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cholic phiz? Why thou look'st as sorrowful as a lover who had just received his final dismission, or an author on the damnation of his piece, or
Worm. Truca with your satire, Mr. Witling. Or if you must employ it, let it be levelled against the vices and follies of this most wicked and ridiculous age.
Wit. Wicked and ridiculous! Prythee how is it ridiculous ?
Worm. How ridiculous ? Why the men are grown effeminate, and the women
Wit. Hold, hold, no treason against the fair. But how is it wicked ?
Worm. Why, honor consists in duelling, and honesty in cunning: virtue in the concealment of vice, and religion in hypocrisy:
Wit. Well, but my dear Diogenes, why art thou out of thy tub ? Such a cynic as thou art should surely abjure society.
Worm. I am here but as an observer, sir.
Wit. O, what you mean to set about the reformation of manners, perhaps. 'Tis highly commendable, foregad; and, for one of thy talents, no very difficult undertaking.
Worm. No, Sir, no. 'Tis an Herculean task-I am 110 way equal to it.
Wit. I should rather imagine it a very easy task, for thou hast had experience enough in the ways of wickedness, I am sure.
Worm. Experience ?
Wit. Aye, experience. Why all thy friends know that thou hast been one of the wickedest dogs that ever existed : nay, many whisper that thou art so still, and that the cloak of virtue which thou now wearest, is merely put on that thou mayst sin the more securely.
Worm. An additional proof of the injustice of mankind, who are ever ready to depreciate the merit they are unable to attain to.
Wit. Well said, Vanity! But what is become of the girl, Wormwood ?—the Somersetshire girl, that you were so kind as to release from the shackles of obedience, and brought with you to London?
Worm. (aside) 'Sdeath, does he know that too i Sir, the world
Wit. Nay, nay, the world has done thee justice thereit swears thou hast an admirable taste.
Worm. Psha, psha. If you will give ear to these ridiculous stories—I acknowledge bringing the girl to London, indeed; but there was nothing criminal in the proceeding
Wit. Criminal! no, no, that's an ugly word-Charitable, charitable, call it-'were pity that so much beauty should be buried in the country, you know. Well, after all, Wormwood, we men of pleasure, and the town, are infinitely obliged to you grave rogues for occasionally helping is to a new female acquaintance : for as honest Ranger observes, “ there is a degree of assurance in you modest gentlemen, which we impudent fellows never can come
Worm. Well, sir, since you are thus bent against conviction, I shall not attempt to undeceive you. I am not the only man, who, while his character is injured, is not permitted to justify himself.
Wit. Nay, nay, thy general character is a very good one; too good, egad. There are many much honester fellows who have not half so fair a name.
Worm. You would instance yourself, perhaps. I am not to learn that the epithet honest is too frequently ill-bestowed. Honesty, according to the modern acceptation of the word
Wit. Well, well, I shall leave you to descant upon honesty, while I practise it, so adieu. Come along, Modely.
[Ereunt Wit. and Mod. Enter LoveMORE on The other side. Worm. Lovemore! But why that dejected air ?
Love. O, Worniwood! I am the veriest wretch-Ara. bella, the lovely, charming Arabella, has refused to listen to me; but with an air and manner that has made me, if possible, more her admirer. Admirer ! 'tis too cold an expression--I adore her.
Worm. She is indeed a fine woman, you must continue to adore her. The more fervent your adoration, the sooner you may expect success.
Love. Success! I almost despair of it; my only hope is in Belville's jealousy. Fortunately for me, his suspicions light on Belmour.
Worm. For that, my friend, you are indebted to me. I first awakened them. In doing it I have a double motive. Belinda must be mine. She has a fine fortune, I stand in need of it. I know her partiality for Belmour; but, I know, likewise, that she cannot brook disdain. Be it mine, by some forged contrivance, to keep alive their suspicions, your's to strengthen them. So may we assist each other.
Love. Admitting that you effect the ruin of Belmour, what hope have you of obtaining Belinda ?
Worm. Why first, that from my general good character, her uncle will be inclined to favor me. But here, here, my boy, is what may help us in our business. (showing a letter) An intercepted letter from Belmour to Belinda ; and as there is nothing in it but what may as well be ap. plied to one woman as to another, my jutention is to change the cover, and at a proper opportunity forward it to Arabella.
Lore. Admirable! This may be productive of precious mischief.
Worm. I think so. But I must follow Witling. The fellow has been blurting out some unseasonable truths, which should they get wind, will certainly ruin me.
Love. Then all is lost. Witling has the rancor of a disappointed prude; atid whatever ihe stories are, will be unhappy 'till he has published them.
Worm. Never fear. Here's that shall bind him to see crecy. (pointing to his sword) I think I know my man,
[Erit Worm. Enter CAPTAIN HARCOURT. Love. Jack Harcourt! Is it possible? I am heartily rejoiced at meeting you. When I left Calcutta, I little imagined that you would so soon have followed me. How long have you been in England ?
Iar. Nearly six inonths. Yet you are the only person who must know of my arrival.
Love. Indeed! why so i
Har. I have two or three reasons for wishing to remain incog. but principally from the following circumBlance ; you inust know that the young gentleman, my father, is desperately in love with Melissa Melville, my goddess, whom I accidentally saw at an assembly a day or two after my landing, and to whom Sir Peter Positive, who lives at yonder mansion, is guardian.
Love. I know he is for that mansion likewise contains my goddess. What do you think of Arabella, Sir Peter's niece?
Har. A very fine girl and a fine fortune.
Love. True! I know but little, however, either of Sir Peter or his lady. Pray what sort of characters are they?
Hur. Whimsical enough. My lady, who in her youth was a first-rate coquette, imagines that no man can possibly look on her without losing his heart: while Sir Peter, who is a good deal older than his wife, is ever jealous of her to excess.
But I am not personally acquainted with either.
Love. Does Sir Peter encourage your father's addresses ?
Har. Warmly. I begin to suspect that there are some secret and underhand dealings between them, in regard to Melissa's fortune.
Lore. Indeed! That may be worth inquiring into.
Har. Certainly. But how have you succeeded with Sir Peter?
Love. Why, faith, my approaches must not be made directly to him. I fear he would not be much inclined to favor me:
Har. Take my advice then, and appear particular to bis wife. Awaken his jealousy. It may forward your marriage with his niece.
Love. Egad l’nı obliged to you for the hint. My servant, Robert, is a keen fellow—he shall whisper something of the kind among Sir Peter's people, it may reach the ears of the knight, you know.
Har. True. Then will he be glad to get rid of you at any rate: and marrying you to his niece, he may think the surest way.
Love. It has a face, I confess. I'll about it instantly. But you will certainly be discovered.
Har. O, no fear of that. I quitted England with my uncle when a child : and as I have resided in India nearly twenty years, my features and complexion are so totally altered, that I cannot possibly be known by any one. have taken the name of Moreton, and introduced myself to my father as the particular friend of his son, who, as I give him to understand, was, on my leaving Calcutta, about twelve months sivce, in perfect health and spirits.
Love. Pleasant enough.
Har. Yes; and being able to give Mr. Harcourt a favorable account of Jack-of the Captain-I have gained his entire confidence. He has informed me of his amour, and even requested my advice on the matter : little suspecting that I am at once his rival and son.
Love. Ha, ha! well I sincerely wish you success. Pray, are you ever able to get a sight of Melissa?
Har. Very seldom. She scarcely ever makes :er appearance at Sir Peter's on account of some disagreement between herself and the pieces. She is now at the house of a female relation in the neighbourhood, where she is closely watched by order of her guardian.
Love. How thien do you mean to procced?
Har. Why faith, I am somewhat puzzled about it. I must, however, endeavour to frighten my father from his intended marriage; for I have heard too much of his dis. position to think of reasoning with him on the matter. Under such circumstances, a little artitice may, I hope, be pardonable.
Love. Certainly; and you have cunning enough for the business, I warrant—'Tis wit at a venture, Farewel ! But not a word of my attachment to Arabella.
[Exeunt severally: [Enter BELVILLE, BELMOUR, and Modely.] Belu. Thank heaven, we have got rid of our impertinents. And now, my dear Belmour, inform me, I intreat you, how is my Arabella— have you heard of her lately?
Bel. Heard of her? Yes, and seen her too, almost every day during the last six months.
Belv. Seen her, say you ? “ almost every day during the last six months." Well, Sir, and is she happy-is she in health?
Bel. Hum-Tolerable; as well as a young lady can be, who has so long been deprived of her lover.
Belv. Truce with fooling! Was she uneasy ? did she regret my absence, or call upon my name?
Bel. Your name? (yes, she sometimes mentioned it in her sleep.