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Sir Patient Fancy, a hypochondriacal old alderman, has taken a second wife, Lucia, a young and beautiful woman who, although feigning great affection and the strictest conjugal fidelity, intrigues with a gallant, Charles Wittmore, the only obstacle to their having long since married being mutual poverty. However, the jealousy and uxoriousness of the doting husband give the lovers few opportunities…
133 pages, with a reading time of ~4.25 hours (33,431 words), and first published in 1678. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2017.
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Isab. ‘Tis much I owe to Fortune, my dear Lucretia, for being so kind to make us Neighbours, where with Ease we may continually exchange our Souls and Thoughts without the attendance of a Coach, and those other little Formalities that make a Business of a Visit; it looks so like a Journey, I hate it.
Lucr. Attendance is that Curse to Greatness that confines the Soul, and spoils good Humour; we are free whilst thus alone, and can laugh at the abominable Fopperies of this Town.
Isab. And lament the numberless Impertinences wherewith they continually plague all young Women of Quality.
Lucr. Yet these are the precious things our grave Parents still chuse out to make us happy with, and all for a filthy Jointure, the undeniable argument for our Slavery to Fools.
Isab. Custom is unkind to our Sex, not to allow us free Choice; but we above all Creatures must be forced to endure the formal Recommendations of a Parent, and the more insupportable Addresses of an odious Fop; whilst the Obedient Daughter stands–thus–with her Hands pinn’d before her, a set Look, few Words, and a Mein that cries–Come marry me: out upon’t.
Lucr. I perceive then, whatever your Father designs, you are resolv’d to love your own way.
Isab. Thou mayst lay thy Maidenhead upon’t, and be sure of the Misfortune to win.
Lucr. My Brother Lodwick’s like to be a happy Man then.
Isab. Faith, my dear Lodwick or no body in my heart, and I hope thou art as well resolv’d for my Cousin Leander.
Lucr. Here’s my Hand upon’t, I am; yet there’s something sticks upon my stomach, which you must know.
Isab. Spare the Relation, for I have observ’d of late your Mother to have order’d her Eyes with some softness, her Mouth endeavouring to sweeten it self into Smiles and Dimples, as if she meant to recal Fifteen again, and gave it all to Leander, for at him she throws her Darts.
Lucr. Is’t possible thou should’st have perceived it already?
Isab. Long since.
Lucr. And now I begin to love him, ‘twould vex me to see my Mother marry him–well, I shall never call him Father.
Isab. He’ll take care to give himself a better Title.
Lucr. This Devonshire Knight too, who is recommended to my Mother as a fit Husband for me, I shall be so tormented with–My Brother swears he’s the pertest, most unsufferable Fool he ever saw; when he was at my Uncle’s last Summer, he made all his Diversion.
Isab. Prithee let him make ours now, for of all Fops your Country Fop is the most tolerable Animal; those of the Town are the most unmanagable Beasts in Nature.
Lucr. And are the most noisy, keeping Fops.
Isab. Keeping begins to be as ridiculous as Matrimony, and is a greater Imposition upon the Liberty of Man; the Insolence and Expence of their Mistresses has almost tir’d out all but the Old and Doting part of Mankind: The rest begin to know their value, and set a price upon a good Shape, a tolerable Face and Mein:–and some there are who have made excellent Bargains for themselves that way, and will flatter ye and jilt ye an Antiquated Lady as artfully as the most experienc’d Miss of ‘em all.
Lucr. Lord, Lord! what will this World come to?–but this Mother of mine–_Isabella_. [Sighs.
Isab. Is discreet and virtuous enough, a little too affected, as being the most learned of her Sex.
Lucr. Methinks to be read in the Arts, as they call ‘em, is the peculiar Province of the other Sex.
Isab. Indeed the Men would have us think so, and boast their Learning and Languages; but if they can find any of our Sex fuller of Words, and to so little purpose as some of their Gownmen, I’ll be content to change my Petticoats for Pantaloons, and go to a Grammar-school.
Lucr. Oh, they’re the greatest Babelards in Nature.
Isab. They call us easy and fond, and charge us with all weakness; but look into their Actions of Love, State or War, their roughest business, and you shall find ‘em sway’d by some who have the luck to find their Foibles; witness my Father, a Man reasonable enough, till drawn away by doting Love and Religion: what a Monster my young Mother makes of him! flatter’d him first into Matrimony, and now into what sort of Fool or Beast she pleases to make him.
Lucr. I wonder she does not turn him to Christianity; methinks a Conventicle should ill agree with her Humour.
Isab. Oh, she finds it the only way to secure her from his Suspicion, which if she do not e’er long give him cause for, I am mistaken in her Humour.–