The School for Scandal, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Act III

SCENE I. — At Sir Peter’s

Sir Peter, Sir Oliver, and Rowley

Sir Peter. Well, then, we will see the Fellows first and have our wine afterwards. — but how is this, Master Rowley — I don’t see the Jet of your scheme.

Rowley. Why Sir — this Mr. Stanley whom I was speaking of, is nearly related to them by their mother. He was once a merchant in Dublin — but has been ruined by a series of undeserved misfortunes — and now lately coming over to solicit the assistance of his friends here — has been flyng [flung] into prison by some of his Creditors — where he is now with two helpless Boys. —

Sir Oliver. Aye and a worthy Fellow too I remember him. But what is this to lead to —?

Rowley. You shall hear — He has applied by letter both to Mr. Surface and Charles — from the former he has received nothing but evasive promises of future service, while Charles has done all that his extravagance has left him power to do — and He is at this time endeavouring to raise a sum of money — part of which, in the midst of his own distresses, I know He intends for the service of poor Stanley.

Sir Oliver. Ah! he is my Brother’s Son.

Sir Peter. Well, but how is Sir Oliver personally to —

Rowley. Why Sir I will inform Charles and his Brother that Stanley has obtain’d permission to apply in person to his Friends — and as they have neither of them ever seen him[,] let Sir Oliver assume his character — and he will have a fair opportunity of judging at least of the Benevolence of their Dispositions.

Sir Peter. Pshaw! this will prove nothing — I make no doubt Charles is Coxcomb and thoughtless enough to give money to poor relations if he had it —

Sir Oliver. Then He shall never want it — . I have brought a few Rupees home with me Sir Peter — and I only want to be sure of bestowing them rightly. —

Rowley. Then Sir believe me you will find in the youngest Brother one who in the midst of Folly and dissipation — has still, as our immortal Bard expresses it, —

“a Tear for Pity and a Hand open as the day for melting Charity.”

Sir Peter. Pish! What signifies his having an open Hand or Purse either when He has nothing left to give! — but if you talk of humane Sentiments — Joseph is the man — Well, well, make the trial, if you please. But where is the fellow whom you brought for Sir Oliver to examine, relative to Charles’s affairs?

Rowley. Below waiting his commands, and no one can give him better intelligence — This, Sir Oliver, is a friendly Jew, who to do him justice, has done everything in his power to bring your nephew to a proper sense of his extravagance.

Sir Peter. Pray let us have him in.

Rowley. Desire Mr. Moses to walk upstairs.

[Calls to Servant.]

Sir Peter. But Pray why should you suppose he will speak the truth?

Rowley. Oh, I have convinced him that he has no chance of recovering certain Sums advanced to Charles but through the bounty of Sir Oliver, who He knows is arrived; so that you may depend on his Fidelity to his interest. I have also another evidence in my Power, one Snake, whom I shall shortly produce to remove some of YOUR Prejudices[,] Sir Peter[,] relative to Charles and Lady Teazle.

Sir Peter. I have heard too much on that subject.

Rowley. Here comes the honest Israelite.

Enter Moses

— This is Sir Oliver.

Sir Oliver. Sir — I understand you have lately had great dealings with my Nephew Charles.

Moses. Yes Sir Oliver — I have done all I could for him, but He was ruined before He came to me for Assistance.

Sir Oliver. That was unlucky truly — for you have had no opportunity of showing your Talents.

Moses. None at all — I hadn’t the Pleasure of knowing his Distresses till he was some thousands worse than nothing, till it was impossible to add to them.

Sir Oliver. Unfortunate indeed! but I suppose you have done all in your Power for him honest Moses?

Moses. Yes he knows that — This very evening I was to have brought him a gentleman from the city who does not know him and will I believe advance some money.

Sir Peter. What[!] one Charles has never had money from before?

Moses. Yes[ — ]Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars.

Sir Peter. Egad, Sir Oliver a Thought strikes me! — Charles you say does’nt know Mr. Premium?

Moses. Not at all.

Sir Peter. Now then Sir Oliver you may have a better opportunity of satisfying yourself than by an old romancing tale of a poor Relation — go with my friend Moses and represent Mr. Premium and then I’ll answer for’t you’ll see your Nephew in all his glory.

Sir Oliver. Egad I like this Idea better than the other, and I may visit Joseph afterwards as old Stanley.

Sir Peter. True so you may.

Rowley. Well this is taking Charles rather at a disadvantage, to be sure — however Moses — you understand Sir Peter and will be faithful —

Moses. You may depend upon me — and this is near the Time I was to have gone.

Sir Oliver. I’ll accompany you as soon as you please, Moses — but hold — I have forgot one thing — how the plague shall I be able to pass for a Jew?

Moses. There’s no need — the Principal is Christian.

Sir Oliver. Is He — I’m very sorry to hear it — but then again — an’t I rather too smartly dressed to look like a money-Lender?

Sir Peter. Not at all; ‘twould not be out of character, if you went in your own carriage — would it, Moses!

Moses. Not in the least.

Sir Oliver. Well — but — how must I talk[?] there’s certainly some cant of usury and mode of treating that I ought to know.

Sir Peter. Oh, there’s not much to learn — the great point as I take it is to be exorbitant enough in your Demands hey Moses?

Moses. Yes that’s very great Point.

Sir Oliver. I’ll answer for’t I’ll not be wanting in that — I’ll ask him eight or ten per cent. on the loan — at least.

Moses. You’ll be found out directly — if you ask him no more than that, you’ll be discovered immediately.

Sir Oliver. Hey! — what the Plague! — how much then?

Moses. That depends upon the Circumstances — if he appears not very anxious for the supply, you should require only forty or fifty per cent. — but if you find him in great Distress, and want the monies very bad — you may ask double.

Sir Peter. A good — [h]onest Trade you’re learning, Sir Oliver —

Sir Oliver. Truly, I think so — and not unprofitable —

Moses. Then you know — you haven’t the monies yourself, but are forced to borrow them for him of a Friend.

Sir Oliver. O I borrow it of a Friend do I?

Moses. And your friend is an unconscion’d Dog — but you can’t help it.

Sir Oliver. My Friend’s an unconscionable Dog, is he?

Moses. Yes — and He himself hasn’t the monies by him — but is forced to sell stock — at a great loss —

Sir Oliver. He is forced to sell stock is he — at a great loss, is he — well that’s very kind of him —

Sir Peter. Efaith, Sir Oliver — Mr. Premium I mean — you’ll soon be master of the Trade — but, Moses would have him inquire if the borrower is a minor —

Moses. O yes —

Sir Peter. And in that case his Conscience will direct him —

Moses. To have the Bond in another Name to be sure.

Sir Oliver. Well — well I shall be perfect —

Sir Peter. But hearkee wouldn’t you have him also run out a little against the annuity Bill — that would be in character I should think —

Moses. Very much —

Rowley. And lament that a young man now must be at years of discretion before He is suffered to ruin himself!

Moses. Aye, great Pity!

Sir Peter. And abuse the Public for allowing merit to an act whose only object is to snatch misfortune and imprudence from the rapacious Relief of usury! and give the minor a chance of inheriting his estate without being undone by coming into Possession.

Sir Oliver. So — so — Moses shall give me further instructions as we go together.

Sir Peter. You will not have much time[,] for your Nephew lives hard bye —

Sir Oliver. Oh Never — fear[:] my Tutor appears so able that tho’ Charles lived in the next street it must be my own Fault if I am not a compleat Rogue before I turn the Corner —

[Exeunt Sir Oliver and Moses.]

Sir Peter. So — now I think Sir Oliver will be convinced — you shan’t follow them Rowley. You are partial and would have prepared Charles for ‘tother plot.

Rowley. No upon my word Sir Peter —

Sir Peter. Well, go bring me this Snake, and I’ll hear what he has to say presently. I see Maria, and want to speak with her. —

[Exit Rowley.]

I should be glad to be convinced my suspicions of Lady Teazle and Charles were unjust — I have never yet opened my mind on this subject to my Friend Joseph. . . . I am determined. I will do it — He will give me his opinion sincerely. —

Enter Maria

So Child — has Mr. Surface returned with you —

Maria. No Sir — He was engaged.

Sir Peter. Well — Maria — do you not reflect[,] the more you converse with that amiable young man[,] what return his Partiality for you deserves?

Maria. Indeed Sir Peter — your frequent importunity on this subject distresses me extremely — you compell me to Declare that I know no man who has ever paid me a particular Attention whom I would not prefer to Mr. Surface —

Sir Peter. Soh! Here’s Perverseness — no — no — Maria, ’tis Charles only whom you would prefer — ’tis evident his Vices and Follies have won your Heart.

Maria. This is unkind Sir — You know I have obey’d you in neither seeing nor corresponding with him — I have heard enough to convince me that He is unworthy my regard — Yet I cannot think it culpable — if while my understanding severely condemns his Vices, my Heart suggests some Pity for his Distresses.

Sir Peter. Well well pity him as much as you please, but give your Heart and Hand to a worthier object.

Maria. Never to his Brother!

Sir Peter. Go — perverse and obstinate! but take care, Madam — you have never yet known what the authority of a Guardian is — don’t compel me to inform you of it. —

Maria. I can only say, you shall not have just Reason — ’tis true, by my Father’s will I am for a short period bound to regard you as his substitute, but I must cease to think you so when you would compel me to be miserable.

[Exit.]

Sir Peter. Was ever man so crossed as I am[?] everything conspiring to fret me! I had not been involved in matrimony a fortnight[,] before her Father — a hale and hearty man, died on purpose, I believe — for the Pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his Daughter . . . but here comes my Helpmate! — She appears in great good humour — how happy I should be if I could teaze her into loving me tho’ but a little —

Enter Lady Teazle

Lady Teazle. Lud! Sir Peter I hope you haven’t been quarrelling with Maria? It isn’t using me well to be ill humour’d when I am not bye —!

Sir Peter. Ah! Lady Teazle you might have the Power to make me good humour’d at all times —

Lady Teazle. I am sure — I wish I had — for I want you to be in a charming sweet temper at this moment — do be good humour’d now — and let me have two hundred Pounds will you?

Sir Peter. Two hundred Pounds! what an’t I to be in a good humour without paying for it — but speak to me thus — and Efaith there’s nothing I could refuse you. You shall have it — but seal me a bond for the repayment.

Lady Teazle. O no — there — my Note of Hand will do as well —

Sir Peter. And you shall no longer reproach me with not giving you an independent settlement — I shall shortly surprise you — and you’ll not call me ungenerous — but shall we always live thus — hey?

Lady Teazle. If you — please — I’m sure I don’t care how soon we leave off quarrelling provided you’ll own you were tired first —

Sir Peter. Well — then let our future contest be who shall be most obliging.

Lady Teazle. I assure you Sir Peter Good Nature becomes you — you look now as you did before we were married — when you used to walk with me under the Elms, and tell me stories of what a Gallant you were in your youth — and chuck me under the chin you would — and ask me if I thought I could love an old Fellow who would deny me nothing — didn’t you?

Sir Peter. Yes — yes — and you were as kind and attentive —

Lady Teazle. Aye so I was — and would always take your Part, when my acquaintance used to abuse you and turn you into ridicule —

Sir Peter. Indeed!

Lady Teazle. Aye — and when my cousin Sophy has called you a stiff peevish old batchelor and laugh’d at me for thinking of marrying one who might be my Father — I have always defended you — and said I didn’t think you so ugly by any means, and that you’d make a very good sort of a husband —

Sir Peter. And you prophesied right — and we shall certainly now be the happiest couple —

Lady Teazle. And never differ again.

Sir Peter. No never — tho’ at the same time indeed — my dear Lady Teazle — you must watch your Temper very narrowly — for in all our little Quarrels — my dear — if you recollect my Love you always began first —

Lady Teazle. I beg your Pardon — my dear Sir Peter — indeed — you always gave the provocation.

Sir Peter. Now — see, my Love take care — contradicting isn’t the way to keep Friends.

Lady Teazle. Then don’t you begin it my Love!

Sir Peter. There now — you are going on — you don’t perceive[,] my Life, that you are just doing the very thing my Love which you know always makes me angry.

Lady Teazle. Nay — you know if you will be angry without any reason — my Dear —

Sir Peter. There now you want to quarrel again.

Lady Teazle. No — I am sure I don’t — but if you will be so peevish —

Sir Peter. There — now who begins first?

Lady Teazle. Why you to be sure — I said nothing[ — ]but there’s no bearing your Temper.

Sir Peter. No — no — my dear — the fault’s in your own temper.

Lady Teazle. Aye you are just what my Cousin Sophy said you would be —

Sir Peter. Your Cousin Sophy — is a forward impertinent Gipsey —

Lady Teazle. Go you great Bear — how dare you abuse my Relations —

Sir Peter. Now may all the Plagues of marriage be doubled on me, if ever I try to be Friends with you any more —

Lady Teazle. So much the Better.

Sir Peter. No — no Madam ’tis evident you never cared a pin for me — I was a madman to marry you —

Lady Teazle. And I am sure I was a Fooll to marry you — an old dangling Batchelor, who was single of [at] fifty — only because He never could meet with any one who would have him.

Sir Peter. Aye — aye — Madam — but you were pleased enough to listen to me — you never had such an offer before —

Lady Teazle. No — didn’t I refuse Sir Jeremy Terrier — who everybody said would have been a better Match — for his estate is just as good as yours — and he has broke his Neck since we have been married!

Sir Peter. I have done with you Madam! You are an unfeeling — ungrateful — but there’s an end of everything — I believe you capable of anything that’s bad — Yes, Madam — I now believe the Reports relative to you and Charles — Madam — yes — Madam — you and Charles are — not without grounds —

Lady Teazle. Take — care Sir Peter — you had better not insinuate any such thing! I’ll not be suspected without cause I promise you —

Sir Peter. Very — well — Madam — very well! a separate maintenance — as soon as you Please. Yes Madam or a Divorce — I’ll make an example of myself for the Benefit of all old Batchelors — Let us separate, Madam.

Lady Teazle. Agreed — agreed — and now — my dear Sir Peter we are of a mind again, we may be the happiest couple — and never differ again, you know — ha! ha! — Well you are going to be in a Passion I see — and I shall only interrupt you — so, bye! bye! hey — young Jockey try’d and countered.

[Exit.]

Sir Peter. Plagues and tortures! She pretends to keep her temper, can’t I make her angry neither! O! I am the miserable fellow! But I’ll not bear her presuming to keep her Temper — No she may break my Heart — but she shan’t keep her Temper.

[Exit.]

SCENE II. — At Charles’s House

Enter Trip, Moses, and Sir Oliver

Trip. Here Master Moses — if you’ll stay a moment — I’ll try whether Mr. — what’s the Gentleman’s Name?

Sir Oliver. Mr. — Moses — what IS my name —

Moses. Mr. Premium —

Trip. Premium — very well.

[Exit Trip — taking snuff.]

Sir Oliver. To judge by the Servants — one wouldn’t believe the master was ruin’d — but what — sure this was my Brother’s House —

Moses. Yes Sir Mr. Charles bought it of Mr. Joseph with the Furniture, Pictures, &c. — just as the old Gentleman left it — Sir Peter thought it a great peice of extravagance in him.

Sir Oliver. In my mind the other’s economy in selling it to him was more reprehensible by half. —

Enter Trip

Trip. My Master[,] Gentlemen[,] says you must wait, he has company, and can’t speak with you yet.

Sir Oliver. If he knew who it was wanted to see him, perhaps he wouldn’t have sent such a Message.

Trip. Yes — yes — Sir — He knows you are here — I didn’t forget little Premium — no — no —

Sir Oliver. Very well — and pray Sir what may be your Name?

Trip. Trip Sir — my Name is Trip, at your Service.

Sir Oliver. Well then Mr. Trip — I presume your master is seldom without company —

Trip. Very seldom Sir — the world says ill-natured things of him but ’tis all malice — no man was ever better beloved — Sir he seldom sits down to dinner without a dozen particular Friends —

Sir Oliver. He’s very happy indeed — you have a pleasant sort of Place here I guess?

Trip. Why yes — here are three or four of us pass our time agreeably enough — but then our wages are sometimes a little in arrear — and not very great either — but fifty Pounds a year and find our own Bags and Bouquets —

Sir Oliver. Bags and Bouquets! — Halters and Bastinadoes! [Aside.]

Trip. But a propos Moses — have you been able to get me that little Bill discounted?

Sir Oliver. Wants to raise money too! — mercy on me! has his distresses, I warrant[,] like a Lord — and affects Creditors and Duns! [Aside.]

Moses. ’Twas not be done, indeed —

Trip. Good lack — you surprise me — My Friend Brush has indorsed it and I thought when he put his name at the Back of a Bill ’twas as good as cash.

Moses. No ‘twouldn’t do.

Trip. A small sum — but twenty Pound — harkee, Moses do you think you could get it me by way of annuity?

Sir Oliver. An annuity! ha! ha! a Footman raise money by annuity — Well done Luxury egad! [Aside.]

Moses. Who would you get to join with you?

Trip. You know my Lord Applice — you have seen him however —

Moses. Yes —

Trip. You must have observed what an appearance he makes — nobody dresses better, nobody throws off faster — very well this Gentleman will stand my security.

Moses. Well — but you must insure your Place.

Trip. O with all my Heart — I’ll insure my Place, and my Life too, if you please.

Sir Oliver. It’s more than I would your neck —

Moses. But is there nothing you could deposit?

Trip. Why nothing capital of my master’s wardrobe has drop’d lately — but I could give you a mortgage on some of his winter Cloaths with equity of redemption before November or — you shall have the reversion — of the French velvet, or a post obit on the Blue and Silver — these I should think Moses — with a few Pair of Point Ruffles as a collateral security — hey, my little Fellow?

Moses. Well well — we’ll talk presently — we detain the Gentlemen —

Sir Oliver. O pray don’t let me interrupt Mr. Trip’s Negotiation.

Trip. Harkee — I heard the Bell — I believe, Gentlemen I can now introduce you — don’t forget the annuity little Moses.

Sir Oliver. If the man be a shadow of his Master this is the Temple of Dissipation indeed!

[Exeunt.]

SCENE III. — Charles, Careless, etc., etc.

At Table with Wine

Charles. ‘Fore Heaven, ’tis true! — there is the great Degeneracy of the age — many of our acquaintance have Taste — Spirit, and Politeness — but plague on’t they won’t drink —

Careless. It is so indeed — Charles — they give into all the substantial Luxuries of the Table — and abstain from nothing but wine and wit — Oh, certainly society suffers by it intolerably — for now instead of the social spirit of Raillery that used to mantle over a glass of bright Burgundy their conversation is become just like the Spa water they drink which has all the Pertness and flatulence of champaine without its spirit or Flavour.

First Gentleman. But what are they to do who love Play better than wine —

Careless. True — there’s Harry diets himself — for gaming and is now under a hazard Regimen.

Charles. Then He’ll have the worst of it — what you wouldn’t train a horse for the course by keeping him from corn — For my Part egad I am never so successful as when I’m a little — merry — let me throw on a Bottle of Champaine and I never lose — at least I never feel my losses which is exactly the same thing.

Second Gentleman. Aye that may be — but it is as impossible to follow wine and play as to unite Love and Politics.

Charles. Pshaw — you may do both — Caesar made Love and Laws in a Breath — and was liked by the Senate as well as the Ladies — but no man can pretend to be a Believer in Love, who is an abjurer of wine — ’tis the Test by which a Lover knows his own Heart — fill a dozen Bumpers to a dozen Beauties, and she that floats atop is the maid that has bewitched you.

Careless. Now then Charles — be honest and give us yours —

Charles. Why I have withheld her only in compassion to you — if I toast her you should give a round of her Peers, which is impossible! on earth!

Careless. O, then we’ll find some canonized Vestals or heathen Goddesses that will do I warrant —

Charles. Here then — Bumpers — you Rogues — Bumpers! Maria — Maria —

First Gentleman. Maria who?

Charles. Oh, damn the Surname ’tis too formal to be register’d in Love’s calendar — but now Careless beware — beware — we must have Beauty’s superlative.

First Gentleman. Nay Never study[,] Careless — we’ll stand to the Toast — tho’ your mistress should want an eye — and you know you have a song will excuse you —

Careless. Egad so I have — and I’ll give him the song instead of the Lady. —

Song. — And Chorus — 4

Here’s to the maiden of bashful fifteen;

Here’s to the widow of fifty;

Here’s to the flaunting extravagant quean,

And here’s to the housewife that’s thrifty.

Chorus. Let the toast pass, — Drink to the lass,

I’ll warrant she’ll prove an excuse for a glass.

Here’s to the charmer whose dimples we prize;

Now to the maid who has none, sir;

Here’s to the girl with a pair of blue eyes,

And here’s to the nymph with but one, sir.

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

Here’s to the maid with a bosom of snow:

Now to her that’s as brown as a berry:

Here’s to the wife with a face full of woe,

And now to the damsel that’s merry.

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

For let ’em be clumsy, or let ’em be slim,

Young or ancient, I care not a feather;

So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim,

So fill up your glasses, nay, fill to the brim,

And let us e’en toast them together.

Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

[Enter Trip whispers Charles]

Second Gentleman. Bravo Careless — Ther’s Toast and Sentiment too.

First Gentleman. E’ faith there’s infinite charity in that song. —

Charles. Gentlemen, you must excuse me a little. — Careless, take the Chair, will you?

Careless. Nay prithee, Charles — what now — this is one of your Peerless Beauties I suppose — has dropped in by chance?

Charles. No — Faith — to tell you the Truth ’tis a Jew and a Broker who are come by appointment.

Careless. O dam it let’s have the Jew in.

First Gentleman. Aye and the Broker too by all means —

Second Gentleman. Yes yes the Jew and the Broker.

Charles. Egad with all my Heart — Trip — bid the Gentlemen walk in — tho’ there’s one of them a Stranger I can tell you —

Trip. What Sir — would you chuse Mr. Premium to come up with —

First Gentleman. Yes — yes Mr. Premium certainly.

Careless. To be sure — Mr. Premium — by all means Charles, let us give them some generous Burgundy, and perhaps they’ll grow conscientious —

Charles. O, Hang ’em — no — wine does but draw forth a man’s natural qualities; and to make them drink would only be to whet their Knavery.

Enter Trip, Sir Oliver, and Moses

Charles. So — honest Moses — walk in — walk in pray Mr. Premium — that’s the Gentleman’s name isn’t it Moses.

Moses. Yes Sir.

Charles. Set chairs — Trim. — Sit down, Mr Premium. — Glasses Trim. — sit down Moses. — Come, Mr. Premium I’ll give you a sentiment — Here’s Success to Usury — Moses fill the Gentleman a bumper.

Moses. Success to Usury!

Careless. Right Moses — Usury is Prudence and industry and deserves to succeed —

Sir Oliver. Then Here is — all the success it deserves!

[Drinks.]

Charles. Mr. Premium you and I are but strangers yet — but I hope we shall be better acquainted by and bye —

Sir Oliver. Yes Sir hope we shall — more intimately perhaps than you’ll wish. [Aside.5]

Careless. No, no, that won’t do! Mr. Premium, you have demurred at the toast, and must drink it in a pint bumper.

First Gentleman. A pint bumper, at least.

Moses. Oh, pray, sir, consider — Mr. Premium’s a gentleman.

Careless. And therefore loves good wine.

Second Gentleman. Give Moses a quart glass — this is mutiny, and a high contempt for the chair.

Careless. Here, now for’t! I’ll see justice done, to the last drop of my bottle.

Sir Oliver. Nay, pray, gentlemen — I did not expect this usage.

Charles. No, hang it, you shan’t; Mr. Premium’s a stranger.

Sir Oliver. Odd! I wish I was well out of their company. [Aside.]

Careless. Plague on ’em then! if they won’t drink, we’ll not sit down with them. Come, Harry, the dice are in the next room. — Charles, you’ll join us when you have finished your business with the gentlemen?

Charles. I will! I will! —

[Exeunt SIR HARRY BUMPER and GENTLEMEN; Careless following.]

Careless.

Careless. [Returning.] Well!

Charles. Perhaps I may want you.

Careless. Oh, you know I am always ready: word, note, or bond, ’tis all the same to me.

[Exit.]

Moses. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a gentleman of the strictest honour and secrecy; and always performs what he undertakes. Mr. Premium, this is —

Charles. Psha! have done. Sir, my friend Moses is a very honest fellow, but a little slow at expression: he’ll be an hour giving us our titles. Mr. Premium, the plain state of the matter is this: I am an extravagant young fellow who wants to borrow money; you I take to be a prudent old fellow, who have got money to lend. I am blockhead enough to give fifty per cent. sooner than not have it! and you, I presume, are rogue enough to take a hundred if you can get it. Now, sir, you see we are acquainted at once, and may proceed to business without further ceremony.

Sir Oliver. Exceeding frank, upon my word. I see, sir, you are not a man of many compliments.

Charles. Oh, no, sir! plain dealing in business I always think best.

Sir Oliver. Sir, I like you the better for it. However, You are mistaken in one thing; I have no money to lend, but I believe I could procure some of a friend; but then he’s an unconscionable dog. Isn’t he, Moses? And must sell stock to accommodate you. Mustn’t he, Moses!

Moses. Yes, indeed! You know I always speak the truth, and scorn to tell a lie!

Charles. Right. People that speak truth generally do. But these are trifles, Mr. Premium. What! I know money isn’t to be bought without paying for’t!

Sir Oliver. Well, but what security could you give? You have no land, I suppose?

Charles. Not a mole-hill, nor a twig, but what’s in the bough pots out of the window!

Sir Oliver. Nor any stock, I presume?

Charles. Nothing but live stock — and that’s only a few pointers and ponies. But pray, Mr. Premium, are you acquainted at all with any of my connections?

Sir Oliver. Why, to say the truth, I am.

Charles. Then you must know that I have a devilish rich uncle in the East Indies, Sir Oliver Surface, from whom I have the greatest expectations?

Sir Oliver. That you have a wealthy uncle, I have heard; but how your expectations will turn out is more, I believe, than you can tell.

Charles. Oh, no! — there can be no doubt. They tell me I’m a prodigious favourite, and that he talks of leaving me everything.

Sir Oliver. Indeed! this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Charles. Yes, yes, ’tis just so. Moses knows ’tis true; don’t you, Moses?

Moses. Oh, yes! I’ll swear to’t.

Sir Oliver. Egad, they’ll persuade me presently I’m at Bengal. [Aside.]

Charles. Now I propose, Mr. Premium, if it’s agreeable to you, a post-obit on Sir Oliver’s life: though at the same time the old fellow has been so liberal to me, that I give you my word, I should be very sorry to hear that anything had happened to him.

Sir Oliver. Not more than I should, I assure you. But the bond you mention happens to be just the worst security you could offer me — for I might live to a hundred and never see the principal.

Charles. Oh, yes, you would! the moment Sir Oliver dies, you know, you would come on me for the money.

Sir Oliver. Then I believe I should be the most unwelcome dun you ever had in your life.

Charles. What! I suppose you’re afraid that Sir Oliver is too good a life?

Sir Oliver. No, indeed I am not; though I have heard he is as hale and healthy as any man of his years in Christendom.

Charles. There again, now, you are misinformed. No, no, the climate has hurt him considerably, poor uncle Oliver. Yes, yes, he breaks apace, I’m told — and is so much altered lately that his nearest relations would not know him.

Sir Oliver. No! Ha! ha! ha! so much altered lately that his nearest relations would not know him! Ha! ha! ha! egad — ha! ha! ha!

Charles. Ha! ha! — you’re glad to hear that, little Premium?

Sir Oliver. No, no, I’m not.

Charles. Yes, yes, you are — ha! ha! ha! — you know that mends your chance.

Sir Oliver. But I’m told Sir Oliver is coming over; nay, some say he is actually arrived.

Charles. Psha! sure I must know better than you whether he’s come or not. No, no, rely on’t he’s at this moment at Calcutta. Isn’t he, Moses?

Moses. Oh, yes, certainly.

Sir Oliver. Very true, as you say, you must know better than I, though I have it from pretty good authority. Haven’t I, Moses?

Moses. Yes, most undoubted!

Sir Oliver. But, Sir, as I understand you want a few hundreds immediately, is there nothing you could dispose of?

Charles. How do you mean?

Sir Oliver. For instance, now, I have heard that your father left behind him a great quantity of massy old plate.

Charles. O Lud! that’s gone long ago. Moses can tell you how better than I can.

Sir Oliver. [Aside.] Good lack! all the family race-cups and corporation-bowls! — [Aloud.] Then it was also supposed that his library was one of the most valuable and compact.

Charles. Yes, yes, so it was — vastly too much so for a private gentleman. For my part, I was always of a communicative disposition, so I thought it a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself.

Sir Oliver. [Aside.] Mercy upon me! learning that had run in the family like an heir-loom! — [Aloud.] Pray, what has become of the books?

Charles. You must inquire of the auctioneer, Master Premium, for I don’t believe even Moses can direct you.

Moses. I know nothing of books.

Sir Oliver. So, so, nothing of the family property left, I suppose?

Charles. Not much, indeed; unless you have a mind to the family pictures. I have got a room full of ancestors above: and if you have a taste for old paintings, egad, you shall have ’em a bargain!

Sir Oliver. Hey! what the devil! sure, you wouldn’t sell your forefathers, would you?

Charles. Every man of them, to the best bidder.

Sir Oliver. What! your great-uncles and aunts?

Charles. Ay, and my great-grandfathers and grandmothers too.

Sir Oliver. [Aside.] Now I give him up! — [Aloud.] What the plague, have you no bowels for your own kindred? Odd’s life! do you take me for Shylock in the play, that you would raise money of me on your own flesh and blood?

Charles. Nay, my little broker, don’t be angry: what need you care, if you have your money’s worth?

Sir Oliver. Well, I’ll be the purchaser: I think I can dispose of the family canvas. — [Aside.] Oh, I’ll never forgive him this! never!

Re-enter Careless

Careless. Come, Charles, what keeps you?

Charles. I can’t come yet. I’faith, we are going to have a sale above stairs; here’s little Premium will buy all my ancestors!

Careless. Oh, burn your ancestors!

Charles. No, he may do that afterwards, if he pleases. Stay, Careless, we want you: egad, you shall be auctioneer — so come along with us.

Careless. Oh, have with you, if that’s the case. I can handle a hammer as well as a dice box! Going! going!

Sir Oliver. Oh, the profligates! [Aside.]

Charles. Come, Moses, you shall be appraiser, if we want one. Gad’s life, little Premium, you don’t seem to like the business?

Sir Oliver. Oh, yes, I do, vastly! Ha! ha! ha! yes, yes, I think it a rare joke to sell one’s family by auction — ha! ha! — [Aside.] Oh, the prodigal!

Charles. To be sure! when a man wants money, where the plague should he get assistance, if he can’t make free with his own relations?

[Exeunt.]

Sir Oliver. I’ll never forgive him; never! never!

END OF THE THIRD ACT

4 The words which follow this title are not inserted in the manuscript of the play. [Fraser Rae’s footnote. — Ed.]

5 From this place to Scene ii. Act IV. several sheets are missing. [Fraser Rae’s footnote. — Ed.]

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/sheridan/richard_brinsley/school_for_scandal/act3.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30