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Title: Married Life - A Comedy, in Three Acts
Author: Buckstone, John Baldwin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Married Life - A Comedy, in Three Acts" ***

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the University of Toronto, Google, and the British Library.








The Comedy of "MARRIED LIFE" is _entirely_ original--if the being
unassisted by either anecdote, tale, ballad, biography, or any other
resource constitutes _entire originality_.--Yet, as some of the
couples, especially MR. and MRS. CODDLE, and MR. and MRS. DOVE, have
been "_sketched from the life_," the important question of originality
is still open to much disquisition.



Allow me to dedicate this Comedy to you, as some little token of my
very great admiration of your talents. It is a very common cant to
allow of no existing excellence, and refer only to the past for
instances of genius! In Dramatic matters, this cant has been
particularly cherished; but, with reference to yourself, it may be
presumed that were a playgoer of Cibber's time now in existence, he
would be puzzled, with all his fond recollections, to name few, if
any, by-gone _artistes_ who could have borne away one feather from
your well-filled cap of fame. And truly the actor of the UNCLES FOOZLE
and JOHN--of the Lawyers GROTIUS and FLAM--of the wily STEWARD--of the
cold and crafty Diplomatist, COUNT BERTRAND--of the physically cold
SAMUEL CODDLE--the excellent and kind-hearted MICHEL PERRIN--of the
warlike CHARLES THE TWELFTH--of SIR PETER and OGLEBY--and fifty other
triumphant assumptions, must possess a feathered coronet of no
ordinary dimensions. With a hundred thanks for your great attention to
every humble effort of mine, in which you have been concerned, and for
the anxiety that you have always shewn for my success, permit me to
wish you many years of health and strength, that the stage may long be
enabled to name you with pride and pleasure as one of its greatest

     Yours very truly,


_August_ 25, 1834.


Mr. _Samuel Coddle_              Mr. W. FARREN.
Mrs. _Samuel Coddle_             Mrs. GLOVER.
Mr. _Lionel Lynx_                Mr. VINING.
Mrs. _Lionel Lynx_               Mrs. FAUCIT.
Mr. _Henry Dove_                 Mr. BUCKSTONE.
Mrs. _Henry Dove_                Mrs. W. CLIFFORD.
Mr. _Frederick Younghusband_     Mr. BRINDAL.
Mrs. _Frederick Younghusband_    Mrs. HUMBY.
Mr. _George Dismal_              Mr. STRICKLAND.
Mrs. _George Dismal_             Mrs. TAYLEURE.

This comedy was first produced on the 20th of August, 1834.



_An apartment at the house of MR. LYNX; A fire place on the
L. H. S. E. before which LYNX is discovered in his morning gown,
reading a newspaper. A table near him, with breakfast service on it;
MRS. LYNX at a small table on R. H., in the sulks; a practicable
window to throw up R. H._

LYNX. (_Reading._)--"BOW STREET.--_Matrimonial Squabble_--The chief
magistrate was occupied all the morning, investigating a case of
assault, arising out of a matrimonial squabble. It appears that the
wife of the complainant is a woman of violent passions, and so
excessively jealous, that her husband's life is endangered." Do you
hear that, my dear? you are not singular in your temper, you see.

MRS. LY. Indeed!

LYNX. There are other women in the world, excessively jealous, beside

MRS. LY. You think so, do you?

LYNX. Shall I read the whole of the police report?

MRS. LY. You may do just as you please.

LYNX. Don't you feel interested in the case? Have you no sympathy with
the poor woman?

MRS. LY. You have taken good care to destroy all my sympathies;
indeed, almost every feeling and quality that I once possessed.

LYNX. Save one, my dear.

MRS. LY. Well, sir, what is that one?

LYNX. The quality of making yourself extremely disagreeable--why don't
you take breakfast?

MRS. LY. I don't want any.

LYNX. You did not sup last night?

MRS. LY. I did not require it.

LYNX. You eat nothing at dinner yesterday?

MRS. LY. I had no appetite.

LYNX. You'll starve yourself, love, and die!

MRS. LY. Then you will be happy.

LYNX. I shall certainly lead a quieter life----

MRS. LY. And have more opportunities for carrying on your intrigues.

LYNX. What intrigues, dear?

MRS. LY. Those are best known to yourself.

LYNX. I thought you were perfectly acquainted with them.

MRS. LY. I am acquainted with a sufficiency, believe me.

LYNX. Name them, my dear?

MRS. LY. I shall not trouble myself so much.

LYNX. Nay, I insist----

MRS. LY. Well, then, sir--my dress-maker could not call yesterday, but
you must make yourself ridiculous.

LYNX. What did I do?

MRS. LY. You told her, in my presence, that she was very pretty.

LYNX. Was there any sin in that?

MRS. LY. 'Twas not only a very great familiarity on your part,
sir--but a want of respect for me.

LYNX. True--'twas wrong in me to forget that few women can endure to
hear another admired.

MRS. LY. And few men think their wives to be possessed of any superior
charms to the first doll they may meet.

LYNX. Excellent, indeed--my love, we must turn authors; and between
us, publish a book of conjugal aphorisms. However, I plead guilty to
your first charge, and implore your mercy--proceed to the next.

MRS. LY. I think the last time we walked out with Mr. and Mrs. Coddle,
that you might have offered me your arm, and not have left me to the
care of the husband, while you flirted with the wife.

LYNX. What do you call flirting?

MRS. LY. Whispering--laughing--and affecting to have,--or really
having, a quantity of interesting secrets.--Don't ask me for a
definition of the word, Sir--I am not a dictionary.

LYNX. I think you are, my dear--if I may judge by the hard words that
you ever use to me.--Proceed with your charges, I beg--

MRS. LY. I heard of your being in a private box at the theatre two
evenings since--and with some strange female.

LYNX. Your hearing such a report is no evidence of its truth.

MRS. LY. You were not at home on that evening--indeed, I don't know
when you _are_ at home; always out--always running about--calling on
this lady, and meeting that--receiving notes of assignation, and--but
I'll not endure it longer, Mr. Lynx--you may provoke me beyond the
bounds of endurance, and then beware--

LYNX. Of what, dear?

MRS. LY. That is best known to myself.

LYNX. I am grateful for the information (_rising_) and now having
discussed a very conjugal breakfast, I shall prepare for my morning

MRS. LY. Is it possible that you can have no particular appointment?
Have you had neither pink, nor blue note this morning?

LYNX. No, my love--_Me miserabile dolorous homine_--(_a Two-penny
Postman's knock heard._)

MRS. LY. There's the postman.

LYNX. So I hear.

MRS. LY. A letter for you, no doubt.--I thought it would be strange if
a morning passed without the arrival of some mysterious billet for Mr.
Lynx--(_LYNX makes a movement towards the L. H. entrance, but resumes
his seat_)--Oh, Sir, don't check your impatience--anticipate your
servant, and run to the door, I beg.

LYNX. Certainly, my love--if you wish it.--(_LYNX jumps up and runs
off, L. H._)

MRS. LY. Now, Sir, I think I have you in my snare--'tis my own letter
that has arrived--bearing a fictitious signature, and appointing to
meet him in the park alone;--he will receive it--read it--then what
should he do? What _should_ a good and true husband do under such
circumstances? Show the letter to his wife. Will he do that? If he
does, I will freely forgive--forget--and think all that I have heard
and seen to be delusions and falsehoods;--but if he neither gives it
me, nor alludes to it in any way, I shall then be convinced of his
perfidy, and my course shall be resolved on.

_Re-enter LYNX, singing carelessly_,

     "I have pluck'd the fairest flower," &c. &c.

By Jove, I must dress,--'tis near eleven (_looking at his watch_) my
love, I think I shall dine at my club to-day.

MRS. LY. Was the letter that you have just received an invitation to
meet some one there?

LYNX. Oh dear, no.

MRS. LY. Was it from any one that I am acquainted with?

LYNX. No, 'twas merely a note.

MRS. LY. On a matter of business?

LYNX. Yes--yes--mere business.

MRS. LY. Which, of course, you will attend to?

LYNX. Business _must_ be attended to, my dear.

MRS. LY. Especially when the only business of a man is pleasure.

LYNX. Precisely.

MRS. LY. Then you _are_ going out?

LYNX. I am.

MRS. LY. I think on such a very fine morning as this, you might, for
once, take me with you.

LYNX. Certainly, my love, if you wish it.

MRS. LY. Ah! will he take me?--(_aside._)

LYNX. Yet, now I think of it,--I have two or three places to call at,
where I may be detained.

MRS. LY. I can wait for you.

LYNX. That will be so unpleasant: I shall be fidgetty at the thought
of your becoming impatient, and then half the little matters that I
may have to arrange, may escape my memory. You had better name
to-morrow for our walk.

MRS. LY. You _won't_ take me this morning?

LYNX. Not this morning.

MRS. LY. You _will_ go out?

LYNX. I must.

MRS. LY. Very well, Sir.--(_Aside._)--Perfidious man, you will
bitterly repent this treatment of me.--There is some one in the hall.

LYNX. (_Looking off, L. H._)--They're your friends, Mr. and Mrs.
Coddle; they will amuse you during the ten minutes that I require for
dressing. What a strange couple--so oddly assorted; poor Coddle, is
the thinnest, chilliest man in the world. You must shut all your

MRS. LY. His wife will immediately open them.

LYNX. She, poor thing, is so hot. When he is below freezing point, she
is above fever heat.

MRS. LY. You must allow that they do endeavour to accommodate
themselves to each other's foibles, and not oppose them, and use them
as the means of tormenting, as _some_ people do?

LYNX. We shall see.

_Enter MRS. and MR. CODDLE--CODDLE wrapped up in a great coat, over
which is a spencer--a boa round his throat. A cravat covering his
chin, and a Welch wig on his head. MRS. CODDLE is dressed in thin
white muslin._

CODDLE. Ah, Mrs. Lynx!

MRS. COD. Good morning, my friends.

LYNX. How d'ye do? How d'ye do?

CODDLE.--I'm very cold--ugh (_shuddering._)

LYNX. Quite well, Mrs. Coddle?

MRS. COD. Very well--but so hot. Phew! Pray open your windows and give
me some air.

CODDLE. No, don't, don't--I shall jump out of one of 'em, if you do.
My inhuman wife would drag me from my warm fire-side this morning,
although I told her there was an incipient easterly wind fluttering
about. If it should blow in full force before I get home, I shall die.

MRS. COD. My dear love--'tis nothing but a fine refreshing breeze, and
one that you ought to be very grateful for.

CODDLE. I tell you, it is warmth that I want--warmth.

MRS. COD. And it's air that I want--fine, fresh, blowing, whistling

CODDLE. (_Shuddering._)--Ugh--don't, dear, you chill me to the bone to
hear you.

LYNX. Be seated, I beg.--(_crosses to L. H._)--Excuse me for a few

[_Exit LYNX, L. H._

MRS. LY. (_Aside._)--If he does go out, I'll follow him; watch him,
and enjoy his disappointment.

COD. You have a window open somewhere, Mrs. Lynx--pray shut it. I sat
in a draught last week, that so completely fixed my head on my
shoulders, that I could'nt have moved it without turning my whole body
at the same time, had it been to save my life.

MRS. COD. Merely a stiff neck, Mrs. Lynx?

COD. All my wife's fault. I sat for five days in this
attitude--(_Holding his head up stiffly._)--If I wanted to look at any
body on my left, I was obliged to turn my whole body thus. If any one
spoke to me on my right, I could only attend to them by pivotting so.
If I wished to see what was going on behind me, I was obliged to whirl
round like a weathercock at a sudden change in the wind;--but how dy'e
think I did it? How dy'e think I managed my movements?

MRS. LYNX. I really can't guess.

COD. 'Twas the only thing I could hit upon. I sat upon my wife's
music-stool--for five whole days. I ate, drank, lived and twirled upon
a music-stool;--all through sitting in a draught--do shut your
windows, there's a dear.

MRS. COD. You'll suffocate me some day, Coddle--I know you will. You
don't know what a life I lead with him, Mrs. Lynx--five blankets in
July--think o'that.

COD. Highly necessary--we are more liable to take cold in hot weather,
than in any other. I always have four colds, one rheumatism, and two
stiff necks every July.

MRS. COD. What d'ye think he did a week ago, Mrs. Lynx? I had retired
early: in the middle of the night I awoke in such a state of alarm--I
really thought the room beneath us was on fire--the air of my
apartment was so hot, so sultry, that I could not draw my breath. I
gasped for air; What can be the matter, I said to myself? Surely I've
been suddenly transported to the Indies, and there is a thunder-storm
brewing. I rose--I opened the windows--

COD. And almost killed me on the spot; there was a strong north wind
blowing at that moment--enough to wither one.--Imprudent woman.

MRS. COD. 'Twas a fine bracing night breeze--but out of kindness to
Coddle, I immediately closed the windows--Phew. Oh, gracious, had you
but have felt the heat--I fainted away in the easy chair--Coddle rang
the bell--the servants came--and to my horror, we discovered that
Coddle had clandestinely introduced a German stove into the bed-room,
and there it was, red hot. Think what a person of my temperament must
have endured. I've been ill ever since.

COD. Doctor Heavysides recommended it; he said 'twas the only thing
that could save my life, and rescue me from a threatened pulmonary
complaint. I've had a wheezing cough ever since its removal--barbarous

MRS. COD. You seem dull, Mrs. Lynx.

MRS. LY. I'm not in very good spirits.

MRS. COD. Ah! we poor wives all have our little troubles.

COD. And we poor husbands, too. Mrs. Coddle wont let me wear a
hair-skin comforter--did you ever hear of such cruelty?

MRS. COD. He thinks of nothing but his own personal ease.

COD. I'm obliged; there's no one else thinks of it for me.

MRS. COD. He's the most apathetic creature living--no life, no
passion, no impulse. I _do_ like to see a husband subject to some
little caprices of temper. If Coddle, now, were inclined to
jealousy--and would scold me well--and throw things about--and go into
a fury now and then--I should be the happiest woman in the world; but
he wont--there he sits, from morning till night, as carefully wrapped
up as an Egyptian mummy. I really think he is one; he is--he's King
Cheops. Cheops--(_aside to MRS. LYNX_)--oh, Mrs. Lynx, I'd give the
world to make him jealous. But what is the matter with you, have you
had words with your husband?

MRS. LY. I confess that we have had a trifling disagreement, this

MRS. COD. How delightful!--Coddle, why don't you go into a passion and
knock me down.

COD. My dear, if I were to go into a passion, and suddenly cool, as I
know I should, the checking of the perspiration would be the death of
me--I should die.

_Re-enter LYNX, dressed for walking._

LYNX. Good morning, my friends; I am going to leave you; don't you
hurry away on my account.

MRS. LY. There's no necessity for that; I shall be alone the whole day.

MRS. COD. (_To MRS. LYNX._)--Ah! you are a happy woman in possessing
such a husband! Look at him, Coddle; observe his manner--his air. Why
don't you dress in that fashion?

COD. Me! as thinly clad as Mr. Lynx is now--would you see me in my
grave? Ugh! I shudder to look at him.

MRS. COD. I'm sorry that you are going out.--(_To LYNX._)--I thought
to have passed a very pleasant morning in your society.

MRS. LY. (_Aside_)--I'm certain there's an understanding between
them.--(_Watching them with suspicion._)

MRS. COD. (_To LYNX_)--A word with you--(_she whispers LYNX, and
laughs_)--Eh? Ha! Ha! Ha! it would be very droll, now--would it not?

LYNX. Ha! Ha! very, indeed.

MRS. COD. I shall endeavour----

LYNX. Do, do--rely upon me. Ha! Ha!

MRS. COD. Ha! Ha! Ha!

LYNX. Adieu, my friends, adieu. Good morning, Mrs. L. If I do not
return by five, you need not expect me till late. Adieu.

[_Exit L. H._

MRS. LY. May I ask, madam, why you whispered my husband?

MRS. COD. A mere matter of pleasantry.

MRS. LY. Indeed!

MRS. COD. He's the most charming creature living, is that husband of
yours. I wish my poor drone was like him.

MRS. LY. I should be sorry to make your husband unhappy, madam--

MRS. COD. Do, do--make him wretched, there's a love--but for once.

MRS. LY. I don't comprehend you, madam--I can only observe, that your
conduct to my husband, a moment since, was as ill-mannered as it
seemed suspicious.

MRS. COD. He's a fine spirited man.--(_Looking at CODDLE, who is busy
wrapping himself closely up._)

MRS. LY. Indeed! pray, madam, what might be the subject of your

MRS. COD. I never betray confidence.

MRS. LY. Surely you are not that base woman, who, under the mask of
friendship, seeks to ruin my peace. I have watched your behaviour
before, madam, and I am now convinced there is some secret
correspondence existing between you and my husband; and how Mr. Coddle
can sit there, and affect to be blind to your actions, I am at a loss
to conceive.

COD. Blind--me affect to be blind--what is there to see, madam?

MRS. COD. (_Aside._)--This is delicious;--if Coddle would but listen
to her.

MRS. LY. To see!--quit my house, and from this moment I trust that
neither of you will ever enter it again.

COD. What have we done?

MRS. LY. (_To MRS. CODDLE._)--I look upon you, madam, as a dangerous

COD. So she is--my night-caps are never thoroughly aired.

MRS. LY. And if your husband can countenance your conduct, I am not so
lost to every sense of self-respect, as to submit to it.

MRS. COD. Bless me, Mrs. Lynx, what do you mean?

COD. (_Coming between them._)--Don't, don't, pray don't excite me; if
you get to words, I must interfere, and any interference, at this
moment, might be fatal.

MRS. LY. I shall not attempt to explain my insinuations--I only desire
that you will leave me to myself, and that your visits here may be
less frequent.

MRS. COD. Don't you stir from this house, Coddle, till you are
perfectly convinced of the baseness of her inuendoes. Be jealous, and
demand an explanation; if you don't, I'll tear the list from all the
doors at home.

MRS. LY. Will you compel me to ring the bell?

MRS. COD. Go into a rage, Mr. Coddle.

COD. I can't;--(_MRS. LYNX throws open a window, R. H._)--my love, we
are in a thorough draught; that woman wants to destroy me. Let us
leave the house, if you wish to see me alive an hour hence. Be
satisfied--I'll call on Mr. Lynx, and demand an explanation.

MRS. COD. But one word more----

COD. No, no, not one. Come, my dear--I've the rheumatics in my right
shoulder, already--I tremble from head to foot--I've taken cold, and
you'll have to nurse me for a month--Come, dear, come.

[_Exit L. H. dragging off MRS. CODDLE._

MRS. LY. (_Falling into a chair._)--Wretched woman that I am--why did
I ever give power to any man so to torment me? I'll now follow him,
and enjoy his disappointment.

MRS. COD. (_Without._)--Don't send up your name at present--the poor
creature is in a rabid state.--(_MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND heard without._)

MRS. Y. Mrs. Lynx won't mind us.

MRS. LY. (_Looking off, L. H._)--Who is this? Mr. and Mrs.
Younghusband! how provoking--just as I'm going out.--What can bring
them here? they are a couple that I can't endure; though married but
three months, they are perpetually contradicting and annoying each
other; if, now, they had suffered the five years of matrimony that I
have--there might be some excuse for them, but to disagree so early in
their career, is sad, indeed.

_Enter MR. and MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND, L. H._

MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND. (_Running to MRS. LYNX, and taking both her
hands._)--How d'ye do, dear? don't mind me and Y. coming in so
unceremoniously--we have called to give you some information.

YOUNGHUSBAND. How can you talk so absurdly, Louisa? we have not called
to give Mrs. Lynx any information.

MRS. Y. For what, then?

YOUNG. Merely to tell her that a person wishes to see her.

MRS. Y. Well, _that_ is information.

YOUNG. No, it isn't.

MRS. Y. Yes, it is.

YOUNG. How can that be?

MRS. Y. To tell any body of any matter is to inform them; and to
inform people, is, of course, to give them information. How you do
contradict me!

MRS. LY. What, then, is the information that you bring me?

MRS. Y. There, you hear, sir; Mrs. Lynx allows it to be information.

YOUNG. It can't be.

MRS. Y. But it is.

YOUNG. It isn't; you have not informed Mrs. Lynx of anything, yet.

MRS. Y. I should have done so, if you had not interrupted and
contradicted me, as you always do.

YOUNG. Allow me to tell Mrs. Lynx--you must know, madam, that some
years ago, my wife was sent to the boarding-school of Mrs. Dove, in

MRS. Y. No, it was in Kent.

YOUNG. In Sussex!

MRS. Y. In Kent, I tell you.

YOUNG. If you aggravate me in this manner, I'll go home again.

MRS. LY. Well--well.

MRS. Y. Last night, at a friend's house, we accidentally met Mr. and
Mrs. Dove--when she informed us that she had given up her school, and
was now in London for the purpose of collecting some old debts, and
amongst the names of the persons that she had to call on, was that of
a Mr. Lynx----

MRS. LY. My husband?

MRS. Y. Your husband.

YOUNG. Louisa, how can you? why will you thus agitate Mrs. Lynx?--you
are not sure the Mr. Lynx, that Mrs. Dove is looking for, is the
husband of our friend--we merely surmised that it was.

MRS. Y. I tell you, I'm certain it is the same.

YOUNG. You are not!

MRS. Y. I am.

YOUNG. It can't be the same.

MRS. Y. It is.

YOUNG. It isn't.

MRS. LYNX. Now, pray, don't trifle with me; think of my dreadful
suspense--think of my feelings at this moment.

MRS. Y. Mrs. Dove is now below, with her husband; shall I ask her to
walk up?--then she can relate this strange circumstance herself.

YOUNG. You ought first to tell Mrs. Lynx, who and what the people are,
before you introduce them to her.

MRS. Y. There is no necessity for it.

YOUNG. There is.

MRS. Y. There isn't.

YOUNG. I tell you, there is.

MRS. LYNX. Yes, yes--pray tell me.

MRS. Y. Well, then--Mrs. Dove, you must know, was a widow; and
formerly the mistress of a large boarding school; but has now retired,
after marrying her footman. They are the oddest couple you ever met
with. She is perpetually drilling her husband into politeness and
correct pronunciation, which the poor man will never comprehend as
long as he lives. Oh, had you but seen them last night! whenever a
bell rang, poor Mr. Dove could scarcely help starting from his chair,
and running to attend to it; and could only be checked by the alarming
eyes of Mrs. Dove. Ha! ha!--Oh, those eyes--how they did remind me of
my school-days! just the looks that she used to dart at us, poor
refractory girls.

YOUNG. My dear, why don't you keep to that portion of the narrative,
most interesting to Mrs. Lynx; she don't want to hear of great eyes
and refractory girls.

MRS. Y. I am sure I have mentioned all that is necessary.

YOUNG. You have not.

MRS. Y. I have.

YOUNG. You have not.

MRS. LY. Ask them to walk up, I shall then be satisfied.

MRS. Y. (_Calling._)--Step up, Mrs. Dove, and bring your husband with

YOUNG. There is no necessity for calling up Mr. Dove.

MRS. Y. There is.

YOUNG. There isn't.

MRS. Y. There is.

YOUNG. They are here; don't make a noise.

MRS. Y. 'Twas you that made the noise.

YOUNG. 'Twas not.

MRS. Y. It was.

_Enter MR. and MRS. DOVE._

MRS. Y. Mrs. Lynx--Mr. and Mrs. Dove.--Will you be kind enough to
relate to Mrs. Lynx the purport of your enquiry?

MRS. DOVE. The purport of my enquiry is to ascertain, whether the Mr.
Lynx, that I am informed is residing here, is the identical person
who, two years ago, placed a young lady under my care?

MRS. Y. A young lady! My husband place a young lady under your care?

YOUNG. Nay, madam, before you distress yourself, you had better be
assured that the Mr. Lynx alluded to, _is_ your husband.

MRS. DOVE. The gentleman's Christian cognomen was Lionel.

DOVE. Lionel Lynx, Esquire.

MRS. DOVE. Silence, my dear!

DOVE. That is what was on a trunk he sent to our house; that's all I
know, my precious.

MRS. LY. The name is perfectly correct.

MRS. DOVE. I was told that he had been in the army.

MRS. LY. Right, Madam.

MRS. DOVE. But had sold his commission, and married.

MRS. LY. You are right, Madam--it is the same; there is not the
slightest shadow of a doubt but 'tis the same;--and this person that
he placed with you, what was she?

MRS. DOVE. A young lady of great personal attractions.

MRS. LY. Ha!

DOVE. She played the harp diwinely.

MRS. DOVE. Divinely, dear,--think of your v's.

DOVE. Hang them we's--I shall never get over 'em.

MRS. DOVE. She was placed at my establishment, not so much with a view
to education, as with reference to the meeting with a comfortable and
respectable home at a moderate charge.

DOVE. A hundred a-year, and bring your own silver knife, fork, spoon,
and six towels!

MRS. DOVE. Hush, love, we must forget the school now!

MRS. LY. I never heard of this.--Who could the girl have been? What
was her age?

MRS. DOVE. At that time seventeen.

MRS. LY. Her name?

MRS. DOVE. Harriet Seymour.

MRS. LY. Where is she now?

MRS. DOVE. That question I am quite incompetent to answer--she resided
with me a year and a half--and at the end of that time suddenly

DOVE. We think she eloped, for every now and then somebody used to
come and sing under the windows, to such a degree that all the girls
in the house went raving mad.

MRS. DOVE. Silence, dear.

DOVE. Yes, darling.

MRS. DOVE. At the time of the young lady's disappearance there
remained a small balance in my favour on her account, for extra's, and
of which I think it probable that Mr. Lynx is not aware.

DOVE. Eight pound odd.

MRS. DOVE. Pounds, dear--speak in the plural.

DOVE. Pounds, love?

MRS. LY. I'm in a maze--bewildered--who can this girl have been? Did
she--did she seem attached to him?

MRS. DOVE. Very.

DOVE. He called once, and I happened to enter the room quite
promiscuously where they was.

MRS. DOVE. Where they were; _I_ was--they _were_.

DOVE. Where they were; and I saw the young lady a dissolving away into
tears upon his shoulder; I was then Mrs. D's. footman!

MRS. DOVE. Henry!

DOVE. Martha!

MRS. DOVE. How often have I told you never to touch--

DOVE. Oh, la! Ah, I forgot.

MRS. LY. 'Twas some victim to his villainy, no doubt. How to discover
the mystery--how to come upon him, when he may be unprepared for
equivocation! I have it--my friends,--(_to MR. and MRS.
YOUNGHUSBAND_)--If you should meet Mr. Lynx, let me implore you not to
breathe a syllable of this matter to him--let me be the first to tell
him. Pray oblige me by dining here to-morrow,--(_To MR. and MRS.
DOVE_)--you shall then be introduced to my husband, and should it
indeed be the person that placed that girl under your care, he cannot
dare to deny it. You, my friends--(_To MR. and MRS. Y._)--will also be
here--nay, I will invite every soul that I am acquainted with, and
publicly expose his villainy.

MRS. DOVE. We will do ourselves that honour.

MRS. LY. To-morrow, at five.

MRS. DOVE. We shall be punctual, Madam.

DOVE. (_Aside to MRS. D._)--You said you'd take me to the Jewological

MRS. DOVE. We must defer it, my dear.--(_Aside to DOVE._)

DOVE. That's the way you always serves me--you never promise to take
me any where, but I am continually disappinted.

MRS. DOVE. Pointed.

DOVE. Pointed. You use me shameful, dear.

MRS. DOVE. Don't be an idiot, love.

DOVE. You're a brute, precious.

MRS. DOVE. Henry.--(_Looking fiercely at him._)

DOVE. Oh them eyes--I never can answer 'em.

MRS. DOVE. Then to-morrow at five, Mrs. Lynx.

MRS. LY. I shall rely on you being here--you will not disappoint me?--

MRS. DOVE. Certainly not. Good morning, Madam.--Now, Henry, your arm.

MRS. LY. The servant shall see you to the door.--(_MRS. LYNX pulls a
bell-rope hanging by the side of the fire-place; a bell rings. DOVE
suddenly starts, and is running confusedly as if to answer it, when
MRS. DOVE checks him._)

MRS. DOVE. My lamb, you forget yourself.

DOVE. Deuce take them bells, I never can hear one without running to
answer it.

MRS. DOVE. Good morning, Mrs. Lynx--Good morning, Madam,--Good
morning, Sir--(_curtseying profoundly to each._)--Now, my dear,
(_aside to DOVE._)--Don't forget to leave the room like a
gentleman.--(_They approach the L. H. door, when they both make a
profound obeisance, and go off. MRS. LYNX falls in a chair, hiding her
face in her hands._)

MRS. Y. My dear Mrs. Lynx, pray don't allow this matter to affect you
so seriously.

YOUNG. Louisa, why do you check the feelings of our friend? you ought
to be aware that tears are a great relief when one is suffering from
mental agitation.

MRS. Y. No, they a'nt; a pretty relief, indeed, to break one's heart
with crying.

YOUNG. It is a relief.

MRS. Y. No it is'nt--how do you know?--you never cry, you harden'd

YOUNG. I prefer preserving my tears for a certain event.

MRS. Y. Ah, when you lose _me_.

YOUNG. Yes, dear.

MRS. Y. That's the kindest thing you have said since our marriage.

YOUNG. No it an't.

MRS. Y. Yes it is

YOUNG. It an't.

MRS. Y. It is.

MRS. LY. My dear friends--pray cease your bickering.

MRS. YOUNG. He will always contradict me.

MRS. LY. If you meet my husband, pray be silent on this matter, and be
here to-morrow, I beg; and should I be compelled to take a desperate
resource to conquer the feelings that now consume me, you will know
how to pity and to pardon me.--(_she sinks into a chair._)

MRS. Y. Come, Frederick, we'll soon leave poor Mrs. Lynx; people don't
like to have their sorrows intruded upon.

YOUNG. We ought rather to stay and console her.

MRS. Y. A charming consoler you are--how did you console me yesterday,
when that frightful bonnet was sent home?

YOUNG. 'Twas your own taste.

MRS. Y. It was not.

YOUNG. You insisted on having a fall of blond in the front of it.

MRS. Y. That is the thing I detest.

YOUNG. It is the very thing that you ordered.

MRS. Y. When I tried it on, you told me that I never looked so
frightful in all my life.

YOUNG. I didn't.

MRS. Y. You did--I'll burn it when I go home.

YOUNG. Indeed you shall not.

MRS. Y. I will--and I'll wear my dirty yellow one to vex you.

[_Exit L. H._

YOUNG. Louisa! how can you be so absurd. Louisa, why don't you wait
for me? you're the most aggravating woman I ever met with.

MRS. Y. (_Without._)--I shall go home alone.

YOUNG. You shall not--(_rushing out L. H._)

MRS. Y. I will--(_without._)

YOUNG. You shall not--(_without._)

MRS. Y. I will.

YOUNG. You shall not.

MRS. Y. I hate you.

YOUNG. You don't.

MRS. Y. I do.

YOUNG. You don't.

MRS. Y. I do.

(_The voices of MR. and MRS. Y. are heard contradicting each other,
till they gradually cease._)

MRS. LY. I surely never felt the passion of jealousy till this moment;
all my past suspicions have been mere faults of temper, compared with
the restlessness, the wretched thoughts, and sinking of the heart,
that I now endure. Who can this girl be? Where is she now? _He_ knows
full well--no doubt he visits her--may at this moment be in her
society. I'll leave the house--him--all--for this agony is more than I
can bear--(_she is rushing out L. H. when LYNX appears._)

LYNX. Where are you going in such haste?

MRS. LY. (_Controlling her feelings._)--So soon returned.

LYNX. I had forgotten my purse--(_going to desk, on a table up the

MRS. LY. I hope you have been gratified by your walk?

LYNX. Yes, perfectly.

MRS. LY. Of course you were not so much annoyed at your
disappointment, but you sought amends in some more certain amusement?

LYNX. Yes, dear--I returned to you.

MRS. LY. You little thought that your note of assignation--your note
of "mere business," was written by me.

LYNX. It was, eh? And pray, what end has the paltry trick answered?

MRS. LY. Your immediate attention to it, has convinced me of your

LYNX. Indeed! Could you think of no better plan to convict
me?--(_Taking a chair._)

MRS. LY. I have little occasion to tax my invention further, Sir; I
now feel quite assured of my misery.

LYNX. Of what misery?

MRS. LY. The possession of a husband, who practices
concealment.--(_Aside_)--I did not intend to breathe a syllable of
what I have heard; but I cannot resist. I must tell him--perhaps he
may be guiltless. Lionel! is the name of Harriet Seymour known to you?

LYNX. (_Starting from his seat_)--Who has dared to utter that name to
you? who has dared to breathe a word of that person?

MRS. LY. Ha! now I am, indeed, firmly--wretchedly convinced. What,
Sir! your agitation leaves you defenceless?--Where are your arts--your
falsehoods--your equivocations, now?

LYNX. Who has been here?

MRS. LY. I shall not name.

LYNX. By heaven, you shall.--(_Seizing her arm._)

MRS. LY. Hold, Sir! would you use violence? Would you conceal your
shame, by rage? Listen to me! Ere I quite decide upon my course, I
will give you one opportunity of justifying yourself--one chance of a
full and fair explanation. Promise me to be at home to-morrow,--I will
not, in the mean time, allude to this matter, by a single word; no,
no--till then I will conquer my feelings and be silent. I shall be
sorry to proceed in the revenge that I contemplate; but should I have
cause--remember, 'twas your own hand that cast down the fire-brand
here; and if I do take it up, and set the home of our happiness in
flames, you alone are to blame.

[_Exit, R. H._

LYNX. What can she mean? Does she threaten me with retaliation? Who
can have been here--through what channel can she have heard? But I
must avoid all explanation; I dare not reveal aught connected with
that unhappy girl.

_Enter CODDLE, L. H._

COD. Excuse my coming in so unceremoniously--I knew you were here--I
saw you come home--merely called to oblige Mrs. Coddle. There's that
window still open; permit me to shut it.--(_He crosses to R. H., and
pulls down the window._)--Mrs. Lynx has hinted to my wife that a
familiarity exists between you and her, and one that I ought not to
shut my eyes to; now, I candidly confess that I have opened them as
wide as I can, and what Mrs. Lynx can possibly see I am at a loss to
guess. But entirely to oblige my wife, I call here, at the risk of my
life--as I did not intend coming out any more to-day--to ask if such a
familiarity really exists? Mrs. Coddle demands it, for my own
satisfaction. If I am not satisfied, she insists on my fighting you;
and if I am, she is determined to make Mrs. Lynx beg her pardon. Now,
what is to be done?

LYNX. My dear Sir, you well know the temper of my wife, and the pains
that she takes to make herself wretched. Be assured that her
suspicions are groundless.

COD. I know they are; and I am convinced it has all originated in my
wife's anxiety to excite me.

LYNX. A word with you;--(_bringing CODDLE forward_)--I left you here
when I went out this morning--did any one call during your stay?

COD. No one but Mr. and Mrs. Younghusband.

LYNX. (_Aside._)--Surely they can't have heard--no--no--yet they may.
Ha, a thought strikes me. Sir, you have more than professed a
friendship for me?

COD. And have proved it, too. Didn't I visit you every week, when you
lodged in that airy situation at Hampstead?

LYNX. My wife has, by some means, yet unknown to myself, discovered my
connexion with a young female.

COD. Oh you villain--why don't you wear a Welsh wig? you would escape
all these troubles, then?

LYNX. I am compelled to avoid all explanation respecting her.

COD. Well?

LYNX. 'Tis in your power to relieve me from my embarrassment.

COD. In what way?

LYNX. This young female, I, some time since, placed at a country
school for protection----

COD. You rogue!

LYNX. She disappeared, and all trace of her had been lost.

COD. Well?

LYNX. My wife has this moment mentioned her name----

COD. Then, of course, she has discovered your trick?

LYNX. You must publicly declare this girl to be your own.

COD. What?

LYNX. Your own daughter, and that to save your secret, I undertook her

COD. Bless you--what would Mrs. Coddle say? My dear boy she'd murder
me. I could not support such an assertion for the world--how could I
ever look in my wife's face afterwards?

LYNX. With more confidence than were she to know----

COD. What? (_LYNX whispers CODDLE, who staggers back to a chair in
great alarm._)--I'm a dead man!

LYNX. I know more than you thought, Mr. Coddle.--Now, Sir, you see the
plot is not one of such very great difficulty to execute. If you will
not assist me, I must proclaim--

COD. Not a word, on your life--plunge me into a cold bath, make me
sleep a whole night on the top of the Monument--compel me to do any
thing for which I have a horror--but breathe not a word of _that_--of

LYNX. Do, then, as I request you.

COD. I will--I swear it--there--(_falls on both his knees._)

LYNX. Save _my_ secret, and I will preserve _yours_.



_An Apartment in the house of MR. CODDLE; windows at the back with
curtains; the doors are edged with list and leather. Table and chairs;
an easy chair in the centre of the stage; MRS. CODDLE discovered at
the table, a note in her hand._

MRS. COD. How very odd! how very strange! though this note arrived
last night, I have scarcely done anything since but read
it.--(_Reads._)--"My dear Mrs. Coddle, pray pardon the warmth of my
temper that led me to use certain expressions to you, of which, at the
time, I was not conscious--though now, on recollection of them, I
express my sorrow. Forgive me, and dine with us at five to-morrow, do
not dissappoint me on your life, as I have a strong reason for
inviting you; bring Coddle with you, of course. Sincerely yours,
Emmeline Lynx." What a strange woman! who would suppose, that
yesterday, she desired me to quit the house and never enter there
again. Well, I'm resolved to go. What a length of time Coddle takes
for dressing; 'tis now half-past four, and I have been ready this
hour.--(_She knocks at R. H. D._)--Coddle, you drone, make haste.

COD. (_Within._)--I shall be ready immediately--I am now putting on my
fourth waistcoat.

MRS. COD. And he wears _six_--how the man can exist in such a state, I
know not; and what is the matter with him, I am equally at a loss to
guess; he has been overpowered with nervous agitation, and in a high
fever all the morning--has been talking in his sleep all night. I
could only catch the words "Dont,--I'll say any thing--declare any
thing--but don't;"--the man has something on his mind--what can it
be?--He surely can't have committed any crime--a robbery, nor a
murder?--oh, the monster! I must question him.--(_Enter CODDLE,
R. H. D., dressed for a dinner party._)--Well, my dear, are you

COD. Not much--I feel very faint.

MRS. COD. Give me your hand.--(_CODDLE presents his hand
timidly._)--Dear--dear--what a burning fever you are in--your hands
are like live coals; and what a pulse.--(_Feeling his
pulse._)--Heaven's, Samuel!--you are ill!

COD. I am.

MRS. COD. And the cause is not so much bodily infirmity as mental

COD. Lord!--do you--do you think so?

MRS. COD. You are fainting--let me open the windows.

COD. No--no--not for worlds.

MRS. COD. What has caused this fever?

COD. I--I--don't know.

MRS. COD. Coddle, your mind is diseased.

COD. My dear, don't speak to me in that fierce manner, you make me
tremble from head to foot.

MRS. COD. You pass'd a wretched night.

COD. I did.

MRS. COD. You talk'd in your sleep.

COD. No!--(_Alarmed._)--Did I--what did I say?

MRS. COD. Sufficient to rouse my suspicions.

COD. I have been criminating myself--'twas while I was dreaming of
being hanged.--(_Aside._)--What _will_ become of me?

MRS. COD. Tell me--what is this matter that has so suddenly
disconcerted you?

COD. Ah--she don't know--I breathe again.

MRS. COD. Answer me, Sir; what have you done?

COD. I--I--left off my life-preserving under-waistcoat, yesterday.

MRS. COD. Base equivocator--you shall have no rest, depend upon it,
till I am perfectly acquainted with the cause of your agitation. I
have watched your actions, Sir, more than you are aware of; 'tis
something in which Mr. Lynx is concerned; I observed you, when you
returned from his house yesterday, you came home quite an altered
man--you that were not to be roused by any thing that did not
interfere with your own immediate comfort, seemed suddenly to have
changed your nature: the servant left your room door open, unchecked;
a broken pane close to your ear escaped your notice--you ate no
supper--you ordered no fire in your bed-room--and your sleep was
disturbed by sighs and groans, and words of guilt.--Ha!--I have made
you tremble--now, Sir, I shall leave you, and in the meantime you will
do well to prepare for a confession that I am resolved to wring from
you.--(_Aside._)--I have shaken him from his lethargy at last.

[_Exit, L. H._

COD. I am a lost man--I knew my day of reckoning would arrive. Mary
suspects something, that's clear--um!--and I'm going out to dinner
too--what a dinner it will be to me; it must be a feast of poison, and
a flow of woe--if my secret is preserved, my promise to Lynx must lead
to a commotion.--Who can this girl be that I undertake to own? Ha!
ha!--now I think of it, I am safe; he _dare_ not betray me, he is as
much in _my_ power as I am in _his_--yet how could he have discovered
my unhappy situation? He won't acknowledge that. No--no; he considers
that mystery adds to his strong hold upon me. I have borrowed a book
of criminal jurisprudence, from my attorney.--I want to learn the
utmost penalty of the law for my offence.--(_He takes a book from his
pocket and turns over the leaves._)--Here it
is--bigamy!--(_Reads._)--"If guilty,"--what? "_transportation for
life._" Oh!--(_Falling in a chair._)--Think of my being at Botany
Bay--working night and day--summer and winter--in trousers without
lining--only a shirt on my back--and a chain round my leg; no umbrella
to put up when it rains, no such thing as a yard of Welch flannel
within a thousand miles of me, and nothing aired for me--I should
die--the first damp night would send me to the tomb of the

_Re-enter MRS. CODDLE, introducing MR. and MRS. DISMAL._

MRS. COD. Come in, come in; there is nobody here but Coddle.

COD. Ah, Mr. Dismal!--I was thinking of you.

MRS. COD. Mr. and Mrs. D. have also received an invitation to dine at
Lynx's to-day--and have called, in passing, to know if we were also

MRS. DIS. How ill poor Mr. Coddle looks!

DIS. What is the matter with him?

MRS. COD. I'm sure I can't tell, he keeps the cause of his illness a
profound secret.

MRS. DIS. He's like me--he loves to pine in solitude, and brood over
unrevealed sorrows.

DIS. You love to be a fool.

MRS. COD. Our friends are as much surprised at receiving an invitation
from Mrs. Lynx as we were.

MRS. DIS. For the last time we called there the poor woman thought
proper to be jealous of _me_.

DIS. There was only that wanting to prove her madness.

MRS. DIS. But she has a cause for her jealousy.

DIS. Certainly, when you are present.

MRS. DIS. Didn't we see him, yesterday, following a young person past
our house?

DIS. What of that? 'tis a natural impulse to which our sex are
peculiarly subject.

MRS. COD. Except Mr. Coddle--were Venus herself to rise from the sea
before him, he'd take to his heels for fear of catching cold from the

MRS. DIS. Tell Mr. Coddle the strange result of our inquiries,
respecting Mr. Lynx's conduct.

DIS. Pooh! tell him yourself.

MRS. DIS. The young person that we saw Mr. Lynx following, and
striving to speak to, was joined by an elderly lady in black.

COD. Eh! an elderly lady in black--'twas she, he told me she was in

MRS. DIS. Of a very masculine appearance--Mr. Lynx seemed to enter
into earnest conversation with her; when they parted, the two ladies
entered a boarding-house, next door to us; our servant, gossiping with
the footman, there ascertained that the elderly lady in black----

COD. Well----

MRS. DIS. Had just arrived from Antigua----

MRS. COD. Where your property is situated.--(_To CODDLE._)

MRS. DIS. That she had taken lodgings there for a short time, her
object being to discover her husband, who had left her in the West
Indies, and whose name, strange to say, was----

COD. (_Who has started up during MRS. D's narrative, and is regarding
her with intense curiosity, now falls back into his chair._)--Oh!

MRS. COD. What's the matter?--what's the matter?

DIS. He's fainted----

MRS. DIS. Here, here are my salts.

DIS. Open the windows--open the windows.

MRS. COD. No, no, you will kill him if you do.--(_DISMAL makes to the
windows, but is checked by MRS. CODDLE; CODDLE, on hearing that the
windows are to be opened, is about to start from his chair, but checks
himself and resumes his position._)

MRS. DIS. Get him some water--ring the bell.

MRS. COD. Stay stay, I'll go myself.--(_MRS. CODDLE runs off
R. H. F. E. CODDLE suddenly starts up between MR. and MRS. DISMAL, and
takes a hand of each._)

COD. As you love me--if you do not wish to see me lifeless at your
feet, breathe not a syllable relative to the elderly lady in
black--mention not her name.

DIS. 'Twas your own----

COD. I know it, I know it--'tis a terrible secret; a story of horror
and despair; when we are alone, you shall know all--but not a word
now. I beg--I implore--I pray--ah, my wife!--(_He falls back again
into his chair._)

_Re-enter MRS. CODDLE, with a glass of water._

MRS. DIS. He's better now.

DIS. Much better.

COD. (_Affecting to revive._)--Considerably better.

MRS. COD. I don't wonder at your fainting, my only surprize is that
you can breathe at all, in such an atmosphere; there's not a breath of
air permitted to enter the room. Phew! I'm stifled; excuse me a
moment, my friends, I wish to speak to Coddle alone.--(_DISMAL and his
wife are going._)--No, no--don't leave the room.

COD. (_Aside._)--What can she be going to say?

MRS. COD. Samuel!

COD. My love!

MRS. COD. Surely your agitation, and your sudden faintness cannot
arise from any apprehension?

COD. Of what?

MRS. COD. That this elderly lady, in black, is----

COD. No, no, no--oh, dear! no, no.

MRS. COD. You anticipate me--not what?

COD. Not--I don't know? what were you going to say?

MRS. COD. I have very strange and very terrible suspicions! 'tis
surely no poor creature that you, in the hey-day of your youth----

COD. No, no, no--my dear! How can you think--how can you dream of such
a thing? I never had any hey-day--never; don't think that of me. Come,
come--let us go to Lynx's to dinner. Get ready, dear; get ready.

MRS. COD. I strongly suspect you.--(_MRS. CODDLE goes up the stage,
and throws a shawl on her shoulders._)

COD. What will become of me? If I escape the imputation of bigamy, the
subject of that girl will be sufficient to bring my wife's vengeance
on my head; I'll run and drown myself in a warm bath. I'll--no, no--I
must rouse, I must rouse; I must summon all my courage--all my
fortitude--and bring out what little of the devil I have left in me.

MRS. COD. Now, Coddle, I'm quite ready.

COD. So am I.--(_Putting on his hat._)--Come along, I shall be very
gay to-day; you will wonder what possesses me. I shall be so gay; come
Mrs. Dismal, take my arm, my dear; 'tis bad taste to walk with one's
wife. D., look to Mrs. Coddle!

MRS. COD. The man's mad----

DIS. Raving.

COD. You shall see me to advantage, to-day; I feel a new man; you may
open all the doors and windows in the house. I'll do any thing
desperate, to-day--walk to Lynx's, without my coat, hat, any
thing--come, my love.--Come Dismal.--Fol de rol, de rol lol.--(_CODDLE
dances off with MRS. DISMAL, L. H._)

MRS. COD. Mad!

DISMAL. Gone, quite gone.

[_Exeunt following._


_A Room at LYNX'S._

_Enter MRS. LYNX, R. H._

MRS. LYNX. The time has almost arrived that will either relieve me
from the dreadful suspense that I now endure, or plunge me still
deeper into misery; since yesterday I have scarcely uttered a word in
his presence; I have religiously adhered to the resolution that I
would not touch upon a subject that has so filled me with conflicting
emotions; but to-day, in an hour, I shall know the worst; and if he
_be_ the guilty one, that I am madly certain he is, his friends and
the world shall know how I have been wronged, and for what purpose I
have assembled them here.--(_Produces a letter._)--Were it not for
tokens like these, I should almost think that I had ceased to
charm--had ceased to be looked upon even with interest, by the meanest
of earth's creatures; here is one that tells me he loves me; my
husband once told me so, but then I was younger and had a free heart
to give; that now, alas, is gone for ever; here is one who offers me
wealth--splendour and affection--if I will forsake a husband that
slights me--that torments and maddens me--what shall I do? I have now
the means of revenge--of a full and bold revenge. Shall I use them but
to awe my husband, or shall I listen, and so make him rue the day that
he first roused my jealousy? But he may not be guilty--this girl may
have no claim on him--beyond one of compassion or kindness. I may have
suspected wrongly, and he may still have a lingering love for me, that
may one day revive in all its early strength; and then were I to know
him innocent--and myself the only guilty one, I should go mad--should
die--should--oh, heaven help me.--(_She falls exhausted by her
feelings, in a chair; MR. and MRS. DOVE heard, L. H._)

MRS. DOVE. Now, my dear Henry, mind your behaviour.

MRS. LY. Ah! those people have arrived; my husband has neither seen
them, nor heard of their having been here. I shall watch him well when
they first meet.

_Enter MR. and MRS. DOVE, L. H._

MRS. DOVE. Good day to you, Madam--I hope you find yourself in perfect

DOVE. (_Bowing._)--Good day, Madam, feel yourself pretty well?

MRS. DOVE. Henry, my dear, silence.

MRS. LY. I am obliged to you for being so faithful to your promise.

MRS. DOVE. 'Tis the height of ill-manners to disappoint one's friends
in an _invite_ to dinner.

DOVE. And very stupid too--to refuse _wittles_.

MRS. DOVE. Henry, my dear--

DOVE. My darling, you never will let me talk.

MRS. DOVE. Not till you know how, my love.

DOVE. But my dear, if you don't let me practise, how am I ever to
_en_quire the art?

MRS. DOVE. _Ac_quire, verb active, to gain; _in_quire, verb neuter, to
ask questions--acquire the art.

DOVE. Acquire the _hart!_

MRS. DOVE. Don't aspirate, love.

DOVE. Oh, bother, dear.

MRS. LY. Let me beg of you not to allude to this young person till
after dinner, I will then lead the conversation to that subject--and
then I hope you will freely and truly state all that you may know
respecting her.

_Enter LYNX, R. H._

LYNX. Emmeline, I--(_Seeing DOVE and his wife._)--What! the mystery is
now clear--that woman has traced me--has told my wife, but my secret
is safe.

MRS. DOVE. Ah, Mr. Lynx, how d'ye do?--surprised to see me here, no

LYNX. No, madam--no.

MRS. DOVE. 'Tis some time since we met.

LYNX. Almost a year, I think.

DOVE. Eleven months! I ought to know, because we warn't united when
Mr. Lynx used to give me half a crown for----

MRS. DOVE. Henry--

MRS. LY. I was informed that you knew these good people?--(_To LYNX._)

LYNX. Oh yes, my dear--they are my very old friends.

MRS. LY. Then I am happy in being the cause of renewing a friendship
that seems so warm on either side; come, Mr. Dove, lead me to the
dining-room--our friends have arrived, no doubt. Mr. Dove, will you
favour me with your arm?

DOVE. Eh!--(_Looking confused at his wife._)--What am I to do?

MRS. DOVE. Give Mrs. Lynx your arm.

MRS. LY. Lionel, will you bring Mrs. Dove?

LYNX. (_Offering his arm to MRS. DOVE._)--Certainly.

DOVE. (_Leading off MRS. LYNX, L. H._)--Well, I declare, this _is_
genteel life.

MRS. DOVE. Thank you, Sir, you are very kind.--(_LYNX leads off MRS.
DOVE, L. H., CODDLE looks on R. H., quite pale._)

COD. I have been running all over the house to look for Lynx,--I
thought I heard his voice here--how I tremble! he must know that Mr.
and Mrs. Dismal have seen that wretched woman--though they have
promised secrecy, yet I cannot expect they will be always
silent.--(_Re-enter LYNX._)--Oh, my friend! I have been looking for
you--they are all at dinner, but I can't eat in the state of mind I am
in. Mr. and Mrs. Dismal saw you talking to her.

LYNX. To whom?

COD. The elderly lady in black.

LYNX. They did.

COD. Don't--don't look so astonished, you frighten me.

LYNX. They surely will not talk of it?

COD. They have promised to be secret, but what will be my feelings, in
their presence!--when either of them speak, I shall die with

LYNX. Leave it to me; we will see this woman to-morrow, and make some
arrangement with her.

COD. I'll say any thing--do any thing--give any thing, only conceal
the affair from my wife.

LYNX. Depend upon me--and be at peace. But be sure you do not
equivocate in the question of this girl. The school-mistress with whom
she lived is now here--at my very table. Remember! I, at your request,
placed the girl under her care.

COD. Yes.

LYNX. Because you did not dare confess to your wife that you had
incurred such a responsibility,--but now you are anxious to
acknowledge her.

COD. What will Mary say?

LYNX. Remember, you have sworn it.

COD. I have, but tell me--who is this girl?

LYNX. That is a mystery that I dare not disclose, even to you.

COD. Bless me! what two reprobates we are.

LYNX. Come to the drawing-room, I must make some excuse for your
leaving the table.--Now be bold.

COD. Yes, yes.

LYNX. Do not equivocate.

COD. No, no.

LYNX. On your moral courage depends your own safety, and my happiness.

COD. I know it, I know it.

LYNX. And the least appearance of timidity may ruin us; now, are you

COD. Wait a moment.--(_Buttoning his coat up to his throat with great
resolution._)--When I expect to be excited, I like to be guarded
against taking cold--against the effects of draughts and currents of
air. My courage is rising--it's up--now I'm ready--give me your
arm--there, look at me! Did you ever see a finer illustration of
desperate courage? Never.--Now to the field of action--to mortal
strife--and death or victory.

_Exit, dragging off LYNX, L. H._


_A Drawing Room; in the centre a large loo-table, on which is set out
a complete dessert; all the party are discovered; CODDLE occupies the
R. H. corner, in an easy-chair; MRS. LYNX is seated beside him; next
together, MRS. DISMAL next to him, then MRS. CODDLE, and MRS.
YOUNGHUSBAND; MR. DOVE occupies the L. H. corner._

ALL, (_but CODDLE and LYNX_).--Astonishing! to keep the matter a
secret so long. Strange! strange!

LYNX. Now, let us drop the subject. Mrs. Coddle, I trust that you will
not respect or love your husband the less, for this late disclosure?

MRS. COD. Oh! no, no; I merely feel hurt that he should have thought
it necessary to have concealed the circumstance. Had I been a violent,
jealous, bad-tempered woman, there might have been some cause for
secresy; but as every body knows what a kind, indulgent creature I
really am, he might have made me his confidant! and the poor girl
should have been brought home. Where is she now?

LYNX. Quite safe, depend upon it; I will explain all at another

MRS. LY. (_Aside._)--Falsehood, all falsehood! I'm convinced.

LYNX. (_To his wife._)--Now, my dear, I trust you are perfectly
satisfied; and in this instance, I hope, you will confess that you
were in error.

MRS. LY. Certainly, as I have no opposing evidence to the veracity of
your story; though, still, I think it very--very strange, that you
should have so troubled yourself on Mr. Coddle's account, if 'twere a
mere act of friendship; the most famed heroes of antiquity have never
been surpassed.

CODDLE. Ha! ha! now I feel happy; now my mind is at ease, and I'll be
comfortable. How that Mrs. Dismal fixes her eyes on me! Now fill your
glasses; Mr. Dove, take care of your lady.

DOVE. Yes, yes!--(_A knock and ring heard._)

LYNX. Some arrival.--(_DOVE jumps up and runs off, L. H._)

MRS. DOVE. (_Starting up._)--Henry, come back. I declare the man has
gone to the door. Henry!

_DOVE re-enters._

DOVE. The door's opened; there's an individual----

MRS. DOVE. Sit down, my dear, sit down.

DOVE. (_Aside._)--I never shall get over answering the door, when a
knock comes.--(_Voices heard without, in altercation._)

A VOICE. You mistake; you do, indeed!--You mistake.

COD. (_Apprehensively._)--What is it?

DOVE. An individual----

MRS. DOVE. Silence, Henry!

MRS. LY. (_Rising._)--The servant is in altercation with some one at
the door; who can it be?

LYNX. (_Rising._)--Ring the bell.

MRS. LY. No, no--I'll go myself.

[_Exit L. H._

COD. I have a horrid presentiment of evil; a moment since I was
glowing like a furnace, with joy--and now I freeze again, with terror.

MRS. COD. What's the matter, dear? do you feel cold?

COD. Yes--yes, ugh!--(_Shuddering._)

MRS. COD. And I'm dying for air.

MRS. YOUNG. So am I, Mrs. Coddle.

YOUNG. I am sure you are not.


DISMAL. Shall I open the folding doors?

COD. No--no!

DOVE. _I_ feel very _languishing._

MRS. DOVE. Henry! _languid._

DOVE. Languid!--how she does take me up before people.--(_aside._)

COD. Hush! here's Mrs. Lynx.

_MRS. LYNX re-enters, a letter in her hand. CODDLE regards her with
anxiety. MRS. LYNX is trembling with agitation._

MRS. LYNX. It was--it was as I suspected, a black falsehood.

LYNX. What is the matter?

COD. I shall fall flat on the floor, something is going to happen.

MRS. LY. (_To LYNX._)--Restrain your curiosity, sir; you will know all
in a moment, there is a lady below.

COD. I thought so.

MRS. LYNX. An elderly lady in black.

COD. (_Falling back in his chair, in utter despair._)--I'm a dead man.

MRS. LY. She tells me that her name is Coddle.----

MRS. COD. (_Starting up._)--What!

MRS. LY. (_Pointing to CODDLE._)--And that she is that man's wife.

COD. (_Groaning._)--Oh! I wish I could vanish through the floor.

MRS. LY. This letter is for you, Madam.

MRS. COD. For me!--(_She tears the letter open, a marriage certificate
falls on the floor._)--What is this?--Oh, I can't read it--I shall
faint, I have no power to read, pray take it--some one, Mr.--any
body--pray read it.--(_She holds out the letter, DOVE takes it._)

ALL, (_but CODDLE and MRS. DOVE._)--Read it, Mr. Dove.

DOVE. I--I can't.

MRS. DOVE. Henry--how can you so expose yourself?

DOVE. You read it, Ma'am.--(_Giving it to MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND._)

MRS. YOUNG. Shall I read it, Mrs. Coddle?

MRS. COD. Yes, yes, aloud--aloud--let the whole world hear it.

MRS. Y. Reading--"Madam, the writer of this is an injured woman--the

COD. That's me--oh--

MRS. Y. "The monster to whom you are married, has another wife. I am
that person; the enclosed is a copy of my marriage certificate--'tis
dated twenty years back; my object in coming to England is to claim a
maintenance, and expose the villain.

     "Your obedient Servant,

          "Belvidera Coddle."

ALL. Bless me! dear, dear, dear! What a wretch--what a monster!

MRS. LYNX. The poor woman had better be asked up.

CODDLE. (_Springing from his chair._)--No, no! I'd sooner face a
thousand fiends than look once again on that dreadful being. My dear,
my love!--(_to his wife_)--you don't know what I have suffered--what I
have endured through that woman! In the first place, I was
decoyed--trapped; she left me--I once thought she was dead--but----

MRS. COD. (_Rising with dignity._)--Silence Samuel! you have deceived
me; I could have pardoned any thing but this. As to the subject of the
poor girl, that you have stated belongs to you, that I freely forgave.

MRS. LYNX. (_Violently._)--'Tis false, Mrs. Coddle! I asked the
question of the bearer of that letter--I thought that she might be the
parent of the girl--but, no, no; your husband has but supported mine
in a falsehood; he never had a daughter. And you, sir,--(_to
LYNX_)--are discovered and laid bare; but I shall leave you this day
for ever.

ALL. Nay, nay.

MRS. COD. And I shall quit _my_ wretch.--(_She advances to CODDLE, who
buries his face in his hands._)--From this moment, sir, we separate;
go to your wife, the woman who lawfully claims you, and never look me
in the face again. We were an ill-assorted pair from the first; but
your affected apathy is now accounted for--it arose from an evil
conscience. Cold-hearted, deliberate deceiver! farewell for
ever!--(_MRS. CODDLE rushes out, L. H._)

CODDLE. Mary, come back; come back; hear me.--(_He runs to the L., but
suddenly stops._)--I dare not follow her; I shall meet the other. No,
no; I must fly--I must leave the country--'tis now no home for me.

LYNX. Sit still, my friend; be composed.

CODDLE. I can't--I'll leave the house--I'll---- Ah, this
door--(_pointing R. H._)--leads to the canal; I'll drown myself--I'm
desperate enough--the sun has been on the water all day, so I've
nothing to fear--I am resolved upon my course--_felo-de-see_, nothing
else--adieu, my friends--I'm a discovered, a guilty monster--and this
is the last time that you will ever see the distracted, wretched,
Samuel Coddle.--(_CODDLE rushes off, R. H._)

MR. YOUNG. (_Starting up._)--The man will drown himself!

MRS. Y. No, he wont--sit still; you will only make matters worse.

DISMAL. Sit still all of you--I know him--when he comes in sight of
water, his courage will cool; sit still.

MRS. DOVE. Shall my dear Dove follow him?

DOVE. I can't swim, duck!

DISMAL. No, no; sit still.

MRS. LY. (_Who has kept her eyes fixed on her husband throughout the
scene._)--What, sir--not a word! _quite_ confounded!

LYNX. Emmeline!--(_rising_)--appearances, I confess, are against me;
but you know not all. You know not the cause which compels me to this
course; be patient.

MRS. LY. I have been patient long enough, and will endure no more;
this is the last moment that I pass under your roof.

LYNX. Are you mad? will you hear me?

MRS. LY. No, sir.

LYNX. If you once quit the house, we never meet again.

MRS. LY. That is my wish, sir.

LYNX. Be warned--if you leave me now--it _must_--it _shall_ be for

MRS. LY. It is, sir, for ever.--(_Rushes out L. H. All the company

LYNX. Nay, nay, keep your seats, my friends--keep your seats. I will
not have a soul stir a foot to expostulate with her; let her take her
own course. I have been in error, I confess; but not to the extent
that she supposes; her causeless jealousies--her unceasing suspicions
have wearied me, and she is free to go--pray do not be disturbed on my
account--make yourselves happy; I am sorry that our meeting should
have ended thus--but my wife is to blame--she would not hear--would
not listen to me, and now--(_aside._)--I leave this house, never to

[_Exit, R. H._

DOVE. Now _he's_ gone--shall I follow him, love?

MRS. DOVE. No, no; sit still, dear.

MRS. Y. Call him back! Mr. Lynx!--(_calling._)--he'll do himself a
mischief--I know he will.

YOUNG. He wont, sit still--if you follow and torment him as you do me,
sometimes--you will, indeed, drive him to desperation.

MRS. Y. _I_ follow and torment you, sir?

YOUNG. You do--often--often.

MRS. Y. You're an aggravating man, and----

MRS. DOVE. (_Rising._)--Nay, nay; dear, dear; pray don't get to
words--my darling, Henry, hand that lady some wine; sit still, there's
a dear.--(_to MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND_)--Emulate Mr. Dove and me, we never
utter a cross word to each other--do we, dear?

DOVE. No, love.--(_Handing wine to MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND._)

MRS. Y. Take it away, sir, I don't want wine. Oh, sir, you need not
sit there looking so fierce; (_to YOUNGHUSBAND_)--I was certain we
should have a disagreement before the day was out; you contradicted me
about my silver thimble--you insisted that aunt Sarah gave it me.

YOUNG. So she did.

MRS. Y. She didn't--'twas uncle Tolloday gave it me.

YOUNG. 'Twas aunt Sarah.

MRS. Y. Uncle Tolloday.

YOUNG. You're a provoking woman.

MRS. Y. You're a hideous man.

YOUNG. I'm going home.

MRS. Y. I am not. I shall never go home any more.

YOUNG. That wont break my heart.

MRS. Y. _Your_ heart! you never had one.

YOUNG. I had once.

MRS. Y. Never.

YOUNG. You drive me to madness; I shall go home; and I can only tell
you, madam, since you threaten me, that when _you_ arrive there, you
will receive no welcome from me.

MRS. Y. Do you mean that?

YOUNG. I do.--(_He rushes off R._)

MRS. Y. Then I'll go to my aunt Sarah;--he shall never see me again,
an aggravating creature. How I could ever marry him, I can't think! It
was uncle Tolloday that gave me the silver thimble--I know it was; but
he _will_ contradict me. He does it on purpose to vex me--and oppose
me--and worry me--and break my heart; but I'll go this moment to my
aunt's, and I'll never--never set foot in his house again.

[_Exit, L. H._

MRS. DOVE. Dear, dear! what wretched lives some people do lead, don't
they, love?

DOVE. Yes, dear.

MRS. DIS. (_To DISMAL._)--Just like you brutes of men--It's quite
heart-breaking to see how we poor creatures are treated!

DIS. What is it to you; nobody ill treats you!

MRS. DIS. _You_ do; I've been sitting here for this hour, and you have
never spoken a word to me.

DIS. I had nothing to say.

MRS. DIS. And though you know how fond I am of the wing of a fowl, you
would send me a leg at dinner.

DIS. You women always want the wing.

MRS. DIS. I'm a wretched woman.

MRS. DOVE. My dear Henry, can't you console poor Mrs. Dismal?

DOVE. Oh yes, love! have a hapricot, Ma'am?

MRS. DOVE. _An_ apricot--Henry, dear, you mis-apply your indefinite

DOVE. Do I?--console the lady yourself, love.

MRS. DIS. The fact is--I had no business to marry you.

DIS. Now you speak the truth, we both ought to have known better; when
people have lived single for fifty years, they should learn to look on
matrimony as a misery they have luckily escaped.

MRS. DIS. You need not allude to my age, sir, before people.

DIS. What does it matter? who cares how old you are? you're fifty
odd--so am I; and we have been married a year and a half--more fool
I--more fool you.

MRS. DIS. (_Crosses L._)--I'm going home.

DIS. Well, go.

MRS. DIS. Don't you intend to come with me?

DIS. No.

MRS. DIS. You're an unkind man, and if we never meet again--I sha'n't
be sorry.

DIS. Then the gratification will be mutual.

MRS. DIS. Indeed! I shall take you at your word, sir--(_going_)--but,
remember, all my property is settled on myself.

[_Exit L. H._

DIS. Serves me right--after living a bachelor fifty years, I had no
right to alter my situation, but I'll apply for a divorce--I
will--'twill be granted too; I've an excellent plea--mutual insanity.

[_Exit R. H._

DOVE. Well--now all the people have gone, I've something to say--and
something that I mean, too; I won't be taken up, as I always am,
before people.

MRS. DOVE. What do you mean, Henry, by being taken up?

DOVE. Why--altering my pronounciation every minute, as you do.

MRS. DOVE. How can I calmly sit and hear my husband commit himself in
every syllable that he utters? respect for you and for myself, renders
it necessary that I should correct you.

DOVE. Well, I don't like it--and I warn you not to _result_ me again.

MRS. DOVE. _Insult_ you.

DOVE. Well, insult me again--you know how _wiolent_ I am when I'm

MRS. DOVE. When you're exasperated.

DOVE. Well, what's it matter! you perfectly compromise my meaning.

MRS. DOVE. Henry--Henry--I will not hear you make use of such
language. Had I been aware that you were so illiterate--I would have
broken my heart ere I would have married you--

DOVE. Yes--you never used to find fault with my language when we used
to sit under the apple-tree of an evening.

MRS. DOVE. That I should not have seen the absurdity of uniting myself
with one so opposite to me!

DOVE. Opposite to you!--you never would let me be opposite to you; you
was never easy but when I was by your side; you know you wasn't!

MRS. DOVE. But love is blind----

DOVE. Yes, and deaf too, if I may judge from my own situation; just as
if you couldn't have found out my pronounciation then as well as now.
I know'd there was a great _contract_ between us.

MRS. DOVE. Contrast! besides, you are so stupid; you could not, during
dinner, hear a bell or a knock at the door, but you must be running to
answer it. I sat on thorns for you.

DOVE. Well, then, that was werry kind of you. I wouldn't do such a
thing for my father; but don't call me stupid--if you talk of bad
language, what's that, I wonder? Good bye!--you wont see me again, in
a hurry.

MRS. DOVE. Where are you going?

DOVE. I don't know where I'm going, nor I don't care; you've wounded
me in a tender _pint_.

MRS. DOVE. Point!----

DOVE. Point!--and I don't care if I never see you again.

MRS. DOVE. (_Taking his hand._)--Henry!

DOVE. Let go my hand, Martha; I mean what I say; and don't follow me,
because I wont be follow'd.

MRS. DOVE. You cannot intend to be so base?

DOVE. I do--you've put me in a passion, and when I am in a passion I'm

[_Exit, R. H._

MRS. DOVE. Resolute!--(_calling after him_)--Cruel Henry! I shall
faint--Help! Henry!--Water!--oh! oh!--(_She faints in a chair, and the
drop falls._)



_A meanly furnished room; a door in the flat R. H.; in the second
entrance L. H. a door bolted; the window shutters of the room are put
up. Table and chairs, two candles burning. A knock heard at L. H. D.;
after a pause, CODDLE peeps out of the door in flat._

COD. Who can that be? I told the woman of the house on no account to
admit a soul, or to tell any one who had taken her rooms; but if she
should be obliged to confess, to give out that a half-crazy gentleman
occupies them, who will not allow a creature to approach him but
herself. I think I am safe here, nobody knows me; I've changed my
name, I have paid a month's rent in advance, have closed and fastened
the shutters and door, and intend to live in future by candle-light;
so here I am alone--(_Sitting in a chair._)--with two wives claiming
me, yet alone, that's something. What a night I have passed! One
minute trembling with apprehension, the next with cold; the loose
windows rattling all night like the chains of a sleepless
felon--nothing but draughts all over the room, and a corner house too,
its edges worn away by the wind constantly whistling round
it--ugh!--(_Shuddering--A knocking heard L. H. D._)--It must have been
the landlady that knocked; she thought I was asleep, no doubt, so
wouldn't disturb me; how cold I am, there is a terrible wind
somewhere. This is the most miserable place I ever was in, in my life;
where can that rush of air come from? I must find out, here's my
tow--(_going to table._)--with this and a skewer, I can stop every
crevice.--(_He goes round the room with a lighted candle; he holds it
before a crevice in the flat; the flame of the candle waves._)--Ah,
here's the place--a thorough draught, enough to kill me.--(_The candle
goes out._)--It has blown the candle out; what a horrid place!--(_He
hammers some tow into the crevice; while thus employed, a knocking is
again heard at the L. H. D. CODDLE starts, the hammer falls from his
hand._)--Who's there? 'tis the foot-step of a man, it is not the
landlady;--(_he creeps to the L. H. D. and listens_)--officers of
justice, perhaps, who have dogged me here,--hush!--(_Listens again--A
loud knock makes him start away from the door._)--Shall I answer? I
will--I must--this suspense will drive me mad--who--who's there?

LYNX. (_Without._)--My dear fellow, open the door.

COD. Oh, it's my excellent friend Lynx.--(_he runs to the door and
unbolts it._)--Come in, come in; quick, quick.--(_LYNX enters; CODDLE
immediately closes the door again and bolts it._)--Now what's the
matter? how did you find me out? what brought you here? any of the
police after me? any warrant granted? Speak, speak.

LYNX. No, no, calm your fears.

COD. Was it you that knocked at the door, a few minutes ago?

LYNX. Yes, yes, and I thought you were dead, as I could get no reply;
you are as difficult to come at as a grand sultan.

COD. I am a grand sultan, I rejoice in a plurality of wives. Oh, that
Turkey, what a blessed country! where bigamy is a virtue, and a man's
consequences is rated not by the number of voices he can command in a
parliament, but by the number of wives he can command at home. But
tell me, how did you discover my retreat?

LYNX. You certainly could not expect to remain here unknown.

COD. Why?

LYNX. The house not only belongs to an inspector of the police, but a
Bow-street officer occupies the floor above you.

COD. Oh! I am a doomed man.--(_Falling into his chair._)

LYNX. The woman of the house gave me your whole history, when I called
a quarter of an hour ago. I expect two or three of our friends here in
a moment. Dismal, I have left at the door.

COD. Which do you think the easiest method of quitting life?

LYNX. Quitting life!

COD. Aye, of committing suicide?--hanging, poisoning, suffocation,
drowning, or the pistol? For to one of these escapes from my terrors,
I am determined to apply.

LYNX. Then you have not seen your wife?

COD. Which?

LYNX. Your second.

COD. Not since we parted at your house yesterday. I can never face her
again. How is Mrs. Lynx?

LYNX. She has left me.

COD. Left you!

LYNX. I am now in search of her, for this morning I have received
intelligence that leaves me at liberty to confess more respecting that
girl, than I have hitherto dared to tell.

COD. That girl? my adopted daughter, you mean?

LYNX. I do; to this alone is my wife indebted for my seeking her. I
would rather have died, than have been the first to advance one step
towards a reconciliation, after her deliberate attempt yesterday at
publicly exposing me.--(_A knock heard again at L. H. D._)

COD. There's somebody else, who can it be?

LYNX. 'Tis no doubt, Dismal, our brother in misfortune.

COD. Misfortune!

LYNX. He and his wife have also separated; indeed, I hear that of the
whole party of married people that sat down to my table yesterday, not
one couple are now living together.

COD. They found my example so very pleasant, I suppose, they could not
resist following it.--(_Knocking again._)

YOUNG. (_Without._)--Open the door, we wish to see you.--(_LYNX
unbolts the door; YOUNGHUSBAND and DISMAL enter._)

YOUNG. (_to CODDLE._)--Ah, my friend, we have found you out at last.

DIS. Mr. Dove is below, and wants to see you.

COD. He sha'nt come in, I wont have any more visitors. I came here to
conceal myself, and here is my whole circle of acquaintance around me
already; well, sit down, sit down, as you _are_ here.--(_they all
sit_)--What poor unhappy wretches we all are!

YOUNG. For my own part, I freely confess, that I never was more
miserable in all my days, and really begin to think that a wife is an
indispensable comfort.

COD. Where you've but one. 'Tis a comfort so peculiarly singular, that
once pluralized, it is destroyed.

DIS. I had no idea that a restless night, by myself, could have made
me think so favourably of Mrs. Dismal.

LYNX. Ah, my friends--absence, like death, leads us to dwell on the
better qualities of those that are away.

COD. And the heart that can then but refer to faults, is one of which
we ought to be ashamed. If the second Mrs. Coddle had but consulted my
comforts a little more than she did, and not look'd for raptures and
passions in one, who had them not in his nature--she would have been a

YOUNG. _My_ wife's great fault is her perpetual proneness for
contradiction; were she to qualify her opposition, by presuming that I
mistake, or by merely thinking that I am wrong, I should be satisfied,
but her flat contradictions on every subject are unbearable, and I
won't put up with it; she sometimes makes me quite furious, zounds!

DIS. _My_ wife's great defect is her want of cheerfulness; and
expecting me every moment to be petting her like a Dutch pug. I can't
fondle, and be continually my dearing; my amiable moments are

COD. We are all wretched creatures; and I'm the most wretched among
you; _you may_ be reconciled some day or other, but for me--I am
without hope.--(_A knocking at the door, L. H._)--Hush!--who's
there?--(_Going to the door._)

DOVE. (_Without._)--It's me.

COD. Who?

DOVE. Mr. H. Dove.

COD. You can't come in.

DOVE. I want to speak to Mr. Coddle, on a _pint_ of vast _prominence_
to him.

DIS. I forgot to tell you, he was asking for you when I came up; he
says that he has something to tell you respecting your first wife.

CODDLE. What can it be? Shall I let him in?

LYNX. Yes, yes!--(_CODDLE opens the door; DOVE enters; CODDLE closes
the door again and bolts it._)

DOVE. Ha! how d'ye do, gentlemen all? We meet, again, under very
_conspicuous_ circumstances.

CODDLE. (_Placing a chair, and going to his seat._)--Sit down, Sir.

DOVE. We're all bachelors again, I hear! I an't seen Mrs. Dove since
yesterday; she worked upon my feelings, and _aspirated_ me to that
degree, that I went and got _cummy fo;_ and now I am afraid to go

CODDLE. Well, Sir! this information----

DOVE. Yes, sir,--but first allow me to collect my loose memorandums;
my head's a little _circumfused_.

LYNX. Proceed, sir, I beg; consider Mr. Coddle's anxiety.

DOVE. Well then--you must know--yesterday--after you had all gone,
Mrs. D. exaggerated me to such a pitch, that I flew out of the
house--never intending to be united again.

COD. Well?

DOVE. As I was a rushing through the streets--resolved to do as I
liked--and talk as I liked, and to remove every _obelisk_ that stood
in my way of so doing, who should I run against but a lady in

COD. (_Starting up._)--Ah!

LYNX. Sit still, and hear him out.

DOVE. Bless me, says _I_, why, Ma'am, I know you; pray, an't we united
by ties of _iniquity?_ she looked at me--I looked at her, and she
became _mutilated_ to the spot----

COD. Go on, go on.

DOVE. Aunt, says I----

COD. Aunt!

DOVE. Aunt, says I--an't you afraid of being _exercised_ and taken
before the _conjugal_ authorities?

COD. For what? tell me for what?

All. Hush, hush! Silence.

LYNX. Proceed, Mr. Dove.

DOVE. Henry, says she, I am here on a matter that demands me to be
very _circumflex_, and I beg you will not make known to any one that
you have met me. Aunt, says I--I--owe you a grudge; do you remember
how you used to use me, when I cleaned the boots in that family where
you was cook?----

COD. Lord! cook! Go on!

DOVE. But to _alleviate_ a long story, suffice it to say--that I found
out she calls herself----

COD. Mrs. Samuel Coddle!

DOVE. Yes; she went out to the West Indies, in a doctor's family, on
account of some unlawful _willanies_. She went to Antigua----

COD. True.

DOVE. And changed her name----

COD. Changed her name! To what--to what?

DOVE. To--I forget--Bel----

COD. Belvidera Montemar?

DOVE. That's it.

COD. Then her real name was----

DOVE. Jane Hobbs.

COD. Huzza, huzza!--an illegal marriage! I'm free--it can be put
aside, it can be put aside! Tol de rol lol.--(_Dancing._)--You hear,
she was obliged to leave the country; she imposed upon me; she left
me; she's here but to annoy me--but I'm free. Lynx, unbolt the door
and let me out.--(_LYNX unbolts and opens the door._)--Mr. Dove, let
me collar you; you shall never leave me till I have seen and satisfied
the lawful Mrs. Coddle. You are my witness, and must come to your
aunt, and then to my wife; follow us, my dear friends--follow us; seek
your wives and be reconciled; I'll set you the example. Don't attempt
to get away from me;--(_to DOVE_)--you are my best friend, and I shall
never quit my hold of you. I wouldn't part with you for a million of
money. My dear friend, my preserver, my every thing on earth to
me--come with me to your aunt, to Belvidera--never mind hat, coat, any
thing. My dear, my only Mrs. Coddle, open your arms, and receive your
husband and his friend.--(_Rushing out, L. H. D., and dragging DOVE
with him by the collar._)

LYNX. (_Calling after him._)--Coddle, my dear fellow, where are you
running? let us follow him, my friends, and assist each other in
search of our wives, and do our best, to gain mutual forgiveness.

[_Exit LYNX._

DIS. I wont--I've been used very ill--I walked before my house for an
hour this morning, and though Mrs. D. was seated at the window, she
wouldn't turn her head to notice me.

YOUNG. Where _my_ wife can be I am at a loss to guess. Not at her
aunt's, I have been there, and they have not seen her. I am getting
quite distracted.

DIS. So am I.

YOUNG. Then give me your arm, if you won't go home to _your_ wife, you
must and shall help me to regain mine. It is a man's duty sir, to
advance the first step towards a reconciliation.

DIS. I have advanced.

YOUNG. You have not.

DIS. Didn't I walk by the house?


DIS. I did, and I won't go again.

YOUNG. You shall. If you don't know your duty, I'll teach it you. Come
Sir, come.--[_Exit YOUNGHUSBAND dragging off DISMAL, L. H. D._


_A Room at a Boarding House._


MRS. COD. The unhappy creature, Mrs. Belvidera Coddle, is lodging
here, you tell me.--(_To MRS. DISMAL._)

MRS. DIS. Yes, 'twas at the door of this house that I saw Mr. Lynx
talking to her yesterday.

MRS. COD. As she is not within, I shall look in again. I am resolved
to see her, for the more I reflect, the more I am incensed against my
husband. Oh! I am a wretched woman.

MRS. LY. Indeed, I am.

MRS. DOVE. So am I.

MRS. DIS. So am I.

MRS. Y. I'm completely miserable--miserable.

MRS. COD. I went home, but Coddle never came near the house; he has
absconded, no doubt; I did not close my eyes all night.

MRS. DOVE. I have been in a state of perfect distraction since my
unhappy disagreement, with Henry--where _can_ he have gone?

MRS. Y. I would not go to my aunt--I changed my mind, called on Mrs.
Dismal and sat up with her, I am determined not to return home till
Frederick fetches me; it _was_ Uncle Tolloday that gave me the

MRS. DIS. If you had not come to me, Mrs. Y., I should have died
before morning; as it is, Mr. D's. cruel indifference has worn me to a

MRS. COD. Indifference! I am sure the apathy of my husband was never
equalled; I have flirted with a dozen young men in one evening, to
excite him to a little harmless jealousy, but in vain; and I really
think, he would neither have stirred, nor cared, had I eloped with
three captains at once. And now to discover that he has another wife!
Oh, if I could see him again--I think I should assassinate him! a
monster! a--oh!--(_Sobbing._)

MRS. DIS. Just like my Dismal; when we go into company, he always gets
as far away from me as he can--never notices me--never smiles at
me--never looks as if he loved me. I--I--I am a very ill-used

MRS. Y. (_Sobbing._)--Don't weep, Mrs. Dismal; don't weep; I wont,
if--if--I break my heart. Y. sha'n't say that I ever dropped a tear at
his absence--an aggravating creature; though I _could_ be comfortable
with him, if he would not contradict me in every thing I say--and

MRS. DOVE. (_Sobbing._)--Oh, Henry!--Once reconciled, I will never
correct you again; you may select your own words from any dictionary
you may think proper.

MRS. LY. (_Sobbing._)--My wretched fate is fixed; I have suffered
beyond the bounds of endurance, and can suffer no more.

MRS. COD. My friends!--ladies!--bless me, we are all in tears! this
must not be; what would our husbands say if they knew of our weakness?
No, no--we must not break our hearts for such creatures: we must rally
and laugh. Ha! ha! ha! laugh, ladies, laugh--and make your
arrangements for the future with resolution and spirit. You, Mrs.
Lynx, will, I presume, for the present lodge here. I shall now step to
my friends and return in half an hour. Mrs. Dove, you are a sensible
and well-educated woman; pray accompany me, and give me your advice!
we may hear of Mr. Dove while we are gone. Mrs. Y., you, of course,
will stay with Mrs. Dismal for the present. Good bye, my dears--good
bye! Now pray, don't fret; be women--be women--don't weep about a man.
What are men?--mere self-elected law-makers. Don't despair, ladies;
the time is fast coming when _we_ shall have voices in the legislation
of the country, and then let them look to their questions. The wrongs
done to our sex, for centuries, shall be well revenged in the first

[_Exit with MRS. DOVE, L. H._

MRS. Y. Good bye, Mrs. Lynx; if you wish to see us, we are only next
door to you--you know. And pray, if you hear anything of our husbands
apprize us immediately, and we will do the same for you.--(_Taking
MRS. DISMAL'S arm._)--Now, if Mr. Dismal passes the house again, I
_will_ call him in.

MRS. DIS. No, no; you shall not.

MRS. Y. I _will._

MRS. DIS. I won't hear of it.

MRS. Y. I'm not used to contradict, but you must. Though I am
wretched, if I can assist in restoring happiness to others, Mrs.
Frederick Younghusband is not the woman to be idle in such a matter.
So come, dear D., smile and look pleasant!

[_Exit with MRS. DISMAL, L. H. D._

MRS. LYNX. (_Alone._)--Now what course shall I take?--that my husband
is guilty, I have abundant of proof--and that I can never, never live
with him again, is equally sure. I have sought a refuge here, in a
miserable lodging-house; for where had I to go? Where _could_ an
outraged and a homeless wife seek for shelter? with friends--with
relations? No, no; I could not endure that bitter humiliation. If I am
to be wretched, it shall be unseen and alone; I'll have no cold and
affected sympathy--no pity from my kindred. Pity! there is no such
feeling! 'tis disguised triumph, and we know it too; else why does the
soul rise up within us and spurn it?--(_Looking off, R. H.,
F. E._)--Ah, _he_ here! the writer of the letter I received yesterday?
then he has traced me to this house. What shall I do? he must not see
me. Hark!--(_listens_)--he is making enquiries concerning me; how
shall I avoid him? To retaliate upon my husband, I affected to
encourage that man, and he thus presumes upon it. But now, though I
shall never return again to my home, I must avoid all that would make
me cease to respect myself--I'll to my room.

[_Exit, R. H. F. E._

_Enter LYNX, L. H._

LYNX. I have been rightly informed, my wife _is_ here. Now that I have
no further occasion for secresy, she shall know all; and if I _can_
awake her to a sense of the mischiefs that will arise from a too
watchful jealousy, I will henceforth pursue that line of conduct which
must and shall ensure happiness.--(_He is going R. H._)--What! who is
that?--(_looking off_)--he speaks to my wife--she repulses him--he
follows her. Villain!--(_LYNX rushes off, R. H._)

_CODDLE heard without, L. H._

COD. Come along, Dove, come along; my wife is here. Come, my best
friend--my preserver.

_Enter CODDLE, dragging DOVE; DOVE'S coat is torn, and striving in
vain to release himself from the grasp of CODDLE._

COD. Huzza! Huzza! you've told the truth, Dove--you've told the
truth--Belvidera has retreated and left me master of the field. Be
grateful, you villain, be grateful. She would have torn your eyes out,
murdered you, had it not been for me.

DOVE. But Mr. Coddle, my coat is separating; let me go.

COD. No, no, I must now introduce you to my wife. Where is she? Mrs.
Coddle!--(_calling_)--Mrs. Coddle! they told me she was here; where
are you, my dear, where are you? She can't be in the house; then we'll
run all over London, but we'll find her. Come, Dove, my friend, my
preserver, come.

DOVE. Oh, Mr. Coddle, let me go, let me go.

COD. No, no, I'll never part with my witness; come, you delightful
fellow, come, you shall never leave me till I am restored to
happiness.--(_CODDLE, during the foregoing exclamations, has dragged
DOVE round the stage, and goes off with him again, L. H._)


_A Gallery in the Boarding House; in the flat are two practicable
doors. LYNX heard within._

LYNX. (_Within._)--Villain! Villain! what do you here?--(_a noise as
of a struggle; a scream heard_)--I am unarmed, or you should not leave
this place alive; come, Emmeline, come with me.

_Enter LYNX dragging out his wife, she is pale and agitated._

MRS. LY. Ah Lionel--is it, is it you? Oh bless you, bless
you.--(_taking his hands--he places her in a chair_)--I have brought
this upon myself.

LYNX. But you are safe; and who has saved you?

MRS. LY. (_Falling on his neck._)--My husband!

LYNX. Stay you here, I _will_ follow him and have revenge.

MRS. LY. (_Clinging to him._)--Nay, nay, I implore you stay near
me--about me--leave me not again.

LYNX. But I have now a clue to him, which I will not forsake till his
heart's blood atones for my injuries.

MRS. LY. Do you know him, that you speak thus?

LYNX. I do, indeed.

MRS. LY. Who--and what is he?

LYNX. Who? listen, Emmeline; the deceiver of my sister, and the father
of that girl, through whom we separated and thus meet again.

MRS. LY. The father!

LYNX. I dared not confess as much before. I was bound, sworn to
secrecy by my sister; but her death now makes me free to tell you all.

MRS. LY. Forgive me--I--I am satisfied.

LYNX. You shall first know that you have good cause to be so; that
villain in early life wronged my sister; she afterwards married; had
her previous intimacy with this man been known, ruin, in the noble
sphere in which she moved, must have awaited her; I kept her secret
religiously, and as you know, at the expence of my own peace; I was as
a father to the girl; and though she left the asylum in which I placed
her, yet 'twas for an honourable and a happy marriage.

MRS. LY. No more, no more, dear Lionel; I have been a weak, and
foolish woman, but never will I doubt you again.

LYNX. And never more, dear Emmeline will I give you cause; on the
conduct of the husband chiefly rests the virtue of the wife, and I
here renounce all my follies for ever. But for that villain----

MRS. LY. Nay, nay, be satisfied, be at peace; and let mutual
confidence henceforth secure to us that happiness to which we have so
long been strangers.

LYNX. It shall, Emmeline, it shall.--(_They embrace._)

_Enter MR. and MRS. YOUNGHUSBAND and MR. and MRS. DISMAL, arm in arm,
and laughing; MRS. DOVE following._

MRS. Y. What! Mr. and Mrs. Lynx, and embracing too: then you have
explained and made it up, as we have done. Well, this is delightful!
Mr. and Mrs. Dismal are friends; I saw him watching his house; I
rushed out--dragged him in.--Y., who was with him, followed; we pouted
a little--coquetted a little--cried a little--and then rushed into one
another's arms; didn't we, Frederick?

YOUNG. No, I----

MRS. Y. Hush! remember, dear; you have promised never to contradict me

MRS. DIS. And my George has vowed to be as kind, and as attentive in
future, as----

DIS. As I can.

MRS. Y. There is poor Mrs. Dove in an agony about her Henry. She left
Mrs. Coddle--came to us--was told that her husband was in this
house--and he is still no where to be found.

LYNX. We heard both him and Mr. Coddle here not long since.

(_DOVE, without._)

DOVE. Martha!

MRS. DOVE. Ah! I hear his welcome voice.

_Enter DOVE, his clothes torn to ribbands._

DOVE. Martha! are you here? Oh, look at me!

MRS. DOVE. Henry! look at me, and forgive me.

DOVE. Forgive you, Martha! yes, that I will, after what I've suffered
since our abduction. This is all Mr. Coddle's doings; I was his
witness, and he wouldn't let me leave him, till I had seen aunt Hobbs
and Mrs. Coddle, in his presence. We have seen 'em; aunt Hobbs is gone
off again; and Mr. and Mrs. Coddle are coming here with all their
differences _re-united_.

MRS. DOVE. Your aunt Hobbs!

DOVE. Don't ask questions now, dear; when we are alone I'll
_liquidate_ every thing.

MRS. DOVE. Elucidate!

DOVE. Now, you are going to begin again, love!

MRS. DOVE. No, Henry, I forgot myself; I never shall correct you more,

_Enter CODDLE, capering, dressed in a suit of Nankeen; MRS. CODDLE on
his arm._

COD. Here we are! here we are! Belvidera has retreated in confusion;
and the conquering hero, with his only lawful wife, stands before you
in all the conscious pride of innocence, and a complete suit of

ALL. Nankeen!

COD. Yes; no lining--no, Mrs. Coddle has heard all--and has forgiven
all; she is now convinced how I was duped by my first wife; has had
proof of her leaving me--of her plundering me--of her coming here
merely to make a property of me, of the illegality of the marriage;
and here we are united and happy again; and there stands my friend and
preserver, of whom I shall ever think with gratitude.--(_Pointing to

DOVE. Then allow me to observe, while you were pillaging your
wardrobe, your gratitude might have jogged your memory a little,
respecting the condition of your preserver's clothes; this is quite
the result of your own exuberance.

MRS. DOVE. My dear Henry----

COD. Hush, Mrs. Dove; allow your husband to select his own words at
pleasure--yield a little to each other, 'tis the best and only way to
secure domestic peace. I shall yield everything. Look at me; I that
three days ago was all flannel and under-waistcoats, now intend to
defy air, draughts, open-windows, corner-houses, everything; and I and
Mrs. Coddle are going in search of the North Pole. Lynx, my boy, have
you cleared up your mystery and satisfied your wife? that's right, now
let us forgive and forget; forget all but those qualities that first
induced us to marry. Mrs. Sam, what did you have me for?

MRS. COD. Because I could discover, through all your eccentricities, a
natural goodness of heart.

COD. Then whenever you are inclined to be angry with me, always think
of that, and I in return will ever remember the affection that first
led me to seek you. Lynx, what did _you_ marry for?

LYNX. I freely confess it was for love.

COD. And you, Mrs. Lynx, married him from the same impulse?

MRS. LY. Yes, Sir.

COD. And you, Mr. and Mrs. Younghusband, married----

YOUNG. For the same reason, as our friends Mr. and Mrs. Lynx married.

MRS. Y. For the same reason precisely.

COD. And you, Mr. Dismal?

DIS. Because I was tired of living alone.

COD. And Mrs. D. was weary of the same life, no doubt?

MRS. DIS. I confess my weakness.

COD. And you, Mr. and Mrs. Dove, married--because----

MRS. DOVE. Being a widow, and accustomed to a sharer in my joys and

DOVE. You took me into partnership, at my master's dissolution.

COD. Well, then, whenever a disagreement breaks out among you in
future, recall the memory of those inducements which first led you to
think of each other, and you will find it to be a wonderful help to
the restoration of peace. Do you all agree to this?

ALL. Yes, yes.

COD. Then follow my example, and ratify the agreement by a hearty
conjugal embrace; _I_ will give the word of command. Make ready!--(_As
CODDLE puts his arm round his wife's waist, each of the husbands do
the same to their wives._)--Present!--(_CODDLE takes his wife's chin
between his fingers and thumb, and prepares to kiss her, all the
husbands do the same._)--Fire!--(_They all kiss and embrace at the
same moment._)

COD. There, this is the way that all matrimonial quarrels should
end--and if _you_ are of the same opinion--(_to the audience_)--then,
indeed, will our conjugal joy be complete, and our light lesson not
have been read in vain. You have seen the result of perpetual
jealousy, in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Lynx; of continual disputes and
contradiction in that of Mr. and Mrs. Younghusband; of a want of
cheerfulness and attention in Mr. and Mrs. Dismal; of the impolicy of
public correction in the instance of Mrs. Dove; and the necessity of
assimilating habits and tempers in the singular case of Mr. and Mrs.
Coddle; and though these may not be one half the causes of quarrel
between man and wife--yet, even their exposure may serve as beacon
lights, to avoid the rocks of altercation when sailing on the sea of
matrimony. So think of us, all ye anticipating and smiling single
people; for you _must_, or _ought_, all to be married, and the sooner
the better--and remember us ye already paired; and let our example
prove to you that to mutual forbearance, mutual confidence, mutual
habits, mutual everything, must we owe mutual happiness. And where can
the _best_ of happiness be found, but in a loyal and affectionate
Married Life?

_Disposition of the Characters at the fall of the Curtain._

Mr.L. Mrs.L.--Mr.Y. Mrs.Y--Mr.C. Mrs.C.--Mr.D. Mrs.D.--Mrs.Dove, Mr.Dove.


G. Cowie, Printer, 13, Newcastle Street, Strand.

Transcriber's Note

Two sets of images of the same edition were used in this
transcription. The first, digitized by the Internet Archive from a
copy made available by the Robarts Library at the University of
Toronto, is posted at:


The text of _Married Life_ begins at p. 386. The second, digitized by
Google from a copy made available by the British Library, is posted


In general, the grammar and spelling in the source text have not been
changed, and no attempt has been made to make the spelling consistent.
For example, the contraction for "will not" is spelled both "wont" and
"won't", and "secrecy" is also spelled "secresy". Emendations were
made to correct for minor printing problems.

The following changes were made to the text:

- For consistency, the formatting of names in stage directions has
been standardized throughout the text: small caps in the html version
and all caps in the text version. The abbreviations "Mr." and "Mrs."
have been transcribed consistently with a period.

- p. 11: LYNX. (_Looking off, L. H _)--They're your friends, Mr. and
Mrs. Coddle--Inserted a period after "L. H".

- p. 17: MRS. LY. (_Looking off, L. H,_)--Who is this?--Changed the
comma after "H" to a period.

- p. 18: YOUNG Allow me to tell Mrs. Lynx--Inserted a period after

- p. 23: _They approach the L H. door_--Inserted a period after "L".

- p. 24: (_she sinks into a chair _)--Inserted a period after

- p. 25: YOUNG. You shall uot--(_without._)--Changed "uot" to "not".

- p. 43: "The monster to whom you are married. . ."--No attempt was
made to reproduce the convention in the source text of single
quotation marks printed down the left margin indicating that the text
is part of a continuous quote.

- p. 44: Ah, this door--(_pointing R. H _)--leads to the
canal--Inserted a period after "R. H".

- p. 52: LYNX. I am not in search of her--Changed "not" to "now". In
his next line, Lynx states he is seeking his wife to explain his
relationship with his niece, and thus "now" makes more sense. This
change was also made in the American edition published by Harold
Roorbach in 1889, a digitized copy of which is posted at:


- p. 56: Tol de rol lol.--(_Dancing._) You hear,--Inserted an em-dash
after "(_Dancing._)" for consistency.

- p. 56: receive your huband and his friend.--Changed "huband" to

- p. 57: the more I reflect, the more I am imcensed against my
husband.--Changed "imcensed" to "incensed".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Married Life - A Comedy, in Three Acts" ***

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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.