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´╗┐Title: Major Barbara
Author: Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Major Barbara" ***

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It is after dinner on a January night, in the library in
Lady Britomart Undershaft's house in Wilton Crescent. A large and
comfortable settee is in the middle of the room, upholstered in
dark leather. A person sitting on it [it is vacant at present]
would have, on his right, Lady Britomart's writing table, with
the lady herself busy at it; a smaller writing table behind him
on his left; the door behind him on Lady Britomart's side; and a
window with a window seat directly on his left. Near the window
is an armchair.

Lady Britomart is a woman of fifty or thereabouts, well dressed
and yet careless of her dress, well bred and quite reckless of
her breeding, well mannered and yet appallingly outspoken and
indifferent to the opinion of her interlocutory, amiable and yet
peremptory, arbitrary, and high-tempered to the last bearable
degree, and withal a very typical managing matron of the upper
class, treated as a naughty child until she grew into a scolding
mother, and finally settling down with plenty of practical
ability and worldly experience, limited in the oddest way with
domestic and class limitations, conceiving the universe exactly
as if it were a large house in Wilton Crescent, though handling
her corner of it very effectively on that assumption, and being
quite enlightened and liberal as to the books in the library, the
pictures on the walls, the music in the portfolios, and the
articles in the papers.

Her son, Stephen, comes in. He is a gravely correct young man
under 25, taking himself very seriously, but still in some awe of
his mother, from childish habit and bachelor shyness rather than
from any weakness of character.

STEPHEN. What's the matter?

LADY BRITOMART. Presently, Stephen.

Stephen submissively walks to the settee and sits down. He takes
up The Speaker.

LADY BRITOMART. Don't begin to read, Stephen. I shall require all
your attention.

STEPHEN. It was only while I was waiting--

LADY BRITOMART. Don't make excuses, Stephen. [He puts down The
Speaker]. Now! [She finishes her writing; rises; and comes to the
settee]. I have not kept you waiting very long, I think.

STEPHEN. Not at all, mother.

LADY BRITOMART. Bring me my cushion. [He takes the cushion from
the chair at the desk and arranges it for her as she sits down on
the settee]. Sit down. [He sits down and fingers his tie
nervously]. Don't fiddle with your tie, Stephen: there is nothing
the matter with it.

STEPHEN. I beg your pardon. [He fiddles with his watch chain

LADY BRITOMART. Now are you attending to me, Stephen?

STEPHEN. Of course, mother.

LADY BRITOMART. No: it's not of course. I want something much
more than your everyday matter-of-course attention. I am going to
speak to you very seriously, Stephen. I wish you would let that
chain alone.

STEPHEN [hastily relinquishing the chain] Have I done anything to
annoy you, mother? If so, it was quite unintentional.

LADY BRITOMART [astonished] Nonsense! [With some remorse] My poor
boy, did you think I was angry with you?

STEPHEN. What is it, then, mother? You are making me very uneasy.

LADY BRITOMART [squaring herself at him rather aggressively]
Stephen: may I ask how soon you intend to realize that you are a
grown-up man, and that I am only a woman?

STEPHEN [amazed] Only a--

LADY BRITOMART. Don't repeat my words, please: It is a most
aggravating habit. You must learn to face life seriously,
Stephen. I really cannot bear the whole burden of our family
affairs any longer. You must advise me: you must assume the


LADY BRITOMART. Yes, you, of course. You were 24 last June.
You've been at Harrow and Cambridge. You've been to India and
Japan. You must know a lot of things now; unless you have wasted
your time most scandalously. Well, advise me.

STEPHEN [much perplexed] You know I have never interfered in the

LADY BRITOMART. No: I should think not. I don't want you to order
the dinner.

STEPHEN. I mean in our family affairs.

LADY BRITOMART. Well, you must interfere now; for they are
getting quite beyond me.

STEPHEN [troubled] I have thought sometimes that perhaps I ought;
but really, mother, I know so little about them; and what I do
know is so painful--it is so impossible to mention some things to
you--[he stops, ashamed].

LADY BRITOMART. I suppose you mean your father.

STEPHEN [almost inaudibly] Yes.

LADY BRITOMART. My dear: we can't go on all our lives not
mentioning him. Of course you were quite right not to open the
subject until I asked you to; but you are old enough now to be
taken into my confidence, and to help me to deal with him about
the girls.

STEPHEN. But the girls are all right. They are engaged.

LADY BRITOMART [complacently] Yes: I have made a very good match
for Sarah. Charles Lomax will be a millionaire at 35. But that is
ten years ahead; and in the meantime his trustees cannot under
the terms of his father's will allow him more than 800 pounds a

STEPHEN. But the will says also that if he increases his income
by his own exertions, they may double the increase.

LADY BRITOMART. Charles Lomax's exertions are much more likely to
decrease his income than to increase it. Sarah will have to find
at least another 800 pounds a year for the next ten years; and
even then they will be as poor as church mice. And what about
Barbara? I thought Barbara was going to make the most brilliant
career of all of you. And what does she do? Joins the Salvation
Army; discharges her maid; lives on a pound a week; and walks in
one evening with a professor of Greek whom she has picked up in
the street, and who pretends to be a Salvationist, and actually
plays the big drum for her in public because he has fallen head
over ears in love with her.

STEPHEN. I was certainly rather taken aback when I heard they
were engaged. Cusins is a very nice fellow, certainly: nobody
would ever guess that he was born in Australia; but--

LADY BRITOMART. Oh, Adolphus Cusins will make a very good
husband. After all, nobody can say a word against Greek: it
stamps a man at once as an educated gentleman. And my family,
thank Heaven, is not a pig-headed Tory one. We are Whigs, and
believe in liberty. Let snobbish people say what they please:
Barbara shall marry, not the man they like, but the man I like.

STEPHEN. Of course I was thinking only of his income. However, he
is not likely to be extravagant.

LADY BRITOMART. Don't be too sure of that, Stephen. I know your
quiet, simple, refined, poetic people like Adolphus--quite
content with the best of everything! They cost more than your
extravagant people, who are always as mean as they are second
rate. No: Barbara will need at least 2000 pounds a year. You see
it means two additional households. Besides, my dear, you must
marry soon. I don't approve of the present fashion of philandering
bachelors and late marriages; and I am trying to arrange something
for you.

STEPHEN. It's very good of you, mother; but perhaps I had better
arrange that for myself.

LADY BRITOMART. Nonsense! you are much too young to begin
matchmaking: you would be taken in by some pretty little nobody.
Of course I don't mean that you are not to be consulted: you know
that as well as I do. [Stephen closes his lips and is silent].
Now don't sulk, Stephen.

STEPHEN. I am not sulking, mother. What has all this got to do
with--with--with my father?

LADY BRITOMART. My dear Stephen: where is the money to come from?
It is easy enough for you and the other children to live on my
income as long as we are in the same house; but I can't keep four
families in four separate houses. You know how poor my father is:
he has barely seven thousand a year now; and really, if he were
not the Earl of Stevenage, he would have to give up society. He
can do nothing for us: he says, naturally enough, that it is
absurd that he should be asked to provide for the children of a
man who is rolling in money. You see, Stephen, your father must
be fabulously wealthy, because there is always a war going on

STEPHEN. You need not remind me of that, mother. I have hardly
ever opened a newspaper in my life without seeing our name in it.
The Undershaft torpedo! The Undershaft quick firers! The
Undershaft ten inch! the Undershaft disappearing rampart gun! the
Undershaft submarine! and now the Undershaft aerial battleship!
At Harrow they called me the Woolwich Infant. At Cambridge it was
the same. A little brute at King's who was always trying to get
up revivals, spoilt my Bible--your first birthday present to
me--by writing under my name, "Son and heir to Undershaft and
Lazarus, Death and Destruction Dealers: address, Christendom and
Judea." But that was not so bad as the way I was kowtowed to
everywhere because my father was making millions by selling

LADY BRITOMART. It is not only the cannons, but the war loans
that Lazarus arranges under cover of giving credit for the
cannons. You know, Stephen, it's perfectly scandalous. Those two
men, Andrew Undershaft and Lazarus, positively have Europe under
their thumbs. That is why your father is able to behave as he
does. He is above the law. Do you think Bismarck or Gladstone or
Disraeli could have openly defied every social and moral
obligation all their lives as your father has? They simply
wouldn't have dared. I asked Gladstone to take it up. I asked The
Times to take it up. I asked the Lord Chamberlain to take it up.
But it was just like asking them to declare war on the Sultan.
They WOULDN'T. They said they couldn't touch him. I believe they
were afraid.

STEPHEN. What could they do? He does not actually break the law.

LADY BRITOMART. Not break the law! He is always breaking the law.
He broke the law when he was born: his parents were not married.

STEPHEN. Mother! Is that true?

LADY BRITOMART. Of course it's true: that was why we separated.

STEPHEN. He married without letting you know this!

LADY BRITOMART [rather taken aback by this inference] Oh no. To
do Andrew justice, that was not the sort of thing he did.
Besides, you know the Undershaft motto: Unashamed. Everybody

STEPHEN. But you said that was why you separated.

LADY BRITOMART. Yes, because he was not content with being a
foundling himself: he wanted to disinherit you for another
foundling. That was what I couldn't stand.

STEPHEN [ashamed] Do you mean for--for--for--

LADY BRITOMART. Don't stammer, Stephen. Speak distinctly.

STEPHEN. But this is so frightful to me, mother. To have to speak
to you about such things!

LADY BRITOMART. It's not pleasant for me, either, especially if
you are still so childish that you must make it worse by a
display of embarrassment. It is only in the middle classes,
Stephen, that people get into a state of dumb helpless horror
when they find that there are wicked people in the world. In our
class, we have to decide what is to be done with wicked people;
and nothing should disturb our self possession. Now ask your
question properly.

STEPHEN. Mother: you have no consideration for me. For Heaven's
sake either treat me as a child, as you always do, and tell me
nothing at all; or tell me everything and let me take it as best
I can.

LADY BRITOMART. Treat you as a child! What do you mean? It is
most unkind and ungrateful of you to say such a thing. You know I
have never treated any of you as children. I have always made you
my companions and friends, and allowed you perfect freedom to do
and say whatever you liked, so long as you liked what I could
approve of.

STEPHEN [desperately] I daresay we have been the very imperfect
children of a very perfect mother; but I do beg you to let me
alone for once, and tell me about this horrible business of my
father wanting to set me aside for another son.

LADY BRITOMART [amazed] Another son! I never said anything of the
kind. I never dreamt of such a thing. This is what comes of
interrupting me.

STEPHEN. But you said--

LADY BRITOMART [cutting him short] Now be a good boy, Stephen,
and listen to me patiently. The Undershafts are descended from a
foundling in the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft in the city.
That was long ago, in the reign of James the First. Well, this
foundling was adopted by an armorer and gun-maker. In the course
of time the foundling succeeded to the business; and from some
notion of gratitude, or some vow or something, he adopted another
foundling, and left the business to him. And that foundling did
the same. Ever since that, the cannon business has always been
left to an adopted foundling named Andrew Undershaft.

STEPHEN. But did they never marry? Were there no legitimate sons?

LADY BRITOMART. Oh yes: they married just as your father did; and
they were rich enough to buy land for their own children and
leave them well provided for. But they always adopted and trained
some foundling to succeed them in the business; and of course
they always quarrelled with their wives furiously over it. Your
father was adopted in that way; and he pretends to consider
himself bound to keep up the tradition and adopt somebody to
leave the business to. Of course I was not going to stand that.
There may have been some reason for it when the Undershafts could
only marry women in their own class, whose sons were not fit to
govern great estates. But there could be no excuse for passing
over my son.

STEPHEN [dubiously] I am afraid I should make a poor hand of
managing a cannon foundry.

LADY BRITOMART. Nonsense! you could easily get a manager and pay
him a salary.

STEPHEN. My father evidently had no great opinion of my capacity.

LADY BRITOMART. Stuff, child! you were only a baby: it had
nothing to do with your capacity. Andrew did it on principle,
just as he did every perverse and wicked thing on principle. When
my father remonstrated, Andrew actually told him to his face that
history tells us of only two successful institutions: one the
Undershaft firm, and the other the Roman Empire under the
Antonines. That was because the Antonine emperors all adopted
their successors. Such rubbish! The Stevenages are as good as the
Antonines, I hope; and you are a Stevenage. But that was Andrew
all over. There you have the man! Always clever and unanswerable
when he was defending nonsense and wickedness: always awkward and
sullen when he had to behave sensibly and decently!

STEPHEN. Then it was on my account that your home life was broken
up, mother. I am sorry.

LADY BRITOMART. Well, dear, there were other differences. I
really cannot bear an immoral man. I am not a Pharisee, I hope;
and I should not have minded his merely doing wrong things: we
are none of us perfect. But your father didn't exactly do wrong
things: he said them and thought them: that was what was so
dreadful. He really had a sort of religion of wrongness just as
one doesn't mind men practising immorality so long as they own
that they are in the wrong by preaching morality; so I couldn't
forgive Andrew for preaching immorality while he practised
morality. You would all have grown up without principles, without
any knowledge of right and wrong, if he had been in the house.
You know, my dear, your father was a very attractive man in some
ways. Children did not dislike him; and he took advantage of it
to put the wickedest ideas into their heads, and make them quite
unmanageable. I did not dislike him myself: very far from it; but
nothing can bridge over moral disagreement.

STEPHEN. All this simply bewilders me, mother. People may differ
about matters of opinion, or even about religion; but how can
they differ about right and wrong? Right is right; and wrong is
wrong; and if a man cannot distinguish them properly, he is
either a fool or a rascal: that's all.

LADY BRITOMART [touched] That's my own boy [she pats his cheek]!
Your father never could answer that: he used to laugh and get out
of it under cover of some affectionate nonsense. And now that you
understand the situation, what do you advise me to do?

STEPHEN. Well, what can you do?

LADY BRITOMART. I must get the money somehow.

STEPHEN. We cannot take money from him. I had rather go and live
in some cheap place like Bedford Square or even Hampstead than
take a farthing of his money.

LADY BRITOMART. But after all, Stephen, our present income comes
from Andrew.

STEPHEN [shocked] I never knew that.

LADY BRITOMART. Well, you surely didn't suppose your grandfather
had anything to give me. The Stevenages could not do everything
for you. We gave you social position. Andrew had to contribute
something. He had a very good bargain, I think.

STEPHEN [bitterly] We are utterly dependent on him and his
cannons, then!

LADY BRITOMART. Certainly not: the money is settled. But he
provided it. So you see it is not a question of taking money from
him or not: it is simply a question of how much. I don't want any
more for myself.

STEPHEN. Nor do I.

LADY BRITOMART. But Sarah does; and Barbara does. That is,
Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins will cost them more. So I must
put my pride in my pocket and ask for it, I suppose. That is your
advice, Stephen, is it not?


LADY BRITOMART [sharply] Stephen!

STEPHEN. Of course if you are determined--

LADY BRITOMART. I am not determined: I ask your advice; and I am
waiting for it. I will not have all the responsibility thrown on
my shoulders.

STEPHEN [obstinately] I would die sooner than ask him for another

LADY BRITOMART [resignedly] You mean that I must ask him. Very
well, Stephen: It shall be as you wish. You will be glad to know
that your grandfather concurs. But he thinks I ought to ask
Andrew to come here and see the girls. After all, he must have
some natural affection for them.

STEPHEN. Ask him here!!!

LADY BRITOMART. Do not repeat my words, Stephen. Where else can I
ask him?

STEPHEN. I never expected you to ask him at all.

LADY BRITOMART. Now don't tease, Stephen. Come! you see that it
is necessary that he should pay us a visit, don't you?

STEPHEN [reluctantly] I suppose so, if the girls cannot do
without his money.

LADY BRITOMART. Thank you, Stephen: I knew you would give me the
right advice when it was properly explained to you. I have asked
your father to come this evening. [Stephen bounds from his seat]
Don't jump, Stephen: it fidgets me.

STEPHEN [in utter consternation] Do you mean to say that my
father is coming here to-night--that he may be here at any

LADY BRITOMART [looking at her watch] I said nine. [He gasps. She
rises]. Ring the bell, please. [Stephen goes to the smaller
writing table; presses a button on it; and sits at it with his
elbows on the table and his head in his hands, outwitted and
overwhelmed]. It is ten minutes to nine yet; and I have to
prepare the girls. I asked Charles Lomax and Adolphus to dinner
on purpose that they might be here. Andrew had better see them in
case he should cherish any delusions as to their being capable of
supporting their wives. [The butler enters: Lady Britomart goes
behind the settee to speak to him]. Morrison: go up to the
drawingroom and tell everybody to come down here at once.
[Morrison withdraws. Lady Britomart turns to Stephen]. Now
remember, Stephen, I shall need all your countenance and
authority. [He rises and tries to recover some vestige of these
attributes]. Give me a chair, dear. [He pushes a chair forward
from the wall to where she stands, near the smaller writing
table. She sits down; and he goes to the armchair, into which he
throws himself]. I don't know how Barbara will take it. Ever
since they made her a major in the Salvation Army she has
developed a propensity to have her own way and order people about
which quite cows me sometimes. It's not ladylike: I'm sure I
don't know where she picked it up. Anyhow, Barbara shan't bully
me; but still it's just as well that your father should be here
before she has time to refuse to meet him or make a fuss. Don't
look nervous, Stephen, it will only encourage Barbara to make
difficulties. I am nervous enough, goodness knows; but I don't
show it.

Sarah and Barbara come in with their respective young men,
Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins. Sarah is slender, bored, and
mundane. Barbara is robuster, jollier, much more energetic. Sarah
is fashionably dressed: Barbara is in Salvation Army uniform.
Lomax, a young man about town, is like many other young men about
town. He is affected with a frivolous sense of humor which
plunges him at the most inopportune moments into paroxysms of
imperfectly suppressed laughter. Cusins is a spectacled student,
slight, thin haired, and sweet voiced, with a more complex form
of Lomax's complaint. His sense of humor is intellectual and
subtle, and is complicated by an appalling temper. The lifelong
struggle of a benevolent temperament and a high conscience
against impulses of inhuman ridicule and fierce impatience has
set up a chronic strain which has visibly wrecked his constitution.
He is a most implacable, determined, tenacious, intolerant person
who by mere force of character presents himself as--and indeed
actually is--considerate, gentle, explanatory, even mild and
apologetic, capable possibly of murder, but not of cruelty or
coarseness. By the operation of some instinct which is not merciful
enough to blind him with the illusions of love, he is obstinately
bent on marrying Barbara. Lomax likes Sarah and thinks it will be
rather a lark to marry her. Consequently he has not attempted to
resist Lady Britomart's arrangements to that end.

All four look as if they had been having a good deal of fun in
the drawingroom. The girls enter first, leaving the swains
outside. Sarah comes to the settee. Barbara comes in after her
and stops at the door.

BARBARA. Are Cholly and Dolly to come in?

LADY BRITOMART [forcibly] Barbara: I will not have Charles called
Cholly: the vulgarity of it positively makes me ill.

BARBARA. It's all right, mother. Cholly is quite correct
nowadays. Are they to come in?

LADY BRITOMART. Yes, if they will behave themselves.

BARBARA [through the door] Come in, Dolly, and behave yourself.

Barbara comes to her mother's writing table. Cusins enters
smiling, and wanders towards Lady Britomart.

SARAH [calling] Come in, Cholly. [Lomax enters, controlling his
features very imperfectly, and places himself vaguely between
Sarah and Barbara].

LADY BRITOMART [peremptorily] Sit down, all of you. [They sit.
Cusins crosses to the window and seats himself there. Lomax takes
a chair. Barbara sits at the writing table and Sarah on the
settee]. I don't in the least know what you are laughing at,
Adolphus. I am surprised at you, though I expected nothing better
from Charles Lomax.

CUSINS [in a remarkably gentle voice] Barbara has been trying to
teach me the West Ham Salvation March.

LADY BRITOMART. I see nothing to laugh at in that; nor should you
if you are really converted.

CUSINS [sweetly] You were not present. It was really funny, I

LOMAX. Ripping.

LADY BRITOMART. Be quiet, Charles. Now listen to me, children.
Your father is coming here this evening. [General stupefaction].

LOMAX [remonstrating] Oh I say!

LADY BRITOMART. You are not called on to say anything, Charles.

SARAH. Are you serious, mother?

LADY BRITOMART. Of course I am serious. It is on your account,
Sarah, and also on Charles's. [Silence. Charles looks painfully
unworthy]. I hope you are not going to object, Barbara.

BARBARA. I! why should I? My father has a soul to be saved like
anybody else. He's quite welcome as far as I am concerned.

LOMAX [still remonstrant] But really, don't you know! Oh I say!

LADY BRITOMART [frigidly] What do you wish to convey, Charles?

LOMAX. Well, you must admit that this is a bit thick.

LADY BRITOMART [turning with ominous suavity to Cusins] Adolphus:
you are a professor of Greek. Can you translate Charles Lomax's
remarks into reputable English for us?

CUSINS [cautiously] If I may say so, Lady Brit, I think Charles
has rather happily expressed what we all feel. Homer, speaking of
Autolycus, uses the same phrase.

LOMAX [handsomely] Not that I mind, you know, if Sarah don't.

LADY BRITOMART [crushingly] Thank you. Have I your permission,
Adolphus, to invite my own husband to my own house?

CUSINS [gallantly] You have my unhesitating support in everything
you do.

LADY BRITOMART. Sarah: have you nothing to say?

SARAH. Do you mean that he is coming regularly to live here?

LADY BRITOMART. Certainly not. The spare room is ready for him if
he likes to stay for a day or two and see a little more of you;
but there are limits.

SARAH. Well, he can't eat us, I suppose. I don't mind.

LOMAX [chuckling] I wonder how the old man will take it.

LADY BRITOMART. Much as the old woman will, no doubt, Charles.

LOMAX [abashed] I didn't mean--at least--

LADY BRITOMART. You didn't think, Charles. You never do; and the
result is, you never mean anything. And now please attend to me,
children. Your father will be quite a stranger to us.

LOMAX. I suppose he hasn't seen Sarah since she was a little kid.

LADY BRITOMART. Not since she was a little kid, Charles, as you
express it with that elegance of diction and refinement of
thought that seem never to desert you. Accordingly--er-- [impatiently]
Now I have forgotten what I was going to say. That comes of your
provoking me to be sarcastic, Charles. Adolphus: will you kindly
tell me where I was.

CUSINS [sweetly] You were saying that as Mr Undershaft has not
seen his children since they were babies, he will form his
opinion of the way you have brought them up from their behavior
to-night, and that therefore you wish us all to be particularly
careful to conduct ourselves well, especially Charles.

LOMAX. Look here: Lady Brit didn't say that.

LADY BRITOMART [vehemently] I did, Charles. Adolphus's
recollection is perfectly correct. It is most important that you
should be good; and I do beg you for once not to pair off into
opposite corners and giggle and whisper while I am speaking to
your father.

BARBARA. All right, mother. We'll do you credit.

LADY BRITOMART. Remember, Charles, that Sarah will want to feel
proud of you instead of ashamed of you.

LOMAX. Oh I say! There's nothing to be exactly proud of, don't
you know.

LADY BRITOMART. Well, try and look as if there was.

Morrison, pale and dismayed, breaks into the room in unconcealed

MORRISON. Might I speak a word to you, my lady?

LADY BRITOMART. Nonsense! Show him up.

MORRISON. Yes, my lady. [He goes].

LOMAX. Does Morrison know who he is?

LADY BRITOMART. Of course. Morrison has always been with us.

LOMAX. It must be a regular corker for him, don't you know.

LADY BRITOMART. Is this a moment to get on my nerves, Charles,
with your outrageous expressions?

LOMAX. But this is something out of the ordinary, really--

MORRISON [at the door] The--er--Mr Undershaft. [He retreats in

Andrew Undershaft comes in. All rise. Lady Britomart meets him in
the middle of the room behind the settee.

Andrew is, on the surface, a stoutish, easygoing elderly man,
with kindly patient manners, and an engaging simplicity of
character. But he has a watchful, deliberate, waiting, listening
face, and formidable reserves of power, both bodily and mental,
in his capacious chest and long head. His gentleness is partly
that of a strong man who has learnt by experience that his
natural grip hurts ordinary people unless he handles them very
carefully, and partly the mellowness of age and success. He is
also a little shy in his present very delicate situation.

LADY BRITOMART. Good evening, Andrew.

UNDERSHAFT. How d'ye do, my dear.

LADY BRITOMART. You look a good deal older.

UNDERSHAFT [apologetically] I AM somewhat older. [With a touch of
courtship] Time has stood still with you.

LADY BRITOMART [promptly] Rubbish! This is your family.

UNDERSHAFT [surprised] Is it so large? I am sorry to say my
memory is failing very badly in some things. [He offers his hand
with paternal kindness to Lomax].

LOMAX [jerkily shaking his hand] Ahdedoo.

UNDERSHAFT. I can see you are my eldest. I am very glad to meet
you again, my boy.

LOMAX [remonstrating] No but look here don't you know--[Overcome]
Oh I say!

LADY BRITOMART [recovering from momentary speechlessness] Andrew:
do you mean to say that you don't remember how many children you

UNDERSHAFT. Well, I am afraid I--. They have grown so much--er.
Am I making any ridiculous mistake? I may as well confess: I
recollect only one son. But so many things have happened since,
of course--er--

LADY BRITOMART [decisively] Andrew: you are talking nonsense. Of
course you have only one son.

UNDERSHAFT. Perhaps you will be good enough to introduce me, my

LADY BRITOMART. That is Charles Lomax, who is engaged to Sarah.

UNDERSHAFT. My dear sir, I beg your pardon.

LOMAX. Not at all. Delighted, I assure you.

LADY BRITOMART. This is Stephen.

UNDERSHAFT [bowing] Happy to make your acquaintance, Mr Stephen.
Then [going to Cusins] you must be my son. [Taking Cusins' hands
in his] How are you, my young friend? [To Lady Britomart] He is
very like you, my love.

CUSINS. You flatter me, Mr Undershaft. My name is Cusins: engaged
to Barbara. [Very explicitly] That is Major Barbara Undershaft,
of the Salvation Army. That is Sarah, your second daughter. This
is Stephen Undershaft, your son.

UNDERSHAFT. My dear Stephen, I beg your pardon.

STEPHEN. Not at all.

UNDERSHAFT. Mr Cusins: I am much indebted to you for explaining
so precisely. [Turning to Sarah] Barbara, my dear--

SARAH [prompting him] Sarah.

UNDERSHAFT. Sarah, of course. [They shake hands. He goes over to
Barbara] Barbara--I am right this time, I hope.

BARBARA. Quite right. [They shake hands].

LADY BRITOMART [resuming command] Sit down, all of you. Sit down,
Andrew. [She comes forward and sits on the settle. Cusins also
brings his chair forward on her left. Barbara and Stephen resume
their seats. Lomax gives his chair to Sarah and goes for

UNDERSHAFT. Thank you, my love.

LOMAX [conversationally, as he brings a chair forward between the
writing table and the settee, and offers it to Undershaft] Takes
you some time to find out exactly where you are, don't it?

UNDERSHAFT [accepting the chair] That is not what embarrasses me,
Mr Lomax. My difficulty is that if I play the part of a father, I
shall produce the effect of an intrusive stranger; and if I play
the part of a discreet stranger, I may appear a callous father.

LADY BRITOMART. There is no need for you to play any part at all,
Andrew. You had much better be sincere and natural.

UNDERSHAFT [submissively] Yes, my dear: I daresay that will be
best. [Making himself comfortable] Well, here I am. Now what can
I do for you all?

LADY BRITOMART. You need not do anything, Andrew. You are one of
the family. You can sit with us and enjoy yourself.

Lomax's too long suppressed mirth explodes in agonized neighings.

LADY BRITOMART [outraged] Charles Lomax: if you can behave
yourself, behave yourself. If not, leave the room.

LOMAX. I'm awfully sorry, Lady Brit; but really, you know, upon
my soul! [He sits on the settee between Lady Britomart and
Undershaft, quite overcome].

BARBARA. Why don't you laugh if you want to, Cholly? It's good
for your inside.

LADY BRITOMART. Barbara: you have had the education of a lady.
Please let your father see that; and don't talk like a street

UNDERSHAFT. Never mind me, my dear. As you know, I am not a
gentleman; and I was never educated.

LOMAX [encouragingly] Nobody'd know it, I assure you. You look
all right, you know.

CUSINS. Let me advise you to study Greek, Mr Undershaft. Greek
scholars are privileged men. Few of them know Greek; and none of
them know anything else; but their position is unchallengeable.
Other languages are the qualifications of waiters and commercial
travellers: Greek is to a man of position what the hallmark is to

BARBARA. Dolly: don't be insincere. Cholly: fetch your concertina
and play something for us.

LOMAX [doubtfully to Undershaft] Perhaps that sort of thing isn't
in your line, eh?

UNDERSHAFT. I am particularly fond of music.

LOMAX [delighted] Are you? Then I'll get it. [He   goes upstairs
for the instrument].

UNDERSHAFT. Do you play, Barbara?

BARBARA. Only the tambourine. But Cholly's teaching me the

UNDERSHAFT. Is Cholly also a member of the Salvation Army?

BARBARA. No: he says it's bad form to be a dissenter. But I don't
despair of Cholly. I made him come yesterday to a meeting at the
dock gates, and take the collection in his hat.

LADY BRITOMART. It is not my doing, Andrew. Barbara is old enough
to take her own way. She has no father to advise her.

BARBARA. Oh yes she has. There are no orphans in the Salvation

UNDERSHAFT. Your father there has a great many children and
plenty of experience, eh?

BARBARA [looking at him with quick interest and nodding] Just so.
How did you come to understand that? [Lomax is heard at the door
trying the concertina].

LADY BRITOMART. Come in, Charles. Play us something at once.

LOMAX. Righto! [He sits down in his former place, and preludes].

UNDERSHAFT. One moment, Mr Lomax. I am rather interested in the
Salvation Army. Its motto might be my own: Blood and Fire.

LOMAX [shocked] But not your sort of blood and fire, you know.

UNDERSHAFT. My sort of blood cleanses: my sort of fire purifies.

BARBARA. So do ours. Come down to-morrow to my shelter--the West
Ham shelter--and see what we're doing. We're going to march to a
great meeting in the Assembly Hall at Mile End. Come and see the
shelter and then march with us: it will do you a lot of good. Can
you play anything?

UNDERSHAFT. In my youth I earned pennies, and even shillings
occasionally, in the streets and in public house parlors by my
natural talent for stepdancing. Later on, I became a member of
the Undershaft orchestral society, and performed passably on the
tenor trombone.

LOMAX [scandalized] Oh I say!

BARBARA. Many a sinner has played himself into heaven on the
trombone, thanks to the Army.

LOMAX [to Barbara, still rather shocked] Yes; but what about the
cannon business, don't you know? [To Undershaft] Getting into
heaven is not exactly in your line, is it?


LOMAX. Well; but it stands to reason, don't it? The cannon
business may be necessary and all that: we can't get on without
cannons; but it isn't right, you know. On the other hand, there
may be a certain amount of tosh about the Salvation Army--I
belong to the Established Church myself--but still you can't deny
that it's religion; and you can't go against religion, can you?
At least unless you're downright immoral, don't you know.

UNDERSHAFT. You hardly appreciate my position, Mr Lomax--

LOMAX [hastily] I'm not saying anything against you personally,
you know.

UNDERSHAFT. Quite so, quite so. But consider for a moment. Here I
am, a manufacturer of mutilation and murder. I find myself in a
specially amiable humor just now because, this morning, down at
the foundry, we blew twenty-seven dummy soldiers into fragments
with a gun which formerly destroyed only thirteen.

LOMAX [leniently] Well, the more destructive war becomes, the
sooner it will be abolished, eh?

UNDERSHAFT. Not at all. The more destructive war becomes the more
fascinating we find it. No, Mr Lomax, I am obliged to you for
making the usual excuse for my trade; but I am not ashamed of it.
I am not one of those men who keep their morals and their
business in watertight compartments. All the spare money my trade
rivals spend on hospitals, cathedrals and other receptacles for
conscience money, I devote to experiments and researches in
improved methods of destroying life and property. I have always
done so; and I always shall. Therefore your Christmas card
moralities of peace on earth and goodwill among men are of no use
to me. Your Christianity, which enjoins you to resist not evil,
and to turn the other cheek, would make me a bankrupt. My
morality--my religion--must have a place for cannons and
torpedoes in it.

STEPHEN [coldly--almost sullenly] You speak as if there were half
a dozen moralities and religions to choose from, instead of one
true morality and one true religion.

UNDERSHAFT. For me there is only one true morality; but it might
not fit you, as you do not manufacture aerial battleships. There
is only one true morality for every man; but every man has not
the same true morality.

LOMAX [overtaxed] Would you mind saying that again? I didn't
quite follow it.

CUSINS. It's quite simple. As Euripides says, one man's meat is
another man's poison morally as well as physically.

UNDERSHAFT. Precisely.

LOMAX. Oh, that. Yes, yes, yes. True. True.

STEPHEN. In other words, some men are honest and some are

BARBARA. Bosh. There are no scoundrels.

UNDERSHAFT. Indeed? Are there any good men?

BARBARA. No. Not one. There are neither good men nor scoundrels:
there are just children of one Father; and the sooner they stop
calling one another names the better. You needn't talk to me: I
know them. I've had scores of them through my hands: scoundrels,
criminals, infidels, philanthropists, missionaries, county
councillors, all sorts. They're all just the same sort of sinner;
and there's the same salvation ready for them all.

UNDERSHAFT. May I ask have you ever saved a maker of cannons?

BARBARA. No. Will you let me try?

UNDERSHAFT. Well, I will make a bargain with you. If I go to see
you to-morrow in your Salvation Shelter, will you come the day
after to see me in my cannon works?

BARBARA. Take care. It may end in your giving up the cannons for
the sake of the Salvation Army.

UNDERSHAFT. Are you sure it will not end in your giving up the
Salvation Army for the sake of the cannons?

BARBARA. I will take my chance of that.

UNDERSHAFT. And I will take my chance of the other. [They shake
hands on it]. Where is your shelter?

BARBARA. In West Ham. At the sign of the cross. Ask anybody in
Canning Town. Where are your works?

UNDERSHAFT. In Perivale St Andrews. At the sign of the sword. Ask
anybody in Europe.

LOMAX. Hadn't I better play something?

BARBARA. Yes. Give us Onward, Christian Soldiers.

LOMAX. Well, that's rather a strong order to begin with, don't
you know. Suppose I sing Thou'rt passing hence, my brother. It's
much the same tune.

BARBARA. It's too melancholy. You get saved, Cholly; and you'll
pass hence, my brother, without making such a fuss about it.

LADY BRITOMART. Really, Barbara, you go on as if religion were a
pleasant subject. Do have some sense of propriety.

UNDERSHAFT. I do not find it an unpleasant subject, my dear. It
is the only one that capable people really care for.

LADY BRITOMART [looking at her watch] Well, if you are determined
to have it, I insist on having it in a proper and respectable
way. Charles: ring for prayers. [General amazement. Stephen rises
in dismay].

LOMAX [rising] Oh I say!

UNDERSHAFT [rising] I am afraid I must be going.

LADY BRITOMART. You cannot go now, Andrew: it would be most
improper. Sit down. What will the servants think?

UNDERSHAFT. My dear: I have conscientious scruples. May I suggest
a compromise? If Barbara will conduct a little service in the
drawingroom, with Mr Lomax as organist, I will attend it
willingly. I will even take part, if a trombone can be procured.

LADY BRITOMART. Don't mock, Andrew.

UNDERSHAFT [shocked--to Barbara] You don't think I am mocking, my
love, I hope.

BARBARA. No, of course not; and it wouldn't matter if you were:
half the Army came to their first meeting for a lark. [Rising]
Come along. Come, Dolly. Come, Cholly. [She goes out with
Undershaft, who opens the door for her. Cusins rises].

LADY BRITOMART. I will not be disobeyed by everybody. Adolphus:
sit down. Charles: you may go. You are not fit for prayers: you
cannot keep your countenance.

LOMAX. Oh I say! [He goes out].

LADY BRITOMART [continuing] But you, Adolphus, can behave
yourself if you choose to. I insist on your staying.

CUSINS. My dear Lady Brit: there are things in the family prayer
book that I couldn't bear to hear you say.

LADY BRITOMART. What things, pray?

CUSINS. Well, you would have to say before all the servants that
we have done things we ought not to have done, and left undone
things we ought to have done, and that there is no health in us.
I cannot bear to hear you doing yourself such an unjustice, and
Barbara such an injustice. As for myself, I flatly deny it: I
have done my best. I shouldn't dare to marry Barbara--I couldn't
look you in the face--if it were true. So I must go to the

LADY BRITOMART [offended] Well, go. [He starts for the door]. And
remember this, Adolphus [he turns to listen]: I have a very
strong suspicion that you went to the Salvation Army to worship
Barbara and nothing else. And I quite appreciate the very clever
way in which you systematically humbug me. I have found you out.
Take care Barbara doesn't. That's all.

CUSINS [with unruffled sweetness] Don't tell on me. [He goes

LADY BRITOMART. Sarah: if you want to go, go. Anything's better
than to sit there as if you wished you were a thousand miles

SARAH [languidly] Very well, mamma. [She goes].

Lady Britomart, with a sudden flounce, gives way to a little gust
of tears.

STEPHEN [going to her] Mother: what's the matter?

LADY BRITOMART [swishing away her tears with her handkerchief]
Nothing. Foolishness. You can go with him, too, if you like, and
leave me with the servants.

STEPHEN. Oh, you mustn't think that, mother. I--I don't like him.

LADY BRITOMART. The others do. That is the injustice of a woman's
lot. A woman has to bring up her children; and that means to
restrain them, to deny them things they want, to set them tasks,
to punish them when they do wrong, to do all the unpleasant
things. And then the father, who has nothing to do but pet them
and spoil them, comes in when all her work is done and steals
their affection from her.

STEPHEN. He has not stolen our affection from you. It is only

LADY BRITOMART [violently] I won't be consoled, Stephen. There is
nothing the matter with me. [She rises and goes towards the

STEPHEN. Where are you going, mother?

LADY BRITOMART. To the drawingroom, of course. [She goes out.
Onward, Christian Soldiers, on the concertina, with tambourine
accompaniment, is heard when the door opens]. Are you coming,

STEPHEN. No. Certainly not. [She goes. He sits down on the
settee, with compressed lips and an expression of strong


The yard of the West Ham shelter of the Salvation Army is a cold
place on a January morning. The building itself, an old
warehouse, is newly whitewashed. Its gabled end projects into the
yard in the middle, with a door on the ground floor, and another
in the loft above it without any balcony or ladder, but with a
pulley rigged over it for hoisting sacks. Those who come from
this central gable end into the yard have the gateway leading to
the street on their left, with a stone horse-trough just beyond
it, and, on the right, a penthouse shielding a table from the
weather. There are forms at the table; and on them are seated a
man and a woman, both much down on their luck, finishing a meal
of bread [one thick slice each, with margarine and golden syrup]
and diluted milk.

The man, a workman out of employment, is young, agile, a talker,
a poser, sharp enough to be capable of anything in reason except
honesty or altruistic considerations of any kind. The woman is a
commonplace old bundle of poverty and hard-worn humanity. She
looks sixty and probably is forty-five. If they were rich people,
gloved and muffed and well wrapped up in furs and overcoats, they
would be numbed and miserable; for it is a grindingly cold, raw,
January day; and a glance at the background of grimy warehouses
and leaden sky visible over the whitewashed walls of the yard
would drive any idle rich person straight to the Mediterranean.
But these two, being no more troubled with visions of the
Mediterranean than of the moon, and  being compelled to keep more
of their clothes in the pawnshop, and less on their persons, in
winter than in summer, are not depressed by the cold: rather are
they stung into vivacity, to which their meal has just now given
an almost jolly turn. The man takes a pull at his mug, and then
gets up and moves about the yard with his hands deep in his
pockets, occasionally breaking into a stepdance.

THE WOMAN. Feel better otter your meal, sir?

THE MAN. No. Call that a meal! Good enough for you, props; but
wot is it to me, an intelligent workin man.

THE WOMAN. Workin man! Wot are you?

THE MAN. Painter.

THE WOMAN [sceptically] Yus, I dessay.

THE MAN. Yus, you dessay! I know. Every loafer that can't do
nothink calls isself a painter. Well, I'm a real painter:
grainer, finisher, thirty-eight bob a week when I can get it.

THE WOMAN. Then why don't you go and get it?

THE MAN. I'll tell you why. Fust: I'm intelligent--fffff! it's
rotten cold here [he dances a step or two]--yes: intelligent
beyond the station o life into which it has pleased the
capitalists to call me; and they don't like a man that sees
through em. Second, an intelligent bein needs a doo share of
appiness; so I drink somethink cruel when I get the chawnce.
Third, I stand by my class and do as little as I can so's to
leave arf the job for me fellow workers. Fourth, I'm fly enough
to know wots inside the law and wots outside it; and inside it I
do as the capitalists do: pinch wot I can lay me ands on. In a
proper state of society I am sober, industrious and honest: in
Rome, so to speak, I do as the Romans do. Wots the consequence?
When trade is bad--and it's rotten bad just now--and the
employers az to sack arf their men, they generally start on me.

THE WOMAN. What's your name?

THE MAN. Price. Bronterre O'Brien Price. Usually called Snobby
Price, for short.

THE WOMAN. Snobby's a carpenter, ain't it? You said you was a

PRICE. Not that kind of snob, but the genteel sort. I'm too
uppish, owing to my intelligence, and my father being a Chartist
and a reading, thinking man: a stationer, too. I'm none of your
common hewers of wood and drawers of water; and don't you forget
it. [He returns to his seat at the table, and takes up his mug].
Wots YOUR name?

THE WOMAN. Rummy Mitchens, sir.

PRICE [quaffing the remains of his milk to her] Your elth, Miss

RUMMY [correcting him] Missis Mitchens.

PRICE. Wot! Oh Rummy, Rummy! Respectable married woman, Rummy,
gittin rescued by the Salvation Army by pretendin to be a bad un.
Same old game!

RUMMY. What am I to do? I can't starve. Them Salvation lasses is
dear good girls; but the better you are, the worse they likes to
think you were before they rescued you. Why shouldn't they av a
bit o credit, poor loves? They're worn to rags by their work. And
where would they get the money to rescue us if we was to let on
we're no worse than other people? You know what ladies and
gentlemen are.

PRICE. Thievin swine! Wish I ad their job, Rummy, all the same.
Wot does Rummy stand for? Pet name props?

RUMMY. Short for Romola.

PRICE. For wot!?

RUMMY. Romola. It was out of a new book. Somebody me mother
wanted me to grow up like.

PRICE. We're companions in misfortune, Rummy. Both on us got
names that nobody cawnt pronounce. Consequently I'm Snobby and
you're Rummy because Bill and Sally wasn't good enough for our
parents. Such is life!

RUMMY. Who saved you, Mr. Price? Was it Major Barbara?

PRICE. No: I come here on my own. I'm goin to be Bronterre
O'Brien Price, the converted painter. I know wot they like. I'll
tell em how I blasphemed and gambled and wopped my poor old

RUMMY [shocked] Used you to beat your mother?

PRICE. Not likely. She used to beat me. No matter: you come and
listen to the converted painter, and you'll hear how she was a
pious woman that taught me me prayers at er knee, an how I used
to come home drunk and drag her out o bed be er snow white airs,
an lam into er with the poker.

RUMMY. That's what's so unfair to us women. Your confessions is
just as big lies as ours: you don't tell what you really done no
more than us; but you men can tell your lies right out at the
meetins and be made much of for it; while the sort o confessions
we az to make az to be wispered to one lady at a time. It ain't
right, spite of all their piety.

PRICE. Right! Do you spose the Army'd be allowed if it went and
did right? Not much. It combs our air and makes us good little
blokes to be robbed and put upon. But I'll play the game as good
as any of em. I'll see somebody struck by lightnin, or hear a
voice sayin "Snobby Price: where will you spend eternity?" I'll
ave a time of it, I tell you.

RUMMY. You won't be let drink, though.

PRICE. I'll take it out in gorspellin, then. I don't want to
drink if I can get fun enough any other way.

Jenny Hill, a pale, overwrought, pretty Salvation lass of 18,
comes in through the yard gate, leading Peter Shirley, a half
hardened, half worn-out elderly man, weak with hunger.

JENNY [supporting him] Come! pluck up. I'll get you something to
eat. You'll be all right then.

PRICE [rising and hurrying officiously to take the old man off
Jenny's hands] Poor old man! Cheer up, brother: you'll find rest
and peace and appiness ere. Hurry up with the food, miss: e's
fair done. [Jenny hurries into the shelter]. Ere, buck up, daddy!
She's fetchin y'a thick slice o breadn treacle, an a mug o
skyblue. [He seats him at the corner of the table].

RUMMY [gaily] Keep up your old art! Never say die!

SHIRLEY. I'm not an old man. I'm ony 46. I'm as good as ever I
was. The grey patch come in my hair before I was thirty. All it
wants is three pennorth o hair dye: am I to be turned on the
streets to starve for it? Holy God! I've worked ten to twelve
hours a day since I was thirteen, and paid my way all through;
and now am I to be thrown into the gutter and my job given to a
young man that can do it no better than me because I've black
hair that goes white at the first change?

PRICE [cheerfully] No good jawrin about it. You're ony a
jumped-up, jerked-off, orspittle-turned-out incurable of an ole
workin man: who cares about you? Eh? Make the thievin swine give
you a meal: they've stole many a one from you. Get a bit o your
own back. [Jenny returns with the usual meal]. There you are,
brother. Awsk a blessin an tuck that into you.

SHIRLEY [looking at it ravenously but not touching it, and crying
like a child] I never took anything before.

JENNY [petting him] Come, come! the Lord sends it to you: he
wasn't above taking bread from his friends; and why should you
be? Besides, when we find you a job you can pay us for it if you

SHIRLEY [eagerly] Yes, yes: that's true. I can pay you back: it's
only a loan. [Shivering] Oh Lord! oh Lord! [He turns to the table
and attacks the meal ravenously].

JENNY. Well, Rummy, are you more comfortable now?

RUMMY. God bless you, lovey! You've fed my body and saved my
soul, haven't you? [Jenny, touched, kisses her] Sit down and rest
a bit: you must be ready to drop.

JENNY. I've been going hard since morning. But there's more work
than we can do. I mustn't stop.

RUMMY. Try a prayer for just two minutes. You'll work all the
better after.

JENNY [her eyes lighting up] Oh isn't it wonderful how a few
minutes prayer revives you! I was quite lightheaded at twelve
o'clock, I was so tired; but Major Barbara just sent me to pray
for five minutes; and I was able to go on as if I had only just
begun. [To Price] Did you have a piece of bread?

PAIGE [with unction] Yes, miss; but I've got the piece that I
value more; and that's the peace that passeth hall hannerstennin.

RUMMY [fervently] Glory Hallelujah!

Bill Walker, a rough customer of about 25, appears at the yard
gate and looks malevolently at Jenny.

JENNY. That makes me so happy. When you say that, I feel wicked
for loitering here. I must get to work again.

She is hurrying to the shelter, when the new-comer moves quickly
up to the door and intercepts her. His manner is so threatening
that she retreats as he comes at her truculently, driving her
down the yard.

BILL. I know you. You're the one that took away my girl. You're
the one that set er agen me. Well, I'm goin to av er out. Not
that I care a curse for her or you: see? But I'll let er know;
and I'll let you know. I'm goin to give er a doin that'll teach
er to cut away from me. Now in with you and tell er to come out
afore I come in and kick er out. Tell er Bill Walker wants er.
She'll know what that means; and if she keeps me waitin it'll be
worse. You stop to jaw back at me; and I'll start on you: d'ye
hear? There's your way. In you go. [He takes her by the arm and
slings her towards the door of the shelter. She falls on her hand
and knee. Rummy helps her up again].

PRICE [rising, and venturing irresolutely towards Bill]. Easy
there, mate. She ain't doin you no arm.

BILL. Who are you callin mate? [Standing over him threateningly].
You're goin to stand up for her, are you? Put up your ands.

RUMMY [running indignantly to him to scold him]. Oh, you great
brute--  [He instantly swings his left hand back against her
face. She screams and reels back to the trough, where she
sits down, covering her bruised face with her hands and rocking
and moaning with pain].

JENNY [going to her]. Oh God forgive you! How could you strike an
old woman like that?

BILL [seizing her by the hair so violently that she also screams,
and tearing her away from the old woman]. You Gawd forgive me
again and I'll Gawd forgive you one on the jaw that'll stop you
prayin for a week. [Holding her and turning fiercely on Price].
Av you anything to say agen it? Eh?

PRICE [intimidated]. No, matey: she ain't anything to do with me.

BILL. Good job for you! I'd put two meals into you and fight you
with one finger after, you starved cur. [To Jenny] Now are you
goin to fetch out Mog Habbijam; or am I to knock your face off
you and fetch her myself?

JENNY [writhing in his grasp] Oh please someone go in and tell
Major Barbara--[she screams again as he wrenches her head down;
and Price and Rummy, flee into the shelter].

BILL. You want to go in and tell your Major of me, do you?

JENNY. Oh please don't drag my hair. Let me go.

BILL. Do you or don't you? [She stifles a scream]. Yes or no.

JENNY. God give me strength--

BILL [striking her with his fist in the face] Go and show her
that, and tell her if she wants one like it to come and interfere
with me. [Jenny, crying with pain, goes into the shed. He goes to
the form and addresses the old man]. Here: finish your mess; and
get out o my way.

SHIRLEY [springing up and facing him fiercely, with the mug in
his hand] You take a liberty with me, and I'll smash you over the
face with the mug and cut your eye out. Ain't you satisfied--young
whelps like you--with takin the bread out o the mouths of your
elders that have brought you up and slaved for you, but you
must come shovin and cheekin and bullyin in here, where the bread
o charity is sickenin in our stummicks?

BILL [contemptuously, but backing a little] Wot good are you, you
old palsy mug? Wot good are you?

SHIRLEY. As good as you and better. I'll do a day's work agen you
or any fat young soaker of your age. Go and take my job at
Horrockses, where I worked for ten year. They want young men
there: they can't afford to keep men over forty-five. They're
very sorry--give you a character and happy to help you to get
anything suited to your years--sure a steady man won't be long
out of a job. Well, let em try you. They'll find the differ. What
do you know? Not as much as how to beeyave yourself--layin your
dirty fist across the mouth of a respectable woman!

BILL. Don't provoke me to lay it acrost yours: d'ye hear?

SHIRLEY [with blighting contempt] Yes: you like an old man to
hit, don't you, when you've finished with the women. I ain't seen
you hit a young one yet.

BILL [stung] You lie, you old soupkitchener, you. There was a
young man here. Did I offer to hit him or did I not?

SHIRLEY. Was he starvin or was he not? Was he a man or only a
crosseyed thief an a loafer? Would you hit my son-in-law's

BILL. Who's he?

SHIRLEY. Todger Fairmile o Balls Pond. Him that won 20 pounds off
the Japanese wrastler at the music hall by standin out 17 minutes
4 seconds agen him.

BILL [sullenly] I'm no music hall wrastler. Can he box?

SHIRLEY. Yes: an you can't.

BILL. Wot! I can't, can't I? Wot's that you say [threatening

SHIRLEY [not budging an inch] Will you box Todger Fairmile if I
put him on to you? Say the word.

BILL. [subsiding with a slouch] I'll stand up to any man alive,
if he was ten Todger Fairmiles. But I don't set up to be a

SHIRLEY [looking down on him with unfathomable disdain] YOU box!
Slap an old woman with the back o your hand! You hadn't even the
sense to hit her where a magistrate couldn't see the mark of it,
you silly young lump of conceit and ignorance. Hit a girl in the
jaw and ony make her cry! If Todger Fairmile'd done it, she
wouldn't a got up inside o ten minutes, no more than you would if
he got on to you. Yah! I'd set about you myself if I had a week's
feedin in me instead o two months starvation. [He returns to the
table to finish his meal].

BILL [following him and stooping over him to drive the taunt in]
You lie! you have the bread and treacle in you that you come here
to beg.

SHIRLEY [bursting into tears] Oh God! it's true: I'm only an old
pauper on the scrap heap. [Furiously] But you'll come to it
yourself; and then you'll know. You'll come to it sooner than a
teetotaller like me, fillin yourself with gin at this hour o the

BILL. I'm no gin drinker, you old liar; but when I want to give
my girl a bloomin good idin I like to av a bit o devil in me:
see? An here I am, talkin to a rotten old blighter like you sted
o givin her wot for. [Working himself into a rage] I'm goin in
there to fetch her out. [He makes vengefully for the shelter

SHIRLEY. You're goin to the station on a stretcher, more likely;
and they'll take the gin and the devil out of you there when they
get you inside. You mind what you're about: the major here is the
Earl o Stevenage's granddaughter.

BILL [checked] Garn!

SHIRLEY. You'll see.

BILL [his resolution oozing] Well, I ain't done nothin to er.

SHIRLEY. Spose she said you did! who'd believe you?

BILL [very uneasy, skulking back to the corner of the penthouse]
Gawd! There's no jastice in this country. To think wot them
people can do! I'm as good as er.

SHIRLEY. Tell her so. It's just what a fool like you would do.

Barbara, brisk and businesslike, comes from the shelter with a
note book, and addresses herself to Shirley. Bill, cowed, sits
down in the corner on a form, and turns his back on them.

BARBARA. Good morning.

SHIRLEY [standing up and taking off his hat] Good morning, miss.

BARBARA. Sit down: make yourself at home. [He hesitates; but she
puts a friendly hand on his shoulder and makes him obey]. Now
then! since you've made friends with us, we want to know all
about you. Names and addresses and trades.

SHIRLEY. Peter Shirley. Fitter. Chucked out two months ago
because I was too old.

BARBARA [not at all surprised] You'd pass still. Why didn't you
dye your hair?

SHIRLEY. I did. Me age come out at a coroner's inquest on me

BARBARA. Steady?

SHIRLEY. Teetotaller. Never out of a job before. Good worker. And
sent to the knockers like an old horse!

BARBARA. No matter: if you did your part God will do his.

SHIRLEY [suddenly stubborn] My religion's no concern of anybody
but myself.

BARBARA [guessing] I know. Secularist?

SHIRLEY [hotly] Did I offer to deny it?

BARBARA. Why should you? My own father's a Secularist, I think.
Our Father--yours and mine--fulfils himself in many ways; and I
daresay he knew what he was about when he made a Secularist of
you. So buck up, Peter! we can always find a job for a steady man
like you. [Shirley, disarmed, touches his hat. She turns from him
to Bill]. What's your name?

BILL [insolently] Wot's that to you?

BARBARA [calmly making a note] Afraid to give his name. Any

BILL. Who's afraid to give his name? [Doggedly, with a sense of
heroically defying the House of Lords in the person of Lord
Stevenage] If you want to bring a charge agen me, bring it. [She
waits, unruffled]. My name's Bill Walker.

BARBARA [as if the name were familiar: trying to remember how]
Bill Walker? [Recollecting] Oh, I know: you're the man that Jenny
Hill was praying for inside just now. [She enters his name in her
note book].

BILL. Who's Jenny Hill? And what call has she to pray for me?

BARBARA. I don't know. Perhaps it was you that cut her lip.

BILL [defiantly] Yes, it was me that cut her lip. I ain't afraid
o you.

BARBARA. How could you be, since you're not afraid of God? You're
a brave man, Mr. Walker. It takes some pluck to do our work here;
but none of us dare lift our hand against a girl like that, for
fear of her father in heaven.

BILL [sullenly] I want none o your cantin jaw. I suppose you
think I come here to beg from you, like this damaged lot here.
Not me. I don't want your bread and scrape and catlap. I don't
believe in your Gawd, no more than you do yourself.

BARBARA [sunnily apologetic and ladylike, as on a new footing
with him] Oh, I beg your pardon for putting your name down, Mr.
Walker. I didn't understand. I'll strike it out.

BILL [taking this as a slight, and deeply wounded by it] Eah! you
let my name alone. Ain't it good enough to be in your book?

BARBARA [considering] Well, you see, there's no use putting down
your name unless I can do something for you, is there? What's
your trade?

BILL [still smarting] That's no concern o yours.

BARBARA. Just so. [very businesslike] I'll put you down as
[writing] the man who--struck--poor little Jenny Hill--in the

BILL [rising threateningly] See here. I've ad enough o this.

BARBARA [quite sunny and fearless] What did you come to us for?

BILL. I come for my girl, see? I come to take her out o this and
to break er jaws for her.

BARBARA [complacently] You see I was right about your trade.
[Bill, on the point of retorting furiously, finds himself, to his
great shame and terror, in danger of crying instead. He sits down
again suddenly]. What's her name?

BILL [dogged] Er name's Mog Abbijam: thats wot her name is.

BARBARA. Oh, she's gone to Canning Town, to our barracks there.

BILL [fortified by his resentment of Mog's perfidy] is she?
[Vindictively] Then I'm goin to Kennintahn arter her. [He crosses
to the gate; hesitates; finally comes back at Barbara]. Are you
lyin to me to get shut o me?

BARBARA. I don't want to get shut of you. I want to keep you here
and save your soul. You'd better stay: you're going to have a bad
time today, Bill.

BILL. Who's goin to give it to me? You, props.

BARBARA. Someone you don't believe in. But you'll be glad

BILL [slinking off] I'll go to Kennintahn to be out o the reach o
your tongue. [Suddenly turning on her with intense malice] And if
I don't find Mog there, I'll come back and do two years for you,
selp me Gawd if I don't!

BARBARA [a shade kindlier, if possible] It's no use, Bill. She's
got another bloke.

BILL. Wot!

BARBARA. One of her own converts. He fell in love with her when
he saw her with her soul saved, and her face clean, and her hair

BILL [surprised] Wottud she wash it for, the carroty slut? It's

BARBARA. It's quite lovely now, because she wears a new look in
her eyes with it. It's a pity you're too late. The new bloke has
put your nose out of joint, Bill.

BILL. I'll put his nose out o joint for him. Not that I care a
curse for her, mind that. But I'll teach her to drop me as if I
was dirt. And I'll teach him to meddle with my Judy. Wots iz
bleedin name?

BARBARA. Sergeant Todger Fairmile.

SHIRLEY [rising with grim joy] I'll go with him, miss. I want to
see them two meet. I'll take him to the infirmary when it's over.

BILL [to Shirley, with undissembled misgiving] Is that im you was
speakin on?

SHIRLEY. That's him.

BILL. Im that wrastled in the music all?

SHIRLEY. The competitions at the National Sportin Club was worth
nigh a hundred a year to him. He's gev em up now for religion; so
he's a bit fresh for want of the exercise he was accustomed to.
He'll be glad to see you. Come along.

BILL. Wots is weight?

SHIRLEY. Thirteen four. [Bill's last hope expires].

BARBARA. Go and talk to him, Bill. He'll convert you.

SHIRLEY. He'll convert your head into a mashed potato.

BILL [sullenly] I ain't afraid of him. I ain't afraid of
ennybody. But he can lick me. She's done me. [He sits down
moodily on the edge of the horse trough].

SHIRLEY. You ain't goin. I thought not. [He resumes his seat].

BARBARA [calling] Jenny!

JENNY [appearing at the shelter door with a plaster on the corner
of her mouth] Yes, Major.

BARBARA. Send Rummy Mitchens out to clear away here.

JENNY. I think she's afraid.

BARBARA [her resemblance to her mother flashing out for a moment]
Nonsense! she must do as she's told.

JENNY [calling into the shelter] Rummy: the Major says you must

Jenny comes to Barbara, purposely keeping on the side next Bill,
lest he should suppose that she shrank from him or bore malice.

BARBARA. Poor little Jenny! Are you tired? [Looking at the
wounded cheek] Does it hurt?

JENNY. No: it's all right now. It was nothing.

BARBARA [critically] It was as hard as he could hit, I expect.
Poor Bill! You don't feel angry with him, do you?

JENNY. Oh no, no, no: indeed I don't, Major, bless his poor
heart! [Barbara kisses her; and she runs away merrily into the
shelter. Bill writhes with an agonizing return of his new and
alarming symptoms, but says nothing. Rummy Mitchens comes from
the shelter].

BARBARA [going to meet Rummy] Now Rummy, bustle. Take in those
mugs and plates to be washed; and throw the crumbs about for the

Rummy takes the three plates and mugs; but Shirley takes back his
mug from her, as there it still come milk left in it.

RUMMY. There ain't any crumbs. This ain't a time to waste good
bread on birds.

PRICE [appearing at the shelter door] Gentleman come to see the
shelter, Major. Says he's your father.

BARBARA. All right. Coming. [Snobby goes back into the shelter,
followed by Barbara].

RUMMY [stealing across to Bill and addressing him in a subdued
voice, but with intense conviction] I'd av the lor of you, you
flat eared pignosed potwalloper, if she'd let me. You're no
gentleman, to hit a lady in the face. [Bill, with greater things
moving in him, takes no notice].

SHIRLEY [following her] Here! in with you and don't get yourself
into more trouble by talking.

RUMMY [with hauteur] I ain't ad the pleasure o being hintroduced
to you, as I can remember. [She goes into the shelter with the

BILL [savagely] Don't you talk to me, d'ye hear. You lea me
alone, or I'll do you a mischief. I'm not dirt under your feet,

SHIRLEY [calmly] Don't you be afeerd. You ain't such prime
company that you need expect to be sought after. [He is about to
go into the shelter when Barbara comes out, with Undershaft on
her right].

BARBARA. Oh there you are, Mr Shirley! [Between them] This is my
father: I told you he was a Secularist, didn't I? Perhaps you'll
be able to comfort one another.

UNDERSHAFT [startled] A Secularist! Not the least in the world:
on the contrary, a confirmed mystic.

BARBARA. Sorry, I'm sure. By the way, papa, what is your
religion--in case I have to introduce you again?

UNDERSHAFT. My religion? Well, my dear, I am a Millionaire. That
is my religion.

BARBARA. Then I'm afraid you and Mr Shirley wont be able to
comfort one another after all. You're not a Millionaire, are you,

SHIRLEY. No; and proud of it.

UNDERSHAFT [gravely] Poverty, my friend, is not a thing to be
proud of.

SHIRLEY [angrily] Who made your millions for you? Me and my like.
What's kep us poor? Keepin you rich. I wouldn't have your
conscience, not for all your income.

UNDERSHAFT. I wouldn't have your income, not for all your
conscience, Mr Shirley. [He goes to the penthouse and sits down
on a form].

BARBARA [stopping Shirley adroitly as he is about to retort] You
wouldn't think he was my father, would you, Peter? Will you go
into the shelter and lend the lasses a hand for a while: we're
worked off our feet.

SHIRLEY [bitterly] Yes: I'm in their debt for a meal, ain't I?

BARBARA. Oh, not because you're in their debt; but for love of
them, Peter, for love of them. [He cannot understand, and is
rather scandalized]. There! Don't stare at me. In with you; and
give that conscience of yours a holiday [bustling him into the

SHIRLEY [as he goes in] Ah! it's a pity you never was trained to
use your reason, miss. You'd have been a very taking lecturer on

Barbara turns to her father.

UNDERSHAFT. Never mind me, my dear. Go about your work; and let
me watch it for a while.

BARBARA. All right.

UNDERSHAFT. For instance, what's the matter with that out-patient
over there?

BARBARA [looking at Bill, whose attitude has never changed, and
whose expression of brooding wrath has deepened] Oh, we shall
cure him in no time. Just watch. [She goes over to Bill and
waits. He glances up at her and casts his eyes down again,
uneasy, but grimmer than ever]. It would be nice to just stamp on
Mog Habbijam's face, wouldn't it, Bill?

BILL [starting up from the trough in consternation] It's a lie: I
never said so. [She shakes her head]. Who told you wot was in my

BARBARA. Only your new friend.

BILL. Wot new friend?

BARBARA. The devil, Bill. When he gets round people they get
miserable, just like you.

HILL [with a heartbreaking attempt at devil-may-care
cheerfulness] I ain't miserable. [He sits down again, and
stretches his legs in an attempt to seem indifferent].

BARBARA. Well, if you're happy, why don't you look happy, as we

BILL [his legs curling back in spite of him] I'm appy enough, I
tell you. Why don't you lea me alown? Wot av I done to you? I
ain't smashed your face, av I?

BARBARA [softly: wooing his soul] It's not me that's getting at
you, Bill.

BILL. Who else is it?

BARBARA. Somebody that doesn't intend you to smash women's faces,
I suppose. Somebody or something that wants to make a man of you.

BILL [blustering] Make a man o ME! Ain't I a man? eh? ain't I a
man? Who sez I'm not a man?

BARBARA. There's a man in you somewhere, I suppose. But why did
he let you hit poor little Jenny Hill? That wasn't very manly of
him, was it?

BILL [tormented] Av done with it, I tell you. Chock it. I'm sick
of your Jenny Ill and er silly little face.

BARBARA. Then why do you keep thinking about it? Why does it keep
coming up against you in your mind? You're not getting converted,
are you?

BILL [with conviction] Not ME. Not likely. Not arf.

BARBARA. That's right, Bill. Hold out against it. Put out your
strength. Don't let's get you cheap. Todger Fairmile said he
wrestled for three nights against his Salvation harder than he
ever wrestled with the Jap at the music hall. He gave in to the
Jap when his arm was going to break. But he didn't give in to his
salvation until his heart was going to break. Perhaps you'll
escape that. You haven't any heart, have you?

BILL. Wot dye mean? Wy ain't I got a art the same as ennybody

BARBARA. A man with a heart wouldn't have bashed poor little
Jenny's face, would he?

BILL [almost crying] Ow, will you lea me alown? Av I ever offered
to meddle with you, that you come noggin and provowkin me lawk
this? [He writhes convulsively from his eyes to his toes].

BARBARA [with a steady soothing hand on his arm and a gentle
voice that never lets him go] It's your soul that's hurting you,
Bill, and not me. We've been through it all ourselves. Come with
us, Bill. [He looks wildly round]. To brave manhood on earth and
eternal glory in heaven. [He is on the point of breaking down].
Come. [A drum is heard in the shelter; and Bill, with a gasp,
escapes from the spell as Barbara turns quickly. Adolphus enters
from the shelter with a big drum]. Oh! there you are, Dolly. Let
me introduce a new friend of mine, Mr Bill Walker. This is my
bloke, Bill: Mr Cusins. [Cusins salutes with his drumstick].

BILL. Goin to marry im?


BILL [fervently] Gawd elp im! Gawd elp im!

BARBARA. Why? Do you think he won't be happy with me?

BILL. I've only ad to stand it for a mornin: e'll av to stand it
for a lifetime.

CUSINS. That is a frightful reflection, Mr Walker. But I can't
tear myself away from her.

BILL. Well, I can. [To Barbara] Eah! do you know where I'm goin
to, and wot I'm goin to do?

BARBARA. Yes: you're going to heaven; and you're coming back here
before the week's out to tell me so.

BILL. You lie. I'm goin to Kennintahn, to spit in Todger
Fairmile's eye. I bashed Jenny Ill's face; and now I'll get me
own face bashed and come back and show it to er. E'll it me
ardern I it er. That'll make us square. [To Adolphus] Is that
fair or is it not? You're a genlmn: you oughter know.

BARBARA. Two black eyes wont make one white one, Bill.

BILL. I didn't ast you. Cawn't you never keep your mahth shut? I
ast the genlmn.

CUSINS [reflectively] Yes: I think you're right, Mr Walker. Yes:
I should do it. It's curious: it's exactly what an ancient Greek
would have done.

BARBARA. But what good will it do?

CUSINS. Well, it will give Mr Fairmile some exercise; and it will
satisfy Mr Walker's soul.

BILL. Rot! there ain't no sach a thing as a soul. Ah kin you tell
wether I've a soul or not? You never seen it.

BARBARA. I've seen it hurting you when you went against it.

BILL [with compressed aggravation] If you was my girl and took
the word out o me mahth lawk thet, I'd give you suthink you'd
feel urtin, so I would. [To Adolphus] You take my tip, mate. Stop
er jawr; or you'll die afore your time. [With intense expression]
Wore aht: thets wot you'll be: wore aht. [He goes away through
the gate].

CUSINS [looking after him] I wonder!

BARBARA. Dolly! [indignant, in her mother's manner].

CUSINS. Yes, my dear, it's very wearing to be in love with you.
If it lasts, I quite think I shall die young.

BARBARA. Should you mind?

CUSINS. Not at all. [He is suddenly softened, and kisses her over
the drum, evidently not for the first time, as people cannot kiss
over a big drum without practice. Undershaft coughs].

BARBARA. It's all right, papa, we've not forgotten you. Dolly:
explain the place to papa: I haven't time. [She goes busily into
the shelter].

Undershaft and Adolpbus now have the yard to themselves.
Undershaft, seated on a form, and still keenly attentive, looks
hard at Adolphus. Adolphus looks hard at him.

UNDERSHAFT. I fancy you guess something of what is in my mind, Mr
Cusins. [Cusins flourishes his drumsticks as if in the art of
beating a lively rataplan, but makes no sound]. Exactly so. But
suppose Barbara finds you out!

CUSINS. You know, I do not admit that I am imposing on Barbara. I
am quite genuinely interested in the views of the Salvation Army.
The fact is, I am a sort of collector of religions; and the
curious thing is that I find I can believe them all. By the way,
have you any religion?


CUSINS. Anything out of the common?

UNDERSHAFT. Only that there are two things necessary to

CUSINS [disappointed, but polite] Ah, the Church Catechism.
Charles Lomax also belongs to the Established Church.

UNDERSHAFT. The two things are--

CUSINS. Baptism and--

UNDERSHAFT. No. Money and gunpowder.

CUSINS [surprised, but interested] That is the general opinion of
our governing classes. The novelty is in hearing any man confess


CUSINS. Excuse me: is there any place in your religion for honor,
justice, truth, love, mercy and so forth?

UNDERSHAFT. Yes: they are the graces and luxuries of a rich,
strong, and safe life.

CUSINS. Suppose one is forced to choose between them and money or

UNDERSHAFT. Choose money and gunpowder; for without enough of
both you cannot afford the others.

CUSINS. That is your religion?


The cadence of this reply makes a full close in the conversation.
Cusins twists his face dubiously and contemplates Undershaft.
Undershaft contemplates him.

CUSINS. Barbara won't stand that. You will have to choose between
your religion and Barbara.

UNDERSHAFT. So will you, my friend. She will find out that that
drum of yours is hollow.

CUSINS. Father Undershaft: you are mistaken: I am a sincere
Salvationist. You do not understand the Salvation Army. It is the
army of joy, of love, of courage: it has banished the fear and
remorse and despair of the old hellridden evangelical sects: it
marches to fight the devil with trumpet and drum, with music and
dancing, with banner and palm, as becomes a sally from heaven by
its happy garrison. It picks the waster out of the public house
and makes a man of him: it finds a worm wriggling in a back
kitchen, and lo! a woman! Men and women of rank too, sons and
daughters of the Highest. It takes the poor professor of Greek,
the most artificial and self-suppressed of human creatures, from
his meal of roots, and lets loose the rhapsodist in him; reveals
the true worship of Dionysos to him; sends him down the public
street drumming dithyrambs [he plays a thundering flourish on the

UNDERSHAFT. You will alarm the shelter.

CUSINS. Oh, they are accustomed to these sudden ecstasies of
piety. However, if the drum worries you-- [he pockets the
drumsticks; unhooks the drum; and stands it on the ground
opposite the gateway].

UNDERSHAFT. Thank you.

CUSINS. You remember what Euripides says about your money and


CUSINS [declaiming]

                      One and another
In money and guns may outpass his brother;
And men in their millions float and flow
And seethe with a million hopes as leaven;
And they win their will; or they miss their will;
And their hopes are dead or are pined for still:
    But whoe'er can know
    As the long days go
That to live is happy, has found his heaven.

My translation: what do you think of it?

UNDERSHAFT. I think, my friend, that if you wish to know,
as the long days go, that to live is happy, you must first
acquire money enough for a decent life, and power enough to be
your own master.

CUSINS. You are damnably discouraging. [He resumes his

      Is it so hard a thing to see
      That the spirit of God--whate'er it be--
The Law that abides and changes not, ages long,
The Eternal and Nature-born: these things be strong.
What else is Wisdom? What of Man's endeavor,
Or God's high grace so lovely and so great?
To stand from fear set free? to breathe and wait?
To hold a hand uplifted over Fate?
And shall not Barbara be loved for ever?

UNDERSHAFT. Euripides mentions Barbara, does he?

CUSINS. It is a fair translation. The word means Loveliness.

UNDERSHAFT. May I ask--as Barbara's father--how much a year she
is to be loved for ever on?

CUSINS. As Barbara's father, that is more your affair than mine.
I can feed her by teaching Greek: that is about all.

UNDERSHAFT. Do you consider it a good match for her?

CUSINS [with polite obstinacy] Mr Undershaft: I am in many ways a
weak, timid, ineffectual person; and my health is far from
satisfactory. But whenever I feel that I must have anything, I
get it, sooner or later. I feel that way about Barbara. I don't
like marriage: I feel intensely afraid of it; and I don't know
what I shall do with Barbara or what she will do with me. But I
feel that I and nobody else must marry her. Please regard that as
settled.--Not that I wish to be arbitrary; but why should I waste
your time in discussing what is inevitable?

UNDERSHAFT. You mean that you will stick at nothing not even the
conversion of the Salvation Army to the worship of Dionysos.

CUSINS. The business of the Salvation Army is to save, not to
wrangle about the name of the pathfinder. Dionysos or another:
what does it matter?

UNDERSHAFT [rising and approaching him] Professor Cusins you are
a young man after my own heart.

CUSINS. Mr Undershaft: you are, as far as I am able to gather, a
most infernal old rascal; but you appeal very strongly to my
sense of ironic humor.

Undershaft mutely offers his hand. They shake.

UNDERSHAFT [suddenly concentrating himself] And now to business.

CUSINS. Pardon me. We were discussing religion. Why go back to
such an uninteresting and unimportant subject as business?

UNDERSHAFT. Religion is our business at present, because it is
through religion alone that we can win Barbara.

CUSINS. Have you, too, fallen in love with Barbara?

UNDERSHAFT. Yes, with a father's love.

CUSINS. A father's love for a grown-up daughter is the most
dangerous of all infatuations. I apologize for mentioning my own
pale, coy, mistrustful fancy in the same breath with it.

UNDERSHAFT. Keep to the point. We have to win her; and we are
neither of us Methodists.

CUSINS. That doesn't matter. The power Barbara wields here--the
power that wields Barbara herself--is not Calvinism, not
Presbyterianism, not Methodism--

UNDERSHAFT. Not Greek Paganism either, eh?

CUSINS. I admit that. Barbara is quite original in her religion.

UNDERSHAFT [triumphantly] Aha! Barbara Undershaft would be. Her
inspiration comes from within herself.

CUSINS. How do you suppose it got there?

UNDERSHAFT [in towering excitement] It is the Undershaft
inheritance. I shall hand on my torch to my daughter. She shall
make my converts and preach my gospel.

CUSINS. What! Money and gunpowder!

UNDERSHAFT. Yes, money and gunpowder; freedom and power; command
of life and command of death.

CUSINS [urbanely: trying to bring him down to earth] This is
extremely interesting, Mr Undershaft. Of course you know that you
are mad.

UNDERSHAFT [with redoubled force] And you?

CUSINS. Oh, mad as a hatter. You are welcome to my secret since I
have discovered yours. But I am astonished. Can a madman make

UNDERSHAFT. Would anyone else than a madman make them? And now
[with surging energy] question for question. Can a sane man
translate Euripides?


UNDERSHAFT [reining him by the shoulder] Can a sane woman make a
man of a waster or a woman of a worm?

CUSINS [reeling before the storm] Father Colossus--Mammoth

UNDERSHAFT [pressing him] Are there two mad people or three in
this Salvation shelter to-day?

CUSINS. You mean Barbara is as mad as we are!

UNDERSHAFT [pushing him lightly off and resuming his equanimity
suddenly and completely] Pooh, Professor! let us call things by
their proper names. I am a millionaire; you are a poet; Barbara
is a savior of souls. What have we three to do with the common
mob of slaves and idolaters? [He sits down again with a shrug of
contempt for the mob].

CUSINS. Take care! Barbara is in love with the common people. So
am I. Have you never felt the romance of that love?

UNDERSHAFT [cold and sardonic] Have you ever been in love with
Poverty, like St Francis? Have you ever been in love with Dirt,
like St Simeon? Have you ever been in love with disease and
suffering, like our nurses and philanthropists? Such passions are
not virtues, but the most unnatural of all the vices. This love
of the common people may please an earl's granddaughter and a
university professor; but I have been a common man and a poor
man; and it has no romance for me. Leave it to the poor to
pretend that poverty is a blessing: leave it to the coward to
make a religion of his cowardice by preaching humility: we know
better than that. We three must stand together above the common
people: how else can we help their children to climb up beside
us? Barbara must belong to us, not to the Salvation Army.

CUSINS. Well, I can only say that if you think you will get her
away from the Salvation Army by talking to her as you have been
talking to me, you don't know Barbara.

UNDERSHAFT. My friend: I never ask for what I can buy.

CUSINS [in a white fury] Do I understand you to imply that you
can buy Barbara?

UNDERSHAFT. No; but I can buy the Salvation Army.

CUSINS. Quite impossible.

UNDERSHAFT. You shall see. All religious organizations exist by
selling themselves to the rich.

CUSINS. Not the Army. That is the Church of the poor.

UNDERSHAFT. All the more reason for buying it.

CUSINS. I don't think you quite know what the Army does for the

UNDERSHAFT. Oh yes I do. It draws their teeth: that is enough for
me--as a man of business--

CUSINS. Nonsense! It makes them sober--

UNDERSHAFT. I prefer sober workmen. The profits are larger.

CUSINS. --honest--

UNDERSHAFT. Honest workmen are the most economical.

CUSINS. --attached to their homes--

UNDERSHAFT. So much the better: they will put up with anything
sooner than change their shop.

CUSINS. --happy--

UNDERSHAFT. An invaluable safeguard against revolution.

CUSINS. --unselfish--

UNDERSHAFT. Indifferent to their own interests, which suits me

CUSINS. --with their thoughts on heavenly things--

UNDERSHAFT [rising] And not on Trade Unionism nor Socialism.

CUSINS [revolted] You really are an infernal old rascal.

UNDERSHAFT [indicating Peter Shirley, who has just came from the
shelter and strolled dejectedly down the yard between them] And
this is an honest man!

SHIRLEY. Yes; and what av I got by it? [he passes on bitterly and
sits on the form, in the corner of the penthouse].

Snobby Price, beaming sanctimoniously, and Jenny Hill, with a
tambourine full of coppers, come from the shelter and go to the
drum, on which Jenny begins to count the money.

UNDERSHAFT [replying to Shirley] Oh, your employers must have got
a good deal by it from first to last. [He sits on the table, with
one foot on the side form. Cusins, overwhelmed, sits down on the
same form nearer the shelter. Barbara comes from the shelter to
the middle of the yard. She is excited and a little overwrought].

BARBARA. We've just had a splendid experience meeting at the
other gate in Cripps's lane. I've hardly ever seen them so much
moved as they were by your confession, Mr Price.

PRICE. I could almost be glad of my past wickedness if I could
believe that it would elp to keep hathers stright.

BARBARA. So it will, Snobby. How much, Jenny?

JENNY. Four and tenpence, Major.

BARBARA. Oh Snobby, if you had given your poor mother just one
more kick, we should have got the whole five shillings!

PRICE. If she heard you say that, miss, she'd be sorry I didn't.
But I'm glad. Oh what a joy it will be to her when she hears I'm

UNDERSHAFT. Shall I contribute the odd twopence, Barbara? The
millionaire's mite, eh? [He takes a couple of pennies from his

BARBARA. How did you make that twopence?

UNDERSHAFT. As usual. By selling cannons, torpedoes, submarines,
and my new patent Grand Duke hand grenade.

BARBARA. Put it back in your pocket. You can't buy your Salvation
here for twopence: you must work it out.

UNDERSHAFT. Is twopence not enough? I can afford a little more,
if you press me.

BARBARA. Two million millions would not be enough. There is bad
blood on your hands; and nothing but good blood can cleanse them.
Money is no use. Take it away. [She turns to Cusins]. Dolly: you
must write another letter for me to the papers. [He makes a wry
face]. Yes: I know you don't like it; but it must be done. The
starvation this winter is beating us: everybody is unemployed.
The General says we must close this shelter if we cant get more
money. I force the collections at the meetings until I am
ashamed, don't I, Snobby?

PRICE. It's a fair treat to see you work it, miss. The way you
got them up from three-and-six to four-and-ten with that hymn,
penny by penny and verse by verse, was a caution. Not a Cheap
Jack on Mile End Waste could touch you at it.

BARBARA. Yes; but I wish we could do without it. I am getting at
last to think more of the collection than of the people's souls.
And what are those hatfuls of pence and halfpence? We want
thousands! tens of thousands! hundreds of thousands! I want to
convert people, not to be always begging for the Army in a way
I'd die sooner than beg for myself.

UNDERSHAFT [in profound irony] Genuine unselfishness is capable
of anything, my dear.

BARBARA [unsuspectingly, as she turns away to take the money
from the drum and put it in a cash bag she carries] Yes, isn't
it? [Undershaft looks sardonically at Cusins].

CUSINS [aside to Undershaft] Mephistopheles! Machiavelli!

BARBARA [tears coming into her eyes as she ties the bag and
pockets it] How are we to feed them? I can't talk religion to a
man with bodily hunger in his eyes. [Almost breaking down] It's

JENNY [running to her] Major, dear--

BARBARA [rebounding] No: don't comfort me. It will be all right.
We shall get the money.


JENNY. By praying for it, of course. Mrs Baines says she prayed
for it last night; and she has never prayed for it in vain: never
once. [She goes to the gate and looks out into the street].

BARBARA [who has dried her eyes and regained her composure] By
the way, dad, Mrs Baines has come to march with us to our big
meeting this afternoon; and she is very anxious to meet you, for
some reason or other. Perhaps she'll convert you.

UNDERSHAFT. I shall be delighted, my dear.

JENNY [at the gate: excitedly] Major! Major! Here's that man back

BARBARA. What man?

JENNY. The man that hit me. Oh, I hope he's coming back to join

Bill Walker, with frost on his jacket, comes through the gate,
his hands deep in his pockets and his chin sunk between his
shoulders, like a cleaned-out gambler. He halts between Barbara
and the drum.

BARBARA. Hullo, Bill! Back already!

BILL [nagging at her] Bin talkin ever sense, av you?

BARBARA. Pretty nearly. Well, has Todger paid you out for poor
Jenny's jaw?

BILL. NO he ain't.

BARBARA. I thought your jacket looked a bit snowy.

BILL. So it is snowy. You want to know where the snow come from,
don't you?


BILL. Well, it come from off the ground in Parkinses Corner in
Kennintahn. It got rubbed off be my shoulders see?

BARBARA. Pity you didn't rub some off with your knees, Bill! That
would have done you a lot of good.

BILL [with your mirthless humor] I was saving another man's knees
at the time. E was kneelin on my ed, so e was.

JENNY. Who was kneeling on your head?

BILL. Todger was. E was prayin for me: prayin comfortable with me
as a carpet. So was Mog. So was the ole bloomin meetin. Mog she
sez "O Lord break is stubborn spirit; but don't urt is dear art."
That was wot she said. "Don't urt is dear art"! An er bloke--thirteen
stun four!--kneelin wiv all is weight on me. Funny, ain't it?

JENNY. Oh no. We're so sorry, Mr Walker.

BARBARA [enjoying it frankly] Nonsense! of course it's funny.
Served you right, Bill! You must have done something to him

BILL [doggedly] I did wot I said I'd do. I spit in is eye. E
looks up at the sky and sez, "O that I should be fahnd worthy to
be spit upon for the gospel's sake!" a sez; an Mog sez "Glory
Allelloolier!"; an then a called me Brother, an dahned me as if I
was a kid and a was me mother washin me a Setterda nawt. I adn't
just no show wiv im at all. Arf the street prayed; an the tother
arf larfed fit to split theirselves. [To Barbara] There! are you
settisfawd nah?

BARBARA [her eyes dancing] Wish I'd been there, Bill.

BILL. Yes: you'd a got in a hextra bit o talk on me, wouldn't

JENNY. I'm so sorry, Mr. Walker.

BILL [fiercely] Don't you go bein sorry for me: you've no call.
Listen ere. I broke your jawr.

JENNY. No, it didn't hurt me: indeed it didn't, except for a
moment. It was only that I was frightened.

BILL. I don't want to be forgive be you, or be ennybody. Wot I
did I'll pay for. I tried to get me own jawr broke to settisfaw

JENNY [distressed] Oh no--

BILL [impatiently] Tell y'I did: cawn't you listen to wot's bein
told you? All I got be it was bein made a sight of in the public
street for me pains. Well, if I cawn't settisfaw you one way, I
can another. Listen ere! I ad two quid saved agen the frost; an
I've a pahnd of it left. A mate n mine last week ad words with
the Judy e's goin to marry. E give er wot-for; an e's bin fined
fifteen bob. E ad a right to it er because they was goin to be
marrid; but I adn't no right to it you; so put anather fawv bob
on an call it a pahnd's worth. [He produces a sovereign]. Ere's
the money. Take it; and let's av no more o your forgivin an
prayin and your Major jawrin me. Let wot I done be done and paid
for; and let there be a end of it.

JENNY. Oh, I couldn't take it, Mr. Walker. But if you would give
a shilling or two to poor Rummy Mitchens! you really did hurt
her; and she's old.

BILL [contemptuously] Not likely. I'd give her anather as soon as
look at er. Let her av the lawr o me as she threatened! She ain't
forgiven me: not mach. Wot I done to er is not on me mawnd--wot
she [indicating Barbara] might call on me conscience--no more
than stickin a pig. It's this Christian game o yours that I won't
av played agen me: this bloomin forgivin an noggin an jawrin that
makes a man that sore that iz lawf's a burdn to im. I won't av
it, I tell you; so take your money and stop throwin your silly
bashed face hup agen me.

JENNY. Major: may I take a little of it for the Army?

BARBARA. No: the Army is not to be bought. We want your soul,
Bill; and we'll take nothing less.

BILL [bitterly] I know. It ain't enough. Me an me few shillins is
not good enough for you. You're a earl's grendorter, you are.
Nothin less than a underd pahnd for you.

UNDERSHAFT. Come, Barbara! you could do a great deal of good with
a hundred pounds. If you will set this gentleman's mind at ease
by taking his pound, I will give the other ninety-nine [Bill,
astounded by such opulence, instinctively touches his cap].

BARBARA. Oh, you're too extravagant, papa. Bill offers twenty
pieces of silver. All you need offer is the other ten. That will
make the standard price to buy anybody who's for sale. I'm not;
and the Army's not. [To Bill] You'll never have another quiet
moment, Bill, until you come round to us. You can't stand out
against your salvation.

BILL [sullenly] I cawn't stend aht agen music all wrastlers and
artful tongued women. I've offered to pay. I can do no more. Take
it or leave it. There it is. [He throws the sovereign on the
drum, and sits down on the horse-trough. The coin fascinates
Snobby Price, who takes an early opportunity of dropping his cap
on it].

Mrs Baines comes from the shelter. She is dressed as a Salvation
Army Commissioner. She is an earnest looking woman of about 40,
with a caressing, urgent voice, and an appealing manner.

BARBARA. This is my father, Mrs Baines. [Undershaft comes from
the table, taking his hat off with marked civility]. Try what you
can do with him. He won't listen to me, because he remembers what
a fool I was when I was a baby.

[She leaves them together and chats with Jenny].

MRS BAINES. Have you been shown over the shelter, Mr Undershaft?
You know the work we're doing, of course.

UNDERSHAFT [very civilly] The whole nation knows it, Mrs Baines.

MRS BAINES. No, Sir: the whole nation does not know it, or we
should not be crippled as we are for want of money to carry our
work through the length and breadth of the land. Let me tell you
that there would have been rioting this winter in London but for

UNDERSHAFT. You really think so?

MRS BAINES. I know it. I remember 1886, when you rich gentlemen
hardened your hearts against the cry of the poor. They broke the
windows of your clubs in Pall Mall.

UNDERSHAFT [gleaming with approval of their method] And the
Mansion House Fund went up next day from thirty thousand pounds
to seventy-nine thousand! I remember quite well.

MRS BAINES. Well, won't you help me to get at the people? They
won't break windows then. Come here, Price. Let me show you to
this gentleman [Price comes to be inspected]. Do you remember the
window breaking?

PRICE. My ole father thought it was the revolution, ma'am.

MRS BAINES. Would you break windows now?

PRICE. Oh no ma'm. The windows of eaven av bin opened to me. I
know now that the rich man is a sinner like myself.

RUMMY [appearing above at the loft door] Snobby Price!

SNOBBY. Wot is it?

RUMMY. Your mother's askin for you at the other gate in Crippses
Lane. She's heard about your confession [Price turns pale].

MRS BAINES. Go, Mr. Price; and pray with her.

JENNY. You can go through the shelter, Snobby.

PRICE [to Mrs Baines] I couldn't face her now; ma'am, with all
the weight of my sins fresh on me. Tell her she'll find her son
at ome, waitin for her in prayer. [He skulks off through the
gate, incidentally stealing the sovereign on his way out by
picking up his cap from the drum].

MRS BAINES [with swimming eyes] You see how we take the anger and
the bitterness against you out of their hearts, Mr Undershaft.

UNDERSHAFT. It is certainly most convenient and gratifying to all
large employers of labor, Mrs Baines.

MRS BAINES. Barbara: Jenny: I have good news: most wonderful
news. [Jenny runs to her]. My prayers have been answered. I told
you they would, Jenny, didn't I?

JENNY. Yes, yes.

BARBARA [moving nearer to the drum] Have we got money enough to
keep the shelter open?

MRS BAINES. I hope we shall have enough to keep all the shelters
open. Lord Saxmundham has promised us five thousand pounds--

BARBARA. Hooray!

JENNY. Glory!

MRS BAINES. --if--

BARBARA. "If!" If what?

MRS BAINES. If five other gentlemen will give a thousand each to
make it up to ten thousand.

BARBARA. Who is Lord Saxmundham? I never heard of him.

UNDERSHAFT [who has pricked up his ears at the peer's name, and
is now watching Barbara curiously] A new creation, my dear. You
have heard of Sir Horace Bodger?

BARBARA. Bodger! Do you mean the distiller? Bodger's whisky!

UNDERSHAFT. That is the man. He is one of the greatest of our
public benefactors. He restored the cathedral at Hakington. They
made him a baronet for that. He gave half a million to the funds
of his party: they made him a baron for that.

SHIRLEY. What will they give him for the five thousand?

UNDERSHAFT. There is nothing left to give him. So the five
thousand, I should think, is to save his soul.

MRS BAINES. Heaven grant it may! Oh Mr. Undershaft, you have some
very rich friends. Can't you help us towards the other five
thousand? We are going to hold a great meeting this afternoon at
the Assembly Hall in the Mile End Road. If I could only announce
that one gentleman had come forward to support Lord Saxmundham,
others would follow. Don't you know somebody? Couldn't you?
Wouldn't you? [her eyes fill with tears] oh, think of those poor
people, Mr Undershaft: think of how much it means to them, and
how little to a great man like you.

UNDERSHAFT [sardonically gallant] Mrs Baines: you are
irresistible. I can't disappoint you; and I can't deny myself the
satisfaction of making Bodger pay up. You shall have your five
thousand pounds.

MRS BAINES. Thank God!

UNDERSHAFT. You don't thank me?

MRS BAINES. Oh sir, don't try to be cynical: don't be ashamed of
being a good man. The Lord will bless you abundantly; and our
prayers will be like a strong fortification round you all the
days of your life. [With a touch of caution] You will let me have
the cheque to show at the meeting, won't you? Jenny: go in and
fetch a pen and ink. [Jenny runs to the shelter door].

UNDERSHAFT. Do not disturb Miss Hill: I have a fountain pen.
[Jenny halts. He sits at the table and writes the cheque. Cusins
rises to make more room for him. They all watch him silently].

BILL [cynically, aside to Barbara, his voice and accent horribly
debased] Wot prawce Selvytion nah?

BARBARA. Stop. [Undershaft stops writing: they all turn to her in
surprise]. Mrs Baines: are you really going to take this money?

MRS BAINES [astonished] Why not, dear?

BARBARA. Why not! Do you know what my father is? Have you
forgotten that Lord Saxmundham is Bodger the whisky man? Do you
remember how we implored the County Council to stop him from
writing Bodger's Whisky in letters of fire against the sky; so
that the poor drinkruined creatures on the embankment could not
wake up from their snatches of sleep without being reminded of
their deadly thirst by that wicked sky sign? Do you know that the
worst thing I have had to fight here is not the devil, but
Bodger, Bodger, Bodger, with his whisky, his distilleries, and
his tied houses? Are you going to make our shelter another tied
house for him, and ask me to keep it?

BILL. Rotten drunken whisky it is too.

MRS BAINES. Dear Barbara: Lord Saxmundham has a soul to be saved
like any of us. If heaven has found the way to make a good use of
his money, are we to set ourselves up against the answer to our

BARBARA. I know he has a soul to be saved. Let him come down
here; and I'll do my best to help him to his salvation. But he
wants to send his cheque down to buy us, and go on being as
wicked as ever.

UNDERSHAFT [with a reasonableness which Cusins alone perceives to
be ironical] My dear Barbara: alcohol is a very necessary
article. It heals the sick--

BARBARA. It does nothing of the sort.

UNDERSHAFT. Well, it assists the doctor: that is perhaps a less
questionable way of putting it. It makes life bearable to
millions of people who could not endure their existence if they
were quite sober. It enables Parliament to do things at eleven at
night that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning. Is
it Bodger's fault that this inestimable gift is deplorably abused
by less than one per cent of the poor? [He turns again to the
table; signs the cheque; and crosses it].

MRS BAINES. Barbara: will there be less drinking or more if all
those poor souls we are saving come to-morrow and find the doors
of our shelters shut in their faces? Lord Saxmundham gives us the
money to stop drinking--to take his own business from him.

CUSINS [impishly] Pure self-sacrifice on Bodger's part, clearly!
Bless dear Bodger! [Barbara almost breaks down as Adolpbus, too,
fails her].

UNDERSHAFT [tearing out the cheque and pocketing the book as he
rises and goes past Cusins to Mrs Baines] I also, Mrs Baines, may
claim a little disinterestedness. Think of my business! think of
the widows and orphans! the men and lads torn to pieces with
shrapnel and poisoned with lyddite [Mrs Baines shrinks; but he
goes on remorselessly]! the oceans of blood, not one drop of
which is shed in a really just cause! the ravaged crops! the
peaceful peasants forced, women and men, to till their fields
under the fire of opposing armies on pain of starvation! the bad
blood of the fierce little cowards at home who egg on others to
fight for the gratification of their national vanity! All this
makes money for me: I am never richer, never busier than when the
papers are full of it. Well, it is your work to preach peace on
earth and goodwill to men. [Mrs Baines's face lights up again].
Every convert you make is a vote against war. [Her lips move in
prayer]. Yet I give you this money to help you to hasten my own
commercial ruin. [He gives her the cheque].

CUSINS [mounting the form in an ecstasy of mischief] The
millennium will be inaugurated by the unselfishness of Undershaft
and Bodger. Oh be joyful! [He takes the drumsticks from his
pockets and flourishes them].

MRS BAINES [taking the cheque] The longer I live the more proof I
see that there is an Infinite Goodness that turns everything to
the work of salvation sooner or later. Who would have thought
that any good could have come out of war and drink? And yet their
profits are brought today to the feet of salvation to do its
blessed work. [She is affected to tears].

JENNY [running to Mrs Baines and throwing her arms round her] Oh
dear! how blessed, how glorious it all is!

CUSINS [in a convulsion of irony] Let us seize this unspeakable
moment. Let us march to the great meeting at once. Excuse me just
an instant. [He rushes into the shelter. Jenny takes her
tambourine from the drum head].

MRS BAINES. Mr Undershaft: have you ever seen a thousand people
fall on their knees with one impulse and pray? Come with us to
the meeting. Barbara shall tell them that the Army is saved, and
saved through you.

CUSINS [returning impetuously from the shelter with a flag and a
trombone, and coming between Mrs Baines and Undershaft] You shall
carry the flag down the first street, Mrs Baines [he gives her
the flag]. Mr Undershaft is a gifted trombonist: he shall intone
an Olympian diapason to the West Ham Salvation March. [Aside to
Undershaft, as he forces the trombone on him] Blow, Machiavelli,

UNDERSHAFT [aside to him, as he takes the trombone] The trumpet
in Zion! [Cusins rushes to the drum, which he takes up and puts
on. Undershaft continues, aloud] I will do my best. I could vamp
a bass if I knew the tune.

CUSINS. It is a wedding chorus from one of Donizetti's operas;
but we have converted it. We convert everything to good here,
including Bodger. You remember the chorus. "For thee immense
rejoicing--immenso giubilo--immenso giubilo." [With drum
obbligato] Rum tum ti tum tum, tum tum ti ta--

BARBARA. Dolly: you are breaking my heart.

CUSINS. What is a broken heart more or less here? Dionysos
Undershaft has descended. I am possessed.

MRS BAINES. Come, Barbara: I must have my dear Major to carry the
flag with me.

JENNY. Yes, yes, Major darling.

CUSINS [snatches the tambourine out of Jenny's hand and mutely
offers it to Barbara].

BARBARA [coming forward a little as she puts the offer behind her
with a shudder, whilst Cusins recklessly tosses the tambourine
back to Jenny and goes to the gate] I can't come.

JENNY. Not come!

MRS BAINES [with tears in her eyes] Barbara: do you think
I am wrong to take the money?

BARBARA [impulsively going to her and kissing her] No, no:
God help you, dear, you must: you are saving the Army. Go; and
may you have a great meeting!

JENNY. But arn't you coming?

BARBARA. No. [She begins taking off the silver brooch from her

MRS BAINES. Barbara: what are you doing?

JENNY. Why are you taking your badge off? You can't be going to
leave us, Major.

BARBARA [quietly] Father: come here.

UNDERSHAFT [coming to her] My dear! [Seeing that she is going to
pin the badge on his collar, he retreats to the penthouse in some

BARBARA [following him] Don't be frightened. [She pins the badge
on and steps back towards the table, showing him to the others]
There! It's not much for 5000 pounds is it?

MRS BAINES. Barbara: if you won't come and pray with us, promise
me you will pray for us.

BARBARA. I can't pray now. Perhaps I shall never pray again.

MRS BAINES. Barbara!

JENNY. Major!

BARBARA [almost delirious] I can't bear any more. Quick march!

CUSINS [calling to the procession in the street outside] Off we
go. Play up, there! Immenso giubilo. [He gives the time with his
drum; and the band strikes up the march, which rapidly becomes
more distant as the procession moves briskly away].

MRS BAINES. I must go, dear. You're overworked: you will be all
right tomorrow. We'll never lose you. Now Jenny: step out with
the old flag. Blood and Fire! [She marches out through the gate
with her flag].

JENNY. Glory Hallelujah! [flourishing her tambourine and

UNDERSHAFT [to Cusins, as he marches out past him easing the
slide of his trombone] "My ducats and my daughter"!

CUSINS [following him out] Money and gunpowder!

BARBARA. Drunkenness and Murder! My God: why hast thou forsaken

She sinks on the form with her face buried in her hands. The
march passes away into silence. Bill Walker steals across to her.

BILL [taunting] Wot prawce Selvytion nah?

SHIRLEY. Don't you hit her when she's down.

BILL. She it me wen aw wiz dahn. Waw shouldn't I git a bit o me
own back?

BARBARA [raising her head] I didn't take your money, Bill. [She
crosses the yard to the gate and turns her back on the two men to
hide her face from them].

BILL [sneering after her] Naow, it warn't enough for you.
[Turning to the drum, he misses the money]. Ellow! If you ain't
took it summun else az. Were's it gorn? Blame me if Jenny Ill
didn't take it arter all!

RUMMY [screaming at him from the loft] You lie, you dirty
blackguard! Snobby Price pinched it off the drum wen e took ap iz
cap. I was ap ere all the time an see im do it.

BILL. Wot! Stowl maw money! Waw didn't you call thief on him, you
silly old mucker you?

RUMMY. To serve you aht for ittin me acrost the face. It's cost
y'pahnd, that az. [Raising a paean of squalid triumph] I done
you. I'm even with you. I've ad it aht o y--. [Bill snatches up
Shirley's mug and hurls it at her. She slams the loft door and
vanishes. The mug smashes against the door and falls in

BILL [beginning to chuckle] Tell us, ole man, wot o'clock this
morrun was it wen im as they call Snobby Prawce was sived?

BARBARA [turning to him more composedly, and with unspoiled
sweetness] About half past twelve, Bill. And he pinched your
pound at a quarter to two. I know. Well, you can't afford to lose
it. I'll send it to you.

BILL [his voice and accent suddenly improving] Not if I was to
starve for it. I ain't to be bought.

SHIRLEY. Ain't you? You'd sell yourself to the devil for a pint o
beer; ony there ain't no devil to make the offer.

BILL [unshamed] So I would, mate, and often av, cheerful. But she
cawn't buy me. [Approaching Barbara] You wanted my soul, did you?
Well, you ain't got it.

BARBARA. I nearly got it, Bill. But we've sold it back to you for
ten thousand pounds.

SHIRLEY. And dear at the money!

BARBARA. No, Peter: it was worth more than money.

BILL [salvationproof] It's no good: you cawn't get rahnd me nah.
I don't blieve in it; and I've seen today that I was right.
[Going] So long, old soupkitchener! Ta, ta, Major Earl's Grendorter!
[Turning at the gate] Wot prawce Selvytion nah? Snobby Prawce!
Ha! ha!

BARBARA [offering her hand] Goodbye, Bill.

BILL [taken aback, half plucks his cap off then shoves it on
again defiantly] Git aht. [Barbara drops her hand, discouraged.
He has a twinge of remorse]. But thet's aw rawt, you knaow.
Nathink pasnl. Naow mellice. So long, Judy. [He goes].

BARBARA. No malice. So long, Bill.

SHIRLEY [shaking his head] You make too much of him, miss, in
your innocence.

BARBARA [going to him] Peter: I'm like you now. Cleaned out, and
lost my job.

SHIRLEY. You've youth an hope. That's two better than me. That's
hope for you.

BARBARA. I'll get you a job, Peter, the youth will have to be
enough for me. [She counts her money]. I have just enough left
for two teas at Lockharts, a Rowton doss for you, and my tram and
bus home. [He frowns and rises with offended pride. She takes his
arm]. Don't be proud, Peter: it's sharing between friends. And
promise me you'll talk to me and not let me cry. [She draws him
towards the gate].

SHIRLEY. Well, I'm not accustomed to talk to the like of you--

BARBARA [urgently] Yes, yes: you must talk to me. Tell me about
Tom Paine's books and Bradlaugh's lectures. Come along.

SHIRLEY. Ah, if you would only read Tom Paine in the proper
spirit, miss! [They go out through the gate together].


Next day after lunch Lady Britomart is writing in the library in
Wilton Crescent. Sarah is reading in the armchair near the
window. Barbara, in ordinary dress, pale and brooding, is on the
settee. Charley Lomax enters. Coming forward between the settee
and the writing table, he starts on seeing Barbara fashionably
attired and in low spirits.

LOMAX. You've left off your uniform!

Barbara says nothing; but an expression of pain passes over
her face.

LADY BRITOMART [warning him in low tones to be careful] Charles!

LOMAX [much concerned, sitting down sympathetically on the settee
beside Barbara] I'm awfully sorry, Barbara. You know I helped you
all I could with the concertina and so forth. [Momentously]
Still, I have never shut my eyes to the fact that there is a
certain amount of tosh about the Salvation Army. Now the claims
of the Church of England--

LADY BRITOMART. That's enough, Charles. Speak of something suited
to your mental capacity.

LOMAX. But surely the Church of England is suited to all our

BARBARA [pressing his hand] Thank you for your sympathy, Cholly.
Now go and spoon with Sarah.

LOMAX [rising and going to Sarah] How is my ownest today?

SARAH. I wish you wouldn't tell Cholly to do things, Barbara. He
always comes straight and does them. Cholly: we're going to the
works at Perivale St. Andrews this afternoon.

LOMAX. What works?

SARAH. The cannon works.

LOMAX. What! Your governor's shop!


LOMAX. Oh I say!

Cusins enters in poor condition. He also starts visibly when he
sees Barbara without her uniform.

BARBARA. I expected you this morning, Dolly. Didn't you guess

CUSINS [sitting down beside her] I'm sorry. I have only just

SARAH. But we've just finished lunch.

BARBARA. Have you had one of your bad nights?

CUSINS. No: I had rather a good night: in fact, one of the most
remarkable nights I have ever passed.

BARBARA. The meeting?

CUSINS. No: after the meeting.

LADY BRITOMART. You should have gone to bed after the meeting.
What were you doing?

CUSINS. Drinking.

SARAH.          {Dolly!
BARBARA.        {Dolly!
LOMAX.          {Oh I say!

LADY BRITOMART. What were you drinking, may I ask?

CUSINS. A most devilish kind of Spanish burgundy, warranted free
from added alcohol: a Temperance burgundy in fact. Its richness
in natural alcohol made any addition superfluous.

BARBARA. Are you joking, Dolly?

CUSINS [patiently] No. I have been making a night of it with the
nominal head of this household: that is all.

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew made you drunk!

CUSINS. No: he only provided the wine. I think it was Dionysos
who made me drunk. [To Barbara] I told you I was possessed.

LADY BRITOMART. You're not sober yet. Go home to bed at once.

CUSINS. I have never before ventured to reproach you, Lady Brit;
but how could you marry the Prince of Darkness?

LADY BRITOMART. It was much more excusable to marry him than to
get drunk with him. That is a new accomplishment of Andrew's, by
the way. He usen't to drink.

CUSINS. He doesn't now. He only sat there and completed the wreck
of my moral basis, the rout of my convictions, the purchase of my
soul. He cares for you, Barbara. That is what makes him so
dangerous to me.

BARBARA. That has nothing to do with it, Dolly. There are larger
loves and diviner dreams than the fireside ones. You know that,
don't you?

CUSINS. Yes: that is our understanding. I know it. I hold to it.
Unless he can win me on that holier ground he may amuse me for a
while; but he can get no deeper hold, strong as he is.

BARBARA. Keep to that; and the end will be right. Now tell me
what happened at the meeting?

CUSINS. It was an amazing meeting. Mrs Baines almost died of
emotion. Jenny Hill went stark mad with hysteria. The Prince of
Darkness played his trombone like a madman: its brazen roarings
were like the laughter of the damned. 117 conversions took place
then and there. They prayed with the most touching sincerity and
gratitude for Bodger, and for the anonymous donor of the 5000
pounds. Your father would not let his name be given.

LOMAX. That was rather fine of the old man, you know. Most chaps
would have wanted the advertisement.

CUSINS. He said all the charitable institutions would be down on
him like kites on a battle field if he gave his name.

LADY BRITOMART. That's Andrew all over. He never does a proper
thing without giving an improper reason for it.

CUSINS. He convinced me that I have all my life been doing
improper things for proper reasons.

LADY BRITOMART. Adolphus: now that Barbara has left the Salvation
Army, you had better leave it too. I will not have you playing
that drum in the streets.

CUSINS. Your orders are already obeyed, Lady Brit.

BARBARA. Dolly: were you ever really in earnest about it? Would
you have joined if you had never seen me?

CUSINS [disingenuously] Well--er--well, possibly, as a collector
of religions--

LOMAX [cunningly] Not as a drummer, though, you know. You are a
very clearheaded brainy chap, Cholly; and it must have been
apparent to you that there is a certain amount of tosh about--

LADY BRITOMART. Charles: if you must drivel, drivel like a
grown-up man and not like a schoolboy.

LOMAX [out of countenance] Well, drivel is drivel, don't you
know, whatever a man's age.

LADY BRITOMART. In good society in England, Charles, men drivel
at all ages by repeating silly formulas with an air of wisdom.
Schoolboys make their own formulas out of slang, like you. When
they reach your age, and get political private secretaryships and
things of that sort, they drop slang and get their formulas out
of The Spectator or The Times. You had better confine yourself to
The Times. You will find that there is a certain amount of tosh
about The Times; but at least its language is reputable.

LOMAX [overwhelmed] You are so awfully strong-minded, Lady Brit--

LADY BRITOMART. Rubbish! [Morrison comes in]. What is it?

MORRISON. If you please, my lady, Mr Undershaft has just drove up
to the door.

LADY BRITOMART. Well, let him in. [Morrison hesitates]. What's
the matter with you?

MORRISON. Shall I announce him, my lady; or is he at home here,
so to speak, my lady?

LADY BRITOMART. Announce him.

MORRISON. Thank you, my lady. You won't mind my asking, I hope.
The occasion is in a manner of speaking new to me.

LADY BRITOMART. Quite right. Go and let him in.

MORRISON. Thank you, my lady. [He withdraws].

LADY BRITOMART. Children: go and get ready. [Sarah and Barbara go
upstairs for their out-of-door wrap]. Charles: go and tell
Stephen to come down here in five minutes: you will find him in
the drawing room. [Charles goes]. Adolphus: tell them to send
round the carriage in about fifteen minutes. [Adolphus goes].

MORRISON [at the door] Mr Undershaft.

Undershaft comes in. Morrison goes out.

UNDERSHAFT. Alone! How fortunate!

LADY BRITOMART [rising] Don't be sentimental, Andrew. Sit down.
[She sits on the settee: he sits beside her, on her left. She
comes to the point before he has time to breathe]. Sarah must
have 800 pounds a year until Charles Lomax comes into his
property. Barbara will need more, and need it permanently,
because Adolphus hasn't any property.

UNDERSHAFT [resignedly] Yes, my dear: I will see to it. Anything
else? for yourself, for instance?

LADY BRITOMART. I want to talk to you about Stephen.

UNDERSHAFT [rather wearily] Don't, my dear. Stephen doesn't
interest me.

LADY BRITOMART. He does interest me. He is our son.

UNDERSHAFT. Do you really think so? He has induced us to bring
him into the world; but he chose his parents very incongruously,
I think. I see nothing of myself in him, and less of you.

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew: Stephen is an excellent son, and a most
steady, capable, highminded young man. YOU are simply trying to
find an excuse for disinheriting him.

UNDERSHAFT. My dear Biddy: the Undershaft tradition disinherits
him. It would be dishonest of me to leave the cannon foundry to
my son.

LADY BRITOMART. It would be most unnatural and improper of you to
leave it to anyone else, Andrew. Do you suppose this wicked and
immoral tradition can be kept up for ever? Do you pretend that
Stephen could not carry on the foundry just as well as all the
other sons of the big business houses?

UNDERSHAFT. Yes: he could learn the office routine without
understanding the business, like all the other sons; and the firm
would go on by its own momentum until the real Undershaft--probably
an Italian or a German--would invent a new method and cut him out.

LADY BRITOMART. There is nothing that any Italian or German could
do that Stephen could not do. And Stephen at least has breeding.

UNDERSHAFT. The son of a foundling! nonsense!

LADY BRITOMART. My son, Andrew! And even you may have good blood
in your veins for all you know.

UNDERSHAFT. True. Probably I have. That is another argument in
favor of a foundling.

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew: don't be aggravating. And don't be
wicked. At present you are both.

UNDERSHAFT. This conversation is part of the Undershaft
tradition, Biddy. Every Undershaft's wife has treated him to it
ever since the house was founded. It is mere waste of breath. If
the tradition be ever broken it will be for an abler man than

LADY BRITOMART [pouting] Then go away.

UNDERSHAFT [deprecatory] Go away!

LADY BRITOMART. Yes: go away. If you will do nothing for Stephen,
you are not wanted here. Go to your foundling, whoever he is; and
look after him.

UNDERSHAFT. The fact is, Biddy--

LADY BRITOMART. Don't call me Biddy. I don't call you Andy.

UNDERSHAFT. I will not call my wife Britomart: it is not good
sense. Seriously, my love, the Undershaft tradition has landed me
in a difficulty. I am getting on in years; and my partner Lazarus
has at last made a stand and insisted that the succession must be
settled one way or the other; and of course he is quite right.
You see, I haven't found a fit successor yet.

LADY BRITOMART [obstinately] There is Stephen.

UNDERSHAFT. That's just it: all the foundlings I can find are
exactly like Stephen.


UNDERSHAFT. I want a man with no relations and no schooling: that
is, a man who would be out of the running altogether if he were
not a strong man. And I can't find him. Every blessed foundling
nowadays is snapped up in his infancy by Barnardo homes, or
School Board officers, or Boards of Guardians; and if he shows
the least ability, he is fastened on by schoolmasters; trained to
win scholarships like a racehorse; crammed with secondhand ideas;
drilled and disciplined in docility and what they call good
taste; and lamed for life so that he is fit for nothing but
teaching. If you want to keep the foundry in the family, you had
better find an eligible foundling and marry him to Barbara.

LADY BRITOMART. Ah! Barbara! Your pet! You would sacrifice
Stephen to Barbara.

UNDERSHAFT. Cheerfully. And you, my dear, would boil Barbara to
make soup for Stephen.

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew: this is not a question of our likings and
dislikings: it is a question of duty. It is your duty to make
Stephen your successor.

UNDERSHAFT. Just as much as it is your duty to submit to your
husband. Come, Biddy! these tricks of the governing class are of
no use with me. I am one of the governing class myself; and it is
waste of time giving tracts to a missionary. I have the power in
this matter; and I am not to be humbugged into using it for your

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew: you can talk my head off; but you can't
change wrong into right. And your tie is all on one side. Put it

UNDERSHAFT [disconcerted] It won't stay unless it's pinned [he
fumbles at it with childish grimaces]--

Stephen comes in.

STEPHEN [at the door] I beg your pardon [about to retire].

LADY BRITOMART. No: come in, Stephen. [Stephen comes forward to
his mother's writing table.]

UNDERSHAFT [not very cordially] Good afternoon.

STEPHEN [coldly] Good afternoon.

UNDERSHAFT [to Lady Britomart] He knows all about the tradition,
I suppose?

LADY BRITOMART. Yes. [To Stephen] It is what I told you last
night, Stephen.

UNDERSHAFT [sulkily] I understand you want to come into the
cannon business.

STEPHEN. _I_ go into trade! Certainly not.

UNDERSHAFT [opening his eyes, greatly eased in mind and manner]
Oh! in that case--!

LADY BRITOMART. Cannons are not trade, Stephen. They are

STEPHEN. I have no intention of becoming a man of business in any
sense. I have no capacity for business and no taste for it. I
intend to devote myself to politics.

UNDERSHAFT [rising] My dear boy: this is an immense relief to me.
And I trust it may prove an equally good thing for the country. I
was afraid you would consider yourself disparaged and slighted.
[He moves towards Stephen as if to shake hands with him].

LADY BRITOMART [rising and interposing] Stephen: I cannot allow
you to throw away an enormous property like this.

STEPHEN [stiffly] Mother: there must be an end of treating me as
a child, if you please. [Lady Britomart recoils, deeply wounded
by his tone]. Until last night I did not take your attitude
seriously, because I did not think you meant it seriously. But I
find now that you left me in the dark as to matters which you
should have explained to me years ago. I am extremely hurt and
offended. Any further discussion of my intentions had better take
place with my father, as between one man and another.

LADY BRITOMART. Stephen! [She sits down again; and her eyes fill
with tears].

UNDERSHAFT [with grave compassion] You see, my dear, it is only
the big men who can be treated as children.

STEPHEN. I am sorry, mother, that you have forced me--

UNDERSHAFT [stopping him] Yes, yes, yes, yes: that's all right,
Stephen. She won't interfere with you any more: your independence
is achieved: you have won your latchkey. Don't rub it in; and
above all, don't apologize. [He resumes his seat]. Now what about
your future, as between one man and another--I beg your pardon,
Biddy: as between two men and a woman.

LADY BRITOMART [who has pulled herself together strongly] I quite
understand, Stephen. By all means go your own way if you feel
strong enough. [Stephen sits down magisterially in the chair at
the writing table with an air of affirming his majority].

UNDERSHAFT. It is settled that you do not ask for the succession
to the cannon business.

STEPHEN. I hope it is settled that I repudiate the cannon

UNDERSHAFT. Come, come! Don't be so devilishly sulky: it's
boyish. Freedom should be generous. Besides, I owe you a fair
start in life in exchange for disinheriting you. You can't become
prime minister all at once. Haven't you a turn for something?
What about literature, art and so forth?

STEPHEN. I have nothing of the artist about me, either in faculty
or character, thank Heaven!

UNDERSHAFT. A philosopher, perhaps? Eh?

STEPHEN. I make no such ridiculous pretension.

UNDERSHAFT. Just so. Well, there is the army, the navy, the Church,
the Bar. The Bar requires some ability. What about the Bar?

STEPHEN. I have not studied law. And I am afraid I have not the
necessary push--I believe that is the name barristers give to
their vulgarity--for success in pleading.

UNDERSHAFT. Rather a difficult case, Stephen. Hardly anything
left but the stage, is there? [Stephen makes an impatient
movement]. Well, come! is there anything you know or care for?

STEPHEN [rising and looking at him steadily] I know the
difference between right and wrong.

UNDERSHAFT [hugely tickled] You don't say so! What! no capacity
for business, no knowledge of law, no sympathy with art, no
pretension to philosophy; only a simple knowledge of the secret
that has puzzled all the philosophers, baffled all the lawyers,
muddled all the men of business, and ruined most of the artists:
the secret of right and wrong. Why, man, you're a genius, master
of masters, a god! At twenty-four, too!

STEPHEN [keeping his temper with difficulty] You are pleased to
be facetious. I pretend to nothing more than any honorable
English gentleman claims as his birthright [he sits down

UNDERSHAFT. Oh, that's everybody's birthright. Look at poor
little Jenny Hill, the Salvation lassie! she would think you were
laughing at her if you asked her to stand up in the street and
teach grammar or geography or mathematics or even drawingroom
dancing; but it never occurs to her to doubt that she can teach
morals and religion. You are all alike, you respectable people.
You can't tell me the bursting strain of a ten-inch gun, which is
a very simple matter; but you all think you can tell me the
bursting strain of a man under temptation. You daren't handle
high explosives; but you're all ready to handle honesty and
truth and justice and the whole duty of man, and kill one another
at that game. What a country! what a world!

LADY BRITOMART [uneasily] What do you think he had better do,

UNDERSHAFT. Oh, just what he wants to do. He knows nothing; and
he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political
career. Get him a private secretaryship to someone who can get
him an Under Secretaryship; and then leave him alone. He will
find his natural and proper place in the end on the Treasury

STEPHEN [springing up again] I am sorry, sir, that you force
me to forget the respect due to you as my father. I am an
Englishman; and I will not hear the Government of my country
insulted. [He thrusts his hands in his pockets, and walks angrily
across to the window].

UNDERSHAFT [with a touch of brutality] The government of your
country! _I_ am the government of your country: I, and Lazarus.
Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you,
sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern
Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do what pays US.
You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it
doesn't. You will find out that trade requires certain measures
when we have decided on those measures. When I want anything to
keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a
national need. When other people want something to keep my
dividends down, you will call out the police and military. And in
return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers,
and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman.
Government of your country! Be off with you, my boy, and play
with your caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and
great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys.
_I_ am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call
the tune.

STEPHEN [actually smiling, and putting his hand on his father's
shoulder with indulgent patronage] Really, my dear father, it is
impossible to be angry with you. You don't know how absurd all
this sounds to ME. You are very properly proud of having been
industrious enough to make money; and it is greatly to your
credit that you have made so much of it. But it has kept you in
circles where you are valued for your money and deferred to for
it, instead of in the doubtless very oldfashioned and
behind-the-times public school and university where I formed my
habits of mind. It is natural for you to think that money governs
England; but you must allow me to think I know better.

UNDERSHAFT. And what does govern England, pray?

STEPHEN. Character, father, character.

UNDERSHAFT. Whose character? Yours or mine?

STEPHEN. Neither yours nor mine, father, but the best elements in
the English national character.

UNDERSHAFT. Stephen: I've found your profession for you. You're a
born journalist. I'll start you with a hightoned weekly review.

Stephen goes to the smaller writing table and busies himself with
his letters.

Sarah, Barbara, Lomax, and Cusins come in ready for walking.
Barbara crosses the room to the window and looks out. Cusins
drifts amiably to the armchair, and Lomax remains near the door,
whilst Sarah comes to her mother.

SARAH. Go and get ready, mamma: the carriage is waiting. [Lady
Britomart leaves the room.]

UNDERSHAFT [to Sarah] Good day, my dear. Good afternoon, Mr.

LOMAX [vaguely] Ahdedoo.

UNDERSHAFT [to Cusins] quite well after last night, Euripides,

CUSINS. As well as can be expected.

UNDERSHAFT. That's right. [To Barbara] So you are coming to see
my death and devastation factory, Barbara?

BARBARA [at the window] You came yesterday to see my salvation
factory. I promised you a return visit.

LOMAX [coming forward between Sarah and Undershaft] You'll find
it awfully interesting. I've been through the Woolwich Arsenal;
and it gives you a ripping feeling of security, you know, to
think of the lot of beggars we could kill if it came to fighting.
[To Undershaft, with sudden solemnity] Still, it must be rather
an awful reflection for you, from the religious point of view as
it were. You're getting on, you know, and all that.

SARAH. You don't mind Cholly's imbecility, papa, do you?

LOMAX [much taken aback] Oh I say!

UNDERSHAFT. Mr Lomax looks at the matter in a very proper spirit,
my dear.

LOMAX. Just so. That's all I meant, I assure you.

SARAH. Are you coming, Stephen?

STEPHEN. Well, I am rather busy--er-- [Magnanimously] Oh well,
yes: I'll come. That is, if there is room for me.

UNDERSHAFT. I can take two with me in a little motor I am
experimenting with for field use. You won't mind its being rather
unfashionable. It's not painted yet; but it's bullet proof.

LOMAX [appalled at the prospect of confronting Wilton Crescent in
an unpainted motor] Oh I say!

SARAH. The carriage for me, thank you. Barbara doesn't mind what
she's seen in.

LOMAX. I say, Dolly old chap: do you really mind the car being a
guy? Because of course if you do I'll go in it. Still--

CUSINS. I prefer it.

LOMAX. Thanks awfully, old man. Come, Sarah. [He hurries out to
secure his seat in the carriage. Sarah follows him].

CUSINS. [moodily walking across to Lady Britomart's writing table]
Why are we two coming to this Works Department of Hell? that is
what I ask myself.

BARBARA. I have always thought of it as a sort of pit where lost
creatures with blackened faces stirred up smoky fires and were
driven and tormented by my father? Is it like that, dad?

UNDERSHAFT [scandalized] My dear! It is a spotlessly clean and
beautiful hillside town.

CUSINS. With a Methodist chapel? Oh do say there's a Methodist

UNDERSHAFT. There are two: a primitive one and a sophisticated
one. There is even an Ethical Society; but it is not much
patronized, as my men are all strongly religious. In the High
Explosives Sheds they object to the presence of Agnostics as

CUSINS. And yet they don't object to you!

BARBARA. Do they obey all your orders?

UNDERSHAFT. I never give them any orders. When I speak to one of
them it is "Well, Jones, is the baby doing well? and has Mrs
Jones made a good recovery?" "Nicely, thank you, sir." And that's

CUSINS. But Jones has to be kept in order. How do you maintain
discipline among your men?

UNDERSHAFT. I don't. They do. You see, the one thing Jones won't
stand is any rebellion from the man under him, or any assertion
of social equality between the wife of the man with 4 shillings a
week less than himself and Mrs Jones! Of course they all rebel
against me, theoretically. Practically, every man of them keeps
the man just below him in his place. I never meddle with them. I
never bully them. I don't even bully Lazarus. I say that certain
things are to be done; but I don't order anybody to do them. I
don't say, mind you, that there is no ordering about and snubbing
and even bullying. The men snub the boys and order them about;
the carmen snub the sweepers; the artisans snub the unskilled
laborers; the foremen drive and bully both the laborers and
artisans; the assistant engineers find fault with the foremen;
the chief engineers drop on the assistants; the departmental
managers worry the chiefs; and the clerks have tall hats and
hymnbooks and keep up the social tone by refusing to associate on
equal terms with anybody. The result is a colossal profit, which
comes to me.

CUSINS [revolted] You really are a--well, what I was saying

BARBARA. What was he saying yesterday?

UNDERSHAFT. Never mind, my dear. He thinks I have made you
unhappy. Have I?

BARBARA. Do you think I can be happy in this vulgar silly dress?
I! who have worn the uniform. Do you understand what you have
done to me? Yesterday I had a man's soul in my hand. I set him in
the way of life with his face to salvation. But when we took your
money he turned back to drunkenness and derision. [With intense
conviction] I will never forgive you that. If I had a child, and
you destroyed its body with your explosives--if you murdered
Dolly with your horrible guns--I could forgive you if my
forgiveness would open the gates of heaven to you. But to take a
human soul from me, and turn it into the soul of a wolf! that is
worse than any murder.

UNDERSHAFT. Does my daughter despair so easily? Can you strike a
man to the heart and leave no mark on him?

BARBARA [her face lighting up] Oh, you are right: he can never be
lost now: where was my faith?

CUSINS. Oh, clever clever devil!

BARBARA. You may be a devil; but God speaks through you
sometimes. [She takes her father's hands and kisses them]. You
have given me back my happiness: I feel it deep down now, though
my spirit is troubled.

UNDERSHAFT. You have learnt something. That always feels at first
as if you had lost something.

BARBARA. Well, take me to the factory of death, and let me learn
something more. There must be some truth or other behind all this
frightful irony. Come, Dolly. [She goes out].

CUSINS. My guardian angel! [To Undershaft] Avaunt! [He follows

STEPHEN [quietly, at the writing table] You must not mind Cusins,
father. He is a very amiable good fellow; but he is a Greek
scholar and naturally a little eccentric.

UNDERSHAFT. Ah, quite so. Thank you, Stephen. Thank you. [He goes

Stephen smiles patronizingly; buttons his coat responsibly; and
crosses the room to the door. Lady Britomart, dressed for
out-of-doors, opens it before he reaches it. She looks round far
the others; looks at Stephen; and turns to go without a word.

STEPHEN [embarrassed] Mother--

LADY BRITOMART. Don't be apologetic, Stephen. And don't forget
that you have outgrown your mother. [She goes out].

Perivale St Andrews lies between two Middlesex hills, half
climbing the northern one. It is an almost smokeless town of
white walls, roofs of narrow green slates or red tiles, tall
trees, domes, campaniles, and slender chimney shafts, beautifully
situated and beautiful in itself. The best view of it is obtained
from the crest of a slope about half a mile to the east, where
the high explosives are dealt with. The foundry lies hidden in
the depths between, the tops of its chimneys sprouting like huge
skittles into the middle distance. Across the crest runs a
platform of concrete, with a parapet which suggests a
fortification, because there is a huge cannon of the obsolete
Woolwich Infant pattern peering across it at the town. The cannon
is mounted on an experimental gun carriage: possibly the original
model of the Undershaft disappearing rampart gun alluded to by
Stephen. The parapet has a high step inside which serves as a

Barbara is leaning over the parapet, looking towards the town. On
her right is the cannon; on her left the end of a shed raised on
piles, with a ladder of three or four steps up to the door, which
opens outwards and has a little wooden landing at the threshold,
with a fire bucket in the corner of the landing. The parapet
stops short of the shed, leaving a gap which is the beginning of
the path down the hill through the foundry to the town. Behind
the cannon is a trolley carrying a huge conical bombshell, with a
red band painted on it. Further from the parapet, on the same
side, is a deck chair, near the door of an office, which, like
the sheds, is of the lightest possible construction.

Cusins arrives by the path from the town.


CUSINS. Not a ray of hope. Everything perfect, wonderful, real.
It only needs a cathedral to be a heavenly city instead of a
hellish one.

BARBARA. Have you found out whether they have done anything for
old Peter Shirley.

CUSINS. They have found him a job as gatekeeper and timekeeper.
He's frightfully miserable. He calls the timekeeping brainwork,
and says he isn't used to it; and his gate lodge is so splendid
that he's ashamed to use the rooms, and skulks in the scullery.

BARBARA. Poor Peter!

Stephen arrives from the town. He carries a fieldglass.

STEPHEN [enthusiastically] Have you two seen the place? Why did
you leave us?

CUSINS. I wanted to see everything I was not intended to see; and
Barbara wanted to make the men talk.

STEPHEN. Have you found anything discreditable?

CUSINS. No. They call him Dandy Andy and are proud of his being a
cunning old rascal; but it's all horribly, frightfully,
immorally, unanswerably perfect.

Sarah arrives.

SARAH. Heavens! what a place! [She crosses to the trolley]. Did
you see the nursing home!? [She sits down on the shell].

STEPHEN. Did you see the libraries and schools!?

SARAH. Did you see the ballroom and the banqueting chamber in the
Town Hall!?

STEPHEN. Have you gone into the insurance fund, the pension fund,
the building society, the various applications of co-operation!?

Undershaft comes from the office, with a sheaf of telegrams in
his hands.

UNDERSHAFT. Well, have you seen everything? I'm sorry I was
called away. [Indicating the telegrams] News from Manchuria.

STEPHEN. Good news, I hope.


STEPHEN. Another Japanese victory?

UNDERSHAFT. Oh, I don't know. Which side wins does not concern us
here. No: the good news is that the aerial battleship is a
tremendous success. At the first trial it has wiped out a fort
with three hundred soldiers in it.

CUSINS [from the platform] Dummy soldiers?

UNDERSHAFT. No: the real thing. [Cusins and Barbara exchange
glances. Then Cusins sits on the step and buries his face in his
hands. Barbara gravely lays her hand on his shoulder, and he
looks up at her in a sort of whimsical desperation]. Well,
Stephen, what do you think of the place?

STEPHEN. Oh, magnificent. A perfect triumph of organization.
Frankly, my dear father, I have been a fool: I had no idea of
what it all meant--of the wonderful forethought, the power of
organization, the administrative capacity, the financial genius,
the colossal capital it represents. I have been repeating to
myself as I came through your streets "Peace hath her victories
no less renowned than War." I have only one misgiving about it

UNDERSHAFT. Out with it.

STEPHEN. Well, I cannot help thinking that all this provision for
every want of your workmen may sap their independence and weaken
their sense of responsibility. And greatly as we enjoyed our tea
at that splendid restaurant--how they gave us all that luxury and
cake and jam and cream for threepence I really cannot imagine!--still
you must remember that restaurants break up home life. Look at the
continent, for instance! Are you sure so much pampering is really
good for the men's characters?

UNDERSHAFT. Well you see, my dear boy, when you are organizing
civilization you have to make up your mind whether trouble and
anxiety are good things or not. If you decide that they are,
then, I take it, you simply don't organize civilization; and
there you are, with trouble and anxiety enough to make us all
angels! But if you decide the other way, you may as well go
through with it. However, Stephen, our characters are safe here.
A sufficient dose of anxiety is always provided by the fact that
we may be blown to smithereens at any moment.

SARAH. By the way, papa, where do you make the explosives?

UNDERSHAFT. In separate little sheds, like that one. When one of
them blows up, it costs very little; and only the people quite
close to it are killed.

Stephen, who is quite close to it, looks at it rather scaredly,
and moves away quickly to the cannon. At the same moment the door
of the shed is thrown abruptly open; and a foreman in overalls
and list slippers comes out on the little landing and holds the
door open for Lomax, who appears in the doorway.

LOMAX [with studied coolness] My good fellow: you needn't get
into a state of nerves. Nothing's going to happen to you; and I
suppose it wouldn't be the end of the world if anything did. A
little bit of British pluck is what you want, old chap. [He
descends and strolls across to Sarah].

UNDERSHAFT [to the foreman] Anything wrong, Bilton?

BILTON [with ironic calm] Gentleman walked into the high
explosives shed and lit a cigaret, sir: that's all.

UNDERSHAFT. Ah, quite so. [To Lomax] Do you happen to remember
what you did with the match?

LOMAX. Oh come! I'm not a fool. I took jolly good care to blow it
out before I chucked it away.

BILTON. The top of it was red hot inside, sir.

LOMAX. Well, suppose it was! I didn't chuck it into any of your

UNDERSHAFT. Think no more of it, Mr Lomax. By the way, would you
mind lending me your matches?

LOMAX [offering his box] Certainly.

UNDERSHAFT. Thanks. [He pockets the matches].

LOMAX [lecturing to the company generally] You know, these high
explosives don't go off like gunpowder, except when they're in a
gun. When they're spread loose, you can put a match to them
without the least risk: they just burn quietly like a bit of
paper. [Warming to the scientific interest of the subject] Did
you know that Undershaft? Have you ever tried?

UNDERSHAFT. Not on a large scale, Mr Lomax. Bilton will give you
a sample of gun cotton when you are leaving if you ask him. You
can experiment with it at home. [Bilton looks puzzled].

SARAH. Bilton will do nothing of the sort, papa. I suppose it's
your business to blow up the Russians and Japs; but you might
really stop short of blowing up poor Cholly. [Bilton gives it up
and retires into the shed].

LOMAX. My ownest, there is no danger. [He sits beside her on the

Lady Britomart arrives from the town with a bouquet.

LADY BRITOMART [coming impetuously between Undershaft and the
deck chair] Andrew: you shouldn't have let me see this place.

UNDERSHAFT. Why, my dear?

LADY BRITOMART. Never mind why: you shouldn't have: that's all.
To think of all that [indicating the town] being yours! and that
you have kept it to yourself all these years!

UNDERSHAFT. It does not belong to me. I belong to it. It is the
Undershaft inheritance.

LADY BRITOMART. It is not. Your ridiculous cannons and that noisy
banging foundry may be the Undershaft inheritance; but all that
plate and linen, all that furniture and those houses and orchards
and gardens belong to us. They belong to me: they are not a man's
business. I won't give them up. You must be out of your senses to
throw them all away; and if you persist in such folly, I will
call in a doctor.

UNDERSHAFT [stooping to smell the bouquet] Where did you get the
flowers, my dear?

LADY BRITOMART. Your men presented them to me in your William
Morris Labor Church.

CUSINS [springing up] Oh! It needed only that. A Labor Church!

LADY BRITOMART. Yes, with Morris's words in mosaic letters ten
feet high round the dome. NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO BE ANOTHER
MAN'S MASTER. The cynicism of it!

UNDERSHAFT. It shocked the men at first, I am afraid. But now
they take no more notice of it than of the ten commandments in

LADY BRITOMART. Andrew: you are trying to put me off the subject
of the inheritance by profane jokes. Well, you shan't. I don't
ask it any longer for Stephen: he has inherited far too much of
your perversity to be fit for it. But Barbara has rights as well
as Stephen. Why should not Adolphus succeed to the inheritance? I
could manage the town for him; and he can look after the cannons,
if they are really necessary.

UNDERSHAFT. I should ask nothing better if Adolphus were a
foundling. He is exactly the sort of new blood that is wanted in
English business. But he's not a foundling; and there's an end of

CUSINS [diplomatically] Not quite. [They all turn and stare at
him. He comes from the platform past the shed to Undershaft]. I
think--Mind! I am not committing myself in any way as to my
future course--but I think the foundling difficulty can be got

UNDERSHAFT. What do you mean?

CUSINS. Well, I have something to say which is in the nature of a

SARAH.             {
LADY BRITOMART.    { Confession!
BARBARA.           {
STEPHEN.           {

LOMAX. Oh I say!

CUSINS. Yes, a confession. Listen, all. Until I met Barbara I
thought myself in the main an honorable, truthful man, because I
wanted the approval of my conscience more than I wanted anything
else. But the moment I saw Barbara, I wanted her far more than
the approval of my conscience.


CUSINS. It is true. You accused me yourself, Lady Brit, of
joining the Army to worship Barbara; and so I did. She bought my
soul like a flower at a street corner; but she bought it for

UNDERSHAFT. What! Not for Dionysos or another?

CUSINS. Dionysos and all the others are in herself. I adored what
was divine in her, and was therefore a true worshipper. But I was
romantic about her too. I thought she was a woman of the people,
and that a marriage with a professor of Greek would be far beyond
the wildest social ambitions of her rank.


LOMAX. Oh I say!!!

CUSINS. When I learnt the horrible truth--

LADY BRITOMART. What do you mean by the horrible truth, pray?

CUSINS. That she was enormously rich; that her grandfather was an
earl; that her father was the Prince of Darkness--


CUSINS.--and that I was only an adventurer trying to catch a rich
wife, then I stooped to deceive about my birth.

LADY BRITOMART. Your birth! Now Adolphus, don't dare to make up a
wicked story for the sake of these wretched cannons. Remember: I
have seen photographs of your parents; and the Agent General for
South Western Australia knows them personally and has assured me
that they are most respectable married people.

CUSINS. So they are in Australia; but here they are outcasts.
Their marriage is legal in Australia, but not in England. My
mother is my father's deceased wife's sister; and in this island
I am consequently a foundling. [Sensation]. Is the subterfuge
good enough, Machiavelli?

UNDERSHAFT [thoughtfully] Biddy: this may be a way out of the

LADY BRITOMART. Stuff! A man can't make cannons any the better
for being his own cousin instead of his proper self [she sits
down in the deck chair with a bounce that expresses her downright
contempt for their casuistry.]

UNDERSHAFT [to Cusins] You are an educated man. That is against
the tradition.

CUSINS. Once in ten thousand times it happens that the schoolboy
is a born master of what they try to teach him. Greek has not
destroyed my mind: it has nourished it. Besides, I did not learn
it at an English public school.

UNDERSHAFT. Hm! Well, I cannot afford to be too particular: you
have cornered the foundling market. Let it pass. You are
eligible, Euripides: you are eligible.

BARBARA [coming from the platform and interposing between Cusins
and Undershaft] Dolly: yesterday morning, when Stephen told us
all about the tradition, you became very silent; and you have
been strange and excited ever since. Were you thinking of your
birth then?

CUSINS. When the finger of Destiny suddenly points at a man in
the middle of his breakfast, it makes him thoughtful. [Barbara
turns away sadly and stands near her mother, listening perturbedly].

UNDERSHAFT. Aha! You have had your eye on the business, my young
friend, have you?

CUSINS. Take care! There is an abyss of moral horror between me
and your accursed aerial battleships.

UNDERSHAFT. Never mind the abyss for the present. Let us settle
the practical details and leave your final decision open. You
know that you will have to change your name. Do you object to

CUSINS. Would any man named Adolphus--any man called Dolly!--object
to be called something else?

UNDERSHAFT. Good. Now, as to money! I propose to treat you
handsomely from the beginning. You shall start at a thousand a

CUSINS. [with sudden heat, his spectacles twinkling with
mischief] A thousand! You dare offer a miserable thousand to
the son-in-law of a millionaire! No, by Heavens, Machiavelli! you
shall not cheat me. You cannot do without me; and I can do
without you. I must have two thousand five hundred a year for two
years. At the end of that time, if I am a failure, I go. But if I
am a success, and stay on, you must give me the other five

UNDERSHAFT. What other five thousand?

CUSINS. To make the two years up to five thousand a year. The two
thousand five hundred is only half pay in case I should turn out
a failure. The third year I must have ten per cent on the

UNDERSHAFT [taken aback] Ten per cent! Why, man, do you know what
my profits are?

CUSINS. Enormous, I hope: otherwise I shall require twenty-five
per cent.

UNDERSHAFT. But, Mr Cusins, this is a serious matter of business.
You are not bringing any capital into the concern.

CUSINS. What! no capital! Is my mastery of Greek no capital? Is
my access to the subtlest thought, the loftiest poetry yet
attained by humanity, no capital? my character! my intellect! my
life! my career! what Barbara calls my soul! are these no
capital? Say another word; and I double my salary.

UNDERSHAFT. Be reasonable--

CUSINS [peremptorily] Mr Undershaft: you have my terms. Take them
or leave them.

UNDERSHAFT [recovering himself] Very well. I note your terms; and
I offer you half.

CUSINS [disgusted] Half!

UNDERSHAFT [firmly] Half.

CUSINS. You call yourself a gentleman; and you offer me half!!

UNDERSHAFT. I do not call myself a gentleman; but I offer you

CUSINS. This to your future partner! your successor! your

BARBARA. You are selling your own soul, Dolly, not mine. Leave me
out of the bargain, please.

UNDERSHAFT. Come! I will go a step further for Barbara's sake. I
will give you three fifths; but that is my last word.


LOMAX. Done in the eye. Why, _I_ only get eight hundred, you

CUSINS. By the way, Mac, I am a classical scholar, not an
arithmetical one. Is three fifths more than half or less?

UNDERSHAFT. More, of course.

CUSINS. I would have taken two hundred and fifty. How you can
succeed in business when you are willing to pay all that money to
a University don who is obviously not worth a junior clerk's
wages!--well! What will Lazarus say?

UNDERSHAFT. Lazarus is a gentle romantic Jew who cares for
nothing but string quartets and stalls at fashionable theatres.
He will get the credit of your rapacity in money matters, as he
has hitherto had the credit of mine. You are a shark of the first
order, Euripides. So much the better for the firm!

BARBARA. Is the bargain closed, Dolly? Does your soul belong to
him now?

CUSINS. No: the price is settled: that is all. The real tug of
war is still to come. What about the moral question?

LADY BRITOMART. There is no moral question in the matter at all,
Adolphus. You must simply sell cannons and weapons to people
whose cause is right and just, and refuse them to foreigners and

UNDERSHAFT [determinedly] No: none of that. You must keep the
true faith of an Armorer, or you don't come in here.

CUSINS. What on earth is the true faith of an Armorer?

UNDERSHAFT. To give arms to all men who offer an honest price for
them, without respect of persons or principles: to aristocrat and
republican, to Nihilist and Tsar, to Capitalist and Socialist, to
Protestant and Catholic, to burglar and policeman, to black man
white man and yellow man, to all sorts and conditions, all
nationalities, all faiths, all follies, all causes and all
crimes. The first Undershaft wrote up in his shop IF GOD GAVE THE
no literary turn; so he did not write up anything; but he sold
cannons to Napoleon under the nose of George the Third. The fifth
The sixth, my master, was the best of all. He wrote up NOTHING IS
ANOTHER IF IT IS NOT DONE. After that, there was nothing left for
the seventh to say. So he wrote up, simply, UNASHAMED.

CUSINS. My good Machiavelli, I shall certainly write something up
on the wall; only, as I shall write it in Greek, you won't be
able to read it. But as to your Armorer's faith, if I take my
neck out of the noose of my own morality I am not going to put it
into the noose of yours. I shall sell cannons to whom I please
and refuse them to whom I please. So there!

UNDERSHAFT. From the moment when you become Andrew Undershaft,
you will never do as you please again. Don't come here lusting
for power, young man.

CUSINS. If power were my aim I should not come here for it.
YOU have no power.

UNDERSHAFT. None of my own, certainly.

CUSINS. I have more power than you, more will. You do not drive
this place: it drives you. And what drives the place?

UNDERSHAFT [enigmatically] A will of which I am a part.

BARBARA [startled] Father! Do you know what you are saying; or
are you laying a snare for my soul?

CUSINS. Don't listen to his metaphysics, Barbara. The place is
driven by the most rascally part of society, the money hunters,
the pleasure hunters, the military promotion hunters; and he is
their slave.

UNDERSHAFT. Not necessarily. Remember the Armorer's Faith. I will
take an order from a good man as cheerfully as from a bad one. If
you good people prefer preaching and shirking to buying my
weapons and fighting the rascals, don't blame me. I can make
cannons: I cannot make courage and conviction. Bah! You tire me,
Euripides, with your morality mongering. Ask Barbara: SHE
understands. [He suddenly takes Barbara's hands, and looks
powerfully into her eyes]. Tell him, my love, what power really

BARBARA [hypnotized] Before I joined the Salvation Army, I was in
my own power; and the consequence was that I never knew what to
do with myself. When I joined it, I had not time enough for all
the things I had to do.

UNDERSHAFT [approvingly] Just so. And why was that, do you

BARBARA. Yesterday I should have said, because I was in the power
of God. [She resumes her self-possession, withdrawing her hands
from his with a power equal to his own]. But you came and showed
me that I was in the power of Bodger and Undershaft. Today I
feel--oh! how can I put it into words? Sarah: do you remember the
earthquake at Cannes, when we were little children?--how little
the surprise of the first shock mattered compared to the dread
and horror of waiting for the second? That is how I feel in this
place today. I stood on the rock I thought eternal; and without
a word of warning it reeled and crumbled under me. I was safe
with an infinite wisdom watching me, an army marching to
Salvation with me; and in a moment, at a stroke of your pen in a
cheque book, I stood alone; and the heavens were empty. That was
the first shock of the earthquake: I am waiting for the second.

UNDERSHAFT. Come, come, my daughter! Don't make too much of your
little tinpot tragedy. What do we do here when we spend years of
work and thought and thousands of pounds of solid cash on a new
gun or an aerial battleship that turns out just a hairsbreadth
wrong after all? Scrap it. Scrap it without wasting another hour
or another pound on it. Well, you have made for yourself
something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It
doesn't fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that
does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It
scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it won't scrap
its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions
and its old political constitutions. What's the result? In
machinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and
politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer bankruptcy
every year. Don't persist in that folly. If your old religion
broke down yesterday, get a newer and a better one for tomorrow.

BARBARA. Oh how gladly I would take a better one to my soul! But
you offer me a worse one. [Turning on him with sudden vehemence].
Justify yourself: show me some light through the darkness of this
dreadful place, with its beautifully clean workshops, and
respectable workmen, and model homes.

UNDERSHAFT. Cleanliness and respectability do not need
justification, Barbara: they justify themselves. I see no
darkness here, no dreadfulness. In your Salvation shelter I saw
poverty, misery, cold and hunger. You gave them bread and treacle
and dreams of heaven. I give from thirty shillings a week to
twelve thousand a year. They find their own dreams; but I look
after the drainage.

BARBARA. And their souls?

UNDERSHAFT. I save their souls just as I saved yours.

BARBARA [revolted] You saved my soul! What do you mean?

UNDERSHAFT. I fed you and clothed you and housed you. I took care
that you should have money enough to live handsomely--more than
enough; so that you could be wasteful, careless, generous. That
saved your soul from the seven deadly sins.

BARBARA [bewildered] The seven deadly sins!

UNDERSHAFT. Yes, the deadly seven. [Counting on his fingers]
Food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children.
Nothing can lift those seven millstones from Man's neck but
money; and the spirit cannot soar until the millstones are
lifted. I lifted them from your spirit. I enabled Barbara to
become Major Barbara; and I saved her from the crime of poverty.

CUSINS. Do you call poverty a crime?

UNDERSHAFT. The worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues
beside it: all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by
comparison. Poverty blights whole cities; spreads horrible
pestilences; strikes dead the very souls of all who come within
sight, sound or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a
murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then: what
do they matter? they are only the accidents and illnesses of
life: there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in
London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people,
dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed people. They poison us morally
and physically: they kill the happiness of society: they force us
to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural
cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down
into their abyss. Only fools fear crime: we all fear poverty.
Pah! [turning on Barbara] you talk of your half-saved ruffian in
West Ham: you accuse me of dragging his soul back to perdition.
Well, bring him to me here; and I will drag his soul back again
to salvation for you. Not by words and dreams; but by thirty-eight
shillings a week, a sound house in a handsome street, and a permanent
job. In three weeks he will have a fancy waistcoat; in three months
a tall hat and a chapel sitting; before the end of the year he
will shake hands with a duchess at a Primrose League meeting, and
join the Conservative Party.

BARBARA. And will he be the better for that?

UNDERSHAFT. You know he will. Don't be a hypocrite, Barbara. He
will be better fed, better housed, better clothed, better
behaved; and his children will be pounds heavier and bigger. That
will be better than an American cloth mattress in a shelter,
chopping firewood, eating bread and treacle, and being forced to
kneel down from time to time to thank heaven for it: knee drill,
I think you call it. It is cheap work converting starving men
with a Bible in one hand and a slice of bread in the other. I
will undertake to convert West Ham to Mahometanism on the same
terms. Try your hand on my men: their souls are hungry because
their bodies are full.

BARBARA. And leave the east end to starve?

UNDERSHAFT [his energetic tone dropping into one of bitter and
brooding remembrance] I was an east ender. I moralized and
starved until one day I swore that I would be a fullfed free man
at all costs--that nothing should stop me except a bullet,
neither reason nor morals nor the lives of other men. I said
"Thou shalt starve ere I starve"; and with that word I became
free and great. I was a dangerous man until I had my will: now I
am a useful, beneficent, kindly person. That is the history of
most self-made millionaires, I fancy. When it is the history of
every Englishman we shall have an England worth living in.

LADY BRITOMART. Stop making speeches, Andrew. This is not the
place for them.

UNDERSHAFT [punctured] My dear: I have no other means of
conveying my ideas.

LADY BRITOMART. Your ideas are nonsense. You got oil because you
were selfish and unscrupulous.

UNDERSHAFT. Not at all. I had the strongest scruples about
poverty and starvation. Your moralists are quite unscrupulous
about both: they make virtues of them. I had rather be a thief
than a pauper. I had rather be a murderer than a slave. I don't
want to be either; but if you force the alternative on me, then,
by Heaven, I'll choose the braver and more moral one. I hate
poverty and slavery worse than any other crimes whatsoever. And
let me tell you this. Poverty and slavery have stood up for
centuries to your sermons and leading articles: they will not
stand up to my machine guns. Don't preach at them: don't reason
with them. Kill them.

BARBARA. Killing. Is that your remedy for everything?

UNDERSHAFT. It is the final test of conviction, the only lever
strong enough to overturn a social system, the only way of saying
Must. Let six hundred and seventy fools loose in the street; and
three policemen can scatter them. But huddle them together in a
certain house in Westminster; and let them go through certain
ceremonies and call themselves certain names until at last they
get the courage to kill; and your six hundred and seventy fools
become a government. Your pious mob fills up ballot papers and
imagines it is governing its masters; but the ballot paper that
really governs is the paper that has a bullet wrapped up in it.

CUSINS. That is perhaps why, like most intelligent people, I
never vote.

UNDERSHAFT Vote! Bah! When you vote, you only change the names of
the cabinet. When you shoot, you pull down governments,
inaugurate new epochs, abolish old orders and set up new. Is that
historically true, Mr Learned Man, or is it not?

CUSINS. It is historically true. I loathe having to admit it. I
repudiate your sentiments. I abhor your nature. I defy you in
every possible way. Still, it is true. But it ought not to be

UNDERSHAFT. Ought, ought, ought, ought, ought! Are you going to
spend your life saying ought, like the rest of our moralists?
Turn your oughts into shalls, man. Come and make explosives with
me. Whatever can blow men up can blow society up. The history of
the world is the history of those who had courage enough to
embrace this truth. Have you the courage to embrace it, Barbara?

LADY BRITOMART. Barbara, I positively forbid you to listen to
your father's abominable wickedness. And you, Adolphus, ought to
know better than to go about saying that wrong things are true.
What does it matter whether they are true if they are wrong?

UNDERSHAFT. What does it matter whether they are wrong if they
are true?

LADY BRITOMART [rising] Children: come home instantly. Andrew: I
am exceedingly sorry I allowed you to call on us. You are
wickeder than ever. Come at once.

BARBARA [shaking her head] It's no use running away from wicked
people, mamma.

LADY BRITOMART. It is every use. It shows your disapprobation of

BARBARA. It does not save them.

LADY BRITOMART. I can see that you are going to disobey me.
Sarah: are you coming home or are you not?

SARAH. I daresay it's very wicked of papa to make cannons; but I
don't think I shall cut him on that account.

LOMAX [pouring oil on the troubled waters] The fact is, you know,
there is a certain amount of tosh about this notion of wickedness.
It doesn't work. You must look at facts. Not that I would say a
word in favor of anything wrong; but then, you see, all sorts of
chaps are always doing all sorts of things; and we have to fit
them in somehow, don't you know. What I mean is that you can't
go cutting everybody; and that's about what it comes to. [Their
rapt attention to his eloquence makes him nervous] Perhaps I
don't make myself clear.

LADY BRITOMART. You are lucidity itself, Charles. Because Andrew
is successful and has plenty of money to give to Sarah, you will
flatter him and encourage him in his wickedness.

LOMAX [unruffled] Well, where the carcase is, there will the
eagles be gathered, don't you know. [To Undershaft] Eh? What?

UNDERSHAFT. Precisely. By the way, may I call you Charles?

LOMAX. Delighted. Cholly is the usual ticket.

UNDERSHAFT [to Lady Britomart] Biddy--

LADY BRITOMART [violently] Don't dare call me Biddy. Charles
Lomax: you are a fool. Adolphus Cusins: you are a Jesuit.
Stephen: you are a prig. Barbara: you are a lunatic. Andrew: you
are a vulgar tradesman. Now you all know my opinion; and my
conscience is clear, at all events [she sits down again with a
vehemence that almost wrecks the chair].

UNDERSHAFT. My dear, you are the incarnation of morality. [She
snorts]. Your conscience is clear and your duty done when you
have called everybody names. Come, Euripides! it is getting late;
and we all want to get home. Make up your mind.

CUSINS. Understand this, you old demon--


UNDERSHAFT. Let him alone, Biddy. Proceed, Euripides.

CUSINS. You have me in a horrible dilemma. I want Barbara.

UNDERSHAFT. Like all young men, you greatly exaggerate the
difference between one young woman and another.

BARBARA. Quite true, Dolly.

CUSINS. I also want to avoid being a rascal.

UNDERSHAFT [with biting contempt] You lust for personal
righteousness, for self-approval, for what you call a good
conscience, for what Barbara calls salvation, for what I call
patronizing people who are not so lucky as yourself.

CUSINS. I do not: all the poet in me recoils from being a good
man. But there are things in me that I must reckon with: pity--

UNDERSHAFT. Pity! The scavenger of misery.

CUSINS. Well, love.

UNDERSHAFT. I know. You love the needy and the outcast: you love
the oppressed races, the negro, the Indian ryot, the Pole, the
Irishman. Do you love the Japanese? Do you love the Germans? Do
you love the English?

CUSINS. No. Every true Englishman detests the English. We are the
wickedest nation on earth; and our success is a moral horror.

UNDERSHAFT. That is what comes of your gospel of love, is it?

CUSINS. May I not love even my father-in-law?

UNDERSHAFT. Who wants your love, man? By what right do you take
the liberty of offering it to me? I will have your due heed and
respect, or I will kill you. But your love! Damn your impertinence!

CUSINS [grinning] I may not be able to control my affections, Mac.

UNDERSHAFT. You are fencing, Euripides. You are weakening: your
grip is slipping. Come! try your last weapon. Pity and love have
broken in your hand: forgiveness is still left.

CUSINS. No: forgiveness is a beggar's refuge. I am with you
there: we must pay our debts.

UNDERSHAFT. Well said. Come! you will suit me. Remember the words
of Plato.

CUSINS [starting] Plato! You dare quote Plato to me!

UNDERSHAFT. Plato says, my friend, that society cannot be saved
until either the Professors of Greek take to making gunpowder, or
else the makers of gunpowder become Professors of Greek.

CUSINS. Oh, tempter, cunning tempter!

UNDERSHAFT. Come! choose, man, choose.

CUSINS. But perhaps Barbara will not marry me if I make the wrong

BARBARA. Perhaps not.

CUSINS [desperately perplexed] You hear--

BARBARA. Father: do you love nobody?

UNDERSHAFT. I love my best friend.

LADY BRITOMART. And who is that, pray?

UNDERSHAFT. My bravest enemy. That is the man who keeps me up to
the mark.

CUSINS. You know, the creature is really a sort of poet in his
way. Suppose he is a great man, after all!

UNDERSHAFT. Suppose you stop talking and make up your mind, my
young friend.

CUSINS. But you are driving me against my nature. I hate war.

UNDERSHAFT. Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.
Dare you make war on war? Here are the means: my friend Mr Lomax
is sitting on them.

LOMAX [springing up] Oh I say! You don't mean that this thing is
loaded, do you? My ownest: come off it.

SARAH [sitting placidly on the shell] If I am to be blown up, the
more thoroughly it is done the better. Don't fuss, Cholly.

LOMAX [to Undershaft, strongly remonstrant] Your own daughter,
you know.

UNDERSHAFT. So I see. [To Cusins] Well, my friend, may we expect
you here at six tomorrow morning?

CUSINS [firmly] Not on any account. I will see the whole
establishment blown up with its own dynamite before I will get up
at five. My hours are healthy, rational hours eleven to five.

UNDERSHAFT. Come when you please: before a week you will come at
six and stay until I turn you out for the sake of your health.
[Calling] Bilton! [He turns to Lady Britomart, who rises]. My
dear: let us leave these two young people to themselves for a
moment. [Bilton comes from the shed]. I am going to take you
through the gun cotton shed.

BILTON [barring the way] You can't take anything explosive in
here, Sir.

LADY BRITOMART. What do you mean? Are you alluding to me?

BILTON [unmoved] No, ma'am. Mr Undershaft has the other
gentleman's matches in his pocket.

LADY BRITOMART [abruptly] Oh! I beg your pardon. [She goes into
the shed].

UNDERSHAFT. Quite right, Bilton, quite right: here you are. [He
gives Bilton the box of matches]. Come, Stephen. Come, Charles.
Bring Sarah. [He passes into the shed].

Bilton opens the box and deliberately drops the matches into the

LOMAX. Oh I say! [Bilton stolidly hands him the empty box].
Infernal nonsense! Pure scientific ignorance! [He goes in].

SARAH. Am I all right, Bilton?

BILTON. You'll have to put on list slippers, miss: that's all.
We've got em inside. [She goes in].

STEPHEN [very seriously to Cusins] Dolly, old fellow, think.
Think before you decide. Do you feel that you are a sufficiently
practical man? It is a huge undertaking, an enormous responsibility.
All this mass of business will be Greek to you.

CUSINS. Oh, I think it will be much less difficult than Greek.

STEPHEN. Well, I just want to say this before I leave you to
yourselves. Don't let anything I have said about right and wrong
prejudice you against this great chance in life. I have satisfied
myself that the business is one of the highest character and a
credit to our country. [Emotionally] I am very proud of my
father. I-- [Unable to proceed, he presses Cusins' hand and goes
hastily into the shed, followed by Bilton].

Barbara and Cusins, left alone together, look at one another

CUSINS. Barbara: I am going to accept this offer.

BARBARA. I thought you would.

CUSINS. You understand, don't you, that I had to decide without
consulting you. If I had thrown the burden of the choice on you,
you would sooner or later have despised me for it.

BARBARA. Yes: I did not want you to sell your soul for me any
more than for this inheritance.

CUSINS. It is not the sale of my soul that troubles me: I have
sold it too often to care about that. I have sold it for a
professorship. I have sold it for an income. I have sold it to
escape being imprisoned for refusing to pay taxes for hangmen's
ropes and unjust wars and things that I abhor. What is all human
conduct but the daily and hourly sale of our souls for trifles?
What I am now selling it for is neither money nor position nor
comfort, but for reality and for power.

BARBARA. You know that you will have no power, and that he has

CUSINS. I know. It is not for myself alone. I want to make power
for the world.

BARBARA. I want to make power for the world too; but it must be
spiritual power.

CUSINS. I think all power is spiritual: these cannons will not go
off by themselves. I have tried to make spiritual power by
teaching Greek. But the world can never be really touched by a
dead language and a dead civilization. The people must have
power; and the people cannot have Greek. Now the power that is
made here can be wielded by all men.

BARBARA. Power to burn women's houses down and kill their sons
and tear their husbands to pieces.

CUSINS. You cannot have power for good without having power for
evil too. Even mother's milk nourishes murderers as well as
heroes. This power which only tears men's bodies to pieces has
never been so horribly abused as the intellectual power, the
imaginative power, the poetic, religious power that can enslave
men's souls. As a teacher of Greek I gave the intellectual man
weapons against the common man. I now want to give the common man
weapons against the intellectual man. I love the common people. I
want to arm them against the lawyer, the doctor, the priest, the
literary man, the professor, the artist, and the politician, who,
once in authority, are the most dangerous, disastrous, and
tyrannical of all the fools, rascals, and impostors. I want a
democratic power strong enough to force the intellectual
oligarchy to use its genius for the general good or else perish.

BARBARA. Is there no higher power than that [pointing to the

CUSINS. Yes: but that power can destroy the higher powers just as
a tiger can destroy a man: therefore man must master that power
first. I admitted this when the Turks and Greeks were last at
war. My best pupil went out to fight for Hellas. My parting gift
to him was not a copy of Plato's Republic, but a revolver and a
hundred Undershaft cartridges. The blood of every Turk he shot--if
he shot any--is on my head as well as on Undershaft's. That act
committed me to this place for ever. Your father's challenge has
beaten me. Dare I make war on war? I dare. I must. I will. And
now, is it all over between us?

BARBARA [touched by his evident dread of her answer] Silly baby
Dolly! How could it be?

CUSINS [overjoyed] Then you--you--you-- Oh for my drum! [He
flourishes imaginary drumsticks].

BARBARA [angered by his levity] Take care, Dolly, take care. Oh,
if only I could get away from you and from father and from it
all! if I could have the wings of a dove and fly away to heaven!

CUSINS. And leave me!

BARBARA. Yes, you, and all the other naughty mischievous children
of men. But I can't. I was happy in the Salvation Army for a
moment. I escaped from the world into a paradise of enthusiasm
and prayer and soul saving; but the moment our money ran short,
it all came back to Bodger: it was he who saved our people: he,
and the Prince of Darkness, my papa. Undershaft and Bodger: their
hands stretch everywhere: when we feed a starving fellow
creature, it is with their bread, because there is no other
bread; when we tend the sick, it is in the hospitals they endow;
if we turn from the churches they build, we must kneel on the
stones of the streets they pave. As long as that lasts, there is
no getting away from them. Turning our backs on Bodger and
Undershaft is turning our backs on life.

CUSINS. I thought you were determined to turn your back on the
wicked side of life.

BARBARA. There is no wicked side: life is all one. And I never
wanted to shirk my share in whatever evil must be endured,
whether it be sin or suffering. I wish I could cure you of
middle-class ideas, Dolly.

CUSINS [gasping] Middle cl--! A snub! A social snub to ME! from
the daughter of a foundling!

BARBARA. That is why I have no class, Dolly: I come straight out
of the heart of the whole people. If I were middle-class I should
turn my back on my father's business; and we should both live in
an artistic drawingroom, with you reading the reviews in one
corner, and I in the other at the piano, playing Schumann: both
very superior persons, and neither of us a bit of use. Sooner
than that, I would sweep out the guncotton shed, or be one of
Bodger's barmaids. Do you know what would have happened if you
had refused papa's offer?

CUSINS. I wonder!

BARBARA. I should have given you up and married the man who
accepted it. After all, my dear old mother has more sense than
any of you. I felt like her when I saw this place--felt that I
must have it--that never, never, never could I let it go; only
she thought it was the houses and the kitchen ranges and the
linen and china, when it was really all the human souls to be
saved: not weak souls in starved bodies, crying with gratitude or
a scrap of bread and treacle, but fullfed, quarrelsome, snobbish,
uppish creatures, all standing on their little rights and
dignities, and thinking that my father ought to be greatly
obliged to them for making so much money for him--and so he
ought. That is where salvation is really wanted. My father shall
never throw it in my teeth again that my converts were bribed
with bread. [She is transfigured]. I have got rid of the bribe of
bread. I have got rid of the bribe of heaven. Let God's work be
done for its own sake: the work he had to create us to do because
it cannot be done by living men and women. When I die, let him be
in my debt, not I in his; and let me forgive him as becomes a
woman of my rank.

CUSINS. Then the way of life lies through the factory of death?

BARBARA. Yes, through the raising of hell to heaven and of man to
God, through the unveiling of an eternal light in the Valley of
The Shadow. [Seizing him with both hands] Oh, did you think my
courage would never come back? did you believe that I was a
deserter? that I, who have stood in the streets, and taken my
people to my heart, and talked of the holiest and greatest things
with them, could ever turn back and chatter foolishly to
fashionable people about nothing in a drawingroom? Never, never,
never, never: Major Barbara will die with the colors. Oh! and I
have my dear little Dolly boy still; and he has found me my place
and my work. Glory Hallelujah! [She kisses him].

CUSINS. My dearest: consider my delicate health. I cannot stand
as much happiness as you can.

BARBARA. Yes: it is not easy work being in love with me, is it?
But it's good for you. [She runs to the shed, and calls,
childlike] Mamma! Mamma! [Bilton comes out of the shed, followed
by Undershaft]. I want Mamma.

UNDERSHAFT. She is taking off her list slippers, dear. [He passes
on to Cusins]. Well? What does she say?

CUSINS. She has gone right up into the skies.

LADY BRITOMART [coming from the shed and stopping on the steps,
obstructing Sarah, who follows with Lomax. Barbara clutches like
a baby at her mother's skirt]. Barbara: when will you learn to be
independent and to act and think for yourself? I know as well as
possible what that cry of "Mamma, Mamma," means. Always running
to me!

SARAH [touching Lady Britomart's ribs with her finger tips and
imitating a bicycle horn] Pip! Pip!

LADY BRITOMART [highly indignant] How dare you say Pip! pip! to
me, Sarah? You are both very naughty children. What do you want,

BARBARA. I want a house in the village to live in with Dolly.
[Dragging at the skirt] Come and tell me which one to take.

UNDERSHAFT [to Cusins] Six o'clock tomorrow morning, my young

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