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This is above all, an indictment of arranged marriages. Young Leticia Bredwell has been purchased as a bride for the revoltingly foppish old Sir Feeble Fainwood. Feeble’s friend, Sir Cautious Fulbank, also bought himself a bride, Julia, who-like Leticia, is in love with another younger, poorer man. The women and their lovers determine to end this tradition of marital servitude before Leticia must consummate her marriage and Feeble’s daughter, Diana, becomes the next victim.
118 pages, with a reading time of ~3.75 hours (29,601 words), and first published in 1686. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Bel. Sure ‘tis the day that gleams in yonder East, The day that all but Lovers blest by Shade Pay chearful Homage to: Lovers! and those pursu’d like guilty me By rigid Laws, which put no difference ‘Twixt fairly killing in my own Defence, And Murders bred by drunken Arguments, Whores, or the mean Revenges of a Coward. –This is Leticia’s Father’s House– [Looking about. And that the dear Balcony That has so oft been conscious of our Loves; From whence she has sent me down a thousand Sighs, A thousand looks of Love, a thousand Vows. O thou dear witness of those charming Hours, How do I bless thee, how am I pleas’d to view thee After a tedious Age of Six Months Banishment.
_Enter Mr_. Gingle _and several with Musick_.
Fid. But hark ye, Mr. Gingle, is it proper to play before the Wedding?
Gin. Ever while you live, for many a time in playing after the first night, the Bride’s sleepy, the Bridegroom tir’d, and both so out of humour, that perhaps they hate any thing that puts ‘em in mind they are married.
[_They play and sing_. _Enter_ Phillis _in the Balcony, throws 'em Money_.
Rise, Cloris, _charming Maid, arise! And baffle breaking Day, Shew the adoring World thy Eyes Are more surprizing gay;
The Gods of Love are smiling round, And lead the Bridegroom on, And_ Hymen _has the Altar crown’d. While all thy sighing Lovers are undone.
To see thee pass they throng the Plain; The Groves with Flowers are strown, And every young and envying Swain Wishes the hour his own. Rise then, and let the God of Day, When thou dost to the Lover yield, Behold more Treasure given away Than he in his vast Circle e’er beheld_.
Bel. Hah, Phillis, Leticia’s Woman!
Ging. Fie, Mrs. Phillis, do you take us for Fiddlers that play for Hire? I came to compliment Mrs. Leticia on her Wedding-Morning because she is my Scholar.
Phil. She sends it only to drink her Health.
Ging. Come, Lads, let’s to the Tavern then– [Ex. Musick.
Bel. Hah! said he Leticia? Sure, I shall turn to Marble at this News: I harden, and cold Damps pass through my senseless Pores.–Hah, who’s here?
_Enter_ Gayman _wrapt in his Cloke_.
Gay. ‘Tis yet too early, but my Soul’s impatient, And I must see Leticia. [Goes to the door.
Bel. Death and the Devil–the Bridegroom! Stay, Sir, by Heaven, you pass not this way. [Goes to the door as he is knocking, pushes him away, and draws.
Gay. Hah! what art thou that durst forbid me Entrance?–Stand off.
[_They fight a little, and closing view each other_.
Gay. My dearest Bellmour!
Bel. Oh thou false Friend, thou treacherous base Deceiver!
Gay. Hah, this to me, dear Harry?
Bel. Whither is Honour, Truth and Friendship fled?
Gay. Why, there ne’er was such a Virtue, ‘Tis all a Poet’s Dream.
Bel. I thank you, Sir.
Gay. I’m sorry for’t, or that ever I did any thing that could deserve it: put up your Sword–an honest man wou’d say how he’s offended, before he rashly draws.
Bel. Are not you going to be married, Sir?
Gay. No, Sir, as long as any Man in London is so, that has but a handsom Wife, Sir.
Bel. Are you not in love, Sir?
Gay. Most damnably,–and wou’d fain lie with the dear jilting Gipsy.
Bel. Hah, who would you lie with, Sir?
Gay. You catechise me roundly–‘tis not fair to name, but I am no Starter, Harry; just as you left me, you find me. I am for the faithless Julia still, the old Alderman’s Wife.–‘Twas high time the City should lose their Charter, when their Wives turn honest: But pray, Sir, answer me a Question or two.
Bel. Answer me first, what makes you here this Morning?
Gay. Faith, to do you service. Your damn’d little Jade of a Mistress has learned of her Neighbours the Art of Swearing and Lying in abundance, and is–
Bel. To be married! [Sighing.
Gay. Even so, God save the Mark; and she’ll be a fair one for many an Arrow besides her Husband’s, though he an old Finsbury Hero this threescore Years.
Bel. Who mean you?
Gay. Why, thy Cuckold that shall be, if thou be’st wise.
Bel. Away; Who is this Man? thou dalliest with me.
Gay. Why, an old Knight, and Alderman here o’th’ City, Sir Feeble Fainwou’d, a jolly old Fellow, whose Activity is all got into his Tongue, a very excellent Teazer; but neither Youth nor Beauty can grind his Dudgeon to an Edge.
Bel. Fie, what Stuff’s here!
Gay. Very excellent Stuff, if you have but the Grace to improve it.
Bel. You banter me–but in plain English, tell me, What made you here thus early, Entring yon House with such Authority?