Oscar Wilde.

Lady Windermere's Fan online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's Fan → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Transcribed from the 1917 Methuen & Co. Ltd edition by David Price, email
[email protected]





LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN


A PLAY
ABOUT A GOOD WOMAN

BY

OSCAR WILDE

* * * * *

METHUEN & CO. LTD.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
LONDON

_Sixteenth Edition_

_First Published_ _1893_
_First Issued by Methuen & Co. Ltd._ (_Limited Editions on _1908_
Hand-made Paper and Japanese Vellum_) _February_
_Third Edition_ (_F’cap_ 8_vo_, 5_s._ _net_) _September_ _1909_
_Fourth Edition_ (5_s._ _net_) _June_ _1910_
_Fifth Edition_ (_F’cap_ 8_vo_, 1_s._ _net_) _November 3rd_ _1911_
_Sixth Edition_ (1_s._ _net_) _November_ _1911_
_Eighth Edition_ (1_s._ _net_) _1912_, _Ninth and Tenth
Editions_ (1_s._ _net_) _1913_, _Eleventh Edition_ (1_s._
_net_) _1914_, _Twelfth Edition_ (1_s._ _net_) _1915_,
_Thirteenth Edition_ (1_s._ _net_) _1916_, _Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Edition_ (1_s._ _net_) _1917_
_Sixteenth Edition_ (5_s._ _net_) _1917_

_The literary and dramatic rights of_ “_Lady Windermere’s Fan_” _belong
to Sir George Alexander_, _by arrangement with whom this play is included
in this edition_. _The acting version_ (_Samuel French_) _does not
contain the complete text_.

* * * * *

TO
THE DEAR MEMORY
OF
ROBERT EARL OF LYTTON
IN AFFECTION
AND
ADMIRATION

* * * * *




THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY


Lord Windermere

Lord Darlington

Lord Augustus Lorton

Mr. Dumby

Mr. Cecil Graham

Mr. Hopper

Parker, Butler

* * * * *

Lady Windermere

The Duchess of Berwick

Lady Agatha Carlisle

Lady Plymdale

Lady Stutfield

Lady Jedburgh

Mrs. Cowper-Cowper

Mrs. Erlynne

Rosalie, Maid




THE SCENES OF THE PLAY

ACT I. _Morning-room in Lord Windermere’s
house_.
ACT II. _Drawing-room in Lord Windermere’s
house_.
ACT III. _Lord Darlington’s rooms_.
ACT IV. _Same as Act I._
TIME: _The Present_.
PLACE: _London_.

_The action of the play takes place within twenty-four hours_, _beginning
on a Tuesday afternoon at five o’clock_, _and ending the next day at_
1.30 _p.m._




LONDON: ST. JAMES’S THEATRE


_Lessee and Manager_: _Mr. George Alexander_
_February_ 22_nd_, 1892.

LORD WINDERMERE _Mr. George Alexander_.
LORD DARLINGTON _Mr. Nutcombe Gould_.
LORD AUGUSTUS LORTON _Mr. H. H. Vincent_.
MR. CECIL GRAHAM _Mr. Ben Webster_.
MR. DUMBY _Mr. Vane-Tempest_.
MR. HOPPER _Mr. Alfred Holles_.
PARKER (_Butler_) _Mr. V. Sansbury_.
LADY WINDERMERE _Miss Lily Hanbury_.
THE DUCHESS OF BERWICK _Miss Fanny Coleman_.
LADY AGATHA CARLISLE _Miss Laura Graves_.
LADY PLYMDALE _Miss Granville_.
LADY JEDBURGH _Miss B. Page_.
LADY STUTFIELD _Miss Madge Girdlestone_.
MRS. COWPER-COWPER _Miss A. de Winton_.
MRS. ERLYNNE _Miss Marion Terry_.
ROSALIE (_Maid_) _Miss Winifred Dolan_.




FIRST ACT


SCENE

_Morning-room of Lord Windermere’s house in Carlton House Terrace_.
_Doors C. and R. Bureau with books and papers R._ _Sofa with small
tea-table L._ _Window opening on to terrace L._ _Table R._

[LADY WINDERMERE _is at table R._, _arranging roses in a blue bowl_.]

[_Enter_ PARKER.]

PARKER. Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?

LADY WINDERMERE. Yes—who has called?

PARKER. Lord Darlington, my lady.

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Hesitates for a moment_.] Show him up—and I’m at
home to any one who calls.

PARKER. Yes, my lady.

[_Exit C._]

LADY WINDERMERE. It’s best for me to see him before to-night. I’m glad
he’s come.

[_Enter_ PARKER _C._]

PARKER. Lord Darlington,

[_Enter_ LORD DARLINGTON _C._]

[_Exit_ PARKER.]

LORD DARLINGTON. How do you do, Lady Windermere?

LADY WINDERMERE. How do you do, Lord Darlington? No, I can’t shake
hands with you. My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren’t they
lovely? They came up from Selby this morning.

LORD DARLINGTON. They are quite perfect. [_Sees a fan lying on the
table_.] And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?

LADY WINDERMERE. Do. Pretty, isn’t it! It’s got my name on it, and
everything. I have only just seen it myself. It’s my husband’s birthday
present to me. You know to-day is my birthday?

LORD DARLINGTON. No? Is it really?

LADY WINDERMERE. Yes, I’m of age to-day. Quite an important day in my
life, isn’t it? That is why I am giving this party to-night. Do sit
down. [_Still arranging flowers_.]

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Sitting down_.] I wish I had known it was your
birthday, Lady Windermere. I would have covered the whole street in
front of your house with flowers for you to walk on. They are made for
you.

[_A short pause_.]

LADY WINDERMERE. Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the
Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

LORD DARLINGTON. I, Lady Windermere?

[_Enter_ PARKER _and_ FOOTMAN _C._, _with tray and tea things_.]

LADY WINDERMERE. Put it there, Parker. That will do. [_Wipes her hands
with her pocket-handkerchief_, _goes to tea-table_, _and sits down_.]
Won’t you come over, Lord Darlington?

[_Exit_ PARKER _C._]

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Takes chair and goes across L.C._] I am quite
miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did. [_Sits down at
table L._]

LADY WINDERMERE. Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the
whole evening.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Smiling_.] Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up,
that the only pleasant things to pay _are_ compliments. They’re the only
things we _can_ pay.

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Shaking her head_.] No, I am talking very seriously.
You mustn’t laugh, I am quite serious. I don’t like compliments, and I
don’t see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when
he says to her a whole heap of things that he doesn’t mean.

LORD DARLINGTON. Ah, but I did mean them. [_Takes tea which she offers
him_.]

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Gravely_.] I hope not. I should be sorry to have to
quarrel with you, Lord Darlington. I like you very much, you know that.
But I shouldn’t like you at all if I thought you were what most other men
are. Believe me, you are better than most other men, and I sometimes
think you pretend to be worse.

LORD DARLINGTON. We all have our little vanities, Lady Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE. Why do you make that your special one? [_Still seated
at table L._]

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Still seated L.C._] Oh, nowadays so many conceited
people go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows
rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides,
there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you
very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the
astounding stupidity of optimism.

LADY WINDERMERE. Don’t you _want_ the world to take you seriously then,
Lord Darlington?

LORD DARLINGTON. No, not the world. Who are the people the world takes
seriously? All the dull people one can think of, from the Bishops down
to the bores. I should like _you_ to take me very seriously, Lady
Windermere, _you_ more than any one else in life.

LADY WINDERMERE. Why—why me?

LORD DARLINGTON. [_After a slight hesitation_.] Because I think we
might be great friends. Let us be great friends. You may want a friend
some day.

LADY WINDERMERE. Why do you say that?

LORD DARLINGTON. Oh!—we all want friends at times.

LADY WINDERMERE. I think we’re very good friends already, Lord
Darlington. We can always remain so as long as you don’t—

LORD DARLINGTON. Don’t what?

LADY WINDERMERE. Don’t spoil it by saying extravagant silly things to
me. You think I am a Puritan, I suppose? Well, I have something of the
Puritan in me. I was brought up like that. I am glad of it. My mother
died when I was a mere child. I lived always with Lady Julia, my
father’s elder sister, you know. She was stern to me, but she taught me
what the world is forgetting, the difference that there is between what
is right and what is wrong. _She_ allowed of no compromise. _I_ allow
of none.

LORD DARLINGTON. My dear Lady Windermere!

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Leaning back on the sofa_.] You look on me as being
behind the age.—Well, I am! I should be sorry to be on the same level as
an age like this.

LORD DARLINGTON. You think the age very bad?

LADY WINDERMERE. Yes. Nowadays people seem to look on life as a
speculation. It is not a speculation. It is a sacrament. Its ideal is
Love. Its purification is sacrifice.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Smiling_.] Oh, anything is better than being
sacrificed!

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Leaning forward_.] Don’t say that.

LORD DARLINGTON. I do say it. I feel it—I know it.

[_Enter_ PARKER _C._]

PARKER. The men want to know if they are to put the carpets on the
terrace for to-night, my lady?

LADY WINDERMERE. You don’t think it will rain, Lord Darlington, do you?

LORD DARLINGTON. I won’t hear of its raining on your birthday!

LADY WINDERMERE. Tell them to do it at once, Parker.

[_Exit_ PARKER _C._]

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Still seated_.] Do you think then—of course I am
only putting an imaginary instance—do you think that in the case of a
young married couple, say about two years married, if the husband
suddenly becomes the intimate friend of a woman of—well, more than
doubtful character—is always calling upon her, lunching with her, and
probably paying her bills—do you think that the wife should not console
herself?

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Frowning_.] Console herself?

LORD DARLINGTON. Yes, I think she should—I think she has the right.

LADY WINDERMERE. Because the husband is vile—should the wife be vile
also?

LORD DARLINGTON. Vileness is a terrible word, Lady Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE. It is a terrible thing, Lord Darlington.

LORD DARLINGTON. Do you know I am afraid that good people do a great
deal of harm in this world. Certainly the greatest harm they do is that
they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to
divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
I take the side of the charming, and you, Lady Windermere, can’t help
belonging to them.

LADY WINDERMERE. Now, Lord Darlington. [_Rising and crossing R._,
_front of him_.] Don’t stir, I am merely going to finish my flowers.
[_Goes to table R.C._]

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Rising and moving chair_.] And I must say I think
you are very hard on modern life, Lady Windermere. Of course there is
much against it, I admit. Most women, for instance, nowadays, are rather
mercenary.

LADY WINDERMERE. Don’t talk about such people.

LORD DARLINGTON. Well then, setting aside mercenary people, who, of
course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have
committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Standing at table_.] I think they should never be
forgiven.

LORD DARLINGTON. And men? Do you think that there should be the same
laws for men as there are for women?

LADY WINDERMERE. Certainly!

LORD DARLINGTON. I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these
hard and fast rules.

LADY WINDERMERE. If we had ‘these hard and fast rules,’ we should find
life much more simple.

LORD DARLINGTON. You allow of no exceptions?

LADY WINDERMERE. None!

LORD DARLINGTON. Ah, what a fascinating Puritan you are, Lady
Windermere!

LADY WINDERMERE. The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington.

LORD DARLINGTON. I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except
temptation.

LADY WINDERMERE. You have the modern affectation of weakness.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Looking at her_.] It’s only an affectation, Lady
Windermere.

[_Enter_ PARKER _C._]

PARKER. The Duchess of Berwick and Lady Agatha Carlisle.

[_Enter the_ DUCHESS OF BERWICK and LADY AGATHA CARLISLE _C._]

[_Exit_ PARKER _C._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [_Coming down C._, _and shaking hands_.] Dear
Margaret, I am so pleased to see you. You remember Agatha, don’t you?
[_Crossing L.C._] How do you do, Lord Darlington? I won’t let you know
my daughter, you are far too wicked.

LORD DARLINGTON. Don’t say that, Duchess. As a wicked man I am a
complete failure. Why, there are lots of people who say I have never
really done anything wrong in the whole course of my life. Of course
they only say it behind my back.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Isn’t he dreadful? Agatha, this is Lord Darlington.
Mind you don’t believe a word he says. [LORD DARLINGTON _crosses R.C._]
No, no tea, thank you, dear. [_Crosses and sits on sofa_.] We have just
had tea at Lady Markby’s. Such bad tea, too. It was quite undrinkable.
I wasn’t at all surprised. Her own son-in-law supplies it. Agatha is
looking forward so much to your ball to-night, dear Margaret.

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Seated L.C._] Oh, you mustn’t think it is going to
be a ball, Duchess. It is only a dance in honour of my birthday. A
small and early.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Standing L.C._] Very small, very early, and very
select, Duchess.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [_On sofa L._] Of course it’s going to be select.
But we know _that_, dear Margaret, about _your_ house. It is really one
of the few houses in London where I can take Agatha, and where I feel
perfectly secure about dear Berwick. I don’t know what society is coming
to. The most dreadful people seem to go everywhere. They certainly come
to my parties—the men get quite furious if one doesn’t ask them. Really,
some one should make a stand against it.

LADY WINDERMERE. _I_ will, Duchess. I will have no one in my house
about whom there is any scandal.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_R.C._] Oh, don’t say that, Lady Windermere. I
should never be admitted! [_Sitting_.]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Oh, men don’t matter. With women it is different.
We’re good. Some of us are, at least. But we are positively getting
elbowed into the corner. Our husbands would really forget our existence
if we didn’t nag at them from time to time, just to remind them that we
have a perfect legal right to do so.

LORD DARLINGTON. It’s a curious thing, Duchess, about the game of
marriage—a game, by the way, that is going out of fashion—the wives hold
all the honours, and invariably lose the odd trick.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. The odd trick? Is that the husband, Lord
Darlington?

LORD DARLINGTON. It would be rather a good name for the modern husband.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Dear Lord Darlington, how thoroughly depraved you
are!

LADY WINDERMERE. Lord Darlington is trivial.

LORD DARLINGTON. Ah, don’t say that, Lady Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE. Why do you _talk_ so trivially about life, then?

LORD DARLINGTON. Because I think that life is far too important a thing
ever to talk seriously about it. [_Moves up C._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. What does he mean? Do, as a concession to my poor
wits, Lord Darlington, just explain to me what you really mean.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Coming down back of table_.] I think I had better
not, Duchess. Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out. Good-bye!
[_Shakes hands with_ DUCHESS.] And now—[_goes up stage_] Lady
Windermere, good-bye. I may come to-night, mayn’t I? Do let me come.

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Standing up stage with_ LORD DARLINGTON.] Yes,
certainly. But you are not to say foolish, insincere things to people.

LORD DARLINGTON. [_Smiling_.] Ah! you are beginning to reform me. It
is a dangerous thing to reform any one, Lady Windermere. [_Bows_, _and
exit C._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [_Who has risen_, _goes C._] What a charming,
wicked creature! I like him so much. I’m quite delighted he’s gone!
How sweet you’re looking! Where _do_ you get your gowns? And now I must
tell you how sorry I am for you, dear Margaret. [_Crosses to sofa and
sits with_ LADY WINDERMERE.] Agatha, darling!

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma. [_Rises_.]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Will you go and look over the photograph album that
I see there?

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma. [_Goes to table up L._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Dear girl! She is so fond of photographs of
Switzerland. Such a pure taste, I think. But I really am so sorry for
you, Margaret.

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Smiling_.] Why, Duchess?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Oh, on account of that horrid woman. She dresses so
well, too, which makes it much worse, sets such a dreadful example.
Augustus—you know my disreputable brother—such a trial to us all—well,
Augustus is completely infatuated about her. It is quite scandalous, for
she is absolutely inadmissible into society. Many a woman has a past,
but I am told that she has at least a dozen, and that they all fit.

LADY WINDERMERE. Whom are you talking about, Duchess?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. About Mrs. Erlynne.

LADY WINDERMERE. Mrs. Erlynne? I never heard of her, Duchess. And what
_has_ she to do with me?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. My poor child! Agatha, darling!

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Will you go out on the terrace and look at the
sunset?

LADY AGATHA. Yes, mamma.

[_Exit through window_, _L._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Sweet girl! So devoted to sunsets! Shows such
refinement of feeling, does it not? After all, there is nothing like
Nature, is there?

LADY WINDERMERE. But what is it, Duchess? Why do you talk to me about
this person?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Don’t you really know? I assure you we’re all so
distressed about it. Only last night at dear Lady Jansen’s every one was
saying how extraordinary it was that, of all men in London, Windermere
should behave in such a way.

LADY WINDERMERE. My husband—what has _he_ got to do with any woman of
that kind?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Ah, what indeed, dear? That is the point. He goes
to see her continually, and stops for hours at a time, and while he is
there she is not at home to any one. Not that many ladies call on her,
dear, but she has a great many disreputable men friends—my own brother
particularly, as I told you—and that is what makes it so dreadful about
Windermere. We looked upon _him_ as being such a model husband, but I am
afraid there is no doubt about it. My dear nieces—you know the Saville
girls, don’t you?—such nice domestic creatures—plain, dreadfully plain,
but so good—well, they’re always at the window doing fancy work, and
making ugly things for the poor, which I think so useful of them in these
dreadful socialistic days, and this terrible woman has taken a house in
Curzon Street, right opposite them—such a respectable street, too! I
don’t know what we’re coming to! And they tell me that Windermere goes
there four and five times a week—they _see_ him. They can’t help it—and
although they never talk scandal, they—well, of course—they remark on it
to every one. And the worst of it all is that I have been told that this
woman has got a great deal of money out of somebody, for it seems that
she came to London six months ago without anything at all to speak of,
and now she has this charming house in Mayfair, drives her ponies in the
Park every afternoon and all—well, all—since she has known poor dear
Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE. Oh, I can’t believe it!

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. But it’s quite true, my dear. The whole of London
knows it. That is why I felt it was better to come and talk to you, and
advise you to take Windermere away at once to Homburg or to Aix, where
he’ll have something to amuse him, and where you can watch him all day
long. I assure you, my dear, that on several occasions after I was first
married, I had to pretend to be very ill, and was obliged to drink the
most unpleasant mineral waters, merely to get Berwick out of town. He
was so extremely susceptible. Though I am bound to say he never gave
away any large sums of money to anybody. He is far too high-principled
for that!

LADY WINDERMERE. [_Interrupting_.] Duchess, Duchess, it’s impossible!
[_Rising and crossing stage to C._] We are only married two years. Our
child is but six months old. [_Sits in chair R. of L. table_.]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Ah, the dear pretty baby! How is the little
darling? Is it a boy or a girl? I hope a girl—Ah, no, I remember it’s a
boy! I’m so sorry. Boys are so wicked. My boy is excessively immoral.
You wouldn’t believe at what hours he comes home. And he’s only left
Oxford a few months—I really don’t know what they teach them there.

LADY WINDERMERE. Are _all_ men bad?

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Oh, all of them, my dear, all of them, without any
exception. And they never grow any better. Men become old, but they
never become good.

LADY WINDERMERE. Windermere and I married for love.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Yes, we begin like that. It was only Berwick’s
brutal and incessant threats of suicide that made me accept him at all,
and before the year was out, he was running after all kinds of
petticoats, every colour, every shape, every material. In fact, before
the honeymoon was over, I caught him winking at my maid, a most pretty,
respectable girl. I dismissed her at once without a character.—No, I
remember I passed her on to my sister; poor dear Sir George is so
short-sighted, I thought it wouldn’t matter. But it did, though—it was
most unfortunate. [_Rises_.] And now, my dear child, I must go, as we
are dining out. And mind you don’t take this little aberration of
Windermere’s too much to heart. Just take him abroad, and he’ll come
back to you all right.

LADY WINDERMERE. Come back to me? [_C._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. [_L.C._] Yes, dear, these wicked women get our
husbands away from us, but they always come back, slightly damaged, of
course. And don’t make scenes, men hate them!

LADY WINDERMERE. It is very kind of you, Duchess, to come and tell me
all this. But I can’t believe that my husband is untrue to me.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Pretty child! I was like that once. Now I know
that all men are monsters. [LADY WINDERMERE _rings bell_.] The only
thing to do is to feed the wretches well. A good cook does wonders, and
that I know you have. My dear Margaret, you are not going to cry?

LADY WINDERMERE. You needn’t be afraid, Duchess, I never cry.

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. That’s quite right, dear. Crying is the refuge of
plain women but the ruin of pretty ones. Agatha, darling!

LADY AGATHA. [_Entering L._] Yes, mamma. [_Stands back of table L.C._]

DUCHESS OF BERWICK. Come and bid good-bye to Lady Windermere, and thank
her for your charming visit. [_Coming down again_.] And by the way, I
must thank you for sending a card to Mr. Hopper—he’s that rich young
Australian people are taking such notice of just at present. His father
made a great fortune by selling some kind of food in circular tins—most
palatable, I believe—I fancy it is the thing the servants always refuse
to eat. But the son is quite interesting. I think he’s attracted by
dear Agatha’s clever talk. Of course, we should be very sorry to lose
her, but I think that a mother who doesn’t part with a daughter every
season has no real affection. We’re coming to-night, dear. [PARKER


1 3 4 5

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's Fan → online text (page 1 of 5)