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Serv. No, sir.
Joseph S. I am surprised she has not sent, if she is prevented from coming." Sir Peter certainly does not suspect
Yet, I wish I may not lose the heiress, through the scrape I have drawn myself into with the wife; however, Charles's imprudence and bad character are great poiuts in
[Knocking heard without, L, Serv. Sir, I believe that must be Lady Teazle.
Joseph S. Hold !-See whether it is or not before you go to the door: I have a particular message for you, if it should be my brother.
Serv. 'Tis her ladyship, sir; she always leares her chair at the milliner's in the next street.
Joseph S. Stay, stay; draw that screen before the window- [ Servant does so.)--that will do ;-my opposite neighbour is a lady of a curious temper. -[Servant erit )- I have a difficult hand to play in this affair. - Lady Teazle has lately suspected my views on Maria ; but she must by no means be let into that secret,- at least, till I have her more in my power.
Enter LADY T'EAZLE, Loi
Lady T. What, sentiment in soliloquy now? Have you been very impatient ?-0 Lud! don't pretend to look grave.- I vow I couldn't come before.
[Crosses, R. Joseph S. (L.) O, madam, punctuality is a species of constancy, very unfashionable in a lady of quality.
(Places chairs, and sits after Lady Teazle is seated. Lady T. (R.) Upon my word you ought to pity me. Do you know Sir Peter is growo so ill-natured to me of late, and so jealous of Charles too--that's the best of the story, isn't it? Joseph S. I am glad my scandalous friends keep that up.
[ Aside. Lady T. I am sure I wish he would let Maria marry him, and then perhaps he would be convinced ; don't you, Mr. Surface ?
Joseph S. Indeed I do not. [Aside.)-Oh certainly I do! for then my dear Lady Teazle would also be convinced, flow wrong her suspicions were of my having any design on the silly girl.
Lady 7. Well, well, I'm inclined to believe you. But is'nt it provoking, to have the most ill-natured things said of one ! -And there's nay fricnd, Lady Sncerwell, has circu
Jated I don't know how many scandalous tales of me, and all without any foundation too-that's what vexes me.
Joseph S. Aye, madam, to be sure, that is the provoking circumstance-without foundation ; yes, yes, there's the mortification, indeed; for when a scandalous story is ben lieved against one, there certainly is no comfort like the consciousness of having deserved it.
Lady T. No, to be sure, then I'd forgive their malice; but to attack me, who am really so innocent, and who never say an ill-natured thing of any body—that is, of any friend; and then Sir Peter too, to have him so peevish, and so suspicious, when I know the integrity of my own heart indeed, 'tis monstrous ! Joseph S. But, my dear Lady 'Teazle, 'tis your own
fault if you suffer it. When a husband entertains a groundless suspicion of his wife, and withdraws his confidence from her, the original compact is broken, and she owes it to the honour of her sex to endeavour to outwit him.
Lady T. Indeed!mso that if he suspects me without cause, it follows, that the best way of curing his jealousy is to give him reason for't.
Joseph S. Undoubtedly-for your husband should never be deceived in you,--and in that case it becomes you to be frail in compliment to his discernment.
Lady T. To be sure, what you say is very reasonable ; and when the consciousness of my innocence
Joseph S. Ah! my dear madam, there is the great mistake : 'tis this very conscious innocence that is of the greatest prejudice to you. What is it makes you negligent of forms, and careless of the world's opinion ?-why, the consciousness of your own innocence. What makes you thoughtless in your conduct, and apt to run into a thousand little imprudences !---why, the consciousness of your own innocence. What makes you inpatient of Sir Peter's temper, and outrageous at his suspicions ?--why, the consciousness of your innocence.
Lady T. 'Tis very true!
Joseph S. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would but once make a trifling faux pas, you can't conceive how cautious you would grow,
and how ready to humour and agree with your husband.
Lady T. Do you think so ?
would find all scandal would cease at once ; for, in short, your charac
and then you
ter at present is like a person in a plethora, absolutely dying from too much health.
Lady T. So, so; then I perceive your prescription is, that I must sin in my own defeuce, and part with my virtue to preserve my reputation.
Joseph S. Exactly so, upon my credit, ma'am.
Lady T. Well, certainly this is the oddest doctrine, and the newest receipt for avoiding calumny!
Joseph S. An infallible one, believe me. Prudence, like experience, must be paid for.
Lady T. Why, if my understanding were once convinced
Joseph S. O, certainly, madam, your understanding should be conviuced.-Yes, yes-heaven forbid I should persuade you to do any thing you thought wrong. No, no, I have too much honour to desire it.
Lady T. Don't you think we may as well leave honour out of the argument ?
[Rises. Joseph S. Ah! the ill effects of your couptry education, I see, still remain with you.
[Rises. Lady T. I doubt they do indeed ; and I will fairly own to you, that if I could be persuaded to do wrong, it would be by Sir Peter's ill usage, sooner than your honourable logic, after all. ; Joseph S. Then, by this hand, which he is unworthy of
[Taking her hand. Enter SERVANT, L. Sdeath, you blockhead – what do you want ?
Serv. I beg your pardon, sir, but I thought you would not choose Sir Peter to come up without announcing him.
Joseph S. Sir Peter !-Oons—the devil !
Lady T. Oh! I'ın quite undone! What will become of me? Now, Mr. Logic~Oh! mercy, sir, he's on the stairs -I'll get behind here-and if ever I'm so imprudent again
[Goes behind the screen. Joseph S. Give me that book. (Sits down. R. C. ; Servant pretends to adjust his chair.
Enter SIR PETER. Sir P. Ay, ever improving himself-Mr. Surface, Mr. Surface !
[Taps Joseph on the shoulier. Joseph $.-Oh! my dear Sir Peter, I beg your pardon
(Gaping—throws away the book.]-I have been dozing over a stupid book.-Well, I am much obliged to you for this call, You haven't been here, I believe, since I fitted up this room. -Books, you know, are the only things I am a coxcomb in.
Sir P. "Tis very neat indeed.—Well, well, that's proper; and you can make even your screen a source of knowledge -hung, I perceive, with maps ? [Walking up towards screen. Joseph S. 0, yes, I find great use in that screen.
[Turning Sir Peter away from screen, R. Sir P. I dare say you must, certainly, when you want to find any thing in a hurry. Joseph S. Aye, or to hide any thing in a hurry either.
[Aside. Sir P. Well, I have a little private business
Joseph S. You need not stay. [To the Servant, who places chairs. Eirit Servant, L.) Here's a chair, Sir Peter-I beg
Sir P. [Sits, L.) Well, now we are alone, there is a subject, my dear friend, on which I wish to unburthen my mind to you—a point of the greatest moment to my peace; in short, my good friend, Lady Teazle's conduct of late has made me very unhappy.
Joseph S. (Seated, R.] Indeed! I am very sorry to hear it.
Sir P. Yes, 'tis but too plain she has not the least regard for me; but, what's worse, I have pretty good authority to suppose she has formed an attachment to another.
Joseph S. Indeed! you astonish me!
Sir P. Yes; and, between ourselves, I think I've discovered the person.
Joseph S. How! you alarm me exceedingly. Sir P. Ay, my dear friend, I knew you would sympathise with me!
Joseph S. Yes—believe me, Sir Peter, such a discovery would hurt me just as much as it would you.
Sir P. I am convinced of it.-Ah! it is a happiness to have a friend whom we can trust even with one's family secrets. But have you no guess who I mean?
Joseph S. I haven't the most distant idea. It can't be Sir Benjamin Backbite ?
Sir P. Oh, no! What say you to Charles ?
Sir P. Oh! my dear friend, the goodness of your own heart misleads you. You judge of others by yourself.
Joseph S. Certainly, Sir Peter, the heart that is conscicus of its own integrity is ever slow to credit another's treachery,
Sir P. True—but your brother has no sentiment-you never hear him talk so.
Joseph S. Yet, I can't but think Lady Teazle herself has too much principle.
Sir P. y,—but what is principle against the flattery of a handsome, lively young fellow.
Joseph S. That's very true.
Sir P. And then, you know, the difference of our ages makes it very improbable that she should have any very great affection for me, and if she were to be frail, and I were to make it public, why the town would only laugh at
the foolish old bachelor, who had married a girl. Joseph S. That's true, to be sure-they would laugh.
Sir P. Laugh-ay, and make ballads, and paragraphs, and the devil knows what, of me.
Joseph S. No-you must never make it public.
Sir P. But then again—that the nephew of my old friend, Sir Oliver, should be the person to attempt such a wrong, hurts me more nearly.
· Joseph S. Ay, there's the point.-When ingratitude barbs the dart of injury, the wound has double danger in it.
Sir P. Ay-1, that was, in a manner, left his guardian; in whose house he had been so often entertained; who never in my life denied him-any advice.
Joseph S. 0, 'tis not to be credited. There may be a man capable of such baseness, to be sure ; but for any part, till you can give me positive proofs, I cannot but doubt it. However, if it should be proved on him, he is no longer a brother of mine-I disclaim kindred with him: for the man who can break through the laws of hospitality, and tempt the wife of his friend, deserves to be branded as the pest of society.
Sir P. What a difference there is between you ! what noble sentiments !
Joseph S. Yet, I cannot suspect Lady Teazle's honour.
Sir P. I am sure I wish to think well of her, and to remove all ground of quarrel between us. She has lately reproached me more than once with having made no settlement on her : and, in our last quarrel, she almost hinted that she should not break her heart if I was dead. Now, as we seem to differ in our ideas of expense, I have resolved she shall have her own way, and be her own mistress, in that respect for the future; and if I were to die, she will find I have not been inattentive to her interest while living. Here, my friend, are the drafts of two deeds, which I wish