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Published: 1895 Categorie(s): Non-Fiction, Humor, Fiction, Drama Source: Project Gutenberg
About Wilde: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. Known for his barbed wit, he was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. As the result of a famous trial, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years of hard labour after being convicted of the offence of "gross indecency". The scholar H. Montgomery Hyde suggests this term implies homosexual acts not amounting to buggery in British legislation of the time. Source: Wikipedia Also available on Feedbooks for Wilde: • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) • The Canterville Ghost (1887) • The Nightingale and the Rose (1888) • A House of Pomegranates (1892) • The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1910) Note: This book is brought to you by Feedbooks http://www.feedbooks.com Strictly for personal use, do not use this file for commercial purposes.
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People THE PERSONS IN THE PLAY John Worthing, J.P. Algernon Moncrieff Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. Merriman, Butler Lane, Manservant Lady Bracknell Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax Cecily Cardew Miss Prism, Governess THE SCENES OF THE PLAY ACT I. Algernon Moncrieff’s Flat in Half-Moon Street, W. ACT II. The Garden at the Manor House, Woolton. ACT III. Drawing-Room at the Manor House, Woolton. TIME: The Present. LONDON: ST. JAMES’S THEATRE Lessee and Manager: Mr. George Alexander February 14th, 1895 John Worthing, J.P.: Mr. George Alexander. Algernon Moncrieff: Mr. Allen Aynesworth. Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D.: Mr. H. H. Vincent. Merriman: Mr. Frank Dyall. Lane: Mr. F. Kinsey Peile. Lady Bracknell: Miss Rose Leclercq. Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax: Miss Irene Vanbrugh. Cecily Cardew: Miss Evelyn Millard. Miss Prism: Mrs. George Canninge.
I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a firstrate brand. Lane? Lane. takes two. Very natural.] I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. Lane. [Lane goes out. No. sir. have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell? Lane. and after the music has ceased. I believe it is a very pleasant state. Lane. sentiment is my forte. Lane.Act I Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished.] Algernon. I never think of it myself. Algernon. Did you hear what I was playing. Lane. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person. As far as the piano is concerned. Algernon. That will do. Algernon. Lane. Lane. And. sir. when Lord Shoreman and Mr.] Algernon. Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that? Lane. I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine. I’m sorry for that. Why is it that at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information. [Languidly. I am sure. [Hands them on a salver. for your sake. eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed. Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. thank you. sir. Yes. sir. I see from your book that on Thursday night. Algernon enters. Really. Lane. what on earth is the use of 4 . I have only been married once. I keep science for Life. Worthing were dining with me. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. [Inspects them. Lane. Thank you. Yes. [Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table. sir. sir. and sits down on the sofa. sir. Yes. speaking of the science of Life. sir.] Algernon. if the lower orders don’t set us a good example. it is not a very interesting subject. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room. Algernon. eight bottles and a pint. I didn’t think it polite to listen.] Oh! … by the way. Algernon. Algernon.
Ernest Worthing. Jack. Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them. [Stiffly. Mr.] Lane. neighbours. I am in love with Gwendolen. to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility. Algernon. Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen. Eh? Shropshire? Yes. pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere? Eating as usual. Shropshire is your county. May I ask why? Algernon. [Enter Lane. Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire? Jack.] Algernon. How utterly unromantic you are! 5 . Jack. It is excessively boring. Algernon. I thought you had come up for pleasure? … I call that business.] In the country. neighbours. How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich. of course. Jack.] By the way. pleasure. I see. How perfectly delightful! Algernon. Yes. Oh.] Oh. but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won’t quite approve of your being here. my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town? Jack. Algernon. as a class. When one is in the country one amuses other people.them? They seem.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o’clock. the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. Jack. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you. Algernon. My dear fellow. Algy! Algernon.] [Lane goes out. [Sitting down on the sofa. And who are the people you amuse? Jack. How are you. [Enter Jack. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea? Algernon.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. [Airily. is it not? Jack. What on earth do you do there? Jack. that is all very well. Algernon. [Pulling off his gloves. Where have you been since last Thursday? Jack.
I have no doubt about that. My dear fellow. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here. In the second place.] Jack. [Lane goes out. You are not married to her already. Jack. Then the excitement is all over. [Takes one and eats it.] And very good bread and butter it is too. Jack. Algernon. sir. And before I allow you to marry her. Algy. you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. It is very romantic to be in love. Your consent! Algernon.] Have some bread and butter.Algernon. Algernon at once interferes. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married.] Please don’t touch the cucumber sandwiches.] 6 . one may be accepted. Well. That is quite a different matter. I’ll certainly try to forget the fact. Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean.] Algernon. [Takes plate from below. you have been eating them all the time. and I don’t think you ever will be. Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place.] Jack. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. Lane. Why on earth do you say that? Algernon. my dear fellow. It is a great truth. She is my aunt. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Yes. [Rings bell. It isn’t. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. Algernon. I believe. [Enter Lane. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted. Jack. Divorces are made in Heaven—[Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Well. that is nonsense! Algernon. you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. Gwendolen is my first cousin. I don’t give my consent. Girls don’t think it right. I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. [Advancing to table and helping himself. You behave as if you were married to her already. dear Algy. Algernon. by Cecily! I don’t know any one of the name of Cecily. in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter. Why. One usually is. Oh. Well. Jack. Bring me that cigarette case Mr. Jack.
I find that the thing isn’t yours after all. I must say.] But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? [Reading. Algy. what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall. Lane goes out. Cecily happens to be my aunt. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read. Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know. I happen to be more than usually hard up. I think that is rather mean of you. it makes no matter. [Follows Algernon round the room. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. and I don’t propose to discuss modern culture. [Enter Lane with the cigarette case on a salver. This cigarette case is a present from some one of the name of Cecily. Well. I am quite aware of the fact. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it.] ‘From little Cecily with her fondest love. [Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it. Jack.] 7 . Algernon.] However. Charming old lady she is. Algernon. Jack. too. Yes.’ Jack. and you said you didn’t know any one of that name. Algernon. [Retreating to back of sofa. Yes. [Moving to him. Algernon takes it at once. and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found. Jack. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! That is absurd! For Heaven’s sake give me back my cigarette case.] You have seen me with it a hundred times.] Algernon. Algernon. Of course it’s mine. [Opens case and examines it. It isn’t the sort of thing one should talk of in private. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case. Jack. some aunts are not tall. Your aunt! Jack. Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. if you want to know. now that I look at the inscription inside. for. I simply want my cigarette case back. I wish you would offer one. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. I was very nearly offering a large reward. Well. Ernest. but this isn’t your cigarette case. Just give it back to me.] My dear fellow. Algernon.Jack.
I admit. [Taking it from case. Algernon. that is exactly what dentists always do. lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess. Cecily. to an aunt being a small aunt. your name isn’t Jack at all. Algernon. made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter. Come. Algernon. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. Miss Prism. who adopted me when I was a little boy. but why an aunt. who lives at Tunbridge Wells. You answer to the name of Ernest.] Jack. Algernon. You have always told me it was Ernest. with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack. Jack. It produces a false impression. The Albany. You look as if your name was Ernest. Well. Miss Cecily Cardew. I’ll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country. My dear fellow. Ernest Worthing. and I am quite sure of it now. Yes. My dear Algy. no matter what her size may be. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? ‘From little Cecily. 8 . Jack. Old Mr. go on! Tell me the whole thing. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn’t Ernest. Well. Well. should call her own nephew her uncle. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. I can’t quite make out. and pray make it improbable. but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily.] Jack. [Sits on sofa. and the cigarette case was given to me in the country. It isn’t Ernest. Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a Bunburyist? Algernon. In fact it’s perfectly ordinary. Now. produce my cigarette case first. you had much better have the thing out at once. [Hands cigarette case. Here is one of them. [Puts the card in his pocket. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. Jack. 4. it is Ernest.’ I’ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me. my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country.] Now produce your explanation. Thomas Cardew. B.] ‘Mr. calls you her dear uncle. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist.Algernon. you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. Yes. Besides. it’s Jack.’ There is no objection. Here it is. Jack. who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate. It’s on your cards. or to Gwendolen. old boy. or to any one else. there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all.
go on. in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest. Jack. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know. It is very foolish of you. my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. Algernon. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. by the way? Jack. for instance. You are hardly serious enough. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist.Algernon. I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. What on earth do you mean? Algernon. and once a week is quite 9 . Now. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health. My dear Algy. my dear fellow. Algernon. Algernon. Jack. That. and modern literature a complete impossibility! Jack. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness. Jack. You had much better dine with your Aunt Augusta. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury. They do it so well in the daily papers. I haven’t asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night. for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either. That is nothing to you. Literary criticism is not your forte. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations. is the whole truth pure and simple. To begin with. It’s one’s duty to do so. That wouldn’t be at all a bad thing. I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night. I haven’t the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. who lives in the Albany. one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. Algernon. I dined there on Monday. in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. The truth is rarely pure and never simple. dear boy. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country? Jack. my dear Algy. You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest. I suspected that. Don’t try it. Algernon. Where is that place in the country. What you really are is a Bunburyist. You are not going to be invited … I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire. When one is placed in the position of guardian. I know.
Algernon. It’s perfectly easy to be cynical. and sent down with either no woman at all. may I dine with you to-night at Willis’s? Jack. In the third place. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen. if I get her out of the way for ten minutes. or two. My dear fellow. is the theory that the corrupt French Drama has been propounding for the last fifty years. I certainly won’t want to know Bunbury. or creditors. Algernon. and if you ever get married. whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family. Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury. I want to tell you the rules. If Gwendolen accepts me.] Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. [Sententiously. She will place me next Mary Farquhar. and that the happy English home has proved in half the time. you will be very glad to know Bunbury. Besides. Jack. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.enough to dine with one’s own relations. if you want to. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr… . You don’t seem to realise. 10 . Then your wife will. That is nonsense. Now. Jack. my dear young friend. but you must be serious about it.] That. Only relatives. Jack. indeed I think I’ll kill him in any case. Yes. I hate people who are not serious about meals. Jack. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. That is not very pleasant. that in married life three is company and two is none. There’s such a lot of beastly competition about. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. For heaven’s sake. Algernon. and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry. it is not even decent … and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. [The sound of an electric bell is heard. I’m not a Bunburyist at all. Yes. In the second place. It looks so bad. It is rather a bore. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. with your invalid friend who has the absurd name. I suppose so. I am going to kill my brother. Algernon. to-night. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it. don’t try to be cynical. Indeed. which seems to me extremely problematic. so that you can have an opportunity for proposing to Gwendolen. Algernon. it isn’t easy to be anything nowadays. ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to. who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. It is so shallow of them.
I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury. Algernon. [Algernon goes forward to meet them. Algernon. I’m quite comfortable where I am. not even for ready money. It really makes no matter.] Dear me. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. Certainly. Algernon. about there being no cucumbers. [Gwendolen and Jack sit down together in the corner. [Goes over to tea-table. Aunt Augusta. I hope you are behaving very well.] Algernon. Algernon. sir. Aunt Augusta. I am always smart! Am I not. Good afternoon. [Sees Jack and bows to him with icy coldness. Not even for ready money. Thanks. Won’t you come and sit here. That’s not quite the same thing. sir.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially. From what cause I. I’m sorry if we are a little late. And now I’ll have a cup of tea. I am greatly distressed. Algernon. Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax. she looks quite twenty years younger. Gwendolen? Gwendolen.] Lane. I went down twice. No. sir. That will do. and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me. thank you. who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now. I never saw a woman so altered. cannot say. [Goes out. Lane. Aunt Augusta. of course. No cucumbers! Lane. Oh! I hope I am not that. I’m feeling very well. Gwendolen. Algernon. [Gravely. Lane. Thank you. Lady Bracknell. Algernon.] Algernon. dear Algernon. Enter Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen. Algernon. Algernon.] Thank you. and I intend to develop in many directions. I’ve quite a treat for you to-night. It certainly has changed its colour.] Lady Bracknell. [To Gwendolen.[Enter Lane. Lady Bracknell. but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury.] Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell.] Lady Bracknell. It would leave no room for developments. I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning. [Picking up empty plate in horror. Mr. Worthing? Jack. I am going to send you 11 . Lane. In fact the two things rarely go together. [Algernon crosses and hands tea. you are smart! Gwendolen. mamma. You’re quite perfect. Miss Fairfax.
This Mr. Bunbury. Algernon. and one wants something that will encourage conversation. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. [Frowning. Health is the primary duty of life. if he is still conscious. Gwendolen. But I’ll run over the programme I’ve drawn out. and so attentive to her husband. But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language. [Exchanges glances with Jack. and indeed. and if one plays bad music people don’t talk. after a few expurgations. and either look shocked. Well. Aunt Augusta. in most cases. but he never seems to take much notice … as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. Fortunately he is accustomed to that. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Algernon. It is my last reception. French songs I cannot possibly allow. and I think I can promise you he’ll be all right by Saturday. that I think it is high time that Mr. poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. Lady Bracknell. you will accompany me. Algernon. to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday. It’s delightful to watch them. Aunt Augusta. if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment. It is a great bore. Lady Bracknell. [Rising. It is very thoughtful of you. for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is very strange. which. Yes. Your uncle would have to dine upstairs. which is worse. or laugh. and. People always seem to think that they are improper. I’ll speak to Bunbury. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. which is vulgar. Lady Bracknell. I believe is so. I need hardly say. from me. if one plays good music. Algernon. Algernon. and following Algernon. people don’t listen. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health.] They seem to think I should be with him. I am afraid.] I’m sure the programme will be delightful. was probably not much. It would put my table completely out. She is such a nice woman. Of course the music is a great difficulty. I consider it morbid. I shall have to give up the pleasure of dining with you to-night after all. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Lady Bracknell.down with Mary Farquhar. 12 . I am always telling that to your poor uncle. Algernon. Thank you. I must say. particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say. You see. but the fact is I have just had a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. Algernon.] I hope not. a terrible disappointment to me.
But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then? Gwendolen. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. Yes. Mamma has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to her about. at any rate. Jack. Charming day it has been. But your name is Ernest. 13 . Gwendolen remains behind. [Jack looks at her in amazement. as we know them. My own Ernest! Jack. Whenever people talk to me about the weather. Jack. But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest? Gwendolen. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination. I am quite well aware of the fact. Jack. Gwendolen.] Jack. as I hope you know. ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl … I have ever met since … I met you. Gwendolen. I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. I do mean something else. In fact. You really love me. Mr. I thought so. [Lady Bracknell and Algernon go into the music-room. you had been more demonstrative. and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest. [Nervously. I know it is. Passionately! Jack. Pray don’t talk to me about the weather. I would certainly advise you to do so. Certainly. And I often wish that in public. in an age of ideals.] Miss Fairfax. Gwendolen. Worthing. [Glibly. and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest. I knew I was destined to love you. Gwendolen. and has reached the provincial pulpits. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. Mr. Jack. Yes.] We live. Jack. Miss Fairfax. mamma. I am told.Gwendolen. I am never wrong. Gwendolen? Gwendolen. And that makes me so nervous. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines. And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell’s temporary absence … Gwendolen. Worthing.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation. Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.
Miss Fairfax. Yes. It does not thrill. if any at all. Worthing. It suits you perfectly. darling. Gwendolen. [Astounded. Ernest! They are quite. You know that I love you. Gwendolen. darling.Jack. All my girl-friends tell me so. Gwendolen. I have never loved any one in the world but you. I don’t much care about the name of Ernest … I don’t think the name suits me at all. I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. I adore you. The only really safe name is Ernest Jack. It is a divine name. Jack. Worthing? Jack.] 14 . Well. Gwendolen! Gwendolen. You know what I have got to say to you. especially when there are other people present. [Enter Lady Bracknell.] Gwendolen. a charming name. without exception. there is very little music in the name Jack. Well … may I propose to you now? Gwendolen. Jack. that you were not absolutely indifferent to me. And to spare you any possible disappointment. Besides. for instance. blue. Mr. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose. but men often propose for practice. Mr. It has a music of its own. really. It produces absolutely no vibrations … I have known several Jacks. and you led me to believe. Jack. Yes. quite.] Well … surely. I think it would be an admirable opportunity. It produces vibrations. Jack. indeed. I know my brother Gerald does. I think Jack. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. Gwendolen. My own one. Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. Married. Gwendolen. will you marry me? [Goes on his knees. and they all. what have you got to say to me? Jack. Gwendolen. There is no time to be lost. I hope you will always look at me just like that. to speak quite candidly. Yes. Jack? … No. The subject has not even been touched on. What wonderfully blue eyes you have. were more than usually plain. I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. Gwendolen. Mr. but you don’t say it. Worthing. I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before-hand that I am fully determined to accept you. Personally. Gwendolen. Jack. Of course I will. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. Gwendolen.
or your father. Thank you. in fact.] Gwendolen. How old are you? Jack. you.] I know nothing. she restrains him. may I ask? Gwendolen. yes. I am quite ready to enter your name. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. mamma. will wait for me below in the carriage. Mr.] Jack. Worthing. [Pencil and note-book in hand. [After some hesitation. Gwendolen. should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires. Lady Bracknell.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men. However.] Lady Bracknell. Worthing. I am engaged to Mr. Lady Bracknell. Mr. I am glad to hear it. Worthing. When you do become engaged to some one. Mr. This is no place for you. [They rise together. Pardon me. I prefer standing. In the carriage. Finished what. [Sitting down.] I must beg you to retire. you are not engaged to any one. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself … And now I have a few questions to put to you. sir. Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen! [Gwendolen goes to the door. It is most indecorous. Yes. Well. Which do you know? Jack. Besides. Lady Bracknell looks vaguely about as if she could not understand what the noise was. We work together. I must admit I smoke. Finally turns round. should his health permit him. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise. Worthing has not quite finished yet. While I am making these inquiries. Mamma! [He tries to rise. Do you smoke? Jack. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.Lady Bracknell. [Looks in her pocket for note-book and pencil.] Mamma! Lady Bracknell. from this semi-recumbent posture. Lady Bracknell. Twenty-nine. Worthing! Rise. I. [Goes out. will inform you of the fact.] You can take a seat. Gwendolen. A very good age to be married at. [Reproachfully. Mr. She and Jack blow kisses to each other behind Lady Bracknell’s back. as the case may be. There are far too many idle men in London as it is. mamma. looking back at Jack. although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has.] Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. pleasant or unpleasant. the carriage! Gwendolen. 15 . Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell.
I have a country house with some land. What are your polities? Jack. as far as I can make out. if necessary. Lady Bracknell. but I don’t depend on that for my real income. Between seven and eight thousand a year. I thought there was something. It gives one position. it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes. Jack. If it did. 149. or in investments? Jack. Well. I can get it back whenever I like. I believe. Lady Bracknell. that could easily be altered. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. at six months’ notice. attached to it. of course. or the side? Lady Bracknell. Of course. Ah. that point can be cleared up afterwards. about fifteen hundred acres. I am pleased to hear it. education produces no effect whatsoever. Well. unspoiled nature. Lady Bracknell. In investments. Fortunately in England. Jack. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Lady Bloxham? I don’t know her. and the duties exacted from one after one’s death. I am afraid I really have none. In fact. but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham.Lady Bracknell.] In land. at any rate. [Shaking her head. 16 . That is satisfactory. the poachers are the only people who make anything out of it. You have a town house. [Makes a note in her book. and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.] The unfashionable side. I presume. like Gwendolen. Jack. Lady Bracknell. touch it and the bloom is gone. Oh. I hope? A girl with a simple. nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character. She is a lady considerably advanced in years. could hardly be expected to reside in the country. I own a house in Belgrave Square. However. [Sternly. she goes about very little.] Both. What between the duties expected of one during one’s lifetime. chiefly. What is your income? Jack. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit. I am a Liberal Unionist. Jack. Do you mean the fashion. A country house! How many bedrooms? Well. That’s all that can be said about land. What number in Belgrave Square? Jack. and prevents one from keeping it up. land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound.
they count as Tories. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. In what locality did this Mr. To lose one parent. Worthing. I was … well. Found! Jack. The Brighton line. To be born. 17 . black leather hand-bag. It is a seaside resort. They dine with us. [Very seriously. Lady Bracknell. I was found. Mr. Was he born in what the Radical papers call the purple of commerce. Thomas Cardew. Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag? Jack. James. whether it had handles or not. because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Who was your father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. The fact is. The late Mr. Lady Bracknell. [Gravely. found me. Mr.Lady Bracknell. and gave me the name of Worthing. I am afraid I really don’t know. in a hand-bag. In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. or at any rate bred. I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. Are your parents living? Jack. or did he rise from the ranks of the aristocracy? Jack. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me … I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large. Or come in the evening. The cloak-room at Victoria Station? Jack. seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact. Oh. a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion—has probably.] In a hand-bag. Lady Bracknell. or Thomas. A hand-bag? Jack. I have lost both my parents. I said I had lost my parents. may be regarded as a misfortune. at any rate. Now to minor matters. an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found. Worthing. Where did the charitable gentleman who had a firstclass ticket for this seaside resort find you? Jack.] Yes. Yes. It was given to him in mistake for his own. Lady Bracknell. The line is immaterial. Lady Bracknell. Worthing is a place in Sussex. to lose both looks like carelessness.
Relations are simply a tedious pack of people. been used for that purpose before now—but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society. Oh. we are engaged. of either sex. but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. old boy? You don’t mean to say Gwendolen refused you? I know it is a way she has. I think it is most ill-natured of her. who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live. Algy. sir! What has it to do with me? You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up with the utmost care—to marry into a cloak-room. Her mother is perfectly unbearable. Mr. Lady Bracknell. My dear boy. without being a myth. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Gwendolen is as right as a trivet. Never met such a Gorgon … I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like. to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible. Jack. Didn’t it go off all right.] Algernon. That is exactly what things were originally made for. I suppose I shouldn’t talk about your own aunt in that way before you. In any case.] For goodness’ sake don’t play that ghastly tune. from the other room. She is always refusing people. Good morning! [Algernon. Lady Bracknell. You always want to argue about things. before the season is quite over. As far as she is concerned. Lady Bracknell. It is in my dressing-room at home. I would strongly advise you. Well. How idiotic you are! [The music stops and Algernon enters cheerily.] Jack. Oh. Algernon. I can produce the hand-bag at any moment. and goes to the door. Me. Worthing! [Lady Bracknell sweeps out in majestic indignation. I don’t see how I could possibly manage to do that. May I ask you then what you would advise me to do? I need hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness. and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning. that is nonsense! Algernon. Jack looks perfectly furious. strikes up the Wedding March. Algernon. 18 . I love hearing my relations abused. I won’t argue about the matter. she is a monster. Jack. I really think that should satisfy you. nor the smallest instinct about when to die. Jack.indeed. Jack. It isn’t! Jack. Worthing. and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent. which is rather unfair … I beg your pardon. Well. Algy. Mr.
It is perfectly phrased! and quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be. don’t they? Algernon. by a severe chill. That is their tragedy.] My dear fellow. You had much better say a severe chill. You are sure a severe chill isn’t hereditary. Jack. We have. I’d shoot myself … [A pause. What fools! Algernon. if she is pretty. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman! Algernon. Yes. Is that clever? Algernon. By the way. The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her. if she is plain. But I thought you said that … Miss Cardew was a little too much interested in your poor brother Ernest? Won’t she feel his loss a good deal? 19 . of course. Algernon. Everybody is clever nowadays. before the end of the week I shall have got rid of him. Of course it isn’t! Jack. in Paris. Lots of people die of apoplexy. Jack. my dear fellow. but it’s hereditary. did you tell Gwendolen the truth about your being Ernest in town.Jack. [In a very patronising manner. and to some one else.] You don’t think there is any chance of Gwendolen becoming like her mother in about a hundred and fifty years. Jack. quite suddenly. I am sick to death of cleverness. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. and Jack in the country? Jack. Jack. All women become like their mothers. That gets rid of him. My poor brother Ernest to carried off suddenly. refined girl. sweet. What do they talk about? Algernon. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left. Oh. Very well. the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice. that is nonsense. if I thought that. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. Algernon. Jack. Upon my word. The fools? Oh! about the clever people. Oh. then. What about your brother? What about the profligate Ernest? Jack. Jack. I’ll say he died in Paris of apoplexy. I should extremely like to meet them. do you. or anything of that kind? Algernon. No man does. That’s his. It’s a sort of thing that runs in families. Algernon. Algy? Algernon.
Really. we might trot round to the Empire at ten? Jack. upon my word! Gwendolen. I don’t mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind. goes long walks. You are not quite old enough to do that. Oh! one doesn’t blurt these things out to people. Algernon. Have you told Gwendolen yet that you have an excessively pretty ward who is only just eighteen? Jack. I don’t think I can allow this at all. if we want to get a good table at Willis’s. It is awfully hard work doing nothing. no! I can’t bear looking at things. Oh. Well.Jack. I will take very good care you never do. I would rather like to see Cecily. I never knew you when you weren’t … Algernon. [Enter Gwendolen. Gwendolen. let us go to the Club? Jack. Nothing! Algernon. Oh. I’ll bet you anything you like that half an hour after they have met. She is excessively pretty. I’m hungry. Oh. She has got a capital appetite. Jack. my dear boy.] Algernon. [Irritably. My own darling! 20 . Well. [Enter Lane.] Oh! It always is nearly seven. Oh no! I loathe listening. Algernon. Algy. Worthing. Algy. Algernon. Algernon. and she is only just eighteen. that is all right.] Lane. [Algernon retires to the fireplace. kindly turn your back. and pays no attention at all to her lessons. Lane goes out. Jack. we really must go and dress. It is so silly. what shall we do? Jack. Now. Algernon. Cecily is not a silly romantic girl. Gwendolen. I am glad to say. you always adopt a strictly immoral attitude towards life. no! I hate talking.] Jack. Do you know it is nearly seven? Jack. Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first. Well. However. Gwendolen. they will be calling each other sister. Well. Algernon. Miss Fairfax. I have something very particular to say to Mr. Algernon. Cecily and Gwendolen are perfectly certain to be extremely great friends. Algernon. What shall we do after dinner? Go to a theatre? Jack.
Algernon. Jack. Your Christian name has an irresistible fascination. Dear Gwendolen! Gwendolen. To-morrow. Certainly. sir. Hertfordshire. smiles to himself. Lane. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. tears them up. I lost at the age of three. A glass of sherry.] [Lane presents several letters on a salver to Algernon. and all the Bunbury suits … Lane. Then picks up the Railway Guide. Lane. my smoking jacket. Algernon. with unpleasing comments. Good! Algy.] I will see Miss Fairfax out. I’ve turned round already. But although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife. Jack. It is to be surmised that they are bills. Yes. You can put up my dress clothes. There is a good postal service. sir. Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them. The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me. How long do you remain in town? Jack. I’m going Bunburying. has naturally stirred the deeper fibres of my nature. Lane.Gwendolen. and marry often. sir. who has been carefully listening. I suppose? It may be necessary to do something desperate. You will let me see you to your carriage. [To Lane. My own one! Gwendolen. and writes the address on his shirt-cuff. What is your address in the country? Jack. Whatever influence I ever had over mamma. as related to me by mamma. Your town address at the Albany I have. Till Monday. who now enters. and I may marry some one else. Woolton. I will communicate with you daily. Gwendolen. I shall probably not be back till Monday. Ernest. Thanks. Gwendolen. [Algernon. [Jack and Gwendolen go off. Algernon. Jack. You may also ring the bell. sir. Lane. we may never be married. The Manor House. Jack.] 21 . you may turn round now. Yes. Lane.] Gwendolen. [Handing sherry. That of course will require serious consideration. From the expression on mamma’s face I fear we never shall. as Algernon. Yes. after looking at the envelopes. The story of your romantic origin. nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you.] Algernon. my own darling? Gwendolen. Yes.
Algernon lights a cigarette.Algernon. Oh. you’re a perfect pessimist. They are the only things that are never serious. Nobody ever does. Lane. Algernon. Lane goes off. reads his shirt-cuff. Lane. Algernon. Jack. It never is. and smiles. that’s nonsense. I do my best to give satisfaction. [Algernon is laughing immoderately.] ACT DROP 22 . I’m a little anxious about poor Bunbury. sir. [Jack looks indignantly at him. Algernon. Lane. [Enter Jack.] Jack. You never talk anything but nonsense. and leaves the room. I hope to-morrow will be a fine day. Jack. your friend Bunbury will get you into a serious scrape some day. There’s a sensible. Lane. Oh. I love scrapes. Algy. If you don’t take care.] What on earth are you so amused at? Algernon. intellectual girl! the only girl I ever cared for in my life. sir. that is all.
Basket chairs. and a table covered with books. [Drawing herself up.] But I don’t like German.] Miss Prism. Mr. I am sure you certainly would. and things of that kind influence a man very much. Pray open it at page fifteen. as he was leaving for town yesterday. to come down here sometimes. Cecily! I am surprised at you.] Miss Prism. Time of year. full of roses. he always lays stress on your German when he is leaving for town. Your German grammar is on the table. you know how anxious your guardian is that you should improve yourself in every way. Indeed I am not sure that I 23 . Worthing has many troubles in his life. Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be quite well.] I do not think that even I could produce any effect on a character that according to his own brother’s admission is irretrievably weak and vacillating. We will repeat yesterday’s lesson. Miss Prism. Cecily. It isn’t at all a becoming language. Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. [Cecily begins to write in her diary. You know German. [Miss Prism discovered seated at the table. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother. I wish Uncle Jack would allow that unfortunate young man. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson. The garden.Act II Garden at the Manor House. He laid particular stress on your German. I suppose that is why he often looks a little bored when we three are together. are set under a large yew-tree. Cecily.] Your guardian enjoys the best of health. Cecily. Miss Prism. Cecily is at the back watering flowers. [Calling. [Shaking her head. [Coming over very slowly. Miss Prism. and geology. Cecily. Miss Prism. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility. We might have a good influence over him. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. his brother. an old-fashioned one. Indeed. Child. July.] Cecily. Cecily! Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the watering of flowers is rather Moulton’s duty than yours? Especially at a moment when intellectual pleasures await you.
and not about my German lesson. [Rising and advancing. Alas! no. Cecily. when the Rector came in. As a man sows so let him reap. Cecily. Cecily. I think it would do her so much good to have a short stroll with you in the Park. I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. That is what Fiction means. Miss Prism. Miss Prism. you are not inattentive. I really don’t see why you should keep a diary at all. I wrote one myself in earlier days.] Chasuble. but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened. Oh. [Enter Canon Chasuble. Chasuble! This is indeed a pleasure. Cecily. Chasuble coming up through the garden. these speculations are profitless. and the bad unhappily. dear Miss Prism. Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache. I suppose so. Cecily. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel. Chasuble. I know that. is the diary that we all carry about with us. I should probably forget all about them. Cecily. I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment’s notice. But it seems very unfair. [Smiling. The good ended happily. Cecily. To your work. child. Cecily. [Cecily starts.would desire to reclaim him. 24 . well? Cecily. Chasuble. Miss Prism. and couldn’t possibly have happened. you are. And was your novel ever published? Miss Prism. Cecily. If I didn’t write them down. I am afraid I am. I have not mentioned anything about a headache. You must put away your diary. but I felt instinctively that you had a headache. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. I hope. Yes. Miss Prism. Memory. Cecily. Indeed I was thinking about that. They depress me so much. Did you really. I trust. Cecily. And how are we this morning? Miss Prism.] I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid.] But I see dear Dr. Dr. No. Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us. my dear Cecily. Miss Prism.] Dr.
That would be delightful. I will have a stroll with you.] He does! Algernon. I find I have a headache after all. Miss. I have never met any really wicked person before. He has brought his luggage with him. Cecily. [Miss Prism glares. [Raising his hat. [Merriman goes off. Ah yes. Miss Prism. Chasuble.] I spoke metaphorically. The Albany. very gay and debonnair. He said he was anxious to speak to you privately for a moment. [Goes down the garden with Dr. drawn from the Pagan authors. W. I think. I would hang upon her lips. dear Doctor. and a walk might do it good. I feel rather frightened. I suppose. [Takes the card and reads it. Mr. B. Ask Mr. horrid German! [Enter Merriman with a card on a salver. Worthing was in town? Merriman. Merriman. Chasuble. Yes.Chasuble. 4. you will read your Political Economy in my absence.] ‘Mr.] Merriman.] Cecily.] You are my little cousin Cecily. Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station. Miss Prism. [Bowing. [Enter Algernon. I mentioned that you and Miss Prism were in the garden.] Cecily. Egeria? My name is Lætitia. He seemed very much disappointed. Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism’s pupil. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side. that unfortunate young man his brother seems to be. Ernest Worthing to come here. he usually likes to spend his Sunday in London. I shall see you both no doubt at Evensong? Miss Prism. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit.’ Uncle Jack’s brother! Did you tell him Mr. Ahem! Mr. Worthing. Miss. Miss Prism. [Picks up books and throws them back on table. Cecily. with pleasure. by all accounts. He is not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment. Yes. We might go as far as the schools and back. Doctor. as. 25 . has not returned from town yet? Miss Prism. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else. Ernest Worthing.] A classical allusion merely. But I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer. I’m sure.—My metaphor was drawn from bees. Chasuble. It is somewhat too sensational. Chasuble.] Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid. That is strange. We do not expect him till Monday afternoon. With pleasure. Cecily. I suppose you had better talk to the housekeeper about a room for him.
Cecily. Algernon. I know he wants to speak to you about your emigrating. You. I hope you have not been leading a double life. Your emigrating. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia. I certainly wouldn’t let Jack buy my outfit. About my what? Cecily. You are under some strange mistake. my cousin Ernest. are Uncle Jack’s brother. Algernon. He has no taste in neckties at all. though I am sure it must have been very pleasant. Cecily. It is much pleasanter being here with you. I believe I am more than usually tall for my age. Couldn’t you miss it anywhere but in London? Algernon. That would be hypocrisy. Cecily. Algernon. I have a business appointment that I am anxious … to miss? Cecily. Algernon. if one wants to retain any sense of the beauty of life. 26 . my wicked cousin Ernest.] But I am your cousin Cecily. I have been very bad in my own small way. he said at dinner on Wednesday night. that you would have to choose between this world. Algernon. You mustn’t think that I am wicked. [Algernon is rather taken aback. No: the appointment is in London. In fact. I don’t think you will require neckties. I am obliged to go up by the first train on Monday morning. Cecily. Uncle Jack won’t be back till Monday afternoon. I am glad to hear it. the next world. but still I think you had better wait till Uncle Jack arrives. Australia! I’d sooner die. Algernon. In fact. cousin Cecily. pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. [Looks at her in amazement. now you mention the subject. I am not little. of course. how important it is not to keep a business engagement. That is a great disappointment. then you have certainly been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner. Well. Cecily. Algernon. I don’t think you should be so proud of that.] Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless. Well. He has gone up to buy your outfit. I see from your card. Cecily. Algernon. I can’t understand how you are here at all. Oh! I am not really wicked at all. and Australia. Cecily. If you are not. I know. Cecily.
Miss Prism. [Sententiously. Cecily. I feel better already. Algernon. Oh. I shouldn’t know what to talk to him about. Cousin Cecily. This world is good enough for me. but are you good enough for it? Algernon. I should have remembered that when one is going to lead an entirely new life. Chasuble return. cousin Cecily. never! Chasuble. Because you are like a pink rose.] Believe me. Miss Prism never says such things to me. Algernon. I will. You are looking a little worse. A misanthrope I can understand—a womanthrope. It is rather Quixotic of you.] Miss Prism. The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony. Might I have a buttonhole first? I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole first. Yes. Cecily. this afternoon. Cecily.] Algernon. are not particularly encouraging. I’m afraid I’ve no time. [Cecily puts the rose in his buttonhole. I don’t think I would care to catch a sensible man.] Algernon. No. A Marechal Niel? [Picks up scissors. Algernon. Cecily. Thank you. But I think you should try. You are too much alone. Oh. cousin Cecily. one requires regular and wholesome meals. Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady. I’m afraid I’m not that. well! The accounts I have received of Australia and the next world. I do not deserve so neologistic a phrase. Why? [Cuts a flower. Miss Prism and Dr. Cecily. Cecily. And you do not 27 . Cecily. Well. That is why I want you to reform me. would you mind my reforming myself this afternoon? Cecily. Algernon.] That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day. if you don’t mind.] You are the prettiest girl I ever saw. Cecily. How thoughtless of me. Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare. That is because I am hungry. You might make that your mission. [With a scholar’s shudder. You should get married. [They pass into the house. I’d sooner have a pink rose. Chasuble. Algernon.Algernon. dear Dr. Won’t you come in? Algernon. I don’t think it can be right for you to talk to me like that. Cecily. They are a snare that every sensible man would like to be caught in.
Quite dead. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers. Mr. Chasuble. Was the cause of death mentioned? Jack. but it is a sad. Worthing. Dear Mr. Miss Prism. That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman. Young women are green. sad blow. He died abroad. A severe chill. in Paris. a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. with crape hatband and black gloves. Still leading his life of pleasure? Jack. Jack. Dr. [Shaking his head. Were you with him at the end? Jack. But where is Cecily? Chasuble. that by persistently remaining single. More shameful debts and extravagance? Chasuble. Poor Ernest! He had many faults. This is indeed a surprise. Worthing? Miss Prism. so shall he reap.] I have returned sooner than I expected. My metaphor was drawn from fruits. Worthing. Ripeness can be trusted. [Shakes Miss Prism’s hand in a tragic manner. I hope you are well? Chasuble. Miss Prism. Maturity can always be depended on. As a man sows. He is dressed in the deepest mourning. Mr. Perhaps she followed us to the schools. We did not look for you till Monday afternoon. Chasuble. Jack. [Dr. Worthing! Chasuble. I’ve been told. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel. it seems. not even to her. I offer you my sincere condolence. Chasuble. I trust this garb of woe does not betoken some terrible calamity? Jack. No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. Mr. No. this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray. Men should be more careful. 28 . Very sad indeed. My brother. But is a man not equally attractive when married? Miss Prism. And often.seem to realise. Chasuble. Chasuble starts. Miss Prism. dear Doctor.] Dead! Chasuble. Miss Prism.] I spoke horticulturally.] Miss Prism. [Enter Jack slowly from the back of the garden. Your brother Ernest dead? Jack. in fact. What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it. Chasuble. Chasuble.
Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? [Dr. confirmations. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. was much struck by some of the analogies I drew. But it is not for any child. charity! None of us are perfect. The last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral. or. Will the interment take place here? Jack. I don’t remember anything about it. if you have nothing better to do. Jack. Of course I don’t know if the thing would bother you in any way. Not at all. this afternoon. Chasuble. who was present. you mentioned christenings I think. [All sigh. He seems to have expressed a desire to be buried in Paris. unmarried. indeed.] I have preached it at harvest celebrations. I regret to say.] My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion. Worthing? Your brother was.] I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. Ah! that reminds me. But have you any grave doubts on the subject? Jack.Chasuble. But surely. Chasuble. [Bitterly. Mr.] I mean. I believe. and. But they don’t seem to know what thrift is. But is there any particular infant in whom you are interested. you are continually christening. joyful. I would like to be christened myself. christenings. distressing. the immersion of adults is a perfectly canonical practice. You would no doubt wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction next Sunday. Chasuble. Worthing. The sprinkling. you have been christened already? Jack. I certainly intend to have. Immersion! 29 . or if you think I am a little too old now. Jack. on days of humiliation and festal days. [Jack presses his hand convulsively. I have often spoken to the poorer classes on the subject. The Bishop. In Paris! [Shakes his head. dear Doctor. dear Miss Prism. one of the Rector’s most constant duties in this parish. [Raising his hand. Oh yes. No! the fact is. was he not? Jack. I am very fond of children. of course. Dr. as in the present case. Chasuble looks astounded.] Charity. It is. Chasuble. Chasuble. Mr. Jack. No. Miss Prism. as a charity sermon on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the Upper Orders.] People who live entirely for pleasure usually are. aren’t you? Miss Prism.
I’ll tell him to come out. Poor Jenkins the carter. They come slowly up to Jack. Oh. However badly he may have behaved to you in the past he is still your brother. Your brother Ernest. It would be childish. perfectly! In fact I have two similar ceremonies to perform at that time. What nonsense! I haven’t got a brother. won’t you. Uncle Jack? Do look happy! You look as if you had toothache. a most hard-working man. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. Sprinkling is all that is necessary. and I have got such a surprise for you. Admirably! Admirably! [Takes out watch. Cecily! Chasuble. dear Mr. My child! my child! [Cecily goes towards Jack. Who do you think is in the dining-room? Your brother! Jack. My brother is in the dining-room? I don’t know what it all means.] Chasuble. You need have no apprehensions. Uncle Jack? [Runs back into the house. Our weather is so changeable. he kisses her brow in a melancholy manner. He arrived about half an hour ago. [Enter Algernon and Cecily hand in hand.] 30 . [Enter Cecily from the house. his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing. What is the matter. I am pleased to see you back. Worthing. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. Good heavens! [Motions Algernon away.Chasuble. Jack. You couldn’t be so heartless as to disown him. Miss Prism. Uncle Jack! Oh.] Cecily. Who? Cecily.] Jack. But what horrid clothes you have got on! Do go and change them. Cecily. Jack. I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. Miss Prism. Would half-past five do? Chasuble. This seems to me a blessing of an extremely obvious kind. Chasuble. Miss Prism. After we had all been resigned to his loss. don’t say that. Perfectly. These are very joyful tidings. A case of twins that occurred recently in one of the outlying cottages on your own estate. And you will shake hands with him.] Cecily. Oh! I don’t see much fun in being christened along with other babies.] And now. or indeed I think advisable. At what hour would you wish the ceremony performed? Jack. I think it is perfectly absurd. Oh. Jack. I might trot round about five if that would suit you.
Cecily. [They all go off except Jack and Algernon. Uncle Jack. [Shakes with Algernon and glares. Bunbury. Bunbury whom he goes to visit so often. Never forgive me? Cecily. Jack. he has told me all about poor Mr. Well. Nothing will induce me to take his hand. Miss Prism. I feel very happy. [Enter Merriman. Chasuble. I don’t allow any Bunburying here.] Cecily. Cecily. Cecily. and that I intend to lead a better life in the future. to see so perfect a reconciliation? I think we might leave the two brothers together. I won’t have him talk to you about Bunbury or about anything else. Uncle Jack. Jack. has he? Cecily. I have put Mr. Certainly. Cecily. you must get out of this place as soon as possible. Ernest has just been telling me about his poor invalid friend Mr. It’s pleasant. And surely there must be much good in one who is kind to an invalid. I suppose that is all right? 31 . But I must say that I think that Brother John’s coldness to me is peculiarly painful. and his terrible state of health. You have done a beautiful action to-day. Oh! he has been talking about Bunbury. do be nice.Algernon.] Chasuble. We must not be premature in our judgments. especially considering it is the first time I have come here. Bunbury! Well. Jack.] Merriman. and leaves the pleasures of London to sit by a bed of pain. Ernest’s things in the room next to yours. You young scoundrel. this is the last time I shall ever do it. never! Jack.] Jack. There is some good in every one. Cecily. you will come with us. Brother John. My little task of reconciliation is over. Miss Prism. never. if you don’t shake hands with Ernest I will never forgive you. I expected a more enthusiastic welcome. is it not. It is enough to drive one perfectly frantic. sir. Miss Prism. Algy. I think his coming down here disgraceful. He knows perfectly well why. you are not going to refuse your own brother’s hand? Jack. I have come down from town to tell you that I am very sorry for all the trouble I have given you. dear child. Algernon. Never. Uncle Jack. Yes. Of course I admit that the faults were all on my side. [Jack glares at him and does not take his hand.
a dressing-case. that is better than being always over-dressed as you are. Ernest has been suddenly called back to town. you have. your conduct an outrage. Well. I am afraid I can’t stay more than a week this time. if you are not too long. This Bunburying. Algernon. I suppose. You have got to leave … by the four-five train. Jack. [Goes back into the house. I don’t like your clothes. and your presence in my garden utterly absurd. 32 . Jack. Jack. However. Yes. I should think it very unkind if you didn’t. Cecily is a darling. will you go if I change my clothes? Algernon. Yes. as you call it. Well. Yes. It would be most unfriendly. sir. and with such little result.Jack. I certainly won’t leave you so long as you are in mourning. Jack. Ernest’s luggage. Merriman. I don’t like it. Jack. Jack. Yes. Three portmanteaus. two hatboxes. Your vanity is ridiculous. Mr. What? Merriman. Algernon. What a fearful liar you are. at any rate. I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own. If I were in mourning you would stay with me. I can quite understand that. Algernon. order the dog-cart at once. Jack. Why on earth don’t you go up and change? It is perfectly childish to be in deep mourning for a man who is actually staying for a whole week with you in your house as a guest. I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated. Jack. Algernon. My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. Jack. Well. and a large luncheon-basket.] Algernon. sir. His luggage? Merriman. Your duty as a gentleman calls you back. If I am occasionally a little over-dressed. Mr. sir. Jack. Algernon. and I hope you will have a pleasant journey back to town. You are certainly not staying with me for a whole week as a guest or anything else. Algernon. Well. you have got to catch the four-five. has not been a great success for you. I never saw anybody take so long to dress. I call it grotesque. Algernon. Jack. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. Merriman. I haven’t heard any one call me. I have not been called back to town at all. You are not to talk of Miss Cardew like that.
I think it has been a great success. Algernon. don’t stop. It can wait. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable. Ah. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. When it appears in volume form I hope you will order a copy. and make arrangements for another Bunbury.[Goes into the house. [Enter Cecily at the back of the garden. and that is everything. Cecily. Thank you. Ernest. She picks up the can and begins to water the flowers. I thought you were with Uncle Jack. Oh. Oh no. Cecily. is he going to take you for a nice drive? Algernon. I’m in love with Cecily. Yes. But pray. Cecily. I merely came back to water the roses.] Algernon. You can go on.] Merriman. [Somewhat taken aback. I delight in taking down from dictation. Ernest. I have reached ‘absolute perfection’. Do you really keep a diary? I’d give anything to look at it.] Algernon. I am afraid so. It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time.] Algernon. I will copy your remarks into my diary. He’s going to send me away.] Cecily. Algernon. [Enter Merriman. [Algernon looks appealingly at Cecily. Miss. [Goes over to table and begins writing in diary. Merriman. I think your frankness does you great credit. I am quite ready for more.] But I must see her before I go. If you will allow me. The dog-cart is at the door. Merriman for … five minutes. It’s a very painful parting. May I? Cecily.] Ahem! Ahem! 33 . there she is. Algernon. Cecily. Cecily. Oh. Cecily. He’s gone to order the dog-cart for me. sir.] You see. [Puts her hand over it. I hope. it is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions. Then have we got to part? Algernon. [Exit Merriman. I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection. and consequently meant for publication.
You will marry me. you of course have formed the chief topic of conversation between myself and Miss Prism. it will be exactly three months on Thursday. I don’t think that you should tell me that you love me wildly. devotedly. after all. Yes. Ernest. But how did we become engaged? Cecily. One feels there must be something in him. On the 14th of February last. Cecily. I have dared to love you wildly. Algernon. isn’t it? Cecily. The dog-cart is waiting. you’ve wonderfully good taste. won’t you? Cecily. Algernon. I don’t care for anybody in the whole world but you. at the same hour. It’s the excuse I’ve always given for your leading such a bad life. Algernon.] Merriman. ever since dear Uncle Jack first confessed to us that he had a younger brother who was very wicked and bad. Cecily. Did I give you this? It’s very pretty. Tell it to come round next week. When one is dictating one should speak fluently and not cough. passionately. ever since I first looked upon your wonderful and incomparable beauty. don’t cough. The next day I bought this little ring in your name. but I fell in love with you. and this is the little bangle with the true lover’s knot I promised you always to wear. hopelessly. Hopelessly doesn’t seem to make much sense.] Cecily. Oh. we have been engaged for the last three months. and after a long struggle with myself I accepted you under this dear old tree here. Cecily! [Enter Merriman. And this is the box in 34 .] Cecily. Well. passionately. Algernon.] Yes. Merriman. sir. [Speaking very rapidly. [Looks at Cecily. Why. I daresay it was foolish of me. Uncle Jack would be very much annoyed if he knew you were staying on till next week. hopelessly.Cecily. [Writes as Algernon speaks. Oh. I don’t know how to spell a cough. who makes no sign. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence. Besides. does it? Algernon. [Merriman retires. I love you. Yes. devotedly. sir. Algernon. Algernon. Ernest. Darling! And when was the engagement actually settled? Cecily. For the last three months? Cecily. You silly boy! Of course. And of course a man who is much talked about is always very attractive. Ernest. I determined to end the matter one way or the other. at the same hour.] Algernon. I don’t care about Jack.
] The three you wrote me after I had broken off the engagement are so beautiful. Cecily. But was our engagement ever broken off? Cecily. But. I have never written you any letters. They would make you far too conceited. Algernon. Cecily. Of course it was. Algernon. You must not laugh at me. It would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn’t been broken off at least once. You need hardly remind me of that. [Nervously. I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Ernest. But why on earth did you break it off? What had I done? I had done nothing at all. [He kisses her. Particularly when the weather was so charming. Cecily also.which I keep all your dear letters. My letters! But. Oh. there is the question of your name. of course. [Kneels at table. does it? Algernon. Algernon. Oh. do you mean to say you could not love me if I had some other name? Cecily. But I forgave you before the week was out. Cecily? Cecily. but it had always been a girlish dream of mine to love some one whose name was Ernest. Yes. The weather still continues charming. darling. Algernon. my dear child. [Crossing to her. Algernon.] Cecily. and kneeling. Cecily. But what name? 35 . with a little help from others.] There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. my own sweet Cecily. I am very much hurt indeed to hear you broke it off. On the 22nd of last March. darling. Algernon. [Replaces box. Besides. You’ll never break off our engagement again. Cecily. [Algernon rises. Yes. Cecily.] What a perfect angel you are. of course. and so badly spelled. opens box. You can see the entry if you like. do let me read them. I remember only too well that I was forced to write your letters for you.] Algernon. I am so glad. and produces letters tied up with blue ribbon. You dear romantic boy. she puts her fingers through his hair.] I hope your hair curls naturally. Ernest. and sometimes oftener. I wrote always three times a week. [Shows diary.’ Algernon. Cecily? Cecily. I feel it is better to do so.] ‘To-day I broke off my engagement with Ernest. I don’t think I could break it off now that I have actually met you. I couldn’t possibly. Cecily. that even now I can hardly read them without crying a little.
couldn’t you love me? Cecily. I’ll be back in no time.Algernon. I suppose. Cecily. Isn’t Mr. On very important business. But seriously. thoroughly experienced in the practice of all the rites and ceremonials of the Church? Cecily. any name you like—Algernon—for instance … Cecily. And you can bring tea. Couldn’t you make it twenty minutes? Algernon. sweet. A Miss Fairfax has just called to see Mr. Half of the chaps who get into the Bankruptcy Court are called Algernon. so you can imagine how much he knows. but I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention.] Your Rector here is. Worthing. Worthing went over in the direction of the Rectory some time ago. [Enter Merriman. Worthing is sure to be back soon. Ahem! Cecily! [Picking up hat.] Merriman. [Kisses her and rushes down the garden. Pray ask the lady to come out here.] I might respect you. Oh! Algernon. yes. I must enter his proposal in my diary. Cecily. Mr. Miss Fairfax states. I think it is rather hard that you should leave me for so long a period as half an hour. It is not at all a bad name.] Cecily.] Cecily. Merriman. Mr. it is rather an aristocratic name. [Rising. Worthing in his library? Merriman. Considering that we have been engaged since February the 14th. Oh. Dr. I might admire your character. I shan’t be away more than half an hour. I must see him at once on a most important christening—I mean on most important business. Algernon. my own dear. Cecily. Miss Fairfax! I suppose one of the many good elderly women who are associated with Uncle Jack in some of his philanthropic work in 36 . Miss. loving little darling. I really can’t see why you should object to the name of Algernon. But I don’t like the name of Algernon. Yes. Ernest. Oh. What an impetuous boy he is! I like his hair so much. Cecily … [Moving to her] … if my name was Algy. Algernon. In fact. Chasuble is a most learned man. Algernon. He has never written a single book. and that I only met you to-day for the first time. [Goes out. Cecily. Well.
I don’t think so.] You are here on a short visit.] [Exit Merriman. papa. Gwendolen. any relations. Oh no! I have no mother. Cecily. Cecily. I suppose. It makes men so very attractive. Gwendolen. I don’t quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. I hope so. has brought me up to be extremely short-sighted. mamma. no doubt. And you will always call me Gwendolen. Oh no! I live here. [Advancing to meet her. [Enter Gwendolen. Pray sit down. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. I suppose? Cecily. Gwendolen.] Merriman. Gwendolen. They both sit down together. does he not? And I don’t like that. With pleasure! Gwendolen. I think it is so forward of them. in fact. Perhaps this might be a favourable opportunity for my mentioning who I am. [Severely. My father is Lord Bracknell. Gwendolen. And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate. Cecily. My name is Cecily Cardew. The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. [Enter Merriman. You have never heard of papa. I like you already more than I can say. I am glad to say. I think that is quite as it should be.] Pray let me introduce myself to you.] Cecily. won’t you? Cecily. Indeed? 37 . so do you mind my looking at you through my glasses? Cecily. [After examining Cecily carefully through a lorgnette. Miss Fairfax.London. resides here also? Cecily. I am very fond of being looked at. may I not? Cecily. whose views on education are remarkably strict. If you wish. is entirely unknown. or some female relative of advanced years. is it not? Cecily. How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. Then that is all quite settled.] Gwendolen. Oh! not at all.] I may call you Cecily. [Still standing up. [A pause.] Really? Your mother. My first impressions of people are never wrong. Cecily Cardew? [Moving to her and shaking hands. it is part of her system. nor. Gwendolen. Outside the family circle.] What a very sweet name! Something tells me that we are going to be great friends.
but it is not Mr. I am Mr. Cecily. Oh. has the arduous task of looking after me. History would be quite unreadable. Oh! It is strange he never mentioned to me that he had a ward. I cannot help expressing a wish you were—well. Cecily. indeed. I was growing almost anxious.] I beg your pardon? Cecily.Cecily. Modern.] I am very fond of you. that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight. Yes. Cecily. Ernest Worthing who is my guardian. My dear guardian. just a little older than you seem to be—and not quite so very alluring in appearance. Disloyalty would be as impossible to him as deception. Ah! that accounts for it. I am sorry to say they have not been on good terms for a long time. And now that I think of it I have never heard any man mention his brother. I am not sure. [Inquiringly. Yes. one should always be quite candid.] Dearest Gwendolen. I am going to be his. Your guardian? Cecily. no less than Ancient History. [Rather shy and confidingly. Worthing’s ward. Gwendolen. How secretive of him! He grows more interesting hourly. supplies us with many most painful examples of what I refer to. Cecily. I have liked you ever since I met you! But I am bound to state that now that I know that you are Mr. there is no reason why I should make a secret of it to you. Pray do! I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say. Gwendolen. Worthing’s ward. Cecily. and more than usually plain for your age. quite sure that it is not Mr. Gwendolen. if I may speak candidly— Cecily. Ernest has a strong upright nature. The subject seems distasteful to most men. you have lifted a load from my mind. Well. however. Our little county 38 . Quite sure. I beg your pardon. It would have been terrible if any cloud had come across a friendship like ours. [Rising and going to her. In fact. [A pause. Gwendolen. If it were not so. Gwendolen. would it not? Of course you are quite. Ernest Worthing who is your guardian? Cecily. Cecily. with the assistance of Miss Prism. to speak with perfect candour. It is his brother—his elder brother. did you say Ernest? Gwendolen. Gwendolen.] In fact. He is the very soul of truth and honour. I wish that you were fully forty-two.] Ernest never mentioned to me that he had a brother. Gwendolen. But even men of the noblest possible moral character are extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others. [Sitting down again.
as usual. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me. [Thoughtfully and sadly. Miss Fairfax. pray do so. [Produces diary of her own. Shall I lay tea here as usual. [Merriman begins to clear table and lay cloth. He carries a salver. and plate stand. Cecily. [Enter Merriman. Ernest Worthing and I are engaged to be married. [Shows diary. It becomes a pleasure. followed by the footman. Do you allude to me.] Merriman. dear Cecily. [Satirically.] I am afraid you must be under some misconception.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. as an entanglement? You are presumptuous.] It is certainly very curious. It would distress me more than I can tell you.] Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got into.] Gwendolen. Miss Cardew. Cecily is about to retort.] 39 . One should always have something sensational to read in the train. if it is any disappointment to you. in a calm voice. [Sternly. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago. Miss? Cecily. Cecily and Gwendolen glare at each other. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different. Gwendolen. If you would care to verify the incident. [Quite politely. Cecily.] If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once. Mr. rising. rising. When I see a spade I call it a spade. Do you suggest. Cecily.] Yes. The presence of the servants exercises a restraining influence. and with a firm hand. for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5. I think there must be some slight error. table cloth. I am so sorry. On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one’s mind. Gwendolen.30. dear Gwendolen.newspaper is sure to chronicle the fact next week. Cecily. [Very politely.] I never travel without my diary. [Meditatively. A long pause. but I am afraid I have the prior claim. if it caused you any mental or physical anguish. under which both girls chafe. [Examines diary through her lorgnettte carefully. Mr.] My darling Cecily. that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. I will never reproach him with it after we are married. The announcement will appear in the Morning Post on Saturday at the latest. but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you he clearly has changed his mind. Gwendolen. Gwendolen.
Cecily. You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar. Miss Fairfax? Gwendolen.] Detestable girl! But I require tea! Cecily. Sugar is not fashionable any more. [Looking round. looks at it. Rises in indignation. The country always bores me to death.] Bread and butter. if anybody who is anybody does. [Sweetly. is it not? I believe the aristocracy are suffering very much from it just at present. I had no idea there were any flowers in the country. Miss Cardew? Cecily. May I offer you some tea. Miss Cardew. and finds it is cake. [Cecily looks angrily at her. please. I have been told. [Aside. [Cuts a very large slice of cake.Gwendolen.] Cake or bread and butter? Gwendolen. Oh. reaches out her hand to the bread and butter. So glad you like it. [Sweetly.] Quite a well-kept garden this is. From the top of one of the hills quite close one can see five counties. Are there many interesting walks in the vicinity. Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country.] Cecily.] Thank you. [In a bored manner. [Merriman does so. Gwendolen. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.] Gwendolen. Gwendolen. thank you. and beats her foot nervously with her parasol. Ah! This is what the newspapers call agricultural depression. Cecily. Miss Fairfax. Cecily.] No. Gwendolen.] Sugar? Gwendolen. and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter. and puts it on the tray. [With elaborate politeness. as people are in London.] Gwendolen. Miss Fairfax. and the extraordinary 40 . you have given me cake.] I suppose that is why you live in town? [Gwendolen bites her lip. I hate crowds. It is almost an epidemic amongst them. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition. [Severely.] Hand that to Miss Fairfax. Cecily. and goes out with footman. Gwendolen drinks the tea and makes a grimace. Oh! yes! a great many. [Superciliously. takes up the tongs and puts four lumps of sugar into the cup. Five counties! I don’t think I should like that. flowers are as common here. Puts down cup at once. Cecily.
Gwendolen. Gwendolen! Darling! [Offers to kiss her. Gwendolen.] Gwendolen.] To what young lady? Good heavens! Gwendolen! Cecily. [Drawing back. but I warn you. you may go too far. [Very sweetly.] My own love! [Offers to kiss her.] I knew there must be some misunderstanding. [Rising. It seems to me.] Cecily. The gentleman whose arm is at present round your waist is my guardian. trusting boy from the machinations of any other girl there are no lengths to which I would not go. Algernon. [Algernon kisses her.] Gwendolen.] Jack. Thank you. [Draws back. John Worthing. innocent. No doubt you have many other calls of a similar character to make in the neighbourhood. [Catching sight of him. I beg your pardon? Cecily.] A moment. [Goes straight over to Cecily without noticing any one else. You may! [Offers her cheek. that I am trespassing on your valuable time. [Laughing.] Ernest! My own Ernest! Jack. Cecily.] A moment! May I ask if you are engaged to be married to this young lady? [Points to Cecily. My first impressions of people are invariably right.] 41 . [Receding. Gwendolen. Miss Cardew. Gwendolen. [Laughing. This is Uncle Jack.] Cecily. From the moment I saw you I distrusted you. I felt that you were false and deceitful. Here is Ernest. [Presenting her cheek to be kissed. I mean to Gwendolen. I am never deceived in such matters.] To save my poor. [Enter Jack. Ernest! May I ask you—are you engaged to be married to this young lady? Algernon. Miss Fairfax.] Jack! Oh! [Enter Algernon. Algernon.] Cecily.sweetness of my nature. Cecily. Yes! to good heavens. [Looking round.] To dear little Cecily! Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Gwendolen. Thank you.] Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Cecily.] You may. Mr. Miss Fairfax.
] None! Gwendolen.] No brother at all? Jack. Cecily. Oh! Gwendolen.] Gwendolen—Cecily—it is very painful for me to be forced to speak the truth. [Slowly and seriously. Where is your brother Ernest? We are both engaged to be married to your brother Ernest. and I am really quite inexperienced in doing anything of the kind.] There is just one question I would like to be allowed to ask my guardian. [Slowly and hesitatingly.] Algernon Moncrieff! Oh! [The two girls move towards each other and put their arms round each other’s waists as if for protection. Gwendolen. Jack. I cannot deny it. I never had a brother in my life. An admirable idea! Mr. Algernon Moncrieff. [Standing rather proudly.] I could deny it if I liked. will you not? [They embrace. that neither of us is engaged to be married to any one. It has been John for years. However. It is the first time in my life that I have ever been reduced to such a painful position. Gwendolen. and I certainly have not the smallest intention of ever having one in the future. [Severely.] Cecily. Miss Cardew. [Cheerily. I could deny anything if I liked. Not even of an kind. Cecily. 42 .] Cecily. so it is a matter of some importance to us to know where your brother Ernest is at present. Gwendolen. But my name certainly is John.] Had you never a brother of any kind? Jack. [To Gwendolen. Cecily. Cecily. I have no brother at all. I felt there was some slight error. [Surprised.] You will call me sister. I am afraid it is quite clear. My poor wounded Cecily! Cecily. I will tell you quite frankly that I have no brother Ernest. Cecily. Is your name really John? Jack. Worthing. Are you called Algernon? Algernon. [Pleasantly. [Breaking away from Algernon. My sweet wronged Gwendolen! Gwendolen.Gwendolen. [Rather brightly.] A gross deception has been practised on both of us.] Never. there is just one question I would like to be permitted to put to you. Jack and Algernon groan and walk up and down. The gentleman who is now embracing you is my cousin. Mr.
Jack. Well. To say nothing of the fact that she is my ward. Jack. dear Jack? You won’t be able to disappear to London quite so frequently as your wicked custom was. aren’t they? [They retire into the house with scornful looks. This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Algernon. There is certainly no chance of your marrying Miss Cardew. Well. clever. Algernon. I suppose? Algernon. Jack. of you and Miss Fairfax being united. I wanted to be engaged to Gwendolen. I can see no possible defence at all for your deceiving a brilliant. No. That is absurd. I don’t think there is much likelihood. You have such an absolutely trivial nature. isn’t he. As for your conduct towards Miss Cardew.] Jack. To say nothing of the fact that she is my cousin. You won’t be able to run down to the country quite so often as you used to do. Well. It is not a very pleasant position for a young girl suddenly to find herself in. Jack. the only small satisfaction I have in the whole of this wretched business is that your friend Bunbury is quite exploded. Every serious Bunburyist knows that. Algernon. Is it? Gwendolen. Well. one must be serious about something. And a very good thing too. I adore her. thoroughly experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax. if one wants to have any amusement in life. Jack. 43 . that is no business of yours. Serious Bunburyist! Good heavens! Algernon. Algernon. Let us go into the house. Well.Cecily. I simply wanted to be engaged to Cecily. and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. I must say that your taking in a sweet. that is all. Jack. simple. I happen to be serious about Bunburying. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life. Your brother is a little off colour. dear Algy. Yes. I should fancy. Cecily. And not a bad thing either. you’ve no right whatsoever to Bunbury here. Algernon. I love her. men are so cowardly. Jack. About everything. What on earth you are serious about I haven’t got the remotest idea. They will hardly venture to come after us there. innocent girl like that is quite inexcusable. Jack.
You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.] Well. I wouldn’t talk about it. the sooner you give up that nonsense the better. But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins.] Jack. That is a very different thing. My dear fellow. Jack. Jack.] Jack. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. I never go without my dinner. Besides I have just made arrangements with Dr. Algernon. Algernon. as any one who knows me intimately will tell you. Indeed. I am particularly fond of muffins. I said it was perfectly heartless of you. eating is the only thing that consoles me. Jack.] I wish you would have tea-cake instead. [Rising. [He seizes the muffin-dish from Jack. Algy. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. How can you sit there. I can’t make out. If it was my business. Algernon. Algernon. It’s absurd.] It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. I don’t like tea-cake.Algernon. calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble. that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. Good heavens! I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden.30. I refuse everything except food and drink. and I naturally will take the name of Ernest. [Takes muffins from Algernon. Algernon. I have a perfect right to be christened if I like. When I am in trouble. Only people like stock-brokers do that. That may be. Jack. under the circumstances. except vegetarians and people like that. We can’t both be christened Ernest. [Offering tea-cake. I made arrangements this morning with Dr. But the muffins are the same. when I am in really great trouble. There is no evidence at all that I have ever been christened by anybody. Jack. Chasuble to be christened myself at 5.] Algernon. Besides. I wish to goodness you would go. Besides. [Begins to eat muffins. Chasuble to be christened at a quarter to six under the name of Ernest. Gwendolen would wish it. I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all. Well. [Rising. I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. You can’t possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. under the circumstances. It’s absurd. It is the only way to eat them. No one ever does. and then merely at dinner parties. I should think it extremely 44 .
I haven’t quite finished my tea yet! and there is still one muffin left. There are only two left. But I hate tea-cake. That is the important thing. Algernon still continues eating. you are at the muffins again! I wish you wouldn’t. It might make you very unwell. I must say I think it rather dangerous your venturing on it now. It is entirely different in your case.] ACT DROP 45 . but I have not been christened for years. Algernon. Yes. but you said yourself that a severe chill was not hereditary. Why don’t you go! Algernon. Jack. and so does Dr. Jack. Jack. Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests? What ideas you have of hospitality! Jack. It usen’t to be. but you have been christened. I know—but I daresay it is now. that is nonsense. I don’t want you here. Jack. Algernon! I have already told you to go. Science is always making wonderful improvements in things.probable I never was. You have been christened already. [Jack groans.] Oh. Yes. Algernon. Quite so. Algernon. Chasuble. and sinks into a chair. If you are not quite sure about your ever having been christened. you are always talking nonsense.] I told you I was particularly fond of muffins. Algernon. [Takes them. Jack. Yes. Algernon. You can hardly have forgotten that some one very closely connected with you was very nearly carried off this week in Paris by a severe chill. So I know my constitution can stand it. [Picking up the muffin-dish.
This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect. I have something very particular to ask you. But I haven’t got a cough. Mr. Much depends on your reply. Moncrieff.] They don’t seem to notice us at all. Cecily. Miss Fairfax? 46 . Mr. Worthing. Gwendolen. They have been eating muffins. They’re looking at us. does it not? Gwendolen.] Gwendolen. Cecily. looking out into the garden. [After a pause. Gwendolen. as any one else would have done.Act III Morning-room at the Manor House. Cecily. That’s very forward of them. It’s the only thing to do now. A most distasteful one. if you can believe him. your common sense is invaluable. kindly answer me the following question. The fact that they did not follow us at once into the house. Mr. Can you doubt it. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. [Enter Jack followed by Algernon. Why did you pretend to be my guardian’s brother? Algernon.] Gwendolen. Certainly not. But we will not be the first to speak. dear. Cecily. Worthing. Certainly. Cecily. I don’t. Gwendolen.] That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation. Cecily. seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left. style. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. They’re approaching. [To Gwendolen. not sincerity is the vital thing. Cecily. What effrontery! Cecily. what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a brother? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of coming up to town to see me as often as possible? Jack. Couldn’t you cough? Cecily. Yes. Gwendolen. Let us preserve a dignified silence. That looks like repentance. True. In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you. [Gwendolen and Cecily are at the window. They whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera. In matters of grave importance.
Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one.] Merriman. [Clasps hands with Algernon. [Moving to Cecily.Gwendolen. This is not the moment for German scepticism. Jack. I am! Gwendolen. [To Jack. True! I had forgotten.] Cecily. How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned. Cecily.] For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing? Jack. Then you think we should forgive them? Cecily. Cecily. I mean no. Certainly. [Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger.] [Enter Merriman.] Darling! [They fall into each other’s arms. That seems to me to have the stamp of truth upon it.] To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal? Algernon.] Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory.] Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. [To Jack. Exit Merriman. [To Algernon. seeing the situation. Gwendolen! What does this mean? 47 . An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people.] Our Christian names! Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon. men are infinitely beyond us. Moncrieff said. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. When he enters he coughs loudly. Yes. I am. Will you take the time from me? Cecily. We are. Gwendolen. Gwendolen. Ahem! Ahem! Lady Bracknell! Jack. That is all! Jack and Algernon [Speaking together. Cecily. I have the gravest doubts upon the subject.] Gwendolen and Cecily [Speaking together. Gwendolen. But I intend to crush them. Gwendolen. I am more than content with what Mr.] Darling! Algernon. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity.] Lady Bracknell. They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing. especially Mr. Could we not both speak at the same time? Gwendolen. The couples separate in alarm. Worthing’s. [To Cecily. Good heavens! [Enter Lady Bracknell.
Gwendolen. Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr. Worthing, mamma. Lady Bracknell. Come here. Sit down. Sit down immediately. Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young, of physical weakness in the old. [Turns to Jack.] Apprised, sir, of my daughter’s sudden flight by her trusty maid, whose confidence I purchased by means of a small coin, I followed her at once by a luggage train. Her unhappy father is, I am glad to say, under the impression that she is attending a more than usually lengthy lecture by the University Extension Scheme on the Influence of a permanent income on Thought. I do not propose to undeceive him. Indeed I have never undeceived him on any question. I would consider it wrong. But of course, you will clearly understand that all communication between yourself and my daughter must cease immediately from this moment. On this point, as indeed on all points, I am firm. Jack. I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen Lady Bracknell! Lady Bracknell. You are nothing of the kind, sir. And now, as regards Algernon! … Algernon! Algernon. Yes, Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell. May I ask if it is in this house that your invalid friend Mr. Bunbury resides? Algernon. [Stammering.] Oh! No! Bunbury doesn’t live here. Bunbury is somewhere else at present. In fact, Bunbury is dead. Lady Bracknell. Dead! When did Mr. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden. Algernon. [Airily.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon. Lady Bracknell. What did he die of? Algernon. Bunbury? Oh, he was quite exploded. Lady Bracknell. Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. If so, he is well punished for his morbidity. Algernon. My dear Aunt Augusta, I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live, that is what I mean—so Bunbury died. Lady Bracknell. He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action, and acted under proper medical advice. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. Bunbury, may I ask, Mr. Worthing, who is that young person whose hand my nephew
Algernon is now holding in what seems to me a peculiarly unnecessary manner? Jack. That lady is Miss Cecily Cardew, my ward. [Lady Bracknell bows coldly to Cecily.] Algernon. I am engaged to be married to Cecily, Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell. I beg your pardon? Cecily. Mr. Moncrieff and I are engaged to be married, Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. [With a shiver, crossing to the sofa and sitting down.] I do not know whether there is anything peculiarly exciting in the air of this particular part of Hertfordshire, but the number of engagements that go on seems to me considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance. I think some preliminary inquiry on my part would not be out of place. Mr. Worthing, is Miss Cardew at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information. Until yesterday I had no idea that there were any families or persons whose origin was a Terminus. [Jack looks perfectly furious, but restrains himself.] Jack. [In a clear, cold voice.] Miss Cardew is the grand-daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Cardew of 149 Belgrave Square, S.W.; Gervase Park, Dorking, Surrey; and the Sporran, Fifeshire, N.B. Lady Bracknell. That sounds not unsatisfactory. Three addresses always inspire confidence, even in tradesmen. But what proof have I of their authenticity? Jack. I have carefully preserved the Court Guides of the period. They are open to your inspection, Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. [Grimly.] I have known strange errors in that publication. Jack. Miss Cardew’s family solicitors are Messrs. Markby, Markby, and Markby. Lady Bracknell. Markby, Markby, and Markby? A firm of the very highest position in their profession. Indeed I am told that one of the Mr. Markby’s is occasionally to be seen at dinner parties. So far I am satisfied. Jack. [Very irritably.] How extremely kind of you, Lady Bracknell! I have also in my possession, you will be pleased to hear, certificates of Miss Cardew’s birth, baptism, whooping cough, registration, vaccination, confirmation, and the measles; both the German and the English variety.
Lady Bracknell. Ah! A life crowded with incident, I see; though perhaps somewhat too exciting for a young girl. I am not myself in favour of premature experiences. [Rises, looks at her watch.] Gwendolen! the time approaches for our departure. We have not a moment to lose. As a matter of form, Mr. Worthing, I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? Jack. Oh! about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the Funds. That is all. Goodbye, Lady Bracknell. So pleased to have seen you. Lady Bracknell. [Sitting down again.] A moment, Mr. Worthing. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. [To Cecily.] Come over here, dear. [Cecily goes across.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her. Jack. And after six months nobody knew her. Lady Bracknell. [Glares at Jack for a few moments. Then bends, with a practised smile, to Cecily.] Kindly turn round, sweet child. [Cecily turns completely round.] No, the side view is what I want. [Cecily presents her profile.] Yes, quite as I expected. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present. Algernon! Algernon. Yes, Aunt Augusta! Lady Bracknell. There are distinct social possibilities in Miss Cardew’s profile. Algernon. Cecily is the sweetest, dearest, prettiest girl in the whole world. And I don’t care twopence about social possibilities. Lady Bracknell. Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that. [To Cecily.] Dear child, of course you know that Algernon has nothing but his debts to depend upon. But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way. Well, I suppose I must give my consent.
Jack. Upon what grounds may I ask? Algernon is an extremely. Lady Bracknell. Brut. he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward. not even of any kind. Under an assumed name he drank.] Lady Bracknell. It pains me very much to have to speak frankly to you. I am not in favour of long engagements. Cecily. you may kiss me! Cecily. Thank you. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday afternoon. Lady Bracknell. Aunt Augusta. The marriage. Cecily. Lady Bracknell.Algernon. but this engagement is quite out of the question. Lady Bracknell. Untruthful! My nephew Algernon? Impossible! He is an Oxonian. Aunt Augusta. ’89. and she cannot marry without my consent until she comes of age. I beg your pardon for interrupting you. I am Miss Cardew’s guardian. about your nephew. but the fact is that I do not approve at all of his moral character. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance. and devoured every single muffin. Lady Bracknell. Thank you. Aunt Augusta. He subsequently stayed to tea. that he was perfectly well aware from the first that I have no brother. eligible young man. He has nothing. [Algernon and Cecily look at him in indignant amazement. [Kisses her. I think. To speak frankly. Lady Bracknell. but he looks everything. 51 . Aunt Augusta. Jack. Thank you. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. wine I was specially reserving for myself. Cecily. I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. and that I don’t intend to have a brother. That consent I absolutely decline to give. And what makes his conduct all the more heartless is. that I never had a brother. an entire pint bottle of my PerrierJouet. I’ve just been informed by my butler. had better take place quite soon. Algernon. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage. I may almost say an ostentatiously. Continuing his disgraceful deception. What more can one desire? Jack. You may also address me as Aunt Augusta for the future. Thank you. which I think is never advisable. I suspect him of being untruthful.] Thank you.
sweet child. Pray excuse me. That is very generous of you. Algernon. Well. for interrupting you again. which was many years ago now. dear? Cecily. but it is only fair to tell you that according to the terms of her grandfather’s will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five. I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody. of their own free choice. Lady Bracknell. I don’t know.Lady Bracknell. even to be married. Ahem! Mr. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present. as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five—a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature—I would beg of you to reconsider your decision. Yes. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty. Moncrieff. Lady Bracknell. remained thirty-five for years. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. but I couldn’t wait all that time. Jack. Then what is to be done. I felt it instinctively. [To Cecily. You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration. Lady Bracknell. [Cecily goes over. the matter is entirely in your own hands. and waiting. after careful consideration I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew’s conduct to you. I decline to give my consent. There will be a large accumulation of property. Lady Bracknell. Of course I could. Well. Cecily. Lady Bracknell. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Cecily? Cecily. Worthing. I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendolen. You know I could. could you wait for me till I was thirty-five? Algernon. a matter of any importance. My own decision.] How old are you. 52 . but admitting to twenty at evening parties. I am really only eighteen. I know. It looks so calculating … [In a meditative manner.] Come here. no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. Lady Bracknell. Mr. I am not punctual myself. is unalterable. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. Cecily. however. but I do like punctuality in others. It always makes me rather cross. Indeed. Algy. but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening parties. Worthing. My dear Mr. But my dear Lady Bracknell. So I don’t think your guardian’s consent is. it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage. Jack. after all.] Eighteen. is quite out of the question. Cecily. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have. Jack.
Pray allow me to detain you for a moment. [Looking rather puzzled. as things are now. Lady Bracknell. Chasuble.] You must be quite aware that what you propose is out of the question. Lady Bracknell. of course. [Somewhat indignantly. Algernon. and the very picture of respectability.] Miss Prism! Did I hear you mention a Miss Prism? Chasuble. remotely connected with education? Chasuble. Lady Bracknell. dear. I will not hear of such excesses. and pointing to Jack and Algernon. Am I to understand then that there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon? Jack. They savour of the heretical views of the Anabaptists.] Chasuble. Worthing.] She is the most cultivated of ladies. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money. Lady Bracknell. I don’t think that. Chasuble. [Pulls out her watch. However.] Come. it would be of much practical value to either of us. [Rising and drawing herself up. can choose for himself. Chasuble. Chasuble. [Enter Dr. At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon.Lady Bracknell. Mr. as your present mood seems to be one peculiarly secular. sir! Is not that somewhat premature? Chasuble. Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to. That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen. Indeed. Lady Bracknell. if not six. views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons. I forbid you to be baptized. 53 . I am on my way to join her.] Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism. Lady Bracknell. Yes. This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself. trains. [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five. I have just been informed by the pew-opener that for the last hour and a half Miss Prism has been waiting for me in the vestry. I will return to the church at once. Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect. Jack. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform. I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you. Dr. [Starting. Everything is quite ready for the christenings. The christenings.
[Who has been listening attentively. Jack. you left Lord Bracknell’s house. I deposited the manuscript in the basinette. [Looking off. I must see her at once. and placed the baby in the hand-bag.] Lady Bracknell. for which I never can forgive myself. It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality. the perambulator was discovered at midnight. It is obviously the same person. Lady Bracknell.] But where did you deposit the hand-bag? 54 . I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator.] Come here. In a moment of mental abstraction. In spite of what I hear of her. who has fixed her with a stony glare. Lady Bracknell. but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. Prism! [Miss Prism approaches in a humble manner. Algernon and Jack pretend to be anxious to shield Cecily and Gwendolen from hearing the details of a terrible public scandal. she is nigh. The Canon starts back in horror. a day that is for ever branded on my memory. [Severely. I only wish I did. The plain facts of the case are these. Jack. [Enter Miss Prism hurriedly.] Prism! [Miss Prism bows her head in shame. has been for the last three years Miss Cardew’s esteemed governess and valued companion.] Prism! Where is that baby? [General consternation.] I am a celibate. You never returned. On the morning of the day you mention.] Miss Prism. I admit with shame that I do not know. She looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape. judicial voice. May I ask what position she holds in your household? Chasuble. [Miss Prism starts in involuntary indignation. [Interposing. I had also with me a somewhat old.] Miss Prism. Upper Grosvenor Street.Lady Bracknell. [In a severe. standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater. madam. through the elaborate investigations of the Metropolitan police.] Miss Prism. dear Canon.] Prism! Where is that baby? [A pause. I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three-quarters. Chasuble. Number 104. Lady Bracknell.] She approaches. Prism. in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex. Let her be sent for. [Catches sight of Lady Bracknell. A few weeks later.] But the baby was not there! [Every one looks at Miss Prism. Miss Prism grows pale and quails.] Twenty-eight years ago. I was told you expected me in the vestry.
wait here for me. It sounds as if he was having an argument. Miss Prism. I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them placed there. I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London. Jack. [The noise is redoubled. Mr. this is a matter of no small importance to me. This noise is extremely unpleasant. 55 . Gwendolen. on the lock. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days. I dislike arguments of any kind. Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated. I dare not even suspect. The Brighton line. [Noises heard overhead as if some one was throwing trunks about. They are always vulgar. What do you think this means.] It has stopped now. Miss Prism? Examine it carefully before you speak. [Exit Jack in great excitement. [Looking up. Chasuble. [Rushing over to Miss Prism. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant.] Victoria. Yes.] It seems to be mine. Gwendolen. [Enter Jack with a hand-bag of black leather in his hand. Dr. Worthing. and often convincing. I wish he would arrive at some conclusion.] Jack. Gwendolen. [Sinks into a chair. They are hardly considered the thing.] Jack. Do not ask me. It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years.] Is this the hand-bag. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me. [Calmly. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer. Your guardian has a very emotional nature.Miss Prism. Chasuble. I hope it will last. Chasuble. The bag is undoubtedly mine. Lady Bracknell. an incident that occurred at Leamington. are my initials. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage. And here. Jack. What railway station? Miss Prism. Miss Prism. Miss Prism.] Cecily. [Quite crushed. I will wait here for you all my life. Every one looks up. This suspense is terrible. Lady Bracknell? Lady Bracknell.] Chasuble.] Lady Bracknell. I must retire to my room for a moment. If you are not too long.
Jack.] My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name.] Mr. Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. Chasuble.Jack. 56 . my unfortunate brother. however. my unfortunate brother.] Mr. Jack. I forgive you. Algy’s elder brother! Then I have a brother after all.] You? Jack. Well. [Shakes hands.] Lady Bracknell. [Pointing to Lady Bracknell. Miss Prism. Every luxury that money could buy. Gwendolen. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable. Moncrieff. [Amazed. I am afraid that the news I have to give you will not altogether please you. Good heavens! … I had quite forgotten that point. Cecily. who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Why should there be one law for men. I hate to seem inquisitive. you young scoundrel. old boy. there is some error.—how could you have ever doubted that I had a brother? [Seizes hold of Algernon. not till to-day.] Miss Prism. [After a pause.] Gwendolen. more is restored to you than this hand-bag. Aunt Augusta. Worthing. my unfortunate brother. [In a pathetic voice.] Dr. and consequently Algernon’s elder brother. Worthing! I am unmarried! Jack. But after all. Mrs. and another for women? Mother. Algernon. had I been christened already? Lady Bracknell. I never change. Algy. a moment. You have never behaved to me like a brother in all your life. [Still more indignant. Miss Prism. but would you kindly inform me who I am? Lady Bracknell. I was the baby you placed in it. now that you have become some one else? Jack. Gwendolen! Jack. [Tries to embrace her again.] Yes … mother! Miss Prism. you will have to treat me with more respect in the future. had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents. I admit.] Miss Prism.] There is the lady who can tell you who you really are. including christening. At the time when Miss Prism left me in the handbag. I did my best. except in my affections. Then the question had better be cleared up at once. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment. [Embracing her. though I was out of practice. You are the son of my poor sister. I knew I had a brother! I always said I had a brother! Cecily. [To Jack. What a noble nature you have. I suppose? Gwendolen.
He died before I was a year old. Jack. My dear boy. I mean it naturally is Ernest. it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.] I cannot at the present moment recall what the General’s Christian name was. Jack. General 1869. except in his domestic life. [Rushes to bookcase and tears the books out.] Yes. His name would appear in the Army Lists of the period. I admit. [Irritably. and indigestion. it is Ernest after all. Gwendolen. Jack. what ghastly names they have—Markby. didn’t I? Well. Then I was christened! That is settled. These delightful records should have been my constant study. Lieutenant-Colonel. [Puts book very quietly down and speaks quite calmly.] Lætitia! [Embraces her] Miss Prism. Cecily! [Embraces her. And that was the result of the Indian climate. Generals … Mallam. Now. Gwendolen! [Embraces her. I remember now that the General was called Ernest.Jack. Gwendolen. But I have no doubt he had one. He was eccentric. Aunt Augusta? Lady Bracknell. My own one! Chasuble. my name was Ernest. I suppose. Christian names. The Army Lists of the last forty years are here. Moncrieff! Lieutenant 1840. Magley. Lady Bracknell. Can you forgive me? Gwendolen. Jack. but what was my father’s Christian name? Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell.] At last! Jack.] M. Ernest John. Being the eldest son you were naturally christened after your father. Jack. Gwendolen. I can. we were never even on speaking terms. I knew I had some particular reason for disliking the name. [To Miss Prism.] At last! 57 . Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the first that you could have no other name! Jack. Migsby. [Meditatively. Yes.] Frederick! At last! Algernon. For I feel that you are sure to change. [Enthusiastically. The General was essentially a man of peace. what name was I given? Let me know the worst. Colonel. Algy! Can’t you recollect what our father’s Christian name was? Algernon. Maxbohm. and marriage. But only in later years. Captain. Mobbs.] I always told you. and other things of that kind. But I have no doubt his name would appear in any military directory.
TABLEAU 58 .Lady Bracknell. I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest. Aunt Augusta. On the contrary. you seem to be displaying signs of triviality. Jack. My nephew.
Otis. perhaps. Mr. "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages. science. and mathematics." Oscar Wilde The Canterville Ghost The Canterville Ghost is a popular 1887 novella by Oscar Wilde. Eleonore. Lord Canterville. the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in 1890. Otis dismisses the ghost story as bunk and disregards Lord Canterville’s warnings. Otis that the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville has haunted it ever since he killed his wife. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner. a lampoon of traditional British values. Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. Of the book's value as autobiography. “The Canterville Ghost” is a parody featuring a dramatic spirit named Sir Simon and the United States minister (ambassador) to the Court of St.Loved this book ? Similar users also downloaded Bertrand Russell Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays Essays on philosophy. three centuries before. When the Otises learn that the house is indeed haunted. James's. and an amusing twist on the traditional gothic horror tale. and a few years later the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons. Wilde noted in a letter. Oscar Wilde The Nightingale and the Rose 59 . warns Mr. full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations. they succeed in victimizing the ghost and in disregarding age-old British traditions. But Mr. widely adapted for the screen and stage. Otis travels to England with his family and moves into a haunted country house. What emerges is a satire of American materialism. Wilde was attacked for his decadence and corrupting influence. trials that resulted in his imprisonment. the previous owner of the house. religion. Hiram B.
in Paris. The Birthday of the Infanta. 1845. James Joyce Ulysses Ulysses is a novel by James Joyce. and one of the white roses tell her that there's a way to produce a red rose. This collections includes the following tales: The Young King. Noted for its musicality. The student takes the rose to the professor's daughter. Molly Bloom and Penelope. but only if the nightingale is prepared to sing the sweetest song for the rose all night. Leopold Bloom. 1922. The title alludes to the hero of Homer's Odyssey (Latinised into Ulysses). and decides not to believe in true love anymore. Seeing the student in tears.. but she again rejects him because another man has sent her some real jewels. returns to his study of metaphysics. and there are many parallels. as he is unable to give her a red rose. and "everybody knows that jewels cost far more than flowers. and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus). It was published for the first time on January 29. 60 ." The student angrily throws the rose into the gutter. Edgar Allan Poe The Raven "The Raven" is a narrative poem by the American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe. It is considered one of the most important works of Modernist literature. and sacrifice her life to do so. and The Star-child. first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920. Oscar Wilde A House of Pomegranates A House of Pomegranates is a collection of whimisical short stories by Oscar Wilde. The Fisherman and his Soul. between the two works (e. in the New York Evening Mirror. and impales herself on the rose-tree's thorn so that her heart's blood can stain the rose. June 16. the correspondences between Leopold Bloom and Odysseus. both implicit and explicit.A nightingale overhears a student complaining that his professor's daughter will not dance with him. Ulysses chronicles the passage through Dublin by its main character. during an ordinary day. Readers of all ages will be delighted by these fanciful tales. The nightingale visits all the rose-trees in the garden.g. the nightingale carries out the ritual. 1904. then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on February 2.
it is said to be the first book composed on a typewriter. and his beginnings as a writer.S. and his observations on greed. The book begins with a brief history of the river. gullibility. In this memoir. Louis to New Orleans. who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory. the science of navigating the ever-changing Mississippi River. He describes. such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. tracing his slow descent into madness. on a stagecoach journey west. with great affection. and in England. (Source: Wikipedia) Mark Twain Roughing It Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. real-estate speculation. which would become a staple of his writing in his later books. as the 'cub' of an experienced pilot.stylized language and supernatural atmosphere. the book describes Twain's return. (Source: Wikipedia) James Stephens Irish Fairy Tales 61 . Mark Twain Life On The Mississippi Life on the Mississippi is a memoir by Mark Twain detailing his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before and after the American Civil War. and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. gold and silver prospecting. It continues with anecdotes of Twain's training as a steamboat pilot. He also tells some stories that are most likely tall tales. Roughing It illustrates many of Twain's early adventures. readers can see examples of Twain's rough-hewn humor. it tells of the mysterious visit of a talking raven to a distraught lover. to travel on a steamboat from St. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. he joined his brother Orion Clemens. including a visit to Salt Lake City. tragedy. the new. and bad architecture. many years later. In the second half. large cities. Simultaneously published in 1883 in the U. He describes the competition from railroads. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the novel.
62 .The lore of ancient Ireland comes to life in this collection of classic folk tales retold for modern readers.
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