Read ACT IV of The Fine Lady's Airs (1709), free online book, by Thomas Baker, on

SCENE continues.

Lady Rodomont, and Mrs. Lovejoy.

Mrs. Lov. Why, Madam, shou’d your Ladyship keep so many Fellows in suspence, is it only to mortifie other Women, and maintain the Vanity of being universally admir’d; you won’t marry, and yet love to be courted: In other matters your Ladiship’s gen’rous enough, but as for parting with your Lovers, you are as stingy as the Widow Scrape-all, that lets out her Mourning-Coach to Funerals.

La. Rod. Cozen, we’re alone, and I’ll discover t’ you the Soul of ev’ry Woman: Vanity is the predominant Passion in our Sex, what Lady that has Beauty, Wit and Fortune, does not excel in Dress, brighten in Talk, and dazle in her Equipage; and Lovers are but Servants out o’ Liveries: Who then that has Attractions to command, to sooth, to frown, to manage as we please, wou’d raise those crawling Wretches that adore us, that fawn and sigh, and catch at ev’ry Glance, but once embolden’d, as our Courage fails us, the flatt’ring Knaves exert their Sovereign Sway, and crush the darling Pow’r we possess.

Mrs. Lov. Tis their Prerogative to rule at last, our Reign is short, because tis too Tyrannical; were pleasd to have Admirers gaze upon us, theyre pleasd with gazing, cause they cannot help it; but yet they think us strange fantastick Creatures, and curse themselves for loving such vain Toys; for my part, Im for ballancing the powr of both Sexes, if a fine Gentleman addresses a fine Lady, his Reception ought to be suitable to his Merit, and when two fine People get together

La. Rod. What then?

Mrs. Lov. They ought to lay aside Affectation and Impertinence, and come to a right understanding i’ th’ matter.

La. Rod. But prithee, my Dear, what fine Things d’you conceive there are in Love?

Mrs. Lov. I wou’d conceive what fine Things there are in Love; in short, Madam, you may dissemble like the French Hugonots, that were starving in their own Country, and pretended to fly hither for Religion: But I that have the same Circulations with your Ladiship, know that ev’ry Woman feels a Je ne scay quoy for an agreeable Fellow; nay more, that Love is irresistable; how many Fortunes have marry’d Troopers, and Yeomen o’the Guard? We are all made of the same Mould; nay I heard of a Lady that was so violently scorcht at the sight of a handsome Waterman, she flung her self sprawling into the Thames, only that he might stretch out his Oar, and take her up again.

La. Rod. There are Women Fools to a strange degree; but have you, Cousin, seen any Object so amiable to merit that ridiculous Condescension.

Mrs. Lov. I have seen a great many young Fellows, Madam, and do ev’ry Day see more young Fellows that I cou’d like very well to play at Piquet with; and if your Ladiship has sworn to die a Maid, recommend one of your Admirers to me, and it shan’t be my Fault, if in a few Months I don’t produce you a very pretty Bantling to inherit your Estate.

Enter Major Bramble.

Bram. (Aside.) Now must I screw my self into more submissive Forms than a hungry Poet at the lower end of a Lord’s Table, when he has more Wit than all the Company; muster up more Lies than are told behind a Cheapside-Counter, and talk to her of Agues, Agonies and Agitations, when I have no more Notion of Love, than a Lawyer has of the next World: Her Estate indeed wou’d put a Man into a Conflagration, but a fine Woman is to me like a fine Race-Horse, admir’d only by Fools, very costly, very wanton, and very apt to run away Madam, your Ladiship’s incomparable Perfections, which are as much talk’d of, as if they had been publish’d in the Flying-Post, Post-Boy, and Post-Man, have stirr’d up all my Faculties to admire, ev’ry Part about you, and to tell you the Ambition I have of being your Ladiship’s most devoted, humble Servant at Bed and Board.

La. Rod. A Man of your Character, Major, is seldom touch’d with a Lady’s Perfections; our trifling Beauties soften weaker Mortals, you Men that bustle about publick Matters, whose fiery Souls are charm’d with Broils of State, retain no mighty Transports for our Sex.

Bram. True, Madam, Love’s but an insipid Business; but I wou’d marry to keep up that fiery Breed; and your Ladyship having a more sublime Genius than the rest of your Sex, I thought you the properest Person to apply to, that with equal Pains-taking we may produce a Race of Alexanders, that shall rattle thro’ the World like a Peal of Thunder, wage Wars, destroy Cities, and send old Women headlong to the Devil.

La. Rod. I mould rather chuse a peaceful Race, whose Virtue shou’d prefer ’em to the State, where Wisdom, like a Goddess, sits triumphant, to awe, to charm, to punish and reward, and check the Fury of such headstrong Coursers.

Bram. A Race of Side-Box-Beaus, that love soft easie Chairs, Down-Beds, and taudry Night-Gowns; I admire those renown’d Emperors, that chop Peoples Heads off for their Diversion, and the glorious King of France, that makes his Family Kings whenever he pleases; that gives People yearly Pensions to bellow out his praise; whose Edicts fly about like Squibs and Crackers, and as much laughs at Parliaments and Councils, as a Whore of Distinction does at the Reforming-Society.

La. Rod. Such Princes are meant Scourges to the Earth; no Mortal’s fit for absolute Command; Men have their Passions; Monarchs are but Men, and when Love, Jealousie, or Fear possess ’em, the Tyrants spurn, and rack their guiltless People, who tamely bend, and court their fatal Madness; our happy Realm knows no Despotick Sway; not only Kingdoms here, but Hearts unite, the Sov’reign and the Subjects bless each other; a Constitution so divinely fram’d; such gen’rous Concord, such resistless Harmony, that Nature wonders at her own Perfections; a Climate and a People so serene!

Bram. Look you, Madam, I’m no more an Enemy to the Government than to your Ladiship: Your Ladiship has a good Estate, Estate, and your Person is mightily dish’d out, fine and lovely and plump, therefore if your Ladyship thinks fit to marry me, and the Government to give me a Place of a Thousand a Year, I’m an humble Servant to both, otherwise I wou’dn’t care three Whiffs o’ Tobacco, if the Government sunk, and your Ladiship were blown up in the Clouds.

La. Rod. Plain-dealing, Major, ought to be inestimable, especially in a Statesman, but you needn’t give your self any trouble about me, you’re not a Creature tame enough for a Husband: The Lion that’s us’d to range the Woods, if once ensnar’d, grows ten times more outragious. What think you, Cousin, shou’d we entangle the Major.

Mrs. Lov. We must never come near him, Madam, for I’m afraid he’ll devour us all.

Bram. Devour you all, Mrs. Oatcake, a Man must be damnable hungry to feed upon your Chitterlings. [Aside.] Now have I a good mind to hire two or three honest Fellows to swear her into a Plot, have her Estate confiscated to the Government, and get a Reward of half of it for so serviceable a piece of Loyalty and Revenge; but to mortifie her more compleatly, I’ll go make my Addresses to the Divine Lady Toss-up. [Exit.

Enter Nicknack.

Nick. [Aside.] Were it not to improve my Int’rest with the Ladies, I wou’d forswear all manner of Bus’ness, and grow perfectly idle, like a Dancing-Master’s Brains. I have been squeez’d up at the Custom-House, ’mongst Jews, Swedes, Danes, and dirty Dutchmen, that were entering Hung-Beef, ’till I’m only fit to tread Billingsgate-Key, and address those shrill Ladies, whose Italian Voices ev’ry Day charm the Streets with the deaf’ning Harmony of Place, Flounders, and New-Castle-Salmon I was afraid, Madam, having not seen your Ladiship these four Hours, you had quite forgot me.

La. Rod. That’s impossible, Mr. Nicknack, I never see the pretty Monkey you brought me, but I have the strongest Idea of you imaginable; but have you imported no greater Curiosities, a Monkey of one sort or other is what most People have in their Houses. I’d have a Ship range the World on purpose to find me out some agreeable strange Creature, that was never heard of before, nor is ever to be met with again.

Nick. A Creature, Madam, which some People think unparallell’d, it may be in my, Pow’r to help your Ladiship to, but ’tis a sort of Creature that’s always sighing for a Mate, if your Ladiship likes it as well as some other Ladies have done; if I know the Creature, ’twou’d laugh and toy, and kiss and fawn upon your Ladiship beyond all Womankind.

La. Rod. Pray, Mr. Nicknack, what Species is it of?

Nick. Of Humane Species, Madam, your Ladiship shall examine it, but the Ladies turn it into what shape they please, an Ape, an Ass, a Lizard, a Squirrel, a Spaniel; most People say ’tis a Man, but the Merchant that brought it from the Cyprian Groves, calls it a Desponding Lover.

La. Rod. A Desponding Lover, Mr. Nicknack, is indeed a very strange Creature, but ’tis no Rarity, I’m pester’d with ’em at all Seasons, they are continually intruding like one’s poor Relations, more pragmatically impertinent than one’s Chaplain, and, were it possible, as impudent as one’s Footmen.

Nick. But a sincere and constant Lover your Ladiship must allow a Rarity.

La. Rod. [Aside.] I must humour this Fellow’s Vanity; he’ll make an admirable Tool to plague the Collonel I understand you, Mr. Nicknack, you have so pretty a way of discovering your self, ’twou’d charm any Lady, and truly I see no difference between a Gentleman educated at Merchant-Taylor’s-School, and one at Fobert’s; only at our end o’the Town, there’s a certain Forwardness in young Fellows, that a Boy of Fourteen shall pretend to practise before he understands the Rule of Three. But what you tell me is a thing of that weight, it requires mature Deliberation, a Conflict with one’s self of a whole Age’s debating: Marriage, ’mongst the vulgar sort, is a Joke, a meer May-Game; with People of Rank, a serious and well study’d Solemnity.

Nick. Nay, Madam, I’m in no very great haste, I am perfectly of your Ladyship’s Opinion, and can’t think there’s so mighty a Jest in Matrimony as some People imagine; like a Country Fellow and a Wench, that will jig it into Church after a blind Fidler, and are never in a dancing Humour afterwards. People o’ Quality are more apprehensive o’ the matter, and have a world o’ business to do, we must first be seen particular together, to give suspicion, and create Jealousies ’mongst the rest of your Admirers; then it must be whisper’d to the Countess of Intelligence, to carry about Town, or the Tea-Tables will drop for want of Tittle-tattle; and afterwards your Ladyship’s absolutely denying it, confirms ev’ry body in the truth of it: As for Cloaths, Equipage and Furniture, they are soon got ready, and if your Ladiship dislikes living i’the City, we’ll take a House at Mile-End.

La. Rod. The City, Mr. Nicknack, A very considerable Place! I have had noble Suppers there. Suppers dress’d at Russel’s in Ironmonger-lane, and have brought away Fifty Guineas at Basset, when at this end o’the Town I have lost three times Fifty for a sneaking Dish of Chocolate. People too may talk of their want of Sense, but the suppressing Bartl’mew-Fair was a thing of that wondrous Consultation, it shews the Citizens have prodigious Head-pieces.

Nick. Your Ladiship has a just Notion of the City. I have read sev’ral Acts of Common Council, that have really a world of Wit in ’em; but I’m afraid, Madam, Collonel Blenheim has so far ingratiated himself with your Ladiship, I shall have a troublesome Rival to deal with.

La. Rod. Not in the least, I admitted him only as a Visitant, but at present I must be more particular with him; he’s of late grown a little irreverent towards our Sex, and I must check an insolent Humour he has got of despising Matrimony; he’ll be with me instantly, I’ll dispose you, that you may over-hear all, how I’ll turn and wind him, cross him, humour him, and confound him; when you think it proper make your Appearance, and we’ll both laugh at him.

Nick. If your Ladiship pleases, I had rather laugh in my Sleeve, for those blustering Officers, that are us’d to destroy whole Batallions, make no more of murdering one Man, than an Alderman does of eating up a single Turkey.

La. Rod. Never fear him, Mr. Nicknack.

Nick. Nay, Madam, I have been Collonel i’th’Train-Bands these seven Years, and therefore ought not to want Courage; and tho’ I never learnt to fence, there’s an admirable Master teaches three times a Week, at the Swan Tavern in Cornhil. [Exeunt.

Mrs. Lov. Now will I be Spitchcockt, if she han’t an Inclination for the Collonel, to coquet, and flirt and fleer, and plague half Mankind, only because they like her, may be what you call a fine Lady, but in my mind she has more fantastical Airs than a Kettle-Drummer. [Exit.

SCENE, a Room in the Rose-Tavern.

The Bell rings.

[Bar-keeper without.] Where a Pox are you all; must Company wait an Hour for a Room?

[A noise of Drawers.] Coming, coming, coming, Sir.

Enter a Drawer with Lights, Shrimp, Knapsack, and Master Totty.

Draw. Please to be here, Gentlemen?

Shr. What’s become of your Beau-Drawer, that wore a long Spanish Wig, lac’d Linnen, silk Stockings, and a Patch?

Draw. He happen’d, Sir, to make bold with a silver Monteth, and is gone for a Soldier What Wine are you for Gentlemen?

Shr. [Aside to the Drawer.] D’you know Sir Harry Sprightly, Friend?

Draw. Yes, Sir.

Shr. What Wine does he drink?

Draw. Three and Six-penny, Sir.

Shr. I am his Servant, draw us the same.

Tot. Bring me some Sack. [Exit Drawer.

Shr. Well, Master, what think you of London now, is not the rattling of Coaches, the ringing of Bells, and the joyful Cry of Great and good News from Holland, preferrable to the Country, where you see nothing but Barns and Cow-houses, hear nothing but the grunting of Swine, and converse with nothing but the Justice, the Jack-daw, and your old Grand-mother.

Tot. Ay, marry is it, and if they ever get me there again, I’ll give ’em leave to pickle and preserve me; here are Drums and Trumpets, Soldiers and Sempstresses, and fine Sights in ev’ry Street: In the Country we are glad to go four Miles to see a House o’fire. Nay, wou’d you believe it, we ha’n’t so much as a Tavern in our Town; Gentlemen are forc’d to use Gammer Grimes’s Thatch’d Ale-house, except the Curate be with ’em, and then they smoke, and drink in the Vestry.

[Drawer enters with Wine.

Knap. Come, Master, here’s my hearty Service t’you.

Tott. Your hearty Servant thanks you, Sir Mr. Shrimp, here’s the Respects of a Gudgeon t’you.

Shr. Ah! you’re an arch Wag.

Tott. But, pray, Mr. Shrimp, where may a body buy a little Wit, my Grand-mother charg’d me to get some; and, she says, bought Wit’s best; ’tis a mighty scarce Commodity i’the Country; we have above two hundred Gentlemen near us that never heard on’t. Our Chaplain has a little, but they say ’tis n’t the right sort.

Shr. Mr. Knapsack can furnish you with five or ten Pounds worth when you please.

Knap. Mr. Shrimp, Master, has a much better Stock, but that you may n’t think I engross it to my self, as they say Bull does Coffee, what I have is at your Service.

Tott. Sir, my Service t’you again, [drinks] This is much better than Lincoln Ale, fegs.

Knap. What think you now, Master, of a pretty Wench to towze a little?

Tott. He, he, he, [grins] I don’t know what you mean, Sir.

Knap. Had you never any pleasant Thoughts o’the Fair Sex.

Tott. I never lay with any Body but my Grand-mother; when she was in a good humour, she’d tickle a Body sometimes, but if she never meddl’d mith me, I never meddl’d with her.

Knap. A sapless old Hen, you might as well have lain with a Paring-Shovel; but what think you of a young Woman, that’s warm, tender and inviting.

Shr. By this Light, here’s Betty the Orange Woman from the Play-house.

Enter Betty. [They rise

Bett. Ah! you Devils are you here, why did n’t you come into the Pit to night, and eat an Orange, who have you got with you, by my lost Maidenhead, a meer Country Widgeon, you sly Toads will bubble him finely; let me go snacks, or I’ll discover it. Come, Fellows, drink about; positively it’s very cold, fitting so behind at the Box Doors.

Shr. Honest Betty, here’s Success to thee in ev’ry thing.

Bett. Ay, Faith, but there’s little to do this Winter yet, now the Officers are come over, I hope, to have full Trade; I have had but one poor Shilling giv’n me to Night, and that was for carrying a Note from a Baronet in the Side Box to a Citizens Wife in the Gall’ry; but there was no harm in’t, ’twas only to treat with her here by and by, about borrowing a hundred Pound of her Husband upon the Reversion of a Parsonage. [To Knap.] Red Coat your Inclinations. [To Tott.] Sir, prosperity t’you, you are got into hopeful Company.

Tott. Thank you, Mrs. Betty.

Shr. Prithee Betty give us a Song.

Bett. A Song, Pigsneyes, why, I have been roaring all Night with Six Temple Rakes at the Dog and Partridge Tavern in Wild-street, and am so hoarse I cou’d not sing a Line, were the whole Town to subscribe for me.

Knap. Take t’other Glass, Betty.

Bett. T’other Glass, Fellow, by the Bishop of Munster, these Puppies have a Design upon me! but give it me, however, for all that know me, know I never baulk my Glass.

Shr. But the Song, the Song, Betty. [She Sings



How happy are we,
Who from Virtue are free,
That curbing Disease of the Mind,
Can indulge ev’ry Taste,
Love where we like best,
Not by dull Reputation confin’d


When were Young, fit to toy,
Gay Delights we enjoy,
And have Crouds of new Lovers wooing;
When were old and decay’d,
We procure for the Trade,
Still in ev’ry Age we are doing


If a Cully we meet,
We spend what we get
Ev’ry Day, for the next never think,
When we die, where we go,
We have no Sense to know,
For a Bawd always dies in drink

Bett. [Aside to Shrimp.] Hark’e, Satan, where did you pick up this modest Youth; does he bleed?

Shr. Oh! abundantly.

Bett. That’s well, dress him up, and send him to Will’s Coffee-House and he’ll soon grow impudent. [To Tott.] My dear, eat this Orange, and gi’me Half a Crown.

Tott. Half a Crown for an Orange! I can buy one in the Country for two Pence.

Bett. So you may in Town, lovely Swain, but ev’ry Smock I put upon my Back costs me nine Shillings an Ell.

Knap. But tell us, Betty, what Intrigues are going forward, your publick Post brings you into a world of private Business, d’you know ever an amorous Lady that would present me with a hundred Guineas to oblige her?

Bett. Thee, Child, Lord starve thee, a Foot Soldier! one o’the Infantry, a Lady that’s Fool enough to pay for her Pleasures, may provide her self better out o’ the Guards. Come, gi’me t’other Bumper, nothing’s to be got here, I find, and I must run.

Shr. Why in such hast, Betty?

Bett. Haste, Creature, why the Fourth Act is just done, and t’other bold Beast will run away with all the Money.

Knap. Hark’e, Bess, don’t stroddle over Peoples Backs so as you us’d to do.

Bett. Why, how now, Mr. Impudence, I think we do ’em too great an Honour, and whoever affronts me for it I’ll have him kick’d as soon as the Play’s over. [Exit.

Shr. Come, my dear Boy, let’s tope it about briskly; what think you of this Lass? is she not frank and free? If you had her in a Corner, she’d show you the way to Lyme-house.

Tott. Are all your London Women like her? Our Country Wenches are as Cross with treading upon Nettles; there’s Margery our Dairy-Maid, I only offer’d to feel her Bubbies, and she hit me a dowse o’the Jaws enough to beat down a Stack o’ Chimneys.

Shr. We’ll carry you to a Lady, Master, that shall stifle you with Kindness, as pretty a piece of Wild-fowl as paddles about Covent Garden; but you’ll tip her a Guinea, her Lodgings are extremely fine; and you must know a first Floor comes very dear.

Knap. She’s a Gentlewoman too, I’ll assure you, her Father was hang’d in Monmonth’s Time, wears as rich Cloaths as any Body, and never puts on the same Suit twice.

Tot. O Gemini, I long to see her; pray, Mr. Knapsack, lets go; but what shall I treat her with, boil’d Fowls and Oysters.

Knap. Something that’s very nice, she’s mighty dainty at Supper; but her constant Breakfast is a Red-Herring, and a quartern o’ Geneva. [Exeunt.

SCENE Changes to Lady Rodomonts.

Lady Rodomont and the Collonel discover’d.

L. Rod. Well, Collonel, now what think you of our Sex? Is there no Nymph so sovereignly bright, whole matchless Beauty, Virtue, Wit and Fortune you’d charm your rambling. Thoughts and chain you to her?

Coll. The Goddess you describe, you too well know her wond’rous Brightness, her commanding Excellence, where ev’ry Star seems glitt’ring in her Person, and ev’ry Science cultivates her Mind; no Swain but kindles at her vast Perfections, Sighs at her Feet, and trembles to approach her; but then a baneful Mischief thwarts our Transports, and while we feast us with luxuriant Gazing, that bug-bear Marriage rises like a Storm, clouds ev’ery Beauty, blackens with approaching, and frights away the gen’rous faithful Lover.

L. Rod. You talk of Love with an unusual Warmth, you seem to feel it too, and talk with Pleasure; and yet strange wand’ring Notions teaze your Fancy, whose vain Allurements tantalize your Reason, and force you from the Happiness you wish for. He that loves truly, loves without reserve; the Object is the Centre of his Wishes, but your wild Sex that hurry after Pleasure, whose headstrong Passions kindle ev’ry moment, admire each Nymph, and eager to possess, you burn, you rage, and talk in tragick Strains: But when the easy Maid believes, and blesses, when once you ha’ rifl’d, ravish’d and enjoy’d, ungratefully you slight the yielding Charmer; your Love boil’d o’er descends to cold Indifference, and a regardless Look rewards her Favours; were I inclin’d to wave my Resolutions, and yield my self a Victim to Love’s Pow’r, were I to chuse a Man by Fortune slighted, and raise him to a more than common Affluence; such is the Temper of your graceless Sex, there’s not a Cottage Swain that proves sincere.

Coll. Cou’d you then, Madam, condescend to love, and cou’d a Lover manifest his Passion, by constant waiting, vigilant Observance, by sacerdotal Plights, and Faith inviolate, wou’d you prove kind, and take him to your Arms.

L. Rod. Of things impossible we lightly talk; if such a Man were found, perhaps, I might.

Coll. Cherish that Thought; believe there is that Man; believe you see him now; observe him well.

L. Rod. Ha!

Coll. Read from his Eyes his passionate Concern, his flattering Hopes, his anxious killing Fears; examine ev’ry Symptom, feel his Tremblings, search to his Heart, and there find Truth unblemish’d; approve his Flame, and nourish it with Favours.

L. Rod. Have I caught you, Collonel; is this the Sum of all your Self-sufficiency, your Matrimonial Hate, and boasted Liberty. [Aside.] His Merits probably may vie with any, but sure he last shou’d hope a Lady’s Graces, who saucily arraigns her Sex’s Pow’r.

Enter Nicknack.

Mr. Nicknack, I have a Miracle to tell you, the Collonel from a blustering, ranting Héroe is dwindl’d to a panting, pining Lover; talks in blank Verse, and Sighs in mournful postures: He the fam’d Pyramus, and I bright Thisbe.

Nic. I thought, Madam, the Collonel had been a profess’d Marriage-hater.

L. Rod. Mr. Nicknack, we’ll divert our selves at Picquet. When you recover, Collonel, from this Lethargy, you’ll play a Pool with us; Ladies admit all sorts to lose their Mony. [Exit Lady Rod. and Nick.

Coll. I have plaid a fine Card truly, now shall I be number’d with those doating Fools, her Pride encourages, then Jilts, and laughs at. She’s fair, but, oh! the Treachery of her Sex.

Enter Sir Harry.

Sir Har. My dear Collonel, prithee why so pensive? I have had the pleasantest Adventure this Afternoon, going to the Bank to receive Mony; in Pater-Noster-Row I saw two of the loveliest Sempstresses the Trade e’er countenanc’d; I went into the Shop, struck up a Bargain, whipt over to the Castle, where we eat four Crabs, top’d six Bottles, skuttl’d up and down, kiss’d, towz’d and tumbl’d ’till we broke ev’ry Chair in the Room. But you are so engag’d with Lady Rodomont, your Company’s a Blessing unattainable.

Coll. Yes, I have been engag’d, and finely treated. The Syren with her false deluding Arts, her Force of Words and seeming to comply, has drawn me to declare my Passion for her; now rallies and despises all I said, and hugs her self in baffling my Design.

Sir Har. ‘Tis like her Sex, they will ha’ their Jades Tricks, but never mind ’em; we’ll to the Tavern and consult new Measures: Our Perseverance is beyond their Policy.

The started Hare may frisk it o’er the Plain,
And the staunch Hound long trace her Steps in vain,
Swiftly she flies, then stops, turns back and views, }
Doubles, and quats, and her lost Strength renews, }
But tho’ unseen, he still the Scent persues, }
’Till breathless to a fatal Period brought,
The Hound o’ertakes her, and poor Puss is caught.