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a pretty wit, and is a prelly poet, too; isn't he Lady Sneerwell?
Sir B. O fie, uncle!
Crab. Nay, egad, 'lis true; I back him at a rebns or a charade against the best rhymer in the kingdom.Kas your ladyship heard the epigram he wrole last week on lady Frizzle's feather catching fire ?-Do, Benjamin, repeat it, or the charade you made last night extempore at Mrs. Drow zie's conversazione. Come now; your first is the name of a fish, your second a great naval commander, and -
Sir B. Uncle, now-pr’ythee
Crab. l'faith, ma'am, 'i would surprise you to hear how ready he is at these things.
Lady $. I wonder, Sir Benjamin, you never publish anything.
Sir B. To say truth, ma'am, 'tis very vulgar to print; and as my little productions are mostly satires and lampoons on particular people, I find they circulate more by giving copies in confidence to the friends of the parties. However I have some love elegies, which, when favoured with this lady's smiles, I mean to give the public.
Crab. ?Fore heaven, ma'am, they'll immortalize you!—you will be handed down to posterity, like Petrarch's Laura, or Waller's Sacharissa.
Sir B. Yes, madam, I think you will like them, when you shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall murmur through a meadow of margin.—'fore Gad they will be the most elegant things of their kind?
Crab. But, ladies, that's true-have you heard the news?
Mrs. C. What, sir, do you mean the report of
Crab. No, ma'am, that's not it-Miss Nicely is going to be married to her own footman. Mr. C. Impossible! Crab. Ask Sir Benjamin.
Sir B. 'Tis very true, ma’am; every thing is fixed, and the wedding liveries bespoke.
Crab. Yes—and they do say there were very pressing reasons for it.
Lady S. Why, I have heard something of this before.
Mr. C. It can't be—and I wonder any one should believe such a story, of so prudent a lady as Miss Nicely.
Sir B. O lud! ma'am, that's the very reason 'twas believed at once. She has always been so cautious and so reserved, that every body was sure there was some reason for it at bottom.
Mrs. C. Why, to be sure, a tale of scandal is as fatal to the credit of a prudent lady of her slamp, as a fever is generally to those of the strongest constitutions. But there is a sort of puny sickly reputation, that is always ailing, yet will outlive the robuster characters of a hundred prudes.
Sir B. True, madam,—there are valetudinarians in reputation as well as constitution; who, being conscious of their weak part, avoid the least breath of air, and supply their want of stamina by care and circumspection.
Mrs. C. Well, but this may be all a mistake. You know, Sir Benjamin, very trifling circumstances often give rise to the most injurious tales.
Crah. That they do, I'll be sworn, ma'am.-Did you ever hear how Miss Piper came to lose her lover and her character last summer at Tunbridge?-Sir Benjamin, you remember it?
Sir B. Oh, to be sure!-the most whimsical circumstance.
Lady S. How was it, pray?
Crab. Why, one evening, at Mrs. Ponto's assembly, the conversation happened to turn on the breeding Nova Scotia sheep in this country. Says a young lady in company, I have known instances of it--for Miss Letitia Piper, a first cousin of mine, had a Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins.-What! cries the lady dowager Dundizzy (who you know is as deaf as a post), has Miss Piper had twins? This mistake, as you may imagine, threw the whole company into a fit of laughter.
Flowever, 'twas the next day every where reported, and in a few days believed by the whole town, that Miss Lelitia Piper had actually been brought to bed of a fine boy and a girl; and in less than a week there were some people who could name the father, and the farm house where the babies were put to nurse.
Lady S. Strange, indeed!
Crab. Matter of fact, I assure you.- lud, Mr. Surface, pray is it true that your uncle, Sir Oliver, is coming home?
Joseph S. Not that I know of, indeed, sir.
Crab. He has been in the East Indies a long time. You can scarcely remember him, I believe ?-Sad comfort whenever he relurns, to hear how your brother has gone on!
Joseh S. Charles has been imprudent, sir, lo be sure; but I hope no busy people have already prejudiced Sir Oliver against him. He may reform.
Sir B. To be sure he may : for my part, I never believed him to be so utterly void of principle as people say: and though he has lost all his friends, I am told nobody is better spoken of by the Jews.
Crab. That's true, egad, nephew. If the Old Jewry was a ward, I believe Charles would be an alderman : -no man more popular there, 'fore Gad ! I hear he pays as many annuities as the Irish tontine; and that whenever he is sick, they have prayers for the recovery of his health in all the
synagogues. Sir B. Yet no man lives in greater splendour. They tell me, when he entertains his friends he will sit down to dinner with a dozen of his own securities; have a score of tradesmen waiting in the antechamber, and an officer behind every guest's chair.
Joseph S. This may be entertainment to you, gentlemen, but you pay very little regard to the feelings of a brother.
Maria. Their malice is intolerable. Lady Sneerwell, I must wish you a good morning ; I'm not very well.
(Exil Maria Mrs. C. O dear! she changes colour very much.
Lady S. Do, Mrs. Candour, follow her: she may want your assistance.
Mrs. C. That I will, with all my soul, ma'am.Poor dear girl, who knows what her situation may be !
[Exit Mrs. CandoUR. Lady S. 'Twas nothing but that she could not bear to hear Charles reflected on, notwithstanding their difference.
Sir B. The young lady's penchant is obvious.
Crab. But, Benjamin, you must not give up the pursuit for that: follow her, and put her into good humour. Repeat her some of your own verses. Come I'll
Sir B. Mr. Surface, I did not mean to hurt you ; but depend on't your brother is utterly undone.
Crab o lud, aye! undone as ever man was.- Can't raise a guinea !
Sir B. And every thing sold, I'm told , that was moveable
Crab. I have seen one that was at his house.-Not a thing left but some empty bottles that were overlooked, and the family pictures, which I believe are framed in the wainscots
Sir B. And I'm very sorry, also, to hear some bad stories against him.
Crab. Oh! he has done many mean things, that's certain. Sir B. But, however, as he is
your brotherCrab. We'll tell you all another opportunity.
[Exeunt CRABTREE and Sir BenJAMIN. Lady S. Ha! ha! 'tis very hard for them to leave a subject they have not quite run down.
Joseph S. And I believe the abuse was no more acceptable to your ladyship than Maria.
Lady S. I doubt her affections are further engaged than we imagine. But the family are to be here this evening, so you may as well dine where you are, and we shall have an opportunity of observing farlher; in the meantime, I'll go and plot mischief, and you shall study sentiment,
[Exeunt SCENE 11.-Sir Peter's House.
Enter Sir Peter. Sir P. When an old bachelor marries a young wife, what is he to expect ? 'Tis now six months since Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men--ands have been the most miserable dog ever since. We tifted a little going to church, and came to aquarrel before the bells had done ringing. I was more thanonce nearly choked with gall during the honeymoon, and had lost all comfort in life before my friends had done wishing me joy. Yet I chose with caution-a girl bred wholly in the country, who never knew luxury beyond one silk gown, nor dissipation above the annual gala of a race ball. Yet she now plays her part in all the extravagant fopperies of fashion and the town, with as ready a grace as if she had never seen a bush or a grass-plot out of Grosvenor Square! I am sneered at by all my acquaintance, and paragrapheil in the newspapers. She dissipates my fortune, and contradicts all my humours; yet, the worst of it is, I doubt I love her, or I should never bear all this. However, I'll never be weak enough to ownit.
Enter ROWLEY. Rowley. Oh! Sir Peter, your servant: how is it with you, sir?
Sir P. Very bad, master Rowley, very bad. I meet with nothing but crosses and vexations.
Rowley. What can have happened since yesterday?
Rowley. Nay, I'm sure, Sir Peter, your lady cannot be the cause of your uneasiness.
Sir P. Why, has any body told you she was dead?
Rowley. Come, come, Sir Peter, you love her, notwithstanding your tempers don't exactly agree.
Sir P. But the fault is entirely hers, master Rowley. I am, myself, the sweetest tempered man alive, and hate a teazing temper: and so I tell her a hundred times a day.