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Lady Sneerwell. Come, ladies, shall we sit down to cards in the next room?
Enter SERVANT, who whispers Sir PETER. Sir Peter. I'll be with them directly. (Exit servant.) (Aside.) I'll get away unperceived.
Lady Sneerwell. Sir Peter, you are not going to leave us? Sir Peter. Your Ladyship must excuse me.
I'm called away by particular business. But I leave my character behind me.
(Exit.) Sir Benjamin. Well-certainly, Lady Teazle, that lord of yours is a strange being: I could tell you some stories of him would make you laugh heartily if he were not your husband.
Lady Teazle. Oh, pray don't mind that: come, do let's hear them.
(Exeunt all but JOSEPH SURFACE and MARIA.) Joseph Surface. Maria, I see you have no satisfaction in this society.
Maria. How is it possible I should? If to raise malicious smiles at the infirmities or misfortunes of those who have never injured us be the province of wit or humor, Heaven grant me a double portion of dullness!
Joseph Surface. Yet they appear more ill-natured than they are: they have no malice at heart.
Maria. Then is their conduct still more contemptible; for in my opinion, nothing could excuse the intemperance of their tongues but a natural and uncontrollable bitterness of mind.
AUCTIONING OFF ONE'S RELATIVES.
From the School for Scandal.'
[Charles Surface, an amiable but dissipated young man of fashion, has decided to raise money for his pastimes by selling to a supposed “ broker his last salable property, the family portraits. The purchaser of them, under the name of "Mr. Premium,” is Charles's uncle, Sir Oliver Snrface, who, in disguise, desires to study his graceless nephew's character and extravagances.
The scene is the disfurnished mansion of Charles in London; and he is at table with several friends when the feigned Mr. Premium is presented.]
Charles Surface. (To SIR OLIVER.) Mr. Premium, my friend Moses is a very honest fellow, but a little slow at expression; he 'll be an hour giving us our titles. Mr. Premium, the plain state of the matter is this: I am an extravagant young fellow who wants to borrow money; you I take to be a prudent old fellow who have got money to lend. I am blockhead enough to give fifty per cent. sooner than not have it; and you, I presume, are rogue enough to take a hundred if you can get it. Now, sir, you see we are acquainted at once, and may proceed to business without further ceremony.
Sir Oliver. Exceeding frank, upon my word. I see, sir, you are not a man of many compliments.
Charles. Oh, no, sir! plain dealing in business I always think best.
Sir Oliver. Sir, I like you the better for it. However, you are mistaken in one thing: I have no money to lend, but I believe I could procure some of a friend; but then he's an unconscionable dog. Isn't he, Moses? And must sell stock to accommodate you. Mustn't he, Moses?
Moses. Yes, indeed! You know I always speak the truth, and scorn to tell a lie!
Charles. Right. People that speak truth generally do. But these are trifles, Mr. Premium. What! I know money isn't to be bought without paying for 't!
Sir Oliver. Well, but what security could you give? You have no land, I suppose?
Charles. Not a mole-hill, nor a twig, but what's in the bough-pots out of the window !
Sir Oliver. Nor any stock, I presume?
Charles. Nothing but live stock--and that only a few pointers and ponies. But pray, Mr. Premium, are you acquainted at all with any of my connections?
Sir Oliver. Why, to say truth, I am.
Charles. Then you must know that I have a devilish rich uncle in the East Indies—Sir Oliver Surface from whom I have the greatest expectations?
Sir Oliver. That you have a wealthy uncle, I have heard; but how your expectations will turn out is more, I believe, than you can tell.
Charles. Oh, no! there can be no doubt. They tell me I'm a prodigious favorite, and that he talks of leaving me everything
Sir Oliver. Indeed! This is the first I 've heard of it.
Charles. Yes, yes, 't is just so. Moses knows 't is true; don't you, Moses?
Moses. Oh, yes! I'll swear to 't.
Sir Oliver. (Aside.) Egad, they 'll persuade me presently I'm at Bengal.
Charles. Now I propose, Mr. Premium, if it's agreeable to you, a post-obit on Sir Oliver's life; though at the same time the old fellow has been so liberal to me, that I give you my word I should be very sorry to hear that any. thing had happened to him.
Sir Oliver. Not more than I should, I assure you. But the bond you mention happens to be just the worst security you could offer me—for I might live to a hundred and never see the principal.
Charles. Oh, yes, you would! The moment Sir Oliver dies, you know, you would come on me for the money.
Sir Oliver. Then I believe I should be the most unwelcome dun you ever had in your life. Charles. What!
What! I suppose you're afraid that Sir Oliver is too good a life?
Sir Oliver. No, indeed I am not; though I have heard he is as hale and healthy as any man of his years in Christendom.
Charles. There again, now, you are misinformed. No, no: the climate has hurt him considerably-poor Uncle Oliver. Yes, yes, he breaks apace, I'm told-and is so much altered lately that his nearest relations would not know him.
Sir Oliver. No! Ha! ha! ha! so much altered lately that his nearest relations would not know him! Ha! ha! ha! egad-ha! ha! ha!
Charles. Ha! ha! ha!-you 're glad to hear that, little Premium?
Sir Oliver. No, no, I'm not.
Charles. Yes, yes, you are—ha! ha! ha!-you know that mends your chance.
Sir Oliver. But I'm told Sir Oliver is coming over; nay, some say he is actually arrived.
Charles. Psha! sure I must know better than you whether he's come or not. No, no: rely on't he's at this moment at Calcutta. Isn't he, Moses?
Moses. Oh, yes, certainly.
Sir Oliver. Very true, as you say, you must know better than I; though I have it from pretty good authority. Haven't I, Moses?
Moses. Yes most undoubted!
Sir Oliver. But, sir, as I understand you want a few hundreds immediately, is there nothing you could dispose of?
Charles. How do you mean?
Sir Oliver. For instance, now I have heard that your father left behind him a great quantity of massy old plate.
Charles. O Lud! that's gone long ago. Moses can tell you how better than I can.
Sir Oliver. (Aside.) Good lack! all the family race cups and corporation bowls! (Aloud.) Then it was also supposed that his library was one of the most valuable and compact.
Charles. Yes, yes, so it was,—vastly too much so for a private gentleman. For my part, I was always of a communicative disposition, so I thought it a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself.
Sir Oliver. (Aside.) Mercy upon me! learning that had run in the family like an heirloom! (Aloud.)
(Aloud.) Pray, , what are become of the books?
Charles. You must inquire of the auctioneer, Master Premium; for I don't believe even Moses can direct you.
Moses. I know nothing of books.
Sir Oliver. So, so: nothing of the family property left, I suppose?
Charles. Not much, indeed; unless you have a mind to the family pictures. I have got a room full of ancestors above; and if you have a taste for old paintings, egad, you shall have 'em a bargain!
Sir Oliver. Hey! what the devil! sure, you wouldn't sell your forefathers, would you?
Charles. Every man of them, to the best bidder.
Charles. Ay; and my great-grandfathers and grandmothers too. Sir Oliver. (Aside.) Now I give him up!
Now I give him up! (Aloud.) What the plague, have you no bowels for your own kindred? Odds life! do you take me for Shylock in the play, that you would raise money of me on your own flesh and blood ?
Charles. Nay, my little broker, don't be angry: what need you care, if you have your money's worth?
Sir Oliver. Well, I'll be the purchaser: I think I can dispose of the family canvas. (Aside.) Oh, I'll never forgive him this! never!
Enter CARELESS. Careless. Come, Charles, what keeps you?
Charles. I can't come yet. ' faith, we are going to have a sale above-stairs; here's little Premium will buy all my ancestors!
Careless. Oh, burn your ancestors!
Charles. No, he may do that afterwards if he pleases. Stay, Careless, we want you: egad, you shall be auctioneer; so come along with us. Careless. Oh, have with you, if that's the case.
I can handle a hammer as well as a dice-box! Going! going ! Sir Oliver. (Aside.)
(Aside.) Oh, the profligates! Charles. Come, Moses, you shall be appraiser, if we want one. Gad's life, little Premium, you don't seem to like the business?
Sir Oliver. Oh, yes. I do, vastly! Ha! ha! ha! yes, yes, I think it a rare joke to sell one's family by auctionha! ha! (Aside.) Oh, the prodigal!
Charles. To be sure! when a man wants money, where the plague should he get assistance if he can't make free with his own relations?
(Exeunt.) Sir Oliver. (Aside, as they go out.) I'll never forgive him; never! never!
SCENE. A picture room in CHARLES SURFACE's house. Enter CHARLES SURFACE, SIR OLIVER SURFACE, MOSES, and
CARELESS. Charles. Walk in, gentlemen, pray walk in-here they are: the family of the Surfaces, up to the Conquest.
Sir Oliver. And in my opinion, a goodly collection.
Charles. Ay, ay, these are done in the true spirit of portrait painting; no volontière grace or expression. Not like the works of your modern Raphaels, who give you the