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Lady Flut. Oh, dear ma'am! I know there are some tame wives in the world, who can submit in silence to any usage; but I am not one of those, I assure you. I have not been used to control, nor I won't be controlled, that's more.
Lady M. Softly, dear Lady Flutter, I don't mean to offend you; I would argu« with you as a friend. Pray speak lower; I would not have any of our servants hear on what subject we are discoursing.
Lady Flut. Gracious! why, every servant in the house knows how we live.
LadyM. But, madam, don't you think your unguarded complaints'without doors, and perhaps your unadvised choice of confidants within, may lead you into some inconvenience?
Lady Flut. I don't well understand your question, Lady Medway; my choice of confidants within
Lady M. Yes—male ones, I mean; for example, now, if a young married lady should make choice of a gentleman, to whom she should open her heart, and let him so far into her confidence as to tell him she despises her husband, what do you think must be the consequence?
Lady Flut. What! why, I suppose he'd think—he'd imagine—I don't know what he'd think
LadyM. I'll tell you: he'd think, perhaps, that a liking to him had as great a share in the lady's contempt for her husband, as any real fault of the husband's.
Lady Flut. If he thought so, I could not help it; but I am sure there is no one to whom I complain will draw any such inference.
Lady M. There is nothing but what is very natural in all this, Lady Flutter; and the gentleman, on this supposition, will think himself bound to make an offer of his love to the lady; she, perhaps, receives it
Vol. iv. v
Lady Flut. Lord, ma'am! these are strange conclusions What can she mean?
Lady M. If this should be the case, what must ensue? Oh, Lady Flutter, an innocent young creature, like you, should start at the thought.
Lady Flut. Upon my word, Lady Medway, I don't understand such insinuations. If Sir Harry insults me, I am not obliged to bear it from every one.
Lady M. I am sorry, madam, that you construe a friendly caution into an insult. I am your friend, perhaps the only one who has the power of saving you from destruction.
Lady Flut. Destruction! Madam, I could not have expected this from you, in your own house. I believe my lord would not thank you for treating me thus— but if you are tired of me, madain
Lady M. Oh, my dear madam! you are in a very great error, my lord is the greatest enemy you have in the world.
Lady Flut. You may happen to be mistaken in that,
Lady Medway, as well as in other things. Poor
woman, she little knows' [Aside.
Lady M. Come, not to play at cross-purposes with you any longer, I must tell you that I am no stranger to my lord's designs on you
Lady Flut. His designs on me!
Lady M. Yes, madam, his cruel, his (I grieve to say) Infamous designs on you. Oh, Lady Flutter, you stand on a dreadful precipice! do not reject the kind hand that would snatch you from certain ruin.
Lady Flut. This- is such extraordinary language, Lady Medway, that really I don't know what to say to it—I little imagined I should have created any jealousy when I Came into your family.
Lady M. Indeed, my dear, you entirely mistake my motive. I own there was a time when I might have been influenced by jealousy; but I have outlived it, am not now actuated by so selfish a passion. Pity to your inexperienced youth, friendship to your worthy parents, regard to the honour of your husband, joined to the tenderness and duty I owe my lord, are the sole motives which urge me to save you all, if possible, from ruin. I know my lord makes love to you; and that you have, unwarily, been drawn in to make an assignation with him.
Lady Flut. If he has been so treacherous as to tell this
Lady M. He has not, I assure you; yet I am certain of the fact; I know too well the nature of his connections with Lady Lovegrove.—And now, my dear, if you would escape the snare which is laid for your undoing, be advised by me, who am your true friend.
Lady Flut. I don't think J have a friend in the world.
Lady M. Yeu are mistaken; I am sincerely so. My lord is a man of pleasure, and is perhaps less scrupulous in affairs of gallantry, than in any other vice. Your youth and agreeable person were alone sufficient to attract him; but when, superadded to this, he found you despised your husband, and made no difficulty of owning it to him, it almost amounted to an invitation.
Lady Flut. An invitation, Lady Medway! you use me very ill.
Lady M. To a man of his cast, madam, it certainly does. Your unacquaintedness with men of intrigue, makes you blind to your own danger; but indeed, Lady Flutter, there is but one step between you and inevitable shame and misery. What do you think must be the consequence, if Sir Harry should discover that you have appointed a private place of meeting with my lord? What must he think of the nature of a correspondence thus meanly carried on by stealth? Ask your own heart, if you can justify this to your husband and to your friends>
Lady Flut. Lord bless me, Lady Medway !—you ter rify me—I am amazed how you came to the knowledge of this.
Lady M. 'Tis a happiness to you, madam, that I have, if by it I can be the means of saving you.
Lady Flut. I own I was a fool for consenting; but sure, madam, you won't be so barbarous as to tell Sir Harry; it would give him such an advantage over me, I cannot bear the thoughts of it.
Lady M. Why really, my dear, I should be sorry to be under the necessity of taking so disagreeable a step; and if I thought I could rely on your honour and discretion in your future conduct, I certainly should keep your secret.
Lady Flut. Madam, I'll quit your house directly, if that will satisfy you.
Lady M. By no means, madam; how would you answer that to your friends, if they should inquire the reason? Here you came to town to stay the winter with me, and before a month's elapsed you quit my house!
Lady Flut. Why I can tell them that Sir Harry is so insufferable, I cannot live with him.
Lady M. If you will be ruled by me, Lady Flutter, for one week, nay but for three days, I'll engage that Sir Harry and you shall be as happy a couple as any in England.
Lady Flut. Oh, gracious! you could as soon convert us into angels.
Lady M. But will you promise to be guided by me, but for a little while?
Lady Flut. Oh, dear Lady Medway, I know you would recommend patience and submission, and all that; but I never can, nor never will, submit to his humour.
Lady M. Why then, madam, I shall think it my duty to write to your father immediately, and let him know the danger of your situation.
Lady Flut. What is it you would have me do, madam?
Lady M. Your task is not hard, if you are disposed to set about it. You are married to a very young man, Lady FJutter; who, though he is warm and volatile, does not want sense, and am sure is good-natured in the main.
Lady Flut. Dear Lady Medway—you are enough to turn one's brain.
Lady M. Hear me out, madam. You, on the other hand, who have as much sense, and as much goodnature as he, are at the same time a little too quick and impatient of contradiction. He, I will allow, is too ready to give offence: but you in your turn must grant, that you are as sudden in taking it. Now, my dear, 'tis in your power, and give me leave to tell you, 'tis your duty also, to correct yours. And I'll answer for it that Sir Harry will follow your lead; for I am sure that he loves you a great deal better than my lord does. Jet him tell you what he pleases.
Lady Flut. I wish I could see any proofs of it.
Lady M. Will you make the experiment?
Lady Flut. What, and give up to him?
Lady M. Only for once, just for a trial: if he does not receive it as he ought, I will never desire you to repeat it I think I hear his rap at the door.
Lady Flut. Well, madam, to show you that it is not my fault that we live so uneasily, I will do as you would have me; you yourself shall be the judge; but then remember you are not to write to my papa.
Lady M. I will not, and remember you are not to have any private conferences with my lord.
Lady Flut. Agreed.
Enter Sir Harry Flutter. Sir H. Flut. How does your ladyship do this morning? [To Lady Medway.] I am tired to death; I have