Act IV - Act IV, Scene XVI

[To them] TATTLE and ANGELICA.

JERE. I'll take care, and -

VAL. Whisper.

ANG. Nay, Mr Tattle, if you make love to me, you spoil my design, for I intend to make you my confidant.

TATT. But, madam, to throw away your person--such a person!--and such a fortune on a madman!

ANG. I never loved him till he was mad; but don't tell anybody so.

SCAN. How's this! Tattle making love to Angelica!

TATT. Tell, madam? Alas, you don't know me. I have much ado to tell your ladyship how long I have been in love with you--but encouraged by the impossibility of Valentine's making any more addresses to you, I have ventured to declare the very inmost passion of my heart. O madam, look upon us both. There you see the ruins of a poor decayed creature--here, a complete and lively figure, with youth and health, and all his five senses in perfection, madam, and to all this, the most passionate lover -

ANG. O fie, for shame, hold your tongue. A passionate lover, and five senses in perfection! When you are as mad as Valentine, I'll believe you love me, and the maddest shall take me.

VAL. It is enough. Ha! Who's here?

FRAIL. O Lord, her coming will spoil all. [To JEREMY.]

JERE. No, no, madam, he won't know her; if he should, I can persuade him.

VAL. Scandal, who are these? Foreigners? If they are, I'll tell you what I think,--get away all the company but Angelica, that I may discover my design to her. [Whisper.]

SCAN. I will--I have discovered something of Tattle that is of a piece with Mrs Frail. He courts Angelica; if we could contrive to couple 'em together.--Hark'ee--[Whisper.]

MRS FORE. He won't know you, cousin; he knows nobody.

FORE. But he knows more than anybody. O niece, he knows things past and to come, and all the profound secrets of time.

TATT. Look you, Mr Foresight, it is not my way to make many words of matters, and so I shan't say much,--but in short, d'ye see, I will hold you a hundred pounds now, that I know more secrets than he.

FORE. How! I cannot read that knowledge in your face, Mr Tattle. Pray, what do you know?

TATT. Why, d'ye think I'll tell you, sir? Read it in my face? No, sir, 'tis written in my heart; and safer there, sir, than letters writ in juice of lemon, for no fire can fetch it out. I am no blab, sir.

VAL. Acquaint Jeremy with it, he may easily bring it about. They are welcome, and I'll tell 'em so myself. [To SCANDAL.] What, do you look strange upon me? Then I must be plain. [Coming up to them.] I am Truth, and hate an old acquaintance with a new face. [SCANDAL goes aside with JEREMY.]

TATT. Do you know me, Valentine?

VAL. You? Who are you? No, I hope not.

TATT. I am Jack Tattle, your friend.

VAL. My friend, what to do? I am no married man, and thou canst not lie with my wife. I am very poor, and thou canst not borrow money of me. Then what employment have I for a friend?

TATT. Ha! a good open speaker, and not to be trusted with a secret.

ANG. Do you know me, Valentine?

VAL. Oh, very well.

ANG. Who am I?

VAL. You're a woman. One to whom heav'n gave beauty, when it grafted roses on a briar. You are the reflection of heav'n in a pond, and he that leaps at you is sunk. You are all white, a sheet of lovely, spotless paper, when you first are born; but you are to be scrawled and blotted by every goose's quill. I know you; for I loved a woman, and loved her so long, that I found out a strange thing: I found out what a woman was good for.

TATT. Ay, prithee, what's that?

VAL. Why, to keep a secret.

TATT. O Lord!

VAL. Oh, exceeding good to keep a secret; for though she should tell, yet she is not to be believed.

TATT. Hah! good again, faith.

VAL. I would have music. Sing me the song that I like.


No more, for I am melancholy. [Walks musing.]

JERE. I'll do't, sir. [To SCANDAL.]

SCAN. Mr Foresight, we had best leave him. He may grow outrageous, and do mischief.

FORE. I will be directed by you.

JERE. [To MRS FRAIL.] You'll meet, madam? I'll take care everything shall be ready.

MRS FRAIL. Thou shalt do what thou wilt; in short, I will deny thee nothing.

TATT. Madam, shall I wait upon you? [To ANGELICA.]

ANG. No, I'll stay with him; Mr Scandal will protect me. Aunt, Mr Tattle desires you would give him leave to wait on you.

TATT. Pox on't, there's no coming off, now she has said that. Madam, will you do me the honour?

MRS FORE. Mr Tattle might have used less ceremony.


I tell thee, Charmion, could I time retrieve,
And could again begin to love and live,
To you I should my earliest off'ring give;
I know my eyes would lead my heart to you,
And I should all my vows and oaths renew,
But to be plain, I never would be true.


For by our weak and weary truth, I find,
Love hates to centre in a point assign'd?
But runs with joy the circle of the mind.
Then never let us chain what should be free,
But for relief of either sex agree,
Since women love to change, and so do we.