Fiction > Harvard Classics > Richard Brinsley Sheridan > The School for Scandal
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816).  The School for Scandal.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act Fifth
 
Scene II
 
 
A Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE’S House
  1
 
Enter MRS. CANDOUR and Maid
  2
  Maid. Indeed, ma’am, my lady will see nobody at present.  3
  Mrs. Can.  Did you tell her it was her friend Mrs. Candour?  4
  Maid. Yes, ma’am; but she begs you will excuse her.  5
  Mrs. Can.  Do go again; I shall be glad to see her, if it be only for a moment, for I am sure she must be in great distress.—[Exit MAID.] Dear heart, how provoking! I’m not mistress of half the circumstances! We shall have the whole affair in the newspapers, with the names of the parties at length, before I have dropped the story at a dozen houses.  6
 
Enter SIR BENJAMIN BACKBITE
  7
Oh, dear Sir Benjamin! you have heard, I suppose—  8
  Sir Ben.  Of Lady Teazle and Mr. Surface—  9
  Mrs. Can.  And Sir Peter’s discovery—  10
  Sir Ben.  Oh, the strangest piece of business, to be sure!  11
  Mrs. Can.  Well, I never was so surprised in my life. I am so sorry for all parties, indeed.  12
  Sir Ben.  Now, I don’t pity Sir Peter at all: he was so extravagantly partial to Mr. Surface.  13
  Mrs. Can.  Mr. Surface! Why, ’twas with Charles Lady Teazle was detected.  14
  Sir Ben.  No, no, I tell you: Mr. Surface is the gallant.  15
  Mrs. Can.  No such thing! Charles is the man. ’Twas Mr. Surface brought Sir Peter on purpose to discover them.  16
  Sir Ben.  I tell you I had it from one—  17
  Mrs. Can.  And I have it from one—  18
  Sir Ben.  Who had it from one, who had it—  19
  Mrs. Can.  From one immediately. But here comes Lady Sneerwell; perhaps she knows the whole affair.  20
 
Enter LADY SNEERWELL
  21
  Lady Sneer.  So, my dear Mrs. Candour, here’s a sad affair of our friend Lady Teazle!  22
  Mrs. Can.  Ay, my dear friend, who would have thought—  23
  Lady Sneer.  Well, there is no trusting appearances; though, indeed, she was always too lively for me.  24
  Mrs. Can.  To be sure, her manners were a little too free; but then she was so young!  25
  Lady Sneer.  And had, indeed, some good qualities.  26
  Mrs. Can.  So she had, indeed. But have you heard the particulars?  27
  Lady Sneer.  No; but every body says that Mr. Surface—  28
  Sir Ben.  Ay, there; I told you Mr. Surface was the man.  29
  Mrs. Can.  No, no: indeed the assignation was with Charles.  30
  Lady Sneer.  With Charles! You alarm me, Mrs. Candour!  31
  Mrs. Can.  Yes, yes; he was the lover. Mr. Surface, to do him justice, was only the informer.  32
  Sir Ben.  Well, I’ll not dispute with you, Mrs. Candour; but, be it which it may, I hope that Sir Peter’s wound will not—  33
  Mrs. Can.  Sir Peter’s wound! Oh, mercy! I didn’t hear a word of their fighting.  34
  Lady Sneer.  Nor I, a syllable.  35
  Sir Ben.  No! what, no mention of the duel?  36
  Mrs. Can.  Not a word.  37
  Sir Ben.  Oh, yes: they fought before they left the room.  38
  Lady Sneer.  Pray, let us hear.  39
  Mrs. Can.  Ay, do oblige us with the duel.  40
  Sir Ben.  Sir, says Sir Peter, immediately after the discovery, you are a most ungrateful fellow.  41
  Mrs. Can.  Ay, to Charles—  42
  Sir Ben.  No, no—to Mr. Surface—a most ungrateful fellow; and old as I am, sir, says he, I insist on immediate satisfaction.  43
  Mrs. Can.  Ay, that must have been to Charles; for ’tis very unlikely Mr. Surface should fight in his own house.  44
  Sir Ben.  Gad’s life, ma’am, not at all—giving me immediate satisfaction.—On this, ma’am, Lady Teazle, seeing Sir Peter in such danger, ran out of the room in strong hysterics, and Charles after her, calling out for hartshorn and water; then, madam, they began to fight with swords—  45
 
Enter CRABTREE
  46
  Crab.  With pistols, nephew, pistols! I have it from undoubted authority.  47
  Mrs. Can.  Oh, Mr. Crabtree, then it is all true!  48
  Crab.  Too true, indeed, madam, and Sir Peter is dangerously wounded—  49
  Sir Ben.  By a thrust in segoon quite through his left side—  50
  Crab.  By a bullet lodged in the thorax.  51
  Mrs. Can.  Mercy on me! Poor Sir Peter!  52
  Crab.  Yes, madam; though Charles would have avoided the matter, if he could.  53
  Mrs. Can.  I told you who it was; I knew Charles was the person.  54
  Sir Ben.  My uncle, I see, knows nothing of the matter.  55
  Crab.  But Sir Peter taxed him with basest ingratitude—  56
  Sir Ben.  That I told you, you know—  57
  Crab.  Do, nephew, let me speak!—and insisted on immediate—  58
  Sir Ben.  Just as I said—  59
  Crab.  Odd’s life, nephew, allow others to know something too! A pair of pistols lay on the bureau (for Mr. Surface, it seems, had come home the night before late from Salthill, where he had been to see the Montem with a friend, who has a son at Eton), so, unluckily, the pistols were left charged.  60
  Sir Ben.  I heard nothing of this.  61
  Crab.  Sir Peter forced Charles to take one, and they fired, it seems, pretty nearly together. Charles’ shot took effect, as I tell you, and Sir Peter’s missed; but, what is very extraordinary, the ball struck against a little bronze Shakespeare that stood over the fire place, grazed out of the window at a right angle, and wounded the postman, who was just coming to the door with a double letter from Northamptonshire.  62
  Sir Ben.  My uncle’s account is more circumstantial, I confess; but I believe mine is the true one, for all that.  63
  Lady Sneer.  [Aside.] I am more interested in this affair than they imagine, and must have better information.  [Exit.  64
  Sir Ben.  Ah! Lady Sneerwell’s alarm is very easily accounted for.  65
  Crab.  Yes, yes, they certainly do say—but that’s neither here nor there.  66
  Mrs. Can.  But, pray, where is Sir Peter at present?  67
  Crab.  Oh! they brought him home, and he is now in the house, though the servants are ordered to deny him.  68
  Mrs. Can.  I believe so, and Lady Teazle, I suppose, attending him.  69
  Crab.  Yes, yes; and I saw one of the faculty enter just before me.  70
  Sir Ben.  Hey! who comes here?  71
  Crab.  Oh, this is he: the physician, depend on’t.  72
  Mrs. Can.  Oh, certainly! it must be the physician; and now we shall know.  73
 
Enter SIR OLIVER SURFACE
  74
  Crab.  Well, doctor, what hopes?  75
  Mrs. Can.  Ay, doctor, how’s your patient?  76
  Sir Ben.  Now, doctor, isn’t it a wound with a small sword?  77
  Crab.  A bullet lodged in the thorax, for a hundred!  78
  Sir Oliv.  Doctor! a wound with a small-sword! and a bullet in the thorax!—Oons! are you mad, good people?  79
  Sir Ben.  Perhaps, sir, you are not a doctor?  80
  Sir Oliv.  Truly, I am to thank you for my degree, if I am.  81
  Crab.  Only a friend of Sir Peter’s, then, I presume. But, sir, you must have heard of his accident?  82
  Sir Oliv.  Not a word!  83
  Crab.  Not of his being dangerously wounded?  84
  Sir Oliv.  The devil he is!  85
  Sir Ben.  Run through the body—  86
  Crab.  Shot in the breast—  87
  Sir Ben.  By one Mr. Surface—  88
  Crab.  Ay, the younger.  89
  Sir Oliv.  Hey! what the plague! you seem to differ strangely in your accounts: however, you agree that Sir Peter is dangerously wounded.  90
  Sir Ben.  Oh, yes, we agree in that.  91
  Crab.  Yes, yes, I believe there can be no doubt of that.  92
  Sir Oliv.  Then, upon my word, for a person in that situation, he is the most imprudent man alive; for here he comes, walking as if nothing at all was the matter.  93
 
Enter SIR PETER TEAZLE
  94
Odd’s heart, Sir Peter! you are come in good time, I promise you; for we had just given you over!  95
  Sir Ben.  [Aside to CRABTREE.] Egad, uncle, this is the most sudden recovery!  96
  Sir Oliv.  Why, man! what do you out of bed with a small-sword through your body, and a bullet logged in your thorax?  97
  Sir Pet.  A small-sword and a bullet!  98
  Sir Oliv.  Ay; these gentlemen would have killed you without law or physic, and wanted to dub me a doctor, to make me an accomplice.  99
  Sir Pet.  Why, what is all this?  100
  Sir Ben.  We rejoice, Sir Peter, that the story of the duel is not true, and are sincerely sorry for your other misfortune.  101
  Sir Pet.  So, so; all over the town already!  [Aside.  102
  Crab.  Though, Sir Peter, you were certainly vastly to blame to marry at your years.  103
  Sir Pet.  Sir, what business is that of yours?  104
  Mrs. Can.  Though, indeed, as Sir Peter made so good a husband, he’s very much to be pitied.  105
  Sir Pet.  Plague on your pity, ma’am! I desire none of it.  106
  Sir Ben.  However, Sir Peter, you must not mind the laughing and jests you will meet with on the occasion.  107
  Sir Pet.  Sir, sir! I desire to be master in my own house.  108
  Crab.  ’Tis no uncommon case, that’s one comfort.  109
  Sir Pet.  I insist on being left to myself: without ceremony, I insist on your leaving my house directly!  110
  Mrs. Can.  Well, well, we are going; and depend on’t, we’ll make the best report of it we can.  [Exit.  111
  Sir Pet.  Leave my house!  112
  Crab.  And tell how hardly you’ve been treated.  [Exit.  113
  Sir Pet.  Leave my house!  114
  Sir Ben.  And how patiently you bear it.  [Exit.  115
  Sir Pet.  Fiends! vipers! furies! Oh! that their own venom would choke them!  116
  Sir Oliv.  They are very provoking indeed, Sir Peter.  117
 
Enter ROWLEY
  118
  Row.  I heard high words: what has ruffled you, sir?  119
  Sir Pet.  Psha! what signifies asking? Do I ever pass a day without my vexations?  120
  Row.  Well, I’m not inquisitive.  121
  Sir Oliv.  Well, Sir Peter, I have seen both my nephews in the manner we proposed.  122
  Sir Pet.  A precious couple they are!  123
  Row.  Yes, and Sir Oliver is convinced that your judgment was right, Sir Peter.  124
  Sir Oliv.  Yes, I find Joseph is indeed the man, after all.  125
  Row.  Ay, as Sir Peter says, he is a man of sentiment.  126
  Sir Oliv.  And acts up to the sentiments he professes.  127
  Row.  It certainly is edification to hear him talk.  128
  Sir Oliv.  Oh, he’s a model for the young men of the age!—but how’s this, Sir Peter? you don’t join us in your friend Joseph’s praise, as I expected.  129
  Sir Pet.  Sir Oliver, we live in a damned wicked world, and the fewer we praise the better.  130
  Row.  What! do you say so, Sir Peter, who were never mistaken in your life?  131
  Sir Pet.  Psha! plague on you both! I see by your sneering you have heard the whole affair. I shall go mad among you!  132
  Row.  Then, to fret you no longer, Sir Peter, we are indeed acquainted with it all. I met Lady Teazle coming from Mr. Surface’s so humbled, that she deigned to request me to be her advocate with you.  133
  Sir Pet.  And does Sir Oliver know all this?  134
  Sir Oliv.  Every circumstance.  135
  Sir Pet.  What, of the closet and the screen, hey?  136
  Sir Oliv.  Yes, yes, and the little French milliner. Oh, I have been vastly diverted with the story! ha! ha! ha!  137
  Sir Pet.  ’Twas very pleasant.  138
  Sir Oliv.  I never laughed more in my life, I assure you: ha! ha! ha!  139
  Sir Pet.  Oh, vastly diverting! ha! ha! ha!  140
  Row.  To be sure, Joseph with his sentiments! ha! ha! ha!  141
  Sir Pet.  Yes, yes, his sentiments! ha! ha! ha! Hypocritical villain!  142
  Sir Oliv.  Ay, and that rogue Charles to pull Sir Peter out of the closet: ha! ha! ha!  143
  Sir Pet.  Ha! ha! ’twas devilish entertaining, to be sure!  144
  Sir Oliv.  Ha! ha! ha! Egad, Sir Peter, I should like to have seen your face when the screen was thrown down: ha! ha!  145
  Sir Pet.  Yes, yes, my face when the screen was thrown down: ha! ha! ha! Oh, I must never show my head again!  146
  Sir Oliv.  But come, come, it isn’t fair to laugh at you neither, my old friend; though, upon my soul, I can’t help it.  147
  Sir Pet.  Oh, pray don’t restrain your mirth on my account: it does not hurt me at all! I laugh at the whole affair myself. Yes, yes, I think being a standing jest for all one’s acquaintance a very happy situation. Oh, yes, and then of a morning to read the paragraphs about Mr. S——, Lady T——, and Sir P——, will be so entertaining!  148
  Row.  Without affectation, Sir Peter, you may despise the ridicule of fools. But I see Lady Teazle going towards the next room; I am sure you must desire a reconciliation as earnestly as she does.  149
  Sir Oliv.  Perhaps my being here prevents her coming to you. Well, I’ll leave honest Rowley to mediate between you; but he must bring you all presently to Mr. Surface’s, where I am now returning, if not to reclaim a libertine, at least to expose hypocrisy.  150
  Sir Pet.  I’ll be present at your discovering yourself there with all my heart; though ’tis a vile unlucky place for discoveries.  151
  Row.  We’ll follow.  [Exit SIR OLIVER SURFACE.  152
  Sir Pet.  She is not coming here, you see, Rowley.  153
  Row.  No, but she has left the door of that room open, you perceive. See, she is in tears.  154
  Sir Pet.  Certainly a little mortification appears very becoming in a wife. Don’t you think it will do her good to let her pine a little?  155
  Row.  Oh, this is ungenerous in you!  156
  Sir Pet.  Well, I know not what to think. You remember the letter I found to hers evidently intended for Charles?  157
  Row.  A mere forgery, Sir Peter! laid in your way on purpose. This is one of the points which I intend Snake shall give you conviction of.  158
  Sir Pet.  I wish I were once satisfied of that. She looks this way. What a remarkably elegant turn of the head she has! Rowley, I’ll go to her.  159
  Row.  Certainly.  160
  Sir Pet.  Though, when it is known that we are reconciled, people will laugh at me ten times more.  161
  Row.  Let them laugh, and retort their malice only by showing them you are happy in spite of it.  162
  Sir Pet.  I’ faith, so I will! and, if I’m not mistaken, we may yet be the happiest couple in the country.  163
  Row.  Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside suspicion—  164
  Sir Pet.  Hold, Master Rowley! if you have any regard for me, never let me hear you utter any thing like a sentiment: I have had enough of them to serve me the rest of my life.  [Exeunt.  165
 

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