Infomotions, Inc.The Old Bachelor: a Comedy / Congreve, William, 1670-1729



Author: Congreve, William, 1670-1729
Title: The Old Bachelor: a Comedy
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): belin; laet; bellmour; vainlove; aram; setter; lucy; bluff; bell; sharper; sharp; joseph; nay; fond; madam; vain; scene
Contributor(s): Horrocks, Mrs. George [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 26,310 words (really short) Grade range: 4-6 (grade school) Readability score: 79 (easy)
Identifier: etext1192
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The Old Bachelor

by William Congreve

February, 1998  [Etext #1192]


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The Old Bachelor

by William Congreve




Quem tulit ad scenam ventoso Gloria curru,
Exanimat lentus spectator; sedulus inflat:
Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum
Subruit, and reficit.

HORAT.  Epist. I. lib. ii.



To the Right Honourable Charles, Lord Clifford of Lanesborough,
etc.


My Lord,--It is with a great deal of pleasure that I lay hold on
this first occasion which the accidents of my life have given me of
writing to your lordship:  for since at the same time I write to
all the world, it will be a means of publishing (what I would have
everybody know) the respect and duty which I owe and pay to you.  I
have so much inclination to be yours that I need no other
engagement.  But the particular ties by which I am bound to your
lordship and family have put it out of my power to make you any
compliment, since all offers of myself will amount to no more than
an honest acknowledgment, and only shew a willingness in me to be
grateful.

I am very near wishing that it were not so much my interest to be
your lordship's servant, that it might be more my merit; not that I
would avoid being obliged to you, but I would have my own choice to
run me into the debt:  that I might have it to boast, I had
distinguished a man to whom I would be glad to be obliged, even
without the hopes of having it in my power ever to make him a
return.

It is impossible for me to come near your lordship in any kind and
not to receive some favour; and while in appearance I am only
making an acknowledgment (with the usual underhand dealing of the
world) I am at the same time insinuating my own interest.  I cannot
give your lordship your due, without tacking a bill of my own
privileges.  'Tis true, if a man never committed a folly, he would
never stand in need of a protection.  But then power would have
nothing to do, and good nature no occasion to show itself; and
where those qualities are, 'tis pity they should want objects to
shine upon.  I must confess this is no reason why a man should do
an idle thing, nor indeed any good excuse for it when done; yet it
reconciles the uses of such authority and goodness to the
necessities of our follies, and is a sort of poetical logic, which
at this time I would make use of, to argue your lordship into a
protection of this play.  It is the first offence I have committed
in this kind, or indeed, in any kind of poetry, though not the
first made public, and therefore I hope will the more easily be
pardoned.  But had it been acted, when it was first written, more
might have been said in its behalf:  ignorance of the town and
stage would then have been excuses in a young writer, which now
almost four years' experience will scarce allow of.  Yet I must
declare myself sensible of the good nature of the town, in
receiving this play so kindly, with all its faults, which I must
own were, for the most part, very industriously covered by the care
of the players; for I think scarce a character but received all the
advantage it would admit of from the justness of the action.

As for the critics, my lord, I have nothing to say to, or against,
any of them of any kind:  from those who make just exceptions, to
those who find fault in the wrong place.  I will only make this
general answer in behalf of my play (an answer which Epictetus
advises every man to make for himself to his censurers), viz.:
'That if they who find some faults in it, were as intimate with it
as I am, they would find a great many more.'  This is a confession,
which I needed not to have made; but however, I can draw this use
from it to my own advantage:  that I think there are no faults in
it but what I do know; which, as I take it, is the first step to an
amendment.

Thus I may live in hopes (sometime or other) of making the town
amends; but you, my lord, I never can, though I am ever your
lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,

WILL. CONGREVE.



To Mr. Congreve.



When virtue in pursuit of fame appears,
And forward shoots the growth beyond the years.
We timely court the rising hero's cause,
And on his side the poet wisely draws,
Bespeaking him hereafter by applause.
The days will come, when we shall all receive
Returning interest from what now we give,
Instructed and supported by that praise
And reputation which we strive to raise.
Nature so coy, so hardly to be wooed,
Flies, like a mistress, but to be pursued.
O Congreve! boldly follow on the chase:
She looks behind and wants thy strong embrace:
She yields, she yields, surrenders all her charms,
Do you but force her gently to your arms:
Such nerves, such graces, in your lines appear,
As you were made to be her ravisher.
Dryden has long extended his command,
By right divine, quite through the muses' land,
Absolute lord; and holding now from none,
But great Apollo, his undoubted crown.
That empire settled, and grown old in power
Can wish for nothing but a successor:
Not to enlarge his limits, but maintain
Those provinces, which he alone could gain.
His eldest Wycherly, in wise retreat,
Thought it not worth his quiet to be great.
Loose, wand'ring Etherege, in wild pleasures tost,
And foreign int'rests, to his hopes long lost:
Poor Lee and Otway dead!  Congreve appears,
The darling, and last comfort of his years.
May'st thou live long in thy great master's smiles,
And growing under him, adorn these isles.
But when--when part of him (be that but late)
His body yielding must submit to fate,
Leaving his deathless works and thee behind
(The natural successor of his mind),
Then may'st thou finish what he has begun:
Heir to his merit, be in fame his son.
What thou hast done, shews all is in thy pow'r,
And to write better, only must write more.
'Tis something to be willing to commend;
But my best praise is, that I am your friend,

THO. SOUTHERNE.



To Mr. Congreve.



The danger's great in these censorious days,
When critics are so rife to venture praise:
When the infectious and ill-natured brood
Behold, and damn the work, because 'tis good,
And with a proud, ungenerous spirit, try
To pass an ostracism on poetry.
But you, my friend, your worth does safely bear
Above their spleen; you have no cause for fear;
Like a well-mettled hawk, you took your flight
Quite out of reach, and almost out of sight.
As the strong sun, in a fair summer's day,
You rise, and drive the mists and clouds away,
The owls and bats, and all the birds of prey.
Each line of yours, like polished steel's so hard,
In beauty safe, it wants no other guard.
Nature herself's beholden to your dress,
Which though still like, much fairer you express.
Some vainly striving honour to obtain,
Leave to their heirs the traffic of their brain:
Like China under ground, the ripening ware,
In a long time, perhaps grows worth our care.
But you now reap the fame, so well you've sown;
The planter tastes his fruit to ripeness grown.
As a fair orange-tree at once is seen
Big with what's ripe, yet springing still with green,
So at one time, my worthy friend appears,
With all the sap of youth, and weight of years.
Accept my pious love, as forward zeal,
Which though it ruins me I can't conceal:
Exposed to censure for my weak applause,
I'm pleased to suffer in so just a cause;
And though my offering may unworthy prove,
Take, as a friend, the wishes of my love.

J. MARSH.



To Mr. Congreve, on his play called The Old Bachelor.



Wit, like true gold, refined from all allay,
Immortal is, and never can decay:
'Tis in all times and languages the same,
Nor can an ill translation quench the flame:
For, though the form and fashion don't remain,
The intrinsic value still it will retain.
Then let each studied scene be writ with art,
And judgment sweat to form the laboured part.
Each character be just, and nature seem:
Without th' ingredient, wit, 'tis all but phlegm:
For that's the soul, which all the mass must move,
And wake our passions into grief or love.
But you, too bounteous, sow your wit so thick,
We are surprised, and know not where to pick;
And while with clapping we are just to you,
Ourselves we injure, and lose something new.
What mayn't we then, great youth, of thee presage,
Whose art and wit so much transcend thy age?
How wilt thou shine at thy meridian height,
Who, at thy rising, giv'st so vast a light?
When Dryden dying shall the world deceive,
Whom we immortal, as his works, believe,
Thou shalt succeed, the glory of the stage,
Adorn and entertain the coming age.

BEVIL. HIGGONS.



PROLOGUE INTENDED FOR THE OLD BACHELOR.
Written by the Lord Falkland.



Most authors on the stage at first appear
Like widows' bridegrooms, full of doubt and fear:
They judge, from the experience of the dame,
How hard a task it is to quench her flame;
And who falls short of furnishing a course
Up to his brawny predecessor's force,
With utmost rage from her embraces thrown,
Remains convicted as an empty drone.
Thus often, to his shame, a pert beginner
Proves in the end a miserable sinner.
As for our youngster, I am apt to doubt him,
With all the vigour of his youth about him;
But he, more sanguine, trusts in one and twenty,
And impudently hopes he shall content you:
For though his bachelor be worn and cold,
He thinks the young may club to help the old,
And what alone can be achieved by neither,
Is often brought about by both together.
The briskest of you all have felt alarms,
Finding the fair one prostitute her charms
With broken sighs, in her old fumbler's arms:
But for our spark, he swears he'll ne'er be jealous
Of any rivals, but young lusty fellows.
Faith, let him try his chance, and if the slave,
After his bragging, prove a washy knave,
May he be banished to some lonely den
And never more have leave to dip his pen.
But if he be the champion he pretends,
Both sexes sure will join to be his friends,
For all agree, where all can have their ends.
And you must own him for a man of might,
If he holds out to please you the third night.



PROLOGUE.
Spoken by Mrs. Bracegirdle.



How this vile world is changed!  In former days
Prologues were serious speeches before plays,
Grave, solemn things, as graces are to feasts,
Where poets begged a blessing from their guests.
But now no more like suppliants we come;
A play makes war, and prologue is the drum.
Armed with keen satire and with pointed wit,
We threaten you who do for judges sit,
To save our plays, or else we'll damn your pit.
But for your comfort, it falls out to-day,
We've a young author and his first-born play;
So, standing only on his good behaviour,
He's very civil, and entreats your favour.
Not but the man has malice, would he show it,
But on my conscience he's a bashful poet;
You think that strange--no matter, he'll outgrow it.
Well, I'm his advocate:  by me he prays you
(I don't know whether I shall speak to please you),
He prays--O bless me! what shall I do now?
Hang me if I know what he prays, or how!
And 'twas the prettiest prologue as he wrote it!
Well, the deuce take me, if I han't forgot it.
O Lord, for heav'n's sake excuse the play,
Because, you know, if it be damned to-day,
I shall be hanged for wanting what to say.
For my sake then--but I'm in such confusion,
I cannot stay to hear your resolution.  [Runs off]



DRAMATIS PERSONAE



MEN.

HEARTWELL, a surly old bachelor, pretending to slight women,
secretly in love with Silvia--Mr. Betterton.
BELLMOUR, in love with Belinda--Mr. Powell
VAINLOVE, capricious in his love; in love with Araminta--Mr.
Williams
SHARPER--Mr. Verbruggen
SIR JOSEPH WITTOL--Mr. Bowen
CAPTAIN BLUFFE--Mr. Haines.
FONDLEWIFE, a banker--Mr. Dogget
SETTER, a pimp--Mr Underhill
SERVANT to Fondlewife.

WOMEN.

ARAMINTA, in love with Vainlove--Mrs. Bracegirdle
BELINDA, her cousin, an affected lady, in love with Bellmour--Mrs.
Mountfort
LAETITIA, wife to Fondlewife--Mrs. Barry
SYLVIA, Vainlove's forsaken mistress--Mrs. Bowman
LUCY, her maid--Mrs. Leigh
BETTY
BOY and FOOTMEN.

SCENE:  London.



THE OLD BACHELOR:  ACT I.--SCENE I.



SCENE:  The Street.

BELLMOUR and VAINLOVE meeting.

BELL.  Vainlove, and abroad so early!  Good-morrow; I thought a
contemplative lover could no more have parted with his bed in a
morning than he could have slept in't.

VAIN.  Bellmour, good-morrow.  Why, truth on't is, these early
sallies are not usual to me; but business, as you see, sir--
[Showing Letters.]  And business must be followed, or be lost.

BELL.  Business!  And so must time, my friend, be close pursued, or
lost.  Business is the rub of life, perverts our aim, casts off the
bias, and leaves us wide and short of the intended mark.

VAIN.  Pleasure, I guess you mean.

BELL.  Ay; what else has meaning?

VAIN.  Oh, the wise will tell you -

BELL.  More than they believe--or understand.

VAIN.  How, how, Ned!  A wise man say more than he understands?

BELL.  Ay, ay!  Wisdom's nothing but a pretending to know and
believe more than we really do.  You read of but one wise man, and
all that he knew was, that he knew nothing.  Come, come, leave
business to idlers and wisdom to fools; they have need of 'em.  Wit
be my faculty, and pleasure my occupation; and let Father Time
shake his glass.  Let low and earthly souls grovel till they have
worked themselves six foot deep into a grave.  Business is not my
element--I roll in a higher orb, and dwell -

VAIN.  In castles i' th' air of thy own building.  That's thy
element, Ned.  Well, as high a flier as you are, I have a lure may
make you stoop.  [Flings a Letter.]

BELL.  I, marry, sir, I have a hawk's eye at a woman's hand.
There's more elegancy in the false spelling of this superscription
[takes up the Letter] than in all Cicero.  Let me see.--How now!--
Dear PERFIDIOUS VAINLOVE.  [Reads.]

VAIN.  Hold, hold, 'slife, that's the wrong.

BELL.  Nay, let's see the name--Sylvia!--how canst thou be
ungrateful to that creature?  She's extremely pretty, and loves
thee entirely--I have heard her breathe such raptures about thee -

VAIN.  Ay, or anybody that she's about -

BELL.  No, faith, Frank, you wrong her; she has been just to you.

VAIN.  That's pleasant, by my troth, from thee, who hast had her.

BELL.  Never--her affections.  'Tis true, by heaven:  she owned it
to my face; and, blushing like the virgin morn when it disclosed
the cheat which that trusty bawd of nature, night, had hid,
confessed her soul was true to you; though I by treachery had
stolen the bliss.

VAIN.  So was true as turtle--in imagination--Ned, ha?  Preach this
doctrine to husbands, and the married women will adore thee.

BELL.  Why, faith, I think it will do well enough, if the husband
be out of the way, for the wife to show her fondness and impatience
of his absence by choosing a lover as like him as she can; and what
is unlike, she may help out with her own fancy.

VAIN.  But is it not an abuse to the lover to be made a blind of?

BELL.  As you say, the abuse is to the lover, not the husband.  For
'tis an argument of her great zeal towards him, that she will enjoy
him in effigy.

VAIN.  It must be a very superstitious country where such zeal
passes for true devotion.  I doubt it will be damned by all our
Protestant husbands for flat idolatry.  But, if you can make
Alderman Fondlewife of your persuasion, this letter will be
needless.

BELL.  What!  The old banker with the handsome wife?

VAIN.  Ay.

BELL.  Let me see--LAETITIA!  Oh, 'tis a delicious morsel.  Dear
Frank, thou art the truest friend in the world.

VAIN.  Ay, am I not?  To be continually starting of hares for you
to course.  We were certainly cut out for one another; for my
temper quits an amour just where thine takes it up.  But read that;
it is an appointment for me, this evening--when Fondlewife will be
gone out of town, to meet the master of a ship, about the return of
a venture which he's in danger of losing.  Read, read.

BELL.  [reads.]  Hum, Hum--Out of town this evening, and talks of
sending for Mr. Spintext to keep me company; but I'll take care he
shall not be at home.  Good!  Spintext!  Oh, the fanatic one-eyed
parson!

VAIN.  Ay.

BELL.  [reads.]  Hum, Hum--That your conversation will be much more
agreeable, if you can counterfeit his habit to blind the servants.
Very good!  Then I must be disguised?--With all my heart!--It adds
a gusto to an amour; gives it the greater resemblance of theft;
and, among us lewd mortals, the deeper the sin the sweeter.  Frank,
I'm amazed at thy good nature -

VAIN.  Faith, I hate love when 'tis forced upon a man, as I do
wine.  And this business is none of my seeking; I only happened to
be, once or twice, where Laetitia was the handsomest woman in
company; so, consequently, applied myself to her--and it seems she
has taken me at my word.  Had you been there, or anybody, 't had
been the same.

BELL.  I wish I may succeed as the same.

VAIN.  Never doubt it; for if the spirit of cuckoldom be once
raised up in a woman, the devil can't lay it, until she has done't.

BELL.  Prithee, what sort of fellow is Fondlewife?

VAIN.  A kind of mongrel zealot, sometimes very precise and
peevish.  But I have seen him pleasant enough in his way; much
addicted to jealousy, but more to fondness; so that as he is often
jealous without a cause, he's as often satisfied without reason.

BELL.  A very even temper, and fit for my purpose.  I must get your
man Setter to provide my disguise.

VAIN.  Ay; you may take him for good and all, if you will, for you
have made him fit for nobody else.  Well -

BELL.  You're going to visit in return of Sylvia's letter.  Poor
rogue!  Any hour of the day or night will serve her.  But do you
know nothing of a new rival there?

VAIN.  Yes; Heartwell--that surly, old, pretended woman-hater--
thinks her virtuous; that's one reason why I fail her.  I would
have her fret herself out of conceit with me, that she may
entertain some thoughts of him.  I know he visits her every day.

BELL.  Yet rails on still, and thinks his love unknown to us.  A
little time will swell him so, he must be forced to give it birth;
and the discovery must needs be very pleasant from himself, to see
what pains he will take, and how he will strain to be delivered of
a secret, when he has miscarried of it already.

VAIN.  Well, good-morrow.  Let's dine together; I'll meet at the
old place.

BELL.  With all my heart.  It lies convenient for us to pay our
afternoon services to our mistresses.  I find I am damnably in
love, I'm so uneasy for not having seen Belinda yesterday.

VAIN.  But I saw my Araminta, yet am as impatient.


SCENE II.


BELLMOUR alone.

BELL.  Why, what a cormorant in love am I!  Who, not contented with
the slavery of honourable love in one place, and the pleasure of
enjoying some half a score mistresses of my own acquiring, must yet
take Vainlove's business upon my hands, because it lay too heavy
upon his; so am not only forced to lie with other men's wives for
'em, but must also undertake the harder task of obliging their
mistresses.  I must take up, or I shall never hold out.  Flesh and
blood cannot bear it always.


SCENE III.


[To him] SHARPER.

SHARP.  I'm sorry to see this, Ned.  Once a man comes to his
soliloquies, I give him for gone.

BELL.  Sharper, I'm glad to see thee.

SHARP.  What! is Belinda cruel, that you are so thoughtful?

BELL.  No, faith, not for that.  But there's a business of
consequence fallen out to-day that requires some consideration.

SHARP.  Prithee, what mighty business of consequence canst thou
have?

BELL.  Why, you must know, 'tis a piece of work toward the
finishing of an alderman.  It seems I must put the last hand to it,
and dub him cuckold, that he may be of equal dignity with the rest
of his brethren:  so I must beg Belinda's pardon.

SHARP.  Faith, e'en give her over for good and all; you can have no
hopes of getting her for a mistress; and she is too proud, too
inconstant, too affected and too witty, and too handsome for a
wife.

BELL.  But she can't have too much money.  There's twelve thousand
pound, Tom.  'Tis true she is excessively foppish and affected; but
in my conscience I believe the baggage loves me:  for she never
speaks well of me herself, nor suffers anybody else to rail at me.
Then, as I told you, there's twelve thousand pound.  Hum!  Why,
faith, upon second thoughts, she does not appear to be so very
affected neither.--Give her her due, I think the woman's a woman,
and that's all.  As such, I'm sure I shall like her; for the devil
take me if I don't love all the sex.

SHARP.  And here comes one who swears as heartily he hates all the
sex.


SCENE IV.


[To them] HEARTWELL.

BELL.  Who?  Heartwell?  Ay, but he knows better things.  How now,
George, where hast thou been snarling odious truths, and
entertaining company, like a physician, with discourse of their
diseases and infirmities?  What fine lady hast thou been putting
out of conceit with herself, and persuading that the face she had
been making all the morning was none of her own?  For I know thou
art as unmannerly and as unwelcome to a woman as a looking-glass
after the smallpox.

HEART.  I confess I have not been sneering fulsome lies and
nauseous flattery; fawning upon a little tawdry whore, that will
fawn upon me again, and entertain any puppy that comes, like a
tumbler, with the same tricks over and over.  For such, I guess,
may have been your late employment.

BELL.  Would thou hadst come a little sooner.  Vainlove would have
wrought thy conversion, and been a champion for the cause.

HEART.  What! has he been here?  That's one of love's April fools;
is always upon some errand that's to no purpose; ever embarking in
adventures, yet never comes to harbour.

SHARP.  That's because he always sets out in foul weather, loves to
buffet with the winds, meet the tide, and sail in the teeth of
opposition.

HEART.  What!  Has he not dropt anchor at Araminta?

BELL.  Truth on't is she fits his temper best, is a kind of
floating island; sometimes seems in reach, then vanishes and keeps
him busied in the search.

SHARP.  She had need have a good share of sense to manage so
capricious a lover.

BELL.  Faith I don't know, he's of a temper the most easy to
himself in the world; he takes as much always of an amour as he
cares for, and quits it when it grows stale or unpleasant.

SHARP.  An argument of very little passion, very good
understanding, and very ill nature.

HEART.  And proves that Vainlove plays the fool with discretion.

SHARP.  You, Bellmour, are bound in gratitude to stickle for him;
you with pleasure reap that fruit, which he takes pains to sow:  he
does the drudgery in the mine, and you stamp your image on the
gold.

BELL.  He's of another opinion, and says I do the drudgery in the
mine.  Well, we have each our share of sport, and each that which
he likes best; 'tis his diversion to set, 'tis mine to cover the
partridge.

HEART.  And it should be mine to let 'em go again.

SHARP.  Not till you had mouthed a little, George.  I think that's
all thou art fit for now.

HEART.  Good Mr. Young-Fellow, you're mistaken; as able as
yourself, and as nimble, too, though I mayn't have so much mercury
in my limbs; 'tis true, indeed, I don't force appetite, but wait
the natural call of my lust, and think it time enough to be lewd
after I have had the temptation.

BELL.  Time enough, ay, too soon, I should rather have expected,
from a person of your gravity.

HEART.  Yet it is oftentimes too late with some of you young,
termagant, flashy sinners--you have all the guilt of the intention,
and none of the pleasure of the practice--'tis true you are so
eager in pursuit of the temptation, that you save the devil the
trouble of leading you into it.  Nor is it out of discretion that
you don't swallow that very hook yourselves have baited, but you
are cloyed with the preparative, and what you mean for a whet,
turns the edge of your puny stomachs.  Your love is like your
courage, which you show for the first year or two upon all
occasions; till in a little time, being disabled or disarmed, you
abate of your vigour; and that daring blade which was so often
drawn, is bound to the peace for ever after.

BELL.  Thou art an old fornicator of a singular good principle
indeed, and art for encouraging youth, that they may be as wicked
as thou art at thy years.

HEART.  I am for having everybody be what they pretend to be:  a
whoremaster be a whoremaster, and not like Vainlove, kiss a lap-dog
with passion, when it would disgust him from the lady's own lips.

BELL.  That only happens sometimes, where the dog has the sweeter
breath, for the more cleanly conveyance.  But, George, you must not
quarrel with little gallantries of this nature:  women are often
won by 'em.  Who would refuse to kiss a lap-dog, if it were
preliminary to the lips of his lady?

SHARP.  Or omit playing with her fan, and cooling her if she were
hot, when it might entitle him to the office of warming her when
she should be cold?

BELL.  What is it to read a play in a rainy day?  Though you should
be now and then interrupted in a witty scene, and she perhaps
preserve her laughter, till the jest were over; even that may be
borne with, considering the reward in prospect.

HEART.  I confess you that are women's asses bear greater burdens:
are forced to undergo dressing, dancing, singing, sighing, whining,
rhyming, flattering, lying, grinning, cringing, and the drudgery of
loving to boot.

BELL.  O brute, the drudgery of loving!

HEART.  Ay!  Why, to come to love through all these incumbrances is
like coming to an estate overcharged with debts, which, by the time
you have paid, yields no further profit than what the bare tillage
and manuring of the land will produce at the expense of your own
sweat.

BELL.  Prithee, how dost thou love?

SHARP.  He!  He hates the sex.

HEART.  So I hate physic too--yet I may love to take it for my
health.

BELL.  Well come off, George, if at any time you should be taken
straying.

SHARP.  He has need of such an excuse, considering the present
state of his body.

HEART.  How d'ye mean?

SHARP.  Why, if whoring be purging, as you call it, then, I may
say, marriage is entering into a course of physic.

BELL.  How, George!  Does the wind blow there?

HEART.  It will as soon blow north and by south--marry, quotha!  I
hope in heaven I have a greater portion of grace, and I think I
have baited too many of those traps to be caught in one myself.

BELL.  Who the devil would have thee? unless 'twere an oysterwoman
to propagate young fry for Billingsgate--thy talent will never
recommend thee to anything of better quality.

HEART.  My talent is chiefly that of speaking truth, which I don't
expect should ever recommend me to people of quality.  I thank
heaven I have very honestly purchased the hatred of all the great
families in town.

SHARP.  And you in return of spleen hate them.  But could you hope
to be received into the alliance of a noble family -

HEART.  No; I hope I shall never merit that affliction, to be
punished with a wife of birth, be a stag of the first head and bear
my horns aloft, like one of the supporters of my wife's coat.
S'death I would not be a Cuckold to e'er an illustrious whore in
England.

BELL.  What, not to make your family, man and provide for your
children?

SHARP.  For her children, you mean.

HEART.  Ay, there you've nicked it.  There's the devil upon devil.
Oh, the pride and joy of heart 'twould be to me to have my son and
heir resemble such a duke; to have a fleering coxcomb scoff and
cry, 'Mr. your son's mighty like his Grace, has just his smile and
air of's face.'  Then replies another, 'Methinks he has more of the
Marquess of such a place about his nose and eyes, though he has my
Lord what-d'ye-call's mouth to a tittle.'  Then I, to put it off as
unconcerned, come chuck the infant under the chin, force a smile,
and cry, 'Ay, the boy takes after his mother's relations,' when the
devil and she knows 'tis a little compound of the whole body of
nobility.

BELL+SHARP.  Ha, ha, ha!

BELL.  Well, but, George, I have one question to ask you -

HEART.  Pshaw, I have prattled away my time.  I hope you are in no
haste for an answer, for I shan't stay now.  [Looking on his
watch.]

BELL.  Nay, prithee, George -

HEART.  No; besides my business, I see a fool coming this way.
Adieu.


SCENE V.


SHARPER, BELLMOUR.

BELL.  What does he mean?  Oh, 'tis Sir Joseph Wittoll with his
friend; but I see he has turned the corner and goes another way.

SHARP.  What in the name of wonder is it?

BELL.  Why, a fool.

SHARP.  'Tis a tawdry outside.

BELL.  And a very beggarly lining--yet he may be worth your
acquaintance; a little of thy chymistry, Tom, may extract gold from
that dirt.

SHARP.  Say you so?  'Faith I am as poor as a chymist, and would be
as industrious.  But what was he that followed him?  Is not he a
dragon that watches those golden pippins?

BELL.  Hang him, no, he a dragon!  If he be, 'tis a very peaceful
one.  I can ensure his anger dormant; or should he seem to rouse,
'tis but well lashing him, and he will sleep like a top.

SHARP.  Ay, is he of that kidney?

BELL.  Yet is adored by that bigot, Sir Joseph Wittoll, as the
image of valour.  He calls him his back, and indeed they are never
asunder--yet, last night, I know not by what mischance, the knight
was alone, and had fallen into the hands of some night-walkers,
who, I suppose, would have pillaged him.  But I chanced to come by
and rescued him, though I believe he was heartily frightened; for
as soon as ever he was loose, he ran away without staying to see
who had helped him.

SHARP.  Is that bully of his in the army?

BELL.  No; but is a pretender, and wears the habit of a soldier,
which nowadays as often cloaks cowardice, as a black gown does
atheism.  You must know he has been abroad--went purely to run away
from a campaign; enriched himself with the plunder of a few oaths,
and here vents them against the general, who, slighting men of
merit, and preferring only those of interest, has made him quit the
service.

SHARP.  Wherein no doubt he magnifies his own performance.

BELL.  Speaks miracles, is the drum to his own praise--the only
implement of a soldier he resembles, like that, being full of
blustering noise and emptiness -

SHARP.  And like that, of no use but to be beaten.

BELL.  Right; but then the comparison breaks, for he will take a
drubbing with as little noise as a pulpit cushion.

SHARP.  His name, and I have done?

BELL.  Why, that, to pass it current too, he has gilded with a
title:  he is called Capt. Bluffe.

SHARP.  Well, I'll endeavour his acquaintance--you steer another
course, are bound -

For love's island:  I, for the golden coast.
May each succeed in what he wishes most.



ACT II.--SCENE I.



SIR JOSEPH WITTOLL, SHARPER following.

SHARP.  Sure that's he, and alone.

SIR JO.  Um--Ay, this, this is the very damned place; the inhuman
cannibals, the bloody-minded villains, would have butchered me last
night.  No doubt they would have flayed me alive, have sold my
skin, and devoured, etc.

SHARP.  How's this!

SIR JO.  An it hadn't been for a civil gentleman as came by and
frighted 'em away--but, agad, I durst not stay to give him thanks.

SHARP.  This must be Bellmour he means.  Ha!  I have a thought -

SIR JO.  Zooks, would the captain would come; the very remembrance
makes me quake; agad, I shall never be reconciled to this place
heartily.

SHARP.  'Tis but trying, and being where I am at worst, now luck!--
cursed fortune! this must be the place, this damned unlucky place -

SIR JO.  Agad, and so 'tis.  Why, here has been more mischief done,
I perceive.

SHARP.  No, 'tis gone, 'tis lost--ten thousand devils on that
chance which drew me hither; ay, here, just here, this spot to me
is hell; nothing to be found, but the despair of what I've lost.
[Looking about as in search.]

SIR JO.  Poor gentleman!  By the Lord Harry I'll stay no longer,
for I have found too -

SHARP.  Ha! who's that has found?  What have you found?  Restore it
quickly, or by -

SIR JO.  Not I, sir, not I; as I've a soul to be saved, I have
found nothing but what has been to my loss, as I may say, and as
you were saying, sir.

SHARP.  Oh, your servant, sir; you are safe, then, it seems.  'Tis
an ill wind that blows nobody good.  Well, you may rejoice over my
ill fortune, since it paid the price of your ransom.

SIR JO.  I rejoice! agad, not I, sir:  I'm very sorry for your
loss, with all my heart, blood and guts, sir; and if you did but
know me, you'd ne'er say I were so ill-natured.

SHARP.  Know you!  Why, can you be so ungrateful to forget me?

SIR JO.  O Lord, forget him!  No, no, sir, I don't forget you--
because I never saw your face before, agad.  Ha, ha, ha!

SHARP.  How!  [Angrily.]

SIR JO.  Stay, stay, sir, let me recollect--he's a damned angry
fellow--I believe I had better remember him, until I can get out of
his sight; but out of sight out of mind, agad.  [Aside.]

SHARP.  Methought the service I did you last night, sir, in
preserving you from those ruffians, might have taken better root in
your shallow memory.

SIR JO.  Gads-daggers-belts-blades and scabbards, this is the very
gentleman!  How shall I make him a return suitable to the greatness
of his merit?  I had a pretty thing to that purpose, if he ha'n't
frighted it out of my memory.  Hem! hem! sir, I most submissively
implore your pardon for my transgression of ingratitude and
omission; having my entire dependence, sir, upon the superfluity of
your goodness, which, like an inundation, will, I hope, totally
immerge the recollection of my error, and leave me floating, in
your sight, upon the full-blown bladders of repentance--by the help
of which, I shall once more hope to swim into your favour.  [Bows.]

SHARP.  So-h, oh, sir, I am easily pacified, the acknowledgment of
a gentleman -

SIR JO.  Acknowledgment!  Sir, I am all over acknowledgment, and
will not stick to show it in the greatest extremity by night or by
day, in sickness or in health, winter or summer; all seasons and
occasions shall testify the reality and gratitude of your
superabundant humble servant, Sir Joseph Wittoll, knight.  Hem!
hem!

SHARP.  Sir Joseph Wittoll?

SIR JO.  The same, sir, of Wittoll Hall in COMITATU Bucks.

SHARP.  Is it possible!  Then I am happy to have obliged the mirror
of knighthood and pink of courtesie in the age.  Let me embrace
you.

SIR JO.  O Lord, sir!

SHARP.  My loss I esteem as a trifle repaid with interest, since it
has purchased me the friendship and acquaintance of the person in
the world whose character I admire.

SIR JO.  You are only pleased to say so, sir.  But, pray, if I may
be so bold, what is that loss you mention?

SHARP.  Oh, term it no longer so, sir.  In the scuffle last night I
only dropt a bill of a hundred pound, which, I confess, I came half
despairing to recover; but, thanks to my better fortune -

SIR JO.  You have found it, sir, then, it seems; I profess I'm
heartily glad -

SHARP.  Sir, your humble servant.  I don't question but you are,
that you have so cheap an opportunity of expressing your gratitude
and generosity, since the paying so trivial a sum will wholly
acquit you and doubly engage me.

SIR JO.  What a dickens does he mean by a trivial sum?  [Aside.]
But ha'n't you found it, sir!

SHARP.  No otherwise, I vow to Gad, but in my hopes in you, sir.

SIR JO.  Humh.

SHARP.  But that's sufficient.  'Twere injustice to doubt the
honour of Sir Joseph Wittoll.

SIR JO.  O Lord, sir.

SHARP.  You are above, I'm sure, a thought so low, to suffer me to
lose what was ventured in your service; nay, 'twas in a manner paid
down for your deliverance; 'twas so much lent you.  And you scorn,
I'll say that for you -

SIR JO.  Nay, I'll say that for myself, with your leave, sir, I do
scorn a dirty thing.  But, agad, I'm a little out of pocket at
present.

SHARP.  Pshaw, you can't want a hundred pound.  Your word is
sufficient anywhere.  'Tis but borrowing so much dirt.  You have
large acres, and can soon repay it.  Money is but dirt, Sir Joseph-
-mere dirt.

SIR JO.  But, I profess, 'tis a dirt I have washed my hands of at
present; I have laid it all out upon my Back.

SHARP.  Are you so extravagant in clothes, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO.  Ha, ha, ha, a very good jest, I profess, ha, ha, ha, a
very good jest, and I did not know that I had said it, and that's a
better jest than t'other.  'Tis a sign you and I ha'n't been long
acquainted; you have lost a good jest for want of knowing me--I
only mean a friend of mine whom I call my Back; he sticks as close
to me, and follows me through all dangers--he is indeed back,
breast, and head-piece, as it were, to me.  Agad, he's a brave
fellow.  Pauh, I am quite another thing when I am with him:  I
don't fear the devil (bless us) almost if he be by.  Ah! had he
been with me last night -

SHARP.  If he had, sir, what then? he could have done no more, nor
perhaps have suffered so much.  Had he a hundred pound to lose?
[Angrily]

SIR JO.  O Lord, sir, by no means, but I might have saved a hundred
pound:  I meant innocently, as I hope to be saved, sir (a damned
hot fellow), only, as I was saying, I let him have all my ready
money to redeem his great sword from limbo.  But, sir, I have a
letter of credit to Alderman Fondlewife, as far as two hundred
pound, and this afternoon you shall see I am a person, such a one
as you would wish to have met with -

SHARP.  That you are, I'll be sworn.  [Aside.]  Why, that's great
and like yourself.


SCENE II.


[To them] CAPTAIN BLUFFE.

SIR JO.  Oh, here a' comes--Ay, my Hector of Troy, welcome, my
bully, my Back; agad, my heart has gone a pit pat for thee.

BLUFF.  How now, my young knight?  Not for fear, I hope; he that
knows me must be a stranger to fear.

SIR JO.  Nay, agad, I hate fear ever since I had like to have died
of a fright.  But -

BLUFF.  But?  Look you here, boy, here's your antidote, here's your
Jesuits' powder for a shaking fit.  But who hast thou got with
thee? is he of mettle?  [Laying his hand upon his sword.]

SIR JO.  Ay, bully, a devilish smart fellow:  'a will fight like a
cock.

BLUFF.  Say you so?  Then I honour him.  But has he been abroad?
for every cock will fight upon his own dunghill.

SIR JO.  I don't know, but I'll present you -

BLUFF.  I'll recommend myself.  Sir, I honour you; I understand you
love fighting, I reverence a man that loves fighting.  Sir, I kiss
your hilts.

SHARP.  Sir, your servant, but you are misinformed, for, unless it
be to serve my particular friend, as Sir Joseph here, my country,
or my religion, or in some very justifiable cause, I'm not for it.

BLUFF.  O Lord, I beg your pardon, sir, I find you are not of my
palate:  you can't relish a dish of fighting without sweet sauce.
Now, I think fighting for fighting sake's sufficient cause;
fighting to me's religion and the laws.

SIR JO.  Ah, well said, my Hero; was not that great, sir? by the
Lord Harry he says true; fighting is meat, drink, and cloth to him.
But, Back, this gentleman is one of the best friends I have in the
world, and saved my life last night--you know I told you.

BLUFF.  Ay!  Then I honour him again.  Sir, may I crave your name?

SHARP.  Ay, sir, my name's Sharper.

SIR JO.  Pray, Mr. Sharper, embrace my Back.  Very well.  By the
Lord Harry, Mr. Sharper, he's as brave a fellow as Cannibal, are
not you, Bully-Back?

SHARP.  Hannibal, I believe you mean, Sir Joseph.

BLUFF.  Undoubtedly he did, sir; faith, Hannibal was a very pretty
fellow--but, Sir Joseph, comparisons are odious--Hannibal was a
very pretty fellow in those days, it must be granted--but alas,
sir! were he alive now, he would be nothing, nothing in the earth.

SHARP.  How, sir!  I make a doubt if there be at this day a greater
general breathing.

BLUFF.  Oh, excuse me, sir!  Have you served abroad, sir?

SHARP.  Not I, really, sir.

BLUFF.  Oh, I thought so.  Why, then, you can know nothing, sir:  I
am afraid you scarce know the history of the late war in Flanders,
with all its particulars.

SHARP.  Not I, sir, no more than public letters or gazettes tell
us.

BLUFF.  Gazette!  Why there again now.  Why, sir, there are not
three words of truth the year round put into the Gazette.  I'll
tell you a strange thing now as to that.  You must know, sir, I was
resident in Flanders the last campaign, had a small post there, but
no matter for that.  Perhaps, sir, there was scarce anything of
moment done but an humble servant of yours, that shall be nameless,
was an eye-witness of.  I won't say had the greatest share in't,
though I might say that too, since I name nobody you know.  Well,
Mr. Sharper, would you think it?  In all this time, as I hope for a
truncheon, this rascally gazette-writer never so much as once
mentioned me--not once, by the wars--took no more notice than as if
Nol. Bluffe had not been in the land of the living.

SHARP.  Strange!

SIR JO.  Yet, by the Lord Harry, 'tis true, Mr. Sharper, for I went
every day to coffee-houses to read the gazette myself.

BLUFF.  Ay, ay, no matter.  You see, Mr. Sharper, after all I am
content to retire; live a private person.  Scipio and others have
done it.

SHARP.  Impudent rogue.  [Aside.]

SIR JO.  Ay, this damned modesty of yours.  Agad, if he would put
in for't he might be made general himself yet.

BLUFF.  Oh, fie! no, Sir Joseph; you know I hate this.

SIR JO.  Let me but tell Mr. Sharper a little, how you ate fire
once out of the mouth of a cannon.  Agad, he did; those
impenetrable whiskers of his have confronted flames -

BLUFF.  Death, what do you mean, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO.  Look you now.  I tell you he's so modest he'll own
nothing.

BLUFF.  Pish, you have put me out, I have forgot what I was about.
Pray hold your tongue, and give me leave.  [Angrily.]

SIR JO.  I am dumb.

BLUFF.  This sword I think I was telling you of, Mr. Sharper.  This
sword I'll maintain to be the best divine, anatomist, lawyer, or
casuist in Europe; it shall decide a controversy or split a cause -

SIR JO.  Nay, now I must speak; it will split a hair, by the Lord
Harry, I have seen it.

BLUFF.  Zounds, sir, it's a lie; you have not seen it, nor sha'n't
see it; sir, I say you can't see; what d'ye say to that now?

SIR JO.  I am blind.

BLUFF.  Death, had any other man interrupted me -

SIR JO.  Good Mr. Sharper, speak to him; I dare not look that way.

SHARP.  Captain, Sir Joseph's penitent.

BLUFF.  Oh, I am calm, sir, calm as a discharged culverin.  But
'twas indiscreet, when you know what will provoke me.  Nay, come,
Sir Joseph, you know my heat's soon over.

SIR JO.  Well, I am a fool sometimes, but I'm sorry.

BLUFF.  Enough.

SIR JO.  Come, we'll go take a glass to drown animosities.  Mr.
Sharper, will you partake?

SHARP.  I wait on you, sir.  Nay, pray, Captain; you are Sir
Joseph's back.


SCENE III.


ARAMINTA, BELINDA, BETTY waiting, in Araminta's apartment.

BELIN.  Ah! nay, dear; prithee, good, dear, sweet cousin, no more.
O Gad!  I swear you'd make one sick to hear you.

ARAM.  Bless me! what have I said to move you thus?

BELIN.  Oh, you have raved, talked idly, and all in commendation of
that filthy, awkward, two-legged creature man.  You don't know what
you've said; your fever has transported you.

ARAM.  If love be the fever which you mean, kind heaven avert the
cure.  Let me have oil to feed that flame, and never let it be
extinct till I myself am ashes.

BELIN.  There was a whine!  O Gad, I hate your horrid fancy.  This
love is the devil, and, sure, to be in love is to be possessed.
'Tis in the head, the heart, the blood, the--all over.  O Gad, you
are quite spoiled.  I shall loathe the sight of mankind for your
sake.

ARAM.  Fie! this is gross affectation.  A little of Bellmour's
company would change the scene.

BELIN.  Filthy fellow!  I wonder, cousin -

ARAM.  I wonder, cousin, you should imagine I don't perceive you
love him.

BELIN.  Oh, I love your hideous fancy!  Ha, ha, ha, love a man!

ARAM.  Love a man! yes, you would not love a beast.

BELIN.  Of all beasts not an ass--which is so like your Vainlove.
Lard, I have seen an ass look so chagrin, ha, ha, ha (you must
pardon me, I can't help laughing), that an absolute lover would
have concluded the poor creature to have had darts, and flames, and
altars, and all that in his breast.  Araminta, come, I'll talk
seriously to you now; could you but see with my eyes the buffoonery
of one scene of address, a lover, set out with all his equipage and
appurtenances; O Gad I sure you would--But you play the game, and
consequently can't see the miscarriages obvious to every stander
by.

ARAM.  Yes, yes; I can see something near it when you and Bellmour
meet.  You don't know that you dreamt of Bellmour last night, and
called him aloud in your sleep.

BELIN.  Pish, I can't help dreaming of the devil sometimes; would
you from thence infer I love him?

ARAM.  But that's not all; you caught me in your arms when you
named him, and pressed me to your bosom.  Sure, if I had not
pinched you until you waked, you had stifled me with kisses.

BELIN.  O barbarous aspersion!

ARAM.  No aspersion, cousin, we are alone.  Nay, I can tell you
more.

BELIN.  I deny it all.

ARAM.  What, before you hear it?

BELIN.  My denial is premeditated like your malice.  Lard, cousin,
you talk oddly.  Whatever the matter is, O my Sol, I'm afraid
you'll follow evil courses.

ARAM.  Ha, ha, ha, this is pleasant.

BELIN.  You may laugh, but -

ARAM.  Ha, ha, ha!

BELIN.  You think the malicious grin becomes you.  The devil take
Bellmour.  Why do you tell me of him?

ARAM.  Oh, is it come out?  Now you are angry, I am sure you love
him.  I tell nobody else, cousin.  I have not betrayed you yet.

BELIN.  Prithee tell it all the world; it's false.

ARAM.  Come, then, kiss and friends.

BELIN.  Pish.

ARAM.  Prithee don't be so peevish.

BELIN.  Prithee don't be so impertinent.  Betty!

ARAM.  Ha, ha, ha!

BETTY.  Did your ladyship call, madam?

BELIN.  Get my hoods and tippet, and bid the footman call a chair.

ARAM.  I hope you are not going out in dudgeon, cousin.


SCENE IV.


[To them] FOOTMAN.

FOOT.  Madam, there are -

BELIN.  Is there a chair?

FOOT.  No, madam, there are Mr. Bellmour and Mr. Vainlove to wait
upon your ladyship.

ARAM.  Are they below?

FOOT.  No, madam, they sent before, to know if you were at home.

BELIN.  The visit's to you, cousin; I suppose I am at my liberty.

ARAM.  Be ready to show 'em up.


SCENE V.


[To them] BETTY, with Hoods and Looking-glass.

I can't tell, cousin; I believe we are equally concerned.  But if
you continue your humour, it won't be very entertaining.  (I know
she'd fain be persuaded to stay.)  [Aside.]

BELIN.  I shall oblige you, in leaving you to the full and free
enjoyment of that conversation you admire.

BELIN.  Let me see; hold the glass.  Lard, I look wretchedly to-
day!

ARAM.  Betty, why don't you help my cousin?  [Putting on her
hoods.]

BELIN.  Hold off your fists, and see that he gets a chair with a
high roof, or a very low seat.  Stay, come back here, you Mrs.
Fidget--you are so ready to go to the footman.  Here, take 'em all
again, my mind's changed; I won't go.


SCENE VI.


ARAMINTA, BELINDA.

ARAM.  So, this I expected.  You won't oblige me, then, cousin, and
let me have all the company to myself?

BELIN.  No; upon deliberation, I have too much charity to trust you
to yourself.  The devil watches all opportunities; and in this
favourable disposition of your mind, heaven knows how far you may
be tempted:  I am tender of your reputation.

ARAM.  I am obliged to you.  But who's malicious now, Belinda?

BELIN.  Not I; witness my heart, I stay out of pure affection.

ARAM.  In my conscience I believe you.


SCENE VII.


[To them] VAINLOVE, BELLMOUR, FOOTMAN.

BELL.  So, fortune be praised!  To find you both within, ladies, is
-

ARAM.  No miracle, I hope.

BELL.  Not o' your side, madam, I confess.  But my tyrant there and
I, are two buckets that can never come together.

BELIN.  Nor are ever like.  Yet we often meet and clash.

BELL.  How never like! marry, Hymen forbid.  But this it is to run
so extravagantly in debt; I have laid out such a world of love in
your service, that you think you can never be able to pay me all.
So shun me for the same reason that you would a dun.

BELIN.  Ay, on my conscience, and the most impertinent and
troublesome of duns--a dun for money will be quiet, when he sees
his debtor has not wherewithal.  But a dun for love is an eternal
torment that never rests -

BELL.  Until he has created love where there was none, and then
gets it for his pains.  For importunity in love, like importunity
at Court, first creates its own interest and then pursues it for
the favour.

ARAM.  Favours that are got by impudence and importunity, are like
discoveries from the rack, when the afflicted person, for his ease,
sometimes confesses secrets his heart knows nothing of.

VAIN.  I should rather think favours, so gained, to be due rewards
to indefatigable devotion.  For as love is a deity, he must be
served by prayer.

BELIN.  O Gad, would you would all pray to love, then, and let us
alone.

VAIN.  You are the temples of love, and 'tis through you, our
devotion must be conveyed.

ARAM.  Rather poor silly idols of your own making, which upon the
least displeasure you forsake and set up new.  Every man now
changes his mistress and his religion as his humour varies, or his
interest.

VAIN.  O madam -

ARAM.  Nay, come, I find we are growing serious, and then we are in
great danger of being dull.  If my music-master be not gone, I'll
entertain you with a new song, which comes pretty near my own
opinion of love and your sex.  Who's there?  Is Mr. Gavot gone?
[Calls.]

FOOT.  Only to the next door, madam.  I'll call him.


SCENE VIII.


ARAMINTA, BELINDA, VAINLOVE, and BELLMOUR.

BELL.  Why, you won't hear me with patience.

ARAM.  What's the matter, cousin?

BELL.  Nothing, madam, only -

BELIN.  Prithee hold thy tongue.  Lard, he has so pestered me with
flames and stuff, I think I sha'n't endure the sight of a fire this
twelvemonth.

BELL.  Yet all can't melt that cruel frozen heart.

BELIN.  O Gad, I hate your hideous fancy--you said that once
before--if you must talk impertinently, for Heaven's sake let it be
with variety; don't come always, like the devil, wrapt in flames.
I'll not hear a sentence more, that begins with an 'I burn'--or an
'I beseech you, madam.'

BELL.  But tell me how you would be adored.  I am very tractable.

BELIN.  Then know, I would be adored in silence.

BELL.  Humph, I thought so, that you might have all the talk to
yourself.  You had better let me speak; for if my thoughts fly to
any pitch, I shall make villainous signs.

BELIN.  What will you get by that; to make such signs as I won't
understand?

BELL.  Ay, but if I'm tongue-tied, I must have all my actions free
to--quicken your apprehension--and I-gad let me tell you, my most
prevailing argument is expressed in dumb show.


SCENE IX.


[To them] MUSIC-MASTER.

ARAM.  Oh, I am glad we shall have a song to divert the discourse.
Pray oblige us with the last new song.

SONG.

I.

Thus to a ripe, consenting maid,
Poor, old, repenting Delia said,
Would you long preserve your lover?
Would you still his goddess reign?
Never let him all discover,
Never let him much obtain.

II.

Men will admire, adore and die,
While wishing at your feet they lie:
But admitting their embraces,
Wakes 'em from the golden dream;
Nothing's new besides our faces,
Every woman is the same.

ARAM.  So, how de'e like the song, gentlemen?

BELL.  Oh, very well performed; but I don't much admire the words.

ARAM.  I expected it; there's too much truth in 'em.  If Mr. Gavot
will walk with us in the garden, we'll have it once again; you may
like it better at second hearing.  You'll bring my cousin.

BELL.  Faith, madam, I dare not speak to her, but I'll make signs.
[Addresses Belinda in dumb show.]

BELIN.  Oh, foh, your dumb rhetoric is more ridiculous than your
talking impertinence, as an ape is a much more troublesome animal
than a parrot.

ARAM.  Ay, cousin, and 'tis a sign the creatures mimic nature well;
for there are few men but do more silly things than they say.

BELL.  Well, I find my apishness has paid the ransom for my speech,
and set it at liberty--though, I confess, I could be well enough
pleased to drive on a love-bargain in that silent manner--'twould
save a man a world of lying and swearing at the year's end.
Besides, I have had a little experience, that brings to mind -

When wit and reason both have failed to move;
Kind looks and actions (from success) do prove,
Ev'n silence may be eloquent in love.



ACT III.--SCENE I.



SCENE:  The Street.

SILVIA and LUCY.

SILV.  Will he not come, then?

LUCY.  Yes, yes; come, I warrant him, if you will go in and be
ready to receive him.

SILV.  Why did you not tell me?  Whom mean you?

LUCY.  Whom you should mean, Heartwell.

SILV.  Senseless creature, I meant my Vainlove.

LUCY.  You may as soon hope to recover your own maiden-head as his
love.  Therefore, e'en set your heart at rest, and in the name of
opportunity mind your own business.  Strike Heartwell home before
the bait's worn off the hook.  Age will come.  He nibbled fairly
yesterday, and no doubt will be eager enough to-day to swallow the
temptation.

SILV.  Well, since there's no remedy--yet tell me--for I would
know, though to the anguish of my soul, how did he refuse?  Tell
me, how did he receive my letter--in anger or in scorn?

LUCY.  Neither; but what was ten times worse, with damned senseless
indifference.  By this light I could have spit in his face.
Receive it!  Why, he received it as I would one of your lovers that
should come empty-handed; as a court lord does his mercer's bill or
a begging dedication--he received it as if 't had been a letter
from his wife.

SILV.  What! did he not read it?

LUCY.  Hummed it over, gave you his respects, and said he would
take time to peruse it--but then he was in haste.

SILV.  Respects, and peruse it!  He's gone, and Araminta has
bewitched him from me.  Oh, how the name of rival fires my blood.
I could curse 'em both; eternal jealousy attend her love, and
disappointment meet his.  Oh that I could revenge the torment he
has caused; methinks I feel the woman strong within me, and
vengeance kindles in the room of love.

LUCY.  I have that in my head may make mischief.

SILV.  How, dear Lucy?

LUCY.  You know Araminta's dissembled coyness has won, and keeps
him hers -

SILV.  Could we persuade him that she loves another -

LUCY.  No, you're out; could we persuade him that she dotes on him,
himself.  Contrive a kind letter as from her, 'twould disgust his
nicety, and take away his stomach.

SILV.  Impossible; 'twill never take.

LUCY.  Trouble not your head.  Let me alone--I will inform myself
of what passed between 'em to-day, and about it straight.  Hold,
I'm mistaken, or that's Heartwell, who stands talking at the
corner--'tis he--go get you in, madam, receive him pleasantly,
dress up your face in innocence and smiles, and dissemble the very
want of dissimulation.  You know what will take him.

SILV.  'Tis as hard to counterfeit love as it is to conceal it:
but I'll do my weak endeavour, though I fear I have not art.

LUCY.  Hang art, madam, and trust to nature for dissembling.

Man was by nature woman's cully made:
We never are but by ourselves betrayed.


SCENE II.


HEARTWELL, VAINLOVE and BELLMOUR following.

BELL.  Hist, hist, is not that Heartwell going to Silvia?

VAIN.  He's talking to himself, I think; prithee let's try if we
can hear him.

HEART.  Why, whither in the devil's name am I agoing now?  Hum--let
me think--is not this Silvia's house, the cave of that enchantress,
and which consequently I ought to shun as I would infection?  To
enter here is to put on the envenomed shirt, to run into the
embraces of a fever, and in some raving fit, be led to plunge
myself into that more consuming fire, a woman's arms.  Ha! well
recollected, I will recover my reason, and be gone.

BELL.  Now Venus forbid!

VAIN.  Hush -

HEART.  Well, why do you not move?  Feet, do your office--not one
inch; no, fore Gad I'm caught.  There stands my north, and thither
my needle points.  Now could I curse myself, yet cannot repent.  O
thou delicious, damned, dear, destructive woman!  S'death, how the
young fellows will hoot me!  I shall be the jest of the town:  nay,
in two days I expect to be chronicled in ditty, and sung in woful
ballad, to the tune of the Superannuated Maiden's Comfort, or the
Bachelor's Fall; and upon the third, I shall be hanged in effigy,
pasted up for the exemplary ornament of necessary houses and
cobblers' stalls.  Death, I can't think on't--I'll run into the
danger to lose the apprehension.


SCENE III.


BELLMOUR, VAINLOVE.

BELL.  A very certain remedy, probatum est.  Ha, ha, ha, poor
George, thou art i' th' right, thou hast sold thyself to laughter;
the ill-natured town will find the jest just where thou hast lost
it.  Ha, ha, how a' struggled, like an old lawyer between two fees.

VAIN.  Or a young wench between pleasure and reputation.

BELL.  Or as you did to-day, when half afraid you snatched a kiss
from Araminta.

VAIN.  She has made a quarrel on't.

BELL.  Pauh, women are only angry at such offences to have the
pleasure of forgiving them.

VAIN.  And I love to have the pleasure of making my peace.  I
should not esteem a pardon if too easily won.

BELL.  Thou dost not know what thou wouldst be at; whether thou
wouldst have her angry or pleased.  Couldst thou be content to
marry Araminta?

VAIN.  Could you be content to go to heaven?

BELL.  Hum, not immediately, in my conscience not heartily.  I'd do
a little more good in my generation first, in order to deserve it.

VAIN.  Nor I to marry Araminta till I merit her.

BELL.  But how the devil dost thou expect to get her if she never
yield?

VAIN.  That's true; but I would -

BELL.  Marry her without her consent; thou 'rt a riddle beyond
woman -


SCENE IV.


[To them] SETTER.

Trusty Setter, what tidings?  How goes the project?

SETTER.  As all lewd projects do, sir, where the devil prevents our
endeavours with success.

BELL.  A good hearing, Setter.

VAIN.  Well, I'll leave you with your engineer.

BELL.  And hast thou provided necessaries?

SETTER.  All, all, sir; the large sanctified hat, and the little
precise band, with a swinging long spiritual cloak, to cover carnal
knavery--not forgetting the black patch, which Tribulation Spintext
wears, as I'm informed, upon one eye, as a penal mourning for the
ogling offences of his youth; and some say, with that eye he first
discovered the frailty of his wife.

BELL.  Well, in this fanatic father's habit will I confess
Laetitia.

SETTER.  Rather prepare her for confession, sir, by helping her to
sin.

BELL.  Be at your master's lodging in the evening; I shall use the
robes.


SCENE V.


SETTER alone.

SETTER.  I shall, sir.  I wonder to which of these two gentlemen I
do most properly appertain:  the one uses me as his attendant; the
other (being the better acquainted with my parts) employs me as a
pimp; why, that's much the more honourable employment--by all
means.  I follow one as my master, the other follows me as his
conductor.


SCENE VI.


[To him] Lucy.

LUCY.  There's the hang-dog, his man--I had a power over him in the
reign of my mistress; but he is too true a VALET DE CHAMBRE not to
affect his master's faults, and consequently is revolted from his
allegiance.

SETTER.  Undoubtedly 'tis impossible to be a pimp and not a man of
parts.  That is without being politic, diligent, secret, wary, and
so forth--and to all this valiant as Hercules--that is, passively
valiant and actively obedient.  Ah, Setter, what a treasure is here
lost for want of being known.

LUCY.  Here's some villainy afoot; he's so thoughtful.  May be I
may discover something in my mask.  Worthy sir, a word with you.
[Puts on her mask.]

SETTER.  Why, if I were known, I might come to be a great man -

LUCY.  Not to interrupt your meditation -

SETTER.  And I should not be the first that has procured his
greatness by pimping.

LUCY.  Now poverty and the pox light upon thee for a contemplative
pimp.

SETTER.  Ha! what art who thus maliciously hast awakened me from my
dream of glory?  Speak, thou vile disturber -

LUCY.  Of thy most vile cogitations--thou poor, conceited wretch,
how wert thou valuing thyself upon thy master's employment?  For
he's the head pimp to Mr. Bellmour.

SETTER.  Good words, damsel, or I shall--But how dost thou know my
master or me?

LUCY.  Yes; I know both master and man to be -

SETTER.  To be men, perhaps; nay, faith, like enough:  I often
march in the rear of my master, and enter the breaches which he has
made.

LUCY.  Ay, the breach of faith, which he has begun:  thou traitor
to thy lawful princess.

SETTER.  Why, how now! prithee who art?  Lay by that worldly face
and produce your natural vizor.

LUCY.  No, sirrah, I'll keep it on to abuse thee and leave thee
without hopes of revenge.

SETTER.  Oh!  I begin to smoke ye:  thou art some forsaken Abigail
we have dallied with heretofore--and art come to tickle thy
imagination with remembrance of iniquity past.

LUCY.  No thou pitiful flatterer of thy master's imperfections;
thou maukin made up of the shreds and parings of his superfluous
fopperies.

SETTER.  Thou art thy mistress's foul self, composed of her sullied
iniquities and clothing.

LUCY.  Hang thee, beggar's cur, thy master is but a mumper in love,
lies canting at the gate; but never dares presume to enter the
house.

SETTER.  Thou art the wicket to thy mistress's gate, to be opened
for all comers.  In fine thou art the highroad to thy mistress.

LUCY.  Beast, filthy toad, I can hold no longer, look and tremble.
[Unmasks.]

SETTER.  How, Mrs. Lucy!

LUCY.  I wonder thou hast the impudence to look me in the face.

SETTER.  Adsbud, who's in fault, mistress of mine? who flung the
first stone? who undervalued my function? and who the devil could
know you by instinct?

LUCY.  You could know my office by instinct, and be hanged, which
you have slandered most abominably.  It vexes me not what you said
of my person; but that my innocent calling should be exposed and
scandalised--I cannot bear it.

SETTER.  Nay, faith, Lucy, I'm sorry, I'll own myself to blame,
though we were both in fault as to our offices--come, I'll make you
any reparation.

LUCY.  Swear.

SETTER.  I do swear to the utmost of my power.

LUCY.  To be brief, then; what is the reason your master did not
appear to-day according to the summons I brought him?

SETTER.  To answer you as briefly--he has a cause to be tried in
another court.

LUCY.  Come, tell me in plain terms, how forward he is with
Araminta.

SETTER.  Too forward to be turned back--though he's a little in
disgrace at present about a kiss which he forced.  You and I can
kiss, Lucy, without all that.

LUCY.  Stand off--he's a precious jewel.

SETTER.  And therefore you'd have him to set in your lady's locket.

LUCY.  Where is he now?

SETTER.  He'll be in the Piazza presently.

LUCY.  Remember to-day's behaviour.  Let me see you with a penitent
face.

SETTER.  What, no token of amity, Lucy?  You and I don't use to
part with dry lips.

LUCY.  No, no, avaunt--I'll not be slabbered and kissed now--I'm
not i' th' humour.

SETTER.  I'll not quit you so.  I'll follow and put you into the
humour.


SCENE VII.


SIR JOSEPH WITTOLL, BLUFFE.

BLUFF.  And so, out of your unwonted generosity -

SIR JO.  And good-nature, Back; I am good-natured and I can't help
it.

BLUFF.  You have given him a note upon Fondlewife for a hundred
pound.

SIR JO.  Ay, ay, poor fellow; he ventured fair for't.

BLUFF.  You have disobliged me in it--for I have occasion for the
money, and if you would look me in the face again and live, go, and
force him to redeliver you the note.  Go, and bring it me hither.
I'll stay here for you.

SIR JO.  You may stay until the day of judgment, then, by the Lord
Harry.  I know better things than to be run through the guts for a
hundred pounds.  Why, I gave that hundred pound for being saved,
and de'e think, an there were no danger, I'll be so ungrateful to
take it from the gentleman again?

BLUFF.  Well, go to him from me--tell him, I say, he must refund--
or Bilbo's the world, and slaughter will ensue.  If he refuse, tell
him--but whisper that--tell him--I'll pink his soul.  But whisper
that softly to him.

SIR JO.  So softly that he shall never hear on't, I warrant you.
Why, what a devil's the matter, Bully; are you mad? or de'e think
I'm mad?  Agad, for my part, I don't love to be the messenger of
ill news; 'tis an ungrateful office--so tell him yourself.

BLUFF.  By these hilts I believe he frightened you into this
composition:  I believe you gave it him out of fear, pure, paltry
fear--confess.

SIR JO.  No, no, hang't; I was not afraid neither--though I confess
he did in a manner snap me up--yet I can't say that it was
altogether out of fear, but partly to prevent mischief--for he was
a devilish choleric fellow.  And if my choler had been up too,
agad, there would have been mischief done, that's flat.  And yet I
believe if you had been by, I would as soon have let him a' had a
hundred of my teeth.  Adsheart, if he should come just now when I'm
angry, I'd tell him--Mum.


SCENE VIII.


[To them] BELLMOUR, SHARPER.

BELL.  Thou 'rt a lucky rogue; there's your benefactor; you ought
to return him thanks now you have received the favour.

SHARP.  Sir Joseph!  Your note was accepted, and the money paid at
sight.  I'm come to return my thanks -

SIR JO.  They won't be accepted so readily as the bill, sir.

BELL.  I doubt the knight repents, Tom.  He looks like the knight
of the sorrowful face.

SHARP.  This is a double generosity:  do me a kindness and refuse
my thanks.  But I hope you are not offended that I offered them.

SIR JO.  May be I am, sir, may be I am not, sir, may be I am both,
sir; what then?  I hope I may be offended without any offence to
you, sir.

SHARP.  Hey day!  Captain, what's the matter?  You can tell.

BLUFF.  Mr. Sharper, the matter is plain:  Sir Joseph has found out
your trick, and does not care to be put upon, being a man of
honour.

SHARP.  Trick, sir?

SIR JO.  Ay, trick, sir, and won't be put upon, sir, being a man of
honour, sir, and so, sir -

SHARP.  Harkee, Sir Joseph, a word with ye.  In consideration of
some favours lately received, I would not have you draw yourself
into a PREMUNIRE, by trusting to that sign of a man there--that
pot-gun charged with wind.

SIR JO.  O Lord, O Lord, Captain, come justify yourself--I'll give
him the lie if you'll stand to it.

SHARP.  Nay, then, I'll be beforehand with you, take that, oaf.
[Cuffs him.]

SIR JO.  Captain, will you see this?  Won't you pink his soul?

BLUFF.  Husht, 'tis not so convenient now--I shall find a time.

SHARP.  What do you mutter about a time, rascal?  You were the
incendiary.  There's to put you in mind of your time.--A
memorandum.  [Kicks him.]

BLUFF.  Oh, this is your time, sir; you had best make use on't.

SHARP.  I--Gad and so I will:  there's again for you.  [Kicks him.]

BLUFF.  You are obliging, sir, but this is too public a place to
thank you in.  But in your ear, you are to be seen again?

SHARP.  Ay, thou inimitable coward, and to be felt--as for example.
[Kicks him.]

BELL.  Ha, ha, ha, prithee come away; 'tis scandalous to kick this
puppy unless a man were cold and had no other way to get himself
aheat.


SCENE IX.


SIR JOSEPH, BLUFFE.

BLUFF.  Very well--very fine--but 'tis no matter.  Is not this
fine, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO.  Indifferent, agad, in my opinion, very indifferent.  I'd
rather go plain all my life than wear such finery.

BLUFF.  Death and hell to be affronted thus!  I'll die before I'll
suffer it.  [Draws]

SIR JO.  O Lord, his anger was not raised before.  Nay, dear
Captain, don't be in passion now he's gone.  Put up, put up, dear
Back, 'tis your Sir Joseph begs, come let me kiss thee; so, so, put
up, put up.

BLUFF.  By heaven, 'tis not to be put up.

SIR JO.  What, Bully?

BLUFF.  The affront.

SIR JO.  No, aged, no more 'tis, for that's put up all already; thy
sword, I mean.

BLUFF.  Well, Sir Joseph, at your entreaty--But were not you, my
friend, abused, and cuffed, and kicked?  [Putting up his sword.]

SIR JO.  Ay, ay, so were you too; no matter, 'tis past.

BLUFF.  By the immortal thunder of great guns, 'tis false--he sucks
not vital air who dares affirm it to this face.  [Looks big.]

SIR JO.  To that face I grant you, Captain.  No, no, I grant you--
not to that face, by the Lord Harry.  If you had put on your
fighting face before, you had done his business--he durst as soon
have kissed you, as kicked you to your face.  But a man can no more
help what's done behind his back than what's said--Come, we'll
think no more of what's past.

BLUFF.  I'll call a council of war within to consider of my revenge
to come.


SCENE X.


HEARTWELL, SILVIA.  Silvia's apartment.

SONG.

As Amoret and Thyrsis lay
Melting the hours in gentle play,
Joining faces, mingling kisses,
And exchanging harmless blisses:
He trembling cried, with eager haste,
O let me feed as well as taste,
I die, if I'm not wholly blest.
[After the song a dance of antics.]

SILV.  Indeed it is very fine.  I could look upon 'em all day.

HEART.  Well has this prevailed for me, and will you look upon me?

SILV.  If you could sing and dance so, I should love to look upon
you too.

HEART.  Why, 'twas I sung and danced; I gave music to the voice,
and life to their measures.  Look you here, Silvia, [pulling out a
purse and chinking it] here are songs and dances, poetry and music-
-hark! how sweetly one guinea rhymes to another--and how they dance
to the music of their own chink.  This buys all t'other--and this
thou shalt have; this, and all that I am worth, for the purchase of
thy love.  Say, is it mine then, ha?  Speak, Syren--Oons, why do I
look on her!  Yet I must.  Speak, dear angel, devil, saint, witch;
do not rack me with suspense.

SILV.  Nay, don't stare at me so.  You make me blush--I cannot
look.

HEART.  O manhood, where art thou?  What am I come to?  A woman's
toy, at these years!  Death, a bearded baby for a girl to dandle.
O dotage, dotage!  That ever that noble passion, lust, should ebb
to this degree.  No reflux of vigorous blood:  but milky love
supplies the empty channels; and prompts me to the softness of a
child--a mere infant and would suck.  Can you love me, Silvia?
Speak.

SILV.  I dare not speak until I believe you, and indeed I'm afraid
to believe you yet.

HEART.  Death, how her innocence torments and pleases me!  Lying,
child, is indeed the art of love, and men are generally masters in
it:  but I'm so newly entered, you cannot distrust me of any skill
in the treacherous mystery.  Now, by my soul, I cannot lie, though
it were to serve a friend or gain a mistress.

SILV.  Must you lie, then, if you say you love me?

HEART.  No, no, dear ignorance, thou beauteous changeling--I tell
thee I do love thee, and tell it for a truth, a naked truth, which
I'm ashamed to discover.

SILV.  But love, they say, is a tender thing, that will smooth
frowns, and make calm an angry face; will soften a rugged temper,
and make ill-humoured people good.  You look ready to fright one,
and talk as if your passion were not love, but anger.

HEART.  'Tis both; for I am angry with myself when I am pleased
with you.  And a pox upon me for loving thee so well--yet I must
on.  'Tis a bearded arrow, and will more easily be thrust forward
than drawn back.

SILV.  Indeed, if I were well assured you loved; but how can I be
well assured?

HEART.  Take the symptoms--and ask all the tyrants of thy sex if
their fools are not known by this party-coloured livery.  I am
melancholic when thou art absent; look like an ass when thou art
present; wake for thee when I should sleep; and even dream of thee
when I am awake; sigh much, drink little, eat less, court solitude,
am grown very entertaining to myself, and (as I am informed) very
troublesome to everybody else.  If this be not love, it is madness,
and then it is pardonable.  Nay, yet a more certain sign than all
this, I give thee my money.

SILV.  Ay, but that is no sign; for they say, gentlemen will give
money to any naughty woman to come to bed to them.  O Gemini, I
hope you don't mean so--for I won't be a whore.

HEART.  The more is the pity.  [Aside.]

SILV.  Nay, if you would marry me, you should not come to bed to
me--you have such a beard, and would so prickle one.  But do you
intend to marry me?

HEART.  That a fool should ask such a malicious question!  Death, I
shall be drawn in before I know where I am.  However, I find I am
pretty sure of her consent, if I am put to it.  [Aside.]  Marry
you?  No, no, I'll love you.

SILV.  Nay, but if you love me, you must marry me.  What, don't I
know my father loved my mother and was married to her?

HEART.  Ay, ay, in old days people married where they loved; but
that fashion is changed, child.

SILV.  Never tell me that; I know it is not changed by myself:  for
I love you, and would marry you.

HEART.  I'll have my beard shaved, it sha'n't hurt thee, and we'll
go to bed -

SILV.  No, no, I'm not such a fool neither, but I can keep myself
honest.  Here, I won't keep anything that's yours; I hate you now,
[throws the purse] and I'll never see you again, 'cause you'd have
me be naught.  [Going.]

HEART.  Damn her, let her go, and a good riddance.  Yet so much
tenderness and beauty and honesty together is a jewel.  Stay,
Silvia--But then to marry; why, every man plays the fool once in
his life.  But to marry is playing the fool all one's life long.

SILV.  What did you call me for?

HEART.  I'll give thee all I have, and thou shalt live with me in
everything so like my wife, the world shall believe it.  Nay, thou
shalt think so thyself--only let me not think so.

SILV.  No, I'll die before I'll be your whore--as well as I love
you.

HEART.  [Aside.]  A woman, and ignorant, may be honest, when 'tis
out of obstinacy and contradiction.  But, s'death, it is but a may
be, and upon scurvy terms.  Well, farewell then--if I can get out
of sight I may get the better of myself.

SILV.  Well--good-bye.  [Turns and weeps.]

HEART.  Ha!  Nay, come, we'll kiss at parting.  [Kisses her.]  By
heaven, her kiss is sweeter than liberty.  I will marry thee.
There, thou hast done't.  All my resolves melted in that kiss--one
more.

SILV.  But when?

HEART.  I'm impatient until it be done; I will not give myself
liberty to think, lest I should cool.  I will about a licence
straight--in the evening expect me.  One kiss more to confirm me
mad; so.

SILV.  Ha, ha, ha, an old fox trapped -


SCENE XI.


[To her] Lucy.

Bless me! you frighted me; I thought he had been come again, and
had heard me.

LUCY.  Lord, madam, I met your lover in as much haste as if he had
been going for a midwife.

SILV.  He's going for a parson, girl, the forerunner of a midwife,
some nine months hence.  Well, I find dissembling to our sex is as
natural as swimming to a negro; we may depend upon our skill to
save us at a plunge, though till then, we never make the
experiment.  But how hast thou succeeded?

LUCY.  As you would wish--since there is no reclaiming Vainlove.  I
have found out a pique she has taken at him, and have framed a
letter that makes her sue for reconciliation first.  I know that
will do--walk in and I'll show it you.  Come, madam, you're like to
have a happy time on't; both your love and anger satisfied!  All
that can charm our sex conspire to please you.

That woman sure enjoys a blessed night,
Whom love and vengeance both at once delight.



ACT IV.--SCENE I.



SCENE:  The Street.

BELLMOUR, in fanatic habit, SETTER.

BELL.  'Tis pretty near the hour.  [Looking on his watch.]  Well,
and how, Setter, hae, does my hypocrisy fit me, hae?  Does it sit
easy on me?

SET.  Oh, most religiously well, sir.

BELL.  I wonder why all our young fellows should glory in an
opinion of atheism, when they may be so much more conveniently lewd
under the coverlet of religion.

SET.  S'bud, sir, away quickly:  there's Fondlewife just turned the
corner, and 's coming this way.

BELL.  Gad's so, there he is:  he must not see me.


SCENE II.


FONDLEWIFE, BARNABY.

FOND.  I say I will tarry at home.

BAR.  But, sir.

FOND.  Good lack!  I profess the spirit of contradiction hath
possessed the lad--I say I will tarry at home, varlet.

BAR.  I have done, sir; then farewell five hundred pound.

FOND.  Ha, how's that?  Stay, stay, did you leave word, say you,
with his wife?  With Comfort herself?

BAR.  I did; and Comfort will send Tribulation hither as soon as
ever he comes home.  I could have brought young Mr. Prig to have
kept my mistress company in the meantime.  But you say -

FOND.  How, how, say, varlet!  I say let him not come near my
doors.  I say, he is a wanton young Levite, and pampereth himself
up with dainties, that he may look lovely in the eyes of women.
Sincerely, I am afraid he hath already defiled the tabernacle of
our sister Comfort; while her good husband is deluded by his godly
appearance.  I say that even lust doth sparkle in his eyes and glow
upon his cheeks, and that I would as soon trust my wife with a
lord's high-fed chaplain.

BAR.  Sir, the hour draws nigh, and nothing will be done here until
you come.

FOND.  And nothing can be done here until I go; so that I'll tarry,
de'e see.

BAR.  And run the hazard to lose your affair, sir!

FOND.  Good lack, good lack--I profess it is a very sufficient
vexation for a man to have a handsome wife.

BAR.  Never, sir, but when the man is an insufficient husband.
'Tis then, indeed, like the vanity of taking a fine house, and yet
be forced to let lodgings to help pay the rent.

FOND.  I profess a very apt comparison, varlet.  Go and bid my
Cocky come out to me; I will give her some instructions, I will
reason with her before I go.


SCENE III.


FONDLEWIFE alone.

And in the meantime I will reason with myself.  Tell me, Isaac, why
art thee jealous?  Why art thee distrustful of the wife of thy
bosom?  Because she is young and vigorous, and I am old and
impotent.  Then why didst thee marry, Isaac?  Because she was
beautiful and tempting, and because I was obstinate and doting; so
that my inclination was (and is still) greater than my power.  And
will not that which tempted thee, also tempt others, who will tempt
her, Isaac?  I fear it much.  But does not thy wife love thee, nay,
dote upon thee?  Yes.  Why then!  Ay, but to say truth, she's
fonder of me than she has reason to be; and in the way of trade, we
still suspect the smoothest dealers of the deepest designs.  And
that she has some designs deeper than thou canst reach, thou hast
experimented, Isaac.  But, mum.


SCENE IV.


FONDLEWIFE, LAETITIA.

LAET.  I hope my dearest jewel is not going to leave me--are you,
Nykin?

FOND.  Wife--have you thoroughly considered how detestable, how
heinous, and how crying a sin the sin of adultery is?  Have you
weighed it, I say?  For it is a very weighty sin; and although it
may lie heavy upon thee, yet thy husband must also bear his part.
For thy iniquity will fall upon his head.

LAET.  Bless me, what means my dear?

FOND.  [Aside.]  I profess she has an alluring eye; I am doubtful
whether I shall trust her, even with Tribulation himself.  Speak, I
say, have you considered what it is to cuckold your husband?

LAET.  [Aside.]  I'm amazed.  Sure he has discovered nothing.  Who
has wronged me to my dearest?  I hope my jewel does not think that
ever I had any such thing in my head, or ever will have.

FOND.  No, no, I tell you I shall have it in my head -

LAET.  [Aside.]  I know not what to think.  But I'm resolved to
find the meaning of it.  Unkind dear!  Was it for this you sent to
call me?  Is it not affliction enough that you are to leave me, but
you must study to increase it by unjust suspicions?  [Crying.]
Well--well--you know my fondness, and you love to tyrannise--Go on,
cruel man, do:  triumph over my poor heart while it holds, which
cannot be long, with this usage of yours.  But that's what you
want.  Well, you will have your ends soon.  You will--you will.
Yes, it will break to oblige you.  [Sighs.]

FOND.  Verily, I fear I have carried the jest too far.  Nay, look
you now if she does not weep--'tis the fondest fool.  Nay, Cocky,
Cocky, nay, dear Cocky, don't cry, I was but in jest, I was not,
ifeck.

LAET.  [Aside.]  Oh then, all's safe.  I was terribly frighted.  My
affliction is always your jest, barbarous man!  Oh, that I should
love to this degree!  Yet -

FOND.  Nay, Cocky.

LAET.  No, no, you are weary of me, that's it--that's all, you
would get another wife--another fond fool, to break her heart--
Well, be as cruel as you can to me, I'll pray for you; and when I
am dead with grief, may you have one that will love you as well as
I have done:  I shall be contented to lie at peace in my cold
grave--since it will please you.  [Sighs.]

FOND.  Good lack, good lack, she would melt a heart of oak--I
profess I can hold no longer.  Nay, dear Cocky--ifeck, you'll break
my heart--ifeck you will.  See, you have made me weep--made poor
Nykin weep.  Nay, come kiss, buss poor Nykin--and I won't leave
thee--I'll lose all first.

LAET.  [Aside.]  How!  Heaven forbid! that will be carrying the
jest too far indeed.

FOND.  Won't you kiss Nykin?

LAET.  Go, naughty Nykin, you don't love me.

FOND.  Kiss, kiss, ifeck, I do.

LAET.  No, you don't.  [She kisses him.]

FOND.  What, not love Cocky!

LAET.  No-h.  [Sighs.]

FOND.  I profess I do love thee better than five hundred pound--and
so thou shalt say, for I'll leave it to stay with thee.

LAET.  No you sha'n't neglect your business for me.  No, indeed,
you sha'n't, Nykin.  If you don't go, I'll think you been dealous
of me still.

FOND.  He, he, he, wilt thou, poor fool?  Then I will go, I won't
be dealous.  Poor Cocky, kiss Nykin, kiss Nykin, ee, ee, ee.  Here
will be the good man anon, to talk to Cocky and teach her how a
wife ought to behave herself.

LAET.  [Aside.]  I hope to have one that will show me how a husband
ought to behave himself.  I shall be glad to learn, to please my
jewel.  [Kiss.]

FOND.  That's my good dear.  Come, kiss Nykin once more, and then
get you in.  So--get you in, get you in.  Bye, bye.

LAET.  Bye, Nykin.

FOND.  Bye, Cocky.

LAET.  Bye, Nykin.

FOND.  Bye, Cocky, bye, bye.


SCENE V.


VAINLOVE, SHARPER.

SHARP.  How!  Araminta lost!

VAIN.  To confirm what I have said, read this.  [Gives a letter.]

SHARP.  [Reads.]  Hum, hum!  And what then appeared a fault, upon
reflection seems only an effect of a too powerful passion.  I'm
afraid I give too great a proof of my own at this time.  I am in
disorder for what I have written.  But something, I know not what,
forced me.  I only beg a favourable censure of this and your
ARAMINTA.

SHARP.  Lost!  Pray heaven thou hast not lost thy wits.  Here,
here, she's thy own, man, signed and sealed too.  To her, man--a
delicious melon, pure and consenting ripe, and only waits thy
cutting up:  she has been breeding love to thee all this while, and
just now she's delivered of it.

VAIN.  'Tis an untimely fruit, and she has miscarried of her love.

SHARP.  Never leave this damned ill-natured whimsey, Frank?  Thou
hast a sickly, peevish appetite; only chew love and cannot digest
it.

VAIN.  Yes, when I feed myself.  But I hate to be crammed.  By
heaven, there's not a woman will give a man the pleasure of a
chase:  my sport is always balked or cut short.  I stumble over the
game I would pursue.  'Tis dull and unnatural to have a hare run
full in the hounds' mouth, and would distaste the keenest hunter.
I would have overtaken, not have met, my game.

SHARP.  However, I hope you don't mean to forsake it; that will be
but a kind of mongrel cur's trick.  Well, are you for the Mall?

VAIN.  No; she will be there this evening.  Yes, I will go too, and
she shall see her error in -

SHARP.  In her choice, I-gad.  But thou canst not be so great a
brute as to slight her.

VAIN.  I should disappoint her if I did not.  By her management I
should think she expects it.

All naturally fly what does pursue:
'Tis fit men should be coy when women woo.


SCENE VI.


A Room in Fondlewife's House.

A SERVANT introducing BELLMOUR, in fanatic habit, with a patch upon
one eye and a book in his hand.

SERV.  Here's a chair, sir, if you please to repose yourself.  My
mistress is coming, sir.

BELL.  Secure in my disguise I have out-faced suspicion and even
dared discovery.  This cloak my sanctity, and trusty Scarron's
novels my prayer-book; methinks I am the very picture of Montufar
in the Hypocrites.  Oh! she comes.


SCENE VII.


BELLMOUR, LAETITIA.

So breaks Aurora through the veil of night,
Thus fly the clouds, divided by her light,
And every eye receives a new-born sight.
[Throwing off his cloak, patch, etc.]

LAET.  Thus strewed with blushes, like--Ah!  Heaven defend me!
Who's this?  [Discovering him, starts.]

BELL.  Your lover.

LAET.  Vainlove's friend!  I know his face, and he has betrayed me
to him.  [Aside.]

BELL.  You are surprised.  Did you not expect a lover, madam?
Those eyes shone kindly on my first appearance, though now they are
o'ercast.

LAET.  I may well be surprised at your person and impudence:  they
are both new to me.  You are not what your first appearance
promised:  the piety of your habit was welcome, but not the
hypocrisy.

BELL.  Rather the hypocrisy was welcome, but not the hypocrite.

LAET.  Who are you, sir?  You have mistaken the house sure.

BELL.  I have directions in my pocket which agree with everything
but your unkindness.  [Pulls out the letter.]

LAET.  My letter!  Base Vainlove!  Then 'tis too late to dissemble.
[Aside.]  'Tis plain, then, you have mistaken the person.  [Going.]

BELL.  If we part so I'm mistaken.  Hold, hold, madam!  I confess I
have run into an error.  I beg your pardon a thousand times.  What
an eternal blockhead am I!  Can you forgive me the disorder I have
put you into?  But it is a mistake which anybody might have made.

LAET.  What can this mean?  'Tis impossible he should be mistaken
after all this.  A handsome fellow if he had not surprised me.
Methinks, now I look on him again, I would not have him mistaken.
[Aside.]  We are all liable to mistakes, sir.  If you own it to be
so, there needs no farther apology.

BELL.  Nay, faith, madam, 'tis a pleasant one, and worth your
hearing.  Expecting a friend last night, at his lodgings, till
'twas late, my intimacy with him gave me the freedom of his bed.
He not coming home all night, a letter was delivered to me by a
servant in the morning.  Upon the perusal I found the contents so
charming that I could think of nothing all day but putting 'em in
practice, until just now, the first time I ever looked upon the
superscription, I am the most surprised in the world to find it
directed to Mr. Vainlove.  Gad, madam, I ask you a million of
pardons, and will make you any satisfaction.

LAET.  I am discovered.  And either Vainlove is not guilty, or he
has handsomely excused him.  [Aside.]

BELL.  You appear concerned, madam.

LAET.  I hope you are a gentleman;--and since you are privy to a
weak woman's failing, won't turn it to the prejudice of her
reputation.  You look as if you had more honour -

BELL.  And more love, or my face is a false witness and deserves to
be pilloried.  No, by heaven, I swear -

LAET.  Nay, don't swear if you'd have me believe you; but promise -

BELL.  Well, I promise.  A promise is so cold:  give me leave to
swear, by those eyes, those killing eyes, by those healing lips.
Oh! press the soft charm close to mine, and seal 'em up for ever.

LAET.  Upon that condition.  [He kisses her.]

BELL.  Eternity was in that moment.  One more, upon any condition!

LAET.  Nay, now--I never saw anything so agreeably impudent.
[Aside.]  Won't you censure me for this, now?--but 'tis to buy your
silence.  [Kiss.]  Oh, but what am I doing!

BELL.  Doing!  No tongue can express it--not thy own, nor anything,
but thy lips.  I am faint with the excess of bliss.  Oh, for love-
sake, lead me anywhither, where I may lie down --quickly, for I'm
afraid I shall have a fit.

LAET.  Bless me!  What fit?

BELL.  Oh, a convulsion--I feel the symptoms.

LAET.  Does it hold you long?  I'm afraid to carry you into my
chamber.

BELL.  Oh, no:  let me lie down upon the bed; the fit will be soon
over.


SCENE VIII.


SCENE:  St. James's Park.

ARAMINTA and BELINDA meeting.

BELIN.  Lard, my dear, I am glad I have met you; I have been at the
Exchange since, and am so tired -

ARAM.  Why, what's the matter?

BELIN.  Oh the most inhuman, barbarous hackney-coach!  I am jolted
to a jelly.  Am I not horribly touzed?  [Pulls out a pocket-glass.]

ARAM.  Your head's a little out of order.

BELIN.  A little!  O frightful!  What a furious phiz I have!  O
most rueful!  Ha, ha, ha.  O Gad, I hope nobody will come this way,
till I have put myself a little in repair.  Ah! my dear, I have
seen such unhewn creatures since.  Ha, ha, ha.  I can't for my soul
help thinking that I look just like one of 'em.  Good dear, pin
this, and I'll tell you--very well--so, thank you, my dear--but as
I was telling you--pish, this is the untowardest lock--so, as I was
telling you--how d'ye like me now?  Hideous, ha?  Frightful still?
Or how?

ARAM.  No, no; you're very well as can be.

BELIN.  And so--but where did I leave off, my dear?  I was telling
you -

ARAM.  You were about to tell me something, child, but you left off
before you began.

BELIN.  Oh; a most comical sight:  a country squire, with the
equipage of a wife and two daughters, came to Mrs. Snipwel's shop
while I was there--but oh Gad! two such unlicked cubs!

ARAM.  I warrant, plump, cherry-cheeked country girls.

BELIN.  Ay, o' my conscience, fat as barn-door fowl:  but so
bedecked, you would have taken 'em for Friesland hens, with their
feathers growing the wrong way.  O such outlandish creatures!  Such
Tramontanae, and foreigners to the fashion, or anything in
practice!  I had not patience to behold.  I undertook the modelling
of one of their fronts, the more modern structure -

ARAM.  Bless me, cousin; why would you affront anybody so?  They
might be gentlewomen of a very good family -

BELIN.  Of a very ancient one, I dare swear, by their dress.
Affront! pshaw, how you're mistaken!  The poor creature, I warrant,
was as full of curtsies, as if I had been her godmother.  The truth
on't is, I did endeavour to make her look like a Christian--and she
was sensible of it, for she thanked me, and gave me two apples,
piping hot, out of her under-petticoat pocket.  Ha, ha, ha:  and
t'other did so stare and gape, I fancied her like the front of her
father's hall; her eyes were the two jut-windows, and her mouth the
great door, most hospitably kept open for the entertainment of
travelling flies.

ARAM.  So then, you have been diverted.  What did they buy?

BELIN.  Why, the father bought a powder-horn, and an almanac, and a
comb-case; the mother, a great fruz-towr, and a fat amber necklace;
the daughters only tore two pairs of kid-leather gloves, with
trying 'em on.  O Gad, here comes the fool that dined at my Lady
Freelove's t'other day.


SCENE IX.


[To them] SIR JOSEPH and BLUFFE.

ARAM.  May be he may not know us again.

BELIN.  We'll put on our masks to secure his ignorance.  [They put
on their masks.]

SIR JO.  Nay, Gad, I'll pick up; I'm resolved to make a night on't.
I'll go to Alderman Fondlewife by and by, and get fifty pieces more
from him.  Adslidikins, bully, we'll wallow in wine and women.
Why, this same Madeira wine has made me as light as a grasshopper.
Hist, hist, bully, dost thou see those tearers?  [Sings.]  Look you
what here is--look you what here is--toll--loll--dera--toll--loll--
agad, t'other glass of Madeira, and I durst have attacked 'em in my
own proper person, without your help.

BLUFF.  Come on then, knight.  But do you know what to say to them?

SIR JO.  Say:  pooh, pox, I've enough to say--never fear it--that
is, if I can but think on't:  truth is, I have but a treacherous
memory.

BELIN.  O frightful! cousin, what shall we do?  These things come
towards us.

ARAM.  No matter.  I see Vainlove coming this way--and, to confess
my failing, I am willing to give him an opportunity of making his
peace with me--and to rid me of these coxcombs, when I seem opprest
with 'em, will be a fair one.

BLUFF.  Ladies, by these hilts you are well met.

ARAM.  We are afraid not.

BLUFF.  What says my pretty little knapsack carrier.  [To BELINDA.]

BELIN.  O monstrous filthy fellow! good slovenly Captain Huffe,
Bluffe (what is your hideous name?) be gone:  you stink of brandy
and tobacco, most soldier-like.  Foh.  [Spits.]

SIR JO.  Now am I slap-dash down in the mouth, and have not one
word to say!  [Aside.]

ARAM.  I hope my fool has not confidence enough to be troublesome.
[Aside.]

SIR JO.  Hem!  Pray, madam, which way is the wind?

ARAM.  A pithy question.  Have you sent your wits for a venture,
sir, that you enquire?

SIR JO.  Nay, now I'm in, I can prattle like a magpie.  [Aside.]


SCENE X.


[To them] SHARPER and VAINLOVE at some distance.

BELIN.  Dear Araminta, I'm tired.

ARAM.  'Tis but pulling off our masks, and obliging Vainlove to
know us.  I'll be rid of my fool by fair means.--Well, Sir Joseph,
you shall see my face; but, be gone immediately.  I see one that
will be jealous, to find me in discourse with you.  Be discreet.
No reply; but away.  [Unmasks.]

SIR JO.  The great fortune, that dined at my Lady Freelove's!  Sir
Joseph, thou art a made man.  Agad, I'm in love up to the ears.
But I'll be discreet, and hushed.  [Aside.]

BLUFF.  Nay, by the world, I'll see your face.

BELIN.  You shall.  [Unmasks.]

SHARP.  Ladies, your humble servant.  We were afraid you would not
have given us leave to know you.

ARAM.  We thought to have been private.  But we find fools have the
same advantage over a face in a mask that a coward has while the
sword is in the scabbard, so were forced to draw in our own
defence.

BLUFF.  My blood rises at that fellow:  I can't stay where he is;
and I must not draw in the park.  [To SIR JOSEPH.]

SIR JO.  I wish I durst stay to let her know my lodging.


SCENE XI.


ARAMINTA, BELINDA, VAINLOVE, SHARPER.

SHARP.  There is in true beauty, as in courage, somewhat which
narrow souls cannot dare to admire.  And see, the owls are fled, as
at the break of day.

BELIN.  Very courtly.  I believe Mr. Vainlove has not rubbed his
eyes since break of day neither, he looks as if he durst not
approach.  Nay, come, cousin, be friends with him.  I swear he
looks so very simply--ha, ha, ha.  Well, a lover in the state of
separation from his mistress is like a body without a soul.  Mr.
Vainlove, shall I be bound for your good behaviour for the future?

VAIN.  Now must I pretend ignorance equal to hers, of what she
knows as well as I.  [Aside.]  Men are apt to offend ('tis true)
where they find most goodness to forgive.  But, madam, I hope I
shall prove of a temper not to abuse mercy by committing new
offences.

ARAM.  So cold!  [Aside.]

BELIN.  I have broke the ice for you, Mr. Vainlove, and so I leave
you.  Come, Mr. Sharper, you and I will take a turn, and laugh at
the vulgar--both the great vulgar and the small.  O Gad!  I have a
great passion for Cowley.  Don't you admire him?

SHARP.  Oh, madam! he was our English Horace.

BELIN.  Ah so fine! so extremely fine!  So everything in the world
that I like--O Lord, walk this way--I see a couple; I'll give you
their history.


SCENE XII.


ARAMINTA, VAINLOVE.

VAIN.  I find, madam, the formality of the law must be observed,
though the penalty of it be dispensed with, and an offender must
plead to his arraignment, though he has his pardon in his pocket.

ARAM.  I'm amazed!  This insolence exceeds t'other; whoever has
encouraged you to this assurance, presuming upon the easiness of my
temper, has much deceived you, and so you shall find.

VAIN.  Hey day!  Which way now?  Here's fine doubling.  [Aside.]

ARAM.  Base man!  Was it not enough to affront me with your saucy
passion?

VAIN.  You have given that passion a much kinder epithet than
saucy, in another place.

ARAM.  Another place!  Some villainous design to blast my honour.
But though thou hadst all the treachery and malice of thy sex, thou
canst not lay a blemish on my fame.  No, I have not erred in one
favourable thought of mankind.  How time might have deceived me in
you, I know not; my opinion was but young, and your early baseness
has prevented its growing to a wrong belief.  Unworthy and
ungrateful! be gone, and never see me more.

VAIN.  Did I dream? or do I dream?  Shall I believe my eyes, or
ears?  The vision is here still.  Your passion, madam, will admit
of no farther reasoning; but here's a silent witness of your
acquaintance.  [Takes our the letter, and offers it:  she snatches
it, and throws it away.]

ARAM.  There's poison in everything you touch.  Blisters will
follow -

VAIN.  That tongue, which denies what the hands have done.

ARAM.  Still mystically senseless and impudent; I find I must leave
the place.

VAIN.  No, madam, I'm gone.  She knows her name's to it, which she
will be unwilling to expose to the censure of the first finder.

ARAM.  Woman's obstinacy made me blind to what woman's curiosity
now tempts me to see.  [Takes up the letter.]


SCENE XIII.


BELINDA, SHARPER.

BELIN.  Nay, we have spared nobody, I swear.  Mr. Sharper, you're a
pure man; where did you get this excellent talent of railing?

SHARP.  Faith, madam, the talent was born with me:--I confess I
have taken care to improve it, to qualify me for the society of
ladies.

BELIN.  Nay, sure, railing is the best qualification in a woman's
man.


SCENE XIV.


[To them] FOOTMAN.

SHARP.  The second best, indeed, I think.

BELIN.  How now, Pace?  Where's my cousin?

FOOT.  She's not very well, madam, and has sent to know if your
ladyship would have the coach come again for you?

BELIN.  O Lord, no, I'll go along with her.  Come, Mr. Sharper.


SCENE XV.


SCENE:  A chamber in Fondlewife's house.

LAETITIA and BELLMOUR, his cloak, hat, etc., lying loose about the
chamber.

BELL.  Here's nobody, nor no noise--'twas nothing but your fears.

LAET.  I durst have sworn I had heard my monster's voice.  I swear
I was heartily frightened; feel how my heart beats.

BELL.  'Tis an alarm to love--come in again, and let us -

FOND.  [Without.]  Cocky, Cocky, where are you, Cocky?  I'm come
home.

LAET.  Ah!  There he is.  Make haste, gather up your things.

FOND.  Cocky, Cocky, open the door.

BELL.  Pox choke him, would his horns were in his throat.  My
patch, my patch.  [Looking about, and gathering up his things.]

LAET.  My jewel, art thou there?--No matter for your patch.--You
s'an't tum in, Nykin--run into my chamber, quickly, quickly--You
s'an't tum in.

FOND.  Nay, prithee, dear, i'feck I'm in haste.

LAET.  Then I'll let you in.  [Opens the door.]


SCENE XVI.


LAETITIA, FONDLEWIFE, SIR JOSEPH.

FOND.  Kiss, dear--I met the master of the ship by the way, and I
must have my papers of accounts out of your cabinet.

LAET.  Oh, I'm undone!  [Aside.]

SIR JO.  Pray, first let me have fifty pound, good Alderman, for
I'm in haste.

FOND.  A hundred has already been paid by your order.  Fifty?  I
have the sum ready in gold in my closet.


SCENE XVII.


LAETITIA, SIR JOSEPH.

SIR JO.  Agad, it's a curious, fine, pretty rogue; I'll speak to
her.--Pray, Madam, what news d'ye hear?

LAET.  Sir, I seldom stir abroad.  [Walks about in disorder.]

SIR JO.  I wonder at that, Madam, for 'tis most curious fine
weather.

LAET.  Methinks 't has been very ill weather.

SIR JO.  As you say, madam, 'tis pretty bad weather, and has been
so a great while.


SCENE XVIII.


[To them] FONDLEWIFE.

FOND.  Here are fifty pieces in this purse, Sir Joseph; if you will
tarry a moment, till I fetch my papers, I'll wait upon you down-
stairs.

LAET.  Ruined, past redemption! what shall I do--ha! this fool may
be of use.  (Aside.)  [As FONDLEWIFE is going into the chamber, she
runs to SIR JOSEPH, almost pushes him down, and cries out.]  Stand
off, rude ruffian.  Help me, my dear.  O bless me!  Why will you
leave me alone with such a Satyr?

FOND.  Bless us!  What's the matter?  What's the matter?

LAET.  Your back was no sooner turned, but like a lion he came open
mouthed upon me, and would have ravished a kiss from me by main
force.

SIR JO.  O Lord!  Oh, terrible!  Ha, ha, ha.  Is your wife mad,
Alderman?

LAET.  Oh!  I'm sick with the fright; won't you take him out of my
sight?

FOND.  O traitor!  I'm astonished.  O bloody-minded traitor!

SIR JO.  Hey-day!  Traitor yourself.  By the Lord Harry, I was in
most danger of being ravished, if you go to that.

FOND.  Oh, how the blasphemous wretch swears!  Out of my house,
thou son of the whore of Babylon; offspring of Bel and the Dragon.-
-Bless us! ravish my wife! my Dinah!  Oh, Shechemite!  Begone, I
say.

SIR JO.  Why, the devil's in the people, I think.


SCENE XIX.


LAETITIA, FONDLEWIFE

LAET.  Oh! won't you follow, and see him out of doors, my dear?

FOND.  I'll shut this door to secure him from coming back--Give me
the key of your cabinet, Cocky.  Ravish my wife before my face?  I
warrant he's a Papist in his heart at least, if not a Frenchman.

LAET.  What can I do now!  (Aside.)  Oh! my dear, I have been in
such a fright, that I forgot to tell you, poor Mr. Spintext has a
sad fit of the colic, and is forced to lie down upon our bed--
you'll disturb him; I can tread softlier.

FOND.  Alack, poor man--no, no--you don't know the papers--I won't
disturb him; give me the key.  [She gives him the key, goes to the
chamber door and speaks aloud.]

LAET.  'Tis nobody but Mr. Fondlewife, Mr. Spintext, lie still on
your stomach; lying on your stomach will ease you of the colic.

FOND.  Ay, ay, lie still, lie still; don't let me disturb you.


SCENE XX.


LAETITIA alone.

LAET.  Sure, when he does not see his face, he won't discover him.
Dear fortune, help me but this once, and I'll never run in thy debt
again.  But this opportunity is the Devil.


SCENE XXI.


FONDLEWIFE returns with Papers.

FOND.  Good lack! good lack!  I profess the poor man is in great
torment; he lies as flat--Dear, you should heat a trencher, or a
napkin.--Where's Deborah?  Let her clap some warm thing to his
stomach, or chafe it with a warm hand rather than fail.  What
book's this?  [Sees the book that BELLMOUR forgot.]

LAET.  Mr. Spintext's prayer-book, dear.  Pray Heaven it be a
prayer-book.  [Aside.]

FOND.  Good man!  I warrant he dropped it on purpose that you might
take it up and read some of the pious ejaculations.  [Taking up the
book.]  O bless me!  O monstrous!  A prayer-book?  Ay, this is the
devil's paternoster.  Hold, let me see:  The Innocent Adultery.

LAET.  Misfortune! now all's ruined again.  [Aside.]

BELL.  [Peeping].  Damned chance!  If I had gone a-whoring with the
Practice of Piety in my pocket I had never been discovered.

FOND.  Adultery, and innocent!  O Lord!  Here's doctrine!  Ay,
here's discipline!

LAET.  Dear husband, I'm amazed.  Sure it is a good book, and only
tends to the speculation of sin.

FOND.  Speculation!  No no; something went farther than speculation
when I was not to be let in.--Where is this apocryphal elder?  I'll
ferret him.

LAET.  I'm so distracted, I can't think of a lie.  [Aside.]


SCENE XXII.


LAETITIA and FONDLEWIFE haling out BELLMOUR.

FOND.  Come out here, thou Ananias incarnate.  Who, how now!  Who
have we here?

LAET.  Ha!  [Shrieks as surprised.]

FOND.  Oh thou salacious woman!  Am I then brutified?  Ay, I feel
it here; I sprout, I bud, I blossom, I am ripe-horn-mad.  But who
in the devil's name are you?  Mercy on me for swearing.  But -

LAET.  Oh! goodness keep us!  Who are you?  What are you?

BELL.  Soh!

LAET.  In the name of the--O!  Good, my dear, don't come near it;
I'm afraid 'tis the devil; indeed, it has hoofs, dear.

FOND.  Indeed, and I have horns, dear.  The devil, no, I am afraid
'tis the flesh, thou harlot.  Dear, with the pox.  Come Syren,
speak, confess, who is this reverend, brawny pastor.

LAET.  Indeed, and indeed now, my dear Nykin, I never saw this
wicked man before.

FOND.  Oh, it is a man then, it seems.

LAET.  Rather, sure it is a wolf in the clothing of a sheep.

FOND.  Thou art a devil in his proper clothing--woman's flesh.
What, you know nothing of him, but his fleece here!  You don't love
mutton? you Magdalen unconverted.

BELL.  Well, now, I know my cue.--That is, very honourably to
excuse her, and very impudently accuse myself.  [Aside.]

LAET.  Why then, I wish I may never enter into the heaven of your
embraces again, my dear, if ever I saw his face before.

FOND.  O Lord!  O strange!  I am in admiration of your impudence.
Look at him a little better; he is more modest, I warrant you, than
to deny it.  Come, were you two never face to face before?  Speak.

BELL.  Since all artifice is vain.  And I think myself obliged to
speak the truth in justice to your wife.--No.

FOND.  Humph.

LAET.  No, indeed, dear.

FOND.  Nay, I find you are both in a story; that I must confess.
But, what--not to be cured of the colic?  Don't you know your
patient, Mrs. Quack?  Oh, 'lie upon your stomach; lying upon your
stomach will cure you of the colic.'  Ah! answer me, Jezebel?

LAET.  Let the wicked man answer for himself:  does he think I have
nothing to do but excuse him? 'tis enough if I can clear my own
innocence to my own dear.

BELL.  By my troth, and so 'tis.  I have been a little too
backward; that's the truth on't.

FOND.  Come, sir, who are you, in the first place?  And what are
you?

BELL.  A whore-master.

FOND.  Very concise.

LAET.  O beastly, impudent creature.

FOND.  Well, sir, and what came you hither for?

BELL.  To lie with your wife.

FOND.  Good again.  A very civil person this, and I believe speaks
truth.

LAET.  Oh, insupportable impudence.

FOND.  Well, sir; pray be covered--and you have--Heh!  You have
finished the matter, heh?  And I am, as I should be, a sort of
civil perquisite to a whore-master, called a cuckold, heh?  Is it
not so?  Come, I'm inclining to believe every word you say.

BELL.  Why, faith, I must confess, so I designed you; but you were
a little unlucky in coming so soon, and hindered the making of your
own fortune.

FOND.  Humph.  Nay, if you mince the matter once and go back of
your word you are not the person I took you for.  Come, come, go on
boldly.--What, don't be ashamed of your profession.--Confess,
confess; I shall love thee the better for't.  I shall, i'feck.
What, dost think I don't know how to behave myself in the
employment of a cuckold, and have been three years apprentice to
matrimony?  Come, come; plain dealing is a jewel.

BELL.  Well, since I see thou art a good, honest fellow, I'll
confess the whole matter to thee.

FOND.  Oh, I am a very honest fellow.  You never lay with an
honester man's wife in your life.

LAET.  How my heart aches!  All my comfort lies in his impudence,
and heaven be praised, he has a considerable portion.  [Aside.]

BELL.  In short, then, I was informed of the opportunity of your
absence by my spy (for faith, honest Isaac, I have a long time
designed thee this favour).  I knew Spintext was to come by your
direction.  But I laid a trap for him, and procured his habit, in
which I passed upon your servants, and was conducted hither.  I
pretended a fit of the colic, to excuse my lying down upon your
bed; hoping that when she heard of it, her good nature would bring
her to administer remedies for my distemper.  You know what might
have followed.  But, like an uncivil person, you knocked at the
door before your wife was come to me.

FOND.  Ha!  This is apocryphal; I may choose whether I will believe
it or no.

BELL.  That you may, faith, and I hope you won't believe a word
on't--but I can't help telling the truth, for my life.

FOND.  How! would not you have me believe you, say you?

BELL.  No; for then you must of consequence part with your wife,
and there will be some hopes of having her upon the public; then
the encouragement of a separate maintenance -

FOND.  No, no; for that matter, when she and I part, she'll carry
her separate maintenance about her.

LAET.  Ah, cruel dear, how can you be so barbarous?  You'll break
my heart, if you talk of parting.  [Cries.]

FOND.  Ah, dissembling vermin!

BELL.  How can'st thou be so cruel, Isaac?  Thou hast the heart of
a mountain-tiger.  By the faith of a sincere sinner, she's innocent
for me.  Go to him, madam, fling your snowy arms about his stubborn
neck; bathe his relentless face in your salt trickling tears.  [She
goes and hangs upon his neck, and kisses him.  BELLMOUR kisses her
hand behind FONDLEWIFE'S back.]  So, a few soft words, and a kiss,
and the good man melts.  See how kind nature works, and boils over
in him.

LAET.  Indeed, my dear, I was but just come down stairs, when you
knocked at the door; and the maid told me Mr. Spintext was ill of
the colic upon our bed.  And won't you speak to me, cruel Nykin?
Indeed, I'll die, if you don't.

FOND.  Ah!  No, no, I cannot speak, my heart's so full--I have been
a tender husband, a tender yoke-fellow; you know I have.--But thou
hast been a faithless Delilah, and the Philistines--Heh!  Art thou
not vile and unclean, heh?  Speak.  [Weeping.]

LAET.  No-h.  [Sighing.]

FOND.  Oh that I could believe thee!

LAET.  Oh, my heart will break.  [Seeming to faint.]

FOND.  Heh, how!  No, stay, stay, I will believe thee, I will.
Pray bend her forward, sir.

LAET.  Oh! oh!  Where is my dear?

FOND.  Here, here; I do believe thee.  I won't believe my own eyes.

BELL.  For my part, I am so charmed with the love of your turtle to
you, that I'll go and solicit matrimony with all my might and main.

FOND.  Well, well, sir; as long as I believe it, 'tis well enough.
No thanks to you, sir, for her virtue.--But, I'll show you the way
out of my house, if you please.  Come, my dear.  Nay, I will
believe thee, I do, i'feck.

BELL.  See the great blessing of an easy faith; opinion cannot err.

No husband, by his wife, can be deceived;
She still is virtuous, if she's so believed.



ACT V.--SCENE I.



SCENE:  The Street.

BELLMOUR in fanatic habit, SETTER, HEARTWELL, LUCY.

BELL.  Setter!  Well encountered.

SET.  Joy of your return, sir.  Have you made a good voyage? or
have you brought your own lading back?

BELL.  No, I have brought nothing but ballast back--made a
delicious voyage, Setter; and might have rode at anchor in the port
till this time, but the enemy surprised us--I would unrig.

SET.  I attend you, sir.

BELL.  Ha!  Is it not that Heartwell at Sylvia's door?  Be gone
quickly, I'll follow you--I would not be known.  Pox take 'em, they
stand just in my way.


SCENE II.


BELLMOUR, HEARTWELL, LUCY.

HEART.  I'm impatient till it be done.

LUCY.  That may be, without troubling yourself to go again for your
brother's chaplain.  Don't you see that stalking form of godliness?

HEART.  O ay; he's a fanatic.

LUCY.  An executioner qualified to do your business.  He has been
lawfully ordained.

HEART.  I'll pay him well, if you'll break the matter to him.

LUCY.  I warrant you.--Do you go and prepare your bride.


SCENE III.


BELLMOUR, LUCY.

BELL.  Humph, sits the wind there?  What a lucky rogue am I!  Oh,
what sport will be here, if I can persuade this wench to secrecy!

LUCY.  Sir:  reverend sir.

BELL.  Madam.  [Discovers himself.]

LUCY.  Now, goodness have mercy upon me!  Mr. Bellmour! is it you?

BELL.  Even I.  What dost think?

LUCY.  Think!  That I should not believe my eyes, and that you are
not what you seem to be.

BELL.  True.  But to convince thee who I am, thou knowest my old
token.  [Kisses her.]

LUCY.  Nay, Mr. Bellmour:  O Lard!  I believe you are a parson in
good earnest, you kiss so devoutly.

BELL.  Well, your business with me, Lucy?

LUCY.  I had none, but through mistake.

BELL.  Which mistake you must go through with, Lucy.  Come, I know
the intrigue between Heartwell and your mistress; and you mistook
me for Tribulation Spintext, to marry 'em--Ha? are not matters in
this posture?  Confess:  come, I'll be faithful; I will, i'faith.
What! diffide in me, Lucy?

LUCY.  Alas-a-day!  You and Mr. Vainlove, between you, have ruined
my poor mistress:  you have made a gap in her reputation; and can
you blame her if she make it up with a husband?

BELL.  Well, is it as I say?

LUCY.  Well, it is then:  but you'll be secret?

BELL.  Phuh, secret, ay.  And to be out of thy debt, I'll trust
thee with another secret.  Your mistress must not marry Heartwell,
Lucy.

LUCY.  How!  O Lord!

BELL.  Nay, don't be in passion, Lucy:- I'll provide a fitter
husband for her.  Come, here's earnest of my good intentions for
thee too; let this mollify.  [Gives her money.]  Look you,
Heartwell is my friend; and though he be blind, I must not see him
fall into the snare, and unwittingly marry a whore.

LUCY.  Whore!  I'd have you to know my mistress scorns -

BELL.  Nay, nay:  look you, Lucy; there are whores of as good
quality.  But to the purpose, if you will give me leave to acquaint
you with it.  Do you carry on the mistake of me:  I'll marry 'em.
Nay, don't pause; if you do, I'll spoil all.  I have some private
reasons for what I do, which I'll tell you within.  In the
meantime, I promise--and rely upon me--to help your mistress to a
husband:  nay, and thee too, Lucy.  Here's my hand, I will; with a
fresh assurance.  [Gives her more money.]

LUCY.  Ah, the devil is not so cunning.  You know my easy nature.
Well, for once I'll venture to serve you; but if you do deceive me,
the curse of all kind, tender-hearted women light upon you!

BELL.  That's as much as to say, the pox take me.  Well, lead on.


SCENE IV.


VAINLOVE, SHARPER, and SETTER.

SHARP.  Just now, say you; gone in with Lucy?

SET.  I saw him, sir, and stood at the corner where you found me,
and overheard all they said:  Mr. Bellmour is to marry 'em.

SHARP.  Ha, ha; it will be a pleasant cheat.  I'll plague Heartwell
when I see him.  Prithee, Frank, let's tease him; make him fret
till he foam at the mouth, and disgorge his matrimonial oath with
interest.  Come, thou'rt musty -

SET.  [To SHARPER.]  Sir, a word with you.  [Whispers him.]

VAIN.  Sharper swears she has forsworn the letter--I'm sure he
tells me truth;--but I'm not sure she told him truth:  yet she was
unaffectedly concerned, he says, and often blushed with anger and
surprise:  and so I remember in the park.  She had reason, if I
wrong her.  I begin to doubt.

SHARP.  Say'st thou so?

SET.  This afternoon, sir, about an hour before my master received
the letter.

SHARP.  In my conscience, like enough.

SET.  Ay, I know her, sir; at least, I'm sure I can fish it out of
her:  she's the very sluice to her lady's secrets:  'tis but
setting her mill agoing, and I can drain her of 'em all.

SHARP.  Here, Frank, your bloodhound has made out the fault:  this
letter, that so sticks in thy maw, is counterfeit; only a trick of
Sylvia in revenge, contrived by Lucy.

VAIN.  Ha!  It has a colour; but how do you know it, sirrah?

SET.  I do suspect as much; because why, sir, she was pumping me
about how your worship's affairs stood towards Madam Araminta; as,
when you had seen her last? when you were to see her next? and,
where you were to be found at that time? and such like.

VAIN.  And where did you tell her?

SET.  In the Piazza.

VAIN.  There I received the letter--it must be so--and why did you
not find me out, to tell me this before, sot?

SET.  Sir, I was pimping for Mr. Bellmour.

SHARP.  You were well employed:  I think there is no objection to
the excuse.

VAIN.  Pox of my saucy credulity--if I have lost her, I deserve it.
But if confession and repentance be of force, I'll win her, or
weary her into a forgiveness.

SHARP.  Methinks I long to see Bellmour come forth.


SCENE V.


SHARPER, BELLMOUR, SETTER.

SET.  Talk of the devil:  see where he comes.

SHARP.  Hugging himself in his prosperous mischief--no real fanatic
can look better pleased after a successful sermon of sedition.

BELL.  Sharper!  Fortify thy spleen:  such a jest!  Speak when thou
art ready.

SHARP.  Now, were I ill-natured would I utterly disappoint thy
mirth:  hear thee tell thy mighty jest with as much gravity as a
bishop hears venereal causes in the spiritual court.  Not so much
as wrinkle my face with one smile; but let thee look simply, and
laugh by thyself.

BELL.  Pshaw, no; I have a better opinion of thy wit.  Gad, I defy
thee.

SHARP.  Were it not loss of time you should make the experiment.
But honest Setter, here, overheard you with Lucy, and has told me
all.

BELL.  Nay, then, I thank thee for not putting me out of
countenance.  But, to tell you something you don't know.  I got an
opportunity after I had married 'em, of discovering the cheat to
Sylvia.  She took it at first, as another woman would the like
disappointment; but my promise to make her amends quickly with
another husband somewhat pacified her.

SHARP.  But how the devil do you think to acquit yourself of your
promise?  Will you marry her yourself?

BELL.  I have no such intentions at present.  Prithee, wilt thou
think a little for me?  I am sure the ingenious Mr. Setter will
assist.

SET.  O Lord, sir!

BELL.  I'll leave him with you, and go shift my habit.


SCENE VI.


SHARPER, SETTER, SIR JOSEPH, and BLUFFE.

SHARP.  Heh!  Sure fortune has sent this fool hither on purpose.
Setter, stand close; seem not to observe 'em; and, hark ye.
[Whispers.]

BLUFF.  Fear him not.  I am prepared for him now, and he shall find
he might have safer roused a sleeping lion.

SIR JO.  Hush, hush! don't you see him?

BLUFF.  Show him to me.  Where is he?

SIR JO.  Nay, don't speak so loud.  I don't jest as I did a little
while ago.  Look yonder!  Agad, if he should hear the lion roar,
he'd cudgel him into an ass, and his primitive braying.  Don't you
remember the story in AEsop's Fables, bully?  Agad, there are good
morals to be picked out of AEsop's Fables, let me tell you that,
and Reynard the Fox too.

BLUFF.  Damn your morals.

SIR JO.  Prithee, don't speak so loud.

BLUFF.  Damn your morals; I must revenge the affront done to my
honour.  [In a low voice.]

SIR JO.  Ay; do, do, captain, if you think fitting.  You may
dispose of your own flesh as you think fitting, d'ye see, but, by
the Lord Harry, I'll leave you.  [Stealing away upon his tip-toes.]

BLUFF.  Prodigious!  What, will you forsake your friend in
extremity?  You can't in honour refuse to carry him a challenge.
[Almost whispering, and treading softly after him.]

SIR JO.  Prithee, what do you see in my face that looks as if I
would carry a challenge?  Honour is your province, captain; take
it.  All the world know me to be a knight, and a man of worship.

SET.  I warrant you, sir, I'm instructed.

SHARP.  Impossible!  Araminta take a liking to a fool?  [Aloud.]

SET.  Her head runs on nothing else, nor she can talk of nothing
else.

SHARP.  I know she commanded him all the while we were in the Park;
but I thought it had been only to make Vainlove jealous.

SIR JO.  How's this!  Good bully, hold your breath and let's
hearken.  Agad, this must be I.

SHARP.  Death, it can't be.  An oaf, an idiot, a wittal.

SIR JO.  Ay, now it's out; 'tis I, my own individual person.

SHARP.  A wretch that has flown for shelter to the lowest shrub of
mankind, and seeks protection from a blasted coward.

SIR JO.  That's you, bully back.  [BLUFFE frowns upon SIR JOSEPH.]

SHARP.  She has given Vainlove her promise to marry him before to-
morrow morning.  Has she not?  [To SETTER.]

SET.  She has, sir; and I have it in charge to attend her all this
evening, in order to conduct her to the place appointed.

SHARP.  Well, I'll go and inform your master; and do you press her
to make all the haste imaginable.


SCENE VII.


SETTER, SIR JOSEPH, BLUFFE.

SET.  Were I a rogue now, what a noble prize could I dispose of!  A
goodly pinnace, richly laden, and to launch forth under my
auspicious convoy.  Twelve thousand pounds and all her rigging,
besides what lies concealed under hatches.  Ha! all this committed
to my care!  Avaunt, temptation!  Setter, show thyself a person of
worth; be true to thy trust, and be reputed honest.  Reputed
honest!  Hum:  is that all?  Ay; for to be honest is nothing; the
reputation of it is all.  Reputation! what have such poor rogues as
I to do with reputation? 'tis above us; and for men of quality,
they are above it; so that reputation is even as foolish a thing as
honesty.  And, for my part, if I meet Sir Joseph with a purse of
gold in his hand, I'll dispose of mine to the best advantage.

SIR JO.  Heh, heh, heh:  Here 'tis for you, i'faith, Mr. Setter.
Nay, I'll take you at your word.  [Chinking a purse.]

SET.  Sir Joseph and the captain, too! undone! undone!  I'm undone,
my master's undone, my lady's undone, and all the business is
undone.

SIR JO.  No, no; never fear, man; the lady's business shall be
done.  What, come, Mr. Setter, I have overheard all, and to speak
is but loss of time; but if there be occasion, let these worthy
gentlemen intercede for me.  [Gives him gold.]

SET.  O lord, sir, what d'ye mean?  Corrupt my honesty?  They have
indeed very persuading faces.  But -

SIR JO.  'Tis too little, there's more, man.  There, take all.  Now
-

SET.  Well, Sir Joseph, you have such a winning way with you -

SIR JO.  And how, and how, good Setter, did the little rogue look
when she talked of Sir Joseph?  Did not her eyes twinkle and her
mouth water?  Did not she pull up her little bubbies?  And--agad,
I'm so overjoyed--And stroke down her belly? and then step aside to
tie her garter when she was thinking of her love?  Heh, Setter!

SET.  Oh, yes, sir.

SIR JO.  How now, bully?  What, melancholy because I'm in the
lady's favour?  No matter, I'll make your peace:  I know they were
a little smart upon you.  But I warrant I'll bring you into the
lady's good graces.

BLUFF.  Pshaw, I have petitions to show from other-guess toys than
she.  Look here; these were sent me this morning.  There, read.
[Shows letters].  That--that's a scrawl of quality.  Here, here's
from a countess too.  Hum--No, hold--that's from a knight's wife--
she sent it me by her husband.  But here, both these are from
persons of great quality.

SIR JO.  They are either from persons of great quality, or no
quality at all, 'tis such a damned ugly hand.  [While SIR JOSEPH
reads, BLUFFE whispers SETTER.]

SET.  Captain, I would do anything to serve you; but this is so
difficult.

BLUFF.  Not at all.  Don't I know him?

SET.  You'll remember the conditions?

BLUFF.  I'll give it you under my hand.  In the meantime, here's
earnest.  [Gives him money.]  Come, knight, I'm capitulating with
Mr. Setter for you.

SIR JO.  Ah, honest Setter; sirrah, I'll give thee anything but a
night's lodging.


SCENE VIII.


SHARPER tugging in HEARTWELL.

SHARP.  Nay, prithee leave railing, and come along with me.  May be
she mayn't be within.  'Tis but to yond corner-house.

HEART.  Whither?  Whither?  Which corner-house.

SHARP.  Why, there:  the two white posts.

HEART.  And who would you visit there, say you?  (O'ons, how my
heart aches.)

SHARP.  Pshaw, thou'rt so troublesome and inquisitive.  My, I'll
tell you; 'tis a young creature that Vainlove debauched and has
forsaken.  Did you never hear Bellmour chide him about Sylvia?

HEART.  Death, and hell, and marriage!  My wife!  [Aside.]

SHARP.  Why, thou art as musty as a new-married man that had found
his wife knowing the first night.

HEART.  Hell, and the Devil!  Does he know it?  But, hold; if he
should not, I were a fool to discover it.  I'll dissemble, and try
him.  [Aside.]  Ha, ha, ha.  Why, Tom, is that such an occasion of
melancholy?  Is it such an uncommon mischief?

SHARP.  No, faith; I believe not.  Few women but have their year of
probation before they are cloistered in the narrow joys of wedlock.
But, prithee, come along with me or I'll go and have the lady to
myself.  B'w'y George.  [Going.]

HEART.  O torture!  How he racks and tears me!  Death!  Shall I own
my shame or wittingly let him go and whore my wife?  No, that's
insupportable.  O Sharper!

SHARP.  How now?

HEART.  Oh, I am married.

SHARP.  (Now hold, spleen.)  Married!

HEART.  Certainly, irrecoverably married.

SHARP.  Heaven forbid, man!  How long?

HEART.  Oh, an age, an age!  I have been married these two hours.

SHARP.  My old bachelor married!  That were a jest.  Ha, ha, ha.

HEART.  Death!  D'ye mock me?  Hark ye, if either you esteem my
friendship, or your own safety--come not near that house--that
corner-house--that hot brothel.  Ask no questions.

SHARP.  Mad, by this light.

Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure:
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.


SCENE IX.


SHARPER, SETTER.

SET.  Some by experience find these words misplaced:
At leisure married, they repent in haste.

As I suppose my master Heartwell.

SHARP.  Here again, my Mercury!

SET.  Sublimate, if you please, sir:  I think my achievements do
deserve the epithet--Mercury was a pimp too, but, though I blush to
own it, at this time, I must confess I am somewhat fallen from the
dignity of my function, and do condescend to be scandalously
employed in the promotion of vulgar matrimony.

SHARP.  As how, dear, dexterous pimp?

SET.  Why, to be brief, for I have weighty affairs depending--our
stratagem succeeded as you intended--Bluffe turns errant traitor;
bribes me to make a private conveyance of the lady to him, and put
a shame-settlement upon Sir Joseph.

SHARP.  O rogue!  Well, but I hope -

SET.  No, no; never fear me, sir.  I privately informed the knight
of the treachery, who has agreed seemingly to be cheated, that the
captain may be so in reality.

SHARP.  Where's the bride?

SET.  Shifting clothes for the purpose, at a friend's house of
mine.  Here's company coming; if you'll walk this way, sir, I'll
tell you.


SCENE X.


BELLMOUR, BELINDA, ARAMINTA, and VAINLOVE.

VAIN.  Oh, 'twas frenzy all:  cannot you forgive it?  Men in
madness have a title to your pity.  [To ARAMINTA.]

ARAM.  Which they forfeit, when they are restored to their senses.

VAIN.  I am not presuming beyond a pardon.

ARAM.  You who could reproach me with one counterfeit, how insolent
would a real pardon make you!  But there's no need to forgive what
is not worth my anger.

BELIN.  O' my conscience, I could find in my heart to marry thee,
purely to be rid of thee--at least thou art so troublesome a lover,
there's hopes thou'lt make a more than ordinary quiet husband.  [To
BELLMOUR.]

BELL.  Say you so?  Is that a maxim among ye?

BELIN.  Yes:  you fluttering men of the MODE have made marriage a
mere French dish.

BELL.  I hope there's no French sauce.  [Aside.]

BELIN.  You are so curious in the preparation, that is, your
courtship, one would think you meant a noble entertainment--but
when we come to feed, 'tis all froth, and poor, but in show.  Nay,
often, only remains, which have been I know not how many times
warmed for other company, and at last served up cold to the wife.

BELL.  That were a miserable wretch indeed, who could not afford
one warm dish for the wife of his bosom.  But you timorous virgins
form a dreadful chimaera of a husband, as of a creature contrary to
that soft, humble, pliant, easy thing, a lover; so guess at plagues
in matrimony, in opposition to the pleasures of courtship.  Alas!
courtship to marriage, is but as the music in the play-house, until
the curtain's drawn; but that once up, then opens the scene of
pleasure.

BELIN.  Oh, foh,--no:  rather courtship to marriage, as a very
witty prologue to a very dull play.


SCENE XI.


[To them] SHARPER.

SHARP.  Hist!  Bellmour.  If you'll bring the ladies, make haste to
Sylvia's lodgings, before Heartwell has fretted himself out of
breath.

BELL.  You have an opportunity now, madam, to revenge yourself upon
Heartwell, for affronting your squirrel.  [To BELINDA.]

BELIN.  Oh, the filthy rude beast.

ARAM.  'Tis a lasting quarrel; I think he has never been at our
house since.

BELL.  But give yourselves the trouble to walk to that corner-
house, and I'll tell you by the way what may divert and surprise
you.


SCENE XII.


SCENE:  Sylvia's Lodgings.

HEARTWELL and BOY.

HEART.  Gone forth, say you, with her maid?

BOY.  There was a man too, that fetched them out--Setter, I think
they called him.

HEART.  So-h--that precious pimp too--damned, damned strumpet!
could she not contain herself on her wedding-day? not hold out till
night?  Oh, cursed state! how wide we err, when apprehensive of the
load of life.

We hope to find
That help which Nature meant in womankind,
To man that supplemental self-designed;
But proves a burning caustic when applied,
And Adam, sure, could with more ease abide
The bone when broken, than when made a bride.


SCENE XIII.


[To him] BELLMOUR, BELINDA, VAINLOVE, ARAMINTA.

BELL.  Now George, what, rhyming!  I thought the chimes of verse
were past, when once the doleful marriage-knell was rung.

HEART.  Shame and confusion, I am exposed.  [VAINLOVE and ARAMINTA
talk apart.]

BELIN.  Joy, joy, Mr. Bridegroom; I give you joy, sir.

HEART.  'Tis not in thy nature to give me joy.  A woman can as soon
give immortality.

BELIN.  Ha, ha, ha! oh Gad, men grow such clowns when they are
married.

BELL.  That they are fit for no company but their wives.

BELIN.  Nor for them neither, in a little time.  I swear, at the
month's end, you shall hardly find a married man that will do a
civil thing to his wife, or say a civil thing to anybody else.  How
he looks already, ha, ha, ha.

BELL.  Ha, ha, ha!

HEART.  Death, am I made your laughing-stock?  For you, sir, I
shall find a time; but take off your wasp here, or the clown may
grow boisterous; I have a fly-flap.

BELIN.  You have occasion for't, your wife has been blown upon.

BELL.  That's home.

HEART.  Not fiends or furies could have added to my vexation, or
anything, but another woman.  You've racked my patience; begone, or
by -

BELL.  Hold, hold.  What the devil--thou wilt not draw upon a
woman?

VAIN.  What's the matter?

ARAM.  Bless me! what have you done to him?

BELIN.  Only touched a galled beast until he winced.

VAIN.  Bellmour, give it over; you vex him too much.  'Tis all
serious to him.

BELIN.  Nay, I swear, I begin to pity him myself.

HEART.  Damn your pity!--but let me be calm a little.  How have I
deserved this of you? any of ye?  Sir, have I impaired the honour
of your house, promised your sister marriage, and whored her?
Wherein have I injured you?  Did I bring a physician to your father
when he lay expiring, and endeavour to prolong his life, and you
one and twenty?  Madam, have I had an opportunity with you and
baulked it?  Did you ever offer me the favour that I refused it?
Or -

BELIN.  Oh foh! what does the filthy fellow mean?  Lord, let me be
gone.

ARAM.  Hang me, if I pity you; you are right enough served.

BELL.  This is a little scurrilous though.

VAIN.  Nay, 'tis a sore of your own scratching--well, George?

HEART.  You are the principal cause of all my present ills.  If
Sylvia had not been your mistress, my wife might have been honest.

VAIN.  And if Sylvia had not been your wife, my mistress might have
been just.  There, we are even.  But have a good heart, I heard of
your misfortune, and come to your relief.

HEART.  When execution's over, you offer a reprieve.

VAIN.  What would you give?

HEART.  Oh!  Anything, everything, a leg or two, or an arm; nay, I
would be divorced from my virility to be divorced from my wife.


SCENE XIV.


[To them] SHARPER.

VAIN.  Faith, that's a sure way:  but here's one can sell you
freedom better cheap.

SHARP.  Vainlove, I have been a kind of a godfather to you yonder.
I have promised and vowed some things in your name which I think
you are bound to perform.

VAIN.  No signing to a blank, friend.

SHARP.  No, I'll deal fairly with you.  'Tis a full and free
discharge to Sir Joseph Wittal and Captain Bluffe; for all injuries
whatsoever, done unto you by them, until the present date hereof.
How say you?

VAIN.  Agreed.

SHARP.  Then, let me beg these ladies to wear their masks, a
moment.  Come in, gentlemen and ladies.

HEART.  What the devil's all this to me?

VAIN.  Patience.


SCENE the Last


[To them] SIR JOSEPH, BLUFFE, SYLVIA, LUCY, SETTER.

BLUFF.  All injuries whatsoever, Mr. Sharper.

SIR JO.  Ay, ay, whatsoever, Captain, stick to that; whatsoever.

SHARP.  'Tis done, these gentlemen are witnesses to the general
release.

VAIN.  Ay, ay, to this instant moment.  I have passed an act of
oblivion.

BLUFF.  'Tis very generous, sir, since I needs must own -

SIR JO.  No, no, Captain, you need not own, heh, heh, heh.  'Tis I
must own -

BLUFF.--That you are over-reached too, ha, ha, ha, only a little
art military used--only undermined, or so, as shall appear by the
fair Araminta, my wife's permission.  Oh, the devil, cheated at
last!  [Lucy unmasks.]

SIR JO.  Only a little art-military trick, captain, only
countermined, or so.  Mr. Vainlove, I suppose you know whom I have
got--now, but all's forgiven.

VAIN.  I know whom you have not got; pray ladies convince him.
[ARAM. and BELIN. unmask.]

SIR JO.  Ah! oh Lord, my heart aches.  Ah!  Setter, a rogue of all
sides.

SHARP.  Sir Joseph, you had better have pre-engaged this
gentleman's pardon:  for though Vainlove be so generous to forgive
the loss of his mistress, I know not how Heartwell may take the
loss of his wife.  [SYLVIA unmasks.]

HEART.  My wife!  By this light 'tis she, the very cockatrice.  O
Sharper!  Let me embrace thee.  But art thou sure she is really
married to him?

SET.  Really and lawfully married, I am witness.

SHARP.  Bellmour will unriddle to you.  [HEARTWELL goes to
BELLMOUR.]

SIR JO.  Pray, madam, who are you?  For I find you and I are like
to be better acquainted.

SYLV.  The worst of me is, that I am your wife -

SHARP.  Come, Sir Joseph, your fortune is not so bad as you fear.
A fine lady, and a lady of very good quality.

SIR JO.  Thanks to my knighthood, she's a lady -

VAIN.  That deserves a fool with a better title.  Pray use her as
my relation, or you shall hear on't.

BLUFF.  What, are you a woman of quality too, spouse?

SET.  And my relation; pray let her be respected accordingly.
Well, honest Lucy, fare thee well.  I think, you and I have been
play-fellows off and on, any time this seven years.

LUCY.  Hold your prating.  I'm thinking what vocation I shall
follow while my spouse is planting laurels in the wars.

BLUFF.  No more wars, spouse, no more wars.  While I plant laurels
for my head abroad, I may find the branches sprout at home.

HEART.  Bellmour, I approve thy mirth, and thank thee.  And I
cannot in gratitude (for I see which way thou art going) see thee
fall into the same snare out of which thou hast delivered me.

BELL.  I thank thee, George, for thy good intention; but there is a
fatality in marriage, for I find I'm resolute.

HEART.  Then good counsel will be thrown away upon you.  For my
part, I have once escaped; and when I wed again, may she be--ugly,
as an old bawd.

VAIN.  Ill-natured, as an old maid -

BELL.  Wanton, as a young widow -

SHARP.  And jealous, as a barren wife.

HEART.  Agreed.

BELL.  Well; 'midst of these dreadful denunciations, and
notwithstanding the warning and example before me, I commit myself
to lasting durance.

BELIN.  Prisoner, make much of your fetters.  [Giving her hand.]

BELL.  Frank, will you keep us in countenance?

VAIN.  May I presume to hope so great a blessing?

ARAM.  We had better take the advantage of a little of our friend's
experience first.

BELL.  O' my conscience she dares not consent, for fear he should
recant.  [Aside.]  Well, we shall have your company to church in
the morning.  May be it may get you an appetite to see us fall to
before you.  Setter, did not you tell me? -

SET.  They're at the door:  I'll call 'em in.


A DANCE.


BELL.  Now set we forward on a journey for life.  Come take your
fellow-travellers.  Old George, I'm sorry to see thee still plod on
alone.

HEART.  With gaudy plumes and jingling bells made proud,
The youthful beast sets forth, and neighs aloud.
A morning-sun his tinselled harness gilds,
And the first stage a down-hill greensward yields.
But, oh -
What rugged ways attend the noon of life!
Our sun declines, and with what anxious strife,
What pain we tug that galling load, a wife.
All coursers the first heat with vigour run;
But 'tis with whip and spur the race is won.
[Exeunt Omnes.]



EPILOGUE.
Spoken by MRS. BARRY.



As a rash girl, who will all hazards run,
And be enjoyed, though sure to be undone,
Soon as her curiosity is over,
Would give the world she could her toy recover,
So fares it with our poet; and I'm sent
To tell you he already does repent:
Would you were all as forward to keep Lent.
Now the deed's done, the giddy thing has leisure
To think o' th' sting, that's in the tail of pleasure.
Methinks I hear him in consideration:
What will the world say?  Where's my reputation?
Now that's at stake.  No, fool, 'tis out o' fashion.
If loss of that should follow want of wit,
How many undone men were in the pit!
Why that's some comfort to an author's fears,
If he's an ass, he will be tryed by's peers.
But hold, I am exceeding my commission:
My business here was humbly to petition;
But we're so used to rail on these occasions,
I could not help one trial of your patience:
For 'tis our way, you know, for fear o' th' worst,
To be beforehand still, and cry Fool first.
How say you, sparks?  How do you stand affected?
I swear, young Bays within is so dejected,
'Twould grieve your hearts to see him; shall I call him?
But then you cruel critics would so maul him!
Yet may be you'll encourage a beginner;
But how?  Just as the devil does a sinner.
Women and wits are used e'en much at one,
You gain your end, and damn 'em when you've done.





End of the Project Gutenberg Etext of The Old Bachelor, by William Congreve


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