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-But suppose we were going to give you another choice, will you promise us to give up this Beverley?

Lyd. Could I belie my thoughts so far as to give that promise, my actions would certainly as far belie my words. Mrs. Mal. Take yourself to your room.-You are fit company for nothing but your own ill-humours.

Lyd. Willingly, ma'am—I cannot change for the worse. [Exit

Mrs. Mal. There's a little intricate hussy for you! Sir Anth. It is not to be wondered at, ma'am,-all this is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read. Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet

Mrs. Mal. Nay, nay, Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy.

Sir Anth. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I observed your niece's maid coming forth from a circulating library !She had a book in each hand-they were half-bound volumes, with marble covers !-From that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see her mistress !

Mrs. Mal. Those are vile places, indeed !

Sir Anth. Madam, a circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year And depend on it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves, will long for the fruit at last.

Mrs. Mal. Fy, fy, Sir Anthony! you surely speak laconically.

Sir Anth. Why, Mrs. Malaprop, in moderation now, what would you have a woman know?

Mrs. Mal. Observe me, Sir Anthony. I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learningneither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments.-But, Sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts;-and as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries; but above all, Sir

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Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not misspell, and mispronounce words, so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know ;-and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.

Sir Anth. Well, well, Mrs. Malaprop, I will dispute the point no further with you; though I must confess that you are a truly moderate and polite arguer, for almost every third word you say is on my side of the question. But, Mrs. Malaprop, to the more important point in debate -you say you have no objection to my proposal?

Mrs. Mal. None, I assure you. I am under no positive engagement with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia is so obstinate against him, perhaps your son may have better success.

Sir Anth. Well, madam, I will write for the boy directly. He knows not a syllable of this yet, though I have for some time had the proposal in my head. He is at present with his regiment.'

Mrs. Mal. We have never seen your son, Sir Anthony; but I hope no objection on his side.

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Sir Anth. Objection -let him object if he dare !-No, no, Mrs. Malaprop, Jack knows that the least demur puts me in a frenzy directly.. My process was always very simple in their younger days, 'twas Jack, do this; " -if he demurred, I knocked him down-and if he grumbled at that, I always sent him out of the room.

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Mrs. Mal. Ay, and the properest way, o' my conscience ! -nothing is so conciliating to young people as severity. -Well, Sir Anthony, I shall give Mr. Acres his discharge, and prepare Lydia to receive your son's invocations ;and I hope you will represent her to the captain as an object not altogether illegible.

Sir Anth. Madam, I will handle the subject prudently. Well, I must leave you; and let me beg you, Mrs. Malaprop, to enforce this matter roundly to the girl.— Take my advice-keep a tight hand: if she rejects this proposal, clap her under lock and key; and if you were just to let the servants forget to bring her dinner for three or four days, you can't conceive how she'd come about. [Exit

Mrs. Mal. Well, at any rate I shall be glad to get her n from under my intuition. She has somehow discovered my partiality for Sir Lucius O'Trigger-sure, Lucy can't

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have betrayed me -No, the girl is such a simpleton, I should have made her confess it.-Lucy !-Lucy![Calls.] Had she been one of your artificial ones, I should never have trusted her.

Re-enter LUCY

Lucy. Did you call, ma'am ?

Mrs. Mal. Yes, girl. Did you see Sir Lucius while you was out?

Lucy. No, indeed, ma'am, not a glimpse of him.

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Mrs. Mal. You are sure, Lucy, that you never mentioned

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Lucy. O gemini! I'd sooner cut my tongue out.
Mrs. Mal. Well, don't let your simplicity be imposed

Luey. No, ma'am.

Mrs. Mal. So, come to me presently, and I'll give you another letter to Sir Lucius; but mind, Lucy-if ever you betray what you are entrusted with (unless it be other people's secrets to me), you forfeit my malevolence for ever; and your being a simpleton shall be no excuse for your locality. [Exit

Lucy. Haha! ha-So, my dear Simplicity, let me give you a little respite.-[Altering her manner.] Let girls in my station be as fond as they please of appearing expert, and knowing in their trusts; commend me to a mask of silliness, and a pair of sharp eyes for my own interest under it !-Let me see to what account have I turned my simplicity lately.-[Looks at a paper.] For abetting Miss Lydia Languish in a design of running away with an ensign : -in money, sundry times, twelve pound twelve; gowns, five; hats, ruffles, caps, etc., etc., numberless ;-From the said ensign, within this last month, six guineas and a half.— About a quarter's pay -Item, from Mrs. Malaprop, for betraying the young people to her when I found matters were likely to be discovered-two guineas, and a black paduasoy.—Item, from Mr. Acres, for carrying divers letters-which I never delivered-two guineas, and a pair of buckles.-Item, from Sir Lucius O'Trigger, three crowns, two gold pocket-pieces, and a silver snuff-box;-Well, done Simplicity !-Yet I was forced to make my Hibernian believe that he was corresponding, not with the aunt but with the niece: for though not over rich, I found

he had too much pride and delicacy to sacrifice the feelings of a gentleman to the necessities of his fortune.

[Exit

ACT TWO

SCENE I. CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE'S Lodgings

CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE and FAG

Fag. Sir, while I was there Sir Anthony came in: I told him you had sent me to inquire after his health, and to know if he was at leisure to see you.

Abs. And what did he say on hearing I was at Bath; Fag. Sir, in my life I never saw an elderly gentleman more astonished! He started back two or three paces, rapped out a dozen interjectural oaths, and asked what the devil had brought you here.

Abs. Well, sir, and what did you say?

Fag. Oh, I lied, sir-I forget the precise lie; but you may depend on 't, he got no truth from me. Yet, with submission, for fear of blunders in future, I should be glad to fix what has brought us to Bath; in order that we may lie a little consistently. Sir Anthony's servants were curious, sir, very curious indeed.

Abs. You have said nothing to them?

Fag. Oh, not a word, sir,—not a word! Mr. Thomas, indeed, the coachman (whom I take to be the discreetest of whips)

Abs. 'Sdeath -you rascal ! you have not trusted him!

Fag. Oh, no, sir-no-no-not a syllable, upon my veracity!-He was, indeed, a little inquisitive; but I was sly, sir-devilish sly! My master (said I), honest Thomas (you know, sir, one says honest to one's inferiors), is come to Bath to recruit-Yes, sir, I said to recruit-and whether for men, money, or constitution, you know, sir, is nothing to him, nor any one else.

Abs. Well, recruit will do-let it be so.

Fag. Oh, sir, recruit will do surprisingly-indeed, to give the thing an air, I told Thomas that your honour had already enlisted five disbanded chairmen, seven minority waiters, and thirteen billiard-markers.

Abs. You blockhead, never say more than is necessary. Fag. I beg pardon, sir-I beg pardon-but, with submission, a lie is nothing unless one supports it.

Sir, whenever I draw on my invention for a good current lie, I always forge indorsements as well as the bill.

Abs. Well, take care you don't hurt your credit by offering too much security.-Is Mr. Faulkland returned? Fag. He is above, sir, changing his dress.

Abs. Can you tell whether he has been informed of Sir Anthony and Miss Melville's arrival?

Fag. I fancy not, sir; he has seen no one since he came in but his gentleman, who was with him at Bristol.-I think, sir, I hear Mr. Faulkland coming down

Abs. Go, tell him I am here.

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Fag. Yes, sir.-[Going.] I beg pardon, sir, but should Sir Anthony call, you will do me the favour to remember that we are recruiting, if you please.

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Fag. And, in tenderness to my character, if your honour could bring in the chairmen and waiters, I should esteem it as an obligation; for though I never scruple a lie to serve my master, yet it hurts one's conscience to be found out. Abs. Now for my whimsical friend-if he does not know that his mistress is here, I'll tease him a little before I tell him.—

Enter FAULKLAND

[Exit

Faulkland, you're welcome to Bath again; you are punctual in your return.

Faulk. Yes; I had nothing to detain me, when I had finished the business I went on. Well, what news since I left you ? how stand matters between you and Lydia ?

Abs. Faith, much as they were; I have not seen her since our quarrel; however, I expect to be recalled every hour.

Faulk. Why don't you persuade her to go off with you at once?

Abs. What, and lose two-thirds of her fortune? you forget that, my friend.-No, no, I could have brought her to that long ago.

Faulk. Nay, then, you trifle too long if you are sure of her, propose to the aunt in your own character, and write to Sir Anthony for his consent.

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