British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

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

heart! I believe courage must be catching! --I certainly do feel a kind of valor rising, as it were -- a kind of courage, as I may say. ----- Odds flints,

pans, and triggers! I'll challenge him directly, 110

SIR LUC. Ah, my little friend! if we had Bluaderbuss-Hall here -- I could show you a range of ancestry, in the O'Trigger line, that would furnish the New Room,1 every one of whom had killed his man!

-- For though the mansion-house and dirty 115
acres have slipt through my fingers, I thank heav'n our honor, and the family-pictures, are as fresh as ever.

ACRES. O Sir Lucius! I have had ancestors too! every man of 'era colonel or captain in the i2o militia!--Odds balls and barrels! say no more -- I'm braced for it -- ((my nerves are become catgut! my sinews wire! and my heart pinchbeck!))2 The thunder of your words has soured the milk of human

kindness in my breast! ----- Z--ds! as the man 125
in the play says, 'I could do such deeds!'3

SIR LUC. Come, come, there must be no passion at all in the case -- these things should always be done civilly.

ACRES. I must be in a passion, Sir Lucius -- 130
I must be in a rage. -- Dear Sir Lucius, let me be in a rage, if you love me. -- Come, here's pen and paper. (Sits down to write.) I would the ink were red! -- Indite, I say, indite! -- How shall I begin?
Odds bullets and blades! I'll write a good bold 135
hand, however.

SIR LUC. Pray compose yourself.

ACRES. Come -- now, shall I begin with an oath? Do, Sir Lucius, let me begin with a damme.

SIR LUC. Pho! pho! do the thing decently 140
and like a Christian. Begin now, -- 'Sir' -----

ACRES. That's too civil by half.

SIR LUC. 'To prevent the confusion that might arise ' --

ACRES [writing]. Well ----- x45
SIR LUC. 'From our both addressing the same lady' -----

ACRES. Aye -- there's the reason -- [writing] 'same lady' -- Well -----

SIR LUC. 'I shall expect the honor of your 150
company' --

ACRES. Z-----ds! I'm not asking him to dinner.

SIR LUC. Pray be easy.

ACRES. Well then [writing] -- 'honor of your

company' 155

SIR LUC. 'To settle our pretensions' --

ACRES [writing]. Well --

SIR LUC. Let me see -- aye, King's-Mead-Fields will do -- 'In King's-Mead-Fields.'

ACRES. So that's done. -- Well, I'll fold it 160
up presently; my own crest -- a hand and dagger shall be the seal.

SIR LUC. You see now, this little explanation will put a stop at once to all confusion or misunderstand

ing that might arise between you. 165

ACRES. Aye, we fight to prevent any misunderstanding.

SIR LUC. Now, I'll leave you to fix your own time. --Take my advice, and you'll decide it this evening

if you can; then let the worst come of it, 'twill 170
be off your mind to-morrow.

ACRES. Very true.

SIR LUC. So I shall see nothing more of you, unless it be by letter, till the evening. -- I would do myself

the honor to carry your message; but, to tell 175
you a secret, I believe I shall have just such another affair on my own hands. There is a gay captain here, who put a jest on me lately at the expense of my country, and I only want to fall in with the
gentleman, to call him out. 180

ACRES. By my valor, I should like to see you fight first! Odds life! I should like to see you kill him, if it was only to get a little lesson.

SIR LUC. I shall be very proud of instructing you.

-- Well for the present-- but remember now, 185
when you meet your antagonist, do everything in a mild and agreeable manner. -- Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword. Exeunt severally.


ACT IV

SCENE I

ACRES'S lodgings.

ACRES and DAVID.

DAV. Then, by the Mass, sir! I would do no such thing -- ne'er a Sir Lucius O'Trigger in the kingdom should make me fight, when I wa'n't so minded. Oons! what will the old lady say when

she hears o't! 5

ACRES. Ah! David, if you had heard Sir Lucius! Odds sparks and flames! he would have roused your valor.

DAV. Not he, indeed. I hates such bloodthirsty

cormorants. Look'ee, master, if you'd wanted 10
a bout at boxing, quarter-staff, or short-staff, I should never be the man to bid you cry off: but for your curst sharps and snaps,; I never knew any good come of 'era.

ACRES. But my honor, David, my honor! I 15
must be very careful of my honor.

DAV. Aye, by the Mass! and I would be very

____________________
116] O1 I thank God.
1
The new Assembly rooms, opened in 1771.
2
A cheap metal alloy, named after its inventor, Pinchbeck.
3
Sharp duelling swords and pistols.
3
Acres faintly recalls Lear's 'I will do such things' (II iv.).

-824-

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