A COMEDY BY SIR RICHARD STEELE
Illud genus narrationis quod in personis positum est, debet habere sermonis festivitatem, animorum dissimilitudinem, gravitatem, lenitatem, spem, metum, suspicionem, desiderium, dissimulationem, misericordiam, rerum varietates, fortunœ commutationem, insperatum incommodum, subitam lœtitiam, jucundum exitum rerum. Cic. Rhetor ad Herenn. Lib. 1.2
Scene, SIR JOHN BEVIL'S house.
Enter SIR JOHN BEVILand HUMPHREY.
SIR J. BEV. Have you ordered that I should not be interrupted while I am dressing?
HUMPH. Yes, sir; I believed you had something of moment to say to me.
SIR J. BEV. Let me see, Humphrey; I think it 5 is now full forty years since I first took thee to be about myself.
HUMPH. I thank you, sir; it has been an easy forty years, and I have passed 'em without much sickness, care, or labor, 10
SIR J. BEV. Thou hast a brave constitution; you are a year or two older than I am, sirrah.
HUMPH. You have ever been of that mind, sir.
SIR J. BEV. You knave, you know it; I took thee for thy gravity and sobriety, in my wild 15 years.
HUMPH. Ah, sir! our manners were formed from our different fortunes, not our different age. Wealth gave a loose to your youth, and poverty put a restraint upon mine. 20
SIR J. BEV. Well, Humphrey, you know I have been a kind master to you; I have used you, for the ingenuous nature I observed in you from the beginning, more like an humble friend than a servant.
HUMPH. I humbly beg you'll be so tender of 25 me as to explain your commands, sir, without any farther preparation.
SIR J. BEV. I'll tell thee, then. In the first place, this wedding of my son's, in all probability -- (shut the door!) -- will never be at all. 30
HUMPH. How, sir! not be at all? For what reason is it carried on in appearance?
SIR J. BEV. Honest Humphrey, have patience, and I'll tell thee all in order. I have myself, in some part of my life, lived, indeed, with freedom, but, 35
I hope, without reproach. Now, I thought liberty would be as little injurious to my son; therefore, as soon as he grew towards man, I indulged him in living after his own manner: I knew not how, otherwise, to judge of his inclination; for what can be con 40 cluded from a behavior under restraint and fear? But what charms me above all expression is that my son has never, in the least action, the most distant hint or word, valued himself upon that great estate of his mother's, which, according to our marriage 45 settlement, he has had ever since he came to age.
HUMPH. No, sir; on the contrary, he seems afraid of appearing to enjoy it before you or any belonging to you. He is as dependent and resigned to your will as if he had not a farthing but what must 50 come from your immediate bounty. You have ever acted like a good and generous father, and he like an obedient and grateful son.
SIR J. BEV. Nay, his carriage is so easy to all with whom he converses, that he is never assuming, 55 never prefers himself to others, nor ever is guilty of that rough sincerity which a man is not called to and certainly disobliges most of his acquaintance. To be short, Humphrey, his reputation was so fair in the world, that old Sealand, the great India mer 60 chant, has offered his only daughter and sole heiress to that vast estate of his, as a wife for him. You may be sure I made no difficulties; the match was agreed on, and this very day named for the wedding.
HUMPH. What hinders the proceeding? 65
SIR J. BEV. Don't interrupt me. You know I was last Thursday at the masquerade; my son, you may remember, soon found us out. He knew his grandfather's habit, which I then wore; and though it was the mode in the last age, yet the maskers, you 70 know, followed us as if we had been the most monstrous figures in that whole assembly.
HUMPH. I remember, indeed, a young man of quality, in the habit of a down,3 that was particularly troublesome. 75
SIR J. BEV. Right; he was too much what he seemed to be. You remember how impertinently he followed and teased us, and would know who we were.____________________