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observed in me or my conduct, that you desire me so familiarly to break my word? I thought, Sir, you considered me as a man of honour.
Sir Har. And so I do, Sir, a man of the nicest honour. Riv. And yet, Sir, you ask me to violate the sanctity of my word; and tell me directly, that it is my interest to be a rascal.
Sir Har. I really don't understand you, Colonel: I thought, when I was talking to you, I was talking to a man who knew the world; and as you have not yet signed
Riv. Why, this is mending matters with a witness! And so you think, because I am not legally bound, I am under no necessity of keeping my word! Sir Harry, laws were never made for men of honour; they want no bond but the rectitude of their own sentiments, and laws are of no use but to bind the villains of society.
Sir Har. Well! but my dear Colonel, if you regard for me, show some little regard for your daughter. Riv. I show the greatest regard for any daughter by giving her to a man of honour: and I must not be insulted with any farther repetition of your proposals
Sir Har. Insult you, Colonel! Is the offer of my alliance an insult? Is my readiness to make what settlements you think proper
Riv. Sir Harry, I should consider the offer of a kingdom an insult, if it was to be purchased by the violation of my word: Besides, though my daughter shall never go a beggar to the arms of her husband, I would rather see her happy than rich; and if she has enough to provide handsomely for a young family, and something to spare for the exigencies of a worthy friend, I shall think her as affluent as if she was mistress of Mexico.
Sir Har. Well, Colonel, I have done: but I believeRiv. Well, Sir Harry, and as our conference is done, we will, if you please, retire to the ladies: I shall be always glad of your acquaintance, though I cannot receive you as a son-in-law; for a union of interests I look upon of dishonour; and consider a marriage for money, but a legal prostitution.
SIR JOHN MELVIL AND STERLING.
Sterl. WHAT are your commands with me, Sir John ? Sir John. After having carried the negotiation between our families to so great a length, after having assented so readily to all your proposals, as well as received so many instances of your cheerful compliance with the demands made on our part, I am extremely concerned, Mr. Sterling, to be the involuntary cause of any uneasiness.
Sterl. Uneasiness! what uneasiness? Where business is transacted as it ought to be, and the parties understand one another, there can be no uneasiness? You agree, on such and such conditions, to receive my daughter for a wife; on the same conditions I agree, to receive you as a son-in-law: and as to all the rest, it follows of course, you know, as regularly as the payment of a bill after acceptance.
Sir John. Pardon me, Sir; more uneasiness has arisen, than you are aware of. I am myself, at this instant, ma state of inexpressible embarrassment; Miss Sterling, I know, is extremely disconcerted too; and unless you will oblige me with the assistance of your friendship, I foresee the speedy progress of discontent and animosity through the whole family.
Sterl. What the deuce is all this! I do not understand a single syllable.
Sir John. In one word then, it will be absolutely impossible for me to fulfil my engagements in regard to Miss Sterling.
Sterl. How, Sir John? Do you mean to put an affront upon my family? What! refuse to
Sir John. Be assured, Sir, that I neither mean to affront nor forsake your family. My only fear is, that you should desert me: for the whole happiness of my life depends on my being connected with your family by the nearest and tenderest ties in the world.
Sterl. Why, did not you tell me, not a moment ago, it was absolutely impossible for you to marry my daughter? Sir John. True: but you have another daughter, Sir— Sterl. Well!
Sir John. Who has obtained the most absolute dominion over my heart. I have already declared my passion to her nay, Miss Sterling herself is also apprised of it, and if you will but give a sanction to my present addresses, the uncommon merit of Miss Sterling will, no doubt, recommend her to a person of equal, if not superior rank to myself, and our families may still be allied by my union with Miss Fammy.
Sterl. Mighty fine, truly! Why, what the plague do you make of us, Sir John? Do you come to market for my daughters, like servants at a statute-fair? Do you think, that I will suffer you, or any man in the world, to come into my house like the Grand Seignior, and throw the handkerchief first to one, and then to the other, just as he pleases? Do you think drive a kind of African slave-trade with them? and
Sir John. A moment's patience, Sir! Nothing but the excess of my passion for Miss Fanny should have induced me to take any step, that had the least appearance of disrespect to any part of your family; and even now I am desirous to atone for my transgression, by making the most adequate compensation that lies in my power.
Sterl. Compensation! what compensation can you possibly make in such a case as this, Sir John?
Sir John. Come, come, Mr. Sterling; I know you to be a man of sense, and a man of business, a man of the world. I will deal frankly with you; and you shall see, that I do not desire a change of measures for my own gratification, without endeavouring to make it advantageous to you.
Sterl. What advantage can your inconstancy be to me, Sir John?
Sir John. I will tell you, Sir. You know, that, by the articles at present subsisting between us, on the day of my marriage with Miss Sterling, you agree to pay down the gross sum of eighty thousand pounds.
*Sir John. Now if you will but consent to my waving that marriage
Sterl. I agree to your waving that marriage! Impossible, Sir John!
Sir John, I hope not, Sir; as, on my part, I will agree
to wave my right to thirty thousand pounds of the fortune I was to receive with her.
Sterl. Thirty thousand, do you say?
Sir John. Yes, Sir; and accept of Miss Fanny, with fifty thousand instead of fourscore.
Sterl. Fifty thousand
Sir John. Instead of fourscore.
Sterl. Why, why, there may be something in that.— Let me see; Fanny with fifty thousand instead of Betsy with fourscore. But how can this be, Sir John? For you know I am to pay this money into the hands of my Lord Ogleby; who, I believe, betwixt you and me, Sir John, is not overstocked with ready money at present; and threescore thousand of it, you know, are to go to pay off the present incumbrances on the estate, Sir John.
Sir John. That objection is easily obviated. Ten of the twenty thousand, which would remain as a surplus of the fourscore, after paying off the mortgage, was intended by his lordship for my use, that we might set off with some little eclat on our marriage; and the other ten for his own. Ten thousand pounds therefore I shall be able to pay you immediately; and for the remaining twenty thousand you shall have a mortgage on that part of the estate which is to be made over to me, with whatever security you shall require for the regular payment of the interest, till the principal is duly discharged.
Sterl. Why, to do you justice, Sir John, there is something fair and open in your proposal; and since I find you do not mean to put an affront upon the family
Sir John. Nothing was ever farther from my thoughts, Mr. Sterling. And after all, the whole affair is nothing extraordinary; such things happen every day; and as the world had only heard generally of a treaty between the families, when this marriage takes place, nobody will be the wiser, if we have but discretion enough to keep our own counsel.
Sterl. True, true; and since you only transfer from one girl to the other, it is no more than transferring so much stock, you know.
Sir John. The very thing.
Sterl. Odso! I had quite forgot. We are reckoning without our host here. There is another difficulty
You alarm me. What can that be?
Sterl. I cannot stir a step in this business without consulting my sister Heidelberg. The family has very great expectations from her, and we must not give her any offence.
Sir John. But if you come into this measure, surely she will be so kind as to consent
Sterl. I do not know that. Betsy is her darling; and I cannot tell how far she may resent any slight, that seems to be offered to her favourite niece. However, I will do the best I can for you. You shall go and break the matter to her first, and by the time that I may suppose, that your rhetoric has prevailed on her to listen to reason, I will step in to reinforce your arguments.
Sir John. I will fly to her immediately: you promise me your assistance?
Sterl. I do.
Sir John. Ten thousand thanks for it! and now success attend me!
Sterl. Harkee, Sir John!-Not a word of the thirty thousand to my sister, Sir John.
Sir John. O, I am dumb, I am dumb, Sir.
Sterl. You remember it is thirty thousand.
Sterl. But, Sir John, one thing more. My lord must know nothing of this stroke of friendship between us.
Sir John. Not for the world. Let me alone! let me alone!
Sterl. And when every thing is agreed, we must give each other a bond to be held fast to the bargain.
Sir John. To be sure, a bond by all means! a bond, or whatever you please.
Sterl. I should have thought of more conditions; he is in a humour to give me every thing. Why, what mere children are your fellows of quality; that cry for a plaything one minute, and throw it by the next! as changeable as the weather, and as uncertain as the stocks. Special fellows to drive a bargain! and yet they are to take care of the interest of the nation truly! Here does this whirligig man of fashion offer to give up thirty thousand pounds in hard money, with as much indifference as if it was a china orange. By this mortgage, I shall have hold on his Terra Firma: and