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The Double-Dealer by William Congreve

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LADY FROTH. That's because I have no light but what's by reflection
from you, who are the sun.

BRISK. Madam, you have eclipsed me quite, let me perish. I can't
answer that.

LADY FROTH. No matter. Hark 'ee, shall you and I make an almanac

BRISK. With all my soul. Your ladyship has made me the man in't
already, I'm so full of the wounds which you have given.

LADY FROTH. O finely taken! I swear now you are even with me. O
Parnassus, you have an infinite deal of wit.

SIR PAUL. So he has, gads-bud, and so has your ladyship.



LADY PLYANT. You tell me most surprising things; bless me, who
would ever trust a man? Oh my heart aches for fear they should be
all deceitful alike.

CARE. You need not fear, madam, you have charms to fix inconstancy

LADY PLYANT. O dear, you make me blush.

LORD FROTH. Come, my dear, shall we take leave of my lord and lady?

CYNT. They'll wait upon your lordship presently.

LADY FROTH. Mr. Brisk, my coach shall set you down.

ALL. What's the matter? [A great shriek from the corner of the


[To them] LADY TOUCHWOOD runs out affrighted, my lord after her,
like a parson.

LADY TOUCH. Oh, I'm betrayed. Save me, help me!

LORD TOUCH. Now what evasion, strumpet?

LADY TOUCH. Stand off, let me go.

LORD TOUCH. Go, and thy own infamy pursue thee. You stare as you
were all amazed,--I don't wonder at it,--but too soon you'll know
mine, and that woman's shame.

SCENE the last.

habit and pulling in MASKWELL.

MEL. Nay, by heaven you shall be seen. Careless, your hand. Do
you hold down your head? Yes, I am your chaplain, look in the face
of your injured friend; thou wonder of all falsehood.

LORD TOUCH. Are you silent, monster?

MEL. Good heavens! How I believed and loved this man! Take him
hence, for he's a disease to my sight.

LORD TOUCH. Secure that manifold villain. [Servants seize him.]

CARE. Miracle of ingratitude!

BRISK. This is all very surprising, let me perish.

LADY FROTH. You know I told you Saturn looked a little more angry
than usual.

LORD TOUCH. We'll think of punishment at leisure, but let me hasten
to do justice in rewarding virtue and wronged innocence. Nephew, I
hope I have your pardon, and Cynthia's.

MEL. We are your lordship's creatures.

LORD TOUCH. And be each other's comfort. Let me join your hands.
Unwearied nights, and wishing days attend you both; mutual love,
lasting health, and circling joys, tread round each happy year of
your long lives.

Let secret villany from hence be warned;
Howe'er in private mischiefs are conceived,
Torture and shame attend their open birth;
Like vipers in the womb, base treachery lies,
Still gnawing that, whence first it did arise;
No sooner born, but the vile parent dies.

[Exeunt Omnes.]

EPILOGUE--Spoken by Mrs. Mountford.

Could poets but foresee how plays would take,
Then they could tell what epilogues to make;
Whether to thank or blame their audience most.
But that late knowledge does much hazard cost:
Till dice are thrown, there's nothing won, nor lost.
So, till the thief has stolen, he cannot know
Whether he shall escape the law, or no.
But poets run much greater hazards far
Than they who stand their trials at the bar.
The law provides a curb for it's own fury,
And suffers judges to direct the jury:
But in this court, what difference does appear!
For every one's both judge and jury here;
Nay, and what's worse, an executioner.
All have a right and title to some part,
Each choosing that in which he has most art.
The dreadful men of learning all confound,
Unless the fable's good, and moral sound.
The vizor-masks, that are in pit and gallery,
Approve, or damn, the repartee and raillery.
The lady critics, who are better read,
Inquire if characters are nicely bred;
If the soft things are penned and spoke with grace;
They judge of action too, and time, and place;
In which we do not doubt but they're discerning,
For that's a kind of assignation learning.
Beaus judge of dress; the witlings judge of songs;
The cuckoldom, of ancient right, to cits belongs.
Thus poor poets the favour are denied
Even to make exceptions, when they're tried.
'Tis hard that they must every one admit:
Methinks I see some faces in the pit
Which must of consequence be foes to wit.
You who can judge, to sentence may proceed;
But though he cannot write, let him be freed
At least from their contempt who cannot read.

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