You are here: Archive Home > Gilbert > Short Stories > Ruy Blas

   
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive   Ruy Blas


A PREPOSTEROUS PIECE OF NONSENSE FOR PRIVATE REPRESENTATION.

WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY W.S. GILBERT.


This piece is also available as a PDF File [4.72MB]

ARGUMENT

DON SALLUST, a nobleman attached to the train of Maria, Queen of Spain, has been sentenced to banishment, in consequence of an intrigue which he has formed with one of the Queen's maids. Don Sallust determines to be revenged on the Queen, and, finding that a footman in his employ, one Ruy Blas, cherishes a mad love for her, he determines to dress him up in magnificent clothes, and pass him off as his cousin, Don Cæsar de Bazan. He does so – the fictitious Don Cæsar gains great favour at Court, and eventually rises to be Premier of Spain.

Don Cæsar, when he was only Ruy Blas, was in the habit of placing a bouquet, every morning in the Queen's bower, together with an anonymous letter, declaring his passion for her. Her curiosity was naturally excited, and on comparing the handwriting in the anonymous letter with that of Don Cæsar, she finds that the two are identical. Ruy declares his love to the Queen, and is on the point of marrying her, when Don Sallust (who has obtained admission to the palace in the disguise of a footman) appears, and produces a paper which he had made Ruy Blas sign before his promotion, and in which Ruy acknowledges his bondage to Don Sallust.

Ruy, in horror at the power which Sallust exercises over him by means of this paper, determines to leave the palace, take his own name, and seek a place as footman again. However, Don Sallust is a secret witness to a farewell scene between Ruy and the Queen, and then produces the paper, and explains to the Queen that the man whom she has loved is only a footman. Ruy, stung to madness by Sallust's taunts, challenges him. They fight – Sallust is killed, and the Queen, delighted with Ruy's behaviour on the occasion, offers him her hand, which he, of course, accepts.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

Don Sallust. An exiled Noble.

Gudiel (his Major Domo). A man with a good deal to look after, and who made yer at home, oh, when you came to stay with his master.

Ruy Blas. A Footman in the service of Don Sallust, a steady youth, though accustomed to live-awry, and one who never brought the red plush of shame to the cheek of modesty, because, of course, modesty has no cheek to bring it to. As we are about it, we may remark en passant that he is in love with the Queen of Spain. It's of no consequence, but we just mention it.

Don Diego. A scheming Noble, who only occupies the stage for a short wile.

Servant. A complicated character (from his last place), which will unravel itself in the course of the piece. We should like to tell you more about him, but if we did, the plot would lose all its interest.

Maria. Queen-elect of Spain. "A little less than Queen and more than kind," to Ruy, who is "a little more than King, but less than kind" to her. This sounds enigmatical — but wait, and you'll see.

Casilda. The original Maid of Honour. Her berth is Richmond, and unstained her crust. This sounds foolish, but it isn't.

The airs introduced into this burlesque were selected on account of their being for the most part old and hackneyed, and at the tip of everybody's tongue. They were chosen for the convenience of those rough and ready amateurs who get up a thing of the kind in a back drawing-room at two day's notice. Of course, if you are ambitious, and have plenty of time to do it in, you can " go in " for operatic and concerted pieces of a complicated description. Only, you will have to write your own words.


SCENE I

SCENE II

SCENE III

SCENE THE LAST


Page modified 10 August, 2011