What you please. I'll play on to entertain you.
No, I'll give you your revenge another time, when you are not
so indifferent; you are thinking of something else now, and play too
negligently: the coldness of a losing gamester lessens the pleasure
of the winner. I'd no more play with a man that slighted his ill
fortune than I'd make love to a woman who undervalued the loss of
You have a taste extremely delicate, and are for refining on
Prithee, why so reserved? Something has put you out of
Not at all: I happen to be grave to-day, and you are gay;
Confess, Millamant and you quarrelled last night, after I
left you; my fair cousin has some humours that would tempt the
patience of a Stoic. What, some coxcomb came in, and was well
received by her, while you were by?
Witwoud and Petulant, and what was worse, her aunt, your
wife's mother, my evil genius--or to sum up all in her own name, my
old Lady Wishfort came in.
Oh, there it is then: she has a lasting passion for you, and
with reason.--What, then my wife was there?
Yes, and Mrs. Marwood and three or four more, whom I never
saw before; seeing me, they all put on their grave faces, whispered
one another, then complained aloud of the vapours, and after fell
into a profound silence.
For which reason I resolved not to stir. At last the good
old lady broke through her painful taciturnity with an invective
against long visits. I would not have understood her, but Millamant
joining in the argument, I rose and with a constrained smile told
her, I thought nothing was so easy as to know when a visit began to
be troublesome; she reddened and I withdrew, without expecting her
You were to blame to resent what she spoke only in compliance
with her aunt.
She is more mistress of herself than to be under the
necessity of such a resignation.
What? though half her fortune depends upon her marrying with
my lady's approbation?
I was then in such a humour, that I should have been better
pleased if she had been less discreet.
Now I remember, I wonder not they were weary of you; last
night was one of their cabal-nights: they have 'em three times a
week and meet by turns at one another's apartments, where they come
together like the coroner's inquest, to sit upon the murdered
reputations of the week. You and I are excluded, and it was once
proposed that all the male sex should be excepted; but somebody
moved that to avoid scandal there might be one man of the community,
upon which motion Witwoud and Petulant were enrolled members.
And who may have been the foundress of this sect? My Lady
Wishfort, I warrant, who publishes her detestation of mankind, and
full of the vigour of fifty-five, declares for a friend and ratafia;
and let posterity shift for itself, she'll breed no more.
The discovery of your sham addresses to her, to conceal your
love to her niece, has provoked this separation. Had you dissembled
better, things might have continued in the state of nature.
I did as much as man could, with any reasonable conscience; I
proceeded to the very last act of flattery with her, and was guilty
of a song in her commendation. Nay, I got a friend to put her into
a lampoon, and compliment her with the imputation of an affair with
a young fellow, which I carried so far, that I told her the
malicious town took notice that she was grown fat of a sudden; and
when she lay in of a dropsy, persuaded her she was reported to be in
labour. The devil's in't, if an old woman is to be flattered
further, unless a man should endeavour downright personally to
debauch her: and that my virtue forbade me. But for the discovery
of this amour, I am indebted to your friend, or your wife's friend,
What should provoke her to be your enemy, unless she has made
you advances which you have slighted? Women do not easily forgive
omissions of that nature.
She was always civil to me, till of late. I confess I am not
one of those coxcombs who are apt to interpret a woman's good
manners to her prejudice, and think that she who does not refuse 'em
everything can refuse 'em nothing.
You are a gallant man, Mirabell; and though you may have
cruelty enough not to satisfy a lady's longing, you have too much
generosity not to be tender of her honour. Yet you speak with an
indifference which seems to be affected, and confesses you are
conscious of a negligence.
You pursue the argument with a distrust that seems to be
unaffected, and confesses you are conscious of a concern for which
the lady is more indebted to you than is your wife.
Fie, fie, friend, if you grow censorious I must leave you:-
I'll look upon the gamesters in the next room.