and make a picture on their retinas, their brains become conscious of
the picture and they act accordingly. When the waves of sound started by
your speaking enter their ears and record a disparaging remark on their
keyboards, their brains become conscious of the disparagement and resent
it accordingly. If you did not disparage them they would not resent it.
They are merely responding to a stimulus.
THE MALE FIGURE. We are part of a cosmic system. Free will is an
illusion. We are the children of Cause and Effect. We are the
Unalterable, the Irresistible, the Irresponsible, the Inevitable.
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.
_There is a general stir of curiosity at this._
ACIS. What the dickens does he mean?
THE MALE FIGURE. Silence, base accident of Nature. This [_taking the
hand of the Female Figure and introducing her_] is Cleopatra-Semiramis,
consort of the king of kings, and therefore queen of queens. Ye are
things hatched from eggs by the brainless sun and the blind fire; but
the king of kings and queen of queens are not accidents of the egg: they
are thought-out and hand-made to receive the sacred Life Force. There is
one person of the king and one of the queen; but the Life Force of the
king and queen is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such
as the king is so is the queen, the king thought-out and hand-made, the
queen thought-out and hand-made. The actions of the king are caused, and
therefore determined, from the beginning of the world to the end;
and the actions of the queen are likewise. The king logical and
predetermined and inevitable, and the queen logical and predetermined
and inevitable. And yet they are not two logical and predetermined and
inevitable, but one logical and predetermined and inevitable. Therefore
confound not the persons, nor divide the substance: but worship us twain
as one throne, two in one and one in two, lest by error ye fall into
THE FEMALE FIGURE. And if any say unto you 'Which one?' remember that
though there is one person of the king and one of the queen, yet these
two persons are not alike, but are woman and man, and that as woman was
created after man, the skill and practice gained in making him were
added to her, wherefore she is to be exalted above him in all personal
respects, and -
THE MALE FIGURE. Peace, woman; for this is a damnable heresy. Both Man
and Woman are what they are and must do what they must according to the
eternal laws of Cause and Effect. Look to your words; for if they enter
my ear and jar too repugnantly on my sensorium, who knows that the
inevitable response to that stimulus may not be a message to my muscles
to snatch up some heavy object and break you in pieces.
_The Female Figure picks up a stone and is about to throw it at her
ARJILLAX [_springing up and shouting to Pygmalion, who is fondly
watching the Male Figure_] Look out, Pygmalion! Look at the woman!
_Pygmalion, seeing what is happening, hurls himself on the Female Figure
and wrenches the stone out of her hand. All spring up in consternation._
ARJILLAX. She meant to kill him.
STREPHON. This is horrible.
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_wrestling with Pygmalion_] Let me go. Let me go,
will you [_she bites his hand_].
PYGMALION [_releasing her and staggering_] Oh!
_A general shriek of horror echoes his exclamation. He turns deadly
pale, and supports himself against the end of the curved seat._
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_to her consort_] You would stand there and let me be
treated like this, you unmanly coward.
_Pygmalion falls dead._
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh! Whats the matter? Why did he fall! What has happened
_They look on anxiously as Martellus kneels down and examines the body
MARTELLUS. She has bitten a piece out of his hand nearly as large as a
finger nail: enough to kill ten men. There is no pulse, no breath.
ECRASIA. But his thumb is clinched.
MARTELLUS. No: it has just straightened out. See! He has gone. Poor
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh! [_She weeps_].
STREPHON. Hush, dear: thats childish.
THE NEWLY BORN [_subsiding with a sniff_]!!
MARTELLUS [_rising_] Dead in his third year. What a loss to Science!
ARJILLAX. Who cares about Science? Serve him right for making that pair
THE MALE FIGURE [_glaring_] Ha!
THE FEMALE FIGURE. Keep a civil tongue in your head, you.
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh, do not be so unkind, Arjillax. You will make water
come out of my eyes again.
MARTELLUS [_contemplating the Figures_] Just look at these two devils.
I modelled them out of the stuff Pygmalion made for them. They are
masterpieces of art. And see what they have done! Does that convince you
of the value of art, Arjillax!
STREPHON. They look dangerous. Keep away from them.
ECRASIA. No need to tell us that, Strephon. Pf! They poison the air.
THE MALE FIGURE. Beware, woman. The wrath of Ozymandias strikes like the
THE FEMALE FIGURE. You just say that again if you dare, you filthy
ACIS. What are you going to do with them, Martellus? You are responsible
for them, now that Pygmalion has gone.
MARTELLUS. If they were marble it would be simple enough: I could smash
them. As it is, how am I to kill them without making a horrible mess?
THE MALE FIGURE [_posing heroically_] Ha! [_He declaims_]
Come one: come all: this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I.
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_fondly_] My man! My hero husband! I am proud of you.
I love you.
MARTELLUS. We must send out a message for an ancient.
ACIS. Need we bother an ancient about such a trifle? It will take less
than half a second to reduce our poor Pygmalion to a pinch of dust. Why
not calcine the two along with him?
MARTELLUS. No: the two automata are trifles; but the use of our powers
of destruction is never a trifle. I had rather have the case judged.
_The He-Ancient emerges from the grove. The Figures are panic-stricken._
THE HE-ANCIENT [_mildly_] Am I wanted? I feel called. [_Seeing the body
of Pygmalion, and immediately taking a sterner tone_] What! A child
lost! A life wasted! How has this happened?
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_frantically_] I didn't do it. It was not me. May
I be struck dead if I touched him! It was he [_pointing to the Male
ALL [amazed at the lie] Oh!
THE MALE FIGURE. Liar. You bit him. Everyone here saw you do it.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Silence. [_Going between the Figures_] Who made these
two loathsome dolls?
THE MALE FIGURE [_trying to assert himself with his knees knocking_] My
name is Ozymandias, king of -
THE HE-ANCIENT [_with a contemptuous gesture_] Pooh!
THE MALE FIGURE [_falling on his knees_] Oh dont, sir. Dont. She did it,
sir: indeed she did.
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_howling lamentably_] Boohoo! oo! ooh!
THE HE-ANCIENT. Silence, I say.
_He knocks the Male Automaton upright by a very light flip under
the chin. The Female Automaton hardly dares to sob. The immortals
contemplate them with shame and loathing. The She-Ancient comes from the
trees opposite the temple._
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Somebody wants me. What is the matter? [_She comes to
the left hand of the Female Figure, not seeing the body of Pygmalion_].
Pf! [_Severely_] You have been making dolls. You must not: they are not
only disgusting: they are dangerous.
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_snivelling piteously_] I'm not a doll, mam. I'm only
poor Cleopatra-Semiramis, queen of queens. [_Covering her face with her
hands_] Oh, don't look at me like that, mam. I meant no harm. He hurt
me: indeed he did.
THE HE-ANCIENT. The creature has killed that poor youth.
THE SHE-ANCIENT [_seeing the body of Pygmalion_] What! This clever
child, who promised so well!
THE FEMALE FIGURE. He made me. I had as much right to kill him as he had
to make me. And how was I to know that a little thing like that would
kill him? I shouldn't die if he cut off my arm or leg.
ECRASIA. What nonsense!
MARTELLUS. It may not be nonsense. I daresay if you cut off her leg she
would grow another, like the lobsters and the little lizards.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Did this dead boy make these two things?
MARTELLUS. He made them in his laboratory. I moulded their limbs. I am
sorry. I was thoughtless: I did not foresee that they would kill and
pretend to be persons they were not, and declare things that were false,
and wish evil. I thought they would be merely mechanical fools.
THE MALE FIGURE. Do you blame us for our human nature?
THE FEMALE FIGURE. We are flesh and blood and not angels.
THE MALE FIGURE. Have you no hearts?
ARJILLAX. They are mad as well as mischievous. May we not destroy them?
STREPHON. We abhor them.
THE NEWLY BORN. We loathe them.
ECRASIA. They are noisome.
ACIS. I don't want to be hard on the poor devils; but they are making me
feel uneasy in my inside. I never had such a sensation before.
MARTELLUS. I took a lot of trouble with them. But as far as I am
concerned, destroy them by all means. I loathed them from the beginning.
ALL. Yes, yes: we all loathe them. Let us calcine them.
THE FEMALE FIGURE. Oh, don't be so cruel. I'm not fit to die. I will
never bite anyone again. I will tell the truth. I will do good. Is it my
fault if I was not made properly? Kill him; but spare me.
THE MALE FIGURE. No! I have done no harm: she has. Kill her if you like:
you have no right to kill me.
THE NEWLY BORN. Do you hear that? They want to have one another killed.
ARJILLAX. Monstrous! Kill them both.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Silence. These things are mere automata: they cannot
help shrinking from death at any cost. You see that they have no
self-control, and are merely shuddering through a series of reflexes.
Let us see whether we cannot put a little more life into them. [_He
takes the Male Figure by the hand, and places his disengaged hand on
its head_]. Now listen. One of you two is to be destroyed. Which of you
shall it be?
THE MALE FIGURE [_after a slight convulsion during which his eyes are
fixed on the He-Ancient_] Spare her; and kill me.
STREPHON. Thats better.
THE NEWLY BORN. Much better.
THE SHE-ANCIENT [_handling the Female Automaton in the same manner_]
Which of you shall we kill?
THE FEMALE FIGURE. Kill us both. How could either of us live without the
ECRASIA. The woman is more sensible than the man.
_The Ancients release the Automata._
THE MALE FIGURE [_sinking to the ground_] I am discouraged. Life is too
heavy a burden.
THE FEMALE FIGURE [_collapsing_] I am dying. I am glad. I am afraid to
THE NEWLY BORN. I think it would be nice to give the poor things a
THE NEWLY BORN. I don't know. But it would.
_The Musicians play._
THE FEMALE FIGURE. Ozymandias: do you hear that? [_She rises on her
knees and looks raptly into space_] Queen of queens! [_She dies_].
THE MALE FIGURE [_crawling feebly towards her until he reaches her
hand_] I knew I was really a king of kings. [_To the others_] Illusions,
farewell: we are going to our thrones. [_He dies_].
_The music stops. There is dead silence for a moment._
THE NEWLY BORN. That was funny.
STREPHON. It was. Even the Ancients are smiling.
THE NEWLY BORN. Just a little.
THE SHE-ANCIENT [_quickly recovering her grave and peremptory manner_]
Take these two abominations away to Pygmalion's laboratory, and destroy
them with the rest of the laboratory refuse. [_Some of them move to
_obey]. Take care: do not touch their flesh: it is noxious: lift them by
their robes. Carry Pygmalion into the temple; and dispose of his remains
in the usual way.
_The three bodies are carried out as directed, Pygmalion into the temple
by his bare arms and legs, and the two Figures through the grove by
their clothes. Martellus superintends the removal of the Figures, Acis
that of Pygmalion. Ecrasia, Arjillax, Strephon, and the Newly Born sit
down as before, but on contrary benches; so that Strephon and the Newly
Born now face the grove, and Ecrasia and Arjillax the temple. The
Ancients remain standing at the altar._
ECRASIA [_as she sits down_] Oh for a breeze from the hills!
STREPHON. Or the wind from the sea at the turn of the tide!
THE NEWLY BORN. I want some clean air.
THE HE-ANCIENT. The air will be clean in a moment. This doll flesh that
children make decomposes quickly at best; but when it is shaken by such
passions as the creatures are capable of, it breaks up at once and
becomes horribly tainted.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Let it be a lesson to you all to be content with
lifeless toys, and not attempt to make living ones. What would you think
of us ancients if we made toys of you children?
THE NEWLY BORN [_coaxingly_] Why do you not make toys of us? Then you
would play with us; and that would be very nice.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. It would not amuse us. When you play with one another
you play with your bodies, and that makes you supple and strong; but if
we played with you we should play with your minds, and perhaps deform
STREPHON. You are a ghastly lot, you ancients. I shall kill myself when
I am four years old. What do you live for?
THE HE-ANCIENT. You will find out when you grow up. You will not kill
STREPHON. If you make me believe that, I shall kill myself now.
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh no. I want you. I love you.
STREPHON. I love someone else. And she has gone old, old. Lost to me for
THE HE-ANCIENT. How old?
STREPHON. You saw her when you barged into us as we were dancing. She is
THE NEWLY BORN. How I should have hated her twenty minutes ago! But I
have grown out of that now.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Good. That hatred is called jealousy, the worst of our
_Martellus, dusting his hands and puffing, returns from the grove._
MARTELLUS. Ouf! [_He sits down next the Newly Born_] That job's
ARJILLAX. Ancients: I should like to make a few studies of you. Not
portraits, of course: I shall idealize you a little. I have come to the
conclusion that you ancients are the most interesting subjects after
MARTELLUS. What! Have those two horrors, whose ashes I have just
deposited with peculiar pleasure in poor Pygmalion's dustbin, not cured
you of this silly image-making!
ARJILLAX. Why did you model them as young things, you fool? If Pygmalion
had come to me, I should have made ancients of them for him. Not that I
should have modelled them any better. I have always said that no one
can beat you at your best as far as handwork is concerned. But this job
required brains. That is where I should have come in.
MARTELLUS. Well, my brainy boy, you are welcome to try your hand. There
are two of Pygmalion's pupils at the laboratory who helped him to
manufacture the bones and tissues and all the rest of it. They can turn
out a couple of new automatons; and you can model them as ancients if
this venerable pair will sit for you.
ECRASIA [_decisively_] No. No more automata. They are too disgusting.
ACIS [_returning from the temple_] Well, thats done. Poor old Pyg!
ECRASIA. Only fancy, Acis! Arjillax wants to make more of those
abominable things, and to destroy even their artistic character by
making ancients of them.
THE NEWLY BORN. You wont sit for them, will you? Please dont.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Children, listen.
ACIS [_striding down the steps to the bench and seating himself next
Ecrasia_] What! Even the Ancient wants to make a speech! Give it mouth,
STREPHON. For heaven's sake don't tell us that the earth was once
inhabited by Ozymandiases and Cleopatras. Life is hard enough for us as
THE HE-ANCIENT. Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take
courage: it can be delightful. What I wanted to tell you is that ever
since men existed, children have played with dolls.
ECRASIA. You keep using that word. What are dolls, pray?
THE SHE-ANCIENT. What you call works of art. Images. We call them dolls.
ARJILLAX. Just so. You have no sense of art; and you instinctively
THE HE-ANCIENT. Children have been known to make dolls out of rags, and
to caress them with the deepest fondness.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Eight centuries ago, when I was a child, I made a rag
doll. The rag doll is the dearest of all.
THE NEWLY BORN [_eagerly interested_] Oh! Have you got it still?
THE SHE-ANCIENT. I kept it a full week.
ECRASIA. Even in your childhood, then, you did not understand high art,
and adored your own amateur crudities.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. How old are you?
ECRASIA. Eight months.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. When you have lived as long as I have -
ECRASIA [_interrupting rudely_] I shall worship rag dolls, perhaps.
Thank heaven I am still in my prime.
THE HE-ANCIENT. You are still capable of thanking, though you do not
know what you thank. You are a thanking little animal, a blaming little
animal, a -
ACIS. A gushing little animal.
ARJILLAX. And, as she thinks, an artistic little animal.
ECRASIA [_nettled_] I am an animated being with a reasonable soul and
human flesh subsisting. If your Automata had been properly animated,
Martellus, they would have been more successful.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. That is where you are wrong, my child. If those two
loathsome things had been rag dolls, they would have been amusing and
lovable. The Newly Born here would have played with them; and you would
all have laughed and played with them too until you had torn them to
pieces; and then you would have laughed more than ever.
THE NEWLY BORN. Of course we should. Isnt that funny?
THE HE-ANCIENT. When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth.
STREPHON. Yes; and take all the fun out of it.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Do not be so embittered because your sweetheart has
outgrown her love for you. The Newly Born will make amends.
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh yes: I will be more than she could ever have been.
STREPHON. Psha! Jealous!
THE NEWLY BORN. Oh no. I have grown out of that. I love her now because
she loved you, and because you love her.
THE HE-ANCIENT. That is the next stage. You are getting on very nicely,
MARTELLUS. Come! what is the truth that was hidden in the rag doll?
THE HE-ANCIENT. Well, consider why you are not content with the rag
doll, and must have something more closely resembling a real living
creature. As you grow up you make images and paint pictures. Those of
you who cannot do that make stories about imaginary dolls. Or you dress
yourselves up as dolls and act plays about them.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. And, to deceive yourself the more completely, you take
them so very very seriously that Ecrasia here declares that the making
of dolls is the holiest work of creation, and the words you put into
the mouths of dolls the sacredest of scriptures and the noblest of
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Yet the more beautiful they become the further they
retreat from you. You cannot caress them as you caress the rag doll. You
cannot cry for them when they are broken or lost, or when you pretend
they have been unkind to you, as you could when you played with rag
THE HE-ANCIENT. At last, like Pygmalion, you demand from your dolls the
final perfection of resemblance to life. They must move and speak.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. They must love and hate.
THE HE-ANCIENT. They must think that they think.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. They must have soft flesh and warm, blood.
THE HE-ANCIENT. And then, when you have achieved this as Pygmalion did;
when the marble masterpiece is dethroned by the automaton and the homo
by the homunculus; when the body and the brain, the reasonable soul and
human flesh subsisting, as Ecrasia says, stand before you unmasked as
mere machinery, and your impulses are shewn to be nothing but reflexes,
you are filled with horror and loathing, and would give worlds to be
young enough to play with your rag doll again, since every step away
from it has been a step away from love and happiness. Is it not true?
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Speak, Martellus: you who have travelled the whole
MARTELLUS. It is true. With fierce joy I turned a temperature of a
million degrees on those two things I had modelled, and saw them vanish
in an instant into inoffensive dust.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Speak, Arjillax: you who have advanced from imitating
the lightly living child to the intensely living ancient. Is it true, so
ARJILLAX. It is partly true: I cannot pretend to be satisfied now with
modelling pretty children.
THE HE-ANCIENT. And you, Ecrasia: you cling to your highly artistic
dolls as the noblest projections of the Life Force, do you not?
ECRASIA. Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world
THE NEWLY BORN [_anticipating the She-Ancient, who is evidently going
to challenge her_] Now you are coming to me, because I am the latest
arrival. But I don't understand your art and your dolls at all. I want
to caress my darling Strephon, not to play with dolls.
ACIS. I am in my fourth year; and I have got on very well without your
dolls. I had rather walk up a mountain and down again than look at all
the statues Martellus and Arjillax ever made. You prefer a statue to an
automaton, and a rag doll to a statue. So do I; but I prefer a man to a
rag doll. Give me friends, not dolls.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Yet I have seen you walking over the mountains alone.
Have you not found your best friend in yourself?
ACIS. What are you driving at, old one? What does all this lead to?
THE HE-ANCIENT. It leads, young man, to the truth that you can create
nothing but yourself.
ACIS [_musing_] I can create nothing but myself. Ecrasia: you are
clever. Do you understand it? I don't.
ECRASIA. It is as easy to understand as any other ignorant error. What
artist is as great as his own works? He can create masterpieces; but he
cannot improve the shape of his own nose.
ACIS. There! What have you to say to that, old one?
THE HE-ANCIENT. He can alter the shape of his own soul. He could alter
the shape of his nose if the difference between a turned-up nose and a
turned-down one were worth the effort. One does not face the throes of
creation for trifles.
ACIS. What have you to say to that, Ecrasia?
ECRASIA. I say that if the ancients had thoroughly grasped the theory of
fine art they would understand that the difference between a beautiful
nose and an ugly one is of supreme importance: that it is indeed the
only thing that matters.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. That is, they would understand something they could not
believe, and that you do not believe.
ACIS. Just so, mam. Art is not honest: that is why I never could stand
much of it. It is all make-believe. Ecrasia never really says things:
she only rattles her teeth in her mouth.
ECRASIA. Acis: you are rude.
ACIS. You mean that I wont play the game of make-believe. Well, I don't
ask you to play it with me; so why should you expect me to play it with
ECRASIA. You have no right to say that I am not sincere. I have found a
happiness in art that real life has never given me. I am intensely in
earnest about art. There is a magic and mystery in art that you know
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Yes, child: art is the magic mirror you make to reflect
your invisible dreams in visible pictures. You use a glass mirror to see
your face: you use works of art to see your soul. But we who are older
use neither glass mirrors nor works of art. We have a direct sense of
life. When you gain that you will put aside your mirrors and statues,
your toys and your dolls.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Yet we too have our toys and our dolls. That is the
trouble of the ancients.
ARJILLAX. What! The ancients have their troubles! It is the first time I
ever heard one of them confess it.
THE HE-ANCIENT. Look at us. Look at me. This is my body, my blood,
my brain; but it is not me. I am the eternal life, the perpetual
resurrection; but [_striking his body_] this structure, this organism,
this makeshift, can be made by a boy in a laboratory, and is held back
from dissolution only by my use of it. Worse still, it can be broken by
a slip of the foot, drowned by a cramp in the stomach, destroyed by a
flash from the clouds. Sooner or later, its destruction is certain.
THE SHE-ANCIENT. Yes: this body is the last doll to be discarded. When I
was a child, Ecrasia, I, too, was an artist, like your sculptor friends
there, striving to create perfection in things outside myself. I made
statues: I painted pictures: I tried to worship them.
THE HE-ANCIENT. I had no such skill; but I, like Acis, sought perfection