Scene 2 — Act 3 — Lady Townley's House
The Man Of Mode by George Etherege

Enter Lady Townley and Emilia and Medley

Lady Townley. I pity the young lovers we last talked of, though, to say truth, their conduct has been so indiscreet they deserve to be unfortunate.

Medley. You've had an exact account, from the great lady i' th' box down to the little orange-wench.

Emilia. You're a living libel, a breathing lampoon. I wonder you are not torn in pieces.

Medley. What think you of setting up an office of intelligence for these matters? The project may get money.

Lady Townley. You would have great dealings with country ladies.

Medley. More than Muddiman has with their husbands!

Enter Bellinda.

Lady Townley. Bellinda, what has been become of you? We have not seen you here of late with your friend Mrs. Loveit.

Bellinda. Dear creature, I left her but now so sadly afflicted.

Lady Townley. With her old distemper, jealousy?

Medley. Dorimant has played her some new prank.

Bellinda. Well, that Dorimant is certainly the worst man breathing.

Emilia. I once thought so.

Bellinda. And do you not think so still?

Emilia. No, indeed!

Bellinda. Oh, Jesu!

Emilia. The town does him a great deal of injury, and I will never believe what it says of a man I do not know, again, for his sake.

Bellinda. You make me wonder.

Lady Townley. He's a very well-bred man.

Bellinda. But strangely ill-natured.

Emilia. Then he's a very witty man.

Bellinda. But a man of no principles.

Medley. Your man of principles is a very fine thing indeed!

Bellinda. To be preferred to men of parts by women who have regard to their reputation and quiet. Well, were I minded to play the fool, he should be the last man I'd think of.

Medley. He has been the first in many lady's favours, though you are so severe, madam.

Lady Townley. What he may be for a lover I know not, but he's a very pleasant acquaintance, I am sure.

Bellinda. Had you seen him use Mrs. Loveit as I have done, you would never endure him more.

Emilia. What, he has quarrelled with her again?

Bellinda. Upon the slightest occasion. He's jealous of Sir Fopling.

Lady Townley. She never saw him in her life but yesterday, and that was here.

Emilia. On my conscience, he's the only man in town that's her aversion. How horribly out of humour she was all the while he talked to her!

Bellinda. And somebody has wickedly told him —

Enter Dorimant.

Emilia. Here he comes.

Medley. Dorimant! you are luckily come to justify yourself. Here's a lady—

Bellinda. Has a word or two to say to you from a disconsolate person.

Dorimant. You tender your reputation too much, I know, madam, to whisper with me before this good company.

Bellinda. To serve Mrs. Loveit, I'll make a bold venture.

Dorimant. Here's Medley, the very spirit of scandal.

Bellinda. No matter.

Emilia. 'Tis something you are unwilling to hear, Mr. Dorimant.

Lady Townley. Tell him, Bellinda, whether he will or no.

Bellinda. [aloud]. Mrs. Loveit—

Dorimant. Softly, these are laughers; you do not know ' em.

Bellinda. [to Dorimant, apart] In a word, you've made me hate you, which I thought you never could have done.

Dorimant. In obeying your commands.

Bellinda. 'Twas a cruel part you played. how could you act it?

Dorimant. Nothing is cruel to a man who could kill himself to please you. Remember, five o'clock to-morrow morning.

Bellinda. I tremble when you name it.

Dorimant. Be sure you come.

Bellinda. I shall not.

Dorimant. Swear you will.

Bellinda. I dare not.

Dorimant. Swear, I say!

Bellinda. By my life, by all the happiness I hope for—

Dorimant. You will.

Bellinda. I will.

Dorimant. Kind.

Bellinda. I am glad I've sworn. I vow I think I should ha' failed you else.

Dorimant. Surprisingly kind! In what temper did you leave Loveit?

Bellinda. Her raving was prettily over, and she began to be in a brave way of defying you and all your works. Where have you been since you went from thence?

Dorimant. I looked in at the play.

Bellinda. I have promised, and must return to her again.

Dorimant. Persuade her to walk in the Mall this evening.

Bellinda. She hates the place, and will not come.

Dorimant. Do all you can to prevail with her.

Bellinda. For what purpose?

Dorimant. Sir Fopling will be here anon. I'll prepare him to set upon her there before me.

Bellinda. You persecute her too much. But I'll do all you'll ha' me.

Dorimant. [aloud]. Tell her plainly, 'tis grown so dull a business I can drudge on no longer.

Emilia. There are afflictions in love, Mr. Dorimant.

Dorimant. You women make 'em, who are commonly as unreasonable in that as you are at play; without the advantage be on your side a man can never quietly give over when he's weary.

Medley. If you would play without being obliged to complaisance, Dorimant, you should play in public places.

Dorimant. Ordinaries were a very good thing for that, but gentlemen do not of late frequent 'em. The deep play is now in private houses.

Bellinda offering to steal away.

Lady Townley. Bellinda, are you leaving us so soon?

Bellinda. I am to go to the Park with Mrs. Loveit, madam.

Exit Bellinda.

Lady Townley. This confidence will go nigh to spoil this young creature.

Medley. 'Twill do her good, madam. Young men who are brought up under practising lawyers prove the abler counsel when they come to be called to the Bar themselves.

Dorimant. The town has been very favourable to you this afternoon, my Lady Townley. You use to have an embarras of chairs and coaches at your door, an uproar of footmen in your hall, and a noise of fools above here.

Lady Townley. Indeed my house is the general rendezvous, and, next to the playhouse, is the common refuge of all the young idle people.

Emilia. Company is a very good thing, madam, but I wonder you do not love it a little more chosen.

Lady Townley. 'Tis good to have an universal taste. We should love wit, but for variety be able to divert ourselves with the extravagancies of those who want it.

Medley. Fools will make you laugh.

Emilia. For once or twice; but the repetition of their folly after a visit or two grows tedious and unsufferable.

Lady Townley. You are a little too delicate, Emilia.

Enter a Page.

Page. Sir Fopling Flutter, madam, desires to know if you are to be seen.

Lady Townley. Here's the freshest fool in town, and one who has not cloyed you yet. —Page!

Page. Madam?

Lady Townley. Desire him to walk up.

Exit Page.

Dorimant. Do not you fall on him, Medley, and snub him. Soothe him up in his extravagance. He will show the better.

Medley. You know I have a natural indulgence for fools, and need not this caution, sir.

Enter Sir Fopling Flutter with his Page after him.

Sir Fopling. Page, wait without.

Exit Page.

[To Lady Townley.] Madam I kiss your hands. I see yesterday was nothing of chance; the belles assemblées form themselves here every day. [To Emilia.] Lady your servant. —Dorimant, let me embrace thee. Without lying, I have not met with any of my acquaintance who retain so much of Paris as thou dost—the very air thou hadst when the marquis mistook thee i' th' Tuileries, and cried "Hé Chevalier!" and then begged thy pardon.

Dorimant. I would fain wear in fashion as long as I can, sir. 'Tis a thing to be valued in men as well as baubles.

Sir Fopling. Thou art a man of wit, and understandest the town. Prithee let thee and I be intimate. There is no living without making some good man the confidant of our pleasures.

Dorimant. 'Tis true; but there is no man so improper for such a business as I am.

Sir Fopling. Prithee, why hast thou so modest an opinion of thyself?

Dorimant. Why, first, I could never keep a secret in my life, and then there is no charm so infallibly makes me fall in love with a woman as my knowing a friend loves her. I deal honestly with you.

Sir Fopling. Thy humour's very gallant, or let me perish. I knew a French count so like thee.

Lady Townley. Wit, I perceive, has more power over you than beauty, Sir Fopling, else you would not have let this lady stand so long neglected.

Sir Fopling. [to Emilia]. A thousand pardons, madam. Some civilities due, of course, upon the meeting a long absent friend. The éclat of so much beauty, I confess, ought to have charmed me sooner.

Emilia. The brilliant of so much good language, sir, has much more power than the little beauty I can boast.

Sir Fopling. I never saw anything prettier than this high work on your point d'Espaigne.

Emilia. 'Tis not so rich as point de Venise.

Sir Fopling. Not altogether, but looks cooler, and is more proper for the season.— Dorimant, is not that Medley?

Dorimant. The same, sir.

Sir Fopling. [To Medley] Forgive me, sir; in this embarras of civilities I could not come to have you in my arms sooner. You understand an equipage the best of any man in town, I hear.

Medley. By my own you would not guess it.

Sir Fopling. There are critics who do not write, sir.

Medley. Our peevish poets will scarce allow it.

Sir Fopling. Damn 'em, they'll allow no man wit who does not play the fool like themselves, and show it! Have you taken notice of the gallesh I brought over?

Medley. Oh, yes! It has quite another air than the English makes.

Sir Fopling. 'Tis as easily known from an English tumbril as an Inns of Court man is from one of us.

Dorimant. Truly, there is a bel air in galleshes as well as men.

Medley. But there are few so delicate to observe it.

Sir Fopling. The world is generally very grossier here, indeed.

Lady Townley. [To Emilia] He's very fine.

Emilia. Extreme proper.

Sir Fopling. A slight suit I made to appear in at my first arrival — not worthy your consideration, ladies.

Dorimant. The pantaloon is very well mounted.

Sir Fopling. The tassels are new and pretty.

Medley. I never saw a coat better cut.

Sir Fopling. It makes me show long-waisted, and, I think, slender.

Dorimant. That's the shape our ladies dote on.

Medley. Your breech, though, is a handful too high in my eye, Sir Fopling.

Sir Fopling. Peace, Medley, I have wished it lower a thousand times, but a pox on't, 'twill not be!

Lady Townley. His gloves are well fringed, large and graceful.

Sir Fopling. I was always eminent for being bien ganté.

Emilia. He wears nothing but what are originals of the most famous hands in Paris.

Sir Fopling. You are in the right, madam.

Lady Townley. The suit?

Sir Fopling. Barroy.

Emilia. The garniture?

Sir Fopling. Le Gras.

Medley. The shoes?

Sir Fopling. Piccar.

Dorimant. The periwig?

Sir Fopling. Chedreux.

Lady Townley, Emilia. The gloves?

Sir Fopling. Orangerie. You know the smell, ladies.— Dorimant, I could find in my heart for an amusement to have a gallantry with some of our English ladies.

Dorimant. 'Tis a thing no less necessary to confirm the reputation of your wit than a duel will be to satisfy the town of your courage.

Sir Fopling. Here was a woman yesterday—

Dorimant. Mistress Loveit.

Sir Fopling. You have named her.

Dorimant. You cannot pitch on a better for your purpose.

Sir Fopling. Prithee, what is she?

Dorimant. A person of quality, and one who has a rest of reputation enough to make the conquest considerable. Besides, I hear she likes you too.

Sir Fopling. Methought she seemed, though, very reserved and uneasy all the time I entertained her.

Dorimant. Grimace and affectation. You will see her i' th' Mall to-night.

Sir Fopling. Prithee let thee and I take the air together.

Dorimant. I am engaged to Medley, but I'll meet you at Saint James's and give you some information upon the which you may regulate your proceedings.

Sir Fopling. All the world will be in the Park to-night—Ladies, 'twere pity to keep so much beauty longer within doors and rob the Ring of all those charms that should adorn it.— Hey, page!

Enter Page

See that all my people be ready.

Page goes out again.

Dorimant, a revoir

Exit Sir Fopling.

Medley. A fine mettled coxcomb.

Dorimant. Brisk and insipid.

Medley. Pert and dull.

Emilia. However you despise him, gentlemen, I'll lay my life he passes for a wit with many.

Dorimant. That may very well be. Nature has her cheats, stums a brain, and puts sophisticate dullness often on the tasteless multitude for true wit and good-humour.— Medley, come.

Medley. I must go a little way, I will meet you i' the Mall.

Dorimant. I'll walk through the garden thither. [To the Women.] We shall meet anon and bow.

Lady Townley. Not to-night. We are engaged about a business the knowledge of which may make you laugh hereafter.

Medley. Your servant, ladies.

Dorimant. A revoir! as Sir Fopling says.

Exeunt Medley and Dorimant.

Lady Townley. The old man will be here immediately.

Emilia. Let's expect him i' th' garden.

Lady Townley. Go, you are a rogue!

Emilia. I can't abide you!

Exeunt.

« NEXT » « Act 3 » « Man Of The Mode » « Classic Works »