Iolanthe/Act I


IOLANTHE;

OR,

THE PEER AND THE PERI.





ACT I.

Scene.An Arcadian Landscape. A river runs around the back of the Stage.

A rustic bridge crosses the river.

Enter Fairies, led by Leila, Celia, and Fleta. They trip around the stage, singing as they dance.

Chorus

Tripping hither, tripping thither,
Nobody knows why or whither;
We must dance and we must sing,
Round about our fairy ring!

Solo—Celia.

We are dainty little fairies,
Ever singing, ever dancing;
We indulge in our vagaries
In a fashion most entrancing.
If you ask the special function
Of our never-ceasing motion,
We reply, without compunction,
That we haven't any notion!

Chorus.

No, we haven't any notion!
Tripping hither, &c.

Solo—Leila.

If you ask us how we live,
Lovers all essentials give—
We can ride on lovers' sighs,
Warm ourselves in lovers' eyes,
Bathe ourselves in lovers' tears,
Clothe ourselves in lovers' fears,
Arm ourselves with lovers' darts,
Hide ourselves in lovers' hearts.
When you know us, you'll discover
That we almost live on lover!

Chorus.
Tripping hither, &c.

(At the end of chorus, all sigh wearily.)

Celia. Ah, it's all very well, but since our Queen banished Iolanthe, fairy revels have not been what they were!
Leila. Iolanthe was the life and soul of fairy land. Why, she wrote all our songs and arranged all our dances! We sing her songs and we trip her measures, but we don't enjoy ourselves!
Fleta. To think that five and twenty years have elapsed since she was banished! What could she have done to have deserved so terrible a punishment?
Leila. Something awful! She married a mortal!
Fleta. Oh! Is it injudicious to marry a mortal?
Leila. Injudicious? It strikes at the root of the whole fairy system! By our laws, the fairy who marries a mortal, dies!
Ceila But Iolanthe didn't die!

Enter Fairy Queen.

Queen. No, because your Queen, who loved her with a surpassing love, commuted her sentence to penal servitude for life, on condition that she left her husband and never communicated with him again!
Leila (aside to Celia.) That sentence of penal servitude she is now working out, on her head, at the bottom of that stream!
Queen. Yes, but when I banished her, I gave her all the pleasant places of the earth to dwell in. I'm sure I never intended that she should go and live at the bottom of a stream! It makes me perfectly wretch to think of the discomfort she must have undergone!
Leila. Think of the damp! And her chest was always delicate.
Queen. And the frogs! Ugh! I never shall enjoy any peace mind until I know why Iolanthe went to live among the frogs!
Fleta. Then why not summon her and ask her?
Queen. Why? Because if I set eyes on her I should forgive her at once!
Celia. Then why not forgive her? Twenty-five years—it's a long time!
Leila. Think how we loved her!
Queen. Loved her? What was your love to mine? Why she was invaluable to me! Who taught me to curl myself inside a buttercup? Iolanthe! Who taught me to swing upon a cobweb? Iolanthe! Who taught me to dive into a dewdrop—to nestle in a nutshell—to gambol upon gossamer? Iolanthe!
Leila. She certainly did surprising things!
Fleta. Oh give her back to us, great Queen, for your sake if not for ours! (all kneel in supplication.)
Queen (irresolute). Oh, I should be strong, but I am weak! I should be marble, but I am clay! Her punishment has been heavier than I intended. I did not mean that she should live among the frogs—and—well, well, it shall be as you wish—it shall be as you wish!

Invocation—Queen.

 

Iolanthe!
From thy dark exile thou art summoned!
Come to our call—
Come, Iolanthe!

Celia.

Iolanthe!

Leila.

Iolanthe!

All.

Come to our call,
Come, Iolanthe!

Iolanthe rises from the water. She is clad in water-weeds. She approaches the queen with head bent and arms crossed.

Iolanthe.

With humbled breast
And every hope laid low,
To thy behest,
Offended queen, I bow!

Queen. For a dark sin against our fairy laws,

We sent thee into life-long banishment;
But mercy holds her sway within our hearts—
Rise—thou art pardoned!

Iol. Rise—thou art pardoned!Pardoned!
All. Rise—thou art pardoned! Pardoned!Pardoned!
Iol. Ah!

Her weeds fall from her, and she appears clothed as a fairy. The Queen places a diamond coronet on her head, and embraces her. The others also embrace her.

Chorus.

Welcome to our hearts again,
Iolanthe! Iolanthe!
We have shared thy bitter pain,
Iolanthe! Iolanthe!
Every heart and every hand
In our loving little band
Welcome thee to fairy land,
Iolanthe!

Queen. And now, tell me, with all the world to choose from, why on earth did you decide to live at the bottom of that stream?
Iol. To be near my son, Strephon.
Queen. Bless my heart, I didn't know you had a son!
Iol. He was born soon after I left my husband by your royal command but he does not even know of his father's existence.
Fleta. How old is he?
Iol. Twenty-four.
Leila. Twenty-four! No one, to look at you, would think you had a son of twenty-four! But that's one of the advantages of being immortal. We never grow old! Is he pretty?
Iol. He's extremely pretty, but he's inclined to be stout.
All (disappointed ). Oh!
Queen. I see no objection to stoutness, in moderation.
Cel. And what is he?
Iol. He's an Arcadian shepherd and he loves Phyllis, a Ward in Chancery.
Cel. A mere shepherd! and he half a fairy!
Iol. He's a fairy down to the waist but his legs are mortal.
All. Dear me!
Queen. I have no reason to suppose that I am more curious than other people, but I confess I should like to see a person who is a fairy down to the waist, but whose legs are mortal.
Iol. Nothing easier, for here he comes!

(Enter Strephon, singing and dancing and playing on a flageolet. He does not see the fairies, who retire up stage as he enters.)

Song—Strephon.

Chorus. (aside.)

Good morrow—good mother—
Good mother—good morrow!
By some means or other,
Pray banish your sorrow!
With joy beyond telling
My bosom is swelling,
So join in a measure
Expressive of pleasure.
For I'm to be married to-day—to-day—
Yes, I'm to be married to-day!

Chorus. (aside.)

Yes, he's to be married to-day—to-day—
Yes, he's to be married to-day!

Iol. Then the Lord Chancellor has at last given his consent to your marriage with his beautiful ward, Phyllis?
Streph. Not he, indeed. To all my tearful prayers he answers me, "A shepherd lad is no fit helpmate for a ward of Chancery." I stood in court, and there I sang him songs of Arcadee, with flageolet accompaniment in vain. At first he seemed amused, so did the bar; but quickly wearying of my song and pipe, bade me get out. A servile usher, then, in crumpled bands and rusty bombazine, led me, still singing, into Chancery Lane! I'll go no more: I'll marry her to-day, and brave the upshot, be it what it may! (sees Fairies). But who are these?
Iol. Oh, Strephon! rejoice with me, my Queen has pardoned me!
Streph. Pardoned you, mother? This is good news indeed!
Iol. And these ladies are my beloved sisters.
Streph. Your sisters! Then they are my aunts! (Kneels.)
Queen. A pleasant piece of news for your bride on her wedding day.
Streph. Hush! My bride knows nothing of my fairyhood. I dare not tell her, lest it frighten her. She thinks me mortal, and prefers me so.
Leila. Your fairyhood doesn't seem to have done you much good.
Streph. Much good! It's the curse of my existence! What's the use of being half a fairy? My body can creep through a keyhole, but what's the good of that when my legs are left kicking behind? I can make myself invisible down to the waist, but that's of no use when my legs remain exposed to view? My brain is a fairy brain, but from the waist downwards I'm a gibbering idiot. My upper half is immortal, but my lower half grows older every day, and some day or other must die of old age. What's to become of my upper half when I've buried my lower half I really don't know!
Queen. I see your difficulty, but with a fairy brain you should seek an intellectual sphere of action. Let me see. I've a borough or two at my disposal. Would you like to go into Parliament?
Iol. A fairy Member! That would be delightful!
Streph. I'm afraid I should do no good there—you see, down to the waist, I'm a Tory of the most determined description, but my legs are a couple of confounded Radicals, and, on a division, they'd be sure to take me into the wrong lobby. You see they're two to one, which is a strong working majority.
Queen. Don't let that distress you; you shall be returned as a Liberal-Conservative, and your legs shall be our peculiar care.
Streph. (bowing.) I see your Majesty does not do things by halves.
Queen. No, we are fairies down to the feet.

Ensemble.

<poem>

Queen.
Fairies.
Queen.


Fairies.

Fare thee well, attractive stranger.
Fare thee well, attractive stranger.
Should'st thou be in doubt or danger.
Peril or perplexitee,
Call us, and we'll come to thee!
Call us, and we'll come to thee!
Tripping hither, tripping thither,
Nobody knows why or whither.
We must now be taking wing
To another fairy ring!

Fairies and Queen trip off. Iolanthe, who takes an affectionate farewell of her son, going off last.

Enter Phyllis, singing and dancing, and accompanying herself on a flageolet.

Song—Phyllis.

Both.

Good morrow, good lover!
Good lover, good morrow!
I prithee discover,
Steal, purchase, or borrow,
Some means of concealing
The care you are feeling,
And join in a measure
Expressive of pleasure,
For we're to be married to-day—to-day,
For we're to be married to-day!

Both.

Yes, we're to be married, &c.

Streph. (embracing her.) My Phyllis! And to-day we are to be made happy for ever !
Phyl. Well, we're to be married.
Streph. It's the same thing.
Phyl. I suppose it is. But, oh Strephon, I tremble at the step I'm taking ! I believe it's penal servitude for life to marry a Ward of Court without the Lord Chancellor's consent ! I shall be of age in two years.

Don't you think you could wait two years ?

Streph. Two years ! Why you can't have seen yourself ! Here, look at that (showing her a pocket mirror), and tell me if you think it rational to expect me to wait two years ?
Phyl. (looking at herself.) No. You're quite right—it's asking too much. One must be reasonable.
Streph. Besides, who knows what will happen in two years ? Why

you might fall in love with the Lord Chancellor himself by that time !

Phyl. Yes. He's a clean old gentleman.
Streph. As it is, half the House of Lords are sighing at your feet.
Phyl. The House of Lords are certainly extremely attentive.
Streph. Attentive ? I should think they were ! Why did five-and-twenty Liberal Peers come down to shoot over your grass-plot last autumn ? It couldn't have been the sparrows. Why did five-and-twenty Conservative Peers come down to fish your pond ? Don't tell me it was the gold-fish ! No, no—delays are dangerous, and if we are to marry, the sooner the better.

Duet—Strephon and Phyllis,

None shall part us from each other,
One in life and death are we:
All in all to one another—
I to thee and thou to me!
Thou the tree and I the flower—
Thou the idol; I the throng—
Thou the day and I the hour—
Thou the singer; I the song!

All in all since that fond meeting
When, in joy, I woke to find
Mine the heart within thee beating,
Mine the love that heart enshrined!
Thou the stream and I the willow—
Thou the sculptor; I the clay—
Thou the ocean; I the billow—
Thou the sunrise; I the day!

Exeunt Strephon and Phyllis together.

March. Enter Procession of Peers.

Chorus.

Loudly let the trumpet bray!
Tantantara!
Gaily bang the sounding brasses!
Tzing!
As upon its lordly way
This unique procession passes,
Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!
Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
Bow, ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses!
Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses!
Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!
We are peers of highest station,
Paragons of legislation,
Pillars of the British nation!
Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!

(Enter the Lord Chancellor, followed by his trainbearer.)

Song—Lord Chancellor.

The Law is the true embodiment
Of everything that's excellent.
It has no kind of fault or flaw,
And I, my lords, embody the Law.
The constitutional guardian I
Of pretty young Wards in Chancery,
All very agreeable girls—and none
Are over the age of twenty-one.
A pleasant occupation for
A rather susceptible Chancellor!

All.

A pleasant, &c.

But though the compliment implied
Inflates me with legitimate pride,
It nevertheless can't be denied
That it has its inconvenient side.

For I'm not so old, and not so plain,
And I'm quite prepared to marry again,
But there'd be the deuce to pay in the Lords
If I fell in love with one of my Wards!
Which rather tries my temper, for
I'm such a susceptible Chancellor!

All.

Which rather, &c.

And everyone who'd marry a Ward
Must come to me for my accord,
And in my court I sit all day,
Giving agreeable girls away,
With one for him—and one for he—
And one for you—and one for ye—
And one for thou—and one for thee—
But never, oh never a one for me!
Which is exasperating, for
A highly susceptible Chancellor!

All.

Which is, &c.

Enter Lord Tolloller.

Ld. Toll. And now, my Lords, to the business of the day.
Ld. Chan. By all means. Phyllis, who is a Ward of Court, has so powerfully affected your Lordships, that you have appealed to me in a body to give her to whichever one of you she may think proper to select, and a noble lord has just gone to her cottage to request her immediate attendance. It would be idle to deny that I, myself, have the misfortune to be singularly attracted by this young person. My regard for her is rapidily undermining my constitution. Three months ago I was a stout man. I need say no more. If I could reconcile it with my duty, I should unhesitatingly award her to myself, for I can conscientiously say that I know no man who is so well-fitted to render her exceptionally happy. But such an award would be open to misconstruction, and therefore, at whatever personal inconvenience, I waive my claim.
Ld. Toll. My Lord, I desire, on the part of this House, to express its sincere sympathy with your Lordship's most painful position.
Ld. Chan. I thank your Lordships. The feelings of a Lord Chancellor who is in love with a Ward of Court are not to be envied. What is his position? Can he give his own consent to his own marriage with his own Ward? Can he marry his own Ward without his own consent? And if he marries his own Ward without his own consent, can he commit himself for contempt of his own Court? And if he commit himself for contempt of his own Court, can he appear by counsel before himself, to move for arrest of his own judgment? Ah, my lords, it is indeed painful to have to sit upon a woolsack which is stuffed with such thorns as these!

Enter Lord Mountararat.

Ld. Mount. My Lords, I have much pleasure in announcing that I have succeeded in inducing the young person to present herself at the Bar of this House.

Enter Phyllis.

Recit.—Phyllis.

My well-loved Lord and Guardian dear,
You summoned me, and I am here!

Chorus of Peers.

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

Solo—Lord Tolloller.

Of all the young ladies I know
This pretty young lady's the fairest;
Her lips have the rosiest show,
Her eyes are the richest and rarest.
Her origin's lowly, it's true,
But of birth and position we've plenty;
We've grammar and spelling for two,
And blood and behaviour for twenty!

Chorus.

Her origin's lowly, it's true,
But we've grammar and spelling for two;
Of birth and position we've plenty,
With blood and behaviour for twenty!

Solo—Earl of Mountararat.

Though the views of the House have diverged
On every conceivable motion,
All questions of Party are merged
In a frenzy of love and devotion;
If you ask us distinctly to say
What Party we claim to belong to,
We reply, without doubt or delay,
The Party I'm singing this song to!

Chorus.

If you ask us distinctly to say,
We reply, without doubt or delay,
That the Party we claim to belong to
Is the Party we're singing this song to!

Solo—Phyllis.

I'm very much pained to refuse,
But I'll stick to my pipes and my tabors;
I can spell all the words that I use,
And my grammar's as good as my neighbours'
As for birth—I was born like the rest,
My behaviour is rustic but hearty,
And I know where to turn for the best,
When I want a particular Party!

Chorus.

Though her station is none of the best,
I suppose she was born like the rest;
And she knows where to look for her hearty,
When she wants a particular party!

Recit.—Phyllis

Nay, tempt me not.
To rank I'll not be bound:
In lowly cot
Alone is virtue found!

Chorus. Nay, do not shrink from us—we will not hurt you—

The Peerage is not destitute of virtue.

Ballad—Lord Tolloller.

Spurn not the nobly born
With love affected,
Nor treat with virtuous scorn
The well connected.
High rank involves no shame—
We boast an equal claim
With him of humble name
To be respected!
Blue blood! blue blood!
When virtuous love is sought
Thy power is naught,
Though dating from the flood,
Blue blood!

Chorus.

Blue blood! Blue blood! &c.

Spare us the bitter pain
Of stern denials,
Nor with lowborn disdain
Augment our trials.
Hearts just as pure and fair
May beat in Belgrave Square
As in the lowly air
Of Seven Dials!
Blue blood! Blue blood!
Of what avail art thou
To serve us now?
Though dating from the flood,
Blue blood!

Chorus.

Blue blood! Blue blood! &c.

Recit.—Phyllis.

My Lord, it may not be.
With grief my heart is riven!
You waste your words on me,
For ah! my heart is given!

All

Given!

Phyll.

Given!

All.

Oh, horror!!!

Recit.—Lord Chancellor.

And who has dared to brave our high displeasure,
And thus defy our definite command?

(Enter Strephon—Phyllis rushes to his arms.)


Streph.

'Tis I—young Strephon! mine this priceless treasure
Against the world I claim my darling's hand!

Hello
All.
Streph.
All.
Streph.
All.
Streph.
All.

A shepherd I—
A shepherd he!
Of Arcady—
Of Arcadee!
Betrothed are we!
Betrothed are they—
And mean to be—
Espoused to-day!


ENSEMBLE.

Streph.

A shepherd I
Of Arcady,
Betrothed are we
And mean to be
Espoused to-day!

The Others.

A shepherd he
Of Arcadee,
Betrothed is he
And means to be
Espoused to-day!

Duet—Lord Mount. and Lord Toll., (aside to each other).

 

'Neath this blow,
Worse than stab of dagger—
Though we mo-
Mentarily stagger,
In each heart
Proud are we innately—
Let's depart,
Dignified and stately!

All.

Let's depart,
Dignified and stately!

Chorus of Peers

Though our hearts she's badly bruising,
In another suitor choosing,
Let's pretend it's most amusing.
Ha! ha! ha! ha! Tzing! Boom!

Exeunt all the Peers marching round stage with much dignity. Lord Chancellor separates Phyllis from Strephon and orders her off. She follows Peers. Manent Lord Chancellor and Strephon.

Lord Ch. Now, sir, what excuse have you to offer for having disobeyed an order of the Court of Chancery?
Streph. My Lord, I know no Courts of Chancery; I go by Nature's Acts of Parliament. The bees—the breeze—the seas—the rooks—the brooks—the gales—the vales—the fountains and the mountains, cry "You love this maiden—take her, we command you!" 'Tis writ in heaven by the bright barbëd dart that leaps forth into lurid light from each grim thunder-cloud. The very rain pours forth her sad and sodden sympathy! When chorussed Nature bids me take my love, shall I reply, "Nay, but a certain Chancellor forbids it?" Sir, you are England's Lord High Chancellor, but are you Chancellor of birds and trees, King of the winds and Prince of thunder-clouds?
Lord Ch. No. It's a nice point. I don't know that I ever met it before. But my difficulty is that at present there's no evidence before the Court that chorussed Nature has interested herself in the matter.
Streph. No evidence! You have my word for it. I tell you that she bade me take my love.
Lord Ch. Ah! but, my good sir, you mustn't tell us what she told you—it's not evidence. Now an affidavit from a thunderstorm, or a few words on oath from a heavy shower, would meet with all the attention they deserve.
Streph. And have you the heart to apply the prosaic rules of evidence to a case which bubbles over with poetical emotion?
Lord Ch. Distinctly. I have always kept my duty strictly before my eyes, and it is to that fact that I owe my advancement to my present distinguished position.

Song—Lord Chancellor

When I went to the Bar as 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 rogue or a thief
Is a gentleman worthy implicit belief,
Because his attorney has sent me a brief,
(Said I to myself—said I!)

I'll never throw dust in a juryman's eyes,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
Or hoodwink a judge who is not over-wise,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
Or assume that the witnesses summoned in force
In Exchequer, Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, or Divorce,
Have perjured themselves as a matter of course,
(Said I to myself—said I!)

Ere I go into court I will read my brief through,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
And I'll never take work I'm unable to do,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
My learned profession I'll never disgrace
By taking a fee with a grin on my face,
When I haven't been there to attend to the case,
(Said I to myself—said I!)

In other professions in which men engage,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
The Army, the Navy, the Church, and the Stage,
(Said I to myself—said I,)
Professional licence, if carried too far,
Your chance of promotion will certainly mar—
And I fancy the rule might apply to the Bar,
(Said I to myself—said I!).

[Exit Lord Chancellor.

To Strephon, who is in tears, enter Iolanthe.

Streph. Oh, Phyllis, Phyllis! To be taken from you just as I was on the point of making you my own! Oh, it's too much—it is too much!
Iol. My son in tears—and on his wedding day!
Streph. My wedding day! Oh, mother, weep with me, for the Law has interposed between us, and the Lord Chancellor has separated us for ever!
Iol. The Lord Chancellor! (aside.) Oh, if he did but know!
Streph. (overhearing her.) If he did but know what?
Iol. No matter! The Lord Chancellor has no power over you. Remember you are half a fairy. You can defy him—down to the waist.
Streph. Yes, but from the waist downwards he can commit me to prison for years! Of what avail is it that my body is free, if my legs are working out seven years penal servitude?
Iol. True. But take heart—our Queen has promised you her special protection. I'll go to her and lay your peculiar case before her.
Streph. My beloved mother! How can I repay the debt I owe you?

FINALE.

Quartet.

(As it commences, the Peers appear at the back, advancing unseen and on tiptoe. Mountararat and Tolloller lead Phyllis, between them, who listens in horror to what she hears).

Streph. (to Iolanthe.)

When darkly looms the day,
And all is dull and grey,
To chase the gloom away
On thee I'll call!

Phyl. (speaking aside to Mount.)

What was that?

Mount. (aside to Phyllis).

I think I heard him say,
That on a rainy day,
To while the time away,
On her he'd call!

Chorus.

We think we heard him say, &c.

(Phyllis much agitated at her lover's supposed faithlessness.)
Iol. (to Strephon).

When tempests wreck thy bark,
And all is drear and dark,
If thou shouldst need an Ark,
I'll give thee one!

Phyll. (speaking aside to Tolloller).

What was that?

Tol. (aside to Phyllis).

I heard the minx remark,
She'd meet him after dark,
Inside St. James's Park,
And give him one!

All.

The prospect's not so bad,
My/Thy heart so sore and sad
May very soon be glad
As summer sun;
But while the sky is dark,
And tempests wreck my/thy bark,
If I should/thous shouldst need an Ark,
Thou'lt/I'll give me/thee one!

Phyll. (revealing herself).

Ah!

(Iolanthe and Strephon much confused.)
Phyll.

Oh, shameless one, tremble!
Nay, do not endeavour
Thy fault to dissemble,
We part—and for ever!
I worshipped him blindly,
He worships another—

Streph.

Attend to me kindly,
This lady's my mother!

Phyll.

This lady's his what?

Streph.

This lady's my mother!

Tenors.

This lady's his what?

Basses.

He says she's his mother!

They point derisively to Iolanthe, laughing heartily at her. She clings for protection to Strephon.

Enter Lord Chancellor. Iolanthe veils herself.
Lord Ch.

What means this mirth unseemly,
That shakes the listening earth?

Lord Tol.

The joke is good extremely,
And justifies our mirth.

Lord Mount.

This gentleman is seen,
With a maid of seventeen,
A taking of his dolce far niente;
And wonders he'd achieve,
For he asks us to believe
She's his mother—and he's nearly five-and-twenty!

Lord Ch.

Recollect yourself, I pray,
And be careful what you say—
As the ancient Romans said, festina lente.
For I really do not see
How so young a girl could be
The mother of a man of five-and-twenty.

All.

Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

Streph.

My Lord, of evidence I have no dearth—
She is—has been—my mother, from my birth!

Ballad.

In babyhood
Upon her lap I lay,
With infant food
She moistenèd my clay:
Had she withheld
The succour she supplied,
By hunger quelled,
Your Strephon might have died!

Lord Ch. (much moved)

Had that refreshment been denied,
Indeed our Strephon might have died!

All. (much affected)

Had that refreshment been denied,
Indeed our Strephon might have died!

Lord Mount.

But as she's not
His mother, it appears,
Why weep these hot
Unnecessary tears?
And by what laws
Should we, so joyously,
Rejoice, because
Our Strephon didn't die?
Oh, rather let us pipe our eye,
Because our Strephon didn't die!

All.

That's very true—let's pipe our eye
Because our Strephon didn't die!

(All weep. Iolanthe, who has succeeded in hiding her face from Lord Chancellor, escapes unnoticed.)
Phyl.

Go, traitorous one—for ever we must part:
To one of you, my Lords, I give my heart!

All.

Oh, rapture!

Streph.

Hear me, Phyllis, ere you leave me!

Phyl.

Not a word—you did deceive me!

All.

Not a word—you did deceive her!

Ballad—Phyllis

For riches and rank I do not long
Their pleasures are false and vain:
I gave up the love of a lordly throng
For the love of a simple swain.
But now that that simple swain's untrue,
With sorrowful heart I turn to you—
A heart that's aching,
Quaking, breaking,
As sorrowful hearts are wont to do!

The riches and rank that you befall
Are the only baits you use,
So the richest and rankiest of you all
My sorrowful heart shall choose.
As none are so noble—none so rich
As this couple of lords, I'll find a niche,
In my heart that's aching,
Quaking, breaking,
For one of you two—and I don't care which!

Ensemble

Phyl.

To you I give my heart so rich!

All.

To which?

Phyl.

I do not care!
To you I yield—it is my doom!

All.

To whom?

Phyl.

I'm not aware!
I'm yours for life if you but choose.

All.

She's whose?

Phyl.

That's your affair;
I'll be a countess, shall I not?

All.

Of what?

Phyl.

I do not care!

All.

Lucky little lady!
Strephon's lot is shady;
Rank, it seems, is vital,
"Countess" is the title,
But of what I'm not aware!

Streph.


Can I inactive see my fortune fade?
No, no!
Mighty protectress, hasten to my aid!

Enter Fairies, tripping, headed by Celia. Leila and Fleta, and followed by Queen.

Chorus of Fairies.

Tripping hither, tripping thither,
Nobody knows why or whither;
Why you want us we don't know,
But you've summoned us, and so
Enter all the little fairies
To their usual tripping measure!
To oblige you all our care is—
Tell us, pray, what is your pleasure!

Streph.

The lady of my love has caught me talking to another—

All.

Oh, fie! Strephon is a rogue!

Streph.

I tell her very plainly that the lady is my mother—

All.

Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

Streph.

She won't believe my statement, and declares we must be parted,
Because on a career of double dealing I have started,
Then gives her hand to one of these, and leaves me broken-hearted—

All.

Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

Queen.

Ah, cruel ones, to part two faithful lovers from each other!

All.

Oh, fie! Strephon is a rogue!

Queen.

You've done him an injustice, for the lady is his mother!

All.

Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

Lord Ch. (aside.)

That fable perhaps may serve his turn as well as any other.
I didn't see her face, but if they fondled one another,
And she's but seventeen—I don't believe it was his mother!

All.

Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

Lord Toll.

I've often had a use
For a thorough-bred excuse
Of a sudden (which is English for "repentè")
But of all I ever heard
This is much the most absurd,
For she's seventeen and he is five-and-twenty!

All.

He says she is his mother, and he's four or five-and-twenty!
Oh, fie, Strephon is a rogue!

Lord Mount.

Now listen, pray, to me,
For this paradox will be
Carried nobody at all contradicente.
Her age, upon the date
Of his birth, was minus eight,
If she's seventeen, and he is five-and-twenty!

All.

To say she is his mother is an utter bit of folly!
Oh, fie, Strephon is a rogue!
Perhaps his brain is addled, and it's very melancholy!
Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

 

I wouldn't say a word that could be construed as injurious,
But to find a mother younger than her son is very curious,
And that's a kind of mother that is usually spurious.
Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay!

Ld. Chan.

Go away, madam;
I should say, madam,
You display, madam,
Shocking taste.

It is rude, madam,
To intrude, madam,
With your brood, madam,
Brazen-faced!

You come here, madam,
Interfere, madam,
With a peer, madam.
(I am one).

You're aware, madam,
What you dare, madam,
So take care, madam,
And begone!

ENSEMBLE.

Fairies (to Queen).

Let us stay, madam,
I should say, madam,
They display, madam,
Shocking taste.

It is rude, madam,
To allude, madam,
To your brood, madam,
Brazen-faced!

We don't fear, madam,
Any peer, madam,
Though, my dear madam,
This is one.

They will stare, madam,
When aware, madam,
What they dare, madam—
What they've done!

Peers.

Go away, madam;
I should say, madam,
You display, madam,
Shocking taste.

It is rude, madam,
To intrude, madam,
With your brood, madam,
Brazen-faced!

You come here, madam,
Interfere, madam,
With a peer, madam.
(I am one).

You're aware, madam,
What you dare, madam,
So take care, madam,
And begone!

Queen. (furious).

Bearded by these puny mortals!
I will launch from fairy portals
All the most terrific thunders
In my armoury of wonders!

Phyl. (aside).

Should they launch terrific wonders,
All would then repent their blunders

Queen.

Oh! Chancellor unwary
It's highly necessary
Your tongue to teach
Respectful speech—
Your attitude to vary!

Your badinage so airy,
Your manner arbitrary,
Are out of place
When face to face
With an influential Fairy!

All the Peers (aside).

I never knew
We were speaking to
An influential Fairy!

Lord Ch.

A plague on this vagary!
I'm in a nice quandary!
Of hasty tone
With dames unknown;
I ought to be more chary!
It seems that she's a fairy
From Andersen's library,
And I took her for
The proprietor
Of a Ladies' Seminary!

All.

He/We took her for
The proprietor
Of a Ladies' Seminary!

Queen.

When next your Houses do assemble,
You may tremble!

Celia.

Our wrath, when gentlemen offend us,
Is tremendous!

Leila.

They meet, who underrate our calling,
Doom appalling!

Queen.

Take down our sentence as we speak it,
And he shall wreak it!

(Indicating Strephon.)

Queen.

Henceforth, Strephon, cast away
Crooks and pipes and ribbons so gay—
Flocks and herds that bleat and low;
Into Parliament you shall go!

Fairies.

Into Parliament he shall go!
Backed by our supreme authority,
He'll command a large majority:
Into Parliament he shall go!

Queen.

In the Parliamentary hive,
Liberal or Conservative—
Whig or Tory—I don't know—
But into Parliament you shall go!

Fairies.

 Into Parliament, &c.

Peers. Ah, spare us!

Queen (speaking through music).

Every bill and every measure
That may gratify his pleasure,
Though your fury it arouses,
Shall be passed by both your Houses!
You shall sit, if he sees reason,
Through the grouse and salmon season:
He shall end the cherished rights
You enjoy on Wednesday nights:
He shall prick that annual blister,
Marriage with deceased wife's sister:
Titles shall ennoble, then,
All the Common Councilmen:
Peers shall teem in Christendom,
And a Duke's exalted station
Be attainable by Com-
Petitive Examination!

Peers.
Oh, horror!

Fairies & Phyllis.
Their horror!
They can't dissemble
Nor hide the fear that makes them tremble!

ENSEMBLE.

Peers.

Young Strephon is the kind of lout
We do not care a fig about!
We cannot s
What evils may
Result in consequence.

But lordly vengeance will pursue
All kinds of common people who
Oppose our views,
Or boldly choose
To offer us offence.

He'd better fly at humbler game,
Or our forbearance he must claim
If he'd escape
In any shape
A very painful wrench!

Your powers we dauntlessly pooh-pooh:
A dire revenge will fall on you
If you besiege
Our high prestige
(The word "prestige" is French).

Fairies, Phyllis, and Strephon.

With Strephon for your foe, no doubt,
A fearful prospect opens out,
And who shall say
What evils may
Result in consequence?

A hideous vengeance will pursue
All noblemen who venture to
Oppose his views,
Or boldly choose
To offer him offence.

'Twill plunge them into grief and shame;
His kind forbearance they must claim,
If they'd escape
In any shape
A very painful wrench.

Although our threats you now pooh-pooh,
A dire revenge will fall on you,
Should he besiege
Your high prestige
(The word "prestige" is French.)

Peers.

Our lordly style
You shall not quench
With base canaille!

Fairies.

(That word is French.)

Peers.

Distinction ebbs
Before a herd
Of vulgar plebs!

Fairies.

(A Latin word.)

Peers.

'Twould fill with joy,
And madness stark
The ὁι πολλοι!

Fairies.

(A Greek remark.)

Peers.

You needn't wait,
Away you fly!
Your threatened hate
We thus defy!

Fairies.

We will not wait,
We go sky-high!
Our threatened hate
You won't defy!

Fairies.

Your lordly style
We'll quickly quench
With base canaille

Peers.

(That word is French!)

Fairies.

Distinction ebbs
Before a herd
Of vulgar plebs!

Peers.

(A Latin word).

Fairies.

'Twill fill with joy
And madness stark
The ὁι πολλοι!

Peers.

(A Greek remark).

Peers.

You needn't wait,
Away you fly—
Your threatened hate
We won't defy!

Fairies.

We will not wait,
We go, sky high,
Our threatened hate
You won't defy!

Fairies threaten Peers with their wands. Peers kneel as begging for mercy. Phyllis implores Strephon to relent. He casts her from him, and she falls fainting into the arms of Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller.


End of Act. I.