She Stoops to Conquer
Oliver Goldsmith

Part 2 out of 2

I was unwilling to be too severe. No, I could not be too severe, curse

MISS HARDCASTLE. O! then, sir, you are a favourite, I find, among the

MARLOW. Yes, my dear, a great favourite. And yet hang me, I don't see
what they find in me to follow. At the Ladies' Club in town I'm called
their agreeable Rattle. Rattle, child, is not my real name, but one
I'm known by. My name is Solomons; Mr. Solomons, my dear, at your
service. (Offering to salute her.)

MISS HARDCASTLE. Hold, sir; you are introducing me to your club, not
to yourself. And you're so great a favourite there, you say?

MARLOW. Yes, my dear. There's Mrs. Mantrap, Lady Betty Blackleg, the
Countess of Sligo, Mrs. Langhorns, old Miss Biddy Buckskin, and your
humble servant, keep up the spirit of the place.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Then it's a very merry place, I suppose?

MARLOW. Yes, as merry as cards, supper, wine, and old women can make

MISS HARDCASTLE. And their agreeable Rattle, ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW. (Aside.) Egad! I don't quite like this chit. She looks
knowing, methinks. You laugh, child?

MISS HARDCASTLE. I can't but laugh, to think what time they all have
for minding their work or their family.

MARLOW. (Aside.) All's well; she don't laugh at me. (To her.) Do
you ever work, child?

MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, sure. There's not a screen or quilt in the
whole house but what can bear witness to that.

MARLOW. Odso! then you must show me your embroidery. I embroider and
draw patterns myself a little. If you want a judge of your work, you
must apply to me. (Seizing her hand.)

MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, but the colours do not look well by candlelight.
You shall see all in the morning. (Struggling.)

MARLOW. And why not now, my angel? Such beauty fires beyond the
power of resistance.--Pshaw! the father here! My old luck: I never
nicked seven that I did not throw ames ace three times following.
[Exit MARLOW.]

Enter HARDCASTLE, who stands in surprise.

HARDCASTLE. So, madam. So, I find THIS is your MODEST lover. This is
your humble admirer, that kept his eyes fixed on the ground, and only
adored at humble distance. Kate, Kate, art thou not ashamed to deceive
your father so?

MISS HARDCASTLE. Never trust me, dear papa, but he's still the modest
man I first took him for; you'll be convinced of it as well as I.

HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, I believe his impudence is
infectious! Didn't I see him seize your hand? Didn't I see him haul
you about like a milkmaid? And now you talk of his respect and his
modesty, forsooth!

MISS HARDCASTLE. But if I shortly convince you of his modesty, that he
has only the faults that will pass off with time, and the virtues that
will improve with age, I hope you'll forgive him.

HARDCASTLE. The girl would actually make one run mad! I tell you,
I'll not be convinced. I am convinced. He has scarce been three hours
in the house, and he has already encroached on all my prerogatives.
You may like his impudence, and call it modesty; but my son-in-law,
madam, must have very different qualifications.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Sir, I ask but this night to convince you.

HARDCASTLE. You shall not have half the time, for I have thoughts of
turning him out this very hour.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Give me that hour then, and I hope to satisfy you.

HARDCASTLE. Well, an hour let it be then. But I'll have no trifling
with your father. All fair and open, do you mind me.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, you have ever found that I considered
your commands as my pride; for your kindness is such, that my duty as
yet has been inclination. [Exeunt.]



HASTINGS. You surprise me; Sir Charles Marlow expected here this
night! Where have you had your information?

MISS NEVILLE. You may depend upon it. I just saw his letter to Mr.
Hardcastle, in which he tells him he intends setting out a few hours
after his son.

HASTINGS. Then, my Constance, all must be completed before he
arrives. He knows me; and should he find me here, would discover my
name, and perhaps my designs, to the rest of the family.

MISS NEVILLE. The jewels, I hope, are safe?

HASTINGS. Yes, yes, I have sent them to Marlow, who keeps the keys of
our baggage. In the mean time, I'll go to prepare matters for our
elopement. I have had the 'squire's promise of a fresh pair of horses;
and if I should not see him again, will write him further directions.

MISS NEVILLE. Well! success attend you. In the mean time I'll go and
amuse my aunt with the old pretence of a violent passion for my cousin.

Enter MARLOW, followed by a Servant.

MARLOW. I wonder what Hastings could mean by sending me so valuable a
thing as a casket to keep for him, when he knows the only place I have
is the seat of a post-coach at an inn-door. Have you deposited the
casket with the landlady, as I ordered you? Have you put it into her
own hands?

SERVANT. Yes, your honour.

MARLOW. She said she'd keep it safe, did she?

SERVANT. Yes, she said she'd keep it safe enough; she asked me how I
came by it; and she said she had a great mind to make me give an
account of myself. [Exit Servant.]

MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! They're safe, however. What an unaccountable set
of beings have we got amongst! This little bar-maid though runs in my
head most strangely, and drives out the absurdities of all the rest of
the family. She's mine, she must be mine, or I'm greatly mistaken.


HASTINGS. Bless me! I quite forgot to tell her that I intended to
prepare at the bottom of the garden. Marlow here, and in spirits too!

MARLOW. Give me joy, George! Crown me, shadow me with laurels!
Well, George, after all, we modest fellows don't want for success
among the women.

HASTINGS. Some women, you mean. But what success has your honour's
modesty been crowned with now, that it grows so insolent upon us?

MARLOW. Didn't you see the tempting, brisk, lovely little thing, that
runs about the house with a bunch of keys to its girdle?

HASTINGS. Well, and what then?

MARLOW. She's mine, you rogue you. Such fire, such motion, such
eyes, such lips; but, egad! she would not let me kiss them though.

HASTINGS. But are you so sure, so very sure of her?

MARLOW. Why, man, she talked of showing me her work above stairs, and
I am to improve the pattern.

HASTINGS. But how can you, Charles, go about to rob a woman of her

MARLOW. Pshaw! pshaw! We all know the honour of the bar-maid of an
inn. I don't intend to rob her, take my word for it; there's nothing
in this house I shan't honestly pay for.

HASTINGS. I believe the girl has virtue.

MARLOW. And if she has, I should be the last man in the world that
would attempt to corrupt it.

HASTINGS. You have taken care, I hope, of the casket I sent you to
lock up? Is it in safety?

MARLOW. Yes, yes. It's safe enough. I have taken care of it. But
how could you think the seat of a post-coach at an inn-door a place of
safety? Ah! numskull! I have taken better precautions for you than
you did for yourself----I have----


MARLOW. I have sent it to the landlady to keep for you.

HASTINGS. To the landlady!

MARLOW. The landlady.

HASTINGS. You did?

MARLOW. I did. She's to be answerable for its forthcoming, you know.

HASTINGS. Yes, she'll bring it forth with a witness.

MARLOW. Wasn't I right? I believe you'll allow that I acted
prudently upon this occasion.

HASTINGS. (Aside.) He must not see my uneasiness.

MARLOW. You seem a little disconcerted though, methinks. Sure
nothing has happened?

HASTINGS. No, nothing. Never was in better spirits in all my life.
And so you left it with the landlady, who, no doubt, very readily
undertook the charge.

MARLOW. Rather too readily. For she not only kept the casket, but,
through her great precaution, was going to keep the messenger too. Ha!
ha! ha!

HASTINGS. He! he! he! They're safe, however.

MARLOW. As a guinea in a miser's purse.

HASTINGS. (Aside.) So now all hopes of fortune are at an end, and we
must set off without it. (To him.) Well, Charles, I'll leave you to
your meditations on the pretty bar-maid, and, he! he! he! may you be as
successful for yourself, as you have been for me! [Exit.]

MARLOW. Thank ye, George: I ask no more. Ha! ha! ha!


HARDCASTLE. I no longer know my own house. It's turned all
topsy-turvy. His servants have got drunk already. I'll bear it no
longer; and yet, from my respect for his father, I'll be calm. (To
him.) Mr. Marlow, your servant. I'm your very humble servant.
(Bowing low.)

MARLOW. Sir, your humble servant. (Aside.) What's to be the wonder

HARDCASTLE. I believe, sir, you must be sensible, sir, that no man
alive ought to be more welcome than your father's son, sir. I hope you
think so?

MARLOW. I do from my soul, sir. I don't want much entreaty. I
generally make my father's son welcome wherever he goes.

HARDCASTLE. I believe you do, from my soul, sir. But though I say
nothing to your own conduct, that of your servants is insufferable.
Their manner of drinking is setting a very bad example in this house,
I assure you.

MARLOW. I protest, my very good sir, that is no fault of mine. If
they don't drink as they ought, they are to blame. I ordered them not
to spare the cellar. I did, I assure you. (To the side scene.) Here,
let one of my servants come up. (To him.) My positive directions
were, that as I did not drink myself, they should make up for my
deficiencies below.

HARDCASTLE. Then they had your orders for what they do? I'm

MARLOW. They had, I assure you. You shall hear from one of

Enter Servant, drunk.

MARLOW. You, Jeremy! Come forward, sirrah! What were my orders?
Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what you thought fit,
for the good of the house?

HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) I begin to lose my patience.

JEREMY. Please your honour, liberty and Fleet-street for ever!
Though I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man. I'll drink for
no man before supper, sir, damme! Good liquor will sit upon a good
supper, but a good supper will not sit upon----hiccup----on my
conscience, sir.

MARLOW. You see, my old friend, the fellow is as drunk as he can
possibly be. I don't know what you'd have more, unless you'd have the
poor devil soused in a beer-barrel.

HARDCASTLE. Zounds! he'll drive me distracted, if I contain myself any
longer. Mr. Marlow--Sir; I have submitted to your insolence for more
than four hours, and I see no likelihood of its coming to an end. I'm
now resolved to be master here, sir; and I desire that you and your
drunken pack may leave my house directly.

MARLOW. Leave your house!----Sure you jest, my good friend! What?
when I'm doing what I can to please you.

HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, you don't please me; so I desire you'll
leave my house.

MARLOW. Sure you cannot be serious? At this time o' night, and such a
night? You only mean to banter me.

HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, I'm serious! and now that my passions are
roused, I say this house is mine, sir; this house is mine, and I
command you to leave it directly.

MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! A puddle in a storm. I shan't stir a step, I
assure you. (In a serious tone.) This your house, fellow! It's my
house. This is my house. Mine, while I choose to stay. What right
have you to bid me leave this house, sir? I never met with such
impudence, curse me; never in my whole life before.

HARDCASTLE. Nor I, confound me if ever I did. To come to my house, to
call for what he likes, to turn me out of my own chair, to insult the
family, to order his servants to get drunk, and then to tell me, "This
house is mine, sir." By all that's impudent, it makes me laugh. Ha!
ha! ha! Pray, sir (bantering), as you take the house, what think you
of taking the rest of the furniture? There's a pair of silver
candlesticks, and there's a fire-screen, and here's a pair of
brazen-nosed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy to them?

MARLOW. Bring me your bill, sir; bring me your bill, and let's make no
more words about it.

HARDCASTLE. There are a set of prints, too. What think you of the
Rake's Progress, for your own apartment?

MARLOW. Bring me your bill, I say; and I'll leave you and your
infernal house directly.

HARDCASTLE. Then there's a mahogany table that you may see your own
face in.

MARLOW. My bill, I say.

HARDCASTLE. I had forgot the great chair for your own particular
slumbers, after a hearty meal.

MARLOW. Zounds! bring me my bill, I say, and let's hear no more on't.

HARDCASTLE. Young man, young man, from your father's letter to me, I
was taught to expect a well-bred modest man as a visitor here, but now
I find him no better than a coxcomb and a bully; but he will be down
here presently, and shall hear more of it. [Exit.]

MARLOW. How's this? Sure I have not mistaken the house. Everything
looks like an inn. The servants cry, coming; the attendance is
awkward; the bar-maid, too, to attend us. But she's here, and will
further inform me. Whither so fast, child? A word with you.


MISS HARDCASTLE. Let it be short, then. I'm in a hurry. (Aside.) I
believe be begins to find out his mistake. But it's too soon quite to
undeceive him.

MARLOW. Pray, child, answer me one question. What are you, and what
may your business in this house be?

MISS HARDCASTLE. A relation of the family, sir.

MARLOW. What, a poor relation.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir. A poor relation, appointed to keep the
keys, and to see that the guests want nothing in my power to give them.

MARLOW. That is, you act as the bar-maid of this inn.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Inn! O law----what brought that in your head? One
of the best families in the country keep an inn--Ha! ha! ha! old Mr.
Hardcastle's house an inn!

MARLOW. Mr. Hardcastle's house! Is this Mr. Hardcastle's house,

MISS HARDCASTLE. Ay, sure! Whose else should it be?

MARLOW. So then, all's out, and I have been damnably imposed on. O,
confound my stupid head, I shall be laughed at over the whole town. I
shall be stuck up in caricatura in all the print-shops. The DULLISSIMO
MACCARONI. To mistake this house of all others for an inn, and my
father's old friend for an innkeeper! What a swaggering puppy must he
take me for! What a silly puppy do I find myself! There again, may I
be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the bar-maid.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Dear me! dear me! I'm sure there's nothing in my
BEHAVIOUR to put me on a level with one of that stamp.

MARLOW. Nothing, my dear, nothing. But I was in for a list of
blunders, and could not help making you a subscriber. My stupidity saw
everything the wrong way. I mistook your assiduity for assurance, and
your simplicity for allurement. But it's over. This house I no more
show MY face in.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, I have done nothing to disoblige you.
I'm sure I should be sorry to affront any gentleman who has been so
polite, and said so many civil things to me. I'm sure I should be
sorry (pretending to cry) if he left the family upon my account. I'm
sure I should be sorry if people said anything amiss, since I have no
fortune but my character.

MARLOW. (Aside.) By Heaven! she weeps. This is the first mark of
tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it touches me. (To
her.) Excuse me, my lovely girl; you are the only part of the family I
leave with reluctance. But to be plain with you, the difference of our
birth, fortune, and education, makes an honourable connexion
impossible; and I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity
that trusted in my honour, of bringing ruin upon one whose only fault
was being too lovely.

MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) Generous man! I now begin to admire him.
(To him.) But I am sure my family is as good as Miss Hardcastle's; and
though I'm poor, that's no great misfortune to a contented mind; and,
until this moment, I never thought that it was bad to want fortune.

MARLOW. And why now, my pretty simplicity?

MISS HARDCASTLE. Because it puts me at a distance from one that, if I
had a thousand pounds, I would give it all to.

MARLOW. (Aside.) This simplicity bewitches me, so that if I stay, I'm
undone. I must make one bold effort, and leave her. (To her.) Your
partiality in my favour, my dear, touches me most sensibly: and were I
to live for myself alone, I could easily fix my choice. But I owe too
much to the opinion of the world, too much to the authority of a
father; so that--I can scarcely speak it--it affects me. Farewell.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I never knew half his merit till now. He shall not
go, if I have power or art to detain him. I'll still preserve the
character in which I STOOPED TO CONQUER; but will undeceive my papa,
who perhaps may laugh him out of his resolution. [Exit.]

Enter Tony and MISS NEVILLE.

TONY. Ay, you may steal for yourselves the next time. I have done my
duty. She has got the jewels again, that's a sure thing; but she
believes it was all a mistake of the servants.

MISS NEVILLE. But, my dear cousin, sure you won't forsake us in this
distress? If she in the least suspects that I am going off, I shall
certainly be locked up, or sent to my aunt Pedigree's, which is ten
times worse.

TONY. To be sure, aunts of all kinds are damned bad things. But what
can I do? I have got you a pair of horses that will fly like
Whistle-jacket; and I'm sure you can't say but I have courted you
nicely before her face. Here she comes, we must court a bit or two
more, for fear she should suspect us. [They retire, and seem to


MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, I was greatly fluttered, to be sure. But my
son tells me it was all a mistake of the servants. I shan't be easy,
however, till they are fairly married, and then let her keep her own
fortune. But what do I see? fondling together, as I'm alive. I never
saw Tony so sprightly before. Ah! have I caught you, my pretty doves?
What, billing, exchanging stolen glances and broken murmurs? Ah!

TONY. As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a little now and then, to be
sure. But there's no love lost between us.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. A mere sprinkling, Tony, upon the flame, only to make
it burn brighter.

MISS NEVILLE. Cousin Tony promises to give us more of his company at
home. Indeed, he shan't leave us any more. It won't leave us, cousin
Tony, will it?

TONY. O! it's a pretty creature. No, I'd sooner leave my horse in a
pound, than leave you when you smile upon one so. Your laugh makes you
so becoming.

MISS NEVILLE. Agreeable cousin! Who can help admiring that natural
humour, that pleasant, broad, red, thoughtless (patting his cheek)--ah!
it's a bold face.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pretty innocence!

TONY. I'm sure I always loved cousin Con.'s hazle eyes, and her
pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that over the
haspicholls, like a parcel of bobbins.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ah! he would charm the bird from the tree. I was
never so happy before. My boy takes after his father, poor Mr.
Lumpkin, exactly. The jewels, my dear Con., shall be yours
incontinently. You shall have them. Isn't he a sweet boy, my dear?
You shall be married to-morrow, and we'll put off the rest of his
education, like Dr. Drowsy's sermons, to a fitter opportunity.


DIGGORY. Where's the 'squire? I have got a letter for your worship.

TONY. Give it to my mamma. She reads all my letters first.

DIGGORY. I had orders to deliver it into your own hands.

TONY. Who does it come from?

DIGGORY. Your worship mun ask that o' the letter itself.

TONY. I could wish to know though (turning the letter, and gazing on

MISS NEVILLE. (Aside.) Undone! undone! A letter to him from
Hastings. I know the hand. If my aunt sees it, we are ruined for
ever. I'll keep her employed a little if I can. (To MRS.
HARDCASTLE.) But I have not told you, madam, of my cousin's smart
answer just now to Mr. Marlow. We so laughed.--You must know,
madam.--This way a little, for he must not hear us. [They confer.]

TONY. (Still gazing.) A damned cramp piece of penmanship, as ever I
saw in my life. I can read your print hand very well. But here are
such handles, and shanks, and dashes, that one can scarce tell the head
from the tail.--"To Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire." It's very odd, I can
read the outside of my letters, where my own name is, well enough; but
when I come to open it, it's all----buzz. That's hard, very hard; for
the inside of the letter is always the cream of the correspondence.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so my son was
too hard for the philosopher.

MISS NEVILLE. Yes, madam; but you must hear the rest, madam. A
little more this way, or he may hear us. You'll hear how he puzzled
him again.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. He seems strangely puzzled now himself, methinks.

TONY. (Still gazing.) A damned up and down hand, as if it was
disguised in liquor.--(Reading.) Dear Sir,--ay, that's that. Then
there's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the next be an izzard, or
an R, confound me, I cannot tell.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. What's that, my dear? Can I give you any

MISS NEVILLE. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp hand
better than I. (Twitching the letter from him.) Do you know who it is

TONY. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger, the feeder.

MISS NEVILLE. Ay, so it is. (Pretending to read.) Dear 'Squire,
hoping that you're in health, as I am at this present. The gentlemen
of the Shake-bag club has cut the gentlemen of Goose-green quite out of
feather. The odds--um--odd battle--um--long fighting--um--here, here,
it's all about cocks and fighting; it's of no consequence; here, put it
up, put it up. (Thrusting the crumpled letter upon him.)

TONY. But I tell you, miss, it's of all the consequence in the world.
I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea. Here, mother, do you
make it out. Of no consequence! (Giving MRS. HARDCASTLE the letter.)

MRS. HARDCASTLE. How's this?--(Reads.) "Dear 'Squire, I'm now
waiting for Miss Neville, with a post-chaise and pair, at the bottom of
the garden, but I find my horses yet unable to perform the journey. I
expect you'll assist us with a pair of fresh horses, as you promised.
Dispatch is necessary, as the HAG (ay, the hag), your mother, will
otherwise suspect us! Yours, Hastings." Grant me patience. I shall
run distracted! My rage chokes me.

MISS NEVILLE. I hope, madam, you'll suspend your resentment for a few
moments, and not impute to me any impertinence, or sinister design,
that belongs to another.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Curtseying very low.) Fine spoken, madam, you are
most miraculously polite and engaging, and quite the very pink of
courtesy and circumspection, madam. (Changing her tone.) And you, you
great ill-fashioned oaf, with scarce sense enough to keep your mouth
shut: were you, too, joined against me? But I'll defeat all your plots
in a moment. As for you, madam, since you have got a pair of fresh
horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint them. So, if you please,
instead of running away with your spark, prepare, this very moment, to
run off with ME. Your old aunt Pedigree will keep you secure, I'll
warrant me. You too, sir, may mount your horse, and guard us upon the
way. Here, Thomas, Roger, Diggory! I'll show you, that I wish you
better than you do yourselves. [Exit.]

MISS NEVILLE. So now I'm completely ruined.

TONY. Ay, that's a sure thing.

MISS NEVILLE. What better could be expected from being connected with
such a stupid fool,--and after all the nods and signs I made him?

TONY. By the laws, miss, it was your own cleverness, and not my
stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice and so busy with
your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I thought you could never be
making believe.


HASTINGS. So, sir, I find by my servant, that you have shown my
letter, and betrayed us. Was this well done, young gentleman?

TONY. Here's another. Ask miss there, who betrayed you. Ecod, it was
her doing, not mine.


MARLOW. So I have been finely used here among you. Rendered
contemptible, driven into ill manners, despised, insulted, laughed at.

TONY. Here's another. We shall have old Bedlam broke loose

MISS NEVILLE. And there, sir, is the gentleman to whom we all owe
every obligation.

MARLOW. What can I say to him, a mere boy, an idiot, whose ignorance
and age are a protection?

HASTINGS. A poor contemptible booby, that would but disgrace

MISS NEVILLE. Yet with cunning and malice enough to make himself
merry with all our embarrassments.

HASTINGS. An insensible cub.

MARLOW. Replete with tricks and mischief.

TONY. Baw! damme, but I'll fight you both, one after the
other----with baskets.

MARLOW. As for him, he's below resentment. But your conduct, Mr.
Hastings, requires an explanation. You knew of my mistakes, yet would
not undeceive me.

HASTINGS. Tortured as I am with my own disappointments, is this a time
for explanations? It is not friendly, Mr. Marlow.

MARLOW. But, sir----

MISS NEVILLE. Mr. Marlow, we never kept on your mistake till it was
too late to undeceive you.

Enter Servant.

SERVANT. My mistress desires you'll get ready immediately, madam. The
horses are putting to. Your hat and things are in the next room. We
are to go thirty miles before morning. [Exit Servant.]

MISS NEVILLE. Well, well: I'll come presently.

MARLOW. (To HASTINGS.) Was it well done, sir, to assist in rendering
me ridiculous? To hang me out for the scorn of all my acquaintance?
Depend upon it, sir, I shall expect an explanation.

HASTINGS. Was it well done, sir, if you're upon that subject, to
deliver what I entrusted to yourself, to the care of another sir?

MISS NEVILLE. Mr. Hastings! Mr. Marlow! Why will you increase my
distress by this groundless dispute? I implore, I entreat you----

Enter Servant.

SERVANT. Your cloak, madam. My mistress is impatient. [Exit

MISS NEVILLE. I come. Pray be pacified. If I leave you thus, I
shall die with apprehension.

Enter Servant.

SERVANT. Your fan, muff, and gloves, madam. The horses are waiting.

MISS NEVILLE. O, Mr. Marlow! if you knew what a scene of constraint
and ill-nature lies before me, I'm sure it would convert your
resentment into pity.

MARLOW. I'm so distracted with a variety of passions, that I don't
know what I do. Forgive me, madam. George, forgive me. You know my
hasty temper, and should not exasperate it.

HASTINGS. The torture of my situation is my only excuse.

MISS NEVILLE. Well, my dear Hastings, if you have that esteem for me
that I think, that I am sure you have, your constancy for three years
will but increase the happiness of our future connexion. If----

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Within.) Miss Neville. Constance, why Constance, I

MISS NEVILLE. I'm coming. Well, constancy, remember, constancy is the
word. [Exit.]

HASTINGS. My heart! how can I support this? To be so near happiness,
and such happiness!

MARLOW. (To Tony.) You see now, young gentleman, the effects of your
folly. What might be amusement to you, is here disappointment, and
even distress.

TONY. (From a reverie.) Ecod, I have hit it. It's here. Your
hands. Yours and yours, my poor Sulky!--My boots there, ho!--Meet me
two hours hence at the bottom of the garden; and if you don't find Tony
Lumpkin a more good-natured fellow than you thought for, I'll give you
leave to take my best horse, and Bet Bouncer into the bargain. Come
along. My boots, ho! [Exeunt.]


(SCENE continued.)

Enter HASTINGS and Servant.

HASTINGS. You saw the old lady and Miss Neville drive off, you say?

SERVANT. Yes, your honour. They went off in a post-coach, and the
young 'squire went on horseback. They're thirty miles off by this

HASTINGS. Then all my hopes are over.

SERVANT. Yes, sir. Old Sir Charles has arrived. He and the old
gentleman of the house have been laughing at Mr. Marlow's mistake this
half hour. They are coming this way.

HASTINGS. Then I must not be seen. So now to my fruitless
appointment at the bottom of the garden. This is about the time.


HARDCASTLE. Ha! ha! ha! The peremptory tone in which he sent forth
his sublime commands!

SIR CHARLES. And the reserve with which I suppose he treated all your

HARDCASTLE. And yet he might have seen something in me above a common
innkeeper, too.

SIR CHARLES. Yes, Dick, but be mistook you for an uncommon innkeeper,
ha! ha! ha!

HARDCASTLE. Well, I'm in too good spirits to think of anything but
joy. Yes, my dear friend, this union of our families will make our
personal friendships hereditary; and though my daughter's fortune is
but small--

SIR CHARLES. Why, Dick, will you talk of fortune to ME? My son is
possessed of more than a competence already, and can want nothing but a
good and virtuous girl to share his happiness and increase it. If they
like each other, as you say they do--

HARDCASTLE. IF, man! I tell you they DO like each other. My
daughter as good as told me so.

SIR CHARLES. But girls are apt to flatter themselves, you know.

HARDCASTLE. I saw him grasp her hand in the warmest manner myself; and
here he comes to put you out of your IFS, I warrant him.


MARLOW. I come, sir, once more, to ask pardon for my strange conduct.
I can scarce reflect on my insolence without confusion.

HARDCASTLE. Tut, boy, a trifle! You take it too gravely. An hour or
two's laughing with my daughter will set all to rights again. She'll
never like you the worse for it.

MARLOW. Sir, I shall be always proud of her approbation.

HARDCASTLE. Approbation is but a cold word, Mr. Marlow; if I am not
deceived, you have something more than approbation thereabouts. You
take me?

MARLOW. Really, sir, I have not that happiness.

HARDCASTLE. Come, boy, I'm an old fellow, and know what's what as well
as you that are younger. I know what has passed between you; but mum.

MARLOW. Sure, sir, nothing has passed between us but the most
profound respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on hers. You
don't think, sir, that my impudence has been passed upon all the rest
of the family.

HARDCASTLE. Impudence! No, I don't say that--not quite
impudence--though girls like to be played with, and rumpled a little
too, sometimes. But she has told no tales, I assure you.

MARLOW. I never gave her the slightest cause.

HARDCASTLE. Well, well, I like modesty in its place well enough. But
this is over-acting, young gentleman. You may be open. Your father
and I will like you all the better for it.

MARLOW. May I die, sir, if I ever----

HARDCASTLE. I tell you, she don't dislike you; and as I'm sure you
like her----

MARLOW. Dear sir--I protest, sir----

HARDCASTLE. I see no reason why you should not be joined as fast as
the parson can tie you.

MARLOW. But hear me, sir--

HARDCASTLE. Your father approves the match, I admire it; every
moment's delay will be doing mischief. So--

MARLOW. But why won't you hear me? By all that's just and true, I
never gave Miss Hardcastle the slightest mark of my attachment, or even
the most distant hint to suspect me of affection. We had but one
interview, and that was formal, modest, and uninteresting.

HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) This fellow's formal modest impudence is beyond

SIR CHARLES. And you never grasped her hand, or made any

MARLOW. As Heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience to your
commands. I saw the lady without emotion, and parted without
reluctance. I hope you'll exact no farther proofs of my duty, nor
prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many
mortifications. [Exit.]

SIR CHARLES. I'm astonished at the air of sincerity with which he

HARDCASTLE. And I'm astonished at the deliberate intrepidity of his

SIR CHARLES. I dare pledge my life and honour upon his truth.

HARDCASTLE. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness
upon her veracity.


HARDCASTLE. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely and
without reserve: has Mr. Marlow made you any professions of love and

MISS HARDCASTLE. The question is very abrupt, sir. But since you
require unreserved sincerity, I think he has.


SIR CHARLES. And pray, madam, have you and my son had more than one

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, several.


SIR CHARLES. But did be profess any attachment?

MISS HARDCASTLE. A lasting one.

SIR CHARLES. Did he talk of love?


SIR CHARLES. Amazing! And all this formally?


HARDCASTLE. Now, my friend, I hope you are satisfied.

SIR CHARLES. And how did he behave, madam?

MISS HARDCASTLE. As most profest admirers do: said some civil things
of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of
mine; mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended with
pretended rapture.

SIR CHARLES. Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know his
conversation among women to be modest and submissive: this forward
canting ranting manner by no means describes him; and, I am confident,
he never sat for the picture.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Then, what, sir, if I should convince you to your
face of my sincerity? If you and my papa, in about half an hour, will
place yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare his
passion to me in person.

SIR CHARLES. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all my
happiness in him must have an end. [Exit.]

MISS HARDCASTLE. And if you don't find him what I describe--I fear my
happiness must never have a beginning. [Exeunt.]

SCENE changes to the back of the Garden.


HASTINGS. What an idiot am I, to wait here for a fellow who probably
takes a delight in mortifying me. He never intended to be punctual,
and I'll wait no longer. What do I see? It is he! and perhaps with
news of my Constance.

Enter Tony, booted and spattered.

HASTINGS. My honest 'squire! I now find you a man of your word.
This looks like friendship.

TONY. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have in the world,
if you knew but all. This riding by night, by the bye, is cursedly
tiresome. It has shook me worse than the basket of a stage-coach.

HASTINGS. But how? where did you leave your fellow-travellers? Are
they in safety? Are they housed?

TONY. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such bad
driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: rabbit me, but I'd rather
ride forty miles after a fox than ten with such varment.

HASTINGS. Well, but where have you left the ladies? I die with

TONY. Left them! Why where should I leave them but where I found

HASTINGS. This is a riddle.

TONY. Riddle me this then. What's that goes round the house, and
round the house, and never touches the house?

HASTINGS. I'm still astray.

TONY. Why, that's it, mon. I have led them astray. By jingo,
there's not a pond or a slough within five miles of the place but they
can tell the taste of.

HASTINGS. Ha! ha! ha! I understand: you took them in a round, while
they supposed themselves going forward, and so you have at last brought
them home again.

TONY. You shall hear. I first took them down Feather-bed Lane, where
we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the stones of
Up-and-down Hill. I then introduced them to the gibbet on Heavy-tree
Heath; and from that, with a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in
the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden.

HASTINGS. But no accident, I hope?

TONY. No, no. Only mother is confoundedly frightened. She thinks
herself forty miles off. She's sick of the journey; and the cattle can
scarce crawl. So if your own horses be ready, you may whip off with
cousin, and I'll be bound that no soul here can budge a foot to follow

HASTINGS. My dear friend, how can I be grateful?

TONY. Ay, now it's dear friend, noble 'squire. Just now, it was all
idiot, cub, and run me through the guts. Damn YOUR way of fighting, I
say. After we take a knock in this part of the country, we kiss and be
friends. But if you had run me through the guts, then I should be
dead, and you might go kiss the hangman.

HASTINGS. The rebuke is just. But I must hasten to relieve Miss
Neville: if you keep the old lady employed, I promise to take care of
the young one. [Exit HASTINGS.]

TONY. Never fear me. Here she comes. Vanish. She's got from the
pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid.


MRS. HARDCASTLE. Oh, Tony, I'm killed! Shook! Battered to death. I
shall never survive it. That last jolt, that laid us against the
quickset hedge, has done my business.

TONY. Alack, mamma, it was all your own fault. You would be for
running away by night, without knowing one inch of the way.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. I wish we were at home again. I never met so many
accidents in so short a journey. Drenched in the mud, overturned in a
ditch, stuck fast in a slough, jolted to a jelly, and at last to lose
our way. Whereabouts do you think we are, Tony?

TONY. By my guess we should come upon Crackskull Common, about forty
miles from home.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. O lud! O lud! The most notorious spot in all the
country. We only want a robbery to make a complete night on't.

TONY. Don't be afraid, mamma, don't be afraid. Two of the five that
kept here are hanged, and the other three may not find us. Don't be
afraid.--Is that a man that's galloping behind us? No; it's only a
tree.--Don't be afraid.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. The fright will certainly kill me.

TONY. Do you see anything like a black hat moving behind the thicket?


TONY. No; it's only a cow. Don't be afraid, mamma; don't he afraid.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. As I'm alive, Tony, I see a man coming towards us.
Ah! I'm sure on't. If he perceives us, we are undone.

TONY. (Aside.) Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky, come to take one
of his night walks. (To her.) Ah, it's a highwayman with pistols as
long as my arm. A damned ill-looking fellow.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Good Heaven defend us! He approaches.

TONY. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave me to manage
him. If there be any danger, I'll cough, and cry hem. When I cough,
be sure to keep close. (MRS. HARDCASTLE hides behind a tree in the
back scene.)


HARDCASTLE. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people in want of
help. Oh, Tony! is that you? I did not expect you so soon back. Are
your mother and her charge in safety?

TONY. Very safe, sir, at my aunt Pedigree's. Hem.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Ah, death! I find there's danger.

HARDCASTLE. Forty miles in three hours; sure that's too much, my

TONY. Stout horses and willing minds make short journeys, as they say.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Sure he'll do the dear boy no harm.

HARDCASTLE. But I heard a voice here; I should be glad to know from
whence it came.

TONY. It was I, sir, talking to myself, sir. I was saying that forty
miles in four hours was very good going. Hem. As to be sure it was.
Hem. I have got a sort of cold by being out in the air. We'll go in,
if you please. Hem.

HARDCASTLE. But if you talked to yourself you did not answer
yourself. I'm certain I heard two voices, and am resolved (raising his
voice) to find the other out.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (From behind.) Oh! he's coming to find me out. Oh!

TONY. What need you go, sir, if I tell you? Hem. I'll lay down my
life for the truth--hem--I'll tell you all, sir. [Detaining him.]

HARDCASTLE. I tell you I will not be detained. I insist on seeing.
It's in vain to expect I'll believe you.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Running forward from behind.) O lud! he'll murder
my poor boy, my darling! Here, good gentleman, whet your rage upon me.
Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman; spare my child,
if you have any mercy.

HARDCASTLE. My wife, as I'm a Christian. From whence can she come? or
what does she mean?

MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Kneeling.) Take compassion on us, good Mr.
Highwayman. Take our money, our watches, all we have, but spare our
lives. We will never bring you to justice; indeed we won't, good Mr.

HARDCASTLE. I believe the woman's out of her senses. What, Dorothy,
don't you know ME?

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fears blinded me.
But who, my dear, could have expected to meet you here, in this
frightful place, so far from home? What has brought you to follow us?

HARDCASTLE. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits? So far from
home, when you are within forty yards of your own door! (To him.)
This is one of your old tricks, you graceless rogue, you. (To her.)
Don't you know the gate, and the mulberry-tree; and don't you remember
the horse-pond, my dear?

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as long as I
live; I have caught my death in it. (To TONY.) And it is to you, you
graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll teach you to abuse your mother,
I will.

TONY. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, and so
you may take the fruits on't.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. I'll spoil you, I will. [Follows him off the stage.

HARDCASTLE. There's morality, however, in his reply. [Exit.]


HASTINGS. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we
delay a moment, all is lost for ever. Pluck up a little resolution,
and we shall soon be out of the reach of her malignity.

MISS NEVILLE. I find it impossible. My spirits are so sunk with the
agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger.
Two or three years' patience will at last crown us with happiness.

HASTINGS. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy. Let us fly,
my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this very moment. Perish
fortune! Love and content will increase what we possess beyond a
monarch's revenue. Let me prevail!

MISS NEVILLE. No, Mr. Hastings, no. Prudence once more comes to my
relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion fortune
may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance. I'm
resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's compassion and justice for

HASTINGS. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve

MISS NEVILLE. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to

HASTINGS. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly
obey you. [Exeunt.]

SCENE changes.


SIR CHARLES. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I
shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then
lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I am proud of your approbation, and to show I merit
it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you shall hear his explicit
declaration. But he comes.

SIR CHARLES. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment.


MARLOW. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take
leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the

MISS HARDCASTLE. (In her own natural manner.) I believe sufferings
cannot be very great, sir, which you can so easily remove. A day or
two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by showing the
little value of what you now think proper to regret.

MARLOW. (Aside.) This girl every moment improves upon me. (To her.)
It must not be, madam. I have already trifled too long with my heart.
My very pride begins to submit to my passion. The disparity of
education and fortune, the anger of a parent, and the contempt of my
equals, begin to lose their weight; and nothing can restore me to
myself but this painful effort of resolution.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Then go, sir: I'll urge nothing more to detain you.
Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my
education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without
equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation
of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while
all your serious aims are fixed on fortune.

Enter HARDCASTLE and SIR CHARLES from behind.

SIR CHARLES. Here, behind this screen.

HARDCASTLE. Ay, ay; make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him
with confusion at last.

MARLOW. By heavens, madam! fortune was ever my smallest
consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see
that without emotion? But every moment that I converse with you steals
in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger
expression. What at first seemed rustic plainness, now appears refined
simplicity. What seemed forward assurance, now strikes me as the
result of courageous innocence and conscious virtue.

SIR CHARLES. What can it mean? He amazes me!

HARDCASTLE. I told you how it would be. Hush!

MARLOW. I am now determined to stay, madam; and I have too good an
opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt his

MISS HARDCASTLE. No, Mr. Marlow, I will not, cannot detain you. Do
you think I could suffer a connexion in which there is the smallest
room for repentance? Do you think I would take the mean advantage of a
transient passion, to load you with confusion? Do you think I could
ever relish that happiness which was acquired by lessening yours?

MARLOW. By all that's good, I can have no happiness but what's in your
power to grant me! Nor shall I ever feel repentance but in not having
seen your merits before. I will stay even contrary to your wishes; and
though you should persist to shun me, I will make my respectful
assiduities atone for the levity of my past conduct.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Sir, I must entreat you'll desist. As our
acquaintance began, so let it end, in indifference. I might have
given an hour or two to levity; but seriously, Mr. Marlow, do you
think I could ever submit to a connexion where I must appear
mercenary, and you imprudent? Do you think I could ever catch at the
confident addresses of a secure admirer?

MARLOW. (Kneeling.) Does this look like security? Does this look
like confidence? No, madam, every moment that shows me your merit,
only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion. Here let me

SIR CHARLES. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou
deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting

HARDCASTLE. Your cold contempt; your formal interview! What have you
to say now?

MARLOW. That I'm all amazement! What can it mean?

HARDCASTLE. It means that you can say and unsay things at pleasure:
that you can address a lady in private, and deny it in public: that you
have one story for us, and another for my daughter.

MARLOW. Daughter!--This lady your daughter?

HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, my only daughter; my Kate; whose else should she

MARLOW. Oh, the devil!

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you
were pleased to take me for (courtseying); she that you addressed as
the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward,
agreeable Rattle of the Ladies' Club. Ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death!

MISS HARDCASTLE. In which of your characters, sir, will you give us
leave to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the
ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud
confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and old Miss
Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning? Ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW. O, curse on my noisy head. I never attempted to be impudent
yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone.

HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, but you shall not. I see it was
all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, sir, I
tell you. I know she'll forgive you. Won't you forgive him, Kate?
We'll all forgive you. Take courage, man. (They retire, she
tormenting him, to the back scene.)

Enter MRS. HARDCASTLE and Tony.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. So, so, they're gone off. Let them go, I care not.


MRS. HARDCASTLE. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr. Hastings,
from town. He who came down with our modest visitor here.

SIR CHARLES. Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a fellow as
lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice.

HARDCASTLE. Then, by the hand of my body, I'm proud of the connexion.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Well, if he has taken away the lady, he has not
taken her fortune; that remains in this family to console us for her

HARDCASTLE. Sure, Dorothy, you would not be so mercenary?

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, that's my affair, not yours.

HARDCASTLE. But you know if your son, when of age, refuses to marry
his cousin, her whole fortune is then at her own disposal.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Ay, but he's not of age, and she has not thought
proper to wait for his refusal.


MRS. HARDCASTLE. (Aside.) What, returned so soon! I begin not to
like it.

HASTINGS. (To HARDCASTLE.) For my late attempt to fly off with your
niece let my present confusion be my punishment. We are now come back,
to appeal from your justice to your humanity. By her father's consent,
I first paid her my addresses, and our passions were first founded in

MISS NEVILLE. Since his death, I have been obliged to stoop to
dissimulation to avoid oppression. In an hour of levity, I was ready
to give up my fortune to secure my choice. But I am now recovered from
the delusion, and hope from your tenderness what is denied me from a
nearer connexion.

MRS. HARDCASTLE. Pshaw, pshaw! this is all but the whining end of a
modern novel.

HARDCASTLE. Be it what it will, I'm glad they're come back to reclaim
their due. Come hither, Tony, boy. Do you refuse this lady's hand
whom I now offer you?

TONY. What signifies my refusing? You know I can't refuse her till
I'm of age, father.

HARDCASTLE. While I thought concealing your age, boy, was likely to
conduce to your improvement, I concurred with your mother's desire to
keep it secret. But since I find she turns it to a wrong use, I must
now declare you have been of age these three months.

TONY. Of age! Am I of age, father?

HARDCASTLE. Above three months.

TONY. Then you'll see the first use I'll make of my liberty. (Taking
MISS NEVILLE's hand.) Witness all men by these presents, that I,
Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire, of BLANK place, refuse you, Constantia
Neville, spinster, of no place at all, for my true and lawful wife. So
Constance Neville may marry whom she pleases, and Tony Lumpkin is his
own man again.

SIR CHARLES. O brave 'squire!

HASTINGS. My worthy friend!

MRS. HARDCASTLE. My undutiful offspring!

MARLOW. Joy, my dear George! I give you joy sincerely. And could I
prevail upon my little tyrant here to be less arbitrary, I should be
the happiest man alive, if you would return me the favour.

HASTINGS. (To MISS HARDCASTLE.) Come, madam, you are now driven to
the very last scene of all your contrivances. I know you like him, I'm
sure he loves you, and you must and shall have him.

HARDCASTLE. (Joining their hands.) And I say so too. And, Mr.
Marlow, if she makes as good a wife as she has a daughter, I don't
believe you'll ever repent your bargain. So now to supper. To-morrow
we shall gather all the poor of the parish about us, and the mistakes
of the night shall be crowned with a merry morning. So, boy, take her;
and as you have been mistaken in the mistress, my wish is, that you may
never be mistaken in the wife. [Exeunt Omnes.]


Back to Full Books