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Amen, responded my uncle Toby, laying his hand upon his heart.
STERNE. CHAP. V.
Rivers and Sir Harry. Sir Har. Colonel, your most obedient ; } am come upon the old business ; for unless I am allowed to entertain hopes of Miss Rivers, I shall be the most miserable of all human beings.
Riv. Sir Harry, I have already told you by letter, and I now tell you personally, I cannot listen to your proposals.
Sir Har. No Sir ?
Riv. No, Sir, I have promised my daughter lo Mr. Sidney ; do you know that, Sir ?
Sir Har. I do; but what then ! Engagements of this kind, you know-
Riv. So then, you do know I have promised her to Mr. Sidney ?
Sir Har. I do ; but I also know that matters are not finally settled between Mr. Sidney and you ; and I moreover know, that his fortune is by no means equal to mine, therefore-
Riv. Sir Harry, let me ask you one question before you make your consequence.
Sir Har. A thousand if you please, Sir.
Riv. Why then , Sir, let me ask you, what you
have ever 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 nry 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 have no regard for me , shew some little gard for your daughter.
Riv. I shew the greatest regard for my 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
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 believe-
Riv. Well, Sir Harry, and as our confe
rence is done, we wilt, if you please, retire to the ladies : I shall always be gaad of your acquaintance, though I cannot receive you as a son-in-law ; for a union of interests I look upon as a union of dishonour , and consider a marriage for money , at best, but a legal prostitution.
Sir John Melvil and Sterling. Sterl. What are your commends with me, Sir John ?
Sir John. After having carried the negocia. tion 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 unessiness : - 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, in a state of inexpressible embarrassment; Miss Sterling, I know, is extremely, disconcerted too ; and unless you will oblige me with the assistance of your friend
ship, 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 ts put an affront upon my family ? \Vhat! 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 you not tell me but 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 110 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 Fanny.
Sterl. Mighty fine, truly! Why, what the plague do you make of us, Sir John ? Do you comme 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 Signior, and throw the handkerchief first to one, and then to't'other , just as he pleases ? Do you think I drive a kind of African slave - trade with them ? and-
Sir John. A moment's patience, Sir ! No thing 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 attone for my transgression, by making the most adequate compensation that lies in my power.
Sterl. Compensation ! What compensation can you possibly nake 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 beIween us, on the day of my marriage with Miss Sterling , you agreed to pay down the gross sum of eigthy thousand pounds.
Sterl. Well !
Sir Johri. Now if you will but consent to my waving that marriage-
Sterl. I agree to your waving tlat marriage ? Impossible , Sir John!
Sir John. I hope not, Sir; as on my part, I will agree to wave my right to thirty thou