ACT IV
Scene XII.
 

LADY WISHFORT, WAITWELL disguised as for SIR ROWLAND.

LADY WISHFORT
Dear Sir Rowland, I am confounded with confusion at the retrospection of my own rudeness,--I have more pardons to ask than the pope distributes in the year of jubilee. But I hope where there is likely to be so near an alliance, we may unbend the severity of decorum, and dispense with a little ceremony.

WAITWELL
My impatience, madam, is the effect of my transport; and till I have the possession of your adorable person, I am tantalised on the rack, and do but hang, madam, on the tenter of expectation.

LADY WISHFORT
You have excess of gallantry, Sir Rowland, and press things to a conclusion with a most prevailing vehemence. But a day or two for decency of marriage -

WAITWELL
For decency of funeral, madam! The delay will break my heart--or if that should fail, I shall be poisoned. My nephew will get an inkling of my designs and poison me--and I would willingly starve him before I die--I would gladly go out of the world with that satisfaction. That would be some comfort to me, if I could but live so long as to be revenged on that unnatural viper.

LADY WISHFORT
Is he so unnatural, say you? Truly I would contribute much both to the saving of your life and the accomplishment of your revenge. Not that I respect myself; though he has been a perfidious wretch to me.

WAITWELL
Perfidious to you?

LADY WISHFORT
O Sir Rowland, the hours that he has died away at my feet, the tears that he has shed, the oaths that he has sworn, the palpitations that he has felt, the trances and the tremblings, the ardours and the ecstasies, the kneelings and the risings, the heart- heavings and the hand-gripings, the pangs and the pathetic regards of his protesting eyes!--Oh, no memory can register.

WAITWELL
What, my rival? Is the rebel my rival? A dies.

LADY WISHFORT
No, don't kill him at once, Sir Rowland: starve him gradually, inch by inch.

WAITWELL
I'll do't. In three weeks he shall be barefoot; in a month out at knees with begging an alms; he shall starve upward and upward, 'till he has nothing living but his head, and then go out in a stink like a candle's end upon a save-all.

LADY WISHFORT
Well, Sir Rowland, you have the way,--you are no novice in the labyrinth of love,--you have the clue. But as I am a person, Sir Rowland, you must not attribute my yielding to any sinister appetite or indigestion of widowhood; nor impute my complacency to any lethargy of continence. I hope you do not think me prone to any iteration of nuptials?

WAITWELL
Far be it from me -

LADY WISHFORT
If you do, I protest I must recede, or think that I have made a prostitution of decorums, but in the vehemence of compassion, and to save the life of a person of so much importance -

WAITWELL
I esteem it so -

LADY WISHFORT
Or else you wrong my condescension -

WAITWELL
I do not, I do not -

LADY WISHFORT
Indeed you do.

WAITWELL
I do not, fair shrine of virtue.

LADY WISHFORT
If you think the least scruple of causality was an ingredient -

WAITWELL
Dear madam, no. You are all camphire and frankincense, all chastity and odour.

LADY WISHFORT
Or that -