Produced by The Levin family
OUR AMERICAN COUSIN
A Drama, in 3 Acts.
By Tom Taylor
This etext was produced by the Levin family, Englewood, CO. Like many
plays, there is no authoritative version and it evolved over the course
of time, indeed in multiple directions. The 1869 printing upon which
this etext is primarily based was poorly printed and we have corrected
outright punctuation and grammatical errors while maintaining its
original, whimisical use of capitalization and punctuation. This version
contains very few "Dundrearyisms" such as "birds of a feather gather no
moss" for which the play gained much of its popular appeal.
Abraham Lincoln was watching this play when he was assassinated. (Act
III, halfway through Scene 2.)
ORIGINAL CAST OF CHARACTERS. [Our American Cousin.]
Laura Keene's Theatre, New York, October 15, 1858.
Lord Dundreary Mr. E. A. Sothern
Asa Trenchard '' Jos. Jefferson
Sir Edward Trenchard '' E. Varrey
Capt. De Boots '' Clinton
Harry Vernon '' M. Levick
Abel Murcott '' C.W. Couldock
Mr. Coyle '' J.G. Burnett
Mr. Buddicombe '' McDouall
Mr. Binny '' Peters
John Wickens '' Brown
Mrs. Mountchessington Miss Mary Wells
Florence Trenchard '' Laura Keene
Mary '' Sara Stevens
Augusta '' E. Germon
Georgina Mrs. Sothern
Sharpe Miss Flynn
Skillet Mrs. M. Levick
OUR AMERICAN COUSIN.
Scene 1 - Drawing room in 3. Trenchard Manor, C. D., backed by interior,
discovering table with luncheon spread. Large French window, R. 3 E.,
through which a fine English park is seen. Open archway, L. 3 E.
Set balcony behind. Table, R., books and papers on it. Work basket
containing wools and embroidery frame. A fashionable arm chair and sofa,
L. 2 E., small table near C. D. Stage handsomely set, costly furniture,
carpet down, chairs, etc.
Buddicombe discovered on sofa reading newspaper. Skillet and Sharpe
busily arranging furniture as curtain rises.
Sharpe I don't know how you may feel as a visitor, Mr. Buddicombe, but I
think this is a most uncomfortable family.
Bud Very uncomfortable. I have no curtain to my bed.
Skil And no wine at the second table.
Sharpe And meaner servants I never seed.
Bud I'm afraid Sir Edward is in a queer strait.
Skil Yes, for only this morning, Mr. Binny, Mrs. Skillet says he -
Enter Binny, L. 3 E.
Binny Mind your hown business instead hof your betters. I'm disgusted
with you lower servants. When the wine merchant presents his bills, you
men, hear me, say he's been pressing for the last six months, do you?
Skil Nor I, that the last year's milliner's bills have not been paid.
Sharpe Nor I, that Miss Florence has not had no new dresses from London
Bud And I can solemnly swear that his lordship's hair has been
faithfully bound in this bosom.
Binny That'll do, that'll do; but to remember to check hidle curiosity
is the first duty of men hin livery. Ha, 'ere hare the letters.
Enter John Wickens, L. 3 E., with green baize bag. Binny takes bag,
takes out letters and reads addresses.
Binny Hah! bill, of course, Miss Augusta, Mrs. Mountchessington, Lord
Dundreary, Capt. De Boots, Miss Georgina Mountchessington, Lieut.
Vernon, ah! that's from the admiralty. What's this? Miss Florence
Trenchard, via Brattleboro', Vermont.
Bud Where's that, Mr. Binny.
John Why that be hin the United States of North Hamerica, and a main
good place for poor folks.
Binny John Wickens, you forget yourself.
John Beg pardon, Mr. Binny.
Binny John Wickens, leave the room.
John But I know where Vermont be tho'.
Binny John Wickens, get hout. [Exit John, L. 3 E.]
Bud Dreadful low fellow, that.
Binny Halways himpudent.
Bud [Looking at letter in Binny's hand.] Why, that is Sir Edward's hand,
Mr. Binny, he must have been sporting.
Binny Yes, shooting the wild helephants and buffalos what abound there.
Bud The nasty beasts. [Looking off, R. 2 E.] Hello, there comes Miss
Florence tearing across the lane like a three year old colt.
Sharp & Skil Oh, Gemini. [Run off, R. 2 E. Bud. runs off, L. 2 E.]
Enter Florence, R. 2 E.
Flo [As if after running.] Oh! I'm fairly out of breath. Good morning,
Binny, the letter bag I saw coming, Wickens coming with it. I thought I
could catch him before I reached the house. [Sits R.] So off I started,
I forgot the pond, it was in or over. I got over, but my hat got in. I
wish you'd fish it out for me, you won't find the pond very deep.
Binny Me fish for an at? Does she take me for an hangler?
Flo. Give me the letters. [Takes them.] Ah, blessed budget that descends
upon Trenchard Manor, like rain on a duck pond. Tell papa and all, that
the letters have come, you will find them on the terrace.
Binny Yes, Miss. [Going, L. 3 E.]
Flo And then go fish out my hat out of the pond, it's not very deep
Binny [Aside.] Me fish for 'ats? I wonder if she takes me for an
hangler? [Exit disgusted, R. 3 E.]
Flo [Reading directions.] Lieut. Vernon. [This is a large letter with a
large white envelope, red seal.] In her Majesty's service. Admiralty, R.
N. Ah, that's an answer to Harry's application for a ship. Papa promised
to use his influence for him. I hope he has succeeded, but then he will
have to leave us, and who knows if he ever comes back. What a foolish
girl I am, when I know that his rise in the service will depend upon it.
I do hope he'll get it, and, if he must leave us, I'll bid him good bye
as a lass who loves a sailor should.
Enter Sir Edward, Mrs. M., Augusta, Capt. De Boots, Vernon, L. 3 E.
Flo Papa, dear, here are letters for you, one for you, Mrs.
Mountchessington, one for you, Capt. De Boots, and one for you, Harry.
[Hiding letter behind her.]
Ver Ah, one for me, Florence?
Flo Now what will you give me for one?
Ver Ah, then you have one?
Flo Yes, there, Harry. [Gives it.]
Ver Ah, for a ship. [Opens and reads.]
Flo Ah! Mon ami, you are to leave us. Good news, or bad?
Ver No ship yet, this promises another year of land lubbery. [Goes up.]
Flo. I'm so sorry. [Aside.] I'm so glad he's not going away. But where's
Dundreary. Has anybody seen Dundreary?
Dun Good morning, Miss Florence.
Flo [Comes down, L.] Good morning, my Lord Dundreary. Who do you think
has been here? What does the postman bring?
Dun Well, sometimes he brings a bag with a lock on it, sometimes
newspapers, and sometimes letters, I suppothe.
Flo There. [Gives letter. Dundreary opens letter and Florence goes up R.
Dun. knocks knees against chair, turns round knocks shins, and at last
is seated extreme, R.]
Dun Thank you. [Reads letter.]
De B [Reading paper.] By Jove, old Soloman has made a crop of it.
Dun A - what of it?
De B I beg pardon, an event I am deeply interested in, that's all. I beg
Aug Ah! Florence, dear, there's a letter of yours got among mine. [Gives
Flo Why papa, it's from dear brother Ned.
Sir E From my boy! Where is he? How is he? Read it.
Flo He writes from Brattleboro' Vt. [Reading written letter.] ``Quite
well, just come in from a shooting excursion, with a party of Crows,
splendid fellows, six feet high.''
Dun Birds six feet high, what tremendous animals they must be.
Flo Oh, I see what my brother means; a tribe of indians called Crows,
Dun Oh, I thought you meant those creatures with wigs on them.
Dun I mean those things that move, breathe and walk, they look like
animals with those things. [Moving his arms like wings.]
Dun Birds with wings, that's the idea.
Flo [Reading written letter.] ``Bye-the-bye, I have lately come quite
hap-hazard upon the other branch of our family, which emigrated to
America at the Restoration. They are now thriving in this State, and
discovering our relationship, they received me most hospitably. I have
cleared up the mysterious death of old Mark Trenchard.''
Sir E Of my uncle!
Flo [Reading written letter.] ``It appears that when he quarreled with
his daughter on her marriage with poor Meredith, he came here in search
of this stray shoot of the family tree, found them and died in their
house, leaving Asa, one of the sons, heir to his personal property in
England, which ought to belong to poor Mary Meredith. Asa is about to
sail for the old country, to take possession. I gave him directions
to find you out, and he should arrive almost as soon as this letter.
Receive him kindly for the sake of the kindness he has shown to me, and
let him see some of our shooting.'' Your affectionate brother, NED.
Sir E An American branch of the family.
Mrs M Oh, how interesting!
Aug [Enthusiastically.] How delightfully romantic! I can imagine the
wild young hunter. An Apollo of the prairie.
Flo An Apollo of the prairie; yes, with a strong nasal twang, and a
decided taste for tobacco and cobblers.
Sir E Florence, you forget that he is a Trenchard, and no true Trenchard
would have a liking for cobblers or low people of that kind.
Flo I hate him, whatever he is, coming here to rob poor cousin Mary of
her grandmother's guineas.
Sir E Florence, how often must I request you not to speak of Mary
Meredith as your cousin?
Flo Why, she is my cousin, is she not? Besides she presides over her
milk pail like a duchess playing dairymaid. [Sir E. goes up.] Ah!
Papa won't hear me speak of my poor cousin, and then I'm so fond of
syllabubs. Dundreary, do you know what syllabubs are?
Dun Oh, yeth, I know what syllabubs is - yeth - yeth.
Flo Why, I don't believe you do know what they are.
Dun Not know what syllabubs are? That's a good idea. Why they
are - syllabubs are - they are only babies, idiotic children; that's a
good idea, that's good. [Bumps head against Florence.]
Flo No, it's not a bit like the idea. What you mean are called
Dun What, those things that look like oranges, with wings on them?
Flo Not a bit like it. Well, after luncheon you must go with me and I'll
introduce you to my cousin Mary and syllabubs.
Dun I never saw Mr. Syllabubs, I am sure.
Flo Well, now, don't forget.
Dun I never can forget - when I can recollect.
Flo Then recollect that you have an appointment with me after luncheon.
Dun Yeth, yeth.
Flo Well, what have you after luncheon?
Dun Well, sometimes I have a glass of brandy with an egg in
it, sometimes a run 'round the duck-pond, sometimes a game of
checkers - that's for exercise, and perhaps a game of billiards.
Flo No, no; you have with me after luncheon, an ap - an ap -
Dun An ap - an ap -
Flo An ap - an appoint - appointment.
Dun An ointment, that's the idea. [Knocks against De Boots as they go up
Mrs M [Aside.] That artful girl has designs upon Lord Dundreary.
Augusta, dear, go and see how your poor, dear sister is this morning.
Aug Yes, mamma. [Exit, L. 1 E.]
Mrs M She is a great sufferer, my dear.
Dun Yeth, but a lonely one.
Flo What sort of a night had she?
Mrs M Oh, a very refreshing one, thanks to the draught you were kind
enough to prescribe for her, Lord Dundreary.
Flo What! Has Lord Dundreary been prescribing for Georgina?
Dun Yeth. You see I gave her a draught that cured the effect of the
draught, and that draught was a draft that didn't pay the doctor's bill.
Didn't that draught -
Flo Good gracious! what a number of draughts. You have almost a game of
Dun Ha! ha! ha!
Flo What's the matter?
Dun That wath a joke, that wath.
Flo Where's the joke? [Dundreary screams and turns to Mrs. M.]
Mrs M No.
Dun She don't see it. Don't you see - a game of drafts - pieces of wound
wood on square pieces of leather. That's the idea. Now, I want to put
your brains to the test. I want to ask you a whime.
Flo A whime, what's that?
Dun A whime is a widdle, you know.
Flo A widdle!
Dun Yeth; one of those things, like - why is so and so or somebody like
Flo Oh, I see, you mean a conundrum.
Dun Yeth, a drum, that's the idea. What is it gives a cold in the head,
cures a cold, pays the doctor's bill and makes the home-guard look for
substitutes? [Florence repeats it.] Yeth, do you give it up?
Dun Well, I'll tell you - a draught. Now I've got a better one that that:
When is a dog's tail not a dog's tail? [Florence repeats. During this
Florence, Mrs. M. and Dundreary are down stage.]
Flo Yes, and willingly.
Dun When it's a cart. [They look at him enquiringly.]
Flo Why, what in earth has a dog's tail to do with a cart?
Dun When it moves about, you know. A horse makes a cart move, so does a
dog make his tail move.
Flo Oh, I see what you mean - when it's a wagon. [Wags the letter in her
Dun Well, a wagon and a cart are the same thing, ain't they! That's the
idea - it's the same thing.
Flo They are not the same. In the case of your conundrum there's a very
Dun Now I've got another. Why does a dog waggle his tail?
Flo Upon my word, I never inquired.
Dun Because the tail can't waggle the dog. Ha! Ha!
Flo Ha! ha! Is that your own, Dundreary?
Dun Now I've got one, and this one is original.
Flo No, no, don't spoil the last one.
Dun Yeth; but this is extremely interesting.
Mrs M Do you think so, Lord Dundreary?
Dun Yeth. Miss Georgina likes me to tell her my jokes. Bye-the-bye,
talking of that lonely sufferer, isn't she an interesting invalid? They
do say that's what's the matter with me. I'm an interesting invalid.
Flo Oh, that accounts for what I have heard so many young ladies
say - Florence, dear, don't you think Lord Dundreary's extremely
interesting? I never knew what they meant before.
Dun Yeth, the doctor recommends me to drink donkey's milk.
Flo [Hiding laugh.] Oh, what a clever man he must be. He knows we
generally thrive best on our native food. [Goes up.]
Dun [Looking first at Florence and then at Mrs M.] I'm so weak, and that
is so strong. Yes, I'm naturally very weak, and I want strengthening.
Yes, I guess I'll try it.
Enter Augusta. Bus. with Dundreary, who finally exits and brings on
Georgina, L. 1 E.
Dun Look at this lonely sufferer. [Bringing on Georgina, seats her on
sofa, L.] There, repothe yourself.
Geo [Fanning herself] Thank you, my lord. Everybody is kind to me, and I
am so delicate.
Aug [At table.] Capt. De Boots, do help to unravel these wools for me,
you have such an eye for color.
Flo An eye for color! Yes, especially green.
Dun [Screams.] Ha! ha! ha!
All What's the matter?
Dun Why, that wath a joke, that wath.
Flo Where was the joke?
Dun Especially, ha! ha!
Sir E Florence, dear, I must leave you to represent me to my guests.
These letters will give me a great deal of business to-day.
Flo Well, papa, remember I am your little clerk and person of all work.
Sir E No, no; this is private business - money matters, my love, which
women know nothing about. [Aside.] Luckily for them, I expect Mr. Coyle
Flo Dear papa, how I wish you would get another agent.
Sir E Nonsense, Florence, impossible. He knows my affairs. His father
was agent for the late Baronet. He's one of the family, almost.
Flo Papa, I have implicit faith in my own judgement of faces. Depend
upon it, that man is not to be trusted.
Sir E Florence, you are ridiculous. I could not get on a week without
him. [Aside.] Curse him, I wish I could! Coyle is a most intelligent
agent, and a most faithful servant of the family.
Enter Binny, L. 3 E.
Binny Mr. Coyle and hagent with papers.
Sir E Show him into the library. I will be with him presently. [Exit
Flo Remember the archery meeting, papa. It is at three.
Sir E Yes, yes, I'll remember. [Aside.] Pretty time for such levity when
ruin stares me in the face. Florence, I leave you as my representative.
[Aside.] Now to prepare myself to meet my Shylock. [Exit, R. 1 E.]
Flo Why will papa not trust me? [Vernon comes down, R.] Oh, Harry! I
wish he would find out what a lot of pluck and common sense there is in
this feather head of mine.
Dun Miss Florence, will you be kind enough to tell Miss Georgina all
about that American relative of yours.
Flo Oh, about my American cousin; certainly. [Aside to Harry.] Let's
have some fun. Well, he's about 17 feet high!
Dun Good gracious! 17 feet high!
Flo They are all 17 feet high in America, ain't they, Mr. Vernon?
Ver Yes, that's about the average height.
Flo And they have long black hair that reaches down to their heels; they
have dark copper-colored skin, and they fight with - What do they fight
with, Mr. Vernon?
Ver Tomahawks and scalping knives.
Flo Yes; and you'd better take care, Miss Georgina, or he'll take his
tomahawk and scalping knife and scalp you immediately. [Georgina screams
Dun Here, somebody get something and throw over her; a pail of water;
no, not that, she's pale enough already. [Fans her with handkerchief.]
Georgina, don't be afraid. Dundreary's by your side, he will protect
Flo Don't be frightened, Georgina. He will never harm you while
Dundreary is about. Why, he could get three scalps here. [Pulls
Dundreary's whiskers. Georgina screams.]
Dun Don't scream, I won't lose my whiskers. I know what I'll do for my
own safety. I will take this handkerchief and tie the roof of my head
on. [Ties it on.]
Flo [Pretending to cry.] Good bye, Dundreary. I'll never see you again
in all your glory.
Dun Don't cry, Miss Florence, I'm ready for Mr. Tommy Hawk.
Binny If you please, Miss, 'ere's a gent what says he's hexpected.
Flo What's his name? Where's his card?
Binny He didn't tell me his name, Miss, and when I haxed him for his
card 'e said 'e had a whole pack in his valise, and if I 'ad a mine
'e'd play me a game of seven hup. He says he has come to stay, and he
certainly looks as if he didn't mean to go.
Flo That's him. Show him in, Mr. Binny. [Exit Binny, L. 3 E.] That's my
American cousin, I know.
Aug [Romantically.] Your American cousin. Oh, how delightfully romantic,
isn't it, Capt. De Boots? [Comes down.] I can imagine the wild young
hunter, with the free step and majestic mien of the hunter of the
Asa [Outside, L. 3 E.] Consarn your picture, didn't I tell you I was
expected? You are as obstinate as Deacon Stumps' forelock, that wouldn't
lie down and couldn't stand up. Would't pint forward and couldn't go
Enter Asa, L. 3 E., carrying a valise.
Asa Where's the Squire?
Flo Do you mean Sir Edward Trenchard, sir?
Flo He is not present, but I am his daughter.
Asa Well, I guess that'll fit about as well if you tell this darned old
shoat to take me to my room.
Flo What does he mean by shoat?
Binny [Taking valise.] He means me, mum; but what he wants -
Asa Hurry up, old hoss!
Binny He calls me a 'oss, Miss, I suppose I shall be a hox next, or
perhaps an 'ogg.
Asa Wal, darn me if you ain't the consarnedest old shoat I ever did see
since I was baptized Asa Trenchard.
Flo Ah! then it is our American cousin. Glad to see you - my brother told
us to expect you.
Asa Wal, yes, I guess you do b'long to my family. I'm Asa Trenchard,
born in Vermont, suckled on the banks of Muddy Creek, about the tallest
gunner, the slickest dancer, and generally the loudest critter in the
state. You're my cousin, be you? Wal, I ain't got no objections to kiss
you, as one cousin ought to kiss another.
Ver Sir, how dare you?
Asa Are you one of the family? Cause if you ain't, you've got no right
to interfere, and if you be, you needn't be alarmed, I ain't going to
kiss you. Here's your young man's letter. [Gives letter and attempts to
Flo In the old country, Mr. Trenchard, cousins content themselves with
hands, but our hearts are with them. You are welcome, there is mine.
[Gives her hand, which he shakes heartily.]
Asa That'll do about as well. I won't kiss you if you don't want me to;
but if you did, I wouldn't stop on account of that sailor man. [Business
of Vernon threatening Asa.] Oh! now you needn't get your back up. What
an all-fired chap you are. Now if you'll have me shown to my room, I
should like to fix up a bit and put on a clean buzzom. [All start.] Why,
what on earth is the matter with you all? I only spoke because you're so
all-fired go-to-meeting like.
Flo Show Mr. Trenchard to the red room, Mr. Binny, that is if you are
done with it, Mr. Dundreary.
Dun Yeth, Miss Florence. The room and I have got through with each
[Asa and Dundreary see each other for the first time. Business of
recognition, ad. lib.]
Asa Concentrated essence of baboons, what on earth is that?
Dun He's mad. Yes, Miss Florence, I've done with that room. The rooks
crowed so that they racked my brain.
Asa You don't mean to say that you've got any brains.
Dun No, sir, such a thing never entered my head. The wed indians want to
scalp me. [Holding hands to his head.]
Flo The red room, then, Mr. Binny.
Asa [To Binny.] Hold on! [Examines him.] Wal, darn me, but you keep your
help in all-fired good order here. [Feels of him.] This old shoat is fat
enough to kill. [Hits Binny in stomach. Binny runs off, L. 2 E.] Mind
how you go up stairs, old hoss, or you'll bust your biler. [Exit, L. 3
Dun Now he thinks Binny's an engine and has got a boiler.
Flo Oh, what fun!
Mrs M Old Mark Trenchard died very rich, did he not, Florence?
Flo Very rich, I believe.
Aug He's not at all romantic, is he, mamma?
Mrs M [Aside to her] My dear, I have no doubt he has solid good
qualities, and I don't want you to laugh at him like Florence Trenchard.
Aug No, mamma, I won't.
Flo But what are we to do with him?
Dun Ha! Ha! ha!
All What is the matter?
Dun I've got an idea.
Flo Oh! let's hear Dundreary's idea.
Dun It's so seldom I get an idea that when I do get one it startles me.
Let us get a pickle bottle.
Flo Pickle bottle! [All come down.]
Dun Yeth; one of those things with glass sides.
Enter Asa, L. 2 E.
Flo Oh! you mean a glass case.
Dun Yeth, a glass case, that's the idea, and let us put this Mr. Thomas
Hawk in it, and have him on exhibition. That's the idea.
Asa [Down L. of Florence, overhearing.] Oh! that's your idea, is it?
Wal, stranger, I don't know what they're going to do with me, but
wherever they do put me, I hope it will be out of the reach of a
jackass. I'm a real hoss, I am, and I get kinder riley with those
Dun Now he thinks he's a horse. I've heard of a great jackass, and I
dreampt of a jackass, but I don't believe there is any such insect.
Flo Well, cousin, I hope you made yourself comfortable.
Asa Well, no, I can't say as I did. You see there was so many all-fired
fixins in my room I couldn't find anything I wanted.
Flo What was it you couldn't find in your room?
Asa There as no soft soap.
De B Soft soap!
Aug Soft soap!
Ver Soft soap!
Mrs M Soft soap!
Flo Soft soap!
Geo [On sofa.] Soft soap!
Dun Thoft thoap?
Asa Yes, soft soap. I reckon you know what that is. However, I struck a
pump in the kitchen, slicked my hair down a little, gave my boots a lick
of grease, and now I feel quite handsome; but I'm everlastingly dry.
Flo You'll find ale, wine and luncheon on the side-table.
Asa Wal, I don't know as I've got any appetite. You see comin' along on
the cars I worried down half a dozen ham sandwiches, eight or ten boiled
eggs, two or three pumpkin pies and a string of cold sausages - and - Wal,
I guess I can hold on till dinner-time.
Dun Did that illustrious exile eat all that? I wonder where he put it?
Asa I'm as dry as a sap-tree in August.
Binny [Throwing open, E. D.] Luncheon!
Asa [Goes hastily up to table.] Wal, I don't want to speak out too
plain, but this is an awful mean set out for a big house like this.
Flo Why, what's wrong, sir?
Asa Why, there's no mush!
Asa Nary slapjack.
Dun Why, does he want Mary to slap Jack?
Asa No pork and beans!
Dun Pork's been here, but he's left.
Asa And where on airth's the clam chowder?
Dun Where _is_ clam chowder? He's never here when he's wanted.
Asa [Drinks and spits.] Here's your health, old hoss. Do you call that