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Comedy in 3 Acts (founded on “Le Mari à la Campagne”)
Written by F. C. Burnand



Colonel WOOTTWWEELL W. WOODD, U.S. Cavalry




EDWARD LANGTON [in love with Nellie]

MULLINS [Butler]

PARKES (Waiter)

ROMELLI [Restaurateur & Confectioner]


OLIVE (her Daughter, Forrester’s Wife)

NELLIE (Forrester’s Sister [and Ward])


GOODALL (her Maid)






Scene. — A Drawing-room in Mr. FORRESTER’S house; the decoration and furniture in the severest æsthetic taste. Mr. and Mrs. FORRESTER, LADY TOMPKINS, Mr. LAMBERT STREYKE and BASIL discovered.

STREYKE (reading). “The object which the Æsthetic High Art Company, Limited, has in view is the cultivation of The Ideal as the consummate embodiment of The Real, and to proclaim aloud to a dull, material world the worship of the Lily and the Peacock Feather.”

LADY T. Perfect!

OLIVE. Too precious!!

BASIL. Consummate!

ALL. Consummate!!

from: Punch (Feb 19, 1881)

STREYKE (continuing). “A site has been acquired by the Æsthetic Committee, on which will be built a gallery for the exhibition of inspired works of gifted but inaccessible genius” — (BASIL. Movement) — “who, heedless of the world’s neglect, sigh out their souls in glorious colour symphonies —”

ALL (a half sigh).

STREYKE. “And joy in the million surprises of a luminous and subtle harmony.”

ALL. Ah!

FOR. (snores.)

LADY T. Mr. Forrester is asleep.

STREYKE. Some shut their eyes to the Beautiful.

OLIVE (who has crossed to him). Richard.

FOR. Eh? — Oh yes — I beg your pardon —

STREYKE. I hope you are not losing interest in the scheme.

FOR. No — no — (aside) more likely to lose capital. Confound him!

STREYKE. As honorary secretary—

FOR. (aside). Honorary — ahem!

STREYKE. Will you read out the patronesses?

FOR. “Lady Tompkins —” | [2]

LADY T. (to STREYKE). You put me at the head of the list.

STREYKE. Have you not initiated the speculation — I mean the undertaking?

FOR. Undertaking! that’s a melancholy word.

STREYKE. If associated with what is to you a melancholy idea. But not to us. (Posing.)

LADY T. Not to us. (Posing.)

OLIVE. Not to us. (Posing.)

BASIL. Not to us. (Posing.)

FOR. (aside). Waxworks.

BASIL. We joy in the mellow beauty of decay.

ALL. Consummate!

OLIVE. Is not Mr. Basil intense! (to FORRESTER.)

FOR. He is, he is — (aside) intense idiot!

STREYKE. I am afraid Mr. Forrester is not yet one of us.

FOR. No thank —

OLIVE. Richard!

FOR. My dear Olive, I was only going to say that if I am not yet one of you I shall never be. Haven’t we been married more than three years? Aren’t we a united couple?

OLIVE. Never separated from dear Mamma!

FOR. No — never. She takes good care — (stops himself, and adds) of us.

OLIVE. And living under the guidance of our mighty master, Mr. Lambert Streyke.

FOR. A great privilege. (Aside). Hang him!

LADY T. I have taken down the addresses of the ladies on whom we intend to call personally —

OLIVE. For their patronage.

STREYKE (aside). And subscriptions.

FOR. (looking at prospectus). You have named youself as managing director.

STREYKE. The responsibility of directing others has been forced upon me.

BASIL. Quite.

LADY T. and OLIVE. Quite.

STREYKE. Then I salute in silence a gift too vast in its magnificence for the measure of human thanksgiving.

FOR. (still with prospectus). The salary is a thousand a-year, with power to add to its number — no, I beg pardon, that’s the committee ——

OLIVE. And your nephew —

FOR. (examining prospectus). Mr. Basil Giorgione.

LADY T. Who possesses a gift of painting too precious in its loveliness for estimate of human speech.

FOR. Paid secretary at £250 per annum. | [3]

LADY T. And one of our first exhibitors. May we feast our senses on his symphony in green?

STREYKE. You may. (Uncovers the picture. BASIL stands in an inspired attitude.)

from: Punch (Feb 19, 1881)

ALL. Ah!

LADY T. O the tenderness of its truth!

OLIVE. A sublimated harmony!

LADY T. Ethereal!

STREYKE. More than ethereal! It’s diaphanous.

BASIL. I am understood. Let me withdraw this superflux of splendour.

[Covers picture and removes it to back.

FOR. Your nephew has not painted many pictures.

STREYKE. The walls of his studio are covered with creations of his genius.

FOR. The Academy was blind enough to reject a picture of his some time ago.

STREYKE. The Academy does not appreciate Tone. He joys in the rejection.

FOR. But he has progressed since then.

STREYKE. Sir, a Genius never progresses.

FOR. No — of course not — he sticks at it — I mean he goes on painting.

LADY T. Basil is ever energising.

STREYKE. He is a Persistent Prodigy.

LADY T. The Art World will throng around us.

STREYKE. Even Fashion will bow before you.

FOR. One suggestion in our first prospectus has already brought in some good subscriptions.

OLIVE. The proposal is for a Reserve Fund for Invalided Artists.

FOR. (reading.) “A Well-wisher, £10 10s.” “Anonymous, £20.”

STREYKE. It will attract a large class who have small feeling for Art.

FOR. (aside). But large sympathy with suffering.

BASIL. We shall appeal to the enthusiasm of humanity.

STREYKE (aside). At a shilling a-head.

LADY T. With the indescribably [sic?] works of genius.

STREYKE (aside). Sixpence extra for the catalogue.

FOR. There will be a Restaurant and a Grill-room attached. That’ll pay.

ALL (disgusted). Pay!

STREYKE. Sustenance will be supplied out of consideration for the lower appetites — (aside) at the highest prices.

OLIVE. Ah! that the sunlight of such a scheme should be crossed by anything so earthly. | [4]

BASIL. A misery to us who can find nourishment in contemplating a dew-drop on a rose-leaf.

STREYKE. Or gazing on a lily in a glass of water.

ALL. Ah!

STREYKE. I seldom eat.

LADY T. and OLIVE (in a sad, low tone, abstractedly). We seldom eat. (BASIL sighs).

FOR. But when you do

OLIVE. Richard!

FOR. I was going to say when you do start the Æsthetic Gallery, there will be a feed.

LADY T. A feed!

STREYKE. How animal!

OLIVE. There will be a réunion.

LADY T. When we shall joy to introduce your nephew as the future husband of Miss Ellen Forrester.

FOR. (aside). Poor Nellie!

STREYKE. (aside). An heiress.

OLIVE. Richard, you do not seem to appreciate this joy.

FOR. Oh yes, I do — fully.

OLIVE. You must learn to love art for itself alone.

FOR. I think I could for itself alone, or for your sake alone, Olive.

OLIVE. Or for Mamma’s sake.

FOR. Of course; cela va sans dire, that goes without saying. (Aside.) I wish she would.

OLIVE. And you will sit at the feet of our master, Mr. Lambert Streyke?

FOR. That depends on where his feet are.

OLIVE. Oh, Richard.

FOR. No, Olive I wouldn’t hurt your sensitive feelings for the world. I’ll do anything you like.

OLIVE. You’ve not read his poem, “The Wail of Humanity.” (Pointing to book on table.)

FOR. I’ll take it into the country with me.

OLIVE. When you go for your next fishing excursion.

FOR. Yes; a capital opportunity for the Wail. (Aside.) And the sooner I can get off the better.

BASIL. I am going to my studio. Good morning.


NEL. Oh, Dicky — I beg pardon, Lady Tompkins. I thought my brother was alone.

LADY T. Don’t you see anyone here? Mr. Lambert Streyke? Mr. Basil, who is just leaving.

NEL. I’m delighted to see you — (aside) going. | [5]

BASIL. Good morning, Miss Nellie. (Aside to STREYKE.) She doesn’t exhibit a sense of rapture.

STREYKE (in the same tone to him). You’ll exhibit no sense at all if you let her slip through your fingers.


LADY T. Now, Miss Ellen.

NEL. Mullins was just bringing this card.

OLIVE. A visitor. (Takes card.)

NEL. Genus masculine — species named on the label.

LADY T. Ellen, you forget yourself.

NEL. I wish I could.

OLIVE. Colonel Woottweell W. Woodd, U.S. Cavalry.

FOR. My old friend Woodd; an excellent fellow —

STREYKE. A Yankee, with a soul of shoddy*, devoted to drinks and dollars.

NEL. No, he isn’t.

[FORRESTER rings bell.

LADY T. and OLIVE. Ellen!

NEL. Well, Dick ought to know —

FOR. I do. (Enter SERVANT.) Show Colonel Woodd up. (Seeing STREYKE and LADY T.’s astonishment.) You don’t mind ——

LADY T. Mind! in your own house.      Exit SERVANT.

NEL. (aside to DICK) You’d forgotten it was your own house —

STREYKE (to LADY T. — regarding NELLIE). I have overmuch misgiving as to the influence of this belated American Philistine on the mind we are forming —

NEL. (to DICKaloud). I shall be so glad to see him again.

LADY T. You will reserve your joy till we send for you. Retire.

NEL. But Dick —

OLIVE. Richard will not oppose Mamma’s wishes.

FOR. No — you’d better go.

LADY T. Remember you are not yet out.

NEL. No. (Aside.) But when I am, I won’t come in again in a hurry.

[Makes a face at STREYKE and exit.

STREYKE. Friends — The senate of old Rome received the barbarian in dignified silence. Let us give him a flash of contemplation.      They pose.

SERVANT (announces). Colonel Woodd.


FOR. My dear old boy!

COL. Dick, old fellow, I am indeed delighted!

FOR. Why, it’s a good three years ——

COL. It’s a bad four years since we last met; and when I | [6] was down in your hall I thought it would be another five before I should see you again.

FOR. Eh, why?

COL. Your staircase is so confoundedly dark. I beg pardon, — I didn’t see.

STREYKE (aside to LADY T.). Benighted shoddy!

FOR. Olive, my dear, Colonel Woodd.

COL. Delighted, Mrs. Forrester! (To him.) Olive! what a refreshing name! (To OLIVE.) You’ll excuse the remark, but, as a bachelor, Dick was always peculiarly partial to olives — French, Spanish, Italian.

STREYKE. Gross imagination.

COL. Eh?

LADY T. The name should rather suggest sublime tranquillity of soul. Perhaps Colonel Woodd is a stranger to the symbolism of the Olive and the Dove.

COL. No, I’m not. The Dove and the Olive Branch. By the way, are there any olive branches?

FOR. Yes; in the nursery grounds.

COL. I congratulate you. And how’s little Nellie — the little bright, hugging, kissing thing who used to call me her big brother?

LADY T. Miss Ellen Forrester is in her room.

COL. Grown out of all knowledge, eh?

LADY T. Out of all knowledge of hugging and kissing.

COL. Oh! (to DICK.) Who’s ——

FOR. Allow me; Lady Tompkins, my mother-in-law.

COL. Delighted! (Aside.) Severe style of beauty. And is that the alderman, Sir John Tompkins?

FOR. (aside). No; she is a widow.

COL. (aside to DICK). Ah! I thought he didn’t look like a turtle-souper.*

FOR. Mr. Lambert Streyke, professor.

LADY T. Say, rather, the beloved master of the great rising school.

COL. (aside). A schoolmaster. (Aloud to STREYKE.) Sir, I wish every possible success to your rising institution; and though I’ve no boys myself, yet, if you’d give me your card —


COL. Eh! What’s wrong?

FOR. He’s not a schoolmaster, he’s a founder of a school of art — high art — Design.

COL. He looks designing.

FOR. The presiding genius here — a “great Tone Poet”  ——

COL. What’s that? — a poet who sings his own songs in a loud voice? | [7]

FOR. No. I don’t exactly know what a “Tone Poet” is — except that he gives the tone to the decoration, and is the guiding star of the household.

COL. Guidng star, is he! Then I wish he’d twinkle a little more on the staircase. But this is your house, isn’t it?

FOR. Yes — why?

COL. Oh — nothing. (Aside.) Never saw such a limp lot in my life.

OLIVE. Won’t your friend be seated?

COL. Why, certainly — yes. (Aside.) They’ve put all the starch on the chairs.

FOR. This is an agreeable surprise.

COL. You don’t say! Well I’m here in answer to your invitation.

OLIVE. My husband’s invitation?

LADY T. and STREYKE. Invitation!

COL. Certainly. I received it three years ago at the foot of the Pyramids.

FOR. I wrote directly after our marriage.

COL. You did so. Telling me your great happiness — which I’m perfectly able to realise — and swearing that if I didn’t come direct to you, and make your house my home whenever I should be in the old country, you’d never forgive me. So here I am.

FOR. And here you shall remain.

COL. Just so. Stow me anywhere.

FOR. We’ve plenty of room.

OLIVE. Yes — (LADY TOMPKINS frowns) — I think so.

COL. If it’s in the least inconvenient ——

FOR. Inconvenient! not at all; is it, Olive?

OLIVE. Oh, no, of course not — that is ——

LADY T. (aside to her). Don’t reply.

FOR. We’re delighted, of course.

COL. Very good of you, I’m sure. (Aside.) The tone of the decoration has got into his hospitality. (Aloud.) I hope Mrs. Forrester will not think me hopelessly rude if I presume on our old friendship to hint that I’ve been travelling all the morning and I’m as hungry as — as — a robust person ought to be at two o’clock.

STREYKE. (looking at LADY TOMPKINS). We are not robust persons.

LADY T. The slight sustenance we require we partook of at twelve.

COL. But that doesn’t prevent my ——

FOR. Of course not. I’ll ring for some lunch at once. | [8]

LADY T. My daughter and myself will give the necessary instructions. Come, Olive.

Exit OLIVE. LADY T. pauses at door with STREYKE.

COL. Anything will do for me — a cut of old beef and no fixings, with a cup of coffee and a cigar. I’ve got such a cigar for you.

STREYKE crosses to door.

FOR. Ah! I don’t smoke now.

COL. Not now — afterwards.

LADY T. (at door.) My son-in-law does not smoke at all. It disagrees with him.

COL. (seeing LADY T. out at door.) He’s quite right to give up anything that disagrees with him. (Exit LADY T. — coming down, aside) I should begin with the mother-in-law.

FOR. Mr. Streyke, we need not disturb you.

STREYKE. I shall abstract myself and be lost in contemplation.

FOR. (aside). I wish he’d never be found again.


COL. Cheerful cuss, the poet. Let’s go to your snuggery, where we can chat.

FOR. Snuggery! — confound it! What ought to be my snuggery is consecrated to Streyke’s contemplation.

COL. But it’s your house —

FOR. Oh yes! it’s my house —

COL. And an Englishman’s house —

FOR. Is his mother-in-law’s castle.

COL. Ah! you’re not the same fellow you were.

FOR. No. I was changed at marriage.

COL. Four years since, you were going it.

FOR. We went it together.

COL. We did.

FOR. We saw life, eh?

COL. We did something more than see it.

FOR. Yes. We were in the swim.

FOR. And striking out in all directions.

FOR. Then how we enjoyed the country, eh? Hunting, shooting, fishing.

COL. That was always your particular line. Are you a fishist now?

FOR. Sometimes. It’s an excuse to get away — alone.

COL. That sounds melancholy.

FOR. I’m toned down.

COL. (looking round) I see. A faded sage and onions with the flavour left out. It’s unnatural.

FOR. It’s æsthetic. The Poet Streyke’s doing. | [9]

COL. He looks more asthmatic than æsthetic. He’s a Doo* — a Charlatan. Now look here, Dick, as a real friend ——

FOR. I know what you’re going to say. I say it to myself.

COL. You should say it out loud.

FOR. Impossible.

COL. How so?

FOR. I’ll put you au courant with facts in two twos. My father-in-law, the late Sir John Tompkins ——

COL. Alderman and haberdasher ——

FOR. Stuck to the shop — had no society aspirations.

COL. And no society aspirates. Dropped his “h’s” and saved his dollars. Well ——

FOR. With Olive untrammelled by society, I foresaw a quiet English country life ——

COL. Refreshing as a lemon squash.

FOR. A dash of the London season ——

COL. The sugar to make the squash fizzle.

FOR. Exactly. And then settle down again.

COL. But this looks like all squash and no fizz. Your wife didn’t hanker after the notion of the country.

FOR. Yes. She enjoyed it; but on Sir John’s death — Lady Tompkins ——

COL. The lemon!

FOR. Placed herself under the influence of this Lambert Streyke ——

COL. The squash!

FOR. Who impressed her with the idea that the short cut to Society was by taking an eccentric line in Art. Ah! if Sir John had lived we should have heard nothing about Art.

COL. No — he’d have called it Hart.

FOR. The result you see around you. Lady Tompkins supports him entirely.

COL. I should find him entirely insupportable.

FOR. And of this ultra pre-Raphaelite, mock-hysteric, super-æsthetic school of art, Mr. Streyke is an apostle.

COL. An apostle! which?

FOR. Exactly. I’m obliged to subscribe to the bag.

COL. Why don’t you cut it, and go down to your country-house, where you started?

FOR. I never did start. While I was looking about, Lady Tompkins came to stay with us in town — the art craze set in — Streyke on the brain — mother and daughter mad — I kicked —

COL. You didn’t kick the right person.

FOR. At last, for a quiet life ——

COL. You caved in. | [10]

FOR. On condition of being allowed holidays for fishing in summer and shooting in winter.

COL. Ah! your own preserves?

FOR. No; I take my chance.


COL. But this Old Man of the Sea — this Lambert Streyke —

FOR. Hush!

STREYKE. I beg pardon. (To FOR.) You remember you have an appointment with the lawyer, to sign the lease of the Æsthetic Gallery. At two he will be in my room.

FOR. (aside to COL.) His room!

COL. (aside to FOR.) Better than his company — his Æsthetic Company.

FOR. (aside to COL.) That’s limited. He isn’t.

STREYKE (aside). I suspect this Colonel.

FOR. I’ve been showing Colonel Woodd your prospectus.

STREYKE. The Colonel adores the Beautiful?

COL. Why, certainly! yes. And the more beautiful, the more I adore ’em.

STREYKE. I mean the Abstract —

COL. You’re thinking of that lease —

STREYKE. The Ideal.

COL. I mean the real. Smart figure, sparkling eyes, neat waist — neither a wisp nor a wasp, but just enough for an armful in a waltz or a galop* — that’s it, eh Dick?

STREYKE. Gross Philistinism! Do you not always recognise the Beautiful everywhere?

COL. Can’t say I do — just at present.

STREYKE. Are you blind to the exquisite iridescent film that floats over a stagnant pond?

COL. Decidedly not. But I’d be pretty spry in sending for a bucket of Condy’s Fluid*, and I’d bring an action against the parochial authorities.

STREYKE. Then you do not joy in the beauty of Decay?

COL. Well yes, sometimes — in a Stilton cheese. No, Mr. Streyke, give me life, while I can get it, and plenty of it — fresh air, healthy exercise, good dinner, fast dance, finishing with a lively partie carrée* at a champagne supper!

STREYKE. Supper! Philistine feeding! the very last thing that we should care for.

COL. Well — I guess supper is the very last thing I do care for. First-rate company — good appetite — half-a-dozen natives* — glass of Chablis — spoonful of soup with a poached egg in it — hors d’œuvres écrevisses à la Bordelaise côtelettes en aspic — cold asparagus — mayonnaise of lobster — and oh, the delight of the first glass of champagne — Pommery très sec and frappé to | [11] an icicle — a ripe tomato salad — quails farcis, mauviettes à la brochette — or a plump beccafico* smothered in laurel leaf.

STREYKE (who has been following the account closely). I never tasted a beccafico — (stops).

COL. Peach jam fritters — cream méringues à la vanille — mélange des fruits — coffee, Chartreuse verte — an open balcony — a full-flavoured Havannah in your mouth — a quiet spooney* girl on one side and a cobbler* on the other. Can’t better that!

STREYKE. No; it sounds — (stops).

COL. (to FOR.) We’ve done it before now, eh Dick?

FOR. (aside to him) Don’t — don’t —

COL. Why not! Here’s Mr. Streyke hungry at the mere description.

STREYKE. I! hungry! Oh, no! (aside) I’ll try a beccafico on the first opportunity.

COL. Ah, those were jolly days — and nights, eh?

STREYKE. From your style of allusion, my presumption is that you are still a bachelor.

COL. You presump right. I am.

STREYKE. If you were married —

COL. If I were, I should probably be the husband of the greatest coquette in the world — but so fascinating; I met her in Paris just before your marriage.

FOR. A serious affair?

COL. Serious! I never thought I could have been so serious about anything or anybody. Ah! it was one of those mad absorbing passions, that leave nothing for the memory of the past but bitterness and regret.

STREYKE. O the beauty of Bitterness! O the rapture of Regret!

COL. You’d scarcely have said so if you’d been laid up for two months with a wound —

STREYKE. Love lies a-bleeding.

COL. (sternly.) A wound, sir, received in a duel with the Vicomte Noël de Beaufort, on her account.

STREYKE. A duel. (Aside.) The deuce!

COL. The wound healed — and, when I had quite recovered, she had left Paris with some other fellow — so I heard.

FOR. I couldn’t have forgiven her for that.

COL. No — I couldn’t forgive her — no — never have forgiven her — but — though I’ve travelled all over the world — encountered all sorts of dangers — courted all kinds of distraction and dissipation — yet — I shall go back to Paris in search of her.

FOR. In search of her? —

COL. More madly in love than ever I was four years ago. | [12]

STREYKE (aside). The sooner he goes the better. I’ll look up the tidal service trains.

FOR. My dear old boy, we must talk this over.

COL. That’s what I’m in England for en route. I thought that a few days of our old life — for the most married man must have a fling sometimes — meeting old friends and congenial spirits, would do more for me than all the excitement of travel and change — so I have counted upon your taking me the rounds, showing me London. I suppose it’s not much altered since I was here. We’ll begin with a night at Evans’s.

FOR. It’s closed.

COL. Evans’s closed! Then we’ll dine at the Club, and drive to Cremorne.

FOR. It’s closed.

COL. Surrey Gardens.

FOR. Closed.

COL. Highbury Barn — Coal Hole — Cyder Cellars.

FOR. Closed — closed — closed.

COL. Well then. We’ll just look in at the Arg ——

STREYKE. The Arg —— closed. Everything’s closed.

COL. What a place! Give me life in Paris.

STREYKE. Take it. Here’s Bradshaw.*

COL. Thanks. I know it by heart.


OLIVE. Luncheon will be ready directly, if your friend, Colonel —

LADY T. Colonel Woodd’s cab is at the door ——

COL. Much obliged to you, ma’am, for mentioning it. I’ll have the luggage taken off and discharge him.

[Streyke confers aside with Lady T.

FOR. No. Mullins will see to it.

COL. Thanks! I’d rather —

Re-enter BASIL.

BASIL. Uncle! Mr. Twisdell, the solicitor, is in your room.

LADY T. Richard, your presence is necessary there.

FOR. (aside.) Confound it. (Aloud to COL.) You’ll excuse me for a minute.

COL. Why, certainly; yes. Business before pleasure. I’ll go and see to my luggage. We’ll arrange afterwards for to-night — I’m told there’s a good ballet at the Alhambra ——

LADY T. Richard is engaged. Mr. Streyke lectures to-night on Intensity.

STREYKE. And the Beauty of the Inexpressible. | [13]

BASIL. The Inexpressible!

COL. (aside to DICK.) A pair of inexpressibles! Don’t hanker after the pattern.

STREYKE. Would the Colonel like to become a supporter of — (gives prospectus)

COL. Æsthetic High Art Company — ten-pound shares — well — put me down for five.

STREYKE. Quite. I will enter your name. Colonel ——

COL. Woottweell W. Woodd.

STREYKE. Perhaps you will —

COL. Spell it — why, certainly, yes. (Spells it rapidly) W–OO–TT–W–EE–LL W. W–OO–DD. The spelling’s peculiar.

STREYKE. (Unable to follow it.) Ah! perhaps you’ll write it down.

COL. This evening — after your lecture on the Inexpressible, and — look here, sir — if you’re at all fatigued after your exertions, I’ll just step up to your room and revive you with a sling*, or a gum tickler*, or a rum cocktail that will give you fits.

Exit COLONEL, also FORRESTER, following BASIL.

OLIVE. A sling!

LADY T. A gum-tickler!

STREYKE. A rum cocktail! My sympathetic friends, such things must not be. We will have no rum cocktails here. The American national hymn tells us how “Yankee Doodle came to town,” but he mustn’t stop there.

LADY T. Not in this house.

OLIVE. I’m afraid he is a Philistine.

STREYKE. A Philistine of Philistines! A Goliath — and American giant — a roué!

LADY T. and OLIVE. A roué!

STREYKE. A Launcelot at Arthur’s court.

LADY T. and OLIVE. Oh!

STREYKE. Who would lead your husband back into the slough of soulless life ——

LADY T. He quits this — at once.

OLIVE. But how, Mamma dear?

LADY T. Tell him plainly.

OLIVE. Oh I can’t. I’m sure Richard won’t.

LADY T. He is too feeble.

OLIVE. You might, Mamma.

LADY T. I! in your house!

OLIVE. Mr. Streyke could put it forcibly.

STREYKE. Oh, no — no. (Aside.) Not to a duellist.

OLIVE. Then I don’t see ——

STREYKE. I do. Let Mr. Forrester be called away suddenly. | [14]

LADY T. He shall take a few days’ fishing.

OLIVE. But he’s so constantly fishing — and he never brings back anything.

STREYKE. Except an occasional salmon-trout. It’s curious that, whatever part of the country he visits, he invariably sends home salmon-trout. The last one, I think, he caught in Leicestershire. I dare say the salmon-trout are anxiously expecting him.

LADY T. You will tell him to go — this very afternoon.

OLIVE. Yes, Mamma.

LADY T. And, in the meanwhile, in our manner towards the Philistine Colonel ——

OLIVE. We must be polite ——

LADY T. But glacial.

OLIVE. We mustn’t offend him.

STREYKE. Not on any account. We will be “frosty but kindly.”* Hush!

[Re-enter COLONEL.

COL. All my things are in the hall —— (sees them) I really must apologise ——

LADY T. Not in the least — but you will excuse me, I am somewhat busy.

COL. Certainly. Allow me. (Shows her out.) Then (to OLIVE) permit me to thank you ——

OLIVE. Oh, sir, any old friend of my husband’s ——

LADY T. (at door) Olive!

OLIVE. Yes, Mamma — you will excuse me.

COL. Certainly.           Shows her out.

COL. Odd. I hope I’m not driving them away, Mr. Snake.

STREYKE. I beg your pardon — Streyke — not Snake.

BASIL (entering). Uncle ——

STREYKE. I come. Good-day, Colonel. I wish you a pleasant journey to Paris.

COL. Thank you. You can post my shares to me there. You know how to spell the name (spells it quickly).

STREYKE. Ah! — I’ll copy your signature on the cheque.

[Exit with BASIL.

COL. Do so — when you get it. Well, the Arctic regions are summer compared with this establishment. It’s a family of refrigerators. Dick, who used to be so cheery and warm-hearted, he’s half frozen — there’s a cold, damp atmosphere about the place that gives me the cramp — not a ray of warmth or sunlight anywhere.


NEL. Colonel Woodd!

COL. I beg your pardon, I —— | [15]

NEL. Don’t you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt* — Nellie.

COL. Why, my dear little Nellie ——

NEL. I’m so glad to see you again, big brother.

COL. So am I. Well, little sister, you’re the prettiest picture of health and happiness ——

NEL. But in such a dreadfully dull frame ——

COL. Of mind? Don’t wonder. It’s not lively.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

NEL. There’s nobody lively here.

COL. Your brother?

NEL. He’s nobody — but he’s not lively. They’ve crushed him.

COL. And his wife?

NEL. Olive! they’ve crushed her, too.

COL. And the Crushers are ——

NEL. Mr. Streyke and Lady Tompkins. They talk of nothing but the severe simplicity of Art; they glide about like ghosts; they play melancholy tunes on old cracked instruments.

COL. No society?

NEL. Yes. Washed-out people in strange faded dresses, who flop, and drawl, and sigh all over the place.

COL. Sounds like an asylum for broken-winded lunatics.

NEL. Then there’s Mr. Streyke’s nephew, Basil Giorgione, an effeminate, sneaky sort of creature.

COL. I saw him just now. What’s his particular weakness?

NEL. Painting. Look here!

[Uncovers picture.

COL. Well, it certainly is his weakness.

NEL. He calls it “Lady Mine.”

COL. Lady who? Not Lady ——

[Indicating door where LADY TOMPKINS has just made her exit.

NEL. No, no! “Lady Mine” — my lady.

COL. His lady! A portrait?

NEL. No — fancy.

COL. Well, if that’s his fancy, he’s welcome to her.

NEL. So I say. But they want me to marry him.

COL. Who’s they? The Crushers?

NEL. Yes.

COL. But Dick’s your guardian.

NEL. Lady Tompkins is his guardian. I think I shall run away.

COL. Don’t do that. You might go too far. Nellie! —

NEL. Yes?

COL. What is his name?

NEL. His?

COL. His.

NEL. Edward. They won’t allow him to come here. They won’t allow me to see him. | [16]

COL. But you do.

NEL. Sometimes. But it’s very difficult.

COL. Ah! this is the effect of a course of severe simplicity in Art. We must enlist Dick on our side.

NEL. I don’t mind what I say to him if you’ll back me up.

COL. I will; and here’s the chance.


FOR. There! I’ve been signing ——

COL. Cheques?

FOR. Yes. Streyke explains it all satisfactorily to Lady Tompkins, and I can’t shirk the responsibilty.

COL. Glad to hear it. Here’s a responsibility you have shirked.

FOR. Nellie? What’s the matter with her?

COL. Affection of the heart. Consider us a deputation. We’ve come to complain against Lady Tompkins choosing a husband for us whom we positively dislike.

NEL. Detest.

FOR. Why not tell her so?

COL. The deputation begs to remind you that you are our sole legal guardian, and we also add that we are in love with Edward ——

FOR. Langton. I know. There’s no objection on my part.

COL. Then there’s no objection at all. Take him — be happy. Bless you!

NEL. My dear Dick, I knew you’d say so.

FOR. I can say so. But what can I do?

COL. Assert yourself as guardian. We’ll stand by you.

FOR. Of course you are right. You mustn’t be forced to marry against your will.

NEL. Yes — you say that, and I’ll back you up.

[Voices heard outside.

COL. Here’s Lady Tompkins.

NEL. Oh!                 Exit NELLIE.

COL. No, it’s your wife — speak to her on the subject.

FOR. I will — don’t go.

COL. It will come more forcibly from you alone.

FOR. (aside.) Will it?

Re-enter OLIVE.

OLIVE. Your luncheon is quite ready, Colonel Woodd.

FOR. Ah! I’ll come and talk to you.

COL. Couldn’t think of it! It won’t take me five minutes to put myself outside a cutlet.

OLIVE (aside). Outside a cutlet!! | [17]

COL. (aside to FOR.) Now’s your time! Get your wife to agree with you about Nellie, and strike the first blow at the enemy. Be a man! — (to himself) though that’s about the feeblest thing he can be when there’s a woman to deal with.


OLIVE. Richard, now we are alone, I do so want to commune with you.

FOR. So do I.

OLIVE. On a matter of great importance.

FOR. Exactly.

OLIVE. It concerns the sunshine of our life.

FOR. Our happiness! We have only to make a few mutual concessions.

OLIVE. And you will — won’t you, Dick?

FOR. I will. (Aside.) She hasn’t called me Dick for an age. Very amiable. (Aloud.) I will.

OLIVE. I’m sure of it (aside). He bends like the reed to the kiss of summer wind.

FOR. Olive dear, in marriage two persons should be united in sympathy.

OLIVE. Quite. To lack sympathy is unlovely.

FOR. Precisely. (Aside.) She’s leading up to it very well.

OLIVE. Some beings have no sense of harmony.

FOR. Don’t know one tune from another.

OLIVE. I do not mean that. I mean there can be a presence in a household which is a jarring discord of embodied antipathies.

FOR. I see. To be compelled to be in companionship with such a being ——

OLIVE. Is a piteous agony.

FOR. An irrevocable wrong. Just what I was saying to Colonel Woodd just now.

OLIVE. To Colonel Woodd?

FOR. He understands the case perfectly.

OLIVE. I joy to hear it. He perceives how he jars on our melody of colour?

FOR. Eh?

OLIVE. He dims our light like a black hail-cloud.

FOR. I don’t precisely understand you. I daresay we mean the same thing — but the point is, plainly, that Nellie detests Basil Streyke, and is in love with Edward Langton.

OLIVE. This is too delicate a shade for your hand.

FOR. I am her guardian.

OLIVE. Are we not all her guardians? Is she not my mother’s special care? | [18]

FOR. Yes, your mother is very kind, but ——

OLIVE. She must know how to deal with a young girl better than you do.

FOR. Well! I’ve had some experience.

OLIVE. Richard! I trust this is a foolish jest.

FOR. Yes — a mere jest. (Aside.) I’d better move an adjournment. (Aloud.) We won’t discuss it at present.

OLIVE. We need never discuss it. And — you will send away your unsympathetic friend Colonel Woodd!

FOR. My dear ——

OLIVE. You said that in marriage two persons should be united in sympathy.

FOR. Yes. I like the Colonel, and so, if you in sympathy with me

OLIVE. And you said that, for the sake of happiness in married life, mutual concessions were necessary.

FOR. Yes — but —

OLIVE. You prefer the Colonel to me.

FOR. Don’t be so unreasonable, Olive dear. You see, I’ve known him so long —

OLIVE. That you are blind to his vices.

FOR. Vices!

OLIVE. Mamma says —

FOR. I really must protest against her interference.

OLIVE. Interference! Oh, Richard, she only says that it is impossible he can stay in the house —

FOR. Upon my word!

OLIVE. Hear me out. Impossible for him to remain here in your absence.

FOR. My absence! But I’m here.

OLIVE. No; Mamma says —

FOR. Oh, she says I’m not here?

OLIVE. You are unthankful. She wishes you to go for a few days on a fishing excursion.

FOR. Eh! When?

OLIVE. At once.

FOR. At once! (aside) Capital.

OLIVE. If you wish to argue this with Mamma —

FOR. I don’t. Your mother is quite right. I’ll pack up immediately.

OLIVE. You seem to joy in your departure.

FOR. Joy! Well — you see, I joy to be in symphonious harmony, or harmonious symphony, with you and Lady Tompkins on any point. | [19]


LADY T. Mr. Streyke is about to give us a reading of his lecture. Place his volume of poems on this table.

NEL. Yes, Lady Tompkins (aside to FOR.) You’ve stood up for me?

FOR. Yes.

NEL. What’s decided?

FOR. A few days’ fishing.

NEL. What!!

OLIVE. Yes, Mamma, Richard is symphonious.

LADY T. You will explain to Colonel Woodd that as you are compelled to leave home suddenly, he will see the impropriety of remaining here.

NEL. (aside) You’re not sending him off?

FOR. It does seem inhospitable.

NEL. (aside) A shame.

FOR. He’s such an old friend.

LADY T. The more insidious the danger of his friendship. What was Launcelot to Arthur? What was Paris to Menelaus?

FOR. A nuisance. But really —

LADY T. If you have not the strength to tear away the parasite, I have. I will bid him go.

OLIVE. Leave it to Mamma.

FOR. Well — p’r’aps it’s better —

NEL. (aside to him) It’s cowardly.

FOR. (to her, aside) No — politic — saves a row.

Re-enter COLONEL and STREYKE from different doors.

COL. The cutlet was excellent.

STREYKE (aside). The animal’s feeding-time is over.

COL. By the way, I nearly tumbled over my own luggage in the hall; so, to prevent any accident, if I might suggest ——

LADY T. It’s removal. Certainly. Where shall they take it?

COL. Where? Well, Dick knows his own house best. Where shall they take it?

FOR. Exactly. (To OLIVE.) Where shall they take it?

OLIVE. Where? (timidly) I thought Mamma said —

LADY T. I was about to inform Colonel Woodd that, having already promised our only spare room to — to —

STREYKE. My nephew, Basil Giorgione.

NEL. (aside) What a story!!

LADY T. Colonel Woodd’s luggage will have to be taken to his hotel — if he is staying in town. | [20]

STREYKE (aside). A gum-tickler!

FOR. My dear fellow, I’m very sorry, but you understand the position ——

COL. Perfectly. (Aside.) Poor devil! (Aloud.) I shall put up at Limmer’s. Will you dine with me to-night?

LADY T. Impossible! Mr. Forrester is obliged to depart for the country at once.

FOR. Yes; I’m ——

OLIVE. My husband leaves us almost immediately.

COL. I’ll take you to the station.

LADY T. He will not be able to accompany you; for, as he will be deprived of the lecture this evening, Mr. Streyke is going to give us a private reading here, on Intensity as illustrated by his poems.

COL. I wouldn’t deprive him of such a treat for the world.

FOR. You see I’m booked here.

COL. Very much booked. At 8.40 I shall be booked for Paris. Good-bye.

FOR. (hurriedly, aside). No, don’t! Bosh about fishing — meet you — six — Limmer’s.

COL. Eh?

FOR. Hush!

LADY T. Our master is waiting.

COL. I am de trop. Good-bye! Good-bye, Mrs. Forrester!

OLIVE. I hope that at some other time we shall be free — to — to —

COL. To do as you like. I hope so. Good-bye, Nellie!

NEL. I wish you could take me with you.

LADY T. Miss Ellen! ring the bell for a cab. (NELLIE rings.)

COL. Lady Tompkins (bows).

LADY T. Colonel Woodd (curtsies stiffly).

STREYKE. Ahem! “Time is flying on golden wings.” The first illustration of Intensity is from my poem of “Sir Tristram, or the Good Knight.”

Enter SERVANT at back.

COL. (to STREYKE.) I can’t stop for the Good Knight, so good-bye!

STREYKE. Discordant flippancy!

LADY T. Colonel Woodd does not care for the precious odour of Mr. Lambert Streyke’s poetry.

COL. If I did, I guess I should be on a false scent. But I admire the Decorative Art poet, Morris.

ALL (except FOR. and NEL.) Consummate.

COL. Well — we agree there. Does Mr. Lambert Streyke remember the poem called “Sir Peter Harpedon’s End”*? | [21]

STREYKE. An inspiration!

OLIVE and Lady T. An inspiration!

COL. Then perhaps you’ll recognise this quotation —

“Lambert, I hope that never on this earth
We meet again. That you’ll turn out a monk
And mend the life I give you; so, farewell!
I’m sorry you’re a rascal. John, despatch.” *

Motions to SERVANT at door; then turns and bows. NELLIE claps her hands, but is immediately frowned down by LADY T., and turns away as BASIL enters carrying a lily, and sinks into chair. LADY T. poses so as to command the COLONEL, BASIL and NELLIE. STREYKE at back of table, poses as if about to recommence his reading. OLIVE prevents FORRESTER from getting up to see COLONEL to door. Tableau.

END OF ACT I. | [22]






SCENE. A Morning Room at Mrs. WILLOUGHBY BLYTH’S. The decoration and furniture rich and luxurious, in distinct contrast to Act I. GOODALL and PARKES discovered.

GOOD. Ain’t that pretty, Mr. Parkes?

PARKES. Beautiful, Mrs. Goodall. And a lot more in the droring-room. Mrs. Blyth seems to like bookays.

GOOD. Always on her birthday. Is the table laid?

PARKES. It’s a-gettin’ on. But I ain’t ’ad no orders about the wine.

GOOD. It’s only four o’clock. Mrs. Blyth isn’t back yet. She’s ridden over to Richmond or somewheres to lunch. But I expect her in every minute now.

PARKES. Then there’s the dozen menoo cards as ain’t come. There’ll be a dozen wanted. Eight gents and eight ladies to dinner — and a little ’op afterwards.

GOOD. Only a carpet dance.

PARKES. Ah! Mrs. Blyth do know how to keep it up.

GOOD. Keep me up, you mean. But I like it, and she’s always been the same.

PARKES. Have she now?

GOOD. Yes. I was in her aunt’s service when she came over from Paris, met old Mr. Blyth, and married him all in a hurry.

PARKES. Ah! did she now?

GOOD. Ah, she’s had her troubles, poor lady — but she’s always kind and cheerful — the cheerfullest I ever met — and now she’s lots of leisure, as she’s been a widow these two years.

PARKES. She’ll marry again ——

GOOD. Oh! that’s your opinion, is it?

PARKES. Well, I ain’t been waiting here through the season for nothing.

GOOD. No, you haven’t. Seven-and-six and perquisites.

PARKES. And I says Mr. Fisher is the first favourite in this quarter.

GOOD. Oh, indeed! | [23]

PARKES. And I says ain’t it hodd as he aven’t been here for a month o’ more — and what Mrs. Blyth will do without him at the birthday party I can’t tell.

GOOD. Can’t you. If you could, you would. Well ——

PARKES. Well — some people will talk ——

GOOD. And others will listen — but they can’t say anything against Mrs. Blyth ——

PARKES. I don’t say as they do — but as I waits on all the flats in this mansion — experiencing the ups and downs o’ life in the lift — I do hear what one flat says of another flat — and old Lady Chipstone

GOOD. The flat below — she complained of our parties, and so Mrs. Blyth asked her to some music.

PARKES. On a Sunday evening — and she were ’orrified. So I says — well, my Lady, I says, ’app’ning to mention Mr. Fisher in quite a cussorily way, I think, I says, as Mrs. Blyth is goin’ to give up her flat and take a husband, I says; because, I says, what I ’old is this ——

GOOD. And what you don’t ’old is your tounge.

PARKES. Lor’! how sharp you are.

GOOD. ’Bliged to be with so many flats about.

PARKES. But as to Mr. Fisher — don’t you think ——

GOOD. I do — but I don’t speak —

MRS. BLYTH (without). Goodall.

GOOD. Yes, m’m. Now (to PARKES) you be off — and if you want to wait here again don’t say nothing to nobody except me.

Enter MRS. BLYTH in riding-habit.

MRS. B. Ah! (Stopping before the bouquets.) How nice those look! Quite a flower-show. You’ve taken your usual care about them, Goodall.

GOOD. Yes, m’m, and the same in the drawing-room.

MRS. B. Now go and count them. Equal spaces, mind, between each bouquet. (Exit GOODALL.) So that each gentleman shall recognise his own, and be happy. That represents perfect impartiality — as I shall say the same to them all, one after the other — apart from the rest, of course. “Oh! What a beautiful bouquet you sent me!” “You like it? I’m so glad — but among so many others” — “Ah, that’s ungrateful! don’t you see it has a place all to itself?” And he’s happy. Then another: “I’m afraid my little bouquet makes but a poor show?” “Oh, General, how can you say so — Look! I’ve given it a special place!” And he’s happy. Another: “You understand the language of flowers?” “Oh! how can you ask such a question? — the language of flowers — | [24] of course.” I don’t understand it a bit. “Look! doesn’t your bouquet speak for itself?” And he’s happy. Ah! what an amount of pleasure one can give to everybody at the smallest possible expense. (Re-enter GOODALL.) Well, how many?

GOOD. Fourteen there, and six here, m’m.

MRS. B. Let me see — six and four, ten — set down nought and carry one. Which shall I carry?

GOOD. Mr. Fisher’s hasn’t arrived yet, m’m. I suppose he’ll bring it himself.

MRS. B. Set down naught and carry one. I’ll wait till I see him carrying one. Did you send to his hotel this morning?

GOOD. Yes, m’m. But Mr. Fisher has been away in the country with his friend Mr. Langton.

MRS. B. He’s always in the country.

GOOD. I wouldn’t let him go, if I were you, m’m.

MRS. B. I can’t prevent it.

GOOD. A word from you would be enough, m’m.

MRS. B. Ah! I suppose you’ve talked this over downstairs.

GOOD. Well, m’m, there is no downstairs.

MRS. B. I forgot we’re all on a level in a flat.

GOOD. But we have said among ourselves, m’m, as Mr. Fisher is such a affable gentleman, and he seems to be everything here, that it ’ud be a pity as it were ——

MRS. B. Yes — I think I heard the bell — see who it is. (Exit GOODALL.) Who giveth this woman to this man? The servants. They’ve settled it.

GOOD. (re-entering). Mr. Fisher, m’m — I thought it was his ring.

MRS. B. (looking at her fingers — aside). I suppose it will be —


FOR. Many, many happy returns of the day, dear Mrs. Blyth. How charming you look: I wonder the women don’t poison you. I have brought you this (presents bouquet).

MRS. B. Lovely! All the way from the country too!

FOR. Yes. (Aside.) I suppose so.

MRS. B. Out of your very own garden?

FOR. Yes. (Aside.) A very long way out of it.

MRS. B. What colour! what splendour! (Meditatively.) Ah! Solomon in all his glory ——

FOR. Yes, yes. (Aside.) Solomons in Covent Garden.

MRS. B. I hope to see your country house one of these days.

FOR. So do I. I mean, I hope you will. | [25]

MRS. B. What county is it in?

FOR. County. (Aside.) Belgravia. (Aloud.) Ah, I must show it you as a surprise — mus’n’t tell you too much about it beforehand.

MRS. B. It would be a novelty for me; I don’t understand country life.

FOR. (aside). Thank goodness!

MRS. B. But I love the idea of it, and never lose an opportunity of taking in as much fresh air as possible. What a mercy it isn’t supplied by a company — like the gas and water.

FOR. But it will be. When the Anti-Fog Company is started we shall have pure air fresh up from the country every morning with unadulterated milk and new-laid eggs.

MRS. B. Charming idea! and fancy a Sunlight Company as well! (changing her tone) but good gracious! what a price we should have to pay for it! No, no, I prefer fetching the real article myself. I’ve come back with a very good supply of it to-day from Richmond. I should like a farm — a model farm — in the middle of Richmond Park. Do you farm?

FOR. A little.

MRS. B. And you grow — What do you grow?

FOR. Well — I generally grow dull when I’m away from you.

MRS. B. A bachelor can console himself in the country.

FOR. Yes; he has no one else to console him.

MRS. B. You can cultivate charming acquaintances. Ah! I’m sure you are surrounded by them.

FOR. I am — (aside) hopelessly surrounded. (Aloud.) I don’t want acquaintances as long as I have your friendship, your — By the way, that reminds me, may I send Joseph with a letter to Limmer’s Hotel?

MRS. B. Certainly. (He rings.)

FOR. It’s to an old friend of mine. I made an appointment with him.

MRS. B. Would you like to see him here?

FOR. May I? I will. And introduce him to you. I’m afraid you’ll be much delighted with him.

MRS. B. So much the better for me.

FOR. And I shall be jealous.

MRS. B. So much the worse for you.

FOR. I’ll risk it.


MRS. B. Take a cab, Joseph, and go with this letter as quickly as possible for Mr. Fisher.

FOR. Thanks. It won’t take him more than ten minutes.

Exit JOSEPH. | [26]

MRS. B. You’ve arranged everything? Remember you have promised to act as my master of the ceremonies.

FOR. By your permission, master without any ceremonies.

MRS. B. Yes. I sometimes think —

FOR. Of me? when I am away? in connection with — a ceremony. (Aside.) This is dangerous.

MRS. B. No; I sometimes think you come here only to amuse yourself.

FOR. Oh!

MRS. B. Pour vous distraire.

FOR. Oh! How could you think that ——

MRS. B. Yes. At one time I thought you were like any of the others who look on my house as a “jolly place to go to, don’t you know,” and who, I dare say, talk of me among themselves just as they talk of any “good sort of fellow, don’t you know, who gives awfully good dinners” — where they meet lively society, get a good dance, and about whom they don’t trouble to inquire from the end of one season to the beginning of the next.

FOR. I hope you never class me among such a set of empty-headed, chattering magpies.

MRS. B. No; nor with the parrots, that have learnt to repeat the phrases of flirtation without any idea of their meaning or any sense of responsibility.

FOR. You speak very seriously.

MRS. B. It’s the effect of my birthday. I’m older — and wiser. But you can be in earnest, too, sometimes.

FOR. Always with you.

MRS. B. And without me. By the way, you weren’t in the country six weeks ago.

FOR. (as if trying to recollect). Six weeks ago — let me see — I ought to have been.

MRS. B. But you weren’t. You were in town — and without coming to call here.

FOR. Impossible! That proves I was in the country.

MRS. B. No. I saw you.

FOR. (nervously). Where?

MRS. B. At the Neglected Artists’ Conversazione.

FOR. (aside). The deuce! (Aloud.) Oh, yes! I was merely up for a few hours on business — and in the evening an elderly relative of mine, to whom I am bound to be civil — (aside) Lady Tompkins — (aloud) insisted on my accompanying her to this conversazione — and as the thing was new to me ——

MRS. B. You were taken with the novelty, for I saw you in enthusiastic conversation with some long-haired creatures — a | [27] perfect crowd of the Intense School — and I couldn’t get near you.

For (aside). That was lucky. (Aloud.) But the idea of your being there!!

MRS. B. Why? Don’t I look “intense?”

FOR. (laughing). Intense! You’re the picture of health.

MRS. B. Painted by Nature. But Nature’s not an æsthetic artist; and I’m sadly afraid im deficient in “tone.”

FOR. Tone! thank goodness, there’s no affectation of a sickly tint and faded sage green about you.

MRS. B. No; not much. I can admire the original genius that started the School, but not such extravagant imitations as we saw at that conversazione.

FOR. Idiotic!

MRS. B. So it seems to me. My friends, Mr. and Mrs. Winterton — who took me there that night — are mad on it — quite mad. There’s some method in their madness, however, for they’re interested in a scheme for assisting young and poor artists — generally very poor artists, judging from the work I saw exhibited.

FOR. Yes. Trash.

MRS. B. I thought you wouldn’t like it. But the idea is a good one — from a charitable point of view — to educate them, and make them better artists. Mind, I adore the creative genius of the great originals — it’s the very little originals I laugh at — the bad imitators, whose imitations may be the sincerest flattery, but they utterly obscure the sublime with the ridiculous, like some daub over the work of a master. —— I think I shall be one of the patronesses of the Æsthetic High Art Company: here’s the circular.

FOR. Ah!

MRS. B. You’ve seen it before.

FOR. Yes, I have. (Aside.) I wrote it.

MRS. B. Mr. Lambert Streyke, manager. Do you know him?

FOR. I know of him?

MRS. B. So do I.

FOR. What?

MRS. B. No good — his poetry, and his essays. I’ve bought them. Look. (Points to books in same binding as those in Act I.)

FOR. Ah! (Aside.) “The Wail of Humanity.” It’s followed me here.

MRS. B. Yes, there’s a cant in art as there is in religion, and Mr. Streyke is evidently a master of it.

FOR. He makes it pay, I suppose?

MRS. B. Of course he does. Then there’s an imbecile | [28] nephew of his, Giorgione Basil, who, they say, is going to be married to a young and pretty heiress.

FOR. Indeed!

MRS. B. I pity her, poor thing! He’s one of your art impostors, always surrounded by admiring washed-out females with hair like birds’ nests, die-away, languishing looks, a sort of old tapestry complexion, long lank hands, upturned noses — ‘tip-tilted’ they call them — and faded brick-dust gowns of the severest medieval or classic pattern.

FOR. I know them.

MRS. B. They assume a sort of patient worn expression, like so many Marianas in moated granges* trying to look as though their life had been one long, silent suffering; as if they’d never told their love, but had held their stupid tongues, and then married somebody else.

FOR. And amongst these patronesses you are going to figure.

MRS. B. Oh, yes. Archæological people amuse me. I call them “Archys” for short — I won’t have any of their cold greys and sad yellows in my decorations — there’s nothing of the severe “Archy” tone about me — I’m neither mediævally nor classically Archy. — I’d as soon be Noah’s Arky at once. But as some of their objects are benevolent, and as I am all for free trade and no monopoly ——

FOR. In everything?

MRS. B. No; I make one very distinct exception — and there I should allow no free trading, and must insist on an entire monopoly.

FOR. I should envy him.

MRS. B. Perhaps there would be no cause for you to envy him.

FOR. Ah! — I — (is about to take her hand, but stops short, and only takes the prospectus).

MRS. B. (aside). How nervous he is!

FOR. (with prospectus). And you will subscribe for this æsthetic affair?

MRS. B. Yes. There are some good names. I don’t know the honorary secretary, Mr. Forrester, do you?

FOR. I fancy I do. I’ve never met him.

MRS. B. He describes himself as Barrister-at-law.

FOR. Oh, that means nothing. I’m a barrister.

MRS. B. And you mean nothing.

FOR. I mean a great deal — with you.

MRS. B. Do you? (Aside.) I wish he’d say it. (He puts out his hand again, but simply hands back the prospectus.) This thing is absurdly worded. It doesn’t do Mr. Forrester, barrister-at-law, much credit. | [29]

FOR. That’s Streyke’s fault — I mean, you recognise his style.

MRS. B. I do — ridiculous — Are you subscribing?

FOR. Yes, I have — a trifle.

MRS. B. To the benevolent fund, I’m sure. A Wellwisher, £10 10s.; or Anonymous, £20.

FOR. No — no.

MRS. B. Your name’s not down elsewhere, so one of those must be you. Ah, you can’t deceive me!

FOR. I don’t want to. (Aside.) But I can’t help myself.

Re-enter GOODALL.

GOOD. The gentleman has come, sir.

FOR. I’ll go to him.

MRS. B. No. Show the gentleman here, Goodall. (Exit GOODALL.) You want to have a chat alone.

FOR. No really. I’ve nothing of any importance ——

MRS. B. Yes, you have, — tell him about me while I get rid of my habit. Now, stop! I know what you’re going to say — “You don’t want em to get rid of any one of my habits, because they’re all charming.” That word “habit” ’s an irresistible temptation. But I shan’t give you long. So sum me up to your friend in a few words.

FOR. In one — perfection.

MRS. B. Don’t say that. You’ll frighten him away. I’ll give you five minutes to paint my portrait.

FOR. It will only be a sketch.

MRS. B. Quite enough. In black and white. But don’t leave out the black, or the white will go for nothing.


FOR. She’s charming.

Re-enter GOODALL.

GOOD. This way sir.


COL. Well. You’re a nice sort of a sphinx, anyhow. (Reads note.) “Follow the bearer. Will introduce you to the most delightful woman in the world —— ask for Mr. Fisher. Yours truly, Dick.” I did ask for Mr. Fisher, and I am shown in to you. What’s it mean?

FOR. Simply: I’m Forrester at home; Fisher in the country.

COL. Oh! This is the country?

FOR. As near as I can get to it.

COL. Look here. This won’t do.

FOR. Eh?

COL. I’m not particularly moral myself, but this is all wrong.

FOR. No — this is all right. | [30]

COL. You’re playing the deuce with your married life.

FOR. No — my married life is playing the deuce with me.

COL. You forget that wherever you wander, there’s no place like home. (FOR. laughs.) And you seem precious glad there isn’t.

FOR. My dear boy, there’s no harm. Wouldn’t you be glad to escape?

COL. From Lady Tompkins? Why certainly, yes.

FOR. You’ve seen what she’s like.

FOR. No. She’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in nature.

FOR. Under the influence of the mighty genius Streyke.

COL. The evil genius. But you’re risking your wife’s happiness and your own.

FOR. I hate rows.

COL. Nellie’s happiness too — when one word from you —

FOR. Ah! I may say one word a hundred times over there — useless — but here my word is law.

COL. Is it? But would Law take precisely the same view?

FOR. My dear fellow, you’re utterly wrong.

COL. I am — if you’re perfectly right. What’s the lady’s name?

FOR. Blyth.

COL. Oh! not Fisher?

FOR. (earnestly). No — distinctly not. Don’t make any mistake as to my position here. This is Mrs. Blyth’s house. She is a widow — rich — and consequently her own mistress.

COL. Ah!

FOR. She is frank, open, genuine, kindness itself, spirituelle*, irreproachable ——

COL. Just so. How did Mr. Fisher make her acquaintance?

FOR. Well, I was going into the country — a year ago — when I missed my train, and as there wasn’t another ——

COL. For some months, eh?

FOR. Till next morning. So I dined at the station hotel — where I accidentally met Tom Bagot — you remember him?

COL. A practical joker. Hoped he had been hung long ago.

FOR. Well, perhaps it would have been better. He said he was asked to take a dancing friend to one of the pleasantest parties in town.

COL. I see; he introduced you here.

FOR. Yes, and by way of playing off one of his idiotic jokes, he gave my name as Fisher.

COL. Why did you allow him to do it?

FOR. My dear fellow, an explanation at the moment would have been ridiculous ——[31]

COL. But afterwards it would have been sensible.

FOR. Ah! He disappeared afterwards, and hasn’t turned up again.

COL. But you turned up again — very frequently, I should imagine ——

FOR. Yes; the fact is ——

COL. I quite understand. Your friend Bagot could introduce Fisher; but Fisher found that it would be rather inconvenient to bring in Forrester.

FOR. I certainly blame myself for continuing the — the ——

COL. Deception. But you continue it.

FOR. Deception’s rather a strong word.

COL. You want something strong where you’ve been so weak. Mr. Fisher is supposed to be a country cousin and a bachelor — eh?

FOR. Well; it was somehow taken for granted.

COL. It was an assumption on your part.

FOR. I’ve never found an opportunity for explanation.

COL. And never took the trouble to make one. So here you are. With your room at the hotel —

FOR. Ah! that’s always convenient.

COL. Why certainly. Yes, if you’re always missing the train.

FOR. (laughing). Yes, I never catch it now.

COL. No — but you will.

FOR. Ah! don’t be absurd. You of all people to be severe!

COL. Just so. If I am severe, there’s something in it, you bet.

FOR. Why, you yourself said this morning, “The most married man must have a fling sometimes.”

COL. A fling! I guess it’s a country-dance without any end to it.

FOR. My dear fellow, you’re right — to a certain extent. I love Olive, and wouldn’t make her unhappy by any folly of mine; but that confounded æsthetic severity – the “Archy” mother-in-law — and the insufferable Streyke ——

COL. Well, it’s in your own hands.

FOR. It shall be — only for the present. No more preaching — Vive la bagatelle!

COL. By all means, and billiards too. But you’re playing a losing game.

Enter EDWARD LANGTON, at back.

ED. Dick — Oh, I beg pardon.

FOR. It’s all right. Colonel Woodd, a very old friend.

ED. Ah! I’ve heard Miss Forrester speak of you.

COL. Mr. Edward Langton? | [32]

ED. Yes.

COL. Ah! I’ve heard Nellie speak of you.

ED. Nellie! speak to you of me?

COL. Don’t be alarmed. She’s to be Mrs. Langton. I’ve settled it. We young lovers surmount all obstacles.

ED. Are you a lover?

COL. I suppose I don’t look like it. I can.

ED. Then we’re in the same boat.

COL. No — on the same river. I’ve been swamped once, but I’ve started again. But how is it you’re here, backing him up in his deception?

ED. Dick introduced me to Mrs. Blyth about six months ago. As I was forbidden the house by Lady Tompkins, it was my only chance of meeting him, and sending messages to Nellie.

COL. And it never struck you as odd that he should be known as Mr. Fisher?

ED. Yes, it did — but — he interested Mrs. Blyth in me as an unhappy lover — I wasn’t to mention any names — and so ——

COL. Ah, I see —— Love is very blind.

ED. And then he tells me how he pleads our cause at home.

COL. Does he?

ED. How bravely he sticks up for us — I should like to hear him.

COL. So should I.

FOR. Yes — we’ll talk it over afterwards. (Aside to COL.) Not a word to him about Basil.

COL. Dick, you’re deceiving your wife — you’re deceiving your sister, you’re deceiving her lover. A nice example for him.

FOR. No — no, I’ll put it all right.

COL. How?

FOR. Not now — our hostess.

Enter MRS. BLYTH having changed her riding habit.
EDWARD and FOR. go up to her.

COL. (to himself). I don’t like it; he’s going headlong down hill, and I must stop him.

MRS. B. I’ve given you plenty of time to finish the picture.

COL. (Startled. Aside.) Is it possible!!

MRS. B. I wonder whether your friend will recognise the original?

FOR. Mrs. Blyth — Colonel Woodd. (Mutual recognition.)

MRS. B. I’m delighted to welcome any friend of Mr. Fisher’s.

COL. I’m only too glad to come here in that character. | [33]

FOR. He doesn’t look like a pale and wan lover.

ED. But he is.

FOR. And he comes to forget his grief in your society.

COL. Where I dare say one easily forgets the past.

MRS. B. Isn’t it the best thing to do?

COL. Probably. But not the easiest.

FOR. I forget what’s unpleasant, and enjoy myself while I can.

ED. (Presenting a bouquet to MRS. BLYTH.) I have to wish you many happy ——

MRS. B. Thanks! They’re lovely. (Aside.) He’s engaged: I can put them anywhere. (Goes up to table with him.)

FOR. (Aside to COL.) Isn’t she charming? no mock hysterical sentiment, no deception.

COL. You describe her as a conjurer does a trick.

FOR. She’s genuine. (To MRS. BLYTH.) If you’ll allow me, I’ll go and see how they’ve laid the table; Ned may as well come with me and take a lesson; as a lover he’ll be in congenial company — among the spoons.*      Exit with EDWARD.

COL. I feel it due to myself to explain my presence here.

MRS. B. If it’s due to yourself, explain it — to yourself. I don’t require it.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

COL. Perhaps it’s a matter of utter indifference to you?

MRS. B. Perhaps. Haven’t you yet learnt to take a philosophical view of life?

COL. In theory. This is the first time I’ve had to reduce it to practice.

MRS. B. Ah! Practice comes after the Rule of Three. You haven’t got so far as that —

   The Rule of Three
      Is Jealousee
And practice drives me mad.

I hope you won’t try practice — while you’re here.

COL. Had I known I was being brought to your house.

MRS. B. Were you brought blindfolded?

COL. It was the same thing. For, if my eyes had been open —

MRS. B. You would have stayed away (COLONEL bows). Dear me! You must find politeness as difficult as philosophy.

COL. I find the coquette I left.

MRS. B. The girl you left behind you stands before you.

COL. Unchanged.

MRS. B. A very pretty compliment. You’ve learnt flattery.

COL. You’ve not forgotten flirting.

MRS. B. Colonel Woodd, we parted with a quarrel — but, I never thought it was to be “continued in our next.” | [34]

COL. I was a fool to quarrel with you, or for you.

MRS. B. I shall not dispute your assertion, as contradiction evidently flies to your head.

COL. And being here unintentionally, ’pon my soul, I don’t know whether to go or stay!

MRS. B. Please yourself. Only, if you’ll stop and dine, you’ll please me. Try your hand at philosophy and politeness, and avoid worrying yourself and annoying me with a repetition of the espionage and jealous suspicions of years ago.

COL. I have no longer any right to be jealous.

MRS. B. Had you ever the right? Was there ever a time when you weren’t utterly wrong?

COL. I was wrong — utterly wrong — ever to have loved you.

MRS. B. You never did.

COL. Ah! — My only pleasure in life was to be with you — my only ambition to please you. I own my jealousy was wrong — I admit my suspicions were groundless ——

MRS. B. Your jealousy compromised my name. You suffered, I know, and I was sincerely sorry; but did not my reputation suffer long after your recovery, — when, declining all explanation, our wedding was broken off ——

COL. You had left Paris, I was told.

MRS. B. And you believed what you were told without question. Your conduct drove me from Paris. I returned to —— England.

COL. And married.

MRS. B. I was alone and miserable, and you were the cause. To me this sounds more like revenge than love.

COL. I felt that my presence was hateful to you.

MRS. B. Who said so? Not I.

COL. I felt that we could never have been happy together.

MRS. B. That I believe.

COL. I gave you your liberty.

MRS. B. To gain your own.

COL. No. I could not forget you. I have never forgotten you.

MRS. B. Indeed.

COL. I may arrive at it. Indeed, already, what I see of your gaiety and life of pleasure ——

MRS. B. Yes, I enjoy myself. (With mock sentiment.) I, too, have tried to forget the past ——

COL. (touched). Ah!

MRS. B. And I’ve succeeded. And I don’t suppose I should have thought of it again, if you hadn’t come with your past as my birthday present. Why, it’s a mere bunch of | [35] faded flowers, and quite out of place by the side of your friend Mr. Fisher’s bouquet, which came out of his own garden.

COL. Really! My friend Dick Fisher’s garden.

MRS. B. Yes, your friend Mr. Fisher. I see that friendship is strengthened by contrast. He doesn’t watch my actions; he never quarrels with me; never jealously suspicious as to my conduct in his absence — and he is a good deal away in the country.

COL. Where his garden is?

MRS. B. You sneer at so simple an idea as a garden. I suppose you think these flowers are artificial. They’re not. Smell them.

COL. I do.

MRS. B. Real?

COL. Very.

MRS. B. As real as his regard for me.

COL. Ah! you believe in him?

MRS. B. Believe! Implicitly. He is never morose — always cheerful, and the best companion in the world.

COL. A model.

MRS. B. No: a man.

COL. A perfect man.

MRS. B. There are none.

COL. True: it’s an advantage you sex has over ours.

MRS. B. He’ll make an excellent husband.

COL. You’ll marry him?

MRS. B. If I choose. And if anything could decide me, it would be your stupid laughter at this moment.

COL. Allow me to congratulate you.

MRS. B. Congratulate him; and tell him it’s a reward for possessing those virtues ——

COL. In which I am deficient. I will.

MRS. B. Do. (Aside.) He may laugh — but he’s madly jealous.

Enter GOODALL, with cards.

GOODALL. Please, m’m, two ladies who say they’ve sent you —

MRS. B. Oh (looking at cards), two of the lady patronesses of the Æsthetic Art Prospectus. I’ll see them at once. You’ll excuse me.

COL. Certainly. I’ll go and help my happy friend.

MRS. B. You’ll find him if you go through there.


COL. Deeply interested in decanting the claret. Where is his place at table? | [36]

MRS. B. On my left. Nearest the heart.

COL. Charming.

MRS. B. You won’t be jealous?

COL. Not in the least.

MRS. B. Sure?

COL. Positive.

MRS. B. You’re glad you’ve come?

COL. Never was more amused in my life. Au revoir.


MRS. B. Amused! What does he mean? He’s doing it on purpose. He is jealous. I’m sure he’s jealous. If he isn’t, he ought to be. But why should I care whether he is or is not? I don’t! I won’t!


LADY T. I must apologise for the intrusion, but time presses and you have already received ——

MRS. B. Yes, and am much interested in one portion of it. — Why, Olive dear!

OLIVE. My dear Lilian! We were old schoolfellows, Mamma.

LADY T. Indeed, that’s fortunate, as I have to call on the dear Dowager Lady Chipstone.

MRS. B. Yes, it’s either the flat just above ——

GOOD. The flat below, m’m. (Aside.) She won’t hear much to our advantage there.

LADY T. Then I will leave Olive with you till my return, Mrs. Blyth. Mr. Streyke is to meet me at Lady Chipstone’s. I see you have his poems. Ah, madam! his verse hums like the silver brooklet that breaks the dawn of silence over the moistened face of earth. Ah !      [Exit, sighing deeply.

MRS. B. Is your mother often like that? (Apparently greatly concerned.) She appears to be suffering. I hope she’s not a great invalid.

OLIVE. No; she is intense. We are both intense.

MRS. B. Are you? Then I’m afraid you won’t like my teacups, because, you see, they’ve got handles so that you can actually take them up and drink comfortably out of them. And look at the tea-pot — isn’t it dreadful! I suppose you wouldn’t have such a monstrosity in your house?

OLIVE. It is a discord of form.

MRS. B. I’ve a beautiful old cracked one down stairs, which has seen plenty of service; but its best days are in store for it when it becomes the property of some intense enthusiast — as cracked as itself — who will bestow on it as much care and | [37] attention as she would on an aged and valuable relative in her second childhood, and treat it as gently as a baby after vaccination.

OLIVE. We may learn much from a teapot.

MRS. B. To draw?

OLIVE. To contemplate the harmony of colour and the beauty of form. The nearer to the Great Ideal Perfection it may be the more must we energise to live up to it!

MRS. B. I understand living up to my income, but not up to my teapot.

OLIVE. The words are not mine. They are the teaching of the gifted master, Lambert Streyke.

MRS. B. Ah! Then you’re a great admirer of Mr. Streyke, the obscure poet.

OLIVE. Obscure! He is a living flame!

MRS. B. He may be the electric light itself, and Shakespeare only a gas-lamp; but it seems to me that he’s only a dark lantern, and gives us nothing but the shadow.

OLIVE. If you came but within the circle of his illumination ——

MRS. B. I speak as an outsider.

OLIVE. You’ve read his poems?

MRS. B. I’ve just dipped into them.

OLIVE. And arisen refreshed?

MRS. B. Well, after a first dip I generally find I come up rather bewildered.

OLIVE. What affluent sweetness of impulse!

MRS. B. I call it “gush.”

OLIVE. The sense is so subtle!

MRS. B. It quite escapes me.

OLIVE. What infinite depth of meaning!

MRS. B. I haven’t got to the bottom of it yet.

OLIVE. You have studied his “Pan by the River”?

MRS. B. Eh?

OLIVE. What colour, what depth, what perfect form!!

MRS. B. Colour! depth! what sort of a pan are you talking about?

OLIVE. The great god Pan.

MRS. B. Oh, a dreadful old person with a pipe.

OLIVE. Study it. The mighty master’s words are like brilliant diamonds.

MRS. B. Like — but not the real thing: a sort of poetic paste.

OLIVE. You do not appreciate the delicate intricacy of spiritual stuff.

MRS. B. Spiritual stuff and nonsense! my dear Olive. You weren’t like this when we were girls together. The most spiritual stuff we thought about was sweet stuff, and chocolates | [38] and toffy. And I’ve still got a regular schoolgirl’s appetite for bread-and-butter, as you see. I’m a bread-and-butter missis; but I’ve ridden from Richmond since luncheon. Ah! that’s a long time ago. I don’t mean the luncheon, I mean since we were at school together. I’ve been married and widow’d since then.

OLIVE. I’ve been married more than three years.

MRS. B. (looking at card). Mrs. Forrester. Is Mr. Forrester a very severe æsthetic?

OLIVE. Alas no! he is still too material.

MRS. B. Then he must go into training.

OLIVE. He needs expansion.

MRS. B. Then he’d better not go into training. But how is it we’ve never met anywhere — at any At Homes or dances?

OLIVE. We have our own society; and do not frequent the swollen assemblies of ephemeral emptinesses.

MRS. B. Am I an ephemeral emptiness? It sounds like a sort of title. Your Emptiness. It’s better than your Highness. How is your gracious Emptiness this evening?

OLIVE. We will sit like two damozels in purple and green —

MRS. B. And be intense!

OLIVE. And listen to the sighing of the wind going in quest of the lily-seed*; and beneath the blue roof with golden stars we will sit and think and think, and count the yellow flowers and the daffodils.

MRS. B. And where are we to do this, dear? At Colney Hatch*?

OLIVE (sighing). Oh!

MRS. B. I don’t think I shall have time for so much mooning — in fact, very soon, I expect my time will not be my own.

from: Punch (Feb 19, 1881)

OLIVE (languidly). No? Your time not your own? Whose?

MRS. B. Well, I’ve had heaps of offers, a legion of followers, — a legion of honour all decorated with a riband, but none promoted to master of the order as yet ——

OLIVE. You contemplate ——

MRS. B. I do — I don’t go in much for contemplation generally, but I contemplate that. I’ve a devoted admirer in Mr. Fisher. Do you know anyone of that name?

OLIVE. Fisher? No.

MRS. B. You shall. He’ll rouse you up. Charming fellow! He’s here now, and I expect him to put the interesting question this very evening. He almost came out with it a few minutes since.

OLIVE (dreamily). Three Fishers went sailing ——*

MRS. B. No connection, my dear. I think he told me he | [39] had begun life as a barrister, but he has said “Good-bye to the bar and its moaning”* long ago.

Enter COLONEL WOODD, speaking off.

COL. I’ll give your message. (To MRS. B.) Your master of the ceremonies wishes to speak to you on a subject of the greatest importance.

MRS. B. (anxiously). Yes ——

COL. Yes — about the tomato salad.

MRS. B. Is that all?

COL. All! salad making’s a moral lesson. If in the Old Country as much care were taken about marriage as we take over a tomato salad, I guess there’d be a more satisfactory mixing all round. Lots of oil, and only just enough vinegar to — I beg pardon — eh — why? Mrs. Forrester. (Aside.) The deuce!

MRS. B. I’m so glad — it saves an intoduction.

OLIVE. Colonel Woodd is one of my husband’s oldest friends.

COL. Yes. (To MRS. B.) I’d better tell him you’re coming.

OLIVE. Him? My husband?

MRS. B. No; Mr. Fisher — my master of the ceremonies. Will you and your mother dine here this evening? — and the Colonel will go and fetch Mr. Forrester. (To MRS. F. aside.) The Colonel was one of my legion of honour — a deserter — recaptured. (Aloud to COLONEL.) Now Colonel, you persuade Mrs. Forrester to stay. It will be delightful if you can manage it.       Exit MRS. BLYTH.

COL. (aside). It will — with a vengeance! (To OLIVE.) Is Mrs. Blyth acquainted with your husband, Mrs. Forrester?

OLIVE. No. I came with Mamma.

COL. Lady Tompkins — here?

OLIVE. Yes; in the apartments below, the Flat, I think you call them — she has an appointment with Lady Chipstone. I’m waiting for her here.

COL. (aside). There’s no time to lose. I’ll anticipate the dénoûement. (Aloud.) My dear Mrs. Forrester — I’m going to ask you what may appear rather a strange question — you think your husband is in the country — fishing?

OLIVE. I’m sure of it.

COL. I’m going to make rather a strange remark — suppose he shouldn’t be?

OLIVE. What!

COL. Suppose, to escape from the severe climate of your æsthetic establishment; from the sublime discourses of the mouldy master — I mean the mighty master Streyke, and, above all, from the tyranny of a mother-in-law ——[40]

OLIVE. Sir!!

COL. Suppose he had taken a room at an hotel and were in the midst of congenial friends, enjoying his London life in his own old form ——

OLIVE. His old form! I don’t understand.

COL. Don’t you. In your own interest, and his, I must speak plainly. Before marriage your husband’s life was gaiety in London and field sports in the country.

OLIVE. He is changed.

COL. No — he is the same.

OLIVE. But he is gradually changing. My mother still speaks of him as an unhatched Bird of Art.

COL. Ah! That’s why Lady Tompkins is so perpetually sitting on him.


COL. It’s enough to addle him.

OLIVE. Colonel Woodd!

COL. Metaphorically of course. But he has broken his shell — emerged when the old hen was not looking and left a chalk egg in his place.

OLIVE. A chalk egg?

COL. Yes — a sham, in the home nest.

OLIVE. He has complained to you!

COL. Till now, he has had no one else to whom he could complain.

OLIVE. To me.

COL. Before my Lady and the Mouldy — I mean the Mighty Master? Not exactly.

OLIVE. And he has told you —

COL. That his wife — to whom he is as deeply attached as ever — is far too devoted a daughter, and sacrifices her husband to her mother. He is an abject slave where he should be master.

OLIVE. He is happy.

COL. He is — away from home — where there is brightness, movement, Offenbach’s music, and life, instead of die-away languor, broken harpsichords, Streyke’s poems, sickly lilies, draggle-tailed peacock’s feathers, and the beauty of decay.

OLIVE. Sir, you speak very glibly of what you do not understand.

COL. I didn’t know I was so far qualified for the Streyke School.

OLIVE. You have a strong personal dislike to Mr. Streyke.

COL. To humbug and cant — but it’s the same thing.

OLIVE. He is subtle.

COL. He is so. | [41]

OLIVE. An overpowering, wonderful imagination!

COL. He imagines himself a Poet — he can imagine anything. But — he’s undermining your domestic happiness for his own purposes — he’ll bring about a rupture between your husband, yourself, and your mother, for his own pecuniary benefit — and the best I can wish him is that Lady Tompkins may make a will and leave everything —— to his imagination.

OLIVE. You are most ungenerous. But I thank you — for I can now measure the truth of your suggestion about my husband, by the malevolent falseness of your charge against a Master Mind.

Enter FORRESTER, à la cantonnade.*

FOR. Now, Colonel, we must be off and dress — I’ve arranged the tables — a symphonious harmony of colour, as old Streyke would say. After dinner the tranquil weed — the fragrant coffee — and — (singing) “We’ll have a little dance to-night, boys—” (suddenly confronts OLIVE.)

OLIVE. Richard!

FOR. Olive!!

COL. (aside). “And shall not a Meeting like this make amends?”*

OLIVE. What are you doing here?

FOR. Well — I was —

OLIVE. Dancing — I saw.

FOR. Yes — just at that moment — but — by the way, what are you doing here?

OLIVE. Mrs. Blyth wished to become a Patroness.

FOR. (aside). That infernal Prospectus. (Aloud.) Yes — and that’s why ——

OLIVE. No, it isn’t — I insist on your leaving with me — at once ——

Enter EDWARD; then immediately MRS. BLYTH.

OLIVE. Edward!

MRS. B. Why you seem to be among friends! You must stay.

OLIVE. Excuse me. (To FOR.) Your arm.

FOR. Certainly.

MRS. B. (aside to her). You know him too — that’s the Mr. Fisher ——

OLIVE. My husband.

MRS. B. Your husband! This — Mr. Forrester.

OLIVE. Yes. Mr. Forrester ——

MRS. B. And the secretary to the ——[42]

Enter at back LADY TOMPKINS, then STREYKE and BASIL.

LADY T. We’ve returned ——

STREYKE. We came up in the lift!

BASIL. But we’re not going down in it!

LADY T. (to MRS. BLYTH). This is Mr. Streyke.

MRS. B. (dazed and hesitating). Oh — won’t you —

LADY T. No, thank you. We have called on the Dowager Lady Chipstone, and what she said ——

STREYKE. Is incommunicable — like Genius.

LADY T. But we must decline the offer of your association.

STREYKE. The golden purity of Art must be without alloy. For Art is Art ——

COL. Be it never so artful.

STREYKE. Colonel ——

COL. (spells his name). W–o–o, &c.

LADY T. Come, Olive! — Mr. Forrester! — I thought you were in the country — fishing ——

STREYKE. I thought salmon-trout didn’t come from Leicestershire. It was from a London fishmonger’s. O the pity of it!!

FOR. I was on my way ——

OLIVE. But he missed the train, and seeing our carriage at the door ——

COL. (aside). Bravo!

LADY T. And Mr. Edward Langton!

STREYKE. O the shame and the sorrow!! (Aside.) That settles him.

LADY T. (to STREYKE). Do not waste your sublime fire on worthless objects. Come —— (pausing, FOR. and OLIVE waiting.)

Exit LADY T., FOR. and OLIVE following.

BASIL. O Darkness of Light! ——

STREYKE. Ulysses in the house of Circé ——

COL. You dare —— (Takes a step forward.)

MRS. B. (seated, stops him). Stay here — with me.

Gives the COLONEL her hand, and turns her back on FORRESTER — who goes off with OLIVE as curtain descends.

END OF ACT II. | [43]






SCENE. Same as Act I. STREYKE disc[overe]d

STREYKE. Nothing could be better for me than the discovery of Mr. Richard Forrester’s deception yesterday afternoon. I always mistrusted his salmon trout. Fortunate too old Lady Chipstone hadn’t a good word to say for Mrs. Blyth so that Lady Tompkins refused to listen to any explanation. The Philistine Colonel remained with the Philistine Widow and we marched off – Mr. Forrester a prisoner. Everyone was in a deuce of a temper. Lady Tompkins couldn’t attend the lecture on intensity which I postponed till tonight and dined comfortably at the “Turtle Tavern” where they informed me beccaficos are not yet in season. Somehow I shan’t feel quite safe till the Colonel has disappeared. Mrs. Forrester actually wrote to him today asking him to come here in her mother’s absence but luckily I intercepted the letter. It’ll be a trump in my hand to play with Lady Tompkins should Mrs. Forrester throw any difficulties in the way of immediately settling Nellie’s marriage with my nephew Basil. By the way, where is that fellow? He’s unworthy of my trouble. I ought never to have let him give up the pestle and mortar for the brush and maulsticks*. I must read up my confounded lecture. What’s the time?[44] My watch has stopped – plenty of time before I have to fetch Lady Tompkins from Basil’s Studio where I left her with my sister arranging the preliminaries of the wedding which being purely business was a matter far beneath my transcendental genius. (reads.) “To realise the utterness of the intense we must reel in a calm clear Empyrean vacuum” That reminds me – I’ve ordered a quiet little supper afterwards at Romelli’s – a filet – a salad – a dish of delicate wheatears and a bottle of burgundy (resumes) “Empyrean vacuum where elevated above the sensuous and terrestrial we begin to comprehend the lesson of the lily.”

Enter BASIL with Lily.

BASIL. I’ve left them there. You said you wanted this for your lecture: so I brought it. Horrid bore carrying this thing about.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

STREYKE. Don’t let anyone else hear that observation. Lady Tompkins, I suppose, is consulting your Aunt Gwendoline about your marriage.

BASIL. (laughs) Aunt Gwendoline. Ha! Ha!

STREYKE. Why this levity?

BASIL. The idea of Aunt Betsy being called Gwendoline.

STREYKE. Betsy is not æsthetic. Gwendoline is. Your aunt is 52 and as it’s the only chance of changing her name she has ever had, she jumped at it: I mean she adopted it with the greatest possible alacrity and she has lived up to it for the last year and a half.

BASIL. So am I but I’m tired of it. | [45]

STREYKE. Tired of it!

BASIL. I’d rather give up the Basil Giorgione and go back to Bob again. I ain’t a genius you know.

STREYKE. You’re not, but there is no necessity to let everyone into the secret. When you were assistant to a chemist and druggist you were under that delusion.

BASIL. Yes. I was fool enough to cut every thing —

STREYKE. Except your hair. I foresaw there was a fortune in that and lent you money on the strength of it – I mean on the length of it.

BASIL. You’ve got my acceptances —

STREYKE. Which are valueless unless you marry Ellen Forrester.

BASIL. And suppose I don’t.

STREYKE. If you don’t. I shall – There is something about you this evening that does not savour of the lily and the peacock feather. I fail to perceive in your expression that delicacy of colour, that subtle odour – I was wrong. I do perceive a subtle odour which is not that of the water lily. Basil you’ve been drinking.

BASIL. One can’t always be living on peacock feathers and water lilies. You don’t do it yourself.


BASIL. Oh! I know. Look here I called in at Romellis, where you’ve ordered your supper tonight and he say’s he won’t let you have any more till you’ve paid his bill. | [46] Here it is – and if you don’t settle tomorrow he’ll County Court you.

STREYKE. He’d better not. What did you tell him?

BASIL. I told him to include my account in yours.


BASIL. No, I don’t think so.

STREYKE. I’ll see to this tonight and now look here, no more of this or I’ll leave you to yourself and you are ruined.

BASIL. And what will become of you?

STREYKE. I shall be in Alderman Sir John Tompkins’s place —

BASIL. But he’s dead.

STREYKE. Idiot. (Enter NELLIE.) I’ll stand no nonsense and give you your last chance tonight. At a quarter past eight we have to meet Lady Tompkins and your Aunt Gwendoline at your Studio.

NELLIE. (aside) The Colonel will be here at 8. Ah!

STREYKE. You’ve got half an hour to pull your self together. And listen once for all to what I have to say. Do you hear. (Clock strikes.) What; it’s all your fault. Come quick. If Lady Tompkins thinks I’m neglecting her there’ll be another difficulty – and all through you.

Exit pushing BASIL off.

NELLIE. At last! I hope they’ll both of them be found out in their villanies. I wish they’d tumble downstairs: No: there they go. Going going. There’s the front door – gone – Thank goodness! When will that dress come – They promised I should have it at 6.30 and I’ve been watching the staircase for the last hour. | [47] The Colonel told me to order it and I managed to steal out and do it too; if they hadn’t all of them had headaches this morning I shouldn’t have had a chance. I’ve done everything according to his directions. Yes, but I can’t make out what he means; I’m sure there’s an awful conspiracy going on and I’m in it. I like being in it but I don’t know what it is exactly.

Enter MULLINS with Box.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

MULLINS. Col. Woodd is below Miss.

NELLIE. Oh show him up at once.

Servant. Yes Miss: and this box it’s for you Miss.

NELLIE. Oh, I know – yes it’s all right (Exit MULLINS.) The dress at last! how glad I shall be to get rid of these things and dress like a human being.


COL. Well Nellie. What have you done?

NELLIE. Everything you told me – “Orders punctually attended to.” I went into Olive’s room and she’s got lots of dresses just as good as new that she used to wear a year or two ago, before they went in for tone.

COL. Then that gets rid of a difficulty.

NEL. And I’ve bought a lovely one for myself.

COL. And you’ll wear it?

NEL. Will I, won’t I.

COL. You shall be in it in five minutes. Only wait the signal for the transformation. But first about the family generally.

NELL. Dick’s been out all day.

COL. I’ve seen him. How about last night.

NELL. Lady Tompkins had an awful row with | [48] Olive, because she wouldn’t let Dick go away fishing. It’s the first time I ever heard them quarrel.

COL. Just so. Everything must have a beginning.

NEL. And Lady Tompkins actually had a dispute with Mr. Streyke.

COL. You don’t say?

NEL. Yes. I haven’t had such a pleasant evening for a long time.

COL. That’s an amiable sentiment.

[NEL.] Then while Dick was out today Olive was very restless and dashed off a letter.

COL. To whom?

NELL. I don’t know. And just before you came Mr. Streyke and his nephew were having a regular quarrel.

COL. Then there’s a chance for honest men at last. I should have been in the middle of it if I hadn’t come so late.

NEL. Oh! you’re not late. I put the clock on to hurry them away.

COL. You are a girl of progress.

NEL. They’re off to Basil’s Studio to meet Mr. Streyke’s sister.

COL. A female Streyke! what a vision of beauty!

NEL. Tonight they’re to settle all about my marriage.

COL. We’ll settle that.

NEL. And Lady Tompkins is coming back to take us to the lecture — look — here it is! I’ll hide it.

COL. No! No! a letter addressed to me.

NEL. It’s Olive’s handwriting. Oh it’s what she wrote this morning. | [49]

COL. And old artful has stopped it. Ah! begging me to come round, very unhappy about Dick and referring to what I said to her yesterday.

NEL. Look isn’t this fun?

COL. Hullo! Lambert Streyke Debtor to Romelli, Restaurateurs & Confectioner. Dinners & Suppers provided. Turtle — Oysters — Turtle fins Chateaubriam — Burgundy, wild duck. Whitebait Cuvée Pommery trés sec. Asparagus. Quails farcis – filet truffles cutlets liqueurs cigars total £67 7s. 3d. from December to June. Oh the old humbug.

NEL. What a pig! and he always said he could feed on a lily in a glass of water.

COL. And a threat to place it in the hands of his solicitor. Then here goes Mr. Streyke’s bill in the envelope addressed to me, and Mr. Basil Giorgione’s bill in its original envelope. When he finds it, it may be a hint to him.

NEL. You ought to expose him. If Lady Tompkins only knew.

COL. You leave it all to me. You’ve only to obey orders. We’ve no time to lose. So go at once and put on your ball dress.

NEL. But when I’ve got it on what am I to do?

COL. Dance.

NEL. Where?

COL. Here.

NEL. Here! With you?         [Enter EDWARD.

COL. No with him!

ED. The Col. has told you?

NEL. That there’s going to be a party here.

ED. This evening! Yes! Verbal invitations through me to celebrate the Colonels return. | [50]

NEL. But what will Lady Tompkins say?

ED. Who cares!

COL. Here she is — No she isn’t! only a false alarm to teach you how to prepare to receive the enemy. Well how many are coming?

ED. Couldn’t get more than thirty couples in the time, all dancers.

NEL. Delightful.

COL. The band?

ED. I saw Brassey himself he’ll bring the same that played last night at Mrs. Blyth’s.

NEL. You were dancing last night.

ED. Yes —— but —

COL. But he was thinking of you all the time.

NEL. When he ought to have been very unhappy.

COL. So he was. I heard his partner say he was a miserable dancer.

ED. Oh.

NEL. You mustn’t dance with any but me tonight.

ED. Then we are an engaged couple.

NEL. For every dance. I’m so happy.

COL. And you’ll be so hungry. Now about supper.

ED. I went to Romelli’s.

COL. & NELL. Romelli’s!

NEL. Why that’s

ED. That’s what?

COL. Why that’s the best place to go to. We’ve heard of it — go on —

ED. Romelli’s a very obliging chap. I saw him himself & he said that as it was very particular and had to be done in a hurry I mentioned Mrs. Blyth’s name — | [51]

NEL. Who’s Mrs. ——

COL. Go on.

ED. Romelli said he’d come and superintend.

COL. Bravo! I daresay he’ll be delighted to recognise his excellent customer Mr. Streyke.

ED. Eh!

NELL. I’ll tell you.

COL. Can’t keep a secret.


FOR. I say! Coast clear?

COL. Yes. The enemy won’t return for nearly an hour.

FOR. And the coup d’état?

COL. Everything’s in train. Company, supper, band.

FOR. I’ve given the butler full instructions. He looked amazed at my venturing to issue any commands in my own house. I soon gave him to understand that the Streyke regime was at an end. But it’s all no use if Olive holds out. If she sides with Lady Tompkins we’re done.

COL. Have you spoken to her?

FOR. Well I really didn’t like to ——

COL. But you said you’d enlist her.

FOR. Yes. Only you know that enlisting’s more in your line and after all I behaved deuced badly, I can’t help feeling it —

COL. You ought to — Mrs. Blyth has forgiven you.

FOR. Yes. But when I called she refused to see me.

COL. Quite right. I was there and she won’t | [52] see you again till she’s invited by your wife to come here and I have the pleasure of bringing her, which I hope will be this evening. Edward I want you to take a message at once. You’re wasting your time.

NELL. Oh Dick isn’t it fun. But I’m so nervous.

FOR. So am I!

COL. No you go & dress.

NELL. Oh here’s

ALL. Who?

NELL. No it’s only Olive.

FOR. Olive.

NELL. I’ll go up the back staircase Edward don’t forget you are engaged to me for every dance. No cards —      Exit.

COL. One minute. (to FOR.). You go into ambush.

FOR. But to listen —

COL. You’ll hear no good of yourself — trust me.

FOR. Behind the easel — Basil’s Lady.

COL. Yes. Ars est celare artem. Now be off and see the musicians and the supper are here in time and tell the men to hurry up with the illuminations.

ED. All right, Col. There’s nothing so jolly as an impromptu dance.    (Exit.)

Enter OLIVE.

OLIVE. An impromptu dance! What does he mean?

COL. I don’t know Mrs. Forrester! Something new perhaps he’s going to astonish us with this evening, a pas seul* in his own account.

OLIVE. Here! I wonder at his effrontery in coming at all after having been forbidden the house [53]

COL. By Lady Tompkins, not by yourself or your husband.

OLIVE. It was my mother’s wish —

COL. In obedience to Mr. Streyke’s influence of which my friends Mr. & Mrs. Forrester are going to rid themselves this very evening by making a declaration of independence, giving a festive hop and a peculiarly unæsthetic supper.

OLIVE. Do you mean that we are going to give a party here.

COL. To a circle of your old friends. Philistines perhaps – but for all that only too glad to give you a hearty welcome back to mundane enjoyments after your long absence in the cold grey clouds and chilly atmosphere of an unnatural and fake æstheticism.

OLIVE. I do not understand you.

COL. Indeed! And yet the events of yesterday the scene at Mrs. Blyth’s should be a pretty good key to it. Even if you had not written this letter to me asking for my advice.

OLIVE. Don’t speak so loud. Yes, I am unhappy. I am heartsore with piteous pains. I have been thinking over what you said to me yesterday. I am afraid I have been wrong. But I do not know whom to trust.

COL. Not Mr. Streyke. I only got this letter quite by accident — Ask Nelly. Mr. Streyke had intercepted it.

OLIVE. He dared —

COL. Oh! He’d dare a great deal more than | [54] that to serve his own purpose. You’ve only got to put your foot down, show him and his nephew the door, consult your husband’s tastes before everybody else’s, let him be master in his own house and you’ll be reunited in the bonds of mutual affection and as the fairy stories say, live happily ever afterwards.

OLIVE. I feel your advice is good and yet how can I think you are sincere now, when it was only yesterday you took him to this Mrs. Blyth’s.

COL. I took him?

OLIVE. Yes. I was not astonished, for I had heard you ask him — before us all — to dine with you and go and see a ballet.

COL. My dear Mrs. Forrester, let’s put this matter perfectly clear. I only arrived in England yesterday and had no more idea of meeting Mrs. Blyth than I had of being introduced to Mr. Lambert Streyke.

OLIVE. But she told me you were an old admirer of hers “recaptured” that was her phrase.

COL. Who willingly allowed himself to be recaptured and not a moment too soon, as she was actually expecting your husband to propose to her.

OLIVE. I know.

COL. Exactly. Then there’s no necessity for me to take him there and, Mrs. Forrester, I should have been the last person to do so as I am horribly jealous and it isn’t likely that I should encourage your husband or anyone | [55] in a flirtation with a lady to whom I have been for years passionately attached who drove me mad with her coquettry, in search of whom I was travelling to Paris and would have travelled all over the world to see if she were free and with whom, on meeting her yesterday, I found myself as jealously in love as I was years ago when for her sake I challenged a friend whom I had blindly supposed to be my rival.

OLIVE. A friend — but.

COL. Oh don’t be alarmed. Your husband and myself understand one another perfectly. Through him Mrs. Blyth has been restored to me. Through me, he has been restored to you. You recover a husband, I gain a wife.

OLIVE. Mrs. Blyth has she —

COL. Accepted me? She has. I arrived just in time. Out of evil comes good. She renounces all those follies which might have compromised her name and in ceasing to be a gay widow she becomes a happy wife at least, I shall do all in my power to make her so.

OLIVE. And what can I do to make Richard happy?

COL. What? Why accept the situation – Give up those affected caricatures of art, that effeminate invertebrate society which he detests, gather about you the old friends whom you have neglected and give him those amusements at home which otherwise, depend on it, he will seek elsewhere.

OLIVE. Oh anything rather than that.

COL. Then you’d better begin by telling | [56] him you grant him a free pardon for the past.

OLIVE. I do with all my heart.

FOR. (Comes down.) Olive (Embrace.)

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

COL. Tableau! Bless you my children.

FOR. We’ve a happy future before us, Olive.

OLIVE. Richard — one word and I have done with it. For ever. You have not treated me frankly and openly. Before I married, you knew my mother’s wishes were in every thing a law to me and when she came to live with us, had you but remonstrated with me at the first, had you protested against Mr. Streyke, had you, kindly but plainly pointed out to me the right line of love and duty we should never have been estranged as we have been. — and as we never will be again, will we?

FOR. Never, Olive, never.

OLIVE. You will have to be very firm with Mamma.

FOR. Yes it will be a difficulty.

COL. Not at all, directly we have enlightened her as to Streyke’s true character. And have I your permission to present to you the future Mrs. Col. Woodd?

OLIVE. By all means. This evening.

COL. I’ll fetch her myself.


MULL. Please, sir, here’s the man with the Candelabra.

FOR. Bring him in. Set him to work at once. There’s no time to lose.

OLIVE. When are they asked for? | [57]

FOR. Nine. But it’s not a ball.

OLIVE. Ah! but I’ve got a wardrobe full of things made before I became intense — and in future I mean to dress to please you and I haven’t much time to do it in.


ED. The band’s here.

FOR. Yes. Now don’t let’s leave it all to the British Workman or we shan’t be finished till midnight — here take this —

ED. All right.

FOR. I’ll do this one — hold the steps Mullins.


NEL. They’ve come.

FOR. & ED. Who?

NEL. Why the band! they’re tuning up.

FOR. I thought you meant Lady Tompkins.

NEL. Oh no, they’re tuning up downstairs. What fun. And Edward you don’t look at me.

ED. Yes I do. It’s beautiful.

MULL. Please Sir. Mr. Romelli wants to know if he can see you about the refreshments.

FOR. All right show him in.

MULL. This way. There is Mr. Forrester.

ROM. Good evening Sir, you’ll excuse me, but shall you have de tea and coffee and ice in dis room?

FOR. Yes certainly. Mullins see to the table here.

MULL. And the things can be brought up by the back stairs this way.

Exit with ROMELLI.

COL. (Entering.) Mrs. Blyth just drove up as | [58] I got out. She’s in the drawing room. I’ve sent up to let your wife know.

NELL. Romelli’s here, he’s coming to arrange the refreshments on that table.

COL. Capital. What an illumination, quite a Forrester’s fête!

FOR. We can’t have this old picture in the way.

ED. Where shall I put it?

FOR. Anywhere — and let Mr. Streyke take it away with him. We’ve had enough of that rubbish.


STREYKE. Rubbish!

LADY T. Rubbish! What is the meaning of all this disorder? Hireling waiters and flippant fiddlers. Is it Bedlam?

STREYKE. First let me ask if in this discordant chaos anyone has seen my lecture?

NELL. Yes, But nobody’s heard it.

LADY T. Miss Ellen.

STREYKE (aside). The letter and bill. Good.

LADY T. What is the meaning of this frivolous costume? Mr. Edward Langton.

STREYKE. Whom you have forbidden the house!

FOR. But whom I have invited!

LADY T. And your friend Col —

FOR. By my invitation. We’ve got some friends coming for a dance.

NEL. A small and early.

LADY T. A dance? A rebellion.

COL. No, a dance is a revolution!

FOR. So we shall be unable to attend Mr. Streyke’s lecture on intensity — but if he likes to drop in afterwards to supper.

STREYKE. Supper! | [59]

LADY T. Supper !!

STREYKE. Lady Tompkins this is a conspiracy to drive you and myself from this house to prevent the marriage of my nephew with your ward Miss Ellen —

FOR. My ward —

STREYKE. — To establish a Lancelot in Arthurs Court, to transform a court of culture into a camp of gross Philistinism.

LADY T. You waste your precious treasure of speech on dull ears. See it is time we should be at the studio for your lecture.

STREYKE. Lady Tompkins that clock is a deception like the rest. It has gone wrong and become lamentably fast. Before you came here, Colonel, this house was a pure temple of poetry, of simple earnest melody but this Goliath who took your son-in-law to the house of that Delilah where we discovered him yesterday 

COL. Delilah. Take care how you speak of that lady Sir, or you’ll go down stairs rather quicker than you came up.

STREYKE. You hear Lady Tompkins! Physical violence is threatened.

LADY T. But where is my daughter. Surely Olive cannot have consented to this?

STREYKE. Alas she has joined the Philistines – it was she who wrote the Colonel’s invitation.

LADY T. Impossible!!

STREYKE. Here is the letter.

FOR. What?

LADY T. Where is Olive to reply to this?

(OLIVE and MRS. BLYTH enter.) | [60]

OLIVE. Here Mamma!

LADY T. With that —

STREYKE. Delilah! Oh the pity of it —

LADY T. Is this your letter to the Colonel?

STREYKE. Asking him to come here in your mother’s absence 

OLIVE. Yes, this is the envelope — but as to the letter —

STREYKE. In justice to myself, as my word is doubted, let it be read.

OLIVE. By all means. Read it Mamma.

LADY T. (reads) “Sir. If my account is not settled tomorrow I shall place it in the hands of my solicitor. Your obedient servant I. Romelli.”

STREYKE. No. Stop.

OLIVE. No! No! Let it be read.

LADY T. “Mr. Streyke D[ebto]r to I. Romelli, Confectioner. Dinners provided. Turtle, Oysters, Champagne, filet, Quail, Burgundy, £67 7s. 3d.

STREYKE. It’s a forgery.

ROMEL. No! Your pardon sir, it is not, it is a fact.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

FOR. This is Mr. Romelli. You know this gentleman?

ROMEL. Mr. Streyke. Yes and his nephew. Well, I trust him from month to month because he say that his nephew is to marry an heiress, and he himself was to marry a rich old lady of title — the widow of an alderman.


STREYKE. I assure you — | [61]

LADY T. Don’t speak to me. How I have been deceived!

STREYKE. Colonel. I owe you one for this.

from: Illustrated London News (March 26, 1881)

COL. Yes. Owing is your strong point.

STREYKE. (as BASIL enters.) I’ll throttle that fool Basil. Ah!


OLIVE. Mamma.

LADY T. My dear, the shock has been too much for me. I will retire to my apartment. No, don’t come with me, stay with your husband. You have to attend to your guests.         (Exit.)

OLIVE. Poor Mamma!

FOR. She’ll be all right again soon and we’ll do our best to make her happy.

MRS. B. Ah! his wife is too good for him!

COL. It’s an exception. But I owe my happiness to you Dick.

FOR. No, I owe mine to you.

OLIVE. Yes we certainly are indebted for it all to The Colonel.



from: Punch (Feb 19, 1881)

Textual Notes

Page numbers refer to the pagination of the manuscript in the Lord Chamberlain’s Files (LCF); in the absence of line-numbers I quote context around the item concerned, which is in bold-type:

p. 9 [For.] ... an eccentric line in Art.] Art? LCF

p. 10 [Col.] ... écrevisses à la Bordelaise] — écrevisses á la Bordelaise LCF

p. 10 f. [Col.] ... Pommery très sec and frappé to an icicle ] Pommery très sec and frappeé to an icicle LCF

p. 13 [Strey.] ... but he mustn’t stop there ] but he must’nt stop there LCF

p. 19 NEL. (aside to him) It’s cowardly. ] NEL. (aside to her) It’s cowardly. LCF

p. 30 (For.) Wouldn’t you be glad to escape? ] Wouldn’t you be glad to escape. LCF

p. 36 MRS. B. Yes, it’s either the flat just above ] Yes, its either the flat just above LCF

p. 37 (Mrs. B.) ... gives us nothing but the shadow. ] nothingbut LCF

p. 43 Act III.] Act III. The Colonel LCF

p. 43 (Strey) ... I always mistrusted his salmon trout. ] alwas LCF

p. 44 (Strey) ... elevated above the sensuous and terrestrial ] terrestial LCF

p. 46 (Nel.) ... I hope they’ll both of them be found out in their villanies ] villianies LCF

p. 47 MULLINS. Col. Woodd is below Miss.] Wood LCF

p. 49 £67 7s. 3d.] 67,, 7,, 3 LCF

p. 49 and Mr. Basil Giorgione’s bill ] and Mr. Basil Giorgione bill LCF

p. 52 OLIVE. Here! I wonder at his effrontery in coming at all ] OLIVE. Here! I wonder at his effrontery at coming at all LCF

p. 53 (Col.) ... a declaration of independence ] a declaration of independance LCF

p. 56 had you but remonstrated with me ] had you but have remonstrated with me LCF

p. 57 (Rom.) shall you have de tea and coffee and ice in dis room? in dis room. LCF

p. 59 (Strey.) ... but this Goliath [who] took your son-in-law to the house of that Delilah ] but this Goliath you took your son-in-law to the house of that Delilah LCF

p. 60 (Lady T.) I shall place it in the hands of my solicitor ] I shall place it in the hands of solicitor LCF [cf. p. 49]

p. 60 (Lady T.) “Mr. Streyke D[ebto]r to I. Romelli. Confectioner. Dinners provided. Turtle, Oysters, Champagne, filet, Quail, Burgundy, £67 7s. 3d. ] “Mr. Streyke Dr to I. Romelli. Confectioner. Dinners provided. Turtle Oysters Champagne filet Quail Burgundy £67,, 7s. 3d. LCF