Mirabell and Fainall, rising from cards; Betty waiting.
1You are a fortunate man, Mr. Fainall.
3What you please. I’ll play on to entertain you.
4No, I’ll give you your revenge another time, when you are
5not so indifferent; you are thinking of something else now,
6and play too negligently. The coldness of a losing gamester
7lessens the pleasure of the winner. I’d no more play with a
8man that slighted his ill fortune than I’d make love to a
9woman who undervalued the loss of her reputation.
10You have a taste extremely delicate and are for refining on
12Prithee, why so reserved? Something has put you out of
14Not at all; I happen to be grave today, and you are gay;
16Confess, Millamant and you quarreled last night, after I
17left you; my fair cousin has some humors that would tempt
18the patience of a stoic. What, some coxcomb came in, and
19was well received by her, while you were by.
20Witwoud and Petulant, and what was worse, her aunt, your
21wife’s mother, my evil genius; or to sum up all in her own
22name, my old Lady Wishfort came in.
23Oh, there it is then! She has a lasting passion for you, and
24with reason. What, then my wife was there?
25Yes, and Mrs. Marwood and three or four more, whom I
26never saw before. Seeing me, they all put on their grave
27faces, whispered one another; then complained aloud of the
28vapors, and after fell into a profound silence.
29They had a mind to be rid of you.
30For which reason I resolved not to stir. At last the good old
31lady broke through her painful taciturnity, with an invective
32against long visits. I would not have understood her, but
33Millamant joining in the argument, I rose and with a con-
34strained smile told her, I though nothing was so easy as to
35know when a visit began to be troublesome. She reddened
36and I withdrew, without expecting her reply.
37You were to blame to resent what she spoke only in com-
38pliance with her aunt.
39She is more mistress of herself than to be under the
40necessity of such a resignation.
41What? though half her fortune depends upon her marrying
42with my lady’s approbation?
43I was then in such a humor, that I should have been better
44pleased if she had been less discreet.
45Now I remember, I wonder not they were weary of you.
46Last night was one of their cabal-nights; they have ’em three
47times a week, and meet by turns, at one another’s apart-
48ments, where they come together like the coroner’s inquest,
49to sit upon the murdered reputation of the week. You and
50I are excluded; and it was once proposed that all the male
51sex should be excepted; but somebody moved that, to
52avoid scandal, there might be one man of the community;
53upon which motion Witwoud and Petulant were enrolled
55And who may have been the foundress of this sect? My
56Lady Wishfort, I warrant, who published her detestation
57of mankind, and full of the vigor of fifty-five, declares for
58a friend and ratafia; and let posterity shift for itself, she’ll
59breed no more.
60The discovery of your sham addresses to her, to conceal
61your love to her niece, has provoked this separation. Had
62you dissembled better, things might have continued in the
63state of nature.
64I did as much as man could, with any reasonable con-
65science. I proceeded to the very last act of flattery with her,
66and was guilty of a song in her commendation. Nay, I got
67a friend to put her into a lampoon, and compliment her
68with the imputation of an affair with a young fellow, which
69I carried so far, that I told her the malicious town took
70notice that she was grown fat of a sudden; and when she lay
71in of a dropsy, persuaded her she was reported to be in
72labor. The devil’s in’t, if an old woman is to be flattered
73further, unless a man should endeavor downright personally
74to debauch her; and that my virtue forbade me. But for the
75discovery of that amour, I am indebted to your friend, or
76your wife’s friend, Mrs. Marwood.
77What should provoke her to be your enemy, unless she has
78made you advances, which you have slighted? Women do
79not easily forgive omissions of that nature.
80She was always civil to me, till of late. I confess I am not
81one of those coxcombs who are apt to interpret a woman’s
82good manners to her prejudice, and think that she who does
83not refuse ’em everything can refuse ’em nothing.
84You are a gallant man, Mirabell; and though you may
85have cruelty enough not to satisfy a lady’s longing, you have
86too much generosity not to be tender of her honor. Yet you
87speak with an indifference which seems to be affected, and
88confesses you are conscious of a negligence.
89You pursue the argument with a distrust that seems to be
90unaffected, and confesses you are conscious of a concern for
91which the lady is more indebted to you than your wife.
92Fie, fie, friend! If you grow censorious, I must leave you.
93I’ll look upon the gamesters in the next room.
94Who are they?
95Petulant and Witwoud.
[To Betty.] Bring me some
97Betty, what says your clock?
98Turned of the last canonical hour, sir.
99How pertinently the jade answers me!
(Looking on his watch.)
100Ha? almost one o’clock! Oh, y’are come!
Enter a Servant.
101Well, is the grand affair over? You have been something
103Sir, there’s such coupling at Pancras, that they stand behind
104one another, as ’twere in a county dance. Ours was the
105last couple to lead up; and no hopes appearing of dispatch,
106besides the parson growing hoarse, we were afraid his lungs
107would have failed before it came to our turn; so we drove
108round to Duke’s Place, and there they were riveted in a
110So, so, you are sure they are married.
111Married and bedded, sir; I am witness.
112Have you the certificate?
113Here it is, sir.
114Has the tailor brought Waitwell’s clothes home, and the
117That’s well. Do you go home again, d’ye hear, and adjourn
118the consummation till father order; bid Waitwell shake his
119ears, and Dame Partlet rustle up her feathers, and meet me at
120one o’clock by Rosamond’s Pond, that I may see her before
121she returns to her lady; and as you tender your ears, be
Re-enter Fainall [and Betty].
123Joy of your success, Mirabell; you look pleased.
124Aye, I have been engaged in a matter of some sort of mirth,
125which is not yet ripe for discovery. I am glad this is not a
126cabal-night. I wonder, Fainall, that you who are married,
127and of consequence should be discreet, will suffer your wife
128to be of such a party.
129Faith, I am not jealous. Besides, most who are engaged are
130women and relations; and for the men, they are of a kind
131too contemptible to give scandal.
132I am of another opinion. The greater the coxcomb, always
133the more scandal; for a woman who is not a fool can have
134but one reason for associating with a man that is.
135Are you jealous as often as you see Witwoud entertained by
137Of her understanding I am, if not of her person.
138You do her wrong; for, to give her her due, she has wit.
139She has beauty enough to make any man think so, and com-
140plaisance enough not to contradict him who shall tell her so.
141For a passionate lover, methinks you are a man somewhat
142too discerning in the failings of your mistress.
143And for a discerning man, somewhat too passionate a lover;
144for I like her with all her faults; nay, like her for her faults.
145Her follies are so natural, or so artful, that they become her;
146and those affectations which in another woman would be
147odious, serve but to make her more agreeable. I’ll tell thee,
148Fainall, she once used me with that insolence, that in
149revenge I took her to pieces; sifted her and separated her
150failings; I studied ’em, and got ’em by rote. The catalogue
151was so large that I was not without hopes one day or other
152to hate her heartily: to which end I so used myself to think
153of ’em that at length, contrary to my design and expectation,
154they gave me every hour less and less disturbance; till in a
155few days it became habitual to me to remember ’em without
156being displeased. They are now grown as familiar to me as
157my own frailties; and in all probability, in a little time
158longer I shall like ’em as well.
159Marry her, marry her! Be half as well acquainted with
160her charms as you are with her defects, and my life on’t, you
161are your own man again.
163Aye, aye, I have experience: I have a wife, and so forth.
164Is one Squire Witwoud here?
165Yes; what’s your business?
166I have a letter for him, from his brother Sir Wilfull, which
167I am charged to deliver into his own hands.
168He’s in the next room, friend; that way.
169What, is the chief of that noble family in town, Sir Wilfull
171He is expected today. Do you know him?
172I have seen him. He promises to be an extraordinary
173person; I think you have the honor to be related to him.
174Yes, he is half brother to this Witwoud by a former wife,
175who was sister to my Lady Wishfort, my wife’s mother. If
176you marry Millamant, you must call cousins too.
177I had rather be his relation than his acquaintance.
178He comes to town in order to equip himself for travel.
179For travel! Why the man I mean is above forty.
180No matter for that; ’tis for the honor of England that all
181Europe should know we have blockheads of all ages.
182I wonder there is not an act of parliament to save the
183credit of the nation, and prohibit the exportation of fools.
184By no means; ’tis better as ’tis. ’tis better to trade with a
185little loss, than to be quite eaten up with being over-
187Pray, are the follies of this knight-errant and those of the
188squire his brother anything related?
189Not at all; Witwoud grows by the knight, like a medlar
190grafted on a crab. One will melt in your mouth, and t’other
191set your teeth on edge; one is all pulp, and the other all core.
192So one will be rotten before he be ripe, and the other will be
193rotten without ever being ripe at all.
194Sir Wilfull is an odd mixture of bashfulness and obstinacy.
195But when he’s drunk, he’s as loving as the monster in The
196Tempest, and much after the same manner. To give t’other
197his due, he has something of good nature and does not always
199Not always; but as often as his memory fails him, and his
200commonplace of comparison. He is a fool with a good
201memory and some few scraps of other folks’ wit. He is one
202whose conversation can never be approved, yet it is now
203and then to be endured. He has indeed one good quality, he
204is not exceptious; for he so passionately affects the reputation
205of understanding raillery, that he will construe an affront
206into a jest, and call downright rudeness and ill language
207satire and fire.
208If you have a mind to finish his picture, you have an opportunity
209to do it full length. Behold the original!
210Afford me your compassion, my dears! Pity me, Fainall!
211Mirabell, pity me!
212I do from my soul.
213Why, what’s the matter?
214No letters for me, Betty?
215Did not the messenger bring you one but now, sir?
216Aye, but no other?
218That’s hard, that’s very hard. A messenger, a mule, a beast
219of burden! He has brought me a letter from the fool my
220brother, as heavy as a panegyric in a funeral sermon, or a
221copy of commendatory verses from one poet to another.
222And what’s worse, ’tis as sure a forerunner of the author as
223an epistle dedicatory.
224A fool, and your brother Witwoud!
225Aye, aye, my half brother. My half brother he is, no nearer
227Then ’tis possible he may be but half a fool.
228Good, good, Mirabell, le drôle! Good, good; hang him,
229don’t let’s talk of him. Fainall, how does your lady? Gad, I
230say anything in the world to get this fellow out of my head.
231I beg pardon that I should ask a man of pleasure, and the
232town, a question at once so foreign and domestic. But I talk
233like an old maid at a marriage, I don’t know what I say; but
234she’s the best woman in the world.
235’Tis well you don’t know what you say, or else your
236commendation would go near to make me either vain or
238No man in town lives well with a wife but Fainall. Your
240You had better step and ask his wife, if you would be
244My dear, I ask ten thousand pardons. Gad, I have forgot
245what I was going to say to you!
246I thank you heartily, heartily.
247No, but prithee excuse me: my memory is such a memory.
248Have a care of such apologies, Witwoud; for I never knew
249a fool but he affected to complain, either of the spleen or his
251What have you done with Petulant?
252He’s reckoning his money, my money it was. I have no
254You may allow him to win of you at play, for you are sure
255to be too hard for him at repartee; since you monopolize the
256wit that is between you, the fortune must be his of course.
257I don’t find that Petulant confesses the superiority of wit
258to be your talent, Witwoud.
259Come, come, you are malicious now, and would breed
260debates. Petulant’s my friend, and a very honest fellow, and
261a very pretty fellow, and has a smattering—faith and troth,
262a pretty deal of an odd sort of a small wit: nay, I’ll do him
263justice. I’m his friend, I won’t wrong him neither. And if
264he had but any judgment in the world, he would not be
265altogether contemptible. Come, come, don’t detract from
266the merits of my friend.
267You don’t take your friend to be over-nicely bred?
268No, no, hang him, the rogue has no manners at all, that
269I must own. No more breeding than a bum-baily, that I
270grant you. ’Tis pity, faith; the fellow has fire and life.
272Hum, faith, I don’t know as to that, I can’t say as to that.
273Yes, faith, in a controversy he’ll contradict anybody.
274Though ’twere a man whom he feared, or a woman whom
276Well, well, he does not always think before he speaks; we
277have all our failing. You’re too hard upon him, you are,
278faith. Let me excuse him. I can defend most of his faults,
279except one or two. One he has, that’s the truth on’t; if he
280were my brother, I could not acquit him. That, indeed, I
281could wish were otherwise.
282Aye, marry, what’s that, Witwoud?
283Oh, pardon me! Expose the infirmities of my friend! No, my
284dear, excuse me there.
285What, I warrant he’s unsincere, or ’tis some such trifle.
286No, no, what if he be? ’Tis no matter for that, his wit will
287excuse that. A wit should no more be sincere than a
288woman constant; one argues a decay of parts, as t’other of
290Maybe you think him too positive?
291No, no, his being positive is an incentive to argument, and
292keeps up conversation.
294That! that’s his happiness; his want of learning gives him
295the more opportunities to show his natural parts.
296He wants words?
297Aye, but I like him for that now; for his want of words
298gives me the pleasure very often to explain his meaning.
300No, that’s not it.
303What! he speaks unseasonable truths sometimes, because he
304has not wit enough to invent an evasion?
305Truths! ha! ha! ha! No, no, since you will have it, I mean he
306never speaks truth at all, that’s all. He will lie like a chamber-
307maid, or a woman of quality’s porter. Now that is a fault.
308Is Master Petulant here, mistress?
310Three gentlewomen in the coach would speak with him.
311Oh brave Petulant! Three!
313You must bring two dishes of chocolate and a glass of
[Exeunt Betty and Coachman.]
315That should be for two fasting strumpets, and a bawd
316troubled with wind. Now you may know what the three
318You are very free with your friend’s acquaintance.
319Aye, aye, friendship without freedom is as dull as love
320without enjoyment, or wine without toasting; but to tell
321you a secret, these are trulls that he allows coach-hire,
322and something more, by the week, to call on him once a day
323at public places.
325You shall see he won’t go to ’em because there’s no more
326company here to take notice of him. Why, this is nothing to
327what he used to do: before he found out this way, I have
328know him call for himself.
329Call for himself? What dost thou mean?
330Mean! Why, he would slip you out of this chocolate-house,
331just when you had been talking to him. As soon as your
332back was turned, whip, he was gone! Then trip to his lodging,
333clap on a hood and scarf, and mask, slap into a hackney-
334coach, and drive hither to the door again in a trice, where
335he would send in for himself; that I mean, call for himself,
336wait for himself; nay, and what’s more, not finding himself,
337sometimes leave a letter for himself.
338I confess this is something extraordinary. I believe he waits
339for himself now, he is so long a-coming. Oh! I ask his pardon.
Enter Petulant [and Betty].
340Sir, the coach stays.
341Well, well; I come. ’Sbud, a man had as good be a professed
342midwife as a professed whoremaster, at this rate! To be
343knocked up and raised at all hours, and in all places! Pox
344on ’em, I won’t come! D’ye hear, tell ’em I won’t come.
345Let ’em snivel and cry their hearts out.
346You are very cruel, Petulant.
347All’s one, let it pass. I have a humor to be cruel.
348I hope they are not persons of condition that you use at this
350Condition! Condition’s a dried fig, if I am not in humor!
351By this hand, if they were your—a—a—your what-d’ye-call-’ems
352themselves, they must wait or rub off, if I want
354What-d’ye-call-’ems! What are they, Witwoud?
355Empresses, my dear; by your what-d’ye-call-’ems he means
358Cry you mercy.
359Witwoud says they are—
360What does he say th’are?
361I? Fine ladies, I say.
362Pass on, Witwoud. Harkee, by this light his relations: two
363co-heiresses his cousins, and an old aunt, that loves caterwauling
364better than a conventicle.
365Ha! ha! ha! I had a mind to see how the rogue would
366come off. Ha! ha! ha! Gad, I can’t be angry with him, if he
367had said they were my mother and my sisters.
369No; the rogue’s wit and readiness of invention charm me.
371They are gone, sir, in great anger.
372Enough, let ’em trundle. Anger helps complexion, saves
374This continence is all dissembled; this is in order to have
375something to brag of the next time he makes court to
376Millamant, and swear he has abandoned the whole sex
377for her sake.
378Have you not left off your imprudent pretensions there
379yet? I shall cut your throat some time or other, Petulant,
380about that business.
381Aye, aye, let that pass. There are other throats to be cut.
382Meaning mine, sir?
383Not I. I mean nobody; I know nothing. But there are
384uncles and nephews in the world, and they may be rivals.
385What then? All’s one for that.
386How! Harkee Petulant, come hither. Explain, or I shall
387call your interpreter.
388Explain! I know nothing. Why, you have an uncle, have you
389not, lately come to town, and lodges by my Lady Wishfort’s?
391Why, that’s enough. You and he are not friends; and if he
392should marry and have a child, you may be disinherited,
394Where hast thou stumbled upon all this truth?
395All’s one for that; why, then say I know something.
396Come, thou art an honest fellow, Petulant, and shalt make
397love to my mistress, thou sha’t, faith. What hast thou heard
398of my uncle?
399I? Nothing I. If throats are to be cut, let swords clash!
400Snug’s the word; I shrug and am silent.
401Oh, raillery, raillery! Come, I know thou art in the
402women’s secrets. What, you’re a cabalist; I know you stayed
403at Millamant’s last night, after I went. Was there any
404mention made of my uncle or me? Tell me. If thou hadst
405but good nature equal to thy wit, Petulant, Tony Witwoud,
406who is now thy competitor in fame, would show as dim by
407thee as a dead whiting’s eye by a pearl of orient; he would
408no more be seen by thee than Mercury is by the sun. Come,
409I’m sure thou wo’t tell me.
410If I do, will you grant me common sense then for the
412Faith, I’ll do what I can for thee; and I’ll pray that Heaven
413may grant it thee in the meantime.
[Mirabell and Petulant talk apart.]
415Petulant and you both will find Mirabell as warm a rival as
417Pshaw! pshaw! That she laughs at Petulant is plain. And for
418my part, but that it is almost a fashion to admire her, I
419should—harkee, to tell you a secret, but let it go no further;
420between friends, I shall never break my heart for her.
422She’s handsome; but she’s a sort of an uncertain woman.
423I thought you had died for her.
426’Tis what she will hardly allow anybody else. Now, demme,
427I should hate that, if she were as handsome as Cleopatra.
428Mirabell is not so sure of her as he thinks for.
429Why do you think so?
430We stayed pretty late there last night, and heard something
431of an uncle to Mirabell, who is lately come to town, and
432is between him and the best part of his estate. Mirabell and
433he are at some distance, as my Lady Wishfort has been told;
434and you know she hates Mirabell worse than a Quaker hates
435a parrot, or than a fishmonger hates a hard frost. Whether
436this uncle has seen Mrs. Millamant or not, I cannot say;
437but there were items of such a treaty being in embryo, and
438if it should come to life, poor Mirabell would be in some
439sort unfortunately fobbed, i’faith.
440’Tis impossible Millamant should hearken to it.
441Faith, my dear, I can’t tell; she’s a woman and a kind of a
443And is this the sum of what you could collect last night?
444The quintessence. Maybe Witwoud knows more; he stayed
445longer. Besides, they never mind him; they say anything
447I thought you had been the greatest favorite.
448Aye, tête à tête, but not in public, because I make remarks.
450Aye, aye, pox, I’m malicious, man! Now he’s soft, you
451know, they are not in awe of him. The fellow’s well-bred,
452he’s what you call a —what-d’ye-call-’em, a fine gentleman,
453but he’s silly withal.
454I thank you. I know as much as my curiosity requires.
455Fainall, are you for the Mall?
456Aye, I’ll take a turn before dinner.
457Aye, we’ll all walk in the park; the ladies talked of being
459I thought you were obligated to watch for your brother Sir
461No, no, he comes to his aunt’s, my Lady Wishfort. Pox on
462him! I shall be troubled with him too; what shall I do with
464Beg him for his estate, that I may beg you afterwards; and so
465have but one trouble with you both.
466Oh, rare Petulant! Thou art as quick as a fire in a frosty
467morning; thou shalt to the Mall with us, and we’ll be
469Enough, I’m in a humor to be severe.
470Are you? Pray then walk by yourselves. Let not us be
471accessory to your putting the ladies out of countenance with
472your senseless ribaldry, which you roar out aloud as often as
473they pass by you; and when you have made a handsome
474woman blush, then you think you have been severe.
475What, what? Then let ’em show their innocence by not
476understanding what they hear, or else show their discretion
477by not hearing what they would not be thought to under-
479But hast not thou then sense enough to know that thou
480ought’st to be most ashamed thyself, when thou hast put
481another out of countenance?
482Not I, by this hand! I always take blushing either for a sign
483of guilt or ill-breeding.
484I confess you ought to think so. You are in the right, that
485you may plead the error of your judgment in defense of your
487Where modesty’s ill manners, ’tis but fit
488That imprudence and malice pass for wit.
St. James’s Park.
Enter Mrs. Fainall and Mrs. Marwood.
1Aye, aye, dear Marwood, if we will be happy, we must
2find the means in ourselves, and among ourselves. Men
3are ever in extremes, either doting or averse. While they are
4lovers, if they have fire and sense, their jealousies are insupportable.
5And when they cease to love (we ought to
6think at least) they loathe; they look upon us with horror
7and distaste; they meet us like the ghosts of what we were,
8and as such, fly from us.
9True, ’tis an unhappy circumstance of life, that love should
10ever die before us; and that the man so often should outlive
11the lover. But say what you will, ’tis better to be left than
12never to have been loved. To pass our youth in dull indifference,
13to refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave
14us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old,
15because we one day must be old. For my part, my youth
16may wear and waste, but it shall never rust in my possession.
17Then it seems you dissemble an aversion to mankind, only
18in compliance with my mother’s humor.
19Certainly. To be free, I have no taste of those insipid dry
20discourses with which our sex of force must entertain them-
21selves, apart from men. We may affect endearments to each
22other, profess eternal friendships, and seem to dote like
23lovers; but ’tis not in our natures long to persevere. Love will
24resume his empire in our breasts; and every heart, or soon or
25late, receive and readmit him as its lawful tyrant.
26Bless me, how have I been deceived! Why you profess a
28You see my friendship by my freedom. Come, be as sincere,
29acknowledge that your sentiments agree with mine.
31You hate mankind?
34Most transcendently; aye, though I say it, meritoriously.
35Give me your hand upon it.
37I join with you; what I have said has been to try you.
38Is it possible? Dost thou hate those vipers, men?
39I have done hating ’em, and am now come to despise ’em;
40the next thing I have to do, is eternally to forget ’em.
41There spoke the spirit of an Amazon, a Penthesilea.
42And yet I am thinking sometimes to carry my aversion
45Faith, by marrying; if I could but find one that loved me
46very well and would be thoroughly sensible of ill usage, I
47think I should do myself the violence of undergoing the
49You would not make him a cuckold?
50No, but I’d make him believe I did, and that’s as bad.
51Why had not you as good do it?
52Oh, if he should ever discover it, he would then know the
53worst, and be out of his pain; but I would have him ever to
54continue upon the rack of fear and jealousy.
55Ingenious mischief! Would thou wert married to Mirabell.
56Would I were!
57You change color.
58Because I hate him.
59So do I; but I can hear him named. But what reason have
60you to hate him in particular?
61I never loved him; he is, and always was, insufferably
63By the reason you give for your aversion, one would think it
64dissembled; for you have laid a fault to his charge of which his
65enemies must acquit him.
66Oh, then it seems you are one of his favorable enemies!
67Methinks you look a little pale, and now you flush again.
68Do I? I think I am a little sick o’ the sudden.
69What ails you?
70My husband. Don’t you see him? He turned short upon me
71unawares, and has almost overcome me.
Enter Fainall and Mirabell.
72Ha! ha! ha! He comes opportunely for you.
73For you, for he has brought Mirabell with him.
76You don’t look well today, child.
77D’ye think so?
78He is the only man that does, madam.
79The only man that would tell me so at least; and the only
80man from whom I could hear it without mortification.
81Oh my dear, I am satisfied of your tenderness; I know you
82cannot resent anything from me, especially what is an effect
83of my concern.
84Mr. Mirabell, my mother interrupted you in a pleasant
85relation last night; I would fain hear it out.
86The persons concerned in that affair have yet a tolerable
87reputation. I am afraid Mr. Fainall will be censorious.
88He has a humor more prevailing than his curiosity, and
89will willingly dispense with the hearing of one scandalous
90story, to avoid giving an occasion to make another by
91being seen to walk with his wife. This way, Mr. Mirabell,
92and I dare promise you will oblige us both.
Exeunt Mrs.Fainall and Mirabell.
93Excellent creature! Well, sure if I should live to be rid of
94my wife, I should be a miserable man.
96For having only that one hope, the accomplishment of it, of
97consequence must put an end to all my hopes; and what a
98wretch is he who must survive his hopes! Nothing remains
99when that day comes, but to sit down and weep like Alexander,
100when he wanted other worlds to conquer.
101Will you not follow ’em?
102Faith, I think not.
103Pray let us; I have a reason.
104You are not jealous?
107If I am, is it inconsistent with my love to you that I am
108tender of your honor?
109You would intimate then, as if there were a fellow-feeling
110between my wife and him.
111I think she does not hate him to that degree she would be
113But he, I fear, is too insensible.
114It may be you are deceived.
115It may be so. I do now begin to apprehend it.
117That I have been deceived, madam, and you are false.
118That I am false! What mean you?
119To let you know I see through all your little arts. Come,
120you both love him; and both have equally dissembled your
121aversion. Your mutual jealousies of one another have made
122you clash till you have both struck fire. I have seen the warm
123confession reddening on your cheeks, and sparkling from
125You do me wrong.
126I do not. ’Twas for my ease to oversee and willfully neglect
127the gross advances made him by my wife; that by permitting
128her to be engaged, I might continue unsuspected in my
129pleasure, and take you oftener to my arms in full security.
130But could you think, because the nodding husband would
131not wake, that e’er the watchful lover slept?
132And wherewithal can you reproach me?
133With infidelity, with loving of another, with love of Mirabell.
134’Tis false. I challenge you to show an instance that can
135confirm your groundless accusation. I hate him.
136And wherefore do you hate him? He is insensible, and your
137resentment follows his neglect. An instance? The injuries
138you have done him are a proof, you interposing in his love.
139What cause had you to make discoveries of his pretended
140passion? To undeceive the credulous aunt, and be the
141officious obstacle of his match with Millamant?
142My obligations to my lady urged me; I had professed a
143friendship to her, and could not see her easy nature so
144abused by that dissembler.
145What, was it conscience then? Professed a friendship! Oh,
146the pious friendships of the female sex!
147More tender, more sincere, and more enduring, than all
148the vain and empty vows of men, whether professing love
149to us, or mutual faith to one another.
150Ha! ha! ha! you are my wife’s friend too.
151Shame and ingratitude! Do you reproach me? You, you
152upbraid me! Have I been false to her, though strict
153fidelity to you, and sacrificed my friendship to keep my love
154inviolate? And have you the baseness to charge me with the
155guilt, unmindful of the merit! To you it should be merito-
156rious, that I have been vicious; and do you reflect that
157guilt upon me, which should lie buried in your bosom?
158You misinterpret my reproof. I meant but to remind you of
159the slight account you once could make of strictest ties, when
160set in comparison with your love to me.
161’Tis false; you urged it with deliberate malice! ’Twas spoke
162in scorn, and I never will forgive it.
163Your guilt, not your resentment, begets your rage. If yet you
164loved, you could forgive a jealousy; but you are stung to find
165you are discovered.
166It shall be all discovered. You too shall be discovered; be
167sure you shall. I can but de exposed. If I do it myself, I
168shall prevent your baseness.
169Why, what will you do?
170Disclose it to your wife; own what has passed between us.
172By all my wrongs I’ll do’t? I’ll publish to the world the
173injuries you have done me, both in my fame and fortune!
174With both I trusted you, you bankrupt in honor, as indigent
176Your fame I have preserved. Your fortune has been bestowed
177as the prodigality of your love would have it, in
178pleasures which we both have shared. Yet had not you been
179false, I had ere this repaid it. ’Tis true, had you permitted
180Mirabell with Millamant to have stolen their marriage, my
181lady had been incensed beyond all means of reconcilement;
182Millamant had forfeited the moiety of her fortune, which
183then would have descended to my wife. And wherefore did
184I marry, but to make lawful prize of a rich widow’s wealth,
185and squander it on love and you?
186Deceit and frivolous pretense!
187Death, am I not married? What’s pretense? Am I not
188imprisoned, fettered? Have I not a wife? Nay a wife that
189was a window, a young widow, a handsome widow; and
190would be again a widow, but that I have a heart of proof,
191and something of a constitution to bustle through the ways of
192wedlock and this world. Will you yet be reconciled to truth
194Impossible. Truth and you are inconsistent. I hate you, and
195shall for ever.
196For loving you?
197I loathe the name of love after such usage; and next to the
198guilt with which you would asperse me, I scorn you most.
200Nay, we must not part thus.
201Let me go.
202Come, I’m sorry.
203I care not, let me go. Break my hands, do! I’d leave ’em
204to get loose.
205I would not hurt you for the world. Have I no other hold to
206keep you here?
207Well, I have deserved it all.
208You know I love you.
209Poor dissembling! Oh, that —Well, it is not yet—
210What? what is it not? What is it not yet? It is not yet too
212No, it is not yet too late; I have that comfort.
213It is, to love another.
214But not to loathe, detest, abhor mankind, myself, and the
215whole treacherous world.
216Nay, this is extravagance. Come, I ask your pardon. No
217tears. I was to blame; I could not love you and be easy in
218my doubts. Pray, forbear. I believe you. I’m convinced I’ve
219done you wrong; and any way, every way will make amends.
220I’ll hate my wife yet more, damn her! I’ll part with her, rob
221her of all she’s worth, and we’ll retire somewhere, anywhere,
222to another world. I’ll marry thee; be pacified. ’Sdeath, they
223come; hide your face, your tears. You have a mask; wear it
224a moment. This way, this way. Be persuaded.
Enter Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall.
225They are here yet.
226They are turning into the other walk.
227While I only hated my husband, I could bear to see him;
228but since I have despised him, he’s too offensive.
229Oh, you should hate with prudence.
230Yes, for I have loved with indiscretion.
231You should have just so much disgust for your husband as
232may be sufficient to make you relish your lover.
233You have been the cause that I hate loved without bounds,
234and would you set limits to that aversion of which you have
235been the occasion? Why did you make me marry this man?
236Why do we daily commit disagreeable and dangerous
237actions? To save that idol, reputation. If the familiarities
238of our loves had produced that consequence of which you
239were apprehensive, where could you have fixed a father’s
240name with credit, but on a husband? I knew Fainall to be a
241man lavish of his morals, an interested and professing friend,
242a false and a designing lover; yet one whose wit and outward
243fair behavior have gained a reputation with the town enough
244to make that woman stand excused who has suffered herself
245to be won by his addresses. A better man ought not to have
246been sacrificed to the occasion; a worse had not answered to
247the purpose. When you are weary of him, you know your
249I ought to stand in some degree of credit with you,
251In justice to you, I have made you privy to my whole design,
252and put it in your power to ruin or advance my fortune.
253Whom have you instructed to represent your pretended
255Waitwell, my servant.
256He is humble servant to Foible, my mother’s woman,
257and may win her to your interest.
258Care is taken for that. She is won and worn by this time.
259They were married this morning.
261Waitwell and Foible. I would not tempt my servant to
262betray me by trusting him too far. If your mother, in
263hopes to ruin me, should consent to marry my pretended
264uncle, he might, like Mosca in The Fox, stand upon terms;
265so I made him sure beforehand.
266So, if my poor mother is caught in a contract, you will
267discover the imposture betimes, and release her by producing
268a certificate of her gallant’s former marriage.
269Yes, upon condition she consent to my marriage with her
270niece, and surrender the moiety of her fortune in her
272She talked last night of endeavoring at a match between
273Millamant and your uncle.
274That was by Foible’s direction, and my instruction, that
275she might seem to carry it more privately.
276Well, I have an opinion of your success, for I believe my
277lady will do anything to get a husband; and when she has
278this, which you have provided for her, I suppose she will
279submit to anything to get rid of him.
280Yes, I think the good lady would marry anything that
281resembled a man, though ’twere no more than a butler
282could pinch out of a napkin.
283Female frailty! We must all come to it, if we live to be old
284and feel the craving of a false appetite when the true is
286An old woman’s appetite is depraved like that of a girl.
287’Tis the green sickness of a second childhood; and like the
288faint offer of a latter spring, serves but to usher in the fall,
289and withers in an affected bloom.
290Here’s your mistress.
Enter Mrs. Millamant, Witwoud, and Mincing.
291Here she comes, i’faith, full sail, with her fan spread and
292her streamers out, and a shoal of fools for tenders. Ha,
293no, I cry her mercy!
294I see but one poor empty sculler; and he tows her woman
296You seem to be unattended, madam. You used to have the
297beau monde throng after you, and a flock of gay fine perukes
298hovering round you.
299Like moths about a candle. I had like to have lost my
300comparison for want of breath.
301Oh, I have denied myself airs today. I have walked as fast
302through the crowd—
303As a favorite in disgrace, and with as few followers.
304Dear Mr. Witwoud, truce with your similitudes; for I am
305as sick of ’em—
306As a physician of a good air. I cannot help it, madam,
307though ’tis against myself.
308Yet again! Mincing, stand between me and his wit.
309Do, Mrs. Mincing, like a screen before a great fire. I
310confess I do blaze today; I am too bright.
311But, dear Millamant, why were you so long?
312Long! Lord, have I not made violent haste? I have asked
313every living thing I met for you; I have inquired after
314you, as after a new fashion.
315Madam, truce with your similitudes. No, you met her
316husband, and did not ask him for her.
317By your leave, Witwoud, that were like inquiring after an
318old fashion, to ask a husband for his wife.
319Hum, a hit! a hit! a palpable hit! I confess it.
320You were dressed before I came abroad.
321Aye, that’s true. Oh, but then I had—Mincing, what had
322I? Why was I so long?
323O mem, your la’ship stayed to peruse a pecquet of letters.
324Oh, aye, letters; I had letters. I am persecuted with letters.
325I hate letters. Nobody knows how to write letters; and yet
326one has ’em, one does not know why. They serve one to pin
327up one’s hair.
328Is that the way? Pray, madam, do you pin up your hair with
329all your letters? I find I must keep copies.
330Only with those in verse, Mr. Witwoud. I never pin up my
331hair with prose. I fancy one’s hair would not curl if it were
332pinned up with prose. I think I tried once, Mincing.
333O mem, I shall never forget it.
334Aye, poor Mincing tift and tift all the morning.
335’Till I had the cremp in my fingers, I’ll vow, mem. And
336all to no purpose. But when your la’ship pins it up with
337poetry, it sits so pleasant the next day as anything, and is so
338pure and so crips.
339Indeed, so crips?
340You’re such a critic, Mr. Witwoud.
341Mirabell, did not you take exceptions last night? Oh, aye,
342and went away. Now I think on’t, I’m angry. No, now I
343think on’t, I’m pleased; for I believe I gave you some pain.
344Does that please you?
345Infinitely; I love to give pain.
346You would affect a cruelty which is not in your nature;
347your true vanity is in the power of pleasing.
348Oh, I ask your pardon for that. One’s cruelty is one’s power;
349and when one parts with one’s cruelty, one parts with
350one’s power; and when one has parted with that, I fancy
351one’s old and ugly.
352Aye, aye, suffer your cruelty to ruin the object of your
353power, to destroy your lover, and then how vain, how lost
354a thing you’ll be! Nay, ’tis true: you are no longer handsome
355when you’ve lost your lover; your beauty dies upon the
356instant. For beauty is the lover’s gift; ’tis he bestows your
357charms, your glass is all a cheat. The ugly and the old, whom
358the looking glass mortifies, yet after commendation can be
359flattered by it, and discover beauties in it; for that reflects
360our praises, rather than your face.
361Oh, the vanity of these men! Fainall, d’ye hear him? If
362they did not commend us, we were not handsome! Now you
363must know they could not commend one, if one was not
364handsome. Beauty the lover’s gift! Lord, what is a lover,
365that it can give? Why, one makes lovers as fast as one pleases,
366and they live as long as one pleases, and they die as soon as
367one pleases; and then, if one pleases, one makes more.
368Very pretty. Why, you make no more of making of lovers,
369madam, than of making so many card-matches.
370One no more owes one’s beauty to a lover than one’s wit to
371an echo. They can but reflect what we look and say; vain
372empty things if we are silent or unseen, and want a being.
373Yet to those two vain empty things you owe two [of] the
374greatest pleasures of your life.
376To your lover you owe the pleasure of hearing yourselves
377praised; and to an echo the pleasure of hearing yourselves
379But I know a lady that loves talking so incessantly, she won’t
380give an echo fair play; she has that everlasting rotation of
381tongue, that an echo must wait till she dies, before it can
382catch her last words.
383Oh, fiction! Fainall, let us leave these men.
384(Aside to Mrs. Fainall.) Draw off Witwoud.
385Immediately. I have a word or two for Mr. Witwoud.
Exeunt Witwoud and Mrs. Fainall.
386I would beg a little private audience too. You had the
387tyranny to deny me last night, though you knew I came to
388impart a secret to you that concerned my love.
389You saw I was engaged.
390Unkind! You had the leisure to entertain a herd of fools;
391things who visit you from their excessive idleness, bestowing
392on your easiness that time which is the incumbrance of
393their lives. How can you find delight in such society? It is
394impossible they should admire you; they are not capable.
395Or if they were, it should be to you as a mortification, for
396sure to please a fool is some degree of folly.
397I please myself. Besides, sometimes to converse with fools
398is for my health.
399You health! Is there a worse disease than the conversation
401Yes, the vapors; fools are physic for it, next to assafoetida.
402You are not in a course of fools?
403Mirabell, if you persist in this offensive freedom, you’ll
404displeased me. I think I must resolve, after all, not to have
405you; we shan’t agree.
406Not in our physic, it may be.
407And yet our distemper, in all likelihood, will be the same;
408for we shall be sick of one another. I shan’t endure to be
409reprimanded nor instructed; ’tis so dull to act always by
410advice, and so tedious to be told of one’s faults—I can’t bear
411it. Well, I won’t have you, Mirabell—I’m resolved—I think
412—you may go. —Ha! ha! ha! What would you give that you
413could help loving me?
414I would give something that you did not know I could not
416Come, don’t look grave then. Well, what do you say to me?
417I say that a man may as soon make a friend by his wit, or a
418fortune by his honesty, as win a woman with plain dealing
420Sententious Mirabell! Prithee, don’t look with that violent
421and inflexible wise face, like Solomon at the dividing of the
422child in an old tapestry hanging.
423You are merry, madam, but I would persuade you for one
424moment to be serious.
425What, with that face? No, if you keep your countenance,
426’tis impossible I should hold mine. Well, after all, there is
427something very moving in a love-sick face. Ha! ha! ha!
428—Well, I won’t laugh, don’t be peevish—Heighho! Now I’ll
429be melancholy, as melancholy as a watch-light. Well, Mirabell,
430if ever you will win me, woo me now. —Nay, if you are
431so tedious, fare you well. —I see they are walking away.
432Can you not find in the variety of your disposition one
434To hear you tell me Foible’s married, and your plot like
435to speed? —No.
436But how came you to know it?
437Unless by the help of the devil, you can’t imagine; unless
438she should tell me herself. Which of the two it may have
439been, I will leave you to consider; and when you have done
440thinking of that, think of me.
Exit [with Mincing].
441I have something more—Gone! Think of you! To think of
442a whirlwind, though ’twere in a whirlwind, were a case of
443more steady contemplation; a very tranquility of mind and
444mansion. A fellow that lives in a windmill has not a more
445whimsical dwelling than the heart of a man that is lodged
446in a woman. There is no point of the compass to which
447they cannot turn, and by which they are not turned; and
448by one as well as another, for motion, not method, is their
449occupation. To know this, and yet continue to be in love, is
450to be made wise from the dictates of reason, and yet per-
451severe to play the fool by the force of instinct. —Oh, here
452come my pair of turtles! —What, billing so sweetly! Is not
453Valentine’s Day over with you yet?
Enter Waitwell and Foible.
454Sirrah, Waitwell, why sure you think you were married for
455your own recreation, and not for my conveniency.
456Your pardon, sir. With submission, we have indeed been
457solacing in lawful delights; but still with an eye to business,
458sir. I have instructed her as well as I could. If she can
459take your directions as readily as my instructions, sir, your
460affairs are in a prosperous way.
461Give you joy, Mrs. Foible.
462O las, sir, I’m so ashamed! I’m afraid my lady has been in a
463thousand inquietudes for me. But I protest, sir, I made as
464much haste as I could.
465That she did indeed, sir. It was my fault that she did not
467That I believe.
468But I told my lady as you instructed me, sir, that I had a
469prospect of seeing Sir Rowland, your uncle; and that I would
470put her ladyship’s picture in my pocket to show him, which
471I’ll be sure to say has made him so enamored of her beauty,
472that he burns with impatience to lie at her ladyship’s feet and
473worship the original.
474Excellent Foible! Matrimony has made you eloquent in
476I think she has profited, sir. I think so.
477You have seen Madam Millamant, sir?
479I told her, sir, because I did not know that you might find
480an opportunity; she had so much company last night.
481Your diligence will merit more. In the meantime—
482O dear sir, your humble servant.
484Stand off, sir, not a penny! Go on and prosper, Foible; the
485lease shall be made good and the farm stocked, if we
487I don’t question your generosity, sir; and you need not
488doubt of success. If you have no more commands, sir,
489I’ll be gone; I’m sure my lady is at her toilet and can’t dress
490till I come. —Oh dear, I’m sure that
( looking out) was
491Mrs. Marwood that went by in a mask; if she has seen me
492with you I’m sure she’ll tell my lady. I’ll make haste
493home and prevent her. Your servant, sir. B’w’y, Waitwell.
494Sir Rowland, if you please. The jade’s so pert upon her
495preferment she forgets herself.
496Come, sir, will you endeavor to forget yourself, and trans-
497form into Sir Rowland?
498Why, sir, it will be impossible I should remember myself.
499Married, knighted, and attended all in one day! ’Tis enough
500to make any man forget himself. The difficulty will be how to
501recover my acquaintance and familiarity with my former self,
502and fall from my transformation to a reformation into
503Waitwell. Nay, I shan’t be quite the same Waitwell neither;
504for now I remember me, I am married and can’t be my own
Aye, there’s the grief; that’s the sad change of life,
To lose my title, and yet keep my wife.
A Room in Lady Wishfort’s House.
Lady Wishfort at her toilet, Peg waiting.
1Merciful! no news of Foible yet?
3I have no more patience. If I have not fretted myself till I
4am pale again, there’s no veracity in me! Fetch me the
5red; the red, do you hear, sweetheart? An arrant ash-
6color, as I’m a person! Look you how this wench stirs! Why
7dost thou not fetch me a little red? Didst thou not hear me,
9The red ratafia does your ladyship mean, or the cherry
11Ratafia, fool! No, fool! Not the ratafia, fool. Grant me
12patience! I mean the Spanish paper, idiot; complexion,
13darling. Paint, paint, paint, dost thou understand that,
14changeling, dangling thy hands like bobbins before thee?
15Why dost thou not stir, puppet? thou wooden thing upon
17Lord, madam, your ladyship is so impatient! I cannot
18come at the paint, madam; Mrs. Foible has locked it up
19and carried the key with her.
20A pox take you both! Fetch me the cherry brandy then.
21I’m as pale and as faint, I look like Mrs.
22Qualmsick, the curate’s wife, that’s always breeding.
23Wench, come, come, wench, what art thou doing? sipping?
24tasting? Save thee, dost thou not know the bottle?
Re-enter Peg with a bottle and china cup.
25Madam, I was looking for a cup.
26A cup, save thee! and what a cup hast thou brought!
27Dost thou take me for a fairy, to drink out of an acorn?
28Why didst thou not bring thy thimble? Hast thou ne’er a
29brass thimble clinking in thy pocket with a bit of nutmeg?
30I warrant thee. Come, fill, fill! So; again.
31See who that is. Set down the bottle first. Here, here, under
32the table. What, wouldst thou go with the bottle in thy
33hand, like a tapster? As I’m a person, this wench has
34lived in an inn upon the road, before she came to me,
35like Maritornes the Asturian in Don Quixote! No Foible yet?
36No, madam, Mrs. Marwood.
37Oh, Marwood, let her come in. Come in, good Marwood.
Enter Mrs. Marwood.
38I’m surprised to find your ladyship in dishabillé at this
39time of day.
40Foible’s a lost thing; has been abroad since morning, and
41never heard of since.
42I saw her but now, as I came masked through the park, in
43conference with Mirabell.
44With Mirabell! You call my blood into my face with
45mentioning that traitor. She durst not have the confidence!
46I sent her to negotiate an affair in which, if I’m detected, I’m
47undone. If that wheedling villain has wrought upon Foible
48to detect me, I’m ruined. Oh my dear friend, I’m a wretch
49of wretches if I’m detected.
50O madam, you cannot suspect Mrs. Foible’s integrity.
51Oh, he carries poison in his tongue that would corrupt
52integrity itself! If she has given him an opportunity, she has
53as good as put her integrity into his hands. Ah, dear
54Marwood, what’s integrity to an opportunity? Hark! I hear
55her! Go, you thing, and send her in.
56Dear friend, retire into my closet, that I may examine her with
57more freedom. You’ll pardon me, dear friend; I can make
58bold with you. There are books over the chimney. Quarles
59and Prynne, and the Short View of the Stage, with Bunyan’s
60works, to entertain you.
Exit Mrs. Marwood.
61O Foible, where hast thou been? What hast thou been
63Madam, I have seen the party.
64But what hast thou done?
65Nay, ’tis your ladyship has done, and are to do; I have
66only promised. But a man so enamored, so transported!
67Well, here it is, all that is left; all that is not kissed away.
68Well, if worshiping of pictures be a sin, poor Sir Rowland,
70The miniature has been counted like. But hast thou not
71betrayed me, Foible? Hast thou not detected me to that
72faithless Mirabell? What hadst thou to do with him in the
73Park? Answer me, has he got nothing out of thee?
74[aside] So the devil has been beforehand with me. What shall I say?
75—Alas, madam, could I help it, if I met that confident
76thing? Was I in fault? If you had heard how he used me,
77and all upon your ladyship’s account, I’m sure you would
78not suspect my fidelity. Nay, if that had been the worst, I
79could have borne; but he had a fling at your ladyship too.
80And then I could not hold; but i’faith I gave him his own.
81Me? What did the filthy fellow say?
82O madam! ’tis a shame to say what he said, with his taunts
83and his fleers, tossing up his nose. Humph! (says he), what,
84you are a hatching some plot (says he), you are so early
85abroad, or catering (say he), ferreting for some disbanded
86officer, I warrant. Half-pay is but thin subsistence (says he).
87Well, what pension does your lady propose? Let me see
88(says he), what, she must come down pretty deep now, she’s
89superannuated (says he) and—
90Ods my life, I’ll have him, I’ll have him murdered. I’ll have
91him poisoned. Where does he eat? I’ll marry a drawer to
92have him poisoned in his wine. I’ll send for Robin from
94Poison him? Poisoning’s too good for him. Starve him,
95madam, starve him; marry Sir Rowland and get him
96disinherited. Oh, you would bless yourself to hear what he
98A villain! superannuated!
99Humph! (says he), I hear you are laying designs against
100me too (says he), and Mrs. Millamant is to marry my uncle
101(he does not suspect a word of your ladyship); but (says he)
102I’ll fit you for that. I warrant you (says he), I’ll hamper you
103for that (says he), you and your old frippery too (says he),
104I’ll handle you—
105Audacious villain! Handle me! would he durst! Frippery?
106old frippery! Was there ever such a foulmouthed fellow?
107I’ll be married tomorrow; I’ll be contracted tonight.
108The sooner the better, madam.
109Will Sir Rowland be here, say’st thou? When, Foible?
110Incontinently, madam. No new sheriff’s wife expects the
111return of her husband after knighthood with that impatience
112in which Sir Rowland burns for the dear hour of kissing
113your ladyship’s hands after dinner.
114Frippery? superannuated frippery! I’ll frippery the villain;
115I’ll reduce him to frippery and rags! A tatterdemalion! I
116hope to see him hung with tatters, like a Long Lane penthouse
117or a gibbet thief. A slander-mouthed railer! I
118warrant the spendthrift prodigal’s in debt as much as the
119million lottery, or the whole court upon a birthday. I’ll
120spoil his credit with his tailor. Yes, he shall have my niece
121with her fortune, he shall!
122He! I hope to see him lodge in Ludgate first, and angle
123into Blackfairs for brass farthings with an old mitten.
124Aye, dear Foible; thank thee for that, dear Foible. He has
125put me out of all patience. I shall never recompose my
126features to receive Sir Rowland with any economy of face.
127This wretch has fretted me that I am absolutely decayed.
129Your ladyship has frowned a little too rashly, indeed,
130madam. There are some cracks discernible in the white
132Let me see the glass. Cracks, say’st thou? Why I am
133arrantly flayed; I look like an old peeled wall. Thou must
134repair me, Foible, before Sir Rowland comes, or I shall
135never keep up to my picture.
136I warrant you, madam, a little art once made your picture
137like you; and now a little of the same art must make you
138like your picture. Your picture must sit for you, madam.
139But art thou sure Sir Rowland will not fail to come? Or
140will he not fail when he does come? Will he be importunate,
141Foible, and push? For if he should not be importunate, I
142shall never break decorums. I shall die with confusion, if I
143am forced to advance. Oh no, I can never advance! I shall
144swoon if he should expect advances. No, I hope Sir Rowland
145is better bred than to put a lady to the necessity of
146breaking her forms. I won’t be too coy neither. I won’t give
147him despair; but a little disdain is not amiss, a little scorn is
149A little scorn becomes your ladyship.
150Yes, but tenderness becomes me best, a sort of a dyingness.
151You see that picture has a sort of a—ha, Foible? a swimmingness
152in the eyes. Yes, I’ll look so. My niece affects it;
153but she wants features. Is Sir Rowland handsome? Let my
154toilet be removed. I’ll dress above. I’ll receive Sir Rowland
155here. Is he handsome? Don’t answer me. I won’t know; I’ll
156be surprised, I’ll be taken by surprise.
157By storm, madam. Sir Rowland’s a brisk man.
158Is he! Oh, then he’ll importune, if he’s a brisk man.
159I shall save decorums if Sir Rowland importunes. I have
160a mortal terror at the apprehension of offending against
161decorums. Nothing but importunity can surmount decorums.
162Oh, I’m glad he’s a brisk man. Let my things be removed,
Enter Mrs. Fainall.
164O Foible, I have been in a fright, lest I should come too
165late! That devil Marwood saw you in the Park with Mirabell,
166and I’m afraid will discover it to my lady.
167Discover what, madam?
168Nay, nay, put not on that strange face. I am privy to the
169whole design, and know that Waitwell, to whom thou wert
170this morning married, is to personate Mirabell’s uncle, and
171as such, winning my lady, to involve her in those difficulties
172from which Mirabell only must release her, by his making
173his conditions to have my cousin and her fortune left to her
175O dear madam, I beg your pardon. It was not my confidence
176in your ladyship that was deficient; but I thought the former
177good correspondence between your ladyship and Mr. Mirabell
178might have hindered his communicating this secret.
179Dear Foible, forget that.
180O dear madam, Mr. Mirabell is such a sweet, winning
181gentleman, but your ladyship is the pattern of generosity.
182Sweet lady, to be so good! Mr. Mirabell cannot choose but
183be grateful. I find your ladyship has his heart still. Now,
184madam, I can safely tell your ladyship our success. Mrs.
185Marwood had told my lady; but I warrant I managed myself.
186I turned it all for the better. I told my lady that Mr. Mirabell
187railed at her. I laid horrid things to his charge, I’ll vow;
188and my lady is so incensed that she’ll be contracted to Sir
189Rowland tonight, she says. I warrant I worked her up, that
190he may have her for asking for, as they say of a Welsh
192O rare Foible!
193Madam, I beg your ladyship to acquaint Mr. Mirabell of
194his success. I would be seen as little as possible to speak to
195him; besides, I believe Madame Marwood watches me.
196She has a month’s mind; but I know Mr. Mirabell can’t
( Enter Footman.) John, remove my lady’s
198toilet. Madam, your servant. My lady is so impatient,
199I fear she’ll come for me, if I stay.
200I’ll go with you up the backstairs, lest I should meet her.
Enter Mrs. Marwood.
201Indeed, Mrs. Engine, is it thus with you? Are you become a
202go-between of this importance? Yes, I shall watch you. Why
203this wench is the passe-partout, a very master key to everybody’s
204strongbox. My friend Fainall, have you carried it so
205swimmingly? I thought there was something in it; but it
206seems it’s over with you. Your loathing is not from a want of
207appetite then, but from a surfeit. Else you could never be so
208cool to fall from a principal to be an assistant; to procure
209for him! A pattern of generosity, that I confess. Well, Mr.
210Fainall, you have met with your match. O man, man!
211woman, woman! The devil’s an ass; if I were a painter, I
212would draw him like an idiot, a driveler with a bib and
213bells. Man should have his head and horns, and woman the
214rest of him. Poor simple fiend! Madam Marwood has a
215month’s mind, but he can’t abide her. ’Twere better for him
216you had not been his confessor in that affair, without you
217could have kept his counsel closer. I shall not prove
218another pattern of generosity and stalk for him, till he takes
219his stand to aim at a fortune. He has not obligated me to that,
220with those excesses of himself; and now I’ll have none of
221him. Here comes the good lady, panting ripe; with a heart
222full of hope, and a head full of care, like any chemist upon
223the day of projection.
Enter Lady Wishfort.
224O dear Marwood, what shall I say, for this rude forgetfullness?
225But my dear friend is all goodness.
226No apologies, dear madam. I have been very well
228As I’m a person, I am in a very chaos to think I should so
229forget myself; but I have such an olio of affairs, really I know
230not what to do. —
( Calls.) Foible! —I expect my nephew,
231Sir Wilfull, every moment too. —Why, Foible! —He
232means to travel for improvement.
233Methinks Sir Wilfull should rather think of marrying than
234traveling at his years. I hear he is turned of forty.
235Oh, he’s in less danger of being spoiled by his travels. I
236am against my nephew’s marrying too young. It will be
237time enough when he comes back and has acquired discretion
238to choose for himself.
239Methinks Mrs. Millamant and he would make a very
240fit match. He may travel afterwards. ’Tis a thing very
241usual with young gentlemen.
242I promise you I have thought on’t; and since ’tis your
243judgment, I’ll think on’t again. I assure you I will; I value
244your judgment extremely. On my word, I’ll propose it.
245Come, come, Foible, I had forgot my nephew will be here
246before dinner. I must make haste.
247Mr. Witwoud and Mr. Petulant are come to dine with your
249Oh dear, I can’t appear till I’m dressed. Dear Marwood,
250shall I be free with you again, and beg you to entertain ’em?
251I’ll make all imaginable haste. Dear friend, excuse me.
Exeunt Lady Wishfort and Foible.
Enter Mrs. Millamant and Mincing.
252Sure never anything was so unbred as that odious man!
253Marwood, your servant.
254You have a color, what’s the matter?
255That horrid fellow, Petulant, has provoked me into a flame.
256I have broke my fan. Mincing, lend me yours; is not all
257the powder out of my hair?
258No, what has he done?
259Nay, he has done nothing; he has only talked. Nay, he has
260said nothing neither; but he has contradicted everything
261that has been said. For my part, I thought Witwoud and he
262would have quarreled.
263I vow, mem, I thought once they would have fit.
264Well, ’tis a lamentable thing, I’ll swear, that one has not the
265liberty of choosing one’s acquaintance as one does one’s
267If we had the liberty, we should be as weary of one set of
268acquaintance, though never so good, as we are of one suit,
269though never so fine. A fool and a doily stuff would now
270and then find days of grace, and be worn for variety.
271I could consent to wear ’em, if they would wear alike; but
272fools never wear out—they are such drap-de-Berry things
273without one could give ’em to one’s chambermaid after a day
275’Twere better so indeed. Or what think you of the playhouse?
276A fine, gay, glossy fool should be given there, like a
277new masking habit, after the masquerade is over, and we
278have done with the disguise. For a fool’s visit is always a
279disguise, and never admitted by a woman of wit, but to blind
280her affair with a lover of sense. If you would but appear
281barefaced now, and own Mirabell, you might as easily put
282off Petulant and Witwoud as your hood and scarf. And
283indeed ’tis time, for the town has found it; the secret is
284grown too big for the pretense. ’Tis like Mrs. Primly’s great
285belly; she may lace it down before, but it burnishes on her
286hips. Indeed, Millamant, you can no more conceal it than
287my Lady Strammel can her face, that goodly face, which,
288in defiance of her Rhenish wine tea, will not be comprehended
289in a mask.
290I’ll take my death, Marwood, you are more censorious
291than a decayed beauty, or a discarded toast. Mincing, tell
292the men they may come up. My aunt is not dressing [here].
293—Their folly is less provoking than your malice.
294The town has found it! What has it found? That
295Mirabell loves me is no more a secret than it is a secret that
296you discovered it to my aunt, or than the reason why you
297discovered it is a secret.
298You are nettled.
299You’re mistaken. Ridiculous!
300Indeed, my dear, you’ll tear another fan, if you don’t
301mitigate those violent airs.
302O silly! Ha! ha! ha! I could laugh immoderately. Poor
303Mirabell! His constancy to me has quite destroyed his
304complaisance for all the world beside. I swear, I never enjoined
305it him to be so coy. If I had the vanity to think he
306would obey me, I would command him to show more
307gallantry. ’Tis hardly well-bred to be so particular on one
308hand, and so let him follow his own way. Ha! ha! ha!
309Pardon me, dear creature, I must laugh, ha! ha! ha!—
310though I grant you ’tis a little barbarous, ha! ha! ha!
311What pity ’tis, so much fine raillery, and delivered with so
312significant gesture, should be so unhappily directed to
314Ha? Dear creature, I ask your pardon. I swear I did not
316Mr. Mirabell and you both may think it a thing impossible,
317when I shall tell him by telling you—
318Oh dear, what? For it is the same thing, if I hear it, ha!
320That I detest him, hate him, madam.
321O madam, why so do I—and yet the creature loves me,
322ha! ha! ha! How can one forbear laughing to think of it!
323I am a sybil if I am not amazed to think what he can see in
324me. I’ll take my death, I think you are handsomer—and
325within a year or two as young. If you could but stay for
326me, I should overtake you—but that cannot be. —Well,
327that thought makes me melancholy. —Now I’ll be sad.
328Your merry note may be changed sooner than you think.
329D’ye say so? Then I’m resolved to have a song to keep up
331The gentlemen stay but to comb, madam, and will wait
333Desire Mrs. ——, that is in the next room, to sing the
334song I would have learned yesterday. You shall hear it,
335madam, not that there’s any great matter in it, but ’tis agreeable
336to my humor.
Set by Mr. John Eccles and sung by Mrs. Hodgson.
Love’s but the frailty of the mind,
When ’tis not with ambition joined;
A sickly flame, which, if not fed, expires,
And feeding, wastes in self-consuming fires.
’Tis not to wound a wanton boy
Or amorous youth, that 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 heart, which others bleed for, bleed for me.
Enter Petulant and Witwoud.
349Is your animosity composed, gentlemen?
350Raillery, raillery, madam; we have no animosity. We hit off
351a little wit now and then, but no animosity. The falling-out
352of wits is like the falling-out of lovers; we agree in the main,
353like treble and bass. Ha, Petulant?
354Aye, in the main, but when I have a humor to contradict.
355Aye, when he has a humor to contradict, then I contradict
356too. What, I know my cue. Then we contradict one
357another like two battledores; for contradictions beget one
358another like Jews.
359If he says black’s black, if I have a humor to say ’tis blue,
360let that pass; all’s one for that. If I have a humor to
361prove it, it must be granted.
362Not positively must, but it may, it may.
363Yes, it positively must, upon proof positive.
364Aye, upon proof positive it must; but upon proof presumptive
365it only may. That’s a logical distinction now,
367I perceive your debates are of importance and very
369Importance is one thing, and learning’s another; but a
370debate’s debate, that I assert.
371Petulant’s an enemy to learning; he relies altogether on
373No, I’m no enemy to learning; it hurts not me.
374That’s a sign indeed it’s no enemy to you.
375No, no, it’s no enemy to anybody but them that have it.
376Well, an illiterate man’s my aversion. I wonder at the impudence
377of any illiterate man to offer to make love.
378That I confess I wonder at too.
379Ah! to marry an ignorant that can hardly read or write!
380Why should a man be ever the further from being married,
381though he can’t read, any more than he is from being
382hanged? The ordinary’s paid for setting the psalm, and
383the parish priest for reading the ceremony. And for the
384rest which is to follow in both cases, a man may do it
385without book; so all’s one for that.
386D’ye hear the creature? Lord, here’s company, I’ll be gone.
Exeunt Millamant and Mincing.
387In the name of Bartlemew and his fair, what have we here?
388’Tis your brother, I fancy. Don’t you know him?
389Not I. Yes, I think it is he. I’ve almost forgot him; I
390have not seen him since the Revolution.
Enter Sir Wilfull Witwoud in a country riding habit, and a Servant to Lady Wishfort.
391Sir, my lady’s dressing. Here’s company; if you please to
392walk in, in the meantime.
393Dressing! What, it’s but morning here, I warrant, with you
394in London; we should count it towards afternoon in our
395parts, down in Shropshire. Why then, belike my aunt han’t
396dined yet, ha, friend?
397Your aunt, sir?
398My aunt, sir! Yes, my aunt, sir, and your lady, sir; your
399lady is my aunt, sir. Why, what, dost thou not know me,
400friend? Why then, send somebody here that does. How long
401hast thou lived with thy lady, fellow, ha?
402A week, sir; longer than anybody in the house, except my
404Why then, belike thou dost not know thy lady, if thou seest
405her, ha, friend?
406Why truly, sir, I cannot safely swear to her face in a morning,
407before she is dressed. ’Tis like I may give a shrewd guess at
408her by this time.
409Well, prithee try what thou canst do; if thou canst not guess,
410inquire her out, dost hear, fellow? And tell her, her
411nephew, Sir Wilfull Witwoud, is in the house.
412I shall, sir.
413Hold ye, hear me, friend; a word with you in your ear.
414Prithee who are these gallants?
415Really, sir, I can’t tell; here come so many here, ’tis hard
416to know ’em all.
417Oons, this fellow knows less than a starling; I don’t think a’
418knows his own name.
419Mr. Witwoud, your brother is not behindhand in forgetfulness;
420I fancy he has forgot you too.
421I hope so. The devil take him that remembers first, I say.
422Save you, gentlemen and lady!
423For shame, Mr. Witwoud; why won’t you speak to him?
424And you, sir.
426And you, sir.
427No offense, I hope.
428No sure, sir.
429This is a vile dog, I see that already. No offense! Ha! ha!
430ha! to him; to him, Petulant, smoke him.
431It seems as if you had come a journey, sir; hem, hem.
Surveying him round.
432Very likely, sir, that it may seem so.
433No offense, I hope, sir.
434Smoke the boots, the boots; Petulant, the boots, ha! ha! ha!
435May be not, sir; thereafter as ’tis meant, sir.
436Sir, I presume upon the information of your boots.
437Why, ’tis like you may, sir. If you are not satisfied with the
438information of my boots, sir, if you will step to the stable,
439you may inquire further of my horse, sir.
440Your horse, sir! Your horse is an ass, sir!
441Do you speak by way of offense, sir?
442The gentleman’s merry, that’s all, sir. —[ Aside.] ’Slife,
we shall have a quarrel betwixt an horse and an ass, before
they find one another out. —
[ Aloud.] You must not take
445anything amiss from your friends, sir. You are among your
446friends here, though it may be you don’t know it. If I am
447not mistaken, you are Sir Wilfull Witwoud.
448Right, lady; I am Sir Wilfull Witwoud, so I write myself;
449no offense to anybody, I hope; and nephew to the Lady
450Wishfort of this mansion.
451Don’t you know this gentleman, sir?
452Hum! What, sure ’tis not—yea by’r Lady, but ’tis. ’Sheart,
453I know not whether ’tis or no. Yea, but ’tis, by the Wrekin.
454Brother Anthony! What, Tony, i’faith! What, dost thou
455not know me? By’r Lady, nor I thee, thou art so be-cravated
456and be-periwigged. ’Sheart, why dost not speak? Art thou
458Odso, brother, is it you? Your servant, brother.
459Your servant! Why, yours, sir. Your servant again, ’sheart,
460and your friend and servant to that, and a—(puff) and a
461flapdragon for your service, sir! and a hare’s foot, and a
462hare’s scut for your service, sir, an you be so cold and so
464No offense, I hope, brother.
465’Sheart, sir, but there is, and much offense! A pox, is this
466your Inns o’ Court breeding, not to know your friends and
467your relations, your elders and your betters.
468Why, brother Wilfull of Salop, you may be as short as a
469Shrewsbury cake, if you please. But I tell you, ’tis not
470modish to know relations in town. You think you’re in the
471country, where great lubberly brothers slabber and kiss one
472another when they meet, like a call of serjeants. ’Tis not the
473fashion here; ’tis not indeed, dear brother.
474The fashion’s a fool; and you’re a fop, dear brother.
475’Sheart, I’ve suspected this. By’r Lady, I conjectured you
476were a fop, since you began to change the style of your letters
477and write in a scrap of paper, gilt round the edges, no
478broader than a subpoena. I might expect this when you
479left off Honored Brother, and hoping you are in good health,
480and so forth—to begin with a Rat me, knight, I’m so sick
481of a last night’s debauch—ods heart, and then tell a familiar
482tale of a cock and a bull, and a whore and a bottle, and
483so conclude. You could write news before you were
484out of your time, when you lived with honest Pumple Nose,
485the attorney of Furnival’s Inn; you could entreat to be
486remembered then to your friends round the Wrekin. We
487could have gazettes then, and Dawks’s Letter, and the
488Weekly Bill, till of late days.
489’Slife, Witwoud, were you ever an attorney’s clerk? of the
490family of the Furnivals? Ha! ha! ha!
491Aye, aye, but that was for a while, not long, not long.
492Pshaw! I was not in my own power then; an orphan,
493and this fellow was my guardian. Aye, aye, I was glad to
494consent to that man to come to London. He had the
495disposal of me then. If I had not agreed to that, I might have
496been bound prentice to a felt-maker in Shrewsbury; this
497fellow would have bound me to a maker of felts.
498’Sheart, and better than to be bound to a maker of fops,
499where, I suppose, you have served your time; and now you
500may set up for yourself.
501You intend to travel, sir, as I’m informed.
502Belike I may, madam. I may chance to sail upon the salt
503seas, if my mind hold.
504And the wind serve.
505Serve or not serve, I shan’t ask license of you, sir; nor the
506weathercock your companion. I direct my discourse to the
507lady, sir. ’Tis like my aunt may have told you, madam.
508Yes, I have settled my concerns, I may say now, and am
509minded to see foreign parts. If an how that the peace
510holds, whereby, that is, taxes abate.
511I thought you had designed for France at all adventures.
512I can’t tell that; ’tis like I may, and ’tis like I may not. I
513am somewhat dainty in making a resolution, because when
514I make it, I keep it. I don’t stand shill I, shall I, then; if I
515say’t, I’ll do’t. But I have thoughts to tarry a small matter
516in town, to learn somewhat of your lingo first, before I
517cross the seas. I’d gladly have a spice of your French, as
518they say, whereby to hold discourse in foreign countries.
519Here is an academy in town for that use.
520There is? ’Tis like there may.
521No doubt you will return very much improved.
522Yes, refined, like a Dutch skipper from a whale-fishing.
Enter Lady Wishfort and Fainall.
523Nephew, you are welcome.
524Aunt, your servant.
525Sir Wilfull, your most faithful servant.
526Cousin Fainall, give me your hand.
527Cousin Witwoud, your servant; Mr. Petulant, your servant.
528Nephew, you are welcome again. Will you drink anything
529after your journey, nephew, before you eat? Dinner’s
531I’m very well, I thank you, aunt; however, I thank you
532for your courteous offer. ’Sheart, I was afraid you would
533have been in the fashion too, and have remembered to
534have forgot your relations. Here’s your cousin Tony;
535belike I mayn’t call him brother for fear of offense.
536Oh, he’s a rallier, nephew. My cousin’s a wit; and your great
537wits always rally their best friends to choose. When you have
538been abroad, nephew, you’ll understand raillery better.
Fainall and Mrs. Marwood talk apart.
539Why then, let him hold his tongue in the meantime, and
540rail when that day comes.
541Mem, I come to acquaint your la’ship that dinner is
543Impatient? Why then, belike it won’t stay till I pull off my
544boots. Sweetheart, can you help me to a pair of slippers?
545My man’s with his horses, I warrant.
546Fie, fie nephew, you would not pull off your boots here. Go
547down into the hall; dinner shall stay for you. My nephew’s
548a little unbred; you’ll pardon him, madam. Gentlemen,
549will you walk? Marwood?
550I’ll follow you, madam, before Sir Wilfull is ready.
Exeunt all but Mrs. Marwood and Fainall.
551Why then, Foible’s a bawd, an arrant, rank, match-
552making bawd. And I, it seems, am a husband, a rank
553husband; and my wife a very arrant, rank wife, all in the
554way of the world. ’Sdeath, to be an anticipated cuckold, a
555cuckold in embryo! Sure I was born with budding antlers,
556like a young satyr, or a citizen’s child. ’Sdeath, to be outwitted,
557to be out-jilted, out-matrimonied! If I had kept
558my speed like a stag, ’twere somewhat; but to crawl after,
559with my horns like a snail, and outstripped by my wife, ’tis
561Then shake it off. You have often wished for an opportunity
562to part; and now you have it. But first prevent their plot;
563the half of Millamant’s fortune is too considerable to be
564parted with, to a foe, to Mirabell.
565Damn him! that had been mine, had you not made that
566fond discovery. That had been forfeited, had they been
567married. My wife had added luster to my horns by that
568increase of fortune; I could have worn ’em tipt with gold,
569though my forehead had been furnished like a deputy
571They may prove a cap of maintenance to you still, if you
572can away with your wife. And she’s no worse than when
573you had her. I dare swear she had given up her game
574before she was married.
575Hum! That may be. She might throw up her cards; but
576I’ll be hanged if she did not put Pam in her pocket.
577You married her to keep you; and if you can contrive to
578have her keep you better than you expected, why should
579you not keep her longer than you intended?
580The means, the means.
581Discover to my lady your wife’s conduct; threaten to part
582with her. My lady loves her, and will come to any com-
583position to save her reputation. Take the opportunity of
584breaking it, just upon the discovery of this imposture. My
585lady will be enraged beyond bounds, and sacrifice niece and
586fortune and all, at that conjuncture. And let me alone to
587keep her warm; if she should flag in her part, I will not fail
588to prompt her.
589Faith, this has an appearance.
590I’m sorry I hinted to my lady to endeavor a match between
591Millamant and Sir Wilfull; that may be an obstacle.
592Oh, for that matter leave me to manage him; I’ll disable
593him for that. He will drink like a Dane; after dinner, I’ll set
594his hand in.
595Well, how do you stand affected towards your lady?
596Why, faith, I’m thinking of it. Let me see. I am married
597already, so that’s over. My wife has played the jade with
598me; well, that’s over too. I never loved her, or if I had, why
599that would have been over too by this time. Jealous of her
600I cannot be, for I am certain; so there’s an end of jealousy.
601Weary of her I am, and shall be. No, there’s no end of
602that; no, no, that were too much to hope. Thus far concerning
603my repose; now for my reputation. As to my own,
604I married not for it; so, that’s out of the question. And as to
605my part in my wife’s, why she had parted with hers before;
606so brining none to me, she can take none from me. ’Tis
607against all rule of play that I should lose to one who has not
608wherewithal to stake.
609Besides, you forget, marriage is honorable.
610Hum! Faith, and that’s well thought on. Marriage is
611honorable, as you say; and if so, wherefore should cuckoldom
612be a discredit, being derived from so honorable a root?
613Nay, I know not; if the root be honorable, why not the
615So, so; why this point’s clear. Well, how do we proceed?
616I will contrive a letter which shall be delivered to my lady
617at the time when that rascal who is to act Sir Rowland is
618with her. It shall come as from an unknown hand, for the
619less I appear to know of the truth, the better I can play the
620incendiary. Besides, I would not have Foible provoked if I
621could help it, because you know she knows some passages.
622Nay, I expect all will come out; but let the mine be sprung
623first, and then I care not if I’m discovered.
624If the worst come to the worst, I’ll turn my wife to grass.
625I have already a deed of settlement of the best part of her
626estate, which I have wheedled out of her; and that you
627shall partake at least.
628I hope you are convinced that I hate Mirabell; now you’ll
629be no more jealous.
630Jealous! No, by this kiss. Let husbands be jealous; but let
631the lover still believe. Or if he doubt, let it be only to endear
632his pleasure, and prepare the joy that follows, when he
633proves his mistress true. But let husbands’ doubts convert to
634endless jealousy; or if they have belief, let it corrupt to superstition
635and blind credulity. I am single, and will herd no
636more with ’em. True, I wear the badge, but I’ll disown the
637order. And since I take my leave of ’em, I care not if I leave
638’em a common motto to their common crest:
All husbands must or pain or shame endure;
The wise too jealous are, fools too secure.
Enter Lady Wishfort and Foible.
1Is Sir Rowland coming, say’st thou, Foible? and are things
3Yes, madam, I have put wax lights in the sconces, and
4placed the footmen in a row in the hall, in their best liveries,
5with the coachman and postilion to fill up the equipage.
6Have you pulvilled the coachman and postilion that they
7may not stink of the stable when Sir Rowland comes by?
9And are the dancers and the music ready, that he may be
10entertained in all points with correspondence to his passion?
11All is ready, madam.
12And—well—and how do I look, Foible?
13Most killing well, madam.
14Well, and how shall I receive him? In what figure shall I
15give his heart the first impression? There is a great deal in the
16first impression. Shall I sit? —No, I won’t sit—I’ll walk—
17aye, I’ll walk from the door upon his entrance; and then
18turn full upon him. —No, that will be too sudden. I’ll lie—
19aye, I’ll lie down—I’ll receive him in my little dressing-
20room; there’s a couch—yes, yes, I’ll give the first impression
21on a couch. —I won’t lie neither, but loll and lean upon
22one elbow, with one foot a little dangling off, jogging in a
23thoughtful way—yes—and then as soon as he appears, start,
24aye, start and be surprised, and rise to meet him in a pretty
25disorder—yes—oh, nothing is more alluring than a levee
26from a couch in some confusion. —It shows the foot to
27advantage, and furnished with blushes, and recomposing
28airs beyond comparison. Hark! There’s a coach.
29’Tis he, madam.
30Oh dear, has my nephew made his addresses to Millamant?
31I ordered him.
32Sir Wilfull is set in to drinking, madam, in the parlor.
33Ods my life, I’ll send him to her. Call her down, Foible;
34bring her hither. I’ll send him as I go. When they are
35together, then come to me, Foible, that I may not be too long
36alone with Sir Rowland.
Enter Mrs. Millamant and Mrs. Fainall.
37Madam, I stayed here, to tell your ladyship that Mr.
38Mirabell has waited this half hour for an opportunity to
39talk with you, though my lady’s orders were to leave you and
40Sir Wilfull together. Shall I tell Mr. Mirabell that you are
42No—what would the dear man have? I am thoughtful and
43would amuse myself—bid him come another time.
There never yet was woman made,
Nor shall, but to be cursed.
( Repeating and walking about.)
47You are very fond of Sir John Suckling today, Millamant,
48and the poets.
49He? Aye, and filthy verses; so I am.
50Sir Wilfull is coming, madam. Shall I send Mr. Mirabell
52Aye, if you please, Foible, send him away—or send him
53hither—just as you will, dear Foible. —I think I’ll see him—
54shall I? Aye, let the wretch come.
[ Exit Foible.]
Thyrsis, a youth of the inspired train.
56Dear Fainall, entertain Sir Wilfull. Thou hast philosophy to
57undergo a fool; thou art married and hast patience. I would
58confer with my own thoughts.
59I am obliged to you, that you would make me your proxy
60in this affair; but I have business of my own.
Enter Sir Wilfull.
61O Sir Wilfull, you are come at the critical instant. There’s
62your mistress up to the ears in love and contemplation;
63pursue your point, now or never.
64Yes; my aunt would have it so. I would gladly have been
65encouraged with a bottle or two, because I’m somewhat
66wary at first, before I am acquainted.
(This while Millamants walks about repeating to herself.)
67But I hope, after a
68time, I shall break my mind; that is, upon further acquaintance.
69So for the present, cousin, I’ll take my leave. If so be
70you’ll be so kind to make my excuse, I’ll return to my
72Oh, fie, Sir Wilfull! What, you must not be daunted.
73Daunted! No, that’s not it. It is not so much for that; for if
74so be that I set on’t, I’ll do’t. But only for the present; ’tis
75sufficient till further acquaintance, that’s all. Your servant.
76Nay, I’ll swear you shall never lose so favorable an opportunity,
77if I can help it. I’ll leave you together and lock the
79Nay, nay, cousin. I have forgot my gloves. What d’ye do?
80’Sheart, ’a has locked the door indeed, I think. Nay, Cousin
81Fainall, open the door! Pshaw, what a vixen trick is this?
82Nay, now ’a has seen me too. Cousin, I made bold to pass
83through as it were. I think this door’s enchanted!
I prithee spare me, gentle boy,
Press me no more for that slight toy—
86Anan? Cousin, your servant.
That foolish trifle of a heart—
89Yes. Your servant. No offense, I hope, cousin.
I swear it will not do its part,
Though thou dost thine, employ’st thy power and art.
92Natural, easy Suckling!
93Anan? Suckling? No such suckling neither, cousin, nor
94stripling; I thank heaven, I’m no minor.
95Ah, rustic! ruder than Gothic!
96Well, well, I shall understand your lingo one of these days,
97cousin; in the meanwhile, I must answer in plain English.
98Have you any business with me, Sir Wilfull?
99Not at present, cousin. Yes, I made bold to see, to come and
100know if that how you were disposed to fetch a walk this
101evening, if so be that I might not be troublesome, I would
102have fought a walk with you.
103A walk! What then?
104Nay, nothing. Only for the walk’s sake, that’s all.
105I nauseate walking; ’tis a country diversion. I loathe the
106country and everything that relates to it.
107Indeed! Ha! Look ye, look ye, you do? Nay, ’tis like you
108may. Here are choice of pastimes here in town, as plays and
109the like; that must be confessed indeed.
110Ah, l’étourdie! I hate the town too.
111Dear heart, that’s much. Ha! that you should hate ’em both!
112Ha! ’tis like you may; there are some can’t relish the town,
113and others can’t away with the country. ’Tis like you may
114be one of those, cousin.
115Ha! ha! ha! Yes, ’tis like I may. You have nothing further
116to say to me?
117Not at present, cousin. ’Tis like when I have an opportunity
118to be more private, I may break my mind in some measure.
119I conjecture you partly guess. —However, that’s as time shall
120try; but spare to speak and spare to speed, as they say.
121If it is of no great importance, Sir Wilfull, you will oblige
122me to leave me; I have just now a little business—
123Enough, enough, cousin, yes, yes, all a case; when you’re
124disposed, when you’re disposed. Now’s as well as another
125time; and another time as well as now. All’s one for that.
126Yes, yes, if your concerns call you, there’s no haste; it will
127keep cold, as they say. Cousin, your servant. I think this
129You may go this way, sir.
130Your servant; then with your leave I’ll return to my
132Aye, aye; ha! ha! ha!
Like Phoebus sung the no less amorous boy.
Like Daphne she, as lovely and as coy.
135Do you lock yourself up from me, to make my search more
136curious? Or is this pretty artifice contrived, to signify that
137here the chase must end and my pursuit be crowned, for
138you can fly no further?
139Vanity! No. I’ll fly and be followed to the last moment.
140Though I am upon the very verge of matrimony, I expect
141you should solicit me as much as if I were wavering at the
142grate of a monastery, with one foot over the threshold. I’ll
143be solicited to the very last, nay and afterwards.
144What, after the last?
145Oh, I should think I was poor and had nothing to bestow,
146if I were reduced to an inglorious ease and freed from the
147agreeable fatigues of solicitation.
148But do not you know that when favors are conferred upon
149instant and tedious solicitation, that they diminish in their
150value, and that both the giver loses the grace, and the
151receiver lessens his pleasure?
152It may be in things of common application; but never sure in
153love. Oh, I hate a lover that can dare to think he draws a
154moment’s air independent on the bounty of his mistress.
155There is not so impudent a thing in nature as the saucy look
156of an assured man, confident of success. The pedantic
157arrogance of a very husband has not so pragmatical an air.
158Ah! I’ll never marry, unless I am first made sure of my will
160Would you have ’em both before marriage? Or will you be
161contented with the first now, and stay for the other till after
163Ah! don’t be impertinent. —My dear liberty, shall I leave
164thee? My faithful solitude, my darling contemplation, must
165I bid you then adieu? Ay-h adieu—my morning thoughts,
166agreeable wakings, indolent slumbers, all ye douceurs, ye
167sommeils du matin, adieu? —I can’t do’t, ’tis more than
168impossible. Positively, Mirabell, I’ll lie abed in a morning as
169long as I please.
170Then I’ll get up in a morning as early as I please.
171Ah! Idle creature, get up when you will. —And d’ye hear,
172I won’t be called names after I’m married; positively I won’t
173be called names.
175Aye, as wife, spouse, my dear, joy jewel, love, sweetheart,
176and the rest of that nauseous cant, in which men and their
177wives are so fulsomely familiar—I shall never bear that.
178—Good Mirabell, don’t let us be familiar or fond, nor kiss
179before folks, like my Lady Fadler and Sir Francis; nor go
180to Hyde Park together the first Sunday in a new chariot, to
181provoke eyes and whispers; and then never to be seen there
182together again; as if we were proud of one another the
183first week, and ashamed of one another ever after. Let us
184never visit together, nor go to a play together. But let us be
185very strange and well-bred; let us be as strange as if we had
186been married a great while, and as well-bred as if we were
187not married at all.
188Have you any more condition to offer? Hitherto your
189demands are pretty reasonable.
190Trifles! —As liberty to pay and receive visits to and from
191whom I please; to write and receive letters, without interrogatories
192or wry faces on your part; to wear what I please;
193and choose conversation with regard only to my own taste;
194to have no obligation upon me to converse with wits that
195I don’t like, because they are your acquaintance; or to be
196intimate with fools, because they may be your relations.
197Come to dinner when I please; dine in my dressing room
198when I’m out of humor, without giving a reason. To have my
199closet inviolate; to be sole empress of my tea table, which
200you must never presume to approach without first asking
201leave. And lastly, wherever I am, you shall always knock at
202the door before you come in. These articles subscribed, if
203I continue to endure you a little longer, I may by degrees
204dwindle into a wife.
205Your bill of fare is something advanced in this latter
206account. Well, have I liberty to offer conditions—that
207when you are dwindled into a wife, I may not be beyond
208measure enlarged into a husband?
209You have free leave. Propose your utmost; speak and spare
211I thank you. Imprimis then, I covenant that your acquain-
212tance be general; that you admit no sworn confidante, or
213intimate of your own sex; no she-friend to screen her affairs
214under your countenance, and tempt you to make trial of a
215mutual secrecy. No decoy-duck to wheedle you a fop,
216scrambling to the play in a mask; then bring you home in
217a pretended fright, when you think you shall be found out,
218and rail at me for missing the play, and disappointing the
219frolic which you had, to pick me up and prove my constancy.
220Detestable imprimis! I go to the play in a mask!
221Item, I article that you continue to like your own face as
222long as I shall; and while it passes current with me, that
223you endeavor not to new-coin it. To which end, together
224with all vizards for the day, I prohibit all masks for the
225night, made of oiled skins and I know now what—hog’s
226bones, hare’s gall, pig-water, and the marrow of a roasted
227cat. In short, I forbid all commerce with the gentlewoman in
228What-d’ye-call-it Court. Item, I shut my doors against all
229bawds with baskets, and pennyworths of muslin, china,
230fans, atlases, etc. —Item, when you shall be breeding—
231Ah! name it not.
232Which may be presumed, with a blessing on our
235I denounce against all strait-lacing, squeezing for a shape,
236till you mold my boy’s head like a sugar loaf, and instead
237of a man-child, make me the father to a crooked billet.
238Lastly, to the dominion of the tea table I submit, but with
239proviso, that you exceed not in your province, but restrain
240yourself to native and simple tea-table drinks, as tea,
241chocolate, and coffee. As likewise to genuine and authorized
242tea-table talk—such as mending of fashions, spoiling reputations,
243railing at absent friend, and so forth; but that on
244no account you encroach upon the men’s prerogative, and
245presume to drink healths, or toast fellows; for prevention of
246which, I banish all foreign forces, all auxiliaries to the tea
247table, as orange brandy, all aniseed, cinnamon, citron, and
248Barbadoes waters, together with ratafia and the most
249noble spirit of clary. But for cowslip-wine, poppy-water, and
250all dormitives, those I allow. These provisos admitted, in
251other things I may prove a tractable and complying
253Oh, horrid provisos! filthy strong waters! I toast fellows,
254odious men! I hate your odious provisos.
255Then we’re agreed. Shall I kiss your hand upon the
256contract? And here comes one to be a witness to the sealing
257of the deed.
Enter Mrs. Fainall.
258Fainall, what shall I do? Shall I have him? I think I
259must have him.
260Aye, aye, take him, take him, what should you do?
261Well then—I’ll take my death I’m in a horrid fright—
262Fainall, I shall never say it—well—I think—I’ll endure you.
263Fie, fie! have him, have him, and tell him so in plain terms;
264for I am sure you have a mind to him.
265Are you? I think I have—and the horrid man looks as if he
266thought so too. —Well, you ridiculous thing you, I’ll have
267you—I won’t be kissed, nor I won’t be thanked—here, kiss
268my hand though. —So, hold your tongue now, and don’t
269say a word.
270Mirabell, there’s a necessity for your obedience; you have
271neither time to talk nor stay. My mother is coming; and in
272my conscience, if she should see you, would fall into fits and
273maybe not recover, time enough to return to Sir Rowland,
274who, as Foible tells me, is in a fair way to succeed. Therefore
275spare your ecstasies for another occasion, and slip down the
276backstairs, where Foible waits to consult you.
277Aye, go, go. In the meantime I suppose you have said
278something to please me.
279I am all obedience.
280Yonder Sir Wilfull’s drunk, and so noisy that my mother
281has been forced to leave Sir Rowland to appease him; but
282he answers her only with singing and drinking. What they
283have done by this time I know not; but Petulant and he
284were quarreling as I came by.
285Well, if Mirabell should not make a good husband, I am a
286lost thing—for I find I love him violently.
287So it seems, when you mind not what’s said to you. If you
288doubt him, you had best take up with Sir Wilfull.
289How can you name that superannuated lubber? foh!
Enter Witwoud from drinking.
290So, is the fray made up, that you have left ’em?
291Left ’em? I could stay no longer. I have laughed like ten
292christenings; I am tipsy with laughing. If I had stayed any
293longer I should have burst; I must have been let out and
294pieced in the sides like an unsized camlet. Yes, yes, the fray
295is composed; my lady came in like a nolle prosequi and stopped
297What was the dispute?
298That’s the jest; there was no dispute. They could neither of
299’em speak for rage, and so fell a-sputtering at one another
300like two roasting apples.
Enter Petulant drunk.
301Now Petulant, all’s over, all’s well. Gad, my head begins
302to whim it about. Why dost thou not speak? Thou art both
303as drunk and as mute as a fish.
304Look you, Mrs. Millamant, if you can love me, dear nymph,
305say it, and that’s the conclusion. Pass on, or pass off; that’s
307Thou hast uttered volumes, folios, in less than decimo sexto,
308my dear Lacedemonian. Sirrah Petulant, thou art an epito-
309mizer of words.
310Witwoud, you are an annihilator of sense.
311Thou art a retailer of phrases and dost deal in remnants
312of remnants, like a maker of pincushions; thou art in truth
313(metaphorically speaking) a speaker of shorthand.
314Thou art (without a figure) just one half of an ass, and
315Baldwin yonder, thy half brother, is the rest. A gemini of
316asses split would make just four of you.
317Thou dost bite, my dear mustard seed; kiss me for that.
318Stand off! I’ll kiss no more males. I have kissed your twin
319yonder in humor of reconciliation, till he
321upon my stomach like a radish.
322Eh! filthy creature! What was the quarrel?
323There was no quarrel; there might have been a quarrel.
324If there had been words enow between ’em to have ex-
325pressed provocation, they had gone together by the ears
326like a pair of castanets.
327You were the quarrel.
329If I have a humor to quarrel, I can make less matters
330conclude premises. If you are not handsome, what then,
331if I have a humor to prove it? If I shall have my reward,
332say so; if not, fight for your face the next time yourself.
333I’ll go sleep.
334Do, wrap thyself up like a wood louse, and dream revenge;
335and hear me, if thou canst learn to write by tomorrow
336morning, pen me a challenge. I’ll carry it for thee.
337Carry your mistress’s monkey a spider! Go flea dogs, and
338read romances! I’ll go to bed to my maid.
339He’s horridly drunk. How came you all in this pickle?
340A plot! a plot! to get rid of the knight. Your husband’s
341advice; but he sneaked off.
Enter Lady Wishfort, and Sir Wilfull drunk.
342Out upon’t, out upon’t! At years of discretion, and comport
343yourself at this rantipole rate!
344No offense, aunt.
345Offense? As I’m a person, I’m ashamed of you—foh! how
346you stink of wine! D’ye think my niece will ever endure
347such a borachio! you’re an absolute borachio.
349At a time when you should commence an amour and put
350your best foot foremost—
351’Sheart, an you grutch me your liquor, make a bill. Give me
352more drink, and take my purse.
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.
359But if you would have me marry my cousin, say the word,
360and I’ll do’t. Wilfull will do’t; that’s the word. Wilfull will
361do’t; that’s my crest. My motto I have forgot.
362My nephew’s a little overtaken, cousin, but ’tis with
363drinking your health. O’ my word you are obligated to him.
364In vino veritas, aunt. If I drunk your health today, cousin,
365I am a borachio. But if you have a mind to be married, say
366the word, and send for the piper; Wilfull will do’t. If not,
367dust it away, and let’s have t’other round. —Tony! —Ods-
368heart, where’s Tony? —Tony’s an honest fellow; but he
369spits after a bumper, and that’s a fault.
We’ll drink, and we’ll never ha’ done, boys,
Put the glass then around with the sun, boys;
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.
376The sun’s a good pimple, an honest soaker; he has a cellar
377at your Antipodes. If I travel, aunt, I touch at your Anti-
378podes; your Antipodes are a good, rascally sort of topsy-
379turvy fellows. If I had a bumper, I’d stand upon my head
380and drink a health to ’em. A match, or no match, cousin with
381the hard name? Aunt, Wilfull will do’t. If she has her
382maidenhead, let her look to’t; if she has not, let her keep
383her own counsel in the meantime, and cry out at the nine
385Your pardon, madam, I can stay no longer. Sir Wilfull
386grows very powerful. Egh! how he smells! I shall be overcome
387if I stay. Come, cousin.
Exeunt Millamant and Mrs. Fainall.
388Smells! he would poison a tallow chandler and his family.
389Beastly creature, I know not what to do with him! Travel,
390quotha! aye, travel, travel, get thee gone, get thee but far
391enough, to the Saracens, or the Tartars, or the Turks, for
392thou art not fit to live in a Christian commonwealth, thou
394Turks, no; no Turks, aunt; your Turks are infidels, and
395believe not in the grape. Your Mahometan, your Mussulman,
396is a dry stinkard. No offense, aunt. My map says that
397your Turk is not so honest a man as your Christian. I
398cannot find by the map that your Mufti is orthodox; whereby
399it is a plain case that orthodox is a hard word, aunt,
(hiccup) Greek for claret.
To drink is a Christian diversion,
Unknown to the Turk and 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!
Enter Foible, and whispers Lady Wishfort.
410[aside to Foible] Sir Rowland impatient? Good lack! what shall I do with this
[Aloud.] Go lie down and sleep, you
412sot! or, as I’m a person, I’ll have you bastinadoed with
413broomsticks. Call up the wenches.
414Ahey! Wenches, where are the wenches?
415Dear Cousin Witwoud, get him away, and you will bind
416me to you inviolably. I have an affair of moment that
417invades me with some precipitation. You will oblige me to
419Come, knight. Pox on him, I don’t know what to say to
420him. Will you go to a cock-match?
421With a wench, Tony? Is she a shake-bag, Sirrah? Let me
422bite your cheek for that.
423Horrible! He has a breath like a bagpipe! Aye, aye, come,
424will you march, my Salopian?
425Lead on, little Tony; I’ll follow thee, my Anthony, my
426Tantony. Sirrah, thou shalt be my Tantony, and I’ll be thy
428And a fig for your sultan and sophy.
Exit singing with Witwoud.
429This will never do. It will never make a match—at least
430before he has been abroad.
Enter Waitwell, disguised as for Sir Rowland.
431Dear Sir Rowland, I am confounded with confusion at the
432retrospection of my own rudeness! I have more pardons to
433ask than the Pope distributes in the Year of Jubilee. But I
434hope, where there is likely to be so near an alliance, we
435may unbend the severity of decorum and dispense with a
437My impatience, madam, is the effect of my transport;
438and till I have the possession of your adorable person, I am
439tantalized on a rack, and do but hang, madam, on the
440tenter of expectation.
441You have an excess of gallantry, Sir Rowland, and press
442things to a conclusion with a most prevailing vehemence.
443But a day or two for decency of marriage—
444For decency of funeral, madam! The delay will break
445my heart; or, if that should fail, I shall be poisoned. My
446nephew will get an inkling of my designs and poison me;
447and I would willingly starve him before I die; I would
448gladly go out of the world with that satisfaction. That
449would be some comfort to me, if I could but live so long as
450to be revenged on that unnatural viper.
451Is he so unnatural, say you? Truly I would contribute much
452both to the saving of your life, and the accomplishment of
453your revenge. Not that I respect myself, though he has been
454a perfidious wretch to me.
455Perfidious to you!
456O Sir Rowland, the hours that he has died away at my feet,
457the tears that he has shed, the oaths that he has sworn, the
458palpitations that he has felt, the trances and the tremblings,
459the ardors and the ecstasies, the kneelings and the risings,
460the heart-heavings, and the hand-grippings, the pangs and
461the pathetic regards of his protesting eyes! Oh, no memory
463What, my rival! Is the rebel my rival? ’A dies.
464No, don’t kill him at once, Sir Rowland; starve him
465gradually, inch by inch.
466I’ll do’t. In three weeks he shall be barefoot; in a month
467out at knees with begging an alms. He shall starve upward
468and upward, till he has nothing living but his head, and
469then go out in a stink like a candle’s end upon a save-all.
470Well, Sir Rowland, you have the way. You are no novice in
471the labyrinth of love; you have the clue. But as I am a person,
472Sir Rowland, you must not attribute my yielding to any
473sinister appetite, or indigestion of widowhood; nor impute
474my complacency to any lethargy of continence. I hope you
475do not think me prone to any iteration of nuptials.
476Far be it from me—
477If you do, I protest I must recede, or think that I have
478made a prostitution of decorums; but in the vehemence of
479compassion, and to save the life of a person of so much
481I esteem it so.
482Or else you wrong my condescension.
483I do not, I do not!
484Indeed you do.
485I do not, fair shrine of virtue!
486If you think the least scruple of carnality was an ingredient—
487Dear madam, no. You are all camphire and frankincense,
488all chastity and odor.
490Madam, the dancers are ready, and there’s one with a
491letter, who must deliver it into your own hands.
492Sir Rowland, will you give me leave? Think favorably,
493judge candidly, and conclude you have found a person who
494would suffer racks in honor’s cause, dear Sir Rowland, and
495will wait on you incessantly.
496Fie, fie! What a slavery have I undergone! Spouse, hast
497thou any cordial? I want spirits.
498What a washy rogue art thou, to pant thus for a quarter of
499an hour’s lying and swearing to a fine lady!
500Oh, she is the antidote to desire! Spouse, thou wilt fare the
501worse for’t. I shall have no appetite to iteration of nuptials
502this eight-and-forty hours. By this hand I’d rather be a
503chairman in the dog-days than act Sir Rowland till this
Enter Lady Wishfort, with a letter.
505Call in the dancers. Sir Rowland, we’ll sit, if you please,
506and see the entertainment.
507Now, with your permission, Sir Rowland, I will peruse my
508letter. I would open it in your presence, because I would
509not make you uneasy. If it should make you uneasy, I would
510burn it. Speak, if it does. But you may see by the super-
511scription it is like a woman’s hand.
512[aside to Waitwell] By heaven! Mrs. Marwood’s; I know it. My heart aches.
Get it from her.
514A woman’s hand? No, madam, that’s no woman’s hand;
I see that already. That’s somebody whose throat must be
517Nay, Sir Rowland, since you give me a proof of your
518passion by your jealousy, I promise you I’ll make you a
519return, by a frank communication. You shall see it; we’ll
520open it together. Look you here.
( Reads.) “Madam,
521though unknown to you”—Look you there, ’tis from nobody
522that I know—“I have that honor for your character, that
523I think myself obliged to let you know you are abused. He
524who pretends to be Sir Rowland is a cheat and a rascal.”
525—Oh, heavens! what’s this?
526Unfortunate! all’s ruined!
527How, how, let me see, let me see!
( Reading.) “A rascal,
528and disguised and suborned for that imposture.” —O
529villainy! O villainy —“by the contrivance of—”
530I shall faint, I shall die, I shall die, oh!
531[aside to Waitwell] Say ’tis your nephew’s hand. Quickly, his plot, swear,
533Here’s a villain! Madam, don’t you perceive it? don’t you
535Too well, too well! I have seen too much.
536I told you at first I knew the hand. A woman’s hand? The
537rascal writes a sort of a large hand, your Roman hand.
538I saw there was a throat to be cut presently. If he were my
539son, as he is my nephew, I’d pistol him!
540Oh, treachery! But are you sure, Sir Rowland, it is his
542Sure? Am I here? Do I live? Do I love this pearl of India?
543I have twenty letters in my pocket from him in the same
546Oh, what luck it is, Sir Rowland, that you were present at
547this juncture! This was the business that brought Mr.
548Mirabell disguised to Madam Millamant this afternoon.
549I thought something was contriving, when he stole by me
550and would have hid his face.
551How, how! I heard the villain was in the house indeed;
552and now I remember, my niece went away abruptly, when
553Sir Wilfull was to have made his addresses.
554Then, then, madam, Mr. Mirabell waited for her in her
555chamber, but I would not tell your ladyship to discompose
556you when you were to receive Sir Rowland.
557Enough, his date is short.
558No, good Sir Rowland, don’t incur the law.
559Law? I care not for law. I can but die, and ’tis in a good
560cause. My lady shall be satisfied of my truth and innocence,
561though it cost me my life.
562No, dear Sir Rowland, don’t fight; if you should be killed, I
563must never show my face; of hanged—oh, consider my
564reputation, Sir Rowland! No, you shan’t fight. I’ll go in and
565examine my niece; I’ll make her confess. I conjure you,
566Sir Rowland, by all your love, not to fight.
567I am charmed, madam; I obey. But some proof you must
568let me give you; I’ll go for a black box, which contains the
569writings of my whole estate, and deliver that into your hands.
570Aye, dear Sir Rowland, that will be some comfort; bring the
572And may I presume to bring a contract to be signed this
573night? May I hope so far?
574Bring what you will; but come alive, pray come alive. Oh,
575this is a happy discovery!
576Dead or alive I’ll come, and married we will be in spite of
577treachery; aye, and get an heir that shall defeat the last
578remaining glimpse of hope in my abandoned nephew.
579Come, my buxom widow.
Ere long you shall substantial proof receive
That I’m an arrant knight—
[aside to Waitwell]Or arrant knave.
Enter Lady Wishfort and Foible.
1Out of my house, out of my house, thou viper! thou serpent,
2that I have fostered! thou bosom traitress that I raised
3from nothing! Begone! begone! begone! go! go! That I
4took from washing of old gauze and weaving of dead hair,
5with a bleak blue nose, over a chafing dish of starved embers,
6and dining behind a traverse rag, in a shop no bigger than a
7birdcage! Go, go! starve again, do, do!
8Dear madam, I’ll beg pardon on my knees.
9Away! out! out! Go set up for yourself again! Do, drive a
10trade, do, with your three-pennyworth of small ware,
11flaunting upon a pack-thread, under a brandy-seller’s bulk,
12or against a dead wall by a ballad-monger! Go, hang out an
13old frisoneer gorget, with a yard of yellow colberteen again.
14Do! an old gnawed mask, two rows of pins, and a child’s
15fiddle; a glass necklace with the beads broken, and a
16quilted nightcap with one ear. Go, go, drive a trade! These
17were your commodities, you treacherous trull! This was you
18merchandise you dealt in, when I took you into my house,
19placed you next myself, and made you governante of my
20whole family! You have forgot this, have you, now you have
21feathered your nest?
22No, no, dear madam. Do but hear me; have but a moment’s
23patience. I’ll confess all. Mr. Mirabell seduced me; I am
24not the first that he has wheedled with his dissembling
25tongue. Your ladyship’s own wisdom has been deluded by
26him; then how should I, a poor ignorant, defend myself?
27O madam, if you knew but what he promised me, and how
28he assured me your ladyship should come to no damage!
29Or else the wealth of the Indies should not have bribed me
30to conspire against so good, so sweet, so kind a lady as you
31have been to me.
32No damage? What, to betray me, to marry me to a cast
33servingman? to make me a receptacle, an hospital for a de-
34cayed pimp? No damage? O thou frontless impudence,
35more than a big-bellied actress.
36Pray do but hear me, madam; he could not marry your
37ladyship, madam. No indeed; his marriage was to have been
38void in law, for he was married to me first, to secure your
39ladyship. He could not have bedded your ladyship; for if he
40had consummated with your ladyship, he must have run
41the risk of the law and been put upon his clergy. Yes
42indeed; I inquired of the law in that case before I would
43meddle or make.
44What, then I have been your property, have I? I have been
45convenient to you, it seems! While you were catering for
46Mirabell, I have been broker for you? What, have you made
47a passive bawd of me? This exceeds all precedent; I am
48brought to fine uses, to become a botcher of secondhand
49marriages between Abigails and Andrews! I’ll couple you!
50Yes, I’ll baste you together, you and your Philander! I’ll
51Duke’s Place you, as I’m a person! Your turtle is in custody
52already; you shall coo in the same cage, if there be constable
53or warrant in the parish.
54Oh, that ever I was born! Oh, that I was ever married!
55A bride! aye, I shall be a Bridewell-bride. Oh!
Enter Mrs. Fainall.
56Poor Foible, what’s the matter?
57O madam, my lady’s gone for a constable. I shall be had
58to a justice, and put to Bridewell to beat hemp. Poor
59Waitwell’s gone to prison already.
60Have a good heart, Foible; Mirabell’s gone to give
61security for him. This is all Marwood’s and my husband’s
63Yes, yes, I know it, madam; she was in my lady’s closet, and
64overheard all that you said to me before dinner. She sent
65the letter to my lady; and that missing effect, Mr. Fainall
66laid this plot to arrest Waitwell, when he pretended to go
67for the papers; and in the meantime Mrs. Marwood de-
68clared all to my lady.
69Was there no mention made of me in the letter? My
70mother does not suspect my being in the confederacy? I
71fancy Marwood has not told her, though she has told my
73Yes, madam; but my lady did not see that part. We stifled
74the letter before she read so far. Has that mischievous devil
75told Mr. Fainall of your ladyship then?
76Aye, all’s out, my affair with Mirabell, everything discovered.
77This is the last day of our living together; that’s
79Indeed, madam, and so ’tis a comfort if you knew all.
80He has been even with your ladyship; which I could have
81told you long enough since, but I love to keep peace and
82quietness by my good will. I had rather bring friends
83together than set ’em at distance. But Mrs. Marwood and
84he are nearer related than ever their parents thought for.
85Say’st thou so, Foible? Canst thou prove this?
86I can take my oath of it, madam; so can Mrs. Mincing.
87We have had many a fair word from Madam Marwood, to
88conceal something that passed in our chamber one evening
89when you were at Hyde Park and we were thought to have
90gone a-walking; but we went up unawares, though we were
91sworn to secrecy too. Madam Marwood took a book and
92swore us upon it, but it was a book of verses and poems. So
93as long as it was not a Bible oath, we may break it with a
95This discovery is the most opportune thing I could wish.
97My lady would speak with Mrs. Foible, mem. Mr. Mirabell
98is with her; he has set your spouse al liberty, Mrs. Foible,
99and would have you hide yourself in my lady’s closet till my
100old lady’s anger is abated. Oh, my old lady is in a perilous
101passion at something Mr. Fainall has said; he swears, and
102my old lady cries. There’s a fearful hurricane, I vow. He
103says, mem, how that he’ll have my lady’s fortune made
104over to him, or he’ll be divorced.
105Does your lady or Mirabell know that?
106Yes, mem; they have sent me to see if Sir Wilfull be sober
107and to bring him to them. My lady is resolved to have him,
108I think, rather than lose such a vast sum as six thousand
109pound. Oh, come, Mrs. Foible, I hear my old lady.
110Foible, you must tell Mincing that she must prepare to vouch
111when I call her.
112Yes, yes, madam.
113O yes, mem, I’ll vouch anything for your ladyship’s service,
114be what it will.
Exeunt Mincing and Foible.
Enter Lady Wishfort and Marwood.
115O my dear friend, how can I enumerate the benefits that
116I have received from your goodness? To you I owe the
117timely discovery of the false vows of Mirabell; to you the
118detection of the imposter Sir Rowland. And now you are
119become an intercessor with my son-in-law, to save the honor
120of my house, and compound for the frailties of my daughter.
121Well, friend, you are enough to reconcile me to the bad
122world, or else I would retire to deserts and solitudes, and
123feed harmless sheep by groves and purling streams. Dear
124Marwood, let us leave the world, and retire by ourselves and
126Let us first dispatch the affair in hand, madam. We shall
127have leisure to think of retirement afterwards. Here is one
128who is concerned in the treaty.
129O daughter, daughter, is it possible thou shouldst be my
130child, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, and, as I may
131say, another me, and yet transgress the most minute
132particle of severe virtue? It is possible you should lean aside
133to iniquity, who have been cast in the direct mold of virtue?
134I have not only been a mold but a pattern for you, and a
135model for you, after you were brought into the world.
136I don’t understand your ladyship.
137Not understand? Why, have you not been naught? Have
138you not been sophisticated? Not understand? Here I am
139ruined to compound for your caprices and your cuckoldoms.
140I must pawn my plate and my jewels, and ruin my niece, and
141all little enough.
142I am wronged and abused, and so are you. ’Tis a false
143accusation, as false as hell, as false as your friend there, aye,
144or your friend’s friend, my false husband.
145My friend, Mrs. Fainall? Your husband my friend? What
146do you mean?
147I know what I mean, madam, and so do you; and so shall
148the world at a time convenient.
149I am sorry to see you so passionate, madam. More temper
150would look more like innocence. But I have done. I am
151sorry my zeal to serve your ladyship and family should admit
152of misconstruction, or make me liable to affronts. You will
153pardon me, madam, if I meddle no more with an affair in
154which I am not personally concerned.
155O dear friend, I am so ashamed that you should meet with
[To Mrs. Fainall.] You ought to ask pardon
157on your knees, ungrateful creature; she deserves more from
158you than all your life can accomplish.
[To Mrs. Marwood.]
159Oh, don’t leave me destitute in this perplexity! No, stick to
160me, my good genius.
161I tell you, madam, you’re abused. Stick to you? Aye, like a
162leech, to suck your best blood; she’ll drop off when she’s
163full. Madam, you shan’t pawn a bodkin, nor part with a
164brass counter, in composition for me. I defy ’em all. Let ’em
165prove their aspersions; I know my own innocence, and dare
166stand by a trial.
167Why, if she should be innocent, if she should be wronged
168after all, ha? I don’t know what to think—and, I promise
169you, her education has been unexceptionable. I may say it;
170for I chiefly made it my own care to initiate her very infancy
171in the rudiments of virtue, and to impress upon her tender
172years a young odium and aversion to the very sight of
173men—aye, friend, she would ha’ shrieked if she had but seen
174a man, till she was in her teens. As I’m a person, ’tis true.
175She was never suffered to play with a male child, though but
176in coats; nay, her very babies were of the feminine gender.
177Oh, she never looked a man in the face but her own father,
178or the chaplain, and him we made a shift to put upon her for
179a woman, by the help of his long garments and his sleek face,
180till she was going in her fifteen.
181’Twas much she should be deceived so long.
182I warrant you, or she would never have borne to have been
183catechized by him; and have heard his long lectures against
184singing and dancing, and such debaucheries; and going to
185filthy plays, and profane music-meetings, where the lewd
186trebles squeak nothing but bawdy, and the basses roar
187blasphemy. Oh, she would have swooned at the sight or
188name of an obscene playbook! And can I think, after all
189this, that my daughter can be naught? What, a whore?
190And thought it excommunication to set her foot within
191the door of a playhouse! O my dear friend, I can’t believe
192it, no, no! As she says, let him prove it, let him prove it.
193Prove it, madam? What, and have your name prostituted in
194a public court! Yours and your daughter’s reputation wor-
195ried at the bar by a pack of bawling lawyers! To be ushered
196in with an Oyez of scandal, and have your case opened by an
197old fumbling lecher in a quoif like a man midwife; to
198bring your daughter’s infamy to light; to be a theme for
199legal punsters and quibblers by the statute, and become
200a jest against a rule of court, where there is no precedent
201for a jest in any record, not even in Doomsday Book; to
202discompose the gravity of the bench, and provoke naughty
203interrogatories in more naughty law Latin, while the
204good judge, tickled with the proceeding, simpers under a
205gray beard, and fidges off and on his cushion as if he had
206swallowed cantharides, or sat upon cow-itch.
207Oh, ’tis very hard!
208And then to have my young revelers of the Temple take
209notes, like prentices at a conventicle; and after, talk it all
210over again in commons, or before drawers in an eating
212Worse and worse!
213Nay, this is nothing; if it would end here, ’twere well. But
214it must, after this, be consigned by the shorthand writers
215to the public press; and from thence be transferred to the
216hands, nay into the throats and lungs of hawkers, with
217voice more licentious than the loud flounder-man’s, or
218the woman that cries gray peas. And this you must hear till
219you are stunned; nay, you must hear nothing else for some
221Oh, ’tis insupportable! No, no, dear friend; make it up,
222make it up; aye, aye, I’ll compound. I’ll give up all, myself
223and my all, my niece and her all, anything, everything for
225Nay, madam, I advise nothing; I only lay before you, as a
226friend, the inconveniences which perhaps you have over-
227seen. Here comes Mr. Fainall. If he will be satisfied to
228huddle up all in silence, I shall be glad. You must think I
229would rather congratulate than condole with you.
230Aye, aye, I do not doubt it, dear Marwood; no, no, I do
231not doubt it.
232Well, madam, I have suffered myself to be overcome by the
233importunity of this lady your friend, and am content that
234you shall enjoy your own proper estate during life, on
235condition you oblige yourself never to marry, under such
236penalty as I think convenient.
237Never to marry?
238No more Sir Rowlands; the next imposture may not be so
240That condition, I dare answer, my lady will consent to,
241without difficulty; she has already but too much experienced
242the perfidiousness of men. Besides, madam, when we retire
243to our pastoral solitude, we shall bid adieu to all other
245Aye, that’s true; but in case of necessity, as of health, or
246some such emergency—
247Oh, if you are prescribed marriage, you shall be considered;
248I will only reserve to myself the power to choose for you.
249If your physic be wholesome, it matters not who is your
250apothecary. Next, my wife shall settle on me the remainder
251of her fortune, not made over already; and for her maintenance
252depend entirely on my discretion.
253This is most inhumanly savage, exceeding the barbarity of
254a Muscovite husband.
255I learned it from his Czarish majesty’s retinue, in a winter
256evening’s conference over brandy and pepper, amongst other
257secrets of matrimony and policy, as they are at present
258practiced in the northern hemisphere. But this must be
259agreed unto, and that positively. Lastly, I will be endowed,
260in right of my wife, with that six thousand pound,
261which is the moiety of Mrs. Millamant’s fortune in your
262possession; and which she has forfeited (as will appear by the
263last will and testament of your deceased husband, Sir
264Jonathan Wishfort) by her disobedience in contracting
265herself against your consent or knowledge, and by refusing
266the offered match with Sir Wilfull Witwoud, which you,
267like a careful aunt, had provided for her.
268My nephew was non compos, and could not make his
270I come to make demands. I’ll hear no objections.
271You will grant me time to consider?
272Yes, while the instrument is drawing, to which you must
273set your hand till more sufficient deeds can be perfected;
274which I will take care shall be done with all possible speed.
275In the meanwhile, I will go for the said instrument, and
276till my return you may balance this matter in your own
278This insolence is beyond all precedent, all parallel. Must
279I be subject to this merciless villain?
280’Tis severe indeed, madam, that you should smart for
281your daughter’s wantonness.
282’Twas against my consent that she married this barbarian,
283but she would have him, though her year was not out.
284—Ah! her first husband, my son Languish, would not have
285carried it thus. Well, that was my choice, this is hers; she
286is matched now with a witness. I shall be mad! Dear
287friend, is there no comfort for me? Must I live to be confiscated
288at this rebel rate? —Here come two more of my
289Egyptian plagues, too.
Enter Millamant and Sir Wilfull Witwoud.
290Aunt, your servant.
291Out, caterpillar, call me not aunt! I know thee not!
292I confess I have been a little in disguise, as they say.
293’Sheart! and I’m sorry for’t. What would you have? I hope
294I committed no offense, aunt, and, if I did, I am willing to
295make satisfaction; and what can a man say fairer? If I
296have broke anything, I’ll pay for’t, an it cost a pound. And
297so let that content for what’s past, and make no more
298words. For what’s to come, to pleasure you I’m willing to
299marry my cousin. So pray let’s all be friends; she and I are
300agreed upon the matter before a witness.
301How’s this, dear niece? Have I any comfort? Can this
303I am content to be a sacrifice to your repose, madam; and
304to convince you that I had no hand in the plot, as you
305were misinformed, I have laid my commands on Mirabell
306to come in person, and be a witness that I give my hand
307to this flower of knighthood; and for the contract that
308passed between Mirabell and me, I have obliged him to
309make a resignation of it in your ladyship’s presence. He is
310without, and waits your leave for admittance.
311Well, I’ll swear I am something revived at this testimony of
312your obedience; but I cannot admit that traitor. I fear I
313cannot fortify myself to support his appearance. He is as
314terrible to me as a Gorgon; if I see him, I fear I shall turn to
315stone, petrify incessantly.
316If you disoblige him, he may resent your refusal and insist
317upon the contract still. Then ’tis the last time he will be
318offensive to you.
319Are you sure it will be the last time? If I were sure of that!
320Shall I never see him again?
321Sir Wilfull, you and he are to travel together, are you not?
322’Sheart, the gentleman’s a civil gentleman, aunt; let him
323come in. Why, we are sworn brothers and fellow travelers.
324We are to be Pylades and Orestes, he and I. He is to be my
325interpreter in foreign parts. He has been overseas once
326already; and with proviso that I marry my cousin, will cross
327’em once again, only to bear me company. ’Sheart, I’ll call
328him in. An I set on’t once, he shall come in; and see who’ll
330This is precious fooling, if it would pass; but I’ll know the
331bottom of it.
332O dear Marwood, you are not going?
333Not far, madam; I’ll return immediately.
Re-enter Sir Wilfull and Mirabell.
334Look up, man, I’ll stand by you; ’sbud an she do frown,
335she can’t kill you; besides—harkee, she dare not frown
336desperately, because her face is none of her own. ’Sheart,
337an she should, her forehead would wrinkle like the coat of a
338cream cheese; but mum for that, fellow traveler.
339If a deep sense of the many injuries I have offered to so good
340a lady, with a sincere remorse and a hearty contrition, can
341but obtain the least glance of compassion, I am too happy.
342Ah, madam, there was a time! But let it be forgotten. I
343confess I have deservedly forfeited the high place I once held,
344of sighing at your feet. Nay, kill me not, by turning from me
345in disdain. I come not to plead for favor; nay, not for
346pardon. I am a suppliant only for your pity. I am going
347where I never shall behold you more.
348How, fellow traveler! You shall go by yourself then.
349Let me be pitied first, and afterwards forgotten —I ask
351By’r Lady, a very reasonable request, and will cost you
352nothing, aunt. Come, come forgive and forget, aunt; why
353you must, an you are a Christian.
354Consider, madam, in reality you could not receive much
355prejudice; it was an innocent device, though I confess it had
356a face of guiltiness. It was at most an artifice which love
357contrived, and errors which love produces have ever been
358accounted venial. At least think it is punishment enough
359that I have lost what in my heart I hold most dear, that
360to your cruel indignation I have offered up this beauty,
361and with her my peace and quiet; nay, all my hopes of future
363An he does not move me, would I might never be o’ the
364quorum! An it were not as good a deed as to drink, to
365give her to him again, I would I might never take shipping!
366Aunt, if you don’t forgive quickly, I shall melt, I can tell you
367that. My contract went no farther than a little mouth-glue,
368and that’s hardly dry; one doleful sigh more from my
369fellow traveler, and ’tis dissolved.
370Well, nephew, upon your account —ah, he has a false
371insinuating tongue! Well, sir, I will stifle my just resentment
372at my nephew’s request. I will endeavor what I can to forget,
373but on proviso that you resign the contract with my niece
375It is writing and with papers of concern; but I have
376sent my servant for it, and will deliver it to you, with all
377acknowledgments for your transcendent goodness.
378[aside] Oh, he has witchcraft in his eyes and tongue! When I did
not see him, I could have bribed a villain to his assassination;
but his appearance rakes the embers which have so long
lain smothered in my breast.
Enter Fainall and Mrs. Marwood.
382Your date of deliberation, madam, is expired. Here is
383the instrument; are you prepared to sign?
384If I were prepared, I am not empowered. My niece exerts a
385lawful claim, having matched herself by my direction to
387That sham is too gross to pass on me, though ’tis imposed
388on you, madam.
389Sir, I have given my consent.
390And, sir, I have resigned my pretensions.
391And, sir, I assert my right; and will maintain it in defiance
392of you, sir, and of your instrument. ’Sheart, an you talk of an
393instrument, sir, I have an old fox by my thigh shall hack
394your instrument of ram vellum to shreds, sir! It shall not be
395sufficient for a mittimus or a tailor’s measure. Therefore,
396withdraw your instrument, sir, or by’r Lady, I shall draw
398Hold, nephew, hold!
399Good Sir Wilfull, respite your valor.
400Indeed? Are you provided of a guard, with your single
401beefeater there? But I’m prepared for you, and insist upon
402my first proposal. You shall submit your own estate to my
403management and absolutely make over my wife’s to my sole
404use, as pursuant to the purport and tenor of this other
[To Millamant.] I suppose, madam, your con-
406sent is not requisite in this case; nor, Mr. Mirabell, your
407resignation; nor, Sir Wilfull, your right. You may draw your
408fox if you please, sir, and make a bear-garden flourish somewhere
409else; for here it will not avail. This, my Lady Wishfort,
410must be subscribed, or your darling daughter’s turned
411adrift, like a leaky hulk, to sink or swim, as she and the
412current of this lewd town can agree.
413Is there no means, no remedy to stop my ruin? Ungrateful
414wretch! dost thou not owe thy being, thy subsistence, to
415my daughter’s fortune?
416I’ll answer you when I have the rest of it in my possession.
417But that you would not accept of a remedy from my hands—
418I own I have not deserved you should owe any obligation
419to me; or else perhaps I could advise—
420Oh, what? what? to save me and my child from ruin,
421from want, I’ll forgive all that’s past; nay, I’ll consent to anything
422to come, to be delivered from this tyranny.
423Aye, madam, but that is too late; my reward is intercepted.
424You have disposed of her who only could have made
425me a compensation for all my services. But be it as it may,
426I am resolved I’ll serve you; you shall not be wronged in
427this savage manner.
428How! Dear Mr. Mirabell, can you be so generous at last?
429But it is not possible. Harkee, I’ll break my nephew’s match;
430you shall have my niece yet, and all her fortune, if you can
431but save me from this imminent danger.
432Will you? I take you at your word. I ask no more. I must
433have leave for two criminals to appear.
434Aye, aye; anybody, anybody!
435Foible is one, and a penitent.
Enter Mrs. Fainall, Foible, and Mincing.
(to Fainall) Oh, my shame! These corrupt things are bought and
437brought hither to expose me.
Mirabell and Lady Wishfort go to Mrs. Fainall and Foible.
438If it must all come out, why let ’em know it; ’tis but the
439way of the world. That shall not urge me to relinquish or
440abate one tittle of my terms; no, I will insist the more.
441Yes indeed, madam; I’ll take my Bible oath of it.
442And so will I, mem.
443O Marwood, Marwood, art thou false? my friend deceive
444me? Hast thou been a wicked accomplice with that pro-
446Have you so much ingratitude and injustice, to give
447credit against your friend to the aspersions of two such
449Mercenary, mem? I scorn your words. ’Tis true we found
450you and Mr. Fainall in the blue garret; by the same token,
451you swore us to secrecy upon Messalina’s poems. Mercenary?
452No, if we would have been mercenary, we should have
453held our tongues; you would have bribed us sufficiently.
454Go, you are an insignificant thing! Well, what are you
455the better for this? Is this Mr. Mirabell’s expedient? I’ll be
456put off no longer. You thing, that was a wife, shall smart
457for this! I will not leave thee wherewithal to hide thy
458shame; your body shall be as naked as your reputation.
459I despise you, and defy your malice! You have aspersed
460me wrongfully. I have proved your falsehood. Go you and
461your treacherous—I will not name it, but starve together,
463Not while you are worth a groat, indeed, my dear. Madam,
464I’ll be fooled no longer.
465Ah, Mr. Mirabell, this is small comfort, the detection of this
467Oh, in good time. Your leave for the other offender and
468penitent to appear, madam.
Enter Waitwell with a box of writings.
469O Sir Rowland! Well, rascal?
470What your ladyship pleases. I have brought the black
471box at last, madam.
472Give it to me. Madam, you remember your promise.
473Aye, dear sir.
474Where are the gentlemen?
475At hand, sir, rubbing their eyes; just risen from sleep.
476’Sdeath, what’s this to me? I’ll not wait your private
Enter Petulant and Witwoud.
478How now? What’s the matter? Whose hand’s out?
479Heyday! what, are you all got together, like players at
480the end of the last act?
481You may remember, gentlemen, I once requested your
482hands as witnesses to a certain parchment.
483Aye, I do; my hand I remember. Petulant set his mark.
484You wrong him; his name is fairly written, as shall appear.
485You do not remember, gentlemen, anything of what that
Undoing the box.
488Not I. I writ. I read nothing.
489Very well; now you shall know. Madam, your promise.
490Aye, aye, sir, upon my honor.
491Mr. Fainall, it is now time that you should know that
492your lady, while she was at her own disposal, and before you
493had by your insinuations wheedled her out of a pretended
494settlement of the greatest part of her fortune—
496Yes, sir. I say that this lady, while a widow, having, it
497seems, received some cautions respecting your inconstancy
498and tyranny of temper, which from her own partial opinion
499and fondness of you she could never have suspected—she did,
500I say, by the wholesome advice of friends and of sages
501learned in the laws of this land, deliver this same as her act
502and deed to me in trust, and to the uses within mentioned.
503You may read if you please —
(Holding out the parchment.)
504though perhaps what is inscribed on the back may serve
506Very likely, sir. What’s here? Damnation!
( Reads.) “A
507deed of conveyance of the whole estate real of Arabella
508Languish, widow, in trust to Edward Mirabell.”
510Even so, sir; ’tis the way of the world, sir, of the widows of
511the world. I suppose this deed may bear an elder date than
512what you have obtained from your lady.
513Perfidious fiend! then thus I’ll be revenged.
Offers to run at Mrs. Fainall.
514Hold, sir! Now you may make your bear-garden flourish
515somewhere else, sir.
516Mirabell, you shall hear of this, sir; be sure you shall. Let me
518Madam, you seem to stifle your resentment; you had better
519give it vent.
520Yes, it shall have vent, and to your confusion; or I’ll perish
521in the attempt.
522O daughter, daughter, ’tis plain thou hast inherited thy
524Thank Mr. Mirabell, a cautious friend, to whose advice all
526Well, Mr. Mirabell, you have kept your promise, and I
527must perform mine. First, I pardon, for your sake, Sir Row-
528land there and Foible. The next thing is to break the
529matter to my nephew, and how to do that—
530For that, madam, give yourself no trouble; let me have
531your consent. Sir Wilfull is my friend; he has had com-
532passion upon lovers, and generously engaged a volunteer
533in this action for our service, and now designs to prosecute
535’Sheart, aunt, I have no mind to marry. My cousin’s a fine
536lady, and the gentleman loves her, and she loves him, and
537they deserve one another; my resolution is to see foreign
538parts. I have set on’t, and when I’m set on’t, I must do’t.
539And if these two gentlemen would travel too, I think they
540may be spared.
541For my part, I say little; I think things are best off or on.
542I gad, I understand nothing of the matter; I’m in a maze
543yet, like a dog in a dancing school.
544Well, sir, take her, and with her all the joy I can give you.
545Why does not the man take me? Would you have me give
546myself to you over again?
547Aye, and over and over again; for I would have you as
548often as possibly I can.
( Kisses her hand.) Well, heaven
549grant I love you not too well; that’s all my fear.
550’Sheart, you’ll have time enough to toy after you’re
551married; or if you will toy now, let us have a dance in the
552meantime, that we who are not lovers may have some other
553employment besides looking on.
554With all my heart, dear Sir Wilfull. What shall we do for
556Oh, sir, some that were provided for Sir Rowland’s enter-
557tainment are yet within call.
558As I am a person, I can hold out no longer. I have wasted
559my spirits so today already that I am ready to sink under the
560fatigue; and I cannot but have some fears upon me yet that
561my son Fainall will pursue some desperate course.
562Madam, disquiet not yourself on that account; to my
563knowledge his circumstances are such, he must of force
564comply. For my part, I will contribute all that in me lies
565to a reunion. In the meantime, madam,
(To Mrs. Fainall.)
566let me before these witnesses restore to you this deed of trust;
567it may be a means, well-managed, to make you live easily
569From hence let those be warned, who mean to wed,
570Lest mutual falsehood stain the bridal bed;
571For each deceiver to his cost may find,
572That marriage frauds too oft are paid in kind.