Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant, is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was their eighth operatic collaboration of fourteen. Princess Ida opened at the Savoy Theatre on January 5, 1884, for a run of 246 performances. The piece concerns a princess who founds a women's university and teaches that women are superior to men and should rule in their stead. The prince to whom she had been married in infancy sneaks into the university, together with two friends, with the aim of collecting his bride. They disguise themselves as women students but are discovered, and all soon face a literal war between the sexes.
The opera satirizes feminism, women's education, and Darwinian evolution, which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England. Princess Ida is based on a narrative poem by Alfred Tennyson called The Princess (1847), and Gilbert had written a farcical musical play, based on the poem, in 1870. He lifted much of the dialogue of Princess Ida directly from his 1870 farce. It is the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse.
By Savoy Opera standards, Princess Ida was not considered a success due, in part, to a particularly hot summer in London in 1884, and it was not revived in London until 1919. Nevertheless, the piece is performed regularly today by both professional and amateur companies, although not as frequently as the most popular of the Savoy operas.
Princess Ida is based on Tennyson's serio-comic narrative poem of 1847, The Princess: A Medley. Gilbert had written a blank verse musical farce burlesquing the same material in 1870 called The Princess. He reused a good deal of the dialogue from this earlier play in the libretto of Princess Ida. He also retained Tennyson's blank verse style and the basic story line about a heroic princess who runs a women's college and the prince who loves her. He and his two friends infiltrate the college disguised as female students. Gilbert had to write entirely new lyrics for Princess Ida, since the lyrics to his 1870 farce were written to previously existing music by Jacques Offenbach, Rossini and others.
Tennyson's poem was written, in part, in response to the founding of Queen's College, London, the first college of women's higher education, in 1847. When Gilbert wrote The Princess in 1870, women's higher education was still an innovative, even radical concept. Girton College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge, was established in 1869. However, by the time Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on Princess Ida in 1883, a women's college was a more established concept. Westfield College, the University of London's first women's college, had opened in 1882. Thus, women's higher education was in the news in London, and Westfield is cited as a model for Gilbert's Castle Adamant.
Increasingly viewing his work with Gilbert as unimportant, beneath his skills, and repetitious, Sullivan had intended to resign from the partnership with Gilbert and Richard D'Oyly Carte after Iolanthe, but after a recent financial loss, he concluded that his financial needs required him to continue writing Savoy operas. Therefore, in February 1883, with Iolanthe still playing strongly at the Savoy Theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan signed a new five-year partnership agreement to create new operas for Carte upon six months' notice. He also gave his consent to Gilbert to continue with the adaptation of The Princess as the basis for their next opera. Later that spring, Sullivan was knighted by Queen Victoria and the honour was announced in May at the opening of the Royal College of Music. Although it was the operas with Gilbert that had earned him the broadest fame, the honour was conferred for his services to serious music. The musical establishment, and many critics, believed that Sullivan's knighthood should put an end to his career as a composer of comic opera — that a musical knight should not stoop below oratorio or grand opera. Having just signed the five-year agreement, Sullivan suddenly felt trapped.
By the end of July 1883, Gilbert and Sullivan were revising drafts of the libretto for Ida. Sullivan finished some of the composition by early September when he had to begin preparations for his conducting duties at the triennial Leeds Festival, held in October. In late October, Sullivan turned his attentions back to Ida, and rehearsals began in November. Gilbert was also producing his one-act drama, Comedy and Tragedy, and keeping an eye on a revival of his Pygmalion and Galatea at the Lyceum Theatre by Mary Anderson's company. In mid-December, Sullivan bade farewell to his sister-in-law Charlotte, the widow of his brother Fred, who departed with her young family to America, never to return. Sullivan's oldest nephew, Herbert, stayed behind in England as his uncle's ward, and Sullivan threw himself into the task of orchestrating the score of Princess Ida. As he had done with Iolanthe, Sullivan wrote the overture himself, rather than assigning it to an assistant as he did in the case of most of his operas.
Princess Ida is the only Gilbert and Sullivan work with dialogue entirely in blank verse and the only one of their works in three acts (and the longest opera to that date). The piece calls for a larger cast, and the soprano title role requires a more dramatic voice than the earlier works. The American star Lillian Russell was engaged to create the title role of Princess Ida, but Gilbert did not believe that she was dedicated enough, and when she missed a rehearsal, she was dismissed. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's usual female lead, Leonora Braham, a light lyric soprano, nevertheless moved up from the part of Lady Psyche to assume the title role. Rosina Brandram got her big break when Alice Barnett became ill and left the company for a time, taking the role of Lady Blanche and becoming the company's principal contralto.
The previous Savoy opera, Iolanthe, closed after 398 performances on 1 January 1884, the same day that Sullivan composed the last of the musical numbers for Ida. Despite grueling rehearsals over the next few days, and suffering from exhaustion, Sullivan conducted the opening performance on 5 January 1884 and collapsed from exhaustion immediately afterwards. The reviewer for the Sunday Times wrote that the score of Ida was "the best in every way that Sir Arthur Sullivan has produced, apart from his serious works.... Humour is almost as strong a point with Sir Arthur... as with his clever collaborator...." The humour of the piece also drew the comment that Gilbert and Sullivan's work "has the great merit of putting everyone in a good temper." The praise for Sullivan's effort was unanimous, though Gilbert's work received some mixed notices.
Sullivan's close friend, composer Frederic Clay, had suffered a serious stroke in early December 1883 that ended his career. Sullivan, reflecting on this, his own precarious health, and his desire to devote himself to more serious music, informed Richard D'Oyly Carte on 29 January 1884 that he had determined "not to write any more 'Savoy' pieces." Sullivan fled the London winter to convalesce in Monte Carlo as seven provincial tours (one with a 17 year old Henry Lytton in the chorus) and the U.S. production of Ida set out.
As Princess Ida began to show signs of flagging early on, Carte sent notice, on 22 March 1884, to both Gilbert and Sullivan under the five-year contract, that a new opera would be required in six months' time. Sullivan replied that "it is impossible for me to do another piece of the character of those already written by Gilbert and myself." Gilbert was surprised to hear of Sullivan's hesitation and had started work on a new opera involving a plot in which people fell in love against their wills after taking a magic lozenge – a plot that Sullivan had previously rejected. Gilbert wrote to Sullivan asking him to reconsider, but the composer replied on 2 April that he had "come to the end of my tether" with the operas:
...I have been continually keeping down the music in order that not one [syllable] should be lost.... I should like to set a story of human interest & probability where the humorous words would come in a humorous (not serious) situation, & where, if the situation were a tender or dramatic one the words would be of similar character."
Gilbert was much hurt, but Sullivan insisted that he could not set the "lozenge plot." In addition to the "improbability" of it, it was too similar to the plot of their 1877 opera, The Sorcerer, and was too complex a plot. Sullivan returned to London, and, as April wore on, Gilbert tried to rewrite his plot, but he could not satisfy Sullivan. The parties were at a stalemate, and Gilbert wrote, "And so ends a musical & literary association of seven years' standing – an association of exceptional reputation – an association unequalled in its monetary results, and hitherto undisturbed by a single jarring or discordant element." However, by 8 May 1884, Gilbert was ready to back down, writing, "...am I to understand that if I construct another plot in which no supernatural element occurs, you will undertake to set it? ... a consistent plot, free from anachronisms, constructed in perfect good faith & to the best of my ability." The stalemate was broken, and on 20 May, Gilbert sent Sullivan a sketch of the plot to The Mikado.
A particularly hot summer in London did not help ticket sales for Princess Ida and forced Carte to close the theatre during the heat of August. The piece ran for a comparatively short 246 performances, and for the first time since 1877, the opera closed before the next Savoy opera was ready to open. Princess Ida was not revived in London until 1919.
The opera satirizes feminism, women's education, and Darwinian evolution, all of which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England. In the 15 years between the time that Gilbert wrote The Princess and the premiere of Princess Ida, the movement for women's education had gained momentum in Britain, with the founding of Girton College (1869) and Newnham College (1871) at the University of Cambridge; and Somerville (1878) and Lady Margaret Hall (1878) at the University of Oxford. Westfield College in Hampstead, the University of London's first women's college, opened in 1882.
As in Patience and Iolanthe, the two previous Gilbert and Sullivan operas, Princess Ida concerns the war between the sexes. In Patience, the aesthetic-crazed women are contrasted with vain military men; in Iolanthe, the vague and flighty fairies (women) are pitted against the ineffective, dim-witted peers (men); and in Ida, overly serious students and professors at a women's university (women) defy a marriage-by-force ultimatum by a militaristic king and his testosterone-laden court (men). Princess Ida is one of several Gilbert plays, including The Wicked World, Broken Hearts, Fallen Fairies, and Iolanthe, where the introduction of males into a tranquil world of women brings "mortal love" that wreaks havoc with the status quo. Stedman calls this a "Gilbertian invasion plot".
Sullivan's score is majestic, and a sequence of songs in Act II, sometimes known as the "string of pearls", is particularly well loved. Sullivan used chromatic and scalar passages and key modulations throughout the score, and commenters have called the Act II quartet "The World Is But a Broken Toy" one of Sullivan's "most beautiful, plaintive melodies." It has also been called "Gounodesque". Although Gilbert's libretto contains many funny lines, the iambic pentameter and three-act structure tend to make Ida more difficult to stage effectively than some of the other Savoy Operas. In addition, modern audiences sometimes find the libretto's dated portrayal of sex roles, and the awkward resolution of the opera, unsatisfying. It is also curious, after the string of successes that the partnership had experienced with George Grossmith, Richard Temple, and Rutland Barrington in starring roles, to choose a theme that relegated them to comparatively minor roles.
In a pavilion at King Hildebrand's palace, courtiers wait expectantly for the arrival of King Gama and his daughter Princess Ida, who was betrothed in infancy to Hildebrand's son, Prince Hilarion (Search throughout the panorama). Hildebrand promises to wage war against Gama if the Princess should fail to appear (Now hearken to my strict command), while Hilarion, who is in love with Ida, although he has not seen her since he was two years old, wonders how she may have changed over the ensuing twenty years (Ida was a twelvemonth-old).
Ida's war-like (and dull) brothers Arac, Guron and Scynthius, arrive at Hildebrand's palace (We are warriors three) preceding their father. King Gama enters, explains his misanthropy (If you give me your attention I will tell you what I am), and promptly displays it by insulting Hildebrand and his son. He then announces that Princess Ida has forsworn men and founded a women's university at Castle Adamant, one of his many country houses. The two Kings advise Hilarion to go to Castle Adamant to claim Ida, and that if she refuses him, Hildebrand will storm the castle (Pr'haps if you address the lady). But Hilarion plans to use romantic means, rather than force, to gain the princess's love. He explains that nature has "armed" him and his friends, the courtiers Cyril and Florian, to win this "war" (Expressive glances will be our lances). The three set off to Castle Adamant, while King Gama and his sons are to remain at Hildebrand's palace as hostages (For a month to dwell in a dungeon cell).
At Castle Adamant, Princess Ida's pupils learn that "man is nature's sole mistake" (Towards the Empyrean heights). One of the Professors, Lady Blanche, doles out the punishments for the day, for "offences" that include bringing chessmen to the university — "men with whom you give each other mate" — and for sketching a double-perambulator. Princess Ida arrives (Minerva! Oh hear me) and delivers a stern lecture, stating that women's brains are larger than men's, and predicting that woman shall conquer man, but that once having conquered, woman will treat man better than he has treated her. Lady Blanche resents the Princess and predicts that one day she will replace her as head of the university (Come mighty must, a song often cut from the D'Oyly Carte productions).
Hilarion, Cyril and Florian sneak into Castle Adamant (Gently, gently). They scoff at the idea of a woman's college. Finding some discarded academic robes, the three men disguise themselves as young maidens wishing to join the university (I am a maiden cold and stately) and are welcomed by Princess Ida (The world is but a broken toy). Florian realises that their disguises won't fool his sister, Lady Psyche (one of the professors), and they take her into their confidence. Lady Psyche warns them that they will face death if the Princess discovers who they are and informs them of the Princess's theories on man, using a parable about an ape who falls in love with a high-born lady to illustrate her point that Darwinian "Man, sprung from an Ape, is Ape at heart" (A lady fair of lineage high).
Melissa, Lady Blanche's daughter, has overheard them, but, fascinated by the first men she has ever seen, swears herself to secrecy. She falls in love with Florian at first sight, and the company celebrate joyously the discovery that men are not the monsters that Princess Ida had claimed (The woman of the wisest wit). Lady Blanche, who has not fallen for the men's disguises, confronts Melissa. Though indignant at first, she is persuaded to keep the men's secret when her daughter points out that if Hilarion is able to woo Princess Ida, Blanche will become head of the university (Now, wouldn't you like to rule the roast?).
During lunch (Merrily rings the luncheon bell), Cyril gets tipsy and inadvertently gives away his friends' identity by singing a bawdy song (Wouldn't you know the kind of maid). In the ensuing confusion, Princess Ida falls into a stream, and Hilarion rescues her (Oh joy, our chief is saved). Despite her rescue, Ida condemns Hilarion and his friends to death. Hilarion counters that without her love to live for, he welcomes death (Whom thou hast chained). King Hildebrand and his soldiers arrive, with Ida's brothers in chains. He reminds her that she is bound by contract to marry Hilarion and gives her until the following afternoon to comply (Some years ago) or incur the guilt of fratricide. The defiant Ida replies that, although Hilarion saved her life and is fair, strong, and tall, she would rather die than be his bride (To yield at once to such a foe).
Princess Ida reviews her student troops' readiness to meet Hildebrand's soldiers in battle, but the terrified girls admit that they are afraid of fighting (Death to the invader!). Princess Ida is disgusted by their lack of courage and vows that, if necessary, she will fight Hildebrand's army alone (I built upon a rock). Her father, King Gama, arrives with a message that Hildebrand prefers not to go to war against women. He reveals that Hildebrand has been torturing him by treating him in luxury and giving him nothing to complain about (Whene'er I spoke sarcastic joke). He suggests that, instead of subjecting her women to all-out war, she pit her three strong, brave brothers against Hilarion and his friends, with Ida's hand to depend on the outcome. Ida is insulted to be "a stake for fighting men" but realises that she has no alternative.
Hildebrand's forces enter, together with Gama and his three sons (When anger spreads his wing). Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian are still in their women's robes, and King Gama and his sons ridicule them. In preparation for battle, Gama's sons shed their heavy armour, saying that it is too uncomfortable for combat (This helmet I suppose). The fight ensues, with Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian defeating Gama's sons (It is our duty plain).
Her wager lost, Ida yields to Hilarion and bitterly asks Lady Blanche if she can resign her post with dignity. The delighted Blanche, who will succeed her as head of the university, assures her that she can. Ida laments the failure of her "cherished scheme," but King Hildebrand points out the fatal flaw in her logic:
Princess Ida admits, "I never thought of that!" Hilarion makes an emotional appeal, urging her to give Man one chance, while Cyril observes that if she grows tired of the Prince, she can return to Castle Adamant. Lady Psyche says that she, too, will return if Cyril does not behave himself, but Melissa swears that she will not return under any circumstances. Finally, Ida admits that she has been wrong, and declares that indeed she loves Hilarion, ending with a quotation directly from the Tennyson poem. All celebrate, (With joy abiding).
1 Starting in the 1920s, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company traditionally deleted this song.
2As musical director, Harry Norris was responsible for adding prominent horn parts to the accompaniment to "A Lady Fair". They were expunged by Malcolm Sargent but subsequently restored by Royston Nash in the 1970s. These are customarily referred to as the ‘Norris’ horn parts, though they may have been written by Geoffrey Toye.
3 The first line of this song is often erroneously sung as "Now wouldn't you like to rule the roost" instead of "roast" (rhymes with "clear the coast" in the next couplet). This typographical error appeared in early vocal scores and still appears in a current Chappell vocal score edition, although some scores have corrected it.
4 In the original production, No. 22 followed No. 23. The present order first appeared in vocal scores published after the first London revival in 1919.
Princess Ida was not revived in London during the authors' lifetimes, and there were no substantive changes to the text after the premiere. The one alteration was purely cosmetic: the first act had originally been called a "Prologue." It was re-designated Act I, with a consequent renumbering of the remaining acts.
At around the time of the first London revival, in 1919, there were changes to the running order of Act III. As written originally, the sequence of Act III is as follows:
As re-ordered in the 1920s, the running order is as follows:
The Chappell vocal score was re-issued to conform to this revised order.
The other significant change is that, at some point in the 1920s, it became traditional to delete Lady Blanche's Act II song, "Come, mighty must" (although it continued to be printed in the vocal score). The song is included in the 1924 D'Oyly Carte recording, but on none of the three recordings the Company made after that (1932, 1955, 1965).
Princess Ida was not as successful as the Gilbert and Sullivan operas that had preceded it. In the midst of the unusually hot summer of 1884, Richard D'Oyly Carte closed the Savoy Theatre for a month, starting in mid-August. The opera had been running for seven months, a short period by the partnership's past standards. The opera re-opened for just three weeks, starting in mid-September, before giving way to a revival of The Sorcerer (revised) and Trial by Jury.
A New York production ran briefly in 1884, and there was a second American production in 1887. In Australia, Princess Ida's first authorized performance was on 16 July 1887 at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, produced by J. C. Williamson.
Provincial tours of Princess Ida began in early 1884 and ended by mid-1885. The opera was revived on tour in December 1895, remaining in the touring repertory through 1896. It re-appeared in late 1897 or early 1898, and from then on was never out of the D'Oyly Carte touring repertory through the early years of the twentieth century. The first London revival, however, did not come until 30 December 1919. From then on, it was included in every D'Oyly Carte touring season until the company disbanded at the outbreak of war in 1939.
During World War II, the Company played a smaller repertory. The scenery and costumes for Princess Ida, which were in storage, were destroyed by enemy action over the winter of 1940–41. A new production was mounted at the Savoy Theatre on 27 September 1954. A guest artist, opera singer Victoria Sladen, was engaged to sing the title role for the London season. For the 1954 revival, the Act II line "And the ni**ers they'll be bleaching by and by," was changed to "And they'll practice what they're preaching by and by," to accommodate the sensibilities of modern audiences, following similar changes in other Gilbert and Sullivan works.
After the 1954 revival, Princess Ida was an irregular presence in the D'Oyly Carte repertory. While it never went unperformed more than two or three seasons at a time, it was usually performed only in London and a few other major cities. The demands of the title role were considered unusual by Gilbert and Sullivan standards, and often the Company brought in guest artists to play it. The Company's final performances of the opera were in February–April 1977. The Company's reduced repertory in its final five seasons did not accommodate it.
Other professional companies have produced Princess Ida, including American Savoyards in the 1950s and 1960s, Light Opera of Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s, New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players since the 1980s, Ohio Light Opera (which recorded the piece in 2000), the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in 2003 and 2009, and others.
The following table shows the history of the D'Oyly Carte productions in Gilbert's lifetime:
|Theatre||Opening Date||Closing Date||Perfs.||Details|
|Savoy Theatre||January 5, 1884||August 15, 1884||246||First run|
|September 15, 1884||October 9, 1884|
|Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York||February 11, 1884||March 22, 1884||48||Authorised American productions|
|Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York||November 22, 1887||3 wks|
The following tables show the casts of the principal original productions and D'Oyly Carte Opera Company touring repertory at various times through to the company's 1982 closure.
|King Hildebrand||Rutland Barrington||Sgr Brocolini||Sgr Brocolini||Fred Billington||Leo Sheffield|
|Hilarion||Henry Bracy||Wallace Macreery||Courtice Pounds||Henry Herbert||Arthur Lucas|
|Cyril||Durward Lely||W. S. Rising||Phil Branson||Strafford Moss||Derek Oldham|
|Florian||Charles Ryley||Charles F. Lang||Stuart Harold||Leicester Tunks||Sydney Granville|
|King Gama||George Grossmith||J. H. Ryley||J. W. Herbert||Henry Lytton||Henry Lytton|
|Arac||Richard Temple||W. Ainsley Scott||Joseph Fay||Sydney Granville||Frederick Hobbs|
|Guron||Warwick Gray||James Early||N. S. Burnham||Fred Hewett||Joe Ruff|
|Scynthius||William Lugg||E. J. Cloney||L. W. Raymond||George Sinclair||George Sinclair|
|Princess Ida||Leonora Braham||Cora S. Tanner||Geraldine Ulmar||Marjorie Stone||Sylvia Cecil|
|Lady Blanche||Rosina Brandram||Genevieve Reynolds||Alice Carle||Bertha Lewis||Bertha Lewis|
|Lady Psyche||Kate Chard||Florence Bemister||Helen Lamont||Mabel Graham||Gladys Sinclair|
|Melissa||Jessie Bond||Hattie Delaro||Agnes Stone||Beatrice Boarer||Nellie Briercliffe|
|Sacharissa||Sybil Grey||Eva Barrington||Edith Jenesse||Myfanwy Newell||Nancy Ray|
|Chloe||Miss Heathcote||Eily Coghlan||Miss Branson||Anna Bethell||Winifred Downing|
|Ada||Miss Twyman||Clara Primrose||Miss McCann||Ethel Gledhill||Nell Raymond|
|King Hildebrand||Joseph Griffin||Sydney Granville||Fisher Morgan||Kenneth Sandford||Kenneth Sandford|
|Hilarion||Derek Oldham||John Dudley||Thomas Round||Philip Potter||Colin Wright|
|Cyril||Charles Goulding||John Dean||Leonard Osborn||David Palmer||Ralph Mason|
|Florian||Leslie Rands||Leslie Rands||Jeffrey Skitch||Alan Styler||Thomas Lawlor|
|King Gama||Henry Lytton||Martyn Green||Peter Pratt||John Reed||John Reed|
|Arac||Darrell Fancourt||Darrell Fancourt||Donald Adams||Donald Adams||John Ayldon|
|Guron||Richard Walker||Richard Walker||John Banks||Anthony Raffell||Michael Rayner|
|Scynthius||L. Radley Flynn||L. Radley Flynn||Trevor Hills||George Cook||Jon Ellison|
|Princess Ida||Winifred Lawson||Helen Roberts||Victoria Sladen||Ann Hood||Valerie Masterson|
|Lady Blanche||Bertha Lewis||Evelyn Gardiner||Ann Drummond-Grant||Christene Palmer||Lyndsie Holland|
|Lady Psyche||Sybil Gordon||Margery Abbott||Muriel Harding||Valerie Masterson||Julia Goss|
|Melissa||Nellie Briercliffe||Marjorie Eyre||Beryl Dixon||Pauline Wales||Pauline Wales|
|Sacharissa||Nancy Ray||Maysie Dean||Cynthia Morey||Anne Sessions||Anne Egglestone|
|Chloe||Beatrice Elburn||Ivy Sanders||Margaret Dobson||Jennifer Marks||Marjorie Williams|
|Ada||Nancy Hughes||Marjorie Flinn||Maureen Melvin||Elizabeth Mynett||Rosalind Griffiths|
Princess Ida has received fewer professional recordings than most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company recorded the piece four times, in 1924, 1932, 1955 and 1965, but the later two recordings have not been as well received as the earlier two. The BBC broadcast the piece in 1966 and 1989, but the recordings are unavailable. The 1982 Brent Walker Productions video is considered to be one of the weakest of the series. Ohio Light Opera recorded the opera in 2000.
|Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant, is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Savoy Theatre on January 5, 1884, for a run of 246 performances. By Savoy Opera standards, it was not considered a success (a particularly hot summer in London did not help ticket sales), and it was not revived in London until 1919. This was the eighth collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan.— Excerpted from Princess Ida on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.|
Princess Ida: or
First produced at the Savoy Theatre, on January 5, 1884
CHORUS AND SOLO – FLORIAN
CHORUS. Search throughout the panorama For a sign of royal Gama, Who to-day should cross the water With his fascinating daughter – Ida is her name.
Some misfortune evidently Has detained them – consequently Search throughout the panorama For the daughter of King Gama, Prince Hilarion's flame! Prince Hilarion's flame!
FLORIAN. Will Prince Hilarion's hopes be sadly blighted? CHORUS. Who can tell? Who can tell? FLORIAN. Will Ida break the vows that she has plighted? CHORUS. Who can tell? Who can tell? FLORIAN. Will she back out, and say she did not mean them? CHORUS. Who can tell? FLORIAN. If so, there'll be the deuce to pay between them!
CHORUS. No, no – we'll not despair, we'll not despair, For Gama would not dare To make a deadly foe Of Hildebrand, and so, Search through the panorama For a sign of royal Gama, Who today should cross the water With his fascinating daughter – Ida, Ida is her name.
Enter King Hildebrand with Cyril.
HILDEBRAND. See you no sign of Gama?
FLORIAN. None, my liege!
RECITATIVE – HILDEBRAND
It's very odd indeed. If Gama fail To put in an appearance at our Court Before the sun has set in yonder west, And fail to bring the Princess Ida here To whom our son Hilarion was betrothed At the extremely early age of one, There's war between King Gama and ourselves! (Aside to Cyril.) Oh, Cyril, how I dread this interview! It's twenty years since he and I have met. He was a twisted monster – all awry – As though Dame Nature, angry with her work, Had crumpled it in fitful petulance!
CYRIL. But, sir, a twisted and ungainly trunk Often bears goodly fruit. Perhaps he was A kind, well-spoken gentleman?
HILDEBRAND. Oh, no! For, adder-like, his sting lay in his tongue. His "sting" is present, though his "stung" is past.
FLORIAN. (looking through glass) But stay, my liege; o'er yonder mountain's brow Comes a small body, bearing Gama's arms; And now I look more closely at it, sir, I see attached to it King Gama's legs; From which I gather this corollary That that small body must be Gama's own!
HILDEBRAND. Ha! Is the Princess with him?
FLORIAN. Well, my liege, Unless her highness is full six feet high, And wears mustachios too – and smokes cigars – And rides en cavalier in coat of steel – I do not think she is.
HILDEBRAND. One never knows. She's a strange girl, I've heard, and does odd things! Come, bustle there! For Gama place the richest robes we own – For Gama place the coarsest prison dress — For Gama let our best spare bed be aired – For Gama let our deepest dungeon yawn — For Gama lay the costliest banquet out – For Gama place cold water and dry bread! For as King Gama brings the Princess here, Or brings her not, so shall King Gama have Much more than everything – much less than nothing!
SONG – HILDEBRAND and CHORUS
HILDEBRAND. Now hearken to my strict command On every hand, on every hand – CHORUS. To your command, On every hand, We dutifully bow.
HILDEBRAND. If Gama bring the Princess here, Give him good cheer, give him good cheer. CHORUS. If she come here We'll give him a cheer, And we will show you how. Hip, hip, hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! We'll shout and sing Long live the King, And his daughter, too, I trow! Then shout ha! ha! hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hip, hip, hurrah! For the fair Princess and her good papa, Hurrah, hurrah!
HILDEBRAND. But if he fail to keep his troth, Upon our oath, we'll trounce them both! CHORUS. He'll trounce them both, Upon his oath, As sure as quarter-day!
HILDEBRAND. We'll shut him up in a dungeon cell, And toll his knell on a funeral bell. CHORUS. From his dungeon cell, His funeral knell Shall strike him with dismay! Hip, hip, hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! As up we string The faithless King, In the old familiar way We'll shout ha! ha! hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hip, hip, hurrah! As we make an end of her false papa, Hurrah, hurrah!
RECITATIVE – HILARION
To-day we meet, my baby bride and I – But ah, my hopes are balanced by my fears! What transmutations have been conjured by The silent alchemy of twenty years?
BALLAD – HILARION
Ida was a twelve-month old, Twenty years ago! I was twice her age, I'm told, Twenty years ago! Husband twice as old as wife Argues ill for married life – Baleful prophecies were rife, Twenty years ago, Twenty years ago!
Still, I was a tiny prince Twenty years ago. She has gained upon me since Twenty years ago. Though she's twenty-one, it's true, I am barely twenty-two – False and foolish prophets you Twenty years ago, Twenty years ago!
HILARION. Well, father, is there news for me at last? HILDEBRAND. King Gama is in sight, but much I fear With no Princess! HILARION. Alas, my liege, I've heard That Princess Ida has forsworn the world And, with a band of women, shut herself Within a lonely country house, and there Devotes herself to stern philosophies!
HILDEBRAND. Then I should say the loss of such a wife Is one to which a reasonable man Would easily be reconciled. HILARION. Oh, no! Or I am not a reasonable man. She is my wife – has been for twenty years! (Holding glass) I think I see her now.
HILDEBRAND. Ha! Let me look!
HILARION. In my mind's eye, I mean – a blushing bride All bib and tucker, frill and furbelow! How exquisite she looked as she was borne, Recumbent, in her foster-mother's arms! How the bride wept – nor would be comforted Until the hireling mother-for-the-nonce Administered refreshment in the vestry. And I remember feeling much annoyed That she should weep at marrying with me. But then I thought, "These brides are all alike. You cry at marrying me? How much more cause You'd have to cry if it were broken off!" These were my thoughts; I kept them to myself, For at that age I had not learnt to speak.
Exeunt Hildebrand and Hilarion. Enter Courtiers.
From the distant panorama Come the sons of royal Gama. They are heralds evidently, And are sacred consequently, Sons of Gama, hail! oh, hail!
Enter Arac, Guron, and Scynthius.
SONG – ARAC, GURON, and SCYNTHIUS
ARAC. We are warriors three, Sons of Gama, Rex, Like most sons are we, Masculine in sex. ALL THREE. Yes, yes, yes, Masculine in sex.
ARAC. Politics we bar, They are not our bent; On the whole we are Not intelligent. ALL THREE. No, no, no, Not intelligent.
ARAC. But with doughty heart, And with trusty blade We can play our part – Fighting is our trade. ALL THREE. Yes, yes, yes, Fighting is our trade.
Bold and fierce and strong, ha! ha! For a war we burn, With its right or wrong, ha! ha! We have no concern. Order comes to fight, ha! ha! Order is obeyed, We are men of might, ha! ha! Fighting is our trade. Yes, yes, yes, Fighting is our trade, ha! ha!
CHORUS. They are men of might, etc.
Enter King Gama.
SONG – GAMA
If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am: I'm a genuine philanthropist – all other kinds are sham. Each little fault of temper and each social defect In my erring fellow creatures I endeavour to correct. To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes; And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise; I love my fellow creatures – I do all the good I can – Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man! And I can't think why!
To compliments inflated I've a withering reply; And vanity I always do my best to mortify; A charitable action I can skillfully dissect; And interested motives I'm delighted to detect; I know everybody's income and what everybody earns; And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns; But to benefit humanity however much I plan, Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man! And I can't think why!
I'm sure I'm no ascetic; I'm as pleasant as can be; You'll always find me ready with a crushing repartee, I've an irritating chuckle, I've a celebrated sneer, I've an entertaining snigger, I've a fascinating leer. To everybody's prejudice I know a thing or two; I can tell a woman's age in half a minute – and I do. But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can, Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man! And I can't think why!
CHORUS. He can't think why! He can't think why!
Enter Hildebrand, Hilarion, Cyril and Florian.
GAMA. So this is Castle Hildebrand? Well, well! Dame Rumour whispered that the place was grand; She told me that your taste was exquisite, Superb, unparalleled!
HILDEBRAND. (Gratified) Oh, really, King!
GAMA. But she's a liar! Why, how old you've grown! Is this Hilarion? Why, you've changed too – You were a singularly handsome child! (To Florian.) Are you a courtier? Come, then, ply your trade, Tell me some lies. How do you like your King? Vile rumour says he's all but imbecile. Now, that's not true? FLORIAN. My lord, we love our King. His wise remarks are valued by his court As precious stones. GAMA. And for the self-same cause. Like precious stones, his sensible remarks Derive their value from their scarcity! Come now, be honest, tell the truth for once! Tell it of me. Come, come, I'll harm you not. This leg is crooked – this foot is ill-designed – This shoulder wears a hump! Come, out with it! Look, here's my face! Now, am I not the worst Of Nature's blunders? CYRIL. Nature never errs. To those who know the workings of your mind, Your face and figure, sir, suggest a book Appropriately bound. GAMA. (Enraged) Why, harkye, sir, How dare you bandy words with me? CYRIL. No need To bandy aught that appertains to you.
GAMA. (Furiously) Do you permit this, King?
HILDEBRAND. We are in doubt Whether to treat you as an honoured guest Or as a traitor knave who plights his word And breaks it. GAMA. (Quickly) If the casting vote's with me, I give it for the former! HILDEBRAND. We shall see. By the terms of our contract, signed and sealed, You're bound to bring the Princess here to-day: Why is she not with you? GAMA. Answer me this: What think you of a wealthy purse-proud man, Who, when he calls upon a starving friend, Pulls out his gold and flourishes his notes, And flashes diamonds in the pauper's eyes? What name have you for such a one? HILDEBRAND. A snob. GAMA. Just so. The girl has beauty, virtue, wit, Grace, humour, wisdom, charity and pluck. Would it be kindly, think you, to parade These brilliant qualities before your eyes? Oh no, King Hildebrand, I am no snob! HILBEBRAND. (Furiously) Stop that tongue, Or you shall lose the monkey head that holds it! GAMA. Bravo! Your King deprives me of my head, That he and I may meet on equal terms!
HILDEBRAND. Where is she now? (Threatening.) GAMA. In Castle Adamant, One of my many country houses. There she rules a women's University, With full a hundred girls, who learn of her.
CYRIL. A hundred girls! A hundred ecstasies!
GAMA. But no mere girls, my good young gentleman; With all the college learning that you boast, The youngest there will prove a match for you.
CYRIL. With all my heart, if she's the prettiest! (To Florian.) Fancy, a hundred matches – all alight! — That's if I strike them as I hope to do!
GAMA. Despair your hope; their hearts are dead to men. He who desires to gain their favour must Be qualified to strike their teeming brains, And not their hearts. They're safety matches, sir, And they light only on the knowledge box – So you've no chance!
FLORIAN. And there are no males whatever in those walls?
GAMA. None, gentlemen, excepting letter mails – And they are driven (as males often are In other large communities) by women. Why, bless my heart, she's so particular She'll hardly suffer Dr. Watts's hymns – And all the animals she owns are "hers"! The ladies rise at cockcrow every morn – CYRIL. Ah, then they have male poultry? GAMA. Not at all; (Confidentially) The crowing's done by an accomplished hen!
DUET – GAMA and HILDEBRAND
GAMA. P'raps if you address the lady Most politely, most politely – Flatter and impress the lady, Most politely, most politely, – Humbly beg and humbly sue – She may deign to look on you, But your doing you must do Most politely, most politely, most politely!
ALL. Humbly beg and humbly sue, She may deign to look on you, But your doing you must do Most politely, most politely, most politely!
HILDEBRAND. Go you and inform the lady, Most politely, most politely, If she don't, we'll storm the lady Most politely, most politely!
(To Gama) You'll remain as hostage here; Should Hilarion disappear, We will hang you, never fear, Most politely, most politely, most politely!
ALL. (He'll/I'll/You'll) remain as hostage here. Should Hilarion disappear, (We/They) will hang (him/me/you), never fear, Most politely, most politely, most politely!
Gama, Arac, Guron and Scynthius are marched off in custody, Hildebrand following.
RECITATIVE – HILARION
Come, Cyril, Florian, our course is plain, To-morrow morn fair Ida we'll engage; But we will use no force her love to gain, Nature, nature has armed us for the war we wage!
TRIO – HILARION, CYRIL, and FLORIAN
HILARION. Expressive glances Shall be our lances, And pops of Sillery Our light artillery. We'll storm their bowers With scented showers Of fairest flowers That we can buy!
CHORUS. Oh, dainty triolet! Oh, fragrant violet! Oh, gentle heigho-let! (Or little sigh). On sweet urbanity, Through mere inanity, To touch their vanity We will rely!
CYRIL. When day is fading, With serenading And such frivolity We'll prove our quality. A sweet profusion Of soft allusion This bold intrusion Shall justify.
CHORUS. Oh, dainty triolet, etc.
FLORIAN. We'll charm their senses With verbal fences, With ballads amatory And declamatory. Little heeding Their pretty pleading, Our love exceeding We'll justify!
CHORUS. Oh, dainty triolet, etc.
Re-enter Gama, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius, heavily ironed, followed by Hildebrand.
GAMA. Must we, till then, in prison cell be thrust? HILDEBRAND. You must! GAMA. This seems unnecessarily severe! ARAC, GURON, and SCYN. Hear, hear!
TRIO – ARAC, GURON, and SCYNTHIUS
For a month to dwell In a dungeon cell: Growing thin and wizen In a solitary prison, Is a poor lookout For a soldier stout, Who is longing for the rattle Of a complicated battle – For the rum-tum-tum Of the military drum And the guns that go boom! boom!
ALL. The rum-tum-tum, etc.
HILDEBRAND. When Hilarion's bride Has at length complied With the just conditions Of our requisitions, You may go in haste And indulge your taste For the fascinating rattle Of a complicated battle – For the rum-tum-tum Of the military drum And the guns that go boom! boom!
ALL. The rum-tum-tum, etc.
But till that time (you'll/we'll) here remain, And bail (we/they) will not entertain, Should she (our/his) mandate disobey, (Your/Our) lives the penalty will pay!
Gama, Arac, Guron, and Synthius are marched off.
Scene: Gardens in Castle Adamant. A river runs across the back of the stage, crossed by a rustic bridge. Castle Adamant in the distance.
Girl Graduates discovered seated at the feet of Lady Psyche.
CHORUS AND SOLOS – PSYCHE, MELISSA, and SACHARISSA
CHORUS. Towards the empyrean heights Of ev'ry kind of lore, We've taken several easy flights, And mean to take some more. In trying to achieve success No envy racks our heart, And all the knowledge we possess, We mutually impart.
MELISSA. Pray, what authors should she read Who in Classics would succeed? PSYCHE. If you'd climb the Helicon, You should read Anacreon, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Likewise Aristophanes, And the works of Juvenal: These are worth attention, all; But, if you will be advised, You will get them Bowdlerized! CHORUS. Ah! we will get them Bowdlerized!
SACHARISSA. Pray you, tell us, if you can, What's the thing that's known as Man? PSYCHE. Man will swear and man will storm – Man is not at all good form – Man is of no kind of use – Man's a donkey – Man's a goose – Man is coarse and Man is plain – Man is more or less insane – Man's a ribald – Man's a rake – Man is Nature's sole mistake!
CHORUS. We'll a memorandum make – Man is Nature's sole mistake!
And thus to empyrean height Of ev'ry kind of lore, In search of wisdom's pure delight, Ambitiously we soar. In trying to achieve success No envy racks our heart, For all we know and all we guess We mutually impart! And all the knowledge we possess, We mutually impart!
Enter Lady Blanche. All stand up demurely.
BLANCHE. Attention, ladies, while I read to you The Princess Ida's list of punishments. The first is Sacharissa. She's expelled!
BLANCHE. Expelled, because although she knew No man of any kind may pass our walls, She dared to bring a set of chessmen here!
SACH. (Crying) I meant no harm; they're only men of wood!
BLANCHE. They're men with whom you give each other mate, And that's enough! The next is Chloe.
BLANCHE. Chloe will lose three terms, for yesterday, When looking through her drawing-book, I found A sketch of a perambulator!
ALL. (Horrified) Oh!
BLANCHE. Double perambulator...
ALL. Oh, oh!
BLANCHE. ...shameless girl! That's all at present. Now, attention, pray; Your Principal the Princess comes to give Her usual inaugural address To those young ladies who joined yesterday.
CHORUS OF GIRLS
Mighty maiden with a mission, Paragon of common sense, Running fount of erudition, Miracle of eloquence, We are blind and we would see; We are bound, and would be free; We are dumb, and we would talk; We are lame, and we would walk. (Enter the Princess.) Mighty maiden with a mission – Paragon of common sense; Running fount of erudition – Miracle of eloquence!
RECITATIVE & ARIA – PRINCESS
Minerva! Minerva! Oh, hear me: Oh, goddess wise That lovest light, Endow with sight Their unillumin'd eyes. At this my call, A fervent few Have come to woo The rays that from thee fall. Oh, goddess wise That lovest light, Let fervent words and fervent thoughts be mine, That I may lead them to thy sacred shrine!
Women of Adamant, fair Neophytes – Who thirst for such instruction as we give, Attend, while I unfold a parable. The elephant is mightier than Man, Yet Man subdues him. Why? The elephant Is elephantine everywhere but here, (tapping her forehead) And Man, whose brain is to the elephant's As Woman's brain to Man's – that's rule of three – Conquers the foolish giant of the woods, As Woman, in her turn, shall conquer Man. In Mathematics, Woman leads the way; The narrow-minded pedant still believes That two and two make four! Why, we can prove, We women – household drudges as we are – That two and two make five – or three – or seven; Or five and twenty, if the case demands! Diplomacy? The wiliest diplomat Is absolutely helpless in our hands. He wheedles monarchs – Woman wheedles him! Logic? Why, tyrant Man himself admits It's a waste of time to argue with a woman! Then we excel in social qualities: Though man professes that he holds our sex In utter scorn, I venture to believe He'd rather pass the day with one of you, Than with five hundred of his fellow-men! In all things we excel. Believing this, A hundred maidens here have sworn to place Their feet upon his neck. If we succeed, We'll treat him better than he treated us: But if we fail, why, then let hope fail too! Let no one care a penny how she looks – Let red be worn with yellow – blue with green – Crimson with scarlet – violet with blue! Let all your things misfit, and you yourselves At inconvenient moments come undone! Let hair-pins lose their virtue: let the hook Disdain the fascination of the eye – The bashful button modestly evade The soft embraces of the button-hole! Let old associations all dissolve, Let Swan secede from Edgar – Gask from Gask, Sewell from Cross – Lewis from Allenby! In other words, let Chaos come again! (Coming down) Who lectures in the Hall of Arts to-day?
BLANCHE. I, madam, on Abstract Philosophy. There I propose considering, at length, Three points – The Is, the Might Be, and the Must. Whether the Is, from being actual fact, Is more important than the vague Might Be, Or the Might Be, from taking wider scope, Is for that reason greater than the Is: And lastly, how the Is and Might Be stand Compared with the inevitable Must!
PRINCESS. The subject's deep – how do you treat it, pray?
BLANCHE. Madam, I take three possibilities, And strike a balance then between the three: As thus: The Princess Ida Is our head, The Lady Psyche Might Be – Lady Blanche, Neglected Blanche, inevitably Must. Given these three hypotheses – to find The actual betting against each of them!
PRINCESS. Your theme's ambitious: pray you bear in mind Who highest soar fall farthest. Fare you well, You and your pupils! Maidens, follow me.
Exeunt Princess and maidens. Manet Lady Blanche.
CHORUS. And thus to empyrean height Of ev'ry kind of lore, In search of wisdom's pure delight, Ambitiously we soar. In trying to achieve success No envy racks our heart, For all we know and all we guess We mutually impart! And all the knowledge we possess, We mutually impart!
BLANCHE. I should command here – I was born to rule, But do I rule? I don't. Why? I don't know. I shall some day. Not yet; I bide my time. I once was Some One – and the Was Will Be. The Present as we speak becomes the Past, The Past repeats itself, and so is Future! This sounds involved. It's not. It's right enough.
SONG – BLANCHE
Come, mighty Must! Inevitable Shall! In thee I trust; Time weaves my coronal! Go, mocking Is! Go, disappointing Was! That I am this Ye are the cursed cause! Yet humble second shall be first, I ween, And dead and buried be the curst Has Been!
Oh, weak Might Be! Oh, May, Might, Could, Would, Should! How pow'rless ye For evil or for good! In ev'ry sense Your moods I cheerless call. Whate'er your tense Ye are imperfect all. Ye have deceiv'd the trust I've shown in ye! Away! The mighty Must alone shall be!
Exit Lady Blanche.
Enter Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian, climbing over wall, and creeping cautiously among the trees and rocks at the back of the stage.
TRIO – CYRIL, HILARION, and FLORIAN
ALL. Gently, gently, Evidently We are safe so far, After scaling Fence and paling, Here, at last, we are!
FLORIAN. In this college, Useful knowledge Ev'rywhere one finds, And already, Growing steady, We've enlarged our minds!
CYRIL. We learnt that prickly cactus Has power to attract us When we fall. ALL. When we fall! HILARION. That nothing man unsettles Like a bed of stinging nettles, Short or tall. ALL. Short or tall! FLORIAN. That bull-dogs feed on throttles – That we don't like broken bottles On a wall. ALL. On a wall! HILARION. That spring-guns breathe defiance! And that burglary's a science After all! ALL. After all!
FLORIAN. A women's college! maddest folly going! What can girls learn within its walls worth knowing? I'll lay a crown (the Princess shall decide it) I'll teach them twice as much in half an hour outside it. HILARION. Hush, scoffer; ere you sound your puny thunder, List to their aims, and bow your head in wonder!
They intend to send a wire To the moon, CYR. & FLOR. To the moon, HILARION. And they'll set the Thames on fire Very soon! CYR. & FLOR. Very soon! HILARION. Then they'll learn to make silk purses With their rigs, CYR. & FLOR. With their rigs, HILARION. From the ears of Lady Circe's Piggy-wigs, CYR. & FLOR. Piggy-wigs, HILARION. And weasels at their slumbers They trepan, CYR. & FLOR. They trepan; HILARION. To get sunbeams from cucumbers They've a plan, CYR. & FLOR. They've a plan; HILARION. They've a firmly rooted notion They can cross the Polar Ocean, And they'll find Perpetual Motion If they can! ALL. If they can! These are the phenomena That ev'ry pretty domina Is hoping at her Universitee we shall see; These are the phenomena That ev'ry pretty domina Is hoping at her Universitee we shall see!
CYRIL. As for fashion, they forswear it, So they say, HIL. & FLOR. So they say, CYRIL. And the circle – they will square it Some fine day, HIL. & FLOR. Some fine day; CYRIL. Then the little pigs they're teaching For to fly, HIL. & FLOR. For to fly, CYRIL. And the niggers they'll be bleaching, By and by, HIL. & FLOR. By and by! CYRIL. Each newly joined aspirant To the clan, HIL. & FLOR. To the clan, CYRIL. Must repudiate the tyrant Known as Man, HIL. & FLOR. Known as Man; CYRIL. They'll mock at him and flout him, For they do not care about him And they're going to do without him If they can, ALL. If they can! These are the phenomena That ev'ry pretty domina Is hoping at her Universitee we shall see; These are the phenomena That ev'ry pretty domina Is hoping at her Universitee we shall see!
HILARION. So that's the Princess Ida's castle! Well, they must be lovely girls, indeed, if it requires such walls as those to keep intruders off!
CYRIL. To keep men off is only half their charge; and that the easier half. I much suspect the object of these walls is not so much to keep men off as keep the maidens in!
FLORIAN. But what are these? (Examining some Collegiate robes)
HILARION. (looking at them) Why, academic robes, Worn by the lady undergraduates When they matriculate. Let's try them on. (They do so.) Why, see – we're covered to the very toes. Three lovely lady undergraduates Who, weary of the world and all its wooing – (pose) FLORIAN. And penitent for deeds there's no undoing – (pose) CYRIL. Looked at askance by well-conducted maids – (pose) ALL. Seek sanctuary in these classic shades!
TRIO – CYRIL, HILARION, and FLORIAN
HILARION. I am a maiden, cold and stately, Heartless I, with face divine. What do I want with a heart, innately? Every heart I meet is mine! Every heart I meet is mine! ALL. Haughty, humble, coy, or free, Little care I what maid may be. So that a maid is fair to see, Ev'ry maid is the maid for me!
CYRIL. I am a maiden, frank and simple, Brimming with joyous roguery; Merriment lurks in ev'ry dimple Nobody breaks more hearts than I! Nobody breaks more hearts than I! ALL. Haughty, humble, etc.
FLORIAN. I am a maiden coyly blushing, Timid am I as a startled hind; Every suitor sets me flushing, Every suitor sets me flushing: I am the maid that wins mankind! ALL. Haughty, humble, etc.
Enter the Princess, reading. She does not see them.
FLORIAN. But who comes here? The Princess, as I live! What shall we do?
HILARION. (Aside) Why, we must brave it out! (Aloud) Madam, accept our humblest reverence.
They bow, then suddenly recollecting themselves, curtsey.
PRINCESS. (Surprised) We greet you, ladies. What would you with us?
HILARION. (Aside to Cyril)
What shall I say? (Aloud) We are three students, ma'am, Three well-born maids of liberal estate, Who wish to join this University.
Hilarion and Florian curtsey again. Cyril bows extravagantly, then, being recalled to himself by Florian, curtseys.
PRINCESS. If, as you say, you wish to join our ranks, And will subscribe to all our rules, 'tis well.
FLORIAN. To all your rules we cheerfully subscribe.
PRINCESS. You say you're noblewomen. Well, you'll find No sham degrees for noblewomen here. You'll find no sizars here, or servitors, Or other cruel distinctions, meant to draw A line 'twixt rich and poor; you'll find no tufts To mark nobility, except such tufts As indicate nobility of brain. As for your fellow-students, mark me well: There are a hundred maids within these walls, All good, all learned, and all beautiful: They are prepared to love you: will you swear To give the fullness of your love to them?
HILARION. Upon our words and honours, Ma'am, we will! PRINCESS. But we go further: Will you undertake That you will never marry any man? FLORIAN. Indeed we never will! PRINCESS. Consider well, You must prefer our maids to all mankind! HILARION. To all mankind we much prefer your maids! CYRIL. We should be dolts indeed, if we did not, seeing how fair — HILARION. (Aside to Cyril) Take care – that's rather strong!
PRINCESS. But have you left no lovers at your home Who may pursue you here? HILARION. No, madam, none. We're homely ladies, as no doubt you see, And we have never fished for lover's love. We smile at girls who deck themselves with gems, False hair and meretricious ornament, To chain the fleeting fancy of a man, But do not imitate them. What we have Of hair, is all our own. Our colour, too, Unladylike, but not unwomanly, Is Nature's handiwork, and man has learnt To reckon Nature an impertinence.
PRINCESS. Well, beauty counts for naught within these walls; If all you say is true, you'll pass with us A happy, happy time! CYRIL. If, as you say, A hundred lovely maidens wait within, To welcome us with smiles and open arms, I think there's very little doubt we shall!
QUARTET – PRINCESS, CYR., HIL., and FLOR.
PRINCESS. The world is but a broken toy, Its pleasure hollow – false its joy – Unreal its loveliest hue, Alas! Its pains alone are true, Alas! Its pains alone are true. HILARION. The world is ev'rything you say, The world we think has had its day. Its merriment is slow. Alas! We've tried it, and we know, Alas! We've tried it and we know. ALL. Unreal its loveliest hue, Its pains alone are true, PRINCESS. Alas! ALL. The world is but a broken toy, etc.
Exit Princess. The three Gentlemen watch her off. Lady Psyche enters, and regards them with amazement.
HILARION. I'faith, the plunge is taken, gentlemen! For, willy-nilly, we are maidens now, And maids against our will we must remain. (All laugh heartily.)
PSYCHE. (Aside) These ladies are unseemly in their mirth.
The gentlemen see her, and, in confusion, resume their modest demeanour.
FLORIAN. (Aside) Here's a catastrophe, Hilarion! This is my sister! She'll remember me, Though years have passed since she and I have met!
HILARION. (Aside to Florian) Then make a virtue of necessity, And trust our secret to her gentle care.
FLORIAN. (To Psyche, who has watched Cyril in amazement) Psyche! Why, don't you know me? Florian!
PSYCHE. (Amazed) Why, Florian!
FLORIAN. My sister! (Embraces her)
PSYCHE. Oh, my dear! What are you doing here – and who are these?
HILARION. I am that Prince Hilarion to whom Your Princess is betrothed. I come to claim Her plighted love. Your brother Florian And Cyril came to see me safely through.
PSYCHE. The Prince Hilarion? Cyril too? How strange! My earliest playfellows!
HILARION. Why, let me look! Are you that learned little Psyche who At school alarmed her mates because she called A buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus?
CYRIL. Are you indeed that Lady Psyche, who At children's parties, drove the conjuror wild, Explaining all his tricks before he did them?
HILARION. Are you that learned little Psyche, who At dinner parties, brought in to dessert, Would tackle visitors with "You don't know Who first determined longitude – I do – Hipparchus 'twas – B.C. one sixty-three!" Are you indeed that small phenomenon?
PSYCHE. That small phenomenon indeed am I! But gentlemen, 'tis death to enter here: We have all promised to renounce mankind! FLORIAN. Renounce mankind! On what ground do you base This senseless resolution? PSYCHE. Senseless? No. We are all taught, and, being taught, believe That Man, sprung from an Ape, is Ape at heart. CYRIL. That's rather strong. PSYCHE. The truth is always strong!
SONG – PSYCHE
A Lady fair, of lineage high, Was loved by an Ape, in the days gone by. The Maid was radiant as the sun, The Ape was a most unsightly one, So it would not do – His scheme fell through – For the Maid, when his love took formal shape, Express'd such terror At his monstrous error, That he stammer'd an apology and made his 'scape, The picture of a disconcerted Ape.
With a view to rise in the social scale, He shaved his bristles and he docked his tail, He grew mustachios, and he took his tub, And he paid a guinea to a toilet club – But it would not do – The scheme fell through – For the Maid was Beauty's fairest Queen, With golden tresses, Like a real princess's, While the Ape, despite his razor keen, Was the apiest Ape that ever was seen!
He bought white ties, and he bought dress suits, He crammed his feet into bright tight boots – And to start in life on a brand-new plan, He christen'd himself Darwinian Man! But it would not do, The scheme fell through – For the Maiden fair, whom the monkey craved, Was a radiant Being, With brain far-seeing – While Darwinian Man, though well behaved, At best is only a monkey shaved!
ALL. For the Maiden fair, etc.
During this, Melissa has entered unobserved; she looks on in amazement.
MELISSA. (Coming down) Oh, Lady Psyche!
PSYCHE. (Terrified) What! You heard us then? Oh, all is lost!
MELISSA. Not so! I'll breathe no word! (Advancing in astonishment to Florian.)
How marvelously strange! and are you then Indeed young men?
FLORIAN. Well, yes, just now we are – But hope by dint of study to become, In course of time, young women.
MELISSA. (Eagerly) No, no, no – Oh, don't do that! Is this indeed a man? I've often heard of them, but, till to-day, Never set eyes on one. They told me men Were hideous, idiotic, and deformed! They are quite as beautiful as women are! As beautiful? They're infinitely more so! Their cheeks have not that pulpy softness Which one gets so weary of in womankind: Their features are more marked – and – oh, their chins! (Feeling Florian's chin) How curious!
FLORIAN. I fear it's rather rough.
MELISSA. (Eagerly) Oh, don't apologize – I like it so!
PSYCHE. The woman of the wisest wit May sometimes be mistaken, O! In Ida's views, I must admit, My faith is somewhat shaken, O!
CYRIL. On every other point than this Her learning is untainted, O! But Man's a theme with which she is Entirely unacquainted, O! –Acquainted, O! –Acquainted, O! Entirely unacquainted, O!
ALL. Then jump for joy and gaily bound, The truth is found – the truth is found! Set bells a-ringing through the air – Ring here and there and ev'rywhere – MEN. And echo forth the joyous sound, ALL. The truth is found – the truth is found!
MELISSA. My natural instinct teaches me (And instinct is important, O!) You're ev'rything you ought to be, And nothing that you oughtn't, O!
HILARION. That fact was seen at once by you In casual conversation, O! Which is most creditable to Your powers of observation, O! –Servation, O! –Servation, O! Your powers of observation, O!
ALL. Then jump for joy, etc.
Exeunt Psyche, Hilarion, Cyril and Florian. Melissa going. Enter Lady Blanche.
MELISSA. (Returning) Mother!
BLANCHE. Here – a word with you. Those are the three new students?
MELISSA. (Confused) Yes, they are. They're charming girls.
BLANCHE. Particularly so. So graceful, and so very womanly! So skilled in all a girl's accomplishments!
MELISSA. (Confused) Yes – very skilled.
BLANCHE. They sing so nicely too!
MELISSA. They do sing nicely!
BLANCHE. Humph! It's very odd. Two are tenors, one is a baritone!
MELISSA. (Much agitated) They've all got colds!
BLANCHE. Colds! Bah! D'ye think I'm blind? These "girls" are men disguised!
MELISSA. Oh no – indeed! You wrong these gentlemen— I mean – why, see, here is an etui dropped by one of them. (Picking up an etui) Containing scissors, needles, and –
BLANCHE. (Opening it) Cigars! Why, these are men! And you knew this, you minx!
MELISSA. Oh, spare them – they are gentlemen indeed! The Prince Hilarion (married years ago To Princess Ida) with two trusted friends! Consider, mother, he's her husband now, And has been, twenty years! Consider, too, You're only second here – you should be first. Assist the Prince's plan, and when he gains The Princess Ida, why, you will be first. You will design the fashions – think of that – And always serve out all the punishments! The scheme is harmless, mother – wink at it!
BLANCHE. (Aside) The prospect's tempting! Well, well, well, I'll try – Though I've not winked at anything for years! 'Tis but one step towards my destiny – The mighty Must! the inevitable Shall!
DUET – MELISSA and BLANCHE
MELISSA. Now wouldn't you like to rule the roast And guide this University? BLANCHE. I must agree, 'Twould pleasant be, (Sing hey, a proper pride!) MELISSA. And wouldn't you like to clear the coast Of malice and perversity? BLANCHE. Without a doubt, I'll bundle 'em out, (Sing hey, when I preside!)
BOTH. Sing hey! Sing hoity toity! Sorry for some! Sing marry, come up, and (my/her) day will come! Sing, Proper Pride Is the horse to ride, And Happy-go-lucky, my lady, O!
BLANCHE. For years I've writhed beneath her sneers, Although a born Plantagenet! MELISSA. You're much too meek, Or you would speak (Sing hey, I'll say no more!) BLANCHE. Her elder I, by several years, Although you'd ne'er imagine it. MELISSA. Sing, so I've heard But never a word Have I e'er believed before!
BOTH. Sing hey! Sing hoity toity! Sorry for some! Sing marry, come up, and (my/her) day will come! Sing, she shall learn That a worm will turn. Sing Happy-go-lucky, my lady, O!
Exit Lady Blanche.
MELISSA. Saved for a time, at least!
Enter Florian, on tiptoe.
FLORIAN. (Whispering) Melissa – come!
Melissa: Oh, sir! you must away from this at once –
My mother guessed your sex! It was my fault – I blushed and stammered so that she exclaimed, "Can these be men?" Then, seeing this, "Why these –" "Are men", she would have added, but "are men" Stuck in her throat! She keeps your secret, sir, For reasons of her own – but fly from this And take me with you – that is – no – not that!
FLORIAN. I'll go, but not without you! (Bell) Why, what's that?
MELISSA. The luncheon bell.
FLORIAN. I'll wait for luncheon then!
Enter Hilarion with Princess, Cyril with Psyche, Lady Blanche, and ladies. Also "Daughters of the Plough" bearing luncheon.
CHORUS. Merrily ring the luncheon bell! Merrily ring the luncheon bell! Here in meadow of asphodel, Feast we body and mind as well, Merrily ring the luncheon bell! BLANCHE. Hunger, I beg to state, Is highly indelicate. This is a fact profoundly true, So learn your appetites to subdue. ALL. Yes, yes, We'll learn our appetites to subdue!
CYRIL. Madam, your words so wise, Nobody should despise, Curs'd with appetite keen I am And I'll subdue it – And I'll subdue it – I'll subdue it with cold roast lamb! ALL. Yes – yes – We'll subdue it with cold roast lamb! Merrily ring the luncheon bell!
PRINCESS. You say you know the court of Hildebrand? There is a Prince there – I forget his name —
PRINCESS. Exactly – is he well?
HILARION. If it be well to droop and pine and mope, To sigh "Oh, Ida! Ida!" all day long, "Ida! my love! my life! Oh, come to me!" If it be well, I say, to do all this, Then Prince Hilarion is very well.
PRINCESS. He breathes our name? Well, it's a common one! And is the booby comely?
HILARION. Pretty well. I've heard it said that if I dressed myself In Prince Hilarion's clothes (supposing this Consisted with my maiden modesty), I might be taken for Hilarion's self. But what is this to you or me, who think Of all mankind with undisguised contempt?
PRINCESS. Contempt? Why, damsel, when I think of man, Contempt is not the word.
CYRIL. (Getting tipsy) I'm sure of that, Or if it is, it surely should not be!
HILARION. (Aside to Cyril) Be quiet, idiot, or they'll find us out.
CYRIL. The Prince Hilarion's a goodly lad!
PRINCESS. You know him, then?
CYRIL. (Tipsily) I rather think I do! We are inseparables!
PRINCESS. Why, what's this? You love him then?
CYRIL. We do indeed – all three!
HILARION. Madam, she jests! (Aside to Cyril) Remember where you are!
CYRIL. Jests? Not at all! Why, bless my heart alive, You and Hilarion, when at the Court, Rode the same horse!
PRINCESS. (Horrified) Astride?
CYRIL. Of course! Why not? Wore the same clothes – and once or twice, I think, Got tipsy in the same good company!
PRINCESS. Well, these are nice young ladies, on my word!
CYRIL. (Tipsy) Don't you remember that old kissing-song He'd sing to blushing Mistress Lalage, The hostess of the Pigeons? Thus it ran:
During symphony Hilarion and Florian try to stop Cyril. He shakes them off angrily.
SONG – CYRIL
Would you know the kind of maid Sets my heart aflame-a? Eyes must be downcast and staid, Cheeks must flush for shame-a! She may neither dance nor sing, But, demure in everything, Hang her head in modest way, With pouting lips that seem to say, "Oh, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, Though I die of shame-a!" Please you, that's the kind of maid Sets my heart aflame-a!
When a maid is bold and gay, With a tongue goes clang-a, Flaunting it in brave array, Maiden may go hang-a! Sunflow'r gay and holly-hock Never shall my garden stock; Mine the blushing rose of May, With pouting lips that seem to say, "Oh, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, Though I die for shame-a!" Please you, that's the kind of maid Sets my heart aflame-a!
PRINCESS. Infamous creature, get you hence away!
Hilarion, who has been with difficulty restrained by Florian during this song, breaks from him and strikes Cyril furiously on the breast.
HILARION. Dog! There is something more to sing about!
CYRIL. (Sobered) Hilarion, are you mad?
PRINCESS. (Horrified) Hilarion? Help! Why, these are men! Lost! lost! betrayed, undone! (Running onto bridge)
Girls, get you hence! Man-monsters, if you dare Approach one step, I— Ah! (Loses her balance and falls into the stream)
PSYCHE. Oh! Save her, sir!
BLANCHE. It's useless, sir – you'll only catch your death!
Hilarion springs in.
SACHARISSA. He catches her!
MELISSA. And now he lets her go! Again she's in his grasp –
PSYCHE. And now she's not – He seizes her back hair!
BLANCHE. (Not looking) And it comes off!
PSYCHE. No, no! She's saved! – she's saved! – she's saved! – she's saved!
FINALE, ACT II
GIRLS. Oh joy! our chief is saved And by Hilarion's hand; The torrent fierce he braved, And brought her safe to land! For his intrusion we must own This doughty deed may well atone!
PRINCESS. Stand forth, ye three, Whoe'er ye be, And hearken to our stern decree!
CYR., FLOR., & HIL. Have mercy, O Lady; disregard your oaths! PRINCESS. I know not mercy, men in women's clothes! The man whose sacrilegious eyes Invade our strict seclusion, dies. Arrest these coarse intruding spies!
They are arrested by the "Daughters of the Plough". Cyril and Florian are bound.
SONG – HILARION
Whom thou has chain'd must wear his chain, Thou canst not set him free, He wrestles with his bonds in vain Who lives by loving thee! If heart of stone for heart of fire, Be all thou hast to give, If dead to my heart's desire, Why should I wish to live?
CHORUS. Have mercy, O lady!
No word of thine – no stern command Can teach my heart to rove, Then rather perish by thy hand, Than live without thy love! A loveless life apart from thee Were hopeless slavery – If kindly death will set me free, Why should I fear to die?
CHORUS. Have mercy!
He is bound by two of the attendants. The three gentlemen are marched off.
MELISSA. Madam, without the castle walls An armed band Demand admittance to our halls For Hildebrand! ALL. Oh, horror!
PRINCESS. Deny them! We will defy them! ALL. Too late – too late! The castle gate Is battered by them!
The gate yields. Soldiers rush in. Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are with them, but with their hands handcuffed.
MEN. Walls and fences scaling, Promptly we appear; Walls are unavailing, We have enter'd here. Female exaceration. Stifle if you're wise. Stop your lamentation, Dry your pretty, pretty eyes!
GIRLS. Rend the air with wailing. Shed the shameful tear! Man has enter'd here. Walls are unavailing.
PRINCESS. Audacious tyrant, do you dare To Wiktionary:beard a maiden in her lair?
HILDEBRAND. Since you inquire, We've no desire To beard a maiden here, or anywhere!
SOLDIERS. No, no. We've no desire To beard a maiden here or anywhere!
SOLO – HILDEBRAND
Some years ago, No doubt you know (And if you don't I'll tell you so), You gave your troth Upon your oath To Hilarion my son. A vow you make You must not break, (If you think you may, it's a great mistake), For a bride's a bride Though the knot were tied At the early age of one! And I'm a peppery kind of King, Whose indisposed for parleying To fit the wit of a bit of chit, And that's the long and the short of it! SOLDIERS. For he's a peppery, etc. HILDEBRAND. If you decide To pocket your pride And let Hilarion claim his bride, Why, well and good, It's understood We'll let bygones go by – But if you choose To sulk in the blues I'll make the whole of you shake in your shoes. I'll storm your walls, And level your halls, In the winking of an eye! For I'm a peppery potentate, Who's little inclined his claim to bate, To fit the wit of a bit of a chit, And that's the long and the short of it! SOLDIERS. For he's a peppery, etc.
TRIO – ARAC, GURON, and SCYNTHIUS
We may remark, though nothing can Dismay us, That if you thwart this gentleman, He'll slay us. We don't fear death, of course – we're taught To shame it; But still upon the whole we thought We'd name it. (To each other) Yes! Yes! Yes! Better p'raps to name it.
Our interests we would not press With chatter, Three hulking brothers more or less Don't matter; If you'd pooh-pooh this monarch's plan Pooh-pooh it, But when he says he'll hang a man, He'll do it. (To each other) Yes! Yes! Yes! Devil doubt he'll do it.
PRINCESS. Be reassured, nor fear his anger blind, His menaces are idle as the wind. He dares not kill you – vengeance lurks behind! BROTHERS. We rather think he dares, but never mind! HILDEBRAND. I rather think I dare, but never, never mind! Enough of parley as a special boon. We give you till tomorrow afternoon; Release Hilarion, then, and be his bride Or you'll incur the guilt of fratricide!
PRINCESS. To yield at once to such a foe With shame we're rife; So quick! away with him, although He saved my life! That he is fair, and strong, and tall Is very evident to all, Yet I will die, before I call myself his wife! OTHERS. Oh, yield at once, 'twere better so, Than risk a strife! And let the Prince Hilarion go; He saved thy life! PRINCESS. OTHERS. That he is fair and strong and tall Hilarion's fair and strong and tall; Is very evident to all; A worse misfortune might befall. Yet I will die before I call It's not so dreadful after all Myself his wife! To be his wife!
PRINCESS. Though I am but a girl, Defiance thus I hurl: Our banners all On outer wall We fearlessly unfurl!
The Princess stands, surrounded by girls kneeling. Hildebrand and soldiers stand on built rocks at back and sides of stage. Picture.
Scene: Outer Walls and Courtyard of Castle Adamant. Melissa, Sacharissa, and ladies discovered, armed with battleaxes.
CHORUS – GIRLS
Death to the invader! Strike a deadly blow, As an old Crusader Struck his Paynim foe! Let our martial thunder Fill his soul with wonder, Tear his ranks asunder, Lay the tyrant low! Death to the invader! Strike a deadly blow, As an old Crusader Struck his Paynim foe!
MELISSA. Thus our courage, all untarnish'd, We're instructed to display; But to tell the truth unvarnish'd, We are more inclined to say, "Please you, do not hurt us," ALL. "Do not hurt us, if it please you!" MELISSA. "Please you let us be." ALL. "Let us be – let us be!" MELISSA. "Soldiers disconcert us." ALL. "Disconcert us, if it please you!" MELISSA. "Frighten'd maids are we!" ALL. "Maids are we, maids are we!"
MELISSA. But 'twould be an error To confess our terror, So in Ida's name, Boldly we exclaim: ALL. Death to the invader! Strike a deadly blow, As an old Crusader Struck his Paynim foe!
Flourish. Enter Princess, armed, attended by Blanche and Psyche.
PRINCESS. I like your spirit, girls! We have to meet Stern bearded warriors in fight to-day; Wear naught but what is necessary To preserve your dignity before their eyes, And give your limbs full play.
BLANCHE. One moment, ma'am, Here is a paradox we should not pass Without inquiry. We are prone to say "This thing is Needful – that, Superfluous" – Yet they invariably co-exist! We find the Needful comprehended in The circle of the grand Superfluous, Yet the Superfluous cannot be brought Unless you're amply furnished with the Needful. These singular considerations are —
PRINCESS. Superfluous, yet not Needful – so you see The terms may independently exist. (To Ladies) Women of Adamant, we have to show That women, educated to the task, Can meet Man, face to face, on his own ground, And beat him there. Now, let us set to work; Where is our lady surgeon? SACH. Madam, here! PRINCESS. We shall require your skill to heal the wounds Of those that fall. SACH. (Alarmed) What, heal the wounded? PRINCESS. Yes! SACH. And cut off real live legs and arms? PRINCESS. Of course! SACH. I wouldn't do it for a thousand pounds! PRINCESS. Why, how is this? Are you faint-hearted, girl? You've often cut them off in theory! SACH. In theory I'll cut them off again With pleasure, and as often as you like, But not in practice.
PRINCESS. Coward! Get you hence; I've craft enough for that, and courage too – I'll do your work! My fusiliers, advance! – Why, you are armed with axes! Gilded toys! Where are your rifles, pray?
CHLOE. Why, please you, ma'am, We left them in the armoury, for fear That in the heat and turmoil of the fight, They might go off!
PRINCESS. "They might!" Oh, craven souls! Go off yourselves! Thank heaven I have a heart That quails not at the thought of meeting men; I will discharge your rifles! Off with you!
PRINCESS. Where's my bandmistress? ADA. Please you, ma'am, the band Do not feel well, and can't come out today! PRINCESS. Why, this is flat rebellion! I've no time To talk to them just now. But, happily, I can play several instruments at once, And I will drown the shrieks of those that fall With trumpet music, such as soldiers love! How stand we with respect to gunpowder? My Lady Psyche – you who superintend Our lab'ratory – are you well prepared To blow these bearded rascals into shreds? PSYCHE. Why, madam – PRINCESS. Well? PSYCHE. Let us try gentler means. We can dispense with fulminating grains While we have eyes with which to flash our rage! We can dispense with villainous saltpetre While we have tongues with which to blow them up! We can dispense, in short, with all the arts That brutalize the practical polemist!
PRINCESS. (Contemptuously) I never knew a more dispensing chemist! Away, away – I'll meet these men alone, Since all my women have deserted me!
Exeunt all but Princess, singing refrain of "Please you, do not hurt us", pianissimo.
PRINCESS. So fail my cherished plans – so fails my faith – And with it hope, and all that comes of hope!
SONG – PRINCESS
I built upon a rock, But ere Destruction's hand Dealt equal lot To Court and cot, My rock had turn'd to sand! I leant upon an oak, But in the hour of need, Alack-a-day, My trusted stay Was but a bruisèd reed! A bruisèd reed! Ah, faithless rock, My simple faith to mock! Ah, trait'rous oak, Thy worthlessness to cloak!
I drew a sword of steel But when to home and hearth The battle's breath Bore fire and death, My sword was but a lath! I lit a beacon fire, But on a stormy day Of frost and rime, In wintertime, My fire had died away, Had died away! Ah, coward steel, That fear can un-anneal! False fire indeed, To fail me in my need, To fail me in my need!
Princess sinks upon a rock. Enter Chloe and all the Ladies.
CHLOE. Madam, your father and your brothers claim an audience!
PRINCESS. What do they do here?
CHLOE. They come to fight for you!
PRINCESS. Admit them!
BLANCHE. Infamous! One's brothers, ma'am, are men!
PRINCESS. So I have heard. But all my women seem to fail me when I need them most. In this emergency, Even one's brothers may be turned to use.
GAMA. (Entering, pale and unnerved) My daughter!
PRINCESS. Father! Thou art free!
GAMA. Aye, free! Free as a tethered ass! I come to thee With words from Hildebrand. Those duly given I must return to blank captivity. I'm free so far. PRINCESS. Your message. GAMA. Hildebrand Is loth to war with women. Pit my sons, My three brave sons, against these Wiktionary:popinjays, These tufted jack-a-dandy featherheads, And on the issue let thy hand depend!
PRINCESS. Insult on insult's head! Are we a stake For fighting men? What fiend possesses thee, That thou has come with offers such as these From such as he to such a one as I?
GAMA. I am possessed By the pale devil of a shaking heart! My stubborn will is bent. I dare not face That devilish monarch's black malignity! He tortures me with torments worse than death: I haven't anything to grumble at! He finds out what particular meats I love, And gives me them. The very choicest wines, The costliest robes – the richest rooms are mine. He suffers none to thwart my simplest plan, And gives strict orders none should contradict me! He's made my life a curse! (Weeps)
PRINCESS. My tortured father!
SONG – GAMA
Whene'er I poke Sarcastic joke Replete with malice spiteful, This people mild Politely smiled, And voted me delightful! Now, when a wight Sits up all night Ill-natured jokes devising, And all his wiles Are met with smiles It's hard, there's no disguising! Oh, don't the days seem lank and long When all goes right and nothing goes wrong, And isn't your life extremely flat With nothing whatever to grumble at! CHORUS. Oh, isn't your life extremely flat With nothing whatever to grumble at!
GAMA. When German bands From music stands Played Wagner imperfectly – I bade them go – They didn't say no, But off they went directly! The organ boys They stopped their noise, With readiness surprising, And grinning herds Of hurdy-gurds Retired apologising! Oh, don't the days seem lank and long, etc. CHORUS. Oh, isn't your life extremely flat, etc.
GAMA. I offered gold In sums untold To all who'd contradict me – I said I'd pay A pound a day To any one who kicked me – I've bribed with toys Great vulgar boys To utter something spiteful, But, bless you, no! They would be so Confoundedly politeful! In short, these aggravating lads, They tickle my tastes, they feed my fads, They give me this and they give me that, And I've nothing whatever to grumble at! CHORUS. Oh, isn't your life extremely flat With nothing whatever to grumble at!
Gama bursts into tears and falls sobbing on a seat.
PRINCESS. My poor old father! How he must have suffered! Well, well, I yield!
GAMA. (Hysterically) She yields! I'm saved, I'm saved! (Exit.)
PRINCESS. Open the gates -- admit these warriors, Then get you all within the castle walls. (Exit.)
The gates are opened and the girls mount the battlements as the soldiers enter. Arac, Guron, and Scynthius also enter.
CHORUS – SOLDIERS
When anger spreads his wing, And all seems dark as night for it, There's nothing but to fight for it, But ere you pitch your ring, Select a pretty site for it, (This spot is suited quite for it) And then you gaily sing, And then you gaily sing:
"Oh, I love the jolly rattle Of an ordeal by battle; There's an end of tittle-tattle When your enemy is dead. It's an arrant molly-coddle Fears a crack upon his noddle And he's only fit to swaddle In a downy feather-bed!
GIRLS. SOLDIERS. For a fight's a kind of thing Oh, I love the jolly rattle of an ordeal by battle; That I love to look upon, There's an end of tittle-tattle when your enemy is dead. So let us sing It's an arrant molly-coddle "Long live the king Fears a crack upon his noddle, And his son Hilarion!" And he's only fit to swaddle in a downy feather-bed!
During this, Hilarion, Florian, and Cyril are brought out by the "Daughters of the Plough". They are still bound and wear the robes. Enter Gama.
GAMA. Hilarion! Cyril! Florian! dressed as women! Is this indeed Hilarion?
HILARION. Yes, it is!
GAMA. Why, you look handsome in your women's clothes! Stick to 'em! Men's attire becomes you not! (To Cyr. and Flor.) And you, young ladies, will you please to pray King Hildebrand to set me free again? Hang on his neck and gaze into his eyes – He never could resist a pretty face!
HILARION. You dog, you'll find, though I wear woman's garb, My sword is long and sharp! GAMA. Hush, pretty one! Here's a virago! Here's a termagant! If length and sharpness go for anything, You'll want no sword while you can wag your tongue!
CYRIL. What need to waste your words on such as he? He's old and crippled. GAMA. Aye, but I've three sons, Fine fellows, young and muscular, and brave, They're well worth talking to! Come, what d'ye say? ARAC. Aye, pretty ones, engage yourselves with us, If three rude warriors affright you not! HILARION. Old as you are, I'd wring your shrivelled neck If you were not the Princess Ida's father. GAMA. If I were not the Princess Ida's father, And so had not her brothers for my sons, No doubt you'd wring my neck – in safety too! Come, come, Hilarion, begin, begin! Give them no quarter – they will give you none. You've this advantage over warriors Who kill their country's enemies for pay: You know what you are fighting for – look there! (Pointing to ladies on the battlements.)
Exit Gama. Hilarion, Florian, and Cyril are led off.
SONG – ARAC, GURON, SCYNTHIUS, and CHORUS
ARAC. This helmet, I suppose, Was meant to ward off blows, It's very hot And weighs a lot, As many a guardsman knows – So off that helmet goes. OTHERS. Yes, yes, yes, So off that helmet goes! (Giving their helmets to attendants)
ARAC. This tight-fitting cuirass Is but a useless mass, It's made of steel, And weighs a deal, This tight-fitting cuirass Is but a useless mass – A man is but an ass Who fights in a cuirass, So off goes that cuirass. OTHERS. Yes, yes, yes, So off goes that cuirass! (Removing cuirasses)
ARAC. These brassets, truth to tell, May look uncommon well, But in a fight They're much too tight, They're like a lobster shell. OTHERS. Yes, yes, yes, They're like a lobster shell! (Removing their brassets)
ARAC. These things I treat the same (indicating leg pieces) (I quite forget their name.) They turn one's legs To cribbage pegs – Their aid I thus disclaim, Though I forget their name, Their aid I thus disclaim! OTHERS. Yes, yes, yes, their aid (we/they) thus disclaim!
They remove their leg pieces and wear close-fitting shape suits.
Enter Hilarion, Florian, and Cyril.
Desperate fight between the three Princes and the three Knights, during which the Ladies on the battlements and the Soldiers on the stage sing the following chorus:
CHORUS DURING THE FIGHT
This is our duty plain towards Our Princess all immaculate, We ought to bless her brothers' swords, And piously ejaculate: Oh, Hungary! Oh, Hungary! Oh, doughty sons of Hungary! May all success Attend and bless Your warlike ironmongery! Hilarion! Hilarion! Hilarion!
By this time, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are on the ground, wounded; Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian stand over them.
PRINCESS. (Entering through gate and followed by Ladies, Hildebrand, and Gama.) Hold! stay your hands! – we yield ourselves to you! Ladies, my brothers all lie bleeding there! Bind up their wounds – but look the other way. (Coming down) Is this the end? (Bitterly to Lady Blanche) How say you, Lady Blanche – Can I with dignity my post resign? And if I do, will you then take my place? BLANCHE: To answer this, it's meet that we consult The great Potential Mysteries; I mean The five Subjunctive Possibilities – The May, the Might, the Would, the Could, the Should. Can you resign? The Prince May claim you; if He Might, you Could – and if you Should, I Would!
PRINCES. I thought as much! Then to my fate I yield – So ends my cherished scheme! Oh, I had hoped To band all women with my maiden throng, And make them all abjure tyrannic Man!
HILDEBRAND. A noble aim!
PRINCESS. You ridicule it now; But if I carried out this glorious scheme, At my exalted name Posterity Would bow in gratitude! HILDEBRAND. But pray reflect – If you enlist all women in your cause, And make them all abjure tyrannic Man, The obvious question then arises: "How Is this Posterity to be provided?"
PRINCESS. I never thought of that! My Lady Blanche, How do you solve the riddle? BLANCHE. Don't ask me – Abstract Philosophy won't answer it. Take him – he is your Shall. Give in to Fate! PRINCESS. And you desert me. I alone am staunch!
HILARION. Madam, you placed your trust in Woman – well, Woman has failed you utterly – try Man, Give him one chance, it's only fair – besides, Women are far too precious, too divine, To try unproven theories upon. Experiments, the proverb says, are made On humble subjects – try our grosser clay, And mould it as you will!
CYRIL. Remember, too Dear Madam, if at any time you feel A-weary of the Prince, you can return To Castle Adamant, and rule your girls As heretofore, you know. PRINCESS. And shall I find The Lady Psyche here? PSYCHE. If Cyril, ma'am, Does not behave himself, I think you will. PRINCESS. And you, Melissa, shall I find you here? MELISSA. Madam, however Florian turns out, Unhesitatingly I answer, No!
GAMA. Consider this, my love: if your mama Had looked on matters from your point of view (I wish she had), why, where would you have been? BLANCHE. There's an unbounded field of speculation On which I could discourse for hours! PRINCESS. No doubt! We will not trouble you. Hilarion, I have been wrong – I see my error now. Take me, Hilarion – "We will walk this world Yoked in all exercise of noble end! And so through those dark gates across the wild That no one knows!" Indeed, I love thee – Come!
PRINCESS. With joy abiding, Together gliding Through life's variety, In sweet society, And thus enthroning The love I'm owning, On this atoning I will rely!
CHORUS. It were profanity For poor humanity To treat as vanity The sway of Love. In no locality Or principality Is our mortality Its sway above!
HILARION. When day is fading, With serenading And such frivolity Of tender quality – With scented showers Of fairest flowers, The happy hours Will gaily fly!
CHORUS. It were profanity, etc.
ALL. In no locality, etc.
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the United States because it was published before
January 1, 1923.
The author died in 1911, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.