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Lufty. Good! let me die; very good. Ha! ha! ha! Cro. Now, for my life, I can't find out half the goodness of it.
Lofty. You can't. Ha! ha!
Cro. No, for the soul of me! I think it was as confounded a bad answer as ever was sent from one private gentleman to another.
Lofty. And so you can't find out the force of the message? Why, I was in the house at that very time. Ha ha! It was I that sent that very answer to my own letter. Ha! ha!
Cro. Indeed! How? why?
Lofty. In one word, things between Sir William and me must be behind the curtain. A party has many eyes. He sides with Lord Buzzard, I side with Sir Gilbert Goose. So that unriddles the mystery.
Cro. And so it does, indeed; and all my suspicions are over. Lofty. Your suspicions! What, then, you have been suspecting, you have been suspecting, have you? Mr. Croaker, you and I were friends; we are friends no longer. Never talk to me. It's over; I say, it's over.
Cro. As I hope for your favour I did not mean to offend. It escaped me. Don't be discomposed.
Lofty. Zounds! Sir, but I am discomposed, and will be discomposed. To be treated thus! Who am I? Was it for this I have been dreaded both by ins and outs? Have I been libelled in the Gazetteer, and praised in the St. James's? have I been chaired at Wildman's, and a speaker at Merchant-Tailor's Hall? have I had my hand to addresses, and my head in the print-shops; and talk to me of suspects?
Cro. My dear Sir, be pacified. What can you have but asking pardon?
Lofty. Sir, I will not be pacified Suspects! Who am I? To be used thus! Have I paid court to men in favour to serve my friends; the lords of the treasury, Sir William Honeywood, and the rest of the gang, and talk to me of suspects? Who am I, I say; who am I?
Sir Wm. Since, Sir, you are so pressing for an answer, I'll
tell you who you are: A gentleman, as well acquainted with politics as with men in power; as well acquainted with persons of fashion as with modesty; with lords of the treasury as with truth; and with all, as you are with Sir William Honeywood. I am Sir William Honeywood. (Discovering his ensigns of the Bath).
Cro. Sir William Honeywood!
Honey. Astonishment! my uncle!
[Aside. Lofty. So then, my confounded genius has been all this time only leading me up to the garret, in order to fling me out of the window.
Cro. What, Mr. Importance, and are these your works? Suspect you! You, who have been dreaded by the ins and outs; you, who have had your hand to addresses, and your head stuck up in print-shops. If you were served right, you should have your head stuck up in a pillory.
Lofty. Ay, stick it where you will; for, by the Lord, it cuts but a very poor figure where it sticks at present.
Sir Wm. Well, Mr. Croaker, I hope you now see how incapable this gentleman is of serving you, and how little Miss Richland has to expect from his influence.
Cro. Ay. Sir, too well I see it; and I can't but say I have had some boding of it these ten days. So, I'm resolved, since my son has placed his affections on a lady of moderate fortune, to be satisfied with his choice, and not run the hazard of another Mr. Lofty in helping him to a better.
Sir Wm. I approve your resolution; and here they come to receive a confirmation of your pardon and consent.
Enter Mrs. CROAKER, JARVIS, LEONTINE, and OLIYIA.
Mrs. Cro. Where's my husband? Come, come, lovey, you must forgive them. Jarvis here has been to tell me the whole affair; and I say, you must forgive him. Our own was a stolen match, you know, my dear; and we never had any reason to repent of it.
Cro. I wish we could both say so. However, this gentleman, Sir William Honeywood, has been beforehand with you in obtaining their pardon. So, if the two poor fools have a mind to marry,
I think we can tack them together without crossing the Tweed for it. · [Joining their hands.
Leon. How blest and unexpected! What, what can we say to such goodness? But our future obedience shall be the best reply. And as for this gentleman, to whom we owe
Sir Wm. Excuse me, Sir, if I interrupt your thanks, as I have here an interest that calls me. (Turning to Honeywood). Yes, Sir, you are surprised to see me and I own that a desire of correcting your follies led me hither. I saw with indignation the errors of a mind that only sought applause from others; that easiness of disposition which, though inclined to the right, had not courage to condemn the wrong. I saw with regret those splendid errors, that still took name from some neighbouring duty; your charity, that was but injustice; your benevolence, that was but weakness; and your friendship, but credulity. I saw with regret great talents and extensive learning only employed to add sprightliness to error, and increase your perplexities. I saw your mind with a thousand natural charms; but the greatness of its beauty served only to heighten my pity for its prostitution.
Honey. Cease to upbraid me, Sir: I have for some time but too strongly felt the justice of your reproaches. But there is one way still left me. Yes, Sir, I have determined this very hour to quit for ever a place where I have made myself the voluntary slave of all, and to seek among strangers that fortitude which may give strength to the mind, and marshal all its dissipated virtues. Yet ere I depart, permit me to solicit favour for this gentleman; who, notwithstanding what has happened, has laid me under the most signal obligations. Mr. Lofty.
Lofty. Mr. Honeywood, I'm resolved upon a reformation as well as you. I now begin to find that the man who first invented the art of speaking truth, was a much cunninger fellow than I thought him. And to prove that I design to speak truth for the future, I must now assure you, that you owe your late enlargement to another; as, upon my soul, I had no hand in the matter. So now, if any of the company has a mind for preferment, he may take my place; I'm determined to resign. [Exit.
Honey. How have I been deceived!
Sir Wm. No, Sir, you have been obliged to a kinder, fairer friend, for that favour To Miss Richland. Would she complete our joy, and make the man she has honoured by her friendship happy in her love, I should then forget all, and be as blest as the welfare of my dearest kinsman can make me.
Miss Rich. After what is past it would be but affectation to pretend to indifference. Yes, I will own an attachment, which I find was more than friendship. And if my entreaties cannot alter his resolution to quit the country, I will even try if my hand has not power to detain him. [Giving her hand.
Honey. Heavens! how can I have deserved all this? How express my happiness, my gratitude? A moment like this overpays an age of apprehension.
Cro. Well, now I see content in every face; but Heaven send we be all better this day three months!
Sir Wm. Henceforth, nephew, learn to respect yourself. He who seeks only for applause from without, has all his happiness in another's keeping.
Honey. Yes, Sir, I now too plainly perceive my errors; my vanity, in attempting to please all by fearing to offend any; my meanness, in approving folly lest fools should disapprove. Henceforth, therefore, it shall be my study to reserve my pity for real distress; my friendship for true merit; and my love for her, who first taught me what it is to be happy.
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER;
THE MISTAKES OF A NIGHT.
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D.
By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety.
I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this performance. The undertaking a comedy, not merely sentimental, was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its various stages, always thought it so. However, I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.
I am, dear Sir,
Your most sincere friend and admirer,