The Old Bachelor by William Congreve

The Old Bachelor by William Congreve Quem tulit ad scenam ventoso Gloria curru, Exanimat lentus spectator; sedulus inflat: Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum Subruit, and reficit. HORAT. Epist. I. lib. ii. To the Right Honourable Charles, Lord Clifford of Lanesborough, etc. My Lord,–It is with a great deal of pleasure that
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1693
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

The Old Bachelor

by William Congreve

Quem tulit ad scenam ventoso Gloria curru, Exanimat lentus spectator; sedulus inflat: Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum Subruit, and reficit.

HORAT. Epist. I. lib. ii.

To the Right Honourable Charles, Lord Clifford of Lanesborough, etc.

My Lord,–It is with a great deal of pleasure that I lay hold on this first occasion which the accidents of my life have given me of writing to your lordship: for since at the same time I write to all the world, it will be a means of publishing (what I would have everybody know) the respect and duty which I owe and pay to you. I have so much inclination to be yours that I need no other engagement. But the particular ties by which I am bound to your lordship and family have put it out of my power to make you any compliment, since all offers of myself will amount to no more than an honest acknowledgment, and only shew a willingness in me to be grateful.

I am very near wishing that it were not so much my interest to be your lordship’s servant, that it might be more my merit; not that I would avoid being obliged to you, but I would have my own choice to run me into the debt: that I might have it to boast, I had distinguished a man to whom I would be glad to be obliged, even without the hopes of having it in my power ever to make him a return.

It is impossible for me to come near your lordship in any kind and not to receive some favour; and while in appearance I am only making an acknowledgment (with the usual underhand dealing of the world) I am at the same time insinuating my own interest. I cannot give your lordship your due, without tacking a bill of my own privileges. ‘Tis true, if a man never committed a folly, he would never stand in need of a protection. But then power would have nothing to do, and good nature no occasion to show itself; and where those qualities are, ’tis pity they should want objects to shine upon. I must confess this is no reason why a man should do an idle thing, nor indeed any good excuse for it when done; yet it reconciles the uses of such authority and goodness to the necessities of our follies, and is a sort of poetical logic, which at this time I would make use of, to argue your lordship into a protection of this play. It is the first offence I have committed in this kind, or indeed, in any kind of poetry, though not the first made public, and therefore I hope will the more easily be pardoned. But had it been acted, when it was first written, more might have been said in its behalf: ignorance of the town and stage would then have been excuses in a young writer, which now almost four years’ experience will scarce allow of. Yet I must declare myself sensible of the good nature of the town, in receiving this play so kindly, with all its faults, which I must own were, for the most part, very industriously covered by the care of the players; for I think scarce a character but received all the advantage it would admit of from the justness of the action.

As for the critics, my lord, I have nothing to say to, or against, any of them of any kind: from those who make just exceptions, to those who find fault in the wrong place. I will only make this general answer in behalf of my play (an answer which Epictetus advises every man to make for himself to his censurers), viz.: ‘That if they who find some faults in it, were as intimate with it as I am, they would find a great many more.’ This is a confession, which I needed not to have made; but however, I can draw this use from it to my own advantage: that I think there are no faults in it but what I do know; which, as I take it, is the first step to an amendment.

Thus I may live in hopes (sometime or other) of making the town amends; but you, my lord, I never can, though I am ever your lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant,


To Mr. Congreve.

When virtue in pursuit of fame appears, And forward shoots the growth beyond the years. We timely court the rising hero’s cause, And on his side the poet wisely draws,
Bespeaking him hereafter by applause. The days will come, when we shall all receive Returning interest from what now we give, Instructed and supported by that praise
And reputation which we strive to raise. Nature so coy, so hardly to be wooed,
Flies, like a mistress, but to be pursued. O Congreve! boldly follow on the chase:
She looks behind and wants thy strong embrace: She yields, she yields, surrenders all her charms, Do you but force her gently to your arms: Such nerves, such graces, in your lines appear, As you were made to be her ravisher.
Dryden has long extended his command, By right divine, quite through the muses’ land, Absolute lord; and holding now from none, But great Apollo, his undoubted crown.
That empire settled, and grown old in power Can wish for nothing but a successor:
Not to enlarge his limits, but maintain Those provinces, which he alone could gain. His eldest Wycherly, in wise retreat,
Thought it not worth his quiet to be great. Loose, wand’ring Etherege, in wild pleasures tost, And foreign int’rests, to his hopes long lost: Poor Lee and Otway dead! Congreve appears, The darling, and last comfort of his years. May’st thou live long in thy great master’s smiles, And growing under him, adorn these isles. But when–when part of him (be that but late) His body yielding must submit to fate,
Leaving his deathless works and thee behind (The natural successor of his mind),
Then may’st thou finish what he has begun: Heir to his merit, be in fame his son.
What thou hast done, shews all is in thy pow’r, And to write better, only must write more. ‘Tis something to be willing to commend; But my best praise is, that I am your friend,


To Mr. Congreve.

The danger’s great in these censorious days, When critics are so rife to venture praise: When the infectious and ill-natured brood Behold, and damn the work, because ’tis good, And with a proud, ungenerous spirit, try To pass an ostracism on poetry.
But you, my friend, your worth does safely bear Above their spleen; you have no cause for fear; Like a well-mettled hawk, you took your flight Quite out of reach, and almost out of sight. As the strong sun, in a fair summer’s day, You rise, and drive the mists and clouds away, The owls and bats, and all the birds of prey. Each line of yours, like polished steel’s so hard, In beauty safe, it wants no other guard. Nature herself’s beholden to your dress, Which though still like, much fairer you express. Some vainly striving honour to obtain,
Leave to their heirs the traffic of their brain: Like China under ground, the ripening ware, In a long time, perhaps grows worth our care. But you now reap the fame, so well you’ve sown; The planter tastes his fruit to ripeness grown. As a fair orange-tree at once is seen
Big with what’s ripe, yet springing still with green, So at one time, my worthy friend appears, With all the sap of youth, and weight of years. Accept my pious love, as forward zeal,
Which though it ruins me I can’t conceal: Exposed to censure for my weak applause, I’m pleased to suffer in so just a cause; And though my offering may unworthy prove, Take, as a friend, the wishes of my love.


To Mr. Congreve, on his play called The Old Bachelor.

Wit, like true gold, refined from all allay, Immortal is, and never can decay:
‘Tis in all times and languages the same, Nor can an ill translation quench the flame: For, though the form and fashion don’t remain, The intrinsic value still it will retain. Then let each studied scene be writ with art, And judgment sweat to form the laboured part. Each character be just, and nature seem: Without th’ ingredient, wit, ’tis all but phlegm: For that’s the soul, which all the mass must move, And wake our passions into grief or love. But you, too bounteous, sow your wit so thick, We are surprised, and know not where to pick; And while with clapping we are just to you, Ourselves we injure, and lose something new. What mayn’t we then, great youth, of thee presage, Whose art and wit so much transcend thy age? How wilt thou shine at thy meridian height, Who, at thy rising, giv’st so vast a light? When Dryden dying shall the world deceive, Whom we immortal, as his works, believe, Thou shalt succeed, the glory of the stage, Adorn and entertain the coming age.



Most authors on the stage at first appear Like widows’ bridegrooms, full of doubt and fear: They judge, from the experience of the dame, How hard a task it is to quench her flame; And who falls short of furnishing a course Up to his brawny predecessor’s force,
With utmost rage from her embraces thrown, Remains convicted as an empty drone.
Thus often, to his shame, a pert beginner Proves in the end a miserable sinner.
As for our youngster, I am apt to doubt him, With all the vigour of his youth about him; But he, more sanguine, trusts in one and twenty, And impudently hopes he shall content you: For though his bachelor be worn and cold, He thinks the young may club to help the old, And what alone can be achieved by neither, Is often brought about by both together. The briskest of you all have felt alarms, Finding the fair one prostitute her charms With broken sighs, in her old fumbler’s arms: But for our spark, he swears he’ll ne’er be jealous Of any rivals, but young lusty fellows.
Faith, let him try his chance, and if the slave, After his bragging, prove a washy knave, May he be banished to some lonely den
And never more have leave to dip his pen. But if he be the champion he pretends,
Both sexes sure will join to be his friends, For all agree, where all can have their ends. And you must own him for a man of might, If he holds out to please you the third night.

Spoken by Mrs. Bracegirdle.

How this vile world is changed! In former days Prologues were serious speeches before plays, Grave, solemn things, as graces are to feasts, Where poets begged a blessing from their guests. But now no more like suppliants we come; A play makes war, and prologue is the drum. Armed with keen satire and with pointed wit, We threaten you who do for judges sit,
To save our plays, or else we’ll damn your pit. But for your comfort, it falls out to-day, We’ve a young author and his first-born play; So, standing only on his good behaviour, He’s very civil, and entreats your favour. Not but the man has malice, would he show it, But on my conscience he’s a bashful poet; You think that strange–no matter, he’ll outgrow it. Well, I’m his advocate: by me he prays you (I don’t know whether I shall speak to please you), He prays–O bless me! what shall I do now? Hang me if I know what he prays, or how! And ’twas the prettiest prologue as he wrote it! Well, the deuce take me, if I han’t forgot it. O Lord, for heav’n’s sake excuse the play, Because, you know, if it be damned to-day, I shall be hanged for wanting what to say. For my sake then–but I’m in such confusion, I cannot stay to hear your resolution. [Runs off]



HEARTWELL, a surly old bachelor, pretending to slight women, secretly in love with Silvia–Mr. Betterton. BELLMOUR, in love with Belinda–Mr. Powell VAINLOVE, capricious in his love; in love with Araminta–Mr. Williams
SHARPER–Mr. Verbruggen
FONDLEWIFE, a banker–Mr. Dogget
SETTER, a pimp–Mr Underhill
SERVANT to Fondlewife.


ARAMINTA, in love with Vainlove–Mrs. Bracegirdle BELINDA, her cousin, an affected lady, in love with Bellmour–Mrs. Mountfort
LAETITIA, wife to Fondlewife–Mrs. Barry SYLVIA, Vainlove’s forsaken mistress–Mrs. Bowman LUCY, her maid–Mrs. Leigh

SCENE: London.


SCENE: The Street.


BELL. Vainlove, and abroad so early! Good-morrow; I thought a contemplative lover could no more have parted with his bed in a morning than he could have slept in’t.

VAIN. Bellmour, good-morrow. Why, truth on’t is, these early sallies are not usual to me; but business, as you see, sir– [Showing Letters.] And business must be followed, or be lost.

BELL. Business! And so must time, my friend, be close pursued, or lost. Business is the rub of life, perverts our aim, casts off the bias, and leaves us wide and short of the intended mark.

VAIN. Pleasure, I guess you mean.

BELL. Ay; what else has meaning?

VAIN. Oh, the wise will tell you –

BELL. More than they believe–or understand.

VAIN. How, how, Ned! A wise man say more than he understands?

BELL. Ay, ay! Wisdom’s nothing but a pretending to know and believe more than we really do. You read of but one wise man, and all that he knew was, that he knew nothing. Come, come, leave business to idlers and wisdom to fools; they have need of ’em. Wit be my faculty, and pleasure my occupation; and let Father Time shake his glass. Let low and earthly souls grovel till they have worked themselves six foot deep into a grave. Business is not my element–I roll in a higher orb, and dwell –

VAIN. In castles i’ th’ air of thy own building. That’s thy element, Ned. Well, as high a flier as you are, I have a lure may make you stoop. [Flings a Letter.]

BELL. I, marry, sir, I have a hawk’s eye at a woman’s hand. There’s more elegancy in the false spelling of this superscription [takes up the Letter] than in all Cicero. Let me see.–How now!– Dear PERFIDIOUS VAINLOVE. [Reads.]

VAIN. Hold, hold, ‘slife, that’s the wrong.

BELL. Nay, let’s see the name–Sylvia!–how canst thou be ungrateful to that creature? She’s extremely pretty, and loves thee entirely–I have heard her breathe such raptures about thee –

VAIN. Ay, or anybody that she’s about –

BELL. No, faith, Frank, you wrong her; she has been just to you.

VAIN. That’s pleasant, by my troth, from thee, who hast had her.

BELL. Never–her affections. ‘Tis true, by heaven: she owned it to my face; and, blushing like the virgin morn when it disclosed the cheat which that trusty bawd of nature, night, had hid, confessed her soul was true to you; though I by treachery had stolen the bliss.

VAIN. So was true as turtle–in imagination–Ned, ha? Preach this doctrine to husbands, and the married women will adore thee.

BELL. Why, faith, I think it will do well enough, if the husband be out of the way, for the wife to show her fondness and impatience of his absence by choosing a lover as like him as she can; and what is unlike, she may help out with her own fancy.

VAIN. But is it not an abuse to the lover to be made a blind of?

BELL. As you say, the abuse is to the lover, not the husband. For ’tis an argument of her great zeal towards him, that she will enjoy him in effigy.

VAIN. It must be a very superstitious country where such zeal passes for true devotion. I doubt it will be damned by all our Protestant husbands for flat idolatry. But, if you can make Alderman Fondlewife of your persuasion, this letter will be needless.

BELL. What! The old banker with the handsome wife?


BELL. Let me see–LAETITIA! Oh, ’tis a delicious morsel. Dear Frank, thou art the truest friend in the world.

VAIN. Ay, am I not? To be continually starting of hares for you to course. We were certainly cut out for one another; for my temper quits an amour just where thine takes it up. But read that; it is an appointment for me, this evening–when Fondlewife will be gone out of town, to meet the master of a ship, about the return of a venture which he’s in danger of losing. Read, read.

BELL. [reads.] Hum, Hum–Out of town this evening, and talks of sending for Mr. Spintext to keep me company; but I’ll take care he shall not be at home. Good! Spintext! Oh, the fanatic one-eyed parson!


BELL. [reads.] Hum, Hum–That your conversation will be much more agreeable, if you can counterfeit his habit to blind the servants. Very good! Then I must be disguised?–With all my heart!–It adds a gusto to an amour; gives it the greater resemblance of theft; and, among us lewd mortals, the deeper the sin the sweeter. Frank, I’m amazed at thy good nature –

VAIN. Faith, I hate love when ’tis forced upon a man, as I do wine. And this business is none of my seeking; I only happened to be, once or twice, where Laetitia was the handsomest woman in company; so, consequently, applied myself to her–and it seems she has taken me at my word. Had you been there, or anybody, ‘t had been the same.

BELL. I wish I may succeed as the same.

VAIN. Never doubt it; for if the spirit of cuckoldom be once raised up in a woman, the devil can’t lay it, until she has done’t.

BELL. Prithee, what sort of fellow is Fondlewife?

VAIN. A kind of mongrel zealot, sometimes very precise and peevish. But I have seen him pleasant enough in his way; much addicted to jealousy, but more to fondness; so that as he is often jealous without a cause, he’s as often satisfied without reason.

BELL. A very even temper, and fit for my purpose. I must get your man Setter to provide my disguise.

VAIN. Ay; you may take him for good and all, if you will, for you have made him fit for nobody else. Well –

BELL. You’re going to visit in return of Sylvia’s letter. Poor rogue! Any hour of the day or night will serve her. But do you know nothing of a new rival there?

VAIN. Yes; Heartwell–that surly, old, pretended woman-hater– thinks her virtuous; that’s one reason why I fail her. I would have her fret herself out of conceit with me, that she may entertain some thoughts of him. I know he visits her every day.

BELL. Yet rails on still, and thinks his love unknown to us. A little time will swell him so, he must be forced to give it birth; and the discovery must needs be very pleasant from himself, to see what pains he will take, and how he will strain to be delivered of a secret, when he has miscarried of it already.

VAIN. Well, good-morrow. Let’s dine together; I’ll meet at the old place.

BELL. With all my heart. It lies convenient for us to pay our afternoon services to our mistresses. I find I am damnably in love, I’m so uneasy for not having seen Belinda yesterday.

VAIN. But I saw my Araminta, yet am as impatient.



BELL. Why, what a cormorant in love am I! Who, not contented with the slavery of honourable love in one place, and the pleasure of enjoying some half a score mistresses of my own acquiring, must yet take Vainlove’s business upon my hands, because it lay too heavy upon his; so am not only forced to lie with other men’s wives for ’em, but must also undertake the harder task of obliging their mistresses. I must take up, or I shall never hold out. Flesh and blood cannot bear it always.


[To him] SHARPER.

SHARP. I’m sorry to see this, Ned. Once a man comes to his soliloquies, I give him for gone.

BELL. Sharper, I’m glad to see thee.

SHARP. What! is Belinda cruel, that you are so thoughtful?

BELL. No, faith, not for that. But there’s a business of consequence fallen out to-day that requires some consideration.

SHARP. Prithee, what mighty business of consequence canst thou have?

BELL. Why, you must know, ’tis a piece of work toward the finishing of an alderman. It seems I must put the last hand to it, and dub him cuckold, that he may be of equal dignity with the rest of his brethren: so I must beg Belinda’s pardon.

SHARP. Faith, e’en give her over for good and all; you can have no hopes of getting her for a mistress; and she is too proud, too inconstant, too affected and too witty, and too handsome for a wife.

BELL. But she can’t have too much money. There’s twelve thousand pound, Tom. ‘Tis true she is excessively foppish and affected; but in my conscience I believe the baggage loves me: for she never speaks well of me herself, nor suffers anybody else to rail at me. Then, as I told you, there’s twelve thousand pound. Hum! Why, faith, upon second thoughts, she does not appear to be so very affected neither.–Give her her due, I think the woman’s a woman, and that’s all. As such, I’m sure I shall like her; for the devil take me if I don’t love all the sex.

SHARP. And here comes one who swears as heartily he hates all the sex.


[To them] HEARTWELL.

BELL. Who? Heartwell? Ay, but he knows better things. How now, George, where hast thou been snarling odious truths, and entertaining company, like a physician, with discourse of their diseases and infirmities? What fine lady hast thou been putting out of conceit with herself, and persuading that the face she had been making all the morning was none of her own? For I know thou art as unmannerly and as unwelcome to a woman as a looking-glass after the smallpox.

HEART. I confess I have not been sneering fulsome lies and nauseous flattery; fawning upon a little tawdry whore, that will fawn upon me again, and entertain any puppy that comes, like a tumbler, with the same tricks over and over. For such, I guess, may have been your late employment.

BELL. Would thou hadst come a little sooner. Vainlove would have wrought thy conversion, and been a champion for the cause.

HEART. What! has he been here? That’s one of love’s April fools; is always upon some errand that’s to no purpose; ever embarking in adventures, yet never comes to harbour.

SHARP. That’s because he always sets out in foul weather, loves to buffet with the winds, meet the tide, and sail in the teeth of opposition.

HEART. What! Has he not dropt anchor at Araminta?

BELL. Truth on’t is she fits his temper best, is a kind of floating island; sometimes seems in reach, then vanishes and keeps him busied in the search.

SHARP. She had need have a good share of sense to manage so capricious a lover.

BELL. Faith I don’t know, he’s of a temper the most easy to himself in the world; he takes as much always of an amour as he cares for, and quits it when it grows stale or unpleasant.

SHARP. An argument of very little passion, very good understanding, and very ill nature.

HEART. And proves that Vainlove plays the fool with discretion.

SHARP. You, Bellmour, are bound in gratitude to stickle for him; you with pleasure reap that fruit, which he takes pains to sow: he does the drudgery in the mine, and you stamp your image on the gold.

BELL. He’s of another opinion, and says I do the drudgery in the mine. Well, we have each our share of sport, and each that which he likes best; ’tis his diversion to set, ’tis mine to cover the partridge.

HEART. And it should be mine to let ’em go again.

SHARP. Not till you had mouthed a little, George. I think that’s all thou art fit for now.

HEART. Good Mr. Young-Fellow, you’re mistaken; as able as yourself, and as nimble, too, though I mayn’t have so much mercury in my limbs; ’tis true, indeed, I don’t force appetite, but wait the natural call of my lust, and think it time enough to be lewd after I have had the temptation.

BELL. Time enough, ay, too soon, I should rather have expected, from a person of your gravity.

HEART. Yet it is oftentimes too late with some of you young, termagant, flashy sinners–you have all the guilt of the intention, and none of the pleasure of the practice–’tis true you are so eager in pursuit of the temptation, that you save the devil the trouble of leading you into it. Nor is it out of discretion that you don’t swallow that very hook yourselves have baited, but you are cloyed with the preparative, and what you mean for a whet, turns the edge of your puny stomachs. Your love is like your courage, which you show for the first year or two upon all occasions; till in a little time, being disabled or disarmed, you abate of your vigour; and that daring blade which was so often drawn, is bound to the peace for ever after.

BELL. Thou art an old fornicator of a singular good principle indeed, and art for encouraging youth, that they may be as wicked as thou art at thy years.

HEART. I am for having everybody be what they pretend to be: a whoremaster be a whoremaster, and not like Vainlove, kiss a lap-dog with passion, when it would disgust him from the lady’s own lips.

BELL. That only happens sometimes, where the dog has the sweeter breath, for the more cleanly conveyance. But, George, you must not quarrel with little gallantries of this nature: women are often won by ’em. Who would refuse to kiss a lap-dog, if it were preliminary to the lips of his lady?

SHARP. Or omit playing with her fan, and cooling her if she were hot, when it might entitle him to the office of warming her when she should be cold?

BELL. What is it to read a play in a rainy day? Though you should be now and then interrupted in a witty scene, and she perhaps preserve her laughter, till the jest were over; even that may be borne with, considering the reward in prospect.

HEART. I confess you that are women’s asses bear greater burdens: are forced to undergo dressing, dancing, singing, sighing, whining, rhyming, flattering, lying, grinning, cringing, and the drudgery of loving to boot.

BELL. O brute, the drudgery of loving!

HEART. Ay! Why, to come to love through all these incumbrances is like coming to an estate overcharged with debts, which, by the time you have paid, yields no further profit than what the bare tillage and manuring of the land will produce at the expense of your own sweat.

BELL. Prithee, how dost thou love?

SHARP. He! He hates the sex.

HEART. So I hate physic too–yet I may love to take it for my health.

BELL. Well come off, George, if at any time you should be taken straying.

SHARP. He has need of such an excuse, considering the present state of his body.

HEART. How d’ye mean?

SHARP. Why, if whoring be purging, as you call it, then, I may say, marriage is entering into a course of physic.

BELL. How, George! Does the wind blow there?

HEART. It will as soon blow north and by south–marry, quotha! I hope in heaven I have a greater portion of grace, and I think I have baited too many of those traps to be caught in one myself.

BELL. Who the devil would have thee? unless ’twere an oysterwoman to propagate young fry for Billingsgate–thy talent will never recommend thee to anything of better quality.

HEART. My talent is chiefly that of speaking truth, which I don’t expect should ever recommend me to people of quality. I thank heaven I have very honestly purchased the hatred of all the great families in town.

SHARP. And you in return of spleen hate them. But could you hope to be received into the alliance of a noble family –

HEART. No; I hope I shall never merit that affliction, to be punished with a wife of birth, be a stag of the first head and bear my horns aloft, like one of the supporters of my wife’s coat. S’death I would not be a Cuckold to e’er an illustrious whore in England.

BELL. What, not to make your family, man and provide for your children?

SHARP. For her children, you mean.

HEART. Ay, there you’ve nicked it. There’s the devil upon devil. Oh, the pride and joy of heart ‘twould be to me to have my son and heir resemble such a duke; to have a fleering coxcomb scoff and cry, ‘Mr. your son’s mighty like his Grace, has just his smile and air of’s face.’ Then replies another, ‘Methinks he has more of the Marquess of such a place about his nose and eyes, though he has my Lord what-d’ye-call’s mouth to a tittle.’ Then I, to put it off as unconcerned, come chuck the infant under the chin, force a smile, and cry, ‘Ay, the boy takes after his mother’s relations,’ when the devil and she knows ’tis a little compound of the whole body of nobility.

BELL+SHARP. Ha, ha, ha!

BELL. Well, but, George, I have one question to ask you –

HEART. Pshaw, I have prattled away my time. I hope you are in no haste for an answer, for I shan’t stay now. [Looking on his watch.]

BELL. Nay, prithee, George –

HEART. No; besides my business, I see a fool coming this way. Adieu.



BELL. What does he mean? Oh, ’tis Sir Joseph Wittoll with his friend; but I see he has turned the corner and goes another way.

SHARP. What in the name of wonder is it?

BELL. Why, a fool.

SHARP. ‘Tis a tawdry outside.

BELL. And a very beggarly lining–yet he may be worth your acquaintance; a little of thy chymistry, Tom, may extract gold from that dirt.

SHARP. Say you so? ‘Faith I am as poor as a chymist, and would be as industrious. But what was he that followed him? Is not he a dragon that watches those golden pippins?

BELL. Hang him, no, he a dragon! If he be, ’tis a very peaceful one. I can ensure his anger dormant; or should he seem to rouse, ’tis but well lashing him, and he will sleep like a top.

SHARP. Ay, is he of that kidney?

BELL. Yet is adored by that bigot, Sir Joseph Wittoll, as the image of valour. He calls him his back, and indeed they are never asunder–yet, last night, I know not by what mischance, the knight was alone, and had fallen into the hands of some night-walkers, who, I suppose, would have pillaged him. But I chanced to come by and rescued him, though I believe he was heartily frightened; for as soon as ever he was loose, he ran away without staying to see who had helped him.

SHARP. Is that bully of his in the army?

BELL. No; but is a pretender, and wears the habit of a soldier, which nowadays as often cloaks cowardice, as a black gown does atheism. You must know he has been abroad–went purely to run away from a campaign; enriched himself with the plunder of a few oaths, and here vents them against the general, who, slighting men of merit, and preferring only those of interest, has made him quit the service.

SHARP. Wherein no doubt he magnifies his own performance.

BELL. Speaks miracles, is the drum to his own praise–the only implement of a soldier he resembles, like that, being full of blustering noise and emptiness –

SHARP. And like that, of no use but to be beaten.

BELL. Right; but then the comparison breaks, for he will take a drubbing with as little noise as a pulpit cushion.

SHARP. His name, and I have done?

BELL. Why, that, to pass it current too, he has gilded with a title: he is called Capt. Bluffe.

SHARP. Well, I’ll endeavour his acquaintance–you steer another course, are bound –

For love’s island: I, for the golden coast. May each succeed in what he wishes most.



SHARP. Sure that’s he, and alone.

SIR JO. Um–Ay, this, this is the very damned place; the inhuman cannibals, the bloody-minded villains, would have butchered me last night. No doubt they would have flayed me alive, have sold my skin, and devoured, etc.

SHARP. How’s this!

SIR JO. An it hadn’t been for a civil gentleman as came by and frighted ’em away–but, agad, I durst not stay to give him thanks.

SHARP. This must be Bellmour he means. Ha! I have a thought –

SIR JO. Zooks, would the captain would come; the very remembrance makes me quake; agad, I shall never be reconciled to this place heartily.

SHARP. ‘Tis but trying, and being where I am at worst, now luck!– cursed fortune! this must be the place, this damned unlucky place –

SIR JO. Agad, and so ’tis. Why, here has been more mischief done, I perceive.

SHARP. No, ’tis gone, ’tis lost–ten thousand devils on that chance which drew me hither; ay, here, just here, this spot to me is hell; nothing to be found, but the despair of what I’ve lost. [Looking about as in search.]

SIR JO. Poor gentleman! By the Lord Harry I’ll stay no longer, for I have found too –

SHARP. Ha! who’s that has found? What have you found? Restore it quickly, or by –

SIR JO. Not I, sir, not I; as I’ve a soul to be saved, I have found nothing but what has been to my loss, as I may say, and as you were saying, sir.

SHARP. Oh, your servant, sir; you are safe, then, it seems. ‘Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good. Well, you may rejoice over my ill fortune, since it paid the price of your ransom.

SIR JO. I rejoice! agad, not I, sir: I’m very sorry for your loss, with all my heart, blood and guts, sir; and if you did but know me, you’d ne’er say I were so ill-natured.

SHARP. Know you! Why, can you be so ungrateful to forget me?

SIR JO. O Lord, forget him! No, no, sir, I don’t forget you– because I never saw your face before, agad. Ha, ha, ha!

SHARP. How! [Angrily.]

SIR JO. Stay, stay, sir, let me recollect–he’s a damned angry fellow–I believe I had better remember him, until I can get out of his sight; but out of sight out of mind, agad. [Aside.]

SHARP. Methought the service I did you last night, sir, in preserving you from those ruffians, might have taken better root in your shallow memory.

SIR JO. Gads-daggers-belts-blades and scabbards, this is the very gentleman! How shall I make him a return suitable to the greatness of his merit? I had a pretty thing to that purpose, if he ha’n’t frighted it out of my memory. Hem! hem! sir, I most submissively implore your pardon for my transgression of ingratitude and omission; having my entire dependence, sir, upon the superfluity of your goodness, which, like an inundation, will, I hope, totally immerge the recollection of my error, and leave me floating, in your sight, upon the full-blown bladders of repentance–by the help of which, I shall once more hope to swim into your favour. [Bows.]

SHARP. So-h, oh, sir, I am easily pacified, the acknowledgment of a gentleman –

SIR JO. Acknowledgment! Sir, I am all over acknowledgment, and will not stick to show it in the greatest extremity by night or by day, in sickness or in health, winter or summer; all seasons and occasions shall testify the reality and gratitude of your superabundant humble servant, Sir Joseph Wittoll, knight. Hem! hem!

SHARP. Sir Joseph Wittoll?

SIR JO. The same, sir, of Wittoll Hall in COMITATU Bucks.

SHARP. Is it possible! Then I am happy to have obliged the mirror of knighthood and pink of courtesie in the age. Let me embrace you.

SIR JO. O Lord, sir!

SHARP. My loss I esteem as a trifle repaid with interest, since it has purchased me the friendship and acquaintance of the person in the world whose character I admire.

SIR JO. You are only pleased to say so, sir. But, pray, if I may be so bold, what is that loss you mention?

SHARP. Oh, term it no longer so, sir. In the scuffle last night I only dropt a bill of a hundred pound, which, I confess, I came half despairing to recover; but, thanks to my better fortune –

SIR JO. You have found it, sir, then, it seems; I profess I’m heartily glad –

SHARP. Sir, your humble servant. I don’t question but you are, that you have so cheap an opportunity of expressing your gratitude and generosity, since the paying so trivial a sum will wholly acquit you and doubly engage me.

SIR JO. What a dickens does he mean by a trivial sum? [Aside.] But ha’n’t you found it, sir!

SHARP. No otherwise, I vow to Gad, but in my hopes in you, sir.

SIR JO. Humh.

SHARP. But that’s sufficient. ‘Twere injustice to doubt the honour of Sir Joseph Wittoll.

SIR JO. O Lord, sir.

SHARP. You are above, I’m sure, a thought so low, to suffer me to lose what was ventured in your service; nay, ’twas in a manner paid down for your deliverance; ’twas so much lent you. And you scorn, I’ll say that for you –

SIR JO. Nay, I’ll say that for myself, with your leave, sir, I do scorn a dirty thing. But, agad, I’m a little out of pocket at present.

SHARP. Pshaw, you can’t want a hundred pound. Your word is sufficient anywhere. ‘Tis but borrowing so much dirt. You have large acres, and can soon repay it. Money is but dirt, Sir Joseph- -mere dirt.

SIR JO. But, I profess, ’tis a dirt I have washed my hands of at present; I have laid it all out upon my Back.

SHARP. Are you so extravagant in clothes, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO. Ha, ha, ha, a very good jest, I profess, ha, ha, ha, a very good jest, and I did not know that I had said it, and that’s a better jest than t’other. ‘Tis a sign you and I ha’n’t been long acquainted; you have lost a good jest for want of knowing me–I only mean a friend of mine whom I call my Back; he sticks as close to me, and follows me through all dangers–he is indeed back, breast, and head-piece, as it were, to me. Agad, he’s a brave fellow. Pauh, I am quite another thing when I am with him: I don’t fear the devil (bless us) almost if he be by. Ah! had he been with me last night –

SHARP. If he had, sir, what then? he could have done no more, nor perhaps have suffered so much. Had he a hundred pound to lose? [Angrily]

SIR JO. O Lord, sir, by no means, but I might have saved a hundred pound: I meant innocently, as I hope to be saved, sir (a damned hot fellow), only, as I was saying, I let him have all my ready money to redeem his great sword from limbo. But, sir, I have a letter of credit to Alderman Fondlewife, as far as two hundred pound, and this afternoon you shall see I am a person, such a one as you would wish to have met with –

SHARP. That you are, I’ll be sworn. [Aside.] Why, that’s great and like yourself.



SIR JO. Oh, here a’ comes–Ay, my Hector of Troy, welcome, my bully, my Back; agad, my heart has gone a pit pat for thee.

BLUFF. How now, my young knight? Not for fear, I hope; he that knows me must be a stranger to fear.

SIR JO. Nay, agad, I hate fear ever since I had like to have died of a fright. But –

BLUFF. But? Look you here, boy, here’s your antidote, here’s your Jesuits’ powder for a shaking fit. But who hast thou got with thee? is he of mettle? [Laying his hand upon his sword.]

SIR JO. Ay, bully, a devilish smart fellow: ‘a will fight like a cock.

BLUFF. Say you so? Then I honour him. But has he been abroad? for every cock will fight upon his own dunghill.

SIR JO. I don’t know, but I’ll present you –

BLUFF. I’ll recommend myself. Sir, I honour you; I understand you love fighting, I reverence a man that loves fighting. Sir, I kiss your hilts.

SHARP. Sir, your servant, but you are misinformed, for, unless it be to serve my particular friend, as Sir Joseph here, my country, or my religion, or in some very justifiable cause, I’m not for it.

BLUFF. O Lord, I beg your pardon, sir, I find you are not of my palate: you can’t relish a dish of fighting without sweet sauce. Now, I think fighting for fighting sake’s sufficient cause; fighting to me’s religion and the laws.

SIR JO. Ah, well said, my Hero; was not that great, sir? by the Lord Harry he says true; fighting is meat, drink, and cloth to him. But, Back, this gentleman is one of the best friends I have in the world, and saved my life last night–you know I told you.

BLUFF. Ay! Then I honour him again. Sir, may I crave your name?

SHARP. Ay, sir, my name’s Sharper.

SIR JO. Pray, Mr. Sharper, embrace my Back. Very well. By the Lord Harry, Mr. Sharper, he’s as brave a fellow as Cannibal, are not you, Bully-Back?

SHARP. Hannibal, I believe you mean, Sir Joseph.

BLUFF. Undoubtedly he did, sir; faith, Hannibal was a very pretty fellow–but, Sir Joseph, comparisons are odious–Hannibal was a very pretty fellow in those days, it must be granted–but alas, sir! were he alive now, he would be nothing, nothing in the earth.

SHARP. How, sir! I make a doubt if there be at this day a greater general breathing.

BLUFF. Oh, excuse me, sir! Have you served abroad, sir?

SHARP. Not I, really, sir.

BLUFF. Oh, I thought so. Why, then, you can know nothing, sir: I am afraid you scarce know the history of the late war in Flanders, with all its particulars.

SHARP. Not I, sir, no more than public letters or gazettes tell us.

BLUFF. Gazette! Why there again now. Why, sir, there are not three words of truth the year round put into the Gazette. I’ll tell you a strange thing now as to that. You must know, sir, I was resident in Flanders the last campaign, had a small post there, but no matter for that. Perhaps, sir, there was scarce anything of moment done but an humble servant of yours, that shall be nameless, was an eye-witness of. I won’t say had the greatest share in’t, though I might say that too, since I name nobody you know. Well, Mr. Sharper, would you think it? In all this time, as I hope for a truncheon, this rascally gazette-writer never so much as once mentioned me–not once, by the wars–took no more notice than as if Nol. Bluffe had not been in the land of the living.

SHARP. Strange!

SIR JO. Yet, by the Lord Harry, ’tis true, Mr. Sharper, for I went every day to coffee-houses to read the gazette myself.

BLUFF. Ay, ay, no matter. You see, Mr. Sharper, after all I am content to retire; live a private person. Scipio and others have done it.

SHARP. Impudent rogue. [Aside.]

SIR JO. Ay, this damned modesty of yours. Agad, if he would put in for’t he might be made general himself yet.

BLUFF. Oh, fie! no, Sir Joseph; you know I hate this.

SIR JO. Let me but tell Mr. Sharper a little, how you ate fire once out of the mouth of a cannon. Agad, he did; those impenetrable whiskers of his have confronted flames –

BLUFF. Death, what do you mean, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO. Look you now. I tell you he’s so modest he’ll own nothing.

BLUFF. Pish, you have put me out, I have forgot what I was about. Pray hold your tongue, and give me leave. [Angrily.]

SIR JO. I am dumb.

BLUFF. This sword I think I was telling you of, Mr. Sharper. This sword I’ll maintain to be the best divine, anatomist, lawyer, or casuist in Europe; it shall decide a controversy or split a cause –

SIR JO. Nay, now I must speak; it will split a hair, by the Lord Harry, I have seen it.

BLUFF. Zounds, sir, it’s a lie; you have not seen it, nor sha’n’t see it; sir, I say you can’t see; what d’ye say to that now?

SIR JO. I am blind.

BLUFF. Death, had any other man interrupted me –

SIR JO. Good Mr. Sharper, speak to him; I dare not look that way.

SHARP. Captain, Sir Joseph’s penitent.

BLUFF. Oh, I am calm, sir, calm as a discharged culverin. But ’twas indiscreet, when you know what will provoke me. Nay, come, Sir Joseph, you know my heat’s soon over.

SIR JO. Well, I am a fool sometimes, but I’m sorry.

BLUFF. Enough.

SIR JO. Come, we’ll go take a glass to drown animosities. Mr. Sharper, will you partake?

SHARP. I wait on you, sir. Nay, pray, Captain; you are Sir Joseph’s back.


ARAMINTA, BELINDA, BETTY waiting, in Araminta’s apartment.

BELIN. Ah! nay, dear; prithee, good, dear, sweet cousin, no more. O Gad! I swear you’d make one sick to hear you.

ARAM. Bless me! what have I said to move you thus?

BELIN. Oh, you have raved, talked idly, and all in commendation of that filthy, awkward, two-legged creature man. You don’t know what you’ve said; your fever has transported you.

ARAM. If love be the fever which you mean, kind heaven avert the cure. Let me have oil to feed that flame, and never let it be extinct till I myself am ashes.

BELIN. There was a whine! O Gad, I hate your horrid fancy. This love is the devil, and, sure, to be in love is to be possessed. ‘Tis in the head, the heart, the blood, the–all over. O Gad, you are quite spoiled. I shall loathe the sight of mankind for your sake.

ARAM. Fie! this is gross affectation. A little of Bellmour’s company would change the scene.

BELIN. Filthy fellow! I wonder, cousin –

ARAM. I wonder, cousin, you should imagine I don’t perceive you love him.

BELIN. Oh, I love your hideous fancy! Ha, ha, ha, love a man!

ARAM. Love a man! yes, you would not love a beast.

BELIN. Of all beasts not an ass–which is so like your Vainlove. Lard, I have seen an ass look so chagrin, ha, ha, ha (you must pardon me, I can’t help laughing), that an absolute lover would have concluded the poor creature to have had darts, and flames, and altars, and all that in his breast. Araminta, come, I’ll talk seriously to you now; could you but see with my eyes the buffoonery of one scene of address, a lover, set out with all his equipage and appurtenances; O Gad I sure you would–But you play the game, and consequently can’t see the miscarriages obvious to every stander by.

ARAM. Yes, yes; I can see something near it when you and Bellmour meet. You don’t know that you dreamt of Bellmour last night, and called him aloud in your sleep.

BELIN. Pish, I can’t help dreaming of the devil sometimes; would you from thence infer I love him?

ARAM. But that’s not all; you caught me in your arms when you named him, and pressed me to your bosom. Sure, if I had not pinched you until you waked, you had stifled me with kisses.

BELIN. O barbarous aspersion!

ARAM. No aspersion, cousin, we are alone. Nay, I can tell you more.

BELIN. I deny it all.

ARAM. What, before you hear it?

BELIN. My denial is premeditated like your malice. Lard, cousin, you talk oddly. Whatever the matter is, O my Sol, I’m afraid you’ll follow evil courses.

ARAM. Ha, ha, ha, this is pleasant.

BELIN. You may laugh, but –

ARAM. Ha, ha, ha!

BELIN. You think the malicious grin becomes you. The devil take Bellmour. Why do you tell me of him?

ARAM. Oh, is it come out? Now you are angry, I am sure you love him. I tell nobody else, cousin. I have not betrayed you yet.

BELIN. Prithee tell it all the world; it’s false.

ARAM. Come, then, kiss and friends.

BELIN. Pish.

ARAM. Prithee don’t be so peevish.

BELIN. Prithee don’t be so impertinent. Betty!

ARAM. Ha, ha, ha!

BETTY. Did your ladyship call, madam?

BELIN. Get my hoods and tippet, and bid the footman call a chair.

ARAM. I hope you are not going out in dudgeon, cousin.


[To them] FOOTMAN.

FOOT. Madam, there are –

BELIN. Is there a chair?

FOOT. No, madam, there are Mr. Bellmour and Mr. Vainlove to wait upon your ladyship.

ARAM. Are they below?

FOOT. No, madam, they sent before, to know if you were at home.

BELIN. The visit’s to you, cousin; I suppose I am at my liberty.

ARAM. Be ready to show ’em up.


[To them] BETTY, with Hoods and Looking-glass.

I can’t tell, cousin; I believe we are equally concerned. But if you continue your humour, it won’t be very entertaining. (I know she’d fain be persuaded to stay.) [Aside.]

BELIN. I shall oblige you, in leaving you to the full and free enjoyment of that conversation you admire.

BELIN. Let me see; hold the glass. Lard, I look wretchedly to- day!

ARAM. Betty, why don’t you help my cousin? [Putting on her hoods.]

BELIN. Hold off your fists, and see that he gets a chair with a high roof, or a very low seat. Stay, come back here, you Mrs. Fidget–you are so ready to go to the footman. Here, take ’em all again, my mind’s changed; I won’t go.



ARAM. So, this I expected. You won’t oblige me, then, cousin, and let me have all the company to myself?

BELIN. No; upon deliberation, I have too much charity to trust you to yourself. The devil watches all opportunities; and in this favourable disposition of your mind, heaven knows how far you may be tempted: I am tender of your reputation.

ARAM. I am obliged to you. But who’s malicious now, Belinda?

BELIN. Not I; witness my heart, I stay out of pure affection.

ARAM. In my conscience I believe you.



BELL. So, fortune be praised! To find you both within, ladies, is –

ARAM. No miracle, I hope.

BELL. Not o’ your side, madam, I confess. But my tyrant there and I, are two buckets that can never come together.

BELIN. Nor are ever like. Yet we often meet and clash.

BELL. How never like! marry, Hymen forbid. But this it is to run so extravagantly in debt; I have laid out such a world of love in your service, that you think you can never be able to pay me all. So shun me for the same reason that you would a dun.

BELIN. Ay, on my conscience, and the most impertinent and troublesome of duns–a dun for money will be quiet, when he sees his debtor has not wherewithal. But a dun for love is an eternal torment that never rests –

BELL. Until he has created love where there was none, and then gets it for his pains. For importunity in love, like importunity at Court, first creates its own interest and then pursues it for the favour.

ARAM. Favours that are got by impudence and importunity, are like discoveries from the rack, when the afflicted person, for his ease, sometimes confesses secrets his heart knows nothing of.

VAIN. I should rather think favours, so gained, to be due rewards to indefatigable devotion. For as love is a deity, he must be served by prayer.

BELIN. O Gad, would you would all pray to love, then, and let us alone.

VAIN. You are the temples of love, and ’tis through you, our devotion must be conveyed.

ARAM. Rather poor silly idols of your own making, which upon the least displeasure you forsake and set up new. Every man now changes his mistress and his religion as his humour varies, or his interest.

VAIN. O madam –

ARAM. Nay, come, I find we are growing serious, and then we are in great danger of being dull. If my music-master be not gone, I’ll entertain you with a new song, which comes pretty near my own opinion of love and your sex. Who’s there? Is Mr. Gavot gone? [Calls.]

FOOT. Only to the next door, madam. I’ll call him.



BELL. Why, you won’t hear me with patience.

ARAM. What’s the matter, cousin?

BELL. Nothing, madam, only –

BELIN. Prithee hold thy tongue. Lard, he has so pestered me with flames and stuff, I think I sha’n’t endure the sight of a fire this twelvemonth.

BELL. Yet all can’t melt that cruel frozen heart.

BELIN. O Gad, I hate your hideous fancy–you said that once before–if you must talk impertinently, for Heaven’s sake let it be with variety; don’t come always, like the devil, wrapt in flames. I’ll not hear a sentence more, that begins with an ‘I burn’–or an ‘I beseech you, madam.’

BELL. But tell me how you would be adored. I am very tractable.

BELIN. Then know, I would be adored in silence.

BELL. Humph, I thought so, that you might have all the talk to yourself. You had better let me speak; for if my thoughts fly to any pitch, I shall make villainous signs.

BELIN. What will you get by that; to make such signs as I won’t understand?

BELL. Ay, but if I’m tongue-tied, I must have all my actions free to–quicken your apprehension–and I-gad let me tell you, my most prevailing argument is expressed in dumb show.



ARAM. Oh, I am glad we shall have a song to divert the discourse. Pray oblige us with the last new song.



Thus to a ripe, consenting maid,
Poor, old, repenting Delia said,
Would you long preserve your lover? Would you still his goddess reign?
Never let him all discover,
Never let him much obtain.


Men will admire, adore and die,
While wishing at your feet they lie: But admitting their embraces,
Wakes ’em from the golden dream;
Nothing’s new besides our faces,
Every woman is the same.

ARAM. So, how de’e like the song, gentlemen?

BELL. Oh, very well performed; but I don’t much admire the words.

ARAM. I expected it; there’s too much truth in ’em. If Mr. Gavot will walk with us in the garden, we’ll have it once again; you may like it better at second hearing. You’ll bring my cousin.

BELL. Faith, madam, I dare not speak to her, but I’ll make signs. [Addresses Belinda in dumb show.]

BELIN. Oh, foh, your dumb rhetoric is more ridiculous than your talking impertinence, as an ape is a much more troublesome animal than a parrot.

ARAM. Ay, cousin, and ’tis a sign the creatures mimic nature well; for there are few men but do more silly things than they say.

BELL. Well, I find my apishness has paid the ransom for my speech, and set it at liberty–though, I confess, I could be well enough pleased to drive on a love-bargain in that silent manner–‘twould save a man a world of lying and swearing at the year’s end. Besides, I have had a little experience, that brings to mind –

When wit and reason both have failed to move; Kind looks and actions (from success) do prove, Ev’n silence may be eloquent in love.


SCENE: The Street.


SILV. Will he not come, then?

LUCY. Yes, yes; come, I warrant him, if you will go in and be ready to receive him.

SILV. Why did you not tell me? Whom mean you?

LUCY. Whom you should mean, Heartwell.

SILV. Senseless creature, I meant my Vainlove.

LUCY. You may as soon hope to recover your own maiden-head as his love. Therefore, e’en set your heart at rest, and in the name of opportunity mind your own business. Strike Heartwell home before the bait’s worn off the hook. Age will come. He nibbled fairly yesterday, and no doubt will be eager enough to-day to swallow the temptation.

SILV. Well, since there’s no remedy–yet tell me–for I would know, though to the anguish of my soul, how did he refuse? Tell me, how did he receive my letter–in anger or in scorn?

LUCY. Neither; but what was ten times worse, with damned senseless indifference. By this light I could have spit in his face. Receive it! Why, he received it as I would one of your lovers that should come empty-handed; as a court lord does his mercer’s bill or a begging dedication–he received it as if ‘t had been a letter from his wife.

SILV. What! did he not read it?

LUCY. Hummed it over, gave you his respects, and said he would take time to peruse it–but then he was in haste.

SILV. Respects, and peruse it! He’s gone, and Araminta has bewitched him from me. Oh, how the name of rival fires my blood. I could curse ’em both; eternal jealousy attend her love, and disappointment meet his. Oh that I could revenge the torment he has caused; methinks I feel the woman strong within me, and vengeance kindles in the room of love.

LUCY. I have that in my head may make mischief.

SILV. How, dear Lucy?

LUCY. You know Araminta’s dissembled coyness has won, and keeps him hers –

SILV. Could we persuade him that she loves another –

LUCY. No, you’re out; could we persuade him that she dotes on him, himself. Contrive a kind letter as from her, ‘twould disgust his nicety, and take away his stomach.

SILV. Impossible; ’twill never take.

LUCY. Trouble not your head. Let me alone–I will inform myself of what passed between ’em to-day, and about it straight. Hold, I’m mistaken, or that’s Heartwell, who stands talking at the corner–’tis he–go get you in, madam, receive him pleasantly, dress up your face in innocence and smiles, and dissemble the very want of dissimulation. You know what will take him.

SILV. ‘Tis as hard to counterfeit love as it is to conceal it: but I’ll do my weak endeavour, though I fear I have not art.

LUCY. Hang art, madam, and trust to nature for dissembling.

Man was by nature woman’s cully made: We never are but by ourselves betrayed.



BELL. Hist, hist, is not that Heartwell going to Silvia?

VAIN. He’s talking to himself, I think; prithee let’s try if we can hear him.

HEART. Why, whither in the devil’s name am I agoing now? Hum–let me think–is not this Silvia’s house, the cave of that enchantress, and which consequently I ought to shun as I would infection? To enter here is to put on the envenomed shirt, to run into the embraces of a fever, and in some raving fit, be led to plunge myself into that more consuming fire, a woman’s arms. Ha! well recollected, I will recover my reason, and be gone.

BELL. Now Venus forbid!

VAIN. Hush –

HEART. Well, why do you not move? Feet, do your office–not one inch; no, fore Gad I’m caught. There stands my north, and thither my needle points. Now could I curse myself, yet cannot repent. O thou delicious, damned, dear, destructive woman! S’death, how the young fellows will hoot me! I shall be the jest of the town: nay, in two days I expect to be chronicled in ditty, and sung in woful ballad, to the tune of the Superannuated Maiden’s Comfort, or the Bachelor’s Fall; and upon the third, I shall be hanged in effigy, pasted up for the exemplary ornament of necessary houses and cobblers’ stalls. Death, I can’t think on’t–I’ll run into the danger to lose the apprehension.



BELL. A very certain remedy, probatum est. Ha, ha, ha, poor George, thou art i’ th’ right, thou hast sold thyself to laughter; the ill-natured town will find the jest just where thou hast lost it. Ha, ha, how a’ struggled, like an old lawyer between two fees.

VAIN. Or a young wench between pleasure and reputation.

BELL. Or as you did to-day, when half afraid you snatched a kiss from Araminta.

VAIN. She has made a quarrel on’t.

BELL. Pauh, women are only angry at such offences to have the pleasure of forgiving them.

VAIN. And I love to have the pleasure of making my peace. I should not esteem a pardon if too easily won.

BELL. Thou dost not know what thou wouldst be at; whether thou wouldst have her angry or pleased. Couldst thou be content to marry Araminta?

VAIN. Could you be content to go to heaven?

BELL. Hum, not immediately, in my conscience not heartily. I’d do a little more good in my generation first, in order to deserve it.

VAIN. Nor I to marry Araminta till I merit her.

BELL. But how the devil dost thou expect to get her if she never yield?

VAIN. That’s true; but I would –

BELL. Marry her without her consent; thou ‘rt a riddle beyond woman –


[To them] SETTER.

Trusty Setter, what tidings? How goes the project?

SETTER. As all lewd projects do, sir, where the devil prevents our endeavours with success.

BELL. A good hearing, Setter.

VAIN. Well, I’ll leave you with your engineer.

BELL. And hast thou provided necessaries?

SETTER. All, all, sir; the large sanctified hat, and the little precise band, with a swinging long spiritual cloak, to cover carnal knavery–not forgetting the black patch, which Tribulation Spintext wears, as I’m informed, upon one eye, as a penal mourning for the ogling offences of his youth; and some say, with that eye he first discovered the frailty of his wife.

BELL. Well, in this fanatic father’s habit will I confess Laetitia.

SETTER. Rather prepare her for confession, sir, by helping her to sin.

BELL. Be at your master’s lodging in the evening; I shall use the robes.


SETTER alone.

SETTER. I shall, sir. I wonder to which of these two gentlemen I do most properly appertain: the one uses me as his attendant; the other (being the better acquainted with my parts) employs me as a pimp; why, that’s much the more honourable employment–by all means. I follow one as my master, the other follows me as his conductor.


[To him] Lucy.

LUCY. There’s the hang-dog, his man–I had a power over him in the reign of my mistress; but he is too true a VALET DE CHAMBRE not to affect his master’s faults, and consequently is revolted from his allegiance.

SETTER. Undoubtedly ’tis impossible to be a pimp and not a man of parts. That is without being politic, diligent, secret, wary, and so forth–and to all this valiant as Hercules–that is, passively valiant and actively obedient. Ah, Setter, what a treasure is here lost for want of being known.

LUCY. Here’s some villainy afoot; he’s so thoughtful. May be I may discover something in my mask. Worthy sir, a word with you. [Puts on her mask.]

SETTER. Why, if I were known, I might come to be a great man –

LUCY. Not to interrupt your meditation –

SETTER. And I should not be the first that has procured his greatness by pimping.

LUCY. Now poverty and the pox light upon thee for a contemplative pimp.

SETTER. Ha! what art who thus maliciously hast awakened me from my dream of glory? Speak, thou vile disturber –

LUCY. Of thy most vile cogitations–thou poor, conceited wretch, how wert thou valuing thyself upon thy master’s employment? For he’s the head pimp to Mr. Bellmour.

SETTER. Good words, damsel, or I shall–But how dost thou know my master or me?

LUCY. Yes; I know both master and man to be –

SETTER. To be men, perhaps; nay, faith, like enough: I often march in the rear of my master, and enter the breaches which he has made.

LUCY. Ay, the breach of faith, which he has begun: thou traitor to thy lawful princess.

SETTER. Why, how now! prithee who art? Lay by that worldly face and produce your natural vizor.

LUCY. No, sirrah, I’ll keep it on to abuse thee and leave thee without hopes of revenge.

SETTER. Oh! I begin to smoke ye: thou art some forsaken Abigail we have dallied with heretofore–and art come to tickle thy imagination with remembrance of iniquity past.

LUCY. No thou pitiful flatterer of thy master’s imperfections; thou maukin made up of the shreds and parings of his superfluous fopperies.

SETTER. Thou art thy mistress’s foul self, composed of her sullied iniquities and clothing.

LUCY. Hang thee, beggar’s cur, thy master is but a mumper in love, lies canting at the gate; but never dares presume to enter the house.

SETTER. Thou art the wicket to thy mistress’s gate, to be opened for all comers. In fine thou art the highroad to thy mistress.

LUCY. Beast, filthy toad, I can hold no longer, look and tremble. [Unmasks.]

SETTER. How, Mrs. Lucy!

LUCY. I wonder thou hast the impudence to look me in the face.

SETTER. Adsbud, who’s in fault, mistress of mine? who flung the first stone? who undervalued my function? and who the devil could know you by instinct?

LUCY. You could know my office by instinct, and be hanged, which you have slandered most abominably. It vexes me not what you said of my person; but that my innocent calling should be exposed and scandalised–I cannot bear it.

SETTER. Nay, faith, Lucy, I’m sorry, I’ll own myself to blame, though we were both in fault as to our offices–come, I’ll make you any reparation.

LUCY. Swear.

SETTER. I do swear to the utmost of my power.

LUCY. To be brief, then; what is the reason your master did not appear to-day according to the summons I brought him?

SETTER. To answer you as briefly–he has a cause to be tried in another court.

LUCY. Come, tell me in plain terms, how forward he is with Araminta.

SETTER. Too forward to be turned back–though he’s a little in disgrace at present about a kiss which he forced. You and I can kiss, Lucy, without all that.

LUCY. Stand off–he’s a precious jewel.

SETTER. And therefore you’d have him to set in your lady’s locket.

LUCY. Where is he now?

SETTER. He’ll be in the Piazza presently.

LUCY. Remember to-day’s behaviour. Let me see you with a penitent face.

SETTER. What, no token of amity, Lucy? You and I don’t use to part with dry lips.

LUCY. No, no, avaunt–I’ll not be slabbered and kissed now–I’m not i’ th’ humour.

SETTER. I’ll not quit you so. I’ll follow and put you into the humour.



BLUFF. And so, out of your unwonted generosity –

SIR JO. And good-nature, Back; I am good-natured and I can’t help it.

BLUFF. You have given him a note upon Fondlewife for a hundred pound.

SIR JO. Ay, ay, poor fellow; he ventured fair for’t.

BLUFF. You have disobliged me in it–for I have occasion for the money, and if you would look me in the face again and live, go, and force him to redeliver you the note. Go, and bring it me hither. I’ll stay here for you.

SIR JO. You may stay until the day of judgment, then, by the Lord Harry. I know better things than to be run through the guts for a hundred pounds. Why, I gave that hundred pound for being saved, and de’e think, an there were no danger, I’ll be so ungrateful to take it from the gentleman again?

BLUFF. Well, go to him from me–tell him, I say, he must refund– or Bilbo’s the world, and slaughter will ensue. If he refuse, tell him–but whisper that–tell him–I’ll pink his soul. But whisper that softly to him.

SIR JO. So softly that he shall never hear on’t, I warrant you. Why, what a devil’s the matter, Bully; are you mad? or de’e think I’m mad? Agad, for my part, I don’t love to be the messenger of ill news; ’tis an ungrateful office–so tell him yourself.

BLUFF. By these hilts I believe he frightened you into this composition: I believe you gave it him out of fear, pure, paltry fear–confess.

SIR JO. No, no, hang’t; I was not afraid neither–though I confess he did in a manner snap me up–yet I can’t say that it was altogether out of fear, but partly to prevent mischief–for he was a devilish choleric fellow. And if my choler had been up too, agad, there would have been mischief done, that’s flat. And yet I believe if you had been by, I would as soon have let him a’ had a hundred of my teeth. Adsheart, if he should come just now when I’m angry, I’d tell him–Mum.



BELL. Thou ‘rt a lucky rogue; there’s your benefactor; you ought to return him thanks now you have received the favour.

SHARP. Sir Joseph! Your note was accepted, and the money paid at sight. I’m come to return my thanks –

SIR JO. They won’t be accepted so readily as the bill, sir.

BELL. I doubt the knight repents, Tom. He looks like the knight of the sorrowful face.

SHARP. This is a double generosity: do me a kindness and refuse my thanks. But I hope you are not offended that I offered them.

SIR JO. May be I am, sir, may be I am not, sir, may be I am both, sir; what then? I hope I may be offended without any offence to you, sir.

SHARP. Hey day! Captain, what’s the matter? You can tell.

BLUFF. Mr. Sharper, the matter is plain: Sir Joseph has found out your trick, and does not care to be put upon, being a man of honour.

SHARP. Trick, sir?

SIR JO. Ay, trick, sir, and won’t be put upon, sir, being a man of honour, sir, and so, sir –

SHARP. Harkee, Sir Joseph, a word with ye. In consideration of some favours lately received, I would not have you draw yourself into a PREMUNIRE, by trusting to that sign of a man there–that pot-gun charged with wind.

SIR JO. O Lord, O Lord, Captain, come justify yourself–I’ll give him the lie if you’ll stand to it.

SHARP. Nay, then, I’ll be beforehand with you, take that, oaf. [Cuffs him.]

SIR JO. Captain, will you see this? Won’t you pink his soul?

BLUFF. Husht, ’tis not so convenient now–I shall find a time.

SHARP. What do you mutter about a time, rascal? You were the incendiary. There’s to put you in mind of your time.–A memorandum. [Kicks him.]

BLUFF. Oh, this is your time, sir; you had best make use on’t.

SHARP. I–Gad and so I will: there’s again for you. [Kicks him.]

BLUFF. You are obliging, sir, but this is too public a place to thank you in. But in your ear, you are to be seen again?

SHARP. Ay, thou inimitable coward, and to be felt–as for example. [Kicks him.]

BELL. Ha, ha, ha, prithee come away; ’tis scandalous to kick this puppy unless a man were cold and had no other way to get himself aheat.



BLUFF. Very well–very fine–but ’tis no matter. Is not this fine, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO. Indifferent, agad, in my opinion, very indifferent. I’d rather go plain all my life than wear such finery.

BLUFF. Death and hell to be affronted thus! I’ll die before I’ll suffer it. [Draws]

SIR JO. O Lord, his anger was not raised before. Nay, dear Captain, don’t be in passion now he’s gone. Put up, put up, dear Back, ’tis your Sir Joseph begs, come let me kiss thee; so, so, put up, put up.

BLUFF. By heaven, ’tis not to be put up.

SIR JO. What, Bully?

BLUFF. The affront.

SIR JO. No, aged, no more ’tis, for that’s put up all already; thy sword, I mean.

BLUFF. Well, Sir Joseph, at your entreaty–But were not you, my friend, abused, and cuffed, and kicked? [Putting up his sword.]

SIR JO. Ay, ay, so were you too; no matter, ’tis past.

BLUFF. By the immortal thunder of great guns, ’tis false–he sucks not vital air who dares affirm it to this face. [Looks big.]

SIR JO. To that face I grant you, Captain. No, no, I grant you– not to that face, by the Lord Harry. If you had put on your fighting face before, you had done his business–he durst as soon have kissed you, as kicked you to your face. But a man can no more help what’s done behind his back than what’s said–Come, we’ll think no more of what’s past.

BLUFF. I’ll call a council of war within to consider of my revenge to come.


HEARTWELL, SILVIA. Silvia’s apartment.


As Amoret and Thyrsis lay
Melting the hours in gentle play,
Joining faces, mingling kisses,
And exchanging harmless blisses:
He trembling cried, with eager haste, O let me feed as well as taste,
I die, if I’m not wholly blest.
[After the song a dance of antics.]

SILV. Indeed it is very fine. I could look upon ’em all day.

HEART. Well has this prevailed for me, and will you look upon me?

SILV. If you could sing and dance so, I should love to look upon you too.

HEART. Why, ’twas I sung and danced; I gave music to the voice, and life to their measures. Look you here, Silvia, [pulling out a purse and chinking it] here are songs and dances, poetry and music- -hark! how sweetly one guinea rhymes to another–and how they dance to the music of their own chink. This buys all t’other–and this thou shalt have; this, and all that I am worth, for the purchase of thy love. Say, is it mine then, ha? Speak, Syren–Oons, why do I look on her! Yet I must. Speak, dear angel, devil, saint, witch; do not rack me with suspense.

SILV. Nay, don’t stare at me so. You make me blush–I cannot look.

HEART. O manhood, where art thou? What am I come to? A woman’s