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Mrs. Sim. Oh! you abominable creature ! How could such a thought come into your head ?
Sir Luke. Ma'am-[Offering sweetmeats to Mrs. Simper.]
Mrs. Sim. Not a bit more, I thank you.-I swear and vow I should swoon at the sight.
Mrs. Circ. And I should receive him with the polite indifference of an absolute stranger.
Sir Luke. Well said, my good lady Intrepid ! But, notwithstanding, I would venture a trifle that his appearance would give you such an electrical shock
Mrs. Circ. You are vastly deceived.
Sir Luke. Dare you come to the proof? Will you give me leave to introduce Mr. Serjeant? He is not far off.
Mrs. Circ. What, my husband?
Sir Luke. Even he! Í saw him as I enter'd the hall.
Mrs. Circ. Impossible!
[Exit sir Luke. Col. I can't conceive what the knight would be at.
Mrs. Sim. Why, he is mad.
Enter sir Luke, with the Serjeant's peruke on a block.
Sir Luke. Now, Madam, have I reason? Is this
your husband or not? Mrs. Sim. It is he ; not the least doubt can be made.
Col. Yes, yes, it is the Serjeant himself. Mrs. Circ. 'I own it; I acknowledge the lord of my wishes.
[Kisses the block.)
Mrs. Circ. The livid hue of his lips !
Mrs. Sim. The rubies with which his cheeks are enrich'd !
Col. The silent solemnity when he sits on the bench !
Mrs. Circ. We must have him at table: but pray good folks let my husband appear like himself. I'll run for the gown.
Mrs. Sim. By all means in the world.
Mrs. Circuit returns with a gown and band.
[They fix the head at the back of a chair,
and place it at table; then all sit.] Mrs. Sim. Madam, you'll take care of
Mrs. Circ. I don't want to be put in mind of
Mrs. Sim. Oh, madam! I know that very well.
Sir Luke. Come, Hob or Nob, master Circuit -let us try if we can't fuddle the Serjeant.
Col. O, fie ! I have a proper respect for the coif.
Mrs. Sim. Don't be too facetious, sir Luke: it is not quite so safe to sport with the heads of the law ; you don't know how soon you may have a little business together.
Sir Luke. But come, the Serjeant is sulky.-I have thought of a way to divert him :-You know he is never so happy as when he is hearing a cause ; suppose we were to plead one before him; Mrs. Circuit and I to be counsel, the Colonel the clerk, and Mrs. Simper the cryer.
Mrs. Circ. . The finest thought in the world! And stay, to conduct the trial with proper solemnity, let's rummage his wardrobe ; we shall there be able to equip ourselves with suitable dresses.
Sir Luke, Alons, alons!
Mrs. Sim. There is no time to be lost. (all rise.]
Mrs: Circ. [Stopping short as they are going out. But won't my husband be angry if we leave him alone? Bye, dearee-we shall soon return to thee again.
Enter Serjeanı Circuit, not perceiving the collation.
Serj. So, my lord not being able to sit, there was no occasion for me. I can't put that girl's nonsense out of my head-My wife is young to be sure, and loves pleasure I own; but as to the main article, I have not the least ground to suspect her in that—No, no !- And then sir Luke! my prochain
the dearest friend I have in the-Heyday! [seeing the collation] What the deuce have we here? -A collation !-So, so—I see madam knows how to divert herself during my absence.—What's this? (seeing the block.] Oh, ho! ha! ha; ha !-Well, that's pretty enough I protest–Poor girl, I see she could not be happy without having something at table that resembled me.-How pleased she will be to find me here in propria persona.-By your leave, Mrs. Circuit- [sits down and eats) Delicate eating, in troth—and the wine [drinks) -Champaign as I live-must have t'other glass-They little think how that gentleman there regales himself in their absence-Ha! ha! ha! -quite convenient, I vowthe heat of the weather has made me-Come, brother Coif, here's your health-[drinks)-I must pledge myself 1 believe-[drinks again)-devilish strong-pshut !-Somebody's coming-gets up and goes towards the wings]-What do I see > four lawyers ? What the devil can be the meaning of this? Í should be glad to get at the bottom of—Hey! By your leave, brother Serjeant-I must crave the use of your robe-[sits down, and gets under the gown]—Between ourselves, this is not the first time this gown has cover'd a fraud.
Enter sir Luke, Colonel, Mrs. Circuit, and Mrs. Sim.
per, dressed as counsellors. Sir Luke. Come, come, gentlemen, dispatch, the court has been waiting some time. Brother Circuit, you have look'd over your brief?
Mrs. Circ. What, do you suppose, sir, that like some of our brethren I defer that till I come into court? No, no.
Sir Luke. This cause contains the whole marrow and pith of all modern practice.
Mrs. Circ. One should think, sir Luke, you had been bred to the bar.
Sir Luke. Child, I was some years in the Temple; but the death of my brother robb’d the robe of my labours.
Mrs. Sim. What a loss to the public !
Sir Luke. You are smart, Mrs. Simper. I can tell you, serjeant Souffle, whose manner I studied, pronounced me a promising youth.
Mrs. Sim. I don't doubt it.
Sir Luke. But let us to business. And first, for the state of the case ; The parties you know are Hobson and Nobson ; the object of litigation is a small parcel of land, which is to decide the fate of a borough.
Mrs. Circ. True; call'd Turnbury Mead.
Then to bring matters to a short issue, it was agreed, that Nobson should on the premises cut down a tree, and Hobson bring his action of damage.
Mrs. Circ. True, true.
Sir Luke. The jury being sworn, and the counsellors feed, the court may proceed.--Take your seats—But hold-I hope no gentleman has been touch'd on both sides.
All. Oh, fie !
Mrs. Sim. Silence in the court!
Sir Luke. But stop. To be regular, and provide for fresh causes, we must take no notice of the borough and lands, the real objects in view, but stick fast to the tree, which is of no importance at all.
All. True, true.
Mrs. Circ. Gentlemen of the Jury-I am in this cause counsel for Hobson, the plaintiff.—The action is brought against Nebuchadonezer Nobson, That he, the said Nobson, did cut down a tree, value two-pence, and to his own use said tree did convert.-Nobson justifies, and claims free as his tree. We will, gentlemen, first state the probable evidence, and then come to the positive: and first as to the probable.- When was this tree here belonging to Hobson, and claim'd by Nobson, cut down? Was it cut down publicly in the day, in the face of the sun, men, women, and children, all the world looking on ?-No; it was cut down privately, in the night, in a dark night, nobody did see, nobody could see-Hum-And then with respect and regard to this tree, I am instructed to say, gentlemen, it was a beautiful, an ornamental tree to the spot where it grew. Now can it be thought that any man would come for to go in the middle of the night, nobody seeing, nobody did see, nobody could see, and cut down a tree, which tree was an ornamental tree, if tree had been his tree? -Certainly no-And again, gentlemen, we moreover insist, that this tree was not only ornamental to the spot where it grew, but it was a useful tree to the owner: it was a plum-tree, and not only a plum-tree, but I am authorized to say the best of plum-trees, it was a damascen plum.--Now can it be thought, that any man would come for to go, in the middle of the night, nobody seeing, nobody did see, nobody could see, and cut down a tree";