The Double Dealer: A Comedy

Author: William Congreve

Scene IV.

[To him] MELLEFONT, musing.

MASK. Mercy on us, what will the wickedness of this world come to?

MEL. How now, Jack? What, so full of contemplation that you run over?

MASK. I’m glad you’re come, for I could not contain myself any longer, and was just going to give vent to a secret, which nobody but you ought to drink down. Your aunt’s just gone from hence.

MEL. And having trusted thee with the secrets of her soul, thou art villainously bent to discover ’em all to me, ha?

MASK. I’m afraid my frailty leans that way. But I don’t know whether I can in honour discover ’em all.

MEL. All, all, man! What, you may in honour betray her as far as she betrays herself. No tragical design upon my person, I hope.

MASK. No, but it’s a comical design upon mine.

MEL. What dost thou mean?

MASK. Listen and be dumb; we have been bargaining about the rate of your ruin -

MEL. Like any two guardians to an orphan heiress. Well?

MASK. And whereas pleasure is generally paid with mischief, what mischief I do is to be paid with pleasure.

MEL. So when you’ve swallowed the potion you sweeten your mouth with a plum.

MASK. You are merry, sir, but I shall probe your constitution. In short, the price of your banishment is to be paid with the person of -

MEL. Of Cynthia and her fortune. Why, you forget you told me this before.

MASK. No, no. So far you are right; and I am, as an earnest of that bargain, to have full and free possession of the person of— your aunt.

MEL. Ha! Pho, you trifle.

MASK. By this light, I’m serious; all raillery apart. I knew ’twould stun you. This evening at eight she will receive me in her bedchamber.

MEL. Hell and the devil, is she abandoned of all grace? Why, the woman is possessed.

MASK. Well, will you go in my stead?

MEL. By heav’n, into a hot furnace sooner.

MASK. No, you would not; it would not be so convenient, as I can order matters.

MEL. What d’ye mean?

MASK. Mean? Not to disappoint the lady, I assure you. Ha, ha, ha, how gravely he looks. Come, come, I won’t perplex you. ’Tis the only thing that providence could have contrived to make me capable of serving you, either to my inclination or your own necessity.

MEL. How, how, for heav’n’s sake, dear Maskwell?

MASK. Why, thus. I’ll go according to appointment; you shall have notice at the critical minute to come and surprise your aunt and me together. Counterfeit a rage against me, and I’ll make my escape through the private passage from her chamber, which I’ll take care to leave open. ’Twill be hard if then you can’t bring her to any conditions. For this discovery will disarm her of all defence, and leave her entirely at your mercy—nay, she must ever after be in awe of you.

MEL. Let me adore thee, my better genius! By heav’n I think it is not in the power of fate to disappoint my hopes—my hopes? My certainty!

MASK. Well, I’ll meet you here, within a quarter of eight, and give you notice.

MEL. Good fortune ever go along with thee.


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Chicago: William Congreve, "Scene 4," The Double Dealer: A Comedy, trans. Evans, Sebastian in The Double Dealer: A Comedy Original Sources, accessed March 22, 2019,

MLA: Congreve, William. "Scene 4." The Double Dealer: A Comedy, translted by Evans, Sebastian, in The Double Dealer: A Comedy, Original Sources. 22 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Congreve, W, 'Scene 4' in The Double Dealer: A Comedy, trans. . cited in , The Double Dealer: A Comedy. Original Sources, retrieved 22 March 2019, from