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of each other; she all laugh and no joke; he always complaining and never sorrowful; a fretful poor soul, that has a new distress for every hour in the four and twenty
Hon. Hush, hush, he's coming up, he'll hear you.
Jar. A raven that bodes nothing but mischief; a coffin and cross bones; a bundle of rue; a sprig of deadly nightshade; a-[Honeywood stopping his mouth, at last pushes him off.]
[Exit Jarvis. Hon. I must own my old monitor is not entirely wrong. There is something in my friend Croaker's conversation that quite depresses me. His very mirth is an antidote to all gaiety, and his appearance has a stronger effect on my spirits than an undertaker's shop.—Mr. Croaker, this is such a satisfaction
Enter CROAKER. Cro. A pleasant morning to Mr. Honeywood, and many of them. How is this! you look most shockingly to-day, my dear friend. I hope this weather does not affect your spirits. To be sure, if this weather continues -I say nothing—But God send we be all better this day three months.
Hon. I heartily concur in the wish, though I am not in your apprehensions.
Cro. May be not! indeed what signifies what weather
have in a country going to ruin like ours? taxes rise ing, and trade falling. Money flying out of the kingdom, and Jesuits swarming into it. I know at this time no less than a hundred and twenty-seven Jesuits between Charing-cross and Temple-bar.
Hon. The Jesuits will scarce pervert you or me, I should hope.
Cro. May be not. Indeed what signifies whom they pervert in a country that has scarce any religion to lose? I'm only afraid for our wives and daughters.
Hon. I have no apprehensions for the ladies, I assure you.
Cro. May be not. Indeed what signifies whether they be perverted or no? the women in my time were good for something. I have seen a lady dressed from top to toe in her own manufactures formerly. But now-a-days the devil a thing of their own manufacture's about them, except their faces.
Hon. But, however these faults may be practised abroad, you don't find them at home, either with Mrs. Croaker, Olivia, or Miss Richland.
Cro. The best of them will never be canonized for a saint when she's dead. By the by, my dear friend, I don't find this match between Miss Richland and my son much relished, either by one side or t’other.
Hon. I thought otherwise.
Cro. Ah, Mr. Honeywood, a little of your fine serious advice to the young lady might go far: I know she has a very exalted opinion of your understanding.
Hon. But would not that be usurping an authority that more properly belongs to yourself?
Cro. My dear friend, you know but little of 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 upon every one of my privileges, that I'm 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 and haggling. A man is tired of getting the better before his wife is tired of losing the victory.
Hon. It's 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, these 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-Poor Dick.
[Going to cry. 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 as fast asleep as we do.
Hon. To say truth, if we compare that part of life. which is to come, by that which we have past, the prospect is hideous.
Cro. Life at the greatest and best is but a froward child, that must be humoured and coaxed a little till it falls asleep, and then all the care is over.
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 Leontine shan't 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 how the late earthquake is coming round to pay us another visit from London to Lisbon, from Lisbon to the Canary Islands, from the Canary Islands to Palmyra, from Palmyra to Constantinople, and so from Constantinople back to London again.
[Erit. Hon. Poor Croaker! his situation deserves the utmost pity. I shall scarce recover my spirits these three days. Sure, to live upon such terms is worse than death itself. And yet, when I consider my own situation, a broken fortune, a hopeless passion, friends in distress; the wish, but not the power to serve them. [Pausing and sighing.]
Enter BUTLER. But. More company below, sir: Mrs. Croaker and Miss Richland; shall I show them up? but they're showing up themselves.
[Erit. Enter Mrs. CROAKER and Miss RICHLAND. Miss Rich. You're always in such spirits.
Mrs. Cro. We have just come, my dear Honeywood, from the auction. There was the old deaf dowager, as usual, bidding like a fury against herself. And then so curious in antiques! herself the most genuine piece of antiquity in the whole collection.
Hon. Excuse me, ladies, if some uneasiness from friendship makes me unfit to share in this good humour: I know you'll pardon me.
Mrs. Cro. I vow he seems as melancholy as if he had taken a dose of my husband this morning. Well, if Richland here can pardon you, I must.
Miss Rich. You would seem to insinuate, madam, that I have particular reasons for being disposed to refuse it.
Mrs. Cro. Whatever I insinuate, my dear, don't be so ready to wish an explanation.
Miss Rich. I own I should be sorry Mr. Honeywood's long friendship and mine should be misunderstood.
Hon. There's no answering for others, madam. But I hope you'll never find me presuming to offer more than the most delicate friendship may readily allow.
Miss Rich. And I shall be prouder of such a tribute from you, than the most passionate professions from others.
Hon. My own sentiments, madam: friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.
Miss Rich. And, without a compliment, I know none more disinterested, or more capable of friendship, than Mr. Honeywood.
Mrs. Cro. And, indeed, I know nobody that has more friends, at least among the ladies. Miss Pruzz, Miss Odbody, and Miss Winterbottom, praise him in all com