Makes, when the kite has clutch’d her. The high Widow
Was loud and stormy. I distinctly heard
One threat pronounced—“Your husband shall know all.”
I am no listener, sister; and I hold
A secret, got by such unmanly shift,
The pitiful’st of thefts; but what mine ear,
I not intending it, receives perforce,
I count my lawful prize. Some subtle meaning
Lurks in this fiend’s behaviour; which, by force,
Or fraud, I must make mine.
The gentlest means
Are still the wisest. What, if you should press
Your wife to a disclosure?
I have tried
All gentler means; thrown out low hints, which, though
Merely suggestions still, have never fail’d
To blanch her cheek with fears. Roughlier to insist,
Would be to kill, where I but meant to heal.
Your own description gave that Widow out
As one not much precise, nor over coy,
And nice to listen to a suit of love.
What if you feign’d a courtship, putting on,
(To work the secret from her easy faith,)
For honest ends, a most dishonest seeming?
I see your drift, and partly meet your counsel.
But must it not in me appear prodigious,
To say the least, unnatural, and suspicious,
To move hot love, where I have shewn cool scorn,
And undissembled looks of blank aversion?
Vain woman is the dupe of her own charms,
And easily credits the resistless power,
That in besieging Beauty lies, to cast down
The slight-built fortress of a casual hate.
I am resolved—
Success attend your wooing!
And I’ll about it roundly, my wise sister. [Exeunt.]
MR. SELBY. MRS. FRAMPTON.
A fortunate encounter, Mistress Frampton.
My purpose was, if you could spare so much
From your sweet leisure, a few words in private.
What mean his alter’d tones? These looks to me,
Whose glances yet he has repell’d with coolness?
Is the wind changed? I’ll veer about with it,
And meet him in all fashions. [Aside.]
All my leisure,
Feebly bestow’d upon my kind friends here,
Would not express a tithe of the obligements
I every hour incur.
No more of that.—
I know not why, my wife hath lost of late
Much of her cheerful spirits.