Extracts from Vanbrugh’s “The Provok’d Wife”

Constant and Heartfree:
Const.: But she’s cold, my Friend, still cold as the Northern Star.
Heart.: So are all Women by Nature, which makes ‘em so willing to be warm’d.
Const.: O don’t prophane the Sex; prithee think ’em all Angels for her sake, for she’s virtuous, even to a fault.
Heart.: A Lover’s Head is a good accountable thing truly; he adores his Mistress for being virtuous, and yet is very angry with her, because she won’t be lewd.

Heart.: Yet not one kind Glance in Two Years, is somewhat strange.
Const.: Not strange at all; she don’t like you, that’s all the business.

Const.: Ha, Heartfree: Thou has done me Noble Service in pratling to the young Gentlewoman without there; come to my Arms, Thou Venerable Bawd, and let me squeeze thee as a new pair of stays do’s a Fat Country Girl, when she’s carry’d to Court to stand for a Maid of Honour.

Const.: How now, Heartfree? What makes you up and Dress’d so soon? I thought none but Lovers quarrell’d with their Bed.

Heart.: Prithee take heart, I have great hopes for you, and since I can’t bring you quite off of her, I’ll endeavour to bring you quite on; for a whining lover, is the damn’d’st Companion upon Earth.

Const.: So, Play-fellow: Here’s something to stay your Stomach, till your Mistress’s Dish is ready for you.
Heart.: Some of our old Batter’d Acquaintance.

Heart.: But Prithee advise me in this good and Evil, this Life and Death, this Blessing and Cursing, that is set before me. Shall I marry — or die a Maid?
Const.: Why Faith, Heartfree, Matrimony is like an Army going to engage. Love’s the forlorn Hope, which is soon cut off; the Marriage-Knot is the main Body, which may stand Buff a long, long time; and Repentance is the Rear-Guard, which rarely gives ground as long as the main Battle has a Being.
Heart.: Conclusion then; you advise me to whore on, as you do.

Const.: What say’st thou, Friend, to this Matrimonial Remedy?
Heart.: Why I say, it’s worse than the disease.
Const.: Here’s a Fellow for you: There’s Beauty and Money on her Side, and Love up to the ears on his; and yet—
Heart.: And yet, I think, I may reasonably be allow’d to boggle at marrying the Niece, in the very Moment that you are debauching the Aunt.
Const.: Why truly, there may be something in that.

Lady Fancyfull, Lady Brute, and Bellinda
Lady F.: Lord, how proud some would some poor Creatures be of such a Conquest? But I alas, don’t know how to receive as a favour, what I take to be so infinitely my due. But what shall I do to new mould him, Madamoiselle? for till then he’s my utter aversion.

Lady B.: Shield me, kind Heaven, what an inundation of Impertinence is here coming upon us!

Bellinda: Well, you Men are unaccountable things, mad till you have your Mistresses; and then stark mad till you are rid of ’em again. Tell me, honestly, is not your Patience put to a much severer Tryal after Possession, than before?

Lady B.: But after all, ’tis a Vicious practice in us, to give the least encouragement but where we design to come to a Conclusion. For ’tis an unreasonable thing, to engage a Man in a Disease which we before-hand resolve we never will apply a Cure to.
Bellinda: ‘Tis true; but then a Woman must abandon one of the supreme Blessings of her Life. For I am fully convinc’d, no Man has half that pleasure in possessing a Mistress, as a Woman has in jilting a Gallant.

Sir John Brute
Sir John: Best Wives! —the Woman’s well enough; she has no Vice that I know of, but she’s a Wife, and— damn a Wife; if I were married to a Hogshead of Claret, Matrimony would make me hate it.

Sir John: Oons, Sir, I think a Woman and a Secret, are the two Impertinentest Themes in the Universe. Therefore pray let’s hear no more, of my Wife nor your Mistress. Damn ’em both with all my Heart, and every thing else that Daggles a Petticoat, except four Generous Whores, with Betty Sands at the head of ’em, who were drunk with my Lord Rake and I, ten times in a Fortnight.

Constable: Come Sir, out of Respect to your Calling, I shan’t put you in the Round-house; but we must Secure you in our Drawing-Room till Morning, that you may do no Mischief. So, Come along.
Sir John: You may put me where you will, Sirrah, now you have overcome, me — But if I can’t do Mischief, I’ll think of Mischief — in spite of your Teeth, you Dog you.

Sir John: And now, what shall I do with her? —If I put my Horns in my Pocket, she’ll grow Insolent. — If I don’t, that Goat there, that Stallion, is ready to whip me through the Guts. —The Debate then is reduc’d to this: Shall I die a Hero? or live a Rascal? —Why, Wiser Men than I have long since concluded, that a living Dog is better than a dead Lion.

Sir John: Sure if Woman had been ready created, the Devil, instead of being kick’d down into hell, had been Married.