Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
An Old Man’s Young Passion
By William Congreve (1670–1729)
 
From “Love for Love”

ANGELICA and SIR SAMPSON.

Sir Samp.  I have not been honoured with the commands of a fair lady a great while—odd, madam, you have revived me!—not since I was five-and-thirty.
  1
  Ang.  Why, you have no great reason to complain, Sir Sampson; that is not long ago.  2
  Sir Samp.  Zooks, but it is, madam, a very great while to a man that admires a fine woman as much as I do.  3
  Ang.  You’re an absolute courtier, Sir Sampson.  4
  Sir Samp.  Not at all, madam; odsbud you wrong me. I am not so old, neither, to be a bare courtier, only a man of words. Odd, I have warm blood about me yet, and can serve a lady any way. Come, come, let me tell you, you women think a man old too soon, faith and troth, you do! Come, don’t despise fifty; odd, fifty, in a hale constitution, is no such contemptible age.  5
  Ang.  Fifty a contemptible age! Not at all; a very fashionable age, I think. I assure you, I know very considerable beaux that set a good face upon fifty. Fifty! I have seen fifty in a side-box, by candle-light, out-blossom five-and-twenty.  6
  Sir Samp.  Outsides, outsides; a pize take ’em, mere outsides! Hang your side-box beaux! No, I’m none of those, none of your forced trees, that pretend to blossom in the fall, and bud when they should bring forth fruit. I am of a long-lived race, and inherit vigour. None of my ancestors married till fifty, yet they begot sons and daughters till fourscore. I am of your patriarchs; I, a branch of one of your antediluvian families, fellows that the flood could not wash away. Well, madam, what are your commands? Has any young rogue affronted you, and shall I cut his throat? Or——  7
  Ang.  No, Sir Sampson, I have no quarrel upon my hands. I have more occasion for your conduct than your courage at this time. To tell you the truth, I’m weary of living single, and want a husband.  8
  Sir Samp.  Odsbud, and ’tis pity you should!  (Aside.)  Odd, would she would like me, then I should hamper my young rogues. Odd, would she would; faith and troth she’s devilish handsome!  (Aloud.)  Madam, you deserve a good husband, and ’twere pity you should be thrown away upon any of these young idle rogues about the town. Odd, there’s ne’er a young fellow worth hanging—that is, a very young fellow. Pize on ’em! they never think beforehand of anything; and if they commit matrimony, ’tis as they commit murder—out of a frolic, and are ready to hang themselves, or to be hanged by the law, the next morning. Odso, have a care, madam.  9
  Ang.  Therefore I ask your advice, Sir Sampson. I have fortune enough to make any man easy that I can like; if there were such a thing as a young agreeable man with a reasonable stock of good-nature and sense. For I would neither have an absolute wit nor a fool.  10
  Sir Samp.  Odd, you are hard to please, madam. To find a young fellow that is neither a wit in his own eye, nor a fool in the eye of the world, is a very hard task. But, faith and troth, you speak very discreetly; for I hate both a wit and a fool.  11
  Ang.  She that marries a fool, Sir Sampson, forfeits the reputation of her honesty or understanding; and she that marries a very witty man is a slave to the severity and insolent conduct of her husband. I should like a man of wit for a lover, because I would have such a one in my power; but I would no more be his wife than his enemy. For his malice is not a more terrible consequence of his aversion than his jealousy is of his love.  12
  Sir Samp.  None of old Foresight’s Sibyls ever uttered such a truth. Odsbud, you have won my heart! I hate a wit. I had a son that was spoiled among ’em; a good, hopeful lad, till he learned to be a wit—and might have risen in the state. But a cox on’t! his wit run him out of his money, and now his poverty has run him out of his wits.  13
  Ang.  Sir Sampson, as your friend, I must tell you, you are very much abused in that matter; he’s no more mad than you are.  14
  Sir Samp.  How, madam! Would I could prove it!  15
  Ang.  I can tell you how that may be done. But it is a thing that would make me appear to be too much concerned in your affairs.  16
  Sir Samp.  (aside).  Odsbud, I believe she likes me!  (Aloud.)  Ah, madam, all my affairs are scarce worthy to be laid at your feet; and I wish, madam, they were in a better posture, that I might make a more becoming offer to a lady of your incomparable beauty and merit. If I had Peru in one hand, and Mexico in t’other, and the Eastern Empire under my feet, it would make me only a more glorious victim to be offered at the shrine of your beauty.  17
  Ang.  Bless me, Sir Sampson, what’s the matter?  18
  Sir Samp.  Odd, madam, I love you! And if you would take my advice in a husband——  19
  Ang.  Hold, hold, Sir Sampson! I asked your advice for a husband, and you are giving me your consent. I was indeed thinking to propose something like it in jest, to satisfy you about your son, for if a match were seemingly carried on between you and me, it would oblige him to throw off his disguise of madness, in apprehension of losing me. You know he has long pretended a passion for me.  20
  Sir Samp.  Gadzooks, a most ingenious contrivance—if we were to go through with it. But why must the match only be seemingly carried on? Odd, let it be a real contract.  21
  Ang.  Oh, fy, Sir Sampson! What would the world say?  22
  Sir Samp.  Say! They would say you were a wise woman and I a happy man. Odd, madam, I’ll love you as long as I live, and leave you a good jointure when I die.  23
  Ang.  Aye, but that is not in your power, Sir Sampson; for when Valentine confesses himself in his senses, he must make over his inheritance to his younger brother.  24
  Sir Samp.  Odd, you’re cunning, a wary baggage! Faith and troth, I like you the better. But, I warrant you, I have a proviso in the obligation in favour of myself. Body o’ me, I have a trick to turn the settlement upon the issue male of our two bodies begotten. Odsbud, let us find children, and I’ll find an estate.  25
  Ang.  Will you? Well, do you find the estate, and leave the other to me.  26
  Sir Samp.  Oh, rogue! But I’ll trust you. And will you consent? Is it a match, then?  27
  Ang.  Let me consult my lawyer concerning this obligation; and if I find what you propose practicable, I’ll give you my answer.  28
  Sir Samp.  With all my heart; come in with me, and I’ll lend you the bond. You shall consult your lawyer, and I’ll consult a parson. Odzooks, I’m a young man; odzooks, I’m a young man, and I’ll make it appear. Odd, you’re devilish handsome. Faith and troth, you’re very handsome; and I’m very young, and very lusty. Odsbud, hussy, you know how to choose, and so do I. Odd, I think we are very well met. Give me your hand, odd, let me kiss it; ’tis as warm and as soft—as what? Odd, as t’other hand; give me t’other hand, and I’ll mumble ’em and kiss ’em till they melt in my mouth.  29
  Ang.  Hold, Sir Sampson; you’re profuse of your vigour before your time. You’ll spend your estate before you come to it.  30
  Sir Samp.  No, no, only give you a rent-roll of my possessions. Ha! baggage! I warrant you for little Sampson. Odd, Sampson’s a very good name for an able fellow; your Sampsons were strong dogs from the beginning.  31
  Ang.  Have a care, and don’t overact your part. If you remember, Sampson, the strongest of the name, pulled an old house over his head at last.  32
  Sir Samp.  Say you so, hussy? Come, let’s go, then. Odd, I long to be pulling too; come away.  33
 
 
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