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For Love of the King a Burmese Masque   By: (1854-1900)

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First Page:

FOR LOVE OF THE KING

A BURMESE MASQUE

BY OSCAR WILDE

METHUEN & CO. LTD. 36 ESSEX STREET W.C. LONDON

First Published by Methuen & Co. Ltd. in 1922

This Edition on handmade paper is limited to 1000 copies

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

The very interesting and richly coloured masque or pantomimic play which is here printed in book form for the first time, was invented sometime in 1894 or possibly a little earlier. It was written, not for publication, but as a personal gift to the author's friend and friend of his family, Mrs. Chan Toon, and was sent to her with the letter that follows and explains its origin.

Mrs. Chan Toon, before her marriage to Mr. Chan Toon, a Burmese gentleman, nephew of the King of Burma and a barrister of the Middle Temple, was Miss Mabel Cosgrove, the daughter of Mr. Ernest Cosgrove of Lancaster Gate, a friend of Sir William and Lady Wilde, and herself brought up with Oscar and his brother Willie.

For a long while Mrs. Chan Toon, who after her husband's death became Mrs. Woodhouse Pearse, refused to permit the masque to be printed. The late Robert Ross much wanted to include it in an edition of Wilde's works, of which it now forms a part, but he could not obtain its owner's consent. An arrangement, however, having been completed, the play is now made public.

TITE STREET, CHELSEA, November 27, 1894

My dear Mrs. Chan Toon ,

I am greatly repentant being so long in acknowledging receipt of " Told on the Pagoda ." I enjoyed reading the stories , and much admired their quaint and delicate charm . Burmah calls to me .

Under another cover I am sending you a fairy play entitled " For Love of the King ," just for your own amusement . It is the outcome of long and luminous talks with your distinguished husband in the Temple and on the river , in the days when I was meditating writing a novel as beautiful and as intricate as a Persian praying rug . I hope that I have caught the atmosphere .

I should like to see it acted in your Garden House on some night when the sky is a sheet of violet and the stars like women's eyes . Alas , it is not likely .

I am in the throes of a new comedy . I met a perfectly wonderful person the other day who unconsciously has irradiated my present with sinuous suggestion : a Swedish Baron , French in manner , Athenian in mind , and Oriental in morals . His society is a series of revelations . . . .

I was at Oakley Street on Thursday ; my mother tells me she sends you a letter nearly every week .

Constance desires to be warmly remembered , while I , who am bathing my brow in the perfume of water lilies , lay myself at the feet of you and yours .

OSCAR WILDE

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY

KING MENG BENG ( Lord of a Thousand White Elephants , Countless Umbrellas and other attributes of greatness ).

U. RAI GYAN THOO ( A Prime Minister ).

SHAH MAH PHRU ( A Girl , half Italian , half Burmese , of dazzling beauty ).

DHAMMATHAT ( Legal Adviser to the Court ).

HIP LOONG ( A Chinese Wizard of great repute ).

MOUNG PHO MHIN ( Minister of Finance ).

TWO ENVOYS FROM THE KING OF CEYLON.

NOBLES, COURTIERS, SOOTHSAYERS, POONYGEES, DANCING GIRLS, BETEL NUT CARRIERS, UMBRELLA BEARERS, FOLLOWERS, SERVANTS, SLAVES, amongst whom are several CHINESE but no INDIANS.

TIME: The Sixteenth Century .

ACT I

SCENE I

The palace of the KING OF BURMAH. The scene is laid in the Hall of a Hundred Doors . In the distance can be seen the moat , the waiting elephants , and the peacocks promenading proudly in the blinding sunshine of late afternoon . The scene discovers KING MENG BENG seated on a raised cushion sewn with rubies , under a canopy supported by four attendants , motionless as bronze figures . By his side is a betel nut box , glittering with gems . On either side of him , but much lower down , are the TWO AMBASSADORS OF THE KING OF CEYLON, bearers of the King of Ceylon's consent to the marriage of his only daughter to Meng Beng in two years' time , men of grave , majestic mien , clad in flowing robes almost monastic in their white simplicity ... Continue reading book >>




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