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Edited with an introduction and notes by Cecil Price.
Scene I.—A Street
Enter THOMAS; he crosses the Stage; FAG follows, looking after him.
FAG. What! Thomas! sure 'tis he?—What! Thomas! Thomas!
THOMAS. Hey!—Odd's life! Mr. Fag!—give us your hand, my old fellow-servant.
FAG. Excuse my glove, Thomas:—I'm devilish glad to see you, my lad. Why, my prince of charioteers, you look as hearty!—but who the deuce thought of seeing you in Bath?
THOMAS. Sure, master, Madam Julia, Harry, Mrs. Kate, and the postillion, be all come.
THOMAS. Ay, master thought another fit of the gout was coming to make him a visit;—so he'd a mind to gi't the slip, and whip! we were all off at an hour's warning.
FAG. Ay, ay, hasty in every thing, or it would not be Sir Anthony Absolute!
THOMAS. But tell us, Mr. Fag, how does young master? Odd! Sir Anthony will stare to see the Captain here!
FAG. I do not serve Captain Absolute now.
THOMAS. Why sure!
FAG. At present I am employed by Ensign Beverley.
THOMAS. I doubt, Mr. Fag, you ha'n't changed for the better.
FAG. I have not changed, Thomas.
THOMAS. No! Why didn't you say you had left young master?
FAG. No.—Well, honest Thomas, I must puzzle you no farther:—briefly then—Captain Absolute and Ensign Beverley are one and the same person.
THOMAS. The devil they are!
FAG. So it is indeed, Thomas; and the ensign half of my master being on guard at present—the captain has nothing to do with me.
THOMAS. So, so!—What, this is some freak, I warrant!—Do tell us, Mr. Fag, the meaning o't—you know I ha' trusted you.
FAG. You'll be secret, Thomas?
THOMAS. As a coach-horse.
FAG. Why then the cause of all this is—Love,—Love, Thomas, who (as you may get read to you) has been a masquerader ever since the days of Jupiter.
THOMAS. Ay, ay;—I guessed there was a lady in the case:—but pray, why does your master pass only for ensign?—Now if he had shammed general indeed—
FAG. Ah! Thomas, there lies the mystery o' the matter. Hark'ee, Thomas, my master is in love with a lady of a very singular taste: a lady who likes him better as a half-pay ensign than if she knew he was son and heir to Sir Anthony Absolute, a baronet of three thousand a year.
THOMAS. That is an odd taste indeed!—But has she got the stuff, Mr. Fag? Is she rich, hey?
FAC. Rich!—Why, I believe she owns half the stocks! Zounds! Thomas, she could pay the national debt as easily as I could my washerwoman! She has a lapdog that eats out of gold,—she feeds her parrot with small pearls,—and all her thread-papers are made of banknotes!
THOMAS. Bravo, faith!—Odd! I warrant she has a set of thousands at least:—but does she draw kindly with the captain?
FAG. As fond as pigeons.
THOMAS. May one hear her name?
FAG. Miss Lydia Languish.—But there is an old tough aunt in the way; though, by the by, she has never seen my master—for we got acquainted with Miss while on a visit in Gloucestershire.
THOMAS. Well—I wish they were once harnessed together in matrimony. —But pray, Mr. Fag, what kind of a place is this Bath?—I ha' heard a deal of it—there's a mort o' merrymaking, hey?
FAG. Pretty well, Thomas, pretty well—'tis a good lounge; in the morning we go to the pump-room (though neither my master nor I drink the waters); after breakfast we saunter on the parades, or play a game at billiards; at night we dance; but damn the place, I'm tired of it: their regular hours stupify me—not a fiddle nor a card after eleven!—However, Mr. Faulkland's gentleman and I keep it up a little in private parties;—I'll introduce you there, Thomas—you'll like him much.
THOMAS. Sure I know Mr. Du-Peigne—you know his master is to marry Madam Julia.
FAG. I had forgot.—But, Thomas, you must polish a little—indeed you must.—Here now— this wig!—What the devil do you do with a wig, Thomas?—None of the London whips of any degree of ton wear wigs now.
THOMAS. More's the pity! more's the pity! I say.—Odd's life! when I heard how the lawyers and doctors had took to their own hair, I thought how 'twould go next:—odd rabbit it! when the fashion had got foot on the bar, I guessed 'twould mount to the box!—but 'tis all out of character, believe me, Mr. Fag: and look'ee, I'll never gi' up mine—the lawyers and doctors may do as they will.
FAG. Well, Thomas, we'll not quarrel about that.
THOMAS. Why, bless you, the gentlemen of the professions ben't all of a mind—for in our village now, tho'ff Jack Gauge, the exciseman, has ta'en to his carrots, there's little Dick the farrier swears he'll never forsake his bob, though all the college should appear with their own heads!
FAG. Indeed! well said, Dick!—But hold—mark! mark! Thomas.
THOMAS. Zooks! 'tis the captain.—Is that the lady with him?
FAG. No, no, that is Madam Lucy, my master's mistress's maid. They lodge at that house—but I must after him to tell him the news.
THOMAS. Odd! he's giving her money!—Well, Mr. Fag—
FAG. Good-bye, Thomas. I have an appointment in Gyde's Porch this evening at eight; meet me there, and we'll make a little party.
Scene II.—A Dressing-Room in MRS. MALAPROP's Lodgings
LYDIA sitting on a sofa, with a book in her hand. LUCY, as just returned from a message.
LUCY. Indeed, ma'am, I traversed half the town in search of it: I don't believe there's a circulating library in Bath I ha'n't been at.
LYDIA. And could not you get The Reward of Constancy?
LUCY. No, indeed, ma'am.
LYDIA. Nor The Fatal Connexion?
LUCY. No, indeed, ma'am.
LYDIA. Nor The Mistakes of the Heart?
LUCY. Ma'am, as ill luck would have it, Mr. Bull said Miss Sukey Saunter had just fetched it away.
LYDIA. Heigh-ho!—Did you inquire for The Delicate Distress?
LUCY. Or, The Memoirs of Lady Woodford? Yes, indeed, ma'am. I asked every where for it; and I might have brought it from Mr. Frederick's, but Lady Slattern Lounger, who had just sent it home, had so soiled and dog's-eared it, it wa'n't fit for a Christian to read.
LYDIA. Heigh-ho!—Yes, I always know when Lady Slattern has been before me. She has a most observing thumb; and, I believe, cherishes her nails for the convenience of making marginal notes.—Well, child, what have you brought me?
LUCY. Oh! here, ma'am.—[Taking books from under her cloak, and from her pockets.] This is The Gordian Knot,—and this Peregrine Pickle. Here are The Tears of Sensibility, and Humphrey Clinker. This is The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality, written by herself, and here the second volume of The Sentimental Journey.
LYDIA. Heigh-ho!—What are those books by the glass?
LUCY. The great one is only The Whole Duty of Man, where I press a few blondes, ma'am.
LYDIA. Very well—give me the sal volatile.
LUCY. Is it in a blue cover, ma'am?
LYDIA. My smelling-bottle, you simpleton!
LUCY. Oh, the drops!—here, ma'am.
LYDIA. Hold!—here's some one coming—quick, see who it is.—[Exit LUCY.] Surely I heard my cousin Julia's voice.
LUCY. Lud! ma'am, here is Miss Melville.
LYDIA. Is it possible!—
LYDIA. My dearest Julia, how delighted am I!—[Embrace.] How unexpected was this happiness!
JULIA. True, Lydia—and our pleasure is the greater.—But what has been the matter?— you were denied to me at first!
LYDIA. Ah, Julia, I have a thousand things to tell you!—But first inform me what has conjured you to Bath?—Is Sir Anthony here?
JULIA. He is—we are arrived within this hour—and I suppose he will be here to wait on Mrs. Malaprop as soon as he is dressed.
LYDIA. Then before we are interrupted, let me impart to you some of my distress!—I know your gentle nature will sympathize with me, though your prudence may condemn me! My letters have informed you of my whole connection with Beverley; but I have lost him, Julia! My aunt has discovered our intercourse by a note she intercepted, and has confined me ever since! Yet, would you believe it? she has absolutely fallen in love with a tall Irish baronet she met one night since we have been here, at Lady Macshuffle's rout.
JULIA. You jest, Lydia!
LYDIA. No, upon my word.—She really carries on a kind of correspondence with him, under a feigned name though, till she chooses to be known to him;—but it is a Delia or a Celia, I assure you.
JULIA. Then, surely, she is now more indulgent to her niece.
LYDIA. Quite the contrary. Since she has discovered her own frailty, she is become more suspicious of mine. Then I must inform you of another plague!—That odious Acres is to be in Bath to-day; so that I protest I shall be teased out of all spirits!
JULIA. Come, come, Lydia, hope for the best—Sir Anthony shall use his interest with Mrs. Malaprop.
LYDIA. But you have not heard the worst. Unfortunately I had quarrelled with my poor Beverley, just before my aunt made the discovery, and I have not seen him since, to make it up.
JULIA. What was his offence?
LYDIA. Nothing at all!—But, I don't know how it was, as often as we had been together, we had never had a quarrel, and, somehow, I was afraid he would never give me an opportunity. So, last Thursday, I wrote a letter to myself, to inform myself that Beverley was at that time paying his addresses to another woman. I signed it your friend unknown, showed it to Beverley, charged him with his falsehood, put myself in a violent passion, and vowed I'd never see him more.
JULIA. And you let him depart so, and have not seen him since?
LYDIA. 'Twas the next day my aunt found the matter out. I intended only to have teased him three days and a half, and now I've lost him for ever.
JULIA. If he is as deserving and sincere as you have represented him to me, he will never give you up so. Yet consider, Lydia, you tell me he is but an ensign, and you have thirty thousand pounds.
LYDIA. But you know I lose most of my fortune if I marry without my aunt's consent, till of age; and that is what I have determined to do, ever since I knew the penalty. Nor could I love the man, who would wish to wait a day for the alternative.
JULIA. Nay, this is caprice!
LYDIA. What, does Julia tax me with caprice?—I thought her lover Faulkland had inured her to it.
JULIA. I do not love even his faults.
LYDIA. But apropos—you have sent to him, I suppose?
JULIA. Not yet, upon my word—nor has he the least idea of my being in Bath. Sir Anthony's resolution was so sudden, I could not inform him of it.
LYDIA. Well, Julia, you are your own mistress (though under the protection of Sir Anthony), yet have you, for this long year, been a slave to the caprice, the whim, the jealousy of this ungrateful Faulkland, who will ever delay assuming the right of a husband, while you suffer him to be equally imperious as a lover.
JULIA. Nay, you are wrong entirely. We were contracted before my father's death. That, and some consequent embarrassments, have delayed what I know to be my Faulkland's most ardent wish. He is too generous to trifle on such a point:—and for his character, you wrong him there too. No, Lydia, he is too proud, too noble to be jealous; if he is captious, 'tis without dissembling; if fretful, without rudeness. Unused to the fopperies of love, he is negligent of the little duties expected from a lover—but being unhackneyed in the passion, his affection is ardent and sincere; and as it engrosses his whole soul, he expects every thought and emotion of his mistress to move in unison with his. Yet, though his pride calls for this full return, his humility makes him undervalue those qualities in him which would entitle him to it; and not feeling why he should be loved to the degree he wishes, he still suspects that he is not loved enough. This temper, I must own, has cost me many unhappy hours; but, I have learned to think myself his debtor, for those imperfections which arise from the ardour of his attachment.
LYDIA. Well, I cannot blame you for defending him. But tell me candidly, Julia, had he never saved your life, do you think you should have been attached to him as you are?— Believe me, the rude blast that overset your boat was a prosperous gale of love to him.
JULIA. Gratitude may have strengthened my attachment to Mr. Faulkland, but I loved him before he had preserved me; yet surely that alone were an obligation sufficient.
LYDIA. Obligation! why a water-spaniel would have done as much!—Well, I should never think of giving my heart to a man because he could swim.
JULIA. Come, Lydia, you are too inconsiderate.
LYDIA. Nay, I do but jest.—What's here?
Re-enter LUCY in a hurry.
LUCY. O ma'am, here is Sir Anthony Absolute just come home with your aunt.
LYDIA. They'll not come here.—Lucy, do you watch. [Exit LUCY.
JULIA. Yet I must go. Sir Anthony does not know I am here, and if we meet, he'll detain me, to show me the town. I'll take another opportunity of paying my respects to Mrs. Malaprop, when she shall treat me, as long as she chooses, with her select words so ingeniously misapplied, without being mispronounced.
LUCY. O Lud! ma'am, they are both coming up stairs.
LYDIA. Well, I'll not detain you, coz.—Adieu, my dear Julia, I'm sure you are in haste to send to Faulkland.—There—through my room you'll find another staircase.
[Embraces LYDIA, and exit.
LYDIA. Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books. Quick, quick.—Fling Peregrine Pickle under the toilet—throw Roderick Random into the closet—put The Innocent Adultery into The Whole Duty of Man- thrust Lord Aimworth under the sofa—cram Ovid behind the bolster—there—put The Man of Feeling into your pocket—so, so—now lay Mrs. Chapone in sight, and leave Fordyce's Sermons open on the table.
LUCY. O burn it, ma'am! the hair-dresser has torn away as far as Proper Pride.
LYDIA. Never mind-open at Sobriety.—Fling me Lord Chesterfield's Letters.—Now for 'em.
Enter MRS. MALAPROP, and SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE.
MRS. MALAPROP. There, Sir Anthony, there sits the deliberate simpleton who wants to disgrace her family, and lavish herself on a fellow not worth a shilling.
LYDIA. Madam, I thought you once—
MRS. MALAPROP. You thought, Miss! I don't know any business you have to think at all—thought does not become a young woman. But the point we would request of you is, that you will promise to forget this fellow—to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.
LYDIA,. Ah, madam! our memories are independent of our wills. It is not so easy to forget.
MRS. MALAPROP. But I say it is, Miss; there is nothing on earth so easy as to forget, if a person chooses to set about it. I'm sure I have as much forgot your poor dear uncle as if he had never existed—and I thought it my duty so to do; and let me tell you, Lydia, these violent memories don't become a young woman.
SIR ANTHONY. Why, sure she won't pretend to remember what she's ordered not!—ay, this comes of her reading!
LYDIA. What crime, madam, have I committed, to be treated thus?
MRS. MALAPROP. Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the matter; you know I have proof controvertible of it.—But tell me, will you promise to do as you're bid? Will you take a husband of your friends' choosing?
LYDIA. Madam, I must tell you plainly, that had I no preference for any one else, the choice you have made would be my aversion.
MRS. MALAPROP. What business have you, Miss, with preference and aversion? They don't become a young woman; and you ought to know, that as both always wear off, 'tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion. I am sure I hated your poor dear uncle before marriage as if he'd been a blackamoor—and yet, Miss, you are sensible what a wife I made!—and when it pleased Heaven to release me from him, 'tis unknown what tears I shed!—But suppose we were going to give you another choice, will you promise us to give up this Beverley?
LYDIA. Could I belie my thoughts so far as to give that promise, my actions would certainly as far belie my words.
MRS. MALAPROP. Take yourself to your room.—You are fit company for nothing but your own ill-humours.
LYDIA. Willingly, ma'am—I cannot change for the worse.
MRS. MALAPROP. There's a little intricate hussy for you!
SIR ANTHONY. It is not to be wondered at, ma'am,—all this is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read. Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet!
MRS. MALAPROP. Nay, nay, Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy.
SIR ANTHONY. In my way hither, Mrs. Malaprop, I observed your niece's maid coming forth from a circulating library!—She had a book in each hand—they were half-bound volumes, with marble covers!—From that moment I guessed how full of duty I should see her mistress!
Excerpted from The Rivals by RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, KATHY CASEY. Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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