ACT III
Scene XIII.
 

[To them] PETULANT, WITWOUD.

MILLAMANT
Is your animosity composed, gentlemen?

WITWOUD
Raillery, raillery, madam; we have no animosity. We hit off a little wit now and then, but no animosity. The falling out of wits is like the falling out of lovers:- we agree in the main, like treble and bass. Ha, Petulant?

PETULANT
Ay, in the main. But when I have a humour to contradict -

WITWOUD
Ay, when he has a humour to contradict, then I contradict too. What, I know my cue. Then we contradict one another like two battledores; for contradictions beget one another like Jews.

PETULANT
If he says black's black--if I have a humour to say 'tis blue- -let that pass--all's one for that. If I have a humour to prove it, it must be granted.

WITWOUD
Not positively must. But it may; it may.

PETULANT
Yes, it positively must, upon proof positive.

WITWOUD
Ay, upon proof positive it must; but upon proof presumptive it only may. That's a logical distinction now, madam.

MRS. MARWOOD
I perceive your debates are of importance, and very learnedly handled.

PETULANT
Importance is one thing and learning's another; but a debate's a debate, that I assert.

WITWOUD
Petulant's an enemy to learning; he relies altogether on his parts.

PETULANT
No, I'm no enemy to learning; it hurts not me.

MRS. MARWOOD
That's a sign, indeed, it's no enemy to you.

PETULANT
No, no, it's no enemy to anybody but them that have it.

MILLAMANT
Well, an illiterate man's my aversion; I wonder at the impudence of any illiterate man to offer to make love.

WITWOUD
That I confess I wonder at, too.

MILLAMANT
Ah, to marry an ignorant that can hardly read or write!

PETULANT
Why should a man be any further from being married, though he can't read, than he is from being hanged? The ordinary's paid for setting the psalm, and the parish priest for reading the ceremony. And for the rest which is to follow in both cases, a man may do it without book. So all's one for that.

MILLAMANT
D'ye hear the creature? Lord, here's company; I'll begone.