Infomotions, Inc.Press Cuttings / Shaw, George Bernard, 1856-1950

Author: Shaw, George Bernard, 1856-1950
Title: Press Cuttings
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): mitchener; balsquith; lady corinthia; corinthia; banger; farrell; lady; women
Contributor(s): Hogarth, C. J. [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 14,214 words (really short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 66 (easy)
Identifier: etext5723
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Title: Press Cuttings

Author: George Bernard Shaw

Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5723]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on August 17, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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Etext prepared by Eve Sobol, South Bend, Indiana, USA

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The edition from which this etext was taken
lacks contractions, so it reads dont for don't and Ill for I'll, for
example. The play has been reproduced exactly as printed.


Bernard Shaw


The forenoon of the first of April, 1911.

General Mitchener is at his writing table in the War Office,
opening letters. On his left is the fireplace, with a fire
burning. On his right, against the opposite wall is a standing
desk with an office stool. The door is in the wall behind him,
half way between the table and the desk. The table is not quite
in the middle of the room: it is  nearer to the hearthrug than to
the desk. There is a chair at each end of it for persons having
business with the general. There is a telephone on the table.
Long silence.

A VOICE OUTSIDE. Votes for Women!

The General starts convulsively; snatches a revolver from a
drawer, and listens in an agony of apprehension. Nothing happens.
He puts the revolver back, ashamed; wipes his brow; and resumes
his work. He is startled afresh by the entry of an Orderly. This
Orderly is an unsoldierly, slovenly, discontented young man.

MITCHENER. Oh, it's only you. Well?

THE ORDERLY. Another one, sir. Shes chained herself.

MITCHENER. Chained herself? How? To what? Weve taken away the
railings and everything that a chain can be passed through.

THE ORDERLY. We forgot the doorscraper, sir. She laid down on the
flags and got the chain through before she started hollerin. Shes
lying there now; and she says that youve got the key of the
padlock in a letter in a buff envelope, and that you will see her
when you open it.

MITCHENER. Shes mad. Have the scraper dug up and let her go home
with it hanging round her neck.

THE ORDERLY. Theres a buff envelope there, sir.

MITCHENER. Youre all afraid of these women (picking the letter
up). It does seem to have a key in it. (He opens the letter, and
takes out a key and a note.) "Dear Mitch"--Well, I'm dashed!


MITCHENER. What do you mean by Yes Sir?

THE ORDERLY. Well, you said you was dashed, Sir; and you did look
if youll excuse my saying it, Sir--well, you looked it.

MITCHENER (who has been reading the letter, and is too astonished
to attend to the Orderlys reply). This is a letter from the Prime
Minister asking me to release the woman with this key if she
padlocks herself, and to have her shown up and see her at once.

THE ORDERLY (tremulously). Dont do it, governor.

MITCHENER (angrily). How often have I ordered you not to address
me as governor. Remember that you are a soldier and not a vulgar
civilian. Remember also that when a man enters the army he leaves
fear behind him. Heres the key. Unlock her and show her up.

THE ORDERLY. Me unlock her! I dursent. Lord knows what she'd do
to me.

MITCHENER (pepperily, rising). Obey your orders instantly, Sir,
and dont presume to argue. Even if she kills you, it is your duty
to die for your country. Right about face. March. (The Orderly
goes out, trembling.)

THE VOICE OUTSIDE. Votes for Women! Votes for Women! Votes for

MITCHENER (mimicking her). Votes for Women! Votes for Women!
Votes for Women! (in his natural voice) Votes for children! Votes
for babies! Votes for monkeys! (He posts himself on the
hearthrug, and awaits the enemy.)

THE ORDERLY (outside). In you go. (He pushes a panting Suffraget
into the room.) The person sir. (He withdraws.)

The Suffraget takes off her tailor made skirt and reveals a pair
of fashionable trousers.

MITCHENER (horrified). Stop, madam. What are you doing? You must
not undress in my presence. I protest. Not even your letter from
the Prime Minister--

THE SUFFRAGET. My dear Mitchener: I AM the Prime Minister. (He
tears off his hat and cloak; throws them on the desk; and
confronts the General in the ordinary costume of a Cabinet

MITCHENER. Good heavens! Balsquith!

BALSQUITH (throwing himself into Mitchener's chair). Yes: it is
indeed Balsquith. It has come to this: that the only way that the
Prime Minister of England can get from Downing Street to the War
Office is by assuming this disguise; shrieking "VOTES for Women";
and chaining himself to your doorscraper. They were at the corner
in force. They cheered me. Bellachristina herself was there. She
shook my hand and told me to say I was a vegetarian, as the diet
was better in Holloway for vegetarians.

MITCHENER. Why didnt you telephone?

BALSQUITH. They tap the telephone. Every switchboard in London is
in their hands or in those of their young men.

MITCHENER. Where on Earth did you get that dress?

BALSQUITH. I stole it from a little Exhibition got up by my wife
in Downing Street.

MITCHENER. You dont mean to say its a French dress?

BALSQUITH. Great Heavens, no. My wife isnt allowed even to put on
her gloves with French chalk. Everything labelled Made in
Camberwell. She advised me to come to you. And what I have to say
must be said here to you personally, in the most intimate
confidence, with the most urgent persuasion. Mitchener: Sandstone
has resigned.

MITCHENER (amazed). Old Red resigned!

BALSQUITH. Resigned.

MITCHENER. But how? Why? Oh, impossible! the proclamation of
martial law last Tuesday made Sandstone virtually Dictator in the
metropolis, and to resign now is flat desertion.

BALSQUITH. Yes, yes, my dear Mitchener; I know all that as well
as you do: I argued with him until I was black in the face and he
so red about the neck that if I had gone on he would have burst.
He is furious because we have abandoned his plan.

MITCHENER. But you accepted it unconditionally.

BALSQUITH. Yes, before we knew what it was. It was unworkable,
you know.

MITCHENER. I dont know. Why is it unworkable?

BALSQUITH. I mean the part about drawing a cordon round
Westminster at a distance of two miles; and turning all women out
of it.

MITCHENER. A masterpiece of strategy. Let me explain. The
Suffragets are a very small body; but they are numerous enough to
be troublesome--even dangerous--when they are all concentrated in
one place--say in Parliament Square. But by making a two-mile
radius and pushing them beyond it, you scatter their attack over
a circular line twelve miles long. A superb piece of tactics.
Just what Wellington would have done.

BALSQUITH. But the women wont go.

MITCHENER. Nonsense: they must go.

BALSQUITH. They wont.

MITCHENER. What does Sandstone say?

BALSQUITH. He says: Shoot them down.

MITCHENER. Of course.

BALSQUITH. Youre not serious?

MITCHENER. Im perfectly serious.

BALSQUITH. But you cant shoot them down! Women, you know!

MITCHENER (straddling confidently). Yes you can. Strange as it
may seem to you as a civilian, Balsquith, if you point a rifle at
a woman and fire it, she will drop exactly as a man drops.

BALSQUITH. But suppose your own daughters--Helen and Georgina.

MITCHENER. My daughters would not dream of disobeying the
proclamation. (As an after thought.) At least Helen wouldnt.

BALSQUITH. But Georgina?

MITCHENER. Georgina would if she knew shed be shot if she didnt.
Thats how the thing would work. Military methods are really the
most merciful in the end. You keep sending these misguided women
to Holloway and killing them slowly and inhumanely by ruining
their health; and it does no good: they go on worse than ever.
Shoot a few, promptly and humanely; and there will be an end at
once of all resistance and of all the suffering that resistance

BALSQUITH. But public opinion would never stand it.

MITCHENER (walking about and laying down the law). Theres no such
thing as public opinion.

BALSQUITH. No such thing as public opinion!!

MITCHENER. Absolutely no such thing as public opinion. There are
certain persons who entertain certain opinions. Well, shoot them
down. When you have shot them down, there are no longer any
persons entertaining those opinions alive: consequently there is
no longer any more of the public opinion you are so much afraid
of. Grasp that fact, my dear Balsquith; and you have grasped the
secret of government. Public opinion is mind. Mind is inseparable
from matter. Shoot down the matter and you kill the mind.

BALSQUITH. But hang it all--

MITCHENER (intolerantly). No I wont hang it all. It's no use
coming to me and talking about public opinion. You have put
yourself into the hands of the army; and you are committed to
military methods. And the basis of all military methods is that
when people wont do what they are told to do, you shoot them

BALSQUITH. Oh, yes; it's all jolly fine for you and Old Red. You
dont depend on votes for your places. What do you suppose will
happen at the next election?

MITCHENER. Have no next election. Bring in a Bill at once
repealing all the reform Acts and vesting the Government in a
properly trained magistracy responsible only to a Council of War.
It answers perfectly in India. If anyone objects, shoot him down.

BALSQUITH. But none of the members of my party would be on the
Council of War. Neither should I. Do you expect us to vote for
making ourselves nobodies?

MITCHENER. You'll have to, sooner or later, or the Socialists
will make nobodies of the lot of you by collaring every penny you
possess. Do you suppose this damned democracy can be allowed to
go on now that the mob is beginning to take it seriously and
using its power to lay hands on property? Parliament must abolish
itself. The Irish parliament voted for its own extinction. The
English parliament will do the same if the same means are taken
to persuade it.

BALSQUITH. That would cost a lot of money.

MITCHENER. Not money necessarily. Bribe them with titles.

BALSQUITH. Do you think we dare?

MITCHENER (scornfully). Dare! Dare! What is life but daring, man?
"To dare, to dare, and again to dare"--


Mitchener, revolver in hand, rushes to the door and locks it.
Balsquith hides under the table.

A shot is heard.

BALSQUITH (emerging in the greatest alarm). Good heavens, you
havent given orders to fire on them have you?

MITCHENER. No; but its a sentinel's duty to fire on anyone who
persists in attempting to pass without giving the word.

BALSQUITH (wiping his brow). This military business is really

MITCHENER. Be calm, Balsquith. These things must happen; they
save bloodshed in the long run, believe me. Ive seen plenty of
it; and I know.

BALSQUITH. I havent; and I dont know. I wish those guns didnt
make such a devil of a noise. We must adopt Maxim's Silencer for
the army rifles if we are going to shoot women. I really couldnt
stand hearing it.

Some one outside tries to open the door and then knocks.


MITCHENER. Whos there?

THE ORDERLY. It's only me, governor. Its all right.

MITCHENER (unlocking the door and admitting the Orderly, who
comes between them). What was it?

THE ORDERLY. Suffraget, Sir.

BALSQUITH. Did the sentry shoot her?

THE ORDERLY. No, Sir: she shot the sentry.

BALSQUITH (relieved). Oh: is that all?

MITCHENER (most indignantly). All? A civilian shoots down one of
His Majesty's soldiers on duty; and the Prime Minister of England
asks Is that all? Have you no regard for the sanctity of human

BALSQUITH (much relieved). Well, getting shot is what a soldier
is for. Besides, he doesnt vote.

MITCHENER. Neither do the Suffragets.

BALSQUITH. Their husbands do. (To the Orderly.) By the way, did
she kill him?

THE ORDERLY. No, Sir. He got a stinger on his trousers, Sir; but
it didnt penetrate. He lost his temper a bit and put down his gun
and clouted her head for her. So she said he was no gentleman;
and we let her go, thinking she'd had enough, Sir.

MITCHENER (groaning). Clouted her head! These women are making
the army as lawless as themselves. Clouted her head indeed! A
purely civil procedure.

THE ORDERLY. Any orders, Sir?

MITCHENER. No. Yes. No. Yes: send everybody who took part in this
disgraceful scene to the guardroom. No. Ill address the men on
the subject after lunch. Parade them for that purpose--full kit.
Don't grin at me, Sir. Right about face. March. (The Orderly
obeys and goes out.)

BALSQUITH (taking Mitchener affectionately by the arm and walking
him persuasively to and fro). And now, Mitchener, will you come
to the rescue of the Government and take the command that Old Red
has thrown up?

MITCHENER. How can I? You know that the people are devoted heart
and soul to Sandstone. He is only bringing you "on the knee," as
we say in the army. Could any other living man have persuaded the
British nation to accept universal compulsory military service as
he did last year? Why, even the Church refused exemption. He is

BALSQUITH. He WAS, a year ago. But ever since your book of
reminiscences went into two more editions than his, and the rush
for it led to the wrecking of the Times Book Club, you have
become to all intents and purposes his senior. He lost ground by
saying that the wrecking was got up by the booksellers. It showed
jealousy: and the public felt it.

MITCHENER. But I cracked him up in my book--you see I could do no
less after the handsome way he cracked me up in his--and I cant
go back on it now. (Breaking loose from Balsquith.) No: its no
use, Balsquith: he can dictate his terms to you.

BALSQUITH. Not a bit of it. That affair of the curate--

MITCHENER (impatiently). Oh, damn that curate. Ive heard of
nothing but that wretched mutineer for a fortnight past. He is
not a curate: whilst he is serving in the army he is a private
soldier and nothing else. I really havent time to discuss him
further. Im busy. Good morning. (He sits down at his table and
takes up his letters.)

BALSQUITH (near the door). I am sorry you take that tone,
Mitchener. Since you do take it, let me tell you frankly that I
think Lieutenant Chubbs-Jenkinson showed a great want of
consideration for the Government in giving an unreasonable and
unpopular order, and bringing compulsory military service into
disrepute. When the leader of the Labor Party appealed to me and
to the House last year not to throw away all the liberties of
Englishmen by accepting universal Compulsory military service
without insisting on full civil rights for the soldier--


BALSQUITH. --I said that no British officer would be capable of
abusing the authority with which it was absolutely necessary to
invest him.

MITCHENER. Quite right.

BALSQUITH. That carried the House and carried the country--

MITCHENER. Naturally.

BALSQUITH. --And the feeling was that the Labor Party were
soulless cads.

MITCHENER. So they are.

BALSQUITH. And now comes this unmannerly young whelp Chubbs-
Jenkinson, the only son of what they call a soda king, and orders
a curate to lick his boots. And when the curate punches his head,
you first sentence him to be shot; and then make a great show of
clemency by commuting it to a flogging. What did you expect the
curate to do?

MITCHENER (throwing down his pen and his letters and jumping up
to confront Balsquith). His duty was perfectly simple. He should
have obeyed the order; and then laid his complaint against the
officer in proper form. He would have received the fullest

BALSQUITH. What satisfaction?

MITCHENER. Chubbs-Jenkinson would have been reprimanded. In fact,
he WAS reprimanded. Besides, the man was thoroughly
insubordinate. You cant deny that the very first thing he did
when they took him down after flogging him was to walk up to
Chubbs-Jenkinson and break his jaw. That showed there was no use
flogging him; so now he will get two years hard labor; and serve
him right.

BALSQUITH. I bet you a guinea he wont get even a week. I bet you
another that Chubbs-Jenkinson apologizes abjectly. You evidently
havent heard the news.

MITCHENER. What news?

BALSQUITH. It turns out that the curate is well connected.
(Mitchener staggers at the shock. Speechless he contemplates
Balsquith with a wild and ghastly stare; then reels into his
chair and buries his face in his hands over the blotter.
Balsquith continues remorselessly, stooping over him to rub it
in.) He has three aunts in the peerage; and Lady Richmond's one
of them; (Mitchener utters a heartrending groan) and they all
adore him. The invitations for six garden parties and fourteen
dances have been cancelled for all the subalterns in Chubbs's
regiment. Is it possible you havent heard of it?

MITCHENER. Not a word.

BALSQUITH (shaking his head). I suppose nobody dared to tell you.
(He sits down carelessly on Mitchener's right.)

MITCHENER. What an infernal young fool Chubbs-Jenkinson is, not
to know the standing of his man better! Why didnt he know? It was
his business to know. He ought to be flogged.

BALSQUITH. Probably he will be, by the other subalterns.

MITCHENER. I hope so. Anyhow, out he goes! Out of the army! He or

BALSQUITH. His father has subscribed a million to the party
funds. We owe him a peerage.

MITCHENER. I dont care.

BALSQUITH. I do. How do you think parties are kept up? Not by the
subscriptions of the local associations, I hope. They dont pay
for the gas at the meetings.

MITCHENER. Man; can you not be serious? Here are we, face to face
with Lady Richmond's grave displeasure; and you talk to me about
gas and subscriptions. Her own nephew.

BALSQUITH (gloomily). Its unfortunate. He was at Oxford with
Bobby Bassborough.

MITCHENER. Worse and worse. What shall we do?

Balsquith shakes his head. They contemplate one another in
miserable silence.

A VOICE WITHOUT. Votes for Women! Votes for Women!

A terrific explosion shakes the building--they take no notice.

MITCHENER (breaking down). You dont know what this means to me,
Balsquith. I love the army. I love my country.

BALSQUITH. It certainly is rather awkward.

The Orderly comes in.

MITCHENER (angrily). What is it? How dare you interrupt us like

THE ORDERLY. Didnt you hear the explosion, Sir?

MITCHENER. Explosion. What explosion? No: I heard no explosion: I
have something more serious to attend to than explosions. Great
Heavens: Lady Richmond's nephew has been treated like any common
laborer; and while England is reeling under the shock a private
comes in and asks me if I heard an explosion.

BALSQUITH. By the way, what was the explosion?

THE ORDERLY. Only a sort of bombshell, Sir.

BALSQUITH. Bombshell!

THE ORDERLY. A pasteboard one, Sir. Full of papers with Votes for
Women in red letters. Fired into the yard from the roof of the
Alliance Office.

MITCHENER. Pooh! Go away. Go away.

The Orderly, bewildered, goes out.

BALSQUITH. Mitchener: you can save the country yet. Put on your
full-dress uniform and your medals and orders and so forth. Get a
guard of honor--something showy--horse guards or something of
that sort; and call on the old girl--

MITCHENER. The old girl?

BALSQUITH. Well, Lady Richmond. Apologize to her. Ask her leave
to accept the command. Tell her that youve made the curate your
adjutant or your aide-de-camp or whatever is the proper thing. By
the way, what can you make him?

MITCHENER. I might make him my chaplain. I dont see why I
shouldnt have a chaplain on my staff. He showed a very proper
spirit in punching that young cub's head. I should have done the
same myself.

BALSQUITH. Then Ive your promise to take command if Lady Richmond

MITCHENER. On condition that I have a free hand. No nonsense
about public opinion or democracy.

BALSQUITH. As far as possible, I think I may say yes.

MITCHENER (rising intolerantly and going to the hearthrug). That
wont do for me. Dont be weak-kneed, Balsquith. You know perfectly
well that the real government of this country is and always must
be the government of the masses by the classes. You know that
democracy is damned nonsense, and that no class stands less of it
than the working class. You know that we are already discussing
the steps that will have to be taken if the country should ever
be face to face with the possibility of a Labor majority in
parliament. You know that in that case we should disfranchise the
mob, and, if they made a fuss, shoot them down. You know that if
we need public opinion to support us, we can get any quantity of
it manufactured in our papers by poor devils of journalists who
will sell their souls for five shillings. You know--

BALSQUITH. Stop. Stop, I say. I dont know. That is the difference
between your job and mine, Mitchener. After twenty years in the
army a man thinks he knows everything. After twenty months in the
Cabinet he knows that he knows nothing.

MITCHENER. We learn from history--

BALSQUITH. We learn from history that men never learn anything
from history. Thats not my own: its Hegel.

MITCHENER. Whos Hegel?

BALSQUITH. Dead. A German philosopher. (He half rises, but
recollects something and sits down again.) Oh confound it: that
reminds me. The Germans have laid down four more Dreadnoughts.

MITCHENER. Then you must lay down twelve.

BALSQUITH. Oh yes: its easy to say that: but think of what theyll

MITCHENER. Think of what it would cost to be invaded by Germany
and forced to pay an indemnity of five hundred millions.

BALSQUITH. But you said that if you got compulsory military
service there would be an end of the danger of invasion.

MITCHENER. On the contrary, my dear fellow, it increases the
danger tenfold, because it increases German jealousy of our
military supremacy.

BALSQUITH. After all, why should the Germans invade us?

MITCHENER. Why shouldnt they? What else has their army to do?
What else are they building a navy for?

BALSQUITH. Well, we never think of invading Germany.

MITCHENER. Yes we do. I have thought of nothing else for the last
ten years. Say what you will, Balsquith, the Germans have never
recognized, and until they get a stern lesson, they never WILL
recognize, the plain fact that the interests of the British
Empire are paramount, and that the command of the sea belongs by
nature to England.

BALSQUITH. But if they wont recognize it, what can I do?

MITCHENER. Shoot them down.

BALSQUITH. I cant shoot them down.

MITCHENER. Yes you can. You dont realize it; but if you fire a
rifle into a German he drops just as surely as a rabbit does.

BALSQUITH But dash it all, man, a rabbit hasnt got a rifle and a
German has. Suppose he shoots you down.

MITCHENER. Excuse me, Balsquith; but that consideration is what
we call cowardice in the army. A soldier always assumes that he
is going to shoot, not to be shot.

BALSQUITH (jumping up and walking about sulkily). Oh come! I like
to hear you military people talking of cowardice. Why, you spend
your lives in an ecstasy of terror of imaginary invasions. I dont
believe you ever go to bed without looking under it for a

MITCHENER (calmly). A very sensible precaution, Balsquith. I
always take it. And in consequence Ive never been burgled.

BALSQUITH. Neither have I. Anyhow dont you taunt me with
cowardice. (He posts himself on the hearthrug beside Mitchener on
his left.) I never look under my bed for a burglar. Im not always
looking under the nation's bed for an invader. And if it comes to
fighting Im quite willing to fight without being three to one.

MITCHENER. These are the romantic ravings of a Jingo civilian,
Balsquith. At least youll not deny that the absolute command of
the sea is essential to our security.

BALSQUITH. The absolute command of the sea is essential to the
security of the principality of Monaco. But Monaco isnt going to
get it.

MITCHENER. And consequently Monaco enjoys no security. What a
frightful thing! How do the inhabitants sleep with the
possibility of invasion, of bombardment, continually present to
their minds? Would you have our English slumbers broken in the
same way? Are we also to live without security?

BALSQUITH (dogmatically). Yes. Theres no such thing as security
in the world: and there never can be as long as men are mortal.
England will be secure when England is dead, just as the streets
of London will be safe when there is no longer a man in her
streets to be run over, or a vehicle to run over him. When you
military chaps ask for security you are crying for the moon.

MITCHENER (very seriously). Let me tell you, Balsquith, that in
these days of aeroplanes and Zeppelin airships, the question of
the moon is becoming one of the greatest importance. It will be
reached at no very distant date. Can you as an Englishman, tamely
contemplate the posssibility of having to live under a German
moon? The British flag must be planted there at all hazards.

BALSQUITH. My dear Mitchener, the moon is outside practical
politics. Id swop it for a cooling station tomorrow with Germany
or any other Power sufficiently military in its way of thinking
to attach any importance to it.

MITCHENER (losing his temper). You are the friend of every
country but your own.

BALSQUITH. Say nobodys enemy but my own. It sounds nicer. You
really neednt be so horribly afraid of the other countries.
Theyre all in the same fix as we are. Im much more interested in
the death rate in Lambeth than in the German fleet.

MITCHENER. You darent say that in Lambeth.

BALSQUITH. Ill say it the day after you publish your scheme for
invading Germany and repealing all the reform Acts.

The Orderly comes in.

MITCHENER. What do you want?

THE ORDERLY. I dont want anything, Governor, thank you. The
secretary and president of the Anti-Suffraget League say they had
an appointment with the Prime Minister, and that theyve been sent
on here from Downing Street.

BALSQUITH (going to the table). Quite right. I forgot them. (To
Mitchener.) Would you mind my seeing them here? I feel
extraordinarily grateful to these women for standing by us and
facing the suffragets, especially as they are naturally the
gentler and timid sort of women. (The Orderly moans.) Did you say


BALSQUITH. Did you catch their names.

THE ORDERLY. Yes, Sir. The president is Lady Corinthia Fanshawe;
and the secretary is Mrs. Banger.

MITCHENER (abruptly). Mrs. what?

THE ORDERLY. Mrs. Banger.

BALSQUITH. Curious that quiet people always seem to have violent

THE ORDERLY. Not much quiet about her, sir.

MITCHENER (outraged). Attention. Speak when youre spoken to. Hold
your tongue when youre not. Right about face. March. (The Orderly
obeys.) Thats the way to keep these chaps up to the mark. (The
Orderly returns.) Back again! What do you mean by this mutiny?

THE ORDERLY. What am I to say to the ladies, sir?

BALSQUITH. You dont mind my seeing them somewhere, do you?

MITCHENER. Not at all. Bring them in to see me when youve done
with them: I understand that Lady Corinthia is a very fascinating
woman. Who is she, by the way?

BALSQUITH. Daughter of Lord Broadstairs, the automatic turbine
man. Gave quarter of a million to the party funds. Shes musical
and romantic and all that--dont hunt: hates politics: stops in
town all the year round: one never sees her anywhere except at
the opera and at musical at-homes and so forth.

MITCHENER. What a life! Still, if she wants to see me I dont
mind. (To the Orderly.) Where are the ladies?

THE ORDERLY. In No. 17, Sir.

MITCHENER. Show Mr. Balsquith there. And send Mrs. Farrell here.

THE ORDERLY (calling into the corridor). Mrs. Farrell! (To
Balsquith.) This way sir. (He goes out with Balsquith.)

Mrs. Farrell, a lean, highly respectable Irish Charwoman
of about 50 comes in.

MITCHENER. Mrs. Farrell: Ive a very important visit to pay: I
shall want my full dress uniform and all my medals and orders and
my presentation sword. There was a time when the British Army
contained men capable of discharging these duties for their
commanding officer. Those days are over. The compulsorily
enlisted soldier runs to a woman for everything. Im therefore
reluctantly obliged to trouble you.

MRS FARRELL. Your meddles n ordhers n the crooked sword with the
ivory handle n your full dress uniform is in the waxworks in the
Chamber o Military Glory over in the place they used to call the
Banquetin Hall. I told you youd be sorry for sendin them away; n
you told me to mind me own business. Youre wiser now.

MITCHENER. I am. I had not at that time discovered that you were
the only person in the whole military establishment of this
capital who could be trusted to remember where anything was, or
to understand an order and obey it.

MRS. FARRELL. Its no good flattherin me. Im too old.

MITCHENER. Not at all, Mrs. Farrell. How is your daughter?

MRS. FARRELL. Which daughther.

MITCHENER. The one who has made such a gratifying success in the
Music Halls.

MRS. FARRELL. Theres no music halls nowadays: theyre Variety
Theatres. Shes got an offer of marriage from a young jook.

MITCHENER. Is it possible? What did you do?

MRS. FARRELL. I told his mother on him.

MITCHENER. Oh! what did she say?

MRS. FARRELL. She was as pleased as Punch. Thank Heaven, she
says, hes got somebody thatll be able to keep him when the
supertax is put up to twenty shillings in the pound.

MITCHENER. But your daughter herself? What did she say?

MRS. FARRELL. Accepted him, of course. What else would a young
fool like her do? He inthrojooced her to the Poet Laureate,
thinking shed inspire him.


MRS. FARRELL. Faith I dunna. All I know is she walked up to him
as bold as brass n said "Write me a sketch, dear." Afther all
the trouble I took with that chills manners shes no more notion
how to behave herself than a pig. Youll have to wear General
Sandstones uniform: its the ony one in the place, because he wont
lend it to the shows.

MITCHENER. But Sandstones clothes wont fit me.

MRS. FARRELL (unmoved). Then youll have to fit THEM. Why shouldnt
they fitcha as well as they fitted General Blake at the Mansion

MITCHENER. They didnt fit him. He looked a frightful guy.

MRS. FARRELL. Well, you must do the best you can with them. You
cant exhibit your clothes and wear them too.

MITCHENER. And the public thinks the lot of a commanding officer
a happy one! Oh, if they could only see the seamy side of it. (He
returns to his table to resume work.)

MRS. FARRELL. If they could only see the seamy side of General
Sandstones uniform, where his flask rubs agen the buckle of his
braces, theyll tell him he ought to get a new one. Let alone the
way he swears at me.

MITCHENER. When a man has risked his life on eight battlefields,
Mrs. Farrell, he has given sufficient proof of his self-control
to be excused a little strong language.

MRS. FARRELL. Would you put up with bad language from me because
Ive risked my life eight times in childbed?

MITCHENER. My dear Mrs. Farrell, you surely would not compare a
risk of that harmless domestic kind to the fearful risks of the

MRS. FARRELL. I wouldnt compare risks run to bear living people
into the world to risks run to blow them out of it. A mother's
risk is jooty: a soldier's nothin but divilmint.

MITCHENER (nettled). Let me tell you, Mrs. Farrell, that if the
men did not fight, the women would have to fight themselves. We
spare you that, at all events.

MRS. FARRELL. You cant help yourselves. If three-quarters of you
was killed we could replace you with the help of the other
quarter. If three-quarters of us was killed, how many people
would there be in England in another generation? If it wasnt for
that, the mand put the fightin on us just as they put all the
other dhrudgery. What would YOU do if we was all kilt? Would you
go to bed and have twins?

MITCHENER. Really, Mrs. Farrell, you must discuss these questions
with a medical man. You make me blush, positively.

MRS. FARRELL. A good job too. If I could have made Farrell blush
I wouldnt have had to risk me life too often. You n your risks n
your bravery n your selfcontrol indeed! "Why don't you conthrol
yourself?" I sez to Farrell. "Its agen me religion," he sez.

MITCHENER (plaintively). Mrs. Farrell, youre a woman of very
powerful mind. Im not qualified to argue these delicate matters
with you. I ask you to spare me, and to be good enough to take
these clothes to Mr. Balsquith when the ladies leave.

The Orderly comes in.

THE ORDERLY. Lady Corinthia Fanshawe and Mrs. Banger wish to see
you, sir. Mr. Balsquith told me to tell you.

MRS. FARRELL. Theyve come about the vote. I dont know whether its
them that want it or them that doesnt want it: anyhow, they're
all alike when they get into a state about it. (She goes out,
having gathered Balsquith's suffraget disguise from the desk.)

MITCHENER. Is Mr. Balsquith not with them?

THE ORDERLY. No, Sir. Couldnt stand Mrs. Banger, I expect. Fair
caution she is. (He chuckles.) Couldnt help larfin when I sor im
op it.

MITCHENER. How dare you indulge in this unseemly mirth in the
presence of your commanding officer? Have you no sense of a
soldier's duty?

THE ORDERLY (sadly). Im afraid I shant ever get the ang of it,
sir. You see my father has a tidy little barbers business down
off Shoreditch; and I was brought up to be chatty and easy like
with everybody. I tell you, when I drew the number in the
conscription it gave my old mother the needle and it gev me the
ump. I should take it very kind, sir, if youd let me off the
drill and let me shave you instead. Youd appreciate my qualities
then: you would indeed sir. I shant never do myself justice at
soljering, sir: I cant bring myself to think of it as proper work
for a man with an active mind, as you might say, sir. Arf of its
only ousemaidin; and the other arf is dress-up and make-believe.

MITCHENER. Stuff, Sir. Its the easiest life in the world. Once
you learn your drill all you have to do is to hold your tongue
and obey your orders.

THE ORDERLY. But I do assure you, sir, arf the time they're the
wrong orders; and I get into trouble when I obey them. The
sergeants orders is all right; but the officers dont know what
theyre talkin about. Why the orses knows better sometimes.
"Fours" says Lieutenant Trevor at the gate of Bucknam Palace only
this morning when we was on duty for a State visit to the Coal
Trust. I was fourth man like in the first file; and when I
started the orse eld back; and the sergeant was on to me
straight. Threes, you bally fool, he whispers. And he was on to
me again about it when we came back, and called me a fathead, he
did. What am I to do, I says: the lieutenant's orders was fours,
I says. Ill show you whos lieutenant here, e says. In future you
attend to my orders and not to iz, e says: what does he know
about it? You didnt give me any orders, I says. Couldnt you see
for yourself there wasnt room for fours, e says: why cant you
THINK? General Mitchener tells me Im not to think but to obey
orders, I says. Is Mitchener your sergeant or am I, e says in his
bullyin way. You are, I says. Well, he says, youve got to do what
your sergeant tells you: thats discipline, he says. What am I to
do for the General I says. Youre to let im talk, e says: thats
what es for.

MITCHENER (groaning). It is impossible for the human mind to
conceive anything more dreadful than this. Youre a disgrace to
the service.

THE ORDERLY (deeply wounded). The service is a disgrace to me.
When my mother's people pass me in the street with this uniform
on, I ardly know which way to look. There never was a soldier in
my family before.

MITCHENER. There never was anything else in mine, sir.

THE ORDERLY. My mother's second cousin was one of the Parkinsons
of Stepney. (Almost in tears.) What do you know of the feelings
of a respectable family in the middle station of life? I cant
bear to be looked down on as a common soldier. Why cant my father
be let buy my discharge? Youve done away with the soldier's right
to have his discharge bought for him by his relations. The
country didnt know you were going to do that or it would never
have stood it. Is an Englishman to be made a mockery like

MITCHENER. Silence. Attention. Right about face. March.

THE ORDERLY (retiring to the standing desk and bedewing it with
passionate tears). Oh that I should have lived to be spoke to as
if I was the lowest of the low. Me! that has shaved a City of
London aldermen wiv me own hand.

MITCHENER. Poltroon. Crybaby. Well, better disgrace yourself here
than disgrace your country on the field of battle.

THE ORDERLY (angrily coming to the table). Whos going to disgrace
his country on the field of battle? Its not fightin I object to:
its soljerin. Show me a German and Ill have a go at him as fast
as you or any man. But to ave me time wasted like this, an be
stuck in a sentry box at a street corner for an ornament to be
stared at; and to be told "right about face: march" if I speak as
one man to another: that aint pluck: that aint fightin: that aint
patriotism: its bein made a bloomin sheep of.

MITCHENER. A sheep has many valuable military qualities. Emulate
them: dont disparage them.

THE ORDERLY. Oh, wots the good of talkin to you? If I wasnt a
poor soldier I could punch your head for forty shillins for a
month. But because youre my commanding officer you deprive me of
my right to a magistrate and make a compliment of giving me two
years ard sted of shootin me. Why cant you take your chance the
same as any civilian does?

MITCHENER (rising majestically). I search the pages of history in
vain for a parallel to such a speech made by a Private to a
general. But for the coherence of your remarks I should conclude
that you were drunk. As it is, you must be mad. You shall be
placed under restraint at once. Call the guard.

THE ORDERLY. Call your grandmother. If you take one man off the
doors the place'll be full of Suffragets before you can wink.

MITCHENER. Then arrest yourself; and off with you to the

THE ORDERLY. What am I to arrest myself for?

MITCHENER. Thats nothing to you. You have your orders: obey them.
Do you hear? Right about face. March.

THE ORDERLY. How would you feel yourself if you was told to
right-about-face and march as if you was a doormat?

MITCHENER. I should feel as if my country had spoken through the
voice of my officer. I should feel proud and honored to be able
to serve my country by obeying its commands. No thought of self--
no vulgar preoccupation with my own petty vanity could touch my
mind at such a moment. To me my officer would not be a mere man:
he would be for the moment--whatever his personal frailties--the
incarnation of our national destiny.

THE ORDERLY. What Im saying to you is the voice of old England a
jolly sight more than all this rot that you get out of books. Id
rather be spoke to by a sergeant than by you. He tells me to go
to hell when I challenges him to argue it out like a man. It aint
polite; but its English. What you say aint anything at all. You
dont act on it yourself. You dont believe in it. Youd punch my
head if I tried it on you; and serve me right. And look here.
Heres another point for you to argue.

MITCHENER (with a shriek of protest). No--

Mrs. Banger comes in, followed by Lady Corinthia Fanshawe.

Mrs. Banger is a masculine woman of forty, with a powerful voice
and great physical strength. Lady Corinthia, who is also over
thirty, is beautiful and romantic.

MRS. BANGER (throwing the door open decisively and marching
straight to Michener). Pray how much longer is the Anti-Suffrage
League to be kept waiting? (She passes him contemptuously and
sits down with impressive confidence in the chair next the
fireplace. Lady Corinthia takes the chair on the opposite side of
the table with equal aplomb.)

MITCHENER. Im extremely sorry. You really do not know what I have
to put with. This imbecile, incompetent, unsoldierly disgrace to
the uniform he should never have been allowed to put on, ought to
have shown you in fifteen minutes ago.

THE ORDERLY. All I said was--

MITCHENER. Not another word. Attention. Right about face. March.
(The Orderly sits down doggedly.) Get out of the room this
instant, you fool, or Ill kick you out.

THE ORDERLY (civilly). I dont mind that, sir. Its human. Its
English. Why couldnt you have said it before? (He goes out).

MITCHENER. Take no notice I beg: these scenes are of daily
occurrence now that we have compulsory service under the command
of the halfpenny papers. Pray sit down.

LADY CORINTHIA AND MRS. BANGER (rising). Thank you. (They sit
down again.)

MITCHENER (sitting down with a slight chuckle of satisfaction).
And now, ladies, to what am I indebted?

MRS. BANGER. Let me introduce us. I am Rosa Carmina
Banger--Mrs. Banger, organizing secretary of the Anti-Suffraget
League. This is Lady Corinthia Fanshawe, the president of the
League, known in musical circles--I am not myself musical--as the
Richmond Park nightingale. A soprano. I am myself said to be
almost a baritone; but I do not profess to understand these dis-

MITCHENER (murmuring politely). Most happy, Im sure.

MRS. BANGER. We have come to tell you plainly that the Anti-
Suffragets are going to fight.

MITCHENER (gallantly). Oh, pray leave that to the men, Mrs.

LADY CORINTHIA. We can no longer trust the men.

MRS. BANGER. They have shown neither the strength, the courage,
nor the determination which are needed to combat women like the

LADY CORINTHIA. Nature is too strong for the combatants.

MRS. BANGER. Physical struggles between persons of opposite sexes
are unseemly.

LADY CORINTHIA. Demoralizing.

MRS. BANGER. Insincere.

LADY CORINTHIA. They are merely embraces in disguise.

MRS. BANGER. No such suspicion can attach to combats in which the
antagonists are of the same sex.

LADY CORINTHIA. The Anti-Suffragets have resolved to take the

MRS. BANGER. They will enforce the order of General Sandstone for
the removal of all women from the two mile radius--that is, all
women except themselves.

MITCHENER. I am sorry to have to inform you, Madam, that the
Government has given up that project, and that General Sandstone
has resigned in consequence.

MRS. BANGER. That does not concern us in the least. We approve of
the project and will see that it is carried out. We have spent a
good deal of money arming ourselves; and we are not going to have
that money thrown away through the pusillanimity of a Cabinet of

MITCHENER. Arming yourselves! But, my dear ladies, under the
latest proclamation women are strictly forbidden to carry chains,
padlocks, tracts on the franchise, or weapons of any description.

LADY CORINTHIA (producing an ivory-handled revolver and pointing
it at his nose). You little know your countrywomen, General

MITCHENER (without flinching). Madam: it is my duty to take
possession of that weapon in accordance with the proclamation. Be
good enough to put it down.

MRS. BANGER (producing an XVIII century horse pistol). Is it your
duty to take possession of this also?

MITCHENER. That, madam, is not a weapon; it is a curiosity. If
you would be kind enough to place it in some museum instead of
pointing it at my head, I should be obliged to you.

MRS. BANGER. This pistol, sir, was carried at Waterloo by my

MITCHENER. I presume you mean your grandfather.

MRS. BANGER. You presume unwarrantably.

LADY CORINTHIA. Mrs. Banger's grandmother commanded a canteen at
that celebrated battle.

MRS. BANGER. Who my grandfather was is a point that has never
been quite clearly settled. I put my trust not in my ancestors,
but in my good sword, which is at my lodgings.

MITCHENER. Your sword!

MRS. BANGER. The sword with which I slew five Egyptians with my
own hand at Kassassin, where I served as a trooper.

MITCHENER. Lord bless me! But was your sex never discovered?

MRS. BANGER. It was never even suspected. I had a comrade--a
gentleman ranker--whom they called Fanny. They never called ME

LADY CORINTHIA. The suffragets have turned the whole woman
movement on to the wrong track. They ask for a vote.

MRS. BANGER. What use is a vote? Men have the vote.

LADY CORINTHIA. And men are slaves.

MRS. BANGER. What women need is the right to military service.
Give me a well-mounted regiment of women with sabres, opposed to
a regiment of men with votes. We shall see which will go down
before the other. (rises) No: we have had enough of these gentle
pretty creatures who merely talk and cross-examine ministers in
police courts, and go to prison like sheep, and suffer and
sacrifice themselves. This question must be solved by blood and
iron, as was well said by Bismarck, whom I have reason to believe
was a woman in disguise.

MITCHENER. Bismarck a woman?

MRS. BANGER. All the really strong men of history have been
disguised women.

MITCHENER (remonstrating). My dear lady!

MRS. BANGER. How can you tell? You never knew that the hero of
the charge at Kassassin was a woman: yet she was: it was I, Rosa
Carmina Banger. Would Napoleon have been so brutal to women,
think you, had he been a man?

MITCHENER. Oh, come, come! Really! Surely female rulers have
often shown all the feminine weaknesses. Queen Elizabeth, for
instance. Her vanity, her levity.

MRS. BANGER. Nobody who has studied the history of Queen
Elizabeth can doubt for a moment that she was a disguised man.

LADY CORINTHIA (admiring Mrs. Banger). Isnt she splendid?

MRS. BANGER (rising with a large gesture). This very afternoon I
shall cast off this hampering skirt for ever; mount my charger;
and with my good sabre lead the Anti-Suffragets to victory. (She
strides to the other side of the room, snorting.)

MITCHENER. But I cant allow anything of the sort, madam. I shall
stand no such ridiculous nonsense. Im perfectly determined to put
my foot down.

LADY CORINTHIA. Dont be hysterical, General.

MITCHENER. Hysterical!

MRS. BANGER. Do you think we are to be stopped by these childish
exhibitions of temper. They are useless; and your tears and
entreaties--a man's last resource--will avail you just as little.
I sweep them away, just as I sweep your plans of campaign "made
in Germany--"

MITCHENER (flying into a transport of rage). How dare you repeat
that infamous slander? (He rings the bell violently.) If this is
the alternative to votes for women, I shall advocate giving every
woman in the country six votes.

The Orderly comes in.

Remove that woman. See that she leaves the building at once.

The Orderly forlornly contemplates the iron front presented by
Mrs. Banger.

THE ORDERLY (propitiatorily). Would you av the feelin art to step
out, madam.

MRS. BANGER. You are a soldier. Obey your orders. Put me out.
If I got such an order, I should not hesitate.

THE ORDERLY (To Mitchener). Would you mind lendin me a and,

LADY CORINTHIA (raising her revolver). I shall be obliged to
shoot you if you stir, General.

MRS. BANGER (To the Orderly). When you are ordered to put a
person out you should do it like this. (She hurls him from the
room. He is heard falling headlong downstairs and crashing
through a glass door.) I shall now wait on General Sandstone. If
he shows any sign of weakness, he shall share that poor wretch's
fate. (She goes out.)

LADY CORINTHIA. Isnt she magnificent?

MITCHENER. Thank heaven shes gone. And now, my dear lady, is it
necessary to keep that loaded pistol to my nose all through our

LADY CORINTHIA. Its not loaded. Its heavy enough, goodness knows,
without putting bullets in it.

MITCHENER (triumphantly snatching his revolver from the drawer).
Then I am master of the situation. This IS loaded. Ha, ha!

LADY CORINTHIA. But since we are not really going to shoot one
another, what difference can it possibly make?

MITCHENER (putting his pistol down on the table). True. Quite
true. I recognize there the practical good sense that has
prevented you from falling into the snares of the Suffragets.

LADY CORINTHIA. The Suffragets, General, are the dupes of
dowdies. A really attractive and clever woman--

MITCHENER (gallantly). Yourself, for instance.

LADY CORINTHIA (snatching up his revolver). Another step and you
are a dead man.

MITCHENER (amazed). My dear lady!

LADY CORINTHIA. I am not your dear lady. You are not the first
man who has concluded that because I am devoted to music and can
reach F flat with the greatest facility--Patti never got above E
flat--I am marked out as the prey of every libertine. You think I
am like the thousands of weak women whom you have ruined--

MITCHENER. I solemnly protest--

LADY CORINTHIA. Oh, I know what you officers are. To you a
woman's honor is nothing, and the idle pleasure of the moment is

MITCHENER. This is perfectly ridiculous. I never ruined anyone in
my life.

LADY CORINTHIA. Never! Are you in earnest?

MITCHENER. Certainly I am in earnest. Most indignantly in

LADY CORINTHIA (throwing down the pistol contemptuously). Then
you have no temperament; you are not an artist. You have no soul
for music.

MITCHENER. Ive subscribed to the regimental band all my life. I
bought two sarrusophones for it out of my own pocket. When I sang
Tosti's Goodbye for Ever at Knightsbridge in 1880, the whole
regiment wept. You are too young to remember that.

LADY CORINTHIA. Your advances are useless. I--

MITCHENER. Confound it, madam, can you not receive an innocent
compliment without suspecting me of dishonorable intentions?

LADY CORINTHIA. Love--real love--makes all intentions honorable.
But YOU could never understand that.

MITCHENER. Ill not submit to the vulgar penny-novelette notion
that an officer is less honorable than a civilian in his
relations with women. While I live Ill raise my voice--


MITCHENER. What do you mean by tush?

LADY CORINTHIA. You cant raise your voice above its natural
compass. What sort of voice have you?

MITCHENER. A tenor. What sort had you?

LADY CORINTHIA. Had? I have it still. I tell you I am the highest
living soprano. (Scornfully.) What was your highest note, pray?

MITCHENER. B flat--once--in 1879. I was drunk at the time.

LADY CORINTHIA (gazing at him almost tenderly). Though you may
not believe me, I find you are more interesting when you talk
about music than when you are endeavoring to betray a woman who
has trusted you by remaining alone with you in your apartment.

MITCHENER (springing up and fuming away to the fireplace). These
repeated insults to a man of blameless life are as disgraceful to
you as they are undeserved by me, Lady Corinthia. Such suspicions
invite the conduct they impute. (She raises the pistol.) You need
not be alarmed: I am only going to leave the room.


MITCHENER. Fish! This is worse than tush. Why fish?

LADY CORINTHIA. Yes, fish: coldblooded fish.

MITCHENER. Dash it all, madam, do you WANT me to make advances to

LADY CORINTHIA. I have not the slightest intention of yielding to
them; but to make them would be a tribute to romance. What is
life without romance?

MITCHENER (making a movement toward her). I tell you--

LADY CORINTHIA. Stop. No nearer. No vulgar sensuousness. If you
must adore, adore at a distance.

MITCHENER. This is worse than Mrs. Banger. I shall ask that
estimable woman to come back.

LADY CORINTHIA. Poor Mrs. Banger! Do not for a moment suppose,
General Mitchener, that Mrs. Banger represents my views on the
suffrage question. Mrs. Banger is a man in petticoats. I am every
inch a woman; but I find it convenient to work with her.

MITCHENER. Do you find the combination comfortable?

LADY CORINTHIA. I do not wear combinations, General: (with
dignity) they are unwomanly.

MITCHENER (throwing himself despairingly into the chair next the
hearthrug). I shall go mad. I never for a moment dreamt of
alluding to anything of the sort.

LADY CORINTHIA. There is no need to blush and become self-
conscious at the mention of underclothing. You are extremely
vulgar, General.

MITCHENER. Lady Corinthia: you have my pistol. Will you have the
goodness to blow my brains out. I should prefer it to any further
effort to follow the gyrations of the weathercock you no doubt
call your mind. If you refuse, then I warn you that youll not get
another word out of me--not if we sit here until doomsday.

LADY CORINTHIA. I dont want you to talk. I want you to listen.
You do not yet understand my views on the question of the
Suffrage. (She rises to make a speech.) I must preface my remarks
by reminding you that the Suffraget movement is essentially a
dowdy movement. The suffragets are not all dowdies; but they are
mainly supported by dowdies. Now I am not a dowdy. Oh, no

MITCHENER. I did not utter a sound.

LADY CORINTHIA (smiling). It is easy to read your thoughts. I am
one of those women who are accustomed to rule the world through
men. Man is ruled by beauty, by charm. The men who are not have
no influence. The Salic Law, which forbade women to occupy a
throne, is founded on the fact that when a woman is on the throne
the country is ruled by men, and therefore ruled badly; whereas
when a man is on the throne, the country is ruled by women, and
therefore ruled well. The suffragets would degrade women from
being rulers to being voters, mere politicians, the drudges of
the caucus and the polling booth. We should lose our influence
completely under such a state of affairs. The New Zealand women
have the vote. What is the result? No poet ever makes a New
Zealand woman his heroine. One might as well be romantic about
New Zealand mutton. Look at the suffragets themselves. The only
ones who are popular are the pretty ones, who flirt with mobs as
ordinary women flirt with officers.

MITCHENER. Then I understand you to hold that the country should
be governed by the women after all.

LADY CORINTHIA. Not by all the women. By certain women. I had
almost said by one woman. By the women who have charm--who have
artistic talent--who wield a legitimate, a refining influence
over the men. (She sits down gracefully, smiling, and arranging
her draperies with conscious elegance.)

MITCHENER. In short, madam, you think that if you give the vote
to the man, you give the power to the women who can get round the

LADY CORINTHIA. That is not a very delicate way of putting it;
but I suppose that is how you would express what I mean.

MITCHENER. Perhaps youve never had any experience of garrison
life. If you had, you'd have noticed that the sort of woman who
is clever at getting round men is sometimes rather a bad lot.

LADY CORINTHIA. What do you mean by a bad lot?

MITCHENER. I mean a woman who would play the very devil if the
other women didnt keep her in pretty strict order. I dont approve
of democracy, because its rot; and Im against giving the vote to
women because Im not accustomed to it and therefore am able to
see with an unprejudiced eye what infernal nonsense it is. But I
tell you plainly, Lady Corinthia, that there is one game that I
dislike more than either Democracy or Votes For Women: and that
is the game of Antony and Cleopatra. If I must be ruled by women,
let me have decent women and not--well, not the other sort.

LADY CORINTHIA. You have a coarse mind, General Mitchener.

MITCHENER. So has Mrs. Banger. And by George! I prefer Mrs.
Banger to you!

LADY CORINTHIA (bounding to her feet.) You prefer Mrs. Banger to

MITCHENER. I do. You said yourself she was splendid.

LADY CORINTHIA. You are no true man. You are one of those unsexed
creatures who have no joy in life, no sense of beauty, no high

MITCHENER. No doubt I am, Madam. As a matter of fact, I am not
clever at discussing public questions, because, as an English
gentleman, I was not brought up to use my brains. But
occasionally, after a number of remarks which are perhaps
sometimes rather idiotic, I get certain convictions. Thanks to
you, I have now got a conviction that this woman question is not
a question of lovely and accomplished females, but of dowdies.
The average Englishwoman is a dowdy and never has half a chance
of becoming anything else. She hasnt any charm; and she has no
high notes except when shes giving her husband a piece of her
mind, or calling down the street for one of the children.

LADY CORINTHIA. How disgusting!

MITCHENER. Somebody must do the dowdy work! If we had to choose
between pitching all the dowdies into the Thames and pitching all
the lovely and accomplished women, the lovely ones would have to

LADY CORINTHIA. And if you had to do without Wagner's music or do
without your breakfast, you would do without Wagner. Pray does
that make eggs and bacon more precious than music, or the butcher
and baker better than the poet and philosopher? The scullery may
be more necessary to our bare existence than the cathedral. Even
humbler apartments might make the same claim. But which is the
more essential to the higher life?

MITCHENER. Your arguments are so devilishly ingenious that I feel
convinced you got them out of some confounded book. Mine--such as
they are--are my own. I imagine its something like this. There is
an old saying that if you take care of the pence, the pounds will
take care of themselves. Well, perhaps if we take care of the
dowdies and the butchers and the bakers, the beauties and the
bigwigs will take care of themselves. (Rising and facing her
determinedly.) Anyhow, I dont want to have things arranged for me
by Wagner. Im not Wagner. How does he know where the shoe pinches
me? How do you know where the shoe pinches your washerwoman?--you
and your high F in alt. How are you to know when you havent made
her comfortable unless she has a vote? Do you want her to come
and break your windows?

LADY CORINTHIA. Am I to understand that General Mitchener is a
democrat and a suffraget?

MITCHENER. Yes: you have converted me--you and Mrs. Banger.

LADY CORINTHIA. Farewell, creature. (Balsquith enters hurriedly.)
Mr. Balsquith: I am going to wait on General Sandstone. He at
least is an officer and a gentleman. (She sails out.)

BALSQUITH. Mitchener: the game is up.

MITCHENER. What do you mean?

BALSQUITH. The strain is too much for the Cabinet. The old
Liberal and Unionist Free Traders declare that if they are
defeated on their resolution to invite tenders from private
contractors for carrying on the Army and Navy, they will go solid
for votes for women as the only means of restoring the liberties
of the country which we have destroyed by compulsory military

MITCHENER. Infernal impudence?

BALSQUITH. The Labor party is taking the same line. They say the
men got the Factory Acts by hiding behind the women's petticoats,
and that they will get votes for the army in the same way.

MITCHENER. Balsquith: we must not yield to clamor. I have just
told this lady that I am at last convinced--

BALSQUITH (joyfully). That the suffragets must be supported.

MITCHENER. No: that the anti-suffragets must be put down at all

BALSQUITH. Same thing.

MITCHENER. No. For you now tell me that the Labor Party demands
votes for women. That makes it impossible to give them, because
it would be yielding to clamor. The one condition on which we can
consent to grant anything in this country is that nobody shall
presume to want it.

BALSQUITH (earnestly). Mitchener: its no use. You cant have the
conveniences of Democracy without its occasional inconveniences.

MITCHENER. What are its conveniences, I should like to know?

BALSQUITH. When you tell people that they are the real rulers and
they can do what they like, nine times out of ten, they say, "All
right, tell us what to do." But it happens sometimes that they
get an idea of their own; and then of course youre landed.


BALSQUITH (desperately shouting him down). No: its no use telling
me to shoot them down: Im not going to do it. After all, I dont
suppose votes for women will make much difference. It hasnt in
the other countries in which it has been tried.

MITCHENER. I never supposed it would make much difference. What I
cant stand is giving in to that Pankhurst lot. Hang it all,
Balsquith, it seems only yesterday that we put them in quod for a
month. I said at the time that it ought to have been ten years.
If my advice had been taken this wouldnt have happened. Its a
consolation to me that events are proving how thoroughly right I

The Orderly rushes in.

THE ORDERLY. Look ere, sir: Mrs. Banger locked the door of
General Sandstone's room on the inside; and shes sitting on his
ead until he signs a proclamation for women to serve in the army.

MITCHENER. Put your shoulder to the door and burst it open.

THE ORDERLY. Its only in story books that doors burst open as
easy as that. Besides, Im only too thankful to have a locked door
between me and Mrs. B.; and so is all the rest of us.

MITCHENER. Cowards. Balsquith: to the rescue! (He dashes out.)

BALSQUITH (ambling calmly to the hearth). This is the business of
the Sergeant at Arms rather than of the leader of the House.
Theres no use in my tackling Mrs. Banger: she would only sit on
my head too.

THE ORDERLY. You take my tip, Mr. Balsquith. Give the women the
vote and give the army civil rights; and av done with it.

Mitchener returns.

MITCHENER. Balsquith: prepare to hear the worst.

BALSQUITH. Sandstone is no more?

MITCHENER. On the contrary, he is particularly lively. He has
softened Mrs. Banger by a proposal of marriage in which he
appears to be perfectly in earnest. He says he has met his ideal
at last, a really soldierly woman. She will sit on his head for
the rest of his life; and the British Army is now to all intents
and purposes commanded by Mrs. Banger. When I remonstrated with
Sandstone she positively shouted "Right-about-face. March" at me
in the most offensive tone. If she hadnt been a woman I should
have punched her head. I precious nearly punched Sandstone's. The
horrors of martial law administered by Mrs. Banger are too
terrible to be faced. I demand civil rights for the army.

THE ORDERLY (chuckling). Wot oh, General! Wot oh!

MITCHENER. Hold your tongue. (He goes to the door and calls.)
Mrs. Farrell! (Returning, and again addressing the Orderly.)
Civil rights don't mean the right to be uncivil. (Pleased with
his own wit.) Almost a pun. Ha ha!

MRS. FARRELL. Whats the matther now? (She comes to the table.)

MITCHENER (to the Orderly). I have private business with Mrs.
Farrell. Outside, you infernal blackguard.

THE ORDERLY (arguing, as usual). Well, I didnt ask to--
(Mitchener seizes him by the nape; rushes him out; and slams the

MITCHENER. Excuse the abruptness of this communication, Mrs.
Farrell; but I know only one woman in the country whose practical
ability and force of character can maintain her husband in
competition with the husband of Mrs. Banger. I have the honor to
propose for your hand.

MRS. FARRELL. Dye mean you want to marry me?


MRS. FARRELL. No thank you. Id have to work for you just the
same; only I shouldnt get any wages for it.

BALSQUITH. That will be remedied when women get the vote. Ive had
to promise that.

MITCHENER (winningly). Mrs. Farrell: you have been charwoman here
now ever since I took up my duties. Have you really never, in
your more romantic moments, cast a favorable eye on my person?

MRS. FARRELL. Ive been too busy casting an unfavorable eye on
your cloze and on the litther you make with your papers.

MITCHENER (wounded). Am I to understand that you refuse me?

MRS. FARRELL. Just wait a bit. (She takes Mitchener's chair and
rings up the telephone.) Double three oh seven Elephant.

MITCHENER. I trust youre not ringing for the police, Mrs.
Farrell. I assure you Im perfectly sane.

MRS. FARRELL (into the telephone). Is that you, Eliza? (She
listens for the answer.) Not out of bed yet! Go and pull her out
by the heels, the lazy sthreel; and tell her her mother wants to
speak to her very particularly about General Mitchener. (To
Mitchener.) Dont you be afeard: I know youre sane enough when
youre not talkin about the Germans. (Into the telephone.) Is that
you, Eliza? (She listens for the answer.) Dye remember me givin
you a clout on the side of the head for tellin me that if I only
knew how to play me cards I could marry any general on the staff
instead o disgracin you be bein a charwoman? (She listens for the
answer.) Well, I can have General Mitchener without playing any
cards at all. What dye think I ought to say? (She listens.) Well,
Im no chicken myself. (To Mitchener.) How old are you?

MITCHENER (with an effort). Fifty-two.

MRS. FARRELL (into the telephone). He says hes fifty-two. (She
listens; then, to Mitchener.) She says youre down in Who's Who as

MITCHENER. Damn Who's Who.

MRS. FARRELL (into the telephone). Anyhow I wouldnt let that
stand in the way. (She listens.) If I really WHAT? (She
listens.)I cant hear you. If I really WHAT? (She listens.) WHO
druv him? I never said a word to-- Eh? (She listens.) Oh, LOVE
him. Arra dont be a fool, child. (To Mitchener.) She wants to
know do I really love you.(Into the telephone.) Its likely indeed
Id frighten the man off with any such nonsense, at my age. What?
(She listens.) Well, thats just what I was thinkin.

MITCHENER. May I ask what you were thinking, Mrs. Farrell? This
suspense is awful.

MRS. FARRELL. I was thinkin that perhaps the Duchess might like
her daughter-in-law's mother to be a General's lady betther than
to be a charwoman. (Into the telephone.) Waitle youre married
yourself, me fine lady: you'll find out that every woman is a
charwoman from the day shes married. (She listens.) Then you
think I might take him? (She listens.) Glang, you young scald: if
I had you here Id teach you manners. (She listens.) Thats enough
now. Back wid you to bed; and be thankful Im not there to put me
slipper across you. (She rings off.) The impudence! (To
Mitchener.) Bless you, me childher, may you be happy, she says.
(To Balsquith, going to his side of the room.) Give dear, old
Mich me love, she says.

The Orderly opens the door, ushering in Lady Corinthia.

THE ORDERLY. Lady Corinthia Fanshawe to speak to you, sir.

LADY CORINTHIA. General Mitchener: your designs on Mrs. Banger
are defeated. She is engaged to General Sandstone. Do you still
prefer her to me?

MRS. FARRELL. Hes out o the hunt. Hes engaged to me.

The Orderly overcome by this news reels from the door to the
standing desk, and clutches the stool to save himself from

MITCHENER. And extremely proud of it, Lady Corinthia.

LADY CORINTHIA (contemptuously). She suits you exactly. (Coming
to Balsquith.) Mr. Balsquith: you at least, are not a Philistine.

BALSQUITH. No, Lady Corinthia; but Im a confirmed bachelor. I
don't want a wife; but I want an Egeria.

MRS. FARRELL. More shame for you.

LADY CORINTHIA. Silence, woman. The position and functions of a
wife may suit your gross nature. An Egeria is exactly what I
desire to be. (To Balsquith.) Can you play accompaniments?

BALSQUITH. Melodies only, I regret to say. With one finger. But
my brother, who is a very obliging fellow, and not unlike me
personally, is acquainted with three chords, with which he
manages to accompany most of the comic songs of the day.

LADY CORINTHIA. I do not sing comic songs. Neither will you when
I am your Egeria. Come. I give a musical at-home this afternoon.
I will allow you to sit at my feet.

BALSQUITH. That is my ideal of romantic happiness. It commits me
exactly as far as I desire to venture. Thank you.

THE ORDERLY. Wot price me, General? Wont you celebrate your
engagement by doing something for me? Maynt I be promoted to be a

MITCHENER. Youre too utterly incompetent to discharge the duties
of a sergeant. You are only fit to be a lieutenant. I shall
recommend you for a commission.

THE ORDERLY. Hooray! The Parkinsons of Stepney will be proud to
have me call on them now. Ill go and tell the sergeant what I
think of him. Hooray! (He rushes out.)

MRS. FARRELL (going to the door and calling after him.) You might
have the manners to shut the door idther you. (She shuts it and
comes between Mitchener and Lady Corinthia.)

MITCHENER. Poor wretch; the day after civil rights are conceded
to the army he and Chubbs-Jenkinson will be found incapable of
maintaining discipline. They will be sacked and replaced by
really capable men. Mrs. Farrell: as we are engaged, and I am
anxious to do the correct thing in every way, I am quite willing
to kiss you if you wish it.

MRS. FARRELL. Youd only feel like a fool; and so would I.

MITCHENER. You are really the most sensible woman. Ive made an
extremely wise choice.

LADY CORINTHIA (To Balsquith). You may kiss my hand, if you wish.

BALSQUITH (cautiously). I think we had better not commit
ourselves too far. If I might carry your parasol, that would
quite satisfy me. Let us change a subject which threatens to
become embarrassing. (To Mitchener.) The moral of the occasion
for you, Mitchener, appears to be that youve got to give up
treating soldiers as if they were schoolboys.

MITCHENER. The moral for you, Balsquith, is that youve got to
give up treating women as if they were angels. Ha ha!

MRS. FARRELL. Its a mercy youve found one another out at last.
That's enough now.


End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Press Cuttings, by George Bernard Shaw


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