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Scene I.-Lord Townly's Apartment.
Lord TUWNIY, solus. Why did I marry ?-Was it not evident, my plain, rational, scheme of life was impracticable with a woman of so different a way of thinking?—Is there one article of it that she has not broke in upon ?-Yes—let me do her justice--her reputation—That I have no reason to believe, is in question—But then, how long her profligate course of pleasures may make her able to keep it—is a shocking consideration ! and her presumption, while she keeps it, insupportable ! for, on the pride of that single virtue, she seems to lay it down as a fundamental point, that the free indulgence of every other vice this fertile town affords, is the birthright prerogative of a woman of quality.-Amazing! that a creature, so warm in the pursuit of her pleasures, should never cast one thought towards her happiness—Thus, while she admits of no lover, she thinks it a greater merit still, in her chastity, not to care for her husband; and, while she herself is solacing in one continual. round of cards and good company, he, poor wretch, is left at large, to take care of his own contentment—'Tis time, indeed, some care were taken, and speedily there shall be-Yet, let me not be rash—Perhaps this disappointment of my heart may make me too impatient; ; and some tempers, when reproached, grow more untractable-Here she comes-Let me be calm a while.
Enter Lady Townly. Going out so soon after dinner, madam?
Lady T. Lard, my lord! what can I possibly do at home?
Lord T. What does my sister, Lady Grace, do at home?
Lady T. Why, that is to me amazing! Have you ever any pleasure at home?
Lord T. It might be in your power, madam, I confess, to make it a little more comfortable to me.
Lady T. Comfortable! And so, my good lord, you would really have a woman of my rank and spirit stay at home to comfort her husband !-Lord, what notions of life some men have!
Lord T. Don't you think, madam, some ladies' notions are full as extravagant ?
Lady T. Yes, my lord, when the tame doves live conped within the pen of your precepts, I do think them prodigious indeed !
Lord T. And when they fly wild about this town, madam, pray what must the world think of them then?
Lady T. Oh, this world is not so ill bred, as to quarrel with any woman for liking it.
Lord T. Nor am I, madam, a husband so well bred, as to bear my wife's being so fond of it; in short, the life you lead, madam-
Lady T. Is to me the pleasantest life in the world.
Lord T. I should not dispute your taste, madam, if a woman had a right to please nobody but herself.
Lady T. Why, whom would you have her please?
a same obligation ?
Lord T. Certainly.
Lady T. Why, then we are agreed, my lord-For if I never go abroad, till I am weary of being at home -(which you know is the case)-is it not equally reasonable, not to come home, till one is weary of being abroad?
Lord T. If this be your rule of life, madam, 'tis time to ask you one serious question.
Lady T. Don't let it be long a coming then, for I am in haste.
Lord T. Madam, when I am serious, I expect a serious answer.
Lady T. Before I know the question ?
Lord T. Pshaw!-Have I power, madam, to make you serious by entreaty?
Lady T. You have.
Lord T. Now then, recollect your thoughts, and tell me seriously why you married me.
Lady T. You insist upon truth, you say?
Lady T. Why, then, my lord, to give you at once a proof of my obedience and sincerity-I think I married to take off that restraint, that lay upon my pleasures while I was a single woman.
Lord T. How, madam ! is any woman under less restraint after marriage than before it?
Lady T. Oh, my lord, my lord! they are quite different creatures! Wives have infinite liberties in life, that would be terrible in an unmarried woman to take.
Lord T. Name one.
Lady T. Fifty, if you please-To begin, then-in the morning-A married woman may have men at her toilet-invite them to dinner-appoint them a party in the stage-box, at the play-engross the conversation
there-call them by their christian names_talk louder than the players : from thence, jaunt into the citytake a frolicsome supper at an India House-perhaps, in her gaieté de cæur, toast a pretty fellow; then clatter again to this end of the town-break, with the morning, into an assembly-crowd to the hazard-table throw a familiar levant upon some sharp, lurching, man of quality, and, if he demands his money, turn it off with a loud laugh, and cry, you'll owe it him, to vex him, ha! ha! Lord T. Prodigious !
[ Aside. Lady T. These, now, my lord, are some few of the many modish amusements that distinguish the privilege of a wife from that of a single woman.
Lord T. Death, madam! what law has made these liberties less scandalous in a wife than in an unmarried woman?
Lady T. Why, the strongest law in the world, custom-custom, time out of mind, my
lord. Lord T. Custom, madam, is the law of fools; but it shall never govern me,
Lady T. Nay, then, my lord, 'tis time for me to observe the laws of prudence.
Lord T. I wish I could see an instance of it.
Lady T. You shall have one this moment, my lord ; for I think, when a man begins to lose his temper at home, if a woman has any prudence, why, she'll go abroad till he comes to himself again. . [Going
Lord T. Hold, madam; I am amazed you are not more uneasy at the life we lead. You don't want sense, and yet seem void of all humanity; for, with a .blush I say it, I think I have not wanted love.
Lady 7. Ci, don't say that, my lord, if you suppose I have
my senses. Lord T. What is it I have done to you? What can you complain of?
Lady T. Oh, nothing, in the least ! 'Tis true, you
have heard me say, I have owed my Lord Lurcher an
I hundred pounds, these three weeks ; but what then? a husband is not liable to his wife's debts of honour, you know; and if a silly woman will be uneasy about money she can't be sued for, what's that to him? As long as he loves her, to be sure, she can have nothing to complain of.
Lord T. By heaven, if my whole fortune, thrown into your lap, could make you delight in the cheerful duties of a wife, I should think myself a gainer by the purchase.
Lady T. That is, my lord, I might receive your whole estate, provided you were sure I would not spend a shilling of it.
Lord T. No, madam ; were I master of your heart, your pleasures would be mine; but, different as they are, I'll feed even your follies, to deserve it-Perhaps you may have some other trifling debts of honour abroad, that keep you out of humour at home at least, it shall not be my fault, if I have not more of your company-There, there's a bill of five hundred and now, madam
Lady T. And now, my lord, down to the ground, I
Lord T. If it be no offence, madam
Lady T. Say what you please, my lord; I am in that harmony of spirits, it is impossible to put me out of humour.
Lord T. How long, in reason, then, do you think that sum ought to last you?
Lady T. Oh, my dear, dear lord, now you have spoiled all again! how is it possible I should answer for an event, that so utterly depends upon fortune? But to show
that I am more inclined to get money than to throw it away, I have a strong possession, that, with this five hundred, I shall win five thousand.