« PreviousContinue »
One day upon our heads; while we, perhaps,
I.-Belcour and Stockwell.-WEST-INDIAN.
Stockwell. M you are welcome to England.
Belcour. I thank you heartily,good Mr. Stockwell. You and I have long conversed at a distance; now we are met; and the pleasure this meeting gives me amply compensates for the perils I have run through in accomplishing it.
Stock. What perils, Mr. Belcour? I could not have thought you would have met with a bad passage at this time o'year.
Bel. Nor did we. Courier-like, we came posting to your shores, upon the pinions of the swiftest gales that ever blew. It is upon English ground all my difficulties have arisen; it is the passage from the river side I complain of.
Stock. Indeed! What obstructions can you have met between this and the river side?
Bel. Innumerable! You town's as full of defiles as the island of Corsica; and I believe they are as obstinately defended. So much hurry, bustle and confusion on your quays; so many sugar casks, porter butts and common council men in your streets; that unless a man marched with artillery in his front, it is more than the labor of an Hercules can effect, to make any tolerable way through your town.
Stock. I am sorry you have been so incommoded..
Bel. Why, truly it was all my own fault. Accustomed to a land of slaves, and out of patience with the whole tribe of custom-house extortioners, boat-men, tide-waiters and water-bailiffs, that beset me on all sides, worse than a swarm of moschettoes, I proceeded a little ton roughly to brush them away with my rattan. The sturdy rogues took this in dudgeon; and beginning to rebel, the mob chose different sides, and a furious scuffle ensued; in the course of which, my person and apparel suf, fered so much, that I was obliged to step into the first tavern to refit, before I could make my approaches in any decent trim.
Stock. Well, Mr. Belcour, it is a rough sample you have had of my countrymen's spirit; but I trust you will not think the worse of them for it.
Bel. Not at all, not at all; I like them the better.Were I only a visitor, I might perhaps wish them a little more tractable; but, as a fellow subject, and a sharer in their freedom, I applaud their spirit-though I feel the effects of it in every bone in my skin.- -Well, Mr. Stockwell, for the first time in my life, here am I in England; at the fountain head of pleasure; in the land of beauty, of arts and elegancies. My happy stars have given me a good estate, and the conspiring winds have blown me hither to spend it.
Stock. To use it, not to waste it, I should hope; to treat it, Mr. Belcour, not as a vassal over whom you have a wanton, despòtic power, but as a subject whom you are bound to govern with a temperate and restrained authority.
Bel. True, Sir, most truly said; mine's a commission, not a right; I am the offspring of distress, and every child of sorrow is my brother. While I have hands to
hold, therefore, I will hold them open to mankind. But, Sir, my passions are my masters; they take me where they will; and oftentimes they leave to reason and virtue nothing but my wishes and my sighs.
Stock. Come, come, the man who can accuse, corrects himself.
Bel. Ah! That is an office I am weary of. I wish a friend would take it up; I would to heaven you had leisure for the employ. But did you drive a trade to the four corners of the world, you would not find the task so toilsome as to keep me from faults.
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged. This candor tells me I should not have the fault of self-conceit to combat ; that, at least, is not amongst the number."
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth who thought more humbly of me than I do of myself, I would take his opinion, and forego my own.
Stock. And were I to choose a pupil, it should be one of your complexion: so if you will come along with me, we will agree upon your admission, and enter upon a course of lectures directly.
Bel. With all my heart.
II.-Lady Townly and Lady Grace.-PROVOKED HUSBAND. T.
dear Grace! How could you
leave me so unmercifully alone all this
Lady G. I thought my Lord had been with you. Lady T. Why yes-and therefore I wanted your relief: for he has been in such a fluster here
Lady G. Bless me! for what?
Lady T. Only our usual breakfast; we have each of us bad our dish of matrimonial comfort this morningwe have been charming company.
Lady G. I am mighty glad of it; sure it must be a vast happiness, when man and wife can give themselves the same turn of conversation!
Lady T. Oh, the prettiest thing in the world!
Lady G. Now I should be afraid, that where two people are every day together so, they must often be in want of something to talk upon.
Lady T. Oh, my dear, you are the most mistaken in the world! Married people have things to talk of, child, that never enter into the imagination of others.--Why, here's my lord and I, now; we have not been married above two short years, you know, and we have already eight or ten things constantly in bank, that whenever we want company, we can take up any one of them for two hours together, and the subject never the flatter; nay, if we have occasion for it, it will be as fresh next day, too, as it was the first hour it entertained us.
Lady G. Certainly, that must be vastly pretty.
Lady T. Oh, there is no life like it! Why, t'other day, for example, when you dined abroad, my Lord and I, after a pretty cheerful tete a tete meal, sat us down by the fireside, in an easy, indolent, pick tooth way, for about a quarter of an hour, as if we had not thought of one another's being in the room.-At last, stretching himself and yawning-My dear, says he- aw -you came home very late last night- 'Twas but just turned of two, says II was in bed- aw- -by eleven, says, he- -So you are every night, says I- -Well, says he, I am amazed you can sit up so late-How can you be amazed, says I, at a thing that happens so, often?Upon which we entered into a conversation-and though this is a point that has entertained us above fifty times already, we always find so many pretty new things to say about it, that I believe in my soul it will last as long as I live.
Lady G. But pray, in such sort of family dialogues (though extremely well for passing the time) does n't there now and then enter some little witty sort of bitterness?
Lady T. Oh yes! Which does not do amiss at all. A smart repartee, with a zest of recrimination at the head of it, makes the prettiest sherbert. Aye, aye, if we did not mix a little of the acid with it, a matrimonial society would be so luscious, that nothing but an old liquorish prude would be able to bear it.
Lady G. Well, certainly you have the most elegant
Lady T. Though to tell you the truth, my dear, I rather think we squeezed a little too much lemon into it
this bout; for it grew so sour at last, that I thinkalmost told him he was a fool- ———and he againtalked something oddly-of turning me out of doors. Lady G. Oh! Have a care of that.
Lady T. Nay, if he should, I may thank my own wise father for it.
Lady G. How so?
Lady T. Why, when my good Lord first opened his honorable trenches before me, my unaccountable papa, in whose hands I then was, gave me up at discretion. Lady G. How do you mean ?
Lady T. He said the wives of this age were come to that pass, that he could not desire even his own daughter should trusted with pin-money; so that my whole train of separate inclinations are left entirely at the mercy of a husband's odd humor.
Lady G. Why, that, indeed, is enough to make a woman of spirit look about her.
Lady T. Nay, but to be serious, my dear-What would you really have a woman to do in my case?
Lady G. Why, if I had a sober husband as you have, I would make myself the happiest wife in the world, by being as sober as he.
Lady T. Oh, you wicked thing! How can you teaze one at this rate, when you know he is so very sober that (except giving me money) there is not one thing in the world he can do to please me. And I, at the same time, partly by nature, and partly, perhaps, by keeping the best company, do with my soul love almost every thing he hates. I dote upon assemblies; my heart bounds at a ball, and at an opera-I expire. Then I love play to distraction; cards enchant me-and dice-put me out of my little wits. Dear, dear hazard! O what a flow of spirits it gives one! Do you ever play at hazard, child!
Lady G. Oh, never! I don't think it sits well upon woInes; there's something so masculine, so much of the air. of rake in it. You see how it makes the men swear and curse; and when a woman is thrown into the same pas sion-why
Lady T. That's very true; one is a little put to it, sometimes, not to make use of the same words to express