Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. IXXI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 18611889
Dialogue from The Mighty Dollar
By Benjamin Edward Woolf (18361901)
[Born in London, England, 1836. Died in Boston, Mass., 1901. The Mighty Dollar. An American Comedy. Written for William J. Florence, and first performed, with Mr. and Mrs. Florence in the leading parts, at the Park Theatre, New York, 6 September, 1875.From the manuscript Text, by permission of Mr. Florence, owner of this unpublished Play.]
SCENE.Representing Col. Darts residence on the heights near Washington. Ball in progress; music, etc.; the place illuminated for a fête.
Guests, officers, couples, enter right and left, and occupy the pavilions and summer-houses, or group themselves about. Enter MRS. GEN. GILFLORY with LORD CAIRNGORME.
LORD CAIRNGORME. Well, madam, to resume our conversationI contend that the American women are the prettiest in the world. It is very remarkable, you know, when you come to think of itwhat a young country you are and what a short time you have had to become so pretty. Only think of it, two hundred years ago you were red savages, going about with feathers and tomahawks and very little else. Its astonishing you knowyou are not called a go-ahead country for nothing.
MRS. GILFLORY. Vous ate tro bong; excuse me, my Lord, for dropping so suddenly into French, but Ive lived so long abroad that it has become second nature to me. [Turning to her niece LIBBY, who is up the stage flirting with CHARLIE BROOD.] Libby, Libby dear, what are you doing? Excuse me, my Lord, but that niece of mine has quite embarrassed me. I know you will excuse me, my Lord; but, as I was saying,Libby, Libby dear! Oh, she has driven what I was about to say completely out of my head. Excuse me, my Lord, excuse me.
LORD C. Really, if you wouldnt call me my Lord, you would oblige me very much. I feel that I am among simple republican people who set no value on titles except Judge, Major, Colonel, or General, and I feel sadly embarrassed when I am addressed according to the custom of my own country. If you would only call me General or Judge, you dont know how much obliged I would be.
MRS. G. Oh, were not talking so much about that as we weremany of our best families feel so much better than their fellow-citizens that they would not object to wearing titles themselves, just to show the distinction. Say vray, my Lord, say vray.
MRS. G. Well, to return to our muttons. Libby gives me such a world of trouble. Her mother being dead, I am her only protector. Sa cel protectress. I cant do anything with her; she will insist upon remaining unfashionable in spite of all my efforts to make her a woman of tong. Shes been all over Europe with me.
MRS. G. Oh, you droll! I have done my very best to improve her mind. I have only let her read the very best books, such as Charles Dicksons David Copperplate; Jack Bunsbys Pilgrims Progress, and Tom Moores Maladies; and to think that after the instruction I have given her she should look no higher than that silly billy of a man Mr. Charlie Brood.
SLOTE. Lord Cairngormewhat, he of the eye-glass and shirt collar? Pardon me, madam, for keeping you standing so long. Let me present you with a seat; we can continue our conversation so much more at our ease.
MRS. G. Yes, Judge. I lived in Paris long enough to become a Parasite. Libby! Libby dear! Theres that Libby flirting with Charlie Brood and neglecting Lord Cairngorme! Excuse me, Judge. Libby, Libby dear! [Exit.]
SLOTE. Ah, thats a splendid woman! A remarkably fine woman! [Turns to Roland Vance, who it seated at the left corner of stage smoking cigarettes.] Ah, theres Roland Vance, the journalist. Fine night, Jedge.
SLOTE. Why, Vance, I didnt know you at first. Seated there in the darkcouldnt stand the heat of the ball-room, I suppose. Just my case, exactly. Why, what seems to be the matter? You look rather palenot ill, I hope?
SLOTE. [Interrupting.] I am very glad to find you here. I want to speak to you, you being a journalist. I want you to sit down with me two or three hours and let me give you some pints about the new tariff bill that we intend to introduce.
SLOTE. [Looking after him.] Id like to clip that young mans wingsin fact, Id like to clip the wings of the whole newspaper brood, that make it impossible for an ambitious legislator to obtain his natural perquisites of office. As though he could afford to come here to Washington just for the honor of the thingand his salary. No sooner does a man begin to look after his own interest than these newspaper-fellows set up a howl about rings, bribery, and corruption. Confound them! They have robbed me of thousands! For example: A financial party came down herea rich mana perfect J. J. A.John Jacob Astorwho intended to build a railroad solely for the benefit of his countrymen, and so confident was he of the success of the scheme, that he professed himself ready to back up his plans with $10,000, which was to be forfeited to me in case the bill went through. Now, when a man is willing to take such risks on the strength of his convictionswhen, I say, a man is prepared for such a sacrifice of H. K.Hard Kashis it for me to discourage him? Is it for me to discourage him? No, sir; not by a G. F.Jug full. And this bill would have gone through, but just then, out comes these newspapers, up goes the cry about corruption, bottomless schemes, etc., etc., and so frightened the man off, railroad and all. And to indulge in highly figurative language, it knocked the lining out of the whole affair. I have suffered so, not once, but twenty times! and yet they talk about corruption in Congress! Why, I have never been corrupted once, and whats more I am not likely to bethat is, if these newspapers are to be encouraged. Liberty of the press! Id press them! If I had my way, Id put all these newspapers down, P. D. Q.pretty damned quick.