Home  »  The School for Scandal  »  Act Second

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816). The School for Scandal.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Scene III

Act Second



Sir Oliv.Ha! ha! ha! so my old friend is married, hey?—a young wife out of the country. Ha! ha! ha! that he should have stood bluff to old bachelor so long, and sink into a husband at last!

Row.But you must not rally him on the subject, Sir Oliver; ’tis a tender point, I assure you, though he has been married only seven months.

Sir Oliv.Then he has been just half a year on the stool of repentance!—Poor Peter! But you say he has entirely given up Charles—never sees him, hey?

Row.His prejudice against him is astonishing, and I am sure greatly increased by a jealousy of him with Lady Teazle, which he has industriously been led into by a scandalous society in the neighbourhood, who have contributed not a little to Charles’ ill name. Whereas the truth is, I believe, if the lady is partial to either of them, his brother is the favourite.

Sir Oliv.Ay, I know there are a set of malicious, prating, prudent gossips, both male and female, who murder characters to kill time, and will rob a young fellow of his good name before he has years to know the value of it. But I am not to be prejudiced against my nephew by such, I promise you! No, no: if Charles has done nothing false or mean, I shall compound for his extravagance.

Row.Then, my life on’t, you will reclaim him. Ah, sir, it gives me new life to find that your heart is not turned against him, and that the son of my good old master has one friend, however, left.

Sir Oliv.What! shall I forget, Master Rowley, when I was at his years myself? Egad, my brother and I were neither of us very prudent youths; and yet, I believe, you have not seen many better men than your old master was?

Row.Sir, ’tis this reflection gives me assurance that Charles may yet be a credit to his family. But here comes Sir Peter.

Sir Oliv.Egad, so he does! Mercy on me! he’s greatly altered, and seems to have a settled married look! One may read husband in his face at this distance!


Sir Pet.Ha! Sir Oliver—my old friend! Welcome to England a thousand times!

Sir Oliv.Thank you, thank you, Sir Peter! and i’ faith I am glad to find you well, believe me!

Sir Pet.Oh! ’tis a long time since we met—fifteen years, I doubt, Sir Oliver, and many a cross accident in the time.

Sir Oliv.Ay, I have had my share. But what! I find you are married, hey, my old boy? Well, well, it can’t be helped; and so—I wish you joy with all my heart!

Sir Pet.Thank you, thank you, Sir Oliver.—Yes, I have entered into— the happy state; but we’ll not talk of that now.

Sir Oliv.True, true, Sir Peter; old friends should not begin on grievances at first meeting. No, no, no.

Row.[Aside to SIR OLIVER.] Take care, pray, sir.

Sir Oliv.Well, so one of my nephews is a wild rogue, hey?

Sir Pet.Wild! Ah! my old friend, I grieve for your disappointment there; he’s a lost young man, indeed. However, his brother will make you amends; Joseph is, indeed, what a youth should be—every body in the world speaks well of him.

Sir Oliv.I am sorry to hear it; he has too good a character to be an honest fellow. Every body speaks well of him! Psha! then he has bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of genius and virtue.

Sir Pet.What, Sir Oliver! do you blame him for not making enemies?

Sir Oliv.Yes, if he has merit enough to deserve them.

Sir Pet.Well, well—you’ll be convinced when you know him. ’Tis edification to bear him converse; he professes the noblest sentiments.

Sir Oliv.Oh, plague of his sentiments! If he salutes me with a scrap of morality in his mouth, I shall be sick directly. But, however, don’t mistake me, Sir Peter; I don’t mean to defend Charles’ errors: but, before I form my judgment of either of them, I intend to make a trial of their hearts; and my friend Rowley and I have planned something for the purpose.

Row.And Sir Peter shall own for once he has been mistaken.

Sir Pet.Oh, my life on Joseph’s honour!

Sir Oliv.Well—come, give us a bottle of good wine, and we’ll drink the lads’ health, and tell you our scheme.

Sir Pet.Allons, then!

Sir Oliv.And don’t, Sir Peter, be so severe against your old friend’s son. Odds my life! I am not sorry that he has run out of the course a little: for my part, I hate to see prudence clinging to the green suckers of youth; ’tis like ivy round a sapling, and spoils the growth of the tree.[Exeunt.