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Miss Rich. Our officers do indeed deserve every favour. The gentlemen are in the marine service, I presume, sir?
Hon. Why, madam, they do- occasionally serve in the fleet, madam: a dangerous service!
Miss Rich. I'm told so. And I own it has often surprised me, that while we had so many men of bravery there, we have had so few of wit at home to praise it.
Hon. I grant, madam, that our poets have not written as our soldiers have fought; but they have done all they could, and Hawke or Amherst could do no more.
Miss Rich. I'm quite displeased when I see a fine subject spoiled by a dull writer.
Hon. We should not be so severe against dull writers, madam. It is ten to one that the dullest writer exceeds the most rigid French critic who presumes to despise him.
Fol. Damn the French, the parle vous, and all that belongs to them.
Miss Rich. Sir!
Hon. Ha, ha, ha! honest Mr. Flanigan. A true Eng. lish officer, madam; he's not contented with beating the French, but he will scold them too.
Miss Rich. Yet, Mr. Honeywood, this does not convince me but that severity in criticism is necessary. It was our first adopting the severity of French taste, that has brought thein in turn to taste us.
Bail. Taste us! by the Lord, madam, they devour us. Give monseers but a taste, and I'll be damned but they come in for a bellyfull.
Miss Rich. Very extraordinary this!
Fol. But very true. What makes the bread rising? the parle vous that devour us. What makes the mutton fivepence a pound? the parle vous that eat it up. What makes the beer three-pence-halfpenny a pot?
Hon. Ah! the vulgar rogues; all will be out. [Aside.] Right, gentlemen, very right upon my word, and quite to the purpose. They draw a parallel, madam, between the mental taste and that of our senses. We are injured as much by the French severity in the one, as by French rapacity in the other. That's their meaning.
Miss Rich. Though I don't see the force of the parallel, yet I'll own, that we should sometimes pardon books as we do our friends, that have now and then agreeable .absurdities to recommend them.
Bail. That's all my eye. The king only can pardon, as the law says: for, set in case
Hon. I'm quite of your opinion, sir; I see the whole drift of your argument. Yes, certainly, our presuming to pardon any work, is arrogating a power that belongs to another. If all have power to condemn, what writer can be free?
Bail. By his habus corpus. His habus corpus can set him free at any time: for, set in case
Hon. Im obliged to you, sir, for the hint. If, madam, as my friend observes, our laws are so careful of a gentleman's person, sure we ought to be equally careful of his dearer part, his fame.
Fol. Ay, but if so be a man's nabbed you know-
Hon. Mr. Flanigan, if you spoke for ever, you could not improve the last observaton. For my part, I think it conclusive.
Bail. As for the matter of that, mayhap
Hon. Nay, sir, give me leave in this instance to be positive. For where is the necessity of censuring works without genius, which must shortly sink of themselves? what is it, but aiming our unnecessary blow against a victim already under the hands of justice?
Bail. Justice! O, by the elevens, if you talk about justice, I think I am at home there: for, in a course of law
Hon. My dear Mr. Twitch, I discern what you'd be at perfectly; and I believe the lady must be sensible of the art with which it is introduced. I suppose you perceive the meaning, madam, of his course of law?
Miss Rich. I protest, sir, I do not. I perceive only that you answer one gentleman before he has finished, and the other before he has well begun.
Bail. Madam, you are a gentlewoman, and I will make the matter out. This here question is about severity, and justice, and pardon, and the like of they. Now to explain the thing Hon. O curse your explanations.
[Aside. Enter SERVANT. Ser. Mr. Leontine, sir, below, desires to speak with you upon earnest business.
Hon. That's lucky. [Aside.] Dear madam, you'll excuse me and my good friends here, for a few minutes. There are books, madam, to amuse you. Come, gentlemen, you know I make no ceremony with such friends. After you, sir. Excuse me. Well, if I must. But I know your natural politeness.
Bail. Before and behind you know.
(Exeunt Honeywood, Bailiff, and Follower. Miss Rich. What can all this mean, Garnet?
Gar. Mean, madam! why, what should it mean, but what Mr. Lofty sent you here to see! These people he calls officers, are officers sure enough: sheriff's officers; bailiffs, madam.
Miss Rich. Ay, it is certainly so. Well, though his
perplexities are far from giving me pleasure, yet I own there's something very ridiculous in them, and a just punishment for his dissimulation.
Gar. And so they are. But I wonder, madam, that the lawyer you just employed to pay his debts, and set him free, has not done it by this time. He ought, at least, to have been here before now. But lawyers are always more ready to get a man into troubles than out of them.
Enter Sir WILLIAM. Sir Wil. For Miss Richland to undertake setting him free, I own was quite unexpected. It has totally unhing. ed my schemes to reclaim him. Yet it gives me pleasure to find that among a number of worthless friendships, he has made one acquisition of real value; for there must be some softer passion on her side that prompts this generosity.-- Ha! here before me: I'll endeavour to sound her affections. Madam, as I am the person that have had some demands upon the gentleman of this house, I hope you'll excuse me, if before I enlarged him, I wanted to see yourself.
Miss Rich. The precaution was very unnecessary, sir. I suppose your wants were only such as my agent had power to satisfy.
Sir Wil. Partly, madam; but I was also willing you should be fully apprized of the character of the gentleman you intended to serve.
Miss Rich. It must come, sir, with a very ill grace from you. To censure it, after what you have done, would look like malice; and to speak favourably of a character you have oppressed, would be impeaching your own.
And sure his tenderness, his humanity, his universal friendship, may atone for many faults.
Sir Wil. That friendship, madam, which is exerted in too wide a sphere, becomes totally useless. Our bounty, like a drop of water, disappears when diffused too widely. They who pretend most to this universal benevolence, are either deceivers or dupes. Men who desire to cover their private ill-nature, by a pretended regard for all; or, men who reasoning themselves into false feelings, are more earnest in pursuit of splendid than of useful virtues,
Miss Rich. I am surprised, sir, to hear ore, who has probably been a gainer by the folly of others, so severe in his censure of it.
Sir Wil. Whatever I may have gained by folly, madam, you see I am willing to prevent your losing by it.
Miss Rich. Your cares for me, sir, are unnecessary. I always suspect those services which are denied where they are wanted, and offered perhaps in hopes of a refusal. No, sir, my directions have been given, and I insist upon their being complied with.
Sir Wil. Thou amiable woman! I can no longer contain the expressions of my gratitude: my pleasure. You see before you one who has been equally careful of his interest; one who has for some time been a concealed spectator of his follies, and only punished, in hopes to reclaim him-his uncle! Miss Rich. Sir William Honeywood! You amaze
How shall I conceal my confusion? I fear, sir, you'll think I have been too forward in my services. I confess I
Sir Wil. Lon't make any apologies, madam. I only find myself unable to repay the obligation. And yet, I have been trying my interest of late to serve you.