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Mrs. Mal. Nay, nay, sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy.
Sir. Anth. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I observed your niece's maid coming forth from a circulating library! She had a book in each hand they were half-bound volumes, with marble covers! From that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see her mistress!
Mrs. Mal. Those are vile places, indeed!
Sir Anth. Madam, a circulating library in a town is, as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year! — And depend on it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves, will long for the fruit at last.
Mrs. Mal. Fy, fy, sir Anthony! you surely speak laconically.'
Sir. Anth. Why, Mrs. Malaprop, in moderation now, what would you have a woman know?
Mrs. Mal. Observe me, sir Anthony. I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learning neither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments. But, sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts; -- and as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries; but above all, sir Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not mis-spell, and mis-pronounce words so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know; – and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.
Sir. Ant. Well, well, Mrs. Malaprop, I will dispute the point no further with you; though I must confess, that you are a truly moderate and polite arguer, for almost every third word you say is on my side of the question. But, Mrs. Malaprop, to the more important point in debate, you say you have no objection to my proposal?
Mrs. Mal. None, I assure you. 'I am under no positive engagement with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia is so obstinate against him, perhaps your son may have better success.
Sir. Anth. Well, madam, I will write for the boy directly. He knows not a syllable of this yet, though I have for some time had the proposal in my head. He is at present with his regiment.
Mrs. Mal. We have never seen your son, sir Anthony; but I hope no objection on his side.
Sir. Anth. Objection! let him object if he dare! No, no, Mrs. Malaprop, Jack knows that the least demur puts me in a frenzy directly. My process was always very simple - in their younger days, 'twas »Jack, do this«; - if he demurred, I knocked him down — and if he grumbled at that, I always sent him out of the room.
[Exit. Mrs. Mal. Well, at any rate I shall be glad to get her from under my intuition. She has somehow discovered my partiality for sir Lucius O'Trigger sure, Lucy can't have betrayed me! – No, the girl is such a simpleton, I should have made her confess it. - Lucy! — Lucy! — (Calls.) Had she been one of your artificial ones, I should never have trusted her.
- Enter LUCY. ** Lucy. Did you call, ma'am?
Mrs. Mal. Yes, girl. Did you see sir Lucius while you was out?
Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am, not a glimpse of him.
Mrs. Mal. So, come to me presently, and I'll give you another letter to sir Lucius; but mind, Lucy
if ever you betray what you are entrusted with (unless it be other people's secrets to me), you forfeit my malevolence for ever; and your being a simpleton shall be no excuse for your locality.
Enter Lucy. Lucy. So
I shall have another rival to add to my mistress's list Captain Absolute. However, I shall not enter his name till my purse has received notice in form. Poor Acres is dismissed! Well, I have done him a last friendly office, in letting him know that Beverley was here before him. — Sir Lucius is generally more punctual, when he expects to hear from his dear Dalia, as he calls her: I wonder he's not here! - I have a little scruple of conscience from this deceit; though I should not be paid so well, if my hero knew that Delia was near fifty, and her own mistress.
Enter Sir LUCIUS O'TRIGGER.
Sir. Luc. Ha! my little ambassadress
upon my conscience, I have been looking for you; I have been on the South Parade this half hour.
Lucy. (Speaking simply.) O gemini! and I have been waiting for your worship here on the North.
Sir. Luc. Faith! may be that was the reason we did not meet; and it is very comical too, how you could go out and I not see you for I was only taking a nap at the Parade coffee-house, and I chose the window on purpose that I might not miss you.
Lucy. My stars! Now I'd wager a sixpence I went by while you were asleep.
Sir. Luc. Sure enough it must have been so and I never dreamt it was so late, till I waked. Well, but my little girl, have you got nothing for me?
Lucy. Yes, but I have I've got a letter for you in my pocket.
Sir. Luc. O faith! I guessed you weren't come empty. handed well let me see what the dear creature says. Lucy. There, sir Lucius.
(Gives him a letter. Sir Luc. [Reads.] Sir - there is often a sudden incentive impulse in love, that has a greater induction than years of domestic combination: such was the commotion I felt at the first superfluous view of sir Lucius OʻTrigger. Very pretty, upon my word. Female punctuation forbids me to say more; yet let me add, that it will give me joy infallible to find sir Lucius worthy the last criterion of my affections.
DELIA. Upon my conscience! Lucy, your lady is a great mistress of language. Faith, she's quite the queen of the dictionary! for the devil a word dare refuse coming at her call – though one would think it was quite out of hearing.
Lucy. Ay, sir, a lady of her experience -
Lucy. O true, sir but then she reads so how she will read off hand!
Sir. Luc. Faith, she must be very deep read to write this way -- though she is rather an arbitrary writer too – for here are a great many poor words pressed into the service of this note, that would get their habeas corpus from any court in Christendom.
Lucy. Ah! sir Lucius, if you were to hear how she talks
Sir Luc. Oh, tell her I'll make her the best husband in the world, and lady O'Trigger into the bargain! – But we must get the old gentlewoman's consent — and do everything fairly.
Lucy. Nay, sir Lucius, I thought you wa’n’t rich enough to be so nice!
Sir Luc. Upon my word, young woman, you have hit it:
I am so poor, that I can't afford to do a dirty action. If I did not want money, I'd steal your mistress and her tune with a great deal of pleasure. – However,
However, my pretty girl, [Gives her money) here's a little something to buy you a ribbon; and meet me in the evening, and I'll give you an answer to this. So, hussy, take a kiss beforehand, to put
(Kisses her. Lucy. O Lud! sir Lucius – I never seed such a gemman! My lady won't like you if you're so impudent.
Sir Luc. Faith she will, Lucy! — If your mistress asks you whether sir Lucius ever gave you a kiss, tell her fifty
you in mind.
Lucy. What, would you have me tell her a lie?
Sir. Luc. Ah then, you baggage! I'll make it a truth presently.
Lucy. For shame now! here is some one coming
(Exit, humming a tune.
SCENE III. Mrs. MALAPROP's Lodgings. Mrs. MALAPROP, with a letter in her hand, and Captain
ABSOLUTE. Mrs. Mal. Your being sir Anthony's son, captain, would itself be a sufficient accommodation; but from the ingenuity of your appearance, I am convinced you deserve the character here given of you.
Abs. Permit me to say, madam, that as I never yet have had the pleasure of seeing Miss Languish, my principal in
ducement in this affair at present is the honour of being allied to Mrs. Malaprop; of whose intellectual accomplishments, elegant manners, and unaffected learning, no tongue is silent.
Mrs. Mal. Sir, you do me infinite honour! I beg, captain, you'll be seated. – [They sit.] Ah! few gentlemen, now-adays, know how to value the ineffectual qualities in a woman! few think how a little knowledge becomes a gentlewoman! — Men have no sense now but for the worthless flower of beauty!
Abs. It is but too true indeed, ma'am; yet I fear our ladies should share the blame they think our admiration of beauty so great, that knowledge in them would be superfluous. Thus, like garden-trees, they seldom show fruit, till time has robbed them of the more specious blossom. Few, like Mrs. Malaprop and the orange-tree, are rich in both at once!
Mrs. Mal. Sir, you overpower me with good-breeding. He is the very pine-apple of politeness! – You are not ignorant, captain, that this giddy girl has somehow contrived to fix her affections on a beggarly, strolling, eaves-dropping ensign, whom none of us have seen, and nobody knows anything of.
Abs. Oh, I have heard the silly affair before. I'm not at all prejudiced against her on that account.
Mrs. Mal. You are very good and very considerate, captain. I am sure I have done everything in my power since I exploded the affair; long ago I laid my positive conjunctions on her, never to think on the fellow again; - I have since laid sir Anthony's preposition before her; but, I am sorry to say, she seems resolved to decline every particle that I enjoin her.
Abs. It must be very distressing, indeed, ma'am.
Mrs. Mal. Oh! it gives me the hydrostatics to such a degree. I thought she had persisted from corresponding with him; but, behold, this very day, I have interceded another letter from the fellow; I believe I have it in my pocket. Abs. Oh, the devil! my last note.
Aside. Mrs. Mal. Ay, here it is. Abs. Ay, my note indeed! O the little traitress Lucy
Aside Mrs. Mal. There, perhaps you may know the writing.
Gives him the letter. Abs. I think I have seen the hand before
yes, I certainly must have seen this hand before