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Sir John. Let my daughter know the king has sent for me, and I am gone to court to wait on his majesty, Joe. Yes, Sir.
SCENE II. The Court at Westminster. *
King. Well, my lords, our old friend the Miller of Mansfield is arrived at last.
First Courtier. He has been in town two or three days; has not your Majesty seen him yet?
King. No, but I have sent for him to attend me this evening; and I design, with only you my Lords, who are now present, to entertain myself a while with his hobest freedom. He will be here presently.
Second Courtier. He must certainly divert your Majesty:
Third Courtier. He may be diverting, perhaps ; but if I may speak my mind freely, I think there is something too plain and rough in his behaviour for your Majesty to bear.
King. Your lordship, perhaps, may be afraid of plain truth and sincerity, but I am not.
Third Courtier. I beg your Majesty's pardon ; I did not suppose you were; I only think there is a certain awe and reverence due to your Majesty, which I am afraid his want of politeness may make him transgress.
King. My lord, whilst I love my subjects, and preserve to them all their rights and liberties, I doubt not of meeting with a proper respect from an abundant majority of them. As for the awe and reverence you speak of, if it be for the public good, (as in some respects it may,) I submit to it-yet as a penance. I love it not. I will, that all my subjects treat me with sincerity. An honest freedom of speech, as it is every honest man's
* See The Old Ballad.
right, so none can be afraid of it but he that is conscious to himself of ill-deservings. Sound maxims, and right conduct, can never be brought under a just ridicule; and where the contrary prevail, the severest censure is the greatest kindness. Such plainness as that of the honest miller offends me not.
Third Courtier. I believe your Majesty is in the right, and I stand corrected.
Enter a GENTLEMAN. Gent. May it please your Majesty, here is a person who calls himself Sir John Cockle, the Miller of Mausfield, begs admittance to your Majesty. King. Conduct him in.
Enter Sir John. King. Honest Sir John Cockle, you are welcome to London.
Sir John. I thank your Majesty for the honour you do me, and am glad to find your Majesty in good health.
King. But pray, Sir John, why in the habit of a miller yet? What I gave you, was with a design to set you above the mean dependence of a trade for subsistence.
Sir John. Your Majesty will pardon my freedom. Whilst my trade will support me, I am independent, and I look upon that to be more honourable in an Englishman than any dependence whatsoever. I am a plain, blunt man, and may possibly, some time or other, of. fend your Majesty; and where then is my subsistence ?
King. And dare you not trust the honour of a King?
Sir John. Without doubt I might trust your Majesty very safely ; but in general, though the honour of Kings ought to be more sacred, the humour of Kings is like that of other men; and when they please to change their mind, who shall dare to call their honour in question ?
King. Sir John, you are in the right, and I am glad to see you maintain that noble freedom of spirit: I wish all my subjects were as independent on me as you resolve to be; I should then hear more truth and less flattery,
But come, what news? How does my lady and your son Richard ?
Sir John. I thank your Majesty, Margery is very well, and so is Dick.
King. I hope you have brought them up to town with
Sir John. No; I have only brought my daughter ; and her, rather to be under my eye than any thing else.
King. Why so, Sir John?
Sir John. You shall hear. When I was only plain John Cockle, the Miller of Mansfield, a farmer's son in the neighbourhood made love to my daughter. He was a worthy, honest man. He loved my daughter sin cerely, and, to all appearance, her affections were placed on him. I approv'd of the match, and gave him my consent. But when your Majesty's bounty had raised my fortune and condition, my daughter Kate became Miss Kitty: she grew a fine girl, and was presently taken notice of by the young gentlemen of the country. Among the rest, Sir Timothy Flash, a young, rakish, extravagant knight, made his addresses to her; his title, his dress, his equipage, dazzled her eyes and her understanding; and fond, I suppose, of being made a lady, she despises and forsakes her first lover, the honest farmer, and is determined to marry this mad, wrongheaded knight.
King. And is this the occasion of your displeasure ? I should think you had rather cause to rejoice that she was so prúdent. What! do you think it no advantage to your daughter, nor honour to yourself, to be allied to so great a man?
Sir John. It may be an honour to he allied to a great man, when a great man is a man of honour; but that is not always the case. Besides, nothing that is unjust, can be either prudent or honourable: and the breaking her faith and promise with a man that loved, and every way deserved her, merely for the sake of a little vanity,
or self-interest, is an action that I am ashamed my daughter could be guilty of.
King. Why you are the most extraordinary man I ever knew : I have heard of fathers quarrelling with their children for marrying foolishly for love; but you are so singular as to blame your's for marrying wisely for interest.
Sir John. Why, I may differ a little from the common practice of my neighbours But I hope your Majesty does not, therefore, think me to blame.
King. No: singularity in the right, is never a crime.* If you are satisfied your actions are just, let the world blush that they are singular.
Sir John. Nay, and I am, perhaps, not so regardless of interest as your Majesty may apprehend. It is very possible a knight, or even a Lord, may be poor as well as a farmer. No offence, I hope.
[Turning to the Courtiers. Courtier. No, no, no. Impertinent fellow! [Aside.
King. Well, Sir John, I shall be glad to hear more of this affair another time; but tell me how you like London. Your son Richard, I remember, gave a very satirical description of it; I hope you are better entertained ?
Sir John. So well, that I assure your Majesty, I am in admiration and wonder all day long.
King. Ay! Well, let us hear what it is you admire and wonder at?
Sir John. Almost every thing I see or hear of. When I see the splendor and magnificence in which some noble. men appear, I admire their riches; but when I hear of their debts, and their mortgages, I wonder at their folly. When I hear of a dinner costing an hundred pounds, I am surpriz'd that one man should have so many friends to entertain ; but when I am told, that it was made only for half a score squeamish lords, and as many dainty ladies, that eat not, perhaps, an ounce a-piece, I am quite astonish'd. When I hear of an estate of twenty or thirty thousand a year, I envy the man that has it in his power to do so much good, and wonder how he disposes of it; but when I am told of the expences, called by one sort of persons the necessary expences of a gentleman in horses and dogs, and eating and drinking, and dressing and gaming, and bad women into the bargain, I am surpriz'd that the poor man is able to live. In short, when I consider our public credit, our honour, our courage, our freedom, our public spirit, I am surpriz’d, amaz’d, astonished, and confounded.
* BISHOP Wilson, in his MAXIMS, article SINGULARITY, says, “ If a man is alone in doing bis duty, he has the more reason “ to be thankful to God, and not to be ashamed of it before men." And, again, under the article APPAREL,“ Singularity may be “ blameable, but modesty in diess is not singularity, tbough the "" world be never so extravagant."
First Courtier. Ís not this bold, Sir!
Sir John. Perhaps it may; but I suppose his Majesty would not have an Englishman afraid to speak his mind freely with respect ?
King. Far from it. Let the generous spirit of freedom reign in my dominions. To speak his mind, is the undoubted right of every Briton, and of every man, so long as he speaks the words of truth and justice, -not forgetting that every thing has its due time: and be it the glory of my reign, that all my subjects enjoy that honest liberty. 'Tis my wish to redress all grievances; te right all wrongs : but kings, alas! are but fallible men; errors in government will happen, as well as failings in private life, and ought to be candidly imputed. And let me ask you one question, Sir John. Do you really think you could honestly withstand all the temptations that wealth and power would lay before you?
Sir John. I will not boast before your Majesty ; perhaps I could not. Yet, give me leave to say, the man whom wealth or power can make a villain, is surely unworthy of possessing either.
King. Suppose self-interest too should clash with public duty ?
Sir John. Suppose it should: 'tis always a man's duty to be just; and doubly his, with whom the public trust their rights and liberties.