Page images

self obliged to him. But if he repeated that demand till he came to my twentieth shilling, I should ask him, "Where is the remainder? Where is my pound now? Why, my friend, that is no joke at all." Upon the whole, sir, I see no salvation for the country but in the conclusion of a peace and the removal of the present ministers.


From The Rivals.'

Re-enter LUCY in a hurry.

Lucy. O, ma'am, here is Sir Anthony Absolute just come home with your aunt.

Lydia. They'll not come here.-Lucy, do you watch. (Exit LUCY.)

Julia. Yet I must go. Sir Anthony does not know I am here, and if we meet, he'll detain me, to show me the town. I'll take another opportunity of paying my respects to Mrs. Malaprop, when she shall treat me, as long as she chooses, with her select words so ingeniously misapplied, without being mispronounced.

Re-enter LUCY,

Lucy. O Lud! ma'am, they are both coming upstairs. Lydia. Well, I'll not detain you, coz.-Adieu, my dear Julia, I'm sure you are in haste to send to Faulkland.There-through my room you'll find another staircase. Julia. Adieu! (Embraces LYDIA, and exit.) Lydia. Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books. Quick, quick.-Fling 'Peregrine Pickle' under the toilet-throw 'Roderick Random' into the closet-put The Innocent Adultery' into 'The Whole Duty of Man'-thrust Lord Aimworth' under the sofa-cram Ovid' behind the bolster-there-put 'The Man of Feeling' into your pocket -so, so-now lay Mrs. Chapone' in sight, and leave 'Fordyce's Sermons' open on the table.

[ocr errors]

Lucy. O burn it, ma'am! the hair-dresser has torn away as far as Proper Pride.'

Lydia. Never mind-open at 'Sobriety.'-Fling me 'Lord Chesterfield's Letters.'-Now for 'em.

(Exit LUCY.)


Mrs. Malaprop. There, Sir Anthony, there sits the deliberate simpleton who wants to disgrace her family, and lavish herself on a fellow not worth a shilling.

Lydia. Madam, I thought you once

Mrs. Malaprop. You thought, miss! I don't know any business you have to think at all-thought does not become a young woman. But the point we would request of you is, that you will promise to forget this fellow-to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.

Lydia. Ah, madam! our memories are independent of our wills. It is not so easy to forget.

Mrs. Malaprop. But I say it is, miss; there is nothing on earth so easy as to forget, if a person chooses to set about it. I'm sure I have as much forgot your poor dear uncle as if he had never existed-and I thought it my duty so to do; and let me tell you, Lydia, these violent memories don't become a young woman.

Sir Anthony. Why, sure she won't pretend to remember what she's ordered not!-ay, this comes of her reading!

Lydia. What crime, madam, have I committed, to be treated thus?

Mrs. Malaprop. Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the matter; you know I have proof controvertible of it.—But tell me, will you promise to do as you're bid? Will you take a husband of your friends' choosing?

Lydia. Madam, I must tell you plainly, that had I no preference for any one else, the choice you have made would be my aversion.

Mrs. Malaprop. What business have you, miss, with preference and aversion? They don't become a young woman; and you ought to know, that as both always wear off, 't is safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion. I am sure I hated your poor dear uncle before marriage as if he'd been a blackamoor—and yet, miss, you are sensible what a wife I made!-and when it pleased Heaven to release me from him, 't is unknown what tears I shed!

-But suppose we were going to give you another choice, will you promise us to give up this Beverley?

Lydia. Could I belie my thoughts so far as to give that promise, my actions would certainly as far belie my words.

Mrs. Malaprop. Take yourself to your room. You are fit company for nothing but your own ill-humors. Lydia. Willingly, ma'am-I cannot change for the (Exit.)


Mrs. Malaprop. There's a little intricate hussy for you!

Sir Anthony. It is not to be wondered at, ma'am,-all this is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read. Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet!

Mrs. Malaprop. Nay, nay, Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy.

Sir Anthony. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I observed your niece's maid coming forth from a circulating library! She had a book in each hand-they were halfbound volumes with marble covers!-From that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see her mistress! Mrs. Malaprop. Those are vile places, indeed!

Sir Anthony. Madam, a circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year!-And depend on it, Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves, will long for the fruit at last.

Mrs. Malaprop. Fy, fy, Sir Anthony! you surely speak laconically.

Sir Anthony. Why, Mrs. Malaprop, in moderation now, what would you have a woman know?

Mrs. Malaprop. Observe me, Sir Anthony. I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning; I don't think so much learning becomes a young woman; for instance, I would never let her meddle with Greek, or Hebrew, or algebra, or simony, or fluxions, or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of learningneither would it be necessary for her to handle any of your mathematical, astronomical, diabolical instruments.But, Sir Anthony, I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding-school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and

artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts;-and as she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries;-but above all, Sir Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not misspell and mispronounce words so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know; and I don't think there is a superstitious article in it.

Sir Anthony. Well, well, Mrs. Malaprop, I will dispute the point no further with you; though I must confess that you are a truly moderate and polite arguer, for almost every third word you say is on my side of the question. But, Mrs. Malaprop, to the more important point in debate you say you have no objection to my proposal?

Mrs. Malaprop. None, I assure you. I am under no positive engagement with Mr. Acres, and as Lydia is so obstinate against him, perhaps your son may have better


Sir Anthony. Well, madam, I will write for the boy directly. He knows not a syllable of this yet, though I have for some time had the proposal in my head. He is at

present with his regiment.

Mrs. Malaprop. We have never seen your son, Sir Anthony; but I hope no objection on his side.

Sir Anthony. Objection!-let him object if he dare!No, no, Mrs. Malaprop, Jack knows that the least demur puts me in a frenzy directly. My process was always very simple-in their younger days, 't was "Jack, do this; if he demurred, I knocked him down-and if he grumbled at that, I always sent him out of the room.

Mrs. Malaprop. Ay, and the properest way, o' my conscience!-nothing is so conciliating to young people as severity. Well, Sir Anthony, I shall give Mr. Acres his discharge, and prepare Lydia to receive your son's invocations; and I hope you will represent her to the captain as an object not altogether illegible.

Sir Anthony. Madam, I will handle the subject prudently. Well, I must leave you; and let me beg you, Mrs. Malaprop, to enforce this matter roundly to the girl.Take my advice—keep a tight hand: if she rejects this pro

posal, clap her under lock and key; and if you were just to let the servants forget to bring her dinner for three or four days, you can't conceive how she'd come about.


Mrs. Malaprop. Well, at any rate I shall be glad to get her from under my intuition. She has somehow discovered my partiality for Sir Lucius O'Trigger-sure, Lucy can't have betrayed me!-No, the girl is such a simpleton, I should have made her confess it.-Lucy!-Lucy!(Calls.) Had she been one of your artificial ones, I should never have trusted her.


MRS. MALAPROP, with a letter in her hand, and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.

Mrs. Malaprop. Your being Sir Anthony's son, captain, would itself be a sufficient accommodation; but from the ingenuity of your appearance, I am convinced you deserve the character here given of you.

Absolute. Permit me to say, madam, that as I never yet have had the pleasure of seeing Miss Languish, my principal inducement in this affair at present is the honor of being allied to Mrs. Malaprop; of whose intellectual accomplishments, elegant manners, and unaffected learning, no tongue is silent.

Mrs. Malaprop. Sir, you do me infinite honor! I beg, captain, you'll be seated. (They sit.) Ah! few gentlemen, nowadays, know how to value the ineffectual qualities in a woman! few think how a little knowledge becomes a gentlewoman!-Men have no sense now but for the worthless flower of beauty.

Absolute. It is but too true, indeed, ma'am;-yet I fear our ladies should share the blame-they think our admiration of beauty so great, that knowledge in them would be superfluous. Thus, like garden-trees, they seldom show fruit, till time has robbed them of the more specious blossom.-Few, like Mrs. Malaprop and the orange-tree, are rich in both at once!

Mrs. Malaprop. Sir, you overpower me with good breeding. He is the very pine-apple of politeness!-You

« PreviousContinue »