Lady Townley's House
Act 2 — Scene 1 of The Man Of Mode by George Etherege

Enter my Lady Townley and Emilia

Lady Townley: I was afraid, Emilia, all had been discovered.

Emilia: I tremble with the apprehension still.

Lady Townley: That my brother should take lodgings i' the very house where you lie!

Emilia: 'Twas lucky we had timely notice to warn the people to be secret. He seems to be a mighty good-humoured old man.

Lady Townley: He ever had a notable smirking way with him.

Emilia: He calls me rogue, tells me he can't abide me, and does so bepat me.

Lady Townley: On my word you are much in his favour then.

Emilia: He has been very inquisitive, I am told, about my family, my reputation, and my fortune.

Lady Townley: I am confident he does not i' the least suspect you are the woman his son's in love with.

Emilia: What should make him then inform himself so particularly of me?

Lady Townley: He was always of a very loving temper himself. It may be he has a doting fit upon him, who knows?

Emilia: It cannot be.

Enter Young Bellair .

Lady Townley: Here comes my nephew. —Where did you leave your father?

Young Bellair: Writing a note within.— Emilia, this early visit looks as if some kind jealousy would not let you rest at home.

Emilia: The knowledge I have of my rival gives me a little cause to fear your constancy.

Young Bellair: My constancy! I vow—

Emilia: Do not vow. Our love is frail as is our life, and full as little in our power; and are you sure you shall outlive this day?

Young Bellair: I am not, but when we are in perfect health 'twere an idle thing to fright ourselves with the thoughts of sudden death

Lady Townley: Pray what has passed between you and your father i' the garden?

Young Bellair: He's firm in his resolution, tells me I must marry Mrs. Harriet, or swears he'll marry himself and disinherit me. When I saw I could not prevail with him to be more indulgent, I dissembled an obedience to his will which has composed his passion, and will give us time—and I hope opportunity—to deceive him.

Enter Old Bellair with a note in his hand.

Lady Townley: Peace, here he comes.

Old Bellair: Harry, take this, and let your man carry it for me to Mr. Fourbes's chamber—my lawyer, i' the Temple.

Exit Young Bellair.

[To Emilia.] Neighbour, adod, I am glad to see thee here.—Make much of her, sister. She's one of the best of your acquaintance. I like her countenance and her behaviour well, she has a modesty that is not common i' this age, adod she has.

Lady Townley: I know her value, brother, and esteem her accordingly.

Old Bellair: Advise her to wear a little more mirth in her face. Adod, she's too serious.

Lady Townley: The fault is very excusable in a young woman.

Old Bellair: Nay, adod, I like her ne'er the worse, a melancholy beauty has her charms. I love a pretty sadness in a face which varies now and then, like changeable colours, into a smile.

Lady Townley: Methinks you speak very feelingly, brother.

Old Bellair: I am but five-and-fifty, sister, you know, an age not altogether insensible! [To Emilia.] Cheer up, sweetheart, I have a secret to tell thee may chance to make thee merry. We three will make collation together anon. I' the meantime mum, I can't abide you; go, I can't abide you.

Enter Young Bellair.

Harry! Come, you must along with me to my Lady Woodvill's. —I am going to slip the boy at a mistress.

Young Bellair: At a wife, sir, you would say.

Old Bellair: You need not look so glum, sir. A wife is no curse when she brings the blessing of a good estate with her. But an idle town flirt, with a painted face, a rotten reputation, and a crazy fortune, adod, is the devil and all; and such a one I hear you are in league with.

Young Bellair: I cannot help detraction, sir.

Old Bellair: Out, a pize o' their breeches, there are keeping fools enough for such flaunting baggages, and they are e'en too good for 'em. [To Emilia.] Remember night. [Aloud] Go, you're a rogue, you're a rogue. Fare you well, fare you well. [To Young Bellair] Come, come, come along, sir.

Exeunt Old and Young Bellair.

Lady Townley: On my word the old man comes on apace; I'll lay my life he's smitten.

Emilia: This is nothing but the pleasantness of his humour.

Lady Townley: I know him better than you. Let it work, it may prove lucky.

Enter Page

Page: Madam, Mr. Medley has sent to know whether a visit will not be troublesome this afternoon?

Lady Townley: Send him word his visits never are so.

Exit Page.

Emilia: He's a very pleasant man.

Lady Townley: He's a very necessary man among us women. He's not scandalous i' the least, perpetually contriving to bring good company together, and always ready to stop up a gap at ombre. Then he knows all the little news o' the town.

Emilia: I love to hear him talk o' the intrigues. Let 'em be never so dull in themselves, he'll make 'em pleasant i' the relation.

Lady Townley: But he improves things so much one can take no measure of the truth from him. Mr. Dorimant swears a flea or a maggot is not made more monstrous by a magnifying glass than a story is by his telling it.

Emilia: Hold, here he comes.

Enter Medley

Lady Townley: Mr. Medley.

Medley: Your servant, madam.

Lady Townley: You have made yourself a stranger of late.

Emilia: I believe you took a surfeit of ombre last time you were here.

Medley: Indeed I had my bellyful of that termagant lady-dealer. There never was so insatiable a carder, an old gleeker never loved to sit to't like her. I have played with her now at least a dozen times till she's worn out all her fine complexion, and her tour would keep in curl no longer.

Lady Townley: Blame her not, poor woman. She loves nothing so well as a black ace.

Medley: The pleasure I have seen her in when she has had hope in drawing for a matador!

Emilia: 'Tis as pretty sport to her as persuading masks off is to you to make discoveries.

Lady Townley: Pray, where's your friend Mr. Dorimant?

Medley: Soliciting his affairs. He's a man of great employment—has more mistresses now depending than the most eminent lawyer in England has causes.

Emilia: Here has been Mrs. Loveit, so uneasy and out of humour these two days.

Lady Townley: How strangely love and jealousy rage in that poor woman!

Medley: She could not have picked out a devil upon earth so proper to torment her. He has made her break a dozen or two of fans already, tear half a score points in pieces, and destroy hoods and knots without number.

Lady Townley: We heard of a pleasant serenade he gave her t'other night.

Medley: A Danish serenade, with kettledrums and trumpets.

Emilia: Oh, barbarous!

Medley: What, you are of the number of the ladies whose ears are grown so delicate since our operas, you can be charmed with nothing but flûtes douces and French hautboys?

Emilia: Leave your raillery, and tell us is there any new wit come forth— songs or novels?

Medley: A very pretty piece of gallantry by an eminent author called The Diversions of Brussels — very necessary to be read by all old ladies who are desirous to improve themselves at questions and commands, blindman's buff, and the like fashionable recreations.

Emilia: Oh, ridiculous!

Medley: Then there is The Art of Affectation, written by a late beauty of quality, teaching you how to draw up your breasts, stretch up your neck, to thrust out your breech, to play with your head, to toss up your nose, to bite your lips, to turn up your eyes, to speak in a silly soft tone of a voice, and use all the foolish French words that will infallibly make your person and conversation charming, with a short apology at the latter end, in the behalf of young ladies who notoriously wash and paint, though they have naturally good complexions.

Emilia: What a deal of stuff you tell us!

Medley: Such as the town affords, madam. The Russians hearing the great respect we have for foreign dancing have lately sent over some of the best balladines, who are now practising a famous ballet, which will be suddenly danced at the Bear Garden.

Lady Townley: Pray forbear your idle stories, and give us an account of the state of love as it now stands.

Medley: Truly there has been some revolutions in those affairs, great chopping and changing among the old, and some new lovers, whom malice, indiscretion, and misfortune have luckily brought into play.

Lady Townley: What think you of walking into the next room, and sitting down before you engage in this business?

Medley: I wait upon you, and I hope (though women are commonly unreasonable) by the plenty of scandal I shall discover to give you very good content, ladies.