The Princess


Original Plays, by W. S. Gilbert

SCENE FIFTH.--Inner Gate of Castle Adamant.

All the LADY STUDENTS discovered--the eight SERVANTS as Amazons--the thers all around. Flourish-Enter PRINCESS IDA, followed by LADY BLANCHE.

PRIN.Is all prepared for war? 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.
BLANCHEOne moment, ma'am,
Here is a paradox we should not pass
Without inquiry. 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;
While the Superfluous can not be bought
Unless you're amply furnished with the Needful.
These singular considerations are--
PRIN.Superfluous, yet not Needful--so, you see,
These terms may independently exist.
Women of Adamant, we have to show
These men how they have under-rated us.
Now is the time to prove our titles to
The highest honors they monopolize.
Now is the time to prove our theory
That woman, educated to the work,
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?
SACHA.Madam, here!
PRIN.We shall require your skill to heal the wounds
Of those that fall.
SACHA.What! heal the wounded?
SACHA.And cut off real live legs and arms?
PRIN.Of course!
SACHA.I wouldn't do it for a thousand pounds!
PRIN.Why, how is this? Are you faint-hearted, girl?
You've often cut them off in theory.
SACHA.In theory I'll cut them off again
With pleasure, and as often as you like--
But not in practice!
PRIN.Coward, get you hence!
I've craft enough for that, and courage too.
I'll do your work! My Amazons, advance!
Why, you are armed with spears--mere gilded toys!
Where are your muskets, pray?
ADAWhy, please you, ma'am,
We left them in the armory, for fear
That, in the heat and turmoil of the fight,
They might go off.
PRIN."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 muskets. Off with you!
Where's my bandmistress?
CHLOEPlease you, ma'am, the band
Do not feel well, and can't come out to-day!
PRIN.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
The lab'ratory, where your class compounds
That hideous chemical--are you prepared
To blow these bearded rascals to shreds?
PSYCHEWhy, madam--
PSYCHELet us try gentler means--
Treat them with the contempt that they deserve.
We can dispense with fulminating grains
While we have eyes with which to flash our rage.
We can dispense with villainous saltpeter,
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,
For all my women have deserted me!


MELISSAMadam, your brothers crave an audience.
PRIN.My brothers? Why, what do they here?
MELISSAThey come
To fight for you.
PRIN.Admit them.
One's brothers, ma'am, are men!
PRIN. So I have heard;
But all my women seem to fail me when
I need them most: in this perplexity
Even one's brothers may be turned to use.


ARACMy sisters!
PRIN.Arac, Guron, Scynthius, too!

(they embrace).

ARACWe have arranged that Prince Hilarion
And his two followers shall fight us here;
And if we fall, we've promised him your hand.
PRIN.(sighing). So be it, Arac; brothers though you be,
With all your faults you're brave, as brutes are brave.
So be it--fight them here, but (aside and bashfully) oh, my brother,
Kill whom you will, but spare Hilarion!
He saved my life!
MELISSA(aside to ARAC).Oh, save me Florian,
He is her brother! (indicating PSYCHE.)
PSYCHE(aside to ARAC).Oh, spare Cyril, sir,
You've no idea what jolly songs he sings!
ARACBah! I can spare them all--I want them not!
But here they come, stand back, the lists prepare--
Get you within those walls, poor trembling ones,
And see that no one interferes with us.

Enter HILARION, CYRIL, and FLORIAN, with KINGS GAMA and HILDEBRAND -- PRINCESS and LADIES retire within outer wall, and group themselves on battlements.

GAMACome boys, we've all prepared, begin! begin!
Why you lack mettle!--Gad, I'll spur you up!
(To ARAC) Look, Arac--there's the son of that vile king,
Who, when he held me as his prisoner,
Tormented me with tortures worse than death.
I hadn't any thing to grumble at!
He found out what particular meats I loved,
And gave me them--the very choicest wine--
The costliest robes--the richest rooms were mine.
He suffered none to thwart my simplest plan,
And gave strict orders none should contradict me.
He made my life a curse! Go in at them!
Avenge your father's wrongs! (To HILARION) And as for you--
(pointing to his sons) Here are three princes, sirs, who stand between
You and your happiness--so cut them down!
Give them no mercy, they will give you none.
Come, Prince Hilarion, begin, begin!
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 battlements.)
HILAR.Come on!
ARACCome on!
CYRILCome on!
SCYN.Come on!
FLORI.Come on!

(Desperate fight--at the end, HILARION, CYRIL, and FLORIAN wound ARAC, GURON, and SCYNTHIUS.

PRIN.(entering through gate). 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.
Is this the end? How say you, Lady Blanche--
Can I with dignity my post resign?
And if I do, will you then take my place?
BLANCHETo 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!
PRIN.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!
HILDE.A noble aim!
PRIN.You ridicule it now;
But if I carried out this glorious scheme,
At my exalted name Posterity
Would bow in gratitude!
HILDE.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?"
PRIN.I never thought of that! My Lady Blanche,
How do you solve the riddle?
BLANCHEDon't ask me--
Abstract Philosophy won't answer it.
Take him--he is your Shall. Give in to Fate!
PRIN.And you desert me? I alone am stanch!
HILAR.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 mold it as you will!
CYRILRemember, too,
Dear Madam, if at any time you feel
Aweary of the Prince, you can return
To Castle Adamant, and rule your girls
As heretofore, you know.
PRIN.And shall I find
The Lady Psyche here?
PSYCHEIf Cyril, ma'am,
Does not behave himself, I think you will.
PRIN.And you, Melissa, shall I find you here?
MELISSAMadam, however Florian turns out,
Unhesitatingly I answer, No.
GAMAConsider this, my love: if your mamma
Had looked on matters from your point of view
(I wish she had), why, where would you have been?
LADY B.There's an unbounded field of speculation,
On which I could discourse for hours!
PRIN.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!"
Finale, from "Le Pont des Soupirs."
CYRIL Singers know
How sweetly at a piano
A tenor and soprano
Together sound.
CHORUS.Singers know, &c.
HILAR.This will show
That men and women verily
Can get along more merrily
Together bound.
CHORUS This will show
That men and women verily
Can get along more merrily
Together bound!
Together bound!
Together bound!

SCENE FOURTH | Introduction

Last updated November 9, 1997