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THE

BRITISH DRAMA.

THE

BUSY BODY.

BY

MRS CENTLIVRE.

DRAMATIS PERSONE.

MEN.

WOMEN. Sir George Arry, a gentleman of four thou- | Miranda, an heiress, worth thirty thousand sand a-year, in love with MIRANDA.

pounds, really in love with Sir GEORGE, but SIR FRANCIS GRIPE, guardian to MIRANDA and pretends to be so with her guardian, Sir

MARPLOT, father to Charles, in love with FRANCIS.
MIRANDA.

ISABINDA, daughter to Sir JEALOUS, in love CHARLES, friend to Sir George, in love with with CHARLES, but designed for a Spanish ISABINDA.

merchant by her father. Sir JEALOUS TRAFFICK, a merchant that had Patch, her woman.

lived some time in Spain, father to ISABINDA, SCENTWELL, woman to MIRANDA. Marplot, a sort of silly fellow, cowardly, but

very inquisitive to know every body's business. WHISPER, servant to Charles.

Scene-London.

ACT I

.. SCENE 1.- The Park.

Sir Geo. Why, there it is now! a man, that

wants money, thinks none can be unhappy that Sir George AIRY meeting CHARLES.

has it; but, my affairs are in such a whimsical Cha. Ha! Sir George Airy a birding thus posture, that it will require a calculation of my early! what forbidden game roused you so soon? nativity to find if my gold will relieve me or noč. for no lawful occasion could invite à person of Cha. Ha, ha, ha! never consult the stars about your figure abroad, at such untashionable hours. that; gold has a power beyond them; gold un

Sir Geo. There are some men, Charles, whom locks the midnight councils ; gold outdoes the fortune bas left free from inquietudes, who are wind, becalms the ship, or fills her sails; gold is diligently studious to find out ways and means to omnipotent below; it makes whole armies hight make themselves uneasy.

or fly; it buys even souls; and bribes wretches to Cha. Is it possible that any thing in nature can betray their country : then, what can thy busiruffle the temper of a man whom the four seasons ness be that gold won't serve thee in? of the year compliment with as many thousand Sir Geo. Why, I'm in love. pounds, nay, and a father at rest with his ancestors? Cha. In love!

-Ha, ha, ha, ha! in love! get her?

Ha, ha, ha, ha! with what, prithee? a cheru- avoid that, I shun his house as much as possible. bin?

The report is, he intends to marry her himself. Sir Geo. No; with a woman.

Sir Geo. Can she consent to it? Cha. A woman! good. Ha, ha, ha, ha! and Cha. Yes, faith! so they say : but, I tell you, gold not help thee?

I am wholly ignorant of the matter. Miranda Sir Geo. But, suppose I'm in love with two and I are like two violent members of a contrary Cha. Ay, if thou'rt in love with two hundred, party; I can scarce allow her beauty, though all

will fetch them, I warrant thee, boy. But the world does ; nor she me civility for that who are they? who are they? come!

contenipt. I fancy she plays the mother-in-law Sir Geo One is a lady, whose face I never already; and sets the old gentleman on to do saw; but witty to a miracle; the other, beauti- mischief. ful as Venus

Sir Geo. Then, I have your free consent to Cha. And a fool

Sir Geo. For aught I know ; for I never spoke Cha. Ay; and my helping hand, if occasion to her; but you can inform me. I am charmed be. by the wit of the one, and die for the beauty of Sir Geo. Poh! yonder's a fool coming this the other.

way; let's avoid him. Cha. And, pray, which are you in quest of now? Cha. What? Marplot ? No, no; he's my in

Sir Geo. I prefer the sensual pleasure ; I'm for strument; there's a thousand conveniences in her I've seen, who is thy father's ward, Miranda. him : he'll lend me his money, when he has any;

Cha. Nay, then, I pity you; for the Jew, my run of my errands, and be proud of it; in short, father, will no more part with her and thirty he'll pimp for ine, lie for me, drink for me, do thousand pounds, than he would with a guinea to any thing but fight for me; and that I trust to keep me froin starving.

my own arm for, Sir Geo. Now, you see gold can't do every Sir Geo. Nay, then, he's to be endured; I thing, Charles.

never knew his qualifications before. Cha. Yes; for 'tis her gold that bars my father's gate against you.

Enter Marplot, with a patch cross his face. Sir Geo. Why, if he be this avaricious wretch, Mar, Dear Charles, your's-Ha! Sir George how cam'st thou by such a liberal education ? Airy! the man in the world I have an ambition

Cha. Not a snuse out of his pocket, I assure to be known to! [Aside.] Give me thy hand, dear you : I had an uncle who defrayed that charge ; | boy! but, for some little wildness of youth, though he Cha. A good assurance ! But hark ye, how made me his heir, left dad my guardian till I came your beautiful countenance clouded in the came to years of discretion, which, I presume, wrong place? the old gentleman will never think I am; and Mar. I must confess 'tis a little mal-a-propos ; now he has got the estate into his clutches, it but no matter for that. A word with you, does me no more good than if it lay in Prester Charles. Prithee, introduce me to sir George John's dominions.

he is a man of wit, and I'd give ten guineas Sir Geo. What! canst thou find no stratagem to to redeem it?

Cha. When you have them, you mean? Cha. I have made many essays to no purpose.

Mar. Av, when I have them; pugh, pox, you Though want, the mistress of invention, still cut the thread of my discourse—I would give tempts me on, yet still the old fox is too cunning ten guineas, I say, to be ranked in his acquaintfor me.--I am upon my last project, which, if ance. Well, 'tis a vast addition to a man's forit fails, then, for my last refuge, a brown mus- tune, according to the mout of the world, to be quet,

seen in the company of leading men; for, then, Sir Geo. What is't? can I assist thee? we are all thought to be politicians, or whigs, or

Cha. Not yet; when you can, I have confi- jacks, or highflyers, or low flyers, or levellers-and dence enough in you to ask it,

so forth; for, you must know, we all herd in par. Sir Geo. I am always ready. But what does ties now. he intend to do with Miranda ? is she to be sold Cha. Then, a fool for diversion is out of fain private, or will he put her up by way of auc-shion, I find? tion, at who bids most ? if so, egad I'm for him; Mar. Yes, without it be a mimicking fool; my gold, as you say, shall be subservient to my and they are darlings every where. But, prithee, pleasure.

introduce me, Cha. To deal ingenuously with you, sir George, Cha. Well, on condition you'll give us a true I know very little of her or home; for, since my account how you came by that mourning nose, I uncle's death, and my return from travel, I have will. never been well with my father : he thinks my Nar. I'll do it. expences too great, and i, bis allowance too lit- Cha. Sir George, here's a gentleman has a pas. ile; he never sees me, but he quarrels; and, to sionate desire to kiss your hand.

1

Sir Geo. Oh, I honour men of the sword ! | would be no enduring his impertinence. He is And, I presume, this gentleman is lately come pressing to be employed, and willing to execute; from Spain or Portugal -by his scars.

but some ill fate generally attends all he underMar. No, really, sir George, mine sprung from takes, and he oftener spoils an intrigue than belps civil fury Happening last night into the groom it. porter's I had a strong inclination to go ten gui- Mar. I have always your good word; but if I neas with a sort of a, sort of a-kind of a milk- miscarry, 'tis none of my fault; I follow my insop, as I thought. A pox of the dice! he flung structions. out, and my pockets being empty, as Charles Cha. Yes, witness the merchant's wife. knows they often are, he proved a surly North Mar. Pish, pox! that was an accident. Briton, and broke my face for my deficiency. Sir. Geo. What was't, prithee?

Sir Geo. Ha, ha, ha! and did not you draw? Mar. Nay, Charles, now, don't expose your

Mar. Draw, sir! Why, I did but lay my hand friead. upon my sword, to make a swift retreat, and he Cha. Why, you must know, I had lent a cerroared out—Now the deel a ma saul, sir, gin ye tain merchant my hunting horses, and was to touch yer steel Ise whip mine through yer wem. have met his wife in his absence. Sevding him Sir Geo. Ha, ha, ha!

along with my groom to make the compliment, Cha. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Safe was the word. So, and to deliver a letter to the lady at the same you walked off, I suppose.

time; what does he do, but gives the husband the Mar. Yes, for I avoid fighting, purely to be letter, and offers her the horses ! serviceable to my friends, you know

Mar. Why, to be sure, I did offer her the Sir Geo. Your friends are much obliged to horses, and I remember you was even with me, you, sir : I hope you'll rank me in that number. for you denied the letter to be yours, and swore

Mar. Sir George, a bow from the side-box, or I had a design upon her, which my bones paid to be seen in your chariot, binds me ever yours.

for. Sir Geo. Trifles; you may command them, Cha. Come, sir George, let's walk round, if when you please,

you are not engaged, for I have sent my man upCha. Provided he may command you.

on a little earnest business, and I have ordered Mar. Me! Why, I live for no other purpose him to bring me the answer into the Park.

-Sir George, I have the honour to be cares- Mar. Business ! and I not know it! Egad I'll sed by most of the reigning toasts of the town: watch him. I'll tell them you are the finest gentleman Sir Geo. I must beg your pardon, Charles; I

Sir Geo. No, no; prithee, let me alone to tell am to meet your father. the ladies-my parts—Can you convey a letter Chu. My father! upon occasion, or deliver a message with an air Sir Geo. Aye, and about the oddest bargain, of business, ba?

perhaps, you ever heard of; but I'll not impart Mar. With the assurance of a page, and the till I know the success. gravity of a statesman.

Mar. What can his business be with Sir PranSir Geo. You know Miranda ?

cis ? Now would I give all the world to know it! Mar. What ! My sister ward? Why, her guar-Why the devil should not one know every man's dian is mine; we are fellow-sufferers. Ah, he is concerns ?

Aside. a covetous, cheating, sanctified, curmudgeon : Cha. Prosperity to it, whatever it be: I have that sir Francis Gripe is a damned old-hypo- private affairs, too: over a bottle, we'll compare critical

Cha. Hold, hold; I suppose, friend, you for- Mar. Charles knows I love a glass as well as get that he is iny father?'

any man; I'll make one; shall it be to-night? Mar. Egad, and so I did, Charles I ask your And I long to know their secrets. [Aside. pardon, Charles, but it is for your sake I hate him. Well, I say the world is inistaken in him;

Enter WHISPER. his out-side piety makes him every man's execu- Whis. Sir, sir, Mrs Patch says Isabinda's Spator, and his inside cunning inakes him every heir's nish father has quite spoiled the plot, and she gaoler. Egad, Charles, I'm half persuaded that cannot meet you in the Park, but he infallibly thou’rt some ward, too, and never of his getting will go out this afternoon, she says : but I must - for never were two things so unlike as you and step again to know the hour. your father; he scrapes up every thing, and thou Mar. What did Whisper say now? I shall go spendest every thing; every body is indebted to stark mad, if I'm not let into the secret. him, and thou art indebted to every body.

[Aside. Cha. You are very free, Mr Marplot.

Cha. Curst misfortune! Mar. Aye, I give and take, Charles you may Mar. Curst! What's curst, Charles ? be as free with me, you know.

Cha. Come along with me; my heart feels pleaSir Geo. A pleasant fellow.

sure at her name. Sir George, your's; we'll Cha. The dog is diverting, sometimes, or there meet at the old place the usual hour.

notes,

assure you.

Sir Geo. Agreed. I think I see sir Francis Mir. It is necessary such a report should be, yonder.

[Erit Sir GEORGE. Patch. Cha. Marplot, you must excuse me, I am en- Patch. But is it true, madam? gaged.

[Erit CHARLES

Mir. That's not absolutely necessary; Mar. Engaged! Egad, I'll engage my life I'll Patch. I thought it was only the old strain, know what your engagement is.

coaxing him still for your own, and railing at all [Exit Marplot. the young fellows about town: in my mind, now,

you are as ill plagued with your guardian, maEnter MIRANDA, coming out of a chuir.

dam, as my lady is with her father. Mir. Let the chair wait. My sertant that Mir. No, I have liberty, wench; that she dogged sir George said he was in the Park. wants: what would she give now to be in this

deshabille in the open air, nay more, in pursuit of Enter Patch.

the young fellow she likes? for that's my case, I Ha! Miss Patch alone! Did not you tell me you had contrived a way to bring Isabinda to the Patch. As for that, madam, she's even with Park?

you; for, though she can't come abroad, we have Patch. Oh, madam, your ladyship cannot in a way to bring him home in spite of old Argus. agine what a wretched disappointment we have Mir. Now, Patch, your opinion of my choice, met with! Just as I had fetched a suit of my for here he comes. Ha! my guardian with clothes for a disguise, comes my old master into him! what can be the meaning of this? I'm sure his closet, which is right against her chamber sir Francis can't know me in this dress. Let me door: this struck us into a terrible fright-At observe them.

[They withdraw. length I put on a grave face, and asked him if

Enter Sir Francis Gripe and SIR GEORGE he was at leisure for his chocolate? in hopes to draw him out of his hele; but he snapped my

AIRY. nose off: no, I shall be busy here, these two Sir Fran. Verily, sir George, thou wilt repent hours. At which my poor mistress, seeing no throwing away thy money so; for I tell thee sinway of escape, ordered me to wait on your lady- cerely, Miranda, my charge, does not like a ship with the sad relation.

young fellow; they are all vicious, and seldom Mir. Unhappy Isabinda! Was ever any thing make good husbands : in sober sadness, she can't so unaccountable as the huinour of Sir Jealous abide them. Traffick?

Mir. [Peeping.] In sober sadness, you are Patch. Oh, madam, it's his living so long in mistaken—What can this mean? Spain. He vows he'll spend half his estate, but Sir Geo. Look'e, sir Francis; whether she can he'll be a parliament-man, on purpose to bring in or cannot abide young fellows, is not the busia bill for women to wear veils, and other odious ness : will you take the fifty guineas ? Spanish customs-he swears it is the height of Sir Fran. In good truth I will not-for I impudence to have a woman seen barefaced, knew thy father; he was a hearty wary man; even at church, and scarce believes there's a true and I cannot consent that his son should squanbegotten child in the city.

der away what he saved to no purpose. Mir. Ha, ha, ha! how the old fool torments Mir. [Peeping.] Now, in the name of wonhimself ! Suppose he could introduce his rigid der, what bargain can he be driving about me for rules-does he think we could not match them in fifty guineas ? contrivance? No, no; let the tyrant man make Patch. I wish it be not for the first night's what laws he will, if there's a woman under the lodging, madam. government, I warrant she finds a way to break Sir Geo. Well, sir Francis, since you are so them. Is his mind set upon the Spaniard for his conscientious for my father's sake, then permit son-in-law still?

me the favour gratis. Patch. Aye, and he expects liim by the next Mir. (Peeping.) The favour! O’ my life I fleet, which drives his daughter to inelancholy believe 'tis as you said, Patch! and despair. But, madam, I find you retain the Sir Fran. No verily; if thou dost not buy thy same gay cheerful spirit you had when I waited experience thou wilt never be wise; therefore, on your ladyship. My lady is mighty good-hu- give me a hundred, and try thy fortune. moured, too; and I have found a way to make Sir Geo. The scruples arose, I find, from the sir Jealous believe I am wholly in lois interest, scanty sum.-Let me see-a hundred guineaswhen my real design is to serve her ; he makes [Takes them out of a purse, and chinks them.] me her gaoler, and I set her at liberty.

ila ! they have a very pretty sound, and a very Mir. I knew thy prolific brain would be of pleasing look-But then, Miranda- -but if she singular service to her, or I had not parted with should be cruelthee to her father,

Mir. [Peeping. As ten to one I shallPatch. But, madam, the report is that you are

Sir Fran. Ay, do; consider on't. He, he, he ! going to marry your guardian!

Sir Geo. No, I'll do't.

room.

Patch. Do't! what, whether you will or no, I have you committed against the god of love, that madam ?

he should revenge them so severely, to stamp Sir Geo. Come, to the point; here's the gold; husband on your forehead? sum up the conditions

Sir Geo. For my folly, in having so often met [STR Fran. pulling out a paper.!

you here, without pursuing the laws of nature, Mir. (Peeping.] Ay, for Heaven's sake do, for and exercising her command- -But I resolve, my expectation is on the rack!

ere we part now, to know who you are, where Sir Fran. Well, at your peril be it.

you live, what kind of flesh and blood your face Sir Geo. Ay, ay; go on.

is; therefore, unmask, and don't put me to the Sir Fran. Imprimis

, you are to be admitted trouble of doing it for you. into my house in order to move your suit to Mir- Mir. My face is the same flesh and blood with anda, for the space of ten minutes, without let my hand, sir George, which, if you'll be so rude or molestation, provided I remain in the same to provoke

Sir Geo. You'll apply it to my cheek-the laSir Geo. But out of earshot.

dies' favours are always welcome, but I must Sir Fran. Well, well, I don't desire to hear have that cloud withdrawn.-[Taking hold of what you say; ha, ha, ha! in consideration I her.]—Remember you are in the Park, child; am to have that purse and a hundred guineas. and what a terrible thing would it be to lose this

Sir Geo. Take it- [Gives him the purse. pretty white hand!

Mir. [Peeping.) So ! 'tis well it's no worse: I'll Mir. And how will it sound in a chocolatefit you both

house, that sir George Airy rudely pulled off a Sir Geo. And this agreement is to be perform- lady's mask, when he had given her his honour ed to-day.

that he never would, directly or indirectly, enSir Fran. Ay, ay ; the sooner the better. deavour to know her till she gave him leave? Poor fool ! how Miranda and I shall laugh at Patch. I wish we were safe out. him !-Well, sir George, ha, ha, ha! take the Sir Geo. But, if that lady thinks fit to pursue, last sound of your guineas, ha, ha, ha! (Chinks and meet me at every turn, like some troubled them.)

[Exit. spirit, shall I be blamed if I inquire into the realiMir. (Peeping.) Sure he does not know I am ty? I would have nothing dissatisfied in a female Miranda.

shape. Sir Geo. A very extraordinary bargain I have Mir. What shall I do?

[Pauses. made truly, if she should be really in love Sir Geo. Aye, prithee, consider; for thou shalt with this old cuff now!-Psha! that's moral- find me very much at thy service. ly impossible. But then, what hopes have I Patch. Suppose, sir, the lady should be in love to succeed? I never spoke to her

with you? Mir. [Peeping.] Say you so ? then I am safe. Sir Geo. Oh! I'll return the obligation in a

Sir Geo. What though my tongue never spoke? moment. my eyes said a thousand things, and my hopes Patch. And marry her? flattered me her's answered them. If I'm lucky Sir Geo. Ha, ha, ha! that's not. the

-If not, it is but a hundred guineas thrown love her, child. away. (MIRANDA and Patch come forward. Mir. If he discovers me I shall die-Which Mir. Upon what, sir George?

way shall I escape? Let me see- [Pauses. Sir Geo. Ha! my incognita-upon a woman, Sir Geo. Well, madammadam.

Mir. I have it-Sir George, 'tis fit you should Mir. They are the worst things you can deal allow something; if you'll excuse my face, and in, and damage the soonest; your very breath turn your back, (if you look upon me I shall sink, destroys them, and, I fear, you'll never see your even masked as I am) I will confess why I have return, sir George, ha, ha, ha!

engaged you so often, who I am, and where I Sir Geo. Were they more brittle than china, live. and dropped to pieces with a touch, every atom Sir Geo. Well, to shew you I'm a man of hoof her I have ventured at, if she is but mistress nour, I accept the conditions : let me but ovce of thy wit, balances ten times the sum. Prithee, know those, and the face won't be long a secret let me see thy face!

Mir. By no means; that may spoil your opi- Patch. What mean you, madam? nion of my sense

Mir. To get off. Sir Geo. Rather confirm it, madam.

Sir Geo. 'Tis something indecent to turn one's Patch. So, rob the lady of your gallantry, sir. back upon a lady; but you command, and I obcy.

Sir Geo. No, child; a dish of chocolate in the [Turns his back] Come, madam, beginmorning never spoils my dinner: the other lady Mir. First, then, it was my unhappy lot to see I design a set weat; so there's no danger. you at Paris [Draws back a litile way, and

Mir. Matrimony! Ha, ha, ha! What crimes speaks.], at a ball upon a birthday; your shape

way to

to me.

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