The Way of the World By William Congreve Act V



PET. How now? What's the matter? Whose hand's out?

WIT. Hey day! What, are you all got together, like players at the end of the last act?

MIRA. You may remember, gentlemen, I once requested your hands as witnesses to a certain parchment.

WIT. Ay, I do, my hand I remember — Petulant set his mark.

MIRA. You wrong him; his name is fairly written, as shall appear. You do not remember, gentlemen, anything of what that parchment contained? [Undoing the box.]

WIT. No.

PET. Not I. I writ; I read nothing.

MIRA. Very well, now you shall know. Madam, your promise.

LADY. Ay, ay, sir, upon my honour.

MIRA. Mr. Fainall, it is now time that you should know that your lady, while she was at her own disposal, and before you had by your insinuations wheedled her out of a pretended settlement of the greatest part of her fortune -

FAIN. Sir! Pretended?

MIRA. Yes, sir. I say that this lady, while a widow, having, it seems, received some cautions respecting your inconstancy and tyranny of temper, which from her own partial opinion and fondness of you she could never have suspected — she did, I say, by the wholesome advice of friends and of sages learned in the laws of this land, deliver this same as her act and deed to me in trust, and to the uses within mentioned. You may read if you please [holding out the parchment], though perhaps what is written on the back may serve your occasions.


MIRA. Even so, sir: 'tis the way of the world, sir; of the widows of the world. I suppose this deed may bear an elder date than what you have obtained from your lady.

FAIN. Perfidious fiend! Then thus I'll be revenged. [Offers to run at MRS. FAINALL.]

SIR WIL. Hold, sir; now you may make your bear-garden flourish somewhere else, sir.

FAIN. Mirabell, you shall hear of this, sir; be sure you shall. Let me pass, oaf.

MRS. FAIN. Madam, you seem to stifle your resentment. You had better give it vent.

MRS. MAR. Yes, it shall have vent, and to your confusion, or I'll perish in the attempt.

SCENE the Last.


LADY. O daughter, daughter, 'tis plain thou hast inherited thy mother's prudence.

MRS. FAIN. Thank Mr. Mirabell, a cautious friend, to whose advice all is owing.

LADY. Well, Mr. Mirabell, you have kept your promise, and I must perform mine. First, I pardon for your sake Sir Rowland there and Foible. The next thing is to break the matter to my nephew, and how to do that -

MIRA. For that, madam, give yourself no trouble; let me have your consent. Sir Wilfull is my friend: he has had compassion upon lovers, and generously engaged a volunteer in this action, for our service, and now designs to prosecute his travels.

SIR WIL. 'Sheart, aunt, I have no mind to marry. My cousin's a fine lady, and the gentleman loves her and she loves him, and they deserve one another; my resolution is to see foreign parts. I have set on't, and when I'm set on't I must do't. And if these two gentlemen would travel too, I think they may be spared.

PET. For my part, I say little. I think things are best off or on.

WIT. I'gad, I understand nothing of the matter: I'm in a maze yet, like a dog in a dancing school.

LADY. Well, sir, take her, and with her all the joy I can give you.

MILLA. Why does not the man take me? Would you have me give myself to you over again?

MIRA. Ay, and over and over again. [Kisses her hand.] I would have you as often as possibly I can. Well, heav'n grant I love you not too well; that's all my fear.

SIR WIL. 'Sheart, you'll have time enough to toy after you're married, or, if you will toy now, let us have a dance in the meantime; that we who are not lovers may have some other employment besides looking on.

MIRA. With all my heart, dear Sir Wilfull. What shall we do for music?

FOIB. Oh, sir, some that were provided for Sir Rowland's entertainment are yet within call. [A dance.]

LADY. As I am a person, I can hold out no longer: I have wasted my spirits so to-day already that I am ready to sink under the fatigue; and I cannot but have some fears upon me yet, that my son Fainall will pursue some desperate course.

MIRA. Madam, disquiet not yourself on that account: to my knowledge his circumstances are such he must of force comply. For my part I will contribute all that in me lies to a reunion. In the meantime, madam [to MRS. FAINALL], let me before these witnesses restore to you this deed of trust: it may be a means, well managed, to make you live easily together.

From hence let those be warned, who mean to wed,
Lest mutual falsehood stain the bridal-bed:
For each deceiver to his cost may find
That marriage frauds too oft are paid in kind.

[Exeunt Omnes.]

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