Pen. Send 'em in at the window then, and the fewer the better.

Wea. I bring you news out of Cornwall; news of great consequence.

Pen. Who are you, and what are you?

Wea. Timothy Weazel, of Lestwithiel, attorney at law, and agent to Sir George Penruddock : let me in to your house.

Pen. An attorney! Keep on the outside of it, if you please ; l'll deal with you in the open air.

(Shuts the casement. Wea. Here's a surly humour; here's a pretty freak of Fortune, to pile bags of money on the back of an ass, who only kicks against the burthen ; I warrant, if the sky rained gold, this churl would not hold out his dish to catch it; but we shall soon see what stuff his philosophy is made of; good chance if I don't shake his metaphysics out of him ere lovg. [Penruddock appears at the Cottage door.] O ho! I've bolted him, however.- Zooks ! What a heathen philosophy 'prit is !

Pen. (Coming forward, L.] Now, Mr. Attorney, what have you to say, for thus disturbing my whole family? What have I doue, or the poor cat, my peaceable companion, that thus the boisterous knuckles of the law should nar our meditations

Wea. (R, Pow)y, sir, I was compelled to make some little noise ; your castle is but small

Pen. It's big enough for my ambition.
Wea. And passing solitary.
Pen. I wish you had suffered it to be silent too.

Wea. In faith, sir, if I knew how to be heard without a sound, I would gratify your wish ; but if your silence suffers by my news, I hope your happiness will not.

Pen. Happiness! What's that? I am content, I enjoy tranquillity; heaven be thanked, I have nothing to do with happiness.

Weu. There you are beyond me, sir. If an humble fortune and this poor cottage give you content, perhaps great riches and a splendid house would not add to it.

Pen. Explain your meaning, friend : I don't understand you.

IVea. In plain words, then, you are to know, that your rich relation, Sir George Penruddock, is deceased. Pen. Dead ! Wea. Defunct; gone to bis ancestors ; whipped away by


the sudden stroke of an apoplexy; this moment here, heaven kuows where the next : Death will do it when he likes, and how he likes : I need not remind you, sir, who are so learned a philosopher, how frail the tenure of mortality.

Pen. You need not, indeed : if Sir George thought as seriously of death before it happened, it may have been well for him ; but his thoughts, I fear, were otherwise employed.

Wea. I much doubt if he ever thought at all : he was a fiue gentleman, and lived freely.

Pen. No wonder then he died suddenly.-But how does this apply to me ?

Wea. No otherwise than as you are the heir of every thing he possessed : I have the will in safe keeping about

Pen. Have patience ; this is somewhat sudden ; I am un. prepared for such an event; 'twas never in my contemplation : I was in no habits with Sir George ; never courted him, never corresponded with him ; the small annuity, 'tis true, on which I have subsisted, was charged on his estate, and regularly paid, but here he never came ; man could not he more opposite to man : he worshipped Fortune ; 1 despised her : I studied closely, he gamed incessantly

Wea. And won abundantly-If money be your passion, you'll find plenty of it.

Pen. What should I do with money ?

Wea. Money, indeed !-Why money is in short, what is it not ?

Pen. Not health, methinks, nor life for he that had it, died.

Wea. But you that have it, live. And is there nothing that can tempt you ? Recollect hooks money will buy books; pay more, it will buy those who write them.

Pen. It will so.
IVea. "T'will purchase panegyrics, odes, and dedications:
Pen. I can't gainsay it.
Wea. House, table, equipage, attendants-
Pen. I have all those : what else?

Wea. Ah, sir, you surely can't forget there are such
things in this world as beauty, love, irresistible woman-
[Dume Dunckley crosses the stage from R. S. E. and goes.

into the cottage. Pen. I keep a woman; she visits me every day, makes my bed, sweeps my house, cooks ing dinner, and is seventy years of age--yet I resist her.

[ocr errors]

Wea. I could say something to that, but I am afraid it will offend you.

Pen. Say on boldly ; never fear me.

Wea. Why truly, sir, I find you of a very different temper from what I expected : I should doubt if your philosophy has made you insensible; I am sure it has not made you proud.

Pen. I am as proud in my nature as any man ought to be, but surely as humble as any man can be.

Wea. Suffer me then to ask you if there is not a certain lady living, Arabella Woodville hy name, whom you once thought irresistible?

Pen. Who told you this ? How came you thus to strike upon a name, that twenty years of solitude have not effaced ?

Wea. Because I would prepare you for a task, that, with the fortune you inherit, must devolve upon you. The interests of this lady, perhaps even her existence, are now in your hands. When I shall deliver the deeds bequeathed to you hy your cousin, I shall arm you with the means of extinguishing the wretched Woodville at a blow.

Pen. What is it you tell me ? Have a care how you reverse my nature with a word. Woodville in my power! Woodville at my mercy! If there's a man on earth that can inspire me with revenge, it is that treacherous, base, deceitful rival. I was in his power, for I loved himhe betrayed me; I was at his mercy, for I trusted him-he destroyed me.

Wea. Now then you'll own. that money can give something, for it gives revenge:

Pen. Come on ; my mind is made up to this fortune ; to the extremest atom l'll exact it all : the miser's passion seizes on my heart; and

money, which I held as dirt, is now my deity.

[E.reunt into the Cottage, L. S. E.

SCENE II.-Another part of the Forest.

Enter WOODVILLE, followed by his Servant, L. Wood. Go, go, begone !-Why do you follow ?

Tru. I pray you, sir, don't dismiss the chaise in this wild place; let it convey you to the next town, and then pursue your journey as you please.

Wood. Don't talk to me, doui't trouble me ; my journey is at an end.

Tru. You have been up all night : your mind and body both require some rest.

Wood. What if they do! Can you administer to agonies like mine? How dare you thus intrude ? By what authority have you, my servant, made yourself a spy upon my actions ?

Tru. By no authority, but that of my affection and good will : you have been kind to me in your prosperity ; ought I to desert you in adversity ? Indeed, indeed, sir, I can't leave you here alone.

Wood. Foolish, officious fellow, I perceive you think I have lost my senses ; no, I possess thein clearly : I know both where I am and what I have to do. Had I designs against myself, you could not hinder them ; but I have none; 'tis not my own life but your's that is in danger, unless you instantly depart. Look ! Here is your dismission-I am resolute to be obeyed. [Draws a pistola

Tru. Take my life ; fire when you please : l'm not afraid of dying.

Enter SYDENHAM, L. Syd. Woodville, what ails you ? Are you mad? Do you fight duels with your own servant ?

[Crosses, c. Wood. Duels !

Syd. You're right: I see he is not armed. What the devil aud all his doinys possesses you to point your pistol at a naked man ? If you consider him as your equal, give him the fellow to it; if you would punish him as your servant, turn him away.

Wood. But he will not be turned away.

Tru. Not whilst it was my duty to stay by you ; now Mr. Sydenham is come, I will intrude no longer

(Exit, L. Syd. (L.) Harry Woodville, are you in your senses, to act in this manner ?

Wood. (R.) Are you not out of yours, to come thus far to ask me such a question ?

Syd. Perhaps I am, but there's no reasoning about friendship; when I see a fellow, whom I love, throw away his happiness, game away his fortune, and then run from the ruin he has made, I have a foolish nature about me, that in spite of all his phrenzy will run after him ; and though he may break loose from all the world beside, damn me if he shall shake off me, though he had twenty pistols in his reach, and I not one in minc.

Wood. Your friendship, Mr. Sydenham, is not wanted at this moment, and give me leave to say it is unwelcome.

Syd. Very likely; I care little about the welcome that you give me, as I am not quite sure you are the man I was in search of : my friend was a gentleman, though an unwise one; he would hear reason, though he was unapt to follow it ; above all things he was not that frantic desperado, as to turn his pistol either against his servant or himself.

Wood. Well, sir, my pistol is put up-now what have you to say to me ?

Syd. I don't know if I shall say any thing to you ; certainly nothing to sooth you. · It is not because a man has pistols in his pocket, that be is formidable, or that I should Aatter him: every fellow, that has not spirit to face misfortune, may be his own assassin ; every wretch, who has lost all feelings of humanity, may commit a murder on his fellow.creature.

Wood. You are very bitter : what would you have nie do ? Syd. Return to your afflicted wife.

Wood. That I can never do ; my home is horrible, nor am I in possession of a home ; Penruddock's myrmidons are in my house ; besides, there's worse than that, my son is come to England ; Henry will be upon me; and to meet his gallant injured presence would be worse than death.

Syd. I wish you had reflected on that horror, whilst there was time to have prevented it.-If fathers, whilst their sons are bleeding in their country's battles, will hurl the fatal dice and stake their fortunes on the cast, alas for their posterity!

Wood. Why urge that dreadful truth ? You have no son, yon are no gamester.

Syd. No matter ; though I never gamed myself, my friends did, and I have lost them : who has more cause to curse his luck than I have ?

Wood. Have you now vented all your spleen, and will you leave me?

Syd. I am not sure : tell me what plan you are upon; why are you rambling on this heath?

Wood. l'll tell you that at once—Sir George Peuruddock, my chief creditor, is dead; he has bequeathed his fortune to his cousin Roderick, of that name. This man inhabits a small tenement here, close at hand; a strange sequestere creature, burying himself amongst his books, disgusted with the world, and probably a perfect misanthrope

« VorigeDoorgaan »