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Bel. Ah! that is an office I am weary of. I wish a friend would take it up: I would to heaven you had leisure for the employ. But, did you drive a trade to the four corners of the world, you would not find the task so toilsome as to keep me free from faults.
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged. This candour tells me I should not have the fault of self-conceit to combat ; that, at least, is not among the number.
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth who thought more humbly of me than I do of myself, I would take his opinion and forego my own.
Stock. And were I to choose a pupil, it should be one of your complexion: so if you will come along with me, we will agree upon your admission, and enter upon a course of lectures directly.
Bel. With all my heart.
II.-Lady Townly and Lady Grace.
Lady T. OH, my dear Lady Grace! how could you leave me so unmercifully alone all this while?
Lady G. I thought my lord had been with you.
Lady T. Why, yes-and therefore I wanted your relief; for he has been in such a fluster here
Lady G. Bless me! for what?
Lady T. Only our usual breakfast; we have each of us had our dish of matrimonial comfort this morning—we have been charming company.
Lady G. I am mighty glad of it; sure it must be a vast, happiness when man and wife can give themselves the same turn of conversation!
Lady T. Oh, the prettiest thing in the world!
Lady G. Now I should be afraid, that where two people are every day together so, they must be often in want of something to talk upon.
Lady T. Oh, my dear, you are the most mistaken in the world! married people have things to talk of, child, that never enter into the imagination of others- -Why, here's my lord and I, now, we have not been married above two short years, you know, and we have already eight or ten things constantly in bank, that whenever we want company, we can take up any one of them for two hours together, and the subject never the flatter; nay, if we have occasion for it, it will be as fresh next day too, as it was the first hour it entertained us.
Lady G. Certainly that must be vastly pretty. Lady T. Oh, there's no life like it! Why, t'other day, for example, when you dined abroad, my lord and I, after a pretty cheerful tete a tete meal, sat us down by the fireside, in an easy, indolent, pick tooth way, for about a quarter of an hour, as if we had not thought of one another's being in the room.-At last, stretching himself and yawning -My dear, says he,- aw- -you come home very late last night."Twas but just turned of two, says I.I was in bed- aw-by eleven, says he.-So you are every night, says I.-Well, says he, I am amazed you can sit up so late. How can you be amazed, says I, at a thing that happens so often!- -Upon which we entered into a conversation: and though this is a point which has entertained us above fifty times already, we always find so many pretty new things to say upon it, that I believe in my soul it will last as long as I live.
Lady G. But pray, in such sort of family dialogues (tho' extremely well for passing the time) doesn't there now and then enter some little witty sort of bitterness?
Lady T. Oh, yes! which does not do amiss at all. A smart repartee, with a zest of recrimination at the head of it, makes the prettiest sherbet. Ay, ay, if we did not mix a little of the acid with it, a matrimonial society would be so luscious, that nothing but an old liquorish prude would be able to bear it.
Lady G. Well, certainly you have the most elegant taste
Lady T. Though, to tell you the truth, my dear, I rather think we squeezed a little too much lemon into it this bout; for it grew so sour at last, that I think- -I almost told him he was a fool--and he again-talked something oddly of-turning me out of doors.
Lady G. Oh! have a care of that.
Lady T. Nay, if he should, I may thank my own wise father for it..
Lady G. How so?
Lady T. Why, when my good lord first opened his honourable trenches before me, my unaccountable papa, in whose hands I then was, gave me up at discretion.
Lady G. How do you mean?
Lady T. He said the wives of this age were come to that pass, that he would not desire even his own daughter should be trusted with pinmoney; so that my whole train
of separate inclinations are left entirely at the mercy of a husband's odd humours.
Lady G. Why, that indeed is enough to make a woman of spirit look about her.
Lady T. Nay, but to be serious, my dear, what would you really have a woman to do in my case?
Lady G. Why, if I had a sober husband, as you have, I would make myself the happiest wife in the world, by being as sober as he.
Lady T. Oh, you wicked thing! how can you teaze one at this rate, when you know he is so very sober, that (except giving me money) there is not one thing in the world he can do to please me. And I, at the same time, partly by nature, and partly, perhaps by keeping the best company, do with my soul love almost every thing he hates. I dote upon assemblies: my heart bounds at a ball; and at an opera-I expire. Then, I love play to distraction; cards enchant me-and dice-put me out of my little wits. Dear, dear hazard-Oh, what a flow of spirits it gives onę! do you never play at hazard, child?
Lady G. Oh, never! I don't think it sits well upon women; there's something so masculine, so much the air of a rake in it. You see how it makes the men swear and curse; and, when a woman is thrown into the same passion-why
Lady T. That's'very true; one is a little put to it, sometimes, not to make use of the same words to express it.
Lady G. Well, and upon ill luck, pray what words are you really forced to make use of?
Lady T. Why, upon a very hard case, indeed, when a sad wrong word is rising just to one's tongue's end, I give a great gulp and———swallow it.
Lady G. Well-and is it not enough to make you forswear play as long as you live?
Lady T. O, yes; I have forsworn it.
Lady G. Seriously?
Lady T. Solemnly, a thousand times; but then one is constantly forsworn.
Lady G. And how can you answer that?
Lady T. My dear, what we say, when we are losers, we look upon to be no more binding than a lover's oath, or a great man's promise. But I beg pardon, child: I should not lead you so far into the world; you are a prude, and design to live soberly.
Lady G. Why, I confess my nature and my education do in a good degree incline me that way.
Lady T. Well, how a woman of spirit (for you don't want that, child) can dream of living soberly, is to me inconceivable; for you will marry, I suppose.
Lady G. I can't tell but I may.
Lady T. And won't you live in town?
Lady T. My stars! and you would really live in London half the year to be sober in it?
Lady G. Why not?
Lady T. Why can't you as well go and be sober in the country?
Lady G. So I would-t'other half year.
Lady T. And pray, what comfortable scheme of life would you form now for your summer and winter sober entertainments?
Lady G. A scheme that I think might very well content
Lady T. Oh, of all things, let's hear it.
Lady G. Why, in summer I could pass my leisure hours in riding, in reading, walking by a canal, or sitting at the end of it under a great tree; in dressing, dining, chatting with an agreeable friend; perhaps hearing a little music, taking a dish of tea, or a game at cards-soberly; managing my family, looking into its accounts, playing with my children, if I had any; or in a thousand other innocent amusements-soberly; and possibly, by these means, 1 might induce my husband to be as sober as myself.
Lady T. Well, my dear, thou art an astonishing creature! For sure such a primitive antediluvian notion of life have not been in any head these thousand years.- -Under a great tree ha ha! ha!the sober town scheme too-for
-But I beg we may have
I am charmed with the
Lady G. You shall, and I'll try to stick to my sobriety there too.
Lady T. Well, though I am sure it will give me the vapours, I must hear it.
Lady G. Why, then, for fear of your fainting, madam, I will first so far come into the fashion, that I would never be dressed out of it-but still it should be soberly; for I can't think it any disgrace to a woman of my private fortune not to wear her lace as fine as the wedding suit of a first
dutchess; though there is one extravagance I would venture to come up to.
Lady T. Ay, now for it
Lady G. I would every day be as clean as a bride. Lady T. Why, the men say that's a great step to be made one. -Well, now you are drest, pray let's see to what purpose.
Lady G. I would visit—that is, my real friends; but as little for form as possible-I would go to court; sometimes to an assembly, nay, play at quadrille-soberly. I would see all the good plays; and because 'tis the fashion, now and then go to an opera; but I would not expire there
-for fear I should never go again. And lastly, I can't say, but for curiosity, if I liked my company, I might be drawn in once to a masquerade;-and this, I think, is as far as any woman can go-soberly.
Lady T. Well, if it had not been for that last piece of sobriety, I was just going to call for some surfeit-water.
Lady G. Why, don't you think, with the farther aid of breakfasting, dining, taking the air, supping, sleeping, (not to say a word of devotion,) the four-and-twenty hours might roll over in a tolerable manner?
Lady T. Tolerable; deplorable!--Why, child, all you propose is but to endure life; now, I want to enjoy it.
III.-Priuli and Jaffier.
Pri. No more! I'll hear no more! Be gone and leave
Jaff. Not hear me! By my sufferings, but you shall!
You think me.
Patience! where's the distance throws
Me back so far, but I may boldly speak
In right, though proud oppression will not hear me !
Have brook'd injustice or the doing wrong,
I need not now thus low have bent myself,
Pri. Yes, wrong'd me. In the nicest point,