Family heirlooms in the play signify the importance of preserving the past, especially the family’s past. For those in the older generation, the preservation of the objects they have been able to add to the trove of family possessions is an important way to make sure that they leave a trace after their death. The sale of heirlooms to strangers suggests a lack of respect for one’s ancestors, and thus a general lack of honor or morality.
Heirlooms Quotes in The School for Scandal
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 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. Now I give him up. [Aside.] 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. Oh, I'll never forgive him this! never!
CHARLES. Bravo, Careless! —Well, here’s my great-uncle, Sir Richard Raveline, a marvelous good general in his day, I assure you. He served in all the Duke of Marlborough’s wars, and got that cut over his eye at the battle of Malplaquet. —What say you, Mr. Premium? —look at him—there’s a hero! not cut out of his feathers, as your modern clipped captains are, but enveloped in wig and regimentals, as a general should be. What do you bid?
MOSES. Mr. Premium would have you speak.
CHARLES. Why, then, he shall have him for ten pounds, and I’m sure that’s not dear for a staff officer.
SIR OLIVER. Heaven deliver me! his famous uncle Richard for ten pounds! [Aside.] —Well, sir, I take him at that.
SIR OLIVER. Odd’s heart, no more can I; nor with gravity either. —Sir Peter, do you know the rogue bargained with me for all his ancestors; sold me judges and generals by the foot, and maiden aunts as cheap as broken china.
CHARLES. To be sure, Sir Oliver, I did make a little free with the family canvas, that’s the truth on’t. My ancestors may rise in judgment against me, there’s no denying it; but believe me sincere when I tell you—and upon my soul I would not say so if I was not—that if I do not appear mortiﬁed at the exposure of my follies, it is because I feel at this moment the warmest satisfaction in seeing you, my liberal benefactor.