished for a daughter.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I am proud of your approbation, and to
show I merit it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you
shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
SIR CHARLES. I'll to your father, and keep him to the
appointment. [Exit SIR CHARLES.]
MARLOW. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more
to take leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I
feel in the separation.
MISS HARDCASTLE. (In her own natural manner.) I believe
sufferings cannot be very great, sir, which you can so
easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen
your uneasiness, by showing the little value of what you now
think proper to regret.
MARLOW. (Aside.) This girl every moment improves upon me.
(To her.) It must not be, madam. I have already trifled too
long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my
passion. The disparity of education and fortune, the anger
of a parent, and the contempt of my equals, begin to lose
their weight; and nothing can restore me to myself but this
painful effort of resolution.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Then go, sir: I'll urge nothing more to
detain you. Though my family be as good as hers you came
down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what
are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain
contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I
must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your
serious aims are fixed on fortune.
Enter HARDCASTLE and SIR CHARLES from behind.
SIR CHARLES. Here, behind this screen.
HARDCASTLE. Ay, ay; make no noise. I'll engage my Kate
covers him with confusion at last.
MARLOW. By heavens, madam! fortune was ever my smallest
consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who
could see that without emotion? But every moment that I
converse with you steals in some new grace, heightens the
picture, and gives it stronger expression. What at first
seemed rustic plainness, now appears refined simplicity.
What seemed forward assurance, now strikes me as the result
of courageous innocence and conscious virtue.
SIR CHARLES. What can it mean? He amazes me!
HARDCASTLE. I told you how it would be. Hush!
MARLOW. I am now determined to stay, madam; and I have
too good an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees
you, to doubt his approbation.
MISS HARDCASTLE. No, Mr. Marlow, I will not, cannot
detain you. Do you think I could suffer a connexion in which
there is the smallest room for repentance? Do you think I
would take the mean advantage of a transient passion, to
load you with confusion? Do you think I could ever relish
that happiness which was acquired by lessening yours?
MARLOW. By all that's good, I can have no happiness but
what's in your power to grant me! Nor shall I ever feel
repentance but in not having seen your merits before. I will
stay even contrary to your wishes; and though you should
persist to shun me, I will make my respectful assiduities
atone for the levity of my past conduct.
MISS HARDCASTLE. Sir, I must entreat you'll desist. As
our acquaintance began, so let it end, in indifference. I
might have given an hour or two to levity; but seriously,
Mr. Marlow, do you think I could ever submit to a connexion
where I must appear mercenary, and you imprudent? Do you
think I could ever catch at the confident addresses of a
MARLOW. (Kneeling.) Does this look like security? Does
this look like confidence? No, madam, every moment that
shows me your merit, only serves to increase my diffidence
and confusion. Here let me continue——
SIR CHARLES. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles,
how hast thou deceived me! Is this your indifference, your
HARDCASTLE. Your cold contempt; your formal interview!
What have you to say now?
MARLOW. That I'm all amazement! What can it mean?
HARDCASTLE. It means that you can say and unsay things at
pleasure: that you can address a lady in private, and deny
it in public: that you have one story for us, and another
for my daughter.
MARLOW. Daughter!—This lady your daughter?
HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, my only daughter; my Kate; whose
else should she be?
MARLOW. Oh, the devil!
MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, that very identical tall
squinting lady you were pleased to take me for
(courtseying); she that you addressed as the mild, modest,
sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward, agreeable
Rattle of the Ladies' Club. Ha! ha! ha!
MARLOW. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than
MISS HARDCASTLE. In which of your characters, sir, will
you give us leave to address you? As the faltering
gentleman, with looks on the ground, that speaks just to be
heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud confident creature,
that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and old Miss Biddy
Buckskin, till three in the morning? Ha! ha! ha!
MARLOW. O, curse on my noisy head. I never attempted to
be impudent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone.
HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, but you shall not. I
see it was all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You
shall not, sir, I tell you. I know she'll forgive you. Won't
you forgive him, Kate? We'll all forgive you. Take courage,
man. (They retire, she tormenting him, to the back scene.)
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and Tony.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. So, so, they're gone off. Let them go, I
HARDCASTLE. Who gone?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr.
Hastings, from town. He who came down with our modest
SIR CHARLES. Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a
fellow as lives, and the girl could not have made a more
HARDCASTLE. Then, by the hand of my body, I'm proud of
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, if he has taken away the lady, he
has not taken her fortune; that remains in this family to
console us for her loss.
HARDCASTLE. Sure, Dorothy, you would not be so mercenary?
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, that's my affair, not yours.
HARDCASTLE. But you know if your son, when of age,
refuses to marry his cousin, her whole fortune is then at
her own disposal.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, but he's not of age, and she has not
thought proper to wait for his refusal.
Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.
MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) What, returned so soon! I begin
not to like it.
HASTINGS. (To HARDCASTLE.) For my late attempt to fly off
with your niece let my present confusion be my punishment.
We are now come back, to appeal from your justice to your
humanity. By her father's consent, I first paid her my
addresses, and our passions were first founded in duty.
MISS NEVILLE. Since his death, I have been obliged to
stoop to dissimulation to avoid oppression. In an hour of
levity, I was ready to give up my fortune to secure my
choice. But I am now recovered from the delusion, and hope
from your tenderness what is denied me from a nearer
MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pshaw, pshaw! this is all but the
whining end of a modern novel.
HARDCASTLE. Be it what it will, I'm glad they're come
back to reclaim their due. Come hither, Tony, boy. Do you
refuse this lady's hand whom I now offer you?
TONY. What signifies my refusing? You know I can't refuse
her till I'm of age, father.
HARDCASTLE. While I thought concealing your age, boy, was
likely to conduce to your improvement, I concurred with your
mother's desire to keep it secret. But since I find she
turns it to a wrong use, I must now declare you have been of
age these three months.
TONY. Of age! Am I of age, father?
HARDCASTLE. Above three months.
TONY. Then you'll see the first use I'll make of my
liberty. (Taking MISS NEVILLE's hand.) Witness all men by
these presents, that I, Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire, of BLANK
place, refuse you, Constantia Neville, spinster, of no place
at all, for my true and lawful wife. So Constance Neville
may marry whom she pleases, and Tony Lumpkin is his own man
SIR CHARLES. O brave 'squire!
HASTINGS. My worthy friend!
MRS. HARDCASTLE. My undutiful offspring!
MARLOW. Joy, my dear George! I give you joy sincerely.
And could I prevail upon my little tyrant here to be less
arbitrary, I should be the happiest man alive, if you would
return me the favour.
HASTINGS. (To MISS HARDCASTLE.) Come, madam, you are now
driven to the very last scene of all your contrivances. I
know you like him, I'm sure he loves you, and you must and
shall have him.
HARDCASTLE. (Joining their hands.) And I say so too. And,
Mr. Marlow, if she makes as good a wife as she has a
daughter, I don't believe you'll ever repent your bargain.
So now to supper. To-morrow we shall gather all the poor of
the parish about us, and the mistakes of the night shall be
crowned with a merry morning. So, boy, take her; and as you
have been mistaken in the mistress, my wish is, that you may
never be mistaken in the wife. [Exeunt Omnes.]