The Sorcerer: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Sorcerer.
The Sorcerer - from 1884 programme

The Sorcerer is a two-act comic opera, with a libretto by W. S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan. It was Gilbert and Sullivan's third opera together.

The Sorcerer opened on 17 November 1877 at the Opera Comique in the Strand in London, where it ran for 178 performances. For the 1884 revival, Gilbert and Sullivan abridged the ending to Act I and provided a new opening to Act II, and it is in this form that the work is usually presented today.

The first American production was at the Broadway Theatre in New York on February 21, 1879, for a run of just 20 performances. There were later professional revivals in New York, none of them under D'Oyly Carte auspices, in 1879, 1882, and 1883.



In 1871, W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan had written Thespis, an extravaganza for the Gaiety Theatre's holiday season that did not lead immediately to any further collaboration. Three years later, in 1875, talent agent and producer Richard D'Oyly Carte was managing the Royalty Theatre, and he needed a short opera to be played as an afterpiece to Jacques Offenbach's La Périchole.[1] Carte was able to bring Gilbert and Sullivan together again to write the one-act piece, called Trial by Jury, which became a surprise hit.[2][3] The piece was witty, tuneful and very "English", in contrast to the bawdy burlesques and adaptations of French operettas that dominated the London musical stage at that time.[4] Trial by Jury proved even more popular than La Périchole,[5] becoming an unexpected hit, touring extensively[6] and enjoying revivals and a world tour.[7]

1878 programme cover

After the success of Trial by Jury, several producers attempted to reunite Gilbert and Sullivan, but difficulties arose. Plans for a collaboration for Carl Rosa in 1875 fell through because Gilbert was too busy with other projects,[8][9] and an attempted Christmas 1875 revival of Thespis by Richard D'Oyly Carte failed when the financiers backed out.[8][10] Gilbert and Sullivan continued their separate careers, though both continued writing light opera[11] Finally, in 1877, Carte organized a syndicate of four financiers and formed the Comedy Opera Company, capable of producing a full length work.[12] By July 1877, Gilbert and Sullivan were under contract to produce a two-act opera.[13] Gilbert expanded on his own short story that he had written the previous year, "An Elixir of Love,"[14] and also used ideas from his earlier Bab Ballads, creating a plot about a magic love potion that – as often occurs in opera – causes everyone to fall in love with the wrong partner.

Now backed by a company dedicated to their work, Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte were able to select their own cast, instead of using the players under contract to the theatre where the work was produced, as had been the case with their earlier works. They chose talented actors, most of whom were not well-known stars, and so did not command high fees, and whom they felt they could mould to their own style. Then, they tailored their work to the particular abilities of these performers.[15] Carte approached Mrs Howard Paul to play the role of Lady Sangazure in the new opera. Mr and Mrs. Howard Paul had operated a small touring company booked by Carte's agency for many years, but the couple had recently separated.[16] She conditioned her acceptance of the part on the casting of her 24-year-old protégé, Rutland Barrington. When Barrington auditioned before W. S. Gilbert, the young actor questioned his own suitability for comic opera, but Gilbert, who required that his actors play their sometimes-absurd lines in all earnestness, explained the casting choice: "He's a staid, solid swine, and that's what I want."[17] Barrington was given the role of Dr Daly, the vicar, which was his first starring role on the London stage.[18]

For the character role of Mrs. Partlet, they chose Harriett Everard, an actress who had worked with Gilbert before. Carte's agency supplied additional singers, including Alice May (Aline), Giulia Warwick (Constance), and Richard Temple (Sir Marmaduke).[19] Finally, in early November 1877, the last role, that of the title character, John Wellington Wells, was filled by comedian George Grossmith. Grossmith had appeared in charity performances of Trial by Jury, where both Sullivan and Gilbert had seen him[20] (indeed, Gilbert had directed one such performance, in which Grossmith played the judge),[21] and Gilbert had earlier commented favourably on his performance in Tom Robertson's Society at the Gallery of Illustration.[22] After singing for Sullivan, upon meeting Gilbert, Grossmith wondered aloud if the role shouldn't be played by "a fine man with a fine voice". Gilbert replied, "No, that is just what we don't want."[21][23]

The piece opened on 17 November 1877 at the Opera Comique, preceded by Dora's Dream, a curtain-raiser by Sullivan's assistant Alfred Cellier, with words by Arthur Cecil, a friend of both Gilbert's and Sullivan's.[24] Busy with last-minute cuts and changes the day before the show opened, Sullivan had no time to write an overture and used the "Graceful Dance" music from his incidental music to Henry VIII (play) as an overture. For the 1884 revival, an overture was added by Sullivan's assistant, Hamilton Clarke.[24] Gilbert's meticulous rehearsal of the cast was noticed and commented on favourably by the critics, and the opening-night audience was enthusiastic.[25] The Sorcerer ran for 178 performances, making a profit.[26] A touring company also began playing the opera in March 1878.[27] The success of The Sorcerer, although modest, encouraged Carte and the authors to continue their collaboration the following year with H.M.S. Pinafore, the work that established the Gilbert and Sullivan phenomenon that produced one hit after another throughout the 1880s – the series known as the Savoy Operas.

The Sorcerer was revived in 1884 and again in 1898. In the early years of the 20th century, however, it gradually fell out of favour. Between the mid-1930s and the early 1970s, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company did not perform it at all, and many amateur companies followed suit. A 1971 revival brought new life to the work, and it has now joined the regular rotation of most G&S performing groups. The Sorcerer draws on a theatrical tradition that, today, is less accessible to modern audiences than the more famous G&S works starting with Pinafore. It satirizes early Victorian customs and various theatrical conventions, and it does not include the broad political satire that would feature in many of Gilbert's later librettos.


Richard Temple with Mrs. Howard Paul,[28] 1877
Note: In the 1877 production, Constance was played by a soprano, Giulia Warwick. The role was lowered slightly in 1884 for mezzo-soprano Jessie Bond.


Act I

The villagers of Ploverleigh are preparing to celebrate the betrothal of Alexis Pointdextre, the son of the local baronet, and the blue-blooded Aline Sangazure ("Ring forth, ye bells"). Only a young village maiden named Constance Partlet seems unwilling to join in the happy mood, and we learn as she tells her mother that she is secretly in love with the local vicar, Dr. Daly ("When he is here, I sigh with pleasure"); and the cleric himself promptly soliloquises that he has been unlucky in love ("The air is charged with amatory numbers"). However, despite Mrs. Partlet's best attempts at matchmaking, the middle-aged Dr. Daly seems unable to conceive that a young girl like Constance would be interested in him.

Alexis and Aline arrive ("With heart and with voice"), and it soon becomes clear that his widower father Sir Marmaduke and her widowed mother Lady Sangazure are concealing long-held feelings for one another, which propriety however demands remain hidden ("Welcome joy, adieu to sadness"). The betrothal ceremony is carried out, and left alone together Alexis reveals to his fiancée his plans for practical implementation of his principle that love should unite all classes and ranks ("Love feeds on many kinds of food, I know"). He has invited a representative from a respectable London firm of sorcerers to Ploverleigh ("My name is John Wellington Wells"). Aline has misgivings about hiring a real sorcerer. Alexis instructs Wells to prepare a batch of love potion sufficient to affect the entire village, except that on married people, it will have no effect.

Incantation scene

Wells mixes the potion, assisted by sprites, fiends, imps, demons, ghosts and other fearsome magical beings in an incantation ("Sprites of earth and air"). The village gathers for the wedding feast ("Now to the Banquet we Press"), and the potion is added to a teapot. All of the villagers, save Alexis, Aline and Wells, drink it and, after experiencing some hallucinations ("Oh, marvellous illusion"), they fall unconscious.

Act II

At midnight that night ("'Tis twelve, I think"), the villagers awake and, under the influence of the potion, each falls in love with the first person of the opposite sex that they see ("Why, where be Oi"). All of the matches thus made are highly and comically unsuitable; Constance, for example, loves the ancient notary who performed the betrothal ("Dear friends, take pity on my lot"). However, Alexis is pleased with the results, and now asserts that he and Aline should drink the potion themselves to seal their own love. Aline is hurt by his lack of trust and refuses, offending him ("Thou hast the power thy vaunted love"). Alexis is distracted, however, by the revelation of his upper-class father having fallen for the lower-class Mrs Partlet, but he determines to make the best of this union ("I rejoice that it's decided").

Wells, meanwhile, is regretting the results that his magic has caused, and regrets them still more when the fearsome Lady Sangazure fixes on him as the object of her affections ("Oh, I have wrought much evil with my spells"). Aline decides to yield to Alexis' persuasion and drinks the potion without telling Alexis. Upon awaking, she inadvertently meets Dr. Daly first and falls in love with him ("Oh, joyous boon"). Alexis desperately appeals to Wells as to how the effects of the spell can be reversed. It turns out that this requires that either Alexis or Wells himself yield up his life to Ahrimanes. The people of Ploverleigh rally against the outsider from London and Wells, resignedly, bids farewell and is swallowed up by the underworld in a burst of flames ("Or he or I must die"). The spell broken, the villagers pair off according to their true feelings, and celebrate with another feast (reprise of "Now to the banquet we press").

Musical numbers

  • Overture (includes "With heart and with voice", "When he is here", "Dear friends, take pity on my lot", and "My name is John Wellington Wells")

Act I

Henry Lytton (J. W. Wells), Elsie Griffin (Aline) and Derek Oldham (Alexis)
  • 1. "Ring forth ye bells" (Double Chorus)
  • 2. "Constance, my daughter, why this strange depression?" (Mrs. Partlet and Constance)
  • 2a. "When he is here" (Constance)
  • 3. "The air is charged with amatory numbers" (Dr. Daly)
  • 3a. "Time was when Love and I were well acquainted" (Dr. Daly)
  • 4. "Sir Marmaduke, my dear young friend Alexis" (Sir Marmaduke, Dr. Daly, and Alexis)
  • 4a. (Dance)
  • 5. "With heart and with voice" (Chorus of Girls)
  • 6. "My kindly friends" (Aline)
  • 6a. "Happy young heart" (Aline)
  • 7. "My child, I join in these congratulations" (Lady Sangazure)
  • 8. "With heart and with voice" (Chorus of Men)
  • 9. "Welcome, joy!" (Lady Sangazure and Sir Marmaduke)
  • 10. "All is prepared" (Aline, Alexis, Notary, and Chorus)
  • 10a."With heart and with voice" (Double Chorus)
  • 11. "Love feeds on many kinds of food" (Alexis)
  • 12. "My name is John Wellington Wells" (Mr. Wells)
  • 13. "Sprites of earth and air" (Aline, Alexis, Mr. Wells, and Chorus)
  • 14. Act I Finale (Ensemble)
    • "Now to the banquet we press"
    • The Tea-Cup Brindisi ("Eat, drink and be gay")
    • "Oh love, true love"
    • "Oh marvellous illusion"[29]
    • 1877 version only: Tea-Cup Brindisi reprise.

Act II

  • 15. "Happy are we in our loving frivolity" (Chorus) – 1877 version
  • 15. "'Tis twelve, I think" and "Why, where be Oi?... If you'll marry me" (Aline, Alexis, Mr. Wells, and Chorus) – 1884 version
  • 16. "Dear friends, take pity on my lot" (Constance, Notary, Aline, Alexis, and Chorus)
  • 17. "Thou hast the pow'r thy vaunted love" (Alexis)
  • 18. "I rejoice that it's decided" (Aline, Mrs. Partlet, Alexis, Dr. Daly, and Sir Marmaduke)
  • 19. "Oh, I have wrought much evil with my spells" (Lady Sangazure and Mr. Wells)
  • 20. "Alexis! Doubt me not, my loved one" (Aline)
  • 21. "Oh, my voice is sad and low" (Dr. Daly)
  • 22. "Oh, joyous boon! oh, mad delight" (Aline, Alexis, Dr. Daly, and Chorus)
  • 23. "Prepare for sad surprises" (Alexis)
  • 24. Act II Finale: "Or he or I must die" (leading to a reprise of "Now to the banquet we press") (Ensemble)


Rutland Barrington as Dr. Daly

A ballad for Lady Sangazure, "In days gone by," originally came immediately after "My child, I join in these congratulations." It was deleted after opening night and the music is now lost, though the lyrics survive. The remaining recitative ends somewhat abruptly, without resolving to the tonic.

Alexis's Act II ballad ("Thou hast the power") was revised, with the refrain changed from common time to waltz time. Although performed on opening night, it was not included in the original vocal score. Available evidence suggests that the ballad was dropped from the opera, but later reinstated during the original run (Hulme 1984, p. 3).

For the 1884 revival, the opera underwent extensive revisions: The length of time between the acts was altered from half-an-hour to twelve hours, resulting in a different ending to Act I and a complete rewrite of the Act II opening. Whereas in 1877 the chorus succeeded in hiding the effects of the tea after "Oh marvellous illusion," and the finale worked its way back to the tea-cup brindisi, in the revised version they are unable to regain their senses, and the act ends with everyone falling over after "Oh marvellous illusion."

The original Act II started off with "Happy are we in our loving frivolity" – a pageant of mismatched couples taking place half-an-hour after the end of Act I. The revision changed the setting to nighttime, with a quiet trio for Alexis, Aline and John Wellington Wells whilst the villagers remain asleep, before they wake up with a rustic chorus in broad Cornish accents and pair up. There are also minor changes to the music leading into "Dear friends take pity on my lot," with the key of that piece lowered to accommodate the 1884 Constance.

These revisions were not, however, done very carefully. The Act I Finale still says "Their hearts will melt in half-an-hour / Then will be felt the potion's power." Similarly, Aline drinks the potion in Act II, but then falls in love with Dr. Daly immediately, instead of falling asleep for twelve hours as the revisions would require.

Originally, the final scene was to include an encounter with Ahrimanes (to be played by Mrs Paul), but the scene was cut.[30]


The Sorcerer was the first of Gilbert and Sullivan's full-length operas to be revived. Other than The Mikado, it also had a second London revival sooner than any of their other works, in 1898. In America, it was played as early as 1879 by the Adah Richmond Comedy Opera Troupe at Boston's Gaiety Theatre.[31] In Australia, its first authorised production opened on 22 May 1886 at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, produced by J. C. Williamson.

In the 20th century, The Sorcerer gradually went out of style. The D'Oyly Carte's principal repertory company dropped it in 1901, and it did not return until 1916, making its first professional London appearance in over twenty years in 1919. It made only intermittent appearances during the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1938 and 1939, it was performed only in the company's London seasons, and only for a handful of performances.

During the winter of 1941–42, the scenery and costumes for The Sorcerer and three other operas were destroyed in enemy action.[32] The opera was not revived professionally in the UK until March 29, 1970, although it was played by the American Savoyards in the U.S. in the 1960s. After 1970, it was included in the D'Oyly Carte repertory through the 1975 centenary season, then dropped for several years, then restored for the company's last several seasons before it closed in 1982.

The following table summarises the main London productions of The Sorcerer during Gilbert and Sullivan's lifetimes:

Theatre Opening Date Closing Date Perfs. Details
Opera Comique[33] November 17, 1877 May 24, 1878 178 Trial by Jury was added to the bill from March 23, 1878
Savoy Theatre[34] October 11, 1884 March 12, 1885 150 Revised version; played with Trial by Jury
Savoy Theatre[35] September 22, 1898 December 31, 1898 102 Played with Trial by Jury

Historical casting

The following tables show the casts[36] of the principal original productions and D'Oyly Carte Opera Company touring repertory at various times through to the company's 1982 closure:

Role Opera Comique, 1877[33]
Savoy Theatre, 1884[34]
Savoy Theatre, 1898[35]
Sir Marmaduke Richard Temple Richard Temple Jones Hewson
Alexis George Bentham Durward Lely Robert Evett
Dr. Daly Rutland Barrington Rutland Barrington Henry Lytton
Notary Fred Clifton William Lugg Leonard Russell
J. W. Wells George Grossmith George Grossmith Walter Passmore
Lady Sangazure Mrs. Howard Paul Rosina Brandram Rosina Brandram
Aline Alice May Leonora Braham Ruth Vincent
Mrs. Partlet Harriett Everard Ada Doree Ethel McAlpine
Constance Giulia Warwick Jessie Bond Emmie Owen
Oldest Inhabitant Frank Thornton1
Role D'Oyly Carte
Tour 1919[37]
D'Oyly Carte
Tour 1930[38]
D'Oyly Carte
Tour 1939[39]
D'Oyly Carte
Tour 1971
D'Oyly Carte
Tour 1982[40]
Sir Marmaduke Frederick Hobbs Darrell Fancourt Darrell Fancourt John Ayldon Clive Harre
Alexis Derek Oldham Charles Goulding John Dean Ralph Mason Meston Reid
Dr. Daly Leo Sheffield Leslie Rands Leslie Rands Kenneth Sandford Kenneth Sandford
Notary George Sinclair Joseph Griffin Richard Walker John Broad Bruce Graham
J. W. Wells Henry Lytton Henry Lytton Martyn Green John Reed James Conroy-Ward
Lady Sangazure Bertha Lewis Bertha Lewis Evelyn Gardiner Lyndsie Holland Patricia Leonard
Aline Elsie Griffin Winifred Lawson Margery Abbott Julia Goss Pamela Field
Mrs. Partlet Anna Bethell Anna Bethell Anna Bethell Peggy Ann Jones Beti Lloyd-Jones
Constance Catherine Ferguson Marjorie Eyre Marjorie Eyre Linda Anne Hutchison Lorraine Daniels

1This role is not credited in revivals, which used a revised libretto.


The Sorcerer has not been recorded as often as most of the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas, and the recordings have not been generally well received. The 1966 D'Oyly Carte Opera Company recording is considered the best of their efforts to record this opera. The 1982 Brent Walker video is considered to be one of the best of that series and is recommended.[41]

The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival offers various video recordings of the opera, including its 2005 professional G&S Opera Company video.[42]

Selected recordings
  • 1933 D'Oyly Carte – Conductor: Isidore Godfrey[43]
  • 1953 D'Oyly Carte – New Symphony Orchestra of London; Conductor: Isidore Godfrey[44]
  • 1966 D'Oyly Carte – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Conductor: Isidore Godfrey[45]
  • 1982 Brent Walker Productions – Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra; Conductor: Alexander Faris; Stage Director: Stephen Pimlott (video)[46]

The Sorcerer in popular culture

In an episode of Family Guy titled "Patriot Games," Peter goes to England to play for an American football team called the London Silly Nannies. The Silly Nannies practice by prancing around a maypole singing "If you'll marry me" from Act II.

A series of four Tom Holt books, ("The Portable Door", "In Your Dreams", "Earth, Air, Fire, and Custard" and "You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps"), are based around 'J.W. Wells & Co', a company of sorcerers well known for their love philtre. Charlotte Macleod's book The Plain Old Man describes an amateur production of "The Sorcerer". Isaac Asimov wrote a short-story parody entitled "The Up-To-Date Sorcerer" that was published in 1958.


  1. ^ Ainger, p. 108
  2. ^ Ainger, p. 109
  3. ^ Stedman, pp. 128–29
  4. ^ Stedman, pp. 129–30
  5. ^ The Times, 29 March 1875, quoted and discussed in Ainger, p. 109
  6. ^ Ainger, pp. 111; 117–18
  7. ^ Gänzl, pp. 89–90
  8. ^ a b Stedman, p. 132
  9. ^ Ainger, p. 112
  10. ^ Ainger, pp. 113–14
  11. ^ Ainger, p. 110
  12. ^ Ainger, p. 130
  13. ^ Ainger, p. 131
  14. ^ Ainger, p. 132
  15. ^ Jacobs, p. 111; Ainger, pp. 133-34
  16. ^ Mrs Paul, nee Isabella Featherstone (1833-1879) left her husband (Howard Paul, 1830-1905) around 1877, as he was having an affair with the actress-dancer Letty Lind, with whom he sired two illegitimate children. However, she continued performing under this name, often humorously impersonating the famous tenor Sims Reeves. See Barringon, p. 21
  17. ^ Ayre, p. 48
  18. ^ Stone, David. "Rutland Barrington" at the Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte website (G&S Archive), accessed March 9, 2008
  19. ^ Ainger, p. 134
  20. ^ Grossmith profile at the Memories of the D'Oyly Carte website, accessed March 9, 2008
  21. ^ a b Ainger, p. 138
  22. ^ Ainger, p. 136
  23. ^ Ayre, p. 137
  24. ^ a b Ainger, p. 140
  25. ^ Ainger, p. 141
  26. ^ Ainger, pp. 147–48
  27. ^ Ainger, p. 152. Rosina Brandram played Lady Sangazure and J. H. Ryley was Wells.
  28. ^ Mrs. Paul, née Isabella Featherstone (1833 - 1879) left her husband around this time, as he was having an affair with the actress-dancer Letty Lind, with whom he sired two illegitimate children. However, she continued to perform as Mrs. Howard Paul.
  29. ^ See Versions section.
  30. ^ Barrington, Rutland. Rutland Barrington, a Record of Thirty-five Years' Experience on the English Stage (1908) G. Richards, p. 24
  31. ^ Programme of March 13, 1879
  32. ^ Rollins and Witts, p. 165
  33. ^ a b Rollins and Witts, p. 5
  34. ^ a b Rollins and Witts, p. 9
  35. ^ a b Rollins and Witts, p. 17
  36. ^ This site contains biographies of the persons listed in these tables:
  37. ^ Rollings and Witts, p. 136
  38. ^ Rollins and Witts, p. 154
  39. ^ Rollins and Witts, p. 164
  40. ^ Rollins and Witts, 4th Supplement, p. 42
  41. ^ List and assessments of recordings of The Sorcerer at the G&S Discography
  42. ^ G&S Opera Company recordings
  43. ^ Review of 1933 recording of The Sorcerer at the G&S Discography
  44. ^ Review of 1953 recording of The Sorcerer at the G&S Discography
  45. ^ Review of 1966 recording of The Sorcerer at the G&S Discography
  46. ^ Review of 1982 Brent Walker video of The Sorcerer at the G&S Discography


  • Ainger, Michael (2002). Gilbert and Sullivan – A Dual Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195147693.  
  • Ayre, Leslie (1972). The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion. London: W.H. Allen & Co Ltd.   Introduction by Martyn Green.
  • Barrington, Rutland (1908). Rutland Barrington: A Record of 35 Years' Experience on the English Stage. London: G. Richards.   Preface by W. S. Gilbert, accessed March 9, 2008
  • Hulme, David Russell (1984). "Sidelights on The Sorcerer.". The Sorcerer and Trial by Jury – A Booklet to Commemorate The Centenary Of The First Revival. Saffron Walden, Essex, UK: The Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. pp. 1–4.  
  • Rollins, Cyril; R. John Witts (1962). The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan Operas: A Record of Productions, 1875–1961. London: Michael Joseph.   Also, five supplements, privately printed.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Sorcerer
by W. S. Gilbert
Music by Arthur Sullivan. First produced at the Opera Comique, London, on November 17, 1877


Dramatis Personae

  • Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, an Elderly Baronet
  • Alexis, of the Grenadier Guards – His Son
  • Dr. Daly, Vicar of Ploverleigh
  • John Wellington Wells, of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers
  • Lady Sangazure, a Lady of Ancient Lineage
  • Aline, Her Daughter – betrothed to Alexis
  • Mrs. Partlet, a Pew-Opener
  • Constance, her Daughter
  • Chorus of Villagers

Act I

Exterior of Sir Marmaduke's Elizabethan mansion, mid-day.


Ring forth, ye bells,
 With clarion sound--
Forget your knells,
 For joys abound.
Forget your notes
 Of mournful lay,
And from your throats
 Pour joy to-day.
For to-day young Alexis – young Alexis Pointdextre
 Is betrothed to Aline – to Aline Sangazure,
And that pride of his sex is – of his sex is to be next her
 At the feast on the green – on the green, oh, be sure!
Ring forth, ye bells etc.

Exeunt the men into house.

Enter Mrs. Partlet with Constance, her daughter.


MRS. P.     Constance, my daughter, why this strange depression?
            The village rings with seasonable joy,
            Because the young and amiable Alexis,
            Heir to the great Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre,
            Is plighted to Aline, the only daughter
            Of Annabella, Lady Sangazure.
            You, you alone are sad and out of spirits;
            What is the reason?  Speak, my daughter, speak!
CONST.      Oh, mother, do not ask!  If my complexion
            From red to white should change in quick succession,
            And then from white to red, oh, take no notice!
            If my poor limbs should tremble with emotion,
            Pay no attention, mother – it is nothing!
            If long and deep-drawn sighs I chance to utter,
            Oh, heed them not, their cause must ne'er be known!

Mrs. Partlet motions to Chorus to leave her with Constance. Exeunt ladies of Chorus.


When he is here,
 I sigh with pleasure —
When he is gone,
 I sigh with grief.
My hopeless fear
 No soul can measure —
His love alone
 Can give my aching heart relief!
When he is cold,
 I weep for sorrow —
When he is kind,
 I weep for joy.
My grief untold
 Knows no to-morrow —
My woe can find
 No hope, no solace, no alloy!
MRS. P.     Come, tell me all about it! Do not fear –
            I, too, have loved; but that was long ago!
            Who is the object of your young affections?
CONST.      Hush, mother!  He is here! (Looking off)

Enter Dr. Daly. He is pensive and does not see them.

MRS. P.     (amazed)         Our reverend vicar!
CONST.      Oh, pity me, my heart is almost broken!
MRS. P.     My child, be comforted.  To such an union
            I shall not offer any opposition.
            Take him – he's yours!  May you and he be happy!
CONST.      But, mother dear, he is not yours to give!
MRS. P.     That's true, indeed!
CONST.                        He might object!
MRS. P.                                        He might.
           But come – take heart – I'll probe him on the subject.
           Be comforted – leave this affair to me.

They withdraw.


The air is charged with amatory numbers –
 Soft madrigals, and dreamy lovers' lays.
Peace, peace, old heart! Why waken from its slumbers
 The aching memory of the old, old days?


Time was when Love and I were well acquainted.
 Time was when we walked ever hand in hand.
A saintly youth, with worldly thought untainted,
 None better loved than I in all the land!
Time was, when maidens of the noblest station,
 Forsaking even military men,
Would gaze upon me, rapt in adoration —
 Ah me, I was a fair young curate then!
Had I a headache? sighed the maids assembled;
 Had I a cold? welled forth the silent tear;
Did I look pale? then half a parish trembled;
 And when I coughed all thought the end was near!
I had no care – no jealous doubts hung o'er me –
 For I was loved beyond all other men.
Fled gilded dukes and belted earls before me —
 Ah me, I was a pale young curate them!

At the conclusion of the ballad, Mrs. Partlet comes forward with Constance.

MRS. P. Good day, reverend sir.

DR. D. Ah, good Mrs. Partlet, I am glad to see you. And your little daughter, Constance! Why, she is quite a little woman, I declare!

CONST. (aside) Oh, mother, I cannot speak to him!

MRS. P. Yes, reverend sir, she is nearly eighteen, and as good a girl as ever stepped. (Aside to Dr. Daly) Ah, sir, I'm afraid I shall soon lose her!

DR. D. (aside to Mrs. Partlet) Dear me, you pain me very much. Is she delicate?

MRS. P. Oh no, sir – I don't mean that – but young girls look to get married.

DR. D. Oh, I take you. To be sure. But there's plenty of time for that. Four or five years hence, Mrs. Partlet, four or five years hence. But when the time does come, I shall have much pleasure in marrying her myself —

CONST. (aside) Oh, mother!

DR. D. To some strapping young fellow in her own rank of life.

CONST. (in tears) He does not love me!

MRS. P. I have often wondered, reverend sir (if you'll excuse the liberty), that you have never married.

DR. D. (aside) Be still, my fluttering heart!

MRS. P. A clergyman's wife does so much good in a village. Besides that, you are not as young as you were, and before very long you will want somebody to nurse you, and look after your little comforts.

DR. D. Mrs. Partlet, there is much truth in what you say. I am indeed getting on in years, and a helpmate would cheer my declining days. Time was when it might have been; but I have left it too long – I am an old fogy, now, am I not, my dear? (to Constance) — a very old fogy, indeed. Ha! ha! No, Mrs. Partlet, my mind is quite made up. I shall live and die a solitary old bachelor.

CONST. Oh, mother, mother! (Sobs on Mrs. Partlet's bosom)

MRS. P. Come, come, dear one, don't fret. At a more fitting time we will try again – we will try again.

Exeunt Mrs. Partlet and Constance.

DR. D. (looking after them) Poor little girl! I'm afraid she has something on her mind. She is rather comely. Time was when this old heart would have throbbed in double-time at the sight of such a fairy form! But tush! I am puling! Here comes the young Alexis with his proud and happy father. Let me dry this tell-tale tear!

Enter Sir Marmaduke and Alexis.


DR. D.      Sir Marmaduke – my dear young friend, Alexis –
            On this most happy, most auspicious plighting –
            Permit me as a true old friend to tender
            My best, my very best congratulations!
SIR M.      Sir, you are most obleeging!
ALEXIS.                                  Dr. Daly,
            My dear old tutor, and my valued pastor,
            I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

(Spoken through music)

DR. D.      May fortune bless you! may the middle distance
            Of your young life be pleasant as the foreground –
            The joyous foreground! and, when you have reached it,
            May that which now is the far-off horizon
            (But which will then become the middle distance),
            In fruitful promise be exceeded only
            By that which will have opened, in the meantime,
            Into a new and glorious horizon!
SIR M.      Dear Sir, that is an excellent example
            Of an old school of stately compliment
            To which I have, through life, been much addicted.
            Will you obleege me with a copy of it,
            In clerkly manuscript, that I myself
            May use it on appropriate occasions?
DR. D.      Sir, you shall have a fairly-written copy
            Ere Sol has sunk into his western slumbers!

Exit Dr. Daly.

SIR M. (to Alexis, who is in a reverie) Come, come, my son – your fiancee will be here in five minutes. Rouse yourself to receive her.

ALEXIS. Oh rapture!

SIR M. Yes, you are a fortunate young fellow, and I will not disguise from you that this union with the House of Sangazure realizes my fondest wishes. Aline is rich, and she comes of a sufficiently old family, for she is the seven thousand and thirty-seventh in direct descent from Helen of Troy. True, there was a blot on the escutcheon of that lady – that affair with Paris – but where is the family, other than my own, in which there is no flaw? You are a lucky fellow, sir – a very lucky fellow!

ALEXIS. Father, I am welling over with limpid joy! No sicklying taint of sorrow overlies the lucid lake of liquid love, upon which, hand in hand, Aline and I are to float into eternity!

SIR M. Alexis, I desire that of your love for this young lady you do not speak so openly. You are always singing ballads in praise of her beauty, and you expect the very menials who wait behind your chair to chorus your ecstasies. It is not delicate.

ALEXIS. Father, a man who loves as I love —

SIR M. Pooh pooh, sir! fifty years ago I madly loved your future mother-in-law, the Lady Sangazure, and I have reason to believe that she returned my love. But were we guilty of the indelicacy of publicly rushing into each other's arms, exclaiming –

"Oh, my adored one!" "Beloved boy!"
"Ecstatic rapture!" "Unmingled joy!"

which seems to be the modern fashion of love-making? No! it was "Madam, I trust you are in the enjoyment of good health" – "Sir, you are vastly polite, I protest I am mighty well" – and so forth. Much more delicate – much more respectful. But see – Aline approaches – let us retire, that she may compose herself for the interesting ceremony in which she is to play so important a part.

Exeunt Sir Marmaduke and Alexis.

Enter Aline on terrace, preceded by Chorus of Girls.


With heart and with voice
 Let us welcome this mating:
To the youth of her choice,
 With a heart palpitating,
  Comes the lovely Aline!
May their love never cloy!
 May their bliss be unbounded!
With a halo of joy
 May their lives be surrounded!
  Heaven bless our Aline!


My kindly friends, I thank you for this greeting
And as you wish me every earthly joy,
I trust your wishes may have quick fulfillment!


Oh, happy young heart!
 Comes thy young lord a-wooing
With joy in his eyes,
 And pride in his breast –
Make much of thy prize,
 For he is the best
That ever came a-suing.
 Yet – yet we must part,
  Young heart!
 Yet – yet we must part!
Oh, merry young heart,
 Bright are the days of thy wooing!
But happier far
 The days untried –
No sorrow can mar,
 When love has tied
The knot there's no undoing.
 Then, never to part,
  Young heart!
 Then, never to part!

Enter Lady Sangazure.


My child, I join in these congratulations:
Heed not the tear that dims this aged eye!
Old memories crowd upon me. Though I sorrow,
'Tis for myself, Aline, and not for thee!

Enter Alexis, preceded by Chorus of Men.


With heart and with voice
 Let us welcome this mating;
To the maid of his choice,
 With a heart palpitating,
  Comes Alexis the brave!

Sir Marmaduke enters. Lady Sangazure and he exhibit signs of strong emotion at the sight of each other which they endeavor to repress. Alexis and Aline rush into each other's arms.


ALEXIS.     Oh, my adored one!
ALINE.       Beloved boy!
ALEXIS.     Ecstatic rapture!
ALINE.       Unmingled joy!

They retire up.


SIR M.  (with stately courtesy)
           Welcome joy, adieu to sadness!
            As Aurora gilds the day,
           So those eyes, twin orbs of gladness,
            Chase the clouds of care away.
           Irresistible incentive
            Bids me humbly kiss your hand;
           I'm your servant most attentive –
            Most attentive to command!
(Aside with frantic vehemence)
           Wild with adoration!
           Mad with fascination!
           To indulge my lamentation
            No occasion do I miss!
           Goaded to distraction
           By maddening inaction,
           I find some satisfaction
            In apostophe like this:
            "Sangazure immortal,
             "Sangazure divine,
            "Welcome to my portal,
             "Angel, oh be mine!"
(Aloud with much ceremony)
           Irresistible incentive
            Bids me humbly kiss your hand;
           I'm your servant most attentive –
            Most attentive to command!
LADY S.    Sir, I thank you most politely
            For your grateful courtesee;
           Compliment more true and knightly
            Never yet was paid to me!
           Chivalry is an ingredient
            Sadly lacking in our land –
           Sir, I am your most obedient,
            Most obedient to command!
(Aside and with great vehemence)
           Wild with adoration!
           Mad with fascination!
           To indulge my lamentation
            No occasion do I miss!
           Goaded to distraction
           By maddening inaction,
           I find some satisfaction
            In apostophe like this:
            "Marmaduke immortal,
             "Marmaduke divine,
            "Take me to thy portal,
             "Loved one, oh be mine!"
(Aloud with much ceremony)
           Chivalry is an ingredient
            Sadly lacking in our land;
           Sir, I am your most obedient,
            Most obedient to command!

During this the Notary has entered, with marriage contract.


All is prepared for sealing and for signing,
 The contract has been drafted as agreed;
Approach the table, oh, ye lovers pining,
 With hand and seal come execute the deed!

Alexis and Aline advance and sign, Alexis supported by Sir Marmaduke, Aline by her Mother.

CHORUS.   See, they sign, without a quiver, it –
           Then to seal proceed.
          They deliver it – they deliver it
           As their Act and Deed!
ALEXIS.   I deliver it – I deliver it
           As my Act and Deed!
ALINE.    I deliver it – I deliver it.
           As my Act and Deed!
CHORUS.   With heart and with voice
           Let us welcome this mating;
          Leave them here to rejoice,
           With true love palpitating,
            Alexis the brave,
            And the lovely Aline!

Exeunt all but Alexis and Aline.

ALEXIS. At last we are alone! My darling, you are now irrevocably betrothed to me. Are you not very, very happy?

ALINE. Oh, Alexis, can you doubt it? Do I not love you beyond all on earth, and am I not beloved in return? Is not true love, faithfully given and faithfully returned, the source of every earthly joy?

ALEXIS. Of that there can be no doubt. Oh, that the world could be persuaded of the truth of that maxim! Oh, that the world would break down the artificial barriers of rank, wealth, education, age, beauty, habits, taste, and temper, and recognize the glorious principle, that in marriage alone is to be found the panacea for every ill!

ALINE. Continue to preach that sweet doctrine, and you will succeed, oh, evangel of true happiness!

ALEXIS. I hope so, but as yet the cause progresses but slowly. Still I have made some converts to the principle, that men and women should be coupled in matrimony without distinction of rank. I have lectured on the subject at Mechanics' Institutes, and the mechanics were unanimous in favour of my views. I have preached in workhouses, beershops, and lunatic asylums, and I have been received with enthusiasm. I have addressed navvies on the advantages that would accrue to them if they married wealthy ladies of rank, and not a navvy dissented!

ALINE. Noble fellows! And yet there are those who hold that the uneducated classes are not open to argument! And what do the countesses say?

ALEXIS. Why, at present, it can't be denied, the aristocracy hold aloof.

ALINE. Ah, the working man is the true Intelligence after all!

ALEXIS. He is a noble creature when he is quite sober. Yes, Aline, true happiness comes of true love, and true love should be independent of external influences. It should live upon itself and by itself – in itself love should live for love alone!


Love feeds on many kinds of food, I know,
 Some love for rank, some for duty:
Some give their hearts away for empty show,
 And others for youth and beauty.
To love for money all the world is prone:
 Some love themselves, and live all lonely:
Give me the love that loves for love alone –
 I love that love – I love it only!
What man for any other joy can thirst,
 Whose loving wife adores him duly?
Want, misery, and care may do their worst,
 If loving woman loves you truly.
A lover's thoughts are ever with his own –
 None truly loved is ever lonely:
Give me the love that loves for love alone –
 I love that love – I love it only!

ALINE. Oh, Alexis, those are noble principles!

ALEXIS. Yes, Aline, and I am going to take a desperate step in support of them. Have you ever heard of the firm of J. W. Wells & Co., the old-established Family Sorcerers in St. Mary Axe?

ALINE. I have seen their advertisement.

ALEXIS. They have invented a philtre, which, if report may be believed, is simply infallible. I intend to distribute it through the village, and within half-an-hour of my doing so there will not be an adult in the place who will not have learnt the secret of pure and lasting happiness. What do you say to that?

ALINE. Well, dear, of course a filter is a very useful thing in a house; but still I don't quite see that it is the sort of thing that places its possessor on the very pinnacle of earthly joy.

ALEXIS. Aline, you misunderstand me. I didn't say a filter – I said a philtre.

ALINE (alarmed). You don't mean a love-potion?

ALEXIS. On the contrary – I do mean a love potion.

ALINE. Oh, Alexis! I don't think it would be right. I don't indeed. And then – a real magician! Oh, it would be downright wicked.

ALEXIS. Aline, is it, or is it not, a laudable object to steep the whole village up to its lips in love, and to couple them in matrimony without distinction of age, rank, or fortune?

ALINE. Unquestionably, but —

ALEXIS. Then unpleasant as it must be to have recourse to supernatural aid, I must nevertheless pocket my aversion, in deference to the great and good end I have in view. (Calling) Hercules.

Enter a Page from tent.

PAGE. Yes, sir.

ALEXIS. Is Mr. Wells there?

PAGE. He's in the tent, sir – refreshing.

ALEXIS. Ask him to be so good as to step this way.

PAGE. Yes, sir. (Exit Page.)

ALINE. Oh, but, Alexis! A real Sorcerer! Oh, I shall be frightened to death!

ALEXIS. I trust my Aline will not yield to fear while the strong right arm of her Alexis is here to protect her.

ALINE. It's nonsense, dear, to talk of your protecting me with your strong right arm, in face of the fact that this Family Sorcerer could change me into a guinea-pig before you could turn round.

ALEXIS. He could change you into a guinea-pig, no doubt, but it is most unlikely that he would take such a liberty. It's a most respectable firm, and I am sure he would never be guilty of so untradesmanlike an act.

Enter Mr. Wells from tent.

WELLS. Good day, sir. (Aline much terrified.)

ALEXIS. Good day – I believe you are a Sorcerer.

WELLS. Yes, sir, we practice Necromancy in all its branches. We've a choice assortment of wishing-caps, divining-rods, amulets, charms, and counter-charms. We can cast you a nativity at a low figure, and we have a horoscope at three-and-six that we can guarantee. Our Abudah chests, each containing a patent Hag who comes out and prophesies disasters, with spring complete, are strongly recommended. Our Aladdin lamps are very chaste, and our Prophetic Tablets, foretelling everything – from a change of Ministry down to a rise in Unified – are much enquired for. Our penny Curse – one of the cheapest things in the trade – is considered infallible. We have some very superior Blessings, too, but they're very little asked for. We've only sold one since Christmas – to a gentleman who bought it to send to his mother-in-law – but it turned out that he was afflicted in the head, and it's been returned on our hands. But our sale of penny Curses, especially on Saturday nights, is tremendous. We can't turn 'em out fast enough.


Oh! my name is John Wellington Wells,
I'm a dealer in magic and spells,
 In blessings and curses
 And ever-filled purses,
In prophecies, witches, and knells.
If you want a proud foe to "make tracks" –
If you'd melt a rich uncle in wax –
 You've but to look in
 On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!
We've a first-class assortment of magic;
 And for raising a posthumous shade
With effects that are comic or tragic,
 There's no cheaper house in the trade.
Love-philtre – we've quantities of it;
 And for knowledge if any one burns,
We keep an extremely small prophet, a prophet
 Who brings us unbounded returns:
  For he can prophesy
  With a wink of his eye,
  Peep with security
  Into futurity,
  Sum up your history,
  Clear up a mystery,
  Humour proclivity
  For a nativity – for a nativity;
  With mirrors so magical,
  Tetrapods tragical,
  Bogies spectacular,
  Answers oracular,
  Facts astronomical,
  Solemn or comical,
  And, if you want it, he
  Makes a reduction on taking a quantity!
If any one anything lacks,
He'll find it all ready in stacks,
 If he'll only look in
 On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!
He can raise you hosts
                       Of ghosts,
And that without reflectors;
And creepy things
                  With wings,
And gaunt and grisly spectres.
He can fill you crowds
                       Of shrouds,
And horrify you vastly;
He can rack your brains
                        With chains,
And gibberings grim and ghastly.
  And then, if you plan it, he
  Changes organity,
  With an urbanity,
  Full of Satanity,
  Vexes humanity
  With an inanity
  Fatal to vanity –
  Driving your foes to the verge of insanity!
  Barring tautology,
  In demonology,
  Mystic nosology,
  Spirit philology,
  High-class astrology,
  Such is his knowledge, he
  Isn't the man to require an apology!
My name is John Wellington Wells,
I'm a dealer in magic and spells,
 In blessings and curses
 And ever-filled purses,
In prophecies, witches, and knells.
If any one anything lacks,
He'll find it all ready in stacks,
 If he'll only look in
 On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!

ALEXIS. I have sent for you to consult you on a very important matter. I believe you advertise a Patent Oxy-Hydrogen Love-at-first-sight Philtre?

WELLS. Sir, it is our leading article. (Producing a phial.)

ALEXIS. Now I want to know if you can confidently guarantee it as possessing all the qualities you claim for it in your advertisement?

WELLS. Sir, we are not in the habit of puffing our goods. Ours is an old-established house with a large family connection, and every assurance held out in the advertisement is fully realized. (Hurt)

ALINE. (aside) Oh, Alexis, don't offend him! He'll change us into something dreadful – I know he will!

ALEXIS. I am anxious from purely philanthropical motives to distribute this philtre, secretly, among the inhabitants of this village. I shall of course require a quantity. How do you sell it?

WELLS. In buying a quantity, sir, we should strongly advise your taking it in the wood, and drawing it off as you happen to want it. We have it in four-and-a-half and nine gallon casks – also in pipes and hogsheads for laying down, and we deduct 10 per cent from prompt cash.

ALEXIS. I should mention that I am a Member of the Army and Navy Stores.

WELLS. In that case we deduct 25 percent.

ALEXIS. Aline, the villagers will assemble to carouse in a few minutes. Go and fetch the tea-pot.

ALINE. But, Alexis —

ALEXIS. My dear, you must obey me, if you please. Go and fetch the tea-pot.

ALINE (going). I'm sure Dr. Daly would disapprove of it!

Exit Aline.

ALEXIS. And how soon does it take effect?

WELLS. In twelve hours. Whoever drinks of it loses consciousness for that period, and on waking falls in love, as a matter of course, with the first lady he meets who has also tasted it, and his affection is at once returned. One trial will prove the fact.

Enter Aline with large tea-pot.

ALEXIS. Good: then, Mr. Wells, I shall feel obliged if you will at once pour as much philtre into this teapot as will suffice to affect the whole village.

ALINE. But bless me, Alexis, many of the villagers are married people!

WELLS. Madam, this philtre is compounded on the strictest principles. On married people it has no effect whatever. But are you quite sure that you have nerve enough to carry you through the fearful ordeal?

ALEXIS. In the good cause I fear nothing.

WELLS. Very good, then, we will proceed at once to the incantation.

The stage grows dark.


WELLS.        Sprites of earth and air--
               Fiends of flame and fire--
                Demon souls,
                Come here in shoals,
              This dreaded deed inspire!
               Appear, appear, appear.
MALE VOICES.   Good master, we are here!
WELLS.        Noisome hags of night--
               Imps of deadly shade--
                Pallid ghosts,
                Arise in hosts,
              And lend me all your aid.
               Appear, appear, appear!
FEMALE VOICES. Good master, we are here!
ALEXIS (aside).  Hark, they assemble,
                  These fiends of the night!
ALINE (aside).   Oh Alexis, I tremble,
                  Seek safety in flight!


Let us fly to a far-off land,
 Where peace and plenty dwell –
Where the sigh of the silver strand
 Is echoed in every shell –
To the joy that land will give,
 On the wings of Love we'll fly;
In innocence, there to live –
 In innocence there to die!


Too late – too late
 It may not be!
That happy fate
 Is not for thee!


Too late--too late,
 That may not be!
That happy fate
 Is not for (me/thee)!


Now shrivelled hags, with poison bags,
 Discharge your loathsome loads!
Spit flame and fire, unholy choir!
 Belch forth your venom, toads!
Ye demons fell, with yelp and yell,
 Shed curses far afield –
Ye fiends of night, your filthy blight
 In noisome plenty yield!
WELLS  (pouring phial into tea-pot – flash)
                          Number One!
CHORUS                     It is done!
WELLS  (same business)    Number Two! (flash)
CHORUS                     One too few!
WELLS                     Number Three! (flash)
CHORUS                     Set us free!
                          Set us free – our work is done
                           Ha! ha! ha!
                          Set us free – our course is run!
                           Ha! ha! ha!

ALINE and ALEXIS (aside).

Let us fly to a far-off land,
 Where peace and plenty dwell –
Where the sigh of the silver strand
 Is echoed in every shell.


Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

The stage grows light. Mr. Wells beckons villagers. Enter villagers and all the dramatis personae, dancing joyously. Mrs. Partlet and Mr. Wells then distribute tea-cups.


Now to the banquet we press;
 Now for the eggs and the ham;
Now for the mustard and cress,
 Now for the strawberry jam!
Now for the tea of our host,
 Now for the rollicking bun,
Now for the muffin and toast,
 Now for the gay Sally Lunn!
WOMEN.  The eggs and the ham, and the strawberry jam!
MEN.    The rollicking bun, and the gay Sally Lunn!
         The rollicking, rollicking bun!


Be happy all – the feast is spread before ye;
 Fear nothing, but enjoy yourselves, I pray!
Eat, aye, and drink – be merry, I implore ye,
 For once let thoughtless Folly rule the day.


Eat, drink, and be gay,
 Banish all worry and sorrow,
Laugh gaily to-day,
 Weep, if you're sorry, to-morrow!
Come, pass the cup around –
 I will go bail for the liquor;
It's strong, I'll be bound,
 For it was brewed by the vicar!


None so knowing as he
 At brewing a jorum of tea,
Ha! ha!
 A pretty stiff jorum of tea.

TRIO – WELLS, ALINE, and ALEXIS. (aside)

See – see – they drink –
 All thoughts unheeding,
The tea-cups clink,
 They are exceeding!
Their hearts will melt
 In half an hour –
Then will be felt
 The potions power!

During this verse Constance has brought a small tea-pot, kettle, caddy, and cosy to Dr. Daly. He makes tea scientifically.

BRINDISI, second verse – DR. DALY (with the tea-pot)

Pain, trouble, and care,
 Misery, heart-ache, and worry,
Quick, out of your lair!
 Get you gone in a hurry!
Toil, sorrow, and plot,
 Fly away quicker and quicker –
Three spoons to the pot –
 That is the brew of your vicar!


None so cunning as he
 At brewing a jorum of tea,
Ha! ha!
 A pretty stiff jorum of tea!


Oh love, true love – unworldly, abiding!
 Source of all pleasure – true fountain of joy –
Oh love, true love – divinely confiding,
 Exquisite treasure that knows no alloy –
Oh love, true love, rich harvest of gladness,
 Peace-bearing tillage – great garner of bliss –
Oh love, true love, look down on our sadness –
 Dwell in this village – oh, hear us in this!

It becomes evident by the strange conduct of the characters that the charm is working. All rub their eyes, and stagger about the stage as if under the influence of a narcotic.

     TUTTI (aside)                   ALEXIS, MR. WELLS and ALINE
Oh, marvellous illusion!           A marvellous illusion!
 Oh, terrible surprise!             A terrible surprise
What is this strange confusion     Excites a strange confusion
 That veils my aching eyes?         Within their aching eyes –
I must regain my senses,           They must regain their senses,
 Restoring Reason's law,            Restoring Reason's law,
Or fearful inferences              Or fearful inferences
 Society will draw!                 Society will draw!

Those who have partaken of the philtre struggle in vain against its effects, and, at the end of the chorus, fall insensible on the stage.

(Twelve hours are supposed to elapse between Acts I and II.)

Act II

Exterior of Sir Marmaduke's mansion by moonlight. All the peasantry are discovered asleep on the ground, as at the end of Act I.

Enter Mr. Wells, on tiptoe, followed by Alexis and Aline. Mr. Wells carries a dark lantern.


'Tis twelve, I think,
 And at this mystic hour
The magic drink
 Should manifest its power.
Oh, slumbering forms,
 How little ye have guessed
That fire that warms
 Each apathetic breast!
ALEXIS.       But stay, my father is not here!
ALINE.        And pray, where is my mother dear?
MR. WELLS.    I did not think it meet to see
              A dame of lengthy pedigree,
              A Baronet and K.C.B.
              A Doctor of Divinity,
              And that respectable Q.C.,
              All fast asleep, al-fresco-ly,
              And so I had them taken home
              And put to bed respectably!
              I trust my conduct meets your approbation.
ALEXIS.       Sir, you have acted with discrimination,
              And shown more delicate appreciation
              Than we expect of persons of your station.
MR. WELLS.    But stay – they waken one by one –
              The spell has worked – the deed is done!
              I would suggest that we retire
              While Love, the Housemaid, lights her kitchen fire!

Exeunt Mr. Wells, Alexis and Aline, on tiptoe, as the villagers stretch their arms, yawn, rub their eyes, and sit up.

MEN.        Why, where be oi, and what be oi a doin',
             A sleepin' out, just when the dews du rise?
GIRLS.      Why, that's the very way your health to ruin,
             And don't seem quite respectable likewise!
MEN (staring at girls).     Eh, that's you!
                             Only think o' that now!
GIRLS (coyly).              What may you be at, now?
                             Tell me, du!
MEN (admiringly).           Eh, what a nose,
                             And eh, what eyes, miss!
                            Lips like a rose,
                             And cheeks likewise, miss!
GIRLS (coyly).              Oi tell you true,
                             Which I've never done, sir,
                            Oi loike you
                             As I never loiked none, sir!
ALL.                        Eh, but oi du loike you!
MEN.                        If you'll marry me, I'll dig for you and rake for you!
GIRLS.                      If you'll marry me, I'll scrub for you and bake for you!
MEN.                        If you'll marry me, all others I'll forsake for you!
ALL.                        All this will I du, if you marry me!
GIRLS.                      If you'll marry me, I'll cook for you and brew for you!
MEN.                        If you'll marry me, I've guineas not a few for you!
GIRLS.                      If you'll marry me, I'll take you in and du for you!
ALL.                        All this will I du, if you'll marry me!
                             Eh, but I do loike you!


At end of dance, enter Constance in tears, leading Notary, who carries an ear-trumpet.


Dear friends, take pity on my lot,
 My cup is not of nectar!
I long have loved – as who would not? –
 Our kind and reverend rector.
Long years ago my love began
 So sweetly – yet so sadly –
But when I saw this plain old man,
 Away my old affection ran –
  I found I loved him madly.
(To Notary)  You very, very plain old man,
                  I love, I love you madly!
CHORUS.      You very, very plain old man,
              She loves, she loves you madly!
NOTARY.      I am a very deaf old man,
              And hear you very badly!
I know not why I love him so;
 It is enchantment, surely!
He's dry and snuffy, deaf and slow
 Ill-tempered, weak and poorly!
He's ugly, and absurdly dressed,
 And sixty-seven nearly,
He's everything that I detest,
 But if the truth must be confessed,
  I love him very dearly!
(To Notary)  You're everything that I detest,
                  But still I love you dearly!
CHORUS.      You're everything that girls detest,
              But still she loves you dearly!
NOTARY.      I caught that line, but for the rest,
              I did not hear it clearly!

During this verse Aline and Alexis have entered at back unobserved.

ALEXIS.    Oh joy! oh joy!
            The charm works well,
             And all are now united.
ALINE.     The blind young boy
            Obeys the spell,
             And troth they all have plighted!


      Aline & Alexis               Constance              Notary
Oh joy! oh joy!              Oh, bitter joy!         Oh joy! oh joy!
  The charm works well,        No words can tell       No words can tell
    And all are now united!      How my poor heart       My state of mind
The blind young boy                is blighted!            delighted.
  Obeys the spell,           They'll soon employ     They'll soon employ
                               A marriage bell,        A marriage bell,
   Their troth they all         To say that we're       To say that we're
     have plighted.               united.                 united.
True happiness               I do confess            True happiness
  Reigns everywhere,           A sorrow rare           Reigns everywhere
    And dwells with both         My humbled spirit       And dwells with both
      the sexes.                   vexes.                  the sexes,
And all will bless           And none will bless     And all will bless
  The thoughtful care          Example rare            Example rare
    Of their beloved             Of their beloved        Of their beloved
      Alexis!                      Alexis!                 Alexis!

All, except Alexis and Aline, exeunt lovingly.

ALINE. How joyful they all seem in their new-found happiness! The whole village has paired off in the happiest manner. And yet not a match has been made that the hollow world would not consider ill-advised!

ALEXIS. But we are wiser – far wiser – than the world. Observe the good that will become of these ill-assorted unions. The miserly wife will check the reckless expenditure of her too frivolous consort; the wealthy husband will shower innumerable bonnets on his penniless bride; and the young and lively spouse will cheer the declining days of her aged partner with comic songs unceasing!

ALINE. What a delightful prospect for him!

ALEXIS. But one thing remains to be done, that my happiness may be complete. We must drink the philtre ourselves, that I may be assured of your love for ever and ever.

ALINE. Oh, Alexis, do you doubt me? Is it necessary that such love as ours should be secured by artificial means? Oh, no, no, no!

ALEXIS. My dear Aline, time works terrible changes, and I want to place our love beyond the chance of change.

ALINE. Alexis, it is already far beyond that chance. Have faith in me, for my love can never, never change!

ALEXIS. Then you absolutely refuse?

ALINE. I do. If you cannot trust me, you have no right to love me – no right to be loved by me.

ALEXIS. Enough, Aline; I shall know how to interpret this refusal.


Thou hast the power thy vaunted love
To sanctify, all doubt above,
 Despite the gathering shade:
To make that love of thine so sure
That, come what may, it must endure
 Till time itself shall fade.
  Thy love is but a flower
  That fades within the hour!
  If such thy love, oh, shame!
  Call it by other name –
   It is not love!
Thine is the power and thine alone,
To place me on so proud a throne
 That kings might envy me!
A priceless throne of love untold,
More rare than orient pearl and gold.
 But no!  Thou wouldst be free!
  Such love is like the ray
  That dies within the day:
  If such thy love, oh, shame!
  Call it by other name –
   It is not love!

Enter Dr. Daly.

DR. D. (musing). It is singular – it is very singular. It has overthrown all my calculations. It is distinctly opposed to the doctrine of averages. I cannot understand it.

ALINE. Dear Dr. Daly, what has puzzled you?

DR. D. My dear, this village has not hitherto been addicted to marrying and giving in marriage. Hitherto the youths of this village have not been enterprising, and the maidens have been distinctly coy. Judge then of my surprise when I tell you that the whole village came to me in a body just now, and implored me to join them in matrimony with as little delay as possible. Even your excellent father has hinted to me that before very long it is not unlikely that he may also change his condition.

ALINE. Oh, Alexis – do you hear that? Are you not delighted?

ALEXIS. Yes, I confess that a union between your mother and my father would be a happy circumstance indeed. (Crossing to Dr. Daly) My dear sir – the news that you bring us is very gratifying.

DR. D. Yes – still, in my eyes, it has its melancholy side. This universal marrying recalls the happy days – now, alas, gone forever – when I myself might have – but tush! I am puling. I am too old to marry – and yet, within the last half-hour, I have greatly yearned for companionship. I never remarked it before, but the young maidens of this village are very comely. So likewise are the middle-aged. Also the elderly. All are comely – and (with a deep sigh) all are engaged!

ALINE. Here comes your father.

Enter Sir Marmaduke with Mrs. Partlet, arm-in-arm.

ALINE and ALEXIS (aside). Mrs. Partlet!

SIR M. Dr. Daly, give me joy. Alexis, my dear boy, you will, I am sure, be pleased to hear that my declining days are not unlikely to be solaced by the companionship of this good, virtuous, and amiable woman.

ALEXIS (rather taken aback). My dear father, this is not altogether what I expected. I am certainly taken somewhat by surprise. Still it can hardly be necessary to assure you that any wife of yours is a mother of mine. (Aside to Aline.) It is not quite what I could have wished.

MRS. P. (crossing to Alexis) Oh, sir, I entreat your forgiveness. I am aware that socially I am not everything that could be desired, nor am I blessed with an abundance of worldly goods, but I can at least confer on your estimable father the great and priceless dowry of a true, tender, and lovin' 'art!

ALEXIS (coldly). I do not question it. After all, a faithful love is the true source of every earthly joy.

SIR M. I knew that my boy would not blame his poor father for acting on the impulse of a heart that has never yet misled him. Zorah is not perhaps what the world calls beautiful —

DR. D. Still she is comely – distinctly comely. (Sighs)

ALINE. Zorah is very good, and very clean, and honest, and quite, quite sober in her habits: and that is worth far more than beauty, dear Sir Marmaduke.

DR. D. Yes; beauty will fade and perish, but personal cleanliness is practically undying, for it can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay. My dear Sir Marmaduke, I heartily congratulate you. (Sighs)


ALEXIS.  I rejoice that it's decided,
          Happy now will be his life,
         For my father is provided
          With a true and tender wife.
         She will tend him, nurse him, mend him,
          Air his linen, dry his tears;
         Bless the thoughtful fate that send him
          Such a wife to soothe his years!
ALINE.   No young giddy thoughtless maiden,
          Full of graces, airs, and jeers –
         But a sober widow, laden
          With the weight of fifty years!
SIR M.   No high-born exacting beauty
          Blazing like a jewelled sun –
         But a wife who'll do her duty,
          As that duty should be done!
MRS. P.  I'm no saucy minx and giddy –
          Hussies such as them abound –
         But a clean and tidy widdy
          Well be-known for miles around!
DR. D.   All the village now have mated,
          All are happy as can be –
         I to live alone am fated:
          No one's left to marry me!
ENSEMBLE.  She will tend him, etc.

Exeunt Sir Marmaduke, Mrs. Partlet, and Aline, with Alexis. Dr. Daly looks after them sentimentally, then exits with a sigh.

Enter Mr. Wells.


Oh, I have wrought much evil with my spells!
 An ill I can't undo!
This is too bad of you, J. W. Wells –
 What wrong have they done you?
And see – another love-lorn lady comes –
 Alas, poor stricken dame!
A gentle pensiveness her life benumbs –
 And mine, alone, the blame!

Lady Sangazure enters. She is very melancholy.

LADY S.    Alas, ah me! and well-a-day!
           I sigh for love, and well I may,
           For I am very old and grey.
            But stay!

Sees Mr. Wells, and becomes fascinated by him.


LADY S.     What is this fairy form I see before me?
WELLS.      Oh, horrible! – She's going to adore me!
            This last catastrophe is overpowering!
LADY S.     Why do you glare at one with visage lowering?
            For pity's sake recoil not thus from me!
WELLS.      My lady, leave me – this may never be!


WELLS.      Hate me! I drop my H's – have through life!
LADY S.      Love me! I'll drop them too!
WELLS.      Hate me! I always eat peas with a knife!
LADY S.      Love me! I'll eat like you!
WELLS.      Hate me! I spend the day at Rosherville!
LADY S.      Love me! that joy I'll share!
WELLS.      Hate me! I often roll down One Tree Hill!
LADY S.      Love me! I'll join you there!
LADY S.     Love me!  My prejudices I will drop!
WELLS.       Hate me! that's not enough!
LADY S.     Love me!  I'll come and help you in the shop!
WELLS.       Hate me! the life is rough!
LADY S.     Love me! my grammar I will all forswear!
WELLS.       Hate me! abjure my lot!
LADY S.     Love me! I'll stick sunflowers in my hair!
WELLS.       Hate me! they'll suit you not!


At what I am going to say be not enraged –
I may not love you – for I am engaged!

LADY S. (horrified). Engaged!

WELLS. Engaged!

To a maiden fair,
With bright brown hair,
 And a sweet and simple smile,
Who waits for me
By the sounding sea,
 On a South Pacific isle.

WELLS (aside). A lie! No maiden waits me there!

LADY S. (mournfully). She has bright brown hair;

WELLS (aside). A lie! No maiden smiles on me!

LADY S. (mournfully). By the sounding sea!


        LADY SANGAZURE                               WELLS.
Oh agony, rage, despair!                       Oh, agony, rage, despair!
The maiden has bright brown hair,        Oh, where will this end – oh, where?
 And mine is as white as snow!            I should like very much to know!
False man, it will be your fault,        It will certainly be my fault,
If I go to my family vault,              If she goes to her family vault,
 And bury my life-long woe!               To bury her life-long woe!
BOTH.   The family vault – the family vault.
        It will certainly be (your/my) fault
        If (I go/she goes) to (my/her) family vault,
        To bury (my/her) life-long woe!

Exit Lady Sangazure, in great anguish, accompanied by Mr. Wells.

Enter Aline.


Alexis!  Doubt me not, my loved one!  See,
Thine uttered will is sovereign law to me!
All fear – all thought of ill I cast away!
It is my darling's will, and I obey!
                                     (She drinks the philtre.)
The fearful deed is done,
 My love is near!
I go to meet my own
 In trembling fear!
If o'er us aught of ill
 Should cast a shade,
It was my darling's will,
 And I obeyed!

As Aline is going off, she meets Dr. Daly, entering pensively. He is playing on a flageolet. Under the influence of the spell she at once becomes strangely fascinated by him, and exhibits every symptom of being hopelessly in love with him.


Oh, my voice is sad and low
And with timid step I go –
For with load of love o'er laden
I enquire of every maiden,
"Will you wed me, little lady?
Will you share my cottage shady?"
 Little lady answers "No!
 Thank you for your kindly proffer –
 Good your heart, and full your coffer;
 Yet I must decline your offer –
 I'm engaged to So-and-so!"
  So-and-so! (flageolet solo)
 She's engaged to So-and-so!
What a rogue young hearts to pillage;
What a worker on Love's tillage!
Every maiden in the village
 Is engaged to So-and-so!
  So-and-so! (flageolet solo)
 All engaged to So-and-so!

At the end of the song Dr. Daly sees Aline, and, under the influence of the potion, falls in love with her.


                 Oh, joyous boon! oh, mad delight;
                 Oh, sun and moon! oh, day and night!
                  Rejoice, rejoice with me!
                 Proclaim our joy, ye birds above –
                 Ye brooklets, murmur forth our love,
                  In choral ecstasy:
ALINE.           Oh, joyous boon!
DR. D.            Oh, mad delight!
ALINE.           Oh, sun and moon!
DR. D.            Oh, day and night!
BOTH.            Ye birds, and brooks, and fruitful trees,
                 With choral joy, delight the breeze –
                  Rejoice, rejoice with me!

Enter Alexis.

ALEXIS (with rapture). Aline, my only love, my happiness! The philtre – you have tasted it?

ALINE (with confusion). Yes! Yes!

ALEXIS. Oh, joy, mine, mine for ever, and for aye! (Embraces her.)

ALINE. Alexis, don't do that – you must not!

Dr. Daly interposes between them.

ALEXIS (amazed). Why?


ALINE.     Alas! that lovers thus should meet:
            Oh, pity, pity me!
           Oh, charge me not with cold deceit;
            Oh, pity, pity me!
           You bade me drink – with trembling awe
           I drank, and, by the potion's law,
           I loved the very first I saw!
            Oh, pity, pity, me!
DR. D.     My dear young friend, consoled be –
            We pity, pity you.
           In this I'm not an agent free –
            We pity, pity you.
           Some most extraordinary spell
           O'er us has cast its magic fell –
           The consequence I need not tell.
            We pity, pity you.


Some most extraordinary spell
O'er (us/them) has cast its magic fell –
The consequence (we/they) need not tell.
(We/They) pity, pity (thee/me)!
ALEXIS (furiously).   False one, begone – I spurn thee,
                      To thy new lover turn thee!
                      Thy perfidy all men shall know!
ALINE (wildly).       I could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off).  Come one, come all!
DR. D.                We could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off).  Obey my call!
ALINE (wildly).       I could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off).  Come hither, run!
DR. D.                We could not help it!
ALEXIS (calling off).  Come, every one!

Enter all the characters except Lady Sangazure and Mr. Wells.


Oh, what is the matter, and what is the clatter?
 He's glowering at her, and threatens a blow!
Oh, why does he batter the girl he did flatter?
 And why does the latter recoil from him so?


Prepare for sad surprises –
My love Aline despises!
No thought of sorrow shames her –
Another lover claims her!
Be his, false girl, for better or for worse –
But, ere you leave me, may a lover's curse —

DR. D. (coming forward). Hold! Be just. This poor child drank the philtre at your instance. She hurried off to meet you – but, most unhappily, she met me instead. As you had administered the potion to both of us, the result was inevitable. But fear nothing from me – I will be no man's rival. I shall quit the country at once – and bury my sorrow in the congenial gloom of a Colonial Bishopric.

ALEXIS. My excellent old friend! (Taking his hand – then turning to Mr. Wells, who has entered with Lady Sangazure.) Oh, Mr. Wells, what, what is to be done?

WELLS. I do not know – and yet – there is one means by which this spell may be removed.

ALEXIS. Name it – oh, name it!

WELLS. Or you or I must yield up his life to Ahrimanes. I would rather it were you. I should have no hesitation in sacrificing my own life to spare yours, but we take stock next week, and it would not be fair on the Co.

ALEXIS. True. Well, I am ready!

ALINE. No, no – Alexis – it must not be! Mr. Wells, if he must die that all may be restored to their old loves, what is to become of me? I should be left out in the cold, with no love to be restored to!

WELLS. True – I did not think of that. (To the others) My friends, I appeal to you, and I will leave the decision in your hands.


WELLS.     Or I or he
            Must die!
           Which shall it be?
SIR M.     Die thou!
            Thou art the cause of all offending!
DR. D.     Die thou!
            Yield to this decree unbending!
ALL.       Die thou!
WELLS.    So be it!  I submit!  My fate is sealed.
          To public execration thus I yield!
           (Falls on trap)
          Be happy all--leave me to my despair —
          I go – it matters not with whom – or where!

All quit their present partners, and rejoin their old lovers. Sir Marmaduke leaves Mrs. Partlet, and goes to Lady Sangazure. Aline leaves Dr. Daly, and goes to Alexis. Dr. Daly leaves Aline, and goes to Constance. Notary leaves Constance, and goes to Mrs. Partlet. All the Chorus makes a corresponding change.


GENTLEMEN.    Oh, my adored one!
LADIES.        Unmingled joy!
GENTLEMEN.    Ecstatic rapture!
LADIES.        Beloved boy!

They embrace.

SIR M.  Come to my mansion, all of you! At least
        We'll crown our rapture with another feast!



Now to the banquet we press –
 Now for the eggs and the ham –
Now for the mustard and cress –
 Now for the strawberry jam!

CHORUS. Now to the banquet, etc.


Now for the tea of our host –
 Now for the rollicking bun –
Now for the muffin and toast –
 Now for the gay Sally Lunn!

CHORUS. Now for the tea, etc.

General Dance.

During the symphony Mr. Wells sinks through the trap, amid red fire.


See also

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in 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.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address