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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 5 - Scene 4. London. A Club In St. James's Street
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 5 - Scene 4. London. A Club In St. James's Street Post by :axeman Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :2848

Click below to download : The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 5 - Scene 4. London. A Club In St. James's Street (Format : PDF)

The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 5 - Scene 4. London. A Club In St. James's Street

PART SECOND. ACT FIFTH. SCENE IV.

(A winter midnight. Two members are conversing by the fire, and others are seen lolling in the background, some of them snoring.)


FIRST MEMBER

I learn from a private letter that it was carried out in the Emperor's Cabinet at the Tuileries--just off the throne-room, where they all assembled in the evening,--Boney and the wife of his bosom (In pure white muslin from head to foot, they say), the Kings and Queens of Holland, Whestphalia, and Naples, the Princess Pauline, and one or two more; the officials present being Cambaceres the Chancellor, and Count Regnaud. Quite a small party. It was over in minutes--short and sweet, like a donkey's gallop.


SECOND MEMBER

Anything but sweet for her. How did she stand it?


FIRST MEMBER

Serenely, I believe, while the Emperor was making his speech renouncing her; but when it came to her turn to say she renounced him she began sobbing mightily, and was so completely choked up that she couldn't get out a word.


SECOND MEMBER

Poor old dame! I pity her, by God; though she had a rattling good spell while it lasted.


FIRST MEMBER

They say he was a bit upset, too, at sight of her tears But I dare vow that was put on. Fancy Boney caring a curse what a woman feels. She had learnt her speech by heart, but that did not help her: Regnaud had to finish it for her, the ditch that overturned her being where she was made to say that she no longer preserved any hope of having children, and that she was pleased to show her attachment by enabling him to obtain them by another woman. She was led off fainting. A turning of the tables, considering how madly jealous she used to make him by her flirtations!

(Enter a third member.)


SECOND MEMBER

How is the debate going? Still braying the Government in a mortar?


THIRD MEMBER

They are. Though one thing every body admits: young Peel has made a wonderful first speech in seconding the address. There has been nothing like it since Pitt. He spoke rousingly of Austria's misfortunes--went on about Spain, of course, showing that we must still go on supporting her, winding up with a brilliant peroration about--what were the words--"the fiery eyes of the British soldier!"--Oh, well: it was all learnt before-hand, of course.


SECOND MEMBER

I wish I had gone down. But the wind soon blew the other way.


THIRD MEMBER

Then Gower rapped out his amendment. That was good, too, by God.


SECOND MEMBER

Well, the war must go on. And that being the general conviction this censure and that censure are only so many blank cartridges.


THIRD MEMBER

Blank? Damn me, were they! Gower's was a palpable hit when he said that Parliament had placed unheard-of resources in the hands of the Ministers last year, to make this year's results to the country worse than if they had been afforded no resources at all. Every single enterprise of theirs had been a beggarly failure.

SECOND MEMBER

Anybody could have said it, come to that.

THIRD MEMBER

Yes, because it is so true. However, when he began to lay on with such rhetoric as "the treasures of the nation lavished in wasteful thoughtlessness,"--"thousands of our troops sacrificed wantonly in pestilential swamps of Walcheren," and gave the details we know so well, Ministers wriggled a good one, though 'twas no news to 'em. Castlereagh kept on starting forward as if he were going to jump up and interrupt, taking the strictures entirely as a personal affront.

(Enter a fourth member.)


SEVERAL MEMBERS

Who's speaking now?


FOURTH MEMBER

I don't know. I have heard nobody later than Ward.


SECOND MEMBER

The fact is that, as Whitbread said to me to-day, the materials for condemnation are so prodigious that we can scarce marshal them into argument. We are just able to pour 'em out one upon t'other.


THIRD MEMBER

Ward said, with the blandest air in the world: "Censure? Do his Majesty's Ministers expect censure? Not a bit. They are going about asking in tremulous tones if anybody has heard when their impeachment is going to begin."


SEVERAL MEMBERS

Haw--haw--haw!


THIRD MEMBER

Then he made another point. After enumerating our frightful failures--Spain, Walcheren, and the rest--he said: "But Ministers have not failed in everything. No; in one thing they have been strikingly successful. They have been successful in their attack upon Copenhagen--because it was directed against an ally!" Mighty fine, wasn't it?


SECOND MEMBER

How did Castlereagh stomach that?


THIRD MEMBER

He replied then. Donning his air of injured innocence he proved the honesty of his intentions--no doubt truly enough. But when he came to Walcheren nothing could be done. The case was hopeless, and he knew it, and foundered. However, at the division, when he saw what a majority was going out on his side he was as frisky as a child. Canning's speech was grave, with bits of shiny ornament stuck on--like the brass nails on a coffin, Sheridan says.

(Fifth and sixth members stagger in, arm-and-arm.)


FIFTH MEMBER

The 'vision is---'jority of ninety-six againsht--Gov'ment--I mean--againsht us. Which is it--hey? (To his companion.)


SIXTH MEMBER

Damn majority of--damn ninety-six--against damn amendment! (They sink down on a sofa.)


SECOND MEMBER

Gad, I didn't expect the figure would have been quite so high!


THIRD MEMBER

The one conviction is that the war in the Peninsula is to go on, and as we are all agreed upon that, what the hell does it matter what their majority was?

(Enter SHERIDAN. They all look inquiringly.)


SHERIDAN

Have ye heard the latest?


SECOND MEMBER

Ninety-six against us.


SHERIDAN

O no-that's ancient history. I'd forgot it.


THIRD MEMBER

A revolution, because Ministers are not impeached and hanged?


SHERIDAN

That's in contemplation, when we've got their confessions. But what I meant was from over the water--it is a deuced sight more serious to us than a debate and division that are only like the Liturgy on a Sunday--known beforehand to all the congregation. Why, Bonaparte is going to marry Austria forthwith--the Emperor's daughter Maria Louisa.

THIRD MEMBER

The Lord look down! Our late respected crony of Austria! Why, in this very night's debate they have been talking about the laudable principles we have been acting upon in affording assistance to the Emperor Francis in his struggle against the violence and ambition of France!


SECOND MEMBER

Boney safe on that side, what may not befall!


THIRD MEMBER

We had better make it up with him, and shake hands all round.


SECOND MEMBER

Shake heads seems most natural in the case. O House of Hapsburg, how hast thou fallen!

(Enter WHITBREAD, LORD HUTCHINSON, LORD GEORGE CAVENDISH, GEORGE PONSONBY, WINDHAM, LORD GREY, BARING, ELLIOT, and other members, some drunk. The conversation becomes animated and noisy; several move off to the card-room, and the scene closes.)

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