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PROLOGUE.-"rillen by Mr. Garrick.
A School for Scandal! tell me, I beseech you,
Lord!' cries my lady Wormwood (who loves tattle,
SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL.
SCENE I.-Lady Sneerwell's House. Discovered LADY Sneerwell, at the dressing-table.
SNAKE drinking chocolate. Lady S. The paragraphs, you say, Mr. Snake, were alle inserted ?
Snake. They were, madam: and as I copied them myself in a feigned hand, there can be no suspicion whence they came.
Lady S. Did you circulate the report of Lady Brittle's intrigue with Captain Boastall ?
Snake. That's in as fine a train as your ladyship could wish. In the common course of things, I think it must reach Mrs. Clackilt's ears within fouran-twenty hours; and then, you know, the business is as good as done.
Lady S. Why, truly, Mrs. Clackitt has a very pretty talent, and a great deal of industry.
Snake. True, madam, and has been tolerably successful in her day. To my knowledge, she has been the cause of six matches being broken off, and three sons being disinherited; of four forced elopements, as many close confinements, nine separate maintenances, and two divorces. Nay, I have more than once traced her causing a tête-à-tête in the Town and Country Magazine, when the parties , perhaps, had never seen each other's face before in the course of their lives.
Lady S. She certainly has talents, but her manBer is gross.
Snake. 'Tis very true.-She generally designs well,
has a free tongue and a bold invention ; but her colouring is too dark, and het outlines oflen extravagant. She wants that delicacy of tint and mellow
of sneer, which distinguish your ladyship’s scandal.
Lady S. Ah! you are partial, Snake.
Snake. Not in the least- every body allows that Lady Sneerwell can do more with a word or a look than many can do with the most laboured delail, even when they happen to have a little truth on their side to support it.
Lady S. Yes, my dear Snake; and I am no hypocrite to deny the satisfaction I reap from the success of my efforts. [They rise.] Wounded myself in the early part of my life by the envenomed tongue of slander, I confess I have since known no pleasure equal to the reducing others to the level of my own reputation.
Snake. Nothing can be more natural. But, Lady Sneerwell, there is one affair in which you have lately employed me, wherein, I confess, I am at a loss to guess your motives.
Lady S. I conceive you mean with respect to my neighbour, Sir Peter Teazle, and his family?
Snake. I do. Here are two young men, to whom Sir Peter has acted as a kind of guardian since their father's death; the eldest possessing the most amiable character, and universally well spoken of-the youngest, the most dissipated and extravagant young fellow in the kingdom, without friends or character: the former, an avowed admirer of your ladyship’s, and apparently your favorite: the latter altached to Maria, Sir Peter's ward, and confessedly beloved by her. Now, on the face of these circumstances, it is utterly unaccountable to me, why you, the widow of a city knight, with a good jointure, should not close with the passion of a man of such character and expectations as Mr. Surface; and more so, why you should be so uncommonly earnest to destroy the mutual attachment subsisting between his brother Charles and Maria.
Lady S. Then at once to unravel this mystery, I must inform you, that love has no share whatever in the intercourse between Mr. Surface and me.
Lady S. His real attachment is to Maria, or her fortune, but finding in his brother a favoured rival, he has been obliged to mask his pretensions, and profit by my assistance.
Snake. Yet still I am more puzzled why you should interest yourself in his success.
Lady S. Heavens! how dull you are! Cannot you surmise the weakness which I hitherto, through shame, have concealed even from you ? Must I confess, that Charles, that libertine, that extravagant, that bank : rupt in fortune and reputation, that he it is for whom I'm thus anxious and malicious, and to gain whom I would sacrifice every thing?
Snake. Now, indeed, your conduct appears consistent; but how came you and Mr. Surface so confidential?
Lady S. For our mutual interest. I have found him out a long time since. I know him to be artful, selfish, and malicious—in short, a sentimental knave; while, with Sir Peter, and indeed with all his acquaintance, he passes for a youthful miracle of prudence, good sense, and benevolence.
Snake. Yes: yet Sir Peter vows he has not his equal in England-and above all, he praises him as a man of sentiment.
Lady S. True-and with the assistance of his sena timent and hypocrisy, he has brought him entirely into his interest with regard to Maria; while poor Charles has no friend in the house, though, I fear, he has a powerful one in Maria's heart, against whom we must direct our schemes.
Lady S. Shew him up. [Exit Servant.] He generally calls about this time. I don't wonder at people giving him to me for a lover.