Love for Love by William Congreve

Prepared by David Price, email LOVE FOR LOVE–A COMEDY Nudus agris, nudus nummis paternis, Insanire parat certa ratione modoque. – HOR. TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE CHARLES, EARL OF DORSET AND MIDDLESEX, LORD CHAMBERLAIN OF HIS MAJESTY’S HOUSEHOLD, AND KNIGHT OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, ETC. My Lord,–A young poet is liable
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Prepared by David Price, email


Nudus agris, nudus nummis paternis,
Insanire parat certa ratione modoque.

– HOR.


My Lord,–A young poet is liable to the same vanity and indiscretion with a young lover; and the great man who smiles upon one, and the fine woman who looks kindly upon t’other, are both of ’em in danger of having the favour published with the first opportunity.

But there may be a different motive, which will a little distinguish the offenders. For though one should have a vanity in ruining another’s reputation, yet the other may only have an ambition to advance his own. And I beg leave, my lord, that I may plead the latter, both as the cause and excuse of this dedication.

Whoever is king is also the father of his country; and as nobody can dispute your lordship’s monarchy in poetry, so all that are concerned ought to acknowledge your universal patronage. And it is only presuming on the privilege of a loyal subject that I have ventured to make this, my address of thanks, to your lordship, which at the same time includes a prayer for your protection.

I am not ignorant of the common form of poetical dedications, which are generally made up of panegyrics, where the authors endeavour to distinguish their patrons, by the shining characters they give them, above other men. But that, my lord, is not my business at this time, nor is your lordship NOW to be distinguished. I am contented with the honour I do myself in this epistle without the vanity of attempting to add to or explain your Lordships character.

I confess it is not without some struggling that I behave myself in this case as I ought: for it is very hard to be pleased with a subject, and yet forbear it. But I choose rather to follow Pliny’s precept, than his example, when, in his panegyric to the Emperor Trajan, he says:-

Nec minus considerabo quid aures ejus pati possint, quam quid virtutibus debeatur.

I hope I may be excused the pedantry of a quotation when it is so justly applied. Here are some lines in the print (and which your lordship read before this play was acted) that were omitted on the stage; and particularly one whole scene in the third act, which not only helps the design forward with less precipitation, but also heightens the ridiculous character of Foresight, which indeed seems to be maimed without it. But I found myself in great danger of a long play, and was glad to help it where I could. Though notwithstanding my care and the kind reception it had from the town, I could heartily wish it yet shorter: but the number of different characters represented in it would have been too much crowded in less room.

This reflection on prolixity (a fault for which scarce any one beauty will atone) warns me not to be tedious now, and detain your lordship any longer with the trifles of, my lord, your lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant,


PROLOGUE. Spoken, at the opening of the new house, by Mr Betterton.

The husbandman in vain renews his toil To cultivate each year a hungry soil;
And fondly hopes for rich and generous fruit, When what should feed the tree devours the root; Th’ unladen boughs, he sees, bode certain dearth, Unless transplanted to more kindly earth. So the poor husbands of the stage, who found Their labours lost upon ungrateful ground, This last and only remedy have proved,
And hope new fruit from ancient stocks removed. Well may they hope, when you so kindly aid, Well plant a soil which you so rich have made. As Nature gave the world to man’s first age, So from your bounty, we receive this stage; The freedom man was born to, you’ve restored, And to our world such plenty you afford, It seems like Eden, fruitful of its own accord. But since in Paradise frail flesh gave way, And when but two were made, both went astray; Forbear your wonder, and the fault forgive, If in our larger family we grieve
One falling Adam and one tempted Eve. We who remain would gratefully repay
What our endeavours can, and bring this day The first-fruit offering of a virgin play. We hope there’s something that may please each taste, And though of homely fare we make the feast, Yet you will find variety at least.
There’s humour, which for cheerful friends we got, And for the thinking party there’s a plot. We’ve something, too, to gratify ill-nature, (If there be any here), and that is satire. Though satire scarce dares grin, ’tis grown so mild Or only shows its teeth, as if it smiled. As asses thistles, poets mumble wit,
And dare not bite for fear of being bit: They hold their pens, as swords are held by fools, And are afraid to use their own edge-tools. Since the Plain-Dealer’s scenes of manly rage, Not one has dared to lash this crying age. This time, the poet owns the bold essay, Yet hopes there’s no ill-manners in his play; And he declares, by me, he has designed
Affront to none, but frankly speaks his mind. And should th’ ensuing scenes not chance to hit, He offers but this one excuse, ’twas writ Before your late encouragement of wit.

EPILOGUE. Spoken, at the opening of the new house, by Mrs Bracegirdle.

Sure Providence at first designed this place To be the player’s refuge in distress;
For still in every storm they all run hither, As to a shed that shields ’em from the weather. But thinking of this change which last befel us, It’s like what I have heard our poets tell us: For when behind our scenes their suits are pleading, To help their love, sometimes they show their reading; And, wanting ready cash to pay for hearts, They top their learning on us, and their parts. Once of philosophers they told us stories, Whom, as I think, they called–Py–Pythagories, I’m sure ’tis some such Latin name they give ’em, And we, who know no better, must believe ’em. Now to these men, say they, such souls were given, That after death ne’er went to hell nor heaven, But lived, I know not how, in beasts; and then When many years were past, in men again. Methinks, we players resemble such a soul, That does from bodies, we from houses stroll. Thus Aristotle’s soul, of old that was,
May now be damned to animate an ass, Or in this very house, for ought we know, Is doing painful penance in some beau;
And thus our audience, which did once resort To shining theatres to see our sport,
Now find us tossed into a tennis-court. These walls but t’other day were filled with noise Of roaring gamesters and your dam’me boys; Then bounding balls and rackets they encompast, And now they’re filled with jests, and flights, and bombast! I vow, I don’t much like this transmigration, Strolling from place to place by circulation; Grant heaven, we don’t return to our first station! I know not what these think, but for my part I can’t reflect without an aching heart, How we should end in our original, a cart. But we can’t fear, since you’re so good to save us, That you have only set us up, to leave us. Thus from the past we hope for future grace, I beg it –
And some here know I have a begging face. Then pray continue this your kind behaviour, For a clear stage won’t do, without your favour.



SIR SAMPSON LEGEND, father to Valentine and Ben,–Mr Underhill. VALENTINE, fallen under his father’s displeasure by his expensive way of living, in love with Angelica,–Mr Betterton. SCANDAL, his friend, a free speaker,–Mr Smith. TATTLE, a half-witted beau, vain of his amours, yet valuing himself for secrecy,–Mr Bowman.
BEN, Sir Sampson’s younger son, half home-bred and half sea-bred, designed to marry Miss Prue,–Mr Dogget. FORESIGHT, an illiterate old fellow, peevish and positive, superstitious, and pretending to understand astrology, palmistry, physiognomy, omens, dreams, etc; uncle to Angelica,–Mr Sanford. JEREMY, servant to Valentine,–Mr Bowen. TRAPLAND, a scrivener,–Mr Triffusis.
BUCKRAM, a lawyer,–Mr Freeman.


ANGELICA, niece to Foresight, of a considerable fortune in her own hands,–Mrs Bracegirdle.
MRS FORESIGHT, second wife to Foresight,–Mrs Bowman. MRS FRAIL, sister to Mrs Foresight, a woman of the town,–Mrs Barry. MISS PRUE, daughter to Foresight by a former wife, a silly, awkward country girl,–Mrs Ayliff.
NURSE to MISS,–Mrs Leigh.
JENNY,–Mrs Lawson.


The Scene in London.


VALENTINE in his chamber reading. JEREMY waiting.

Several books upon the table.

VAL. Jeremy.

JERE. Sir?

VAL. Here, take away. I’ll walk a turn and digest what I have read.

JERE. You’ll grow devilish fat upon this paper diet. [Aside, and taking away the books.]

VAL. And d’ye hear, go you to breakfast. There’s a page doubled down in Epictetus, that is a feast for an emperor.

JERE. Was Epictetus a real cook, or did he only write receipts?

VAL. Read, read, sirrah, and refine your appetite; learn to live upon instruction; feast your mind and mortify your flesh; read, and take your nourishment in at your eyes; shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of understanding. So Epictetus advises.

JERE. O Lord! I have heard much of him, when I waited upon a gentleman at Cambridge. Pray what was that Epictetus?

VAL. A very rich man.–Not worth a groat.

JERE. Humph, and so he has made a very fine feast, where there is nothing to be eaten?

VAL. Yes.

JERE. Sir, you’re a gentleman, and probably understand this fine feeding: but if you please, I had rather be at board wages. Does your Epictetus, or your Seneca here, or any of these poor rich rogues, teach you how to pay your debts without money? Will they shut up the mouths of your creditors? Will Plato be bail for you? Or Diogenes, because he understands confinement, and lived in a tub, go to prison for you? ‘Slife, sir, what do you mean, to mew yourself up here with three or four musty books, in commendation of starving and poverty?

VAL. Why, sirrah, I have no money, you know it; and therefore resolve to rail at all that have. And in that I but follow the examples of the wisest and wittiest men in all ages, these poets and philosophers whom you naturally hate, for just such another reason; because they abound in sense, and you are a fool.

JERE. Ay, sir, I am a fool, I know it: and yet, heaven help me, I’m poor enough to be a wit. But I was always a fool when I told you what your expenses would bring you to; your coaches and your liveries; your treats and your balls; your being in love with a lady that did not care a farthing for you in your prosperity; and keeping company with wits that cared for nothing but your prosperity; and now, when you are poor, hate you as much as they do one another.

VAL. Well, and now I am poor I have an opportunity to be revenged on them all. I’ll pursue Angelica with more love than ever, and appear more notoriously her admirer in this restraint, than when I openly rivalled the rich fops that made court to her. So shall my poverty be a mortification to her pride, and, perhaps, make her compassionate the love which has principally reduced me to this lowness of fortune. And for the wits, I’m sure I am in a condition to be even with them.

JERE. Nay, your condition is pretty even with theirs, that’s the truth on’t.

VAL. I’ll take some of their trade out of their hands.

JERE. Now heaven of mercy continue the tax upon paper. You don’t mean to write?

VAL. Yes, I do. I’ll write a play.

JERE. Hem! Sir, if you please to give me a small certificate of three lines–only to certify those whom it may concern, that the bearer hereof, Jeremy Fetch by name, has for the space of seven years truly and faithfully served Valentine Legend, Esq., and that he is not now turned away for any misdemeanour, but does voluntarily dismiss his master from any future authority over him –

VAL. No, sirrah; you shall live with me still.

JERE. Sir, it’s impossible. I may die with you, starve with you, or be damned with your works. But to live, even three days, the life of a play, I no more expect it than to be canonised for a muse after my decease.

VAL. You are witty, you rogue. I shall want your help. I’ll have you learn to make couplets to tag the ends of acts. D’ye hear? Get the maids to Crambo in an evening, and learn the knack of rhyming: you may arrive at the height of a song sent by an unknown hand, or a chocolate-house lampoon.

JERE. But, sir, is this the way to recover your father’s favour? Why, Sir Sampson will be irreconcilable. If your younger brother should come from sea, he’d never look upon you again. You’re undone, sir; you’re ruined; you won’t have a friend left in the world if you turn poet. Ah, pox confound that Will’s coffee-house: it has ruined more young men than the Royal Oak lottery. Nothing thrives that belongs to’t. The man of the house would have been an alderman by this time, with half the trade, if he had set up in the city. For my part, I never sit at the door that I don’t get double the stomach that I do at a horse race. The air upon Banstead-Downs is nothing to it for a whetter; yet I never see it, but the spirit of famine appears to me, sometimes like a decayed porter, worn out with pimping, and carrying billet doux and songs: not like other porters, for hire, but for the jests’ sake. Now like a thin chairman, melted down to half his proportion, with carrying a poet upon tick, to visit some great fortune; and his fare to be paid him like the wages of sin, either at the day of marriage, or the day of death.

VAL. Very well, sir; can you proceed?

JERE. Sometimes like a bilked bookseller, with a meagre terrified countenance, that looks as if he had written for himself, or were resolved to turn author, and bring the rest of his brethren into the same condition. And lastly, in the form of a worn-out punk, with verses in her hand, which her vanity had preferred to settlements, without a whole tatter to her tail, but as ragged as one of the muses; or as if she were carrying her linen to the paper-mill, to be converted into folio books of warning to all young maids, not to prefer poetry to good sense, or lying in the arms of a needy wit, before the embraces of a wealthy fool.



SCAN. What, Jeremy holding forth?

VAL. The rogue has (with all the wit he could muster up) been declaiming against wit.

SCAN. Ay? Why, then, I’m afraid Jeremy has wit: for wherever it is, it’s always contriving its own ruin.

JERE. Why, so I have been telling my master, sir: Mr Scandal, for heaven’s sake, sir, try if you can dissuade him from turning poet.

SCAN. Poet! He shall turn soldier first, and rather depend upon the outside of his head than the lining. Why, what the devil, has not your poverty made you enemies enough? Must you needs shew your wit to get more?

JERE. Ay, more indeed: for who cares for anybody that has more wit than himself?

SCAN. Jeremy speaks like an oracle. Don’t you see how worthless great men and dull rich rogues avoid a witty man of small fortune? Why, he looks like a writ of enquiry into their titles and estates, and seems commissioned by heaven to seize hte better half.

VAL. Therefore I would rail in my writings, and be revenged.

SCAN. Rail? At whom? The whole world? Impotent and vain! Who would die a martyr to sense in a country where the religion is folly? You may stand at bay for a while; but when the full cry is against you, you shan’t have fair play for your life. If you can’t be fairly run down by the hounds, you will be treacherously shot by the huntsmen. No, turn pimp, flatterer, quack, lawyer, parson, be chaplain to an atheist, or stallion to an old woman, anything but poet. A modern poet is worse, more servile, timorous, and fawning, than any I have named: without you could retrieve the ancient honours of the name, recall the stage of Athens, and be allowed the force of open honest satire.

VAL. You are as inveterate against our poets as if your character had been lately exposed upon the stage. Nay, I am not violently bent upon the trade. [One knocks.] Jeremy, see who’s there. [JERE. goes to the door.] But tell me what you would have me do? What do the world say of me, and my forced confinement?

SCAN. The world behaves itself as it uses to do on such occasions; some pity you, and condemn your father; others excuse him, and blame you; only the ladies are merciful, and wish you well, since love and pleasurable expense have been your greatest faults.

VAL. How now?

JERE. Nothing new, sir; I have despatched some half a dozen duns with as much dexterity as a hungry judge does causes at dinner-time.

VAL. What answer have you given ’em?

SCAN. Patience, I suppose, the old receipt.

JERE. No, faith, sir; I have put ’em off so long with patience and forbearance, and other fair words, that I was forced now to tell ’em in plain downright English –

VAL. What?

JERE. That they should be paid.

VAL. When?

JERE. To-morrow.

VAL. And how the devil do you mean to keep your word?

JERE. Keep it? Not at all; it has been so very much stretched that I reckon it will break of course by to-morrow, and nobody be surprised at the matter. [Knocking.] Again! Sir, if you don’t like my negotiation, will you be pleased to answer these yourself?

VAL. See who they are.



VAL. By this, Scandal, you may see what it is to be great; secretaries of state, presidents of the council, and generals of an army lead just such a life as I do; have just such crowds of visitants in a morning, all soliciting of past promises; which are but a civiller sort of duns, that lay claim to voluntary debts.

SCAN. And you, like a true great man, having engaged their attendance, and promised more than ever you intended to perform, are more perplexed to find evasions than you would be to invent the honest means of keeping your word, and gratifying your creditors.

VAL. Scandal, learn to spare your friends, and do not provoke your enemies; this liberty of your tongue will one day bring a confinement on your body, my friend.



JERE. O sir, there’s Trapland the scrivener, with two suspicious fellows like lawful pads, that would knock a man down with pocket- tipstaves. And there’s your father’s steward, and the nurse with one of your children from Twitnam.

VAL. Pox on her, could she find no other time to fling my sins in my face? Here, give her this, [gives money] and bid her trouble me no more; a thoughtless two-handed whore, she knows my condition well enough, and might have overlaid the child a fortnight ago, if she had had any forecast in her.

SCAN. What, is it bouncing Margery, with my godson?

JERE. Yes, sir.

SCAN. My blessing to the boy, with this token [gives money] of my love. And d’ye hear, bid Margery put more flocks in her bed, shift twice a week, and not work so hard, that she may not smell so vigorously. I shall take the air shortly.

VAL. Scandal, don’t spoil my boy’s milk. Bid Trapland come in. If I can give that Cerberus a sop, I shall be at rest for one day.



VAL. Oh, Mr Trapland! My old friend! Welcome. Jeremy, a chair quickly: a bottle of sack and a toast–fly–a chair first.

TRAP. A good morning to you, Mr Valentine, and to you, Mr Scandal.

SCAN. The morning’s a very good morning, if you don’t spoil it.

VAL. Come, sit you down, you know his way.

TRAP. [sits.] There is a debt, Mr Valentine, of 1500 pounds of pretty long standing –

VAL. I cannot talk about business with a thirsty palate. Sirrah, the sack.

TRAP. And I desire to know what course you have taken for the payment?

VAL. Faith and troth, I am heartily glad to see you. My service to you. Fill, fill to honest Mr Trapland–fuller.

TRAP. Hold, sweetheart: this is not to our business. My service to you, Mr Scandal. [Drinks.] I have forborne as long –

VAL. T’other glass, and then we’ll talk. Fill, Jeremy.

TRAP. No more, in truth. I have forborne, I say –

VAL. Sirrah, fill when I bid you. And how does your handsome daughter? Come, a good husband to her. [Drinks.]

TRAP. Thank you. I have been out of this money –

VAL. Drink first. Scandal, why do you not drink? [They drink.]

TRAP. And, in short, I can be put off no longer.

VAL. I was much obliged to you for your supply. It did me signal service in my necessity. But you delight in doing good. Scandal, drink to me, my friend Trapland’s health. An honester man lives not, nor one more ready to serve his friend in distress: though I say it to his face. Come, fill each man his glass.

SCAN. What, I know Trapland has been a whoremaster, and loves a wench still. You never knew a whoremaster that was not an honest fellow.

TRAP. Fie, Mr Scandal, you never knew –

SCAN. What don’t I know? I know the buxom black widow in the Poultry. 800 pounds a year jointure, and 20,000 pounds in money. Aha! old Trap.

VAL. Say you so, i’faith? Come, we’ll remember the widow. I know whereabouts you are; come, to the widow –

TRAP. No more, indeed.

VAL. What, the widow’s health; give it him–off with it. [They drink.] A lovely girl, i’faith, black sparkling eyes, soft pouting ruby lips! Better sealing there than a bond for a million, ha?

TRAP. No, no, there’s no such thing; we’d better mind our business. You’re a wag.

VAL. No, faith, we’ll mind the widow’s business: fill again. Pretty round heaving breasts, a Barbary shape, and a jut with her bum would stir an anchoret: and the prettiest foot! Oh, if a man could but fasten his eyes to her feet as they steal in and out, and play at bo-peep under her petticoats, ah! Mr Trapland?

TRAP. Verily, give me a glass. You’re a wag,–and here’s to the widow. [Drinks.]

SCAN. He begins to chuckle; ply him close, or he’ll relapse into a dun.


[To them] OFFICER.

OFF. By your leave, gentlemen: Mr Trapland, if we must do our office, tell us. We have half a dozen gentlemen to arrest in Pall Mall and Covent Garden; and if we don’t make haste the chairmen will be abroad, and block up the chocolate-houses, and then our labour’s lost.

TRAP. Udso that’s true: Mr Valentine, I love mirth, but business must be done. Are you ready to –

JERE. Sir, your father’s steward says he comes to make proposals concerning your debts.

VAL. Bid him come in: Mr Trapland, send away your officer; you shall have an answer presently.

TRAP. Mr Snap, stay within call.



SCAN. Here’s a dog now, a traitor in his wine: sirrah, refund the sack.–Jeremy, fetch him some warm water, or I’ll rip up his stomach, and go the shortest way to his conscience.

TRAP. Mr Scandal, you are uncivil; I did not value your sack; but you cannot expect it again when I have drunk it.

SCAN. And how do you expect to have your money again when a gentleman has spent it?

VAL. You need say no more, I understand the conditions; they are very hard, but my necessity is very pressing: I agree to ’em. Take Mr Trapland with you, and let him draw the writing. Mr Trapland, you know this man: he shall satisfy you.

TRAP. Sincerely, I am loth to be thus pressing, but my necessity –

VAL. No apology, good Mr Scrivener, you shall be paid.

TRAP. I hope you forgive me; my business requires –



SCAN. He begs pardon like a hangman at an execution.

VAL. But I have got a reprieve.

SCAN. I am surprised; what, does your father relent?

VAL. No; he has sent me the hardest conditions in the world. You have heard of a booby brother of mine that was sent to sea three years ago? This brother, my father hears, is landed; whereupon he very affectionately sends me word; if I will make a deed of conveyance of my right to his estate, after his death, to my younger brother, he will immediately furnish me with four thousand pounds to pay my debts and make my fortune. This was once proposed before, and I refused it; but the present impatience of my creditors for their money, and my own impatience of confinement, and absence from Angelica, force me to consent.

SCAN. A very desperate demonstration of your love to Angelica; and I think she has never given you any assurance of hers.

VAL. You know her temper; she never gave me any great reason either for hope or despair.

SCAN. Women of her airy temper, as they seldom think before they act, so they rarely give us any light to guess at what they mean. But you have little reason to believe that a woman of this age, who has had an indifference for you in your prosperity, will fall in love with your ill-fortune; besides, Angelica has a great fortune of her own; and great fortunes either expect another great fortune, or a fool.


[To them] JEREMY.

JERE. More misfortunes, sir.

VAL. What, another dun?

JERE. No, sir, but Mr Tattle is come to wait upon you.

VAL. Well, I can’t help it, you must bring him up; he knows I don’t go abroad.



SCAN. Pox on him, I’ll be gone.

VAL. No, prithee stay: Tattle and you should never be asunder; you are light and shadow, and show one another; he is perfectly thy reverse both in humour and understanding; and as you set up for defamation, he is a mender of reputations.

SCAN. A mender of reputations! Ay, just as he is a keeper of secrets, another virtue that he sets up for in the same manner. For the rogue will speak aloud in the posture of a whisper, and deny a woman’s name while he gives you the marks of her person. He will forswear receiving a letter from her, and at the same time show you her hand in the superscription: and yet perhaps he has counterfeited the hand too, and sworn to a truth; but he hopes not to be believed, and refuses the reputation of a lady’s favour, as a Doctor says no to a Bishopric only that it may be granted him. In short, he is public professor of secrecy, and makes proclamation that he holds private intelligence.–He’s here.


[To them] TATTLE.

TATT. Valentine, good morrow; Scandal, I am yours: –that is, when you speak well of me.

SCAN. That is, when I am yours; for while I am my own, or anybody’s else, that will never happen.

TATT. How inhuman!

VAL. Why Tattle, you need not be much concerned at anything that he says: for to converse with Scandal, is to play at losing loadum; you must lose a good name to him before you can win it for yourself.

TATT. But how barbarous that is, and how unfortunate for him, that the world shall think the better of any person for his calumniation! I thank heaven, it has always been a part of my character to handle the reputations of others very tenderly indeed.

SCAN. Ay, such rotten reputations as you have to deal with are to be handled tenderly indeed.

TATT. Nay, but why rotten? Why should you say rotten, when you know not the persons of whom you speak? How cruel that is!

SCAN. Not know ’em? Why, thou never had’st to do with anybody that did not stink to all the town.

TATT. Ha, ha, ha; nay, now you make a jest of it indeed. For there is nothing more known than that nobody knows anything of that nature of me. As I hope to be saved, Valentine, I never exposed a woman, since I knew what woman was.

VAL. And yet you have conversed with several.

TATT. To be free with you, I have. I don’t care if I own that. Nay more (I’m going to say a bold word now) I never could meddle with a woman that had to do with anybody else.

SCAN. How?

VAL. Nay faith, I’m apt to believe him. Except her husband, Tattle.

TATT. Oh, that –

SCAN. What think you of that noble commoner, Mrs Drab?

TATT. Pooh, I know Madam Drab has made her brags in three or four places, that I said this and that, and writ to her, and did I know not what–but, upon my reputation, she did me wrong–well, well, that was malice–but I know the bottom of it. She was bribed to that by one we all know–a man too. Only to bring me into disgrace with a certain woman of quality –

SCAN. Whom we all know.

TATT. No matter for that. Yes, yes, everybody knows. No doubt on’t, everybody knows my secrets. But I soon satisfied the lady of my innocence; for I told her: Madam, says I, there are some persons who make it their business to tell stories, and say this and that of one and t’other, and everything in the world; and, says I, if your grace –

SCAN. Grace!

TATT. O Lord, what have I said? My unlucky tongue!

VAL. Ha, ha, ha.

SCAN. Why, Tattle, thou hast more impudence than one can in reason expect: I shall have an esteem for thee, well, and, ha, ha, ha, well, go on, and what did you say to her grace?

VAL. I confess this is something extraordinary.

TATT. Not a word, as I hope to be saved; an errant lapsus linguae. Come, let’s talk of something else.

VAL. Well, but how did you acquit yourself?

TATT. Pooh, pooh, nothing at all; I only rallied with you–a woman of ordinary rank was a little jealous of me, and I told her something or other, faith I know not what.–Come, let’s talk of something else. [Hums a song.]

SCAN. Hang him, let him alone, he has a mind we should enquire.

TATT. Valentine, I supped last night with your mistress, and her uncle, old Foresight: I think your father lies at Foresight’s.

VAL. Yes.

TATT. Upon my soul, Angelica’s a fine woman. And so is Mrs Foresight, and her sister, Mrs Frail.

SCAN. Yes, Mrs Frail is a very fine woman, we all know her.

TATT. Oh, that is not fair.

SCAN. What?

TATT. To tell.

SCAN. To tell what? Why, what do you know of Mrs Frail?

TATT. Who, I? Upon honour I don’t know whether she be man or woman, but by the smoothness of her chin and roundness of her hips.



SCAN. She says otherwise.

TATT. Impossible!

SCAN. Yes, faith. Ask Valentine else.

TATT. Why then, as I hope to be saved, I believe a woman only obliges a man to secrecy that she may have the pleasure of telling herself.

SCAN. No doubt on’t. Well, but has she done you wrong, or no? You have had her? Ha?

TATT. Though I have more honour than to tell first, I have more manners than to contradict what a lady has declared.

SCAN. Well, you own it?

TATT. I am strangely surprised! Yes, yes, I can’t deny’t if she taxes me with it.

SCAN. She’ll be here by and by, she sees Valentine every morning.

TATT. How?

VAL. She does me the favour, I mean, of a visit sometimes. I did not think she had granted more to anybody.

SCAN. Nor I, faith. But Tattle does not use to bely a lady; it is contrary to his character. How one may be deceived in a woman, Valentine?

TATT. Nay, what do you mean, gentlemen?

SCAN. I’m resolved I’ll ask her.

TATT. O barbarous! Why did you not tell me?

SCAN. No; you told us.

TATT. And bid me ask Valentine?

VAL. What did I say? I hope you won’t bring me to confess an answer when you never asked me the question?

TATT. But, gentlemen, this is the most inhuman proceeding –

VAL. Nay, if you have known Scandal thus long, and cannot avoid such a palpable decoy as this was, the ladies have a fine time whose reputations are in your keeping.


[To them] JEREMY.

JERE. Sir, Mrs Frail has sent to know if you are stirring.

VAL. Show her up when she comes.



TATT. I’ll be gone.

VAL. You’ll meet her.

TATT. Is there not a back way?

VAL. If there were, you have more discretion than to give Scandal such an advantage. Why, your running away will prove all that he can tell her.

TATT. Scandal, you will not be so ungenerous. Oh, I shall lose my reputation of secrecy for ever. I shall never be received but upon public days, and my visits will never be admitted beyond a drawing- room. I shall never see a bed-chamber again, never be locked in a closet, nor run behind a screen, or under a table: never be distinguished among the waiting-women by the name of trusty Mr Tattle more. You will not be so cruel?

VAL. Scandal, have pity on him; he’ll yield to any conditions.

TATT. Any, any terms.

SCAN. Come, then, sacrifice half a dozen women of good reputation to me presently. Come, where are you familiar? And see that they are women of quality, too–the first quality.

TATT. ‘Tis very hard. Won’t a baronet’s lady pass?

SCAN. No, nothing under a right honourable.

TATT. Oh, inhuman! You don’t expect their names?

SCAN. No, their titles shall serve.

TATT. Alas, that’s the same thing. Pray spare me their titles. I’ll describe their persons.

SCAN. Well, begin then; but take notice, if you are so ill a painter that I cannot know the person by your picture of her, you must be condemned, like other bad painters, to write the name at the bottom.

TATT. Well, first then –


[To them] MRS FRAIL.

TATT. Oh, unfortunate! She’s come already; will you have patience till another time? I’ll double the number.

SCAN. Well, on that condition. Take heed you don’t fail me.

MRS FRAIL. I shall get a fine reputation by coming to see fellows in a morning. Scandal, you devil, are you here too? Oh, Mr Tattle, everything is safe with you, we know.

SCAN. Tattle –

TATT. Mum. O madam, you do me too much honour.

VAL. Well, Lady Galloper, how does Angelica?

MRS FRAIL. Angelica? Manners!

VAL. What, you will allow an absent lover –

MRS FRAIL. No, I’ll allow a lover present with his mistress to be particular; but otherwise, I think his passion ought to give place to his manners.

VAL. But what if he has more passion than manners?

MRS FRAIL. Then let him marry and reform.

VAL. Marriage indeed may qualify the fury of his passion, but it very rarely mends a man’s manners.

MRS FRAIL. You are the most mistaken in the world; there is no creature perfectly civil but a husband. For in a little time he grows only rude to his wife, and that is the highest good breeding, for it begets his civility to other people. Well, I’ll tell you news; but I suppose you hear your brother Benjamin is landed? And my brother Foresight’s daughter is come out of the country: I assure you, there’s a match talked of by the old people. Well, if he be but as great a sea-beast as she is a land-monster, we shall have a most amphibious breed. The progeny will be all otters. He has been bred at sea, and she has never been out of the country.

VAL. Pox take ’em, their conjunction bodes me no good, I’m sure.

MRS FRAIL. Now you talk of conjunction, my brother Foresight has cast both their nativities, and prognosticates an admiral and an eminent justice of the peace to be the issue male of their two bodies; ’tis the most superstitious old fool! He would have persuaded me that this was an unlucky day, and would not let me come abroad. But I invented a dream, and sent him to Artimedorus for interpretation, and so stole out to see you. Well, and what will you give me now? Come, I must have something.

VAL. Step into the next room, and I’ll give you something.

SCAN. Ay, we’ll all give you something.

MRS FRAIL. Well, what will you all give me?

VAL. Mine’s a secret.

MRS FRAIL. I thought you would give me something that would be a trouble to you to keep.

VAL. And Scandal shall give you a good name.

MRS FRAIL. That’s more than he has for himself. And what will you give me, Mr Tattle?

TATT. I? My soul, madam.

MRS FRAIL. Pooh! No, I thank you, I have enough to do to take care of my own. Well, but I’ll come and see you one of these mornings. I hear you have a great many pictures.

TATT. I have a pretty good collection, at your service, some originals.

SCAN. Hang him, he has nothing but the Seasons and the Twelve Caesars–paltry copies–and the Five Senses, as ill-represented as they are in himself, and he himself is the only original you will see there.

MRS FRAIL. Ay, but I hear he has a closet of beauties.

SCAN. Yes; all that have done him favours, if you will believe him.

MRS FRAIL. Ay, let me see those, Mr Tattle.

TATT. Oh, madam, those are sacred to love and contemplation. No man but the painter and myself was ever blest with the sight.

MRS FRAIL. Well, but a woman –

TATT. Nor woman, till she consented to have her picture there too– for then she’s obliged to keep the secret.

SCAN. No, no; come to me if you’d see pictures.


SCAN. Yes, faith; I can shew you your own picture, and most of your acquaintance to the life, and as like as at Kneller’s.

MRS FRAIL. O lying creature! Valentine, does not he lie? I can’t believe a word he says.

VAL. No indeed, he speaks truth now. For as Tattle has pictures of all that have granted him favours, he has the pictures of all that have refused him: if satires, descriptions, characters, and lampoons are pictures.

SCAN. Yes; mine are most in black and white. And yet there are some set out in their true colours, both men and women. I can shew you pride, folly, affectation, wantonness, inconstancy, covetousness, dissimulation, malice and ignorance, all in one piece. Then I can shew you lying, foppery, vanity, cowardice, bragging, lechery, impotence, and ugliness in another piece; and yet one of these is a celebrated beauty, and t’other a professed beau. I have paintings too, some pleasant enough.

MRS FRAIL. Come, let’s hear ’em.

SCAN. Why, I have a beau in a bagnio, cupping for a complexion, and sweating for a shape.


SCAN. Then I have a lady burning brandy in a cellar with a hackney coachman.

MRS FRAIL. O devil! Well, but that story is not true.

SCAN. I have some hieroglyphics too; I have a lawyer with a hundred hands, two heads, and but one face; a divine with two faces, and one head; and I have a soldier with his brains in his belly, and his heart where his head should be.

MRS FRAIL. And no head?

SCAN. No head.

MRS FRAIL. Pooh, this is all invention. Have you never a poet?

SCAN. Yes, I have a poet weighing words, and selling praise for praise, and a critic picking his pocket. I have another large piece too, representing a school, where there are huge proportioned critics, with long wigs, laced coats, Steinkirk cravats, and terrible faces; with cat-calls in their hands, and horn-books about their necks. I have many more of this kind, very well painted, as you shall see.

MRS FRAIL. Well, I’ll come, if it be but to disprove you.


[To them] JEREMY.

JERE. Sir, here’s the steward again from your father.

VAL. I’ll come to him–will you give me leave? I’ll wait on you again presently,

MRS FRAIL. No; I’ll be gone. Come, who squires me to the Exchange? I must call my sister Foresight there.

SCAN. I will: I have a mind to your sister.


TATT. I will: because I have a tendre for your ladyship.

MRS FRAIL. That’s somewhat the better reason, to my opinion.

SCAN. Well, if Tattle entertains you, I have the better opportunity to engage your sister.

VAL. Tell Angelica I am about making hard conditions to come abroad, and be at liberty to see her.

SCAN. I’ll give an account of you and your proceedings. If indiscretion be a sign of love, you are the most a lover of anybody that I know: you fancy that parting with your estate will help you to your mistress. In my mind he is a thoughtless adventurer

Who hopes to purchase wealth by selling land; Or win a mistress with a losing hand.


A room in FORESIGHT’s house.


FORE. Hey day! What, are all the women of my family abroad? Is not my wife come home? Nor my sister, nor my daughter?

SERV. No, sir.

FORE. Mercy on us, what can be the meaning of it? Sure the moon is in all her fortitudes. Is my niece Angelica at home?

SERV. Yes, sir.

FORE. I believe you lie, sir.

SERV. Sir?

FORE. I say you lie, sir. It is impossible that anything should be as I would have it; for I was born, sir, when the crab was ascending, and all my affairs go backward.

SERV. I can’t tell indeed, sir.

FORE. No, I know you can’t, sir: but I can tell, and foretell, sir.


[To them] NURSE.

FORE. Nurse, where’s your young mistress?

NURSE. Wee’st heart, I know not, they’re none of ’em come home yet. Poor child, I warrant she’s fond o’ seeing the town. Marry, pray heaven they ha’ given her any dinner. Good lack-a-day, ha, ha, ha, Oh, strange! I’ll vow and swear now, ha, ha, ha, marry, and did you ever see the like!

FORE. Why, how now, what’s the matter?

NURSE. Pray heaven send your worship good luck, marry, and amen with all my heart, for you have put on one stocking with the wrong side outward.

FORE. Ha, how? Faith and troth I’m glad of it; and so I have: that may be good luck in troth, in troth it may, very good luck. Nay, I have had some omens: I got out of bed backwards too this morning, without premeditation; pretty good that too; but then I stumbled coming down stairs, and met a weasel; bad omens those: some bad, some good, our lives are chequered. Mirth and sorrow, want and plenty, night and day, make up our time. But in troth I am pleased at my stocking; very well pleased at my stocking. Oh, here’s my niece! Sirrah, go tell Sir Sampson Legend I’ll wait on him if he’s at leisure: –’tis now three o’clock, a very good hour for business: Mercury governs this hour.



ANG. Is it not a good hour for pleasure too, uncle? Pray lend me your coach; mine’s out of order.

FORE. What, would you be gadding too? Sure, all females are mad to-day. It is of evil portent, and bodes mischief to the master of a family. I remember an old prophecy written by Messahalah the Arabian, and thus translated by a reverend Buckinghamshire bard:-

‘When housewives all the house forsake, And leave goodman to brew and bake,
Withouten guile, then be it said,
That house doth stand upon its head; And when the head is set in grond,
Ne marl, if it be fruitful fond.’

Fruitful, the head fruitful, that bodes horns; the fruit of the head is horns. Dear niece, stay at home–for by the head of the house is meant the husband; the prophecy needs no explanation.

ANG. Well, but I can neither make you a cuckold, uncle, by going abroad, nor secure you from being one by staying at home.

FORE. Yes, yes; while there’s one woman left, the prophecy is not in full force.

ANG. But my inclinations are in force; I have a mind to go abroad, and if you won’t lend me your coach, I’ll take a hackney or a chair, and leave you to erect a scheme, and find who’s in conjunction with your wife. Why don’t you keep her at home, if you’re jealous of her when she’s abroad? You know my aunt is a little retrograde (as you call it) in her nature. Uncle, I’m afraid you are not lord of the ascendant, ha, ha, ha!

FORE. Well, Jill-flirt, you are very pert, and always ridiculing that celestial science.

ANG. Nay, uncle, don’t be angry–if you are, I’ll reap up all your false prophecies, ridiculous dreams, and idle divinations. I’ll swear you are a nuisance to the neighbourhood. What a bustle did you keep against the last invisible eclipse, laying in provision as ’twere for a siege. What a world of fire and candle, matches and tinder-boxes did you purchase! One would have thought we were ever after to live under ground, or at least making a voyage to Greenland, to inhabit there all the dark season.

FORE. Why, you malapert slut –

ANG. Will you lend me your coach, or I’ll go on–nay, I’ll declare how you prophesied popery was coming only because the butler had mislaid some of the apostle spoons, and thought they were lost. Away went religion and spoon-meat together. Indeed, uncle, I’ll indite you for a wizard.

FORE. How, hussy! Was there ever such a provoking minx?

NURSE. O merciful father, how she talks!

ANG. Yes, I can make oath of your unlawful midnight practices, you and the old nurse there –

NURSE. Marry, heaven defend! I at midnight practices? O Lord, what’s here to do? I in unlawful doings with my master’s worship– why, did you ever hear the like now? Sir, did ever I do anything of your midnight concerns but warm your bed, and tuck you up, and set the candle and your tobacco-box and your urinal by you, and now and then rub the soles of your feet? O Lord, I!

ANG. Yes, I saw you together through the key-hole of the closet one night, like Saul and the witch of Endor, turning the sieve and shears, and pricking your thumbs, to write poor innocent servants’ names in blood, about a little nutmeg grater which she had forgot in the caudle-cup. Nay, I know something worse, if I would speak of it.

FORE. I defy you, hussy; but I’ll remember this, I’ll be revenged on you, cockatrice. I’ll hamper you. You have your fortune in your own hands, but I’ll find a way to make your lover, your prodigal spendthrift gallant, Valentine, pay for all, I will.

ANG. Will you? I care not, but all shall out then. Look to it, nurse: I can bring witness that you have a great unnatural teat under your left arm, and he another; and that you suckle a young devil in the shape of a tabby-cat, by turns, I can.

NURSE. A teat, a teat–I an unnatural teat! Oh, the false, slanderous thing; feel, feel here, if I have anything but like another Christian. [Crying.]

FORE. I will have patience, since it is the will of the stars I should be thus tormented. This is the effect of the malicious conjunctions and oppositions in the third house of my nativity; there the curse of kindred was foretold. But I will have my doors locked up;–I’ll punish you: not a man shall enter my house.

ANG. Do, uncle, lock ’em up quickly before my aunt come home. You’ll have a letter for alimony to-morrow morning. But let me be gone first, and then let no mankind come near the house, but converse with spirits and the celestial signs, the bull and the ram and the goat. Bless me! There are a great many horned beasts among the twelve signs, uncle. But cuckolds go to heaven.

FORE. But there’s but one virgin among the twelve signs, spitfire, but one virgin.

ANG. Nor there had not been that one, if she had had to do with anything but astrologers, uncle. That makes my aunt go abroad.

FORE. How, how? Is that the reason? Come, you know something; tell me and I’ll forgive you. Do, good niece. Come, you shall have my coach and horses–faith and troth you shall. Does my wife complain? Come, I know women tell one another. She is young and sanguine, has a wanton hazel eye, and was born under Gemini, which may incline her to society. She has a mole upon her lip, with a moist palm, and an open liberality on the mount of Venus.

ANG. Ha, ha, ha!

FORE. Do you laugh? Well, gentlewoman, I’ll–but come, be a good girl, don’t perplex your poor uncle, tell me–won’t you speak? Odd, I’ll –


[To them] SERVANT.

SERV. Sir Sampson is coming down to wait upon you.

ANG. Good-bye, uncle–call me a chair. I’ll find out my aunt, and tell her she must not come home.

FORE. I’m so perplexed and vexed, I’m not fit to receive him; I shall scarce recover myself before the hour be past. Go nurse, tell Sir Sampson I’m ready to wait on him.

NURSE. Yes, sir,

FORE. Well–why, if I was born to be a cuckold, there’s no more to be said–he’s here already.



SIR SAMP. Nor no more to be done, old boy; that’s plain–here ’tis, I have it in my hand, old Ptolomey, I’ll make the ungracious prodigal know who begat him; I will, old Nostrodamus. What, I warrant my son thought nothing belonged to a father but forgiveness and affection; no authority, no correction, no arbitrary power; nothing to be done, but for him to offend and me to pardon. I warrant you, if he danced till doomsday he thought I was to pay the piper. Well, but here it is under black and white, signatum, sigillatum, and deliberatum; that as soon as my son Benjamin is arrived, he’s to make over to him his right of inheritance. Where’s my daughter that is to be?–Hah! old Merlin! body o’ me, I’m so glad I’m revenged on this undutiful rogue.

FORE. Odso, let me see; let me see the paper. Ay, faith and troth, here ’tis, if it will but hold. I wish things were done, and the conveyance made. When was this signed, what hour? Odso, you should have consulted me for the time. Well, but we’ll make haste –

SIR SAMP. Haste, ay, ay; haste enough. My son Ben will be in town to-night. I have ordered my lawyer to draw up writings of settlement and jointure–all shall be done to-night. No matter for the time; prithee, brother Foresight, leave superstition. Pox o’ the time; there’s no time but the time present, there’s no more to be said of what’s past, and all that is to come will happen. If the sun shine by day, and the stars by night, why, we shall know one another’s faces without the help of a candle, and that’s all the stars are good for.

FORE. How, how? Sir Sampson, that all? Give me leave to contradict you, and tell you you are ignorant.

SIR SAMP. I tell you I am wise; and sapiens dominabitur astris; there’s Latin for you to prove it, and an argument to confound your Ephemeris.–Ignorant! I tell you, I have travelled old Fircu, and know the globe. I have seen the antipodes, where the sun rises at midnight, and sets at noon-day.

FORE. But I tell you, I have travelled, and travelled in the celestial spheres, know the signs and the planets, and their houses. Can judge of motions direct and retrograde, of sextiles, quadrates, trines and oppositions, fiery-trigons and aquatical-trigons. Know whether life shall be long or short, happy or unhappy, whether diseases are curable or incurable. If journeys shall be prosperous, undertakings successful, or goods stolen recovered; I know –

SIR SAMP. I know the length of the Emperor of China’s foot; have kissed the Great Mogul’s slippers, and rid a-hunting upon an elephant with a Cham of Tartary. Body o’ me, I have made a cuckold of a king, and the present majesty of Bantam is the issue of these loins.

FORE. I know when travellers lie or speak truth, when they don’t know it themselves.

SIR SAMP. I have known an astrologer made a cuckold in the twinkling of a star; and seen a conjurer that could not keep the devil out of his wife’s circle.

FORE. What, does he twit me with my wife too? I must be better informed of this. [Aside.] Do you mean my wife, Sir Sampson? Though you made a cuckold of the king of Bantam, yet by the body of the sun –

SIR SAMP. By the horns of the moon, you would say, brother Capricorn.

FORE. Capricorn in your teeth, thou modern Mandeville; Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee, thou liar of the first magnitude. Take back your paper of inheritance; send your son to sea again. I’ll wed my daughter to an Egyptian mummy, e’er she shall incorporate with a contemner of sciences, and a defamer of virtue.

SIR SAMP. Body o’ me, I have gone too far; I must not provoke honest Albumazar: –an Egyptian mummy is an illustrious creature, my trusty hieroglyphic; and may have significations of futurity about him; odsbud, I would my son were an Egyptian mummy for thy sake. What, thou art not angry for a jest, my good Haly? I reverence the sun, moon and stars with all my heart. What, I’ll make thee a present of a mummy: now I think on’t, body o’ me, I have a shoulder of an Egyptian king that I purloined from one of the pyramids, powdered with hieroglyphics, thou shalt have it brought home to thy house, and make an entertainment for all the philomaths, and students in physic and astrology in and about London.

FORE. But what do you know of my wife, Sir Sampson?

SIR SAMP. Thy wife is a constellation of virtues; she’s the moon, and thou art the man in the moon. Nay, she is more illustrious than the moon; for she has her chastity without her inconstancy: ‘sbud I was but in jest.


[To them] JEREMY.

SIR SAMP. How now, who sent for you? Ha! What would you have?

FORE. Nay, if you were but in jest–who’s that fellow? I don’t like his physiognomy.

SIR SAMP. My son, sir; what son, sir? My son Benjamin, hoh?

JERE. No, sir, Mr Valentine, my master; ’tis the first time he has been abroad since his confinement, and he comes to pay his duty to you.

SIR SAMP. Well, sir.



JERE. He is here, sir.

VAL. Your blessing, sir.

SIR SAMP. You’ve had it already, sir; I think I sent it you to-day in a bill of four thousand pound: a great deal of money, brother Foresight.

FORE. Ay, indeed, Sir Sampson, a great deal of money for a young man; I wonder what he can do with it!

SIR SAMP. Body o’ me, so do I. Hark ye, Valentine, if there be too much, refund the superfluity; dost hear, boy?

VAL. Superfluity, sir? It will scarce pay my debts. I hope you will have more indulgence than to oblige me to those hard conditions which my necessity signed to.

SIR SAMP. Sir, how, I beseech you, what were you pleased to intimate, concerning indulgence?

VAL. Why, sir, that you would not go to the extremity of the conditions, but release me at least from some part.

SIR SAMP. Oh, sir, I understand you–that’s all, ha?

VAL. Yes, sir, all that I presume to ask. But what you, out of fatherly fondness, will be pleased to add, shall be doubly welcome.

SIR SAMP. No doubt of it, sweet sir; but your filial piety, and my fatherly fondness would fit like two tallies. Here’s a rogue, brother Foresight, makes a bargain under hand and seal in the morning, and would be released from it in the afternoon; here’s a rogue, dog, here’s conscience and honesty; this is your wit now, this is the morality of your wits! You are a wit, and have been a beau, and may be a–why sirrah, is it not here under hand and seal– can you deny it?

VAL. Sir, I don’t deny it.

SIR SAMP. Sirrah, you’ll be hanged; I shall live to see you go up Holborn Hill. Has he not a rogue’s face? Speak brother, you understand physiognomy, a hanging look to me–of all my boys the most unlike me; he has a damned Tyburn face, without the benefit o’ the clergy.

FORE. Hum–truly I don’t care to discourage a young man,–he has a violent death in his face; but I hope no danger of hanging.

VAL. Sir, is this usage for your son?–For that old weather-headed fool, I know how to laugh at him; but you, sir –

SIR SAMP. You, sir; and you, sir: why, who are you, sir?

VAL. Your son, sir.

SIR SAMP. That’s more than I know, sir, and I believe not.

VAL. Faith, I hope not.

SIR SAMP. What, would you have your mother a whore? Did you ever hear the like? Did you ever hear the like? Body o’ me –

VAL. I would have an excuse for your barbarity and unnatural usage.

SIR SAMP. Excuse! Impudence! Why, sirrah, mayn’t I do what I please? Are not you my slave? Did not I beget you? And might not I have chosen whether I would have begot you or no? ‘Oons, who are you? Whence came you? What brought you into the world? How came you here, sir? Here, to stand here, upon those two legs, and look erect with that audacious face, ha? Answer me that! Did you come a volunteer into the world? Or did I, with the lawful authority of a parent, press you to the service?

VAL. I know no more why I came than you do why you called me. But here I am, and if you don’t mean to provide for me, I desire you would leave me as you found me.

SIR SAMP. With all my heart: come, uncase, strip, and go naked out of the world as you came into ‘t.

VAL. My clothes are soon put off. But you must also divest me of reason, thought, passions, inclinations, affections, appetites, senses, and the huge train of attendants that you begot along with me.

SIR SAMP. Body o’ me, what a manyheaded monster have I propagated!

VAL. I am of myself, a plain, easy, simple creature, and to be kept at small expense; but the retinue that you gave me are craving and invincible; they are so many devils that you have raised, and will have employment.

SIR SAMP. ‘Oons, what had I to do to get children,–can’t a private man be born without all these followers? Why, nothing under an emperor should be born with appetites. Why, at this rate, a fellow that has but a groat in his pocket may have a stomach capable of a ten shilling ordinary.

JERE. Nay, that’s as clear as the sun; I’ll make oath of it before any justice in Middlesex.

SIR SAMP. Here’s a cormorant too. ‘S’heart this fellow was not born with you? I did not beget him, did I?

JERE. By the provision that’s made for me, you might have begot me too. Nay, and to tell your worship another truth, I believe you did, for I find I was born with those same whoreson appetites too, that my master speaks of.

SIR SAMP. Why, look you there, now. I’ll maintain it, that by the rule of right reason, this fellow ought to have been born without a palate. ‘S’heart, what should he do with a distinguishing taste? I warrant now he’d rather eat a pheasant, than a piece of poor John; and smell, now, why I warrant he can smell, and loves perfumes above a stink. Why there’s it; and music, don’t you love music, scoundrel?

JERE. Yes; I have a reasonable good ear, sir, as to jigs and country dances, and the like; I don’t much matter your solos or sonatas, they give me the spleen.

SIR SAMP. The spleen, ha, ha, ha; a pox confound you–solos or sonatas? ‘Oons, whose son are you? How were you engendered, muckworm?

JERE. I am by my father, the son of a chair-man; my mother sold oysters in winter, and cucumbers in summer; and I came upstairs into the world; for I was born in a cellar.

FORE. By your looks, you should go upstairs out of the world too, friend.

SIR SAMP. And if this rogue were anatomized now, and dissected, he has his vessels of digestion and concoction, and so forth, large enough for the inside of a cardinal, this son of a cucumber.–These things are unaccountable and unreasonable. Body o’ me, why was not I a bear, that my cubs might have lived upon sucking their paws? Nature has been provident only to bears and spiders; the one has its nutriment in his own hands; and t’other spins his habitation out of his own entrails.

VAL. Fortune was provident enough to supply all the necessities of my nature, if I had my right of inheritance.

SIR SAMP. Again! ‘Oons, han’t you four thousand pounds? If I had it again, I would not give thee a groat.–What, would’st thou have me turn pelican, and feed thee out of my own vitals? S’heart, live by your wits: you were always fond of the wits, now let’s see, if you have wit enough to keep yourself. Your brother will be in town to-night or to-morrow morning, and then look you perform covenants, and so your friend and servant: –come, brother Foresight.



JERE. I told you what your visit would come to.

VAL. ‘Tis as much as I expected. I did not come to see him, I came to see Angelica: but since she was gone abroad, it was easily turned another way, and at least looked well on my side. What’s here? Mrs Foresight and Mrs Frail, they are earnest. I’ll avoid ’em. Come this way, and go and enquire when Angelica will return.



MRS FRAIL. What have you to do to watch me? ‘S’life I’ll do what I please.

MRS FORE. You will?

MRS FRAIL. Yes, marry will I. A great piece of business to go to Covent Garden Square in a hackney coach, and take a turn with one’s friend.

MRS FORE. Nay, two or three turns, I’ll take my oath.

MRS FRAIL. Well, what if I took twenty–I warrant if you had been there, it had been only innocent recreation. Lord, where’s the comfort of this life if we can’t have the happiness of conversing where we like?

MRS FORE. But can’t you converse at home? I own it, I think there’s no happiness like conversing with an agreeable man; I don’t quarrel at that, nor I don’t think but your conversation was very innocent; but the place is public, and to be seen with a man in a hackney coach is scandalous. What if anybody else should have seen you alight, as I did? How can anybody be happy while they’re in perpetual fear of being seen and censured? Besides, it would not only reflect upon you, sister, but me.

MRS FRAIL. Pooh, here’s a clutter: why should it reflect upon you? I don’t doubt but you have thought yourself happy in a hackney coach before now. If I had gone to Knight’s Bridge, or to Chelsea, or to Spring Garden, or Barn Elms with a man alone, something might have been said.

MRS FORE. Why, was I ever in any of those places? What do you mean, sister?

MRS FRAIL. Was I? What do you mean?

MRS FORE. You have been at a worse place.

MRS FRAIL. I at a worse place, and with a man!

MRS FORE. I suppose you would not go alone to the World’s End.

MRS FRAIL. The World’s End! What, do you mean to banter me?

MRS FORE. Poor innocent! You don’t know that there’s a place called the World’s End? I’ll swear you can keep your countenance purely: you’d make an admirable player.

MRS FRAIL. I’ll swear you have a great deal of confidence, and in my mind too much for the stage.

MRS FORE. Very well, that will appear who has most; you never were at the World’s End?


MRS FORE. You deny it positively to my face?

MRS FRAIL. Your face, what’s your face?

MRS FORE. No matter for that, it’s as good a face as yours.

MRS FRAIL. Not by a dozen years’ wearing. But I do deny it positively to your face, then.

MRS FORE. I’ll allow you now to find fault with my face; for I’ll swear your impudence has put me out of countenance. But look you here now, where did you lose this gold bodkin? Oh, sister, sister!

MRS FRAIL. My bodkin!

MRS FORE. Nay, ’tis yours, look at it.

MRS FRAIL. Well, if you go to that, where did you find this bodkin? Oh, sister, sister! Sister every way.

MRS FORE. Oh, devil on’t, that I could not discover her without betraying myself. [Aside.]

MRS FRAIL. I have heard gentlemen say, sister, that one should take great care, when one makes a thrust in fencing, not to lie open oneself.

MRS FORE. It’s very true, sister. Well, since all’s out, and as you say, since we are both wounded, let us do what is often done in duels, take care of one another, and grow better friends than before.

MRS FRAIL. With all my heart: ours are but slight flesh wounds, and if we keep ’em from air, not at all dangerous. Well, give me your hand in token of sisterly secrecy and affection.

MRS FORE. Here ’tis, with all my heart.

MRS FRAIL. Well, as an earnest of friendship and confidence, I’ll acquaint you with a design that I have. To tell truth, and speak openly one to another, I’m afraid the world have observed us more than we have observed one another. You have a rich husband, and are provided for. I am at a loss, and have no great stock either of fortune or reputation, and therefore must look sharply about me. Sir Sampson has a son that is expected to-night, and by the account I have heard of his education, can be no conjurer. The estate you know is to be made over to him. Now if I could wheedle him, sister, ha? You understand me?

MRS FORE. I do, and will help you to the utmost of my power. And I can tell you one thing that falls out luckily enough; my awkward daughter-in-law, who you know is designed to be his wife, is grown fond of Mr Tattle; now if we can improve that, and make her have an aversion for the booby, it may go a great way towards his liking you. Here they come together; and let us contrive some way or other to leave ’em together.


[To them] TATTLE and MISS PRUE.

MISS. Mother, mother, mother, look you here!

MRS FORE. Fie, fie, Miss, how you bawl! Besides, I have told you, you must not call me mother.

MISS. What must I call you then, are you not my father’s wife?

MRS FORE. Madam; you must say madam. By my soul, I shall fancy myself old indeed to have this great girl call me mother. Well, but Miss, what are you so overjoyed at?

MISS. Look you here, madam, then, what Mr Tattle has given me. Look you here, cousin, here’s a snuff-box; nay, there’s snuff in’t. Here, will you have any? Oh, good! How sweet it is. Mr Tattle is all over sweet, his peruke is sweet, and his gloves are sweet, and his handkerchief is sweet, pure sweet, sweeter than roses. Smell him, mother–madam, I mean. He gave me this ring for a kiss.

TATT. O fie, Miss, you must not kiss and tell.

MISS. Yes; I may tell my mother. And he says he’ll give me something to make me smell so. Oh, pray lend me your handkerchief. Smell, cousin; he says he’ll give me something that will make my smocks smell this way. Is not it pure? It’s better than lavender, mun. I’m resolved I won’t let nurse put any more lavender among my smocks–ha, cousin?

MRS FRAIL. Fie, Miss; amongst your linen, you must say. You must never say smock.

MISS. Why, it is not bawdy, is it, cousin?

TATT. Oh, madam; you are too severe upon Miss; you must not find fault with her pretty simplicity: it becomes her strangely. Pretty Miss, don’t let ’em persuade you out of your innocency.

MRS FORE. Oh, demm you toad. I wish you don’t persuade her out of her innocency.

TATT. Who, I, madam? O Lord, how can your ladyship have such a thought? Sure, you don’t know me.

MRS FRAIL. Ah devil, sly devil. He’s as close, sister, as a confessor. He thinks we don’t observe him.

MRS FORE. A cunning cur, how soon he could find out a fresh, harmless creature; and left us, sister, presently.

TATT. Upon reputation

MRS FORE. They’re all so, sister, these men. They love to have the spoiling of a young thing, they are as fond of it, as of being first in the fashion, or of seeing a new play the first day. I warrant it would break Mr Tattle’s heart to think that anybody else should be beforehand with him.

TATT. O Lord, I swear I would not for the world –

MRS FRAIL. O hang you; who’ll believe you? You’d be hanged before you’d confess. We know you–she’s very pretty! Lord, what pure red and white!–she looks so wholesome; ne’er stir: I don’t know, but I fancy, if I were a man –

MISS. How you love to jeer one, cousin.

MRS FORE. Hark’ee, sister, by my soul the girl is spoiled already. D’ee think she’ll ever endure a great lubberly tarpaulin? Gad, I warrant you she won’t let him come near her after Mr Tattle.

MRS FRAIL. O my soul, I’m afraid not–eh!–filthy creature, that smells all of pitch and tar. Devil take you, you confounded toad– why did you see her before she was married?

MRS FORE. Nay, why did we let him–my husband will hang us. He’ll think we brought ’em acquainted.

MRS FRAIL. Come, faith, let us be gone. If my brother Foresight should find us with them, he’d think so, sure enough.

MRS FORE. So he would–but then leaving them together is as bad: and he’s such a sly devil, he’ll never miss an opportunity.

MRS FRAIL. I don’t care; I won’t be seen in’t.

MRS FORE. Well, if you should, Mr Tattle, you’ll have a world to answer for; remember I wash my hands of it. I’m thoroughly innocent.



MISS. What makes ’em go away, Mr Tattle? What do they mean, do you know?

TATT. Yes my dear; I think I can guess, but hang me if I know the reason of it.

MISS. Come, must not we go too?

TATT. No, no, they don’t mean that.

MISS. No! What then? What shall you and I do together?

TATT. I must make love to you, pretty Miss; will you let me make love to you?

MISS. Yes, if you please.

TATT. Frank, i’Gad, at least. What a pox does Mrs Foresight mean by this civility? Is it to make a fool of me? Or does she leave us together out of good morality, and do as she would be done by?–Gad, I’ll understand it so. [Aside.]

MISS. Well; and how will you make love to me–come, I long to have you begin,–must I make love too? You must tell me how.

TATT. You must let me speak, Miss, you must not speak first; I must ask you questions, and you must answer.

MISS. What, is it like the catechism? Come then, ask me.

TATT. D’ye think you can love me?

MISS. Yes.

TATT. Pooh, pox, you must not say yes already; I shan’t care a farthing for you then in a twinkling.

MISS. What must I say then?

TATT. Why you must say no, or you believe not, or you can’t tell –

MISS. Why, must I tell a lie then?

TATT. Yes, if you’d be well bred. All well bred persons lie.– Besides, you are a woman, you must never speak what you think: your words must contradict your thoughts; but your actions may contradict your words. So when I ask you if you can love me, you must say no, but you must love me too. If I tell you you are handsome, you must deny it, and say I flatter you. But you must think yourself more charming than I speak you: and like me, for the beauty which I say you have, as much as if I had it myself. If I ask you to kiss me, you must be angry, but you must not refuse me. If I ask you for more, you must be more angry,–but more complying; and as soon as ever I make you say you’ll cry out, you must be sure to hold your tongue.

MISS. O Lord, I swear this is pure. I like it better than our old- fashioned country way of speaking one’s mind;–and must not you lie too?

TATT. Hum–yes–but you must believe I speak truth.

MISS. O Gemini! Well, I always had a great mind to tell lies; but they frighted me, and said it was a sin.

TATT. Well, my pretty creature; will you make me happy by giving me a kiss?

MISS. No, indeed; I’m angry at you. [Runs and kisses him.]

TATT. Hold, hold, that’s pretty well, but you should not have given it me, but have suffered me to have taken it.

MISS. Well, we’ll do it again.

TATT. With all my heart.–Now then, my little angel. [Kisses her.]

MISS. Pish.

TATT. That’s right,–again, my charmer. [Kisses again.]

MISS. O fie, nay, now I can’t abide you.

TATT. Admirable! That was as well as if you had been born and bred in Covent Garden. And won’t you shew me, pretty miss, where your bed-chamber is?

MISS. No, indeed won’t I; but I’ll run there, and hide myself from you behind the curtains.

TATT. I’ll follow you.

MISS. Ah, but I’ll hold the door with both hands, and be angry;– and you shall push me down before you come in.

TATT. No, I’ll come in first, and push you down afterwards.

MISS. Will you? Then I’ll be more angry and more complying.

TATT. Then I’ll make you cry out.

MISS. Oh, but you shan’t, for I’ll hold my tongue.

TATT. O my dear apt scholar!

MISS. Well, now I’ll run and make more haste than you.

TATT. You shall not fly so fast, as I’ll pursue.


NURSE alone.

NURSE. Miss, Miss, Miss Prue! Mercy on me, marry and amen. Why, what’s become of the child? Why Miss, Miss Foresight! Sure she has locked herself up in her chamber, and gone to sleep, or to prayers: Miss, Miss,–I hear her.–Come to your father, child; open the door. Open the door, Miss. I hear you cry husht. O Lord, who’s there? [peeps] What’s here to do? O the Father! A man with her! Why, miss, I say; God’s my life, here’s fine doings towards–O Lord, we’re all undone. O you young harlotry [knocks]. Od’s my life, won’t you open the door? I’ll come in the back way.



MISS. O Lord, she’s coming, and she’ll tell my father; what shall I do now?

TATT. Pox take her; if she had stayed two minutes longer, I should have wished for her coming.