The Double Dealer/Act III
LORD TOUCHWOOD and LADY TOUCHWOOD.
LADY TOUCH. My lord, can you blame my brother Plyant if he refuse his daughter upon this provocation? The contract’s void by this unheard-of impiety.
LORD TOUCH. I don’t believe it true; he has better principles. Pho, ’tis nonsense. Come, come, I know my Lady Plyant has a large eye, and would centre everything in her own circle; ’tis not the first time she has mistaken respect for love, and made Sir Paul jealous of the civility of an undesigning person, the better to bespeak his security in her unfeigned pleasures.
LADY TOUCH. You censure hardly, my lord; my sister’s honour is very well known.
LORD TOUCH. Yes, I believe I know some that have been familiarly acquainted with it. This is a little trick wrought by some pitiful contriver, envious of my nephew’s merit.
LADY TOUCH. Nay, my lord, it may be so, and I hope it will be found so. But that will require some time; for in such a case as this, demonstration is necessary.
LORD TOUCH. There should have been demonstration of the contrary too, before it had been believed.
LADY TOUCH. So I suppose there was.
LORD TOUCH. How? Where? When?
LADY TOUCH. That I can’t tell; nay, I don’t say there was. I am willing to believe as favourably of my nephew as I can.
LORD TOUCH. I don’t know that. [Half aside.]
LADY TOUCH. How? Don’t you believe that, say you, my lord?
LORD TOUCH. No, I don’t say so. I confess I am troubled to find you so cold in his defence.
LADY TOUCH. His defence! Bless me, would you have me defend an ill thing?
LORD TOUCH. You believe it, then?
LADY TOUCH. I don’t know; I am very unwilling to speak my thoughts in anything that may be to my cousin’s disadvantage: besides, I find, my lord, you are prepared to receive an ill impression from any opinion of mine which is not consenting with your own. But, since I am like to be suspected in the end, and ’tis a pain any longer to dissemble, I own it to you; in short I do believe it, nay, and can believe anything worse, if it were laid to his charge. Don’t ask me my reasons, my lord, for they are not fit to be told you.
LORD TOUCH. I’m amazed: there must be something more than ordinary in this. [Aside.] Not fit to be told me, madam? You can have no interests wherein I am not concerned, and consequently the same reasons ought to be convincing to me, which create your satisfaction or disquiet.
LADY TOUCH. But those which cause my disquiet I am willing to have remote from your hearing. Good my lord, don’t press me.
LORD TOUCH. Don’t oblige me to press you.
LADY TOUCH. Whatever it was, ’tis past. And that is better to be unknown which cannot be prevented; therefore let me beg you to rest satisfied.
LORD TOUCH. When you have told me, I will.
LADY TOUCH. You won’t.
LORD TOUCH. By my life, my dear, I will.
LADY TOUCH. What if you can’t?
LORD TOUCH. How? Then I must know, nay, I will. No more trifling. I charge you tell me. By all our mutual peace to come; upon your duty—
LADY TOUCH. Nay, my lord, you need say no more, to make me lay my heart before you, but don’t be thus transported; compose yourself. It is not of concern to make you lose one minute’s temper. ’Tis not, indeed, my dear. Nay, by this kiss you shan’t be angry. O Lord, I wish I had not told you anything. Indeed, my lord, you have frighted me. Nay, look pleased, I’ll tell you.
LORD TOUCH. Well, well.
LADY TOUCH. Nay, but will you be calm? Indeed it’s nothing but—
LORD TOUCH. But what?
LADY TOUCH. But will you promise me not to be angry? Nay, you must—not to be angry with Mellefont? I dare swear he’s sorry, and were it to do again, would not—
LORD TOUCH. Sorry for what? ’Death, you rack me with delay.
LADY TOUCH. Nay, no great matter, only—well, I have your promise. Pho, why nothing, only your nephew had a mind to amuse himself sometimes with a little gallantry towards me. Nay, I can’t think he meant anything seriously, but methought it looked oddly.
LORD TOUCH. Confusion and hell, what do I hear?
LADY TOUCH. Or, may be, he thought he was not enough akin to me, upon your account, and had a mind to create a nearer relation on his own; a lover you know, my lord. Ha, ha, ha. Well, but that’s all. Now you have it; well remember your promise, my lord, and don’t take any notice of it to him.
LORD TOUCH. No, no, no. Damnation!
LADY TOUCH. Nay, I swear you must not. A little harmless mirth; only misplaced, that’s all. But if it were more, ’tis over now, and all’s well. For my part I have forgot it, and so has he, I hope,—for I have not heard anything from him these two days.
LORD TOUCH. These two days! Is it so fresh? Unnatural villain! Death, I’ll have him stripped and turned naked out of my doors this moment, and let him rot and perish, incestuous brute!
LADY TOUCH. Oh, for heav’n’s sake, my lord, you’ll ruin me if you take such public notice of it; it will be a town talk. Consider your own and my honour; nay, I told you you would not be satisfied when you knew it.
LORD TOUCH. Before I’ve done I will be satisfied. Ungrateful monster! how long?
LADY TOUCH. Lord, I don’t know; I wish my lips had grown together when I told you. Almost a twelvemonth. Nay, I won’t tell you any more till you are yourself. Pray, my lord, don’t let the company see you in this disorder. Yet, I confess, I can’t blame you; for I think I was never so surprised in my life. Who would have thought my nephew could have so misconstrued my kindness? But will you go into your closet, and recover your temper. I’ll make an excuse of sudden business to the company, and come to you. Pray, good, dear my lord, let me beg you do now. I’ll come immediately and tell you all; will you, my lord?
LORD TOUCH. I will—I am mute with wonder.
LADY TOUCH. Well, but go now, here’s somebody coming.
LORD TOUCH. Well, I go. You won’t stay? for I would hear more of this.
LADY TOUCH. I follow instantly. So.
LADY TOUCHWOOD, MASKWELL.
MASK. This was a masterpiece, and did not need my help, though I stood ready for a cue to come in and confirm all, had there been occasion.
LADY TOUCH. Have you seen Mellefont?
MASK. I have; and am to meet him here about this time.
LADY TOUCH. How does he bear his disappointment?
MASK. Secure in my assistance, he seemed not much afflicted, but rather laughed at the shallow artifice, which so little time must of necessity discover. Yet he is apprehensive of some farther design of yours, and has engaged me to watch you. I believe he will hardly be able to prevent your plot, yet I would have you use caution and expedition.
LADY TOUCH. Expedition indeed, for all we do must be performed in the remaining part of this evening, and before the company break up, lest my lord should cool and have an opportunity to talk with him privately. My lord must not see him again.
MASK. By no means; therefore you must aggravate my lord’s displeasure to a degree that will admit of no conference with him. What think you of mentioning me?
LADY TOUCH. How?
MASK. To my lord, as having been privy to Mellefont’s design upon you, but still using my utmost endeavours to dissuade him, though my friendship and love to him has made me conceal it; yet you may say, I threatened the next time he attempted anything of that kind to discover it to my lord.
LADY TOUCH. To what end is this?
MASK. It will confirm my lord’s opinion of my honour and honesty, and create in him a new confidence in me, which (should this design miscarry) will be necessary to the forming another plot that I have in my head.—To cheat you as well as the rest. [Aside.]
LADY TOUCH. I’ll do it—I’ll tell him you hindered him once from forcing me.
MASK. Excellent! Your ladyship has a most improving fancy. You had best go to my lord, keep him as long as you can in his closet, and I doubt not but you will mould him to what you please; your guests are so engaged in their own follies and intrigues, they’ll miss neither of you.
LADY TOUCH. When shall we meet?—at eight this evening in my chamber? There rejoice at our success, and toy away an hour in mirth.
MASK. I will not fail.
I know what she means by toying away an hour well enough. Pox, I have lost all appetite to her; yet she’s a fine woman, and I loved her once. But I don’t know: since I have been in a great measure kept by her, the case is altered; what was my pleasure is become my duty, and I have as little stomach to her now as if I were her husband. Should she smoke my design upon Cynthia, I were in a fine pickle. She has a damned penetrating head, and knows how to interpret a coldness the right way; therefore I must dissemble ardour and ecstasy; that’s resolved. How easily and pleasantly is that dissembled before fruition! Pox on’t that a man can’t drink without quenching his thirst. Ha! yonder comes Mellefont, thoughtful. Let me think. Meet her at eight—hum—ha! By heav’n I have it.—If I can speak to my lord before. Was it my brain or providence? No matter which—I will deceive ’em all, and yet secure myself. ’Twas a lucky thought! Well, this double-dealing is a jewel. Here he comes, now for me. [MASKWELL, pretending not to see him, walks by him, and speaks as it were to himself.]
[To him] MELLEFONT, musing.
MASK. Mercy on us, what will the wickedness of this world come to?
MEL. How now, Jack? What, so full of contemplation that you run over?
MASK. I’m glad you’re come, for I could not contain myself any longer, and was just going to give vent to a secret, which nobody but you ought to drink down. Your aunt’s just gone from hence.
MEL. And having trusted thee with the secrets of her soul, thou art villainously bent to discover ’em all to me, ha?
MASK. I’m afraid my frailty leans that way. But I don’t know whether I can in honour discover ’em all.
MEL. All, all, man! What, you may in honour betray her as far as she betrays herself. No tragical design upon my person, I hope.
MASK. No, but it’s a comical design upon mine.
MEL. What dost thou mean?
MASK. Listen and be dumb; we have been bargaining about the rate of your ruin—
MEL. Like any two guardians to an orphan heiress. Well?
MASK. And whereas pleasure is generally paid with mischief, what mischief I do is to be paid with pleasure.
MEL. So when you’ve swallowed the potion you sweeten your mouth with a plum.
MASK. You are merry, sir, but I shall probe your constitution. In short, the price of your banishment is to be paid with the person of—
MEL. Of Cynthia and her fortune. Why, you forget you told me this before.
MASK. No, no. So far you are right; and I am, as an earnest of that bargain, to have full and free possession of the person of—your aunt.
MEL. Ha! Pho, you trifle.
MASK. By this light, I’m serious; all raillery apart. I knew ’twould stun you. This evening at eight she will receive me in her bedchamber.
MEL. Hell and the devil, is she abandoned of all grace? Why, the woman is possessed.
MASK. Well, will you go in my stead?
MEL. By heav’n, into a hot furnace sooner.
MASK. No, you would not; it would not be so convenient, as I can order matters.
MEL. What d’ye mean?
MASK. Mean? Not to disappoint the lady, I assure you. Ha, ha, ha, how gravely he looks. Come, come, I won’t perplex you. ’Tis the only thing that providence could have contrived to make me capable of serving you, either to my inclination or your own necessity.
MEL. How, how, for heav’n’s sake, dear Maskwell?
MASK. Why, thus. I’ll go according to appointment; you shall have notice at the critical minute to come and surprise your aunt and me together. Counterfeit a rage against me, and I’ll make my escape through the private passage from her chamber, which I’ll take care to leave open. ’Twill be hard if then you can’t bring her to any conditions. For this discovery will disarm her of all defence, and leave her entirely at your mercy—nay, she must ever after be in awe of you.
MEL. Let me adore thee, my better genius! By heav’n I think it is not in the power of fate to disappoint my hopes—my hopes? My certainty!
MASK. Well, I’ll meet you here, within a quarter of eight, and give you notice.
MEL. Good fortune ever go along with thee.
CARE. Mellefont, get out o’ th’ way, my Lady Plyant’s coming, and I shall never succeed while thou art in sight. Though she begins to tack about; but I made love a great while to no purpose.
MEL. Why, what’s the matter? She’s convinced that I don’t care for her.
CARE. I can’t get an answer from her, that does not begin with her honour, or her virtue, her religion, or some such cant. Then she has told me the whole history of Sir Paul’s nine years courtship; how he has lain for whole nights together upon the stairs before her chamber-door; and that the first favour he received from her was a piece of an old scarlet petticoat for a stomacher, which since the day of his marriage he has out of a piece of gallantry converted into a night-cap, and wears it still with much solemnity on his anniversary wedding-night.
MEL. That I have seen, with the ceremony thereunto belonging. For on that night he creeps in at the bed’s feet like a gulled bassa that has married a relation of the Grand Signior, and that night he has his arms at liberty. Did not she tell you at what a distance she keeps him? He has confessed to me that, but at some certain times, that is, I suppose, when she apprehends being with child, he never has the privilege of using the familiarity of a husband with a wife. He was once given to scrambling with his hands, and sprawling in his sleep, and ever since she has him swaddled up in blankets, and his hands and feet swathed down, and so put to bed; and there he lies with a great beard, like a Russian bear upon a drift of snow. You are very great with him, I wonder he never told you his grievances: he will, I warrant you.
CARE. Excessively foolish! But that which gives me most hopes of her is her telling me of the many temptations she has resisted.
MEL. Nay, then you have her; for a woman’s bragging to a man that she has overcome temptations is an argument that they were weakly offered, and a challenge to him to engage her more irresistibly. ’Tis only an enhancing the price of the commodity, by telling you how many customers have underbid her.
CARE. Nay, I don’t despair. But still she has a grudging to you. I talked to her t’other night at my Lord Froth’s masquerade, when I’m satisfied she knew me, and I had no reason to complain of my reception; but I find women are not the same bare-faced and in masks, and a vizor disguises their inclinations as much as their faces.
MEL. ’Tis a mistake, for women may most properly be said to be unmasked when they wear vizors; for that secures them from blushing and being out of countenance, and next to being in the dark, or alone, they are most truly themselves in a vizor mask. Here they come: I’ll leave you. Ply her close, and by and by clap a billet doux into her hand; for a woman never thinks a man truly in love with her, till he has been fool enough to think of her out of her sight, and to lose so much time as to write to her.
CARELESS, SIR PAUL, and LADY PLYANT.
SIR PAUL. Shan’t we disturb your meditation, Mr. Careless? You would be private?
CARE. You bring that along with you, Sir Paul, that shall be always welcome to my privacy.
SIR PAUL. O sweet sir, you load your humble servants, both me and my wife, with continual favours.
LADY PLYANT. Sir Paul, what a phrase was there? You will be making answers, and taking that upon you which ought to lie upon me. That you should have so little breeding to think Mr. Careless did not apply himself to me. Pray what have you to entertain anybody’s privacy? I swear and declare in the face of the world I’m ready to blush for your ignorance.
SIR PAUL. I acquiesce, my lady; but don’t snub so loud. [Aside to her.]
LADY PLYANT. Mr. Careless, if a person that is wholly illiterate might be supposed to be capable of being qualified to make a suitable return to those obligations, which you are pleased to confer upon one that is wholly incapable of being qualified in all those circumstances, I’m sure I should rather attempt it than anything in the world, [Courtesies] for I’m sure there’s nothing in the world that I would rather. [Courtesies] But I know Mr. Careless is so great a critic, and so fine a gentleman, that it is impossible for me—
CARE. O heavens! madam, you confound me.
SIR PAUL. Gads-bud, she’s a fine person.
LADY PLYANT. O Lord! sir, pardon me, we women have not those advantages; I know my imperfections. But at the same time you must give me leave to declare in the face of the world that nobody is more sensible of favours and things; for with the reserve of my honour I assure you, Mr. Careless, I don’t know anything in the world I would refuse to a person so meritorious. You’ll pardon my want of expression.
CARE. O, your ladyship is abounding in all excellence, particularly that of phrase.
LADY PLYANT. You are so obliging, sir.
CARE. Your ladyship is so charming.
SIR PAUL. So, now, now; now, my lady.
LADY PLYANT. So well bred.
CARE. So surprising.
LADY PLYANT. So well dressed, so bonne mine, so eloquent, so unaffected, so easy, so free, so particular, so agreeable.
SIR PAUL. Ay, so, so, there.
CARE. O Lord, I beseech you madam, don’t.
LADY PLYANT. So gay, so graceful, so good teeth, so fine shape, so fine limbs, so fine linen, and I don’t doubt but you have a very good skin, sir,
CARE. For heaven’s sake, madam, I’m quite out of countenance.
SIR PAUL. And my lady’s quite out of breath; or else you should hear—Gads-bud, you may talk of my Lady Froth.
CARE. O fie, fie, not to be named of a day. My Lady Froth is very well in her accomplishments. But it is when my Lady Plyant is not thought of. If that can ever be.
LADY PLYANT. O, you overcome me. That is so excessive.
SIR PAUL. Nay, I swear and vow that was pretty.
CARE. O, Sir Paul, you are the happiest man alive. Such a lady! that is the envy of her own sex, and the admiration of ours.
SIR PAUL. Your humble servant. I am, I thank heaven, in a fine way of living, as I may say, peacefully and happily, and I think need not envy any of my neighbours, blessed be providence. Ay, truly, Mr. Careless, my lady is a great blessing, a fine, discreet, well-spoken woman as you shall see, if it becomes me to say so, and we live very comfortably together; she is a little hasty sometimes, and so am I; but mine’s soon over, and then I’m so sorry.—O Mr. Careless, if it were not for one thing—
CARELESS, SIR PAUL, LADY PLYANT, BOY with a letter.
LADY PLYANT. How often have you been told of that, you jackanapes?
SIR PAUL. Gad so, gad’s-bud. Tim, carry it to my lady, you should have carried it to my lady first.
BOY. ’Tis directed to your worship.
SIR PAUL. Well, well, my lady reads all letters first. Child, do so no more; d’ye hear, Tim.
BOY. No, and please you.
CARELESS, SIR PAUL, LADY PLYANT.
SIR PAUL. A humour of my wife’s: you know women have little fancies. But as I was telling you, Mr. Careless, if it were not for one thing, I should think myself the happiest man in the world; indeed that touches me near, very near.
CARE. What can that be, Sir Paul?
SIR PAUL. Why, I have, I thank heaven, a very plentiful fortune, a good estate in the country, some houses in town, and some money, a pretty tolerable personal estate; and it is a great grief to me, indeed it is, Mr. Careless, that I have not a son to inherit this. ’Tis true I have a daughter, and a fine dutiful child she is, though I say it, blessed be providence I may say; for indeed, Mr. Careless, I am mightily beholden to providence. A poor unworthy sinner. But if I had a son! Ah, that’s my affliction, and my only affliction; indeed I cannot refrain tears when it comes in my mind. [Cries.]
CARE. Why, methinks that might be easily remedied—my lady’s a fine likely woman—
SIR PAUL. Oh, a fine likely woman as you shall see in a summer’s day. Indeed she is, Mr. Careless, in all respects.
CARE. And I should not have taken you to have been so old—
SIR PAUL. Alas, that’s not it, Mr. Careless; ah! that’s not it; no, no, you shoot wide of the mark a mile; indeed you do, that’s not it, Mr. Careless; no, no, that’s not it.
CARE. No? What can be the matter then?
SIR PAUL. You’ll scarcely believe me when I shall tell you—my lady is so nice. It’s very strange, but it’s true; too true—she’s so very nice, that I don’t believe she would touch a man for the world. At least not above once a year; I’m sure I have found it so; and, alas, what’s once a year to an old man, who would do good in his generation? Indeed it’s true, Mr. Careless, it breaks my heart. I am her husband, as I may say; though far unworthy of that honour, yet I am her husband; but alas-a-day, I have no more familiarity with her person—as to that matter—than with my own mother—no indeed.
CARE. Alas-a-day, this is a lamentable story. My lady must be told on’t. She must i’faith, Sir Paul; ’tis an injury to the world.
SIR PAUL. Ah! would to heaven you would, Mr. Careless; you are mightily in her favour.
CARE. I warrant you, what! we must have a son some way or other.
SIR PAUL. Indeed I should be mightily bound to you if you could bring it about, Mr. Careless.
LADY PLYANT. Here, Sir Paul, it’s from your steward. Here’s a return of 600 pounds; you may take fifty of it for the next half year. [Gives him the letter.]
[To them] LORD FROTH, CYNTHIA.
SIR PAUL. How does my girl? Come hither to thy father, poor lamb: thou’rt melancholic.
LORD FROTH. Heaven, Sir Paul, you amaze me, of all things in the world. You are never pleased but when we are all upon the broad grin: all laugh and no company; ah, then ’tis such a sight to see some teeth. Sure you’re a great admirer of my Lady Whifler, Mr. Sneer, and Sir Laurence Loud, and that gang.
SIR PAUL. I vow and swear she’s a very merry woman; but I think she laughs a little too much.
LORD FROTH. Merry! O Lord, what a character that is of a woman of quality. You have been at my Lady Whifler’s upon her day, madam?
CYNT. Yes, my lord. I must humour this fool. [Aside.]
LORD FROTH. Well, and how? hee! What is your sense of the conversation?
CYNT. Oh, most ridiculous, a perpetual comfort of laughing without any harmony; for sure, my lord, to laugh out of time, is as disagreeable as to sing out of time or out of tune.
LORD FROTH. Hee, hee, hee, right; and then, my Lady Whifler is so ready—she always comes in three bars too soon. And then, what do they laugh at? For you know laughing without a jest is as impertinent, hee! as, as—
CYNT. As dancing without a fiddle.
LORD FROTH. Just i’faith, that was at my tongue’s end.
CYNT. But that cannot be properly said of them, for I think they are all in good nature with the world, and only laugh at one another; and you must allow they have all jests in their persons, though they have none in their conversation.
LORD FROTH. True, as I’m a person of honour. For heaven’s sake let us sacrifice ’em to mirth a little. [Enter BOY and whispers SIR PAUL.]
SIR PAUL. Gads so.—Wife, wife, my Lady Plyant, I have a word.
LADY PLYANT. I’m busy, Sir Paul, I wonder at your impertinence.
CARE. Sir Paul, harkee, I’m reasoning the matter you know. Madam, if your ladyship please, we’ll discourse of this in the next room.
SIR PAUL. O ho, I wish you good success, I wish you good success. Boy, tell my lady, when she has done, I would speak with her below.
CYNTHIA, LORD FROTH, LADY FROTH, BRISK.
LADY FROTH. Then you think that episode between Susan, the dairy-maid, and our coachman is not amiss; you know, I may suppose the dairy in town, as well as in the country.
BRISK. Incomparable, let me perish. But then, being an heroic poem, had you not better call him a charioteer? Charioteer sounds great; besides, your ladyship’s coachman having a red face, and you comparing him to the sun—and you know the sun is called Heaven’s charioteer.
LADY FROTH. Oh, infinitely better; I’m extremely beholden to you for the hint; stay, we’ll read over those half a score lines again. [Pulls out a paper.] Let me see here, you know what goes before,—the comparison, you know. [Reads.]
For as the sun shines ev’ry day,
So of our coachman I may say.
BRISK. I’m afraid that simile won’t do in wet weather; because you say the sun shines every day.
LADY FROTH. No; for the sun it won’t, but it will do for the coachman, for you know there’s most occasion for a coach in wet weather.
BRISK. Right, right, that saves all.
LADY FROTH. Then I don’t say the sun shines all the day, but that he peeps now and then; yet he does shine all the day too, you know, though we don’t see him.
BRISK. Right, but the vulgar will never comprehend that.
LADY FROTH. Well, you shall hear. Let me see. [Reads.]
For as the sun shines ev’ry day,
So of our coachman I may say,
He shows his drunken fiery face,
Just as the sun does, more or less.
BRISK. That’s right, all’s well, all’s well. ‘More or less.’
LADY FROTH reads:
And when at night his labour’s done,
Then too, like Heav’n’s charioteer the sun:
Ay, charioteer does better.
Into the dairy he descends,
And there his whipping and his driving ends;
There he’s secure from danger of a bilk,
His fare is paid him, and he sets in milk.
For Susan you know, is Thetis, and so—
BRISK. Incomparable well and proper, egad—but I have one exception to make—don’t you think bilk—(I know it’s good rhyme)—but don’t you think bilk and fare too like a hackney coachman?
LADY FROTH. I swear and vow I’m afraid so. And yet our Jehu was a hackney coachman, when my lord took him.
BRISK. Was he? I’m answered, if Jehu was a hackney coachman. You may put that in the marginal notes though, to prevent criticism—only mark it with a small asterism, and say, ‘Jehu was formerly a hackney coachman.’
LADY FROTH. I will. You’d oblige me extremely to write notes to the whole poem.
BRISK. With all my heart and soul, and proud of the vast honour, let me perish.
LORD FROTH. Hee, hee, hee, my dear, have you done? won’t you join with us? We were laughing at my Lady Whifler and Mr. Sneer.
LADY FROTH. Ay, my dear, were you? Oh, filthy Mr. Sneer; he’s a nauseous figure, a most fulsamic fop, foh! He spent two days together in going about Covent Garden to suit the lining of his coach with his complexion.
LORD FROTH. O silly! yet his aunt is as fond of him as if she had brought the ape into the world herself.
BRISK. Who, my Lady Toothless? Oh, she’s a mortifying spectacle; she’s always chewing the cud like an old ewe.
CYNT. Fie, Mr. Brisk, eringo’s for her cough.
LADY FROTH. I have seen her take ’em half chewed out of her mouth, to laugh, and then put ’em in again. Foh!
LORD FROTH. Foh!
LADY FROTH. Then she’s always ready to laugh when Sneer offers to speak, and sits in expectation of his no jest, with her gums bare, and her mouth open—
BRISK. Like an oyster at low ebb, egad. Ha, ha, ha!
CYNT. [Aside] Well, I find there are no fools so inconsiderable in themselves but they can render other people contemptible by exposing their infirmities.
LADY FROTH. Then that t’other great strapping lady—I can’t hit of her name; the old fat fool that paints so exorbitantly.
BRISK. I know whom you mean—but deuce take me, I can’t hit of her name neither. Paints, d’ye say? Why, she lays it on with a trowel. Then she has a great beard that bristles through it, and makes her look as if she were plastered with lime and hair, let me perish.
LADY FROTH. Oh, you made a song upon her, Mr. Brisk.
BRISK. He! egad, so I did. My lord can sing it.
CYNT. O good, my lord, let’s hear it.
BRISK. ’Tis not a song neither, it’s a sort of an epigram, or rather an epigrammatic sonnet; I don’t know what to call it, but it’s satire. Sing it, my lord.
LORD FROTH sings.
Ancient Phyllis has young graces,
’Tis a strange thing, but a true one;
Shall I tell you how?
She herself makes her own faces,
And each morning wears a new one;
Where’s the wonder now?
BRISK. Short, but there’s salt in’t; my way of writing, egad.
[To them] FOOTMAN.
LADY FROTH. How now?
FOOT. Your ladyship’s chair is come.
LADY FROTH. Is nurse and the child in it?
FOOT. Yes, madam.
LADY FROTH. O the dear creature! Let’s go see it.
LORD FROTH. I swear, my dear, you’ll spoil that child, with sending it to and again so often; this is the seventh time the chair has gone for her to-day.
LADY FROTH. O law! I swear it’s but the sixth—and I haven’t seen her these two hours. The poor creature—I swear, my lord, you don’t love poor little Sapho. Come, my dear Cynthia, Mr. Brisk, we’ll go see Sapho, though my lord won’t.
CYNT. I’ll wait upon your ladyship.
BRISK. Pray, madam, how old is Lady Sapho?
LADY FROTH. Three-quarters, but I swear she has a world of wit, and can sing a tune already. My lord, won’t you go? Won’t you? What! not to see Saph? Pray, my lord, come see little Saph. I knew you could not stay.
CYNT. ’Tis not so hard to counterfeit joy in the depth of affliction, as to dissemble mirth in company of fools. Why should I call ’em fools? The world thinks better of ’em; for these have quality and education, wit and fine conversation, are received and admired by the world. If not, they like and admire themselves. And why is not that true wisdom? for ’tis happiness: and for ought I know, we have misapplied the name all this while, and mistaken the thing: since
If happiness in self-content is placed,
The wise are wretched, and fools only bless’d.