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Published: 1895 Categorie(s): Non-Fiction, Humor, Fiction, Drama Source: Project Gutenberg
About Wilde: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. Known for his barbed wit, he was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. As the result of a famous trial, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years of hard labour after being convicted of the offence of "gross indecency". The scholar H. Montgomery Hyde suggests this term implies homosexual acts not amounting to buggery in British legislation of the time. Source: Wikipedia Also available on Feedbooks for Wilde: • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) • The Canterville Ghost (1887) • The Nightingale and the Rose (1888) • A House of Pomegranates (1892) Note: This book is brought to you by Feedbooks http://www.feedbooks.com Strictly for personal use, do not use this file for commercial purposes.
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People THE PERSONS IN THE PLAY John Worthing, J.P. Algernon Moncrieff Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. Merriman, Butler Lane, Manservant Lady Bracknell Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax Cecily Cardew Miss Prism, Governess THE SCENES OF THE PLAY ACT I. Algernon Moncrieff’s Flat in Half-Moon Street, W. ACT II. The Garden at the Manor House, Woolton. ACT III. Drawing-Room at the Manor House, Woolton. TIME: The Present. LONDON: ST. JAMES’S THEATRE Lessee and Manager: Mr. George Alexander February 14th, 1895 John Worthing, J.P.: Mr. George Alexander. Algernon Moncrieff: Mr. Allen Aynesworth. Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D.: Mr. H. H. Vincent. Merriman: Mr. Frank Dyall. Lane: Mr. F. Kinsey Peile. Lady Bracknell: Miss Rose Leclercq. Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax: Miss Irene Vanbrugh. Cecily Cardew: Miss Evelyn Millard. Miss Prism: Mrs. George Canninge.
for your sake. Why is it that at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information. sir. Lane. eight bottles and a pint. I didn’t think it polite to listen.] I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life. I believe it is a very pleasant state. Worthing were dining with me. [Hands them on a salver. I am sure. sir. I never think of it myself. [Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table. Lane. I see from your book that on Thursday night. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. No. Really. Algernon. Yes.] Algernon. Lane. As far as the piano is concerned. takes two. Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that? Lane. Lane. what on earth is the use of 4 . have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell? Lane. sir. Lane. That will do. speaking of the science of Life. sir. sir. Algernon enters. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a firstrate brand. sir. Algernon. eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed. Did you hear what I was playing.] Oh! … by the way. sir. it is not a very interesting subject. thank you. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person. sir. I have only been married once. I’m sorry for that. Algernon.] Algernon. [Lane goes out. Lane. [Inspects them. sentiment is my forte.] Algernon. Algernon. and after the music has ceased. [Languidly. Thank you. Algernon. Yes. when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Very natural. Lane. I keep science for Life. Yes. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. And. Lane. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room. and sits down on the sofa. Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. if the lower orders don’t set us a good example. Lane? Lane.Act I Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine. Algernon. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished.
[Airily.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o’clock. I see. the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. I am in love with Gwendolen. And who are the people you amuse? Jack. as a class. Jack. Shropshire is your county.them? They seem.] Lane. When one is in the country one amuses other people.] In the country. Algernon. [Enter Jack. Where have you been since last Thursday? Jack. my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town? Jack. [Stiffly. How perfectly delightful! Algernon. Yes. Eh? Shropshire? Yes. to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility. Algernon.] [Lane goes out. Algernon. I thought you had come up for pleasure? … I call that business. My dear fellow. pleasure. May I ask why? Algernon. Mr. [Enter Lane. Oh. Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire? Jack. Algy! Algernon. but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won’t quite approve of your being here. pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere? Eating as usual. How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich. How are you. Algernon.] Oh. [Pulling off his gloves. of course. Ernest Worthing. It is excessively boring. What on earth do you do there? Jack. Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her. [Sitting down on the sofa. Jack. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea? Algernon. neighbours. neighbours. that is all very well. is it not? Jack. How utterly unromantic you are! 5 . Jack. Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them. Algernon. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you.] By the way.] Algernon.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. Jack.
] Algernon. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. my dear fellow. Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. I believe. I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. [Enter Lane. That is quite a different matter.] And very good bread and butter it is too. Oh. Bring me that cigarette case Mr. It isn’t.] 6 . Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter. and I don’t think you ever will be. You behave as if you were married to her already. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. [Takes one and eats it. Algernon. you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. by Cecily! I don’t know any one of the name of Cecily. Well. one may be accepted. You are not married to her already. I’ll certainly try to forget the fact. One usually is. [Advancing to table and helping himself.] Please don’t touch the cucumber sandwiches. that is nonsense! Algernon. Girls don’t think it right. Algernon at once interferes. sir. Algernon.] Have some bread and butter.] Jack. It is very romantic to be in love. I have no doubt about that. Algy. Your consent! Algernon. Jack. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Then the excitement is all over. Why. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted. She is my aunt. Jack. Well. Why on earth do you say that? Algernon.] Jack. you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. [Takes plate from below. Lane. Jack. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here. [Lane goes out. dear Algy. In the second place. My dear fellow. Jack. Jack. Divorces are made in Heaven—[Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean. Gwendolen is my first cousin. Algernon. Yes.Algernon. And before I allow you to marry her. [Rings bell. I don’t give my consent. It is a great truth. you have been eating them all the time. If ever I get married. Well. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen.
That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. now that I look at the inscription inside. I think that is rather mean of you. Algernon. I happen to be more than usually hard up. and I don’t propose to discuss modern culture. some aunts are not tall. and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. Jack. Algernon. too. for. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! That is absurd! For Heaven’s sake give me back my cigarette case. Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. Just give it back to me. Well. I must say. Jack. I simply want my cigarette case back. Algernon. [Opens case and examines it. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read. This cigarette case is a present from some one of the name of Cecily. [Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it. I wish you would offer one.] ‘From little Cecily with her fondest love. [Moving to him. [Retreating to back of sofa. [Enter Lane with the cigarette case on a salver. Ernest. Algernon. Jack. Algernon takes it at once. It isn’t the sort of thing one should talk of in private.] But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? [Reading. but this isn’t your cigarette case.] You have seen me with it a hundred times. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. Jack. and you said you didn’t know any one of that name. Yes. Lane goes out. Well. Cecily happens to be my aunt.’ Jack. I was very nearly offering a large reward. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it.] However. Algernon. I find that the thing isn’t yours after all.] My dear fellow. if you want to know. Algy. Yes. Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know. Of course it’s mine. [Follows Algernon round the room.] 7 . I am quite aware of the fact. it makes no matter. what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall. Your aunt! Jack. Charming old lady she is.Jack.] Algernon. There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found.
Now. you had much better have the thing out at once. Algernon. you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. and the cigarette case was given to me in the country. You look as if your name was Ernest. with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack. but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn’t Ernest. It isn’t Ernest. lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess. The Albany. [Sits on sofa. and I am quite sure of it now. Well. [Taking it from case. Besides. [Puts the card in his pocket. My dear fellow. Algernon. it’s Jack. Well. Miss Cecily Cardew. Well. Yes. it is Ernest. B. You answer to the name of Ernest. Here is one of them. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. Old Mr. Algernon. who adopted me when I was a little boy. It produces a false impression. Miss Prism.] ‘Mr. but why an aunt. Come.Algernon. Jack. Jack. You have always told me it was Ernest. [Hands cigarette case. who lives at Tunbridge Wells. or to Gwendolen. Thomas Cardew. I’ll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country.] Jack. go on! Tell me the whole thing. I admit. It’s on your cards. calls you her dear uncle. Jack. my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country.’ There is no objection. old boy. no matter what her size may be. My dear Algy. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist. produce my cigarette case first. should call her own nephew her uncle.] Jack. who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate. Jack. 4. 8 .’ I’ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me. Algernon. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. and pray make it improbable. there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. I can’t quite make out. or to any one else. Yes. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? ‘From little Cecily.] Now produce your explanation. Ernest Worthing. Cecily. made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter. your name isn’t Jack at all. that is exactly what dentists always do. Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a Bunburyist? Algernon. Here it is. In fact it’s perfectly ordinary. to an aunt being a small aunt.
in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness. I suspected that. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country? Jack. It is very foolish of you. You had much better dine with your Aunt Augusta. What on earth do you mean? Algernon. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury. I haven’t the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. When one is placed in the position of guardian. I dined there on Monday. I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. Algernon. who lives in the Albany. Algernon. You are hardly serious enough. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health. It’s one’s duty to do so. I haven’t asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night. You are not going to be invited … I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire. That wouldn’t be at all a bad thing. my dear fellow. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations. What you really are is a Bunburyist. by the way? Jack. my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night. Don’t try it. and modern literature a complete impossibility! Jack. They do it so well in the daily papers. That. My dear Algy. one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week. The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either. Where is that place in the country. I know. You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest. Jack. my dear Algy. in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest. To begin with. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know. That is nothing to you. and once a week is quite 9 . and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. for instance. Algernon. Now. Literary criticism is not your forte. Algernon. go on. Algernon.Algernon. Jack. Jack. is the whole truth pure and simple. dear boy.
If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen. [The sound of an electric bell is heard. or two. Only relatives. to-night. Besides. She will place me next Mary Farquhar. It is rather a bore. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr… . who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury. Jack. I certainly won’t want to know Bunbury. It is so shallow of them. or creditors. In the second place. may I dine with you to-night at Willis’s? Jack. Algernon. with your invalid friend who has the absurd name. In the third place. Jack. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. Indeed. I am going to kill my brother. [Sententiously. It looks so bad. That is not very pleasant.enough to dine with one’s own relations. don’t try to be cynical. my dear young friend. that in married life three is company and two is none. It’s perfectly easy to be cynical.] Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. and that the happy English home has proved in half the time. Yes. is the theory that the corrupt French Drama has been propounding for the last fifty years. Algernon. That is nonsense. 10 . My dear fellow. Jack. Algernon. Jack. I want to tell you the rules. now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. If Gwendolen accepts me. I hate people who are not serious about meals. whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family. indeed I think I’ll kill him in any case. Algernon. You don’t seem to realise. Algernon. you will be very glad to know Bunbury.] That. it isn’t easy to be anything nowadays. For heaven’s sake. ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. it is not even decent … and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. if I get her out of the way for ten minutes. I’m not a Bunburyist at all. which seems to me extremely problematic. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public. so that you can have an opportunity for proposing to Gwendolen. Yes. but you must be serious about it. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it. and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry. and sent down with either no woman at all. Then your wife will. I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to. Now. and if you ever get married. There’s such a lot of beastly competition about. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. if you want to. I suppose so.
That’s not quite the same thing. Lady Bracknell.] Lady Bracknell. From what cause I. about there being no cucumbers. Oh! I hope I am not that. I’m quite comfortable where I am. I hope you are behaving very well. I am always smart! Am I not. Thank you. thank you. Lane. mamma. you are smart! Gwendolen. No cucumbers! Lane. she looks quite twenty years younger. I never saw a woman so altered. I’m sorry if we are a little late. I’m feeling very well. In fact the two things rarely go together. I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury.] Algernon. and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me. and I intend to develop in many directions. [Algernon goes forward to meet them.] Lane.] Algernon.[Enter Lane. sir. Algernon. Won’t you come and sit here. [Sees Jack and bows to him with icy coldness. [Gravely. sir. Algernon. of course. Gwendolen. [Gwendolen and Jack sit down together in the corner. [To Gwendolen. Algernon. That will do. It certainly has changed its colour. Good afternoon. Algernon. Lane. I am going to send you 11 . not even for ready money. Algernon. I am greatly distressed. Gwendolen? Gwendolen. Miss Fairfax. It really makes no matter. [Goes out. but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. [Goes over to tea-table. Lady Bracknell.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially. And now I’ll have a cup of tea. Algernon. I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning. sir. Not even for ready money.] Dear me. Aunt Augusta. Algernon. You’re quite perfect. [Picking up empty plate in horror. It would leave no room for developments. Lane.] Lady Bracknell.] Thank you. Mr. Lady Bracknell. [Algernon crosses and hands tea. cannot say. Aunt Augusta. Algernon. Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax. who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now. Thanks. Worthing? Jack. Enter Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen. I’ve quite a treat for you to-night. dear Algernon. I went down twice. Aunt Augusta. No. Certainly. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. Algernon.] Lady Bracknell.
you will accompany me.] I’m sure the programme will be delightful. but he never seems to take much notice … as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. Yes. and I think I can promise you he’ll be all right by Saturday. Lady Bracknell. Algernon. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. It is very thoughtful of you. I am always telling that to your poor uncle. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. and indeed. if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment. 12 . was probably not much. People always seem to think that they are improper. I must say. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. in most cases. I am afraid. which is vulgar. Algernon. Bunbury. and. Aunt Augusta. I’ll speak to Bunbury. It is a great bore. that I think it is high time that Mr. which is worse. Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell. I need hardly say. but the fact is I have just had a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. after a few expurgations. and either look shocked. Gwendolen. a terrible disappointment to me. Algernon. It’s delightful to watch them. Algernon.down with Mary Farquhar. Lady Bracknell. It is my last reception. [Frowning. This Mr. She is such a nice woman.] I hope not. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health. Algernon. Well. Algernon. from me. [Exchanges glances with Jack. Health is the primary duty of life. which. poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid. Lady Bracknell. Your uncle would have to dine upstairs. I shall have to give up the pleasure of dining with you to-night after all. if he is still conscious. I consider it morbid. Algernon. for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language. particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say. and one wants something that will encourage conversation. Of course the music is a great difficulty. French songs I cannot possibly allow. Fortunately he is accustomed to that. people don’t listen. [Rising. and so attentive to her husband. or laugh. if one plays good music. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. It would put my table completely out. You see. and following Algernon. to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday.] They seem to think I should be with him. It is very strange. I believe is so. Thank you. and if one plays bad music people don’t talk. But I’ll run over the programme I’ve drawn out.
] We live. But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest? Gwendolen. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then? Gwendolen. I know it is. Gwendolen remains behind. Whenever people talk to me about the weather. [Nervously. Jack. I am told. Gwendolen? Gwendolen. in an age of ideals. Gwendolen. Gwendolen.] Miss Fairfax. Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me. at any rate. [Lady Bracknell and Algernon go into the music-room. Jack. You really love me. I would certainly advise you to do so. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. Yes. Mr. Gwendolen. Yes. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination. Passionately! Jack. Miss Fairfax. [Jack looks at her in amazement. I thought so. and has reached the provincial pulpits. Charming day it has been. Worthing. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines. Worthing. mamma. I do mean something else. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl … I have ever met since … I met you. Jack. And I often wish that in public. 13 . Pray don’t talk to me about the weather. I am never wrong. Mr. And that makes me so nervous. [Glibly. I knew I was destined to love you. you had been more demonstrative. Gwendolen. In fact. as I hope you know. I am quite well aware of the fact.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation. and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life. And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell’s temporary absence … Gwendolen. as we know them. My own Ernest! Jack. Jack. Jack. and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest. Certainly.Gwendolen. I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. Mamma has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to her about.] Jack. But your name is Ernest.
if any at all. will you marry me? [Goes on his knees. I adore you. All my girl-friends tell me so. Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. Well. and they all. You know what I have got to say to you. I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. It is a divine name. Married. I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before-hand that I am fully determined to accept you. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. Mr. Worthing.] 14 . especially when there are other people present. You know that I love you. The subject has not even been touched on. It produces vibrations. Personally. Of course I will. [Enter Lady Bracknell. I have never loved any one in the world but you. Gwendolen. Gwendolen! Gwendolen. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose. Jack? … No. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. that you were not absolutely indifferent to me.] Gwendolen. Gwendolen. were more than usually plain. I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. Gwendolen. indeed. Gwendolen. Mr. but you don’t say it. What wonderfully blue eyes you have. Jack. but men often propose for practice. Jack.Jack. Gwendolen. I think it would be an admirable opportunity. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. I know my brother Gerald does. darling. there is very little music in the name Jack. Ernest! They are quite. It has a music of its own. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. and you led me to believe. Besides. blue. Well … may I propose to you now? Gwendolen. Miss Fairfax. Gwendolen. Mr. [Astounded. Worthing. I think Jack. It produces absolutely no vibrations … I have known several Jacks. My own one. Jack. I hope you will always look at me just like that. darling. Jack. for instance. quite. It suits you perfectly. And to spare you any possible disappointment. There is no time to be lost. It does not thrill. The only really safe name is Ernest Jack. Yes. Yes. Worthing? Jack. really. without exception.] Well … surely. I don’t much care about the name of Ernest … I don’t think the name suits me at all. Jack. Yes. to speak quite candidly. what have you got to say to me? Jack. a charming name. Gwendolen.
mamma. [After some hesitation.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men. Lady Bracknell. She and Jack blow kisses to each other behind Lady Bracknell’s back. Worthing! Rise. you. This is no place for you. Yes. I. Well. Pardon me. I am quite ready to enter your name. Finished what. Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell looks vaguely about as if she could not understand what the noise was.] Mamma! Lady Bracknell.] I know nothing. Mr. I am glad to hear it. Mamma! [He tries to rise. the carriage! Gwendolen. pleasant or unpleasant. you are not engaged to any one. While I am making these inquiries.] Jack. she restrains him. We work together. [Looks in her pocket for note-book and pencil. [They rise together. from this semi-recumbent posture.] I must beg you to retire. Worthing. I must admit I smoke. Finally turns round. mamma. It is most indecorous. Gwendolen. Gwendolen! [Gwendolen goes to the door. Twenty-nine. should his health permit him. 15 .] You can take a seat. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself … And now I have a few questions to put to you. looking back at Jack. [Pencil and note-book in hand. Lady Bracknell. may I ask? Gwendolen. or your father. Besides. Mr. Thank you. Do you smoke? Jack. I prefer standing. Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. as the case may be. Worthing.Lady Bracknell. How old are you? Jack. When you do become engaged to some one. will wait for me below in the carriage. Mr. Mr. However. A very good age to be married at. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise. There are far too many idle men in London as it is.] Gwendolen. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.] Lady Bracknell. In the carriage. in fact. Worthing has not quite finished yet. although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires. Lady Bracknell. Which do you know? Jack. sir. I am engaged to Mr. will inform you of the fact. [Sitting down. yes.] Lady Bracknell. Worthing. [Goes out. Lady Bracknell. [Reproachfully. Lady Bracknell.
nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character. I am a Liberal Unionist. but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham. Well. that point can be cleared up afterwards. at any rate. [Shaking her head. Ah.] In land. [Sternly. I am afraid I really have none. land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. and the duties exacted from one after one’s death. A country house! How many bedrooms? Well. and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. You have a town house. that could easily be altered. I thought there was something. 16 . I am pleased to hear it. She is a lady considerably advanced in years. and prevents one from keeping it up. I own a house in Belgrave Square. if necessary. Of course. I hope? A girl with a simple. It gives one position. Lady Bracknell. I have a country house with some land. about fifteen hundred acres. Lady Bracknell. That’s all that can be said about land. Between seven and eight thousand a year. I can get it back whenever I like. chiefly. Lady Bracknell. unspoiled nature. 149.] The unfashionable side. she goes about very little. Do you mean the fashion. the poachers are the only people who make anything out of it. In investments. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit. Jack. Lady Bloxham? I don’t know her. like Gwendolen. Fortunately in England. could hardly be expected to reside in the country. Well. Lady Bracknell. I believe. Jack. of course. touch it and the bloom is gone. Oh. If it did. attached to it. Jack. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. What are your polities? Jack. That is satisfactory. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. [Makes a note in her book. What number in Belgrave Square? Jack.] Both. I presume. Lady Bracknell. at six months’ notice. but I don’t depend on that for my real income. What is your income? Jack. In fact. education produces no effect whatsoever.Lady Bracknell. it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes. or in investments? Jack. or the side? Lady Bracknell. What between the duties expected of one during one’s lifetime. Lady Bracknell. Jack. as far as I can make out. However.
Lady Bracknell. Oh. I was found. I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me.Lady Bracknell. Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag? Jack. Worthing. or at any rate bred. may be regarded as a misfortune. Where did the charitable gentleman who had a firstclass ticket for this seaside resort find you? Jack. an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition. Who was your father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. Thomas Cardew. Was he born in what the Radical papers call the purple of commerce. a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion—has probably. Lady Bracknell. in a hand-bag. Now to minor matters. The late Mr. It is a seaside resort. and gave me the name of Worthing.] Yes. [Gravely. Yes. seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. Lady Bracknell. at any rate. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found. Lady Bracknell. or Thomas. I said I had lost my parents. Worthing is a place in Sussex. 17 . Lady Bracknell. Mr. The cloak-room at Victoria Station? Jack. [Very seriously. It was given to him in mistake for his own. Worthing. Or come in the evening.] In a hand-bag. found me. Mr. Lady Bracknell. To lose one parent. I was … well. In what locality did this Mr. The fact is. They dine with us. I have lost both my parents. I am afraid I really don’t know. In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact. Are your parents living? Jack. they count as Tories. James. Found! Jack. The line is immaterial. Lady Bracknell. The Brighton line. black leather hand-bag. Lady Bracknell. or did he rise from the ranks of the aristocracy? Jack. because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. To be born. A hand-bag? Jack. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me … I don’t actually know who I am by birth. Lady Bracknell. to lose both looks like carelessness. I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large. whether it had handles or not.
of either sex. Jack. Algernon. Oh. That is exactly what things were originally made for. My dear boy. It is in my dressing-room at home. 18 .indeed. I don’t see how I could possibly manage to do that. Algernon. It isn’t! Jack. and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent. Didn’t it go off all right. Good morning! [Algernon. which is rather unfair … I beg your pardon. Algy. but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. that is nonsense! Algernon. she is a monster. May I ask you then what you would advise me to do? I need hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness. She is always refusing people. In any case. Well. Jack.] Algernon. strikes up the Wedding March. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. How idiotic you are! [The music stops and Algernon enters cheerily. I would strongly advise you. to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible. I can produce the hand-bag at any moment. Lady Bracknell. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people. Worthing. nor the smallest instinct about when to die. Oh. Me. Never met such a Gorgon … I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like. I think it is most ill-natured of her.] Jack. I won’t argue about the matter. who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live. Mr.] For goodness’ sake don’t play that ghastly tune. Jack. Well. before the season is quite over. old boy? You don’t mean to say Gwendolen refused you? I know it is a way she has. Jack. Algy. As far as she is concerned. I really think that should satisfy you. and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning. Mr. from the other room. Lady Bracknell. and goes to the door. Her mother is perfectly unbearable. I love hearing my relations abused. sir! What has it to do with me? You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up with the utmost care—to marry into a cloak-room. we are engaged. Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen is as right as a trivet. I suppose I shouldn’t talk about your own aunt in that way before you. Jack looks perfectly furious. without being a myth. been used for that purpose before now—but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society. You always want to argue about things. Worthing! [Lady Bracknell sweeps out in majestic indignation.
Algernon. did you tell Gwendolen the truth about your being Ernest in town. All women become like their mothers. Algernon. Very well. I should extremely like to meet them. What fools! Algernon. You had much better say a severe chill. before the end of the week I shall have got rid of him. It is perfectly phrased! and quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman! Algernon. and Jack in the country? Jack. The fools? Oh! about the clever people. [In a very patronising manner. sweet. That gets rid of him. do you. The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her. Yes. By the way. Jack.Jack. Upon my word. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left. or anything of that kind? Algernon. I’d shoot myself … [A pause. if she is plain. What about your brother? What about the profligate Ernest? Jack. and to some one else. but it’s hereditary. My poor brother Ernest to carried off suddenly. quite suddenly. Jack. Oh. of course. It’s a sort of thing that runs in families. Jack. No man does. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. That’s his. by a severe chill. Is that clever? Algernon. if she is pretty. refined girl. the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice. Jack. that is nonsense. Jack. Oh. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. Of course it isn’t! Jack. Lots of people die of apoplexy. Algernon. But I thought you said that … Miss Cardew was a little too much interested in your poor brother Ernest? Won’t she feel his loss a good deal? 19 . We have. then.] My dear fellow. if I thought that. Algy? Algernon. Everybody is clever nowadays. What do they talk about? Algernon. don’t they? Algernon. my dear fellow. You are sure a severe chill isn’t hereditary. in Paris. I am sick to death of cleverness. I’ll say he died in Paris of apoplexy.] You don’t think there is any chance of Gwendolen becoming like her mother in about a hundred and fifty years. That is their tragedy. Jack.
Algernon. Now.Jack. Algernon. Jack. However. Do you know it is nearly seven? Jack. and she is only just eighteen. we might trot round to the Empire at ten? Jack. [Enter Lane. Algernon. Oh. I would rather like to see Cecily. She has got a capital appetite. they will be calling each other sister. Really. Oh. I never knew you when you weren’t … Algernon. Well. Have you told Gwendolen yet that you have an excessively pretty ward who is only just eighteen? Jack. kindly turn your back. Oh no! I loathe listening. You are not quite old enough to do that. It is so silly. Well. Algy. I’m hungry. no! I can’t bear looking at things. [Irritably. what shall we do? Jack. Worthing. What shall we do after dinner? Go to a theatre? Jack. Nothing! Algernon. and pays no attention at all to her lessons. Well. It is awfully hard work doing nothing. Cecily and Gwendolen are perfectly certain to be extremely great friends. Algernon.] Algernon. I will take very good care you never do.] Lane. Oh! one doesn’t blurt these things out to people. Algy. I’ll bet you anything you like that half an hour after they have met. goes long walks. no! I hate talking. we really must go and dress. you always adopt a strictly immoral attitude towards life. Gwendolen. Cecily is not a silly romantic girl. Algernon. Lane goes out. Miss Fairfax. if we want to get a good table at Willis’s. Gwendolen. I don’t think I can allow this at all. that is all right. Jack. [Algernon retires to the fireplace. my dear boy. My own darling! 20 . She is excessively pretty. Well. [Enter Gwendolen. Algernon.] Jack. I am glad to say.] Oh! It always is nearly seven. Oh. I don’t mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind. Algernon. I have something very particular to say to Mr. upon my word! Gwendolen. Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first. Gwendolen. Algernon. let us go to the Club? Jack.
Thanks. The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me. You may also ring the bell. Jack. Then picks up the Railway Guide. Yes.] 21 . Your town address at the Albany I have. I shall probably not be back till Monday. From the expression on mamma’s face I fear we never shall. You can put up my dress clothes. Lane. Algernon. Whatever influence I ever had over mamma. I suppose? It may be necessary to do something desperate. You will let me see you to your carriage. Lane. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. Jack.] Algernon. Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them. Jack. What is your address in the country? Jack. Woolton. The Manor House. Jack. Yes. Hertfordshire. [Handing sherry. How long do you remain in town? Jack. Yes. My own one! Gwendolen. Lane. you may turn round now. Good! Algy. Gwendolen. Gwendolen.] [Lane presents several letters on a salver to Algernon. with unpleasing comments. as related to me by mamma.] Gwendolen. nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you. Lane. my smoking jacket. [Jack and Gwendolen go off. sir. sir. has naturally stirred the deeper fibres of my nature. and I may marry some one else. But although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife. as Algernon. It is to be surmised that they are bills. smiles to himself. after looking at the envelopes. sir. Your Christian name has an irresistible fascination. Algernon.] I will see Miss Fairfax out. There is a good postal service. The story of your romantic origin. I’m going Bunburying. tears them up. Ernest. and marry often. To-morrow. and all the Bunbury suits … Lane. A glass of sherry. [Algernon. I’ve turned round already. Dear Gwendolen! Gwendolen. and writes the address on his shirt-cuff. I lost at the age of three. sir. I will communicate with you daily. [To Lane. my own darling? Gwendolen. Lane. Till Monday. Certainly. who now enters. who has been carefully listening. we may never be married. Algernon. That of course will require serious consideration.Gwendolen. Yes.
Algernon. I hope to-morrow will be a fine day, Lane. Lane. It never is, sir. Algernon. Lane, you’re a perfect pessimist. Lane. I do my best to give satisfaction, sir. [Enter Jack. Lane goes off.] Jack. There’s a sensible, intellectual girl! the only girl I ever cared for in my life. [Algernon is laughing immoderately.] What on earth are you so amused at? Algernon. Oh, I’m a little anxious about poor Bunbury, that is all. Jack. If you don’t take care, your friend Bunbury will get you into a serious scrape some day. Algernon. I love scrapes. They are the only things that are never serious. Jack. Oh, that’s nonsense, Algy. You never talk anything but nonsense. Algernon. Nobody ever does. [Jack looks indignantly at him, and leaves the room. Algernon lights a cigarette, reads his shirt-cuff, and smiles.] ACT DROP
Garden at the Manor House. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. The garden, an old-fashioned one, full of roses. Time of year, July. Basket chairs, and a table covered with books, are set under a large yew-tree. [Miss Prism discovered seated at the table. Cecily is at the back watering flowers.] Miss Prism. [Calling.] Cecily, Cecily! Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the watering of flowers is rather Moulton’s duty than yours? Especially at a moment when intellectual pleasures await you. Your German grammar is on the table. Pray open it at page fifteen. We will repeat yesterday’s lesson. Cecily. [Coming over very slowly.] But I don’t like German. It isn’t at all a becoming language. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson. Miss Prism. Child, you know how anxious your guardian is that you should improve yourself in every way. He laid particular stress on your German, as he was leaving for town yesterday. Indeed, he always lays stress on your German when he is leaving for town. Cecily. Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be quite well. Miss Prism. [Drawing herself up.] Your guardian enjoys the best of health, and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility. Cecily. I suppose that is why he often looks a little bored when we three are together. Miss Prism. Cecily! I am surprised at you. Mr. Worthing has many troubles in his life. Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother. Cecily. I wish Uncle Jack would allow that unfortunate young man, his brother, to come down here sometimes. We might have a good influence over him, Miss Prism. I am sure you certainly would. You know German, and geology, and things of that kind influence a man very much. [Cecily begins to write in her diary.] Miss Prism. [Shaking her head.] I do not think that even I could produce any effect on a character that according to his own brother’s admission is irretrievably weak and vacillating. Indeed I am not sure that I
would desire to reclaim him. I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment’s notice. As a man sows so let him reap. You must put away your diary, Cecily. I really don’t see why you should keep a diary at all. Cecily. I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn’t write them down, I should probably forget all about them. Miss Prism. Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us. Cecily. Yes, but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn’t possibly have happened. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us. Miss Prism. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days. Cecily. Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much. Miss Prism. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. Cecily. I suppose so. But it seems very unfair. And was your novel ever published? Miss Prism. Alas! no. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. [Cecily starts.] I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid. To your work, child, these speculations are profitless. Cecily. [Smiling.] But I see dear Dr. Chasuble coming up through the garden. Miss Prism. [Rising and advancing.] Dr. Chasuble! This is indeed a pleasure. [Enter Canon Chasuble.] Chasuble. And how are we this morning? Miss Prism, you are, I trust, well? Cecily. Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache. I think it would do her so much good to have a short stroll with you in the Park, Dr. Chasuble. Miss Prism. Cecily, I have not mentioned anything about a headache. Cecily. No, dear Miss Prism, I know that, but I felt instinctively that you had a headache. Indeed I was thinking about that, and not about my German lesson, when the Rector came in. Chasuble. I hope, Cecily, you are not inattentive. Cecily. Oh, I am afraid I am.
that unfortunate young man his brother seems to be. [Miss Prism glares. With pleasure. 25 . I am so afraid he will look just like every one else. very gay and debonnair. We do not expect him till Monday afternoon. He has brought his luggage with him. Worthing. he usually likes to spend his Sunday in London. It is somewhat too sensational. Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station. I suppose.—My metaphor was drawn from bees. Miss. Ask Mr. He seemed very much disappointed. Miss. I find I have a headache after all. [Bowing.Chasuble.] Cecily. [Merriman goes off. Doctor. Cecily. Mr.] Merriman. [Goes down the garden with Dr.] A classical allusion merely. I think. has not returned from town yet? Miss Prism.] Cecily. I mentioned that you and Miss Prism were in the garden. I have never met any really wicked person before.] He does! Algernon. and a walk might do it good. drawn from the Pagan authors. Ah yes. Chasuble.] Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid.] ‘Mr. Chasuble. [Picks up books and throws them back on table. I would hang upon her lips. by all accounts. I will have a stroll with you. [Enter Algernon. We might go as far as the schools and back. Cecily. with pleasure. But I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer. Worthing was in town? Merriman. I feel rather frightened.] I spoke metaphorically. B. Miss Prism.] You are my little cousin Cecily. Ernest Worthing. 4. Chasuble. W. He said he was anxious to speak to you privately for a moment. Egeria? My name is Lætitia. [Raising his hat. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. I’m sure. Merriman. Yes. dear Doctor. I shall see you both no doubt at Evensong? Miss Prism. The Albany. Cecily. He is not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment. Ahem! Mr. That would be delightful. I suppose you had better talk to the housekeeper about a room for him. you will read your Political Economy in my absence. Chasuble. horrid German! [Enter Merriman with a card on a salver. Yes. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side. [Takes the card and reads it. That is strange. Ernest Worthing to come here. Miss Prism. Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism’s pupil. as. Miss Prism.’ Uncle Jack’s brother! Did you tell him Mr.
my wicked cousin Ernest. I believe I am more than usually tall for my age. I have been very bad in my own small way. He has no taste in neckties at all. If you are not. and Australia. are Uncle Jack’s brother. Oh! I am not really wicked at all. then you have certainly been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner. About my what? Cecily. Australia! I’d sooner die. Cecily. Well. That would be hypocrisy. Cecily. Cecily. You are under some strange mistake. Algernon. I don’t think you will require neckties. Uncle Jack won’t be back till Monday afternoon.] Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless. Well. I don’t think you should be so proud of that. now you mention the subject. how important it is not to keep a business engagement. Algernon. I know. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia. of course. [Looks at her in amazement.Cecily. You. cousin Cecily. Algernon. No: the appointment is in London. Cecily. I am obliged to go up by the first train on Monday morning. the next world. Algernon.] But I am your cousin Cecily. pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. I am glad to hear it. I have a business appointment that I am anxious … to miss? Cecily. Algernon. I know he wants to speak to you about your emigrating. I hope you have not been leading a double life. It is much pleasanter being here with you. Cecily. You mustn’t think that I am wicked. 26 . I certainly wouldn’t let Jack buy my outfit. Cecily. In fact. That is a great disappointment. Algernon. Algernon. Algernon. that you would have to choose between this world. but still I think you had better wait till Uncle Jack arrives. I am not little. my cousin Ernest. though I am sure it must have been very pleasant. Cecily. [Algernon is rather taken aback. Your emigrating. he said at dinner on Wednesday night. I can’t understand how you are here at all. if one wants to retain any sense of the beauty of life. In fact. I see from your card. He has gone up to buy your outfit. Couldn’t you miss it anywhere but in London? Algernon.
I should have remembered that when one is going to lead an entirely new life. Cecily. Yes. Miss Prism. A misanthrope I can understand—a womanthrope. Algernon.] Algernon. Well. That is because I am hungry. never! Chasuble. Cousin Cecily. Cecily. Why? [Cuts a flower.] That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day. Cecily. [With a scholar’s shudder. [Sententiously. Oh. This world is good enough for me. well! The accounts I have received of Australia and the next world. Cecily. Thank you. Miss Prism never says such things to me.] You are the prettiest girl I ever saw. I’m afraid I’ve no time. Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare. Might I have a buttonhole first? I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole first. [They pass into the house. I shouldn’t know what to talk to him about. cousin Cecily. But I think you should try. You might make that your mission. I do not deserve so neologistic a phrase.] Believe me. And you do not 27 . Miss Prism and Dr. I’m afraid I’m not that. You should get married. That is why I want you to reform me. You are too much alone. dear Dr. It is rather Quixotic of you. Algernon.Algernon. Oh. The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony. I’d sooner have a pink rose. this afternoon. would you mind my reforming myself this afternoon? Cecily. They are a snare that every sensible man would like to be caught in. No. Chasuble. I don’t think it can be right for you to talk to me like that. I feel better already. Won’t you come in? Algernon. [Cecily puts the rose in his buttonhole.] Miss Prism. Algernon. but are you good enough for it? Algernon. Because you are like a pink rose. Cecily. if you don’t mind. Cecily. one requires regular and wholesome meals. cousin Cecily. Cecily. How thoughtless of me. Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady. I don’t think I would care to catch a sensible man. Cecily. Algernon. A Marechal Niel? [Picks up scissors. Algernon.] Algernon. Chasuble return. Cecily. You are looking a little worse. are not particularly encouraging. I will.
Miss Prism. dear Doctor. This is indeed a surprise. Chasuble. Chasuble. Jack. But is a man not equally attractive when married? Miss Prism. Maturity can always be depended on. this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray. My metaphor was drawn from fruits. What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it. a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. Worthing! Chasuble. Miss Prism. That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman.] Miss Prism. My brother. Chasuble. Poor Ernest! He had many faults. A severe chill. Worthing? Miss Prism. Worthing. He died abroad. Men should be more careful. [Enter Jack slowly from the back of the garden. Your brother Ernest dead? Jack. I offer you my sincere condolence. [Shakes Miss Prism’s hand in a tragic manner. Worthing. Mr. I hope you are well? Chasuble. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel. sad blow. Perhaps she followed us to the schools. Chasuble starts. And often. Dear Mr. Chasuble. As a man sows. But where is Cecily? Chasuble. He is dressed in the deepest mourning.seem to realise. Miss Prism. Ripeness can be trusted. I’ve been told. Miss Prism. in Paris. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers. I trust this garb of woe does not betoken some terrible calamity? Jack.] Dead! Chasuble. in fact. Chasuble. Quite dead. We did not look for you till Monday afternoon. Chasuble. so shall he reap. with crape hatband and black gloves. Dr. it seems. No. More shameful debts and extravagance? Chasuble.] I spoke horticulturally. Mr. Jack. [Shaking his head. Very sad indeed. [Dr. No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. not even to her. 28 . that by persistently remaining single. Were you with him at the end? Jack. Still leading his life of pleasure? Jack. Young women are green. Mr. but it is a sad.] I have returned sooner than I expected. Was the cause of death mentioned? Jack.
of course. you are continually christening. Miss Prism. or. and. Dr. charity! None of us are perfect. [All sigh. Of course I don’t know if the thing would bother you in any way.Chasuble. Immersion! 29 . Oh yes. one of the Rector’s most constant duties in this parish. joyful. you have been christened already? Jack. I certainly intend to have. Ah! that reminds me. you mentioned christenings I think. I believe. who was present. [Bitterly. The Bishop. was much struck by some of the analogies I drew. distressing.] People who live entirely for pleasure usually are. No! the fact is. But surely. dear Doctor. indeed. Worthing. You would no doubt wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction next Sunday.] My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion. or if you think I am a little too old now. I would like to be christened myself. I am very fond of children. dear Miss Prism. But is there any particular infant in whom you are interested. Mr. confirmations. Chasuble.] I mean. He seems to have expressed a desire to be buried in Paris. as in the present case. [Raising his hand. the immersion of adults is a perfectly canonical practice. was he not? Jack. I have often spoken to the poorer classes on the subject. Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? [Dr. as a charity sermon on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the Upper Orders. unmarried. I don’t remember anything about it. But have you any grave doubts on the subject? Jack. It is. Chasuble. Not at all. Chasuble. [Jack presses his hand convulsively. I regret to say. this afternoon. Worthing? Your brother was. Mr. The last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. Will the interment take place here? Jack. christenings. But they don’t seem to know what thrift is. Jack. Jack. In Paris! [Shakes his head.] Charity. Chasuble looks astounded. Chasuble. No. if you have nothing better to do.] I have preached it at harvest celebrations. The sprinkling. Jack. aren’t you? Miss Prism. But it is not for any child.] I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. Chasuble. on days of humiliation and festal days.
he kisses her brow in a melancholy manner. Jack. Good heavens! [Motions Algernon away. But what horrid clothes you have got on! Do go and change them. his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing. Uncle Jack? [Runs back into the house. He arrived about half an hour ago. Chasuble. This seems to me a blessing of an extremely obvious kind. and I have got such a surprise for you. My child! my child! [Cecily goes towards Jack. Who do you think is in the dining-room? Your brother! Jack. A case of twins that occurred recently in one of the outlying cottages on your own estate. Our weather is so changeable. Uncle Jack! Oh. They come slowly up to Jack. Cecily! Chasuble. [Enter Cecily from the house.] Chasuble. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. Oh. don’t say that. What is the matter. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. Perfectly.Chasuble. Worthing. These are very joyful tidings. dear Mr. At what hour would you wish the ceremony performed? Jack. or indeed I think advisable. You need have no apprehensions. won’t you. I think it is perfectly absurd. Cecily. I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. Sprinkling is all that is necessary.] And now. Would half-past five do? Chasuble. Oh.] Cecily. [Enter Algernon and Cecily hand in hand. Your brother Ernest. My brother is in the dining-room? I don’t know what it all means. I’ll tell him to come out. Admirably! Admirably! [Takes out watch. It would be childish. perfectly! In fact I have two similar ceremonies to perform at that time. What nonsense! I haven’t got a brother.] 30 . Poor Jenkins the carter. Uncle Jack? Do look happy! You look as if you had toothache.] Cecily. Miss Prism. Oh! I don’t see much fun in being christened along with other babies. However badly he may have behaved to you in the past he is still your brother. You couldn’t be so heartless as to disown him. I might trot round about five if that would suit you.] Jack. After we had all been resigned to his loss. a most hard-working man. And you will shake hands with him. Jack. Miss Prism. I am pleased to see you back. Miss Prism. Jack. Who? Cecily.
It is enough to drive one perfectly frantic. dear child. this is the last time I shall ever do it. [Enter Merriman. you must get out of this place as soon as possible. to see so perfect a reconciliation? I think we might leave the two brothers together. Certainly. Chasuble. And surely there must be much good in one who is kind to an invalid. I have come down from town to tell you that I am very sorry for all the trouble I have given you. Cecily. [Jack glares at him and does not take his hand. But I must say that I think that Brother John’s coldness to me is peculiarly painful. do be nice. is it not. Oh! he has been talking about Bunbury.Algernon. Well. My little task of reconciliation is over. Miss Prism. you will come with us. especially considering it is the first time I have come here. you are not going to refuse your own brother’s hand? Jack. I think his coming down here disgraceful. You have done a beautiful action to-day. Bunbury! Well. sir.] Jack. Miss Prism. Jack.] Cecily. Miss Prism. Algy. and leaves the pleasures of London to sit by a bed of pain. I suppose that is all right? 31 .] Merriman. if you don’t shake hands with Ernest I will never forgive you.] Chasuble. and his terrible state of health. Ernest has just been telling me about his poor invalid friend Mr. [Shakes with Algernon and glares. Jack. We must not be premature in our judgments. Nothing will induce me to take his hand. he has told me all about poor Mr. and that I intend to lead a better life in the future. Uncle Jack. Algernon. Never. Brother John. I feel very happy. Cecily. Jack. Yes. I won’t have him talk to you about Bunbury or about anything else. Bunbury. [They all go off except Jack and Algernon. Uncle Jack. I expected a more enthusiastic welcome. There is some good in every one. Uncle Jack. never. Bunbury whom he goes to visit so often. never! Jack. You young scoundrel. Of course I admit that the faults were all on my side. I have put Mr. Cecily. Cecily. He knows perfectly well why. Never forgive me? Cecily. I don’t allow any Bunburying here. has he? Cecily. It’s pleasant. Ernest’s things in the room next to yours. Cecily.
What? Merriman. I should think it very unkind if you didn’t. as you call it. Algernon. sir. two hatboxes. I suppose. Cecily is a darling. I certainly won’t leave you so long as you are in mourning. Jack. Mr. Jack. My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. Jack. and I hope you will have a pleasant journey back to town. Jack. I have not been called back to town at all. Yes. If I were in mourning you would stay with me. [Goes back into the house. Mr. I never saw anybody take so long to dress. Merriman. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. You have got to leave … by the four-five train. His luggage? Merriman. Your vanity is ridiculous. I haven’t heard any one call me. that is better than being always over-dressed as you are. Algernon. Ernest’s luggage. Three portmanteaus. Well.Jack. Jack. Yes. Yes. I don’t like it. Algernon.] Algernon. Your duty as a gentleman calls you back. Merriman. Jack. I am afraid I can’t stay more than a week this time. Well. What a fearful liar you are. Algernon. However. You are certainly not staying with me for a whole week as a guest or anything else. I call it grotesque. Jack. I don’t like your clothes. Yes. Algernon. will you go if I change my clothes? Algernon. Ernest has been suddenly called back to town. sir. Jack. Why on earth don’t you go up and change? It is perfectly childish to be in deep mourning for a man who is actually staying for a whole week with you in your house as a guest. Jack. You are not to talk of Miss Cardew like that. 32 . sir. This Bunburying. Jack. you have. order the dog-cart at once. If I am occasionally a little over-dressed. your conduct an outrage. and a large luncheon-basket. Algernon. and with such little result. Jack. I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own. has not been a great success for you. and your presence in my garden utterly absurd. Well. if you are not too long. Well. It would be most unfriendly. Algernon. I can quite understand that. a dressing-case. I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated. you have got to catch the four-five. at any rate.
Merriman for … five minutes. and consequently meant for publication. I think your frankness does you great credit. is he going to take you for a nice drive? Algernon. there she is. Cecily. Then have we got to part? Algernon. I’m in love with Cecily. [Puts her hand over it. Algernon. The dog-cart is at the door. I am quite ready for more. I merely came back to water the roses. I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection. [Goes over to table and begins writing in diary. Cecily. It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. He’s gone to order the dog-cart for me. May I? Cecily. Do you really keep a diary? I’d give anything to look at it. don’t stop. Miss. Ah. But pray. sir.] Merriman. He’s going to send me away. Cecily. [Exit Merriman. You can go on. Cecily. Merriman. Oh. I delight in taking down from dictation. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable. I hope. It’s a very painful parting. I think it has been a great success. and make arrangements for another Bunbury. [Somewhat taken aback. Ernest. Algernon.] Ahem! Ahem! 33 . Thank you. [Enter Merriman. [Algernon looks appealingly at Cecily. I have reached ‘absolute perfection’. Yes.[Goes into the house.] Cecily. I am afraid so. Cecily. Oh no. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. and that is everything.] You see. It can wait. [Enter Cecily at the back of the garden. If you will allow me.] But I must see her before I go. She picks up the can and begins to water the flowers. Cecily. Ernest. Algernon. I will copy your remarks into my diary. it is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions. When it appears in volume form I hope you will order a copy.] Algernon. Oh.] Algernon.] Algernon. I thought you were with Uncle Jack.
For the last three months? Cecily. at the same hour. passionately. who makes no sign. sir. And this is the box in 34 . I determined to end the matter one way or the other. I daresay it was foolish of me. Besides. [Writes as Algernon speaks. we have been engaged for the last three months. isn’t it? Cecily. ever since dear Uncle Jack first confessed to us that he had a younger brother who was very wicked and bad. Algernon. and this is the little bangle with the true lover’s knot I promised you always to wear. Algernon. On the 14th of February last. Algernon. at the same hour. [Merriman retires.Cecily. devotedly.] Cecily. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence. Cecily. Ernest. Algernon. I don’t care for anybody in the whole world but you. I don’t think that you should tell me that you love me wildly. Cecily. The next day I bought this little ring in your name. after all. The dog-cart is waiting. Tell it to come round next week. won’t you? Cecily. [Looks at Cecily. Oh. does it? Algernon. I don’t care about Jack. And of course a man who is much talked about is always very attractive. hopelessly. don’t cough. Oh. It’s the excuse I’ve always given for your leading such a bad life. Algernon. Yes. sir. I love you. devotedly. I don’t know how to spell a cough. you of course have formed the chief topic of conversation between myself and Miss Prism. You silly boy! Of course. Did I give you this? It’s very pretty. Well. Ernest. [Speaking very rapidly. You will marry me. Why. Uncle Jack would be very much annoyed if he knew you were staying on till next week. I have dared to love you wildly.] Yes. One feels there must be something in him. Yes. you’ve wonderfully good taste. Darling! And when was the engagement actually settled? Cecily. Hopelessly doesn’t seem to make much sense.] Algernon. But how did we become engaged? Cecily. passionately. it will be exactly three months on Thursday. Algernon. but I fell in love with you. hopelessly. ever since I first looked upon your wonderful and incomparable beauty. and after a long struggle with myself I accepted you under this dear old tree here. Ernest. Cecily! [Enter Merriman. When one is dictating one should speak fluently and not cough.] Merriman. Merriman.] Cecily.
] What a perfect angel you are. Cecily? Cecily. Of course it was. But I forgave you before the week was out.] Cecily. and kneeling. of course. Yes. opens box. Algernon. [Algernon rises. Cecily. I am very much hurt indeed to hear you broke it off. Algernon. there is the question of your name. [Replaces box. You need hardly remind me of that. I wrote always three times a week. Cecily. I don’t think I could break it off now that I have actually met you. my dear child.] The three you wrote me after I had broken off the engagement are so beautiful. I am so glad. Oh. that even now I can hardly read them without crying a little. Oh. she puts her fingers through his hair. [He kisses her. Cecily. Cecily. does it? Algernon. [Kneels at table. with a little help from others. You can see the entry if you like. It would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn’t been broken off at least once. But why on earth did you break it off? What had I done? I had done nothing at all. do let me read them. Algernon. do you mean to say you could not love me if I had some other name? Cecily. You dear romantic boy. and sometimes oftener. Besides. Cecily also.which I keep all your dear letters. Cecily. but it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love some one whose name was Ernest. Cecily. and produces letters tied up with blue ribbon. You must not laugh at me.] Algernon. darling. I feel it is better to do so. I remember only too well that I was forced to write your letters for you. darling.] ‘To-day I broke off my engagement with Ernest. The weather still continues charming. I couldn’t possibly. Algernon. Cecily? Cecily.] There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. Yes. [Crossing to her. and so badly spelled. I have never written you any letters.’ Algernon. Algernon. But was our engagement ever broken off? Cecily.] I hope your hair curls naturally. Ernest. But what name? 35 . Algernon. They would make you far too conceited. You’ll never break off our engagement again. Particularly when the weather was so charming. I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Ernest. [Shows diary. [Nervously. My letters! But. of course. On the 22nd of last March. my own sweet Cecily. But.
On very important business. I shan’t be away more than half an hour. loving little darling.] Merriman. Cecily. Miss Fairfax! I suppose one of the many good elderly women who are associated with Uncle Jack in some of his philanthropic work in 36 . I’ll be back in no time. but I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention. He has never written a single book. Algernon. Miss. [Kisses her and rushes down the garden. Oh! Algernon. I really can’t see why you should object to the name of Algernon.] Cecily. Chasuble is a most learned man. Oh. thoroughly experienced in the practice of all the rites and ceremonials of the Church? Cecily. Cecily … [Moving to her] … if my name was Algy. I suppose. A Miss Fairfax has just called to see Mr. But seriously. Merriman. Half of the chaps who get into the Bankruptcy Court are called Algernon. sweet. Worthing went over in the direction of the Rectory some time ago.] Your Rector here is. I must see him at once on a most important christening—I mean on most important business.Algernon. Worthing. Well. Pray ask the lady to come out here. It is not at all a bad name. Oh. Algernon. Worthing in his library? Merriman. Algernon. In fact. But I don’t like the name of Algernon. Couldn’t you make it twenty minutes? Algernon. I might admire your character. Dr. [Enter Merriman.] Cecily. Mr. Miss Fairfax states. I think it is rather hard that you should leave me for so long a period as half an hour. Cecily. Cecily. it is rather an aristocratic name. [Rising. any name you like—Algernon—for instance … Cecily. What an impetuous boy he is! I like his hair so much. Cecily. so you can imagine how much he knows. Isn’t Mr. Yes. [Goes out. Ahem! Cecily! [Picking up hat. yes. Ernest. and that I only met you to-day for the first time. Mr. my own dear. couldn’t you love me? Cecily. Considering that we have been engaged since February the 14th. Worthing is sure to be back soon. I must enter his proposal in my diary.] I might respect you. And you can bring tea.
resides here also? Cecily. may I not? Cecily.] Merriman. I hope so. [After examining Cecily carefully through a lorgnette. in fact.] Really? Your mother. You have never heard of papa. mamma. Gwendolen. How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. [Enter Gwendolen. Perhaps this might be a favourable opportunity for my mentioning who I am. is it not? Cecily. so do you mind my looking at you through my glasses? Cecily. Miss Fairfax. My father is Lord Bracknell. does he not? And I don’t like that. If you wish. Gwendolen. whose views on education are remarkably strict. Gwendolen. [Severely.] [Exit Merriman. Cecily. papa. Gwendolen.] You are here on a short visit. has brought me up to be extremely short-sighted. I think it is so forward of them. And you will always call me Gwendolen. or some female relative of advanced years. [A pause. I suppose. Cecily. Gwendolen. Oh no! I live here. I am very fond of being looked at. And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate. Indeed? 37 . nor. My first impressions of people are never wrong. Pray sit down. Then that is all quite settled. [Advancing to meet her.] What a very sweet name! Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. I am glad to say. Gwendolen. Cecily Cardew? [Moving to her and shaking hands. My name is Cecily Cardew.] I may call you Cecily. The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. Oh no! I have no mother. Gwendolen. I like you already more than I can say. Outside the family circle. It makes men so very attractive.] Pray let me introduce myself to you. I suppose? Cecily. Gwendolen. With pleasure! Gwendolen. I don’t think so. any relations. I don’t quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. no doubt. won’t you? Cecily.London. [Enter Merriman.] Cecily. [Still standing up. is entirely unknown. They both sit down together. it is part of her system.] Gwendolen. I think that is quite as it should be. Cecily. Oh! not at all.
but it is not Mr. Yes. you have lifted a load from my mind.] I beg your pardon? Cecily. My dear guardian. Cecily. that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight. Modern. Disloyalty would be as impossible to him as deception. Worthing’s ward. [Sitting down again. and more than usually plain for your age. I cannot help expressing a wish you were—well. Yes. Gwendolen. I am not sure. I am Mr. with the assistance of Miss Prism. Cecily. I am sorry to say they have not been on good terms for a long time. Worthing’s ward. to speak with perfect candour. I am going to be his.] Ernest never mentioned to me that he had a brother. Ah! that accounts for it. History would be quite unreadable. [A pause. The subject seems distasteful to most men. quite sure that it is not Mr.Cecily. just a little older than you seem to be—and not quite so very alluring in appearance. It would have been terrible if any cloud had come across a friendship like ours. How secretive of him! He grows more interesting hourly. I wish that you were fully forty-two. Cecily. supplies us with many most painful examples of what I refer to. if I may speak candidly— Cecily. If it were not so.] In fact. one should always be quite candid. [Rising and going to her. there is no reason why I should make a secret of it to you. has the arduous task of looking after me. Gwendolen.] I am very fond of you. did you say Ernest? Gwendolen. And now that I think of it I have never heard any man mention his brother. Cecily. But even men of the noblest possible moral character are extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others. Oh! It is strange he never mentioned to me that he had a ward. It is his brother—his elder brother. Ernest Worthing who is my guardian. however. would it not? Of course you are quite.] Dearest Gwendolen. He is the very soul of truth and honour. [Inquiringly. I beg your pardon. Well. Oh. Gwendolen. [Rather shy and confidingly. Ernest Worthing who is your guardian? Cecily. I have liked you ever since I met you! But I am bound to state that now that I know that you are Mr. no less than Ancient History. Our little county 38 . Pray do! I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say. Your guardian? Cecily. Gwendolen. I was growing almost anxious. Cecily. Gwendolen. Ernest has a strong upright nature. Quite sure. Gwendolen. In fact. Gwendolen. indeed. Cecily.
A long pause.] Yes. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me.newspaper is sure to chronicle the fact next week. [Satirically. Gwendolen. that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. Mr.] It is certainly very curious. I think there must be some slight error. Cecily. If you would care to verify the incident. [Produces diary of her own. in a calm voice. if it is any disappointment to you. Gwendolen. I will never reproach him with it after we are married. Cecily and Gwendolen glare at each other. On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one’s mind. under which both girls chafe. Cecily. as an entanglement? You are presumptuous. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.] Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got into. He carries a salver. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago. and plate stand. It becomes a pleasure. for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5.] Gwendolen. When I see a spade I call it a spade. Cecily is about to retort.] 39 . [Examines diary through her lorgnettte carefully. Gwendolen. [Merriman begins to clear table and lay cloth. but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you he clearly has changed his mind. Cecily. [Thoughtfully and sadly. dear Cecily. The announcement will appear in the Morning Post on Saturday at the latest. Mr. and with a firm hand. [Sternly. table cloth. [Enter Merriman. [Very politely. Do you suggest. Miss Cardew.] My darling Cecily. [Shows diary. dear Gwendolen. I am so sorry. if it caused you any mental or physical anguish. Shall I lay tea here as usual. Gwendolen. Ernest Worthing and I are engaged to be married. followed by the footman.] I am afraid you must be under some misconception.30. rising.] I never travel without my diary.] If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once. The presence of the servants exercises a restraining influence.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. Cecily. It would distress me more than I can tell you. rising. Do you allude to me. Miss Fairfax. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.] Merriman. but I am afraid I have the prior claim. pray do so. [Quite politely. [Meditatively. as usual. Miss? Cecily.
Cecily. and beats her foot nervously with her parasol.] Cecily. flowers are as common here. From the top of one of the hills quite close one can see five counties. Gwendolen drinks the tea and makes a grimace.] Cake or bread and butter? Gwendolen. I hate crowds. is it not? I believe the aristocracy are suffering very much from it just at present. Miss Fairfax. Miss Cardew? Cecily. You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar.] Sugar? Gwendolen.] Gwendolen.] I suppose that is why you live in town? [Gwendolen bites her lip. and finds it is cake. Gwendolen. [Sweetly.] No. and the extraordinary 40 . [Merriman does so. and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter. [Aside.] Bread and butter. Miss Fairfax. Cecily. I have been told. and puts it on the tray. May I offer you some tea. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition. if anybody who is anybody does. Miss Fairfax? Gwendolen. as people are in London. Cecily. Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country. you have given me cake. Puts down cup at once. [Cuts a very large slice of cake. thank you. [Looking round. [In a bored manner. Five counties! I don’t think I should like that. I had no idea there were any flowers in the country. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.Gwendolen. [Superciliously. takes up the tongs and puts four lumps of sugar into the cup. please. and goes out with footman. Ah! This is what the newspapers call agricultural depression. [Severely. Oh. Gwendolen. [With elaborate politeness. Cecily. Sugar is not fashionable any more. Gwendolen. The country always bores me to death. reaches out her hand to the bread and butter. Rises in indignation. It is almost an epidemic amongst them. looks at it.] Thank you. Oh! yes! a great many. So glad you like it.] Detestable girl! But I require tea! Cecily. [Sweetly.] Hand that to Miss Fairfax.] Quite a well-kept garden this is. Are there many interesting walks in the vicinity. Cecily. Miss Cardew. [Cecily looks angrily at her.] Gwendolen.
Miss Fairfax. [Laughing.] Ernest! My own Ernest! Jack. I mean to Gwendolen.] Gwendolen. From the moment I saw you I distrusted you. you may go too far.sweetness of my nature. trusting boy from the machinations of any other girl there are no lengths to which I would not go.] I knew there must be some misunderstanding. Mr. Thank you. I beg your pardon? Cecily. This is Uncle Jack.] Cecily. I felt that you were false and deceitful. [Draws back. [Laughing. No doubt you have many other calls of a similar character to make in the neighbourhood. that I am trespassing on your valuable time. innocent. [Very sweetly.] My own love! [Offers to kiss her.] Jack! Oh! [Enter Algernon. The gentleman whose arm is at present round your waist is my guardian. [Rising.] You may. Cecily. John Worthing. Algernon. [Drawing back. Gwendolen! Darling! [Offers to kiss her. Thank you. I am never deceived in such matters. Gwendolen. It seems to me. Gwendolen. [Catching sight of him.] 41 .] Gwendolen. Ernest! May I ask you—are you engaged to be married to this young lady? Algernon. My first impressions of people are invariably right. Miss Cardew. Gwendolen. Miss Fairfax. You may! [Offers her cheek.] To dear little Cecily! Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Gwendolen. [Algernon kisses her.] A moment! May I ask if you are engaged to be married to this young lady? [Points to Cecily. [Receding.] Jack.] A moment. [Looking round. Cecily.] Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Cecily. Gwendolen.] To what young lady? Good heavens! Gwendolen! Cecily.] Cecily. [Presenting her cheek to be kissed. Here is Ernest.] To save my poor. Yes! to good heavens. Algernon. but I warn you. [Goes straight over to Cecily without noticing any one else. [Enter Jack.] Cecily.
Oh! Gwendolen.Gwendolen. Gwendolen.] Gwendolen—Cecily—it is very painful for me to be forced to speak the truth. It has been John for years. will you not? [They embrace. The gentleman who is now embracing you is my cousin. I could deny anything if I liked. [Rather brightly. [To Gwendolen. I felt there was some slight error. Are you called Algernon? Algernon. An admirable idea! Mr.] None! Gwendolen. so it is a matter of some importance to us to know where your brother Ernest is at present. But my name certainly is John. Not even of an kind. there is just one question I would like to be permitted to put to you. Is your name really John? Jack. that neither of us is engaged to be married to any one. [Standing rather proudly. I am afraid it is quite clear. Mr. Cecily. [Pleasantly. My sweet wronged Gwendolen! Gwendolen. [Slowly and hesitatingly. Jack. My poor wounded Cecily! Cecily. Gwendolen. Cecily. I will tell you quite frankly that I have no brother Ernest. Algernon Moncrieff. Gwendolen.] Cecily.] A gross deception has been practised on both of us.] You will call me sister.] I could deny it if I liked. [Breaking away from Algernon. 42 . [Surprised. However. I never had a brother in my life. Cecily.] No brother at all? Jack. [Slowly and seriously. Worthing. [Severely. [Cheerily. Jack and Algernon groan and walk up and down.] There is just one question I would like to be allowed to ask my guardian.] Algernon Moncrieff! Oh! [The two girls move towards each other and put their arms round each other’s waists as if for protection. Cecily.] Cecily. I cannot deny it. It is the first time in my life that I have ever been reduced to such a painful position. Where is your brother Ernest? We are both engaged to be married to your brother Ernest. Cecily. I have no brother at all. and I am really quite inexperienced in doing anything of the kind.] Never.] Had you never a brother of any kind? Jack. and I certainly have not the smallest intention of ever having one in the future. Miss Cardew.
Yes. Jack. Serious Bunburyist! Good heavens! Algernon. simple. I adore her.Cecily. Let us go into the house. They will hardly venture to come after us there. dear Algy. Algernon. To say nothing of the fact that she is my ward. You won’t be able to run down to the country quite so often as you used to do. that is no business of yours. aren’t they? [They retire into the house with scornful looks. the only small satisfaction I have in the whole of this wretched business is that your friend Bunbury is quite exploded. innocent girl like that is quite inexcusable. Algernon. Algernon. I suppose? Algernon. I wanted to be engaged to Gwendolen. Jack. That is absurd. you’ve no right whatsoever to Bunbury here. Algernon. men are so cowardly. I simply wanted to be engaged to Cecily. Every serious Bunburyist knows that. Your brother is a little off colour. Well. Jack. And a very good thing too. if one wants to have any amusement in life. Algernon. No. I love her. Jack. thoroughly experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax. Jack. As for your conduct towards Miss Cardew. Jack. Is it? Gwendolen. Well. and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. There is certainly no chance of your marrying Miss Cardew. I must say that your taking in a sweet. one must be serious about something. Well. Jack. clever.] Jack. that is all. To say nothing of the fact that she is my cousin. You have such an absolutely trivial nature. Cecily. Well. isn’t he. dear Jack? You won’t be able to disappear to London quite so frequently as your wicked custom was. And not a bad thing either. I don’t think there is much likelihood. This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. About everything. Well. I happen to be serious about Bunburying. 43 . It is not a very pleasant position for a young girl suddenly to find herself in. I should fancy. of you and Miss Fairfax being united. Jack. I can see no possible defence at all for your deceiving a brilliant. What on earth you are serious about I haven’t got the remotest idea. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life.
But the muffins are the same. [He seizes the muffin-dish from Jack. I am particularly fond of muffins. Jack. Jack. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. under the circumstances.] It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. [Rising. I wish to goodness you would go. Algy. Algernon. [Rising.] Well. that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. I never go without my dinner. That may be. I have a perfect right to be christened if I like. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless. Besides. [Takes muffins from Algernon. Besides.] Jack. Besides I have just made arrangements with Dr. when I am in really great trouble. and then merely at dinner parties.] Algernon. You can’t possibly ask me to go without having some dinner.30. I wouldn’t talk about it. except vegetarians and people like that. Jack. Algernon. [Offering tea-cake. Well. We can’t both be christened Ernest.] I wish you would have tea-cake instead. Only people like stock-brokers do that. If it was my business. I said it was perfectly heartless of you. Algernon. It’s absurd. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Algernon. No one ever does. When I am in trouble. the sooner you give up that nonsense the better. I made arrangements this morning with Dr. Jack. Indeed. under the circumstances. [Begins to eat muffins. I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. I don’t like tea-cake. How can you sit there. It is the only way to eat them. Good heavens! I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden. I refuse everything except food and drink. Algernon. But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins. It’s absurd. That is a very different thing. I can’t make out.] Jack. eating is the only thing that consoles me.Algernon. as any one who knows me intimately will tell you. I should think it extremely 44 . My dear fellow. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all. Gwendolen would wish it. Chasuble to be christened at a quarter to six under the name of Ernest. and I naturally will take the name of Ernest. calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble. Chasuble to be christened myself at 5. There is no evidence at all that I have ever been christened by anybody. Jack.
You can hardly have forgotten that some one very closely connected with you was very nearly carried off this week in Paris by a severe chill. you are always talking nonsense. [Jack groans. but I have not been christened for years. Algernon! I have already told you to go. Jack. You have been christened already. Yes. That is the important thing. So I know my constitution can stand it. Algernon. There are only two left. [Takes them. It usen’t to be. Algernon. Jack. [Picking up the muffin-dish. Science is always making wonderful improvements in things. Algernon still continues eating. Algernon. I know—but I daresay it is now. Algernon. you are at the muffins again! I wish you wouldn’t. It is entirely different in your case. It might make you very unwell. Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests? What ideas you have of hospitality! Jack. Chasuble. Jack. but you said yourself that a severe chill was not hereditary. Algernon. I must say I think it rather dangerous your venturing on it now.] I told you I was particularly fond of muffins. but you have been christened. If you are not quite sure about your ever having been christened. and sinks into a chair. Why don’t you go! Algernon. I don’t want you here. Quite so. But I hate tea-cake. Jack.probable I never was. Yes. I haven’t quite finished my tea yet! and there is still one muffin left. and so does Dr.] Oh. Jack. that is nonsense.] ACT DROP 45 . Yes.
Cecily. But I haven’t got a cough. style. Cecily. Let us preserve a dignified silence. [Gwendolen and Cecily are at the window. Miss Fairfax? 46 .] They don’t seem to notice us at all. Couldn’t you cough? Cecily. Mr. not sincerity is the vital thing. Mr. Why did you pretend to be my guardian’s brother? Algernon. They have been eating muffins. Cecily. Worthing.Act III Morning-room at the Manor House. They’re approaching. It’s the only thing to do now. But we will not be the first to speak. as any one else would have done. Cecily. Gwendolen. What effrontery! Cecily. seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left. I don’t. Worthing. A most distasteful one. Certainly not. what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a brother? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of coming up to town to see me as often as possible? Jack. looking out into the garden. Moncrieff. This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect. That’s very forward of them. Yes. [To Gwendolen. Gwendolen. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. Mr. True. The fact that they did not follow us at once into the house. That looks like repentance. They whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera. Cecily. [After a pause. Gwendolen. kindly answer me the following question. Gwendolen. They’re looking at us. does it not? Gwendolen.] That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. dear. your common sense is invaluable.] Gwendolen. Gwendolen. if you can believe him. In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you. [Enter Jack followed by Algernon. Can you doubt it. Certainly. Cecily. I have something very particular to ask you. In matters of grave importance.] Gwendolen. Cecily. Much depends on your reply.
] Our Christian names! Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon. I have the gravest doubts upon the subject. [To Cecily. [Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger. That is all! Jack and Algernon [Speaking together. We are. Gwendolen. This is not the moment for German scepticism. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one. Moncrieff said. Ahem! Ahem! Lady Bracknell! Jack. But I intend to crush them. [To Jack.] Darling! [They fall into each other’s arms. Exit Merriman. I am! Gwendolen. [Clasps hands with Algernon. Gwendolen. When he enters he coughs loudly. seeing the situation. An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Yes. That seems to me to have the stamp of truth upon it. [To Algernon.] Gwendolen and Cecily [Speaking together.] Darling! Algernon. Could we not both speak at the same time? Gwendolen. men are infinitely beyond us. Gwendolen. Certainly. Jack.] To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal? Algernon.] Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory.] Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. Cecily. Cecily. True! I had forgotten. The couples separate in alarm. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity. Gwendolen.] For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing? Jack. [To Jack. I mean no. I am more than content with what Mr.] Lady Bracknell. Cecily. Will you take the time from me? Cecily.Gwendolen.] [Enter Merriman. Then you think we should forgive them? Cecily.] Cecily.] Merriman. I am. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. Good heavens! [Enter Lady Bracknell. How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned. [Moving to Cecily. Gwendolen! What does this mean? 47 . especially Mr. They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing. Worthing’s.
Her unhappy father is. Algernon. My dear Aunt Augusta. I am firm. as indeed on all points. I would consider it wrong. Come here. But of course. Jack. however. he was quite exploded. Bunbury resides? Algernon. Bunbury. Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young. I am glad. of my daughter’s sudden flight by her trusty maid. I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live. Bunbury? Oh. I am glad to say. Mr. as regards Algernon! … Algernon! Algernon.Gwendolen. Sit down.] Apprised. may I ask. What did he die of? Algernon. Bunbury is somewhere else at present. He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. Bunbury is dead. May I ask if it is in this house that your invalid friend Mr. I do not propose to undeceive him. Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr. sir.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. Lady Bracknell. of physical weakness in the old. And now. Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. he is well punished for his morbidity. You are nothing of the kind. Lady Bracknell. I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen Lady Bracknell! Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon. Dead! When did Mr. whose confidence I purchased by means of a small coin. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. If so. [Stammering. Sit down immediately.] Oh! No! Bunbury doesn’t live here. under the impression that she is attending a more than usually lengthy lecture by the University Extension Scheme on the Influence of a permanent income on Thought. Worthing. that is what I mean—so Bunbury died. Algernon. Indeed I have never undeceived him on any question. [Airily. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden. and acted under proper medical advice. On this point. I followed her at once by a luggage train. In fact. Yes. you will clearly understand that all communication between yourself and my daughter must cease immediately from this moment. [Turns to Jack. Worthing. Lady Bracknell. who is that young person whose hand my nephew 48 . Lady Bracknell. Aunt Augusta. sir. mamma. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action.
but restrains himself. But what proof have I of their authenticity? Jack. I am engaged to be married to Cecily. Lady Bracknell.] Miss Cardew is the grand-daughter of the late Mr.W. That lady is Miss Cecily Cardew. That sounds not unsatisfactory.B. 49 . and the Sporran. Dorking. Jack.] How extremely kind of you. whooping cough. Lady Bracknell! I have also in my possession. Thomas Cardew of 149 Belgrave Square. They are open to your inspection. crossing to the sofa and sitting down. [Lady Bracknell bows coldly to Cecily. So far I am satisfied. baptism. Aunt Augusta.] I do not know whether there is anything peculiarly exciting in the air of this particular part of Hertfordshire. Jack.] Jack. I think some preliminary inquiry on my part would not be out of place. [With a shiver. you will be pleased to hear. Lady Bracknell. confirmation. Lady Bracknell. is Miss Cardew at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information. Until yesterday I had no idea that there were any families or persons whose origin was a Terminus. N. S. vaccination. Moncrieff and I are engaged to be married. registration. Gervase Park. Three addresses always inspire confidence. and the measles. Indeed I am told that one of the Mr. Fifeshire. Markby. I have carefully preserved the Court Guides of the period. [Grimly. Surrey. even in tradesmen. Markby. cold voice.] I have known strange errors in that publication.Algernon is now holding in what seems to me a peculiarly unnecessary manner? Jack. Miss Cardew’s family solicitors are Messrs. Lady Bracknell. and Markby? A firm of the very highest position in their profession. Markby.] Algernon. Mr. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. [In a clear. Markby’s is occasionally to be seen at dinner parties. I beg your pardon? Cecily. both the German and the English variety. but the number of engagements that go on seems to me considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance. Mr.. certificates of Miss Cardew’s birth. Lady Bracknell. my ward. Worthing. Markby. [Very irritably. [Jack looks perfectly furious. and Markby.
] Dear child. looks at her watch. That is all. [Sitting down again. Ah! A life crowded with incident.] Yes. Cecily is the sweetest. prettiest girl in the whole world. There are distinct social possibilities in Miss Cardew’s profile. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. dear. Only people who can’t get into it do that. [Cecily turns completely round. They are worn very high. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way. [To Cecily. though perhaps somewhat too exciting for a young girl. in an age of surfaces. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. But we can soon alter all that. Worthing. of course you know that Algernon has nothing but his debts to depend upon.] A moment. the side view is what I want. The chin a little higher. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. and improve with time. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. Mr. I regret to say. Goodbye. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile. As a matter of form. Algernon! Algernon. now that I look at her. Then bends. just at present. Lady Bracknell. [Cecily goes across. Aunt Augusta! Lady Bracknell.] Kindly turn round. with a practised smile. Never speak disrespectfully of Society. Well. [Rises.] Come over here. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing.] Gwendolen! the time approaches for our departure. Lady Bracknell. And after six months nobody knew her. Algernon. [To Cecily. Mr. I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? Jack. I see. We have not a moment to lose.Lady Bracknell.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple. and after three months her own husband did not know her. And I don’t care twopence about social possibilities. Jack. Oh! about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the Funds. quite as I expected. sweet child. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady. dear. But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. Lady Bracknell. to Cecily. [Cecily presents her profile. and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. I am not myself in favour of premature experiences. any of the qualities that last. So pleased to have seen you. Algernon. Lady Bracknell. I suppose I must give my consent.] No. Worthing. [Glares at Jack for a few moments. dearest. We live. 50 . Yes.
Jack.] Lady Bracknell. Untruthful! My nephew Algernon? Impossible! He is an Oxonian. you may kiss me! Cecily. Lady Bracknell. I am Miss Cardew’s guardian.] Thank you. Lady Bracknell. [Kisses her. Aunt Augusta. he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward. not even of any kind. Aunt Augusta. he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter.Algernon. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. wine I was specially reserving for myself. ’89. but the fact is that I do not approve at all of his moral character. and that I don’t intend to have a brother. You may also address me as Aunt Augusta for the future. Aunt Augusta. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday afternoon. Under an assumed name he drank. eligible young man. I’ve just been informed by my butler. That consent I absolutely decline to give. Cecily. 51 . I think. The marriage. that he was perfectly well aware from the first that I have no brother. To speak frankly. I beg your pardon for interrupting you. about your nephew. but he looks everything. Thank you. and she cannot marry without my consent until she comes of age. and devoured every single muffin. Lady Bracknell. Cecily. Thank you. that I never had a brother. Upon what grounds may I ask? Algernon is an extremely. an entire pint bottle of my PerrierJouet. I may almost say an ostentatiously. It pains me very much to have to speak frankly to you. I am not in favour of long engagements. had better take place quite soon. I suspect him of being untruthful. He subsequently stayed to tea. Continuing his disgraceful deception. Aunt Augusta. What more can one desire? Jack. He has nothing. Thank you. Brut. but this engagement is quite out of the question. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Cecily. which I think is never advisable. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage. And what makes his conduct all the more heartless is. Algernon. Thank you. Jack. [Algernon and Cecily look at him in indignant amazement. Lady Bracknell. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance.
My dear Mr. Lady Bracknell. but I couldn’t wait all that time. as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five—a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature—I would beg of you to reconsider your decision. I am really only eighteen. Well. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Jack. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have. I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward. even to be married. Cecily. So I don’t think your guardian’s consent is. Well. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. That is very generous of you.] How old are you. Lady Bracknell. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendolen. [To Cecily. and waiting. no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. Worthing. Pray excuse me. the matter is entirely in your own hands. I felt it instinctively. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present. but it is only fair to tell you that according to the terms of her grandfather’s will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five. Cecily? Cecily. Lady Bracknell. I know. You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration. Cecily.Lady Bracknell. however. which was many years ago now. I decline to give my consent. Of course I could. after all. Moncrieff. Jack. My own decision. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. Lady Bracknell. I am not punctual myself. of their own free choice. could you wait for me till I was thirty-five? Algernon. Lady Bracknell. Jack. 52 . Cecily. Ahem! Mr.] Come here. Mr. You know I could. Lady Bracknell. Then what is to be done. But my dear Lady Bracknell. There will be a large accumulation of property. [Cecily goes over. I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody. for interrupting you again. but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening parties. remained thirty-five for years. Worthing. sweet child. I don’t know. It looks so calculating … [In a meditative manner. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty. Algernon. it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage.] Eighteen. a matter of any importance. but admitting to twenty at evening parties. but I do like punctuality in others. Yes. It always makes me rather cross. Indeed. dear? Cecily. after careful consideration I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew’s conduct to you. Algy. is unalterable. is quite out of the question.
] Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.] Come. [Looking rather puzzled. [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five. They savour of the heretical views of the Anabaptists.] Miss Prism! Did I hear you mention a Miss Prism? Chasuble. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon. That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen. Everything is quite ready for the christenings. can choose for himself. Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect. and pointing to Jack and Algernon. [Starting.] Chasuble. as things are now. This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself. Chasuble. Worthing. I forbid you to be baptized. it would be of much practical value to either of us. Lady Bracknell. [Enter Dr.Lady Bracknell.] She is the most cultivated of ladies. [Pulls out her watch. if not six. I will not hear of such excesses. Algernon. Lady Bracknell. sir! Is not that somewhat premature? Chasuble. trains. I will return to the church at once. Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to. Indeed. and the very picture of respectability. [Rising and drawing herself up. as your present mood seems to be one peculiarly secular. Yes. [Somewhat indignantly. views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons. Chasuble. Mr. The christenings. Pray allow me to detain you for a moment. remotely connected with education? Chasuble.] You must be quite aware that what you propose is out of the question. Lady Bracknell. 53 . I have just been informed by the pew-opener that for the last hour and a half Miss Prism has been waiting for me in the vestry. Lady Bracknell. Jack. However. I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money. Chasuble. Dr. of course. Am I to understand then that there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon? Jack. I am on my way to join her. Chasuble. I don’t think that. dear.
] But where did you deposit the hand-bag? 54 . I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three-quarters. Number 104. A few weeks later. dear Canon. Prism! [Miss Prism approaches in a humble manner.] Prism! Where is that baby? [A pause. Miss Prism grows pale and quails. standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater. [In a severe.] Miss Prism. Algernon and Jack pretend to be anxious to shield Cecily and Gwendolen from hearing the details of a terrible public scandal. On the morning of the day you mention. Jack.] Come here. [Interposing.] But the baby was not there! [Every one looks at Miss Prism. for which I never can forgive myself. and placed the baby in the hand-bag. It is obviously the same person.] She approaches.Lady Bracknell. [Severely. It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality. Upper Grosvenor Street.] Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex. judicial voice.] Prism! Where is that baby? [General consternation. I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. Lady Bracknell. madam. [Who has been listening attentively. has been for the last three years Miss Cardew’s esteemed governess and valued companion. [Looking off. [Miss Prism starts in involuntary indignation. she is nigh. Prism. You never returned.] Miss Prism. you left Lord Bracknell’s house. a day that is for ever branded on my memory. Lady Bracknell. through the elaborate investigations of the Metropolitan police. I had also with me a somewhat old. Jack. I must see her at once. The plain facts of the case are these. I only wish I did. the perambulator was discovered at midnight. She looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape. Chasuble. I deposited the manuscript in the basinette. I admit with shame that I do not know.] I am a celibate.] Twenty-eight years ago. who has fixed her with a stony glare. In spite of what I hear of her. May I ask what position she holds in your household? Chasuble. I was told you expected me in the vestry. [Enter Miss Prism hurriedly.] Prism! [Miss Prism bows her head in shame.] Miss Prism. [Catches sight of Lady Bracknell. Let her be sent for. but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. In a moment of mental abstraction. The Canon starts back in horror.
The bag is undoubtedly mine. Yes. Mr.] Victoria. on the lock. Jack. this is a matter of no small importance to me. I will wait here for you all my life. I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London. and often convincing. here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage. Miss Prism. 55 . [Exit Jack in great excitement. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. are my initials. Gwendolen. Jack. They are hardly considered the thing.] Jack.Miss Prism. What do you think this means. [Quite crushed. I dislike arguments of any kind. Chasuble. Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell? Lady Bracknell. Chasuble. I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them placed there. Do not ask me. Miss Prism. I hope it will last. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant. wait here for me.] It seems to be mine.] Jack. [Noises heard overhead as if some one was throwing trunks about. Dr. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me. [The noise is redoubled. [Sinks into a chair.] Cecily. Chasuble. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. [Calmly. It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years. If you are not too long. I must retire to my room for a moment.] It has stopped now. Worthing. Lady Bracknell. [Rushing over to Miss Prism. The Brighton line. They are always vulgar.] Is this the hand-bag. I wish he would arrive at some conclusion. Miss Prism? Examine it carefully before you speak. an incident that occurred at Leamington.] Chasuble. Every one looks up.] Lady Bracknell. Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated. This noise is extremely unpleasant. This suspense is terrible. And here. Your guardian has a very emotional nature. [Enter Jack with a hand-bag of black leather in his hand. I dare not even suspect. What railway station? Miss Prism. It sounds as if he was having an argument. [Looking up.
Miss Prism. Then the question had better be cleared up at once. Algernon. my unfortunate brother.] Mr. but would you kindly inform me who I am? Lady Bracknell. [Tries to embrace her again. Aunt Augusta. Miss Prism. I knew I had a brother! I always said I had a brother! Cecily. [Still more indignant. Algy. more is restored to you than this hand-bag. Jack. Chasuble. except in my affections. I did my best. 56 . I am afraid that the news I have to give you will not altogether please you. You are the son of my poor sister.] Lady Bracknell. I was the baby you placed in it. had I been christened already? Lady Bracknell.] Dr. my unfortunate brother. and another for women? Mother. not till to-day. Algy’s elder brother! Then I have a brother after all. I hate to seem inquisitive. Cecily. you young scoundrel. Moncrieff. though I was out of practice. there is some error.] Gwendolen. my unfortunate brother.—how could you have ever doubted that I had a brother? [Seizes hold of Algernon. Worthing! I am unmarried! Jack. Mrs. [To Jack. now that you have become some one else? Jack. Worthing. But after all. I suppose? Gwendolen. [Shakes hands. Gwendolen! Jack. [In a pathetic voice. I forgive you. [Pointing to Lady Bracknell. I never change.] There is the lady who can tell you who you really are. Gwendolen. you will have to treat me with more respect in the future. What a noble nature you have.] My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name.] Mr.] You? Jack. You have never behaved to me like a brother in all your life.] Miss Prism. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable. had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents. Every luxury that money could buy. who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Why should there be one law for men. At the time when Miss Prism left me in the handbag. a moment. including christening. [Amazed.] Miss Prism. Good heavens! … I had quite forgotten that point. Well. Jack. old boy. however. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment. I admit. [Embracing her. Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. and consequently Algernon’s elder brother.Jack. [After a pause.] Yes … mother! Miss Prism.
Gwendolen! [Embraces her. Being the eldest son you were naturally christened after your father. Jack.] I cannot at the present moment recall what the General’s Christian name was. I remember now that the General was called Ernest. but what was my father’s Christian name? Lady Bracknell. Algy! Can’t you recollect what our father’s Christian name was? Algernon. I mean it naturally is Ernest. But I have no doubt he had one. Then I was christened! That is settled. His name would appear in the Army Lists of the period. Yes. [Meditatively. Jack. [Irritably. [Enthusiastically.] At last! Jack. Colonel. My dear boy. Lieutenant-Colonel. and indigestion. what name was I given? Let me know the worst. Captain. Cecily! [Embraces her. [To Miss Prism.] Lætitia! [Embraces her] Miss Prism. The General was essentially a man of peace. Generals … Mallam. I admit. Maxbohm.] At last! 57 . we were never even on speaking terms. Can you forgive me? Gwendolen. Christian names. Gwendolen. For I feel that you are sure to change. Migsby. Gwendolen. it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. except in his domestic life. The Army Lists of the last forty years are here. I can. Ernest John. and marriage. Magley. These delightful records should have been my constant study. My own one! Chasuble.] I always told you. Aunt Augusta? Lady Bracknell. it is Ernest after all. I knew I had some particular reason for disliking the name. He died before I was a year old. [Rushes to bookcase and tears the books out. Now.] Yes. didn’t I? Well. and other things of that kind. Gwendolen.Jack. But I have no doubt his name would appear in any military directory. General 1869. Mobbs. I suppose. Jack. [Puts book very quietly down and speaks quite calmly. Jack. Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the first that you could have no other name! Jack. Lady Bracknell.] Frederick! At last! Algernon. Jack. And that was the result of the Indian climate. Moncrieff! Lieutenant 1840. He was eccentric. Lady Bracknell.] M. my name was Ernest. what ghastly names they have—Markby. But only in later years.
TABLEAU 58 . I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.Lady Bracknell. Aunt Augusta. Jack. My nephew. On the contrary. you seem to be displaying signs of triviality.
skillfully manipulates temporality and psychological exploration. Oscar Wilde 59 . and the prose can be winding and hard to follow. Agatha Christie introduces readers to the heroic detective. Agatha Christie The Mysterious Affair at Styles In her first published mystery.Loved this book ? Similar users also downloaded Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse To the Lighthouse (5 May 1927) is a novel by Virginia Woolf. The victim is the wealthy mistress of Styles Court. centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920. where the plot is secondary to philosophical introspection. Count Vronsky. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia. the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance. playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. To the Lighthouse follows and extends the tradition of modernist novelists like Marcel Proust and James Joyce. A landmark novel of high modernism. The novel recalls the power of childhood emotions and highlights the impermanence of adult relationships. This is a classic murder mystery set in the outskirts of Essex. most of it is written as thoughts and observations. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy Anna Karenina Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Hercule Poirot. the text. her doctor. Bertrand Russell Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays Essays on philosophy. One of the book's several themes is the ubiquity of transience. religion. science. and her hired companion. The list of suspects is long and includes her gold-digging new spouse and stepsons. and mathematics. The novel includes little dialogue and almost no action.
The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. and sacrifice her life to do so. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner. the nightingale carries out the ritual. Eleonore. a lampoon of traditional British values. Wilde noted in a letter. the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in 1890. three centuries before. and impales 60 . they succeed in victimizing the ghost and in disregarding age-old British traditions. James's." Oscar Wilde The Canterville Ghost The Canterville Ghost is a popular 1887 novella by Oscar Wilde. Otis. Seeing the student in tears. Otis dismisses the ghost story as bunk and disregards Lord Canterville’s warnings. But Mr. and one of the white roses tell her that there's a way to produce a red rose. as he is unable to give her a red rose. Otis that the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville has haunted it ever since he killed his wife. When the Otises learn that the house is indeed haunted. Hiram B. Mr. but only if the nightingale is prepared to sing the sweetest song for the rose all night. The nightingale visits all the rose-trees in the garden. What emerges is a satire of American materialism. Otis travels to England with his family and moves into a haunted country house. Oscar Wilde The Nightingale and the Rose A nightingale overhears a student complaining that his professor's daughter will not dance with him. “The Canterville Ghost” is a parody featuring a dramatic spirit named Sir Simon and the United States minister (ambassador) to the Court of St. the previous owner of the house. full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations. trials that resulted in his imprisonment. Of the book's value as autobiography. perhaps. "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages. Wilde was attacked for his decadence and corrupting influence. widely adapted for the screen and stage. Lord Canterville. and an amusing twist on the traditional gothic horror tale. warns Mr. and a few years later the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons.
61 . Molly Bloom and Penelope. and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus).. between the two works (e. James Joyce Ulysses Ulysses is a novel by James Joyce. and "everybody knows that jewels cost far more than flowers. 1904. Ulysses chronicles the passage through Dublin by its main character. creating bizarre proto-humans. G.herself on the rose-tree's thorn so that her heart's blood can stain the rose. It is considered one of the most important works of Modernist literature.. The title alludes to the hero of Homer's Odyssey (Latinised into Ulysses). H. first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920. but she again rejects him because another man has sent her some real jewels. and decides not to believe in true love anymore. during an ordinary day. Rescued by Doctor Moreau's assistant he is taken to the doctor's island home where he discovers the doctor has been experimenting on the animal inhabitants of the island. the correspondences between Leopold Bloom and Odysseus.g. and there are many parallels. then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on February 2. 1922. Leopold Bloom. returns to his study of metaphysics. James Stephens Irish Fairy Tales The lore of ancient Ireland comes to life in this collection of classic folk tales retold for modern readers. The student takes the rose to the professor's daughter. Wells The Island of Dr. June 16. both implicit and explicit." The student angrily throws the rose into the gutter. Moreau Edward Prendick is shipwrecked in the Pacific.. in Paris.
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