Enter Mistress Loveit and Pert her woman.
Pert. Well, in my eyes Sir Fopling is no such despicable person.
Mrs Loveit. You are an excellent judge!
Pert. He's as handsome a man as Mr. Dorimant, and as great a gallant.
Mrs Loveit. Intolerable! is't not enough I submit to his impertinences, but I must be plagued with yours too?
Pert. Indeed, madam—
Mrs Loveit. 'Tis false, mercenary malice—
Enter her Footman .
Footman. Mrs. Belinda, madam
Mrs Loveit. What of her?
Footman. She's below.
Mrs Loveit. How came she?
Footman. In a chair; ambling Harry brought her.
Mrs Loveit.[aside] He bring her! His chair stands near Dorimant's door, and always brings me from thence—Run and ask him where he took her up. Go!
There is no truth in friendship neither. Women as well as men, are all false, or all are so to me at least.
Pert. You are jealous of her too?
Mrs Loveit. You had best tell her I am. 'Twill become the liberty you take of late.[aside] This fellow's bringing of her, her going out by five o'clock—I know not what to think.
Enter Bellinda .
Belinda, you are grown an early riser, I hear.
Bellinda. Do you not wonder, my dear, what made me abroad so soon?
Mrs Loveit. You do not use to be so.
Bellinda. The country gentlewomen I told you of—Lord! they have the oddest diversions!—would never let me rest till I promised to go with them to the markets this morning to eat fruit and buy nosegays.
Mrs Loveit. Are they so fond of a filthy nosegay?
Bellinda. They complain of the stinks of the town, and are never well but when they have their noses in one.
Mrs Loveit. There are essences and sweet waters.
Bellinda. Oh! they cry out upon perfumes they are unwholesome, one of 'em was falling into a fit with the smell of these narolii
Mrs Loveit. Methinks, in complaisance you should have had a nosegay too.
Bellinda. Do you think, my dear, I could be so loathsome to trick myself up with carnations and stock gillyflowers? I begged their pardon, and told them I never wore anything but orange flowers and tuberose. That which made me willing to go was a strange desire I had to eat some fresh nectarines.
Mrs Loveit. And had you any?
Bellinda. The best I ever tasted.
Mrs Loveit. Whence came you now?
Bellinda. From their lodgings, where I crowded out of a coach, and took a chair to come and see you, my dear.
Mrs Loveit. Whither did you send for that chair?
Bellinda. 'Twas going by empty.
Mrs Loveit. Where do these country gentlewomen lodge, I pray?
Bellinda. In the Strand, over against the Exchange.
Pert. That place is never without a nest of 'em. They are always as one goes by fleering in balconies or staring out of windows.
Mrs Loveit. [whispers to the Footman] Come hither.
Bellinda. [aside] This fellow by her order has been questioning the chairmen. I threatened 'em with the name of Dorimant. If they should have told truth I am lost for ever.
Mrs Loveit. In the Strand, said you?
Footman. Yes, madam, over against the Exchange.
Mrs Loveit. She's innocent, and I am much to blame.
Bellinda. [aside] I am so frighted my countenance will betray me.
Mrs Loveit.Belinda, what makes you look so pale?
Bellinda.Want of my usual rest, and jolting up and down so long in an odious hackney.
Enter Footman .
Footman. Madam, Mr. Dorimant.
Mrs Loveit. What makes him here?
Bellinda. [aside] Then I am betrayed indeed. He's broke his word, and I love a man that does not care for me.
Mrs Loveit. Lord, you faint, Belinda.
Bellinda. I think I shall—such an oppression here on the sudden.
Pert.She has eaten too much fruit, I warrant you.
Mrs Loveit.Not unlikely!
Pert.'Tis that lies heavy on her stomach.
Mrs Loveit. Have her into my chamber, give her some surfeit water, and let her lie down a little.
Pert. Come, madam, I was a strange devourer of fruit when I was young—so ravenous.
Exeunt Bellinda, Pert leading her off.
Mrs Loveit. Oh, that my love would be but calm awhile, that I might receive this man with all the scorn and indignation he deserves!
Enter Dorimant .
Dorimant. Now for a touch of Sir Fopling to begin with. —Hey page! Give positive order that none of my people stir. Let the canaille wait as they should do — Since noise and nonsense have such powerful charms,
"I, that I may successful prove,
Transform myself to what you love." (1)
Mrs Loveit. If that would do, you need not change from what you are; you can be vain and loud enough.
Dorimant. But not with so good a grace as Sir Fopling. Hey, Hampshire!-Oh! that sound! that sound becomes the mouth of a man of quality.
Mrs Loveit. Is there a thing so hateful as a senseless mimic?
Dorimant. He's a great grievance indeed to all who like yourself, madam, love to play the fool in quiet.
Mrs Loveit. A ridiculous animal who has more of the ape than the ape has of the man in him.
Dorimant. I have as mean an opinion of a sheer mimic as yourself; yet were he all ape I should prefer him to the gay, the giddy, brisk, insipid, noisy fool you dote on.
Mrs Loveit. Those noisy fools, however you despise 'em, have good qualities, which weigh more (or ought at least) with us women than all the pernicious wit you have to boast of.
Dorimant. That I may hereafter have a just value for their merit, pray do me the favour to name 'em.
Mrs Loveit. You'll despise 'em as the dull effects of ignorance and vanity, yet I care not if I mention some. First, they really admire us, while you at best but flatter us well.
Dorimant. Take heed! fools can dissemble too.
Mrs Loveit. They may—but not so artificially as you. There is no fear they should deceive us. Then they are assiduous, sir. They are ever offering us their service, and always waiting on our will.
Dorimant. You owe that to their excessive idleness. They know not how to entertain themselves at home, and find so little welcome abroad, they are fain to fly to you who countenance 'em as a refuge against the solitude they would be otherwise condemned to.
Mrs Loveit. Their conversation too diverts us better.
Dorimant. Playing with your fan, smelling to your gloves, commending your hair, and taking notice how 'tis cut and shaded after the new way—
Mrs Loveit. Were it sillier than you can make it, you must allow 'tis pleasanter to laugh at others than to be laughed at ourselves, though never so wittily. Then though they want skill to flatter us, they flatter themselves so well they save us the labour. We need not take that care and pains to satisfy 'em of our love, which we so often lose on you.
Dorimant. They commonly indeed believe too well of themselves—and always better of you than you deserve.
Mrs Loveit. You are in the right: they have an implicit faith in us which keeps 'em from prying narrowly into our secrets, and saves us the vexatious trouble of clearing doubts which your subtle and causeless jealousies every moment raise.
Dorimant. There is an inbred falsehood in women which inclines 'em still to them whom they may most easily deceive.
Mrs Loveit. The man who loves above his quality does not suffer more from the insolent impertinence of his mistress than the woman who loves above her understanding does from the arrogant presumptions of her friend.
Dorimant. You mistake the use of fools: they are designed for properties, and not for friends. You have an indifferent stock of reputation left yet. Lose it all like a frank gamester on the square. 'Twill then be time enough to turn rook and cheat it up again on a good substantial bubble.
Mrs Loveit. The old and the ill-favoured are only fit for properties indeed, but young and handsome fools have met with kinder fortunes.
Dorimant. They have, to the shame of your sex be it spoken. 'Twas this, the thought of this, made me, by a timely jealousy, endeavour to prevent the good fortune you are providing for Sir Fopling-but against a woman's frailty all our care is vain.
Mrs Loveit. Had I not with a dear experience bought the knowledge of your falsehood, you might have fooled me yet. This is not the first jealousy you have feigned to make a quarrel with me and get a week to throw away on some such unknown inconsiderable slut as you have been lately lurking with at plays.
Dorimant. Women, when they would break off with a man, never want th' address to turn the fault on him.
Mrs Loveit. You take a pride of late in using of me ill, that the town may know the power you have over me, which now (as unreasonably as yourself) expects that I (do me all the injuries you can) must love you still.
Dorimant. I am so far from expecting that you should, I begin to think you never did love me.
Mrs Loveit. Would the memory of it were so wholly worn out in me that I did doubt it too! What made you come to disturb my growing quiet?
Dorimant. To give you joy of your growing infamy.
Mrs Loveit. Insupportable! insulting devil! this from you, the only author of my shame! This from another had been but justice, but from you 'tis a hellish and inhuman outrage. What have I done?
Dorimant. A thing that puts you below my scorn and makes my anger as ridiculous as you have made my love.
Mrs Loveit. I walked last night with Sir Fopling.
Dorimant. You did, madam, and you talked and laughed aloud, ha, ha, ha!-Oh! that laugh! that laugh becomes the confidence of a woman of quality.
Mrs Loveit. You, who have more pleasure in the ruin of a woman's reputation than in the endearments of her love, reproach me not with yourself, and I defy you to name the man can lay a blemish on my fame.
Dorimant. To be seen publicly so transported with the vain follies of that notorious fop, to me is an infamy below the sin of prostitution with another man.
Mrs Loveit. Rail on! I am satisfied in the justice of what I did: you had provoked me to't.
Dorimant. What I did was the effect of a passion whose extravagances you have been willing to forgive.
Mrs Loveit. And what I did was the effect of a passion you may forgive if you think fit.
Dorimant. Are you so indifferent grown?
Mrs Loveit. I am.
Dorimant. Nay, then 'tis time to part. I'll send you back your letters you have so often asked for. [looks in his pockets] I have two or three of 'em about me.
Mrs Loveit. Give 'em me.
Dorimant. You snatch as if you thought I would not.
Gives her the letters.
There. And may the perjuries in 'em be mine if e'er I see you more.
Offers to go, she catches him.
Mrs Loveit. Stay!
Dorimant. I will not.
Mrs Loveit. You shall!
Dorimant. What have you to say?
Mrs Loveit. I cannot speak it yet.
Dorimant. Something more in commendation of the fool. Death, I want patience! Let me go.
Mrs Loveit. [aside] I cannot. I can sooner part with the limbs that hold him. —I hate that nauseous fool, you know I do.
Dorimant. Was it the scandal you were fond of then?
Mrs Loveit. You'd raised my anger equal to my love, a thing you ne'er could do before, and in revenge I did—I know not what I did. Would you would not think on't any more!
Dorimant. Should I be willing to forget it, I shall be daily minded of it. 'Twill be a commonplace for all the town to laugh at me, and Medley, when he is rhetorically drunk, will ever be declaiming on it in my ears.
Mrs Loveit. 'Twill be believed a jealous spite. Come, forget it.
Dorimant. Let me consult my reputation; you are too careless of it [pauses] You shall meet Sir Fopling in the Mall again tonight.
Mrs Loveit. What mean you?
Dorimant. I have thought on't, and you must. 'Tis necessary to justify my love to the world. You can handle a coxcomb as he deserves when you are not out of humour, madam.
Mrs Loveit. Public satisfaction for the wrong I have done you? This is some new device to make me more ridiculous.
Dorimant. Hear me.
Mrs Loveit. I will not.
Dorimant. You will be persuaded.
Mrs Loveit. Never!
Dorimant. Are you so obstinate?
Mrs Loveit. Are you so base?
Dorimant. You will not satisfy my love?
Mrs Loveit. I would die to satisfy that, but I will not to save you from a thousand racks do a shameless thing to please your vanity.
Dorimant. Farewell, false woman.
Mrs Loveit. Do! Go!
Dorimant. You will call me back again.
Mrs Loveit. Exquisite fiend! I knew you came but to torment me.
Enter Belinda and Pert .
Dorimant. [surprised] Belinda here!
Bellinda. [aside] He starts and looks pale. The sight of me has touched his guilty soul.
Pert. 'Twas but a qualm, as I said, a little indigestion. The surfeit water did it, madam, mixed with a little mirabilis.
Dorimant.[aside] I am confounded, and cannot guess how she came hither.
Mrs Loveit. 'Tis your fortune, Belinda, ever to be here when I am abused by this prodigy of ill-nature.
Bellinda. I am amazed to find him here. How has he the face to come near you?
Dorimant. [aside] Here is a fine work towards! I never was at such a loss before.
Bellinda. One who makes a public profession of breach of faith and ingratitude—I loathe the sight of him.
Dorimant. [aside] There is no remedy. I must submit to their tongues now, and some other time bring myself off as well as I can.
Bellinda. Other men are wicked, but then they have some sense of shame. He is never well but when he triumphs—nay, glories—to a woman's face in his villainies.
Mrs Loveit. You are in the right, Belinda; but methinks your kindness for me makes you concern yourself too much with him.
Bellinda. It does indeed, my dear. His barbarous carriage to you yesterday made me hope you ne'er would see him more, and the very next day to find him here again provokes me strangely. But, because I know you love him, I have done.
Dorimant. You have reproached me handsomely, and I deserve it for coming hither; but—
Pert. You must expect it, sir. All women will hate you for my lady's sake.
Dorimant. [aside] Nay, if she begins too, 'tis time to fly. I shall be scolded to death else.[to Bellinda] I am to blame in some circumstances, I confess; but as to the main, I am not so guilty as you imagine. [Aloud] I shall seek a more convenient time to clear myself.
Mrs Loveit. Do it now! What impediments are here?
Dorimant. I want time, and you want temper.
Mrs Loveit. These are weak pretences.
Dorimant. You were never more mistaken in your life, and so farewell.
DORIMANT flings off.
Mrs Loveit. Call a footman, Pert. quickly! I will have him dogged.
Pert. I wish you would not for my quiet and your own.
Mrs Loveit. I'll find out the infamous cause of all our quarrels, pluck her mask off, and expose her barefaced to the world!
Bellinda. [aside] Let me but escape this time I'll never venture more.
Mrs Loveit. Belinda, you shall go with me.
Bellinda. I have such a heaviness hangs on me with what I did this morning, I would fain go home and sleep, my dear.
Mrs Loveit. Death and eternal darkness! I shall never sleep again. Raging fevers seize the world, and make mankind as restless all as I am!
Exit Mrs Loveit
Bellinda. I knew him false, and helped to make him so. Was not her ruin enough to fright me from the danger? It should have been, but love can take no warning.