Page images

the city. Sue knows the rascal to a hair's-breadth, and will fit him accordingly.

Thor. What is the other gentleman ?

Car. One Somerton; the honester man of the two, by five pound in every stone-weight. A civil fellow; he has a fine convenient estate of land in Westham, by Essex: master Ranges, that dwells by Enfield, sent him hither. He likes Kate well; I may tell you, I think she likes him as well: if they agree, I'll not hinder the match for my part. But that Warbeck is such another-I use him kindly for master Somerton's sake; for he came hither first as a companion of his: honest men, master Thorney, may fall into knaves' company now and then.

War. Three hundred a-year jointure, Sue.

Sus. Where lies it!
By sea or land? I think by sea.
War. Do I look like a captain ?

Sus. Not a whit, sir.
Should all that use the seas be reckon'd captains,
There's not a ship should have a scullion in her
To keep her clean.

War. Do you scorn me, mistress Susan ?
Am I a subject to be jeer'd at?

Enter FRANK. Car. Master Francis Thorney, you are welcome indeed; your father expected your coming. How does the right worshipful knight, Sir Arthur Clarington, your master? Frank. In health this morning. Sir, my duty.

Thor. Now
You come as I could wish.
War. Frank Thorney ? ha!

[.Aside. Sus. You must excuse me.

Frank. Virtuous mistress Susan. Kind mistress Katherine.—[Kisses them.Gentle.

men, to both Good time o' th' day.

Will you go

Som. The like to you.

War. 'Tis he: A word, friend.-[Aside to Som.]On my life, this is

the man Stands fair in crossing Susan's love to me. Som. I think no less; be wise and take no notice

He that can win her, best deserves her.

War. Marry
A serving-man? mew!

Som. Prithee, friend, no more.

Car. Gentlemen all, there's within a slight dinner ready, if you please to taste of it. Master Thorney, master Francis, master Somerton !-Why, girls! what, huswives! will you spend all your forenoon in tittle-tattles ? away ; it's well, i'faith. in, gentlemen ?

Thor. We'll follow presently; my son and I
Have a few words of business.
Car. At your pleasure.

(Exeunt all but THORNEY and FRANK. Thor. I think you guess the reason, Frank, for

which I sent for you.

Frank. Yes, sir.

Thor. I need not tell you With what a labyrinth of dangers daily The best part of my whole estate's encumber'd; Nor have I any clew to wind it out, But what occasion proffers me; wherein, If you should falter, I shall have the shame, And you the loss. On these two points rely Our happiness or ruin. If you marry With wealthy Carter's daughter, there's a portion Will free my land; all which I will instate, Upon the marriage, to you: otherwise I must be of necessity enforced To make a present sale of all; For aught I know, live in as poor distress,

and yet,

Or worse, than now I do; you hear the sum :
I told you thus before ; have you consider'd

Frank. I have, sir; and however I could wish
To enjoy the benefit of single freedom,
For that I find no disposition in me
To undergo the burden of that care
That marriage brings with it; yet to secure
And settle the continuance of your credit,
I humbly yield to be directed by you
In all commands.

Thor. You have already used
Such thriving protestations to the maid,
That she is wholly yours; and—speak the truth,-
You love her, do you not?

Frank. ’T were pity, sir,
I should deceive her.

Thor. Better you had been unborn.
But is your love so steady, that you mean,
Nay, more, desire, to make her your wife ?

Frank. Else, sir,
It were a wrong not to be righted.

Thor. True,
It were: and you will marry her?

Frank. Heaven prosper it,
I do intend it.

Thor. Oh, thou art a villain!
A devil like a man! Wherein have I
Offended all the powers so much, to be
Father to such a graceless, godless son?

Frank. To me, sir, this! Oh, my cleft heart!

Thor. To thee, Son of my curse. Speak truth, and blush, thou

Hast thou not married Winnifrede, a maid
Was fellow-servant with thee?

Frank. Some swift spirit
Has blown this news abroad; I must outface it.

(Aside. Thor. Do you study for excuse ? why all the

country is full on't.

Frank. With your license, 't is not charitable,
I'm sure it is not fatherly, so much
To be o'ersway'd with credulous conceit
Of mere impossibilities; but fathers
Are privileged to think and talk at pleasure.
Thor. Why, canst thou yet deny thou hast no

Frank. What do you take me for? an atheist?
One that nor hopes the blessedness of life
Hereafter, neither fears the vengeance due
To such as make the marriage-bed an inn?
Am I become so insensible of losing
The glory of creation's work, my soul ?
Oh, I have lived too long!

Thor. Thou hast, dissembler.
Durst thou perséver yet, and pull down wrath
As hot as flames of hell, to strike thee quick
Into the grave of horror? I believe thee not;
Get from my sight!

Frank. Sir, though mine innocence
Needs not a stronger witness than the clearness
Of an imperish'd conscience; yet for that
I was inform’d, how mainly you had been
Possess'd of this untruth, to quit all scruple,
Please you peruse this letter; 't is to you.

Thor. From whom?
Frank. Sir Arthur Clarington, my master.
Thor. Well, sir.

Frank. On every side I am distracted;
Am waded deeper into mischief
Than virtue can avoid; but on I must:
Fate leads me; I will follow.'—[ Aside.]—There you

read What may confirm you.

on I must : Fate leads me; I will follow.) With the usual inconsistency of



Thor. Yes, and wonder at it.
Forgive me, Frank; credulity abus'd me.
My tears express my joy; and I am sorry
I injured innocence.

Frank. Alas! I knew
Your rage and grief.proceeded from your love
To me; so I conceiv'd it.

Thor. My good son,
I'll bear with many faults in thee hereafter;
Bear thou with mine.
Frank. The peace is soon concluded.

Re-enter Old CARTER and Susan. Car. Why, master Thorney, do you mean to talk out your dinner ? the company attends your coming. What must it be, master Frank, or son Frank? I am plain Dunstable.'

Thor. Son. brother, if your daughter like to have

it so.

Frank. I dare be confident, she is not alter'd
From what I left her at our parting last:-
Are you, fair maid?

Sus. You took too sure possession
Of an engaged heart.

Frank. Which now I challenge.

Car. Marry, and much good may it do thee, son. Take her to thee: and when's the day?

Thor. To-morrow, if you please. To use ceremony Of charge and custom were to little purpose; Their loves are married fast enough already.

those who seek to smother their conscience by plunging deeper into guilt, Frank observes, just below, that the fate which here “leads him on," pursues him!-Gifford.

i I am plain Dunstable,] i. e. blunt and honest. The proverb is of very ancient date, and is not even yet quite worn out; only, as Sir Hugh says, the phrase is a little variations : for, with the usual propensity of our countrymen to assist the memory by alliteration, a man like Carter is now downright Dunstable.-GIFFORD. “As plain as Dunstable road” occurs among the Proverbs of Bedfordshire, given by Fuller in his Worthies; and hence, no doubt, the application of the phrase to plain and honest people.

« PreviousContinue »