British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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Enter MARIA.

-- Well, Maria, have you given orders for the 70
entertainment? I would have it in some measure worthy the guests. Let there be plenty, and of the best, that the courtiers may at least commend our hospitality.

MA. Sir, I have endeavored not to wrong your 75
well-known generosity by an ill-timed parsimony.

THOR. Nay, 'twas a needless caution; I have no cause to doubt your prudence.

MA. Sir, I find myself unfit for conversation; I

should but increase the number of the company 80
without adding to their satisfaction.

THOR. Nay, my child, this melancholy must not be indulged.

MA. Company will but increase it. I wish you

would dispense with1 my absence; solitude best 85
suits my present temper.

THOR. You are not insensible that it is chiefly on your account these noble lords do me the honor so frequently to grace my board; should you be

absent, the disappointment may make them 90
repent their condescension and think their labor lost.

MA. He that shall think his time or honor lost in visiting you can set no real value on your daughter's company, whose only merit is that she is yours. The

man of quality who chooses to converse with a 95
gentleman and merchant of your worth and character may confer honor by so doing, but he loses none.

THOR. Come, come, Maria; I need not tell you that a young gentleman may prefer your con

versation to mine, yet intend me no disrespect 100
at all; for, though he may lose no honor in my company, 'tis very natural for him to expect more pleasure in yours. I remember the time when the company of the greatest and wisest man in the kingdom
would have been insipid and tiresome to me if it 105
had deprived me of an opportunity of enjoying your mother's.

MA. Yours no doubt was as agreeable to her, for generous minds know no pleasure in society but

where 'tis mutual, 110

THOR. Thou know'st I have no heir, no child but thee; the fruits of many years' successful industry must all be thine. Now, it would give me pleasure great as my love to see on whom you would bestow

it. I am daily solicited by men of the greatest 115
rank and merit for leave to address you, but I have hitherto declined it, in hopes that by observation I should learn which way your inclination tends; for, as I know love to be essential to happiness in the
marriage state, I had rather my approbation 120
should confirm your choice than direct it.

MA. What can I say? How shall I answer as I ought this tenderness, so uncommon even in the best of parents? But you are without example; yet had

you been less indulgent, I had been most 125
wretched. That I look on the crowd of courtiers that visit here with equal esteem but equal indifference, you have observed, and I must needs confess; yet had you asserted your authority, and insisted on
a parent's right to be obeyed, I had submitted, 130
and to my duty sacrificed my peace.

THOR. From your perfect obedience in every other instance I feared as much, and therefore would leave you without a bias in an affair wherein your happi

ness is so immediately concerned. 135

MA. Whether from a want of that just ambition that would become your daughter, or from some other cause, I know not, but I find high birth and titles don't recommend the man who owns them to

my affections, 140

THOR. I would not that they should, unless his merit recommends him more. A noble birth and fortune, though they make not a bad man good, yet they are a real advantage to a worthy one, and

place his virtues in the fairest light. 145

MA. I cannot answer for my inclinations, but they shall ever be submitted to your wisdom and authority; and, as you will not compel me to marry where I cannot love, love shall never make me act contrary

to my duty. Sir, have I your permission to 150
retire?

THOR. I'll see you to your chamber. Exeunt.


SCENE II

A room in MILLWOOD'S house.

MILLWOOD at her toilet. LUCY, waiting.

MILL. How do I look today, Lucy?

LUCY. Oh, killingly, madam! A little more red, and you'll be irresistible! But why this more than ordinary care of your dress and complexion? What

new conquest are you aiming at? 5

MILL. A conquest would be new indeed!

LUCY. Not to you, who make 'em every day, -- but to me -- well! 'tis what I'm never to expect, unfortunate as I am. But your wit and beauty --

MILL. First made me a wretch, and still con­ 10
tinue me so. Men, however generous or sincere to one another, are all selfish hypocrites in their affairs with us. We are no otherwise esteemed or regarded by them but as we contribute to their satisfaction.

LUCY. You are certainly, madam, on the 15
wrong side in this argument. Is not the expense all theirs? And I am sure it is our own fault if we ha'n't our share of the pleasure.

MILL. We are but slaves to men.

____________________
73] O1O2 courtiers, though they should deny us citizens politeness, may.
79] O1 conversation at present, I.
149] O1O2 love, so love.
s.d.] O1 om. at her toilet.
17] O1O2 hav'n't.
1
Put up with.

-606-

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