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Lord M. Sir, I don't mean to provoke your wrath.
Sir A. Bran. You are the father of my mistress, my lord—that thought restrains m)' fury—But this woman (Mrs. Knightly I mean, for a woman I find she is, though I once thought her an angel;) she, I say, has not yet dismissed me in form; and till that is done, I think myself bound in honour, not to make a tender of my heart or hand to any lady whatsoever.
Lord M. Oh, Sir Anthony, I find you have still a hankering after the widow, and only want an opportunity to endeavour at getting into her good graces again—You would fain see her.
Sir A. Bran. By no means, my lord; not for the world !—for, as I told your lordship, I would not trust my heart with such an interview.—No, no, I know the witchcraft of her beauty too well.
Lord M. How do you mean to disengage yourself then?
Sir A. Bran. My design is to indite an epistle to her, and to request that she will, under her hand, in full and explicit terms, give me an absolute and final release from all the vows I have made her.
Lord M. I think you are perfectly right, Sir Anthony, and act agreeably to the dictates of true honour. —I wont lose the fool if I can help it. [Aside.
Sir A. Bran. I would fain do so, my lord.
Lord M. I dare say you will get a full and free discharge from your sovereign lady and mistress.
&'r A. Bran. 'Tis to be so presum-erf, my lord—but as for seeing her, 'twere safer, my lord, to encounter a basilisk, I assure you.
Mrs. Knightly rushes in, a Servant attending her to the door. Sir Anthony starts and draws back.
Mrs. Knight. My lord, I beg your pardon; your servant told me Lady Flutter was here.
Lord M. I am glad he made the mistake, madam, as it has given me the honour of seeing you. Go tell
your lady—She was here but this minute This ii
Mrs. Knight. I am quite ashamed of this, my lord; I just came to prattle half an hour with Lady Flutter, and to try if I could tempt her to the opera, and here
I have broke in upon you so unawares Bless me, Sir
Anthony! is it you? I declare I did not see you. Why, you barbarian, where have you been for this month past? My lord, do you know that Sir Anthony is a lover of mine? [sir Anthony advances, bowing gravely.
Sir A. Bran. That Sir Anthony was a lover of yours, madam, he has but too fatally experienced.
Mrs. Knight. And a'n't you so still, you inconstant toad?
Lord M. Take my advice—and make your retreat as fast as you can. [Aside to Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Lran. Impossible, my lord; the magic of her eyes renders me immoveable—but I'll try.
[Aside to Lord Medway.
Mrs. Knight. What, I suppose my lord is your confidant; you see I have made him mine too.
Enter a Servant.
Serv. The ladies are all gone out together, my lord. Lord M. Did your lady leave word what time she would be at home? Serv. No, my lord.
Lord M. Oh, once they are on the wing, there is no knowing when they will return—I wish she would go. [Aside.'] Will you allow me the honour of gallanting you to the opera, ma'am? I dare say Sir Anthony, on such an occasion, will excuse my leaving him—Tis almost the time, I believe.
Mrs. Knight. Oh dear, my lord! too soon by an age.
[Looking at her watch.] I am such an impatient
creature, I cannot endure to wait a minute for any
thing, and therefore never go to any public entertainment till after it begins. Is not that the right way, Sir Anthony? but I should not ask you, who are so phlegmatic, you could wait till doomsday for any thing.
Lord M. Come, ma'am, you are too severe on my friend Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. My lord, this is but an inconsiderable specimen, a trifle, to what I could produce, of the severity I have received from this ungrateful fair one.
Enter a Servant.
Serv. There is a gentleman below desires to speak with your lordship on business.
Lord M. I'll come to him. For heaven's sake,
ma'am, don't keep this poor lover any longer in expectation, but dismiss him fairly at once, for your own honour as well as in pity to him. [Aside to Mrs. Knightly ] Sir Anthony, you'll excuse me for a few minutes. ]_rxit.
Sir A. Bran. My lord, I shall beg leave to wish
your lordship a good evening 1 was just going
Mrs. Knight. Why, sure you would not be such a
clown as to leave me by myself, Sir Anthony! I
cannot go: for thinking that Lady Flutter was at home,
I sent my chair to pay two or three visits. Now,
pr'ythee sit down, and say some sprightly thing to me.
Sir A- Bran. Ah, madam, my sprightly sallies were for happier days
When Flavia listen'd to my sighs,
And fann'd the amorous blaze,
Grew wanton in her praise
Mrs. Knight. I protest I did not know you were so good a poet.
Sir A. Bran. The Muses, madam, are not such nig.
gards of their favours. I have been indulged with some rapturous intercourses with those ladies, I can assure you.
Mrs. Knight. Oh fie, Sir Anthony. What tell
Sir A. Bran. No aspersions, madam—'tis very well Jtnown they are all virgins.
Mrs. Knight. Well, but now let's hear what you can say to ine in prose.
Sir A. Bran. Truly, madam, this unexpected (I may say unhoped for) encounter, has so disconcerted me, that though I have much to say, I am utterly at a loss where to begin.
Mrs. Knight. Why then don't begin at all, Sir Anthony; for I think you are generally more at a loss how to make an end.
Sir A. Bran. If you won't hear me, madam
Mrs. Knight. Well, well, I will hear you; but squeeze what you have to say into as small a compass as you can, my dear Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. The occasion, madam, of my giving you this trouble (if as such you'are pleased to consider it) is as follows. I have courted you, madam, that is, made honourable addresses to you, for the space of sis months, during which time you gave me all the encouragement—
Mrs. Knight. Encouragement! [Screams.'] Oh, all you powers of chastity defend me!—Encouragement, Sir Anthony! Of what nature, pray?
Sir A. Bran. Your pardon, madam—Consistently with modesty I mean; or such as became a virtuous lady to bestow on a passionate admirer; for such I pronounce myself to have been.
Mrs. Knight. Oh, I understand you now—Well, sir?
Sir A. Bran. For a time I was favoured with your smiles, and had reason to believe that my faithful passion would have been crowned with success. When all of a sudden, to my unutterable astonishment, the sunshine of my hopes vanished.
. Mrs. Kniglu. I only stepp'd behind a cloud, Sir Anthony, to play at bo-peep with you.
Sir A. Bran. Oh, madam, a total eclipse, I do assure you.—My visits were repulsed, my letters unanswered, and finally your doors shut against me.
Mrs. Knight. Did I do all this to poor Sir Anthony?
Sir A. Bran. You did, madam—Tyrant, you know you did. And now, madam, I would fain learn your reasons for such usage.
Mrs. Knight. Reasons—I never gave a reason for any thing I did since I was born.
Sir A. Bran. That is rather extraordinary, madam; but if you will not condescend to give me any reasons for your cruelty, all I have left to desire, or rather to demand, (pardon me the expression, madam) is now, from your own lips, to receive my final doom.
Mrs. Knight. Why, I shan't marry these ten years, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. That, madam, is an indeterminate answer. I humbly request the favour of a final one.
Mrs. Knight. Why, what are you in such a hurry for? I protest, Sir Anthony, I begin to grow jeaious.
Sir A. Bran. A final answer, madam.
Mrs. Knight. I'll be hanged if I have not got a rival! Oh, faithless man! that have sworn I don't know how many times over, to be true to me till death—and I, like the rest of my easy sex, to believe you!
Sir A. Bran. Madam, let me most humbly beseech you ■
Mrs. Knight. Begone, dissembler—but what could I expect from such levity as yours
Sir A. Bran. Levity, madam! levity! I absolutely disavow the charge—pray, madam—let me implore you,