Act I - Act I, Scene XIV

[To them] MRS FRAIL.

TATT. Oh, unfortunate! She's come already; will you have patience till another time? I'll double the number.

SCAN. Well, on that condition. Take heed you don't fail me.

MRS FRAIL. I shall get a fine reputation by coming to see fellows in a morning. Scandal, you devil, are you here too? Oh, Mr Tattle, everything is safe with you, we know.

SCAN. Tattle -

TATT. Mum. O madam, you do me too much honour.

VAL. Well, Lady Galloper, how does Angelica?

MRS FRAIL. Angelica? Manners!

VAL. What, you will allow an absent lover -

MRS FRAIL. No, I'll allow a lover present with his mistress to be particular; but otherwise, I think his passion ought to give place to his manners.

VAL. But what if he has more passion than manners?

MRS FRAIL. Then let him marry and reform.

VAL. Marriage indeed may qualify the fury of his passion, but it very rarely mends a man's manners.

MRS FRAIL. You are the most mistaken in the world; there is no creature perfectly civil but a husband. For in a little time he grows only rude to his wife, and that is the highest good breeding, for it begets his civility to other people. Well, I'll tell you news; but I suppose you hear your brother Benjamin is landed? And my brother Foresight's daughter is come out of the country: I assure you, there's a match talked of by the old people. Well, if he be but as great a sea-beast as she is a land-monster, we shall have a most amphibious breed. The progeny will be all otters. He has been bred at sea, and she has never been out of the country.

VAL. Pox take 'em, their conjunction bodes me no good, I'm sure.

MRS FRAIL. Now you talk of conjunction, my brother Foresight has cast both their nativities, and prognosticates an admiral and an eminent justice of the peace to be the issue male of their two bodies; 'tis the most superstitious old fool! He would have persuaded me that this was an unlucky day, and would not let me come abroad. But I invented a dream, and sent him to Artimedorus for interpretation, and so stole out to see you. Well, and what will you give me now? Come, I must have something.

VAL. Step into the next room, and I'll give you something.

SCAN. Ay, we'll all give you something.

MRS FRAIL. Well, what will you all give me?

VAL. Mine's a secret.

MRS FRAIL. I thought you would give me something that would be a trouble to you to keep.

VAL. And Scandal shall give you a good name.

MRS FRAIL. That's more than he has for himself. And what will you give me, Mr Tattle?

TATT. I? My soul, madam.

MRS FRAIL. Pooh! No, I thank you, I have enough to do to take care of my own. Well, but I'll come and see you one of these mornings. I hear you have a great many pictures.

TATT. I have a pretty good collection, at your service, some originals.

SCAN. Hang him, he has nothing but the Seasons and the Twelve Caesars--paltry copies--and the Five Senses, as ill-represented as they are in himself, and he himself is the only original you will see there.

MRS FRAIL. Ay, but I hear he has a closet of beauties.

SCAN. Yes; all that have done him favours, if you will believe him.

MRS FRAIL. Ay, let me see those, Mr Tattle.

TATT. Oh, madam, those are sacred to love and contemplation. No man but the painter and myself was ever blest with the sight.

MRS FRAIL. Well, but a woman -

TATT. Nor woman, till she consented to have her picture there too-- for then she's obliged to keep the secret.

SCAN. No, no; come to me if you'd see pictures.


SCAN. Yes, faith; I can shew you your own picture, and most of your acquaintance to the life, and as like as at Kneller's.

MRS FRAIL. O lying creature! Valentine, does not he lie? I can't believe a word he says.

VAL. No indeed, he speaks truth now. For as Tattle has pictures of all that have granted him favours, he has the pictures of all that have refused him: if satires, descriptions, characters, and lampoons are pictures.

SCAN. Yes; mine are most in black and white. And yet there are some set out in their true colours, both men and women. I can shew you pride, folly, affectation, wantonness, inconstancy, covetousness, dissimulation, malice and ignorance, all in one piece. Then I can shew you lying, foppery, vanity, cowardice, bragging, lechery, impotence, and ugliness in another piece; and yet one of these is a celebrated beauty, and t'other a professed beau. I have paintings too, some pleasant enough.

MRS FRAIL. Come, let's hear 'em.

SCAN. Why, I have a beau in a bagnio, cupping for a complexion, and sweating for a shape.


SCAN. Then I have a lady burning brandy in a cellar with a hackney coachman.

MRS FRAIL. O devil! Well, but that story is not true.

SCAN. I have some hieroglyphics too; I have a lawyer with a hundred hands, two heads, and but one face; a divine with two faces, and one head; and I have a soldier with his brains in his belly, and his heart where his head should be.

MRS FRAIL. And no head?

SCAN. No head.

MRS FRAIL. Pooh, this is all invention. Have you never a poet?

SCAN. Yes, I have a poet weighing words, and selling praise for praise, and a critic picking his pocket. I have another large piece too, representing a school, where there are huge proportioned critics, with long wigs, laced coats, Steinkirk cravats, and terrible faces; with cat-calls in their hands, and horn-books about their necks. I have many more of this kind, very well painted, as you shall see.

MRS FRAIL. Well, I'll come, if it be but to disprove you.