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Lady T. What, the fat dowager who was at Mrs. Quadrille's, last night?
Mrs. C. Nay, but her bulk is her misfortune; and when she takes such pains to get rid of it, you ought not to reflect on her.
Lady S. That's very true, indeed.
Lady T. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and small whey ; laces herself by pulleys; and often in the hottest noon in summer, you may see her on a little squat poney, with her hair plaited up behind like a drummer's, and puffing round the Ring on a full trot.
Mrs. C. I thank you, Lady Teazle, for defending her.
Sir P. Yes, a good defence, truly!
Mrs. C. But, Sir Benjamin is as censorious as Miss Sallow.
Crab. Yes, and she is a curious being to pretend: to be censorious—an awkward gawky, without any one good point under heaven.
Mrs. C. Positively, you shall not be so very severe. Miss Sallow is a near relation of mine by marriage, and as for her person, great allowance is to be made; for, let me tell you, a woman labours under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl at six and thirty.
Lady S. Though, surely, she's handsome still-and for the weakness in her eyes, considering how much she reads by candlelight, it is not to be wondered at.
Mrs. C. True, and then as to her manner; upon my word, I think it is particularly graceful, considering she never had the least education: for you know her mother was a Welsh milliner, and her father a sugarhaker at Bristol!
Sir B. Ah! you are both of you too good-natured!
Sir P. Yes, damned good-natured! This their own relation! mercy on me!
[Aside. Sir B. And Mrs. Candour is of so moral a turn. Mrs. C. Well, I will never join in ridiculing a
friend; and so I constantly tell my cousin Ogle; and you all know what pretensions she has to be critical on beauty.
Crab. O to be sure! she has herself the oddest countenance that ever was seen; 'lis a collection of features from all the different countries of the globe.
Sir B. So she has, indeed-an Irish front-
Sir B. In short, her face resembles a table d'hóle at Spa-where no two guests are of a nation
Crab. Or a congress at the close of a general warwherein all the members, even to her eyes, appear to have a different interest, and her nose and chin are the only parties likely to join issue.
Mrs. C. Ha! ha! ha!
Sir P. Mercy on my life! a person they dine with twice a week.
[ Aside. Mrs. C. Nay, but I vow you shall not carry the laugh off so-for, give me leave to say, that Mrs. Ogle
Sir P. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon-lhere's no stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, that the Lady they are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope you'll not take her part.
Lady S. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, Sir Peter! but you are a cruel creature,—too phlegmatic yourself for a jest, and too peevish to allow wit in others.
Sir P. Ah! Madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good-nature than your ladyship is aware of.
Lady T. True, Sir Peter; I believe they are so near akin that they can never be united.
Sir B. Or rather, suppose them man and wife, because one so seldom sees them together.
Lady T. But Sir Peter is such an enemy to scandal, I belicve he would have it put down by parliament.
Sir P. 'Fore heaven, madam, if they were to consider the sporting with reputation of as much importance as poaching on manors, and pass an act for the preservation of fame, as well as game, I believe many would thank them for the bill.
Lady S. O Lud! Sir Peter; would you deprive us of our privileges ?
Sir P. Ay, madam; and then no person should be permitted to kill characters and run down reputations, but qualified old maids and disappointed widows.
Lady S. Go, you monster!
Mrs. C. But, surely, you would not be quite so severe on those who only report what they hear?
Sir P. Yes, madami, I would have law merchant for them too; and in all cases of slander currency, whenever the drawer of the lie was not to be found, the injured parties should have a right to come on any of the endorsers.
[SERVANT enters and whispers Sir Peter. Crab. Well, for my part, I believe there never was a scandalous tale without some foundation.
Lady S. Come, ladies, shall we sit down to cards in the next room?
Sir P. [To the Servant.] l'll be with them directly. - I'll get away unperceived. [ Apart.] [Exil Servant. Lady S. Sir Peter, you are not going to leave us?
Sir P. Your ladyship must excuse me; I'm called away by particular business. But I leave
ту. character behind me.
[Exit Sir Peter. Sir B. Well-certainly, Lady Teazle, that Lord of yours is a strange being : I could tell you some stories of him would make you laugh heartily, if he were not your husband.
Ludy T. 0, pray don't mind that ;-why don't you?
come, do let's hear them. [Joins the rest of the company going into the next room. SURFACE and
MARIA advance. Joseph S. Maria, I see you have no satisfaction in this society.
Maria. How is it possible I should?-If to raise ma
licious smiles at the infirmities or misfortunes of those who have never injured us, be the province of wit or humour, Heaven grant me a double portion of dulness!
Joseph S. Yet they appear more ill-natured than they are,—they have no malice at heart.
Maria. Then is their conduct still more contemptible; for, in my opinion, nothing could excuse the intemperance of their tongues, but a natural and uncontrolable bitterness of mind.
Joseph S. But can you, Maria, feel thus for others, and be unkind to me alone?—Is hope to be denied the tenderest passion ?
Maria. Why will you distress me by renewing this subject ?
Joseph S. Ah, Maria ! you would not treat me thus, and oppose your guardian, Sir Peter's will, but that I see that profligate Charles is still a favoured rival.
Maria. Ungenerously urged!—But, whatever my sentiments are for that unfortunate young man, be assured I shall not feel more bound to give him up, because his distresses have lost him thc regard even of a brother.
Joseph S. Nay, but Maria, do not leave me with a frown: by all that's honest, I swear.— Gad's life,'here's Lady Teazle !--[Aside.]-You must not--no, you shall not-for, though I have the greatest regard for Lady TeazleMaria. Lady Teazle! Joseph S. Yet, were Sir Peter to suspect
Enter LADY TEAZLE and comes forward. Lady T. What is this, pray? Does he take her for me?-Child, you are wanted in the next room.[Exit Maria.]-What is all this, pray?
Joseph S. O, the most unlucky circumstance in nature! Maria has somehow suspected the tender concern I have for your happiness, and threatened to acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions, and I was just endeavouring to reason with her when you came in.
Lady T. Indeed! but you seemed to adopt a very
tender method of reasoning—do you usually argue on
Joseph S. 0, she's a child, and I thought a lillle bombast-But, Lady Teazle, when are you to give me your judgment on my library, as you promised ?
Lady T'. No, no; I begin to think it would be imprudent, and you know I admit you as a lover no farther than fashion requires.
Joseph S. Truema mere platonic cicisbeo-what every London wife is entitled to.
Lady T. Certainly, one must not be out of the fashion. However, I have so many of my country prejudices left, that, though Sir Peter's ill-humour may vex me ever so, it never shall provoke me to
Joseph S. The only revenge in your power. Well -I applaud your moderation.
Lady T. Go-you are an insinuating wretch-But we shall be missed—let usjoin the company.
Joseph S. But we had best not return together.
Lady T'. Well-don't stay; for Maria sha’nt come to hear any more of your reasoning, I
[Exit LADY TEAZLE. Joseph S. A curious dilemma, truly, my politics have run me into! I wanted, at first, only to ingratiate myself with Lady Teazle, that she might not be my enemy with Maria; and I have, I don't know how, become her serious lover. Sincerely, I begin to wish I had never made such a point of gaining so very good a character, for it has led me into so many damn'd rogueries, that I doubt I shall be exposed at last. [Exit.
SCENE III.—Sir Peter Teazle's.
Enter SIR OLIVER SURFACE and ROWLEY.
Sir O. Ha! ha! ha! So my old friend is married, hey?-a -a young wife out of the country.
Ha! ha! ha! That he should have stood bluff to old bachelor so long, and sink into a husband at last.
Row. But you must not rally him on the subject,