“MORE. O Charles, the insolence of this woman might furnish out a thousand devils.
“SIR CHARLES. And your temper is enough to furnish a thousand such women. Come away—I have business for you upon the terrace.
“MORE. Let me but speak one word to her.
“SIR CHARLES. Not a syllable; the tongue’s a weapon you always have the worst at. For I see you have no guard, and she carries a devilish edge.
“LADY BETTY. My lord, don’t let anything I’ve said frighten you away; for if you have the least inclination to stay and rail, you know the old conditions; ’tis but your asking me pardon next day, and you may give your passion any liberty you think fit.
“MORE. Daggers and death! [What a picturesque, old-fashioned oath, is it not? “Daggers and death!” Writers of English melodramas, please take notice.]
“SIR CHARLES. Is the man distracted?
“MORE. Let me speak to her now, or I shall burst.[A]
“SIR CHARLES. Upon condition you’ll speak no more of her to me, my lord, do as you please.
“MORE. Pr’ythee pardon me—I know not what to do.
“SIR CHARLES. Come along, I’ll set you to work, I warrant you. Nay, nay, none of your parting ogles—will you go?
“MORE. Yes, and I hope for ever.
[Exit SIR CHARLES pulling away LORD MORELOVE.”
[Footnote A: Here is the way in which several of our refined farcical writers would have given it:
MORELOVE. Let me speak to her now, or I shall burst.
SIR CHARLES. Upon condition that you’ll not burst here, in the parlour, do as you please.]
* * * * *
There is about this and many other scenes the fragrance of an old perfume, as of lavender. We take up the book after years of neglect, and the odour, which is not that of sanctity, is still perceptible—a potent reminder of the past. And Lady Betty Modish? She must be—well-nigh on to two hundred years old (a thousand florid pardons, sweet madame, for bringing in your age), but she is as blooming, saucy, and interesting as ever.
What becomes of Betty in the comedy, the reader may ask. She goes on her triumphant way, the same cruel enchantress, until the last act, when she is quite ready to fall into the arms of Lord Morelove. Sir Charles Easy, touched by the constancy and devotion of his wife, announces that he will mend his wilful habits, and Lord Foppington, who flattered himself that Lady Betty was madly in love with him, accepts his dismissal with great good humour. Then we have a song setting forth how:
“Sabina with an angel’s face
By Love ordain’d for joy,
Seems of the Siren’s cruel race,
To charm and then destroy.
“With all the arts of look and dress,
She fans the fatal fire;
Through pride, mistaken oft for grace,
She bids the swains expire.