"Silence Gives Consent"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of Goldsmith's memorable characters is Mr. Croaker, guardian to a wealthy Miss Richland, whose money he would very much like to put into his own pockets. In an effort to do so, he tries to push his son, Leontine, into marriage with the young lady. Leontine has other plans, for he has fallen in love with a girl named Olivia whom he has brought home from Paris under the pretense that she is his long-lost sister. In Act II, Croaker tries to make Leontine propose to Miss Richland. She knows Croaker's intentions and plans "to accept their proposal with seeming pleasure, to mortify them by compliance, and so throw the refusal at last upon them." Leontine, seeking to avoid the proposal, suggests that he and Croaker may be forcing her against her inclinations and says he will leave her at liberty to refuse.


CROAKER
But I tell you, Sir, the lady is not at liberty. It's a match.
You see she says nothing. Silence gives consent.
LEONTINE
But, Sir, she talked of force. Consider, Sir, the cruelty of constraining her inclinations.
CROAKER
But I say there's no cruelty. Don't you know, blockhead, that girls have always a round-about way of saying yes before company?