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Cro. May be not. Indeed, what signifies whom they pervert in a country that has scarce any religion to lose? I am only afraid for our wives and daughters.
Hon. I have no apprehension for the ladies, I assure you.
Cro. May be not. Indeed, what signifies whether they be perverted or not? The women in my time were good for something. I have seen a lady dressed from top to toe in her own manufacture formerly ; but now-a-days, they have little about them of their own manufacture, except their faces.
Hon. But however these faults may be practiced abroad, you don't find them at home: there, at least, a due respect for your authority prevents them. Cro. Ah, my dear friend, you know but
my authority at home. People think, indeed, because they see me come out in a morning thus, with a pleasant face, and to make my friends merry, that all 's well within. But I have cares that would break a heart of stone. My wife has so encroached on every one of my privileges, that I am now no more than a mere lodger in my own house.
Hon. But a little spirit exerted on your side might, perhaps, restore your authority.
Cro. No, though I had the spirit of a lion. I do rouse sometimes : but what then? always haggling, haggling. A man is tired of getting the better, before his wife is tired of losing the victory.
Hon. It is a melancholy consideration indeed, that our chief comforts often produce our greatest anxieties, and that an increase of our possessions is but an inlet to new disquietudes.
Cro. Ah, my dear friend, those were the very words of poor Dick Doleful to me not a week before he made away with himself. Indeed, Mr. Honeywood, I never see you but you put me in mind of poor Dick. Ah, there was merit neglected for you! And so true a friend : we loved each other for thirty years, and yet he never asked me to lend him a single farthing.
Hon. Pray what could induce him to commit so rash an action at last ?
Cro. I don't know; some people were malicious enough to say it was keeping company with me: because we used to meet now and then, and open our hearts to each other. To be sure, I loved to hear him talk, and he loved to hear me talk ;
poor, dear Dick! He used to say that Croaker rhymed to joker, and so we used to laugh.
Hon. His fate affects me.
Cro. Ay, he grew sick of this miserable life, where we do nothing but eat and grow hungry, dress and undress, get up and lie down: while reason, that should watch like a nurse by our side, falls asleep as fast as we do.
Hon. To say truth, if we compare that part of life which is to come by that which is past, the prospect is hideous.
Cro. Life at the best is but a fro'ward child, that must be coaxed and humored till it falls asleep, and then all the care is
Hon. Very true, sir; nothing can exceed the vanity of our existence but the folly of our pursuits. We wept when we came into the world, and every day tells us why.
Cro. Ah, my dear friend, it is a perfect satisfaction to be miserable with you. My son shall not lose the benefit of such fine conversation ; I'll just step home for him: I am willing to show him so much seriousness in one scarce older than himself. And what if I bring my last letter to the Gazetteer on the increase and progress of earthquakes? It will amuse us, I promise you. I there prove that the earthquake is coming to pay us a visit, from Lisbon to the Canary Islands, from the Canary Islands to Palmyra, from Palmyra to Constantinople, and from Constantinople to London.
4. PARENTAL ODE TO MY INFANT Son.
This humorous piece affords a good exercise in change of pitch, as there will naturally be a marked contrast in the tones of the verses the poet is supposed to be uttering to himself, while in the act of composition, and those exclamations he addresses personally to the child or the child's mother.
Thou happy, happy elf!
Thou tiny image of myself!
Thou little tricksy Puck, With antic toys so funnily bestuck, Light as the singing bird that wings the air, (The door! the door! he'll tumble down the stair !)
Thou darling of thy sire!
Thou imp of mirth and joy !
There goes my ink!)
Thou cherub but of earth!
In harmless sport and mirth,
Thou human humming-bee, extracting honey From every blossom in the world that blows,
Singing in youth's Elysium ever sunny, (Another tumble - that 's his precious nose !)
Thy father's pride and hope ! (He'll break the mirror with that skipping-rope !) With pure heart newly stamped from nature's mint,
(Where did he learn that squint?)
Thou young domestic dove !
Dear nursling of the hymeneal nest!
Little epitome of man ! (He'll climb upon the table, that's his plan !) Touched with the beauteous tints of dawning life,
(He's got a knife !)
Thou enviable being ! No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,
Play on, play on, my elfin John!
Toss the light ball — bestride the stick,
With many a lamb-like frisk,
Thou pretty opening rose !
(I 'll tell you what, my love,
5. SIR LUCIUS O’TRIGGER AND BOB ACRES.
Sir Lucius, an Irish gentleman, after having encouraged Acres to send a challenge for a fancied affront, consents to act as his second. The two appear on the field, Sir Lucius carrying pistols, and followed by Acres. To express the heart-sinking cowardice of the latter and the cool demeanor of the former will task the reader's powers of personation.
Acres. By my valor, then, Sir Lucius, forty yards is a good distance. Odds levels and aims ! I say it is a good distance.
Sir Lucius. Is it for muskets or small field-pieces ? Upon my conscience, Mr. Acres, you must leave those things to me.
Stay, now - I'll show you. (Measures paces along the floor.) There, now, that is a very pretty distance, - a pretty gentleman's distance.
Acr. Zounds! we might as well fight in a sentry-box! I tell you, Sir Lucius, the further he is off, the cooler I shall take
Sir L. Faith! then I suppose you would aim at him best of all if he was out of sight!
Acr. No, Sir Lucius; but I should think forty or eight-andthirty yards
Sir L. Pooh! pooh! nonsense! Three or four feet between the mouths of your pistols is as good as a mile.
Acr. Odds bullets, no ! - by my valor! there is no merit in killing him so near! Do, my dear Sir Lucius, let me bring
him down at a long shot: a long shot, Sir Lucius, if you love me!
Sir L. Well, the gentleman's friend and I must settle that. But tell me now, Mr. Acres, in case of an accident, is there any little will or commission I could execute for you ?
Acr. I am much obliged to you, Sir Lucius but I don't understand
Sir L. Why, you may think there's no being shot at without a little risk ; and if an unlucky bullet should carry a quie'tus with it - I say it will be no time then to be bothering you about family matters.
Acr. A quietus !
if that should be the case would
you choose to be pickled and sent home? or would it be the same to you to lie here in the Abbey ? - I'm told there is very snug lying in the Abbey.
Acr. Pickled ! — Snug lying in the Abbey ! - Odds tremors ! Sir Lucius, don't talk so !
Sir L. I suppose, Mr. Acres, you never were engaged in an affair of this kind before.
Acr. No, Sir Lucius, never before.
Sir L. Ah! that's a pity!- there's nothing like being used to a thing. Pray, now, how would you receive the gentleman's shot ? Acr. Odds files ! – I've practiced that
there, Sir Lucius there. (Puts himself in an attitude.) A side front, hey? I'll make myself small enough; I'll stand edgeways. Sir L. Now you 're quite out for if
stand so when I take my aim - (Leveling the pistol at him.) Acr. Zounds! Sir Lucius
are you sure it is not cocked ? Sir L. Never fear. Acr. But — but -you don't know
it may go off of its own head!
Sir L. Pooh! be easy. Well, now, if I hit you in the body, my bullet has a double chance; for, if it misses a vital part of your right side, 't will be very hard if it don't succeed on the left.
Acr. A vital part !
Sir L. But there, fix yourself so -- (placing him) — let him see the broadside of your full front ; there, now, a ball or two