Page images


Bev. The hand is Stukely's.

[Opens it and reads it to himself. Mrs. Bev. And brings good news at least I'll hope

What says he, love? Bev. Why this too much for patience. Yet he directs me to conceal it from you.

[Reads. Let your huste to see me be the only proof of your

esteem for me. I have determin'd, since we parted, to bid adieu to England; chusing rather to forsake my country, than to owe my freedom in it to the means we talk'd of. Keep this a secret at home, and hasten to the ruin'd

R. STUKELY. Ruin'd by friendship! I must relieve or follow him.

Mrs. Bev. Follow him, did you say? then I am lost, indeed!

Bco. O this infernal vice! how has it sunk me! a vice, whose highest joy was poor to my domestic happiness. Yet how have I pursu'd it! turn'd all my comforts to bitterest pangs, and all thy smiles to tears! Damn'd, damn'd infatuation !

Mrs. Bev. Be cool, my life! what are the means the letter talks of? have you have I those means? tell me, and ease me. I have no life while you are wretched.

Bev. No, no; it must not be. 'Tis I alone have sinn'd; 'tis I alone must suffer. You shall reserve those means to keep my child and his wrong'd mother from want and wretchedness.

Mrs. Bev. What means?

Bev. I came to rob you of them-but cannot dare not-Those jewels are your sole support, I should be more than monster to request them.

Mrs. Bev. My jewels trifles! not worth the speaking of, if weigh'd against a husband's peace; but let them purchase that, and the world's wealth is of less value.

Bev. Amazing goodness! how little do I seem before such virtues !

Mrs. Bev. No more, my love. I kept them till occasion call'd to use them; now is the occasion, and I'll resign them cheerfully.

Ber. Why we'll be rich in love, then. But this

excess of kindness melts me.

Yet for a friend one • would do much-He has denied me nothing.' Mrs. Beo. Come to my closet

But let him manage wisely. We have no more to give him.

Bev. Where learnt my love this excellence?--'Tis • Heaven's own teaching: that Heaven, which to a

beauteous form has given a mind more lovely. I am unworthy of you, but will deserve you better.

Henceforth my follies and neglects shall cease,
And all to come be penitence and peace;
Vice shall no more attract me with her charms,
Nor pleasure reach me,

but in these dear arms.



SCENE I. Stukely's Lodgings.

Stu. So runs the world, Bates. Fools are the

prey knaves. The laws that fear and policy have fram'd, man still disclaims: he knows but two; and those are force and cunning. The nobler law is force, but then there's danger in't; while cunning, like a skilful miner, works safely and unseen.

Bates. And therefore wisely. Force must have nerves and sinews; cunning wants neither. The dwarf that has it shall trip the giant's heels up. Stu. And bind him to the ground. But now to busi

The jewels are dispos'd of; and Beverley again worth money. He waits to count his gold out, and then comes hither. If my design succeeds, this night we finish with him. Go to your lodgings and be busy-You understand conveyances, and can make ruin sure.

Bates. Better stop here. The sale of this reversion may be talk'd of—There's danger in't.

Stu. No, 'tis the mark I aim it. We'll thrive and laugh. You are the purchaser, and there's the payment


[Giving a Pocket-book.] He thinks you rich and so you shall be. Enquire for titles, and deal hardly; 'twill look like honesty,

Bates. How if he suspects us?

Stu. Leave it to me. I study hearts, and when to work upon them. Go to your lodgings; and, if we come, be busy over papers. Talk of a thoughtless age, of gaming and extravagance; you have a face for't.

Bates. A feeling too that would avoid it. We push too far; but I've caution'd you. If it ends ill, you'll think of me--and so adieu.

[Exit. Stu. This fellow sins by halves; his fears are conscience to him. I'll turn these fears to use. Rogues that dread shame, will still be greater rogues to hide their guilt-This shall be thought of. Lewson grows troublesome

-We must get rid of him.- He knows too much. I have a tale for Beverley; part of it truth, too_He shall call Lewson to account-If it succeeds, 'tis well; if not, we must try other means—But here he comes“I must dissemble.

Enter BEVERLEY. Look to the door there [in a seeming fright] My friend! I thought of other visitors.

Bev. No; these shall guard you from them [offering notes] Take them and use them cautiouslyThe world deals hardly by us.

Stu. And shall I leave you destitute? No: your wants are the greatest. Another climate may treat me kinder. The shelter of to-night takes me from this.

Bev. Let these be your support then-Yet is there need of parting? I may have means again; we'll share them, and live wisely. Stu. No; I should tempt you on.

Habit is nature in me; ruin can't cure it. Even now I would be gaming. Taught by experience as I am, and knowing this poor sum is all that's left us, I am for venturing still-And say I am to blame- -Yet will this little supply our wants? No, we must put it out to usury. Whether 'tis madness in me, or some resistless impulse of good fortune, I yet am ignorant; but

Beo. Take it, and succeed then. I'll try no more.

Stu. "Tis surely impulse; it pleads so strongly But you are cold-We'll e'en part here then. And for this last reserve, keep it for better


l'll have none on't. I thank you tho', and will seek fortune singlyOne thing I had forgot

Bev. What is it?

Stu. Perhaps, 'twere best forgotten. But I am operr in my nature, and zealous for the honour of my friend -Lewson speaks freely of you. Beo. Of


I know he does. Stu. I can forgive him for't; but for my friend I'm angry.

Bev. What says he of me?

Stu. That Charlotte's fortune is embezzled-He talks on't loudly.

Bev. He shall be silenc'd then- How heard you of it?

Stu. From many. He question'd Bates about it. You must account with him, he

Bev. Or he with me- -and soon, too.
Stu. Speak mildly to him. Cautions are best.
Bev. I'll think on't-But whither go you?

Stu. From poverty and prisons- No matter whi. ther. If fortune changes you may hear from me.

Bev. May these be prosperous, then. [Offering the notes, which he refuses] Nay, they are your's have sworn it, and will have nothing-Take them and use them.

Stu. Singly I will not. My cares are for my friend; for his lost fortune, and ruin'd family. All separate interests I disclaim. Together we have fallen, together we must rise. My heart, my honour, and affections, alt will have it so.

Bev. I am weary of being fool'd.

Stu. And so am 1-Here let us part then- -These bodings of good fortune shall all be stified; I'll call them folly, and forget them-This one embrace, and then farewell.

[Offering to embruce. Bev. No; stay a moment- How my poor heart's distracted! I have these bodings too; but whether caught

[ocr errors]

-And yet, my

from you, or prompted by some good or evil spirit, I
know not-The trial shall determine-

Stu. Ay, ay, she'll chide.
Bev. No; my chidings are all here.

[Pointing to his heart. Stu. I'll not persuade you.

Bev. I am persuaded; by reason too, the strongest reason, necessity.

Oh! could I but regain the height I have fallen from! if then again I mixed in these scenes, or sacrific'd the husband's peace, his joy and best affections, to avarice and infamy, I should indeed then deserve what I tremble to think on. Oh! let me but regain it!

Stu. I have resolv'd like you; and since our motives are so honest, why should we fear success?

Bev. Come on, then- Where shall we meet?

Stu. At Wilson's- Yet if it hurts you, leave me: I have misled


often. Bev. We have misled each other-But come! Why not hope for a reverse of our late misfortunes?

Stu. Yet think a little

Bev. I cannot -thinking but distracts me. When desperation leads, all thoughts are vain; Reason would lose what rashness may obtain.

[Exeunt. SCENE II. Beverley's Lodgings.

Enter Mrs. Bev ERLEY and CHARLOTTE. Char. 'Twas all a scheme, a mean one; unworthy of my brother.

Mrs. Bev. No, I am sure it was not-Stukely is honest too; I know he is--This madness has undone them both.

Chør. My brother irrecoverably- -You are too spiritless a wife-A mournful tale, mixt with a few kind words, will steal away your soul. The world's too subtle for such goodness. Had I been by, he should have ask'd your life sooner than those jewels.

Mrs. Bev. He should have had it then. [warmly] I live but to oblige him. She who can love, and is belov'd like me, will do as much. Men have done more for

« PreviousContinue »