BY WILLIAM WYCHERLEY
-- Ridiculum acri Fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res.1
CAPTAIN MANLY'S lodging.
Enter CAPTAIN MANLY, surlily, and my LORD PLAUSIBLE, following him; and two Sailors behind.
MAN. Tell not me, my good Lord Plausible, of your decorums, supercilious forms, and slavish ceremonies! your little tricks, which you, the spaniels of the world, do daily over and over, for and to one another; not out of love or duty, but your servile 5 fear.
L. PLAUS. Nay, i' faith, i' faith, you are too passionate, and I must humbly beg your pardon and leave to tell you, they are the arts and rules the prudent of the world walk by. 10
MAN. Let 'em. But I'll have no leading-strings, I can walk alone; I hate a harness, and will not tug on in a faction, kissing my leader behind, that another slave may do the like to me.
L. PLAUS. What, will you be singular then, 15 like nobody? follow love, and esteem nobody?2
MAN. Rather than be general, like you, follow everybody, court and kiss everybody; though perhaps at the same time you hate everybody.
L. PLAUS. Why, seriously, with your pardon, 20 my dear friend --
MAN. With your pardon, my no friend, I will not, as you do, whisper my hatred or my scorn, call a man fool or knave by signs or mouths over his shoulder, whilst you have him in your arms; for 25 such as you, like common whores and pickpockets, are only dangerous to those you embrace.
L. PLAUS. Such as I! Heavens defend me! -- upon my honor --
MAN. Upon your title, my lord, if you'd have 30 me believe you.
L. PLAUS. Well then, as I am a person of honor, I never attempted to abuse or lessen any person in my life.
MAN. What, you were afraid? 35
L. PLAUS. No; but seriously, I hate to do a rude thing: no, faith, I speak well of all mankind.
MAN. I thought so: but know, that speaking well of all mankind is the worst kind of detraction; for it takes away the reputation of the few good 40 men in the world, by making all alike. Now, I speak ill of most men, because they deserve it -- I that can do a rude thing, rather than an unjust thing.
L. PLAUS. Well, tell not me, my dear friend, 45 what people deserve, I ne'er mind that. I, like an author in a dedication, never speak well of a man for his sake, but my own; I will not disparage any man, to disparage myself; for to speak ill of people behind their backs is not like a person of honor; 50 and, truly to speak ill of 'em to their faces, is not like a complaisant person. But if I did say or do an ill thing to any, it should be sure to be behind their backs, out of pure good manners.
MAN. Very well; but I, that am an unman 55 nerly sea-fellow, if I ever speak well of people (which is very seldom indeed), it should be sure to be behind their backs; and if I would say or do ill to any, it should be to their faces. I would justle a proud, strutting, overlooking coxcomb, at the head of his 60 sycophants, rather than put out my tongue at him when he were past me; would frown in the arrogant, big, dull face of an overgrown knave of business, rather than vent my spleen against him when his back were turned; would give fawning slaves 65 the lie whilst they embrace or commend me; cowards whilst they brag; call a rascal by no other title, though his father had left him a duke's; laugh at fools aloud before their mistresses; and must desire people to leave me, when their visits grow at 70 last as troublesome as they were at first impertinent.
L. PLAUS. I would not have my visits trouble. some.
MAN. The only way to be sure not to have 'em troublesome, is to make 'em when people are 75 not at home; for your visits, like other good turns, are most obliging when made or done to a man in____________________