George Farquhar, The Beaux-Stratagem (1707)

Act II

Act II, Scene 1

A Gallery in Lady Bountiful’s House. [Enter Mrs. Sullen and Dorinda, meeting.]

Dorinda: Morrow, my dear sister; are you for church this morning?
Mrs. Sullen: Anywhere to pray; for Heaven alone can help me. But I think, Dorinda, there’s no form of prayer in the liturgy against bad husbands.
Dorinda: But there’s a form of law in Doctors-Common and I swear, sister Sullen, rather than see you this continually discontented, I would advise you apply to that: for besides the part that I bear your vexatious broils, as being sister to the husband and friend to the wife, your example gives me such an impression of matrimony, that I shall be apt condemn my person to a long vacation all its life But supposing, madam, that you brought it to case of separation, what can you urge against your husband? My brother is, first, the most constant man alive.
Mrs. Sullen: The most constant husband, I grant ye.
Dorinda: He never sleeps from you.
Mrs. Sullen: No, he always sleeps with me.
Dorinda: He allows you a maintenance suitable to your quality.
Mrs. Sullen: A maintenance! do you take me, madam, for an hospital child, that I must sit down, and bless my benefactors for meat, drink, and clothes? As I take it, madam, I brought your brother ten thousand pounds, out of which I might expect some pretty things, called pleasures.
Dorinda: You share in all the pleasures that the country affords.
Mrs. Sullen: Country pleasures! racks and torments! Dost think, child, that my limbs were made for leaping of ditches, and clambering over stiles? or that my parents, wisely foreseeing my future happiness in country pleasures, had early instructed me in rural accomplishments of drinking fat ale, playing at whisk, and smoking tobacco with my husband? or of spreading of plasters, brewing of diet-drinks, and stilling rosemary-water, with the good old gentlewoman my mother-in-law?
Dorinda: I’m sorry, madam, that it is not more in our power to divert you; I could wish, indeed, that our entertainments were a little more polite, or your taste a little less refined. But, pray, madam, how came the poets and philosophers, that laboured so much in hunting after pleasure, to place it at last in a country life?
Mrs. Sullen: Because they wanted money, child, to find out the pleasures of the town. Did you ever see a poet or philosopher worth ten thousand pounds? if you can show me such a man, I’ll lay you fifty pounds you’ll find him somewhere within the weekly bills. Not that I disapprove rural pleasures, as the poets have painted them; in their landscape, every Phillis has her Corydon, every murmuring stream, and every flowery mead, gives fresh alarms to love. Besides, you’ll find, that their couples were never married: - but yonder I see my Corydon, and a sweet swain it is, Heaven knows! Come, Dorinda, don’t be angry, he’s my husband, and your brother; and, between both, is he not a sad brute?
Dorinda: I have nothing to say to your part of him, you ’re the best judge.
Mrs. Sullen: O sister, sister! if ever you marry, beware of a sullen, silent sot, one that’s always musing, but never thinks. There’s some diversion in a talking blockhead; and since a woman must wear chains, I would have the pleasure of hearing ’em rattle a little. Now you shall see, but take this by the way. He came home this morning at his usual hour of four, wakened me out of a sweet dream of something else, by tumbling over the tea-table, which he broke all to pieces; after his man and he had rolled about the room, like sick passengers in a storm, he comes flounce into bed, dead as a salmon into a fishmonger’s basket; his feet cold as ice, his breath hot as a furnace, and his hands and his face as greasy as his flannel night-cap. O matrimony! He tosses up the clothes with a barbarous swing over his shoulders, disorders the whole economy of my bed, leaves me half-naked, and my whole night’s comfort is the tuneable serenade of that wakeful nightingale, his nose! Oh, the pleasure of counting the melancholy clock by a snoring husband! But now, sister, you shall see how handsomely, being a well-bred man, he will beg my pardon.
[Enter Squire Sullen].
Squire Sullen: My head aches consumedly.
Mrs. Sullen: Will you be pleased, my dear, to drink tea with us this morning? it may do your head good.
Squire Sullen: No.
Dorinda: Coffee, brother?
Squire Sullen: Psha!
Mrs. Sullen: Will you please to dress, and go to church with me? the air may help you.
Squire Sullen: Scrub! [Calls. Enter Scrub.] Scrub. Sir!
Squire Sullen: What day o’ th’ week is this?
Scrub: Sunday, an’t please your worship.
Squire Sullen: Sunday! bring me a dram; and d’ye hear, set out the venison-pasty, and a tankard of strong beer upon the hall-table, I’ll go to breakfast [Going.]
Dorinda: Stay, stay, brother, you shan’t get off so; you were very naught last night, and must make your wife reparation; come, come, brother, won’t you ask pardon?
Squire Sullen: For what?
Dorinda: For being drunk last night.
Squire Sullen: I can afford it, can’t I?
Mrs. Sullen: But I can’t, sir.
Squire Sullen: Then you may let it alone.
Mrs. Sullen: But I must tell you, sir, that this is not to be borne.
Squire Sullen: I’m glad on’t.
Mrs. Sullen: What is the reason, sir, that you use me thus inhumanly?
Squire Sullen: Scrub!
Scrub: Sir!
Squire Sullen: Get things ready to shave my head. [Exit]
Mrs. Sullen: Have a care of coming near his temples, Scrub, for fear you meet something there that may turn the edge of your razor. [Exit Scrub.] Inveterate stupidity I did you ever know so hard, so obstinate a spleen as his? O sister, sister! I shall never ha’ good of the beast till I get him to town; London, dear London, is the place for managing and breaking a husband.
Dorinda: And has not a husband the same opportunities there for humbling a wife?
Mrs. Sullen: No, no, child, ’tis a standing maxim in conjugal discipline, that when a man would enslave his wife, he hurries her into the country; and when a lady would be arbitrary with her husband, she wheedles her booby up to town. A man dare not play the tyrant in London, because there are so many examples to encourage the subject to rebel. O Dorinda! Dorinda! a fine woman may do anything in London: o’ my conscience, she may raise an army of forty thousand men.
Dorinda: I fancy, sister, you have a mind to be trying your power that way here in Lichfield; you have drawn the French count to your colours already.
Mrs. Sullen: The French are a people that can’t live without their gallantries.
Dorinda: And some English that I know, sister, are not averse to such amusements.
Mrs. Sullen: Well, sister, since the truth must out, it may do as well now as hereafter; I think, one way to rouse my lethargic, sottish husband, is to give him a rival: security begets negligence in all people, and men must be alarmed to make ’em alert in their duty. Women are like pictures, of no value in the hands of a fool, till he hears men of sense bid high for the purchase.
Dorinda: This might do, sister, if my brother’s understanding were to be convinced into a passion for you; but, I fancy, there’s a natural aversion on his side; and I fancy, sister, that you don’t come much behind him, if you dealt fairly.
Mrs. Sullen: I own it, we are united contradictions, fire and water: but I could be contented, with a great many other wives, to humour the censorious mob, and give the world an appearance of living well with my husband, could I bring him but to dissemble a little kindness to keep me in countenance.
Dorinda: But how do you know, sister, but that, instead of rousing your husband by this artifice to a counterfeit kindness, he should awake in a real fury?
Mrs. Sullen: Let him: if I can’t entice him to the one, I would provoke him to the other.
Dorinda: But how must I behave myself between ye?
Mrs. Sullen: You must assist me.
Dorinda: What, against my own brother?
Mrs. Sullen: He’s but half a brother, and I’m your entire friend. If I go a step beyond the bounds of honour, leave me; till then, I expect you should go along with me in everything; while I trust my honour in your hands, you may trust your brother’s in mine. The count is to dine here to-day.
Dorinda: ’Tis a strange thing, sister, that I can’t like that man.
Mrs. Sullen: You like nothing; your time is not come; Love and Death have their fatalities, and strike home one time or other: You’ll pay for all one day, I warrant ye. But come, my lady’s tea is ready, and ’tis almost church time. [Exeunt.]

Act II, Scene 2

[A Room in Boniface’s Inn. Enter Aimwell dressed, and Archer.]

Aimwell: And was she the daughter of the house?
Archer: The landlord is so blind as to think so; but I dare swear she has better blood in her veins.
Aimwell: Why dost think so?
Archer: Because the baggage has a pert je ne sais quoi; she reads plays, keeps a monkey, and is troubled with vapours.
Aimwell: By which discoveries I guess that you know more of Cherry.
Archer: Not yet, faith; the lady gives herself airs; forsooth, nothing under a gentleman!
Aimwell: Let me take her in hand.
Archer: Say one word more of that, and I’ll declare myself, spoil your sport there, and everywhere else; look ye, Aim well, every man in his own sphere.
Aimwell: Right; and therefore you must pimp for your master.
Archer: In the usual forms, good sir, after I have served myself. - But to our business. You are so well dressed, Tom, and make so handsome a figure, that I fancy you may do execution in a country church; the exterior part strikes first, and you’re in the right to make that impression favourable.
Aimwell: There’s something in that which may turn to advantage. The appearance of a stranger in a country church draws as many gazers as a blazing-star; no sooner he comes into the cathedral, but a train of whispers runs buzzing round the congregation in a moment: Who is he? Whence comes he? Do you know him? Then I, sir, tips me the verger with half-a-crown; he pockets the simony, and inducts me into the best pew in the church; I pull out my snuff-box, turn myself round, bow to the bishop, or the dean, if he be the commanding-officer; single out a beauty, rivet both my eyes to hers, set my nose a-bleeding by the strength of imagination, and show the whole church my concern, by my endeavouring to hide it; after the sermon, the whole town gives me to her for a lover, and by persuading the lady that I am a-dying for her, the tables are turned, and she in good earnest falls in love with me.
Archer: There’s nothing in this, Tom, without a precedent; but instead of riveting your eyes to a beauty, try to fix ’em upon a fortune; that’s our business at present.
Aimwell: Psha! no woman can be a beauty without a fortune. Let me alone, for I am a marksman.
Archer: Tom!
Aimwell: Ay.
Archer: When were you at church before, pray?
Aimwell: Um - I was there at the coronation.
Archer: And how can you expect a blessing by going to church now?
Aimwell: Blessing! nay, Frank, I ask but for a wife. [Exit.]
Archer: Truly, the man is not very unreasonable in his demands. [Exit at the opposite door.]
Enter Boniface and Cherry.]
Boniface: Well, daughter, as the saying is, have you brought Martin to confess?
Cherry: Pray, father, don’t put me upon getting anything out of a man; I’m but young, you know, father, and I don’t understand wheedling.
Boniface: Young! why, you jade, as the saying is, can any woman wheedle that is not young? your mother was useless at five-and-twenty. Not wheedle! would you make your mother a whore, and me a cuckold, as the saying is? I tell you, his silence confesses it, and his master spends his money so freely, and is so much a gentleman every manner of way, that he must be a highwayman.
[Enter Gibbet, in a cloak.]
Gibbet: Landlord, landlord, is the coast clear?
Boniface: O Mr. Gibbet, what ’s the news?
Gibbet: No matter, ask no questions, all fair and honourable. - Here, my dear Cherry. [Gives her a bag.] Two hundred sterling pounds, as good as any that ever hanged or saved a rogue; lay ’em by with the rest; and here - three wedding or mourning rings, ’tis much the same you know-here, two silver-hilted swords; I took those from fellows that never show any part of their swords but the hilts-here is a diamond necklace which the lady hid in the privatest place in the coach, but I found it out - this gold watch I took from a pawnbroker’s wife; it was left in her hands by a person of quality: there’s the arms upon the case.
Cherry: But who had you the money from?
Gibbet: Ah! poor woman! I pitied her; - from a poor lady just eloped from her husband. She had made up her cargo, and was bound for Ireland, as hard as she could drive; she told me of her husband’s barbarous usage, and so I left her half-a-crown. But I had almost forgot, my dear Cherry, I have a present for you.
Cherry: What is ’t?
Gibbet: A pot of ceruse, my child, that I took out of a lady’s under-pocket.
Cherry: What, Mr. Gibbet, do you think that I paint?
Gibbet: Why, you jade, your betters do; I’m sure the lady that I took it from had a coronet upon her handkerchief. Here, take my cloak, and go, secure the premises.
Cherry: I will secure ’em. [Exit.]
Boniface: But, hark’ee, where’s Hounslow and Bagshot?
Gibbet: They’ll be here to-night.
Boniface: D’ ye know of any other gentlemen o’ the pad on this road?
Gibbet: No.
Boniface: I fancy that I have two that lodge in the house just now.
Gibbet: The devil! how d’ye smoke ’em?
Boniface: Why, the one is gone to church.
Gibbet: That’s suspicious, I must confess.
Boniface: And the other is now in his master’s chamber; he pretends to be servant to the other; we’ll call him out and pump him a little.
Gibbet: With all my heart.
Boniface: Mr. Martin! Mr. Martin! [Calls.]
[Enter Archer, combing a periwig and singing.]
Gibbet: The roads are consumed deep, I’m as dirty as Old Brentford at Christmas. - A good pretty fellow that; whose servant are you, friend?
Archer: My master’s.
Gibbet: Really!
Archer: Really.
Gibbet: That’s much. - The fellow has been at the bar by his evasions. - But, pray, sir, what is your master’s name?
Archer: Tall, all, dall! [Sings and combs the periwig.] This is the most obstinate curl ...
Gibbet: I ask you his name?
Archer: Name, sir - tall, all, doll! - I never asked him his name in my life. - Tall, all, doll!
Boniface: What think you now? [Aside to Gibbet.]
Gibbet: [Aside to Boniface.] Plain, plain, he talks now as if he were before a judge. [To Archer.] But pray, friend, which way does your master travel?
Archer: A-horseback.
Gibbet: [Aside.] Very well again, an old offender, right -
[To Archer.] But, I mean, does he go upwards or downwards?
Archer: Downwards, I fear, sir. - Tall, all!
Gibbet: I’m afraid my fate will be a contrary way.
Boniface: Ha! ha! ha! Mr. Martin, you ’re very arch. This gentleman is only travelling towards Chester, and would be glad of your company, that’s all. - Come, captain, you’ll stay to-night, I suppose? I’ll show you a chamber - come, captain.
Gibbet: Farewell, friend!
Archer: Captain, your servant. [Exeunt Boniface and Gibbet.] Captain! a pretty fellow! ’Sdeath, I wonder that the officers of the army don’t conspire to beat all scoundrels in red but their own.
[Re-enter Cherry.]
Cherry: [Aside.] Gone, and Martin here! I hope he did not listen; I would have the merit of the discovery all my own, because I would oblige him to love me. [Aloud] Mr. Martin, who was that man with my father?
Archer: Some recruiting Serjeant, or whipped-out trooper, I suppose.
Cherry: All’s safe, I find. [Aside.]
Archer: Come, my dear, have you conned over the catechise I taught you last night?
Cherry: Come, question me.
Archer: What is love?
Cherry: Love is I know not what, it comes I know not how, and goes I know not when.
Archer: Very well, an apt scholar. [Chucks her under the chin.] Where does love enter?
Cherry: Into the eyes.
Archer: And where go out?
Cherry: I won’t tell ye.
Archer: What are the objects of that passion?
Cherry: Youth, beauty, and clean linen.
Archer: The reason?
Cherry: The two first are fashionable in nature, and the third at court.
Archer: That’s my dear. - What are the signs and tokens of that passion?
Cherry: A stealing look, a stammering tongue, words improbable, designs impossible, and actions impracticable.
Archer: That’s my good child, kiss me. - -What must a lover do to obtain his mistress?
Cherry: He must adore the person that disdains him, he must bribe the chambermaid that betrays him, and court the footman that laughs at him. He must - he must -
Archer: Nay, child, I must whip you if you don’t mind your lesson; he must treat his ...
Cherry: Oh ay! - he must treat his enemies with respect, his friends with indifference, and all the world with contempt; he must suffer much, and fear more; he must desire much, and hope little; in short, he must embrace his ruin, and throw himself away.
Archer: Had ever man so hopeful a pupil as mine! - Come, my dear, why is love called a riddle?
Cherry: Because, being blind, he leads those that see, and, though a child, he governs a man.
Archer: Mighty well! - And why is Love pictured blind?
Cherry: Because the painters out of the weakness or privilege of their art chose to hide those eyes that they could not draw.
Archer: That’s my dear little scholar, kiss me again. - And why should Love, that’s a child, govern a man?
Cherry: Because that a child is the end of love.
Archer: And so ends Love’s catechism. - And now, my dear, we’ll go in and make my master’s bed.
Cherry: Hold, hold, Mr. Martin! You have taken a great deal of pains to instruct me, and what d’ ye think I have learned by it?
Archer: What?
Cherry: That your discourse and your habit are contradictions, and it would be nonsense in me to believe you a footman any longer.
Archer: ’Oons, what a witch it is!
Cherry: Depend upon this, sir, nothing in this garb shall ever tempt me; for, though I was born to servitude, I hate it. Own your condition, swear you love me, and then -
Archer: And then we shall go make my master’s bed?
Cherry: Yes.
Archer: You must know, then, that I am born a gentleman, my education was liberal; but I went to London a younger brother, fell into the hands of sharpers, who stripped me of my money, my friends disowned me, and now my necessity brings me to what you see.
Cherry: Then take my hand - promise to marry me before you sleep, and I’ll make you master of two thousand pounds.
Archer: How!
Cherry: Two thousand pounds that I have this minute in my own custody; so, throw off your livery this instant, and I’ll go find a parson.
Archer: What said you? a parson!
Cherry: What! do you scruple?
Archer: Scruple! no, no, but - Two thousand pounds, you say?
Cherry: And better.
Archer: [Aside.] ’Sdeath, what shall I do? [Aloud.] But hark ’ee, child, what need you make me master of yourself and money, when you may have the same pleasure out of me, and still keep your fortune in your hands?
Cherry: Then you won’t marry me?
Archer: I would marry you, but -
Cherry: O sweet sir, I’m your humble servant, you’re fairly caught! Would you persuade me that any gentleman who could bear the scandal of wearing a livery would refuse two thousand pounds, let the condition be what it would? no, no, sir. But I hope you’ll pardon the freedom I have taken, since it was only to inform myself of the respect that I ought to pay you. [Going.]
Archer: [Aside.] Fairly bit, by Jupiter! [Aloud.] Hold! hold! - And have you actually two thousand pounds?
Cherry: Sir, I have my secrets as well as you; when you please to be more open I shall be more free, and be assured that I have discoveries that will match yours, be what they will. In the meanwhile, be satisfied that no discovery I make shall ever hurt you, but beware of my father! [Exit.]
Archer: So! we’re like to have as many adventures in our inn as Don Quixote had in his. Let me see - two thousand pounds - if the wench would promise to die when the money were spent, egad, one would marry her; but the fortune may go off in a year or two, and the wife may live - Lord knows how long. Then an innkeeper’s daughter! ay, that’s the devil - there my pride brings me off.
For whatsoe’er the sages charge on pride, The angels’ fall, and twenty faults beside, On earth, I’m sure, ’mong us of mortal calling, Pride saves man oft, and woman too, from falling.
[Exit.]

[ top ]
[ next ]