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on me, here is the whole set! A character dead at every word, I suppose.
Mrs. Can. I am rejoiced you are come, Sir Peter. They have been so censorious-and Lady Teazle as bad as anyone. Sir Pet. That must be very distressing to you, indeed, Mrs. Candour.
Mrs. Can. Oh, they will allow good qualities to nobody; not even good-nature to our friend Mrs. Pursy.
Lady Teaz. What! the fat dowager who was at Mrs. Quadrille's last night?
Mrs. Can. Nay, her bulk is her misfortune; and when she takes so much pains to get rid of it, you ought not to reflect on her.
That's very true, indeed.
Lady Teaz. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and small whey; laces herself by pulleys; and often, in the hottest noon in summer, you may see her on a little squat pony, with her hair plaited up behind like a drummer's, and puffing round the Ring on a full trot.
Mrs. Can. I thank you, Lady Teazle, for defending her. Sir Pet. Yes, a good defence, truly.
Mrs. Can. Truly, Lady Teazle is as censorious as Miss Sallow.
Crab. Yes, and she is a curious being to pretend to be censorious-an awkward gawky, without any one good point under heaven.
Mrs. Can. Positively you shall not be so very severe. Miss Sallow is a near relation of mine by marriage, and as for her person, great allowance is to be made; for, let me tell you, a woman labours under many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl of six-and-thirty.
Lady Sneer. Though, surely, she is handsome still; and
for the weakness in her eyes, considering how much she reads by candlelight, it is not to be wondered at.
Mrs. Can. True; and then as to her manner-upon my word, I think it is particularly graceful, considering she never had the least education; for you know her mother was a Welsh milliner, and her father a sugar-baker at Bristol.
Sir Ben. Ah, you are both of you too good-natured! Sir Pet. (aside.) Yes, damned good-nature! This their own relation! Mercy on me!
Mrs. Can. For my part, I own I cannot bear to hear a friend ill spoken of.
Sir Pet. No, to be sure!
Sir Ben. Oh, you are of a moral turn. Mrs. Candour and I can sit for an hour and hear Lady Stucco talk sentiment.
Lady Teaz. Nay, I vow Lady Stucco is very well with the dessert after dinner; for she's just like the French fruit one cracks for mottoes-made up of paint and proverbs.
Mrs. Can. Well, I will never join in ridiculing a friend; and so I constantly tell my cousin Ogle, and you all know what pretensions she has to be critical on beauty.
Crab. Oh, to be sure! She has herself the oddest countenance that ever was seen; 'tis a collection of features from all the different countries of the globe.
Sir Ben. So she has, indeed: an Irish front
Crab. Caledonian locks
Sir Ben. Dutch nose
Crab. Austrian lips
Sir Ben. Complexion of a Spaniard
Crab. And teeth à la Chinoise
Sir Ben. In short, her face resembles a table d'hôte at Spa, where no two guests are of a nation
Crab. Or a congress at the close of a general war-wherein all the members, even to her eyes, appear to have a different interest, and her nose and chin are the only parties likely to join issue.
Sir Pet. (aside). Mercy on my life! A person they dine with twice a week!
Mrs. Can. Nay, but I vow you shall not carry the laugh off so; for give me leave to say that Mrs. Ogle
Sir Pet. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon-there's no stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, that the lady they are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope you'll not take her part.
Lady Sneer. Ha-ha-ha! Well said, Sir Peter! But you are a cruel creature-too phlegmatic yourself for a jest, and too peevish to allow wit in others.
Sir Pet. Ah, madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good-nature than your ladyship is aware of.
Lady Teaz. True, Sir Peter. I believe they are so near akin that they can never be united.
Sir Ben. Or rather, suppose them man and wife, because one seldom sees them together.
Lady Teaz. But Sir Peter is such an enemy to scandal, I believe he would have it put down by Parliament.
Sir Pet. 'Fore heaven, madam, if they were to consider the sporting with reputation of as much importance as poaching on manors, and pass an act for the preservation of fame, as well as game, I believe many would thank them for the bill.
Lady Sneer. O Lud! Sir Peter, would you deprive us of our privileges?
Sir Pet. Aye, madam; and then no person should be
permitted to kill characters and run down reputations but qualified old maids and disappointed widows.
Lady Sneer. Go, you monster!
Mrs. Can. But, surely, you would not be quite so severe on those who only report what they hear?
Sir Pet. Yes, madam, I would have law merchant for them, too; and in all cases of slander currency, whenever the drawer of the lie was not to be found, the injured parties should have a right to come on any of the indorsers.
Crab. Well, for my part, I believe there never was a scandalous tale without some foundation.
Lady Sneer. Come, ladies, shall we sit down to cards in the next room?
Enter SERVANT, who whispers to SIR PETER.
Sir Pet. I'll be with them directly. (Aside.) I'll get away unperceived.
Lady Sneer. Sir Peter, you are not going to leave us?
Sir Pet. Your ladyship must excuse me; I'm called away by particular business. But I leave my character behind me. -"The School for Scandal."
Calendar of the Months
The Art of Puffing
DANGLE, SNEER, and PUFF.
Dang. My dear Puff!
Puff. My dear Dangle, how is it with you?
Dang. Mr. Sneer, give me leave to introduce Mr. Puff to you.
Puff. Mr. Sneer, is this? Sir, he is a gentleman whom I have long panted for the honour of knowing—a gentleman whose critical talents and transcendent judgment
Sneer. Dear sir
Dang. Nay, don't be modest, Sneer; my friend Puff only talks to you in the style of his profession.
Sneer. His profession!
Puff. Yes, sir; I make no secret of the trade I follow. Among friends and brother authors, Dangle knows I love to be frank on the subject, and to advertise myself vivâ voce. I am, sir, a practitioner in panegyric, or, to speak more plainly, a professor of the art of puffing, at your service-or anybody else's.
Sneer. Sir, you are very obliging! I believe, Mr. Puff, I have often admired your talents in the daily prints.