Sir Peter Teazle Quotes in The School for Scandal
SIR PETER. When an old bachelor marries a young wife, what is he to expect? ‘Tis now six months since Lady Teazle made me the happiest of men—and I have been the most miserable dog ever since! We tifted a little going to church, and fairly quarrelled before the bells had done ringing. I was more than once nearly choked with gall during the honeymoon, and had lost all comfort in life before my friends had done wishing me joy. Yet I chose with caution—a girl bred wholly in the country, who never knew luxury beyond one silk gown, nor dissipation above the annual gala of a race ball. Yet now she plays her part in all the extravagant fopperies of the fashion and the town, with as ready a grace as if she had never seen a bush or a grass-plot out of Grosvenor Square! I am sneered at by all my acquaintance, and paragraphed in the newspapers. She dissipates my fortune, and contradicts all my humours; yet, the worst of it is, I doubt I love her, or I should never bear all this. However, I'll never be weak enough to own it.
ROWLEY. You know, Sir Peter, I have always taken the liberty to differ with you on the subject of these two young gentlemen. I only wish you may not be deceived in your opinion of the elder. For Charles, my life on't! he will retrieve his errors yet. Their worthy father, once my honoured master, was, at his years, nearly as wild a spark; yet, when he died, he did not leave a more benevolent heart to lament his loss.
SIR PETER. You are wrong, Master Rowley. On their father's death, you know, I acted as a kind of guardian to them both, till their uncle Sir Oliver's liberality gave them an early independence: of course, no person could have more opportunities of judging of their hearts, and I was never mistaken in my life. Joseph is indeed a model for the young men of the age. He is a man of sentiment, and acts up to the sentiments he professes; but for the other, take my word for't, if he had any grain of virtue by descent, he has dissipated it with the rest of his inheritance. Ah! my old friend, Sir Oliver, will be deeply mortified when he finds how part of his bounty has been misapplied.
LADY TEAZLE. My extravagance! I'm sure I'm not more extravagant than a woman of fashion ought to be.
SIR PETER. No, no, madam, you shall throw away no more sums on such unmeaning luxury. 'Slife! to spend as much to furnish your dressingroom with flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the Pantheon into a greenhouse, and give a fête champêtre at Christmas.
LADY TEAZLE. And am I to blame, Sir Peter, because flowers are dear in cold weather? You should find fault with the climate, and not with me. For my part, I'm sure, I wish it was spring all the year round, and that roses grew under our feet!
SIR PETER. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon—there’s no stopping these good gentlemen's tongues. —But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, that the lady they are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope you'll not take her part.
LADY SNEERWELL. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, Sir Peter! but you are a cruel creature, —too phlegmatic yourself for a jest, and too peevish to allow wit in others.
SIR PETER. Ah! madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good-nature than your ladyship is aware of.
LADY TEAZLE. True, Sir Peter: I believe they are so near akin that they can never be united.
SIR BENJAMIN. Or rather, madam, suppose them to be man and wife, because one seldom sees them together.
SIR PETER. 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. Everybody in the world speaks well of him.
SIR OLIVER. I am sorry to hear it; he has too good a character to be an honest fellow. Everybody speaks well of him!—Pshaw! then he has bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of genius and virtue.
SIR PETER. What, Sir Oliver! do you blame him for not making enemies?
SIR OLIVER. Yes, if he has merit enough to deserve them.
SIR PETER. Well, well—you’ll be convinced when you know him. ’Tis ediﬁcation to hear him converse; he professes the noblest sentiments.
SIR OLIVER. 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’s 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.
JOSEPH. Ah! my dear madam, there is the great mistake: 'tis this very conscious innocence that is of the greatest prejudice to you. What is it makes you negligent of forms, and careless of the world's opinion? why, the consciousness of your own innocence. What makes you thoughtless in your conduct, and apt to run into a thousand little imprudences? —why, the consciousness of your own innocence. What makes you impatient of Sir Peter's temper, and outrageous at his suspicions? —why, the consciousness of your innocence.
LADY TEAZLE. 'Tis very true!
JOSEPH. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would but once make a trifling faux pas, you can't conceive how cautious you would grow, and how ready to humour and agree with your husband.
LADY TEAZLE. Do you think so?
JOSEPH. Oh! I am sure on't; and then you would find all scandal would cease at once, for, in short, your character at present is like a person in a plethora, absolutely dying from too much health.
No, sir, —she has recovered her senses, and your own arts have furnished her with the means. —Sir Peter, I do not expect you to credit me—but the tenderness you expressed for me, when I am sure you could not think I was a witness to it, has penetrated so to my heart, that had I left the place without the shame of this discovery, my future life should have spoken the sincerity of my gratitude. As for that smooth-tongued hypocrite, who would have seduced the wife of his too credulous friend, while he affected honourable addresses to his ward—I behold him now in a light so truly despicable, that I shall never again respect myself for having listened to him.
SIR BENJAMIN. Aye, there; I told you Mr. Surface was the man.
MRS. CANDOUR. No, no, indeed; the assignation was with Charles.
LADY SNEERWELL. With Charles! You alarm me, Mrs. Candour!
MRS. CANDOUR. Yes, yes, he was the lover. Mr. Surface, to do him justice, was only the informer.
SIR BENJAMIN. Well, I’ll not dispute with you, Mrs. Candour; but, be it which it may, I hope that Sir Peter’s wound will not—
MRS. CANDOUR. Sir Peter’s wound! Oh, mercy! I didn’t hear a word of their ﬁghting.
LADY SNEERWELL. Nor I, a syllable.
SIR BENJAMIN. No! what, no mention of the duel?
MRS. CANDOUR. Not a word.
SIR BENJAMIN. O Lord, yes, yes: they fought before they left the room.
LADY SNEERWELL. Pray, let us hear.
MRS. CANDOUR. Aye, do oblige us with the duel.
SIR PETER. Though, when it is known that we are reconciled, people will laugh at me ten times more.
ROWLEY. Let them laugh, and retort their malice only by showing them you are happy in spite of it.
SIR PETER. I’faith, so I will! and, if I’m not mistaken, we may yet be the happiest couple in the country.
ROWLEY. Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside suspicion—
SIR PETER. Hold, Master Rowley! if you have any regard for me, never let me hear you utter anything like a sentiment: I have had enough of them to serve me the rest of my life.
SIR OLIVER. Odd’s heart, no more can I; nor with gravity either. —Sir Peter, do you know the rogue bargained with me for all his ancestors; sold me judges and generals by the foot, and maiden aunts as cheap as broken china.
CHARLES. To be sure, Sir Oliver, I did make a little free with the family canvas, that’s the truth on’t. My ancestors may rise in judgment against me, there’s no denying it; but believe me sincere when I tell you—and upon my soul I would not say so if I was not—that if I do not appear mortiﬁed at the exposure of my follies, it is because I feel at this moment the warmest satisfaction in seeing you, my liberal benefactor.
LADY SNEERWELL. The torments of shame and disappointment on you all.–
LADY TEAZLE. Hold, Lady Sneerwell,—before you go, let me thank you for the trouble you and that gentleman have taken, in writing letters from me to Charles, and answering them yourself; and let me also request you to make my respects to the scandalous college, of which you are president, and inform them, that Lady Teazle, licentiate, begs leave to return the diploma they gave her, as she leaves off practice, and kills characters no longer.
LADY SNEERWELL. You too, madam—provoking—insolent—May your husband live these fifty years!