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blaze in the front, bewilder the coachman, and dazzle and blind the passengers; Wisdom, Prudence, and Virtue, are overset and maimed, or murdered; and, at last, Repentance, like the footman's flambeau lagging behind, lights us to dangers when they are past all remedy.
Sulky. Your name is struck off the firm. I was the adviser.
Harry. You were very kind, Mr. Sulky.
Sulky. You'll find so. And what brought you here, sir? (To MILFORD).
Milford. A chaise and four.
Sulky. It might have carried you to a safer place. When do you mean to pay your debts?
Milford. When my father's executor prevails on the Widow Warren to do me justice.
Sulky. And which way am I to prevail? Milford. And which way am I to pay my debts? Sulky. You might have more modesty than insolently to come and brave one of your principal creditors, after having ruined his son by your evil counsel.
Harry. Ha, ha, ha! Don't believe a word on't, my good grumbler; I ruined myself: I wanted no counsellor.
Milford. My father died immensely rich; I ought
not to starve.
Sulky. You have had five thousand pounds, and are five more in debt.
Milford. Yes, thanks to those who trust boys with thousands.
Sulky. You would do the same now that you think yourself a man.
Milford. (Firmly.) Indeed I would not.
Sulky. Had you been watching the widow at home, instead of galloping after a knot of gamblers and pickpockets, you might perhaps have done yourself more service.
Milford. Which way, sir?
Sulky. The will of your late father is found.
Sulky. I have received a letter, from which I learn it was at last discovered, carefully locked up in a private drawer; and that it is now a full month since a gentleman of Montpelier, coming to England, was entrusted with it. But no such gentleman has yet appeared.
Milford. If it should have got into the hands of the widow ?
Sulky. Which I suspect it has. You are a couple of pretty gentlemen. But beware! Misfortune is at your heels. Mr. Dornton vows vengeance on you both, and justly. He has not gone to bed; and, if you have confidence enough to look him in the face, I would have you stay where you are.
Milford. I neither wish to insult, nor be insulted.
[Exit. Sulky. Do you know, sir, your father turned the poor fellow into the street, who compassionately opened the door for you?
Sulky. Very well, sir. Your fame is increasing daily.
Harry. I am glad to hear it.
Sulky. Humph! Then perhaps you have paragraphed yourself?
Harry. Paragraphed? What? Where?
Sulky. In the St. James's Evening.
Sulky. Stating the exact amount.
Sulky. Yours. You march through every avenue to fame, dirty or clean.
Harry. Well said. Be witty when you can; sarcastic you must be, in spite of your teeth. But I like you the better. You are honest. You are my cruet of Cayenne, and a sprinkling of you is excellent.
Sulky. Well, sir, when you know the state of your own affairs, and to what you have reduced the house, you will perhaps be less ready to grin.
Harry. Reduced the house! Ha, ha, ha!
Enter Mr. DORNTON, with a newspaper in his hand.
Dornton. So, sir!
Harry. (Bowing.) I am happy to see you, sir. Dornton. You are there, after having broken into my house at midnight; and you are here (pointing to the paper) after having ruined me and my house by your unprincipled prodigality. Are you not a scoundrel? Harry. No, sir; I am only a fool.
Sulky. Good night to you, gentlemen. (Going.) Dornton. Stay where you are, Mr. Sulky. I beg you to stay where you are, and be a witness to my solemn renunciation of him and his vices.
Sulky. I have witnessed it a thousand times.
Dornton. But this is the last. Are you not a scoundrel, I say? (To HARRY.)
Harry. I am your son.
Dornton. (Calling off) Mr. Smith! Bring in those deeds.
Enter Mr. SMITH, with papers.
You will not deny that you are an incorrigible squanderer ?
Harry. I will deny nothing.
Dornton. A nuisance, a wart, a blot, a stain upon the face of nature?
Harry. A stain that will wash out, sir.
Dornton. A redundancy; a negation; a besotted, sophisticated incumbrance; a jumble of fatuity; your head, your heart, your words, your actions, all a jargon; incoherent and unintelligible to yourself, absurd and offensive to others?
Harry. I am whatever you please, sir.
Dornton. Bills never examined, everything bought on credit, the price of nothing asked. Conscious you
were weak enough to wish for baubles you did not want, and pant for pleasures you could not enjoy, you had not the effrontery to assume the circumspect caution of common sense; and, to your other destructive follies, you must add the detestable vice of gaming.
Harry. These things, sir, are much easier done than defended.
Dornton. But here-give me that parchment! (To Mr. SMITH.) The partners have all been summoned. Look, sir! Your name has been formally erased.
Harry. The partners are very kind.
Dornton. The suspicions already incurred by the known profligacy of a principal in the firm, the immense sums you have drawn, this paragraph, the run on the house it will occasion, the consternation of the whole city
Harry. All very terrible, and some of it very true. (Half aside.)
Dornton. (Passionately.) If I should happily outlive the storm you have raised, it shall not be to support a prodigal, or to reward a gambler. [Exit Mr. SMITH.] You are disinherited. Read.
Harry. Your word is as good as the Bank, sir.
Dornton. I'll no longer act the doting father, fascinated by your arts.
Harry. I never had any art, sir, except the one you taught me.
Dornton. I taught you! What! Scoundrel! What! Harry. That of loving you, sir.
Dornton. Loving me!
Harry. Most sincerely.
Dornton. (Forgetting his passion.) Why, can you say, Harry-rascal! I mean, that you love me?
Harry. I should be a rascal indeed if I did not, sir. Dornton. Harry! Harry! (Struggling with his feelings.) No; confound me if I do! Sir, you are a
Harry. I know I am.
Dornton. (Going.) And I'll never speak to you more!
Harry. Bid me good night, sir. Mr. Sulky here will bid me good night, and you are my father! Good night, Mr. Sulky. Sulky. Good night. Harry. Come, sir
Dornton. (Struggling with passion.) I wont. If I do
Harry. Reproach me with my follies, strike out my name; disinherit me; I deserve it all, and more; but say, "Good night, Harry!"
Dornton. I wont! I wont! I wont!
Harry. Poverty is a trifle; we can whistle it off; but enmity
Dornton. I will not.
Harry. Sleep in enmity? And who can say how soundly? Come! good night.
Dornton. I wont! I wont. (Runs off.)
Harry. Say you so! Why then, my noble-hearted dad, I am indeed a scoundrel.
Re-enter Mr. DORNTON.
Dornton. Good night!
J. L. PEACOCK.
[Mr. J. L. Peacock was born in 1786 and died in February last (1866). He is the author of some novels, very popular in their day, which were notable from their sarcastic dialogue and the ludicrous characters sketched therein, rather than from any elaborate development of plot and action. One of his tales, "Maid Marion" (1822), in which is embedded some charming lyrics, was long a standard favourite. His other works are "Headlong Hall" (1816), "Nightmare Abbey" (1818), "Crotchet Castle" (1831), Medlincourt," and, more recently, Gryll Grange." Most of his tales were reprinted by Mr. Bentley, in one volume, in 1837. Mr. Peacock was the friend and collaborator of Bentham, Mill, and Grote, and executor of Shelley.]
A DAMSEL came, in midnight rain,