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The Sentimentalists   By: (1828-1909)

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First Page:

THE SENTIMENTALISTS

An Unfinished Comedy

By George Meredith

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

HOMEWARE.

PROFESSOR SPIRAL.

ARDEN,............. In love with Astraea.

SWITHIN,........... Sympathetics. OSIER,

DAME DRESDEN,...... Sister to Homeware.

ASTRAEA,........... Niece to Dame Dresden and Homeware.

LYRA,.............. A Wife.

LADY OLDLACE.

VIRGINIA.

WINIFRED.

THE SENTIMENTALISTS

AN UNFINISHED COMEDY

The scene is a Surrey garden in early summer. The paths are shaded by tall box wood hedges. The time is some sixty years ago.

SCENE I

PROFESSOR SPIRAL, DAME DRESDEN, LADY OLDLACE, VIRGINIA, WINIFRED, SWITHIN, and OSIER

(As they slowly promenade the garden, the professor is delivering one of his exquisite orations on Woman.)

SPIRAL: One husband! The woman consenting to marriage takes but one. For her there is no widowhood. That punctuation of the sentence called death is not the end of the chapter for her. It is the brilliant proof of her having a soul. So she exalts her sex. Above the wrangle and clamour of the passions she is a fixed star. After once recording her obedience to the laws of our common nature that is to say, by descending once to wedlock she passes on in sovereign disengagement a dedicated widow.

(By this time they have disappeared from view. HOMEWARE appears; he craftily avoids joining their party, like one who is unworthy of such noble oratory. He desires privacy and a book, but is disturbed by the arrival of ARDEN, who is painfully anxious to be polite to 'her uncle Homeware.')

SCENE II

HOMEWARE, ARDEN

ARDEN: A glorious morning, sir.

HOMEWARE: The sun is out, sir.

ARDEN: I am happy in meeting you, Mr. Homeware.

HOMEWARE: I can direct you to the ladies, Mr. Arden. You will find them up yonder avenue.

ARDEN: They are listening, I believe, to an oration from the mouth of Professor Spiral.

HOMEWARE: On an Alpine flower which has descended to flourish on English soil. Professor Spiral calls it Nature's 'dedicated widow.'

ARDEN: 'Dedicated widow'?

HOMEWARE: The reference you will observe is to my niece Astraea.

ARDEN: She is dedicated to whom?

HOMEWARE: To her dead husband! You see the reverse of Astraea, says the professor, in those world infamous widows who marry again.

ARDEN: Bah!

HOMEWARE: Astraea, it is decided, must remain solitary, virgin cold, like the little Alpine flower. Professor Spiral has his theme.

ARDEN: He will make much of it. May I venture to say that I prefer my present company?

HOMEWARE: It is a singular choice. I can supply you with no weapons for the sort of stride in which young men are usually engaged. You belong to the camp you are avoiding.

ARDEN: Achilles was not the worse warrior, sir, for his probation in petticoats.

HOMEWARE: His deeds proclaim it. But Alexander was the better chieftain until he drank with Lais.

ARDEN: No, I do not plead guilty to Bacchus.

HOMEWARE: You are confessing to the madder form of drunkenness.

ARDEN: How, sir, I beg?

HOMEWARE: How, when a young man sees the index to himself in everything spoken!

ARDEN: That might have the look. I did rightly in coming to you, sir.

HOMEWARE: 'Her uncle Homeware'?

ARDEN: You read through us all, sir.

HOMEWARE: It may interest you to learn that you are the third of the gentlemen commissioned to consult the lady's uncle Homeware.

ARDEN: The third.

HOMEWARE: Yes, she is pursued. It could hardly be otherwise. Her attractions are acknowledged, and the house is not a convent. Yet, Mr. Arden, I must remind you that all of you are upon an enterprise held to be profane by the laws of this region... Continue reading book >>




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