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ACT THE FIRST.
Enter MRS BEVERLEY and CHARLOTTE. Mrs Bev. Be comforted, my dear, all may be well yet. And now, methinks, the lodging begins to look with another face. Oh, sister! sister! if these were all my hardships; if all I had to complain of were no more than quitting my house, servants, equipage, and show, your pity would be weakness.
Char. Is poverty nothing then?
Mrs Bev. Nothing in the world, if it affected only me. While we had a fortune, I was the happiest of the rich ; and now 'tis gone, give me but a bare subsistence and
husband's smiles, and I'll be the happiest of the poor. To me now, these lodgings want nothing but their master ! - Why do you look so at me ? Char. That I
brother. Mrs Bev. Don't talk so, Charlotte.
Char. Has he not undone you?-Oh, this perni. cious vice of gaming! But methinks his usual hours
of four or five in the morning might have contented him, 'twas misery enough to wake for him till then. Need he have staid out all night !--I shall learn to detest him,
Mrs Bev. Not for the first fault. He never slept from me before.
Char. Slept from you! No, no, his nights have nothing to do with sleep. How has this one vice driven him from every virtue!..Nay, from his affections too !--The time was, sister
Mrs Bev. And is. I have no fear of his affections. "Would I knew that he were safe!
Char. From ruin and his companions. But that's impossible. His poor little boy, too! What must become of him?
Mrs Bev. Why, want shall teach him industry. From his father's mistakes he shall learn prudence, and from his mother's resignation, patience. Poverty has no such terrors in it as you imagine, There's no condition of life, sickness and pain excepted, where happiness is excluded. The husbandman, who rises early to his labour, enjoys more welcome rest at night for't. His bread is sweeter to him; his home happier; his family dearer; his enjoyments surer. The sun that rouses him in the morning, sets in the evening to release him. All situations have their comforts if sweet contentment dwell in the heart. But my poor Beverley has none. The thought of having ruined those he loves is misery for ever to him. Would I could ease his mind of that!
Char. If he alone were ruined 'twere just he should be punished. He is my brother, 'tis true ; but when I think of what he has done of the fortune you brought him--of his own large estate too, squandered away upon this vilest of passions, and among the vilest of wretches! Oh, I have no patience !-My own little fortune is untouched, he says. 'Would I were sure on't!
I have my
Mrs Bed. And so you may-'twould be a sin to doubt it.
Char. I will be sure on't-'twas madness in me to give it to his management. But I'll demand it from him this morning. I have a melancholy occasion for it. Mrs Bev. What occasion ? . Char. To support a sister. Mrs Bev. No; I have no need on't. Take it, and reward a lover with it. The generous Lewson deserves much more. -Why won't you make him happy?
Char. Because my sister's miserable.
Mrs Bev. You must not think so. jewels left yet. And when all's gone, these hands sball toil for our support.
The poor should be industrious Why those tears, Charlotte ?
Char. They flow in pity for you. Mrs Bev. All may be well yet. When he has nothing to lose, I shall fetter him in these arms again; and then what is it to be poor?
Char. Cure him but of this destructive passion, and my uncle's death may retrieve all yet.
Mrs Bev. Ay, Charlotte, could we cure him! But the disease of play admits no cure but poverty ; and the loss of another fortune would but increase his shame and his affliction. Will Mr Lewson call this morning?
Char. He said so last night. He gave me hints too, that he had suspicions of our friend Stukely.
Mrs Bev. Not of treachery to my husband ? That he loves play I know, but surely lie's honest.
Char. He would fain be thought so ;--therefore I doubt him. Honesty needs no pains to set itself off.
Lucy. Your old steward, madam. I had not the
heart to deny him admittance, the good old man begg'd so hard for't.
[Exit Lucy. Enter. JARVIS. Mrs Bev. Is this well, Jarvis ? I desired you to
Jar. Did you, madam? I am an old man, and had forgot. Perhaps, too, you forbade my tears; but I am old, madam, and age will be forgetful.
Mrs Bev. The faithful creature! how he moves me!
[T. CHARLOTTE. Jar. I have forgot these apartments too. I remember none such in my young master's house; and yet I have lived in't these five-and-twenty years. His good father would not have dismissed me.
Mrs Bev. He had no reason, Jarvis.
Jar. I was faithful to him while he lived, and when he died he bequeathed me to his son. I have been faithful to him too.
Mrs Bev. I know it, Jarvis, I know it.
Jar. I am an old man, madam, and have not a long time to live. I asked but to have died with him, and he dismissed me.
Mrs Bev. Pr’ythee no, more of this ! 'Twas his poverty
that dismissed you. Jar. Is he indeed so poor, then-Oh! he was the joy of my old heart-But must his creditors have all ?
And have they sold his house too? His father built it when he was but a prating boy. The times that I have carried him in these arms! And, Jarvis, says he, when a beggar has asked charity of me, why should people be poor? You sha'n't be poor, Jarvis; if I were a king nobody should be poor. Yet he is poor. And then he was so brave! Oh, he was a brave little boy! And yet so merciful, he'd not have killed the gnat that stung him.
Mrs Bev. Speak to him, Charlotte, for I cannot. Jar. I have a little money, madam; it might have