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Sir Peter-Oons! madam-if you had been born to this, I shouldn't wonder at your talking thus; but you forget what your situation was when I married you.
Lady Teazle - No, no, I don't; 'twas a very disagreeable one, or I should never have married you.
Sir Peter-Yes, yes, madam, you were then in somewhat a humbler style-the daughter of a plain country squire. Recollect, Lady Teazle, when I saw you first sitting at your tambour, in a pretty figured linen gown, with a bunch of keys at your side, your hair combed smooth over a roll, and your apartment hung round with fruits in worsted, of your own working.
Lady Teazle - Oh, yes! I remember it very well, and a curious life I led. My daily occupation to inspect the dairy, superintend the poultry, make extracts from the family receipt book, and comb my aunt Deborah's lapdog.
Sir Peter Yes, yes, ma'am, 'twas so indeed.
Lady Teazle And then, you know my evening amusements! To draw patterns for ruffles, which I had not materials to make up; to play Pope Joan with the curate; to read a sermon to my aunt; or to be stuck down to an old spinet to strum my father to sleep after a fox chase.
Sir Peter-I am glad you have so good a memory. Yes, madam, these were the recreations I took you from; but now you must have your coach-vis-à-vis — and three powdered footmen before your chair; and, in the summer, a pair of white cats to draw you to Kensington Gardens. No recollection, I suppose, when you were content to ride double, behind the butler, on a docked coach horse.
No-I swear I never did that: I deny the butler and the coach horse.
Sir Peter-This, madam, was your situation; and what have I done for you? I have made you a woman of fashion, of fortune, of rank-in short, I have made you my wife.
Lady Teazle - Well, then, and there is but one thing more you can make me to add to the obligation, that is
Sir Peter My widow, I suppose
Lady Teazle - Hem! hem!
Sir Peter-I thank you, madam-but don't flatter yourself; for though your ill conduct may disturb my peace of mind, it shall never break my heart, I promise you: however, I am equally obliged to you for the hint.
Lady Teazle-Then why will you endeavor to make yourself so disagreeable to me, and thwart me in every little elegant expense?
Sir Peter-'Slife, madam, I say, had you any of these little elegant expenses when you married me?.
Lady Teazle-Lud, Sir Peter! would you have me be out of the fashion?
Sir Peter-The fashion, indeed! what had you to do with the fashion before you married me?
Lady Teazle - For my part, I should think you would like to have your wife thought a woman of taste.
Sir Peter-Ay-there again-taste! Zounds! madam, you had no taste when you married me !
Lady Teazle-That's very true indeed, Sir Peter! and, after having married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I allow. But now, Sir Peter, since we have finished our daily jangle, I presume I may go to my engagement at Lady Sneerwell's.
Sir Peter-Ay, there's another precious circumstancea charming set of acquaintance you have made there!
Lady Teazle-Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of rank and fortune, and remarkably tenacious of reputation.
Sir Peter-Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputation with a vengeance; for they don't choose anybody should have a character but themselves! Such a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged tales, coiners of scandal, and clippers of reputation.
Lady Teazle-What, would you restrain the freedom of speech?
Sir Peter-Ah! they have made you just as bad as any one of the society.
Lady Teazle-Why, I believe I do bear a part with a tolerable grace.
Sir Peter- Grace indeed!
Lady Teazle-But I vow I bear no malice against the people I abuse when I say an ill-natured thing, 'tis out of pure good humor; and I take it for granted they deal exactly in the same manner with me. But, Sir Peter, you know you promised to come to Lady Sneerwell's, too.
Sir Peter-Well, well, I'll call in, just to look after my own character.
Lady Teazle-Then, indeed, you must make haste after me, or you'll be too late. So good-bye to ye.
Sir Peter-So-I have gained much by my intended expostulation! Yet with what a charming air she contradicts everything I say, and how pleasantly she shows her contempt for my authority! Well, though I can't make her love me, there is great satisfaction in quarreling with her; and I think she never appears to such advantage as when she is doing everything in her power to plague me.
[Sir Peter Teazle has just been pressing his ward Maria to marry Joseph Surface, whom she detests, in place of Charles, whom she loves; she refuses to consider Joseph, though obeying in respect to holding no communication with Charles, and goes out in indignation after a stormy scene.]
Sir Peter Was ever man so crossed as I am, everything conspiring to fret me! I had not been involved in matrimony a fortnight, before her father, a hale and hearty man, died, on purpose, I believe, for the pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his daughter [LADY TEAZLE sings without.] But here comes my helpmate! She appears in great good humor. How happy I should be if I could tease her into loving me, though but a little!
Enter LADY TEAZLE.
Sir Peter, I hope you haven't been
Lady Teazle - Lud! quarreling with Maria? humored when I am not by.
Sir Peter-Ah, Lady Teazle, you might have the power to make me good-humored at all times.
Lady Teazle-I am sure I wish I had; for I want you to be in a charming sweet temper at this moment. Do be goodhumored now, and let me have two hundred pounds, will you?
Sir Peter- Two hundred pounds; what, an't I to be in a good humor without paying for it! But speak to me thus, and i' faith there's nothing I could refuse you. You shall have it; but seal me a bond for the repayment.
Lady Teazle-Oh, no-there-my note of hand will do [Offering her hand. Sir Peter And you shall no longer reproach me with not
giving you an independent settlement. I mean shortly to surprise you but shall we always live thus, hey?
Lady Teazle-If you please. I'm sure I don't care how soon we leave off quarreling, provided you'll own you were tired first.
Sir Peter Well then let our future contest be, who shall be most obliging.
Lady Teazle-I assure you, Sir Peter, good nature becomes you. You look now as you did before we were married, when you used to walk with me under the elms, and tell me stories of what a gallant you were in your youth, and chuck me under the chin, you would; and ask me if I thought I could love an old fellow, who would deny me nothing — didn't you?
Sir Peter Yes, yes, and you were as kind and attentive Lady Teazle- Ay, so I was, and would always take your part, when my acquaintance used to abuse you, and turn you into ridicule.
Sir Peter- Indeed!
Lady Teazle - Ay, and when my cousin Sophy has called you a stiff, peevish old bachelor, and laughed at me for thinking of marrying one who might be my father, I have always defended you, and said, I didn't think you so ugly by any means. Sir Peter-Thank you.
Lady Teazle - And I dared say you'd make a very good sort of a husband.
Sir Peter-And you prophesied right; and we shall now be the happiest couple
Lady Teazle And never differ again?
Sir Peter-No, never! - though at the same time, indeed, my dear Lady Teazle, you must watch your temper very seriously; for in all our little quarrels, my dear, if you recollect, my love, you always began first.
Lady Teazle-I beg your pardon, my dear Sir Peter: indeed, you always gave the provocation.
Sir Peter-Now see, my angel! take care-contradicting isn't the way to keep friends.
Lady Teazle-Then don't you begin it, my love!
Sir Peter-There, now! you- you are going on. You don't perceive, my life, that you are just doing the very thing which you know always makes me angry.
Lady Teazle-Nay, you know if you will be angry without any reason, my dear
VOL. XIX. -8
Sir Peter-There! now you want to quarrel again.
Lady Teazle-No, I'm sure I don't: but, if you will be so peevish
Sir Peter-There now! who begins first?
Lady Teazle- Why, you, to be sure. I said nothing — but there's no bearing your temper.
Sir Peter-No, no, madam: the fault's in your own temper. Lady Teazle-Ay, you are just what my cousin Sophy said you would be.
Sir Peter-Your cousin Sophy is a forward, impertinent gypsy.
Lady Teazle - You are a great bear, I'm sure, to abuse my relations.
Now may all the plagues of marriage be doubled on me, if ever I try to be friends with you any more!
Lady Teazle - So much the better.
Sir Peter-No, no, madam: 'tis evident you never cared a pin for me, and I was a madman to marry you—a pert, rural coquette, that had refused half the honest 'squires in the neighborhood!
Lady Teazle And I am sure I was a fool to marry youan old dangling bachelor, who was single at fifty, only because he never could meet with any one who would have him. Ay, ay, madam; but you were pleased enough you never had such an offer before.
to listen to me:
Lady Teazle No! didn't I refuse Sir Tivy Terrier, who everybody said would have been a better match? for his estate is just as good as yours, and he has broke his neck since we have been married.
Sir Peter I have done with you, madam! You are an unfeeling, ungrateful but there's an end of everything. I believe you capable of everything that is bad. Yes, madam, I now believe the reports relative to you and Charles, madam. Yes, madam, you and Charles are, not without grounds
Lady Teazle-Take care, Sir Peter! you had better not insinuate any such thing! I'll not be suspected without cause, I promise you.
Sir Peter - Very well, madam! very well! a separate maintenance as soon as you please. Yes, madam, or a divorce! I'll make an example of myself for the benefit of all old bachelors. Let us separate, madam.
Lady Teazle Agreed! agreed ! And now, my dear Sir