THE MISTAKES OF A NIGHT*
BY OLIVER GOLDSMITH
A chamber in an old-fashioned house.
Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and MR. HARDCASTLE.
MRS. HARD. I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country, but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbor, Mrs. Grigsby, 5 go to take a month's polishing every winter.
HARD. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home. In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but 10 now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come down, not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket.1
MRS. HARD. Ay, your times were fine times indeed; you have been telling us of them for many 15 a long year. Here we live in an old rumbling2 mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master: and all our 20 entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene3 and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old- fashioned trumpery.
HARD. And I love it. I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, 25 old wine; and, I believe, Dorothy, (taking her hand) you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.
MRS. HARD. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're forever at your Dorothy's and your old wife's. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan,4 I promise you. 30 I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make money of that.
HARD. Let me see; twenty added to twenty -- makes just fifty and seven. 35
MRS. HARD. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle: I was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet.
HARD. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. 40 Ay, you have taught him finely!
MRS. Hard. No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a year. 45
HARD. Learning, quotha! A mere composition of tricks and mischief!
MRS. HARD. Humor, my dear; nothing but humor. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humor. 50
HARD. I'd sooner allow him a horse-pond! If burning the footmen's shoes, frighting the maids, and worrying the kittens, be humor, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popped 55 my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.
MRS. HARD. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin 60 may do for him?
HARD. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle! No, no, the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.
MRS. HARD. Well, we must not snub the poor 65 boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Anybody that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
HARD. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms. 70
MRS. HARD. He coughs sometimes.
HARD. Yes, when his liquor goes the wrong way.
MRS. HARD. I'm actually afraid of his lungs.
HARD. And truly, so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking-trumpet -- (TONY hal-75looing behind the scenes) -- O, there he goes -- a very consumptive figure, truly!____________________