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behold me as obsequious, as thoughtful, and as constant a coxcomb, as your worship.
Wor. For whom?
Plume. For a regiment. But for a woman! 'Sdeath! I have been constant to fifteen at a time, bui never melancholy for one: and can the love of one bring' you into this condition ? Pray, who is this wonderful Helen?
Wor. A Helen, indeed! not to be won under ten years' siege; as great a beauty, and as great a jilt.
Plume. A jilt! pho! is she as great a whore?
Plume. 'Tis ten thousand pities.! But who is she? Do I know her ?
Wor. Very well.
Plume. That's impossible I know no woman that will hold out a ten years' siege.
Wor. What think you of Melinda ?
Plunie. Melinda ! why she began to capitulate this time twelvemonth, and offered to surrender upon honourable terms: and I advised you to propose a settlement of five hundred pounds a-year to her, before I went last abroad.
Wor. I did, and she hearkened to it, desiring only one week to consider--when beyond her hopes the town was relieved, and I forced to turn the siege into a blockade.
Plume. Explain, explain.
Wor. My Lady Richly, her aunt in Flintshire, dies, and leaves her, at this critical time, twenty thousand pounds.
Plume. Oh, the devil! what a delicate woman was there spoiled ! But, by the rules of war, now Worthy, blockade was foolish–After such a convoy of provisions was entered the place, you could have no thought of reducing it by famine ; you should have redoubler your attacks, taken the town by storm, or have died upon the breach.
Wor. I did make one general assault, but was so vigorously repulsed, that, despairing of ever gaining her for a mistress, I have altered my conduct, given my addresses the obsequious and distant turn, and court her now for a wife.
Plume. So, as you grew obsequious, she grew haughty; and, because you approached her like a goddess, she used you like a dog.
Plume. 'Tis the way of them all -Come, Wor thy, your obsequious and distant airs will never bring you together; you must not think to surmount her pride by your humility. Would you bring her to better thoughts of you, she must be reduced to a meaner opinion of herself. Let me see, the
very first thing that I would do, should be to lie with her chambermaid, and hire three or four wenches in the neighbourhood to report, that I had got them with child.-Suppose we lampooned all the pretty women in town, and left her out; or what if we made a ball, and forgot to invite her, with one or two of the ugliest? Wor. These would be mortifications I must con
but we live in such a precise, dull place, that we can have no balls, no lampoons, no
Plume. What, no bastards! and so many recruiting officers in town! I thought'twas a maxim among them, to leave as many recruits in the country as they carried out.
Wor. Nobody doubts your good will, noble captain, in serving yourcountry; witness our friend Molly, at the Castle; there have been tears in town about that business, captain.
Plume. I hope Sylvia has not heard of it.
Wor. Oh, sir, have you thought of her? I began to fancy you had forgot poor Sylvia.
Plume. Your affairs had quite put mine out of my head. 'Tis true, Sylvia and I had once agreed to go
to bed together, could we have adjusted preliminaries; but she would have the wedding before corsummation, and I was for consummation before the wedding: we could not agree.
Wor. But do you intend to marry upon no other conditions ?
Plume. Your pardon, sir; I'll marry upon no condition at all. If I should, I am resolved never to bind myself down to a woman for my whole life, till I know whether I shall like her company for half an hour. Suppose I married a woman without a legsuch a thing might be, unless I examined the goods beforehand.-If people would but try one another's constitutions before they engaged, it would prevent all these elopements, divorces, and the devil knows what.
Wor. Nay, for that matter, the town did not stick to say that
Plume. I hate country towns for that reason..If your town has a dishonourable thought of Sylvia, it deserves to be burnt to the ground. I love Sylvia, I admire her frank, generous disposition--there's something in that girl more than woman-In short, were I once a general, I would marry her.
Wor. 'Faith, you have reason for were you but a corporal, she would marry you—but my Melinda 7 coquets it with every fellow she sees I'll lay fifty pounds she makes love to you.
Plume. I'll lay you a hundred, that I return it if she does--Lookye, Worthy, I'll win her, and give her
afterwards. Wor. If you win her, you shall wear her, 'faith; I would not value the conquest, without the credit of the victory.
Plume. You may speak out, here are none but friends.
Kite. You know, sir, that you sent me to comfort the good woman in the straw, Mrs Molly-My wife, Mr Worthy.
Wor. O ho! very well. I wish you joy, Mr Kite.
Kiie. Your worship very well may; for I have got both a wife and a child in half an hour.-But as I was saying--you sent me to comfort Mrs Molly--my wife, I mean--but what d’ye think, sir ? she was bet. ter comforted before I came.
Plume. As how?
Kite. Why, sir, a fuotman in a blue livery had brought her ten guineas to buy her baby-clothes.
Plume. Who, in the name of wonder, could send them? Kile. Nay, sir, I must whisper that-Mrs Sylvia. Plume. Sylvia! generous creature ! Wor. Sylvia ! impossible!
Kite. Here are the guineas, sir, I took the gold as part
my wife's portion. Nay, farther, sir, she sent word the child should be taken all imaginable care of, and that she intended to stand godmother. The same footman, as I was coming to you with this news, called after me, and told me, that his lady would speak to me. I went, and upon bearing that you were come to town, she gave me half a guinea for the news, and ordered me to tell you, that Justice Balai her father, who is just come out of the country, would be glad to see you.
Plume. There's a girl for you, Worthy Is there any thing of woman in this? no, 'tis noble, generous, manly friendship. Shew me another woman that would lose an inch of her prerogative that way, without tears, fits, and reproaches. The common jealousy of her sex, which is nothing but their avarice of pleasure, she despises, and can part with the lover,
though she dies for the man.- Come, Worthywhere's the best wine? for there I'll quarter.
Wor. At Horton's.
Plume. Let's away, then-Mr Kite, go to the lady, with
my humble service, and tell her, I shall only refresh a little, and wait upon her.
Wor. Hold, Kite--have you seen the other recruiting captain!
Kite. No, sir; I'd have you to know I don't keep such company
Plume. Another! who is he?
Wor. My rival, in the first place, and the most unaccountable fellow-- but I'll tell you more as we go.
MELINDA and Sylvia meeting.
Mel. Welcome to town, cousin Sylvia. [Salute.] I envied you your retreat in the country; for Shrewsr bury, methinks, and all your heads of shires, are the
most irregular places for living: here we have smoke, scandal, affectation, and pretension; in short, every thing to give the spleen--and nothing to divert it then the air is intolerable.
Syl. Oh, madam! I have heard the town commended for its air.
Mel. But you don't consider, Sylvia, how long' I have lived in it; for I can assure you that to a lady the least nice in her constitution, no air can be good above half a year. Change of air I take to be the most agreeable of any variety in life.