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me he
seems tedious, fretful, and dictatorial. Yet his must be a mind of no
common order, or he would not dare to teach my dear father to dance a
hornpipe on the cabin table. (Sees RALPH.) Ralph Rackstraw! (Overcome by
RALPH. Aye, lady–no other than poor Ralph Rackstraw! JOS. (aside). How my heart beats! (Aloud) And why poor, Ralph? RALPH. I am poor in the essence of happiness, lady–rich only in never-
ending unrest. In me there meet a combination of antithetical elements
which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective
influences–thither by subjective emotions–wafted one moment into
blazing day, by mocking hope–plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. I hope I make myself clear, lady? JOS. Perfectly. (Aside.) His simple eloquence goes to my heart. Oh, if
I dared–but no, the thought is madness! (Aloud.) Dismiss these foolish
fancies, they torture you but needlessly. Come, make one effort. RALPH (aside). I will–one. (Aloud.) Josephine! JOS. (Indignantly). Sir!
RALPH. Aye, even though Jove’s armoury were launched at the head of the
audacious mortal whose lips, unhallowed by relationship, dared to breathe
that precious word, yet would I breathe it once, and then perchance be
silent evermore. Josephine, in one brief breath I will concentrate the
hopes, the doubts, the anxious fears of six weary months. Josephine, I am
a British sailor, and I love you!
JOS. Sir, this audacity! (Aside.) Oh, my heart, my beating heart!
(Aloud.) This unwarrantable presumption on the part of a common sailor!
(Aside.) Common! oh, the irony of the word! (Crossing, aloud.) Oh, sir,
you forget the disparity in our ranks. RALPH. I forget nothing, haughty lady. I love you desperately, my life
is in your hand–I lay it at your feet! Give me hope, and what I lack in
education and polite accomplishments, that I will endeavour to acquire.
Drive me to despair, and in death alone I shall look for consolation. I
am proud and cannot stoop to implore. I have spoken and I wait your word.
JOS. You shall not wait long. Your proffered love I haughtily reject.
Go, sir, and learn to cast your eyes on some village maiden in your own
poor rank–they should be lowered before your captain’s daughter.


JOS. Refrain, audacious tar,
Your suit from pressing, Remember what you are,
And whom addressing!
(Aside.) I’d laugh my rank to scorn In union holy,
Were he more highly born
Or I more lowly!
RALPH. Proud lady, have your way, Unfeeling beauty!
You speak and I obey,
It is my duty!
I am the lowliest tar
That sails the water,
And you, proud maiden, are My captain’s daughter!
(Aside.) My heart with anguish torn Bows down before her,
She laughs my love to scorn, Yet I adore her!

[Repeat refrain, ensemble, then exit JOSEPHINE into cabin.
RALPH. (Recit.) Can I survive this overbearing Or live a life of mad despairing, My proffered love despised, rejected? No, no, it’s not to be expected! (Calling off.)
Messmates, ahoy!
Come here! Come here!

ALL. Aye, aye, my boy,
What cheer, what cheer? Now tell us, pray,
Without delay,
What does she say– What cheer, what cheer?

RALPH (to COUSIN HEBE). The maiden treats my suit with scorn, Rejects my humble gift, my lady; She says I am ignobly born, And cuts my hopes adrift, my lady. ALL. Oh, cruel one.

DICK. She spurns your suit? Oho! Oho! I told you so, I told you so.

Shall { we } submit? Are { we } but slaves? they they
Love comes alike to high and low– Britannia’s sailors rule the waves, And shall they stoop to insult? No!
DICK. You must submit, you are but slaves; A lady she! Oho! Oho!
You lowly toilers of the waves, She spurns you all–I told you so!
RALPH. My friends, my leave of life I’m taking, For oh, my heart, my heart is breaking. When I am gone, oh, prithee tell The maid that, as I died, I loved her well!
ALL (turning away, weeping). Of life, alas! his leave he’s taking,
For ah! his faithful heart is breaking; When he is gone we’ll surely tell
The maid that, as he died, he loved her well.

[During Chorus BOATSWAIN has loaded pistol, which he hands to RALPH.

RALPH. Be warned, my messmates all Who love in rank above you–
For Josephine I fall!

[Puts pistol to his head. All the sailors stop their ears.

Enter JOSEPHINE on deck
JOS. Ah! stay your hand–I love you! ALL. Ah! stay your hand–she loves you! RALPH. (incredulously). Loves me?
JOS. Loves you!
ALL. Yes, yes–ah, yes,–she loves you!



Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen, For now the sky is all serene; The god of day–the orb of love– Has hung his ensign high above, The sky is all ablaze.

With wooing words and loving song, We’ll chase the lagging hours along, And if {I find } the maiden coy, we find
I’ll } murmur forth decorous joy We’ll
In dreamy roundelays!


He thinks he’s won his Josephine, But though the sky is now serene, A frowning thunderbolt above May end their ill-assorted love Which now is all ablaze.

Our captain, ere the day is gone, Will be extremely down upon The wicked men who art employ To make his Josephine less coy In many various ways. [Exit DICK.

JOS. This very night,
HEBE. With bated breath
RALPH. And muffled oar–
JOS. Without a light,
HEBE. As still as death,
RALPH. We’ll steal ashore
JOS. A clergyman
RALPH. Shall make us one
BOAT, At half-past ten,
JOS. And then we can
RALPH Return, for none
BOAT. Can part them then!
ALL. This very night, etc.

(DICK appears at hatchway.)

DICK. Forbear, nor carry out the scheme you’ve planned; She is a lady–you a foremast hand!
Remember, she’s your gallant captain’s daughter, And you the meanest slave that crawls the water! ALL. Back, vermin, back,
Nor mock us!
Back, vermin, back,
You shock us!
[Exit DICK

Let’s give three cheers for the sailor’s bride Who casts all thought of rank aside– Who gives up home and fortune too
For the honest love of a sailor true! For a British tar is a soaring soul As free as a mountain bird!
His energetic fist should be ready to resist A dictatorial word!
His foot should stamp and his throat should growl, His hair should twirl and his face should scowl, His eyes should flash and his breast protrude, And this should be his customary attitude–(pose).




Same Scene. Night. Awning removed. Moonlight. CAPTAIN discovered
singing on poop deck, and accompanying himself on a mandolin. LITTLE
BUTTERCUP seated on quarterdeck, gazing sentimentally at him.


Fair moon, to thee I sing,
Bright regent of the heavens, Say, why is everything
Either at sixes or at sevens? I have lived hitherto
Free from breath of slander, Beloved by all my crew–
A really popular commander. But now my kindly crew rebel,
My daughter to a tar is partial, Sir Joseph storms, and, sad to tell, He threatens a court martial! Fair moon, to thee I sing,
Bright regent of the heavens, Say, why is everything
Either at sixes or at sevens?
BUT. How sweetly he carols forth his melody to the unconscious
moon! Of whom is he thinking? Of some high-born beauty? It may be! Who is
poor Little Buttercup that she should expect his glance to fall on one so
lowly! And yet if he knew–if he only knew! CAPT. (coming down). Ah! Little Buttercup, still on board? That is
not quite right, little one. It would have been more respectable to have
gone on shore at dusk.
BUT, True, dear Captain–but the recollection of your sad pale
face seemed to chain me to the ship. I would fain see you smile before I
CAPT. Ah! Little Buttercup, I fear it will be long before I recover my accustomed cheerfulness, for misfortunes crowd upon me, and
all my old friends seem to have turned against me! BUT, Oh no–do not say “all”, dear Captain. That were unjust to
one, at least.
CAPT. True, for you are staunch to me. (Aside.) If ever I gave my
heart again, methinks it would be to such a one as this! (Aloud.) I am
touched to the heart by your innocent regard for me, and were we differently situated, I think I could have returned it. But as it is, I
fear I can never be more to you than a friend. BUT, I understand! You hold aloof from me because you are rich and
lofty–and I poor and lowly. But take care! The poor bumboat woman has
gipsy blood in her veins, and she can read destinies. CAPT. Destinies?
BUT. There is a change in store for you! CAPT. A change?
BUT. Aye–be prepared!


BUT, Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream;
Highlows pass as patent leathers; Jackdaws strut in peacock’s feathers. CAPT. (puzzled). Very true,
So they do.
BUT. Black sheep dwell in every fold; All that glitters is not gold;
Storks turn out to be but logs; Bulls are but inflated frogs.
CAPT. (puzzled). So they be,
BUT. Drops the wind and stops the mill; Turbot is ambitious brill;
Gild the farthing if you will, Yet it is a farthing still.
CAPT. (puzzled). Yes, I know.
That is so.
Though to catch your drift I’m striving, It is shady–it is shady;
I don’t see at what you’re driving, Mystic lady–mystic lady.
(Aside.) Stern conviction’s o’er me stealing, That the mystic lady’s dealing
In oracular revealing.
BUT. (aside).Stern conviction’s o’er him stealing, That the mystic lady’s dealing
In oracular revealing.
Yes, I know–
That is so!
CAPT. Though I’m anything but clever, I could talk like that for ever: Once a cat was killed by care;
Only brave deserve the fair. Very true,
So they do.
CAPT. Wink is often good as nod; Spoils the child who spares the rod; Thirsty lambs run foxy dangers;
Dogs are found in many mangers. BUT. Frequentlee,
I agree.
Paw of cat the chestnut snatches; Worn-out garments show new patches; Only count the chick that hatches; Men are grown-up catchy-catchies. BUT. Yes, I know,
That is so.
(Aside.) Though to catch my drift he’s striving, I’ll dissemble–I’ll dissemble; When he sees at what I’m driving, Let him tremble–let him tremble!


Though a mystic tone { I } borrow, you
You will } learn the truth with sorrow, I shall
Here to-day and gone to-morrow; Yes, I know–
That is so!
[At the end exit LITTLE BUTTERCUP melodramatically.

CAPT. Incomprehensible as her utterances are, I nevertheless feel that
they are dictated by a sincere regard for me. But to what new misery is
she referring? Time alone can tell!

SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, I am much disappointed with your daughter. In fact, I don’t think she will do. CAPT. She won’t do, Sir Joseph!
SIR JOSEPH. I’m afraid not. The fact is, that although I have urged my
suit with as much eloquence as is consistent with an official utterance,
I have done so hitherto without success. How do you account for this?
CAPT. Really, Sir Joseph, I hardly know. Josephine is of course sensible of your condescension.
SIR JOSEPH. She naturally would be. CAPT. But perhaps your exalted rank dazzles her. SIR JOSEPH. You think it does?
CAPT. I can hardly say; but she is a modest girl, and her social
position is far below your own. It may be that she feels she is not
worthy of you.
SIR JOSEPH. That is really a very sensible suggestion, and displays
more knowledge of human nature than I had given you credit for. CAPT. See, she comes. If your lordship would kindly reason with her and
assure her officially that it is a standing rule at the Admiralty that
love levels all ranks, her respect for an official utterance might induce
her to look upon your offer in its proper light. SIR JOSEPH. It is not unlikely. I will adopt your suggestion. But soft,
she is here. Let us withdraw, and watch our opportunity.

Enter JOSEPHINE from cabin. FIRST LORD and CAPTAIN retire


The hours creep on apace,
My guilty heart is quaking! Oh, that I might retrace
The step that I am taking! Its folly it were easy to be showing, What I am giving up and whither going. On the one hand, papa’s luxurious home, Hung with ancestral armour and old brasses, Carved oak and tapestry from distant Rome, Rare “blue and white” Venetian finger-glasses, Rich oriental rugs, luxurious sofa pillows, And everything that isn’t old, from Gillow’s. And on the other, a dark and dingy room, In some back street with stuffy children crying, Where organs yell, and clacking housewives fume, And clothes are hanging out all day a-drying. With one cracked looking-glass to see your face in,
And dinner served up in a pudding basin!

A simple sailor, lowly born, Unlettered and unknown,
Who toils for bread from early mom Till half the night has flown! No golden rank can he impart– No wealth of house or land– No fortune save his trusty heart And honest brown right hand! And yet he is so wondrous fair That love for one so passing rare, So peerless in his manly beauty, Were little else than solemn duty! Oh, god of love, and god of reason, say, Which of you twain shall my poor heart obey!


SIR JOSEPH. Madam, it has been represented to me that you are appalled
by my exalted rank. I desire to convey to you officially my assurance,
that if your hesitation is attributable to that circumstance, it is
uncalled for.
JOS. Oh! then your lordship is of opinion that married happiness is not
inconsistent with discrepancy in rank? SIR JOSEPH. I am officially of that opinion. JOS. That the high and the lowly may be truly happy together, provided
that they truly love one another?
SIR JOSEPH. Madam, I desire to convey to you officially my opinion that
love is a platform upon which all ranks meet. JOS. I thank you, Sir Joseph. I did hesitate, but I will hesitate no
longer. (Aside.) He little thinks how eloquently he has pleaded his
rival’s cause!



CAPT. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore, Though his lordship’s station’s mighty, Though stupendous be his brain, Though your tastes are mean and flighty And your fortune poor and plain, CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of { his } lordship my
With a humble captain’s child! CAPT. For a humble captain’s daughter– JOS. For a gallant captain’s daughter– SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water– JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! ALL. Let the air with joy be laden, Rend with songs the air above,
For the union of a maiden
With the man who owns her love! SIR JOSEPH. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore, Though your nautical relation (alluding to CAPT.) In my set could scarcely pass– Though you occupy a station
In the lower middle class– CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of { my } lordship your
With a humble captain’s child! CAPT. For a humble captain’s daughter– JOS. For a gallant captain’s daughter– SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water– JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! ALL. Let the air with joy be laden, Rend with songs the air above,
For the union of a maiden
With the man who owns her love!

JOS. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore I admit the jurisdiction;
Ably have you played your part; You have carried firm conviction To my hesitating heart.
CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of { my } lordship his
With a humble captain’s child! CAPT. For a humble captain’s daughter– JOS. For a gallant captain’s daughter– SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water– JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! (Aloud.) Let the air with joy be laden. CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. Ring the merry bells on board-ship– JOS. For the union of a maiden–
CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. For her union with his lordship. ALL. Rend with songs the air above
For the man who owns her love!

[Exit JOS. CAPT. Sir Joseph, I cannot express to you my delight at the happy
result of your eloquence. Your argument was unanswerable. SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, it is one of the happiest characteristics
of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably regarded
as unanswerable. [Exit SIR JOSEPH.
CAPT. At last my fond hopes are to be crowned. My only daughter is to
be the bride of a Cabinet Minister. The prospect is Elysian. (During this
speech DICK DEADEYE has entered.)
DICK. Captain.
CAPT. Deadeye! You here? Don’t! (Recoiling from him.) DICK. Ah, don’t shrink from me, Captain. I’m unpleasant to look at, and
my name’s agin me, but I ain’t as bad as I seem. CAPT. What would you with me?
DICK (mysteriously). I’m come to give you warning. CAPT. Indeed! do you propose to leave the Navy then? DICK. No, no, you misunderstand me; listen!


DICK. Kind Captain, I’ve important information, Sing hey, the kind commander that you are, About a certain intimate relation, Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH. The merry maiden and the tar.

CAPT. Good fellow, in conundrums you are speaking, Sing hey, the mystic sailor that you are; The answer to them vainly I am seeking; Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH The merry maiden and the tar.

DICK. Kind Captain, your young lady is a-sighing, Sing hey, the simple captain that you are, This very might with Rackstraw to be flying; Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH. The merry maiden and the tar.

CAPT. Good fellow, you have given timely warning, Sing hey, the thoughtful sailor that you are, I’ll talk to Master Rackstraw in the morning: Sing hey, the cat-o’-nine-tails and the tar. (Producing a

BOTH. The merry cat-o’-nine-tails and the tar!
CAPT. Dick Deadeye–I thank you for your warning–I will at once take
means to arrest their flight. This boat cloak will afford me ample
disguise–So! (Envelops himself in a mysterious cloak, holding it before
his face.)
DICK. Ha, ha! They are foiled–foiled–foiled!

Enter Crew on tiptoe, with RALPH and BOATSWAIN meeting JOSEPHINE, who
enters from cabin on tiptoe, with bundle of necessaries, and accompanied by LITTLE BUTTERCUP.


Carefully on tiptoe stealing, Breathing gently as we may,
Every step with caution feeling, We will softly steal away.

(CAPTAIN stamps)–Chord.

ALL (much alarmed). Goodness me–
Why, what was that?
DICK. Silent be,
It was the cat!
ALL. (reassured). It was–it was the cat! CAPT. (producing cat-o’-nine-tails). They’re right, it was the cat!

ALL. Pull ashore, in fashion steady, Hymen will defray the fare, For a clergyman is ready
To unite the happy pair!
(Stamp as before, and Chord.)

ALL. Goodness me,
Why, what was that?
DICK. Silent be,
Again the cat!
ALL. It was again that cat! CAPT. (aside). They’re right, it was the cat! CAPT. (throwing off cloak). Hold! (All start.) Pretty daughter of mine,
I insist upon knowing Where you may be going
With these sons of the brine, For my excellent crew,
Though foes they could thump any, Are scarcely fit company,
My daughter, for you. CREW. Now, hark at that, do!
Though foes we could thump any, We are scarcely fit company For a lady like you!

RALPH. Proud officer, that haughty lip uncurl! Vain man, suppress that supercilious sneer, For I have dared to love your matchless girl, A fact well known to all my messmates here!

CAPT. Oh, horror!

RALPH and Jos. { I } humble, poor, and lowly born, He
The meanest in the port division– The butt of epauletted scorn–
The mark of quarter-deck derision– Have } dare to raise { my } wormy eyes Has his
Above the dust to which you’d mould { me him
In manhood’s glorious pride to rise, I am } an Englishman–behold { me He is him

ALL. He is an Englishman!
BOAT. He is an Englishman!
For he himself has said it, And it’s greatly to his credit, That he is an Englishman!

ALL. That he is an Englishman! BOAT. For he might have been a Roosian, A French, or Turk, or Proosian,
Or perhaps Itali-an!

ALL. Or perhaps Itali-an!
BOAT. But in spite of all temptations To belong to other nations,
He remains an Englishman!

ALL. For in spite of all temptations, etc.
CAPT. (trying to repress his anger). In uttering a reprobation
To any British tar,
I try to speak with moderation, But you have gone too far.
I’m very sorry to disparage A humble foremast lad,
But to seek your captain’s child in marriage, Why damme, it’s too bad

[During this, COUSIN HEBE and FEMALE RELATIVES have entered.

ALL (shocked). Oh!
CAPT. Yes, damme, it’s too bad! ALL. Oh!
CAPT. and DICK DEADEYE. Yes, damme, it s too bad.

[During this, SIR JOSEPH has appeared on poop-deck. He is horrified
at the bad language.

HEBE. Did you hear him? Did you hear him? Oh, the monster overbearing!
Don’t go near him–don’t go near him– He is swearing–he is swearing! SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress, I find it is not easy to express; My amazement–my surprise–
You may learn from the expression of my eyes! CAPT. My lord–one word–the facts are not before you
The word was injudicious, I allow– But hear my explanation, I implore you, And you will be indignant too, I vow! SIR JOSEPH. I will hear of no defence, Attempt none if you’re sensible. That word of evil sense
Is wholly indefensible.
Go, ribald, get you hence To your cabin with celerity.
This is the consequence
Of ill-advised asperity

[Exit CAPTAIN, disgraced, followed by JOSEPHINE

ALL. This is the consequence,
Of ill-advised asperity! SIR JOSEPH. For I’ll teach you all, ere long, To refrain from language strong For I haven’t any sympathy for ill-bred taunts!
HEBE. No more have his sisters, nor his cousins, nor his
ALL. For he is an Englishman, etc.
SIR JOSEPH. Now, tell me, my fine fellow–for you are a fine fellow–
RALPH. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. How came your captain so far to forget himself? I am quite
sure you had given him no cause for annoyance. RALPH, Please your honour, it was thus-wise. You see I’m only a topman-
-a mere foremast hand–
SIR JOSEPH. Don’t be ashamed of that. Your position as a topman is a
very exalted one.
RALPH. Well, your honour, love burns as brightly in the fo’c’sle as it
does on the quarter-deck, and Josephine is the fairest bud that ever
blossomed upon the tree of a poor fellow’s wildest hopes.
Enter JOSEPHINE; she rushes to RALPH’S arms

JOS. Darling! (SIR JOSEPH horrified.) RALPH. She is the figurehead of my ship of life–the bright beacon that
guides me into my port of happiness–that the rarest, the purest gem that
ever sparkled on a poor but worthy fellow’s trusting brow! ALL. Very pretty, very pretty!
SIR JOSEPH. Insolent sailor, you shall repent this outrage. Seize him!
(Two Marines seize him and handcuff him.) JOS. Oh, Sir Joseph, spare him, for I love him tenderly. SIR JOSEPH. Pray, don’t. I will teach this presumptuous mariner to
discipline his affections. Have you such a thing as a dungeon on board?
ALL. We have!
DICK. They have!
SIR JOSEPH. Then load him with chains and take him there at once!


RALPH. Farewell, my own,
Light of my life, farewell! For crime unknown
I go to a dungeon cell.

JOS. I will atone.
In the meantime farewell! And all alone
Rejoice in your dungeon cell!
SIR JOSEPH. A bone, a bone
I’ll pick with this sailor fell; Let him be shown at once
At once to his dungeon cell.
He’ll hear no tone
Of the maiden he loves so well! No telephone
Communicates with his cell!
BUT. (mysteriously). But when is known The secret I have to tell,
Wide will be thrown
The door of his dungeon cell.

ALL. For crime unknown
He goes to a dungeon cell! [RALPH is led off in custody.

SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress Again it is not easy to express. My amazement, my surprise,
Again you may discover from my eyes.
ALL. How terrible the aspect of his eyes!
BUT. Hold! Ere upon your loss You lay much stress,
A long-concealed crime
I would confess.


A many years ago,
When I was young and charming, As some of you may know,
I practised baby-farming.

ALL. Now this is most alarming! When she was young and charming,
She practised baby-farming, A many years ago.

BUT. Two tender babes I nursed: One was of low condition,
The other, upper crust,
A regular patrician.

ALL (explaining to each other).
Now, this is the position: One was of low condition,
The other a patrician,
A many years ago.

BUT. Oh, bitter is my cup!
However could I do it?
I mixed those children up, And not a creature knew it!

ALL. However could you do it?
Some day, no doubt, you’ll rue it, Although no creature knew it,
So many years ago.

BUT. In time each little waif Forsook his foster-mother,
The well born babe was Ralph– Your captain was the other!!!
ALL. They left their foster-mother, The one was Ralph, our brother, Our captain was the other,
A many years ago.

SIR JOSEPH. Then I am to understand that Captain Corcoran and Ralph
were exchanged in childhood’s happy hour–that Ralph is really the
Captain, and the Captain is Ralph?
BUT. That is the idea I intended to convey, officially! SIR JOSEPH. And very well you have conveyed it. BUT. Aye! aye! yer ‘onour.
SIR JOSEPH. Dear me! Let them appear before me, at once!

[RALPH. enters as CAPTAIN; CAPTAIN as a common sailor. JOSEPHINE rushes
to his arms

JOS. My father–a common sailor!
CAPT. It is hard, is it not, my dear? SIR JOSEPH. This is a very singular occurrence; I congratulate you
both. (To RALPH.) Desire that remarkably fine seaman to step forward.
RALPH. Corcoran. Three paces to the front–march! CAPT. If what?
RALPH. If what? I don’t think I understand you. CAPT. If you please.
SIR JOSEPH. The gentleman is quite right. If you please. RALPH. Oh! If you please. (CAPTAIN steps forward.) SIR JOSEPH (to CAPTAIN).You are an extremely fine fellow. CAPT. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. So it seems that you were Ralph, and Ralph was you. CAPT. SO it seems, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. Well, I need not tell you that after this change in your
condition, a marriage with your daughter will be out of the question.
CAPT. Don’t say that, your honour–love levels all ranks. SIR JOSEPH. It does to a considerable extent, but it does not level
them as much as that. (Handing JOSEPHINE to RALPH.) Here — take her,
sir, and mind you treat her kindly. RALPH and JOS. Oh bliss, oh rapture!
CAPT. and BUT. Oh rapture, oh bliss!

SIR JOSEPH. Sad my lot and sorry, What shall I do? I cannot live alone! HEBE. Fear nothing–while I live I’ll not desert you. I’ll soothe and comfort your declining days. SIR JOSEPH. No, don’t do that.
HEBE. Yes, but indeed I’d rather– SIR JOSEPH (resigned). To-morrow morn our vows shall all be plighted,
Three loving pairs on the same day united!


Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen, The clouded sky is now serene, The god of day–the orb of love, Has hung his ensign high above, The sky is all ablaze.

With wooing words and loving song, We’ll chase the lagging hours along, And if { he finds } the maiden coy, I find
We’ll murmur forth decorous joy, In dreamy roundelay.

CAPT. For he’s the Captain of the Pinafore. ALL. And a right good captain too! CAPT. And though before my fall
I was captain of you all, I’m a member of the crew.
ALL. Although before his fall, etc. CAPT. I shall marry with a wife,
In my humble rank of life! (turning to BUT.) And you, my own, are she–
I must wander to and fro; But wherever I may go,
I shall never be untrue to thee! ALL. What, never?
CAPT. No, never!
ALL. What, never!
CAPT. Hardly ever!
ALL. Hardly ever be untrue to thee. Then give three cheers, and one cheer more For the former Captain of the Pinafore.

BUT. For he loves Little Buttercup, dear Little Buttercup,
Though I could never tell why; But still he loves Buttercup, poor Little Buttercup,
Sweet Little Buttercup, aye! ALL. For he loves, etc.

SIR JOSEPH. I’m the monarch of the sea, And when I’ve married thee (to HEBE), I’ll be true to the devotion that my love implants,
HEBE. Then good-bye to his sisters, and his cousins,
and his aunts,
Especially his cousins,
Whom he reckons up by dozens, His sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
ALL. For he is an Englishman, And he himself hath said it,
And it’s greatly to his credit That he is an Englishman!




The Peer and the Peri


PRIVATE WILLIS (of the Grenadier Guards) STREPHON (an Arcadian Shepherd)
IOLANTHE (a Fairy, Strephon’s Mother)


PHYLLIS (an Arcadian Shepherdess and Ward of Chancery)


An Arcadian Landscape


Palace Yard, Westminster


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.


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


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!


No, we haven’t any notion!
Tripping hither, etc.


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 with 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!


Yes, we live on lover!
Tripping hither, etc.
(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 Fairyland. 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! CELIA. 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. 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 wretched 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 of 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!


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

CELIA. Iolanthe!

LEILA. Iolanthe!

ALL. Come to our call, Iolanthe! Iolanthe, come!

(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. Pardoned!

ALL. Pardoned!

(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.)


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
Welcomes thee to Fairyland, 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. CELIA. And what is he?
IOL. He’s an Arcadian shepherd–and he loves Phyllis, a Ward in Chancery.
CELIA. 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.)


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! 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! My dear aunt! 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!
FAIRIES. Poor fellow!
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.


QUEEN. Fare thee well, attractive stranger. FAIRIES. Fare thee well, attractive stranger. QUEEN. Shouldst thou be in doubt or danger, Peril or perplexitee,
Call us, and we’ll come to thee! FAIRIES. Aye! 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.)


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! Yes, we’re to be married to-day!

BOTH. Yes, we’re to be married, etc.

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. Have you ever looked in the glass? PHYL. No, never.
STREPH. 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.


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!

BOTH. 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!

STREPH. 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!

BOTH. 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.)


Loudly let the trumpet bray!
Proudly bang the sounding brasses! Tzing! Boom!
As upon its lordly way
This unique procession passes, Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!
Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes! Bow, 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 train-bearer.)


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, etc.

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, etc.

And every one 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, etc.

(Enter Lord Tolloller.)

LORD TOLL. And now, my Lords, to the business of the day. LORD CH. 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 rapidly 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. (Peers: Hear, hear!) But such an award would be open to misconstruction, and therefore, at whatever personal inconvenience, I waive my claim. LORD TOLL. My Lord, I desire, on the part of this House, to express its sincere sympathy with your Lordship’s most painful position.
LORD CH. 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 judgement? 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.)

LORD MOUNT. My Lord, 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.)


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


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


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 I’ve plenty; I’ve grammar and spelling for two, And blood and behaviour for twenty! Her origin’s lowly, it’s true, I’ve grammar and spelling for two;

CHORUS. Of birth and position he’s plenty, With blood and behaviour for twenty!


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!


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!


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!


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

CHORUS. No, no; indeed high rank will never hurt you, The Peerage is not destitute of virtue.


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! Ah, blue blood!

CHORUS. When virtuous love is sought, etc.

Spare us the bitter pain
Of stern denials,
Nor with low-born 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! Ah, blue blood!

CHORUS. Of what avail art thou, etc.


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

ALL. Given!
PHYL. Yes, given!
ALL. Oh, horror!!!


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

(Enter Strephon.)

STREPH. ‘Tis I–young Strephon! mine this priceless treasure! Against the world I claim my darling’s hand!

(Phyllis rushes to his arms.)

A shepherd I–
ALL. A shepherd he!
STREPH. Of Arcady-
ALL. Of Arcadee!
STREPH. Betrothed are we!
ALL. Betrothed are they– STREPH. And mean to be-
ALL. Espoused to-day!



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


‘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!


Though our hearts she’s badly bruising, In another suitor choosing,
Let’s pretend it’s most amusing. Ha! ha! ha! Tan-ta-ra!

(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 barbed dart that leaps forth into lurid light from each grim thundercloud. The very rain pours forth her sad and sodden sympathy! When chorused 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 thunderclouds? 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 chorused 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.


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!).

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!).

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!).

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

(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’s too much!
IOL. (to Strephon, who is in tears). 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?


(As it commences, the Peers appear at the back, advancing unseen and on tiptoe. Lord Mountararat and Lord 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 Lord Mountararat). What was that?

LORD 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, etc.

(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!

PHYL. (speaking aside to Lord Tolloller). What was that?

LORD TOLL. (aside to Phyllis).
I heard the minx remark,
She’d meet him after dark,
Inside St James’s Park,
And give him one!

CHORUS. We heard the minx remark, etc.

PHYL. The prospect’s very bad.
My heart so sore and sad
Will never more be glad
As summer’s sun.

The prospect’s not so bad,
My/Thy heart so sore and sad May very soon be glad
As summer’s sun;

PHYL., IOL., LORD TOLL., STEPH., LORD MOUNT. For when the sky is dark
And tempests wreck his/thy/my bark, he should
If thou shouldst need an Ark, I should
She’ll him
I’ll give thee one!

PHYL. (revealing herself). Ah!

(Iolanthe and Strephon much confused.)

PHYL. 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!

TOLL. 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 goes for protection to Strephon.)

(Enter Lord Chancellor. Iolanthe veils herself.)

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

LORD TOLL. 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. (sternly). 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!


In babyhood
Upon her lap I lay,
With infant food
She moistened 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 did not die?
Oh rather let us pipe our eye Because our Strephon did not die!

ALL. That’s very true–let’s pipe our eye Because our Strephon did not 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. (Exit


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 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!


PHYL. (to Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller). To you I give my heart so rich!
ALL (puzzled). 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!

(Enter Strephon.)

STREPH. Can I inactive see my fortune fade? No, no!

PEERS. Ho, ho!

STREPH. Mighty protectress, hasten to my aid!

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

CHORUS Tripping hither, tripping thither. OF Nobody knows why or whither;
FAIRIES 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– PEERS. Oh, fie! young Strephon is a rogue! STREPH. I tell her very plainly that the lady is my mother– PEERS. 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–
PEERS. Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay! QUEEN. Ah, cruel ones, to separate two lovers from each other! FAIRIES. Oh, fie! our Strephon’s not a rogue! QUEEN. You’ve done him an injustice, for the lady is his mother! FAIRIES. Taradiddle, taradiddle, tol lol lay! LORD CH. That fable perhaps may serve his turn as well as any other.
(Aside.) 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!
Taradiddle, taradiddle.
ALL. Tol lol lay!

LORD TOLL. I have often had a use
For a thorough-bred excuse
Of a sudden (which is English for “repente”), But of all I ever heard
This is much the most absurd, For she’s seventeen, and he is five-and-twenty!

ALL. Though she is seventeen, and he is four or five-and-twenty!
Oh, fie! our 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!

PEERS and FAIRIES. If she is seventeen, and he is only five-and-twenty.

ALL. To say she is his mother is an utter bit of folly! Oh, fie! our 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 reckoned 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!

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

It is rude, madam,
To intrude, madam,