Stu. You think I fear you.
Lew. I know you fear me. This is to prove it. (Pulls him by the sleeve.) You wanted privacy! A lady’s presence took up your attention! Now we are alone, Sir.—Why, what a wretch! (Flings him from him.) The vilest insect in creation will turn when trampled on; yet has this Thing undone a man—by cunning and mean arts undone him. But we have found you, Sir; traced you through all your labyrinths. If you would save yourself, fall to confession: no mercy will be shewn else.
Stu. First prove me what you think me. Till then, your threatenings are in vain. And for this insult, vengeance may yet be mine.
Lew. Infamous coward! Why, take it now then— (Draws, and Stukely retires.) Alas! I pity thee. Yet that a wretch like this should overcome a Beverley! it fills me with astonishment! A wretch, so mean of soul, that even desperation cannot animate him to look upon an enemy. You should not thus have soared, Sir, unless, like others of your black profession, you had a sword to keep the fools in awe, your villainy has ruined.
Stu. Villainy! ’Twere best to curb this licence of your tongue; for know, Sir, while there are laws, this outrage on my reputation will not be borne with.
Lew. Laws! Dar’st Thou seek shelter from the laws? those laws, which thou and thy infernal crew live in the constant violation of? Talk’st thou of reputation too? when under friendship’s sacred name, thou hast betrayed, robbed, and destroyed?
Stu. Ay, rail at gaming; ’tis a rich topic, and affords noble declamation. Go, preach against it in the city: you’ll find a congregation in every tavern. If they should laugh at you, fly to my lord, and sermonize it there: he’ll thank you and reform.
Lew. And will example sanctify a vice? No, wretch; the custom of my lord, or of the Cit that apes him, cannot excuse a breach of law, or make the gamester’s calling reputable.
Stu. Rail on, I say. But is this zeal for beggared Beverley? Is it for Him that I am treated thus? No; He and His might all have groaned in prison, had but the sister’s fortune escaped the wreck, to have rewarded the disinterested love of honest Mr. Lewson.
Lew. How I detest thee for the thought! But thou art lost to every human feeling. Yet let me tell thee, and may it wring thy heart! that though my friend is ruined by thy snares, thou hast unknowingly been kind to Me.
Stu. Have I? It was indeed unknowingly.
Lew. Thou hast assisted me in love; given me the merit that I wanted; since but for Thee, my Charlotte had not known ’twas her dear self I sighed for, and not her fortune.
Stu. Thank me, and take her then.
Lew. And as a brother to poor Beverley, I will pursue the robber that has seized him, and snatch him from his gripe.