The text presented here was created for a May 1999 production by The Snarks Ltd., a women's amateur theatrical club in New York City.
This is an acting version. It is NOT a scholarly version.
This version is based on the text as published in "Female Playwrights of the Restoration" (Lyons & Morgan, eds.), published by Everyman. The following "liberties" have been taken with the text:
The play has been cut, although not drastically. The most significant cut is the playwright's pairing of Mrs. Clerimont with Belvoir in the last act; this was done to allow us greater leeway in casting Mrs. Clerimont.
Punctuation has been "modernized" throughout.
Very occasionally, "translations" of obsolete or unfamiliar words have been added in square brackets. Otherwise, the language has not been "modernized."
Stage directions have been added for clarity.
Some of Lady La Basset's lines have been reassigned to Mrs. Trickwell.
The character descriptions were created for this production. The age ranges reflect the needs of our company.
Notes on costumes and properties have been added.
Some scene designations have been added.
We are putting the full script on-line for two reasons.
To make this delightful play available to a wider audience. Please feel free to download and print this play out for your own use or that of your theatrical group. The entire play is presented below as one, long Internet "page."
As a starting point for those who would like to create an electronic version of the play that will meet scholarly standards.
This on-line edition has been provided by Sally Scanlon of The Snarks Ltd., and Kelly Monaghan. With their permission, it is currently hosted by the Celebration of Women Writers.
Mrs. Rich (35 to 60), widow of a very rich City banker. A giddy, social-climbing bourgeoise, she believes she can become a person of quality by spending lavishly, learning to gamble and gossip, and marrying a Lord.
Betty (any age), clever maid to Mrs. Rich; placed in her employ by Mr. Rich.
Lady Landsworth (25 to 35), a rich, lovely widow from Yorkshire who is seeking true love.
Mrs. Fidget (40 and up), Younger Clerimont's earthy landlady; fond of intrigue.
Mrs. Trickwell (40 and up), a former kept woman who pretends to be a woman of quality. A gamester and schemer, she stands to make money if Sir John wins Mrs. Rich.
Lady La Basset (40 and up), a former kept woman who pretends to be a woman of quality. A gamester and schemer, she loves Sir John Roverhead.
Mrs. Clerimont (30 and up), cousin to the Clerimont brothers and a genuine woman of quality.
Lucinda (mid teens), niece to Mrs. Rich and daughter of Mr. Rich. She's a teen who wants more independence and unfortunately uses her aunt as a role model
Governess (50 and up), companion to Lucinda with a fondness for sack. (She has six lines.)
Female Servant (any age), servant in Mrs. Clerimont's household (She has two lines).
Sir John Roverhead (30 to 60), a professional Beau who woos every rich woman he meets, but aims to wed the one who best combines youth with fortune.
Chris (any age), manservant to Sir John.
Belvoir (25 to 35), a true friend and former classmate of Younger Clerimont.
Jack (any age), Younger Clerimont's faithful, worldly-wise servant; not a Londoner by birth.
Younger Clerimont (25 to 35), educated and passionate younger brother of a country squire, he won't bend his principles to repair his fortune, even with poverty knocking at his door.
Mr. Rich (40 to 60), brother-in-law to Mrs. Rich and father of Lucinda, he is a solid, upstanding citizen who is determined to rein in Mrs. Rich's embarrassing efforts to rise above her station.
Elder Clerimont (35 to 45), a bumptious country squire who relishes drinking, hunting, and frolicking with his dogs. He's come to London at Toby's behest to see what the town has to offer.
Toby (over 30), head huntsman to Elder Clerimont; more at home in the woods than in a salon.
Coachman (any age) He has six lines.
1 mask — for Lady Landsworth
6 fans — for Mrs. Rich, Lady Landsworth, Lady la Bassett, Mrs. Trickwell, Mrs. Clerimont, Lucinda
3 periwigs — for Sir John, Belvoir, Younger Clerimont. Sir John's is powdered. (Note: text says Mr. Rich and Elder Clerimont wear their own hair)
5 swords — for Sir John, Mr. Rich, Belvoir, Younger Clerimont, Elder Clerimont (if Sir John & Mr. Rich wear them, others of same classes would too)
1 embroidered purse — for Mrs. Rich (check with director if it's needed)
Mourning garb for Younger Clerimont (whatever is right for the period; might just be an armband, for example, but it must read at a distance to make sense of line on page 22)
Quality but somewhat shabby clothing for Lady la Basset and Mrs. Trickwell, who are down on their luck (see Betty's line refering to the tatters of their prosperity; note, too, part of Lady Landsworth's response (now cut) was, They are affected without beauty or good clothes)
Over the top clothing for Mrs. Rich and Sir John (who, we hear, not only wears a powdered wig but also powders and patches his face
Modest clothing for Mr. Rich
1 gold coin
Sealed letter with note and gold coin inside
A smaller coin
1 bottle of sack
Paper with verse written on it
List of Sir John's lovers
Sword (unsheathed) for Lady la Basset
Pistol for Lady la Basset
A screen or door that can be opened or moved to reveal other characters
[Enter MRS. RICH with BETTY, her maid]
BETTY: What's the matter, madam? What has happened to you? What has anybody done to you?
MRS. RICH: An affron! —.Ah! I die. An affront! — I faint. I cannot speak. A chair quickly.
BETTY: [offering a chair] An affront! To you, madam, an affront! Is it possible?
MRS. RICH: But too true, my poor Betty. Oh! I shall die. To disrespect me in the open street! What insolence!
BETTY: How, madam! Not to show respect to such a person as you? Madam Rich, the widow of an honest banker, who got two hundred thousand pounds in the King's service? Pray, madam, who has been thus insolent?
MRS. RICH: A duchess, who had the confidence to thrust my coach from the wall and make it run back above twenty yards.
BETTY: A very impertinent duchess. What, madam, your person shining all o'er with jewels, your new gilt coach, your dappled Flanders with long tails, your coachman with cocking whiskers like a Swiss Guard, your six footmen covered with lace? I say, could not all this imprint some respect in the duchess?
MRS RICH: Not at all. And this beggarly duchess, at the end of an old coach drawn by two miserable starved jades, made her tattered footmen insult me.
BETTY: 'Slife! Where was Betty? I'd have told her what she was.
MRS. RICH: I spoke to her with a mien and tone proportionable to my equipage. But she, with a scornful smile, cried, Hold they peace, Citizen, struck me quite dumb.
BETTY: Citizen! Citizen! To a lady in a gilt coach, lined with crimson velvet and hung round with a gold fringe.
MRS. RICH: I had not the force to answer to this deadly injury, but ordered my coachman to turn and drive me home at full gallop.
BETTY: I conceive, it was not against your person, but your name, that this affront was designed. Why do you not make haste to change it?
MRS. RICH: That I have resolved. But I quarrel daily with my destiny, that I was not at first a woman of quality.
BETTY: Well, well, madam, you have no great reason to complain. You are at least very rich, and you know that with money, you may buy quality. But birth very often brings no estate.
MRS. RICH: That's nothing. There is something very charming in quality and a great name.
BETTY: Yet sure you'd think yourself in a worse condition, madam, were you, as many great ladies in the world are, known but by the great number of creditors that are bawling at their doors from morning till night.
MRS. RICH: That's the modish air. 'Tis that distinguishes the people of quality.
BETTY: Methinks, madam, 'tis a great satisfaction to dare to go out at the great gate without being in danger of having your coach and horses seized by a troop of sergeants. What would you say if you were obliged to return home in a filthy hack, as several of quality have done?
MRS. RICH: Ah! Would to heavens that had happened to me, and that I were a countess.
BETTY: But, madam, you don't imagine —
MRS. RICH: Yes, yes, I do imagine. And I had rather be the beggarliest countess in the town than the widow of the riches t banker in Europe. Well, I am resolved. I will be a countess, cost what it will. And to that intent, I'll absolutely break all commerce with those little Cits by whose alliance I am debased. And I'll begin with Mr. Rich.
BETTY: Mr. Rich, madam, your brother-in-law?
MRS. RICH: My brother-in-law. My brother-in-law! Thou simple wench. Prithee know better!
BETTY: Pardon me, madam. I thought he had been your brother-in-law because he was brother to your deceased husband.
MRS. RICH: That's true, my husband's brother. But my husband being dead, fool, Mr. Rich is now no more kin to me than my footman. Nevertheless, the fellow is continually a-censuring my conduct and controlling my actions. Nay, even the little minx his daughter, when we go in my coach together, places herself at the end by my side.
BETTY: Little ridiculous creature!
MRS. RICH: But that which angers me the most is, that with her little, smiling, mimicking behaviour, she attracts the eyes of the whole town, and I have not so much as a glance.
BETTY: What a foolish town is this! Because she's young and pretty, they take more notice of her than you.
MRS. RICH: It shall be otherwise or I'll see her no more.
BETTY: Nay, your Ladyship will humble her, for of late you rarely suffer her to come near you.
MRS RICH: Well, I will have a title, and a name. That's resolved. A name that shall fill the mouth.
BETTY: Ah, Madam, a great name will become you extremely, but a name is not sufficient. I believe you must have a husband too. And you ought to take care what choice you make.
MRS. RICH: I have in my eye one of the most accomplished gentlemen in the town.
BETTY: How, madam, already made your choice, and I know nothing?
MRS. RICH: Sir John would not let me tell thee.
BETTY: What, Sir John? Sir John Roverhead of Roverhead Castle?
MRS. RICH: He himself.
BETTY: Why, madam, speak seriously. Is it Sir John Roverhead you design to marry?
MRS. RICH; Prithee where's the wonder?
BETTY: Why pray consider, madam, Sir John is not worth a groat.
MRS. RICH: I have sufficient for us both, and there is justice in what I design—raising up, with what Mr. Rich has left me, one of the ancient families in the north.
BETTY: Oh! Since 'tis a marriage of conscience I have no more to say.
MRS. RICH: Betty. Prithee what's thy surname?
BETTY: Cork, madam.
MRS. RICH: Oh filthy! From henceforth let me call thee de la Bette. That has an air French and agreeable.
BETTY: What you please, madam.
MRS. RICH: De la Bette, whatever bills the little trades-people bring ye, let 'em wait; let 'em walk for't and watch my levee. But if Monsieur comes that brought the prohibited gloves, l'eau de fleur d'orange, and the complexion, you understand me, give him his price and ready money.
BETTY: Yes, madam.
MRS. RICH: And do ye hear, put a hundred guineas in the embroidered purse for basset.
BETTY: Bless me, madam! Have you lost all that I put in yesterday morning?
MRS. RICH: Impertinence! I am sufficiently recompensed in learning the game and the honourable company I am admitted into.
BETTY: Indeed, madam, the footmen say Mrs. Trickwell is a perfect female rook, lives upon gaming. Nay, and keeps out on't they say, and they can tell.
MRS. RICH: Hold your tongue. She is a woman of quality, knows everybody at Court and keeps as many secrets as Maintenon. She has told me and half a dozen ladies more such secrets, de la Bette, were we not women of discretion, might eternally disgrace some that shall be nameless.
BETTY: They are happy, if they are in her power. Pray, won't your Ladyship inquire after my Lady Landsworth's health? Methinks you neglect her, though she is rich, gay and beautiful, and honours your house with her choice of it whilst she's in town.
MRS. RICH; Honours! Who are thou speaking to, sweetheart? She won't play; nay, will sit ye two hours together and speak ill of nobody. She is not fit for the conversation of quality.
[Bell rings. BETTY exits momentarily, then returns to announce:]
BETTY: Madam, Mrs. Trickwell and Lady La Basset are come to play ombre.
MRS. RICH: I'll go to them, If Sir John comes, call me; not else. [exits]
[Enter LADY LANDSWORTH]
LADY LANDSWORTH; My dear Mrs. Betty, I'm glad to find thee alone.
BETTY: Your Ladyship does me too much honour.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Thou art so discreet and obliging, I cannot love thee too well. Where's thy impertinent mistress?
BETTY: Gone to learn ombre, with a hundred guineas in her pocket.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Ha, ha, ha. Her pride and self-opinion makes her follies unpitied. I'd fain be rid of the nauseous conversation this house abounds with.
BETTY: Indeed, my City Lady turning courtier has a hopeful flock of teachers: mistresses grown old, and then forsaken, who, in the tatters of their prosperity, pass upon her for decayed quality.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Their mirth is insipid and their raillery abusive. For my part, I've almost lost my gay humour for fear of being like 'em. If I continue here one week longer, I shall e'en exchange the town, where I expected such pleasure, for my old Yorkshire retirement.
BETTY: Could you but get Mrs. Clerimont to ye, madam, she'd immediately introduce you to the beau monde, where wit, gallantry, and good breeding are emulators. You say she's a relation.
LADY LANDSWORTH: She is so at a distance. But all my sending will not prevail with her to come at me, nor appoint a time when I shall wait upon her. What can be the reason?
BETTY: I know not, unless 'tis being here. For truly, I fancy, though my mistress is fled to Covent Garden, she is as much despised by the real quality as she is cajoled by the pretenders to it. You say you are not acquainted with Mrs. Clerimont though related to her. So perhaps she guesses you of our stamp and avoids ye. For heaven's sake, madam, how came ye hither?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Why, I'll tell thee, Betty. I was married a mere baby to a very old man, who, in his youth having been a debauchee and dealing only with the worst of our sex, had an ill opinion of all, kept me like a nun, broke off all commerce to London—or indeed with anybody, not excepting relations.
BETTY: And could you endure this?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Most patiently. I never found fault with his woolen shirts or night-caps, lay all night to the music of his cough, writ nothing but receipts [recipes], scarce ever opened my mouth but out came, how do ye do, my dear; did the syrup I made last please ye?
BETTY: Your Ladyship was a miracle.
LADY LANDSWORTH: And what do you think I got by doing thus?
BETTY: I don't know, but I'm sure you deserved a great deal.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Even three thousand pounds a year, besides money, plate, and jewels. This Mrs. Rich's husband was my old man's banker, and once I saw her in the country. Besides, she had money of mine in her hands. So to here and this dear town I came, resolving to participate in all the innocent liberty my youth, my wealth, and sex desires.
BETTY: Ah, madam. Had our sex but your forbearance, they might all be happy.
LADY LANDSWORTH: I am of the mind that Fortune offers every mortal their share of satisfaction. But if they pluck the green fruit, forestall her purpose, or miss the ripened moment, they rarely have another prospect.
BETTY: Right, madam. And is it not the same in love? If a lady refuses the man she likes, all her adventures in that kind prove awkward and unlucky after it.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Say's thou so, Mrs. Betty. Well I am resolved to indulge my inclinations, and rather than not obtain the person I like, invert the order of nature and pursue, though he flies.
BETTY: Then your Ladyship intends to venture on a second marriage?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Truly, Mrs. Betty, I believe so. — But such a husband I would have.
BETTY: What sort of husband. Let's hear the mark, that I may try to find the man.
LADY LANDSWORTH: He should be genteel, yet not a beau; witty, yet no debauchee; susceptible of love, yet abhorring lewd women; learned, poetical, musical, without one dram of vanity. In fine, very meritorious, yet very modest; generous to the last degree, and master of no estate; mightily in love with me, and not so much as know I am worth the clothes I wear.
BETTY: Ha, ha, ha. To your romances again lady-fair. 'Tis only there you can converse with those heroes. This town affords no such, I can assure your. Why such a wight would not get rags to cover his nakedness. 'Tis frontless impudence makes the grand appearance and carries the world before it.
LADY LANDSWORTH: I suppose I shall increase your laughter when I tell you I fancy I have found the man.
LADY LANDSWORTH: You know, thoroughly tired with the impertinence within, and not being fitted to give or receive visits, I have often rambled with my woman incognito — and have done the strangest things.
BETTY: What, for heaven's sake?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Even lost my heart — in love, Mrs. Betty, desperately in love.
BETTY: With whom, dear madam?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Oh, a pretty gentleman, who has all those accomplishments I desire writ in his face, as plain as —
BETTY: The nose in't, I warrant.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Yes truly, for all your jesting. I sat by him in the playhouse and discovered his sense as taking as his figure.
BETTY: But where was his modesty, when he attacked a mask?
LADY LANDSWORTH: That's your mistake. 'Twas I gave the onset; nay, went farther: appointed him a meeting there again, enjoined him not to dog me nor endeavour to learn who I was, which he punctually obeyed.
BETTY: And you performed your assignation.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Yes indeed, last night. And to try his generosity, when the door-keeper came into the side-box for money, I seemed in a great fright and said I had left my purse at home. He immediately offered me a guinea, which, by the melancholy air of his face, I guessed it had not a twin brother.
BETTY: Bless me, madam! That pretence, and taking his money, made you look like a woman of the town.
LADY LANDSWORTH: So I designed. I forced him to tell me his name and lodging, e'er I'd accept the favour. And now I have a game to play, wherein you must assist me.
BETTY: In whatever you desire. Oh! Madam, Sir John Roverhead is just upon us.
LADY LANDSWORTH: What luck is this! Is there no avoiding the fop?
[Enter SIR JOHN ROVERHEAD and CHRIS, his man]
SIR JOHN: Ha, Chris! The beautiful, wealthy widow of the north.
CHRIS: Why, sir, she is not Mrs. Rich.
SIR JOHN: Sagely discovered, but she's better, Mr. Wisdom — more desirable and deeper in my affections.
CHRIS: Your pardon, sir, I have done.
SIR JOHN: Stand back. [adjusting himself to CHRIS]
LADY LANDSWORTH: What postures the thing uses to make it more ridiculous than nature first designed it.
SIR JOHN: [to CHRIS] Now to be florid.
[to LADY LANDSWORTH] —
Sure some auspicious planet ruled today
For every star is witness,
How often when I have made my visit here,
I have sighed to see your ladyship —
LADY LANDSWORTH: — still taking coach , or chair.
Have I not helped you out, sir?
SIR JOHN: Lord, madam, such beauty, wit and dress, what man can bear?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Such affectation, folly and nonsense, what woman can endure?
SIR JOHN: Ah hey, Mrs. Betty, what's the meaning of this?
BETTY: The effect of her country ignorance.
SIR JOHN: It must be so, for I think, Chris, I am nicely dressed today.
CHRIS: Aye, but perhaps she likes the inward man.
SIR JOHN: She's a fool, that's certain. But, Mrs. Betty, I hope my affairs stand well with your lady. This was but a trifle whom I addressed with my universal gallantry, which, had she received, I should have laughed at. My valet knows 'tis my way to all that make an appearance.
CHRIS: Under fifty.
SIR JOHN: Or above, if they make an appearance.
BETTY: Aye, Sir John, 'tis you alone have the bewitching way, court all the world, and catch my unwary mistress by the by; because 'tis like quality.
SIR JOHN: Like! That's degrading. I'd be an original, like nothing.
BETTY: Nothing sure can be like you.
SIR JOHN: A witty baggage this. We must engage her.
CHRIS: With all my heart. Secure you the mistress, and let me alone for the maid.
SIR JOHN: Well, but Mrs. Betty, after this idle chat shall we crave leave to see your mistress.
BETTY: You may, and you only. She's at cards.
SIR JOHN: I protest thou art charmingly dressed, and pretty, I vow. What design have you today?
BETTY: Is it to me you speak, sir?
SIR JOHN: To whom else?
BETTY: I thought like a poet you were repeating, and designed the compliment for the next of quality you met.
SIR JOHN: Fie, Fie. Let me die if you are not the prettiest, amiable creature I know.
BETTY: Ha, ha, ha. This is excess of French breeding. But, Sir John, you forget my lady expects you.
SIR JOHN: I shall ever forget her when I look upon thee, my life, my soul. Ho, ho ho. Come along Chris; I've shot her flying. [Exit SIR JOHN and CHRIS]
BETTY: So, this is the favoured fool in my lady's equipage.
Well, since Fortune has thrown me in this chambermaid station,
I'll revenge her cruelty and plague her favourites
No fool by me shall e'er successful prove;
My plots shall help the man of sense in love. [Exit]
[Enter BELVOIR, meeting JACK]
BELVOIR: How now, Jack, is they master within?
JACK: No, sir.
BELVOIR: No sir. Let me come morning, noon, or night, still I am answered, No, sir. This is most injurious to our former friendship, quite contrary to the contract made when we were follow students, when I was only Clerimont's and Clerimont, Belvoir's.
JACK: Aye, sir. my master's strangely altered, but I dare not tell.
BELVOIR: Come. For once I'll tempt thee to a breach of trust. I may do him service; I hear his father's dead.
JACK: Ah, sir! That's his grief, the very fountain of his discontentment.
BELVOIR: Trust me, Jack, few young gentlemen use to break their hearts for such a loss.
JACK: Yes, if they are younger brothers and left not worth a groat. 'Twill go a great way with them, a great way indeed, sir.
BELVOIR: But he was the old lord's favourite.
JACK: Alas! Mr. Belvoir, I find you know not our story.
BELVOIR: If thou believest me thy master's friend, hide nothing from me.
JACK: I do. So notwithstanding his commands, you shall hear our misfortunes. You know my master's elder brother is a perfect squire— on my conscience the product of two virginities — that he is despised by men of sense, shunned by all but the unthinking rabble, ridiculous even below lampooning.
BELVOIR: Why, Jack, the town improves thee beyond the university; thou growest witty.
JACK: No, 'tis the approach of poverty whets my spleen. Egad if I am reduced to rags, I'll spare ne'er an elder brother of them all, though he were a prince.
BELVOIR: Ah well-a-day for the poor gentlemen in gilt coaches. But proceed to the matter, good friend John.
JACK: Why this dunce —
JACK: —Whose sole delight lay in his kindred hounds, who for his hunting companions entertained all the lubbers of the four adjacent parishes, till the country was going to petition the Parliament for labourers; this —
BELVOIR: Well, what of him?
JACK: Has got every penny of my old lord's estate, whilst my master, the most deserving of his race (though I say it that should not), is left to starve, rob, drown, or what he pleases.
BELVOIR: But how came this to pass, Jack, ha?
JACK: Why that damned jilt Fortune, or her left-handed daughter, Chance.
BELVOIR: A mischance, upon my word.
JACK: A confounded one. My old lord lay long bedrid of the gout, and the wight I have described lived in an estate some few miles distant. One day hunting that way, he bethought himself, and made his sick father a visit. But knowing he could not sit a moment without talking to his beloved Jowler, Ringwood, etc., takes the whole kennel along with him into the chamber, whilst the t'other kennel below (I mean the peasants) were so sharp set, they scarce left my lord an unmauled dish to come to his table.
BELVOIR: Filthy brutes!
JACK: In fine, this so exasperated the old man that, in a rage, he burnt his will, designing to leave my master whatever was not entailed. But the malicious fates decreed it otherwise. For that very night, the angered father died suddenly, and all his wealth fell to that soft-headed fool in one swoop. And the devil, I say, do him good with it.
BELVOIR: Foh, there must be application made to him, Jack. This must not be suffered.
JACK: To his huntsman apply then, for he's his only oracle.
BELVOIR: There's Mrs. Clerimont in town, his first cousin, a vast fortune and one who has a larger share of wit and goodness. She shall be consulted.
JACK: Dear sir, do your best. But now I beg of you to be gone. I hear him coming, and he will be in such a passion if he discover I have been talking to you.
BELVOIR: Well, I'll not cross him now, but certainly find out some way to assist him. Farewell, honest Jack. Be sure you prove faithful and kind to him
JACK: Upon my veracity, to my uttermost. [Exit BELVOIR. JACK stands out of sight]
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT dressed
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Mine's not the mourning of an heir. Oh, my noble father, sure I should have grieved enough for thee, for thy unspeakable loss, without additional calamities. What will become of me? Must I wait at proud men's doors and cringe for an admittance? Can I flatter the puffed-up lord and fawn for a vile office? Debase my immortal soul to feed this moulding clay? 'Tis impossible; 'tis more than man can bear!
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What?
JACK: I thought you called.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Thou art too officious. I have advised thee oft to leave me and seek thy fortune where the Goddess smiles. I am a wretch that now is sinking lower than his own despairing thoughts can frame.
JACK: Lord, sir, is this all the philosophy you have learned? I think I am the best proficient. Starving frights not me half so much as parting. Faith, though the world is crowded with knaves that an honest gentleman can scarce breathe, I'll jostle stoutly but you shall have elbow-room.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Poor fellow! Thou differest from the common tribe of servants. They fly poverty worse than infection, or else with saucy impudence insult.
[Enter a COACHMAN with a letter]
COACHMAN: Is this Mr. Clerimont's lodging?
JACK: Well, and what then? What's your name, and what's your business?
COACHMAN: Not with you, sauce-box.
JACK: How, sirrah!
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Peace. My name is Clerimont.
COACHMAN: Then, sir, there's a lady in my coach has sent you this. She says it requires no answer. [gives a letter and goes off]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Ha, gold! Fly, Jack; call him back.
JACK: [pulling in the COACHMAN] Hark-ye, you sneak-nose, hounds-face, you have affronted my master.
COACHMAN: Why, fool, I brought him money.
JACK: I thought so, ye pimp. He scorns it.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Here, return this back. Tell the lady she mistakes the man and I'll wait upon her where she appoints. And convince her that she does.
COACHMAN: Gad, a notable mistake.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Rascal, no fingering. [to JACK] Follow you, and take the number of his coach. [to COACHMAN] If you are not honest, sirrah, I shall find a time to cut your ears off.
JACK: I'll watch him, I warrant. [to COACHMAN] Bring money to my master! Sirrah, get you gone.
COACHMAN: Sure they are all distracted! [Exeunt COACHMAN and JACK]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: [reading] From my mask in
the playhouse. [to himself] By my life, a very
harlot. How few in my circumstances would refuse these offers;
but my nature's quite otherwise. I cannot be obliged where I
contemn, nor live so vile a way. Not but the temptations's doubly
baited, profit and pleasure — for though the baggage is
loose as the wanton winds, yet she is witty beyond her sex. [reads]
When I tell ye I am in love, by that modest air and downcast look of yours, I guess you'll think me mad and expect (according to the damsels in Romance) I should have been at the point of death, e'er I made the discovery. But women of my character are not so nice. I am a mistress, have abundance of money. If you have but little, a wise man may pick comfort out of this. I send you a token, as an earnest of my future favours. Agreeable to your wonted obedience, come not to the coach, but meet me at four in the Park, and thank me with your acceptance.
Ha, ha, ha, ha. I see the devil's not wanting on his part. He'd have me a greater sinner e'er I come to despair.
JACK: The lady's gone, sir, and the money too. Gad, sir, though to please you I was in a passion, yet my mouth watered plaguily at the gold.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What said the creature?
JACK: Gad, she was an angel. She pulled off her mask, I believe, to laugh freely. For she burst out vehemently. And when the man said you'd have none on't, she cried, The more fool he; drive on coachman.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: So merry! But 'tis her time whilst youth and beauty lasts. She'll have years enough of sorrow.
JACK: Sir, my landlady's a-coming. You have used her so to sack and chocolate in a morning, that she'll ne'er fail you.
[Enter MRS. FIDGET]
MRS. FIDGET: Good-morrow, Mr. Clerimont. Good lord, still walking with that melancholy air! Well, well, were I such a pretty gentleman, I'd defy Fortune.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Prithee, landlady, what would you have me do? If you think the ladies will like me so well, take my picture and hand it out at your balcony.
MRS. FIDGET: Fie, fie. You might have private chamber-practice enough if you'd give you mind to't. 'Uds my life, Mr. Clerimont, if I thought you had been of this reserved humour, I'd not have let my lodgings to you. I used to have women of quality to my fine gentlemen, and suppers dressed in my house lave lasted my family a week — besides that put into my hand that shall be nameless. Else I had n'er lived in the credit you see me in these twenty years in the parish.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Good Mrs. Fidget —
MRS. FIDGET: Nay, you shall hear me. Brought up my daughters, as I have done. As fine women, though I say it, as any that adorn Covent Garden church.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Church! I should rather have thought they'd adorn the playhouse.
MRS. FIDGET: Now out upon you, Mr. Clerimont. My daughters are never seen at the playhouse. I brung them up in the fear of heaven.
JACK: Yes, and they are both married in the fear of heaven, too. For neither of them troubled the church in that affair, as I have been told.
MRS. FIDGET: Well, saucy-face. But Mr. Clerimont, what I have said is all for your good. For truly today there came a very pretty lady, and notwithstanding your order, I sent up the Coachman.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Send me to the pox and the devil! —
MRS. FIDGET: Marry gap, is this my thanks!
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: I tell ye, I am tired of these morning lectures. If my lodgings cannot be free from noise and impertinence, I must quit them. Follow me, Jack, I'll take the air. [Exeunt YOUNGER CLERIMONT and JACK]
MRS. FIDGET: Gone without giving me my morning's draught. [calling after JACK] Why Master John, Master John, give me the key of the closet. I must rummage it for a dram of the bottle. — 'Udsdeath, I shan't be in a humour again this half-hour. The man's a fool, I think.
[MRS. RICH, MRS. TRICKWELL, and LADY LA BASSET rising from play]
MRS. TRICKWELL: [to MRS. RICH] I protest your Ladyship plays to a miracle. But I would not have had you ventured money yet.
MRS. RICH: Oh pardon me, madam, I should not have minded it else. But do you think I shall ever be capable?
LADY LA BASSET: Why, you are perfect already; a wonderful apprehension.
MRS. RICH: Oh, fie! My Lady la Basset, you compliment in reality. May I hope to play at Court? I have a great ambition to play at Court. Oh my stars! I should torment our City ladies to death to talk of honours done me at Court.
LADY LA BASSET: Yes, yes, you shall be introduced at Court, I'll promise ye, or my interest fails me.
MRS. TRICKWELL: And for setting it out, let me alone. I'll make their ears tingle, i' faith.
MRS. RICH: Oh, my dear, dears. Let me embrace ye. The very conception on't is felicity to the highest degree. Mon Dieu! How we'll tease the little City creatures.
BETTY: Madam, Sir John Roverhead is come to wait on you, and has got some music to entertain your ladyships.
MRS. RICH: Oh, Heavens! That master of accomplishments! Instruct me, dear ladies, how to receive him.
LADY LA BASSET: Seem in a cabal, then burst out a-laughing and let fall some mysterious words that tend towards scandal.
MRS. RICH: Good! — Oh, my stars! 'tis something so odd, ha, ha, ha,
MRS. TRICKWELL: Transportingly foolish! It makes me laugh, ha, ha, ha.
LADY LA BASSET: Who can forbear? Ha ha, ha.
[Enter SIR JOHN]
SIR JOHN: Pardon, ladies, the interruption. May I participate? I die to laugh in comfort with women of your wit and merit.
MRS. RICH: Oh fie, Sir John, 'tis a secret upon my word. We must be tender of our own sex.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Scandal of an hour old is as much out of date with you, as a Gazette in the afternoon to the sots that hunt foreign news.
SIR JOHN: News! Gad madam, there's no such thing. There's nothing new under the sun. The world is a continual round of nauseous repetition: In the last generation, and this, young girls were mad for husbands, then mad to get rid of `em; sharpers had their cullies, gamesters, their fools. Physicians killed their patients and were paid for't; courtiers' promises and bullies' oaths ever made a great noise and signified nothing.
MRS. RICH: Satirical, I vow! Why, you are in a mortifying way, Sir John.
SIR JOHN: Indeed scarce fit to appear before you ladyship. I have had a billet-doux from a woman of sixty, which has given me the spleen to that degree, I could out-rail a hypocritical fanatic.
MRS. RICH: Sixty! Pleasant, I protest.
SIR JOHN: She's a walking memento mori. I have suffered some time under the persecution and, in bitterness and gall, instead of ink, have wrote a stanza to show how awkwardly an old woman makes advances.
MRS. RICH: Oh dear Sir John, let us have it.
SIR JOHN: You shall command me. [sings]
Della tired Strephon with her flame,
While languishing she viewed him,
The well-dressed youth despised the dame
But still old Puss pursued him.
If you, proud youth, my flame despise,
I'll hang me in my garters.
Why then, make haste to win the prize,
Among love's foolish martyrs.
MRS. TRICKWELL: [aside to MRS. RICH] Did you observe how my Lady la Basset eyed Sir John?
MRS. RICH: Yes, and am pleased with it. I would not have a fellow pretend to me that all the fine women in town are not fond of. — [to SIR JOHN] Our thanks in abundance, 'tis wonderful pretty.
SIR JOHN: Your pardon, harsh and untunable like the subject.
BETTY: [aside to MRS. RICH] Mr. Rich will not be answered, madam. I had much ado to keep him out here.
MRS. RICH: Ladies, let me beg you would take Sir John into the drawing-room and entertain him a moment. A hideous Citizen will tease me about a little business. But I'll dispatch him in the third part of a minute and rejoin the agreeable conversation.
SIR JOHN: We shall wait with impatience, madam. [Exeunt severally]
[Enter MR. RICH]
MRS. RICH: Ah!, Mr. Rich! What design brings you hither? Your absence this day would have been very obliging. But since you are here, let's finish pray as soon as you can. Well, what's the business?
MR. RICH: Hey-day! What's this? Good Madam Rich, my sister-in-law, how despisingly you talk. Hark ye, hark ye, this behaviour does not become ye.
MRS. RICH: An elbow-chair, Betty, I foresee Mr. Rich intends to talk me to sleep.
MR. RICH: No, madam, on the contrary. For were you in your right senses, what I have to say would most terribly keep you awake. You'll one day repent of your ridiculous way of living and carriage.
MRS. RICH: You strangely concern yourself with my conduct.
MR. RICH: And who will concern himself if I don't? You are my daughter's aunt, widow of Paul Rich my brother, and I will not have it laid upon the Exchange that my brother's widow and daughter's aunt is run stark mad.
MRS. RICH: How? Mad? You lose all respect, Mr. Rich. But I shall find a way to get rid of you, that I may hear no more such sottish, unmannerly language, to which I scorn to answer.
MR. RICH: Oh! 'Slife, Madam Rich. You ought to get rid of all your ridiculous airs of quality and greatness, that you may receive no more affronts equal to this day's.
MRS. RICH: You ought not, Mr. Rich, to reproach me of that, where I am only exposed because I'm thought your sister-in-law. But there's an end of that, Mr. Rich. I'll have it published in the Gazette that, since my widowhood, I am no more your sister. And so I renounce you for my brother-in-law, Mr. Rich.
MR. RICH: Zooks, Madam Rich. 'Tis the best part of your history, that name of Rich. And had it not been for the good conduct of the poor deceased, you had not been in a condition for so much pomp and greatness. I would fain know —
MRS. RICH: Talk on, talk on. 'Tis your last time.
MR. RICH: I would fain know, let me tell you, if it would not be more decent for you to have a good grave coach, lined with an olive-coloured cloth, a lean coachman in a dark brown coat, a little modest boy to open the door, and a pair of gentle geldings, than all this sumptuous equipage and useless train, which makes you despised by the people of quality, envied by your equals, and cursed by the mob. You ought, Mrs. Rich, to retrench all this greatness and folly with which you are surrounded.
[MRS. RICH coughs loudly]
BETTY: What's the matter with you, madam?
MRS. RICH: I take breath, Betty. Is not Mr. Rich come to his second point?
MR. RICH: No, good Mrs. Rich. I return still to the equipage.
MRS. RICH: Oh, the long-winded, tiresome man!
MR. RICH: Among the rest, what d'ye do with that huge, bulky coachman, with his curling whiskers like a Dutch mastiff's tail? 'Zbud, he looks as if he belonged to the Czar of Muscovy.
BETTY: But, sir, would you have my lady turn barber and shave her coachman?
MR. RICH: No. But she may turn him away and take another.
MRS. RICH: Well, sir, one word's as good as a thousand. I pretend to live as I please and will have none of your counsel. I laugh at you and all your reproofs. I am a widow and depend on nobody but myself. Oh, my stars! What rudeness are you guilty of? But it is your City breeding.
MR. RICH: Still abusing the City. 'Tis a shame, Mrs. Rich, a burning shame. I tell thee, thou proud, vain thing, the City is famous for men substantial in their persons, their purses, their credits. Whilst your end-of-the-town beaux are weak in their bodies, their brains, their everything. And 'udsbones! They have no more credit than they have religion. Whilst, as I said before, the City is famous for —
MRS. RICH: Cuckolds. Good Mr. Rich, take my advice, and take breath. You have outdone one of our holders-forth, upon my word ye have.
MR. RICH: [mimicking her] Upon my word ye have. What an affected tone's there? Gadzooks, my brother Rich was a fool.
MRS. RICH: That's no wonder; most Citizens are.
MR. RICH: Yes, to their wives, ungrateful cockatrice. And he, blind, credulous man, to pretend to leave my daughter a fortune to your management, forsooth. Gadzooks, I had rather he had left her never a groat.
MRS. RICH: So had I. There we agree once. Put it down, Betty, for a miracle. Oh! Have ye said all? Will you go out of my house, or must I go? Upon my word, I have company waits for me that are a thousand and a thousand times more engaging. Will ye believe me or no, Mr. Rich?
MR. RICH: What company? Fools, I warrant 'em.
MRS. RICH: He must be convinced. Perhaps, Betty, that will drive him hence. Open the door.
[Door opens to reveal SIR JOHN, LADY LA BASSET, and MRS. TRICKWELL]
MRS. RICH: [continuing] Oh! I am just suffocated with impertinence. Dear Lady Basset, revenge me. Ridicule that lump of the City till he frets himself into shape. I'll introduce ye. Look ye, sir, this is the honourable Lady la Basset. This is the ingenious Mrs. Trickwell. The gentleman I leave to speak for himself.
SIR JOHN: I am, sir.
MR. RICH: [roughly] And what are you, sir?
SIR JOHN: Why, your humble servant, sir, that's all, sir.
MRS. TRICKWELL: I vow he nods like the statue in Don Juan, ha, ha, he, he.
LADY LA BASSET: And looks like —
MRS. RICH: A Citizen, and that's ridiculous enough of all conscience, he, he.
MR. RICH: [mimicking] Good lack, he, he, he. Gadzooks, you are a parcel of tawdry, insignificant butterflies. If ye provoke me, I'll draw your pictures with a vengeance.
SIR JOHN: Dawley has done mine at length already, much more to my satisfaction. It hangs at Court in a duchess's bedchamber, Cit.
MR. RICH: The devil it does? The mop that cleans it set upright would be a better figure.
LADY LA BASSET: Filthy simile.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Why, m'amie, this is the reverse of Sir Courtly. A second surly, I protest.
MR. RICH: Thou wretched woman, whom I justly shame to call sister, these are things that live on thee, prey on thy very substance, and have no more worth or real quality than the ornament of pageants.
SIR JOHN: Fie, Mr. Rich. This is prodigiously abusive, upon my honour. I presume you've never been at the Court.
MR. RICH: Nor you at the Camp, which now's the only way to make a perfect courtier. I tell thee, fop, if thou art known there, 'tis only for thy folly. Thy reputation lies in ruining others, which thou dost infallibly by being once in their company. And thy chiefest accomplishment is taking snuff with a bel air, patching, painting, powdering like a woman, and squeaking like an eunuch, gadzooks.
SIR JOHN: Sir.
MR. RICH: Look ye, if you are offended, or think the ladies so, as much a Citizen as I am, I wear a sword. Follow me, ye caper-cutter, if ye dare.
SIR JOHN: Some colonel of the train-bands, I warrant. I'll not disorder my dress. I am weary of this fulsome stuff. To the Park, my Angels, and let's breathe a little.
ALL: Aye, aye, to the Park, to the Park. [Exeunt laughing. MR. RICH and BETTY remain]
MR. RICH: Why what the devil's here to do, Betty?
BETTY: My mistress is run stark staring made, but I humour her distraction till we can find a way to cure it.
MR. RICH: Prithee let's in and consult. I trust in thee.
BETTY: I will ever prove faithful, sir.
MR. RICH: Two powerful friends, lust and ambition reign
In this rich, buxom widow's sickly brain.
To lay them both, a husband must be had
Beautiful and young, and sounding titles clad;
But that shall be your care and mine, egad. [Exeunt]
[Enter MRS. CLERIMONT and BELVOIR]
MRS. CLERIMONT: This is strange news you tell me of my cousin. I heard indeed the unhappy accident of his father's sudden death, but thought he had been still in the country.
BELVOIR: No, he lives in town retired, shuns all his acquaintance. His noble mind surmounts his fortunes and he disdains to be obliged. It affects me strongly, for I love him.
MRS. CLERIMONT: When I reflect how cold our present friendships are, I needs must own 'tis nobly generous in you to seek and serve him in this distress. Nor shall my assistance any way be wanting, let us but find the means.
SERVANT: Madam, there's a gentleman below who says his name is Clerimont.
SERVANT: He seems of some far country by his dress and attendance.
MRS. CLERIMONT: On my life, the elder brother. This may prove lucky. [to SERVANT] Bring him up. [to BELVOIR] Come, sir, we will have some contrivance how to make the younger easy.
[Sound of hounds barking. Enter the ELDER CLERIMONT and SERVANT, followed by TOBY]
ELDER CLERIMONT: [speaks to MRS. CLERIMONT entering] Nay, sweetheart, dan't fear your rooms. My dogs have been in ladies' chambers afore now. My lady mother would let 'em lie on her bed rather than cross me. Love me, love my dog, as the saying is. [calling offstage] Come along, Toby.
MRS. CLERIMONT: What a scene is here!
BELVOIR: Exactly as Jack described him.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Servant, coz. Do ye see I am come to Lounnon. Hey, 'tis no matter for ceremony. I ha' just now been bussing Jewel. Might-hap you dan't care to be kissed after the dog.
MRS. CLERIMONT: You are in the right on't.
ELDER CLERIMONT: I have a free way, coz. You must excuse me.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Oh, you are very welcome.
ELDER CLERIMONT: No for matter o'that, I shan't trouble you. I shall lie in my inn. Here's Toby, my huntsman. He'd a main mind to see Lounnon, so I did it to please the booby, ha Toby.
TOBY: Nay, nay, master. Dan't lay it awl upon me. An' any bad chance should happen, you were as forward as I, else we'd ne'er a' come.
BELVOIR: Well said, Toby. Toby has a free way too, I perceive, sir.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Yes, marry I allow it him. He is a rare huntsman. Show thy parts, Toby; hallow, hallow, Toby.
TOBY: Holla, holla, holla.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Oh! 'tis mighty well. But, good cousin, it goes quite through my head.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Might hap so, you are used not to it. Ha, boys! He'll make the woods ring i'faith.
BELVOIR: 'Tis much better there, I believe.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Good lord! It offends your tender ears, does it? I warrant you are one of the zilken sparks a rough wind would blow to pieces. Pardon me, coz, I must be merry.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Oh, the gentleman will take nothing ill from a relation of mine. Pray, cousin, give me leave to ask you if you are married yet or not.
ELDER CLERIMONT: No, by my tackings [harnesses], I ha' e'en more wit than that comes to. I learned so much by my dogs.
MRS. CLERIMONT: By your dogs?
ELDER CLERIMONT: Aye, by my dogs. See that couple out there— how spitefully they look at one another. I tell thee coz, that one's Jewel and t'other is Beauty. There was not two dogs in the whole pack loved like those two. They played together like two kittens; nay, for all they are hounds, one would not eat without t'other. And now they are joined, their hate is the same: One snarls, t'other bites; one pulls this way, t'other that. Gadzooks! They'd either venture hanging to be parted. Therefore no coupling for me, I say, ha ha, ha ha, coz.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Ha, ha , ha, ha.
TOBY: Master's a shrewd man, foth and troth.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Well, but coz, I come to Lounnon a purpose to see sports we han't i' th' country, and to spend my money, as ye see.
MRS. CLERIMONT: What diversions are you for?
ELDER CLERIMONT: Why look ye, I'd vain see a good bearbaiting, and I'd see the tiger. Ah! That's a parlous beast. We will see the tiger, shan't we Toby?
TOBY: Aye 'udslid, though I shall be a little avraid.
BELVOIR: You would not have the lady carry you to those places, I hope?
ELDER CLERIMONT: Aye, why not, sir? They'll see I'm a country man, and that wan't disgrace her. Besides, I have four thousand pounds a year, for all I wear my own hair, Monsieur Periwig.
BELVOIR: The more's the pity.
MRS. CLERIMONT: [aside to BELVOIR] Peace, Mr. Belvoir, we shall lose our design else. [to ELDER CLERIMONT] Cousin, 'tis impossible for me to go to the bear garden. If you'll oblige me, you shall spend this day with me and participate of the pleasures I take. Tomorrow some fitter companion shall show you what you like better.
ELDER CLERIMONT: A match! I dan't pass upon't, if I do throw away a day with you.
MRS. CLERIMONT: We'll first to the Park, and then in the afternoon to the play. Lead, Mr. Belvoir.
BELVOIR: [bowing away from her] We shall be the sport of the Park.
MRS. CLERIMONT: No matter. [offering her arm to ELDER CLERIMONT] My cousin shall gallant me.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Come on, i'faith! Follow, Toby. [Exeunt]
[Enter LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
LADY LANDSWORTH: He refused it, my best confidante! Nobly despised the shining gold! By all my amorous stars, he has bravely won my heart!
BETTY: In raptures, nay, then you are lost indeed! [catching sight of someone offstage] Why, who walks there in mourning?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Bless me! 'Tis he! Who would not be in love with sorrow, when they see it in that face. Who would not long to remove the cause and dress it up in charming smiles. Forgive me, love, if I a little farther make the trial. Now to disguise my face and heart.
[clasps on her mask and walks carelessly off, followed by BETTY]
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT and JACK]
JACK: Do ye think ye shall know her, sir?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Know her! 'Tis impossible to mistake! Gay as the gaudy sun or distant flowery fields! She moves like air and throws her charms around. But be not caught my soul! She is what I would still abhor — an name would blacken her lilied bosom and wither all the roses that spread that face of beauty!
JACK: But, sir! If she has a world of money, sir —
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Peace, fool!
JACK: I ha' done, sir! But abundance of money covers a multitude of faults — that's all, sir!
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Blockhead! [hurrying to catch up to LADY LANDSWORTH] Why so fast, fair lady? At this rate, by that time a man has overtaken ye, he'll have lost the breath he should employ in saying fine things. Will ye not stay?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Not stay! Yes, stay an age, fixed never to remove: an everlasting monument of love. I know you dote upon heroic. I have been reading three whining plays this morning that I may love in your strain.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: For heaven's sake, tell me truly, what thou art. For, sure, there's something in thee I so love and hate that, were my fortune kind, I shall ne'er be happy more.
LADY LANDSWORTH: I'll tell ye with a truth equal to the freedom I use, for sincerity is all the virtue I pretend to. It was my first fate to be kept by an alderman. But he was formal, stiff and too suspicious for my humour. So I fled from him into the arms of a brisk, airy, young colonel. When he went to Flanders, I campaigned too. But, ah! As I had dressed my fluttering hero up like any bridegroom, a saucy bullet came and spoiled the work of tailors, milliners, and fifty trades besides: down dropped the beau.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: You speak without any concern.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Alas! Grieving for the dead would spoil us for the living. Now I am a perquisite of a country gentleman, a man of gravity and one of the pious senators, a great stickler against wenching and profaneness. He allows me wealth enough and liberty enough. Besides him, I have two or three interlopers, each fancying himself my particular, when, for my part, I care not a straw for any of 'em. But, ah! Amongst my numerous lovers, I know not how, Myrtillo has crept too near my heart— that's meaning you, sir.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: The relation freezes up my youthful blood and checks desire with horror! Does none tell thee what a wretch thou art?
LADY LANDSWORTH: None. They call me Goddess, Angel, and court me with dainties fit for queens' tables and farfetched wines such as unbend the soul from cares. Yet amidst this flowing plenty, my awkward fancy sickens at their soft endearments and builds its sole happiness in manly roughness like yours.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Thou art one of nature's favourites, formed when she was gay, and decked in her own smiles. Yet me you cannot charm. There's a modest innocence which only takes my soul. Nor can I value favours that may be bought with any other price than love.
LADY LANDSWORTH: [aside] He speaks as my own heart had coined the words. Yet I would not be too credulous. [to YOUNGER CLERIMONT] Believe me, sir, I am not used to woo, or be refused. But I perceive when once we love, we quit our pride. I can bear reproof from you, and rather than not see ye, see you still to chide me.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: No. I must fly, if I'd be safe. I cannot boast a virtue stoical enough to behold you with indifference. But when I reflect a senseless fop, for some vain present, may riffle all those sweets, then I could eat my lips e'er join 'em to infection. — Farewell.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Stay but some moments longer. I have a few things more to offer. Hear 'em. Perhaps I ne'er may trouble you again.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: [aside] I shall be fooled at last: believe her love, trust her, and be undone! — [to LADY LANDSWORTH] What would ye say?
[Enter JACK and BETTY]
JACK: Is thy lady so plaguey rich, say'st thou damsel?
BETTY: Rich! Why she values a hundred pounds no more than I do a brass farthing. She makes nothing to present a man she likes with a coach-and-six. And your master here, with his puling modesty, will stand preaching morals till he has baulked her fancy. Then 'twill be in vain to cry peccavi. For she, like opportunity, when once she turns her back, leaves no grasping hold.
JACK: [aside] Well, Jack, they brain shall still secure this cargo. — [to BETTY] Hark ye, my dear, can ye keep a secret?
BETTY: As well as any of my sex, according as the nature of the secret is. If 'twill make no mischief, take away nobody's fame; in short, if 'twill do rather good than harm to divulge it, ten to one but it goes no farther for me.
JACK: Well, that's ingenious, and I'll trust thee. This master of mine is the veriest libertine the whole town affords. Has tired vice in every one of her shapes and now, forsooth, for variety turns hypocrite, that he may find their pleasures out.
BETTY: Ha! Is't possible?
JACK: True, upon my honour, though he'd kill me should he know I discovered it, and deny all with a face as grave as a fanatic.
BETTY: But how shall my lady be convinced he is such a rake, if he'll deny 't?
JACK: Our landlady sells china. Bring her thither; She'll tell you as much — [aside] I can make my landlady say what I will.
BETTY: If she thinks it worth her while to enquire, I'll tell her. [glancing off] Look, they are parting.
JACK: 'Udso, so they are indeed. I must after. [Exit JACK]
[Enter LADY LANDSWORTH]
LADY LANDSWORTH: Oh my dear Betty! How shall I express my joys! Sure, such a man no age produced before!
BETTY: I wish he prove so.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Why?
BETTY: Hush! Here comes Mrs. Clerimont, you have so often sent to.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Ha! Dear Betty, tell her who I am. — [aside] Now for an air of gravity.
[Enter ELDER CLERIMONT, BELVOIR, and MRS. CLERIMONT. BETTY approaches MRS. CLERIMONT, curtsies, and whispers in her ear]
MRS. CLERIMONT: — is it? [to LADY LANDSWORTH] Cousin, your most humble servant. I ask your pardon a thousand times for my neglect to wait on you. I have designed it everyday, but —
LADY LANDSWORTH: No excuse, good madam. Ladies in this town have too much business on their hands to throw an hour upon a thing so insignificant as a country relation, one so remote too, that only claims that honour by marriage.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Nay madam —
LADY LANDSWORTH: Besides, had you given yourself the trouble, 'twould have been but one, I am sure. For my conversation is only praises of the country, my discourse leaping perpetually into Yorkshire and talking for ever of my turkeys, my dairy, and so forth.
BETTY: [aside] Hey! What maggot's [whim] this?
ELDER CLERIMONT: A shrewd gentlewoman this! I like her mainly. Pray mistress, what made you come to Lounnon then?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Truly, sir, 'twas business, monies left in banker's hands by my dear husband deceased — oh! [weeps]
ELDER CLERIMONT: Good soul! She weeps! So young and weep for a dead husband! Good soul!
MRS. CLERIMONT: Cousin, you have been unfortunately by your affairs driven into a house, the rendezvous of fops and senseless coquettes, who have entertained you with pleasures so insipid, they have given you a disgust to those more refined, that will reconcile you to the pretty epitome of our English world, the town.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Marry gap! Dan't spoil the gentlewoman, coz, mahaps she likes the country best. Why so do I. No offence, I hope, coz.
BELVOIR: We must not suffer so fair an enemy. The playhouse, Hyde Park, everything shall contribute to force a kinder opinion from you.
LADY LANDSWORTH: I have seen it all, and despise it: at the theatre, am tired with the double-acted farce, on the stage and in the side-boxes. Then, for Hyde Park, that's madness in perfection. The poor lunatic that runs an eternal circle in his Bedlam apartment has, in my judgment, equal pleasure.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Oh fie, my Lady Landsworth, this cannot be your real thoughts.
LADY LANDSWORTH: To a tittle, I assure ye.
ELDER CLERIMONT: I'faykings, the young woman speaks rarely. Why, Toby, she has run down the Lounnoners. Toby! A Lard! Where is Toby and the two dogs? So ho, so ho!
MRS. CLERIMONT: Peace, good cousin. I believe they are at the Park gate.
ELDER CLERIMONT: My dogs, where are they? I shall run mad. So ho, Toby!
LADY LANDSWORTH: Mrs. Betty, let's steal off. I think I have dissembled enough for one day.
BETTY: [Aside] And I hear you have been met with, too. — [to LADY LANDSWORTH] I follow madam. [Exeunt LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
ELDER CLERIMONT: I say Toby! Speak to they nown master, Toby!
BELVOIR: Come, sir. We shall find 'em out.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Ah never, I fear. Toby! Toby!
[Enter TOBY with his head broken]
TOBY: What ails ye to bawl so? D'ye zee how I have been served? I went to come in with my hounds, and an ugly fellow in red knocked me down and took the poor curs from me.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Aye ye coward! Where was the quarterstaff?
TOBY: Why he had a sword. Zee how my head's broke.
ELDER CLERIMONT: I had rather they neck were broke than my dogs lost.
TOBY: Zo had I not. Go out yonder and ha'um again for a tester.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Go then! Farewell, coz. You ne'er bring me hither again I'll warrant. [Exeunt ELDER CLERIMONT and TOBY]
MRS. CLERIMONT: Let's after. We must not part thus; and as we go, I'll tell ye my opinion of Lady Landsworth. [Exeunt MRS. CLERIMONT and BELVOIR]
[Enter SIR JOHN and CHRIS]
SIR JOHN: With much ado I have broke from the widow. I appointed to meet here the prettiest rose-bud. If her fortune equals the widow, she secures me.
CHRIS: Ah sire! I wish the common fortune-hunter's fate be not yours, to take the worst as last.
SIR JOHN: Fool! That genius that raised me to this will, no doubt, preserve me conspicuous: the ornament of the town and idol of the ladies. You must know, dunce, I love the young creature I am to meet now, and I'd marry the widow.
CHRIS: Why then I should think you liked her.
SIR JOHN: Incorrigible sot! I hate her as the devil — but has she not five thousand a year? Let that, forever, stop thy mouth.
CHRIS: Then 'tis the five thousand a year you'd marry. I ha' done, sir, I ha' done.
SIR JOHN: She comes. Remember, I am the Lord. The title will strike an awe into her and make her refuse me nothing.
[Enter LUCINDA and GOVERNESS]
LUCINDA: But d'ye think he'll come, governess?
GOVERNESS: I hope his Lordship will.
LUCINDA: His Lordship! That sounds purely. I vow my aunt will love me when I am a great Lady. Look. Here he is, governess. Oh Gemini! 'Tis a dear man.
SIR JOHN: My little angel! This was kind! The place appeared gloomy as shades beneath, till your bright eyes, exceeding the stars, created a double day.
LUCINDA: O la! What fine words he has! Sir — My Lord, I mean —I am a foolish girl, and know not how to answer. But I am young and not unapt to learn.
GOVERNESS: Nay, I'll say that for miss: She was ever as forward as the best of 'em.
SIR JOHN: Pretty innocence! She shall not want instructions modelled by me. The world will own her perfect.
GOVERNESS: And truly, my Lord, she has enough to pay her teacher.
SIR JOHN: Hold, hold! Name not wealth. 'Tis a dross I despise.
LUCINDA: Fie, governess! Do you think his Lordship values money?
SIR JOHN: Not I, upon my honour. [aside to CHRIS] Get it out of the old one what she's worth, lest it prove not worth my while to follow her any longer.
CHRIS: Yes, sir, yes.
LUCINDA: Now, my Lord, the reason why I have a mind to be married is because I may have a little more freedom. I never go anywheres now, but that old woman's at my heels. And I have heard 'em say, wives go where they will and do what they will.
SIR JOHN: So shalt thou, my dear miss — [aside] Marry, quotha, more words than one to that bargain.
LUCINDA: But when will you meet me here again then and run away with me? For I was told I should be run away with. They say most fortunes are.
CHRIS: [to SIR JOHN] Sir, twenty thousand pounds, when she is at age.
SIR JOHN: [aside] Very well! Gad, I'll marry her. By that time I shall have spent it, broke her heart, and be ready for another. — [to LUCINDA] My dear blossom, how happy am I to have gained your affections! Though 'tis no wonder, for the universality of women die for me.
LUCINDA: For my part, you spoke to me. For that I like ye. Else truly Mr — .pish, my Lord — I see as fine things walk here as you.
SIR JOHN: Oh fie!
CHRIS: A baby indeed. She has not yet learnt to dissemble.
SIR JOHN: Can ye get out in a morning, my dear?
LUCINDA: Yes, any time. I am left wholly to my governess, and you won her heart t'other morning with some sack. Promise her some more, and she'll bring me, I warrant.
SIR JOHN: [to GOVERNESS] There's that will buy sack. Will ye bring miss tomorrow, by five o'clock?
GOVERNESS: Yes, yes. She shall wait on your honour.
CHRIS: Sir, sir, Mrs. Rich and the company you left are just coming into this walk.
SIR JOHN: My dear, dear, farewell! One of my relations that I dare not see. Keep these verses to remember me. And tomorrow. . .
LUCINDA: Oh Gemini! If I forget, I'll be hanged. I shan't sleep all night for thinking on't. Goodbye. [to GOVERNESS] Is he not a pure man, nurse?
[Exeunt SIR JOHN and CHRIS]
GOVERNESS: Aye, marry is he. We'll ha' money and good things.
LUCINDA: Oh la. Mum! Here's my aunt and all they upon our backs. What shall we say now?
[Enter MRS. RICH, LADY LA BASSET, and MRS. TRICKWELL]
MRS. RICH: This was furiously odd: to desert us only with the whim to show us airs in bowing when we meet.
LUCINDA: Oh la! Furiously — there's a hard word! I'll learn my aunt's words that I may appear agreeable to my Lord. Furiously— remember, governess.
MRS. RICH: Mrs. Trickwell, I am sick of the Park. Here's neither the beaux or the belle monde. Really, when Sir John's gone, we search in vain for gallantry or a good appearance.
LADY LA BASSET: I wonder how he durst quit the place when I was here.
MRS. RICH: You!
MRS. TRICKWELL: Upon my life, madam, the ladies are all mad for this miracle of a knight. I wish your ladyship had him fixed in the matrimonial noose, that the rest may burst with envy.
MRS. RICH: Fear not, Mrs. Trickwell. I have him with a double chain, love and interest. [notices LUCINDA] Ha! This impertinent girl here!
LUCINDA: Pray don't be angry, aunt.
MRS. RICH: In the first place, leave off that word aunt, and make use of madam. Or stay at home with your father.
LUCINDA: But aunt, since your are my aunt, why may I not call you aunt?
MRS. RICH: Why, I being a woman of quality, and you but a Citizen's daughter, I cannot, in decency, be your aunt without degrading myself in some measure.
LUCINDA: Oh, good aunt, let not that concern you, for I shall be a woman of quality too in a little time.
MRS. RICH: What says the girl?
LUCINDA: I am acquainted with a Lord, the handsomest and most obliging in the world. I have met him several times in the Park, and he'll marry me when I please. Therefore, never trouble yourself, aunt, about my quality.
MRS. RICH: And what's this Lord's name?
LUCINDA: They call him my Lord Fourbind. He's very rich and of great quality, for he told me so.
MRS. RICH: Truly, niece, I am very well pleased that, notwithstanding the mean education your father bestowed on you, you have thoughts worthy the honour I do you of suffering you to be my niece. You are obliged to me and my conversation for this.
LUCINDA: I have another obligation to desire, aunt.
MRS. RICH: What is that?
LUCINDA: To marry as soon as 'tis possible, if you please aunt, the gentleman you love, that I may countenance my marriage with him I love. That when my father would chide me, I may answer him, I have not done worse than my aunt.
MRS. TRICKWELL: You're in the right —[aside] What a terrible thing is example!
LUCINDA: But my aunt must make what haste she can. My Lord Fourbind, my lover, is most furiously impatient.
MRS. RICH: Ah! Mrs. Trickwell! Now I can I be revenged of Mr. Rich. His daughter is in love with a courtier, and a courtier with her. And she's distracted to be married to him. If the father would but die with vexation, I should be rid of the troublesome creature.
MRS. TRICKWELL: But, madam, are you resolved to assist your niece in her design?
MRS. RICH: Certainly. I would not for a thousand pound lose this excellent occasion of sending Mr. Rich to Bedlam.
MRS. TRICKWELL: That is very charitable, truly.
MRS. RICH: Come, ladies, let's home to dinner. This news has pleased me.
My niece and I will the example lead,
Teach City-dames the way to mend their breed,
Choose for ourselves, let our dull parents pray.
And whilst they drudge, we'll briskly throw away.
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What a wretch am I! Forsook by Fate; abandoned to want and and misery; my soul denied to use her faculty. And as if this were not enough, my virtue too, the last stake that I could boast of, is going! I love this vicious creature, in spite of all her crimes. Her charms have won my heart. S'death! What a dog I am! Going to be kept by a vile prostitute! Confusion! I'll not endure it! [walks about distracted]
[Enter BELVOIR, MRS. CLERIMONT, and JACK]
JACK: There he is. I must not be seen.
BELVOIR: My dearest friend! My Clerimont! Why dost thou shun those friends who fondly love thee? This lady, your relation, begs to serve ye.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Alas! I am infectious! The detested plague poverty's upon me. She'll render me so odious, I shall fly, if possible, myself!
MRS. CLERIMONT: Better fortune waits to crown your virtues, cousin. Your brother's in town, at my house. Send to him.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What, to be answered as I was last: If I would be his bailiff, I might eat. Curses! I'd sooner feed on my own flesh!
BELVOIR: Well, grant him a churl. There are a thousand ways besides to advance your fortune.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: None but such as I despise.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Allow me one request: Give me your company this day, and submit to my contrivance. I have thoughts at work that may produce your future peace.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: I am at your dispose. But remember, madam, nothing shall tempt me for bread to do an ill thing.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Nor would I offer it.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Jack.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Stay you at home, and, d'ye hear [whispers] — if any messages come–
JACK: I shall, sir.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Come, sir, uncloud that brow. We won't leave you in despair, though we found you so.
Your kindness comes too late.
For if ye could the weight of Fate remove
I'm dashed again, and cursed with guilty love. [Exeunt]
JACK: Landlady! Landlady!
[Enter MRS. FIDGET }
MRS. FIDGET: Why, how now impudence! D'ye think you are in an alehouse?
JACK: I humbly beg your pardon, sweet Madam Fidget.
MRS. FIDGET: Well, 'tis your ignorance. I excuse it. What humour's your hopeful master in now?
JACK: Oh these were his relations; I hope all will be amended. But, landlady. — humph, madam — there's a plot you and I must carry on for his good.
MRS. FIDGET: With all my heart; I love a plot extremely. I was ever good at plotting. But, dear brother plotter, let us do nothing rashly.
JACK: What, a glass of sack first? Ye shall have it, ye shall have it.
MRS. FIDGET: Truly, it helpeth invention.
JACK: Come, here's prosperity to our honest endeavours.
MRS. FIDGET: With all my spirit.
[JACK pours again]
JACK: T'other glass to the success.
MRS. FIDGET: Agreed. Now let me know it.
JACK: There's a lady in love with my master.
MRS. FIDGET: What, she that called in the coach?
JACK: The same.
MRS. FIDGET: By my troth! A lovely woman. [lifts glass] That there may come no worse news to England. Fill my glass, sirrah.
JACK: Now this lady is not a whore, or a married woman, nor a widow, nor a maid —
MRS. FIDGET: I understand ye.
JACK: D'ye, faith. Why, what is she, say you?
MRS. FIDGET: A kept mistress, fool.
JACK: Right, egad. Well, these Londoners are plaguey sharp; we should ne'er have guessed in the country. This damsel is worth thousands, and she'd fain throw away some upon my master. He, modest fool, begging his pardon, he'll none on't. So I, being cunning, have found out her humour by her waiting gentlewoman, and lied my master into her good graces. Told her he was a mere debauchee. She partly believed me, but comes to you to be confirmed; if you can lie, landlady.
MRS. FIDGET: Mistrust me not, Jack, I warrant ye. But if he won't stand to it, what signifies our promises.
JACK: Oh, 'twill create a longer acquaintance, and truly I'll get some money out of her, if he won't. We must not perish. Nor will I forsake him.
MRS. FIDGET: Well, I'll do my best in an honest way.
JACK: Hark, a coach stops. Bring 'em up to show your china, and I'll be there to confirm what you say.
MRS. FIDGET: I run. [Exit MRS. FIDGET]
JACK: 'Tis a delicate age, by jingo, when the rake is the fine gentleman and the fine gentleman is the lady's favourite, egad. Mum, she comes.
[Re-enter MRS. FIDGET with LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
LADY LANDSWORTH: Where d'ye lead me, madam.
MRS. FIDGET: Oh, I always keep my best china in my chambers.
LADY LANDSWORTH: This looks like a gentleman's lodgings.
MRS. FIDGET: 'Tis so, but he's very rarely in 'em. He lay abroad last night and sent word he should not be home till twelve this night. He has forty ladies, I think, after him. I must give him warning; my house will be scandalous else. Though 'tis a good- natured wretch, and can look as demure, I warrant, when a body chides him, as any saint.
LADY LANDSWORTH: [aside to BETTY] Oh horrid. Let us be gone. My ears are blasted.
BETTY: I could have told you as much, but durst not. You seemed to be well assured.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Dissembling wretch! Yet I will see him once again, then in my own freedom be safe. Innocent and far from this bewitching town, I will pass my days serenely and be deceived no more. [to JACK] Well, then there's no probability of seeing your hopeful master today.
JACK: Yes, yes, madam. I can find him in a minute when the summons is to a fair lady.
LADY LANDSWORTH: That's well. Thou art a diligent servant.
JACK: Aye, madam, though I say it, I am fit to be e'er a gentleman's pimp in England. And that's a bold word now.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Excellent office. Pray, Mr. Pimp, then do me the favour to tell your master I'll be here at five o'clock, to look on some china.
JACK: It shall be done, madam.
MRS. FIDGET: If he forgets, fear not madam; I'll remember.
LADY LANDSWORTH: No doubt on't, you have a noble vocation too, I suppose, though it has but a coarse name. Come, Betty, farewell. At night I'll choose some china. [Exit LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
JACK: What think ye now, Madam Fidget?
MRS. FIDGET: Faith, I know not what to think. Her looks were cold and scornful.
JACK: Foh, foh. She's as wanton and warm as e'er a one of your daughters after a zealous fit of devotion.
MRS. FIDGET: Impudence! How dare you mention my daughters so irreverently.
JACK: Nay, no harm. Come, let's in and take a glass to clear our understanding and ripen our plot.
[Enter MRS. RICH, LADY LA BASSET, and MRS. TRICKWELL]
MRS. TRICKWELL: Ha, ha, ha, ha. What a prodigious deal of wit your ladyship has.
MRS. RICH: So amongst ourselves, I think too. Yet would you believe that ill-mannered oaf, my husband's brother, had the confidence to tell me the envious world said I was a fool?
LADY LA BASSET: 'Tis a censorious world. [aside] I begin to hate her, though I win her money, now she's likely to get Sir John from me.
LUCINDA: Oh ma'am, your la'ship's humble servant.
MRS. RICH: So, that's pretty well. Give yourself airs, child, when I admit ye into my company. Humph! Pluck up you head. What! No motion with your fan. [instructs her] Ah, 'tis awkward, but sure, by my example, she'll learn.
MRS. TRICKWELL: [aside] To be ridiculous. — [to LUCINDA] Mind your aunt, miss, if you'd be the emblem of perfection.
MRS. RICH: Fie, fie, Mrs. Trickwell. You flatter me.
LUCINDA: Oh la, I can't make my fan do like my aunt's.
MRS. RICH: Oh my stars! She'll make a horrid person of quality. But prithee, niece, how dost thou know this Lord loves thee, hey?
LUCINDA: Oh ma'am, he has told me so, and my governess says 'tis unmannerly not to believe a Lord. Besides, he makes verses on me.
MRS. RICH: Verses, oh my stars! What a them he has chose. Let's see 'em.
LUCINDA: Here, aunt. There's a hugeous deal of love in 'em.
MRS. RICH: [reads]
I love you, charming fair one, more
Than ever mortal loved before.
And though, to my surprising joy,
The little,wanton, beardless boy
Had heard my prayers, and made you feel
The amourous sharpness of his steel;
confusion seize me, if my heart,
Don't with a mightier passion smart.
LADY LA BASSET: [aside] What do I hear! — [to LUCINDA] And have you the impudence to say this poetry was designed for you?!
LUCINDA: Ma'am! —
MRS. RICH: Monkey, the girl has stolen `em out of my cabinet.
LUCINDA: Aunt —
MRS. RICH: Hold your peace. Be gone and let me never see that young, bewitching face again.
LADY LA BASSET: I can hold no longer; the verses belong to me.
LUCINDA: The verses belong to you! That's furiously impossible, as my aunt says. How should my Lord know you, to make verses of you. You may look high indeed, but not so high as a Lord, sure.
MRS. RICH: By my stars, that's well enough. Have I not bid ye go, ye little impertinence. There must be some mistake.
LUCINDA: There must so, ma'am. I warrant your lover has begged 'em of my Lord and given 'em you. Not that I care for the verses, so I have the man. [Exit]
MRS. RICH: [Aside] What a confusion I am in. If I break with Lady Basset, she may expose my foibles to the whole town. And to brook a rival — [walks disturbed]
MRS. TRICKWELL: Observe how Mrs. Rich is disturbed. Here we shall lose a bubble for your foolish love affair.
LADY LA BASSET: Confound her! Have I kept Sir John and run all the risks in the universe to maintain his port, and shall he dare address without my leave.
MRS. TRICKWELL: 'Twas ever so, Lady Basset. We little ones dote upon the handsome footman first. Make a hard shift to equip him; Then some topping dame swoops the dressed-up fellow, and he forgets his original.
LADY LA BASSET: I'll lower his top-sail! And make him know he's mine, and only mine.
MRS. RICH: Is it any happy thing we know, my Lady! That has the honour to be yours, and only yours.
LADY LA BASSET: Yes verily, a thing you are fond of. And to convince ye how vain all your hopes are, know he sacrifices all his fools to me! Here's a list of 'em. Chaw upon't and farewell! [Exit]
MRS. RICH: Mon dieu! She has won three hundred pound of my money, and now she picks a quarrel with me. Civil I protest.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Ungrateful wretch! Should I forsake my friend!
MRS. RICH: Never whilst they have three hundred pound left! 'Tis against the rule of prudence.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Alas madam, what d'ye mean?
MRS. RICH: Your pardon, Mrs. Trickwell. I mean nothing. I am angry with the whole world, will indulge my ill-nature, and never bless 'em with a smile again.
MRS. TRICKWELL: I thought your ladyship would have allowed your lover to have been beloved.
MRS. RICH: But not to love; there's the distinction. To
increase my spleen, let's see what this Fury has left! [reads]
A list of the fools that dote on my proper person. — So! — Dorimene the back-biter, at the gilt post in Twatling Square. — Very well. — The rich, amourous banker's widow removed from behind the Exchange, into Covent Garden. — Oh! How I hate myself for having loved him. — Miranda the jilt in Scotland Yard. Arabella the affected, in Pride Lane. The Lady Hazard, under the doctors care at the Magdalene. — He's a monster. — The Fat Marchioness, with her shining face, near the Red House in Plaster Street. —Villain. I'll see him no more. [calls off] Betty.
BETTY: [entering] Madam.
MRS. RICH: 'Tis resolved on: I'll see Sir John no more.
BETTY: I believe I hear him. [starts to exit]
MRS. RICH: Whither do ye go?
BETTY: I'm going to meet him, madam, to tell him you'll see him no more.
MRS. RICH: No, no, Betty. Let him come in. I will confound him and see with what impudence he'll justify this list.
[Enter SIR JOHN, followed by CHRIS; BETTY remains in room]
SIR JOHN: Ah! Are you there, madam? You cannot imagine my impatience till I see you.
MRS. RICH: From what quarter of the town came you, sir? From Twatling Square? Or Pride Lane? Or Plaster Street?
SIR JOHN: I know not what you mean, madam!
MRS. RICH: Not what I mean, perfidious man?
SIR JOHN: Upon my honour, madam, I do not understand you.
MRS. RICH: See the obliging list of your fools sir.
SIR JOHN: Ha, ha, ha. And has this discomposed you la'ship? Only a frolic at my Lady Jeerwell's. We were all set to abuse our friends. A lady put down her list and writ me the leading coxcomb, at which we laughed for half an hour. I never knew your ladyship so out in the practice of quality in my whole life. Why the wit of the age lies in abuses.
MRS. RICH: I fear I'm in the wrong, Mrs. Trickwell.
MRS. TRICKWELL: I fear so too. Sir John is nice – at these things extremely nice.
MRS. RICH: Aye. But the verses, Mrs. Trickwell.
MRS. TRICKWELL: The verses, Sir John. The verses.
SIR JOHN: Why, that was the very adventure I was coming to laugh with your ladyship about. I must confess, I was indiscreet enough to communicate, my heart and tongue being full of my passion. I went, madam, to the Chocolate House, where I met five or six wits. Yes, madam, five or six. And let not that astonish you, for we live in a very fertile age for wits.
MRS. RICH: And what then, sir?
SIR JOHN: What then, madam? Why, they told me, how that my Lord Fourbind had given these verses to a Citizen's young daughter; that Mr. Flutter had sent them to a she-friend of his; that Sir Richard Welbred had obtained favours from his mistress by these verses. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Is not this diverting, madam?
MRS. RICH: So, I suppose you are extremely vain and pleased to see your works thus universal.
MRS. TRICKWELL: As we are, madam, we leaders of the town and fronters of the boxes, when we find a fashion begun by us, awkwardly aimed at by all the little pretenders to dress.
SIR JOHN: When, alas, borrowed wit, like borrowed clothes,
fits none but the owners. To you, and you alone, the song is a
I love you charming fair one more
Than ever mortal loved before.
MRS. TRICKWELL: How full of tenderness is all Sir John says. —[aside] I shall deserve the five hundred pounds, Sir John.
MRS. RICH: But then he wants sincerity and truth, Mrs. Trickwell.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Truth, in a compliment or courtier. Oh fie, madam! 'Tis against the nature of the thing.
MRS. RICH: Why, de la Bette, how charmingly contrary is this to my City education. But canst thou believe Sir John's in love with aught but that dear shadow of his, which he's caressing so passionately in the glass?
BETTY: I dare swear that's his idol. But your ladyship will not hear me.
MRS. RICH: Yes, Betty, I shall take a time, for I am vexed, but scorn to show it.
BETTY: Madam— [bell rings off]
MRS. RICH: Peace. See and admit 'em. [Exit BETTY]
SIR JOHN: [setting his wig in the glass] Pox of this ill-favoured curl. How may hairs it exceeds his fellows. This Monsieur Cheurneux is a booby, damn me.
MRS. RICH: How concerned Sir John is in his justification, madam.
MRS. TRICKWELL: [aside] This fool will lose his opportunity, and I my money. [to SIR JOHN] The glass robs us of your conversation, Sir John.
SIR JOHN: No, 'tis the lady robs me of myself. I am perpetually studying new airs only to please her.
BETTY: Madam, Mrs. Clerimont and a world of company to wait on you.
MRS. RICH: Oh my stars. And are the Indian curtains drawn, the wax candles ready, the keys with the gold strings in the cabinet doors?
BETTY: Yes, madam. All is in order.
MRS. RICH: Oh heavens! Now Sir John should be caught saying fine things to me, and he's practicing grimaces in the glass.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Sir John, here's visitors to the lady.
SIR JOHN: Ha! Where?
MRS. RICH: Shall I be laughing or in a passion, or how, dear Mrs. Trickwell. Quick, quick, your instructions. Some say I become a passion rarely.
MRS. TRICKWELL: In no passion, I beseech you, madam, but that of joy to see your friends.
MRS. RICH: Well, I'll be advised, but my City neighbours said I chid my maids with such a grace, they'd have given all the world to have done like me.
[Enter BELVOIR, ELDER CLERIMONT, MRS. CLERIMONT, and TOBY; BETTY exits]
ELDER CLERIMONT: A neat place this, Toby. But our house i'th' country was nigh as handsome, till the hounds and my hunts-folks tore it about.
TOBY: Aye, master, but ye had not near so much earthen ware, that ye had not. And our Mopsa would make rare work wi'it. 'Udsnigs she would.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Why, Mr. Belvoir, I am baulked in my design of my visit. I intended to have brought the younger Clerimont and the Lady Landsworth to an interview. And his man has whisked him away just as we came out of the coach.
BELVOIR: We must on now, there's no retreating. They look as if they had been setting themselves this hour.
MRS. CLERIMONT: I have a sudden whim. Prithee assist.
BELVOIR: What is't?
MRS. CLERIMONT: I'll make my lubberly cousin pass upon that fantastic creature for a beau in disguise.
BELVOIR: That's an odd fancy, indeed. Surely 'tis impossible.
MRS. RICH: Sir John! Is this the mode of the wits, to come into one's house and find all the discourse among themselves.
SIR JOHN: I am in a maze, madam! Let us accost 'em.
MRS. RICH: If you please, give me leave, Sir John. [to MRS. CLERIMONT] What honours are these ye heap upon me, ma'am, to receive a visit from the charming Mrs. Clerimont.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Charms and perfections lose their signification when applied to any, where Mrs. Rich is by.
MRS. RICH: Oh madam—
ELDER CLERIMONT: Aye, Toby, here's words. I brought thee in to learn a little.
TOBY: 'Udsnigs, 'tis rare, master.
SIR JOHN: [deep bow] Mr. Belvoir, I cast me at your feet.
BELVOIR: [deep bow] Sir John, I kiss your hands.
SIR JOHN: [to ELDER CLERIMONT, bowing] Sir, I am yours.
TOBY: Nounce, what's he a-going to do, unbuckle master's shoe?
ELDER CLERIMONT: What a plague. You have run your mop in my face and e'en choked me with your powder.
SIR JOHN: Ah hey! [to BELVOIR] The meaning of this, my dear Belvoir?
BELVOIR: An uncommon fancy, Sir John.
SIR JOHN: Poison me, 'twas the oddest reception. For Pluto's sake, what is he?
TOBY: What is he? Why he is my master, 'udsnigs! Dan't provoke en; he'll have a game at fifty cuffs wi' ye, as well as e'er a man in vorty mile on him.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Let'n alone, Toby. 'Tis another o'th' libken souls a high wind or a shower frights into fits. I despise en.
MRS. CLERIMONT: [to MRS. RICH] Let me beg your private ear. That man is the greatest, nicest beau in Christendom.
MRS. RICH: Ye amaze me, madam.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Very true upon my word. A countess has been in love with him.
MRS. RICH: Oh my stars. Can I believe you?
MRS. CLERIMONT: You may. No creature knows it but myself. I beg ye keep it a secret, especially from Sir John, or murder will ensue.
MRS. RICH: I engage. I love a secret extremely. But what could be the occasion?
MRS. CLERIMONT: A lady affronted him, and he swore never to address again but in this strange disguise, because his mistress chose his rival only for having his wig better powdered. He'll not alter this behaviour, nor dress, till some other lady makes him amends. He's my relation. I wonder you can't perceive some airs of greatness through those clouds.
MRS. RICH: Not I, I protest.
MRS. CLERIMONT: He calls his gentleman Toby. Could you think one bred a page had power to put on such a shuffling gait?
MRS. RICH: 'Tis a diverting whimsy, now one knows it. He, he, he.
SIR JOHN: Won't ye give me leave to laugh with ye, ladies, at those strange figures? I beg it of ye, for I am ready to burst.
MRS. RICH: It may be dangerous, Sir John. And I advise you to keep your countenance. — [Aside] How pretty 'tis a to know a thing the rest of the company does not.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Come coz, what must we do next? We ha' stared about us long enough, madam. Ha' ye ne'er a smoking room and a cup of hearty March, Ha —
TOBY: I'faykings, had master and I been at e'er a gentleman's house i'th' country, by this time we had been half-seas-over, 'udsnighs.
MRS. RICH: Rarely performed, I vow.
MRS. CLERIMONT: [to MRS. RICH] Now must I keep up the humour and pretend to direct him. [to ELDER CLERIMONT] Fie, cousin. Talk of drinking before ladies. You should entertain them with fine conversation and songs.
ELDER CLERIMONT: I dan't pass, and I do gi' e a song. Come, a hunting song. [sings. Song tk]
SIR JOHN: Ridiculous.
MRS. RICH: Better and better, by my stars.
SIR JOHN: [to MRS. TRICKWELL] She seems pleased.
MRS. TRICKWELL: I am in the dark.
[ELDER CLERIMONT finishes his song]
MRS. RICH: Excellent.
SIR JOHN: Excellent! Abominable.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Now if you please, madam, we'll pay a visit to my Lady Landsworth. My cousin said he would return.
MRS. RICH: With all my heart. — [Aside] I believe she's not at home, but the opportunity will show my apartments.
SIR JOHN: Madam, my hand.
MRS. RICH: [extending her arm to ELDER CLERIMONT] Your pardon, Sir John. This gentleman's a stranger.
SIR JOHN: Preferred to me!
ELDER CLERIMONT: Stand by, muskcat. You see the gentlewoman likes ye not.
[Exeunt MRS. RICH and ELDER CLERIMONT followed by MRS. CLERIMONT on BELVOIR'S arm]
TOBY: Well done, master, egad. He'll put by a hundred such beaux as you, egad, he will.
SIR JOHN: Hell, devils and furies, I'll be revenged. [Exeunt, MRS. TRICKWELL on his arm]
TOBY: Ha, ha. Ah, what strange oaths he has. [Exits]
Young Clerimont's lodgings
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT and JACK]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Where is she! How my desires are changed! Triumphant love prevails. A thousand fires shot from those fair eyes have warmed me. A thousand arguments pleading all for pleasure lead me on.
JACK: Aye, marry, sir. Now you look and breathe another man. Good fortune is your slave: she always waits upon the bold.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: And what know I but the coy dame, who hides her face at the least word awry, and blushes to be gazed on, has in her heart looser fires than my gay mistress.
JACK: Right, sir, right. Oh I could burn my cap for joy to see you thus.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: She's coming, and seems in busy talk. Let us not disturb her.
[Enter LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
BETTY: As soon as ever my lady was engaged, I fled to overtake ye, madam.
LADY LANDSWORTH: 'Twas kindly done. Yonder he stands. Methinks I hate him, now he has lost that modest sweetness which caught my soul. His looks are wild and lewd, and all I ever feared in men appears in that deceitful face. I would I were away.
BETTY: Nay, madam. Make this last trial, since you have gone so far.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: May I yet approach.
LADY LANDSWORTH: You may. I do remember when we parted last, 'twas on odd terms. Nature seemed reversed. You fled and I pursued in vain. I practiced all my charms and tried my utmost art in vain. Your virtue like the mountain snow, the nearer I advanced, congealed the more. And in the bloom of youth, rigid and cold as frozen age, you awed me with severity. Are ye still thus resolved?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Oh no, I am altered quite. My very soul's on fire. Do not my eyes speak for me? I languish, burn, and die.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Then we have conquered, and like libertines we'll rove — tire every pleasure, tread rounds of joy the insipid world shall wonder at, but never know to taste.
JACK: Nay, we shall live a delicious life, that's certain, ha my dear damsel.
BETTY: Peace, and mind your betters.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What music's in that voice. It dances through my ears and puts my heart in tune. Oh thou art rapture all, and all divine. Down at thy loved sight each sense drinks deep draughts of joy.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Throw off these mourning weeds, and let me dress thee extravagant as my desires. For I would be profuse.
JACK: Lard, lard, how fine we shall be.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: If there must be profusion, let it be in love. There lay out all thy stock. Let days and nights and years serve only to count the acts of love.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Yes, and teach us to deceive my keeper. His purse must help our riots, his credulity supply our mirth.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Ah, why hast dashed my rising ecstasies with the detested thought that thou art shared. But in thy arms I'll lose the goading torment. In those blissful moments I'm sure thou art only mine.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Stand off, thou monster, viler, worse than man. Oh let thy contagious breath infect at distance. I will remove thee from my sight and from my soul, as far as thou art gone from honour, truth, and honesty.
JACK: Here's a turn. Ye gods, why what's the matter now?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Madam —
LADY LANDSWORTH: Speak not, nor dare to stay me. For I'll leave thee like thy good genius in thy distressful hours, never to return. Oh I could curse myself, to believe there was virtue in thy sex, thou vile dissembler. May it return upon thee — dissembled by thy joy, dissembled by thy friends, above all, may thy mistress prove the abstract of dissimulation.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Hear me but speak.
LADY LANDSWORTH: No, haste thee to some mart of luxury and shame. Preach there, but defile my ears no more. Away, my friend, away. [Exeunt LADY LANDSWORTH and BETTY]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What's the meaning of all this?
JACK: Mad, sir, raving mad.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Can she be honest?
JACK: Impossible. Had she the roguish leer, the tip, the wink, the everything.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Peace, rascal, she is, and not the world shall hide her from me.
JACK: Now must we go upon knight-errantry. May heaven be praised, we are as poor as knight-errants already.
Fly, search, inquire.
She cannot long remain unknown.
I'll find, I'll seize her for my own,
Breathe at her feet my vows, nor thence remove,
Till I am blessed with her returning love.
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT, MRS. FIDGET, and JACK]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Sure, 'twas all a dream. The gaudy vision's vanished and I am waked again to my calamities. Or grant it real, what had I to do with love? Love's the gay banquet of luxurious hours. He shakes his golden wings and flies detested poverty to downy couches under gilded roofs. There lays his wanton head, there revels in the fair one's eyes.
JACK: Sir, sir.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Why do ye follow me? Is misery denied the privilege to be alone?
MRS. FIDGET: Ah sir, 'tis that unlucky dog, your man, has done this.
MRS. FIDGET: Nay, it shall out.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What has he done? Speak!
MRS. FIDGET: Why, sir —
JACK: Peace, I say, ye ungrateful cockatrice. Now will not all the sack I have rammed down that unconscionable throat keep this poor secret in. Though upon my word, I meant it for the best. Believe that, I beseech you, sir.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: What's the matter? What have ye said?
MRS. FIDGET: Aye, said. There ye have hit it. He has said enough, by my troth.
JACK: I am sure you always say too much.
MRS. FIDGET: Say ye so, sirrah. Know then, sir, that hopeful rogue gave ye such a character to the young gentlewoman, t'would have frighted the devil.
JACK: And what said you, Mrs. Delilah?
MRS. FIDGET: Even the same, by thy instigation, thou tempter.
JACK: Keep that name to yourself, woman. I thought, sire, she loved nothing but a rake. I did all for the best, indeed I did, sir.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: No matter. 'Tis the malice of my Fate, which would have found an instrument hadst thou been silent.
MRS. FIDGET: Come, hang melancholy and cast away care. This damsel will wheel about again. I never yet knew man or woman weary of an intrigue when 'twas gone no further than yours has done.
JACK: There ye are in the right, i'faith.
BELVOIR: Still with folded arms and looks of sorrow. I come to cheer thee, my friend; to give thee lasting joy.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Impossible!
BELVOIR: Thy brother is fallen in love with the fantastical widow Rich – her wealth and beauty has charmed him. Whilst she takes him for a beau in masquerade and is wonderfully pleased. I believe 'twill be a match.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: And what's all this to me?
BELVOIR: Oh! Much to your advantage, for he has promised Mrs. Clerimont, if she can bring this marriage to pass, he will resign that part of the estate to you, your father in his lifetime had designed ye.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: There thou speak'st comfort that suits my wishes, for I would fain travel, but want the means.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: My friend, 'tis not wealth can make me happy now.
JACK: Ah, sir, but wealth's a good stroke.
BELVOIR: Whatever you have resolved, I beg ye to go this moment with me to Mrs. Clerimont's. A busy minute now is worth a lazy year.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Do even what you please with me.
MRS. FIDGET: Good luck attend ye. [Exeunt all but MRS. FIDGET]
[Enter LADY LA BASSET, with a sword]
LADY LA BASSET: I'll fright this little pretender to quality, till she either quits Sir John or buys him of me at a good round rate. He has made many a penny of me; now 'tis time to retaliate.
[Enter MRS. RICH]
MRS. RICH: Madam!
LADY LA BASSET: Madam, you have robbed me of Sir John. I demand satisfaction.
MRS. RICH: Alas, madam, what satisfaction can a lady give to a lady?
LADY LA BASSET: I'd have thee fight. Dare you set up for quality, and dare not fight, pitiful Citizen. 'Tis for thy honour. 'Tis modish too, extremely French.
MRS. RICH: What need I fight, when I have conquered already. Can I help the power of my eyes, or Sir John's sensibility? My stars, this is prodigious! What weapon must we use in this unusual combat, hey, madam?
LADY LA BASSET: D'ye make a jest on't? Sword and pistol, madam.
MRS. RICH: Oh, heavens! I swoon at the sight of either.
LADY LA BASSET: Thou art the offspring of an alderman, I of quality; I can fight. Thou little creature, yield, or [draws sword] sa, sa — thus for Sir John. Sa, sa.
MRS. RICH: The woman's mad. Will ye come in my house and murder me?
LADY LA BASSET: [draws a pistol with other hand] Look, is this a jest?
MRS. RICH: Murder! Murder! Jack! Jeffery! George! Help! Help!
[Enter MR. RICH]
MR. RICH: Hey day! What's the house turned into a perfect Bedlam. Learning to fence, Madam Whimsical?
MRS. RICH: Oh, brother, save me from that furious woman and I'll submit, for the future, to your conduct.
LADY LA BASSET: [aside] Curse on him. This is a sensible fellow and my design's lost.
MR. RICH: What are you, a Lady Errant?
LADY LA BASSET: She would be a woman of quality and dares not fight. By the honour of my ancestors, I'll go find out Sir John, and if he does not change his resolution, he and I shall dispute it. [Exits]
MR. RICH: Ha, ha. That would be a pretty combat. Dost thou yet see thy folly? Alas, mistaken wretch, your instructors are as far from noble natures as light from darkness.
MRS. RICH: I do begin to find my error. Yet think not, though ye have humbled me, you shall e'er bring me back to the City again. I have still spirit enough to defy the City, and all its works.
MR. RICH: 'Tis impossible to turn the current of a woman's will, though it perpetually runs the wrong way.
BETTY: Oh, madam, such a piece of treachery, such perfidiousness have I discovered.
MRS. RICH: In whom? My stars, this is a day of wonders!
BETTY: Even Sir John. Going from your ladyship in a huff, because you smiled upon the worthy gentleman in disguise, he met your niece. She flew upon him with a violent exclamation, My Lord Fourbind, yours entirely. He answered in a passionate tone, Ah mon cher, I die for ye.
MR. RICH: My daughter!
BETTY: Yes, your daughter. And together they whisked cross the gallery to miss's apartment. I left but defile em there and came to inform your ladyship.
MRS. RICH: 'Tis all confusion and amazement!
MR. RICH: I am distracted! I'll kick him, burn his flaxen wig, dirty his coat, knock out his butter teeth, wring off his nose, and spoil him for being a beau for ever.
MRS. RICH: If this be true, Betty, I have such a revenge shall make the town ring on't.
BETTY: Now's the time, sir, to clear the house of the locusts.
MR. RICH: Agreed. Come, show me this happy couple. I shall spoil their mirth, egad.
[Enter SIR JOHN, LUCINDA, CHRIS, and GOVERNESS]
SIR JOHN: Beyond my wish! Mrs. Rich's niece! The world shall applaud my revenge. But, my dear, are you sure none of the family will interrupt us?
LUCINDA: No, no. They mew me here eternally with that old woman. My aunt hates a younger face than her own should appear where she is. Come hasten, governess. Pack up all my jewels. We'll steal out at the back door; bid adieu to my sweet aunt till my dear Lord and I visit her in a coach-and-six.
SIR JOHN: That's my cherubim. — [Aside] Help, Chris, help. I long to be gone.
CHRIS: My Lord, we'll ha' down in a twinkling.
LUCINDA: But look you, my Lord. I must tell you my mind in two or three words before we go — what you must trust to. I am not furiously in love. As my aunt says, I run away only for more pleasure, more liberty. I will go every day to the play, or else to the Park, to the lodge, to Chelsea: in fine, where I please. Or as I run away with you, I'll run away from you, sue for my own fortune again, and live as I please — what I have heard how ladies with fortunes do.
SIR JOHN: [aside] A young gypsy this; who'd have thought it had been in her. [to LUCINDA] Mon cher amie, you shall have your will.
LUCINDA: That you must expect, my dear Lord. For had I loved obedience, I had still obeyed my father. Quick, good governess. And then a hey for disobedience.
[Enter MR. RICH and BETTY]
MR. RICH: And then a hey for disobedience. Who is this, my daughter, with her a hey for disobedience?
LUCINDA: Oh Gemini, my father! What shall I do now! Well, I'll e'en turn sides, take my father's part if he's uppermost, and rail at my Lord furiously.
MR. RICH: Art thou the flaring fop my hopeful sister's fond on, descended from thy duchess's bed-chamber to steal my daughter?
SIR JOHN: I am a gentleman, sir, and expect to be used like one.
MR. RICH: 'Tis false, thou art not. I have traced thy original and found thou art none.
LUCINDA: Oh la! Not a gentleman. Why he swore to me he was a Lord. Out upon him!
SIR JOHN: [to MR. RICH] Thou unpolished thing. I answer they affront with my mien, my dress, my air — all show the gentleman and give the lie to thy ill-mannered malice.
MR. RICH: Defy me, thou thing equipped! Canst thou justify the worst of thefts, stealing my child? Draw. [draws sword]
SIR JOHN: Your pardon, sir. Not before the lady. Perhaps the sight of a sword may fright her into a fit.
LUCINDA: Oh la, don't let me hinder ye.
MR. RICH: Art thou not a fool?
SIR JOHN: A la mode, sire.
MR. RICH: A coward.
SIR JOHN: I am a beau, sir.
MR. RICH: All sound and no sense.
SIR JOHN: I sing tolerably well [sings] Why then make haste . . .
MR. RICH: Thou trifling coxcomb, all wig and no brains. Begone this very instant, or I'll lead thee thus by the nose.
SIR JOHN: Egad, this is very uncivil.
MR. RICH: I meant it so.
SIR JOHN: I'll lampoon thee till the world laugh at ye.
MR. RICH: I believe your wit's as dangerous as your courage. Begone, insect.
LUCINDA: Pretend to be a Lord and baulk a young woman's expectations!
BETTY: Ah poor Sir John, ha, ha.
SIR JOHN: [aside] Has she been a spectator. I shall by
jeered to death. [to MR. RICH]
I will study a revenge shall make you tremble, thou barbarous Cit.
MR. RICH: Go set your periwig to rights, fop; ha, ha.
SIR JOHN: Curses, curses. Ah I shall choke. [Exit SIR JOHN]
MR. RICH: Farewell fool. [to LUCINDA] You, madam, I shall find a time to discourse with. [to BETTY] Dear Mrs. Betty, take her into your care, whilst I turn this old limb of iniquity out of doors. [to GOVERNESS] Here, you had a mind to run away. Now I desire you to walk about your business. Begone thou unnecessary evil.
LUCINDA: I say, she seduced me I'm sure.
GOVERNESS: Oh, fie, fie, miss.
MR. RICH: Begone. — [aside] What care we ought to take whom we set over our children.
[Enter MRS. RICH]
MR. RICH: So, Madam, are you satisfied?
MRS. RICH: Rage, spite, shame, and resentment at once torment me. So base a coward. My stars, I shall go mad.
MR. RICH: Dear sister, let your stars alone and learn to shun folly, wheresoe'er you find it.
MRS. RICH: Then I must shun you, myself, and all the world. You have a set and formal folly, I a vain and airy folly, but he, the basest, most betraying folly.
MR. RICH: Then redeem your judgment and stop censorious mouths by accepting Mrs. Clerimont's kinsman, whom, your woman tells me, has a plentiful estate. This will turn the laughter of the town upon Sir John and leave you in happy circumstances.
MRS. RICH: I will do something to plague that fellow.
BETTY: Here comes the lady, I believe to plead in her cousin's behalf.
[Enter LADY LANDSWORTH and MRS. CLERIMONT]
MRS. CLERIMONT: Ah, madam, such misfortune.
MRS. RICH: The whole deceitful world I think is full of nothing else.
MRS. CLERIMONT: But this, madam, your bright eyes create.
MRS. RICH: I — my eyes; that's pleasant.
MRS. CLERIMONT: The strictness of his vow racks him, for he knows a lady thus accomplished can never like him as he appears.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Indeed I pity him.
MR. RICH: Pray, ladies, what's the case?
MRS. CLERIMONT: Alas, Sir, a cousin of mine who wants not the goods of fortune, but lies under an obligation to seem the greatest clown in the universe till Fate has made his reparation for the affront he received, when all his study was dress and conversation.
MRS. RICH: And has he a good estate?
MRS. CLERIMONT: Four thousand a year, I assure ye.
MR. RICH: Gadzooks, what matter is it wherever he is dressed?
MRS. RICH: Yes, yes. That is material upon my word, Mr. Rich.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Would you content to marry him, believe me, madam, he'd soon break forth to your amazement.
MRS. RICH: I profess, ladies, you give me such an air of blushing when I reflect on what ye are tempting me to.
MRS. CLERIMONT: I profess, ma'am, 'tis a very becoming air.
MRS. RICH: My stars! 'twill sound so odd.
MRS. CLERIMONT: 'Twill surprise the town so prettily.
MR. RICH: Zooks, 'tis the best thing to piece up your fantastical character. 'Twill surprise the world indeed to see you do a wise thing.
MRS. RICH: Speak not you, sir, for I yield only to the ladies. Well, where is the gentleman?
MRS. CLERIMONT: Languishing within, madam, condemned to silence, lest his rough-hewn expressions should offend.
MRS. RICH: De la Bette, a pen and ink. [to MRS. CLERIMONT] Perhaps I may expose the knight and satisfy your friend. Your pardon for some moments. Come with me niece. [to MRS. CLERIMONT] Your servant.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Yours. [Exeunt MRS. RICH and LUCINDA]
LADY LANDSWORTH: Follow dear de la Bette.
BETTY: I lay my life 'tis done; I see it in her eyes.
MR. RICH: In hopes on't, I'll get a parson. This widow married, my affairs are prosperous and my daughter and her fortune returned to me.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Hasten, good, sir, for this fair lady and I have a little business of our own.
MR. RICH: More weddings, I hope. Then we'll have dancing in abundance. Come honest de la Bette. I promise thee a new portion to thy new name.
BETTY: I'll endeavour to deserve it, sir. [Exeunt MR. RICH and BETTY]
MRS. CLERIMONT: My charming cousin, have not I found a pretty employment, to turn general match-maker? But for the younger Clerimont, I own I could do anything.
LADY LANDSWORTH: I should dissemble worse than I thought he did, not to say I'm pleased to find his character what I so heartily wished it.
MRS. CLERIMONT: To convince ye thoroughly, I have sent for his landlady, whose odd account of him must proceed from folly, or malice. Oh here she comes.
[Enter MRS. FIDGET]
MRS. CLERIMONT: Your servant, madam. 'Twas not for goods, as I pretended, I gave you this trouble, but to ask after the deportment of my relation, Mr. Clerimont, your lodger.
LADY LANDSWORTH: The wild, mad spark that scarce ever lies at home. You know me, madam, I suppose?
MRS. FIDGET: Yes, yes, madam. In verity I must beg your pardon. I did belie the gentleman abominably.
LADY LANDSWORTH: What provoked you to it?
MRS. FIDGET: Truly, John contrived it, thinking it would please your ladyship.
LADY LANDSWORTH: John? Pray who is John?
MRS. FIDGET: My friend and his footman.
MRS. CLERIMONT: My cousin, I am sure, was always accounted a very modest, sober gentleman.
MRS. FIDGET: Modest! 'Udsflesh, he has not his peer in the whole town. By my faykings, he's a little too modest; that's his fault.
MRS. CLERIMONT: I dare affirm he's truly noble. Not in these straights of fortune would he quit his honour to be great or his integrity to be rich.
MRS. FIDGET: Or his religion to be thought a wit.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Enough, ladies, I am fully satisfied. Only to his love, if I have made any impression.
MRS. CLERIMONT: That this moment you yourself shall be judge of. He's coming. If you please to retire, you shall overhear me sound his inclinations.
Come with me, Mrs Fidget. Now Clerimont,
If thy heart does with generous passion burn,
Then I with joy will love for love return.
[Exeunt LADY LANDSWORTH and MRS. FIDGET]
[Enter YOUNGER CLERIMONT, BELVOIR and JACK]
BELVOIR: I have brought him, madam, but I am ashamed to say with what reluctancy. He flies even you, you the fair contriver of his auspicious fortunes.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: I am sure I am ashamed to see you take such pains about a thing not worth your care. Did you fully know me, you would know there scarce is left a room for hope for me.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Suppose there is a lady in love with you. Suppose her chaste and rich and fair, who though her eyes never yet encountered yours, by my description dotes upon a character so singular and different from your wild sex.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Were she as fair as woman would be thought, as virtuous as they were of old, e'er 'twas fashionable to be false, had she wealth would satisfy the vain, the miser, the ambitious, so far am I from once consenting to what your kindness has proposed, I would not to rid me of half my sorrow so much as see her.
BELVOIR: Ah, my friend! You already are in love.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: It is enough to say I am a fool. If, madam, from my brother ye can procure my father's first design, I shall own myself eternally obliged, and trouble ye no more.
MRS. CLERIMONT: I sigh to say it is not in my power, since you refuse the advantageous offers of the lady's love.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Then all I beg is that ye would enquire for me no more. There is no warding the blows of Fate.
BELVOIR: But you look through despair. Believe me, friend, 'tis a false glass. Fortune has a fairer face to show you.
MRS. CLERIMONT: That pleasing task be mine. Madam, you hear the gentleman is obstinate. But now, sir, if you are not charmed with this appearance, you have a relish different from the universal world.
[Re-enter LADY LANDSWORTH and MRS. FIDGET]
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Ha. 'Tis he! 'Tis she! Here let me fix, thus forever, secure my only valued treasure!
JACK: Aye, 'tis she, 'tis she, egad, and my landlady too!
MRS. FIDGET: Yes, manners, your landlady too.
LADY LANDSWORTH: And dare you venture upon me, after the alderman, the colonel, and the senator?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: My eyes should have contradicted all other senses. Sweet innocence is writ in that dear face, and virtue in her brightest characters.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Virtuous and great, the charming widow of Sir John Landsworth. What could you ask of Fate more than to love and be beloved by her?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Oh! My ravished soul! My first, my only dear!
LADY LANDSWORTH: 'Tis wondrous pretty when love's soft passion first invades our breath. But ah, too often in your sex, rolling time or some newer face puts out the kindly flame, and the forsaken fair is left to live and languish on the kind words which she will hear no more. What can secure me from such a Fate?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: To look on thee secures a heart like mine from roving. To hear thee talk will fix me forever in the chains of love. But, oh! To have thee all; there words cannot aim; there breath is lost in ecstasy.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Here's a world of fine things; though I am a little of the lady's mind — 'twill scarce hold out seven years.
BELVOIR: Look, here's another happy couple.
[Enter ELDER CLERIMONT, MRS. RICH, MR. RICH, LUCINDA, BETTY, and TOBY]
MRS. RICH: Well, ladies, what d'ye think I have been doing since I went out? By my stars! A world of business: writ a billet-doux to the beau in appearance, married the beau in disguise, given occasion for forty stories and fifty lampoons, ha, ha, ha! I have done it all in a humour, by my stars!
MRS. CLERIMONT: E'en carry it on, madam. Never have a grave fit and repent, I say.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Yes, faith, I'm sped and all o'th'sudden. How they'll stare, Toby, when she shows her paces through our alley to the great pew. Brother Charles, how came you here? Udslids, does that pretty lady belong to you? Why this is a rare place for handsome women, by my troth.
MRS. RICH: Come, sir, the transformation has been comical enough. But now I beg you to reassume your former mien and dress, and let me make as great a sacrifice to you as the lady made of you.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Oh dear, Belvoir. Say something to keep in my laugh, or I'm undone.
BELVOIR: I dare not lift up my eyes.
MR. RICH: I confess, my gravity is put to the test now.
MRS. RICH: Come, Mr. Clerimont, will ye hasten. Pray dress immediately because I expect Sir John this moment.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Yes, 'facks, I'll dress, as soon as I can get my clothes made. And since I'm wed, I'll bestow more money than I thought, by five pound.
MRS. RICH: Nay, now the humour's tiresome. I would not for a thousand pound Sir John should find you thus. Speak to him, madam.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Indeed, madam, I fear it must go a little farther. For, to tell ye the plain truth, he has the estate I mentioned and is my relation. But for the accomplishments you expect, they are yet to learn, upon my word.
MRS. RICH: How! I'm undone! What, no conversation, no judgment in dress, no mien, no airs!
ELDER CLERIMONT: Prithee, coz, what is that same airs. I'd willingly please her, now I have her, d'ye see.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Airs: why, 'tis what's pretty when nature gives it and what, when affected, spoils all that nature gives beside.
MRS. RICH: Oh! I shall go mad. Is that an object fit to please a woman nice as I am?
MR. RICH: Come, sister, a long periwig and a la mode steenkirk has made a worse face a perfect beau e'er now. Consider, he has some thousands a year.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Aye, marry have I. Nay, 'udslid, I have a title too.
MRS. RICH: Oh, my cursed stars! First a citizen's, and then a country squire's wife. Ah! I shall never endure him, that's certain.
ELDER CLERIMONT: Midhap so and midhap ye may. I shan't cross ye mich. All the hunting season, I'll be in the country, and you shall hunt pleasures here in town. G'e me a little of your money to pay my debt and I won't trouble you, d'ye see.
LADY LANDSWORTH: Well said, Mr. Bridgroom. Come, madam, few beaux would be more complaisant.
BETTY: Madam, Sir John —
MRS. RICH: Mountains cover my shame! What shall I say now?
LADY LANDSWORTH: Say! Laugh at him, as all the world ought.
MRS. CLERIMONT: Believe me, madam, ye have made the better choice.
[Enter SIR JOHN and MRS. TRICKWELL]
MRS. TRICKWELL: You bring me here to see you triumph, I can never believe it. You have some trick put upon you, Sir John.
SIR JOHN: Have I not her own note, that spite of her jealousies and her brother's tyranny, she will this day be married.
MRS. TRICKWELL: She does not say to you. Ha! What a world of company is here.
SIR JOHN: The brother and the young gypsy, his daughter. I'll be gone.
BELVOIR: Nay, no retreating, Sir John. You must, at least, wish the lady joy.
MRS. RICH: Pshaw, my design's broke, my plot's spoiled. Can I triumph at his defeat and show that awkward figure?
SIR JOHN: Madam, your summons brought me hither, I hoped to joys.
MRS. RICH: I hate you and all mankind.
LUCINDA: So do I. Ye sham Lord, ye brag, ye —
BELVOIR: Enough, good miss. Sir John, I perceive you must search for new gallantries. Here the ladies are provided for, except this little one, who seems to have no inclination.
SIR JOHN: Pox take ye all. They were fond, I'm sure.
MR. RICH: Come, ye young coquette; your education shall be altered, I assure ye. 'Tis e'en high time.
MRS. TRICKWELL: Well, I believe my booty with yonder fantastical lady is at an end, so I'll steal off unobserved. [Exit MRS. TRICKWELL]
[Enter LADY LA BASSET]
LADY LA BASSET: Where is this villain, this false ungrateful villain!
SIR JOHN: So, another outcry?
LADY LA BASSET: Yes, traitor, and a just one. Know all, this was but a servant in Sir John Roverhead's family. I dressed him in these borrowed honours, knowing Sir John never came to town. I taught him the modes and manners here, and he has rewarded me with inconstancy.
SIR JOHN: Hold, hold. Not so fast. How came you to be the Honourable, the Lady Basset. I think 'twas I dubbed ye. As I take it, ye were but the cast mistress of Sir Francis Basset when I found ye.
MR. RICH: See, sister, how the quality you were fond of expose one another.
MRS. CLERIMONT: And seeing this, be reconciled to your new spouse, who is of a noble family, and I promise to introduce ye to persons of merit and honour.
LADY LANDSWORTH: We shall all be fond of ye, for of yourself, you are charming and sensible. 'Tis only these wretches have rendered ye ridiculous.
MR. RICH: Come, give him your hand. 'Tis a gentle punishment for so much vanity.
MRS. RICH: Well, since my malicious stars have thus decreed it. But, d'ye hear, I expect to have your estate in my power and that same title you talk of looked into.
ELDER CLERIMONT: I' faykings and so you shall. But must not I have your fine person in my power too? Ha!
MRS. RICH: Has the thing sense enough to be in love?
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Now, I hope all's well, and I have prevailed with my landlady to give ye a song.
MRS. RICH: Sir John, will ye participate in our diversion, or employ your time in reconciling yourself to this enraged lady?
SIR JOHN: Shame, disappointment and disreputation light upon you all. Would all the whole sex were upon Salisbury Plain, and their rigging on fire about their ears. [Exit SIR JOHN]
MRS. CLERIMONT: And that's the dreadful curse of a defeated beau. Follow, madam, and put him in a better humour.
LADY LA BASSET: Hang him, as I would myself, you, and all the world. [Exit]
BETTY: A fair riddance.
YOUNGER CLERIMONT: Now the song, and then the dance.
MR. RICH: Now, sister and daughter, to you I chiefly speak.
Let this day's adventure make ye forever cautious of your
conversation. You see how near these pretenders to quality had
brought you to ruin. The truly great are of a quite different
The glory of the world our Brithish nobles are,
The ladies too renowned and chaste and fair:
But to our City, Augusta's sons,
The conquering wealth of both the Indias runs;
Though less in name, of greater power by far.
Honours alone, but empty `scutcheons are.
Mixed with their coin, the title sweetly sounds,
No such allay as twenty thousand pounds.