The Way of the World
Audire est operae pretiumprcedere recte
Qui maechis non vultis.--HOR. Sat. i. 237.
Metuat doti deprensa.--Ibid.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE RALPHEARL OF MOUNTAGUEETC.
My Lord--Whether the world will arraign me of vanity or notthat Ihave presumed to dedicate this comedy to your lordshipI am yet indoubt; thoughit may beit is some degree of vanity even to doubtof it. One who has at any time had the honour of your lordship'sconversationcannot be supposed to think very meanly of that whichhe would prefer to your perusal. Yet it were to incur theimputation of too much sufficiency to pretend to such a merit asmight abide the test of your lordship's censure.
Whatever value may be wanting to this play while yet it is minewill be sufficiently made up to it when it is once become yourlordship's; and it is my securitythat I cannot have overrated itmore by my dedication than your lordship will dignify it by yourpatronage.
That it succeeded on the stage was almost beyond my expectation; forbut little of it was prepared for that general taste which seems nowto be predominant in the palates of our audience.
Those characters which are meant to be ridiculed in most of ourcomedies are of fools so grossthat in my humble opinion theyshould rather disturb than divert the well-natured and reflectingpart of an audience; they are rather objects of charity thancontemptand instead of moving our mirththey ought very often toexcite our compassion.
This reflection moved me to design some characters which shouldappear ridiculous not so much through a natural folly (which isincorrigibleand therefore not proper for the stage) as through anaffected wit: a wit whichat the same time that it is affectedisalso false. As there is some difficulty in the formation of acharacter of this natureso there is some hazard which attends theprogress of its success upon the stage: for many come to a play soovercharged with criticismthat they very often let fly theircensurewhen through their rashness they have mistaken their aim.This I had occasion lately to observe: for this play had been actedtwo or three days before some of these hasty judges could find theleisure to distinguish betwixt the character of a Witwoud and aTruewit.
I must beg your lordship's pardon for this digression from the truecourse of this epistle; but that it may not seem altogetherimpertinentI beg that I may plead the occasion of itin part ofthat excuse of which I stand in needfor recommending this comedyto your protection. It is only by the countenance of your lordshipand the FEW so qualifiedthat such who write with care and painscan hope to be distinguished: for the prostituted name of poetpromiscuously levels all that bear it.
Terencethe most correct writer in the worldhad a Scipio and aLeliusif not to assist himat least to support him in hisreputation. And notwithstanding his extraordinary meritit may betheir countenance was not more than necessary.
The purity of his stylethe delicacy of his turnsand the justnessof his characterswere all of them beauties which the greater partof his audience were incapable of tasting. Some of the coarseststrokes of Plautusso severely censured by Horacewere more likelyto affect the multitude; suchwho come with expectation to laugh atthe last act of a playand are better entertained with two or threeunseasonable jests than with the artful solution of the fable.
As Terence excelled in his performancesso had he great advantagesto encourage his undertakingsfor he built most on the foundationsof Menander: his plots were generally modelledand his charactersready drawn to his hand. He copied Menander; and Menander had noless light in the formation of his characters from the observationsof Theophrastusof whom he was a disciple; and Theophrastusit isknownwas not only the disciplebut the immediate successor ofAristotlethe first and greatest judge of poetry. These were greatmodels to design by; and the further advantage which Terencepossessed towards giving his plays the due ornaments of purity ofstyleand justness of mannerswas not less considerable from thefreedom of conversation which was permitted him with Lelius andScipiotwo of the greatest and most polite men of his age. Andindeedthe privilege of such a conversation is the only certainmeans of attaining to the perfection of dialogue.
If it has happened in any part of this comedy that I have gained aturn of style or expression more corrector at least morecorrigiblethan in those which I have formerly writtenI mustwith equal pride and gratitudeascribe it to the honour of yourlordship's admitting me into your conversationand that of asociety where everybody else was so well worthy of youin yourretirement last summer from the town: for it was immediately afterthat this comedy was written. If I have failed in my performanceit is only to be regrettedwhere there were so many not inferioreither to a Scipio or a Leliusthat there should be one wantingequal in capacity to a Terence.
If I am not mistakenpoetry is almost the only art which has notyet laid claim to your lordship's patronage. Architecture andpaintingto the great honour of our countryhave flourished underyour influence and protection. In the meantimepoetrythe eldestsister of all artsand parent of mostseems to have resigned herbirthrightby having neglected to pay her duty to your lordshipand by permitting others of a later extraction to prepossess thatplace in your esteemto which none can pretend a better title.Poetryin its natureis sacred to the good and great: therelation between them is reciprocaland they are ever propitious toit. It is the privilege of poetry to address themand it is theirprerogative alone to give it protection.
This received maxim is a general apology for all writers whoconsecrate their labours to great men: but I could wishat thistimethat this address were exempted from the common pretence ofall dedications; and that as I can distinguish your lordship evenamong the most deservingso this offering might become remarkableby some particular instance of respectwhich should assure yourlordship that I amwith all due sense of your extreme worthinessand humanitymy lordyour lordship's most obedient and mostobliged humble servant
PROLOGUE--Spoken by Mr. Betterton.
Of those few foolswho with ill stars are curst
Sure scribbling foolscalled poetsfare the worst:
For they're a sort of fools which fortune makes
Andafter she has made 'em foolsforsakes.
With Nature's oafs 'tis quite a diff'rent case
For Fortune favours all her idiot race.
In her own nest the cuckoo eggs we find
O'er which she broods to hatch the changeling kind:
No portion for her own she has to spare
So much she dotes on her adopted care.
Poets are bubblesby the town drawn in
Suffered at first some trifling stakes to win:
But what unequal hazards do they run!
Each time they write they venture all they've won:
The Squire that's buttered stillis sure to be undone.
This authorheretoforehas found your favour
But pleads no merit from his past behaviour.
To build on that might prove a vain presumption
Should grants to poets made admit resumption
And in Parnassus he must lose his seat
If that be found a forfeited estate.
He ownswith toil he wrought the following scenes
But if they're naught ne'er spare him for his pains:
Damn him the more; have no commiseration
For dulness on mature deliberation.
He swears he'll not resent one hissed-off scene
Norlike those peevish witshis play maintain
Whoto assert their senseyour taste arraign.
Some plot we think he hasand some new thought;
Some humour toono farce--but that's a fault.
Satirehe thinksyou ought not to expect;
For so reformed a town who dares correct?
To pleasethis timehas been his sole pretence
He'll not instructlest it should give offence.
Should he by chance a knave or fool expose
That hurts none heresure here are none of those.
In shortour play shall (with your leave to show it)
Give you one instance of a passive poet
Who to your judgments yields all resignation:
So save or damnafter your own discretion.
FAINALLin love with Mrs. Marwood--Mr. Betterton
MIRABELLin love with Mrs. Millamant--Mr. Verbruggen
WITWOUDfollower of Mrs. Millamant--Mr. Bowen
PETULANTfollower of Mrs. Millamant--Mr. Bowman
SIR WILFULL WITWOUDhalf brother to Witwoudand nephew to LadyWishfort--Mr. Underhill
WAITWELLservant to Mirabell--Mr. Bright
LADY WISHFORTenemy to Mirabellfor having falsely pretended loveto her--Mrs. Leigh
MRS. MILLAMANTa fine ladyniece to Lady Wishfortand lovesMirabell--Mrs. Bracegirdle
MRS. MARWOODfriend to Mr. Fainalland likes Mirabell--Mrs. Barry
MRS. FAINALLdaughter to Lady Wishfortand wife to Fainallformerly friend to Mirabell--Mrs. Bowman
FOIBLEwoman to Lady Wishfort--Mrs. Willis
MINCINGwoman to Mrs. Millamant--Mrs. Prince
The time equal to that of the presentation.
ACT I.--SCENE I.
MIRABELL and FAINALL rising from cards. BETTY waiting.
MIRA. You are a fortunate manMr. Fainall.
FAIN. Have we done?
MIRA. What you please. I'll play on to entertain you.
FAIN. NoI'll give you your revenge another timewhen you are notso indifferent; you are thinking of something else nowand play toonegligently: the coldness of a losing gamester lessens the pleasureof the winner. I'd no more play with a man that slighted his illfortune than I'd make love to a woman who undervalued the loss ofher reputation.
MIRA. You have a taste extremely delicateand are for refining onyour pleasures.
FAIN. Pritheewhy so reserved? Something has put you out ofhumour.
MIRA. Not at all: I happen to be grave to-dayand you are gay;that's all.
FAIN. ConfessMillamant and you quarrelled last nightafter Ileft you; my fair cousin has some humours that would tempt thepatience of a Stoic. Whatsome coxcomb came inand was wellreceived by herwhile you were by?
MIRA. Witwoud and Petulantand what was worseher auntyourwife's mothermy evil genius--or to sum up all in her own namemyold Lady Wishfort came in.
FAIN. Ohthere it is then: she has a lasting passion for youandwith reason.--Whatthen my wife was there?
MIRA. Yesand Mrs. Marwood and three or four morewhom I neversaw before; seeing methey all put on their grave faceswhisperedone anotherthen complained aloud of the vapoursand after fellinto a profound silence.
FAIN. They had a mind to be rid of you.
MIRA. For which reason I resolved not to stir. At last the goodold lady broke through her painful taciturnity with an invectiveagainst long visits. I would not have understood herbut Millamantjoining in the argumentI rose and with a constrained smile toldherI thought nothing was so easy as to know when a visit began tobe troublesome; she reddened and I withdrewwithout expecting herreply.
FAIN. You were to blame to resent what she spoke only in compliancewith her aunt.
MIRA. She is more mistress of herself than to be under thenecessity of such a resignation.
FAIN. What? though half her fortune depends upon her marrying withmy lady's approbation?
MIRA. I was then in such a humourthat I should have been betterpleased if she had been less discreet.
FAIN. Now I rememberI wonder not they were weary of you; lastnight was one of their cabal-nights: they have 'em three times aweek and meet by turns at one another's apartmentswhere they cometogether like the coroner's inquestto sit upon the murderedreputations of the week. You and I are excludedand it was onceproposed that all the male sex should be excepted; but somebodymoved that to avoid scandal there might be one man of the communityupon which motion Witwoud and Petulant were enrolled members.
MIRA. And who may have been the foundress of this sect? My LadyWishfortI warrantwho publishes her detestation of mankindandfull of the vigour of fifty-fivedeclares for a friend and ratafia;and let posterity shift for itselfshe'll breed no more.
FAIN. The discovery of your sham addresses to herto conceal yourlove to her niecehas provoked this separation. Had you dissembledbetterthings might have continued in the state of nature.
MIRA. I did as much as man couldwith any reasonable conscience; Iproceeded to the very last act of flattery with herand was guiltyof a song in her commendation. NayI got a friend to put her intoa lampoonand compliment her with the imputation of an affair witha young fellowwhich I carried so farthat I told her themalicious town took notice that she was grown fat of a sudden; andwhen she lay in of a dropsypersuaded her she was reported to be inlabour. The devil's in'tif an old woman is to be flatteredfurtherunless a man should endeavour downright personally todebauch her: and that my virtue forbade me. But for the discoveryof this amourI am indebted to your friendor your wife's friendMrs. Marwood.
FAIN. What should provoke her to be your enemyunless she has madeyou advances which you have slighted? Women do not easily forgiveomissions of that nature.
MIRA. She was always civil to metill of late. I confess I am notone of those coxcombs who are apt to interpret a woman's goodmanners to her prejudiceand think that she who does not refuse 'emeverything can refuse 'em nothing.
FAIN. You are a gallant manMirabell; and though you may havecruelty enough not to satisfy a lady's longingyou have too muchgenerosity not to be tender of her honour. Yet you speak with anindifference which seems to be affectedand confesses you areconscious of a negligence.
MIRA. You pursue the argument with a distrust that seems to beunaffectedand confesses you are conscious of a concern for whichthe lady is more indebted to you than is your wife.
FAIN. Fiefiefriendif you grow censorious I must leave you:-I'll look upon the gamesters in the next room.
MIRA. Who are they?
FAIN. Petulant and Witwoud.--Bring me some chocolate.
MIRA. Bettywhat says your clock?
BET. Turned of the last canonical hoursir.
MIRA. How pertinently the jade answers me! Ha! almost one a'clock! [Looking on his watch.] Ohy'are come!
MIRABELL and FOOTMAN.
MIRA. Wellis the grand affair over? You have been somethingtedious.
SERV. Sirthere's such coupling at Pancras that they stand behindone anotheras 'twere in a country-dance. Ours was the last coupleto lead up; and no hopes appearing of dispatchbesidesthe parsongrowing hoarsewe were afraid his lungs would have failed before itcame to our turn; so we drove round to Duke's Placeand there theywere riveted in a trice.
MIRA. Soso; you are sure they are married?
SERV. Married and beddedsir; I am witness.
MIRA. Have you the certificate?
SERV. Here it issir.
MIRA. Has the tailor brought Waitwell's clothes homeand the newliveries?
MIRA. That's well. Do you go home againd'ye hearand adjournthe consummation till farther order; bid Waitwell shake his earsand Dame Partlet rustle up her feathersand meet me at one a' clockby Rosamond's pondthat I may see her before she returns to herlady. Andas you tender your earsbe secret.
FAIN. Joy of your successMirabell; you look pleased.
MIRA. Ay; I have been engaged in a matter of some sort of mirthwhich is not yet ripe for discovery. I am glad this is not a cabal-night. I wonderFainallthat you who are marriedand ofconsequence should be discreetwill suffer your wife to be of sucha party.
FAIN. FaithI am not jealous. Besidesmost who are engaged arewomen and relations; and for the menthey are of a kind toocontemptible to give scandal.
MIRA. I am of another opinion: the greater the coxcombalways themore the scandal; for a woman who is not a fool can have but onereason for associating with a man who is one.
FAIN. Are you jealous as often as you see Witwoud entertained byMillamant?
MIRA. Of her understanding I amif not of her person.
FAIN. You do her wrong; forto give her her dueshe has wit.
MIRA. She has beauty enough to make any man think soandcomplaisance enough not to contradict him who shall tell her so.
FAIN. For a passionate lover methinks you are a man somewhat toodiscerning in the failings of your mistress.
MIRA. And for a discerning man somewhat too passionate a loverforI like her with all her faults; naylike her for her faults. Herfollies are so naturalor so artfulthat they become herandthose affectations which in another woman would be odious serve butto make her more agreeable. I'll tell theeFainallshe once usedme with that insolence that in revenge I took her to piecessiftedherand separated her failings: I studied 'em and got 'em by rote.The catalogue was so large that I was not without hopesone day orotherto hate her heartily. To which end I so used myself to thinkof 'emthat at lengthcontrary to my design and expectationtheygave me every hour less and less disturbancetill in a few days itbecame habitual to me to remember 'em without being displeased.They are now grown as familiar to me as my own frailtiesand in allprobability in a little time longer I shall like 'em as well.
FAIN. Marry hermarry her; be half as well acquainted with hercharms as you are with her defectsandmy life on'tyou are yourown man again.
MIRA. Say you so?
FAIN. Ayay; I have experience. I have a wifeand so forth.
[To them] MESSENGER.
MESS. Is one Squire Witwoud here?
BET. Yes; what's your business?
MESS. I have a letter for himfrom his brother Sir WilfullwhichI am charged to deliver into his own hands.
BET. He's in the next roomfriend. That way.
MIRA. Whatis the chief of that noble family in townSir WilfullWitwoud?
FAIN. He is expected to-day. Do you know him?
MIRA. I have seen him; he promises to be an extraordinary person.I think you have the honour to be related to him.
FAIN. Yes; he is half-brother to this Witwoud by a former wifewhowas sister to my Lady Wishfortmy wife's mother. If you marryMillamantyou must call cousins too.
MIRA. I had rather be his relation than his acquaintance.
FAIN. He comes to town in order to equip himself for travel.
MIRA. For travel! Why the man that I mean is above forty.
FAIN. No matter for that; 'tis for the honour of England that allEurope should know we have blockheads of all ages.
MIRA. I wonder there is not an act of parliament to save the creditof the nation and prohibit the exportation of fools.
FAIN. By no means'tis better as 'tis; 'tis better to trade with alittle lossthan to be quite eaten up with being overstocked.
MIRA. Prayare the follies of this knight-errant and those of thesquirehis brotheranything related?
FAIN. Not at all: Witwoud grows by the knight like a medlargrafted on a crab. One will melt in your mouth and t'other set yourteeth on edge; one is all pulp and the other all core.
MIRA. So one will be rotten before he be ripeand the other willbe rotten without ever being ripe at all.
FAIN. Sir Wilfull is an odd mixture of bashfulness and obstinacy.But when he's drunkhe's as loving as the monster in The Tempestand much after the same manner. To give bother his duehe hassomething of good-natureand does not always want wit.
MIRA. Not always: but as often as his memory fails him and hiscommonplace of comparisons. He is a fool with a good memory andsome few scraps of other folks' wit. He is one whose conversationcan never be approvedyet it is now and then to be endured. He hasindeed one good quality: he is not exceptiousfor he sopassionately affects the reputation of understanding raillery thathe will construe an affront into a jestand call downright rudenessand ill language satire and fire.
FAIN. If you have a mind to finish his pictureyou have anopportunity to do it at full length. Behold the original.
[To them] WITWOUD.
WIT. Afford me your compassionmy dears; pity meFainallMirabellpity me.
MIRA. I do from my soul.
FAIN. Whywhat's the matter?
WIT. No letters for meBetty?
BET. Did not a messenger bring you one but nowsir?
WIT. Ay; but no other?
WIT. That's hardthat's very hard. A messengera mulea beastof burdenhe has brought me a letter from the fool my brotherasheavy as a panegyric in a funeral sermonor a copy of commendatoryverses from one poet to another. And what's worse'tis as sure aforerunner of the author as an epistle dedicatory.
MIRA. A fooland your brotherWitwoud?
WIT. Ayaymy half-brother. My half-brother he isno nearerupon honour.
MIRA. Then 'tis possible he may be but half a fool.
WIT. GoodgoodMirabellLE DROLE! Goodgoodhang himdon'tlet's talk of him.--Fainallhow does your lady? GadI sayanything in the world to get this fellow out of my head. I begpardon that I should ask a man of pleasure and the town a questionat once so foreign and domestic. But I talk like an old maid at amarriageI don't know what I say: but she's the best woman in theworld.
FAIN. 'Tis well you don't know what you sayor else yourcommendation would go near to make me either vain or jealous.
WIT. No man in town lives well with a wife but Fainall. YourjudgmentMirabell?
MIRA. You had better step and ask his wifeif you would becredibly informed.
WIT. My dearI ask ten thousand pardons. GadI have forgot whatI was going to say to you.
MIRA. I thank you heartilyheartily.
WIT. Nobut prithee excuse me:- my memory is such a memory.
MIRA. Have a care of such apologiesWitwoud; for I never knew afool but he affected to complain either of the spleen or his memory.
FAIN. What have you done with Petulant?
WIT. He's reckoning his money; my money it was: I have no luck to-day.
FAIN. You may allow him to win of you at playfor you are sure tobe too hard for him at repartee: since you monopolise the wit thatis between youthe fortune must be his of course.
MIRA. I don't find that Petulant confesses the superiority of witto be your talentWitwoud.
WIT. Comecomeyou are malicious nowand would breed debates.Petulant's my friendand a very honest fellowand a very prettyfellowand has a smattering--faith and trotha pretty deal of anodd sort of a small wit: nayI'll do him justice. I'm his friendI won't wrong him. And if he had any judgment in the worldhewould not be altogether contemptible. Comecomedon't detractfrom the merits of my friend.
FAIN. You don't take your friend to be over-nicely bred?
WIT. Nonohang himthe rogue has no manners at allthat I mustown; no more breeding than a bum-bailythat I grant you:- 'tispity; the fellow has fire and life.
WIT. HumfaithI don't know as to thatI can't say as to that.Yesfaithin a controversy he'll contradict anybody.
MIRA. Though 'twere a man whom he feared or a woman whom he loved.
WIT. Wellwellhe does not always think before he speaks. Wehave all our failings; you are too hard upon himyou arefaith.Let me excuse him--I can defend most of his faultsexcept one ortwo; one he hasthat's the truth on't--if he were my brother Icould not acquit him--that indeed I could wish were otherwise.
MIRA. Aymarrywhat's thatWitwoud?
WIT. Ohpardon me. Expose the infirmities of my friend? Nomydearexcuse me there.
FAIN. WhatI warrant he's unsincereor 'tis some such trifle.
WIT. Nono; what if he be? 'Tis no matter for thathis wit willexcuse that. A wit should no more be sincere than a woman constant:one argues a decay of partsas t'other of beauty.
MIRA. Maybe you think him too positive?
WIT. Nono; his being positive is an incentive to argumentandkeeps up conversation.
FAIN. Too illiterate?
WIT. That? That's his happiness. His want of learning gives himthe more opportunities to show his natural parts.
MIRA. He wants words?
WIT. Ay; but I like him for that now: for his want of words givesme the pleasure very often to explain his meaning.
FAIN. He's impudent?
WIT. No that's not it.
MIRA. Whathe speaks unseasonable truths sometimesbecause he hasnot wit enough to invent an evasion?
WIT. Truths? Hahaha! Nonosince you will have itI meanhe never speaks truth at allthat's all. He will lie like achambermaidor a woman of quality's porter. Now that is a fault.
[To them] COACHMAN.
COACH. Is Master Petulant heremistress?
COACH. Three gentlewomen in a coach would speak with him.
FAIN. O brave Petulant! Three!
BET. I'll tell him.
COACH. You must bring two dishes of chocolate and a glass ofcinnamon water.
WIT. That should be for two fasting strumpetsand a bawd troubledwith wind. Now you may know what the three are.
MIRA. You are very free with your friend's acquaintance.
WIT. Ayay; friendship without freedom is as dull as love withoutenjoyment or wine without toasting: but to tell you a secrettheseare trulls whom he allows coach-hireand something more by theweekto call on him once a day at public places.
WIT. You shall see he won't go to 'em because there's no morecompany here to take notice of him. Whythis is nothing to what heused to do:- before he found out this wayI have known him call forhimself -
FAIN. Call for himself? What dost thou mean?
WIT. Mean? Why he would slip you out of this chocolate-housejustwhen you had been talking to him. As soon as your back was turned--whip he was gone; then trip to his lodgingclap on a hood and scarfand a maskslap into a hackney-coachand drive hither to the dooragain in a trice; where he would send in for himself; that I meancall for himselfwait for himselfnayand what's morenotfinding himselfsometimes leave a letter for himself.
MIRA. I confess this is something extraordinary. I believe hewaits for himself nowhe is so long a coming; ohI ask his pardon.
BET. Sirthe coach stays.
PET. WellwellI come. 'Sbuda man had as good be a professedmidwife as a professed whoremasterat this rate; to be knocked upand raised at all hoursand in all places. Pox on 'emI won'tcome. D'ye heartell 'em I won't come. Let 'em snivel and crytheir hearts out.
FAIN. You are very cruelPetulant.
PET. All's onelet it pass. I have a humour to be cruel.
MIRA. I hope they are not persons of condition that you use at thisrate.
PET. Condition? Condition's a dried figif I am not in humour.By this handif they were your--a--a--your what-d'ee-call-'emsthemselvesthey must wait or rub offif I want appetite.
MIRA. What-d'ee-call-'ems! What are theyWitwoud?
WIT. Empressesmy dear. By your what-d'ee-call-'ems he meansSultana Queens.
MIRA. Cry you mercy.
FAIN. Witwoud says they are -
PET. What does he say th'are?
WIT. I? Fine ladiesI say.
PET. Pass onWitwoud. Harkeeby this lighthis relations--twoco-heiresses his cousinsand an old auntwho loves cater-waulingbetter than a conventicle.
WIT. Hahaha! I had a mind to see how the rogue would come off.Hahaha! GadI can't be angry with himif he had said theywere my mother and my sisters.
WIT. No; the rogue's wit and readiness of invention charm medearPetulant.
BET. They are gonesirin great anger.
PET. Enoughlet 'em trundle. Anger helps complexionsaves paint.
FAIN. This continence is all dissembled; this is in order to havesomething to brag of the next time he makes court to Millamantandswear he has abandoned the whole sex for her sake.
MIRA. Have you not left off your impudent pretensions there yet? Ishall cut your throatsometime or otherPetulantabout thatbusiness.
PET. Ayaylet that pass. There are other throats to be cut.
MIRA. Meaning minesir?
PET. Not I--I mean nobody--I know nothing. But there are unclesand nephews in the world--and they may be rivals. What then? All'sone for that.
MIRA. How? HarkeePetulantcome hither. Explainor I shallcall your interpreter.
PET. Explain? I know nothing. Whyyou have an unclehave younotlately come to townand lodges by my Lady Wishfort's?
PET. Whythat's enough. You and he are not friends; and if heshould marry and have a childyon may be disinheritedha!
MIRA. Where hast thou stumbled upon all this truth?
PET. All's one for that; whythensay I know something.
MIRA. Comethou art an honest fellowPetulantand shalt makelove to my mistressthou shaltfaith. What hast thou heard of myuncle?
PET. I? NothingI. If throats are to be cutlet swords clash.Snug's the word; I shrug and am silent.
MIRA. Ohrailleryraillery! ComeI know thou art in the women'ssecrets. Whatyou're a cabalist; I know you stayed at Millamant'slast night after I went. Was there any mention made of my uncle orme? Tell me; if thou hadst but good nature equal to thy witPetulantTony Witwoudwho is now thy competitor in famewouldshow as dim by thee as a dead whiting's eye by a pearl of orient; hewould no more be seen by thee than Mercury is by the sun: comeI'msure thou wo't tell me.
PET. If I dowill you grant me common sensethenfor the future?
MIRA. FaithI'll do what I can for theeand I'll pray that heav'nmay grant it thee in the meantime.
FAIN. Petulant and you both will find Mirabell as warm a rival as alover.
WIT. Pshawpshawthat she laughs at Petulant is plain. And formy partbut that it is almost a fashion to admire herI should--harkee--to tell you a secretbut let it go no further betweenfriendsI shall never break my heart for her.
WIT. She's handsome; but she's a sort of an uncertain woman.
FAIN. I thought you had died for her.
WIT. Umh--no -
FAIN. She has wit.
WIT. 'Tis what she will hardly allow anybody else. NowdemmeIshould hate thatif she were as handsome as Cleopatra. Mirabell isnot so sure of her as he thinks for.
FAIN. Why do you think so?
WIT. We stayed pretty late there last nightand heard something ofan uncle to Mirabellwho is lately come to townand is between himand the best part of his estate. Mirabell and he are at somedistanceas my Lady Wishfort has been told; and you know she hatesMirabell worse than a quaker hates a parrotor than a fishmongerhates a hard frost. Whether this uncle has seen Mrs. Millamant ornotI cannot say; but there were items of such a treaty being inembryo; and if it should come to lifepoor Mirabell would be insome sort unfortunately fobbedi'faith.
FAIN. 'Tis impossible Millamant should hearken to it.
WIT. Faithmy dearI can't tell; she's a woman and a kind of ahumorist.
MIRA. And this is the sum of what you could collect last night?
PET. The quintessence. Maybe Witwoud knows more; he stayed longer.Besidesthey never mind him; they say anything before him.
MIRA. I thought you had been the greatest favourite.
PET. Aytete-e-tete; but not in publicbecause I make remarks.
MIRA. You do?
PET. AyaypoxI'm maliciousman. Now he's softyou knowthey are not in awe of him. The fellow's well bredhe's what youcall a--what d'ye-call-'em--a fine gentlemanbut he's silly withal.
MIRA. I thank youI know as much as my curiosity requires.Fainallare you for the Mall?
FAIN. AyI'll take a turn before dinner.
WIT. Aywe'll all walk in the park; the ladies talked of beingthere.
MIRA. I thought you were obliged to watch for your brother SirWilfull's arrival.
WIT. Nonohe comes to his aunt'smy Lady Wishfort; pox on himI shall be troubled with him too; what shall I do with the fool?
PET. Beg him for his estatethat I may beg you afterwardsand sohave but one trouble with you both.
WIT. O rare Petulantthou art as quick as fire in a frostymorning; thou shalt to the Mall with usand we'll be very severe.
PET. Enough; I'm in a humour to be severe.
MIRA. Are you? Pray then walk by yourselves. Let not us beaccessory to your putting the ladies out of countenance with yoursenseless ribaldrywhich you roar out aloud as often as they passby youand when you have made a handsome woman blushthen youthink you have been severe.
PET. Whatwhat? Then let 'em either show their innocence by notunderstanding what they hearor else show their discretion by nothearing what they would not be thought to understand.
MIRA. But hast not thou then sense enough to know that thouought'st to be most ashamed thyself when thou hast put another outof countenance?
PET. Not Iby this hand: I always take blushing either for a signof guilt or ill-breeding.
MIRA. I confess you ought to think so. You are in the rightthatyou may plead the error of your judgment in defence of yourpractice.
Where modesty's ill manners'tis but fitThat impudence and malice pass for wit.
ACT II.--SCENE I.
St. James's Park.
MRS. FAINALL and MRS. MARWOOD.
MRS. FAIN. Ayaydear Marwoodif we will be happywe must findthe means in ourselvesand among ourselves. Men are ever inextremes; either doting or averse. While they are loversif theyhave fire and sensetheir jealousies are insupportable: and whenthey cease to love (we ought to think at least) they loathetheylook upon us with horror and distastethey meet us like the ghostsof what we wereand as from suchfly from us.
MRS. MAR. True'tis an unhappy circumstance of life that loveshould ever die before usand that the man so often should outlivethe lover. But say what you will'tis better to be left than neverto have been loved. To pass our youth in dull indifferencetorefuse the sweets of life because they once must leave usis aspreposterous as to wish to have been born oldbecause we one daymust be old. For my partmy youth may wear and wastebut it shallnever rust in my possession.
MRS. FAIN. Then it seems you dissemble an aversion to mankind onlyin compliance to my mother's humour.
MRS. MAR. Certainly. To be freeI have no taste of those insipiddry discourses with which our sex of force must entertain themselvesapart from men. We may affect endearments to each otherprofesseternal friendshipsand seem to dote like lovers; but 'tis not inour natures long to persevere. Love will resume his empire in ourbreastsand every heartor soon or latereceive and readmit himas its lawful tyrant.
MRS. FAIN. Bless mehow have I been deceived! Whyyou profess alibertine.
MRS. MAR. You see my friendship by my freedom. Comebe assincereacknowledge that your sentiments agree with mine.
MRS. FAIN. Never.
MRS. MAR. You hate mankind?
MRS. FAIN. Heartilyinveterately.
MRS. MAR. Your husband?
MRS. FAIN. Most transcendently; aythough I say itmeritoriously.
MRS. MAR. Give me your hand upon it.
MRS. FAIN. There.
MRS. MAR. I join with you; what I have said has been to try you.
MRS. FAIN. Is it possible? Dost thou hate those vipersmen?
MRS. MAR. I have done hating 'emand am now come to despise 'em;the next thing I have to do is eternally to forget 'em.
MRS. FAIN. There spoke the spirit of an Amazona Penthesilea.
MRS. MAR. And yet I am thinking sometimes to carry my aversionfurther.
MRS. FAIN. How?
MRS. MAR. Faithby marrying; if I could but find one that loved mevery welland would be throughly sensible of ill usageI think Ishould do myself the violence of undergoing the ceremony.
MRS. FAIN. You would not make him a cuckold?
MRS. MAR. No; but I'd make him believe I didand that's as bad.
MRS. FAIN. Why had not you as good do it?
MRS. MAR. Ohif he should ever discover ithe would then know theworstand be out of his pain; but I would have him ever to continueupon the rack of fear and jealousy.
MRS. FAIN. Ingenious mischief! Would thou wert married toMirabell.
MRS. MAR. Would I were.
MRS. FAIN. You change colour.
MRS. MAR. Because I hate him.
MRS. FAIN. So do I; but I can hear him named. But what reason haveyou to hate him in particular?
MRS. MAR. I never loved him; he isand always wasinsufferablyproud.
MRS. FAIN. By the reason you give for your aversionone wouldthink it dissembled; for you have laid a fault to his chargeofwhich his enemies must acquit him.
MRS. MAR. Ohthen it seems you are one of his favourable enemies.Methinks you look a little paleand now you flush again.
MRS. FAIN. Do I? I think I am a little sick o' the sudden.
MRS. MAR. What ails you?
MRS. FAIN. My husband. Don't you see him? He turned short upon meunawaresand has almost overcome me.
[To them] FAINALL and MIRABELL.
MRS. MAR. Hahaha! he comes opportunely for you.
MRS. FAIN. For youfor he has brought Mirabell with him.
FAIN. My dear.
MRS. FAIN. My soul.
FAIN. You don't look well to-daychild.
MRS. FAIN. D'ye think so?
MIRA. He is the only man that doesmadam.
MRS. FAIN. The only man that would tell me so at leastand theonly man from whom I could hear it without mortification.
FAIN. Ohmy dearI am satisfied of your tenderness; I know youcannot resent anything from me; especially what is an effect of myconcern.
MRS. FAIN. Mr. Mirabellmy mother interrupted you in a pleasantrelation last night: I would fain hear it out.
MIRA. The persons concerned in that affair have yet a tolerablereputation. I am afraid Mr. Fainall will be censorious.
MRS. FAIN. He has a humour more prevailing than his curiosityandwill willingly dispense with the hearing of one scandalous storytoavoid giving an occasion to make another by being seen to walk withhis wife. This wayMr. Mirabelland I dare promise you willoblige us both.
FAIN. Excellent creature! Wellsureif I should live to be ridof my wifeI should be a miserable man.
MRS. MAR. Ay?
FAIN. For having only that one hopethe accomplishment of it ofconsequence must put an end to all my hopesand what a wretch is hewho must survive his hopes! Nothing remains when that day comes butto sit down and weep like Alexander when he wanted other worlds toconquer.
MRS. MAR. Will you not follow 'em?
FAIN. FaithI think not
MRS. MAR. Pray let us; I have a reason.
FAIN. You are not jealous?
MRS. MAR. Of whom?
FAIN. Of Mirabell.
MRS. MAR. If I amis it inconsistent with my love to you that I amtender of your honour?
FAIN. You would intimate thenas if there were a fellow-feelingbetween my wife and him?
MRS. MAR. I think she does not hate him to that degree she would bethought.
FAIN. But heI fearis too insensible.
MRS. MAR. It may be you are deceived.
FAIN. It may be so. I do not now begin to apprehend it.
MRS. MAR. What?
FAIN. That I have been deceivedmadamand you are false.
MRS. MAR. That I am false? What mean you?
FAIN. To let you know I see through all your little arts.--Comeyou both love himand both have equally dissembled your aversion.Your mutual jealousies of one another have made you clash till youhave both struck fire. I have seen the warm confession red'ning onyour cheeksand sparkling from your eyes.
MRS. MAR. You do me wrong.
FAIN. I do not. 'Twas for my ease to oversee and wilfully neglectthe gross advances made him by my wifethat by permitting her to beengagedI might continue unsuspected in my pleasuresand take youoftener to my arms in full security. But could you thinkbecausethe nodding husband would not wakethat e'er the watchful loverslept?
MRS. MAR. And wherewithal can you reproach me?
FAIN. With infidelitywith loving anotherwith love of Mirabell.
MRS. MAR. 'Tis false. I challenge you to show an instance that canconfirm your groundless accusation. I hate him.
FAIN. And wherefore do you hate him? He is insensibleand yourresentment follows his neglect. An instance? The injuries you havedone him are a proof: your interposing in his love. What cause hadyou to make discoveries of his pretended passion? To undeceive thecredulous auntand be the officious obstacle of his match withMillamant?
MRS. MAR. My obligations to my lady urged me: I had professed afriendship to herand could not see her easy nature so abused bythat dissembler.
FAIN. Whatwas it conscience then? Professed a friendship! Ohthe pious friendships of the female sex!
MRS. MAR. More tendermore sincereand more enduringthan allthe vain and empty vows of menwhether professing love to us ormutual faith to one another.
FAIN. Hahaha! you are my wife's friend too.
MRS. MAR. Shame and ingratitude! Do you reproach me? Youyouupbraid me? Have I been false to herthrough strict fidelity toyouand sacrificed my friendship to keep my love inviolate? Andhave you the baseness to charge me with the guiltunmindful of themerit? To you it should be meritorious that I have been vicious.And do you reflect that guilt upon me which should lie buried inyour bosom?
FAIN. You misinterpret my reproof. I meant but to remind you ofthe slight account you once could make of strictest ties when set incompetition with your love to me.
MRS. MAR. 'Tis falseyou urged it with deliberate malice. 'Twasspoke in scornand I never will forgive it.
FAIN. Your guiltnot your resentmentbegets your rage. If yetyou lovedyou could forgive a jealousy: but you are stung to findyou are discovered.
MRS. MAR. It shall be all discovered. You too shall be discovered;be sure you shall. I can but be exposed. If I do it myself I shallprevent your baseness.
FAIN. Whywhat will you do?
MRS. MAR. Disclose it to your wife; own what has past between us.
MRS. MAR. By all my wrongs I'll do't. I'll publish to the worldthe injuries you have done meboth in my fame and fortune: withboth I trusted youyou bankrupt in honouras indigent of wealth.
FAIN. Your fame I have preserved. Your fortune has been bestowedas the prodigality of your love would have itin pleasures which weboth have shared. Yethad not you been false I had e'er thisrepaid it. 'Tis true--had you permitted Mirabell with Millamant tohave stolen their marriagemy lady had been incensed beyond allmeans of reconcilement: Millamant had forfeited the moiety of herfortunewhich then would have descended to my wife. And whereforedid I marry but to make lawful prize of a rich widow's wealthandsquander it on love and you?
MRS. MAR. Deceit and frivolous pretence!
FAIN. Deatham I not married? What's pretence? Am I notimprisonedfettered? Have I not a wife? Naya wife that was awidowa young widowa handsome widowand would be again a widowbut that I have a heart of proofand something of a constitution tobustle through the ways of wedlock and this world. Will you yet bereconciled to truth and me?
MRS. MAR. Impossible. Truth and you are inconsistent.--I hate youand shall for ever.
FAIN. For loving you?
MRS. MAR. I loathe the name of love after such usage; and next tothe guilt with which you would asperse meI scorn you most.Farewell.
FAIN. Naywe must not part thus.
MRS. MAR. Let me go.
FAIN. ComeI'm sorry.
MRS. MAR. I care not. Let me go. Break my handsdo--I'd leave'em to get loose.
FAIN. I would not hurt you for the world. Have I no other hold tokeep you here?
MRS. MAR. WellI have deserved it all.
FAIN. You know I love you.
MRS. MAR. Poor dissembling! Ohthat--wellit is not yet -
FAIN. What? What is it not? What is it not yet? It is not yettoo late -
MRS. MAR. Noit is not yet too late--I have that comfort.
FAIN. It isto love another.
MRS. MAR. But not to loathedetestabhor mankindmyselfand thewhole treacherous world.
FAIN. Naythis is extravagance. ComeI ask your pardon. Notears--I was to blameI could not love you and be easy in mydoubts. Pray forbear--I believe you; I'm convinced I've done youwrong; and any wayevery way will make amends: I'll hate my wifeyet moredamn herI'll part with herrob her of all she's worthand we'll retire somewhereanywhereto another world; I'll marrythee--be pacified.--'Sdeaththey come: hide your faceyour tears.You have a mask: wear it a moment. This waythis way: bepersuaded.
MIRABELL and MRS. FAINALL.
MRS. FAIN. They are here yet.
MIRA. They are turning into the other walk.
MRS. FAIN. While I only hated my husbandI could bear to see him;but since I have despised himhe's too offensive.
MIRA. Ohyou should hate with prudence.
MRS. FAIN. Yesfor I have loved with indiscretion.
MIRA. You should have just so much disgust for your husband as maybe sufficient to make you relish your lover.
MRS. FAIN. You have been the cause that I have loved withoutboundsand would you set limits to that aversion of which you havebeen the occasion? Why did you make me marry this man?
MIRA. Why do we daily commit disagreeable and dangerous actions?To save that idolreputation. If the familiarities of our loveshad produced that consequence of which you were apprehensivewherecould you have fixed a father's name with credit but on a husband?I knew Fainall to be a man lavish of his moralsan interested andprofessing frienda false and a designing loveryet one whose witand outward fair behaviour have gained a reputation with the townenough to make that woman stand excused who has suffered herself tobe won by his addresses. A better man ought not to have beensacrificed to the occasion; a worse had not answered to the purpose.When you are weary of him you know your remedy.
MRS. FAIN. I ought to stand in some degree of credit with youMirabell.
MIRA. In justice to youI have made you privy to my whole designand put it in your power to ruin or advance my fortune.
MRS. FAIN. Whom have you instructed to represent your pretendeduncle?
MIRA. Waitwellmy servant.
MRS. FAIN. He is an humble servant to Foiblemy mother's womanand may win her to your interest.
MIRA. Care is taken for that. She is won and worn by this time.They were married this morning.
MRS. FAIN. Who?
MIRA. Waitwell and Foible. I would not tempt my servant to betrayme by trusting him too far. If your motherin hopes to ruin meshould consent to marry my pretended unclehe mightlike Mosca inthe FOXstand upon terms; so I made him sure beforehand.
MRS. FAIN. Soif my poor mother is caught in a contractyou willdiscover the imposture betimesand release her by producing acertificate of her gallant's former marriage.
MIRA. Yesupon condition that she consent to my marriage with hernieceand surrender the moiety of her fortune in her possession.
MRS. FAIN. She talked last night of endeavouring at a match betweenMillamant and your uncle.
MIRA. That was by Foible's direction and my instructionthat shemight seem to carry it more privately.
MRS. FAIN. WellI have an opinion of your successfor I believemy lady will do anything to get an husband; and when she has thiswhich you have provided for herI suppose she will submit toanything to get rid of him.
MIRA. YesI think the good lady would marry anything thatresembled a manthough 'twere no more than what a butler couldpinch out of a napkin.
MRS. FAIN. Female frailty! We must all come to itif we live tobe oldand feel the craving of a false appetite when the true isdecayed.
MIRA. An old woman's appetite is depraved like that of a girl.'Tis the green-sickness of a second childhoodandlike the faintoffer of a latter springserves but to usher in the fallandwithers in an affected bloom.
MRS. FAIN. Here's your mistress.
[To them] MRS. MILLAMANTWITWOUDMINCING.
MIRA. Here she comesi'faithfull sailwith her fan spread andstreamers outand a shoal of fools for tenders.--HanoI cry hermercy.
MRS. FAIN. I see but one poor empty scullerand he tows her womanafter him.
MIRA. You seem to be unattendedmadam. You used to have the BEAUMONDE throng after youand a flock of gay fine perukes hoveringround you.
WIT. Like moths about a candle. I had like to have lost mycomparison for want of breath.
MILLA. OhI have denied myself airs to-day. I have walked as fastthrough the crowd -
WIT. As a favourite just disgracedand with as few followers.
MILLA. Dear Mr. Witwoudtruce with your similitudesfor I am assick of 'em -
WIT. As a physician of a good air. I cannot help itmadamthough'tis against myself.
MILLA. Yet again! Mincingstand between me and his wit.
WIT. DoMrs. Mincinglike a screen before a great fire. Iconfess I do blaze to-day; I am too bright.
MRS. FAIN. Butdear Millamantwhy were you so long?
MILLA. Long! Lordhave I not made violent haste? I have askedevery living thing I met for you; I have enquired after youasafter a new fashion.
WIT. Madamtruce with your similitudes.--Noyou met her husbandand did not ask him for her.
MIRA. By your leaveWitwoudthat were like enquiring after an oldfashion to ask a husband for his wife.
WIT. Huma hita hita palpable hit; I confess it.
MRS. FAIN. You were dressed before I came abroad.
MILLA. Aythat's true. Ohbut then I had--Mincingwhat had I?Why was I so long?
MINC. O memyour laship stayed to peruse a packet of letters.
MILLA. Ohayletters--I had letters--I am persecuted withletters--I hate letters. Nobody knows how to write letters; and yetone has 'emone does not know why. They serve one to pin up one'shair.
WIT. Is that the way? Praymadamdo you pin up your hair withall your letters? I find I must keep copies.
MILLA. Only with those in verseMr. Witwoud. I never pin up myhair with prose. I think I tried onceMincing.
MINC. O memI shall never forget it.
MILLA. Aypoor Mincing tift and tift all the morning.
MINC. Till I had the cramp in my fingersI'll vowmem. And allto no purpose. But when your laship pins it up with poetryit fitsso pleasant the next day as anythingand is so pure and so crips.
WIT. Indeedso crips?
MINC. You're such a criticMr. Witwoud.
MILLA. Mirabelldid you take exceptions last night? Ohayandwent away. Now I think on't I'm angry--nonow I think on't I'mpleased:- for I believe I gave you some pain.
MIRA. Does that please you?
MILLA. Infinitely; I love to give pain.
MIRA. You would affect a cruelty which is not in your nature; yourtrue vanity is in the power of pleasing.
MILLA. OhI ask your pardon for that. One's cruelty is one'spowerand when one parts with one's cruelty one parts with one'spowerand when one has parted with thatI fancy one's old andugly.
MIRA. Ayay; suffer your cruelty to ruin the object of your powerto destroy your lover--and then how vainhow lost a thing you'llbe! Nay'tis true; you are no longer handsome when you've lostyour lover: your beauty dies upon the instant. For beauty is thelover's gift: 'tis he bestows your charms:- your glass is all acheat. The ugly and the oldwhom the looking-glass mortifiesyetafter commendation can be flattered by itand discover beauties init: for that reflects our praises rather than your face.
MILLA. Ohthe vanity of these men! Fainalld'ye hear him? Ifthey did not commend uswe were not handsome! Now you must knowthey could not commend one if one was not handsome. Beauty thelover's gift! Lordwhat is a loverthat it can give? Whyonemakes lovers as fast as one pleasesand they live as long as onepleasesand they die as soon as one pleases; and thenif onepleasesone makes more.
WIT. Very pretty. Whyyou make no more of making of loversmadamthan of making so many card-matches.
MILLA. One no more owes one's beauty to a lover than one's wit toan echo. They can but reflect what we look and say: vain emptythings if we are silent or unseenand want a being.
MIRA. Yetto those two vain empty thingsyou owe two the greatestpleasures of your life.
MILLA. How so?
MIRA. To your lover you owe the pleasure of hearing yourselvespraisedand to an echo the pleasure of hearing yourselves talk.
WIT. But I know a lady that loves talking so incessantlyshe won'tgive an echo fair play; she has that everlasting rotation of tonguethat an echo must wait till she dies before it can catch her lastwords.
MILLA. Ohfiction; Fainalllet us leave these men.
MIRA. Draw off Witwoud. [Aside to MRS. FAINALL.]
MRS. FAIN. Immediately; I have a word or two for Mr. Witwoud.
MIRA. I would beg a little private audience too. You had thetyranny to deny me last nightthough you knew I came to impart asecret to you that concerned my love.
MILLA. You saw I was engaged.
MIRA. Unkind! You had the leisure to entertain a herd of fools:things who visit you from their excessive idlenessbestowing onyour easiness that time which is the incumbrance of their lives.How can you find delight in such society? It is impossible theyshould admire you; they are not capable; orif they wereit shouldbe to you as a mortification: forsureto please a fool is somedegree of folly.
MILLA. I please myself.--Besidessometimes to converse with foolsis for my health.
MIRA. Your health! Is there a worse disease than the conversationof fools?
MILLA. Yesthe vapours; fools are physic for itnext toassafoetida.
MIRA. You are not in a course of fools?
MILLA. Mirabellif you persist in this offensive freedom you'lldisplease me. I think I must resolve after all not to have you:- weshan't agree.
MIRA. Not in our physicit may be.
MILLA. And yet our distemper in all likelihood will be the same;for we shall be sick of one another. I shan't endure to bereprimanded nor instructed; 'tis so dull to act always by adviceand so tedious to be told of one's faultsI can't bear it. WellIwon't have youMirabell--I'm resolved--I think--you may go--hahaha! What would you give that you could help loving me?
MIRA. I would give something that you did not know I could not helpit.
MILLA. Comedon't look grave then. Wellwhat do you say to me?
MIRA. I say that a man may as soon make a friend by his witor afortune by his honestyas win a woman with plain-dealing andsincerity.
MILLA. Sententious Mirabell! Prithee don't look with that violentand inflexible wise facelike Solomon at the dividing of the childin an old tapestry hanging!
MIRA. You are merrymadambut I would persuade you for a momentto be serious.
MILLA. Whatwith that face? Noif you keep your countenance'tis impossible I should hold mine. Wellafter allthere issomething very moving in a lovesick face. Hahaha! Well I won'tlaugh; don't be peevish. Heigho! Now I'll be melancholyasmelancholy as a watch-light. WellMirabellif ever you will winmewoo me now.--Nayif you are so tediousfare you well: I seethey are walking away.
MIRA. Can you not find in the variety of your disposition onemoment -
MILLA. To hear you tell me Foible's marriedand your plot like tospeed? No.
MIRA. But how you came to know it -
MILLA. Without the help of the devilyou can't imagine; unless sheshould tell me herself. Which of the two it may have beenI willleave you to consider; and when you have done thinking of thatthink of me.
MIRA. I have something more.--Gone! Think of you? To think of awhirlwindthough 'twere in a whirlwindwere a case of more steadycontemplationa very tranquillity of mind and mansion. A fellowthat lives in a windmill has not a more whimsical dwelling than theheart of a man that is lodged in a woman. There is no point of thecompass to which they cannot turnand by which they are not turnedand by one as well as another; for motionnot methodis theiroccupation. To know thisand yet continue to be in loveis to bemade wise from the dictates of reasonand yet persevere to play thefool by the force of instinct.--Ohhere come my pair of turtles.Whatbilling so sweetly? Is not Valentine's day over with you yet?
[To him] WAITWELLFOIBLE.
MIRA. SirrahWaitwellwhysureyou think you were married foryour own recreation and not for my conveniency.
WAIT. Your pardonsir. With submissionwe have indeed beensolacing in lawful delights; but still with an eye to businesssir.I have instructed her as well as I could. If she can take yourdirections as readily as my instructionssiryour affairs are in aprosperous way.
MIRA. Give you joyMrs. Foible.
FOIB. O--lassirI'm so ashamed.--I'm afraid my lady has been ina thousand inquietudes for me. But I protestsirI made as muchhaste as I could.
WAIT. That she did indeedsir. It was my fault that she did notmake more.
MIRA. That I believe.
FOIB. But I told my lady as you instructed mesirthat I had aprospect of seeing Sir Rowlandyour uncleand that I would put herladyship's picture in my pocket to show himwhich I'll be sure tosay has made him so enamoured of her beautythat he burns withimpatience to lie at her ladyship's feet and worship the original.
MIRA. Excellent Foible! Matrimony has made you eloquent in love.
WAIT. I think she has profitedsir. I think so.
FOIB. You have seen Madam Millamantsir?
FOIB. I told hersirbecause I did not know that you might findan opportunity; she had so much company last night.
MIRA. Your diligence will merit more. In the meantime--[givesmoney]
FOIB. O dear siryour humble servant.
WAIT. Spouse -
MIRA. Stand offsirnot a penny. Go on and prosperFoible. Thelease shall be made good and the farm stockedif we succeed.
FOIB. I don't question your generositysirand you need not doubtof success. If you have no more commandssirI'll be gone; I'msure my lady is at her toiletand can't dress till I come. OhdearI'm sure that [looking out] was Mrs. Marwood that went by in amask; if she has seen me with you I m sure she'll tell my lady.I'll make haste home and prevent her. Your servantSir.--B'w'yWaitwell.
WAIT. Sir Rowlandif you please. The jade's so pert upon herpreferment she forgets herself.
MIRA. Comesirwill you endeavour to forget yourself--andtransform into Sir Rowland?
WAIT. Whysirit will be impossible I should remember myself.Marriedknightedand attended all in one day! 'Tis enough to makeany man forget himself. The difficulty will be how to recover myacquaintance and familiarity with my former selfand fall from mytransformation to a reformation into Waitwell. NayI shan't bequite the same Waitwell neither--for now I remember meI'm marriedand can't be my own man again.
Aythere's my grief; that's the sad change of life:To lose my titleand yet keep my wife.
ACT III.--SCENE I.
A room in Lady Wishfort's house.
LADY WISHFORT at her toiletPEG waiting.
LADY. Merciful! No news of Foible yet?
LADY. I have no more patience. If I have not fretted myself till Iam pale againthere's no veracity in me. Fetch me the red--thereddo you hearsweetheart? An errant ash colouras I'm aperson. Look you how this wench stirs! Why dost thou not fetch mea little red? Didst thou not hear meMopus?
PEG. The red ratafiadoes your ladyship meanor the cherrybrandy?
LADY. Ratafiafool? Nofool. Not the ratafiafool--grant mepatience!--I mean the Spanish paperidiot; complexiondarling.Paintpaintpaintdost thou understand thatchangelingdanglingthy hands like bobbins before thee? Why dost thou not stirpuppet?Thou wooden thing upon wires!
PEG. Lordmadamyour ladyship is so impatient.--I cannot come atthe paintmadam: Mrs. Foible has locked it upand carried the keywith her.
LADY. A pox take you both.--Fetch me the cherry brandy then.
I'm as pale and as faintI look like Mrs. Qualmsickthe curate'swifethat's always breeding. Wenchcomecomewenchwhat artthou doing? Sipping? Tasting? Save theedost thou not know thebottle?
LADY WISHFORTPEG with a bottle and china cup.
PEG. MadamI was looking for a cup.
LADY. A cupsave theeand what a cup hast thou brought! Dostthou take me for a fairyto drink out of an acorn? Why didst thounot bring thy thimble? Hast thou ne'er a brass thimble clinking inthy pocket with a bit of nutmeg? I warrant thee. Comefillfill.Soagain. See who that is. [One knocks.] Set down the bottlefirst. Herehereunder the table:- whatwouldst thou go with thebottle in thy hand like a tapster? As I'm a personthis wench haslived in an inn upon the roadbefore she came to melikeMaritornes the Asturian in Don Quixote. No Foible yet?
PEG. Nomadam; Mrs. Marwood.
LADY. OhMarwood: let her come in. Come ingood Marwood.
[To them] MRS MARWOOD.
MRS. MAR. I'm surprised to find your ladyship in DESHABILLE at thistime of day.
LADY. Foible's a lost thing; has been abroad since morningandnever heard of since.
MRS. MAR. I saw her but nowas I came masked through the parkinconference with Mirabell.
LADY. With Mirabell? You call my blood into my face withmentioning that traitor. She durst not have the confidence. I senther to negotiate an affairin which if I'm detected I'm undone. Ifthat wheedling villain has wrought upon Foible to detect meI'mruined. O my dear friendI'm a wretch of wretches if I'm detected.
MRS. MAR. O madamyou cannot suspect Mrs. Foible's integrity.
LADY. Ohhe carries poison in his tongue that would corruptintegrity itself. If she has given him an opportunityshe has asgood as put her integrity into his hands. Ahdear Marwoodwhat'sintegrity to an opportunity? Hark! I hear her. Dear friendretire into my closetthat I may examine her with more freedom--you'll pardon medear friendI can make bold with you--there arebooks over the chimney--Quarles and Prynand the SHORT VIEW OF THESTAGEwith Bunyan's works to entertain you.--Goyou thingandsend her in. [To PEG.]
LADY. O Foiblewhere hast thou been? What hast thou been doing?
FOIB. MadamI have seen the party.
LADY. But what hast thou done?
FOIB. Nay'tis your ladyship has doneand are to do; I have onlypromised. But a man so enamoured--so transported! Wellifworshipping of pictures be a sin--poor Sir RowlandI say.
LADY. The miniature has been counted like. But hast thou notbetrayed meFoible? Hast thou not detected me to that faithlessMirabell? What hast thou to do with him in the park? Answer mehas he got nothing out of thee?
FOIB. Sothe devil has been beforehand with me; what shall I say?--Alasmadamcould I help itif I met that confident thing? Was Iin fault? If you had heard how he used meand all upon yourladyship's accountI'm sure you would not suspect my fidelity.Nayif that had been the worst I could have borne: but he had afling at your ladyship tooand then I could not hold; buti'faithI gave him his own.
LADY. Me? What did the filthy fellow say?
FOIB. O madam'tis a shame to say what he saidwith his tauntsand his fleerstossing up his nose. Humhsays hewhatyou area-hatching some plotsays heyou are so early abroador cateringsays heferreting for some disbanded officerI warrant. Half payis but thin subsistencesays he. Wellwhat pension does your ladypropose? Let me seesays hewhatshe must come down pretty deepnowshe's superannuatedsays heand -
LADY. Ods my lifeI'll have him--I'll have him murdered. I'llhave him poisoned. Where does he eat? I'll marry a drawer to havehim poisoned in his wine. I'll send for Robin from Locket's--immediately.
FOIB. Poison him? Poisoning's too good for him. Starve himmadamstarve him; marry Sir Rowlandand get him disinherited. Ohyou would bless yourself to hear what he said.
LADY. A villain; superannuated?
FOIB. Humhsays heI hear you are laying designs against me toosays heand Mrs. Millamant is to marry my uncle (he does notsuspect a word of your ladyship); butsays heI'll fit you forthatI warrant yousays heI'll hamper you for thatsays heyouand your old frippery toosays heI'll handle you -
LADY. Audacious villain! Handle me? Would he durst? Frippery?Old frippery? Was there ever such a foul-mouthed fellow? I'll bemarried to-morrowI'll be contracted to-night.
FOIB. The sooner the bettermadam.
LADY. Will Sir Rowland be heresay'st thou? WhenFoible?
FOIB. Incontinentlymadam. No new sheriff's wife expects thereturn of her husband after knighthood with that impatience in whichSir Rowland burns for the dear hour of kissing your ladyship's handafter dinner.
LADY. Frippery? Superannuated frippery? I'll frippery thevillain; I'll reduce him to frippery and ragsa tatterdemalion!--Ihope to see him hung with tatterslike a Long Lane pent-houseor agibbet thief. A slander-mouthed railer! I warrant the spendthriftprodigal's in debt as much as the million lotteryor the wholecourt upon a birthday. I'll spoil his credit with his tailor. Yeshe shall have my niece with her fortunehe shall.
FOIB. He? I hope to see him lodge in Ludgate firstand angle intoBlackfriars for brass farthings with an old mitten.
LADY. Aydear Foible; thank thee for thatdear Foible. He hasput me out of all patience. I shall never recompose my features toreceive Sir Rowland with any economy of face. This wretch hasfretted me that I am absolutely decayed. LookFoible.
FOIB. Your ladyship has frowned a little too rashlyindeedmadam.There are some cracks discernible in the white vernish.
LADY. Let me see the glass. Crackssay'st thou? WhyI amarrantly flayed: I look like an old peeled wall. Thou must repairmeFoiblebefore Sir Rowland comesor I shall never keep up to mypicture.
FOIB. I warrant youmadam: a little art once made your picturelike youand now a little of the same art must make you like yourpicture. Your picture must sit for youmadam.
LADY. But art thou sure Sir Rowland will not fail to come? Or willa not fail when he does come? Will he be importunateFoibleandpush? For if he should not be importunate I shall never breakdecorums. I shall die with confusion if I am forced to advance--ohnoI can never advance; I shall swoon if he should expect advances.NoI hope Sir Rowland is better bred than to put a lady to thenecessity of breaking her forms. I won't be too coy neither--Iwon't give him despair. But a little disdain is not amiss; a littlescorn is alluring.
FOIB. A little scorn becomes your ladyship.
LADY. Yesbut tenderness becomes me best--a sort of a dyingness.You see that picture has a sort of a--haFoible? A swimmingness inthe eyes. YesI'll look so. My niece affects it; but she wantsfeatures. Is Sir Rowland handsome? Let my toilet be removed--I'lldress above. I'll receive Sir Rowland here. Is he handsome? Don'tanswer me. I won't know; I'll be surprised. I'll be taken bysurprise.
FOIB. By stormmadam. Sir Rowland's a brisk man.
LADY. Is he? Ohthenhe'll importuneif he's a brisk man. Ishall save decorums if Sir Rowland importunes. I have a mortalterror at the apprehension of offending against decorums. OhI'mglad he's a brisk man. Let my things be removedgood Foible.
MRS. FAIN. O FoibleI have been in a frightlest I should cometoo late. That devilMarwoodsaw you in the park with Mirabelland I'm afraid will discover it to my lady.
FOIB. Discover whatmadam?
MRS. FAIN. Naynayput not on that strange face. I am privy tothe whole designand know that Waitwellto whom thou wert thismorning marriedis to personate Mirabell's uncleandas suchwinning my ladyto involve her in those difficulties from whichMirabell only must release herby his making his conditions to havemy cousin and her fortune left to her own disposal.
FOIB. O dear madamI beg your pardon. It was not my confidence inyour ladyship that was deficient; but I thought the former goodcorrespondence between your ladyship and Mr. Mirabell might havehindered his communicating this secret.
MRS. FAIN. Dear Foibleforget that.
FOIB. O dear madamMr. Mirabell is such a sweet winning gentleman.But your ladyship is the pattern of generosity. Sweet ladyto beso good! Mr. Mirabell cannot choose but be grateful. I find yourladyship has his heart still. NowmadamI can safely tell yourladyship our success: Mrs. Marwood had told my ladybut I warrantI managed myself. I turned it all for the better. I told my ladythat Mr. Mirabell railed at her. I laid horrid things to hischargeI'll vow; and my lady is so incensed that she'll becontracted to Sir Rowland to-nightshe says; I warrant I worked herup that he may have her for asking foras they say of a Welshmaidenhead.
MRS. FAIN. O rare Foible!
FOIB. MadamI beg your ladyship to acquaint Mr. Mirabell of hissuccess. I would be seen as little as possible to speak to him--besidesI believe Madam Marwood watches me. She has a month'smind; but I know Mr. Mirabell can't abide her. [Calls.] Johnremove my lady's toilet. Madamyour servant. My lady is soimpatientI fear she'll come for meif I stay.
MRS. FAIN. I'll go with you up the back stairslest I should meether.
MRS. MARWOOD alone.
MRS. MAR. IndeedMrs. Engineis it thus with you? Are you becomea go-between of this importance? YesI shall watch you. Why thiswench is the PASSE-PARTOUTa very master-key to everybody's strongbox. My friend Fainallhave you carried it so swimmingly? Ithought there was something in it; but it seems it's over with you.Your loathing is not from a want of appetite thenbut from asurfeit. Else you could never be so cool to fall from a principalto be an assistantto procure for him! A pattern of generositythat I confess. WellMr. Fainallyou have met with your match.--Omanman! Womanwoman! The devil's an ass: if I were a painterI would draw him like an idiota driveller with a bib and bells.Man should have his head and hornsand woman the rest of him.Poorsimple fiend! 'Madam Marwood has a month's mindbut he can'tabide her.' 'Twere better for him you had not been his confessor inthat affairwithout you could have kept his counsel closer. Ishall not prove another pattern of generosity; he has not obliged meto that with those excesses of himselfand now I'll have none ofhim. Here comes the good ladypanting ripewith a heart full ofhopeand a head full of carelike any chymist upon the day ofprojection.
[To her] LADY WISHFORT.
LADY. O dear Marwoodwhat shall I say for this rude forgetfulness?But my dear friend is all goodness.
MRS. MAR. No apologiesdear madam. I have been very wellentertained.
LADY. As I'm a personI am in a very chaos to think I should soforget myself. But I have such an olio of affairsreally I knownot what to do. [Calls.] Foible!--I expect my nephew Sir Wilfullev'ry moment too.--WhyFoible!--He means to travel for improvement.
MRS. MAR. Methinks Sir Wilfull should rather think of marrying thantravelling at his years. I hear he is turned of forty.
LADY. Ohhe's in less danger of being spoiled by his travels. Iam against my nephew's marrying too young. It will be time enoughwhen he comes backand has acquired discretion to choose forhimself.
MRS. MAR. Methinks Mrs. Millamant and he would make a very fitmatch. He may travel afterwards. 'Tis a thing very usual withyoung gentlemen.
LADY. I promise you I have thought on't--and since 'tis yourjudgmentI'll think on't again. I assure you I will; I value yourjudgment extremely. On my wordI'll propose it.
[To them] FOIBLE.
LADY. ComecomeFoible--I had forgot my nephew will be herebefore dinner--I must make haste.
FOIB. Mr. Witwoud and Mr. Petulant are come to dine with yourladyship.
LADY. Oh dearI can't appear till I am dressed. Dear Marwoodshall I be free with you againand beg you to entertain em? I'llmake all imaginable haste. Dear friendexcuse me.
MRS. MARWOODMRS. MILLAMANTMINCING.
MILLA. Surenever anything was so unbred as that odious man.Marwoodyour servant.
MRS. MAR. You have a colour; what's the matter?
MILLA. That horrid fellow Petulant has provoked me into a flame--Ihave broke my fan--Mincinglend me yours.--Is not all the powderout of my hair?
MRS. MAR. No. What has he done?
MILLA. Nayhe has done nothing; he has only talked. Nayhe hassaid nothing neither; but he has contradicted everything that hasbeen said. For my partI thought Witwoud and he would havequarrelled.
MINC. I vowmemI thought once they would have fit.
MILLA. Well'tis a lamentable thingI swearthat one has not theliberty of choosing one's acquaintance as one does one's clothes.
MRS. MAR. If we had that libertywe should be as weary of one setof acquaintancethough never so goodas we are of one suitthoughnever so fine. A fool and a doily stuff would now and then finddays of graceand be worn for variety.
MILLA. I could consent to wear 'emif they would wear alike; butfools never wear out. They are such DRAP DE BERRI things! Withoutone could give 'em to one's chambermaid after a day or two.
MRS. MAR. 'Twere better so indeed. Or what think you of theplayhouse? A fine gay glossy fool should be given therelike a newmasking habitafter the masquerade is overand we have done withthe disguise. For a fool's visit is always a disguiseand neveradmitted by a woman of witbut to blind her affair with a lover ofsense. If you would but appear barefaced nowand own Mirabellyoumight as easily put off Petulant and Witwoud as your hood and scarf.And indeed 'tis timefor the town has found itthe secret is growntoo big for the pretence. 'Tis like Mrs. Primly's great belly: shemay lace it down beforebut it burnishes on her hips. IndeedMillamantyou can no more conceal it than my Lady Strammel can herfacethat goodly facewhich in defiance of her Rhenish-wine teawill not be comprehended in a mask.
MILLA. I'll take my deathMarwoodyou are more censorious than adecayed beautyor a discarded toast:- Mincingtell the men theymay come up. My aunt is not dressing here; their folly is lessprovoking than your malice.
MRS. MILLAMANTMRS. MARWOOD.
MILLA. The town has found it? What has it found? That Mirabellloves me is no more a secret than it is a secret that you discoveredit to my auntor than the reason why you discovered it is a secret.
MRS. MAR. You are nettled.
MILLA. You're mistaken. Ridiculous!
MRS. MAR. Indeedmy dearyou'll tear another fanif you don'tmitigate those violent airs.
MILLA. O silly! Hahaha! I could laugh immoderately. PoorMirabell! His constancy to me has quite destroyed his complaisancefor all the world beside. I swear I never enjoined it him to be socoy. If I had the vanity to think he would obey meI would commandhim to show more gallantry: 'tis hardly well-bred to be soparticular on one hand and so insensible on the other. But Idespair to prevailand so let him follow his own way. Hahaha!Pardon medear creatureI must laugh; hahaha! Though I grantyou 'tis a little barbarous; hahaha!
MRS. MAR. What pity 'tis so much fine railleryand delivered withso significant gestureshould be so unhappily directed to miscarry.
MILLA. Heh? Dear creatureI ask your pardon. I swear I did notmind you.
MRS. MAR. Mr. Mirabell and you both may think it a thingimpossiblewhen I shall tell him by telling you -
MILLA. Oh dearwhat? For it is the same thingif I hear it. Hahaha!
MRS. MAR. That I detest himhate himmadam.
MILLA. O madamwhyso do I. And yet the creature loves mehahaha! How can one forbear laughing to think of it? I am a sibylif I am not amazed to think what he can see in me. I'll take mydeathI think you are handsomerand within a year or two as young.If you could but stay for meI should overtake you--but that cannotbe. Wellthat thought makes me melancholic.--Now I'll be sad.
MRS. MAR. Your merry note may be changed sooner than you think.
MILLA. D'ye say so? Then I'm resolved I'll have a song to keep upmy spirits.
[To them] MINCING.
MINC. The gentlemen stay but to combmadamand will wait on you.
MILLA. Desire Mrs.--that is in the next roomto sing the song Iwould have learnt yesterday. You shall hear itmadam. Not thatthere's any great matter in it--but 'tis agreeable to my humour.
Set by Mr. John Eccles.
Love's but the frailty of the mind
When 'tis not with ambition joined;
A sickly flamewhich if not fed expires
And feedingwastes in self-consuming fires.
'Tis not to wound a wanton boy
Or am'rous youththat gives the joy;
But 'tis the glory to have pierced a swain
For whom inferior beauties sighed in vain.
Then I alone the conquest prize
When I insult a rival's eyes;
If there's delight in love'tis when I see
That heartwhich others bleed forbleed for me.
[To them] PETULANTWITWOUD.
MILLA. Is your animosity composedgentlemen?
WIT. Railleryraillerymadam; we have no animosity. We hit off alittle wit now and thenbut no animosity. The falling out of witsis like the falling out of lovers:- we agree in the mainliketreble and bass. HaPetulant?
PET. Ayin the main. But when I have a humour to contradict -
WIT. Aywhen he has a humour to contradictthen I contradict too.WhatI know my cue. Then we contradict one another like twobattledores; for contradictions beget one another like Jews.
PET. If he says black's black--if I have a humour to say 'tis blue--let that pass--all's one for that. If I have a humour to prove itit must be granted.
WIT. Not positively must. But it may; it may.
PET. Yesit positively mustupon proof positive.
WIT. Ayupon proof positive it must; but upon proof presumptive itonly may. That's a logical distinction nowmadam.
MRS. MAR. I perceive your debates are of importanceand verylearnedly handled.
PET. Importance is one thing and learning's another; but a debate'sa debatethat I assert.
WIT. Petulant's an enemy to learning; he relies altogether on hisparts.
PET. NoI'm no enemy to learning; it hurts not me.
MRS. MAR. That's a signindeedit's no enemy to you.
PET. Nonoit's no enemy to anybody but them that have it.
MILLA. Wellan illiterate man's my aversion; I wonder at theimpudence of any illiterate man to offer to make love.
WIT. That I confess I wonder attoo.
MILLA. Ahto marry an ignorant that can hardly read or write!
PET. Why should a man be any further from being marriedthough hecan't readthan he is from being hanged? The ordinary's paid forsetting the psalmand the parish priest for reading the ceremony.And for the rest which is to follow in both casesa man may do itwithout book. So all's one for that.
MILLA. D'ye hear the creature? Lordhere's company; I'll begone.
SIR WILFULL WITWOUD in a riding dressMRS. MARWOODPETULANTWITWOUDFOOTMAN.
WIT. In the name of Bartlemew and his Fairwhat have we here?
MRS. MAR. 'Tis your brotherI fancy. Don't you know him?
WIT. Not I:- yesI think it is he. I've almost forgot him; I havenot seen him since the revolution.
FOOT. Sirmy lady's dressing. Here's companyif you please towalk inin the meantime.
SIR WIL. Dressing! Whatit's but morning hereI warrantwithyou in London; we should count it towards afternoon in our partsdown in Shropshire:- whythenbelike my aunt han't dined yet. Hafriend?
FOOT. Your auntsir?
SIR WIL. My auntsir? Yes my auntsirand your ladysir; yourlady is my auntsir. Whywhat dost thou not know mefriend?Whythensend somebody hither that does. How long hast thou livedwith thy ladyfellowha?
FOOT. A weeksir; longer than anybody in the houseexcept mylady's woman.
SIR WIL. Whythenbelike thou dost not know thy ladyif thouseest her. Hafriend?
FOOT. WhytrulysirI cannot safely swear to her face in amorningbefore she is dressed. 'Tis like I may give a shrewd guessat her by this time.
SIR WIL. Wellprithee try what thou canst do; if thou canst notguessenquire her outdost hearfellow? And tell her her nephewSir Wilfull Witwoudis in the house.
FOOT. I shallsir.
SIR WIL. Hold yehear mefrienda word with you in your ear:prithee who are these gallants?
FOOT. ReallysirI can't tell; here come so many here'tis hardto know 'em all.
SIR WILFULL WITWOUDPETULANTWITWOUDMRS. MARWOOD.
SIR WIL. Oonsthis fellow knows less than a starling: I don'tthink a knows his own name.
MRS. MAR. Mr. Witwoudyour brother is not behindhand inforgetfulness. I fancy he has forgot you too.
WIT. I hope so. The devil take him that remembers firstI say.
SIR WIL. Save yougentlemen and lady.
MRS. MAR. For shameMr. Witwoud; why won't you speak to him?--Andyousir.
PET. And yousir.
SIR WIL. No offenceI hope? [Salutes MARWOOD.]
MRS. MAR. Nosuresir.
WIT. This is a vile dogI see that already. No offence? Hahaha. To himto himPetulantsmoke him.
PET. It seems as if you had come a journeysir; hemhem.[Surveying him round.]
SIR WIL. Very likelysirthat it may seem so.
PET. No offenceI hopesir?
WIT. Smoke the bootsthe bootsPetulantthe boots; hahaha!
SIR WILL. Maybe notsir; thereafter as 'tis meantsir.
PET. SirI presume upon the information of your boots.
SIR WIL. Why'tis like you maysir: if you are not satisfiedwith the information of my bootssirif you will step to thestableyou may enquire further of my horsesir.
PET. Your horsesir! Your horse is an asssir!
SIR WIL. Do you speak by way of offencesir?
MRS. MAR. The gentleman's merrythat's allsir. 'Slifewe shallhave a quarrel betwixt an horse and an assbefore they find oneanother out.--You must not take anything amiss from your friendssir. You are among your friends herethough it--may be you don'tknow it. If I am not mistakenyou are Sir Wilfull Witwoud?
SIR WIL. Rightlady; I am Sir Wilfull Witwoudso I write myself;no offence to anybodyI hope? and nephew to the Lady Wishfort ofthis mansion.
MRS. MAR. Don't you know this gentlemansir?
SIR WIL. Hum! Whatsure 'tis not--yea by'r lady but 'tis--'sheartI know not whether 'tis or no. Yeabut 'tisby theWrekin. Brother Antony! WhatTonyi'faith! Whatdost thou notknow me? By'r ladynor I theethou art so becravated and sobeperiwigged. 'Sheartwhy dost not speak? Art thou o'erjoyed?
WIT. Odsobrotheris it you? Your servantbrother.
SIR WIL. Your servant? Whyyourssir. Your servant again--'sheartand your friend and servant to that--and a--[puff] and aflap-dragon for your servicesirand a hare's foot and a hare'sscut for your servicesiran you be so cold and so courtly!
WIT. No offenceI hopebrother?
SIR WIL. 'Sheartsirbut there isand much offence. A poxisthis your inns o' court breedingnot to know your friends and yourrelationsyour eldersand your betters?
WIT. Whybrother Wilfull of Salopyou may be as short as aShrewsbury cakeif you please. But I tell you 'tis not modish toknow relations in town. You think you're in the countrywheregreat lubberly brothers slabber and kiss one another when they meetlike a call of sergeants. 'Tis not the fashion here; 'tis notindeeddear brother.
SIR WIL. The fashion's a fool and you're a fopdear brother.'SheartI've suspected this--by'r lady I conjectured you were afopsince you began to change the style of your lettersand writein a scrap of paper gilt round the edgesno bigger than a subpoena.I might expect this when you left off 'Honoured brother' and'Hoping you are in good health' and so forthto begin with a 'RatmeknightI'm so sick of a last night's debauch.' Ods heartandthen tell a familiar tale of a cock and a bulland a whore and abottleand so conclude. You could write news before you were outof your timewhen you lived with honest Pumple-Nosethe attorneyof Furnival's Inn. You could intreat to be remembered then to yourfriends round the Wrekin. We could have Gazettes thenand Dawks'sLetterand the Weekly Billtill of late days.
PET. 'SlifeWitwoudwere you ever an attorney's clerk? Of thefamily of the Furnivals? Hahaha!
WIT. Ayaybut that was but for a while. Not longnot long;pshawI was not in my own power then. An orphanand this fellowwas my guardian; ayayI was glad to consent to that man to cometo London. He had the disposal of me then. If I had not agreed tothatI might have been bound prentice to a feltmaker in Shrewsbury:this fellow would have bound me to a maker of felts.
SIR WIL. 'Sheartand better than to be bound to a maker of fopswhereI supposeyou have served your timeand now you may set upfor yourself.
MRS. MAR. You intend to travelsiras I'm informed?
SIR WIL. Belike I maymadam. I may chance to sail upon the saltseasif my mind hold.
PET. And the wind serve.
SIR WIL. Serve or not serveI shan't ask license of yousirnorthe weathercock your companion. I direct my discourse to the ladysir. 'Tis like my aunt may have told youmadam? YesI havesettled my concernsI may say nowand am minded to see foreignparts. If an how that the peace holdswherebythat istaxesabate.
MRS. MAR. I thought you had designed for France at all adventures.
SIR WIL. I can't tell that; 'tis like I mayand 'tis like I maynot. I am somewhat dainty in making a resolutionbecause when Imake it I keep it. I don't stand shill Ishall Ithen; if Isay'tI'll do't. But I have thoughts to tarry a small matter intownto learn somewhat of your lingo firstbefore I cross theseas. I'd gladly have a spice of your French as they saywherebyto hold discourse in foreign countries.
MRS. MAR. Here's an academy in town for that use.
SIR WIL. There is? 'Tis like there may.
MRS. MAR. No doubt you will return very much improved.
WIT. Yesrefined like a Dutch skipper from a whale-fishing.
[To them] LADY WISHFORT and FAINALL.
LADY. Nephewyou are welcome.
SIR WIL. Auntyour servant.
FAIN. Sir Wilfullyour most faithful servant.
SIR WIL. Cousin Fainallgive me your hand.
LADY. Cousin Witwoudyour servant; Mr. Petulantyour servant.Nephewyou are welcome again. Will you drink anything after yourjourneynephewbefore you eat? Dinner's almost ready.
SIR WIL. I'm very wellI thank youaunt. HoweverI thank youfor your courteous offer. 'SheartI was afraid you would have beenin the fashion tooand have remembered to have forgot yourrelations. Here's your cousin TonybelikeI mayn't call himbrother for fear of offence.
LADY. Ohhe's a ralliernephew. My cousin's a wit: and yourgreat wits always rally their best friends to choose. When you havebeen abroadnephewyou'll understand raillery better. [FAINALLand MRS. MARWOOD talk apart.]
SIR WIL. Whythenlet him hold his tongue in the meantimeandrail when that day comes.
[To them] MINCING.
MINC. MemI come to acquaint your laship that dinner is impatient.
SIR WIL. Impatient? Whythenbelike it won't stay till I pulloff my boots. Sweetheartcan you help me to a pair of slippers?My man's with his horsesI warrant.
LADY. Fiefienephewyou would not pull off your boots here? Godown into the hall:- dinner shall stay for you. My nephew's alittle unbred: you'll pardon himmadam. Gentlemenwill you walk?Marwood?
MRS. MAR. I'll follow youmadam--before Sir Wilfull is ready.
FAIN. WhythenFoible's a bawdan errantrank match-makingbawd. And Iit seemsam a husbanda rank husbandand my wife avery errantrank wife--all in the way of the world. 'Sdeathtobe a cuckold by anticipationa cuckold in embryo! Sure I was bornwith budding antlers like a young satyror a citizen's child'sdeathto be out-wittedto be out-jiltedout-matrimonied. If Ihad kept my speed like a stag'twere somewhatbut to crawl afterwith my horns like a snailand be outstripped by my wife--'tisscurvy wedlock.
MRS. MAR. Then shake it off: you have often wished for anopportunity to partand now you have it. But first prevent theirplot:- the half of Millamant's fortune is too considerable to beparted with to a foeto Mirabell.
FAIN. Damn himthat had been mine--had you not made that fonddiscovery. That had been forfeitedhad they been married. My wifehad added lustre to my horns by that increase of fortune: I couldhave worn 'em tipt with goldthough my forehead had been furnishedlike a deputy-lieutenant's hall.
MRS. MAR. They may prove a cap of maintenance to you stillif youcan away with your wife. And she's no worse than when you had her:-I dare swear she had given up her game before she was married.
FAIN. Hum! That may be -
MRS. MAR. You married her to keep you; and if you can contrive tohave her keep you better than you expectedwhy should you not keepher longer than you intended?
FAIN. The meansthe means?
MRS. MAR. Discover to my lady your wife's conduct; threaten to partwith her. My lady loves herand will come to any composition tosave her reputation. Take the opportunity of breaking it just uponthe discovery of this imposture. My lady will be enraged beyondboundsand sacrifice nieceand fortune and all at thatconjuncture. And let me alone to keep her warm: if she should flagin her partI will not fail to prompt her.
FAIN. Faiththis has an appearance.
MRS. MAR. I'm sorry I hinted to my lady to endeavour a matchbetween Millamant and Sir Wilfull; that may be an obstacle.
FAIN. Ohfor that matterleave me to manage him; I'll disable himfor thathe will drink like a Dane. After dinner I'll set his handin.
MRS. MAR. Wellhow do you stand affected towards your lady?
FAIN. WhyfaithI'm thinking of it. Let me see. I am marriedalready; so that's over. My wife has played the jade with me; wellthat's over too. I never loved heror if I hadwhy that wouldhave been over too by this time. Jealous of her I cannot befor Iam certain; so there's an end of jealousy. Weary of her I am andshall be. Nothere's no end of that; nonothat were too much tohope. Thus far concerning my repose. Now for my reputation: as tomy ownI married not for it; so that's out of the question. And asto my part in my wife's--whyshe had parted with hers before; sobringing none to meshe can take none from me: 'tis against allrule of play that I should lose to one who has not wherewithal tostake.
MRS. MAR. Besides you forgetmarriage is honourable.
FAIN. Hum! Faithand that's well thought on: marriage ishonourableas you say; and if sowherefore should cuckoldom be adiscreditbeing derived from so honourable a root?
MRS. MAR. NayI know not; if the root be honourablewhy not thebranches?
FAIN. Soso; why this point's clear. Wellhow do we proceed?
MRS. MAR. I will contrive a letter which shall be delivered to mylady at the time when that rascal who is to act Sir Rowland is withher. It shall come as from an unknown hand--for the less I appearto know of the truth the better I can play the incendiary. BesidesI would not have Foible provoked if I could help itbecauseyouknowshe knows some passages. NayI expect all will come out.But let the mine be sprung firstand then I care not if I amdiscovered.
FAIN. If the worst come to the worstI'll turn my wife to grass.I have already a deed of settlement of the best part of her estatewhich I wheedled out of herand that you shall partake at least.
MRS. MAR. I hope you are convinced that I hate Mirabell now?You'll be no more jealous?
FAIN. Jealous? Noby this kiss. Let husbands be jealousbut letthe lover still believe: or if he doubtlet it be only to endearhis pleasureand prepare the joy that followswhen he proves hismistress true. But let husbands' doubts convert to endlessjealousy; or if they have belieflet it corrupt to superstition andblind credulity. I am single and will herd no more with 'em. TrueI wear the badgebut I'll disown the order. And since I take myleave of 'emI care not if I leave 'em a common motto to theircommon crest.
All husbands must or pain or shame endure;The wise too jealous arefools too secure.
ACT IV.--SCENE I.
LADY WISHFORT and FOIBLE.
LADY. Is Sir Rowland comingsay'st thouFoible? And are thingsin order?
FOIB. Yesmadam. I have put wax-lights in the sconcesand placedthe footmen in a row in the hallin their best liverieswith thecoachman and postillion to fill up the equipage.
LADY. Have you pulvilled the coachman and postillionthat they maynot stink of the stable when Sir Rowland comes by?
LADY. And are the dancers and the music readythat he may beentertained in all points with correspondence to his passion?
FOIB. All is readymadam.
LADY. And--well--and how do I lookFoible?
FOIB. Most killing wellmadam.
LADY. Welland how shall I receive him? In what figure shall Igive his heart the first impression? There is a great deal in thefirst impression. Shall I sit? NoI won't sitI'll walk--ayI'll walk from the door upon his entranceand then turn full uponhim. Nothat will be too sudden. I'll lie--ayI'll lie down.I'll receive him in my little dressing-room; there's a couch--yesyesI'll give the first impression on a couch. I won't lieneitherbut loll and lean upon one elbowwith one foot a littledangling offjogging in a thoughtful way. Yes; and then as soon ashe appearsstartaystart and be surprisedand rise to meet himin a pretty disorder. Yes; ohnothing is more alluring than alevee from a couch in some confusion. It shows the foot toadvantageand furnishes with blushes and re-composing airs beyondcomparison. Hark! There's a coach.
FOIB. 'Tis hemadam.
LADY. Oh dearhas my nephew made his addresses to Millamant? Iordered him.
FOIB. Sir Wilfull is set in to drinkingmadamin the parlour.
LADY. Ods my lifeI'll send him to her. Call her downFoible;bring her hither. I'll send him as I go. When they are togetherthen come to meFoiblethat I may not be too long alone with SirRowland.
MRS. MILLAMANTMRS. FAINALLFOIBLE.
FOIB. MadamI stayed here to tell your ladyship that Mr. Mirabellhas waited this half hour for an opportunity to talk with you;though my lady's orders were to leave you and Sir Wilfull together.Shall I tell Mr. Mirabell that you are at leisure?
MILLA. No. What would the dear man have? I am thoughtful andwould amuse myself; bid him come another time.
There never yet was woman madeNor shallbut to be cursed. [Repeating and walking about.]
MRS. FAIN. You are very fond of Sir John Suckling to-dayMillamantand the poets.
MILLA. He? Ayand filthy verses. So I am.
FOIB. Sir Wilfull is comingmadam. Shall I send Mr. Mirabellaway?
MILLA. Ayif you pleaseFoiblesend him awayor send himhitherjust as you willdear Foible. I think I'll see him. ShallI? Aylet the wretch come.
Thyrsisa youth of the inspired train. [Repeating]
Dear Fainallentertain Sir Wilfull:- thou hast philosophy toundergo a fool; thou art married and hast patience. I would conferwith my own thoughts.
MRS. FAIN. I am obliged to you that you would make me your proxy inthis affairbut I have business of my own.
[To them] SIR WILFULL.
MRS. FAIN. O Sir Wilfullyou are come at the critical instant.There's your mistress up to the ears in love and contemplation;pursue your pointnow or never.
SIR WIL. Yesmy aunt will have it so. I would gladly have beenencouraged with a bottle or twobecause I'm somewhat wary at firstbefore I am acquainted. [This while MILLAMANT walks about repeatingto herself.] But I hopeafter a timeI shall break my mind--thatisupon further acquaintance.--So for the presentcousinI'lltake my leave. If so be you'll be so kind to make my excuseI'llreturn to my company -
MRS. FAIN. OhfieSir Wilfull! Whatyou must not be daunted.
SIR WIL. Daunted? Nothat's not it; it is not so much for that--for if so be that I set on't I'll do't. But only for the present'tis sufficient till further acquaintancethat's all--your servant.
MRS. FAIN. NayI'll swear you shall never lose so favourable anopportunityif I can help it. I'll leave you together and lock thedoor.
SIR WIL. Naynaycousin. I have forgot my gloves. What d'ye do?'Shearta has locked the door indeedI think.--NaycousinFainallopen the door. Pshawwhat a vixen trick is this? Naynow a has seen me too.--CousinI made bold to pass through as itwere--I think this door's enchanted.
I prithee spare megentle boyPress me no more for that slight toy.
SIR WIL. Anan? Cousinyour servant.
MILLA. That foolish trifle of a heart -Sir Wilfull!
SIR WIL. Yes--your servant. No offenceI hopecousin?
I swear it will not do its partThough thou dost thineemploy'st thy power and art.
SIR WIL. Anan? Suckling? No such suckling neithercousinnorstripling: I thank heaven I'm no minor.
MILLA. Ahrusticruder than Gothic.
SIR WIL. WellwellI shall understand your lingo one of thesedayscousin; in the meanwhile I must answer in plain English.
MILLA. Have you any business with meSir Wilfull?
SIR WIL. Not at presentcousin. YesI made bold to seeto comeand know if that how you were disposed to fetch a walk this evening;if so be that I might not be troublesomeI would have sought a walkwith you.
MILLA. A walk? What then?
SIR WIL. Naynothing. Only for the walk's sakethat's all.
MILLA. I nauseate walking: 'tis a country diversion; I loathe thecountry and everything that relates to it.
SIR WIL. Indeed! Hah! Look yelook yeyou do? Nay'tis likeyou may. Here are choice of pastimes here in townas plays and thelikethat must be confessed indeed -
MILLA. AhL'ETOURDI! I hate the town too.
SIR WIL. Dear heartthat's much. Hah! that you should hate 'emboth! Hah! 'tis like you may! There are some can't relish thetownand others can't away with the country'tis like you may beone of thosecousin.
MILLA. Hahaha! Yes'tis like I may. You have nothing furtherto say to me?
SIR WIL. Not at presentcousin. 'Tis like when I have anopportunity to be more private--I may break my mind in some measure--I conjecture you partly guess. Howeverthat's as time shall try.But spare to speak and spare to speedas they say.
MILLA. If it is of no great importanceSir Wilfullyou willoblige me to leave me: I have just now a little business.
SIR WIL. Enoughenoughcousin. Yesyesall a case. Whenyou're disposedwhen you're disposed. Now's as well as anothertime; and another time as well as now. All's one for that. Yesyes; if your concerns call youthere's no haste: it will keep coldas they say. Cousinyour servant. I think this door's locked.
MILLA. You may go this waysir.
SIR WIL. Your servant; then with your leave I'll return to mycompany.
MILLA. Ayay; hahaha!
Like Phoebus sung the no less am'rous boy.
MIRA. Like Daphne sheas lovely and as coy.
Do you lock yourself up from meto make my search more curious? Oris this pretty artifice contrivedto signify that here the chasemust endand my pursuit be crownedfor you can fly no further?
MILLA. Vanity! No--I'll fly and be followed to the last moment;though I am upon the very verge of matrimonyI expect you shouldsolicit me as much as if I were wavering at the grate of amonasterywith one foot over the threshold. I'll be solicited tothe very last; nayand afterwards.
MIRA. Whatafter the last?
MILLA. OhI should think I was poor and had nothing to bestow if Iwere reduced to an inglorious easeand freed from the agreeablefatigues of solicitation.
MIRA. But do not you know that when favours are conferred uponinstant and tedious solicitationthat they diminish in their valueand that both the giver loses the graceand the receiver lessenshis pleasure?
MILLA. It may be in things of common applicationbut neversurein love. OhI hate a lover that can dare to think he draws amoment's air independent on the bounty of his mistress. There isnot so impudent a thing in nature as the saucy look of an assuredman confident of success: the pedantic arrogance of a very husbandhas not so pragmatical an air. AhI'll never marryunless I amfirst made sure of my will and pleasure.
MIRA. Would you have 'em both before marriage? Or will you becontented with the first nowand stay for the other till aftergrace?
MILLA. Ahdon't be impertinent. My dear libertyshall I leavethee? My faithful solitudemy darling contemplationmust I bidyou then adieu? Ay-hadieu. My morning thoughtsagreeablewakingsindolent slumbersall ye DOUCEURSye SOMMEILS DU MATINadieu. I can't do't'tis more than impossible--positivelyMirabellI'll lie a-bed in a morning as long as I please.
MI RA. Then I'll get up in a morning as early as I please.
MILLA. Ah! Idle creatureget up when you will. And d'ye hearIwon't be called names after I'm married; positively I won't becalled names.
MILLA. Ayas wifespousemy dearjoyjewellovesweet-heartand the rest of that nauseous cantin which men and their wives areso fulsomely familiar--I shall never bear that. Good Mirabelldon't let us be familiar or fondnor kiss before folkslike myLady Fadler and Sir Francis; nor go to Hyde Park together the firstSunday in a new chariotto provoke eyes and whispersand thennever be seen there together againas if we were proud of oneanother the first weekand ashamed of one another ever after. Letus never visit togethernor go to a play togetherbut let us bevery strange and well-bred. Let us be as strange as if we had beenmarried a great whileand as well-bred as if we were not married atall.
MIRA. Have you any more conditions to offer? Hitherto your demandsare pretty reasonable.
MILLA. Trifles; as liberty to pay and receive visits to and fromwhom I please; to write and receive letterswithout interrogatoriesor wry faces on your part; to wear what I pleaseand chooseconversation with regard only to my own taste; to have no obligationupon me to converse with wits that I don't likebecause they areyour acquaintanceor to be intimate with foolsbecause they may beyour relations. Come to dinner when I pleasedine in my dressing-room when I'm out of humourwithout giving a reason. To have mycloset inviolate; to be sole empress of my tea-tablewhich you mustnever presume to approach without first asking leave. And lastlywherever I amyou shall always knock at the door before you comein. These articles subscribedif I continue to endure you a littlelongerI may by degrees dwindle into a wife.
MIRA. Your bill of fare is something advanced in this latteraccount. Wellhave I liberty to offer conditions:- that when youare dwindled into a wifeI may not be beyond measure enlarged intoa husband?
MILLA. You have free leave: propose your utmostspeak and sparenot.
MIRA. I thank you. IMPRIMISthenI covenant that youracquaintance be general; that you admit no sworn confidant orintimate of your own sex; no she friend to screen her affairs underyour countenanceand tempt you to make trial of a mutual secrecy.No decoy-duck to wheedle you a FOP-SCRAMBLING to the play in a maskthen bring you home in a pretended frightwhen you think you shallbe found outand rail at me for missing the playand disappointingthe frolic which you had to pick me up and prove my constancy.
MILLA. Detestable IMPRIMIS! I go to the play in a mask!
MIRA. ITEMI articlethat you continue to like your own face aslong as I shalland while it passes current with methat youendeavour not to new coin it. To which endtogether with allvizards for the dayI prohibit all masks for the nightmade ofoiled skins and I know not what--hog's boneshare's gallpigwaterand the marrow of a roasted cat. In shortI forbid allcommerce with the gentlewomen in what-d'ye-call-it court. ITEMIshut my doors against all bawds with basketsand pennyworths ofmuslinchinafansatlasesetc. ITEMwhen you shall be breeding-
MILLA. Ahname it not!
MIRA. Which may be presumedwith a blessing on our endeavours -
MILLA. Odious endeavours!
MIRA. I denounce against all strait lacingsqueezing for a shapetill you mould my boy's head like a sugar-loafand instead of aman-childmake me father to a crooked billet. Lastlyto thedominion of the tea-table I submit; but with provisothat youexceed not in your provincebut restrain yourself to native andsimple tea-table drinksas teachocolateand coffee. As likewiseto genuine and authorised tea-table talksuch as mending offashionsspoiling reputationsrailing at absent friendsand soforth. But that on no account you encroach upon the men'sprerogativeand presume to drink healthsor toast fellows; forprevention of whichI banish all foreign forcesall auxiliaries tothe tea-tableas orange-brandyall aniseedcinnamoncitronandBarbadoes waterstogether with ratafia and the most noble spirit ofclary. But for cowslip-winepoppy-waterand all dormitivesthoseI allow. These provisos admittedin other things I may prove atractable and complying husband.
MILLA. Ohhorrid provisos! Filthy strong waters! I toastfellowsodious men! I hate your odious provisos.
MIRA. Then we're agreed. Shall I kiss your hand upon the contract?And here comes one to be a witness to the sealing of the deed.
[To them] MRS. FAINALL.
MILLA. Fainallwhat shall I do? Shall I have him? I think I musthave him.
MRS. FAIN. Ayaytake himtake himwhat should you do?
MILLA. Well then--I'll take my death I'm in a horrid fright--FainallI shall never say it. Well--I think--I'll endure you.
MRS. FAIN. Fiefiehave himand tell him so in plain terms: forI am sure you have a mind to him.
MILLA. Are you? I think I have; and the horrid man looks as if hethought so too. Wellyou ridiculous thing youI'll have you. Iwon't be kissednor I won't be thanked.--Herekiss my hand thoughso hold your tongue now; don't say a word.
MRS. FAIN. Mirabellthere's a necessity for your obedience: youhave neither time to talk nor stay. My mother is coming; and in myconscience if she should see youwould fall into fitsand maybenot recover time enough to return to Sir Rowlandwhoas Foibletells meis in a fair way to succeed. Therefore spare yourecstasies for another occasionand slip down the back stairswhereFoible waits to consult you.
MILLA. Aygogo. In the meantime I suppose you have saidsomething to please me.
MIRA. I am all obedience.
MRS. MILLAMANTMRS. FAINALL.
MRS. FAIN. Yonder Sir Wilfull's drunkand so noisy that my motherhas been forced to leave Sir Rowland to appease him; but he answersher only with singing and drinking. What they may have done by thistime I know notbut Petulant and he were upon quarrelling as I cameby.
MILLA. Wellif Mirabell should not make a good husbandI am alost thing: for I find I love him violently.
MRS. FAIN. So it seems; for you mind not what's said to you. Ifyou doubt himyou had best take up with Sir Wilfull.
MILLA. How can you name that superannuated lubber? foh!
[To them] WITWOUD from drinking.
MRS. FAIN. Sois the fray made up that you have left 'em?
WIT. Left 'em? I could stay no longer. I have laughed like tenChrist'nings. I am tipsy with laughing--if I had stayed any longerI should have burst--I must have been let out and pieced in thesides like an unsized camlet. Yesyesthe fray is composed; mylady came in like a NOLI PROSEQUIand stopt the proceedings.
MILLA. What was the dispute?
WIT. That's the jest: there was no dispute. They could neither of'em speak for rage; and so fell a sputt'ring at one another like tworoasting apples.
[To them] PETULANT drunk.
WIT. NowPetulant? All's overall's well? Gadmy head beginsto whim it about. Why dost thou not speak? Thou art both as drunkand as mute as a fish.
PET. Look youMrs. Millamantif you can love medear Nymphsayitand that's the conclusion--pass onor pass off--that's all.
WIT. Thou hast uttered volumesfoliosin less than decimo sextomy dear Lacedemonian. SirrahPetulantthou art an epitomiser ofwords.
PET. Witwoud--you are an annihilator of sense.
WIT. Thou art a retailer of phrasesand dost deal in remnants ofremnantslike a maker of pincushions; thou art in truth(metaphorically speaking) a speaker of shorthand.
PET. Thou art (without a figure) just one half of an assandBaldwin yonderthy half-brotheris the rest. A Gemini of assessplit would make just four of you.
WIT. Thou dost bitemy dear mustard-seed; kiss me for that.
PET. Stand off--I'll kiss no more males--I have kissed your Twinyonder in a humour of reconciliation till he [hiccup] rises upon mystomach like a radish.
MILLA. Eh! filthy creature; what was the quarrel?
PET. There was no quarrel; there might have been a quarrel.
WIT. If there had been words enow between 'em to have expressedprovocationthey had gone together by the ears like a pair ofcastanets.
PET. You were the quarrel.
PET. If I have a humour to quarrelI can make less mattersconclude premises. If you are not handsomewhat then? If I have ahumour to prove it? If I shall have my rewardsay so; if notfight for your face the next time yourself--I'll go sleep.
WIT. Dowrap thyself up like a woodlouseand dream revenge. Andhear meif thou canst learn to write by to-morrow morningpen me achallenge. I'll carry it for thee.
PET. Carry your mistress's monkey a spider; go flea dogs and readromances. I'll go to bed to my maid.
MRS. FAIN. He's horridly drunk--how came you all in this pickle?
WIT. A plota plotto get rid of the knight--your husband'sadvice; but he sneaked off.
SIR WILFULLdrunkLADY WISHFORTWITWOUDMRS. MILLAMANTMRS.FAINALL.
LADY. Out upon'tout upon'tat years of discretionand comportyourself at this rantipole rate!
SIR WIL. No offenceaunt.
LADY. Offence? As I'm a personI'm ashamed of you. Fogh! Howyou stink of wine! D'ye think my niece will ever endure such aBorachio? You're an absolute Borachio.
SIR WIL. Borachio?
LADY. At a time when you should commence an amourand put yourbest foot foremost -
SIR WIL. 'Sheartan you grutch me your liquormake a bill.--Giveme more drinkand take my purse. [Sings]:-
Prithee fill me the glass
Till it laugh in my face
With ale that is potent and mellow;
He that whines for a lass
Is an ignorant ass
For a bumper has not its fellow.
But if you would have me marry my cousinsay the wordand I'lldo't. Wilfull will do'tthat's the word. Wilfull will do'tthat's my crest--my motto I have forgot.
LADY. My nephew's a little overtakencousinbut 'tis drinkingyour health. O' my wordyou are obliged to him -
SIR WIL. IN VINO VERITASaunt. If I drunk your health to-daycousin--I am a Borachio.--But if you have a mind to be marriedsaythe word and send for the piper; Wilfull will do't. If notdust itawayand let's have t'other round. Tony--ods-heartwhere's Tony?--Tony's an honest fellowbut he spits after a bumperand that's afault.
We'll drink and we'll never ha' doneboys
Put the glass then around with the sunboys
Let Apollo's example invite us;
For he's drunk every night
And that makes him so bright
That he's able next morning to light us.
The sun's a good pimplean honest soakerhe has a cellar at yourantipodes. If I travelauntI touch at your antipodes--yourantipodes are a good rascally sort of topsy-turvy fellows. If I hada bumper I'd stand upon my head and drink a health to 'em. A matchor no matchcousin with the hard name; auntWilfull will do't. Ifshe has her maidenhead let her look to 't; if she has notlet herkeep her own counsel in the meantimeand cry out at the ninemonths' end.
MILLA. Your pardonmadamI can stay no longer. Sir Wilfull growsvery powerful. Egh! how he smells! I shall be overcome if I stay.Comecousin.
LADY WISHFORTSIR WILFULL WITWOUDMR. WITWOUDFOIBLE.
LADY. Smells? He would poison a tallow-chandler and his family.Beastly creatureI know not what to do with him. Travelquotha;aytraveltravelget thee goneget thee but far enoughto theSaracensor the Tartarsor the Turks--for thou art not fit to livein a Christian commonwealththou beastly pagan.
SIR WIL. Turks? No; no Turksaunt. Your Turks are infidelsandbelieve not in the grape. Your Mahometanyour Mussulman is a drystinkard. No offenceaunt. My map says that your Turk is not sohonest a man as your Christian--I cannot find by the map that yourMufti is orthodoxwhereby it is a plain case that orthodox is ahard wordauntand [hiccup] Greek for claret. [Sings]:-
To drink is a Christian diversion
Unknown to the Turk or the Persian.
Let Mahometan fools
Live by heathenish rules
And be damned over tea-cups and coffee.
But let British lads sing
Crown a health to the King
And a fig for your Sultan and Sophy.
AhTony! [FOIBLE whispers LADY W.]
LADY. Sir Rowland impatient? Good lack! what shall I do with thisbeastly tumbril? Go lie down and sleepyou sotor as I'm apersonI'll have you bastinadoed with broomsticks. Call up thewenches with broomsticks.
SIR WIL. Ahey! Wenches? Where are the wenches?
LADY. Dear Cousin Witwoudget him awayand you will bind me toyou inviolably. I have an affair of moment that invades me withsome precipitation.--You will oblige me to all futurity.
WIT. Comeknight. Pox on himI don't know what to say to him.Will you go to a cock-match?
SIR WIL. With a wenchTony? Is she a shake-bagsirrah? Let mebite your cheek for that.
WIT. Horrible! He has a breath like a bagpipe. Ayay; comewillyou marchmy Salopian?
SIR WIL. Lead onlittle Tony. I'll follow theemy AnthonymyTantony. Sirrahthou shalt be my Tantonyand I'll be thy pig.
And a fig for your Sultan and Sophy.
LADY. This will never do. It will never make a match--at leastbefore he has been abroad.
LADY WISHFORTWAITWELL disguised as for SIR ROWLAND.
LADY. Dear Sir RowlandI am confounded with confusion at theretrospection of my own rudeness--I have more pardons to ask thanthe pope distributes in the year of jubilee. But I hope where thereis likely to be so near an alliancewe may unbend the severity ofdecorumand dispense with a little ceremony.
WAIT. My impatiencemadamis the effect of my transport; and tillI have the possession of your adorable personI am tantalised onthe rackand do but hangmadamon the tenter of expectation.
LADY. You have excess of gallantrySir Rowlandand press thingsto a conclusion with a most prevailing vehemence. But a day or twofor decency of marriage -
WAIT. For decency of funeralmadam! The delay will break myheart--or if that should failI shall be poisoned. My nephew willget an inkling of my designs and poison me--and I would willinglystarve him before I die--I would gladly go out of the world withthat satisfaction. That would be some comfort to meif I could butlive so long as to be revenged on that unnatural viper.
LADY. Is he so unnaturalsay you? Truly I would contribute muchboth to the saving of your life and the accomplishment of yourrevenge. Not that I respect myself; though he has been a perfidiouswretch to me.
WAIT. Perfidious to you?
LADY. O Sir Rowlandthe hours that he has died away at my feetthe tears that he has shedthe oaths that he has swornthepalpitations that he has feltthe trances and the tremblingstheardours and the ecstasiesthe kneelings and the risingsthe heart-heavings and the hand-gripingsthe pangs and the pathetic regardsof his protesting eyes!--Ohno memory can register.
WAIT. Whatmy rival? Is the rebel my rival? A dies.
LADY. Nodon't kill him at onceSir Rowland: starve himgraduallyinch by inch.
WAIT. I'll do't. In three weeks he shall be barefoot; in a monthout at knees with begging an alms; he shall starve upward andupward'till he has nothing living but his headand then go out ina stink like a candle's end upon a save-all.
LADY. WellSir Rowlandyou have the way--you are no novice inthe labyrinth of love--you have the clue. But as I am a personSir Rowlandyou must not attribute my yielding to any sinisterappetite or indigestion of widowhood; nor impute my complacency toany lethargy of continence. I hope you do not think me prone to anyiteration of nuptials?
WAIT. Far be it from me -
LADY. If you doI protest I must recedeor think that I have madea prostitution of decorumsbut in the vehemence of compassionandto save the life of a person of so much importance -
WAIT. I esteem it so -
LADY. Or else you wrong my condescension -
WAIT. I do notI do not -
LADY. Indeed you do.
WAIT. I do notfair shrine of virtue.
LADY. If you think the least scruple of causality was an ingredient-
WAIT. Dear madamno. You are all camphire and frankincenseallchastity and odour.
LADY. Or that -
[To them] FOIBLE.
FOIB. Madamthe dancers are readyand there's one with a letterwho must deliver it into your own hands.
LADY. Sir Rowlandwill you give me leave? Think favourablyjudgecandidlyand conclude you have found a person who would sufferracks in honour's causedear Sir Rowlandand will wait on youincessantly.
WAIT. Fiefie! What a slavery have I undergone; spousehast thouany cordial? I want spirits.
FOIB. What a washy rogue art thouto pant thus for a quarter of anhour's lying and swearing to a fine lady?
WAIT. Ohshe is the antidote to desire. Spousethou wilt farethe worse for't. I shall have no appetite to iteration of nuptials--this eight-and-forty hours. By this hand I'd rather be a chairmanin the dog-days than act Sir Rowland till this time to-morrow.
[To them] LADY with a letter.
LADY. Call in the dancers; Sir Rowlandwe'll sitif you pleaseand see the entertainment. [Dance.] Nowwith your permissionSirRowlandI will peruse my letter. I would open it in your presencebecause I would not make you uneasy. If it should make you uneasyI would burn it--speak if it does--but you may seethesuperscription is like a woman's hand.
FOIB. By heaven! Mrs. Marwood'sI know it--my heart aches--getit from her! [To him.]
WAIT. A woman's hand? No madamthat's no woman's hand: I seethat already. That's somebody whose throat must be cut.
LADY. NaySir Rowlandsince you give me a proof of your passionby your jealousyI promise you I'll make a return by a frankcommunication. You shall see it--we'll open it together. Look youhere. [Reads.] MADAMTHOUGH UNKNOWN TO YOU (look you there'tisfrom nobody that I know.) I HAVE THAT HONOUR FOR YOUR CHARACTERTHAT I THINK MYSELF OBLIGED TO LET YOU KNOW YOU ARE ABUSED. HE WHOPRETENDS TO BE SIR ROWLAND IS A CHEAT AND A RASCAL. O heavens!what's this?
FOIB. Unfortunate; all's ruined.
WAIT. Howhowlet me seelet me see. [Reading.] A RASCALANDDISGUISED AND SUBORNED FOR THAT IMPOSTURE--O villainy! O villainy!--BY THE CONTRIVANCE OF -
LADY. I shall faintI shall die. Oh!
FOIB. Say 'tis your nephew's hand. Quicklyhis plotswearswearit! [To him.]
WAIT. Here's a villain! Madamdon't you perceive it? Don't yousee it?
LADY. Too welltoo well. I have seen too much.
WAIT. I told you at first I knew the hand. A woman's hand? Therascal writes a sort of a large hand: your Roman hand.--I saw therewas a throat to be cut presently. If he were my sonas he is mynephewI'd pistol him.
FOIB. O treachery! But are you sureSir Rowlandit is hiswriting?
WAIT. Sure? Am I here? Do I live? Do I love this pearl of India?I have twenty letters in my pocket from him in the same character.
FOIB. Ohwhat luck it isSir Rowlandthat you were present atthis juncture! This was the business that brought Mr. Mirabelldisguised to Madam Millamant this afternoon. I thought somethingwas contrivingwhen he stole by me and would have hid his face.
LADY. Howhow? I heard the villain was in the house indeed; andnow I remembermy niece went away abruptly when Sir Wilfull was tohave made his addresses.
FOIB. ThenthenmadamMr. Mirabell waited for her in herchamber; but I would not tell your ladyship to discompose you whenyou were to receive Sir Rowland.
WAIT. Enoughhis date is short.
FOIB. Nogood Sir Rowlanddon't incur the law.
WAIT. Law? I care not for law. I can but dieand 'tis in a goodcause. My lady shall be satisfied of my truth and innocencethoughit cost me my life.
LADY. Nodear Sir Rowlanddon't fight: if you should be killed Imust never show my face; or hanged--ohconsider my reputationSirRowland. Noyou shan't fight: I'll go in and examine my niece;I'll make her confess. I conjure youSir Rowlandby all your lovenot to fight.
WAIT. I am charmedmadam; I obey. But some proof you must let megive you: I'll go for a black boxwhich contains the writings ofmy whole estateand deliver that into your hands.
LADY. Aydear Sir Rowlandthat will be some comfort; bring theblack box.
WAIT. And may I presume to bring a contract to be signed thisnight? May I hope so far?
LADY. Bring what you will; but come alivepray come alive. Ohthis is a happy discovery.
WAIT. Dead or alive I'll come--and married we will be in spite oftreachery; ayand get an heir that shall defeat the last remainingglimpse of hope in my abandoned nephew. Comemy buxom widow:
E'er long you shall substantial proof receiveThat I'm an arrant knight -
FOIB. Or arrant knave.
ACT V.--SCENE I.
LADY WISHFORT and FOIBLE.
LADY. Out of my houseout of my housethou viperthou serpentthat I have fosteredthou bosom traitress that I raised fromnothing! Begonebegonebegonegogo; that I took from washingof old gauze and weaving of dead hairwith a bleak blue noseovera chafing-dish of starved embersand dining behind a traver's ragin a shop no bigger than a bird-cage. Gogostarve againdodo!
FOIB. Dear madamI'll beg pardon on my knees.
LADY. Awayoutoutgo set up for yourself againdo; drive atradedowith your threepennyworth of small wareflaunting upon apackthreadunder a brandy-seller's bulkor against a dead wall bya balladmonger. Gohang out an old frisoneer-gorgetwith a yardof yellow colberteen againdo; an old gnawed masktwo rows ofpinsand a child's fiddle; a glass necklace with the beads brokenand a quilted night-cap with one ear. Gogodrive a trade. Thesewere your commoditiesyou treacherous trull; this was themerchandise you dealt inwhen I took you into my houseplaced younext myselfand made you governant of my whole family. You haveforgot thishave younow you have feathered your nest?
FOIB. Nonodear madam. Do but hear mehave but a moment'spatience--I'll confess all. Mr. Mirabell seduced me; I am not thefirst that he has wheedled with his dissembling tongue. Yourladyship's own wisdom has been deluded by him; then how should Iapoor ignorantdefend myself? O madamif you knew but what hepromised meand how he assured me your ladyship should come to nodamageor else the wealth of the Indies should not have bribed meto conspire against so goodso sweetso kind a lady as you havebeen to me.
LADY. No damage? Whatto betray meto marry me to a castserving-man; to make me a receptaclean hospital for a decayedpimp? No damage? O thou frontless impudencemore than a big-bellied actress!
FOIB. Pray do but hear memadam; he could not marry your ladyshipmadam. No indeedhis marriage was to have been void in law; for hewas married to me firstto secure your ladyship. He could not havebedded your ladyshipfor if he had consummated with your ladyshiphe must have run the risk of the lawand been put upon his clergy.Yes indeedI enquired of the law in that case before I would meddleor make.
LADY. What? Then I have been your propertyhave I? I have beenconvenient to youit seemswhile you were catering for Mirabell; Ihave been broker for you? Whathave you made a passive bawd of me?This exceeds all precedent. I am brought to fine usesto become abotcher of second-hand marriages between Abigails and Andrews! I'llcouple you. YesI'll baste you togetheryou and your Philander.I'll Duke's Place youas I'm a person. Your turtle is in custodyalready. You shall coo in the same cageif there be constable orwarrant in the parish.
FOIB. Ohthat ever I was born! Ohthat I was ever married! Abride? AyI shall be a Bridewell bride. Oh!
MRS. FAIN. Poor Foiblewhat's the matter?
FOIB. O madammy lady's gone for a constable; I shall be had to ajusticeand put to Bridewell to beat hemp. Poor Waitwell's gone toprison already.
MRS. FAIN. Have a good heartFoible: Mirabell's gone to givesecurity for him. This is all Marwood's and my husband's doing.
FOIB. Yesyes; I know itmadam: she was in my lady's closetandoverheard all that you said to me before dinner. She sent theletter to my ladyand that missing effectMr. Fainall laid thisplot to arrest Waitwellwhen he pretended to go for the papers; andin the meantime Mrs. Marwood declared all to my lady.
MRS. FAIN. Was there no mention made of me in the letter? Mymother does not suspect my being in the confederacy? I fancyMarwood has not told herthough she has told my husband.
FOIB. Yesmadam; but my lady did not see that part. We stifledthe letter before she read so far. Has that mischievous devil toldMr. Fainall of your ladyship then?
MRS. FAIN. Ayall's out: my affair with Mirabelleverythingdiscovered. This is the last day of our living together; that's mycomfort.
FOIB. Indeedmadamand so 'tis a comfortif you knew all. Hehas been even with your ladyship; which I could have told you longenough sincebut I love to keep peace and quietness by my goodwill. I had rather bring friends together than set 'em at distance.But Mrs. Marwood and he are nearer related than ever their parentsthought for.
MRS. FAIN. Say'st thou soFoible? Canst thou prove this?
FOIB. I can take my oath of itmadam; so can Mrs. Mincing. Wehave had many a fair word from Madam Marwood to conceal somethingthat passed in our chamber one evening when you were at Hyde Parkand we were thought to have gone a-walking. But we went upunawares--though we were sworn to secrecy too: Madam Marwood took abook and swore us upon it: but it was but a book of poems. So longas it was not a bible oathwe may break it with a safe conscience.
MRS. FAIN. This discovery is the most opportune thing I could wish.NowMincing?
[To them] MINCING.
MINC. My lady would speak with Mrs. Foiblemem. Mr. Mirabell iswith her; he has set your spouse at libertyMrs. Foibleand wouldhave you hide yourself in my lady's closet till my old lady's angeris abated. Ohmy old lady is in a perilous passion at somethingMr. Fainall has said; he swearsand my old lady cries. There's afearful hurricaneI vow. He saysmemhow that he'll have mylady's fortune made over to himor he'll be divorced.
MRS. FAIN. Does your lady or Mirabell know that?
MINC. Yes mem; they have sent me to see if Sir Wilfull be soberand to bring him to them. My lady is resolved to have himI thinkrather than lose such a vast sum as six thousand pound. OhcomeMrs. FoibleI hear my old lady.
MRS. FAIN. Foibleyou must tell Mincing that she must prepare tovouch when I call her.
MINC. Ohyes memI'll vouch anything for your ladyship's servicebe what it will.
MRS. FAINALLLADY WISHFORTMRS. MARWOOD.
LADY. O my dear friendhow can I enumerate the benefits that Ihave received from your goodness? To you I owe the timely discoveryof the false vows of Mirabell; to you I owe the detection of theimpostor Sir Rowland. And now you are become an intercessor with myson-in-lawto save the honour of my house and compound for thefrailties of my daughter. Wellfriendyou are enough to reconcileme to the bad worldor else I would retire to deserts andsolitudesand feed harmless sheep by groves and purling streams.Dear Marwoodlet us leave the worldand retire by ourselves and beshepherdesses.
MRS. MAR. Let us first dispatch the affair in handmadam. Weshall have leisure to think of retirement afterwards. Here is onewho is concerned in the treaty.
LADY. O daughterdaughteris it possible thou shouldst be mychildbone of my boneand flesh of my fleshand as I may sayanother meand yet transgress the most minute particle of severevirtue? Is it possible you should lean aside to iniquitywho havebeen cast in the direct mould of virtue? I have not only been amould but a pattern for youand a model for youafter you werebrought into the world.
MRS. FAIN. I don't understand your ladyship.
LADY. Not understand? Whyhave you not been naught? Have you notbeen sophisticated? Not understand? Here I am ruined to compoundfor your caprices and your cuckoldoms. I must pawn my plate and myjewelsand ruin my nieceand all little enough -
MRS. FAIN. I am wronged and abusedand so are you. 'Tis a falseaccusationas false as hellas false as your friend there; ayoryour friend's friendmy false husband.
MRS. MAR. My friendMrs. Fainall? Your husband my friendwhat doyou mean?
MRS. FAIN. I know what I meanmadamand so do you; and so shallthe world at a time convenient.
MRS. MAR. I am sorry to see you so passionatemadam. More temperwould look more like innocence. But I have done. I am sorry myzeal to serve your ladyship and family should admit ofmisconstructionor make me liable to affronts. You will pardon memadamif I meddle no more with an affair in which I am notpersonally concerned.
LADY. O dear friendI am so ashamed that you should meet with suchreturns. You ought to ask pardon on your kneesungratefulcreature; she deserves more from you than all your life canaccomplish. Ohdon't leave me destitute in this perplexity! Nostick to memy good genius.
MRS. FAIN. I tell youmadamyou're abused. Stick to you? Aylike a leechto suck your best blood; she'll drop off when she'sfull. Madamyou shan't pawn a bodkinnor part with a brasscounterin composition for me. I defy 'em all. Let 'em provetheir aspersions: I know my own innocenceand dare stand a trial.
LADY WISHFORTMRS. MARWOOD.
LADY. Whyif she should be innocentif she should be wrongedafter allha? I don't know what to thinkand I promise youhereducation has been unexceptionable. I may say itfor I chieflymade it my own care to initiate her very infancy in the rudiments ofvirtueand to impress upon her tender years a young odium andaversion to the very sight of men; ayfriendshe would ha'shrieked if she had but seen a man till she was in her teens. AsI'm a person'tis true. She was never suffered to play with a malechildthough but in coats. Nayher very babies were of thefeminine gender. Ohshe never looked a man in the face but her ownfather or the chaplainand him we made a shift to put upon her fora womanby the help of his long garmentsand his sleek facetillshe was going in her fifteen.
MRS. MAR. 'Twas much she should be deceived so long.
LADY. I warrant youor she would never have borne to have beencatechised by himand have heard his long lectures against singingand dancing and such debaucheriesand going to filthy playsandprofane music meetingswhere the lewd trebles squeak nothing butbawdyand the basses roar blasphemy. Ohshe would have swooned atthe sight or name of an obscene play-book--and can I think after allthis that my daughter can be naught? Whata whore? And thought itexcommunication to set her foot within the door of a playhouse. Odear friendI can't believe it. Nono; as she sayslet him proveitlet him prove it.
MRS. MAR. Prove itmadam? Whatand have your name prostituted ina public court; yours and your daughter's reputation worried at thebar by a pack of bawling lawyers? To be ushered in with an OH YESof scandaland have your case opened by an old fumbling leacher ina quoif like a man midwife; to bring your daughter's infamy tolight; to be a theme for legal punsters and quibblers by thestatute; and become a jestagainst a rule of courtwhere there isno precedent for a jest in any recordnot even in Doomsday Book.To discompose the gravity of the benchand provoke naughtyinterrogatories in more naughty law Latin; while the good judgetickled with the proceedingsimpers under a grey beardand fidgesoff and on his cushion as if he had swallowed cantharidesor sateupon cow-itch.
LADY. Oh'tis very hard!
MRS. MAR. And then to have my young revellers of the Temple takenoteslike prentices at a conventicle; and after talk it over againin Commonsor before drawers in an eating-house.
LADY. Worse and worse.
MRS. MAR. Naythis is nothing; if it would end here 'twere well.But it must after this be consigned by the shorthand writers to thepublic press; and from thence be transferred to the handsnayintothe throats and lungsof hawkerswith voices more licentious thanthe loud flounder-man's. And this you must hear till you arestunned; nayyou must hear nothing else for some days.
LADY. Oh 'tis insupportable. Nonodear friendmake it upmakeit up; ayayI'll compound. I'll give up allmyself and my allmy niece and her allanythingeverythingfor composition.
MRS. MAR. NaymadamI advise nothingI only lay before youas afriendthe inconveniences which perhaps you have overseen. Herecomes Mr. Fainall; if he will be satisfied to huddle up all insilenceI shall be glad. You must think I would rathercongratulate than condole with you.
FAINALLLADY WISHFORTMRS. MARWOOD.
LADY. AyayI do not doubt itdear Marwood. NonoI do notdoubt it.
FAIN. WellmadamI have suffered myself to be overcome by theimportunity of this ladyyour friendand am content you shallenjoy your own proper estate during lifeon condition you obligeyourself never to marryunder such penalty as I think convenient.
LADY. Never to marry?
FAIN. No more Sir Rowlands--the next imposture may not be sotimely detected.
MRS. MAR. That conditionI dare answermy lady will consent towithout difficulty; she has already but too much experienced theperfidiousness of men. Besidesmadamwhen we retire to ourpastoral solitudewe shall bid adieu to all other thoughts.
LADY. Aythat's true; but in case of necessityas of healthorsome such emergency -
FAIN. Ohif you are prescribed marriageyou shall be considered;I will only reserve to myself the power to choose for you. If yourphysic be wholesomeit matters not who is your apothecary. Nextmy wife shall settle on me the remainder of her fortunenot madeover already; and for her maintenance depend entirely on mydiscretion.
LADY. This is most inhumanly savage: exceeding the barbarity of aMuscovite husband.
FAIN. I learned it from his Czarish Majesty's retinuein a winterevening's conference over brandy and pepperamongst other secretsof matrimony and policyas they are at present practised in thenorthern hemisphere. But this must be agreed untoand thatpositively. LastlyI will be endowedin right of my wifewiththat six thousand poundwhich is the moiety of Mrs. Millamant'sfortune in your possessionand which she has forfeited (as willappear by the last will and testament of your deceased husbandSirJonathan Wishfort) by her disobedience in contracting herselfagainst your consent or knowledgeand by refusing the offered matchwith Sir Wilfull Witwoudwhich youlike a careful aunthadprovided for her.
LADY. My nephew was NON COMPOSand could not make his addresses.
FAIN. I come to make demands--I'll hear no objections.
LADY. You will grant me time to consider?
FAIN. Yeswhile the instrument is drawingto which you must setyour hand till more sufficient deeds can be perfected: which I willtake care shall be done with all possible speed. In the meanwhile Iwill go for the said instrumentand till my return you may balancethis matter in your own discretion.
LADY WISHFORTMRS. MARWOOD.
LADY. This insolence is beyond all precedentall parallel. Must Ibe subject to this merciless villain?
MRS. MAR. 'Tis severe indeedmadamthat you should smart for yourdaughter's wantonness.
LADY. 'Twas against my consent that she married this barbarianbutshe would have himthough her year was not out. Ah! her firsthusbandmy son Languishwould not have carried it thus. Wellthat was my choicethis is hers; she is matched now with a witness--I shall be maddear friend; is there no comfort for me? Must Ilive to be confiscated at this rebel-rate? Here come two more of myEgyptian plagues too.
[To them] MRS. MILLAMANTSIR WILFULL.
SIR WIL. Auntyour servant.
LADY. Outcaterpillarcall not me aunt; I know thee not.
SIR WIL. I confess I have been a little in disguiseas they say.'Sheart! and I'm sorry for't. What would you have? I hope Icommitted no offenceaunt--and if I did I am willing to makesatisfaction; and what can a man say fairer? If I have brokeanything I'll pay for'tan it cost a pound. And so let thatcontent for what's pastand make no more words. For what's tocometo pleasure you I'm willing to marry my cousin. Sopraylet's all be friendsshe and I are agreed upon the matter before awitness.
LADY. How's thisdear niece? Have I any comfort? Can this betrue?
MILLA. I am content to be a sacrifice to your reposemadamand toconvince you that I had no hand in the plotas you weremisinformed. I have laid my commands on Mirabell to come in personand be a witness that I give my hand to this flower of knighthood;and for the contract that passed between Mirabell and meI haveobliged him to make a resignation of it in your ladyship's presence.He is without and waits your leave for admittance.
LADY. WellI'll swear I am something revived at this testimony ofyour obedience; but I cannot admit that traitor--I fear I cannotfortify myself to support his appearance. He is as terrible to meas a Gorgon: if I see him I swear I shall turn to stonepetrifyincessantly.
MILLA. If you disoblige him he may resent your refusaland insistupon the contract still. Then 'tis the last time he will beoffensive to you.
LADY. Are you sure it will be the last time? If I were sure ofthat--shall I never see him again?
MILLA. Sir Wilfullyou and he are to travel togetherare you not?
SIR WIL. 'Sheartthe gentleman's a civil gentlemanauntlet himcome in; whywe are sworn brothers and fellow-travellers. We areto be Pylades and Oresteshe and I. He is to be my interpreter inforeign parts. He has been overseas once already; and with provisothat I marry my cousinwill cross 'em once againonly to bear mecompany. 'SheartI'll call him in--an I set on't oncehe shallcome in; and see who'll hinder him. [Goes to the door and hems.]
MRS. MAR. This is precious foolingif it would pass; but I'll knowthe bottom of it.
LADY. O dear Marwoodyou are not going?
MRS. MAR. Not farmadam; I'll return immediately.
LADY WISHFORTMRS. MILLAMANTSIR WILFULLMIRABELL.
SIR WIL. Look upmanI'll stand by you; 'sbudan she do frownshe can't kill you. Besides--harkeeshe dare not frowndesperatelybecause her face is none of her own. 'Sheartan sheshouldher forehead would wrinkle like the coat of a cream cheese;but mum for thatfellow-traveller.
MIRA. If a deep sense of the many injuries I have offered to sogood a ladywith a sincere remorse and a hearty contritioncan butobtain the least glance of compassion. I am too happy. Ahmadamthere was a time--but let it be forgotten. I confess I havedeservedly forfeited the high place I once heldof sighing at yourfeet; naykill me not by turning from me in disdainI come not toplead for favour. Naynot for pardon: I am a suppliant only forpity:- I am going where I never shall behold you more.
SIR WIL. Howfellow-traveller? You shall go by yourself then.
MIRA. Let me be pitied firstand afterwards forgotten. I ask nomore.
SIR WIL. By'r ladya very reasonable requestand will cost younothingaunt. Comecomeforgive and forgetaunt. Why you mustan you are a Christian.
MIRA. Considermadam; in reality you could not receive muchprejudice: it was an innocent devicethough I confess it had aface of guiltiness--it was at most an artifice which love contrived--and errors which love produces have ever been accounted venial. Atleast think it is punishment enough that I have lost what in myheart I hold most dearthat to your cruel indignation I haveoffered up this beautyand with her my peace and quiet; nayall myhopes of future comfort.
SIR WIL. An he does not move mewould I may never be o' thequorum. An it were not as good a deed as to drinkto give her tohim againI would I might never take shipping. Auntif you don'tforgive quicklyI shall meltI can tell you that. My contractwent no farther than a little mouth-glueand that's hardly dry; onedoleful sigh more from my fellow-traveller and 'tis dissolved.
LADY. Wellnephewupon your account. Ahhe has a falseinsinuating tongue. WellsirI will stifle my just resentment atmy nephew's request. I will endeavour what I can to forgetbut onproviso that you resign the contract with my niece immediately.
MIRA. It is in writing and with papers of concern; but I have sentmy servant for itand will deliver it to youwith allacknowledgments for your transcendent goodness.
LADY. Ohhe has witchcraft in his eyes and tongue; when I did notsee him I could have bribed a villain to his assassination; but hisappearance rakes the embers which have so long lain smothered in mybreast. [Aside.]
[To them] FAINALLMRS. MARWOOD.
FAIN. Your date of deliberationmadamis expired. Here is theinstrument; are you prepared to sign?
LADY. If I were preparedI am not impowered. My niece exerts alawful claimhaving matched herself by my direction to Sir Wilfull.
FAIN. That sham is too gross to pass on methough 'tis imposed onyoumadam.
MILLA. SirI have given my consent.
MIRA. AndsirI have resigned my pretensions.
SIR WIL. AndsirI assert my right; and will maintain it indefiance of yousirand of your instrument. 'Sheartan you talkof an instrument sirI have an old fox by my thigh shall hack yourinstrument of ram vellum to shredssir. It shall not be sufficientfor a Mittimus or a tailor's measure; therefore withdraw yourinstrumentsirorby'r ladyI shall draw mine.
MILLA. Good Sir Wilfullrespite your valour.
FAIN. Indeed? Are you provided of your guardwith your singlebeef-eater there? But I'm prepared for youand insist upon myfirst proposal. You shall submit your own estate to my managementand absolutely make over my wife's to my sole useas pursuant tothe purport and tenor of this other covenant. I supposemadamyour consent is not requisite in this case; norMr. Mirabellyourresignation; norSir Wilfullyour right. You may draw your fox ifyou pleasesirand make a bear-garden flourish somewhere else; forhere it will not avail. Thismy Lady Wishfortmust be subscribedor your darling daughter's turned adriftlike a leaky hulk to sinkor swimas she and the current of this lewd town can agree.
LADY. Is there no meansno remedyto stop my ruin? Ungratefulwretch! Dost thou not owe thy beingthy subsistanceto mydaughter's fortune?
FAIN. I'll answer you when I have the rest of it in my possession.
MIRA. But that you would not accept of a remedy from my hands--Iown I have not deserved you should owe any obligation to me; orelseperhapsI could devise -
LADY. Ohwhat? what? To save me and my child from ruinfromwantI'll forgive all that's past; nayI'll consent to anything tocometo be delivered from this tyranny.
MIRA. Aymadam; but that is too latemy reward is intercepted.You have disposed of her who only could have made me a compensationfor all my services. But be it as it mayI am resolved I'll serveyou; you shall not be wronged in this savage manner.
LADY. How? Dear Mr. Mirabellcan you be so generous at last? Butit is not possible. HarkeeI'll break my nephew's match; you shallhave my niece yetand all her fortuneif you can but save me fromthis imminent danger.
MIRA. Will you? I take you at your word. I ask no more. I musthave leave for two criminals to appear.
MIRA. Foible is oneand a penitent.
[To them] MRS. FAINALLFOIBLEMINCING.
MRS. MAR. O my shame! [MIRABELL and LADY go to MRS. FAINALL andFOIBLE.] These currupt things are brought hither to expose me. [ToFAINALL.]
FAIN. If it must all come outwhy let 'em know it'tis but theway of the world. That shall not urge me to relinquish or abate onetittle of my terms; noI will insist the more.
FOIB. Yesindeedmadam; I'll take my bible-oath of it.
MINC. And so will Imem.
LADY. O MarwoodMarwoodart thou false? My friend deceive me?Hast thou been a wicked accomplice with that profligate man?
MRS. MAR. Have you so much ingratitude and injustice to givecreditagainst your friendto the aspersions of two such mercenarytrulls?
MINC. Mercenarymem? I scorn your words. 'Tis true we found youand Mr. Fainall in the blue garret; by the same tokenyou swore usto secrecy upon Messalinas's poems. Mercenary? Noif we wouldhave been mercenarywe should have held our tongues; you would havebribed us sufficiently.
FAIN. Goyou are an insignificant thing. Wellwhat are you thebetter for this? Is this Mr. Mirabell's expedient? I'll be put offno longer. Youthingthat was a wifeshall smart for this. Iwill not leave thee wherewithal to hide thy shame: your body shallbe naked as your reputation.
MRS. FAIN. I despise you and defy your malice. You have aspersedme wrongfully--I have proved your falsehood. Goyou and yourtreacherous--I will not name itbut starve together. Perish.
FAIN. Not while you are worth a groatindeedmy dear. MadamI'll be fooled no longer.
LADY. AhMr. Mirabellthis is small comfortthe detection ofthis affair.
MIRA. Ohin good time. Your leave for the other offender andpenitent to appearmadam.
[To them] WAITWELL with a box of writings.
LADY. O Sir Rowland! Wellrascal?
WAIT. What your ladyship pleases. I have brought the black box atlastmadam.
MIRA. Give it me. Madamyou remember your promise.
LADY. Aydear sir.
MIRA. Where are the gentlemen?
WAIT. At handsirrubbing their eyes--just risen from sleep.
FAIN. 'Sdeathwhat's this to me? I'll not wait your privateconcerns.
[To them] PETULANTWITWOUD.
PET. How now? What's the matter? Whose hand's out?
WIT. Hey day! Whatare you all got togetherlike players at theend of the last act?
MIRA. You may remembergentlemenI once requested your hands aswitnesses to a certain parchment.
WIT. AyI domy hand I remember--Petulant set his mark.
MIRA. You wrong him; his name is fairly writtenas shall appear.You do not remembergentlemenanything of what that parchmentcontained? [Undoing the box.]
PET. Not I. I writ; I read nothing.
MIRA. Very wellnow you shall know. Madamyour promise.
LADY. Ayaysirupon my honour.
MIRA. Mr. Fainallit is now time that you should know that yourladywhile she was at her own disposaland before you had by yourinsinuations wheedled her out of a pretended settlement of thegreatest part of her fortune -
FAIN. Sir! Pretended?
MIRA. Yessir. I say that this ladywhile a widowhavingitseemsreceived some cautions respecting your inconstancy andtyranny of temperwhich from her own partial opinion and fondnessof you she could never have suspected--she didI sayby thewholesome advice of friends and of sages learned in the laws of thislanddeliver this same as her act and deed to me in trustand tothe uses within mentioned. You may read if you please [holding outthe parchment]though perhaps what is written on the back may serveyour occasions.
FAIN. Very likelysir. What's here? Damnation! [Reads] A DEEDOF CONVEYANCE OF THE WHOLE ESTATE REAL OF ARABELLA LANGUISHWIDOWIN TRUST TO EDWARD MIRABELL. Confusion!
MIRA. Even sosir: 'tis the way of the worldsir; of the widowsof the world. I suppose this deed may bear an elder date than whatyou have obtained from your lady.
FAIN. Perfidious fiend! Then thus I'll be revenged. [Offers torun at MRS. FAINALL.]
SIR WIL. Holdsir; now you may make your bear-garden flourishsomewhere elsesir.
FAIN. Mirabellyou shall hear of thissir; be sure you shall.Let me passoaf.
MRS. FAIN. Madamyou seem to stifle your resentment. You hadbetter give it vent.
MRS. MAR. Yesit shall have ventand to your confusionor I'llperish in the attempt.
SCENE the Last.
LADY WISHFORTMRS. MILLAMANTMIRABELLMRS. FAINALLSIR WILFULLPETULANTWITWOUDFOIBLEMINCINGWAITWELL.
LADY. O daughterdaughter'tis plain thou hast inherited thymother's prudence.
MRS. FAIN. Thank Mr. Mirabella cautious friendto whose adviceall is owing.
LADY. WellMr. Mirabellyou have kept your promiseand I mustperform mine. FirstI pardon for your sake Sir Rowland there andFoible. The next thing is to break the matter to my nephewand howto do that -
MIRA. For thatmadamgive yourself no trouble; let me have yourconsent. Sir Wilfull is my friend: he has had compassion uponloversand generously engaged a volunteer in this actionfor ourserviceand now designs to prosecute his travels.
SIR WIL. 'SheartauntI have no mind to marry. My cousin's afine ladyand the gentleman loves her and she loves himand theydeserve one another; my resolution is to see foreign parts. I haveset on'tand when I'm set on't I must do't. And if these twogentlemen would travel tooI think they may be spared.
PET. For my partI say little. I think things are best off or on.
WIT. I'gadI understand nothing of the matter: I'm in a maze yetlike a dog in a dancing school.
LADY. Wellsirtake herand with her all the joy I can give you.
MILLA. Why does not the man take me? Would you have me give myselfto you over again?
MIRA. Ayand over and over again. [Kisses her hand.] I wouldhave you as often as possibly I can. Wellheav'n grant I love younot too well; that's all my fear.
SIR WIL. 'Sheartyou'll have time enough to toy after you'remarriedorif you will toy nowlet us have a dance in themeantime; that we who are not lovers may have some other employmentbesides looking on.
MIRA. With all my heartdear Sir Wilfull. What shall we do formusic?
FOIB. Ohsirsome that were provided for Sir Rowland'sentertainment are yet within call. [A dance.]
LADY. As I am a personI can hold out no longer: I have wasted myspirits so to-day already that I am ready to sink under the fatigue;and I cannot but have some fears upon me yetthat my son Fainallwill pursue some desperate course.
MIRA. Madamdisquiet not yourself on that account: to myknowledge his circumstances are such he must of force comply. Formy part I will contribute all that in me lies to a reunion. In themeantimemadam [to MRS. FAINALL]let me before these witnessesrestore to you this deed of trust: it may be a meanswell managedto make you live easily together.
From hence let those be warnedwho mean to wedLest mutual falsehood stain the bridal-bed:For each deceiver to his cost may findThat marriage frauds too oft are paid in kind.
EPILOGUE--Spoken by Mrs. Bracegirdle.
After our Epilogue this crowd dismisses
I'm thinking how this play'll be pulled to pieces.
But pray considere'er you doom its fall
How hard a thing 'twould be to please you all.
There are some critics so with spleen diseased
They scarcely come inclining to be pleased:
And sure he must have more than mortal skill
Who pleases anyone against his will.
Thenall bad poets we are sure are foes
And how their number's swelled the town well knows
In shoalsI've marked 'em judging in the pit;
Though they're on no pretence for judgment fit
But that they have been damned for want of wit.
Since whentheyby their own offences taught
Set up for spies on playsand finding fault.
Others there are whose malice we'd prevent:
Suchwho watch playswith scurrilous intent
To mark out who by characters are meant:
And though no perfect likeness they can trace
Yet each pretends to know the copied face.
Thesewith false glossesfeed their own ill-nature
And turn to libel what was meant a satire.
May such malicious fops this fortune find
To think themselves alone the fools designed:
If any are so arrogantly vain
To think they singly can support a scene
And furnish fool enough to entertain.
For well the learned and the judicious know
That satire scorns to stoop so meanly low
As any one abstracted fop to show.
Foras when painters form a matchless face
They from each fair one catch some diff'rent grace
And shining features in one portrait blend
To which no single beauty must pretend:
So poets oft do in one piece expose
Whole BELLES ASSEMBLEES of coquettes and beaux.