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Mrs. Bell. Does it!-I think it does.-- Apropos, Where's my new song ?-Here it lies—I must make myself mistress of it.--Mignionet, do you know that this is a very pretty song—'tis written by my Lord Etheridge ;-) positively must learn it before he comes. [Sings á lite.) Do you know, Migaionet, that I think my lord not wholly intolerable.
Mig. Yes, ma'am, I know that.
Mig. And if I have any skill, ma’am, I fancy you think him more than tolerable.
Mrs. Bell. Really! then you think I like him, I suppose? Do ye think I like him?-I don't well know how that is,—and yet I don't know but I do like him; -no-no,-I don't like him neither, not absolutely like-but I could like, if I had a mind to humour myself.—The man has a softness of manner, an elegant turn of thinking, and has a heart-has he a heart ?yes, I think he has ;-and then he is such an observer of the manners, and shows the ridiculous of them with so much humour.
Mig. Without doubt, ma'am, my lord is a pretty man enough ; but lack-a-day, what o’that? -You know but very little of him,-your acquaintance is but very short-[Mrs. BellMOUR hums a tune.] Do, pray, my dear madam, mind what I say,--for I am at times, I assure you, very speculative,-very speculative indeed; and I see very plainly-tom-Lord, ma'am, what am I doing?-I am talking to you for your own good, and you are all in the air, and no more mind me, no, no more, than if I was nothing at all.
Mrs. Bell. [Hums à tune still.] Why, indeed, you talk wonderfully well upon the subject.--Do you think I shall play the fool, Mignionet, and marry my lord ?
Mig. You have it, ma'am, through the very heart of you—I see that..
Mrs. Bell. Do you think so? May be I may marry,
and may be not. Poor Sir Brilliant Fashion, What will become of him?-But I won't think about it.
Enter Pompey. What's the matter, Pompey?
Pom. There's a lady helow in a chair, that desires to know if you are at home, madam ?
Mrs. Bell. Has the lady no name?
Mrs. Bell. How awkward you are !-Well, show her up.
[Erit POMPEY. Mig. Had not you better receive the lady in the drawing-room, ma'am ?- Things here are in such a confusion
Mrs. Bell. No, it will do very well here. I dare say it is somebody I am intimate with, though the boy does not recollect her name.—Here she comes. Enter Mrs. LOVEMORE.—They both look with a grave
surprise at each other, then courtesy with an air of distant civility. Mrs. Bell. Ma'am, your most obedient.
[With a kind of reserve. Mrs. Love. Ma'am, I beg your pardon for this intrusion.
[Disconcerted. Mrs. Bell. Pray, ma'am, walk in- Won't you please to be seated ?-Mignionet, reach a chair.
[Mrs. LOVEMORE crosses the stage, und they salute
each other. Mrs. Love. I am afraid this visit, from one unknown to you, will be inconvenient and troublesome.
Mrs. Bell. Not at all, I dare say ;-you need not be at the trouble of an apology.--Mignionet, you may withdraw.
[Erit MiGNIONET. Mrs. Love. Though I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance, ma'am, there is a particular circumstance which has determined me to take this liberty with you; for which I intreat your pardon..
Mrs. Bell. The request is wholly unnecessary ;-but a particular circumstance, you say “ Pray, ma'am, to what circumstance am I indebted for this honour?
Mrs. Love. I shall appear perhaps very ridiculous, and indeed I am afraid I have done the most absurd thing But, ma'am, from the character you bear for tenderness of disposition and generosity of sentiment, 'I easily incline to flatter myself, you will not take offence at any thing; and that if it is in your power, you will afford me your assistance.
Mrs. Bell. You may depend upon me.
Mrs. Love. I will be very ingenuous :- Pray, ma'am, an't you acquainted with a gentleman whose name is Lovemore?
Mrs. Bell. Lovemore!--No;-no such person in my list.--Lovemore - I don't know him, ma’am.
Mrs. Love. Ma'am, I beg your pardon—I won't trouble you any further.
[Going. Mrs. Bell. 'Tis mighty odd, this-[Aside.] Madam, I must own my curiosity is a good deal excited ;[Takes her by the hand.] Pray, ma'am, give me leave I beg you will sit down,-pray don't think me impertinent-may I beg to know who the gentleman is?
Mrs. Love. You have such an air of frankness and generosity, that I will open myself to you. I have been married to him these two years; I admired my husband for his understanding, his sentiment, and his spirit; I thought myself as sincerely loved by him as my fond heart could wish ; but there is of late such a strange revolution in his temper, I know not what to make of it:- instead of the looks of affection, and expressions of tenderness, with which he used to meet me, ?tis nothing now but cold, averted, superficial civility. -While abroad, he runs on in a wild career of pleasure; and, to my deep affliction, has fix'd his affections upon another object.
Mrs. Bell. If you mean to consult with me in regard
to this case, I am afraid you have made a wrong choice; —there is something in her appearance that affects me -[Aside.] Pray excuse me, ma'am, you consider this matter too deeply- Men will prove false, and if there is nothing in your complaint but mere gallantry on his side,-upon my word, I can't think your case the worse for that.
Mrs. Love. Not the worse !
Mrs. Bell. On the contrary, much better. If his affections, instead of being alienated, had been extinguished, he would have sunk into a downright stupid, habitual insensibility; from which it might prove impossible to recal him.-In all love's bill of mortality, there is not a more fatal disorder ;--but your husband is not fallen into that way. By your account, he still has sentiment, and where there is sentiment, there is still room to hope for an alteration. But in the other case, you have the pain of seeing yourself neglected, and for what?- for nothing at all ;-the man has lost all sense of feeling, and is become, to the warm beams of wit and beauty, as impenetrable as an ice-house.
Mrs. Love. I am afraid, ma'am, he is too much the reverse of this, too susceptible of impressions from every beautiful object.
Mrs. Bell. Why, so much the better, as I told you already ;-some new idea has struck his fancy, and he will be for a while under the influence of that.
Mrs. Love. How light she makes of it! [Aside. * Mrs. Bell. But it is the wife's business to bait the hook for her husband with variety; and to draw him daily to herself:--that is the whole affair, I would not. make myself uneasy, ma'am.
Mrs. Lode. Not uneasy! when his indifference does not diminish my regard for him !-Not uneasy! when the man I doat on no longer fixes his happiness at home!
Mrs. Bell. Ma'am, you'll give me leave to speak my mind freely:- I have often observed, when the fieod jealousy is rous'd, that women lay out a wonderful deal of anxiety and vexation to no account; when, perhaps; if the truth were known, they should be angry with themselves instead of their husbands.
Mrs. Love. Angry with myself, madam !-calumny can lay nothing to my charge,--the virtue of my conduct, madam
; . ; [Rises. Mrs. Bell. Oh, I would have laid my life, you would be at that work—that's the folly of us all. But virtue is out of the question at present. It is la Belle Nature, --Nature embellished by the advantages of art, that the men expect now-a-days;--and really, ma'am, without compliment, you seem to have all the qualities that can dispute your husband's heart with any body; but the exertion of those qualities, I am afraid, is suppressed. You'll excuse my freedom, I have been married, ma'am, and am a little in the secret.--It is much more difficult to keep a heart than win one-After the fatal words, “ For better for worse," the general way with wives is, to relax into indolence, and while they are guilty of no, infidelity, they think that is enough :—but they are mistaken ; there is a great deal wanting-an address, a manner, a desire of pleasing
Mrs. Love. But when the natural temper
Mrs. Bell. The natural temper must be forced Home must be made a place of pleasure to the husband, and the wife must throw infinite variety into her manner. And this, I take to be the whole mystery, the way to keep a man.-But I run on at a strange rate-Well, to be sure, I'm the giddiest creature.-Ma'am, will you now give me leave to inquire, how I came to have this favour?-_Who recommended me to your notice ?-And pray, who was so kind as to intimate that I was acquainted with Mr. Lovemore?