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With your brood, madam,

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!


FAIRIES (to QUEEN). PEERS Let us stay, madam; Go away, madam; I should say, madam, I should say, madam, They display, madam, You display, madam, Shocking taste. Shocking taste.

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

We don’t fear, madam, You come here, madam, Any peer, madam, Interfere, madam, Though, my dear madam, With a peer, madam, This is one. (I am one.)

They will stare, madam, You’re aware, madam, When aware, madam, What you dare, madam, What they dare, madam– So take care, madam, What they’ve done! And begone!

QUEEN. Bearded by these puny mortals! (furious). 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. Surely these must be immortals.
(Exit Phyllis.)

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 We never knew
(aside). We were talking 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!

PEERS. 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.)
PEERS. Oh, spare us!

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

ALL. 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!

ALL. Into Parliament, etc.

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!

QUEEN. You shall sit, if he sees reason, Through the grouse and salmon season; PEERS. No!
QUEEN. He shall end the cherished rights You enjoy on Friday nights:
QUEEN. He shall prick that annual blister, Marriage with deceased wife’s sister: PEERS. Mercy!
QUEEN. Titles shall ennoble, then, All the Common Councilmen:
PEERS. Spare us!
QUEEN. Peers shall teem in Christendom, And a Duke’s exalted station
Be attainable by Com-
Petitive Examination!


Oh, horror! Their horror
They can’t dissemble
Nor hide the fear that makes them tremble!



Young Strephon is the kind of lout With Strephon for your foe, no doubt,
We do not care a fig about! A fearful prospect opens out, We cannot say And who shall say What evils may What evils may Result in consequence. Result in consequence?

But lordly vengeance will pursue A hideous vengeance will pursue All kinds of common people who All noblemen who venture to Oppose our views, Opppose his views, Or boldly choose Or boldly choose To offer us offence. To offer him offence.

He’d better fly at humbler game, ‘Twill plunge them into grief and shame;
Or our forbearance he must claim, His kind forbearance they must claim,
If he’d escape If they’d escape In any shape In any shape
A very painful wrench! A very painful wrench.

Your powers we dauntlessly pooh-pooh: Although our threats you now pooh-pooh,
A dire revenge will fall on you. A dire revenge will fall on you, If you besiege Should he besiege Our high prestige– Your high prestige– (The word “prestige” is French). 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 hoi polloi!

FAIRIES. (A Greek remark.)

PEERS. One Latin word, one Greek remark, And one that’s French.

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 hoi polloi!
PEERS. (A Greek remark.)

FAIRIES. One Latin word, one Greek remark, And one that’s French.

You needn’t wait: We will not wait: Away you fly! We go sky-high! Your threatened hate Our threatened hate We won’t defy! You won’t defy!

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



Scene.–Palace Yard, Westminster. Westminster Hall, L. Clock tower up, R.C. Private Willis discovered on sentry, R. Moonlight.


When all night long a chap remains
On sentry-go, to chase monotony
He exercises of his brains,
That is, assuming that he’s got any. Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you. I often think it’s comical–Fal, lal, la! How Nature always does contrive–Fal, lal, la! That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative! Fal, lal, la!

When in that House M.P.’s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too, They’ve got to leave that brain outside, And vote just as their leaders tell ’em to. But then the prospect of a lot
Of dull M. P.’s in close proximity, All thinking for themselves, is what
No man can face with equanimity. Then let’s rejoice with loud Fal la–Fal la la! That Nature always does contrive–Fal lal la! That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative! Fal lal la!

(Enter Fairies, with Celia, Leila, and Fleta. They trip round stage.)


Strephon’s a Member of Parliament! Carries every Bill he chooses.
To his measures all assent–
Showing that fairies have their uses. Whigs and Tories
Dim their glories,
Giving an ear to all his stories– Lords and Commons are both in the blues! Strephon makes them shake in their shoes! Shake in their shoes!
Shake in their shoes!
Strephon makes them shake in their shoes!

(Enter Peers from Westminster Hall.)


Strephon’s a Member of Parliament! Running a-muck of all abuses.
His unqualified assent
Somehow nobody now refuses. Whigs and Tories
Dim their glories,
Giving an ear to all his stories Carrying every Bill he may wish:
Here’s a pretty kettle of fish! Kettle of fish!
Kettle of fish!
Here’s a pretty kettle of fish!

(Enter Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller from Westminster Hall.)

CELIA. You seem annoyed.
LORD MOUNT. Annoyed! I should think so! Why, this ridiculous protege of yours is playing the deuce with everything! To-night is the second reading of his Bill to throw the Peerage open to Competitive Examination!
LORD TOLL. And he’ll carry it, too! LORD MOUNT. Carry it? Of course he will! He’s a Parliamentary Pickford–he carries everything! LEILA. Yes. If you please, that’s our fault! LORD MOUNT. The deuce it is!
CELIA. Yes; we influence the members, and compel them to vote just as he wishes them to.
LEILA. It’s our system. It shortens the debates. LORD TOLL. Well, but think what it all means. I don’t so much mind for myself, but with a House of Peers with no grandfathers worth mentioning, the country must go to the dogs! LEILA. I suppose it must!
LORD MOUNT. I don’t want to say a word against brains–I’ve a great respect for brains–I often wish I had some myself–but with a House of Peers composed exclusively of people of intellect, what’s to become of the House of Commons? LEILA. I never thought of that!
LORD MOUNT. This comes of women interfering in politics. It so happens that if there is an institution in Great Britain which is not susceptible of any improvement at all, it is the House of Peers!


When Britain really ruled the waves– (In good Queen Bess’s time)
The House of Peers made no pretence To intellectual eminence,
Or scholarship sublime;
Yet Britain won her proudest bays In good Queen Bess’s glorious days!

CHORUS. Yes, Britain won, etc.

When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte, As every child can tell,
The House of Peers, throughout the war, Did nothing in particular,
And did it very well:
Yet Britain set the world ablaze In good King George’s glorious days!

CHORUS. Yes, Britain set, etc.

And while the House of Peers withholds Its legislative hand,
And noble statesmen do not itch To interfere with matters which
They do not understand,
As bright will shine Great Britain’s rays As in King George’s glorious days!

CHORUS. As bright will shine, etc.

LEILA. (who has been much attracted by the Peers during this song). Charming persons, are they not?
CELIA. Distinctly. For self-contained dignity, combined with airy condescension, give me a British Representative Peer! LORD TOLL. Then pray stop this protege of yours before it’s too late. Think of the mischief you’re doing! LEILA (crying). But we can’t stop him now. (Aside to Celia.) Aren’t they lovely! (Aloud.) Oh, why did you go and defy us, you great geese!


LEILA. In vain to us you plead– Don’t go!
Your prayers we do not heed– Don’t go!
It’s true we sigh,
But don’t suppose
A tearful eye
Forgiveness shows.
Oh, no!
We’re very cross indeed– Yes, very cross,
Don’t go!

FAIRIES. It’s true we sigh, etc.

CELIA. Your disrespectful sneers– Don’t go!
Call forth indignant tears– Don’t go!
You break our laws–
You are our foe:
We cry because
We hate you so!
You know!
You very wicked Peers!
You wicked Peers!
Don’t go!


You break our laws– Our disrespectful sneers, You are our foe: Ha, ha!
We cry because Call forth indignant tears, We hate you so! Ha, ha!
You know! If that’s the case, my dears– You very wicked Peers! FAIRIES. Don’t go! Don’t go! PEERS. We’ll go!

(Exeunt Lord Mountararat, Lord Tolloller, and Peers. Fairies gaze wistfully after them.)

(Enter Fairy Queen.)

QUEEN. Oh, shame–shame upon you! Is this your fidelity to the laws you are bound to obey? Know ye not that it is death to marry a mortal?
LEILA. Yes, but it’s not death to wish to marry a mortal! FLETA. If it were, you’d have to execute us all! QUEEN. Oh, this is weakness! Subdue it! CELIA. We know it’s weakness, but the weakness is so strong! LEILA. We are not all as tough as you are! QUEEN. Tough! Do you suppose that I am insensible to the effect of manly beauty? Look at that man! (Referring to Sentry.) A perfect picture! (To Sentry.) Who are you, sir? WILLIS (coming to “attention”). Private Willis, B Company, 1st Grenadier Guards.
QUEEN. You’re a very fine fellow, sir. WILLIS. I am generally admired.
QUEEN. I can quite understand it. (To Fairies.) Now here is a man whose physical attributes are simply godlike. That man has a most extraordinary effect upon me. If I yielded to a natural impulse, I should fall down and worship that man. But I mortify this inclination; I wrestle with it, and it lies beneath my feet! That is how I treat my regard for that man!


Oh, foolish fay,
Think you, because
His brave array
My bosom thaws,
I’d disobey
Our fairy laws?
Because I fly
In realms above,
In tendency
To fall in love,
Resemble I
The amorous dove?
(Aside.) Oh, amorous dove!
Type of Ovidius Naso!
This heart of mine
Is soft as thine,
Although I dare not say so!

CHORUS. Oh, amorous dove, etc.

On fire that glows
With heat intense
I turn the hose
Of common sense,
And out it goes
At small expense!
We must maintain
Our fairy law;
That is the main
On which to draw–
In that we gain
A Captain Shaw!
(Aside.) Oh, Captain Shaw!
Type of true love kept under! Could thy Brigade
With cold cascade Quench my great love, I wonder!

CHORUS. Oh, Captain Shaw! etc.

(Exeunt Fairies and Fairy Queen, sorrowfully.)

(Enter Phyllis.)

PHYL. (half crying). I can’t think why I’m not in better spirits. I’m engaged to two noblemen at once. That ought to be enough to make any girl happy. But I’m miserable! Don’t suppose it’s because I care for Strephon, for I hate him! No girl could care for a man who goes about with a mother considerably younger than himself!

(Enter Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller.)

LORD MOUNT. Phyllis! My darling!
LORD TOLL. Phyllis! My own!
PHYL. Don’t! How dare you? Oh, but perhaps you’re the two noblemen I’m engaged to?
LORD MOUNT. I am one of them.
LORD TOLL. I am the other.
PHYL. Oh, then, my darling! (to Lord Mountararat). My own! (to Lord Tolloller). Well, have you settled which it’s to be? LORD TOLL. Not altogether. It’s a difficult position. It would be hardly delicate to toss up. On the whole we would rather leave it to you.
PHYL. How can it possibly concern me? You are both EarIs, and you are both rich, and you are both plain. LORD MOUNT. So we are. At least I am. LORD TOLL. So am I.
LORD TOLL. I am indeed. Very plain. LORD MOUNT. Well, well–perhaps you are. PHYL. There’s really nothing to choose between you. If one of you would forgo his title, and distribute his estates among his Irish tenantry, why, then, I should then see a reason for accepting the other.
LORD MOUNT. Tolloller, are you prepared to make this sacrifice?
LORD MOUNT. Not even to oblige a lady? LORD TOLL. No! not even to oblige a lady. LORD MOUNT. Then, the only question is, which of us shall give way to the other? Perhaps, on the whole, she would be happier with me. I don’t know. I may be wrong.
LORD TOLL. No. I don’t know that you are. I really believe she would. But the awkward part of the thing is that if you rob me of the girl of my heart, we must fight, and one of us must die. It’s a family tradition that I have sworn to respect. It’s a painful position, for I have a very strong regard for you, George. LORD MOUNT. (much affected). My dear Thomas! LORD TOLL. You are very dear to me, George. We were boys together–at least I was. If I were to survive you, my existence would be hopelessly embittered.
LORD MOUNT. Then, my dear Thomas, you must not do it. I say it again and again–if it will have this effect upon you, you must not do it. No, no. If one of us is to destroy the other, let it be me!
LORD TOLL. No, no!
LORD MOUNT. Ah, yes!–by our boyish friendship I implore you! LORD TOLL. (much moved). Well, well, be it so. But, no–no!–I cannot consent to an act which would crush you with unavaillng remorse.
LORD MOUNT. But it would not do so. I should be very sad at first–oh, who would not be?–but it would wear off. I like you very much–but not, perhaps, as much as you like me. LORD TOLL. George, you’re a noble fellow, but that tell-tale tear betrays you. No, George; you are very fond of me, and I cannot consent to give you a week’s uneasiness on my account. LORD MOUNT. But, dear Thomas, it would not last a week! Remember, you lead the House of Lords! On your demise I shall take your place! Oh, Thomas, it would not last a day! PHYL. (coming down). Now, I do hope you’re not going to fight about me, because it’s really not worth while. LORD TOLL. (looking at her). Well, I don’t believe it is! LORD MOUNT. Nor I. The sacred ties of Friendship are paramount.


LORD TOLL. Though p’r’aps I may incur your blame, The things are few
I would not do
In Friendship’s name!

LORD MOUNT. And I may say I think the same; Not even love
Should rank above
True Friendship’s name!

PHYL. Then free me, pray; be mine the blame; Forget your craze
And go your ways
In Friendship’s name!

ALL. Oh, many a man, in Friendship’s name, Has yielded fortune, rank, and fame! But no one yet, in the world so wide, Has yielded up a promised bride!

WILLIS. Accept, O Friendship, all the same,

ALL. This sacrifice to thy dear name!

(Exeunt Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller, lovingly, in one direction, and Phyllis in another. Exit Sentry.)

(Enter Lord Chancellor, very miserable.)


Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest: Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers: Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest, And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers!


When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire–the bedclothes conspire of usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles–you feel like mixed pickles–so terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you’re hot, and you’re cross, and you tumble and toss till there’s nothing ‘twixt you and the ticking. Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick ’em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eye-balls and head ever aching.
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you’d very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich–
Which is something between a large bathing machine and a very small second-class carriage–
And you’re giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations–
They’re a ravenous horde–and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);
He’s a bit undersized, and you don’t feel surprised when he tells you he’s only eleven.
Well, you’re driving like mad with this singular lad (by the by, the ship’s now a four-wheeler),
And you’re playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that “ties pay the dealer”; But this you can’t stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you’re as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too–which they’ve somehow or other invested in–
And he’s telling the tars all the particulars of a company he’s interested in–
It’s a scheme of devices, to get at low prices all goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors), by treating retailers as though they were all vegetables–
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they’ll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree– From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries, While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant, apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys–
The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing–
You’re a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head’s on the floor, and you’ve needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg’s asleep, and you’ve cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, and a thirst that’s intense, and a general sense that you haven’t been sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed, and it’s daylight at last, and the night has been long–ditto ditto my song–and thank goodness they’re both of them over!

(Lord Chancellor falls exhausted on a seat.)

(Enter Lords Mountararat and Tolloller.)

LORD MOUNT. I am much distressed to see your Lordship in this condition.
LORD CH. Ah, my Lords, it is seldom that a Lord Chancellor has reason to envy the position of another, but I am free to confess that I would rather be two Earls engaged to Phyllis than any other half-dozen noblemen upon the face of the globe. LORD TOLL. (without enthusiasm). Yes. It’s an enviable position when you’re the only one.
LORD MOUNT. Oh yes, no doubt–most enviable. At the same time, seeing you thus, we naturally say to ourselves, “This is very sad. His Lordship is constitutionally as blithe as a bird–he trills upon the bench like a thing of song and gladness. His series of judgements in F sharp minor, given andante in six-eight time, are among the most remarkable effects ever produced in a Court of Chancery. He is, perhaps, the only living instance of a judge whose decrees have received the honour of a double encore. How can we bring ourselves to do that which will deprive the Court of Chancery of one of its most attractive features?” LORD CH. I feel the force of your remarks, but I am here in two capacities, and they clash, my Lords, they clash! I deeply grieve to say that in declining to entertain my last application to myself, I presumed to address myself in terms which render it impossible for me ever to apply to myself again. It was a most painful scene, my Lords–most painful!
LORD TOLL. This is what it is to have two capacities! Let us be thankful that we are persons of no capacity whatever. LORD MOUNT. Come, come. Remember you are a very just and kindly old gentleman, and you need have no hesitation in approaching yourself, so that you do so respectfully and with a proper show of deference.
LORD CH. Do you really think so? LORD MOUNT. I do.
LORD CH. Well, I will nerve myself to another effort, and, if that fails, I resign myself to my fate!


LORD MOUNT. If you go in
You’re sure to win–
Yours will be the charming maidie: Be your law
The ancient saw,
“Faint heart never won fair lady!”

ALL. Never, never, never,
Faint heart never won fair lady! Every journey has an end–
When at the worst affairs will mend– Dark the dawn when day is nigh– Hustle your horse and don’t say die!

LORD TOLL. He who shies
At such a prize
Is not worth a maravedi,
Be so kind
To bear in mind–
Faint heart never won fair lady!

ALL. Never, never, never,
Faint heart never won fair lady! While the sun shines make your hay– Where a will is, there’s a way– Beard the lion in his lair–
None but the brave deserve the fair!

LORD CH. I’ll take heart
And make a start–
Though I fear the prospect’s shady– Much I’d spend
To gain my end–
Faint heart never won fair lady!

ALL. Never, never, never,
Faint heart never won fair lady! Nothing venture, nothing win– Blood is thick, but water’s thin– In for a penny, in for a pound– It’s Love that makes the world go round!

(Dance, and exeunt arm-in-arm together.)

(Enter Strephon, in very low spirits.)

[The following song was deleted from production]

Fold your flapping wings,
Soaring legislature.
Stoop to little things,
Stoop to human nature.
Never need to roam
members patriotic.
Let’s begin at home,
Crime is no exotic.
Bitter is your bane
Terrible your trials
Dingy Drury Lane
Soapless Seven Dials.
Take a tipsy lout
Gathered from the gutter,
Hustle him about,
Strap him to a shutter.
What am I but he,
Washed at hours stated.
Fed on filagree,
Clothed and educated
He’s a mark of scorn
I might be another
If I had been born
Of a tipsy mother.
Take a wretched thief,
Through the city sneaking.
Pocket handkerchief
Ever, ever seeking.
What is he but I
Robbed of all my chances
Picking pockets by
force of circumstances
I might be as bad,
As unlucky, rather,
If I’d only had,
Fagin for a father.

STREPH. I suppose one ought to enjoy oneself in Parliament, when one leads both Parties, as I do! But I’m miserable, poor, broken-hearted fool that I am! Oh Phyllis, Phyllis!–

(Enter Phyllis.)
PHYL. Yes.
STREPH. (surprised). Phyllis! But I suppose I should say “My Lady.” I have not yet been informed which title your ladyship has pleased to select?
PHYL. I–I haven’t quite decided. You see, I have no mother to advise me!
STREPH. No. I have.
PHYL. Yes; a young mother.
STREPH. Not very–a couple of centuries or so. PHYL. Oh! She wears well.
STREPH. She does. She’s a fairy. PHYL. I beg your pardon–a what?
STREPH. Oh, I’ve no longer any reason to conceal the fact–she’s a fairy.
PHYL. A fairy! Well, but–that would account for a good many things! Then–I suppose you’re a fairy?
STREPH. I’m half a fairy.
PHYL. Which half?
STREPH. The upper half–down to the waistcoat. PHYL. Dear me! (Prodding him with her fingers.) There is nothing to show it!
STREPH. Don’t do that.
PHYL. But why didn’t you tell me this before? STREPH. I thought you would take a dislike to me. But as it’s all off, you may as well know the truth–I’m only half a mortal!
PHYL. (crying). But I’d rather have half a mortal I do love, than half a dozen I don’t!
STREPH. Oh, I think not–go to your half-dozen. PHYL. (crying). It’s only two! and I hate ’em! Please forgive me!
STREPH. I don’t think I ought to. Besides, all sorts of difficulties will arise. You know, my grandmother looks quite as young as my mother. So do all my aunts.
PHYL. I quite understand. Whenever I see you kissing a very young lady, I shall know it’s an elderly relative. STREPH. You will? Then, Phyllis, I think we shall be very happy! (Embracing her.)
PHYL. We won’t wait long.
STREPH. No. We might change our minds. We’ll get married first.
PHYL. And change our minds afterwards? STREPH. That’s the usual course.


STREPH. If we’re weak enough to tarry Ere we marry,
You and I,
Of the feeling I inspire
You may tire
By and by.
For peers with flowing coffers Press their offers–
That is why
I am sure we should not tarry Ere we marry,
You and I!

PHYL. If we’re weak enough to tarry Ere we marry,
You and I,
With a more attractive maiden, Jewel-laden,
You may fly.
If by chance we should be parted, Broken-hearted
I should die–
So I think we will not tarry Ere we marry,
You and I.

PHYL. But does your mother know you’re–I mean, is she aware of our engagement?

(Enter Iolanthe.)

IOL. She is; and thus she welcomes her daughter-in-law! (Kisses her.)
PHYL. She kisses just like other people! But the Lord Chancellor?
STREPH. I forgot him! Mother, none can resist your fairy eloquence; you will go to him and plead for us? IOL. (much agitated). No, no; impossible! STREPH. But our happiness–our very lives–depend upon our obtaining his consent!
PHYL. Oh, madam, you cannot refuse to do this! IOL. You know not what you ask! The Lord Chancellor is–my husband!
STREPH. and PHYL. Your husband!
IOL. My husband and your father! (Addressing Strephon, who is much moved.)
PHYLL. Then our course is plain; on his learning that Strephon is his son, all objection to our marriage will be at once removed!
IOL. No; he must never know! He believes me to have died childless, and, dearly as I love him, I am bound, under penalty of death, not to undeceive him. But see–he comes! Quick–my veil!

(Iolanthe veils herself. Strephon and Phyllis go off on tiptoe.)

(Enter Lord Chancellor.)

LORD CH. Victory! Victory! Success has crowned my efforts, and I may consider myself engaged to Phyllis! At first I wouldn’t hear of it–it was out of the question. But I took heart. I pointed out to myself that I was no stranger to myself; that, in point of fact, I had been personally acquainted with myself for some years. This had its effect. I admitted that I had watched my professional advancement with considerable interest, and I handsomely added that I yielded to no one in admiration for my private and professional virtues. This was a great point gained. I then endeavoured to work upon my feelings. Conceive my joy when I distinctly perceived a tear glistening in my own eye! Eventually, after a severe struggle with myself, I reluctantly–most reluctantly–consented.

(Iolanthe comes down veiled.)


My lord, a suppliant at your feet I kneel, Oh, listen to a mother’s fond appeal! Hear me to-night! I come in urgent need– ‘Tis for my son, young Strephon, that I plead!


He loves! If in the bygone years Thine eyes have ever shed
Tears–bitter, unavailing tears, For one untimely dead–
If, in the eventide of life, Sad thoughts of her arise,
Then let the memory of thy wife Plead for my boy–he dies!

He dies! If fondly laid aside In some old cabinet,
Memorials of thy long-dead bride Lie, dearly treasured yet,
Then let her hallowed bridal dress– Her little dainty gloves–
Her withered flowers–her faded tress– Plead for my boy–he loves!

(The Lord Chancellor is moved by this appeal. After a pause.)

LORD CH. It may not be–for so the fates decide! Learn thou that Phyllis is my promised bride. IOL. (in horror). Thy bride! No! no!
LORD CH. It shall be so!
Those who would separate us woe betide!

IOL. My doom thy lips have spoken– I plead in vain!

CHORUS OF FAIRIES (without). Forbear! forbear!

IOL. A vow already broken
I break again!

CHORUS OF FAIRIES (without). Forbear! forbear!

IOL. For him–for her–for thee
I yield my life.
Behold–it may not be!
I am thy wife.

CHORUS OF FAIRIES (without). Aiaiah! Aiaiah! Willaloo!

LORD CH. (recognizing her). Iolanthe! thou livest?

IOL. Aye!
I live! Now let me die!

(Enter Fairy Queen and Fairies. Iolanthe kneels to her.)

QUEEN. Once again thy vows are broken: Thou thyself thy doom hast spoken!

CHORUS OF FAIRIES. Aiaiah! Aiaiah! Willahalah! Willaloo!
Willahalah! Willaloo!

QUEEN. Bow thy head to Destiny:
Death thy doom, and thou shalt die!

CHORUS OF FAIRIES. Aiaiah! Aiaiah! etc.

(Peers and Sentry enter. The Queen raises her spear.)

LEILA. Hold! If Iolanthe must die, so must we all; for, as she has sinned, so have we!
QUEEN. What?
CELIA. We are all fairy duchesses, marchionesses, countesses, viscountesses, and baronesses.
LORD MOUNT. It’s our fault. They couldn’t help themselves. QUEEN. It seems they have helped themselves, and pretty freely, too! (After a pause.) You have all incurred death; but I can’t slaughter the whole company! And yet (unfolding a scroll) the law is clear–every fairy must die who marries a mortal! LORD CH. Allow me, as an old Equity draftsman, to make a suggestion. The subtleties of the legal mind are equal to the emergency. The thing is really quite simple–the insertion of a single word will do it. Let it stand that every fairy shall die who doesn’t marry a mortal, and there you are, out of your difficulty at once!
QUEEN. We like your humour. Very well! (Altering the MS. in pencil.) Private Willis!
SENTRY (coming forward). Ma’am!
QUEEN. To save my life, it is necessary that I marry at once. How should you like to be a fairy guardsman? SENTRY. Well, ma’am, I don’t think much of the British soldier who wouldn’t ill-convenience himself to save a female in distress.
QUEEN. You are a brave fellow. You’re a fairy from this moment. (Wings spring from Sentry’s shoulders.) And you, my Lords, how say you, will you join our ranks?

(Fairies kneel to Peers and implore them to do so.)

(Phyllis and Strephon enter.)

LORD MOUNT. (to Lord Tolloller). Well, now that the Peers are to be recruited entirely from persons of intelligence, I really don’t see what use we are, down here, do you, Tolloller? LORD TOLL. None whatever.
QUEEN. Good! (Wings spring from shoulders of Peers.) Then away we go to Fairyland.


PHYL. Soon as we may,
Off and away!
We’ll commence our journey airy– Happy are we–
As you can see,
Every one is now a fairy!

ALL. Every, every, every,
Every one is now a fairy!

IOL., QUEEN, Though as a general rule we know and PHYL. Two strings go to every bow, Make up your minds that grief ’twill bring If you’ve two beaux to every string.

ALL. Though as a general rule, etc.

LORDCH. Up in the sky,
Ever so high,
Pleasures come in endless series; We will arrange
Happy exchange–
House of Peers for House of Peris!

ALL. Peris, Peris, Peris,
House of Peers for House of Peris!

LORDS CH., Up in the air, sky-high, sky-high, MOUNT., Free from Wards in Chancery, and TOLL. I/He will be surely happier, for I’m/He’s such a susceptible Chancellor.

ALL. Up in the air, etc.





By William S. Gilbert Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan


NANKI-POO (his Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel, and in love with Yum-Yum).
KO-KO (Lord High Executioner of Titipu). POOH-BAH (Lord High Everything Else).
PISH-TISH (a Noble Lord).
Three Sisters–Wards of Ko-Ko:
KATISHA (an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo). Chorus of School-girls, Nobles, Guards, and Coolies.

ACT I.–Courtyard of Ko-Ko’s Official Residence. ACT II.– Ko-Ko’s Garden

First produced at the Savoy Theatre on March 14, 1885.


SCENE.–Courtyard of Ko-Ko’s Palace in Titipu. Japanese nobles discovered standing and sitting in attitudes suggested by native drawings.


If you want to know who we are,
We are gentlemen of Japan:
On many a vase and jar–
On many a screen and fan,
We figure in lively paint:
Our attitude’s queer and quaint– You’re wrong if you think it ain’t, oh!

If you think we are worked by strings, Like a Japanese marionette,
You don’t understand these things: It is simply Court etiquette.
Perhaps you suppose this throng Can’t keep it up all day long?
If that’s your idea, you’re wrong, oh!

Enter Nanki-Poo in great excitement. He carries a native guitar on his back and a bundle of ballads in his hand.


Gentlemen, I pray you tell me
Where a gentle maiden dwelleth,
Named Yum-Yum, the ward of Ko-Ko? In pity speak, oh speak I pray you!

A NOBLE. Why, who are you who ask this question? NANK. Come gather round me, and I’ll tell you.


A wandering minstrel I–
A thing of shreds and patches, Of ballads, songs and snatches,
And dreamy lullaby!

My catalogue is long,
Through every passion ranging, And to your humours changing
I tune my supple song!

Are you in sentimental mood?
I’ll sigh with you,
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
On maiden’s coldness do you brood? I’ll do so, too–
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
I’ll charm your willing ears
With songs of lovers’ fears,
While sympathetic tears
My cheeks bedew–
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!

But if patriotic sentiment is wanted, I’ve patriotic ballads cut and dried; For where’er our country’s banner may be planted, All other local banners are defied! Our warriors, in serried ranks assembled, Never quail–or they conceal it if they do– And I shouldn’t be surprised if nations trembled Before the mighty troops of Titipu!

CHORUS. We shouldn’t be surprised, etc.

NANK. And if you call for a song of the sea, We’ll heave the capstan round,
With a yeo heave ho, for the wind is free, Her anchor’s a-trip and her helm’s a-lee, Hurrah for the homeward bound!

CHORUS. Yeo-ho–heave ho–
Hurrah for the homeward bound!

To lay aloft in a howling breeze May tickle a landsman’s taste,
But the happiest hour a sailor sees Is when he’s down
At an inland town,
With his Nancy on his knees, yeo ho! And his arm around her waist!

CHORUS. Then man the capstan–off we go, As the fiddler swings us round,
With a yeo heave ho,
And a rum below,
Hurrah for the homeward bound!

A wandering minstrel I, etc.

Enter Pish-Tush.

PISH. And what may be your business with Yum-Yum? NANK. I’ll tell you. A year ago I was a member of the Titipu town band. It was my duty to take the cap round for contributions. While discharging this delicate office, I saw Yum-Yum. We loved each other at once, but she was betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, and I saw that my suit was hopeless. Overwhelmed with despair, I quitted the town. Judge of my delight when I heard, a month ago, that Ko-Ko had been con- demned to death for flirting! I hurried back at once, in the hope of finding Yum-Yum at liberty to listen to my protestations. PISH. It is true that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for flirting, but he was reprieved at the last moment, and raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner under the following remarkable circumstances:


Our great Mikado, virtuous man,
When he to rule our land began,
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
Young men might best be steadied.

So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered or winked (Unless connubially linked),
Should forthwith be beheaded.

And I expect you’ll all agree That he was right to so decree.
And I am right,
And you are right,
And all is right as right can be!

CHORUS. And you are right.
And we are right, etc

This stem decree, you’ll understand, Caused great dismay throughout the land! For young and old
And shy and bold
Were equally affected.
The youth who winked a roving eye, Or breathed a non-connubial sigh,
Was thereupon condemned to die– He usually objected.

And you’ll allow, as I expect, That he was right to so object.
And I am right,
And you are right,
And everything is quite correct!

CHORUS. And you are right,
And we are right, etc.

And so we straight let out on bail A convict from the county jail,
Whose head was next
On some pretext
Condemned to be mown off,
And made him Headsman, for we said, “Who’s next to be decapited
Cannot cut off another’s head
Until he’s cut his own off.”

And we are right, I think you’ll say, To argue in this kind of way;
And I am right,
And you are right,
And all is right–too-looral-lay!

CHORUS. And you are right,
And we are right, etc.

[Exeunt Chorus.

Enter Pooh-Bah.

NANK. Ko-Ko, the cheap tailor, Lord High Executioner of Titipu! Why, that’s the highest rank a citizen can attain! POOH. It is. Our logical Mikado, seeing no moral difference between the dignified judge who condemns a criminal to die, and the industrious mechanic who carries out the sentence, has rolled the two offices into one, and every judge is now his own executioner.
NANK. But how good of you (for I see that you are a nobleman of the highest rank) to condescend to tell all this to me, a mere strolling minstrel!
POOH. Don’t mention it. I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can’t help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once? PISH. And the salaries attached to them? You did. POOH. It is consequently my degrading duty to serve this upstart as First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral, Master of the Buckhounds, Groom of the Back Stairs, Archbishop of Titipu, and Lord Mayor, both acting and elect, all rolled into one. And at a salary! A Pooh-Bah paid for his services! I a salaried minion! But I do it! It revolts me, but I do it!
NANK. And it does you credit.
POOH. But I don’t stop at that. I go and dine with middle-class people on reasonable terms. I dance at cheap suburban parties for a moderate fee. I accept refreshment at any hands, however lowly. I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a State secret. (Nanki-Poo takes his hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult and, I think, a light one!


Young man, despair,
Likewise go to,
Yum-Yum the fair
You must not woo.
It will not do:
I’m sorry for you,
You very imperfect ablutioner! This very day
From school Yum-Yum
Will wend her way,
And homeward come,
With beat of drum
And a rum-tum-tum,
To wed the Lord High executioner! And the brass will crash,
And the trumpets bray, And they’ll cut a dash
On their wedding day.
She’ll toddle away, as all aver, With the Lord High Executioner ‘

NANK. and POOH. And the brass will crash, etc.

It’s a hopeless case,
As you may see,
And in your place
Away I’d flee;
But don’t blame me–
I’m sorry to be
Of your pleasure a diminutioner. They’ll vow their pact
Extremely soon,
In point of fact
This afternoon.
Her honeymoon
With that buffoon
At seven commences, so you shun her!

ALL. And the brass will crash, etc. [Exit


NANK. And I have journeyed for a month, or nearly, To learn that Yum-Yum, whom I love so dearly, This day to Ko-Ko is to be united!
POOH. The fact appears to be as you’ve recited: But here he comes, equipped as suits his station; He’ll give you any further information. [Exeunt Pooh-Bah and Nanki-Poo.

Enter Chorus of Nobles.

Behold the Lord High Executioner A personage of noble rank and title– A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital! Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner!

Enter Ko-Ko attended.


Taken from the county jail
By a set of curious chances;
Liberated then on bail,
On my own recognizances;
Wafted by a favouring gale
As one sometimes is in trances, To a height that few can scale,
Save by long and weary dances; Surely, never had a male
Under such like circumstances
So adventurous a tale,
Which may rank with most romances.

CHORUS. Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner, etc.

KO. Gentlemen, I’m much touched by this reception. I can only trust that by strict attention to duty I shall ensure a continuance of those favours which it will ever be my study to deserve. If I should ever be called upon to act professionally, I am happy to think that there will be no difficulty in finding plenty of people whose loss will be a distinct gain to society at large.


As some day it may happen that a victim must be found, I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little list Of society offenders who might well be underground, And who never would be missed–who never would be missed! There’s the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs– All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs– All children who are up in dates, and floor you with ’em flat– All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that–
And all third persons who on spoiling tte–ttes insist– They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed!

CHORUS. He’s got ’em on the list–he’s got ’em on the list; And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed.
There’s the banjo serenader, and the others of his race, And the piano-organist–I’ve got him on the list! And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face, They never would be missed–they never would be missed! Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own; And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy, And who “doesn’t think she waltzes, but would rather like to try”;
And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist– I don’t think she’d be missed–I’m sure she’d not he missed!

CHORUS. He’s got her on the list–he’s got her on the list; And I don’t think she’ll be missed–I’m sure she’ll not be missed!

And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife, The Judicial humorist–I’ve got him on the list! All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life– They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed. And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind, Such as–What d’ye call him–Thing’em-bob, and likewise–Never-mind,
And ‘St–‘st–‘st–and What’s-his-name, and also You-know-who– The task of filling up the blanks I’d rather leave to you. But it really doesn’t matter whom you put upon the list, For they’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed!

CHORUS. You may put ’em on the list–you may put ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed!

Enter Pooh-Bah.

KO. Pooh-Bah, it seems that the festivities in connection with my approaching marriage must last a week. I should like to do it handsomely, and I want to consult you as to the amount I ought to spend upon them.
POOH. Certainly. In which of my capacities? As First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chamberlain, Attorney General, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Privy Purse, or Private Secretary? KO. Suppose we say as Private Secretary. POOH. Speaking as your Private Secretary, I should say that, as the city will have to pay for it, don’t stint yourself, do it well.
KO. Exactly–as the city will have to pay for it. That is your advice.
POOH. As Private Secretary. Of course you will understand that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am bound to see that due economy is observed.
KO. Oh! But you said just now “Don’t stint yourself, do it well”.
POOH. As Private Secretary.
KO. And now you say that due economy must be observed. POOH. As Chancellor of the Exchequer. KO. I see. Come over here, where the Chancellor can’t hear us. (They cross the stage.) Now, as my Solicitor, how do you advise me to deal with this difficulty?
POOH. Oh, as your Solicitor, I should have no hesitation in saying “Chance it—-”
KO. Thank you. (Shaking his hand.) I will. POOH. If it were not that, as Lord Chief Justice, I am bound to see that the law isn’t violated. KO. I see. Come over here where the Chief Justice can’t hear us. (They cross the stage.) Now, then, as First Lord of the Treasury?
POOH. Of course, as First Lord of the Treasury, I could propose a special vote that would cover all expenses, if it were not that, as Leader of the Opposition, it would be my duty to resist it, tooth and nail. Or, as Paymaster General, I could so cook the accounts that, as Lord High Auditor, I should never discover the fraud. But then, as Archbishop of Titipu, it would be my duty to denounce my dishonesty and give myself into my own custody as first Commissioner of Police. KO. That’s extremely awkward.
POOH. I don’t say that all these distinguished people couldn’t be squared; but it is right to tell you that they wouldn’t be sufficiently degraded in their own estimation unless they were insulted with a very considerable bribe. KO. The matter shall have my careful consideration. But my bride and her sisters approach, and any little compliment on your part, such as an abject grovel in a characteristic Japanese attitude, would be esteemed a favour.
POOH. No money, no grovel!
[Exeunt together.

Enter procession of Yum-Yum’s schoolfellows, heralding Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, and Pitti-Sing.


Comes a train of little ladies
From scholastic trammels free, Each a little bit afraid is,
Wondering what the world can be!

Is it but a world of trouble–
Sadness set to song?
Is its beauty but a bubble
Bound to break ere long?

Are its palaces and pleasures
Fantasies that fade?
And the glory of its treasures Shadow of a shade?

Schoolgirls we, eighteen and under, From scholastic trammels free,
And we wonder–how we wonder!– What on earth the world can be!



THE THREE. Three little maids from school are we, Pert as a school-girl well can be,
Filled to the brim with girlish glee, Three little maids from school!
YUM-YUM. Everything is a source of fun. (Chuckle.) PEEP-BO. Nobody’s safe, for we care for none! (Chuckle.) PITTI-SING. Life is a joke that’s just begun! (Chuckle.) THE THREE. Three little maids from school! ALL (dancing). Three little maids who, all unwary, Come from a ladies’ seminary,
Freed from its genius tutelary– THE THREE (suddenly demure). Three little maids from school!

YUM-YUM. One little maid is a bride, Yum-Yum– PEEP-BO. Two little maids in attendance come– PITTI-SING. Three little maids is the total sum. THE THREE. Three little maids from school! YUM-YUM. From three little maids take one away. PEEP-BO. Two little maids remain, and they– PITTI-SING. Won’t have to wait very long, they say– THE THREE. Three little maids from school! ALL (dancing). Three little maids who, all unwary, Come from a ladies’ seminary,
Freed from its genius tutelary– THE THREE (suddenly demure). Three little maids from school!

Enter Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah.

KO. At last, my bride that is to be! (About to embrace her.)
YUM. You’re not going to kiss me before all these people? KO. Well, that was the idea.
YUM (aside to Peep-Bo). It seems odd, doesn’t it? PEEP. It’s rather peculiar.
PITTI. Oh, I expect it’s all right. Must have a beginning, you know.
YUM. Well, of course I know nothing about these things; but I’ve no objection if it’s usual.
KO. Oh, it’s quite usual, I think. Eh, Lord Chamberlain? (Appealing to Pooh-Bah.)
POOH. I have known it done. (Ko-Ko embraces her.) YUM. Thank goodness that’s over! (Sees Nanki-Poo, and rushes to him.) Why, that’s never you? (The three Girls rush to him and shake his hands, all speaking at once.) YUM. Oh, I’m so glad! I haven’t seen you for ever so long, and I’m right at the top of the school, and I’ve got three prizes, and I’ve come home for good, and I’m not going back any more!
PEEP. And have you got an engagement?–Yum-Yum’s got one, but she doesn’t like it, and she’d ever so much rather it was you! I’ve come home for good, and I’m not going back any more! PITTI. Now tell us all the news, because you go about everywhere, and we’ve been at school, but, thank goodness, that’s all over now, and we’ve come home for good, and we’re not going back any more!

(These three speeches are spoken together in one breath.)

KO. I beg your pardon. Will you present me? YUM. Oh, this is the musician who used– PEEP. Oh, this is the gentleman-who used– PITTI. Oh, it is only Nanki-Poo who used– KO. One at a time, if you please.
YUM. Oh, if you please he’s the gentleman who used to play so beautifully on the–on the–
PITTI. On the Marine Parade.
YUM. Yes, I think that was the name of the instrument. NANK. Sir, I have the misfortune to love your ward, Yum-Yum–oh, I know I deserve your anger! KO. Anger! not a bit, my boy. Why, I love her myself. Charming little girl, isn’t she? Pretty eyes, nice hair. Taking little thing, altogether. Very glad to hear my opinion backed by a competent authority. Thank you very much. Good-bye. (To Pish-Tush.) Take him away. (Pish-Tush removes him.) PITTI (who has been examining Pooh-Bah). I beg your pardon, but what is this? Customer come to try on? KO. That is a Tremendous Swell.
PITTI. Oh, it’s alive. (She starts back in alarm.) POOH. Go away, little girls. Can’t talk to little girls like you. Go away, there’s dears.
KO. Allow me to present you, Pooh-Bah. These are my three wards. The one in the middle is my bride elect. POOH. What do you want me to do to them? Mind, I will not kiss them.
KO. No, no, you shan’t kiss them; a little bow–a mere nothing–you needn’t mean it, you know.
POOH. It goes against the grain. They are not young ladies, they are young persons.
KO. Come, come, make an effort, there’s a good nobleman. POOH. (aside to Ko-Ko). Well, I shan’t mean it. (with a great effort.) How de do, little girls, how de do? (Aside.) Oh, my protoplasmal ancestor!
KO. That’s very good. (Girls indulge in suppressed laughter.)
POOH. I see nothing to laugh at. It is very painful to me to have to say “How de do, little girls, how de do?” to young persons. I’m not in the habit of saying “How de do, little girls, how de do?” to anybody under the rank of a Stockbroker. KO. (aside to girls). Don’t laugh at him, he can’t help it–he’s under treatment for it. (Aside to Pooh-Bah.) Never mind them, they don’t understand the delicacy of your position. POOH. We know how delicate it is, don’t we? KO. I should think we did! How a nobleman of your importance can do it at all is a thing I never can, never shall understand.
[Ko-Ko retires and goes off.


YUM, PEEP. So please you, Sir, we much regret and PITTI. If we have failed in etiquette Towards a man of rank so high–
We shall know better by and by. YUM. But youth, of course, must have its fling, So pardon us,
So pardon us,
PITTI. And don’t, in girlhood’s happy spring, Be hard on us,
Be hard on us,
If we’re inclined to dance and sing. Tra la la, etc. (Dancing.)
CHORUS OF GIRLS. But youth, of course, etc. POOH. I think you ought to recollect You cannot show too much respect Towards the highly titled few;
But nobody does, and why should you? That youth at us should have its fling, Is hard on us,
Is hard on us;
To our prerogative we cling– So pardon us,
So pardon us,
If we decline to dance and sing. Tra la la, etc. (Dancing.)
CHORUS OF GIRLS.. But youth, of course, must have its fling, etc.

[Exeunt all but Yum-Yum.

Enter Nanki-Poo.

NANK. Yum-Yum, at last we are alone! I have sought you night and day for three weeks, in the belief that your guardian was beheaded, and I find that you are about to be married to him this afternoon!
YUM. Alas, yes!
NANK. But you do not love him?
YUM. Alas, no!
NANK. Modified rapture! But why do you not refuse him? YUM. What good would that do? He’s my guardian, and he wouldn’t let me marry you!
NANK. But I would wait until you were of age! YUM. You forget that in Japan girls do not arrive at years of discretion until they are fifty.
NANK. True; from seventeen to forty-nine are considered years of indiscretion.
YUM. Besides–a wandering minstrel, who plays a wind instrument outside tea-houses, is hardly a fitting husband for the ward of a Lord High Executioner.
NANK. But—- (Aside.) Shall I tell her? Yes! She will not betray me! (Aloud.) What if it should prove that, after all, I am no musician?
YUM. There! I was certain of it, directly I heard you play!
NANK. What if it should prove that I am no other than the son of his Majesty the Mikado?
YUM. The son of the Mikado! But why is your Highness disguised? And what has your Highness done? And will your Highness promise never to do it again?
NANK. Some years ago I had the misfortune to captivate Katisha, an elderly lady of my father’s Court. She misconstrued my customary affability into expressions of affection, and claimed me in marriage, under my father’s law. My father, the Lucius Junius Brutus of his race, ordered me to marry her within a week, or perish ignominiously on the scaffold. That night I fled his Court, and, assuming the disguise of a Second Trombone, I joined the band in which you found me when I had the happiness of seeing you! (Approaching her.)
YUM. (retreating). If you please, I think your Highness had better not come too near. The laws against flirting are excessively severe.
NANK. But we are quite alone, and nobody can see us. YUM. Still, that don’t make it right. To flirt is capital. NANK. It is capital!
YUM. And we must obey the law.
NANK. Deuce take the law!
YUM. I wish it would, but it won’t! NANK. If it were not for that, how happy we might be! YUM. Happy indeed!
NANK. If it were not for the law, we should now be sitting side by side, like that. (Sits by her.)
YUM. Instead of being obliged to sit half a mile off, like that. (Crosses and sits at other side of stage.) NANK. We should be gazing into each other’s eyes, like that. (Gazing at her sentimentally.)
YUM. Breathing sighs of unutterable love–like that. (Sighing and gazing lovingly at him.)
NANK. With our arms round each other’s waists, like that. (Embracing her.)
YUM. Yes, if it wasn’t for the law. NANK. If it wasn’t for the law.
YUM. As it is, of course we couldn’t do anything of the kind.
NANK. Not for worlds!
YUM. Being engaged to Ko-Ko, you know! NANK. Being engaged to Ko-Ko!


NANK. Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted, I would say in tender tone,
“Loved one, let us be united– Let us be each other’s own!”
I would merge all rank and station, Worldly sneers are nought to us, And, to mark my admiration,
I would kiss you fondly thus– (Kisses her.) BOTH. I/He would kiss you/me fondly thus– (Kiss.) YUM. But as I’m engaged to Ko-Ko,
To embrace you thus, con fuoco, Would distinctly be no giuoco,
And for yam I should get toko–

BOTH. Toko, toko, toko, toko!

NANK. So, In spite of all temptation, Such a theme I’ll not discuss,
And on no consideration
Will I kiss you fondly thus– (Kissing her.) Let me make it clear to you,
This is what I’ll never do!
This, oh, this, oh, this, oh, this,–(Kissing her.)

TOGETHER. This, oh, this, etc.

[Exeunt in opposite directions.

Enter Ko-Ko.

KO. (looking after Yum-Yum). There she goes! To think how entirely my future happiness is wrapped up in that little parcel! Really, it hardly seems worth while! Oh, matrimony!– (Enter Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush.) Now then, what is it? Can’t you see I’m soliloquizing? You have interrupted an apostrophe, sir! PISH. I am the bearer of a letter from his Majesty the Mikado.
KO. (taking it from him reverentially). A letter from the Mikado! What in the world can he have to say to me? (Reads letter.) Ah, here it is at last! I thought it would come sooner or later! The Mikado is struck by the fact that no executions have taken place in Titipu for a year, and decrees that unless somebody is beheaded within one month the post of Lord High Executioner shall be abolished, and the city reduced to the rank of a village!
PISH. But that will involve us all in irretrievable ruin! KO. Yes. There is no help for it, I shall have to execute somebody at once. The only question is, who shall it be? POOH. Well, it seems unkind to say so, but as you’re already under sentence of death for flirting, everything seems to point to you.
KO. To me? What are you talking about? I can’t execute myself.
POOH. Why not?
KO. Why not? Because, in the first place, self decapitation is an extremely difficult, not to say dangerous, thing to attempt; and, in the second, it’s suicide, and suicide is a capital offence.
POOH. That is so, no doubt.
PISH. We might reserve that point. POOH. True, it could be argued six months hence, before the full Court.
KO. Besides, I don’t see how a man can cut off his own head.
POOH. A man might try.
PISH. Even if you only succeeded in cutting it half off, that would be something.
POOH. It would be taken as an earnest of your desire to comply with the Imperial will.
KO. No. Pardon me, but there I am adamant. As official Headsman, my reputation is at stake, and I can’t consent to embark on a professional operation unless I see my way to a successful result.
POOH. This professional conscientiousness is highly creditable to you, but it places us in a very awkward position. KO. My good sir, the awkwardness of your position is grace itself compared with that of a man engaged in the act of cutting off his own head.
PISH. I am afraid that, unless you can obtain a substitute —-
KO. A substitute? Oh, certainly–nothing easier. (To Pooh-Bah.) Pooh-Bah, I appoint you Lord High Substitute. POOH. I should be delighted. Such an appointment would realize my fondest dreams. But no, at any sacrifice, I must set bounds to my insatiable ambition!


Ko-Ko Pooh-Bah Pish-Tush

My brain it teams I am so proud, I heard one day
With endless schemes If I allowed A gentleman say
Both good and new My family pride That criminals who
For Titipu; To be my guide, Are cut in two But if I flit, I’d volunteer Can hardly feel
The benefit To quit this sphere The fatal steel,
That I’d diffuse Instead of you And so are slain
The town would lose! In a minute or two, Without much pain.
Now every man But family pride If this is true,
To aid his clan Must be denied, It’s jolly for you;
Should plot and plan And set aside, Your courage screw
As best he can, And mortified. To bid us adieu,
And so, And so, And go Although Although And show I’m ready to go, I wish to go, Both friend and foe
Yet recollect And greatly pine How much you dare.
‘Twere disrespect To brightly shine, I’m quite aware
Did I neglect And take the line It’s your affair,
To thus effect Of a hero fine, Yet I declare This aim direct, With grief condign I’d take your share,
So I object– I must decline– But I don’t much care–
So I object– I must decline– I don’t much care–
So I object– I must decline– I don’t much care–

ALL. To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock, In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock, Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock, From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block! [Exeunt Pooh.
and Pish.

KO. This is simply appalling! I, who allowed myself to be respited at the last moment, simply in order to benefit my native town, am now required to die within a month, and that by a man whom I have loaded with honours! Is this public gratitude? Is this— (Enter Nanki-Poo, with a rope in his hands.) Go away, sir! How dare you? Am I never to be permitted to soliloquize? NANK. Oh, go on–don’t mind me.
KO. What are you going to do with that rope? NANK. I am about to terminate an unendurabIe existence. KO. Terminate your existence? Oh, nonsense! What for? NANK. Because you are going to marry the girl I adore. KO. Nonsense, sir. I won’t permit it. I am a humane man, and if you attempt anything of the kind I shall order your instant arrest. Come, sir, desist at once or I summon my guard. NANK. That’s absurd. If you attempt to raise an alarm, I instantly perform the Happy Despatch with this dagger. KO. No, no, don’t do that. This is horrible! (Suddenly.) Why, you cold-blooded scoundrel, are you aware that, in taking your life, you are committing a crime which–which–which is—- Oh! (Struck by an idea.) Substitute!
NANK. What’s the matter?
KO. Is it absolutely certain that you are resolved to die? NANK. Absolutely!
KO. Will nothing shake your resolution? NANK. Nothing.
KO. Threats, entreaties, prayers–all useless? NANK. All! My mind is made up.
KO. Then, if you really mean what you say, and if you are absolutely resolved to die, and if nothing whatever will shake your determination–don’t spoil yourself by committing suicide, but be beheaded handsomely at the hands of the Public Executioner!
NANK. I don’t see how that would benefit me. KO. You don’t? Observe: you’ll have a month to live, and you’ll live like a fighting-cock at my expense. When the day comes there’ll be a grand public ceremonial–you’ll be the central figure–no one will attempt to deprive you of that distinction. There’ll be a procession–bands–dead march–bells tolling–all the girls in tears–Yum-Yum distracted–then, when it’s all over, general rejoicings, and a display of fireworks in the evening. You won’t see them, but they’ll be there all the same.
NANK. Do you think Yum-Yum would really be distracted at my death?
KO. I am convinced of it. Bless you, she’s the most tender-hearted little creature alive.
NANK. I should be sorry to cause her pain. Perhaps, after all, if I were to withdraw from Japan, and travel in Europe for a couple of years, I might contrive to forget her. KO. Oh, I don’t think you could forget Yum-Yum so easily; and, after all, what is more miserable than a love-blighted life? NANK. True.
KO. Life without Yum-Yum–why, it seems absurd! NANK. And yet there are a good many people in the world who have to endure it.
KO. Poor devils, yes! You are quite right not to be of their number.
NANK. (suddenly). I won’t be of their number! KO. Noble fellow!
NANK. I’ll tell you how we’ll manage it. Let me marry Yum-Yum to-morrow, and in a month you may behead me. KO. No, no. I draw the line at Yum-Yum. NANK. Very good. If you can draw the line, so can I. (Preparing rope.)
KO. Stop, stop–listen one moment–be reasonable. How can I consent to your marrying Yum-Yum if I’m going to marry her myself?
NANK. My good friend, she’ll be a widow in a month, and you can marry her then.
KO. That’s true, of course. I quite see that. But, dear me! my position during the next month will be most unpleasant–most unpleasant.
NANK. Not half so unpleasant as my position at the end of it.
KO. But–dear me!–well–I agree–after all, it’s only putting off my wedding for a month. But you won’t prejudice her against me, will you? You see, I’ve educated her to be my wife; she’s been taught to regard me as a wise and good man. Now I shouldn’t like her views on that point disturbed. NANK. Trust me, she shall never learn the truth from me.


Enter Chorus, Pooh-Bah, and Pish-Tush.


With aspect stern
And gloomy stride,
We come to learn
How you decide.

Don’t hesitate
Your choice to name,
A dreadful fate
You’ll suffer all the same.