« VorigeDoorgaan »
Mrs. CROAKER. * But she's resolved never to lose it, it seems. For, as her natural face decays, her skill improves in making the artificial one. Well, nothing diverts me more than one of those fine, old, dressy things, who thinks to conceal her age, by every where exposing her person ; sticking herself up in the front of a ' side-box; trailing through a miņuet at Almack's; and then, in the public gardens, looking for all the world like one of the painted ruins of the place.
HONEYWOOD. Every age has its admirers, ladies. While you, perhaps, are trading among the warmer climates of youth; there ought to be some to carry on an useful commerce in the frozen latitudes beyond fifty.
But, then, the mortifications they must suffer, before they can be fitted out for traffic. I have seen one of them fret an whole morning at her hairdresser, when all the fault was her face.
HONEYWOOD. And yet, I'll engage, has carried that face at last to a very good market. This good-natur’d town, madam, has husbands, like spectacles, to fit every age, from fifteen to fourscore.
Mrs. CROAKER. Well, you're a dear good-natur’d creature. But you know you're engaged with us this morning upon a strolling party. I want to shew Olivia the town, and the things; I believe I shall have business for you for the whole day.
HONEYWOOD. I am sorry, madam, I have an appointment with Mr. Croaker, which it is impossible to put off.
Mrs. CROAKER. What! with my husband! then I'm resolv'd to take no refusal. Nay, I protest you must. You know I never laugh so much as with you.
HONEYWOOD. Why, if I must, I must. I'll swear you have put me into such spirits. Well, do you find jest, and I'll find laugh, I promise you. We'll wait for the chariot in the next room.
Enter LEONTINE and OLIVIA.
LEONTINE. There they go, thoughtless and happy. My dearest Olivia, what would I give to see you capable of sharing in their amusements, and as cheerful as they are ?
OLIVIA. How, my Leontine, how can I be cheerful, when I have so many terrors to oppress me? The fear of being detected by this family, and the apprehensions of a censuring world, when I must be detected
The world! my love, what can it say? At worst it can only say that, being compelled by a mercenary guardian to embrace a life you disliked, you formed a resolution of flying with the man of your choice; that you confided in his honour, and took refuge in my father's house; the only one where your's could remain without censure.
OLIVIA. But consider, Leontine, your disobedience and my indiscretion : your being sent to France to bring home a sister; and, instead of a sister, bringing home
One dearer than a thousand sisters. One that I am convinced will be equally dear to the rest of the family, when she comes to be known.
LEONTINE. Impossible, 'till we ourselves think proper to make the discovery. My sister, you know, has been with her aunt, at Lyons, since she was a child, and you find every creature in the family takes you for her.
OLIVIA. But mayn't she write, mayn't her aunt write?
LEONTINE. Her aunt scarce ever writes, and all my sister's letters are directed to me.
OLIVIA. But won't your refusing Miss Richland, for whom you know the old gentleman intends you, create a suspicion ?
LEONTINE. There, there's my master-stroke. I have resolved not to refuse her; nay, an hour hence I have consented to
with my father, to make her an offer of my heart and fortune.
OLIVIA. Your heart and fortune!
Don't be alarm’d, my dearest. Can Olivia think so meanly of my honour, or my love, as to suppose
I could ever hope for happiness from any but her ? No, my Olivia, neither the force, nor permit me to add, the delicacy of my passion, leave any room to suspect me. I only offer Miss Richland an heart, I am convinc'd she will refuse; as I am confident, that, without knowing it, her affections are fixed upon Mr. Honeywood.
OLIVIA. Mr. Honeywood! You'll excuse my apprehensions; but when your merits come to be put in the balance.
LEONTINE. You view them with too much partiality. How. ever, by making this offer, I shew a seeming compliance with my father's command ; and perhaps, upon her refusal, I may have his consent to chuse for myself.
OLIVIA. Well, I submit. And yet, my Leontine, I own, I shall
envy her, even your pretended addresses. I consider every look, every expression of your esteem, as due only to me. This is folly perhaps : I allow it: but it is natural to suppose, that merit which has made an impression on one's own heart, may be powerful over that of another.