The Old Bachelor "The Devil Watches All Opportunities"

William Congreve

"The Devil Watches All Opportunities"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Araminta teases Belinda for being in love with Bellmour; Belinda strenuously denies the allegation, as loving a man would be unfitting for a lady of quality. The maid announces that Bellmour and Vainlove, with whom Araminta is in love, are waiting on the ladies. Belinda says that she will not stay to receive the gentlemen and calls for her hood, preparatory to leaving the house. Araminta urges the maid, Betty, to put Belinda's hood on her so that she can go, but Belinda takes it off, saying that she has changed her mind and will stay. When Araminta says that Belinda has decided not to let Araminta have all the company to herself, Belinda replies that she is of such a charitable nature that she will not trust Araminta. The devil watches all occasions so as to seize the opportunity to do mischief, and Araminta might be tempted, if alone, to be indiscreet. So Belinda will stay only to protect Araminta's reputation; she contends that she is willing to remain out of pure affection.


BELINDA
. . . Here, take 'em all again, my mind's changed, I won't go.
[Exit BETTY with hoods.]
ARAMINTA
[Aside.] So, this I expected.–[Aloud.] You won't oblige me then, cousin, and let me have all the company to myself?
BELINDA
No; upon deliberation, I have too much charity to trust you to yourself. The devil watches all opportunities; and, in this favorable disposition of your mind, Heaven knows how far you may be tempted: I am tender of your reputation.
ARAMINTA
I am obliged to you. But who's malicious now, Belinda?
BELINDA
Not I; witness my heart, I stay out of pure affection.
ARAMINTA
In my conscience, I believe you.