British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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cury is by the sun. Come, I'm sure thou wo't tell me.

PET. If I do, will you grant me common sense then, for the future?

MIRA. Faith, I'll do what I can for thee; 500
and I'll pray that heaven may grant it thee in the meantime.

PET. Well, hark'ee.

[They converse in dumb-show.]

FAIN. Petulant and you both will find Mirabell

as warm a rival as a lover. 505

WIT. Pshaw, pshaw, that she laughs at Petulant is plain. And for my part -- but that it is almost a fashion to admire her, I should -- hark'ee -- to tell you a secret, but let it go no further -- between

friends, I shall never break my heart for her. 510

FAIN. How!

WIT. She's handsome; but she's a sort of an uncertain woman.

FAIN. I thought you had died for her.

WIT. Umh -- no ----- 515

FAIN. She has wit.

WIT. 'Tis what she will hardly allow anybody else. Now, demme, I should hate that, if she were as handsome as Cleopatra. Mirabell is not so sure

of her as he thinks for. 520

FAIN. Why do you think so?

WIT. We stayed pretty late there last night, and heard something of an uncle to Mirabell, who is lately come to town, -- and is between him and the

best part of his estate. Mirabell and he are 525
at some distance, as my Lady Wishfort has been told; and you know she hates Mirabell, worse than a Quaker hates a parrot, or than a fishmonger hates a hard frost. Whether this uncle has seen Mrs.
Millamant or not, I cannot say; but there were 530
items of such a treaty being in embryo; and if it should come to life, poor Mirabell would be in some sort unfortunately fobbed,1 i'faith.

FAIN. 'Tis impossible Millamant should hearken

to it. 535

WIT. Faith, my dear, I can't tell; she's a woman and a kind of a humorist.

MIRA. [conversing apart with PETULANT]. And this is the sum of what you could collect last night.

PET. The quintessence. Maybe Witwoud 540
knows more, he stayed longer. Besides, they never mind him; they say anything before him.

MIRA. I thought you had been the greatest favorite.

PET. Ay, tête-à-tête; but not in public, be­ 545
cause I make remarks.

MIRA. Do you?

PET. Ay, ay; pox, I'm malicious, man. Now, he's soft, you know; they are not in awe of him. The

fellow's well bred, he's what you call a -- 550
what-d'ee-call-'em. A fine gentleman, but he's silly withal.

MIRA. I thank you, I know as much as my curiosity requires. -- Fainall, are you for the Mall?2

FAIN. Ay, I'll take a turn before dinner. 555

WIT. Ay, we'll all walk in the Park, the ladies talked of being there.

MIRA. I thought you were obliged to watch for your brother Sir Wilfull's arrival.

WIT. No, no, he comes to his aunt's, my 560
Lady Wishfort; pox on him, I shall be troubled with him too; what shall I do with the fool?

PET. Beg him for his estate, that I may beg you afterwards, and so have but one trouble with you

both. 565

WIT. O rare Petulant! thou art as quick as a fire in a frosty morning; thou shalt to the Mall with us, and we'll be very severe.

PET. Enough! I'm in a humor to be severe.

MIRA. Are you? Pray then walk by your­ 570
selves -- let not us be accessary to your putting the ladies out of countenance, with your senseless ribaldry, which you roar out aloud as often as they pass by you; and when you have made a handsome woman
blush, then you think you have been severe. 575

PET. What, what? Then let 'em either show their innocence by not understanding what they hear, or else show their discretion by not hearing what they would not be thought to understand.

MIRA. But hast not thou then sense enough 580
to know that thou ought'st to be most ashamed thyself, when thou hast put another out of countenance?

PET. Not I, by this hand -- I always take blush

ing either for a sign of guilt, or ill breeding. 585

MIRA. I confess you ought to think so. You are in the right, that you may plead the error of your judgment in defence of your practice. Where modesty's ill manners, 'tis but fit

That impudence and malice pass for wit. 590




St. James's Park.


MRS. FAIN. Ay, ay, dear Marwood, if we will be happy, we must find the means in ourselves, and among ourselves. Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse. While they are lovers, if they

have fire and sense, their jealousies are insup­ 5
portable: and when they cease to love, (we ought to think at least) they loathe; they look upon us

Imposed upon.
In St. James's Park: cf. Witwoud's next speech.


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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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