The Way of the World By William Congreve Act IV


[To them] PETULANT drunk.

WIT. Now, Petulant? All's over, all's well? Gad, my head begins to whim it about. Why dost thou not speak? Thou art both as drunk and as mute as a fish.

PET. Look you, Mrs. Millamant, if you can love me, dear Nymph, say it, and that's the conclusion — pass on, or pass off — that's all.

WIT. Thou hast uttered volumes, folios, in less than decimo sexto, my dear Lacedemonian. Sirrah, Petulant, thou art an epitomiser of words.

PET. Witwoud, — you are an annihilator of sense.

WIT. Thou art a retailer of phrases, and dost deal in remnants of remnants, like a maker of pincushions; thou art in truth (metaphorically speaking) a speaker of shorthand.

PET. Thou art (without a figure) just one half of an ass, and Baldwin yonder, thy half-brother, is the rest. A Gemini of asses split would make just four of you.

WIT. Thou dost bite, my dear mustard-seed; kiss me for that.

PET. Stand off — I'll kiss no more males — I have kissed your Twin yonder in a humour of reconciliation till he [hiccup] rises upon my stomach like a radish.

MILLA. Eh! filthy creature; what was the quarrel?

PET. There was no quarrel; there might have been a quarrel.

WIT. If there had been words enow between 'em to have expressed provocation, they had gone together by the ears like a pair of castanets.

PET. You were the quarrel.


PET. If I have a humour to quarrel, I can make less matters conclude premises. If you are not handsome, what then? If I have a humour to prove it? If I shall have my reward, say so; if not, fight for your face the next time yourself — I'll go sleep.

WIT. Do, wrap thyself up like a woodlouse, and dream revenge. And, hear me, if thou canst learn to write by to-morrow morning, pen me a challenge. I'll carry it for thee.

PET. Carry your mistress's monkey a spider; go flea dogs and read romances. I'll go to bed to my maid.

MRS. FAIN. He's horridly drunk — how came you all in this pickle?

WIT. A plot, a plot, to get rid of the knight — your husband's advice; but he sneaked off.

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