The scene opens with the fiddles playing a country dance.
Enter Dorimant, Lady Woodvill, Young Bellair, and Mrs. Harriet, Old Bellair, and Emilia, Mr. Medley and Lady Townley, as having just ended the dance.
Old Bellair: So, so, so! A smart bout, a very smart bout, adod!
Lady Townley: How do you like Emilia's dancing, brother?
Old Bellair: Not at all, not at all!
Lady Townley: You speak not what you think, I am sure.
Old Bellair: No matter for that; go, bid her dance no more, it don't become her, it don't become her. Tell her I say so. [Aside.] Adod, I love her.
Dorimant: [to Lady Woodvill] All people mingle nowadays, madam, and in public places women of quality have the least respect showed 'em.
Lady Woodvill: I protest you say the truth, Mr. Courtage.
Dorimant: Forms and ceremonies, the only things that uphold quality and greatness, are now shamefully laid aside and neglected.
Lady Woodvill: Well, this is not the women's age, let 'em think what they will. Lewdness is the business now, love was the business in my time.
Dorimant: The women indeed are little beholding to the young men of this age. They're generally only dull admirers of themselves, and make their court to nothing but their periwigs and their cravats, and would be more concerned for the disordering of 'em, though on a good occasion, than a young maid would be for the tumbling of her head or handkerchief.
Lady Woodvill: I protest you hit 'em.
Dorimant: They are very assiduous to show themselves at Court well dressed to the women of quality, but their business is with the stale mistresses of the town, who are prepared to receive their lazy addresses by industrious old lovers who have cast 'em off and made 'em easy.
Harriet: [to Medley] He fits my mother's humour so well, a little more and she'll dance a kissing dance with him anon.
Medley: Dutifully observed, madam.
Dorimant: They pretend to be great critics in beauty—by their talk you would think they liked no face, and yet can dote on an ill one if it belong to a laundress or a tailor's daughter. They cry a woman's past her prime at twenty, decayed at four-and-twenty, old and unsufferable at thirty.
Lady Woodvill: Unsufferable at thirty! That they are in the wrong, Mr. Courtage, at five-and-thirty there are living proofs enough to convince 'em.
Dorimant: Ay, madam, there's Mrs. Setlooks, Mrs. Droplip, and my Lady Loud. Show me among all our opening buds a face that promises so much beauty as the remains of theirs.
Lady Woodvill: The depraved appetite of this vicious age tastes nothing but green fruit, and loathes it when 'tis kindly ripened.
Dorimant: Else so many deserving women, madam, would not be so untimely neglected.
Lady Woodvill: I protest, Mr. Courtage, a dozen such good men as you would be enough to atone for that wicked Dorimant and all the under-debauchees of the town.
Harriet, Emilia, Young Bellair, Medley, and Lady Townley break out into laughter.
What's the matter there?
Medley: A pleasant mistake, madam, that a lady has made, occasions a little laughter.
Old Bellair: [to Dorimant and Lady Woodvill] Come, come, you keep 'em idle, they are impatient till the fiddles play again.
Dorimant: You are not weary, madam?
Lady Woodvill: One dance more. I cannot refuse you, Mr. Courtage.
They dance. After the dance Old Bellair singing and dancing up to Emilia.
Emilia: You are very active, sir.
Old Bellair: Adod, sirrah, when I was a young fellow I could had capered up to my woman's gorget (1).
Dorimant: [to Lady Woodvill] You are willing to rest yourself, madam?
Lady Townley: [toDorimant and Lady Woodvill] We'll walk into my chamber and sit down.
Medley: Leave us Mr. Courtage, he's a dancer, and the young ladies are not weary yet.
Lady Woodvill: We'll send him out again.
Harriet: If you do not quickly, I know where to send for Mr. Dorimant.
Lady Woodvill: This girl's head, Mr. Courtage, is ever running on that wild fellow.
Dorimant: 'Tis well you have got her a good husband, madam. That will settle it.
Exeunt Lady Townley, Lady Woodvill and Dorimant.
Old Bellair: [to Emilia]. Adod, sweetheart, be advised, and do not throw thyself away on a young idle fellow.
Emilia: I have no such intention, sir.
Old Bellair: Have a little patience, thou shalt have the man I spake of. Adod, he loves thee, and will make a good husband; but no words—
Emilia: But, sir—
Old Bellair: No answer, out a pize! Peace and think on't.
Enter Dorimant .
Dorimant: Your company is desired within, sir.
Old Bellair: I go, I go! Good Mr. Courtage, fare you well. [To Emilia.] Go, I'll see you no more.
Emilia: What have I done, sir?
Old Bellair: You are ugly, you are ugly! —Is she not, Mr. Courtage?
Emilia: Better words, or I shan't abide you.
Old Bellair: Out a pize! Adod, what does she say? — Hit her a pat for me there.
Exit Old Bellair.
Medley: [To Dorimant]You have charms for the whole family.
Dorimant: You'll spoil all with some unseasonable jest, Medley.
Medley: You see I confine my tongue and am content to be a bare spectator, much contrary to my nature.
Emilia: Methinks, Mr. Dorimant, my Lady Woodvillis a little fond of you.
Dorimant: Would her daughter were.
Medley: It may be you may find her so. Try her, you have an opportunity.
Dorimant: And I will not lose it. Bellair, here's a lady has something to say to you.
Young Bellair: I wait upon her. Mr. Medley, we have both business with you.
Dorimant: Get you all together then.
He bows to Harriet she curtsies.
[To Harriet] That demure curtsey is not amiss in jest, but do not think in earnest it becomes you.
Harriet: Affectation is catching, I find. From your grave bow I got it.
Dorimant: Where had you all that scorn and coldness in your look?
Harriet: From nature, sir; pardon my want of art. I have not learnt those softnesses and languishings which now in faces are so much in fashion.
Dorimant: You need 'em not. You have a sweetness of your own, if you would but calm your frowns and let it settle.
Harriet: My eyes are wild and wandering like my passions, and cannot yet be tied to rules of charming.
Dorimant: Women, indeed, have commonly a method of managing those messengers of love. Now they will look as if they would kill, and anon they will look as if they were dying. They point and rebate their glances the better to invite us.
Harriet: I like this variety well enough, but hate the set face that always looks as it would say "Come, love me" —a woman who at plays makes the doux yeux to a whole audience and at home cannot forbear 'em to her monkey.
Dorimant: Put on a gentle smile, and let me see how well it will become you.
Harriet: I am sorry my face does not please you as it is, but I shall not be complaisant and change it.
Dorimant: Though you are obstinate, I know 'tis capable of improvement, and shall do you justice, madam, if I chance to be at Court when the critics of the circle pass their judgment; for thither you must come.
Harriet: And expect to be taken in pieces, have all my features examined, every motion censured, and on the whole be condemned to be but pretty, or a beauty of the lowest rate. What think you?
Dorimant: The women, nay, the very lovers who belong to the drawing-room—will maliciously allow you more than that. They always grant what is apparent that they may the better be believed when they name concealed faults they cannot easily be disproved in.
Harriet: Beauty runs as great a risk exposed at Court as wit does on the stage, where the ugly and the foolish all are free to censure.
Dorimant: [Aside] I love her, and dare not let her know it. I fear she has an ascendant o'er me, and may revenge the wrongs I have done her sex. [To her] Think of making a party, madam, love will engage.
Harriet: You make me start. I did not think to have heard of love from you.
Dorimant: I never knew what 'twas to have a settled ague yet, but now and then have had irregular fits.
Harriet: Take heed; sickness after long health is commonly more violent and dangerous.
Dorimant: [Aside] I have took the infection from her, and feel the disease now spreading in me. [To her] Is the name of love so frightful that you dare not stand it?
Harriet: 'Twill do little execution out of your mouth on me, I am sure.
Dorimant: It has been fatal—
Harriet: To some easy women, but we are not all born to one destiny. I was informed you use to laugh at love and not make it.
Dorimant: The time has been, but now I must speak.
Harriet: If it be on that idle subject, I will put on my serious look, turn my head carelessly from you, drop my lip, let my eyelids fall and hang half o'er my eyes—thus, while you buzz a speech of an hour long in my ear, and I answer never a word. Why do you not begin?
Dorimant: That the company may take notice how passionately I make advances of love, and how disdainfully you receive 'em.
Harriet: When your love's grown strong enough to make you bear being laughed at, I'll give you leave to trouble me with it. Till when, pray forbear, sir.
Enter Sir FOPLING and others in masks .
Dorimant: What's here— masquerades?
Harriet: I thought that foppery had been left off and people might have been in private with a fiddle.
Dorimant: 'Tis endeavoured to be kept on foot still by some who find themselves the more acceptable the less they are known.
Young Bellair: This must be Sir Fopling.
Medley: That extraordinary habit shows it.
Young Bellair: What are the rest?
Medley: A company of French rascals whom he picked up in Paris and has brought over to be his dancing equipage on these occasions. Make him own himself; a fool is very troublesome when he presumes he is incognito.
Sir Fopling: [to Harriet] Do you know me?
Harriet: Ten to one but I guess at you.
Sir Fopling: Are you women as fond of a vizard as we men are?
Harriet: I am very fond of a vizard that covers a face I do not like, sir.
Young Bellair: Here are no masks, you see, sir, but those which came with you. This was intended a private meeting, but because you look like a gentleman, if you discover yourself, and we know you to be such, you shall be welcome.
Sir Fopling: [pulling off his mask] Dear Bellair.
Medley: Sir Fopling! How came you hither?
Sir Fopling: Faith, I was coming late from Whitehall, after the King's couchée, one of my people told me he had heard fiddles at my Lady Townley's, and—
Dorimant: You need not say any more, sir.
Sir Fopling: Dorimant, let me kiss thee.
Dorimant: Hark you, Sir Fopling—
Sir Fopling: Enough, enough, Courtage. — [Glancing at Harriet] A pretty kind of young woman that, Medley. I observed her in the Mall, more eveliè than our English women commonly are. Prithee, what is she?
Medley: The most noted coquetté in town; beware of her.
Sir Fopling: Let her be what she will, I know how to take my measures. In Paris the mode is to flatter the prudè, laugh at the faux-prudè, make serious love to the demi-prudè, and only rally with the coquetté. Medley, what think you?
Medley: That for all this smattering of the mathematics, you may be out in your judgment at tennis.
Sir Fopling: What a coq-à-l'âne is this! I talk of women, and thou answer'st tennis.
Medley: Mistakes will be for want of apprehension.
Sir Fopling: I am very glad of the acquaintance I have with this family.
Medley: My lady truly is a good woman.
Sir Fopling: Ah, Dorimant—Courtage I would say—would thou hadst spent the last winter in Paris with me. When thou wert there, La Corneus and Sallyes were the only habitudes we had; a comedian would have been a bonne fortune. No stranger ever passed his time so well as I did some months before I came over. I was well received in a dozen families where all the women of quality used to visit; I have intrigues to tell thee more pleasant than ever thou read'st in a novel.
Harriet: Write 'em, sir, and oblige us women. Our language wants such little stories.
Sir Fopling: Writing, madam, is a mechanic part of wit. A gentleman should never go beyond a song or a billet.
Harriet: Bussy was a gentleman.
Sir Fopling: Who, d'Ambois?
Medley: [Aside] Was there ever such a brisk blockhead?
Harriet: Not d'Ambois, sir, but Rabutin: he who writ The Loves of France.
Sir Fopling: That may be madam: many gentlemen do things that are below 'em. — Damn your authors, Courtage; women are the prettiest things we can fool away our time with.
Harriet: I hope ye have wearied yourself to-night at Court sir, and will not think of fooling with anybody here.
Sir Fopling: I cannot complain of my fortune there, madam—Dorimant—
Sir Fopling: Courtage, a pox on't! I have something to tell thee. When I had made my court within, I came out and flung myself upon the mat under the state i' th' outward room i' th' midst of half a dozen beauties who were withdrawn to jeer among themselves, as they called it.
Dorimant: Did you know 'em?
Sir Fopling: Not one of 'em by heavens, not I! But they were all your friends.
Dorimant: How are you sure of that?
Sir Fopling: Why we laughed at all the town— spared nobody but yourself. They found me a man for their purpose.
Dorimant: I know you are malicious to your power.
Sir Fopling: And faith I had occasion to show it for I never saw more gaping fools at a ball or on a Birthday.
Dorimant: You learned who the women were?
Sir Fopling: No matter; they frequent the drawing-room.
Dorimant: And entertain themselves pleasantly at the expense of all the fops who come there.
Sir Fopling: That's their business; faith, I sifted 'em, and find they have a sort of wit among them.
Pinches a tallow candle
Dorimant: Look, he has been pinching the tallow candle.
Sir Fopling: How can you breathe in a room where there's grease frying? Dorimant, thou art intimate with my lady, advise her for her own sake, and the good company that comes hither, to burn wax lights.
Harriet: What are these masquerades who stand so obsequiously at a distance?
Sir Fopling: A set of balladines whom I picked out of the best in France, and brought over with a flute douce or two — my servants. They shall entertain you.
Harriet: I had rather see you dance yourself, Sir Fopling.
Sir Fopling: And I had rather do it—all the company knows it. But, madam—
Medley: Come, come, no excuses, Sir Fopling!
Sir Fopling: By heavens, Medley —
Medley: Like a woman, I find you must be struggled with before one brings you to what you desire.
Harriet: [Aside] Can he dance?
Emilia: And fence and sing too, if you'll believe him.
Dorimant: He has no more excellence in his heels than in his head. He went to Paris a plain bashful English blockhead, and is returned a fine undertaking French fop.
Medley: [to Harriet] I cannot prevail.
Sir Fopling: Do not think it want of complaisance, madam.
Harriet: You are too well bred to want that, Sir Fopling. I believe it want of power.
Sir Fopling: By heavens, and so it is! I have sat up so damned late and drunk so cursed hard since I came to this lewd town, that I am fit for nothing but low dancing now — a courant, a bourrée, or a menuet. But St. André tells me, if I will but be regular, in one month I shall rise again.
Endeavours at a caper.
Pox on this debauchery!
Emilia: I have heard your dancing much commended.
Sir Fopling: It had the good fortune to please in Paris. I was judged to rise within an inch as high as the basqué, in an entry I danced there.
Harriet: [to Emilia] I am mightily taken with this fool; let us sit. — Here's a seat, Sir Fopling.
Sir Fopling: At your feet, madam. I can be nowhere so much at ease—By your leave, gown.
Harriet and Emilia : Ah, you'll spoil it!
Sir Fopling: No matter, my clothes are my creatures. I make 'em to make my court to you ladies.—Hey, qu'on commencè!
To an English dancer English motions. I was forced to entertain this fellow [pointing to John Trott] , one of my set miscarrying.—Oh, horrid! leave your damned manner of dancing, and put on the French air. Have you not a pattern before you? — Pretty well! Imitation in time may bring him to something.
After the dance enter Old Bellair, Lady Woodvill and Lady Townley .
Old Bellair: Hey, adod! what have we here, a mumming?
Lady Woodvill: Where's my daughter?—Harriet?
Dorimant: Here, here, madam. I know not but under these disguises there may be dangerous sparks. I gave the young lady warning.
Lady Woodvill: Lord, I am so obliged to you, Mr. Courtage.
Harriet: Lord, how you admire this man!
Lady Woodvill: What have you to except against him?
Harriet: He's a fop.
Lady Woodvill: He's not a Dorimant, a wild extravagant fellow of the times.
Harriet: He's a man made up of forms and common places sucked out of the remaining lees of the last age.
Lady Woodvill: He's so good a man, that were you not engaged—
Lady Townley: You'll have but little night to sleep in.
Lady Woodvill: Lord, 'tis perfect day!
Dorimant: [aside] The hour is almost come I appointed Bellinda, and I am not so foppishly in love here to forget. I am flesh and blood yet.
Lady Townley: I am very sensible, madam.
Lady Woodvill: Lord, madam—
Harriet: Look, in what struggle is my poor mother yonder?
Young Bellair: She has much ado to bring out the compliment.
Dorimant: She strains hard for it.
Harriet: See, see—her head tottering, her eyes staring, and her under lip trembling
Dorimant: Now, now she's in the very convulsions of her civility. [aside] 'Sdeath, I shall lose Bellinda. I must fright her hence. She'll be an hour in this fit of good manners else. [To Lady Woodvill] Do you not know Sir Fopling, madam?
Lady Woodvill: I have seen that face Oh, heaven! 'tis the same we met in the Mall! How came he here?
Dorimant: A fiddle in this town is a kind of fop-call. No sooner it strikes up but the house is besieged with an army of masquerades straight.
Lady Woodvill: Lord, I tremble, Mr. Courtage. For certain Dorimant is in the company.
Dorimant: I cannot confidently say he is not. You had best begone; I will wait upon you. Your daughter is in the hands of Mr. Bellair.
Lady Woodvill: I'll see her before me. — Harriet, come away!
Exeunt Lady Woodvill and Harriet.
Young Bellair: Lights, lights!
Lady Townley: Light down there!
Old Bellair: Adod, it needs not—
Exeunt Lady Townley and Young Bellair.
Dorimant: [Calling to the servants outside] Call my Lady Woodvill's coach to the door! Quickly!
Exeunt Dorimant .
Old Bellair: Stay, Mr. Medley, let the young fellows do that duty. We will drink a glass of wine together. 'Tis good after dancing. [looks at Sir Fopling] What mumming spark is that?
Medley: He is not to be comprehended in few words.
Sir Fopling: Hey, La Tour!
Medley: Whither away, Sir Fopling?
Sir Fopling: I have business with Courtage.
Medley: He'll but put the ladies into their coach, and come up again.
Old Bellair: In the meantime I'll call for a bottle.
Exit Old Bellair.
Enter Young Bellair
Medley: Where's Dorimant?
Young Bellair: Stolen home. He has had business waiting for him there all this night, I believe, by an impatience I observed in him.
Medley: Very likely. 'Tis but dissembling drunkenness, railing at his friends, and the kind soul will embrace the blessing and forget the tedious expectation.
Sir Fopling: I must speak with him before I sleep.
Young Bellair: [to Medley] Emilia and I are resolved on that business.
Medley: Peace, here's your father.
Enter Old Bellair and Butler, with a bottle of wine
Old Bellair: The women are all gone to bed. Fill, boy! —Mr. Medley, begin a health.
Medley: [whispers] To Emilia.
Old Bellair: Out, a pize! she's a rogue, and I'll not pledge you.
Medley: I know you will.
Old Bellair: Adod, drink it then.
Sir Fopling: Let us have the new bachique.
Old Bellair: Adod, that is a hard word! What does it mean, sir?
Medley: A catch or drinking song.
Old Bellair: Let us have it then.
Sir Fopling: Fill the glasses round, and draw up in a body. —Hey! music!
The pleasures of love and the joys of good wine,
To perfect our happiness wisely we join.
We to beauty all day
Give the sovereign sway
And her favourite nymphs devoutly obey;
At the plays we are constantly making our court,
And when they are ended we follow the sport
To the Mall and the Park,
Where we love till 'tis dark.
Then sparkling champagne
Puts an end to their reign;
It quickly recovers
Poor languishing lovers,
Makes us frolic and gay, and drowns all our sorrow;
But, alas! we relapse again on the morrow.
Let ev'ry man stand
With his glass in his hand,
And briskly discharge at the word of command.
Here's a health to all those
Whom to-night we depose.
Wine and beauty by turns great souls should inspire;
Present altogether, and now, boys, give fire!
Old Bellair: Adod, a pretty business, and very merry.
Sir Fopling: Hark you, Medley, let you and I take the fiddles, and go waken Dorimant.
Medley: We shall do him a courtesy, if it be as I guess. For after the fatigue of this night, he'll quickly have his bellyful, and be glad of an occasion to cry, "Take away, Handy!"
Young Bellair: I'll go with you, and there we'll consult about affairs, Medley.
Old Bellair: [looks at his watch] Adod, 'tis six o'clock!
Sir Fopling: Let's away then.
Old Bellair: Mr. Medley, my sister tells me you are an honest man, and, adod, I love you. —Few words and hearty, that's the way with old Harry, old Harry.
Sir Fopling: Light your flambeaux! Hey!
Old Bellair: What does the man mean?
Medley: 'Tis day, Sir Fopling.
Sir Fopling: No matter; our serenade will look the greater.
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