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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 conference is done, we will if you please, retire to the ladies : I shall be always glad of your acquaintance, though I cannot receive you as a son-in-law, for a union of interest I look upon as a union of dishonour, and consider a marriage for money, at best, but a legal prostitution.
WEALTH IN MARRIAGE SACRIFICED TO LOVE.
SIR JOHN MELVIL, STERLING. Sterl. What are your commands with me, sir John ?
Sir John. After having carried the negociation 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 an 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 uneasiness. 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 assist. ance of your friendship, 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 to put an affront upon my family? What! 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 not you 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
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 no 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 come to market for my daughters, like servants at a statutefair? Do you think that I will suffer you, or any man in the world, to come into my house, like the grand seignior, 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! Nothing 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 atone for my transgression, by making the most adequate compensation that lies in my power.
Sterl. Compensation! what compensation can you possibly make 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 between us, on the day of my marriage with Miss Sterling, you agree to pay down the gross sum of eighty thousand pounds.
Sterl. Well !
Sir John. Now if you will but consent to my waving that marriagem
Sterl. I agree to your waving that marriage ? Impossible, sir John!
Sir John. I hope not, sir; as on my part, I will agree to wave my right to thirty thousand pounds of the fortane I was to receive with her.
Sterl. Thirty thousand, do you say?
Sir John. Yes, sir ; and accept of Miss Fanny with fifty thousand, instead of fourscore.
Sterl. Fifty thousand-
Sterl. Why, why, there may be something in that. Let me see ; Fanny with fifty thousand, instead of Betsey with fourscore. But how can this be, sir John? For you know I am to pay this money into the hands of my lord Ogleby; who, I believe, betwixt you and me, sir John, is not overstocked with ready money at present; and threescore thousand of it, you know, is to go to
off the present incumbrances on the estate, sir John.
Sir John. That objection is easily obviated. Ten of the twenty thousand, which would remain as a surplus of the fourscore, after paying off the mortgage, was intended by his lordship for my use, that we might set off with some little eclat on our marriage; and the other ten for his own. Ten thousand pounds therefore I shall be able to pay
you immediately; and for the remaining twenty thousand, you shall have a mortgage on that part of the estate which is to be made over to me, with whatever security you shall require for the regular payment of the interest, till the principal is duly discharged.
Sterl. Why, to do you justice, sir John, there is something fair and open in your proposal ; and since I find you do not mean to put an affront upon the family,
Sir John. Nothing was ever further from my thoughts, Mr. Sterling. And after all, the whole affair is nothing extraordinary; such things happen every day; and as the world has only heard generally of a treaty between the families, when this marriage takes place, nobody will be the wiser, if we have but discretion enough to keep our own counsel.
Sterl. True, true; and since you only transfer from one girl to the other, it is no more than transferring so much stock, you kuow.
Sir John. The very thing.
Sterl. Odso! I had quite forgot. We are reckoning without our host here. There is another diffi. culty
Sir John, You alarm me. What can that be?
Sterl. I cannot stir a step in this business without consulting my sister Heidelberg. The family has very great expectations from her, and we must not give her
offence. Sir John. But if you come into this measure, surely she will be so kind as to consent
Sterl. I do not know that. Betsey is her