Hazelwood Hall (1823)

HAZELWOOD-HALL: A VILLAGE DRAMA IN THREE ACTS (1823)

Introduction

Bloomfield’s only play, Hazelwood-Hall (1823), the last new work published in his lifetime, was never staged. Finished only a few months before, and published in the month of, Bloomfield’s death (August) by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, it appeared in a smaller edition than his previous works (750 in duodecimo, priced 3 shillings). It was reviewed badly and sold so poorly that, writing to Bloomfield’s daughter after his death, the publishers were unwilling to put any value on the copyright, of which Bloomfield had sold them a half share (see Letter 369, 2 May 1823 and Letter 373, 1 October 1823).

The drama was clearly a product of the same years of poverty, illness and anxiety as May-Day with the Muses, for it too conjured up a village in which the vulnerability of the labouring classes to exploitation—sexual and social—is a spectre summoned only to be banished by collective action by the poor. Thus, Mary, a poor, innocent village girl is the target of the seducer Jack Whirlwind, a visiting rake who represents fast, fashionable, urban values. Whirlwind is defeated as he tries to abduct Mary in his latest-model carriage: Joel Spokeum, the reliable, honest village wheelwright cudgels him. In the end, a proper marriage is made, a legacy having been discovered, presided over by Squire Morrison. In effect, the villagers are enabled to enforce traditional standards of behaviour (a moral economy) because the community is protected by a benevolent, paternalist squire of the old school, rather than an ‘improving’ agriculturalist who encloses the land or a profligate absentee landlord. By 1823, the public had encountered this scenario many times before in Bloomfield’s work, and to many it now seemed quaintly nostalgic, out of touch with both social conditions on the ground and with the increasingly cosmopolitan tastes of the educated classes. It was limited, too, by Bloomfield’s inexperience as a dramatist: the plot is hackneyed, depending upon unconvincing reversals of fortune; the characters are flat, lacking individual ways of speaking; there is little on-stage action. The British Magazine (1 (1823), 210–12) was blunt: ‘it is more like a Sunday-school tract in dialogue than a drama … at the best, puerile: there is nothing in it to deserve criticism’. Gentleman’s Magazine (93, part 2 (1823), 499), writing after Bloomfield’s death, was politer, but concurred: it ‘has nothing but simplicity and the name of Bloomfield to recommend it’ it declared, lamenting the fact that Bloomfield’s last publication should have been his weakest.



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE READER.

This little dramatic sketch is not so new as it may appear to be. So long ago as the year 1805, a gentleman met me on the sands at Worthing, and asked me to his house, &c. but I never saw him afterwards. He gave his address, ‘Mr. Goldhawk, Hazelwood-Hall, Leith-Hill, Surrey.’ The names never left my mind, and I then thought of trying them in a village tale, or drama, which I actually began. The subject has slept ever since, until the publication of my ‘May Day,’ last spring, left me leisure and inclination to put it into its present form. I make no pretensions to a knowledge of the ‘dramatic unities,’ or of what is called ‘stage effect.’ It may be like twenty plays, which I have never seen. The characters are exclusively villagers, with the exception of Jack Whirlwind; through whom I have endeavoured to censure the horrible vice of seducing unguarded females, and then leaving them to scorn and misery.

If the more fastidious reader should by chance lay his hand on this trifle, and should object to the very name of play, or drama, such reader is assured that he will not find in it either an oath, a pun, or an innuendo. Whatever may be its fate, even if it should ultimately get upon the stage, and be subjected to what may be thought the necessary bolsters, stays, and clippings, and these should be actual improvements, I shall have nothing to do with them. It is very natural that, thus situated, I should wish to be answerable for nothing but what I here print: and I remain the reader’s

Humble servant,

ROBERT BLOOMFIELD.

Shefford, Beds,

April 12,1823.



PERSONS OF THE DRAMA.

Men.

Captain Goldhawk, a retired Officer.

Donald Morrison, a Country Squire.

Spokeum, a Wheelwright.

Joel, his Son.

John Gosling, Servant to Captain Goldhawk.

Jack Whirlwind, a Stranger.


Women.

Lady Hazelwood, a Widow.

Emma, her Daughter.

Mary Maythorn, an Orphan, brought up by Lady Hazelwood

Judith, Housekeeper to Spokeum.

Betty, Servant to Morrison.


HAZELWOOD-HALL.

ACT I. SCENE I.

A Wheelwright’s YardJoel at work.

Enter Spokeum.

Spok. Joel, Joel, my boy; What ails you; I was going to ask you yesterday, only you looked so strangely, I thought it would be of no use.—Here’s all our work running behind, sadly behind: here is Captain Goldhawk’s cart should have gone home a fortnight ago, and—what’s his name’s wheelbarrow—

Joel. I can’t help it, father. You do but little yourself; you are so taken up with your machine and your contrivances; which I doubt will end in nothing.

Spok. Whatever I am doing, Joel, I am not in love; but I have observed, that since you have been acquainted with your Mary, up at the Hall, you are always singing or sighing, reading or scribbling: you are quite an altered young man.

Joel. I hope you don’t think me altered for the worse, father. If you do, I can’t tell when I shall be better.

Spok. But could not you love her as other people love, that is, reasonably? for there is ‘reason in roasting of eggs,’ as my father used to say. But you will have your own way, I suppose.

Joel. Nay, don’t say so, father. I remember the time when I pleased you long ago, by taking your advice. Don’t you recollect when all the boys in the parish planned how to rob Lady Hazelwood’s orchard, and I would not go? And don’t you remember you gave me a shilling—a whole shilling for myself, because I refused?

Spok. Yes, I recollect it; that was well done: but I don’t ask you to forsake Mary Maythorn.

Joel. It would be of no use if you did.

Spok. Well, since you are so short with me, I will leave you and see after the brewing. I will send old Judith to you.

[Exit Spokeum.

Joel. Well, you are a good old dad enough, but you are a queer one. Your machine, indeed !—A machine to pick hops! Hah! hah! hah! [1]  Now if courting a pretty girl has not as much sense in it as that, then I am no wheelwright, that’s all.

Enter Judith.

Joel. Well, Judie, what’s the matter with you? all in a fluster as usual,—what’s the matter?

Jud. Why, your father has been so taken up lately with his cogs and wheels and contrivances, that he don’t like, he says, to have his thoughts disturbed in this way.

Joel. No, nor I mine. I work my full hours, Judie, and do his work as well as my own; what does he want more?

Jud. Well, don’t be angry, child. You know your father is rather obstinate and conceited; but I’ll keep him quiet as well as I can, if you will follow your duty, and not let this Mary Maythorn turn your brain too much.

Joel. Ay, now you talk sense; I will follow my duty and my inclination too. But what do you think of our new neighbour, Captain Goldhawk?

Jud. Why, I think him a mighty kind, civil gentleman as ever came into a village; but I don’t know what to make of his man, Gosling John, as you call him: he has just passed by with Betty, the servant at Squire Morrison’s.

Joel. That’s all right; let him go any way he pleases, and I shall go to Hazelwood-Hall when I can, that you may depend upon. Come, come, see after the dumplings, and let me alone; my heart is all sunshine.

[Exit Judith.

Air.

Then why should the girl of my heart,
For whom all these raptures I feel,
Be rival’d by waggon or cart,
And slip through my hands like an eel?
I am young—so is she—and how fair!
Then love shall my moments employ:
I am caught by her berry-brown hair,
And the rose on her cheek is my joy!


SCENE II.

A tall Avenue, leading to Hazelwood-Hall, with a distant View of the Sea.

Enter Captain Goldhawk and Squire Morrison, meeting.

Mor. Well, my good neighbour, how do you do this fine morning? How do you like your new situation? Does it answer your expectation? Will it do? We have very few finer in this part of England, I assure you.

Gold. Do, squire—ay, to admiration! and I am so near my old play-fellow, the lady of the mansion there, that’s a comfort to a man of my quiet habits; for I have done roving: I have seen enough of the world, and wish for peace here beside the forest, where I can walk without being jostled.

Mor. Yes, a fine country for musing, and for sporting, too; and that’s what I practise most of the two: plenty of birds, captain, plenty of birds.

Gold. Oh! plenty of birds, out-door birds, and indoor birds; and sometimes it happens that one single bird is pursued with more pleasure than all the rest.

Mor. What do you mean, captain!

Gold. What, you don’t know, I suppose? then your gun must be readier than your apprehension before you do much execution in the field. What say you to my neighbour’s lovely daughter, ha? I am not blind, squire, I am not blind: she is, in truth, a charming creature!

Mor. Well, so she is then; for I scorn to boggle about a falsehood, when truth comes to my tongue’s end without any trouble.

Gold. That’s well said; give me your hand upon that. I think you will turn out to be one of my sort of fellows at last; but I have seen young men as sensible to the charms of a woman as you can possibly be, and yet their intentions were not honourable.

Mor. Oh! they must have been some of your army gentlemen; now I never was a soldier in my life, and never mean to be, unless my country should be in danger: my great-grandfather’s sword is rusty.

Gold. I guess by your name, Donald Morrison, your family must have come from the North, is it not so? It has a twang of the Scotch in it.

Mor. You are right; my great-grandfather bought this estate; for the Scots are like many other birds of passage, they love to travel southward.

Gold. O don’t talk of travelling, friend Donald, I have had my fill of it; my day is over.

Air.

’Twas where the Indian billows roll,
And frightful lightnings spread dismay,
Where serpents twine, and tigers prowl,
My prime of manhood pass’d away!
Yet even there to fate resign’d
My heart would kindle to a flame,
At thoughts of one I left behind,
Left her to grief—but not to shame.
She’s dead—and I, a childless man,
Seek solace in the field and grove;
And think on life—(how short the span!)
On blighted hopes and blighted love!

Hey ho, Morrison! these thoughts will arise, they will come in spite of me; yet I can carry a gun as well as you.

Mor. Use it, then; and some fine day, take a stroll with me into the forest, and shoot Care whenever you find him. But who comes here?

Gold. O! it’s only my man, Gosling John: what can he want with me?

Enter John.

Gos. Sir, I have been down to the post-office, but there be no letters for your honour.

Gold. Well, never mind.—Now go up to the hall here, and say that Captain Goldhawk and Squire Morrison will call upon the ladies, if it be agreeable. We’ll follow you at leisure.

Gos. Eese, sir.

Gold. Eese, sir—What, can’t you say yes?

Gos. Eese, sir.

Gold. Well, go along. Now, squire, you won’t object to this morning visit, I dare say: we can prolong our talk as we go.

[Exit both.



SCENE III.

An Apartment in Hazelwood-Hall

Lady H. and her Daughter, with Mary Maythorn at work at a separate table.

Enter Servant.

Serv. My Lady, Captain Goldhawk and Mr. Morrison desire to wait upon you, if it be agreeable.

Lady H. Very well. [Exit Servant.] Now this is kind of them; I like morning visits exceedingly; people are then, or ought to be, fresh from repose, and have all their faculties about them, like the new-risen day. What say you, my dear Mary? Is your head better since you rose?

Mary. A little, madam; but the pain always makes me stupid for some hours after it is gone.

Lady H. And what says Emma? you look the very picture of health. Has the promised visit any thing to do with it—Ha?

Emma. Indeed, mamma, I love the old captain as I could love a father, had I the happiness to have one: and as to Morrison, he is so frank and cheerful, if I did not respect him, I should be behind all the children in the parish; for everybody loves him. I never saw a boy run from him for fear of correction in my life, though sometimes they richly deserve it.

Lady H. Very cautious, my dear. Well, let it be respect then, and I can join in it with all my heart; but could not you two treat me with my favorite duet, ‘Lovely Truth’ I shall never be tired of it—

Mary. O dear madam, it is impossible for me to sing; my voice would tremble so, that you would pity me:— another time, madam, another time, I will strive to oblige you—most willingly.

Emma. I have not that plea to urge; for when one excuses herself in a duet, the other is exonerated surely; besides, the gentlemen will be here directly; I saw them under the window.

Lady H. Well, I must relinquish the pleasure at present, and wish both in better trim. (Aside.) One fluttered in the head, and the other in the heart.

Enter Captain Goldhawk and Squire Morrison.

Gold. Good morning to you, ladies! we make very bold, you see; but if not agreeable, you can turn us out by a single frown; you have always the advantage of us there.

Lady H. I thank you, captain, for this friendly visit; it is what I always enjoy: I like to see people neighbourly.

Gold. But what is the matter with my little mildfaced Mary? she does not look well (turning to her) methinks. Have her dreams been disagreeable?

Mary. Not so, sir, but my waking has. I hope I shall be better to-morrow.

Gold. Right, my dear, let us live and hope; for without that we should be poor creatures indeed! But where is Morrison? does he think I am going to run the length of this room after him, before I can speak to his lady?

Morrison and Emma advancing.

Miss Hazelwood—Miss Hygeia, it would be mere compliment to ask after your health, your face tells tales; I’ll warrant, you have had one of your six-o’clock rambles this morning.

Emma. Not quite so early, sir; but I have had a charming walk down to the edge of the forest, and have been talking to the boldest of the deer, that always meet me there: I have one little doe, which I have made as tame as a pet lamb. I cannot think how you men can be so barbarous as to molest and injure such beautiful animals!

Mor. Nay, don’t look at me so, my dear Emma; I never shot a buck in my life, I assure you.

Emma. That may be; but you are very happy with half a dozen dogs round you, a whistle in your whiphandle, a bugle in your belt, and a bag full of hares and pheasants.

Mor. Well, but, my life, would you make a Hindoo of me? must I believe in transmigration? why I should be terrified in aiming at a bird, for fear of shooting my own grandfather.

Gold. I once shot a tiger; but I had no tender lady by my side, either to applaud or rebuke me.

Emma. O dear, captain, pray don’t call it a rebuke; I meant no harm, indeed I did not: but if rebuke it was, it would be perfectly useless; for field-sports to a country gentleman form an essential part of his existence; he would feel and look as ridiculous without a gun as without a hat.

Gold. Ah, you are a trimmer, Emma; but let us change the subject.—Pray when were you last in London? Don’t you long to be there sometimes?

Emma. Never at this season, I assure you: you must speak to my mamma about that.

Lady H. Captain Goldhawk, I have been talking to Mary about going to London, and how she would like it, and she says she could not stir out of doors without a protector; and I have assured her, that enthusiast as she is after flowers, she would be sadly disappointed.

Gold. Ay, so you would, child; there is not a bed of violets to be found, if you search Cheapside from one end to the other—is there, Morrison?

Lady H. But talking of protectors in London, or anywhere else, I was always of opinion, that a woman of sense and virtue carries her own protection with her, if she chooses to call it into action—don’t you think so, Emma? ‘Lovely Truth’—you understand me.

Emma. O perfectly, mamma; but I cannot sing it alone—Mr. Morrison must help me.

Mor. My dear Emma, if you say must, then I must indeed.

Duet.—Morrison and Emma.

Lovely Truth! thy steady eye
Can strike the villain’s heart with shame,
When Modesty, thy firm ally,
Without a sword,
Without a word,
Her angel brow uprears!
Her single glance, when thou art by,
Is spear and shield—the foe must fly,
Or crouch to truth and modesty,
To woman’s scorn or tears!

Mor. Good day, ladies; farewell, captain: we intend to take an hour’s walk in the park.

[Exeunt Morrison and Emma.

Gold. You were talking, Molly, about protectors; why you are not without a worthy young man here, who appears perfectly able to protect you any where. Come, don’t be so shy; I know something about him.

Mary. Well, but, dear sir, the person you allude to knows no more of London than myself; and, besides, he is not a gentleman to—

Gold. O a London gentleman protector! bless your innocent heart! you know not what you are saying: yes, there are gentlemen protectors in abundance;—but thanks to the laws, the Bench and the Fleet prison have taken care of a great number of them; and I heartily wish that the gallows may take the rest.

Mary. Surely, sir, you are too severe now.

Gold. Not at all, child; who would hesitate about hanging a wolf? all the difference between us is, that I know something about them, and you nothing. Be a good girl Lady Hazelwood, I have spent a long morning with you; I must get into the woods to compose my spirits, so wish you good day.

[Exit.

Lady H. When I lived in town, in dear Sir John’s time, instances occurred of the most heartless, dishonourable and unmanly villany, such as would have disgraced a cannibal. The captain has just cause for his anger; and I wish London had not been mentioned.

Mary. Indeed, madam, so do I: I feel so safe and happy here, that I shall avoid the subject in future.

Lady H. But now they have left us alone, what say you to a turn in the shrubbery? the fresh air may benefit your poor head.

Mary. It certainly would, madam, and I should enjoy it of all things. [Exeunt.



SCENE IV.

The Avenue near the Hall—Moonlight.

Joel and Mary Maythorn.

Joel. Now is not this delightful, Mary? to see the light trembling and dancing under our feet, and the moon herself running along beyond the branches? I was charmed with this spot before I was five years old, and what must my feelings be now, when I have you by my side?

Mary. It is indeed quiet, serene, and beautiful, and I can compare it to nothing better than a good conscience.

Joel. And then to think that the very turf on which you now tread will, in the turn of a season, be yellow with cowslips—and then the birds, Molly!

Mary. Indeed, that is a most heart-stirring delicious season: what a pity it is so soon over!

Joel. I wish I could talk, my dear Mary—I wish I could talk to you as the gentlemen do, all in fine language and hard words, it would sound so prettily, especially by moonlight; but I cannot do it, Mary, you know I cannot.

Mary. Well, I am sure, Joel, I never wished you could; for I really think you will talk well enough for anybody whilst you speak truth.

Joel. Bless you for that! I have been hard at work all day, that is one satisfaction, and I am glad the night is come. How the gentlemen and ladies have spent the time, I know not; but I think Squire Morrison ought to be happy with the Lady Emma.

Mary. O Joel, you know not half the worth of that excellent creature. If I was her own sister, instead of being what I am—a poor orphan, she could not treat me with more kindness.

Joel. Then Squire Morrison is the very man I would select for her out of ten thousand.

Mary. Here is somebody coming up the cross-path! Who can it be?

Joel. Oh! I know her by her gait; it is Betty, Squire Morrison’s servant: let us not avoid her.

Enter Betty.

Betty. Your servant—Miss Maythorn, Mr. Spokeum—your servant; I hope I don’t intrude upon you; I have been on an errand down to the captain’s and took this pleasant way back, across the grounds.

Joel. What, and all alone, Betty? What, was not John at home?

Betty. What’s that to you, Mr. Saucebox? Mind your own business. A body can’t stir out of a night without meeting somebody to insult one.

Joel. I did not mean to affront you, Betty: don’t be in a passion.

Betty. Ay, but I won’t stay, though; I am in a hurry; Good night, Miss Maythorn.

[Exit Betty.

Mary. I don’t like this, Joel; it shows a want of feeling to pounce thus upon the girl when she has nobody with her. What do you know of her?

Joel. O very little indeed; I have seen her often on the green: she is a good, kind-hearted, silly girl enough; but she would not let me kiss her though—(aside.) Ah! my foolish blab-tongue—there was a look!

Mary. That is nothing against her, however: What makes you call her silly? perhaps I can find one or two in the parish as silly as she. What think you of Gosling John making the same offer?

Joel. What he! What, Gosling John! He dare not for his life; I would break every bone in his skin.

Mary. And even Squire Morrison has looked at me at times in a manner which I thought I ought not to understand.

Joel. You must be mistaken, Molly; you certainly must be mistaken; they—they dare not.

Mary. Oh! as to daring, Joel, you men often dare things which do not become you: for instance—a young man lately attempted to kiss a young woman with whom he had no business, and then, to crown all, told his chosen one (of all people) what a rebuff he had met with.

Joel. Oh! botheration—let’s see—what shall I say next (aside)—Hem !—Well, but Molly, I say, when half a dozen village girls, giggling and romping, get round one, what is one to do with them? What can one do with them, that’s all!

Mary. I’ll tell you in your own language. When such a thing happens, just let them alone, that’s all!

Joel. Well, if you won’t be angry any longer, drown me for a puppy, if ever I kiss one of them again. There, will that satisfy you?

Mary. I am not hard-hearted, Joel but you are very foolish.

Joel. Well, I always thought I was a little so; we won’t differ about that. I’ll sing you a song presently, and make it all up again, if you will say that you will forgive me in your heart.

Mary. With all my heart then; there, will that do?

Song.

Joel. Though when youthful blood is flowing
Every female bears a charm.
Still for one the bosom’s glowing,
One alone the heart can warm.
Mary. Tenderness and honour blending,
Lead to joy and point the way;
Hope still proves, her visions lending,
True or false, that life’s a day!
Both. Let us then, through wind and weather,
Dare the storms of life to try,
Hand and heart thus link’d together,
Cloud or sunshine, till we die!


ACT II. SCENE I

The Entrance to a dark Forest.

Emma. How impressive is this deep and solemn silence!—Even my own breath is audible! and the distant low of my white heifer has music in it to a mind thus calm, and in such a place.—Methinks these lonely walks of mine have something of the romantic in them.—I wish I could hear a human voice, or even the bark of a dog, to remind me that I am still in the habitable world.

Air.

Peep from thy covert, noble antler’d stag,
Nor fear me.
List’ning hare, enjoy thy food,
I spread no snare for thee.
Sing, lovely Philomel,
Midst the shady branches near me;
Till my wandering lover comes,
O tune thy lay to me.
Hark! from the deep dell,
The mingled voices swelling.
Hark! what sweet echoes
Are through the forest borne!
Welcome, thou brave youth;
Welcome sounds of rapture telling
Charming echoes.
Here he comes;
’Twas Donald’s bugle horn.

Enter Morrison, in a Hunter’s Garb, with a Bugle.

Mor. Ha! my sweet spirit of the woods, my Diana, how kind is this, to be the first object of my sight, when I thus revisit the sunshine!

Emma. There now was a fine burst of natural feeling, spoilt by the introduction of what you call classical knowledge, which boys learn at school—old heathenish nonsense. Such tales were not invented or written for people of this country—I am glad to see you, however.

Mor. Well, my dear Emma, if you don’t like Diana, will you be Hebe, the beautiful Hebe?

Emma. No, nor Hebe neither—when my mother takes an airing, she does not require me to harness the peacocks to her carriage; besides, Hebe was a cupbearer, and I am afraid I feel a little too independent for that.

Mor. Well, then, your name shall be plain Miss Hazelwood, till I can persuade you out of it at some happier moment.

Emma. But really, don’t you think me very bold to ramble out thus alone in such a solitude?

Mor. O yes, certainly, as bold as a huntress.

Emma. Nay, there you are getting into the old track again—I tell you I won’t be a huntress—but, as I live, here comes my mamma! What can have brought her out?—She is just coming down the hill, to look after my safety, I’ll warrant.

Mor. O, as to safety, what says the old song about walking in a wood?

‘There’s no one but Cupid, I assure you, comes there,
And Cupid’s an urchin you surely can’t fear.’

Emma. More heathenism!

Mor. Why this is the most fashionable and modern heathenism I know of, and if you scold ever so, you are not likely to set it aside. What could the Valentine writers do without a bundle of darts, and a little boy with wings?

Emma. It is poor idle stuff for all that.

Mor. The personifications are idle enough, I allow, but the subject is as new and unaltered as it was at the first creation of the world—but your mother is here.

Enter Lady Hazelwood.

All hail! most noble duchess of Hazelwood! So you were not willing to let us have all the morning air to ourselves?

Emma. Why, dear mamma, I suppose you thought I should be lost if you did not look after me.

Lady H. No, child—but I sat at home till my thoughts grew too powerful for me, not on your account, but somehow I was low-spirited.

Mor. Then you have taken the wisest way in the world to give them a contrary turn, for ‘there is a spirit in the woods.’ I have been telling Emma so, but she would not hear a word about the matter.

Emma. That was because you called me the spirit of the woods. I know there is an intensity of feeling—a kind of awe, in such a scene, which is indescribable, and, therefore, I will not attempt it.

Lady H. As I came along, it occurred to my mind that there is a very perfect echo to be heard near this entrance of the forest.—Mr. Morrison, perhaps you know the spot?

Mor. O yes, madam, I know it perfectly, know it to a foot; for this Miss Echo, this wood nymph, is as fanciful as the best of them; but hold—I am in danger of heathenism again. In plain English then, all the oaks you see in that direction, for a compass of three miles, call me master; and you shall hear them acknowledge it—a little this way, ladies.

Air.

Oaks that droop your branches low,
With silver moss on every bough;
For whom do all your honours grow?
Your master, who but Donald?

(Echo) Donald.

When beneath your sacred shade
Blooming Emma trips the glade,
Who shall claim the bonny maid?
Who but happy Donald?

(Echo) Happy Donald.

Emma. Upon my word, Mr. Morrison, yours are the most obedient oaks I ever heard of; you make them say just what you please.

Mor. Ay, my love, and the most consistent too; for if you put the question fifty times, they will give you the same answer—they beat the oaks of—

Emma. Pshaw; let us hear nothing of Dodona, and the oracle—I know what you mean; let us prove the truth of your own oracle first.

Mor. Well, be it so; and let us be gone, for I perceive your mother is impatient.

Lady H. I hope we shall all dine together—the captain will join us, and I wish to make a friendly party without interruption—but Spokeum crossed my path hither in his way down to the captain’s, and I thought he looked unusually serious.

Mor. Possibly he has a bill to present, and that, you know, is always a serious matter. But Goldhawk would rather pay him beforehand than make him wait.—Come along.

[Exit, singing, ‘When beneath your sacred shade.’



SCENE II.

The Outside of Captain Goldhawk’s House—a natural Cascade beside the Lawn.

Gold. Well, here I muse away my hours sometimes very agreeably, something like a hermit; but I find that the pleasures of a hermit’s life had their foundation in the brain of some moon-struck poet or other, who lived nobody knows when. I know from experience that it will not do without a mixture of sociability; for the oftener my neighbours call, the better I like it. John!

Gosling. Coming, sir.

Enter John.

Gold. Did not Mr. Morrison say he would call on me this afternoon?

Gos. Ay, your honour, that he did, and here he is at the very door.

Enter Morrison.

Mor. Your servant, captain—don’t let me disturb your privy council.

Gold. O there is nothing private about the matter—(don’t go away, John)—I want a few words with this honest simpleton, nothing more.—John, did you not once tell me that your father sold a little freehold?

Gos. Eese, sir.

Gold. What, you have not left that eese off yet?

Gos. Indeed, your honour, I have been trying hard at it for this fortnight; I think I mend a little, and if I can’t conquer, I must say ay all the rest of my life.

Gold. Well, but your father sold the place?

Gos. He did so, sir; he was poor and in distress: but the lawyers and the purchasers kept him out of his money nearly seven years, and I believe he never got it all at last.

Mor. John, this must be inquired into; I will bear it in mind.

Gold. But how came you by your nickname? why do they call you Gosling John?

Gos. Why, as thus, sir: I had a fancy to look over the county list of freeholders, to find my father’s name —the name could not be found. I then looked for Duck Bottom, which is the name of the place—I could not find that. I then found out that the names were all written the backward wayses, and that I must look for G; and there, sure enough, I found ‘Gosling, John, of Duck Bottom.

Gold. O, the name was there then?

Gos. Ay, the name was there after a fashion; and so because I had never seen that way of writing before, and made a kind of talk about it amongst my neighbours, they have called me Gosling John ever since.

Mor. Never mind a nickname, John, if it carries no disgrace with it.

Gos. Why, that’s just what I have been thinking, sir. There’s the old man, who is now coming up the path, has a nickname as well as I; they call him Old Hops, but I never could find why, or what they meant by it, for he is no more lame than I am.

[Exit John.

Enter Spokeum.

Gold. Well, master Spokeum, what’s your business?

Spok. I hope it won’t offend your honour, but being rather short of cash, I have brought a small bill.

Gold. Well, see that you are paid before you leave the house—that’s soon settled; but I am sorry to hear that you are short of cash. Some of your neighbours call you a schemer, and turn you into ridicule; do you know it?

Spok. It is very true, sir, that I am laughed at, but I laugh too; that’s the way to go through the world, as my father used to say.

Mor. I’ll tell you what, neighbour Spokeum, it is much easier for fools to laugh at a proposed invention than to understand it when done.

Spok. Ay, sir, that’s true enough: only that we projectors should not tell our secrets, I could show you the whole contrivance with seventeen wheels, and—

Gold. No, no, we don’t wish to forestall you, or to put you out of heart.

Mor. Who have laughed at you most? do I know any of the parties?

Spok. Why there is the Thatcher, and he, you know, is a bit of a poet: he wants to set me about a contrivance to cut moonshine into slices! I don’t know what to say to him; I am afraid he is too great a fool for anything.

Gold. Don’t mind him, then; that is your only defence.

Spok. But I have silenced another of my tormentors completely, by just turning round upon him with a few words.—You know the justice’s clerk in the next village?

Mor. Know him, yes; he sets wheels to work too, but they will do more mischief than yours.

Spok. Well, sir, he wanted to know if I could not invent a machine to make lawyers honest.

Gold. A very desirable thing, certainly.

Mor. And what could you say to him?

Spok. O sir, very little, sir; but it came out in a minute—it came of itself. Says I, that machine has been invented long before we were born, and I have only to take pattern by one that has stood up on our common for these forty years; it only consists of two strong upright posts, with a cross bar at the top—you understand me, gentlemen.

Gold. Why, Spokeum, you are a wit, and half a wag too, I perceive.

Spok. Ay, sir, they all set up a loud laugh, not at ‘Old Hops,’ as they call me, but at the lawyer. I think I was ‘down upon him’ there, as my father used to say.—Knock your foes down one at a time, that’s the way to settle them.

Mor. But what can you do when they make you angry? for all silly cunning-headed banterers try at that first.

Spok. Sir, I defy them to make me angry, unless they speak slightingly of my son Joel; that I can’t bear at all! Why, gentlemen, my son Joel and I, and your honours, are the cleverest men in these two parishes.

Gold. Thank you, Spokeum, for the honour you do us.

Spok. Now indeed, your honour, I don’t want to give offence, for I know it to be true.

Gold. You are not likely to give offence, man; but we must leave you rather abruptly, for we are engaged at the hall.—Remember what I told you; get your money of the housekeeper before you go home.

Spok. Thank you, sir.

Mor. And, Spokeum, don’t you spare them an inch; a repartee is often better than a cudgel.

Spok. And I can use both upon occasion.—Good morning to you, gentlemen.

[Exeunt Goldhawk and Morrison.

Two fine-hearted fellows these! and who is to be cast down by what the rest can say?

Air—By Spokeum.

What though they call me old Hops, old Hops,
Why should a wise man care?
I’ll search it all out, and bring it about,
And leave the boobies to stare!


SCENE III.

A Drawing-Boom at Lady Hazelwood’s.

Lady Hazelwood, Emma, Mary, Goldhawk, and Morrison.

Gold. My dear Mary, though you play with feeling and with tenderness, I prefer vocal music to the best toned instruments in the world.—Come, the glee, the glee; I have heard it but twice.

Lady H. Ay, do oblige us once more.—Emma, you are in voice to-day, and I am sure you are not unhappy by your looks—and, Mr. Morrison—

Mor. O, madam, I am much at your service, and will go over the stream whenever you please.

Glee for three Voices—Morrison, Emma, and Mary.

Love in a show’r safe shelter took
In a rosy bow’r beside a brook,
And wink’d and nodded with conscious pride
To his votaries, drench’d on the other side;
‘Come hither, sweet maids, there’s a bridge below,
The toll-keeper, Hymen, will let you through—
Come o’er the stream to me.’
Then over they went in a huddle together,
Not caring much about wind or weather;
The bow’r was sweet, and the show’r was gone,
Again broke forth th’ enlivening sun;
Some wish’d to return, but the toll-keeper said,
‘You’re a wife now, lassy, I pass’d you a maid;
Get back as you can for me!’

Mor. There now, my dear Emma, I have caught you in your own net; you won’t hear a word talked about Hymen and the rest of them, but you can sing heathenism as well as I can.

Emma. There’s a great deal of difference between talking and singing silly things: any nonsense will do for a song.

Gold. So it will, Emma; and one of our dramatic writers has said, that ‘Nonsense always sounds best when set to music:’—but what strange figure is this just coming to the door?

Enter a Stranger, unceremoniously.

Stran. Ladies, your most devoted—my name is Whirlwind—Jack Whirlwind, from town, at your service; fourth cousin to Lady Hazelwood, and fifth cousin to her daughter.—Father has been worrying me for this half-year to come and lose myself in country lanes, to look after his relations, and to pick up a wife amongst them—that’s what the old blade means at the bottom.

Lady H. Sir, you do me and my house great honour in this visit.

Whirl. O, I know I do, I know it.—That’s the girl, I dare say, (looking at Emma through a glass)—Don’t like her though, don’t like her at all—never saw her before in my life—she won’t do (aside, addressing himself to Goldhawk).—A ha! old gentleman—something of the military cut, I think (looking down him).—I say, who is that pretty little puss under her wing in the corner, ha?

Gold. That’s the dairy-maid, who has been a good girl this morning and pleased her mistress, and so is admitted into the drawing-room.

Whirl. Come, come, no gammon, old boy; it won’t do for me; I know the world.—I say, what wretched roads you have about you—you ought to be indicted; I ran my gig against a post upon the common, broke my shafts, been down to an old beast of a wheel-wright in the village to get it repaired.

Gold. Pray, sir, do you always talk as fast as you do now?

Whirl. Always talk, and ride, and drive, as fast as I can; it is the tip of the fashion—came forty miles in four hours!

Gold. I don’t recollect any post on the common, but a stump of the old gibbet.

Whirl. You are a queer old chap, I find—I’ll talk to the young one.—Now here’s a decent, promising young fellow. (To Morrison) What a pity you don’t take a season or two in Hyde-park; it would make quite another thing of you: you should see me drive four in hand, skim over the ground like a swallow: crash goes a wheel, either mine or another’s, no matter which.

Mor. But the damage, sir—who pays the bills?

Whirl. O, is it bills you are talking about? Why, father meets all my bills; have not paid a bill these five years.—I’ll tell you a secret—don’t like your girl at all. No need to be jealous—she is too cold—not one of my sort. Besides, I caught her laughing at my garb not a minute ago;—laugh at a man of my figure!— Poor country thing, she knows no better.

Mor. (Aside). Impudent puppy!

Emma (Her Hand on his shoulder). Donald, don’t disgrace yourself; let him alone, I love to see the thing jump round the room—let him alone, it is quite irresistible, it must out—ha, ha! ha, ha!

Whirl. There’s another specimen of country manners —laugh at a gentleman to his face!

Emma. Sir, I know I ought to beg pardon, but I am subject to fits; you must not mind me; I am often taken in this way, but very harmless, especially to my mother’s distant relations, ha, ha!

Whirl. Distant enough we shall continue, depend upon it.

Emma. What a pity!

Whirl. I say, little one, (to Mary) were you ever in town? No, I dare say not; buried alive in a forest, there’s a taste for you!—Do you know your own sweetheart when you see him, ha?

Mary. I know a coxcomb when I see him, which, thank Heaven, is very seldom.

Whirl. Ay, all alike, I see.

Lady H. I am sorry, sir, that my daughter and her young friend are so rude to you; but they will have their way.

Whirl. O, let them have their way by all means, and I’ll have mine.—Never stop long in a place; shall be in town again to-night, if my wheels and my tit will hold out.—Well, lieutenant (to Goldhawk), can I do any thing for you at the War-office?—Always glad to serve my friends!

Gold. Thank you !—To be sure, poor lieutenants have been assisted before now through very strange channels.

Whirl. As to you, young sportsman (to Morrison), I wish you plenty of game; always carry good flints, and mind your priming.—Shall call at the old wheelwright’s in my way, and then off like a meteor.—Bye, bye, cousin Hazelwood.

‘Scots wha hae with Wallace bled,’ &c.
‘Caledonia on wi me.’

[Exit Whirlwind.

Mor. There’s a fellow now to profane the names of Bruce, and Wallace, and Burns! There’s a pretty fellow to have a devoted nation at his heels, and a dreadful invader in his front! poh, poh, poh! If it were not for the great names which this thing has the impudence to pronounce, I should sink beneath his monkeyism, and be ashamed of my origin.

Emma (Laughing immoderately). Donald, this is a treat for you!

Lady H. Why really, Emma, you make yourself quite ridiculous.

Emma. I cannot help it, mamma. I saw you laugh yourself, when you spoke to him. Did you mark the tail of his coat? ha, ha, ha!

Gold. Now, for my part, I am glad he came so opportunely, for here Mary has seen a true specimen of what I meant by a ‘Lady’s protector.’ How do you like him, child?

Mary. Why, I wonder whom he broke loose from. I feel ashamed for him; and that is the worst feeling in the world, I should think, except feeling ashamed of one’s self.

Gold. Now will this madman go down and plague old Spokeum out of his life: I should like to see the meeting.

Emma. So should I—but why should this unexpected adventure deprive us of our afternoon’s pleasure? My fit is now almost over; but I shall remember the tail of his coat for this twelvemonth!

[Scene changes.



SCENE IV.

Spokeum’s House.

Enter Spokeum and Judith.

Spok. How I wish, Judie, that Joel had been at home when this strange fellow called; I shall never make him believe that such a being was ever trusted with a gig.

Jud. I never saw such a one however, and I have been half over the nation in my younger days with my Lady Hazelwood.

Enter Joel.

Spok. O my boy, I am glad you are come: have you seen the wild man?

Joel. Wild man, father, what do you mean?

Spok. Why he has been here; he rides in a thing for all the world like a butter-basket, and talks like a man in his sleep, all fits, and starts, and half sentences. He broke his shaft upon the common, either against the gallows or the old gibbet, I don’t know which, and I have been mending it; I got his half-crown though.

Jud. And, Joel, he has been up at the hall, for he asked me who that pretty little puss was that sat by the young lady.

Joel. He can’t mean Mary?

Jud. I don’t know what he meant, but those were his very words.

Spok. (returning in haste from the door).—Joel, don’t be alarmed, but I heard a horrible shriek up the road:—what shall we do?

Joel. Where’s my cudgel? Stand out of my way, Judie, you are always in the way: clear the road, I say.

Jud. My dear boy, don’t be so passionate.

[Exit Joel.

Don’t run yourself into danger; be advised. O dear, O dear, I might as well talk to a hail-storm: what strange things these great boys are! He’ll be gone half a mile before I can sit down and compose myself.



SCENE V.

The cross Road in the AvenueWhirlwind forcing Mary into his Carriage.

Whirl. Come along, my little charmer—I’ll make you happy as a princess—splendid apartments—drive a curricle—have a box at the opera every night— come along.

Mary. Unhand me, you robber!—you miscreant! O if Joel were here!

Enter Joel, who knocks him down.

Joel. What game are you at, you tallow-faced ruffian? Answer when you get up; I’ll give you time.

Whirl. Why I say, that you are an uncivil brute, and I’ll prosecute you for an assault.

Joel. And I say, if you have nothing better to urge, I’ll pound your head into pepper.

Mary. Dear Joel, don’t put yourself into a passion, and venture your life against such a man.

Joel. Venture my life! what my life against that farthing candle! I say, Mr. Dastard, Mr. Thief, or whatever name you may be, take yourself off as quick as possible.

Whirl. I have lost my hat.

Joel. Are you sure it is not your head? that loss would be a blessing to your family.

Whirl. Where’s my carriage?

Joel. O here’s your carriage, as you call it: be nimble, be nimble, be nimble, I tell you.

Whirl. Don’t murder me, and I will go as fast as I can get the reins; but you are a—

Joel. Come, no preaching, or I’ll put my shoulder against your butter-basket, as father calls it, and turn you all into the ditch in half a minute—be nimble.

Whirl. Well, I am going—but you are a set of country brutes all together, and don’t know how to behave to a gentleman.

[Exit Whirlwind.

Joel. Well, mayhap it may be so, for I have but just begun to learn.—Now, my dear Mary, the field is our own, as a soldier would say. How do you feel yourself? Were you very much frightened?

Mary. Not very much, though he came upon me here when I was taking my sun-set walk, as I call it; but when I knew my enemy, I turned angry, and then good-bye fainting and affectation; I have none of them.

Joel. Then you wanted a cudgel?

Mary. Yes, but I would not have used it so unmercifully as you did: I wonder you did not knock his brains out.

Joel. Poh! there was no fear of that: it was only a single rap—nothing but a bit of a taster.

Mary. But really we must part; we are not far from the house, and I would rather go in alone.—I’ll give a true account of the adventure to Emma and my lady; it shall be all to your credit.

Joel. Well, but no reward before we part?

Mary. Why I am not a queen, to dub you a knight on the field of battle!

Joel. No, but you can give me a reward of much greater value.

Mary. There, there, dear Joel, don’t be so foolish: let me go.—Farewell!

[Exit Mary.

Joel. There’s a girl for you now;—who would not break a cudgel in her defence? I would say so to half the world, if it was here to hear me; but my heart says so, and that’s all the same.

Here first I met the lovely maid,
When Hope was young, and dared not soar;
And round my heart the flame has play’d,
That binds me to these shades the more.
Touch’d by the breeze, with graceful swing,
The tow’ring branches mingling play,
When the sap dances up in spring,
And when their autumn leaves decay.
What joys may rural conquerors prove,
Far from the dreadful conflict’s roar!
I’ve rescued her, the maid I love;
Dear shades, I prize you still the more!


ACT III. SCENE I.

Enter Emma and Mary.

Emma. Poor little thing then, and was it almost ran away with, and not quite! O, if I could but have seen you kicking!

Mary. Indeed, Emma, he made no resistance after Joel came up, but ran away and yelpt, like a puppy as he is: but how can you be so provoking as to laugh at me? It may be your turn one of these days: pray what would you do in the same situation?

Emma. Do! why, kick and scream, most likely: and then it would be your turn to laugh, you know. But really, Mary, I don’t laugh at you, but at my own thoughts: I love you better every day I live; but for all that, it would have been a treat to have seen you kicking, you must have looked so formidable!

Mary. Now, have done with this trifling, for I have the captain to meet yet; and I dread him, for he will certainly either scold, or make game of his little girl, as he calls me.

Emma. No such thing: never fear him; he is a man of sense and principle. I would trust my honour and life in his keeping without a scruple. Besides, he will speak well of Joel, and then, I am sure, you will be friends.

Mary. I wish it was over though.

Enter Captain Goldhawk and Lady Hazelwood.

Gold. Well, my lady, I will think of all you have been saying: in the mean time keep up your spirits, whatever be the cause of your uneasiness.—So, Mary (addressing her), you have been in the wars, I hear! What, neither killed nor taken prisoner, ha? I have heard all about it. O, these whirlwinds are terrible things to encounter! I have seen a whirlwind take an oak by the top, and shiver him down to his very root like a whisp of grass!

Mary. That must have been a terrible sight indeed, sir; but, in your instance, it was the whirlwind struck the oak; in mine, it was the oak struck the whirlwind, for Joel was there.

Gold. Well said, child; it was nobly done, and I like the young fellow all the better for it: he rescued you from the clutches of a rascal—a soldier could have done no more!

Lady H. Really, captain, these are strange occurrences in our peaceable neighbourhood; and I begin to think that I must keep a watchful eye over Emma, or she may be attempted next.

Gold. Ay, very true, my lady; for there is a charming echo down by the forest side, and ‘Who but happy Donald.

Mary. Begging your pardon, sir, Donald, as you call him, is not a Jack Whirlwind, so that our cases are entirely dissimilar.

Emma. So they are, dear, thank you.

Gold. Ay, I see you will both stick to the same text; and, perhaps, it is best so, for you are not half wicked enough to be hypocrites, if you were to try.

Emma. Well, but, good captain, I was going to say that Mr. Morrison.—But, I declare, there is no talking in this house without interruption.

Enter Servant, speaking to Emma.

Serv. Madam, here is Betty, Mr. Morrison’s servant, all in tears; and begs to speak to you directly on matters of importance, she says.

Emma. Matters of importance? What can that mean, I wonder?—Morrison is not ill, I hope.—Let her come in.—Mamma, you will excuse it, I know.

Lady H. Certainly, child; but I feel rather alarmed, I confess.

Gold. Why, Lady Hazelwood, your house is like an enchanted castle; nothing but distressed damsels, assaults, rescues, and mysteries. I should not wonder if old Merlin were come again, and had taken up his quarters in the forest.

Enter Betty sobbing and curtsying.

Emma. Hey-day! Betty, what dreadful news have you to tell? Be firm, girl: why thus agitated?

Betty. O madam—my master is very angry, and I shall be turned away, and lose John Gosling besides. What will become of me? I know that a word of yours will do anything with master—do pray speak in my favour.

Emma. Well, I will, do all in my power; but compose yourself.—Very angry, say you? I never saw him so in my life. What have you done to provoke him?

Betty. O dear, madam, my troubles are all come at once, as they always do. A fox from the forest broke into the hen-house last night, and there is such a slaughter! and master is so angry: and the captain’s man has broken his shins over my pail—but that almost serves him right, for he can never let me alone.—And then there are the chickens—

Lady H. But what is all this to us? Do you think it worth crying about?

Betty. But, my Lady, the worst of it is to come: I have been churning the whole morning, and cannot get a mite of butter!—But I know the reason well enough.

Emma. Then be so good as to tell us, for I can make nothing of you yet.

Betty. Why, it is bewitched, madam.

Emma. Poh, poh, say no more.

Betty. Now, there lies the misfortune; for master don’t believe in witchcraft, and so I must lose my place. But, madam, as I passed old Nan Barret yesterday, with my new bonnet on, she gave me such an evil look, as would have spoiled all the cream in the county. I was sure that mischief would follow. A spiteful old creature! she looks as though she had never been young; and I am sure she never could have been handsome, for all the children in the parish are afraid of her.—Do pray speak for me, madam; for I never was so full of trouble in my life (Weeping).

Emma. Now, go along, you simpleton, and I promise you my entire interest in your behalf.

Betty. O, thank you, ma’am; and, I am sure, John will forgive me—I shall see him soon!

[Exit Betty.

Gold. Now, from the conduct and manner of that girl, who would not have guessed that the enemy had landed, the plague broke out, the army revolted, or some other national calamity had befallen us?

Emma. Well, but, dear sir, in any one of these cases, as in this, your man, John, must have been concerned, and Betty seems to live for nobody else.

Gold. It does look like it, indeed: let him take care of his shins though, and I shall have an eye to the pail myself, for I am going now to seek out Morrison: I want to talk with him.—Ladies, I leave you for the present—farewell.

Lady H. Farewell, captain: but we shall be sure to see you to-morrow?

Gold. True as the sun.

[Exit Goldhawk.

Emma. Now, dear mamma, let me have my way.—Your favourite remedy, you know, when the spirits are affected, is to get out of the house.—So come along, Mary; perhaps we shall meet with another Whirlwind, fine as the evening is—come along.

[Exeunt omnet.



SCENE II.

The Village Green, with Morrison’s House.

Goldhawk and Morrison meeting.

Gold. This is fortunate, for I was just taking a stroll down to speak to you.

Mor. Come in then, and let us talk over a glass.

Gold. No, I had rather be in the open air; I have been housed up too much to-day.—Have you noticed that Lady Hazelwood has been agitated and fidgety of late? I cannot make out the cause.

Mor. I have observed it, but Emma cannot or does not choose to inform me, and I have refrained from asking.

Gold. Well, she is very anxious that I should esteem and think well of young Joel, the wheelwright: to be sure she has known me from my childhood, and my wife was like her own sister; but she calls me her old friend and counsellor, though I have been living in India these twenty years.

Mor. True, whilst everybody in England believed you dead years ago.—But we will change our route, so as to meet your servant Gosling: I have something to give him, and then we can talk without interruption. Come, you can climb stiles, for we have no pioneers here, you know.

[Exeunt Goldhawk and Morrison.

Enter Betty.

Betty. I am glad you are gone, though you are a good master; for now I can meet John with some comfort—I hope he won’t disappoint me.

Song.

Come, John Gosling, put your Sunday clothes on;
Gladly shall I see you stump across the green,
And I’ll sing, dear John, by the couch that you repose on,
And bring you such ale as was never, never seen.
Come, lift the latch, John,
Let me see your face;
And who shall be so happy and so blest as I and you!
Here you’ll see the leaves a shaking,
Here you’ll hear the pigs a squeaking;
Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble; quack, quack, quack,
And cock a doodle doo!
Round our farm-yard yellow corn is growing,
Geese marching home with their cunning heads so high;
Down in the meads, John, there the cows are lowing;
The ducks in the pond, and the grunters in the sty.
Come, lift the latch, John, &c.

Well, what a tiresome thing this is—this ‘Will you, or won’t you’ sort of work—I hate it.—O! now I see him bobbing his head behind the blackthorns—that’s just to plague me now—but never mind, here he is.

Enter John.

Gos. Betty, you had not given me up, had you, Betty?—O, I have such news to tell you.

Betty. News!—my stars, what is it? Is it anything about me?

Gos. No, not a word about you; it is all in this bit of paper.

Betty. O, let me see it.

Gos. Well, don’t be in such a hurry; I have other things to talk of first. I have been thinking, Betty, that before we marry, it would be best to understand one another, as the gentlefolks do; not about jointures and pin-money, and all that, but—

Betty. Now, hang me if I have not been thinking about the very same thing—how odd that is now, is not it?

Gos. Come, stand close by my side thus, and I’ll tell you all about it. Hem! the first thing I shall grant is this, the poker shall always stand on your side of the fire-place—I will have nothing to do with it.

Betty. Well, that’s very reasonable of you, for I always manage our kitchen fire myself—but you’ll pay for coals and billets, I suppose?

Gos. Why—why—yes; I rather think that will fall to my share of course.

Betty. Well, now for the news then.

Gos. Don’t be in such a hurry, I say: I have another promise to make you.—When you shall happen to be going abroad, and shall spend a full hour in putting on your bonnet, looking for pins, and gloves, and pattens, and shall lose the beautiful sunshine, and be just ready when the rain pours down—I won’t be out of patience, if I can possibly help it.

Betty. Well, I am sure that is as much as any man can promise, before he has tried it.—Well, but now for the letter—I want the news—

Gos. Here it is, then. This was given me by no less a man than your master. Hear now what he lays—(reading the letter.)

‘The solicitor whom I employed in your behalf writes me thus—“Please to inform Mr. Gosling,—(Mr. Gosling! mind that), Mr. Gosling, that the sale of his father’s estate was not conducted with either law or justice; and that it will revert to him in about six months.”—Honest John, I am glad to have served you.

Donald Morrison.’

There now, what say you to that?

Betty. But what is revert?

Gos. Why revert means, ‘to come back;’ for I asked his honour, the captain, and he ought to know.

Betty. Then Duck Bottom comes back to John Gosling, ha!—That’s rare news, indeed! Come into the house and have some ale, and we’ll talk it all over.

Gos. Yes, Gosling John, as they call me, will now be Mr. Gosling, Freeholder:—Well, I always thought this hat was a silly-shaped thing, and too little for me, and now it won’t go on at all.

[Sets his hat fantastically, and exit with Betty.



SCENE III.

A Parlour in Hazelwood-Hall.

Morrison and Emma.

Mor. Why, my dear Emma—is it a month, or a week, or only a day and a half, since we met? It seems a length of time; but, I assure you, I have been much engaged.

Emma. O! I don’t doubt it: I dare say the doublebarrel and the powder-horn have been hard at work.

Mor. No, they’ve not, indeed.—But has Joel been here to-day or yesterday?

Emma. Not to my knowledge. But what can you have to do with that?

Mor. Nothing; only from a conversation I had last night with the captain, I thought he might have been here, nothing further.

Emma. So you have been engaged?

Mor. I have, indeed. Betty is made perfectly easy as to her late calamities; and I have procured for the captain’s man, John, the settlement of his affair about the freehold,—and—but hang it, how have you done all the while? What village news have you to communicate? You look most happy, and most lovely, but that’s no news at all.

Emma. Well, since you will be foolish in your own way, I will submit to be catechised. First then—I am here as you see.—My mamma and the captain are in close conference in the adjoining apartment—Mary has furnished herself with a book from the library, and is walking round the shrubbery as fast as her little legs can carry her—and old Spokeum is at work in the dairy, setting up a new churn.—There’s all the news at once.

Mor. O! thank you—quite a gazette! Never mind how trifling the subjects; if you are concerned in them, they must be interesting: even Love itself is oftener proved by trifles than by protestations; and I never loved this little village half so ardently as when I had been visiting the mountains of Scotland.

Air. (Morrison).

Thus thinks the trav’ler journeying still,
Where mountains rise sublime;
What but these scenes the heart can fill,
What charm like yonder giant hill?
—A molehill clothed with thyme.
What can exceed the joy of pow’r?
—That joy which conquerors prove
In sceptred rule—where all must cow’r;
What can exceed that mad’ning hour?
—Why, peace—and home—and love!

Enter Captain Goldhawk, followed by Lady Hazelwood.

Gold. Indeed, Lady Hazelwood, I have given you the best advice in my power in this delicate affair, in which you take such an interest; and I feel honoured in being thus consulted.

Lady H. I know I have troubled you, but I beg your further patience.

Mor. Had not we better retire, my lady? as we would not willingly intrude upon private conversation.

Gold. Retire! No, I won’t hear a word about it: in what I say all shall be ‘fair and above board,’ as the sailors have it: the more witnesses the better; and here comes one principally concerned.

Enter Mary.

Come hither, little innocent! We have been talking about you in your absence;—backbiting you, if you please.

Mary. Oh! sir, you are too noble to stoop to that, I am sure: and I have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear.

Gold. And where is the old man with his noisy hammer? he is father of the youth, and I will not offend any one: let him be called.

Emma. Indeed, mamma, you look pale: you had better be seated.

Enter Spokeum.

Gold. Emma, your mother has almost put me out of patience, but I here declare before you all, that, if I had as many children as old Priam, and any one of them had formed an attachment like this, so pure, so ardent, and so honourable, I would not ‘break it off,’ as my lady calls it; I would not attempt it. It would be a much more merciful deed to break their necks.

Lady H. Then I must declare to you, Captain Goldhawk, that as sure as you stand there, a living man, this dear girl, whom I have called Mary Maythorn, is your own child!

Spok. O dear, my lady, you look very ill.—Shall I run for the doctor?

Lady H. No, no—run for old Judith, and be quick. [Exit Spokeum in great haste.] Mary, kneel to your father, whilst I recover my breath.

Mary (Kneeling). Oh! I cannot speak !—Pity me —pray pity me. Good Heaven! What am I reserved for next?

Gold. My dear little soul, if this be all true, you are reserved to be a comfort to the old age of your father; and the girl who would not be proud of such an office—may she be sent to sent to—Java, that’s all. Rise, rise, I beg of you, and let us hear more about it.

Emma. Now, my friend and playfellow, (embracing her) I can congratulate you with my whole heart. Pray be firm, and happiness lies before you.

Mary. But where is Joel? I must be the first bearer of this news, or I am sure he will break his heart, either with joy or desperation.

Lady H. Child, you are too late; the old man has got the start of you, and you will never overtake him.

Mary. I beg your pardon, madam, but I must go— I will go.

[Exit Mary.

Gold. But, Lady Hazelwood, was not I informed, by the very last letters which reached me, when the ship was getting under sail, that my wife was dead, and the infant dead too?

Lady H. Yes, yes, you were; but Providence ordered otherwise: the child revived, and I took it under my special care, whilst you were bounding over the billows.—Old Judith knows all about it.

Gold. But I have been home some months: why not have informed me before? Was this kindly done?

Lady H. Yes, and justly done too—for I was resolved that you should judge with your own eyes of the strength of their affection, before I put it into your power to crush them into misery.—Nay, I tell you more—Had you now suffered false pride, or any other unworthy feeling, to triumph over your better nature, I would—sooner than have seen the girl’s heart torn out of her bosom by a separation,—I would have kept my secret till the hour of my death. But you have passed your word, and you are a man of honour.

Mor. Why, captain, you are fairly caught, and I almost envy your feelings, though I am not a father. I am perfectly astounded at all this, and you ought to sit and compose yourself.

Emma. Dear mamma, let me advise once again: let us adjourn to a larger apartment, for they will be all here together, and you will have enough to do to meet them.—Come, take my arm.

Mor. And mine; and you, captain, lead the van, like a conqueror, as you are. [Exeunt.



SCENE IV.

The Avenue very near the House.

Joel and Mary meeting.

Joel. O my best life, if I may still call you so, I have heard the news, and have outrun my father to find you—and now for joy or misery.

Mary. But pray take breath, and compose yourself for a moment before you speak.

Joel. No, I won’t—for if you reject me, I don’t care five straws whether I ever breathe again. Will you, now you are a lady, permit me to walk with you, to talk with you, and still to hope?

Mary. Be calm, I beg of you.

Joel. Well, I am calm, as a man can be, who has more than his life at stake.—Will you forget the avenue—the moonlight—the flowers—and my thousand vows of everlasting love, and all I have done to prove it?

Mary. O Joel, hear reason but for a moment.

Joel. Will you, now you are climbing the ladder of life so far above me, spurn me down, because I am a poor man’s son?

Mary. You torture me—you break my heart! How can you think so meanly of me? Only hear me: if we fail at last, I shall be distressed too.

Joel. No; there I defy them! Distress shall never come whilst I have a pair of arms to chop out a cart wheel.

Mary. You strange man—will you hear me? You mistake me still. Must I speak plainer? Well, then will you go with me into the house, and face them all, and show yourself a man?

Joel. Yes!—What else?

Mary. My father—(Oh! that I should ever live to say that word)—my father is very kind and considerate, and holds you in high esteem: all may be right yet—Will you go?

Joel. Will I go at your bidding? Yes, to the world’s end, barefoot!—Will I go? Ay, if all Captain Goldhawk’s serpents and tigers should guard the door,—see if I won’t!

[Exeunt.



SCENE V.

The Drawing-Room in Hazelwood-Hall.

Goldhawk and Lady Hazelwood, MORRISON and Emma.

Gold. Now, Morrison, that I have found a child, I have something to live for; and when the fine autumnal weather is propitious, I’ll have a tent fixed in the forest, and we’ll all be merry as gipsies.

Emma. Ay, and in the spring too, captain; for that is my season of delight.

Mor. Ay, and of mine, my dearest; and you shall dance amongst the cowslips with our happy-hearted Mary.

Gold. And so, Lady Hazelwood, she has been a good girl, and sensible of all your kindness?

Lady H. Indeed she possesses virtuous feelings and unbounded affection—and what more can he said of a woman?—Here she comes.

Enter Mary and Joel.

Gold. And so, my little comforter, you ran away from me as soon as you had found me?

Mary. Indeed, sir, I felt as though I had two hearts, and I did not know which to obey first. Pray forgive this rudeness; I am sure you will love me the better for it.

Gold. O, it’s all forgiven.—‘Two hearts,’ did you say? Then I’ll contrive you shall obey them both in a short time; and we will have such charming evenings, and I’ll tell you all my old stories about my voyage round the Cape, and all the dreadful lightnings of the Indian Ocean, and all about the tigers of Java!

Mary. O! sir, you really terrify me with the bare thought of the tigers.

Gold. Poh! it’s all nonsense, child: why a tiger is nothing more than a great overgrown cat, that don’t like to be coaxed when he is wild.

Mor. Joel, you are a lucky fellow! I’ll engage that the way is all clear before you—you are a happy man!

Joel (bowing). Sir, may I humbly return the compliment?—for the Lady Emma is—

Emma. Hush! here is more company coming.

Enter Spokeum and Judith.

Judith. O, my lady! Spokeum has dragged me along so fast, that I can hardly say how glad I am to see this happy hour—and Miss Emma here and all!

Emma. Judie, you ought to be proud of having performed your duty so well: cheer up, and we shall be all friends together.

Gold. Come, come, I see I can put an end to all this; not by the word of command, but a word of entreaty.—Lady Hazelwood, think of my friend Morrison, and give him your stag-hunting and heathen-loving daughter; and I will follow your example—join their hands.

Lady H. There, captain, I have done it. This is the happiest hour of my life !—May Heaven’s blessing fall upon your heads!

Gold. Joel, my honest lad, come hither; you shall marry my daughter, as sure as a gun: and you, faithful old Judith, shall have fifty pounds a year as long as you live.

Joel. There, old lassy, there!—What do you think of me now?—Come out and help me to jump—come out, I say (seizing both her hands).

Judith. Consider my corns—oh, my corns, Joel; you know I can’t jump:—don’t make yourself quite a fool, boy—don’t.

Joel. Why, bless your old heart, you look almost as young and as handsome as Mary!

(Kissing her violently).

Spok. And so here have been two women keeping a secret for years together!—Was ever such a thing heard of?

Emma. You must not be too much astonished, Spokeum—but you may say three women; for I have known it ever since the captain came home.

Spok. What, three women kept a secret! why this is more surprising still! it is more wonderful than picking hops by machinery!

Mor. You must be calm, old neighbour, since it is all in your favour.

Spok. Well, sir, begging your honour’s pardon, I am as calm as ever I was in my life—but, Judie, I say, old woman, how is this that you never dropped a word of this affair to me?

Judith. It was because I know you; for when you have a little drop of drink in your head (and a very little will do it), you are apt to blab out everything that you know.

Spok. Humph! mayhap you will say that I have got drink in my head now; but I declare that I have had but two horns of ale since I came into the house—(it was plaguey strong though); and I don’t care what you say—go on—I tell you I don’t care.

Judith. Ay, don’t care, that’s always your word when you are a little vexed; but I know you of old.

Spok. Well, I tell you again, then, I don’t care.— Hang me if I care, at this minute, for any man in all the whole globe of England!—there, now.

Emma. Why, Spokeum, don’t suffer yourself to be angry; we are all met here to be happy.—Is it not so, mamma?

Lady H. Yes, certainly, child, and who would interrupt it?

Spok. Not I, my lady. I’ll warrant I’ll be as merry as my betters, for who is to mind what that old woman is squeaking about?—I don’t care a farthing for her.

Emma. O, Morrison, John and Betty are coming.

Mor. So much the better, my life. I guess their errand; it will soon be over.

Enter John and Betty.

Gos. ‘Most noble sir, for all favours received, I have thought it my bounden duty to’—what was the next, Betty?

Betty. O, don’t ask me; I have forgot every word of it, I’m sure.

Gos. An’ please your honour, I had made a little speech on purpose, but in coming along we have both forgot it. However the long and the short of the story is this—I thank your honour for the restoration of Duck-Bottom—(ay, ‘restoration,’ that was one of the words, I am sure).

Mor. O, say no more, John; you are perfectly welcome to all the services I can render you at any time.

Betty. And, sir, an’ please your honour; and now my husband (that is to be) is a freeholder (curtsying), and sure as I shall be called Mistress Gosling, I promise never to set a pail in his way the longest day I have to live.

Gold. Come, come, Morrison, have done with all that, and look after your fiddlers: what are they all about?

Mor. Why, they are all here, captain, and only wait the beck of my finger to set them off.

Finale.

Mor. Now, my noble forest shades,
Oaks, perform your duty!
And every cowslip in your glades
Shall bow its head to beauty.
Emma. Villagers, away with care!
Fashion—fie upon her!
Pomp and tinsel we can spare,
For peace and love, and honour.

(The sound of bells at a distance).

Chorus.

Ring the bells and banish sorrow,
Joy and sunshine come to-morrow.
Joel. The wheel of fortune whirls around,
To bring us grief or pleasure;
But I the girl of girls have found—
A fig for rank and treasure!
Mary. Mine’s the double prize at last,
And double raptures move me—
A father’s arms to hold me fast—
An honest man to love me!

Chorus.

Ring the bells and banish sorrow,
Joy and sunshine come to-morrow.

[Exeunt omnes.]

Notes

[1] Perhaps a humorous reference to Bloomfield’s brother Isaac (d. 1811), who had devised a mechanical pea/potato planter. See Letter 227. BACK

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