Copyright
Bernard Shaw.

The philanderer: a topical comedy online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryBernard ShawThe philanderer: a topical comedy → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The Dramatic Works o

Bernard [Sttaw.^.-'N^ii;;
The Philanderer. A

Topical Comedy



PRICE

i/6 ;

NET




<fr*>7 vf 0W



THE PHILANDERER



The Philanderer: A Topi-
cal Comedy. By ISerngrd
Shaw.



Archibald Constable & Co.
Ltd. London: 1906.



[This play has been publicly performed within the United Kingdom. It is
entered at Stationer? Hall and the Library of Congress, U.S.A. All rights
reserved.]



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh.



p






THE PHILANDERER



ACT I

A lady and gentleman are making love to o?ie another in the
drawing-room of a flat in Ashley Gardens in the Victoria
district of London. It is past ten at night. The walls are
hung with theatrical engravings and photographs ; Kemble as
Hamlet, Mrs Siddons as Queen Katharine pleading in courts
Macready as Werner {after Maclise), Sir Henry Irving as
Richard III {after Long), Miss Ellen Terry, Mrs Kendal,
Miss Ada Rehan, Madame Sarah Bernhardt, Mr Henry
Arthur Jones, Mr A. W. Pinero, Mr Sydney Grundy, and
so on, but not the Signora Duse or anyone connected with Ibsen.
The room is not rectangular, one corner being cut off diagonally
by the doorway, and the opposite one rounded by a turret window
filled up with a stand of flowers surrounding a statuet of Shake-
spear. The fireplace is on the doorway side, with an armchair
near it. A small round table, further from the door on the
same side, with a chair beside it, has a yellow backed French
novel lying open on it. The piano, a grand, is on the Shake-
spear side, open, with the keyboard at right angles to the wall.
The piece of music on the desk is " When other lips? In-
candescent lights, well shaded, are on the piano and mantelpiece.
Near the piano is a sofa, on which the lady and gentleman art
seated affectionately side by side, in one another's arms.



863314



74 The Philanderer Act I

The lady, Grace Tranfield, is about 32, slight of build,
delicate of feature, and sensitive in expression. She is just
now given up to . the emotion of the moment ; but her well

* .closed \mfltfhi, $rt>udly set brows, firm chin, and elegant carriage
.* show plenty vf 'determination and self respect. She is in even-
. //? drpsit^ 1 \ .% * \

V;5TJ& * gentleman," 'Leonard Charteris, a few years older, is
unconventionally but smartly dressed in a velvet jacket and
cashmere trousers. His collar, dyed Wot an blue, is part of his
shirt, and turns over a garnet colored scarf of Indian silk,
secured by a turquoise ring. He wears blue socks and leather
sandals. The arrangement of his tawny hair, and of his
moustaches and short beard, is apparently left to Nature ;
but he has taken care that Nature shall do him the full-
est justice. His amative enthusiasm, at which he is himself
laughing, and his clever, imaginative, humorous ways, contrast
strongly with the sincere tenderness and dignified quietness of the
woman.

charteris [impulsively clasping Grace] My dearest love.

grace [responding affectionately] My darling. Are you
happy ?

charteris. In Heaven.

grace. My own.

charteris. My heart's love. [He sighs happily, and
takes her hands in his, looking quaintly at her]. That must
positively be my last kiss, Grace ; or I shall become down-
right silly. Let us talk. [He releases her and sits a little
apart], Grace : is this your first love affair ?

grace. Have you forgotten that I am a widow ? Do
you think I married Tranfield for money ?

charteris. How do I know ? Besides, you might have
married him not because you loved him, but because you
didnt love anybody else. When one is young, one marries
out of mere curiosity, just to see what it's like.

grace. Well, since you ask me, I never was in love
with Tranfield, though I only found that out when I fell



Act I The Philanderer 75

in love with you. But I used to like him for being in
love with me. It brought out all the good in him so much
that I have wanted to be in love with someone ever since.
I hope, now that I am in love with you, you will like me
for it just as I liked Tranfield.

charteris. My dear : it is because I like you that I
want to marry you. I could love anybody any pretty
woman, that is.

grace. Do you really mean that, Leonard ?

charteris. Of course. Why not ?

grace [refecting] Never mind. Now tell me, is this
your first love affair?

charteris [amazed at the simplicity of the question] No,
bless my soul, no ; nor my second, nor my third.

grace. But I mean your first serious one ?

charteris [with a certain hesitation] Yes. [There is a
pause. She is not convinced. He adds, with a very percep-
tible load on his conscience] It is the first in which / have
been serious.

grace [searchingly] I see. The other parties were
always serious.

charteris. Not always. Heaven forbid !

grace. How often ?

charteris. Well, once.

grace. Julia Craven ?

charteris [recoiling] Who told you that ? [She shakes
her head mysteriously. He turns away from her moodily and
adds] You had much better not have asked.

grace [gently] I'm sorry, dear. [She puts out her hand
and pulls softly at him to bring him near her again],

charteris [yielding mechanically to the pull, and allowing
her hand to rest on his arm, but sitting squarely without the
least attempt to return the caress]. Do I feel harder to the
touch than I did five minutes ago ?

grace. What nonsense !

charteris. I feel as if my body had turned into the
toughest hickory. That is what comes of reminding me



7 6



The Philanderer Act I



of Julia Craven. [Brooding, with his chin on his right hand
and his elbow on his knee] I have sat alone with her just
as I am sitting with you

grace [shrinking from him] Just !

charteris [sitting upright and facing her steadily] Just
exactly. She has put her hands in mine, and laid her
cheek against mine, and listened to me saying all sorts of
silly things. [Grace, chilled to the soul, rises from the sofa
and sits down on the piano stool, with her back to the keyboard].
Ah, you dont want to hear any more of the story. So
much the better.

grace [deeply hurt, but controlling herself] When did you
break it off?

charteris [guiltily] Break it off?

grace [firmly] Yes : break it off.

charteris. Well : let me see. When did I fall in love
with you ?

grace. Did you break it off then ?

charteris [mischievously making it plaitier and plainer
that it has not been broken off] It was clear then, of course,
that it must be broken off.

grace. And did you break it off?

charteris. Oh, yes : / broke it off.

grace. But did she break it off?

charteris [rising] As a favor to me, dearest, change the
subject. Come away from the piano : I want you to sit
here with me. [He takes a step towards her],

grace. No. I also have grown hard to the touch much
harder than hickory for the present. Did she break it off?

charteris. My dear, be reasonable. It was fully ex-
plained to her that it was to be broken off.

grace. Did she accept the explanation ?

charteris. She did what a woman like Julia always
does. When I explained personally, she said it was not
my better self that was speaking, and that she knew I
still really loved her. When I wrote it to her with brutal
explicitness, she read the letter carefully and then sent it



Act I The Philanderer jj

back to me with a note to say that she had not had the
courage to open it, and that I ought to be ashamed of hav-
ing written it. [He comes beside Grace, and puts his left hand
caressingly round her neck]. You see, dearie, she wont look
the situation in the face.

grace [shaking off his hand and turning a little away on
the stool] I am afraid, from the light way you speak of it,
you did not sound the right chord.

charteris. My dear : when you are doing what a woman
calls breaking her heart, you may sound the very prettiest
chords you can find on the piano ; but to her ears it is
just like this [He sits down on the bass end of the keyboard,
Grace puts her fingers in her ears. He rises and moves away
from the piano, saying] No, my dear : Ive been kind ; Ive
been frank ; Ive been everything that a goodnatured man
can be ; but she only takes it as the making up of a lovers'
quarrel. [Grace winces]. Frankness and kindness : one
is as bad as the other especially frankness. Ive tried
both. [He crosses to the fireplace, and stands facing the fire,
looking at the ornaments on the mantelpiece and warming his
hands].

grace [her voice a little strained] What are you going to
try now ?

charteris [on the hearthrug, turning to face her] Action,
my dear ! Marriage ! ! In that she must believe. She
wont be convinced by anything short of it, because, you
see, Ive had some tremendous philanderings before, and
have gone back to her after them.

grace. And so that is why you want to marry me ?

charteris. I cannot deny it, my love. Yes : it is your
mission to rescue me from Julia.

grace [rising] Then, if you please, I decline to be made
use of for any such purpose. I will not steal you from
another woman. [She begins to walk up and down the room
with ominous disquiet]*

charteris. Steal me ! [He comes towards her], Grace:
I have a question to put to you as an advanced woman.



yS The Philanderer Act I

Mind ! as an advanced woman. Does Julia belong to me ?
Am I her owner her master ?

grace. Certainly not. No woman is the property of
a man. A woman belongs to herself and to nobody else.

charteris. Quite right. Ibsen for ever ! Thats ex-
actly my opinion. Now tell me, do I belong to Julia ; or
have I a right to belong to myself?

grace [puzzled] Of course you have ; but

charteris [interrupting her triumphantly] Then how can
you steal me from Julia if I dont belong to her ? [He
catches her by the shoulders and holds her out at arms length
in front of him]. Eh, little philosopher ? No, my dear :
if Ibsen sauce is good for the goose, it's good for the
gander as well. Besides [coaxing her] it was nothing but a
philander with Julia nothing else in the world, I assure
you.

grace [breaking away from him] So much the worse !
I hate your philanderings : they make me ashamed of you
and of myself. [She goes to the sofa and sits in the corner
furthest from the piano, leaning gloomily on her elbow with her
face averted],

charteris. Grace : you utterly misunderstand the
origin of my philanderings. [He sits down beside her]. Listen
to me : am I a particularly handsome man ?

grace [astonished at his conceit] No !

charteris [triumphantly] You admit it. Am I a well
dressed man ?

grace. Not particularly.

charteris. Of course not. Have I a romantic mysteri-
ous charm about me ? do I look as if a secret sorrow
preyed on me ? am I gallant to women ?

grace. Not in the least.

charteris. Certainly not. No one can accuse me of
it. Then whose fault is it that half the women I speak
to fall in love with me ? Not mine : I hate it : it bores
me to distraction. At first it flattered me delighted me
that was how Julia got me, because she was the first



Act I The Philanderer 79

woman who had the pluck to make me a declaration.
But I soon had enough of it ; and at no time have I taken
the initiative and persecuted women with my advances as
women have persecuted me. Never. Except, of course,
in your case.

grace. Oh, you need not make any exception. I had
a good deal of trouble to induce you to come and see us.
You were very coy.

charteris [fondly, taking her hand] With you, dearest,
the coyness was sheer coquetry. I loved you from the
first, and fled only that you might pursue. But come !
let us talk about something really interesting. [He takes her
in his arms]. Do you love me better than anyone else in the
world ?

grace. I dont think you like to be loved too much.

charteris. That depends on who the person is. You
[pressing her to his heart] cannot love me too much : you
cannot love me half enough. I reproach you every day
for your coldness your [A violent double knock with-
out. They start and listen, still in one another's arms,
hardly daring to breathe]. Who the deuce is calling at this
hour ?

grace. leant imagine. [They listen guiltily. The door
of the fiat is opened without. They hastily get away from one
another].

a woman's voice outside. Is Mr Charteris here ?

charteris [springing up] Julia ! The devil ! [He stands
at the end of the sofa with his hands on it, bending forward
with his eyes fixed on the door].

grace [rising also] What can she want ?

the voice. Never mind : I will announce myself. [A
beautiful, dark, tragic looking woman, in mantle and bonnet,
appears at the door, raging]. Oh, this is charming. I have
interrupted a pretty tete-a-tete. Oh, you villain ! [She
comes straight at Grace. Charteris runs across behind the
sofa and stops her. She struggles furiously with him. Grace
preserves her self possession, but retreats quietly to the piano.



80 The Philanderer Act I

Julia, finding Charteris too strong for her, gives up her
attempt to get at Grace, but strikes him in the face as she frees
herself],

charteris [shocked] Oh, Julia, Julia ! This is too bad.

julia. Is it, indeed, too bad ? What are you doing up
here with that woman ? You scoundrel ! But now listen
to me, Leonard : you have driven me to desperation ; and
I dont care what I do, or who hears me. I'll not bear it.
She shall not have my place with you

CHARTERIS. Sh-sh !

julia. No, no : I dont care : I will expose her true
character before everybody. You belong to me : you
have no right to be here ; and she knows it.

charteris. I think you had better let me take you
home, Julia.

julia. I will not. I am not going home : I am going
to stay here here until I have made you give her up.

charteris. My dear : you must be reasonable. You
really cannot stay in Mrs Tranfield's house if she objects.
She can ring the bell and have us both put out.

julia. Let her do it then. Let her ring the bell if she
dares. Let us see how this pure, virtuous creature will
face the scandal of what I will declare about her. Let
us see how you will face it. I have nothing to lose.
Everybody knows how you have treated me : you have
boasted of your conquests, you poor pitiful, vain
creature : I am the common talk of your acquaintances
and hers. Oh, I have calculated my advantage [she tears
off her mantle] : I am a most unhappy and injured woman ;
but I am not the fool you take me to be. I am going to
stay see ! [S 'he flings the mantle on the round table ; puts
her bonnet on it; and sits down\ Now, Mrs Tranfield :
theres the bell [pointing to the button beside the fireplace] :
why dont you ring? [Grace, looking attentively at Charteris,
does not move]. Ha ! ha ! I thought so.

charteris [quietly, without relaxing his watch on Julia]
Mrs Tranfield : I think you had better go into another



Act I The Philanderer 8 1

room. [Grace makes a movement towards the door, but
stops and looks inquiringly at Charteris as Julia springs up
to intercept her. He advances a step to guard the way to
the door],

julia. She shall not. She shall stay here. She shall
know what you are, and how you have been in love with
me how it is not two days since you kissed me and told
me that the future would be as happy as the past. [Scream-
ing at him] You did : deny it if you dare.

charteris [to Grace in a low voice] Go.

grace [with nonchalant disgust, going] Get her away as
soon as you can, Leonard.

[Julia, with a stified cry of rage, rushes at Grace, who is
crossing behind the sofa towards the door. Charteris seizes Julia
and prevents her from getting past the sofa. Grace goes out.
Charteris, holding Julia fast, looks round to the door to see
whether Grace is safely out of the room].

julia [suddenly ceasing to struggle and speaking with the
most pathetic dignity] Oh, there is no need to be violent.
[He passes her across to the sofa, and leans against the end of
it, panting and mopping his forehead]. That is worthy of
you ! to use brute force ! to humiliate me before
her ! [She breaks down and bursts into tears].

charteris [to himself, with melancholy conviction] This is
going to be a cheerful evening. Now patience, patience,
patience ! [He sits down on a chair near the round table].

julia [in anguish] Leonard : have you no feeling for
me ?

charteris. Only an intense desire to get you safely
out of this.

julia [fiercely] I am not going to stir.

charteris [wearily] Well, well. [He heaves a long sigh.
They sit silent for a while: Julia striving, not to regain her
self control, but to maintain her rage at boiling point],

julia [rising suddenly] I am going to speak to that
woman.

charteris [jumping up] No, no. Hang it, Julia, dont
VOL. i g



82 The Philanderer Act I

let's have another wrestling match. Remember : I'm
getting on for forty : youre too young for me. Sit down ;
or else let me take you home. Suppose her father comes
in!

julia. I dont care. It rests with you. I am ready to
go if she will give you up : until then I stay. Those are
my terms : you owe me that. [She sits down determinedly.
Charteris looks at her for a moment ; then, making up his
mind, goes resolutely to the sofa ; sits down near the end of
it, she being at the opposite end ; and speaks with biting em-
phasis],

charteris. I owe you just exactly nothing.

julia [reproachfully'] Nothing ! You can look me in
the face and say that ? O Leonard !

charteris. Let me remind you, Julia, that when first
we became acquainted, the position you took up was that
of a woman of advanced views.

julia. That should have made you respect me the
more.

charteris [placably] So it did, my dear. But that is
not the point. As a woman of advanced views, you were
determined to be free. You regarded marriage as a de-
grading bargain, by which a woman sells herself to a man
for the social status of a wife and the right to be supported
and pensioned in old age out of his income. Thats the
advanced view our view. Besides, if you had married
me, I might have turned out a drunkard, a criminal, an
imbecile, a horror to you ; and you couldnt have released
yourself. Too big a risk, you see. Thats the rational
view our view. Accordingly, you reserved the right
to leave me at any time if you found our companion-
ship incompatible with what was the expression you
used ? with your full development as a human being :
I think that was how you put the Ibsenist view
our view. So I had to be content with a charming
philander, which taught me a great deal, and brought me
some hours of exquisite happiness.



Act I The Philanderer 83

julia. Leonard : you confess then, that you owe me
something ?

charteris [haughtily] No : what I received, I paid.
Did you learn nothing from me? was there no delight
for you in our friendship ?

julia [vehemently and movingly ; for she is now sincere]
No. You made me pay dearly for every moment of
happiness. You revenged yourself on me for the humilia-
tion of being the slave of your passion for me. I was never
sure of you for a moment. I trembled whenever a letter
came from you, lest it should contain some stab for me.
I dreaded your visits almost as much as I longed for them.
I was your plaything, not your companion. [She rises ;
exclaiming] Oh, there was such suffering in my happiness
that I hardly knew joy from pain. [She sinks on the piano
stool, and adds, as she buries her face in her hands and turns
away from him] Better for me if I had never met you !

charteris [rising indignantly] You ungenerous wretch !
Is this your gratitude for the way I have just been flattering
you ? What have I not endured from you endured with
angelic patience ? Did I not find out, before our friend-
ship was a fortnight old, that all your advanced views were
merely a fashion picked up and followed like any other
fashion, without understanding or meaning a word of
them ? Did you not, in spite of your care for your own
liberty, set up claims on me compared to which the claims
of the most jealous wife would have been trifles ? Have I
a single woman friend whom you have not abused as old,
ugly, vicious

julia [quickly looking up] So they are.

charteris. Well, then, I'll come to grievances that
even you can understand. I accuse you of habitual and
intolerable jealousy and ill temper ; of insulting me on
imaginary provocation ; of positively beating me ; of steal-
ing letters of mine

julia [rising] Yes, nice letters !

charteris. of breaking your solemn promises not



84 The Philanderer Act 1

to do it again ; of spending hours aye, days ! piecing
together the contents of my waste paper basket in your
search for more letters ; and then representing yourself as
an ill used saint and martyr wantonly betrayed and de-
serted by a selfish monster of a man.

julia. I was justified in reading your letters. Our
perfect confidence in one another gave me the right to
do it.

charteris. Thank you. Then I hasten to break orT a
confidence which gives such rights. [He sits down sulkily on
the sofa],

julia [with her right hand on the back of the sofa, bending
over him threateningly] You have no right to break it off.

charteris. I have. You refused to marry me be-
cause

julia. I did not. You never asked me. If we were
married, you would never dare treat me as you are doing
now.

charteris [laboriously going back to his argument] It was
understood between us as people of advanced views that
we were not to marry ; because, as the law stands, I might
have become a drunkard, a

julia. a criminal, an imbecile or a horror. You said
that before. [She sits down beside him with a fling],

charteris [politely] I beg your pardon, my dear. I
know I have a habit of repeating myself. The point is
that you reserved your freedom to give me up when you
pleased.

julia. Well, what of that ? I do not please to give you
up ; and I will not. You have not become a drunkard or
a criminal.

charteris. You dont see the point yet, Julia. You
seem to forget that in reserving your freedom to leave me
in case I should turn out badly, you also reserved my
freedom to leave you in case you should turn out badly.

julia. Very ingenious. And pray, have / become a
drunkard, or a criminal, or an imbecile ?



Act I The Philanderer 85

charteris. You have become what is infinitely worse
than all three together a jealous termagant.

julia [shaking her head bitterlj\ Yes : abuse me call
me names.

charteris. I now assert the right I reserved : the right
of breaking with you when I please. Advanced views,
Julia, involve advanced duties : you cannot be an advanced
woman when you want to bring a man to your feet, and a
conventional woman when you want to hold him there
against his will. Advanced people form charming friend-
ships : conventional people marry. Marriage suits a good
many people ; and its first duty is fidelity. Friendship
suits some people ; and its first duty is unhesitating, uncom-
plaining acceptance of a notice of a change of feeling
from either side. You chose friendship instead of marriage.
Now do your duty, and accept your notice.

julia. Never ! We are engaged in the eye of the
eye of

charteris. Yes, Julia. Cant you get it out ? In the
eye of something that advanced women dont believe in,
eh?

julia [throwing herself at his feet] O Leonard, dont be
cruel. I'm too miserable to argue to think. I only
know I love you. You reproach me with not wanting to
marry you. I would have married you at any time after I
came to love you, if you had asked me. I will marry you
now if you will.

charteris. I wont, my dear. Thats flat. We're in-
tellectually incompatible.

julia. But why ? We could be so happy. You love
me I know you love me I feel it. You say
" My dear " to me : you have said it several times
this evening. I know I have been wicked, odious, bad :
I say nothing in defence of myself. But dont be hard
on me. I was distracted by the thought of losing you.
I cant face life without you, Leonard. I was happy
when I met you : I had never loved anyone ; and if



86 The Philanderer Act I

you had only let me alone, I could have gone on
contentedly by myself. But I cant now. I must have
you with me. Dont cast me off without a thought of all
I have at stake. I could be a friend to you if you would
only let me if you would only tell me your plans give
me a share in your work treat me as something more than
the amusement of an idle hour. O Leonard, Leonard,
youve never given me a chance : indeed you havnt. I'll
take pains ; I'll read ; I'll try to think ; I'll conquer
my jealousy; I'll \8bi breaks down, rocking her head
desperately on his knees and writhing]. Oh, I'm mad : I'm
mad : youll kill me if you desert me.


1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryBernard ShawThe philanderer: a topical comedy → online text (page 1 of 6)