DIshonour'd, Ruin'd, Cuckol'd, and by my own Contrivance? I'll ne're out-live it —
I confess Clarinda, my proceeding does not look very generous, but if you consult your Heart, you'll find when Love has enter'd it, 'tis very little in the Power of Reason.
You need no more Apologies methinks, I shou'd ha' done so my self.
You fir'd me with commending him and Love's a catching Disease,
Well it has gone no farther than this Letter?
You are Jealous?
No I wou'd only find the Temper of the Man.
You need not fear it; there's but one way; Generosity will oblige a Man of Sense, and nothing move a Fool; besides Marriage is a double se∣curity, for it not only is apt to make a Man forget his Galantries abroad but renders him less acceptable there. — Few Women chuse a Married Man for a Gallant.
Why not, as well as the Men like a Married Woman?
The Cases are very different — for a designing Woman, tho' she has Affairs with twenty Men, desires to keep 'em all to her self but a Page 38 Man that knows ever so many Women does not care if he never see any of 'em again.
You talk madly; but from that it appears that the Men are the more reasonable, for if those Women had their Desires, in a little time three Parts of the Sex wou'd be forc'd to die Maids.
To prevent that Calamity Nature, you see, has made the Men very Fickle.
Madam, Sir Solomon is gone into the Garden Room, I saw him look behind the Tapestry, and believe he designs to fix himself there.
Go, watch when he's hid, and tell me.
Pray let me have my Lesson right — you say I must take this all upon my self.
But harkee! How shall I come off with Freeman? He'll make me stand to my Word?
You'll be pleas'd with that Force.
I must confess I'm very well inclin'd to him, but I wou'd not go so fast — well I have but one Scruple.
I'm affraid I shall be jealous.
I'll soon cure you, and if I get safe over this, will never make ano∣ther venture.
A very Pious Determination!
You laugh —
For no other reason but because it is my turn.
Not Clarinda that I would have you think that I am just now frighted into this resolution, or that I have taken it up on the suddain but from a long digested Thought of such a Life — for however pleasing it may ap∣pear there is something so Disturb'd, so Hazardous, so full of Fears and Disappointments; That the faint Pleasures that arise don't half atone for the Anxieties that attend 'em, so that from the sole Motive of good Sense —
We must be Sober — now let me indeed Embrace you: Ast∣rea, I am glad to find a Woman of Wit own it, that reason brings her to the Interests of Vertue.
Madam, the Gentleman is at the Garden-door.
Bid him stay, till he has notice to come in —
Thus far 'tis well — No Body has seen me come in, and here let me Page 39 fix my self —
I'll watch every Motion —
Are you sure you left the Letter?
Very well, this is plain — S'death I've a Mind to go just now and cut her Throat —
But 'tis hardly six a Clock.
you're very punctual you Whore —
I'm upon Thorns to see her, for I long to know how far this Business is gone.
Ha! What Business? Well I shall find out the whole knot —
You say he was with her here, last Night?
Yes Madam, and seem'd mighty loving.
I don't know what to make of this — but I must have Patience —
I am extreamly concern'd at her doing so, for it might ha' drawn a reflection upon me — what wou'd Sir Solomon ha' thought of my conduct if he had found a Man in the House?
O Madam, she knew Sir Solomon was too well acquainted with your strict Vertue and unblemisht Life, to believe any thing to the Prejudice of your Honour.
Indeed I am pretty well assur'd of my Husband's Love, and 'tis my care next Heaven to deserve it; but the World Fidelia is so full of strange Hypocrisies that such an Accident as this might make him very uneasie.
I'm in Heaven: My Wife's Honest and I am no Monster, — there must be some mistake in this Letter —
If my Cousen takes these Libertys I must desire her to forbear her visits; for it shou'd be very modest Woman's care to preserve the reputation as well as the Conscience of Innocence, and I wou'd not for all the World have my Fidelity to my Dear Sir Solomon brought in Question.
Poor Fool: If she had heard of my unmerciful resolution to kill my self, twou'd ha' broke her heart.
I am ready to sink with Apprehensions of it —
Dear Madam, don't afflict your self so much, you lay it so near your Heart, 'twill kill you —
Hold me —
What shall I do? But I must not stir yet —
Oh: My good Lady take Comfort — smell to this Bottle — Oh, Unfortunate Accident, Bear forward dear Madam, — How unhappy Page 40 wou'd it be now if the most Vertuous Lady in the World, The Glory of all good Women, And Pattern of Chastity, shou'd dye here between my Arms: Evil befall Madam, Clarenda for this — to disturb my Lady that is so tender of her Fame and so averse to all such Wicked Practices —
Ay: So my Dearee is —
Oh, Look up Madam: — Will your Ladiship give me leave to Pinch your Nose to bring you to Life?
Now cou'd I kick that civil Jade, she can't bring her to Life without asking her leave.
Be Comforted good Madam.
What cou'd we say if Sir Solomon shou'd hear of it? What Excuse cou'd we make?
I can't imagin Madam, for as for my self I cou'd not tell a Lie; No not in very jest.
And as for me Fidelia, I cou'd not forge or report an Untruth, tho' my Life lay on it, and if we can't tell how to hide it, we had better tell him the naked Truth than be catch'd in a Story.
Poor Fool! —
Be satisfy'd Madam, Sir Solomon may never know it, or if he shou'd, Heaven I hope will favour the Innocent and direct his Heart to suspect them only that are Guilty.
That may be pray'd for, but not hop'd, for Sir Solomon is a Man of that nice Discerning and pierces presently into the most difficult Matters, and what interpretation can he make from this; a Man in the House and at so unseasonable a time? It distracts me.
O dear Madam; this is the Gentleman.
Have I surpriz'd you before the time, my Life! My Heaven!
Villain! Dog! Oh that I durst now run him through the Back —
Speak him fair Madam, for we are but weak Women and and don't know what he may do to us — he looks like a Cut-throat.
An Age has slipt between me and your Lips.
Ay, Rogue — but how will it end? —
I am ready to die —
How cou'd you be so surpriz'd my Dear, when you were to expect me at this hour?
Pray Sir keep off, my Lady never saw you or heard of you in her Life.
Good Mrs. Abigail don't you be so quick, your Lady won't tell me so.
Good Sir, go out of my house, you are mistaken and I don't know you, hoe! —
How not know me Madam, when I was here with you but last Night?
Ha! 〈…〉Page 41 done very ill, yet I shall own my self obliged to you, if you pursue your Mistake no farther and leave us.
Nay then I must. —
O good Madam take care of your self, he's going to pull out a Pistol—
Ay Lord, what shall I do? I stand just against him.
Yes, yes, Mrs. Airsmock, I'le spare your Lives — but not your Shame, Madam — there's my Invitation, farewel Jilt —
What's this I see, my Note to my Cousen? how, Fidelia, have you betray'd me?
I know nothing of it, indeed Madam; I left it at her House, as I hope to be Married.
Ay, Mrs. Matchiavel, is this your Contrivance? but thus I'le reward you for it.
O! Sir Solomon, don't kill her, let us first know the bottom —but how came you here?
I saw something towards, and step'd behind the Hangings, and now Astrea I am satisfi'd of your Honour, and nothing shall make me question it — but this Quean I'll have hang'd; corrupt the Wife of my Bosom, and make her false to my Bed!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, What's the Matter good People?
O pray Madam, satisfie Sir. Solomon who will kill me else, did not you receive a Note of my Ladies that I left at your House?
Ha, ha, is that all?
That all? ay Madam, and if you are concern'd in it, pray let me know the meaning of it.
Indeed Sir Solomon, I am sorry I was not a witness of the Mirth.
Mirth, Cousen? you wou'd ha' been disappointed — but pray bring us out of this Confusion, here has been a Man here that wou'd ha' been ve∣ry free with me.
Ha, ha, why that's it.
That's it, Madam!
And to justifie his coming threw me the Note I had sent to you—I thought I shou'd ha' dy'd, and your Mirth as you call it, might ha' cost me my Life; my Maid murder'd, and Sir Solomon remain'd assur'd of my Dis∣honour.
I'm sorry it had so different Effects — I find I am to ask pardon for what I thought you wou'd thank me — but to set all right again, this Gentleman is one that I shall Marry to Morrow, and I thought the occasion of a Wedding, and the season of a Christmass, might justifie an innocent Frolick; and observing the Note you sent me this Morning with∣out Page 42 out a Superscription to be so worded, that it might come from me as well as you, and that there was not so much difference between our Persons and Dress, but might deceive him a Minute or two, and not fail, I thought of making a very ridiculous mistake.
Ha, ha, ha! a very good Plot I' faith, and I'm sorry it did not take; only my Dearee is such a fearful Fool, or it wou'd ha' made good sport —you must know Cousen, I accidentally coming in, had slipt behind the Tapestry and heard all.
Then you had all the pleasure of it to your Self — I design'd to be there too, but was interrupted by an impertinent Visiter, my Lady Chatt — but how came your Sword drawn Sir Solomon, you han't kill'd my Lover?
No, no, no, he went away before — but you must know, as the thing appear'd then, I was so foolish as to believe that it was a contri∣vance of Fidelia's and in the present Passion Cousen, did'nt know what I did —
I'm glad the Truth's come to Light —
But all's well now Cousen, all's well, and I applaud you for your Plot, I always took you for a sly Baggage — but come come, we'll send for the Fidles, and you for your Lover, for for ought I know, you have lost him — he was plaguily snubb'd poor Fellow; come a∣long, we'll have the Business done now — you shan't lose a Night Coz, besides to keep you in Countenance, my Lady Dainty is doing the same thing, and we'll be merry together —
Rarely come off, the success of this wou'd almost tempt me to break my Vow.
Well, there is nothing shows so visibly the remaining Footsteps of our primitive Barbarism as the noise at Weddings; huh! huh!—
It serves to recommend the Pleasures that succeed, and make us taste the Joys of silence with a higher relish —
Dr. You'll grieve to see your Art out-done; I bring an approv'd Re∣medy.
My Lady Dainty, I wish you Joy, and you too, dear Cleremont, an Hour hence you may wish it these — we heard of your Lady∣ship's design for a Wedding-Jigg to Night, and my Cousen and this hon∣est Captain were resolv'd to complement your Ladyship, and join in the same Dance — I warrant they shake their Heels rarely. —
Methinks the Stile of Sir Solomon is very extraor∣dinary.—
We wish your Ladyship Joy.
I wonder People of any Rank should use such vulgar Sa∣lutations. —
You see Sir Solomon the success of your Counsels.
Why every thing I do is lucky — I am the most overjoy'd Man o' this side the Globe — but you can't imagine what a sly Rogue the Cap∣tain has been in this Matter shall I tell him Tom?
No, Prithee let it alone till after Supper.
Ay you Dog, your Thoughts ru• upon nothing but after Sup∣per. — But Cleremont, you'll Dye with Laughing, such Plots, and Counterplots. — Harkee! Tom, not a word to the Women of our first Contrivance.
For if my Dearee shou'd but hear of so irreligious a purpose, it wou'd break her Heart. It seems she is one or other, the most reserv'd, most pious, of such nice Honour, and the fearfull'st Fool, — well, I am the happiest Man in the World. —
In a Wife.
And next to my own Happiness, I must Congratulate my Friends. — Dear Cleremont, I'm overjoy'd at thy good Fortune —why thy Wife looks better already — is it not possible to make her speak like one of us?
All things by Degrees, Sir Solomon, I must not over-dose her.
Nothing pleases me so much as to think that all this happen'd thro' my Contrivance — Tom, Cleremont.
Thou art a great Man that's certain.
For Intriguing —
Truly Madam I wonder how this Ill-bred Custom prevails among People of Figure? This Singing, this Dancing and this Tumult, is so like the Mob Solemnities of a May-Day, Huh! Huh! Huh!
And the Bride is us'd just like their Pole, for all the Town to Dance round.
Directly so; well, certainly if it were not for the Pleasure of ruling after, no Woman of Quality wou'd suffer her self to be treated so like a Commoner.
The grosser part of the Ceremony is to come Madam, and that is throwing the Stocking.
That indeed is a thing that insults us so near, that I wonder the Men have not thought it their Interest to lay it down.
I suppose it is to take away the rem ins of Modesty in a Married Wo∣man all at once, for they think that Quality is properly the Vertue of a Maid —
Tom, take hold of your Mistress, the Parson's in the next Room —let's dispatch that and then for the Supper and then — for the Posset you Rogue!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
This is his contrivance.
Cousen Sir Solomon, I'm your humble Servant, and Miss my Cou∣sen, Clarinda this is very kindly done.
what does this old strumpet Mean?
Faith I can't tell I suppose some joke of Freeman's.
My Cousen, my Lady Dainty! This was extemely obliging, to summon all your Friends to the Celebration of our Nuptials — I don't know how I shall be able to return this Favour, but the Captain, Madam, must answer for me —
What Captain, and what Nuptials do you speak of, Mrs. Friend∣love?
Your Ladyship has a mind to give me some confusions, but your Ladyship need not be told that in half an Hour at most, my Name it is to be Freeman.
— Here's another Plot, another Plot!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
How Madam, are your pretentions to my Husband?
Your Husband? — why — am I deceiv'd then? Miss, Captain, pray speak, am I Cheated? Dear Captain Cousen are you a Rogue? Ha! Are you false to me?
Why what can be said? you stay'd so long that I was quite out of Patience, and seeing the Parson, the Musick and all things ready, and this Lady in Humour and rather than disappoint my Lady Dainty, I ingag'd my self here — that's all.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
You false ungrateful Fellow, to serve a Woman of my Relations so. (Aside) But this damn'd Jade to make me wait so long: She was an hour look∣ing for my false Teeth, if I had layn in 'em as I us'd to do at my Lady Topers, all had been well — I'll turn her away immediately — but first I wish you all jealous, when you have no reason, and secure when you have, and may every Body think your Wives Handsome, but your selves; and may your Children be as dull as if they were lawfully begot.
A heavy Curse.
Farewel Hermaphrodite, — well this is a night of Intrigues, no∣thing but Stratagems; Tom, I begin to be in Love with my self, when I think I was the first Ingineer.
Nay 'twas all your own Contrivance.
All things break out so, luckily: But stay there's Careless left how shall we provide for him, he's a very honest Fellow.
Don't Name that Sir Solomon, if you intend to prefer me — but now I have no hopes of being a General, I think I must go into the Country, and be my Elder Brother's Butler.
Ay, thou hadst always a kindness for the Cellar, but if you wou'd make your Fortune under him, get to be his Steward, Iack, rather than his Butler, for then you may come to be richer than your Master in a little time if you have any Discretion.
Which I never had — but there's another way I like better, if you wou'd promise me your Interest.
If it be not to serve the Court-Party, I promise you.
Not in the least 'tis only to perswade that Lady (who I have found is your Relation) to think better of me than I do of my self, and take me for Life.
That's a long Lease, but she has 200l. a Year to keep it in re∣pair —
You see Madam, how Ominous it was to begin with a Quarrel, I knew 'twou'd be a Match, by our Scolding before hand.
If we don't after, 'twill be well enough.
We must not be singular — now and then 'twill be necessary to be like the rest of the World.
Well Clarinda, I wish you perfect Joy and must own to you, that your life is the Happiest — there all is Quiet, all is Peace, there is nothing to steal the Colour from your Cheeks, or betray you to Surprizes, and now I am convinc'd of the Folly, the Confusion and the Adversity of Mine.