“You are as wrong as ever, my dear Wilton,” replied his friend, in a more serious tone—“I have consented; for if I had not, it must have made an irreparable breach between my father and myself, which you well know I should not consider desirable—I must obey him sometimes, you know, Wilton—He had pledged himself, too, that I should consent. However, to set your mind at rest, I will tell you the loophole at which I creep out. Her father, it seems, is not near so sanguine as my father, in regard to his child’s obedience, and he is, moreover, an odd old gentleman, who has got into his head a strange antiquated notion, that the inclinations of the people to be married have something to do with such transactions. He therefore bargained, that his consent should be dependent upon the young lady’s approbation of me when she sees me. In fact, I am bound to court, and she to be courted. My father is bound that I shall marry her if she likes me, her father is bound to give her to me if she likes to be given. Now what I intend, Wilton, is, that she should not like me. So this very evening you must come with me to the theatre, and there we shall see her together, for I know where she is to be. To-morrow, I shall be presented to her in form, and if she likes to have me, after all I have to say to her, why it is her fault, for I will take care she shall not have ignorance to plead in regard to my worshipful character.”
Wilton would fain have declined going to the theatre that night, for, to say the truth, his heart was somewhat heavy; but Lord Sherbrooke would take no denial, jokingly saying that he required some support under the emotions and agitating circumstances which he was about to endure. As soon as this was settled, Lord Sherbrooke left him, agreeing to call for him in his carriage at the early hour of a quarter before five o’clock; for such, however, were the more rational times and seasons of our ancestors, that one could enjoy the high intellectual treat of seeing a good play performed from beginning to end, without either changing one’s dinner hour, or going with the certainty of indigestion and headache.
Far more punctual than was usual with him. Lord Sherbrooke was at the door of Wilton Brown exactly at the hour he had appointed; and, getting into his carriage, they speedily rolled on from the neighbourhood of St. James’s-street, then one of the most fashionable parts of the metropolis, to Russell-street, C however, though evidently anxious to be early at the theatre, could not resist his inclination to take a look into the Rose, and, finding several persons whom he knew there, he lingered for a considerable time, introducing Wilton to a number of the wits and celebrated men of the day.
The play had thus begun before they entered the theatre, and the house was filled so completely that it was scarcely possible to obtain a seat.