Is it not a good hour for pleasure too, uncle? Pray lend me
your coach; mine's out of order.
What, would you be gadding too? Sure, all females are mad
to-day. It is of evil portent, and bodes mischief to the master of
a family. I remember an old prophecy written by Messahalah the
Arabian, and thus translated by a reverend Buckinghamshire bard:-
'When housewives all the house forsake,
And leave goodman to brew and bake,
Withouten guile, then be it said,
That house doth stand upon its head;
And when the head is set in grond,
Ne marl, if it be fruitful fond.'
Fruitful, the head fruitful, that bodes horns; the fruit of the head
is horns. Dear niece, stay at home--for by the head of the house is
meant the husband; the prophecy needs no explanation.
Well, but I can neither make you a cuckold, uncle, by going
abroad, nor secure you from being one by staying at home.
Yes, yes; while there's one woman left, the prophecy is not
in full force.
But my inclinations are in force; I have a mind to go abroad,
and if you won't lend me your coach, I'll take a hackney or a chair,
and leave you to erect a scheme, and find who's in conjunction with
your wife. Why don't you keep her at home, if you're jealous of her
when she's abroad? You know my aunt is a little retrograde (as you
call it) in her nature. Uncle, I'm afraid you are not lord of the
ascendant, ha, ha, ha!
Well, Jill-flirt, you are very pert, and always ridiculing
that celestial science.
Nay, uncle, don't be angry--if you are, I'll reap up all your
false prophecies, ridiculous dreams, and idle divinations. I'll
swear you are a nuisance to the neighbourhood. What a bustle did
you keep against the last invisible eclipse, laying in provision as
'twere for a siege. What a world of fire and candle, matches and
tinder-boxes did you purchase! One would have thought we were ever
after to live under ground, or at least making a voyage to
Greenland, to inhabit there all the dark season.
Will you lend me your coach, or I'll go on--nay, I'll declare
how you prophesied popery was coming only because the butler had
mislaid some of the apostle spoons, and thought they were lost.
Away went religion and spoon-meat together. Indeed, uncle, I'll
indite you for a wizard.
How, hussy! Was there ever such a provoking minx?
Yes, I can make oath of your unlawful midnight practices, you
and the old nurse there -
Marry, heaven defend! I at midnight practices? O Lord,
what's here to do? I in unlawful doings with my master's worship--
why, did you ever hear the like now? Sir, did ever I do anything of
your midnight concerns but warm your bed, and tuck you up, and set
the candle and your tobacco-box and your urinal by you, and now and
then rub the soles of your feet? O Lord, I!
Yes, I saw you together through the key-hole of the closet one
night, like Saul and the witch of Endor, turning the sieve and
shears, and pricking your thumbs, to write poor innocent servants'
names in blood, about a little nutmeg grater which she had forgot in
the caudle-cup. Nay, I know something worse, if I would speak of
I defy you, hussy; but I'll remember this, I'll be revenged
on you, cockatrice. I'll hamper you. You have your fortune in your
own hands, but I'll find a way to make your lover, your prodigal
spendthrift gallant, Valentine, pay for all, I will.
Will you? I care not, but all shall out then. Look to it,
nurse: I can bring witness that you have a great unnatural teat
under your left arm, and he another; and that you suckle a young
devil in the shape of a tabby-cat, by turns, I can.
A teat, a teat--I an unnatural teat! Oh, the false,
slanderous thing; feel, feel here, if I have anything but like
another Christian. [Crying.]
I will have patience, since it is the will of the stars I
should be thus tormented. This is the effect of the malicious
conjunctions and oppositions in the third house of my nativity;
there the curse of kindred was foretold. But I will have my doors
locked up;--I'll punish you: not a man shall enter my house.
Do, uncle, lock 'em up quickly before my aunt come home.
You'll have a letter for alimony to-morrow morning. But let me be
gone first, and then let no mankind come near the house, but
converse with spirits and the celestial signs, the bull and the ram
and the goat. Bless me! There are a great many horned beasts among
the twelve signs, uncle. But cuckolds go to heaven.
But there's but one virgin among the twelve signs, spitfire,
but one virgin.
Nor there had not been that one, if she had had to do with
anything but astrologers, uncle. That makes my aunt go abroad.
How, how? Is that the reason? Come, you know something;
tell me and I'll forgive you. Do, good niece. Come, you shall have
my coach and horses--faith and troth you shall. Does my wife
complain? Come, I know women tell one another. She is young and
sanguine, has a wanton hazel eye, and was born under Gemini, which
may incline her to society. She has a mole upon her lip, with a
moist palm, and an open liberality on the mount of Venus.