Captain Manly, a forthright and honest man who intends to leave England for the West Indies because he hates the hypocrisy of the age that he finds at the court and in lesser social circles. He loses his ship and fortune in a sea battle with the Dutch and is forced back to England by the disaster. He discovers that Olivia, his fiancée, has married during his absence, rails at him behind his back, and will not return the small fortune he had entrusted to her. Seeking revenge for her conduct, Manly gains entrance to her chamber on two occasions. The first time, he lies with her, and the second time, he exposes her to the world as an adulteress. His trusted friend, Mr. Vernish, is the rogue who has married Olivia and plotted with her to keep the captain’s money. At the end, Captain Manly is agreeably surprised to find that his supposed page is really a rich young heiress, Fidelia Grey, who loves him very much. Following this discovery, the captain and she agree to marry and go off to the West Indies to live a sober, happy life among honest people.
Olivia, a scheming, shallow woman loved by Captain Manly. She marries Manly’s supposed friend, Mr. Vernish, during her lover’s absence and refuses to help her fiancé when he returns penniless to England, although as his expected bride, he had given her most of his fortune before he left England. Olivia proves readily dishonest in her marriage as well, falling in love with Manly’s page. She is deceived by Manly, who silently replaces the page in the darkness of Olivia’s rooms and proceeds to prove his erstwhile fiancée an adulteress. When her frailty is shown to the world, Olivia, vowing revenge on Manly, stalks from the company.
Freeman, Captain Manly’s lieutenant, a likable young man who tries to make the best of the world. He proves to be the captain’s true friend, much to Manly’s surprise, for Manly had thought the lieutenant to be a shallow, deceiving opportunist. Freeman woos the rich Widow Blackacre unsuccessfully until...
(The entire section is 855 words.)