The Way of the World By William Congreve Act III

SCENE XIII.

[To them] PETULANT, WITWOUD.

MILLA. Is your animosity composed, gentlemen?

WIT. Raillery, raillery, madam; we have no animosity. We hit off a little wit now and then, but no animosity. The falling out of wits is like the falling out of lovers:- we agree in the main, like treble and bass. Ha, Petulant?

PET. Ay, in the main. But when I have a humour to contradict -

WIT. Ay, when he has a humour to contradict, then I contradict too. What, I know my cue. Then we contradict one another like two battledores; for contradictions beget one another like Jews.

PET. If he says black's black — if I have a humour to say 'tis blue- -let that pass — all's one for that. If I have a humour to prove it, it must be granted.

WIT. Not positively must. But it may; it may.

PET. Yes, it positively must, upon proof positive.

WIT. Ay, upon proof positive it must; but upon proof presumptive it only may. That's a logical distinction now, madam.

MRS. MAR. I perceive your debates are of importance, and very learnedly handled.

PET. Importance is one thing and learning's another; but a debate's a debate, that I assert.

WIT. Petulant's an enemy to learning; he relies altogether on his parts.

PET. No, I'm no enemy to learning; it hurts not me.

MRS. MAR. That's a sign, indeed, it's no enemy to you.

PET. No, no, it's no enemy to anybody but them that have it.

MILLA. Well, an illiterate man's my aversion; I wonder at the impudence of any illiterate man to offer to make love.

WIT. That I confess I wonder at, too.

MILLA. Ah, to marry an ignorant that can hardly read or write!

PET. Why should a man be any further from being married, though he can't read, than he is from being hanged? The ordinary's paid for setting the psalm, and the parish priest for reading the ceremony. And for the rest which is to follow in both cases, a man may do it without book. So all's one for that.

MILLA. D'ye hear the creature? Lord, here's company; I'll begone.

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Lady Wishfort, who is __________ years old, is vain and susceptible to false flattery.




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