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Materially founded upon George Wilkins’ popular play, The Miseries of Enforced Marriage. Sir Timothy himself is moulded to some extent upon Sir Francis Ilford, but, as Geneste aptly remarks, he may be considered a new character. In the older drama, Clare, the original of Celinda, dies tragically of a broken heart. It cannot be denied that Behn has greatly improved Wilkins’ scenes. The well-drawn character of Betty Flauntit is her own, and the realistically vivacious bagnio episodes of Act iv replace a not very interesting or lively tavern with a considerable accession to wit and humour, although perhaps not to strict propriety.
103 pages, with a reading time of ~3.25 hours (25,778 words), and first published in 1676. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Enter Sir Timothy Tawdrey, Sham, and Sharp.
Sir Tim. Hereabouts is the House wherein dwells the Mistress of my Heart; for she has Money, Boys, mind me, Money in abundance, or she were not for me–The Wench her self is good-natur’d, and inclin’d to be civil: but a Pox on’t–she has a Brother, a conceited Fellow, whom the World mistakes for a fine Gentleman; for he has travell’d, talks Languages, bows with a bonne mine, and the rest; but, by Fortune, he shall entertain you with nothing but Words–
Sham. Nothing else!–
Sir Tim. No–He’s no Country-Squire, Gentlemen, will not game, whore; nay, in my Conscience, you will hardly get your selves drunk in his Company–He treats A-la-mode, half Wine, half Water, and the rest–But to the Business, this Fellow loves his Sister dearly, and will not trust her in this leud Town, as he calls it, without him; and hither he has brought her to marry me.
Sham. A Pox upon him for his Pains–
Sir Tim. So say I–But my Comfort is, I shall be as weary of her, as the best Husband of ‘em all. But there’s Conveniency in it; besides, the Match being as good as made up by the old Folks in the Country, I must submit–The Wench I never saw yet, but they say she’s handsom–But no matter for that, there’s Money, my Boys.
Sharp. Well, Sir, we will follow you–but as dolefully as People do their Friends to the Grave, from whence they’re never to return, at least not the same Substance; the thin airy Vision of a brave good Fellow, we may see thee hereafter, but that’s the most.
Sir Tim. Your Pardon, sweet Sharp, my whole Design in it is to be Master of my self, and with part of her Portion to set up my Miss, Betty Flauntit; which, by the way, is the main end of my marrying; the rest you’ll have your shares of–Now I am forc’d to take you up Suits at treble Prizes, have damn’d Wine and Meat put upon us, ‘cause the Reckoning is to be book’d: But ready Money, ye Rogues! What Charms it has! makes the Waiters fly, Boys, and the Master with Cap in Hand–excuse what’s amiss, Gentlemen–Your Worship shall command the best–and the rest–How briskly the Box and Dice dance, and the ready Money submits to the lucky Gamester, and the gay Wench consults with every Beauty to make her self agreeable to the Man with ready Money! In fine, dear Rogues, all things are sacrific’d to its Power; and no Mortal conceives the Joy of Argent Content. ‘Tis this powerful God that makes me submit to the Devil, Matrimony; and then thou art assur’d of me, my stout Lads of brisk Debauch.
Sham. And is it possible you can be ty’d up to a Wife? Whilst here in London, and free, you have the whole World to range in, and like a wanton Heifer, eat of every Pasture.
Sir Tim. Why, dost think I’ll be confin’d to my own dull Enclosure? No, I had rather feed coarsely upon the boundless Common; perhaps two or three days I may be in love, and remain constant, but that’s the most.
Sharp. And in three Weeks, should you wed a Cynthia, you’d be a Monster.
Sir Tim. What, thou meanest a Cuckold, I warrant. God help thee! But a Monster is only so from its Rarity, and a Cuckold is no such strange thing in our Age.
Enter Bellmour and Friendlove.
But who comes here? Bellmour! Ah, my little dear Rogue! how dost thou? –Ned Friendlove too! Dear Lad, how dost thou too? Why, welcome to Town, i’faith, and I’m glad to see you both.
Friend. Sir Timothy Tawdrey!–
Sir Tim. The same, by Fortune, dear Ned: And how, and how, Man, how go Matters?
Friend. Between who, Sir?
Sir Tim. Why, any Body, Man; but, by Fortune, I’m overjoy’d to meet thee: But where dost think I was going?
Friend. Is’t possible one shou’d divine?
Sir Tim. Is’t possible you shou’d not, and meet me so near your Sister’s Lodgings? Faith, I was coming to pay my Respects and Services, and the rest–Thou know’st my meaning–The old Business of the Silver-World, Ned; by Fortune, it’s a mad Age we live in, Ned; and here be so many–wicked Rogues, about this damn’d leud Town, that, ‘faith, I am fain to speak in the vulgar modish Style, in my own Defence, and railly Matrimony and the rest.
Friend. Matrimony!–I hope you are so exactly refin’d a Man of the Town, that you will not offer once to think of so dull a thing: let that alone for such cold Complexions as Bellmour here, and I, that have not attain’d to that most excellent faculty of Keeping yet, as you, Sir Timothy, have done; much to your Glory, I assure you.
Sir Tim. Who, I, Sir? You do me much Honour: I must confess I do not find the softer Sex cruel; I am received as well as another Man of my Parts.
Friend. Of your Money you mean, Sir.