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alt=A Parody on Iolanthe.   by ⁠D. Dalziel Illustrated by H. W. McVickar. The Hatch Lithographic Co. New York.


Parody on Iolanthe



The whole Illustrated by H. W. McVickar.

alt= Published by D DALZIEL   The Halch Lithographic Co. New York.

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(Respcctfully dedicated to the Conductors of the Chicago & Alton Railroad.)

(By D. Dalziel, Editor of the Chicago News-Letter.)

Scene.A fairy glade on the Chicago & Alton Railway, at Holy Cross, Illinois. The country bears evidence of the utmost prosperity. It is early in June, yet the fields for miles in every direction are waving with already ripened grain that is going to take first prize at the next National Exhibition. The ensuing scene occurs in the brief interval allowed for purposes of safety between the trains on this road. Chorus of fairies, discovered dancing over the wheat stocks.

(Enter Rocky Mountain Fairies, led by Leila, Ceila, and Fleto.)


Tripping always, tripping ever,
By each glen, each rock, each river,
We must twirl and we must twine
Round about the Alton line.


If you ask us how we ride.
See our cars and step inside:
Cars of most convenient size,
Cars enchanting tourists' eyes,
Pullman Palace sleeping cars.
Free from dust, from noise, from jars
Cars with soft reclining chairs,
Where we nestle free from cares;
Cars no cynic can place fault on,
Chicago, Kansas City, Alton.
Spite of distance, time, or weather,
See three cities link'd together.

CEILA—That is extremely true and very pretty. Moreover, it is a very noble employment, this acting in behalf of the foremost railway of the world. Still, we are not altogether happy. Since our queen banished Iolanthe, our life has not been a transcendent one.
LEILA—Ah, Iolanthe was a whole team, and, like the Alton Road, she was the only one in the crowd who carried a proper train. But according to the laws of Fairydom, she committed an unpardonable sin. The fairy who marries a mortal must die.
CEILA—But Iolanthe is not dead. (Enter Fairy Queen.)
QUEEN—No, because your queen, who loved her as much as a member of the State legislature loves a railway pass, commuted her sentence to travel for life on other lines, and sooner than do it she confined herself in a pond.
LEILA—And she is now working out her sentence in Iowa.
QUEEN—Yes. I gave her the choice of States. I am sure I never intended that she should go and live under a culvert beneath the bank of an Iowa railway.
LEILA—It must be damp there, and her chest was always delicate.
QUEEN—Yes. An Iowa railway is hardly the place to send a delicate chest. Even an iron-bound trunk has no show on any other line than the Chicago & Alton. I do not understand why she went there.
ALL—How terrible: but, O Queen, forgive her.
QUEEN—I 've half a mind to.
LEILA—Make it half and half, and wholly do it.
QUEEN—Well, it shall be as you wish. Arise, lolanthe.

(Iolanthe arises.)

IOLANTHE—Must I again reflect my grievous fault on——
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QUEEN—Oh, no; we bring you back to bliss and Alton. And now tell me: with all the world to choose from, why on earth did you go to live at the bottom of that Iowa culvert?

IOLANTHE—To be near my son Strephon.

QUEEN—Your son! I did n't know you had a son. I hardly think you 'd oughter, Iolanthe.

IOLANTHE—He was born shortly after I left my husband at your royal command.

LEILA—What is he?

IOLANTHE—He is an Arcadian brakesman. He is one of those extremely pure young persons who have passed a competitive examination of intelligence before they can become anything on the Alton Road. Ah, here he is.

(Enter Strephon.)

Good morrow, good mother;
I 'm to be married to-morrow.

IOLANTHE—Then the Counselor has at last given his consent to your marriage with his beautiful ward Phyllis.

STREPHON—Alas! no. He is obdurate. He wants nothing less than a General Passenger Agent.

QUEEN—But how to get round this difficulty with the Counselor. Should you like to be a General Passenger Agent?

STREPHON—That would hardly do. You see I am half human, half fairy. My body is of the Alton Fairy kind, but my legs are of another line, and would be likely to take me on the wrong track.

QUEEN—Well, your fairyhood does n't seem to have interfered with your digestion.

STREPHON—It is the curse of my existence. What 's the use of being half a fairy? My body can go through the air-brake pipe, but if my legs ever get between the couplers, I 'm a goner. There is one advantage: by making myself invisible down to the waist, I have collected damages from one railway company several times, because they could n't find the rest of me after an accident. My legs, I suppose, will die some day, and then what will be the use of my bust? I can't satisfy Phyllis with half a husband.

QUEEN—Don't let your legs distract you. They shall be our peculiar care. The Alton does nothing by halves. So farewell, attractive stranger.

[Exit all.

(Enter the entire corps of officers of all the railways west of Chicago, except the C. & A. They are accompanied by a band, in which the instruments are exclusively and appropriately made of brass. The blowers in this band are the employés of the railway officers.)

Loudly let the trumpet bray. Tan-tan-ta-ra, tan-tan-ta-ra!
Proudly bang the sounding brasses, tzing, boom!
As upon its lordly way this unique procession passes.
Tan-tan-ta-ra, tan-tan-ta-ra! etc.,
Tzing, boom, tzing, boom! etc.

Bow, bow, ye lower trav'ling masses.
Bow, bow, ye folks who ask for passes;
Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses.
Tan-tan-ta-ra! Tzing, boom! etc., etc.

(At conclusion, enter Counselor.)

The law is the true embodiment
Of everything that 's excellent;
It has no kind of fault or flaw,
And I, for cash, expound the law:
A constitutional lawyer I,
For a great railway society;
A very agreeable post for me,
While my railway planks down its fee;
A solid occupation for
A money-making counselor.


And though the compliment implied

Inflates me with legitimate pride,
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It nevertheless can't be denied,
I feel its inconvenient side;
For she has lots of Alton stock,
As good as gold, and firm as a rock.
But there 'd be the deuce to pay, O Lord,
If I patch'd up a match with my wealthy ward,
Which rather gets up my dander, for
I 'm such a susceptible counselor.
So if a director would marry my ward,
He must come to me for my accord;
In the Alton office I 'll sit all day,
To hear what agreeable men may say.
But Phyllis declares she 's not for he.
She 's not for thou, and she 's not for thee,
She wont have you, and she wont have ye,
Because her mind is made up for
A Chicago & Alton director.

(Enter Lord Beeseekew.)

LORD B.—And now let us proceed to the business of the day. Few of us have done any business for many days.

COUNSELOR—True. Let us proceed more rapidly than your trains. Phyllis, my ward, has so powerfully affected you that you have let all your railways go to eternal smash, and you have asked me to give her to whichever one of you I may select. It would be idle for me to deny that I, too, have been wonderfully attracted to this young woman. My affection for her is rapidly undermining my constitution, just as it has undermined the constitutions of all your railways. But we shall hear what she has to say herself, for here she comes.

(Enter Phyllis.)


My well lov'd lord and guardian dear,
You summoned me, and I am here.


Oh, rapture! how beautiful,
How gentle, how dutiful!

(Gen. Pass. Agents make a dumb appeal to Phyllis.)


I 'm very much pain'd to refuse;
My guardian you can't lay the fault on.
The only young man I would choose
Must be from the Chicago & Alton.
That road so eclipses the rest,
Its men are so handsome and hearty,
That I know where to turn for the best,
When I want a particular party.

(Enter Strephon, the brakeman; Phyllis rushes to him.)

It must not, cannot be,
Your suits my heart has riven;
Yon jolly brakeman see,
To him my heart is given.

ALL THE G. P. A.'S—Jerusalem!

And who has dared to brave our high displeasure,
And thus defy our definite command?
'Tis I, young Strephon; mine, this rosy treasure;
Against all lines I claim my darling's hand.

(Exit all the G. P. A.'s in disgust, and with as much dignity as if they belonged to the Alton Road. Strephon and Counselor remain.)

COUNSELOR—Now, sir, how dare you fall in love with my ward?

STREPHON—Love knows no guardianship. We follow our inclinations. As I whirl along the Alton Road, all nature speaks of her love, and says "Take her." I read it on the face of the Sphinx Rock. William's Canon thunders it forth, the Snowy Range melts in sympathy with our love, the Twin Lakes are one in wishing us joy, the Bowlder Falls leap with joy at our prospective union, and from Alton to Santa Fé every bird and bush and tree choruses our bliss; and can you say nay?

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COUNSELOR—Duty before pleasure. I always keep my duty before my eyes.

When I went to the Alton, a very young man,
Said I to myself, said I,
I 'll work on a new and original plan,
Said I to myself, said I.
I 'll never assume that a road is O. K.,
That it 's perfect, in fact, like the C. and the A.,
Till I 've tried it my own and particular way,
Said I to myself, said I.

I 'll never throw dust in a passenger's eyes.
Said I to myself, said I,
Recommending a road with buncombe and lies,
Said I to myself, said I,
Or pretend that some other roads of which we read
Can equal the Alton for comfort and speed.
Or supply all the luxuries travelers need,
Said I to myself, said I.

Ere I boast of the road, I will travel it through,
Said I to myself, said I,
And see that its officers do what they can do,
Said I to myself, said I.
So I went on the road from the first to the last,
I travel'd with pleasure so safe and so fast,
That I said, such a road can ne'er be surpass'd,
Said I to myself, said I.

On all other roads by which men may go,
Said I to myself, said I,
They 're none of them safe, and they 're all of them slow,
Said I to myself, said I.

The Chicago and Alton must still be A 1.
For business, for pleasure, for health, or for fun.
Or it never could have such a character won,
Said I to myself, said I.

(This being rather a difficult song to sing, the Counselor, in reply to the deafening encore which he receives, will hand to each person in the audience a copy of the Langtry Map, a book of the Patience Parody, a copy of the Chicago News-Letter, and a folder of the Alton Road. Exit Counselor, with a skip.)

STREPHON—It 's too bad to be taken from Phyllis just when she was my own.

(Enter Iolanthe.)

IOLANTHE—What, my son in tears upon his wedding-day!

STREPHON—The Counselor, who is Phyllis's guardian, separates us forever.

IOLANTHE—Oh, if he only knew—— No matter. The Queen of our road and its fairies shall protect you. See, here they come. (Enter Fairies.)

(Strephon embraces Iolanthe, sobbing. Enter Phyllis. She sees Strephon embrace his mother, and starts violently.)


STREPHON—The little girl I love has caught me talking to another.

ALL—Oh, fie! Strephon is a rogue.

STREPHON—But then, upon my honor, that other is my mother.


Taradiddle, taradiddle, fol lol de lay.

She wont believe my statement, and declares we must be parted,
Although I 'm just as true as an Alton train when started;
And if she gets another hub, a brakeman, broken-hearted,
I shall be, taradiddle dee, taradiddle dee.

You cruel and heartless counselor to part them from each other;
You 've done him an injustice, for this lady is his mother.

That yarn requires obesity its thinness well to cover;
I did n't see her face, but he acted like her lover.
And how could she, at seventeen, be an Alton brakeman's mother?

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To say she is his mother is a fib as big as many.
Oh fie! Strephon is a rogue;
He 'll next declare the Alton 's not the best of any.
Taradiddle, taradiddle dee.

I would n't say of either what would be thought injurious;
But to find a mother younger than her son is very curious,
Just as 't would be upon our road to drop an aught that 's spurious.
Fol de ridle, fol de ridle, fol lol lay.

(Tremulo music.)

QUEEN—When next your convention does assemble, you may tremble. Our wrath when railroad heads offend us is tremendous. They must who underrate our calling "cut rates appalling." Take down our sentence as we speak it, and he shall wreak it. Henceforth, Strephon, cast away your brakeman suit and brakeman pay; another racket you shall play. Of the beauteous Alton Line, favorite Western road of mine, you a G. P. A. shall be. Gentlemen, what do you think of he?

ALL—It should be him—

QUEEN—should be him—I have n't time
UEEN—To think of my grammar; it 's very good rhyme.
And now take down my word and pleasure. Henceforth, your equal he shall be. Into your councils he shall come, in your debates he shall rule. Henceforth, it is the Alton Road you must imitate.

ALL—Have mercy!

QUEEN—From this time forth, you will have to run your trains on the same standard of excellence which marks the Alton.

(Hands every one of them a time-table of the C. & A.)

ALL—Spare us!

QUEEN—You will be forced to employ none but civil officials.

ALL—Have mercy!

QUEEN—The comfort of your passengers must be your primary consideration. (Very solemnly.) You will also be forced to run your trains according to your advertised time-table.

ALL—(Shriek)—Oh, spare us! spare us!

QUEEN—And now depart. When next your council meets, Strephon will be one of you.

(Slow music. G. P. A.'s bow to Strephon. Business, etc. Curtain.)


Scene—Interior of the Chicago & Alton Railway at Chicago. Luxurious surroundings on all sides. Ticket office opens down to the inlaid mosaic floor. Handsome divans for passengers engaged in the purchase of tickets. At the gate, waiting for passengers as they go through in swarms, is Willis, a handsome man, like all the other servants of this road, and also, like them, he is clothed in an expensive and becoming uniform.

WILLIS— (Sings.)
I often think it 's comical,
How nature always does incline
To place the best of all its boys
That 's born into this world of mine
In the road that only such employs—
The great Chicago & Alton Line.

(Enter Fairies and G. P. A.'s.)

LEILA—(Who has been attracted by the officers)—Charming persons, are they not?

CEILA—They do very well, considering whom they work for. In Alton uniforms they would look very well.

LORD BEESEEKEW—Well, we have done our best to imitate Alton, but it seems to be a failure. Why not stop this disgusting protégé of yours

CEILA—(Crying)—We can't stop him. The road has made too much headway. It is harder to kill than a Presidential boom in Indiana. (Aside.) How beautiful they all are!

(Enter Queen, who has overheard last remark.)

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QUEEN—O you shameful flirts, always running after those railway men. Don't you know it 's death to marry a mortal?

CEILA—If it were, you 'd have to execute all of us; but who would n't fall in love with a railroad man?

LEILA—Especially a Chicago & Alton man, and we are not all as tough as you are.

QUEEN—Am I tough? Look at that daisy! (Pointing to Willis.) Who are you, sir?

WILLIS—Ticket-taker Willis of the Chicago & Alton Railroad.

QUEEN—You 're a fine fellow, sir.

WILLIS—Yes, mum, I belong to the Alton.

QUEEN—(Starts)—The Alton! Ah! I, too, am not insensible to the charms of manly beauty. Look at that man! He is a fair specimen of the Alton employés—a perfect picture.

WILLIS—Yes, mum, I am generally admired, although I do not compare favorably with my fellow-employés. The standard of beauty is very high on this road. (Modestly retires.)

QUEEN—The road has taste—(To the Fairies.) Now here is a man belonging to the first road in the Union, whose physical beauty eclipses Apollo's. If I yielded to a natural impulse, I should at once be mashed by that man. But I mortify this inclination; I wrestle with it,—I subdue it, ha! ha! This is how I suppress my inclinations.


O foolish fay,
Think you, because his jacket gay
My bosom thaws, I 'd disobey
Our fairy laws? Because I fly
The road above, you think that I
This man could love.


Type of Chicago & Alton,
This heart of mine
Is truly thine.
'T is it I lay the fault on.

(Exit Fairies, sorrowfully following Fairy Queen.)

(Enter Phyllis.)

PHYLLIS—I can't think why I am not in better spirits. I am engaged to one General Freight Agent and one General Passenger Agent, and could have the whole railway association if I only said the word. As for Strephon, I hate him. No girl would care for a young man who was considerably older than his mother—though nowadays there are a good many such floating about.

(Enter Lord Beeseekew.)

LORD B.—Phyllis, my own!

PHYLLIS—How dare you! But perhaps you are the Freight Agent—or the General Passenger Agent.

LORD B.—I am—the latter.

PHYLLIS—How did you secure the distinction?

LORD B.—To be frank, because everybody was rushing for positions on the Alton, and they left the post uncovered. I have held the place a long time.

PHYLLIS—Because nobody else would have it?

LORD B.—Not so much that as because now the Alton has run our business down so, there is no money to pay salaries with, and I am willing to wait for mine. The stockholders appreciate my kindness.

(Enter Lord See Eyear.)

LORD S.—Dearest Phyllis! (Embraces her.)

PHYLLIS—The Freight Agent! Well, have you settled? Have you settled which of you it is to be?

LORD S.—It is n't quite settled. We tossed for it, but we did it in a saloon where the dice always threw sixes. We got hold of the proprietor's private set. Suppose we leave the choice to you?

PHYLLIS—How can it possibly concern me? You are both railway officials. You both get everything but your salaries, and I don't see where I am to choose. If one of you will throw up your share in your so-called railway, and admit the Alton to be, what it is, the first line in the world, I might perhaps take time to consider.

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LORD B.—We are too jealous to admit that, although we know it. The only resort now is for one of us to give way to the other. Perhaps, on the whole, she would be happier with me.

LORD S.—The chances are in your favor. The one difficulty which remains is, that if you rob me of the girl I love I must kill you. I shall give you a pass over my railroad.

LORD B.—(Shrieks with fright)—Not that! Not that! (Bursts into tears.)

LORD S.—I think you are right.—the sacrifice is too great. The sacred ties of friendship will not permit the wanton cruelties suggested, between men who love each other as we do. (They embrace.)

(Enter Counselor, very sorrowful.)

Love unrequited robs me of my rest,
Although the Alton Line is still victorious;
But in a song to tell my woes is best,
If you, kind friends, will join me in the chorius.


When on some snide road, with a terrible load, and an engine not up to an Alton one,
You lie ill at ease, in a berth filled with fleas, all ready to make an assault on one,
With your mind in a pother on this, that, and t' other,
Because, in your doubt and perplexity,
You travel'd this way, while happy as play
Goes the Chicago & Alton just next t' ye.

Then the counterpane tickles—you feel like mixed pickles,
Your pillow as hard as a bullet,
And your sheet is so small it wont cover at all,
No matter 't is which way you pull it;
Then you rave, and you swear, and tear out your hair,
With none but yourself to lay fault on,
And swear by the Heaven, if once you 're forgiven,
To abjure all lines but the Alton.

LORD B.—I am much distresst to find you so sad.

COUNSELOR—I am; I acknowledge it. It is my double capacity which does it. I am her guardian and her suitor. In my latter capacity I am over-awed by my duty in my other capacity. It unnerves me.

LORD S.—It is hard. Just think of having two capacities. Let us be truly thankful that we have no capacity at all. But take courage; nothing that I ever heard of daunted a Chicago & Alton Railroad official.

COUNSELOR—That is true, and I will be resigned. [Exeunt.

Enter Phyllis.


STREPHON—Phyllis! But I forgot. I suppose I should, madam——let me see,—what name have you decided upon?

PHYLLIS—I have n't quite made up my mind. You see, I have n't any mother to advise me.

STREPHON—No! I have.

PHYLLIS—Yes, a very young mother.

STREPHON—Not very—a couple of centuries or so.

PHYLLIS—She wears well.

STREPHON—Of course she does. She was born and reared on the C. & A. line. Besides, she 's a fairy.

PHYLLIS—I beg your pardon—a what?

STREPHON—A fairy. I 've no longer a reason to conceal the truth.

PHYLLIS—That would account for a good many things. Fairies nowadays are rather indiscreet. I suppose you are a fairy, too.

STREPHON—I 'm half a fairy and half a mortal.

PHYLLIS—Not very substantial. But why did n't you tell me?

STREPHON—I thought I might get myself disliked. There 's no use loving half a man.

PHYLLIS—Better that than to love a whole man, as they go nowadays. Forgive me.

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STREPHON—Think of the difficulties. My grandmother looks quite as young as my mother. So do all my aunts.

PHYLLIS—Then, if I catch you kissing the chambermaid, I shall know she 's only a relative in disguise.

STREPHON—In that case, I will forgive you.

PHYLLIS—Then we will be married at once. I will attend to the fairies afterward. But how about your mother?

IOLANTHE—(Entering.)—The old lady is here, and blesses you, my children,—or words to that effect.

STREPHON—But how about her guardian?

IOLANTHE—There is but one thing to do. I have been married to him for some years now. He is Strephon's father.

STREPHON—At last! I am a wise child.

IOLANTHE—And being his wife, I will assume my domestic duties. Have you a club handy?

COUNSELOR—(Enters jubilant)—It 's settled! Victory! victory! I put the case plainly to myself, although I must confess that when I addressed so important a personage as the legal adviser of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, I did so with many feelings of doubt in my mind. However, I took courage and pleaded my cause well. I said to myself, with the respect with which I always address myself, you are the legal adviser of the greatest railroad in the country, and, as such, you should not hesitate to exercise your droits de seigneur and take the girl from all competitors. I was bound to admit the force of my own argument, and so won my case. I shall marry the girl without delay. There is nothing to stand in the way.

IOLANTHE—(Comes down.)— Excepting a mere trifle.

COUNSELOR—And that is—but who are you? (Starts.) Ah! Thou livest, Iolanthe?

IOLANTHE—Never say die is the motto of the Alton Line. (She falls into his arms.)

QUEEN—(Iolanthe kneels to her.)
Once more thy vows are broken.
The Fates thy doom has spoken.  (Enter Everybody.)

LEILA—Hold! If lolanthe must die, so must we all, for we are equally guilty.

QUEEN—Equally guilty! (All kneel.)

LORD S.—Pardon them. They could not help it. The ancient traditions surrounding railway officials were too much for them, and they married us.

QUEEN—The traditions of our tribe must be imperative. They who marry mortals must die. There is no going back on the statutes.

COUNSELOR—Hold! I haven't been helping the public to obey the law all these years for nothing. Let me give your statute a whirl. (Looks it over.) Easy enough. Make it read that every fairy who marries outside the Alton Road shall die.

QUEEN—Good idea. (Does it.) And now where 's Willis?

WILLIS—Tickets, please.

QUEEN—Yes, for the matrimonial line. How would you like to be a fairy ticket-taker?

WILLIS—On the Chicago & Alton?

QUEEN—That is the statute.

WILLIS—It is one of the oldest traditions of this road that none of its employés can possibly be ill-bred, particularly to a lady. I am yours.

QUEEN—And now the only way to save our tribe from annihilation is for all you gentlemen to obey the law. Remember that any fairy who marries other than a Chicago & Alton man must die. (All shudder.)

STREPHON—And I, being in the Alton Road, will immediately employ you all and absorb all your lines. It was bound to come to that sooner or later.

COUNSELOR—The old wife is better than no wife, so here we all go to fairyland.

(The Alton uniform instantly covers them all, and their haggard, care-worn expressions are replaced by the happy, seraphic looks of men who habitually work for the C. & A. R. R.)

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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1928, 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.