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Enter RICHARD. Rich. Dear mother, how do you do? I thought you would not have let me in.
Margery. Dear child, I'm overjoyed to see thee; but I was so frighted, I did not know what to do. I thought it had been a spirit.
Rich. Dear mother, why will you give way to such superstitious fears, frightening yourself and others? We have no sufficient reason to think that the departed are permitted to appear to the living; and, if they were, why should those who mean no harm to others fear any thing for themselves ?
Kate. Dear brother, I am glad to see you; how have you done this long while? Rich. Very well, Kate. But where's
father? Margery. He heard a gun go off just now, and he's gone to see who 'tis.
Rich. What, they love venison at Mansfield as well as ever, I suppose ?
Kute. Ay, and they will have it too.
Miller (without.] Hoa! Madge! Kate! bring a light here.
Margery. Yonder he is.
Enter the King and the MILLER. Margery. Who have you got?
Miller. I have brought thee a stranger, Madge; thou must give him a supper, and a lodging if thou can'st.
Margery. You have got a better stranger of your own, I can tell you: Dick's come.
Miller. Dick! Where is he? Why Dick, Ilow is't,
Rich. Very well, I thank you,
father. King. A little more, and you had push'd me down.
Miller. Truly, Sir, you must excuse me; I was overjoy'd to see my boy. He has been at London, and I have not seen him these four years.
King. Well, I shall once in my life have the happiness of being treated as a common man; and of seeing human nature without disguise. *
[Aside. Miller. What has brought thee home so unexpected ? Rich. You will know that presently.
Miller. Of that by-and-by then. We have got the King down in the Forest a hunting this season, and this honest gentleman, who came down with his Majesty from London, has been with 'em to-day, it seems, and has lost his way. Come, Madge, see what thou can’st get for supper. Kill a couple of the best fowls; and go you, Kate, and draw a pitcher of ale. [Exeunt Margery and Kate.] We are famous, Sir, at Mansfield, for good ale, and for honest féllows that know how to drink it.
King. Good ale will be acceptable, at present, for I am very dry. But pray, how came your son to leave · you, and go
to London ? Miller. Why, that's a story which Dick, perhaps, won't like to have told.
King. Then I don't desire to hear it.
horn. Miller. So, now do you go help your mother. [Exit Kate.] Sir, my hearty service to you.
King. Thank ye, Sir. This plain sincerity and freedom, is a happiness little known to kings. [Aside.
Miller. Come, Sir.
* In the Miscellaneous Thoughts, and Directions, chiefy Moral, (Sect. ix.) at the end of Book !!. of Burgh's excellent work on The Dignity of Human Nature. (Edn. 1795. p. 396.) I find the following very remarkable sentence :
" Are not the great happiest when most free of the incombrances. " of greatness ? Is there then any happiness in greatness 8"?
Rich. Seen! I have seen more than I like, and heard more than will come true.
Miller. What dost thou mean?
Rich. To be serious then, I have seen the disappoint. ment of my hopes and expectations ; and that's more than one would wish to see.
Miller. What! would the great man, thou wast recommended to, do nothing at all for thee at last?
Rich. Why, yes; he would promise me to the last.
Rich. No, no; he never troubled his head to think, whether I eat at all or not. I have now dangled after his lordship several years, tantaliz'd with hopes and expectations; this year promised one place, the next another, and the third, in certain hope of a disappointment. One falls, and it was promised before; another, and I am just half an hour too late; a third, and it stops the mouth of a creditor; a fourth, and it pays the hire of a fatterer; a fifth, and it bribes a vote; and, the sixth, I am promised still. But, having thus slept away some years, I awoke from my dream: my lord, I found, was so far from having it in his power to get a place for me, that he had been all this while seeking after one for himself.
Miller. Poor Dick ! And was thy plain honesty then no recommendation ?
Rich. It might have recommended to be a footman, perhaps, but nothing further, nothing further. I found that if I looked higher, I must furnish myself with other qualifications:I must learn to say Ay, or No; to run, or stand; to fetch, or carry, or leap over a stick at the word of command.
King. I hope you do not mean that all great men are like him you speak of. You do not consider that I am a courtier.
Rich. Not I, indeed; 'tis no concern of mine what you are, .
I make no general characters of people; so, I hope, what I have said is not disagreeable to your worship. There are good men amongst great, I dare say, and I hope you may be one.
King. Nay, I do not want to be flatter'd, so let that pass. Here's better success to you the next time you come to London.
Rich. I thank ye; but I don't design to see it again in haste.
Miller. No, no, Dick; instead of depending upon a lord's promise, depend upon the labour of thine own hands; expect nothing but what thou can’st earn, and then thou wilt not be disappointed. But come, I want a description of London; thou hast told us nothing thou hást seen yet.
Rich. O! tis a fine place! I have seen large houses with small hospitality; great men do little actions; and fine ladies do nothing at all. I have seen the honest lawyers of Westminster-hall, and the virtuous inhabitants of 'Change-Alley; the politic madmen of coffeehouses, and the wise statesmen of Bedlam. I have seen merry tragedies, and sad comedies; devotion at an opera, and mirth at a sermon; I have seen fine clothes at St. James's, and long bills at Ludgate-Hill. I have seen poor grandeur, and rich poverty; high honours, and low flattery ; great pride, and no merit. Pray how do you like London?
Miller. And is this the best description" thou canst give of it?
Rich. I love to speak truth, Sir; if that happens to be satire, I can't help it.
King. You speak, I believe, like many others who have been disappointed in their hopes.
Miller. Well ! if this is London, give me my country cottage; which, tho' it is not a great house, nor a fine house, is my own house, and I can shew a receipt for the building on't. But come, Sir, while my wife is getting our supper ready for us, I will shew you my little habitation, and the bed where you must rest. To such as I have, you're welcome as a prince. King. I thank you.
SCENE V. The Wood.
Enter several KEEPERS. First Keeper. The report of a gun was somewhere this way, I'm sure.
Second Keeper. Yes; but I can never believe that any body would come a deer-stealing so dark a night as this.
Third Keeper. Where did the deer harbour to-day? Fourth Keeper. There was a herd lay upon HamiltonHill, another just by Robin Hood's Chair, and a third here in Mansfield wood.
First Keeper. Ay; those they have been amongst.
Second Keeper. But we shall never be able to find 'em to-night, 'tis so dark.
Third Keeper. No, no; let's go back again.
First Keeper. You're afraid of a broken head, I suppose, if we should find’em; and so had rather slink back again. Hark! stand close. I hear 'em coming
Enter the COURTIERS. First Courtier. Did not you hear somebody just now? I begin to be afraid we shall meet with some misfortune to-night.
Second Courtier. Why, if any body should take what we have got, we have made a fine business of it.
Third Courtier. Let them take it if they will ; I am so tir'd I shall make but small resistance.
[The Keepers rush upon them. Second Keeper. Ay, rogues, rascals, and villains; you have got it, have you ?
Second Courtier. Indeed we have got but very little, but what we have you're welcome to, if you will but use us civilly