« PreviousContinue »
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged ; this candour tells me I shall not have the fault of self-conceit to combat; that, at least, is not amongst the number.
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth who thought more humbly of me than I do of myself, I would take up his opinion and forego my own.
Stock. And, was I to chuse a pupil, it should be one of your complexion; so if you will come along with me, we will agree upon your admission, and enter upon a course of lectures directly. Bel. With all my heart.
LORD EUSTACE AND FRAMPTON.
Ld. Eust. WELL, my dear Frampton, have you secured the letters ?
Fram. Yes, my Lord; for their rightful owners.
Ld. Eust. As to the matter of property, Frampton, we will not dispute much about that. Necessity, you know, may sometimes render a trespass excusable.
Fram. I am not casuist sufficient to answer you on that subject; but this I know, that you have already trespassed against the laws of hospitality and honour, in
your conduct towards Sir William Evans and his daughter And as your friend and counsellor both, I would advise you to think seriously of repairing the injuries you have committed, and not increase your offence, by a farther violation.
Ld. Eust. It is actually a pity you were not bred to the bar, Ned; but I have only a moment to stay, and am all impatience to know, if there be a letter from Langwood, and what he says.
Fram. I shall never be able to afford you the least information upon that subject, my lord.
Ld. Eust. Surely, I do not understand you. You said you had secured the letters Have you not read them?
Fram. You have a right, and none but you, to ask me such a question. My weak compliance with your first proposal relative to these letters, warrants your thinking so meanly of me. But know, my lord, that though my personal affection for you, joined to my unhappy circumstances, may have betrayed me to actions unworthy of myself. I never can forget, that there is a barrier fixed before the extreme of baseness, which honour will not let me pass. Ld. Eust. You will give me leave to tel} you,
Mr. Frampton, that where I lead, I think you need not halt.
Fram. You will pardon me, my lord; the conciousness of another man's errors, can never be a justification for our own; and poor indeed must that wretch be, who can be satisfied with the negative merit of not being the worst man he knows.
Ld. Eust. If this discourse were uttered in a coventicle, it might have its effect; by setting the congregation to sleep.
Fram. It is rather meant to rouse, than lull your lord. ship.
Ld. Eust. No matter what it is meant for ; give me the letters, Mr. Frampton.
Fram, Yet, excuse me. I could as soon think of arming a madman's hand against my own life, as suffer you to be guilty of a crime, that will for ever wound your honour.
Ld. Eust. I shall not come to you to heal the wound: your medicines are too rough and coarse for me :
Fram. The soft poison of flattery might, perhaps, please you better.
Ld. Eust. Your conscience may, probably, have as much need of palliatives, as mine, Mr. Frampton, as I am pretty well convinced, that your course of life, has not been more regular than my own.
Fram. With true contrition, my lord, I confess part of your sarcasm to be just. Pleasure was the object of my pursuit ; and pleasure I obtained, at the expenee, both of health, and fortune : but yet, my lord, I broke: not in upon the peace of others ; the laws of hospitality I never violated ; nor did. I ever seek to injure, or seduce, the wife or daughter of my friend.
Ld. Eust. I care not what you did ; give me the leto ters.
Fram. I have no right to keep, and therefore shall surrender them, though with the utmost reluctance; but, by our former friendship, I entreat you not to open them. Ld. Eust. That you have forfeited.
. Fram. Since it is not in my power to preyent your committing an error, which you ought for ever to repent of, I will not be a witness of it. There are the letters.
Ld. Eust. You may, perhaps, have cause to repent your present conduct, Mr. Frampton, as much as I do our past attachment.
Fram. Rather than hold your friendship uport such terms, I resign it forever. Farewel, my lord.
Re-enter Frampton. Fram. Ill treated as I have been, my lord, I find it im. possible to leave you surrounded by difficulties,
Ld. Eust. That sentiment should have operated sooner, Mr. Frampton. Recollection is seldom of use to our friends, though it may sometimes be serviceable to ourselves.
Fram. Take advantage of your own expression, my lord, and recollect yourself. Born and edacated, as I have been, a gentleman, how have you injured both yourself and me, by admitting and uniting, in the same confidence, your rascally servant !
Ld. Eust. The exigency of my situation is a sufficient excuse to myself, and ought to have been so to the nan: who called himself my friendo
of a pre
Fram. Have a care, my lord, of uttering the least doubt upon that subject; for could I think you once mean enough to suspect the sincerity of my attachment to you, it must vanish at that instant.
Ld. Eust. The proofs of your regard have been rather painful of late, Mr. Frampton.
Fram. When I friend upon cipice, is that a time for compliment ? Shall I not rudely rush forward, and drag him from it? Just in that state you are at present, and I will strive to save you. Virtue may languish in a noble heart, and suffer her rival, vice, to usurp her power ; but þaşeness must not enter, or she flies for ever. The man who has forfeited his own esteem, thinks all the world has the same conciousness, and therefore is what he deserves to be, a wretch.
Ld. Eust. On, Frampton! you have lodged a dagger in my heart.
Fram. No, my dear Eustace, I have saved you from one, from your own reproaches, by preventing your being guilty of a meanness, which you could never have forgiven yourself.
Ld. Eust. Can you forgive me, and be still my friend ?
Fram. As firmly as I have ever been, my lord. But let us, at present, hasten to get rid of the mean business we are engaged in, and forward the letters we have no right to detain.
SCHOOL FOR RAKES.
Duke. NOW, my co-mates and brothers in exile, Hath not old custom made this life more sweet Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
-Come, shall we go, and kill us venison ?
Lord. Indeed, my Lord, The melancholy Jaques grieves much at that; And in that kind swears you do more usurp Than doth your brother that hath banished you. To day my Lord of Ameins, and myself, Did steal behind him as he lay along Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out Upon the brook that brawls along this wood: To the which place a poor sequestered stag, That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt, Did eome to languish ; and, indeed my Lord, The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat Almost to bursting; and the big round tears Cours'd one another down his innocent nose In piteous chase! and thus the hairy fool, Much marked of the melancholy Jaques, Stood on th' extremest verge of the swift brook, Augmenting it with tears.