The Country Wife, Act I

Indignor quicquam reprehendi, non quia crasse
Compositum illepideve putetur, sed quia nuper
Nec veniam antiquis, sed honorem et praemia posci. Horat.*

*[This is a quotation from the Roman poet Horace: I am impatient that any work is censured, not because it is thought to be coarse or inelegant in style, but because it is modern, and that what is claimed for the ancients should be, not indulgence, but honor and rewards. Translation from the Loeb Classics edition’]

PROLOGUE, spoken by Mr. Hart.

Poets, like cudgelled bullies, never do
At first or second blow submit to you;
But will provoke you still, and ne’er have done,
Till you are weary first, with laying on.
The late so baffled scribbler of this day,
Though he stands trembling, bids me boldly say,
What we, before most plays are used to do,
For poets out of fear, first draw on you;
In a fierce prologue, the still pit defy,
And ere you speak, like Castril, give the lie;
But though our Bayes’s battles oft I’ve fought,
And with bruised knuckles, their dear conquests bought;
Nay, never yet feared odds upon the stage,
In prologue dare not Hector with the age;
But would take quarter from your saving hands,
Though Bayes within all yielding countermands
Says you confederate wits no quarter give,
Therefore his play shan’t ask your leave to live:
Well, let the vain rash fop, by huffing so,
Think to obtain the better terms of you;
But we the actors humbly will submit,
Now, and at any time, to a full pit;
Nay, often we anticipate your rage,
And murder poets for you, on our stage:
We set no guards upon our tiring-room,
But when with flying colours, there you come,
We patiently, you see, give up to you,
Our poets, virgins, nay, our matrons, too.

The Persons.

Mr. Horner, Mr. Hart.
Mr. Harcourt, Mr. Kenaston.
Mr. Dorilant, Mr. Lydal.
Mr. Pinchwife, Mr. Mohun.
Mr. Sparkish, Mr. Haynes.
Sir Jaspar Fidget, Mr. Cartwright.

Mrs. Margery Pinchwife, Mrs. Bowtel.
Mrs. Alithea, Mrs. James.
My Lady Fidget, Mrs. Knep.
Mrs. Dainty Fidget, Mrs. Corbet.
Mrs. Squeamish, Mrs. Wyatt.
Old Lady Squeamish, Mrs. Rutter.

Waiters, Servants, and Attendants.
A Boy.
A Quack, Mr. Schotterel.
Lucy, Alithea’s Maid, Mrs. Cory.

The SCENE London.
Enter Horner, and Quack following him at a distance.

Horner
A quack is as fit for a Pimp, as a Midwife for a Bawd; they are still but in their way, both helpers of Nature.—[Aside.]—Well, my dear Doctor, hast thou done what I desired?

Quack
I have undone you for ever with the Women, and reported you throughout the whole Town as bad as an Eunuch, with as much trouble as if I had made you one in earnest.

Horner
But have you told all the Midwives you know, the Orange Wenches at the Playhouses, the City Husbands, and old Fumbling Keepers of this end of the Town, for they’l be the readiest to report it.

Quack
I have told all the Chamber-maids, Waiting women, Tyre women, and Old women of my acquaintance; nay, and whisper’d it as a secret to ’em, and to the Whisperers of Whitehall; so that you need not doubt ’twill spread, and you will be as odious to the handsome young Women, as—

Horner
As the small Pox.—Well—

Quack
And to the married Women of this end of the Town, as—

Horner
As the great ones; nay, as their own Husbands.

Quack
And to the City Dames as Annis-seed Robin of filthy and contemptible memory; and they will frighten their Children with your name, especially their Females.

Horner
And cry Horner’s coming to carry you away: I am only afraid ’twill not be believ’d; you told ’em ’twas by an English-French disaster, and an English-French Chirurgeon, who has given me at once, not only a Cure, but an Antidote for the future, against that damn’d malady, and that worse distemper, love, and all other Womens’ evils.

Quack
Your late journey into France has made it the more credible, and your being here a fortnight before you appear’d in publick, looks as if you apprehended the shame, which I wonder you do not: Well I have been hired by young Gallants to bely ’em t’other way; but you are the first wou’d be thought a Man unfit for Women.

Horner
Dear Mr. Doctor, let vain Rogues be contented only to be thought abler Men than they are, generally ’tis all the pleasure they have, but mine lyes another way.

Quack
You take, methinks, a very preposterous way to it, and as ridiculous as if we Operators in Physick, shou’d put forth Bills to disparage our Medicaments, with hopes to gain Customers.

Horner
Doctor, there are Quacks in love, as well as Physick, who get but the fewer and worse Patients, for their boasting; a good name is seldom got by giving it ones self, and Women no more than honour are compass’d by bragging: Come, come Doctor, the wisest Lawyer never discovers the merits of his cause till the tryal; the wealthiest Man conceals his riches, and the cunning Gamester his play; Shy Husbands and Keepers like old Rooks are not to be cheated, but by a new unpractis’d trick; false friendship will pass now no more than false dice upon ’em, no, not in the City.

Enter Boy.
There are two Ladies and a Gentleman coming up.

Horner
A Pox, some unbelieving Sisters of my former acquaintance, who I am afraid, expect their sense shou’d be satisfy’d of the falsity of the report. No—this formal Fool and Women!

Enter Sir Jaspar Fidget, Lady Fidget, and Mrs. Dainty Fidget.

Quack
His Wife and Sister.

Sir Jaspar
My Coach breaking just now before your door Sir, I look upon as an occasional repremand to me Sir, for not kissing your hands Sir, since your coming out of France Sir; and so my disaster Sir, has been my good fortune Sir; and this is my Wife, and Sister Sir.

Horner
What then, Sir?

Sir Jaspar
My Lady, and Sister, Sir. — Wife, this is Master Horner.

Lady Fidget
Master Horner, Husband!

Sir Jaspar
My Lady, my Lady Fidget, Sir.

Horner
So, Sir.

Sir Jaspar
Won’t you be acquainted with her Sir? [So the report is true, I find by his coldness or aversion to the Sex; but I’ll play the wag with him.] [Aside.] Pray salute my Wife, my Lady, Sir.

Horner
I will kiss no Mans Wife, Sir, for him, Sir; I have taken my eternal leave, Sir, of the Sex already, Sir.

Sir Jaspar
Hah, hah, hah; I’ll plague him yet. [aside.] Not know my Wife, Sir?

Horner
I do know your Wife, Sir, she’s a Woman, Sir, and consequently a Monster, Sir, a greater Monster than a Husband, Sir.

Sir Jaspar
A Husband; how, Sir?

Horner
So, Sir; but I make no more Cuckholds, Sir.

makes horns.

"A Contented Cuckold in the new fashion." A satirical print of a cuckold, complete with horns, who is happy because his wife brings him gifts from her lover(!) The verse reads: "ow blest am I and what a happie life / Doe I injoy but I may thank my Wife / Tis shee that rais'd my fortune all this store / Her ocupation brings: and tenn times more / In my conceit; hees more then mad that scornes / To weare such pretious, profitable Hornes / To be a Cuckold why should I repine / The disgrace is my Wifes; the profit mine." printed sometime around 1680. (Library of Congreve)
“A Contented Cuckold in the new fashion.” A satirical print of a cuckold, complete with horns, who is happy because his wife brings him gifts from her lover(!) The verse reads: “How blest am I and what a happie life / Doe I injoy but I may thank my Wife / Tis shee that rais’d my fortune all this store / Her ocupation brings: and tenn times more / In my conceit; hees more then mad that scornes / To weare such pretious, profitable Hornes / To be a Cuckold why should I repine / The disgrace is my Wifes; the profit mine.” printed sometime around 1680. (Library of Congress)

Sir Jaspar
Hah, hah, hah, Mercury, Mercury.

Lady Fidget
Pray, Sir Jaspar, let us be gone from this rude fellow.

Mrs. Dainty
Who, by his breeding, wou’d think, he had ever been in France?

Lady Fidget
Foh, he’s but too much a French fellow, such as hate Women of quality and virtue, for their love to their Husbands, Sir Jaspar; a Woman is hated by ’em as much for loving her Husband, as for loving their Money: But pray, let’s be gone.

Horner
You do well, Madam, for I have nothing that you came for: I have brought over not so much as a Bawdy Picture, new Postures, nor the second Part of the Escole de Filles; Nor—

Quack
Hold for shame, Sir; what d’y mean? you’l ruine your self for ever with the Sex— [apart to Horner.

Sir Jaspar
Hah, hah, hah, he hates Women perfectly I find.

Dainty
What pitty ’tis he shou’d.

Lady Fidget
Ay, he’s a base rude Fellow for’t; but affectation makes not a Woman more odious to them, than Virtue.

Horner
Because your Virtue is your greatest affectation, Madam.

Lady Fidget
How, you sawcy Fellow, wou’d you wrong my honour?

Horner
If I cou’d.

Lady Fidget
How d’y mean, Sir?

Sir Jaspar
Hah, hah, hah, no he can’t wrong your Ladyships honour, upon my honour; he poor Man — hark you in your ear—a meer Eunuch.

Lady Fidget
O filthy French Beast, foh, foh; why do we stay? let’s be gone; I can’t endure the sight of him.

Sir Jaspar
Stay, but till the Chairs come, they’l be here presently.

Lady Fidget
No, no.

Sir Jaspar
Nor can I stay longer; ’tis — let me see, a quarter and a half quarter of a minute past eleven; the Council will be sate, I must away: business must be preferr’d always before Love and Ceremony with the wise Mr. Horner.

Horner
And the Impotent Sir Jaspar.

Sir Jaspar
Ay, ay, the impotent Master Horner, hah, ha, ha.

Lady Fidget
What leave us with a filthy Man alone in his lodgings?

Sir Jaspar
He’s an innocent Man now, you know; pray stay, I’ll hasten the Chaires to you. —Mr. Horner your Servant, I shou’d be glad to see you at my house; pray, come and dine with me, and play at Cards with my Wife after dinner, you are fit for Women at that game; yet hah, ha—‘Tis as much a Husbands prudence to provide innocent diversion for a Wife, as to hinder her unlawful pleasures; and he had better employ her, than let her employ her self. [Aside.] Farewel.

Exit Sir Jaspar

Horner
Your Servant Sir Jaspar

Lady Fidget
I will not stay with him, foh—

Horner
Nay, Madam, I beseech you stay, if it be but to see, I can be as civil to Ladies yet, as they wou’d desire.

Lady Fidget
No, no, foh, you cannot be civil to Ladies.

Dainty
You as civil as Ladies wou’d desire.

Lady Fidget
No, no, no, foh, foh, foh.

Exeunt Lady Fidget and Dainty.

Quack
Now I think, I, or you your self rather, have done your business with the Women.

Horner
Thou art an Ass, don’t you see already upon the report and my carriage, this grave Man of business leaves his Wife in my lodgings, invites me to his house and wife, who before wou’d not be acquainted with me out of jealousy.

Quack
Nay, by this means you may be the more acquainted with the Husbands, but the less with the Wives.

Horner
Let me alone, if I can but abuse the Husbands, I’ll soon disabuse the Wives: Stay — I’ll reckon you up the advantages, I am like to have by my Stratagem: First, I shall be rid of all my old Acquaintances, the most insatiable sorts of Duns, that invade our Lodgings in a morning: And next, to the pleasure of making a New Mistriss, is that of being rid of an old One, and of all old Debts; Love when it comes to be so, is paid the most unwillingly.

Quack
Well, you may be so rid of your old Acquaintances; but how will you get any new Ones?

Horner
Doctor, thou wilt never make a good Chymist, thou art so incredulous and impatient; ask but all the young Fellows of the Town, if they do not loose more time like Huntsmen, in starting the game, than in running it down; one knows not where to find ’em. who will, or will not; Women of Quality are so civil, you can hardly distinguish love from good breeding, and a Man is often mistaken; but now I can be sure, she that shews an aversion to me loves the sport, as those Women that are gone, whom I warrant to be right: And then the next thing, is your Women of Honour, as you call ’em, are only chary of their reputations, not their Persons, and ’tis scandal they wou’d avoid, not Men: Now may I have, by the reputation of an Eunuch, the Priviledges of One; and be seen in a Ladies Chamber, in a morning as early as her Husband; kiss Virgins before their Parents, or Lovers; and may be in short thePas par tout  of the Town. Now Doctor.

Quack
Nay, now you shall be the Doctor; and your Process is so new, that we do not know but it may succeed.

Horner
Not so new neither, Probatum est Doctor.

Quack
Well, I wish you luck and many Patients whil’st I go to mine.

Exit Quack.

Enter Harcourt, and Dorilant to Horner.

Harcourt
Come, your appearance at the Play yesterday, has I hope hardned you for the future against the Womens contempt, and the Mens raillery; and now you’l abroad as you were wont.

Horner
Did I not bear it bravely?

Dorilant
With a most Theatrical impudence; nay more than the Orange-wenches shew there, or a drunken vizard Mask, or a great belly’d Actress; nay, or the most impudent of Creatures, an ill Poet; or what is yet more impudent, a secondhand Critick.

Horner
But what say the Ladies, have they no pitty?

Harcourt
What Ladies? the vizard Masques you know never pitty a Man when all’s gone, though in their Service.

A vizard mask dating to sometime between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Aristocratic women wore these in public, partly to conceal their identities, and also partly to protect themselves from the sun. This mask is made of black velvet (which is badly discolored now) and silk. The user would keep it on by holding the black bead in her mouth.
A vizard mask dating to sometime between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Aristocratic women wore these in public, partly to conceal their identities, and also partly to protect themselves from the sun. This mask is made of black velvet (which is badly discolored now) and silk. The user would keep it on by holding the black bead in her mouth. Not all masks covered the entire face like this; many would have just covered the eyes and nose, much like a modern Halloweeen mask. But there is evidence that large masks such as this one sometimes continued to be used by English women into the early eighteenth century.

Dorilant
And for the Women in the boxes, you’d never pitty them, when ’twas in your power.

Horner
They say ’tis pitty, but all that deal with common Women shou’d be serv’d so.

Dorilant
Nay, I dare swear, they won’t admit you to play at Cards with them, go to Plays with ’em, or do the little duties which other Shadows of men, are wont to do for ’em.

Horner
Who do you call Shadows of Men?

Dorilant
Half Men.

Horner
What Boyes?

Dorilant
Ay your old Boyes, old beaux Garcons, who like superannuated Stallions are suffer’d to run, feed, and whinney with the Mares as long as they live, though they can do nothing else.

Horner
Well a Pox on love and wenching, Women serve but to keep a Man from better Company; though I can’t enjoy them, I shall you the more: good fellowship and friendship, are lasting, rational and manly pleasures.

Harcourt
For all that give me some of those pleasures, you call effeminate too, they help to relish one another.

Horner
They disturb one another.

Harcourt
No, Mistresses are like Books; if you pore upon them too much, they doze you, and make you unfit for Company; but if us’d discreetly, you are the fitter for conversation by ’em.

Dorilant
A Mistress shou’d be like a little Country retreat near the Town, not to dwell in constantly, but only for a night and away; to tast the Town the better when a Man returns.

Horner
I tell you, ’tis as hard to be a good Fellow, a good Friend, and a Lover of Women, as ’tis to be a good Fellow, a good Friend, and a Lover of Money: You cannot follow both, then choose your side; Wine gives you liberty, Love takes it away.

Dorilant
Gad, he’s in the right on ‘t.

Horner
Wine gives you joy, Love grief and tortures; besides the Chirurgeon’s Wine makes us witty, Love only Sots: Wine makes us sleep, Love breaks it.

Dorilant
By the World he has reason, Harcourt.

Horner
Wine makes—

Dorilant
Ay, Wine makes us —makes us Princes, Love makes us Beggars, poor Rogues, y gad—and Wine—

Horner
So, there’s one converted.— No, no, Love and Wine, Oil and Vinegar.

Harcourt
I grant it; Love will still be uppermost.

Horner
Come, for my part I will have only those glorious, manly pleasures of being very drunk, and very slovenly.

Enter Boy.

Boy
Mr. Sparkish is below, Sir.

Harcourt
What, my dear Friend! a Rogue that is fond of me, only I think for abusing him.

Dorilant
No, he can no more think the Men laugh at him, than that Women jilt him, his opinion of himself is so good.

Horner
Well, there’s another pleasure by drinking, I thought not of; I shall loose his acquaintance, because he cannot drink; and you know ’tis a very hard thing to be rid of him, for he’s one of those nauseous offerers at wit, who like the worst Fidlers run themselves into all Companies.

Harcourt
One, that by being in the Company of Men of sense wou’d pass for one.

Horner
And may so to the short-sighed World, as a false Jewel amongst true ones, is not discern’d at a distance; his Company is as troublesome to us, as a Cuckolds, when you have a mind to his Wife’s.

Harcourt
No, the Rogue will not let us enjoy one another, but ravishes our conversation, though he signifies no more to’t, than Sir Martin Mar-all’s gaping, and auker’d thrumming upon the Lute, does to his Man’s Voice, and Musick.

Dorilant
And to pass for a wit in Town, shewes himself a fool every night to us, that are guilty of the plot.

Horner
Such wits as he, are, to a Company of reasonable Men, like Rooks to the Gamesters, who only fill a room at the Table, but are so far from contributing to the play, that they only serve to spoil the fancy of those that do.

Dorilant
Nay, they are us’d like Rooks too, snub’d, check’d, and abus’d; yet the Rogues will hang on.

Horner
A Pox on ’em, and all that force Nature, and wou’d be still what she forbids ’em; Affectation is her greatest Monster.

Harcourt
Most Men are the contraries to that they wou’d seem; your bully you see, is a Coward with a long Sword; the little humbly fawning Physician with his Ebony cane, is he that destroys Men.

Dorilant
The Usurer, a poor Rogue, possess’d of moldy Bonds, and Mortgages; and we they call Spend-thrifts, are only wealthy, who lay out his money upon daily new purchases of pleasure.

Horner
Ay, your errantest cheat, is your Trustee, or Executor; your jealous Man, the greatest Cuckhold; your Church-man, the greatest Atheist; and your noisy pert Rogue of a wit, the greatest Fop, dullest Ass, and worst Company as you shall see: For here he comes.

Enter Sparkish to them.

Sparkish
How is’t, Sparks, how is’t? Well Faith, Harry, I must railly thee a little, ha, ha, ha, upon the report in Town of thee, ha, ha, ha, I can’t hold y Faith; shall I speak?

Horner
Yes, but you’l be so bitter then.

Sparkish
Honest Dick and Franck here shall answer for me, I will not be extream bitter by the Univers.

Harcourt
We will be bound in ten thousand pound Bond, he shall not be bitter at all.

Dorilant
Nor sharp, nor sweet.

Horner
What, not down right insipid?

Sparkish
Nay then, since you are so brisk, and provoke me, take what follows; you must know, I was discoursing and raillying with some Ladies yesterday, and they hapned to talk of the fine new signes in Town.

Horner
Very fine Ladies I believe.

Sparkish
Said I, I know where the best new sign is. Where, says one of the Ladies? In Covent-Garden, I reply’d. Said another, In what street? In Russel-street, answer’d I. Lord says another, I’m sure there was ne’re a fine new sign there yesterday. Yes, but there was, said I again, and it came out of France, and has been there a fortnight.

Covent Garden, depicted around 1720. This was the entertainment district of London, with theaters, restaurants, coffee shops. But also brothels and gambling dens. It is no surprise that Horner would live in this neighborhood.
Covent Garden, depicted around 1720. This was the entertainment district of London, with theaters, restaurants, coffee shops. But also brothels and gambling dens. It is no surprise that Horner would live in this neighborhood. (Wikimedia Commons)

Dorilant
A Pox I can hear no more, prethee.

Horner
No hear him out; let him tune his crowd a while.

Harcourt
The worst Musick the greatest preparation.

Sparkish
Nay faith, I’ll make you laugh. It cannot be, says a third Lady. Yes, yes, quoth I again. Says a fourth Lady,

Horner
Look to’t, we’l have no more Ladies.

Sparkish
No.—then mark, mark, now, said I to the fourth, did you never see Mr. Horner; he lodges in Russel-street, and he’s a sign of a Man, you know, since he came out of France, heh, hah, he.

Horner
But the Divel take me, is thine be the sign of a jest.

Sparkish
With that they all fell a laughing, till they bepiss’d themselves; what, but it do’s not move you, methinks? well see one had as good go to Law without a witness, as break a jest without a laugher on ones side.—Come, come Sparks, but where do we dine, I have left at Whitehal an Earl to dine with you.

Dorilant
Why, I thought thou hadst lov’d a Man with a title better, than a Suit with a French trimming to ‘t.

Harcourt
Go, to him again.

Sparkish
No, Sir, a wit to me is the greatest title in the World.

Horner
But go dine with your Earl, Sir, he may be exceptious; we are your Friends, and will not take it ill to be left, I do assure you.

Harcourt
Nay, faith he shall go to him.

Sparkish
Nay, pray Gentlemen.

Dorilant
We’l thrust you out, if you wo ‘not, what disappoint any Body for us.

Sparkish
Nay, dear Gentlemen hear me.

Horner
No, no, Sir, by no means; pray go Sir.

Sparkish
Why, dear Rogues.

They all thrust him out of the room.

Dorilant
No, no.

All
Ha, ha, ha.

Sparkish returns.

Sparkish
But, Sparks, pray hear me; what d’ye think I’ll eat then with gay shallow Fops, and silent Coxcombs? I think wit as necessary at dinner as a glass of good wine, and that’s the reason I never have any stomach when I eat alone.—Come, but where do we dine?

Horner.
Ev’n where you will.

Sparkish
At Chateline’s.

Dorilant
Yes, if you will.

Sparkish
Or at the Cock.

Dorilant
Yes, if you please.

Sparkish
Or at the Dog and Partridg.

Horner
Ay, if you have mind to’t, for we shall dine at neither.

Sparkish
Pshaw, with your fooling we shall loose the new Play; and I wou’d no more miss seing a new Play the first day, than I wou’d miss setting in the wits Row; therefore I’ll go fetch my Mistriss and away.

Exit Sparkish. Manent Horner, Harcourt, Dorilant; Enter to them Mr. Pinchwife.

Horner
Who have we here, Pinchwife?

Mr. Pinchwife
Gentlemen, your humble Servant.

Horner
Well, Jack, by thy long absence from the Town, the grumness of thy countenance, and the slovenlyness of thy habit; I shou’d give thee joy, shoud’ I not, of Marriage?

Mr Pinchwife
Death does he know I’m married too? I thought to have conceal’d it from him at least. [Aside.] My long stay in the Country will excuse my dress, and I have a suit of Law; that brings me up to Town, that puts me out of humour; besides I must give Sparkish to morrow five thousand pound to lye with my Sister.

Horner
Nay, you Country Gentlemen rather than not purchase, will buy any thing, and he is a crackt title , if we may quibble: Well, but am I to give thee joy, I heard thou wert marry’d.

Mr. Pinchwife
What then?

Horner
Why, the next thing that is to be heard, is thou’rt a Cuckold.

Mr Pinchwife
Insupportable name. [Aside.]

Horner
But I did not expect Marriage from such a Whoremaster as you, one that knew the Town so much, and Women so well.

Mr. Pinchwife
Why, I have marry’d no London Wife.

Horner
Pshaw, that’s all one, that grave circumspection in marrying a Country Wife, is like refusing a deceitful pamper’d Smithfield JadeThis triggers the tooltip, to go and be cheated by a Friend in the Country.

Mr Pinchwife
A Pox on him and his Simile. [Aside.] At least we are a little surer of the breed there, know what her keeping has been, whether foyl’d or unsound.

Horner
Come, come, I have known a clap gotten in Wales, and there are Cozens, Justices, Clarks, and Chaplains in the Country, I won’t say Coach-men, but she’s handsome and young.

Pinchwife
I’ll answer as I shou’d do. [Aside.] No, no, she has no beauty, but her youth; no attraction, but her modesty, wholesome, homely, and huswifely, that’s all.

Dorilant
He talks as like a Grasieras he looks.

Pinchwife
She’s too auker’d, ill favour’d, and silly to bring to Town.

Harcourt
Then methinks you shou’d bring her, to be taught breeding.

Pinchwife
To be taught; no, Sir, I thank you, good Wives, and private Souldiers shou’d be ignorant.—I’ll keep her from your instructions, I warrant you.

Harcourt
The Rogue is as jealous, as if his wife were not ignorant. [Aside.]

Horner
Why, if she be ill favour’d, there will be less danger here for you, than by leaving her in the Country; we have such variety of dainties, that we are seldom hungry.

Dorilant
But they have alwayes coarse, constant, swinging stomachs in the Country.

Harcourt
Foul Feeders indeed.

Dorilant
And your Hospitality is great there.

Harcourt
Open house, every Man’s welcome.

Pinchwife
So, so, Gentlemen.

Horner
But prethee, why woud’st thou marry her? if she be ugly, ill bred, and silly, she must be rich then.

Pinchwife
As rich as if she brought me twenty thousand pound out of this Town; for she’l be as sure not to spend her moderate portion, as a London Baggage wou’d be to spend hers, let it be what it wou’d; so ’tis all one: then because shes ugly, she’s the likelyer to be my own; and being ill bred, she’l hate conversation; and since silly and innocent, will not know the difference betwixt a Man of one and twenty, and one of forty–

Horner
Nine—to my knowledge; but if she be silly, she’l expect as much from a Man of forty nine, as from him of one and twenty: But methinks wit is more necessary than beauty, and I think no young Woman ugly that has it, and no handsome Woman agreable without it.

Pinchwife
‘Tis my maxime, he’s a Fool that marrys, but he’s a greater that does not marry a Fool; what is wit in a Wife good for, but to make a Man a Cuckold?

Horner
Yes, to keep it from his knowledge.

Pinchwife
A Fool cannot contrive to make her husband a Cuckold.

Horner
No, but she’l club with a Man that can; and what is worse, if she cannot make her Husband a Cuckold, she’l make him jealous, and pass for one, and then ’tis all one.

Pinchwife
Well, well, I’ll take care for one, my Wife shall make me no Cuckold, though she had your help Mr. Horner ; I understand the Town, Sir.

Dorilant
His help! [Aside.]

Harcourt
He’s come newly to Town it seems, and has not heard how things are with him. [Aside.]

Horner
But tell me, has Marriage cured thee of whoring, which it seldom does.

Harcourt
‘Tis more than age can do.

Horner
No, the word is, I’ll marry and live honest; but a Marriage vow is like a penitent Gamesters Oath, and entring into Bonds, and penalties to stint himself to such a particular small sum at play for the future, which makes him but the more eager, and not being able to hold out, looses his Money again, and his forfeit to boot.

Dorilant
Ay, ay, a Gamester will be a Gamester, whilst his Money lasts; and a Whoremaster, whilst his vigour.

Harcourt
Nay, I have known ’em, when they are broke and can loose no more, keep a fumbling with the Box in their hands to fool with only, and hinder other Gamesters.

Dorilant
That had wherewithal to make lusty stakes.

Pinchwife
Well, Gentlemen, you may laugh at me, but you shall never lye with my Wife, I know the Town.

Horner
But prethee, was not the way you were in better; is not keeping better than Marriage?

Pinchwife
A Pox on’t, the Jades wou’d jilt me, I cou’d never keep a Whore to my self.

Horner
So then you only marry’d to keep a Whore to your self; well, but let me tell you, Women, as you say, are like Souldiers made constant and loyal by good pay, rather than by Oaths and Covenants, therefore I’d advise my Friends to keep rather than marry; since too I find by your example, it does not serve ones turn, for I saw you yesterday in the eighteen penny place with a pretty Country-wench.

Pinchwife
How the Divel, did he see my Wife then? I sate there that she might not be seen; but she shall never go to a play again. [Aside.]

Horner
What dost thou blush at nine and forty, for having been seen with a Wench?

Dorilant
No Faith, I warrant ’twas his Wife, which he seated there out of sight, for he’s a cunning Rogue, and understands the Town.

Harcourt
He blushes, then ’twas his Wife; for Men are now more ashamed to be seen with them in publick, than with a Wench.

Pinchwife
Hell and damnation, I’m undone, since Horner has seen her, and they know ’twas she. [Aside.]

Horner
But prethee, was it thy Wife? she was exceedingly pretty; I was in love with her at that distance.

Pinchwife
You are like never to be nearer to her. Your Servant Gentlemen.

Offers to go.

Horner
Nay, prethee stay.

Pinchwife
I cannot, I will not.
Horner
Come you shall dine with us.

Pinchwife
I have din’d already.

Horner
Come, I know thou hast not; I’ll treat thee dear Rogue, thou sha’t spend none of thy Hampshire Money to day.

Pinchwife
Treat me; so he uses me already like his Cuckold. [Aside.]

Horner
Nay, you shall not go.

Pinchwife
I must, I have business at home.

Exit Pinchwife.

Harcourt
To beat his Wife, he’s as jealous of her, as a Cheapside Husband of a Covent-garden Wife.

Horner
Why, ’tis as hard to find an old Whoremaster without jealousy and the gout, as a young one without fear or the Pox.
As Gout in Age, from Pox in Youth proceeds;
So Wenching past, then jealousy succeeds:
The worst disease that Love and Wenching breeds.