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Scene the Last.

VALENTINE, SCANDAL, SIR SAMPSON, ANGELICA, FORESIGHT, MRS FORESIGHT, TATTLE, MRS FRAIL, BEN, JEREMY, BUCKRAM.

VALENTINE
No; here's the fool, and if occasion be, I'll give it under my hand.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
How now?

VALENTINE
Sir, I'm come to acknowledge my errors, and ask your pardon.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
What, have you found your senses at last then? In good time, sir.

VALENTINE
You were abused, sir: I never was distracted.

FORESIGHT
How! Not mad! Mr Scandal -

SCANDAL
No, really, sir. I'm his witness; it was all counterfeit.

VALENTINE
I thought I had reasons--but it was a poor contrivance, the effect has shown it such.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Contrivance! What, to cheat me? to cheat your father? Sirrah, could you hope to prosper?

VALENTINE
Indeed, I thought, sir, when the father endeavoured to undo the son, it was a reasonable return of nature.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Very good, sir. Mr Buckram, are you ready? Come, sir, will you sign and seal?

VALENTINE
If you please, sir; but first I would ask this lady one question.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Sir, you must ask me leave first. That lady? No, sir, you shall ask that lady no questions till you have asked her blessing, sir: that lady is to be my wife.

VALENTINE
I have heard as much, sir; but I would have it from her own mouth.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
That's as much as to say I lie, sir, and you don't believe what I say.

VALENTINE
Pardon me, sir. But I reflect that I very lately counterfeited madness; I don't know but the frolic may go round.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Come, chuck, satisfy him, answer him. Come, come, Mr Buckram, the pen and ink.

BUCKRAM
Here it is, sir, with the deed; all is ready. [VALENTINE goes to ANGELICA.]

ANGELICA
'Tis true, you have a great while pretended love to me; nay, what if you were sincere? Still you must pardon me if I think my own inclinations have a better right to dispose of my person than yours.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Are you answered now, sir?

VALENTINE
Yes, sir.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Where's your plot, sir? and your contrivance now, sir? Will you sign, sir? Come, will you sign and seal?

VALENTINE
With all my heart, sir.

SCANDAL
'Sdeath, you are not mad indeed, to ruin yourself?

VALENTINE
I have been disappointed of my only hope, and he that loses hope may part with anything. I never valued fortune but as it was subservient to my pleasure, and my only pleasure was to please this lady. I have made many vain attempts, and find at last that nothing but my ruin can effect it; which, for that reason, I will sign to-- give me the paper.

ANGELICA
Generous Valentine! [Aside.]

BUCKRAM
Here is the deed, sir.

VALENTINE
But where is the bond by which I am obliged to sign this?

BUCKRAM
Sir Sampson, you have it.

ANGELICA
No, I have it, and I'll use it as I would everything that is an enemy to Valentine. [Tears the paper.]

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
How now?

VALENTINE
Ha!

ANGELICA
Had I the world to give you, it could not make me worthy of so generous and faithful a passion. Here's my hand: --my heart was always yours, and struggled very hard to make this utmost trial of your virtue. [To VALENTINE.]

VALENTINE
Between pleasure and amazement I am lost. But on my knees I take the blessing.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Oons, what is the meaning of this?

BEN LEGEND
Mess, here's the wind changed again. Father, you and I may make a voyage together now.

ANGELICA
Well, Sir Sampson, since I have played you a trick, I'll advise you how you may avoid such another. Learn to be a good father, or you'll never get a second wife. I always loved your son, and hated your unforgiving nature. I was resolved to try him to the utmost; I have tried you too, and know you both. You have not more faults than he has virtues, and 'tis hardly more pleasure to me that I can make him and myself happy than that I can punish you.

VALENTINE
If my happiness could receive addition, this kind surprise would make it double.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
Oons, you're a crocodile.

FORESIGHT
Really, Sir Sampson, this is a sudden eclipse.

SIR SAMPSON LEGEND
You're an illiterate old fool, and I'm another.

TATTLE
If the gentleman is in disorder for want of a wife, I can spare him mine.--Oh, are you there, sir? I'm indebted to you for my happiness. [To JEREMY.]

JEREMY
Sir, I ask you ten thousand pardons: 'twas an errant mistake. You see, sir, my master was never mad, nor anything like it. Then how could it be otherwise?

VALENTINE
Tattle, I thank you; you would have interposed between me and heaven, but Providence laid purgatory in your way. You have but justice.

SCANDAL
I hear the fiddles that Sir Sampson provided for his own wedding; methinks 'tis pity they should not be employed when the match is so much mended. Valentine, though it be morning, we may have a dance.

VALENTINE
Anything, my friend, everything that looks like joy and transport.

SCANDAL
Call 'em, Jeremy.

ANGELICA
I have done dissembling now, Valentine; and if that coldness which I have always worn before you should turn to an extreme fondness, you must not suspect it.

VALENTINE
I'll prevent that suspicion: for I intend to dote to that immoderate degree that your fondness shall never distinguish itself enough to be taken notice of. If ever you seem to love too much, it must be only when I can't love enough.

ANGELICA
Have a care of promises; you know you are apt to run more in debt than you are able to pay.

VALENTINE
Therefore I yield my body as your prisoner, and make your best on't.

SCANDAL
The music stays for you. [Dance.]

SCANDAL
Well, madam, you have done exemplary justice in punishing an inhuman father and rewarding a faithful lover. But there is a third good work which I, in particular, must thank you for: I was an infidel to your sex, and you have converted me. For now I am convinced that all women are not like fortune, blind in bestowing favours, either on those who do not merit or who do not want 'em.

ANGELICA
'Tis an unreasonable accusation that you lay upon our sex: you tax us with injustice, only to cover your own want of merit. You would all have the reward of love, but few have the constancy to stay till it becomes your due. Men are generally hypocrites and infidels: they pretend to worship, but have neither zeal nor faith. How few, like Valentine, would persevere even to martyrdom, and sacrifice their interest to their constancy! In admiring me, you misplace the novelty.

The miracle to-day is, that we find
A lover true; not that a woman's kind.

William Congreve