By DAVID GARRICK
Enter GAYLESSand SHARP.
SHARP. How, sir! shall you be married tomorrow? Eh, I'm afraid you joke with your poor humble servant.
GAY. I tell thee, Sharp, last night Melissa consented, and fixed tomorrow for the happy day. 5
SHARP. 'Twas well she did, sir, or it might have been a dreadful one for us in our present condition: all your money spent; your movables sold; your honor almost ruined, and your humble servant almost starved; we could not possibly have stood 10 it two days longer. But if this young lady will marry you and relieve us, o' my conscience, I'll turn friend to the sex, rail no more at matrimony, but curse the whores, and think of a wife myself.
GAY. And yet, Sharp, when I think how I 15 have imposed upon her, I am almost resolved to throw myself at her feet, tell her the real situation of my affairs, ask her pardon, and implore her pity.
SHARP. After marriage, with all my heart, sir; but don't let your conscience and honor so far get 20 the better of your poverty and good sense, as to rely on so great uncertainties as a fine lady's mercy and good-nature.
GAY. I know her generous temper, and am almost persuaded to rely upon it: what, because I am 25 poor, shall I abandon my honor?
SHARP. Yes, you must, sir, or abandon me: so pray, discharge one of us; for eat I must, and speedily too: and you know very well that that honor of yours will neither introduce you to a great man's 30 table, nor get me credit for a single beefsteak.
GAY. What can I do?
SHARP. Nothing while honor sticks in your throat: do gulp, master, and down with it.
GAY. Prithee leave me to my thoughts. 35
SHARP. Leave you! No, not in such bad company, I'll assure you! why, you must certainly be a very great philosopher, sir, to moralize and declaim so charmingly, as you do, about honor and conscience, when your doors are beset with bailiffs, 40 and not one single guinea in your pocket to bribe the villains.
GAY. Don't be witty, and give your advice, sirrah!
SHARP. Do you be wise, and take it, sir. 45 But to be serious, you certainly have spent your fortune, and outlived your credit, as your pockets and my belly can testify: your father has disowned you; all your friends forsook you, except myself, who am starving with you. Now, sir, if you 50 marry this young lady, who as yet, thank heaven, knows nothing of your misfortunes, and by that means procure a better fortune than that you squandered away, make a good husband, and turn economist, you still may be happy, may still be Sir 55 William's heir, and the lady too no loser by the bargain; there's reason and argument, sir.
GAY. 'Twas with that prospect I first made love to her; and though my fortune has been ill spent, I have, at least, purchased discretion with it. 60
SHARP. Pray then convince me of that, sir, and make no more objections to the marriage. You see I am reduced to my waistcoat already; and when necessity has undressed me from top to toe, she must begin with you; and then we shall be forced to 65 keep house1 and die by inches. Look you, sir, if you won't resolve to take my advice, while you have one coat to your back, I must e'en take to my heels while I have strength to run, and something to cover me: so, sir, wishing you much comfort and consola 70 tion with your bare conscience, I am your most obedient and half-starved friend and servant.
GAY. Hold, Sharp, you won't leave me.
SHARP. I must eat, sir; by my honor and appetite I must! 75
GAY. Well then, I am resolved to favor the cheat, and as I shall quite change my former course of life, happy may be the consequences; at least of this I am sure --
SHARP. That you can't be worse than you are 80 at present. (A knocking without.)
GAY. Who's there?
SHARP. Some of your former good friends, who favored you with money at fifty per cent, and helped you to spend it; and are now become 85 daily mementoes to you of the folly of trusting rogues, following whores, and laughing at my advice.
GAY. Cease your impertinence! to the door! If____________________