British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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PHIL. What pretence have I to what is in your hands, Mr. Tom?

TOM. As thus: there are hours, you know, when

a lady is neither pleased or displeased, neither 390
sick or well; when she lolls or loiters; when she's without desires -- from having more of everything than she knows what to do with. PHIL. Well, what then?

TOM. -- When she has not life enough to 395
keep her bright eyes quite open, to look at her own dear image in the glass.

PHIL. Explain thyself, and don't be so fond of thy own prating.

TOM. There are also prosperous and good- 400
natured moments, as when a knot or a patch is happily fixed, when the complexion particularly flourishes.

PHIL. Well, what then? I have not patience!

TOM. Why, then -- or on the like occasions 405
-- we servants who have skill to know how to time business see when such a pretty folded thing as this (shows a letter) may be presented, laid, or dropped, best suits the present humor. And, madam, be
cause it is a long, wearisome journey to run 410
through all the several stages of a lady's temper, my master, who is the most reasonable man in the world, presents you this to bear your charges1 on the road. (Gives her the purse.)

PHIL. Now you think me a corrupt hussy.

TOM. Oh, fie! I only, think you'll take the 415
letter. Nay, I know you do, but I know my own innocence; I take it for my mistress's sake.

TOM. I know it, my pretty one, I know it.

PHIL. Yes, I say, I do it because I would not 420
have my mistress deluded by one who gives no proof of his passion; but I'll talk more of this as you see me on my way home. No, Tom, I assure thee I take this trash of thy master's, not for the value of the
thing, but as it convinces me he has a true re­ 425
spect for my mistress. I remember a verse to the purpose --

They may be false who languish and complain, But they who part with money never feign. Exeunt.


SCENE II

BEVIL JUNIOR's lodgings.

BEVIL, JUNIOR, reading.

BEV. JUN. These moral writers practise virtue after death. This charming vision of Mirza!2 Such an author consulted in a morning sets the spirit for the vicissitudes of the day better than the glass does

a man's person. But what a day have I to go 5
through! to put on an easy look with an aching heart. If this lady my father urges me to marry should not refuse me, my dilemma is insupportable. But why should I fear it? Is not she in equal distress with
me? Has not the letter I have sent her this 10
morning confessed my inclination to another? Nay, have I not moral assurances of her engagements, too, to my friend Myrtle? It's impossible but she must give in to it: for sure, to be denied is a favor any man
may pretend to. It must be so. Well, then, 15
with the assurance of being rejected I think I may confidently say to my father I am ready to marry her. Then let me resolve upon -- what I am not very good at, though it is -- an honest dissimulation.

Enter TOM.

TOM. Sir John Bevil, sir, is in the next room. 20

BEV. JUN. Dunce! Why did not you bring him in?

TOM. I told him, sir, you were in your closet.

BEV. JUN. I thought you had known, sir, it was my duty to see my father anywhere. (Going himself to the door.)

TOM (aside). The devil's in my master! he 25
has always more wit than I have.

BEV. JUN. (introducing SIR JOHN). Sir, you are the most gallant, the most complaisant of all parents. Sure, 'tis not a compliment to say these lodgings are

yours. Why would you not walk in, sir? 30

SIR J. BEV. I was loth to interrupt you unseasonably on your wedding-day.

BEV. JUN. One to whom I am beholden for my birthday might have used less ceremony.

SIR J. BEV. Well, son, I have intelligence you 35
have writ to your mistress this morning. It would please my curiosity to know the contents of a wedding-day letter, for courtship must then be over.

BEV. JUN. I assure you, sir, there was no insolence

in it upon the prospect of such a vast fortune's 40
being added to our family, but much acknowledgment of the lady's greater desert.

SIR J. BEV. But, dear Jack, are you in earnest in all this? And will you really marry her?

BEV. JUN. Did I ever disobey any command 45
of yours, sir? -- nay, any inclination that I saw you bent upon?

SIR J. BEV. Why, I can't say you have, son; but methinks in this whole business you have not been

so warm as I could have wished you. You 50
have visited her, it's true, but you have not been particular.3 Everyone knows you can say and do as handsome things as any man, but you have done nothing but lived in the general -- been complaisant
only. 55

BEV. JUN. As I am ever prepared to marry if you

____________________
420] XX-YYZ I say I do it.
SCENE II. 42] Z great.
1
Pay your expenses.
2
A paper by Addison in the 159th number of the Spectator.
3
Especially attentive.

-447-

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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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