Princess Ida


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Dialogue following No. 26

Princess. (Entering through gate and followed by Ladies,
                                      Hildebrand, and Gama.)

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?
Princess Ida (Winifred Lawson) &
Lady Blanche (Bertha Lewis), 1926
Click on picture to enlarge
Blanche. 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 May claim you; if
He Might, you Could – and if you Should, I Would!
Princess. 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!
Hildebrand. A noble aim!        
Princess.   You ridicule it now;    
  But if I carried out this glorious scheme,
At my exalted name Posterity
Would bow in gratitude!
Hildebrand.     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?'
Princess. I never thought of that! My Lady Blanche,
How do you solve the riddle?
Blanche.     Don't ask me –    
  Abstract Philosophy won't answer it.
Take him – he is your Shall. Give in to Fate!
Princess Ida (Winifred Lawson) & Hilarion (Derek Oldham), 1921
Princess. And you desert me. I alone am staunch!
Hilarion. 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!
Cyril.     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.
Princess.     And shall I find
  The Lady Psyche here?  
Psyche.     If Cyril, ma'am,
  Does not behave himself, I think you will.
Princess. And you Melissa, shall I find you here?    
Melissa. Madam, however Florian turns out,
Unhesitatingly I answer, No!
Gama. 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?
Blanche. There's an unbounded field of speculation,
On which I could discourse for hours!
Princess.                No doubt!  
  We will not trouble you. Hilarion,
I have been wrong – I see my error now.
Take me, Hilarion – "We will walk this world
Yoked in all exercise of noble end!
And so through those dark gates across the wild
That no one knows!" Indeed, I love thee – Come!

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