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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 4 - Scene 8. London. The Opera House
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 4 - Scene 8. London. The Opera House Post by :dabell Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :1256

Click below to download : The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 4 - Scene 8. London. The Opera House (Format : PDF)

The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 4 - Scene 8. London. The Opera House

PART THIRD. ACT FOURTH. SCENE VIII.

(The house is lighted up with a blaze of wax candles, and a State performance is about to begin in honour of the Allied sovereigns now on a visit to England to celebrate the Peace. Peace-devices adorn the theatre. A band can be heard in the street playing "The White Cockade."

An extended Royal box has been formed by removing the partitions of adjoining boxes. It is empty as yet, but the other parts of the house are crowded to excess, and somewhat disorderly, the interior doors having been broken down by besiegers, and many people having obtained admission without payment. The prevalent costume of the ladies is white satin and diamonds, with a few in lilac.

The curtain rises on the first act of the opera of "Aristodemo," MADAME GRASSINI and SIGNOR TRAMEZZINI being the leading voices. Scarcely a note of the performance can be heard amid the exclamations of persons half suffocated by the pressure.

At the end of the first act there follows a divertissement. The curtain having fallen, a silence of expectation succeeds. It is a little past ten o'clock.

Enter the Royal box the PRINCE REGENT, accompanied by the EMPEROR OF RUSSIA, demonstrative in manner now as always, the KING OF PRUSSIA, with his mien of reserve, and many minor ROYAL PERSONAGES of Europe. There are moderate acclamations. At their back and in neighbouring boxes LORD LIVERPOOL, LORD CASTLEREAGH, officers in the suite of the sovereigns, interpreters, and others take their places.

The curtain rises again, and the performers are discovered drawn up in line on the stage. They sing "God save the King." The sovereigns stand up, bow, and resume their seats amid more applause.)


A VOICE (from the gallery)

Prinny, where's your wife? (Confusion.)


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA (to Regent)

To which of us is the inquiry addressed, Prince?


PRINCE REGENT

To you, sire, depend upon't--by way of compliment.

(The second act of the Opera proceeds.)


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

Any later news from Elba, sir?


PRINCE REGENT

Nothing more than rumours, which, 'pon my honour, I can hardly
credit. One is that Bonaparte's valet has written to say the
ex-Emperor is becoming imbecile, and is an object of ridicule to
the inhabitants of the island.


KING OF PRUSSIA

A blessed result, sir, if true. If he is not imbecile he is worse--planning how to involve Europe in another way. It was a short-sighted policy to offer him a home so near as to ensure its becoming a hot-bed of intrigue and conspiracy in no long time!


PRINCE REGENT

The ex-Empress, Marie-Louise, hasn't joined him after all, I learn. Has she remained at Schonbrunn since leaving France, sires?


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

Yes, sir; with her son. She must never go back to France. Metternich and her father will know better than let her do that. Poor young thing, I am sorry for her all the same. She would have joined Napoleon if she had been left to herself.--And I was sorry for the other wife, too. I called at Malmaison a few days before she died. A charming woman! SHE would have gone to Elba or to the devil with him. Twenty thousand people crowded down from Paris to see her lying in state last week.


PRINCE REGENT

Pity she didn't have a child by him, by God.


KING OF PRUSSIA

I don't think the other one's child is going to trouble us much. But I wish Bonaparte himself had been sent farther away.


PRINCE REGENT

Some of our Government wanted to pack him off to St. Helena--an island somewhere in the Atlantic, or Pacific, or Great South Sea. But they were over-ruled. 'Twould have been a surer game.


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

One hears strange stories of his saying and doings. Some of my people were telling me to-day that he says it is to Austria that he really owes his fall, and that he ought to have destroyed her when he had her in his power.


PRINCE REGENT

Dammy, sire, don't ye think he owes his fall to his ambition to humble England by rupture of the Peace of Amiens, and trying to invade us, and wasting his strength against us in the Peninsula?


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

I incline to think, with the greatest deference, that it was Moscow that broke him.


KING OF PRUSSIA

The rejection of my conditions in the terms of peace at Prague, sires, was the turning-point towards his downfall.

(Enter a box on the opposite side of the house the PRINCESS OF WALES, attended by LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, SIR W. GELL, and others. Louder applause now rings through the theatre, drowning the sweet voice of the GRASSINI in "Aristodemo.")


LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

It is meant for your Royal Highness!


PRINCESS OF WALES

I don't think so, my dear. Punch's wife is nobody when Punch himself is present.


LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

I feel convinced that it is by their looking this way.


SIR W. GELL

Surely ma'am you will acknowledge their affection? Otherwise we may be hissed.


PRINCESS OF WALES

I know my business better than to take that morsel out of my husband's mouth. There--you see he enjoys it! I cannot assume that it is meant for me unless they call my name.

(The PRINCE REGENT rises and bows, the TSAR and the KING OF PRUSSIA doing the same.)


LADY CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL

He and the others are bowing for you, ma'am!


PRINCESS OF WALES

Mine God, then; I will bow too! (She rises and bends to them.)


PRINCE REGENT

She thinks we rose on her account.--A damn fool. (Aside.)


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

What--didn't we? I certainly rose in homage to her.


PRINCE REGENT

No, sire. We were supposed to rise to the repeated applause of the
people.


EMPEROR OF RUSSIA

H'm. Your customs sir, are a little puzzling. . . . (To the King of Prussia.) A fine-looking woman! I must call upon the Princess of Wales to-morrow.


KING OF PRUSSIA

I shall, at any rate, send her my respects by my chamberlain.


PRINCE REGENT (stepping back to Lord Liverpool)

By God, Liverpool, we must do something to stop 'em! They don't know what a laughing-stock they'll make of me if they go to her. Tell 'em they had better not.


LIVERPOOL

I can hardly tell them now, sir, while we are celebrating the Peace and Wellington's victories.


PRINCE REGENT

Oh, damn the peace, and damn the war, and damn Boney, and damn Wellington's victories!--the question is, how am I to get over this infernal woman!--Well, well,--I must write, or send Tyrwhitt to-morrow morning, begging them to abandon the idea of visiting her for politic reasons.

(The Opera proceeds to the end, and is followed by a hymn and chorus laudatory to peace. Next a new ballet by MONSIEUR VESTRIS, in which M. ROZIER and MADAME ANGIOLINI dance a pas-de-deux. Then the Sovereigns leave the theatre amid more applause.

The pit and gallery now call for the PRINCESS OF WALES unmistakably. She stand up and is warmly acclaimed, returning three stately curtseys.)


A VOICE

Shall we burn down Carlton House, my dear, and him in it?


PRINCESS OF WALES

No, my good folks! Be quiet. Go home to your beds, and let me do
the same.

(After some difficulty she gets out of the house. The people thin away. As the candle-snuffers extinguish the lights a shouting is heard without.)


VOICES OF CROWD

Long life to the Princess of Wales! Three cheers for a woman wronged!

(The Opera-house becomes lost in darkness.)

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