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CAPTAIN LOVEIT FRIBBLE
MISS BIDDY TAG.
SCENE I-A Street.
Enter Captain LoveIT and PUFF.
Capt. L. This is the place we were directed to; and now, Puff, if I can get no intelligence of her, what will become of me?
Puff. And me, too, sir. You must consider I am a married man, and can't bear fatigue as I have done. But, pray, sir, why did you leave the army so abruptly, and not give me time to fill my knapsack with common necessaries? Half a dozen shirts and your regimentals are my whole cargo.
Capt. L. I was wild to get away; and, as soon as I obtained my leave of absence, I thought every moment an age till I returned to the place where I first saw this young, charming, innocent, bewitching creature.
Puff. With fifteen thousand pounds for her fortune. Strong motives, I must confess. And now, sir, as you are pleased to say you must depend upon my care and abilities in this affair, I think I have a
just right to be acquainted with the particulars of your passion, that I may be the better enabled to
Capt. L. You shall have them. When I first lef the university, which is now seven months since, my father, who loves his money better than his son, and would not settle a farthing upon me
Puff. Mine did so by me, sir.
Capt. L. Purchased me a pair of colours, at my own request; but before I joined the regiment, which was going abroad, I took a ramble into the country with a fellow collegian, to see a relation of his who lived in Berkshire.
Puff. A party of pleasure, I suppose.
Capt. L. During a short stay there, I became ac quainted with this young creature; she was just come from the boarding-school, and though she hal all the simplicity of her age and the country, yet it was mixed with such sensible vivacity, that Ỉ took fire at once.
Puff. I was tinder myself at your age. But, pray, sir, did you take fire before you knew of her fortune? Capt. L. Before, upon my honour.
Puff. Folly and constitution! But, on, sir. Capt. L. I was introduced to the family by the name of Rhodophil; (for so my companion and I had settled it ;) at the end of three weeks, I was obliged to attend the call of honour in Flanders.
Puff. Your parting, to be sure, was heart-breaking. Capt. L. I feel it at this instant. We rowed eternal constancy, and I promised to take the first opportunity of returning to her: I did so; but we found the house was shut up; and all the information, you know, that we could get from the neighbouring cottage was, that miss and her aunt were removed to town, and lived somewhere near this part of it.
Puff. And now we are got to the place of action, propose your plan of operation.
Capt. L. My father lives but in the next street; so I must decamp immediately for fear of discover. ies; you are not known to be my servant, so make what inquiries you can in the neighbourhood, and I shall wait at the inn for your intelligence.
Puff. I have no luck, to be sure. [Aside.] Oh! I have heard of her; she's of a pretty good family, and has some fortune, I know. But are things settled? Is the marriage fixed?
Jas. Not absolutely; the girl, I believe, detests him; but her aunt, a very good, prudent old lady, has given her consent, if he can gain her neice's; how it will end I can't tell-but I am hot upon't
Puff. I'll patrole hereabouts, and examine all that pass; but I've forgot the word, sir: Miss Biddy-myself. Capt. L. Bellair.
Puff. A young lady of wit, beauty, and fifteen thousand pounds fortune. But, sir
Capt. L. What do you say, Puff?
Puff. The devil! not marriage, I hope.
Jas. A maid in the same family, a woman of hoPuff. If your honour pleases to consider that I nour, I assure you: she has one husband already, a had a wife in town, whom I left somewhat abruptly scoundrel sort of a fellow that has run away from half a year ago, you'll think it, I believe, but decent her, and listed for a soldier; so, towards the end of to make some inquiry after her first: to be sure, it the campaign, she hopes to have a certificate he's would be some small consolation to me to know whe-knocked o' the head; if not, I suppose we shall settle ther the poor woman is living, or has made away matters another way. with herself, or
Capt. L. Pr'ythee, don't distract me: a moment's delay is of the utmost consequence; I must insist upon an immediate compliance with my commands. [Exit. Puff. The devil's in these fiery young fellows; they think of nobody's wants but their own. He does not consider that I am flesh and blood as well as himself. However, I may kill two birds at once; for I sha'n't be surprised if I meet my lady walking the streets. But who have we here? Sure, I should know that face.
Enter JASPER from a house.
Who's that? my old acquaintance, Jasper?
Puff. My dear friend! Well, and now, Jasper, still easy and happy! Toujours le meme! What in trigues now? What girls have you ruined, and what cuckolds made, since you and I beat up together, eh? Jas. Faith, business hath been very brisk during the war; men are scarce, you know; not that I can say I ever wanted amusement in the worst of times. But, harkye, Puff—
Puff. Not a word aloud, I am incognito.
Jas. Why, faith, I should not have known you, if you had not spoke first; you seem to be a little en dishabille, too, as well as incognito. Whom do you honour with your service now? Are you from the wars?
Puff. Piping hot, I assure you; fire and smoke will tarnish; a man that will go into such service as I have been in, will find his clothes the worse for wear, take my word for it: but how is it with you, friend Jasper? What, you still serve, I see. You live at that house, I suppose?
Jas. I don't absolutely live, but I am most of my time there; I have, within these two months, entered into the service of an old gentleman, who hired a reputable servant, and dressed him as you see, because he has taken it into his head to fall in love. Puff False appetite and second childhood! But, pr'ythee, what's the object of his passion?
Jas. No less than a virgin of sixteen, I assure you. Puff. Oh, the toothless old dotard!
Jas. And he mumbles and plays with her till his mouth waters; and then he chuckles til ne cries, and calls it his Bid and his Bidsy, and is so foolishly fond
Puff. Bidsy! what's that?
Jas. Her name is Biddy.
Puff. Biddy! What, Miss Biddy Bellair?
Puff. Well, speed the plough. But, harkye! consummate without the certificate, if you can; keep your neck out of the collar, do: I have wore it these two years, and dy galled I am.
Jas. I'll take your advice; but I must run away to my master, who will be impatient for an answer to his message which I have just delivered to the young lady; so, dear Mr. Puff, I am your most obedient humble servant.
Puff. And I must to our agent's for my arrears. If you have an hour to spare, you'll hear of me at George's, or the Tilt-yard. Au revoir, as we say abroad. [Exit JASPER.] Thus we are as civil and as false as our betters; Jasper and I were always the beau monde exactly; we ever hated one another heartily, yet always shake hands. But now to my master, with a head full of news and a heart full of joy. [Going, starts.
Angels and ministers of grace defend me!" It can't be. By heavens! it is, that fretful porcupine, my wife. I can't stand it: what shall I do? I'll try to avoid her
Tag. It must be he. I'll swear to the rogue at a mile's distance; he either has not seen me, or won't know me: if I can keep my temper I'll try him further. Pray, good sir, if I may be so bold
Puff. I have nothing for you, good woman; don't trouble me.
Tag. If your honour pleases to look this wayPuff. The kingdom is over-run with beggars; I suppose the last I gave to has sent this; but I have no more loose silver about me; so, pr'ythee, woman, don't disturb me.
Tag. I can hold out no longer! oh! you villain, you! Where have you been, scoundrel? Do you know me now, varlet? [Seizes him.
Puff. Here, watch, watch! Zounds! I shall have my pocket picked.
Tag. Own me this minute, hang-dog! and confess everything; or by the rage of an injured woman, I'll raise up the neighbourhood, throttle you, and send you to Newgate.
Puff. Amazement! what, my own dear Tag? Come to my arms, and let me press you to my heart, that pants for thee, and only thee, my true and law ful wife. Now my stars have overpaid me for the fatigue and danger of the field; I have wandered about like Achilles in search of faithful Penelope, and the gods have brought me to this happy spot. Embraces her.
Tag. The fellow's cracked, for certain. Leave
your bombastic stuff, and tell me, raseal, why you left me, and where you have been these six months, eh? Puff. We'll reserve my adventures for our happy winter's evenings. I shall only tell you now, that my heart beat so strong in my country's cause, and being instigated by either honour or the devil, (I can't tell which,) I set out for Flanders, to gather laurels, and lay them at thy feet.
Tag. You left me to starve, villain, and beg my bread, you did so.
Puff I left you too hastily, I must confess, and often has my conscience stung me for it. I am got into an officer's service, have been in several actions, gained some credit by my behaviour, and am now returned with my master to indulge the genteeler passions.
Tag. Don't think to fob me off with this nonsensical talk; what have you brought me home besides ? Puff Honour, and immoderate love. 1g. I could tear your eyes out. Puff. Temperance, or I walk off.
Tag. Temperance, traitor, temperance! What can you say for yourself? Leave me to the wide worldPuff. Well, I have been in the wide world too, ha'nt I? What would the woman have?
Tag. Reduce me to the necessity of going to service. [Cries. Puff. Why, I'm in service, too, your lord and master, a'n't I, you saucy jade, you? Come, where dost live, hereabouts? Hast got good vails? Dost go to market? Come, give me a kiss, darling, and tell me where I shall pay my duty to thee.
Tag. Why, there I live, at that house.
[Pointing to the house JASPER came out of. Puff. What, there? that house? Tag. Yes, there, that house.
Puff. Huzza! We're made for ever, you slut, you. Huzza! Everything conspires this day to make me happy. Prepare for an inundation of joy. My master is in love with your Miss Biddy over head and ears, and she with him: I know she is courted by some old fool, and her aunt is not against the match; but now we are come, the town will be relieved, and the governor brought over: in plain English, our fortune is made; my master must marry the lady, and the old gentleman may go to the devil.
Tag. Heyday! What's all this?
Puff. Say no more, the dice are thrown, doublets for us; away to your young mistress, while I run to my master; tell her Rhodophil-Rhodophil will be with her immediately; then, if her blood does not mount to her face like quicksilver in a weather-glass, and point to extreme hot, believe the whole to be a lie, and your husband no politician.
Tag. This is news, indeed! I have had the place but a little while, and have not quite got into the secrets of the family; but part of your story is true, and if you bring your master, and miss is willing, I warrant we'll be too hard for the old folks.
Puff. I'll about it straight-But, hold, Tag, I had forgot; pray, how does Mr. Jasper do?
Tag. Mr. Jasper ! what do you mean? I-I-IPuff. What, out of countenance, child? Oh, fie! Speak plain, my dear; and the certificate, when comes that, eh, love?
Tag. He has sold himself and turned conjurer, or he would never have known it. [Aside. Puff. Are not you a jade? Are not you a Jezebel?
Ar'n't you a
Tag. O, ho! temperance, or I walk off. Puf. I know I am not finished yet, and so I am easy; but more thanks to my fortune than your virtue, madam
Pray, Tag, is my aunt gone to her lawyer about me? Heigho!
Tag. What's that sigh for, my dear young mistress? Bid. I did not sigh, not I. [Sighs. Tag. Nay, never gulp them down, they are the worst things you can swallow. There's something in that heart of your's, that swells it, and puffs it, and will burst it at last, if you don't give it vent.
Bid. What would you have me tell you? [Sighs, Tag. Come, come, you are afraid I'll betray you; but you had as good speak, I may do you some ser vice you little think of.
Bid. It is not in your power, Tag, to give me what
[Sight Tug. Not directly, perhaps; but I may be the means of helping you to it; as for example, if you should not like to marry the old man your aunt de signs for you, one may find a way to breakBid. His neck, Tag?
Tag. Or the match; either will do, child. Bid. I don't care which, indeed, so I were clear of him. I don't think I'm fit to be married.
Tag. To him, you mean: you have no objection to marriage, but the man; and I applaud you for it. But, come, courage, miss; never keep it in: out with it all.
Bid. If you'll ask me any questions I'll answer them; but I can't tell you anything of myself-I shall blush if I do.
Tag. Well, then in the first place, pray, tell me, Miss Biddy Bellair, if you don't like somebody better than old Sir Simon Loveit?
Tag. What's heigho, miss?
Bid. When I say heigho! it means yes.
Tag. Very well; and this somebody is a young, handsome fellow ?
Tag. And if you were once his, you would be as merry as the best of us?
Tag. So far so good; and since I have got you to wet your feet, souse over head at once, and the pain will be ever.
Bid. There then. [A long sigh.] Now help me out, Tag, as fast as you can.
Tag. When did you hear from your gallant?
Bid. I was afraid the letters would fall into my aunt's hands, so I would not let him write to me; but I had a better reason then.
Tag. Pray, let's hear that, too.
Bid. Why, I thought if I should write to him, and promise him to love nobody else, and should after wards change my mind, he might think I was inconstant, and call me a coquette.
have you changed your mind, m.ss? Tag. What a simple innocent it is! [Ande.] And
Bid. No, indeed, Tag; I love him the best of any of them.
Tag. Of any of them! Why, have you any more?
Tag. Nay, miss, if you only trust me by halves, you can't expect
Bid. I will trust you with everything. When I parted with him I grew melancholy; so, in order to divert me, I have let two others court me till he returns again.
Tag. Is that all, my dear? Mighty simple, indeed! Aside. Bid. One of them is a fine blustering man, and is called Captain Flash; he's always talking of fighting and wars; he thinks he's sure of me, but I shall baulk him; we shall see him this afternoon; for he pressed strongly to come, and I have given him leave, while my aunt is taking her afternoon's nap. Tag. And who is the other, pray?
Bi. Quite another sort of a man; he speaks like a lady for all the world, and never swears, as Mr. Flash does, but wears nice white gloves, and tells me what ribands become my complexion, where to stick my patches, who is the best milliner, where they sell the best tea, and which is the best wash for the face and the best paste for the hands; he is always playing with my fan, and shewing his teeth; and whenever I speak, he pats me, so and cries, "The devil take me, Miss Biddy, but you'll be my perdition." Ha, ha, ha!
Tag. Oh, the pretty creature! and what do you call him, pray?
Bid. His name is Fribble, and you shall see him too; for, by mistake, I appointed them at the same time; but you must help me out with them.
Tag. And suppose your favourite should come too?
Bid. It begins with an R-h-o
Tag. I'll be hang'd if it is not Rhodophil. Bid. I am frightened at you. You are a witch! Tag. I am so, and I can tell your fortune, too. Look me in the face. The gentleman you love most in the world will be at our house this afternoon; he arrived from the army this morning, and dies till he
Bid. Is he come, Tag? Don't joke with me. Tag. Not to keep you longer in suspense, you must know, the servant of your Strephon, by some unaccountable fate or other, is my lord and master; he has just been with me, and told me of his master's arrival and impatience
Bid. Oh! my dear, dear Tag, you have put me out of my wits; I am all over in a flutter. I shall leap out of my skin-I don't know what to do with myself. Is he come, Tag? I am ready to faint. I'd give the world I had put on another dress to-day.
Tag. I assure you, miss, you look charmingly. Bid. Do I, indeed, though? I'll alter my hair immediately.
Tag. We'll go to dinner first, and then I'll assist
SCENE I.-A Chamber..
Enter CAPTAIN LOVEIT, BIDDY, TAG, and PUFF. Capt. L. To find you still constant, and to arrive at such a critical juncture, is the height of fortune and happiness.
Bid. Nothing shall force me from you; and if I am secure of your affections
Puff. I'll be bound for him, madam, and give you any security you can ask.
Tag. Everything goes on to our wish, sir; I just now had a second conference with my old lady, and she was so convinced by my arguments, that she returned instantly to the lawyer to forbid the drawing out of any writings at all; and she is determined never to thwart miss's inclinations, and left it to us to give the old gentleman his discharge at the next visit. Capt. L. Shall I undertake the old dragon? Tag. If we have occasion for help, we shall call for you.
tell you what, Rhodophil, you and your man shall
Capt. L. Do what you please with me.
lock and key I shall bring you to reason.
Puff. Are your wedding clothes ready, my dove?
Tag. Go follow your captain, sirrah: march. You may thank heaven I had patience to stay so long. [Exit with Puff.
gallants should come in upon us unawares; Bid. I was very much alarmed for fear my two should have had sad work if they had; I find I love | Rhodophil vastly; for though my other sparks flatter me more, I can't abide the thoughts of them now. I little head; but, egad! my heart's good, and a fig have business upon my hands enough to turn my for dangers! Let me see what shall I do with my two gallants? I must, at least, part with them decently. Suppose I set them together by the ears? quarrel, (as I believe they won't,) I can break with The luckiest thought in the world! For if they won't them for cowards, and very justly dismiss them my service; and if they will fight, and one of them should be killed, the other will certainly be hanged or run away; and so I shall very handsomely get rid of them both.
Well, Tag, are they safe?
have the key in my pocket.
Bid. That's pure; but have you given them any
Bid. Dinner! I can't eat a morsel. I don't know what's the matter with me; my ears tingle, my heart beats, my face flushes, and I tremble everything to divert them? joint of me. I must run in and look at myself in the glass this moment.
[Erit. Tag. Yes, she has it, and deeply, too; this is no hypocrisy.
Not art but nature now performs her part,
Tag. I have given the Captain one of your old gloves to mumble: but my Strephon is diverting himself with the more substantial comforts of a cold venison pasty.
Bid. What shall we do with the next that comes? Tag. If Mr. Fribble comes first, I'll clap him up into my lady's store room; I suppose he is a great
maker of marmalade himself, and will have an opportunity of making some critical remarks upon our pastry and sweetmeats.
Bid. When one of 'em comes, do you go and watch for the other; and as soon as you see him, run in to us and pretend it is my aunt, and so we shall have an excuse to lock him up till we want him. Tag. You may depend upon me. Here is one of 'em.
Bid. Mr. Fribble, your servant. Frib. Miss Biddy, your slave. I hope I have not come upon you abruptly; I should have waited upon you sooner, but an accident happened that discomposed me so, that I was obliged to go home again to take drops.
Bid. Indeed you don't look well, sir Go, Tag, and do as I bid you.
Tag. I will, madam. Bid. I have set my maid to watch my aunt, that we mayn't be surprised by her.
Frib. Your prudence is equal to your beauty, miss; and I hope your permitting me to kiss your hands will be no impeachment to your understanding. Bid. I hate the sight of him. [Aside.] I was afraid I should not have had the pleasure of seeing you; pray let me know what accident you met with, and what's the matter with your hand? I sha'n't be easy till I know.
Frib. Well, I vow, Miss Biddy, you're a good creeter: I'll endeavour to muster up what little spirits I have, and tell you the whole affair. Hem! But, first, you must give me leave to make you a present of a small pot of my lip-salve; my servant made it this morning; the ingredients are innocent, I assure you; nothing but the best virgin-wax, conserve of roses, and lily of the valley water.
Bid. I thank you, sir, but my lips are generally red, and when they a'n't, I bite 'em.
Frib. I bite my own sometimes, to pout 'em a little; but this will give them a softness, colour, and an agreeable moister. Thus let me make an humble offering at that shrine where I have already sacrificed my heart. Kneels, and gives the lip-salve. Bid Upon my word, that's very prettily expressed; you are positively the best company in the world. I wish he were out of the house. [Aside. Frib. But to return to my accident, and the reason why my hand is in this condition,-I beg you'll excuse the appearance of it, and be satisfied that nothing but mere necessity could have forced me to appear thus muffled before you.
Bid. I am very willing to excuse any misfortune that happens to you, sir. [Curtsies. Frib. You are vastly good, indeed. Thus it was: -Hem! You must know, miss, there is not an animal in the creation I have so great an aversion to, as those hackney-coach fellows. As I was coming out of my lodgings, says one of 'em to me, "Would your honour have a coach ?" "No, man," said I, "not now," with all the civility imaginable. "I'll carry you and your doll, too," said he, "Miss Margery for the same price." Upon which, the masculine beasts about us fell a laughing; then I turned round in a great passion, "Curse me," says I, "fellow, but I'll trounce thee." And as I was holding out my hand in a threatening poster, thus, he makes a cut at me with his whip, and striking me over the nail of my little finger, it gave me such exquisite torter that I fainted away; and while I was in this
tion, the mob picked my pocket of my purse,
scissors, my Mecca smelling-bottle, and my huswife. Bid. I shall laugh in his face. [Aside.] I am afraid you are in great pain; pray sit down, Mr. Fribble; but I hope your hand is in no danger? [They ni Frib. Not in the least, ma'am; pray don't be apprehensive; a milk poultice, and a gentle sudorific to-night, with a little manna in the morning, I am confident will relieve me entirely.
Bid. But pray, Mr. Fribble, do you make use of a huswife?
Frib. I can't do without it, ma'am: there is a club of us, all young bachelors, the sweetest society in the world; and we meet three times a-week at each others lodgings, where we drink tea, hear the chat of the day, invent fashions for the ladies, make mo dels of 'em, and cut out patterns in paper. We were the first inventors of knotting, and this fringe is the original produce and joint labour of our little community. Bid. And who are your pretty set, pray?
Frib. There's Phil Whiffle, Jacky Wagtail, my Lord Trip, Billy Dimple, Sir Dilberry Diddle, and your humble :
Bid. What a sweet collection of happy creatures? Frib. Indeed, and so we are miss; but a prodigious fracas disconcerted us some time ago, at Billy Dimple's-three drunken naughty women of the town burst into our club-room, curst us all, threw down the china, broke six looking-glasses, scalded us with the slop-basin, and scratched poor Phil Whiffle's cheek in such a manner, that he has kept his bed his bed these three weeks.
Bid. Indeed, Mr. Fribble, I think all our sex have great reason to be angry; for if you are so happy now you are bachelors, the ladies may wish and sign to very little purpose.
Frib. You are mistaken, I assure you; I am prodigiously rallied about my passion for you, I can tell you that, and am looked upon as lost to our sa ciety already. He, he, he!
Bid. Pray, Mr. Fribble, now you have gone so far, don't think me impudent if I long to know how you intend to use the lady who has been honoured with your affections?
Frib. Not as most other wives are used, I asITE you; all the domestic business will be taken of her hands; I shall make the tea, comb the degs, dress the children myself; so that, though I'm a commoner, Mrs. Fribble will lead the life of a woman of quality; for she will have nothing to do, but he in bed, play at cards, and scold the servants.
Bid. What a happy creature she must be! Frib. Do you really think so? Then pray let me have a little serious talk with you: though my passion is not of a long standing, I hope the sincerity of my intentions
Bid. Ha, ha, ha!
Frib. Go, you wild thing. [Pats her.] The devil take me, but there is no talking to you. How can you use me in this barbarous manner? if I had the constitution of an alderman it would sink under my sufferings. Hooman nater can't support it.
Bid. Why, what would you do with me, Mr. Frib ble?
Frib. Well, I vow I'll beat you if you talk se Don't look at me in that manner-flesh and bload can't bear it. I could-but I won't grow indecent.
Bid. But, pray, sir, where are the verses you wer to write upon me? I find, if a young lady depends too much upon such fine gentlemen as you, she'll certainly be disappointed.
Frib. I vow, the flutter I was put into this after