British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

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

TRIP. O gentlemen, I beg pardon for not showing

you out; this way -- Moses, a word. 30

Exeunt TRIP, and MOSES.

SIR OLIV. There's a fellow for you! Would you believe it, that puppy intercepted the Jew on our coming, and wanted to raise money before he got to his master!

ROW. Indeed! 35

SIR OLIV. Yes, they are now planning an annuity business. Ah, Master Rowley, in my days, servants were content with the follies of their masters, when they were worn a little threadbare -- but now they

have their vices, like their birthday clothes,140
with the gloss on. Exeunt.


SCENE III

A library [in JOSEPH SURFACE'S house.]

JOSEPH SURFACEand Servant.

JOS. SURF. No letter from Lady Teazle?

SERV. No, sir.

JOS. SURF. [aside]. I am surprised she hasn't sent, if she is prevented from coming. Sir Peter

certainly does not suspect me. Yet I wish I 5
may not lose the heiress, through the scrape I have drawn myself in with the wife; however, Charles's imprudence and bad character are great points in my favor. (Knocking.)

SERV. Sir, I believe that must be Lady Teazle. 10

JOS. SURF. Hold! See whether it is or not, before you go to the door -- I have a particular message for you, if it should be my brother.

SERV. 'Tis her ladyship, sir; she always leaves her

chair at the milliner's in the next street, 15

JOS. SURF. Stay, stay -- draw that screen before the window -- that will do; -- my opposite neighbor is a maiden lady of so curious a temper. -- (Servant draws the screen, and exit.) I have a difficult hand

to play in this affair. Lady Teazle has lately 20
suspected my views on Maria; but she must by no means be let into that secret, -- at least, not till I have her more in my power.

Enter LADY TEAZLE.

LADY TEAZ. What, sentiment in soliloquy! Have

you been very impatient now? O lud! don't 25
pretend to look grave. I vow I couldn't come before.

JOS. SURF. O madam, punctuality is a species of constancy, a very unfashionable quality in a lady.

LADY TEAZ. Upon my word, you ought to pity

me. Do you know that Sir Peter is grown so ill- 30

tempered to me of late, and so jealous of Charles too -- that's the best of the story, isn't it?

JOS. SURF. (aside). I am glad my scandalous friends keep that up.

LADY TEAZ. I am sure I wish he would let 35
Maria marry him, and then perhaps he would be convinced; don't you, Mr. Surface?

JOS. SURF. (aside). Indeed I do not. -- Oh, certainly I do! for then my dear Lady Teazle would

also be convinced how wrong her suspicions 40
were of my having any design on the silly girl.

LADY TEAZ. Well, well, I'm inclined to believe you. But isn't it provoking, to have the most ill-natured things said to one? And there's my friend Lady Sneerwell has circulated I don't 45 know how many scandalous tales of me! and all without any foundation, too--that's what vexes me.

JOS. SURF. Aye, madam, to be sure, that is

the provoking circumstance -- without founda­ 50
tion! yes, yes, there's the mortification, indeed; for, when a scandalous story is believed against one, there certainly is no comfort like the consciousness of having deserved it.

LADY TEAZ. No, to be sure -- then I'd forgive 55
their malice; but to attack me, who am really so innocent, and who never say an ill-natured thing of anybody -- that is, of any friend -- and then Sir Peter, too, to have him so peevish, and so
suspicious, when I know the integrity of my 60
own heart -- indeed 'tis monstrous!

JOS. SURF. But, my dear Lady Teazle, 'tis your own fault if you suffer it. When a husband entertains a groundless suspicion of his wife, and with

draws his confidence from her, the original com­ 65
pact is broke, and she owes it to the honor of her sex to endeavor to outwit him.

LADY TEAZ. Indeed! So that, if he suspects me without cause, it follows that the best way of

curing his jealousy is to give him reason for't? 70
JOS. SURF. Undoubtedly -- for your husband should never be deceived in you: and in that case it becomes you to be frail in compliment to his discernment.

LADY TEAZ. To be sure, what you say is very 75
reasonable, and when the consciousness of my own innocence -----

JOS. SURF. Ah, my dear madam, there is the great mistake; 'tis this very conscious innocence that is of the greatest prejudice to you. What 80 is it makes you negligent of forms, and careless of the world's opinion? why, the consciousness of your innocence. What makes you thoughtless in your conduct, and apt to run into a thousand little

imprudences? why, the consciousness of your 85

____________________
31] In s.d. Exit is corrected to Exeunt, as in IV. i. 176.
SCENE III] C inadvertently reads Scene 4th.
22] Not is interpolated (? by Sheridan),
1
Ceremonial dress for the King's Birthday celebrations.

-871-

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