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I done for you? I have made you a woman of fashion, of fortune, of rank-in short, I have made you my wife.
Lady Teaz. Well, then, and there is but one thing more you can make me to add to the obligation; that is—
Sir Pet. My widow, I suppose?
Lady Teaz. H'm, h'm!!
Sir Pet. I thank you, madam-but don't flatter yourself; for, though your ill conduct may disturb my peace of mind, it shall never break my heart, I promise you. However, I am equally obliged to you for the hint.
Lady Teaz. Then why will you endeavour to make yourself so disagreeable to me, and thwart me in every little elegant expense?
Sir Pet. 'Slife, madam, I say, had you any of these little elegant expenses when you married me?
Lady Teaz. Lud, Sir Peter! would you have me be out of the fashion?
Sir Pet. The fashion, indeed! What had you to do with the fashion before you married me?
Lady Teaz. For my part, I should think you would like to have your wife thought a woman of taste.
Sir Pet. Aye-there again-taste! Zounds! madam, you had no taste when you married me!
Lady Teaz. That's very true, indeed, Sir Peter! And, after having married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I allow. But now, Sir Peter, since we have finished our daily jangle, I presume I may go to my engagement at Lady Sneerwell's.
Sir Pet. Aye, there's another precious circumstance. charming set of acquaintance you have made there!
Lady Teaz. Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of rank and fortune, and remarkably tenacious of reputation.
Sir Pet. Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputation with a vengeance; for they don't choose anybody should have a character but themselves! Such a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged tales, coiners of scandal, and clippers of reputation.
Lady Teaz. What! would you restrain the freedom of speech?
Sir Pet. Ah, they have made you just as bad as any one of the society.
Lady Teaz. Why, I believe I do bear a part with a tolerable grace.
Sir Pet. Grace, indeed.
Lady Teaz. But I vow I bear no malice against the people I abuse. When I say an ill-natured thing, 'tis out of pure good-humour; and I take it for granted they deal exactly in the same manner with me. But, Sir Peter, you know you promised to come to Lady Sneerwell's, too.
Sir Pet. Well, well, I'll call in, just to look after my own character.
Lady Teaz. Then, indeed, you must make haste after me, or you'll be too late. So, good-by to ye. (Exit.)
Sir Pet. So I have gained much by my intended expostulation! Yet with what a charming air she contradicts everything I say, and how pleasantly she shows her contempt for my authority! Well, though I can't make her love me, there is great satisfaction in quarrelling with her; and I think she never appears to such advantage as when she is doing everything in her power to plague me.
-"The School for Scandal."
Gossip at Lady Sneerwell's
LADY SNEERWELL, MRS. CANDOUR, CRABTREE, SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE and JOSEPH SURFACE.
Lady Sneer. Nay, positively, we will hear it.
Sir Ben. But, ladies, you should be acquainted with the circumstance. You must know that, one day last week, as Lady Betty Curricle was taking the dust in Hyde Park, in a sort of duodecimo phaeton, she desired me to write some verses on her ponies; upon which, I took out my pocketbook, and in one moment produced the following:
"Sure never were seen two such beautiful ponies;
Other horses are clowns, but these macaronies:
Crab. There, ladies, done in the smack of a whip, and on horseback, too.
Jos. Surf. A very Phoebus, mounted-indeed, Sir Benjamin!
Sir Ben. Oh, dear, sir, trifles-trifles!
Enter LADY TEAZLE and Maria.
Mrs. Can. I must have a copy.
Lady Sneer. Lady Teazle, I hope we shall see Sir Peter? Lady Teaz. I believe he'll wait on your ladyship presently.
Lady Sneer. Maria, my love, you look grave. Come, you shall sit down to piquet with Mr. Surface.
Mar. I take very little pleasure in cards; however, I'll do as your ladyship pleases.
Lady Teas. (aside). I am surprised Mr. Surface should sit down with her. I thought he would have embraced this opportunity of speaking to me before Sir Peter came.
Mrs. Can. Now, I'll die; but you are so scandalous, I'll forswear your society.
Lady Teas. What's the matter, Mrs. Candour?
Mrs. Can. They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermilion to be handsome.
Lady Sneer. Oh, surely she is a pretty woman.
Mrs. Can. She has a charming, fresh colour.
Mrs. Can. Oh, fie! I'll swear her colour is natural. I have seen it come and go!
Lady Teaz. I dare swear you have, ma'am. It goes off at night, and comes again in the morning.
Sir Ben. True, ma'am, it not only comes and goes; but, what's more, egad, her maid can fetch and carry it!
Mrs. Can. Ha-ha-ha! How I hate to hear you talk so! But surely, now, her sister is, or was, very handsome.
Crab. Who-Mrs. Evergreen? O Lord! she's six-andfifty, if she's an hour!
Mrs. Can. Now, positively, you wrong her; fifty-two or fifty-three is the utmost—and I don't think she looks more.
Sir Ben. Ah, there's no judging by her looks, unless one could see her face.
Lady Sneer. Well, well, if Mrs. Evergreen does take some pains to repair the ravages of time, you must allow she
effects it with great ingenuity; and surely that's better than the careless manner in which the widow Ochre caulks her wrinkles.
Sir Ben. Nay, now, Lady Sneerwell, you are severe upon the widow. Come, come, 'tis not that she paints so ill; but, when she has finished her face, she joins it on so badly to her neck, that she looks like a mended statue, in which the connoisseur may see at once that the head is modern, though the trunk's antique.
Crab. Ha-ha-ha! Well said, nephew!
Mrs. Can. Ha-ha-ha! Well, you make me laugh; but I vow I hate you for it. What do you think of Miss Simper? Sir Ben. Why, she has very pretty teeth.
Lady Teaz. Yes, and on that account, when she is neither speaking nor laughing-which very seldom happens-she never absolutely shuts her mouth, but leaves it always on ajar, as it were—thus. (Shows her teeth.)
Mrs. Can. How can you be so ill-natured? Lady Teaz. Nay, I allow even that's better than the pains Mrs. Prim takes to conceal her losses in front. She draws her mouth till it positively resembles the aperture of a poor'sbox, and all her words appear to slide out edgewise, as it were thus: How do you do, madam? Yes, madam.
Lady Sneer. Very well, Lady Teazle; I see you can be a little severe.
Lady Teaz. In defence of a friend, it is but justice. But here comes Sir Peter to spoil our pleasantry.
Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE.
Sir Pet. Ladies, your most obedient.