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Dick. Dear father, fufpend your anger for the prefent; that she is here now, is by my direction, and to do me justice.
Peggy. To do that, is all that is now in my power; for as to myself, I'm ruin'd paft redemption: my character, my virtue, my peace, are gone: I am abandon'd by my friends, despis'd by the world, and expos'd to mifery and want.
King. Pray, let me know the ftory of your misfortunes; perhaps it may be in my power to do something towards redreffing them.
Peggy. That you may learn from him whom I have wrong'd; but as for me, fhame will not let me speak or hear it told. [Exit.
King. She's very pretty.
Dick. O, Sir, I once thought her an angel; I lov'd her dearer than my life, and did believe her paffion was the fame for me but a young nobleman of this neighbourhood happening to fee her, her youth and blooming beauty prefently ftruck his fancy; a thousand artifices were immediately employ'd to debauch and ruin her. But all his arts were vain; not even the promise of making her his wife, could prevail upon her: in a little time he found out her love to me; and, imagining this to be the cause of her refufal, he, by forg'd letters and feign'd stories, contriv'd to make her believe I was upon the point of marriage with another woman. Poffefs'd with this opinion, the, in a rage, writes me word never to fee her more; and, in revenge, confented to her own undoing. Not contented with this, nor easy while I was so near her, he brib'd one of his caft-off miftreffes to fwear a child to me, which fhe did: this was the occafion of my leaving my friends and flying to London.
King. And how does the propofe to do you justice? Dick. Why, the king being now in this foreft a-hunting, we defign to take fome opportunity of throwing ourfelves at his majefty's feet, and complaining of the inju ftice done us by this noble villain.
Mil. Ah, Dick! I expect but little redress from fuch an application. Things of this nature are fo common amongst the great, that I am afraid it will only be made a jeft of.
King. Thofe who can make a jeft of what ought to be fhocking to humanity, furely deferve not the name of great or noble men.
Dick. What do you think of it, Sir? if you belong to the court, you, perhaps, may know fomething of the king's temper.
King. Why, if I can judge of his temper at all, I think he would not fuffer the greatest nobleman in his court to do an injuftice to the meanest subject in his kingdom. But, pray, who is the nobleman that is capable of such actions as these?
Dick. Do you know my Lord Lurewell?
Dick. That's the man.
King. Well, I would have you put your design in execution. 'Tis my opinion the king will not only hear your complaint, but redrefs your injuries.
Mil. I wish it may prove fo.
Enter the Keepers, leading in Lord Lurewell and
1 Keep. Hola! Cockle! where are ye? why, man, we have nabb'd a pack of rogues here just in the fact.
King. Ha, ha, ha! What, turn'd highwaymen, my lords! or deer-stealers!
Lure. I am very glad to find your Majesty in health and fafety.
2 Cour. We have run thro' a great many perils and dangers to-night; but the joy of finding your Majesty fo unexpectedly, will make us forget all we have fuf'fer'd.'
Mil. and Dick. What! is this the king?
King. I am very glad to see you, my lords, I confefs; and particularly you, my lord Lurewell.
Lure. Your Majefty does me honour.
King. Yes, my lord, and I will do you justice too; your honour has been highly wrong'd by this young man. Lure. Wrong'd, my liege?
King. I hope fo, my lord; for I wou'd fain believe you can't be guilty of bafenefs and treachery.
Lure. I hope your Majefty will find me fo. What dares this villain fay?
Dick. I'm not to be frighted, my lord. I dare fpeak truth at any time.
Lure. Whatever ftains my honour must be falfe.
King. I know it muft, my lord: yet has this man, not knowing who I was, prefumed to charge your lordfhip, not only with great injuftice to himself, but also with ruining an innocent virgin whom he lov'd, and who was to have been his wife; which, if true, were bafe and treacherous: but I know 'tis falfe, and therefore leave it to your lordship to fay what punishment I fhall inflict upon him for the injury done to your honour.
Lure. I thank your Majefty. I will not be fevere; he fhall only afk my pardon, and to-morrow morning be oblig'd to marry the creature he has traduced me with. King. This is mild. Well, your hear your sentence. Dick. May I not have leave to speak before your Majefty?
King. What canft thou fay?
Dick. If I had your Majesty's permiffion, I believe I have certain witneffes which will undeniably prove the truth of all I have accus'd his lordship of. King. Produce them. Dick. Peggy!
Enter Peggy. King. Do you know this woman, my lord? Lure. I know her, please your Majefty, by fight; fhe is a tenant's daughter.
Peggy. (afide.) Majefty! what, is this the king?
King. Have you no particular acquaintance with her? Lure. Hum-I have not feen her thefe feveral months.
Dick. True, my lord; and that is part of your accu fation; for, I believe, I have fome letters which will prove your lordship once had a more particular acquaintance with her. Here is one of the firft his lordship wrote to her, full of the tenderest and most folemn protefta. tions of love and conftancy; here is another, which will inform your Majefty of the pains he took to ruin her; there is an abfolute promise of marriage before he could accomplish it.
King. What fay you, my lord; are thefe your hand?
Lure. I believe, pleafe your Majefty, I might have a little affair of gallantry with the girl fome time ago.
King. It was a little affair, my lord; a mean affair; and what you call gallantry, I call infamy. Do you think, my lord, that greatnefs gives a fan&tion to wickedness? or that it is the prerogative of lords to be unjust and inhuman? You remember the fentence which yourself pronounced upon this innocent man; you cannot think it hard that it fhould pafs on you who are guilty.
Lure. I hope your Majefty will confider my rank, and not oblige me to marry her.
King. Your rank, my lord! Greatness that floops to actions bafe and low, deserts its rank, and pulls its honours down. What makes your lordship great? Is it your gilded equipage and drefs? then put it on your meaneft flave, and he's as great as you. Is it your riches or eftate? the villain that should plunder you of all, would then be as great as you. No, my lord, he that acts greatly, is the true great man. I therefore think you ought, in juftice, to marry her you have thus wrong'd.
Peggy. Let my tears thank your Majefty. But, alas! I am afraid to marry this young lord: that would only give him power to ufe me worse, and ftill increase my mifery: I therefore beg your Majefty will not command him to do it.
King. Rife then, and hear me. My lord, you fee how low the greatest noblemen may be reduced by ungenerous actions. Here is, under your own hand, an abfolute promife of marriage to this young woman, which, from a thorough knowledge of your unworthinefs, the has prudently declined to make you fulfil. I fhall therefore not infift upon it; but I command you, upon pain of my difpleasure, immediately to fettle on her three hundred pounds a year.
Peggy. May heaven reward your Majefty's goodness. 'Tis too much for me; but if your Majefty thinks fit, let it be fettled upon this much-injured man, to make some fatisfaction for the wrongs which have been done him. As to myself, I only fought to clear the innocence of him I lov'd and wrong'd, then to hide me from the world, and die forgiven.
Dick. This act of generous virtue cancels all paft failings; come to my arms, and be as dear as ever.
Peggy. You cannot, fure, forgive me! Bick. I can, I do, and ftill will make you' mine. Peggy. O! why did ever I wrong fuch generous love? Dick. Talk no more of it. Here let us kneel, and thank the goodness which has made us blest.
King. May you be happy.
Mil. (kneels.) After I have feen fo much of your Majefty's goodness, I cannot defpair of pardon, even for the rough ufage your Majefty receiv'd from me.
[The King draws his fword; the Miller is frighted and rifes up, thinking he was going to kill him.] What have I done that I fhould lofe my life?
King. Kneel without fear. No, my good hoft; fo far are you from having any thing to pardon, that I am much your debtor. I cannot think but fo good and honeft a man will make a worthy and honourable knight: So rife up, Sir John Cockle; and, to fupport your itate, and in fome fort requite the pleasure you have done us, a thoufand merks a year fhall be your revenue.
Mil. Your Majesty's bounty I receive with thankfulnefs; I have been guilty of no meanness to obtain it, and I hope I fhall not be obliged to keep it upon base conditions; for though I am willing to be a faithful subject, I am refolv'd to be a free and an honeft man.
King. I rely upon your being fo: and to gain the friendhip of fuch a one, 1 fhall always think an addition to my happiness, though a king.
Worth, in whatever fate, is fure a prize,