Page images
PDF
EPUB

The young, so busy to engage a heart,
The mischief done are busy most to part ;
Ungrateful wretches! who still cross one's will,
When they more kindly might be busy still :
One to a husband who ne'er dream'd of horns
Shews how dear spouse with friend his rows

adorns : Th’officious tell-tale fool (he should repent it) Parts three kind souls that liv'd at peace con

tented !

Some with law quirks set houses by the ears; With physic one what he would heal impairs; Like that dark mop'd-up fry, that neighb'ring

curse, Who to remove lovc's pains bestow a worse. Since then this meddling tribe infest the age, Bear one a while expos'd upon the stage ; Let none but Busy Bodies vent their spite, And with good humour pleasure crown the night.

THE WONDER.

A WOMAN KEEPS A SECRET !

BY

Mrs CENTLIVRE.

PROLOGUE.

Our author fears the critics of the stage, If she succeeds, a woman gains applause ;
Who, like barbarians, spare nor sex nor age;

What female but must favour such a cause?
She trembles at those censors in the pit, Iler faults—whate'er they are-e'en pass 'em by,
Who think good nature shews a want of wit. And only on her beauties fix your eye.
Such malice, Oh! what Muse can undergo it? In plays, like vessels floating on the sea,
To save themselves they always damn the poet. There's none so wise to know their destiny:
Our author flies from such a partial jury,

In this, howe'er, the pilot's skill appears, As wary lovers from the nymphs of Drury: While by the stars his constant course he steers : To the few candid judges for a smile

Rightly our author does her judgment shew, She humbly sues to recompence her toil; That for her safety she relies on you. To the bright circle of the fair she next Your approbation, fair ones ! cann't but move Commits her cause, with anxious doubts perplex'd. Those stubborn hearts which first you taught to Where can she with such hopes of favour kneel love. As to those judges who her frailties feel ? The men must all applaud this play of ours, A few mistakes her sex may well excuse,

For who dare see with other eyes than yours? And such a plca no woman should refuse :

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ,

MEN.
Don LOPEZ, a Grandee of Portugal.
Don Felix, his Son, in love with VIOLANTE.
FREDERICK, a Merchant.
Don Pedro, Father to VIOLANTE.
Colonel BRITON, a Scotsman.
Gibby, his Footman.
LISSARDO, Footman to Felix.

WOMEN.
Donna VIOLANTE, designed for a Nun by her

father, in love with Felix.
Donna ISABELLA, Sister to FELIX.
INIS, her Maid.
FLORA, Maid to VIOLANTE.

Alguazil, Attendants, Servants, &c.

SCENE,- Lisbon.

ACT I.

sence.

SCENE I-A Street.

common prudence sometimes makes us act against

it, as I am now obliged to do; for I intend to Enter Don Lopez meeting FREDERICK.

marry my daughter to Don Guzman, whom I ex. Fred. My lord, Don Lopez.

pect from Holland every day, whither he went to Lop. How d’ye, Frederick ?

take possession of a large estate left him by his Fred. At your lordship's service. I am glad uncle. to see you look so well, my lord. I hope Anto Fred. You will not surely sacrifice the lovely Isanio's out of danger?

bella toage, avarice, and a fool! pardon the expres. Lop. Quite contrary ; his fever increases they sion, my lord, but my concern for your beauteous tell me; and the surgeons are of opinion his daughter transports me beyond that good manwound is mortal.

ners which I ought to pay your lordship's preFred. Your son, Don Felix, is safe I hope.

Lop. I hope so too; but they offer large re Lop. I cann't deny the justness of the characwards to apprehend him.

ter, Frederick; but you are not insensible what I Fred. When heard your lordship from him? have suffered by these wars; and he has two Lop. Not since he went: I forbade him writing things which render him very agreeable to me for till the public news gave him an account of An a son-in-law, he is rich and well born: as for his tonio's health. Letters might be intercepted, and being a fool, I don't conceive how that can be the place of his abode discovered.

any blot in a husband, who is already possessed Fred. Your caution was good, my lord. Tho' of a good estate. -A poor fool indeed' is a very I am impatient to hear from Felix, yet his safety scandalous thing, and so are your poor wits, in is my chief concern. Fortune has maliciously my opinion, who have nothing to be vain of but struck a bar between us in the affairs of life, but the inside of their sculls. Now for Don Guzshe has done me the honour to unite our souls. man, I know I can rule him as I think fit. This

Lop. I am not ignorant of the friendship be- is acting the politic part, Frederick, without which tween my son and you: I have heard him com- it is impossible to keep up the port of this life. mend your morals, and lament your want of no. Fred. But have you no consideration for your ble birth.

daughter's welfare, my lord ? Fred. That's nature's fault, my lord. It is some Lop. Is a husband of twenty thousand crowns comfort not to owe one's misfortunes to one's a year no consideration ? Now I think it a very self; yet it is impossible not to regret the want į good consideration. of noble birth.

Fred. One way, my lord. But what will the Lop. 'Tis a pity indeed such excellent parts as world say of such a match ? you are master of, should be eclipsed by mean Lop. Sir, I value not the world a button. extraction.

Fred. I cannot think your daughter can have Fred. Such commendation would make me any inclination for such a husband. vain, my lord; did you not cast in the allay of my Lop. There, I believe, you are pretty much in extraction.

the right, though it is a secret which I never had Lop. There's no condition of life without its the curiosity to enquire into, nor I believe ever cares, and it is the perfection of a man to wear shall.-Inclination, quoth-a ! Parents would have 'em as easy as he can: this unfortunate duel of my a fine time on't if they consulted their children's son's does not pass without impression; but since inclinations! I'll venture you a wager, that in all it is past prevention, all my concern is now how the garrison towns in Spain and Portugal during he may escape the punishment. If Antonio dies, the late war, there was not three women who Felix shall for England. You have been there; have not had an inclination for every officer in what sort of people are the English?

the whole army; does it therefore follow that Fred. My lord, the English are by nature what their fathers ought to pimp for them? No, no, the ancient Romans were by discipline, courage- sir, it is not a father's business to follow his chilous, bold, hardy, and in love with liberty. Liber-dren's inclinations till he makes himself a begty is the idol of the English, under whose banner gar. all the nation lists: give but the word for liberty, Fred. But this is of another nature, my lord. and straight more armed legions would appear Lop. Look ye, sir, I resolve she shall marry than France and Philip keep in constant pay. Don Guzman the moment he arrives. Though

Lop. I like their principles: who does not I could not govern my son, I will my daughter, I wish for freedom in all degrees of life? though assure you.

Fred. This match, my lord, is more preposter- | am, sir, your most obsequious humble servant, ous than that which you proposed to your son, Be pleased to lead the way. from whence arose this fatal quarrel.-Don An Gib. 'Sbleed! gang your gate, sir, and I sall tonio's sister, Elvira, wanted beauty only, but follow ye. Ise tee hungry to feed on compliGuzman every thing but

ments.

[Erit. Lop. Money—and that will purchase every Fred. Ha! ha! a comical fellow.-Well, how thing; and so adieu.

[Erit. do

you like our country, colonel? Fred. Monstrous ! these are the resolutions Col. Why, faith, Frederick, a man might pass which destroy the comforts of matrimony:—He his time agreeably enough within-side of a nunis rich and well-born; powerful arguments in- nery; but to behold such troops of soft, plump, deed! Could I but add them to the friendship of tender, melting, wishing, nay, willing girls too, Don Felix, what might I not hope? But a mer- thro' a damn'd grate, gives us Britons strong chant and a grandee of Spain are inconsistent temptations to plunder. Ah, Frederick ! your names.-Lissardo! from whence come you? priests are wicked rogues; they immure beauty Enter LISSARDO in a riding-habit.

for their own proper use, and shew it only to the

laity to create desires and inflame account, that Liss. That letter will inform you, sir.

they may purchase pardons at a dearer rate. Fred. I hope your master's safe.

Fred. I own wenching is something more diffiLiss. I left him so.--I have another to deliver cult here than in England, where women's liberwhich requires haste.--Your most humble ser ties are subservient to their inclinations, and husvant, sir.

(Bowing. bands seem of no effect but to take care of the Fred. To Violante, I suppose.

children which their wives provide. Liss. The same.

[Erit. Col. And does restraint get the better of incliFred. (Reads.] 'Dear Frederick! the two chief nation with your women here? No, I'll be sworn, blessings of this life are a friend and a mistress; not even in four-score. Don't I know the conto be debarred the sight of those, is not to live. Istitution of the Spanish ladies? hear nothing of Antonio's death, and therefore Fred. And of all the ladies where you come, coresolve to venture to thy house this evening, im- lonel : you were ever a man of gallantry. patient to see Violante, and embrace my friend. Col. Ah, Frederick! the kirk half starves us. -Yours,

Felix.' | Scotsmen. We are kept so sharp at home, that Pray heaven he comes undiscovered. --Ha! Co we feed like cannibals abroad. Hark ye:-hast lonel Briton!

thou never a pretty acquaintance now that thou

wouldst consign over to a friend for half an hour, Enter Colonel Briton in a riding-habit. ha? Col. Frederick, I rejoice to see thee.

Fred. Faith, colonel, I am the worst pimp in Fred. What brought you to Lisbon, colonel? Christendom; you had better trust to your own

Col. La fortune de la guerre, as the French luck; the women will soon find you out, I warsay.

I have commanded these three last years in rant you. Spain, but my country has thought fit to strike up Col. Ay, but it is dangerous foraging in an enea peace, and give us good protestants leave to my’s country; and since I have some hopes of hope for Christian burial; so I resolved to take seeing my own again, I had rather purchase my Lisbon in my way home.

pleasure than run the hazard of a stiletto in my Fred. If you are not provided of a lodging, co- guts. 'Egad, I think I m e'en marry, and salonel, pray command my house while you stay. crifice my body for the good of my soul. Wilt

Col. If I were sure I should not be trouble thou recommend me to a wife then, one that is some, I would accept your offer, Frederick. willing to exchange her moidores for English li

Fred. So far from trouble, colonel, I shall take berty ? ha, friend? it as a particular favour. What have we here? Fred. She must be very handsome, I suppose. Col. My footman: this is our country dress, Col. The handsomer the better

-but be sure you must know, which for the honour of Scotland she has a nose. I make all my servants wear.

Fred. Ay, ay, and some gold.

Col. Oh, very much gold; I shall never be Enter GIBBY in a Highland dress. able to swallow the matrimonial pill if it be not Gib. What mun I de with the horses, and like well gilded. yer honour? They will tack cald gin they stand Fred. Puh! beauty will make it slide down in the causeway,

nimbly. Fred. Oh, l'll take care of them. What, hoa! Col. At first perhaps it may; but the second Vasquez!

or third dose will choke me. I confess, Frede

rick, women are the prettiest play-things in naEnter VASQUEZ.

ture: but gold, substantial gold ! gives 'em the Put those horses which that honest fellow will air, the mien, the shape, the grace, and beauty of shew you into my stable, do you hear, and feed a goddess. them well.

Fred. And has not gold the same divinity in Vas. Yes, sir. -Sir, by my master's orders, I their eyes, colonel?

Col. Too often-Money is the very god of | tendom should make me marry any man against marriage; the poets dress him in a saffron robe, my will. bi which they figure out the golden deity, and Isub. I am too great a coward to follow your his lighted torch blazons those mighty charms advice. I must contrive some way to avoid Don which encourage us to list under his banner. Guzman, and yet stay in my own country.

None marry now for love, no, that's a jest:
The self-same bargain serves for wife and beast.

Enter Don LOPEZ. Fred. You are always gay, colonel. Come, Lop. Must you so, mistress? but I shall take sh) we take a refreshing glass at my house, and care to prevent you. {Asidt.]-Isabella, whither co sider what has been said?

are you going, my child ? Col. I have two or three compliments to dis Isab. Ha! my father !—To church, sir. charge for some friends, and then I shall wait on Inis. The old rogue has certainly overhcard yoli with pleasure. Where do

you live?
her.

(Aside. Fred. At yon corner house with the green Lop. Your devotion must needs be very strong, rails.

or your memory very weak, my dear. Why, vesCol. In the close of the evening I will endeavour pers are over for this night. Come, come, you to kiss your hand. Adieu.

(Erit. shall have a better errand to church than to say Fred. I shall expect you with impatience. your prayers there. Don Guzman is arrived in

(Erit. the river, and I expect him a-shore to-morrow.

Isub. Ha! to-morrow ! SCENE II.-A Room in Don LOPEZ's House. Lop. He writes me word that his estate in Hol

land is worth twelve thousand crowns a-year; Enter ISABELLA, and INIS, her Maid.

which, together with what he had before, will Inis. For goodness sake, madam, where are you make thee the happiest wife in Lisbon. going in this pet ?

Isali. And the most unhappy woman in the Isub. Any where to avoid matrimony. The world.—Oh, sir, if I have any power in your thoughts of a husband is as terrible to me as the heart, if the tenderness of a tather be not quite

extinct, hear me with patience. chose for yourself, I fancy matrimony would be

will hear whatsoever thou hast to sav. no such frightful thing to you.

Isub. That's torturing me on the rack, and for. Isub. You are pretty much in the right, Inis : bidding me to groan. Upon my knees I claim but to be forced into the arms of an idiot, a the privilege of flesh and blood. (Knects sneaking, snivelling, drivelling, avaricious fool ! Lop. I grant it; thou shalt have an armful of who has neither person to please the eye, sense flesh and blood to-morrow. Flesh and blood, to charm the ear, nor generosity to supply those quoth-a ! Heaven forbid I should deny thee flesh defects. Ah, Inis! what pleasant lives women and blood, my girl! lead in England, where duty wears no fetter but Inis. Here's an old dog for you. (Aside. inclination! The custom of our country enslaves Isub. Do not mistake, sir. The fatal stroke us from our very cradles, first to our parents, next which separates soul and body is not more territo our husbands, and when Heaven is so kind to ble to the thoughts of sinners, than the name of rid us of both these, our brothers still usurp au-Guzinan to my ear. thority, and expect a blind obedience from us; so Lop. Puh, puh! you lie, you lie. that maids, wives, or widows, we are little better Isab. My frighted heart beats hard against my than slaves to the tyrant, man. Therefore, to breast, as if it sought a passage to your feet, to avoid their power, I resolve to cast myself into a beg you'd change your purpose. monastery.

Lop: A very pretty speech, this; if it were Inis. That is, you'll cut your own throat to turned into blank verse, it would serve for a traavoid another's doing it for you. Ah, madam! gedy. Why, thou hast more wit than I thought those eyes tell me you have no nun's flesh about thou hadst, child. I fancy this was all extempore; you. A monastery, quoth-a !-where you'll wish I don't believe thou didst ever think one word yourself into the green-sickness in a month. on't before.

Isab. What care I? there will be no man to Inis. Yes, but she has, my lord; for I have plague me.

heard her say the same things a thousand times. Inis. No; nor, what's much worse, to please Lop. How, how—What, do you top your seyou, neither-Odslife, madam, you are the first cond-hand jests nipon your father, hussy, who woman that ever despaired in a Christian country knows better what's good for you than you do -Were I in your place

yourself? Remember 'tis your duty to obey. Isab. Why, what would your wisdom do if you Isab. (Rising.) I never disobeyed before, and I were ?

wish I had not reason now; but nature hath got Inis. I'd embark with the first fair wind with the better of my duty, and makes me loathe the all my jewels, and seek my fortune on t’other harsh commands you lay. side the water: no shore can treat you worse Lop. Ha, ha ! very fine! ha, ha! than your own. There's ne'er a father in Chris Isab. Death itself would be more welcome.

« PreviousContinue »