Act I - Act I, Scene XI

[To them] TATTLE.

TATT. Valentine, good morrow; Scandal, I am yours: --that is, when you speak well of me.

SCAN. That is, when I am yours; for while I am my own, or anybody's else, that will never happen.

TATT. How inhuman!

VAL. Why Tattle, you need not be much concerned at anything that he says: for to converse with Scandal, is to play at losing loadum; you must lose a good name to him before you can win it for yourself.

TATT. But how barbarous that is, and how unfortunate for him, that the world shall think the better of any person for his calumniation! I thank heaven, it has always been a part of my character to handle the reputations of others very tenderly indeed.

SCAN. Ay, such rotten reputations as you have to deal with are to be handled tenderly indeed.

TATT. Nay, but why rotten? Why should you say rotten, when you know not the persons of whom you speak? How cruel that is!

SCAN. Not know 'em? Why, thou never had'st to do with anybody that did not stink to all the town.

TATT. Ha, ha, ha; nay, now you make a jest of it indeed. For there is nothing more known than that nobody knows anything of that nature of me. As I hope to be saved, Valentine, I never exposed a woman, since I knew what woman was.

VAL. And yet you have conversed with several.

TATT. To be free with you, I have. I don't care if I own that. Nay more (I'm going to say a bold word now) I never could meddle with a woman that had to do with anybody else.

SCAN. How?

VAL. Nay faith, I'm apt to believe him. Except her husband, Tattle.

TATT. Oh, that -

SCAN. What think you of that noble commoner, Mrs Drab?

TATT. Pooh, I know Madam Drab has made her brags in three or four places, that I said this and that, and writ to her, and did I know not what--but, upon my reputation, she did me wrong--well, well, that was malice--but I know the bottom of it. She was bribed to that by one we all know--a man too. Only to bring me into disgrace with a certain woman of quality -

SCAN. Whom we all know.

TATT. No matter for that. Yes, yes, everybody knows. No doubt on't, everybody knows my secrets. But I soon satisfied the lady of my innocence; for I told her: Madam, says I, there are some persons who make it their business to tell stories, and say this and that of one and t'other, and everything in the world; and, says I, if your grace -

SCAN. Grace!

TATT. O Lord, what have I said? My unlucky tongue!

VAL. Ha, ha, ha.

SCAN. Why, Tattle, thou hast more impudence than one can in reason expect: I shall have an esteem for thee, well, and, ha, ha, ha, well, go on, and what did you say to her grace?

VAL. I confess this is something extraordinary.

TATT. Not a word, as I hope to be saved; an errant lapsus linguae. Come, let's talk of something else.

VAL. Well, but how did you acquit yourself?

TATT. Pooh, pooh, nothing at all; I only rallied with you--a woman of ordinary rank was a little jealous of me, and I told her something or other, faith I know not what.--Come, let's talk of something else. [Hums a song.]

SCAN. Hang him, let him alone, he has a mind we should enquire.

TATT. Valentine, I supped last night with your mistress, and her uncle, old Foresight: I think your father lies at Foresight's.

VAL. Yes.

TATT. Upon my soul, Angelica's a fine woman. And so is Mrs Foresight, and her sister, Mrs Frail.

SCAN. Yes, Mrs Frail is a very fine woman, we all know her.

TATT. Oh, that is not fair.

SCAN. What?

TATT. To tell.

SCAN. To tell what? Why, what do you know of Mrs Frail?

TATT. Who, I? Upon honour I don't know whether she be man or woman, but by the smoothness of her chin and roundness of her hips.



SCAN. She says otherwise.

TATT. Impossible!

SCAN. Yes, faith. Ask Valentine else.

TATT. Why then, as I hope to be saved, I believe a woman only obliges a man to secrecy that she may have the pleasure of telling herself.

SCAN. No doubt on't. Well, but has she done you wrong, or no? You have had her? Ha?

TATT. Though I have more honour than to tell first, I have more manners than to contradict what a lady has declared.

SCAN. Well, you own it?

TATT. I am strangely surprised! Yes, yes, I can't deny't if she taxes me with it.

SCAN. She'll be here by and by, she sees Valentine every morning.

TATT. How?

VAL. She does me the favour, I mean, of a visit sometimes. I did not think she had granted more to anybody.

SCAN. Nor I, faith. But Tattle does not use to bely a lady; it is contrary to his character. How one may be deceived in a woman, Valentine?

TATT. Nay, what do you mean, gentlemen?

SCAN. I'm resolved I'll ask her.

TATT. O barbarous! Why did you not tell me?

SCAN. No; you told us.

TATT. And bid me ask Valentine?

VAL. What did I say? I hope you won't bring me to confess an answer when you never asked me the question?

TATT. But, gentlemen, this is the most inhuman proceeding -

VAL. Nay, if you have known Scandal thus long, and cannot avoid such a palpable decoy as this was, the ladies have a fine time whose reputations are in your keeping.