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HONEYWOOD. It's a melancholy consideration indeed, that our chief comforts often produce our greatest anxieties, and that an increase of our possessions is but an inlet to new disquietudes.
CROAKER. Ah, my dear friend, these were the very words of poor
Dick Doleful to me not a week before he made away with himself. Indeed, Mr. Honeywood, I never see you but you put me in mind of
poorDick. Ah, there was merit neglected for you! and so true a friend; we lov'd each other for thirty years, and yet he never asked me to lend him a single farthing.
HONEYWOOD. Pray what could induce him to commit so rash an action at last?
CROAKER. I don't know, some people were malicious enough to say it was keeping company with me; because we used to meet now and then and open our hearts to each other. To be sure I loved to hear him talk, and he loved to hear me talk; poor dear Dick. He us’d to say that Croaker rhim'd to joker: and so we us’d to laugh-Poor Dick.
[Going to cry.
His fate affects me.
CROAKER. Ay, he grew sick of this miserable life, where we do nothing but eat and grow hungry, dress and undress, get up and lie down; while reason, that should watch like a nurse by our side, falls as fast asleep as we do.
HONEYWOOD. To say truth, if we compare that part of life which is to come, by that which we have past, the prospect is hideous.
Life at the greatest and best is but a froward child, that must be humour'd and coax'd a little till it falls asleep, and then all the care is over.
HONEYWOOD. Very true, Sir, nothing can exceed the vanity of our existence, but the folly of our pursuits. We wept when we came into the world, and every day tells us why.
CROAKER. Ah, my dear friend, it is a perfect satisfaction to be miserable with you. My son Leontine shan't lose the benefit of such fine conversation. I'll just step home for him. I am willing to shew him so much seriousness in one scarce older than himself-And what if I bring my last letter to the Gazetteer on the increase and progress of earthquakes? It will
amuse us, I promise you. I there prove how the late earthquake is coming round to pay us another visit from London to Lisbon, from Lisbon to the Canary Islands, from the Canary Islands to Palmyra, from Palmyra to Constantinople, and so from Constantinople back to London again.
HONEYWOOD. Poor Croaker! his situation deserves the utmost pity. I shall scarce recover my spirits these three days. Sure to live upon such terms is worse than death itself. And yet, when I consider my own situation, a broken fortune, an hopeless passion, friends in distress; the wish but not the power to serve them
-(pausing and sighing.)
BUTLER. More company below, Sir: Mrs. Croaker and Miss Richland; shall I shew them up ? but they're shewing up themselves. .
Enter Mrs CROAKER and Miss RicHLAND.
Miss RICHLAND. You're always in such spirits.
Mrs. CROA KER. We have just come, my dear Honeywood, from, the auction. There was the old deaf dowager, as usual, bidding like a fury against herself. And then
so curious in antiques ! herself the most genuine piece of antiquity in the whole collection.
HONEYWOOD. Excuse me, ladies, if some uneasiness from friendship makes me unfit to share in this good humour : I know you'll pardon me.
Mrs. CROAKER. I vow he seems as melancholy as if he had taken a dose of my husband this morning. Well, if Richland here can pardon you, I must.
Miss RICHLAND. You would seem toinsinuate, madam, that I have particular reasons for being disposed to refuse it.
Mrs. CROAKER, Whatever I insinuate, my dear, don't be so ready to wish an explanation.
Miss RICHLAND. I own I should be sorry, Mr. Honeywood's long friendship and mine should be misunderstood.
HONEYWOOD. There's no answering for others, madam. But I hope you'll never find me presuming to offer more than the most delicate friendship may readily allow.
Miss RICHLAND. And I shall be prouder of such a tribute from you than the most passionate professions from others.
HONEYWOOD. My own sentiments, madam: friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an abject intereouse between tyrants and slaves.
Miss RICHLAND. And, without a compliment, I know none more disinterested, or more capable of friendship than Mr. Honeywood.
Mrs. CROAKER. And, indeed, I know nobody that has more friends, at least among the ladies. Miss Fruzz, Miss Odbody, and Miss Winterbottom, praise him in all companies. As for Miss Biddy Bundle, she's his professed admirer.
Indeed! an admirer! I did not know, Sir, you were such a favourite there. But is she seriously so handsome? Is she the mighty thing talked of ?
HONEYWOOD. The town, madam, seldom begins to praise a lady's beauty, till she's beginning to lose it.