Scene — A Dressing-room. A table covered with a toilet; clothes laid ready.
Enter Dorimant in his gown and slippers, with a note in his hand made up, repeating verses.
Dorimant: "Now for some ages had the pride of Spain
Made the sun shine on half the world in vain." (1)
Then looking on the note.
"For Mrs. Loveit." What a dull insipid thing is a billet-doux written in cold blood, after the heat of the business is over! It is a tax upon good-nature which I have here been labouring to pay, and have done it, but with as much regret as ever fanatic paid the Royal Aid or Church Duties. 'Twill have the same fate, I know, that all my notes to her have had of late, 'twill not be thought kind enough. Faith, women are i' the right when they jealously examine our letters, for in them we always first discover our decay of passion.—Hey! Who waits?
Dorimant: Call a footman.
Handy: None of'em are come yet.
Dorimant: Dogs! Will they ever lie snoring a-bed till noon?
Handy: 'Tis all one, sir: if they're up, you indulge 'em so they're ever poaching after whores all the morning.
Dorimant: Take notice henceforward, who's wanting in his duty, the next clap he gets, he shall rot for an example. What vermin are those chattering without?
Handy: Foggy Nan the orange-woman and swearing Tom the shoemaker.
Dorimant: Go, call in that overgrown jade with the flasket of guts before her. Fruit is refreshing in a morning.
"It is not that I love you less
Than when before your feet I lay—" (2)
Enter Orange-Woman and Handy
How now, Double Tripe, what news do you bring?
Orange-Woman: News! Here's the best fruit has come to town t'year. Gad, I was up before four o'clock this morning, and bought all the choice i' the market.
Dorimant: The nasty refuse of your shop.
Orange-Woman: You need not make mouths at it. I assure you 'tis all culled ware.
Dorimant: The citizens buy better on a holiday in their walk to Totnam.
Orange-Woman: Good or bad, tis all one; I never knew you commend anything. Lord, would the ladies had heard you talk of 'em as I have done.
Sets down the fruit
Here, bid your man give me an angel.
Dorimant:[to Handy] Give the bawd her fruit again.
Orange-Woman: Well, on my conscience, there never was the like of you.—God's my life, I had almost forgot to tell you there is a young gentlewoman lately come to town with her mother, that is so taken with you.
Dorimant: Is she handsome?
Orange-Woman: Nay, gad, there are few finer women, I tell you but so, and a hugeous fortune, they say. Here, eat this peach, it comes from the stone; 'tis better than any Newington y' have tasted.
Dorimant:[Taking the peach] This fine woman, I'll lay my life, is some awkward, ill-fashioned, country toad, who, not having above four dozen of black hairs on her head, has adorned her baldness with a large white fruz, that she may look sparkishly in the forefront of the King's box at an old play.
Orange-Woman: Gad, you'd change your note quickly if you did but see her.
Dorimant: How came she to know me?
Orange-Woman: She saw you yesterday at the Change; she told me you came and fooled with the woman at the next shop.
Dorimant: I remember there was a mask observed me indeed. Fooled, did she say?
Orange-Woman: Ay, I vow she told me twenty things you said too; and acted with her head and with her body so you—
Medley: Dorimant, my life, my joy, my darling sin, how dost thou?
Orange-Woman: Lord, what a filthy trick these men have got of kissing one another!
Medley: Why do you suffer this cartload of scandal to come near you and make your neighbours think you so improvident to need a bawd?
Orange-Woman[to Dorimant] Good, now we shall have it! you did but want him to help you. Come, pay me for my fruit.
Medley: Make us thankful for it, huswife, bawds are as much out of fashion as gentlemen-ushers: none but old formal ladies use the one, and none but foppish old strangers employ the other. Go, you are an insignificant brandy bottle.
Dorimant: Nay, there you wrong her, three quarts of canary is her business.
Orange-Woman: What you please, gentlemen.
Dorimant: To him! Give him as good as he brings.
Orange-Woman: Hang him, there is not such another heathen in the town again, except it be the shoemaker without.
Medley: I shall see you hold up your hand at the bar next sessions for murder, huswife. That shoemaker can take his oath you are in fee with the doctors to sell green fruit to the gentry, that the crudities may breed diseases.
Orange-Woman: Pray give me my money.
Dorimant: Not a penny! When you bring the gentlewoman hither you spoke of, you shall be paid.
Orange-Woman: The gentlewoman! The gentlewoman may be as honest as your sister, for aught as I know. Pray pay me, Mr. Dorimant, and do not abuse me so. I have an honester way of living, you know it.
Medley: Was there ever such a resty bawd?
Dorimant: Some jade's tricks she has, but she makes amends when she's in good-humour.—Come, tell me the lady's name, and Handy shall pay you.
Orange-Woman: I must not; she forbid me.
Dorimant: That's a sure sign she would have you.
Medley: Where does she live?
Orange-Woman: They lodge at my house.
Medley: Nay, then she's in a hopeful way.
Orange-Woman: Good Mr. Medley, say your pleasure of me, but take heed how you affront my house. God's my life, in a hopeful way!
Dorimant: Prithee, peace! What kind of woman's the mother?
Orange-Woman: A goodly grave gentlewoman. Lord, how she talks against the wild young men o' the town! As for your part, she thinks you an arrant devil: should she see you, on my conscience she would look if you had not a cloven foot.
Dorimant: Does she know me?
Orange-Woman: Only by hearsay. A thousand horrid stories have been told her of you, and she believes 'em all.
Medley: By the character, this should be the famous Lady Woodvill and her daughter Harriet.
Orange-Woman:[aside] The devil's in him for guessing, I think.
Dorimant: Do you know 'em?
Medley: Both very well. The mother's a great admirer of the forms and civility of the last age.
Dorimant: An antiquated beauty may be allowed to be out of humour at the freedoms of the present. This is a good account of the mother. Pray, what is the daughter?
Medley: Why, first she's an heiress, vastly rich.
Dorimant: And handsome?
Medley: What alteration a twelvemonth may have bred in her I know not, but a year ago she was the beautifulest creature I ever saw: a fine, easy, clean shape; light brown hair in abundance; her features regular; her complexion clear and lively; large wanton eyes; but above all, a mouth that has made me kiss it a thousand times in imagination—teeth white and even, and pretty pouting lips, with a little moisture ever hanging on them, that look like the Provins rose fresh on the bush, ere the morning sun has quite drawn up the dew.
Dorimant: Rapture, mere rapture!
Orange-Woman: Nay, gad, he tells you true. She's a delicate creature.
Dorimant: Has she wit?
Medley: More than is usual in her sex, and as much malice. Then she's as wild as you would wish her, and has a demureness in her looks that makes it so surprising.
Dorimant: Flesh and blood cannot hear this, and not long to know her.
Medley: I wonder what makes her mother bring her up to town? An old doting keeper cannot be more jealous of his mistress.
Orange-Woman: She made me laugh yesterday. There was a judge came to visit 'em, and the old man (she told me) did so stare upon her and, when he saluted her, smacked so heartily—who would think it of 'em?
Medley: God-a-mercy, Judge!
Dorimant: Do 'em right, the gentlemen of the long robe have not been wanting by their good examples to countenance the crying sin o' the nation.
Medley: Come, on with your trappings; 'tis later than you imagine.
Dorimant: Call in the shoemaker, Handy!
Orange-Woman: Good Mr. Dorimant, pay me. Gad, I had rather give you my fruit than stay to be abused by that foul-mouthed rogue. What you gentlemen say, it matters not much, but such a dirty fellow does one more disgrace.
Dorimant:[to Handy] Give her ten shillings, and be sure you tell the young gentlewoman I must be acquainted with her.
Orange-Woman: Now do you long to be tempting this pretty creature. Well, heavens mend you!
Medley: Farewell, bog!
Exeunt Orange-Woman and Handy.
Dorimant, when did you see your pis aller, as you call her, Mrs. Loveit?
Dorimant: Not these two days.
Medley: And how stand affairs between you?
Dorimant: There has been great patching of late, much ado; we make a shift to hang together.
Medley: I wonder how her mighty spirit bears it?
Dorimant: Ill enough, on all conscience. I never knew so violent a creature.
Medley: She's the most passionate in her love, and the most extravagant in her jealousy, of any woman I ever heard of. What note is that?
Dorimant: An excuse I am going to send her for the neglect I am guilty of.
Medley: Prithee read it.
Dorimant: No, but if you will take the pains you may.
Medley:[reads] "I never was a lover of business, but now I have a just reason to hate it, since it has kept me these two days from seeing you. I intend to wait upon you in the afternoon, and in the pleasure of your conversation forget all I have suffered during this tedious absence." —This business of yours, Dorimant, has been with a vizard at the playhouse; I have had an eye on you. If some malicious body should betray you, this kind note would hardly make your peace with her.
Dorimant: I desire no better.
Medley: Why, would her knowledge of it oblige you?
Dorimant: Most infinitely; next to the coming to a good understanding with a new mistress, I love a quarrel with an old one. But the devil's in't, there has been such a calm in my affairs of late, I have not had the pleasure of making a woman so much as break her fan, to be sullen, or forswear herself these three days.
Medley: A very great misfortune! Let me see, I love mischief well enough to forward this business myself. I'll about it presently and though I know the truth of what you've done will set her a-raving, I'll heighten it a little with invention, leave her in a fit o' the mother, and be here again before you're ready.
Dorimant: Pray, stay; you may spare yourself the labour. The business is undertaken already by one who will manage it with as much address, and I think with a little more malice than you can.
Medley: Who i' the devil's name can this be?
Dorimant: Why, the vizard, that very vizard you saw me with.
Medley: Does she love mischief so well as to betray herself to spite another?
Dorimant: Not so neither, Medley; I will make you comprehend the mystery. This mask, for a farther confirmation of what I have been these two days swearing to her, made me yesterday at the playhouse make her a promise before her face utterly to break off with Loveit; and because she tenders my reputation, and would not have me do a barbarous thing, has contrived a way to give me a handsome occasion.
Medley: Very good.
Dorimant: She intends, about an hour before me, this afternoon to make Loveit a visit, and (having the privilege, by reason of a professed friendship between 'em) to talk of her concerns—
Medley: Is she a friend?
Dorimant: Oh, an intimate friend!
Medley: Better and better! Pray proceed.
Dorimant: She means insensibly to insinuate a discourse of me, and artificially raise her jealousy to such a height, that transported with the first motions of her passion, she shall fly upon me with all the fury imaginable as soon as ever I enter. The quarrel being thus happily begun, I am to play my part, confess and justify all my roguery, swear her impertinence and ill-humour makes her intolerable, tax her with the next fop that comes into my head, and in a huff march away; slight her, and leave her to be taken by whosoever thinks it worth his time to lie down before her.
Medley: This vizard is a spark, and has a genius that makes her worthy of yourself, Dorimant.
Enter Handy, Shoemaker, and Footman.
Dorimant:[to the footman] You rogue there, who sneak like a dog that has flung down a dish! If you do not mend your waiting I'll uncase you, and turn you loose to the wheel of fortune.—Handy, seal this, and let him run with it presently.
Medley: Since you're resolved on a quarrel, why do you send her this kind note?
Dorimant: To keep her at home in order to the business. [To the Shoemaker.] How now, you drunken sot?
Shoemaker: 'Zbud, you have no reason to talk. I have not had a bottle of sack of yours in my belly this fortnight.
Medley: The orange-woman says your neighbours take notice what a heathen you are, and design to inform the bishop and have you burned for an atheist.
Shoemaker: Damn her, dunghill! if her husband does not remove her, she stinks so the parish intend to indict him for a nuisance.
Medley: I advise you like a friend, reform your life. You have brought the envy of the world upon you by living above yourself. Whoring and swearing are vices too genteel for a shoemaker.
Shoemaker: 'Zbud, I think you men of quality will grow as unreasonable as the women: you would engross the sins o the nation. Poor folks can no sooner be wicked, but they're railed at by their betters.
Dorimant: Sirrah, I'll have you stand i' the pillory for this libel.
Shoemaker: Some of you deserve it, I'm sure. There are so many of 'em, that our journeymen nowadays, instead of harmless ballads, sing nothing but your damned lampoons.
Dorimant: Our lampoons, you rogue?
Shoemaker: Nay, good master, why should not you write your own commentaries as well as Caesar?
Medley: The rascal's read, I perceive.
Shoemaker: You know the old proverb, ale and history.
Dorimant: Draw on my shoes, sirrah.
Shoemaker: Here's a shoe—
Dorimant: Sits with more wrinkles than there are in an angry bully's forehead.
Shoemaker: 'Zbud, as smooth as your mistress's skin does upon her. So strike your foot in home. 'Zbud, if e'er a monsieur of 'em all make more fashionable wear, I'll be content to have my ears whipped off with my own paring-knife.
Medley: And served up in a ragout instead of coxcombs to a company of French shoemakers for a collation.
Shoemaker: Hold, hold! Damn 'em, caterpillars, let 'em feed upon cabbage. —Come, master, your health this morning next my heart now (3).
Dorimant: Go, get you home, and govern your family better! Do not let your wife follow you to the alehouse, beat your whore, and lead you home in triumph.
Shoemaker: 'Zbud, there's never a man i' the town lives more like a gentleman with his wife than I do. I never mind her motions, she never inquires into mine. We speak to one another civilly, hate one another heartily, and because 'tis vulgar to lie and soak together, we have each of us our several settle-bed.
Dorimant:[to Handy] Give him half a crown.
Medley: Not without he will promise to be bloody drunk.
Shoemaker: Tope's the word i' the eye of the world. [to Handy] For my master's honour, Robin! (4)
Dorimant: Do not debauch my servants, sirrah.
Shoemaker: I only tip him the wink; he knows an alehouse from a hovel.
Dorimant: My clothes, quickly!
Medley: Where shall we dine to-day?
Enter Young Bellair.
Dorimant: Where you will. Here comes a good third man.
Young Bellair: Your servant, gentlemen.
Medley: Gentle sir, how will you answer this visit to your honourable mistress? 'Tis not her interest you should keep company with men of sense, who will be talking reason.
Young Bellair: I do not fear her pardon, do you but grant me yours for my neglect of late.
Medley: Though you've made us miserable by the want of your good company, to show you I am free from all resentment, may the beautiful cause of our misfortune give you all the joys happy lovers have shared ever since the world began.
Young Bellair: You wish me in heaven, but you believe me on my journey to hell.
Medley: You have a good strong faith, and that may contribute much towards your salvation. I confess I am but of an untoward constitution, apt to have doubts and scruples, and in love they are no less distracting than in religion. Were I so near marriage, I should cry out by fits as I ride in my coach, "Cuckold, Cuckold!" with no less fury than the mad fanatic does "Glory!" in Bethlem.
Young Bellair: Because religion makes some run mad, must I live an atheist?
Medley: Is it not great indiscretion for a man of credit, who may have money enough on his word, to go and deal with Jews who for little sums make men enter into bonds and give judgments?
Young Bellair: Preach no more on this text; I am determined, and there is no hope of my conversion.
Dorimant: [to Handy, who is fiddling about him] Leave your unnecessary fiddling. A wasp that's buzzing about a man's nose at dinner is not more troublesome than thou art.
Handy: You love to have your clothes hang just, sir.
Dorimant: I love to be well dressed, sir, and think it no scandal to my understanding.
Handy: Will you use the essence, or orange-flower water?
Dorimant: I will smell as I do to-day, no offence to the ladies' noses.
Handy: Your pleasure, sir.
Dorimant: That a man's excellency should lie in neatly tying of a ribbon or a cravat! How careful's nature in furnishing the world with necessary coxcombs!
Young Bellair: That's a mighty pretty suit of yours, Dorimant.
Dorimant: I am glad't has your approbation.
Young Bellair: No man in town has a better fancy in his clothes than you have.
Dorimant: You will make me have an opinion of my genius.
Medley: There is a great critic, I hear, in these matters lately arrived piping hot from Paris.
Young Bellair: Sir Fopling Flutter. you mean.
Medley: The same.
Young Bellair: He thinks himself the pattern of modern gallantry.
Dorimant: He is indeed the pattern of modern foppery
Medley: He was yesterday at the play, with a pair of gloves up to his elbows and a periwig more exactly curled than a lady's head newly dressed for a ball.
Young Bellair: What a pretty lisp he has!
Dorimant: Ho, that he affects in imitation of the people of quality in France.
Medley: His head stands for the most part on one side, and his looks are more languishing than a lady's when she lolls at stretch in her coach or leans her head carelessly against the side of a box i' the playhouse.
Dorimant: He is a person indeed of great acquired follies.
Medley: He is like many others, beholding to his education for making him so eminent a coxcomb. Many a fool had been lost to the world had their indulgent parents wisely bestowed neither learning nor good breeding on 'em.
Young Bellair: He has been, as the sparkish word is, brisk upon the ladies already. He was yesterday at my Aunt Townley's, and gave Mrs. Loveit a catalogue of his good qualities under the character of a complete gentleman, who (according to Sir Fopling) ought to dress well, dance well, fence well, have a genius for love-letters, an agreeable voice for a chamber, be very amorous, something discreet, but not overconstant.
Medley: Pretty ingredients to make an accomplished person!
Dorimant: I am glad he pitched upon Loveit.
Young Bellair: How so?
Dorimant: I wanted a fop to lay to her charge, and this is as pat as may be.
Young Bellair: I am confident she loves no man but you.
Dorimant: The good fortune were enough to make me vain, but that I am in my nature modest.
Young Bellair: Hark you, Dorimant.—With your leave, Mr. Medley. 'Tis only a secret concerning a fair lady.
Medley: Your good breeding, sir, gives you too much trouble. You might have whispered without all this ceremony.
Young Bellair:[to Dorimant] How stand your affairs with Bellinda of late?
Dorimant: She's a little jilting baggage.
Young Bellair: Nay, I believe her false enough, but she's ne'er the worse for your purpose. She was with you yesterday in a disguise at the play.
Dorimant: There we fell out, and resolved never to speak to one another more.
Young Bellair: The occasion?
Dorimant: Want of courage to meet me at the place appointed. These young women apprehend loving as much as the young men do fighting at first; but once entered, like them too, they all turn bullies straight.
Handy:[to Young Bellair] Sir, your man without desires to speak with you.
Young Bellair: Gentlemen, I'll return immediately.
Exit Young Bellair.
Medley: A very pretty fellow this.
Dorimant: He's handsome, well-bred, and by much the most tolerable of all the young men that do not abound in wit.
Medley: Ever well-dressed, always complaisant, and seldom impertinent; you and he are grown very intimate, I see.
Dorimant: It is our mutual interest to be so. It makes the women think the better of his understanding and judge more favourably of my reputation; it makes him pass upon some for a man of very good sense and I upon others for a very civil person.
Medley: What was that whisper?
Dorimant: A thing which he would fain have known, but I did not think it fit to tell him. It might have frighted him from his honourable intentions of marrying.
Medley: Emilia, give her her due, has the best reputation of any young woman about the town who has beauty enough to provoke detraction. Her carriage is unaffected, her discourse modest, not at all censorious nor pretending, like the counterfeits of the age.
Dorimant: She's a discreet maid, and I believe nothing can corrupt her but a husband.
Medley: A husband?
Dorimant: Yes, a husband. I have known many women make a difficulty of losing a maidenhead who have afterwards made none of a cuckold.
Medley: This prudent consideration, I am apt to think, has made you confirm poor Bellair in the desperate resolution he has taken.
Dorimant: Indeed, the little hope I found there was of her, in the state she was in, has made him by my advice contribute something towards the changing of her condition.
Enter Young Bellair.
Dear Bellair, by heavens I thought we had lost thee! Men in love are never to be reckoned on when we would form a company.
Young Bellair: Dorimant I am undone. My man has brought the most surprising news i' the world.
Dorimant: Some strange misfortune is befallen your love?
Young Bellair: My father came to town last night, and lodges i' the very house where Emilia lies.
Medley: Does he know it is with her you are in love?
Young Bellair: He knows I love, but knows not whom, without some officious sot has betrayed me.
Dorimant: Your Aunt Townley is your confidante and favours the business.
Young Bellair: I do not apprehend any ill office from her. I have received a letter, in which I am commanded by my father to meet him at my aunt's this afternoon. He tells me farther he has made a match for me, and bids me resolve to be obedient to his will or expect to be disinherited.
Medley: Now's your time, Bellair. Never had lover such an opportunity of giving a generous proof of his passion.
Young Bellair: As how, I pray?
Medley: Why, hang an estate, marry Emilia out of hand, and provoke your father to do what he threatens. 'Tis but despising a coach, humbling yourself to a pair of goloshes, being out of countenance when you meet your friends, pointed at and pitied wherever you go by all the amorous fops that know you, and your fame will be immortal.
Young Bellair: I could find in my heart to resolve not to marry at all.
Dorimant: Fie, fie! That would spoil a good jest and disappoint the well-natured town of an occasion of laughing at you.
Young Bellair: The storm I have so long expected hangs o'er my head and begins to pour down upon me. I am on the rack, and can have no rest till I'm satisfied in what I fear. Where do you dine?
Dorimant: At Long's or Locket's.
Medley: At Long's let it be.
Young Bellair: I'll run and see Emilia, and inform myself how matters stand. If my misfortunes are not so great as to make me unfit for company, I'll be with you.
Exit Young Bellair.
Enter a Footman with a letter.
Footman: [to Dorimant] Here's a letter, sir.
Dorimant: The superscription's right: "For Mr. Dorimant."
Medley: Let's see. The very scrawl and spelling of a true-bred whore.
Dorimant: I know the hand. The style is admirable, I assure you.
Medley: Prithee read it.
Dorimant: [reads] "I told a you you dud not love me, if you dud, you would have seen me again e'er now. I have no mony, and am very malicolly. Pray send me a guynie to see the operies. Your servant to command, Molly."
Medley: Pray let the whore have a favourable answer, that she may spark it in a box and do honour to her profession.
Dorimant: She shall, and perk up i' the face of quality.[to Handy] Is the coach at door?
Handy: You did not bid me send for it.
Dorimant: Eternal blockhead!
Handy offers to go out.
Handy: Did you call me, sir?
Dorimant: I hope you have no just exception to the name, sir?
Handy: I have sense, sir.
Dorimant: Not so much as a fly in winter.—How did you come, Medley?
Medley: In a chair.
Footman:You may have hackney coach if you please, sir.
Dorimant: I may ride the elephant if I please, sir. Call another chair, and let my coach follow to Long's.
Exeunt Footman and Handy
"Be calm, ye great parents, etc." (5)