|GOBBO||More robes for undergraduates! I suppose|
Some students are expected here to-day.
No girl without a robe may pass those gates!
They are so proud of these here caps and gowns,
They hardly like to take 'em off a-night!
They even wear (or so I've heard it said)
Night-caps and night-gowns when they go to bed!
|[Exit into porter's lodge.|
|HILAR.||So, here's the Princess Ida's castle? Well,|
They must be lovely girls if it requires
Such walls as these to keep intruders off!
|CYRIL||To keep men off is only half their charge,|
And that the easier half. I must suspect
The object of these walls is not so much
To keep men off as keep the maidens in!
|HILAR.||Here lives the porter, Cyril. I'll be bound|
He's quite as learned as the rest of them,
Half Newton and half Bacon! Here he comes.
|CYRIL||Half Bacon? No,--all Bacon I should say!|
|GOBBO||Now then, what is it?|
|HILAR.||I'm a royal prince;|
These gentlemen are followers of mine;|
We hold King Gama's letters, charging you
To bear us safely to the Council Hall,
In which the Princess Ida holds her state.
|GOBBO||Ho! ho! ho! ho!|
|HILAR.||How now?--you mock at us? (Draws sword.)|
|GOBBO||Mock you? Why, bless your heart and soul alive,|
No man may place his foot within those walls;
It's death to disobey our Princess, sir!
|FLORI.||It's double death to disobey your king! (draws.)|
|CYRIL||It's treble death to disobey ourselves! (draws.)|
|GOBBO||But, sirs, I am the only man alive|
Who ever enters!
|GOBBO||Yes! Once a year|
I am led through their ranks that they may see|
What sort of thing's a man! "See here!" she cries.
"See--this is what you lose in losing man!
This is a courtly knight--well born, well formed!"
(I'm comely, sirs; but, bless you, I'm no knight!)
"Look, girls," she cries, "this is a courtly knight--
A type of all that's beautiful in man!"
(aloud) And then they make me gibber, squeak, and mow;
Then, with much deference and mock courtesy,
They bow me to my duty at the gate!
|FLOR.|| Are there no males whatever in those walls?|
|GOBBO||None, gentlemen, excepting letter mails!|
And they are driven (as males often are
In other large communities)--by women!
If you'll believe me, gentlemen, I swear,
She's so confoundedly particular,
She'll scarcely suffer Dr. Watts's hymns;
And all the animals she owns are "hers"!
The ladies rise at cockcrow every morn--
|HILAR.||Oh, then they have male poultry!|
|GOBBO||Not at all.|
(confidentially.) The crowing's done by an accomplished hen!|
|CYRIL||And what are these? (Looking at robes in lodge.)
|GOBBO||The academic robes,|
Worn by the lady undergraduates|
When they matriculate.
|HILAR.||I'll try one on. (Does so.)|
Why, see--I'm covered to the very toes!|
Ha! I've a proposition!
|FLORI.||State it then.|
|HILAR.||Suppose we dress ourselves as girls, and claim|
Admission to this University?
It is a thing we've often done at home
In amateur theatricals. You know
How well I play viragos in burlesque!
|FLORI.||My Cleopatra, too--remember that!|
|CYRIL||My Mrs. Bouncer, too, in 'Box and Cox'!|
|HILAR.||Wilt play the woman, then?|
|CYRIL||Of course! What knight|
Would hesitate to "take a woman's part" ?|
"Les Trois Cousines" (La Perichole ).
|FLORI.||If we are hailed with any query,
Say we are nice young ladies, three;|
Who of the world terribly weary,
Enter a University.
Such lovely girls, ha, ha, ha, ha!
|ALL||Such lovely girls, ha, ha, ha, ha!|
|CYRIL||We will declare to them that lately,|
We have been bored with suitors stately,
And we prefer young ladies greatly--
Sorry to say that that's too true!
|ALL||Sorry to say that that's too true!|
|HILAR.||We must take care when we are talking,|
Never our manly tastes to show;
Hold up our dresses thus in walking,
Showing an inch of ankle--so!
|ALL||Showing an inch of ankle--so!|
Such lovely girls, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Such lovely girls, ha, ha, ha, ha!
|GOBBO||(in terror). But, gentlemen, observe--if you do this,|
What's to become of me?
|HILAR.||I do not know|
What will become of you if we do this;|
But I can read the fate in store for you
If you presume to interfere with us.
Now, porter, say to whom we should apply
To gain admission.
|GOBBO||(in tears). Why, to Lady Blanche|
Or Lady Psyche.
|FLORI.||Which is prettier?|
|GOBBO||Well, I like Lady Blanche by far the best.|
|FLORI.||Then we declare for Lady Blanche at once.|
|GOBBO||You see, she's more my age--the other one.|
Is young and pretty! (contemptuously).
|CYRIL||Bah! Then I retract;|
We will be Psyche's interesting charge!|
So go and summon her. (GOBBO rings and then exit.)
|FLORI.||But stop a bit,|
What will your father think of such a scheme?|
|CYRIL||Oh, he be--dashed!|
|HILAR.||Extremely shocked I am!|
|CYRIL||I meant my sire--|
|HILAR.||I thought you meant your "dam"!|
|PSYCHE||Who summons us?|
|HILAR.||Three would-be students, ma'am--|
Three noble ladies, ma'am, of good estate,|
Who wish to join this University (they courtesy).
|PSYCHE||If, as you say, you wish to join our ranks,|
And will conform with all our rules, 'tis well;
But understand--you must adapt yourselves
To all the regulations now in force,
In Princess Ida's University.
|HILAR.||To all its rules, we cheerfully subscribe.|
|FLORI.||(aside to HILARION). Here's a catastrophe, Hilarion!|
This is my sister! She'll remember me,
Though years have passed since she and I have met!
|HILAR.||No matter, hide your face--she'll know you not.|
|PSYCHE||You say you're noblewomen--well, you'll find|
No sham degrees for noblewomen, here--
Or other cruel contrivances to draw
An arbitrary line 'twixt rich and poor,
No butteries, or other institutes,
To make poor students feed rich cooks--no tufts
To mark nobility; except such tufts
As indicate nobility of brain.
As to your fellow-students, mark me well--
There are five hundred maidens in these walls
All good, all learned, and all beautiful.
You must select your intimates from these;
They are prepared to love you; will you swear
You'll do your best to love them in return?
|FLORI.||Upon our words and honors, ma'am, we will!|
|PSYCHE||And will you swear that, if, by any chance,|
You're thrown into a man's society,
You'll not allow your thoughts to stray from us,
But, at the earliest opportunity,
You'll give up his society for ours?
|CYRIL|| All this, dear madam, cheerfully we swear.|
|PSYCHE||But we go further: will you undertake|
That you will never marry any man?
|FLORI.||Indeed we never will!|
You must prefer our maids to all mankind!|
|HILAR.||To all mankind we much prefer your maids!|
|CYRIL|| We should be dolts, indeed, if we did not,|
Seeing how fair----
|HILAR.||(aside to CYRIL). Take care, that's rather strong!|
(aloud) We have seen men of wealth--ay, princes too--
Whose beauty has been so remarkable,
That half the maidens in our monarch's court
Have pined away and died for love of them!
These men--Apollos in their manly grace,
Indeed in every thing (except in that
They wore a proper quantity of clothes)--
We think of with profound indifference,
But, when we see a woman who excels
In virtue, scholarship, and loveliness,
We long to lay our heads upon her breast,
And join our lives with hers!
|PSYCHE||Why, that's well said.|
But have you left no lovers at your home,|
Who may pursue you here?
|HILAR.||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 ornaments,
To chain the fleeting fancy of a man;
But do not imitate them. What we have
Of hair is all our own--our color, too,
Unladylike, but not unwomanly,
Is but the glow of rugged, boisterous health;
Our gait, untrammeled by the influence
Of high heeled boots, small waists, and Grecian bends,
May seem undignified--but then we walk
As Nature meant us to--and man has learnt
To reckon Nature an impertinence!
|PSYCHE||I know how coldly men regard a girl,|
Whose beauty is her poorest excellence;
But beauty goes for nothing in these walls.
You'll find yourselves appreciated here:
If what you say is true, you'll spend with us
A happy, happy time!
|CYRIL||If, as you say,|
Five hundred lovely maidens wait within|
To welcome us with smiles and open arms,
I think there's very little doubt we shall!
|[Exeunt into Castle.|
Last updated November 9, 1997