Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 20

[+] | [-] | reset
 

"No, truly," returned the Captain: "for now here's me, why I look like any other man; just now; and yet, if you were to put me in a passion, 'fore George, you'd soon see me have as fine a high colour as any painted Jezebel in all this place, be she never so bedaubed."

"But," said Lord Orville, "the difference of natural and of artificial colour seems to me very easily discerned; that of nature is mottled and varying; that of art set, and too smooth; it wants that animation, that glow, that indescribable something, which, even now that I see it, wholly surpasses all my powers of expression."

"Your Lordship," said Sir Clement, "is universally acknowledged to be a connoisseur in beauty."

"And you, Sir Clement," returned he, "an enthusiast."

"I am proud to own it," cried Sir Clement; "in such a cause, and before such objects, enthusiasm is simply the consequence of not being blind."

"Pr'ythee, a truce with all this palavering," cried the Captain: "the women are vain enough already; no need for to puff 'em up more."

"We must all submit to the commanding officer," said Sir Clement: "therefore, let us call another subject. Pray, ladies, how have you been entertained with the play?"

"Want of entertainment," said Mrs. Mirvan, "is its least fault; but I own there are objections to it, which I should be glad to see removed."

"I could have ventured to answer for the ladies," said Lord Orville, "since I am sure this is not a play that can be honoured with their approbation."

"What, I suppose it is not sentimental enough!" cried the Captain, "or else it is too good for them; for I'll maintain it's one of the best comedies in our language, and has more wit in one scene than there is in all the new plays put together."

"For my part," said Mr. Lovel, "I confess I seldom listen to the players: one has so much to do, in looking about and finding out one's acquaintance, that, really, one has no time to mind the stage. Pray," most affectedly fixing his eyes upon a diamond ring on his little finger, "pray-what was the play to-night?"

"Why, what the D-l," cried the Captain, "do you come to the play without knowing what it is?"

"O yes, Sir, yes, very frequently: I have no time to read play-bills; one merely comes to meet one's friends, and shew that one's alive."

"Ha, ha, ha!-and so," cried the Captain, "it costs you five shillings a-night just to shew you're alive! Well, faith, my friends should all think me dead and underground before I'd be at that expense for 'em. Howsomever-this here you may take from me-they'll find you out fast enough if you have anything to give 'em.-And so you've been here all this time, and don't know what the play was?"

"Why, really Sir, a play requires so much attention,-it is scarce possible to keep awake if one listens;-for, indeed, by the time it is evening, one has been so fatigued with dining,-or wine,-or the housew,-or studying,-that it is-it is perfectly an impossibility. But, now I think of it, I believe I have a bill in my pocket; O, ay, here it is-Love for Love, ay,-true, ha, ha!-how could I be so stupid!"

"O, easily enough, as to that, I warrant you," said the Captain; "but, by my soul, this is one of the best jokes I ever heard!-Come to a play, and not know what it is!-Why, I suppose you wouldn't have found it out, if they had fob'd you off with a scraping of fiddlers, or an opera?-Ha, ha, ha!-Why, now, I should have thought you might have taken some notice of one Mr. Tattlew, that is in this play!"

This sarcasm, which caused a general smile, made him colour: but, turning to the Captain with a look of conceit, which implied that he had a retort ready, he said, "Pray, Sir, give me leave to ask-What do you think of one Mr. Benw, who is also in this play?"

The Captain, regarding him with the utmost contempt, answered in a loud voice, "Think of him!-why, I think he is a man!" And then, staring full in his face, he struck his cane on the ground with a violence that made him start. He did not however, choose to take any notice of this: but, having bit his nails some time in manifest confusion, he turned very quick to me, and in a sneering tone of voice, said, "For my part, I was most struck with the country young lady, Miss Pruew; pray what do you think of her, Ma'am?"

X [w] house

Places

The House of Commons.  The London season paralleled the annual sittings of Parliament from after Christmas through mid-June.  Then parliamentarians, their families, those with an interest in parliamentary matters, hangers-on, and entourages all congregated in London and provided a public for its stages, assemblies, and entertainments.  

X [w] Mr. Tattle

The foppish gossip in Love for Love.

X [w] Mr. Ben

An early example of the positive caricature of a British tar, good-hearted, generous, and complicitious in helping his brother Valentine secure the inheritance that will enable him to pursue his suit with Angelica. Captain Mirvan's response to a brother sailor is admiring. 

 

X [w] Miss Prue

Lovel tries to link Evelina with Congreve's Miss Prue, lately arrived in London from the country.