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SCENE.-A handsome apartment well lighted, Tea, Cards,
fc.—A large party of Ladies and Gentlemen, among them MELESINDA.
1st Lady. I wonder when the charming man will be here. 2d Lady. He is a delightful creature! Such a polish3d Lady. Such an air in all that he does or says4th Lady. Yet gifted with a strong understanding
5th Lady. But has your ladyship the remotest idea of what his true name is ?
1st Lady. They say his very servants do not know it. His French valet, that has lived with him these two years
2d Lady. There, madam, I must beg leave to set you right: my coachman1st Lady. I have it from the very best authority: my foot2d Lady. Then, madam, you have set your servants on
1st Lady. No, madam, I would scorn any such little mean ways of coming at a secret. For my part, I don't think any secret of that consequence.
2d Lady. That's just like me ; I make a rule of troubling my head with nobody's business but my own.
Melesinda. But, then, she takes care to make everybody's business her own, and so to justify herself that way—(Aside.)
1st Lady. My dear Melesinda, you look thoughtful.
1st Lady. As the object—come, never blush, nor deny it, child. Bless me, what great ugly thing is that that dangles at your bosom?
Melesinda. This ? it is a cross : how do you like it ?
2d Lady. A cross! Well, to me it looks for all the world like a great staring H.
(Here a general laugh.) Melesinda. Malicious creatures ! Believe me it is a cross, and nothing but a cross.
1st Lady. A cross, I believe, you would willingly hang at. Melesinda. Intolerable spite !
(MR. H, is announced.)
Enter Mr. H.
1st Lady. Oh, Mr. H., we are so glad2d Lady. We have been so dull
3d Lady. So perfectly lifeless. You owe it to us, to be more than commonly entertaining.
Mr. H. Ladies, this is so obliging
4th Lady. Oh, Mr. H., those ranunculas you said were dying, pretty things, they have got up
5th Lady. I have worked that sprig you commended-I want you to come
Mr. H. Ladies6th Lady. I have sent for that piece of music from London. Mr. H. The Mozart-(seeing Melesinda)—Melesinda!
Several Ladies at once. Nay, positively, Melesinda, you shan't engross him all to yourself. (While the Ladies are pressing about Mr. H., the
Gentlemen show signs of displeasure.) 1st Gent. We shan't be able to edge in a word, now this coxcomb is come.
2d Gent. Damn him, I will affront him.
1st Gent. Sir, with your leave, I have a word to say to one of these ladies. 2d Gent. If we could be heard
(The Ladies pay no attention but to MR. H.) Mr. H. You see, gentlemen, how the matter stands. (Hums an air.) I am not my own master: positively, I exist and breathe but to be agreeable to these-Did you speak?
1st Gent. And affects absence of mind, puppy!
Mr. H. Who spoke of absence of mind; did you, madam ? How do you do, Lady Wearwell-how do? I did not see your ladyship before—what was I about to say-oh-absence of mind. I am the most unhappy dog in that way, sometimes spurt out the strangest things—the most mal-a-propos—without meaning to give the least offence, upon my honour-sheer absence of mind—things I would have given the world not to have said.
1st Gent. Do you hear the coxcomb ? 1st Lady. Great wits, they say, 2d Lady. You fine geniuses are most given3d Lady. Men of bright parts are commonly too vivacious
Mr. H. But you shall hear. I was to dine the other day at a great nabob's, that must be nameless, who, between ourselves, is strongly suspected of_being very rich, that's all. John, my valet, who knows my foible, cautioned me, while he was dressing me, as he usually does where he thinks there's
a danger of my committing a lapsus, to take care in my conversation how I made any allusion direct or indirect to presents -you understand me ? I set out double charged with my fellow's consideration and my own; and, to do myself justice, behaved with tolerable circumspection for the first half hour or so—till at last a gentleman in company, who was indulg. ing a free vein of raillery at the expense of the ladies, stumbled
upon that expression of the poet which calls them “fair defects."
1st Lady. It is Pope, I believe, who says it.
Mr. H. No, madam ; Milton. Where was I ? Oh, “ fair defects.” This gave occasion to a critic in company to deliver his opinion on the phrase—that led to an enumeration of all the various words which might have been used instead of “defects," as want, absence, poverty, deficiency, lack. This moment I, (who had not been attending to the progress of the argument, as the denouement will show,) starting suddenly up out of one of my reveries, by some unfortunate connexion of ideas, which the last fatal word had excited, the devil put
it into my head to turn round to the nabob, who was sitting next me, and in a very marked manner (as it seemed to the company) to put the question to him, “ Pray, sir, what may be the exact value of a lack of rupees ?” You may guess the confusion which followed.
1st Lady. What a distressing circumstance !
Mr. H. A baronet at the table, seeing my dilemma, jogged my elbow; and a good-natured duchess, who does everything with a grace peculiar to herself, trod on my toes at that instant: this brought me to myself, and-covered with blushes, and pitied by all the ladies – I withdrew.
1st Lady. How charmingly he tells a story. 2d Lady. But how distressing!
Mr. H. Lord Squandercounsel, who is my particular friend, was pleased to rally me in his inimitable way upon it next day. I shall never forget a sensible thing he said on the occasion-speaking of absence of mind, my foible-says he, My dear Hogs
Several Ladies. Hogs—what-ha
Mr. H. My dear Hogsflesh-my name—(here a universal scream)-oh, my cursed unfortunate tongue ! H., I meanwhere was I ?
1st Lady. Filthy-abominable !
2d Lady. Unutterable !
3d Lady. A smelling-bottle-look to Miss Melesinda. Poor thing ! it is no wonder. You had better keep off from her, Mr. Hogsflesh, and not be pressing about her in her circumstances.
1st Gent. Good time of day to you, Mr. Hogsflesh.
2d Gent. The compliments of the season to you, Mr. Hogsflesh.
Mr. H. This is too much-flesh and blood cannot endure it.
1st Gent. What flesh ?-hog's-flesh ?
Mr. H. A hog Madam !-(here he severally accosts the ladies, who by turns repel him.)
1st Lady. Extremely obliged to you for your attentions ; but don't want a partner.
2d Lady. Greatly flattered by your preference; but believe I shall remain single.
3d Lady. Shall always acknowledge your politeness ; but have no thoughts of altering my condition.
4th Lady. Always be happy to respect you as a friend; but you must not look for anything further.
5th Lady. No doubt of your ability to make any woman happy ; but have no thoughts of changing my name.
6th Lady. Must tell you, sir, that if by your insinuations you think to prevail with me, you have got the wrong sow by
Does he think any lady would go to pig with him. Old Lady. Must beg you to be less particular in your addresses to me. Does he take me for a Jew, to long after forbidden meats.
Mr. H. I shall go mad! to be refused by old Mother Damnable-she that's so old, nobody knows whether she was ever married or no, but passes for a maid by courtesy; her juvenile exploits being beyond the farthest stretch of tradition ! old Mother Damnable !
[Exeunt all, either pitying or seeming to avoid him.
SCENE.— The Street.
BELVIL and another Gentleman. Belvil. Poor Jack, I am really sorry for him. The account which you give me of his mortifying change of reception at the assembly would be highly diverting, if it gave me less pain to hear it. With all his amusing absurdities, and among them not the least, a predominant desire to be thought well of by the fair sex, he has an abundant share of good-nature, and is a man of honour. Notwithstanding all that has happened, Melesinda may do worse than take him yet. But did the women resent it so deeply as you say?
Gent. Oh, intolerably—they fled him as fearfully when 'twas once blown, as a man would be avoided who was suddenly discovered to have marks of the plague, and as fast; when before they had been ready to devour the foolishest thing he could say.
Belvil. Ha !-ha! so frail is the tenure by which these women's favourites commonly hold their envied pre-eminence. Well, I must go find him out and comfort him. I suppose I shall find him at the inn. Gent. Either there or at Melesinda's. Adieu.
[Exeunt. SCENE.—Mr. H—'s Apartment. Mr. II. (solus.) Was ever anything so mortifying ? to be refused by old Mother Damnable !—with such parts and address, and the little squeamish devils, to dislike me for a name, a sound—oh, my cursed name ! that it was something I could be revenged on! if it were alive, that I might tread upon it, or crush it, or pummel it, or kick it, or spit it out-for it sticks in my throat and will choke me.
My plaguy ancestors ! if they had left me but a Van or a Mac, or an Irish O', it had been something to qualify it—Mynheer Van Hogsflesh, or Sawney Mac Hogsflesh, or Sir Phelim O'Hogsflesh, but downright blunt If it had been any oth
the world, I could have borne it. it had been the name of a beast, as Bull, Fox, Kid, Lamb, Wolf, Lion; or of a bird, as Sparrow, Hawk, Buzzard, Daw, Finch, Nightingale ; or of a fish, as Sprat, Herring, Salmon; or the name of a thing, as Ginger, Hay, Wood; or of a colour, as Black, Gray, White, Green; or of a sound, as Bray; or the name of a month, as March, May; or of a place, as Barnet, Baldock, Hitchen ; or the name of a coin, as Farthing, Penny, Twopenny; or of a profession, as Butcher, Baker, Carpenter,