CHARACTERS OF THE COMEDY
Cyril, his Son (Viscount Aprile)
Sir Digby Soame
Charles Mandeville, a tenor
Mr. Banish, a banker
The Hon. Arthur Featherleigh
Mr. Samuel Benjamin, a money-lender
Julia, an heiress
The Hon. Mrs. Howard de Trappe, her mother, a widow
Sarah Sparrow, an American prima donna
Act I SCENE— The Library
in Lord Doldrummond’s house at Brighton.
The scene represents a richly-furnished but somewhat oppressive
room. The chairs and tables are all narrow, the lamp-shades
stiff, the windows have double glasses. Lord Doldrummond, a
man of middle-age, handsome, but with a dejected, browbeaten
air, sits with a rug over his knees, reading “The Church Times.”
The Butler announces “Sir Digby Soame.” Sir Digby is
thin and elderly ; has an easy smile and a sharp eye ; dresses
well ; has two manners—the abrupt with men, the suave with
women , smiles into his beard over his own witticisms.
Ah, Soame, so you are here at last ?
[Looking at his watch.
] I am pretty punctual, only a few
I am worried, anxious, irritable, and that has made the time seem long.
Worried, anxious ? And what about ? Are you not
well ? Have you found that regularity of life ruins the constitu-
No, my dear Soame, no. But I am willing to
that the existence which my wife enjoys, and which I have learnt
to endure, would not suit every one.
I am glad to find you more tolerant. You used to hold
the very harshest and most crude opinions. I remember when we
were boys, I could never persuade you to accept the admirable
doctrine that a reformed rake makes the best husband !
does not require so large an
income as folly ! This may explain that paradox. You know, in
young, whereas you entered the Diplomatic Service and resolved
to remain single : you wished to study women. I have lived with
one for five-and-twenty years. [Sighs.]
Oh, I admit at once that yours is the greater achievement
and was the more daring ambition.
I know all I wish to know about women, but men
puzzle me extremely. So I have sent for you. I want your
advice. It is Cyril who is the cause of my uneasiness. I am
afraid that he is not happy.
Cyril not happy ? What is he unhappy about
have never refused him anything ?
Never ! No man has had a kinder father ! When
he is unreasonable I merely say “You are a fool, but please your-
self !” No man has had a kinder father !
Does he complain ?
He has hinted that his home is uncongenial —yet
we have an excellent cook ! Ah, thank heaven every night and
morning, my dear Digby, that you are a bachelor. Praying
for sinners and breeding them would seem the whole duty of
man. I was no sooner born than my parents were filled with
uneasiness lest I should not live to marry and beget an heir of my
own. Now I have an heir, his mother will never know peace
until she has found him a wife !
And will you permit Lady Doldrummond to use
same method with Cyril which your mother adopted with such
appalling results in your own case ?
It does not seem my place to interfere, and love-
affairs are not a fit subject of conversation between father and
But what does Cyril say to the matrimonial prospect ?
He seems melancholy and eats nothing but oranges.
Yes, Cyril is a source of great uneasiness.
Does Lady Doldrummond share this uneasiness ?
My wife would regard a second thought on any
subject as a most dangerous form of temptation. She insists that
Cyril has everything which a young man could desire, and when
he complains that the house is dull, she takes him for a drive !
But you understand him ?
I think I do. If I were young again —
Ah, you regret ! I always said you would regret it if you
did not take your fling ! The pleasures we imagine are so much
more alluring, so much more dangerous, than those we experience.
I suppose you recognise in Cyril the rascal you might have been,
and feel that you have missed your vocation ?
[Meekly.] I was never
unruly, my dear Soame. We
all have our moments, I own, yet — well, perhaps Cyril has
inherited the tastes which I possessed at his age, but lacked the
courage to obey.
And so you wish me to advise you how to deal with
him ! Is he in love ? I have constantly observed that when
young men find their homes unsympathetic, it is because some
particular lady does not form a member of the household. It is
usually a lady, too, who would not be considered a convenient
addition to any mother’s visiting-list !
Lady Doldrummond has taught him that women
are the scourges of creation. You, perhaps, do not share that
Certainly not. I would teach him to regard them as the
reward, the compensation, the sole delight of this dreariest of all
Compensation! Delight! I
upsettting ? Pray do not use such extreme terms !
Ha ! ha ! But tell me, Doldrummond, is it
your wife insists on his retiring at eleven and rising at eight ?
I hear that she allows him nothing stronger than ginger ale and
lemon ; that she selects his friends, makes his engagements, and
superintends his amusements ? Should he marry, I am told she
will even undertake the office of best man !
Poor soul ! she means well ; and if devotion could
make the boy a saint he would have been in heaven before he was
out of his long clothes. As it is, I fear that nothing can save him.
Save him ? You speak as though you suspected that he
was not such a saint as his mother thinks him.
I suspect nothing. I only know that my boy is
unhappy. You might speak to him, and draw him out if occasion
should offer but do not say a word about this to Lady Dol-
woman. Her hair is brown, and brushed back from her temples
In the simplest possible fashion. Self-satisfaction (of a gentle
and ladylike sort) and eminent contentment with her lot are the
only writings on her smooth, almost girlish countenance. She
has a prim tenderness and charm of manner which soften her
rather cutting voice. ]
What ! Cyril not here ? How do you do,
Digby ? I am looking for my tiresome boy. I promised to take
him to pay some calls this afternoon, and as he may have to talk I
must tell him what to say. He has no idea of making himself
pleasant to women, and is the shyest creature in the world !
You have always been so careful to shield him from all
what decision, what energy he might display, if you did not
possess these gifts in so pre-eminent a degree as to make any
exertion on his part unnecessary, and perhaps disrespectful.
Ah ! mothers are going out of fashion. Even Cyril
occasionally shows a certain impatience when I venture to correct
him. As if I would hurt any one’s feelings unless from a sense
of duty ! And pray, where is the pleasure of having a son if you
may not direct his life ?
Cyril might ask, where is the pleasure of
parents if you may not disobey them.
[To Soame.] When
Herbert is alone with me he
never makes flippant remarks of this kind. [To Lord Doldrum-
mond.] I wonder that you like to give your friends such a wrong
impression of your character. [Turning to Sir Digby.] But I
think I see your drift, Sir Digby. You wish to remind me that
Cyril is now at an age when I must naturally desire to see him
established in a home of his own.
You have caught my meaning. As he is now two-and-
twenty, I think he should be allowed more freedom than may have
been expedient when he was—say, six months old.
I quite agree with you, and I trust you will convince
Herbert that women understand young men far better than
their fathers ever could. I have found the very wife for Cyril,
and I hope I may soon have the pleasure of welcoming her as a
A wife ! Good heavens ! I was suggesting that the
boy had more liberty. Marriage is the prison of all emotions, and
I should be very sorry to ask any young girl to be a man’s gaol-
Sir Digby is right.
The presence of a third person has the strangest
effect on Herbert’s moral vision. As I have trained my son with
a care and tenderness rarely bestowed nowadays even on a girl, I
think I may show some resentment when I am asked to believe
him a being with the instincts of a ruffian and the philosophy of
a middle-aged bachelor. No, Sir Digby, Cyril is not my child if
he does not make his home and his family the happiest in the
He has no taste for cards, horses, brandy, or actresses.
We read together, walk together, and drive together. In the
evening, if he is too tired to engage in conversation, I play the
piano while he dozes. Lately he has taken a particular interest in
Mozart’s classic light opera. Any interest of that kind is so
elevating, and I know of nothing more agreeable than a musical
You see she is resolved on his marriage, and she has
had Julia de Trappe on a visit with us for the last five weeks in
the hope of bringing matters to a crisis.
And why not ? Our marriage was arranged for
us, and what idle fancies of our own could have led to such perfect
Julia de Trappe? She must be the daughter
Mrs. Howard de Trappe who gives large At Homes in a small
house, and who spends her time hunting for old lovers and new
I own that dear Julia has been allowed to
and women who are not fit companions for a young girl, no
matter how interesting they may be to the general public. Only
ville, the tenor. Mrs. de Trappe, it seems, frequently invites him
to dinner. Still, Julia herself is very sensible, and the family is of
But the mother ? If she has not been in the divorce
court, it is through no fault of her own.
[Biting her lip.]Mrs. de Trappe is vain and silly, I
admit; but as she has at last decided to marry Mr. Banish, the
banker, I am hoping she will live in his house at Hampstead, and
think a little more about her immortal soul.
Does Cyril seem at all interested in Miss Julia?
Cyril has great elegance of mind, and is
strong in the expression of his feelings one way or the other.
But I may say that a deep attachment exists between them.
A man must have sound wisdom before he can appre-
ciate innocence. But I have no desire to be discouraging, and I
hope I may soon have the pleasure of congratulating you all on
the wedding. Good-bye.
What ! Must you go ?
Yes. But [aside to Lord
Dol.] I shall bear in mind
what you say. I will do my best. I have an engagement in
town to-night. [Chuckles.] An amusing one.
[With envy.] Where ?
At the Parnassus.
[With a supercilious
smile.] And what is the Par-
A theatre much favoured by young men who wish to
be thought wicked, and by young ladies who are. Good-bye,
good-bye. [ Shakes hands with Lord and Lady Doldrummond and
Thank goodness, he is gone ! What a terrible
come in. Soame has just those meretricious attractions which
appeal to youth and inexperience. That you should encourage
such an acquaintance, and even discuss before him such an
intimate matter as my hope with regard to Julia, is, perhaps, more
painful than astonishing.
They are both too young to marry. Let them
enjoy life while they may.
Enjoy life ? What a degrading suggestion ! I have
often observed that there is a lurking taste for the vicious in every
Doldrummond. [Picking up Cyril’s miniature from the table.]
Cyril is pure Bedingfield : my second self!
Mr. Banish. Mrs. de Trappe is a pretty woman with big
eyes and a small waist ; she has a trick of biting her under-lip,
and looking shocked, as it were, at her own audacity. Her
manner is a little effusive, but always well-bred. She does not
seem affected, and has something artless, confiding, and pathetic.
Mr. Featherleigh has a nervous laugh and a gentlemanly appear-
ance ; otherwise inscrutable. Mr. Banish is old, well-preserved,
rather pompous, and evidently mistakes deportment for dignity.]
Mrs. de Trappe.
[Kissing Lady Dol. on each cheek.] Dear Edith,
I knew we should surprise you. But Mr. Banish and I are
house-hunting, and I thought I must run in and see you and
Julia, if only for a second. I felt sure you would not mind my
bringing Arthur [indicating Featherleigh]. He is so lonely at the
prospect of my marriage that Mr. Banish and I have promised to
keep him always with us. We have known each other so long.
How should we spend our evenings without him ? James admits
they would be tedious, don’t you, James? [Indicating Banish.]
Certainly, my dear.
[Stiffly] I can well
understand that you have
learned to regard Mr. Featherleigh as your own son. And
as we advance in years, it is so pleasant to have young people
Mrs. de Trappe.
[After a slight pause.]
How odd that it should
never have struck me in that light before ! I have always thought
of Arthur as the trustee, as it were, of my poor fatherless Julia
[To Banish.] Have I not often said so, James?
[Dryly.] Often. In fact
I have always thought that
Julia would never lack a father whilst Arthurwas alive. But I
admit that he is a little young for the responsibility.
[Unmoved.] Do not
forget, Violet, that our train
leaves in fifty-five minutes.
[Catching a desperate glance
from Lady Doldrum-
mond.] Then I shall have time to show you the Russian poodles
which the Duke of Camdem brought me from Japan.
Mrs. de Trappe.
please take them away.
[Waving her hand in the direction of Banish and Featherleigh.]
Edith and I have many secrets to discuss. Of course she will tell
you [to Lord Dol.] everything I have said when we are gone,
and I shall tell Arthur and James all she has said as we go home.
But it is so amusing to think ourselves mysterious for twenty
minutes. [As the men go out laughing, she turns to Lady Doldrummond
with a sigh.] Ah, Edith, when I pause in all these gaieties and
say to myself, Violet, you are about to marry a second husband, I
cannot feel sufficiently thankful that it is not the third.
The third ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
To face the possibility of a third honeymoon,
a third disappointment, and a third funeral would tax my courage
to the utmost ! And I am not strong.
I am shocked to see you so despondent. Surely you
anticipate every happiness with Mr. Banish?
Mrs. de Trappe.
Oh, yes. He has money, and Arthur thinks
him a very worthy sort of person. He is a little dull, but then
middle-class people are always so gross in their air when they
attempt to be lively or amusing ; so long as they are grave I can
bear them well enough, but I know of nothing so unpleasant as
the sight of a banker laughing. As Arthur says, City men and
butlers should always be serious.
Do you think that the world will quite understand —
Mrs. de Trappe.
What do you mean, Edith? A woman must
have an adviser. Arthur was my late husband’s friend, and he is
my future husband’s friend. Surely that should be enough to
satisfy the most exacting.
But why marry at all ? why not remain as you are ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
How unreasonable you are, Edith! How often
have you urged me to marry Mr. Banish, and now that it is all
arranged and Arthur is satisfied, you begin to object.
I thought that you liked Mr. Banish better.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Better than Arthur? No, I am not so unkind
as that, nor would James wish it. I am marrying because I am
poor. My husband, as you know, left nearly all his money to
Julia, and I feel the injustice so acutely that the absurd settlement
he made on me is spent upon doctor’s bills alone. If it were not
for Arthur and one or two other kind friends who send me game
and other little things from time to time, I could not exist at all.
[Draws off her gloves, displays a diamond ring on each finger, and
wipes her eyes with a point-lace pocket-handkerchief. ] And when I
think of all that I endured with De Trappe! How often have I been
roused from a sound sleep to see the room illuminated and De
kindly Light.” What an existence ! But now tell me about
Julia. I hope she does not give you much trouble.
I only hope that I may keep her always with me.
Mrs. de Trappe.
How she must have improved ! When she is
at home I find her so depressing. And she does not appeal to
men in the least.
I could wish that all young girls were as modest.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Oh, I daresay Julia has all the qualities
to see in some other woman’s daughter. But if you were her
mother and had to find her a husband, you would regard her virtues
in another light. Fortunately she has eight thousand a year, so
she may be able to find somebody. Still, even money does not
tempt men as it once did. A girl must have an extraordinary
charm. She is so jealous of me. I cannot keep her out of the
drawing-room when I have got callers, especially when Mr.
Mandeville is there.
I have heard of Mr. Mandeville. He is an
Mrs. de Trappe.
A lovely tenor voice. All the women are in
love with him, except me. I would not listen to him. And now
they say he is going to marry Sarah Sparrow— a great mistake. I
should like to know who would care about him or his singing,
once he is married.
And who is Sarah Sparrow?
Mrs. de Trappe.
Don’t you know ? She is the last great
success. She has two notes : B flat and the lower G— the
orchestra plays the rest. You must go to the Parnassus and hear
her. To-night is the dress rehearsal of the new piece.
And do you receive Miss Sparrow?
Mrs. de Trappe.
No, women take up too much time. They
come and practise in my boudoir. He says no one can accom-
pany him as I do !
I hope Cyril does not meet Mr. Mandeville when he
goes to your house.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Let me see. I believe I introduced them.
At any rate, I know I saw them at luncheon together last week.
At luncheon together ! Cyriland this person
sings ? What could my boy and Mr. Mandevillehave in common ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
They both appear to admire Sarah Sparrow
very much. And I cannot find what men see in her. She is not
tall and her figure is most innocent ; you would say she was still
in pinafores. As for her prettiness, I admit she has fine eyes, but
of course she blackens them. I think the great attraction is her
atrocious temper. One never knows whom she will stab next.
[Half to herself.] Last
week Cyril came in after
midnight. He refused to answer my questions.
Mrs. de Trappe.
You seem absent-minded, my dear Edith.
[Pause.] I must be going now. Where are Arthur and James?
We have not a moment to lose. We are going to choose wedding
presents. James is going to choose Arthur’s and Arthur is going
to choose James’s, so there can be no jealousy. It was I who
thought of that way out of the difficulty. One does one’s best to
be nice to them, and then something happens and upsets all one’s
plans. Where is Cyril?
I am afraid Cyril is not at home.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Then I shall not see him. Tell him I am
angry, and give my love to Julia. I hope she does not disturb
you when you are in the drawing-room and have visitors. So
difficult to keep a grown-up girl out of the drawing-room. Where
can those men be ? [Enter Lord Doldrummond, Mr. Feather-
along ; we haven’t a moment to lose. Good-bye, Edith. [Exeunt (after wishing their adieux) Mrs. de Trappe, Mr.
Featherleigh, and Mr. Banish, Lord Doldrummond
[Stands alone in the middle of the
Cyril and— Sarah Sparrow! My son and Sarah Sparrow! And
he has met her through the one woman for whom I have
been wrong enough to forget my prejudices. What a punish-
escapes the terrible charge of sublimity. But there is a certain
peevishness in her expression which adds a comfortable smack of
human nature to her classic features.]
I thought mamma would never go. I have been hiding
in your boudoir ever since I heard she was here.
Was Cyril with you ?
Oh, no ; he has gone out for a walk.
Tell me, dearest, have you and Cyril had
agreement lately ? Is there any misunderstanding ?
Oh, no. [Sighs.]
I remember quite well that before I married Herbert
he often suffered from the oddest moods of depression. Several
times he entreated me to break off the engagement. His affection
was so reverential that he feared he was not worthy of me. I
assure you I had the greatest difficulty in overcoming his scruples,
and persuading him that whatever his faults were I could help him
to subdue them.
But Cyril and I are not engaged. It is all
Men take these things for granted. If the truth
were known, I daresay he already regards you as his wife.
[With an inspired air.]
Perhaps that is why he treats
me so unkindly. I have often thought that if he were my
husband he could not be more disagreeable ! He has not a word
for me when I speak to him. He does not hear. Oh, Lady
Doldrummond, I know what is the matter. He is in love, but I
am not the one. You are all wrong.
No, no, no. He loves you ; I am sure of it. Only
be patient with him and it will come all right. Hush ! is that his
step ? Stay here, darling, and I will go into my room and write
letters. [Exit, brushing the tears from her eyes.]
who has gone to the window.]
His Lordship will be down in half an hour, sir. He is
now having his hair brushed.
[In surprise as she looks
round. ]Mr. Mandeville!
I hardly expected to meet you here.
And why, may I ask ?
You know what Lady Doldrummond is. How did
overcome her scruples ?
Is my reputation then so very bad ?
You — you are supposed to be rather dangerous. You
sing on the stage, and have a tenor voice.
Is that enough to make a man dangerous ?
How can I tell ? But mamma said you were invincible.
You admire mamma, of course. [Sighs.]
A charming woman, Mrs. de Trappe. A
interesting woman ; so sympathetic.
But she said she would not listen to you.
The Yellow Book Vol. I. Q
Did she say that ? [A slight pause.] I hope you
will not be angry when I own that I do not especially admire your
mother. A quarter of a century ago she may have had consider-
able attractions, but— are you offended ?
Offended ? Oh, no. Only it seems strange. I thought
that all men admired mamma. [Pause.] You have not told me
yet how you made Lady Doldrummond’s acquaintance.
I am here at Lord Aprile’s invitation. He
decided that he feels no further need of Lady Doldrummond’s
Oh, Mr. Mandeville, are you teaching him to
But you will agree with me that a young man
cannot make his mother a kind of scribbling diary ?
Still, if he spends his time well, there does not seem to
be any reason why he should refuse to say where he dines when he
is not at home.
Lady Doldrummond holds such peculiar ideas
would find immorality in a sofa-cushion. If she were to know
that Cyril is coming with me to the dress rehearsal of our new
It would break her heart. And Lord
would be indignant. Mamma says his own morals are so excellent !
Is he an invalid ?
Certainly not. Why do you ask ?
Whenever I hear of a charming husband I always
think that he must be an invalid. But as for morals, there can be no
harm in taking Cyril to a dress rehearsal. If you do not wish him
to go, however, I can easily say that the manager does not care to
have strangers present. [Pause.] Afterwards there is to be a
ball at Miss Sparrow’s.
Is Cyril going there, too ?
I believe that he has an invitation, but I will
persuade him to refuse it, if you would prefer him to remain at
You are very kind, Mr. Mandeville, but it
is a matter of
indifference to me where Lord Aprile goes.
Perhaps I ought not to have mentioned this to
[Annoyed.] It does not
make the least difference. In
fact, I am delighted to think that you are taking Cyril out into
the world. He is wretched in this house. [With heroism.] I am
glad to think that he knows any one so interesting and clever and
beautiful as Sarah Sparrow. I suppose she would be considered
[With a profound
glance.] One can forget her—
Perhaps— when I am as old as she is—
I shall be prettier than I am at present.
You always said you liked my voice. We never
see anything of each other now. I once thought that— well—
that you might like me better. Are you sure you are not angry
with me because I am taking Cyril to this rehearsal ?
Quite sure. Why should I care where Cyril
only wish that I, too, might go to the theatre to-night. What
part do you play ? And what do you sing ? A serenade ?
[Astounded.] Yes. How
on earth did you guess
that ? The costume is, of course, picturesque, and that is the great
thing in an opera. A few men can sing— after a fashion— but to
find the right clothes to sing in — that shows the true artist.
And Sarah; does she look her part ?
Well, I do not like to say anything against her,
Perdrigonde. Ah ! if you were on the stage, Miss de Trappe!
You have just the exquisite charm, the grace, the majesty of
bearing which, in the opinion of those who have never been to
Court, is the peculiar distinction of women accustomed to the
Oh, I should like to be an actress !
No ! no ! I spoke selfishly— if you only acted
with me, it would be different ; but— but I could not bear to see
another man making love to you— another man holding your hand
and singing into your eyes— and— and— Oh, this is madness.
You must not listen to me.
I am not— angry, but— you must never again say things
which you do not mean. If I thought you were untruthful it
would make me so —so miserable. Always tell me the truth.
[Holds out her hand.]
You are very beautiful ![She drops her eyes, smiles, and wanders unconsciously to the
[Lady Doldrummond suddenly enters from the boudoir, and Cyril
from the middle door. Cyril is handsome, but his features have
that delicacy and his expression that pensiveness which promise
artistic longings and domestic disappointment.]
[Cordially and in a state of
suppressed excitement.] Oh,
mother, this is my friend Mandeville. You have heard me men-
tion him ?
I do not remember, but—
When I promised to go out with you this afternoon, I
forgot that I had another engagement. Mandeville has been kind
enough to call for me,
Another engagement, Cyril?[Lord Doldrummond enters and comes down, anxiously looking from
one to the other.]
Father, this is my friend Mandeville. We
to go up to town this afternoon.
[Calmly.] What time
shall I send the carriage to the
station for you ? The last train usually arrives about —
I shall not return to-night. I intend to stay in town.
Mandeville will put me up.
And where are you going ?
He is coming to our dress rehearsal of the “Dandy
and the Dancer.”
At the Parnassus. [Lord and Lady Doldrummond
exchange horrified glances] I daresay you have never heard of the
place, but it amuses me to go there, and I must learn life for
myself. I am two-and-twenty, and it is not extraordinary that I
should wish to be my own master. I intend to have chambers of
my own in town.
Surely you have every liberty in this house ?
If you leave us, you will leave the rooms in which
your mother has spent every hour of her life, since the day you
were born, planning and improving. Must all her care and
thought go for nothing ? The silk hangings in your bedroom she
worked with her own hands. There is not so much as a pen-
wiper in your quarter of the house which she did not choose with
the idea of giving you one more token of her affection.
I am not ungrateful, but I cannot see much of the world
through my mother’s embroidery. As you say, I have every
comfort here. I may gorge at your expense and snore on your
pillows and bully your servants, I can do everything, in fact, but
quite frigid.] [Footman enters.]
The dog-cart is at the door, my lord.
You think it well over and you will see that I am
perfectly right. Come on, Mandeville, we shall miss the train.
Make haste : there is no time to be polite. [He goes out, dragging
Mandeville after him, and ignoring Julia.]
Was that my son ? I am ashamed of him ! To
desert us in this rude, insolent, heartless manner. If I had
whipped him more and loved him less, he would not have been
leaving me to lodge with a God knows who. I disown him !
The fool !
If you have anything to say, blame me ! Cyril has
the noblest heart in the world ; I am the fool.
Hobbes, John Oliver and George Moore. “The Fool’s Hour.” The Yellow Book, vol. 1, April 1894, pp. 253-72. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/YBV1_moore_foolshour