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Title: The Admirable Bashville - or, Constancy Unrewarded
Author: Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Price 40 cents net


    Dramatic Opinions and Essays.   2 vols.     _Net_, $2.50
    Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant.  2 vols.     _Net_, $2.50
    John Bull's Other Island and Major Barbara. _Net_, $1.50
    Man and Superman                            _Net_, $1.25
    Three Plays for Puritans                    _Net_, $1.25
    The Doctor's Dilemma, Getting Married, and
        The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet.        _Net_, $1.50
    The Quintessence of Ibsenism                       $1.00
    Cashel Byron's Profession                          $1.25
    An Unsocial Socialist                              $1.25
    The Irrational Knot                                $1.50
    The Author's Apology                        _Net_,   .60
    The Perfect Wagnerite                              $1.25
    Love Among the Artists                             $1.50
    The Admirable Bashville: A Play             _Net_,   .50

    _Postage or Express, Extra_

       *       *       *       *       *


    Fifth Avenue and 27th Street New York


     "Over Bashville the footman I howled with derision and delight. I
     dote on Bashville: I could read of him for ever: _de Bashville je
     suis le fervent_: there is only one Bashville; and I am his devoted
     slave: Bashville est magnifique; mais il n'est guère possible."





This play has been publicly performed within the United Kingdom. It is
entered at Stationers' Hall and The Library of Congress, U. S. A.

_Copyright, 1901, by Herbert S. Stone and Company_

_Copyright, 1907, by Bernard Shaw_

All rights reserved


The Admirable Bashville is a product of the British law of copyright. As
that law stands at present, the first person who patches up a stage
version of a novel, however worthless and absurd that version may be,
and has it read by himself and a few confederates to another confederate
who has paid for admission in a hall licensed for theatrical
performances, secures the stage rights of that novel, even as against
the author himself; and the author must buy him out before he can touch
his own work for the purposes of the stage.

A famous case in point is the drama of East Lynne, adapted from the late
Mrs. Henry Wood's novel of that name. It was enormously popular, and is
still the surest refuge of touring companies in distress. Many authors
feel that Mrs. Henry Wood was hardly used in not getting any of the
money which was plentifully made in this way through her story. To my
mind, since her literary copyright probably brought her a fair wage for
the work of writing the book, her real grievance was, first, that her
name and credit were attached to a play with which she had nothing to
do, and which may quite possibly have been to her a detestable travesty
and profanation of her story; and second, that the authors of that play
had the legal power to prevent her from having any version of her own
performed, if she had wished to make one.

There is only one way in which the author can protect himself; and that
is by making a version of his own and going through the same legal
farce with it. But the legal farce involves the hire of a hall and the
payment of a fee of two guineas to the King's Reader of Plays. When I
wrote Cashel Byron's Profession I had no guineas to spare, a common
disability of young authors. What is equally common, I did not know the
law. A reasonable man may guess a reasonable law, but no man can guess a
foolish anomaly. Fortunately, by the time my book so suddenly revived in
America I was aware of the danger, and in a position to protect myself
by writing and performing The Admirable Bashville. The prudence of doing
so was soon demonstrated; for rumors soon reached me of several American
stage versions; and one of these has actually been played in New York,
with the boxing scenes under the management (so it is stated) of the
eminent pugilist Mr. James J. Corbett. The New York press, in a somewhat
derisive vein, conveyed the impression that in this version Cashel Byron
sought to interest the public rather as the last of the noble race of
the Byrons of Dorsetshire than as his unromantic self; but in justice to
a play which I never read, and an actor whom I never saw, and who
honorably offered to treat me as if I had legal rights in the matter, I
must not accept the newspaper evidence as conclusive.

As I write these words, I am promised by the King in his speech to
Parliament a new Copyright Bill. I believe it embodies, in our British
fashion, the recommendations of the book publishers as to the concerns
of the authors, and the notions of the musical publishers as to the
concerns of the playwrights. As author and playwright I am duly obliged
to the Commission for saving me the trouble of speaking for myself, and
to the witnesses for speaking for me. But unless Parliament takes the
opportunity of giving the authors of all printed works of fiction,
whether dramatic or narrative, both playwright and copyright (as in
America), such to be independent of any insertions or omissions of
formulas about "all rights reserved" or the like, I am afraid the new
Copyright Bill will leave me with exactly the opinion both of the
copyright law and the wisdom of Parliament I at present entertain. As a
good Socialist I do not at all object to the limitation of my right of
property in my own works to a comparatively brief period, followed by
complete Communism: in fact, I cannot see why the same salutary
limitation should not be applied to all property rights whatsoever; but
a system which enables any alert sharper to acquire property rights in
my stories as against myself and the rest of the community would, it
seems to me, justify a rebellion if authors were numerous and warlike
enough to make one.

It may be asked why I have written The Admirable Bashville in blank
verse. My answer is that I had but a week to write it in. Blank verse is
so childishly easy and expeditious (hence, by the way, Shakespear's
copious output), that by adopting it I was enabled to do within the week
what would have cost me a month in prose.

Besides, I am fond of blank verse. Not nineteenth century blank verse,
of course, nor indeed, with a very few exceptions, any post-Shakespearean
blank verse. Nay, not Shakespearean blank verse itself later than the
histories. When an author can write the prose dialogue of the first
scene in As You Like It, or Hamlet's colloquies with Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern, there is really no excuse for The Seven Ages and "To be or
not to be," except the excuse of a haste that made great facility
indispensable. I am quite sure that any one who is to recover the charm
of blank verse must frankly go back to its beginnings and start a
literary pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I like the melodious sing-song, the
clear simple one-line and two-line sayings, and the occasional rhymed
tags, like the half closes in an eighteenth century symphony, in Peele,
Kyd, Greene, and the histories of Shakespear. How any one with music in
him can turn from Henry VI., John, and the two Richards to such a mess
of verse half developed into rhetorical prose as Cymbeline, is to me
explicable only by the uncivil hypothesis that the artistic qualities in
the Elizabethan drama do not exist for most of its critics; so that they
hang on to its purely prosaic content, and hypnotize themselves into
absurd exaggerations of the value of that content. Even poets fall under
the spell. Ben Jonson described Marlowe's line as "mighty"! As well put
Michael Angelo's epitaph on the tombstone of Paolo Uccello. No wonder
Jonson's blank verse is the most horribly disagreeable product in
literature, and indicates his most prosaic mood as surely as his shorter
rhymed measures indicate his poetic mood. Marlowe never wrote a mighty
line in his life: Cowper's single phrase, "Toll for the brave," drowns
all his mightinesses as Great Tom drowns a military band. But Marlowe
took that very pleasant-sounding rigmarole of Peele and Greene, and
added to its sunny daylight the insane splendors of night, and the cheap
tragedy of crime. Because he had only a common sort of brain, he was
hopelessly beaten by Shakespear; but he had a fine ear and a soaring
spirit: in short, one does not forget "wanton Arethusa's azure arms"
and the like. But the pleasant-sounding rigmarole was the basis of the
whole thing; and as long as that rigmarole was practised frankly for the
sake of its pleasantness, it was readable and speakable. It lasted until
Shakespear did to it what Raphael did to Italian painting; that is,
overcharged and burst it by making it the vehicle of a new order of
thought, involving a mass of intellectual ferment and psychological
research. The rigmarole could not stand the strain; and Shakespear's
style ended in a chaos of half-shattered old forms, half-emancipated new
ones, with occasional bursts of prose eloquence on the one hand,
occasional delicious echoes of the rigmarole, mostly from Calibans and
masque personages, on the other, with, alas! a great deal of filling up
with formulary blank verse which had no purpose except to save the
author's time and thought.

When a great man destroys an art form in this way, its ruins make
palaces for the clever would-be great. After Michael Angelo and Raphael,
Giulio Romano and the Carracci. After Marlowe and Shakespear, Chapman
and the Police News poet Webster. Webster's specialty was blood:
Chapman's, balderdash. Many of us by this time find it difficult to
believe that pre-Ruskinite art criticism used to prostrate itself before
the works of Domenichino and Guido, and to patronize the modest little
beginnings of those who came between Cimabue and Masaccio. But we have
only to look at our own current criticism of Elizabethan drama to
satisfy ourselves that in an art which has not yet found its Ruskin or
its pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the same folly is still academically
propagated. It is possible, and even usual, for men professing to have
ears and a sense of poetry to snub Peele and Greene and grovel before
Fletcher and Webster--Fletcher! a facile blank verse penny-a-liner:
Webster! a turgid paper cut-throat. The subject is one which I really
cannot pursue without intemperance of language. The man who thinks The
Duchess of Malfi better than David and Bethsabe is outside the pale, not
merely of literature, but almost of humanity.

Yet some of the worst of these post-Shakespearean duffers, from Jonson
to Heywood, suddenly became poets when they turned from the big drum of
pseudo-Shakespearean drama to the pipe and tabor of the masque, exactly
as Shakespear himself recovered the old charm of the rigmarole when he
turned from Prospero to Ariel and Caliban. Cyril Tourneur and Heywood
could certainly have produced very pretty rigmarole plays if they had
begun where Shakespear began, instead of trying to begin where he left
off. Jonson and Beaumont would very likely have done themselves credit
on the same terms: Marston would have had at least a chance. Massinger
was in his right place, such as it was; and one would not disturb the
gentle Ford, who was never born to storm the footlights. Webster could
have done no good anyhow or anywhere: the man was a fool. And Chapman
would always have been a blathering unreadable pedant, like Landor, in
spite of his classical amateurship and respectable strenuosity of
character. But with these exceptions it may plausibly be held that if
Marlowe and Shakespear could have been kept out of their way, the rest
would have done well enough on the lines of Peele and Greene. However,
they thought otherwise; and now that their freethinking paganism, so
dazzling to the pupils of Paley and the converts of Wesley, offers
itself in vain to the disciples of Darwin and Nietzsche, there is an
end of them. And a good riddance, too.

Accordingly, I have poetasted The Admirable Bashville in the rigmarole
style. And lest the Webster worshippers should declare that there is not
a single correct line in all my three acts, I have stolen or paraphrased
a few from Marlowe and Shakespear (not to mention Henry Carey); so that
if any man dares quote me derisively, he shall do so in peril of
inadvertently lighting on a purple patch from Hamlet or Faustus.

I have also endeavored in this little play to prove that I am not the
heartless creature some of my critics take me for. I have strictly
observed the established laws of stage popularity and probability. I
have simplified the character of the heroine, and summed up her
sweetness in the one sacred word: Love. I have given consistency to the
heroism of Cashel. I have paid to Morality, in the final scene, the
tribute of poetic justice. I have restored to Patriotism its usual place
on the stage, and gracefully acknowledged The Throne as the fountain of
social honor. I have paid particular attention to the construction of
the play, which will be found equal in this respect to the best
contemporary models.

And I trust the result will be found satisfactory.

    The Admirable Bashville; or, Constancy Unrewarded

                            ACT I

               _A glade in Wiltstoken Park_

                  _Enter_ LYDIA

    LYDIA. Ye leafy breasts and warm protecting wings
    Of mother trees that hatch our tender souls,
    And from the well of Nature in our hearts
    Thaw the intolerable inch of ice
    That bears the weight of all the stamping world.
    Hear ye me sing to solitude that I,
    Lydia Carew, the owner of these lands,
    Albeit most rich, most learned, and most wise,
    Am yet most lonely. What are riches worth
    When wisdom with them comes to show the purse bearer
    That life remains unpurchasable? Learning
    Learns but one lesson: doubt! To excel all
    Is, to be lonely. Oh, ye busy birds,
    Engrossed with real needs, ye shameless trees
    With arms outspread in welcome of the sun,
    Your minds, bent singly to enlarge your lives,
    Have given you wings and raised your delicate heads
    High heavens above us crawlers.

    [_A rook sets up a great cawing; and the other birds
    chatter loudly as a gust of wind sets the branches
    swaying. She makes as though she would shew them
    her sleeves._

                                      Lo, the leaves
    That hide my drooping boughs! Mock me--poor maid!--
    Deride with joyous comfortable chatter
    These stolen feathers. Laugh at me, the clothed one.
    Laugh at the mind fed on foul air and books.
    Books! Art! And Culture! Oh, I shall go mad.
    Give me a mate that never heard of these,
    A sylvan god, tree born in heart and sap;
    Or else, eternal maidhood be my hap.

    [_Another gust of wind and bird-chatter. She sits on
    the mossy root of an oak and buries her face in her
    hands._ CASHEL BYRON, _in a white singlet and
    breeches, comes through the trees_.

    CASHEL. What's this? Whom have we here? A woman!

    LYDIA [_looking up_].              Yes.

    CASHEL. You have no business here. I have. Away!
    Women distract me. Hence!

    LYDIA.                Bid you me hence?
    I am upon mine own ground. Who are you?
    I take you for a god, a sylvan god.
    This place is mine: I share it with the birds,
    The trees, the sylvan gods, the lovely company
    Of haunted solitudes.

    CASHEL.           A sylvan god!
    A goat-eared image! Do your statues speak?
    Walk? heave the chest with breath? or like a feather
    Lift you--like this?      [_He sets her on her feet._

    LYDIA [_panting_]. You take away my breath!
    You're strong. Your hands off, please. Thank you. Farewell.

    CASHEL. Before you go: when shall we meet again?

    LYDIA. Why should we meet again?

    CASHEL.             Who knows? We _shall_.
    That much I know by instinct. What's your name?

    LYDIA. Lydia Carew.

    CASHEL.            Lydia's a pretty name.
    Where do you live?

    LYDIA.    I' the castle.

    CASHEL [_thunderstruck_].   Do not say
    You are the lady of this great domain.

    LYDIA. I am.

    CASHEL.     Accursed luck! I took you for
    The daughter of some farmer. Well, your pardon.
    I came too close: I looked too deep. Farewell.

    LYDIA. I pardon that. Now tell me who you are.

    CASHEL. Ask me not whence I come, nor what I am.
    You are the lady of the castle. I
    Have but this hard and blackened hand to live by.

    LYDIA. I have felt its strength and envied you. Your name?
    I have told you mine.

    CASHEL.            My name is Cashel Byron.

    LYDIA. I never heard the name; and yet you utter it
    As men announce a celebrated name.
    Forgive my ignorance.

    CASHEL.          I bless it, Lydia.
    I have forgot your other name.

    LYDIA.                     Carew.
    Cashel's a pretty name, too.

    MELLISH [_calling through the wood_]. Coo-ee! Byron!

    CASHEL. A thousand curses! Oh, I beg you, go.
    This is a man you must not meet.

    MELLISH [_further off_].   Coo-ee!

    LYDIA. He's losing us. What does he in my woods?

    CASHEL. He is a part of what I am. What that is
    You must not know. It would end all between us.
    And yet there's no dishonor in't: your lawyer,
    Who let your lodge to me, will vouch me honest.
    I am ashamed to tell you what I am--
    At least, as yet. Some day, perhaps.

    MELLISH [_nearer_].                   Coo-ee!

    LYDIA. His voice is nearer. Fare you well, my tenant.
    When next your rent falls due, come to the castle.
    Pay me in person. Sir: your most obedient.      [_She curtsies and goes._

    CASHEL. Lives in this castle! Owns this park! A lady
    Marry a prizefighter! Impossible.
    And yet the prizefighter must marry her.

                  _Enter_ MELLISH

    Ensanguined swine, whelped by a doggish dam,
    Is this thy park, that thou, with voice obscene,
    Fillst it with yodeled yells, and screamst my name
    For all the world to know that Cashel Byron
    Is training here for combat.

    MELLISH.                      Swine you me?
    I've caught you, have I? You have found a woman.
    Let her shew here again, I'll set the dog on her.
    I will. I say it. And my name's Bob Mellish.

    CASHEL. Change thy initial and be truly hight
    Hellish. As for thy dog, why dost thou keep one
    And bark thyself? Begone.

    MELLISH.                 I'll not begone.
    You shall come back with me and do your duty--
    Your duty to your backers, do you hear?
    You have not punched the bag this blessed day.

    CASHEL. The putrid bag engirdled by thy belt
    Invites my fist.

    MELLISH [_weeping_]. Ingrate! O wretched lot!
    Who would a trainer be? O Mellish, Mellish,
    Trainer of heroes, builder-up of brawn,
    Vicarious victor, thou createst champions
    That quickly turn thy tyrants. But beware:
    Without me thou art nothing. Disobey me,
    And all thy boasted strength shall fall from thee.
    With flaccid muscles and with failing breath
    Facing the fist of thy more faithful foe,
    I'll see thee on the grass cursing the day
    Thou didst forswear thy training.

    CASHEL.                          Noisome quack
    That canst not from thine own abhorrent visage
    Take one carbuncle, thou contaminat'st
    Even with thy presence my untainted blood
    Preach abstinence to rascals like thyself
    Rotten with surfeiting. Leave me in peace.
    This grove is sacred: thou profanest it.
    Hence! I have business that concerns thee not.

    MELLISH. Ay, with your woman. You will lose your fight.
    Have you forgot your duty to your backers?
    Oh, what a sacred thing your duty is!
    What makes a man but duty? Where were we
    Without our duty? Think of Nelson's words:
    England expects that every man----

    CASHEL.                            Shall twaddle
    About his duty. Mellish: at no hour
    Can I regard thee wholly without loathing;
    But when thou play'st the moralist, by Heaven,
    My soul flies to my fist, my fist to thee;
    And never did the Cyclops' hammer fall
    On Mars's armor--but enough of that.
    It does remind me of my mother.

    MELLISH.                        Ah,
    Byron, let it remind thee. Once I heard
    An old song: it ran thus. [_He clears his throat._] Ahem, Ahem!

    [_Sings_]--They say there is no other
             Can take the place of mother--

    I am out o' voice: forgive me; but remember:
    Thy mother--were that sainted woman here--
    Would say, Obey thy trainer.

    CASHEL.                     Now, by Heaven,
    Some fate is pushing thee upon thy doom.
    Canst thou not hear thy sands as they run out?
    They thunder like an avalanche. Old man:
    Two things I hate, my duty and my mother.
    Why dost thou urge them both upon me now?
    Presume not on thine age and on thy nastiness.
    Vanish, and promptly.

    MELLISH.             Can I leave thee here
    Thus thinly clad, exposed to vernal dews?
    Come back with me, my son, unto our lodge.

    CASHEL. Within this breast a fire is newly lit
    Whose glow shall sun the dew away, whose radiance
    Shall make the orb of night hang in the heavens
    Unnoticed, like a glow-worm at high noon.

    MELLISH. Ah me, ah me, where wilt thou spend the night?

    CASHEL. Wiltstoken's windows wandering beneath,
    Wiltstoken's holy bell hearkening,
    Wiltstoken's lady loving breathlessly.

    MELLISH. The lady of the castle! Thou art mad.

    CASHEL. 'Tis thou art mad to trifle in my path.
    Thwart me no more. Begone.

    MELLISH.                  My boy, my son,
    I'd give my heart's blood for thy happiness.
    Thwart thee, my son! Ah, no. I'll go with thee.
    I'll brave the dews. I'll sacrifice my sleep.
    I am old--no matter: ne'er shall it be said
    Mellish deserted thee.

    CASHEL.               You resolute gods
    That will not spare this man, upon your knees
    Take the disparity twixt his age and mine.
    Now from the ring to the high judgment seat
    I step at your behest. Bear you me witness
    This is not Victory, but Execution.

    [_He solemnly projects his fist with colossal force
    against the waistcoat of_ MELLISH _who doubles up like
    a folded towel, and lies without sense or motion_.

    And now the night is beautiful again.

    [_The castle clock strikes the hour in the distance._

    Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark! Hark!
    It strikes in poetry. 'Tis ten o'clock.
    Lydia: to thee!

    [_He steals off towards the castle._ MELLISH _stirs and groans_.

                        ACT II

                   SCENE I

          _London. A room in Lydia's house_

         _Enter_ LYDIA _and_ LUCIAN

    LYDIA. Welcome, dear cousin, to my London house.
    Of late you have been chary of your visits.

    LUCIAN. I have been greatly occupied of late.
    The minister to whom I act as scribe
    In Downing Street was born in Birmingham,
    And, like a thoroughbred commercial statesman,
    Splits his infinities, which I, poor slave,
    Must reunite, though all the time my heart
    Yearns for my gentle coz's company.

    LYDIA. Lucian: there is some other reason. Think!
    Since England was a nation every mood
    Her scribes have prepositionally split;
    But thine avoidance dates from yestermonth.

    LUCIAN. There is a man I like not haunts this house.

    LYDIA. Thou speak'st of Cashel Byron?

    LUCIAN.                               Aye, of him.
    Hast thou forgotten that eventful night
    When as we gathered were at Hoskyn House
    To hear a lecture by Herr Abendgasse,
    He placed a single finger on my chest,
    And I, ensorceled, would have sunk supine
    Had not a chair received my falling form.

    LYDIA. Pooh! That was but by way of illustration.

    LUCIAN. What right had he to illustrate his point
    Upon my person? Was I his assistant
    That he should try experiments on me
    As Simpson did on his with chloroform?
    Now, by the cannon balls of Galileo
    He hath unmanned me: all my nerve is gone.
    This very morning my official chief,
    Tapping with friendly forefinger this button,
    Levelled me like a thunderstricken elm
    Flat upon the Colonial Office floor.

    LYDIA. Fancies, coz.

    LUCIAN.              Fancies! Fits! the chief said fits!
    Delirium tremens! the chlorotic dance
    Of Vitus! What could any one have thought?
    Your ruffian friend hath ruined me. By Heaven,
    I tremble at a thumbnail. Give me drink.

    LYDIA. What ho, without there! Bashville.

    BASHVILLE [_without_].                     Coming, madam.

                  _Enter_ BASHVILLE

    LYDIA. My cousin ails, Bashville. Procure some wet.    [_Exit_ BASHVILLE.

    LUCIAN. Some wet!!! Where learnt _you_ that atrocious word?
    This is the language of a flower-girl.

    LYDIA. True. It is horrible. Said I "Some wet"?
    I meant, some drink. Why did I say "Some wet"?
    Am I ensorceled too? "Some wet"! Fie! fie!
    I feel as though some hateful thing had stained me.
    Oh, Lucian, how could I have said "Some wet"?

    LUCIAN. The horrid conversation of this man
    Hath numbed thy once unfailing sense of fitness.

    LYDIA. Nay, he speaks very well: he's literate:
    Shakespear he quotes unconsciously.

    LUCIAN.                            And yet
    Anon he talks pure pothouse.

                  _Enter_ BASHVILLE

    BASHVILLE.                   Sir: your potion.

    LUCIAN. Thanks. [_He drinks._] I am better.

    A NEWSBOY [_calling without_]. Extra special _Star_!
    Result of the great fight! Name of the winner!

    LYDIA. Who calls so loud?

    BASHVILLE.                The papers, madam.

    LYDIA.                                       Why?
    Hath ought momentous happened?

    BASHVILLE.                    Madam: yes.    [_He produces a newspaper._
    All England for these thrilling paragraphs
    A week has waited breathless.

    LYDIA.                        Read them us.

    BASHVILLE [_reading_]. "At noon to-day, unknown to the police,
    Within a thousand miles of Wormwood Scrubbs,
    Th' Australian Champion and his challenger,
    The Flying Dutchman, formerly engaged
    I' the mercantile marine, fought to a finish.
    Lord Worthington, the well-known sporting peer
    Acted as referee."

    LYDIA.             Lord Worthington!

    BASHVILLE. "The bold Ned Skene revisited the ropes
    To hold the bottle for his quondam novice;
    Whilst in the seaman's corner were assembled
    Professor Palmer and the Chelsea Snob.
    Mellish, whose epigastrium has been hurt,
    'Tis said, by accident at Wiltstoken,
    Looked none the worse in the Australian's corner.
    The Flying Dutchman wore the Union Jack:
    His colors freely sold amid the crowd;
    But Cashel's well-known spot of white on blue----"

    LYDIA. _Whose_, did you say?

    BASHVILLE.                  Cashel's, my lady.

    LYDIA.                                         Lucian:
    Your hand--a chair--

    BASHVILLE.           Madam: you're ill.

    LYDIA.                                  Proceed.
    What you have read I do not understand;
    Yet I will hear it through. Proceed.

    LUCIAN.                              Proceed.

    BASHVILLE. "But Cashel's well-known spot of white on blue
    Was fairly rushed for. Time was called at twelve,
    When, with a smile of confidence upon
    His ocean-beaten mug----"

    LYDIA.                    His mug?

    LUCIAN [_explaining_].              His face.

    BASHVILLE [_continuing_]. "The Dutchman came undaunted to the scratch,
    But found the champion there already. Both
    Most heartily shook hands, amid the cheers
    Of their encouraged backers. Two to one
    Was offered on the Melbourne nonpareil;
    And soon, so fit the Flying Dutchman seemed,
    Found takers everywhere. No time was lost
    In getting to the business of the day.
    The Dutchman led at once, and seemed to land
    On Byron's dicebox; but the seaman's reach,
    Too short for execution at long shots,
    Did not get fairly home upon the ivory;
    And Byron had the best of the exchange."

    LYDIA. I do not understand. What were they doing?

    LUCIAN. Fighting with naked fists.

    LYDIA.                             Oh, horrible!
    I'll hear no more. Or stay: how did it end?
    Was Cashel hurt?

    LUCIAN [_to_ BASHVILLE]. Skip to the final round.

    BASHVILLE. "Round Three: the rumors that had gone about
    Of a breakdown in Byron's recent training
    Seemed quite confirmed. Upon the call of time
    He rose, and, looking anything but cheerful,
    Proclaimed with every breath Bellows to Mend.
    At this point six to one was freely offered
    Upon the Dutchman; and Lord Worthington
    Plunged at this figure till he stood to lose
    A fortune should the Dutchman, as seemed certain,
    Take down the number of the Panley boy.
    The Dutchman, glutton as we know he is,
    Seemed this time likely to go hungry. Cashel
    Was clearly groggy as he slipped the sailor,
    Who, not to be denied, followed him up,
    Forcing the fighting mid tremendous cheers."

    LYDIA. Oh stop--no more--or tell the worst at once.
    I'll be revenged. Bashville: call the police.
    This brutal sailor shall be made to know
    There's law in England.

    LUCIAN.                 Do not interrupt him:
    Mine ears are thirsting. Finish, man. What next?

    BASHVILLE. "Forty to one, the Dutchman's friends exclaimed.
    Done, said Lord Worthington, who shewed himself
    A sportsman every inch. Barely the bet
    Was booked, when, at the reeling champion's jaw
    The sailor, bent on winning out of hand,
    Sent in his right. The issue seemed a cert,
    When Cashel, ducking smartly to his left,
    Cross-countered like a hundredweight of brick----"

    LUCIAN. Death and damnation!

    LYDIA.                       Oh, what does it mean?

    BASHVILLE. "The Dutchman went to grass, a beaten man."

    LYDIA. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Oh, well done, Cashel!

    BASHVILLE. "A scene of indescribable excitement
    Ensued; for it was now quite evident
    That Byron's grogginess had all along
    Been feigned to make the market for his backers.
    We trust this sample of colonial smartness
    Will not find imitators on this side.
    The losers settled up like gentlemen;
    But many felt that Byron shewed bad taste
    In taking old Ned Skene upon his back,
    And, with Bob Mellish tucked beneath his oxter,
    Sprinting a hundred yards to show the crowd
    The perfect pink of his condition"--[_a knock_].

    LYDIA [_turning pale_].                         Bashville
    Didst hear? A knock.

    BASHVILLE.           Madam: 'tis Byron's knock.
    Shall I admit him?

    LUCIAN.            Reeking from the ring!
    Oh, monstrous! Say you're out.

    LYDIA.                         Send him away.
    I will not see the wretch. How dare he keep
    Secrets from ME? I'll punish him. Pray say
    I'm not at home. [BASHVILLE _turns to go_.] Yet stay. I am afraid
    He will not come again.

    LUCIAN.                A consummation
    Devoutly to be wished by any lady.
    Pray, do you _wish_ this man to come again?

    LYDIA. No, Lucian. He hath used me very ill.
    He should have told me. I will ne'er forgive him.
    Say, Not at home.

    BASHVILLE.      Yes, madam.      [_Exit._

    LYDIA.                      Stay--

    LUCIAN [_stopping her_].            No, Lydia:
    You shall not countermand that proper order.
    Oh, would you cast the treasure of your mind,
    The thousands at your bank, and, above all,
    Your unassailable social position
    Before this soulless mass of beef and brawn?

    LYDIA. Nay, coz: you're prejudiced.

    CASHEL [_without_].                  Liar and slave!

    LYDIA. What words were those?

    LUCIAN.                       The man is drunk with slaughter.

               _Enter_ BASHVILLE _running: he shuts the door and locks it_.

    BASHVILLE. Save yourselves: at the staircase foot the champion
    Sprawls on the mat, by trick of wrestler tripped;
    But when he rises, woe betide us all!

    LYDIA. Who bade you treat my visitor with violence?

    BASHVILLE. He would not take my answer; thrust the door
    Back in my face; gave me the lie i' the throat;
    Averred he felt your presence in his bones.
    I said he should feel mine there too, and felled him;
    Then fled to bar your door.

    LYDIA.                     O lover's instinct!
    He felt my presence. Well, let him come in.
    We must not fail in courage with a fighter.
    Unlock the door.

    LUCIAN.         Stop. Like all women, Lydia,
    You have the courage of immunity.
    To strike _you_ were against his code of honor;
    But _me_, above the belt, he may perform on
    T' th' height of his profession. Also Bashville.

    BASHVILLE. Think not of me, sir. Let him do his worst.
    Oh, if the valor of my heart could weigh
    The fatal difference twixt his weight and mine,
    A second battle should he do this day:
    Nay, though outmatched I be, let but my mistress
    Give me the word: instant I'll take him on
    Here--now--at catchweight. Better bite the carpet
    A man, than fly, a coward.

    LUCIAN.                   Bravely said:
    I will assist you with the poker.

    LYDIA.                            No:
    I will not have him touched. Open the door.

    BASHVILLE. Destruction knocks thereat. I smile, and open.

    [BASHVILLE _opens the door_. _Dead silence._ CASHEL
    _enters, in tears_. _A solemn pause._

    CASHEL. You know my secret?

    LYDIA.                      Yes.

    CASHEL.                          And thereupon
    You bade your servant fling me from your door.

    LYDIA. I bade my servant say I was not here.

    CASHEL [_to_ BASHVILLE]. Why didst thou better thy instruction, man?
    Hadst thou but said, "She bade me tell thee this,"
    Thoudst burst my heart. I thank thee for thy mercy.

    LYDIA. Oh, Lucian, didst thou call him "drunk with slaughter"?
    Canst thou refrain from weeping at his woe?

    CASHEL [_to_ LUCIAN]. The unwritten law that shields the amateur
    Against professional resentment, saves thee.
    O coward, to traduce behind their backs
    Defenceless prizefighters!

    LUCIAN.                   Thou dost avow
    Thou art a prizefighter.

    CASHEL.                 It was my glory.
    I had hoped to offer to my lady there
    My belts, my championships, my heaped-up stakes,
    My undefeated record; but I knew
    Behind their blaze a hateful secret lurked.

    LYDIA. Another secret?

    LUCIAN.                Is there worse to come?

    CASHEL. Know ye not then my mother is an actress?

    LUCIAN. How horrible!

    LYDIA.                Nay, nay: how interesting!

    CASHEL. A thousand victories cannot wipe out
    That birthstain. Oh, my speech bewrayeth it:
    My earliest lesson was the player's speech
    In Hamlet; and to this day I express myself
    More like a mobled queen than like a man
    Of flesh and blood. Well may your cousin sneer!
    What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba?

    LUCIAN. Injurious upstart: if by Hecuba
    Thou pointest darkly at my lovely cousin,
    Know that she is to me, and I to her,
    What never canst thou be. I do defy thee;
    And maugre all the odds thy skill doth give,
    Outside I will await thee.

    LYDIA.                      I forbid
    Expressly any such duello. Bashville:
    The door. Put Mr. Webber in a hansom,
    And bid the driver hie to Downing Street.
    No answer: 'tis my will.      [_Exeunt_ LUCIAN _and_ BASHVILLE.
    And now, farewell.
    You must not come again, unless indeed
    You can some day look in my eyes and say:
    Lydia: my occupation's gone.

    CASHEL.                     Ah, no:
    It would remind you of my wretched mother.
    O God, let me be natural a moment!
    What other occupation can I try?
    What would you have me be?

    LYDIA.                     A gentleman.

    CASHEL. A gentleman! I, Cashel Byron, stoop
    To be the thing that bets on me! the fool
    I flatter at so many coins a lesson!
    The screaming creature who beside the ring
    Gambles with basest wretches for my blood,
    And pays with money that he never earned!
    Let me die broken-hearted rather!

    LYDIA.                            But
    You need not be an idle gentleman.
    I call you one of Nature's gentlemen.

    CASHEL. That's the collection for the loser, Lydia.
    I am not wont to need it. When your friends
    Contest elections, and at foot o' th' poll
    Rue their presumption, 'tis their wont to claim
    A moral victory. In a sort they are
    Nature's M. P.s. I am not yet so threadbare
    As to accept these consolation stakes.

    LYDIA. You are offended with me.

    CASHEL.                          Yes, I am.
    I can put up with much; but--"Nature's gentleman"!
    I thank your ladyship of Lyons, but
    Must beg to be excused.

    LYDIA.                  But surely, surely,
    To be a prizefighter, and maul poor mariners
    With naked knuckles, is no work for you.

    CASHEL. Thou dost arraign the inattentive Fates
    That weave my thread of life in ruder patterns
    Than these that lie, antimacassarly,
    Asprent thy drawingroom. As well demand
    Why I at birth chose to begin my life
    A speechless babe, hairless, incontinent,
    Hobbling upon all fours, a nurse's nuisance?
    Or why I do propose to lose my strength,
    To blanch my hair, to let the gums recede
    Far up my yellowing teeth, and finally
    Lie down and moulder in a rotten grave?
    Only one thing more foolish could have been,
    And that was to be born, not man, but woman.
    This was thy folly, why rebuk'st thou mine?

    LYDIA. These are not things of choice.

    CASHEL.                                And did I choose
    My quick divining eye, my lightning hand,
    My springing muscle and untiring heart?
    Did I implant the instinct in the race
    That found a use for these, and said to me,
    Fight for us, and be fame and fortune thine?

    LYDIA. But there are other callings in the world.

    CASHEL. Go tell thy painters to turn stockbrokers,
    Thy poet friends to stoop o'er merchants' desks
    And pen prose records of the gains of greed.
    Tell bishops that religion is outworn,
    And that the Pampa to the horsebreaker
    Opes new careers. Bid the professor quit
    His fraudulent pedantries, and do i' the world
    The thing he would teach others. Then return
    To me and say: Cashel: they have obeyed;
    And on that pyre of sacrifice I, too,
    Will throw my championship.

    LYDIA.                      But 'tis so cruel.

    CASHEL. Is it so? I have hardly noticed that,
    So cruel are all callings. Yet this hand,
    That many a two days' bruise hath ruthless given,
    Hath kept no dungeon locked for twenty years,
    Hath slain no sentient creature for my sport.
    I am too squeamish for your dainty world,
    That cowers behind the gallows and the lash,
    The world that robs the poor, and with their spoil
    Does what its tradesmen tell it. Oh, your ladies!
    Sealskinned and egret-feathered; all defiance
    To Nature; cowering if one say to them
    "What will the servants think?" Your gentlemen!
    Your tailor-tyrannized visitors of whom
    Flutter of wing and singing in the wood
    Make chickenbutchers. And your medicine men!
    Groping for cures in the tormented entrails
    Of friendly dogs. Pray have you asked all these
    To change their occupations? Find you mine
    So grimly crueller? I cannot breathe
    An air so petty and so poisonous.

    LYDIA. But find you not their manners very nice?

    CASHEL. To me, perfection. Oh, they condescend
    With a rare grace. Your duke, who condescends
    Almost to the whole world, might for a Man
    Pass in the eyes of those who never saw
    The duke capped with a prince. See then, ye gods,
    The duke turn footman, and his eager dame
    Sink the great lady in the obsequious housemaid!
    Oh, at such moments I could wish the Court
    Had but one breadbasket, that with my fist
    I could make all its windy vanity
    Gasp itself out on the gravel. Fare you well.
    I did not choose my calling; but at least
    I can refrain from being a gentleman.

    LYDIA. You say farewell to me without a pang.

    CASHEL. My calling hath apprenticed me to pangs.
    This is a rib-bender; but I can bear it.
    It is a lonely thing to be a champion.

    LYDIA. It is a lonelier thing to be a woman.

    CASHEL. Be lonely then. Shall it be said of thee
    That for his brawn thou misalliance mad'st
    Wi' the Prince of Ruffians? Never. Go thy ways;
    Or, if thou hast nostalgia of the mud,
    Wed some bedoggéd wretch that on the slot
    Of gilded snobbery, _ventre à terre_,
    Will hunt through life with eager nose on earth
    And hang thee thick with diamonds. I am rich;
    But all my gold was fought for with my hands.

    LYDIA. What dost thou mean by rich?

    CASHEL.                           There is a man,
    Hight Paradise, vaunted unconquerable,
    Hath dared to say he will be glad to hear from me.
    I have replied that none can hear from _me_
    Until a thousand solid pounds be staked.
    His friends have confidently found the money.
    Ere fall of leaf that money shall be mine;
    And then I shall possess ten thousand pounds.
    I had hoped to tempt thee with that monstrous sum.

    LYDIA. Thou silly Cashel, 'tis but a week's income.
    I did propose to give thee three times that
    For pocket money when we two were wed.

    CASHEL. Give me my hat. I have been fooling here.
    Now, by the Hebrew lawgiver, I thought
    That only in America such revenues
    Were decent deemed. Enough. My dream is dreamed.
    Your gold weighs like a mountain on my chest.

    LYDIA. The golden mountain shall be thine
    The day thou quit'st thy horrible profession.

    CASHEL. Tempt me not, woman. It is honor calls.
    Slave to the Ring I rest until the face
    Of Paradise be changed.

                  _Enter_ BASHVILLE

    BASHVILLE.              Madam, your carriage,
    Ordered by you at two. 'Tis now half-past.

    CASHEL. Sdeath! is it half-past two? The king! the king!

    LYDIA. The king! What mean you?

    CASHEL.                         I must meet a monarch
    This very afternoon at Islington.

    LYDIA. At Islington! You must be mad.

    CASHEL.                               A cab!
    Go call a cab; and let a cab be called;
    And let the man that calls it be thy footman.

    LYDIA. You are not well. You shall not go alone.
    My carriage waits. I must accompany you.
    I go to find my hat.      [_Exit._

    CASHEL.             Like Paracelsus,
    Who went to find his soul. [_To_ BASHVILLE.] And now, young man,
    How comes it that a fellow of your inches,
    So deft a wrestler and so bold a spirit,
    Can stoop to be a flunkey? Call on me
    On your next evening out. I'll make a man of you.
    Surely you are ambitious and aspire----

    BASHVILLE. To be a butler and draw corks; wherefore,
    By Heaven, I will draw yours.

    [_He hits_ CASHEL _on the nose, and runs out_.

    CASHEL [_thoughtfully putting the side of his forefinger
    to his nose_, _and studying the blood on it_].

        Too quick for _me_!
    There's money in this youth.

    _Re-enter_ LYDIA, _hatted and gloved_.

    LYDIA.                      O Heaven! you bleed.

    CASHEL. Lend me a key or other frigid object,
    That I may put it down my back, and staunch
    The welling life stream.

    LYDIA. [_giving him her keys_]. Oh, what _have_ you done?

    CASHEL. Flush on the boko napped your footman's left.

    LYDIA. I do not understand.

    CASHEL.                     True. Pardon me.
    I have received a blow upon the nose
    In sport from Bashville. Next, ablution; else
    I shall be total gules.      [_He hurries out._

    LYDIA.                  How well he speaks!
    There is a silver trumpet in his lips
    That stirs me to the finger ends. His nose
    Dropt lovely color: 'tis a perfect blood.
    I would 'twere mingled with mine own!

                  _Enter_ BASHVILLE

                                          What now?

    BASHVILLE. Madam, the coachman can no longer wait:
    The horses will take cold.

    LYDIA.                    I do beseech him
    A moment's grace. Oh, mockery of wealth!
    The third class passenger unchidden rides
    Whither and when he will: obsequious trams
    Await him hourly: subterranean tubes
    With tireless coursers whisk him through the town;
    But we, the rich, are slaves to Houyhnhnms:
    We wait upon their colds, and frowst all day
    Indoors, if they but cough or spurn their hay.

    BASHVILLE. Madam, an omnibus to Euston Road,
    And thence t' th' Angel--

                  _Enter_ CASHEL

    LYDIA.                    Let us haste, my love:
    The coachman is impatient.

    CASHEL.                    Did he guess
    He stays for Cashel Byron, he'd outwait
    Pompei's sentinel. Let us away.
    This day of deeds, as yet but half begun,
    Must ended be in merrie Islington.      [_Exeunt_ LYDIA _and_ CASHEL.

    BASHVILLE. Gods! how she hangs on's arm! I am alone.
    Now let me lift the cover from my soul.
    O wasted humbleness! Deluded diffidence!
    How often have I said, Lie down, poor footman:
    She'll never stoop to thee, rear as thou wilt
    Thy powder to the sky. And now, by Heaven,
    She stoops below me; condescends upon
    This hero of the pothouse, whose exploits,
    Writ in my character from my last place,
    Would damn me into ostlerdom. And yet
    There's an eternal justice in it; for
    By so much as the ne'er subduéd Indian
    Excels the servile negro, doth this ruffian
    Precedence take of me. "_Ich dien._" Damnation!
    I serve. My motto should have been, "I scalp."
    And yet I do not bear the yoke for gold.
    Because I love her I have blacked her boots;
    Because I love her I have cleaned her knives,
    Doing in this the office of a boy,
    Whilst, like the celebrated maid that milks
    And does the meanest chares, I've shared the passions
    Of Cleopatra. It has been my pride
    To give her place the greater altitude
    By lowering mine, and of her dignity
    To be so jealous that my cheek has flamed
    Even at the thought of such a deep disgrace
    As love for such a one as I would be
    For such a one as she; and now! and now!
    A prizefighter! O irony! O bathos!
    To have made way for this! Oh, Bashville, Bashville:
    Why hast thou thought so lowly of thyself,
    So heavenly high of her? Let what will come,
    My love must speak: 'twas my respect was dumb.

                       SCENE II

    _The Agricultural Hall in Islington, crowded with spectators.
    In the arena a throne, with a boxing ring
    before it. A balcony above on the right_, _occupied
    by persons of fashion_: _among others_, LYDIA _and_

    _Flourish._ _Enter_ LUCIAN _and_ CETEWAYO, _with Chiefs in attendance_.

    CETEWAYO. Is this the Hall of Husbandmen?

    LUCIAN.                                   It is.

    CETEWAYO. Are these anæmic dogs the English people?

    LUCIAN. Mislike us not for our complexions,
    The pallid liveries of the pall of smoke
    Belched by the mighty chimneys of our factories,
    And by the million patent kitchen ranges
    Of happy English homes.

    CETEWAYO.               When first I came
    I deemed those chimneys the fuliginous altars
    Of some infernal god. I now perceive
    The English dare not look upon the sky.
    They are moles and owls: they call upon the soot
    To cover them.

    LUCIAN.       You cannot understand
    The greatness of this people, Cetewayo.
    You are a savage, reasoning like a child.
    Each pallid English face conceals a brain
    Whose powers are proven in the works of Newton
    And in the plays of the immortal Shakespear.
    There is not one of all the thousands here
    But, if you placed him naked in the desert,
    Would presently construct a steam engine,
    And lay a cable t' th' Antipodes.

    CETEWAYO. Have I been brought a million miles by sea
    To learn how men can lie! Know, Father Webber,
    Men become civilized through twin diseases,
    Terror and Greed to wit: these two conjoined
    Become the grisly parents of Invention.
    Why does the trembling white with frantic toil
    Of hand and brain produce the magic gun
    That slays a mile off, whilst the manly Zulu
    Dares look his foe i' the face; fights foot to foot;
    Lives in the present; drains the Here and Now;
    Makes life a long reality, and death
    A moment only! whilst your Englishman
    Glares on his burning candle's winding-sheets,
    Counting the steps of his approaching doom.
    And in the murky corners ever sees
    Two horrid shadows, Death and Poverty:
    In the which anguish an unnatural edge
    Comes on his frighted brain, which straight devises
    Strange frauds by which to filch unearnéd gold,
    Mad crafts by which to slay unfacéd foes,
    Until at last his agonized desire
    Makes possibility its slave. And then--
    Horrible climax! All-undoing spite!--
    Th' importunate clutching of the coward's hand
    From wearied Nature Devastation's secrets
    Doth wrest; when straight the brave black-livered man
    Is blown explosively from off the globe;
    And Death and Dread, with their white-livered slaves
    O'er-run the earth, and through their chattering teeth
    Stammer the words "Survival of the Fittest."
    Enough of this: I came not here to talk.
    Thou say'st thou hast two white-faced ones who dare
    Fight without guns, and spearless, to the death.
    Let them be brought.

    LUCIAN.             They fight not to the death,
    But under strictest rules: as, for example,
    Half of their persons shall not be attacked;
    Nor shall they suffer blows when they fall down,
    Nor stroke of foot at any time. And, further,
    That frequent opportunities of rest
    With succor and refreshment be secured them.

    CETEWAYO. Ye gods, what cowards! Zululand, my Zululand:
    Personified Pusillanimity
    Hath ta'en thee from the bravest of the brave!

    LUCIAN. Lo, the rude savage whose untutored mind
    Cannot perceive  self-evidence, and doubts
    That Brave and English mean the self-same thing!

    CETEWAYO. Well, well, produce these heroes. I surmise
    They will be carried by their nurses, lest
    Some barking dog or bumbling bee should scare them.

    CETEWAYO _takes his state_. _Enter_ PARADISE

    LYDIA. What hateful wretch is this whose mighty thews
    Presage destruction to his adversaries?

    LORD WORTHINGTON. 'Tis Paradise.

    LYDIA.                           He of whom Cashel spoke?
    A dreadful thought ices my heart. Oh, why
    Did Cashel leave us at the door?

                  _Enter_ CASHEL

    The champion comes.

    LYDIA.             Oh, I could kiss him now,
    Here, before all the world. His boxing things
    Render him most attractive. But I fear
    Yon villain's fists may maul him.

    WORTHINGTON.                      Have no fear.
    Hark! the king speaks.

    CETEWAYO.             Ye sons of the white queen:
    Tell me your names and deeds ere ye fall to.

    PARADISE. Your royal highness, you beholds a bloke
    What gets his living honest by his fists.
    I may not have the polish of some toffs
    As I could mention on; but up to now
    No man has took my number down. I scale
    Close on twelve stun; my age is twenty-three;
    And at Bill Richardson's Blue Anchor pub
    Am to be heard of any day by such
    As likes the job. I don't know, governor,
    As ennythink remains for me to say.

    CETEWAYO. Six wives and thirty oxen shalt thou have
    If on the sand thou leave thy foeman dead.
    Methinks he looks scornfully on thee.
    [_To_ CASHEL] Ha! dost thou not so?

    CASHEL.                          Sir, I do beseech you
    To name the bone, or limb, or special place
    Where you would have me hit him with this fist.

    CETEWAYO. Thou hast a noble brow; but much I fear
    Thine adversary will disfigure it.

    CASHEL. There's a divinity that shapes our ends
    Rough hew them how we will. Give me the gloves.

    THE MASTER OF THE REVELS. Paradise, a professor.
    Cashel Byron,
    Also professor. Time!      [_They spar._

    LYDIA.                Eternity
    It seems to me until this fight be done.

    CASHEL. Dread monarch: this is called the upper cut,
    And this a hook-hit of mine own invention.
    The hollow region where I plant this blow
    Is called the mark. My left, you will observe,
    I chiefly use for long shots: with my right
    Aiming beside the angle of the jaw
    And landing with a certain delicate screw
    I without violence knock my foeman out.
    Mark how he falls forward upon his face!
    The rules allow ten seconds to get up;
    And as the man is still quite silly, I
    Might safely finish him; but my respect
    For your most gracious majesty's desire
    To see some further triumphs of the science
    Of self-defence postpones awhile his doom.

    PARADISE. How can a bloke do hisself proper justice
    With pillows on his fists?

    [_He tears off his gloves and attacks_ CASHEL _with his bare knuckles_.

    THE CROWD.                  Unfair! The rules!

    CETEWAYO. The joy of battle surges boiling up
    And bids me join the mellay. Isandhlana
    And Victory!      [_He falls on the bystanders._

    THE CHIEFS. Victory and Isandhlana!

    [_They run amok. General panic and stampede. The ring is swept away._

    LUCIAN. Forbear these most irregular proceedings.
    Police! Police!

    [_He engages_ CETEWAYO _his umbrella_. _The balcony
    comes down with a crash. Screams from its
    occupants. Indescribable confusion._

    CASHEL [_dragging_ LYDIA _from the struggling heap_].
    My love, my love, art hurt?

    LYDIA. No, no; but save my sore o'ermatchéd cousin.

    A POLICEMAN. Give us a lead, sir. Save the English flag.
    Africa tramples on it.

    CASHEL.                Africa!
    Not all the continents whose mighty shoulders
    The dancing diamonds of the seas bedeck
    Shall trample on the blue with spots of white.
    Now, Lydia, mark thy lover.      [_He charges the Zulus._

    LYDIA.                      Hercules
    Cannot withstand him. See: the king is down;
    The tallest chief is up, heels over head,
    Tossed corklike o'er my Cashel's sinewy back;
    And his lieutenant all deflated gasps
    For breath upon the sand. The others fly
    In vain: his fist o'er magic distances
    Like a chameleon's tongue shoots to its mark;
    And the last African upon his knees
    Sues piteously for quarter. [_Rushing into_ CASHEL'S _arms_.]
    Oh, my hero: Thou'st saved us all this day.

    CASHEL.                       'Twas all for thee.

    CETEWAYO. [_trying to rise_]. Have I been struck  by lightning?

    LUCIAN.                                          Sir, your conduct
    Can only be described as most ungentlemanly.

    POLICEMAN. One of the prone is white.

    CASHEL.                               'Tis Paradise.

    POLICEMAN. He's choking: he has something in his mouth.

    LYDIA [_to_ CASHEL]. Oh Heaven! there is blood upon your hip.
    You're hurt.

    CASHEL.     The morsel in yon wretch's mouth
    Was bitten out of me.

    [_Sensation._ LYDIA _screams and swoons in_ CASHEL'S _arms_.

                          ACT III

         _Wiltstoken. A room in the Warren Lodge_

           LYDIA _at her writing table_

    LYDIA. O Past and Present, how ye do conflict
    As here I sit writing my father's life!
    The autumn woodland woos me from without
    With whispering of leaves and dainty airs
    To leave this fruitless haunting of the past.
    My father was a very learnéd man.
    I sometimes think I shall oldmaided be
    Ere I unlearn the things he taught to me.

                  _Enter_ POLICEMAN

    POLICEMAN. Asking your ladyship to pardon me
    For this intrusion, might I be so bold
    As ask a question of your people here
    Concerning the Queen's peace?

    LYDIA.                       My people here
    Are but a footman and a simple maid;
    And both have craved a holiday to join
    Some local festival. But, sir, your helmet
    Proclaims the Metropolitan Police.

    POLICEMAN. Madam, it does; and I may now inform you
    That what you term a local festival
    Is a most hideous outrage 'gainst the law,
    Which we to quell from London have come down:
    In short, a prizefight. My sole purpose here
    Is to inquire whether your ladyship
    Any bad characters this afternoon
    Has noted in the neighborhood.

    LYDIA.                        No, none, sir.
    I had not let my maid go forth to-day
    Thought I the roads unsafe.

    POLICEMAN.                  Fear nothing, madam:
    The force protects the fair. My mission here
    Is to wreak ultion for the broken law.
    I wish your ladyship good afternoon.

    LYDIA. Good afternoon.      [_Exit_ POLICEMAN.
                          A prizefight! O my heart!
    Cashel: hast thou deceived me? Can it be
    Thou hast backslidden to the hateful calling
    I asked thee to eschew?
                            O wretched maid,
    Why didst thou flee from London to this place
    To write thy father's life, whenas in town
    Thou might'st have kept a guardian eye on him--
    What's that? A flying footstep--

                  _Enter_ CASHEL

    CASHEL.                           Sanctuary!
    The law is on my track. What! Lydia here!

    LYDIA. Ay: Lydia here. Hast thou done murder, then,
    That in so horrible a guise thou comest?

    CASHEL. Murder! I would I had. Yon cannibal
    Hath forty thousand lives; and I have ta'en
    But thousands thirty-nine. I tell thee, Lydia,
    On the impenetrable sarcolobe
    That holds his seedling brain these fists have pounded
    By Shrewsb'ry clock an hour. This bruiséd grass
    And cakéd mud adhering to my form
    I have acquired in rolling on the sod
    Clinched in his grip. This scanty reefer coat
    For decency snatched up as fast I fled
    When the police arrived, belongs to Mellish.
    'Tis all too short; hence my display of rib
    And forearm mother-naked. Be not wroth
    Because I seem to wink at you: by Heaven,
    'Twas Paradise that plugged me in the eye
    Which I perforce keep closing. Pity me,
    My training wasted and my blows unpaid,
    Sans stakes, sans victory, sans everything
    I had hoped to win. Oh, I could sit me down
    And weep for bitterness.

    LYDIA.                  Thou wretch, begone.

    CASHEL. Begone!

    LYDIA.          I say begone. Oh, tiger's heart
    Wrapped in a young man's hide, canst thou not live
    In love with Nature and at peace with Man?
    Must thou, although thy hands were never made
    To blacken others' eyes, still batter at
    The image of Divinity? I loathe thee.
    Hence from my house and never see me more.

    CASHEL. I go. The meanest lad on thy estate
    Would not betray me thus. But 'tis no matter.      [_He opens the door._
    Ha! the police. I'm lost.      [_He shuts the door again._
                              Now shalt thou see
    My last fight fought. Exhausted as I am,
    To capture me will cost the coppers dear.
    Come one, come all!

    LYDIA.              Oh, hide thee, I implore:
    I cannot see thee hunted down like this.
    There is my room. Conceal thyself therein.
    Quick, I command.      [_He goes into the room._
                      With horror I foresee,
    Lydia, that never lied, must lie for thee.

    _Enter_ POLICEMAN, _with_ PARADISE _and_ MELLISH _in
    custody_, BASHVILLE, _constable_s, _and others_

    POLICEMAN. Keep back your bruiséd prisoner lest he shock
    This wellbred lady's nerves. Your pardon, ma'am;
    But have you seen by chance the other one?
    In this direction he was seen to run.

    LYDIA. A man came here anon with bloody hands
    And aspect that did turn my soul to snow.

    POLICEMAN. 'Twas he. What said he?

    LYDIA.                             Begged for sanctuary.
    I bade the man begone.

    POLICEMAN.            Most properly.
    Saw you which way he went?

    LYDIA.                     I cannot tell.

    PARADISE. He seen me coming; and he done a bunk.

    POLICEMAN. Peace, there. Excuse his damaged features, lady:
    He's Paradise; and this one's Byron's trainer,

    MELLISH. Injurious copper, in thy teeth
    I hurl the lie. I am no trainer, I.
    My father, a respected missionary,
    Apprenticed me at fourteen years of age
    T' the poetry writing. To these woods I came
    With Nature to commune. My revery
    Was by a sound of blows rudely dispelled.
    Mindful of what my sainted parent taught,
    I rushed to play the peacemaker, when lo!
    These minions of the law laid hands on me.

    BASHVILLE. A lovely woman, with distracted cries,
    In most resplendent fashionable frock,
    Approaches like a wounded antelope.

                  _Enter_ ADELAIDE GISBORNE

    ADELAIDE. Where is my Cashel? Hath he been arrested?

    POLICEMAN. I would I had thy Cashel by the collar:
    He hath escaped me.

    ADELAIDE.           Praises be for ever!

    LYDIA. Why dost thou call the missing man _thy_ Cashel?

    ADELAIDE. He is mine only son.

    ALL.                           Thy son!

    ADELAIDE.                               My son.

    LYDIA. I thought his mother hardly would have known him,
    So crushed his countenance.

    ADELAIDE.                   A ribald peer,
    Lord Worthington by name, this morning came
    With honeyed words beseeching me to mount
    His four-in-hand, and to the country hie
    To see some English sport. Being by nature
    Frank as a child, I fell into the snare,
    But took so long to dress that the design
    Failed of its full effect; for not until
    The final round we reached the horrid scene.
    Be silent all; for now I do approach
    My tragedy's catastrophe. Know, then,
    That Heaven did bless me with an only son,
    A boy devoted to his doting mother----

    POLICEMAN. Hark! did you hear an oath from yonder room?

    ADELAIDE. Respect a  broken-hearted mother's grief,
    And do not interrupt me in my scene.
    Ten years ago my darling disappeared
    (Ten dreary twelvemonths of continuous tears,
    Tears that have left me prematurely aged;
    For I am younger far than I appear).
    Judge of my anguish when to-day I saw
    Stripped to the waist, and fighting like a demon
    With one who, whatsoe'er his humble virtues,
    Was clearly not a gentleman, my son!

    ALL. O strange event! O passing tearful tale!

    ADELAIDE. I thank you from the bottom of my heart
    For the reception you have given my woe;
    And now I ask, where is my wretched son?
    He must at once come home with me, and quit
    A course of life that cannot be allowed.

                  _Enter_ CASHEL

    CASHEL. Policeman: I do yield me to the law.

    LYDIA. Oh, no.

    ADELAIDE.      My son!

    CASHEL.               My mother! Do not kiss me.
    My visage is too sore.

    POLICEMAN.             The lady hid him.
    This is a regular plant. You cannot be
    Up to that sex. [_To_ CASHEL] You come along with me.

    LYDIA. Fear not, my Cashel: I will bail thee out.

    CASHEL. Never. I do embrace my doom with joy.
    With Paradise in Pentonville or Portland
    I shall feel safe: there are no mothers there.

    ADELAIDE. Ungracious boy--

    CASHEL.                    Constable: bear me hence.

    MELLISH. Oh, let me sweetest reconcilement make
    By calling to thy mind that moving song:--

        [_Sings_] They say there is no other--

    CASHEL. Forbear at once, or the next note of music
    That falls upon thine ear shall clang in thunder
    From the last trumpet.

    ADELAIDE.               A disgraceful threat
    To level at this virtuous old man.

    LYDIA. Oh, Cashel, if thou scorn'st thy mother thus,
    How wilt thou treat thy wife?

    CASHEL.                       There spake my fate:
    I knew you would say that. Oh, mothers, mothers,
    Would you but let your wretched sons alone
    Life were worth living! Had I any choice
    In this importunate relationship?
    None. And until that high auspicious day
    When the millennium on an orphaned world
    Shall dawn, and man upon his fellow look,
    Reckless of consanguinity, my mother
    And I within the self-same hemisphere
    Conjointly may not dwell.

    ADELAIDE.                 Ungentlemanly!

    CASHEL. I am no gentleman. I am a criminal,
    Redhanded, baseborn--

    ADELAIDE.             Baseborn! Who dares say it?
    Thou art the son and heir of Bingley Bumpkin
    FitzAlgernon de Courcy Cashel Byron,
    Sieur of Park Lane and Overlord of Dorset,
    Who after three months' wedded happiness
    Rashly fordid himself with prussic acid,
    Leaving a tearstained note to testify
    That having sweetly honeymooned with me,
    He now could say, O Death, where is thy sting?

    POLICEMAN. Sir: had I known your quality, this cop
    I had averted; but it is too late.
    The law's above us both.

                  _Enter_ LUCIAN, _with an Order in Council_

    LUCIAN.                 Not so, policeman
    I bear a message from The Throne itself
    Of fullest amnesty for Byron's past.
    Nay, more: of Dorset deputy lieutenant
    He is proclaimed. Further, it is decreed,
    In memory of his glorious victory
    Over our country's foes at Islington,
    The flag of England shall for ever bear
    On azure field twelve swanlike spots of white;
    And by an exercise of feudal right
    Too long disused in this anarchic age
    Our sovereign doth confer on him the hand
    Of Miss Carew, Wiltstoken's wealthy heiress.      [_General acclamation._

    POLICEMAN. Was anything, sir, said about me?

    LUCIAN. Thy faithful services are not forgot:
    In future call thyself Inspector Smith.      [_Renewed acclamation._

    POLICEMAN. I thank you, sir. I thank you, gentlemen.

    LUCIAN. My former opposition, valiant champion,
    Was based on the supposed discrepancy
    Betwixt your rank and Lydia's. Here's my hand.

    BASHVILLE. And I do here unselfishly renounce
    All my pretensions to my lady's favor.      [_Sensation._

    LYDIA. What, Bashville! didst thou love me?

    BASHVILLE.                                  Madam: yes.
    'Tis said: now let me leave immediately.

    LYDIA. In taking, Bashville, this most tasteful course
    You are but acting as a gentleman
    In the like case would act. I fully grant
    Your perfect right to make a declaration
    Which flatters me and honors your ambition.
    Prior attachment bids me firmly say
    That whilst my Cashel lives, and polyandry
    Rests foreign to the British social scheme,
    Your love is hopeless; still, your services,
    Made zealous by disinterested passion,
    Would greatly add to my domestic comfort;
    And if----

    CASHEL. Excuse me. I have other views.
    I've noted in this man such aptitude
    For art and exercise in his defence
    That I prognosticate for him a future
    More glorious than my past. Henceforth I dub him
    The Admirable Bashville, Byron's Novice;
    And to the utmost of my mended fortunes
    Will back him 'gainst the world at ten stone six.

    ALL. Hail, Byron's Novice, champion that shall be!

    BASHVILLE. Must I renounce my lovely lady's service,
    And mar the face of man?

    CASHEL.                 'Tis Fate's decree.
    For know, rash youth, that in this star crost world
    Fate drives us all to find our chiefest good
    In what we _can_, and not in what we _would_.

    POLICEMAN. A post-horn--hark!

    CASHEL.                      What noise of wheels is this?

    LORD WORTHINGTON _drives upon the scene in his four-in-hand_,
    _and descends_

    ADELAIDE. Perfidious peer!

    LORD WORTHINGTON.          Sweet Adelaide----

    ADELAIDE.                                     Forbear,
    Audacious one: my name is Mrs. Byron.

    LORD WORTHINGTON. Oh, change that title for the sweeter one
    Of Lady Worthington.

    CASHEL.             Unhappy man,
    You know not what you do.

    LYDIA.                   Nay, 'tis a match
    Of most auspicious promise. Dear Lord Worthington,
    You tear from us our mother-in-law--

    CASHEL.                              Ha! true.

    LYDIA.--but we will make the sacrifice. She blushes:
    At least she very prettily produces
    Blushing's effect.

    ADELAIDE.        My lord: I do accept you.  [_They embrace. Rejoicings._

    CASHEL [_aside_]. It wrings my heart to see my noble backer
    Lay waste his future thus. The world's a chessboard,
    And we the merest pawns in fist of Fate.
    [_Aloud._] And now, my friends, gentle and simple both,
    Our scene draws to a close. In lawful course
    As Dorset's deputy lieutenant I
    Do pardon all concerned this afternoon
    In the late gross and brutal exhibition
    Of miscalled sport.

    LYDIA [_throwing herself into his arms_]. Your boats
    are burnt at last.

    CASHEL. This is the face that burnt a thousand boats,
    And ravished Cashel Byron from the ring.
    But to conclude. Let William Paradise
    Devote himself to science, and acquire,
    By studying the player's speech in Hamlet,
    A more refined address. You, Robert Mellish,
    To the Blue Anchor hostelry attend him;
    Assuage his hurts, and bid Bill Richardson
    Limit his access to the fatal tap.
    Now mount we on my backer's four-in-hand,
    And to St. George's Church, whose portico
    Hanover Square shuts off from Conduit Street,
    Repair we all. Strike up the wedding march;
    And, Mellish, let thy melodies trill forth
    Broad o'er the wold as fast we bowl along.
    Give me the post-horn. Loose the flowing rein;
    And up to London drive with might and main.      [_Exeunt._


In 1882, when this book was written, prizefighting seemed to be dying
out. Sparring matches with boxing gloves, under the Queensberry rules,
kept pugilism faintly alive; but it was not popular, because the public,
which cares only for the excitement of a strenuous fight, believed then
that the boxing glove made sparring as harmless a contest of pure skill
as a fencing match with buttoned foils. This delusion was supported by
the limitation of the sparring match to boxing. In the prize-ring under
the old rules a combatant might trip, hold, or throw his antagonist; so
that each round finished either with a knockdown blow, which, except
when it is really a liedown blow, is much commoner in fiction than it
was in the ring, or with a visible body-to-body struggle ending in a
fall. In a sparring match all that happens is that a man with a watch in
his hand cries out "Time!" whereupon the two champions prosaically stop
sparring and sit down for a minute's rest and refreshment. The
unaccustomed and inexpert spectator in those days did not appreciate the
severity of the exertion or the risk of getting hurt: he underrated them
as ignorantly as he would have overrated the more dramatically obvious
terrors of a prizefight. Consequently the interest in the annual
sparrings for the Queensberry Championships was confined to the few
amateurs who had some critical knowledge of the game of boxing, and to
the survivors of the generation for which the fight between Sayers and
Heenan had been described in The Times as solemnly as the University
Boat Race. In short, pugilism was out of fashion because the police had
suppressed the only form of it which fascinated the public by its
undissembled pugnacity.

All that was needed to rehabilitate it was the discovery that the glove
fight is a more trying and dangerous form of contest than the old
knuckle fight. Nobody knew that then: everybody knows it, or ought to
know it, now. And, accordingly, pugilism is more prosperous to-day than
it has ever been before.

How far this result was foreseen by the author of the Queensberry Rules,
which superseded those of the old prize-ring, will probably never be
known. There is no doubt that they served their immediate turn
admirably. That turn was, the keeping alive of boxing in the teeth of
the law against prizefighting. Magistrates believed, as the public
believed, that when men's knuckles were muffled in padded gloves; when
they were forbidden to wrestle or hold one another; when the duration of
a round was fixed by the clock, and the number of rounds limited to what
seems (to those who have never tried) to be easily within the limits of
ordinary endurance; and when the traditional interval for rest between
the rounds was doubled, that then indeed violence must be checkmated, so
that the worst the boxers could do was to "spar for points" before three
gentlemanly members of the Stock Exchange, who would carefully note the
said points on an examination paper at the ring side, awarding marks
only for skill and elegance, and sternly discountenancing the claims of
brute force. It may be that both the author of the rules and the
"judges" who administered them in the earlier days really believed all
this; for, as far as I know, the limit of an amateur pugilist's romantic
credulity has never yet been reached and probably never will. But if so,
their good intentions were upset by the operation of a single new rule.

In the old prize-ring a round had no fixed duration. It was terminated
by the fall of one of the combatants (in practice usually both of them),
and was followed by an interval of half a minute for recuperation. The
practical effect of this was that a combatant could always get a respite
of half a minute whenever he wanted it by pretending to be knocked down:
"finding the earth the safest place," as the old phrase went. For this
the Marquess of Queensberry substituted a rule that a round with the
gloves should last a specified time, usually three or four minutes, and
that a combatant who did not stand up to his opponent continuously
during that time (ten seconds being allowed for rising in the event of a
knock-down) lost the battle. That unobtrusively slipped-in ten seconds
limit has produced the modern glove fight. Its practical effect is that
a man dazed by a blow or a fall for, say, twelve seconds, which would
not have mattered in an old-fashioned fight with its thirty seconds
interval,[1] has under the Queensberry rules either to lose or else
stagger to his feet in a helpless condition and be eagerly battered into
insensibility by his opponent before he can recover his powers of
self-defence. The notion that such a battery cannot be inflicted with
boxing gloves is only entertained by people who have never used them or
seen them used. I may say that I have myself received, in an accident, a
blow in the face, involving two macadamized holes in it, more violent
than the most formidable pugilist could have given me with his bare
knuckles. This blow did not stun or disable me even momentarily. On the
other hand, I have seen a man knocked quite silly by a tap from the most
luxurious sort of boxing glove made, wielded by a quite unathletic
literary man sparring for the first time in his life. The human jaw,
like the human elbow, is provided, as every boxer knows, with a "funny
bone"; and the pugilist who is lucky enough to jar that funny bone with
a blow practically has his opponent at his mercy for at least ten
seconds. Such a blow is called a "knock-out." The funny bone and the
ten-seconds rule explain the development of Queensberry sparring into
the modern knocking-out match or glove fight.

[1] In a treatise on boxing by Captain Edgeworth Johnstone,
just published, I read, "In the days of the prize-ring, fights lasted
for hours; and the knock-out blow was unknown." This statement is a
little too sweeping. The blow was known well enough. A veteran
prizefighter once described to me his first experience of its curious
effect on the senses. Only, as he had thirty seconds to recover in
instead of ten, it did not end the battle. The thirty seconds made the
knock-out so unlikely that the old pugilists regarded it as a rare
accident, not worth trying for. The glove fighter tries for nothing
else. Nevertheless knock-outs, and very dramatic ones too (Mace by King,
for example), did occur in the prize-ring from time to time. Captain
Edgeworth Johnstone's treatise is noteworthy in comparison with the
earlier Badminton handbook of sparring by Mr. E. B. Michell (one of the
Queensberry champions) as throwing over the old teaching of prize-ring
boxing with mufflers, and going in frankly for glove fighting, or, to
put it classically, cestus boxing.

This development got its first impulse from the discovery by sparring
competitors that the only way in which a boxer, however skilful, could
make sure of a verdict in his favor, was by knocking his opponent out.
This will be easily understood by any one who remembers the pugilistic
Bench of those days. The "judges" at the competitions were invariably
ex-champions: that is, men who had themselves won former competitions.
Now the judicial faculty, if it is not altogether a legal fiction, is at
all events pretty rare even among men whose ordinary pursuits tend to
cultivate it, and to train them in dispassionateness. Among pugilists it
is quite certainly very often non-existent. The average pugilist is a
violent partisan, who seldom witnesses a hot encounter without getting
much more excited than the combatants themselves. Further, he is usually
filled with a local patriotism which makes him, if a Londoner, deem it a
duty to disparage a provincial, and, if a provincial, to support a
provincial at all hazards against a cockney. He has, besides, personal
favorites on whose success he bets wildly. On great occasions like the
annual competitions, he is less judicial and more convivial after dinner
(when the finals are sparred) than before it. Being seldom a fine boxer,
he often regards skill and style as a reflection on his own
deficiencies, and applauds all verdicts given for "game" alone. When he
is a technically good boxer, he is all the less likely to be a good
critic, as Providence seldom lavishes two rare gifts on the same
individual. Even if we take the sanguine and patriotic view that when
you appoint such a man a judge, and thus stop his betting, you may
depend on his sense of honor and responsibility to neutralize all the
other disqualifications, they are sure to be exhibited most extremely by
the audience before which he has to deliver his verdict. Now it takes a
good deal of strength of mind to give an unpopular verdict; and this
strength of mind is not necessarily associated with the bodily hardihood
of the champion boxer. Consequently, when the strength of mind is not
forthcoming, the audience becomes the judge, and the popular competitor
gets the verdict. And the shortest way to the heart of a big audience is
to stick to your man; stop his blows bravely with your nose and return
them with interest; cover yourself and him with your own gore; and
outlast him in a hearty punching match.

It was under these circumstances that the competitors for sparring
championships concluded that they had better decide the bouts themselves
by knocking their opponents out, and waste no time in cultivating a
skill and style for which they got little credit, and which actually set
some of the judges against them. The public instantly began to take an
interest in the sport. And so, by a pretty rapid evolution, the
dexterities which the boxing glove and the Queensberry rules were
supposed to substitute for the old brutalities of Sayers and Heenan were
really abolished by them.

Let me describe the process as I saw it myself. Twenty years ago a poet
friend of mine, who, like all poets, delighted in combats, insisted on
my sharing his interest in pugilism, and took me about to all the boxing
competitions of the day. I was nothing loth; for, my own share of
original sin apart, any one with a sense of comedy must find the arts of
self-defence delightful (for a time) through their pedantry, their
quackery, and their action and reaction between amateur romantic
illusion and professional eye to business.

The fencing world, as Molière well knew, is perhaps a more exquisite
example of a fool's paradise than the boxing world; but it is too
restricted and expensive to allow play for popular character in a
non-duelling country, as the boxing world (formerly called quite
appropriately "the Fancy") does. At all events, it was the boxing world
that came under my notice; and as I was amused and sceptically
observant, whilst the true amateurs about me were, for the most part,
merely excited and duped, my evidence may have a certain value when the
question comes up again for legislative consideration, as it assuredly
will some day.

The first competitions I attended were at the beginning of the eighties,
at Lillie Bridge, for the Queensberry championships. There were but few
competitors, including a fair number of gentlemen; and the style of
boxing aimed at was the "science" bequeathed from the old prize-ring by
Ned Donnelly, a pupil of Nat Langham. Langham had once defeated Sayers,
and thereby taught him the tactics by which he defeated Heenan. There
was as yet no special technique of glove fighting: the traditions and
influence of the old ring were unquestioned and supreme; and they
distinctly made for brains, skill, quickness, and mobility, as against
brute violence, not at all on moral grounds, but because experience had
proved that giants did not succeed in the ring under the old rules, and
that crafty middle-weights did.

This did not last long. The spectators did not want to see skill
defeating violence: they wanted to see violence drawing blood and
pounding its way to a savage and exciting victory in the shortest
possible time (the old prizefight usually dragged on for hours, and was
ended by exhaustion rather than by victory). So did most of the judges.
And the public and the judges naturally had their wish; for the
competitors, as I have already explained, soon discovered that the only
way to make sure of a favorable verdict was to "knock out" their
adversary. All pretence of sparring "for points": that is, for marks on
an examination paper filled up by the judges, and representing nothing
but impracticable academic pedantry in its last ditch, was dropped; and
the competitions became frank fights, with abundance of blood drawn, and
"knock-outs" always imminent. Needless to add, the glove fight soon
began to pay. The select and thinly attended spars on the turf at Lillie
Bridge gave way to crowded exhibitions on the hard boards of St. James's
Hall. These were organized by the Boxing Association; and to them the
provinces, notably Birmingham, sent up a new race of boxers whose sole
aim was to knock their opponent insensible by a right-hand blow on the
jaw, knowing well that no Birmingham man could depend on a verdict
before a London audience for any less undeniable achievement.

The final step was taken by an American pugilist. He threw off the last
shred of the old hypocrisy of the gloved hand by challenging the whole
world to produce a man who could stand before him for a specified time
without being knocked out. His brief but glorious career completely
re-established pugilism by giving a world-wide advertisement to the fact
that the boxing glove spares nothing but the public conscience, and that
as much ferocity, bloodshed, pain, and risk of serious injury or death
can be enjoyed at a glove fight as at an old-fashioned prizefight,
whilst the strain on the combatants is much greater. It is true that
these horrors are greatly exaggerated by the popular imagination, and
that if boxing were really as dangerous as bicycling, a good many of its
heroes would give it up from simple fright; but this only means that
there is a maximum of damage to the spectator by demoralization,
combined with the minimum of deterrent risk to the poor scrapper in the

Poor scrapper, though, is hardly the word for a modern fashionable
American pugilist. To him the exploits of Cashel Byron will seem
ludicrously obscure and low-lived. The contests in which he engages are
like Handel Festivals: they take place in huge halls before enormous
audiences, with cinematographs hard at work recording the scene for
reproduction in London and elsewhere. The combatants divide thousands of
dollars of gate-money between them: indeed, if an impecunious English
curate were to go to America and challenge the premier pugilist, the
spectacle of a match between the Church and the Ring would attract a
colossal crowd; and the loser's share of the gate would be a fortune to
a curate--assuming that the curate would be the loser, which is by no
means a foregone conclusion. At all events, it would be well worth a
bruise or two. So my story of the Agricultural Hall, where William
Paradise sparred for half a guinea, and Cashel Byron stood out for ten
guineas, is no doubt read by the profession in America with amused
contempt. In 1882 it was, like most of my conceptions, a daring
anticipation of coming social developments, though to-day it seems as
far out of date as Slender pulling Sackerson's chain.

Of these latter-day commercial developments of glove fighting I know
nothing beyond what I gather from the newspapers. The banging matches of
the eighties, in which not one competitor in twenty either exhibited
artistic skill, or, in his efforts to knock out his adversary, succeeded
in anything but tiring and disappointing himself, were for the most part
tedious beyond human endurance. When, after wading through Boxiana and
the files of Bell's Life at the British Museum, I had written Cashel
Byron's Profession, I found I had exhausted the comedy of the subject;
and as a game of patience or solitaire was decidedly superior to an
average spar for a championship in point of excitement, I went no more
to the competitions. Since then six or seven generations of boxers have
passed into peaceful pursuits; and I have no doubt that my experience is
in some respects out of date. The National Sporting Club has arisen; and
though I have never attended its reunions, I take its record of three
pugilists slain as proving and enormous multiplication of contests,
since such accidents are very rare, and in fact do not happen to
reasonably healthy men. I am prepared to admit also that the
disappearance of the old prize-ring technique must by this time have
been compensated by the importation from America of a new glove-fighting
technique; for even in a knocking-out match, brains will try conclusions
with brawn, and finally establish a standard of skill; but I notice that
in the leading contests in America luck seems to be on the side of
brawn, and brain frequently finishes in a state of concussion, a loser
after performing miracles of "science." I use the word luck advisedly;
for one of the fascinations of boxing to the gambler (who is the main
pillar of the sporting world) is that it is a game of hardihood,
pugnacity and skill, all at the mercy of chance. The knock-out itself is
a pure chance. I have seen two powerful laborers batter one another's
jaws with all their might for several rounds apparently without giving
one another as much as a toothache. And I have seen a winning pugilist
collapse at a trifling knock landed by a fluke at the fatal angle. I
once asked an ancient prizefighter what a knock-out was like when it did
happen. He was a man of limited descriptive powers; so he simply pointed
to the heavens and said, "Up in a balloon." An amateur pugilist, with
greater command of language, told me that "all the milk in his head
suddenly boiled over." I am aware that some modern glove fighters of the
American school profess to have reduced the knock-out to a science. But
the results of the leading American combats conclusively discredit the
pretension. When a boxer so superior to his opponent in skill as to be
able practically to hit him where he pleases not only fails to knock him
out, but finally gets knocked out himself, it is clear that the
phenomenon is as complete a mystery pugilistically as it is
physiologically, though every pugilist and every doctor may pretend to
understand it. It is only fair to add that it has not been proved that
any permanent injury to the brain results from it. In any case the
brain, as English society is at present constituted, can hardly be
considered a vital organ.

This, to the best of my knowledge, is the technical history of the
modern revival of pugilism. It is only one more example of the fact that
legislators, like other people, must learn their business by their own
mistakes, and that the first attempts to suppress an evil by law
generally intensify it. Prizefighting, though often connived at, was
never legal. Even in its palmiest days prizefights were banished from
certain counties by hostile magistrates, just as they have been driven
from the United States and England to Belgium on certain occasions in
our own time. But as the exercise of sparring, conducted by a couple of
gentlemen with boxing gloves on, was regarded as part of a manly
physical education, a convention grew up by which it became practically
legal to make a citizen's nose bleed by a punch from the gloved fist,
and illegal to do the same thing with the naked knuckles. A code of
glove-fighting rules was drawn up by a prominent patron of pugilism; and
this code was practically legalized by the fact that even when a death
resulted from a contest under these rules the accessaries were not
punished. No question was raised as to whether the principals were paid
to fight for the amusement of the spectators, or whether a prize for the
winner was provided in stakes, share of the gate, or a belt with the
title of champion. These, the true criteria of prizefighting, were
ignored; and the sole issue raised was whether the famous dictum of Dr.
Watts, "Your little hands were never made, etc.," had been duly
considered by providing the said little hands with a larger hitting
surface, a longer range, and four ounces extra weight.

In short, then, what has happened has been the virtual legalization of
prizefighting under cover of the boxing glove. And this is exactly what
public opinion desires. We do not like fighting; but we like looking on
at fights: therefore we require a law which will punish the prizefighter
if he hits us, and secure us the protection of the police whilst we sit
in a comfortable hall and watch him hitting another prizefighter. And
that is just the law we have got at present.

Thus Cashel Byron's plea for a share of the legal toleration accorded to
the vivisector has been virtually granted since he made it. The
legalization of cruelty to domestic animals under cover of the
anesthetic is only the extreme instance of the same social phenomenon as
the legalization of prizefighting under cover of the boxing glove. The
same passion explains the fascination of both practices; and in both,
the professors--pugilists and physiologists alike--have to persuade the
Home Office that their pursuits are painless and beneficial. But there
is also between them the remarkable difference that the pugilist, who
has to suffer as much as he inflicts, wants his work to be as painless
and harmless as possible whilst persuading the public that it is
thrillingly dangerous and destructive, whilst the vivisector wants to
enjoy a total exemption from humane restrictions in his laboratory
whilst persuading the public that pain is unknown there. Consequently
the vivisector is not only crueller than the prizefighter, but, through
the pressure of public opinion, a much more resolute and uncompromising
liar. For this no one but a Pharisee will single him out for special
blame. All public men lie, as a matter of good taste, on subjects which
are considered serious (in England a serious occasion means simply an
occasion on which nobody tells the truth); and however illogical or
capricious the point of honor may be in man, it is too absurd to assume
that the doctors who, from among innumerable methods of research,
select that of tormenting animals hideously, will hesitate to come on a
platform and tell a soothing fib to prevent the public from punishing
them. No criminal is expected to plead guilty, or to refrain from
pleading not guilty with all the plausibility at his command. In
prizefighting such mendacity is not necessary: on the contrary, if a
famous pugilist were to assure the public that a blow delivered with a
boxing glove could do no injury and cause no pain, and the public
believed him, the sport would instantly lose its following. It is the
prizefighter's interest to abolish the real cruelties of the ring and to
exaggerate the imaginary cruelties of it. It is the vivisector's
interest to refine upon the cruelties of the laboratory, whilst
persuading the public that his victims pass into a delicious euthanasia
and leave behind them a row of bottles containing infallible cures for
all the diseases. Just so, too, does the trainer of performing animals
assure us that his dogs and cats and elephants and lions are taught
their senseless feats by pure kindness.

The public, as Julius Cæsar remarked nearly 2000 years ago, believes on
the whole, just what it wants to believe. The laboring masses do not
believe the false excuses of the vivisector, because they know that the
vivisector experiments on hospital patients; and the masses belong to
the hospital patient class. The well-to-do people who do not go to
hospitals, and who think they benefit by the experiments made there,
believe the vivisectors' excuses, and angrily abuse and denounce the
anti-vivisectors. The people who "love animals," who keep pets, and
stick pins through butterflies, support the performing dog people, and
are sure that kindness will teach a horse to waltz. And the people who
enjoy a fight will persuade themselves that boxing gloves do not hurt,
and that sparring is an exercise which teaches self-control and
exercises all the muscles in the body more efficiently than any other.

My own view of prizefighting may be gathered from Cashel Byron's
Profession, and from the play written by me more than ten years later,
entitled Mrs. Warren's Profession. As long as society is so organized
that the destitute athlete and the destitute beauty are forced to choose
between underpaid drudgery as industrial producers, and comparative
self-respect, plenty, and popularity as prizefighters and mercenary
brides, licit or illicit, it is idle to affect virtuous indignation at
their expense. The word prostitute should either not be used at all, or
else applied impartially to all persons who do things for money that
they would not do if they had any other assured means of livelihood. The
evil caused by the prostitution of the Press and the Pulpit is so
gigantic that the prostitution of the prize-ring, which at least makes
no serious moral pretensions, is comparatively negligible by comparison.
Let us not forget, however, that the throwing of a hard word such as
prostitution does not help the persons thus vituperated out of their
difficulty. If the soldier and gladiator fight for money, if men and
women marry for money, if the journalist and novelist write for money,
and the parson preaches for money, it must be remembered that it is an
exceedingly difficult and doubtful thing for an individual to set up his
own scruples or fancies (he cannot himself be sure which they are)
against the demand of the community when it says, Do thus and thus, or
starve. It was easy for Ruskin to lay down the rule of dying rather than
doing unjustly; but death is a plain thing: justice a very obscure
thing. How is an ordinary man to draw the line between right and wrong
otherwise than by accepting public opinion on the subject; and what more
conclusive expression of sincere public opinion can there be than market
demand? Even when we repudiate that and fall back on our private
judgment, the matter gathers doubt instead of clearness. The popular
notion of morality and piety is to simply beg all the most important
questions in life for other people; but when these questions come home
to ourselves, we suddenly discover that the devil's advocate has a
stronger case than we thought: we remember that the way of righteousness
or death was the way of the Inquisition; that hell is paved, not with
bad intentions, but with good ones; that the deeper seers have suggested
that the way to save your soul is perhaps to give it away, casting your
spiritual bread on the waters, so to speak. No doubt, if you are a man
of genius, a Ruskin or an Ibsen, you can divine your way and finally
force your passage. If you have the conceit of fanaticism you can die a
martyr like Charles I. If you are a criminal, or a gentleman of
independent means, you can leave society out of the question and prey on
it. But if you are an ordinary person you take your bread as it comes to
you, doing whatever you can make most money by doing. And you are really
shewing yourself a disciplined citizen and acting with perfect social
propriety in so doing. Society may be, and generally is, grossly wrong
in its offer to you; and you may be, and generally are, grossly wrong
in supporting the existing political structure; but this only means, to
the successful modern prizefighter, that he must reform society before
he can reform himself. A conclusion which I recommend to the
consideration of those foolish misers of personal righteousness who
think they can dispose of social problems by bidding reformers of
society reform themselves first.

Practically, then, the question raised is whether fighting with gloves
shall be brought, like cockfighting, bear-baiting, and gloveless fist
fighting, explicitly under the ban of the law. I do not propose to argue
that question out here. But of two things I am certain. First, that
glove fighting is quite as fierce a sport as fist fighting. Second, that
if an application were made to the Borough Council of which I am a
member, to hire the Town Hall for a boxing competition, I should vote
against the applicants.

This second point being evidently the practical one, I had better give
my reason. Exhibition pugilism is essentially a branch of Art: that is
to say, it acts and attracts by propagating feeling. The feeling it
propagates is pugnacity. Sense of danger, dread of danger, impulse to
batter and destroy what threatens and opposes, triumphant delight in
succeeding: this is pugnacity, the great adversary of the social impulse
to live and let live; to establish our rights by shouldering our share
of the social burden; to face and examine danger instead of striking at
it; to understand everything to the point of pardoning (and righting)
everything; to conclude an amnesty with Nature wide enough to include
even those we know the worst of: namely, ourselves. If two men
quarrelled, and asked the Borough Council to lend them a room to fight
it out in with their fists, on the ground that a few minutes' hearty
punching of one another's heads would work off their bad blood and leave
them better friends, each desiring, not victory, but _satisfaction_, I
am not sure that I should not vote for compliance. But if a syndicate of
showmen came and said, Here we have two men who have no quarrel, but who
will, if you pay them, fight before your constituency and thereby make a
great propaganda of pugnacity in it, sharing the profits with us and
with you, I should indignantly oppose the proposition. And if the
majority were against me, I should try to persuade them to at least
impose the condition that the fight should be with naked fists under the
old rules, so that the combatants should, like Sayers and Langham,
depend on bunging up each other's eyes rather than, like the modern
knocker-out, giving one another concussion of the brain.

I may add, finally, that the present halting between the legal
toleration and suppression of commercial pugilism is much worse than the
extreme of either, because it takes away the healthy publicity and sense
of responsibility which legality and respectability give, without
suppressing the blackguardism which finds its opportunity in shady
pursuits. I use the term commercial advisedly. Put a stop to boxing for
money; and pugilism will give society no further trouble.

LONDON, 1901.

       *       *       *       *       *



(Member of the French Academy)





_Translated into English_


_12mo. Cloth, price $1.50 net_

"In that kind of comedy," writes BERNARD SHAW, "which is so true to life
that we have to call it tragi-comedy, and which is not only an
entertainment but a history and a criticism of contemporary morals,
BRIEUX is incomparably the greatest writer France has produced since

The three plays in this volume are a first instalment into English of
the work of a man who has been admitted into the French Academy for his
splendid achievements, and who is recognized by the best thinkers in
Europe as one of the profoundest moral forces expressing itself as
literature to-day.

No earnest man or woman can read these plays without being deeply moved
and deeply touched. One of the plays was read by Brieux himself, at the
special invitation of the pastor, from the pulpit of a church in Geneva.


The following Plays by Bernard Shaw are issued in separate volumes,
bound in stiff paper wrappers.

_Price 40 cents net per volume_




















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