Enter Mrs Loveit and Pert; Mrs Loveit putting up a letter, then pulling out het pocket glass and looking in it.
Mrs. Loveit: Pert.
Mrs. Loveit: I hate myself, I look so ill to-day.
Pert: Hate the wicked cause on't, that base man Mr. Dorimant, who makes you torment and vex yourself continually.
Mrs. Loveit: He is to blame, indeed.
Pert: To blame to be two days without sending, writing, or coming near you, contrary to his oath and covenant! 'Twas to much purpose to make him swear! I'll lay my life there's not an article but he has broken—talked to the vizards i' the pit, waited upon the ladies from the boxes to their coaches, gone behind the scenes and fawned upon those little insignificant creatures the players. 'Tis impossible for a man of his inconstant temper to forbear, I'm sure.
Mrs. Loveit: I know he is a devil, but he has something of the angel yet undefaced in him, which makes him so charming and agreeable that I must love him be he never so wicked.
Pert: I little thought, madam, to see your spirit tamed to this degree, who banished poor Mr. Lackwit but for taking up another lady's fan in your presence.
Mrs. Loveit: My knowing of such odious fools contributes to the making of me love Dorimant the better.
Pert: Your knowing of Mr. Dorimant, in my mind, should rather make you hate all mankind.
Mrs. Loveit: So it does, besides himself.
Pert: Pray, what excuse does he make in his letter?
Mrs. Loveit: He has had business.
Pert: Business in general terms would not have been a current excuse for another. A modish man is always very busy when he is in pursuit of a new mistress.
Mrs. Loveit: Some fop has bribed you to rail at him. He had business, I will believe it, and will forgive him.
Pert: You may forgive him anything, but I shall never forgive him his turning me into ridicule, as I hear he does.
Mrs. Loveit: I perceive you are of the number of those fools his wit has made his enemies.
Pert: I am of the number of those he's pleased to rally, madam; and if we may believe Mr. Wagfan and Mr. Caperwell, he sometimes makes merry with yourself too among his laughing companions.
Mrs. Loveit: Blockheads are as malicious to witty men as ugly women are to the handsome; 'tis their interest, and they make it their business to defame 'em.
Pert: I wish Mr. Dorimant would not make it his business to defame you.
Mrs. Loveit: Should he, I had rather be made infamous by him than owe my reputation to the dull discretion of those fops you talk of.
Enter Bellinda .
Mrs. Loveit: Bellinda!
Running to her.
Bellinda: My dear!
Mrs. Loveit: You have been unkind of late.
Bellinda: Do not say unkind, say unhappy.
Mrs. Loveit: I could chide you. Where have you been these two days?
Bellinda: Pity me rather, my dear, where I have been so tired with two or three country gentlewomen, whose conversation has been more insufferable than a country fiddle.
Mrs. Loveit: Are they relations?
Bellinda: No, Welsh acquaintance I made when I was last year at St. Winifred's.(1) They have asked me a thousand questions of the modes and intrigues of the town, and I have told 'em almost as many things for news that hardly were so when their gowns were in fashion.
Mrs. Loveit: Provoking creatures, how could you endure 'em?
Bellinda: [aside]. Now to carry on my plot; nothing but love could make me capable of so much falsehood. 'Tis time to begin, lest Dorimant should come before her jealousy has stung her. [Laughs, and then speaks on.] I was yesterday at a play with 'em, where I was fain to show 'em the living, as the man at Westminster does the dead. That is Mrs. Such-a-one, admired for her beauty; this is Mr. Such-a-one, cried up for a wit; that is sparkish Mr. Such-a-one, who keeps reverend Mrs. Such-a- one, and there sits fine Mrs. Such-a-one, who was lately cast off by my Lord Such-a-one.
Mrs. Loveit: Did you see Dorimant there?
Bellinda: I did, and imagine you were there with him and have no mind to own it.
Mrs. Loveit: What should make you think so?
Bellinda: A lady masked in a pretty déshabillé, whom Dorimant entertained with more respect than the gallants do a common vizard.
Mrs. Loveit: [aside]. Dorimant at the play entertaining a mask, oh heavens!
Bellinda: [aside]. Good!
Mrs. Loveit: Did he stay all the while?
Bellinda: Till the play was done, and then led her out, which confirms me it was you.
Mrs. Loveit: Traitor!
Pert: Now you may believe he had business, and you may forgive him too.
Mrs. Loveit: Ungrateful, perjured man!
Bellinda: You seem so much concerned, my dear, I fear I have told you unawares what I had better have concealed for your quiet.
Mrs. Loveit: What manner of shape had she?
Bellinda: Tall and slender. Her motions very genteel. Certainly she must be some person of condition.
Mrs. Loveit: Shame and confusion be ever in her face when she shows it!
Bellinda: I should blame your discretion for loving that wild man, my dear; but they say he has a way so bewitching that few can defend their hearts who know him.
Mrs. Loveit: I will tear him from mine, or die i' the attempt!
Bellinda: Be more moderate.
Mrs. Loveit: Would I had daggers, darts, or poisoned arrows in my breast, so I could but remove the thoughts of him from thence!
Bellinda: Fie, fie, your transports are too violent, my dear. This may be but an accidental gallantry, and 'tis likely ended at her coach.
Pert: Should it proceed farther, let your comfort be, the conduct Mr. Dorimant affects will quickly make you know your rival, ten to one let you see her ruined, her reputation exposed to the town—a happiness none will envy her but yourself, madam.
Mrs. Loveit: Whoe'er she be, all the harm I wish her is, may she love him as well as I do, and may he give her as much cause to hate him!
Pert: Never doubt the latter end of your curse, madam.
Mrs. Loveit: May all the passions that are raised by neglected love—jealousy, indignation, spite, and thirst of revenge— eternally rage in her soul, as they do now in mine!
Walks up and down with a distracted air.
Enter a Page.
Page: Madam, Mr. Dorimant.
Mrs. Loveit: I will not see him.
Page: I told him you were within, madam.
Mrs. Loveit: Say you lied, say I'm busy—shut the door— say anything!
Page: He's here, madam.
They taste of death who do at Heaven arrive,
But we this paradise approach alive. (2)
Dorimant: [To Loveit.] What, dancing the galloping nag without a fiddle? [Offers to catch her by the hand; she flings away and walks on.] I fear this restlessness of the body, madam [Pursuing her.] proceeds from an unquietness of the mind. What unlucky accident puts you out of humour— a point ill washed, knots spoiled i' the making up, hair shaded awry, or some other little mistake in setting you in order?
Pert: A trifle, in my opinion, sir, more inconsiderable than any you mention.
Dorimant: Oh, Mrs Pert! I never knew you sullen enough to be silent. Come, let me know the business.
Pert: The business, sir, is the business that has taken you up these two days. How have I seen you laugh at men of business, and now to become a man of business yourself!
Dorimant: We are not masters of our own affections, our inclinations daily alter. Now we love pleasure, and anon we shall dote on business. Human frailty will have it so, and who can help it?
Mrs. Loveit: Faithless, inhuman, barbarous man—
Dorimant:[aside] Good, now the alarm strikes.
Mrs. Loveit:—Without sense of love, of honour, or of gratitude, tell me, for I will know, what devil masked she was, you were with at the play yesterday.
Dorimant: Faith, I resolved as much as you, but the devil was obstinate and would not tell me.
Mrs. Loveit: False in this as in your vows to me! You do know!
Dorimant: The truth is, I did all I could to know.
Mrs. Loveit: And dare you own it to my face? Hell and furies!
Tears her fan in pieces..
Dorimant: Spare your fan, madam. You are growing hot, and will want it to cool you.
Mrs. Loveit: Horror and distraction seize you! Sorrow and remorse gnaw your soul and punish all your perjuries to me![Weeps].
Dorimant:[turning to Bellinda]
"So thunder breaks the cloud in twain.
And makes a passage for the rain." (3)
Dorimant: [ to Bellinda.] Bellinda, you are the devil that have raised this storm. You were at the play yesterday, and have been making discoveries to your dear.
Bellinda: You're the most mistaken man i' the world.
Dorimant: It must be so, and here I vow revenge—resolve to pursue and persecute you more impertinently than ever any loving fop did his mistress, hunt you i' the Park, trace you i' the Mall, dog you in every visit you make, haunt you at the plays and i' the Drawing-room, hang my nose in your neck, and talk to you whether you will or no, and ever look upon you with such dying eyes, till your friends grow jealous of me, send you out of town, and make the world suspect your reputation. [In a lower voice.] At my Lady Townley's when we go from hence.
He looks kindly on Bellinda.
Bellinda: I'll meet you there.
Mrs. Loveit:[pushing Dorimant] Stand off! You shall not stare upon her so.
Dorimant: Good, there's one made jealous already.
Mrs. Loveit: Is this the constancy you vowed?
Dorimant: Constancy at my years? 'Tis not a virtue in season; you might as well expect the fruit the autumn ripens i' the spring.
Mrs. Loveit: Monstrous principle!
Dorimant: Youth has a long journey to go, madam. Should I have set up my rest at the first inn I lodged at, I should never have arrived at the happiness I now enjoy.
Mrs. Loveit: Dissembler, damned dissembler!
Dorimant: I am so, I confess. Good nature and good manners corrupt me. I am honest in my inclinations, and would not, were't not to avoid offence, make a lady a little in years believe I think her young, wilfully mistake art for nature, and seem as fond of a thing I am weary of as when I doted on't in earnest.
Mrs. Loveit: False man!
Dorimant: True woman.
Mrs. Loveit: Now you begin to show yourself.
Dorimant: Love gilds us over and makes us show fine things to one another for a time, but soon the gold wears off, and then again the native brass appears.
Mrs. Loveit: Think on your oaths, your vows and protestations, perjured man!
Dorimant: I made 'em when I was in love.
Mrs. Loveit: And therefore ought they not to bind? Oh, impious!
Dorimant: What we swear at such a time may be a certain proof of a present passion; but to say truth, in love there is no security to be given for the future.
Mrs. Loveit: Horrid and ungrateful, begone, and never see me more!
Dorimant: I am not one of those troublesome coxcombs, who because they were once well received take the privilege to plague a woman with their love ever after. I shall obey you, madam, though I do myself some violence.
He offers to go, and Loveit pulls him back.
Mrs. Loveit: Come back, you shall not go! Could you have the ill-nature to offer it?
Dorimant: When love grows diseased, the best thing we can do is to put it to a violent death. I cannot endure the torture of a lingering and consumptive passion.
Mrs. Loveit: Can you think mine sickly?
Dorimant: Oh, 'tis desperately ill! What worse symptoms are there than your being always uneasy when I visit you, your picking quarrels with me on slight occasions, and in my absence kindly listening to the impertinencies of every fashionable fool that talks to you?
Mrs. Loveit: What fashionable fool can you lay to my charge?
Dorimant: Why, the very cock-fool of all those fools, Sir Fopling Flutter.
Mrs. Loveit: I never saw him in my life but once.
Dorimant: The worse woman you, at first sight to put on all your charms, to entertain him with that softness in your voice and all that wanton kindness in your eyes you so notoriously affect when you design a conquest.
Mrs. Loveit: So damned a lie did never malice yet invent. Who told you this?
Dorimant: No matter. That ever I should love a woman that can dote on a senseless caper, a tawdry French ribbon, and a formal cravat.
Mrs. Loveit: You make me mad.
Dorimant: A guilty conscience may do much. Go on, be the game-mistress o' the town, and enter all our young fops as fast as they come from travel.
Mrs. Loveit: Base and scurrilous!
Dorimant: A fine mortifying reputation 'twill be for a woman of your pride, wit, and quality!
Mrs. Loveit: This jealousy's a mere pretence, a cursed trick of your own devising. I know you.
Dorimant: Believe it, and all the ill of me you can. I would not have a woman have the least good thought of me that can think well of Fopling. Farewell. Fall to, and much good may it do you with your coxcomb.
Mrs. Loveit: Stay! Oh stay, and I will tell you all.
Dorimant: I have been told too much already.
Mrs. Loveit: Call him again!
Pert: E'en let him go. A fair riddance.
Mrs. Loveit: Run, I say, call him again. I will have him called.
Pert: The devil should carry him away first, were it my concern.
Bellinda: He's frightened me from the very thoughts of loving men. For heaven's sake, my dear, do not discover what I told you. I dread his tongue as much as you ought to have done his friendship.
Pert: He's gone, madam.
Mrs. Loveit: Lightning blast him!
Pert: When I told him you desired him to come back, he smiled, made a mouth at me, flung into his coach, and said—
Mrs. Loveit: What did he say?
Pert: "Drive away"; and then repeated verses.
Mrs. Loveit: Would I had made a contract to be a witch, when first I entertained this great devil. Monster, barbarian! I could tear myself in pieces. Revenge, nothing but revenge can ease me. Plague, war, famine, fire, all that can bring universal ruin and misery on mankind—with joy I'd perish to have you in my power but this moment!
Pert: Follow, madam. Leave her not in this outrageous passion.
Pert gathers up the things.
Bellinda: He's given me the proof which I desired of his love: But 'tis a proof of his ill-nature too. I wish I had not seen him use her so.
I sigh to think that Dorimant may be
One day as faithless and unkind to me.