An Ideal Husband

by

Oscar Wilde
A PENN STATE ELECTRONIC CLASSICS SERIES PUBLICATION

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Oscar Wilde

An Ideal Husband
by

PLA THE SCENES OF THE PLAY
ACT I. The Octagon Room in Sir Robert Chiltern’s House in Grosvenor Square. ACT II. Morning-room in Sir Robert Chiltern’s House. ACT III. The Library of Lord Goring’s House in Curzon Street. ACT IV. Same as Act II. TIME: TIME The Present PLACE: London. The action of the play is completed within twenty-four hours.

Oscar Wilde
PERSONS PLA THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY
The Earl of Caversham, K.G. Viscount Goring, his Son Sir Robert Chiltern, Bart., Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Vicomte De Nanjac, Attache at the French Embassy in London Mr. Montford Mason, Butler to Sir Robert Chiltern Phipps, Lord Goring’s Servant James, Footman Harold, Footman Lady Chiltern Lady Markby The Countess of Basildon Mrs. Marchmont Miss Mabel Chiltern, Sir Robert Chiltern’s Sister Mrs. Cheveley 3

Mr. Morell January 3rd. Miss Vane Featherston. The sound of a string quartette is faintly heard. On the right is the entrance to the music-room.An Ideal Husband THEATRE RO HAYMARKET THEATRE ROYAL. CHEVELEY. LADY CHILTERN. two very pretty women. Over the well of the staircase hangs a great chandelier with wax lights. MARCHMONT Going on to the Hartlocks’ toMARCHMONT CHMONT. Mr. HAYMARKET Sole Lessee: Mr. Mr. a woman of grave Greek beauty. MISS MABEL CHILTERN. MARCHMONT and LADY BASILDON. LADY MARKBY.] MRS. MRS. Miss Florence West. from a design by Boucher . JAMES. Lewis Waller and Mr. PHIPPS. At the top of the staircase stands LADY CHILTERN. C. Mr. [The room is brilliantly lighted and full of guests. Miss Helen Forsyth. Herbert Beerbohm Tree Managers: Mr. Mr. She receives the guests as they come up. Alfred Bishop. The entrance on the left leads to other reception-rooms. Mr. HAROLD. MRS. MARCHMONT. Charles H. Miss Maud Millet. They are types of exquisite fragility. are seated together on a Louis Seize sofa.that is stretched on the staircase wall. MONTFORD. about twenty-seven years of age. Cosmo Stuart. VICOMTE DE NANJAC. FIRST ACT SCENE The octagon room at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house in Grosvenor Square. Hawtrey. 1895 THE EARL OF CAVERSHAM.representing the Triumph of Love. H. Harry Stanford. Mr. Miss Julia Neilson. H. Goodhart. H. Brookfield. Lewis Waller. COUNTESS OF BASILDON. MASON. Their affectation of manner has a delicate charm. Miss Fanny Brough. H. Charles Meyrick. Margaret? 4 . MR. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. MRS. Mr. Mr. VISCOUNT GORING. night. Watteau would have loved to paint them. Deane. which illumine a large eighteenthcentury French tapestry .

] Mr. A fine Whig type. Horribly tedious parties they give. Olivia! [They rise and go towards the music-room. MARCHMONT [Shaking her head. ADY BASILDON. Rather like a portrait by Lawrence. L ADY BASILDON I suppose so. MARCHMONT Yes. MASON [Announcing guests from the top of the staircase. MARCHMONT CHMONT. MARCHMONT About myself. and Lady Jane Barford. ADY BASILDON. Lady Chiltern! Has VERSHAM. talk about? 5 MRS. MRS. MARCHMONT So do I. MARCHMONT CHMONT. an old gentleman of seventy. and enters into conversation. MRS. L ADY BASILDON [Languidly. ADY BASILDON.] Not in the MARCHMONT CHMONT. MARCHMONT [Rising. L ADY BASILDON Ah! I hate being educated! MARCHMONT CHMONT. Are you? MARCHMONT CHMONT. So I come here to try to find one.] MASON. smallest degree. It puts one almost on a level with the commercial classes. dear Margaret! . don’t they? ADY BASILDON. CAVERSHAM my good-for-nothing young son been here? MARCHMONT CHMONT. doesn’t it? But dear Gertrude Chiltern is always telling me that I should have some serious purpose in life. The VICOMTE DE NANJAC. approaches with a low bow. Never know why I go anywhere. MARCHMONT I come here to be educated ADY BASILDON.Oscar Wilde ADY BASILDON. MRS. L ADY BASILDON What martyrs we are. us.] And how well it becomes MARCHMONT CHMONT.] LORD CAVERSHAM Good evening.] I don’t see anybody here to-night whom one could possibly call a serious purpose. a young attache known for his neckties and his Anglomania. [Enter LORD CAVERSHAM. wearing the riband and star of the Garter. MRS. MRS. L ADY BASILDON Horribly tedious! Never know why I go. MARCHMONT How very trivial of him! L ADY BASILDON Terribly trivial! What did your man ADY BASILDON. Lord Caversham. L ADY BASILDON [Looking round through her lorgnette.] And were you interested? MRS. The man who took me in to dinner talked to me about his wife the whole time.

] You are a very charming young lady! 6 CHILTERN TERN. LORD CAVERSHAM Into what? MABEL CHILTERN [With a little curtsey. CHILTERN TERN. Never could stand Lady Caversham’s bonnets. MABEL CHILTERN Oh. I love London Society! I think it has immensely improved. LORD CAVERSHAM Because he leads such an idle life. Shouldn’t mind being introduced to my own tailor. There is ripple after ripple of sunlight in her hair. CHILT N. and the astonishing courage of innocence. he always votes on the right side. like the mouth of a child. CAVERSHAM in his eyes. is expectant. She has the fascinating tyranny of youth. with its parted lips.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. But he is developing charmingly! CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. and dines out every night of the season. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Lord Caversham! . CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. But she is really like a Tanagra statuette. Sick of London Society. LORD CAVERSHAM Never go anywhere now. or the other thing? CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN How sweet of you to say that.] I hope to let TERN. changes his clothes at least five times a day. CHILTERN TERN. he rides in the Row at ten o’clock in the morning. and would be rather annoyed if she were told so. MABEL CHILT E R N [Coming up to LORD CAVERSHAM. goes to the Opera three times a week. Lord Caversham! Do come to us more often. Just what Society should be. CHILTERN you know very soon. and you look so well with your star! CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. and the little mouth.] I have been obliged for the present to put Lord Goring into a class quite by himself.] Why do you call Lord Goring good-fornothing? [MABEL CHILTERN is a perfect example of the English type of prettiness. the apple-blossom type. But object strongly to being sent down to dinner with my wife’s milliner. You don’t call that leading an idle life. L ADY CHILTERN [Smiling. MABEL CHILTERN [Gravely. You know we are always at home on Wednesdays. do you? LORD CAVERSHAM [Looking at her with a kindly twinkle VERSHAM. She has all the fragrance and freedom of a flower. MABEL CHILTERN How can you say such a thing? Why. To sane people she is not reminiscent of any work of art. LORD CAVERSHAM Hum! Which is Goring? Beautiful idiot.An Ideal Husband ADY CHILTERN TERN.] I don’t think Lord Goring has arrived yet.

She looks rather like an orchid. Mrs. I have been out of England for so long. L ADY CHILTERN We were at school together. Lady Chiltern.] I think Mrs.] Do you know. and how is the Duke? Brain still weak. on the continent. ADY CHILTERN TERN. nowadays people marry as often as they can. Cheveley! [Moves away. don’t they? It is most fashionable. Cheveley. and bows rather distantly. dear Gertrude! So kind ADY MARKBY. Since he has been at the Foreign Office. ADY MARKBY. Lips very thin and highlycoloured.] I am not surprised! ADY CHILTERN TERN. and long throat.] . popular woman. CHEVELEY . L ADY CHILTERN [Coldly. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN I hardly think there will be much in common between you and my husband. CHEVELEY [Superciliously. kindly. Cheveley.] Ah. aquiline nose. with diamonds. Then suddenly stops. and makes great demands on one’s curiosity. with gray hair e la marquise and good lace. Mrs. [In her sweetest manner. of you to let me bring my friend. A work of art. There is nothing like race. Mrs.] But have we really met before.Oscar Wilde MASON. LADY MARKBY is a pleasant. but showing the influence of too many schools. Lady Chiltern? I can’t remember where. I did not know she had married a second time. TERN. is there? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY with a sweet smile. In all her movements she is extremely graceful. CHEVELEY.] Dear Duchess. MASON [Announcing guests. CHEVELEY . that is only to 7 be expected. Cheveley. I am quite looking forward to meeting your clever husband. L ADY MARKBY [Genially. She is in heliotrope. Rouge accentuates the natural paleness of her complexion. They actually succeed in spelling his name right in the newspapers. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Enter LADY MARKBY and MRS. L ADY CHILTERN [Advances towards MRS. Cheveley and I have met before.] L ADY MARKBY Good evening.] Lady Markby. [Playing with her fan. on the whole. Venetian red hair. who accompanies her. Gray-green eyes that move restlessly. Two such charming women should know each other! ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Indeed? I have forgotten all about my schooldays. is tall and rather slight. [To DUCHESS OF MARYBOROUGH. Mrs. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. That in itself is fame. I suppose? Well. he has been so much talked of in Vienna. MRS. CHEVELEY. a line of scarlet on a pallid face. I have a vague impression that they were detestable. is it not? His good father was just the same.

An Ideal Husband NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . Ah! chere Madame, queue surprise! I have not seen you since Berlin! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Not since Berlin, Vicomte. Five years ago! NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . And you are younger and more beautiful than ever. How do you manage it? MRS. CHEVELEY . By making it a rule only to talk to perCHEVELE VELEY fectly charming people like yourself. NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . Ah! you flatter me. You butter me, as they say here. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Do they say that here? How dreadful of them! NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . Yes, they have a wonderful language. It should be more widely known. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN enters. A man of forty, but looking somewhat younger. Clean-shaven, with finely-cut features, darkhaired and dark-eyed. A personality of mark. Not popular - few personalities are. But intensely admired by the few, and deeply respected by the many. The note of his manner is that of perfect distinction, with a slight touch of pride. One feels that he is 8 conscious of the success he has made in life. A nervous temperament, with a tired look. The firmly-chiselled mouth and chin contrast strikingly with the romantic expression in the deep-set eyes. The variance is suggestive of an almost complete separation of passion and intellect, as though thought and emotion were each isolated in its own sphere through some violence of willpower. There is nervousness in the nostrils, and in the pale, thin, pointed hands. It would be inaccurate to call him picturesque. Picturesqueness cannot survive the House of Commons. But Vandyck would have liked to have painted his head.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Good evening, Lady Markby! I hope you have brought Sir John with you? L ADY MARKBY Oh! I have brought a much more charmADY MARKBY. ing person than Sir John. Sir John’s temper since he has taken seriously to politics has become quite unbearable. Really, now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I hope not, Lady Markby. At any rate we do our best to waste the public time, don’t we? But who is this charming person you have been kind enough to bring to us? ADY MARKBY. L ADY MARKBY Her name is Mrs. Cheveley! One of the Dorsetshire Cheveleys, I suppose. But I really don’t know.

Oscar Wilde Families are so mixed nowadays. Indeed, as a rule, everybody turns out to be somebody else. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Mrs. Cheveley? I seem to know the name. ADY MARKBY. L ADY MARKBY She has just arrived from Vienna. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Ah! yes. I think I know whom you mean. ADY MARKBY. L ADY MARKBY Oh! she goes everywhere there, and has such pleasant scandals about all her friends. I really must go to Vienna next winter. I hope there is a good chef at the Embassy. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN If there is not, the Ambassador will certainly have to be recalled. Pray point out Mrs. Cheveley to me. I should like to see her. ADY MARKBY. L AD Y MARKBY Let me introduce you. [To MRS. CHEVELEY.] My dear, Sir Robert Chiltern is dying to know you! SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Bowing.] Every one is dying ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. to know the brilliant Mrs. Cheveley. Our attaches at Vienna write to us about nothing else. 9 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Yes. She has just reminded me that we were at school together. I remember it perfectly now. She always got the good conduct prize. I have a distinct recollection of Lady Chiltern always getting the good conduct prize! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Smiling.] And what prizes did you get, Mrs. Cheveley? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . My prizes came a little later on in life. I don’t think any of them were for good conduct. I forget! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I am sure they were for something charming! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . I don’t know that women are always rewarded for being charming. I think they are usually punished for it! Certainly, more women grow old nowadays through the faithfulness of their admirers than through anything else! At least that is the only way I can account for the terribly haggard look of most of your pretty women in London! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Thank you, Sir Robert. An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship. It starts in the right manner. And I find that I know Lady Chiltern already. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Really?

An Ideal Husband ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What an appalling philosophy that sounds! To attempt to classify you, Mrs. Cheveley, would be an impertinence. But may I ask, at heart, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Those seem to be the only two fashionable religions left to us nowadays. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Oh, I’m neither. Optimism begins in a broad grin, and Pessimism ends with blue spectacles. Besides, they are both of them merely poses. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You prefer to be natural? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Sometimes. But it is such a very difficult pose to keep up. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What would those modern psychological novelists, of whom we hear so much, say to such a theory as that? MRS. CHEVELEY . Ah! the strength of women comes from CHEVELE VELEY the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women … merely adored. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You think science cannot grapple with the problem of women? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Science can never grapple with the ir10 rational. That is why it has no future before it, in this world. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN And women represent the irrational. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Well-dressed women do. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With a polite bow.] I fear I could hardly agree with you there. But do sit down. And now tell me, what makes you leave your brilliant Vienna for our gloomy London - or perhaps the question is indiscreet? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Well, at any rate, may I know if it is politics or pleasure? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Politics are my only pleasure. You see nowadays it is not fashionable to flirt till one is forty, or to be romantic till one is forty-five, so we poor women who are under thirty, or say we are, have nothing open to us but politics or philanthropy. And philanthropy seems to me to have become simply the refuge of people who wish to annoy their fellow-creatures. I prefer politics. I think they are more … becoming!

wasn’t he? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [After a pause. Cheveley. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] And now may I walk through your beautiful house? I hear your pictures are charming.] Allow me! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] Did you know Baron Arnheim well? . and … to ask you to do something for me. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . [Drops her fan. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I am so glad. Later on. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Picks up fan. CHEVELEY . Wonderful man. what makes you honour London so suddenly. Oh! I don’t care about the London season! It is too matrimonial. Poor Baron Arnheim – you remember the Baron? – used to tell me you had some wonderful Corots. I wanted to meet you. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Do tell me what it is. 11 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] He was very ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes: he knew men and cities well. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] No. like the old Greek. Our season is almost over. [Rises.Oscar Wilde ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With an almost imperceptible start. I find that little things are so very difficult to do. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Did you? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN But you have not told me yet ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Which do you find it? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. And sometimes it is a clever game. CHEVELEY . It is quite true.] Intimately. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I hope it is not a little thing. I? A combination of all three. Mrs. CHEVELEY . SIR ROBERT CHILTERN At one time. Thanks. CHEVELEY . [After a moment’s reflection. Almost as great as a man’s! I wanted immensely to meet you. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN A political life is a noble career! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY .] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. People are either hunting for husbands. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I don’t think it is quite a little thing. And sometimes it is a great nuisance. Sometimes. CHEVELEY . in many ways. You know what a woman’s curiosity is. [Smiling. CHEVELEY . I often think it such a pity he never wrote his memoirs. They would have been most interesting. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Sir Robert. or hiding from them. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. remarkable.

MASON. Cheveley. He reflects every credit on the institution. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Cheveley. He plays with life.] I did not think you would remember me. my dear Arthur! Mrs. And are you still a bachelor? LORD GORING I … believe so. Cheveley. LORD GORING [Bowing. He is fond of being misunderstood. A well-bred. My memory is under admirable control. I leave romance to my seniors. CHEVELEY . It gives him a post of vantage. CHEVELEY . SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Lord Goring is the result of Boodle’s Club. and partly on Sir Robert. [Enter LORD GORING. He is clever.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. at present! [She nods to LORD GORING. the idlest man in London. and is on perfectly good terms with the world. I have met Lord Goring before. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Good evening. How very romantic! 12 GORING. I hope? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. and goes out with SIR ROBERT CHILTERN.An Ideal Husband CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. GORING. but always says he is younger. That depends partly on the weather. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . A flawless dandy. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING May I ask are you staying in London GORING. long? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. partly on the cooking. he would be annoyed if he were considered romantic. CHEVELEY . GORING. LORD GORING saunters over to MABEL CHILTERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I am not old enough. with a look of amusement in her eyes.] MABEL CHILTERN You are very late! CHILTERN TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. MASON Lord Goring. CHEVELEY . There is no danger. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You are not going to plunge us into a European war. GORING. expressionless face. LORD GORING Have you missed me? . Without the dreadful disadvantage of having a Penelope waiting at home for him. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING Oh! I am not at all romantic. but would not like to be thought so. allow me to introduce to you Lord Goring. Mrs. Thirty-four. Mrs.

I wouldn’t have you part with one of them. CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Oh! a genius in the daytime and a beauty at night! MABEL CHILTERN I dislike her already. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN What sort of a woman is she? CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING I am very selfish. GORING. bad qualities. LORD GORING Then I am sorry I did not stay away longer. LORD GORING All reasons are absurd. I like being missed. Cheveley here? That woman in heliotrope. MABEL CHILTERN Well. Who brought Mrs. I think Lady Markby brought her. CHILTERN TERN. I delight in your bad qualities. LORD GORING Quite dreadful! When I think of them at night I go to sleep at once. is she not? Quite the dragon of good taste. I want to ask you a question. MABEL CHILTERN Are the others very bad? GORING. the English young lady is the dragon of good taste. MABEL CHILTERN Oh. . LORD GORING How very nice of you! But then you are always nice. [Approaching. Why do you ask? GORING. CHILTERN TERN. I find them so amusing.] Ah. GORING. that is all. LORD GORING I have only told you half of them as yet. who has just gone out of the room with your brother? 13 NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . LORD GORING That shows your admirable good taste. I read all your English newspaNANJAC pers.Oscar Wilde CHILTERN TERN. Miss Mabel. GORING. LORD GORING I haven’t seen her for years. Miss Mabel! CHILTERN TERN. By the way. VICOMTE DE NANJAC . CHILTERN TERN. GORING. Lord Goring. MABEL CHILTERN You are always telling me of your CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN What an absurd reason! GORING. MABEL CHILTERN How very selfish of you! GORING. MABEL CHILTERN Awfully! GORING. LORD GORING So the newspapers are always telling us. GORING.

They are the only place left to us where people don’t talk politics. LORD GORING I love talking about nothing. LORD CAVERSHAM comes up to his son.An Ideal Husband GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. father? Nothing ages like happiness. 14 CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. you must certainly read between the lines. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM Well. LADY BASILDON I delight in talking politics. The thing has gone to the dogs. CHILTERN TERN. But I can’t bear listening to them. Vicomte. Mademoiselle? CHILTERN TERN. You would not understand it. [To MABEL CHILTERN.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.] Delighted. MABEL CHILTERN [Looking very disappointed. You keep too late hours! I heard of you the other night at Lady Rufford’s dancing till four o’clock in the morning! GORING.] The music is in German. very heartless! GORING. It is GORING. GORING.] Aren’t you coming to the music-room? GORING.] May I have the pleasure of escorting you to the music-room. LORD CAVERSHAM You seem to me to be living entirely for pleasure. father. L ADY BASILDON [Arching two pretty eyebrows. Miss Mabel. LORD GORING Only a quarter to four. my dear Nanjac. day long. father. the only thing I know anything about. LORD CAVERSHAM You are heartless.] Are you here? I had no idea you ever came to political parties! GORING. I don’t know how the unfortunate men in the House stand these long debates. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir. I should like to. a lot of damned nobodies talking about nothing. LORD GORING Not if there is any music going on. Lady Basildon! ADY BASILDON. sir! what are you doing here? Wasting your life as usual! You should be in bed. MABEL CHILTERN [Severely. LORD GORING What else is there to live for. quite delighted! [Turning to LORD GORING. . NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . LORD GORING I adore political parties. Good evening. but my professor objects. LORD GORING I hope not. father. LORD GORING Then. LORD CAVERSHAM Can’t make out how you stand London Society. I talk them all ADY BASILDON. [Goes out with the VICOMTE DE NANJAC.

MARCHMONT CHMONT. 15 ADY BASILDON. L ADY BASILDON Perfectly tragic! LORD GORING Or comic. MARCHMONT MRS.] My poor Olivia! We have married perfect husbands.] Oh. My Reginald is quite hopelessly faultless. GORING. L ADY BASILDON [Emphatically. L ADY BASILDON Certainly not comic. L ADY BASILDON Basildon is quite as bad. L ADY BASILDON Really? LORD GORING [In his most serious manner. MARCHMONT [Drawing herself up. camp of the enemy. and so much in women that their husbands never appreciate in them! MARCHMONT CHMONT. always to others. MARCHMONT I am afraid Lord Goring is in the MARCHMONT CHMONT. he is as domestic as if he was a bachelor. Lady Basildon? GORING. I saw him talking to that Mrs. Lord Goring. it is tragic how much they trust us. ADY BASILDON. MARCHMONT CHMONT. MARCHMONT That is exactly what we can’t stand. MARCHMONT [Pressing LADY BASILDON’S hand.] Of course. the thing should be more widely known! . LORD GORING By never listening. the two ladies who are known to have the most admirable husbands in London. ADY BASILDON. You see. We have to go to others for that! ADY BASILDON. dear no! They are as happy as possible! And as for trusting us. MRS. If one listens one may be convinced. have we not? LORD GORING [Smiling.] And those are the views of GORING. CHMONT. and a man who allows himself to be convinced by an argument is a thoroughly unreasonable person. L ADY BASILDON Ah! that accounts for so much in men ADY BASILDON. ADY BASILDON.] Yes. it is a very dangerous thing to listen. and we are well punished for it. as usual. MARCHMONT [With a sigh. that I have never understood. GORING. How unkind of you to suggest such a thing! MRS. MRS. Cheveley when he came in. at times! There is not the smallest element of excitement in knowing him. GORING. He is really unendurably so. LORD GORING I should have thought it was the husbands who were punished.Oscar Wilde GORING. LORD GORING How terrible! Really. MRS.] Our husbands never appreciate anything in us.

Cheveley! Lord Goring says . Olivia! MABEL CHILTERN Is it morbid to have a desire for food? CHILTERN TERN. aren’t they? MARCHMONT CHMONT. Cheveley to make. MARCHMONT CHMONT. L ADY BASILDON What a horrid combination! So very unnatural! MARCHMONT CHMONT.] Oh! do you really think that is what Mrs.] I have always said. MRS. [Enter MABEL CHILTERN. Lord Goring. GORING. LORD GORING I did wait. MARCHMONT [In her most dreamy manner. LORD GORING She is quite right. Marchmont! MARCHMONT CHMONT. MARCHMONT [After a pause. and he has never once told me that I was morbid. MARCHMONT Ah! but you are always sympathetic. London Society was entirely made up of dowdies and dandies. and listening to beautiful people. I have a great desire for food. L ADY BASILDON [Turning to her. She joins the group. too.] CHILTERN TERN.An Ideal Husband GORING. L ADY BASILDON [Stiffly.] I am so glad to hear you say that. Marchmont and I have been married for seven years. dear Margaret. The men are all dowdies and the women are all dandies. Lord Goring. Mrs.] I like looking at geniuses. You might wait for us to do that! GORING. And a very sensible remark for Mrs. Cheveley? Oh! I remember. Cheveley meant? GORING. GORING. too. MRS. as far as she could see. MRS. LORD GORING Handsome woman. that you were the most morbid person in London. will you give me some supper? . LORD GORING Of course. MARCHMONT CHMONT. L ORD GORING Ah! that is morbid of you. we are not going to praise her. I hear she went to the Opera on Monday night. and told Tommy Rufford at supper that. MARCHMONT [Brightening to a look of real pleasure. MRS.] Please don’t praise other women in our presence. Mrs. Cheveley! ADY BASILDON. MRS. Men are so painfully unobservant! ADY BASILDON. MARCHMONT Well. about Mrs. that she was a genius in the day16 time and a beauty at night.what did you say. MABEL CHILTERN Why are you talking about Mrs. Cheveley? Everybody is talking about Mrs. ADY BASILDON.

MARCHMONT Olivia. MARCHMONT [Languidly. I don’t think I like you at all this evening! GORING. Mr. MABEL CHILTERN Well. grossly material! [The VICOMTE DE NANJAC enters from the music-room with some other guests. Miss Mabel. MR. May I have the honour of taking you down to supper. LADY BASILDON. ADY BASILDON. Comtesse? ADY BASILDON. seeing this. [Moves away with her. L ADY BASILDON Men are grossly material. rises at once and takes his arm. MRS.] I never take supper. . Mrs. I know I should like some supper. MONTFORD Like some supper. MRS. CHILTERN TERN. Vicomte. After having carefully examined all the people present. L ADY BASILDON [Coldly. I think I should like some supper very much. [The VICOMTE is about to retire. LORD GORING How could I? You went away with the child-diplomatist. LORD GORING With pleasure. MRS. NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . he approaches LADY BASILDON. thank you.Oscar Wilde GORING. I wish you’d show it in a more marked way! [They go downstairs.] NANJAC VICOMTE DE NANJAC . MARCHMONT.] MARCHMONT CHMONT. L ADY BASILDON I am positively dying for supper. PurCHILTERN TERN.] But I will come down with you with pleasure. MABEL CHILTERN You might have followed us. Vicomte. quite English. LADY BASILDON You look quite English. MARCHMONT Men are so horribly selfish. Margaret! MARCHMONT CHMONT. [They pass out. MONTFORD. a perfectly groomed young dandy. MABEL CHILTERN How horrid you have been! You have never talked to me the whole evening! GORING.] Thank you.] CHILTERN TERN. ADY BASILDON. 17 ADY BASILDON. I have a curious feeling of absolute faintness.] MR. MARCHMONT CHMONT. Marchmont? MONTFORD. suit would have been only polite. they never think of these things. I am so fond of eating! I am very English in all my tastes. LORD GORING I like you immensely. approaches MRS.

A speculation. It was necessary that we should have control. weren’t you. no! I can’t stand your English house-parties. MONTFORD I don’t know that I should like that either. do not make these painful scenes of jealousy in public! [They go downstairs with the other guests. MARCHMONT CHMONT. It gave us our direct route to India. Oh. MONTFORD I don’t know that I like being watched when I am eating! MARCHMONT CHMONT. MARCHMONT [Severely. Mr. But the Suez Canal was a very great and splendid undertaking. What I don’t like are tedious.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. [Sits down on the sofa. I want to talk to you about a great political and financial scheme. passing SIR ROBERT CHILTERN and MRS. you are interested. Let us call things by their proper names. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Taking a seat beside her. CHEVELEY . Montford. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. in International Canal schemes. You were Lord Radley’s secretary. I never touch supper. Mrs. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Believe me. in fact. it is a swindle. Sir Robert. MONTFORD. Mrs. Cheveley. practical people. practical subject for you to talk about. about this Argentine Canal Company. when the Government bought the Suez Canal shares? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Besides. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast. MRS. [Rises hastily and takes his arm. CHEVELEY . SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What a tedious. Quite seriously.] Seriously? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. practical subjects.] Pray. MR. MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN And are you going to any of our country houses before you leave England. In England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast.] But I will sit beside you. MARCHMONT Then I will watch some one else. and watch you. I like tedious. Cheveley! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. This Argentine scheme is a commonplace Stock Exchange swindle. Sir Robert! A brilliant. CHEVELEY. My stay in England really depends on you.An Ideal Husband Montford. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. It had imperial value. And then the family skeleton is always reading family prayers. Cheveley? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY .] 18 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. There is a wide difference. . MONTFORD. who now enter. CHEVELEY . Oh. daring speculation. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I know. It makes ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. MR. Mrs.

CHEVELEY . you. That you must not do. [Shaking her head. no one seems to know what has become of it. that he had been mixed up in the whole affair. [Motions to him with her fan to sit down again beside her. The whole thing is a second Panama. 19 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I want to talk business. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Who? MRS. I will be quite frank with you.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I fear I have no advice to give ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] But you have not seen my Corots yet.] In ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Your old friend – and mine. Cheveley. what do you mean? [Sits down beside her. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Frowning. I want you to withdraw the report that you had intended to lay before the House. Baron Arnheim. CHEVELE VELEY ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rising. In your own interests. Cheveley. to say nothing of mine. The success of the Canal depends. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . I sent out a special Commission to inquire into the matter privately. CHEVELEY . I remember hearing.Oscar Wilde matters simpler. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. In fact. CHEVELEY .] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Looking at her in wonder. We have all the information about it at the Foreign Office. you must not do that. and I am going to lay the report of the Commissioners before the House to-morrow night. and they report that the works are hardly begun. Sir Robert. CHEVELEY .] Ah! yes. They are in the music-room. or rose-pink dawns. on the ground that you have reasons to believe that the Commissioners have been preju- . my own interests? My dear Mrs. and as for the money already subscribed. I hope you have not invested in it. don’t they? May I show them to you? MRS. at the time of his death. except to interest yourself in something less dangerous. to do him justice.] I am not in a mood CHEVELE VELEY to-night for silver twilights. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Who could have advised you to do such a foolish thing? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. on the attitude of England. His last but one. of course. Sir Robert. Corots seem to go with music. I am sure you are far too clever to have done that. and with not a quarter of the chance of success that miserable affair ever had. It was his last romance. I have invested very largely in it. Mrs.

] If you will allow me.] Ah! but I am. or something. [Rising and facing him. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] Pray allow me to beROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. that you seem to be unable to realise that you are talking to an English gentleman. . You have lived so long abroad. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Biting his lip.] I realise that I am talking to a man who laid the foundation of his fortune by selling to a Stock Exchange speculator a Cabinet secret. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rises indignantly.An Ideal Husband diced or misinformed. A few ordinary platitudes will do. I hope you will be more reasonable in your terms. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . if completed. and keeping it there while she is talking. I suppose. CHEVELEY . The drawback is that most people are so dreadfully expensive. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Pay me! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I … will pay you very handsomely! TERN. Yes. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I fear I don’t. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Leaning back on the sofa and looking at him. CHEVELEY . It makes the whole world kin. I am quite serious. CHEVELEY . I will call your carriage for you. 20 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. lieve that you are not. Everybody has nowadays. Then I want you to say a few words to the effect that the Government is going to reconsider the question. I know I am. will be of great international value. [Speaking with great deliberation and emphasis. [Detains him by touching his arm with her fan. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Coldly. TERN. you are a man of the world.] My dear Sir Robert. and that you have reason to believe that the Canal. you cannot ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Will you do that for me? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Mrs. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I am afraid I don’t quite understand what you mean. CHEVELEY . In modern life nothing produces such an effect as a good platitude. [In her most nonchalant manner. and you have your price.] How very disappointing! And I have come all the way from Vienna in order that you should thoroughly understand me. Mrs.] I mean that I CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] What do you mean? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. be serious in making me such a proposition! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Cheveley. Cheveley. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELEY . You know the sort of things ministers say in cases of this kind. And if you do what I ask you.

CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . [Contemptuously. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What letter? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Sir Robert. or at least interest. every one has to pose as a paragon of purity. when you were Lord Radley’s secretary. CHEVELEY . Not a year passes in England without somebody disappearing. that is all! Remember to what a point your Puritanism in England has brought you. You thought that letter had been destroyed. Sir Robert. Oh. no! This is the game of life as we all have to play it. Nowadays. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I cannot do what you ask me. In fact. Scandals used to lend charm. You must help me and my friends to make our fortunes out of another! 21 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELEY . to be a bit better than one’s neighbour was considered excessively vulgar and middle-class. It is for you to accept them. And it is not for you to make terms. In old days nobody pretended to be a bit better than his neighbours. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. to a man – now they crush him. and the price I ask for it is your public support of the Argentine scheme. CHEVELEY . CHEVELE VELEY MRS. How foolish of you! It is in my possession. sooner or later! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. with our modern mania for morality. It was a swindle.] The letter you wrote to Baron Arnheim. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Hoarsely. You made your own fortune out of one canal. My dear Sir Robert. incorruptibility. Let us call things by their proper names. And yours is a very . it might have been rejected. and I have got your letter. It makes everything simpler. what then? You are ruined.] It is not true. what you propose – infamous! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. telling the Baron to buy Suez Canal shares – a letter written three days before the Government announced its own purchase. too. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You mean you cannot help doing it. Supposing you refuse – ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN The affair to which you allude was no more than a speculation.Oscar Wilde know the real origin of your wealth and your career. You know you are standing on the edge of a precipice. And now I am going to sell you that letter. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What then? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. The House of Commons had not yet passed the bill. and all the other seven deadly virtues – and what is the result? You all go over like ninepins – one after the other. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN It is infamous.

] Those are CHEVELE VELEY my terms. why should you sacrifice your entire future rather than deal diplomatically with your enemy? For the moment I am your enemy. [Sitting down on the sofa. Sooner or later we have all to pay for what we do. you have got to promise me to suppress your report. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [In a low voice. CHEVELEY . ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. you know what your English newspapers are like. You have a splendid position. And now you have got to pay for it. . Sir Robert. to buy back your past. You couldn’t survive it. of the mud and mire they would plunge you in. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Stop! You want me to withdraw the report and to make a short speech stating that I believe there are possibilities in the scheme? MRS. but it is your splendid position that makes you so vulnerable.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Bewildered and unnerved. You are going to make it possible. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What you ask is impossible. of the delight they would have in dragging you down. Years ago you did a clever. it turned out a great success. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. and arranging the foulness of the public placard. Of course I have not talked morality to you.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. You have to. Before I leave you to-night. No man is. Think of the hypocrite with his greasy smile penning his leading article. unscrupulous thing. You owe to it your fortune and position. you would disappear completely. If you don’t … [Rises from the sofa. and to speak in the House in favour of this scheme. I admit it! And I am much stronger than you are. Even you are not rich enough. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. you sold a Cabinet secret for a large sum of money. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CHEVELEY . Wait a moment! What did you propose? You said that you would give me back my letter. The big battalions are on my side. I will not. You must admit in fairness that I have spared you that. secretary to a great and important minister. CHEVELEY . CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Sir Robert. and that that was the origin of your wealth and career. You can’t defend it! And I am in attack. Sir Robert. you would be hounded out of public life.An Ideal Husband nasty scandal. and give them this scandal and the proofs of it! Think of their loathsome 22 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. You have to pay now. If it were known that as a young man. CHEVELEY . SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I will not do what you ask me.] I will give you any sum of money you want. You must make it possible. And after all. didn’t you? joy. Suppose that when I leave this house I drive down to some newspaper office.

I see the people coming up from supper. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You must let me have time to consider your proposal. That is agreed. CHEVELEY . Sir Robert. CHEVELEY . Cheveley. L ADY MARKBY He has had a very interesting and brilliant career. One should always play fairly … when one has the winning cards. Lady Chiltern is a woman of the very highest principles. CHEVELEY . And now you can get my carriage for me. compliment I can think of. [Exit SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. I shall hand you back your letter with the prettiest thanks. ADY MARKBY. The Baron taught me that … amongst other things. If by that time – and you will have had heaps of opportunity – you have made an announcement to the House in the terms I wish. No. you must settle now! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. VICOMTE DE NANJAC. MRS. but I always admire people who do. myself. I am glad to say. MONTFORD.Oscar Wilde CHEVELE VELEY MRS. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Give me a week – three days! CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I hope you have enjoyed yourself. LADY MARKBY. I will be in the Ladies’ Gallery to-morrow night at half-past eleven. I intend to play quite fairly with you. Impossible! I have got to telegraph to Vienna to-night. I am a little too old now. CHEVELEY . SIR ROBERT CHILTERN My God! what brought you into my life? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. is he not? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LADY BASILDON. LADY MARKBY Well. I knew we should come to an amicable agreement. The re23 port shall be withdrawn. to trouble about setting a good example. dear Mrs. And he has married a most admirable wife. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. And Lady Chiltern has a very ennobling effect on life.] ADY MARKBY. I analysed you. LADY CHILTERN. LORD CAVERSHAM. and the best. MARCHMONT. Sir Robert is very entertaining. Thank you. CHEVELEY . I will arrange for a question to be put to me on the subject. Yes. I understood your nature from the first. and Englishmen always get romantic after a meal. Most entertaining! I have enjoyed my talk with him immensely. Circumstances. or at any rate the most suitable. I consent. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Moves towards the door. though . MR. CHEVELEY .] [Enter Guests. and that bores me dreadfully. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Don’t go. though you did not adore me.

Thanks! Good evening.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [With a flash of amusement in her eyes. He is going to make a speech in the House tomorrow night in favour of the idea. Mm Cheveley! MRS. can one? And now I must go. However. ADY CHILTERN TERN. I assure you it’s all settled. L ADY MARKBY We might drive in the Park at five. I mean. CHEVELEY . Except the people! CHEVELE VELEY ADY MARKBY. L ADY CHILTERN [Gently. I wanted to interest him in this Argentine Canal scheme.] A secret? Between whom? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Shall I call for you to-morrow? MRS. CHEVELEY . That is the most unbecoming thing there is. – susceptible to reason. Lady Chiltern! CHEVELE VELEY Good-night. Lady Chiltern! I have spent a delightful evening. CHEVELEY . Lord Goring! I am at Claridge’s. It has been a great success. I converted him in ten minutes. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Thanks. We must go to the Ladies’ Gallery and hear him! It will be a great occasion! ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. I have often observed that the Season as it goes on produces a kind of softening of the brain. of course. Everything looks so fresh in the Park now! MRS. CHEVELE VELEY ADY MARKBY. Oh.An Ideal Husband her dinner-parties are rather dull sometimes. L ADY CHILTERN There must be some mistake.] Between your husband and myself. Good-night. dear! [To LADY CHILTERN. What a charming house you have. dear. But. It has been so interesting getting to know your husband. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Gertrude! [Goes out on LORD CAVERSHAM’S arm. Don’t you think you might leave a card? . L ADY MARKBY Perhaps the people are a little jaded. of which I dare say you have heard.] Your carriage is here. And there is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose. It makes the noses of the young girls so particularly large. Cheveley? 24 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Entering. I don’t regret my tedious journey from Vienna now. men don’t like them. CHEVELEY . I think anything is better than high intellectual pressure. CHEVELEY . Oh. L ADY CHILTERN Why did you wish to meet my husband. I will tell you. for the next twenty-four hours the whole thing is a dead secret. A rare thing in a man. That scheme could never have my husband’s support. CHEVELEY . And I found him most susceptible. Mrs.] Good-night. But one can’t have everything.

isn’t it? [Shows it to him. MABEL CHILTERN Lord Goring! CHILTERN TERN.] You can come and sit down if you like. MABEL CHILTERN It isn’t a bracelet. Cheveley! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. except the Royal Academy. GORING. and I am thoroughly sick of pearls. Her expression is troubled. and talk about anything in the world. Mrs. pulling out a green letter-case.] CHILTERN TERN. but Gertrude won’t let me wear anything but pearls. [Goes over to the sofa. They make one look so plain. I think it most courageous of you. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Lord Goring.] CHILTERN TERN. Cheveley. or novels in Scotch dialect. I always pass on good advice. I wonder whom the brooch belongs to. It is the only thing to do with it. [Catches sight of something that is lying on the sofa half hidden by the cushion. In England I suppose that would hardly be considered en regle. After a little time she is joined by some of the guests. LORD GORING If you wish it. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING It can be used as a bracelet. GORING. MABEL CHILTERN What a horrid woman! GORING. CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING It is a handsome bracelet. GORING. Especially as I am not going to bed for hours. [Takes it from her.] What is this? Some one has dropped a diamond brooch! Quite beautiful. Miss Mabel. and replaces the whole thing in his breast-pocket with the most perfect sang froid. LORD GORING My father told me to go to bed an hour ago. so good and so intellectual. They are not improving subjects. we are more civilised. Will you see me down. MABEL CHILTERN What are you doing? . LADY CHILTERN goes to the top of the staircase and looks down at them as they descend. It is never of any use to oneself. I don’t see why I shouldn’t give you the same advice. don’t be so solemn about it. or I shall be obliged to leave a card on you. and. GORING.] I wish it was mine. LORD GORING You should go to bed. LORD GORING I wonder who dropped it. CHILTERN TERN. Sir Robert? Now that we have both the same interests at heart we shall be great friends.Oscar Wilde GORING. It’s a brooch. I hope! [Sails out on SIR ROBERT CHILTERN’S arm. MABEL CHILTERN It is a beautiful brooch. you are always order25 ing me out of the room. Mrs. and passes with them into another reception-room. Oh. puts the ornament carefully in it. Abroad.

LORD GORING Yes. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN Good-night! [Enter SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN MABEL CHILTERN Then I shall certainly bid you goodnight. MABEL CHILTERN You did? GORING. LORD GORING [Is a little taken aback. GORING. I should fancy she came to grief if she tried to get Robert into her toils. in fact. Lady GORING. L ADY CHILTERN I don’t call women of that kind clever. I call them stupid! GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN My dear Arthur. MABEL CHILTERN That is a strange request. Good-night. pray do! I have been waiting for it all the evening. LORD GORING Well. It was an unpleasant surprise.] Don’t mention to anybody that I have taken charge of this brooch.An Ideal Husband GORING. CHILTERN TERN. Good-night.] Oh. hasn’t she? L ADY CHILTERN She is incapable of understanding an ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING She has mistaken her man. years ago. you see I gave this brooch to somebody once. GORING.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN TERN. you are not GORING. [LADY CHILTERN enters alone. dear! [To LORD GORING. let me know at once. LORD GORING Miss Mabel. LORD GORING Yes. The other guests have gone. upright nature like my husband’s! . GORING.] You saw whom Lady Markby brought here to-night? 26 LORD GORING Same thing often. but recovers himself. Gertrude! [Exit. I am going to make a rather strange request to you. What did she come here for? ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Apparently to try and lure Robert to uphold some fraudulent scheme in which she is interested. L ADY CHILTERN Good-night. LORD GORING Yes. Chiltern! TERN.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. MABEL CHILTERN [Eagerly. CHILTERN TERN. Should any one write and claim it. It is extraordinary what astounding mistakes clever women make.] TERN. The Argentine Canal.

It is best forgotten! Mrs. No one should be entirely judged by their past. It is the only way by which people should be judged. she was a thief. Besides. Good-bye! [Exit] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN How beautiful you look toROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. She was untruthful. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN That is a hard saying. ADY CHILTERN TERN.Oscar Wilde going? Do stop a little! GORING. what you tell me may be true. . Why do you let her influence you? 27 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. public and ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Gertrude! ADY CHILTERN TERN.] I have OBERT TERN. L ADY CHILTERN But you told me yesterday that you had received the report from the Commission. LORD GORING Afraid I can’t. dishonest. See you soon. Gertrude! ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. an evil influence on every one whose trust or friendship she could win.] Who told you I intended to do so? L ADY CHILTERN That woman who has just gone out. thanks. We all may make mistakes. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Starting. Cheveley may have changed since then. Cheveley. or. is it? You are not going to lend your support to this Argentine speculation? You couldn’t! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. night. L ADY CHILTERN [Sadly. Robert. Mrs. as she calls herself now. I hated. misinformed. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude. And what did she mean by boasting that she had got you to lend your support. Gertrude. Robert. We were at school together. at any rate. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Biting his lip. ROBER CHILTERN reasons now to believe that the Commission was prejudiced. and that it entirely condemned the whole thing.] I was mistaken in the view I took. I have promised to look in at the Hartlocks’. She stole things. it is not true. I believe they have got a mauve Hungarian band that plays mauve Hungarian music. You don’t. L ADY CHILTERN Robert. She was sent away for being a thief. to a thing I have heard you describe as the most dishonest and fraudulent scheme there has ever been in political life? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I despised her. L ADY CHILTERN It is a true saying. She seemed to taunt me with it. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Walking up and down. but it happened many years ago.] One’s past is what one is. your name. I know this woman.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Why do you ask me such a question? ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Why do you not answer it? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Sitting down. ADY CHILTERN TERN. why do you talk so differently to-night from the way I have always heard you talk? Why are you changed? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. truth ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. What is it. Power? But power is nothing in itself. I see no difference between them. L ADY CHILTERN [After a pause. L ADY CHILTERN They should both represent man at his highest. I have changed my mind.An Ideal Husband private life are different things. L ADY CHILTERN All! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I am not changed. Or if it be necessary. tell me it is not. That is all. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN But if I told you – L ADY CHILTERN Robert! Oh! it is horrible that I should ADY CHILTERN TERN. Why should it be? What gain would you get ? Money? We have no need of that! And money that comes from a tainted source is a degradation. They have different laws. and that only.] Yes! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. are you telling me the whole truth? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] In the present case. and politics is a very complex business. One may be under 28 ADY CHILTERN TERN. LADY CHILTERN Circumstances should never alter principles! . and move on different lines. vitally necessary? ADY CHILTERN TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Sternly. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. L ADY CHILTERN What? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Gertrude. is a very complex thing. LADY CHILTERN Compromise? Robert. It is power to do good that is fine -that. have to ask you such a question – Robert. then? certain obligations to people that one must pay. Sooner or later in political life one has to compromise. Robert. ADY CHILTERN TERN. There are wheels within wheels. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN That it was necessary. L ADY CHILTERN It can never be necessary to do what is not honourable. on a matter of practical politics. then what is it that I have loved! But it is not. But circumstances alter things. Every one does. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Stopping.

ADY CHILTERN TERN. You will write. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN That what? ADY CHILTERN TERN. that is all! TERN. It is no more than that. that – 29 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Oh! be that ideal still. Cheveley. is there in your life any secret dishonour or disgrace? Tell me. tell me why you are going to do this dishonourable thing! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. All your life you have stood apart from others. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Drift apart? ADY CHILTERN TERN. But why did you say those dreadful things. Oh! don’t kill my love for you. and who in some critical moment have to pay for it. you have no right to use that word. things so unlike your real self? Don’t let us ever talk about the subject again. dishonoured. don’t kill that! SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. L ADY CHILTERN I know that there are men with horrible secrets in their lives – men who have done some shameful thing. Robert. L ADY CHILTERN Robert. there is nothing in my past life that you might not know. It would be better for us both. to Mrs. Robert! What else is there to do? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Must I write and tell her that? TERN. won’t you. and when we lose our worship. L ADY CHILTERN [Speaking very slowly. men can love what is beneath them – things unworthy. ADY CHILTERN LADY CHILTERN Surely. but not for you.] That our lives may drift apart. L ADY CHILTERN I was sure of it. L ADY CHILTERN That they may be entirely separate. Robert. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I might see her personally. You are different. ADY CHILTERN TERN. not for you. ADY CHILTERN TERN. tell me at once. It would be better.Oscar Wilde Robert. we lose everything. . To the world. That great inheritance throw not away – that tower of ivory do not destroy. stained. and tell her that you cannot support this scandalous scheme of hers? If you have given her any promise you must take it back. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude. you have been an ideal always. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. We women worship when we love. for men who treat life simply as a sordid speculation. You have never let the world soil you. that is all very well for other men. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude. I told you it was a question of rational compromise. I was sure of it. as to myself. by doing some other act of shame – oh! don’t tell me you are such as they are! Robert. Robert.

There is no answer. L ADY CHILTERN You must never see her again. The room becomes almost dark. Enter MASON. She is not worthy to talk to a man like you. We needs must love the highest when we see it! [Kisses him and rises and goes out. you must write to her at once. ADY CHILTERN TERN. that you have brought into the political life of our time a nobler atmosphere. [Exit MASON.] Have this letter sent at once to Claridge’s Hotel. No. Robert. from something that might have made men honour you less than they do. love me always! ADY CHILTERN TERN. now. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Oh. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Write this moment! ADY CHILTERN TERN. Robert. love gives one an instinct to things. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. and puts her arms around him. then sits down and buries his face in his hands. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN sits down and writes a letter. Mason. Write that you decline to support this scheme of hers. put out the lights! [The Servant puts out the lights. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN But it is so late. [Rings bell. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. Gertrude.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Put out the lights. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Yes – write the word dishonest. She knows what that word means. She must know at once that she has been mistaken in you – and that you are not a man to do anything base or underhand or dishonourable. a freer air of purer aims and higher ideals – I know it. and let your letter show her that your decision is quite irrevocable! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. this moment. Robert. love me always. She is not a woman you should ever speak to. Robert. as you hold it to be a dishonest scheme.] Robert. I don’t think you realise sufficiently. It is close on twelve. His wife takes it up and reads it. because you will always be worthy of love. L ADY CHILTERN I will love you always. L ADY CHILTERN That makes no matter. that will do.] Yes. [He writes the envelope slowly.An Ideal Husband ADY CHILTERN TERN. LADY CHILTERN kneels down beside her husband. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN looks up. Write here. I feel to-night that I have saved you from something that might 30 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. a finer attitude towards life. DROP ACT DROP . and for that I love you.] have been a danger to you.] And now the envelope.] [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN walks up and down for a moment. The only light there is comes from the great chandelier that hangs over the staircase and illumines the tapestry of the Triumph of Love. The Servant enters and begins pulling out the lights.

pity! I beg your pardon. She invariably finds it out.Oscar Wilde SECOND ACT SCENE Morning-room at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house. [LORD GORING. I am always told at the club by people who are bald enough to know better.] LORD GORING My dear Robert. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN All such experiments are terROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ribly dangerous. You should have told your wife the whole thing. When could I have told her? Not last night. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN It would be quite useless. LORD GORING Well. LORD GORING [Taking off his left-hand glove.] What a GORING. ness. it’s a very awkward busiGORING. But no man should have a secret from his own wife. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Arthur. So. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN is standing in front of the fireplace. He is evidently in a state of great mental excitement and distress. of the 31 only woman who has ever stirred love within me. my wife is as perfect as all that. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING Is Lady Chiltern as perfect as all that? GORING. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. They can discover everything except the obvious. at least. LORD GORING May I try? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. is lounging in an armchair. As the scene progresses he paces nervously up and down the room. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. It would have made a life-long separation between us. and I would have lost the love of the one woman in the world I worship. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. I couldn’t tell my wife. at the worst it would simply be a psychological experiment. GORING. GORING. . Women have a wonderful instinct about things. very awkward indeed. my dear fellow. I should like to have a serious talk about life with Lady Chiltern. I didn’t quite mean that. but nothing could make her alter her views. Last night it would have been quite impossible. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. But if what you tell me is true. dressed in the height of fashion. Secrets from other people’s wives are a necessary luxury in modern life. She would have turned from me in horror … in horror and in contempt.

each one of them. the basis of my career such as it is. LORD GORING That is the reason they are so pleased to find out other people’s secrets. self. have worse secrets in their own lives. LORD GORING [Looking at him steadily. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Bitterly. most men would call it ugly names. all that I have built up. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [After a pause. Men who. if men choose to call it a sin. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN When? When we were enROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN And. Private information is practically the source of every large modern fortune. and I acted on it. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. whom did I wrong by what I did? No one. LORD GORING [Tapping his boot with his cane. and that I had done a thing that I suppose most men would call shameful and dishonourable? GORING. gaged? Do you think she would have married me if she had known that the origin of my fortune is such as it is. Arthur? GORING. 32 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING Life is never fair. Is it fair that the folly. the sin of one’s youth.An Ideal Husband GORING. If it wasn’t so. should shatter all that I have worked for. life wouldn’t be worth living …. What this century worships is wealth. Is it fair. It distracts public attention from their own. two unforgiveable things nowadays.] Men who every day do something of the same kind themselves.] Of course I had private information about a certain transaction contemplated by the Government of the day. LORD GORING Everything is dangerous. To . Robert. Robert. my dear fellow. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. should wreck a life like mine. I am bound to say that I think you should have told her years ago. There is no doubt of that. fight his century with its own weapons. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Every man of ambition has to ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. after all. Well. OBERT TERN. Arthur. should place me in the pillory. and I had the double misfortune of being well-born and poor. do you think that what I did nearly eighteen years ago should be brought up against me now? Do you think it fair that a man’s whole career should be ruined for a fault done in one’s boyhood almost? I was twenty-two at the time.] And public scandal invariably the result. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Pacing up and down the room.] Yes.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. GORING. LORD GORING [Slowly.] Except yourGORING. The God of this century is wealth.

LORD GORING You underrate yourself. I bought success at a great price. GORING.] I did not sell myOBERT TERN. When I had lost my passion for power. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I wanted my success when I was young. I think he saw the effect he had produced on me. worn out. charm. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN No. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Throws himself into an armchair by the writing-table. perhaps. GORING. No one in our day has had such a brilliant success. Personally I have a great admiration for stupidity. It is a sort of fellow-feeling. A man of culture. LORD GORING Robert. you certainly paid a great price for it.] Yes. the gospel of gold. without wealth you could have succeeded just as well. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN And if it is all taken away from me now? If I lose everything over a horrible scandal? If I am hounded from public life? GORING. LORD GORING Ah! I prefer a gentlemanly fool any day. I couldn’t wait. But how did he do it? Tell me the whole thing.] One night after dinner at Lord Radley’s the Baron began talking about success in modern life as something that one could reduce to an absolutely definite science. or could not use it. LORD GORING Damned scoundrel! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN self for money. Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the age of forty – that’s good enough for any one. I suppose. disappointed. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN When I was old. the philosophy of power. you certainly have had your success while you are still young. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. One of the most intellectual men I ever met. GORING. LORD GORING Well. LORD GORING [Gravely. I should think. he was a man of a most subtle and refined intellect. Believe me.Oscar Wilde succeed one must have wealth. With that wonderfully fascinating quiet voice of his he expounded to us the most terrible of all philosophies. But what first made you think of doing such a thing? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Baron Arnheim. At all costs one must have wealth. how could you have sold yourself for money? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Excitedly. for some days afterwards . There is more to be said for stupidity than people imagine. When I was tired. Robert. Youth is the time for success. and distinction. That is all. GORING. 33 GORING. preached to us the most marvellous of all gospels.

if one is to judge GORING. LORD GORING [Keeping his eyes steadily fixed on the carpet. Six weeks later certain private documents passed through my hands. to do what you did? 34 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING [With great deliberation. Robert. with a strange smile on his pale. a terrible courage. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rising. how did the Baron finally persuade you to -well. Arthur. his jewels. his carved ivories. the one joy one never tired of. To stake all one’s life on a single moment. I sat down the same afternoon and wrote Baron Arnheim the letter this woman now holds. as to yield to such a temptation as Baron Arnheim held out to you. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. and freedom is everything. There is a horrible. a painted scene in a play. [LORD GORING sighs. He was living then in Park Lane. Weak? Do you really think. of all men in the world. Wealth has given me enormous power.An Ideal Husband he wrote and asked me to come and see him. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN When I was going away he said to me that if I ever could give him any private information of real value he would make me a very rich man. curved lips.] GORING. was the one thing worth having.] A thoroughly shallow creed. power over the world. I was dazed at the prospect he held out to me. to risk everything on one throw. the one supreme pleasure worth knowing. Such a chance as few men get. that it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations that it requires strength. . Sick of using it about others. You have never been poor. and my ambition and my desire for power were at that time boundless.] I didn’t think so then. I remember so well how. and that in our century only the rich possessed it. and that power. strength and courage. then passes his hand across his forehead and looks up. to yield to. LORD GORING Fortunately for them. I am sick of hearing that phrase. his enamels. I had that courage. But tell me definitely.] State documents? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. and never known what ambition is. could have been so weak. made me wonder at the strange loveliness of the luxury in which he lived. power over other men. he led me through his wonderful picture gallery. GORING. whether the stake be power or pleasure. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Weak? Oh. I care not – there is no weakness in that. I don’t think so now. showed me his tapestries. LORD GORING I had no idea that you. by results. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. It gave me at the very outset of my life freedom. in the house Lord Woolcomb has now. and then told me that luxury was nothing but a background. You cannot understand what a wonderful chance the Baron gave me.

GORING. do you despise me for what I have told you? .] In public charities? Dear me! what a lot of harm you must have done. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. that money gave me exROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. In fact. [After a long pause. Not remorse in the ordinary. don’t say that. don’t talk like that! LORD GORING Never mind what I say. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Oh. I usually say what I really think. In all things connected with money I have had a luck so extraordinary that sometimes it has made me almost afraid. The sum Baron Arnheim gave me I have distributed twice over in public charities since then. rather silly sense of the word. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Thank you.] You thought you had won. thank you. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN No. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I thought so. GORING. I felt that I had fought the century with its own weapons. that when the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers. I had a wild hope that I might disarm destiny. I remember having read somewhere. Robert! I am alGORING. The Baron advised me in finance from time to time. and won. GORING. Since then everything that I have touched has turned out a success.000 pounds. in some strange book.Oscar Wilde He made three-quarters of a million over the transaction GORING. But what is to be done? What can be done? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN No.] I am very sorry for you. But I have paid conscience money many times. A great mistake nowadays. 35 GORING. fer any regret for what you had done? TERN. Robert! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ways saying what I shouldn’t say. actly what I wanted. power over others. LORD GORING [With deep feeling in his voice. It makes one so liable to be misunderstood. LORD GORING [Looking up.] Arthur. As regards this dreadful business. I will help you in whatever way I can. Robert. very sorry indeed. Before five years I had almost trebled my fortune. did you never sufGORING. LORD GORING And you? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I received from the Baron ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING [Sadly. LORD GORING You were worth more. Of course you know that. Arthur. Arthur. I didn’t. Robert. 110. LORD GORING But tell me. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I don’t say that I suffered any remorse. I went into the House immediately.

GORING. after all. popular. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. She refused. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. believe me. but they are very fond of a man who admits that he has been in the wrong.] I was waiting for you to say that. the ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Not everything. LORD GORING Robert. Besides. if you did make a clean breast of the whole affair. I know it now. It would ruin you. OBERT TERN. It would kill her love for me.] Oh. Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. And now about this woman. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN That I will not do. The rich can’t do everything. LORD GORING [Rising from his chair. How can I defend myself against her? You knew her before. OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN It would ruin me.] So little that I got engaged to be married to her once. It is the only thing to do now. It is as if a hand of ice were laid upon one’s . it makes no matter. GORING. LORD GORING [Arranging his necktie. 36 Cheveley. LORD GORING [Leaning back with his hands in his pockets. However. you would never be able to talk morality again. is … awkward. I feel certain of it. I feel that public disgrace is in store for me. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. a confession would not do. this Mrs. A confession would be of no use. LORD GORING Then the marvellous gospel of gold breaks down sometimes. The money. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I offered her any sum she wanted. when I was staying at the Tenbys’. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I couldn’t do it. the English can’t stand a man who is always saying he is in the right. Robert.An Ideal Husband GORING. There would be nothing left for him as a profession except Botany or the Church. At least. And you must begin by telling your wife the whole story. Arthur. LORD GORING [Airily. Arthur. GORING. It is one of the best things in them. you are wrong. in your case. if you will allow me to say so. only thing for me to do now is to fight the thing out. apparently. I never knew what terror was before. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Did you know her well? GORING. The affair lasted for three days … nearly. I suppose you are right. Arthur. I forget. immoral audience is quite over as a serious politician. And in England a man who can’t talk morality twice a week to a large. By the way. LORD GORING Yes. have you tried her with money? She used to be confoundedly fond of money. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Why was it broken off? GORING.] Well. GORING.

SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Puts what he has written into an envelope. Cheveley. There may be some secret scandal she might be afraid of.] OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN But how? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING It is always worth while asking a question. LORD GORING [Still looking in the glass. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Is Mr. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN In defending myself against ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You must fight her. There is some flaw in each one of us. and not quite enough clothes. which he then carefully closes. . She is thoroughly well able to take care of herself. I have a right to use any weapon I can find.] My father tells me that even I have faults. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Sits down at the table and takes a pen in his hand. Cheveley is one of those very modern women of our time who find a new scandal as becoming as a new bonnet. LORD GORING [Settling his buttonhole. TERN. Perhaps I have.] Tell him to have GORING. GORING. have I not? GORING.] Well.] Robert. you must fight her. much rouge last night. Trafford in his room? MASON. [Enter MASON. I am sure she adores scandals. Sir Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] Well. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Striking a bell. It is as if one’s heart were beating itself to death in some empty hollow. [Strolls to the fireplace and looks at himself in the glass. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I should fancy Mrs. MASON Yes. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I don’t know.Oscar Wilde heart. though it is not always worth while answering one. But every one has some weak point.] But it is worth while my wiring to Vienna. 37 LORD GORING [Turning round. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Writing. LORD GORING I can’t tell you how at present. and air them both in the Park every afternoon at five-thirty.] In your place I don’t think I should have the smallest scruple in doing so.] Why do you say that? GORING. she wore far too GORING. Mrs.] Oh. I have not the smallest idea. to inquire if there is anything known against her. That is always a sign of despair in a woman. and that the sorrow of her life at present is that she can’t manage to have enough of them. LORD GORING [Striking the table. I shall send a cipher telegram to the Embassy at Vienna. is it not? GORING.

There must not be a moment’s delay. It is only fair. Lady Chiltern! Have you been in the Park? LADY CHILTERN No. case. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I will fight her to the death. I clutch at every chance. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With a gesture of despair. where. Cheveley is a woman who would be easily frightened. LORD GORING [Strongly. your name was received with loud applause. I feel like a man on a ship that is sinking. Sir Robert. Hush! I hear my wife’s voice. Cheveley’s past is merely a slightly decollete one. Lord Goring! ADY CHILTERN TERN.] I wonder. and the very air is bitter with storm. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Oh! just give that back to me again. I shall let you know the result. I should not fancy Mrs. as long as my wife knows nothing. Robert. LORD GORING Most pretty women do. fight in any case – in any GORING. Cheveley. I will fight her with 38 her weapons. And as I fought the age with its own weapons. by the way. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Well.An Ideal Husband this sent off in cipher at once. Besides. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Oh! I live on hopes now. my dear Robert. She has survived all her creditors. LORD GORING [Smiling. GORING. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I wonder what it was. and now I have come in to . The water is round my feet. GORING.] Oh. and she shows wonderful presence of mind. LORD GORING Good afternoon. Perhaps Mrs. [Writes something on the envelope.] L ADY CHILTERN Good afternoon. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] If my wife found out. just a chance. TERN. MASON. I should not build too high hopes on frightening Mrs. but I believe in it. MASON Yes. and they are excessively popular nowadays. as soon as I hear from Vienna.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. But there is a fashion in pasts just as there is a fashion in frocks. doesn’t she? GORING. [Enter LADY CHILTERN in walking dress. I have just come from the Woman’s TERN. It is a chance. ADY CHILTERN Liberal Association. there would be little left to fight for. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN She must have had some curious hold over Baron Arnheim. MASON then goes out with the letter. and she looks like a woman with a past.

One of the prettiest hats I ever saw. Whenever you like. LORD GORING Certainly. useful. unless I find . Ah! that is the great thing in life. L ADY CHILTERN [With mock indignation. LORD GORING Really? What sort of work? ADY CHILTERN TERN. GORING. LORD GORING I’ll wait for a short time. ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. GORING. shan’t I? GORING. [To LORD GORING. L ADY CHILTERN I will be back in a moment. that you would find thoroughly uninteresting.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Everything. Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. never! 39 [LADY CHILTERN goes out through the door leading to her boudoir. Female Inspectors. LORD GORING And never bonnets? ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Oh! please don’t.Oscar Wilde have my tea. Lord Goring. Arthur. L ADY CHILTERN [With a smile. as yet. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] We have much more important work to do than look at each other’s bonnets. That is something. Makes one very unpopular at the club … with the older members. in fact. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Takes LORD GORING’S hand. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I would to God that I had been able to tell the truth … to live the truth. I’m going to look in at the Bachelors’ Ball to-night.] Never bonnets. The truth has always stifled me. the Eight Hours’ Bill. the Parliamentary Franchise …. LORD GORING I don’t know that I have been able to do much for you. to live the truth. In fact. Arthur. I am only going to take my hat off.] You will wait and have some tea. LORD GORING. delightful things. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You have enabled me to tell you the truth. Factory Acts. won’t you? GORING.] I’ll see you soon again. They call it being conceited. LORD GORING [In his most earnest manner. a thoroughly good friend. GORING. Perhaps it is. and goes towards the door. thanks. [Sighs.] You have been a good friend to me. I am thoroughly disappointed with myself. It is so pretty. I have not been able to do anything for you. Ah! the truth is a thing I get rid of as soon as possible! Bad habit. I hope the Woman’s Liberal Association received it with loud applause. as far as I can see. by the way. LADY CHILTERN Oh! dull.

L ADY CHILTERN [To LORD GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN It is nothing. If you should want me to-night by any chance. LADY CHILTERN enters from her boudoir. Cheveley? ADY CHILTERN TERN. But speak to me frankly. He is not like other men. But I’ll come round to-morrow morning. At least I don’t think so. nothing. You take far too much interest in the first subject. I want to talk to you about … well. Lord Goring. except myself.] You work too hard.] L ADY CHILTERN You are not going. not about bonnets. knows Robert better than you do. After you left last night I found out that what she had said was really true. ADY CHILTERN TERN.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING He certainly has no secrets from me. [He kisses her and goes out. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] Quite frankly? GORING.] Don’t you agree with me? You are Robert’s greatest friend. withdrawing his promise. Robert? ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING You want to talk to me about Mrs. and not nearly enough in the second. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. L ADY CHILTERN To have kept it would have been the first stain on a career that has been stainless always. and you are looking so tired. ADY CHILTERN TERN. dear. He cannot afford to do what other men do. I am so glad you have called. 40 ADY CHILTERN TERN. Of course I made Robert write her a letter at once. You seem never to think of yourself. Robert must be above reproach. or the Woman’s Liberal Association. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. GORING. send round a note to Curzon Street. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You are our greatest friend. LORD GORING [Looking straight at her.An Ideal Husband something better to do. GORING. dear. who remains silent. L ADY CHILTERN [Going to him. . You have guessed it. No one. [She looks at LORD GORING. L ADY CHILTERN Then am I not right in my estimate of him? I know I am right. [As he reaches the door. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I have some letters to write. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Thank you. and I don’t think he has any from you. GORING. LORD GORING So he gave me to understand.] Do sit down. Robert. He has no secrets from me.

Oscar Wilde ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Surely. You have nothing to conceal, have you? GORING. LORD GORING Nothing. But, my dear Lady Chiltern, I think, if you will allow me to say so, that in practical life – ADY CHILTERN TERN. LADY CHILTERN [Smiling.] Of which you know so little, Lord Goring – LORD GORING Of which I know nothing by experiGORING. ence, though I know something by observation. I think that in practical life there is something about success, actual success, that is a little unscrupulous, something about ambition that is unscrupulous always. Once a man has set his heart and soul on getting to a certain point, if he has to climb the crag, he climbs the crag; if he has to walk in the mire – ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Well? LORD GORING He walks in the mire. Of course I am GORING. only talking generally about life. TERN. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN [Gravely.] I hope so. Why do you look at me so strangely, Lord Goring? GORING. LORD GORING Lady Chiltern, I have sometimes thought that … perhaps you are a little hard in some of your views 41 ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Are you a Pessimist? What will the other dandies say? They will all have to go into mourning. GORING. LORD GORING [Rising.] No, Lady Chiltern, I am not a Pessimist. Indeed I am not sure that I quite know what Pessimism really means. All I do know is that life cannot be understood without much charity, cannot be lived without much charity. It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the exon life. I think that … often you don’t make sufficient allowances. In every nature there are elements of weakness, or worse than weakness. Supposing, for instance, that – that any public man, my father, or Lord Merton, or Robert, say, had, years ago, written some foolish letter to some one … ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN What do you mean by a foolish letter? GORING. LORD GORING A letter gravely compromising one’s position. I am only putting an imaginary case. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Robert is as incapable of doing a foolish thing as he is of doing a wrong thing. LORD GORING [After a long pause.] Nobody is incapable GORING. of doing a foolish thing. Nobody is incapable of doing a wrong thing.

An Ideal Husband planation of the next. And if you are ever in trouble, Lady Chiltern, trust me absolutely, and I will help you in every way I can. If you ever want me, come to me for my assistance, and you shall have it. Come at once to me. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN [Looking at him in surprise.] Lord Goring, you are talking quite seriously. I don’t think I ever heard you talk seriously before. LORD GORING [Laughing.] You must excuse me, Lady GORING. Chiltern. It won’t occur again, if I can help it. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN But I like you to be serious. [Enter MABEL CHILTERN, in the most ravishing frock.] CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Dear Gertrude, don’t say such a dreadful thing to Lord Goring. Seriousness would be very unbecoming to him. Good afternoon Lord Goring! Pray be as trivial as you can. GORING. LORD GORING I should like to, Miss Mabel, but I am afraid I am … a little out of practice this morning; and besides, I have to be going now. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Just when I have come in! What dreadful manners you have! I am sure you were very badly 42 brought up. GORING. LORD GORING I was. MABEL CHILTERN I wish I had brought you up! CHILTERN TERN. GORING. LORD GORING I am so sorry you didn’t. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN It is too late now, I suppose GORING. LORD GORING [Smiling.] I am not so sure. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Will you ride to-morrow morning? LORD GORING Yes, at ten. GORING. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Don’t forget GORING. LORD GORING Of course I shan’t. By the way, Lady Chiltern, there is no list of your guests in The Morning Post of to-day. It has apparently been crowded out by the County Council, or the Lambeth Conference, or something equally boring. Could you let me have a list? I have a particular reason for asking you. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN I am sure Mr. Trafford will be able to give you one.

Oscar Wilde GORING. LORD GORING Thanks, so much. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Tommy is the most useful person in London. LORD GORING [Turning to her.] And who is the most ornamental? CHILTERN MABEL CHILTERN [Triumphantly.] I am. GORING. LORD GORING How clever of you to guess it! [Takes up his hat and cane.] Good-bye, Lady Chiltern! You will remember what I said to you, won’t you? L ADY CHILTERN Yes; but I don’t know why you said it ADY CHILTERN TERN. to me. GORING. LORD GORING I hardly know myself. Good-bye, Miss Mabel! CHILTERN MABEL CHILTERN [With a little moue of disappointment.] I wish you were not going. I have had four wonderful adventures this morning; four and a half, in fact. You might stop and listen to some of them. GORING. LORD GORING How very selfish of you to have four and a half! There won’t be any left for me. 43 CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN I don’t want you to have any. They would not be good for you. GORING. LORD GORING That is the first unkind thing you have ever said to me. How charmingly you said it! Ten to-morrow. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Sharp. GORING. L ORD GORING Quite sharp. But don’t bring Mr. Trafford. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN [With a little toss of the head.] Of course I shan’t bring Tommy Trafford. Tommy Trafford is in great disgrace. GORING. LORD GORING I am delighted to hear it. [Bows and goes out.] CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Gertrude, I wish you would speak to Tommy Trafford. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN What has poor Mr. Trafford done this time? Robert says he is the best secretary he has ever had. MABEL CHILTERN Well, Tommy has proposed to me CHILTERN TERN. again. Tommy really does nothing but propose to me. He proposed to me last night in the music-room, when I was

L ADY CHILTERN Dear Mabel. and Robert is the only genius I could ever bear. in a most lovely gown. self-sacrificing character.] Oh. ADY CHILTERN TERN. I don’t know what! I hope it will be triumph of me. Robert thinks very highly of Mr. And then Tommy is so annoying in the way he proposes. They always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf. Geniuses talk so much. I need hardly tell you. don’t talk like that. don’t they? Such a bad habit! And they are always thinking about themselves. If I had. and you have a noble. As a rule. in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles. dear. we are having tableaux. You can stand geniuses. didn’t you? But then Robert was a genius. character at all. and tell him that once a week is quite often enough to propose to any one. And I don’t believe anybody else does either. But the observation crushed Tommy for ten minutes. and that it should always be done in a manner that attracts some attention. you would speak to him. I didn’t dare to make the smallest repartee. then comes running back. But he does it in a horrid confidential way. He looked quite shocked. Trafford. Cheveley. do you know who is coming to see you? That dreadful Mrs. I think they are quite impossible. You remember. You married a man with a future. I should not mind so much. [Kisses LADY CHILTERN and goes out. it would have stopped the music at once. ADY CHILTERN TERN. when I want them to be thinking about me. Gertrude. I wish. I must go round now and rehearse at Lady Basildon’s. I have no. The police should interfere. don’t you? The Triumph of something. as there was an elaborate trio going on. Cheveley! Coming to ADY CHILTERN TERN. Did you ask her? L ADY CHILTERN [Rising.] Mrs. I am very fond of Tommy. CHILTERN TERN. Only triumph I am really interested in at present. the things that go on in front of that work of art are quite appalling. and I just managed to check him in time by assuring him that I was a bimetallist. see me? Impossible! . That might produce some effect on the public. Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable.An Ideal Husband quite unprotected. If he proposed at the top of his voice. At luncheon I saw by the glare in his eye that he was going to propose again. He believes he has a brilliant future before him. Fortunately I don’t know what bimetallism means. Gertrude. but his methods of proposing are quite out of date. Then he proposed to me in broad daylight this morning. L ADY CHILTERN Mabel! CHILTERN TERN. When Tommy wants to be romantic he talks to one just like a doctor. Be44 sides. MABEL CHILTERN I know. MABEL CHILTERN Oh! I wouldn’t marry a man with a future before him for anything under the sun. Really.

] I thought your frock so charming last night. CHEVELEY . how nice of you to come and see me! [Shakes hands with her. CHEVELEY. Mabel. Cheveley? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Cheveley wishes to know you. MABEL CHILTERN Oh! Lord Goring is president. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. It will be such a surprise to her. [Takes a seat on the sofa next LADY CHILTERN. and Tommy Trafford is treasurer. L ADY MARKBY Going already? MABEL CHILTERN I am so sorry but I am obliged to. am just off to rehearsal. Miss Chiltern. Mrs.] Dear Lady Markby. MABEL CHILTERN Oh! I must shake hands with Lady Markby. CHEVELEY . unless he has deteriorated since I knew him first. [Enter MASON. . CHILTERN TERN.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. I am the secretary. I love being scolded by her. MABEL CHILTERN I assure you she is coming upstairs. I believe it is most unhealthy. L ADY CHILTERN [Advancing to meet them. MABEL CHILTERN Really? I must tell my dressmaker. The post should suit him admirably. child? Oh! I hope not. [Enter LADY MARKBY and MRS. She is delightful. CHEVELEY . And what is Lord Goring? CHILTERN TERN. I CHILTERN TERN. Remember. Mrs. CHILTERN TERN. Good-bye. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN You need not wait. MABEL CHILTERN But it is for an excellent charity: in aid of the Undeserving. CHEVELEY. Thanks. CHEVELEY [Sitting down. Lady Markby! ADY MARKBY. L ADY MARKBY On your head. [MABEL CHILTERN gives a little nod. So simple and … suitable. Lady Basildon is expecting you.] MASON.] CHILTERN TERN. I have got to stand on my head in some tableaux. MASON Lady Markby. Isn’t that Miss Chiltern? I should like so much to know her.] Won’t you sit down. and bows somewhat distantly to MRS. Mrs. as large as life and not nearly so natural.] 45 CHEVELE VELEY MRS.Oscar Wilde CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Mabel. the only people I am really interested in. Cheveley. ADY MARKBY.

I shouldn’t like to.] 46 ADY MARKBY. CHILTERN TERN. for England … and myself. we just called to know if Mrs. MABEL CHILTERN What a dreadful prospect! ADY MARKBY. I’m sure I don’t know half the people who come to my house. CHEVELEY . Cheveley’s diamond brooch has been found. L ADY CHILTERN What sort of a brooch was it that you CHEVELE VELEY MRS. you need not be nervous. I missed it when I got back to Claridge’s. I quite agree with you.] You are remarkably modern. ADY CHILTERN TERN. from all I hear. You will always be as pretty as possible. perhaps. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.An Ideal Husband ADY MARKBY. dear. L ADY CHILTERN I have heard nothing about it. pray don’t trouble. L ADY MARKBY Ah yes. CHEVELEY . and the only fashion that England succeeds in setting. we all scramble and jostle so much nowadays that I wonder we have anything at all left on us at the end of an evening. ADY MARKBY. One is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly. Indeed. Lady Markby. That is the best fashion there is. VELEY CHEVELE MRS. CHEVELEY . Mabel.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. Really. [Enter MASON. Lady Markby. . I know myself that. [Touches the bell.] Thank you so much. Yes. and I must say Society has become dreadfully mixed. I always feel as if I hadn’t a shred on me. Lady Chiltern. when I am coming back from the Drawing Room. before we came on here. L ADY MARKBY [Turning to LADY CHILTERN. It is nearly six years since I have been in London for the Season. just enough to prevent the lower classes making painful observations through the windows of the carriage. The fact is that our Society is terribly over-populated. [Goes out.] ADY MARKBY. It would do a great deal of good. Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern. The fact is. MABEL CHILTERN [With a curtsey. A little too modern. L ADY CHILTERN Here? ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Dear Gertrude. and I thought I might possibly have dropped it here. L ADY MARKBY That is quite true. L ADY MARKBY Ah! my dear. But one needn’t know them. L ADY MARKBY [Reflecting. I have known many instances of it CHILTERN TERN. I dare say I lost it at the Opera. But I will send for the butler and ask. One sees the oddest people everywhere. some one should arrange a proper scheme of assisted emigration. except a small shred of decent reputation. I suppose it must have been at the Opera. Oh.

Robert is a great champion of the Higher Education of Women. ADY CHILTERN TERN. dear? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY [Smiling. ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Lady Markby. a rather large ruby. I assure you that the amount of things I and my poor dear sister were taught not to understand was quite extraordinary. we were taught not to understand anything. I am so sorry to have put you to any inconvenience. CHEVELEY . I am told. . [Exit MASON. Cheveley? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. it has been no inconvenience. you belong to the younger generation. ADY MARKBY. I think the Lower House by far the greatest blow to a happy married life that there has been since that terrible thing called the Higher Education of Women was invented. He has sadly degenerated. But modern women understand everything. I must say it is most annoying to 47 LADY CHILTERN Ah! it is heresy to say that in this house. LADY MARKBY Well. Mason. I don’t think he has ever given me anything since. L ADY MARKBY I thought you said there was a sapphire on the head. my lady. L ADY MARKBY [Nodding her head. It really is of no consequence. and so. I am sorry to say. I am afraid. this horrid House of Commons quite ruins our husbands for us.] No. A diamond snake-brooch with a ruby. Mason? MASON. ADY CHILTERN TERN. and I am sure it is all right if you approve of it. Mrs. He has got as far as he can. losing in the Pump Room an exceedingly handsome cameo bracelet that Sir John had given me. L ADY CHILTERN Has a ruby and diamond brooch been found in any of the rooms this morning. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] Oh. of course. Lady Chiltern. Men need it so sadly. MASON No.Oscar Wilde lost. That was the old system. ADY MARKBY. well. CHEVELEY . dear. I don’t think man has much capacity for development. L ADY MARKBY They do. Really. lady Markby – a ruby. In my time. L ADY CHILTERN [Coldly. But I am afraid such a scheme would be quite unpractical. I remember once at Bath.] ADY MARKBY. I am quite sure. That will do. years ago. and wonderfully interesting it was. dear Gertrude.] And very becoming. am I. lose anything. The higher education of men is what I should like to see. You can bring tea. is it? With regard to women. ADY MARKBY. and that is not far.

CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Tea is set on a small table close to LADY CHILTERN. Gertrude. will he? The House of Lords is so sensible. who has been with one for twenty-three years. I assure you my life will be quite ruined unless they send John at once to the Upper House. You have married a pattern husband. He always seems to think that he is addressing the House. Not yours. I don’t think they can be quite improving reading for any one. is it not? I used to wear yellow a good deal in my early days. or something quite improper of that kind. I wish I could say as much for myself. CHEVELEY . Cheveley? .] ADY CHILTERN TERN.] I have never read a Blue Book. I dare say. and the footmen making contortions in corners like persons in circuses. I left the table as soon as I had my second cup of tea. But since Sir John has taken to attending the debates regularly. followed by the footman. his language has become quite impossible. and consequently whenever he discusses the state of the agricultural labourer. is he not? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I hope he is not as devoted to Blue Books as Sir John is. sort of hats they wear? would one? [The butler enters. [Languidly. L ADY CHILTERN But I am very much interested in politics. or the Welsh Church. which he never used to do in the good old days. that Sir Robert is not like that 48 ADY CHILTERN TERN.An Ideal Husband CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Oh. Lady Markby. That is the one thing the modern woman never understands. and a man on the question of dress is always ridiculous. actually blushing at the side-board. L ADY MARKBY Well. I need hardly say. I need hardly say. dear. and appealed to the country at the top of his voice. But his violent language could be heard all over the house! I trust. CHEVELEY . Why. Sir John is really a great trial. CHEVELEY . It is not pleasant to see one’s own butler. It might break up many a happy home if they did. Except their husbands. ADY MARKBY. I prefer books … in yellow covers. he stood up on the hearthrug. L ADY MARKBY [Genially unconscious. L ADY MARKBY Really? One wouldn’t say so from the ADY MARKBY. Mrs. I am obliged to send all the servants out of the room. Gertrude. ADY MARKBY. L AD Y CHILTERN May I give you some tea. put his hands in his pockets. But in his present state. I love to hear Robert talk about them. LADY MARKBY And a very good thing too. no! I think men are the only authorities on dress.] Yellow is a gayer colour. He won’t take any interest in politics then. An assembly of gentlemen. this morning before breakfast was half over. ADY MARKBY. and would do so now if Sir John was not so painfully personal in his observations.

49 ADY MARKBY. Her daughter.] The fact is.] And now. dear? ADY CHILTERN TERN.Oscar Wilde CHEVELE VELEY MRS. However. I am sorry to say. when we were there. who is in very great trouble. The art of living. But I am told that nowadays country society is quite honeycombed with them. CHEVELEY . Jekyll. [The servants go out. LADY CHILTERN Just slightly.] ADY CHILTERN TERN.] You know Lady Brancaster. [The butler hands MRS. there are so many sons who won’t have anything to do with their fathers. I think it most irreligious. like all stout women. Cheveley. . dear Mrs. CHEVELEY . More than his poor wife ever did. I know she had lost all sense of pleasure in life. In my time we girls saw them. quite a well-brought-up girl. I think myself. ADY MARKBY. of course.] Ah! I am afraid Lord Brancaster knew a good deal about that. CHEVELEY a cup of tea on a salver. [Rising. L ADY MARKBY Really. CHEVELEY . and so many fathers who won’t speak to their sons. through no fault of her own. She was staying at Langton last autumn. It is very sad. Lady Markby? ADY MARKBY. Mrs. dear? What? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Cheveley in your charge and call back for her in a quarter of an hour. No. or on to the operatic stage. Gertrude. She ultimately was so broken-hearted that she went into a convent. it is very much to be regretted. running about the place like rabbits. I can’t understand this modern mania for curates. [Turning to LADY CHILTERN. besides this affair of the curate. But there are many tragedies in her family. I need hardly say. I have promised to go round for ten minutes to see poor Lady Brancaster. Or perhaps. dear. L ADY MARKBY [Shaking her head. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. has actually become engaged to be married to a curate in Shropshire. L ADY CHILTERN Some tea. I shall leave Mrs. I forget which. I shan’t stay long. as no doubt you noticed. Fathers have so much to learn from their sons nowadays. Her own sister. too. she looks the very picture of happiness. ADY MARKBY. don’t you. L ADY MARKBY No thanks. you wouldn’t mind waiting in the carriage while I am with Lady Brancaster. So do I. if you will allow me. had a most unhappy life. and it is said that when they meet at the club Lord Brancaster always hides himself behind the money article in The Times. L ADY MARKBY Well. Thanks. very sad indeed. But we never took any notice of them. The only really Fine Art we have produced in modern times. James’s Street. And then the eldest son has quarrelled with his father. As I intend it to be a visit of condolence. I think it was decorative art-needlework she took up. I believe that is quite a common occurrence nowadays and that they have to take in extra copies of The Times at all the clubs in St.

and nothing ages a woman so rapidly as having married the general rule. L ADY CHILTERN I never change. ADY MARKBY. Mine is the general rule. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. provided there is somebody to look at one. Then the eyes of the two women meet. There is a pause. is it not? TERN.] Really? ADY CHILTERN TERN.] I don’t mind waiting in the carriage at all. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN [Rising. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN Robert and I are dining at home by ourselves to-night. L ADY MARKBY Well. LADY CHILTERN looks stern and pale. Good-bye. ADY MARKBY. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY [With an impertinent smile. I think it is right to tell you quite frankly that. L ADY CHILTERN I could not have done so. of course. I am afraid I am not fond of girl friends. That is a great comfort.] Mrs. How very kind of you. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. but remains standing. He does … nothing at all. I should like to have a few minutes’ conversation with her. Lady Chiltern! Believe me. had I known who you really were. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. nothing would give me greater pleasure. always dull and usually violent. ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHEVELEY [Rising. I believe. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY seem rather amused. Robert.An Ideal Husband CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I forgot. dear Gertrude! Shall I see you at Lady Bonar’s tonight? She has discovered a wonderful new genius. Lady Markby. will have to be in the House. L ADY CHILTERN [Makes no answer. She is made to be a public speaker.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. L ADY MARKBY Ah! no doubt you both have many pleasant reminiscences of your schooldays to talk over together. I hope Mrs. But there is nothing interesting on. [Exit LADY MARKBY. . I hear the curate is always prowling about the house. Much more so than her husband.] Oh. isn’t she? Talks more and says less than anybody I ever met. Cheveley. and I don’t think I shall go anywhere afterwards. though he is a typical Englishman. MRS. Gertrude. CHEVELEY . Cheveley will stay here a little. I should not have invited you to my house last night. L ADY MARKBY Dining at home by yourselves? Is that 50 quite prudent? Ah. ADY MARKBY. Wonderful woman. your husband is an exception. I see that after all these years you have not changed a bit. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.

] It was you who made him write that insolent letter to me? It was you who made him break his promise? ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I was sure.] Then life has taught you nothing? ADY CHILTERN TERN. Then I am sorry for you. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. And I have always detested you. I hold your husband in the hollow of my hand. Between . CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY [Elevating her eyebrows. It is because your husband is himself fraudulent and dishonest that we pair so well together. I don’t mind your talking morality a bit. I suppose. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY [Leaning back in her chair. ADY CHILTERN TERN. I saved him from that. Call it what you choose. [Starting to her feet. Gertrude. L ADY CHILTERN [Rising and going towards her. and if you are wise you will make him do what I tell him. CHEVELEY . ADY CHILTERN TERN.] In this world like CHEVELE VELEY meets with like.] You are impertinent. Gertrude. and should be shunned. CHEVELEY . CHEVELE VELEY MRS. If by that time your husband does not solemnly bind himself to help me in this great scheme in which I am interested – L ADY CHILTERN This fraudulent speculation – ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHEVELEY [With a bitter laugh.] Like the service you 51 wished to render my husband last night. What has my husband to do with you? With a woman like you? MRS. that for many reasons any further acquaintance between us during your stay in London is quite impossible? MRS. L ADY CHILTERN It has taught me that a person who has once been guilty of a dishonest and dishonourable action may be guilty of it a second time. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I CHEVELE VELEY give you till to-morrow morning – no more.] Do you CHEVELE VELEY know. without exception. Thank heaven. Would you apply that rule to every one? ADY CHILTERN TERN. I am quite aware of that. CHEVELEY . very sorry for you. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN [Contemptuously. CHEVELEY . And yet I have come here to do you a service. to every one. L ADY CHILTERN You see now. MRS.Oscar Wilde CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Then you must make him keep it. You dislike me.

[Pointing at him with outstretched finger. LADY CHILTERN stands like some one in a dreadful dream. [MRS. CHEVELEY . Let me tell you the whole thing. Gertrude. As she passes by SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. 52 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. You began your life with fraud! You built up your career on dishonour! Oh. He grows deadly pale.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Learn from him to what you owe your position. everything in which has been paid for by fraud. [Turns round and sees SIR ROBERT CHILTERN.] Look at him! Can he deny it? Does he dare to? SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Go! Go at once. L ADY CHILTERN It is not true! Robert! It is not true! ADY CHILTERN TERN. The husband and wife are left alone. L ADY CHILTERN How dare you class my husband with ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Ask him what the origin of his fortune is! Get him to tell you how he sold to a stockbroker a Cabinet secret. The same sin binds us. My worst? I have not yet finished with you. ROBER CHILTERN your worst now. and sees to whom they are addressed. Enter MASON. as though she were seeing him for the first time. followed by the servant. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN strikes the bell. But. I give you both till to-morrow at noon. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT true. A house. CHEVELEY starts.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You are unfit to enter it. yourself? How dare you threaten him or me? Leave my house.An Ideal Husband you and him there are chasms. CHEVELEY . Your house! A house bought with the price of dishonour. Cheveley out. [Goes towards her. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN enters from behind. listen to me. who makes no sign of response. If by then you don’t do what I bid you to do.] L ADY CHILTERN You sold a Cabinet secret for money! ADY CHILTERN TERN. You have done OBERT TERN.] . she pauses for a moment and looks him straight in the face. who closes the door after him. then bows with somewhat exaggerated politeness to LADY CHILTERN. You don’t realise how I was tempted. He hears his wife’s last words. Then she turns round and looks at her husband. She then goes out. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Show Mrs. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. We are enemies linked together. with either of you. tell me it is not true! Lie to me! Lie to me! Tell me it is not true! SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What this woman said is quite TERN. the whole world shall know the origin of Robert Chiltern. She looks at him with strange eyes. CHEVELEY . He and I are closer than friends. who is standing close to the door.

And how I worshipped you! You were to me something apart from common life. You prevented me. She offered security. with its hands at my throat. L ADY CHILTERN [Thrusting him back with outstretched hands. a thing pure. Women think that they are making ideals of men. or by the hands of others. faults and all? Why do you place us on monstrous pedestals? We have all feet of clay. more human than a woman’s. honest. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rushing towards her. it may be. a lonely dishonoured death. And so. show you my wounds.you whom I have so wildly loved – have ruined mine! . we love them knowing 53 their weaknesses. Oh! a common thief were better. It is wider. And now – oh. that I had thought was buried. I feel as if you had soiled me for ever. without stain. sent it back into its tomb. noble. stability. larger. and I had not the courage to come down. peace. L ADY CHILTERN Don’t come near me. ruined it! What this woman asked of me was nothing compared to what she offered to me. I was afraid that I might lose your love. You made your false idol of me. Oh! what a mask you have been wearing all these years! A horrible painted mask! You sold yourself for money. their imperfections. Why can’t you women love us. A man’s love is like that. but the imperfect. rose up in front of me. their follies. last night you ruined my life for me – yes. terrible shame. when I think that I made of a man like you my ideal! the ideal of my life! OBERT TERN. The error all women commit. a lonely dishonoured life. ruin. who have need of love. it may be. you know it. true Love should pardon. destroyed its record.] No. You lied to the whole world.Oscar Wilde ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Gertrude! Gertrude! ADY CHILTERN TERN. What they are making of us are false idols merely. I could have killed it for ever. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. as I have lost it now. No one but you. And now what is there before me but public disgrace. All lives. Don’t touch me. Love should forgive. women as well as men. some day? Let women make no more ideals of men! let them not put them on alters and bow before them. You put yourself up to sale to the highest bidder! You were bought in the market. It is not the perfect. The world seemed to me finer because you were in it. except a sin against itself. tell you my weaknesses. And yet you will not lie to me. save loveless lives. love them all the more. and goodness more real because you lived. don’t speak! Say nothing! Your voice wakes terrible memories – memories of things that made me love you – memories of words that made me love you – memories that now are horrible to me. The sin of my youth. for that reason. or they may ruin other lives as completely as you . horrible. hideous. burned the one witness against me. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN There was your mistake. but when we men love women. that love should come to cure us – else what use is love at all? All sins. the mockery of the world. There was your error. It is when we are wounded by our own hands.

Phipps. but the door is closed when she reaches it. The fire is lit. He is the first welldressed philosopher in the history of thought. bewildered. The distinction of Phipps is his impassivity. A pair of folding doors at the back open into the drawing-room. and so masters it. One sees that he stands in immediate relation to modern life. He has been termed by enthusiasts the Ideal Butler. GORING. His are all the delicate fopperies of Fashion. the door of the smoking-room. Then she flings herself down beside a sofa and buries her face. On the right is the door leading into the hall. stem to tremble in the air like blossoms in the mind. Her hands. Phipps? 54 DROP ACT DROP .An Ideal Husband [He passes from the room. history knows nothing. The Sphinx is not so incommunicable. the butler. Pale with anguish. Her sobs are like the sobs of a child. Of his intellectual or emotional life. is arranging some newspapers on the writing-table. He represents the dominance of form. she sways like a plant in the water. helpless.] LORD GORING Got my second buttonhole for me. He is wearing a silk hat and Inverness cape. LADY CHILTERN rushes towards him. White-gloved. [Enter LORD GORING in evening dress with a buttonhole. An Adam room. makes it indeed. outstretched. he carries a Louis Seize cane.] THIRD ACT SCENE The Library in Lord Goring’s house. On the left. He is a mask with a manner.

HIPPS. HIPPS. Phipps. PHIPPS Yes. and cape. GORING. She has had a loss in her family lately. HIPPS. LORD GORING You don’t. HIPPS. LORD GORING Rather distinguished thing. Makes me look a little too old. Fashion is what one wears oneself.] Don’t think I quite like this buttonhole.] And falsehoods the truths of other people. my lord. I have observed that. Phipps? HIPPS. LORD GORING Just as vulgarity is simply the conduct of other people. PHIPPS Yes. LORD GORING [Putting in a new buttonhole. Phipps. GORING. Phipps? GORING. GORING.] You see. Phipps.they are always losing their relations. which perhaps accounts for the lack of triviality your lordship complains of in the buttonhole. Phipps. PHIPPS I don’t observe any alteration in your lordship’s appearance. my lord. PHIPPS Yes. my lord. For the future a more trivial buttonhole. HIPPS. LORD GORING Other people are quite dreadful. Phipps. my lord. eh.] GORING. PHIPPS No. PHIPPS Yes. PHIPPS Yes. LORD GORING [Taking out old buttonhole. GORING. my lord. GORING. and presents new buttonhole on salver. GORING.Oscar Wilde HIPPS. on Thursday evenings. my lord. LORD GORING To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. my lord. 55 HIPPS. cane. GORING. I am the only person of the smallest importance in London at present who wears a buttonhole. my lord. LORD GORING [Looking at himself in the glass. PHIPPS I will speak to the florist. LORD GORING Extraordinary thing about the lower classes in England . PHIPPS Yes. . LORD GORING I am not quite sure. The only possible society is oneself. GORING. [Takes his hat. my lord. HIPPS. PHIPPS Yes. Makes me almost in the prime of life. What is unfashionable is what other people wear. HIPPS.

] [Enter PHIPPS.An Ideal Husband HIPPS. HIPPS.] Hum! Any letters.] But what an hour to call! Ten o’clock! I shall have to give up going to the Berkshires. my lord. one-sided institution. LORD GORING Is it worth while. I trust you. I am not expected at the Bachelors’.] Lady GORING. [Goes towards door. However. PHIPPS Yes. Wonder what Lady Chiltern has got to say to me? [Sits at bureau and opens letter. GORING. That is the only thing for any woman to do. It is the growth of the moral sense in women that makes marriage such a hopeless. She should be here soon. LORD GORING [Turns round and looks at him. when did this letter arrive? HIPPS. sir. That is the only thing for her to do. Gertrude.] Ahem! Phipps.] Delighted to see you.] ‘I want you. I am coming to you. I suppose. Well. and reads it again slowly.] GORING. LORD GORING [Takes letters. Phipps? HIPPS. GORING. LORD GORING [Holds up letter in pink envelope. my lord. so I shall certainly go there. Then takes it up.] ‘I want you. HIPPS. PHIPPS It was brought by hand just after your lordship went to the club. and not to arrive. [Goes to meet him. father? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING Oh. PHIPPS Three.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. it is always nice to be expected.’ So she has found out every56 PHIPPS Lord Caversham. I am coming to you.] Want my cab round in twenty minutes. Chiltern’s handwriting on Lady Chiltern’s pink notepaper. [Enter LORD CAVERSHAM. my lord! They are extremely fortunate in that respect. [Hands letters on a salver. Which is the most comfortable chair? thing! Poor woman! Poor woman! [ Pulls out watch and looks at it. I must tell Phipps I am not in to any one else.] GORING. [Goes towards bell] . PHIPPS remains impassive. Ten o’clock. LORD GORING That will do. [Exit PHIPPS. PHIPPS Yes. I trust you. I thought Robert was to write. GORING. That is rather curious. why will parents always appear at the wrong time? Some extraordinary mistake in nature. LORD CAVERSHAM Take my cloak off. LORD CAVERSHAM Of course it is worth while.’ [Puts down the letter with a puzzled look. my dear father. I will make her stand by her husband. and reads it.

LORD GORING But it is after seven. LORD GORING This one. GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir? 57 GORING. sir. GORING. hard work. I am very sorry. LORD GORING No. I am not married. LORD CAVERSHAM [Sitting down. Why. father. LORD CAVERSHAM Thank ye. It is the chair I use myself. when I have visitors. sir? Why don’t you take him for your model? . it is your duty to get married. LORD GORING Good many breezes. sir. it is only ten o’clock. LORD GORING My dear father! At this hour? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. Damme. LORD CAVERSHAM What do you mean. but it is not my day. You can’t be always living for pleasure. You have got to get married. sir. and at once. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir. father. Every man of position is married nowadays. Can’t stand draughts. You must get a wife. I hope. the fact is. from four to seven. Why don’t you imitate him. Too much is known about them.] Glad to hear it. make it Tuesday. It makes me talk in my sleep. LORD GORING Well. sir. Want to have a serious conversation with you. father. LORD CAVERSHAM Eh? Eh? Don’t understand what you mean. when I was your age.Oscar Wilde GORING. GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. father. Look where your friend Robert Chiltern has got to by probity. LORD CAVERSHAM Well. They are a damaged lot. sir. this is not my day for talking seriously. LORD GORING No. LORD CAVERSHAM Well. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. father. Bachelors are not fashionable any more. No draughts at home. What is your objection to the hour? I think the hour is an admirable hour! GORING. and a sensible marriage with a good woman. father. and was already paying my addresses to your admirable mother. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM Hum! That is what I have come to talk to you about. No draught. LORD CAVERSHAM Talk in your sleep. GORING. sir? What does that matter? You are not married. in this room? GORING. father. make it Tuesday. and my doctor says I must not have any serious conversation after seven. I had been an inconsolable widower for three months. LORD GORING During the Season. I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday in every month. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.

sir. which makes your conduct worse. father. LORD GORING Come in there. quite heartless GORING. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM Well. GORING. LORD CAVERSHAM No.An Ideal Husband GORING. besides. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. There is a great deal too much of that sort of thing going on nowadays. and I am going to see it through at all costs to my health or yours. HIPPS. LORD GORING So do I.] Phipps. sir. I was merely expressing sympathy. is there a good fire in the smoking-room? PHIPPS Yes. LORD GORING So do I. Put down my cloak. GORING. my lord. but I only admit to thirtytwo – thirty-one and a half when I have a really good buttonhole. LORD GORING Certainly. LORD CAVERSHAM Oh. sir. father. father.] There is a dreadful draught here. I will come and see you to-morrow. damn sympathy. It is a great bore. If there was less sympathy in the world there would be less trouble in the world. LORD GORING I hope not. I hate paradoxes. [Rings bell. sir. father. Your sneezes are quite heartrending. to sneeze when I choose? GORING. Everybody one meets is a paradox nowadays. But let us go into another room. sir. father. father. LORD GORING [Apologetically. And there is a draught in your room. LORD CAVERSHAM [Going towards the smoking-room. CAVERSHAM for a definite purpose. LORD GORING I think I shall. sir? I feel a draught. It makes society so obvious. father. I have called this evening VERSHAM. LORD GORING Yes. You are thirty-four years of age. GORING. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM And it is high time for you to get married. LORD CAVERSHAM I wish you would. This buttonhole is not … trivial enough. I feel it distinctly. Then I should be happy. LORD CAVERSHAM I tell you you are thirty-four. 58 GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING I quite agree with you. father. Let me help you on with your cloak. It is a dreadful draught. At present I make your mother’s life miserable on your account. I suppose I have a right CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. GORING. sir. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. [Enter PHIPPS.] Quite so. father. sir. You are heartless. Why did you tell me there was no draught. . father. GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. We can talk over anything you like. father.] That is a paradox.

] If you listen attentively! … Conceited young puppy! [Goes off grumbling into the smoking-room. the footman shows MRS. and looking at his son beneath his bushy eyebrows. [LORD CAVERSHAM goes back. Do excuse me. she is in green and silver. there is a lady coming to see me this evening on particular business.] Do you always really understand what you say. father. sir? am I to wait attendance on you? LORD GORING [Considerably perplexed. my lord. She has a cloak of black satin. who advances towards her.] Is Lord Goring not here? I was told he was at home? HIPPS. You understand? HIPPS. I shall see her myself. CHEVELEY . LORD CAVERSHAM Well. my lord. LORD GORING It is a matter of the gravest importance. GORING. Show her into the drawing-room when she arrives.] In a moment. LORD GORING Ah! that is probably the lady.] 59 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. HIPPS. under any circumstances. HAROLD. Lamia-like. Phipps – into that room.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CHEVELEY in. [To PHIPPS. GORING.] Yes. PHIPPS Yes. PHIPPS enters. GORING. P HIPPS His lordship is engaged at present with Lord Caversham. madam? . HAROLD What name. LORD GORING No one else is to be admitted. lined with dead rose-leaf silk. LORD GORING Phipps. [Bell rings. PHIPPS I understand.] Well. LORD CAVERSHAM [Indignantly. remember my instructions. LORD CAVERSHAM [Turning round.] HAROLD OLD. listen attentively. madam. if I GORING. father. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.] GORING. HIPPS. [Just as he is going towards the door LORD CAVERSHAM enters from the smoking-room. [LORD GORING goes into the smoking-room. PHIPPS I understand.Oscar Wilde CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. my lord. PHIPPS Yes. GORING. sir? LORD GORING [After some hesitation. HIPPS. Phipps. my lord.

The ten commandments in every stroke of the pen. CHEVELEY . [Passes into the drawing-room and begins to light the candles. PHIPPS Yes. [Looks about room and approaches the writing-table. CHEVELEY . PHIPPS His lordship told me that if a lady called I was to ask her to wait in the drawing-room.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. what a very uninteresting correspondence! Bills and cards. [To herself.] His lordship’s directions on the subject were very precise.] Lord Goring expects me? HIPPS. madam. Light some candles. Romance should never begin with sentiment. Men always look so silly when they are caught. then takes it up again. 60 HIPPS. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.] I know that handwriting.] No. It is far too glaring. [With a look of surprise. CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] I wonder what woman he is waiting for to-night. PHIPPS [Replaces lamp. to be HIPPS. and the moral law all over the page.] Certainly. CHEVELEY . I remember it perfectly.] How very filial! PHIPPS His lordship told me to ask you. Wonder what Gertrude is writing to him about? Something horrid about me.] Oh. madam. kind enough to wait in the drawing-room for him. That is Gertrude Chiltern’s. who at once retires. [Goes to the door of the drawing-room and opens it. PHIPPS We have had no complaints about them. It will be delightful to catch him. as yet. I shall have to alter all this. I hope the candles have very becoming shades. And they are always being caught. I suppose. [PHIPPS brings the lamp from the writingtable. [To herself. CHEVELEY .] Ugh! How dreary a bachelor’s drawing-room always looks. debts and dowagers! Who on earth writes to him on pink paper? How silly to write on pink paper! It looks like the beginning of a middle-class romance. HIPPS. I don’t care for that lamp. [To herself] How thoughtful of him! To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect. CHEVELEY . [Takes up letters. His lordship will come to you there. glassy eye on HAROLD. Are you quite sure? HIPPS.An Ideal Husband [Turns a cold. madam.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS.] What a very interesting room! What a very interesting picture! Wonder what his correspondence is like. madam. How I detest that . CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . [Puts letter down. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Goes towards the drawing-room and looks in.

It is I who should be consulted. madam. father. CHEVELEY . What I say is that marriage is a matter for common sense. It is not a matter for affection. . CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CHEVELEY goes into the drawing-room. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. and person? Particularly the person.] HIPPS.Oscar Wilde woman! [Reads it. HIPPS. Gertrude. as you directed.] That is a matter for me. father.] [Enter LORD GORING and LORD CAVERSHAM. surely you will allow me to choose the time.’ ‘I trust you. sir. air.] Thank you. You are talking very foolishly to-night.] LORD CAVERSHAM Certainly. GORING. GORING.] My dear father. [Rises hastily and slips the letter under a large silver-cased blotting-book that is lying on the table. I want you.] Then I am sure they will be perfectly right. PHIPPS closes the door and retires.] GORING. LORD GORING But women who have common sense are so curiously plain. [With a smile. [MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. They are the same as his lordship uses himself when he is dressing for dinner. Thank you. In married life affection comes when people thoroughly dislike each other. LORD CAVERSHAM [Testily. I want you.] ‘I trust you. and she goes back into the drawing-room. I am coming to you. The voices grow louder. There is property at stake. Affection comes later on in married life. HIPPS. The door is then slowly opened. CHEVELEY comes out and creeps stealthily towards the writing-table. PHIPPS The candles in the drawing-room are lit. sir. CHEVELEY grows pale. not you. if I am to get married. LORD GORING [Expostulating. place. CHEVELEY . She is just about to steal the letter. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I am coming to you. and stops. LORD GORING Yes. 61 MRS. You would probably make a very poor choice. and MRS. I mean certainly not. Suddenly voices are heard from the smoking-room. madam. biting her lip. PHIPPS [Gravely.’ [A look of triumph comes over her face.] PHIPPS I trust the shades will be to your liking. when PHIPPS comes in. aren’t they? Of course I only speak from hearsay. They are the most becoming we have. doesn’t it? [Puts on LORD CAVERSHAM’S cloak for him. madam.

] Yes. GORING. I use nothing else. has any common sense at all. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM It is the secret of your mother’s happiness. Perhaps by to-morrow you will be my only friend. LORD GORING Quite so. with SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. He complained of a draught the whole time. LORD GORING [After a pause. . very heartless. that I built up my life upon sands of shame – that I sold. You are very heartless. merely by GORING. Then returns. LORD CAVERSHAM I use it. LORD GORING So my mother tells me. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Looking at him.] Oh. I would to God I had died before I had been so horribly tempted. Who told her? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. sir. GORING.An Ideal Husband CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING Ah! I guessed as much! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. of good luck meeting you on the doorstep! Your servant had just told me you were not at home. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Looking up. [Goes out for a moment. plain or pretty. sir. the secret that had been intrusted to me as a man of honour. LORD GORING I hope not. Common sense is the privilege of our sex.] You have heard nothing from Vienna yet. You are my best friend. How extraordinary! GORING. father? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. father. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Mrs. I thank heaven poor Lord Radley died without knowing that I betrayed him. 62 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I am horribly busy to-night. ficing that we never use it.] GORING. Arthur.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN My dear Arthur. And we men are so self-sacriGORING. in answer to your wire? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING The fact is. Robert. [Burying his face in his hands. do we. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Ah! you must be at home to me. what a piece ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. something in the expression of your face as you came in. My wife has discovered everything. And the woman I love knows that I began my career with an act of low dishonesty. like a common huckster. or had fallen so low. LORD CAVERSHAM No woman. looking rather put out. Cheveley herself. and I gave orders I was not at home to any one. I got a telegram from the first secretary at eight o’clock to-night. Even my father had a comparatively cold reception.] Really! How? LORD GORING [After some hesitation.

] What a mess I am in. LORD GORING And thunderingly well they do it. tell her that I am GORING. Arthur. [Exit PHIPPS. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. But what a friend you are – the one friend I can trust. ert? I want to give some directions to my servant. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Thanks! I don’t know what to do. then? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. OBERT TERN. PHIPPS The lady is in that room. Awkward thing to manage. May I ring for something? Some hock and seltzer? LORD GORING Certainly. [Rings the bell. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Arthur.Oscar Wilde GORING. and you are my only friend. GORING. my lord. my lord. PHIPPS Yes. LORD GORING My dear Robert. can’t I? [Enter PHIPPS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Oh! spies are of no use nowadays. LORD GORING Well? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. GORING. I can trust you absolutely. HIPPS. PHIPPS Yes. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You told me to show her into that room. LORD GORING And Phipps! HIPPS. The newspapers do their work instead. I’ll give her a lecture through the door. On the contrary. Tell her that I have been suddenly called out of town. Oh! [To PHIPPS.] 63 LORD GORING Will you excuse me for a moment. LORD GORING When that lady calls. though.] GORING. tell me what I should GORING. GORING. You understand? HIPPS. RobGORING. I don’t know what to do. LORD GORING She doesn’t turn out to be a spy.] Bring some hock and seltzer. my lord. not expected home this evening. I am parched with thirst. I think I shall get through it. she occupies a rather high position in society. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Arthur. of course. No. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. . Beyond that I can learn nothing. LORD GORING You did perfectly right. my lord. Their profession is over. Let me. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Nothing is absolutely known against her. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Certainly. It is a sort of open secret that Baron Arnheim left her the greater portion of his immense fortune.

LORD GORING Robert. PHIPPS Yes. I walked from the club. don’t you? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. There is nothing but love. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN My wife! Never! She does not know what weakness or temptation is. LORD GORING Has she never in her life done some folly – some indiscretion – that she should not forgive your sin? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I used to think ambition the great thing. GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN No. My life seems to have crumbled about me. you must let me stay GORING. [Enter PHIPPS with drinks. GORING. I said to her things that were hideously true. and I love her. It is not. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Arthur. We are childless. and I have no one else to love. Arthur. There is a wide gulf between us now. from my stand-point. I was brutal to her this evening. Perhaps if God had sent us children she might have been kinder to me. Robert? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. She stands apart as good women do – pitiless in her perfection – cold and stern and without mercy. But God has given us a lonely house. LORD GORING Robert. GORING. LORD GORING Sir Robert will take my cab. sir. Robert. I am a ship without a rudder in a night without a star. LORD GORING Your wife will forgive you. GORING. But I love her. no one else to love me. you love your wife. [Buries his face in his hands.] But there is something more I have to tell you. on my side. Love is the great thing in the world. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I love her more than anything in the world. she has found me out. Perhaps at this moment she is forgiving you.] GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Thank you. And she has cut my heart in two. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING Is your carriage here. Arthur. She has found me out. I am ignoble in her eyes.] Hock and seltzer.] HIPPS. She loves you. But I am defamed in her eyes. But don’t let us talk of that 64 SIR ROBERT CHILTERN God grant it! God grant it! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. P HIPPS [Hands hock and seltzer to SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. [Exit. Arthur. I am of clay like other men. you don’t mind my sending you away? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. my lord. HIPPS. Phipps.An Ideal Husband do. But I suppose when sinners talk to saints they are brutal always. Why should she not forgive? . from the standpoint of men. Don’t let us talk of it.

Some one has been listening. Arthur. LORD GORING Yes. LORD GORING Robert. The debate on the Argentine Canal is to begin at eleven. LORD GORING I forbid you to enter that room. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Your word of honour? [Sits down. GORING. Arthur. There are lights in the room. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. GORING. LORD GORING Yes. I have told you that there is no one in that room – that is enough.] What is that? GORING. [A chair falls in the drawing-room. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. You have told me there is no one there. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Ah.] Arthur. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. you are excited. this must stop. LORD GORING No. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I heard a chair fall in the next room. you must let me go into that room and satisfy myself. no. LORD GORING No. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rushes to the door of the room. . GORING. unnerved. I have made up my mind what I am going to do to-night in the House. GORING. Sit down.] It is not enough. let me see for myself.Oscar Wilde for five minutes. Some one has been listening to every secret of my life. I tell you there is no one in that room. I insist on going into this room. you don’t realise what I am going through. and the door is ajar. I thought so! OBERT TERN. LORD GORING Robert. Some one whom you must not see. LORD GORING For God’s sake. LORD GORING Nothing. Robert. so what reason can you have for refusing me? GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN There is some one. don’t! There is some one there. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Rises. Let me know that no eavesdropper has heard my life’s secret.] 65 GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Do you give me your word that there is no one there? GORING. there is no one there. what does this mean? GORING. no. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN If there is no one there why should I not look in that room? Arthur.

LORD GORING It is not true. GORING. You have lied enough upon your word of honour. false as a friend. I swear to you on my honour that that lady is stainless and guiltless of all offence towards you. LORD GORING Don’t say that. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN comes back. TERN. LORD GORING rushes to the door of the drawing-room. [Enters room.] LORD GORING Great heavens! his own wife! GORING. My life is at stake.An Ideal Husband ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Merely listening. Oh! surely Providence can resist temptation by this time. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Let me pass. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You are mad. One always hears such wonderful things through them. sir. with a look of scorn and anger on his face. corrupt and shameful – you. LORD GORING Robert. What have I to do with her intrigues with you? Let her remain your mistress! You are well suited to each other. an infamous thing! GORING. [With a mock curtsey] Good evening. Lord Goring! GORING. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN goes out. CHEVELEY . I will know who it is to whom I have told my secret and my shame. treacherous as an enemy even – 66 GORING. CHEVELEY comes out. She loves you and no one else. when MRS. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Stand back. LORD GORING Doesn’t that sound rather like tempting Providence? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Before heaven. In her presence and in yours I will explain all. I have a perfect passion for listening through keyholes. Robert. It was to try and save you she came here.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. looking radiant and much amused. which he does. She. And I don’t care who is there. to give me for the presence of that woman here? GORING. it is not true. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] . Robert! It was for your sake she came here. CHEVELEY . Cheveley! Great heavens! … May I ask what you were doing in my drawing-room? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN She is a vile. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING Mrs.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What explanation have you ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. [Makes a sign to him to take her cloak off.

Oh! pray don’t. . Why. One should never give a woman anything that she can’t wear in the evening. MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. and quite as much as Robert Chiltern has got hold of. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING I don’t like the name.] Oh. LORD GORING You have come here to sell me Robert Chiltern’s letter. [Sitting down. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . isn’t it? What the second duty is. My dressmaker wouldn’t like it. no! A well-made dress has no pockets. He smiles. LORD GORING I am glad you have called. You used to adore it. GORING. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING Too much experience is a dangerous thing. Why don’t you call me Laura? GORING. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Arthur.Oscar Wilde GORING. CHEVELEY . I never smoke. GORING. and a woman’s first duty in life is to her dressmaker. Thanks. Mrs. I am going to give you some good advice. LORD GORING What do you want then. Pray have a cigarette. CHEVELEY . GORING. my dear Arthur. How absurdly English you are! The English think that a cheque-book can solve every problem in life. To offer it to you on conditions. haven’t you? MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. GORING. Personally I prefer the other half. GORING. I CHEVELE VELEY have had more experience.] CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [MRS. CHEVELEY motions to him to sit down beside her. LORD GORING What is your price for it? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Cheveley? GORING. Money is not what I want. CHEVELEY . Half the pretty women in London smoke cigarettes. How CHEVELE VELEY did you guess that? 67 GORING. Have you got it with you? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Far more! I have greatly improved. CHEVELEY . and does so. I have very much more money than you have. LORD GORING Because you haven’t mentioned the subject. LORD GORING I see you are quite as wilful as you used to be. CHEVELEY . you loved me once. no one has as yet discovered. LORD GORING Yes: that’s why.

LORD GORING Yes. he will do anything for her. LORD GORING I am under the impression that my lawyer settled that matter with you on certain terms … dictated by yourself. GORING. Why. you were silly. CHEVELEY . He used the most horrible language about them both. I want to have a salon.An Ideal Husband GORING. If one could only teach the English how to talk. I suppose that when a man has once loved a woman. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. you were rich. And you threw me over because you saw. LORD GORING Quite so. GORING. LORD GORING That was the natural result of my loving GORING.] Yes: except that. Well. I have arrived at the romantic stage. and the Irish how to listen. Arthur. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . Arthur. I did love you. I want to have a charming house here. you have always been far too clever to know anything about love. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. and love is a very wonderful thing. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Besides. One of those utterly tedious amusements one only 68 finds at an English country house on an English country Sunday. poor old Lord Mortlake trying to have a violent flirtation with me in the conservatory at Tenby. I knew you were the only person I had ever . When I saw you last night at the Chilterns’. You know you loved me. society here would be quite civilised. CHEVELEY . I loved you. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I know lots of people think that. [After a pause. GORING. And you loved me.] Poor old Lord Mortlake. And you asked me to be your wife. CHEVELEY .] GORING. [Shrugging her shoulders. who had only two topics of conversation. his gout and his wife! I never could quite make out which of the two he was talking about. LORD GORING My dear Mrs. Cheveley. I want to come back to London. At that time I was poor. except continue to love her? [Puts her hand on his. I don’t think any one at all morally responsible for what he or she does at an English country house. GORING. That is why you pretended to love me. you. or said you saw.] I am tired of living abroad. Lord Mortlake was never anything more to me than an amusement. LORD GORING [Taking his hand away quietly. LORD GORING Yes.

CHEVELEY . I will give it to you now. Men always are. GORING. not a defence. if I ever have cared for anybody. I don’t mind bad husbands. GORING. GORING. That is the difference between the two sexes. And self-sacrifice is a thing that should be put down by law. CHEVELEY . My dear Arthur. LORD GORING I should make you a very bad husband. GORING. LORD GORING You mean that you amused yourself immensely. CHEVELEY .] Then you are going to allow your greatest friend. LORD GORING In the case of very fascinating women. They always go to the bad. I will give you Robert Chiltern’s letter. I have had two.] To-morrow. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I thought you would have risen to some great height of self-sacrifice. And so. rather than marry some one who really has considerable attractions left. LORD GORING Are you really serious? GORING. CHEVELEY . quite serious. What do you know about my married life? LORD GORING Nothing: but I can read it like a book. That is my offer. They amused me immensely. women are never disarmed by compliments. Do you think it is quite charming of you to be so rude to a woman in your own house? GORING. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING Women are never disarmed by anything. GORING. Yes. I suppose that is meant for a compliment. Robert Chiltern. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . LORD GORING [Rising. as far as I know them. LORD GORING Now? CHEVELE VELEY MRS.Oscar Wilde cared for. don’t you? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. . GORING. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. to be ruined.] The Book of Numbers. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . Arthur. CHEVELEY . And the rest of your life you could spend in contemplating your own perfections. GORING. What book? 69 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Smiling. LORD GORING Oh! I do that as it is. Arthur. [After a pause. if you promise to marry me. I think you should. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. on the morning of the day you marry me. It is so demoralising to the people for whom one sacrifices oneself. sex is a challenge.

] Oh! don’t use CHEVELE VELEY big words. there is only one real tragedy in a woman’s life. They mean so little. CHEVELEY . Arthur. I suppose this romantic interview may be regarded as at an end. As if anything could demoralise Robert Chiltern! You seem to forget that I know his real character. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING Because you have brought a real tragedy into her life. Very well. 70 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . of life to which you are alluding. You know Gertrude has always worn seven and three-quarters? That is one of the reasons why there was never any moral sympathy between us …. It is a commercial transaction. shameful. he will have to pay the world a greater price. LORD GORING How you women war against each other! CHEVELE VELEY MRS. The fact that her past is always her lover. CHEVELEY . GORING. If he won’t pay me my price. A woman whose size in gloves is seven and three-quarters never knows much about anything. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I must go. real character. Good-bye.] I only war against one woman. I admit. you to whom the thing . infamous. but you seem to have forgotten that you came here to-night to talk of love. I hate her now more than ever. [Bitterly. you whose lips desecrated the word love.An Ideal Husband CHEVELE VELEY MRS. MRS. I offered to sell Robert Chiltern a certain thing. You admit it was romantic. CHEVELEY . and her future invariably her husband. horrible. I admit. [With a sneer. LORD GORING With you? No. CHEVELEY .] Oh. Your transaction with Robert Chiltern may pass as a loathsome commercial transaction of a loathsome commercial age. dishonourable. I suppose. How you men stand up for each other! CHEVELE VELEY GORING. LORD GORING Lady Chiltern knows nothing of the kind GORING. the climax of my diplomatic career. There is no more to be said. unworthy of him. There is no good mixing up sentimentality in it. [Shrugging her shoulders. GORING. MRS. It was an act of folly done in his youth. against Gertrude Chiltern. LORD GORING What you know about him is not his GORING. If Sir Robert doesn’t uphold my Argentine scheme. You decline. I hate her. I admit. That is all. Won’t you shake hands? GORING. It would be vile. Well. don’t you? For the privilege of being your wife I was ready to surrender a great prize. Voile tout. I expose him. LORD GORING You mustn’t do that. and therefore … not his true character.

I called. and stupidly forgot to tell the butler any71 thing about it as I was leaving. Arthur. on Lady Berkshire. Yes. if you pin it in. The scene that occurred happened after Lady Markby had left. LORD GORING Yes. and bitterness in her life. I am so glad to get it back. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING Really? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING A diamond snake-brooch with a ruby? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. For that there can be no forgiveness. That was the origin of the whole thing. had been found at the Chilterns’. [LORD GORCHEVELE VELEY ING suddenly clasps it on her arm. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. That was horrible. you are quite unjust to me. [Goes over to the writing-table and pulls out the drawers. No. LORD GORING [Calmly. to put poison in her heart.] Oh. Believe me. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . ten years ago.Oscar Wilde is a book closely sealed. that I lost somewhere last night. GORING. How do you know? GORING. oh! – a little out of malice if you like – but really to ask if a diamond brooch of mine had been found. In point of fact. that one. but it looks very well on me as a bracelet. I had no idea of doing anything of the kind when I entered. went this afternoon to the house of one of the most noble and gentle women in the world to degrade her husband in her eyes. much better than when I saw it last. you are unjust to me. and was really forced on me by Gertrude’s rudeness and sneers. That I cannot forgive you. spoil her soul. I didn’t go to taunt Gertrude at all. you can ask Lady Markby. and. CHEVELEY . [Starting. It was CHEVELE VELEY … a present. CHEVELEY . doesn’t it? GORING.] No. a jewel.] It is in this drawer. CHEVELEY . Yes. CHEVELEY . to break her idol. CHEVELEY . I found it myself. GORING.] What do you mean? . isn’t it? [Holds up the brooch. GORING. When did you see it last? GORING. it may be. to try and kill her love for him.] MRS.] Why do you put it on as a bracelet? I never knew it could he worn as a bracelet. from whom you stole it. [Holding out her handsome arm. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I called with Lady Markby simply to ask whether an ornament. LORD GORING Won’t you wear it? MRS. If you don’t believe me. This is the brooch. She will tell you it is true. LORD GORING Because it is found. Certainly.

CHEVELEY . [MRS. I will do anything you want. 72 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. unless you know where the spring is. LORD GORING You know it is true. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. for the moment. A curse breaks from her. MRS. That is what the police are for. I will say that I have never seen this wretched thing. Always comes in the moment one rings for him. It is rather difficult to find. GORING.] Don’t do that.] What are you going to do? GORING. LORD GORING I am going to ring for my servant. but fails. and I have heard her own confession. LORD GORING To-morrow the Berkshires will prosecute you. MRS.] The police? What for? CHEVELE VELEY GORING. . I determined to say nothing about it till I had found the thief. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING Oh! don’t use big words. Her mouth awry. He is an admirable servant. CHEVELEY .] GORING. When he comes I will tell him to fetch the police. who was sent away in disgrace.An Ideal Husband GORING. [Tossing her head. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING looks on amused. And I see you don’t know where the spring is. LORD GORING The drawback of stealing a thing. I recognised it last night. [Is now in an agony of physical terror. A mask has fallen from her. and looks at LORD GORING. They mean so little. CHEVELEY . but fails. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Again tears at the bracelet in a paroxysm of rage. Cheveley. Mrs. Then stops. LORD GORING Give me Robert Chiltern’s letter.] It is not true. [Trembling. that it was never in my possession. CHEVELEY . dreadful to look at. Suspicion fell on a wretched servant. is that one never knows how wonderful the thing that one steals is. CHEVELE VELEY Her face is distorted. Anything in the world you want. I have found the thief now. You can’t get that bracelet off. LORD GORING I mean that you stole that ornament from my cousin. You brute! You coward! [She tries again to unclasp the bracelet. thief is written across your face at this moment. I will deny the whole affair from beginning to end. She it. GORING. with inarticulate sounds. to whom I gave it when she was married. Her thin fingers tear at the jewel to no purpose. CHEVELEY tries to get the bracelet off her arm. Why.] GORING. Mary Berkshire. CHEVELEY .

CHEVELEY . Mrs.] Please get me a glass of water. and hands it to him. GORING. sighs. Give it to me at once. GORING. I will give it CHEVELE VELEY to you to-morrow. Will you help me on with my cloak? . CHEVELEY .] 73 CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY . I have not got it with me. and so – GORING. [MRS. [In a hoarse voice. CHEVELEY steals LADY CHILTERN’S letter. LORD GORING With pleasure. CHEVELEY . CHEVELEY . Mrs. CHEVELEY . She is horribly pale.] For so well-dressed a woman. I wouldn’t. the cover of which is just showing from under the blotting-book. examines it. and burns it with the lamp. CHEVELEY . I find that somehow Gertrude Chiltern’s CHEVELE VELEY dying speech and confession has strayed into my pocket. When LORD GORING returns the glass she refuses it with a gesture. LORD GORING Certainly. LORD GORING You know you are lying. so honourable an English gentleman. It is a reformation. I congratulate you. LORD GORING [Takes the letter. Cheveley. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. I am never going to try to harm Robert Chiltern again. CHEVELEY . I can’t bear so upright a gentleman. if even I had the chance. GORING. LORD GORING I am charmed to hear it. GORING.Oscar Wilde CHEVELE VELEY MRS. LORD GORING Fortunately you have not the chance.] This is it? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELEY pulls the letter out. [Catches sight of LADY CHILTERN’S letter. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING Well? MRS. being so shamefully deceived. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. CHEVELE VELEY MRS. [Goes to the corner of the room and pours out a glass of water. GORING. Cheveley. Yes. While his back is turned MRS. [Puts her cloak on. you have moments of admirable common sense. LORD GORING Give me Robert Chiltern’s letter.] MRS. Thanks. Thank you.] Yes. On the contrary. GORING. Stop! Stop! Let me have time to think. Well. GORING. I am going to render him a great service.

’ [LORD GORING rushes to the bureau and takes up the envelope. CHEVELEY at once puts her hand on the electric bell that is on the table. finds is empty. and lights his a cigarette. [With a bitter note of triumph in her voice. and turns round.] LORD GORING You wretched woman. Good-night. CHEVELEY . GORING. LORD GORING Love-letter? CHEVELE VELEY MRS. Lord Goring! [Goes out followed by PHIPPS.] ‘I want you. Youth seems to have come back to her. You shall not leave my room till I have got it. [Laughing. CHEVELEY . but MRS. There is joy in her eyes. [After a pause.] Lord Goring merely rang that you should show me out. [He rushes towards her. Her face it illumined with evil 74 triumph. LORD GORING bites his lip. and PHIPPS enters.] DROPS ACT DROPS . Her last glance is like a swift arrow. I trust you. must you always GORING. I’ll take it from you by force. be thieving? Give me back that letter.] VELEY CHEVELE MRS.] I mean that I am going to send Robert Chiltern the love-letter his wife wrote to you to-night. The bell sounds with shrill reverberations. CHEVELEY . LORD GORING What do you mean? CHEVELE VELEY MRS.An Ideal Husband GORING. I am coming to you. Gertrude.

JAMES Her ladyship has not yet left her room. Miss Chiltern has just come in from riding.] My dear father. I don’t want to meet my father three days running. LORD GORING [Throws down paper and rises. LORD GORING [Pulls out his watch.] GORING. JAMES Sir Robert is still at the Foreign Office. Mothers are different. [LORD GORING is standing by the fireplace with his hands in his pockets. not one’s own. 75 JAMES. picks up a paper and begins to read it. And I am full of interesting information. Mothers are darlings.] It is a great nuisance.] [Enter LORD CAVERSHAM. LORD GORING Thank you! Would you kindly tell him I’ve gone? JAMES. LORD CAVERSHAM Well. That is the only proper basin for family life. my lord. It is a great deal too much excitement for any son. and rings the bell. I hope to goodness he won’t come up. [Throws himself down into a chair.] I shall do so.] Ah! that is something. Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. I told him your lordship was here. JAMES Lord Caversham has been waiting some time in the library for Sir Robert.] GORING. [Enter servant. GORING. [Exit servant.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. He is looking rather bored. [To himself. what are you doing here? Wasting your time as usual. inspects it. my lord. LORD GORING. GORING. I feel like the latest edition of something or other.Oscar Wilde FOURTH ACT SCENE Same as Act II. when one pays a visit it is for the purpose of wasting other people’s time. I can’t find any one in this house to talk to. I suppose? GORING.] JAMES. sir. JAMES [Bowing. LORD GORING Lady Chiltern not down yet? JAMES. LORD GORING Really. .

This speech is the turning-point in his career. LORD GORING [Airily.] You can have till dinner-time if it would be of any convenience to you. LORD GORING Good heavens! No. sir? How little you know him! Why. LORD CAVERSHAM I suppose you have read The Times this morning? GORING. LORD CAVERSHAM Humph! Never know when you are serious or not. as The Times points out.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. What does it say? LORD CAVERSHAM What should it say.] ‘Sir Robert Chiltern … most rising of our young statesmen … Brilliant orator … Unblemished career … Well-known integrity of character … Represents what is best in English public life … Noble contrast to the lax morality so common among foreign politicians. but I think I’d sooner be engaged before lunch. LORD CAVERSHAM Uphold it. he denounced it roundly. I only 76 LORD CAVERSHAM Do you mean to say you have not CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. [A pause.An Ideal Husband CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. [Opens The Times. anything else is quite demoralising. All that one should know about modern life is where the Duchesses are. LORD GORING I have been thinking about nothing else. And did … did Chiltern uphold the scheme? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING [Genially.’ They will never say that of you. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. and the whole system of modern political finance. LORD CAVERSHAM Engaged to be married yet? GORING. Chiltern’s speech last night on this Argentine Canal scheme was one of the finest pieces of oratory ever delivered in the House since Canning. LORD GORING Neither do I. . wanted to. of course. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir. LORD CAVERSHAM Have you been thinking over what I spoke to you about last night? GORING. read The Times leading article on Robert Chiltern’s career? GORING. LORD GORING Thanks awfully. sir? Everything CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. read The Morning Post. LORD CAVERSHAM [Caustically. complimentary. Never GORING.] The Times? Certainly not.] Not yet: but I hope to be before lunch-time. You should read this article. GORING. GORING. sir. LORD GORING Ah! Never heard of Canning. father.

] I hate this affectation of youth. GORING. LORD CAVERSHAM [Testily. It is a great deal too prevalent nowadays. GORING. LORD GORING I am far too young. only people who look dull ever get into the House of Commons. Youth is an art. especially in the morning. It shows he has got pluck. LORD GORING I don’t know how the betting stands to-day. Lord Caversham? I hope Lady Caversham is quite well? . LORD GORING That is just what I should like to marry. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. thoroughly delighted. LORD GORING Ah! I prefer pluck. sir. nowadays. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. MABEL CHILTERN Oh! … How do you do. he has got genius. LORD GORING I am of a very nervous disposition. LORD CAVERSHAM I don’t suppose there is the smallest chance of her accepting you. I am delighted at what you tell me about Robert. we should have a very bad time of it. father. LORD GORING My dear father. However. LORD GORING I sincerely hope not. LORD CAVERSHAM He has got more than pluck. as genius is. It is not so common. sir.Oscar Wilde GORING. GORING. GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. 77 CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD CAVERSHAM Why don’t you try to do something useful in life? GORING. LORD GORING Youth isn’t an affectation. LORD CAVERSHAM If she did accept you she would be the prettiest fool in England. A thoroughly sensible wife would reduce me to a condition of absolute idiocy in less than six months. LORD CAVERSHAM I wish you would go into Parliament.] CHILTERN TERN. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. [Enter MABEL CHILTERN. GORING. and only people who are dull ever succeed there. GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING My dear father. LORD CAVERSHAM You don’t deserve her. LORD CAVERSHAM Why don’t you propose to that pretty Miss Chiltern? GORING. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir. if we men married the women we deserved.

LORD GORING It seems to me that I am a little in the way here. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. If I had. my dear. that I have no influence at all over my son.An Ideal Husband CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. right … as far as he is concerned. I mean. are you here? Of course you understand that after your 78 breaking your appointment I am never going to speak to you again. Miss Mabel! CHILTERN TERN.] I hope an operation will not be necessary. I know what I would make him do. MABEL CHILTERN [Turning round with feigned surprise. GORING. LORD GORING Oh. GORING. and addressing herself exclusively to LORD CAVERSHAM. GORING. LORD GORING Good morning.] Oh. I am sorry to say. LORD CAVERSHAM I regret to say. MABEL CHILTERN Lord Goring. LORD CAVERSHAM [Smiling at her pertness. GORING. I never believe a single word that either you or I say to each other. MABEL CHILTERN [To LORD CAVERSHAM. very heartless.] Good morning.] And Lady Caversham’s bonnets … are they at all better? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. please don’t say such a thing. MABEL CHILTERN I am afraid that he has one of those terribly weak natures that are not susceptible to influence. Miss Chiltern. CHILTERN TERN. LORD CAVERSHAM You are quite right. Otherwise she would never consent to have a feather touched. as usual. You are the one person in London I really like to have to listen to me. GORING. we shall have to give Lady Caversham a narcotic. LORD CAVERSHAM They have had a serious relapse. quite CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. MABEL CHILTERN Do you think you could possibly make your son behave a little better occasionally? Just as a change. CHILTERN TERN. .] If it is. LORD CAVERSHAM He is very heartless. LORD GORING [With increased emphasis. CHILTERN TERN. Miss Mabel! CHILTERN TERN. LORD CAVERSHAM Lady Caversham is as usual. LORD GORING Good morning. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. I wish I had. MABEL CHILTERN [Taking no notice at all of LORD GORING. Miss Mabel! CHILTERN TERN.

It always depresses me. my duty is a thing I never do.] CHILTERN TERN. It is not the Prime Minster’s day for seeing the unemployed. . LORD CAVERSHAM I am afraid I can’t take him with me to Downing Street.] Then I suppose it is my duty to remain with you? LORD GORING Of course it is.Oscar Wilde CHILTERN TERN. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. and to know what people say of you behind your back. [Shakes hands with MABEL CHILTERN. leave me all alone with Lord Goring? Especially at such an early hour in the day. Miss Mabel.] Well. GORING. So I am afraid I must leave you. LORD CAVERSHAM After that. MABEL CHILTERN It is very good for you to be in the way. GORING. and goes out. I always look pleased when I am with you. LORD GORING I can’t help it.] The second to-day? What 79 CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Please don’t. CHILTERN TERN. GORING. LORD GORING [Indignantly.] People who don’t keep their appointments in the Park are horrid. I really must bid you good morning. takes up his hat and stick. MABEL CHILTERN [With a sigh of pleasure. MABEL CHILTERN [Sadly. GORING. MABEL CHILTERN [Takes up roses and begins to arrange them in a bowl on the table. on principle. But I wish you wouldn’t look so pleased about it. It makes me far too conceited. CHILTERN TERN. That makes the second to-day. MABEL CHILTERN I am glad you admit it. LORD GORING [Somewhat taken aback. yes. MABEL CHILTERN Oh! I hope you are not going to CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Detestable. GORING. my dear. MABEL CHILTERN Well. I have something very particular to say to you. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.] Oh! is it a proposal? GORING.] I am so glad. it is – I am bound to say it is. MABEL CHILTERN [Rapturously. CHILTERN TERN. with a parting glare of indignation at LORD GORING. LORD GORING I don’t at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. GORING.

Tommy is a silly little ass. Can’t you love me a little in return? CHILTERN TERN.] I am so glad. Please be serious. MABEL CHILTERN [Looking up at him. you would know that I adore you. during the Season. LORD GORING [After kissing her again. I feel so happy that I am quite sure I have no character left at all. I have been going about for the last six months telling the whole of society that I adore you. LORD GORING [Taking hold of her hand. LORD GORING [After some hesitation. MABEL CHILTERN I know. LORD GORING Oh! bother Tommy Trafford. I love you.] Dear! Do you know I was awfully afraid of being refused! CHILTERN TERN. At least. do be serious. MABEL CHILTERN [Nestling close to him. Then there is a pause of bliss. Tommy. Mabel. I very nearly said yes. darling. Every one in London knows it except you. 80 CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Ah! that is the sort of thing a man TERN. CHILTERN TERN. of course.An Ideal Husband conceited ass has been impertinent enough to dare to propose to you before I had proposed to you? CHILTERN TERN. GORING. It would have taught you both better manners. LORD GORING You didn’t accept him. It would have been an excellent lesson both for him and for you if I had. I am sure I have given you heaps of opportunities.] And I’m … I’m a GORING. GORING. CHILTERN always says to a girl before he has been married to her. LORD GORING Mabel. Arthur? I can’t imagine any one refusing you. It is a public scandal the way I adore you. He always proposes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.] But you never have been refused yet by anybody. which you don’t. I have told you that I love you. I have no character left at all. MABEL CHILTERN Tommy Trafford. GORING. And I think you might have mentioned it before. I hope? MABEL CHILTERN I make it a rule never to accept CHILTERN TERN.] Mabel. I was afraid you were. GORING. MABEL CHILTERN You silly Arthur! If you knew anything about … anything. . I wonder you consent to have anything to say to me. GORING.] Of course I’m not nearly good enough for you. That is why he goes on proposing. have you. GORING. Of course. It is one of Tommy’s days for proposing. as you didn’t turn up this morning. He never says it afterwards. LORD GORING [Catches her in his arms and kisses her.

81 GORING.Oscar Wilde little over thirty. while you are away. that was a flash of genius. agree. L ADY CHILTERN Good morning. So we’re sure to CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN Your first. CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN TERN. [Enter LADY CHILTERN. there are none. It makes me horribly dependent on you. LORD GORING [Triumphantly. And now I must go and see Gertrude.] My last. MABEL CHILTERN Do you mean to say you didn’t come here expressly to propose to me? GORING. LORD GORING Then do tell her I want to talk to her particularly. TERN.] MABEL CHILTERN Yes. MABEL CHILTERN Dear. Gertrude! CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN Good morning.] Good morning. CHILTERN TERN. Lord Goring! LORD GORING [Bowing. CHILTERN TERN. I have been waiting here all the morning to see either her or Robert. LORD GORING Dear Mabel.] How sweet of you to say so! … And it is only fair to tell you frankly that I am fearfully extravagant. GORING. GORING. CHILTERN MABEL CHILTERN [Aside to LORD GORING. Arthur. LORD GORING Second on the left? . GORING. Lady Chiltern! GORING. LORD GORING [With determination. It is most becoming! ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING [Enthusiastically. LORD GORING Must you really? [Kisses her.] I shall be in the conservatory under the second palm tree on the left. GORING.] No. GORING. dear! How pretty you are looking! MABEL CHILTERN How pale you are looking. you look weeks younger than that. MABEL CHILTERN But so am I.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN TERN. Now don’t stir. And don’t fall into any temptations while I am away. MABEL CHILTERN I am delighted to hear it. I’ll be back in five minutes.

An Ideal Husband CHILTERN TERN. what use is it to her? Why should she not have it? GORING. Mrs. LORD GORING [Rising. Tell me all that happened. unobserved by LADY CHILTERN. asking me for my help. one of your husband’s oldest friends. and wanting your help. without my knowledge.] Lady Chiltern. L ADY CHILTERN I? In danger? What do you mean? GORING. Mrs. Cheveley gave me up Robert’s letter last night. Yesterday evening you wrote me a very beautiful. ADY CHILTERN TERN.] GORING. Robert came in unexpectedly. ADY CHILTERN TERN. He forced his way in. L ADY CHILTERN At what hour did this happen? est friends. L ADY CHILTERN Who is that? GORING.] Yourself. trusting you. LORD GORING There is only one person now that could be said to be in any danger. LORD GORING Mrs. propose to come to you … that you may advise me … assist me … Oh! are there women so horrible as that …? And she proposes to send it to my husband? Tell me what happened. You wrote to me as one of your old82 GORING. Robert is safe. Cheveley got possession of your letter – she stole it. and I burned it. I will be quite frank with you. and he discovered her. when or how. LORD GORING [Sitting down beside her. and goes out. He left me in anger. At the end of everything Mrs.] Safe! Oh! I am so glad of that. LORD GORING Lady Chiltern.] Yes. Mrs. Cheveley stole that letter from my rooms. I have a certain amount of very good news to tell you. I don’t know. What a good friend you are to him – to us! GORING. womanly letter. I still thought it was you. Cheveley was concealed in a room adjoining my library. We had a terrible scene. L ADY CHILTERN But what construction could she put on it? … Oh! not that! not that! If I in – in trouble. ADY CHILTERN TERN. But I admit I have something to tell you that may distress you. I thought that the person who was waiting in that room to see me was yourself. MABEL CHILTERN [With a look of mock surprise. . [Blows a kiss to him. ADY CHILTERN TERN. It is a word I should not have used. A chair or something fell in the room. that terribly distresses me. Cheveley puts a certain construction on that letter and proposes to send it to your husband. the usual palm tree. LADY CHILTERN Well. L ADY CHILTERN [Sinking on the sofa. ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Danger is too great a word. ADY CHILTERN TERN.

] Oh! how do I know? . LORD GORING Your letter was on pink paper. ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. He could recognise it without reading it. and answer the questions I am going to put to you. Montford. wouldn’t he? L ADY CHILTERN I think so. LORD GORING He would do what you asked him. I dare not ask the servants to bring me his letters. at half-past ten o’clock at night? You want me to tell him that? GORING. GORING. The letter must be intercepted.Oscar Wilde GORING. LORD GORING I think it is better that he should know the exact truth. L ADY CHILTERN [Rising. I think. GORING. ADY CHILTERN TERN. You said his secretaries open his letters.] You want me to tell Robert that the woman you expected was not Mrs. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. TERN. It would be impossible. L ADY CHILTERN [With a gesture of despair. Lady Chiltern. GORING. L ADY CHILTERN No. LORD GORING Is he in the house now? GORING. Oh! why don’t you tell me what to do? 83 GORING. ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Who is with him to-day? Mr. LORD GORING Pray be calm.] Oh. Cheveley. Trafford. I couldn’t! GORING. ADY CHILTERN L ADY CHILTERN No. TERN. His secretaries open them and hand them to him. L ADY CHILTERN [Looking at him with amazement that is almost terror. but myself? That it was I whom you thought was concealed in a room in your house. Mr. LORD GORING [Gravely. isn’t it? L ADY CHILTERN No. LORD GORING May I do it? ADY CHILTERN TERN. GORING. LORD GORING At half-past ten.] You are wrong. couldn’t he? By the colour? L ADY CHILTERN I suppose so. Lady Chiltern. But how can I do it? Letters arrive for him every moment of the day. That is all. And now I propose that we tell Robert the whole thing at once. ADY CHILTERN GORING. I couldn’t. LORD GORING You can trust him? ADY CHILTERN TERN.

my love! Is this true? Do you indeed trust me. and he has destroyed it. makes me feel that nothing that the world may do can hurt me now. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Kisses her. and opens it. and tell him that a certain letter. He has the letter in his hand. I suppose.] Oh! you have ADY CHILTERN TERN. LORD GORING Then I will go and see him myself. You want me. Gertrude? [LORD GORING. I only thought you loved me still. Gertrude. ADY CHILTERN TERN. It has reached him already.’ Oh. makes an imploring sign to LADY CHILTERN to accept the situation and SIR ROBERT’S error. not noticing LORD GORING’S presence.] Because I loved you.] Oh! Robert is coming upstairs with the letter in his hand. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Are you sure of this. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Ah! why did you not add you loved me? LADY CHILTERN [Taking his hand. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. [Goes to the door. He comes towards his wife. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. what have you done with mine? [Enter SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. I trust you. Gertrude.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. L ADY CHILTERN There is no disgrace in store for you. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. This letter of yours. L ADY CHILTERN [With a cry of pain. nor any public shame. not for you to write of coming to me. written on pink paper. is to be forwarded to Robert to-day. unseen by SIR ROBERT CHILTERN.An Ideal Husband ADY CHILTERN TERN.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. When Montford passed me your letter across the table – he had opened it by mistake. it was for me to come to you. and want me? If so. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN ‘I want you. [LORD GORING passes into the conservatory. Gertrude? . and that at all costs it must not reach him. Mrs.] 84 ADY CHILTERN TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN. Gertrude? L ADY CHILTERN Yes.] Gertrude. GORING. ADY CHILTERN TERN. saved his life. and is reading it. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN You trust me. you don’t know what I feel. without looking at the handwriting on the envelope and I read it – oh! I did not care what disgrace or punishment was in store for me. I am coming to you. Cheveley has handed over to Lord Goring the document that was in her possession.

Oscar Wilde ADY CHILTERN TERN. TERN. But it has not been so. almost. For although I am safe from detection. Robert. although every proof against me is destroyed. it will be much to gain.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Then I am safe! Oh! what a wonderful thing to be safe! For two days I have been in terror. How did Arthur destroy my letter? Tell me. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I wish I had seen that one sin of my youth burning to ashes. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Then comes over to his wife. and with an entirely new buttonhole that some one has made for him. but that we two may love each other. so glad. L ADY CHILTERN He burned it. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I am safe now. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.] do that. L ADY CHILTERN Public honour has been the result.] And your ambition for me? You used to be ambitious for me. ADY CHILTERN TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I am so glad now I made that speech last night in the House. L ADY CHILTERN Oh! none.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. Let us not talk about ambition. and puts his hand on her shoulder. he is in the conservatory. [LORD GORING returns from the conservatory. Robert. L ADY CHILTERN Yes. . I fear so. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN It is much to surrender. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Sadly. my ambition! I have none now. ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN [Eagerly. ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Oh yes. Lord Goring has just told me. you should 85 ADY CHILTERN TERN. Gertrude … I suppose I should retire from public life? [He looks anxiously at his wife. looking very pleased with himself. away from public life? You would have no regrets? ADY CHILTERN TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN And you would be happy living somewhere alone with me. It is your duty to do that. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. abroad perhaps. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN walks up and down the room with a troubled expression. It was your ambition that led you astray. How many men there are in modern life who would like to see their past burning to white ashes before them! Is Arthur still here? ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN No. I made it thinking that public disgrace might be the result. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I think so. I suppose. L ADY CHILTERN Oh. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. or in the country away from London.

MASON Lord Caversham. [Shakes hands with him.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.] A seat in the Cabinet? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. sir! OBERT TERN. and you well deserve it too. At GORING. [To LORD GORING. TERN. sir. [Hands letter.] LORD GORING My dear fellow. . [Enter LORD CAVERSHAM. LORD CAVERSHAM Good morning. I prefer prejudices. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Takes letter and reads it. I’ll tell you at once. MASON goes out. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN My intention is to retire at once from public life.] MASON. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD CAVERSHAM Certainly. and you are to have the vacant seat in the Cabinet.] A seat in the Cabinet! CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD CAVERSHAM Yes.] Decline a seat in the Cabiletter. father. the present moment. I don’t know how I can repay you. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN is on the brink of accepting the Prime Minister’s offer. and never will have. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With a look of joy and triumph.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD CAVERSHAM Decline it. high principles.An Ideal Husband ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. candid eyes.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I have just left the Prime Minister. LORD GORING That admirable father of mine really makes a habit of turning up at the wrong moment. LORD CAVERSHAM [Angrily. Chiltern.] Arthur. high moral tone. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I cannot accept this offer. I have to thank you for what you have done for me. LORD GORING I don’t like principles. Lady Chiltern! Warmest congratulations to you. You have got what we want so much in political life nowadays – high character. very heartless indeed. GORING. when he sees wife looking at him with her clear. He then realises that it is impossible.] Everything that you have not got. It is very heartless of him. Lord Caversham. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Going towards him. I have made up my mind to decline it. on your brilliant speech last night. under the usual palm tree … I mean in the conservatory … [Enter MASON. here is the Prime Minister’s 86 GORING.

Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING It is not idiocy. Both of them. too. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Lady Chiltern? ADY CHILTERN TERN. L ADY CHILTERN I may come with you. Very sad. L ADY CHILTERN I think my husband in right in his determination. LORD CAVERSHAM Hate these new-fangled names. father. father. Very sad indeed! And they are not an old family. LORD CAVERSHAM Lady Chiltern. Shan’t stay in this house any longer.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. L ADY CHILTERN [Taking her husband’s hand. Wife as well as husband. it is what is called nowadays a high moral tone. and retire from public life? Never heard such damned nonsense in the whole course of my existence. I approve of it. LORD GORING [After some hesitation. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. the most sensible woman in London. [To LORD GORING. I suppose. won’t you? Don’t hesitate about it. sir. Will you kindly prevent your husband from making such a … from taking such … Will you kindly do that. Lord Caversham. That is all. ADY CHILTERN TERN. eh? [Tapping his forehead. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. I have never admired him so much before. I will ask you to excuse me for a moment. [To SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. Robert. I assure you. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD GORING No. LORD CAVERSHAM You approve of it? Good heavens! ADY CHILTERN TERN. I admire him immensely for it.] Don’t grin like that. LORD CAVERSHAM What is the matter with this family? Something wrong here.] Idiocy? Hereditary. the most sensible woman I know. GORING. LORD CAVERSHAM What is it then. father. sir? GORING. Such offers are not 87 [LADY CHILTERN goes out with him. Lady Chiltern.] You will go and write your letter to the Prime Minister now.] Well. Same thing as we used to call idiocy fifty years ago. Gertrude. GORING.] I admire him for it.Oscar Wilde net. may I not? . CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. Chiltern. Lord Caversham.] I suppose I had better write it at once. He is finer than even I thought him. Can’t understand it. repeated. you are a sensible woman. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With a touch of bitterness. I beg your pardon. I beg your pardon.

LORD GORING No. sir? CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. the usual palm tree. The conservatory. LORD GORING Mrs.An Ideal Husband GORING. LORD GORING [Taking his arm. the conservatory – there is some one there I want you to talk to. [LORD CAVERSHAM goes out into the conservatory. much eloquence is possible. GORING. LORD GORING [Pulling himself together for a great effort. if you close the doors of public life against him. Pardon. father.] LORD GORING Lady Chiltern. if you condemn him to sterile failure. . GORING. and showing the philosopher that underlies the dandy. She doesn’t care much for eloquence in others. Third palm tree to the left.] Not a subject on which CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. not punishment. Cheveley tried to do and failed? L ADY CHILTERN Lord Goring? ADY CHILTERN TERN. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. before he knew you. GORING.] Oh! just go in here for a moment. he who was made for triumph and success? Women are not meant to judge us. LORD GORING About me. Why should you do him the wrong Mrs. father. Now is the moment when you really want my help. You love Robert. if you take him from the splendour of a great political career. L ADY CHILTERN [Startled. before he knew himself? A man’s life is of more ADY CHILTERN TERN. She thinks it a little loud. LORD CAVERSHAM What. Why should you scourge him with rods for a sin done in his youth. but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. to trust in my counsel and judgment. You wrote me a letter last night in which you said you trusted me and wanted my help. why are you playing Mrs. LORD CAVERSHAM What about. now is the time when you have got to trust me. From the latter tragedy you saved him. LORD CAVERSHAM [Grimly. LORD GORING I beg your pardon. The former you are now thrusting on him.] I don’t understand you. allow me. Either to drive him from public life. or to make him adopt a dishonourable position. LADY CHILTERN enters. GORING. sir? GORING. father. is their mission. father. Do you want to kill his love for you? What sort of existence will he have if you rob him of the fruits of his ambition. I forgot. Cheveley made an attempt to ruin your husband.] Lady Chiltern. father. Cheveley’s cards? 88 GORING. but the lady is like me.

and much else with it. your husband’s love is in your hands. wider scope.] SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What are you doing? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude.] ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. or should want of them.] But it is my husband himself who wishes to retire from public life. [Enter SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. LORD GORING Rather than lose your love. It was he who first said so. L ADY CHILTERN [Troubled and hesitating. wreck his whole career. If he has fallen from his altar. Besides. you will live to repent it bitterly. We are not worthy of them. Failure to Robert would be the very mire of shame. [SIR ROBERT hands her the letter. I set him up too high. I have just learnt this. Lady Chiltern. and then. and do not accept a sacrifice so great. has done all the world wants of women. ADY CHILTERN TERN. And I will not spoil your life for you.Oscar Wilde value than a woman’s. Robert has been punished enough. greater ambitions. Don’t mar both for him. tears it up. GORING. Don’t make any terrible mistake. GORING. with a gesture of passion. L ADY CHILTERN We have both been punished. do not thrust him into the mire. nor see you spoil it as a sacrifice to me. It has larger issues. If you do. ADY CHILTERN TERN. It has larger issues. L ADY CHILTERN A man’s life is of more value than a woman’s. Lady Chiltern. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT ADY CHILTERN TERN. A woman’s life revolves in curves of emotions. Power is his pas89 sion. He feels it is his duty. Men easily forget. a useless sacrifice! SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Gertrude! Gertrude! TERN. He is making for you a terrible sacrifice. ADY CHILTERN TERN. as he is on the brink of doing now. Our lives revolve in curves of emotions. greater ambitions. We men and women are not made to accept such sacrifices from each other. It is upon lines of intellect that a man’s life progresses. It is upon lines of intellect that a man’s life progresses. Take my advice. wider scope. Shall I read it to you? L ADY CHILTERN Let me see it. even his power to feel love. ADY CHILTERN TERN. And . A woman who can keep a man’s love. Robert would do anything. Your husband’s life is at this moment in your hands.] Do not for that reason set him down now too low. here is the draft of my letter. L ADY CHILTERN You can forget. LORD GORING [With deep feeling in his voice. and love him in return. She reads it. He would lose everything. from Lord Goring.

But there is one thing worse than an absolutely loveless marriage. any place in my life. LORD GORING Oh dear no. GORING. L ADY CHILTERN Robert.] My wife! my wife! [To LORD GORING. you are your sister’s guardian. GORING. And I don’t think her happiness would be safe in your hands. and I want your consent to my marriage with her.An Ideal Husband I forgive. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Speaking with great firmness. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [After a pause. And I cannot have her sacrificed! GORING. OBERT TERN. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Deeply overcome by emotion. And now ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. why should they not be married? . I see that now. utterly sacrificed. LORD GORING Sacrificed! ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. That is all. A marriage in which there is love. it seems that I am always to be in your debt. ROBER CHILTERN SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [With a troubled look. That is how women help the world. if they love each other. but on one side only.] 90 ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. LORD GORING Robert. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Robert. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Arthur cannot bring Mabel the love that she deserves. but the thing is quite out of the question.] LORD GORING Thank you. Lady Chiltern. GORING.] My sister to be your wife? LORD GORING Yes. tell me what you were going to ask me just now as Lord Caversham came in. LORD GORING But I love Mabel. GORING.] Do you really require me to tell you? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. ADY CHILTERN TERN.] Arthur. No other woman has GORING. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Yes. devotion. but on one side only. and in which of the two hearts one is sure to be broken. I am so glad! I am so glad! [Shakes hands with LORD GORING. not to me! SIR ROBERT CHILTERN I owe you much. LORD GORING What reason have you for saying that? Arthur. GORING. I am very sorry. embraces her. L ADY CHILTERN Oh. faith. Loveless marriages are horrible. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. I have to think of Mabel’s future happiness. Your debt is to Lady Chiltern. but on one side only. ADY CHILTERN TERN.

after that terrible scene in this room. It is you I trust and need. Pride made me think that. nothing whatsoever to do with me. I didn’t go to Lord Goring’s. That may be so. L ADY CHILTERN It was your own wife. L ADY CHILTERN Let me write yours. after all. should have back my own letter. ADY CHILTERN TERN. It would be unjust. L ADY CHILTERN Robert. and sin can never touch you. really. as I said to you last night. ADY CHILTERN TERN. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. it was not Mrs. You and none else. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN What! Had I fallen so low in your eyes that you thought that even for a moment I could have doubted your goodness? Gertrude. I think I GORING. I cannot tell you what she wished you to think… . Gertrude. that letter. Cheveley! Who was it then? GORING. Later on. I do not wish to say anything more. that I had need of him. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN Not Mrs. She stole my letter and sent it anonymously to you this morning. LORD GORING I have nothing more to say. Cheveley does not seem to have noticed that. It was between ten and eleven o’clock at night. But I cannot give my sister’s life into your hands. The brilliant Mrs. Cheveley have. Arthur. There is no name at the beginning of this letter. and you have my best wishes! Oh! stop a moment. There should be a name. you can go to Mabel. When I called on you yesterday evening I found Mrs. that I was coming to him for help and advice. Mrs. infamously unjust to her. Cheveley whom Lord Goring expected last night. trouble I could come to him for help. you are to me the white image of all good things. GORING. [SIR ROBERT CHILTERN takes the letter out of his pocket. Lady Chiltern. LORD GORING Certainly I do. I felt that it is from ourselves alone that help can come. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN.Oscar Wilde GORING. I know you were engaged to be married to her once. . It would be wrong of me. a woman whom you respected and honoured. Robert. Your relations with Mrs. yesterday afternoon Lord Goring told me that if ever I was in 91 LORD GORING Well. The fascination she exercised over you then seems to have returned.] Yes. I wrote to him telling him that I trusted him. ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. Cheveley went. LORD GORING Lady Chiltern! ADY CHILTERN TERN. Cheveley concealed in your rooms. You spoke to me last night of her as of a woman pure and stainless. that you should think … Oh! Robert. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN As you choose. as he was our oldest and best friend.

clever young lady has been so foolish as to accept you? LORD GORING Certainly. GORING. LORD CAVERSHAM I am very glad to hear that. I think your father’s conversation much more improving than yours. I prefer it domestic. MASON Luncheon is on the table. LORD GORING Well. won’t you? . [To LORD GORING.] GORING. wise enough to accept the seat in the Cabinet. dear? MABEL CHILTERN He can be what he chooses. Wish I could say the same for you.] No. It sounds like something in the next world. LORD GORING Yes. I don’t think I should like that. I’ll cut you off with a shilling. I hope she hasn’t changed her mind.] CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. want is to be … to be … oh! a real wife to him. I am only going to talk to Lord Caversham in the future.] But your career will have to be entirely domestic. Caversham. sir. L ADY CHILTERN [Smiling. sir? You don’t mean to say that this charming. Chiltern. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. MABEL CHILTERN Lord Goring. VERSHAM. LORD GORING Darling! [Kisses her. father! And Chiltern’s been GORING. If the country doesn’t go to the dogs or the Radicals. my Lady! [MASON goes out. some day. CAVERSHAM LORD CAVERSHAM What do you want him to be then. LORD CAVERSHAM And if you don’t make this young lady an ideal husband. CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. LORD CAVERSHAM [Considerably taken aback. Chiltern … I congratulate you. and always under the usual palm tree. All I CHILTERN TERN. CHILTERN TERN. MABEL CHILTERN An ideal husband! Oh. GORING. [Enter MASON.An Ideal Husband ADY CHILTERN TERN. You have a great future before you. and I’ll drive you down to Downing Street afterwards. sir. MASON. Lord CHILTERN TERN. [Takes the letter and writes her husband’s name on it.] 92 CAVERSHAM VERSHAM. we shall have you Prime Minister. [Enter MABEL CHILTERN and LORD CAVERSHAM. father.] MABEL CHILTERN You’ll stop to luncheon.] What does this mean. It’s nearly twenty minutes since I saw her last.] CHILTERN TERN. LORD CAVERSHAM With pleasure. you shall have Mabel. a great future.

edu/ faculty/jmanis/ jimspdf. He sinks in a chair.] It is love. go to http://www2. Lady Chiltern. or is it pity merely? ADY CHILTERN TERN. there is a good deal of common sense in that.edu/ faculty/jmanis/wilde. SIR ROBERT CHILTERN [Taking her hand.hn. LORD CAVERSHAM Upon my word.htm To return to the Oscar Wilde page. go to http://www2.hn.psu. is it love you feel for me.] ADY CHILTERN TERN. wrapt in thought. Robert. To return to the Electronic Classics Series. [They all go out except SIR ROBERT CHILTERN.psu. Love.Oscar Wilde CAVERSHAM VERSHAM.] Aren’t you coming in.] Gertrude. L ADY CHILTERN [Leaning over the back of the chair. For both of us a new life is beginning. Robert? ROBER CHILTERN OBERT TERN. and only love.htm 93 CURT CURTAIN . L ADY CHILTERN [Kisses him. After a little time LADY CHILTERN returns to look for him.

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