“WIDOW. I hear a coach. [Exit TATTLEAID.] I have now an exquisite pleasure in the thought of surpassing my Lady Sly, who pretends to have out-grieved the whole town for her husband. They are certainly coming. Oh, no! here let me—thus let me sit and think. [Widow on her couch; while she is raving, as to herself, TATTLEAID softly introduces the ladies.] Wretched, disconsolate, as I am!... Alas! alas! Oh! oh! I swoon! I expire! [Faints.
“SECOND LADY. Pray, Mrs. Tattleaid, bring something that is cordial to her. [Exit TATTLEAID.
“THIRD LADY. Indeed, madam, you should have patience; his lordship was old. To die is but going before in a journey we must all take.
Enter TATTLEAID, loaded with bottles; THIRD LADY takes a bottle from her and drinks.
“FOURTH LADY. Lord, how my Lady Fleer drinks! I have heard, indeed, but never could believe it of her. [Drinks also.
“FIRST LADY. [Whispers.] But, madam, don’t you hear what the town says of the jilt, Flirt, the men liked so much in the Park? Hark ye—was seen with him in a hackney coach.
“SECOND LADY. Impudent flirt, to be found out!
“THIRD LADY. But I speak it only to you.
“FOURTH LADY. [Whispers next woman.] Nor I, but to no one.
“FIFTH LADY. [Whispers the WIDOW.] I can’t believe it; nay, I always thought it, madam.
“WIDOW. Sure, ’tis impossible the demure, prim thing. Sure all the world is hypocrisy Well, I thank my stars, whatsoever sufferings I have, I have none in reputation. I wonder at the men; I could never think her handsome. She has really a good shape and complexion but no mein; and no woman has the use of her beauty without mein. Her charms are dumb, they want utterance. But whither does distraction lead me to talk of charms?
“FIRST LADY. Charms, a chit’s, a girl’s charms! Come, let us widows be true to ourselves, keep our countenances and our characters, and a fig for the maids.
“SECOND LADY. Ay, since they will set up for our knowledge, why should not we for their ignorance?
“THIRD LADY. But, madam, o’ Sunday morning at church, I curtsied to you and looked at a great fuss in a glaring light dress, next pew. That strong, masculine thing is a knight’s wife, pretends to all the tenderness in the world, and would fain put the unwieldly upon us for the soft, the languid. She has of a sudden left her dairy, and sets up for a fine town lady; calls her maid Cisly, her woman speaks to her by her surname of Mrs. Cherryfist, and her great foot-boy of nineteen, big enough for a trooper, is stripped into a laced coat, now Mr. Page forsooth.
“FOURTH LADY. Oh, I have seen her. Well, I heartily pity some people for their wealth; they might have been unknown else—you would die, madam, to see her and her equipage: I thought her horses were ashamed of their finery; they dragged on, as if they were all at plough, and a great bashful-look’d booby behind grasp’d the coach, as if he had never held one.