Savoy Operas




publisher’s device from 1912: fused bell, dolphin and anchor



“I can tell a woman’s age in half a minute—and I do” 106 8
“Must we, till then, in prison cell be thrust?” 110 12
Enter the Princess, reading 120 22
Enter the “Daughters of the Plough,” bearing Luncheon 130 32
“If it be well to droop and pine and mope,
To sigh ‘Oh, Ida! Ida!’ all day long,
Then Prince Hilarion is very well” (p. 131)
The Gate yields. Hildebrand and Soldiers rush in 134 36
“Though I am but a girl,
Defiance thus I hurl”
136 38
“Where are your rifles, pray?” 140 42

Produced at the Savoy Theatre, Saturday, 5th January, 1884.


King Hildebrand Mr. Rutland Barrington
Hilarion (his Son) Mr. H. Bracy
Cyril (Hilarion’s Friends) Mr. Durward Lely
Florian Mr. Chas. Ryley
King Gama Mr. George Grossmith
Arac (his Sons) Mr. Richard Temple
Guron Mr. Warwick Gray
Scynthius Mr. Lugg
Princess Ida (Gama’s Daughter) Miss Leonora Braham
Lady Blanche (Professor of Abstract Science) Miss Brandram
Lady Psyche (Professor of Humanities) Miss Kate Chard
Melissa (Lady Blanche’s Daughter) Miss Jessie Bond
Sacharissa (Girl Graduates) Miss Sybil Grey
Chloe Miss Heathcote
Ada Miss Lilian Carr
Soldiers, Courtiers, “Girl Graduates,” “Daughters of the Plough,” etc.
ACT I Pavilion in King Hildebrand’s Palace (Emden)
ACT II Gardens of Castle Adamant (Hawes Craven)
ACT II Courtyard of Castle Adamant (Emden)

scene from Princess Ida


(P. 131)




Scene.—Pavilion attached to King Hildebrand’s Palace. Soldiers and Courtiers discovered looking out through opera glasses, telescopes, etc., Florian leading.


Search throughout the panorama

For a sign of royal Gama,

Who to-day should cross the water

With his fascinating daughter—

Ida is her name.

Some misfortune evidently

Has detained them—consequently

Search throughout the panorama

For the daughter of King Gama,

Prince Hilarion’s flame!



Will Prince Hilarion’s hopes be sadly blighted?


Who can tell?


Will Ida break the vows that she has plighted?


Who can tell?


Will she back out, and say she did not mean them?


Who can tell?


If so, there’ll be the deuce to pay between them!



No no—we’ll not despair,

For Gama would not dare

To make a deadly foe

Of Hildebrand, and so,

Search throughout the panorama, etc.

Enter King Hildebrand with Cyril


See you no sign of Gama?


None, my liege!


It’s very odd indeed. If Gama fail

To put in an appearance at our Court

Before the sun has set in yonder West,

And fail to bring the Princess Ida here

To whom our son Hilarion was betrothed

At the extremely early age of one,

There’s war between King Gama and ourselves!

Aside to Cyril. Oh Cyril, how I dread this interview!

It’s twenty years since he and I have met.

He was a twisted monster—all awry—

As though dame Nature, angry with her work,

Had crumpled it in fitful petulance!


But, sir, a twisted and ungainly trunk

Often bears goodly fruit Perhaps he was

A kind, well-spoken gentleman?


Oh, no!

For, adder-like, his sting lay in his tongue.

(His “sting” is present, though his “stung” is past.)

Flor. Looking through glass.

But stay, my liege; o’er yonder mountain’s brow

Comes a small body, bearing Gama’s arms;

And now I look more closely at it, sir,

I see attached to it King Gama’s legs;

From which I gather this corollary

That that small body must be Gama’s own.


Ha! Is the Princess with him?


Well, my liege,

Unless her highness is full six feet high,


And wears moustachios too—and smokes cigars—

And rides en cavalier in coat of steel—

I do not think she is.


One never knows.

She’s a strange girl, I’ve heard, and does odd things!

Come, bustle there!

For Gama place the richest robes we own—

For Gama place the coarsest prison dress—

For Gama let our best spare bed be aired—

For Gama let our deepest dungeon yawn—

For Gama lay the costliest banquet out—

For Gama place cold water and dry bread!

For as King Gama brings the Princess here,

Or brings her not, so shall King Gama have

Much more than everything—much less than nothing!

Song and Chorus


Now hearken to my strict command

On every hand, on every hand—


To your command,

On every hand,

We dutifully bow!


If Gama bring the Princess here

Give him good cheer, give him good cheer.


If she come here

We’ll give him a cheer,

And we will show you how.

Hip, hip, hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah!

We’ll shout and sing

Long live the King,

And his daughter, too, I trow!


Then shout ha! ha! hip, hip, hurrah!

For the fair Princess and her good papa,

Hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah! hurrah!


But if he fail to keep his troth,

Upon our oath, we’ll trounce them both!


He’ll trounce them both,

Upon his oath.

As sure as quarter day!


We’ll shut him up in a dungeon cell,

And toll his knell on a funeral bell.


From dungeon cell,

His funeral knell,

Shall strike him with dismay!

And we’ll shout ha! ha! hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah!

As up we string,

The faithless King,

In the old familiar way!

We’ll shout ha! ha! hip, hip, hurrah!

As we make an end of her false papa.

Hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah!

Hip, hip, hurrah! hurrah!

Exeunt all.

Enter Hilarion



To-day we meet, my baby bride and I—

But ah, my hopes are balanced by my fears!

What transmutations have been conjured by

The silent alchemy of twenty years!




Ida was a twelvemonth old,

Twenty years ago!

I was twice her age, I’m told,

Twenty years ago!

Husband twice as old as wife

Argues ill for married life

Baleful prophecies were rife,

Twenty years ago!

Still, I was a tiny prince

Twenty years ago.

She has gained upon me, since

Twenty years ago.

Though she’s twenty-one, it’s true,

I am barely twenty-two—

False and foolish prophets you,

Twenty years ago!

Enter Hildebrand


Well, father, is there news for me at last?


King Gama is in sight, but much I fear

With no Princess!


Alas, my liege, I’ve heard

That Princess Ida has forsworn the world,

And, with a band of women, shut herself

Within a lonely country house, and there

Devotes herself to stern philosophies!


Then I should say the loss of such a wife

Is one to which a reasonable man

Would easily be reconciled.


Oh, no!

Or I am not a reasonable man.

She is my wife—has been for twenty years!

Looking through glass. I think I see her now!


Ha! let me look!


In my mind’s eye, I mean—a blushing bride,

All bib and tucker, frill and furbelow!


How exquisite she looked, as she was borne,

Recumbent, in her foster-mother’s arms!

How the bride wept—nor would be comforted

Until the hireling mother-for-the-nonce,

Administered refreshment in the vestry!

And I remember feeling much annoyed

That she should weep at marrying with me.

But then I thought, “These brides are all alike.

You cry at marrying me? How much more cause

You’d have to cry if it were broken off!”

These were my thoughts; I kept them to myself,

For at that age I had not learnt to speak.

Enter Courtiers, with Cyril and Florian


From the distant panorama

Come the sons of royal Gama.

Who, to-day, should cross the water

With his fascinating daughter—

Ida is her name!

Enter Arac, Guron, and Scynthius



We are warriors three.

Sons of Gama, Rex.

Like most sons are we,

Masculine in sex.

All Three.

Yes, yes,

Masculine in sex.


Politics we bar,

They are not our bent;

On the whole we are

Not intelligent.

All Three.

No, no,

Not intelligent.



But with doughty heart,

And with trusty blade

We can play our part—

Fighting is our trade.

All Three.

Yes, yes,

Fighting is our trade.

All Three.

Bold, and fierce, and strong, ha! ha!

For a war we burn,

With its right or wrong, ha! ha!

We have no concern.

Order comes to fight, ha! ha!

Order is obeyed:

We are men of might ha! ha!

Fighting is our trade.


Fighting is our trade, ha! ha!

Fighting is our trade.


They are men of might, ha! ha!

Order comes to fight, ha! ha!

Order is obeyed, ha! ha!

Fighting is their trade!

Enter King Gama


If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am,

I’m a genuine philanthropist—all other kinds are sham.

Each little fault of temper and each social defect

In my erring fellow creatures, I endeavour to correct.

To all their little weaknesses I open people’s eyes

And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise:

I love my fellow creatures—I do all the good I can—

Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man!

And I can’t think why!

To compliments inflated I’ve a withering reply,

And vanity I always do my best to mortify;


A charitable action I can skilfully dissect;

And interested motives I’m delighted to detect;

I know everybody’s income and what everybody earns;

And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns;

But to benefit humanity however much I plan,

Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man!

And I can’t think why!

I’m sure I’m no ascetic; I’m as pleasant as can be;

You’ll always find me ready with a crushing repartee;

I’ve an irritating chuckle, I’ve a celebrated sneer,

I’ve an entertaining snigger, I’ve a fascinating leer.

To everybody’s prejudice I know a thing or two;

I can tell a woman’s age in half a minute—and I do.

But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,

Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man!

And I can’t think why!


So this is Castle Hildebrand? Well, well!

Dame Rumour whispered that the place was grand:

She told me that your taste was exquisite,

Superb, unparalleled!

Hild. Gratified.

Oh, really, king!


But she’s a liar! Why, how old you’ve grown!

Is this Hilarion? Why, you’ve changed too—

You were a singularly handsome child!

To Florian.

Are you a courtier? Come then, ply your trade,

Tell me some lies. How do you like your king?

Vile rumour says he’s all but imbecile.

Now, that’s not true?


My lord, we love our king,

His wise remarks are valued by his court

As precious stones.


And for the self-same cause,

Like precious stones, his sensible remarks

Derive their value from their scarcity!

Come now, be honest, tell the truth for once!

Tell it of me. Come, come, I’ll harm you not.

This leg is crooked—this foot is ill-designed—

This shoulder wears a hump! Come, out with it!


Look, here’s my face! Now, am I not the worst

Of Nature’s blunders?

Guards and ladies draw back from King Gama as he sings

“I can tell a woman’s age in half a minute—and I do”

(P. 106)


Nature never errs.

To those who know the workings of your mind,

Your face and figure, sir, suggest a book

Appropriately bound.

Gama. Enraged.

Why, harkye, sir,

How dare you bandy words with me?


No need,

To bandy aught that appertains to you.

Gama. Furiously.

Do you permit this, king?


We are in doubt

Whether to treat you as an honoured guest,

Or as a traitor knave who plights his word,

And breaks it.

Gama. Quickly.

If the casting vote’s with me,

I give it for the former!


We shall see.

By the terms of our contract, signed and sealed,

You’re bound to bring the Princess here to-day:

Why is she not with you?


Answer me this:

What think you of a wealthy purse-proud man,

Who, when he calls upon a starving friend,

Pulls out his gold and flourishes his notes,

And flashes diamonds in the pauper’s eyes?

What name have you for such a one?


A snob.


Just so. The girl has beauty, virtue, wit,

Grace, humour, wisdom, charity, and pluck.

Would it be kindly, think you, to parade

These brilliant qualities before your eyes?

Oh no, King Hildebrand, I am no snob!

Hild. Furiously.

Stop that tongue,

Or you shall lose the monkey head that holds it!


Bravo! your king deprives me of my head,

That he and I may meet on equal terms!


Where is she now?


In Castle Adamant,


One of my many country houses.

She rules a woman’s University,

With full a hundred girls, who learn of her.


A hundred girls! A hundred ecstacies!


But no mere girls, my good young gentleman!

With all the college learning that you boast,

The youngest there will prove a match for you.


With all my heart, if she’s the prettiest!

To Flo.

Fancy, a hundred matches—all alight!—

That’s if I strike them as I hope to do!


Despair your hope; their hearts are dead to men.

He who desires to gain their favour must

Be qualified to strike their teeming brains,

And not their hearts. They’re safety matches, sir,

And they light only on the knowledge box—

So you’ve no chance!


Are there no males whatever in those walls?


None, gentlemen, excepting letter mails—

And they are driven (as males often are

In other large communities) by women.

Why, bless my heart, she’s so particular

She’ll scarcely suffer Dr. Watts’s hymns—

And all the animals she owns are “hers”!

The ladies rise at cockcrow every morn—


Ah, then they have male poultry?

Gama. Confidentially.

Not at all,

The crowing’s done by an accomplished hen!



Perhaps if you address the lady

Most politely, most politely—

Flatter and impress the lady,

Most politely, most politely—

Humbly beg and humbly sue—

She may deign to look on you,

But your doing you must do

Most politely, most politely!


Humbly beg and humbly sue, etc.



Go you, and inform the lady,

Most politely, most politely,

If she don’t, we’ll storm the lady,

Most politely, most politely!

To Gama.

You’ll remain as hostage here:

Should Hilarion disappear,

We will hang you, never fear,

Most politely, most politely!


He’ll I’ll You’ll remain as hostage here, etc.

Gama, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are marched off in custody, Hildebrand following.



Come, Cyril, Florian, our course is plain—

To-morrow morn fair Ida we’ll engage;

But we will use no force her love to gain,

Nature has armed us for the war we wage!



Expressive glances

Shall be our lances,

And pops of Sillery

Our light artillery.

We’ll storm their bowers

With scented showers

Of fairest flowers

That we can buy!


Oh dainty triolet!

Oh fragrant violet!

Oh gentle heigho-let

(Or little sigh)

On sweet urbanity,

Though mere inanity,

To touch their vanity

We will rely!



When day is fading,

With serenading

And such frivolity

We’ll prove our quality.

A sweet profusion

Of soft allusion

This bold intrusion

Shall justify.


Oh dainty triolet, etc.


We’ll charm their senses

With verbal fences,

With ballads amatory

And declamatory.

And little heeding

Their pretty pleading

Our love exceeding

We’ll justify!


Oh dainty triolet, etc.

Re-enter Gama, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius heavily ironed



Must we, till then, in prison cell be thrust?


You must!


This seems unnecessarily severe!

Arac, Guron, and Scynthius.

Hear, hear!

Trio—Arac, Guron, and Scynthius

For a month to dwell

In a dungeon cell;

Growing thin and wizen

In a solitary prison,

Is a poor look out

For a soldier stout,


Who is longing for the rattle

Of a complicated battle—

For the rum-tum-tum

Of the military drum,

And the guns that go boom! boom!


Boom! boom! boom! boom!


Boom! boom!


When Hilarion’s bride

Has at length complied

With the just conditions

Of our requisitions,

You may go in haste

And indulge your taste

For the fascinating rattle

Of a complicated battle—

For the rum-tum-tum,

Of the military drum,

And the guns that go boom! boom!


Boom-boom, etc.


But till that time we’ll you’ll here remain,

And bail they we will not entertain,

Should she his our mandate disobey,

Our Your lives the penalty will pay!

Gama, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are marched off.

End of Act I

men in armor and handcuffs, flanked by much smaller guards

“Must we, till then, in prison cell be thrust?”

(P. 110)



Gardens in Castle Adamant. A river runs across the back of the stage, crossed by a rustic bridge. Castle Adamant in the distance.

Girl graduates discovered seated at the feet of Lady Psyche.


Towards the empyrean heights

Of every kind of lore,

We’ve taken several easy flights,

And mean to take some more.

In trying to achieve success

No envy racks our heart,

And all the knowledge we possess,

We mutually impart.



Pray what authors should she read

Who in Classics would succeed?


If you’d cross the Helicon,

You should read Anacreon,

Ovid’s Metamorphoses,

Likewise Aristophanes,

And the works of Juvenal:

These are worth attention, all;

But, if you will be advised,

You will get them Bowdlerized!


Yes, we’ll do as we’re advised,

We will get them Bowdlerized!




Pray you tell us, if you can,

What’s the thing that’s known as Man?


Man will swear and Man will storm—

Man is not at all good form—

Man is of no kind of use—

Man’s a donkey—Man’s a goose—

Man is coarse and Man is plain—

Man is more or less insane—

Man’s a ribald, Man’s a rake,

Man is Nature’s sole mistake!


We’ll a memorandum make—

Man is Nature’s sole mistake!

And thus to empyrean height

Of every kind of lore,

In search of wisdom’s pure delight,

Ambitiously we soar.

In trying to achieve success

No envy racks our heart,

For all we know and all we guess,

We mutually impart!

Enter Lady Blanche. All stand up demurely


Attention, ladies, while I read to you

The Princess Ida’s list of punishments.

The first is Sacharissa. She’s expelled!




Expelled, because although she knew

No man of any kind may pass our walls,

She dared to bring a set of chessmen here!

Sach. Crying.

I meant no harm; they’re only men of wood!


They’re men with whom you give each other mate,

And that’s enough! The next is Chloe.




Chloe will lose three terms, for yesterday,


When looking through her drawing-book, I found

A sketch of a perambulator!

All. Horrified.



Double perambulator, shameless girl!

That’s all at present. Now, attention, pray!

Your Principal the Princess comes to give

Her usual inaugural address

To those young ladies who joined yesterday.

Enter the Princess


Mighty maiden with a mission!

Paragon of common sense!

Running fount of erudition!

Miracle of eloquence!

We are blind, and we would see;

We are bound, and would be free;

We are dumb, and we would talk;

We are lame, and we would walk.

Mighty maiden with a mission!

Paragon of common sense!

Running fount of erudition!

Miracle of eloquence!

Prin. Recit.

Minerva! hear me:


At this my call,

A fervent few

Have come to woo

The rays that from thee fall.

Oh, goddess wise

That lovest light,

Endow with sight

Their unillumined eyes.

Let fervent words and fervent thoughts be mine,

That I may lead them to thy sacred shrine!


Women of Adamant, fair Neophytes—

Who thirst for such instruction as we give,

Attend, while I unfold a parable.

The elephant is mightier than Man,

Yet Man subdues him. Why? The elephant

Is elephantine everywhere but here tapping her forehead,

And Man, whose brain is to the elephant’s

As Woman’s brain to Man’s—(that’s rule of three)—

Conquers the foolish giant of the woods,

As Woman, in her turn, shall conquer Man.

In Mathematics, Woman leads the way—

The narrow-minded pedant still believes

That two and two make four! Why we can prove,

We women—household drudges as we are—

That two and two make five—or three—or seven;

Or five and twenty, if the case demands!

Diplomacy? The wiliest diplomat

Is absolutely helpless in our hands;

He wheedles monarchs—woman wheedles him!

Logic? Why, tyrant Man himself admits

It’s waste of time to argue with a woman!

Then we excel in social qualities:

Though Man professes that he holds our sex

In utter scorn, I venture to believe

He’d rather spend the day with one of you,

Than with five hundred of his fellow men!

In all things we excel. Believing this,

A hundred maidens here have sworn to place

Their feet upon his neck. If we succeed,

We’ll treat him better than he treated us:

But if we fail, why then let hope fail too!

Let no one care a penny how she looks

Let red be worn with yellow—blue with green—

Crimson with scarlet—violet with blue!

Let all your things misfit, and you yourselves

At inconvenient moments come undone!

Let hair-pins lose their virtue: let the hook

Disdain the fascination of the eye—

The bashful button modestly evade


The soft embraces of the button-hole!

Let old associations all dissolve,

Let Swan secede from Edgar—Cask from Gask,

Sewell from Cross—Lewis from Allenby!

In other words—let Chaos come again!

Coming down.

Who lectures in the Hall of Arts to-day?


I, madam, on Abstract Philosophy.

There I propose considering, at length,

Three points—The Is, the Might Be, and the Must.

Whether the Is, from being actual fact,

Is more important than the vague Might Be;

Or the Might Be, from taking wider scope,

Is for that reason greater than the Is;

And lastly, how the Is and Might Be stand

Compared with the inevitable Must!


The subject’s deep—how do you treat it, pray?


Madam, I take three possibilities,

And strike a balance, then, between the three;

As thus: The Princess Ida Is our head,

The Lady Psyche Might Be—Lady Blanche,

Neglected Blanche, inevitably Must.

Given these three hypotheses—to find

The actual betting against each of them!


Your theme’s ambitious: pray you bear in mind

Who highest soar fall farthest. Fare you well,

You and your pupils! Maidens, follow me.

Exeunt Princess and Maidens singing refrain of chorus, “And thus to empyrean heights” etc. Manet Lady Blanche.


I should command here—I was born to rule,

But do I rule? I don’t. Why? I don’t know.

I shall some day. Not yet. I bide my time.

I once was Some One—and the Was Will Be.

The Present as we speak becomes the Past,

The Past repeats itself, and so is Future!

This sounds involved. It’s not. It’s right enough.




Come, mighty Must!

Inevitable Shall!

In thee I trust.

Time weaves my coronal!

Go, mocking Is!

Go, disappointing Was!

That I am this

Ye are the cursed cause!

Yet humble second shall be first,

I ween;

And dead and buried be the curst

Has Been!

Oh weak Might Be!

Oh May, Might, Could, Would, Should!

How powerless ye

For evil or for good!

In every sense

Your moods I cheerless call,

Whate’er your tense

Ye are Imperfect, all!

Ye have deceived the trust that I’ve shown

In ye!

Away! The Mighty Must alone

Shall be!

Exit Lady Blanche.

Enter Hilarion, Cyril and Florian, climbing over wall, and creeping cautiously among the trees and rocks at the back of the stage

Trio—Hilarion, Cyril, Florian

Gently, gently,


We are safe so far,

After scaling

Fence and paling,

Here, at last, we are!


In this college

Useful knowledge

Everywhere one finds,

And already

Growing steady,

We’ve enlarged our minds.


We’ve learnt that prickly cactus

Has the power to attract us

When we fall.


When we fall!


That nothing man unsettles

Like a bed of stinging nettles,

Short or tall.


Short or tall!


That bull-dogs feed on throttles—

That we don’t like broken bottles

On a wall—


On a wall.


That spring-guns breathe defiance!

And that burglary’s a science

After all!


After all.



A Woman’s college! maddest folly going!

What can girls learn within its walls worth knowing?

I’ll lay a crown (the Princess shall decide it)

I’ll teach them twice as much in half an hour outside it!


Hush, scoffer; ere you sound your puny thunder,

List to their aims, and bow your head in wonder!

They intend to send a wire

To the moon—to the moon;

And they’ll set the Thames on fire

Very soon—very soon;


Then they learn to make silk purses

With their rigs—with their rigs

From the ears of Lady Circe’s


And weazels at their slumbers

They trepan—they trepan;

To get sunbeams from cucumbers,

They’ve a plan—they’ve a plan.

They’ve a firmly rooted notion

They can cross the Polar Ocean,

And they’ll find Perpetual Motion,

If they can—if they can!

These are the phenomena

That every pretty domina

Hopes that we shall see

At this Universitee.


These are the phenomena

That every pretty domina

Hopes that we shall see

At this Universitee!


As for fashion, they forswear it,

So they say—so they say—

And the circle—they will square it

Some fine day—some fine day—

Then the little pigs they’re teaching

For to fly—for to fly;

And the niggers they’ll be bleaching,

By and bye—by and bye!

Each newly joined aspirant

To the clan—to the clan—

Must repudiate the tyrant

Known as Man—known as Man—

They mock at him and flout him,

For they do not care about him,

And they’re “going to do without him”

If they can—if they can!


These are the phenomena

That every pretty domina

Hopes that we shall see

At this Universitee!


These are the phenomena, etc.


So that’s the Princess Ida’s castle! Well,

They must be lovely girls, indeed, if it requires

Such walls as those to keep intruders off!


To keep men off is only half their charge,

And that the easier half. I much suspect

The object of these walls is not so much

To keep men off as keep the maidens in!


But what are these? Examining some Collegiate robes.

Hil. Looking at them.

Why, Academic robes,

Worn by the lady undergraduates,

When they matriculate. Let’s try them on. They do so.

Why, see—we’re covered to the very toes.

Three lovely lady undergraduates

Who, weary of the world and all its wooing—


And penitent for deeds there’s no undoing—


Looked at askance by well-conducted maids—


Seek sanctuary in these classic shades!



I am a maiden, cold and stately,

Heartless I, with a face divine.

What do I want with a heart, innately?

Every heart I meet is mine!


Haughty, humble, coy, or free,

Little care I what maid may be.

So that a maid is fair to see,

Every maid is the maid for me! Dance.


I am a maiden frank and simple,

Brimming with joyous roguery;

Merriment lurks in every dimple,

Nobody breaks more hearts than I!



Haughty, humble, coy, or free,

Little care I what maid may be.

So that a maid is fair to see,

Every maid is the maid for me! Dance.


I am a maiden coyly blushing,

Timid I as a startled hind;

Every suitor sets me flushing:

I am the maid that wins mankind!


Haughty, humble, coy, or free,

Little care I what maid may be.

So that a maid is fair to see,

Every maid is the maid for me!

tall stately young lady in robes, wearing a crown and reading a book

Enter the Princess, reading

(P. 121)

Enter the Princess reading. She does not see them


But who comes here? The Princess, as I live!

What shall we do?

Hil. Aside.

Why, we must brave it out!


Madam, accept our humblest reverence.

They bow, then suddenly recollecting themselves, curtsey.

Prin. Surprised.

We greet you, ladies. What would you with us?

Hil. Aside.

What shall I say? Aloud. We are three students ma’am,

Three well-born maids of liberal estate,

Who wish to join this University.

Hilarion and Florian curtsey again. Cyril bows extravagantly, then, being recalled to himself by Florian, curtseys.


If, as you say, you wish to join our ranks,

And will subscribe to all our rules, ’tis well.


To all your rules we cheerfully subscribe.


You say you’re noblewomen. Well, you’ll find

No sham degrees for noblewomen here.

You’ll find no sizars here, or servitors,


Or other cruel distinctions, meant to draw

A line ’twixt rich and poor: you’ll find no tufts

To mark nobility, except such tufts

As indicate nobility of brain.

As for your fellow-students, mark me well:

There are a hundred maids within these walls,

All good, all learned, and all beautiful.

They are prepared to love you: will you swear

To give the fulness of your love to them?


Upon our words and honours, ma’am, we will!


But we go further: will you undertake

That you will never marry any man?


Indeed we never will!


Consider well,

You must prefer our maids to all mankind!


To all mankind we much prefer your maids!


We should be dolts indeed, if we did not,

Seeing how fair—

Hil. Aside to Cyril.

Take care—that’s rather strong!


But have you left no lovers at your home

Who may pursue you here?


No, madam, none.

We’re homely ladies, as no doubt you see,

And we have never fished for lover’s love.

We smile at girls who deck themselves with gems,

False hair, and meretricious ornament,

To chain the fleeting fancy of a man,

But do not imitate them. What we have

Of hair, is all our own. Our colour, too,

Unladylike, but not unwomanly,

Is Nature’s handiwork, and man has learnt

To reckon Nature an impertinence.


Well, beauty counts for naught within these walls;

If all you say is true, you’ll spend with us

A happy, happy time!


If, as you say,

A hundred lovely maidens wait within,

To welcome us with smiles and open arms,

I think there’s very little doubt we shall!


Quartette—Princess, Hilarion, Cyril, Florian


The world is but a broken toy,

Its pleasure hollow—false its joy,

Unreal its loveliest hue


Its pains alone are true,


Its pains alone are true.


The world is everything you say,

The world we think has had its day,

Its merriment is slow,


We’ve tried it, and we know,


We’ve tried it, and we know.



The world is but a broken toy,

Its pleasures hollow—false its joy,

Unreal its loveliest hue,


Its pains alone are true,


Its pains alone are true!

Hil., Cyr., Flo.

The world is but a broken toy,

We freely give it up with joy,

Unreal its loveliest hue,


We quite agree with you,


We quite agree with you!

Exit Princess. The three gentlemen watch her off. Lady Psyche enters, and regards them with amazement


I’faith, the plunge is taken, gentlemen!

For, willy-nilly, we are maidens now,

And maids against our will we must remain!

All laugh heartily.

Psy. Aside.

These ladies are unseemly in their mirth.

The gentlemen see her, and, in confusion, resume their modest demeanour.

Flo. Aside.

Here’s a catastrophe, Hilarion!

This is my sister! She’ll remember me,

Though years have passed since she and I have met!


Hil. Aside to Florian.

Then make a virtue of necessity,

And trust our secret to her gentle care.

Flo. To Psyche, who has watched Cyril in amazement.


Why, don’t you know me? Florian!

Psy. Amazed.

Why, Florian!


My sister! Embraces her.


Oh, my dear!

What are you doing here—and who are these?


I am that Prince Hilarion to whom

Your Princess is betrothed. I come to claim

Her plighted love. Your brother Florian

And Cyril, come to see me safely through.


The Prince Hilarion? Cyril too? How strange!

My earliest playfellows!


Why, let me look!

Are you that learned little Psyche, who

At school alarmed her mates because she called

A buttercup “ranunculus bulbosus?”


Are you indeed that Lady Psyche, who

At children’s parties drove the conjuror wild,

Explaining all his tricks before he did them?


Are you that learned little Psyche, who

At dinner parties, brought into dessert,

Would tackle visitors with “You don’t know

Who first determined longitude—I do—

Hipparchus ’twas—B.C. one sixty-three!”

Are you indeed that small phenomenon?


That small phenomenon indeed am I!

But, gentlemen, ’tis death to enter here:

We have all promised to renounce mankind!


Renounce mankind? On what ground do you base

This senseless resolution?


Senseless? No.

We are all taught, and, being taught, believe

That Man, sprung from an Ape, is Ape at heart.


That’s rather strong.


The truth is always strong.



The Ape and the Lady


A Lady fair, of lineage high,

Was loved by an Ape, in the days gone by—

The Maid was radiant as the sun,

The Ape was a most unsightly one.

So it would not do;

His scheme fell through,

For the Maid, when his love took formal shape,

Expressed such terror

At his monstrous error,

That he stammered an apology and made his ’scape,

The picture of a disconcerted Ape.

With a view to rise in the social scale,

He shaved his bristles, and he docked his tail,

He grew moustachios, and he took his tub,

And he paid a guinea to a toilet club—

But it would not do,

The scheme fell through—

For the Maid was Beauty’s fairest Queen,

With golden tresses,

Like a real princess’s,

While the Ape, despite his razor keen,

Was the apiest Ape that ever was seen!

He bought white ties, and he bought dress suits,

He crammed his feet into bright tight boots—

And to start in life on a bran new plan,

He christened himself Darwinian Man!

But it would not do,

The scheme fell through

For the Maiden fair, whom the Monkey craved,

Was a radiant Being,

With a brain far-seeing

While a Man, however well-behaved,

At best is only a monkey shaved!

During this Melissa has entered unobserved: she looks on in amazement.


Mel. Coming down.

Oh, Lady Psyche!

Psy. Terrified.

What! you heard us then?

Oh, all is lost!


Not so! I’ll breathe no word!

Advancing in astonishment to Florian.

How marvellously strange! and are you then

Indeed young men?


Well, yes, just now we are—

But hope by dint of study to become,

In course of time, young women.

Mel. Eagerly.

No, no, no—

Oh don’t do that! Is this indeed a man?

I’ve often heard of them, but, till to-day,

Never set eyes on one. They told me men

Were hideous, idiotic and deformed!

They’re quite as beautiful as women are!

As beautiful. They’re infinitely more so!

Their cheeks have not that pulpy softness which

One gets so weary of in womankind:

Their features are more marked—and—oh their chins!

How curious! Feeling his chin.


I fear it’s rather rough.

Mel. Eagerly.

Oh don’t apologize—I like it so!



The woman of the wisest wit

May sometimes be mistaken, O!

In Ida’s views, I must admit,

My faith is somewhat shaken, O!


On every other point than this,

Her learning is unshaken, O!

But man’s a theme with which she is

Entirely unacquainted, O!

—acquainted, O!

—acquainted, O!

Entirely unacquainted, O!


Then jump for joy and gaily bound,

The truth is found—the truth is found


Set bells a-ringing through the air—

Ring here and there and everywhere—

And echo forth the joyous sound,

The truth is found—the truth is found! Dance.


My natural instinct teaches me

(And instinct is important, O!)

You’re everything you ought to be,

And nothing that you oughtn’t, O!


That fact was seen at once by you

In casual conversation, O!

Which is most creditable to

Your powers of observation, O!

—servation, O!

—servation, O!

Your powers of observation, O!


Then jump for joy, etc.

Exeunt Psyche, Hilarion, Cyril and Florian. Melissa going.

Enter Lady Blanche



Mel. Returning.



Here—a word with you.

Those are the three new students?

Mel. Confused.

Yes, they are.

They’re charming girls.


Particularly so.

So graceful, and so very womanly!

So skilled in all a girl’s accomplishments!

Mel. Confused.

Yes—very skilled.


They sing so nicely too!


They do sing nicely!


Humph! It’s very odd.

One is a tenor, two are baritones!

Mel. Much agitated.

They’ve all got colds!


Colds! Bah! D’ye think I’m blind?

These “girls” are men disguised!



Oh no—indeed!

You wrong these gentlemen—I mean—why see,

Here is an étui dropped by one of them

Picking up an étui.

Containing scissors, needles and—

Bla. Opening it.


Why these are men! And you knew this, you minx.


Oh spare them—they are gentlemen indeed.

The Prince Hilarion (married years ago

To Princess Ida) with two trusted friends!

Consider, mother, he’s her husband now,

And has been, twenty years! Consider too,

You’re only second here—you should be first.

Assist the Prince’s plan, and when he gains

The Princess Ida, why, you will be first.

You will design the fashions—think of that—

And always serve out all the punishments!

The scheme is harmless, mother—wink at it!

Bla. Aside.

The prospect’s tempting! Well, well, well, I’ll try—

Though I’ve not winked at anything for years!

’Tis but one step towards my destiny—

The mighty Must! the inevitable Shall!



Now wouldn’t you like to rule the roast,

And guide this University?


I must agree

’Twould pleasant be.

(Sing hey a Proper Pride!)


And wouldn’t you like to clear the coast

Of malice and asperity?


Without a doubt

I’ll bundle ’em out,

Sing hey, when I preside!



Sing, hoity, toity! Sorry for some!

Marry come up and my her day will come!

Sing Proper Pride

Is the horse to ride,

And Happy-go-lucky, my Lady, O!


For years I’ve writhed beneath her sneers,

Although a born Plantagenet!


You’re much too meek,

Or you would speak.

(Sing hey, I’ll say no more!)


Her elder I, by several years,

Although you’d never imagine it.


Sing, so I’ve heard

But never a word

Have I ever believed before!


Sing, hoity, toity! Sorry for some!

Marry come up, my her day will come!

Sing, she shall learn

That a worm will turn.

Sing Happy-go-lucky, my Lady, O!

Exit Lady Blanche.


Saved for a time, at least!

Enter Florian, on tiptoe

Flo. Whispering.



Oh, sir! you must away from this at once—

My mother guessed your sex! It was my fault—

I blushed and stammered so that she exclaimed,

“Can these be men?” Then, seeing this, “Why these——”

“Are men,” she would have added, but “are men

Stuck in her throat! She keeps your secret, sir,

For reasons of her own—but fly from this

And take me with you—that is—no—not that!



I’ll go, but not without you! Bell. Why, what’s that?


The luncheon bell.


I’ll wait for luncheon then!

two young women with loose hair, dressed in skins, bearing food and drink

Enter the “Daughters of the Plough,” bearing Luncheon

(P. 130)

Enter Hilarion with Princess, Cyril with Psyche, Lady Blanche and Ladies. Also “Daughters of the Plough” bearing luncheon, which they spread on the rocks


Merrily ring the luncheon bell!

Here in meadow of asphodel,

Feast we body and mind as well,

So merrily ring the luncheon bell!



Hunger, I beg to state,

Is highly indelicate,

This is a fact profoundly true

So learn your appetites to subdue.


Yes, yes,

We’ll learn our appetites to subdue.


Cyr. Eating.

Madam, your words so wise,

Nobody should despise,

Cursed with an appetite keen I am,

And I’ll subdue it—

And I’ll subdue it—

And I’ll subdue it with cold roast lamb!



We’ll subdue it with cold roast lamb!


Merrily ring, etc.


You say you know the court of Hildebrand?

There is a Prince there—I forget his name—




Exactly—is he well?



If it be well to droop and pine and mope,

To sigh “Oh, Ida! Ida!” all day long,

“Ida! my love! my life! Oh come to me!”

If it be well, I say, to do all this,

Then Prince Hilarion is very well.


He breathes our name? Well, it’s a common one!

And is the booby comely?


Pretty well.

I’ve heard it said that if I dressed myself

In Prince Hilarion’s clothes (supposing this

Consisted with my maiden modesty),

I might be taken for Hilarion’s self.

But what is this to you or me, who think

Of all mankind with undisguised contempt?


Contempt? Why, damsel, when I think of man,

Contempt is not the word!

Cyr. Getting tipsy.

I’m sure of that,

Or if it is, it surely should not be!

Hil. Aside to Cyril.

Be quiet, idiot, or they’ll find us out.


The Prince Hilarion’s a goodly lad!


You know him then?

Cyr. Tipsily.

I rather think I do!

We are inseparables!


Why, what’s this?

You love him then?


We do indeed—all three!


Madam, she jests! Aside to Cyril. Remember where you are!


Jests? Not at all! Why, bless my heart alive,

You and Hilarion, when at the Court,

Rode the same horse!

Prin. Horrified.



Of course! Why not?

Wore the same clothes—and once or twice, I think,

Got tipsy in the same good company!


Well, these are nice young ladies, on my word!

Cyr. Tipsy.

Don’t you remember that old kissing-song

He’d sing to blushing Mistress Lalage,

The hostess of the Pigeons? Thus it ran:



During symphony Hilarion and Florian try to stop Cyril. He shakes them off angrily.


Would you know the kind of maid

Sets my heart aflame-a?

Eyes must be downcast and staid,

Cheeks must flush for shame-a!

She may neither dance nor sing,

But, demure in everything,

Hang her head in modest way,

With pouting lips that seem to say

“Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,

Though I die of shame-a!”

Please you, that’s the kind of maid

Sets my heart aflame-a!

When a maid is bold and gay

With a tongue goes clang-a,

Flaunting it in brave array,

Maiden may go hang-a!

Sunflower gay and hollyhock

Never shall my garden stock;

Mine the blushing rose of May,

With pouting lips that seem to say,

“Oh, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,

Though I die for shame-a!”

Please you that’s the kind of maid

Sets my heart aflame-a!


Infamous creature, get you hence away!

Hilarion, who has been with difficulty restrained by Florian during this song, breaks from him and strikes Cyril furiously on the breast.


Dog! there is something more to sing about!

Cyr. Sobered.

Hilarion, are you mad?

Prin. Horrified.

Hilarion? Help!

Why these are men! Lost! lost! betrayed! undone!

Running on to bridge.


Girls, get you hence! Man-monsters, if you dare

Approach one step, I—— Ah!

Loses her balance, and falls into the stream.


Oh! save her, sir!


It’s useless, sir,—you’ll only meet your death!

Hilarion springs in.


He catches her!


And now he lets her go!

Again she’s in his grasp!


And now she’s not!

He seizes her back hair!

Bla. Not looking.

And it comes off!


No! no! She’s saved!—she’s saved!—she’s saved!—she’s saved!

Hilarion is seen swimming with Princess in one arm. The Princess and he are brought to land.


Chorus of Ladies

Oh! joy, our chief is saved,

And by Hilarion’s hand;

The torrent fierce he braved,

And brought her safe to land!

For his intrusion we must own

This doughty deed may well atone!


Stand forth ye three,

Whoe’er ye be,

And hearken to our stern decree!


Hil., Cyr., and Flo.

Have mercy, lady—disregard your oaths!


I know not mercy, men in women’s clothes!

The man whose sacrilegious eyes

Invade our strict seclusion, dies.

Arrest these coarse intruding spies!

They are arrested by the “Daughters of the Plough”

Flo., Cyr., and Ladies.

Have mercy, lady—disregard your oaths!


I know not mercy, men in women’s clothes!

Cyril and Florian are bound.




Whom thou hast chained must wear his chain,

Thou canst not set him free,

He wrestles with his bonds in vain

Who lives by loving thee!

If heart of stone for heart of fire,

Be all thou hast to give,

If dead to me my heart’s desire,

Why should I wish to live?

No word of thine—no stern command

Can teach my heart to rove,

Then rather perish by thy hand,

Than live without thy love!

A loveless life apart from thee

Were hopeless slavery,

If kindly death will set me free,

Why should I fear to die?

He is bound by two of the attendants, and the three gentlemen are marched off.

Enter Melissa


Madam, without the castle walls

An armed band

Demand admittance to our halls

For Hildebrand!


Oh horror!


Deny them!

We will defy them!


Too late—too late!

The castle gate

Is battered by them!

The gate yields. Hildebrand and Soldiers rush in. Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are with them, but with their hands handcuffed.

young ladies retreat from advance of armored men with long lances

The Gate yields. Hildebrand and Soldiers rush in

(P. 134)

All. Soldiers and Ladies.

Too late—too late!

The castle gate

Is battered by them!




Rend the air with wailing,

Shed the shameful tear!

Walls are unavailing,

Man has entered here!

Shame and desecration

Are his staunch allies,

Let your lamentation

Echo to the skies!


Walls and fences scaling,

Promptly we appear;

Walls are unavailing,

We have entered here.

Female execration

Stifle if you’re wise,

Stop your lamentation,

Dry your pretty eyes!



Audacious tyrant, do you dare

To beard a maiden in her lair?


Since you enquire,

We’ve no desire

To beard a maiden here, or anywhere!


No no—we’ve no desire

To beard a maiden here, or anywhere!



Some years ago

No doubt you know

(And if you don’t I’ll tell you so)

You gave your troth

Upon your oath

To Hilarion my son.

A vow you make

You must not break,

(If you think you may, it’s a great mistake,)

For a bride’s a bride

Though the knot were tied

At the early age of one!

And I’m a peppery kind of King,

Who’s indisposed for parleying,

To fit the wit of a bit of a chit,

And that’s the long and the short of it!


For he’s a peppery kind of King, etc.



If you decide

To pocket your pride

And let Hilarion claim his bride,

Why, well and good,

It’s understood

We’ll let bygones go by—

But if you choose

To sulk in the blues,

I’ll make the whole of you shake in your shoes!

I’ll storm your walls,

And level your halls,

In the twinkling of an eye!

For I’m a peppery Potentate,

Who’s little inclined his claim to bate,

To fit the wit of a bit of a chit,

And that’s the long and the short of it!

Trio—Arac, Guron, and Scynthius

We may remark, though nothing can

Dismay us,

That if you thwart this gentleman,

He’ll slay us.

We don’t fear death, of course—we’re taught

To shame it;

But still upon the whole we thought

We’d name it.

To each other.

Yes, yes, better perhaps to name it.

Our interests we would not press

With chatter,

Three hulking brothers more or less

Don’t matter;

If you’d pooh-pooh this monarch’s plan,

Pooh-pooh it,

But when he says he’ll hang a man,

He’ll do it.

To each other.

Yes, yes, devil doubt he’ll do it.


Prin. Recit.

Be reassured, nor fear his anger blind,

His menaces are idle as the wind.

He dares not kill you—vengeance lurks behind!

Ar., Gur., Scyn.

We rather think he dares, but never mind!

No, no,—never, never mind!


Enough of parley—as a special boon—

We give you till to-morrow afternoon;

Release Hilarion, then, and be his bride,

Or you’ll incur the guilt of fratricide!



To yield at once to such a foe

With shame were rife;

So quick! away with him, although

He saved my life!

That he is fair, and strong, and tall

Is very evident to all,

Yet I will die before I call

Myself his wife!

The Others

Oh! yield at once, ’twere better so

Than risk a strife!

And let the Prince Hilarion go—

He saved thy life!

Hilarion’s fair, and strong, and tall—

A worse misfortune might befall—

It’s not so dreadful, after all,

To be his wife!



Though I am but a girl,

Defiance thus I hurl,

Our banners all

On outer wall

We fearlessly unfurl.


Though she is but a girl, etc.


That he is fair, etc.

The Others

Hilarion’s fair, etc.

The Princess stands C., surrounded by girls kneeling. The King and soldiers stand on built rocks at back and sides of stage. Picture.


End of Act II

Princess Ida advances on armed king

“Though I am but a girl,
Defiance thus I hurl”

(P. 137)



Scene.—Outer Walls and Courtyard of Castle Adamant. Melissa, Sacharissa and ladies discovered, dressed in chain mail and armed with battle-axes.


Death to the invader!

Strike a deadly blow,

As an old Crusader

Struck his Paynim foe!

Let our martial thunder

Fill his soul with wonder,

Tear his ranks asunder,

Lay the tyrant low!



Thus our courage, all untarnished,

We’re instructed to display:

But to tell the truth unvarnished,

We are more inclined to say,

“Please you, do not hurt us.”


“Do not hurt us, if it please you!”


“Please you, let us be.”


“Let us be—let us be!”


“Soldiers disconcert us.”


“Disconcert us, if it please you!”


“Frightened maids are we.”


“Maids are we—maids are we!”


But ’twould be an error

To confess our terror,

So, in Ida’s name,

Boldly we exclaim:



Death to the invader

Strike a deadly blow—

As an old Crusader

Struck his Paynim foe!

Let our martial thunder

Fill his soul with wonder—

Tear his ranks asunder

Lay the tyrant low!

Flourish. Enter Princess, armed, attended by Blanche and Psyche


I like your spirit, girls! We have to meet

Stern bearded warriors in fight to-day:

Wear naught but what is necessary to

Preserve your dignity before their eyes,

And give your limbs full play.


One moment, ma’am.

Here is a paradox we should not pass

Without enquiry. We are prone to say

“This thing is Needful—that, Superfluous,”—

Yet they invariably co-exist!

We find the Needful comprehended in

The circle of the grand Superfluous,

Yet the Superfluous cannot be bought

Unless you’re amply furnished with the Needful.

These singular considerations are—


Superfluous, yet not Needful—so you see

The terms may independently exist.

To Ladies.

Women of Adamant, we have to show

That Woman, educated to the task,

Can meet Man, face to face, on his own ground,

And beat him there. Now let us set to work;

Where is our lady surgeon?


Madam, here!


We shall require your skill to heal the wounds

Of those that fall.


Sac. Alarmed.

What, heal the wounded?




And cut off real live legs and arms?


Of course!


I wouldn’t do it for a thousand pounds!


Why, how is this? Are you faint-hearted, girl?

You’ve often cut them off in theory!


In theory I’ll cut them off again

With pleasure, and as often as you like,

But not in practice.


Coward! get you hence,

I’ve craft enough for that, and courage too.

I’ll do your work! My fusiliers, advance,

Why, you are armed with axes! Gilded toys!

Where are your rifles, pray?


Why, please you, ma’am,

We left them in the armoury, for fear

That in the heat and turmoil of the fight,

They might go off!


“They might!” Oh, craven souls!

Go off yourselves! Thank heaven, I have a heart

That quails not at the thought of meeting men;

I will discharge your rifles! Off with you!

Where’s my bandmistress?


Please you, ma’am, the band

Do not feel well, and can’t come out to-day!

ladies in helmets looking up at one with a sword

“Where are your rifles, pray?”

(P. 140)


Why, this is flat rebellion! I’ve no time

To talk to them just now. But, happily,

I can play several instruments at once,

And I will drown the shrieks of those that fall

With trumpet music, such as soldiers love!

How stand we with respect to gunpowder?

My Lady Psyche—you who superintend

Our lab’ratory—are you well prepared

To blow these bearded rascals into shreds?


Why, madam—




Let us try gentler means.

We can dispense with fulminating grains


While we have eyes with which to flash our rage;

We can dispense with villainous saltpetre

While we have tongues with which to blow them up;

We can dispense, in short, with all the arts

That brutalize the practical polemist!

Prin. Contemptuously.

I never knew a more dispensing chemist!

Away, away—I’ll meet these men alone

Since all my women have deserted me!

Exeunt all but Princess, singing refrain of “Death to the Invader,” pianissimo.


So fail my cherished plans—so fails my faith—

And with it hope, and all that comes of hope!



I built upon a rock,

But ere Destruction’s hand

Dealt equal lot

To Court and cot,

My rock had turned to sand!

Ah, faithless rock,

My simple faith to mock!

I leant upon an oak.

But in the hour of need,


My trusted stay

Was but a bruisèd reed!

Ah, trait’rous oak

Thy worthlessness to cloke!

I drew a sword of steel,

But when to home and hearth

The battle’s breath

Bore fire and death,

My sword was but a lath!

Ah, coward steel,

That fear can unanneal!

She sinks on a bank.


Enter Chloe and all the ladies


Madam, your father and your brothers claim

An audience!


What do they do here?


They come

To fight for you!


Admit them!



One’s brothers, ma’am, are men!


So I have heard,

But all my women seem to fail me when

I need them most. In this emergency,

Even one’s brothers may be turned to use.

Enter Gama, quite pale and unnerved


My daughter!


Father! thou art free!


Aye, free!

Free as a tethered ass! I come to thee

With words from Hildebrand. Those duly given,

I must return to black captivity.

I’m free so far.


Your message.



Is loth to war with women. Pit my sons,

My three brave sons, against these popinjays,

These tufted jack-a-dandy featherheads,

And on the issue let thy hand depend!


Insult on insult’s head! Are we a stake

For fighting men? What fiend possesses thee

That thou hast come with offers such as these

From such as he to such an one as I?


I am possessed

By the pale devil of a shaking heart!

My stubborn will is bent. I dare not face

That devilish monarch’s black malignity!

He tortures me with torments worse than death,


I haven’t anything to grumble at!

He finds out what particular meats I love,

And gives me them. The very choicest wines,

The costliest robes—the richest rooms are mine:

He suffers none to thwart my simplest plan,

And gives strict orders none should contradict me!

He’s made my life a curse! Weeps.


My tortured father!



Whene’er I spoke

Sarcastic joke

Replete with malice spiteful,

This people mild

Politely smiled,

And voted me delightful!

Now when a wight

Sits up all night

Ill-natured jokes devising,

And all his wiles

Are met with smiles,

It’s hard, there’s no disguising!

Oh, don’t the days seem lank and long

When all goes right and nothing goes wrong;

And isn’t your life extremely flat

With nothing whatever to grumble at!

When German bands

From music stands

Played Wagner imperfectly—

I bade them go—

They didn’t say no,

But off they went directly!

The organ boys

They stopped their noise

With readiness surprising,

And grinning herds

Of hurdy-gurds

Retired apologizing!

Oh, don’t the days seem lank and long, etc.


I offered gold

In sums untold

To all who’d contradict me—

I said I’d pay

A pound a day

To any one who kicked me—

I bribed with toys

Great vulgar boys

To utter something spiteful,

But, bless you, no!

They would be so

Confoundedly politeful!

In short, these aggravating lads

They tickle my tastes, they feed my fads,

They give me this and they give me that,

And I’ve nothing whatever to grumble at!

He bursts into tears, and falls sobbing on a bank.


My poor old father! How he must have suffered!

Well, well, I yield!

Gama. Hysterically.

She yields! I’m saved, I’m saved!


Open the gates—admit these warriors,

Then get you all within the castle walls.

The gates are opened, and the girls mount the battlements as Hildebrand enters with soldiers. Also Arac, Guron, and Scynthius.

Chorus of Soldiers

When anger spreads his wing,

And all seems dark as night for it,

There’s nothing but to fight for it,

But ere you pitch your ring,

Select a pretty site for it,

(This spot is suited quite for it)

And then you gaily sing,

“Oh, I love the jolly rattle

Of an ordeal by battle,

There’s an end of tittle, tattle,

When your enemy is dead.


It’s an arrant molley coddle,

Fears a crack upon the noddle,

And he’s only fit to swaddle,

In a downy feather-bed!—


For a fight’s a kind of thing

That I love to look upon,

So let us sing,

Long live the King,

And his son Hilarion!

During this, Hilarion, Florian, and Cyril are brought out by the “Daughters of the Plough.” They are still bound and wear the robes.


Hilarion! Cyril! Florian! dressed as women!

Is this indeed Hilarion?


Yes it is!


Why, you look handsome in your women’s clothes!

Stick to ’em! men’s attire becomes you not!

To Cyril and Florian.

And you, young ladies, will you please to pray

King Hildebrand to set me free again?

Hang on his neck and gaze into his eyes,

He never could resist a pretty face!


You dog, you’ll find though I wear woman’s garb,

My sword is long and sharp!


Hush, pretty one!

Here’s a virago! Here’s a termagant!

If length and sharpness go for anything,

You’ll want no sword while you can wag your tongue!


What need to waste your words on such as he?

He’s old and crippled.


Aye, but I’ve three sons,

Fine fellows, young, and muscular, and brave.

They’re well worth talking to! Come, what d’ye say?


Aye, pretty ones, engage yourselves with us,

If three rude warriors affright you not!


Old as you are I’d wring your shrivelled neck

If you were not the Princess Ida’s father.



If I were not the Princess Ida’s father,

And so had not her brothers for my sons,

No doubt you’d wring my neck—in safety too!

Come, come, Hilarion, begin, begin!

Give them no quarter—they will give you none.

You’ve this advantage over warriors,

Who kill their country’s enemies for pay,—

You know what you are fighting for—look there!

Pointing to Ladies on the battlements.



This helmet, I suppose,

Was meant to ward off blows,

It’s very hot,

And weighs a lot,

As many a guardsman knows,

So off that helmet goes.

The Three Knights.

Yes, Yes,

So off that helmet goes! Giving their helmets to attendants.


This tight-fitting cuirass

Is but a useless mass,

It’s made of steel,

And weighs a deal,

A man is but an ass

Who fights in a cuirass,

So off goes that cuirass.

All Three.

Yes, yes,

So off goes that cuirass! Removing cuirasses.


These brassets, truth to tell,

May look uncommon well,

But in a fight

They’re much too tight,

They’re like a lobster shell!

All Three.

Yes, yes,

They’re like a lobster shell. Removing their brassets.



These things I treat the same, Indicating leg pieces.

(I quite forget their name)

They turn one’s legs

To cribbage pegs—

Their aid I thus disclaim,

Though I forget their name—

All Three.

Yes, yes,

Though we forget their name,

Their aid we thus disclaim!

They remove their leg pieces and wear close fitting shape suits.

Desperate fight between the three Princes and the three Knights during which the ladies on the battlements and the soldiers on the stage sing the following chorus:

This is our duty plain towards

Our Princess all immaculate.

We ought to bless her brothers’ swords,

And piously ejaculate:

Oh, Hungary!

Oh, Hungary!

Oh, doughty sons of Hungary!

May all success

Attend and bless

Your warlike ironmongery!

By this time Arac, Guron, and Scynthius are on the ground, wounded—Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian stand over them.

Prin. Entering through gate and followed by Ladies.

Hold! stay your hands!—we yield ourselves to you!

Ladies, my brothers all lie bleeding there!

Bind up their wounds—but look the other way.

Coming down.

Is this the end? Bitterly to Lady Blanche. How say you, Lady Blanche—

Can I with dignity my post resign?

And if I do, will you then take my place?


To answer this, it’s meet that we consult

The great Potential Mysteries; I mean

The five Subjunctive Possibilities—

The May, the Might, the Would, the Could, the Should.


Can you resign? The prince Might claim you; if

He Might, you Could—and if you Should, I Would!


I thought as much! Then, to my fate I yield—

So ends my cherished scheme! Oh, I had hoped

To band all women with my maiden throng,

And make them all abjure tyrannic Man!


A noble aim!


You ridicule it now;

But if I carried out this glorious scheme,

At my exalted name Posterity

Would bow in gratitude!


But pray reflect—

If you enlist all women in your cause,

And make them all abjure tyrannic Man,

The obvious question then arises, “How

Is this Posterity to be provided?”


I never thought of that! My Lady Blanche,

How do you solve the riddle?


Don’t ask me—

Abstract Philosophy won’t answer it.

Take him—he is your Shall. Give in to Fate!


And you desert me. I alone am staunch!


Madam, you placed your trust in Woman—well,

Woman has failed you utterly—try Man,

Give him one chance, it’s only fair—besides,

Women are far too precious, too divine

To try unproven theories upon.

Experiments, the proverb says, are made

On humble subjects—try our grosser clay,

And mould it as you will!


Remember, too,

Dear Madam, if at any time you feel

A-weary of the Prince, you can return

To Castle Adamant, and rule your girls

As heretofore, you know.


And shall I find

The Lady Psyche here?


If Cyril, ma’am,

Does not behave himself, I think you will.



And you, Melissa, shall I find you here?


Madam, however Florian turns out,

Unhesitatingly I answer, No!


Consider this, my love, if your mama

Had looked on matters from your point of view

(I wish she had), why where would you have been?


There’s an unbounded field of speculation,

On which I could discourse for hours!


No doubt!

We will not trouble you. Hilarion,

I have been wrong—I see my error now.

Take me, Hilarion—“We will walk the world

Yoked in all exercise of noble end!

And so through those dark gates across the wild

That no man knows! Indeed, I love thee—Come!”



With joy abiding,

Together gliding

Through life’s variety,

In sweet society,

And thus enthroning

The love I’m owning,

On this atoning

I will rely!


It were profanity

For poor humanity

To treat as vanity

The sway of Love.

In no locality

Or principality

Is our mortality

Its sway above!


When day is fading,

With serenading

And such frivolity

Of tender quality—


With scented showers

Of fairest flowers,

The happy hours

Will gaily fly!


It were profanity, etc.


Notes and Corrections: Princess Ida

Princess Ida is based on Tennyson’s The Princess. You can read the whole thing at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive or, if you prefer page images, the Internet Archive.

If you’re having trouble keeping the names straight, note that “Hilarion” (the son) is abbreviated Hil., while “Hildebrand” (the father) is Hild.

Formalities: In the List of Illustrations, the second set of page numbers is from the single-title edition. The title page, including date, is from the same source.

Act One

Oh dainty triolet
[Surely one of the Top Ten Prettiest Melodies ever composed by Arthur Sullivan, if not Top Five. Top Three, anyone? He must have thought so himself, as it reappears in the finale (below).]

Act Two

You will get them Bowdlerized!
[Fun fact: When the German universities first started admitting women—around the time of this play, give or take a decade—they were only allowed to study the sciences. Literature, particularly the classics, wasn’t considered suitable for the gently nurtured female brain.]

The first is Sacharissa. She’s expelled!
[The authors promptly forget this detail, as Sacharissa shows up several more times in the course of the play. Her name is, however, truncated from Sach. in Act Two to Sac. in Act Three, so there’s that.]

At this my call . . . Oh goddess wise
[In the vocal score, the order of this section is: Oh goddess (4 lines), At this (4 lines), Oh goddess (4 lines again).]

Let Swan secede from Edgar—Cask from Gask, / Sewell from Cross—Lewis from Allenby
[As far as I can make out, all four firms—including Sewell & Cross, who also got a mention in Patience—have long since gone out of business. Oh well.]

Lost! lost! betrayed! undone!
final ! missing or invisible

Act Three

(And you thought that the blank verse was the only distinctive feature of Princess Ida.)

Thy worthlessness to cloke!
spelling unchanged

“Oh, I love the jolly rattle
No close quote, either in the present text or the libretto, and I couldn’t figure out where it should go.

vocal score of “Oh dainty triolet”

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.