British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview

SCENE III

[The Mail.]

Enter HARRIET and YOUNG BELLAIR, she pulling him.

HAR. Come along.

Y. BELL. And leave your mother!

HAR. Busy will be sent with a hue and cry after us, but that's no matter.

Y. BELL. 'Twill look strangely in me. 5

HAR. She'll believe it a freak of mine and never blame your manners.

Y. BELL. What reverend acquaintance is that she has met?

HAR. A fellow-beauty of the last king's time,110
though by the ruins you would hardly guess it.

Exeunt.

Enter DORIMANT and crosses the stage.

Enter YOUNG BELLAIR and HARRIET.

Y. BELL. By this time your mother is in a fine taking.

HAR. If your friend Mr. Dorimant were but here

now, that she might find me talking with him! 15

Y. BELL. She does not know him, but dreads him, I hear, of all mankind.

HAR. She concludes if he does but speak to a woman, she's undone -- is on her knees every day

to pray heaven defend me from him. 20

Y. BELL. You do not apprehend him so much as she does?

HAR. I never saw anything in him that was frightful.

Y. BELL. On the contrary, have you not 25
observed something extreme delightful in his wit and person?

HAR. He's agreeable and pleasant, I must own, but he does so much affect being so, he displeases me.

Y. BELL. Lord, madam! all he does and says 30
is so easy and so natural.

HAR. Some men's verses seem so to the unskillful, but labor i'the one and affectation in the other to the judicious plainly appear.

Y. BELL. I never heard him accused of af­ 35
fectation before.

Enter DORIMANT and stares upon her.

HAR. It passes on the easy town, who are favorably pleased in him to call it humor.

[Exeunt YOUNG BELLAM and HARRIET.]

DOR. 'Tis she! it must be she -- that lovely hair,

that easy shape, those wanton eyes, and all 40
those melting charms about her mouth which Medley spoke of! I'll follow the lottery and put in for a prize with my friend Bellair.

Exit DORIMANT repeating:

In love the victors from the vanquished fly;

They fly that wound, and they pursue that die.245

Enter YOUNG BELLAIR and HARRIET and after them DORIMANT standing at a distance.

Y. BELL. Most people prefer High Park3 to this place.

HAR. It has the better reputation, I confess; but I abominate the dull diversions there -- the formal bows, the affected smiles, the silly by-words 50 and amorous tweers4 in passing. Here one meets with a little conversation now and then.

Y. BELL. These conversations have been fatal to some of your sex, madam.

HAR. It may be so; because some who 55
want temper5 have been undone by gaming, must others who have it wholly deny themselves the pleasure of play?

DOR. (coming up gently and bowing to her). Trust

me, it were unreasonable, madam. 60

HAR. (she starts and looks grave). Lord, who's this?

Y. BELL. Dorimant!

DOR. Is this the woman your father would have you marry?

Y. BELL. It is. 65

DOR. Her name?

Y. BELL. Harriet.

DOR. I am not mistaken; she's handsome.

Y. BELL. Talk to her; her wit is better than her

face. We were wishing for you but now. 70

DOR. (to HARRIET). Overcast with seriousness o'the sudden! A thousand smiles were shining in that face but now; I never saw so quick a change of weather.

HAR. (aside). I feel as great a change within, 75
but he shall never know it.

DOR. You were talking of play, madam. Pray,

what may be your stint?6

HAR. A little harmless discourse in public walks,

or at most an appointment in a box, barefaced, 80
at the playhouse: you are for masks and private meetings, where women engage for all they are worth, I hear.

DOR. I have been used to deep play, but I can

make one at small game when I like my gamester 85
well.

HAR. And be so unconcerned you'll ha' no pleasure in't.

DOR. Where there is a considerable sum to be

won, the hope of drawing people in makes every 90
trifle considerable.

HAR. The sordidness of men's natures, I know,

____________________
1
Of the reign of Charles I, which had ended more than a quarter of a century earlier.
2
Waller, To a Friend, of the Different Success of their Loves, ll. 27-28.
3
An alternative name for Hyde Park.
4
Leers.
5
Self-control.
6
Pre-determined amount, after the loss of which the gamester intends to cease playing.

-176-

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