Page images
PDF
EPUB

creet, will suffer your wife to be of such a party.

Fain. Faith, I am not jealous. Besides, most who are engaged are women and relations; and for the men, they are of a kind too contemptible to give scandal,

Fain. He comes to town in order to equip himself for travel.

Mir. For travel! Why, the man that I mean is above forty.

Fain. No matter for that; 'tis for the honour of England, that all Europe should know we have blackheads of all ages.

Mir. I wonder there is not an act of par

Mir. I am of another opinion. The greater the coxcomb, always the more the scandal: for a woman who is not a fool, can have but liament to save the credit of the nation, and one reason for associating with a man who

is one.

Fain. Are you jealous as often as you see Witwould entertained by Millamant?

Mir. Of her understanding I am, if not of her person.

Fain. You do her wrong; for, to give her her due, she has wit,

prohibit the exportation of fools.

Fain. By no means, 'tis better as 'tis; 'tis better to trade with a little loss, than to be quite eaten up with being overstock'd.

Mir. Pray are the follies of this knight-errant, and those of the squire, his brother, any thing related?

Fain. Not at all; Witwould grows by the any knight, like a medlar grafted on a crab. One not will melt in your mouth, and t'other set your teeth on edge; one is all pulp, and the other

Mir. She has beauty enough to make man think so; and complaisance enough to contradict him who shall tell her so. Fain. For a passionate lover, methinks you all core. are a man somewhat too discerning in the failings of your mistress.

Mir. So one will be rotten before he be ripe, and the other will be rotten without Mir. And for a discerning man, somewhat ever being ripe at all. too passionate a lover; for Ï like her with all Fain. Sir Wilful is an odd mixture of bashher faults; nay, like her for her faults. Her fulness and obstinacy. But when he's drunk, follies are so natural, or so artful, that they he's as loving as the monster in the Tempest; become her; and those affectations, which in and much after the same manner. To give another woman would be odious, serve but t'other his due, he has something of good nato make her more agreeable. I'll tell thee, ture, and does not always want wit. Fainall, she once used me with that insolence, Mir. Not always; but as often as his methat in revenge I took her to pieces; sifted mory fails him, and his common-place of comher, and separated her failings; I studied 'em parisons. He is a fool with a good memory, and got 'em by rote. The catalogue was, so and some few scraps of other folks' wit. He large, that I was not without hopes, one day is one whose conversation can never be apor other, to hate her heartily: to which end proved, yet it is now and then to be endured. I so used myself to think of 'em, that at length, He has indeed one good quality, he is not excontrary to my design and expectation, they ceptious; for he so passionately affects the regave me every hour less disturbance; till in a putation of understanding raillery, that he will few days it became habitual to me, to remem-construe an affront into a jest; and call downber 'em without being displeased. They are right rudeness and ill language, satire and fire. now grown as familiar to me as my own Fain. If you have a mind to finish his picfrailties; and in all probability, in a little time ture, you have an opportunity to do it at full longer, I shall like 'em as well. length. Behold the original,

Fain. Marry her, marry her; be half as well acquainted with her charms, as you are with her defects, and my life on't you are your own man again.

Mir. Say you so?

Fain. I, I, I have experience: I have a wife, and so forth.

Enter Messenger.

Mess. Is one squire Witwould here?
Betty. Yes; what's your business?

Mess. I have a letter for him, from his brother sir Wilful, which I am charged to deliver into his own hands.

way.

Enter WITWOULD.

Wit. Afford me your compassion, my dears;
pity me, Fainall; Mirabell, pity me.
Mir. I do, from my soul.

Fain. Why, what's the matter?
Wit. No letters for me, Betty?

Betty. Did not a messenger bring you one but now, sir?

Wit. Ay, but no other?
Betty. No, sir.

Wit. That's hard, that's very hard! a messenger, a mule, a beast of burden; he has Betty. He's in the next room, friend. That brought me a letter from the fool my brother, [Exit Messenger. as heavy as a panegyric in a funeral sermon, or a copy of commendatory verses from one poet to another. And what's worse, 'tis as sure a forerunner of the author, as an epistle dedicatory.

Mir. What, is the chief of that noble family in town, sir Wilful Witwould? Fain. He is expected to-day. Do you know bim?

Mir. I have seen him. He promises to be an extraordinary person. I think you have the honour to be related to him.

Fain. Yes; he is half-brother to this Witwould by a former wife, who was sister to my lady Wishfort, my wife's mother. If you marry Millamant, you must call cousins too. Mir. I would rather be his relation than his acquaintance.

Mir. A fool, and your brother, Witwould! Wit. Ay, ay, my half-brother. My halfbrother he is, no nearer upon honour. Mir. Then 'tis possible he may be but half a fool.

Wit. Good, good, Mirabell le drole! Good, good; hang him, don't let's talk of him. Fainall, how does your lady? 'Gad, I say any thing in the world to get this fellow out of

Fain. What, I warrant he's insincere, or 'tis some such trifle.

my head. I beg pardon that I should ask a of my friend!-no, my dear, excuse me there. man of pleasure, and the town, a question at once so foreign and domestic. But I talk like an old maid at a marriage; I don't know what I say: but she's the best woman in the world, Fain. 'Tis well you don't know what you say, or else your commendation would go near to make me either vain or jealous.

Wit. No, no; what if he be? 'tis no matter for that, his wit will excuse that: a wit should no more be sincere, than a woman constant; one argues a decay of parts, as t'other of beauty. Mir. May be you think him too positive?, Wit. No, no, his being positive is an in

Wit. No man in town lives well with a wife but Fainall. Your judgment, Mirabell?centive to argument, and keeps up conversation. Mir. You had better step and ask his wife, if you would be credibly informed.

Wit. Mirabell.

Mir. Ay.

[blocks in formation]

Fain. What have you done with Petulant? Wit. He's reckoning his money,-my money it was. I have had no luck to-day.

Fain. Too illiterate?

Wit. That! that's his happiness, his want of learning gives him the more opportunity to show his natural parts.

Mir. He wants words?

Wit. Ay but I like him for that now; for his want of words gives me the pleasure very often to explain his meaning.

Fain. He's impudent?
Wit. No, that's not it.
Mir. Vain?

Wit. No.

Mir. What, he speaks unseasonable truths sometimes, because he has not wit enough to invent an evasion?

Wit. Truth! ha, ha, ha! No, no; since you will have it-I mean, he never speaks truth at all,—that's all. He will lie like a cham

Fain. You may allow him to win of you at play; for you are sure to be too hard for bermaid, or a woman of quality's porter. Now him at repartee. Since you monopolize the that is a fault. wit that is between you, the fortune must be

his of course.

Mir. I don't find that Petulant confesses the superiority of wit to be your talent, Witwould. Wit. Come, come, you are malicious now, and would breed debates. Petulant's my friend,| and a very pretty fellow, and a very honest fellow, and has a smattering-faith, and troth, a pretty deal of an odd sort of a small wit nay, I do him justice, I'm his friend, I won't wrong him. And if he had any judgment in the world, he would not be altogether contemptible. Come, come, don't detract from the merits of my friend.

Fain. You don't take your friend to be exer-nicely bred.

Enter Coachman.

Coach. Is master Petulant here, mistress?
Betty. Yes.

Coach. Three gentlewomen in a coach would speak with him.

Fain. O brave Petulant! three!
Betty. I'll tell him.

Coach. You must bring two dishes of chocolate and a glass of cinnamon-water.

[Exeunt Coachman and Betty. Wit. That should be for two fasting bona robas, and a procuress troubled with wind. Now you may know what the three are.

Mir. You are very free with your friend's acquaintance.

Wit. Ay, ay, friendship without freedom is Wit. No, no, hang him, the rogue has no as dull as love without enjoyment, or wine m.nners at all, that I must own; no more without toasting; but, to tell you a secret, Freeding than a bumbaily,1) that I grant you: is pity; the fellow has fire and life. Mir. What, courage?

1. Hum, faith, I don't know as to that; I can't say as to that. Yes, faith, in controversy, be'll contradict any body.

Mr. Though 'twere a man whom he feared, or a woman whom he loved.

these are trulls whom he allows coach-hire, and something more, by the week, to call on him once a day at public places.

Mir. How!

Wit. You shall see he won't go to 'em, because there's no more company here to take notice of him.-Why, this is nothing to what he used to do: before he found out this way, have known him call for himself.

I

Fain. Call for himself! what dost thou mean?

Well, well, he does not always think before he speaks; we have all our failings: you are too hard upon him, you are, faith. Wit. Mean, why he would slip you out of Let me excuse him: I can defend most of his this chocolate-house, just when you had been faults, except one or two; one he has, that's talking to him-as soon as your back was Le truth on't; if he were my brother, I could turned, whip he was gone;-then trip to his Lot acquit him-that indeed I could wish lodging, clap on a hood and scarf, and a mask, were otherwise. slap into a hackney-coach, and drive hither Mir. Ay, marry, what's that, Witwould? to the door again in a trice; where he would Wit. O pardon me-expose the infirmities send in for himself, that is, I mean, call for himself, wait for himself, nay, and what's more, One of those gentlemen known by the name of catch-not finding himself, sometimes leave a letter ples from putting their hand wder (towards the pole, or back of the neck) of for himself.

the person whom they are to arrest, when, by show- Mir. I confess this is something extraordiing a warrant, the other party most submissively folis to the lock-up house, if he is not strong enough nary-I believe he waits for himself now, he knock the bailiff down, and make his escape. is so long a coming: O, I ask his pardon.

Enter PETULANT and BETTY.

Pet. All's one for that; why then know something.

say 1

Betty. Sir, the coach stays.

Pet. Well, well; I come; -'Sbud, a man

Mir. Come, thou art an honest fellow, Pehad as good be a profess'd midwife, as a pro- tulant, and shalt make love to my mistress, fess'd gallant, at this rate; to be knock'd up, thou shalt, faith. What hast thou heard of and raised at all hours, and in all places. my uncle? Deuce on 'em, I won't come-D'ye hear, tell Pet. I! nothing; I! If throats are to be cut, 'em I won't come-Let 'em snivel and cry let swords clash; snug's the word, I shrug their hearts out. [Exit Betty. and am silent.

Fain. You are very cruel, Petulant. Pet. All's one, let it pass-I have a humour to be cruel.

Mir. O raillery, raillery. Come, I know thou art in the women's secrets; what, you're a cabalist; I know you staid at Millamant's last night, after I went. Was there any mention made of my uncle or me? tell me. If Pet. Condition! condition's a dried fig, if I thou hadst but good nature equal to thy wit, am not in humour-By this hand, if they were Petulant, Tony Witwould, who is now thy your-a-a- your what-d'ye-call-'ems them-competitor in fame, would show as dim by selves, they must wait or rub off, if I am not thee as a dead whiting's eye by a pearl of in the vein. orient; he would no more be seen by thee, than Mercury is by the sun. Come, I'm sure thou wo't tell me.

Mir. I hope they are not persons of condition that you use at this rate.

Mir. What-d'ye-call-'ems! what are they, Witwould?

Wit. Empresses, my dear-By your whatd'ye-call-'ems he means sultana queens. Pet. Ay, Roxalanas.

Mir. Cry you mercy.

Fain. Witwould says they are-
Pet. What does he say th'are?
Wit, I? fine ladies, I say.

Pet. Pass on, Witwould-Harkee, by this light, his relations; two co-heiresses his cousins, and an old aunt, who loves intriguing

better than a conventicle.

Pet. If I do, will you grant me common sense then, for the future?

Mir. Faith, I'll do what I can for thee, and pray that it may be granted thee in the

mean time.

Pet. Well, harkee! [They talk apart. Fain. Petulant, and you both, will find Mirabell as warm a rival as a lover.

Wit. Pshaw, pshaw! that she laughs at Petulant is plain. And for my part, but that it is almost a fashion to admire her, I should, Wit. Ha, ha, ha! I had a mind to see how harkee-to tell you a secret, but let it go no the rogue would come off; ha, ha, ha! gad, I farther-between friends, I shall never break can't be angry with him, if he had said they my heart for her. were my mother and my sisters.

Fain. How!

Wit. She's handsome; but she's a sort of

Mir. No! Wit. No; the rogue's wit and readiness of an uncertain woman. invention charm me, dear Petulant.

Enter BETTY.

Betty. They are gone, sir, in great anger. Pet. Enough, let 'em trundle. Anger helps complexions, saves paint.

Fain. This continence is all dissembled ;| this is in order to have something to brag of the next time he makes court to Millamant, and swear he has abandoned the whole sex for her sake.

Fain. I thought you had died for her.
Wit. Umph! no.

Fain. She has wit.

Wit. 'Tis what she will hardly allow any body else-now, I should hate that, if she were as handsome as Cleopatra. Mirabell is not so sure of her as he thinks.

Fain. Why do you think so?

Wit. We staid pretty late there last night, and heard something of an uncle to Mirabell, who is lately come to town, and is between him and the best part of his estate. Mirabell Mir. Have you not left off your impudent and he are at some distance, as my lady Wishpretensions there yet? I shall cut your throat, fort has been told; and you know she hates some time or other, Petulant, about that bu-Mirabell worse than a quaker hates a parrot, or than a fishmonger bates a hard frost. Whe

siness.

Pet. Ay, ay, let that pass; there are other ther this uncle has seen Mrs. Millamant or throats to be cut.

Mir. Meaning mine, sir?

Pet. Not I, I mean nobody, I know nothing; but there are uncles and nephews in the world, and they may be rivals. What then? all's one for that.

Mir. Now, harkee, Petulant, come hither; explain, or I shall call your interpreter.

Pet. Explain! I know nothing. Why you have an uncle, have you not, lately come to town, and lodges by my lady Wishfort's? Mir. True.

not, I cannot say; but there were items of such a treaty being in embryo; and if it should come to life, poor Mirabell would be in some sort unfortunately fobb'd, i'faith.

Fain. 'Tis impossible, Millamant should

hearken to it.

Wit. Faith, my dear, I can't tell; she's woman, and a kind of a humourist. Mir. And this is the sum of what you could collect last night?

Pet. The quintessence. May be Witwould knows more, he staid longer; besides, they Pet. Why, that's enough; you and he are never mind him; they say any thing before

not friends: and if he should marry and have
a child, you may be disinherited, ha!
Mir. VVhere hast thou stumbled upon all
this truth?

[favourite

him.
Mir. I thought you had been the greatest
Pet. Ay, tête à tete; but not in public, be
cause I make remarks.

Mir. You do? Mrs. Mar. True, 'tis an unhappy circumPet. Ay, ay; I'm malicious, man. Now he's stance of life, that love should ever die before soft, you know; they are not in awe of him: us; and that the man so often should outlive the fellow's well bred; he's what you call a- the lover. But say what you will, 'tis better what-d'ye-call'em, a fine gentleman: but he's to be left than never to have been loved. To silly withal.

Mir. I thank you, I know as much as curiosity requires. Fainall, are you for Mall?)

pass our youth in dull indifference, to refuse my the sweets of life because they once must leave the us, is as preposterous, as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old. For my part, my youth may wear and waste,

Fain. Ay, I'll take a turn before dinner. Wit. Ay, we'll all walk in the park; the but it shall never rust in my possession. ladies talk of being there.

Mrs. F. Then it seems you dissemble an Mir. I thought you were obliged to watch aversion to mankind, only in compliance to for your brother, sir Wilfull's arrival.

my mother's humour.

Wit. No, no; he comes to his aunt's, my Mrs. Mar. Certainly. To be free; I have lady Wishfort: plague on him, I shall be no taste of those insipid dry discourses, with troubled with him too; what shall I do with which our sex of force must entertain themthe fool? selves apart from men. We may affect enPet. Beg him for his estate, that I may beg dearments to each other, profess eternal friendyou afterwards; and so have but one trouble with you both.

Wit. O rare Petulant; thou art as quick as fire in a frosty morning; thou shalt to the Mall with us, and we'll be very severe.

ships, and seem to dote like lovers; but 'tis not in our natures long to persevere. Love will resume his empire in our breasts, and every heart, or soon or late, receive and readmit him as its lawful tyrant.

Pet. Enough, I'm in a humour to be severe. Mrs. F. Bless me, how have I been deMir. Are you? Pray then walk by your-ceived? Why you're a professed libertine. selves. Let not us be accessary to your put- Mrs. Mar. You see my friendship by my ting the ladies out of countenance with your freedom. Come, be as sincere, acknowledge senseless ribaldry, which you roar out aloud that your sentiments agree with mine.

as often as they pass by you; and when you have made a handsome woman blush, then you think you have been severe.

Pet. What, what? then let 'em either show their innocence by not understanding what they bear, or else show their discretion by not hearing what they would not be thought

to understand.

Mir. But bast not thou then sense enough to know that thou ought'st to be most ashamed thyself, when thou hast put another out of countenance?

Pet. Not I, by this hand; I always take blashing either for a sign of guilt or ill-breed

ing.

Mrs. F. Never.

Mrs. Mar. You hate mankind?
Mrs. F. Heartily, inveterately.
Mrs. Mar. Your husband?

Mrs. F. Most transcendently; ay, though I say it, meritoriously.

Mrs. Mar. Give me your hand upon it.
Mrs. F. There.

Mrs. Mar. I join with you; what I have said has been to try you.

Mrs. F. Is it possible? dost thou hate those vipers, men?

Mrs. Mar. I have done hating 'em, and am now come to despise 'em; the next thing I have to do, is eternally to forget 'em.

Mrs. F. There spoke the spirit of an Amaer-zon, a Penthesilea.

Mir. I confess you ought to think so. You
are in the right, that you may plead the
ror of your judgment in defence of your
practice.

Where modesty's ill-manners, 'tis but fit
That impudence and malice pass for wit.
[Exeunt.

ACT II

SCENE I-St. James's Park.

Enter MRS. FAIN ALL and MRS. MARWOOD.
Mrs. F. Ay, ay, dear Marwood, if we will

Mrs. Mar. And yet I am thinking sometimes to carry my aversion farther. Mrs. F. How?

Mrs. Mar. By marrying; if I could but find one that loved me very well, and would be thoroughly sensible of ifl usage, I think I should do my self the violence of undergoin gthe cer

emony.

Mrs. F. You would not dishonour him?
Mrs. Mar. No: but I'd make him believe I

be happy, we must find the means in our-did, and that's as bad.
selves, and among ourselves. Men are ever in
extremes; either doating or averse. While

Mrs. F. Why had you not as good do it? Mrs. Mar. O if he should ever discover it, they are lovers, if they have fire and sense, he would then know the worst, and be out their jealousies are insupportable: and when of his pain; but I would have him ever to they cease to love (we ought to think at least) continue upon the rack of fear and jealousy. they loathe: they look upon us with horror

Mrs. F. Ingenious mischief! would thou

and distaste; they meet us like the ghosts of wert married to Mirabell!

what we were, and as from such, fly from us.

1) Formerly the fashionable walk in St. James's Park, when there was a little green and a tree or two to be seen within to miles of Temple-Bar; but now it

Mrs. Mar. Would I were!
Mrs. P. You change colour.
Mrs. Mar. Because I hate him.

Mrs. F. So do I; but I can hear him named.

is upon the point of being covered with houses; and But what reason have you to hate him in the poor swans' country-residence on the canal will particular?

be turned into a town (not a large) house, and the Mrs. Mar. I never loved him; he is, and alellipes bridge will probably be made into a ponte de

spiri for the loss of nature.

ways was, insufferably proud.

Fain. It may be so. I do not now begin

Mrs. F. By the reason you give for your aversion, one would think it dissembled; for to apprehend it. you have laid a fault to his charge, of which his enemies must acquit him.

look a

Mrs. Mar. O then it seems you are one o his favourable enemies. Methinks little pale, and now you flush again.

Mrs. Mar. What ails you;

you

Mrs. Mar. What?

Fain. That I have been deceived, madam, and you are false.

Mrs. Mar. That I am false! What mean you?
Fain. To let you know, I see through all

Mrs. F. Do I? I think I am a little sick your little arts-Come, you both love him, o'the sudden, and both have equally dissembled your oversion. Your mutual jealousies of one another Mrs. F. My husband. Don't you see him? have made you clash till you have both struck He turn'd short upon me unawares, and has fire. I have seen the warm confession, redalmost overcome me. dening on your cheeks, and sparkling from

[blocks in formation]

your eyes.

Mrs. Mar. You do me wrong.

Fain. I do not 'Twas for my case to oversee and wilfully neglect the gross advances made him by my wife; that, by permitting her to be engaged, I might continue unsuspected in my pleasures, and take you of tener to my arms in full security. But could you think, because the nodding husband would not wake, that e'er the watchful lover slept? Mrs. Mar. And wherewithal can you reproach me?

Fain. With infidelity, with loving another, with love of Mirabell.

Fain. O my dear, I am satisfied of your Mrs. Mar. 'Tis false. I challenge you to tenderness; I know you cannot resent any show an instance that can confirm your thing from me; especially what is an effect of groundless accusation. I hate him.

my concern.

Mir. The persons concern'd in that have yet a tolerable reputation. I am Mr. Fainall will be censorious.

Fain. And wherefore do you hate him?

Mrs. F. Mr. Mirabell, my mother interrupt- He is insensible, and your resentment follows ed you in a pleasant relation last night; I his neglect. An instance! The injuries you could fain hear it out. have done him are a proof: your interposing affair, in his love. What cause had you to make afraid discoveries of his pretended passion? to undeceive the credulous aunt, and be the offiMrs. F. He has a humour more prevailing cious obstacle of his match with Millamant? than his curiosity, and will willingly dispense Mrs. Mar. My obligations to my lady urwith the hearing of one scandalous story, to ged me: I had profess'd a friendship to her; avoid giving an occasion to make another, by and could not see her easy nature so abused being seen to walk with his wife. This way, by that dissembler. Mr. Mirabell, and I dare promise you will Fain. What, was it conscience then? Prooblige us both. fess'd a friendship! O the pious friendships of the female sex!

[Exeunt Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell. Fain. Excellent creature! well, sure, if I should live to be rid of my wife, I should be a miserable man.

Mrs. Mar. Ay?

Mrs. Mar. More tender, more sincere, and more enduring, than all the vain and empty vows of men, whether professing love to us, or mutual faith to one another.

Fain. Ha, ha, ha! you are my wife's friend

Fain. For having only that one hope, the accomplishment of it, of consequence, must too. put an end to all my hopes; and what a Mrs. Mar. Shame and ingratitude! Do you wretch is he who must survive his hopes! no-reproach me? You, you upbraid me! Have I thing remains, when that day comes, but to been false to her through strict fidelity to you, sit down and weep like Alexander, when he and sacrificed my friendship to keep my love wanted other worlds to conquer.

Mrs. Mar. Will you not follow 'em?
Fain. No! I think not.

Mrs. Mar. Pray let us; I have a reason.
Fain. You are not jealous?

Mrs. Mar. Of whom?

Fain. Of Mirabell.

inviolate? and have you the baseness to charge me with the guilt, unmindful of the merit! To you it should be meritorious, that I have been vicious; and do you reflect that guilt upon me, which should lie buried in your

bosom?

Fain. You misinterpret my reproof. I

Mrs. Mar. If I am, is it inconsistent with meant but to remind you of the slight account my love to you, that I am tender of your honour?

you once could make of strictest ties, when set in competition with your love to me. Fain. You would intimate then, as if there Mrs. M. 'Tis false, you urged it with deliwere a particular understanding between my berate malice; 'twas spoke in scorn, and I wife and him?

Mrs. Mar. I think she does not hate him to that degree she would be thought.

Fain. But he, I fear, is too insensible.
Mrs. Mar. It may be you are deceived.

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »