HotFreeBooks.com
The School For Scandal
by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

This etext was prepared by Gary R. Young, Mississauga, Canada.



Comments on the preparation of this E-Text:

SQUARE BRACKETS:

The square brackets, i.e. [ ] are copied from the printed book, without change, except thata closing bracket "]" has been added to the stage directions.

FOOTNOTES:

For this E-Text version of the book, the footnotes have been consolidated at the end of the play.

Numbering of the footnotes has been changed, and each footnote is given a unique identity in the form .

CHANGES TO THE TEXT:

Character names have been expanded. For Example, SIR BENJAMIN was SIR BEN.



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL



THE TEXT OF THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL

The text of THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL in this edition is taken, by Mr. Fraser Rae's generous permission, from his SHERIDAN'S PLAYS NOW PRINTED AS HE WROTE THEM. In his Prefatory Notes (xxxvii), Mr. Rae writes: "The manuscript of it [THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL] in Sheridan's own handwriting is preserved at Frampton Court and is now printed in this volume. This version differs in many respects from that which is generally known, and I think it is even better than that which has hitherto been read and acted. As I have endeavoured to reproduce the works of Sheridan as he wrote them, I may be told that he was a bad hand at punctuating and very bad at spelling. . . . But Sheridan's shortcomings as a speller have been exaggerated." Lest "Sheridan's shortcomings" either in spelling or in punctuation should obscure the text, I have, in this edition, inserted in brackets some explanatory suggestions. It has seemed best, also, to adopt a uniform method for indicating stage-directions and abbreviations of the names of characters. There can be no gain to the reader in reproducing, for example, Sheridan's different indications for the part of Lady Sneerwell—LADY SNEERWELL, LADY SNEER., LADY SN., and LADY S.— or his varying use of EXIT and EX., or his inconsistencies in the use of italics in the stage-directions. Since, however, Sheridan's biographers, from Moore to Fraser Rae, have shown that no authorised or correct edition of THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL was published in Sheridan's lifetime, there seems unusual justification for reproducing the text of the play itself with absolute fidelity to the original manuscript. Mr. Ridgway, who repeatedly sought to obtain a copy corrected by the author, according to Moore's account (LIFE OF SHERIDAN, I. p. 260), "was told by Mr. Sheridan, as an excuse for keeping it back, that he had been nineteen years endeavouring to satisfy himself with the style of The School for Scandal, but had not yet succeeded." Mr. Rae (SHERIDAN, I. p. 332) recorded his discovery of the manuscript of "two acts of The School for Scandal prepared by Sheridan for publication," and hoped, before his death, to publish this partial revision. Numberless unauthorized changes in the play have been made for histrionic purposes, from the first undated Dublin edition to that of Mr. Augustin Daly. Current texts may usually be traced, directly or indirectly, to the two-volume Murray edition of Sheridan's plays, in 1821. Some of the changes from the original manuscript, such as the blending of the parts of Miss Verjuice and Snake, are doubtless effective for reasons of dramatic economy, but many of the "cuts" are to be regretted from the reader's standpoint. The student of English drama will prefer Sheridan's own text to editorial emendations, however clever or effective for dramatic ends.

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL

A COMEDY

A PORTRAIT

ADDRESSED TO MRS. CREWE, WITH THE COMEDY OF THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL

BY R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ.

Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal's school, Who rail by precept, and detract by rule, Lives there no character, so tried, so known, So deck'd with grace, and so unlike your own, That even you assist her fame to raise, Approve by envy, and by silence praise!— Attend!—a model shall attract your view— Daughters of calumny, I summon you! You shall decide if this a portrait prove, Or fond creation of the Muse and Love.— Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage, Ye matron censors of this childish age, Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare A fixt antipathy to young and fair; By cunning, cautious; or by nature, cold, In maiden madness, virulently bold!— Attend! ye skilled to coin the precious tale, Creating proof, where innuendos fail! Whose practised memories, cruelly exact, Omit no circumstance, except the fact!— Attend, all ye who boast,—or old or young,— The living libel of a slanderous tongue! So shall my theme as far contrasted be, As saints by fiends, or hymns by calumny. Come, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name, In worthier verse is sung thy beauty's fame); Come—for but thee who seeks the Muse? and while Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile, With timid grace, and hesitating eye, The perfect model, which I boast, supply:— Vain Muse! couldst thou the humblest sketch create Of her, or slightest charm couldst imitate— Could thy blest strain in kindred colours trace The faintest wonder of her form and face— Poets would study the immortal line, And REYNOLDS own HIS art subdued by thine; That art, which well might added lustre give To Nature's best and Heaven's superlative: On GRANBY'S cheek might bid new glories rise, Or point a purer beam from DEVON'S eyes! Hard is the task to shape that beauty's praise, Whose judgment scorns the homage flattery pays! But praising Amoret we cannot err, No tongue o'ervalues Heaven, or flatters her! Yet she, by Fate's perverseness—she alone Would doubt our truth, nor deem such praise her own! Adorning Fashion, unadorn'd by dress, Simple from taste, and not from carelessness; Discreet in gesture, in deportment mild, Not stiff with prudence, nor uncouthly wild: No state has AMORET! no studied mien; She frowns no GODDESS, and she moves no QUEEN. The softer charm that in her manner lies Is framed to captivate, yet not surprise; It justly suits th' expression of her face,— 'Tis less than dignity, and more than grace! On her pure cheek the native hue is such, That, form'd by Heav'n to be admired so much, The hand divine, with a less partial care, Might well have fix'd a fainter crimson there, And bade the gentle inmate of her breast,— Inshrined Modesty!—supply the rest. But who the peril of her lips shall paint? Strip them of smiles—still, still all words are faint! But moving Love himself appears to teach Their action, though denied to rule her speech; And thou who seest her speak and dost not hear, Mourn not her distant accents 'scape thine ear; Viewing those lips, thou still may'st make pretence To judge of what she says, and swear 'tis sense: Cloth'd with such grace, with such expression fraught, They move in meaning, and they pause in thought! But dost thou farther watch, with charm'd surprise, The mild irresolution of her eyes, Curious to mark how frequent they repose, In brief eclipse and momentary close— Ah! seest thou not an ambush'd Cupid there, Too tim'rous of his charge, with jealous care Veils and unveils those beams of heav'nly light, Too full, too fatal else, for mortal sight? Nor yet, such pleasing vengeance fond to meet, In pard'ning dimples hope a safe retreat. What though her peaceful breast should ne'er allow Subduing frowns to arm her altered brow, By Love, I swear, and by his gentle wiles, More fatal still the mercy of her smiles! Thus lovely, thus adorn'd, possessing all Of bright or fair that can to woman fall, The height of vanity might well be thought Prerogative in her, and Nature's fault. Yet gentle AMORET, in mind supreme As well as charms, rejects the vainer theme; And, half mistrustful of her beauty's store, She barbs with wit those darts too keen before:— Read in all knowledge that her sex should reach, Though GREVILLE, or the MUSE, should deign to teach, Fond to improve, nor tim'rous to discern How far it is a woman's grace to learn; In MILLAR'S dialect she would not prove Apollo's priestess, but Apollo's love, Graced by those signs which truth delights to own, The timid blush, and mild submitted tone: Whate'er she says, though sense appear throughout, Displays the tender hue of female doubt; Deck'd with that charm, how lovely wit appears, How graceful SCIENCE, when that robe she wears! Such too her talents, and her bent of mind, As speak a sprightly heart by thought refined: A taste for mirth, by contemplation school'd, A turn for ridicule, by candour ruled, A scorn of folly, which she tries to hide; An awe of talent, which she owns with pride! Peace, idle Muse! no more thy strain prolong, But yield a theme thy warmest praises wrong; Just to her merit, though thou canst not raise Thy feeble verse, behold th' acknowledged praise Has spread conviction through the envious train, And cast a fatal gloom o'er Scandal's reign! And lo! each pallid hag, with blister'd tongue, Mutters assent to all thy zeal has sung— Owns all the colours just—the outline true; Thee my inspirer, and my MODEL—CREWE!



DRAMATIS PERSONAE

SIR PETER TEAZLE Mr. King SIR OLIVER SURFACE Mr. Yates YOUNG SURFACE Mr. Palmer CHARLES (his Brother) Mr. Smith CRABTREE Mr. Parsons SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE Mr. Dodd ROWLEY Mr. Aikin SPUNGE MOSES SNAKE CARELESS—and other companions to CHARLES

LADY TEAZLE MARIA LADY SNEERWELL MRS. CANDOUR MISS VERJUICE



PROLOGUE

WRITTEN BY MR. GARRICK

A school for Scandal! tell me, I beseech you, Needs there a school this modish art to teach you? No need of lessons now, the knowing think; We might as well be taught to eat and drink. Caused by a dearth of scandal, should the vapours Distress our fair ones—let them read the papers; Their powerful mixtures such disorders hit; Crave what you will—there's quantum sufficit. "Lord!" cries my Lady Wormwood (who loves tattle, And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle), Just risen at noon, all night at cards when threshing Strong tea and scandal—"Bless me, how refreshing! Give me the papers, Lisp—how bold and free! [Sips.] LAST NIGHT LORD L. [Sips] WAS CAUGHT WITH LADY D. For aching heads what charming sal volatile! [Sips.] IF MRS. B. WILL STILL CONTINUE FLIRTING, WE HOPE SHE'LL draw, OR WE'LL undraw THE CURTAIN. Fine satire, poz—in public all abuse it, But, by ourselves [Sips], our praise we can't refuse it. Now, Lisp, read you—there, at that dash and star:" "Yes, ma'am—A CERTAIN LORD HAD BEST BEWARE, WHO LIVES NOT TWENTY MILES FROM GROSVENOR SQUARE; FOR, SHOULD HE LADY W. FIND WILLING, WORMWOOD IS BITTER"——"Oh! that's me! the villain! Throw it behind the fire, and never more Let that vile paper come within my door." Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart; To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart. Is our young bard so young, to think that he Can stop the full spring-tide of calumny? Knows he the world so little, and its trade? Alas! the devil's sooner raised than laid. So strong, so swift, the monster there's no gagging: Cut Scandal's head off, still the tongue is wagging. Proud of your smiles once lavishly bestow'd, Again our young Don Quixote takes the road; To show his gratitude he draws his pen, And seeks his hydra, Scandal, in his den. For your applause all perils he would through— He'll fight—that's write—a cavalliero true, Till every drop of blood—that's ink—is spilt for you.



ACT I

SCENE I.—LADY SNEERWELL'S House

LADY SNEERWELL at her dressing table with LAPPET; MISS VERJUICE drinking chocolate

LADY SNEERWELL. The Paragraphs you say were all inserted:

VERJUICE. They were Madam—and as I copied them myself in a feigned Hand there can be no suspicion whence they came.

LADY SNEERWELL. Did you circulate the Report of Lady Brittle's Intrigue with Captain Boastall?

VERJUICE. Madam by this Time Lady Brittle is the Talk of half the Town—and I doubt not in a week the Men will toast her as a Demirep.

LADY SNEERWELL. What have you done as to the insinuation as to a certain Baronet's Lady and a certain Cook.

VERJUICE. That is in as fine a Train as your Ladyship could wish. I told the story yesterday to my own maid with directions to communicate it directly to my Hairdresser. He I am informed has a Brother who courts a Milliners' Prentice in Pallmall whose mistress has a first cousin whose sister is Feme [Femme] de Chambre to Mrs. Clackit—so that in the common course of Things it must reach Mrs. Clackit's Ears within four-and-twenty hours and then you know the Business is as good as done.

LADY SNEERWELL. Why truly Mrs. Clackit has a very pretty Talent— a great deal of industry—yet—yes—been tolerably successful in her way—To my knowledge she has been the cause of breaking off six matches[,] of three sons being disinherited and four Daughters being turned out of Doors. Of three several Elopements, as many close confinements—nine separate maintenances and two Divorces.— nay I have more than once traced her causing a Tete-a-Tete in the Town and Country Magazine—when the Parties perhaps had never seen each other's Faces before in the course of their Lives.

VERJUICE. She certainly has Talents.

LADY SNEERWELL. But her manner is gross.

VERJUICE. 'Tis very true. She generally designs well[,] has a free tongue and a bold invention—but her colouring is too dark and her outline often extravagant—She wants that delicacy of Tint—and mellowness of sneer—which distinguish your Ladyship's Scandal.

LADY SNEERWELL. Ah you are Partial Verjuice.

VERJUICE. Not in the least—everybody allows that Lady Sneerwell can do more with a word or a Look than many can with the most laboured Detail even when they happen to have a little truth on their side to support it.

LADY SNEERWELL. Yes my dear Verjuice. I am no Hypocrite to deny the satisfaction I reap from the Success of my Efforts. Wounded myself, in the early part of my Life by the envenomed Tongue of Slander I confess I have since known no Pleasure equal to the reducing others to the Level of my own injured Reputation.

VERJUICE. Nothing can be more natural—But my dear Lady Sneerwell There is one affair in which you have lately employed me, wherein, I confess I am at a Loss to guess your motives.

LADY SNEERWELL. I conceive you mean with respect to my neighbour, Sir Peter Teazle, and his Family—Lappet.—And has my conduct in this matter really appeared to you so mysterious? [Exit MAID.]

VERJUICE. Entirely so.

LADY SNEERWELL. [VERJUICE.?] An old Batchelor as Sir Peter was[,] having taken a young wife from out of the Country—as Lady Teazle is—are certainly fair subjects for a little mischievous raillery— but here are two young men—to whom Sir Peter has acted as a kind of Guardian since their Father's death, the eldest possessing the most amiable Character and universally well spoken of[,] the youngest the most dissipated and extravagant young Fellow in the Kingdom, without Friends or caracter—the former one an avowed admirer of yours and apparently your Favourite[,] the latter attached to Maria Sir Peter's ward—and confessedly beloved by her. Now on the face of these circumstances it is utterly unaccountable to me why you a young Widow with no great jointure—should not close with the passion of a man of such character and expectations as Mr. Surface—and more so why you should be so uncommonly earnest to destroy the mutual Attachment subsisting between his Brother Charles and Maria.

LADY SNEERWELL. Then at once to unravel this mistery—I must inform you that Love has no share whatever in the intercourse between Mr. Surface and me.

VERJUICE. No!

LADY SNEERWELL. His real attachment is to Maria or her Fortune— but finding in his Brother a favoured Rival, He has been obliged to mask his Pretensions—and profit by my Assistance.

VERJUICE. Yet still I am more puzzled why you should interest yourself in his success.

LADY SNEERWELL. Heavens! how dull you are! cannot you surmise the weakness which I hitherto, thro' shame have concealed even from you—must I confess that Charles—that Libertine, that extravagant, that Bankrupt in Fortune and Reputation—that He it is for whom I am thus anxious and malicious and to gain whom I would sacrifice—everything——

VERJUICE. Now indeed—your conduct appears consistent and I no longer wonder at your enmity to Maria, but how came you and Surface so confidential?

LADY SNEERWELL. For our mutual interest—but I have found out him a long time since[,] altho' He has contrived to deceive everybody beside—I know him to be artful selfish and malicious— while with Sir Peter, and indeed with all his acquaintance, He passes for a youthful Miracle of Prudence—good sense and Benevolence.

VERJUICE. Yes yes—I know Sir Peter vows He has not his equal in England; and, above all, He praises him as a MAN OF SENTIMENT.

LADY SNEERWELL. True and with the assistance of his sentiments and hypocrisy he has brought Sir Peter entirely in his interests with respect to Maria and is now I believe attempting to flatter Lady Teazle into the same good opinion towards him—while poor Charles has no Friend in the House—though I fear he has a powerful one in Maria's Heart, against whom we must direct our schemes.

SERVANT. Mr. Surface.

LADY SNEERWELL. Shew him up. He generally calls about this Time. I don't wonder at People's giving him to me for a Lover.

Enter SURFACE

SURFACE. My dear Lady Sneerwell, how do you do to-day—your most obedient.

LADY SNEERWELL. Miss Verjuice has just been arraigning me on our mutual attachment now; but I have informed her of our real views and the Purposes for which our Geniuses at present co-operate. You know how useful she has been to us—and believe me the confidence is not ill-placed.

SURFACE. Madam, it is impossible for me to suspect that a Lady of Miss Verjuice's sensibility and discernment——

LADY SNEERWELL. Well—well—no compliments now—but tell me when you saw your mistress or what is more material to me your Brother.

SURFACE. I have not seen either since I saw you—but I can inform you that they are at present at Variance—some of your stories have taken good effect on Maria.

LADY SNEERWELL. Ah! my dear Verjuice the merit of this belongs to you. But do your Brother's Distresses encrease?

SURFACE. Every hour. I am told He had another execution in his house yesterday—in short his Dissipation and extravagance exceed anything I have ever heard of.

LADY SNEERWELL. Poor Charles!

SURFACE. True Madam—notwithstanding his Vices one can't help feeling for him—ah poor Charles! I'm sure I wish it was in my Power to be of any essential Service to him—for the man who does not share in the Distresses of a Brother—even though merited by his own misconduct—deserves——

LADY SNEERWELL. O Lud you are going to be moral, and forget that you are among Friends.

SURFACE. Egad, that's true—I'll keep that sentiment till I see Sir Peter. However it is certainly a charity to rescue Maria from such a Libertine who—if He is to be reclaim'd, can be so only by a Person of your Ladyship's superior accomplishments and understanding.

VERJUICE. 'Twould be a Hazardous experiment.

SURFACE. But—Madam—let me caution you to place no more confidence in our Friend Snake the Libeller—I have lately detected him in frequent conference with old Rowland [Rowley] who was formerly my Father's Steward and has never been a friend of mine.

LADY SNEERWELL. I'm not disappointed in Snake, I never suspected the fellow to have virtue enough to be faithful even to his own Villany.

Enter MARIA

Maria my dear—how do you do—what's the matter?

MARIA. O here is that disagreeable lover of mine, Sir Benjamin Backbite, has just call'd at my guardian's with his odious Uncle Crabtree—so I slipt out and ran hither to avoid them.

LADY SNEERWELL. Is that all?

VERJUICE. Lady Sneerwell—I'll go and write the Letter I mention'd to you.

SURFACE. If my Brother Charles had been of the Party, madam, perhaps you would not have been so much alarmed.

LADY SNEERWELL. Nay now—you are severe for I dare swear the Truth of the matter is Maria heard YOU were here—but my dear—what has Sir Benjamin done that you should avoid him so——

MARIA. Oh He has done nothing—but his conversation is a perpetual Libel on all his Acquaintance.

SURFACE. Aye and the worst of it is there is no advantage in not knowing Them, for He'll abuse a stranger just as soon as his best Friend—and Crabtree is as bad.

LADY SNEERWELL. Nay but we should make allowance[—]Sir Benjamin is a wit and a poet.

MARIA. For my Part—I own madam—wit loses its respect with me, when I see it in company with malice.—What do you think, Mr. Surface?

SURFACE. Certainly, Madam, to smile at the jest which plants a Thorn on another's Breast is to become a principal in the mischief.

LADY SNEERWELL. Pshaw—there's no possibility of being witty without a little [ill] nature—the malice of a good thing is the Barb that makes it stick.—What's your opinion, Mr. Surface?

SURFACE. Certainly madam—that conversation where the Spirit of Raillery is suppressed will ever appear tedious and insipid—

MARIA. Well I'll not debate how far Scandal may be allowable— but in a man I am sure it is always contemtable.—We have Pride, envy, Rivalship, and a Thousand motives to depreciate each other— but the male-slanderer must have the cowardice of a woman before He can traduce one.

LADY SNEERWELL. I wish my Cousin Verjuice hadn't left us—she should embrace you.

SURFACE. Ah! she's an old maid and is privileged of course.

Enter SERVANT

Madam Mrs. Candour is below and if your Ladyship's at leisure will leave her carriage.

LADY SNEERWELL. Beg her to walk in. Now, Maria[,] however here is a Character to your Taste, for tho' Mrs. Candour is a little talkative everybody allows her to be the best-natured and best sort of woman.

MARIA. Yes with a very gross affectation of good Nature and Benevolence—she does more mischief than the Direct malice of old Crabtree.

SURFACE. Efaith 'tis very true Lady Sneerwell—Whenever I hear the current running again the characters of my Friends, I never think them in such Danger as when Candour undertakes their Defence.

LADY SNEERWELL. Hush here she is——

Enter MRS. CANDOUR

MRS. CANDOUR. My dear Lady Sneerwell how have you been this Century. I have never seen you tho' I have heard of you very often.— Mr. Surface—the World says scandalous things of you—but indeed it is no matter what the world says, for I think one hears nothing else but scandal.

SURFACE. Just so, indeed, Ma'am.

MRS. CANDOUR. Ah Maria Child—what[!] is the whole affair off between you and Charles? His extravagance; I presume—The Town talks of nothing else——

MARIA. I am very sorry, Ma'am, the Town has so little to do.

MRS. CANDOUR. True, true, Child; but there's no stopping people's Tongues. I own I was hurt to hear it—as I indeed was to learn from the same quarter that your guardian, Sir Peter[,] and Lady Teazle have not agreed lately so well as could be wish'd.

MARIA. 'Tis strangely impertinent for people to busy themselves so.

MRS. CANDOUR. Very true, Child; but what's to be done? People will talk—there's no preventing it.—why it was but yesterday I was told that Miss Gadabout had eloped with Sir Filagree Flirt. But, Lord! there is no minding what one hears; tho' to be sure I had this from very good authority.

MARIA. Such reports are highly scandalous.

MRS. CANDOUR. So they are Child—shameful! shameful! but the world is so censorious no character escapes. Lord, now! who would have suspected your friend, Miss Prim, of an indiscretion Yet such is the ill-nature of people, that they say her unkle stopped her last week just as she was stepping into a Postchaise with her Dancing-master.

MARIA. I'll answer for't there are no grounds for the Report.

MRS. CANDOUR. Oh, no foundation in the world I dare swear[;] no more probably than for the story circulated last month, of Mrs. Festino's affair with Colonel Cassino—tho' to be sure that matter was never rightly clear'd up.

SURFACE. The license of invention some people take is monstrous indeed.

MARIA. 'Tis so but in my opinion, those who report such things are equally culpable.

MRS. CANDOUR. To be sure they are[;] Tale Bearers are as bad as the Tale makers—'tis an old observation and a very true one—but what's to be done as I said before—how will you prevent People from talking—to-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. Honeymoon were at last become mere man and wife—like [the rest of their] acquaintance—she likewise hinted that a certain widow in the next street had got rid of her Dropsy and recovered her shape in a most surprising manner—at the same [time] Miss Tattle, who was by affirm'd, that Lord Boffalo had discover'd his Lady at a house of no extraordinary Fame—and that Sir Harry Bouquet and Tom Saunter were to measure swords on a similar Provocation. but—Lord! do you think I would report these Things—No, no[!] Tale Bearers as I said before are just as bad as the talemakers.

SURFACE. Ah! Mrs. Candour, if everybody had your Forbearance and good nature—

MRS. CANDOUR. I confess Mr. Surface I cannot bear to hear People traduced behind their Backs[;] and when ugly circumstances come out against our acquaintances I own I always love to think the best—by the bye I hope 'tis not true that your Brother is absolutely ruin'd—

SURFACE. I am afraid his circumstances are very bad indeed, Ma'am—

MRS. CANDOUR. Ah! I heard so—but you must tell him to keep up his Spirits—everybody almost is in the same way—Lord Spindle, Sir Thomas Splint, Captain Quinze, and Mr. Nickit—all up, I hear, within this week; so, if Charles is undone, He'll find half his Acquaintance ruin'd too, and that, you know, is a consolation—

SURFACE. Doubtless, Ma'am—a very great one.

Enter SERVANT

SERVANT. Mr. Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite.

LADY SNEERWELL. Soh! Maria, you see your lover pursues you— Positively you shan't escape.

Enter CRABTREE and SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE

CRABTREE. Lady Sneerwell, I kiss your hand. Mrs. Candour I don't believe you are acquainted with my Nephew Sir Benjamin Backbite— Egad, Ma'am, He has a pretty wit—and is a pretty Poet too isn't He Lady Sneerwell?

SIR BENJAMIN. O fie, Uncle!

CRABTREE. Nay egad it's true—I back him at a Rebus or a Charade against the best Rhymer in the Kingdom—has your Ladyship heard the Epigram he wrote last week on Lady Frizzle's Feather catching Fire—Do Benjamin repeat it—or the Charade you made last Night extempore at Mrs. Drowzie's conversazione—Come now your first is the Name of a Fish, your second a great naval commander—and

SIR BENJAMIN. Dear Uncle—now—prithee——

CRABTREE. Efaith, Ma'am—'twould surprise you to hear how ready he is at all these Things.

LADY SNEERWELL. I wonder Sir Benjamin you never publish anything.

SIR BENJAMIN. To say truth, Ma'am, 'tis very vulgar to Print and as my little Productions are mostly Satires and Lampoons I find they circulate more by giving copies in confidence to the Friends of the Parties—however I have some love-Elegies, which, when favoured with this lady's smile I mean to give to the Public. [Pointing to MARIA.]

CRABTREE. 'Fore Heaven, ma'am, they'll immortalize you—you'll be handed down to Posterity, like Petrarch's Laura, or Waller's Sacharissa.

SIR BENJAMIN. Yes Madam I think you will like them—when you shall see in a beautiful Quarto Page how a neat rivulet of Text shall meander thro' a meadow of margin—'fore Gad, they will be the most elegant Things of their kind—

CRABTREE. But Ladies, have you heard the news?

MRS. CANDOUR. What, Sir, do you mean the Report of——

CRABTREE. No ma'am that's not it.—Miss Nicely is going to be married to her own Footman.

MRS. CANDOUR. Impossible!

CRABTREE. Ask Sir Benjamin.

SIR BENJAMIN. 'Tis very true, Ma'am—everything is fixed and the wedding Livery bespoke.

CRABTREE. Yes and they say there were pressing reasons for't.

MRS. CANDOUR. It cannot be—and I wonder any one should believe such a story of so prudent a Lady as Miss Nicely.

SIR BENJAMIN. O Lud! ma'am, that's the very reason 'twas believed at once. She has always been so cautious and so reserved, that everybody was sure there was some reason for it at bottom.

LADY SNEERWELL. Yes a Tale of Scandal is as fatal to the Reputation of a prudent Lady of her stamp as a Fever is generally to those of the strongest Constitutions, but there is a sort of puny sickly Reputation, that is always ailing yet will outlive the robuster characters of a hundred Prudes.

SIR BENJAMIN. True Madam there are Valetudinarians in Reputation as well as constitution—who being conscious of their weak Part, avoid the least breath of air, and supply their want of Stamina by care and circumspection—

MRS. CANDOUR. Well but this may be all mistake—You know, Sir Benjamin very trifling circumstances often give rise to the most injurious Tales.

CRABTREE. That they do I'll be sworn Ma'am—did you ever hear how Miss Shepherd came to lose her Lover and her Character last summer at Tunbridge—Sir Benjamin you remember it—

SIR BENJAMIN. O to be sure the most whimsical circumstance—

LADY SNEERWELL. How was it Pray—

CRABTREE. Why one evening at Mrs. Ponto's Assembly—the conversation happened to turn on the difficulty of breeding Nova-Scotia Sheep in this country—says a young Lady in company[, "]I have known instances of it[—]for Miss Letitia Shepherd, a first cousin of mine, had a Nova-Scotia Sheep that produced her Twins.["—"]What!["] cries the old Dowager Lady Dundizzy (who you know is as deaf as a Post), ["]has Miss Letitia Shepherd had twins["]—This Mistake—as you may imagine, threw the whole company into a fit of Laughing—However 'twas the next morning everywhere reported and in a few Days believed by the whole Town, that Miss Letitia Shepherd had actually been brought to Bed of a fine Boy and Girl—and in less than a week there were People who could name the Father, and the Farm House where the Babies were put out to Nurse.

LADY SNEERWELL. Strange indeed!

CRABTREE. Matter of Fact, I assure you—O Lud! Mr. Surface pray is it true that your uncle Sir Oliver is coming home—

SURFACE. Not that I know of indeed Sir.

CRABTREE. He has been in the East Indies a long time—you can scarcely remember him—I believe—sad comfort on his arrival to hear how your Brother has gone on!

SURFACE. Charles has been imprudent Sir to be sure[;] but I hope no Busy people have already prejudiced Sir Oliver against him— He may reform—

SIR BENJAMIN. To be sure He may—for my Part I never believed him to be so utterly void of Principle as People say—and tho' he has lost all his Friends I am told nobody is better spoken of— by the Jews.

CRABTREE. That's true egad nephew—if the Old Jewry was a Ward I believe Charles would be an alderman—no man more popular there, 'fore Gad I hear He pays as many annuities as the Irish Tontine and that whenever He's sick they have Prayers for the recovery of his Health in the synagogue—

SIR BENJAMIN. Yet no man lives in greater Splendour:—they tell me when He entertains his Friends—He can sit down to dinner with a dozen of his own Securities, have a score Tradesmen waiting in the Anti-Chamber, and an officer behind every guest's Chair.

SURFACE. This may be entertainment to you Gentlemen but you pay very little regard to the Feelings of a Brother.

MARIA. Their malice is intolerable—Lady Sneerwell I must wish you a good morning—I'm not very well. [Exit MARIA.]

MRS. CANDOUR. O dear she chang'd colour very much!

LADY SNEERWELL. Do Mrs. Candour follow her—she may want assistance.

MRS. CANDOUR. That I will with all my soul ma'am.—Poor dear Girl— who knows—what her situation may be! [Exit MRS. CANDOUR.]

LADY SNEERWELL. 'Twas nothing but that she could not bear to hear Charles reflected on notwithstanding their difference.

SIR BENJAMIN. The young Lady's Penchant is obvious.

CRABTREE. But Benjamin—you mustn't give up the Pursuit for that— follow her and put her into good humour—repeat her some of your verses—come, I'll assist you—

SIR BENJAMIN. Mr. Surface I did not mean to hurt you—but depend on't your Brother is utterly undone— [Going.]

CRABTREE. O Lud! aye—undone—as ever man was—can't raise a guinea.

SIR BENJAMIN. And everything sold—I'm told—that was movable— [Going.]

CRABTREE. I was at his house—not a thing left but some empty Bottles that were overlooked and the Family Pictures, which I believe are framed in the Wainscot. [Going.]

SIR BENJAMIN. And I'm very sorry to hear also some bad stories against him. [Going.]

CRABTREE. O He has done many mean things—that's certain!

SIR BENJAMIN. But however as He is your Brother—— [Going.]

CRABTREE. We'll tell you all another opportunity. [Exeunt.]

LADY SNEERWELL. Ha! ha! ha! 'tis very hard for them to leave a subject they have not quite run down.

SURFACE. And I believe the Abuse was no more acceptable to your Ladyship than Maria.

LADY SNEERWELL. I doubt her Affections are farther engaged than we imagin'd but the Family are to be here this Evening so you may as well dine where you are and we shall have an opportunity of observing farther—in the meantime, I'll go and plot Mischief and you shall study Sentiments. [Exeunt.]

SCENE II.—SIR PETER'S House

Enter SIR PETER

SIR PETER. When an old Bachelor takes a young Wife—what is He to expect—'Tis now six months since Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men—and I have been the most miserable Dog ever since that ever committed wedlock. We tift a little going to church—and came to a Quarrel before the Bells had done ringing—I was more than once nearly chok'd with gall during the Honeymoon—and had lost all comfort in Life before my Friends had done wishing me Joy—yet I chose with caution—a girl bred wholly in the country—who never knew luxury beyond one silk gown—nor dissipation above the annual Gala of a Race-Ball—Yet she now plays her Part in all the extravagant Fopperies of the Fashion and the Town, with as ready a Grace as if she had never seen a Bush nor a grass Plot out of Grosvenor-Square! I am sneered at by my old acquaintance—paragraphed—in the news Papers— She dissipates my Fortune, and contradicts all my Humours— yet the worst of it is I doubt I love her or I should never bear all this. However I'll never be weak enough to own it.

Enter ROWLEY

ROWLEY. Sir Peter, your servant:—how is 't with you Sir—

SIR PETER. Very bad—Master Rowley—very bad[.] I meet with nothing but crosses and vexations—

ROWLEY. What can have happened to trouble you since yesterday?

SIR PETER. A good—question to a married man—

ROWLEY. Nay I'm sure your Lady Sir Peter can't be the cause of your uneasiness.

SIR PETER. Why has anybody told you she was dead[?]

ROWLEY. Come, come, Sir Peter, you love her, notwithstanding your tempers do not exactly agree.

SIR PETER. But the Fault is entirely hers, Master Rowley—I am myself, the sweetest temper'd man alive, and hate a teasing temper; and so I tell her a hundred Times a day—

ROWLEY. Indeed!

SIR PETER. Aye and what is very extraordinary in all our disputes she is always in the wrong! But Lady Sneerwell, and the Set she meets at her House, encourage the perverseness of her Disposition—then to complete my vexations—Maria—my Ward—whom I ought to have the Power of a Father over, is determined to turn Rebel too and absolutely refuses the man whom I have long resolved on for her husband—meaning I suppose, to bestow herself on his profligate Brother.

ROWLEY. You know Sir Peter I have always taken the Liberty to differ with you on the subject of these two young Gentlemen—I only wish you may not be deceived in your opinion of the elder. For Charles, my life on't! He will retrieve his errors yet—their worthy Father, once my honour'd master, was at his years nearly as wild a spark.

SIR PETER. You are wrong, Master Rowley—on their Father's Death you know I acted as a kind of Guardian to them both—till their uncle Sir Oliver's Eastern Bounty gave them an early independence. Of course no person could have more opportunities of judging of their Hearts—and I was never mistaken in my life. Joseph is indeed a model for the young men of the Age—He is a man of Sentiment—and acts up to the Sentiments he professes—but for the other[,] take my word for't [if] he had any grain of Virtue by descent—he has dissipated it with the rest of his inheritance. Ah! my old Friend, Sir Oliver will be deeply mortified when he finds how Part of his Bounty has been misapplied.

ROWLEY. I am sorry to find you so violent against the young man because this may be the most critical Period of his Fortune. I came hither with news that will surprise you.

SIR PETER. What! let me hear—

ROWLEY. Sir Oliver is arrived and at this moment in Town.

SIR PETER. How!—you astonish me—I thought you did not expect him this month!—

ROWLEY. I did not—but his Passage has been remarkably quick.

SIR PETER. Egad I shall rejoice to see my old Friend—'Tis sixteen years since we met—We have had many a Day together—but does he still enjoin us not to inform his Nephews of his Arrival?

ROWLEY. Most strictly—He means, before He makes it known to make some trial of their Dispositions and we have already planned something for the purpose.

SIR PETER. Ah there needs no art to discover their merits—however he shall have his way—but pray does he know I am married!

ROWLEY. Yes and will soon wish you joy.

SIR PETER. You may tell him 'tis too late—ah Oliver will laugh at me—we used to rail at matrimony together—but He has been steady to his Text—well He must be at my house tho'—I'll instantly give orders for his Reception—but Master Rowley—don't drop a word that Lady Teazle and I ever disagree.

ROWLEY. By no means.

SIR PETER. For I should never be able to stand Noll's jokes; so I'd have him think that we are a very happy couple.

ROWLEY. I understand you—but then you must be very careful not to differ while He's in the House with you.

SIR PETER. Egad—and so we must—that's impossible. Ah! Master Rowley when an old Batchelor marries a young wife—He deserves— no the crime carries the Punishment along with it. [Exeunt.]

END OF THE FIRST ACT



ACT II

SCENE I.—SIR PETER and LADY TEAZLE

SIR PETER. Lady Teazle—Lady Teazle I'll not bear it.

LADY TEAZLE. Sir Peter—Sir Peter you—may scold or smile, according to your Humour[,] but I ought to have my own way in everything, and what's more I will too—what! tho' I was educated in the country I know very well that women of Fashion in London are accountable to nobody after they are married.

SIR PETER. Very well! ma'am very well! so a husband is to have no influence, no authority?

LADY TEAZLE. Authority! no, to be sure—if you wanted authority over me, you should have adopted me and not married me[:] I am sure you were old enough.

SIR PETER. Old enough—aye there it is—well—well—Lady Teazle, tho' my life may be made unhappy by your Temper—I'll not be ruined by your extravagance—

LADY TEAZLE. My extravagance! I'm sure I'm not more extravagant than a woman of Fashion ought to be.

SIR PETER. No no Madam, you shall throw away no more sums on such unmeaning Luxury—'Slife to spend as much to furnish your Dressing Room with Flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the Pantheon into a Greenhouse, and give a Fete Champetre at Christmas.

LADY TEAZLE. Lord! Sir Peter am I to blame because Flowers are dear in cold weather? You should find fault with the Climate, and not with me. For my Part I'm sure I wish it was spring all the year round—and that Roses grew under one's Feet!

SIR PETER. Oons! Madam—if you had been born to those Fopperies I shouldn't wonder at your talking thus;—but you forget what your situation was when I married you—

LADY TEAZLE. No, no, I don't—'twas a very disagreeable one or I should never nave married you.

SIR PETER. Yes, yes, madam, you were then in somewhat a humbler Style—the daughter of a plain country Squire. Recollect Lady Teazle when I saw you first—sitting at your tambour in a pretty figured linen gown—with a Bunch of Keys at your side, and your apartment hung round with Fruits in worsted, of your own working—

LADY TEAZLE. O horrible!—horrible!—don't put me in mind of it!

SIR PETER. Yes, yes Madam and your daily occupation to inspect the Dairy, superintend the Poultry, make extracts from the Family Receipt-book, and comb your aunt Deborah's Lap Dog.

LADY TEAZLE. Abominable!

SIR PETER. Yes Madam—and what were your evening amusements? to draw Patterns for Ruffles, which you hadn't the materials to make— play Pope Joan with the Curate—to read a sermon to your Aunt— or be stuck down to an old Spinet to strum your father to sleep after a Fox Chase.

LADY TEAZLE. Scandalous—Sir Peter not a word of it true—

SIR PETER. Yes, Madam—These were the recreations I took you from— and now—no one more extravagantly in the Fashion—Every Fopery adopted—a head-dress to o'er top Lady Pagoda with feathers pendant horizontal and perpendicular—you forget[,] Lady Teazle—when a little wired gauze with a few Beads made you a fly Cap not much bigger than a blew-bottle, and your Hair was comb'd smooth over a Roll—

LADY TEAZLE. Shocking! horrible Roll!!

SIR PETER. But now—you must have your coach—Vis-a-vis, and three powder'd Footmen before your Chair—and in the summer a pair of white cobs to draw you to Kensington Gardens—no recollection when y ou were content to ride double, behind the Butler, on a docked Coach-Horse?

LADY TEAZLE. Horrid!—I swear I never did.

SIR PETER. This, madam, was your situation—and what have I not done for you? I have made you woman of Fashion of Fortune of Rank— in short I have made you my wife.

LADY TEAZLE. Well then and there is but one thing more you can make me to add to the obligation.

SIR PETER. What's that pray?

LADY TEAZLE. Your widow.—

SIR PETER. Thank you Madam—but don't flatter yourself for though your ill-conduct may disturb my Peace it shall never break my Heart I promise you—however I am equally obliged to you for the Hint.

LADY TEAZLE. Then why will you endeavour to make yourself so disagreeable to me—and thwart me in every little elegant expense.

SIR PETER. 'Slife—Madam I pray, had you any of these elegant expenses when you married me?

LADY TEAZLE. Lud Sir Peter would you have me be out of the Fashion?

SIR PETER. The Fashion indeed!—what had you to do with the Fashion before you married me?

LADY TEAZLE. For my Part—I should think you would like to have your wife thought a woman of Taste—

SIR PETER. Aye there again—Taste! Zounds Madam you had no Taste when you married me—

LADY TEAZLE. That's very true indeed Sir Peter! after having married you I should never pretend to Taste again I allow.

SIR PETER. So—so then—Madam—if these are your Sentiments pray how came I to be honour'd with your Hand?

LADY TEAZLE. Shall I tell you the Truth?

SIR PETER. If it's not too great a Favour.

LADY TEAZLE. Why the Fact is I was tired of all those agreeable Recreations which you have so good naturally [naturedly] Described— and having a Spirit to spend and enjoy a Fortune—I determined to marry the first rich man that would have me.

SIR PETER. A very honest confession—truly—but pray madam was there no one else you might have tried to ensnare but me.

LADY TEAZLE. O lud—I drew my net at several but you were the only one I could catch.

SIR PETER. This is plain dealing indeed—

LADY TEAZLE. But now Sir Peter if we have finish'd our daily Jangle I presume I may go to my engagement at Lady Sneerwell's?

SIR PETER. Aye—there's another Precious circumstance—a charming set of acquaintance—you have made there!

LADY TEAZLE. Nay Sir Peter they are People of Rank and Fortune— and remarkably tenacious of reputation.

SIR PETER. Yes egad they are tenacious of Reputation with a vengeance, for they don't chuse anybody should have a Character but themselves! Such a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on hurdles who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged Tales, coiners of Scandal, and clippers of Reputation.

LADY TEAZLE. What would you restrain the freedom of speech?

SIR PETER. Aye they have made you just as bad [as] any one of the Society.

LADY TEAZLE. Why—I believe I do bear a Part with a tolerable Grace— But I vow I bear no malice against the People I abuse, when I say an ill-natured thing, 'tis out of pure Good Humour—and I take it for granted they deal exactly in the same manner with me, but Sir Peter you know you promised to come to Lady Sneerwell's too.

SIR PETER. Well well I'll call in, just to look after my own character.

LADY TEAZLE. Then, indeed, you must make Haste after me, or you'll be too late—so good bye to ye.

SIR PETER. So—I have gain'd much by my intended expostulation— yet with what a charming air she contradicts every thing I say— and how pleasingly she shows her contempt of my authority—Well tho' I can't make her love me, there is certainly a great satisfaction in quarrelling with her; and I think she never appears to such advantage as when she is doing everything in her Power to plague me. [Exit.]

SCENE II.—At LADY SNEERWELL'S

LADY SNEERWELL, MRS. CANDOUR, CRABTREE, SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE, and SURFACE

LADY SNEERWELL. Nay, positively, we will hear it.

SURFACE. Yes—yes the Epigram by all means.

SiR BENJAMIN. O plague on't unkle—'tis mere nonsense—

CRABTREE. No no; 'fore gad very clever for an extempore!

SIR BENJAMIN. But ladies you should be acquainted with the circumstances. You must know that one day last week as Lady Betty Curricle was taking the Dust in High Park, in a sort of duodecimo Phaeton—she desired me to write some verses on her Ponies—upon which I took out my Pocket-Book— and in one moment produced—the following:—

'Sure never were seen two such beautiful Ponies; Other Horses are Clowns—and these macaronies, Nay to give 'em this Title, I'm sure isn't wrong, Their Legs are so slim—and their Tails are so long.

CRABTREE. There Ladies—done in the smack of a whip and on Horseback too.

SURFACE. A very Phoebus, mounted—indeed Sir Benjamin.

SIR BENJAMIN. Oh dear Sir—Trifles—Trifles.

Enter LADY TEAZLE and MARIA

MRS. CANDOUR. I must have a Copy—

LADY SNEERWELL. Lady Teazle—I hope we shall see Sir Peter?

LADY TEAZLE. I believe He'll wait on your Ladyship presently.

LADY SNEERWELL. Maria my love you look grave. Come, you sit down to Piquet with Mr. Surface.

MARIA. I take very little Pleasure in cards—however, I'll do as you Please.

LADY TEAZLE. I am surprised Mr. Surface should sit down her— I thought He would have embraced this opportunity of speaking to me before Sir Peter came—[Aside.]

MRS. CANDOUR. Now, I'll die but you are so scandalous I'll forswear your society.

LADY TEAZLE. What's the matter, Mrs. Candour?

MRS. CANDOUR. They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermillion to be handsome.

LADY SNEERWELL. Oh, surely she is a pretty woman. . . .

[CRABTREE.] I am very glad you think so ma'am.

MRS. CANDOUR. She has a charming fresh Colour.

CRABTREE. Yes when it is fresh put on—

LADY TEAZLE. O fie! I'll swear her colour is natural—I have seen it come and go—

CRABTREE. I dare swear you have, ma'am: it goes of a Night, and comes again in the morning.

SIR BENJAMIN. True, uncle, it not only comes and goes but what's more egad her maid can fetch and carry it—

MRS. CANDOUR. Ha! ha! ha! how I hate to hear you talk so! But surely, now, her Sister, is or was very handsome.

CRABTREE. Who? Mrs. Stucco? O lud! she's six-and-fifty if she's an hour!

MRS. CANDOUR. Now positively you wrong her[;] fifty-two, or fifty-three is the utmost—and I don't think she looks more.

SIR BENJAMIN. Ah! there's no judging by her looks, unless one was to see her Face.

LADY SNEERWELL. Well—well—if she does take some pains to repair the ravages of Time—you must allow she effects it with great ingenuity—and surely that's better than the careless manner in which the widow Ocre chaulks her wrinkles.

SIR BENJAMIN. Nay now—you are severe upon the widow—come—come, it isn't that she paints so ill—but when she has finished her Face she joins it on so badly to her Neck, that she looks like a mended Statue, in which the Connoisseur sees at once that the Head's modern tho' the Trunk's antique——

CRABTREE. Ha! ha! ha! well said, Nephew!

MRS. CANDOUR. Ha! ha! ha! Well, you make me laugh but I vow I hate you for it—what do you think of Miss Simper?

SIR BENJAMIN. Why, she has very pretty Teeth.

LADY TEAZLE. Yes and on that account, when she is neither speaking nor laughing (which very seldom happens)—she never absolutely shuts her mouth, but leaves it always on a-Jar, as it were——

MRS. CANDOUR. How can you be so ill-natured!

LADY TEAZLE. Nay, I allow even that's better than the Pains Mrs. Prim takes to conceal her losses in Front—she draws her mouth till it resembles the aperture of a Poor's-Box, and all her words appear to slide out edgewise.

LADY SNEERWELL. Very well Lady Teazle I see you can be a little severe.

LADY TEAZLE. In defence of a Friend it is but justice, but here comes Sir Peter to spoil our Pleasantry.

Enter SIR PETER

SIR PETER. Ladies, your obedient—Mercy on me—here is the whole set! a character's dead at every word, I suppose.

MRS. CANDOUR. I am rejoiced you are come, Sir Peter—they have been so censorious and Lady Teazle as bad as any one.

SIR PETER. That must be very distressing to you, Mrs. Candour I dare swear.

MRS. CANDOUR. O they will allow good Qualities to nobody—not even good nature to our Friend Mrs. Pursy.

LADY TEAZLE. What, the fat dowager who was at Mrs. Codrille's [Quadrille's] last Night?

LADY SNEERWELL. Nay—her bulk is her misfortune and when she takes such Pains to get rid of it you ought not to reflect on her.

MRS. CANDOUR. 'Tis very true, indeed.

LADY TEAZLE. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and small whey— laces herself by pulleys and often in the hottest noon of summer you may see her on a little squat Pony, with her hair plaited up behind like a Drummer's and puffing round the Ring on a full trot.

MRS. CANDOUR. I thank you Lady Teazle for defending her.

SIR PETER. Yes, a good Defence, truly!

MRS. CANDOUR. But for Sir Benjamin, He is as censorious as Miss Sallow.

CRABTREE. Yes and she is a curious Being to pretend to be censorious—an awkward Gawky, without any one good Point under Heaven!

LADY SNEERWELL. Positively you shall not be so very severe. Miss Sallow is a Relation of mine by marriage, and, as for her Person great allowance is to be made—for, let me tell you a woman labours under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl at six-and-thirty.

MRS. CANDOUR. Tho', surely she is handsome still—and for the weakness in her eyes considering how much she reads by candle-light it is not to be wonder'd at.

LADY SNEERWELL. True and then as to her manner—upon my word I think it is particularly graceful considering she never had the least Education[:] for you know her Mother was a Welch milliner, and her Father a sugar-Baker at Bristow.—

SIR BENJAMIN. Ah! you are both of you too good-natured!

SIR PETER. Yes, damned good-natured! Her own relation! mercy on me! [Aside.]

MRS. CANDOUR. For my Part I own I cannot bear to hear a friend ill-spoken of?

SIR PETER. No, to be sure!

SIR BENJAMIN. Ah you are of a moral turn Mrs. Candour and can sit for an hour to hear Lady Stucco talk sentiments.

LADY SNEERWELL. Nay I vow Lady Stucco is very well with the Dessert after Dinner for she's just like the Spanish Fruit one cracks for mottoes—made up of Paint and Proverb.

MRS. CANDOUR. Well, I never will join in ridiculing a Friend— and so I constantly tell my cousin Ogle—and you all know what pretensions she has to be critical in Beauty.

LADY TEAZLE. O to be sure she has herself the oddest countenance that ever was seen—'tis a collection of Features from all the different Countries of the globe.

SIR BENJAMIN. So she has indeed—an Irish Front——

CRABTREE. Caledonian Locks——

SIR BENJAMIN. Dutch Nose——

CRABTREE. Austrian Lips——

SIR BENJAMIN. Complexion of a Spaniard——

CRABTREE. And Teeth a la Chinoise——

SIR BENJAMIN. In short, her Face resembles a table d'hote at Spa— where no two guests are of a nation——

CRABTREE. Or a Congress at the close of a general War—wherein all the members even to her eyes appear to have a different interest and her Nose and Chin are the only Parties likely to join issue.

MRS. CANDOUR. Ha! ha! ha!

SIR PETER. Mercy on my Life[!] a Person they dine with twice a week! [Aside.]

LADY SNEERWELL. Go—go—you are a couple of provoking Toads.

MRS. CANDOUR. Nay but I vow you shall not carry the Laugh off so— for give me leave to say, that Mrs. Ogle——

SIR PETER. Madam—madam—I beg your Pardon—there's no stopping these good Gentlemen's Tongues—but when I tell you Mrs. Candour that the Lady they are abusing is a particular Friend of mine, I hope you'll not take her Part.

LADY SNEERWELL. Ha! ha! ha! well said, Sir Peter—but you are a cruel creature—too Phlegmatic yourself for a jest and too peevish to allow wit in others.

SIR PETER. Ah Madam true wit is more nearly allow'd [allied?] to good Nature than your Ladyship is aware of.

LADY SNEERWELL. True Sir Peter—I believe they are so near akin that they can never be united.

SIR BENJAMIN. O rather Madam suppose them man and wife because one seldom sees them together.

LADY TEAZLE. But Sir Peter is such an Enemy to Scandal I believe He would have it put down by Parliament.

SIR PETER. 'Fore heaven! Madam, if they were to consider the Sporting with Reputation of as much importance as poaching on manors— and pass an Act for the Preservation of Fame—there are many would thank them for the Bill.

LADY SNEERWELL. O Lud! Sir Peter would you deprive us of our Privileges—

SIR PETER. Aye Madam—and then no person should be permitted to kill characters or run down reputations, but qualified old Maids and disappointed Widows.—

LADY SNEERWELL. Go, you monster—

MRS. CANDOUR. But sure you would not be quite so severe on those who only report what they hear?

SIR PETER. Yes Madam, I would have Law Merchant for that too— and in all cases of slander currency, whenever the Drawer of the Lie was not to be found, the injured Party should have a right to come on any of the indorsers.

CRABTREE. Well for my Part I believe there never was a Scandalous Tale without some foundation.

LADY SNEERWELL. Come Ladies shall we sit down to Cards in the next Room?

Enter SERVANT, whispers SIR PETER

SIR PETER. I'll be with them directly.— [Exit SERVANT.] I'll get away unperceived.

LADY SNEERWELL. Sir Peter you are not leaving us?

SIR PETER. Your Ladyship must excuse me—I'm called away by particular Business—but I leave my Character behind me— [Exit.]

SIR BENJAMIN. Well certainly Lady Teazle that lord of yours is a strange being—I could tell you some stories of him would make you laugh heartily if He wern't your Husband.

LADY TEAZLE. O pray don't mind that—come do let's hear 'em. [join the rest of the Company going into the Next Room.]

SURFACE. Maria I see you have no satisfaction in this society.

MARIA. How is it possible I should? If to raise malicious smiles at the infirmities or misfortunes of those who have never injured us be the province of wit or Humour, Heaven grant me a double Portion of Dullness—

SURFACE. Yet they appear more ill-natured than they are—they have no malice at heart—

MARIA. Then is their conduct still more contemptible[;] for in my opinion—nothing could excuse the intemperance of their tongues but a natural and ungovernable bitterness of Mind.

SURFACE. Undoubtedly Madam—and it has always been a sentiment of mine—that to propagate a malicious Truth wantonly—is more despicable than to falsify from Revenge, but can you Maria feel thus [f]or others and be unkind to me alone—nay is hope to be denied the tenderest Passion.—

MARIA. Why will you distress me by renewing this subject—

SURFACE. Ah! Maria! you would not treat me thus and oppose your guardian's Sir Peter's wishes—but that I see that my Profligate Brother is still a favour'd Rival.

MARIA. Ungenerously urged—but whatever my sentiments of that unfortunate young man are, be assured I shall not feel more bound to give him up because his Distresses have sunk him so low as to deprive him of the regard even of a Brother.

SURFACE. Nay but Maria do not leave me with a Frown—by all that's honest, I swear——Gad's Life here's Lady Teazle—you must not— no you shall—for tho' I have the greatest Regard for Lady Teazle——

MARIA. Lady Teazle!

SURFACE. Yet were Sir Peter to suspect——

[Enter LADY TEAZLE, and comes forward]

LADY TEAZLE. What's this, Pray—do you take her for me!—Child you are wanted in the next Room.—What's all this, pray—

SURFACE. O the most unlucky circumstance in Nature. Maria has somehow suspected the tender concern I have for your happiness, and threaten'd to acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions—and I was just endeavouring to reason with her when you came.

LADY TEAZLE. Indeed but you seem'd to adopt—a very tender mode of reasoning—do you usually argue on your knees?

SURFACE. O she's a Child—and I thought a little Bombast—— but Lady Teazle when are you to give me your judgment on my Library as you promised——

LADY TEAZLE. No—no I begin to think it would be imprudent— and you know I admit you as a Lover no farther than Fashion requires.

SURFACE. True—a mere Platonic Cicisbeo, what every London wife is entitled to.

LADY TEAZLE. Certainly one must not be out of the Fashion—however, I have so much of my country Prejudices left—that—though Sir Peter's ill humour may vex me ever so, it never shall provoke me to——

SURFACE. The only revenge in your Power—well I applaud your moderation.

LADY TEAZLE. Go—you are an insinuating Hypocrite—but we shall be miss'd—let us join the company.

SURFACE. True, but we had best not return together.

LADY TEAZLE. Well don't stay—for Maria shan't come to hear any more of your Reasoning, I promise you— [Exit.]

SURFACE. A curious Dilemma truly my Politics have run me into. I wanted at first only to ingratiate myself with Lady Teazle that she might not be my enemy with Maria—and I have I don't know how— become her serious Lover, so that I stand a chance of Committing a Crime I never meditated—and probably of losing Maria by the Pursuit!—Sincerely I begin to wish I had never made such a Point of gaining so very good a character, for it has led me into so many curst Rogueries that I doubt I shall be exposed at last. [Exit.]

SCENE III.—At SIR PETER'S

—ROWLEY and SIR OLIVER—

SIR OLIVER. Ha! ha! ha! and so my old Friend is married, hey?— a young wife out of the country!—ha! ha! that he should have stood Bluff to old Bachelor so long and sink into a Husband at last!

ROWLEY. But you must not rally him on the subject Sir Oliver—'tis a tender Point I assure you though He has been married only seven months.

SIR OLIVER. Ah then he has been just half a year on the stool of Repentance—Poor Peter! But you say he has entirely given up Charles—never sees him, hey?

ROWLEY. His Prejudice against him is astonishing—and I am sure greatly increased by a jealousy of him with Lady Teazle—which he has been industriously led into by a scandalous Society— in the neighbourhood—who have contributed not a little to Charles's ill name. Whereas the truth is[,] I believe[,] if the lady is partial to either of them his Brother is the Favourite.

SIR OLIVER. Aye—I know—there are a set of malicious prating prudent Gossips both male and Female, who murder characters to kill time, and will rob a young Fellow of his good name before He has years to know the value of it. . . but I am not to be prejudiced against my nephew by such I promise you! No! no—if Charles has done nothing false or mean, I shall compound for his extravagance.

ROWLEY. Then my life on't, you will reclaim him. Ah, Sir, it gives me new vigour to find that your heart is not turned against him— and that the son of my good old master has one friend however left—

SIR OLIVER. What! shall I forget Master Rowley—when I was at his house myself—egad my Brother and I were neither of us very prudent youths—and yet I believe you have not seen many better men than your old master was[.]

ROWLEY. 'Tis this Reflection gives me assurance that Charles may yet be a credit to his Family—but here comes Sir Peter——

SIR OLIVER. Egad so He does—mercy on me—He's greatly altered— and seems to have a settled married look—one may read Husband in his Face at this Distance.—

Enter SIR PETER

SIR PETER. Ha! Sir Oliver—my old Friend—welcome to England— a thousand Times!

SIR OLIVER. Thank you—thank you—Sir Peter—and Efaith I am as glad to find you well[,] believe me—

SIR PETER. Ah! 'tis a long time since we met—sixteen year I doubt Sir Oliver—and many a cross accident in the Time—

SIR OLIVER. Aye I have had my share—but, what[!] I find you are married—hey my old Boy—well—well it can't be help'd—and so I wish you joy with all my heart—

SIR PETER. Thank you—thanks Sir Oliver.—Yes, I have entered into the happy state but we'll not talk of that now.

SIR OLIVER. True true Sir Peter old Friends shouldn't begin on grievances at first meeting. No, no—

ROWLEY. Take care pray Sir——

SIR OLIVER. Well—so one of my nephews I find is a wild Rogue—hey?

SIR PETER. Wild!—oh! my old Friend—I grieve for your disappointment there—He's a lost young man indeed—however his Brother will make you amends; Joseph is indeed what a youth should be—everybody in the world speaks well of him—

SIR OLIVER. I am sorry to hear it—he has too good a character to be an honest Fellow. Everybody speaks well of him! Psha! then He has bow'd as low to Knaves and Fools as to the honest dignity of Virtue.

SIR PETER. What Sir Oliver do you blame him for not making Enemies?

SIR OLIVER. Yes—if He has merit enough to deserve them.

SIR PETER. Well—well—you'll be convinced when you know him—'tis edification to hear him converse—he professes the noblest Sentiments.

SIR OLIVER. Ah plague on his Sentiments—if he salutes me with a scrap sentence of morality in his mouth I shall be sick directly— but however don't mistake me Sir Peter I don't mean to defend Charles's Errors—but before I form my judgment of either of them, I intend to make a trial of their Hearts—and my Friend Rowley and I have planned something for the Purpose.

ROWLEY. And Sir Peter shall own he has been for once mistaken.

SIR PETER. My life on Joseph's Honour——

SIR OLIVER. Well come give us a bottle of good wine—and we'll drink the Lads' Healths and tell you our scheme.

SIR PETER. Alons [Allons], then——

SIR OLIVER. But don't Sir Peter be so severe against your old Friend's son.

SIR PETER. 'Tis his Vices and Follies have made me his Enemy.—

ROWLEY. Come—come—Sir Peter consider how early He was left to his own guidance.

SIR OLIVER. Odds my Life—I am not sorry that He has run out of the course a little—for my Part, I hate to see dry Prudence clinging to the green juices of youth—'tis like ivy round a sapling and spoils the growth of the Tree.

END OF THE SECOND ACT



ACT III

SCENE I.—At SIR PETER'S

SIR PETER, SIR OLIVER, and ROWLEY

SIR PETER. Well, then, we will see the Fellows first and have our wine afterwards.—but how is this, Master Rowley—I don't see the Jet of your scheme.

ROWLEY. Why Sir—this Mr. Stanley whom I was speaking of, is nearly related to them by their mother. He was once a merchant in Dublin— but has been ruined by a series of undeserved misfortunes—and now lately coming over to solicit the assistance of his friends here— has been flyng [flung] into prison by some of his Creditors— where he is now with two helpless Boys.—

SIR OLIVER. Aye and a worthy Fellow too I remember him. But what is this to lead to—?

ROWLEY. You shall hear—He has applied by letter both to Mr. Surface and Charles—from the former he has received nothing but evasive promises of future service, while Charles has done all that his extravagance has left him power to do—and He is at this time endeavouring to raise a sum of money—part of which, in the midst of his own distresses, I know He intends for the service of poor Stanley.

SIR OLIVER. Ah! he is my Brother's Son.

SIR PETER. Well, but how is Sir Oliver personally to——

ROWLEY. Why Sir I will inform Charles and his Brother that Stanley has obtain'd permission to apply in person to his Friends—and as they have neither of them ever seen him[,] let Sir Oliver assume his character—and he will have a fair opportunity of judging at least of the Benevolence of their Dispositions.

SIR PETER. Pshaw! this will prove nothing—I make no doubt Charles is Coxcomb and thoughtless enough to give money to poor relations if he had it—

SIR OLIVER. Then He shall never want it—. I have brought a few Rupees home with me Sir Peter—and I only want to be sure of bestowing them rightly.—

ROWLEY. Then Sir believe me you will find in the youngest Brother one who in the midst of Folly and dissipation—has still, as our immortal Bard expresses it,—

"a Tear for Pity and a Hand open as the day for melting Charity."

SIR PETER. Pish! What signifies his having an open Hand or Purse either when He has nothing left to give!—but if you talk of humane Sentiments—Joseph is the man—Well, well, make the trial, if you please. But where is the fellow whom you brought for Sir Oliver to examine, relative to Charles's affairs?

ROWLEY. Below waiting his commands, and no one can give him better intelligence—This, Sir Oliver, is a friendly Jew, who to do him justice, has done everything in his power to bring your nephew to a proper sense of his extravagance.

SIR PETER. Pray let us have him in.

ROWLEY. Desire Mr. Moses to walk upstairs.

[Calls to SERVANT.]

SIR PETER. But Pray why should you suppose he will speak the truth?

ROWLEY. Oh, I have convinced him that he has no chance of recovering certain Sums advanced to Charles but through the bounty of Sir Oliver, who He knows is arrived; so that you may depend on his Fidelity to his interest. I have also another evidence in my Power, one Snake, whom I shall shortly produce to remove some of YOUR Prejudices[,] Sir Peter[,] relative to Charles and Lady Teazle.

SIR PETER. I have heard too much on that subject.

ROWLEY. Here comes the honest Israelite.

Enter MOSES

—This is Sir Oliver.

SIR OLIVER. Sir—I understand you have lately had great dealings with my Nephew Charles.

MOSES. Yes Sir Oliver—I have done all I could for him, but He was ruined before He came to me for Assistance.

SIR OLIVER. That was unlucky truly—for you have had no opportunity of showing your Talents.

MOSES. None at all—I hadn't the Pleasure of knowing his Distresses till he was some thousands worse than nothing, till it was impossible to add to them.

SIR OLIVER. Unfortunate indeed! but I suppose you have done all in your Power for him honest Moses?

MOSES. Yes he knows that—This very evening I was to have brought him a gentleman from the city who does not know him and will I believe advance some money.

SIR PETER. What[!] one Charles has never had money from before?

MOSES. Yes[—]Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars.

SIR PETER. Egad, Sir Oliver a Thought strikes me!—Charles you say does'nt know Mr. Premium?

MOSES. Not at all.

SIR PETER. Now then Sir Oliver you may have a better opportunity of satisfying yourself than by an old romancing tale of a poor Relation— go with my friend Moses and represent Mr. Premium and then I'll answer for't you'll see your Nephew in all his glory.

SIR OLIVER. Egad I like this Idea better than the other, and I may visit Joseph afterwards as old Stanley.

SIR PETER. True so you may.

ROWLEY. Well this is taking Charles rather at a disadvantage, to be sure—however Moses—you understand Sir Peter and will be faithful——

MOSES. You may depend upon me—and this is near the Time I was to have gone.

SIR OLIVER. I'll accompany you as soon as you please, Moses—— but hold—I have forgot one thing—how the plague shall I be able to pass for a Jew?

MOSES. There's no need—the Principal is Christian.

SIR OLIVER. Is He—I'm very sorry to hear it—but then again— an't I rather too smartly dressed to look like a money-Lender?

SIR PETER. Not at all; 'twould not be out of character, if you went in your own carriage—would it, Moses!

MOSES. Not in the least.

SIR OLIVER. Well—but—how must I talk[?] there's certainly some cant of usury and mode of treating that I ought to know.

SIR PETER. Oh, there's not much to learn—the great point as I take it is to be exorbitant enough in your Demands hey Moses?

MOSES. Yes that's very great Point.

SIR OLIVER. I'll answer for't I'll not be wanting in that—I'll ask him eight or ten per cent. on the loan—at least.

MOSES. You'll be found out directly—if you ask him no more than that, you'll be discovered immediately.

SIR OLIVER. Hey!—what the Plague!—how much then?

MOSES. That depends upon the Circumstances—if he appears not very anxious for the supply, you should require only forty or fifty per cent.—but if you find him in great Distress, and want the monies very bad—you may ask double.

SIR PETER. A good—[h]onest Trade you're learning, Sir Oliver—

SIR OLIVER. Truly, I think so—and not unprofitable—

MOSES. Then you know—you haven't the monies yourself, but are forced to borrow them for him of a Friend.

SIR OLIVER. O I borrow it of a Friend do I?

MOSES. And your friend is an unconscion'd Dog—but you can't help it.

SIR OLIVER. My Friend's an unconscionable Dog, is he?

MOSES. Yes—and He himself hasn't the monies by him—but is forced to sell stock—at a great loss—

SIR OLIVER. He is forced to sell stock is he—at a great loss, is he—well that's very kind of him—

SIR PETER. Efaith, Sir Oliver—Mr. Premium I mean—you'll soon be master of the Trade—but, Moses would have him inquire if the borrower is a minor—

MOSES. O yes—

SIR PETER. And in that case his Conscience will direct him—

MOSES. To have the Bond in another Name to be sure.

SIR OLIVER. Well—well I shall be perfect—

SIR PETER. But hearkee wouldn't you have him also run out a little against the annuity Bill—that would be in character I should think—

MOSES. Very much—

ROWLEY. And lament that a young man now must be at years of discretion before He is suffered to ruin himself!

MOSES. Aye, great Pity!

SIR PETER. And abuse the Public for allowing merit to an act whose only object is to snatch misfortune and imprudence from the rapacious Relief of usury! and give the minor a chance of inheriting his estate without being undone by coming into Possession.

SIR OLIVER. So—so—Moses shall give me further instructions as we go together.

SIR PETER. You will not have much time[,] for your Nephew lives hard bye—

SIR OLIVER. Oh Never—fear[:] my Tutor appears so able that tho' Charles lived in the next street it must be my own Fault if I am not a compleat Rogue before I turn the Corner— [Exeunt SIR OLIVER and MOSES.]

SIR PETER. So—now I think Sir Oliver will be convinced—you shan't follow them Rowley. You are partial and would have prepared Charles for 'tother plot.

ROWLEY. No upon my word Sir Peter—

SIR PETER. Well, go bring me this Snake, and I'll hear what he has to say presently. I see Maria, and want to speak with her.— [Exit ROWLEY.] I should be glad to be convinced my suspicions of Lady Teazle and Charles were unjust—I have never yet opened my mind on this subject to my Friend Joseph. . . . I am determined. I will do it—He will give me his opinion sincerely.—

Enter MARIA

So Child—has Mr. Surface returned with you—

MARIA. No Sir—He was engaged.

SIR PETER. Well—Maria—do you not reflect[,] the more you converse with that amiable young man[,] what return his Partiality for you deserves?

MARIA. Indeed Sir Peter—your frequent importunity on this subject distresses me extremely—you compell me to Declare that I know no man who has ever paid me a particular Attention whom I would not prefer to Mr. Surface—

SIR PETER. Soh! Here's Perverseness—no—no—Maria, 'tis Charles only whom you would prefer—'tis evident his Vices and Follies have won your Heart.

MARIA. This is unkind Sir—You know I have obey'd you in neither seeing nor corresponding with him—I have heard enough to convince me that He is unworthy my regard—Yet I cannot think it culpable— if while my understanding severely condemns his Vices, my Heart suggests some Pity for his Distresses.

SIR PETER. Well well pity him as much as you please, but give your Heart and Hand to a worthier object.

MARIA. Never to his Brother!

SIR PETER. Go—perverse and obstinate! but take care, Madam— you have never yet known what the authority of a Guardian is— don't compel me to inform you of it.—

MARIA. I can only say, you shall not have just Reason—'tis true, by my Father's will I am for a short period bound to regard you as his substitute, but I must cease to think you so when you would compel me to be miserable. [Exit.]

SIR PETER. Was ever man so crossed as I am[?] everything conspiring to fret me! I had not been involved in matrimony a fortnight[,] before her Father—a hale and hearty man, died on purpose, I believe— for the Pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his Daughter . . . but here comes my Helpmate!—She appears in great good humour—— how happy I should be if I could teaze her into loving me tho' but a little——

Enter LADY TEAZLE

LADY TEAZLE. Lud! Sir Peter I hope you haven't been quarrelling with Maria? It isn't using me well to be ill humour'd when I am not bye—!

SIR PETER. Ah! Lady Teazle you might have the Power to make me good humour'd at all times—

LADY TEAZLE. I am sure—I wish I had—for I want you to be in a charming sweet temper at this moment—do be good humour'd now— and let me have two hundred Pounds will you?

SIR PETER. Two hundred Pounds! what an't I to be in a good humour without paying for it—but speak to me thus—and Efaith there's nothing I could refuse you. You shall have it—but seal me a bond for the repayment.

LADY TEAZLE. O no—there—my Note of Hand will do as well—

SIR PETER. And you shall no longer reproach me with not giving you an independent settlement—I shall shortly surprise you—and you'll not call me ungenerous—but shall we always live thus—hey?

LADY TEAZLE. If you—please—I'm sure I don't care how soon we leave off quarrelling provided you'll own you were tired first—

SIR PETER. Well—then let our future contest be who shall be most obliging.

LADY TEAZLE. I assure you Sir Peter Good Nature becomes you— you look now as you did before we were married—when you used to walk with me under the Elms, and tell me stories of what a Gallant you were in your youth—and chuck me under the chin you would—and ask me if I thought I could love an old Fellow who would deny me nothing—didn't you?

SIR PETER. Yes—yes—and you were as kind and attentive——

LADY TEAZLE. Aye so I was—and would always take your Part, when my acquaintance used to abuse you and turn you into ridicule—

SIR PETER. Indeed!

LADY TEAZLE. Aye—and when my cousin Sophy has called you a stiff peevish old batchelor and laugh'd at me for thinking of marrying one who might be my Father—I have always defended you—and said I didn't think you so ugly by any means, and that you'd make a very good sort of a husband—

SIR PETER. And you prophesied right—and we shall certainly now be the happiest couple——

LADY TEAZLE. And never differ again.

SIR PETER. No never—tho' at the same time indeed—my dear Lady Teazle—you must watch your Temper very narrowly—for in all our little Quarrels—my dear—if you recollect my Love you always began first—

LADY TEAZLE. I beg your Pardon—my dear Sir Peter—indeed— you always gave the provocation.

SIR PETER. Now—see, my Love take care—contradicting isn't the way to keep Friends.

LADY TEAZLE. Then don't you begin it my Love!

SIR PETER. There now—you are going on—you don't perceive[,] my Life, that you are just doing the very thing my Love which you know always makes me angry.

LADY TEAZLE. Nay—you know if you will be angry without any reason— my Dear——

SIR PETER. There now you want to quarrel again.

LADY TEAZLE. No—I am sure I don't—but if you will be so peevish——

SIR PETER. There—now who begins first?

LADY TEAZLE. Why you to be sure—I said nothing[—]but there's no bearing your Temper.

SIR PETER. No—no—my dear—the fault's in your own temper.

LADY TEAZLE. Aye you are just what my Cousin Sophy said you would be—

SIR PETER. Your Cousin Sophy—is a forward impertinent Gipsey—

LADY TEAZLE. Go you great Bear—how dare you abuse my Relations—

SIR PETER. Now may all the Plagues of marriage be doubled on me, if ever I try to be Friends with you any more——

LADY TEAZLE. So much the Better.

SIR PETER. No—no Madam 'tis evident you never cared a pin for me— I was a madman to marry you—

LADY TEAZLE. And I am sure I was a Fooll to marry you—an old dangling Batchelor, who was single of [at] fifty—only because He never could meet with any one who would have him.

SIR PETER. Aye—aye—Madam—but you were pleased enough to listen to me—you never had such an offer before—

LADY TEAZLE. No—didn't I refuse Sir Jeremy Terrier—who everybody said would have been a better Match—for his estate is just as good as yours—and he has broke his Neck since we have been married!

SIR PETER. I have done with you Madam! You are an unfeeling— ungrateful—but there's an end of everything—I believe you capable of anything that's bad—Yes, Madam—I now believe the Reports relative to you and Charles—Madam—yes—Madam—you and Charles are— not without grounds——

LADY TEAZLE. Take—care Sir Peter—you had better not insinuate any such thing! I'll not be suspected without cause I promise you——

SIR PETER. Very—well—Madam—very well! a separate maintenance— as soon as you Please. Yes Madam or a Divorce—I'll make an example of myself for the Benefit of all old Batchelors—Let us separate, Madam.

LADY TEAZLE. Agreed—agreed—and now—my dear Sir Peter we are of a mind again, we may be the happiest couple—and never differ again, you know—ha! ha!—Well you are going to be in a Passion I see—and I shall only interrupt you—so, bye! bye! hey— young Jockey try'd and countered. [Exit.]

SIR PETER. Plagues and tortures! She pretends to keep her temper, can't I make her angry neither! O! I am the miserable fellow! But I'll not bear her presuming to keep her Temper—No she may break my Heart—but she shan't keep her Temper. [Exit.]

SCENE II.—At CHARLES's House

Enter TRIP, MOSES, and SIR OLIVER

TRIP. Here Master Moses—if you'll stay a moment—I'll try whether Mr.——what's the Gentleman's Name?

SIR OLIVER. Mr.——Moses—what IS my name——

MOSES. Mr. Premium——

TRIP. Premium—very well. [Exit TRIP—taking snuff.]

SIR OLIVER. To judge by the Servants—one wouldn't believe the master was ruin'd—but what—sure this was my Brother's House——

MOSES. Yes Sir Mr. Charles bought it of Mr. Joseph with the Furniture, Pictures, &c.—just as the old Gentleman left it— Sir Peter thought it a great peice of extravagance in him.

SIR OLIVER. In my mind the other's economy in selling it to him was more reprehensible by half.——

Enter TRIP

TRIP. My Master[,] Gentlemen[,] says you must wait, he has company, and can't speak with you yet.

SIR OLIVER. If he knew who it was wanted to see him, perhaps he wouldn't have sent such a Message.

TRIP. Yes—yes—Sir—He knows you are here—I didn't forget little Premium—no—no——

SIR OLIVER. Very well—and pray Sir what may be your Name?

TRIP. Trip Sir—my Name is Trip, at your Service.

SIR OLIVER. Well then Mr. Trip—I presume your master is seldom without company——

TRIP. Very seldom Sir—the world says ill-natured things of him but 'tis all malice—no man was ever better beloved—Sir he seldom sits down to dinner without a dozen particular Friends——

SIR OLIVER. He's very happy indeed—you have a pleasant sort of Place here I guess?

TRIP. Why yes—here are three or four of us pass our time agreeably enough—but then our wages are sometimes a little in arrear—and not very great either—but fifty Pounds a year and find our own Bags and Bouquets——

SIR OLIVER. Bags and Bouquets!—Halters and Bastinadoes! [Aside.]

TRIP. But a propos Moses—have you been able to get me that little Bill discounted?

SIR OLIVER. Wants to raise money too!—mercy on me! has his distresses, I warrant[,] like a Lord—and affects Creditors and Duns! [Aside.]

MOSES. 'Twas not be done, indeed——

TRIP. Good lack—you surprise me—My Friend Brush has indorsed it and I thought when he put his name at the Back of a Bill 'twas as good as cash.

MOSES. No 'twouldn't do.

TRIP. A small sum—but twenty Pound—harkee, Moses do you think you could get it me by way of annuity?

SIR OLIVER. An annuity! ha! ha! a Footman raise money by annuity— Well done Luxury egad! [Aside.]

MOSES. Who would you get to join with you?

TRIP. You know my Lord Applice—you have seen him however——

MOSES. Yes——

TRIP. You must have observed what an appearance he makes—nobody dresses better, nobody throws off faster—very well this Gentleman will stand my security.

MOSES. Well—but you must insure your Place.

TRIP. O with all my Heart—I'll insure my Place, and my Life too, if you please.

SIR OLIVER. It's more than I would your neck——

MOSES. But is there nothing you could deposit?

TRIP. Why nothing capital of my master's wardrobe has drop'd lately—but I could give you a mortgage on some of his winter Cloaths with equity of redemption before November or—you shall have the reversion—of the French velvet, or a post obit on the Blue and Silver—these I should think Moses—with a few Pair of Point Ruffles as a collateral security—hey, my little Fellow?

MOSES. Well well—we'll talk presently—we detain the Gentlemen——

SIR OLIVER. O pray don't let me interrupt Mr. Trip's Negotiation.

TRIP. Harkee—I heard the Bell—I believe, Gentlemen I can now introduce you—don't forget the annuity little Moses.

SIR OLIVER. If the man be a shadow of his Master this is the Temple of Dissipation indeed! [Exeunt.]

SCENE III.—CHARLES, CARELESS, etc., etc.

At Table with Wine

CHARLES. 'Fore Heaven, 'tis true!—there is the great Degeneracy of the age—many of our acquaintance have Taste—Spirit, and Politeness—but plague on't they won't drink——

CARELESS. It is so indeed—Charles—they give into all the substantial Luxuries of the Table—and abstain from nothing but wine and wit—Oh, certainly society suffers by it intolerably— for now instead of the social spirit of Raillery that used to mantle over a glass of bright Burgundy their conversation is become just like the Spa water they drink which has all the Pertness and flatulence of champaine without its spirit or Flavour.

FIRST GENTLEMAN. But what are they to do who love Play better than wine——

CARELESS. True—there's Harry diets himself—for gaming and is now under a hazard Regimen.

CHARLES. Then He'll have the worst of it—what you wouldn't train a horse for the course by keeping him from corn—For my Part egad I am never so successful as when I'm a little—merry—let me throw on a Bottle of Champaine and I never lose—at least I never feel my losses which is exactly the same thing.

SECOND GENTLEMAN. Aye that may be—but it is as impossible to follow wine and play as to unite Love and Politics.

CHARLES. Pshaw—you may do both—Caesar made Love and Laws in a Breath—and was liked by the Senate as well as the Ladies— but no man can pretend to be a Believer in Love, who is an abjurer of wine—'tis the Test by which a Lover knows his own Heart— fill a dozen Bumpers to a dozen Beauties, and she that floats atop is the maid that has bewitched you.

CARELESS. Now then Charles—be honest and give us yours——

CHARLES. Why I have withheld her only in compassion to you— if I toast her you should give a round of her Peers, which is impossible! on earth!

CARELESS. O, then we'll find some canonized Vestals or heathen Goddesses that will do I warrant——

CHARLES. Here then—Bumpers—you Rogues—Bumpers! Maria—Maria——

FIRST GENTLEMAN. Maria who?

CHARLES. Oh, damn the Surname 'tis too formal to be register'd in Love's calendar—but now Careless beware—beware—we must have Beauty's superlative.

FIRST GENTLEMAN. Nay Never study[,] Careless—we'll stand to the Toast—tho' your mistress should want an eye—and you know you have a song will excuse you——

CARELESS. Egad so I have—and I'll give him the song instead of the Lady.——

SONG.—AND CHORUS—

Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen; Here's to the widow of fifty; Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean, And here's to the housewife that's thrifty. Chorus. Let the toast pass,— Drink to the lass, I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for a glass.

Here's to the charmer whose dimples we prize; Now to the maid who has none, sir; Here's to the girl with a pair of blue eyes, And here's to the nymph with but one, sir. Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

Here's to the maid with a bosom of snow: Now to her that's as brown as a berry: Here's to the wife with a face full of woe, And now to the damsel that's merry. Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim, Young or ancient, I care not a feather; So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim, So fill up your glasses, nay, fill to the brim, And let us e'en toast them together. Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

[Enter TRIP whispers CHARLES]

SECOND GENTLEMAN. Bravo Careless—Ther's Toast and Sentiment too.

FIRST GENTLEMAN. E' faith there's infinite charity in that song.——

CHARLES. Gentlemen, you must excuse me a little.—Careless, take the Chair, will you?

CARELESS. Nay prithee, Charles—what now—this is one of your Peerless Beauties I suppose—has dropped in by chance?

CHARLES. No—Faith—to tell you the Truth 'tis a Jew and a Broker who are come by appointment.

CARELESS. O dam it let's have the Jew in.

FIRST GENTLEMAN. Aye and the Broker too by all means——

SECOND GENTLEMAN. Yes yes the Jew and the Broker.

CHARLES. Egad with all my Heart—Trip—bid the Gentlemen walk in— tho' there's one of them a Stranger I can tell you——

TRIP. What Sir—would you chuse Mr. Premium to come up with——

FIRST GENTLEMAN. Yes—yes Mr. Premium certainly.

CARELESS. To be sure—Mr. Premium—by all means Charles, let us give them some generous Burgundy, and perhaps they'll grow conscientious——

CHARLES. O, Hang 'em—no—wine does but draw forth a man's natural qualities; and to make them drink would only be to whet their Knavery.

Enter TRIP, SIR OLIVER, and MOSES

CHARLES. So—honest Moses—walk in—walk in pray Mr. Premium— that's the Gentleman's name isn't it Moses.

MOSES. Yes Sir.

CHARLES. Set chairs—Trim.—Sit down, Mr Premium.—Glasses Trim.— sit down Moses.—Come, Mr. Premium I'll give you a sentiment— Here's Success to Usury—Moses fill the Gentleman a bumper.

MOSES. Success to Usury!

CARELESS. Right Moses—Usury is Prudence and industry and deserves to succeed——

SIR OLIVER. Then Here is—all the success it deserves! [Drinks.]

CHARLES. Mr. Premium you and I are but strangers yet—but I hope we shall be better acquainted by and bye——

SIR OLIVER. Yes Sir hope we shall—more intimately perhaps than you'll wish. [Aside.]

CARELESS. No, no, that won't do! Mr. Premium, you have demurred at the toast, and must drink it in a pint bumper.

FIRST GENTLEMAN. A pint bumper, at least.

MOSES. Oh, pray, sir, consider—Mr. Premium's a gentleman.

CARELESS. And therefore loves good wine.

SECOND GENTLEMAN. Give Moses a quart glass—this is mutiny, and a high contempt for the chair.

CARELESS. Here, now for't! I'll see justice done, to the last drop of my bottle.

SIR OLIVER. Nay, pray, gentlemen—I did not expect this usage.

CHARLES. No, hang it, you shan't; Mr. Premium's a stranger.

SIR OLIVER. Odd! I wish I was well out of their company. [Aside.]

CARELESS. Plague on 'em then! if they won't drink, we'll not sit down with them. Come, Harry, the dice are in the next room.—Charles, you'll join us when you have finished your business with the gentlemen?

CHARLES. I will! I will!— [Exeunt SIR HARRY BUMPER and GENTLEMEN; CARELESS following.] Careless.

CARELESS. [Returning.] Well!

CHARLES. Perhaps I may want you.

CARELESS. Oh, you know I am always ready: word, note, or bond, 'tis all the same to me. [Exit.]

MOSES. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a gentleman of the strictest honour and secrecy; and always performs what he undertakes. Mr. Premium, this is——

CHARLES. Psha! have done. Sir, my friend Moses is a very honest fellow, but a little slow at expression: he'll be an hour giving us our titles. Mr. Premium, the plain state of the matter is this: I am an extravagant young fellow who wants to borrow money; you I take to be a prudent old fellow, who have got money to lend. I am blockhead enough to give fifty per cent. sooner than not have it! and you, I presume, are rogue enough to take a hundred if you can get it. Now, sir, you see we are acquainted at once, and may proceed to business without further ceremony.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse