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Androcles and the Lion, 
Overruled, Pygmalion. 
By Bernard Shaw. 

Constable and Company 
Ltd. London: 19 16. 

Copyright, George Bernard Shaiv, 19 16. 
All rigkti rtierved. 




Why not give Christianity a Trial ? 

The question seems a hopeless one after 2000 years of 
resolute adherence to the old cry of "Not this man, but 
Barabbas". Yet it is beginning to look as if Barabbas was 
a failure, in spite of his strong right hand, his victories, 
his empires, his millions of money, and his moralities and 
churches and political constitutions. "This man" has not 
been a failure yet ; for nobody has ever been sane enough to 
try his way. But he has had one quaint triumph. Barabbas 
has stolen his name and taken his cross as a standard. There 
is a sort of compliment in that. There is even a sort of 
loyalty in it, like that of the brigand who breaks every law 
and yet claims to be a patriotic subject of the king who 
makes them. We have always had a curious feeling that 
though we crucified Christ on a stick, he somehow managed 
to get hold of the right end of it, and that if we were 
better men we might try his plan. There have been one 
or two grotesque attempts at it by inadequate people, such 
as the Kingdom of God in Munster, which was ended by a 
crucifixion so much more atrocious than the one on Calvary 
that the bishop who took the part of Annas went home and 
died of horror. But responsible people have never made 
such attempts. The moneyed, respectable, capable world 
vii b 

viii Androcles and the Lion 

has been steadily anti-Christian and Barabbasque since the 
crucifixion ; and the specific doctrine of Jesus has not in 
all that time been put into political or general social practice. 
I am no more a Christian than Pilate was, or you, gentle 
reader ; and yet, like Pilate, I greatly prefer Jesus to Annas 
and Caiaphas ; and I am ready to admit that after con- 
templating the world and human nature for nearly sixty 
years, I see no way out of the world's misery but the way 
which would have been found by Christ's will if he had 
undertaken the work of a modern practical statesman. 

Pray do not at this early point lose patience with me and 
shut the book. I assure you I am as sceptical and scientific 
and modern a thinker as you will find anywhere. I grant 
you I know a great deal more about economics and politics 
than Jesus did, and can do things he could not do. I am 
by all Barabbasque standards a person of much better char- 
acter and standing, and greater practical sense. I have no 
sympathy with vagabonds and talkers who try to reform 
society by taking men away from their regular productive 
work and making vagabonds and talkers of them too; and 
if I had been Pilate I should have recognized as plainly as 
he the necessity for suppressing attacks on the existing 
social order, however corrupt that order might be, by 
people with no knowledge of government and no power to 
construct political machinery to carry out their views, act- 
ing on the very dangerous delusion that the end of the 
world was at hand. I make no defence of such Christians 
as Savonarola and John of Leyden : they were scuttling the 
ship before they had learned how to build a raft; and it 
became necessary to throw them overboard to save the 
crew. I say this to set myself right with respectable 
society; but I must still insist that if ]csus could i-«ave 
worked out the practical problems of a Communist consti- 
tution, an admitted obligation to deal with crime without 
revenge or punishment, and a full assumption by humanity 
of divine responsibilities, he would have conferred an in- 
calculable benefit on mankind, because these distinctive 

Preface ix 

demands of his are now turning out to be good sense and 
sound economics. 

I say distinctive, because his common humanity and his 
subjection to time and space (that is, to the Syrian life of 
his period) involved his belief in many things, true and 
false, that in no way distinguish him from other Syrians 
of that time. But such common beliefs do not constitute 
specific Christianity any more than wearing a beard, work- 
ing in a carpenter's shop, or believing that the earth is flat 
and that the stars could drop on it from heaven like hail- 
stones. Christianity interests practical statesmen now be- 
cause of the doctrines that distinguished Christ from the 
Jews and the Barabbasques generally, including ourselves. 

Why Jesus more than Another ? 

I do not imply, however, that these doctrines were 
pecuHar to Christ. A doctrine peculiar to one man would 
be only a craze, unless its comprehension depended on a 
development of human faculty so rare that only one excep- 
tionally gifted man possessed it. But even in this case it 
would be useless, because incapable of spreading. Christi- 
anity is a step in moral evolution which is independent of 
any individual preacher. If Jesus had never existed (and 
that he ever existed in any other sense than that in which 
Shakespear's Hamlet existed has been vigorously questioned) 
Tolstoy would have thought and taught and quarrelled with 
the Greek Church all the same. Their creed has been 
fragmentarily practised to a considerable extent in spite of 
the fact that the laws of all countries treat it, in effect, as 
criminal. Many of its advocates have been militant atheists. 
But for some reason the imagination of white mankind has 
picked out Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, and attributed 
all the Christian doctrines to him ; and as it is the doctrine 
and not the man that matters, and, as, besides, one symbol 
is as good as another provided everyone attaches the same 
meaning to it, I raise, for the moment, no question as to 

X Androcles and the Lion 

how far the gospels are original, and how far they consist 
of Greek and Chinese interpolations. The record that Jesus 
said certain things is not invalidated by a demonstration 
that Confucius said them before him. Those who claim a 
literal divine paternity for him cannot be silenced by the 
discovery that the same claim was made for Alexander 
and Augustus. And I am not just now concerned with 
the credibility of the gospels as records of fact ; for I 
am not acting as a detective, but turning our modern 
lights on to certain ideas and doctrines in them which 
disentangle themselves from the rest because they are 
flatly contrary to common practice, common sense, and 
common belief, and yet have, in the teeth of dogged 
incredulity and recalcitrance, produced an irresistible im- 
pression that Christ, though rejected by his posterity as an 
unpractical dreamer, and executed by his contemporaries 
as a dangerous anarchist and blasphemous madman, was 
greater than his judges. 

Was Jesus a Coward ? 

I know quite well that this impression of superiority is 
not produced on everyone, even of those who profess ex- 
treme susceptibility to it. Setting aside the huge mass of 
inculcated Christ-worship which has no real significance 
because it has no intelligence, there is, among people who 
are really free to think for themselves on the subject, a 
great deal of hearty dislike of Jesus and of contempt for his 
failure to save himself and overcome his enemies by personal 
bravery and cunning as Mahomet did. I have heard this 
feeling expressed far more impatiently by persons brought 
up in England as Christians than by Mahometans, who 
are, like their prophet, very civil to Jesus, and allow him 
a place in their esteem and veneration at least as high as 
we accord to John the Baptist. But this British bulldog 
contempt is founded on a complete misconception of 
his reasons for submitting voluntarily to an ordeal of tor- 

Preface xi 

ment and death. The modern Secularist is often so deter- 
mined to regard Jesus as a man like himself and nothing 
more, that he slips unconsciously into the error of as- 
suming that Jesus shared that view. But it is quite clear 
from the New Testament writers (the chief authorities for 
believing that Jesus ever existed) that Jesus at the time of 
his death believed himself to be the Christ, a divine per- 
sonage. It is therefore absurd to criticize his conduct 
before Pilate as if he were Colonel Roosevelt or Admiral 
von Tirpitz or even Mahomet. Whether you accept his 
belief in his divinity as fully as Simon Peter did, or reject 
it as a delusion which led him to submit to torture and 
sacrifice his life without resistance in the conviction that 
he would presently rise again in glory, you are equally 
bound to admit that, far from behaving like a coward or a 
sheep, he shewed considerable physical fortitude in going 
through a cruel ordeal against which he could have defended 
himself as effectually as he cleared the moneychangers out 
of the temple. " Gentle Jesus, meek and mild" is a snivel- 
ling modern invention, with no warrant in the gospels. St 
Matthewwould as soon have thought of applying such adjec- 
tives to Judas Maccabeus as to Jesus ; and even St Luke, 
who makes Jesus polite and gracious, does not make him 
meek. The picture of him as an English curate of the 
farcical comedy type, too meek to fight a policeman, and 
everybody's butt, may be useful in the nursery to soften 
children ; but that such a figure could ever have become a 
centre of the world's attention is too absurd for discussion : 
grown men and women may speak kindly of a harmless 
creature who utters amiable sentiments and is a helpless 
nincompoop when he is called on to defend them ; but 
they will not follow him, nor do what he tells them, 
because they do not wish to share his defeat and disgrace. 

xii Androcles and the Lion 

Was Jesus a Martyr 

It is important therefore that we should clear our minds 
of the notion that Jesus died, as some of us are in the habit 
of declaring, for his social and political opinions. There have 
been many martyrs to those opinions ; but he was not one of 
them, nor, as his words shew, did he see any more sense in 
martyrdom than Galileo did. He was executed by the Jews 
for the blasphemy of claiming to be a God; and Pilate, to 
whom this was a mere piece of superstitious nonsense, let 
them execute him as the cheapest way of keeping them 
quiet, on the formal plea that he had committed treason 
against Rome by saying that he was the King of the Jews. 
He was not falsely accused, nor denied full opportunities 
of defending himself. The proceedings were quite straight- 
forward and regular ; and Pilate, to whom the appeal lay, 
favored him and despised his judges, and was evidently 
willing enough to be conciliated. But instead of denying 
the charge, Jesus repeated the offence. He knew what 
he was doing : he had alienated numbers of his own dis- 
ciples and been stoned in the streets for doing it before. 
He was not lying: he believed literally what he said. The 
horror of the High Priest was perfectly natural : he was 
a Primate confronted with a heterodox street preacher 
uttering what seemed to him an appalling and impudent 
blasphemy. The fact that the blasphemy was to Jesus a 
simple statement of fact, and that it has since been accepted 
as such by all western nations, does not invalidate the pro- 
ceedings, nor give us the right to regard Annas and Caiaphas 
as worse men than the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 
Head Master of Eton. If Jesus had been indicted in a 
modern court, he would have been examined by two 
doctors; found to be obsessed by a delusion; declared 
incapable of pleading; and sent to an asylum : that is the 
whole difference. But please note that when a man is 
charged before a modern tribunal (to take a case that 

Preface xiii 

happened the other day) of having asserted and maintained 
that he was an officer returned from the front to receive 
the Victoria Cross at the hands of the King, although he 
was in fact a mechanic, nobody thinks of treating him as 
afflicted with a delusion. He is punished for false pre- 
tences, because his assertion is credible and therefore 
misleading. Just so, the claim to divinity made by Jesus 
was to the High Priest, who looked forward to the coming 
of a Messiah, one that might conceivably have been true, 
and might therefore have misled the people in a very 
dangerous way. That was why he treated Jesus as an 
impostor and a blasphemer where we should have treated 
him as a madman. 

The Gospels without Prejudice. 

All this will become clear if we read the gospels without 
prejudice. When I was young it was impossible to read 
them without fantastic confusion of thought. The con- 
fusion was so utterly confounded that it was called the 
proper spirit to read the Bible in. Jesus was a baby ; and 
he was older than creation. He was a man who could be 
persecuted, stoned, scourged, and killed; and he was a 
god, immortal and all-powerful, able to raise the dead and 
call millions of angels to his aid. It was a sin to doubt either 
view of him : that is, it was a sin to reason about him ; and 
the end was that you did not reason about him, and read about 
him only when you were compelled. When you heard the 
gospel stories read in church, or learnt them from painters 
and poets, you came outwith an impression of their contents 
that would have astonished a Chinaman who had read the 
story without prepossession. Even sceptics who were speci- 
ally on their guard, put the Bible in the dock, and read the 
gospels with the object of detecting discrepancies in the 
four narratives to shew that the writers were as subject to 
error as the writers of yesterday's newspaper. 

All this has changed greatly within two generations. 

xiv Androcles and the Lion 

Today the Bible is so little read that the language of the 
Authorized Version is rapidly becoming obsolete ; so that 
even in the United States, where the old tradition of the 
verbal infallibility of "the book of books " lingers more 
strongly than anywhere else except perhaps in Ulster, re- 
translations into modern English have been introduced per- 
force to save its bare intelligibility. It is quite easy today 
to find cultivated persons who have never read the New 
Testament, and on whom therefore it is possible to try the 
experiment of asking them to read the gospels and state 
what they have gathered as to the history and views and 
character of Christ. 

The Gospels now unintelligible to 

But it will not do to read the gospels with a mind 
furnished only for the reception of, say, a biography of 
Goethe, You will not make sense of them, nor even be able 
without impatient weariness to persevere in the task of going 
steadily through them, unless you know something of the 
history of the human imagination as applied to religion. 
Not long ago I asked a writer of distinguished intellectual 
competence whether he had made a study of the gospels 
since his childhood. His reply was that he had lately tried, 
but " found it all such nonsense that I could not stick it." 
As I do not want to send anyone to the gospels with this 
result, I had better here give a brief exposition of how much 
of the history of religion is needed to make the gospels 
and the conduct and ultimate fate of Jesus intelligible and 

Worldliness of the Majority. 

The first common mistake to get rid of is that mankind 
consists of a great mass of religious people and a few 
eccentric atheists. It consists of a huge mass of worldly 

Preface xv 

people, and a small percentage of persons deeply interested 
in religion and concerned about their own souls and other 
people's ; and this section consists mostly of those who are 
passionately affirming the established religion and those who 
are passionately attacking it, the genuine philosophers being 
very few. Thus you never have a nation of millions of 
Wesleys and one Tom Paine. You have a million Mr 
Worldly Wisemans, one Wesley, with his small congrega- 
tion, and one Tom Paine, with his smaller congregation. 
The passionately religious are a people apart ; and if they 
were not hopelessly outnumbered by the worldly, they 
would turn the world upside down, as St Paul was re- 
proached, quite justly, for wanting to do. Few people can 
number among their personal acquaintances a single atheist 
or a single Plymouth Brother. Unless a religious turn in 
ourselves has led us to seek, the little Societies to which 
these rare birds belong, we pass our lives among people 
who, whatever creeds they may repeat, and in whatever 
temples they may avouch their respectability and wear 
their Sunday clothes, have robust consciences, and hunger 
and thirst, not for righteousness, but for rich feeding and 
comfort and social position and attractive mates and ease 
and pleasure and respect and consideration : in short, for 
love and money. To these people one morality is as good 
as another provided they are used to it and can put up with 
its restrictions without unhappiness ; and in the mainten- 
ance of this morality they will fight and punish and coerce 
without scruple. They may not be the salt of the earth, 
these Philistines; but they are the substance of civiliza- 
tion ; and they save society from ruin by criminals and 
conquerors as well as by Savonarolas and Knipperdollings. 
And as they know, very sensibly, that a little religion is 
good for children and serves morality, keeping the poor in 
goodhumor or in awe by promising rewards in heaven or 
threatening torments in hell, they encourage the religious 
people up to a certain point: for instance, if Savonarola 
only tells the ladies of Florence that they ought to tear ofF 

xvi Androcles and the Lion 

their jewels and finery and sacrifice them to God, they 
offer him a cardinal's hat, and praise him as a saint ; but 
if he induces them to actually do it, they burn him as a 
public nuisance. 

Religion of the Minority. Salvationism. 

The religion of the tolerated religious minority has 
always been essentially the same religion : that is why its 
changes of name and form have made so little difference. 
That is why, also, a nation so civilized as the English can 
convert negroes to their faith with great ease, but cannot 
convert Mahometans or Jews. The negro finds in civilized 
Salvationism an unspeakably more comforting version of 
his crude creed; but neither Saracen nor Jew sees any 
advantage in it over his own version. The Crusader was 
surprised to find the Saracen quite as religious and moral 
as himself, and rather more than less civilized. The Latin 
Christian has nothing to offer the Greek Christian that 
Greek Christianity has not already provided. They are 
all, at root, Salvationists. 

Let us trace this religion of Salvation from its beginnings. 
So many things that man does not himself contrive or de- 
sire are always happening : death, plagues, tempests, blights, 
floods, sunrise and sunset, growths and harvests and decay, 
and Kant's two wonders of the starry heavens above us 
and the moral law within us, that we conclude that some- 
body must be doing it all, or that somebody is doing the 
good and somebody else doing the evil, or that armies of 
invisible persons, beneficent and malevolent, are doing it; 
hence you postulate gods and devils, angels and demons. 
You propitiate these powers with presents, called sacrifices, 
and flatteries, called praises. Then the Kantian moral law 
within you makes you conceive your god as a judge; 
and straightway you try to corrupt him, also with presents 
and flatteries. This seems shocking to us ; but our objec- 

Preface xvii 

tion to it is quite a recent development : no longer ago 
than Shakespear's time it was thought quite natural that 
litigants should give presents to human judges ; and the 
buying off of divine wrath by actual money payments to 
priests, or, in the reformed churches which discountenance 
this, by subscriptions to charities and church building and 
the like, is still in full swing. Its practical disadvantage is 
that though it makes matters very easy for the rich, it cuts 
off the poor from all hope of divine favor. And this quickens 
the moral criticism of the poor to such an extent, that they 
soon find the moral law within them revolting against the 
idea of buying off the deity with gold and gifts, though 
they are still quite ready to buy him off with the paper 
money of praise and professions of repentance. Accord- 
ingly, you will find that though a religion may last un- 
changed for many centuries in primitive communities 
where the conditions of life leave no room for poverty and 
riches, and the process of propitiating the supernatural 
powers is as well within the means of the least of the 
members as within those of the headman, yet when com- 
mercial civilization arrives, and capitalism divides the 
people into a few rich and a great many so poor that they 
can barely live, a movement for religious reform will arise 
among the poor, and will be essentially a movement for 
cheap or entirely gratuitous salvation. 

To understand what the poor mean by propitiation, we 
must examine for a moment what they mean by justice. 

The Difference between Atonement and 

The primitive idea of justice is partly legalized revenge 
and partly expiation by sacrifice. It works out from both 
sides in the notion that two blacks make a white, and 
that when a wrong has been done, it should be paid for by 
an equivalent suffering. It seems to the Philistine majority 

xviii Androcles and the Lion 

a matter of course that this compensating suiFering should 
be inflicted on the wrongdoer for the sake of its de- 
terrent effect on other would-be wrongdoers; but a 
moment's reflection will shew that this utilitarian applica- 
tion corrupts the whole transaction. For example, the 
shedding of innocent blood cannot be balanced by the shed- 
ding of guilty blood. Sacrificing a criminal to propitiate 
God for the murder of one of his righteous servants is like 
sacrificing a mangy sheep or an ox with the rinderpest : it 
calls down divine wrath instead of appeasing it. In doing 
it we offer God as a sacrifice the gratification of our own 
revenge and the protection of our own lives without cost 
to ourselves ; and cost to ourselves is the essence of sacri- 
fice and expiation. However much the Philistines have suc- 
ceeded in confusing these things in practice, they are to 
the Salvationist sense distinct and even contrary. The 
Baronet's cousin in Dickens's novel, who, perplexed by the 
failure of the police to discover the murderer of the baronet's 
solicitor, said " Far better hang wrong fellow than no 
fellow," was not only expressing a very common sentiment, 
but trembling on the brink of the rarer Salvationist opinion 
that it is much better to hang the wrong fellow : that, in 
fact, the wrong fellow is the right fellow to hang. 

The point is a cardinal one, because until we grasp it 
not only does historical Christianity remain unintelligible 
to us, but those who do not care a rap about historical 
Christianity may be led into the mistake of supposing that 
if we discard revenge, and treat murderers exactly as God 
treated Cain : that is, exempt them from punishment by 
putting a brand on them as unworthy to be sacrificed, and 
let them face the world as best they can with that brand 
on them, wc should get rid both of punishment and sacrifice. 
It would not at all follow : on the contrary, the feeling 
that there must be an expiation of the murder might quite 
possibly lead to our putting some innocent person — the 
more innocent the better — to a cruel death to balance the 
account with divine justice. 

Preface xix 

Salvation at first a Class Privilege ; 
and the Remedy. 

Thus, even when the poor decide that the method of pur- 
chasing salvation by offering rams and goats or bringing 
gold to the altar must be wrong because they cannot afford 
it, we still do not feel "saved" without a sacrifice and a 
victim. In vain do we try to substitute mystical rites that 
cost nothing, such as circumcision, or, as a substitute for 
that, baptism. Our sense of justice still demands an expia- 
tion, a sacrifice, a sufferer for our sins. And this leaves the 
poor man still in his old difficulty; for if it was impossible 
for him to procure rams and goats and shekels, how much 
more impossible is it for him to find a neighbor who will 
voluntarily suffer for his sins : one who will say cheerfully 
" You have committed a murder. Well, never mind : I am 
willing to be hanged for it in your stead"? 

Our imagination must come to our rescue. Why not, in- 
stead of driving ourselves to despair by insisting on a separate 
atonement by a separate redeemer for every sin, have one 
great atonement and one great redeemer to compound for 
the sins' of the world once for all ? Nothing easier, nothing 
cheaper. The yoke is easy, the burden light. All you have 
to do when the redeemer is once found (or invented by the 
imagination) is to believe in the efficacy of the transaction, 
and you are saved. The rams and goats cease to bleed ; the 
altars which ask for expensive gifts and continually renewed 
sacrifices are torn down; and the Church of the single re- 
deemer and the single atonement rises on the ruins of the 
old temples, and becomes a single Church of the Christ. 

Retrospective Atonement ; and the 
Expectation of the Redeemer. 

But this does not happen at once. Between the old 
costly religion of the rich and the new gratuitous religion 

XX Androcles and the Lion 

of the poor there comes an interregnum in which the 
redeemer, though conceived by the human imagination, is 
not yet found. He is awaited and expected under the 
names of the Christ, the Messiah, Baldur the Beautiful, 
or what not; but he has not yet come. Yet the sinners 
are not therefore in despair. It is true that they cannot 
say, as we say, " The Christ has come, and has redeemed 
us"; but they can say "The Christ will come, and will 
redeem us," which, as the atonement is conceived as retro- 
spective, is equally consoling. There are periods when 
nations are seething with this expectation and crying aloud 
with prophecy of the Redeemer through their poets. To 
feel that atmosphere we have only to take up the Bible and 
read Isaiah at one end of such a period and Luke and John 
at the other. 

Completion of the Scheme by Luther 
and Calvin. 

We now see our religion as a quaint but quite intelligible 
evolution from crude attempts to propitiate the destructive 
forces of Nature among savages to a subtle theology with a 
costly ritual of sacrifice possible only to the rich as a luxury, 
and finally to the religion of Luther and Calvin. And it must 
be said for the earlier forms that they involved very real 
sacrifices. The sacrifice was not always vicarious, and is 
not yet universally so. In India men pay with their own 
skins, torturing themselves hideously to attain holiness. In 
the west, saints amazed the world with their austerities 
and self-scourgings and confessions and vigils. But Luther 
delivered us from all that. His reformation was a triumph 
of imagination and a triumph of cheapness. It brought you 
complete salvation and asked you for nothing but faith. 
Luther did not know what he was doing in the scientific 
sociological way in which we know it; but his instinct 
served him better than knowledge could have done ; for it 
was instinct rather than theological casuistry that made 

Preface xxi 

him hold so resolutely to Justification by Faith as the 
trump card by which he should beat the Pope, or, as he 
would have put it, the sign in which he should conquer. 
He may be said to have abolished the charge for admission to 
heaven. Paul had advocated this ; but Luther and Calvin 
did it. 

John Barleycorn. 

There is yet another page in the history of religion which 
must be conned and digested before the career of Jesus 
can be fully understood. People who can read long books 
will find it in Frazer's Golden Bough. Simpler folk will 
find it in the peasant's song of John Barleycorn, now made 
accessible to our drawingroom amateurs in the admirable 
collections of Somersetshire Folk Songs by Mr Cecil Sharp. 
From Frazer's magnum opus you will learn how the same 
primitive logic which makes the Englishman believe today 
that by eating a beefsteak he can acquire the strength and 
courage of the bull, and to hold that belief in the face of 
the most ignominious defeats by vegetarian wrestlers and 
racers and bicyclists, led the first men who conceived God 
as capable of incarnation to believe that they could acquire 
a spark of his divinity by eating his flesh and drinking his 
blood. And from the song of John Barleycorn you may 
learn how the miracle of the seed, the growth, and the 
harvest, still the most wonderful of all the miracles and 
as inexplicable as ever, taught the primitive husbandman, 
and, as we must now afiirm, taught him quite rightly, that 
God is in the seed, and that God is immortal. And thus 
it became the test of Godhead that nothing that you 
could do to it could kill it, and that when you buried it, it 
would rise again in renewed life and beauty and give man- 
kind eternal life on condition that it was eaten and drunk, 
and again slain and buried, to rise again for ever and ever. 
You may, and indeed must, use John Barleycorn "right 
barbarouslee," cutting him "ofFat knee " with your scythes, 
scourging him with your flails, burying him in the earth ; 

xxli Androcles and the Lion 

and he will not resist you nor reproach you, but will rise 
again in golden beauty amidst a great burst of sunshine and 
bird music, and save you and renew your life. And from 
the interweaving of these two traditions with the craving 
for the Redeemer, you at last get the conviction that when 
the Redeemer comes he will be immortal; he will give us 
his body to eat and his blood to drink ; and he will prove 
his divinity by suffering a barbarous death without resist- 
ance or reproach, and rise from the dead and return to the 
earth in glory as the giver of life eternal. 

Looking for the End of the World. 

Yet another persistent belief has beset the imagination 
of the religious ever since religion spread among the poor, 
or, rather, ever since commercial civilization produced a 
hopelessly poor class cut off" from enjoyment in this world. 
That belief is that the end of this world is at hand, and 
that it will presently pass away and be replaced by a 
kingdom of happiness, justice, and bliss in which the rich 
and the oppressors and the unjust shall have no share. We 
are all familiar with this expectation : many of us cherish 
some pious relative who sees in every great calamity a sign 
of the approaching end. Warning pamphlets arc in constant 
circulation : advertisements are put in the papers and paid 
for by those who are convinced, and who are horrified at 
the indifference of the irreligious to the approaching doom. 
And revivalist preachers, now as in the days of John the 
Baptist, seldom fail to warn their flocks to watch and pray, 
as the great day will steal upon them like a thief in the 
night, and cannot be long deferred in a world so wicked. 
This belief also associates itself with Barleycorn's second 
coming; so that the two events become identified at last. 

There is the other and more artificial side of this belief, 
on which it is an inculcated dread. The ruler who appeals 
to the prospect of heaven to console the poor and keep 

Preface xxiii 

them from insurrection also curbs the vicious by threaten- 
ing them with hell. In the Koran we find Mahomet driven 
more and more to this expedient of government; and ex- 
perience confirms his evident belief that it is impossible to 
govern without it in certain phases of civilization. We 
shall see later on that it gives a powerful attraction to the 
belief in a Redeemer, since it adds to remorse of conscience, 
which hardened men bear very lightly, a definite dread of 
hideous and eternal torture. 

The Honor of Divine Parentage. 

One more tradition must be noted. The consummation 
of praise for a king is to declare that he is the son of no 
earthly father, but of a god. His mother goes into the 
temple of Apollo, and Apollo comes to her in the shape of 
a serpent, or the like. The Roman emperors, following the 
example of Augustus, claimed the title of God. Illogically, 
such divine kings insist a good deal on their royal human 
ancestors. Alexander, claiming to be the son of Apollo, is 
equally determined to be the son of Philip. As the gospels 
stand, St Matthew and St Luke give genealogies (the two 
are difi^erent) establishing the descent of Jesus through 
Joseph from the royal house of David, and yet declare 
that not Joseph but the Holy Ghost was the father of 
Jesus. It is therefore now held that the story of the Holy 
Ghost is a later interpolation borrowed from the Greek 
and Roman imperial tradition. But experience shews that 
simultaneous faith in the descent from David and the con- 
ception by the Holy Ghost is possible. Such double 
beliefs are entertained by the human mind without un- 
easiness or consciousness of the contradiction involved. 
Many instances might be given : a familiar one to my 
generation being that of the Tichborne claimant, whose 
attempt to pass himself off as a baronet was supported by 
an association of laborers on the ground that the Tichborne 


xxiv Androcles and the Lion 

family, in resisting it, were trying to do a laborer out of 
his rights. It is quite possible that Matthew and Luke may 
have been unconscious of the contradiction : indeed the 
interpolation theory does not remove the difficulty, as the 
interpolators themselves must have been unconscious of it. 
A better ground for suspecting interpolation is that St Paul 
knew nothing of the divine birth, and taught that Jesus 
came into the world at his birth as the son of Joseph, but 
rose from the dead after three days as the son of God. 
Here again, few notice the discrepancy: the three views 
are accepted simultaneously without intellectual discomfort. 
We can provisionally entertain half a dozen contradictory 
versions of an event if we feel either that it does not 
greatly matter, or that there is a category attainable in which 
the contradictions are reconciled. 

But that is not the present point. All that need be noted 
here is that the legend of divine birth was sure to be 
attached sooner or later to very eminent persons in Roman 
imperial times, and that modern theologians, far from dis- 
crediting it, have very logically affirmed the miraculous 
conception not only of Jesus but of his mother. 

With no more scholarly equipment than a knowledge of 
these habits of the human imagination, anyone may now 
read the four gospels without bewilderment, and without 
the contemptuous incredulity which spoils the temper of 
many modern atheists, or the senseless credulity which some- 
times makes pious people force us to shove them aside in 
emergencies as impracticable lunatics when they ask us to 
meet violence and injustice with dumb submission in the 
belief that the strange demeanor of Jesus before Pilate was 
meant as an example of normal human conduct. Let os 
admit that without the proper clues the gospels are, to a 
modern educated person, nonsensical and incredible, whilst 
the apostles are unreadable. But with the clues, they are 
fairly plain sailing. Jesus becomes an intelligible and con- 

Preface xxv 

sistent person. His reasons for going "like a lamb to the 
slaughter" instead of saving himself as Mahomet did, 
become quite clear. The narrative becomes as credible as 
any other historical narrative of its period. 


The Annunciation: the Massacre: 
the Flight. 

Let us begin w^ith the gospel of Matthew, bearing in 
mind that it does not profess to be the evidence of an eye- 
witness. It is a chronicle, founded, like other chronicles, 
on such evidence and records as the chronicler could get 
hold of. The only one of the evangelists who professes to 
give first-hand evidence as an eyewitness naturally takes 
care to say so; and the fact that Matthew makes no such 
pretension, and writes throughout as a chronicler, makes it 
clear that he is telling the story of Jesus as Holinshed told 
the story of Macbeth, except that, for a reason to be given 
later on, he must have collected his material and completed 
his book within the lifetime of persons contemporary with 
Jesus. Allowance must also be made for the fact that the 
gospel is written in the Greek language, whilst the first- 
hand traditions and the actual utterances of Jesus must 
have been in Aramaic, the dialect of Palestine. These dis- 
tinctions are important, asyou will find if you read Holinshed 
or Froissart and then read Benvenuto Cellini. You do not 
blame Holinshed or Froissart for believing and repeating 
the things they had read or been told, though you cannot 
always believe these things yourself. But when Cellini 
tells you that he saw this or did that, and you find it im- 
possible to believe him, you lose patience with him, and 
are disposed to doubt everything in his autobiography. Do 
not forget, then, that Matthew is Holinshed and not 

xxvi Androcles and the Lion 

Benvenuto. The very first pages of his narrative will put 
your attitude to the test. 

Matthew tells us that the mother of Jesus was betrothed 
to a man of royal pedigree named Joseph, who was rich 
enough to live in a house in Bethlehem to which kings 
could bring gifts of gold without provoking any comment. 
An angel announces to Joseph that Jesus is the son of the 
Holy Ghost, and that he must not accuse her of infidelity 
because of her bearing a son of which he is not the father; 
but this episode disappears from the subsequent narrative : 
there is no record of its having been told to Jesus, nor any 
indication of his having any knowledge of it. The narra- 
tive, in fact, proceeds in all respects as if the annunciation 
formed no part of it. 

Herod the Tetrarch, believing that a child has been born 
who will destroy him, orders all the male children to be 
slaughtered ; and Jesus escapes by the flight of his parents 
into Egypt, whence they return to Nazareth when the 
danger is over. Here it is necessary to anticipate a little by 
saying that none of the other evangelists accepts this story, 
as none of them except John, who throws over Matthew 
altogether, shares his craze for treating history and biography 
as mere records of the fulfilment of ancient Jewish pro- 
phecies. This craze no doubt led him to seek for some 
legend bearing out Hosea's " Out of Egypt have I called 
my son," and Jeremiah's Rachel weeping for her children : 
in fact, he says so. Nothing that interests us nowadays 
turns on the credibility of the massacre of the innocents 
and the flight into Egypt. We may forget them, and pro- 
ceed to the important part of the narrative, which skips at 
once to the manhood of Jesus. 

John the Baptist. 

At this moment, a Salvationist prophet named John is 
stirring the people very strongly. John has declared that 
the rite of circumcision is insufficient as a dedication of 

Preface xxvii 

the individual to God, and has substituted the rite of 
baptism. To us, who are accustomed to baptism as a 
matter of course, and to whom circumcision is a rather 
ridiculous foreign practice of no consequence, the sensa- 
tional effect of such a heresy as this on the Jews is not 
apparent : it seems to us as natural that John should have 
baptized people as that the rector of our village should do 
so. But, as St Paul found to his cost later on, the discarding 
of circumcision for baptism was to the Jews as startling a 
heresy as the discarding of transubstantiation in the Mass 
was to the Catholics of the XVI century. 

Jesus joins the Baptists. 

Jesus entered as a man of thirty (Luke says) into the 
religious life of his time by going to John the Baptist and 
demanding baptism from him, much as certain well-to-do 
young gentlemen forty years ago "joined the Socialists." 
As far as established Jewry was concerned, he burnt his 
boats by this action, and cut himself off from the routine 
of wealth, respectability, and orthodoxy. He then began 
preaching John's gospel, which, apart from the heresy of 
baptism, the value of which lay in its bringing the Gen- 
tiles (that is, the uncircumcized) within the pale of salvation, 
was a call to the people to repent of their sins, as the 
kingdom of heaven was at hand. Luke adds that he also 
preached the communism of charity; told the surveyors of 
taxes not to over-assess the taxpayers ; and advised soldiers 
to be content with their wages and not to be violent or lay 
false accusations. There is no record of John going beyond 

The Savage John and the Civilized 


Jesus went beyond it very rapidly, according to Matthew. 
Though, like John, he became an itinerant preacher, he 

xxviii Androcles and the Lion 

departed widely from John's manner of life. John went 
into the wilderness, not into the synagogues; and his 
baptismal font was the river Jordan. He was an ascetic, 
clothed in skins and living on locusts and wild honey, 
practising a savage austerity. He courted martyrdom, and 
met it at the hands of Herod. Jesus saw no merit either 
in asceticism or martyrdom. In contrast to John he was 
essentially a highly-civilized, cultivated person. According 
to Luke, he pointed out the contrast himself, chaffing the 
Jews for complaining that John must be possessed by 
the devil because he was a teetotaller and vegetarian, 
whilst, because Jesus was neither one nor the other, 
they reviled him as a gluttonous man and a winebibber, 
the friend of the officials and their mistresses. He told 
straitlaced disciples that they would have trouble enough 
from other people without making any for themselves, and 
that they should avoid martyrdom and enjoy themselves 
whilst they had the chance. " When they persecute you in 
this city," he says, "flee into the next." He preaches in 
the synagogues and in the open air indifferently, just as 
they come. He repeatedly says, " I desire mercy and not 
sacrifice," meaning evidently to clear himself of the in- 
veterate superstition that suffering is gratifying to God. 
" Be not, as the Pharisees, of a sad countenance," he says. 
He is convivial, feasting with Roman officials and sinners. 
He is careless of his person, and is remonstrated with for not 
washing his hands before sitting down to table. The 
followers of John the Baptist, who fast, and who expect to 
find the Christians greater ascetics than themselves, are dis- 
appointed at finding that Jesus and his twelve friends do 
not fast; and Jesus tells them that they should rejoice in 
him instead of being melancholy. He is jocular, and tells 
them they will all have as much fasting as they want soon 
enough, whether they like it or not. He is not afraid of 
disease, and dines with a leper. A woman, apparently to 
protect him against infection, pours a costly unguent on 
his head, and is rebuked because what it cost might have 

Preface xxix 

been given to the poor. He poohpoohs that lowspirited 
view, and says, as he said when he was reproached for not 
fasting, that the poor are always there to be helped, but 
that he is not there to be anointed always, implying that 
you should never lose a chance of being happy when there is 
so much misery in the world. He breaks the Sabbath ; is 
impatient of conventionality when it is uncomfortable or ob- 
structive ; and outrages the feelings of the Jews by breaches of 
it. He is apt to accuse people who feel that way of hypocrisy. 
Like the late Samuel Butler, he regards disease as a depart- 
ment of sin, and on curing a lame man, says " Thy sins 
are forgiven" instead of "Arise and walk," subsequently 
maintaining, when the Scribes reproach him for assuming 
power to forgive sin as well as to cure disease, that the 
two come to the same thing. He has no modest affecta- 
tions, and claims to be greater than Solomon or Jonah. 
When reproached, as Bunyan was, for resorting to the art 
of fiction when teaching in parables, he justifies himself on 
the ground that art is the only way in which the people 
can be taught. He is, in short, what we should call an 
artist and a Bohemian in his manner of life. 

Jesus not a Proselytist. 

A point of considerable practical importance today is that 
he expressly repudiates the idea that forms of religion, once 
rooted, can be weeded out and replanted with the flowers of 
a foreign faith. " If you try to root up the tares you will 
root up the wheat as well." Our proselytizing missionary 
enterprises are thus flatly contrary to his advice ; and their 
results appear to bear him out in his view that if you con- 
vert a man brought up in another creed, you inevitably 
demoralize him. He acts on this view himself, and does 
not convert his disciples from Judaism to Christianity. To 
this day a Christian would be in religion a Jew initiated 
by baptism instead of circumcision, and accepting Jesus as 
the Messiah, and his teachings as of higher authority than 

XXX Androcles and the Lion 

those of Moses, but for the action of the Jewish priests, 
who, to save Jewry from being submerged in the rising 
flood of Christianity after the capture of Jerusalem and the 
destruction of the Temple, set up what was practically a 
new religious order, with new Scriptures and elaborate new 
observances, and to their list of the accursed added one 
Jeschu, a bastard magician, whose comic rogueries brought 
him to a bad end like Punch or Til Eulenspiegel : an 
invention which cost them dear when the Christians got 
the upper hand of them politically. The Jew as Jesus, 
himself a Jew, knew him, never dreamt of such things, and 
could follow Jesus without ceasing to be a Jew. 

The Teachings of Jesus. 

So much for his personal life and temperament. His 
public career as a popular preacher carries him equally far 
beyond John the Baptist. He lays no stress on baptism or 
vows, and preaches conduct incessantly. He advocates 
communism, the widening of the private family with its 
cramping tics into the great family of mankind under the 
fatherhood of God, the abandonment of revenge and punish- 
ment, the counteracting of evil by good instead of by a 
hostile evil, and an organic conception of society in which 
you are not an independent individual but a member of 
society, your neighbor being another member, and each of 
you members one of another, as two fingers on a hand, 
the obvious conclusion being that unless you love your 
neighbor as yourself and he reciprocates you will both be 
the worse for it. He conveys all this with extraordinary 
charm, and entertains his hearers with fables (parable;;) to 
illustrate them. He has no synagogue or regular congrega- 
tion, but travels from place to place with twelve men 
whom he has called from their work as he passed, and 
who have abandoned it to follow him. 

Preface xxxi 

The Miracles. 

He has certain abnormal powers by which he can per- 
form miracles. He is ashamed of these powers, but, being 
extremely compassionate, cannot refuse to exercise them 
when afflicted people beg him to cure them, when multi- 
tudes of people are hungry, and when his disciples are 
terrified by storms on the lakes. He asks for no reward, 
but begs the people not to mention these powers of his. 
There are two obvious reasons for his dislike of being 
known as a worker of miracles. One is the natural objec- 
tion of all men who possess such powers, but have far more 
important business in the world than to exhibit them, to 
be regarded primarily as charlatans, besides being pestered 
to give exhibitions to satisfy curiosity. The other is that 
his view of the effect of miracles upon his mission is ex- 
actly that taken later on by Rousseau. He perceives that 
they will discredit him and divert attention from his 
doctrine by raising an entirely irrelevant issue between his 
disciples and his opponents. 

Possibly my readers may not have studied Rousseau's 
Letters Written FromThe Mountain, which maybe regarded 
as the classic work on miracles as credentials of divine 
mission. Rousseau shews, as Jesus foresaw, that the miracles 
are the main obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity, 
because their incredibility (if they were not incredible 
they would not be miracles) makes people sceptical as to 
the whole narrative, credible enough in the main, in which 
they occur, and suspicious of the doctrine with which they 
are thus associated. "Get rid of the miracles," said Rousseau, 
"and the whole world will fall at the feet of Jesus Christ." 
He points out that miracles offered as evidence of divinity, 
and failing to convince, make divinity ridiculous. He says, 
in effect, there is nothing in making a lame man walk : 
thousands of lame men have been cured and have walked 

xxxii Androcles and the Lion 

without any miracle. Bring me a man with only one leg 
and make another grow instantaneously on him before my 
eyes; and I will be really impressed; but mere cures of 
ailments that have often been cured before are quite useless 
as evidence of anything else than desire to help and power 
to cure. 

Jesus, according to Matthew, agreed so entirely with 
Rousseau, and felt the danger so strongly, that when 
people who were not ill or in trouble came to him and 
asked him to exercise his powers as a sign of his mission, 
he was irritated beyond measure, and refused with an 
indignation which they, not seeing Rousseau's point, must 
have thought very unreasonable. To be called "an evil 
and adulterous generation " merely for asking a miracle 
worker to give an exhibition of his powers, is rather a 
startling experience. Mahomet, by the way, also lost his 
temper when people asked him to perform miracles. But 
Mahomet expressly disclaimed any unusual powers; whereas 
it is clear from Matthew's story that Jesus (unfortunately 
for himself, as he thought) had some powers of healing. It 
is also obvious that the exercise of such powers would give 
rise to wild talcs of magical feats which would expose their 
hero to condemnation as an impostor among people whose 
good opinion was of great consequence to the movement 
started by his mission. 

But the deepest annoyance arising from the miracles 
would be the irrelevance of the issue raised by them. 
Jesus's teaching has nothing to do with miracles. If his 
mission had been simply to demonstrate a new method of 
restoring lost eyesight, the miracle of curing the blind 
would have been entirely relevant. But to say " You 
should love your enemies ; and to convince you of this I 
will now proceed to cure this gentleman of cataract" would 
have been, to a man of Jesus's intelligence, the proposition 
of an idiot. If it could be proved today that not one of 
the miracles of Jesus actually occurred, that proof would 
not invalidate a single one of his didactic utterances; and 

Preface xxxlii 

conversely, if it could be proved that not only did the 
miracles actually occur, but that he had wrought a thousand 
other miracles a thousand times more w^onderful, not a jot 
of weight would be added to his doctrine. And yet the in- 
tellectual energy of sceptics and divines has been wasted 
for generations in arguing about the miracles on the 
assumption that Christianity is at stake in the controversy 
as to whether the stories of Matthew are false or true. 
According to Matthew himself, Jesus must have known 
this only too well ; for wherever he went he was assailed 
with a clamor for miracles, though his doctrine created 

So much for the miracles! Matthew tells us further, 
that Jesus declared that his doctrines would be attacked 
by Church and State, and that the common multitude were 
the salt of the earth and the light of the world. His dis- 
ciples, in their relations with the political and ecclesiastical 
organizations, would be as sheep among wolves. 

Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus. 

Matthew, like most biographers, strives to identify the 
opinions and prejudices of his herewith his own. Although 
he describes Jesus as tolerant even to carelessness, he draws 
the line at the Gentile, and represents Jesus as a bigoted 
Jew who regards his mission as addressed exclusively to 
" the lost sheep of the house of Israel." When a woman 
of Canaan begged Jesus to cure her daughter, he first re- 
fused to speak to her, and then told her brutally that "It 
is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the 
dogs." But when the woman said, "Truth, Lord; yet the 
dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table," 
she melted the Jew out of him and made Christ a Christian. 
To the woman whom he had just called a dog he said, " O 
woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou 
wilt." This is somehow one of the most touching stories 
in the gospel ; perhaps because the woman rebukes the 

xxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

prophet by a touch of his own finest quality. It is certainly 
out of character ; but as the sins of good men are always 
out of character, it is not safe to reject the story as invented 
in the interest of Matthew's determination that Jesus shall 
have nothing to do with the Gentiles. At all events, there 
the story is ; and it is by no means the only instance in 
which Matthew reports Jesus, in spite of the charm of his 
preaching, as extremely uncivil in private intercourse. 

The Great Change. 

So far the history is that of a man sane and interesting 
apart from his special gifts as orator, healer, and prophet. 
But a startling change occurs. One day, after the disciples 
have discouraged him for a long time by their misunder- 
standings of his mission, and their speculations as to whether 
he is one of the old prophets come again, and if so, which, 
his disciple Peter suddenly solves the problem by exclaim- 
ing, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." At 
this Jesus is extraordinarily pleased and excited. He declares 
that Peter has had a revelation straight from God. He 
makes a pun on Peter's name, and declares him the founder 
of his Church. And he accepts his destiny as a god by 
announcing that he will be killed when he goes to Jerusalem; 
for if he is really the Christ, it is a necessary part of his 
legendary destiny that he shall be slain. Peter, not under- 
standing this, rebukes him for what seems mere craven 
melancholy ; and Jesus turns fiercely on him and cries, "Get 
thee behind me, Satan." 

Jesus now becomes obsessed with a conviction of his 
divinity, and talks about it continually to his disciples, though 
he forbids them to mention it to others. They begin to dis- 
pute among themselves as to the position they shall occupy 
in heaven when his kingdom is established. He rebukes 
them strenuously for this, and repeats his teaching that 
greatness means service and not domination ; but he him- 
self, always instinctively somewhat haughty, now becomes 

Preface xxxv 

arrogant, dictatorial, and even abusive, never replying to 
his critics without an insulting epithet, and even cursing a 
fig-tree which disappoints him when he goes to it for fruit. 
He assumes all the traditions of the folk-lore gods, and 
announces that, like John Barleycorn, he will be barbarously 
slain and buried, but will rise from the earth and return to 
life. He attaches to himself the immemorial tribal ceremony 
of eating the god, by blessing bread and wine and handing 
them to his disciples with the words " This is my body : this 
is my blood." He forgets his own teaching and threatens 
eternal fire and eternal punishment. He announces, in 
addition to his Barleycorn resurrection, that he will come 
to the wforld a second time in glory and establish his king- 
dom on earth. He fears that this may lead to the appear- 
ance of impostors claiming to be himself, and declares 
explicitly and repeatedly that no matter what wonders 
these impostors may perform, his own coming will be un- 
mistakable, as the stars will fall from heaven, and trumpets 
be blown by angels. Further he declares that this will take 
place during the lifetime of persons then present. 

Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice. 

In this new frame of mind he at last enters Jerusalem 
amid great popular curiosity ; drives the moneychangers and 
sacrifice sellers out of the temple in a riot; refuses to in- 
terest himself in the beauties and wonders of the temple 
building on the ground that presently not a stone of it shall 
be left on another; reviles the high priests and elders in 
intolerable terms ; and is arrested by night in a garden to 
avoid a popular disturbance. He makes no resistance, being 
persuaded that it is part of his destiny as a god to be mur- 
dered and to rise again. One of his followers shews fight, 
and cuts off the ear of one of his captors. Jesus rebukes 
him, but does not attempt to heal the wound, though he 
declares that if he wished to resist he could easily summon 
twelve million angels to his aid. He is taken before the 

xxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

high priest and by him handed over to the Roman governor, 
who is puzzled by his silent refusal to defend himself in 
any way, or to contradict his accusers or their witnesses, 
Pilate having naturally no idea that the prisoner conceives 
himself as going through an inevitable process of torment, 
death, and burial as a prelude to resurrection. Before the 
high priest he has also been silent except that when the 
priest asks him is he the Christ, the Son of God, he replies 
that they shall all see the Son of Man sitting at the right 
hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. He 
maintains this attitude with frightful fortitude whilst they 
scourge him, mock him, torment him, and finally crucify 
him between two thieves. His prolonged agony of thirst 
and pain on the cross at last breaks his spirit, and he dies 
with a cry of " My God: why hast Thou forsaken me?" 

Not this Man but Barabbas. 

Meanwhile he has been definitely rejected by the people 
as well as by the priests. Pilate, pitying him, and unable 
to make out exactly what he has done (the blasphemy that 
has horrified the high priest does not move the Roman), 
tries to get him off by reminding the people that they have, 
by custom, the right to have a prisoner released at that 
time, and suggests that he should release Jesus. But they 
insist on his releasing a prisoner named Barabbas instead, 
and on having Jesus crucified. Matthew gives no clue to 
the popularity of Barabbas, describing him simply as "a 
notable prisoner." The later gospels make it clear, very 
significantly, that his offence was sedition and insurrection ; 
that he was an advocate of physical force ; and that he had 
killed his man. The choice of Barabbas thus appears as a 
popular choice of the militant advocate of physical force 
as against the unresisting advocate of mercy. 

Preface xxxvii 

The Resurrection. 

Matthew then tells how after three days an angel opened 
the family vault of one Joseph, a rich man of Arimathea, 
who had buried Jesus in it, whereupon Jesus rose and 
returned from Jerusalem to Galilee and resumed his preach- 
ing with his disciples, assuring them that he would now be 
with them to the end of the world. 

At that point the narrative abruptly stops. The story 
has no ending. 

Date of Matthew's Narrative. 

One effect of the promise of Jesus to come again in glory 
during the lifetime of some of his hearers is to date the 
gospel without the aid of any scholarship. It must have 
been written during the lifetime of Jesus's contemporaries: 
that is, whilst it was still possible for the promise of his 
Second Coming to be fulfilled. The death of the last person 
who had been alive when Jesus said "There be some of 
them that stand here that shall in no wise taste death til 
they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom " destroyed 
the last possibility of the promised Second Coming, and 
bore out the incredulity of Pilate and the Jews. And as 
Matthew writes as one believing in that Second Coming, and 
in fact left his story unfinished to be ended by it, he must 
have produced his gospel within a lifetime of the crucifixion. 
Also, he must have believed that reading books would be one 
of the pleasures of the kingdom of heaven on earth. 

Class Type of Matthew's Jesus. 

One more circumstance must be noted as gathered from 
Matthew. Though he begins his story in such a way as to 
suggest that Jesus belonged to the privileged classes, he 
mentions later on that when Jesus attempted to preach in 
his own country, and had no success there, the people said, 

xxxviii Androcles and the Lion 

"Is not this the carpenter's son?" But Jesus's manner 
throughout is that of an aristocrat, or at the very least the 
son of a rich bourgeois, and by no means a lowly-minded 
one at that. We must be careful therefore to conceive 
Joseph, not as a modern proletarian carpenter working for 
weekly wages, but as a master craftsman of royal descent. 
John the Baptist may have been a Keir Hardie; but the 
Jesus of Matthew is of the Ruskin-Morris class. 

This haughty characterization is so marked that if we 
had no other documents concerning Jesus than the gospel 
of Matthew, we should not feel as we do about him. 
We should have been much less loth to say, " There 
is a man here who was sane until Peter hailed him as the 
Christ, and who then became a monomaniac." We should 
have pointed out that his delusion is a very common de- 
lusion among the insane, and that such insanity is quite 
consistent with the retention of the argumentative cunning 
and penetration which Jesus displayed in Jerusalem 
after his delusion had taken complete hold of him. We 
should feel horrified at the scourging and mocking and 
crucifixion just as we should if Ruskin had been treated in 
that way when he also went mad, instead of being cared 
for as an invalid. And we should have had no clear per- 
ception of any special significance in his way of calling the 
Son of God the Son of Man. We should have noticed that 
he was a Communist ; that he regarded much of what we 
call law and order as machinery for robbing the poor under 
legal forms; that he thought domestic ties a snare for the 
soul ; that he agreed with the proverb " The nearer the 
Church, the farther from God"; that he saw very plainly 
that the masters of the community should be its servants 
and not its oppressors and parasites; and that though he 
did not tell us not to fight our enemies, he did tell us to 
love them, and warned us that they who draw the sword 
shall perish by the sword. All this shews a great power 
of seeing through vulgar illusions, and a capacity for 
a higher morality than has yet been established in any 

Preface xxxix 

civilized community; but it does not place Jesus above 
Confucius or Plato, not to mention more modern philo- 
sophers and moralists. 


The Women Disciples and the Ascension. 

Let us see whether wq can get anything more out of 
Mark, whose gospel, by the vay, is supposed to be older 
than Matthew's. Mark is brief; and it does not take long 
to discover that he adds nothing to Matthew except the 
ending of the story by Christ's ascension into heaven, and 
the news that many women had come with Jesus to Jeru- 
salem, including Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast 
seven devils. On the other hand Mark says nothing about 
the birth of Jesus, and does not touch his career until his 
adult baptism by John. He apparently regards Jesus as a 
native of Nazareth, as John does, and not of Bethlehem, as 
Matthew and Luke do, Bethlehem being the city of David, 
from whom Jesus is said by Matthew and Luke to be 
descended. He describes John's doctrine as " Baptism of 
repentance unto remission of sins" : that is, a form of Salva- 
tionism. He tells us that Jesus went into the synagogues 
and taught, not as the Scribes but as one having authority: 
that is, we infer, he preaches his own doctrine as an original 
moralist instead of repeating what the books say. He de- 
scribes the miracle of Jesus reaching the boat by walking 
across the sea, but says nothing about Peter trying to do 
the same. Mark sees what he relates more vividly than 
Matthew, and gives touches of detail that bring the event 
more clearly before the reader. He says, for instance, that 
when Jesus walked on the waves to the boat, he was passing 
it by when the disciples called out to him. He seems to 
feel that lesus's treatment of the woman of Canaan requires 

xl Androcles and the Lion 

some apology, and therefore says that she was a Greek of 
Syrophenician race, which probably excused any incivility 
to her in Mark's eyes. He represents the father of the boy 
whom Jesus cured of epilepsy after the transfiguration as 
a sceptic who says " Lord, I believe : help thou mine un- 
belief." He tells the story of the widow's mite, omitted by 
Matthew. He explains that Barabbas was "lying bound 
with them that made insurrection, men who in the insur- 
rection had committed murder." Joseph of Arimathea, who 
buried Jesus in his own tomb, and who is described by 
Matthew as a disciple, is described by Mark as " one who 
also himself was looking for the kingdom of God," which 
suggests that he was an independent seeker. Mark earns 
our gratitude by making no mention of the old prophecies, 
and thereby not only saves time, but avoids the absurd im- 
plication that Christ was merely going through a predeter- 
mined ritual, like the works of a clock, instead of living. 
Finally Mark reports Christ as saying, after his resurrec- 
tion, that those who believe in him will be saved and those 
who do not, damned; but it is impossible to discover 
whether he means anything by a state of damnation beyond 
a state of error. The paleographers regard this passage as 
tacked on by a later scribe. 

On the whole Mark leaves the modern reader where 
Matthew left him. 


Luke the Literary Artist. 

When we come to Luke, we come to a later story-teller, 
and one with a stronger natural gift for his art. Before you 
have read twenty lines of Luke's gospel you are aware that 
you have passed from the chronicler writing for the sake of 
recording important facts, to the artist, telling the story 

Preface xli 

for the sake of telling it. At the very outset he achieves 
the most charming idyll in the Bible : the story of Mary 
crowded out of the inn into the stable and laying her 
newly-born son in the manger, and of the shepherds abid- 
ing in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night, 
and how the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the 
glory of the Lord shone around them, and suddenly there 
was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host. These 
shepherds go to the stable and take the place of the kings 
in Matthew's chronicle. So completely has this story con- 
quered and fascinated our imagination that most of us 
suppose all the gospels to contain it ; but it is Luke's 
story and his alone : none of the others have the smallest 
hint of it. 

The Charm of Luke's Narrative. 

Luke gives the charm of sentimental romance to every 
incident. The Annunciation, as described by Matthew, is 
made to Joseph, and is simply a warning to him not to 
divorce his wife for misconduct. In Luke's gospel it is made 
to Mary herself, at much greater length, with a sense of the 
ecstasy of the bride of the Holy Ghost. Jesus is refined and 
softened almost out of recognition : the stern peremptory 
disciple of John the Baptist, who never addresses a Pharisee 
or a Scribe without an insulting epithet, becomes a con- 
siderate, gentle, sociable, almost urbane person ; and the 
Chauvinist Jew becomes a pro-Gentile who is thrown out 
of the synagogue in his own town for reminding the con- 
gregation that the prophets had sometimes preferred Gen- 
tiles to Jews. In fact they try to throw him down from a 
sort of Tarpeian rock which they use for executions; but 
he makes his way through them and escapes : the only 
suggestion of a feat of arms on his part in the gospels. 
There is not a word of the Syrophenician woman. At the 
end he is calmly superior to his sufferings ; delivers an 
address on his way to execution with unruffled composure ; 

xlii Androcles and the Lion 

does not despair on the cross ; and dies with perfect dignity, 
commending his spirit to God, after praying for the forgive- 
ness of his persecutors on the ground that "They know not 
what they do." According to Matthew, it is part of the 
bitterness of his death that even the thieves who are crucified 
with him revile him. According to Luke, only one of them 
does this ; and he is rebuked by the other, who begs Jesus to 
remember him when he comes into his kingdom. To which 
Jesus replies, " This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," 
implying that he will spend the three days of his death 
there. In short, every device is used to get rid of the ruth- 
less horror of the Matthew chronicle, and to relieve the 
strain of the Passion by touching episodes, and by repre- 
senting Christ as superior to human suffering. It is Luke's 
Jesus who has won our hearts. 

The Touch of Parisian Romance. 

Luke's romantic shrinking from unpleasantness, and his 
sentimentality, are illustrated by his version of the woman 
with the ointment. Matthew and Mark describe it as 
taking place in the house of Simon the Leper, where it is 
objected to as a waste of money. In Luke's version the 
leper becomes a rich Pharisee ; the woman becomes a Dame 
aux Camellias; and nothing is said about money and the 
poor. The woman washes the feet of Jesus with her tears 
and dries them with her hair ; and he is reproached for 
suffering a sinful woman to touch him. It is almost an 
adaptation of the unromantic Matthew to the Parisian 
stage. There is a distinct attempt to increase the feminine 
interest all through. The slight lead given by Mark is 
taken up and developed. More is said about Jesus's mother 
and her feelings. Christ's following of women, just men- 
tioned by Mark to account for their presence at his tomb, 
is introduced earlier; and some of the women are named; 
so that we are introduced to Joanna the wife of Chuza, 
Herod's steward, and Susanna. There is the quaint little 

Preface xlili 

domestic episode between Mary and Martha. There is the 
parable of the Prodigal Son, appealing to the indulgence 
romance has always shewn to Charles Surface and Des 
Grieux. Women follow Jesus to the cross ; and he makes 
them a speech beginning " Daughters of Jerusalem." 
Slight as these changes may seem, they make a great change 
in the atmosphere. The Christ of Matthew could never 
have become what is vulgarly called a woman's hero (though 
the truth is that the popular demand for sentiment, as far 
as it is not simply human, is more manly than womanly) ; 
but the Christ of Luke has made possible those pictures 
which now hang in many ladies' chambers, in which Jesus 
is represented exactly as he is represented in the Lourdes 
cinematograph, by a handsome actor. The only touch of 
realism which Luke does not instinctively suppress for the 
sake of producing this kind of amenity is the reproach 
addressed to Jesus for sitting down to table without washing 
his hands ; and that is retained because an interesting 
discourse hangs on it. 

Waiting for the Messiah. 

Another new feature in Luke's story is that it begins in 
a world in which everyone is expecting the advent of the 
Christ. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus comes into a normal 
Philistine world like our own of today. Not until the 
Baptist foretells that one greater than himself shall come after 
him does the old Jewish hope of a Messiah begin to stir again ; 
and as Jesus begins as a disciple of John, and is baptized 
by him, nobody connects him with that hope until Peter 
has the sudden inspiration which produces so startling an 
effect on Jesus. But in Luke's gospel men's minds, and 
especially women's minds, are full of eager expectation of 
a Christ not only before the birth of Jesus, but before the 
birth of John the Baptist, the event with which Luke begins 
his story. Whilst Jesus and John are still in their mothers' 
wombs, John leaps at the approach of Jesus when the two 

xliv Androcles and the Lion 

mothers visit one another. At the circumcision of Jesus 
pious men and women hail the infant as the Christ. 

The Baptist himself is not convinced ; for at quite a late 
period in his former disciple's career he sends two young 
men to ask Jesus is he really the Christ. This is note- 
worthy because Jesus immediately gives them a deliberate 
exhibition of miracles, and bids them tell John what they 
have seen, and ask him what he thinks nozv. This is in 
complete contradiction to what I have called the Rousseau 
view of miracles as inferred from Matthew. Luke shews all 
a romancer's thoughtlessness about miracles : he regards 
them as "signs": that is, as proofs of the divinity of the 
person performing them, and not merely of thaumaturgic 
powers. He revels in miracles just as he revels in parables : 
they make such capital stories. He cannot allow the calling 
of Peter, James, and John from their boats to pass without 
a comic miraculous overdraft of fishes, with the net sinking 
the boats and provoking Peter to exclaim, "Depart from 
me ; for I am a sinful man, O Lord," which should probably 
be translated, " I want no more of your miracles : natural 
fishing is good enough for my boats." 

There are some other novelties in Luke's version. Pilate 
sends Jesus to Herod, who happens to be in Jerusalem just 
then, because Herod had expressed some curiosity about 
him ; but nothing comes of it : the prisoner will not speak 
to him. When Jesus is ill received in a Samaritan village 
James and John propose to call down fire from heaven and 
destroy it; and Jesus replies that he is come not to destroy 
lives but to save them. The bias of Jesus against lawyers is 
emphasized, and also his resolution not to admit that he is 
more bound to his relatives than to strangers. He snubs a 
woman who blesses his mother. As this is contrary to the 
traditions of sentimental romance, Luke would presumably 
have avoided it had he not become persuaded that the 
brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God are 
superior even to sentimental considerations. The story of 
the lawyer asking what are the two chief commandments 

Preface xlv 

is changed by making Jesus put the question to the lawyer 
instead of answering it. 

As to doctrine, Luke is only clear when his feelings are 
touched. His logic is weak; for some of the sayings of 
Jesus are pieced together wrongly, as anyone who has read 
them, in the right order and context in Matthew will dis- 
cover at once. He does not make anything new out of 
Christ's mission, and, like the other evangelists, thinks that 
the whole point of it is that Jesus was the long expected 
Christ, and that he will presently come back to earth and 
establish his kingdom, having duly died and risen again 
after three days. Yet Luke not only records the teaching as 
to communism and the discarding of hate, which have, of 
course, nothing to do with the Second Coming, but quotes 
one very remarkable saying which is not compatible with 
it, which is, that people must not go about asking where 
the kingdom of heaven is, and saying "Lo, here!" and 
"Lo, there!" because the kingdom of heaven is within 
them. But Luke has no sense that this belongs to a quite 
different order of thought to his Christianity, and retains 
undisturbed his view of the kingdom as a locality as definite 
as Jerusalem or Madagascar. 


A New Story and a New Character. 

The gospel of John is a surprise after the others. Matthew, 
Mark and Luke describe the same events in the same order 
(the variations in Luke are negligible), and their gospels 
are therefore called the synoptic gospels. They tell sub- 
stantially the same story of a wandering preacher who at 
the end of his life came to Jerusalem. John describes a 
preacher who spent practically his whole adult life in the 
capital, with occasional visits to the provinces. His circum- 

xlvi Androcles and the Lion 

stantial account of the calling of Peter and the sons of 
Zebedee is quite different from the others; and he says 
nothing about their being fishermen. He says expressly that 
Jesus, though baptized by John, did not himself practise 
baptism, and that his disciples did. Christ's agonized appeal 
against his doom in the garden of Gethsemane becomes a 
cold-blooded suggestion made in the temple at a much 
earlier period. Jesus argues much more; complains a good 
deal of the unreasonableness and dislike with which he is 
met ; is by no means silent before Caiaphas and Pilate ; lays 
much greater stress on his resurrection and on the eating of 
his body (losing all his disciples except the twelve in con- 
sequence) ; says many apparently contradictory and non- 
sensical things to which no ordinary reader can now find 
any clue; and gives the impression of an educated, not to say 
sophisticated mystic, different both in character and school- 
ing from the simple and downright preacher of Matthew 
and Mark, and the urbane easy-minded charmer of Luke. 
Indeed, the Jews say of him "How knoweth this man 
letters, having never learnt?" 

John the Immortal Eye Witness. 

John, moreover, claims to be not only a chronicler but a 
witness. He declares that he is "the disciple whom jesus 
loved," and that he actually leaned on the bosom of Jesus 
at the last supper and asked in a whisper which of them it 
was that should betray him. Jesus whispered that he would 
give a sop to the traitor, and thereupon handed one to Judas, 
who ate it and immediately became possessed by the devil. 
This is more natural than the other accounts, in which 
Jesus openly indicates Judas without eliciting any protest 
or exciting any comment. It also implies that Jesus deliber- 
ately bewitched Judas in order to bring about his own 
betrayal. Later on John claims that Jesus said to Peter 
"If I will that John tarry til I come, what is that to thee ?" ; 
and John, with a rather obvious mock modesty, adds that he 

Preface xlvii 

must not claim to be immortal, as the disciples concluded ^ 
for Christ did not use that expression, but merely re- 
marked "If I will that he tarry til I come." No other 
evangelist claims personal intimacy with Christ, or even pre- 
tends to be his contemporary (there is no ground for identi- 
fying Matthew the publican with Matthew the Evangelist) ; 
and John is the only evangelist whose account of Christ's 
career and character is hopelessly irreconcilable with 
Matthew's. He is almost as bad as Matthew, by the way, 
in his repeated explanations of Christ's actions as having 
no other purpose than to fulfil the old prophecies. The 
impression is more unpleasant, because, as John, unlike 
Matthew, is educated, subtle, and obsessed with artificial 
intellectual mystifications, the discovery that he is stupid 
or superficial in so simple a matter strikes one with dis- 
trust and dislike, in spite of his great literary charm, a good 
example of which is his transfiguration of the harsh episode 
of the Syrophenician woman into the pleasant story of the 
woman of Samaria. This perhaps is why his claim to be 
John the disciple, or to be a contemporary of Christ or even 
of any survivor of Christ's generation, has been disputed, 
and finally, it seems, disallowed. But I repeat, I take no 
note here of the disputes of experts as to the date of the 
gospels, not because I am not acquainted with them, but 
because, as the earliest codices are Greek manuscripts of the 
fourth century a.d., and the Syrian ones are translations 
from the Greek, the paleographic expert has no difficulty 
in arriving at whatever conclusion happens to suit his beliefs 
or disbeliefs ; and he never succeeds in convincing the other 
experts except when they believe or disbelieve exactly as 
he does. Hence I conclude that the dates of the original 
narratives cannot be ascertained, and that we must make 
the best of the evangelists' own accounts of themselves. 
There is, as we have seen, a very marked difference between 
them, leaving no doubt that we are dealing with four 
authors of well-marked diversity ; but they all end in an atti- 
tude of expectancy of the Second Coming which they agree 

xlviii Androcles and the Lion 

in declaring Jesus to have positively and unequivocallv 
promised within the lifetime of his contemporaries. Any 
believer compiling a gospel after the last of these contem- 
poraries had passed away, would either reject and omit the 
tradition of that promise on the ground that since it was not 
fulfilled, and could never now be fulfilled, it could not have 
been made, or else have had to confess to the Jews, who 
were the keenest critics of the Christians, that Jesus was 
either an impostor or the victim of a delusion. Now all the 
evangelists except Matthew expressly declare themselves to 
be behevers ; and Matthew's narrative is obviously not 
that of a sceptic. I therefore assume as a matter of common 
sense that, interpolations apart, the gospels are derived 
from narratives written in the first century a.d. I include 
John, because though it may be claimed that he hedged 
his position by claiming that Christ, who specially loved 
him, endowed him with a miraculous life until the Second 
Coming, the conclusion being that John is alive at this 
moment, I cannot believe that a literary forger could hope 
to save the situation by so outrageous a pretension. Also, 
John's narrative is in many passages nearer to the realities 
of public life than the simple chronicle of Matthew or the 
sentimental romance of Luke. This may be because John 
was obviously more a man of the world than the others, 
and knew, as mere chroniclers and romancers never know, 
what actually happens away from books and desks. But it 
mav also be because he saw and heard what happened 
instead of collecting traditions about it. The paleographers 
and daters of first quotations may say what they please : 
John's claim to give evidence as an eyewitness whilst the 
others are only compiling history is supported by a certain 
verisimilitude which appeals to me as one who has preached 
a new doctrine and argued about it, as well as written 
stories. This verisimilitude may be dramatic art backed 
by knowledge of public life; but even at that we must not 
forget that the best dramatic art is the operation of a 
divinatory instinct for truth. Be that as it may, John was 

Preface xlix 

certainly not the man to believe in the Second Coming 
and yet give a date for it after that date had passed. There 
is really no escape from the conclusion that the originals 
of all the gospels date from the period within which there 
was still a possibility of the Second Coming occurring at 
the promised time. 

The Peculiar Theology of Jesus. 

In spite of the suspicions roused by John's idiosyncrasies, 
his narrative is of enormous importance to those who go to the 
gospels for a credible modern religion. For it is John who 
adds to the other records such sayings as that "I and my 
father are one"; that "God is a spirit"; that the aim of 
Jesus is not only that the people should have life, but that 
they should have it "more abundantly" (a distinction much 
needed by people who think a man is either alive or dead, 
and never consider the important question how much alive 
he is) ; and that men should bear in mind what they were 
told in the 82nd Psalm : that they are gods, and are respon- 
sible for the doing of the mercy and justice of God. The 
Jews stoned him for saying these things, and, when he re- 
monstrated with them for stupidly stoning one who had 
done nothing to them but good works, replied "For a good 
work we stone thee not ; but for blasphemy, because that 
thou, being a man, makest thyself God." He insists (refer- 
ring to the 82nd Psalm) that if it is part of their own religion 
that they are gods on the assurance of God himself, it 
cannot be blasphemy for him, whom the Father sanctified 
and sent into the world, to say "I am the son of God." 
But they will not have this at any price ; and he has to 
escape from their fury. Here the point is obscured by the 
distinction made by Jesus between himself and other men. 
He says, in effect, "If you are gods, then, a fortiori, I am 
a god." John makes him say this, just as he makes him say 
"I am the light of the world." But Matthew makes him 
say to the people "Ye are the light of the world." John has 

1 Androcles and the Lion 

no grip of the significance of these scraps which he has 
picked up : he is far more interested in a notion of his own 
that men can escape death and do even more extraordinary 
things than Christ himself: in fact, he actually represents 
Jesus as promising this explicitly, and is finally led into 
the audacious hint that he, John, is himself immortal in the 
flesh. Still, he does not miss the significant sayings alto- 
gether. However inconsistent they may be with the doctrine 
he is consciously driving at, they appeal to some sub-intel- 
lectual instinct in him that makes him stick them in, like a 
child sticking tinsel stars on the robe of a toy angel. 

John does not mention the ascension ; and the end of 
his narrative leaves Christ restored to life, and appearing 
from time to time among his disciples. It is on one of these 
occasions that John describes the miraculous draught of fishes 
which Luke places at the other end of Christ's career, at 
the call of the sons of Zebedee. 

John agreed as to the Trial and 

Although John, following his practice of shewing Jesus's 
skill as a debater, makes him play a less passive part at his 
trial, he still gives substantially the same account of it as all 
the rest. And the question that would occur to any modern 
reader never occurs to him, any more than it occurred to 
Matthew, Mark, or Luke. That question is. Why on earth 
did not Jesus defend himself, and make the people rescue 
him from the High Priest ? He was so popular that they 
w^ere unable to prevent him driving the moneychangers out 
of the temple, or to arrest him for it. When they did arrest 
him afterwards, they had to do it at night in a garden. He 
could have argued with them as he had often done in the 
temple, and justified himself both to the Jewish law and to 
Caesar. And he had physical force at his command to back 
up his arguments : all that was needed was a speech to rally 

Preface H 

his followers ; and he was not gagged. The reply of the 
evangelists would have been that all these inquiries are idle, 
because if Jesus had wished to escape, he could have saved 
himself all that trouble by doing what John describes him 
as doing : that is, casting his captors to the earth by an 
exertion of his miraculous power. If you asked John why 
he let them get up again and torment and execute him, 
John would have replied that it was part of the destiny of 
God to be slain and buried and to rise again, and that to 
have avoided this destiny would have been to repudiate his 
Godhead. And that is the only apparent explanation. 
Whether you believe with the evangelists that Christ could 
have rescued himself by a miracle, or, as a modern Secu- 
larist, point out that he could have defended himself effectu- 
ally, the fact remains that according to all the narratives 
he did not do so. He had to die like a god, not to save 
himself " like one of the princes." ^ The consensus on this 
point is important, because it proves the absolute sincerity 
of Jesus's declaration that he was a god. No impostor would 
have accepted such dreadful consequences without an effort 
to save himself. No impostor would have been nerved to 
endure them by the conviction that he would rise from the 
grave and live again after three days. If we accept the story 
at all, we must believe this, and believe also that his pro- 
mise to return in glory and establish his kingdom on earth 
within the lifetime of men then living, was one which he 
believed that he could, and indeed must fulfil. Two evan- 
gelists declare that in his last agony he despaired, and re- 
proached God for forsaking him. The other two represent 
him as dying in unshaken conviction and charity with the 
simple remark that the ordeal was finished. But all four 

1 Jesus himself had referred to that psalm (lxxxii) in which men 
who have judged unjustly and accepted the persons of the wicked (in- 
cluding by anticipation practically all the white inhabitants of the British 
Isles and the North American continent, to mention no other places) 
are condemned in the words, " I have said, ye are gods j and all of ye are 
children of the Most High; but ye shall die liice men, and fall like one 
of the princes." 

lii Androcles and the Lion 

testify that his faith was not deceived, and that he actually 
rose again after three days. And I think it unreasonable to 
doubt that all four wrote their narratives in full faith that 
the other promise would be fulfilled too, and that they 
themselves might live to witness the Second Coming. 

Credibility of the Gospels. 

It will be noted by the older among my readers, who are 
sure to be obsessed more or less by elderly wrangles as to 
whether the gospels are credible as matter-of-fact narratives, 
that I have hardly raised this question, and have accepted 
the credible and incredible with equal complacency. I have 
done this because credibility is a subjective condition, as 
the evolution of religious belief clearly shews. Belief is not 
dependent on evidence and reason. There is as much 
evidence that the miracles occurred as that the battle of 
Waterloo occurred, or that a large body of Russian troops 
passed through England in 1914 to take part in the war on 
the western front. The reasons for believing in the murder 
of Pompey are the same as the reasons for believing in the 
raising of Lazarus. Both have been believed and doubted by 
men of equal intelligence. Miracles, in the sense of pheno- 
mena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand : life 
itself is the miracle of miracles. Miracles in the sense of 
events that violate the normal course of our experience are 
vouched for every day : the flourishing Church of Christ 
Scientist is founded on a multitude of such miracles. 
Nobody believes all the miracles : everybody believes some 
of them. I cannot tell why men who will not believe that 
Jesus ever existed yet believe firmly that Shakespear was 
Bacon. I cannot tell why people who believe that angels 
appeared and fought on our side at the battle of Mons, and 
who believe that miracles occur quite frequently at Lourdes, 
nevertheless boggle at the miracle of the liquefaction of the 
blood of St Januarius, and reject it as a trick of priestcraft. 

Preface liii 

I cannot tell why people who will not believe Matthew's 
story of three kings bringing costly gifts to the cradle of 
Jesus, believe Luke's story of the shepherds and the stable. 
I cannot tell why people, brought up to believe the Bible 
in the old literal way as an infallible record and revelation, 
and rejecting that view later on, begin by rejecting the 
Old Testament, and give up the belief in a brimstone hell 
before they give up (if they ever do) the belief in a heaven 
of harps, crowns, and thrones. I cannot tell why people 
who will not believe in baptism on any terms believe in 
vaccination with the cruel fanaticism of inquisitors. I am con- 
vinced that if a dozen sceptics were to draw up in parallel 
columns a hst of the events narrated in the gospels which 
they consider credible and incredible respectively, their 
lists would be different in several particulars. Belief is 
literally a matter of taste. 

Fashions in Belief. 

Now matters of taste are mostly also matters of fashion. 
We are conscious of a difference between medieval fashions 
in belief and modern fashions. For instance, though we are 
more credulous than men were in the Middle Ages, and 
entertain such crowds of fortune-tellers, magicians, miracle 
workers, agents of communication with the dead, discoverers 
of the elixir of life, transmuters of metals, and healers of all 
sorts, as the Middle Ages never dreamed of as possible, 
yet we will not take our miracles in the form that con- 
vinced the Middle Ages. Arithmetical numbers appealed 
to the Middle Ages just as they do to us, because they are 
difficult to deal with, and because the greatest masters of 
numbers, the Newtons and Leibnitzes, rank among the 
greatest men. But there are fashions in numbers too. The 
Middle Ages took a fancy to some familiar number like 
seven ; and because it was an odd number, and the world 
was made in seven days, and there are seven stars in 
Charles's Wain, and for a dozen other reasons, they were 

liv Androcles and the Lion 

ready to believe anything that had a seven or a seven times 
seven in it. Seven deadly sins, seven swords of sorrow in 
the heart of the Virgin, seven champions of Christendom, 
seemed obvious and reasonable things to believe in simply 
because they were seven. To us, on the contrary, the 
number seven is the stamp of superstition. We will believe 
in nothing less than millions. A medieval doctor gained 
his patient's confidence by telling him that his vitals were 
being devoured by seven worms. Such a diagnosis would 
ruin a modern physician. The modern physician tells his 
patient that he is ill because every drop of his blood is 
swarming with a million microbes ; and the patient believes 
him abjectly and instantly. Had a bishop told William the 
Conqueror that the sun was seventy-seven miles distant 
from the earth, William would have believed him not only 
out of respect for the Church, but because he would have 
felt that seventy-seven miles was the proper distance. The 
Kaiser, knowing just as little about it as the Conqueror, 
would send that bishop to an asylum. Yet he (I presume) 
unhesitatingly accepts the estimate of ninety-two and nine- 
tenths millions of miles, or whatever the latest big figure 
may be. 

Credibility and Truth. 

And here I must remind you that our credulity is not to 
be measured by the truth of the things we believe. When 
men believed that the earth was flat, they were not credu- 
lous : they were using their common sense, and, if asked 
to prove that the earth was flat, would have said simply, 
"Look at it." Those who refuse to believe that it is round 
are exercising a wholesome scepticism. The modern man 
who believes that the earth is round is grossly credulous. 
Flat Earth men drive him to fury by confuting him with 
the greatest ease when he tries to argue about it. Confront 
him with a theory that the earth is cylindrical, or annular, 
or hour-glass shaped, and he is lost. The thing he believes 

Preface Iv 

may be true, but that is not why he believes it : he believes 
it because in some mysterious way it appeals to his imagi- 
nation. If you ask him why he believes that the sun is 
ninety-odd million miles off, either he will have to confess 
that he doesnt know, or he will say that Newton proved 
it. But he has not read the treatise in which Newton 
proved it, and does not even know that it was written in 
Latin. If you press an Ulster Protestant as to why he re- 
gards Newton as an infallible authority, and St Thomas 
Aquinas or the Pope as superstitious liars whom, after his 
death, he will have the pleasure of watching from his place 
in heaven whilst they roast in eternal flame, or if you ask 
me why I take into serious consideration Colonel Sir 
Almroth Wright's estimates of the number of streptococci 
contained in a given volume of serum whilst I can only 
laugh at the earlier estimates of the number of angels that 
can be accommodated on the point of a needle, no reason- 
able reply is possible except that somehow sevens and 
angels are out of fashion, and billions and streptococci 
are all the rage. I simply cannot tell you why Bacon, 
Montaigne, and Cervantes had a quite different fashion of 
credulity and incredulity from the Venerable Bede and 
Piers Plowman and the divine doctors of the Aquinas- 
Aristotle school, who were certainly no stupider, and had 
the same facts before them. Still less can I explain why, 
if we assume that these leaders of thought had all reasoned 
out their beliefs, their authority seemed conclusive to one 
generation and blasphemous to another, neither generation 
having followed the reasoning or gone into the facts of the 
matter for itself at all. 

It is therefore idle to begin disputing with the reader as 
to what he should believe in the gospels and what he should 
disbelieve. He will believe what he can, and disbelieve 
what he must. If he draws any lines at all, they will be 
quite arbitrary ones. St John tells us that when Jesus ex- 
plicitly claimed divine honors by the sacrament of his body 
and blood, so many of his disciples left him that their 


Ivi Androcles and the Lion 

number was reduced to twelve. Many modern readers will 
not hold out so long : they will give in at the first miracle. 
Others will discriminate. They will accept the healing 
miracles, and reject the feeding of the multitude. To some 
the walking on the water will be a legendary exaggeration 
of a swim, ending in an ordinary rescue of Peter ; and the 
raising of Lazarus will be only a similar glorification of a 
commonplace feat of artificial respiration, whilst others will 
scoff at it as a planned imposture in which Lazarus acted as 
a confederate. Between the rejection of the stories as wholly 
fabulous and the acceptance of them as the evangelists 
themselves mean them to be accepted, there will be many 
shades of belief and disbelief, of sympathy and derision. It 
is not a question of being a Christian or not, A Mahometan 
Arab will accept literally and without question parts of the 
narrative which an English Archbishop has to reject or ex- 
plain away ; and many Theosophists and lovers of the wisdom 
of India, who never enter a Christian Church except as 
sightseers, will revel in parts of John's gospel which mean 
nothing to a pious matter-of-fact Bradford manufacturer. 
Every reader takes from the Bible what he can get. In sub- 
mitting a precis of the gospel narratives I have not implied 
any estimate either of their credibility or of their truth. 
I have simply informed him or reminded him, as the case 
may be, of what those narratives tell us about their hero. 

Christian Iconolatry and the Peril 
of the Iconoclast. 

J must now abandon this attitude, and make a serious 
draft on the reader's attention by facing the question 
whether, if and when the medieval and Methodist will-to- 
believe the Salvationist and miraculous side of the gospel 
narratives fails us, as it plainly has failed the leaders of 
modern thought, there will be anything left of the mission 
of Jesus: whether, in short, we may not throw the gospels 

Preface Ivii 

into the waste-paper basket, or put them away on the fiction 
shelf of our libraries. I venture to reply that we shall be, 
on the contrary, in the position of the man in Bunyan's 
riddle who found that "the more he threw away, the more 
he had." We get rid, to begin with, of the idolatrous or 
iconographic worship of Christ. By this I mean literally 
that worship which is given to pictures and statues of him, 
and to finished and unalterable stories about him. The test 
of the prevalence of this is that if you speak or write of Jesus 
as a real live person, or even as a still active God, such 
worshippers are more horrified than Don Juan was when the 
statue stepped from its pedestal and came to supper with 
him. You may deny the divinity of Jesus ; you may doubt 
whether he ever existed ; you may reject Christianity for 
Judaism, Mahometanism, Shintoism, or Fire Worship ; and 
the iconolaters, placidly contemptuous, will only classify 
you as a freethinker or a heathen. But if you venture to 
wonder how Christ would have looked if he had shaved and 
had his hair cut, or what size in shoes he took, or whether 
he swore when he stood on a nail in the carpenter's shop, 
or could not button his robe when he was in a hurry, or 
whether he laughed over the repartees by which he baffled 
the priests when they tried to trap him into sedition and 
blasphemy, or even if you tell any part of his story in the 
vivid terms of modern colloquial slang, you will produce 
an extraordinary dismay and horror among the iconolaters. 
You will have made the picture come out of its frame, the 
statue descend from its pedestal, the story become real, with 
all the incalculable consequences that may flow from this 
terrifying miracle. It is at such moments that you realize 
that the iconolaters have never for a moment conceived 
Christ as a real person who meant what he said, as a fact, as 
a force like electricity, only needing the invention of suit- 
able political machinery to be applied to the affairs of 
mankind with revolutionary effect. 

Thus it is not disbelief that is dangerous in our society : 
it is belief. The moment it strikes you (as it may any day) 

Iviii Androcles and the Lion 

that Christ is not the lifeless harmless image he has hitherto 
been to you, but a rallying centre for revolutionary influ- 
ences which all established States and Churches fight, you 
must look to yourselves ; for you have brought the image to 
life ; and the mob may not be able to bear that horror. 

The Alternative to Barabbas. 

But mobs must be faced if civilization is to be saved. It 
did not need the present war to shew that neither the 
iconographic Christ nor the Christ of St Paul has succeeded 
in effecting the salvation of human society. Whilst I write, 
the Turks are said to be massacring the Armenian Christians 
on an unprecedented scale; but Europe is not in a position to 
remonstrate ; for her Christians are slaying one another by 
every device which civilization has put within their reach 
as busily as they are slaying the Turks. Barabbas is 
triumphant everywhere ; and the final use he makes of his 
triumph is to lead us all to suicide with heroic gestures and 
resounding lies. Now those who, like myself, see the Barab- 
basque social organization as a failure, and are convinced 
that the Life Force (or whatever you choose to call it) can- 
not be finally beaten by any failure, and will even supersede 
humanity by evolving a higher species if wc cannot master 
the problems raised by the multiplication of our own 
numbers, have always known that Jesus had a real message, 
and have felt the fascination of his character and doctrine. 
Not that we should nowadays dream of claiming any super- 
natural authority for him, much less the technical authority 
which attaches to an educated modern philosopher and 
jurist. But when, having entirely got rid of Salvationist 
Christianity, and even contracted a prejudice against Jesus 
on the score of his involuntary connection with it, we 
engage on a purely scientific study of economics, crimino- 
logy, and biology, and find that our practical conclusions 
are virtually those of Jesus, we are distinctly pleased and 
encouraged to find that we were doing him an injustice. 

Preface lix 

and that the nimbus that surrounds his head in the pictures 
may be interpreted some day as a light of science rather 
than a declaration of sentiment or a label of idolatry. 

The doctrines in which Jesus is thus confirmed are, 
roughly, the following : 

1. The kingdom of heaven is within you. You are the 
son of God ; and God is the son of man. God is a spirit, 
to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and not an elderly 
gentleman to be bribed and begged from. We are members 
one of another; so that you cannot injure or help your 
neighbor without injuring or helping yourself. God is your 
father : you are here to do God's work ; and you and your 
father are one. 

2. Get rid of property by throwing it into the common 
stock. Dissociate your work entirely from money payments. 
If you let a child starve you are letting God starve. Get 
rid of all anxiety about tomorrow's dinner and clothes, 
because you cannot serve two masters : God and Mammon. 

3. Get rid of judges and punishment and revenge. Love 
your neighbor as yourself, he being a part of yourself. And 
love your enemies : they are your neighbors. 

4. Get rid of your family entanglements. Every mother 
you meet is as much your mother as the woman who bore 
you. Every man you meet is as much your brother as the 
man she bore after you. Dont waste your time at family 
funerals grieving for your relatives: attend to life, not to 
death : there are as good fish in the sea as ever came out 
of it, and better. In the kingdom of heaven, which, as 
aforesaid, is within you, there is no marriage nor giving in 
marriage, because you cannot devote your life to two 
divinities : God and the person you are married to. 

Now these are very interesting propositions ; and they 
become more interesting every day, as experience and 
science drive us more and more to consider them favor- 
ably. In considering them, we shall waste our time unless 
we give them a reasonable construction. We must assume 
that the man who saw his way through such a mass of popular 

Ix Androcles and the Lion 

passion and illusion as stands between us and a sense of 
the value of such teaching was quite aware of all the objec- 
tions that occur to an average stockbroker in the first five 
minutes. It is true that the world is governed to a consider- 
able extent by the considerations that occur to stockbrokers 
in the first five minutes; but as the result is that the world 
is so badly governed that those who know the truth can 
hardly bear to live in it, an objection from an average 
stockbroker constitutes in itself a prima facie case for any 
social reform. 

The Reduction to Modern Practice of 

All the same, we must reduce the ethical counsels and 
proposals of Jesus to modern practice if they are to be of 
any use to us. If we ask our stockbroker to act simply as 
Jesus advised his disciples to act, he will reply, very justly, 
"You are advising me to become a tramp." If we urge a 
rich man to sell all that he has and give it to the poor, he 
will inform us that such an operation is impossible. If he 
sells his shares and his lands, their purchaser will continue 
all those activities which oppress the poor. If all the rich 
men take the advice simultaneously the shares will fall to 
zero and the lands be unsaleable. If one man sells out and 
throws the money into the slums, the only result will be to 
add himself and his dependents to the list of the poor, and 
to do no good to the poor beyond giving a chance few of 
them a drunken spree. We must therefore bear in mind 
that whereas, in the time of Jesus, and in the ages which 
grew darker and darker after his death until the darkness, 
after a brief false dawn in the Reformation and the Rena- 
scence, culminated in the commercial night of the nine- 
teenth century, it was believed that you could not make 
men good by Act of Parliament, we now know that you 
cannot make them good in any other way, and that a man 

Preface Ixi 

who is better than his fellows is a nuisance. The rich man 
must sell up not only himself but his whole class ; and that 
can be done only through the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
The disciple cannot have his bread without money until 
there is bread for everybody without money; and that re- 
quires an elaborate municipal organization of the food 
supply, rate supported. Being members one of another 
means One Man One Vote, and One Woman: One Vote, 
and universal suffrage and equal incomes and all sorts of 
modern political measures. Even in Syria in the time of 
Jesus his teachings could not possibly have been realized 
by a series of independent explosions of personal righteous- 
ness on the part of the separate units of the population. 
Jerusalem could not have done what even a village com- 
munity cannot do, and what Robinson Crusoe himself 
could not have done if his conscience, and the stern com- 
pulsion of Nature, had not imposed a common rule on the 
half dozen Robinson Crusoes who struggled within him for 
not wholly compatible satisfactions. And what cannot be 
done in Jerusalem or Juan Fernandez cannot be done in 
London, New York, Paris, and Berlin. 

In short, Christianity, good or bad, right or wrong, must 
perforce be left out of the question in human affairs until 
it is made practically applicable to them by complicated 
political devices ; and to pretend that a field preacher under 
the governorship of Pontius Pilate, or even Pontius Pilate 
himself in council with all the wisdom of Rome, could 
have worked out applications of Christianity or any other 
system of morals for the twentieth century, is to shelve the 
subject much more effectually than Nero and all its other 
persecutors ever succeeded in doing. Personal righteous- 
ness, and the view that you cannot make people moral by 
Act of Parliament, is, in fact, the favorite defensive resort 
of the people who, consciously or subconsciously, are quite 
determined not to have their property meddled with by 
Jesus or any other reformer. 

Ixii Androcles and the Lion 

Modern Communism. 

Now let us see what modern experience and modern 
sociology has to say to the teaching of Jesus as summarized 
on page lix. First, get rid of your property by throwing it 
into the common stock. One can hear the Pharisees of 
Jerusalem and Chorazin and Bethsaida saying, "My good 
fellow, if you were to divide up the wealth of Judea equally 
today, before the end of the year you would have rich and 
poor, poverty and affluence, just as you have today; for 
there will always be the idle and the industrious, the thrifty 
and the wasteful, the drunken and the sober ; and, as you 
yourself have very justly observed, the poor we shall have 
always with us." And we can hear the reply, "Woe unto 
you, liars and hypocrites ; for ye have this very day divided 
up the wealth of the country yourselves, as must be done 
every day (for man liveth not otherwise than from 
hand to mouth, nor can fish and eggs endure for ever) ; 
and ye have divided it unjustly; also ye have said that 
my reproach to you for having the poor always with 
you was a law unto you that this evil should persist and 
stink in the nostrils of God to all eternity; wherefore I 
think that Lazarus will yet see you beside Dives in hell." 
Modern Capitalism has made short work of the primitive 
pleas for inequality. The Pharisees themselves have organ- 
ized communism in capital. Joint stock is the order of the 
day. An attempt to return to individual properties as the 
basis of our production would smash civilization more com- 
pletely than ten revolutions. You cannot get the fields 
tilled today until the farmer becomes a co-operator. Take 
the shareholder to his railway, and ask him to point out to 
you the particular length of rail, the particular seat in the 
railway carriage, the particular lever in the engine that is 
his very own and nobody elscs ; and he will shun you as a 
madman, very wisely. And if, like Ananias and Sapphira, 
you try to hold back your little shop or what not from the 

Preface Ixiii 

common stock, represented by the Trust, or Combine, or 
Kartel, the Trust will presently freeze you out and rope you 
in and finally strike you dead industrially as thoroughly as 
St Peter himself. There is no longer any practical question 
open as to Communism in production : the struggle today 
is over the distribution of the product : that is, over the 
daily dividing-up which is the first necessity of organized 


Now it needs no Christ to convince anybody today that 
our system of distribution is wildly and monstrously wrong. 
We have million-dollar babies side by side with paupers 
worn out by a long life of unremitted drudgery. One person 
in every five dies in a workhouse, a public hospital, or a 
madhouse. In cities like London the proportion is very 
nearly one in two. Naturally so outrageous a distribution 
has to be effected by violence pure and simple. If you 
demur, you are sold up. If you resist the selling up you 
are bludgeoned and imprisoned, the process being euphem- 
istically called the maintenance of law and order. Iniquity 
can go no further. By this time nobody who knows the 
figures of the distribution defends them. The most bigoted 
British Conservative hesitates to say that his king should 
be much poorer than Mr Rockefeller, or to proclaim the 
moral superiority of prostitution to needlework on the 
ground that it pays better. The need for a drastic redistri- 
bution of income in all civilized countries is now as obvious 
and as generally admitted as the need for sanitation. 

Shall He Who Makes, Own ? 

It is when we come to the question of the proportions 
in which we are to redistribute that controversy begins. 
We are bewildered by an absurdly unpractical notion that 
in some way a man's income should be given to him, not 
to enable him to live, but as a sort of Sunday School Prize 

Ixiv Androcles and the Lion 

for good behavior. And this folly is complicated by a less 
ridiculous but quite as unpractical belief that it is possible 
to assign to each person the exact portion of the national 
income that he or she has produced. To a child it seems 
that the blacksmith has made a horse-shoe, and that there- 
fore ihe horse-shoe is his. But the blacksmith knows that 
the horse-shoe does not belong solely to him, but to his 
landlord, to the rate collector and taxgatherer, to the men 
from whom he bought the iron and anvil and the coals, 
leaving only a scrap of its value for himself; and this scrap 
he has to exchange with the butcher and baker and the 
clothier for the things that he really appropriates as living 
tissue or its wrappings, paying for all of them more than 
their cost ; for these fellow traders of his have also their 
landlords and moneylenders to satisfy. If, then, such simple 
and direct village examples of apparent individual production 
turn out on a moment's examination to be the products of an 
elaborate social organization, what is to be said of such pro- 
ducts as dreadnoughts, factory-made pins and needles, and 
steel pens ? If God takes the dreadnought in one hand 
and a steel pen in the other, and asks Job who made them, 
and to whom they should belong by maker's right. Job must 
scratch his puzzled head with a potsherd and be dumb, 
unless indeed it strikes him that God is the ultimate maker, 
and that all we have a right to do with the product is to 
feed his lambs. 

Labor Time. 

So maker's right as an alternative to taking the advice of 
Jesus would not work. In practice nothing was possible in 
that direction but to pay a worker by labor time : so much 
an hour or day or week or year. But how much? When 
that question came up, the only answer was " as little as he 
can be starved into accepting," with the ridiculous results 
already mentioned, and the additional anomaly that the 
largest share went to the people who did not work at all, 
and the least to those who worked hardest. In England 

Preface Ixv 

nine-tenths of the wealth goes into the pockets of one-tenth 
of the population. 

The Dream of Distribution According 
to Merit. 

Against this comes the protest of the Sunday School 
theorists "Why not distribute according to merit?" Here 
one imagines Jesus, whose smile has been broadening down 
the ages as attempt after attempt to escape from his teaching 
has led to deeper and deeper disaster, laughing outright. 
Was ever so idiotic a project mooted as the estimation of 
virtue in money? The London School of Economics is, we 
must suppose, to set examination papers with such questions 
as, "Taking the money value of the virtues of Jesus as loo, 
and of Judas Iscariot as zero, give the correct figures for, 
respectively, Pontius Pilate, the proprietor of the Gadarene 
swine, the widow who put her mite in the poor-box, Mr 
Horatio Bottomley, Shakespear, Mr Jack Johnson, Sir Isaac 
Newton, Palestrina, Offenbach, Sir Thomas Lipton, Mr 
Paul Cinquevalli, your family doctor, Florence Nightingale, 
Mrs Siddons, your charwoman, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and the common hangman." Or "The late Mr Barney 
Barnato received as his lawful income three thousand times 
as much money as an English agricultural laborer of good 
general character. Name the principal virtues in which 
Mr Barnato exceeded the laborer three thousandfold ; and 
give in figures the loss sustained by civilization when Mr 
Barnato was driven to despair and suicide by the reduction 
of his multiple to one thousand." The Sunday School idea, 
with its principle "to each the income he deserves," is 
really too silly for discussion. Hamlet disposed of it three 
hundred years ago. " Use every man after his deserts, and 
who shall scape whipping?" Jesus remains unshaken as the 
practical man ; and we stand exposed as the fools, the 
blunderers, the unpractical visionaries. The moment you 

Ixvi Androcles and the Lion 

try to reduce the Sunday School idea to figures you find 
that it brings you back to the hopeless plan of paying for 
a man's time ; and your examination paper will read " The 
time of Jesus was worth nothing (he complained that the 
foxes had holes and the birds of the air nests whilst he had 
not a place to lay his head). Dr Crippen's time was worth, 
say, three hundred and fifty pounds a year. Criticize this 
arrangement ; and, if you dispute its justice, state in pounds, 
dollars, francs and marks, what their relative time wages 
ought to have been." Your answer may be that the question 
is in extremely bad taste and that you decline to answer 
it. But you cannot object to being asked how many 
minutes of a bookmaker's time is worth two hours of an 
astronomer's ? 

Vital Distribution. 

In the end you are forced to ask the question you should 
have asked at the beginning. What do you give a man an 
income for? Obviously to keep him alive. Since it is 
evident that the first condition on which he can be kept 
alive without enslaving somebody else is that he shall pro- 
duce an equivalent for what it costs to keep him alive, we 
may quite rationally compel him to abstain from idling 
by whatever means we employ to compel him to abstain 
from murder, arson, forgery, or any other crime. The one 
supremely foolish thing to do with him is to do nothing: that 
is, to be as idle, lazy, and heartless in dealing with him as 
he is in dealing with us. Even if we provided work for him 
instead of basing, as we do, our whole industrial system on 
successive competitive waves of overwork with their ensuing 
troughs of unemployment, we should still sternly deny him 
the alternative of not doing it; for the result must be that 
he will become poor and make his children poor if he has 
any; and poor people are cancers in the commonwealth, 
costing far more than if they were handsomely pensioned 
off as incurables. Jesus had more sense than to propose 
anything of the sort. He said to his disciples, in effect, 

Preface Ixvii 

" Do your work for love ; and let the other people lodge 
and feed and clothe you for love." Or, as we should put 
it nowadays, "for nothing." All human experience and all 
natural uncommercialized human aspiration point to this as 
the right path. The Greeks said, "First secure an inde- 
pendent income; and then practise virtue." We all strive 
towards an independent income. We all know as well as 
Jesus did that if we have to take thought for the morrow 
as to whether there shall be anything to eat or drink it will 
be impossible for us to think of nobler things, or live a 
higher life than that of a mole, whose life is from beginning 
to end a frenzied pursuit of food. Until the community is 
organized in such a way that the fear of bodily want is 
forgotten as completely as the fear of wolves already is in 
civilized capitals, we shall never have a decent social life. 
Indeed the whole attraction of our present arrangements 
lies in the fact that they do relieve a handful of us from this 
fear; but as the relief is effected stupidly and wickedly by 
making the favored handful parasitic on the rest, they are 
smitten with the degeneracy which seems to be the inevit- 
able biological penalty of complete parasitism, and corrupt 
culture and statecraft instead of contributing to them, their 
excessive leisure being as mischievous as the excessive toil 
of the laborers. Anyhow, the moral is clear. The two main 
problems of organized society, how to secure the subsistence 
of all its members, and how to prevent the theft of that 
subsistence by idlers, should be entirely dissociated ; and the 
practical failure of one of them to automatically achieve the 
other recognized and acted on. We may not all have Jesus's 
psychological power of seeing, without any enlightenment 
from more modern economic phenomena, that they must 
fail ; but we all have the hard fact before us that they do 
fail. The only people who cling to the lazy delusion that 
it is possible to find a just distribution that will work auto- 
matically are those who postulate some revolutionary change 
like land nationalization, which by itself would obviously 
only force into greater urgency the problem of how to dis- 

Ixviii Androcles and the Lion 

tribute the product of the land among all the individuals 
in the community. 

Equal Distribution. 

When that problem is at last faced, the question of the 
proportion in which the national income shall be distributed 
can have only one answer. All our shares must be equal. 
It has always been so : it always will be so. It is true that 
the incomes of robbers vary considerably from individual 
to individual ; and the variation is reflected in the incomes 
of their parasites. The commercialization of certain excep- 
tional talents has also produced exceptional incomes, 
direct and derivative. Persons who live on rent of land and 
capital are economically, though not legally, in the category 
of robbers, and have grotesquely different incomes. But in 
the huge mass of mankind variation of income from indi- 
vidual to individual is unknown, because it is ridiculously 
impracticable. As a device for persuading a carpenter that a 
judge is a creature of superior nature to himself, to be 
deferred and submitted to even to the death, we may give 
a carpenter a hundred pounds a year and a judge five 
thousand ; but the wage for one carpenter is the wage for 
all the carpenters : the salary for one judge is the salary 
for all the judges. 

The Captain and the Cabin Boy. 

Nothing, therefore, is really in question, or ever has 
been, but the differences between class incomes. Already 
there is economic equality between captains, and economic 
equality between cabin boys. What is at issue still is 
whether there shall be economic equality between captains 
and cabin boys. What would Jesus have said ? Presumably 
he would have said that if your only object is to produce 
a captain and a cabin boy for the purpose of transferring 
you from Liverpool to New York, or to manoeuvre a fleet 

Preface Ixlx 

and carry powder from the magazine to the gun, then you 
need give no more than a shilling to the cabin boy for every 
pound you give to the more expensively trained captain. 
But if in addition to this you desire to allow the two human 
souls which are inseparable from the captain and the cabin 
boy, and which alone differentiate them from the donkey- 
engine, to develop all their possibilities, then you may find 
the cabin boy costing rather more than the captain, 
because cabin boy's work does not do so much for 
the soul as captain's work. Consequently you will have 
to give him at least as much as the captain unless you 
definitely wish him to be a lower creature, in which case 
the sooner you are hanged as an abortionist the better. 
That is the fundamental argument. 

The Political and Biological Objections 
to Inequality. 

But there are other reasons for objecting to class stratifi- 
cation of income which have heaped themselves up since 
the time of Jesus. In politics it defeats every form of 
government except that of a necessarily corrupt oligarchy. 
Democracy in the most democratic modern republics : 
France and the United States for example, is an imposture 
and a delusion. It reduces justice and law to a farce : law 
becomes merely an instrument for keeping the poor in sub- 
jection ; and accused workmen are tried, not byajuryof their 
peers, but by conspiracies of their exploiters. The press is 
the press of the rich and the curse of the poor : it becomes 
dangerous to teach men to read. The priest becomes the 
mere complement of the pohceman in the machinery by 
which the countryhouse oppresses the village. Worst of all, 
marriage becomes a class affair : the infinite variety of choice 
which nature offers to the young in search of a mate is 
narrowed to a handful of persons of similar income ; and 
beauty and health become the dreams of artists and the 
advertisements of quacks instead of the normal conditions 

Ixx Androcles and the Lion 

of life. Society is not only divided but actually destroyed 
in all directions by inequality of income between classes : 
such stability as it has is due to the huge blocks of people 
between whom there is equality of income. 

Jesus as Economist. 

It seems therefore that we must begin by holding the 
right to an income as sacred and equal, just as we now 
begin by holding the right to life as sacred and equal. In- 
deed the one right is only a restatement of the other. To 
hang me for cutting a dock laborer's throat after making much 
of me for leaving him to starve when I do not happen to 
have a ship for him to unload is idiotic ; for as he does far 
less mischief with his throat cut than when he is starving, 
a rational society would esteem the cutthroat more highly 
than the capitalist. The thing has become so obvious, and 
the evil so unendurable, that if our attempt at civilization 
is not to perish like all the previous ones, we shall have to 
organize our society in such a way as to be able to say to 
every person in the land, "Take no thought, saying What 
shall we eat ? or What shall we drink } or Wherewithal 
shall we be clothed .?" We shall then no longer have a race 
of men whose hearts are in their pockets and safes and at 
their bankers. As Jesus said, where your treasure is, there 
will your heart be also. That was why he recommended 
that money should cease to be a treasure, and that we should 
take steps to make ourselves utterly reckless of it, setting our 
minds free for higher uses. In other words, that we should 
all be gentlemen and take care of our country because our 
country takes care of us, instead of the commercialized cads 
we are, doing everything and anything for money, and 
selling our souls and bodies by the pound and the inch after 
wasting half the day haggling over the price. Decidedly, 
whether you think Jesus was God or not, you must admit 
that he was a first-rate political economist. 

Preface Ixxi 

Jesus as Biologist. 

He was also, as we now see, a first-rate biologist. It 
took a century and a half of evolutionary preachers, from 
BufFon and Goethe to Butler and Bergson, to convince us 
that we and our father are one ; that as the kingdom of 
heaven is within us we need not go about looking for it 
and crying Lo here ! and Lo there ! ; that God is not a 
picture of a pompous person in white robes in the family 
Bible, but a spirit; that it is through this spirit that we 
evolve towards greater abundance of life; that we are the 
lamps in which the light of the world burns : that, in 
short, we are gods though we die like men. All that is 
today sound biology and psychology; and the efforts of 
Natural Selectionists like Weismann to reduce evolution to 
mere automatism have not touched the doctrine of Jesus, 
though they have made short work of the theologians who 
conceived God as a magnate keeping men and angels as 
Lord Rothschild keeps buffaloes and emus at Tring. 

Money the Midwife of Scientific 

It may be asked here by some simple-minded reader why 
we should not resort to crude Communism as the disciples 
were told to do. This would be quite practicable in a village 
where production was limited to the supply of the primitive 
wants which nature imposes on all human beings alike. 
We know that people need bread and boots without wait- 
ing for them to come and ask for these things and offer to 
pay for them. But when civilization advances to the point 
at which articles are produced that no man absolutely 
needs and that only some men fancy or can use, it is 
necessary that individuals should be able to have things 
made to their order and at their own cost. It is safe to 
provide bread for everybody because everybody wants and 


Ixxii Androcles and the Lion 

eats bread ; but it would be absurd to provide microscopes 
and trombones, pet snakes and polo mallets, alembics and 
test tubes for everybody, as nine-tenths of them would be 
wasted ; and the nine-tenths of the population who do not 
use such things would object to their being provided at all. 
We have in the invaluable instrument called money a 
means of enabling every individual to order and pay for 
the particular things he desires over and above the things 
he must consume in order to remain alive, plus the things 
the State insists on his having and using whether he wants 
to or not : for example, clothes, sanitary arrangements, 
armies and navies. In large communities, where even the 
most eccentric demands for manufactured articles average 
themselves out until they can be foreseen within a negligible 
margin of error, direct communism (Take what you want 
without payment, as the people do in Morris's News From 
Nowhere) will, after a little experience, be found not only 
practicable but highly economical to an extent that now 
seems impossible. The sportsmen, the musicians, the phy- 
sicists, the biologists will get their apparatus for the asking as 
easily as their bread, or, as at present, their paving, street 
lighting, and bridges; and the deaf man will not object to 
contribute to communal flutes when the musician has to 
contribute to communal ear trumpets. There are cases (for 
example, radium) in which the demand may be limited to 
the merest handful of laboratory workers, and in which 
nevertheless the whole community must pay because the 
price is beyond the means of any individual worker. But 
even when the utmost allowance is made for extensions of 
communism that now seem fabulous, there will still remain 
for a long time to come regions of supply and demand 
in which men will need and use money or individual 
credit, and for which, therefore, they must have individual 
incomes. Foreign travel is an obvious instance. We are 
so far from even national communism still, that we shall 
probably have considerable developments of local com- 
munism before it becomes possible for a Manchester man 

Preface Ixxili 

to go up to London for a day without taking any money 
with him. The modern practical form of the communism 
of Jesus is therefore, for the present, equal distribution of 
the surplus of the national income that is not absorbed by 
simple communism. 

Judge Not. 

In dealing with crime and the family, modern thought 
and experience have thrown no fresh light on the views of 
Jesus. When Swift had occasion to illustrate the corrup- 
tion oF our civilization by making a catalogue of the types of 
scoundrels it produces, he always gave judges a conspicuous 
place alongside of them they judged. And he seems to have 
done this not as a restatement of the doctrine of Jesus, but 
as the outcome of his own observation and judgment. One 
of Mr Gilbert Chesterton's stories has for its hero a judge 
who, whilst trying a criminal case, is so overwhelmed by 
the absurdity of his position and the wickedness of the 
things it forces him to do, that he throws off the ermine 
there and then, and goes out into the world to live the life 
of an honest man instead of that of a cruel idol. There 
has also been a propaganda of a soulless stupidity called 
Determinism, representing man as a dead object driven 
hither and thither by his environment, antecedents, circum- 
stances, and so forth, which nevertheless does remind us 
that there are limits to the number of cubits an individual 
can add to his stature morally or physically, and that it is 
silly as well as cruel to torment a man five feet high for 
not being able to pluck fruit that is within the reach of men 
of average height. I have known a case of an unfortunate 
child being beaten for not being able to tell the time after 
receiving an elaborate explanation of the figures on a clock 
dial, the fact being that she was short-sighted and could 
not see them. This is a typical illustration of the absurdi- 
ties and cruelties into which we are led by the counter- 
stupidity to Determinism : the doctrine of Free Will. The 
notion that people can be good if they like, and that you 

Ixxiv Androcles and the Lion 

should give them a powerful additional motive for goodness 
by tormenting them when they do evil, would soon reduce 
itself to absurdity if its application were not kept within the 
limits which nature sets to the self-control of most of us. 
Nobody supposes that a man with no ear for music or no 
mathematical faculty could be compelled on pain of death, 
however cruelly inflicted, to hum all the themes of Bee- 
thoven's symphonies or to complete Newton's work on 

Limits to Free Will. 

Consequently such of our laws as are not merely the 
intimidations by which tyrannies are maintained under 
pretext of law, can be obeyed through the exercise of a 
quite common degree of reasoning power and self-control. 
Most men and women can endure the ordinary annoyances 
and disappointments of life without committing murderous 
assaults. They conclude therefore that any person can re- 
frain from such assaults if he or she chooses to, and proceed 
to reinforce self-control by threats of severe punishment. 
But inthistheyare mistaken. There are people, someof them 
possessing considerable powers of mind and body, who can 
no more restrain the fury into which a trifling mishap throws 
them than a dog can restrain himself from snapping if he is 
suddenly and painfully pinched. People fling knives and 
lighted paraffin lamps at one another in a dispute over a 
dinner-table. Men who have suffered several long sentences 
of penal servitude for murderous assaults will, the very day 
after they are released, seize their wives and cast them 
under drays at an irritating word. We have not only people 
who cannot resist an opportunity of stealing for the sake of 
satisfying their wants, but even people who have a specific 
mania for stealing, and do it when they are in no need of 
the things they steal. Burglary fascinates some men as 
sailoring fascinates some boys. Among respectable people 
how many are there who can be restrained by the warnings 
of their doctors and the lessons of experience from eating 

Preface Ixxv 

and drinking more than is good for them? It is true that 
between self- controlled people and ungovernable people 
there is a narrow margin of moral malingerers who can be 
made to behave themselves by the fear of consequences; 
but it is not worth while maintaining an abominable system 
of malicious, deliberate, costly and degrading ill-treatment 
of criminals for the sake of these marginal cases. For prac- 
tical dealing with crime, Determinism or Predestination is 
quite a good working rule. People without self-control 
enough for social purposes may be killed, or may be kept in 
asylums with a view to studying their condition and ascer- 
taining whether it is curable. To torture them and give 
ourselves virtuous airs at their expense is ridiculous and 
barbarous ; and the desire to do it is vindictive and cruel. 
And though vindictiveness and cruelty are at least human 
qualities when they are frankly proclaimed and indulged, 
they are loathsome when they assume the robes of Justice. 
Which, I take it, is why Shakespear's Isabella gave such a 
dressing-down to Judge Angelo, and why Swift reserved the 
hottest corner of his hell for judges. Also, of course, why 
Jesus said "Judge not that ye be not judged " and " If any 
man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not" 
because "he hath one that judgeth him": namely, the 
Father who is one with him. 

When we are robbed we generally appeal to the criminal 
law, not considering that if the criminal law were effective 
we should not have been robbed. That convicts us of 

I need not elaborate the argument further. I have dealt 
with it sufficiently elsewhere. I have only to point out that 
we have been judging and punishing ever since Jesus told 
us not to ; and I defy anyone to make out a convincing case 
for believing that the world has been any better than it 
would have been if there had never been a judge, a prison, 
or a gallows in it all that time. We have simply added the 
misery of punishment to the misery of crime, and the cruelty 
of the judge to the cruelty of the criminal. We have taken 

Ixxvi Androcles and the Lion 

the bad man, and made him worse by torture and degrada- 
tion, incidentally making ourselves worse in the process. 
It does not seem very sensible, does it? It would have been 
far easier to kill him as kindly as possible, or to label him 
and leave him to his conscience, or to treat him as an in- 
valid or a lunatic is now treated (it is only of late years, by 
the way, that madmen have been delivered from the whip, 
the chain, and the cage) ; and this, I presume, is the form 
in which the teaching of Jesus could have been put into 

Jesus on Marriage and the Family. 

When we come to marriage and the family, we find Jesus 
making the same objection to that individual appropriation 
of human beings which is the essence of matrimony as to 
the individual appropriation of wealth. A married man, he 
said, will try to please his wife, and a married woman to 
please her husband, instead of doing the work of God. 
This is another version of "Where your treasure is, there 
will your heart be also." Eighteen hundred years later we 
find a very different person from Jesus, Talleyrand to wit, 
saying the same thing. A married man with a family, said 
Talleyrand, will do anything for money. Now this, though 
not a scientifically precise statement, is true enough to be 
a moral objection tomarriage. As long as a man has a right to 
risk his lifeor his livelihood forhis idcashe needs only courage 
and conviction to make his integrity unassailable. But he 
forfeits that right when he marries. It took a revolution to 
rescue Wagner from his Court appointment at Dresden; 
and his wife never forgave him for being glad and feeling 
free when he lost it and threw her back into poverty. 
Millet might have gone on painting potboiling nudes to 
the end of his life if his wife had not been of a heroic turn 
herself. Women, for the sake of their children and parents, 
submit to slaveries and prostitutions that no unattached 
woman would endure. 

Preface Ixxvii 

This was the beginning and the end of the objection of 
Jesus to marriage and family ties, and the explanation of 
his conception of heaven as a place where there should be 
neither marrying nor giving in marriage. Now there is no 
reason to suppose that when he said this he did not mean 
it. He did not, as St Paul did afterwards in his name, pro- 
pose celibacy as a rule of Hfe ; for he was not a fool, nor, 
when he denounced marriage, had he yet come to believe, 
as St Paul did, that the end of the world was at hand and 
there was therefore no more need to replenish the earth. 
He must have meant that the race should be continued 
without dividing with women and men the allegiance the 
individual owes to God within him. This raises the prac- 
tical problem of how we are to secure the spiritual freedom 
and integrity of the priest and the nun without their barren- 
ness and uncompleted experience. Luther the priest did 
not solve the problem by marrying a nun : he only testified 
in the most convincing and practical way to the fact that 
celibacy was a worse failure than marriage. 

Why Jesus did not Marry. 

To all appearance the problem oppresses only a few ex- 
ceptional people. Thoroughly conventional women married 
to thoroughly conventional men should not be conscious of 
any restriction : the chain not only leaves them free to do 
whatever they want to do, but greatly facilitates their doing 
it. To them an attack on marriage is not a blow struck in 
defence of their freedom but at their rights and privileges. 
One would expect that they would not only demur vehe- 
mently to the teachings of Jesus in this matter, but object 
strongly to his not having been a married man himself. 
Even those who regard him as a god descended from his 
throne in heaven to take on humanity for a time might 
reasonably declare that the assumption of humanity must 
have been incomplete at its most vital point if he were 
a celibate. But the facts are flatly contrary. The mere 

Ixxvili Androcles and the Lion 

thought of Jesus as a married man is felt to be blasphemous 
by the most conventional believers; and even those of us 
to whom Jesus is no supernatural personage, but a prophet 
only as Mahomet was a prophet, feel that there was some- 
thing more dignified in the bachelordom of Jesus than in 
the spectacle of Mahomet lying distracted on the floor of 
his harem whilst his wives stormed and squabbled and 
henpecked round him. We are not surprised that when 
Jesus called the sons of Zebedee to follow him, he did not 
call their father, and that the disciples, like Jesus himself, 
were all men without family entanglements. It is evident 
from his impatience when people excused themselves from 
following him because of their family funerals, or when 
they assumed that his first duty was to his mother, that he 
had found family ties and domestic affections in his way at 
every turn, and had become persuaded at last that no man 
could follow his inner light until he was free from their 
compulsion. The absence of any protest against this tempts 
us to declare that on this question of marriage there are no 
conventional people; and that everyone of us is at heart a 
good Christian sexually. 

Inconsistency of the Sex Instinct. 

But the question is not so simple as that. Sex is an ex- 
ceedingly subtle and complicated instinct ; and the mass of 
mankind neither know nor care much about freedom of 
conscience, which is what Jesus was thinking about, and 
are concerned almost to obsession with sex, as to which 
Jesus said nothing. In our sexual natures we are torn by 
an irresistible attraction and an overwhelming repugnance 
and disgust. We have two tyrannous physical passions : 
concupiscence and chastity. We become mad in pursuit of 
sex : we become equally mad in the persecution of that 
pursuit. Unless we gratify our desire the race is lost : 
unless we restrain it we destroy ourselves. We are thus led 
to devise marriage institutions which will at the same time 

Preface Ixxix 

secure opportunities for the gratification of sex and raise 
up innumerable obstacles to it; which will sanctify it and 
brand it as infamous; which will identify it with virtue 
and with sin simultaneously. Obviously it is useless to look 
for any consistency in such institutions ; and it is only by 
continual reform and readjustment, and by a considerable 
elasticity in their enforcement, that a tolerable result can 
be arrived at. I need not repeat here the long and elaborate 
examination of them that I prefixed to my play entitled 
Getting Married. Here I am concerned only with the 
views of Jesus on the question ; and it is necessary, in order 
to understand the attitude of the world towards them, that 
we should not attribute the general approval of the decision 
of Jesus to remain unmarried as an endorsement of his 
views. We are simply in a state of confusion on the sub- 
ject; but it is part of the confusion that we should con- 
clude that Jesus was a celibate, and shrink even from 
the idea that his birth was a natural one, yet cling 
with ferocity to the sacredness of the institution which 
provides a refuge from celibacy. 

For Better for Worse. 

Jesus, however, did not express a complicated view of 
marriage. His objection to it was quite simple, as we have 
seen. He perceived that nobody could live the higher life 
unless money and sexual love were obtainable without 
sacrificing it; and he saw that the effect of marriage as it 
existed among the Jews (and as it still exists among our- 
selves) was to make the couples sacrifice every higher con- 
sideration until they had fed and pleased one another. The 
worst of it is that this dangerous preposterousness in mar- 
riage, instead of improving as the general conduct of 
married couples improves, becomes much worse. The 
selfish man to whom his wife is nothing but a slave, the 
selfish woman to whom her husband is nothing but a scape- 
goat and a breadwinner, are not held back from spiritual or 

Ixxx Androcles and the Lion 

any other adventures by fear of their eiFect on the welfare 
of their mates. Their wives do not make recreants and 
cowards of them : their husbands do not chain them to the 
cradle and the cooking range when their feet should be 
beautiful on the mountains. It is precisely as people become 
more kindly, more conscientious, more ready to shoulder 
the heavier part of the burden (which means that the 
strong shall give way to the weak and the slow hold back 
the swift), that marriage becomes an intolerable obstacle 
to individual evolution. And that is why the revolt against 
marriage of which Jesus was an exponent always recurs 
when civilization raises the standard of marital duty and 
affection, and at the same time produces a greater need for 
individual freedom in pursuit of a higher evolution. 

The Remedy. 

This, fortunately, is only one side of marriage ; and the 
question arises, can it not be eliminated ? The reply is re- 
assuring : of course it can. There is no mortal reason in the 
nature of things why a married couple should be economic- 
ally dependent on one another. The Communism advo- 
cated by Jesus, whichwe have seen to be entirely practicable, 
and indeed inevitable if our civilization is to be saved from 
collapse, gets rid of that difficulty completely. And with the 
economic dependence will go the force of the outrageous 
claims that derive their real sanction from the economic 
pressure behind them. When a man allows his wife to turn 
him from the best work he is capable of doing, and to sell 
his soul at the highest commercial prices obtainable; when 
he allows her to entangle him in a social routine that is 
wearisome and debilitating to him, or tie him to her apron 
strings when he needs that occasional solitude which is 
one of the most sacred of human rights, he does so because 
he has no right to impose eccentric standards of expenditure 
and unsocial habits on her, and because these conditions 
have produced by their pressure so general a custom of 

Preface Ixxxi 

chaining wedded couples to one another that married people 
are coarsely derided when their partners break the chain. 
And when a woman is condemned by her parents to wait 
in genteel idleness and uselessness for a husband when all 
her healthy social instincts call her to acquire a profession 
and work, it is again her economic dependence on them 
that makes their tyranny effective. 

The Case for Marriage. 

Thus, though it would be too much to say that every- 
thing that is obnoxious in marriage and family life will be 
cured by Communism, yet it can be said that it will cure 
what Jesus objected to in these institutions. He made no 
comprehensive study of them : he only expressed his own 
grievance with an overwhelming sense that it is a grievance 
so deep that all the considerations on the other side are as dust 
in the balance. Obviously there are such considerations, 
and very weighty ones too. When Talleyrand said that a 
married man with a family is capable of anything, he meant 
anything evil ; but an optimist may declare, with equal half 
truth, that a married man is capable of anything good ; 
that marriage turns vagabonds into steady citizens ; and that 
men and women will, for love of their mates and children, 
practise virtues that unattached individuals are incapable of. 
It is true that too much of this domestic virtue is self- 
denial, which is not a virtue at all ; but then the following 
of the inner light at all costs is largely self-indulgence, 
which is just as suicidal, just as weak, just as cowardly as 
self-denial. Ibsen, who takes us into the matter far more 
resolutely than Jesus, is unable to find any golden rule : 
both Brand and Peer Gynt come to a bad end ; and though 
Brand does not do as much mischief as Peer, the mischief 
he does do is of extraordinary intensity. 

Ixxxii Androcles and the Lion 
Celibacy no Remedy. 

We must, I think, regard the protest of Jesus against 
marriage and family ties as the claim of a particular kind 
of individual to be free from them because they hamper 
his own work intolerably. When he said that if we are to 
follow him in the sense of taking up his work we must 
give up our family ties, he was simply stating a fact; and 
to this day the Roman Catholic priest, the Buddhist lama, 
and the fakirs of all the eastern denominations accept the 
saying. It is also accepted by the physically enterprising, 
the explorers, the restlessly energetic of all kinds: in short, 
by the adventurous. The greatest sacrifice in marriage is the 
sacrifice of the adventurous attitude towards life : the being 
settled. Those who are born tired may crave for settle- 
ment; but to fresher and stronger spirits it is a form of 

Now to say of any institution that it is incompatible 
with both the contemplative and adventurous life is to dis- 
grace it so vitally that all the moralizings of all the Deans 
and Chapters cannot reconcile our souls to its slavery. The 
unmarriedjesusand the unmarried Beethoven, the unmarried 
Joan of Arc, Clare, Teresa, Florence Nightingale seem as 
they should be ; and the saying that there is always some- 
thing ridiculous about a married philosopher becomes inevit- 
able. And yet the celibate is still more ridiculous than the 
married man : the priest, in accepting the alternative of 
celibacy, disables himself; and the best priests are those 
who have been men of this world before they became men 
of the world to come. But as the taking of vows does not 
annul an existing marriage, and a married man cannot 
become a priest, we are again confronted with the absurdity 
that the best priest is a reformed rake. Thus does marriage, 
itself intolerable, thrust us upon intolerable alternatives. 
The practical solution is to make the individual economically 
independent of marriage and the family, and to make 

Preface Ixxxiii 

marriage as easily dissoluble as any other partnership : in 
other words, to accept the conclusions to which experience 
is slowly driving both our sociologists and our legislators. 
This will not instantly cure all the evils of marriage, nor 
root up at one stroke its detestable tradition of property in 
human bodies. But it will leave Nature free to effect a 
cure; and in free soil the root may wither and perish. 

This disposes of all the opinions and teachings of Jesus 
which are still matters of controversy. They are all in line 
with the best modern thought. He told us what we have 
to do ; and we have had to find the way to do it. Most 
of us are still, as most were in his own time, extremely 
recalcitrant, and are being forced along that way by painful 
pressure of circumstances, protesting at every step that 
nothing will induce us to go ; that it is a ridiculous way, a 
disgraceful way, a socialistic way, an atheistic way, an 
immoral way, and that the vanguard ought to be ashamed 
of themselves and must be made to turn back at once. 
But they find that they have to follow the vanguard all 
the same if their lives are to be worth living. 

After the Crucifixion. 

Let us now return to the New Testament narrative ; for 
what happened after the disappearance of Jesus is instructive. 
Unfortunately, the crucifixion was a complete political 
success. I remember that when I described it in these 
terms once before, I greatly shocked a most respectable 
newspaper in my native town, the Dublin Daily Express, 
because my journalistic phrase shewed that I was treating 
it as an ordinary event like Home Rule or the Insurance 
Act : that is (though this did not occur to the editor), as a 
real event which had really happened, instead of a portion 
of the Church service. I can only repeat, assuming as I am 
that it zvas a real event and did actually happen, that it 
was as complete a success as any in history. Christianity as 
a specific doctrine was slain with Jesus, suddenly and 

Ixxxiv Androcles and the Lion 

utterly. He was hardly cold in his grave, or high in his 
heaven (as you please), before the apostles dragged the 
tradition of him dow^n to the level of the thing it has 
remained ever since. And that thing the intelligent heathen 
may study, if they would be instructed in it by modern 
books, in Samuel Butler's novel, The Way of All Flesh. 

The Vindictive Miracles and the 
Stoning of Stephen. 

Take, for example, the miracles. Of Jesus alone of all 
the Christian miracle workers there is no record, except 
in certain gospels that all men reject, of a malicious or 
destructive miracle. A barren fig-tree was the only victim of 
his anger. Every one of his miracles on sentient subjects 
was an act of kindness. John declares that he healed the 
wound of the man whose ear was cut off (by Peter, John 
says) at the arrest in the garden. One of the first things 
the apostles did with their miraculous power was to strike 
dead a wretched man and his wife who had defrauded 
them by holding back some money from the common 
stock. They struck people blind or dead without remorse, 
judging because they had been judged. They healed the 
sick and raised the dead apparently in a spirit of pure dis- 
play and advertisement. Their doctrine did not contain a 
ray of that light which reveals Jesus as one of the redeemers 
of men from folly and error. They cancelled him, and 
went back straight to John the Baptist and his formula 
of securing remission of sins by repentance and the rite of 
baptism (being born again of water and the spirit). Peter's 
first harangue softens us by the human touch of its exordium, 
which was a quaint assurance to his hearers that they 
must believe him to be sober because it was too early in 
the day to get drunk; but of Jesus he had nothing to say 
except that he was the Christ foretold by the prophets as 
coming from the seed of David, and that they must believe 
this and be baptized. To this the other apostles added 

Preface Ixxxv 

incessant denunciations of the Jews for having crucified 
him, and threats of the destruction that would overtake 
them if they did not repent : that is, if they did not join 
the sect which the apostles were now forming. A quite 
intolerable young speaker named Stephen delivered an 
oration to the council, in which he first inflicted on them 
a tedious sketch of the history of Israel, with which they 
were presumably as well acquainted as he, and then reviled 
them in the most insulting terms as "stiftnecked and un- 
circumcized." Finally, after boring and annoying them to 
the utmost bearable extremity, he looked up and declared 
that he saw the heavens open, and Christ standing on the 
right hand of God. This was too much : they threw him 
out of the city and stoned him to death. It was a severe 
way of suppressing a tactless and conceited bore ; but it 
was pardonable and human in comparison to the slaughter 
of poor Ananias and Sapphira. 


Suddenly a man of genius, Paul, violently anti-Christian, 
enters on the scene, holding the clothes of the men 
who are stoning Stephen. He persecutes, the Christians 
with great vigor, a sport which he combines with the 
business of a tentmaker. This temperamental hatred of 
Jesus, whom he has never seen, is a pathological symptom 
of that particular sort of conscience and nervous constitu- 
tion which brings its victims under the tyranny of two 
delirious terrors : the terror of sin and the terror of death, 
which may be called also the terror of sex and the terror of 
life. Now Jesus, with his healthy conscience on his higher 
plane, was free from these terrors. He consorted freely 
with sinners, and was never concerned for a moment, as far 
as we know, about whether his conduct was sinful or not ; 
so that he has forced us to accept him as the man without 
sin. Even if we reckon his last days as the days of his 
delusion, he none the less gave a fairly convincing exhibi- 

Ixxxvi Androcles and the Lion 

tion of superiority to the fear of death. This must have 
both fascinated and horrified Paul, or Saul, as he was first 
called. The horror accounts for his fierce persecution of 
the Christians. The fascination accounts for the strangest 
of his fancies: the fancy for attaching the name of Jesus 
Christ to the great idea which flashed upon him on the 
road to Damascus, the idea that he could not only make a 
religion of his two terrors, but that the movement started 
by Jesus offered him the nucleus for his new Church. It 
was a monstrous idea ; and the shock of it, as he afterwards 
declared, struck him blind for days. He heard Jesus calling 
to him from the clouds, " Why persecute me ?" His natural 
hatred of the teacher for whom Sin and Death had no 
terrors turned into a wild personal worship of him which 
has the ghastliness of a beautiful thing seen in a false 

The chronicler of the Acts of the Apostles sees nothing 
of the significance of this. The great danger of conversion 
in all ages has been that when the religion of the high mind 
is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its 
fascination without understanding it, and being incapable 
of rising to it, drags it down to its level by degrading it. 
Years ago I said that the conversion of a savage to 
Christianity is the conversion of Christianity to savagery. 
The conversion of Paul was no conversion at all : it was 
Paul who converted the religion that had raised one man 
above sin and death into a religion that delivered millions 
of men so completely into their dominion that their own 
common nature became a horror to them, and the religious 
life became a denial of life. Paul had no intention of 
surrendering either his Judaism or his Roman citizenship 
to the new moral world (as Robert Owen called it) of 
Communism and Jesuism. Just as in the XIX century 
Karl Marx, not content to take political economy as he 
found it, insisted on rebuilding it from the bottom upwards 
in his own way, and thereby gave a new lease of life to the 
errors it was just outgrowing, so Paul reconstructed the old 

Preface Ixxxvii 

Salvationism from which Jesus had vainly tried to redeem 
him, and produced a fantastic theology which is still the 
most amazing thing of the kind known to us. Being in- 
tellectually an inveterate Roman Rationalist, always dis- 
carding the irrational real thing for the unreal but ratiocin- 
able postulate, he began by discarding Man as he is, and 
substituted a postulate which he called Adam. And when 
he was asked, as he surely must have been in a world not 
wholly mad, what had become of the natural man, he 
replied "Adam is the natural man." This was confusing 
to simpletons, because according to tradition Adam was 
certainly the name of the natural man as created in the 
garden of Eden. It was as if a preacher of our own time had 
described as typically British Frankenstein's monster, and 
called him Smith, and somebody, on demanding what about 
the man in the street,had been told " Smith is the man in the 
street." The thing happens often enough; for indeed the 
world is full of these Adams and Smiths and men in the 
street and average sensual men and economic men and 
womanly women and what not, all of them imaginary Atlases 
carrying imaginary worlds on their unsubstantial shoulders. 
The Eden story provided Adam with a sin : the " original 
sin" for which we are all damned. Baldly stated, this seems 
ridiculous ; nevertheless it corresponds to something actually 
existent not only in Paul's consciousness but in our own. 
The original sin was not the eating of the forbidden fruit, 
but the consciousness of sin which the fruit produced. The 
moment Adam and Eve tasted the apple they found them- 
selves ashamed of their sexual relation, which until then 
had seemed quite innocent to them ; and there is no getting 
over the hard fact that this shame, or state of sin, has 
persisted to this day, and is one of the strongest of our 
instincts. Thus Paul's postulate of Adam as the natural 
man was pragmatically true ; it worked. But the weakness 
of Pragmatism is that most theories will work if you put 
your back into making them work, provided they have some 
point of contactwith human nature. Hedonism will pass the 

Ixxxviii Androcles and the Lion 

pragmatic test as well as Stoicism. Up to a certain point 
every social principle that is not absolutely idiotic works : 
Autocracy works in Russia and Democracy in America ; 
Atheism works in France, Polytheism in India, Monotheism 
throughout Islam, and Pragmatism, or No-ism, in England. 
Paul's fantastic conception of the damned Adam, repre- 
sented by Bunyan as a pilgrim with a great burden of sins 
on his back, corresponded to the fundamental condition of 
evolution, which is, that life, including human life, is con- 
tinually evolving, and must therefore be continually ashamed 
of itself and its present and past. Bunyan's pilgrim wants 
to get rid of his bundle of sins ; but he also wants to reach 
"yonder shining light" ; and when at last his bundle falls 
off him into the sepulchre of Christ, his pilgrimage is still 
unfinished and his hardest trials still ahead of him. His 
conscience remains uneasy ; "original sin" still torments 
him ; and his adventure with Giant Despair, who throws 
him into the dungeon of Doubting Castle, from which he 
escapes by the use of a skeleton key, is more terrible than 
any he met whilst the bundle was still on his back. Thus 
Bunyan's allegory of human nature breaks through the 
Pauline theology at a hundred points. His theological 
allegory, The Holy War, with its troops of Election 
Doubters, and its cavalry of "those that rode Reformadoes," 
is, as a whole, absurd, impossible, and, except in passages 
where the artistic old Adam momentarily got the better of 
the Salvationist theologian, hardly readable. 

Paul's theory of original sin was to some extent idiosyn- 
cratic. He tells us definitely that he finds himself quite 
well able to avoid the sinfulness of sex by practising 
celibacy; but he recognizes, rather contemptuously, that in 
this respect he is not as other men are, and says that they 
had better marry than burn, thus admitting that though 
marriage may lead to placing the desire to please wife or 
husband before the desire to please God, yet preoccupation 
with unsatisfied desire may be even more ungodly than pre- 
occupation with domestic affection. This view of the case 

Preface Ixxxix 

inevitably led him to insist that a wife should be rather a 
slave than a partner, her real function being, not to engage 
a man's love and loyalty, but on the contrary to release 
them for God by relieving the man of all preoccupation 
with sex just as in her capacity of housekeeper and cook 
she relieves his preoccupation with hunger hy the simple 
expedient of satisfying his appetite. This slavery also 
justifies itself pragmatically by working effectively ; but it 
has made Paul the eternal enemy of Woman. Incidentally 
it has led to many foolish surmises about Paul's personal 
character and circumstances, by people so enslaved by sex 
that a celibate appears to them a sort of monster. They 
forget that not only whole priesthoods, official and unofficial, 
from Paul to Carlyle and Ruskin, have defied the tyranny 
of sex, but immense numbers of ordinary citizens of both 
sexes have, either voluntarily or under pressure of circum- 
stances easily surmountable, saved their energies for less 
primitive activities. 

Howbeit, Paul succeeded in stealing the image of 
Christ crucified for the figure-head of his Salvationist vessel, 
with its Adam posing as the natural man, its doctrine of 
original sin, and its damnation avoidable only by faith in 
the sacrifice of the cross. In fact, no sooner had Jesus 
knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly 
set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus. 

The Confusion of Christendom. 

Now it is evident that two religions having such con- 
trary effects on mankind should not be confused as they are 
under a common name. There is not one word of Pauline 
Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus. When 
Saul watched the clothes of the men who stoned Stephen, 
he was not acting upon beliefs which Paul renounced. 
There is no record of Christ's having ever said to any man : 
"Go and sin as much as you like : you can put it all on 
me." He said " Sin no more," and insisted that he was 

xc Androcles and the Lion 

putting up the standard of conduct, not debasing it, and 
that the righteousness of the Christian must exceed that of 
the Scribe and Pharisee. The notion that he was shedding 
his blood in order that every- petty cheat and adulterator 
and libertine might wallow in it and come out whiter than 
snow, cannot be imputed to him on his own authority. "I 
come as an infallible patent medicine for bad consciences " 
is not one of the sayings in the gospels. If Jesus could have 
been consulted on Bunyan's allegory as to that business of 
the burden of sin dropping from the pilgrim's back when he 
caught sight of the cross, we must infer from his teaching that 
he would have told Bunyan in forcible terms that he had 
never made a greater mistake in his life, and that the busi- 
ness of a Christ was to make self-satisfied sinners feel the 
burden of their sins and stop committing them instead of 
assuring them that they could not help it, as it was all 
Adam's fault, but that it did not matter as long as they 
were credulous and friendly about himself. Even when he 
believed himself to be a god, he did not regard himself as 
a scapegoat. He was to take away the sins of the world by 
good government, by justice and mercy, by setting the 
welfare of little children above the pride of princes, by 
casting all the quackeries and idolatries which now usurp 
and malversate the power of God into what our local 
authorities quaintly call the dust destructor, and by riding 
on the clouds of heaven in glory instead of in a thousand- 
guinea motor car. That was delirious, if you like; but it 
was the delirium of a free soul, not of a shamebound one 
like Paul's. There has really never been a more monstrous 
imposition perpetrated than the imposition of the limitations 
of Paul's soul upon the soul of Jesus. 

The Secret of Paul's Success. 

Paul must soon have found that his followers had gained 
peace of mind and victory over death and sin at the cost 
of all moral responsibility; for he did his best to reintro- 

Preface xci 

duce it by making good conduct the test of sincere belief, 
and insisting that sincere belief was necessary to salvation- 
But as his system was rooted in the plain fact that as what 
he called sin includes sex and is therefore an ineradic- 
able part of human nature (why else should Christ 
have had to atone for the sin of all future generations ?) 
it was impossible for him to declare that sin, even in its 
wickedest extremity, could forfeit the sinner's salvation if 
he repented and believed. And to this day Pauline Christi- 
anity is, and owes its enormous vogue to being, a premium 
on sin. Its consequences have had to be held in check by 
the worldlywise majority through a violently anti-Christian 
system of criminal law and stern morality. But of course 
the main restraint is human :nture, which has good im- 
pulses as well as bad ones, and refrains fro:-, theft and 
murder and cruelty, even when it is taught that it can 
commit them all at the expense of Christ and go happily 
to heaven afterwards, simply because it does not always 
want to murder or rob or torture. 

It is now easy to understand why the Christianity of 
Jesus failed completely to establish itself politically and 
socially, and was easily suppressed by the police and the 
Church, whilst Paulinism overran the whole western civil- 
ized world, which was at that time the Roman Empire, 
and was adopted by it as its official faith, the old avenging 
gods falling helplessly before the new Redeemer. It still re- 
tains, as we may see in Africa, its power of bringing to 
simple people a message of hope and consolation that no 
other religion offers. But this enchantment is produced by 
its spurious association with the personal charm of Jesus, 
and exists only for untrained minds. In the hands of a logical 
Frenchman like Calvin, pushing it to its utmost conclusions, 
and devising "institutes" for hardheaded adult Scots and 
literal Swiss, it becomes the most infernal of fatalisms ; and 
the lives of civilized children are blighted by its logic whilst 
negro piccaninnies are rejoicing in its legends. 

xcii Androcles and the Lion 

Paul's Qualities. 

Paul, however, did not get his great reputation by mere 
imposition and reaction. It is only in comparison with 
Jesus (to whom many prefer him) that he appears common 
and conceited. Though in The Acts he is only a vulgar 
revivalist, he comes out in his own epistles as a genuine 
poet, though by flashes only. He is no more a Christian 
than Jesus was a Baptist: he is a disciple of Jesus only as 
Jesus was a disciple of John. He does nothing that Jesus 
would have done, and says nothing that Jesus would have 
said, though much, like the famous ode to charity, that he 
would have admired. He is more Jewish than the Jews, 
more Roman than the Romans, proud both ways, full of 
startling confessions and self- revelations that would not 
surprise us if they were slipped into the pages of Nietzsche, 
tormented by an intellectual conscience that demanded an 
argued case even at the cost of sophistry, with all sorts of fine 
qualities and occasional illuminations, but always hopelessly 
in the toils of Sin, Death, and Logic, which had no power 
over Jesus. As we have seen, it was by introducing this 
bondage and terror of his into the Christian doctrine 
that he adapted it to the Church and State systems which 
Jesus transcended, and made it practicable by destroying 
the specifically Jesuist side of it. He would have been 
quite in his place in any modern Protestant State ; and 
he, not Jesus, is the true head and founder of our Reformed 
Church, as Peter is of the Roman Church. The followers 
of Paul and Peter made Christendom, whilst the Nazarenes 
were wiped out. 

The Acts of the Apostles. 

Here we may return to the narrative called The Acts of 
the Apostles, which we left at the point where the stoning 
of Stephen was followed by the introduction of Paul. The 

Preface xciii 

author of The Acts, though a good story-teller, like Luke, 
was (herein also like Luke) much weaker in power of 
thought than in imaginative literary art. Hence we find 
Luke credited with the authorship of The Acts by people 
who like stories and have no aptitude for theology, whilst 
the book itself is denounced as spurious by Pauline theo- 
logians because Paul, and indeed all the apostles, are repre- 
sented in it as very commonplace revivalists, interesting us 
by their adventures more than by any qualities of mind or 
character. Indeed, but for the epistles, we should have a 
very poor opinion of the apostles. Paul in particular is de- 
scribed as setting a fashion which has remained in continual 
use to this day. Whenever he addresses an audience, he 
dwells with great zest on his misdeeds before his pseudo con- 
version, with the effect of throwing into stronger relief his 
present state of blessedness ; and he tells the story of that 
conversion over and over again, ending with exhortations 
to the hearers to come and be saved, and threats of the 
wrath that will overtake them if they refuse. At any 
revival meeting today the same thing may be heard, 
followed by the same conversions. This is natural enough; 
but it is totally unlike the preaching of Jesus, who never 
talked about his personal history, and never "worked up" 
an audience to hysteria. It aims at a purely nervous effect ; 
it brings no enlightenment; the most ignorant man has 
only to become intoxicated with his own vanity, and 
mistake his self-satisfaction for the Holy Ghost, to become 
qualified as an apostle ; and it has absolutely nothing to 
do with the characteristic doctrines of Jesus. The Holy 
Ghost may be at work all round producing wonders ,of 
art and science, and strengthening men to endure all sorts 
of martyrdoms for the enlargement of knowledge, and the 
enrichment and intensification of life ("that ye may have 
life more abundantly") ; but the apostles, as described in 
The Acts, take no part in the struggle except as persecutors 
and revilers. To this day, when their successors get the 
upper hand, as in Geneva (Knox's "perfect city of Christ") 

xciv Androcles and the Lion 

andin Scotland and Ulster, every spiritual activity but money- 
making and churchgoing is stamped out ; heretics are ruth- 
lessly persecuted ; and such pleasures as money can purchase 
are suppressed so that its possessors are compelled to go on 
making money because there is nothing else to do. And 
the compensation for all this privation is partly an insane 
conceit of being the elect of God, with a reserved seat in 
heaven, and partly, since even the most infatuated idiot 
cannot spend his life admiring himself, the less innocent 
excitement of punishing other people for not admiring 
him, and the nosing out of the sins of the people who, 
being intelligent enough to be incapable of mere dull 
self-righteousness, and highly susceptible to the beauty 
and interest of the real workings of the Holy Ghost, try 
to live more rational and abundant lives. The abominable 
amusement of terrifying children with threats of hell is 
another of these diversions, and perhaps the vilest and most 
mischievous of them. The net result is that the imitators 
of the apostles, whether they are called Holy Willies or 
Stigginses in derision, or, in admiration, Puritans or saints, 
are, outside their own congregations, and to a consider- 
able extent inside them, heartily detested. Now nobody 
detests Jesus, though many who have been tormented 
in their childhood in his name include him in their 
general loathing of everything connected with the word 
religion ; whilst others, who know him only by misrepre- 
sentation as a sentimental pacifist and an ascetic, include 
him in their general dislike of that type of character. In 
the same way a student who has had to "get up" Shake- 
spear as a college subject may hate Shakespear; and people 
who dislike the theatre may Include Moliere in that dislike 
without ever having read a line of his or witnessed one 
of his plays ; but nobody with any knowledge of Shakespear 
or Moliere could possibly detest them, or read without pity 
and horror a description of their being insulted, tortured, 
and killed. And the same is true of Jesus. But it requires 
the most strenuous effort of conscience to refrain from 

Preface xcv 

crying " Serve him right " when we read of the stoning 
of Stephen ; and nobody has ever cared twopence about 
the martyrdom of Peter : many better men have died worse 
deaths : for example, honest Hugh Latimer, who was 
burned by us, was worth fifty Stephens and a dozen Peters. 
One feels at last that when Jesus called Peter from his 
boat, he spoiled an honest fisherman, and made nothing 
better out of the wreck than a salvation monger. 

The Controversies on Baptism and 

Meanwhile the inevitable effect of dropping the peculiar 
doctrines of Jesus and going back to John the Baptist, was 
to make it much easier to convert Gentiles than Jews; and 
it was by following the line of least resistance that Paul 
became the apostle to the Gentiles. The Jews had their 
own rite of initiation : the rite of circumcision ; and they 
were fiercely jealous for it, because it marked them as the 
chosen people of God, and set them apart from the Gen- 
tiles, who were simply the uncircumcized. When Paul, 
finding that baptism made way faster among the Gentiles 
than among the Jews, as it enabled them to plead that they 
too were sanctified by a rite of later and higher authority 
than the Mosaic rite, he was compelled to admit that cir- 
cumcision did not matter; and this, to the Jews, was an 
intolerable blasphemy. To Gentiles like ourselves, a good 
deal of the Epistle to the Romans is now tedious to un- 
readableness because it consists of a hopeless attempt by 
Paul to evade the conclusion that if a man were baptized 
it did not matter a rap whether he was circumcized or not. 
Paul claims circumcision as an excellent thing in its way 
for a Jew; but if it has no efficacy towards salvation, and 
if salvation is the one thing needful — and Paul was com- 
mitted to both propositions — his pleas in mitigation only 
made the Jews more determined to stone him. 

xcvi Androcles and the Lion 

Thus from the very beginning of apostolic Christianity, 
it was hampered by a dispute as to whether salvation was 
to be attained by a surgical operation or by a sprinkling of 
water: mere rites on which Jesus would not have wasted 
twenty words. Later on, when the new sect conquered the 
Gentile west, where the dispute had no practical applica- 
tion, the other ceremony — that of eating the god — pro- 
duced a still more disastrous dispute, in which a difference 
of belief, not as to the obligation to perform the ceremony, 
but as to whether it was a symbolic or a real ingestion of 
divine substance, produced persecution, slaughter, hatred, 
and everything that Jesus loathed, on a monstrous scale. 

But long before that, the superstitions which had fastened 
on the new faith made trouble. The parthenogenetic 
birth of Christ, simple enough at first as a popular 
miracle, was not left so simple by the theologians. They 
began to ask of what substance Christ was made in the 
womb of the virgin. When the Trinity was added to the 
faith the question arose, was the virgin the mother of God 
or only the mother of Jesus ? Arian schisms and Nestorian 
schisms arose on these questions ; and the leaders of the 
resultant agitations rancorously deposed one another and 
excommunicated one another according to their luck in 
enlisting the emperors on their side. In the IV century 
they began to burn one another for differences of opinion 
in such matters. In the VIII century Charlemagne made 
Christianity compulsory by killing those who refused to 
embrace it; and though this made an end of the volun- 
tary character of conversion, Charlemagne may claim to 
be the first Christian who put men to death for any point 
of doctrine that really mattered. From his time onward 
the history of Christian controversy reeks with blood and 
fire, torture and warfare. The Crusades, the persecu- 
tions in Albi and elsewhere, the Inquisition, the "wars of 
religion " which followed the Reformation, all presented 
themselves as Christian phenomena ; but who can doubt 
that they would have been repudiated with horror by Jesus ? 

Preface xcvii 

Our own notion that the massacre of St Bartholomew's 
was an outrage on Christianity, whilst the campaigns of 
Gustavus Adolphus, and even of Frederick the Great, were 
a defence of it, is as absurd as the opposite notion that 
Frederick was Antichrist and Torquemada and Ignatius 
Loyola men after the very heart of Jesus. Neither they 
nor their exploits had anything to do with him. It is prob- 
able that Archbishop Laud and John Wesley died equally 
persuaded that he in whose name they had made them- 
selves famous on earth would receive them in Heaven with 
open arms. Poor Fox the Quaker would have had ten times 
their chance ; and yet Fox made rather a miserable business 
of life. 

Nevertheless all these perversions of the doctrine of 
Jesus derived their moral force from his credit, and so had 
to keep his gospel alive. When the Protestants translated 
the Bible into the vernacular and let it loose among the 
people, they did an extremely dangerous thing, as the mis- 
chief which followed proves; but they incidentally let loose 
the sayings of Jesus in open competition with the sayings of 
Paul and Koheleth and David and Solomon and the authors 
of Job and the Pentateuch ; and, as wc have seen, Jesus 
seems to be the winning name. The glaring contradiction 
between his teaching and the practice of all the States and 
all the Churches is no longer hidden. And it may be that 
though nineteen centuries have passed since Jesus was 
born (the date of his birth is now quaintly given as 7 B.C., 
though some contend for 100 B.C.), and though his Church 
has not yet been founded nor his political system tried, the 
bankruptcy of all the other systems when audited by our 
vital statistics, which give us a final test for all political 
systems, is driving us hard into accepting him, not as a 
scapegoat, but as one who was much less of a fool in prac- 
tical matters than we have hitherto all thought him. 

xcviii Androcles and the Lion 

The Alternative Christs. 

Let us now clear up the situation a little. The New 
Testament tells two stories for two different sorts of readers. 
One is the old story of the achievement of our salvation by 
the sacrifice and atonement of a divine personage who was 
barbarously slain and rose again on the third day : the story 
as it was accepted by the apostles. And in this story the 
political, economic, and moral views of the Christ have no 
importance : the atonement is everything; and we are saved 
by our faith in it, and not by works or opinions (other than 
that particular opinion) bearing on practical affairs. 

The other is the story of a prophet who, after expressing 
several very interesting opinions as to practical conduct, 
both personal and political, which are now of pressing im- 
portance, and instructing his disciples to carry them out in 
their daily life, lost his head ; believed himself to be a crude 
legendary form of god ; and under that delusion courted 
and suffered a cruel execution in the belief that he would 
rise from the dead and come in glory to reign over a re- 
generated world. In this form, the political, economic, and 
moral opinions of Jesus, as guides to conduct, are interesting 
and important : the rest is mere psychopathy and supersti- 
tion. The accounts of the resurrection, the parthenogenetic 
birth, and the more incredible miracles are rejected as in- 
ventions ; and such episodes as the conversation with the 
devil are classed with similar conversations recorded of St 
Dunstan, Luther, Bunyan, Swedenborg, and Blake. 

Credulity no Criterion. 

This arbitrary acceptance and rejection of parts of the 
gospel is not peculiar to the Secularist view. We have 
seen Luke and John reject Matthew's story of the massacre 
of the innocents and the flight into Egypt without ceremony. 
The notion that Matthew's manuscript is a literal and 

Preface xcix 

infallible record of facts, not subject to the errors that 
beset all earthly chroniclers, would have made John stare, 
being as it is a comparatively modern fancy of intel- 
lectually untrained people w^ho keep the Bible on the 
same shelf with Napoleon's Book of Fate, Old Moore's 
Almanack, and handbooks of therapeutic herbalism. You 
may be a fanatical Salvationist and reject more miracle 
stories than Huxley did; and you may utterly repudiate 
Jesus as the Savior and yet cite him as a historical witness 
to the possession by men of the most marvellous thauma- 
turgical powers. "Christ Scientist" and Jesus the Mahatma 
are preached by people whom Peter would have struck dead 
as worse infidels than Simon Magus ; and the Atonement 
is preached by Baptist and Congregationalist ministers whose 
views of the miracles are those of Ingersoll and Bradlaugh. 
Luther, who made a clean sweep of all the saints with their 
million miracles, and reduced the Blessed Virgin herself to 
the status of an idol, concentrated Salvationism to a point 
at which the most execrable murderer who believes in it 
when the rope is round his neck, flies straight to the arms of 
Jesus, whilst Tom Paine and Shelley fall into the bottom- 
less pit to burn there to all eternity. And sceptical physicists 
like Sir William Crookes demonstrate by laboratory experi- 
ments that " mediums " like Dunglas Home can make the 
pointer of a spring-balance go round without touching the 
weight suspended from it. 

Belief in Personal Immortality no 

Nor is belief in individual immortality any criterion. 
Theosophists, rejecting vicarious atonement so sternly that 
they insist that the smallest of our sins brings its Karma, 
also insist on individual immortality and metempsychosis 
in order to provide an unlimited field for Karma to be 
worked out by the unredeemed sinner. The belief in the" 
prolongation of individual life beyond the grave is far more 

c Androcles and the Lion 

real and vivid among table-rapping Spiritualists than among 
conventional Christians. The notion that those who reject 
the Christian (or any other) scheme of salvation by atone- 
ment must reject also belief in personal immortality and in 
miracles is as baseless as the notion that if a man is an atheist 
he will steal your watch. 

I could multiply these instances to weariness. The main 
difference that set Gladstone and Huxley by the ears is not 
one between belief in supernatural persons or miraculous 
events and the sternest view of such belief as a breach of 
intellectual integrity : it is the difference between belief 
in the efficacy of the crucifixion as an infallible cure for guilt, 
and a congenital incapacity for believing this, or (the same 
thing) desiring to believe it. 

The Secular View Natural, not Rational, 
therefore Inevitable. 

It must therefore be taken as a flat fundamental modern 
fact, whether we like it or not, that whilst many of us can- 
not believe that Jesus got his curious grip of our souls by 
mere sentimentality, neither can we believe that he was John 
Barleycorn. The more our reason and study lead us to be- 
lieve that Jesus was talking the most penetrating good sense 
when he preached Communism ; when he declared that the 
reality behind the popular belief in God was a creative 
spirit in ourselves called by him the Heavenly Father and 
by us Evolution, Elan Vital, Life Force and other names; 
when he protested against the claims of marriage and the 
family to appropriate that high part of our energy that was 
meant for the service of his Father, the more impossible it 
becomes for us to believe that he was talking equally good 
sense when he so suddenly announced that he was himself 
a visible concrete God ; that his flesh and blood were mira- 
culous food for us ; that he must be tortured and slain in 
the traditional manner and would rise from the dead after 

Preface ci 

three days ; and that at his Second Coming the stars would 
fall from heaven and he become king of an earrhly para- 
dise. But it is easy and reasonable to believe that an over- 
wrought preacher at last went mad as Swift and Ruskin and 
Nietzsche went mad. Every asylum has in it a patient 
suffering from the delusion that he is a god, yet otherwise 
sane enough. These patients do not nowadays declare that 
they will be barbarously slain and will rise from the dead, 
because they have lost that tradition of the destiny of god- 
head ; but they claim everything appertaining to divinity 
that is within their knowledge. 

Thus the gospels as memoirs and suggestive statements 
of sociological and biological doctrine, highly relevant to 
modern civilization, though ending in the history of a psycho- 
pathic delusion, are quite credible, intelligible, and interest- 
ing to modern thinkers. In any other light they are neither 
credible, intelligible, nor interesting except to people upon 
whom the delusion imposes. 

" The Higher Criticism." 

Historical research and paleographic criticism will no 
doubt continue their demonstrations that the New Testa- 
ment, like the Old, seldom tells a single story or expounds 
a single doctrine, and gives us often an accretion and con- 
glomeration of widely discrete and even unrelated traditions 
and doctrines. But these disintegrations, though technically 
interesting to scholars, and gratifying or exasperating, as 
the case may be, to people who are merely defending or 
attacking the paper fortifications of the infallibility of the 
Bible, have hardly anything to do with the purpose of 
these pages. I have mentioned the fact that most of the 
authorities are now agreed (for the moment) that the date 
of the birth of Jesus may be placed at about 7 b.c. ; but 
they do not therefore date their letters 1923, nor, I pre- 
sume, do they expect me to do so. What I am engaged 
in is a criticism (in the Kantian sense) of an established 

cii Androcles and the Lion 

body of belief which has become an actual part of the 
mental fabric of my readers ; and I should be the most 
exasperating of triflers and pedants if I were to digress 
into a criticism of some other belief or no-belief which my 
readers might conceivably profess if they were erudite 
Scriptural paleographers and historians, in which case, by 
the way, they would have to change their views so fre- 
quently that the gospel they received in their childhood 
would dominate them after all by its superior persistency. 
The chaos of mere facts in which the Sermon on the 
Mount and the Ode to Charity suggest nothing but disputes 
as to whether they are interpolations or not, in which 
Jesus becomes nothing but a name suspected of belonging 
to ten different prophets or executed persons, in which 
Paul is only the man who could not possibly have written 
the epistles attributed to him, in which Chinese sages, 
Greek philosophers, Latin authors, and writers of ancient 
anonymous inscriptions arc thrown at our heads as the 
sources of this or that scrap of the Bible, is neither a reli- 
gion nor a criticism of religion : one does not offer the 
fact that a good deal of the medieval building in Peter- 
borough Cathedral was found to be flagrant jerry-building 
as a criticism of the Dean's sermons. For good or evil, we 
have made a synthesis out of the literature we call the 
Bible; and though the discovery that there is a good deal 
of jerry-building in the Bible is interesting in its way, 
because everything about the Bible is interesting, it does 
not alter the synthesis very materially even for the paleo- 
graphers, and does not alter it at all for those who know 
no more about modern paleography than Archbishop Ussher 
did. I have therefore indicated little more of the discoveries 
than Archbishop Ussher might have guessed for himself if 
he had read the Bible without prepossessions. 

For the rest, I have taken the synthesis as it really lives 
and works in men. After all, a synthesis is what you 
want : it is the case you have to judge brought to an appre- 
hensible issue for you. Even if you have little more respect 

Preface ciii 

for synthetic biography than for synthetic rubber, synthetic 
milk, and the still unachieved synthetic protoplasm which 
is to enable us to make different sorts of men as a pastry- 
cook makes different sorts of tarts, the practical issue still 
lies as plainly before you as before the most credulous 
votaries of what pontificates as the Higher Criticism. 

The Perils of Salvationism. 

The secular view of Jesus is powerfully reinforced by 
the increase in our day of the number of people who have 
had the means of educating and training themselves to the 
point at which they are not afraid to look facts in the face, 
even such terrifying facts as sin and death. The result is 
greater sternness in modern thought. The conviction is 
spreading that to encourage a man to believe that though 
his sins be as scarlet he can be made whiter than snow by 
an easy exercise of self-conceit, is to encourage him to be 
a rascal. It did not work so badly when you could also 
conscientiously assure him that if he let himself be caught 
napping in the matter of faith by death, a red-hot hell 
would roast him alive to all eternity. In those days a sudden 
death — the most enviable of all deaths — was regarded as 
the most frightful calamity. It was classed with plague, 
pestilence, and famine, battle and murder, in our prayers. 
But belief in that hell is fast vanishing. All the leaders 
of thought have lost it ; and even for the rank and file it 
has fled to those parts of Ireland and Scotland which are 
still in the XVII century. Even there, it is tacitly reserved 
for the other fellow. 

The Importance of Hell in the Salvation 

The seriousness of throwing over hell whilst still clinging 
to the Atonement is obvious. If there is no punishment 
for sin there can be no self-forgiveness for it. If Christ paid 


civ Androcles and the Lion 

our score, and if there is no hell and therefore no chance 
of our getting into trouble by forgetting the obligation, 
then we can be as wicked as we like with impunity inside 
the secular law, even from self-reproach, which becomes 
mere ingratitude to the Savior. On the other hand, if 
Christ did not pay our score, it still stands against us ; and 
such debts make us extremely uncomfortable. The drive of 
evolution, which we call conscience and honor, seizes on 
such slips, and shames us to the dust for being so low in 
the scale as to be capable of them. The "saved" thief 
experiences an ecstatic happiness which can never come 
to the honest atheist: he is tempted to steal again to 
repfeat the glorious sensation. But if the atheist steals he has 
no such happiness. He is a thief and knows that he is a 
thief. Nothing can rub that off him. He may try to soothe 
his shame by some sort of restitution or equivalent act 
of benevolence ; but that does not alter the fact that he 
did steal ; and his conscience will not be easy until he has 
conquered his will to steal and changed himself into an honest 
man by developing that divine spark within him which Jesus 
insisted on as the everyday reality of what the atheist 

Now though the state of the believers in the Atonement 
may thus be the happier, it is most certainly not more 
desirable from the point of view of the community. The 
fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to 
the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than 
a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and 
dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a neces- 
sity of life. Whether Socrates got as much happiness out 
of life as Wesley is an unanswerable question ; but a nation 
of Socrateses would be much safer and happier than a 
nation of Wesleys ; and its individuals would be higher in 
the evolutionary scale. At all events it is in the Socratic 
man and not in the Wesleyan that our hope lies now. 



The Right to refuse Atonement. 

Consequently, even if it were mentally possible for all 
of us to believe in the Atonement, w^e should have to cry 
oiF it, as we evidently have a right to do. Every man to 
vv^hom salvation is offered has an inalienable natural right 
to say " No, thank you : I prefer to retain my full moral 
responsibility : it is not good for me to be able to load a 
scapegoat with my sins : I should be less careful how I 
committed them if I knew they would cost me nothing." 
Then, too, there is the attitude of Ibsen : that iron moralist 
to whom the whole scheme of salvation was only an ignoble 
attempt to cheat God ; to get into heaven without paying 
the price. To be let off, to beg for and accept eternal life as 
a present instead of earning it, would be mean enough even 
if we accepted the contempt of the Power on whose pity 
we were trading ; but to bargain for a crown of glory as 
well ! that was too much for Ibsen : it provoked him to 
exclaim, " Your God is an old man whom you cheat," and 
to lash the deadened conscience of the XIX century back 
to life with a whip of scorpions. 

The Teaching of Christianity. 

And there I must leave the matter to such choice as 
your nature allows you. The honest teacher who has to 
make known to a novice the facts about Christianity cannot 
in any essential regard, I think, put the facts otherwise 
than as I have put them. If children are to be delivered 
from the proselytizing atheist on the one hand, and the 
proselytizing nun in the convent school on the other, with 
all the other proselytizers that lie between them, they must 
not be burdened with idle controversies as to whether there 
was ever such a person as Jesus or not. When Hume said 
that Joshua's campaigns were impossible, Whately did not 
wrangle about it : he proved, on the same lines, that the 

cvi Androcles and the Lion 

campaigns of Napoleon were impossible. Only fictitious 
characters will stand Hume's sort of examination : nothing 
will ever make Edward the Confessor and St Louis as real 
to us as Don Quixote and Mr Pickwick. We must cut 
the controversy short by declaring that there is the same 
evidence for the existence of Jesus as for that of any other 
person of his time ; and the fact that you may not believe 
everything Matthew tells you no more disproves the exist- 
ence of Jesus than the fact that you do not believe every- 
thing Macaulay tells you disproves the existence of William 
III. The gospel narratives in the main give you a biography 
which is quite credible and accountable on purely secular 
grounds when you have trimmed off everything that Hume 
or Grimm or Rousseau or Huxley or any modern bishop 
could reject as fanciful. Without going further than this, 
you can become a follower of Jesus just as you can become 
a follower of Confucius or Lao Tse, and may therefore call 
yourself a Jesuist, or even a Christian, if you hold, as the 
strictest Secularist quite legitimately may, that all prophets 
are inspired, and all men with a mission, Christs. 

The teacher of Christianity has then to make known to 
the child, first the song of John Barleycorn, with the fields 
and seasons as witness to its eternal truth. Then, as the 
child's mind matures, it can learn, as historical and psycho- 
logical phenomena, the tradition of the scapegoat, the Re- 
deemer, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Second 
Coming, and how, in a world saturated with this tradition, 
Jesus has been largely accepted as the long expectedand often 
prophesied Redeemer, the Messiah, the Christ. It is open to 
the child also to accept him. If the child is built like Glad- 
stone, he will accept Jesusas his Savior, and Peter and John the 
Baptist as the Savior's revealer and forerunner respectively. 
If he is built like Huxley, he will take the secular view, 
in spite of all that a pious family can do to prevent him. 
The important thing now is that the Gladstones and 
Huxleys should no longer waste their time irrelevantly 
and ridiculously wrangling about the Gadarene swine, and 

Preface cvii 

that they should make up their minds as to the soundness 
of the secular doctrines of Jesus ; for it is about these that 
they may come to blows in our own time. 

Christianity and The Empire. 

Finally, let us ask why it is that the old superstitions 
have so suddenly lost countenance that although, to the 
utter disgrace of the nation's leaders and rulers, the laws 
by which persecutors can destroy or gag all freedom of 
thought and speech in these matters are still unrepealed 
and ready to the hand of our bigots and fanatics (quite 
recently a respectable shopkeeper was convicted of " blas- 
phemy " for saying that if a modern girl accounted for an 
illicit pregnancy by saying she had conceived of the Holy 
Ghost, we should know what to think : a remark which 
would never have occurred to him had he been properly 
taught how the story was grafted on the gospel), yet some- 
how they are used only against poor men, and that only in a 
half-hearted way. When we consider that from the time 
when the first scholar ventured to whisper as a professional 
secret that the Pentateuch could not possibly have been 
written by Moses to the time within my own recollection 
when Bishop Colenso, for saying the same thing openly, was 
inhibited from preaching and actually excommunicated, 
eight centuries elapsed (the point at issue, though technic- 
ally interesting to paleographers and historians, having no 
more bearing on human welfare than the controversy as to 
whether uncial or cursive is the older form of writing) ; 
yet now, within fifty years of Colenso's heresy, there is not 
a Churchman of any authority living, or an educated layman, 
who could without ridicule declare that Moses wrote the 
Pentateuch as Pascal wrote his Thoughts or D'Aubigny 
his History of the Reformation, or that St Jerome wrote the 
passage about the three witnesses in the Vulgate, or that 
there are less than three different accounts of the creation 
jumbled together in the book of Genesis. Now the maddest 

cviii Androcles and the Lion 

Progressive will hardly contend that our growth in wisdom 
and liberality has been greater in the last half century than 
in the sixteen half centuries preceding : indeed it would 
be easier to sustain the thesis that the last fifty years have 
witnessed a distinct reaction from Victorian Liberalism to 
Collectivism which has perceptibly strengthened the State 
Churches. Yet the fact remains that whereas Byron's Cain, 
published a century ago, is a leading case on the point that 
there is no copyright in a blasphemous book, the Salvation 
Army might now include it among its publications without 
shocking anyone. 

I suggest that the causes which have produced this sudden 
clearing of the air include the transformation of many 
modern States, notably the old self-contained French 
Republic and the tight little Island of Britain, into empires 
which overflow the frontiers of all the Churches. In India, 
for example, there are less than four million Christians out 
of a population of three hundred and sixteen and a half 
millions. The King of England is the defender of the faith ; 
but what faith is now the faith ? The inhabitants of this 
island would, within the memory of persons still living, 
have claimed that their faith is surely the faith of God, and 
that all others are heathen. But we islanders are only forty- 
five millions; and if we count ourselves all as Christians, 
there are still seventy-seven and a quarter million 
Mahometans in the Empire. Add to these the Hindoos and 
Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, whom I was taught in my child- 
hood, by way of religious instruction, to regard as gross 
idolaters consigned to eternal perdition, but whose faith 
I can now be punished for disparaging by a provocative 
word, and you have a total of over three hundred and 
forty-two and a quarter million heretics to swamp our 
forty-five million Britons, of whom, by the way, only six 
thousand call themselves distinctively "disciples of Christ," 
the rest being members of the Church of England and 
other denominations whose discipleship is less emphatically 
affirmed. In short, the Englishman of today, instead of 

Preface cix 

being, like the forefathers whose ideas he clings to, a subject 
of a State practically wholly Christian, is now crowded, 
and indeed considerably overcrowded, into a corner of an 
Empire in which the Christians are a mere eleven per cent 
of the population ; so that the Nonconformist who allows 
his umbrella stand to be sold up rather than pay rates 
towards the support of a Church of England school, finds 
himself paying taxes not only to endow the Church of Rome 
in Malta, but to send Christians to prison for the blasphemy 
of offering Bibles for sale in the streets of Khartoum. 

Turn to France, a country ten times more insular in its 
preoccupation with its own language, its own history, its 
own character, than we, who have always been explorers 
and colonizers and grumblers. This once self-centred 
nation is forty millions strong. The total population of 
the French Republic is about one hundred and fourteen 
millions. The French are not in our hopeless Christian 
minority of eleven per cent ; but they are in a minority of 
thirty-five per cent, which is fairly conclusive. And, being 
a more logical people than we, they have officially abandoned 
Christianity and declared that the French State has no 
specific religion. 

Neither has the British State, though it does not say so. 
No doubt there are many innocent people in England who 
take Charlemagne's view, and would, as a matter of course, 
off'er our eighty-nine per cent of " pagans, I regret to say " 
the alternative of death or Christianity but for a vague 
impression that these lost ones are all being converted 
gradually by the missionaries. But no statesman can 
entertain such ludicrously parochial delusions. No English 
king or French president can possibly govern on the assump- 
tion that the theology of Peter and Paul, Luther and Calvin, 
has any objective validity, or that the Christ is more than 
the Buddha, or Jehovah more than Krishna, or Jesus more 
or less human than Mahomet or Zoroaster or Confucius. 
He is actually compelled, in so far as he makes laws against 
blasphemy at all, to treat all the religions, including 

ex Androcles and the Lion 

Christianity, as blasphemous when paraded before people 
who are not accustomed to them and do not want them. And 
even that is a concession to a mischievous intolerance which 
an empire should use its control of education to eradicate. 
On the other hand, Governments cannot really divest 
themselves of religion, or even of dogma. When Jesus said 
that people should not only live but live more abundantly, 
he was dogmatizing; and many Pessimist sages, including 
Shakespear, whose hero begged his friend to refrain from 
suicide in the words "Absent thee from felicity awhile," 
would say dogmatizing very perniciously. Indeed many 
preachers and saints declare, some of them in the name of 
Jesus himself, that this world is a vale of tears, and that our 
lives had better be passed in sorrow and even in torment, 
as a preparation for a better life to come. Make these sad 
people comfortable; and they baffle you by putting on hair 

None the less. Governments must proceed on dogmatic 
assumptions, whether they call them dogmas or not; and 
they must clearly be assumptions common enough to stamp 
those who reject them as eccentrics or lunatics. And 
the greater and more heterogeneous the population the 
commoner the assumptions must be. A Trappist monastery 
can be conducted on assumptions which would in twenty- 
four hours provoke the village at its gates to insurrection. 
That is because the monastery selects its people ; and if a 
Trappist does not like it he can leave it. But a subject 
of the British Empire or the French Republic is not selected ; 
and if he does not like it he must lump it ; for emigration is 
practicable only within narrow limits, and seldom provides 
an effective remedy, all civilizations being now much alike. 
To anyone capable of comprehending government at all 
it must be evident without argument that the set of funda- 
mental assumptions drawn up in the thirty-nine articles 
or in the Westminster Confession are wildly impossible 
as political constitutions for modern empires. A personal 
profession of them by any person disposed to take such 

Preface cxi 

professions seriously would practically disqualify him for 
high imperial office. A Calvinist Viceroy of India and a 
Particular Baptist Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 
would wreck the empire. The Stuarts wrecked even the 
tight little island which was the nucleus of the empire by 
their Scottish logic and theological dogma ; and it may be 
sustained very plausibly that the alleged aptitude of the 
English for self-government, which is contradicted by every 
chapter of their history, is really only an incurable inaptitude 
for theology, and indeed for co-ordinated thought in any 
direction, which makes them equally impatient of sys- 
tematic despotism and systematic good government : their 
history being that of a badly governed and accidentally free 
people (comparatively). Thus our success in colonizing, as 
far as it has not been produced by exterminating the 
natives, has been due to our indifference to the salvation of 
our subjects. Ireland is the exception which proves the 
rule; for Ireland, the standing instance of the inability of 
the English to colonize without extermination of natives, 
is also the one country under British rule in which the 
conquerors and colonizers proceeded on the assumption 
that their business was to establish Protestantism as well as 
to make money and thereby secure at least the lives of the 
unfortunate inhabitants out of whose labor it could be 
made. At this moment Ulster is refusing to accept fellow- 
citizenship with the other Irish provinces because the south 
believes in St Peter and Bossuet, and the north in St Paul 
and Calvin. Imagine the effect of trying to govern India 
or Egypt from Belfast or from the Vatican ! 

The position is perhaps graver for France than for Eng- 
land, because the sixty-five per cent of French subjects 
who are neither French nor Christian nor Modernist in- 
cludes some thirty millions of negroes who are susceptible, 
and indeed highly susceptible, of conversion to those Salva- 
tionist forms of pseudo-Christianity which have produced 
all the persecutions and religious wars of the last fifteen 
hundred years. When the late explorer Sir Henry Stanley 

cxii Androcles and the Lion 

told me of the emotional grip which Christianity had over 
the Baganda tribes, and read me their letters, which were 
exactly like medieval letters in their literal faith and ever- 
present piety, I said "Can these men handle a rifle?" To 
which Stanley replied with some scorn "Of course they 
can, as well as any white man." Now at this moment (191 5) 
a vast European war is being waged, in which the French 
are using Senegalese soldiers. I ask the French Government, 
which, like our own Government, is deliberately leaving the 
religious instruction of these negroes in the hands of mis- 
sions of Petrine Catholics and Pauline Calvinists, whether 
they have considered the possibility of a new series of 
crusades, by ardent African Salvationists, to rescueParis from 
the grip of the modern scientific "infidel," and to raise the 
cry of "Back to the Apostles : back to Charlemagne!" 

We are more fortunate in that an overwhelming majority 
of our subjects are Hindoos, Mahometans, and Buddhists: 
that is, they have, as a prophylactic against Salvationist 
Christianity, highly civilized religions of their own. Maho- 
metanism, which Napoleon at the end of his career classed 
as perhaps the best popular religion for modern political 
use, might in some respects have arisen as a reformed Chris- 
tianity if Mahomet had had to deal with a population of 
seventeenth-century Christians instead of Arabs who wor- 
shipped stones. As it is, men do not reject Mahomet for 
Calvin ; and to offer a Hindoo so crude a theology as ours 
in exchange for his own, or our Jewish canonical literature 
as an improvement on Hindoo scripture, is to offer old 
lamps for older ones in a market where the oldest lamps, 
like old furniture in England, are the most highly valued. 

Yet, I repeat, government is impossible without a re- 
ligion : that is, without a body of common assumptions. 
The open mind never acts : when we have done our 
utmost to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, we still, when 
we can reason and investigate no more, must close our 
minds for the moment with a snap, and act dogmatically 
on our conclusions. The man who waits to make an 

Preface cxili 

entirely reasonable will dies intestate. A man so reason- 
able as to have an open mind about theft and murder, or 
about the need for food and reproduction, might just as 
well be a fool and a scoundrel for any use he could be as a 
legislator or a State official. The modern pseudo-democratic 
statesman, who says that he is only in power to carry out 
the will of the people, and moves only as the cat jumps, 
is clearly a political and intellectual brigand. The rule of 
the negative man who has no convictions means in practice 
the rule of the positive mob. Freedom of conscience as 
Cromwell used the phrase is an excellent thing; never- 
theless if any man had proposed to give effect to freedom 
of conscience as to cannibalism in England, Cromwell 
would have laid him by the heels almost as promptly as 
he would have laid a Roman Catholic, though in Fiji at 
the same moment he would have supported heartily the 
freedom of conscience of a vegetarian who disparaged the 
sacred diet of Long Pig. 

Here then comer, in the importance of the repudiation 
by Jesus of proselytism. His rule " Dont pull up the tares : 
sow the wheat : if you try to pull up the tares you will 
pull up the wheat with it" is the only possible rule for a 
statesman governing a modern empire, or a voter support- 
ing such a statesman. There is nothing in the teaching 
of Jesus that cannot be assented to by a Brahman, a 
Mahometan, a Buddhist or a Jew, without any question 
of their conversion to Christianity. In some ways it_ is 
easier to reconcile a Mahometan to Jesus than a British 
parson, because the idea of a professional priest is un- 
familiar and even monstrous to a Mahometan (the tourist 
who persists in asking who is the dean of St Sophia puzzles 
beyond words the sacristan who lends him a huge pair of 
slippers) ; and Jesus never suggested that his disciples should 
separate themselves from the laity : he picked them up 
by the wayside, where any man or woman might follow 
him. For priests he had not a civil word ; and they shewed 
their sense of his hostility by getting him killed as soon as 

cxiv Androcles and the Lion 

possible. He was, in short, a thoroughgoing anti-Clerical. 
And though, as we have seen, it is only by political means 
that his doctrine can be put into practice, he not only never 
suggested a sectarian theocracy as a form of government, 
and would certainly have prophesied the downfall of the 
late President Kruger if he had survived to his time, but, 
when challenged, he refused to teach his disciples not to 
pay tribute to Caesar, admitting that Caesar, who pre- 
sumably had the kingdom of heaven within him as much 
as any disciple, had his place in the scheme of things. 
Indeed the apostles made this an excuse for carrying sub- 
servience to the State to a pitch of idolatry that ended in 
the theory of the divine right of kings, and provoked men 
to cut kings' heads off to restore some sense of proportion in 
the matter. Jesus certainly did not consider the overthrow ot 
the Roman empire or the substitution of a new ecclesiasti- 
cal organization for the Jewish Church or for the priesthood 
of the Roman gods as part of his program. He said that 
God was better than Mammon ; but he never said that 
Tweedledum was better than Tweedledee; and that is 
why it is now possible for British citizens and statesmen 
to follow Jesus, though they cannot possibly follow either 
Tweedledum or Tweedledee without bringing the empire 
down with a crash on their heads. And at that I must 
leave it. 

hof^vov., Decer: her 191 5. 





Androcles and the Lion 

Preface on the Prospects of Christianity vii 
Why not give Christianity a Trial ? vii 
Why Jesus more than Another ? 
Was Jesus a Coward ? . 
Was Jesus a Martyr ? . . 

The Gospels without Prejudice 
The Gospels now unintelligible to 

Novices ..... 
Worldliness of the Majority . 
Religion of the Minority. Salva- 

tionism ..... 
The Difference between Atonement 

and Punishment 
Salvation at first a Class Privilege ; 

and the Remedy 
Retrospective Atonement ; and the 

Expectation of t-ic Redeemer 
Completion of the Scheme by 

Luther and Calvin 
John Barleycorn .... 
Looking for the End of the World. 
The Honor of Divine Parentage 
Matthew ..... 

The Annunciation : the Massacre : 

the Flight .... 

John the Baptist .... 
Jesus joins the Baptists . 






cxvi Contents 


The Savage John and the Civilized 

Jesus ..... xxvii 

Jesus not a Proselytist . . . xxix 

The Teachings of Jesus . . xxx 

The Miracles .... xxxi 
Matthew imputes Bigotry to Jesus xxxiii 
The Great Change . . xxxiv 

Jerusalem and the Mystical Sacrifice xxxv 
Not this Man but Barabbas . xxxvi 

The Resurrection . . . xxxvii 

Date of Matthew's Narrative . xxxvii 

Class Type of Matthew's Jesus xxxvii 

Mark xxxix 

The Women Disciples and the 

Ascension . . . xxxix 

Luke ...... xl 

Luke the Literary Artist . . xl 

The Charm of Luke's Narrative . xli 
The Touch of Parisian Romance . xlii 
Waiting for the Messiah . . xliii 

John ...... xlv 

A New Story and a New Character xlr 
John the Immortal Eye Witness . xlvi 
The Peculiar Theology of Jesus . xlix 
John agreed as to the Trial and 

Crucifixion .... 1 

Credibility of the Gospels . . Hi 

Fashions in Belief . . . liii 

Credibility and Truth . . . liv 

Christian Iconolatry and the Peril 

of the Iconoclast . . . Ivi 

The Alternative to Barabbas . . Iviii 

The Reduction to Modern Practice 

of Christianity . . . . Ix 

Modern Communism . . . Ixll 

Redistribution . ... Ixiii 




Shall He Who Makes, Own ? . Ixiii 

Labor Time .... Ixlv 

The Dream of Distribution Accord- 
ing to Merit .... Ixv 
Vital Distribution . . . Ixvi 

Equal Distribution . . . Ixviii 

The Captain and the Cabin Boy . Ixviii 
The Political and Biological Objec- 
tions to Inequality . . . Ixix 
Jesus as Economist . . . Ixx 
Jesus as Biologist .... Ixxi 
Money the Midwife of Scientific 

Communism .... Ixxl 
Judge Not ..... Ixxiii 
Limits to Free Will . . . Ixxiv 

Jesus on Marriage and the Family . Ixxvi 
Why Jesus did not Marry . Ixxvii 

Inconsistency of the Sex Instinct Ixxviii 
For Better for Worse . . . Ixxix 

The Remedy .... Ixxx 
The Case for Marriage . . . Ixxxi 

Celibacy no Remedy . . Ixxxii 

After the Crucifixion . . Ixxxiii 

The Vindictive Miracles and the 

Stoning of Stephen . . Ixxxiv 

Paul ..... Ixxxv 

The Confusion of Christendom Ixxxix 
The Secret of Paul's Success . . xc 

Paul's Qualities .... xcii 
The Acts of the Apostles . . xcii 

The Controversies on Baptism and 

Transubstantiation . . . xcv 

The Alternative Christs . xcviii 

Credulity no Criterion . . xcviii 

Belief in Personal Immortality no 

Criterion xcix 



The Secular View Natural, not 

Rational, therefore Inevitable 
"The Higher Criticism" 
The Perils of Salvationism 
The Importance of Hell in the 

Salvr.tion Scheme 
The Right to refuse Atonement 
The Teaching of Christianity- 
Christianity and The Empire 

Appendix to the Play . 

Overruled .... 

Preface ..... 
The Alleviations of Monogamy 
Inaccessibility of the Facts 
The Convention of Jealousy . 
The Missing Data of a Scientific 

Natural History of Marriage 
Artificial Retribution 
The Favorite Subject of Farcica 

Comedy .... 
The Pseudo Sex Play . 
Art and Morality . 
The Limits of Stage Presentation 
Pruderies of the French Stage 
Our Disillusive Scenery 
Holding the Mirror up to Nature 
Farcical Comedy Shirking its Subject 














Preface .... 

A Professor of Phonetics 

What Happened Afterwards 





Overture: forest sounds, roaring of lions. Christian hymn 

A jungle path. A lion''s roar, a melancholy suffering roar, 
comes from the jungle. It is repeated nearer. The lion limps 
from the jungle on three legs, holding up his right forepaw, in 
which a huge thorn sticks. He sits down and contemplates it. 
He licks it. He shakes it. He tries to extract it by scraping 
it along the ground, and hurts himself worse. He roars piteously. 
He licks it again. Tears drop from his eyes. He limps pain- 
fully off the path and lies down under the trees, exhausted with 
pain. Heaving a long sigh, like wind in a trombone, he goes to 

Androclcs and his wife Megaera come along the path. He is 
a small, thin, ridiculous little man who might be any age from 
thirty to fifty-five. He has sandy hair, watery compassionate 
blue eyes, sensitive nostrils, and a very presentable forehead; 
but his good points go no further : his arms and legs and back, 
though wir-i of their kind, look shrivelled and starved. He carries 
a big bundle, is very poorly clad, and seems tired and hungry. 

His wife is a rather handsome pampered slattern, well fed 
and in the prime of life. She has nothing to carry, and has a 
stout stick to help her along. 

MEGAERA {suddcnly throwing down her stick'] I wont go 
another step. 

ANDROCLES ^pleading wearily] Oh, not again, dear. Whats 

I B 

2 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

the good of stopping every two miles and saying you wont 
go another step? We must get on to the next village 
before night. There are wild beasts in this wood : lions, 
they say. 

MEGAERA. I dont belicvc a word of it. You are always 
threatening me with wild beasts to make me walk the very 
soul out of my body when I can hardly drag one foot be- 
fore another. We havnt seen a single lion yet. 
ANDROCLES. Well, dear, do you want to see one ? 
MEGAERA [tearing the buTidlefrom his bcck] You cruel brute, 
you dont care how tired I am, or what becomes of me [she 
throws tl^e bundle on the ground'] : always thinking of your- 
self. Self! self! self! always yourself ! [She sits down on the 

ANDROCLES [sitting down sadly on the ground with his elbows 
on his knees and his head in his hands'] We all have to think 
of ourselves occasionally, dear, 

MEGAERA. A man ought to think of his wife sometimes. 
ANDROCLES. He caut always help it, dear. You make me 
think of you a good deal. Not that I blame you. 

MEGAERA. Blame me! I should think not indeed. Is it 
my fault that I'm married to you ? 

ANDROCLES. No, dear : that is my fault. 
MEGAERA. Thats a nice thing to say to me. Arnt you 
happy with me ? 

ANDROCLES. I dout complain, my love. 
MEGAERA. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. 
ANDROCLES. I am, my dear. 
MEGAERA. Yourc uot : you glory in it. 
ANDROCLES. In what, darling? 

MEGAERA. In everything. In making me a slave, and 
making yourself a laughing-stock. It's not fair. You get me 
the name of being a shrew with your meek ways, always 
talking as if butter wouldnt melt in your mouth. And just 
because I look a big strong woman, and because I'm good- 
hearted and a bit hasty, and because youre always driving 
me to do things I'm sorry for afterwards, people say "Poor 

Prologue Androcles and the Lion 3 

man : what a life his wife leads him ! " Oh, if they only 
knew ! And you think I dont know. But I do, I do, 
[screaming] I do. 

ANDROCLES. Ycs, my dear : I know you do. 

MEGAERA. Then why dont you treat me properly and 
be a good husband to me ? 

ANDROCLES. What can I do, my dear? 

MEGAERA. What Can you do ! You can return to your 
duty, and come back to your home and your friends, and 
sacrifice to the gods as all respectable people do, instead of 
having us hunted out of house and home for being dirty dis- 
reputable blaspheming atheists. 

ANDROCLES. I'm not an atheist, dear : I am a Christian. 

MEGAERA. Well, isnt that the same thing, only ten times 
worse ? Everybody knows that the Christians are the very 
lowest of the low. 

ANDROCLES. Just like us, dear. 

MEGAERA. Speak for yourself. Dont you dare to com- 
pare me to common people. My father owned his own 
public-house ; and sorrowful was the day for me when you 
first came drinking in our bar. 

ANDROCLES. I confess I was addicted to it, dear. But I 
gave it up when I became a Christian, 

MEGAERA. Youd much better have remained a drunkard. 
I can forgive a man being addicted to drink : it's only 
natural ; and I dont deny I like a drop myself sometimes. 
What I cant stand is your being addicted to Christianity. 
And whats worse again, your being addicted to animals. 
How is any woman to keep her house clean when you 
bring in every stray cat and lost cur and lame duck in the 
whole countryside? You took the bread out of my mouth 
to feed them : you know you did : dont attempt to 
deny it. 

ANDROCLES. Only when they were hungry and you were 
getting too stout, dearie. 

MEGAERA. Yes : insult me, do, [R2si;!g] Oh! I wont bear 
it another moment. You used to sit and talk to those 

4 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

dumb brute beasts for hours, when you hadnt a word for 

ANDROCLES. They never answered back, darling, [He rises 
and again shoulders the bundie\ 

MEGAERA, Well, if youre fonder of animals than of your 
own wife, you can live with them here in the jungle, Ive 
had enough of them and enough of you. I'm going back. 
I'm going home. 

ANDROCLES \barring the way back] No, dearie : dont take 
on like that. We cant go back. Weve sold everything : 
we should starve ; and I should be sent to Rome and thrown 
to the lions — 

MEGAERA, Servc you right! I wish the lions joy of you. 
[Screaming] Are you going to get out of my way and let me 
go home ? 

ANDROCLES, No, dear — 

MEGAERA. Then I'll make my way through the forest; 
and when I'm eaten by the wild beasts youll know what a 
wife youve lost. [She dashes into the jungle and nearly falls 
over the sleeping lion]. Oh ! Oh ! Andy! Andy! [She totters 
back and collapses into the arms of Androcles, who, crushed by her 
weight, falls on his bundle]. 

ANDROCLES [extracting himself from beneath her and slapping 
her hands in great anxiety] What is it, my precious, my 
pet.? Whats the matter.? [He raises her head. Speechless 
with tfrror, she points in the direction of the sleeping lion. He 
steals cautiously towards the spot indicated by Meg^iera. She 
rises with an effort and totters after him]. 

MEGAERA. No, Andv : youll be killed. Come back. 

The lion utters a long snoring sigh. Androcles sees the lion, 
and recoils fainting into the arms of Megaera, who falls back on 
the bundle. They roll apart and lie staring in terror at one 
another. The lion is heard groaning heavily in the jungle. 

ANDROCLES [whispering] Did you see \ A lion, 

MEGAERA [despairing] The gods have sent him to punish 
us because youre a Christian. Take me away, Andy, Save 

Prologue Androcles and the Lion 5 

ANDROCLES [rising] Meggy: theres one chance for you. 
Itll take him pretty nigh twenty minutes to eat me (I'm 
rather stringy and tough) and you can escape in less time 
than that. 

MEGAERA. Oh, dont talk about eating. [T/:e lion rises with 
a great groan and limps towards them']. Oh! [She faints], 

ANDROCLES [qUdking, but keeping between the Hon and Megaera] 
Dont you come near my wife, do you hear? [The lion 
groans. Androcles can hardly stand for trembling]. Meggy: 
run. Run for your life. If I take my eye off him, it's all 
up. [The lion holds up his wounded paw and flaps it piteously 
before Androcles]. Oh, hes lame, poor old chap ! Hes got 
a thorn in his paw. A frightfully big thorn. [Full of sym- 
pathy] Oh, poor old man ! Did um get an awful thorn into 
urn's tootsums wootsums? Has it made um too sick to eat 
a nice little Christian man for um's breakfast? Oh, a nice 
little Christian man will get um's thorn out for um ; and 
then um shall eat the nice Christian man and the nice 
Christian man's nice big tender wifey pifey. [The lion 
responds by moans of self-pity]. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Now, 
now [taking the paw in his hand], um is not to bite and not 
to scratch, not even if it hurts a very very little. Now 
make velvet paws. Thats right. [He pulls gingerly at the 
thorn. The Hon., with an angry yell of pain, j^^^^ back his paw 
so abruptly that Androcies is thrown on his back]. Steadeee ! 
Oh, did the nasty cruel little Christian man hurt the sore 
paw? [The lion moans assentingly but apologetically]. Well, 
one more little pull and it will be all over. Just one little, 
little, leetle pull ; and then um will live happily ever after. 
[He gives the thorn another pull. The lion roars and snaps his 
jaws with a terrifying clash]. Oh, mustnt frighten um's good 
kind doctor, um's affectionate nursey. That didnt hurt at 
all : not a bit. Just one more. Just to shew how the brave 
big lion can bear pain, not like the little crybaby Christian 
man. Oopsh ! [The thorn comes out. The lion yells with pain, 
and shakes his paw wildly]. Thats it! [Holding up the thorn]. 
Now it's out. Now lick um's paw to take away the nasty 

6 Androcles and the Lion Prologue 

inflammation. See? [He licks his ozvn hand. The lion nods 
intelligently and licks his paw industriously^. Clever little 
liony-plony! Understands urn's dear old friend Andy 
Wandy. \The lion licks his face\ Yes, kissums Andy Wandy. 
[The Hon., "^(^ggif'S ^^^ ^'^^^ violently., rises on his hind legs, and 
embraces Androcles., who makes a wry face and cries] Velvet 
paws ! Velvet paws ! [The lion draws in his claws]. Thats 
right. [He embraces the Hon., who finally takes the end of his 
tail in one paw., places that tight round Androcles^ waist., resting 
it on his hip. Androcles takes the other paw in his hand., stretches 
out his arm., and the two waltz rapturously round and round 
and finally away through the jungle]. 

MEGAERA [who has revived during the waltz] Oh, you 
coward, you havnt danced with me for years; and now 
you go off dancing with a great brute beast that you havnt 
known for ten minutes and that wants to eat your own 
wife. Coward! Coward! Coward! [She rushes off after 
ihem into the jungle]. 


Evening. The end of three converging roads to Rome. Three 
triumphal arches span them where they debouch on a square at 
the gate of th:e city. Looking north through the arches one can 
see the campagna t/:readed by the three long dusty tracks. 
On the east and west sides of the square are long stone benches. 
An old beggar sits on the east side, his bowl at his feet. 

Through the eastern arch a squad of Roman soldiers tramps 
along escorting a batch of Christian prisoners of both sexes and 
all ages., among them one Lavinia, a good-looking resolute yomig 
woman, apparently of higher social standing than her fellow- 
prisoners. A centurion, carrying his vinewood cudgel, trudges 
alongside the squad, on its right, in command of it. All are tired 
and dusty ; but the soldiers are dogged and indifferent, the 
Christians lighthearted and determined to treat their hardships 
as a joke and encourage one another. 

A bugle is heard far behind on the road, where the rest of 
the cohort is following. 

CENTURION \_stopping'] Halt ! Orders from the Captain. 
[They halt and wait]. Now then, you Christians, none of 
your larks. The captain's coming. Mind you behave your- 
selves. No singing. Look respectful. Look serious, if 
youre capable of it. See that big building over there ! 
Thats the Coliseum. Thats where youll be thrown to the 
lions or set to fight the gladiators presently. Think of 
that ; and itU help you to behave properly before the 
captain. [The Captain arrives]. Attention ! Salute ! [The 
soldiers salute]. 


8 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

A CHRISTIAN [cheerfuIIy'] God bless you, Captain ! 

THE CENTURION [scarida/izcdj Silence ! 

TSf Captain, a patrician, handsome, about thirty-Jive, very 
cold and distinguished, very superior and authoritative, steps up 
on a stone seat at the west side of the square, behind the centurion, 
so as to dominate the others more effectually. 

THE CAPTAIN. Ccnturion. 

THE CENTURION {standing at attention and saluting] Sir ? 

THE CAPTAIN [speaking Stiffly and officially] You will remind 
your men, Centurion, that we are now entering Rome. 
You will instruct them that once inside the gates of Rome 
they are in the presence of the Emperor. You will make 
them understand that the lax discipline of the march 
cannot be permitted here. You will instruct them to 
shave every day, not every week. You will impress on 
them particularly that there must be an end to the profanity 
and blasphemy of singing Christian hymns on the march. 
I have to reprimand you. Centurion, for not only allowing 
this, but actually doing it yourself. 

THE CENTURION [dpologctic] The men march better. 

THE CAPTAIN. No doubt. For that reason an exception is 
made in the case of the march called Onward Christian 
Soldiers. This may be sung, except when marching 
through the forum or within hearing of the Emperor's 
palace ; but the words must be altered to " Throw them 
to the Lions." 

The Christians burst into shrieks of uncontrollable laughter, 
to the great scandal ofth:e Centurion. 

CENTURION. Silence! Silen-n-n-n-nce ! Wheres your 
behavior? Is that the way to listen to an officer? \To 
the Captain] Thats what we have to put up with from these 
Christians every day, sir. Theyre always laughing and 
joking something scandalous. Theyve no religion : thats 
how it is. 

LAViNiA. But I think the Captain meant us to laugh. 
Centurion. It was so funny. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 9 

CENTURION. Youll find out how funny it is when youre 
thrown to the lions tomorrow. [To the Captain^ zvho 
looks displeased^ Beg pardon, Sir. \To the Christians'] 
Silennnnce ! 

THE CAPTAIN. You Ere to instruct your men that all inti- 
macy with Christian prisonersmust nowcease. The men have 
fallen into habits of dependence upon the prisoners, espe- 
cially the female prisoners, for cooking, repairs to uniforms, 
writing letters, and advice in their private affairs. In a 
Roman soldier such dependence is inadmissible. Let me 
see no more of it whilst we are in the city. Further, your 
orders are that in addressing Christian prisoners, the 
manners and tone of your men must express abhorrence 
and contempt. Any shortcoming in this respect will be 
regarded as a breach of discipline. \_He turns to the 
prisoners] Prisoners. 

CENTURION \Jierceli\ Prisonerrrrrs ! Tention ! Silence ! 

THE CAPTAIN. I Call your attention, prisoners, to the fact 
that you may be called on to appear in the Imperial Circus 
at any time from tomorrowonwards according to the require- 
ments of the managers. I may inform you that as there is 
a shortage of Christians just now, you may expect to be 
called on very soon. 

LAViNiA. What will they do to us. Captain ? 

CENTURION. Silence ! 

THE CAPTAIN. The womcn will be conducted into the 
arena with the wild beasts of the Imperial Menagerie, and 
will suffer the consequences. The men, if of an age to bear 
arms, will be given weapons to defend themselves, if they 
choose, against the Imperial Gladiators. 

LAVINIA. Captain : is there no hope that this cruel per- 
secution — 

CENTURION [shocked] Silence ! Hold your tongue, there. 
Persecution, indeed ! 

THE CAPTAIN [unpioved and somewhat sardonic] Persecution 
is not a term applicable to the acts of the Emperor. The 
Emperor is the Defender of the Faith. In throwing you 

lo Androcles and the Lion Act I 

to the lions he will be upholding the interests of religion 
in Rome. If you were to throw him to the lions, that 
would no doubt be persecution. 

The Christians again laugh heartily. 

CENTURION \_horriJied'\ Silence, I tell you ! Keep silence 
there. Did anyone ever hear the like of this? 

LAViNiA. Captain : there will be nobody to appreciate 
your jokes when we are gone. 

THE CAPTAIN [unshaken in his official delivery^ I call the atten- 
tion of the female prisoner Lavinia to the fact that as the 
Emperor is a divine personage, her imputation of cruelty 
is not only treason, but sacrilege. I point out to her further 
that there is no foundation for the charge, as the Emperor 
does not desire that any prisoner should suffer; nor can any 
Christian be harmed save through his or her own obstinacy. 
All that is necessary is to sacrifice to the gods : a simple 
and convenient ceremony effected by dropping a pinch 
of incense on the altar, after which the prisoner is at once 
set free. Under such circumstances you have only your 
own perverse folly to blame if you suffer, I suggest to you 
that if you cannot burn a morsel of incense as a matter of 
conviction, you might at least do so as a matter of good 
taste, to avoid shocking the religious convictions of your 
fellow citizens. I am aware that these considerations do 
not weigh with Christians; but it is my duty to call your 
attention to them in order that you may have no ground 
for complaining of your treatment, or of accusing the 
Emperor of cruelty when he is shewing you the most 
signal clemency. Looked at from this point of view, every 
Christian who has perished in the arena has really 
committed suicide. 

LAVINIA. Captain : your jokes are too grim. Do not 
think it is easy for us to die. Our faith makes life far 
stronger and more wonderful in us than when we walked 
in darkness and had nothing to live for. Death is harder 
for us than for you : the martyr's agony is as bitter as his 
triumph is glorious. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 1 1 

THE CAPTAIN {rather troubled, addressing her personally and 
gravely] A martyr, Lavinla, is a fool. Your death will prove 

LAViNiA. Then why kill me? 

THE CAPTAIN. I mean that truth, if there be any truth, 
needs no martyrs. 

LAVINIA. No ; but my faith, like your sword, needs testing. 
Can you test your sword except by staking your life on \\.l 

THE CAPTAIN \suddenly resuming his official tone] I call the 
attention of the female prisoner to the fact that Christians 
are not allowed to draw the Emperor's officers into argu- 
ments and put questions to them for which the military 
regulations provide no answer, \The Christians titter]. 

LAVINIA. Captain : how can you? 

THE CAPTAIN. I Call the female prisoner's attention speci- 
ally to the fact that four comfortable homes have been 
offered her by officers of this regiment, of which she can 
have her choice the moment she chooses to sacrifice as all 
wellbred Roman ladies do. I have no more to say to the 

CENTURION. Dismiss ! But stay where you are. 

THE CAPTAIN. CenturioH : you will remain here with your 
men in charge of the prisoners until the arrival of three 
Christian prisoners in the custody of a cohort of the tenth 
legion. Among these prisoners you will particularly identify 
an armorer named Ferrovius, of dangerous character and 
great personal strength, and a Greek tailor reputed to be 
a sorcerer, by name Androcles. You will add the three to 
your charge here and march them all to the Coliseum, 
where you will deliver them into the custody of the master 
of the gladiators and take his receipt, countersigned by the 
keeper of the beasts and the acting manager. You under- 
stand your instructions? 

CENTURION. Yes, sir. 

THE CAPTAIN. Dismiss. [//if tkrows off his air of parade, and 
descends from his perch. The Centurion seats himself on it and 
prepares for a nap, whilst his men stand at ease. The Chris- 

1 2 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

tians sit down on the west side of the square, glad to rest. Lavinia 
alone remains standing to speak to the Captain\ 

LAVINIA. Captain : is this man who is to join us the 
famous Ferrovius, who has made such wonderful conver- 
sions in the northern cities ? 

THE CAPTAIN. Yes. We are Warned that he has the Strength 
of an elephant and the temper of a mad bull. Also that he 
is stark mad. Not a model Christian, it would seem. 

LAVINIA. You need not fear him if he is a Christian, 

THE CAPTAIN \coldly\ I shall not fear him in any case, Lavinia. 

LAVINIA \her eyes dancing'] How brave of you, Captain ! 

THE CAPTAIN. You are right : it was a silly thing to sav. 
[/» a lower tone, humane and urgent] Lavinia : do Christians 
know how to love.? 

LAVINIA [composedly] Yes, Captain : they love even their 

THE CAPTAIN. Is that casy ? 

LAVINIA. Very easy, Captain, when their enemies are as 
handsome as you. 

THE CAPTAIN. Lavinia : you are laughing at me. 

LAVINIA. At you. Captain ! Impossible. 

THE CAPTAIN. Then you are flirting with me, which is 
worse. Dont be foolish. 

LAVINIA. But such a very handsome captain. 

THE CAPTAIN. Incorrigible! \lJrgently] Listen to me. 
The men in that audience tomorrow will be the vilest of 
voluptuaries : men in whom the only passion excited by a 
beautiful woman is a lust to see her tortured and torn 
shrieking limb from limb. It is a crime to gratify that 
passion. It is offering yourself for violation by the whole 
rabble of the streets and the riff-raff of the court at the 
same time. Why will you not choose rather a kindly love 
and an honorable alliance.'' 

LAVINIA. They cannot violate my soul. I alone can do 
that by sacrificing to false gods. 

THE CAPTAIN. Sacrifice then to the true God. What does 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 13 

his name matter? We call him Jupiter. The Greeks call 
him Zeus. Call him what you will as you drop the incense 
on the altar flame : He will understand. 

LAViNiA. No. I couldnt. That is the strange thing, Cap- 
tain, that a little pinch of incense should make all that 
difFerence. Religion is such a great thing that when I meet 
really religious people we are friends at once, no matter 
what name we give to the divine will that made us and 
moves us. Oh, do you think that I, a woman, would quarrel 
with you for sacrificing to a woman god like Diana, if Diana 
meant to you what Christ means to me ? No ; we should 
kneel side by side before her altar like two children. But 
when men who believe neither in my god nor in their own 
— men who do not know the meaning of the word religion 
— when these men drag me to the foot of an iron statue 
that has become the symbol of the terror and darkness 
through which they walk, of their cruelty and greed, of 
their hatred of God and their oppression of man — when 
they ask me to pledge my soul before the people that this 
hideous idol is God, and that all this wickedness and false- 
hood is divine truth, I cannot do it, not if they could put 
a thousand cruel deaths on me. I tell you, it is physically 
impossible. Listen, Captain : did you ever try to catch a 
mouse in your hand? Once there was a dear little mouse 
that used to come out and play on my table as I was read- 
ing. I wanted to take him in my hand and caress him ; 
and sometimes he got among my books so that he could not 
escape me when I stretched out my hand. And I did stretch 
out my hand ; but it always came back in spite of me. I 
was not afraid of him in my heart ; but my hand refused : 
it is not in the nature of my hand to touch a mouse. Well, 
Captain, if I took a pinch of incense in my hand and 
stretched it out over the altar fire, my hand would come 
back. My body would be true to my faith even if you 
could corrupt my mind. And all the time I should believe 
more in Diana than my persecutors have ever believed in 
anything. Can you understand that ? 

14 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

THE CAPTAIN [simp/y] Yes: I understand that. But my hand 
would not come back. The hand that holds the sword has 
been trained not to come back from anything but victory. 

LAVtNiA. Not even from death ? 

THE CAPTAIN. Lcast of all from death. 

LAViNiA. Then I must not come back from death either. 
A woman has to be braver than a soldier. 

THE CAPTAIN. Prouder, you mean. 

LAVINIA [start/ed] Prouder ! You call our courage pride ! 

THE CAPTAIN. There is no such thing as courage : there 
is only pride. You Christians are the proudest devils on 

LAVINIA [Surt] Pray God then my pride may never become 
a false pride. [S/^e turns away as if she did not wish to con- 
tinue the conversation, but softens and says to him with a smile'] 
Thank you for trying to save me. 

THE CAPTAIN. I kucw it was no use ; but one tries in spite 
of one's knowledge. 

LAVINIA. Something stirs, even in the iron breast of a 
Roman soldier? 

THE CAPTAIN. It will soon be iron again. I have seen 
many women die, and forgotten them in a week, 

LAVINIA. Remember me for a fortnight, handsome Captain. 
I shall be watching you, perhaps. 

THE CAPTAIN. From the skies ? Do not deceive yourself, 
Lavinia. There is no future for you beyond the grave. 

LAVINIA. What does that matter? Do you think I am 
only running away from the terrors of life into the comfort 
of heaven ? If there were no future, or if the future were 
one of torment, I should have to go just the same. The 
hand of God is upon me. 

THE CAPTAIN. Ycs: when all is said, we are both patricians, 
Lavinia, and must die for our beliefs. Farewell. [^He offers 
her his hand. She takes it and presses it. He walks away, trim 
and calm. She looks after him for a mofnent, and cries a little 
as he disappears through the eastern arch. A trumpet-call is 
beard from the road through the western arch]. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 15 

CENTURION [waking up and rising] Cohort of the tenth 
with prisoners. Two file out with me to receive them. 
[He goes out through the tvestern arch, followed by four soldiers 
in tivo fles\ 

Lentulus and Metellus come into the square from the west 
side with a little retinue of servants. Both are young courtiers^ 
dressed in the extremity of fashion. Lentulus is slender, fair- 
haired, epicene. Metellus is manly, compactly built, olive skinned, 
not a talker. 

LENTULUS. Christians, by Jove ! Lets chafF them. 

METELLUS. Awful btutes. If you knew as much about 
them as I do you wouldnt want to chafF them. Leave 
them to the lions. 

LENTULUS [indicating Lavinia, who is still looking towards 
the arches after the Captain] That woman's got a figure. [He 
walks past her, staring at her invitingly; but she is preoccupied 
and is not conscious of him]. Do you turn the other cheek 
when they kiss you? 

LAVINIA [starting] What? 

LENTULUS. Do you tum the other cheek when they kiss 
you, fascinating Christian? 

LAVINIA. Dont be foolish. [To Metellus, who has remained 
on her right, so that she is between them] Please dont let your 
friend behave like a cad before the soldiers. How are they 
to respect and obey patricians if they see them behaving 
like street boys ? [Sharply to Lentulus] Pull yourself to- 
gether, man. Hold your head up. Keep the corners of 
your mouth firm; and treat me respectfully. What do 
you take me for? 

LENTULUS [irresolutely] Look here, you know : I — you — 

LAVINIA. Stuff! Go about your business. [5/^ turns de- 
cisively away and sits dozvn with her comrades, leaving him 

METELLUS. You didnt get much out of that. I told you 
they were brutes. 

LENTULUS. Plucky little filly ! I suppose she thinks 1 

1 6 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

care. \^With an air of indifference he strolls with Lentuhis to 
the east side of the square, where they stand watching the return 
of the Centurion through the western arch with his men, escort- 
ing three prisoners : Ferrovius, Androcles, and Spintho. Ferro- 
vius is a powerful, choleric man in the prime of life, with large 
nostrils, staring eyes, and a thick neck: a man whose sensibilities 
are keen and violent to the verge of madness. Spintho is a de- 
bauchee, the wreck of a good-looking man gone hopelessly to the 
bad. Androcles is overwhelmed with grief and is restraining 
his tears with great difficulty']. 

THE CENTURION [to Lavinia] Here are some pals for you. 
This little bit is Ferrovius that you talk so much about. 
[Ferrovius turns on him threateningly. The Centurion holds up 
his left forefinger in admonition]. Now remember that youre 
a Christian, and that youve got to return good for evil. 
\Ferrovius controls himself convulsively ; moves away from 
temptation to the east side near Lentulus; clasps his hands 
in silent prayer; and throws himself on his knees]. Thats the 
way to manage them, eh! This fine fellow [indicating 
Androcles, who comes to his left, and makes Lavinia a heart- 
broken salutation] is a sorcerer. A Greek tailor, he is. A 
real sorcerer, too: no mistake about it. The tenth marches 
with a leopard at the head of the column. He made a 
pet of the leopard; and now he's crying at being parted 
from it. [Androcles sniffs lamentably]. Aint you, old chap? 
Well, cheer up, we march with a Billy goat [Androcles 
brightens up] thats killed two leopards and ate a turkey- 
cock. You can have him for a pet if you like. [Androcles, 
quite consoled, goes past the Centurion to Lavinia, and sits down 
contentedly on the ground on her left]. This dirty dog [collar- 
ing Spintho] is a real Christian. He mobs the temples, he 
does [at each accusation he gives the neck of Spintho' s tunic a 
twist] ; he goes smashing things mad drunk, he does; he 
steals the gold vessels, he does ; he assaults the priestesses, 
he does — yah! [He flings Spintho into the middle of the group 
of prisoners]. Youre the sort that makes duty a pleasure, you 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 17 

spiNTHo [gasph/g] Thats it : strangle me. Kick me. Beat 
me. Revile me. Our Lord was beaten and reviled. Thats 
my way to heaven. Every martyr goes to heaven, no matter 
what hes done. That is so, isnt it, brother? 

CENTURION. Well, if youre going to heaven, / dont 
want to go there. I wouldnt be seen with you. 

LENTULUs. Haw! Good ! {Indicating the kneeling Ferro- 
vius\ Is this one of the turn-the-other-cheek gentlemen, 
Centurion ? 

CENTURION. Yes, sir. Lucky for you too, sir, if you want 
to take any liberties with him. 

LENTULUS {to Ferrovius] You turn the other cheek when 
youre struck, I'm told. 

FERROVIUS \slowly turning his great eyes on him\ Yes, by 
the grace of God, I do, now. 

LENTULUS. Not that yourc a coward, of course ; but out 
of pure piety. 

FERROVIUS. I fear God more than manj at least I try 

LENTULUS. Lets scc. {He strikes him on the cheek. 
Androcles makes a wild movement to rise and interfere ; but 
Lavinia holds him down, watching Ferrovius intently. Ferro- 
vius, without fiinching, turns the other cheek. Lentulus, rather 
out of countenance, titters foolishly, and strikes him again feebly\ 
You know, I should feel ashamed if I let myself be struck 
like that, and took it lying down. But then I'm not a 
Christian : I'm a man. {Ferrovius rises impressively and towers 
over him. Lentulus becomes white with terror ; and a shade of 
green flickers in his cheek for a moment\ 

FERROVIUS {with the calm of a steam hammer"] I have not 
always been faithful. The first man who struck me as you 
have just struck me was a stronger man than you: he hit 
me harder than I expected. I was tempted and fell ; and 
it was then that I first tasted bitter shame. I never had a 
happy moment after that until I had knelt and asked his 
forgiveness by his bedside in the hospital. {Putting his hands 
on Lentulus'' s shoulders with paternal weight]. But now I have 


1 8 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

learnt to resist with a strength that is not my own. I am 
not ashamed now, nor angry. 

LENTULus [uneasi/y] Er — good evening. [He tries to move 

FERROvius [gripping his shoulders'] Oh, do not harden your 
heart, young man. Come : try for yourself whether our 
way is not better than yours. I will now strike you on one 
cheek ; and you will turn the other and learn how much 
better you will feel than if you gave way to the promptings of 
anger. [He holds him with one hand and clenches the other Jist\ 

LENTULUS. Centurion : I call on you to protect me. 

CENTURION. You asked for it, sir. It's no business of ours. 
Youve had two whacks at him. Better pay him a trifle and 
square it that way. 

LENTULUS. Yes, of course. \To Ferroz'ius'] It was only a 
bit of fun, I assure you : I meant no harm. Here. [He 
proffers a gold coin], 

FERROVIUS [taking it and throwing it to the old beggar, who 
snatches it up eager h, and hobbles off to spend zV] Give all thou 
hast to the poor. Come, friend : courage ! I may hurt your 
body for a moment ; but your soul will rejoice in the 
victory of the spirit over the flesh. [He prepares to strike]. 

ANDROCLES. Easy, Ferrovius, easy: you broke the last 
man's jaw. 

Lentulus, with a moan of terror, attempts to Jiy ; but Fer- 
rovius holds hi?n ruthlessly. 

FERROVIUS. Yes ; but I saved his soul. What matters a 
broken jaw? 

LENTULUS. Dont touch me, do you hear? The law — 

FERROVIUS. The law will throw me to the lions to- 
morrow: what worse could it do were I to slay you? 
Pray for strength ; and it shall be given to you. 

LENTULUS. Let me go. Your religion forbids you to strike 

FERROVIUS. On the contrary, it commands me to strike 
you. How can you turn the other cheek, if you arc not 
first struck on the one cheek? 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 19 

LENTULUS [a/most in tears'] But I'm convinced already 
that what you said is quite right. I apologize for striking 

FERRovius [greatly pleased] My son : have I softened 
your heart? Has the good seed fallen in a fruitful place? 
Are your feet turning towards a better path ? 

LENTULUS \_abjectly] Yes, yes. Theres a great deal in what 
you say. 

FERROVIUS [radiant] Join us. Come to the lions. Come 
to suffering and death. 

LENTULUS [falling on his knees and bursting into tears] Oh, 
help me. Mother! mother! 

FERROVIUS. These tears will water your soul and make 
it bring forth good fruit, my son. God has greatly blessed 
my efforts at conversion. Shall I tell you a miracle — yes, 
a miracle — wrought by me in Cappadocia ? A young man 
— ^just such a one as you, with golden hair like yours — 
scoffed at and struck me as you scoffed at and struck me. 
I sat up all night with that youth wrestling for his soul ; 
and in the morning not only was he a Christian, but his 
hair was as white as snow. [Lentulus falls in a dead faint]. 
There, there: take him away. The spirit has overwrought 
him, poor lad. Carry him gently to his house ; and leave 
the rest to heaven. 

CENTURION. Take him home, ^he servants, intimidated, 
hastily carry him out. Metellus is about to follow when Ferrovius 
lays his hand on his shoulder]. 

FERROVIUS. You are his friend, young man. You will see 
that he is taken safely home. 

METELLUS [wtth awestruck civility] Certainly, sir. I shall 
do whatever you think best. Most happy to have made 
your acquaintance, I'm sure. You may depend on me. 
Good evening, sir. 

FERROVIUS [with unction] The blessing of heaven upon 
you and him. 

Metellus follows Lentulus. The Centurion returns to his seat 
to resume his interrupted nap. The deepest awe has settled on 

20 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

the spectators. Ferrovius, with a long sigh of happiness, goes ts 
Lavinia, and offers her his hand. 

LAViNiA [taking zV] So that is how you convert people, 

FERROvius. Yes : there has been a blessing on my work 
in spiteof my unworthiness and mybackslidings — all through 
my wicked, devilish temper. This man — 

ANDROCLES \hastilf\ Dont slap me on the back, brother. 
She knows you mean me. 

FERROVIUS. How I wish I wcrc weak like our brother 
here ! for then I should perhaps be meek and gentle like 
him. And yet there seems to be a special providence that 
makes my trials less than his. I hear tales of the crowd 
scoffing and casting stones and reviling the brethren ; but 
when I come, all this stops : my influence calms the passions 
of the mob : they listen to me in silence ; and infidels are 
often converted by a straight heart-to-heart talk with me. 
Every day I feel happier, more confident. Every day 
lightens the load of the great terror. 

LAVINIA. The great terror.'' What is that ? 

Ferrovius shakes his head and does not answer. He sits down 
beside her on her left, and buries his face in Ins hands in gloomy 

ANDROCLES. Well, you see, sister, he's never quite sure of 
himself Suppose at the last moment in the arena, with the 
gladiators there to fight him, one of them was to say any- 
thing to annoy him, he might forget himself and lay that 
gladiator out. 

LAVINIA. That would be splendid. 

FERROVIUS [springing up in horror'\ What ! 

ANDROCLES. Oh, sister ! 

FERROVIUS. Splendid to betray my master, like Peter! 
Splendid to act like any common blackguard in the day of 
my proving ! Woman: you are no Christian. \_He moves away 
from her to thie middle of the square, as if her neighborhood 
contaminated him\. 

LAVINIA \laughing\ You know, Ferrovius, I am not always 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 21 

a Christian. I dont think anybody is. There are moments 
when I forget all about it, and something comes out quite 
naturally, as it did then. 

spiNTHo. What does it matter? If you die in the arena, 
youll be a martyr ; and all martyrs go to heaven, no matter 
what they have done. Thats so, isnt it, Ferrovius? 

FERROvius. Yes: that is so, if we are faithful to the end. 

LAViNiA. I'm not so sure. 

spiNTHo. Dont say that. Thats blasphemy. Dont say 
that, I tell you. We shall be saved, no matter what we do. 

LAVINIA. Perhaps you men will all go into heaven bravely 
and in triumph, with your heads erect and golden trumpets 
sounding for you. But I am sure I shall only be allowed to 
squeeze myself in through a little crack in the gate after 
a great deal of begging. I am not good always : I have 
moments only. 

SPINTHO. Youre talking nonsense, woman. I tell you, 
martyrdom pays all scores. 

ANDROCLES. Well, let us hope so, brother, for your sake. 
Youve had a gay time, havnt you? with your raids on the 
temples. I cant help thinking that heaven will be very dull 
for a man of your temperament. [Spintho snarls^ Dont be 
angry : I say it only to console you in case you should die 
in your bed tonight in the natural way. Theres a lot of 
plague about. 

SPINTHO [rising and running about in abject terror] I never 
thought of that. Oh Lord, spare me to be martyred. Oh, 
what a thought to put into the mind of a brother ! Oh, let 
me be martyred today, now. I shall die in the night and 
go to hell. Youre a sorcerer : youve put death into my mind. 
Oh, curse you, curse you ! [He tries t« seize Androcles by the 

FERROVIUS [holding him in a grasp of iron] Whats this, 
brother? Anger! Violence! Raising your hand to a 
brother Christian ! 

SPINTHO. It's easy for you. Youre strong. Your nerves 
are all right. But I'm full of disease. [Ferrovius takes his 

22 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

hand from kim with instinctive disgust\ Ive drunk all my 
nerves away. I shall have the horrors all night. 

ANDROCLES Ys^Tnpathetic\ Oh, dont take on so, brother. 
We're all sinners. 

SFiNTHo {snivellings frying to feel consoled^ Yes : I daresay 
if the truth were known, youre all as bad as I am. 

LAViNiA {contemptuously'] Does that comfort you? 

FERROvius {sternly'] Pray, man, pray. 

spiNTHO. Whats the good of praying? If we're martyred 
we shall go to heaven, shant we, whether we pray or not ? 

FERROVIUS. Whats that? Not pray! {Seizing him again] 
Pray this instant, you dog, you rotten hound, you slimy 
snake, you beastly goat, or — 

spiNTHO. Yes : beat me : kick me. I forgive you : mind 

FERROVIUS {spurning him with loathing] Yah ! {Spintho reels 
away and falls in front of Ferrovius]. 

ANDROCLES {reaching out and catching the skirt of Ferrovius' s 
tunic] Dear brother: if you wouldnt mind — ^just for my 
sake — 


ANDROCLES. Dont call him by the names of the animals. 
Weve no right to. Ivc had such friends in dogs. A pet 
snake is the best of company. I was nursed on goat's milk. 
Is it fair to them to call the like of him a dog or a snake 
or a goat ? 

FERROVIUS. I only meant that they have no souls. 

ANDROCLES {anxiously protesting] Oh, believe me, they 
have. Just the same as you and me. I really dont think 
I could consent to go to heaven if I thought there were to 
be no animals there. Think of what they suffer here. 

FERROVIUS. Thats true. Yes: that is just. They will 
have their share in heaven. 

Spintho {who has picked himself up and is sneaking past 
Ferrovius on his left, sneers derisively] ! ! 

FERROVIUS {turning on him fiercely] Whats that you say? 

SPINTHO {cowering] Nothing. 

Act I Androcles and the Lion 23 

FERROvius \clenching his Jist'\ Do animals go to heaven or 

SPiNTHo. I never said they didnt. 

FERROVIUS \implacable\ Do they or do they not? 

SPINTHO. They do : they do. [Scrambling out of Ferrovius' s 
reach\ Oh, curse you for frightening me ! 

A bugle call is heard. 

CENTURION [waking up] Tention ! Form as before. Now 
then, prisoners : up with you and trot along spry. [The 
soldiers fall in. The Christians rise]. 

A man with an ox goad comes running through the central arch. 

THE ox DRIVER. Hcrc, you soldicrs ! clear out of the way 
for the Emperor. 

THE CENTURION. Emperor ! Wheres the Emperor? You 
aint the Emperor, are you? , 

THE ox DRIVER. It's the menagerie service. My team of 
oxen is drawing the new lion to the Coliseum. You clear 
the road. 

CENTURION. What! Go in after you in your dust, with 
half the town at the heels of you and your lion ! Not likely. 
We go first. 

THE ox DRIVER. The menagerie service is the Emperor's 
personal retinue. You clear out, I tell you. 

CENTURION. You tell me, do you ? Well, I'll tell you 
something. If the lion is menagerie service, the lion's 
dinner is menagerie service too. This [•pointing to the 
Christians] is the lion's dinner. So back with you to your 
bullocks double quick ; and learn your place. March. [The 
soldiers start]. Now then, you Christians : step out there. 

LAViNiA [marching] Come along, the rest of the dinner. 
I shall be the olives and anchovies. 

ANOTHER CHRISTIAN [laughing] I shall be the soup. 

ANOTHER. I shall be the fish. 

ANOTHER. Ferrovius shall be the roast boar. 

FERROVIUS [heavili] I see the joke. Yes, yes : I shall be 
the roast boar. Ha! ha I [He laughs conscientiously and 
marches out with them]. 

24 Androcles and the Lion Act I 

ANDROCLES \_following\ I shall be the mince pie. \Each 
announcement is received with a louder laugh by all the rest 
as the joke catches on], 

CENTURION [scandalized] Silence! Have some sense of 
your situation. Is this the way for martyrs to behave? [To 
Spintho, who is quaking and loitering] I know what you 11 be 
at that dinner. Youll be the emetic. [He shoves him rudely 

spiNTHO. It's too dreadful : I'm not fit to die. 

CENTURION. Fitter than you are to live, you swine. 

They pass from the square westward. The oxen, drawing 
a waggon with a great wooden cage and the lion in it, arrize 
through the central arch. 


Behind the Emperor's box at the Coliseum, where the per- 
formers assemble before entering the arena. In t/^e middle a wide 
passage leading to the arena descends from the floor level under 
the imperial box. On both sides of this passage steps ascend to 
a landing at the back entrance to the box. The landing forms 
a bridge across the passage. At the entrance to the passage are 
two bronze mirrors, one on each side. 

On the west side of this passage, on the right hand of any 
one coming from the box and standing on the bridge, the martyrs 
are sitting on the steps. Lavinia is seated half-way up, thought- 
ful, trying to look death in the face. On her left Androcles con- 
soles himself by nursing a cat. Ferrovius stands behind them, 
his eyes blazing, his figure stiff with intense resolution. At the 
foot of the steps crouches Spin t ho, with his head clutched in his 
hands, full of horror at the approach of martyrdom. 

On the east side of the passage the gladiators are standing 
and sitting at ease, waiting, like the Christians, for their turn 
in the arena. One {Retiarius) is a nearly naked man with a 
net and a trident. Another (Secutor) is in armor with a sword. 
He carries a helmet with a barred visor. The editor of the 
gladiators sits on a chair a little apart from them. 

The Call Boy enters from the passage. 

THE CALL BOY. Number six. Retiarius versus Secutor. 

The gladiator with the net picks it up. The gladiator with 
the helmet puts it on; and the two go into the arena, the 
net thrower taking out a little brush and arranging his hair 


26 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

as he goes, the other tightening his straps and shaking his 
shoulders loose. Both look at themselves in the mirrors before 
the J enter the passage. 

LAViNiA. Will they really kill one another? 

spiNTHO. Yes, if the people turn down their thumbs. 

THE EDITOR. You Icnow nothing about it. The people 
indeed ! Do you suppose we would kill a man worth per- 
haps fifty talents to please the rifFrafF? I should like to 
catch any of my men at it. 

sPiNTHO. I thought — 

THE EDITOR \contemptuously\ You thought! Who cares 
what you think? Youll be killed all right enough. 

SPINTHO {groans and again hides his face"] ! ! ! 

LAVINIA. Then is nobody ever killed except us poor 
Christians ? 

THE EDITOR. If the vestal virgins turn down their thumbs, 
thats another matter. Theyre ladies of rank. 

LAVINIA. Does the Emperor ever interfere? 

THE EDITOR. Oh, yes : he turns his thumb up fast enough 
if the vestal virgins want to have one of his pet fighting 
men killed. 

ANDROCLES. But dont they ever just only pretend to kill 
one another ? Why shouldnt you pretend to die, and get 
dragged out as if you were dead; and then get up and go 
home, like an actor? 

THE EDITOR. See here : you want to know too much. 
There will be no pretending about the new lion : let that 
be enough for you. Hes hungry. 

spiNTHO [groaning with horror^ Oh, Lord ! cant you stop 
talking about it? Isnt it bad enough for us without 
that ? 

ANDROCLES. I'm glad hes hungry. Not that I want him 
to suffer, poor chap ! but then he'll enjoy eating me so 
much more. Theres a cheerful side to everything. 

THE EDITOR [rising and striding over to Androcles'\ Here : 
dont you be obstinate. Come with me and drop the pinch 
of incense on the altar. Thats all you need do to be let off. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 27 

ANDRocLES. No : thank you very much indeed; but I 
really mustnt. 

THE EDITOR. What! Not to savc your life ? 

ANDROCLES. Id rather not. I couldnt sacrifice to Diana : 
shes a huntress, you know, and kills things. 

THE EDITOR. That dont matter. You can choose vour 
own altar. Sacrifice to Jupiter : he likes animals : he turns 
himself into an animal when he goes off duty. 

ANDROCLES. No : it's very kind of you; but I feel I cant 
save myself that way. 

THE EDITOR. But I dont ask you to do it to save yourself: 
I ask you to do it to oblige me personally. 

ANDROCLES [scrambling up in the greatest agitation] Oh, 
please dont say that. This is dreadful. You mean so kindly 
by me that it seems quite horrible to disoblige you. If you 
could arrange for me to sacrifice when theres nobody look- 
ing, I shouldnt mind. But I must go into the arena with 
the rest. My honor, you know. 

THE EDITOR. Houor ! The honor of a tailor? 

ANDROCLES [^apologetically] Well, perhaps honor is too strong 
an expression. Still, you know, I couldnt allow the tailors 
to get a bad name through me. 

THE EDITOR. How much will you remember of all that 
when you smell the beast's breath and see his jaws opening 
to tear out your throat ? 

spiNTHO [rising with a yell of terror] I cant bear it. Wheres 
the altar? I'll sacrifice. 

FERROvius. Dog of an apostate. Iscariot ! 

SPINTHO. I'll repent afterwards. I fully mean to die 
in the arena : I'll die a martyr and go to heaven ; but 
not this time, not now, not until my nerves are better. 
Besides, I'm too young: I want to have just one more 
good time. [The gladiators laugh at him]. Oh, will no one 
tell me where the altar is? [He clashes into the passage and 

ANDROCLES [to the Editor, pointing after Spintho] Brother : 
I cant do that, not even to oblige you. Dont ask me. 

28 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

THE EDITOR. Well, if yourc determined to die, I cant 
help you. But I wouldnt be put ofF by a swine like 

FERROVius. Peace, peace : tempt him not. Get thee 
behind him, Satan. 

THE EDITOR [fushing With rage] For two pins Id take a 
turn in the arena myself today, and pay you out for daring 
to talk to me like that. 

Ferrovius springs forward. 

LAViNiA [rising quickly and interposing] Brother, brother : 
you forget. 

FERROVIUS [curbing himself by a mighty effort] Oh, my 
temper, my wicked temper ! \To the Editor, as Lavinia sits 
down again, reassured] Forgive me, brother. My heart was 
full of wrath: I should have been thinking of your dear 
precious soul. 

THE EDITOR. Yah! {He turns his back on Ferrovius con- 
temptuously, and goes back to Ins seat]. 

FERROVIUS [continuing] And I forgot it all : I thought^ of 
nothing but offering to fight you with one hand tied behind 

THE EDITOR [turuing pugnaciously] What ! 

FERROVIUS [on the border line between xeal and ferocity] Oh, 
dont give way to pride and wrath, brother. I could do it 
SO easily. I could — 

They are separated by the Menagerie Keeper, who rushes in 
from the passage, furious. 

THE KEEPER. Hcres a nice business 1 Who let that Chris- 
tian out of here down to the dens when we were changing 
the lion into the cage next the arena? 

THE EDITOR. Nobody let him. He let himself. 

THE KEEPER. Wcll, the Hou's ate him. 

Consternation. The Christians rise, greatly agitated. The 
gladiators sit callously, but are highly amused. All speak or cry 
out or laugh at once. Tumult. 

LAVINIA. Oh, poor wretch ! ferrovius. The apostate has 
perished. Praise be to God's justice ! androcles. The poor 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 29 

beast was starving. It couldnt help itself, the christians. 
What ! Ate him ! How frightful ! How terrible ! Without 
a moment to repent! God be merciful to him, a sinner! 
Oh, I cant bear to think of it! In the midst of his sin! 
Horrible, horrible ! the editor. Serve the rotter right ! 
THE GLADIATORS. Just Walked into it, he did. Hes mar- 
tyred all right enough. Good old lion ! Old Jock doesnt 
like that: look at his face. Devil a better! The Emperor 
will laugh when he hears of it. I cant help smiling. Ha 
ha ha ! ! ! ! ! 

THE KEEPER. Now his appetite's taken off, he wont as 
much as look at another Christian for a week. 

ANDROCLES. Couldnt you have saved him, brother? 

THE KEEPER. Savcd him ! Saved him from a lion that Id 
just got mad with hunger ! a wild one that came out of the 
forest not four weeks ago ! He bolted him before you could 
say Balbus. 

LAViNiA [^sitting down agairi] Poor Spintho ! And it wont 
even count as martyrdom ! 

THE KEEPER. Scrve him right ! What call had he to 
walk down the throat of one of my lions before he was 
asked ? 

ANDROCLES. Perhaps the lion wont eat me now. 

THE KEEPER. Ycs : thats just like a Christian I think only 
of yourself! What am / to do? What am I to say to the 
Emperor when he sees one of my lions coming into the 
arena half asleep? 

THE EDITOR. Say nothing. Give your old lion some bitters 
and a morsel of fried fish to wake up his appetite. [Laughter]. 

THE KEEPER. Yes : it's easy for you to talk; but — 

THE EDITOR [scrambling to his feet] Sh ! Attention there ! 
The Emperor. [The Keeper bolts precipitately into the passage. 
The gladiators rise smartly and form into line]. 

The Emperor enters on the Christians' side, conversing with 
Metellus, and followed by his suite. 

THE GLADIATORS. Hail, Caesax ! those about to die salute 

30 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

CAESAR. Good morrow, friends. 

Metellus shakes hands with the Editor, who accepts his con- 
descension with bluff respect. 

LAViNiA. Blessing, Caesar, and forgiveness! 

CAESAR {turning in some surprise at the salutation] There is 
no forgiveness for Christianity. 

LAVINIA. I did not mean that, Caesar. I mean that we 
forgive you. 

METELLUS. An inconceivablc liberty ! Do you not know, 
woman, that the Emperor can do no wrong and therefore 
cannot be forgiven? 

LAVINIA. I expect the Emperor knows better. Anyhow, 
we forgive him. 


CAESAR. Metellus : you see now the disadvantage of too 
much severity. These people have no hope ; therefore 
they have nothing to restrain them from saying what they 
like to me. They are almost as impertinent as the gladia- 
tors. Which is the Greek sorcerer? 

ANDROCLES [humbly touching his forelock] Me, your Wor- 

CAESAR. My Worship ! Good ! A new title. Well : what 
miracles can you perform? 

ANDROCLES. I Can cure warts by rubbing them with my 
tailor's chalk; and I can live with my wife without beat- 
ing her. 

CAESAR. Is that all ? 

ANDROCLES. You dont know her, Caesar, or you wouldnt 
say that. 

CAESAR. Ah, well, my friend, we shall no doubt contrive 
a happy release for you. Which is Ferrovius? 

FERROvius. I am he. 

CAESAR. They tell me you can fight. 

FERROVIUS. It is easy to fight. 1 can die, Caesar. 

CAESAR. That is still easier, is it not? 

FERROVIUS. Not to me, Caesar. Death comes hard to 
ray flesh ; and fighting comes very easily to my spirit [beat- 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 31 

ing his breast and lamenting] Oh, sinner that I am ! \He throws 
himself down on the steps, deeply discouraged\ 

CAESAR. Metellus : I should like to have this man in the 
Pretorian Guard. 

METELLUS. / should not, Caesar. He looks a spoilsport. 
There are men in whose presence it is impossible to have 
any fun : men who are a sort of walking conscience. He 
would make us all uncomfortable. 

CAESAR. For that reason, perhaps, it might be well to have 
him. An Emperor can hardly have too many consciences. 
\To Ferrovius'\ Listen, Ferrovius. \Ferrovius shakes his head 
and will not look up']. You and your friends shall not be out- 
numbered today in the arena. You shall have arms; and 
there will be no more than one gladiator to each Christian. 
If you come out of the arena alive, I will consider favor- 
ably any request of yours, and give you a place in the 
Pretorian Guard. Even if the request be that no ques- 
tions be asked about your faith I shall perhaps not refuse it. 

FERROVIUS. I will not fight. I will die. Better stand 
with the archangels than with the Pretorian Guard. 

CAESAR. I cannot believe that the archangels — whoever 
they may be — would not prefer to be recruited from the 
Pretorian Guard. However, as you please. Come : let us 
see the show. 

As the Court ascends the steps, Secutor and Retiarius return 
from the arena through the passage: Secutor covered with dust 
and very angry : Retiarius grinning. 

SECUTOR. Ha, the Emperor. Now we shall see. Caesar: 
I ask you whether it is fair for the Retiarius, instead of 
making a fair throw of his net at me, to swish it along the 
ground and throw the dust in my eyes, and then catch 
me when I'm blinded. If the vestals had not turned up 
their thumbs I should have been a dead man. 

CAESAR [halting on the stair] There is nothing in the 
rules against it. 

SECUTOR [indignantly] Caesar: is it a dirty trick or is it 

32 Androcles and the Lion Act il 

CAESAR. It is a dusty one, my friend. {Obsequious laughter\. 
Be on your guard next time. 

SECUTOR. Let him be on his guard. Next time I'll throw 
my sword at his heels and strangle him with his own net 
before he can hop off. \To the Retiarius] You see if I dont. 
[He goes out past the gladiators, sulky and furious']. 

CAESAR [to the chuckling Retiarius\ These tricks are not 
wise, my friend. The audience likes to see a dead man in 
all his beauty and splendor. If you smudge his face and 
spoil his armor they will shew their displeasure by not 
letting you kill him. And when your turn comes, they will 
remember it against you and turn their thumbs down. 

THE RETiARius. Perhaps that is why I did it, Caesar. He 
bet me ten sesterces that he would vanquish me. If I had 
had to kill him I should not have had the money. 

CAESAR [indulgent, laughing] You rogues : there is no end 
to your tricks. I'll dismiss you all and have elephants to 
fight. They fight fairly. [He goes up to his box, and knocks 
at it. It is opened from within by the Captain, who stands as on 
parade to let him pass]. 

The Call Boy comes from the passage, followed by three at- 
tendants carrying respectively a bundle of swords, some helmets, 
and some breastplates and pieces of armor which they throw down 
in a heap. 

THE CALL Boy. By your leave, Caesar. Number eleven ! 
Gladiators and Christians ! 

Ferrovius springs up, ready for martyrdom. The other Chris- 
tians take the summons as best they can, some joyful and brave, 
some patient and dignified, some tearful and helpless, some em- 
bracing one another with emotion. The Call Boy goes back into 
the passage. 

CAESAR [turning at the door of the box] The hour has come, 
Ferrovius. I shall go into my box and see you killed, since 
you scorn the Pretorian Guard. [He goes into the box. The 
Captain shuts the door, remaining inside with the Emperor. 
Metellus and the rest of the suite disperse to their seats. The 
Christians, led by Ferrovius, move towards the passage]. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 33 

LAViNiA [to Ferrovius'\ Farewell. 

THE EDITOR. Steady there. You Christians have got to 
fight. Here ! arm yourselves. 

FERROvius \_picki?!g tip c sword'\ I'll die sword in hand to 
shew people that I could fight if it were my Master's will, 
and that I could kill the man who kills me if I chose. 

THE EDITOR. Put on that armor. 

FERROVIUS. No armor. 

THE EDITOR [bullying him] Do what youre told. Put on 
that armor. 

FERROVIUS [gripping the sword and looking dangerous] I 
said, No armor. 

THE EDITOR. And what am I to say when I am accused 
of sending a naked man in to fight my men in armor? 

FERROVIUS. Say your prayers, brother ; and have no fear 
of the princes of this world. 

THE EDITOR. Tsha ! You obstinatc fool ! [He bites his 
lips irresolutely^ not knowing exactly what to do]. 

ANDROCLES [to Ferrovius] Farewell, brother, till we meet 
in the sweet by-and-by. 

THE EDITOR [to Androcks] You are going too. Take a 
sword there ; and put on any armor you can find to fit you. 

ANDROCLES. No, really : I cant fight : I never could : I 
cant bring myself to dislike anyone enough, I'm to be 
thrown to the lions with the lady. 

THE EDITOR. Then get out of the way and hold your 
noise. [Androcles steps aside with cheerful docility]. Now 
then ! Are you all ready there ? 

A trumpet is heard from the arena. 

FERROVIUS [starting convulsively] Heaven give me 
strength ! 

THE EDITOR. Aha! That frightens you, does it? 

FERROVIUS. "Man : there is no terror like the terror of that 
sound to me. When I hear a trumpet or a drum or the 
clash of steel or the hum of the catapult as the great stone 
flies, fire runs through my veins : I feel my blood surge up 
hot behind my eyes : I must charge : I must strike : I must 


34 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

conquer : Caesar himself will not be safe in his imperial 
seat if once that spirit gets loose in me. Oh, brothers, pray ! 
exhort me ! remind me that if I raise my sword my honor 
falls and my Master is crucified afresh. 

ANDROCLES. Just Icccp thinking how cruelly you might 
hurt the poor gladiators. 

FERROvius. It does not hurt a man to kill him. 

LAViNiA. Nothing but faith can save you. 

FERROVIUS. Faith! Which faith? There are two faiths. 
There is our faith. And there is the warrior's faith, the 
faith in fighting, the faith that sees God in the sword. 
How if that faith should overwhelm me? 

LAVINIA. You will find your real faith in the hour of 

FERROVIUS. That is what I fear. I know that I am a 
fighter. How can I feel sure that I am a Christian ? 

ANDROCLES. Throw away the sword, brother. 

FERROVIUS. I cannot. It cleaves to my hand. I could as 
easily throw a woman I loved from my arms. [^Stariing] 
Who spoke that blasphemy? Not I. 

LAVINIA. I cant help you, friend. I cant tell you not to 
save your own life. Something wilful in me wants to see 
you fight your way into heaven. 


ANDROCLES. But if you are going to give up our faith, 
brother, why not do it without hurting anybody? Dont 
fight them. Burn the incense. 

FERROVIUS. Burn the incense ! Never. 

LAVINIA. That is only pride, Ferrovius. 

FERROVIUS. Only pride! What is nobler than pride? 
[Conscience stricken] Oh, I'm steeped in sin. I'm proud of 
my pride. 

LAVINIA. They say we Christians are the proudest devils 
on earth — that only the weak are meek. Oh, I am worse 
than you. I ought to send you to death ; and I am tempt- 
ing you. 

ANDROCLES. Brother, brother : let them rage and kill: 

Ace II Androcies and the Lion ^S 

let us be brave and sutFor. You must go as a lamb to the 

FERRovius. Aye, aye : that is right. Not as a lamb is 
slain by the butcher; but as a butcher might let himself 
be slain by a [/ookiKg at the Editor] by a silly ram whose 
head he could fetch ofF in one twist. 

Before the Editor can retort, the Call Boy rushes up through 
the passage, and the Captain comes from the Emperor's box 
and descends the steps. 

THE CALL BOY. In with you : into the arena. The stage 
is waiting. 

THE CAPTAIN. The Emperor is waiting. \To the Editor'\ 
What are you dreaming of, man? Send your men in at 

THE EDITOR. Ycs, sir : it's these Christians hanging back. 

FERROVIUS \in a voice of thunder] Liar ! 

THE EDITOR [not heeding him] March. [The gladiators told 
off to fight with the Christians march down the passage] Follow 
up there, you. 

THE CHRISTIAN MEN AND WOMEN \as they part] Be steadfast, 
brother. Farewell. Hold up the faith, brother. Farewell. 
Go to glory, dearest. Farewell. Remember : we are praying 
for you. Farewell. Be strong, brother. Farewell. Dont 
forget that the divine love and our love surround you. 
Farewell. Nothing can hurt you : remember that, brother. 
Farewell. Eternal glory, dearest. Farewell. 

THE EDITOR \out of paticnce] Shove them in, there. 

The remaining gladiators and the Call Boy make a movement 
towards them. 

FERROVIUS [interposing] Touch them, dogs ; and we die 
here, and cheat the heathen of their spectacle. [To his fellow 
Christians] Brothers : the great moment has come. That 
passage is your hill to Calvary. Mount it bravely, but 
meekly J and remember ! not a word of reproach, not a blow 
nor a struggle. Go. [They go out through the passage. He turns 
to Lavinia] Farewell. 

LAViNiA. You forget : I must follow before you are cold. 


Androcles and the Lion Act ii 

FERROvius. It is true. Do not envy me because I pass 
before you to glory, \^He goes through the passage\, 

THE EDITOR \to the Call Boj\ Sickening work, this. Why- 
cant they all be thrown to the lions.'' It's not a man's job. 
[//(? throws himself moodily into his chair\ 

The remaining gladiators go back to their former places in- 
differently . The Call Boy shrugs his shoulders and squats dozvn 
at the entrance to the passage^ near the Editor. 

Lavinia and the Christian women sit down again, wrung 
with grief some weeping silently, some praying, some calm and 
steadfast. Androcles sits down at Lavinia' s feet. The Captain 
stands on the stairs, watching her curiously. 

ANDROCLES. I'm glad I havnt to fight. That would really 
be an awful martyrdom. lam lucky. 

LAVINIA \looking at him with a pang of remorse'\ Androcles : 
burn the incense : youll be forgiven. Let my de&th atone 
for both. I feel as if I were killing you. 

ANDROCLES. Dont think of me, sister. Think of yourself. 
That will keep your heart up. 

The Captain laughs sardonically. 

LAVINIA \startled: she had forgotten his presence'\ Are you 
there, handsome Captain.? Have you come to see me die? 

THE CAPTAIN \coming to her side~\ I am on duty with the 
Emperor, Lavinia. 

LAVINIA. Is it part of your duty to laugh at us? 

THE CAPTAIN. No : that is part of my private pleasure. 
Your friend here is a humorist. I laughed at his telling you 
to think of yourself to keep up your heart. / say, think of 
yourself and burn the incense. 

LAVINIA. He is not a humorist : he was right. You ought 
to know that, Captain : you have been face to face with 

THE CAPTAIN. Not with Certain death, Lavinia. Only 
death in battle, which spares more men than death in bed. 
What you are facing is certain death. You have nothing 
left now but your faith in this craze of yours : this Christi- 
anity. Are your Christian fairy stories any truer than our 

Act IJ Androcles and the Lion 37 

stories about Jupiter and Diana, in which, I may tell you, 
I believe no more than the Emperor does, or any educated 
man in Rome? 

LAViNiA. Captain : all that seems nothing to me now. 
I'll not say that death is a terrible thing; but I will say that 
it is so real a thing that when it comes close, all the 
imaginary things — all the stories, as you call them — fade 
into mere dreams beside that inexorable reality. I know 
now that I am not dying for stories or dreams. Did you 
hear of the dreadful thing that happened here while we 
were waiting? 

THE CAPTAIN. I heard that one of your fellows bolted, 
and ran right into the jaws of the lion. I laughed. I still 

LAVINIA. Then you dont understand what that meant? 

THE CAPTAIN. It meant that the lion had a cur for his 

LAVINIA. It meant more than that. Captain. It meant 
that a man cannot die for a story and a dream. None of us 
believed the stories and the dreams more devoutly than 
poor Spintho ; but he could not face the great reality. What 
he would have called my faith has been oozing away minute 
by minute whilst Ive been sitting here, with death coming 
nearer and nearer, with reality become realler and realler, 
with stories and dreams fading away into nothing. 

THE CAPTAIN. Are you then going to die for nothing? 

LAVINIA. Yes : that is the wonderful thing. It is since 
all the stories and dreams have gone that I have now no 
doubt at all that I must die for something greater than 
dreams or stories. 

THE CAPTAIN. But for what ? 

LAVINIA. I dont know. If it were for anything small 
enough to know, it would be too small to die for. I think I'm 
going to die for God. Nothing else is real enough to die for. 

THE CAPTAIN. What is God ? 

LAVINIA. When we know that, Captain, we shall be gods 

38 Androcles and the Lion Act il 

THE CAPTAIN. Lavinia : come down to earth. Burn the 
incense and marry me. 

LAVINIA. Handsome Captain : would you marry me if I 
hauled down the flag in the day of battle and burnt the 
incense? Sons take after their mothers, you know. Do you 
want your son to be a coward? 

THE CAPTAIN \_strongly moved\ By great Diana, I think I 
would strangle you if you gave in now. 

LAVINIA {putting her hand on the head of Androeies'] The 
hand of God is on us three. Captain. 

THE CAPTAIN. What nonsense it all is ! And what a 
monstrous thing that you should die for such nonsense, and 
that I should look on helplessly when my whole soul cries 
out against it ! Die then if you must ; but at least I can cut 
the Emperor's throat and then my own when I see your 

The Emperor tl^rows open the door of his box angrily^ and 
appears in wrath on the threshold. The Editor^ the Call Boy, 
and the gladiators spring to their feet. 

THE EMPEROR. The Christians will not fight; and your 
curs cannot get their blood up to attack them. It's all that 
fellow with the blazing eyes. Send for the whip. \The Call 
Boy rushes out on the east side for the whip\ If that will 
not move them, bring the hot irons. The man is like a 
mountain. \^He returns angrily into the box and slams the 

The Call Boy returns with a man in a hideous Etruscan 
mask, carrying a whip. They both rush dozen the passage into 
the arena. 

LAVINIA [rising] Oh, that is unworthy. Can they not kill 
him without dishonoring him? 

ANDROCLES [scrambling to his feet and running into the middle 
of the space between the staircases] It's dreadful. Now / want 
to fight. I cant bear the sight of a whip. The only time I 
ever hit a man was when he lashed an old horse with a 
whip. It was terrible : I danced on his face when he was 
on the ground. He mustnt strike Ferrovius : I'll go into the 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 39 

arena and kill him first. \^He makes a wild dash into the 
passage. As he does so a great clamor is heard from the arena^ 
ending in wild applause. The gladiators listen and look inquir- 
i?igly at one another']. 


LAViNiA [to the Captain] What has happened, do you think ? 

THE CAPTAIN. What Can happen ? They are killing them, 
I suppose. 

ANDROCLES [running in through the passage, screami?!g with 
horror and hiding his eyes] ! ! ! 

LAVINIA. Androcles, Androcles: whats the matter? 

ANDROCLES. Oh dont ask me, dont ask me. Something 
too dreadful. Oh ! [He crouches by her and hides his face in 
her robe, sobbing], 

THE CALL BOY [rushing through from the passage as before] 
Ropes and hooks there ! Ropes and hooks ! 

THE EDITOR. Well, need you excite yourself about it? 
[Another burst of applause]. 

Two slaves in Etruscan masks, with ropes and drag hooks, 
hurry in. 

ONE OF THE SLAVES. How many dead ? 

THE CALL BOY. Six. [The slavc blows a whistle twice; and 
four more masked slaves rush through into the arena with the 
same apparatus] And the basket. Bring the baskets [The 
slave whistles three times, and runs through the passage with 
his companion], 

THE CAPTAIN. Who are the baskets for? 

THE CALL BOY. For the whip. Hes in pieces. Theyre all 
in pieces, more or less. [Lavinia hides her face]. 

Two more masked slaves come in zvith a basket and follow 
the others into the arena, as the Call Boy turns to the gladiators 
and exclaitns, exhausted] Boys: he's killed the lot. 

THE EMPEROR [again bursting from his box, this time in an 
ecstasy of delight] Where is he ? Magnificent ! He shall have 
a laurel crown. 

Ferrovius, madly waving his bloodstained sword, rushes 
through the passage in despair, followed by his co-religionists. 

40 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

and hy the menagerie keeper, who gees to the gladiators. The 
gladiators draw their swords nervouslf\. 

FERROvius. Lost ! lost for cvcr ! I have betrayed my 
Master. Cut ofF this right hand : it has offended. Ye have 
swords, my brethren : strike. 

LAViNiA. No, no. What have you done, Ferrovius? 

FERROVIUS. I know not; but there was blood behind 
my eyes ; and theres blood on my sword. What does that 
mean ? 

THE EMPEROR \_enthusiastically, on the landing outside his box\ 
What does it mean ? It means that you are the greatest 
man in Rome. It means that you shall have a laurel crown 
of gold. Superb fighter : I could almost yield you my 
throne. It is a record for my reign : I shall live in history. 
Once, in Domitian's time, a Gaul slew three men in the 
arena and gained his freedom. But when before has one 
naked man slain six armed men of the bravest and best? 
The persecution shall cease : if Christians can fight like 
this, I shall have none but Christians to fight for me. [To 
the Gladiators'\ You are ordered to become Christians, you 
th^re : do you hear ? 

RETiARius. It is all one to us, Caesar. Had I been there 
with my net, the story would have been different. 

THE CAPTAIN \_suddenly seizing Lavinia by the wrist and 
dragging her up the steps to the Emperor] Caesar : this woman 
is the sister of Ferrovius. If she is thrown to the lions he 
will fret. He will lose weight ; get out of condition — 

THE EMPEROR. The Hons .? Nonscuse ! [To Laz'inia] Ma- 
dam : I am proud to have the honor of making your 
acquaintance. Your brother is the glory of Rome. 

LAVINIA. But my friends here. Must they die."" 

THE EMPEROR. Die ! CcTtainly not. There has never 
been the slightest idea of harming them. Ladies and gentle- 
men : you are all free. Pray go into the front of the house 
and enjoy the spectacle to which your brother has so 
splendidly contributed. Captain : oblige me by conducting 
them to the seats reserved for my personal friends. 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 41 

THE MENAGERIE KEEPER. Cacsar : I must havc OHC Christian 
for the lion. The people have been promised it; and thej 
will tear the decorations to bits if they are disappointed. 

THE EMPEROR. True, true : we must have somebody for 
the new lion. 

FERRovius. Throw me to hira. Let the apostate perish. 

THE EMPEROR. No, no : you would tear him in pieces, 
my friend ; and we cannot afford to throw away lions as 
if they were mere slaves. But we must have somebody. 
This is really extremely awkward. 

THE MENAGERIE KEEPER. Why not that little Greek chap ? 
Has not a Christian : hes a sorcerer. 

THE EMPEROR. The Very thing : he will do very well. 

THE CALL BOY \_issui?ig from the passage'] Number twelve. 
The Christian for the new lion. 

ANDROCLES [rising, and pulling himself sadly together] Well, 
it was to be, after all. 

LAViNiA. I'll go in his place, Caesar. Ask the Captain 
whether they do not like best to see a woman torn to pieces. 
He told me so yesterday. 

THE EMPEROR. There is something in that : there is 
certainly something in that — if only I could feel sure that 
your brother would not fret. 

ANDROCLES. No : I should never have another happy hour. 
No : on the faith of a Christian and the honor of a tailor, 
I accept the lot that has fallen on me. \i my wife turns 
up, give her my love and say that my wish was that she 
should be happy with her next, poor fellow ! Caesar : go 
to your box and see how a tailor can die. Make way for 
number twelve there. [He marches out along the passage]. 

The vast audience in the amphitheatre now sees the Emperor 
re-enter his box and take his place as Jndrocles, desperately 
frightened, hut still marching with piteous devotion, emerges 
from the other end of the passage, and finds himself at the focus 
of thousands of eager eyes. The lio?i's cage, with a heavy port- 
cullis grating, is on his left. The Emperor gives a signal. A 
gong sounds. Androcles shivers at the sound; then falls on his 

42 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

Jinecs and pray. The grating rises zcith a clash. The lion 
boundi into the arena. He rushes round frisking in his freedom. 
He sees Androcles. He stops ; rises stiffly by straightening his 
legs; stretches out his nose forward and his tail in a horizontal 
line behind, like a pointer, and utters an appalling roar. Androcles 
crouches and hides his face in his hands. The lion gathers him- 
self for a spring, swishing his tail to and fro through the 
dust in an ecstasy of anticipation. Androcles throws up his 
hands in supplication to heaven. The lion checks at the sight of 
Androcles' s face. He then steals towards him; smells him ; arches 
his back; purrs like a motor car; finally rubs himself against 
Androcles, knocking him over. Androcles, supporting himself 
on his wrist, looks affrightedly at the lion. The lion limps on 
three paws, holding up the other as if it was wounded. A fash 
of recognition lights up the face of Androcles. He flaps his hand 
as if it had a thorn in it, and pretends to pull the thorn out and 
to hurt himself. The lion nods repeatedly. Androcles holds out 
his hands to the lion, who gives him both paws, zvhich he shakes 
with enthusiasm. They embrace rapturously, finally waltz round 
the arena amid a sudden burst of deafening applause, and out 
through the passage, the Emperor watching them in breathless 
astonishment until they disappear, when he rushes from his box 
and descends the steps in frantic excitement. 

THE EMPEROR. My ffiends, an incredible! an amazing 
thing ! has happened. I can no longer doubt the truth of 
Christianity. \The Christians press to him joyfully\ This 
Christian sorcerer — \with a yell, he breaks off as he sees 
Androcles and the lion emerge from the passage, waltzing. He 
bolts wildly up the steps into his box, and slams the door. All, 
Christians and gladiators alike, fiy for their lives, the gladiators 
bolting into the arena, the others in all directions. The place is 
emptied with magical suddenness^. 

ANDROCLES [^na'ively'\ Now I wonder why they all run 
away from us like that. [The lion, combining a series of yawns, 
purrs, and roars, achieves something very like a laugh"]. 

THE EMPEROR [standing on a chair inside his box and looking 
over the wall] Sorcerer : I command you to put that lion to 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 43 

death instantly. It is guilty of high treason. Your conduct 
is most disgra — [the lion charges at him up the stairs] help ! 
[He disappears. The lion rears against the box ; looks over the 
partition at him; and roars. The Emperor darts out through 
the door and down to Androcles, pursued by the lion]. 

ANDROCLES. Dont run away, sir : he cant help springing 
if you run. [He seizes the Emperor and gets between him and 
the lion, who stops at once]. Dont be afraid of him. 

THE EMPEROR. I am not afraid of him. [The lion crouches, 
growling. The Emperor clutches Androcles], Keep between us. 

ANDROCLES. Ncvcr bc afraid of animals, your worship : 
thats the great secret. He'll be as gentle as a lamb when 
he knows that you are his friend. Stand quite still ; and 
smile ; and let him smell you all over just to reassure him ; 
for, you see, hes afraid of you ; and he must examine you 
thoroughly before he gives you his confidence. [To the lion] 
Come now, Tommy ; and speak nicely to the Emperor, 
the great good Emperor who has power to have all our 
heads cut off if we dont behave very very respectfully to 

The lion utters a fearful roar. The Emperor dashes madly up 
the steps, across the landing, and down again on the other side, 
with the lion in hot pursuit. Androcles rushes after the lion ; 
overtakes him as he is descending; and throws himself on his 
back, trying to use his toes as a brake. Before he can stop him 
the lion gets hold of the trailing end of the Emperor's robe. 

ANDROCLES. Oh bad wicked Tommy, to chase the Emperor 
like that! Let go the Emperor's robe at once, sir: wheres 
your manners ? ]frhe lion growls and worries the robe]. Dont 
pull it away from him, your worship. Hes only playing. 
Now I shall be really angry with you, Tommy, if you dont 
let go. [The lion growls again]. I'll tell you what it is, sir: 
he thinks you and I are not friends. 

THE EMPEROR [trying to undo the clasp of his brooch] Friends ! 
You infernal scoundrel [the lion growls] — dont let him go. 
Curse this brooch ! I cant get it loose. 

ANDROCLES. We mustnt let him lash himself into a rage. 

44 Androcles and the Lion Act ii 

You must shew him that you are my particular friend — if 
you will have the condescension. [He seizes the Emperor's 
hatids and shahs them cordially\ Look, Tommy : the nice 
Emperor is the dearest friend Andy Wandy has in the whole 
world: he loves him like a brother. 

THE EMPEROR. You little brutc, you damned filthy little 
dog of a Greek tailor : I'll have you burnt alive for daring 
to touch the divine person of the Emperor. \The lio7i growls\ 

ANDROCLES. Oh dont talk like that, sir. He understands 
every word you say : all animals do : they take it from the 
tone of your voice. [The lion growls and lashes his tail\ I 
think hes going to spring at your worship. If you wouldnt 
mind saying something affectionate. [The lion roars], 

THE EMPEROR [shaking Androcles^ hands frantically] My 
dearest Mr. Androcles, my sweetest friend, my long lost 
brother, come to my arms. [He embraces Androcles\ Oh, 
what an abominable smell of garlic ! 

The lion lets go the robe and rolls over on his back, clasping 
his forepaws over one another coquettishly above his nose. 

ANDROCLES. There ! You see, your worship, a child might 
play with him now. See ! [He tickles the liori's belly. The 
lion wriggles ecstatically]. Come and pet him. 

THE EMPEROR. I must conqucr these unkingly terrors. 
Mind you dont go away from him, though. [He pats the 
lion's chest], 

ANDROCLES. Oh, sir, how It^^ men would have the courage 
to do that! 

THE EMPEROR. Ycs : it takcs a bit of nerve. Let us have 
the Court in and frighten them. Is he safe, do you think ? 

ANDROCLES. Quitc safc now, sir. 

THE EMPEROR [majestically] What ho, there! All who are 
within hearing, return without fear. Caesar has tamed the 
lion. [All the fugitives steal cautiously in. The menagerie 
keeper comes from the passage with other keepers armed with iron 
bars and tridents]. Take those things away. I have subdued 
the beast. [He places kis foot on it], 

FERRovius [timidly approaching the Emperor and looking down 

Act II Androcles and the Lion 45 

zvith awe on the I'lori] It is strange that I, who fear no man, 
should fear a lion. 

THE CAPTAIN. Evcry man fears something, Ferrovius. 

THE EMPEROR. How about the Pretorian Guard now? 

FERROVIUS. In my youth I worshipped Mars, the God of 
War. I turned from him to serve the Christian god ; but 
today the Christian god forsook me ; and Mars overcame 
me and took back his own. The Christian god is not yet. 
He will come when Mars and I are dust ; but meanwhile 
I must serve the gods that are, not the God that will be. 
Until then I accept service in the Guard, Caesar. 

THE EMPEROR. Very wisely said. All really sensible men 
agree that the prudent course is to be neither bigoted in 
our attachment to the old nor rash and unpractical in 
keeping an open mind for the new, but to make the best 
of both dispensations. 

THE CAPTAIN. What do you say, Lavinia? Will you too 
be prudent ? 

LAVINIA \on the stairs] No : I'll strive for the coming of 
the God who is not yet. 

THE CAPTAIN. May I come and argue with you occasion- 

LAVINIA. Yes, handsome Captain : you may. [He kisses her 

THE EMPEROR. And now, my friends, though I do not, as 
you see, fear this lion, yet the strain of his presence is con- 
siderable; for none of us can feel quite sure what he will 
do next. 

THE MENAGERIE KEEPER. Caesar : give us this Greek sor- 
cerer to be a slave in the menagerie. He has a way with 
the beasts. 

ANDROCLES [dtstresscd] Not if they are in cages. They 
should not be kept in cages. They must be all let out. 

THE EMPEROR. I givc this sorccrcr to be a slave to the 
first man who lays hands on him. [The menagerie keepers 
and the gladiators rush for Androcles. The lion starts up and 
faces them. They surge hack]. You see how magnanimous 

±6 Androcles and the Lion Act II 

we Romans are, Androcles. We suffer you to go in 

ANDROCLES. I thank your worship. I thank you all, ladies 
and gentlemen. Come, Tommy. Whilst we stand together, 
no cage for you : no slavery for me. [He goes out with the 
lion, everybody crowding away to give him as wide a berth as 

* -* -i^ * * * 

In this play I have represented one of the Roman per- 
secutions of the early Christians, not as the conflict of a 
false theology with a true, but as what all such persecutions 
essentially are: an attempt to suppress a propaganda that 
seemed to threaten the interests involved in the established 
law and order, organized and maintained in the name of 
religion and justice by politicians who are pure oppor- 
tunist Have-and-Holders. People who are shewn by their 
inner light the possibility of a better world based on the 
demand of the spirit for a nobler and more abundant life, 
not for themselves at the expense of others, but for every- 
body, are naturally dreaded and therefore hated by the 
Have-and-Holders, who keep always in reserve two sure 
weapons against them. The first is a persecution effected 
by the provocation, organization, and arming of that herd 
instinct which makes men abhor all departures from 
custom, and, by the most cruel punishments and the 
wildest calumnies, force eccentric people to behave and 
profess exactly as other people do. The second is by 
leading the herd to war, which immediately and infallibly 
makes them forget everything, even their most cherished 
and hardwon public liberties and private interests, in the 
irresistible surge of their pugnacity and the tense pre- 
occupation of their terror. 

There is no reason to believe that there was anything 
more in the Roman persecutions than this. The attitude 
of the Roman Emperor and the officers of his staff towards 
the opinions at issue were much the same as those of a 

Androcles and the Lion 47 

modern British Home Secretary towards members of the 
lower middle classes when some pious policeman charges 
them with Bad Taste, technically called blasphemy : Bad 
Taste being a violation of Good Taste, which in such 
matters practically means Hypocrisy. The Home Secretary 
and the judges who try the case are usually far more scepti- 
cal and blasphemous than the poor men whom they per- 
secute ; and their professions of horror at the blunt utter- 
ance of their own opinions are revolting to those behind 
the scenes who have any genuine religious sensibility; but 
the thing is done because the governing classes, provided 
only the law against blasphemy is not applied to them- 
selves, strongly approve of such persecution because it en- 
ables them to represent their own privileges as part of the 
religion of the country. 

Therefore my martyrs are the martyrs of all time, and 
my persecutors the persecutors of all time. My Emperor, 
who has no sense of the value of common people's lives, 
and amuses himself with killing as carelessly as with sparing, 
is the sort of monster you can make of any silly-clever 
gentleman by idolizing him. We are still so easily imposed 
on by such idols that one of the leading pastors of the Free 
Churches in London denounced my play on the ground that 
my persecuting Emperor is a very fine fellow, and the per- 
secuted Christians ridiculous. From which I conclude that 
a popular pulpit may be as perilous to a man's soul as an 
imperial throne. 

All my articulate Christians, the reader will notice, have 
different enthusiasms, which they accept as the same re- 
ligion only because it involves them in a common opposi- 
tion to the official religion and consequently in a common 
doom. Androcles is a humanitarian naturalist, whose views 
surprise everybody. Lavinia, a clever and fearless free- 
thinker, shocks the Pauline Ferrovius, who is comparatively 
stupid and conscience ridden. Spintho, the blackguardly 
debauchee, is presented as one of the typical Christians of 
that period on the authority of St Augustine, who seems 

48 Androcles and the Lion 

to have come to the conclusion at one period of his de- 
velopment that most Christians were what we call wrong 
uns. No doubt he was to some extent right: I have had 
occasion often to point out that revolutionary movements 
attract those who are not good enough for established 
institutions as well as those who are too good for them. 

But the most striking aspect of the play at this moment 
is the terrible topicality given it by the war. We were at 
peace when I pointed out, by the mouth of Ferrovius, the 
path of an honest man who finds out, when the trumpet 
sounds, that he cannot follow Jesus. Many years earlier, 
in The Devil's Disciple, I touched the same theme even 
more definitely, and shewed the minister throwing off his 
black coat for ever when he discovered, amid the thunder 
of the captains and the shouting, that he was a born fighter. 
Great numbers of our clergy have found themselves of late 
in the position of Ferrovius and Anthony Anderson. They 
have discovered that they hate not only their enemies but 
everyone who does not share their hatred, and that they 
want to fight and to force other people to fight. They 
have turned their churches into recruiting stations and their 
vestries into munition workshops. But it has never occurred 
to them to take off their black coats and say quite simply, 
" I find in the hour of trial that the Sermon on the Mount 
is tosh, and that I am not a Christian. I apologize for all 
the unpatriotic nonsense I have been preaching all these 
years. Have the goodness to give me a revolver and a com- 
mission in a regiment which has for its chaplain a priest of 
the god Mars : my God." Not a bit of it. They have stuck 
to their livings and served Mars in the name of Christ, to 
the scandal of all religious mankind. When the Archbishop 
of York behaved like a gentleman and the Head Master of 
Eton preached a Christian sermon, and were reviled by 
the rabble, the Martian parsons encouraged the rabble. 
For this they made no apologies or excuses, good or bad. 
They simply indulged their passions, just as they had 
always indulged their class prejudices and commercial 

Androcles and the Lion 49 

interests, without troubling themselves for a moment as 
to whether they were Christians or not. They did not 
protest even when a body calling itself the Anti-German 
League (not having noticed, apparently, that it had been 
anticipated by the British Empire, the French Republic, 
and the Kingdoms of Italy, Japan, and Serbia) actually suc- 
ceeded in closing a church at Forest Hill in which God 
was worshipped in the German language. One would have 
supposed that this grotesque outrage on the commonest 
decencies of religion would have provoked a remonstrance 
from even the worldliest bench of bishops. But no : apparently 
it seemed to the bishops as natural that the House of God 
should be looted when He allowed German to be spoken 
in it as that a baker's shop with a German name over the 
door should be pillaged. Their verdict was, in effect, 
"Serve God right, for creating the Germans!" The in- 
cident would have been impossible in a country where the 
Church was as powerful as the Church of England, had it 
had at the same time a spark of catholic as distinguished 
from tribal religion in it. As it is, the thing occurred; and 
as far as I have observed, the only people who gasped were 
the Freethinkers. 

Thus we see that even among men who make a profes- 
sion of religion the great majority are as Martian as the 
majority of their congregations. The average clergyman is 
an official who makes his living by christening babies, marry- 
ing adults, conducting a ritual, and making the best he can 
(when he has any conscience about it) of a certain routine 
of school superintendence, district visiting, and organiza- 
tion of almsgiving, which does not necessarily touch Christi- 
anity at any point except the point of the tongue. The 
exceptional or religious clergyman may be an ardent 
Pauline Salvationist, in which case his more cultivated 
parishioners dislike him, and say that he ought to have 
joined the Methodists. Or he may be an artist expressing 
religious emotion without intellectual definition by means 
of poetry, music, vestments, and architecture, also pro- 


50 Androcles and the Lion 

ducing religious ecstasy by physical expedients, such as fasts 
and vigils, in which case he is denounced as a Ritualist. 
Or he may be either a Unitarian Deist like Voltaire or Tom 
Paine, or the more modern sort of Anglican Theosophist to 
whom the Holy Ghost is the Elan Vital of Bergson, and the 
Father and Son are an expression of the fact that our functions 
and aspectsare manifold, and that we are all sonsand all either 
potential or actual parents, in which case he is strongly sus- 
pected by the straiter Salvationists of being little better than 
anAtheist. All thesevarieties, yousee, excite remark. They 
may be very popular with their congregations ; but they are 
regarded by the average man as the freaks of the Church. 
The Church, like the society of which it is an organ, is 
balanced and steadied by the great central Philistine mass 
above whom theology looms as a highly spoken of and 
doubtless most important thing, like Greek Tragedy, or 
classical music, or the higher mathematics, but who are 
very glad when church is over and they can go home to 
lunch or dinner, having in fact, for all practical purposes, 
no reasoned convictions at all, and being equally ready to 
persecute a poor Freethinker for saying that St James was 
not infallible, and to send one of the Peculiar People to 
prison for being so very peculiar as to take St James 

In short, a Christian martyr was thrown to the lions not 
because he was a Christian, but because he was a crank : 
that is, an unusual sort of person. And multitudes of people, 
quite as civilized and amiable as we, crowded to see the 
lions eat him just as they now crowd the lion-house in the 
Zoo at feeding-time, not because they really cared two- 
pence about Diana or Christ, or could have given you any 
intelligent or correct account of the things Diana and Christ 
stood against one another for, but simply because they 
wanted to see a curious and exciting spectacle. You, dear 
reader, have probably run to see a fire ; and if somebody 
came in now and told you that a lion was chasing a man 
down the street you would rush to the window. And if 

Androcles and the Lion 51 

anyone were to say that you were as cruel as the people 
who let the lion loose on the man, you would be justly 
indignant. Now that we may no longer see a man hanged, 
we assemble outside the jail to see the black flag run up. 
That is our duller method of enjoying ourselves in the old 
Roman spirit. And if the Government decided to throw 
persons of unpopular or eccentric views to the lions in the 
Albert Hall or the Earl's Court stadium tomorrow, can you 
doubt that all the seats would be crarnmed, mostly by 
people who could not give you the most superficial account 
of the views in question. Much less unlikely things have 
happened. It is true that if such a revival does take place 
soon, the martyrs will not be members of heretical religious 
sects : they will be Peculiars, Anti-Vivisectionists, Flat-Earth 
men, scoffers at the laboratories, or infidels who refuse to 
kneel down when a procession of doctors goes by. But the 
lions will hurt them just as much, and the spectators will 
enjoy themselves just as much, as the Roman lions and 
spectators used to do. 

It was currently reported in the Berlin newspapers that 
when Androcles was first performed in Berlin, the Crown 
Prince rose and left the house, unable to endure the (I 
hope) very clear and fair exposition of autocratic Im- 
perialism given by the Roman captain to his Christian 
prisoners. No English Imperialist was intelligent and 
earnest enough to do the same in London. If the report 
is correct, I confirm the logic of the Crown Prince, and am 
glad to find myself so well understood. But I can assure 
him that the Empire which served for my model when I 
wrote Androcles was, as he is now finding to his cost, 
much nearer my home than the German one. 





The Alleviations of Monogamy. 

This piece is not an argument for or against polygamy. 
It is a clinical study of how the thing actually occurs 
among quite ordinary people, innocent of all unconven- 
tional views concerning it. The enormous majority of cases 
in real life are those of people in that position. Those who 
deliberately and conscientiously profess what are oddly 
called advanced views by those others who believe them to 
be retrograde, are often, and indeed mostly, the last people 
in the world to engage in unconventional adventures of any 
kind, not only because they have neither time nor disposi- 
tion for them, but because the friction set up between the 
individual and the community by the expression of unusual 
views of any sort is quite enough hindrance to the heretic 
without being complicated by personal scandals. Thus the 
theoretic libertine is usually a person of blameless family 
life, whilst the practical libertine is mercilessly severe on 
all other libertines, and excessively conventional in pro- 
fessions of social principle. 

What is more, these professions are not hypocritical : 
they are for the most part quite sincere. The common 
libertine, like the drunkard, succumbs to a temptation 
which he does not defend, and against which he warns 
others with an earnestness proportionate to the intensity of 
his own remorse. He (or she) may be a liar and a humbug, 


56 Preface to Overruled 

pretending to be better than the detected libertines, and 
clamoring for their condign punishment ; but this is mere 
self-defence. No reasonable person expects the burglar to 
confess his pursuits, or to refrain from joining in the cry 
of Stop Thief when the police get on the track of another 
burglar. If society chooses to penalize candor, it has itself 
to thank if its attack is countered by falsehood. The 
clamorous virtue of the libertine is therefore no more hypo- 
critical than the plea of Not Guilty which is allowed to 
every criminal. But one result is that the theorists who 
write most sincerely and favorably about polygamy know 
least about it ; and the practitioners who know most about 
it keep their knowledge very jealously to themselves. Which 
is hardly fair to the practice. 

Inaccessibility of the Facts. 

Also, it is impossible to estimate its prevalence. A 
practice to which nobody confesses may be both universal 
and unsuspected, just as a virtue which everybody is 
expected, under heavy penalties, to claim, may have no 
existence. It is often assumed — indeed it is the official 
assumption of the Churches and the divorce courts — that a 
gentleman and a lady cannot be alone together innocently. 
And that is manifest blazing nonsense, though many women 
have been stoned to death in the east, and divorced in the 
west, on the strength of it. On the other hand, the inno- 
cent and conventional people who regard gallant adventures 
as crimes of so horrible a nature that only the most depraved 
and desperate characters engage in them or would listen to 
advances in that direction without raising an alarm with 
the noisiest indignation, are clearly examples of the fact 
that most sections of society do not know how the other 
sections live. Industry is the most effective check on gal- 
lantry. Women may, as Napoleon said, be the occupatioa 
of the idle man just as men are the preoccupation of the 
idle woman ; but the mass of mankind is too busy and too 

Preface to Overruled ^'j 

poor for the long and expensive sieges which the professed 
libertine lays to virtue. Still, wherever there is idleness 
or even a reasonable supply of elegant leisure there is a 
good deal of coquetry and philandering. It is so much 
pleasanter to dance on the edge of a precipice than to go 
over it that leisured society is full of people who spend a 
great part of their lives in flirtation, and conceal nothing 
but the humiliating secret that they have never gone any 
further. For there is no pleasing people in the matter oi 
reputation in this department : every insult is a flattery : 
every testimonial is a disparagement : Joseph is despised and 
promoted, Potiphar's wife admired and condemned : in 
short, you are never on solid ground until you get away 
from the subject altogether. There is a continual and irre- 
concilable conflict between the natural and conventional 
sides of the case, between spontaneous human relations 
between independent men and women on the one hand 
and the property relation between husband and wife on the 
other, not to mention the confusion under the common 
name of love of a generous natural attraction and interest 
with the murderous jealousy that fastens on and clings to 
its mate (especially a hated mate) as a tiger fastens on a 
carcase. And the confusion is natural ; for these extremes 
are extremes of the same passion ; and most cases lie some- 
where on the scale between them, and are so complicated 
by ordinary likes and dislikes, by incidental wounds to vanity 
or gratifications of it, and by class feeling, that A will be 
jealous of B and not of C, and will tolerate infidelities on 
the part of D whilst being furiously angry when they arc 
committed by E. 

The Convention of Jealousy. 

That jealousy is independent of sex is shewn by its 
intensity in children, and by the fact that very jealous 
people are jealous of everybody without regard to relation- 
ship or sex,and cannot bear to hear the person they "love" 


Preface to Overruled 

speak favorably of anyone under any circumstances (many 
women, for instance, are much more jealous of their 
husbands' mothers and sisters than of unrelated women 
whom they suspect him of fancying) ; but it is seldom pos- 
sible to disentangle the two passions in practice. Besides, 
jealousy is an inculcated passion, forced by society on 
people in whom it would not occur spontaneously. In 
Brieux's Bourgeois aux Champs, the benevolent hero finds 
himself detested by the neighboring peasants and farmers, 
not because he preserves game, and sets mantraps for 
poachers, and defends his legal rights over his land to the 
extremest point of unsocial savagery, but because, being an 
amiable and public -spirited person, he refuses to do all 
this, and thereby offends and disparages the sense of 
property in his neighbors. The same thing is true of matri- 
monial jealousy: the man who does not at least pretend to 
feel it, and behave as badly as if he really felt it, is despised 
and insulted ; and many a man has shot or stabbed a friend 
or been shot or stabbed by him in a duel, or disgraced himself 
and ruined his own wife in a divorce scandal, against his 
conscience, against his instinct, and to the destruction of 
his home, solely because Society conspired to drive him to 
keep its own lower morality in countenance in this miserable 
and undignified manner. 

Morality is confused in such matters. In an elegant pluto- 
cracy, a jealous husband is regarded as a boor. Among the 
tradesmen who supply that plutocracy with its meals, a 
husband who is not jealous, and refrains from assailing his 
rival with his fists, is regarded as a ridiculous, contemptible, 
and cowardly cuckold. And the laboring class is divided 
into the respectable section which takes the tradesman's 
view, and the disreputable section which enjoys the license 
of the plutocracy without its money: creeping below the law 
as its exemplars prance above it ; cutting down all expenses 
of respectability and even decency; and frankly accept- 
ing squalor and disrepute as the price of anarchic self- 
indulgence. The conflict between Malvolio and Sir Toby, 

Preface to Overruled 59 

between the marquis and the bourgeois, the cavalier and 
the puritan, the ascetic and the voluptuary, goes on con- 
tinually, and goes on not only between class and class and 
individual and individual, but in the selfsame breast in a 
series of reactions and revulsions in which the irresistible 
becomes the unbearable, and the unbearable the irresistible, 
until none of us can say what our characters really are in 
this respect. 

The Missing Data of a Scientific Natural 
History of Marriage. 

Of one thing I am persuaded : we shall never attain to 
a reasonably healthy public opinion on sex questions until 
we offer, as the data for that opinion, our actual conduct 
and our real thoughts instead of a moral fiction which 
we agree to call virtuous conduct, and which we then — 
and here comes in the mischief — pretend is our conduct 
and our thoughts. If the result were that we all believed 
one another to be better than we really are, there would be 
something to be said for it; but the actual result appears to 
be a monstrous exaggeration of the power and continuity of 
sexual passion. The whole world shares the fate of Lucrezia 
Borgia, who, though she seems on investigation to have been 
quite a suitable wife for a modern British Bishop, has been 
invested by the popular historical imagination with all the 
extravagances of a Messalina or a Cenci. Writers of belles 
lettres who are rash enough to admit that their whole life 
is not one constant preoccupation with adored members of 
the opposite sex, and who even countenance La Rochefou- 
cauld's remark that very few people would ever imagine 
themselves in love if they had never read anything about 
it, are gravely declared to be abnormal or physically defec- 
tive by critics of crushing unadventurousness and domesti- 
cation. French authors of saintly temperament are forced 
to include in their retinue countesses of ardent complexion 

6o Preface to Overruled 

with whom they are supposed to live in sin. Sentimental 
controversies on the subject are endless ; but they are use- 
less, because nobody tells the truth. Rousseau did it by an 
extraordinary effort, aided by a superhuman faculty for 
human natural history; but the result was curiously discon- 
certing because, though the facts were so conventionally 
shocking that people felt that they ought to matter a great 
deal, they actually mattered very little. And even at that 
everybody pretends not to believe him. 

Artificial Retribution. 

The worst of that is that busybodies with perhaps rather 
more than a normal taste for mischief are continually try- 
ing to make negligible things matter as much in fact as 
they do in convention by deliberately inflicting injuries 
— sometimes atrocious injuries — on the parties concerned. 
Few people have any knowledge of the savage punishments 
that are legally inflicted for aberrations and absurdities to 
which no sanely instructed community would call any atten- 
tion. We create an artificial morality, and consequently an 
artificial conscience, by manufacturing disastrous conse- 
quences for events which, left to themselves, would do very 
little harm (sometimes not any) and be forgotten in a few 

But the artificial morality is not therefore to be con- 
demned offhand. In many cases it may save mischief 
instead of making it : for example, though the hanging of 
a murderer is the duplication of a murder, yet it may be 
less murderous than leaving the matter to be settled by 
blood feud or vendetta. As long as human nature insists 
on revenge, the official organization and satisfaction of 
revenge by the State may be also its minimization. The 
mischief begins when the official revenge persists after the 
passion it satisfies has died out of the race. Stoning a 
woman to death in the east because she has ventured to 
marry again after being deserted by her husband may be 

Preface to Overruled 6i 

more merciful than allowing her to be mobbed to death ; 
but the official stoning or burning of an adulteress in the 
west would be an atrocity, because few of us hate an 
adulteress to the extent of desiring such a penalty, or of 
being prepared to take the law into our own hands if it 
were withheld. Now what applies to this extreme case 
applies also in due degree to the other cases. Offences in 
which sex is concerned are often needlessly magniiied by 
penalties, ranging from various forms of social ostracism to 
long sentences of penal servitude, which would be seen to 
be monstrously disproportionate to the real feeling against 
them if the removal of both the penalties and the taboo 
on their discussion made it possible for us to ascertain their 
real prevalence and estimation. Fortunately there is one 
outlet for the truth. We are permitted to discuss in jest 
what we may not discuss in earnest. A serious comedy 
about sex is taboo : a farcical comedy is privileged. 

The Favorite Subject of Farcical Comedy. 

The little piece which follows this preface accordingly 
takes the form of a farcical comedy, because it is a con- 
tribution to the very extensive dramatic literature which 
takes as its special department the gallantries of married 
people. The stage has been preoccupied by such affairs 
for centuries, not only in the jesting vein of Restoration 
Comedy and Palais Royal farce, but in the more tragically 
turned adulteries of the Parisian school which dominated 
the stage until Ibsen put them out of countenance and rele- 
gated them to their proper place as articles of commerce. 
Their continued vogue in that department maintains the 
tradition that adultery is the dramatic subject par excel- 
lence, and indeed that a play that is not about adultery is 
not a play at all. I was considered a heresiarch of the 
most extravagant kind when I expressed my opinion, at 
the outset of my career as a playwright, that adultery is 
the dullest of themes on the stage, and that from Francesca 

62 Preface to Overruled 

and Paolo down to the latest guilty couple of the school of 
Dumas^ls, the romantic adulterers have all been intolerable 

The Pseudo Sex Play. 

Later on, I had occasion to point out to the defenders 
of sex as the proper theme of drama, that though they 
were right in ranking sex as an intensely interesting sub- 
ject, they were wrong in assuming that sex is an indis- 
pensable motive in popular plays. The plays of Moliere 
are, like the novels of the Victorian epoch or Don Quixote, 
as nearly sexless as anything not absolutely inhuman can 
be; and some of Shakespear's plays are sexually on a par 
with the census : they contain women as well as men, and 
that is all. This had to be admitted ; but it was still 
assumed that the plays of the XIX century Parisian school 
are, in contrast with the sexless masterpieces, saturated 
with sex ; and this I strenuously denied. A play about 
the convention that a man should fight a duel or come to 
fisticuffs with his wife's lover if she has one, or the con- 
vention that he should strangle her like Othello, or turn 
her out of the house and never see her or allow her to see 
her children again, or the convention that she should never 
be spoken to again by any decent person and should finally 
drown herself, or the convention that persons involved in 
scenes of recrimination or confession by these conventions 
should call each other certain abusive names and describe 
their conduct as guilty and frail and so on : all these may 
provide material for very elTective plays ; but such plays 
are not dramatic studies of sex : one might as well say that 
Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic study of pharmacy because 
the catastrophe is brought about through an apothecary. 
Duels are not sex ; divorce cases are not sex ; the Trade 
Unionism of married women is not sex. Only the most 
insignificant fraction of the gallantries of married people 
produce any of the conventional results; and plays occu- 
pied wholly with the conventional results are therefore 


Preface to Overruled 63 

utterly unsatisfying as sex plays, however interesting they 
may be as plays of intrigue and plot puzzles. 

The world is finding this out rapidly. The Sunday papers, 
which in the days when they appealed almost exclusively 
to the lower middle class were crammed with police 
intelligence, and more especially with divorce and murder 
cases, now lay no stress on them ; and police papers which 
confined themselves entirely to such matters, and were once 
eagerly read, have perished through the essential dulness of 
their topics. And yet the interest in sex is stronger than 
ever: in fact, the literature that has driven out the journalism 
of the divorce courts is a literature occupied with sex to 
an extent and with an intimacy and frankness that would 
have seemed utterly impossible to Thackeray or Dickens 
if they had been told that the change would complete itself 
within fifty years of their own time. 

Art and Morality. 

It is ridiculous to say, as inconsiderate amateurs of the 
arts do, that art has nothing to do with morality. What is 
true is that the artist's business is not that of the police- 
man ; and that such factitious consequences and put-up 
jobs as divorces and executions and the detective operations 
that lead up to them are no essential part of life, though, 
like poisons and buttered slides and red-hot pokers, they 
provide material for plenty or thrilling or amusing stories 
suited to people who are incapable of any interest in psy- 
chology. But the fine artist must keep the policeman out 
of his studies of sex and studies of crime. It is by clinging 
nervously to the policeman that most of the pseudo sex 
plays convince me that the writers have either never had 
any serious personal experience of their ostensible subject, 
or else have never conceived it possible that the stage dare 
present the phenomena of sex as they appear in nature. 


Preface to Overruled 

The Limits of Stage Presentation. 

But the stage presents much more shocking phenomena 
than those of sex. There is, of course, a sense in which 
you cannot present sex on the stage, just as you cannot 
present murder. Macbeth must no more really kill Duncan 
than he must himself be really slain by MacdufF. But the 
feelings of a murderer can be expressed in a certain artistic 
convention ; and a carefully prearranged sword exercise 
can be gone through with sufficient pretence of earnest- 
ness to be accepted by the willing imaginations of the 
younger spectators as a desperate combat. 

The tragedy of love has been presented on the stage in 
the same way. In Tristan and Isolde, the curtain does 
not, as in Romeo and Juliet, rise with the lark : the whole 
night of love is played before the spectators. The lovers 
do not discuss marriage in an elegantly sentimental way : 
they utter the visions and feelings that come to lovers at 
the supreme moments of their love, totally forgetting that 
there are such things in the world as husbands and lawyers 
and duelling codes and theories of sin and notions of pro- 
priety and all the other irrelevancies which provide hack- 
neyed and bloodless material for our so-called plays of 

Pruderies of the French Stage. 

To all stage presentations there are limits. If MacdufF 
were to stab Macbeth, the spectacle would be intolerable; 
and even the pretence which we allow on our stage is 
ridiculously destructive to the illusion of the scene. Yet 
pugilists and gladiators will actually fight and kill in public 
without shame, even as a spectacle for money. But no sober 
couple of lovers of any delicacy could endure to be watched. 
We in England, accustomed to consider the French stage 
much more licentious than the British, are always surprised 

Preface to Overruled 65 

and puzzled when we learn, as we may do any day if we 
come within reach of such information, that French actors 
are often scandalized by what they consider the indecency 
of the English stage, and that French actresses who desire 
a greater license in appealing to the sexual instincts than 
the French stage allows them, learn English and estab- 
lish themselves on the English stage. The German and 
Russian stages are in the same relation to the French 
and, perhaps more or less, all the Latin stages. The reason 
is that, partly from a want of respect for the theatre, 
partly from a sort of respect for art in general which moves 
them to accord moral privileges to artists, partly from the 
very objectionable tradition that the realm of art is Alsatia 
and the contemplation of works of art a holiday from the 
burden of virtue, partly because French prudery does not 
attach itself to the same points of behavior as British prud- 
ery, and has a different code of the mentionable and the 
unmentionable, and for many other reasons, the French 
tolerate plays which are never performed in England until 
they have been spoiled by a process of bowdlerization ; yet 
French taste is more fastidious than ours as to the exhibition 
and treatment on the stage of the physical incidents of sex. 
On the French stage a kiss is as obvious a convention as 
the thrust under the arm by which Macduff runs Macbeth 
through. It is even a purposely unconvincing convention : 
the actors rather insisting that it shall be impossible for 
any spectator to mistake a stage kiss for a real one. In 
England, on the contrary, realism is carried to the point 
at which nobody except the two performers can perceive 
that the caress is not genuine. And here the English stage 
is certainly in the right; for whatever question there arises 
as to what incidents are proper for representation on the 
stage or not, my experience as a playgoer leaves me in no 
doubt that once it is decided to represent an incident, it 
will be offensive, no matter whether it be a prayer or a 
kiss, unless it is presented with a convincing appearance 
of sincerity. 


66 Preface to Overruled 

Our Disillusive Scenery. 

For example, the main objection to the use of illusive 
scenery (in most modern plays scenery is not illusive : 
everything visible is as real as in your drawingroom at home) 
is that it is unconvincing ; whilst the imaginary scenery 
with which the audience provides a platform or tribune 
like the Elizabethan stage or the Greek stage used by 
Sophocles, is quite convincing. In fact, the more scenery 
you have the less illusion you produce. The wise play- 
wright, when he cannot get absolute reality of presentation, 
goes to the other extreme, and aims at atmosphere and 
suggestion of mood rather than at direct simulative illusion. 
The theatre, as I first knew it, was a place of wings and 
flats which destroyed both atmosphere and illusion. This 
was tolerated, and even intensely enjoyed, but not in the 
least because nothing better was possible ; for all the devices 
employed in the productions of Mr Granville Barker or 
Max Reinhardt or the Moscow Art Theatre were equally 
available for Colley Gibber and Garrick, except the in- 
tensity of our artificial light. When Garrick played 
Richard III in slashed trunk hose and plumes, it was not 
because he believed that the Plantagenets dressed like that, 
or because the costumiers could not have made him a XV 
century dress as easily as a nondescript combination of the 
state robes of George III with such scraps of older fashions 
as seemed to playgoers for some reason to be romantic. 
The charm of the theatre in those days was its makebelieve. 
It has that charm still, not only for the amateurs, who are 
happiest when they are most unnatural and impossible and 
absurd, but for audiences as well. I have seen performances 
of my own plays which were to me far wilder burlesques 
than Sheridan's Critic or Buckingham's Rehearsal ; yet 
they have produced sincere laughter and tears such as the 
most finished metropolitan productions have failed to elicit. 
Fielding was entirely right when he represented Partridge 

Preface to Overruled 67 

as enjoying intensely the performance of the king in Hamlet 
because anybody could see that the king was an actor, 
and resenting Garrick's Hamlet because it might have 
been a real man. Yet we have only to look at the portraits 
of Garrick to see that his performances would nowadays 
seem almost as extravagantly stagey as his costumes. In 
our day Calve's intensely real Carmen never pleased the 
mob as much as the obvious fancy ball masquerading of 
suburban young ladies in the same character. 

Holding the Mirror up to Nature. 

Theatrical art begins as the holding up to Nature of a 
distorting mirror. In this phase it pleases people who are 
childish enough to believe that they can see what they look 
like and what they are when they look at a true mirror. 
Naturally they think that a true mirror can teach them 
nothing. Only by giving them back some monstrous image 
can the mirror amuse them or terrify them. It is not until 
they grow up to the point at which they learn that they 
know very little about themselves, and that they do not 
see themselves in a true mirror as other people see them, that 
they become consumed with curiosity as to what they really 
are like, and begin to demand that the stage shall be a 
mirror of such accuracy and intensity of illumination that 
they shall be able to get glimpses of their real selves in it, 
and also learn a little how they appear to other people. 

For audiences of this highly developed class, sex can no 
longer be ignored or conventionalized or distorted by the 
playwright who makes the mirror. The old sentimental 
extravagances and the old grossnesses are of no further 
use to him. Don Giovanni and Zerlina are not gross : 
Tristan and Isolde are not extravagant or sentimental. 
They say and do nothing that you cannot bear to hear 
and see; and yet they give you, the one pair briefly and 
slightly, and the other fully and deeply, what passes in the 
minds of lovers. The love depicted may be that of a philo- 

68 Preface to Overruled 

sophic adventurer tempting an ignorant country girl, or of 
a tragically serious poet entangled with a woman of noble 
capacity in a passion which has become for them the 
reality of the whole universe. No matter : the thing is 
dramatized and dramatized directly, not talked about as 
something that happened before the curtain rose, or that 
will happen after it falls. 

Farcical Comedy Shirking its Subject. 

Now if all this can be done in the key of tragedy and philo- 
sophic comedy, it can, I have always contended, be done in 
the key of farcical comedy; and Overruledis a trifling experi- 
ment in that manner. Conventional farcical comedies are 
always finally tedious because the heart of them, the inevitable 
conjugal infidelity, is always evaded. Even its consequences 
are evaded. Mr Granville Barker has pointed out rightly that 
if the third acts of our farcical comedies dared to describe the 
consequences that would follow from the first and second 
in real life, they would end as squalid tragedies; and in 
my opinion they would be greatly improved thereby even 
as entertainments; for I have never seen a three-act farci- 
cal comedy without being bored and tired by the third act, 
and observing that the rest of the audience were in the 
same condition, though they were not vigilantly intro- 
spective enough to find that out, and were apt to blame 
one another, especially the husbands and wives, for their 
crossness. But it is happily by no means true that conjugal 
infidelities always produce tragic consequences, or that 
they need produce even the unhappincss which they often 
do produce. Besides, the more momentous the conse- 
quences, the more interesting become the impulses and 
imaginations and reasonings, if any, of the people who dis- 
regard them. If I had an opportunity of conversing with 
the ghost of an executed murderer, I have no doubt he 
would begin to tell me eagerly about his trial, with the 
names of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who 

Preface to Overruled 69 

honored him with their presence on that occasion, and 
then about his execution. All of which would bore me 
exceedingly. I should say, "My dear sir: such manu- 
factured ceremonies do not interest me in the least. I 
know how a man is tried, and how he is hanged. I should 
have had you killed in a much less disgusting, hypocritical, 
and unfriendly manner if the matter had been in my hands. 
What I want to know about is the murder. How did you 
feel when you committed it? Why did you do it? What 
did you say to yourself about it? If, like most murderers, 
you had not been hanged, would you have committed other 
murders ? Did you really dislike the victim, or did you 
want his money, or did you murder a person whom you 
did not dislike, and from whose death you had nothing to 
gain, merely for the sake of murdering? If so, can you 
describe the charm to me ? Does it come upon you periodic- 
ally ; or is it chronic ? Has curiosity anything to do with 
it?" I would ply him with all manner of questions to find 
out what murder is really like ; and I should not be satis- 
fied until I had realized that I, too, might commit a murder, 
or else that there is some specific quality present in a mur- 
derer and lacking in me. And, if so, what that quality is. 

In just the same way, I want the unfaithful husband or 
the unfaithful wife in a farcical comedy not to bother me 
with their divorce cases or the stratagems they employ to 
avoid a divorce case, but to tell me how and why married 
couples are unfaithful, I dont want to hear the lies they 
tell one another to conceal what they have done, but the 
truths they tell one another when they have to face what 
they have done without concealment or excuse. No doubt 
prudent and considerate people conceal such adventures, 
when they can, from those who are most likely to be 
wounded by them ; but it is not to be presumed that, when 
found out, they necessarily disgrace themselves by irritating 
lies and transparent subterfuges. 

My playlet, which I offer as a model to all future writers 
of farcical comedy, may now, I hope, be read without 

yo Preface to Overruled 

shock. I may just add that Mr Sibthorpe Juno's view that 
morality demands, not that we should behave morally (an 
impossibility to our sinful nature) but that we shall not 
attempt to defend our immoralities, is a standard view in 
England, and was advanced in all seriousness by an earnest 
and distinguished British moralist shortly after the first 
performance of Overruled. My objection to that aspect of 
the doctrine of original sin is that no necessary and inevitable 
operation of human nature can reasonably be regarded as 
sinful at all, and that a morality which assumes the contrary 
is an absurd morality, and can be kept in countenance only by 
hypocrisy. When people were ashamed of sanitary problems, 
and refused to face them, leaving them to solve themselves 
clandestinely in dirt and secrecy, the solution arrived at was 
the Black Death. A similar policy as to sex problems has 
solved itself by an even worse plague than the Black Death; 
and the remedy for that is not salvarsan, but sound moral 
hygiene, the first foundation of which is the discontinuance 
of our habit of telling not only the comparatively harmless 
lies that we know we ought not to tell, but the ruinous lies 
that we foolishly think we ought to tell. 


A lady and gentleman are sitting together on a chesterfield 
in a retired corner of the lounge of a seaside hotel. It is a sum- 
mer night : the French window behind them stands open. The 
terrace without overlooks a moonlit harbor. The lounge is dark. 
The chesterfield, upholstered in silver grey, and the two figures 
on it in evening dress, catch the light from an arc lamp some- 
where ; but the walls, covered with a dark green paper, are in 
gloom. There are two stray chairs, one on each side. On the 
gentleman's right, behind him up near the window, is an unused 
fireplace. Opposite it on the lady's left is a door. The gentle- 
man is on the lady's right. 

The lady is very attractive, with a musical voice and soft 
appealing manners. She is young: that is, one feels sure that 
she is under thirty-five and over twenty-four. The gentleman 
does not look much older. He is rather handsome, and has 
ventured as far in the direction of poetic dandyism in the 
arrangement of his hair as any man who is not a professional 
artist can afford to in England. He is obviously very much in 
love with the lady, and is, in fact, yielding to an irresistible 
impulse to throw his arms round her. 

THE LADY. Dont — oh doiit be horrid. Please, Mr Lunn 
\she rises from the lounge and retreats behind it] I Promise me 
you wont be horrid. 

GREGORY LUNN. I'm not being horrid, Mrs Juno. I'm not 
going to be horrid. I love you : thats all. I'm extra- 
ordinarily happy. 

MRS JUNO. You will really be good? 

y2 Overruled 

GREGORY. I'll be whatever you wish me to be. I tell you 
I love you. I love loving you. I dont want to be tired and 
sorry, as I should be if I were to be horrid. I dont want you 
to be tired and sorry. Do come and sit down again. 

MRS JUNO \comi7ig back to her seat] Youre sure you dont 
want anything you oughtnt to? 

GREGORY. Quite sure, I only want you [//'^ rrrwY/]. Dont 
be alarmed : I 1 i k e wanting you. As long as I have a want, 
I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death. 

MRS JUNO. Yes; but the impulse to commit suicide is 
sometimes irresistible. 

GREGORY. Not with you. 

MRS JUNO. What ! 

GREGORY. Oh, it sounds uncomplimentary; but it isnt 
really. Do you know why half the couples who find them- 
selves situated as we are now behave horridly? 

MRS JUNO. Because they cant help it if they let things go 
too far. 

GREGORY. Not a bit of it. It's because they have nothing 
else to do, and no other way of entertaining each other. 
You dont know what it is to be alone with a woman who 
has little beauty and less conversation. What is a man to 
do? She cant talk interestingly; and if he talks that way 
himself she doesnt understand him. He cant look at her : 
if he does, he only finds out that she isnt beautiful. Before 
the end of five minutes they arc both hideously bored. 
Thercs only one thing that can save the situation ; and 
thats what you call being horrid. With a beautiful, witty, 
kind woman, thercs no time for such follies. It's so de- 
lightful to look at her, to listen to her voice, to hear all 
she has to say, that nothing else happens. That is why the 
woman who is supposed to have a thousand lovers seldom 
has one ; whilst the stupid, graceless animals of women have 

MRS JUNO. I wonder ! It's quite true that when one feels 
in danger one talks like mad to stave it off, even when one 
doesnt quite want to stave it off. 

Overruled 73 

GREGORY. One never does quite want to stave it off. 
Danger is delicious. But-death isnt. We court the danger; 
but the real delight is in escaping, after all. 

MRS JUNO. I dont think we'll talk about it any more. 
Danger is all very well when you do escape; but some- 
times one doesnt. I tell you frankly I dont feel as safe as 
you do — if you really do. 

GREGORY. But surely you can do as you please without 
injuring anyone, Mrs Juno. That is the whole secret of 
your extraordinary charm for me. 

MRS JUNO. I dont understand. 

GREGORY. Well, I hardly know how to begin to explain. 
But the root of the matter is that I am what people call a 
good man. 

MRS JUNO. I thought so until you began making love to 

GREGORY. But you kncw I loved you all along. 

MRS JUNO, Yes, of course ; but I depended on you not to 
tell me so ; because I thought you were good. Your blurt- 
ing it out spoilt it. And it was wicked besides, 

GREGORY. Not at all. You see, it's a great many years 
since Ive been able to allow myself to fall in love. I 
know lots of charming women ; but the worst of it is, thcyre 
all married. Women dont become charming, to my taste, 
until theyre fully developed; and by that time, if theyrc 
really nice, theyre snapped up and married. And then, 
because I am a good man, I have to place a limit to my regard 
for them. I may be fortunate enough to gain friendship and 
even very warm affection from them ; but my loyalty to their 
husbands and their hearths and their happiness obliges me 
to draw a line and not overstep it. Of course I value such 
affectionate regard very highly indeed. I am surrounded 
with women who are most dear to me. But every one of 
them has a post sticking up, if I may put it that way, with 
the inscription : Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted. How 
we all loathe that notice ! In every lovely garden, in every 
dell full of primroses, on every fair hillside, we meet that 

74 Overruled 

confounded board; and there is always a gamekeeper round 
the corner. But what is that to the horror of meeting it on 
every beautiful woman, and knowing that there is a husband 
round the corner? I have had this accursed board standing 
between me and every dear and desirable woman until I 
thought I had lost the power of letting myself fall really and 
wholeheartedly in love. 

MRS JUNO. Wasnt there a widow? 

GREGORY. No. Widows are extraordinarily scarce in 
modern society. Husbands live longer than they used to ; 
and even when they do die, their widows have a string of 
names down for their next. 

MRS JUNO. Well, what about the young girls ? 

GREGORY. Oh, who carcs for young girls ? Theyre un- 
sympathetic. Theyre beginners. They dont attract me. 
I'm afraid of them. 

MRS JUNO. Thats the correct thing to say to a woman of 
my age. But it doesnt explain why you seem to have put 
your scruples in your pocket when you met me. 

GREGORY. Surely thats quite clear. I — 

MRS JUNO. No : please dont explain. I dont want to 
know. I take your word for it. Besides, it doesnt matter 
now. Our voyage is over ; and to-morrow I start for the 
north to my poor father's place. 

GREGORY [surprise^/] Your poor father ! I thought he was 

MRS JUNO. So he is. What made you think he wasnt? 

GREGORY. You Said your poor father. 

MRS JUNO. Oh, thats a trick of mine. Rather a silly 
trick, I suppose ; but thcrcs something pathetic to me 
about men : I find myself calling them poor So-and-So 
when theres nothing whatever the matter with them. 

GREGORY [zv/jo has listened in growing alarm] But — I — 
is? — wa — ? Oh Lord! 

MRS JUNO. Whats the matter? 

GREGORY. Nothing. 

MRS JUNO. Nothing! [Rising anxious ly']'^or\icnst:yo\xrt\\\. 

Overruled y^ 

GREGORY. No. It was Something about your late 
husband — 

MRS JUNO. My late husband! What do you mean? 
[Clutching him, horror-strickeTi] Dont tell me he's dead. 

GREGORY {rising, equally appalled^ Dont tell me he's alive. 

MRS JUNO. Oh, dont frighten me like this. Of course 
he's alive — unless youve heard anything. 

GREGORY. The first day we met — on the boat — you spoke 
to me of your poor dear husband. 

MRS JUNO {releasing him, quite reassured^ Is that all ? 

GREGORY. Well, afterwards you called him poor Tops. 
Always poor Tops, or poor dear Tops. What could I 
think ? 

MRS JUNO {sitting down again] I wish you hadnt given me 
such a shock about him ; for I havnt been treating him at 
all well. Neither have you, 

GREGORY {relapsing into his seat, overwhelmed] And you 
mean to tell me youre not a widow ! 

MRS JUNO, Gracious, no! I'm not in black. 

GREGORY, Then I have been behaving like a blackguard ! 
I have broken my promise to my mother, I shall never 
have an easy conscience again. 

MRS JUNO. I'm sorry. I thought you knew. 

GREGORY. You thought I was a libertine? 

MRS JUNO, No ; of course I shouldnt have spoken to 
you if I had thought that, I thought you liked me, but 
that you knew, and would be good. 

GREGORY {stretching his hands towards her breast] I thought 
the burden of being good had fallen from my soul at last. 
I saw nothing there but a bosom to rest on : the bosom 
of a lovely woman of whom I could dream without guilt. 
What do I see now ? 

MRS JUNO. Just what you saw before. 

GREGORY {despairingly] No, no. 

MRS JUNO. What else? 

GREGORY. Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted : Trespassers 
Will Be Prosecuted. 

76 Overruled 

MRS JUNO. They wont if they hold their tongues. Dont 
be such a coward. My husband wont eat you. 

GREGORY. I'm not afraid of your husband. I'm afraid of 
my conscience. 

MRS JUNO \_losing patience] Well ! I dont consider myself 
at all a badly behaved woman ; for nothing has passed 
between us that was not perfectly nice and friendly; but 
really! to hear a grown-up man talking about promises to 
his mother! — 

GREGORY \interrupting /:er] Yes, yes : I know all about 
that. It's not romantic: it's not Don Juan: it's not 
advanced ; but we feel it all the same. It's far deeper in 
our blood and bones than all the romantic stuff. My 
father got into a scandal once : that was why my mother 
made me promise never to make love to a married woman. 
And now Ive done it I cant feel honest. Dont pretend 
to despise me or laugh at me. You feel it too. You said 
just now that your own conscience was uneasy when you 
thought of your husband. What must it be when you 
think of my wife ? 

MRS JUNO [rising ag/^ast] Your wife ! ! ! You dont dare 
sit there and tell me coolly that youre a married man ! 

GREGORY. I never led you to believe I was unmarried. 

MRS JUNO. Oh! You never gave me the faintest hint 
that you had a wife. 

GREGORY. I did indeed. I discussed things with you 
that only married people really understand. 

MRS JUNO. Oh ! ! 

GREGORY. I thought it the most delicate way of letting 
you know. 

MRS JUNO. Well, you are a daisy, I must say. I suppose 
thats vulgar ; but really ! really ! ! You and your goodness ! 
However, now weve found one another out theres only 
one thing to be done. Will you please go. 

GREGORY [rising slowly] I ought to go. 

MRS JUNO. Well, go. 

GREGORY. Yes. Er — [/f^ tries to go] I — I somehow cant. 

Overruled 77 

[He sits down again helplessly'] My conscience is active : my 
will is paralyzed. This is really dreadful. Would you 
mind ringing the bell and asking them to throw me out ? 
You ought to, you know. 

MRS JUNO. What ! make a scandal in the face of the 
whole hotel ! Certainly not. Dont be a fool. 

GREGORY. Yes ; but I cant go. 

MRS JUNO. Then I can. Goodbye. 

GREGORY [clinging to her hand] Can you really ? 

MRS JUNO. Of course I — [she wavers] Oh dear! [They 
contemplate one another helplessly]. I cant. [She sinks on the 
lounge, hand in hand with him], 

GREGORY. For hcavcn's sake pull yourself together. It's 
a question of self-control. 

MRS jUN'o [dragging her hand away and retreating to the 
end of the chesterfield] No : it's a question of distance. Self- 
control is all very well two or three yards off, or on a ship, 
with everybody looking on. Dont come any nearer. 

GREGORY. This is a ghastly business. I want to go awav ; 
and I cant. 

MRS JUNO. I think you ought to go [he makes an effort ; 
and she adds quickh] but if you try to I shall grab you 
round the neck and disgrace myself. I implore you to sit 
still and be nice. 

GREGORY. I implore you to run away. I believe I can 
trust myself to let you go for your own sake. But it will 
break my heart. 

MRS JUNO. I dont want to break your heart. I cant bear 
to think of your sitting here alone. I cant bear to think of 
sitting alone myself somewhere else. Its so senseless — so 
ridiculous — when we might be so happy. I dont want to 
be wicked, or coarse. But I like you very much ; and I do 
want to be affectionate and human. 

GREGORY. I ought to draw a line. 

MRS JUNO. So you shall, dear. Tell me : do you really 
like me ? I dont mean love me : you might love the house- 
maid — 



GREGORY \yehementlsi'\ No ! 

MRS JUNO. Oh yes you might; and what does that matter, 
anyhow? Are you really fond of me? Are we friends — 
comrades? Would you be sorry if I died? 

GREGORY \jhrinking\ Oh dont. 

MRS JUNO. Or was it the usual aimless man's lark : a mere 
shipboard flirtation? 

GREGORY. Oh no, no : nothing half so bad, so vulgar, 
so wrong. I assure you I only meant to be agreeable. It 
grew on me before I noticed it. 

MRS JUNO. And you were glad to let it grow? 

GREGORY. I let it grow because the board was not up. 

MRS JUNO. Bother the board! I am just as fond of Sib- 
thorpe as — 

GREGORY. Sibthorpe ! 

MRS JUNO. Sibthorpe is my husband's Christian name. I 
oughtnt to call him Tops to you now. 

GREGORY \_chuckring\ It sounded like something to drink. 
But I have no right to laugh at him. My Christian name 
is Gregory, which sounds like a powder. 

MRS JUNO \chiUed\ That is so like a man ! I offer you 
my heart's warmest friendliest feeling ; and you think of 
nothing but a silly joke. A quip like that makes you 
forget me. 

GREGORY. Forget you ! Oh, if only I could ! 

MRS JUNO. If you could, would you? 

GREGORY \_burftng bis shamed face in his hands'\ No : I'd die 
first. Oh, I hate myself. 

MRS JUNO. I glory in myself It's so jolly to be reckless. 
Can a man be reckless, I wonder? 

GREGORY \straightening himself desperatelf\ No. I'm not 
reckless. I know what I'm doing : my conscience is awake. 
Oh, where is the intoxication of love? the delirium? the 
madness that makes a man think the world well lost for the 
woman he adores? I dont think anything of the sort: I 
see that it's not worth it : I know that it's wrong: I have 
never in my life been cooler, more businesslike. 

Overruled 79 

MRS JUNO \opening her arms to him^^ But you cant resist me. 

GREGORY. I must. lought. \Throwingkim5elfinto her arms\ 
Oh my darling, my treasure, we shall be sorry for this. 

MRS JUNO. We can forgive ourselves. Could we forgive 
ourselves if we let this moment slip ? 

GREGORY. I protest to the last. I'm against this. I have 
been pushed over a precipice. I'm innocent. This wild 
joy, this exquisite tenderness, this ascent into heaven can 
thrill me to the uttermost fibre of my heart \with a gesture 
of ecstasy she hides her face on his shoulder'] ; but it cant subdue 
my mind or corrupt my conscience, which still shouts to 
the skies that I'm not a willing party to this outrageous con- 
duct. I repudiate the bliss with which you are filling me. 

MRS JUNO. Never mind your conscience. Tell me how 
happy you are. 

GREGORY. No : I recall you to your duty. But oh, I will 
give you my life with both hands if you can tell me that you 
feel for me one millionth part of what I feel for you now. 

MRS JUNO. Oh yes, yes. Be satisfied with that. Ask for 
no more. Let me go. 

GREGORY. I cant. I have no will. Something stronger 
than either of us is in command here. Nothing on earth 
or in heaven can part us now. You know that, dont you ? 

MRS JUNO. Oh, dont make me say it. Of course I know. 
Nothing — not life nor death nor shame nor anything 
can part us. 


right. This must be it. 

The two recover with a violent start; release one another; 
and spring back to opposite sides of the lounge. 

GREGORY. That did it. 

MRS JUNO \in a thrilling whisper] Sh-sh-sh ! That was my 
husband's voice. 

GREGORY. Impossible : it's only our guilty fancy. 

A woman's VOICE. Thisis the way to the lounge. I know it. 

GREGORY. Great Heaven ! we're both mad. Thats my 
wifes voice. 

8o Overruled 

MRS JUNO. Ridiculous ! Oh, we're dreaming it all. We — 
\the door opens; and Sibthorpe Juno appears in the roseate glow 
of the corridor {which happens to be papered in pink) with Mrs 
Lunn, like Tannhduser in the hill of Venus. He is a fussily 
energetic little man., who gives himself an air of gallantry by 
greasing the points of his moustaches and dressing very carefully. 
She is a tall, imposing, handsome, languid woman, with flashing 
dark eyes and long lashes. They make for the chesterfield, not 
noticing the two palpitating figures blotted against the walls in 
the gloom on either side. The figures fiit away noiselessly through 
the window and disappear\ 

JUNO \ofiiciously'\ Ah : here we are. \^He leads the way to 
the sofa']. Sit down : I'm sure youre tired. [She sit s\ Thats 
right. [He sits beside her on her left\. Hullo ! [he rises] this 
sofa's quite warm. 

MRS LUNN [bored] Is it? I dont notice it. I expect the 
sun's been on it. 

JUNO. I felt it quite distinctly : I'm more thinly clad than 
you. [He sits down again, and proceeds, with a sigh of satis- 
faction] What a relief to get off the ship and have a private 
room ! Thats the worst of a ship. Youre under observation 
all the time. 

MRS LUNN. But why not? 

JUNO. Well, of course theres no reason : at least I sup- 
pose not. But, you know, part of the romance of a journey 
is that a man keeps imagining that something might happen ; 
and he cant do that if there are a lot of people about and 
it simply cant happen. 

MRS LUNN. Mr Juno: romance is all very well on board 
ship ; but when your foot touches the soil of England theres 
an end of it. 

JUNO. No : believe me, thats a foreigner's mistake : we 
are the most romantic people in the world, we English. 
Why, my very presence here is a romance. 

MRS LUNN [faintly ironical] Indeed ? 

JUNO. Yes. Youve guessed, ofcourse, that I'm a married man. 

MRS LUNN. Oh, thats all right. I'm a married woman. 

Overruled 8 1 

JUNO. Thank Heaven for that ! To my English mind, 
passion is not real passion without guilt. I am a red-blooded 
man, Mrs Lunn : I cant help it. The tragedy of my life 
is that I married, when quite young, a woman whom I 
couldnt help, being very fond of. I longed for a guilty 
passion — for the real thing — the wicked thing ; and yet I 
couldnt care twopence for any other woman when my wife 
was about. Year after year went by: 1 felt my youth slip- 
ping away without ever having had a romance in mv life; 
for marriage is all very well ; but it isnt romance. Theres 
nothing wrong in it, you see. 

MRS LUNN. Poor man ! How you must have suffered ! 

JUNO. No : that was what was so tame about it. I 
wanted to suffer. You get so sick of being happily married. 
It's always the happy marriages that break up. At last my 
wife and I agreed that we ought to take a holiday. 

MRS LUNN. Hadnt you holidays every year ? 

JUNO. Oh, the seaside and so on ! Thats not what we 
meant. We meant a holiday from one another. 

MRS LUNN. How Very odd ! 

JUNO. She said it was an excellent idea ; that domestic 
felicity was making us perfectly idiotic ; that she wanted 
a holiday too. So we agreed to go round the world in opposite 
directions. I started for Suez on the day she sailed for 
New York. 

MRS LUNN \_suddenly becoming attentive'] Thats precisely 
what Gregory and I did. Now I wonder did he want a 
holiday from me ! What he said was that he wanted the 
delight of meeting me after a long absence. 

JUNO. Could anything be more romantic than that? 
Would anyone else than an Englishman have thought of 
it ? I daresay my temperament seems tame to your boiling 
southern blood — 

MRS LUNN. My what ! 

JUNO. Your southern blood. Dont you remember how 
you told me, that night in the saloon when I sang "Fare- 
well and adieu to you dear Spanish ladies," that you were 

82 Overruled 

by birth a lady of Spain ? Your splendid Andalusian beauty 
speaks for itself. 

MRS LUNN. StufF! I was born in Gibraltar. My father 
was Captain Jenkins. In the artillery. 

JUNO [^ardentlyl It is climate and not race that determines 
the temperament. The fiery sun of Spain blazed on your 
cradle; and it rocked to the roar of British cannon. 

MRS LUNN. What eloquence! It reminds me of my hus- 
band when he was in love — before we were married. Are 
you in love ? 

JUNO. Yes; and with the same woman. 

MRS LUNN. Well, of course, I didnt suppose you were in 
love with two women. 

JUNO. I dont think you quite understand. I meant that 
I am in love with you. 

MRS LUNN \relapsi7ig into deepest boredom'\ Oh, that ! Men 
do fall in love with me. They all seem to think me a 
creature with volcanic passions : I'm sure I dont know why ; 
for all the volcanic women I know are plain little creatures 
with sandy hair. I dont consider human volcanoes respect- 
able. And I'm so tired of the subject ! Our house is always 
full of women who are in love with my husband and men 
who are in love with me. We encourage it because it's 
pleasant to have company. 

JUNO. And is your husband as insensible as yourself? 

MRS LUNN. Oh, Gregory's not insensible : very far 
from it; but I am the only woman in the world for 

JUNO. But you ? Are you really as insensible as you say 
you are ? 

MRS LUNN. I never said anything of the kind. I'm not 
at all insensible by nature ; but (I dont know whether 
youve noticed it) I am what people call rather a fine figure 
of a woman. 

JUNO \_pas5iondteIf\ Noticed it ! Oh, Mrs Lunn ! Have I 
been able to notice anything else since we met? 

MRS LUNN. There you go, like all the rest oi them ! I 

Overruled 83 

ask you, how do you expect a woman to keep up what you 
call her sensibility when this sort of thing has happened 
to her about three times a week ever since she was seven- 
teen? It used to upset me and terrify me at first. Then I 
got rather a taste for it. It came to a climax with Gregory : 
that was why I married him. Then it became a mild lark, 
hardly worth the trouble. After that I found it valuable 
once or twice as a spinal tonic when I was run down; but 
now it's an unmitigated bore. I dont mind your declaration : 
I daresay it gives you a certain pleasure to make it. I quite 
understand that you adore me; but (if you dont mind) I'd 
rather you didnt keep on saying so. 

JUNO. Is there then no hope for me? 

MRS LUNN. Oh, yes. Gregory has an idea that married 
women keep lists of the men theyll marry if they become 
widows. I'll put your name down, if that will satisfy you. 

JUNO, Is the list a long one ? 

MRS LUNN. Do you mean the real list? Not the one I 
shew to Gregory : there are hundreds of names on that ; 
but the little private list that he'd better not see? 

JUNO, Oh, will you really put me on that? Say you will. 

MRS LUNN. Well, perhaps I will. [He kisses her handl. 
Now dont begin abusing the privilege. 

JUNO. May I call you by your christian name ? 

MRS LUNN. No: it's too long. You cant go about calling 
a woman Seraphita. 

JUNO \ecstaticaUf\ Seraphita ! 

MRS LUNN. I used to be called Sally at home; but when 
I married a man named Lunn, of course that became 
ridiculous. Thats my one little pet joke. Call me Mrs 
Lunn for short. And change the subject, or I shall go to 

JUNO. I cant change the subject. For me there is no 
other subject. Why else have you put me on your list ? 

MRS LUNN, Because youre a solicitor. Gregory's a solicitor. 
I'm accustomed to my husband being a solicitor and telling 
me things he oughtnt to tell anybody. 

84 Overruled 

JUNO [ruefully'] Is that all? Oh, I cant believe that the 
voice of love has ever thoroughly avi^akened you. 

MRS LUNN. No : it sends me to sleep. [Juno appeals against 
this by an amorous demonstration']. It's no use, Mr Juno : I'm 
hopelessly respectable : the Jenkinses always were. Dont 
you realize that unless most women were like that, the world 
couldnt go on as it does? 

JUNO [darkly] You think it goes on respectably ; but I 
can tell you as a solicitor — 

MRS LUNN. Stuff! of coursc all the disreputable people 
who get into trouble go to you, just as all the sick 
people go to the doctors; but most people never go to 
a solicitor. 

JUNO [rising, with a growing sense of injury] Look here, 
Mrs Lunn : do you think a man's heart is a potato? or a 
turnip? or a ball of knitting wool? that you can throw it 
away like this? 

MRS LUNN. I dont throw away balls of knitting wool. A 
man's heart seems to me much like a sponge : it sops up 
dirty water as well as clean. 

JUNO. I have never been treated like this in my life. 
Here am I, a married man, with a most attractive wife : a 
wife I adore, and who adores me, and has never as much as 
looked at any other man since we were married. I come 
and throw all this at your feet. I ! I, a solicitor! braving 
the risk of your husband putting me into the divorce court 
and making me a beggar and an outcast ! I do this for your 
sake. And you go on as if I were making no sacrifice : as 
if I had told you it's a fine evening, or asked you to have 
a cup of tea. It's not human. It's not right. Love has 
its rights as well as respectability [he sits down again, aloof 
and sulky]. 

MRS LUNN. Nonsense! Here! heres a flower [she gives 
him one]. Go and dream over it until you feel hungry. 
Nothing brings people to their senses like hunger. 

JUNO [contemplating the flower without rapture] What good's 
this ? 

Overruled 85 

MRS LUNN \snatching it from him'] Oh ! you dont love me 
a bit. 

JUNO. Yes I do. Or at least I did. But I'm an English- 
man ; and I think you ought to respect the conventions of 
English life. 

MRS JUNO. But I am respecting them; and youre not. 

JUNO. Pardon me. I may be doing wrong ; but I'm 
doing it in a proper and customary manner. You may be 
doing right ; but youre doing it in an unusual and question- 
able manner. I am not prepared to put up with that. I can 
stand being badly treated : I'm no baby, and can take care 
of myself with anybody. And of course I can stand being 
well treated. But the one thing I cant stand is being un- 
expectedly treated. It's outside my scheme of life. So 
come now! youve got to behave naturally and straight- 
forwardly with me. You can leave husband and child, 
home, friends, and country, for my sake, and come with me 
to some southern isle — or say South America — where we 
can be all in all to one another. Or you can tell your 
husband and let him jolly well punch my head if he can. 
But I'm damned if I'm going to stand any eccentricity. 
It's not respectable. 

GREGORY [coming in from the terrace and advancing with 
dignity to his wife's end of the chesterfield] Will you have the 
goodness, sir, in addressing this lady, to keep your temper 
and refrain from using profane language? 

MRS LUNN [rising, delighted] Gregory! Darling [she enfolds 
him in a copious embrace] ! 

JUNO [rising] You make love to another man to ray 
face ! 

MRS LUNN. Why, he's my husband. 

JUNO. That takes away the last rag of excuse for such 
conduct. A nice world it would be if married people were 
to carry on their endearments before everybody ! 

GREGORY. This is ridiculous. What the devil business is 
it of yours what passes between my wife and myself? Youre 
not her husband, are you ? 

86 Overruled 

JUNO. Not at present; but I'm on the list. I'm her 
prospective husband : youre only her actual one. I'm the 
anticipation : youre the disappointment. 

MRS LUNN. Oh, my Gregory is not a disappointment. 
\_FondIy'\ Are you, dear.? 

GREGORY. You just Wait, my pet. I'll settle this chap 
for you. \^He dise7igages himself from her ejnbrace, and faces 
Juno. She sits down placidly^ You call me a disappointment, 
do you ? Well, I suppose every husband's a disappointment. 
What about yourself? Dont try to look like an unmarried 
man. I happen to know the lady you disappointed. I 
travelled in the same ship with her ; and — 

JUNO. And you fell in love with her. 

GREGORY [taken aback\ Who told you that? 

JUNO. Aha ! you confess it. Well, if you want to 
know, nobody told me. Everybody falls in love with my 

GREGORY. And do you fall in love with everybody's wife ? 

JUNO. Certainly not. Only with yours. 

MRS LUNN. But whats the good of saying that, Mr Juno r 
I'm married to him ; and theres an end of it, 

JUNO. Not at all. You can get a divorce. 

MRS LUNN. What for? 

JUNO. For his misconduct with my wife. 

GREGORY \_deeply indignant'] How dare you, sir, asperse the 
character of that sweet lady ? a lady whom I have taken 
under my protection. 

JUNO. Protection ! 

MRS JUNO [returnifig hastily] Really you must be more 
careful what you say about me, Mr Lunn. 

JUNO. My precious ! [He embraces her]. Pardon this be- 
trayal of feeling; but Ive not seen my wife for several 
weeks; and she is very dear to me. 

GREGORY. 1 call this cheek. Who is making love to his 
own wife before people now, pray? 

MRS LUNN. Wont you introduce me to your wife, Mr 
Juno ? 

Overruled 87 

MRS JUNO. How do you do? [T/:ey shake hands; and Mrs 
"Juno sits down beside Mrs Lutin, on her left\. 

MRS LUNN. I'm so glad to find you do credit to Gregory's 
taste. I'm naturally rather particular about the women he 
falls in love with. 

JUNO \sternly'\ This is no way to take your husband's 
unfaithfulness. \To Lunn'\ You ought to teach your wife 
better. Wheres her feelings? It's scandalous. 

GREGORY. What about your own conduct, pray? 

JUNO. I dont defend it; and theres an end of the matter. 

GREGORY. Well, upon my soul ! What difference does 
your not defending it make? 

JUNO. A fundamental difference. To serious people I 
may appear wicked. I dont defend myself: I am wicked, 
though not bad at heart. To thoughtless people I may even 
appear comic. Well, laugh at me : I have given myself 
away. But Mrs Lunn seems to have no opinion at all about 
me. She doesnt seem to know whether I'm wicked or 
comic. She doesnt seem to care. She has no moral sense. 
I say it's not right. I repeat, I have sinned; and I'm pre- 
pared to suffer. 

MRS JUNO. Have you really sinned. Tops ? 

MRS LUNN [blandly'] I dont remember your sinning. I 
have a shocking bad memory for trifles ; but I think I 
should remember that — if you mean me. 

JUNO [raging] Trifles! I have fallen in love with a 

GREGORY. Dont you dare call my wife a monster. 

MRS JUNO [rising quickly and coming between them]. Please 
dont lose your temper, Mr Lunn : I wont have my Tops 

GREGORY. Well, then, let him not brag about sinning 
with my wife. [He turns impulsively to his wife; makes her 
rise; and takes her proudly on his arm]. What pretension has 
he to any such honor? 

JUNO. I sinned in intention. [Mrs Juno abandons him and 
resumes her seat, chilled]. I'm as guilty as if I had actually 

88 Overruled 

sinned. And I insist on being treated as a sinner, and not 
walked over as it I'd done nothing, by your wife or any 
other man. 

MRS LUNN. Tush ! [SSe sits down again contemptuously^ 

JUNO \_furious'] I wont be belittled. 

MRS LUNN [to Mrs J uno~\ I hope youll come and stay with, 
us now that you and Gregory are such friends, Mrs Juno. 

JUNO. This insane magnanimity — . 

MRS LUNN. Dont you think youve said enough, Mr Juno? 
This is a matter for two women to settle. Wont you take 
a stroll on the beach with my Gregory while we talk it 
over. Gregory is a splendid listener. 

JUNO. I dont think any good can come of a conversation 
between Mr Lunn and myself. We can hardly be expected 
to improve one another's morals. [He passes behind the 
chesterfield to Mrs Lunrfs end; seizes a chair; deliberately pushes 
it between Gregory and Mrs Lunn; and sits down with folded 
arms, resolved not to budge\ 

GREGORY. Oh ! Indeed ! Oh, all right. If you come to 
that — \he crosses to Mrs Juno; plants a chair by her side ; and 
sits down with equal determination\ 

JUNO. Now we are both equally guilty. 

GREGORY. Pardon me. I'm not guilty. 

JUNO. In intention. Dont quibble. You were guilty in 
intention, as I was. 

GREGORY. No. I should rathcr describe myself as being 
guilty in fact, but not in intention. 

JUNO "1 rising and { What ! 

MRS JUNO \ exclaiming -| No, really — 

MRS LUNN j simultaneously y Gregory ! 

GREGORY. Yes : I maintain that I am responsible for my 
intentions only, and not for reflex actions over which I 
have no control. [Mrs Juno sits down, ashamed\ I promised 
my mother that I would never tell a He, and that I would 
never make love to a married woman. I never have told a 

MRS LUNN [remonstrating] Gregory ! [Zhe sits down again\ 

Overruled 89 

GREGORY. I say never. On many occasions I have resorted 
to prevarication; but on great occasions I have always told 
the truth. I regard this as a great occasion ; and I wont be 
intimidated into breaking my promise. I solemnly declare 
that I did not know until this evening that Mrs Juno was 
married. She will bear me out when I say that from that 
moment my intentions were strictly and resolutely honor- 
able ; though my conduct, which I could not control and 
am therefore not responsible for, was disgraceful — or would 
have been had this gentleman not walked in and begun 
making love to my wife under my very nose. 

JUNO \_flingi71g himself back into his chair\ Well, I like this ! 

MRS i.uNN. Really, darling, theres no use in the pot call- 
ing the kettle black. 

GREGORY. When you say darling, may I ask which of us 
you are addressing? 

MRS LUNN. I really dont know. I'm getting hopelessly 

JUNO. Why dont you let my wife say something? I 
dont think she ought to be thrust into the background 
like this. 

MRS LUNN. I'm sorry, I'm sure. Please excuse me, dear. 

MRS JUNO \thoughtfully\ I dont know what to say. I must 
think over it. I have always been rather severe on this sort 
of thing; but when it came to the point I didnt behave 
as I thought I should behave. I didnt intend to be wicked ; 
but somehow or other, Nature, or whatever you choose to 
call it, didnt take much notice of my intentions. \Gregory 
instinctively seeks her hand and presses //]. And I really did 
think, Tops, that I was the only woman in the world for you. 

JUNO [^cheerfully'] Oh, thats all right, my precious. Mrs 
Lunn thought she was the only woman in the world for him. 

GREGORY [reflectively] So she is, in a sort of way. 

JUNO [faring up] And so is my wife. Dont you set up to 
be a better husband than I am ; for youre not. Ive owned 
I'm wrong. You havnt. 

MRS LUNN. Are you sorry, Gregory? 

^o Overruled 

GREGORY [perplexed'l Sorry? 

MRS LUNN. Yes, sorry. I think it's time for you to say 
youre sorry, and to make friends with Mr Juno before we 
all dine together. 

GREGORY. Seraphita : I promised my mother — 

MRS JUNO [involuntarily'] Oh, bother your mother ! [^^- 
covering herself] I beg your pardon. 

GREGORY. A promise is a promise. I cant tell a deliberate 
lie. I know I ought to be sorry ; but the flat fact is that 
I'm not sorry. I find that in this business, somehow or other, 
there is a disastrous separation between my moral principles 
and my conduct. 

JUNO. Theres nothing disastrous about it. It doesnt 
matter about your conduct if your principles are all right. 

GREGORY. Bosh ! It docsnt matter about your principles 
if your conduct is all right. 

JUNO. But your conduct isnt all right ; and my principles 

GREGORY. Whats the good of your principles being right 
if they wont work ? 

JUNO. They will work, sir, if you exercise self-sacrifice. 

GREGORY. Oh yes: if, if, if. You know jolly well that 
self-sacrifice doesnt work either when you really want a 
thing. How much have you sacrificed yourself, pray.^ 

MRS LUNN. Oh, a great deal, Gregory. Dont be rude. 
Mr Juno is a very nice man : he has been most attentive 
to me on the voyage. 

GREGORY. And Mrs Juno's a very nice woman. She 
oughtnt to be ; but she is. 

JUNO. Why oughtnt she to be a nice woman, pray? 

GREGORY. I mean she oughtnt to be nice to me. And 
you oughtnt to be nice to my wife. And your wife oughtnt 
to like me. And my wife oughtnt to like you. And if they 
do, they oughtnt to go on liking us. And I oughtnt to like 
your wife; and you oughtnt to like mine; and if we do 
we oughtnt to go on liking them. But we do, all of us. 
We oughtnt; but we do. 

Overruled 91 

JUNO. But, my dear boy, if we admit we are in the 
wrong wheres ttie harm of it? We're not perfect; but 
as long as we keep the ideal before us — 


JUNO. By admitting we're wrong. 

MRS LUNN [^springing up, out of patience, and pacing round 
the lounge intolerantly] Well, really, I must have my dinner. 
These two men, with their morality, and their promises 
to their mothers, and their admissions that they were wrong, 
and their sinning and suffering, and their going on at one 
another as if it meant anything, or as if it mattered, are 
getting on ray nerves. [Stooping over the back of the chester- 
field to address Mrs Juno] If you will be so very good, my 
dear, as to take my sentimental husband off my hands 
occasionally, I shall be more than obliged to you : I'm 
sure you can stand more male sentimentality than I can. 
[Sweeping away to the fireplace] I, on my part, will do my 
best to amuse your excellent husband when you find him 

JUNO. I call this polyandry. 

MRS LUNN. I wish you wouldnt call innocent things by 
offensive names, Mr Juno. What do you call your own 

JUNO [rising] I tell you I have admitted — 

IWhats the good of keeping on at 
Oh, not that again, please. 
Tops : I'll scream if you say that 

JUNO. Oh, well, if you wont listen to me — ! [He sits 
down again]. 

MRS JUNO. What is the position now exactly? [Mrs Lunn 
shrugs her shoulders and gives up the conundrum. Gregory looks 
at Juno. Juno turns away his head hufiily], I mean, what are 
we going to do? 

MRS LUNN. What would you advise, Mr Juno? 
JUNO. I should advise you to divorce your husband. 

92 Overruled 

MRS LUNN. You Want me to drag your wife into court 
and disgrace her? 

JUNO. No : I forgot that. Excuse me ; but for the moment 
I thought I was married to you. 

GREGORY. I think we had better let bygones be bygones. 
[To Mrs "Juno, very tenderly'] You will forgive me, wont 
you? Why should you let a moment's forgetfulness em- 
bitter all our future life? 

MRS JUNO. But it's Mrs Lunn who has to forgive you. 

GREGORY. Oh, dash it, I forgot. This is getting ridiculous. 

MRS LUNN. I'm getting hungry. 

MRS JUNO. Do you really mind, Mrs Lujin? 

MRS LUNN. My dear Mrs Juno, Gregory is one of those 
terribly uxorious men who ought to have ten wives. If 
any really nice woman will take him off my hands for a 
day or two occasionally, I shall be greatly obliged to her. 

GREGORY. Seraphita : you cut me to the soul [he 

MRS LUNN. Serve you right ! Youd think it quite proper 
if it cut me to the soul. 

MRS JUNO. Am I to take Sibthorpe off your hands too, 
Mrs Lunn ? 

JUNO [rising] Do you suppose I'll allow this? 

MRS JUNO. Youve admitted that youvc done wrong, 
Tops. Whats the use of your allowing or not allowing 
after that? 

JUNO. I do not admit that I have done wrong. I admit 
that what I did was wrong. 

GREGORY. Can you explain the distinction? 

JUNO. It's quite plain to anyone but an imbecile. If 
you tell me Ive done something wrong you insult me. 
But if you say that something that I did is wrong you 
simply raise a question of morals. I tell you flatly if you 
say I did anything wrong you will have to fight me. In 
fact I think we ought to fight anyhow. I dont particularly 
want to; but I feci that England expects us to. 

GREGORY. I wont fight. If you beat mc my wife would 

Overruled 93 

share my humiliation. If I beat you, she would sympathize 
with you and loathe me for my brutality. 

MRS LUNN. Not to mention that as we are human beings 
and not reindeer or barndoor fowl, if two men presumed 
to fight for us we couldnt decently ever speak to either 
of them again. 

GREGORY. Besides, neither of us could beat the other, 
as we neither of us know how to fight. We should only 
blacken each others eyes and make fools of ourselves. 

JUNO. I dont admit that. Every Englishman can use his 

GREGORY. Youre an Englishman. Can you use yours? 

JUNO. I presume so : I never tried. 

MRS JUNO. You never told me you couldnt fight. Tops. 
I thought you were an accomplished boxer. 

JUNO. My precious : I never gave you any ground for 
such a belief. 

MRS JUNO. You always talked as if it were a matter of 
course. You spoke with the greatest contempt of men who 
didnt kick other men downstairs. 

JUNO. Well, I cant kick Mr Lunn downstairs. We're on 
the ground floor. 

MRS JUNO. You could throw him into the harbor. 

GREGORY. Do you Want me to be thrown into the harbor? 

MRS JUNO. No : I only want to shew Tops that he's 
making a ghastly fool of himself. 

GREGORY [rising and prowling disgustedly between the 
chesterfield and the windows'] We're all making fools of 

JUNO [following him] Well, if we're not to fight, I must 
insist at least on your never speaking to my wife again. 

GREGORY. Does my speaking to your wife do you any 

JUNO. No. But it's the proper course to take. [Emphatic- 
ally] We must behave with some sort of decency. 

MRS LUNN. And are you never going to speak to me 
again, Mr Juno? 

94 Overruled 

JUNO. I'm prepared to promise never to do so. I think 
your husband has a right to demand that. Then if I speak 
to you after, it will not be his fault. It will be a breach of 
my promise ; and I shall not attempt to defend my conduct. 

GREGORY \_facing kim\ I shall talk to your wife as often 
as she'll let me. 

MRS JUNO. I have no objection to your speaking to me, 
Mr Lunn. 

JUNO. Then I shall take steps. 

GREGORY. What steps ? 

JUNO. Steps. Measures. Proceedings. Such steps as may 
seem advisable. 

MRS LUNN \to Mrs J ujio] Can your husband afford a 
scandal, Mrs Juno? 


MRS LUNN. Neither can mine. 

GREGORY. Mrs Juno : I'm very sorry I let you in for all 
this. I dont know how it is that we contrive to make 
feelings like ours, which seems to me to be beautiful and 
sacred feelings, and which lead to such interesting and ex- 
citing adventures, end in vulgar squabbles and degrading 

JUNO. I decline to admit that my conduct has been 
vulgar or degrading. 

GREGORY. I promised — 

JUNO. Look here, old chap : I dont say a word against 
your mother; and I'm sorry she's dead; but really, you 
know, most women are mothers; and they all die some 
time or other; yet that doesnt make them infallible 
authorities on morals, does it? 

GREGORY. I was about to say so myself. Let me add 
that if you do things merely because you think some 
other fool expects you to do them, and he expects you 
to do them because he thinks you expect him to expect 
you to do them, it will end in everybody doing what 
nobody wants to do, which is in my opinion a silly state 
of things. 

Overruled 95 

JUNO. Lunn : I love your wife ; and thats all about it, 

GREGORY. Juno: I love yours. What then? 

JUNO. Clearly she must never see you again. 

MRS JUNO. Why not? 

JUNO. Why not ! My love : I'm surprised at you. 

MRS JUNO. Am I to speak only to men who dislike me? 

JUNO. Yes : I think that is, properly speaking, a married 
woman's duty. 

MRS JUNO. Then I wont do it : thats flat. I like to be 
liked. I like to be loved. 1 want everyone round me to 
love me. I dont want to meet or speak to anyone who 
doesnt like me. 

JUNO. But, my precious, this is the most horrible 

MRS LUNN. I dont intend to give up meeting you, Mr 
Juno. You amuse me very much. I dont like being loved : 
it bores me. But I do like to be amused. 

JUNO. I hope we shall meet very often. But I hope 
also we shall not defend our conduct. 

MRS JUNO [rising] This is unendurable. Weve all been 
flirting. Need we go on footling about it? 

JUNO [Z'^^^/y] -'- <^ont know what you call footling — 

MRS juKO [c»tfif2g /:im short'] You do. You re footling. 
Mr Lunn is footling. Cant we admit that we're human 
and have done with it? 

JUNO. I have admitted it all along. I — 

MRS JUNO [almost screaming] Then stop footling. 

The di7iner gong sounds. 

MRS LUNN [rising] Thank heaven ! Lets go into dinner. 
Gregory : take in Mrs Juno. 

GREGORY. But surcly I ought to take in our guest, and 
not my own wife. 

MRS LUNN. Well, Mrs Juno is not your wife, is she? 

GREGORY. Oh, of coursc : I beg your pardon. I'm 
hopelessly confused. [He offers his arm to Mrs Juno, rather 
apprehensively ] . 

MRS JUNO. You seem quite afraid of me [she takes his arm]. 

96 Overruled 

GREGORY. I am. I simply adore you. \T/?ey go cut to- 
gether ; and as they pass through the door he turns and 
says in a ringing voice to the other coupk'\ I have said 
to Mrs Juno that I simply adore her. \_He takes her out 

MRS LUNN [calling after him] Yes, dear. Shes a darling. 
\To Juno'] Now, Sibthorpe. 

JUNO {giving her his arm gallantly] You have called me 
Sibthorpe! Thank you. I think Lunn's conduct fully 
justifies me in allowing you to do it. 

MRS LUNN. Yes: I think you may let yourself go now. 

JUNO. Seraphita : I worship you beyond expression. 

MRS LUNN. Sibthorpe : you amuse me beyond descrip- 
tion. Come. [T/iey go in to dinner together]. 





A Professor of Phonetics. 

As will be seen later on, Pygmalion needs, not a preface, 
but a sequel, which I have supplied in its due place. 

The English have no respect for their language, and 
will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so 
abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds 
like. It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth 
without making some other Englishman hate or despise 
him. German and Spanish are accessible to foreigners : 
English is not accessible even to Englishmen. The re- 
former England needs today is an energetic phonetic en- 
thusiast : that is why I have made such a one the hero of 
a popular play. There have been heroes of that kind cry- 
ing in the wilderness for many years past. When I became 
interested in the subject towards the end of the eighteen- 
seventies, Melville Bell was dead; but Alexander J. Ellis 
was still a living patriarch, with an impressive head always 
covered by a velvet skull cap, for which he would apologize 
to public meetings in a very courtly manner. He and 
Tito Pagliardini, another phonetic veteran, were men whom 
it was impossible to dislike. Henry Sweet, then a young 
man, lacked their sweetness of character: he was about as 
conciliatory to conventional mortals as Ibsen or Samuel 
Butler. His great ability as a phonetician (he was, I think, 
the best of them all at his job) would have entitled him 
to high official recognition, and perhaps enabled him to 


lOO Preface to Pygmalion 

popularize his subject, but for his Satanic contempt for all 
academic dignitaries and persons in general who thought 
more of Greek than of phonetics. Once, in the days when 
the Imperial Institute rose in South Kensington, and Joseph 
Chamberlain was booming the Empire, I induced the editor 
of a leading monthly review to commission an article from 
Sweet on the imperial importance of his subject. When it 
arrived, it contained nothing but a savagely derisive attack 
on a professor of language and literature whose chair Sweet 
regarded as proper to a phonetic expert only. The article, 
being libellous, had to be returned as impossible ; and I 
had to renounce my dream of dragging its author into the 
limelight. When I met him afterwards, for the first time for 
many years, I found to my astonishment that he, who had 
been a quite tolerably presentable young man, had actually 
managed by sheer scorn to alter his personal appearance 
until he had become a sort of walking repudiation of Oxford 
and all its traditions. It must have been largely in his own 
despite that he was squeezed into something called a Reader- 
ship of phonetics there. The future of phonetics rests prob- 
ably with his pupils, who all swore by him ; but nothing 
could bring the man himself into any sort of compliance 
with the university to which he nevertheless clung by divine 
right in an intensely Oxonian way. I daresay his papers, if 
he has left any, include some satires that may be published 
without too destructive results fifty years hence. He was, I 
believe, not in the least an illnatured man : very much the 
opposite, I should say ; but he would not sufi'er fools gladly. 
Those who knew him will recognize in my third act the 
allusion to the patent shorthand in which he used to write 
postcards, and which may be acquired from a four and six- 
penny manual published by the Clarendon Press. The post- 
cards which Mrs Higgins describes are such as I have received 
from Sweet. I would decipher a sound which a cockney 
would represent by zerr, and a Frenchman by seu, and then 
write demanding with some heat what on earth it meant. 
Sweet, with boundless contempt for my stupidity, would 

Preface to Pygmalion loi 

reply that it not only meant but obviously was the word 
Result, as no other word containing that sound, and capable 
of making sense with the context, existed in any language 
spoken on earth. That less expert mortals should require 
fuller indications was beyond Sweet's patience. There- 
fore, though the whole point of his "Current Shorthand" 
is that it can express every sound in the language per- 
fectly,- vowels as well as consonants, and that your hand 
has to make no stroke except the easy and current ones 
with which you write m, n, and u, 1, p, and q, scribbling 
them at whatever angle comes easiest to you, his unfor- 
tunate determination to make this remarkable and quite 
legible script serve also as a shorthand reduced it in his 
own practice to the most inscrutable of cryptograms. His 
true objective was the provision of a full, accurate, legible 
script for our noble but ill-dressed language ; but he was 
led past that by his contempt for the popular Pitman 
system of shorthand, which he called the Pitfall system. The 
triumph of Pitman was a triumph of business organization: 
there was a weekly paper to persuade you to learn Pitman: 
there were cheap textbooks and exercise books and tran- 
scripts of speeches for you to copy, and schools where 
experienced teachers coached you up to the necessary pro- 
ficiency. Sweet could not organize his market in that fashion. 
He might as well have been the Sybil who tore up the 
leaves of prophecy that nobody would attend to. The four 
and sixpenny manual, mostly in his lithographed hand- 
writing, that was never vulgarly advertized, may perhaps 
some day be taken up by a syndicate and pushed upon the 
public as The Times pushed the Encyclopaedia Britannica; 
but until then it will certainly not prevail against Pitman. 
I have bought three copies of it during my lifetime; and I 
am informed by the publishers that its cloistered existence 
is still a steady and healthy one. I actually learned the 
system two several times ; and yet the shorthand in which 
I am writing these lines is Pitman's. And the reason is, 
that my secretary cannot transcribe Sweet, having been 

I02 Preface to Pygmalion 

perforce taught in the schools of" Pitman. Therefore, Sweet 
railed at Pitman as vainly as Thersites railed at Ajax : 
his raillery, however it may have eased his soul, gave no 
popular vogue to Current Shorthand. 

Pygmalion Higgins is not a portrait of Sweet, to whom 
the adventure of Eliza Doolittle would have been impos- 
sible ; still, as will be seen, there are touches of Sweet in 
the play. With Higgins's physique and temperament Sweet 
might have set the Thames on fire. As it was, he impressed 
himself professionally on Europe to an extent that made 
his comparative personal obscurity, and the failure of 
Oxford to do justice to his eminence, a puzzle to foreign 
specialists in his subject. I do not blame Oxford, because 
I think Oxford is quite right in demanding a certain social 
amenity from its nurslings (heaven knows it is not exor- 
bitant in its requirements !) ; for although I well know how 
hard it is for a man of genius with a seriously underrated 
subject to maintain serene and kindly relations with the 
men who underrate it, and who keep all the best places for 
less important subjects which they profess without originality 
and sometimes without much capacity for them, still, if he 
overwhelms them with wrath and disdain, he cannot expect 
them to heap honors on him. 

Of the later generations of phoneticians I know little. 
Among them towers the Poet Laureate, to whom perhaps 
Higgins may owe his Miltonic sympathies, though here 
again I must disclaim all portraiture. But if the play makes 
the public aware that there are such people as phoneticians, 
and that they arc among the most important people in 
England at present, it will serve its turn. 

I wish to boast that Pygmalion has been an extremely 
successful play all over Europe and North America as well 
as at home. It is so intensely and deliberately didactic, and 
its subject is esteemed so dry, that I delight in throwing 
it at the heads of the wiseacres who repeat the parrot cry 
that art should never be didactic. It goes to prove my con- 
tention that art should never be anything else. 

Preface to Pygmalion 103 

Finally, and for the encouragement of people troubled 
with accents that cut them off from all high employment, 
I may add that the change wrought by Professor Higgins 
in the flower-girl is neither impossible nor uncommon. The 
modern concierge's daughter who fulfils her ambition by 
playing the Queen of Spain in Ruy Bias at the Theatre 
Franfais is only one of many thousands of men and women 
who have sloughed off their native dialects and acquired a 
new tongue. But the thing has to be done scientifically, or 
the last state of the aspirant may be worse than the first. 
An honest and natural slum dialect is more tolerable than 
the attempt of a phonetically untaught person to imitate 
the vulgar dialect of the golf club; and I am sorry to say 
that in spite of the efforts of our Academy of Dramatic Art, 
there is still too much sham golfing English on our stage, 
and too little of the noble English of Forbes Robertson. 


Covent Garden at 1 1 . i 5 p.m. Torrents of heavy summer 
rain. Cab whistles blowing frantically in all directions. Pedes- 
trians running for shelter into the market and under the portico 
of St. PauPs Church, where there are already several people, 
among them a lady and her daughter in evening dress. They are 
all peering out gloomily at the rain, except one man with his back 
turned to the rest, who seems wholly preoccupied with a note- 
book in which he is writing busily. 

The church clock strikes the first quarter. 

THE DAUGHTER \in the Space between the central pillars, close 
to the one on her left'] I'm getting chilled to the bone. What 
can Freddy be doing all this time? Hes been gone twenty- 

THE MOTHER [on her daughter''s right'\ Not so long. But 
he ought to have got us a cab by this. 

A BYSTANDER \on the lady s right'\ He wont get no cab not 
until half-past eleven, missus, when they come back after 
dropping their theatre fares. 

THE MOTHER. But wc must havc a cab. We cant stand 
here until half-past eleven. It's too bad. 

THE BYSTANDER. Well, it aint my fault, missus. 

THE DAUGHTER. If Freddy had a bit of gumption, he would 
have got one at the theatre door. 

THE MOTHER. What could he have done, poor boy.? 

THE DAUGHTER. Other people got cabs. Why couldnt he? 

io6 Pygmalion Act I 

Freddy rushes in out of the rain from the Southampton Street 
side, and comes between them closing a dripping umbrella. He 
is a \oung man of twenty, in evening dress, very wet round 
the ankles. 

THE DAUGHTER. Well, havnt you got a cab? 

FREDDY. Theres not one to be had for love or money. 

THE MOTHER. Oh, Freddy, there must be one. You cant 
have tried. 

THE DAUGHTER. It's too tircsomc. Do you expect us to 
go and get one ourselves? 

FREDDY. I tell you theyre all engaged. The rain was so 
sudden : nobody was prepared ; and everybody had to take 
a cab. Ive been to Charing Cross one way and nearly to 
Ludgate Circus the other; and they were all engaged. 

THE MOTHER. Did you try Trafalgar Square? 

FREDDY. There wasnt one at Trafalgar Square. 

THE DAUGHTER. Did you try? 

FREDDY. I tried as far as Charing Cross Station. Did you 
expect me to walk to Hammersmith ? 

THE DAUGHTER. You havnt tried at all. 

THE MOTHER. You really are very helpless, Freddy. Go 
again ; and dont come back until you have found a cab. 

FREDDY. I shall simply get soaked for nothing. 

THE DAUGHTER. And what about us? Are we to stay here 
all night in this draught, with next to nothing on. You 
selfish pig — 

FREDDY. Oh, very well : I'll go, I'll go. [He opens his um- 
brella and dashes off Strandwards, but comes into collision with 
a flower girl, who is hurrying in for shelter, knockitig her basket 
out of her hands. A blinding flash of Ughtrmg, followed instantly 
by a rattling peal of thunder, orchestrates the incident"] . 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Nah thcn, Freddy : look wh' y' gowin, 

FREDDY. Sorry [he rushes off\ 

THE FLOWER GIRL [picking Up her scattered flowers and re- 
placing them in the basket'\ Theres menners Pyer! Te-oo 
banches o voylets trod into the mad. [She sits down on 

Act I Pygmalion 107 

the plinth of the column^ sorting her flowers, on the ladfs right. 
She is not at all an attractive person. She is perhaps eighteen, 
perhaps twenty, hardly older. She wears a little sailor hat of 
black straw that has long been exposed to the dust and soot of 
London and has seldom if ever been brushed. Her hair needs 
washing rather badly : its mousy color can hardly be natural. 
She wears a shoddy black coat that reaches nearly to her knees 
and is shaped to her waist. She has a brown skirt with a 
coarse apron. Her boots are much the worse for wear. She is 
no doubt as clean as she can afford to be; but compared to the 
ladies she is very dirty. Her features are no worse than theirs ; 
but their condition leaves something to be desired; and she needs 
the services of a dentist^ 

THE MOTHER. How do you IcHow that my son's name is 
Freddy, pray ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Ow, ccz ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd 
dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to 
spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin. Will 
ye-00 py me f 'thero ? \_Here, with apologies, this desperate 
attempt to represent her dialect without a phonetic alphabet must 
be abandoned as unintelligible outside London\. 

THE DAUGHTER. Do nothing of the sorr, mother. The 
idea ! 

THE MOTHER. Please allow me, Clara. Have you any 
pennies ? 

THE DAUGHTER. No. Ive nothing smaller than six- 

THE FLOWER GIRL [hopcfuily'] I Can gi\'e you change for a 
tanner, kind lady. 

THE MOTHER \_to Clara'] Give it to me. [Clara parts re- 
luctantly]. Now \to the girl] This is for your flowers. 

THE FLOWER oiRL. Thank you kindly, lady. 

THE DAUGHTER. Make her give you the change. These 
things are only a penny a bunch. 

THE MOTHER. Do hold your tongue, Clara. [To the girl] 
You can keep the change. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Oh, thank you, lady. 

io8 Pygmalion Act i 

THE MOTHER. Now tcll mc how you know that young 
gentleman's name. 


THE MOTHER. I heard you call him by it. Dont try to 
deceive me. 

THE FLOWER GIRL \_protest'iTig] Whos trying to deceive you ? 
I called him Freddy or Charlie same as you might yourself 
if you was talking to a stranger and wished to be pleasant. 
[5/^ sits down beside her basket\. 

THE DAUGHTER. Sixpcncc thrown away ! Really, mamma, 
you might have spared Freddy that. [5/^ retreats in disgust 
behind the pillar\ 

An elderly gentleman of the amiable military type rushes into 
shelter^ and closes a dripping umbrella. He is in the same plight 
as Freddy, very wet about the ankles. He is in evening dress, 
with a light overcoat. He takes the place left vacant by the 
daughter'' s retirement. 


THE MOTHER \to the gcntkman'l Oh, sir, is there any sign 
of its stopping ? 

THE GENTLEMAN. I'm afraid not. It started worse than 
ever about two minutes ago \he goes to the plinth beside the 
flozucr girl; puts up his foot on it; and stoops to turn down his 
trouser ends]. 

THE MOTHER. Oh dear! [She retires sadly and joins her 

THE FLOWER GIRL [taking advantage of the military gentle- 
man's proximity to establish friendly relations with him] If 
it's worse, it's a sign it's nearly over. So cheer up. Captain ; 
and buy a flower cff a poor girl. 

THE GENTLEMAN. I'm sorry. I havnt any change. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. I cau give you change. Captain. 

THE GENTLEMAN. For a Sovereign? Ive nothing less. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Gam ! Oh do buy a flower off me. 
Captain. I can change half-a-crown. Take this for tup- 

THE GENTLEMAN. Now dout bc troublcsomc : theresagood 

Act I Pygmalion 109 

girl. [Trying his pockets] I really havnt any change — Stop : 
heres three hapence, if thats any use to you [he retreats to 
the other pillar], 

THE FLOWER GIRL [disappointed, but thinking three halfpence 
better than nothing] Thank you, sir. 

THE BYSTANDER [to the girl] You be careful : give him a 
flower for it. Theres a bloke here behind taking down every 
blessed word youre saying. [All turn to the man who is taking 

THE FLOWER GIRL [springing up terrified] I aint done nothing 
wrong by speaking to the gentleman. Ive a right to sell 
flowers if I keep ofi^ the kerb. [Hysterically] I'm a respect- 
able girl : so help me, I never spoke to him except to ask 
him to buy a flower ofi^ me. [General hubbub, mostly sympa- 
thetic to the flower girl, but deprecatifig her excessive sensibility. 
Cries o/"Dont start hoUerin. Whos hurting you ? Nobody's 
going to touch you. Whats the good of fussing? Steady 
on. Easy easy, etc., come from the elderly staid spectators, who 
pat her comfortingly. Less patient ones bid her shut her head, 
or ask her roughly what is wrong with her. A remoter group, 
not knowing what the matter is, crowd in and increase the 
noise with question and answer: Whats the row? Whatshe 
do? Where is he? A tec taking her down. What! him? 
Yes : him over there : Took money off the gentleman, etc. 
The flower girl, distraught and mobbed, breaks through them to 
the gentleman, crying wildly] Oh, sir, dont let him charge 
me. You dunno what it means to me. Theyll take away 
my character and drive me on the streets for speaking to 
gentlemen. They — 

THE NOTE TAKER [coming forward on her right, the rest crowd- 
ing after him] There, there, there, there ! whos hurting you, 
you silly girl? What do you take me for? 

THE BYSTANDER. It's all right : hes a gentleman : look at 
his boots. [Explaining to the note taker] She thought you 
was a copper's nark, sir. 

THE NOTE TAKER [with quick interest] Whats a copper's 
nark ? 

iio Pygmalion Act I 

THE BYSTANDER \_i?jc!pt at defittitmi] It's a — well, it's a 
copper's nark, as you might say. What else would you call 
it ? A sort of informer. 

THE FLOWER GIRL \_still hysterical'] I take my Bible oath I 
never said a word — 

THE NOTE TAKER \overbearing "but good- humored] Oh, shut 
up, shut up. Do I look like a policeman ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL \_farfrom reassured] Then what did you 
take down my words for ? How do I know whether you 
took me down right? You just shew me what youve wrote 
about me. [The note taker opens his book and holds it steadily 
under her nose, though the pressure of the mob trying to read it 
over his shoulders tvculd upset a weaker man]. Whats that ? 
That aint proper writing. I cant read that. 

THE NOTE TAKER. I Can. [Reads, reproducing her pronuncia- 
tion exactly] " Cheer ap, Keptin ; n' baw ya flahr orf a 
pore gel." 

THE FLOWER GIRL \much distressed^ It's because I called 
him Captain. I meant no harm. \To the gentleman] Oh, sir, 
dont let him lay a charge agen me for a word like that. 

THE GENTLEMAN. Charge! I make no charge. \To the 
note taker] Really, sir, if you are a detective, you need 
not begin protecting me against molestation by young 
women until I ask you. Anybody could see that the girl 
meant no harm. 

THE BYSTANDERS GENERALLY [demonstrating against police 
espionage] Course they could. What business is it of yours? 
You mind your own affairs. He wants promotion, he does. 
Taking down people's words ! Girl never said a word to him. 
What harm if she did? Nice thing a girl cant shelter 
from the rain without being insulted, etc., etc., etc. [Zhe is 
conducted by the more sympathetic demonstrators back to her 
plinth, where she resumes her seat and struggles with her 

THE BYSTANDER. He aint a tcc. Hes a blooming busybody: 
thats what he is. I tell you, look at his boots. 

Act I Pygmalion 1 1 1 

THE NOTE TAKER \turning OTi Mm genially'] And how are all 
your people down at Selsey? 

THE BYSTANDER [suspictously'] Who told you my people 
come from Selsey? 

THE NOTE TAKER. Nevcr you mind. They did. [To the 
gir/] How do you come to be up so far east? You were 
born in Lisson Grove. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [appalled] Oh, what harm is there in 
my leaving Lisson Grove ? It wasnt fit for a pig to live in ; 
and I had to pay four-and-six a week. [In tears] Oh, boo 
— hoo — 00 — 

THE NOTE TAKER. Livc wherc yoU like ; but stop that noise. 

THE GENTLEMAN [to the girl] Come, come ! he cant touch 
you : you have a right to live where you please. 

A SARCASTIC BYSTANDER [thrustiug himself between the note 
taker and the gentleman] Park Lane, for instance. Id like 
to go into the Housing Question with you, I would. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [subsiding into a brooding melancholy over 
her basket, and talking very low-spiritedly to herself] I'm a 
good girl, I am. 

THE SARCASTIC BYSTANDER [tiot attending to her] Do you 
know where / come from ? 

THE NOTE TAKER [promptly] Hoxton. 

Titterings. Popular interest in the note taker's performance 

THE SARCASTIC ONE [amaxed] Well, who said I didnt ? Bly 
me! You know everything, you do. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [stUl nursing her sense of injury] Aint no 
call to meddle with me, he aint. 

THE BYSTANDER [to her] Of coursc he aint. Dont you stand 
it from him. [To the note taker] See here : what call have 
you to know about people what never offered to meddle 
with you? Wheres your warrant? 

SEVERAL BYSTANDERS [encouraged by this seeming point oflazv] 
Yes: wheres your warrant? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Let him say what he likes. I dont want 
to have no truck with him. 

1 1 2 Pygmalion Act i 

THE BYSTANDER. You take US for dirt under your feet, dont 
you? Catch you taking liberties with a gentleman ! 

THE SARCASTIC BYSTANDER. Ycs : tell him whcrc he come 
from if you want to go fortune-telling. 

THE NOTE TAKER. Cheltenham, Harrow, Cambridge, and 

THE GENTLEMA!<i. (^^^'^^ right. \_Great laughter. Reaction 
in the note taker's favor. Exclamations o/'He knows all about 
it. Told him proper. Hear him tell the toft" where he come 
from? etc.]. May I ask, sir, do you do this for your living 
at a music hall ? 

THE NOTE TAKER. Ivc thought of that. Perhaps I shall 
some day. 

The rain has stopped ; and the persons on the outside of the 
crowd begin to drop off. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [resenting tlie reaction] Hes no gentle- 
man, he aint, to interfere with a poor girl. 

THE DAUGHTER [out o/ pdtiencc, pushing her way rudely to 
the front and displacing the gentleman, who politely retires 
to the other side of the pillar'\ What on earth is Freddy 
doing? I shall get pneumonia if I stay in this draught any 

THE NOTE TAKER [to himsclf hastily making a note of her 
pronunciation of'''-monia^'''\ Earlscourt. 

THE DAUGHTER [violently^ Will you please keep your im- 
pertinjent remarks to yourself. 

THE NOTE TAKER. Did I Say that out loud? I didnt mean 
to. I beg your pardon. Your mother's Epsom, unmistake- 

THE MOTHER [advancing between her daughter and the note 
taker'] How very curious ! I was brought up in Largelady 
Park, near Epsom. 

THE NOTE TAKER [uproariously amused] Ha! ha! What a 
devil of a name ! Excuse me. [To the daughter] You want 
a cab, do you ? 

THE DAUGHTER. Dont dare speak to me. 

THE MOTHER. Oh plcase, please, Clara. [Her daughter 

Act I Pygmalion 1 1 3 

repudiates her with an angry shrug and retires haughtil'f\. We 
should be so grateful to you. sir, if you found us a cab. 
\The note taker produces a zvhistle\. Oh, thank you. \She 
joins her daughter\ 

The note taker blows a piercing blast. 

THE SARCASTIC BYSTANDER. Thcrc ! I knowed he was a 
plain-clothes copper. 

THE BYSTANDER. That aint. a police whistle : thats a sport- 
ing whistle. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [sttll preoccupied with her wounded feel- 
ings'] Hes no right to take away my character. My character 
is the same to me as any lady's. 

THE NOTE TAKER. I dont kuow whether youve noticed it; 
but the rain stopped about two minutes ago. 

THE BYSTANDER. So it has. Why didnt you say so before? 
and us losing our time listening to your silliness ! \^He walks 
off towards the Strand]. 

THE SARCASTIC BYSTANDER. I cau tell whcrc you comc 
from. You come from Anwell. Go back there. 

THE NOTE TAKER [^helpfully] //anwell. 

THE SARCASTIC BYSTANDER [^affecting great distinction of 
speech] Thenk you, teacher. Haw haw ! So long \he touches 
his hat with mock respect and strolls off]. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Frightening people like that ! How 
would he like it himself? 

THE MOTHER It's quite fine now, Clara. We can walk to 
a motor bus. Come. \She gathers her skirts above her ankles 
and hurries off towards the Strand], 

THE DAUGHTER. But the cab — [her mother is out of hearing]. 
Oh, how tiresome ! [She follows angrily]. 

All the rest have gone except the note taker, the gentleman, 
and the flower girl, who sits arranging her basket, and still pity- 
ing herself in murmurs. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Poor girl ! Hard enough for her to live 
without being worrited and chivied. 

THE GENTLEMAN [returning to his former place on the note 
taker's left] How do you do it, if I may ask ? 

114 Pygmalion Act I 

THE NOTE TAKER. Simply phonctics. The science of 
speech. Thats my profession: also my hobby. Happy is 
the man who can make a living by his hobby! You can 
spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. / can 
place any man within six miles. I can place him within two 
miles in London. Sometimes within two streets. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Ought to bc ashamcd of himself, un- 
manly coward ! 

THE GENTLEMAN. But is thcic a Hving in that? 
THE NOTE TAKER. Oh ycs. Quitc a fat onc. This is an age 
of upstarts. Men begin in Kentish Town with j^8o a year, 
and end in Park Lane with a hundred thousand. They 
want to drop Kentish Town ; but they give themselves 
away every time they open their mouths. Now I can teach 
them — 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Let him mind his own business and 
leave a poor girl — 

THE NOTE TAKER [explosively'] Woman : cease this detest- 
able boohooing instantly; or else seek the shelter of some 
other place of worship. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [witk feeble defiance'] Ive a right to be 
here if I like, same as you. 

THE NOTE TAKER. A woman who utters such depressing 
and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere — ^^no 
right to live. Remember that you are a human being with 
a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech : that your 
native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton 
and The Bible ; and dont sit there crooning like a bilious 

THE FLOWER GIRL \quite Overwhelmed, looking up at him in 
mingled wonder and deprecation without daring to raise her 
head] Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo ! 

THE NOTE TAKER \w hipping out his hook] Heavens ! what 
a sound! [He writes; then holds out the book and reads, re- 
producing her vowels exactly] Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo ! 

THE FLOWER GIRL [tickkd by the performance, and laughing 
in spite of herself] Garn ! 

Act I Pygmalion 1 1 5 

THE NOTE TAKER. You scc this crcaturc with her kerb-- 
stone English : the English that will keep her in the gutter 
to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could 
pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden 
party. I could even get her a place as lady's maid or shop 
assistant, which requires better English. Thats the sort of 
thing I do for commercial millionaires. And on the 
profits of it I do genuine scientific work in phonetics, 
and a little as a poet on Miltonic lines. 

THE GENTLEMAN. I am myself a student of Indian dia- 
lects ; and — 

THE NOTE TAKER [eagerly] Are you? Do you know Colonel 
Pickering, the author of Spoken Sanscrit ? 

THE GENTLEMAN. I am Colonel Pickering. Who are you.? 

THE NOTE TAKER. Henry Higgins, author of Higgins's 
Universal Alphabet. 

PICKERING [zvith enthusiasm'] I came from India to meet 

HIGGINS. I was going to India to meet you. 

PICKERING. Where do you live } 

HIGGINS. 27A Wimpole Street. Come and see m.e to- 

PICKERING. I'm at the Carlton. Come with me now and 
lets have a jaw over some supper. 

HIGGINS. Right you are. 

THE FLOWER GIRL \_to Pickering, as he passes her] Buy a 
flower, kind gentleman. I'm short for my lodging. 

PICKERING. I really havnt any change. I'm sorry [he 
goes away].. 

HIGGINS [shocked at the girPs mendacity] Liar. You said 
you could change half-a-crown. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [rising in desperation] You ought to be 
stuffed with nails, you ought. [Flinging the basket at his 
feet] Take the whole blooming basket for sixpence. 

The church clock strikes the second quarter. 

HIGGINS [hearing in it the voice of God, rebuking him for 
his Pharisaic want of charity to the poor girl] A reminder. 

1 1 6 Pygmalion Act I 

\^He raises his hat solemnly ; then throws a handful of money into 
the basket and follows Pickering']. 

THE FLOWER GIRL [picking Up a half-crown] Ah-o\v-ooh ! 
[Picking up a couple of for ins] Aaah-ow-ooh ! [Picking up 
several coins] Aaaaaah-ow-ooh ! [Picking up a half-sovereign] 
Aaaaaaaaaaaah-ow-ooh ! ! ! 

FREDDY [springing out of a taxlcab] Got one at last. 
Hallo! [To the girl] Where are the two ladies that were 
here ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. They Walked to the bus when the 
rain stopped. 

FREDDY. And left me with a cab on my hands ! Damna- 
tion ! 

THE FLOWER GIRL [with grandcur] Never you mind, young 
man. /'m going home in a taxi, [fihe sails off to the cab. 
The driver puts his hand behind him and holds the door firmly 
shut against her. Quite understanding his mistrust^ she shews 
him her handful of money]. Eightpence aint no object 
to me, Charlie. [He grins and opens the door]. Angel 
Court, Drury Lane, round the corner of Micklejohn's oil 
shop. Lets sec how fast you can make her hop it. [She 
gets in and pulls the door to with a slam as the taxicab starts]. 

FREDDY. Well, I'm dashed! 


Next day at 1 1 a.m. Higgins's laboratory in Wimpole 
Street. It is a room on the first floor, looking on the street, and 
was meant for the drawing-room. The double doors are in the 
middle of the back wall; and persons entering find in the 
corner to their right two tall file cabinets at right angles to 
07ie another against the walls. In this corner stands a fiat 
writing-table, on which are a phonograph, a laryngoscope, a 
row of tiny organ pipes with a bellows, a set of lamp chimneys 
for singing flames with burners attached to a gas plug in the 
wall by an indiarubber tube, several tuning-forks of different 
sixes, a life-size image of half a human head, shewing in section 
the vocal organs, and a box containing a supply of wax cylinders 
for the phonograph. 

Further down the room, on the same side, is a fireplace, with 
a comfortable leather-covered easy-chair at the side of the hearth 
nearest the door, and a coal-scuttle. There is a clock on the 
mantelpiece. Between the fireplace and the phonograph table 
is a stand for newspapers. 

On the other side of the central door, to the left of the visitor, 
is a cabinet of shallow drawers. On it is a telephone and the tele- 
phone directory. The corner beyond, and most of the side wall, 
is occupied by a grand piano, with the keyboard at the end 
furthest from the door, and a bench for the player extending 
the full length of the keyboard. On the piano is a dessert dish 
heaped with fruit and sweets, mostly chocolates. 

The middle of the room is clear. Besides the easy-chair, the 


1 1 8 Pygmalion Act li 

piano bench, and two chairs ai the phonograph table, there 
is one stray chair. It stands near t/ne fireplace. On the walls, 
engravings: mostly Piranesis and mezzotint portraits. No 

Pickering is seated at the table, putting down some cards and 
a tuning-fork which he has been using. Higgins is standing up 
near him, closing two or three file drazvers which are hanging 
out. He appears in the mor?iing light as a robust, vital, 
appetizing sort of man of forty or thereabouts, dressed in a 
professional-looking black frock-coat with a white linen collar 
and black silk tie. He is of the energetic, scietitific type, 
heartily, even violently interested in everything that can be 
studied as a scientific subject, and careless about himself and 
other people, including their feelings. He is, in fact, but for 
his years and size, rather like a very impetuous baby " taking 
notice" eagerly and loudly, and requiring almost as much watch- 
ing to keep him out of unintended mischief. His manner varies 
from genial bullying when he is in a good humor to stormy 
petulance when anything goes wrong; but he is so entirely 
frank and void of malice that he remains likeable even in his 
least reasonable moments. 

HIGGINS \as he shuts the last drawer'] Well, I think thats 
the whole show. 

PICKERING. It's really amazing. I havnt taken half of it 
in, you know. 

HIGGINS. Would you like to go over any of it again? 

piCKE-RiNG [rising and coming to the fireplace, where he plants 
himself with his back to the fire] No, thank you; not now. 
I'm quite done up for this morning. 

HIGGINS [following him, and standing beside him on his left] 
Tired of listening to sounds? 

PICKERING Yes. It's a fearful strain. I rather fancied 
myself because I can pronounce twenty-four distinct vowel 
sounds ; but your hundred and thirty beat me. I cant hear 
a bit of difference between most ot them. 

HIGGINS [chuckimg, and going over to the piano to eat sweets] 

Act II Pygmalion 119 

Oh, that comes with practice. You hear no diiFerence at 
first ; but you keep on listening, and presently you find 
theyre all as different as A from B, [Mrs Pearce looks in: 
she is Higginis housekeeper]. Whats the matter ? 

MRS PEARCE [hesitating, evidently perplexed] A young 
woman wants to see you, sir. 

HiGGiNS. A young woman ! What does she want? 

MRS PEARCE. Well, sir, she says youll be glad to see her 
when you know what shes come about. Shes quite a 
common girl, sir. Very common indeed. I should have 
sent her away, only I thought perhaps you wanted her to 
talk into your machines. I hope Ive not done wrong; but 
really you see such queer people sometimes — youll excuse 
me, I'm sure, sir — 

HIGGINS. Oh, thats all right, Mrs Pearce, Has she an 
interesting accent? 

MRS PEARCE. Oh, something dreadful, sir, really. I dont 
know how you can take an interest in it. 

HIGGINS [to Pickering] Lets have her up. Shew her up, 
Mrs Pearce [he rushes across to his working table and picks 
out a cylinder to use on the phonograph]. 

MRS PEARCE [only half resigned to it] Very well, sir. Its 
for you to say. [She goes downstairs]. 

HIGGINS. This is rather a bit of luck. I'll shew you how 
I make records. We'll set her talking; and I'll take it 
down first in Bell's visible Speech; then in broad Romic ; 
and then we'll get her on the phonograph so that you can 
turn her on as often as you like with the written transcript 
before you. 

MRS PEARCE [returning] This is the young woman, sir. 

The flower girl enters in state. She has a hat with three 
ostrich feathers, orange, sky-blue, and red. She has a nearly clean 
apron, and the shoddy coat has been tidied a little. The pathos 
of this deplorable figure, with its innocent vanity and conse- 
quential air, touches Pickering, who has already straightened 
himself in the presence of Mrs Pearce. But as to Higgins, 
the only distinction he makes between men and women is that 

I20 Pygmalion Act II 

when ke is neither bullying nor exclaiming to the heavens 
against some featherweight cross, he coaxes women as a child 
coaxes its nurse when it wants to get anything out of her. 

HiGGiNS \_brusquely, recognizing her with unconcealed dis- 
appointment, and at once, babylike, making an intolerable 
grievance of it\ Why, this is the girl I jotted down last 
night. Shes no use : Ive got all the records I want of the 
Lisson Grove lingo; and I'm not going to waste another 
cylinder on it. \To the girl\ Be off with you : I dont want 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Dont you bc SO saucy. You aint heard 
\vhat I come for yet. [ To Mrs Pearce, who is waiting at the 
door for further instructions'] Did you tell him I come in a 
taxi ? 

MRS PEARCE. Nonsensc, girl ! what do you think a gentle- 
man like Mr Higgins cares what you came in? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Oh, we are proud! He aint above 
giving lessons, not him : I heard him say so. Well, I aint 
come here to ask for any compliment; and if my money's 
not good enough I can go elsewhere. 

HIGGINS. Good enough for what? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Good cnough for ye-oo. Now you 
know, dont you ? I'm come to have lessons, I am. And 
to pay for em too : make no mistake. 

HIGGINS [stupent] Well!!! [Recovering his breath with a 
gasp] What do you expect me to say to you ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Well, if you was a gentleman, you 
might ask me to sit down, I think. Dont I tell you I'm 
bringing you business? 

HIGGINS. Pickering: shall we ask this baggage to sit 
down, or shall we throw her out of the window? 

THE FLOWER GIRL [running away in terror to the piano, 
where she turns at bay] Ah-ah-oh-ow-ow-ow-oo ! [Wounded 
and whimpering] I wont be called a baggage when Ive 
offered to pay like any lady. 

Motionless, the two men stare at her from the other side of the 
room, amazed. 

Act II Pygmalion 121 

PICKERING [gefit/y] What is it you want, my girl ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. I Want to be a lady in a flower shop 
stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. 
But they wont take me unless I can talk more genteel. 
He said he could teach me. Well, here I am ready to pay 
him — not asking any favor — and he treats me as if I was 

MRS PEARCE. How Can you be such a foolish ignorant girl 
as to think you could aiFord to pay Mr Higgins ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Why shouldnt I ? I know what lessons 
cost as well as you do; and I'm ready to pay. 

HIGGINS. How much ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL [coming back to him, triumphant] Now 
youre talking ! I thought youd come off it when you saw 
a chance of getting back a bit of what you chucked at me 
last night. {Confidentially] Youd had a drop in, hadnt you? 

HIGGINS [peremptorily] Sit down. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Oh, if youre going to make a compli- 
ment of it — 

HIGGINS [thundering at her] Sit down. 

MRS PEARCE [severely] Sit down, girl. Do as youre told. 
[She places the stray chair near the hearthrug between Higgins and 
Pickering, and stands behind it waiting for the girl to sit down]. 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-o'o ! [She stands, half 
rebellious, half bewildered]. 

PICKERING [very courteous] Wont you sit down ? 

LIZA [coy/y] Dont mind if I do. [She sits down. Pickering 
returns to the hearthrug]. 

HIGGINS. Whats your name ? 

THE FLOWER GIRL. Liza Doolittlc. 

HIGGINS [declaiming gravely] 

Eliza, Elizabeth, Betsy and Bess, 
They went to the woods to get a bird's nes' : 
PICKERING. They found a nest with four eggs in it : 
HIGGINS. They took one apiece, and left three in it. 

They laugh heartily at their ozvn wit. 

122 Pygmalion Act n 

LIZA. Oh, dont be silly. 

MRS PEARCE. You mustnt speak to the gentleman like that. 

LIZA, Well, why wont he speak sensible to me? 

HiGGiNS. Come back to business. How much do you 
propose to pay me for the lessons? 

LIZA. Oh, I know whats right. A lady friend of mine 
gets French lessons for eighteenpence an hour from a real 
French gentleman. Well, you wouldnt have the face to 
ask me the same for teaching me my own language as you 
would for French ; so I wont give more than a shilling. 
Take it or leave it. 

HIGGINS [walking up and down the room, rattling his keys 
a?id his cash in his pockets'] You know, Pickering, if you 
consider a shilling, not as a simple shilling, but as a per- 
centage of this girl's income, it works out as fully equiva- 
lent to sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire. 


HIGGINS. Figure it out. A millionaire has about j^i50 a 
day. She earns about half-a-crown. 

LIZA [haughtily'] Who told you I only — 

HIGGINS [continuing] She offers me two-fifths of her day's 
income for a lesson. Two-fifths of a millionaire's income 
for a day would be somewhere about £60. It's handsome. 
By George, it's enormous ! it's the biggest offer I ever had. 

LIZA [rising, terrifed] Sixty pounds ! What are you talk- 
ing about? I never offered you sixty pounds. Where 
would I get — 

HIGGINS. Hold your tongue. 

LIZA [weeping] But I aint got sixty pounds. Oh — 

MRS PEARCE. Dont Cry, you silly girl. Sit down. No- 
body is going to touch your money. 

HIGGINS. Somebody is going to touch you, with a broom- 
stick, if you dont stop snivelling. Sit down. 

LIZA [obeying slowly] Ah-ah-ah-ow-00-0 ! One would 
think you was my father. 

HIGGINS. If I decide to teach you, I'll be worse than two 
fathers to you. Here [he offers her his silk handkerchief] ! 

Act II Pygmalion 123 

LIZA. Whats this for? 

HiGGiNS. To wipe your eyes. To wipe any part of your 
face that feels moist. Remember : thats your handkerchief ; 
and thats your sleeve. Dont mistake the one for the other 
if you wish to become a lady in a shop. 

Liza, utterly bewildered, stares helplessly at him. 

MRS PEARCE. It's no use talking to her like that, Mr 
Higgins : she doesnt understand you. Besides, youre 
quite wrong : she doesnt do it that way at all \she takes the 
handker chief \ 

LIZA [snatching it] Here! You give me that handkerchief. 
He give it to me, not to you. 

PICKERING [laughing] He did. I think it must be regarded 
as her property, Mrs Pearce. 

MRS PEARCE [resigning herself] Serve you right, Mr Higgins. 

PICKERING. Higgins : I'm interested. What about the 
ambassador's garden party? I'll say youre the greatest 
teacher alive if you make that good. I'll bet you all the 
expenses of the experiment you cant do it. And I'll pay 
for the lessons. 

LIZA. Oh, you are real good. Thank you, Captain. 

HIGGINS [tempted, looking at her] It's almost irresistible. 
Shes so deliciously low — so horribly dirty — 

LIZA [protesting extremely] Ah-ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo-oo ! ! ! 
I aint dirty : I washed my face and hands afore I come, I did. 

PICKERING. Youre certainly not going to turn her head 
with flattery, Higgins. 

MRS PEARCE [uneasy] Oh, dont say that, sir: theres 
more ways than one of turning a girl's head ; and nobody 
can do it better than Mr Higgins, though he may not 
always mean it. I do hope, sir, you wont encourage him to 
do anything foolish. 

HIGGINS [becoming excittd as the idea grows on him] What 
is life but a series of inspired follies ? The difficulty is to 
find them to do. Never lose a chance : it doesnt come 
everyday. I shall make a duchess of this draggletailed 

124 Pygmalion Act II 

LIZA [strongly deprecating this view of her~\ Ah-ah-ah-ow- 
ow-oo ! 

HiGGiNS \carried awa-p^ Yes : in six months — in three if 
she has a good ear and a quick tongue — I'll take her any- 
where and pass her ofF as anything. We'll start to-day: 
now! this moment! Take her away and clean her, Mrs 
Pearce. Monkey Brand, if it wont come off any other 
way. Is there a good fire in the kitchen ? 

MRS PEARCE \^rotesting\ Yes; but — 

HIGGINS [storming on] Take all her clothes ofF and burn 
them. Ring up Whiteley or somebody for new ones. Wrap 
her up in brown paper til they come. 

LIZA. Youre no gentleman, youre not, to talk of such 
things. I'm a good girl, I am ; and I know what the like 
of you are, I do. 

HIGGINS. We want none of your Lisson Grove prudery 
nere, young woman. Youve got to learn to behave like a 
duchess. Take her away, Mrs Pearce. If she gives you any 
trouble, wallop her. 

LIZA [springing up and running between Pickering and Mrs 
Pearce for protection] No! I'll call the police, I will. 

MRS PEARCE. But Ive no place to put her. 

HIGGINS. Put her in the dustbin. 

LIZA. Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo ! 

PICKERING. Oh come, Higgins ! be reasonable. 

MRS PEARCE [resolutely] You must be reasonable, Mr 
Higgins: really you must. You cant walk over everybody 
like this. 

Higgins, thus scolded, subsides. The hurricane is succeeded 
by a zephyr of amiable surprise. 

HIGGINS [with professional exquisitencss of modulation] I 
walk over everybody ! My dear Mrs Pearce, my dear 
Pickering, I never had the slightest intention of walking 
over anyone. All I propose is that we should be kind to 
this poor girl. We must help her to prepare and fit herself 
for her new station in life. If I did not express myself clearly 
it was because I did not wish to hurt her delicacy, or yours. 

Act II Pygmalion 125 

Liza, reassured, steals back to her chair. 

MRS PEARCE \to Pickering] Well, did you ever hear any- 
thing like that, sir ? 

PICKERING \laughing heartily] Never, Mrs Pearce : never. 

HiGGiNs [patiently] Whats the matter? 

MRS PEARCE. Well, the matter is, sir, that you cant take 
a girl up like that as if you were picking up a pebble on 
the beach. 

HIGGINS. Why not? 

MRS PEARCE. Why not ! But you dont know anything 
about her. What about her parents? She may be married. 

LIZA. Garn ! 

HIGGINS. There ! As the girl very properly says, Garn ! 
Married indeed ! Dont you know that a woman of that 
class looks a worn out drudge of fifty a year after shes 
married ? 

LIZA. Whood marry me? 

HIGGINS [suddenly resorting to the most thrillingly beautiful 
low tones in his best elocutionary style] By George, Eliza, the 
Streets will be strewn with the bodies of men shooting 
themselves for your sake before Ive done with you. 

MRS PEARCE. Nouseuse, sir. You mustnt talk like that 
to her. 

LIZA [rising and squaring herself determinedly] I'm going 
away. He's off his chump, he is. I dont want no balmies 
teaching me. 

HIGGINS [wounded in his tenderest point by her insensibility 
to his elocution] Oh, indeed ! I'm mad, am I ? Very well, 
Mrs Pearce : you neednt order the new clothes for her. 
Throw her out. 

LIZA [whimpering] Nah-ow. You got no right to touch me. 

MRS PEARCE. You sec uow what comes of being saucy. 
[Indicating the door] This way, please. 

LIZA [almost in tears] 1 didnt want no clothes. I wouldnt 
have taken them [she throws away the handkerchief]. I can 
buy my own clothes. 

HIGGINS [deftly retrieving the handkerchief and intercepting 



126 Pygmalion Act II 

her on her reluctant way to the door\ Youre an ungrateful wicked 
girl. This is my return for offering to take you out of the 
gutter and dress you beautifully and make a lady of you. 

MRS PEARCE. Stop, Mr. Higgins. I wont allow it. It's 
you that are wicked. Go home to your parents, girl ; and 
tell them to take better care of you. 

LIZA. I aint got no parents. They told me I was big 
enough to earn my own living and turned me out. 

MRS PEARCE. Wheres your mother? 

LIZA. I aint got no mother. Her that turned me out 
was my sixth stepmother. But I done without them. And 
I'm a good girl, I am. 

HIGGINS. Very well, then, what on earth is all this fuss 
about? The girl doesnt belong to anybody — is no use to 
anybody but me. \He goes to Mrs Pearce and begins coax- 
ing.'\ You can adopt her, Mrs Pearce : I'm sure a daughter 
would be a great amusement to you. Now dont make any 
more fuss. Take her downstairs; and — 

MRS PEARCE. But whats to become of her? Is she to be 
paid anything? Do be sensible, sir. 

HIGGINS. Oh, pay her whatever is necessary : put it down 
in the housekeeping book. \_Impatientlf\ What on earth 
will she want with money ? She'll have her food and her 
clothes. She'll only drink if you give her money. 

LIZA [^turning on him'\ Oh you are a brute. It's a lie : 
nobody ever saw the sign of liquor on me. [She goes back 
to her chair and plants herself there defiant lj\. 

PICKERING [/;; good-humored remonstrance'\ Does it occur 
to you, Higgins, that the girl has some feelings ? 

HIGGINS [looking critically at her] Oh no, I dont think so. 
Not any feelings that we need bother about. [Cheerily] 
Have you, Eliza? 

LIZA. I got my feelings same as anyone else. 

HIGGINS [to Pickering, refiectiz'ely] You see tha difficulty? 

PICKERING. Eh? What difficulty? 

HIGGINS. To get her to talk grammar. The mere pro- 
nunciation is easy enough. 

Act II Pygmalion 127 

LIZA. 1 dont want to talk grammar. I want to talk like 
a lady. 

MRS PEARCE. Will you please keep to the point, Mr 
Higgins. I want to know on what terms the girl is to be 
here. Is she to have any wages.? And what is to become 
of her when youve finished your teaching? You must look 
ahead a little. 

HIGGINS [impatieni/y] Whats to become of her if I leave 
her in the gutter? Tell me that, Mrs Pearce. 

MRS PEARCE. ^Thats her own business, not yours, Mr 

HIGGINS. Well, when Ive done with her, we can throw 
her back into the gutter; and then it will be her own 
business again ; so thats all right. 

LIZA. Oh, youve no feeling heart in you : you dont care 
for nothing but yourself [s/?e rises and takes the floor resol- 
utely\ Here ! Ive had enough of this. I'm going [making 
for the door'\. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you 

HIGGINS [snatching a chocolate cream from the piano, his 
eyes suddenly beginning to twinkle with mischief] Have some 
chocolates, Eliza. 

LIZA [halting, tempted^ How do I know what might be in 
them? Ive heard of girls being drugged by the like of you. 

Higgins whips out his penknife ; cuts a chocolate in two ; 
puts one half into his mouth and bolts it ; and offers her the 
other half. 

HIGGINS. Pledge of good faith, Eliza. I eat one half: 
you eat the other. [Liza opens her mouth to retort : he 
pops the half chocolate into it\ You shall have boxes of 
them, barrels of them, every day. You shall live on 
them. Eh? 

LIZA [who has disposed of the chocolate afier being nearly 
choked by it] I wouldnt have ate it, only I'm too ladylike 
to take it out of my mouth. 

HIGGINS. Listen, Eliza. I think you said you came in a 

128 Pygmalion Act II 

LIZA. Well, what if I did? Ive as good a right to take a 
taxi as anyone else. 

HiGGiNS. You have, Eliza; and in future you shall have 

as many taxis as you vi^ant. You shall go up and down and 

round the town in a taxi every day. Think of that, Eliza. 

MRS PEARCE. Mr Higgins : youre tempting the girl. It's 

not right. She should think of the future. 

HIGGINS. At her age ! Nonsense ! Time enough to think 
of the future when you havnt any future to think of. No, 
Eliza : do as this lady does : think of other people's futures ; 
but never think of your own. Think of chocolates, and 
taxis, and gold, and diamonds. 

LIZA. No : I dont want no gold and no diamonds. I'm a 
good girl, I am. [SSe sits down again ^ with an at temp at dignity']. 
HIGGINS. You shall remain so, Eliza, under the care of Mrs 
Pearce. And you shall marry an officer in the Guards, with 
a beautiful moustache : the son of a marquis, who will dis- 
inherit him for marrying you, but will relent when he sees 
your beauty and goodness — 

PICKERING. Excuse me, Higgins; but I really must inter- 
fere. Mrs Pearce is quite right. If this girl is to put herself 
in your hands for six months for an experiment in teaching, 
she must understand thoroughly what shes doing. 

HIGGINS. How can she? Shes incapable of understanding 
anything. Besides, do any of us understand what we are 
doing? If we did, would we ever do it? 

PICKERING. Very clever, Higgins; but not sound sense. 
[To Eliza'] Miss Doolittle — 

LIZA, [overwhelmed] Ah-ah-ow-oo ! 

HIGGINS. There ! Thats all youll get out of Eliza. Ah- 
ah-ow-oo ! No use explaining. As a military man you ought 
to know that. Give her her orders: thats what she wants. 
Eliza : you are to live here for the next six months, learning 
how to speak beautifully, like a lady in a florist's shop, li 
youre good and do whatever youre told, you shall sleep in 
a proper bedroom, and have lots to eat, and money to buy 
chocolates and take rides in taxis. If youre naughty and 

Act II Pygmalion 129 

idle you will sleep in the back kitchen among the black 
beetles, and be walloped by Mrs Pearce with a broomstick. 
At the end of six months you shall go to Buckingham Palace 
in a carriage, beautifully dressed. If the King finds out 
youre not a lady, you will be taken by the police to the 
Tower of London, where your head will be cut off as ^ 
warning to other presumptuous flower girls. If you are not 
found out, you shall have a present of seven-and-sixpence 
to start life with as a lady in a shop. If you refuse this offer 
you will be a most ungrateful and wicked girl; and the 
angels will weep for you. [To Pickering] Now are you 
satisfied, Pickering.^ [To Mrs Pearce] Can I put it more 
plainly and fairly, Mrs Pearce.? 

MRS PEARCE [patietit/y] I think youd better let me speak 
to the girl properly in private. I dont know that I can take 
charge of her or consent to the arrangement at all. Of 
course I know you dont mean her any harm ; but when you 
get what you call interested in people's accents, you never 
think or care what may happen to them or you. Come 
with me, Eliza. 

HiGGiNS. Thats all right. Thank you, Mrs Pearce. 
Bundle her off to the bath-room. 

LIZA [rising reluctantly and suspiciously] Youre a great bully, 
you are. I wont stay here if I dont like. I wont let no- 
body wallop me. I never asked to go to Bucknam Palace, 
I didnt. I was never in trouble with the police, not me. I'm 
a good girl — 

MRS PEARCE. Dont answcr back, girl. You dont under- 
stand the gentleman. Come with me. [^he leads the way to 
the door, and holds it open for Eliza]. 

LIZA [as she goes out] Well, what I say is right. I wont 
go near the king, not if I'm going to have my head cut off. 
If I'd known what I was letting myself in for, I wouldnt 
have come here. I always been a good girl ; and I never 
offered to say a word to him; and I dont owe him nothing; 
and I dont care; and I wont be put upon; and I have my 
feelings the same as anyone else — 

130 Pygmalion Act II 

Mrs Pearce shuts the door; and Eliza^s plaints are no longer 
•Hudible. Pickering comes from the hearth to the chair and sits 
•astride it with his arms on the back. 

PICKERING. Excuse the straight question, Higgins. Are 
;you a man of good character where women are concerned ? 

tiiGGiNS \_moodily'\ Have you ever met a man of good 
character where women are concerned? 

PICKERING. Yes: very frequently. 

HiGGiNS [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to the level 
of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce'\ Well, I havnt. 
I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, 
she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned 
nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends 
with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women 
upset everything. When you let them into your life, you 
find that the woman is driving at one thing and youre 
driving at another. 

PICKERING. At what, for example ^ 

HIGGINS [coming off the piano restlesslf\ Oh, Lord knows! 
I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the 
man wants to live his ; and each tries to drag the other on 
to the wrong track. One wants to go north and the other 
south; and the result is tliat both have to go east, though 
they both hate the east wind. [He sits down on the bench at 
the keyboard\ So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and 
likely to remain so. 

PICKERING [rising and standing over him gravely'\ Come, 
Higgins! You know what I mean. If I'm to be in this 
business I shall feel responsible for that girl. I hope it's 
understood that no advantage is to be taken of her position. 

HIGGINS. What! That thing! Sacred, I assure you. 
[Rising to explai/i] You see, she'll be a pupil ; and teach- 
ing would be impossible unless pupils were sacred. Ive 
taught scores of American millionairesses how to speak 
English : the best looking women in the world. I'm 
seasoned. They might as well be blocks of wood. / might 
as well be a block of wood. It's — 

Act II Pygmalion 1 3 1 

Mrs Pearce opens the door. She has Eliza's hat in her hand. 
Pickering retires to the easy chair at the hearth and sits down. 

HiGGiNS \eagerly\ Well, Mrs Pearce : is it all right? 

MRS PEARCE \at the door] I just wish to trouble you with 
a word, if I may, Mr Higgins. 

HIGGINS. Yes, certainly. Come in. [She comes forzvard\ 
Dont burn that, Mrs Pearce. I'll keep it as a curiosity. 
\_He takes the hat\ 

MRS PEARCE. Handle it carefully, sir, please. I had to 
promise her not to burn it; but I had better put it in the 
oven for a while. 

HIGGINS \j>utting it down hastily on the piano'] Oh ! thank 
you. Well, what have you to say to me? 

PICKERING. Am I in the way? 

MRS PEARCE. Not at all, sir. Mr Higgins; will you please 
be very particular what you say before the girl? 

HIGGINS [sternly] Of course. I'm always particular about 
what I say. Why do you say this to me ? 

MRS PEARCE [unmoved] No, sir : youre not at all particular 
when youve mislaid anything or when you get a little im- 
patient. Now it doesnt matter before me: I'm used to it. 
But you really must not swear before the girl. 

H\GGivi% [indignantly] /swear! [Most emphatic iilly] I never 
swear. I detest the habit. What the devil do you mean? 

MRS PEARCE [stoUdlj] Thats what I mean, sir. You swear 
a great deal too much. I dont mind your damning and 
blasting, and what the devil and where the devil and 
who the devil — 

HIGGINS. Mrs Pearce : this language from your lips ! 

MRS PEARCE [not to he put off] — but there is a certain word 
I must ask you not to use. The girl has just used it herself 
because the bath was too hot. It begins with the same 
letter as bath. She Tinows no better: she learnt it at her 
mother's knee. But she must not hear it from your lips. 

HIGGINS [loftily] I cannot charge myself with having ever 
uttered it, Mrs Pearce. [She looks at him steadfastly. He 

132 Pygmalion Act li 

adds^ hiding an uneasy conscience with a judicial a\r\ Except 
perhaps in a moment of extreme and justifiable excite- 

MRS PEARCE. Only this morning, sir, you applied it to 
your boots, to the butter, and to the brown bread. 

HiGGiNs. Oh, that ! Mere alliteration, Mrs Pearce, 
natural to a poet. 

MRS PEARCE. Well, Sir, whatever you choose to call it, I 
beg you not to let the girl hear you repeat it. 

HIGGINS. Oh, very well, very well. Is that all? 

MRS PEARCE. No, sir. Wc shall have to be very particular 
with this girl as to personal cleanliness. 

HIGGINS. Certainly. Quite right. Most important. 

MRS PEARCE. I mean not to be slovenly about her dress 
or untidy in leaving things about. 

HIGGINS \going to her solemnly'] Just so, I intended to call 
your attention to that. \^Hc passes on to Pickering, who is 
enjoying the conversation immensely]. It is these little things 
that matter, Pickering. Take care of the pence and the 
pounds will take care of themselves is as true of personal 
habits as of money. [//<? comes to anchor on the hearthrug, 
with the air of a man in an unassailable position]. 

MRS PEARCE. Ycs, sir. Then might I ask you not to 
come down to breakfast in your dressing-gown, or at 
any rate not to use it as a napkin to the extent you do, 
sir. And if you would be so good as not to eat every- 
thing off the same plate, and to remember not to put the 
porridge saucepan out of your hand on the clean table- 
cloth, it would be a better example to the girl. You know 
you nearly choked yourself with a fishbone in the jam only 
last week. 

HIGGINS \routed from the hearthrug and drifting bach to the 
piano] I may do these things sometimes in absence of mind; 
but surely I dont do them habitually. \_Angrily] By the 
way: my dressing-gown smells most damnably of benzine. 
MRS PEARCE. No douht it does, Mr Higgins. But if you 
will wipe your hngcrs — 

Act II Pygmalion 133 

HiGGiNs \_yelling\ Oh very well, very well : I'll wipe them 
in my hair in future. 

MRS PEARCE. I hope yourc not offended, Mr Higgins. 

HIGGINS {shocked at finding himself thought capable of an un- 
amiable sentiment'l Not at all, not at all. Youre quite right, 
Mrs Pearce : I shall be particularly careful before the girl. 
Is that all } 

MRS PEARCE. No, sir. Might she use some of those 
Japanese dresses you brought from abroad? I really cant 
put her back into her old things. 

HIGGINS. Certainly. Anything you like. Is that all? 

MRS PEARCE. Thank you, sir. Thats all. {She goes 

HIGGINS. You know, Pickering, that woman has the most 
extraordinary ideas about me. Here I am, a shy, diffident 
sort of man, Ive never been able to feel really grown-up 
and tremendous, like other chaps. And yet shes firmly 
persuaded that I'm an arbitrary overbearing bossing kind 
of person. I cant account for it. 

Mrs Pearce returns. 

MRS PEARCE. If you plcase, sir, the trouble's beginning 
already. Theres a dustman downstairs, Alfred Doolittle, 
wants to see you. He says you have his daughter here. 

PICKERING {rising] Phew ! I say ! {He retreats to the 

HIGGINS {promptly] Send the blackguard up. 

MRS PEARCE. Oh, Very well, sir. {She goes out]. 

PICKERING. He may not be a blackguard, Higgins. 

HIGGINS. Nonsense. Of course hes a blackguard. 

PICKERING. Whether he is or not, I'm afraid we shall 
have some trouble with him. 

HIGGINS {confidently] Oh no : I think not. If theres any 
trouble he shall have it with me, not I with him. And we 
are sure to get something interesting out of him. 

PICKERING. About the girl? 

HIGGINS. No. I mean his dialect. 


134 Pygmalion Act II 

MRS PEARCE [at tke door\ Doolittle, sir. [Bke admits Doo- 
little and retires\ 

Alfred Doolittle is an elderly but vigorous dustman, clad in 
the costume of his profession, including a hat with a back brim 
covering his neck and shoulders. He has well marked and 
rather interesting features, and seems equally free from fear 
and conscience. He has a remarkably expressive voice, the 
result of a habit of giving vent to his feelings without 
reserve. His present pose is that of wounded honor and stern 

DOOLITTLE \at the door, uncertain which of the two gentle- 
men is his man] Professor Higgins ? 

HiGGiNS. Here. Good morning. Sit down. 

DOOLITTLE. Morning, Governor. [He sits down magis- 
terially'] I come about a very serious matter. Governor. 

HIGGINS [to Pickering] Brought up in Hounslow. Mother 
Welsh, I should think. [Doolittle opens his mouth, amazed. 
Higgins continues] What do you want, Doolittle? 

DOOLITTLE [menacingly] I want my daughter : thats what 
I want. See ? 

HIGGINS. Of course you do. Youre her father, arnt you? 
You dont suppose anyone else wants her, do you ? I'm 
glad to see you have some spark of family feeling left. 
Shes upstairs. Take her away at once. 

DOOLITTLE [rising, fearfully taken aback] What ! 

HIGGINS. Take her away. Do you suppose I'm going to 
keep your daughter for you ? 

DOOLITTLE [remonstrating] Now, now, look here, Governor. 
Is this reasonable? Is it fairity to take advantage of a man 
like this? The girl belongs to me. You got her. Where 
do I come in ? [He sits down again]. 

HIGGINS. Your daughter had the audacity to come to my 
house and ask me to teach her how to speak properlv so 
that she could get a place in a flower-shop. This gentleman 
and my housekeeper have been here all the time. [Bullving 
him] How dare you come here and attempt to blackmail 
me? You sent her here on purpose. 

Act II Pygmalion 135 

DOOLiTTLE \j)rotestitig] No, Governor. 

HiGGiNS. You must have. How else could you possibly 
know that she is here? 

DOOLITTLE. Dont take a man up like that, Governor. 

HIGGINS. The police shall take you up. This is a plant 
— a plot to extort money by threats. I shall telephone for 
the police \_he goes resolutely to the telephone and opens the 

DOOLITTLE. Havc I askcd you for a brass farthing? I leave 
it to the gentleman here : have I said a word about money? 

HIGGINS \thro'wing the book aside and marching down on 
Doolittle with a poser] What else did you come for? 

DOOLITTLE [sweetly] Well, what would a man come for? 
Be human, Governor. 

HIGGINS [disarmed] Alfred : did you put her up to it.? 

DOOLITTLE. So help me. Governor, I never did. I take 
my Bible oath I aint seen the girl these two months past. 

HIGGINS. Then how did you know she was here? 

DOOLITTLE [" most musical, most melancholy "] I'll tell 
you, Governor, if youll only let me get a word in. I'm 
willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you. I'm waiting 
to tell you. 

HIGGINS. Pickering: this chap has a certain natural gift 
of rhetoric. Observe the rhythm of his native woodnotes 
wild. " I'm willing to tell you : I'm wanting to tell you : 
I'm waiting to tell you." Sentimental rhetoric ! thats the 
Welsh strain in him. It also accounts for his mendacity 
and dishonesty. 

PICKERING. Oh, please, Higgins : I'm west country 
myself. \To Doolittle] How did you know the girl was 
here if you didnt send her? 

DOOLITTLE. It was like this. Governor. The girl took a 
boy in the taxi to give him a jaunt. Son of her landlady, 
he is. He hung about on the chance of her giving him 
another ride home. Well, she sent him back for her lug- 
gage when she heard you was willing for her to stop here. 
1 met the boy at the corner of Long Acre and Endell Street. 

1^6 Pygmalion Act II 

HiGGiNS. Public house. Yes? 

DooLiTTLE. The pooT mail's club, Governor : why 
shouldnt I? 

PICKERING. Do let him tell his story, Higgins. 

DOOLITTLE. He told me what was up. And I ask you, 
what was my feelings and my duty as a father? I says to 
the boy, " You bring me the luggage," I says — 

PICKERING. Why didnt you go for it yourself? 

DOOLITTLE. Landlady wouldnt have trusted me with it. 
Governor. Shes that kind of woman : you know. I had 
to give the boy a penny afore he trusted me with it, the 
little swine. I brought it to her just to oblige you like, 
and make myself agreeable. Thats all. 

HIGGINS. How much luggage? 

DOOLITTLE. Musical instrument. Governor. A few pic- 
tures, a trifle of jewlery, and a bird-cage. She said she 
didnt want no clothes. What was I to think from that. 
Governor? I ask you as a parent what was I to think? 

HIGGINS. So you came to rescue her from worse than 
death, eh ? 

DOOLITTLE \_appreciatwely : relieved at being so zve /I under- 
stood^ Just so, Governor. Thats right. 

PICKERING. But why did you bring her luggage if you 
intended to take her away? 

DOOLITTLE. Havc I Said a word about taking her away? 
Have I now? 

HIGGINS [determinedly'] Youre going to take her away, 
double quick. [He crosses to the hearth and rings the 

DOOLITTLE [rising] No, Governor. Dont say that. I'm 
not the man to stand in my girl's light. Heres a career 
opening for her, as you might say ; and — 

Mrs Pearce opens the door and awaits orders. 

HIGGINS. Mrs Pearce : this is Eliza's father. He has come 
to take her away. Give her to him. [He goes back to the 
piano, with an air of washing his hands of the whole affair]. 

DOOLITTLE. No. This is a misunderstanding. Listen here — 

Act II Pygmalion 137 

MRS PEARCE. He cant take her away, Mr Higgins : how 
can he? You told me to burn her clothes. 

DOOLiTTLE. Thats right. I cant carry the girl through 
the streets like a blooming monkey, can I ? I put it to you. 

HIGGINS. You have put it to me that you want your 
daughter. Take your daughter. If she has no clothes go 
out and buy her some. 

DOOLITTLE [^desperate'\ Wheres the clothes she come in ? 
Did I burn them or did your missus here? 

MRS PEARCE. I am the housekeeper, if you please. I have 
sent for some clothes for your girl. When they come you 
can take her away. You can wait in the kitchen. This 
way, please. 

Doolittle, much troubled, accompanies her to the door ; then 
hesitates; finally turns confide?itially to Higgins. 

DOOLITTLE. Listen here, Governor. You and me is men 
of the world, aint we ? 

HIGGINS. Oh! Men of the world, are we? Youd better 
go, Mrs Pearce. 

MRS PEARCE. I think SO, indeed, sir. [She goes, with dignity']. 

PICKERING. The floor is yours, Mr Doolittle. 

DOOLITTLE \_to Pickering] I thank you, Governor. [To 
Higgins, who takes refuge on the piano bench, a little over- 
whelmed by the proximity of his visitor; for Doolittle has a 
professional favor of dust about him]. Well, the truth is, Ive 
taken a sort of fancy to you. Governor; and if you want 
the girl, I'm not so set on having her back home again but 
what I might be open to an arrangement. Regarded in the 
light of a young woman, shes a fine handsome girl. As a 
daughter shes not worth her keep ; and so I tell you straight. 
All I ask is my rights as a father ; and youre the last man 
alive to expect me to let her go for nothing ; for I can see 
youre one of the straight sort. Governor. Well, whats a five 
pound note to you? And whats Eliza to me? [He returns 
to his chair and sits down judicially]. 

■ PICKERING. I think you ought to know, Doolittle, that 
Mr Higgins's intentions are entirely honorable. 

i^S Pygmalion Act II 

DOOLiTTLE. Coursc they are, Governor. If I thought 
they wasnt. Id ask fifty. 

HiGGiNS [rcvo/teJ] Do you mean to say, you callous rascal, 
that you would sell your daughter for ^^50? 

DOOLITTLE. Not in a general way I wouldnt; but to 
oblige a gentleman like you I'd do a good deal, I do assure 

PICKERING. Have you no morals, man? 
DOOLITTLE [uNa/>as^eii] Cant afford them. Governor. 
Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I 
mean any harm, you know. But if Liza is going to have a 
bit out of this, why not me too? 

HIGGINS [troui/eal] I dont know what to do, Pickering. 
There can be no question that as a matter of morals it's a 
positive crime to give this chap a farthing. And yet I feel 
a sort of rough justice in his claim. 

DOOLITTLE. Thats it. Governor. Thats all I say. A father's 
heart, as it were. 

PICKERING. Well, I know the feeling ; but really it 
seems hardly right — 

DOOLITTLE. Dont Say that, Governor. Dont look at it 
that way. What am I, Governors both ? I ask you, what 
ami? I'm one of the undeserving poor: thats what I am. 
Think of what that means to a man. It means that hes up 
agcn middle class morality all the time. If theres any- 
thing going, and I put in for a bit of it, it's always the 
same story : " Youre undeserving; so you cant have it." 
But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow's that 
ever got money out of six different charities in one week for 
the death of the same husband. I dont need less than a 
deserving man: I need more. I dont eat less hearty than 
him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, 
cause I'm a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song 
and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just 
the same for everything as they charge the deserving. What 
is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving 
me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not 

Act II Pygmalion 139 

to play that game on me. I'm playing straight with you. 
I aint pretending to be deserving. I'm undeserving ; and I 
mean to go on being undeserving. I like it ; and thats the 
truth. Will you take advantage of a man's nature to do 
him out of the price of his own daughter what hes brought 
up and fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow until 
shes growed big enough to be interesting to you two 
gentlemen ? Is five pounds unreasonable ? I put it to you ; 
and I leave it to you. 

HiGGiNS [rising, and going over to Pickering] Pickering : 
if we were to take this man in hand for three months, he 
could choose between a seat in the Cabinet and a popular 
pulpit in Wales. 

PICKERING. What do you say to that, Doolittle? 

DOOLiTTLE, Not mc, Govemof, thank you kindly. Ive 
heard all the preachers and all the prime ministers — for I'm 
a thinking man and game for politics or religion or social 
reform same as all the other amusements — and I tell you 
it's a dog's life anyway you look at it. Undeserving poverty 
is my line. Taking one station in society with another, it's 
— it's — well, it's the only one that has any ginger in it, to 
my taste. 

HIGGINS. I suppose we must give him a fiver. 

PICKERING. He'll make a bad use of it, I'm afraid. 

DOOLITTLE. Not me. Governor, so help me I wont. 
Dont you be afraid that I'll save it and spare it and live 
idle on it. There wont be a penny of it left by Monday : 
I'll have to go to work same as if I'd never had it. It wont 
pauperize me, you bet. Just one good spree for myself and 
the missus, giving pleasure to ourselves and employment to 
others, and satisfaction to you to think it's not been throwed 
away. You couldnt spend it better. 

HIGGINS [taking cut kts pocket book and coming between 
Doolittle and the piano] This is irresistible. Lets give him 
ten. [He offers two notes to the dustman], 

DOOLITTLE. No, Govcmor. She wouldnt have the heart 
to spend ten ; and perhaps I shouldnt neither. Ten 

f^o Pygmalion Act II 

pounds is a lot of money : it makes a man feel prudent 
like ; and then goodbye to happiness. You give me what 
I ask you, Governor : not a penny more, and not a penny 

PICKERING, Why dont you marry that missus of yours ? 
I rather dravv^ the line at encouraging that sort of im- 

DooLiTTLE. Tell her so. Governor : tell her so. /'m 
willing. It's me that suffers by it. Ive no hold on her. I 
got to be agreeable to her. I got to give her presents. I 
got to buy her clothes something sinful. I'm a slave to 
that woman. Governor, just because I'm not her lawful 
husband. And she knows it too. Catch her marrying 
me ! Take ray advice, Governor : marry Eliza while 
shes young and dont know no better. If you dont 
youU be sorry for it after. If you do, she'll be sorry for 
it after ; but better you than her, because youre a man, and 
shes only a woman and dont know how to be happy anyhow. 
HiGGiNS. Pickering: if we listen to this man another 
minute, we shall have no convictions left. [To Dc/c/itt/e] 
Five pounds I think you said. 

DOOLITTLE. Thank you kindly. Governor. 
HiGGiNS. Youre sure you wont take ten.? 
DOOLITTLE, Not now. Another time. Governor. 
HIGGINS [handing him a Jive-pound note] Here you are. 
DOOLITTLE. Thank you, Govcmor. Good morning. [He 
hurries to the door, anxious to get away with his booty. When 
he opens it he is confronted with a dainty and exquisitely clean 
young Japanese lady in a simple blue cotton kimono printed 
cunningly with small white jasmine blossoms. Mrs Pearce is 
tvith her. He gets out of her zvay deferentially and apologizes^ 
Beg pardon, miss. 

THE JAPANESE LADY. Gam ! Dont you know your own 

DOOLITTLE^ exclaiming [Bly me ! it's Eliza ! 
HIGGINS \ simul- -| Whats that ! This! 
PICKERING J taneously [By Jove ! 

Act II Pygmalion 141 

LIZA, Dont I look silly? 

HiGGiNs. Silly? 

MRS PEARCE [at the door\ Now, Mr HIggins, please dont 
say anything to make the girl conceited about herself. 

HIGGINS {conscientiously^!^ Oh ! Quite right, Mrs Pearce. 
\To Eliza] Yes : damned silly. 

MRS PEARCE. Please, sir, 

HIGGINS [correcting himself\ I mean extremely silly. 

LIZA. I should look all right with my hat on. [^betakes 
up her hat ; puts it on ; and walks across the room to the fire- 
place with a fashionable air]. 

HIGGINS. A new fashion, by George ! And it ought to 
look horrible ! 

DOOLiTTLE [with fatherly pride] Well, I never thought 
she'd clean up as good looking as that, Governor. Shes a 
credit to me, aint she? 

LIZA. I tell you, it's easy to clean up here. Hot and 
cold water on tap, just as much as you like, there is. 
Woolly towels, there is; and a towel horse so hot, it burns 
your fingers. Soft brushes to scrub yourself, and a wooden 
bowl of soap smelling like primroses. Now I know why 
ladies is so clean. Washing's a treat for them. Wish they 
saw what it is for the like of me ! 

HIGGINS. I'm glad the bath-room met with your 

LIZA. It didnt : not all of it; and I dont care who hears 
me say it. Mrs Pearce knows. 

HIGGINS. What was wrong, Mrs Pearce? 

MRS PEARCE [blandly] Oh, nothing, sir. It doesnt matter. 

LIZA. I had a good mind to break it. I didnt know 
which way to look. But I hung a towel over it, I did. 

HIGGINS. Over what? 

MRS PEARCE. Ovcr the looking-glass, sir. 

HIGGINS. Doolittle : you have brought your daughter up 
too strictly. 

DOOLITTLE. Mc ! I nevcr brought her up at all, except 
to give her a lick of a strap now and again. Dont put it on 

142 Pygmalion Act II 

me, Governor. She aint accustomed to it, you see: thats 
all. But she'll soon pick up your free-and-easy ways. 

LIZA. I'm a good girl, I am ; and I wont pick up no 
free and easy ways. 

HiGGiNs. Eliza: if you say again that youre a good girl, 
your father shall take you home. 

LIZA. Not him. You dont know my father. All he 
come here for was to touch you for some money to get 
drunk on. 

DooLiTTLE. Well, what else would I want money for? 
To put into the plate in church, I suppose. [S/^e puts out 
her tongue at him. He is so incensed by this that Pickering 
presently finds it necessary to step between them]. Dont you 
give me none of your lip ; and dont let me hear you giving 
this gentleman any of it neither, or youll hear from me 
about it. See? 

HIGGINS. Have you any further advice to give her before 
you go, Doolittle? Your blessing, for instance. 

DOOLITTLE. No, Govcmor : I aint such a mug as to put 
up my children to all I know myself. Hard enough to 
hold them in without that. If you want Eliza's mind im- 
proved. Governor, you do it yourself with a strap. So 
long, gentlemen. \^He turns to go\ 

HIGGINS [impressively] Stop. Youll come regularly to see 
your daughter. It's your duty, you know. My brother is 
a clergyman ; and he could help you in your talks with her. 
DOOLITTLE [evasively] Certainly. I'll come. Governor. 
Not just this week, because I have a job at a distance. 
But later on you may depend on me. Afternoon, gentle- 
men. Afternoon, maam. [He tukes off his hat to Mrs Pcarce, 
tvho disdains the salutation and gees cut. He winks at Higgins, 
thinking him probably a fellow-sufferer from Mrs Pearce's diffi- 
cult disposition, and follows her]. 

LIZA. Dont you believe the old liar. He'd as soon you 
set a bull-dog on him as a clergyman. You wont see him 
again in a hurry. 

HIGGINS. I dont want to, Eliza. Do you? 

Act II Pygmalion 143 

LIZA. Not me. I dont want never to see him again, I 
dont. Hes a disgrace to me, he is, collecting dust, instead 
of working at his trade. 

PICKERING, What is his trade, Eliza? 

LIZA. Talking money out of other people's pockets into 
his own. His proper trade's a navvy; and he works at 
it sometimes too — for exercise — and earns good money 
at it. Aint you going to call me Miss Doolittle anymore? 

PICKERING. I beg your pardon, Miss Doolittle. It was a 
slip of the tongue. 

LIZA. Oh, I dont mind ; only it sounded so genteel. I 
should just like to take a taxi to the corner of Tottenham 
Court Road and get out there and tell it to wait for me, 
just to put the girls in their place a bit. I wouldnt speak 
to them, you know. 

PICKERING. Better wait til we get you something really 

HiGGiNs. Besides, you shouldnt cut your old friends now 
that you have risen in the world. Thats what we call 

LIZA. You dont call the like of them my friends now, I 
should hope. Theyve took it out of me often enough with 
their ridicule when they had the chance; and now I mean 
to get a bit of my own back. But if I'm to have fashionable 
clothes, I'll wait. I should like to have some. Mrs Pearce 
says youre going to give me some to wear in bed at night 
different to what I wear in the daytime ; but it do seem a 
waste of money when you could get something to shew. 
Besides, I never could fancy changing into cold things on 
a winter night. 

MRS PEARCE \coming l>ack] Now, Eliza. The new things 
have come for you to try on. 

LIZA. Ah-ow-oo-ooh ! [S/pe rus/?es out]. 

MRS PEARCE \^following her\ Oh, dont rush about like that, 
girl. \_^he shuts the door behind her\ 

HIGGINS. Pickering: we have taken on a stiff job. 

PICKERING \_with conviction] Higgins : we have. 


It is Mrs Higgim's at-hme day. Nobody has yet arrived. 
Her drawing-room, in aflat on Chelsea embankment, has three 
windows looking on the river; and the ceiling is not so lofty as 
it would be in an older house of the same pretension. The 
windows are open, giving access to a balcony with flowers in 
pots. If you stand with your face to the windows, you have the 
fireplace on your left and the door in the right-hand wall close 
to the corner nearest the windows. 

Mrs Higgins was brought up on Morris and Burne Jones; 
and her room, which is very unlike her son's room in Wimfole 
Street, is not crowded with furniture and little tables and nick- 
nacks. In the middle of the room there is a big ottoman; and 
this, with the carpet, the Morris wall-papers, and the Morris 
chint-z window curtains and brocade covers of the ottoman and 
tti cushions, supply all the ornament, and are much too hand- 
some to be hidden by odds and ends of useless things. A few 
good oil-paintings from the exhibitions in the Grosvenor Gallery 
thirty years ago {the Burne Jones, not the Whistler side of 
them) are on the zualls. The only landscape is a Cecil Lawson 
on the scale of a Rubens. There is a portrait of Mrs Higgins 
as she was when she defied fashion in her youth in one of the 
beautiful Rossetiian costumes which, when caricatured by people 
who did not understand, led to the absurdities of popular 
estheticism in the eighteen-seventies. 

In the corner diagonally opposite the door Mrs Higgins, nozo 
over sixty and long past taking the trouble to dress out of the 


Act III Pygmalion 145 

fashion^ sits writing at an elegantly simple writing-table with a 
bell button within reach of her hand. There is a Chippendale 
chair further back in the room between her and the window 
nearest her side. At the other side of the room, further forward, 
is an Elizabethan chair roughly carved in the taste of Inigo 
Jones. On the same side a piano in a decorated case. The 
corner between the fireplace and the window is occupied by a 
divan cushioned in Morris chintz. 

It is between four and five in the afternoon. 

The door is opened violently ; and Higgins enters with his hat on. 

MRS HIGGINS \_dismayed'\ Henry \_scolding him'\ \ What are 
you doing here to-day? It is my at-home day: you pro- 
mised not to come. \_As he bends to kiss her, she takes his hat 
off, and presents it to him']. 

HIGGINS. Oh bother! \_He throws the hat down on the table]. 

MRS HIGGINS. Go home at once. 

HIGGINS [kissing her] I know, mother. I came on purpose. 

MRS HIGGINS. But you mustnt. I'm serious, Henry. 
You oiFend all my friends : they stop coming whenever 
they meet you. 

HIGGINS. Nonsense I I know I have no small talk ; but 
people dont mind. [He sits on the settee]. 

MRS HIGGINS. Oh! dont they .? Small talk indeed ! What 
about your large talk? Really, dear, you mustnt stay. 

HIGGINS. I must. Ive a job for you. A phonetic job. 

MRS HIGGINS. No usc, dear. I'm sorry ; but I cant get 
round your vowels ; and though I like to get pretty post- 
cards in your patent shorthand, I always have to read the 
copies in ordinary writing you so thoughtfully send me. 

HIGGINS. Well, this isnt a phonetic job. 

MRS HIGGINS. You Said it was. 

HIGGINS. Not your part of it. Ive picked up a girl. 

MRS HIGGINS. Does that mean that some girl has picked 
you up? 

HIGGINS. Not at all. I dont mean a love affair. 

MRS HIGGINS. What a pity ! 


146 Pygmalion Act III 


MRS HIGGINS. Well, vou ncvcr fall in love with anyone 
under forty-five. When will you discover that there are 
some rather nice-looking young women about? 

HIGGINS. Oh, I cant be bothered with young women. 
My idea of a lovable woman is something as like you as 
possible. I shall never get into the way of seriously liking 
young women : some habits lie too deep to be changed. 
[^Rising abruptly and walking about, jingling his money and his 
keys in his trouser pockets'\ Besides, theyre all idiots. 

MRS HIGGINS. Do you know what you would do if you 
really loved me, Henry ? 

HIGGINS. Oh bother! What? Marry, I suppose? 

MRS HIGGINS. No. Stop fidgeting and take your hands 
out of your pockets. \_M'ith a gesture of despair, he obeys 
and sits down again]. Thats a good boy. Now tell me 
about the girl. 

HIGGINS. Shes coming to see you. 

MRS HIGGINS. I dont remember asking her. 

HIGGINS. You didnt. / asked her. If youd known her 
you wouldnt have asked her. 

MRS HIGGINS. Indeed! Why? 

HIGGINS. Well, it's like this. Shes a common flower girl. 
I picked her off the kerbstone. 

MRS HIGGINS. And invitcd her to my at-home! 

HIGGINS [rising and coming to her to coax her] Oh, thatll 
be all right. Ive taught her to speak properly; and she 
has strict orders as to her behavior. Shes to keep to two 
subjects : the weather and everybody's health — Fine day 
and How do you do, you know — and not to let herself 
go on things in general. That will be safe. 

MRS HIGGINS. Safe! To talk about our health ! about our 
insides! perhaps about our outsides ! How could you be 
so silly, Henry? 

HIGGINS [impatiently] Well, she must talk about some- 
thing. [He controls himself and sits down again]. Oh, she'll 
be all right: dont you fuss. Pickering is in it with me. 

Act III Pygmalion 147 

Ive a sort of bet on that I'll pass her off as a duchess in 
six months. I started on her some months ago; and shes 
getting on like a house on fire. I shall win my bet. She 
has a quick ear; and shes been easier to teach than my 
middle-class pupils because shes had to learn a complete 
new language. She talks English almost as you talk French. 

MRS HiGGiNs. Thats Satisfactory, at all events. 

HiGGiNs. Well, it is and it isnt. 

MRS HIGGINS. What docs that mean ? 

HIGGINS. You see, Ive got her pronunciation all right ; 
but you have to consider not only how a girl pronounces, 
but what she pronounces; and thats where — 

The J are interrupted by the parlor-maid, announcing guests. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Mrs and Miss Eynsford Hill, \_8he 

HIGGINS. Oh Lord ! [^He rises; snatches his hat from the 
table; and makes for the door; but before he reaches it his mother 
introduces hi7r{\. 

Mrs and Miss Eynsford Hill are the mother and daughter 
who sheltered from the rain in Covcnt Garden. The mother 
is well bred, quiet, and has the habitual anxiety of straitened 
means. The daughter has acquired a gay air of being very much 
at home in society: the bravado of genteel poverty. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [to Mrs Higgins] How do you do? 
[They shake hands]. 

MISS EYNSFORD HILL. How d'you do ? [She shakes]. 

MRS HIGGINS [introducing] My son Henry. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. Your Celebrated son! I have so 
longed to meet you. Professor Higgins. 

HIGGINS [glumly, making no movement in her direction] 
Delighted. [He backs against the piano and bows brusquely]. 

MISS EYNSFORD HILL [going to him with confide?it familiarity] 
How do you do ? 

HIGGINS [staring at her] Ive seen you before somewhere. 
I havnt the ghost of a notion where ; but Ive heard your 
voice. [Drearily] It doesnt matter. Youd better sit 

148 Pygmalion Act 111 

MRS HiGGiNs. I'm sorry to say that my celebrated son has 
no manners. You mustnt mind him. 

MISS EYNSFORD HILL [gai/y] I dont. [Sh sits in the Eliza- 
bethan chdir\ 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [« Httk Bewildered'^ Not at all. \^he 
sits on the ottoman between her daughter and Mrs Higgins, 
who has turned her chair away from the writing-table\ 

HIGGINS. Oh, have I been rude? I didnt mean to be. 

He goes to the central window, through which, with his back to 
the company, l:e contemplates the river and tl^e flowers in Batter sea 
Park on the opposite bank as if they were a frozen desert. 

The parlor-maid returns, ushering in Pickering. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Coloncl Pickering. \^She zvithdraws\ 

PICKERING. How do you do, Mrs Higgins? 

MRS HIGGINS. So glad youvc come. Do you know Mrs 
Eynsford Hill — Miss Eynsford Hill? \_Ex change of bows. 
The Colonel brings tl:e Chippendale chair a little forward 
between Mrs Hill and Mrs Higgins, and sits down\ 

PICKERING. Has Henry told you what weve come for? 

HIGGINS {over his shoulder^ We were interrupted : damn it ! 

MRS HIGGINS. Oh Henry, Henry, really! 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL \half rising'\ Are we in the way? 

MRS HIGGINS [risiz/g and making her sit down again] No, 
no. You couldnt have come more fortunately: we want 
you to meet a friend of ours. 

HIGGINS [turning hopefully] Yes, by George ! We want two 
or three people. Youll do as well as anybody else. 

The parlor-maid returns, ushering Freddy. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Mr Eynsford Hill. 

HIGGINS [almost audibly, past endurance] God of Heaven ! 
another of them. 

FRKDDY [shaking hands with Mrs Higgins] Ahdedo ? 

MRS HIGGINS. Vcry good of you to come. [Introducing] 
Colonel Pickering. 

FREDDY [bowing] Ahdedo? 

MRS HIGGINS. I dont think you know my son. Professor 

Act III Pygmalion 149 

FREDDY [going to Higgifis] Ahdedo? 

HiGGiNS [/coking at him much as if he were a pickpocket'\ I'll 
take my oath Ive met you before somewhere. Where was it? 

FREDDY. I dont think so. 

HIGGINS [resignedly^ It dont matter, anyhow. Sit down. 

He shakes Freddf s hand, and almost slings him on to the 
ottoman with his face to the windows ,- then comes round to the 
other side of it. 

HIGGINS. Well, here we are, anyhow! [He sits down on 
the ottoman next Mrs Eynsford Hill, on her left]. And now, 
what the devil are we going to talk about until Eliza comes ? 

MRS HIGGINS. Henry : you are the life and soul of the 
Royal Society's soirees; but really youre rather trying on 
more commonplace occasions. 

HIGGINS. Am I? Very sorry. [Beaming suddenly] I sup- 
pose I am, you know. [Uproariously] Ha, ha! 

Miss EYNSFORD HILL [who considcrs Higgins quite eligible 
matrimonially] I sympathize. / havnt any small talk. 
If people would only be frank and say what they really 
think ! 

HIGGINS [relapsing into gloom] Lord forbid ! 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [taking Up her daughter's cue] But why? 

HIGGINS. What they think they ought to think is bad 
enough. Lord knows ; but what they really think would 
break up the whole show. Do you suppose it would be 
really agreeable if I were to come out now with what 1 
really think ? 

Miss EYNSFORD HILL [gaily] Is it SO vcry cynical ? 

HIGGINS. Cynical ! Who the dickens said it was cynical ? 
I mean it wouldnt be decent. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [sertously] Oh ! I'm sure you dont 
mean that, Mr Higgins. 

HIGGINS. You see, we're all savages, more or less. We're 
supposed to be civilized and cultured — to know all about 
poetry and philosophy and art and science, and so on ; but 
how many of us know even the meanings of these names? 
[To Miss Hill] What do you know of poetry? [To Mrs 

1 50 Pygmalion Act III 

/////] What do you know of science? \_Indicati7jg Freddf\ 
What does he know of art or science or anything else-'' 
What the devil do you imagine I know of philosophy ? 

MRS HiGGiNS \warninglf\ Or of manners, Henry? 

THE PARLOR-MAID \opening the door] Miss Doolittle. [Sh 

HiGGiNs \_rtsitig hastily and running to Mrs Higgins] Here 
she is, mother. [He stands on tiptoe and makes signs over lis 
mother's head to Eliza to indicate to her which lady is her 

Eliza, who is exquisitely dressed, produces an impression of 
such remarkable distinction and beauty as she enters that they 
all rise, quite fluttered. Guided by Higgins^s signals, she comes 
to Mrs Higgins with studied grace. 

LIZA [speaking with pedantic correctness of pronunciation and 
great beauty of tone] How do you do, Mrs Higgins? [She 
gasps slightly in making sure of the H in Higgins, but is quite 
successful]. Mr Higgins told me I might come. 

MRS HIGGINS [cordially] Ouite right : I'm very glad indeed 
to see you. 

PICKERING. How do you do. Miss Doolittle? 

LIZA [shaking hands with him] Colonel Pickering, is it not? 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL, I feel surc wc havc met before, Miss 
Doolittle. I remember your eyes. 

LIZA. How do you do ? [She sits down on the ottoman grace- 
fully in the place just left vacant by Higgins], 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My daughter Clara. 

LIZA. How do you do ? 

CLARA [impulsiz'ely] How do you do? [She sits down on 
the ottoman beside Eliza, devouring her with her eyes]. 

FREDDY [coming to their side of the ottoman] Ive certainly 
had the pleasure. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [introducing] My son Freddy. 

LIZA. How do you do ? 

Freddy bows and sits down in the Elizabethan chair, in- 

HIGGINS [suddenly] By George, yes : it all comes back to 

Act III Pygmalion 151 

me ! [They stare at hm'\. Covent Garden ! [Lament a blyl 
What a damned thing ! 

MRS HiGGiNS. Henry, please ! [He is ahout to sit on the edge 
of the tahle\ Dont sit on my writing-table : youll break ii. 

HIGGINS [sulkily\ Sorry. 

He goes to the divan^ stumbling into the fender and over the 
fire-irons on his way ; extricating himself with muttered impre- 
cations; and finishing his disastrous journey by throwing him- 
self so impatiently on the divan that he almost breaks it. Mrs 
Higgins looks at him, but controls herself and says nothing. 

A long and painful pause ensues. 

MRS HIGGINS [at last, conversationally'] Will it rain, do you 

LIZA. The shallowdepression in the west of these islands is 
likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no 
indications of any great change in the barometrical situation. 

FREDDY. Ha ! ha ! how awfully funny ! 

LIZA. What is wrong with that, young man ? I bet I got 
it right. 

FREDDY. Killing ! 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. I'm sure I hopc it wont turn cold. 
Theres so much influenza about. It runs right through our 
whole family regularly every spring. 

LIZA [darkly] My aunt died of influenza : so they said. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [cHcks her tonguc sympathetically] ! ! ! 

LIZA [in the same tragic tone] But it's my belief they done 
the old woman in. 

MRS HIGGINS [puzxlcd] Donc her in.'' 

LIZA. Y-e-e-e-es, Lord love you! Why should she die 
of influenza? She come through diphtheria right enough 
the year before. I saw her with my own eyes. Fairly blue 
with it, she was. They all thought she was dead ; but my 
father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to 
so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [startled] Dear me ! 

LIZA [piling up the indictment] What call would a woman 
with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What 

152 Pygmalion Act III 

become of her new straw hat that should have come to 
me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as 
pinched it done her in. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. What docs doing her in mean? 

HiGGiNS [Sasti/y] Oh, thats the new small talk. To do a 
person in means to kill them. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [to E/Iza, horrlJjed'\ You surely dont 
believe that your aunt was killed? 

LIZA. Do I not ! Them she lived with would have killed 
her for a hat-pin, let alone a hat. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. But it cant havc been right for your 
father to pour spirits down her throat like that. It might 
have killed her. 

LIZA. Not her. Gin was mother's milk to her. Besides, 
he'd poured so much down his own throat that he knew the 
good of it. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. Do you mean that he drank? 

LIZA. Drank! My word ! Something chronic. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. How drcadful for you! 

LIZA. Not a bit. It never did him no harm what I could 
see. But then he did not keep it up regular. \^CheerfuI/y^ 
On the burst, as you might say, from time to time. And 
always more agreeable when he had a drop in. When he 
was out of work, my mother used to give him fourpence 
and tell him to go out and not come back until he'd drunk 
himself cheerful and loving-like. Theres lots of women 
has to make their husbands drunk to make them fit to live 
with. \_Now quite at her ease] You see, it's like this. If a 
man has a bit of a conscience, it always takes him when 
he's sober; and then it makes him low-spirited. A drop of 
booze just takes that off and makes him happy. [To Freddy, 
who is in convulsions of suppressed laughter] Here ! what are 
you sniggering at ? 

FREDDY. The new small talk. You do it so awfully well. 

LIZA. If I was doing it proper, what was you laughing at ? 
\To Iliggins] Have I said anything I oughtnt ? 

MRS HIGGINS [interposing] Not at all, Miss Doolittle. 

Act III Pygmalion 153 

LIZA. Well, thats a mercy, anyhow. \_Expansively'\ What 
I always say is — 

HiGGiNS [^risitig and looking at his watcF^ Ahem ! 

LIZA \looking round at him ; taking the hint; and rising"] Well : 
I must go. [They all rise. Freddy goes to the door]. So pleased 
to have met you. Good-bye. [She shakes hands with Mrs 

MRS HIGGINS. Good-byc. 

LIZA. Good-bye, Colonel Pickering. 

PICKERING. Good-bye, Miss Doolittle. [They shake hands], 

LIZA [nodding to the others] Good-bye, all. 

FREDDY [opening the door for her] Arc you walking across 
the Park, Miss Doolittle? If so — 

LIZA. Walk ! Not bloody likely. [SensatioTi], I am going 
in a taxi. [She goes out]. 

Pickering gasps and sits down. Freddy goes out on the balcony 
to catch another glimpse of Eliza. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [suffering from shock] Well, I really 
cant get used to the new ways. 

CLARA [throwing herself discontentedly into the Elizabethan 
chair]. Oh, it's all right, mamma, quite right. People will 
think we never go anywhere or see anybody if you are so 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. I darcsay I am very old-fashioned ; 
but I do hope you wont begin using that expression, 
Clara. I have got accustomed to hear you talking about 
men as rotters, and calling everything filthy and beastly ; 
though I do think it horrible and unladylike. But this 
last is really too much. Dont you think so. Colonel 

PICKERING. Dont ask me. Ive been away in India for 
several years ; and manners have changed so much that I 
sometimes dont know whether I'm at a respectable dinner- 
table or in a ship's forecastle. 

CLARA. It's all a matter of habit. Theres no right or 
wrong in it. Nobody means anything by it. And it's so 
quaint, and gives such a smart emphasis to things that are 

154 Pygmalion Act III 

not in themselves very witty. I find the new small talk 
delightful and quite innocent. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [rising] Well, after that, I think it's 
time for us to go. 

Pickering and Higgins rise. 

CLARA [rising] Oh yes : we have three at-homes to go to 
still. Good-bye, Mrs Higgins. Good-bye, Colonel Pickering. 
Good-bye, Professor Higgins. 

HIGGINS [coming grim/y at her from the divan, and accom- 
pafiyitjg her to the door] Good-bye. Be sure you try on that 
small talk at the three at-homes. Dont be nervous about it. 
Pitch it in strong. 

CLKV^k [all smiles] I will. Good-bye. Such nonsense, all 
this early Victorian prudery! 

HIGGINS [tempting her] Such damned nonsense! 

CLARA. Such bloody nonsense ! 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [convulsively] Clara! 

CLARA. Ha ! ha ! [Zhe goes out radiant, conscious of being 
thoroughly up to date, and is heard descending the stairs in a 
stream of silvery laughter]. 

FREDDY [to the heavens at large] Well, I ask you — [He 
gives it up, and comes to Mrs Higgins]. Good-bye. 

MRS HIGGINS [shaking hands] Good-bye. Would you like 
to meet Miss Doolittle again? 

FREDDY [eagerly] Yes, I should, most awfully. 

MRS HIGGINS. Well, you know my days. 

FREDDY. Yes. Thanks awfully. Good-bye. [He goes 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. Good-bye, Mr Higgins. 

HIGGINS. Good-bye. Good-bye. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [to Pickering] It's no use. I shall 
never be able to bring myself to use that word. 

PICKERING. Dont. It's not compulsory, you know. Youll 
get on quite well without it. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. Only, Clara is so down on me if I 
am not positively reeking with the latest slang. Good-bye. 

PICKERING. Good-bye [They shake hands]. 

Act III Pygmalion 155 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL [to Mrs Higgins] You mustnt mind 
Clara. [^Pickering, catching from her lowered tone that this 
is not meant for him to hear, discreetly joins Higgins at the 
windozu\ We're so poor ! and she gets so few parties, poor 
child ! She doesnt quite know. \_Mrs Higgins, seeing that 
her eyes are moist, takes her hand sympathetically and goes 
with her to the door'\. But the boy is nice. Dont you 
think so ? 

MRS HIGGINS. Oh, quite nice. I shall always be delighted 
to see him. 

MRS EYNSFORD HILL. Thank you, dear. Good-bye. [She 
goes out]. 

HIGGINS [eagerly] Well? Is Eliza presentable \_he swoops on 
his mother and drags her to the ottoman, where she sits down 
in Eliza'' s place zvith her son on her left] ? 

Pickering returns to his chair on her right. 

MRS HIGGINS. You silly boy, of course shes not present- 
able. Shes a triumph of your art and of her dressmaker's; 
but if you suppose for a moment that she doesnt give 
herself away in every sentence she utters, you must be 
perfectly cracked about her. 

PICKERING. But dont you think something might be done ? 
I mean something to eliminate the sanguinary element 
from her conversation. 

MRS HIGGINS. Not as long as she is in Henry's hands. 

HIGGINS [aggrieved] Do you mean that my language is 
improper ? 

MRS HIGGINS. No, dcarest : it would be quite proper — 
say on a canal barge ; but it would not be proper for her 
at a garden party. 

HIGGINS [deeply injured] Well I must say — 

PICKERING [interrupting him] Come, Higgins : you must 
learn to know yourself. I havnt heard such language as 
yours since we used to review the volunteers in Hyde Park 
twenty years ago. 

HIGGINS [sulkily] Oh, well, if you say so, I suppose I dont 
always talk like a bishop. 

156 Pygmalion Act III 

MRS HiGGiNS [guteting Henry zvith a touch"] Colonel 
Pickering: will you tell me what is the exact state of 
things in Wimpole Street? 

PICKERING {cheerfully : as if this completely changed the 
subject'] Well, I have come to live there with Henry. We 
work together at my Indian Dialects; and we think it 
more convenient — 

MRS HIGGINS. Quitc SO. I know all about that : it's an 
excellent arrangement. But where does this girl live? 

HIGGINS. With us, of course. Where would she live? 

MRS HIGGINS. But on what terms? Is she a servant? If 
not, what is she ? 

PICKERING [slowl-f] I think I know what you mean, Mrs 

HIGGINS. Well, dash me if / do ! Ive had to work at the 
girl every day for months to get her to her present pitch. 
Besides, shes useful. She knows where my things are, and 
remembers my appointments and so forth. 

MRS HIGGINS. Howdocs your housekeeper get on with her? 

HIGGINS. Mrs Pearce? Oh, shes jolly glad to get so 
much taken off her hands; for before Eliza came, she used 
to have to find things and remind me of my appoint- 
ments. But shes got some silly bee in her bonnet about 
Eliza. She keeps saying "You dont think, sir" : doesnt 
she, Pick? 

PICKERING. Yes: thats the formula. "You dont think, 
sir." Thats the end of every conversation about Eliza. 

HIGGINS. As if I ever stop thinking about the girl and her 
confounded vowels and consonants. I'm worn out, thinking 
about her, and watching her lips and her teeth and her 
tongue, not to mention her soul, which is the quaintest of 
the lot. 

MRS HIGGINS. You Certainly are a pretty pair of babies, 
playing with your live doll. 

HIGGINS. Playing! The hardest job I ever tackled : make 
no mistake about that, mother. But you have no idea how 
frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and 

Act III Pygmalion 157 

change her into a quite different human being by creating 
a new speech for her. It's filling up the deepest gulf that 
separates class from class and soul from soul. 

PICKERING [drawing his chair closer to Mrs Higgins and 
bending over to her eagerlf\ Yes : it's enormously interest- 
ing. I assure you, Mrs Higgins, we take Eliza very 
seriously. Every week — every day almost — there is some 
new change. \Closer again"] We keep records of every 
stage — dozens of gramophone disks and photographs — 

HIGGINS \assailing her at the other ear] Yes, by George : 
it's the most absorbing experiment I ever tackled. She 
regularly fills our lives up : doesnt she. Pick ? 

PICKERING. We're always talking Eliza. 

HIGGINS. Teaching Eliza. 

PICKERING. Dressing Eliza. 


HIGGINS. Inventing new Elizas. 

You know, she has the most 
\[jpeaiing J extraordinary quickness of ear : 
PICKERING. I together] j I assure you, my dear Mrs Higgins, 
that girl 
'just like a parrot. Ive tried her 
with every 
PICKERING. IS a genius. She can play the 

piano quite beautifully, 
possible sort of sound that a 
human being can make — 
PICKERING. I I We have taken her to classical 

concerts and to music 
Continental dialects, African dia- 
lects, Hottentot 
PICKERING. I I halls ; and it's all the same to her : 

she plays everything 
clicks, things it took me years to 
get hold of; and 
PICKERING. I she hears right off when she comes 

home, whether it's 




158 Pygmalion Act III 

(she picks them up like a shot, 
right away, as if she had 
Beethoven and Brahms or Lehar 
and Lionel Monckton; 
/"been at it all her life. 
4 though six months ago, she'd never 
[ as much as touched a piano — 

MRS HIGGINS [putttKg hcv jingcrs in l:er ears, as tl?ey are by 
this time shouting one another down with an intolerable noise'\ 
Sh-sh-sh— sh! [They stop]. 

PICKERING. I beg your pardon. \_He draws Ins chair bac\ 

HIGGINS. Sorry. When Pickering starts shouting nobody 
can get a word in edgeways. 

MRS HIGGINS. Be quict, Henry. Colonel Pickering: dont 
you realize that when Eliza walked into Wimpole Street, 
something walked in with her? 

PICKERING. Her father did. But Henry soon got rid of 

MRS HIGGINS. It would havc been more to the point if her 
mother had. But as her mother didnt something else did. 

PICKERING. But what? 

MRS HIGGINS {uncousciously dating herself by tl:e zvord] A 

PICKERING. Oh, I sec. The problem of how to pass her 
off as a lady. 

HIGGINS. I'll solve that problem. Ive half solved it 

MRS HIGGINS. No, you two infinitely stupid male 
creatures: the problem of what is to be done with her 

HIGGINS. I dont see anything in that. She can go her 
own way, with all the advantages I have given her. 

MRS HIGGINS. The advantages of that poor woman who 
was here just now ! The manners and habits that disqualify 
a fine lady from earning her own living without giving her 
a fine lady's income ! Is that what you mean? 

Act III Pygmalion 159 

PICKERING [indulgently, betfig rather bored'\ Oh, that will 
be all right, Mrs Higgins. \He rises to go\. 

HiGGiNS \rising also\ We'll find her some light employment. 

PICKERING. Shes happy enough. Dont you worry about 
her. Good-bye. [He shakes hands as if he were consoling a 
frightened cnld, and makes for the door]. 

HIGGINS. Anyhow, theres no good bothering now. The 
thing's done. Good-bye, mother. [He kisses her, and follows 

PICKERING [turning for a final consolation] There are 
plenty of openings. We'll do whats right. Good-bye. 

HIGGINS \to Pickering as they go out together] Let's take 
her to the Shakespear exhibition at Earls Court. 

PICKERING. Yes: lets. Her remarks will be delicious. 

HIGGINS. She'll mimic all the people for us when we get 

PICKERING. Ripping. [Both are heard laughing as they go 

MRS HIGGINS [rises with an impatietit bounce, and returns to 
her work at the writing-table. She sweeps a litter of dis- 
arranged papers out of her way ; snatches a sheet of paper from 
her stationery case ; and tries resolutely to write. At the third 
line she gives it up ; flings down her pen ; grips the table angrily 
and exclaims] Oh, men ! men ! ! men ! ! ! 


The Wlmpole Street laboratory. Midnight. Nobody in the 
room. The clock on the mantelpiece strikes twelve. The fire is 
not alight: it is a summer night. 

Presently Higgins and Pickering are heard on t/:e stairs. 

HiGGiNS [calling down to Pickering] I say, Pick : lock up, 
will you. I shant be going out again. 

PICKERING. Right. Can Mrs Pearcegotobed? We dont 
want anything more, do we? 

HIGGINS. Lord, no ! 

Eliza opens the door and is seen on the lighted landing in opera 
cloak, brilliant evening dress, and diamonds, with fan, flowers, 
and all accessories. She comes to the hearth, and switches on the 
electric lights there. She is tired: her pallor contrasts strongly 
with her dark eyes and hair; and her expression is almost tragic. 
She takes off her cloak; puts her fan and flozuers on the piano; 
and sits down on the bench, brooding and silent. Higgins, in 
evening dress, with overcoat and hat, comes in, carrying a 
smoking jacket which he has picked up downstairs. He takes off 
the hat and overcoat; throws them carelessly on the newspaper 
stand; disposes of his coat in the same way; puts on the smoking 
jacket; and throws himself wearily into the easy-chair at the 
hearth. Pickering, similarly attired, comes in. He also takes off 
his hat ana overcoat, and is about to throw them on Higgins's 
when he hesitates. 

PICKERING. I say: Mrs Pcarce will row if we leave these 
things lying about in the drawing-room. 


Act IV Pygmalion i6i 

HiGGiNS. Oh, chuck them over the bannisters into the 
hall. She'll find them there in the morning and put them 
away all right. She'll think we were drunk. 

PICKERING. We are, slightly. Are there any letters? 

HIGGINS. I didnt look. \^Pickering takes the overcoats and 
hats and goes downstairs. Higgins begins half singing half 
yawning an air from La Fanciulla del Golden West. Suddenly 
he stop and exclaims^ I wonder where the devil my slippers 
are ! 

Eliz.a looks at him darkly ; then rises suddenly and leaves the 

Higgins yawns again, and resumes his song. 

Pickering returns, with the contents of the letter-box in his 

PICKERING. Only circulars, and this coronetcd billet-doux 
for you. \^He throws the circulars into the fender, and posts 
himself on the hearthrug, with his back to the grate]. 

HIGGINS [glancing at the billet-doux] Money-lender. [He 
throws the letter after the circulars], 

Eliza returns with a pair of large down-at-heel slippers. 
She places them on the carpet before Higgins, and sits as before 
without a word. 

HIGGINS [yawning again] Oh Lord ! What an evening ! 
What a crew ! What a silly tomfoolery ! [He raises his shoe 
to unlace it, and catches sight of the slippers. He stops unlacing 
and looks at them as if they had appeared there of their own 
accord]. Oh ! theyre there, are they ? 

PICKERING [stretching himself] Well, I feel a bit tired. It's 
been a long day. The garden party, a dinner party, and 
the opera ! Rather too much of a good thing. But youve 
won your bet, Higgins. Eliza did the trick, and something 
to spare, eh ? 

HIGGINS [fervently] Thank God it's over! 

Eliza finches violently ; hut they take no notice of her ,• and 
she recovers herself and sits stonily as before. 

PICKERING. Were you nervous at the garden party? / 
was. Eliza didnt seem a bit nervous. 


1 62 Pygmalion Act IV 

HiGGiNS. Oh, she wasnt nervous. I knew she'd be all right. 
No: it's the strain of putting the job through all these 
months that has told on me. It was interesting enough at 
first, while we were at the phonetics ; but after that I got 
deadly sick of it. If I hadnt backed myself to do it I 
should have chucked the whole thing up two months 
ago. It was a silly notion: the whole thing has been a 

PICKERING. Oh come ! the garden party was frightfully 
exciting. My heart began beating like anything. 

HIGGINS. Yes, for the first three minutes. But when I 
saw we were going to win hands down, I felt like a bear 
in a cage, hanging about doing nothing. The dinner was 
worse : sitting gorging there for over an hour, with nobody 
but a damned fool of a fashionable woman to talk to ! I 
tell you, Pickering, never again for me. No more arti- 
ficial duchesses. The whole thing has been simple pur- 

PICKERING. Youve ncver been broken in properly to the 
social routine. [Strolling over to the piano] I rather enjoy 
dipping into it occasionally myself: it makes me feel 
young again. Anyhow, it was a great success : an immense 
success. I was quite frightened once or twice because Eliza 
was doing it so well. You see, lots of the real people cant 
do it at all : theyre such fools that they think style comes 
by nature to people in their position ; and so they never 
learn. Theres always something professional about doing 
a thing superlatively well. 

HIGGINS. Yes: thats what drives me mad : the silly people 
dont know their own silly business. [Rising] However, 
it's over and done with ; and now I can go to bed at last 
without dreading tomorrow. 

Eliza's beauty becomes murderous. 

PICKERING. I think I shall turn in too. Still, it's been a 
great occasion : a triumph for you. Good-night. [He goes]. 

HIGGINS [following him] Good-night. [Over his shoulder., 
at the door] Put out the lights, Eliza ; and tell Mrs Pearce 

Act IV Pygmalion 163 

not to make cofFee for me in the morning : I'll take tea. 
[He goes out], 

E/iza tries to control herself and feel indifferent as she 
rises and walks across to the hearth to switch off the lights. By 
the time she gets there she Is on the point of screaming. She 
sits down in Higgins's chair and holds on hard to the arms. 
Finally she gives way and flings herself furiously on the floor ^ 

HiGGiNS [in despairing wrath outside] What the devil have 
I done with my slippers? [He appears at the door]. 

LIZA [snatching up the slippers, and hurling them at him one 
after the other with all her force] There are your slippers. 
And there. Take your slippers; and may you never have a 
day's luck with them ! 

HIGGINS [astounded] What on earth — ! [He comes to her]. 
Whats the matter? Get up. [He pulls her up]. Anything 


LIZA [breathless] Nothing wrong — with you. Ive won 
your bet for you, havnt I ? Thats enough for you. / dont 
matter, I suppose. 

HIGGINS. You won my bet! You! Presumptuous insect ! 
/ won it. What did you throw those slippers at me 

LIZA. Because I wanted to smash your face. I'd like to 
kill you, you selfish brute. Why didnt you leave me where 
you picked me out of — in the gutter? You thank God it's 
all over, and that now you can throw me back again there, 
do you? [She crisps her fingers frantically]. 

HIGGINS [looking at her in cool wonder] The creature is ner- 
vous, after all. 

LIZA [gives a suffocated scream of fur -^^ and instinctively 
darts her nails at his face] ! ! 

HIGGINS [catching her wrists] Ah ! would you ? Claws in, 
you cat. How dare you shew your temper to me? Sit down 
and be quiet. [He throws her roughly into the easy chair]. 

LIZA [crushed by superior strength and weight] Whats to 
become of me? Whats to become of me? 

•.164 Pygmalion Act IV 

HiGGiNS. How the devil do I know whats to become of 
you ? What does it matter what becomes of you ? 

LIZA. You dont care. I know you dont care. You 
wouldnt care if I was dead. I'm nothing to you — not so 
much as them slippers, 

HIGGINS [thundering] Those slippers. 

LIZA [with bitter submission] Those slippers. I didnt 
think it made any difference now. 

ji pause. Eliza hopeless and crushed. Higgins a little uneasy. 

HIGGINS [in his loftiest manner] Why have you begun going 
on like this? May I ask whether you complain of your 
treatment here ? 

LIZA. No. 

HIGGINS. Has anybody behaved badly to you ? Colonel 
Pickering? Mrs Pearce? Any of the servants? 

LIZA. No. 

HIGGINS. I presume you dont pretend that /have treated 
you badly ? 

LIZA. No. 

HIGGINS. I am glad to hear it. [He moderates his tone]. 
Perhaps youre tired after the strain of the day. Will you 
have a glass of champagne? [He moves towards the door]. 

LIZA. No. [Recollecting her manners] Thank you. 

HIGGINS [gdod-humored again] This has been coming on 
you for some days. I suppose it was natural for you to 
be anxious about the garden party. But thats all over now. 
[He pats her kindly on the shoulder. She writhes]. Theres 
nothing more to worry about. 

LIZA. No. Nothing more for you to worry about. [She 
suddenly rises and gets away from him by going to the piano 
bench, where she sits and hides her face]. Oh God! I wish 
I was dead. 

HIGGINS [staring after her in sincere surprise] Why? In 
heaven's name, why? [Reasonably, going to her] Listen to 
me, Eliza. All this irritation is purely subjective. 

LIZA. I dont understand. I'm too ignorant. 

HIGGINS. It's only imagination. Low spirits and nothing 

Act IV Pygmalion 165 

else. Nobody's hurting you. Nothing's wrong. You go 
to bed like a good girl and sleep it off. Have a little cry 
and say your prayers : that will make you comfortable. 

LIZA. I heard your prayers. "Thank God it's all 
over ! " 

HiGGiNs [impatiently'] Well, dont you thank God it's all 
over? Now you are free and can do what you like. 

LIZA [pulling herself together in desperation'] What am I 
fit for? What have you left me fit for? Where am I to 
go? What am I to do? Whats to become of me? 

HIGGINS [enlightened, but not at all impressed] Oh, thats 
whats worrying you, is it ? [He thrusts his hands into his pockets, 
and walks about 'in his usual manner, rattling the contents of his 
pockets, as if condescending to a trivial subject out of pure kind- 
ness]. I shouldnt bother about it if I were you. I should 
imagine you wont have much difficulty in settling yourself 
somewhere or other, though I hadnt quite realized that you 
were going away. [She looks quickly at him: he does not look at 
her, but examines the dessert stand on the piano and decides that 
he will eat an apple]. You might marry, you know. [He bites 
a large piece out of the apple and munches it noisily]. You see, 
Eliza, all men are not confirmed old bachelors like me and 
the Colonel. Most men are the marrying sort (poor devils !) ; 
and youre not bad-looking : it's quite a pleasure to look at 
you sometimes — not now, of course, because youre crying 
and looking as ugly as the very devil ; but when youre all 
right and quite yourself, youre what I should call attractive. 
That is, to the people in the marrying line, you understand. 
You go to bed and have a good nice rest ; and then get up 
and look at yourself in the glass ; and you wont feel so 

Elixa again looks at him, speechless, and does not stir. 
The lock is quite lost on him: he eats his apple with a dreamy 
expression of happiness, as it is quite a good one. 

HiGGiT^i [a genial afterthought occurring to him] I daresay 
my mother could find some chap or other who would do 
very well. 

1 66 Pygmalion Act IV 

LIZA. We were above that at the corner of Tottenham 
Court Road. 

HiGGiNS [waking up] What do you mean ? 

LIZA. I sold flowers. I didnt sell myself. Now youve 
made a ladj of me I'm not fit to sell anything else. I wish 
youd left me where you found me. 

HIGGINS \_sUngtng the core of the apple decisively into the 
grate] Tosh, Eliza. Dont you insult human relations by 
dragging all this cant about buying and selling into it. 
You neednt marry the fellow if you dont like him. 

LIZA. What else am I to do ? 

HIGGINS. Oh, lots of things. What about your old idea 
of a florist's shop? Pickering could set you up in one : hes 
lots of money. [Chuckling] He'll have to pay for all those togs 
you have been wearing to-day ; and that, with the hire of 
the jewellery, will make a big hole in two hundred pounds. 
Why, six months ago you would have thought it the 
millennium to have a flower shop of your own. Come ! 
youll be all right. I must clear off to bed : I'm devilish 
sleepy. By the way, I came down for something : I forget 
what it was. 

LIZA. Your slippers. 

HIGGINS. Oh yes, of course. You shied them at me. [He 
picks them up, and is going out when she rises and speaks to 

LIZA. Before you go, sir — 

HIGGINS [dropping the slippers in his surprise at her calling 
him 5;r] Eh ? 

LIZA. Do my clothes belong to me or to Colonel 

HIGGINS [coming back into the room as if her question were 
the very climax of unreason] What the devil use would they 
be to Pickering? 

LIZA. He might want them for the next girl you pick 
up to experiment on. 

HIGGINS [shocked and hurt] Is that the way you feel 
towards us ? 

Act IV Pygmalion 1 67 

LIZA. I dont want to hear anything more about that. All 
I want to know is whether anything belongs to me. My 
own clothes were burnt. 

HiGGiNs. But what does it matter? Why need you start 
bothering about that in the middle of the night? 

LIZA. I want to know what I may take away with me. 
I dont want to be accused of stealing. 

HIGGINS [nozv deeply wounded\ Stealing! You shouldnt 
have said that, Eliza. That shews a want of feeling. 

LIZA. I'm sorry. I'm only a common ignorant girl ; and 
in my station I have to be careful. There cant be any 
feelings between the like of you and the like of me. Please 
will you tell me what belongs to me and what doesnt ? 

HIGGINS \yery sulky'] You may take the whole damned 
houseful if you like. Except the jewels. Theyre hired. 
Will that satisfy you ? [He turns on his heel and is about to 
go in extreme dudgeon"]. 

LIZA \drinking in his emotion like nectar^ and nagging him to 
provoke a further supply] Stop, please. \^he takes off her 
jewels]. Will you take these to your room and keep them 
safe? I dont want to run the risk of their being missing. 

HIGGINS [furious] Hand them over. [She puts them into 
his hands]. If these belonged to me instead of to the j eweller, 
I'd ram them down your ungrateful throat. [He per- 
functorily thrusts them into his pockets., unconsciously decorating 
himself with the protruding ends of the chains]. 

LIZA [taking a ring off] This ring isnt the jeweller's : 
it's the one you bought me in Brighton. I dont want it 
now. [Higgins dashes the ring violently into the fireplace, and 
turns on her so threateningly that she crouches over the piano 
with her hands over her face, and exclaims] Dont you hit me. 

HIGGINS. Hit you ! You infamous creature, how dare you 
accuse me of such a thing? It is you who have hit me. 
You have wounded me to the heart. 

LIZA [thrilling with hidden joy] I'm glad. Ive got a little 
of my own back, anyhow. 

HIGGINS [with dignity, in his finest professional style] You 

1 68 Pygmalion Act IV 

have caused me to lose my temper : a thing that has hardly 
ever happened to me before. I prefer to say nothing more 
tonight. I am going to bed. 

LIZA [pertly'] Youd better leave a note for Mrs Pcarce 
about the coffee ; for she wont be told by me. 

HiGGiNs [formally'] Damn Mrs Pearce ; and damn the 
coffee; and damn you ; and damn my own folly in having 
lavished hard-earned knowledge and the treasure of my 
regard and intimacy on a heartless guttersnipe. [He goes 
out with impressive decorum, arid spoils it by slamming the door 

Eliza smiles for the frst time ; expresses her feelings by a 
wild pantomime in which an imitation ofHiggins^s exit is con- 
fused with her own triumph; and finally goes down on her knees 
on the hearthrug to look for the ring. 


Mrs Higgins's drazving-room. She is at her writing-table as 
before. The parlor-maid comes in. 

THE PARLOR-MAID \at the door'\ Mr Henry, mam, is down- 
stairs with Colonel Pickering. 

MRS HiGGiNs. Well, shcw them up. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Thcyrc using the telephone, mam. 
Telephoning to the police, I think. 


THE PARLOR-MAID [comtng further in and lowering her 
voice] Mr Henry is in a state, mam. I thought I'd better 
tell you. 

MRS HIGGINS. If you had told me that Mr Henry was not 
in a state it would have been more surprising. Tell them 
to come up when theyve finished with the police. I suppose 
hes lost something. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Ycs, mam [going]. 

MRS HIGGINS. Go upstairs and tell Miss Doolittle that 
Mr Henry and the Colonel are here. Ask her not to come 
down til I send for her. 


Higgins bursts in. He is, as the parlor-maid has said, in a 

HIGGINS. Look here, mother: heres a confounded thing! 

MRS HIGGINS. Yes, dear. Good-morning. \He checks his 
impatience and kisses her, whilst the parlor- maid goes outl. 
What is it ? 


I/O Pygmalion Act V 

HiGGiNS. Eliza's bolted. 

MRS HIGGINS \_cahnly continuing her writing] You must 
have frightened her. 

HIGGINS. Frightened her! nonsense! She was left last 
night, as usual, to turn out the lights and all that ; and 
instead of going to bed she changed her clothes and went 
right off: her bed wasnt slept in. She came in a cab for 
her things before seven this morning ; and that fool Mrs 
Pearce let her have them without telling me a word about 
it. What am I to do.'' 

MRS HIGGINS. Do without, I'm afraid, Henry. The girl 
has a perfect right to leave if she chooses. 

HIGGINS [wandering distractedly across the room] But I 
cant find anything. I dont know what appointments Ive 
got. I'm — [Pickering comes in. Mrs Higgins puts down her 
pen and turns away from the writing-table]. 

PICKERING [shaking hands] Good-morning, Mrs Higgins. 
Has Henry told you ? [He sits down on the ottomafi]. 

HIGGINS. What does that ass of an inspector say.'' Have 
you offered a reward ? 

MRS HIGGINS [rising in indignant amazement] You dont 
mean to say you have set the police after Eliza. 

HIGGINS. Of course. What are the police for? What 
else could we do? [He sits in the Elizabethan chair]. 

PICKERING. The inspector made a lot of difficulties. 1 
really think he suspected us of some improper purpose. 

MRS HIGGINS. Well, of coursc he did. What right have 
you to go to the police and give the girl's name as if she 
were a thief, or a lost umbrella, or something? Really! 
[She sits down again, deeply vexed]. 

HIGGINS. But we want to find her. 

PICKERING. We cant let her go like this, you know, Mrs 
Higgins. What were we to do? 

MRS HIGGINS. You havc HO more sense, either of you, 
than two children. Why — 

The parlor-maid comes in and breaks off the conversation. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Mr Henry : a gentleman wants to 

Act V Pygmalion 171 

see you very particular. Hes been sent on from Wimpole 

HiGGiNs. Oh^ bother ! I cant see anyone now. Who is it? 

THE PARLOR-MAID. A Mr Doolittlc, sir. 

PICKERING. DooHttle ! Do you mean the dustman } 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Dustman ! Oh no, sir: a gentleman. 

HIGGINS [springing up excitedly^ By George, Pick, it's 
some relative of hers that shes gone to. Somebody we 
know nothing about. \To the parlor-maid^ Send him up, 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Yes, sir. \^he goes]. 

HIGGINS [eager/y, going to Ms mother] Genteel relatives! 
now we shall hear something. [He sits down in the Chippen- 
dale chair]. 

MRS HIGGINS, Do you know any of her people? 

PICKERING. Only her father : the fellow we told you about. 

THE PARLOR-MAiD [announcing] Mr Doolittle. [She with- 

DooHttle enters. He is brilliantly dressed in a new fashionable 
frock-coat., with white waistcoat and grey trousers. A flower 
in his buttonhole^ a dazzling silk hat, and patent leather shoes 
complete the effect. He is too concerned with the business he has 
come on to notice Mrs Higgins. He walks straight to Higgins, 
and accosts him with vehement reproach. 

DOOLITTLE [indicating his own person] See here ! Do you 
see this? You done this. 

HIGGINS. Done what, man ? 

DOOLITTLE. This, I tell you. Look at it. Look at this 
hat. Look at this coat. 

PICKERING. Has Eliza been buying you clothes? 

DOOLITTLE. Ellza! not she. Not half. Why would she 
buy me clothes ? 

MRS HIGGINS. Good-moming, Mr Doolittle. Wont you 
sit down ? 

DOOLITTLE [taken aback as he becomes conscious that he has 
forgotten his hostess] Asking your pardon, maam. [He ap- 
proaches her and shakes her proffered hand]. Thank you. [He 

172 Pygmalion Act V 

sits down on the ottoman, on Pickeriri^s rigkt\ I am that full 
of what has happened to me that I cant think of anything 

HiGGiNS. What the dickens has happened to you? 

DOOLiTTLE. I shouldnt mind if it had only happened 
to me : anything might happen to anybody and nobody to 
blame but Providence, as you might say. But this is some- 
thing that you done to me : yes, you, Henry Higgins. 

HIGGINS. Have you found Eliza? Thats the point. 

DOOLITTLE. Havc you lost her? 


DOOLITTLE. You have all the luck, you have. I aint found 
her ; but she'll find me quick enough now after what you 
done to me. 

MRS HIGGINS. But what has my son done to you, Mr 

DOOLITTLE. Donc to me! Ruined me. Destroyed my 
happiness. Tied me up and delivered me into the hands 
of middle class morality. 

HIGGINS [rising intolerantly and standing over Doolittle^ 
Youre raving. Youre drunk. Youre mad. I gave you five 
pounds. After that I had two conversations with you, at 
half-a-crown an hour. Ive never seen you since, 

DOOLITTLE. Oh! Drunk ! ami? Mad! ami? Tell me 
this. Did you or did you not write a letter to an old 
blighter in America that was giving five millions to found 
Moral Reform Societies all over the world, and that wanted 
you to invent a universal language for him? 

HIGGINS. What! Ezra D. Wannafcllcr ! Hes dead. \_He 
sits down again carel£ssly\ 

DOOLITTLE. Yes : hes dead ; and I'm done for. Now 
did you or did you not write a letter to him to say that 
the most original moralist at present in England, to the 
best of your knowledge, was Alfred Doolittle, a common 

HIGGINS. Oh, after your last visit I remember making 
some silly joke of the kind. 

Act V Pygmalion 173 

DOOLiTTLE. Ah ! you may well call it a silly joke. It 
put the lid on me right enough. Just give him the chance 
he wanted to shew that Americans is not like us : that 
they recognize and respect merit in every class of life, 
however humble. Them words is in his blooming will, in 
which, Henry Higgins, thanks to your silly joking, he 
leaves me a share in his Pre-digested Cheese Trust worth 
three thousand a year on condition that I lecture for his 
Wannafeller Moral Reform World League as often as they 
ask me up to six times a year. 

HIGGINS. The devil he does ! Whew ! \_Brightenhig 
suddenly'] What a lark ! 

PICKERING. A safe thing for you, Doolittle. They wont 
ask you twice. 

DOOLITTLE. It aint the lecturing I mind. I'll lecture 
them blue in the face, I will, and not turn a hair. It's 
making a gentleman of me that I object to. Who asked 
him to make a gentleman of me.? I was happy. I was free. 
I touched pretty nigh everybody for money when I wanted 
it, same as I touched you, Henry Higgins. Now I am 
worrited ; tied neck and heels ; and everybody touches me 
for money. It's a fine thing for you, says my solicitor. Is 
it? says I. You mean it's a good thing for you, I says. 
When I was a poor man and had a solicitor once when 
they found a pram in the dust cart, he got me off, and got 
shut of me and got me shut of him as quick as he could. 
Same with the doctors : used to shove me out of the hos- 
pital before I could hardly stand on my legs, and nothing 
to pay. Now they finds out that I'm not a healthy man 
and cant live unless they looks after me twice a day. In 
the house I'm not let do a hand's turn for myself: some- 
body else must do it and touch me for it. A year ago 
I hadnt a relative in the world except two or three that 
wouldnt speak to me. Now Ive fifty, and not a decent 
week's wages among the lot of them. I have to live for others 
and not for myself: thats middle class morality. You talk 
of losing Eliza. Dont you be anxious : I bet shes on my door- 

174 Pygmalion Act V 

step by this: she that could support herself easy by selling 
flowers if I wasnt respectable. And the next one to touch 
me will be you, Henry Higgins. I'll have to learn to speak 
middle class language from you, instead of speaking proper 
English. Thats where youll come in; and I daresay thats 
what you done it for. 

MRS HIGGINS. But, Hiy dear Mr Doolittle, you need not 
suffer all this if you are really in earnest. Nobody can force 
you to accept this bequest. You can repudiate it' Isnt that 
so, Colonel Pickering? 

PICKERING. I believe so. 

DOOLITTLE {softenuig his manner in deference to her sex] 
Thats the tragedy of it, maam. It's easy to say chuck it; 
but I havnt the nerve. Which of us has? We're all in- 
timidated. Intimidated, maam : thats what we are. What 
is there for me if I chuck it but the workhouse in my old 
age? I have to dye my hair already to keep my job as a 
dustman. If I was one of the deserving poor, and had put 
by a bit, I could chuck it; but then why should I, acause 
the deserving poor might as well be millionaires for all the 
happiness they ever has. They dont know what happiness 
is. But I, as one of the undeserving poor, have nothing 
between me and the pauper's uniform but this here blasted 
three thousand a year that shoves me into the middle class. 
(Excuse the expression, maam : youd use it yourself if you 
had my provocation.) Theyve got you every way you turn : 
it's a choice between the Skilly of the workhouse and the 
Char Bydis of the middle class; and I havnt the nerve for 
the workhouse. Intimidated : thats what I am. Broke. 
Bought up. Happier men than me will call for my dust, 
and touch me for their tip; and I'll look on helpless, and 
envy them. And thats what your son has brought me to. 
[He is overcome by emotion], 

MRS HIGGINS. Well, I'm very glad youre not going to do 
anything foolish, Mr Doolittle. For this solves the problem 
of Eliza's future. You can provide for her now. 

DOOLITTLE \with melancholy resignation] Yes, maam: I'm ex- 

Act V Pygmalion 175 

pected to provide for everyone now, out of three thousand a 

HiGGiNS \^jumping up] Nonsense ! he cant provide for her. 
He shant provide for her. She doesnt belong to him. I 
paid him five pounds for her. Doolittle : either youre an 
honest man or a rogue. 

DOOLITTLE [to/erant/y] A little of both, Henry, like the 
rest of us : a little of both. 

HIGGINS. Well, you took that money for the girl ; and you 
have no right to take her as well. 

MRS HIGGINS. Henry : dont be absurd. If you want to 
know where Eliza is, she is upstairs. 

HIGGINS [amaze^l Upstairs ! ! ! Then I shall jolly soon 
fetch her downstairs. [He makes resolutely for the door]. 

MRS HIGGINS [rising and following him] Be quiet, Henry. 
Sit down. 


MRS HIGGINS. Sit down, dear; and listen to me. 

HIGGINS. Oh very well, very well, very well. [He throws 
himself ungraciously on the ottoman, with his face towards the 
windows]. But I think you might have told us this half an 
hour ago. 

MRS HIGGINS. EHza Came to me this morning. She passed 
the night partly walking about in a rage, partly trying to 
throw herself into the river and being afraid to, and partly 
in the Carlton Hotel. She told me of the brutal way you 
two treated her. 

HIGGINS [bounding up again] What! 

PICKERING [rising also] My dear Mrs Higgins, shes been 
telling you stories. We didnt treat her brutally. We hardly 
said aword to her ; and we parted on particularly good terms. 
[Turning on Higgins], Higgins : did you bully her after I 
went to bed? 

HIGGINS. Just the other way about. She threw my slippers 
in my face. She behaved in the most outrageous way. I 
never gave her the slightest provocation. The slippers 
came bang into my face the moment I entered the room — 

176 Pygmalion Act V 

before I had uttered a word. And used perfectly awful 

PICKERING [astonished] But why? What did we do to her? 

MRS HiGGiNS. I think I Icnow pretty well what you did. 
The girl is naturally rather affectionate, I think. Isnt she, 
Mr Doolittle ? 

DOOLiTTLE. Very tender-hearted, maam. Takes after me. 

MRS HIGGINS. Just SO. She had become attached to you 
both. She worked very hard for you, Henry ! I dont think 
you quite realize what anything in the nature of brain work 
means to a girl like that. Well, it seems that when the great 
day of trial came, and she did this wonderful thing for you 
without making a single mistake, you two sat there and 
never said a word to her, but talked together of how glad 
you were that it was all over and how you had been bored 
with the whole thing. And then you were surprised because 
she threw your slippers at you ! / should have thrown the 
fire-irons at you. 

HIGGINS. We said nothing except that we were tired and 
wanted to go to bed. Did we. Pick? 

PICKERING \shrugging his shoulders] That was all. 

MRS HIGGINS \tronicallff\ (^uite sure? 

PICKERING. -Absolutely. Really, that was all. 

MRS HIGGINS. You didnt thank her, or pet her, or admire 
her, or tell her how splendid she'd been. 

HIGGINS [impatiently] But she knew all about that. We 
didnt make speeches to her, if thats what you mean. 

PICKERING [conscience stricke?!] Perhaps we were a little 
inconsiderate. Is she very angry? 

MRS HIGGINS [returning to her place at the writing-table] 
Well, I'm afraid she wont go back to Wimpole Street, 
especially now that Mr Doolittle is able to keep up the 
position you have thrust on her; but she says she is quite 
willing to meet you on friendly terms and to let bygones 
be bygones. 

HIGGINS [furious] Is she, by George? Ho ! 

MRS HIGGINS. If you promise to behave yourself, Henry, 

Act V Pygmalion 177 

I'll ask her to come down. If not, go home ; for you have 
taken up quite enough of my time. 

HiGGiNS. Oh, all right. Very well. Pick : you behaveyour- 
self. Let us put on our best Sunday manners for this 
creature that we picked out of the mud. [He flings himself 
sulkily into the Elizabethan chair]. 

DOOLiTTLE [remonstrating] Now, now, Henry Higgins ! 
have some consideration for my feelings as a middle class 

MRS HIGGINS. Remember your promisc, Hcnry. [She presses 
the bell-button on the writing-table]. Mr Doolittle : will you be 
so good as to step out on the balcony for a moment. I dont 
want Eliza to have the shock of your news until she has 
made it up with these two gentlemen. Would you mind? 

DOOLITTLE. As you wish, lady. Anything to help Henry 
to keep her off my hands. [He disappears through the window]. 

The parlor-maid answers the bell. Pickering sits down in 
Doolittle s place. 

MRS HIGGINS. Ask Miss Doolittle to come down, please. 

THE PARLOR-MAID. Ycs, mam. [She goes out], 

MRS HIGGINS. Now, Henry : be good. 

HIGGINS. I am behaving myself perfectly. 

PICKERING. He is doing his best, Mrs Higgins. 

A pause. Higgins throws back his head ; stretches out his 
legs ; and begins to whistle. 

MRS HIGGINS. Hcury, dearest, you dont look at all nice in 
that attitude. 

HIGGINS [pulling himself together] I was not trying to look 
nice, mother. 

MRS HIGGINS. It doesut matter, dear. I only wanted to 
make you speak. 


MRS HIGGINS. Bccausc you cant speak and whistle at the 
same time. 

Higgins groans. Another very trying pause. 

HIGGINS [springing up, out of patience] Where the devil is 
that girl? Are we to wait here all day? 


lyg Pygmalion ActV 

Eliza enters, sunny, self-possessed, and giving a staggeringly 
convincing exhibition of ease of manner. She carries a little 
work-basket, and is very much at home. Pickering is too much 
taken aback to rise. 

LIZA. How do you do, Professor Higgins? Are you quite 
well ? 

HIGGINS \choking'\ Am I — {lie can no more]. 

LIZA. But of course you are : you are never ill. So glad 
to see you again, Colonel Pickering. [He rises hastily ; and 
they shake hands]. Quite chilly this morning, isnt it? [She 
sits down on his left. He sits beside her]. 

HIGGINS. Dont you dare try this game on me. I taught 
it to you; and it doesnt take me in. Get up and come 
home; and dont be a fool. 

Eliza takes a piece of needlework from her basket, and begins 
to stitch at it, without taking the least notice of this outburst. 

MRS HIGGINS. Very nicely put, indeed, Henry. No woman 
could resist such an invitation. 

HIGGINS. You let her alone, mother. Let her speak for 
herself. You will jolly soon see whether she has an idea 
that I havnt put into her head or a word that I havnt put 
into her mouth. I tell you I have created this thing out of 
the squashed cabbage leaves of Covent Garden ; and now 
she pretends to play the fine lady with me. 

MRS HIGGINS [placidly] Yes, dear; but youU sit down, wont 
you ? 

Higgins sits down again, savagely. 

LIZA [to Pickering, taking no apparent notice of Higgins, and 
working away deftly] Will you drop me altogether now 
that the experiment is over. Colonel Pickering? 

PICKERING. Oh dont. You mustnt think of it as an ex- 
periment. It shocks me, somehow. 

LIZA. Oh, I'm only a squashed cabbage leaf — 

PICKERING [impulsively] No. 

LIZA [continuing quietly] — but I owe so much to you 
that I should be very unhappy if you forgot me, 

PICKERING. It's very kind of you to say so, Miss Doolittlc. 

ActV Pygmalion 179 

LIZA. It's not because you paid for my dresses. I know" 
you are generous to everybody with money. But it was from 
you that I learnt really nice manners; and that is what 
makes one a lady, isnt it ? You see it was so very difficult for 
me with the example of Professor Higgins always before 
me. I was brought up to be just like him, unable to control 
myself, and using bad language on the slightest provoca- 
tion. And I should never have known that ladies and gentle- 
men didnt behave like that if you hadnt been there. 

HIGGINS. Well ! ! 

PICKERING. Oh, thats only his way, you know. He doesnt 
mean it. 

LIZA. Oh, / didnt mean it either, when I was a flower 
girl. It was only my way. But you see I did it; and thats 
what makes the difference after all. 

PICKERING. No doubt. Still, he taught you to speak ; and 
I couldnt have done that, you know, 

LIZA [^triz'ia/ly'] Of course : that is his profession. 

HIGGINS. Damnation ! 

LIZA [continuing'] It was just like learning to dance in the 
fashionable way : there was nothing more than that in it. 
But do you know what began my real education ? 


LIZA [stopping her work for a moment] Your calling me Miss 
Doolittle that day when I first came to Wimpole Street. 
That was the beginning of self-respect for me. [ihe resumes 
her stitching]. And there were a hundred little things you 
never noticed, because they came naturally to you. Things 
about standing up and taking off your hat and opening 
doors — 

PICKERING. Oh, that was nothing. 

LIZA. Yes : things that shewed you thought and felt about 
me as if I were something better than a scullery-maid; 
though of course I know you would have been just the 
same to a scullery-maid if she had been let into the drawing- 
room. You never took off your boots in the dining-room 
when I was there. 

1 80 Pygmalion Act V 

PICKERING. You mustnt mind that. Higgins takes ofF his 
boots all over the place. 

LIZA. I know. I am not blaming him. It is his way, isnt 
it? But it made such a difference to me that you didnt 
do it. You see, really and truly, apart from the things any- 
one can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speak- 
ing, and so on), the difference between a lady and a Hower 
girl is not how she behaves, but how shes treated. I shall 
always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he 
always treats me as a flower girl, and always will ; but I 
know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me 
as a lady, and always will. 

MRS HIGGINS. Plcase dont grind your teeth, Henry. 

PICKERING. Well, this is really very nice of you, Miss 

LIZA. I should like you to call rae Eliza, now, if you 

PICKERING. Thank you. Eliza, of course. 

LIZA. And I should like Professor Higgins to call me Miss 

HIGGINS. I'll see you damned first. 

MRS HIGGINS. Henry! Henry! 

PICKERING [LiUg/:ing] Why dont you slang back at him ? 
Dont stand it. It would do him a lot of good. 

LIZA. I cant. I could have done it once ; but now I 
cant go back to it. Last night, when I was wandering about, 
a girl spoke to me; and I tried to get back into the old 
way with her ; but it was no use. You told me, you know, 
that when a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks up 
the language in a few weeks, and forgets its own. Well, 
I am a child in your country. I have forgotten my own 
language, and can speak nothing but yours. Thats the 
real break-off with the corner of Tottenham Court Road. 
Leaving Wimpole Street finishes it. 

picKKRiNG [muc/? alarmed\ Oh ! but youre coming back to 
Wimpole Street, arnt you? Youll forgive Higgins? 

HIGGINS \rising\ Forgive! Will she, by George ! Let her 

Act V Pygmalion i8i 

go. Let her find out how she can get on without us. She 
will relapse into the gutter in three weeks without me at 
her elbow. 

Doolittle appears at the centre window. With a look of 
dignified reproach at Higgins, he comes slowly and silently to his 
daughter, who, with her back to the window, is unconscious of his 

PICKERING. Hes incorrigible, Eliza. You wont relapse, 
will you? 

LIZA. No : not now. Never again. I have learnt my lesson. 
I dont believe I could utter one of the old sounds if I 
tried. \_Doolittle touches her on her left shoulder. She drops her 
work, losing her self-possession utterly at the spectacle of her 
father" s splendor'] A-a-a-a-a-ah-ow-ooh ! 

HiGGiNS [with a crow of triumph] Aha! Just so. A-a-a-a- 
ahowooh ! A-a-a-a-ahowooh ! A-a-a-a-ahowooh ! Victory ! 
Victory! [He throws himself on the divan, folding his arms, 
and spraddling arrogantly]. 

DOOLITTLE. Can you blame the girl? Dont look at me 
like that, Eliza. It aint my fault. Ive come into some 

LIZA. You must have touched a millionaire this time, 

DOOLITTLE. I havc. But I'm dressed something special 
today. I'm going to St. George's, Hanover Square. Your 
stepmother is going to marry me. 

LIZA [angrily] Youre going to let yourself down to marry 
that low common woman ! 

PICKERING [quietly] He ought to, Eliza. [To Doolittle] 
Why has she changed her mind? 

DOOLITTLE [sadly] Intimidated, Governor. Intimidated. 
Middle class morality claims its victim. Wont you put on 
your hat, Liza, and come and see me turned oft? 

LIZA. If the Colonel says I must, I — I'll [almost sobbing] 
I'll demean myself. And get insulted for my pains, like 

DOOLITTLE. Dont be afraid : she never comes to words 

1 82 Pygmalion Act V 

with anyone now, poor woman I respectability has broke 
all the spirit out of her. 

PICKERING \_squeezifig Eliza's elbow gently'] Be kind to 
them, Eliza. Make the best of it. 

LIZA [forcing a little smile for him through her vexation] Oh 
well, just to shew theres no ill feeling. I'll be back in a 
moment. \^he goes out\ 

DooLiTTLE [sitting down beside Pickering] I feel uncommon 
nervous about the ceremony, Colonel. I wish youd come 
and see me through it. 

PICKERING. But youve been through it before, man. You 
were married to Eliza's mother. 

DOOLITTLE. Who told you that, Colonel? 

PICKERING. Well, nobody told me. But I concluded — 
naturally — 

DOOLITTLE. No : that aint the natural way. Colonel : it's 
only the middle class way. My way was always the un- 
deserving way. But dont say nothing to Eliza. She dont 
know: I always had a delicacy about telling her. 

PICKERING, (^uite right. We'll leave it so, if you dont 

DOOLITTLE. And youll come to the church. Colonel, 
and put me through straight? 

PICKERING. With pleasure. As far as a bachelor can. 

MRS HiGGiNS. May I come, Mr Doolittle? I should be 
very sorry to miss your wedding. 

DOOLITTLE. I should indccd be honored by your con- 
descension, maam ; and my poor old woman would take it 
as a tremenjous compliment. Shes been very low, thinking 
of the happy days that are no more. 

MRS HIGGINS \rising] I'll order the carriage and get ready. 
\The men rise, except Higgins]. I shant be more than fifteen 
minutes. [As she goes to the door Eliza comes in, hatted and 
buttoning her gloves]. I'm going to the church to see your 
father married, Eliza. You had better come in the 
brougham with me. Colonel Pickering can go on with the 

Act V Pygmalion 183 

Mrs Higgins goes out. Eliza comes to the middle of the room 
between the centre zuindow and the ottoman. Pickering joins her. 

DooLiTTLE. Bridcgroom ! What a word ! It makes a 
man realize his position, somehow. \^He takes up his hat and 
goes towards the door]. 

PICKERING. Before I go, Eliza, do forgive him and come 
back to us. 

LIZA. 1 dont think papa would allow me. Would you, 

DOOLITTLE [sad but magnanimous'] They played you off 
verycunning, Eliza, them two sportsmen. If it had been only 
one of them, you could have nailed him. But you see, there 
was two; and one of them chaperoned the other, as you 
might say. [To Pickering] It was artful of you. Colonel ; but 
I bear no malice : I should have done the same myself. 
I been the victim of one woman after another all my life; 
and I dont grudge you two getting the better of Eliza. I 
shant interfere. It's time for us to go, Colonel. So long, 
Henry. See you in St. George's, Eliza. [He goes out]. 

PICKERING [coaxing] Do stay with us, Eliza. [He follows 

Eliza goes out on the balcony to avoid being alone with 
Higgins. He rises and joins her there. She immediately comes 
back into the room and makes for the door; but he goes along the 
balcony quickly and gets his back to the door before she reaches it, 

HIGGINS. Well, Eliza, youve had a bit of your own back, 
as you call it. Have you had enough ? and are you going to 
be reasonable.' Or do you want any more? 

LIZA. You want me back only to pick up your slippers 
and put up with your tempers and fetch and carry for you. 

HIGGINS. I havnt said I wanted you back at all. 

LIZA. Oh, indeed. Then what are we talking about? 

HIGGINS. About you, not about me. If you come back I 
shall treat you just as I have always treated you, I cant 
change my nature; and I dont intend to change my 
manners. My manners are exactly the same as Colonel 

184 Pygmalion Act V 

LIZA. Thats not true. He treats a flower girl as if she 
was a duchess. 

HiGGiNS. And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl. 

LIZA. I see. [S/ie turns away composedly, and sits on the 
ottoman, facing the windozv\ The same to everybody. 

HIGGINS. Just so. 

LIZA. Like father. 

HIGGINS [^grinning, a little taken down'] Without accepting 
the comparison at all points, Eliza, it's quite true that your 
father is not a snob, and that he will be quite at home in 
any station of life to which his eccentric destiny may call 
him. [Seriously'] The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad 
manners or good manners or any other particular sort of 
manners, but having the same manner for all human souls : 
in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there 
are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another. 

LIZA. Amen. You are a born preacher. 

HIGGINS \irritated] The question is not whether I treat 
you rudely, but whether you ever heard me treat anyone 
else better. 

LIZA [with sudden sincerity] I dont care how you treat me. 
I dont mind your swearing at me. I dont mind a black 
eye: Ive had one before this. But [standing up and facing 
him] I wont be passed over. 

HIGGINS. Then get out of my way; for I wont stop for 
you. You talk about me as if I were a motor bus. 

LIZA. So yoLi are a motor bus : all bounce and go, and no 
consideration for anyone. But I can do without you: dont 
think I cant. 

HIGGINS. I know you can. I told you you could. 

LIZA [zvoundcd, getting away from him to the other side of 
the ottoman with her face to the hearth] I know you did, you 
brute. You wanted to get rid of mc. 


LIZA. Thank you. [She sits down with dignity]. 

HIGGINS. You never asked yourself, I suppose, whether / 
could do without you. 

ActV Pygmalion 185 

LIZA [earnestly] Dont you try to get round me. Youll 
have to do without me. 

HiGGiNS [arrogant] I can do without anybody. I have 
my own soul : my own spark of divine fire. But [witA 
sudden humility] I shall miss you, Eliza. [He sits down 
near her on the ottoman], I have learnt something from your 
idiotic notions : I confess that humbly and gratefully. And 
I have grown accustomed to your voice and appearance. 
I like them, rather. 

LIZA. Well, you have both of them on your gramophone 
and in your book of photographs. When you feel lonely 
without me, you can turn the machine on. It's got no 
feelings to hurt. 

HIGGINS. I cant turn your soul on. Leave me those 
feelings ; and you can take away the voice and the face. 
They are not you. 

LIZA. Oh, you area devil. You can twist the heart in a 
girl as easy as some could twist her arms to hurt her. Mrs 
Pearce warned me. Time and again she has wanted to 
leave you ; and you always got round her at the last 
minute. And you dont care a bit for her. And you dont 
care a bit for me. 

HIGGINS. 1 care for life, for humanity ; and you are a 
part of it that has come my way and been built into my" 
house. What more can you or anyone ask ? 

LIZA. I wont care for anybody that docsnt care for 


HIGGINS. Commercial principles, Eliza. Like [reproducing 
her Covent Garden pronunciation with professional exactness] 
s'yollin voylets [selling violets], isnt it? 

LIZA. Dont sneer at me. It's mean to sneer at me. 

HIGGINS. I have never sneered in my life. Sneering 
doesnt become either the human face or the human soul. 
I am expressing my righteous contempt for Commercialism. 
I dont and wont trade in affection. You call me a brute 
because you couldnt buy a claim on me by fetching my 
slippers and finding my spectacles. You were a fool : I think 

1 86 Pygmalion Act V 

a woman fetching a man's slippers is a disgusting sight : did I 
ever fetch your slippers? I think a good deal more of you 
for throwing them in my face. No use slaving for me and 
then saying you want to be cared for : who cares for a slave? 
If you come back, come back for the sake of good fellow- 
ship; for youll get nothing else. Youve had a thousand 
times as much out of me as I have out of you ; and if you 
dare to set up your little dog's tricks of fetching and carry- 
ing slippers against my creation of a Duchess Eliza, I'll 
slam the door in your silly face. 

LIZA. What did you do it for if you didnt care for me ? 

HiGGiNs \_heartily\ Why, because it was my job. 

LIZA. You never thought of the trouble it would make 
for me. 

HIGGINS. Would the world ever have been made if its 
maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life 
means making trouble. Theres only one way of escaping 
trouble; and thats killing things. Cowards, you notice, 
are always shrieking to have troublesome people killed. 

LIZA. I'm no preacher: I dont notice things like that. 
I notice that you dont notice me. 

HIGGINS \_jumping up and walking about intolerantly'] Eliza : 
youre an idiot. I waste the treasures of my Miltonic mind 
by spreading them before you. Once for all, understand 
that I go my way and do my work without caring twopence 
what happens to either of us. 1 am not intimidated, like 
your father and your stepmother. So you can come back or 
go to the devil : which you please. 

LIZA. What am I to come back for? 

HIGGINS {bouncing up on his knees on the ottoman and lean- 
ing over it to her] For the fun of it. Thats why I took you on. 

LIZA [with averted face] And you may throw me out 
tomorrow if I dont do everything you want me to ? 

HIGGINS. Yes; and you may walk out tomorrow if I 
dont do everything you want me to. 

LIZA. And live with my stepmother? • 

HIGGINS. Yes. or sell flowers. 

Act V Pygmalion 187 

LIZA. Oh! if I only could go back to my flower 
basket ! I should be independent of both you and father 
and all the world ! Why did you take my independence 
from me? Why did I give it up? I'm a slave now, for all 
my fine clothes. 

HiGGiNs. Not a bit. I'll adopt you as my daughter and 
settle money on you if you like. Or would you rather 
marry Pickering? 

LIZA \looking fiercel'^ round at him'] I wouldnt marry you 
if you asked me; and youre nearer my age than what 
he is. 

HIGGINS [^gently'] Than he is: not "than what he is." 

LIZA \losing her temper and rising] I'll talk as I like. 
Youre not my teacher now. 

HIGGINS [rejiective/y] I dont suppose Pickering would, 
though. Hes as confirmed an old bachelor as I am. 

LIZA, Thats not what I want; and dont you think it. 
Ive always had chaps enough wanting me that way. Freddy 
Hill writes to me twice and three times a day, sheets and 

HIGGINS \disagreeahly surprised] Damn his impudence ! 
\He recoils and finds himself sitting on his heels]. 

LIZA. He has a right to if he likes, poor lad. And he 
does love me. 

HIGGINS [getting off the ottoman] You have no right to 
encourage him. 

LIZA, Every girl has a right to be loved. 

HIGGINS. What! By fools like that? 

LIZA. Freddy's not a fool. And if hes weak and poor and 
wants me, may be hed make me happier than my betters 
that bully me and dont want me. 

HIGGINS. Can he make anything of you? Thats the 

LIZA. Perhaps I could make something of him. But I 
never thought of us making anything of one another ; and 
you never think of anything else. I only want to be 

1 88 Pygmalion Act V 

HiGGiNs. In short, you want me to be as infatuated about 
you as Freddy ? Is that it ? 

LIZA. No I dont. Thats not the sort of feeling I want 
from you. And dont you be too sure of yourself or of me. 
I could have been a bad girl if I'd liked. Ive seen more 
of some things than you, for all your learning. Girls like 
me can drag gentlemen down to make love to them easy 
enough. And they wish each other dead the next minute. 

HIGGINS. Of course they do. Then what in thunder are 
we quarrelling about.'' 

LIZA [much troubIed'\ I want a little kindness. I know 
I'm a common ignorant girl, and you a book-learned gentle- 
man ; but I'm not dirt under your feet. What I done 
[correcting herse/f] what I did was not for the dresses and 
the taxis : I did it because we were pleasant together and 
I come — came — to care for you ; not to want you to make 
love to me, and not forgetting the difference between us, 
but more friendly like. 

HIGGINS. Well, of course. Thats just how I feel. And 
how Pickering feels. Eliza : youre a fool. 

LIZA. Thats not a proper answer to give me [s/:e sinks 
on the chair at the writing-table in tears\ 

HIGGINS. It's all youU get until you stop being a common 
idiot. If youre going to be a lady, youll have to give up 
feeling neglected if the men you know dont spend half their 
time snivelling over you and the other half giving you black 
eyes. If you cant stand the coldness of my sort of life, and 
the strain of it, go back to the gutter. Work til you are 
more a brute than a human being; and then cuddle and 
squabble and drink til you fall asleep. Oh, it's a fine life, 
the life of the gutter. It's real : it's warm : it's violent ; 
you can feel it through the thickest skin : you can taste 
it and smell it without any training or any work. Not 
like Science and Literature and Classical Music and 
Philosophy and Art. You find me cold, unfeeling, selfish, 
dont you ? Very well : be off with you to the sort of 
people you like. Marry some sentimental hog or other with 

Act V Pygmalion 189 

lots of money, and a thick pair of lips to kiss you with 
and a thick pair of boots to kick you with. If you cant 
appreciate what youve got, youd better get what you can 

LIZA \_desperate'\ Oh, you are a cruel tyrant. I cant talk 
to you : you turn everything against me : I'm always in the 
wrong. But you know very well all the time that youre 
nothing but a bully. You know I cant go back to the gutter, 
as you call it, and that I have no real friends in the world 
but you and the Colonel. You know well I couldnt bear 
to live with a low common man after you two ; and it's 
wicked and cruel of you to insult me by pretending 
I could. You think I must go back to Wimpole Street 
because I have nowhere else to go but father's. But dont 
you be too sure that you have me under your feet to be 
trampled on and talked down. I'll marry Freddy, I will, as 
soon as hes able to support me. 

HiGGiNs \_5itting down beside her"] Rubbish ! you shall marry 
an ambassador. You shall marry the Governor-General of 
India or the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or somebody who 
wants a deputy-queen. I'm not going to have my master- 
piece thrown away on Freddy. 

LIZA. You think I like you to say that. But I havnt 
forgot what you said a minute ago ; and I wont be coaxed 
round as if I was a baby or a puppy. If I cant have kind- 
ness, I'll have independence. 

HIGGINS. Independence? Thats middle class blasphemy. 
We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on 

LIZA [rising determinedly^ I'll let you see whether I'm 
dependent on you. If you can preach, I can teach. I'll go 
and be a teacher. 

HIGGINS. Whatll you teach, in heaven's name ? 

LIZA. What you taught me. I'll teach phonetics. 

HIGGINS. Ha! ha! ha! 

LIZA. I'll offer myself as an assistant to Professor 

190 Pygmalion Act V 

HiGGiNS [riswg in a fury] What ! That impostor ! that 
humbug ! that toadying ignoramus ! Teach him my 
methods ! my discoveries ! You take one step in his 
direction and I'll wring your neck. [He lays hands on her]. 
Do you hear ? 

LIZA {defiantly non-resistant] Wring away. What do I 
care? I knew youd strike me some day. [He lets her go, 
stamping with rage at having forgotten himself and recoils 
so hastily that he stumbles hack into his seat on the ottoman]. 
Aha ! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I 
was not to think of it before ! You cant take away the 
knowledge you gave me. You said I had a finer ear than 
you. And I can be civil and kind to people, which is more 
than you can. Aha ! Thats done you, Henry Higgins, it 
has. Now I dont care that [snapping her fingers] for your 
bullying and your big talk. I'll advertize it in the papers 
that your duchess is only a flower girl that you taught, and 
that she'll teach anybody to be a duchess just the same 
in six months for a thousand guineas. Oh, when I think 
of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled 
on and called names, when all the time I had only to 
lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just kick 

HIGGINS [wondering at her] You damned impudent slut, 
you ! But it's better than snivelling; better than fetching 
slippers and finding spectacles, isnt it? [Rising] By George, 
Eliza, I said I'd make a woman of you ; and I have. I 
like you like this. 

LIZA. Yes : you turn round and make up to me now 
that I'm not afraid of you, and can do without you. 

HIGGINS. Of course I do, you little fool. Five minutes 
ago you were like a millstone round my neck. Now yourc 
a tower of strength : a consort battleship. You and I and 
Pickering will be three old bachelors together instead of 
only two men and a silly girl. 

Mrs Higgins returns, dressed for the wedding. Eliza in- 
stantly becomes cool and elegant. 

Act V Pygmalion 191 

MRS HiGGiNS. The Carriage is waiting, Eliza. Are you 
ready ? 

LIZA. Quite. Is the Professor coming? 

MRS HIGGINS. Certainly not. He cant behave himself in 
church. He makes remarks out loud all the time on the 
clergyman's pronunciation. 

LIZA. Then I shall not see you again, Professor. Good- 
bye. [S/:e goes to the door], 

MRS HIGGINS {comhig to Higgins] Good-bye, dear. 

HIGGINS. Good-bye, mother. [He is about to kiss her, when 
he recollects something']. Oh, by the way, Eliza, order a ham 
and a Stilton cheese, will you? And buy me a pair of rein- 
deer gloves, number eights, and a tie to match that new suit 
of mine, at Eale & Binman's. You can choose the color. 
[His cheerful, careless, vigorous voice shows that he is incorrigible]. 

LIZA [disdainfully] Buy them yourself [She sweeps out]. 

MRS HIGGINS. I'm afraid youve spoiled that girl, Henry. 
But never mind, dear : I'll buy you the tie and gloves. 

HIGGINS [sunnily] Oh, dont bother. She'll buy em all right 
enough. Good-bye. 

They kiss. Mrs Higgins runs out. Higgins, left alone, rattles 
his cash in his pocket; chuckles: and disports himself in a highly 
self-satisfied manner. 


The rest of the story need not be shewn in action, and 
indeed, would hardly need telling if our imaginations were 
not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the ready- 
mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance 
keeps its stock of " happy endings " to misfit all stories. Now, 
the history of Eliza Doolittle, though called a romance 
because the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly 
improbable, is common enough. Such transfigurations have 
been achieved by hundreds of resolutely ambitious young 
women since Nell Gwynne set them the example by play- 
ing queens and fascinating kings in the theatre in which 
she began by selling oranges. Nevertheless, people in all 

192 Pygmalion 

directions have assumed, for no other reason than that she 
became the heroine of a romance, that she must have married 
the hero of it. This is unbearable, not only because her 
little drama, if acted on such a thoughtless assumption, must 
be spoiled, but because the true sequel is patent to anyone 
with a sense of human nature in general, and of feminine 
instinct in particular. 

Eliza, in telling Higgins she would not marry him if he 
asked her, was not coquetting : she was announcing a well- 
considered decision. When a bachelor interests, and domin- 
ates, and teaches, and becomes important to a spinster, as 
Higgins with Eliza, she always, if she has character enough to 
be capable of it, considers very seriously indeed whether she 
will play for becoming that bachelor's wife, especially if he is 
so little interested in marriage that a determined and devoted 
woman might capture him if she set herself resolutely to do 
it. Her decision will depend a good deal on whether she is 
really free to choose ; and that, again, will depend on her age 
and income. If she is at the end of her youth, and has no 
security for her livelihood, she will marry him because she 
must marry anybody who will provide for her. But at Eliza's 
age a good-looking girl does not feel that pressure: she feels 
free to pick and choose. She is therefore guided by her 
instinct in the matter. Eliza's instinct tells her not to marry 
Higgins. It does not tell her to give him up. It is not in the 
slightest doubt as to his remaining one of the strongest per- 
sonal interests in her life. It would be very sorely strained 
if there was another woman likely to supplant her with him. 
But as she feels sure of him on that last point, she has no 
doubt at all as to her course, and would not have any, even 
if the difference of twenty years in age, which seems so great 
to youth, did not exist between them. 

As our own instincts are not appealed to by her 
conclusion, let us see whether we cannot discover some 
reason in it. When Higgins excused his indifference to 
young women on the ground that they had an irresistible 
rival in his mother, he gave the clue to his inveterate old- 

Pygmalion 193 

bachelordom. The case is uncommon only to the extent 
that remarkable mothers are uncommon. If an imaginative 
boy has a sufficiently rich mother who has intelligence, 
personal grace, dignity of character without harshness, and 
a cultivated sense of the best art of her time to enable her 
to make her house beautiful, she sets a standard for him 
against which very few women can struggle, besides effect- 
ing for him a disengagement of his aifections, his sense 
of beauty, and his idealism from his specifically sexual 
impulses. This makes him a standing puzzle to the huge 
number of uncultivated people who have been brought up 
in tasteless homes by commonplace or disagreeable parents, 
and to whom, consequently, literature, painting, sculpture, 
music, and affectionate personal relations come as modes of 
sex if they come at all. The word passion means nothing else 
to them ; and that Higgins could have a passion for phon- 
etics and idealize his mother instead of Eliza, would seem to 
them absurd and unnatural. Nevertheless, when we look 
round and see that hardly anyone is too ugly or disagreeable 
to find a wife or a husband if he or she wants one, whilst 
many old maids and bachelors are above theaveragein quality 
and culture, we cannot help suspecting that the disentangle- 
ment of sex from the associations with which it is so com- 
monly confused, a disentanglement which persons of genius 
achieve by sheer intellectual analysis, is sometimes produced 
or aided by parental fascination. 

Now, though Eliza was incapable of thus explainingto her- 
self Higgins's formidable powers of resistance to the charm 
that prostrated Freddy at the first glance, she was instinct- 
ively aware that she could never obtain a complete grip of 
him, or come between him and his mother (the first neces- 
sity of the married woman). To put it shortly, she knew that 
for some mysterious reason he had not the makings of a 
married man in him, according to her conception of a 
husband as one to whom she would be his nearest and fond- 
est and warmest interest. Even had there been no mother- 
rival, she would still have refused to accept an interest in her- 


1 94 Pygmalion 

self that was secondary to philosophic interests. Had Mrs 
Higgins died, there would still have been Milton and the 
Universal Alphabet. Landor's remark that to those who 
have the greatest power of loving, love is a secondary affair, 
would not have recommended Landor to Eliza. Put that 
along with her resentment of Higgins's domineering superi- 
ority, and her mistrust of his coaxing cleverness in getting 
round her and evading her wrath when he had gone too far 
with his impetuous bullying, and you will see that Eliza's 
instinct had good grounds for warning her not to marry her 

And now, whom did Eliza marry? For if Higgins was a 
predestinate old bachelor, she was most certainly not a pre- 
destinate old maid. Well, that can be told very shortly to 
those who have not guessed it from the indications she has 
herself given them. 

Almost immediately after Eliza is stung into proclaiming 
her considered determination not to marry Higgins, she men- 
tions the fact that young Mr Frederick Eynsford Hill is 
pouring out his love for her daily through the post. Now 
Freddy is young, practically twenty years younger than 
Higgins : he is a gentleman (or, as Eliza would quality him, a 
toff), and speaks like one; he is nicely dressed, is treated by 
the Colonel as an equal, loves her unaffectedly, and is not 
her master, nor ever likely to dominate her in spite of his 
advantage of social standing. Eliza has no use for the foolish 
romantic tradition that all women love to be mastered, 
if not actually bullied and beaten. "When you go to 
women," says Nietzsche, "take your whip with you." Sen- 
sible despots have never confined that precaution to women: 
they have taken their whips with them when they have 
dealt with men, and been slavishly idealized by the men over 
whom they have flourished the whip much more than by 
women. No doubt there are slavish women as well as slav- 
ish men; andwomen, like men, admire those that are stronger 
than themselves. But to admire a strong person and to live 
under that strong person's thumb are two different things. 

Pygmalion 195 

The weak may not be admired and hero-worshipped ; but 
they are by no means disliked or shunned ; and they never 
seem to have the least difficulty in marrying people who are 
too good for them. They may fail in emergencies; but life 
is not one long emergency : it is mostly a string of situations 
for which no exceptional strength is needed, and with which 
even rather weak people can cope if they have a stronger 
partner to help them out. Accordingly, it is a truth every- 
where in evidence that strong people, masculine or feminine, 
not only do not marry stronger people, but do not shew any 
preference for them in selecting their friends. When a lion 
meets another with a louder roar " the first lion thinks the 
last a bore." The man or woman who feels strong enough 
for two, seeks for every other quality in a partner than 

The converse is also true. Weak people want to marry 
strong people who do not frighten them too much ; and 
this often leads them to make the mistake we describe meta- 
phorically as "biting off more than they can chew." They 
want too much for too little ; and when the bargain is un- 
reasonable beyond all bearing, the union becomes impossible: 
it ends in the weaker party being either discarded or borne 
as a cross, which is worse. People who are not only weak, 
but silly or obtuse as well, are often in these difficulties. 

This being the state of human affairs, what is Eliza fairly 
sure to do when she is placed between Freddy and Higgins? 
Will she look forward to a lifetime of fetching Higgins's 
slippers or to a lifetime of Freddy fetching hers ? There can 
be no doubt about the answer. Unless Freddy is biologically 
repulsive to her, and Higgins biologically attractive to a 
degree that overwhelms all her other instincts, she will, if 
she marries either of them, marry Freddy. 

And that is just what Eliza did. 

Complications ensued ; but they were economic, not ro- 
mantic. Freddy had no money and no occupation. His 
mother's jointure, a last relic of the opulence of Largelady 
Park, had enabled her to struggle along in Earlscourt with 

196 Pygmalion 

an air of gentility, but not to procure any serious secondary 
education for her children, much less give the boy a pro- 
fession. A clerkship at thirty shillings a week was beneath 
Freddy's dignity, and extremely distasteful to him besides. 
His prospects consisted of a hope that if he kept up appear- 
ances somebody would do something for him. The some- 
thing appeared vaguely to his imagination as a private 
secretaryship or a sinecure of some sort. To his mother it 
perhaps appeared as a marriage to some lady of means who 
could not resist her boy's niceness. Fancy her feelings when 
he married a flower girl who had become declassee under 
extraordinary circumstances which were now notorious ! 

It is true that Eliza's situation did not seem wholly in- 
eligible. Her father, though formerly a dustman, and now 
fantasticallydisclassed, had become extremely popular in the 
smartest society by a social talent which triumphed over 
every prejudice and every disadvantage. Rejected by the 
middle class, which he loathed, he had shot up at once into 
the highest circles by his wit, his dustmanship (which he 
carried like a banner), and his Nietzschean transcendence 
of good and evil. At intimate ducal dinners he sat on the 
right hand of the Duchess ; and in country houses he smoked 
in the pantry and was made much of by the butler when 
he was not feeding in the dining-room and being consulted 
by cabinet ministers. But he found it almost as hard to do 
all this on four thousand a year as Mrs Eynsford Hill to live 
in Earlscourt on an income so pitiably smaller that I have 
not the heart to disclose its exact figure. He absolutely 
refused to add the last straw to his burden by contributing 
to Eliza's support. 

Thus Freddy and Eliza, now Mr and Mrs Eynsford Hill, 
would have spent a penniless honeymoon but for a wedding 
present of ^^500 from the Colonel to Eliza. It lasted a long 
time because Freddy did not know how to spend money, 
never having had any to spend, and Eliza, socially trained 
by a pair of old bachelors, wore her clothes as long as they 
held together and looked pretty, without the least regard to 

Pygmalion 197 

their being many months out of fashion. Still, j^500 will 
not last two young people for ever ; and they both knew, 
and Eliza felt as well, that they must shift for themselves in 
the end. She could quarter herself on Wimpolc Street be- 
cause it had come to be her home ; but she was quite aware 
that she ought not to quarter Freddy there, and that it 
would not be good for his character if she did. 

Not that the Wimpole Street bachelors objected. When 
she consulted them, Higgins declined to be bothered about 
her housing problem when that solution was so simple. 
Eliza's desire to have Freddy in the house with her seemed 
of no more importance than if she had wanted an extra 
piece of bedroom furniture. Pleas as to Freddy's character, 
and the moral obligation on him to earn his own living, were 
lost on Higgins. He denied that Freddy had any character, 
and declared that if he tried to do any useful work some 
competent person would have the trouble of undoing it: a 
procedure involving a net loss to the community, and great 
unhappiness to Freddy himself, who was obviously intended 
by Nature for such light work as amusing Eliza, which, 
Higgins declared, was a much more useful and honorable 
occupation than working in the city. When Eliza referred 
again to her project of teaching phonetics, Higgins abated 
not a jot of his violent opposition to it. He said she was not 
within ten years of being qualified to meddle with his pet 
subject ; and as it was evident that the Colonel agreed with 
him, she felt she could not go against them in this grave 
matter, and that she had no right, without Higgins's consent, 
to exploit the knowledge he had given her; forhis knowledge 
seemed to her as much his private property as his watch : 
Eliza was no communist. Besides, she was superstitiously 
devoted to them both, more entirely and frankly after her 
marriage than before it. 

It was the Colonel who finally solved the problem, which 
had cost him much perplexed cogitation. He one day asked 
Eliza, rather shyly, whether she had quite given up her 
notion of keeping a flower shop. She replied that she had- 

198 Pygmalion 

thought of it, but had put it out of her head, because the 
Colonel had said, that day at Mrs Higglns's, that it would 
never do. The Colonel confessed that when he said that, 
he had not quite recovered from the dazzling impression of 
the day before. They broke the matter to Higgins that 
evening. The sole comment vouchsafed by him very nearly 
led to a serious quarrel with Eliza. It was to the effect that 
she would have in Freddy an ideal errand boy. 

Freddy himself was next sounded on the subject. He said 
he had been thinking of a shop himself; though it had pre- 
sented itself to his pennilessness as a small place in which 
Eliza should sell tobacco at one counter whilst he sold news- 
papers at the opposite one. But he agreed that it would be 
extraordinarily jolly to go early every morning with Eliza 
to Covent Garden and buy flowers on the scene of their first 
meeting : a sentiment which earned him many kisses from 
his wife. He added that he had always been afraid to pro- 
pose anythingof the sort, because Clara would make an awful 
row about a step that must damage her matrimonial chances, 
and his mother could not be expected to like it after cling- 
ing for so many years to that step of the social ladder on 
which retail trade is impossible. 

This difficulty was removed by an event highly unexpected 
by Freddy's mother. Clara, in the course of her incursions 
into those artistic circles which were the highest within her 
reach, discovered that her conversational qualifications were 
expected to include a grounding in the novels of Mr H. G. 
Wells. She borrowed them in various directions so energetic- 
ally that she swallowed them all within two months. The 
result was a conversion of a kind quite common to-day. A 
modern Acts of the Apostles would fill fifty whole Bibles 
if anyone were capable of writing it. 

Poor Clara, who appeared to Higgins and his mother as 
a disagreeable and ridiculous person, and to her own mother 
as in some inexplicable way a social failure, had never seen 
herself in either light ; for, though to some extent ridiculed 
and mimicked in West Kensington like everybody else there. 

Pygmalion 199 

she was accepted as a rational and normal — or shall we say 
inevitable? — sort of human being. At worst they called her 
The Pusher; but to them no more than to herself had it 
ever occurred that she was pushing the air, and pushing it 
in a wrong direction. Still, she was not happy. She was 
growing desperate. Her one asset, the fact that her mother 
was what the Epsom greengrocer called a carriage lady, had 
no exchange value, apparently. It had prevented her from 
getting educated, because the only education she could have 
afforded was education with the Earlscourt greengrocer's 
daughter. It had led her to seek the society of her mother's 
class ; and that class simply would not have her, because 
she was much poorer than the greengrocer, and, far from 
being able to afford a maid, could not afford even a house- 
maid, and had to scrape along at home with an illiberally 
treated general servant. Under such circumstances nothing 
could give her an air of being a genuine product of Large- 
lady Park. And yet its tradition made her regard a marriage 
with anyone within her reach as an unbearable humiliation. 
Commercial people and professional people in a small way 
were odious to her. She ran after painters and novelists; 
but she did not charm them ; and her bold attempts to pick 
up and practise artistic and literary talk irritated them. She 
was, in short, an utter failure, an ignorant, incompetent, 
pretentious, unwelcome, penniless, useless little snob; and 
though she did not admit these disqualifications (for nobody 
ever faces unpleasant truths of this kind until the possibility 
of a way out dawns on them) she felt their effects too keenly 
to be satisfied with her position. 

Clara had a startling eyeopencr when,on being suddenly 
wakened to enthusiasm by a girl of her own age who dazzled 
her and produced in her a gushing desire to take her for a 
model, and gain her friendship, she discovered that this ex- 
quisite apparition had graduated from the gutter in a few 
months time. It shook her so violently, that when Mr H. G. 
Wells lifted her on the point of his puissant pen, and 
placed her at the angle of view from which the life she was 

200 Pygmalion 

leading and the society to which she clung appeared in its 
true relation to real human needs and worthy social struc- 
ture, he effected a conversion and a conviction of sin com- 
parable to the most sensational feats of General Booth or 
Gypsy Smith, Clara's snobbery went bang. Life suddenly 
began to move with her. Without knowing how or why, she 
began to make friends and enemies. Some of the acquaint- 
ances to whom she had been a tedious or indifferent or 
ridiculous affliction, dropped her : others became cordial. 
To her amazement she found that some "quite nice" people 
were saturated with Wells, and that this accessibility to 
ideas was the secret of their niceness. People she had 
thought deeply religious, and had tried to conciliate on that 
tack with disastrous results, suddenly took an interest in 
her, and revealed a hostility to conventional religion which 
she had never conceived possible except among the most 
desperate characters. They made her read Galsworthy ; and 
Galsworthy exposed the vanity of Largelady Park and 
finished her. It exasperated her to think that the dungeon 
in which she had languished for so many unhappy years 
had been unlocked all the time, and that the impulses she 
had so carefully struggled with and stifled for the sake of 
keeping well with society, were precisely those by which 
alone she could have come into any sort of sincere human 
contact. In the radiance of these discoveries, and the tumult 
of their reaction, she made a fool of herself as freely and 
conspicuously as when she so rashly adopted Eliza's expletive 
in Mrs Higgins's drawing-room ; for the new-born Wellsian 
had to find her bearings almost as ridiculously as a baby; 
but nobody hates a baby for its ineptitudes, or thinks the 
worse of it for trying to eat the matches ; and Clara lost 
no frienc3 by her follies. They laughed at her to her face 
this time ; and she had to defend herself and fight it out as 
best she could. 

When Freddy paid a visit to Earlscourt (which he never 
did when he could possibly help it) to make the desolating 
announcement that heandhisElizawere thinkingot blacken- 

Pygmalion 201 

ing the Largelady scutcheon by opening a shop, he found 
the little household aJready convulsed by a prior announce- 
ment from Clara that she also was going to work in an old 
furniture shop in Dover Street, which had been started by 
a fellow Wellsian. This appointment Clara owed, after all, 
to her old social accomplishment of Push. She had made 
up her mind that, cost what it might, she would see Mr. 
Wells in the flesh ; and she had achieved her end at a garden 
party. She had better luck than so rash an enterprise de- 
served. Mr. Wells came up to her expectations. Age had 
not withered him, nor could custom stale his infinite variety 
in half an hour. His pleasant neatness and compactness, 
his small hands and feet, his teeming ready brain, his un- 
affected accessibility, and a certain fine apprehensiveness 
which stamped him as susceptible from his topmost hair to 
his tipmost toe, proved irresistible. Clara talked of nothing 
else for weeks and weeks afterwards. And as she happened 
to talk to the lady of the furniture shop, and that lady also 
desired above all things to know Mr. Wells and sell pretty 
things to him, she offered Clara a job on the chance of 
achieving that end through her. 

And so it came about that Eliza's luck held, and the ex- 
pected opposition to the flower shop melted away. The 
shop is in the arcade of a railway station not very far from 
the Victoria and Albert Museum ; and if you live in that 
neighborhood you may go there any day and buy a button- 
hole from Eliza. 

Now here is a last opportunity for romance. Would you 
not like to be assured that the shop was an immense success, 
thanks to Eliza's charms and her early business experience 
in Covent Garden ? Alas ! the truth is the truth : the shop 
did not pay for a long time, simply because Eliza and her 
Freddy did not know how to keep it. True, Eliza had not 
to begin at the very beginning : she knew the names and 
prices of the cheaper flowers; and her elation was unbounded 
v/hen she found that Freddy, like all youths educated at 
cheap, pretentious, and thoroughly inefHcient schools, knew 

202 Pygmalion 

a little Latin. It was very little, but enough to make him 
appear to her a Porson or Bentley, and to put him at his 
ease with botanical nomenclature. Unfortunately he knew 
nothing else ; and Eliza, though she could count money up 
to eighteen shillings or so, and had acquired a certain famili- 
arity with the language of Milton from her struggles to 
qualify herself for winning Higgins's bet, could not write 
out a bill without utterly disgracing the establishment. 
Freddy's power of stating in Latin that Balbus built a wall 
and that Gaul was divided into three parts did not carry 
with it the slightest knowledge of accounts or business : 
Colonel Pickering had to explain to him what a cheque 
book and a bank account meant. And the pair were by no 
means easily teachable. Freddy backed up Eliza in her 
obstinate refusal to believe that they could save money by 
engaging a bookkeeper with some knowledge of the busi- 
ness. How, they argued, could you possibly save money by 
going to extra expense when you already could not make 
both ends meet ? But the Colonel, after making the ends 
meet over and over again, at last gently insisted; and Eliza, 
humbled to the dust by having to beg from him so often, 
and stung by the uproarious derision of Higgins, to whom 
the notion of Freddy succeeding at anything was a joke 
that never palled, grasped the fact that business, like phon- 
etics, has to be learned. 

On the piteous spectacle of the pair spending their even- 
ings in shorthand schools and polytechnic classes, learning 
bookkeeping and typewriting with incipient junior clerks, 
male and female, from the elementary schools, let me not 
dwell. There were even classes at the London School of 
Economics, and a humble personal appeal to the director of 
that institution to recommend a course bearing on the 
flower business. He, being a humorist, explained to them 
the method of the celebrated Dickensian essay on Chinese 
Metaphysics by the gentleman who read an article on China 
and an article on Metaphysics and combined the informa- 
tion. He suggested that they should combine the London 

Pygmalion 203 

School with Kew Gardens. Eliza, to whom the procedure 
of the Dickensian gentleman seemed perfectly correct (as 
in fact it was) and not in the least funny (which was only 
her ignorance) took his advice with entire gravity. But the 
effort that cost her the deepest humiliation was a request 
to Higgins, whose pet artistic fancy, next to Milton's verse, 
was caligraphy, and who himself wrote a most beautiful 
Italian hand, that he would teach her to write. He declared 
thatshe was congenitally incapable of forming a single letter 
worthy of the least of Milton's words ; but she persisted ; 
and again he suddenly threw himself into the task of teach- 
ing her with a combination of stormy intensity, concen- 
trated patience, and occasional bursts of interesting disquisi- 
tion on the beauty and nobility, the august mission and 
destiny, of human handwriting. Eliza ended by acquiring 
an extremely uncommercial script which was a positive 
extension of her personal beauty, and spending three times 
as much on stationery as anyone else because certain quali- 
ties and shapes of paper became indispensable to her. She 
could not even address an envelope in the usual way be- 
cause it made the margins all wrong. 

Their commercial schooldays were a period of disgrace 
and despair for the young couple. They seemed to be 
learning nothing about flower shops. At last they gave it 
up as hopeless, and shook the dust of the shorthand schools, 
and the polytechnics, and the London School of Economics 
from their feet for ever. Besides, the business was in some 
mysterious way beginning to take care of itself. They had 
somehow forgotten their objections to employing other 
people. They came to the conclusion that their own way 
was the best, and that they had really a remarkable talent 
for business. The Colonel, who had been compelled for 
some years to keep a sufficient sum on current account at 
his bankers to make up their deficits, found that the pro- 
vision was unnecessary : the young people were prospering. 
It is true that there was not quite fair play between them 
and their competitors in trade. Their week-ends in the 

204 Pygmalion 

country cost them nothing, and saved them the price of their 
Sunday dinners ; for the motor car was the Colonel's ; and 
he and Higgins paid the hotel bills. Mr. F. Hill, florist 
and greengrocer (they soon discovered that there was money 
in asparagus ; and asparagus led to other vegetables), had 
an air which stamped the business as classy ; and in private 
life he was still Frederick Eynsford Hill, Esquire. Not 
that there was any swank about him : nobody but Eliza 
knew that he had been christened Frederick Challoner. 
Eliza herself swanked like anything. 

That is all. That is how it has turned out. It is astonish- 
ing how much Eliza still manages to meddle in the house- 
keeping at Wimpole Street in spite of the shop and her 
own family. And it is notable that though she never nags 
her husband, and frankly loves the Colonel as if she were 
his favorite daughter, she has never got out of the habit 
of nagging Higgins that was established on the fatal night 
when she won his bet for him. She snaps his head off on 
the faintest provocation, or on none. He no longer dares 
to tease her by assuming an abysmal inferiority of Freddy's 
mind to his own. He storms and bullies and derides ; but 
she stands up to him so ruthlessly that the Colonel has to 
ask her from time to time to be kinder to Higgins ; and it 
is the only request of his that brings a mulish expression 
into her face. Nothing but some emergency or calamity 
great enough to break down all likes and dislikes, and throw 
them both back on their common humanity — and may they 
be spared any such trial ! — will ever alter this. She knows 
that Higgins does not need her, just as her father did not 
need her. The very scrupulousness with which he told her 
that day that he had become used to having her there, and 
dependent on her for all sorts of little services, and that he 
should miss her if she went away (it would never have 
occurred to Freddy or the Colonel to say anything of the 
sort) deepens her inner certainty that she is "no more to 
him than them slippers" ; yet she has a sense, too, that his 
indifference is deeper than the infatuation of commoner 

Pygmalion 205 

souls. She is immensely interested in him. She has even 
secret mischievous moments in which she wishes she could 
get him alone, on a desert island, away from all ties and 
with nobody else in the world to consider, and just drag 
himoffhispedestal and see himmakinglovelike any common 
man. We all have private imaginations of that sort. But 
when it comes to business, to the life that she really leads 
as distinguished from the life of dreams and fancies, she 
likes Freddy and she likes the Colonel ; and she does not 
like Higgins and Mr. Doolittle. Galatea never does quite 
like Pygmalion : his relation to her is too godlike to be 
altogether agreeable. 

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








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PR Shaw, George Bernard 

5363 Androcles and the lion