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