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tell you, I would have mirth continued this day at any rate; though patience purchase folly, and attention be paid with noise. There are times when sense may be unseasonable, as well as truth. Pry thee do thou wear none to-day, but allow Brisk to have wit, that thou mayst seem a fool.
Care. Why, how now? Why this extravagant proposition ?
Mel. O, I would have no room for serious design, for I am jealous of a plot. I would have noise and impertinence keep my Lady Touchwood's head from working: for hell is not more busy than her brain, nor contains more devils than that imaginations.
Care. I thought your fear of her had been over. Is not to-morrow appointed for your marriage with Cynthia, and her father Sir Paul Plyant come to settle the writings this day, on purpose ?
Mel. True; but you shall judge whether I have not reason to be alarmed. None besides you and Maskwell are acquainted with the secret of my aunt Touchwood's violent passion for me. Since
first refusal of her addresses, she has endeavoured to do me all the ill offices with my uncle ; yet has managed them with that subtilty, that to him they have borne the face of kindness, while her malice, like a dark lanthorn, only shone upon me, where it was directed. Still it gave me less perplexity to prevent the success of her displeasure, than to avoid the importunities of her love; and of two evils, I thought myself favoured in her aversion : but whether urged by her despair, and the short prospect of time she saw, to
accomplish her designs: whether the hopes of revenge or of her love, terminated in the view of this my mar, riage with Cynthia, I know not; but this morning she surprized me in my bed.
Care. Was there ever such a fury! 'Tis well na ture has not put it into her sex's power to ravish.Well, bless us ! proceed. What followed ?
Mel. What at first amazed me; for I looked to have seen her in all the transports of a slighted and revengeful woman; but when I expected thunder from her voice, and lightning in her eyes, I saw her melted into tears, and hushed into a sigh. It was long before either of us spoke, passion had tied her tongue, and amazement mine.-In short, the consequence was thus: she omitted nothing that the most violent love could urge, or tender words express ; which when she saw had no effect (but still I pleaded honour, and nearness of blood to my uncle) then came the storm I feared at first; for, starting from my bed. side like a fury, she flew to my sword, and with much ado I prevented her doing mę or herself a mischief: having disarmed her, in a gust of passion she left me, and, in a resolution, confirmed by a thousand cursesy not to close her eyes till they had seen my ruin.
Care. Exquisite woman! But what the devil does she think that thou hast no more sense than to get an heir upon her body to disinherit thyself :--for, as I take it, this settlement upon you is with a proviso that your uncle have no children. Mel. It is so. Well, the service you are to do me
will be a pleasure to yourself; I must get you to engage my Lady Plyant all this evening, that my pious aunt may not work her to her interest. And if you chance to secure her to yourself, you may incline her to mine. She is handsome, and knows it; is very silly, and thinks she has sense, and has an old fond husband.
Care. I confess a very fair foundation for a lover to
Mel. For my Lord Froth, he and his wife will be sufficiently taken up with admiring one another, and Brisk's gallantry, as they call it. I'll observe my uncle myself; and Jack Maskwell has promised me to watch my aunt narrowly, and give me notice upon any suspicion. As for Sir Paul, my wise father-in-law that is to be, my dear Cynthia has such a share in his fatherly fondness, he would scarce make her a moment uneasy, to have her happy hereafter.
Care. So, you have manned your works; but I wish you may not have the weakest guard where the enemy is strongest.
Mel. Maskwell, you mean; pr'y thee why should you suspect him ?
Care. Faith, I cannot help it; you know I never liked him ; I am a little superstitious in physiognomy.
Mel. He has obligations of gratitude to hind him to me; his dependence upon my uncle is through my
Care. I am mistaken if there be not a familiarity between them you do not suspect, notwithstanding her passion for you.
Mel. Pooh, pooh, nothing in the world but his design to do me service, and he endeavours to be well in her esteem, that he may be able to effect it.
Care. Well, I shall be glad to be mistaken ; but your aunt's aversion in her revenge cannot be any way so effectually shewn, as in bringing forth a child to disinherit
you. She is handsome and cunning, and naturally wanton. Maskwell is fesh and blood at best, and opportunities between them are frequent. His affection to you, you have confessed, is grounded upon his interest, that you have transplanted; and, should it take root in my lady, I do not see what you can expect from the fruit.
Mel. I confess the consequence is visible, were your suspicions just.-But see, the company is broke up, let us meet them.
Enter Lord ToucHWOOD, Lord Froth, Sir PAUL
PLYANT, and BRISK. Ld. T. Out upon 't, nephew_leave your fatherin-law, and me, to maintain our ground against young people.
Mel. I beg your Lordship’s pardon--we were just returning.
Sir Paul. Were you, son ? Gadsbud, much better as it is.—Good, strange! I swear I 'm almost tipsy -t'other bottle would have been too powerful for
meas sure as can be it would.-We wanted your company but Mr. Brisk, where is he? I swear and vow he's a most facetious person and the best company.-And my Lord Froth--your Lordship is so merry a man, he, he, he !
Ld. F. O foy, Sir Paul, what do you mean? Merry! O, barbarous ! I'd as lieve you had called me fool.
Sir Paul. Nay, I protest and vow now 't is true; when Mr. Brisk jokes, your lordship's laugh does so become you, he, he, he!
Ld. F. Ridiculous!-Sir Paul, you 're strangely mistaken; I find champagne is powerful, I assure you, Sir Paul, I laugh at nobody's jest but my own, or a lady's, I assure you, Sir Paul.
Brisk. How! how, my lord! What, affront my wit! Let me perish, do I never say any thing worthy to be laughed at ?
Ld. F. O foy, do n’t misapprehend me; I don't say so, for I often smile at your conceptions. But there is nothing more unbecoming a man of quality, than to laugh ; 'tis such a vulgar expression of the passion! every body can laugh. Then, especially to laugh at the jest of an inferior person, or when any body else of the same quality does not laugh with one. Ridi. culous! to be pleased with what pleases the croud ! Now, when I laugh, I always laugh alone!
Brisk. I suppose that's because you laugh at your own jests, ’egad, ha, ha, ha!
Ld. F. He, he! I swear though, your raillery provokes me to a smile.