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Mrs. Mal. Nay, but read it, captain.
Abs. [Reads.] My soul's idol, my adored Lydia! tender indeed!
Mrs. Mal. Tender! ay, and profane too, o'my conscience! Abs. [Reads.] I am excessively alarmed at the intelligence you send me, the more so as my new rival
Mrs. Mal. That's you, sir.
Abs. [Reads.] Has universally the character of being an accomplished gentleman and a man of honour. Well, that's handsome enough. Mrs. Mal. Oh, the fellow has some design in writing so. Abs. That he had, I'll answer for him, ma'am. Mrs. Mal. But go on, sir, you'll see presently.
Abs. [Reads.] As for the old weather-beaten she-dragon who guards you - Who can he mean by that? Mrs. Mal. Me, sir me! he means me! There what do you think now? but go on a little further. Abs. Impudent scoundrel! [Reads.] it shall go hard but I will elude her vigilance, as I am told that the same ridiculous vanity, which makes her dress up her coarse features, and deck her dull chat with hard words which she don't understand
Mrs. Mal. There, sir, an attack upon my language! what do you think of that? an aspersion upon my parts of speech! was ever such a brute! Sure, if I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!
Abs. He deserves to be hanged and quartered! let me [Reads.] same ridiculous vanity
Mrs. Mal. You need not read it again, sir.
Abs. I beg pardon, ma'am. [Reads.] does also lay her open to the grossest deceptions from flattered and pretended admiration an impudent coxcomb! so that I have a scheme to see you shortly with the old harridan's consent, and even to make her a go-between in our interview. Was ever such assurance!
Mrs. Mal. Did you ever hear anything like it? he'll
elude my vigilance, will he likely to enter these doors;
yes, yes! ha! ha! he's very we'll try who can plot best! Abs. So we will, ma'am so we will. Ha ha! ha! a conceited puppy, ha! ha! ha! Well, but, Mrs. Malaprop, as the girl seems so infatuated by this fellow, suppose you were to wink at her corresponding with him for a little time let her even plot an elopement with him then do you connive at her escape while I, just in the nick, will have
the fellow laid by the heels, and fairly contrive to carry her off in his stead.
Mrs. Mal. I am delighted with the scheme; never was anything better perpetrated!
Abs. But, pray, could not I see the lady for a few minutes now? I should like to try her temper a little. Mrs. Mal. Why, I don't know - I doubt she is not prepared for a visit of this kind. these matters.
There is a decorum in
Abs. O Lord! she won't mind me
only tell her Be
Mrs. Mal. Sir!
Abs. Gently, good tongue.
Mrs. Mal. What did you say of Beverley?
Abs. Oh, I was going to propose that you should tell her, by way of jest, that it was Beverley who was below she'd come down fast enough then ha! ha! ha!
Mrs. Mal. 'Twould be a trick she well deserves besides, you know the fellow tells her he'll get my consent to see her ha! ha! Let him if he can, I say again. Lydia, come down here! [Calling.] He'll make me a gobetween in their interviews! ha! ha! ha! Come down, I say, Lydia! — I don't wonder at your laughing, ha! ha! ha! his impudence is truly ridiculous.
Abs. 'Tis very ridiculous, upon my soul, ma'am, ha! ha! ha! Mrs. Mal. The little hussy won't hear. Well, I'll go and tell her at once who it is she shall know that captain Absolute is come to wait on her. And I'll make her be
have as becomes a young woman. Abs. As you please, ma'am.
Mrs. Mal. For the present, captain, your servant. — Ah! you've not done laughing yet, I see - elude my vigilance! yes, yes; ha! ha! ha!
2. THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL.
A Room in Sir PETER TEAZLE'S House.
Enter Sir PETER and Lady TEAZLE.
Sir Pet. Lady Teazle, lady Teazle, I'll not bear it!
Lady Teaz. Sir Peter, sir Peter, you may bear it or not, as you please; but I ought to have my own way in everything, and what's more, I will, too. What! though I was
educated in the country, I know very well that women of fashion in London are accountable to nobody after they are married.
Sir Pet. Very well, ma'am, very well; to have no influence, no authority?
so a husband is
Lady Teaz. Authority! no to be sure: if you wanted authority over me, you should have adopted me, and not married me: I am sure you were old enough.
Sir Pet. Old enough! ay there it is. Well, well, lady Teazle, though my life may be made unhappy by your temper, I'll not be ruined by your extravagance.
Lady Teaz. My extravagance! I'm sure I'm not more extravagant than a woman of fashion ought to be.
Sir Pet. No, no, madam, you shall throw away no more sums on such unmeaning luxury. 'Slife! to spend as much to furnish your dressing-room with flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the Pantheon into a greenhouse, and give a fête champêtre at Christmas.
Lady Teaz. And am I to blame, sir Peter, because flowers are dear in cold weather? You should find fault with the climate, and not with me. For my part, I'm sure, I wish it was spring all the year round, and that roses grew under our feet!
Sir Pet. Oons! madam if you had been born to this, I should'nt wonder at your talking thus; but you forget what your situation was when I married you.
Lady Teaz. No, no, I don't; 'twas a very disagreeable one, or I should never have married you.
Sir Pet. Yes, yes, madam, you were then in somewhat a humbler style; the daughter of a plain country squire. Recollect, lady Teazle, when I saw you first sitting at your tambour, in a pretty-figured linen gown, with a bunch of keys at your side; your hair combed smooth over a roll, and your apartment hung round with fruits in worsted, of your own working.
Lady Teaz. O, yes! I remember it very well, and a curious life I led. - My daily occupation to inspect the dairy, superintend the poultry, make extracts from the family receipt-book, and comb my aunt Deborah's lapdog.
Sir Pet. Yes, yes, ma'am, 'twas so indeed.
Lady Teaz. And then you know, my evening amusements! To draw patterns for ruffles, which I had not materials to make up; to play pope Joan with the curate; to read a sermon to my aunt; or to be stuck down to an old spinet to strum my father to sleep after a fox-chase.
Sir Pet. I am glad you have so good a memory. madam, these were the recreations I took you from; but now you must have your coach vis-à-vis and three powdered footmen before your chair; and, in the summer, a pair of white cats to draw you to Kensington-gardens. No recollection, I suppose, when you were content to ride double, behind the butler, on a docked coach-horse. Lady Teaz. No I swear I never did that: I deny the butler and the coach-horse.
Sir Pet. This, madam, was your situation; and what have I done for you? I have made you a woman of fashion, of fortune, of rank; in short, I have made you my wife.
Lady Teaz. Well then, and there is but one thing more you can make me to add to the obligation, and that is
Sir Pet. My widow, I suppose?
Sir Pet. I thank you, madam but don't flatter yourself; for though your ill conduct may disturb my peace, it shall never break my heart, I promise you: however, I am equally obliged to you for the hint.
Lady Teaz. Then why will you endeavour to make yourself so disagreeable to me, and thwart me in every little elegant_expense?
Sir Pet. 'Slife, madam, I say, had you any of these little elegant expenses when you married me?
Lady Teaz. Lud, sir Peter! would you have me be out of the fashion?
Sir Pet. The fashion, indeed! what had you to do with the fashion before you married me?
Lady Teaz. For my part, I should think you would like to have your wife thought a woman of taste.
Sir Pet. Ay - there again taste! Zounds! madam, you had no taste when you married me!
Lady Teas. That's very true indeed, sir Peter; and after having married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I allow. But now, sir Peter, if we have finished our daily jangle, I presume I may go to my engagement at lady Sneerwell's.
Sir Pet. Ay, there's another precious circumstance charming set of acquaintance you have made there!
Lady Teaz. Nay, sir Peter, they are all people of rank and fortune, and remarkably tenacious of reputation.
Sir Pet. Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputation with a vengeance; for they don't choose anybody should have a
character but themselves! Such a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged tales, coiners of scandal, and clippers of reputation.
Lady Teaz. What, would you restrain the freedom of speech?
Sir Pet. Ah! they have made you just as bad as any one of the society.
Lady Teaz. Why, I believe I do bear a part with a tolerable grace. But I vow I bear no malice against the people I abuse. When I say an ill-natured thing, 'tis out of pure good-humour; and I take it for granted, they deal exactly in the same manner with me. But, sir Peter, you know you promised to come to lady Sneerwell's too.
Sir Pet. Well, well, I'll call in just to look after my own character.
Lady Teaz. Then indeed you must make haste after me, or you'll be too late. So, good-bye to ye.
3. >THE ANGRY BOY«.
Mr. William Pitt having entered the ministry of Lord Shelburne, at the age of twenty-three, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he soon after undertook to put down Mr. Sheridan by a contemptuous allusion to his theatrical pursuits. »>No man«, said he, »admires more than I do the abilities of that Right Honourable Gentleman, the elegant sallies of his thought, the gay effusions of his fancy, his dramatic turns, and his epigrammatic point. If they were reserved for the proper stage, they would no doubt receive the plaudits of his audience; and it would be the fortune of the Right Honourable Gentleman sui plausu gaudere theatri«. Mr. Sheridan replied in the following words:
On the particular sort of personality which the Right Honourable Gentleman has thought proper to make use of, I need not make any comment. The propriety, the taste, and the gentlemanly point of it must be obvious to the House. But let me assure the Right Honourable Gentleman, that I do now, and will, at any time he chooses to repeat this sort of allusion, meet it with the most sincere goodhumour. Nay, I will say more. Flattered and encouraged by the Right Honourable Gentleman's panegyric on my talents, if ever I again engage in the compositions he alludes to, I may be tempted to an act of presumption - to attempt an improvement on one of Ben Jonson's best characters, the character of the Angry Boy in the Alchymist.