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Dialogue following No. 20
Enter Lords Mountararat and Tolloller.
Lord Mountararat. I am much distressed to see your Lordship in this condition.
Lord Chancellor. Ah, my Lords, it is seldom that a Lord Chancellor has reason to envy the position of another, but I am free to confess that I would rather be two Earls engaged to Phyllis than any other half-dozen noblemen upon the face of the globe.
Lord Tolloller. (without enthusiasm). Yes. It’s an enviable position when you’re the only one.
Lord Mountararat. Oh yes, no doubt – most enviable. At the same time, seeing you thus, we naturally say to ourselves, “This is very sad. His Lordship is constitutionally as blithe as a bird – he trills upon the bench like a thing of song and gladness. His series of judgements in F sharp minor, given andante in six-eight time, are among the most remarkable effects ever produced in a Court of Chancery. He is, perhaps, the only living instance of a judge whose decrees have received the honour of a double encore. How can we bring ourselves to do that which will deprive the Court of Chancery of one of its most attractive features?”
Lord Chancellor. I feel the force of your remarks, but I am here in two capacities, and they clash, my Lords, they clash! I deeply grieve to say that in declining to entertain my last application to myself, I presumed to address myself in terms which render it impossible for me ever to apply to myself again. It was a most painful scene, my Lords – most painful!
Lord Tolloller. This is what it is to have two capacities! Let us be thankful that we are persons of no capacity whatever.
Lord Mountararat. Come, come. Remember you are a very just and kindly old gentleman, and you need have no hesitation in approaching yourself, so that you do so respectfully and with a proper show of deference.
Lord Chancellor. Do you really think so?
Lord Mountararat. I do.
Lord Chancellor. Well, I will nerve myself to another effort, and, if that fails, I resign myself to my fate!
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