ACT I
Scene V.
 

MIRABELL, FAINALL, BETTY.

MIRABELL
What, is the chief of that noble family in town, Sir Wilfull Witwoud?

FAINALL
He is expected to-day. Do you know him?

MIRABELL
I have seen him; he promises to be an extraordinary person. I think you have the honour to be related to him.

FAINALL
Yes; he is half-brother to this Witwoud by a former wife, who was sister to my Lady Wishfort, my wife's mother. If you marry Millamant, you must call cousins too.

MIRABELL
I had rather be his relation than his acquaintance.

FAINALL
He comes to town in order to equip himself for travel.

MIRABELL
For travel! Why the man that I mean is above forty.

FAINALL
No matter for that; 'tis for the honour of England that all Europe should know we have blockheads of all ages.

MIRABELL
I wonder there is not an act of parliament to save the credit of the nation and prohibit the exportation of fools.

FAINALL
By no means, 'tis better as 'tis; 'tis better to trade with a little loss, than to be quite eaten up with being overstocked.

MIRABELL
Pray, are the follies of this knight-errant and those of the squire, his brother, anything related?

FAINALL
Not at all: Witwoud grows by the knight like a medlar grafted on a crab. One will melt in your mouth and t'other set your teeth on edge; one is all pulp and the other all core.

MIRABELL
So one will be rotten before he be ripe, and the other will be rotten without ever being ripe at all.

FAINALL
Sir Wilfull is an odd mixture of bashfulness and obstinacy. But when he's drunk, he's as loving as the monster in The Tempest, and much after the same manner. To give bother his due, he has something of good-nature, and does not always want wit.

MIRABELL
Not always: but as often as his memory fails him and his commonplace of comparisons. He is a fool with a good memory and some few scraps of other folks' wit. He is one whose conversation can never be approved, yet it is now and then to be endured. He has indeed one good quality: he is not exceptious, for he so passionately affects the reputation of understanding raillery that he will construe an affront into a jest, and call downright rudeness and ill language satire and fire.

FAINALL
If you have a mind to finish his picture, you have an opportunity to do it at full length. Behold the original.