Read ACT II of The Lady of Lyons / Love and Pride, free online book, by Edward Bulwer Lytton, on

The Gardens of M. DESCHAPPELLEs’ house at Lyons ­the house seen at the back of the stage.

Enter Beauseant and Glavis.

Beau.  Well, what think you of my plot?  Has it not succeeded to a miracle?  The instant that I introduced his Highness the Prince of Como to the pompous mother and the scornful daughter, it was all over with them:  he came ­he saw ­he conquered:  and, though it is not many days since he arrived, they have already promised him the hand of Pauline.

Gla.  It is lucky, though, that you told them his highness travelled incognito, for fear the Directory (who are not very fond of princes) should lay him by the heels; for he has a wonderful wish to keep up his rank, and scatters our gold about with as much coolness as if he were watering his own flower-pots.

Beau.  True, he is damnably extravagant; I think the sly dog does it out of malice.  How ever, it must be owned that he reflects credit on his loyal subjects, and makes a very pretty figure in his fine clothes, with my diamond snuff-box.

Gla.  And my diamond ring!  But do you think he will be firm to the last?  I fancy I see symptoms of relenting:  he will never keep up his rank, if he once let out his conscience.

Beau.  His oath binds him! he cannot retract without being foresworn, and those low fellows are always superstitious!  But, as it is, I tremble lest he be discovered:  that bluff Colonel Damas (Madame Deschappelles’ cousin) evidently suspects him:  we must make haste and conclude the farce:  I have thought of a plan to end it this very day.

Gla.  This very day!  Poor Pauline:  her dream will be soon over.

Beau.  Yes, this day they shall be married; this evening, according to his oath, he shall carry his bride to the Golden Lion, and then pomp, equipage, retinue, and title, all shall vanish at once; and her Highness the Princess shall find that she has refused the son of a Marquis, to marry the son of a gardener. ­Oh, Pauline! once loved, now hated, yet still not relinquished, thou shalt drain the cup to the dregs, ­thou shalt know what it is to be humbled!

Enter from the house, Melnotte, as the Prince of Como, leading in Pauline; madame

Deschappelles, fanning herself; and colonel Damas.

[Beauseant and Glavis bow respectfully, fully.  Pauline and Melnotte walk apart.

Mme. Deschap.  Good morning, gentlemen; really I am so fatigued with laughter; the dear Prince is so entertaining.  What wit he has!  Any one may see that he has spent his whole life in courts.

Damas.  And what the deuce do you know about courts, cousin Deschappelles?  You women regard men just as you buy books ­you never care about what is in them, but how they are bound and lettered.  ’Sdeath, I don’t think you would even look at your Bible if it had not a title to it.

Mme. Deschap.  How coarse you are, cousin Damas! ­quite the manners of a barrack ­you don’t deserve to be one of our family; really we must drop your acquaintance when Pauline marries.  I cannot patronize any relations that would discredit my future son-in-law, the Prince of Como.

Mel. [advancing].  These are beautiful gardens, madame, [Beauseant and Glavis retire] ­who planned them?

Mme. Deschap.  A gardener named Melnotte, your highness ­an honest man who knew his station.  I can’t say as much for his son ­a presuming fellow, who, ­ha! ha! actually wrote verses ­such doggerel! ­to my daughter.

Pauline.  Yes, how you would have laughed at them, Prince! you, who write such beautiful verses!

Mel.  This Melnotte must be a monstrous impudent person!

Damas.  Is he good-looking?

Mme. Deschap.  I never notice such canaille ­an ugly, mean-looking clown, if I remember right.

Damas.  Yet I heard your porter say he was wonderfully like his highness.

Mel. [taking snuff].  You are complimentary.

Mme. Deschap.  For shame, cousin Damas! ­like the Prince, indeed!

Pauline.  Like you!  Ah, mother, like our beautiful prince!  I’ll never speak to you again, cousin Damas.

Mel. [aside].  Humph! ­rank is a great beautifier!  I never passed for an Apollo while I was a peasant; if I am so handsome as a prince, what should I be as an emperor! [Aloud.] Monsieur Beauseant, will you honor me? [Offers snuff.

Beau.  No, your highness; I have no small vices.

Mel.  Nay, if it were a vice, you’d be sure to have it, Monsieur

Mme. Deschap.  Ha! ha! ­how very severe! ­what wit!

Beau. [in a rage and aside].  Curse his impertinence!

Mme. Deschap.  What a superb snuff-box!  Pauline.  And what a beautiful ring!

Mel.  You like the box ­a trifle ­interesting perhaps from associations ­ a present from Louis XIV. to my great-great grandmother.  Honor me by ­accepting it.

Beau. plucking him by the sleeve.  How! ­what the devil!  My box ­are you mad?  It is worth five hundred louis.

Mel. [unheeding him, and turning to Pauline].  And you like this ring?  Ah, it has, indeed a lustre since your eyes have shone on it placing it on her finger.  Henceforth hold me, sweet enchantress, the Slave of the Ring.

Gla. [pulling him].  Stay, stay ­what are you about?  My maiden aunt’s legacy ­a diamond of the first water.  You shall be hanged for swindling, sir.

Mel. [pretending not to hear].  It is curious, this ring; it is the one with which my grandfather, the Doge of Venice, married the Adriatic!

(Madame and Pauline examine the ring.) Mel. [to Beauseant and Glavis].  Fie, gentlemen! princes must be generous? ­[Turns to Damas, who watches them closely.] These kind friends have my interest so much at heart, that they are as careful of my property as if it were their own!

Beau and Gla. [confusedly].  Ha! ha! ­very good joke that!

[Appears to remonstrate with Melnotte in dumb show.

Damas.  What’s all that whispering?  I am sure there is some juggle here:  hang me, if I think he is an Italian after all.  Gad, I’ll try him.  Servitore umillissimo, Eccellenza. ( Your Excellency’s most humble servant.)

Mel.  Hum ­what does he mean, I wonder?

Damas.  Godo di vedervi in buona salute. ( I am glad to see you in good health.)

Mel.  Hem ­hem!

Damas.  Fa bel tempo ­the si dice di nuovo? ( Fine weather.  What news is there?)

Mel.  Well, sir, what’s all that gibberish?

Damas.  Oh, oh! ­only Italian, your highness! ­The Prince of Como does not understand his own language!

Mel.  Not as you pronounce it; who the deuce could?

Mme. Deschap.  Ha! ha! cousin Damas, never pretend to what you don’t know.

Pauline.  Ha! ha! cousin Damas; you speak Italian, indeed!

[Makes a mocking gesture at him.

Beau. [to Glavis].  Clever dog! ­how ready!

Gla.  Ready, yes; with my diamond ring! ­Damn his readiness!

Damas.  Laugh at me! ­laugh at a Colonel in the French army! ­the fellow’s an impostor; I know he is.  I’ll see if he understands fighting as well as he does Italian. ­[Goes up to him, and aside.] Sir, you are a jackanapes. ­Can you construe that?

Mel.  No, sir; I never construe affronts in the presence of ladies; by-and-by I shall be happy to take a lesson ­or give one.

Damas.  I’ll find the occasion, never fear!

Mme. Deschap.  Where are you going, cousin?

Damas.  To correct my Italian. [Exit.

Beau. [to Glavis].  Let us after, and pacify him; he evidently suspects something.

Gla.  Yes! ­but my diamond ring!

Beau.  And my box! ­We are over-taxed fellow-subjects! ­we must stop the supplies, and dethrone the prince.

Gla.  Prince! ­he ought to be heir-apparent to King Stork.

[Exeunt Beauseant and Glavis.

Mme. Deschap.  Dare I ask your highness to forgive my cousin’s insufferable vulgarity?

Pauline.  Oh yes! ­you will forgive his manner for the sake of his heart.

Mel.  And the sake of his cousin. ­Ah, madam, there is one comfort in rank, ­we are so sure of our position that we are not easily affronted.  Besides, M. Damas has bought the right of indulgence from his friends, by never showing it to his enemies.

Pauline.  Ah! he is, indeed, as brave in action as he is rude in speech. 
He rose from the ranks to his present grade, and in two years!

Mel.  In two years! ­two years, did you say?

Mme. Deschap. [aside].  I don’t like leaving girls alone with their lovers; but, with a prince, it would be so ill-bred to be prudish. [Exit.

Mel.  You can be proud of your connection with one who owes his position to merit ­not birth.

Pauline.  Why, yes; but still

Mel.  Still what, Pauline!

Pauline.  There is something glorious in the heritage of command.  A man who has ancestors is like a representative of the past.

Mel.  True; but, like other representatives, nine times out of ten he is a silent member.  Ah, Pauline! not to the past, but to the future, looks true nobility, and finds its blazon in posterity.

Pauline.  You say this to please me, who have no ancestors; but you, prince, must be proud of so illustrious a race!

Mel.  No, no!  I would not, were I fifty times a prince, be a pensioner on the dead!  I honor birth and ancestry when they are regarded as the incentives to exertion, not the titledeeds to sloth!  I honor the laurels that overshadow the graves of our fathers; it is our fathers I emulate, when I desire that beneath the evergreen I myself have planted, my own ashes may repose!  Dearest! couldst thou but see with my eyes!

Pauline.  I cannot forego pride when I look on thee, and think that thou lovest me.  Sweet Prince, tell me again of thy palace by the Lake of Como; it is so pleasant to hear of thy splendors since thou didst swear to me that they would be desolate without Pauline; and when thou describest them, it is with a mocking lip and a noble scorn, as if custom had made thee disdain greatness.

Mel.  Nay, dearest, nay, if thou wouldst have me paint The home to which, could love fulfil its prayers, This hand would lead thee, listen! ­

( The reader will observe that Melnotte evades the request of Pauline.  He proceeds to describe a home, which he does not say he possesses, but to which he would lead her, “could Love fulfil its prayers.”  This caution is intended as a reply to a sagacious critic who censures the description, because it is not an exact and prosaic inventory of the characteristics of the Lake of Como! ­When Melnotte, for instance, talks of birds “that syllable the name of Pauline” (by the way, a literal translation from an Italian poet), he is not thinking of ornithology, but probably of the Arabian Nights.  He is venting the extravagant, but natural, enthusiasm of the poet and the lover.)

     A deep vale
     Shut out by Alphine hills from the rude world;
     Near a clear lake, margin’d by fruits of gold
     And whispering myrtles; glassing softest skies,
     As cloudless, save with rare and roseate shadows,
     As I would have thy fate!

     Pauline.  My own dear love!

     Mel.  A palace lifting to eternal summer
     Its marble walls, from out a glossy bower
     Of coolest foliage musical with birds,
     Whose songs should syllable thy name!  At noon
     We’d sit beneath the arching vines, and wonder
     Why Earth could be unhappy, while the Heavens
     Still left us youth and love!  We’d have no friends
     That were not lovers; no ambition, save
     To excel them all in love; we’d read no books
     That were not tales of love ­that we might smile
     To think how poorly eloquence of words
     Translates the poetry of hearts like ours! 
     And when night came, amidst the breathless Heavens
     We’d guess what star should be our home when love
     Becomes immortal; while the perfumed light
     Stole through the mists of alabaster lamps,
     And every air was heavy with the sighs
     Of orange-groves and music from sweet lutes,
     And murmurs of low fountains that gush forth
     I’ the midst of roses! ­Dost thou like the picture?

     Pauline.  Oh, as the bee upon the flower, I hang
     Upon the honey of thy eloquent tongue! 
     Am I not blest?  And if I love too wildly,
     Who would not love thee like Pauline?

     Mel. [bitterly.] Oh, false one! 
     It is the prince thou lovest, not the man
     If in the stead of luxury, pomp, and power,
     I had painted poverty, and toil, and care,
     Thou hadst found no honey on my tongue; ­Pauline,
     That is not love!

     Pauline.  Thou wrong’st me, cruel Prince! 
     At first, in truth, I might not have been won,
     Save through the weakness of a flatter’d pride;
     But now, ­oh! trust me, ­couldst thou fall from power
     And sink ­

     Mel.  As low as that poor gardener’s son
     Who dared to lift his eyes to thee? ­

     Pauline.  Even then,
     Methinks thou wouldst be only made more dear
     By the sweet thought that I could prove how deep
     Is woman’s love!  We are like the insects, caught
     By the poor glittering of a garish flame;
     But, oh, the wings once scorch’d, the brightest star
     Lures us no more; and by the fatal light
     We cling till death!

     Mel.  Angel! [Aside.] O conscience! conscience! 
     It must not be; her love hath grown a torture
     Worse than her hate.  I will at once to Beauseant,
     And ­ha! he comes.  Sweet love, one moment leave me. 
     I have business with these gentlemen ­I ­I
     Will forwith join you.

Pauline.  Do not tarry long! [Exit.

Enter Beauseant and Glavis.

Mel.  Release me from my oath, ­I will not marry her!

Beau Then thou art perjured.

Mel.  No, I was not in my senses when I swore to thee to marry her!  I was blind to all but her scorn! ­deaf to all but my passion and my rage!  Give me back my poverty and my honor!

Beau.  It is too late, ­you must marry her! and this day.  I have a story already coined, and sure to pass current.  This Damas suspects thee, ­he will set the police to work! ­thou wilt be detected ­Pauline will despise and execrate thee.  Thou wilt be sent to the common gaol as a swindler.

Mel.  Fiend!

Beau.  And in the heat of the girl’s resentment (you know of what resentment is capable) and the parents’ shame, she will be induced to marry the first that offers ­even perhaps your humble servant.

Mel.  You!  No; that were worse ­for thou hast no mercy!  I will marry her. ­I will keep my oath.  Quick, then, with the damnable invention thou art hatching; ­quick, if thou wouldst not have me strangle thee or myself.

Gla.  What a tiger!  Too fierce for a prince; he ought to have been the Grand Turk.

Beau.  Enough ­I will dispatch; be prepared.

[Exeunt Beauseant and Glavis.

Enter Damas with two swords.

Damas.  Now, then, sir, the ladies are no longer your excuse.  I have brought you a couple of dictionaries; let us see if your highness can find out the Latin for bilbo.

Mel.  Away, sir!  I am in no humor for jesting.  Damas.  I see you understand something of the grammar; you decline the non-substantive “small-swords” with great ease; but that won’t do ­you must take a lesson in parsing.

Mel.  Fool!  Damas.  Sir, as sons take after their mother, so the man who calls me a fool insults the lady who bore me; there’s no escape for you ­fight you shall, or ­

Mel.  Oh, enough! enough! ­take your ground.

They fight; Damas is disarmed.  Melnotte takes up the sword and returns it to Damas respectfully.  A just punishment to the brave soldier who robs the state of its best property ­the sole right to his valor and his life.

Damas.  Sir, you fence exceedingly well; you must be a man of honor ­I don’t care a jot whether you are a prince; but a man who has carte and tierce at his fingers’ ends must be a gentleman.

Mel. [aside.] Gentleman!  Ay, I was a gentleman before I turned conspirator; for honest men are the gentlemen of Nature!  Colonel, they tell me you rose from the ranks.

Damas.  I did.

Mel.  And in two years!

Damas.  It is true; that’s no wonder in our army at present.  Why the oldest general in the service is scarcely thirty, and we have some of two-and-twenty.

Mel.  Two-and-twenty!

Damas.  Yes; in the French army, now a days, promotion is not a matter of purchase.  We are all heroes, because we may be all generals.  We have no fear of the cypress, because we may all hope for the laurel.

Mel.  A general at two-and-twenty! [turning away] ­Sir, I may ask you a favor one of these days.

Damas.  Sir, I shall be proud to grant it.  It is astonishing how much I like a man after I’ve fought with him. [Hides the swords.

Enter madame Deschappelles and Beauseant.

Mme. Deschap.  Oh, prince, ­prince! ­What do I hear?  You must fly ­you must quit us!

Mel.  I!

Beau.  Yes, prince:  read this letter, just received from my friend at Paris, one of the Directory; they suspect you of designs against the Republic:  they are very suspicious of princes, and your family take part with the Austrians.  Knowing that I introduced your highness at Lyons, my friend writes to me to say that you must quit the town immediately, or you will be arrested, ­thrown into prison, perhaps guillotined!  Fly! ­I will order horses to your carriage instantly.  Fly to Marsailles; there you can take ship to Leghorn.

Mme. Deschap.  And what’s to become of Pauline?  Am I not to be mother to a princess, after all?

Enter Pauline and monsieur Deschappelles.

Pauline [throwing herself into MELNOTTE’s arms.] You must leave us! ­Leave Pauline!

Beau.  Not a moment is to be wasted.

M. Deschap.  I will go to the magistrates and inquire ­

Beau.  Then he is lost; the magistrates, hearing he is suspected, will order his arrest.

Mme. Deschap.  And I shall not be a princess-dowager!

Beau.  Why not?  There is only one thing to be done: ­send for the priest ­let the marriage take place at once, and the prince carry home a bride?

Mel.  Impossible! ­[Aside.] Villain.

Mme. Deschap.  What, lose my child?

Beau.  And gain a princess!

Mme Deschap.  Oh, Monsieur Beauseant, you are so very kind, it must be so, ­we ought not to be selfish, my daughter’s happiness at stake.  She will go away, too, in a carriage and six!

Pauline.  Thou art here still, ­I cannot part from my heart will break.

Mel.  But thou wilt not consent to this hasty union? ­thou wilt not wed an outcast ­a fugitive?

Pauline.  Ah! if thou art in danger, who should share it but Pauline?

Mel. [aside].  Distraction! ­If the earth could swallow me!

M. Deschap.  Gently! gently!  The settlements ­the contracts ­my daughter’s dowry!

Mel.  The dowry! ­I am not base enough for that; no, not one farthing!

Beau. [to madam].  Noble fellow! ­Really your good husband is too mercantile in these matters.  Monsieur Deschappelles, you hear his highness:  we can arrange the settlements by proxy; ’tis the way with people of quality.

M. Deschap.  But ­

Mme. Deschap.  Hold your tongue! ­Don’t expose yourself!

Beau.  I will bring the priest in a trice.  Go in all of you and prepare; the carriage shall be at the door before the ceremony is over.

Mme. Deschap.  Be sure there are six horses, Beauseant!  You are very good to have forgiven us for refusing you; but you see ­a prince!

Beau.  And such a prince!  Madam, I cannot blush at the success of so illustrious a rival. ­[Aside.] Now will I follow them to the village, enjoy my triumph, and to-morrow, in the hour of thy shame and grief, I think, proud girl, thou wilt prefer even these arms to those of the gardener’s son. [Exit.

Mme. Deschap.  Come, Monsieur Deschappelles, give your arm to her highness that is to be.

M. Deschap.  I don’t like doing business in such a hurry; ’tis not the way with the house of Deschappelles & Co.

Mme. Deschap.  There, now, you fancy you are in the counting-house, don’t you?

[Pushes him to Pauline.

Mel.  Stay, stay, Pauline ­one word.  Have you no scruple, no fear? 
Speak ­it is not yet too late.

Pauline.  When I loved thee, thy fate became mine.  Triumph or danger ­ joy or sorrow ­I am by thy side.

Damas.  Well, well, prince, thou art a lucky man to be so loved.  She is a good little girl in spite of her foibles make her as happy as if she were not to be a princess [slapping him on the shoulder].  Come, sir, I wish you joy ­young tender ­lovely; ­zounds, I envy you!

Mel. [who has stood apart in gloomy abstraction].  Do you?

     ( On the stage the following lines are added: ­)

     “Do you?  Wise judges are we of each other. 
     ’Woo, wed, and bear her home!  So runs the bond
     To which I sold myself, ­and then ­what then? 
     Away? ­I will not look beyond the hour. 
     Like children in the dark, I dare not face
     The shades that gather sound me in the distance. 
     You envy me ­I thank you ­you may read
     My joy upon my brow ­I thank you, sir! 
     If hearts had audible language, you would hear
     What mine would answer when you talk of envy!”