Эдвард Джордж Бульвер-Литтон
The Lady of Lyons; Or, Love and Pride

The Lady of Lyons; Or, Love and Pride
Эдвард Джордж Бульвер-Литтон

Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton

The Lady of Lyons; Or, Love and Pride

PREFACE

An indistinct recollection of the very pretty little tale, called “The Bellows-Mender,” suggested the plot of this Drama. The incidents are, however, greatly altered from those in the tale, and the characters entirely re-cast.

Having long had a wish to illustrate certain periods of the French history, so, in the selection of the date in which the scenes of this play are laid, I saw that the era of the Republic was that in which the incidents were rendered most probable, in which the probationary career of the hero could well be made sufficiently rapid for dramatic effect, and in which the character of the time itself was depicted by the agencies necessary to the conduct of the narrative. For during the early years of the first and most brilliant successes of the French Republic, in the general ferment of society, and the brief equalization of ranks, Claude’s high-placed love; his ardent feelings, his unsettled principles (the struggle between which makes the passion of this drama), his ambition, and his career, were phenomena that characterized the age, and in which the spirit of the nation went along with the extravagance of the individual.

The play itself was composed with a twofold object. In the first place, sympathizing with the enterprise of Mr. Macready, as Manager of Covent Garden, and believing that many of the higher interests of the Drama were involved in the success or failure of an enterprise equally hazardous and disinterested, I felt, if I may so presume to express myself, something of the Brotherhood of Art; and it was only for Mr. Macready to think it possible that I might serve him in order to induce me to make the attempt.

Secondly, in that attempt I was mainly anxious to see whether or not, after the comparative failure on the stage of “The Duchess de la Valliere,” certain critics had truly declared that it was not in my power to attain the art of dramatic construction and theatrical effect. I felt, indeed, that it was in this that a writer, accustomed to the narrative class of composition, would have the most both to learn and unlearn. Accordingly, it was to the development of the plot and the arrangement of the incidents that I directed my chief attention;—and I sought to throw whatever belongs to poetry less into the diction and the “felicity of words” than into the construction of the story, the creation of the characters, and the spirit of the pervading sentiment.

The authorship of the play was neither avowed nor suspected until the play had established itself in public favor. The announcement of my name was the signal for attacks, chiefly political, to which it is now needless to refer. When a work has outlived for some time the earlier hostilities of criticism, there comes a new race of critics to which a writer may, for the most part, calmly trust for a fair consideration, whether of the faults or the merits of his performance.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

BEAUSEANT, a rich gentleman of Lyons, in love with,

and refused by, Pauline Deschappelles                            MR. ELTON.

GLAVIS, his friend, also a rejected suitor to Pauline          MR. MEADOWS.

COLONEL (afterwards General) DAMAS, cousin to Mme. Deschappelles,

and an officer in the French army                              MR. BARTLEY.

MONSIEUR DESCHAPPELLES, a Lyonnese merchant father to Pauline

MR. STRICKLAND.

GASPAR                                                         MR. DIDDEAR.

CLAUDE MELNOTTE                                               MR. MACREADY.

FIRST OFFICER                                                     MR. HOWE.

SECOND OFFICER                                               MR. PRITCHARD.

THIRD OFFICER                                                  MR. ROBERTS.

Servants, Notary, etc.

MADAME DESCHAPPELLES                                      MRS. W. CLIFFORD.

PAULINE, her daughter                                    MISS HELEN FAUCIT.

THE WIDOW MELNOTTE, mother to Claude                         MRS. GRIFFITH.

JANET, the innkeeper’s daughter                                  MRS. EAST.

MARIAN, maid to Pauline                                       MISS GARRICK.

Scene—Lyons and the neighborhood.

Time—1795-1798

First performed on Thursday, the 15th of February, 1838, at Covent Garden Theatre.

THE LADY OF LYONS;

or,

LOVE AND PRIDE

ACT I.—SCENE I

A room in the house of M. DESCHAPPELLES, at Lyons. PAULINE reclining on a sofa; MARIAN, her maid, fanning her—Flowers and notes on a table beside the sofa—MADAME DESCHAPPELLES seated—The gardens are seen from the open window.

Mme. Deschap. Marian, put that rose a little more to the left.—[MARIAN alters the position of a rose in PAULINE’s hair.]—Ah, so!—that improves the hair,—the tournure, the j’e ne sais quoi!—You are certainly very handsome, child!—quite my style;—I don’t wonder that you make such a sensation!—Old, young, rich, and poor, do homage to the Beauty of Lyons!—Ah, we live again in our children,—especially when they have our eyes and complexion!

Pauline [languidly]. Dear mother, you spoil your Pauline!—[Aside.] I wish I knew who sent me these flowers!

Mme. Deschap. No, child!—If I praise you, it is only to inspire you with a proper ambition.—You are born to make a great marriage.—Beauty is valuable or worthless according as you invest the property to the best advantage. Marian, go and order the carriage! [Exit MARIAN.

Pauline. Who can it be that sends me, every day, these beautiful flowers?—how sweet they are!

Enter Servant.

Servant. Monsieur Beauseant, Madam.

Mme. Deschap. Let him enter. Pauline, this is another offer!—I know it is!—Your father should engage an additional clerk to keep the account-book of your conquests.

Enter BEAUSEANT.

Beau. Ah, ladies how fortunate I am to find you at home!—[Aside.] How lovely she looks!—It is a great sacrifice I make in marrying into a family in trade!—they will be eternally grateful!—[Aloud.] Madam, you will permit me a word with your charming daughter.—[Approaches PAULINE, who rises disdainfully.]—Mademoiselle, I have ventured to wait upon you, in a hope that you must long since have divined. Last night, when you outshone all the beauty of Lyons, you completed your conquest over me! You know that my fortune is not exceeded by any estate in the province,—you know that, but for the Revolution, which has defrauded me of my titles, I should be noble. May I, then, trust that you will not reject my alliance? I offer you my hand and heart.

Pauline [aside.] He has the air of a man who confers a favor!—[Aloud.] Sir, you are very condescending—I thank you humbly; but, being duly sensible of my own demerits, you must allow me to decline the honor you propose. [Curtsies, and turns away.

Beau. Decline! Impossible!—you are not serious!—Madam, suffer me to appeal to you. I am a suitor for your daughter’s hand—the settlements shall be worthy of her beauty and my station. May I wait on M. Deschappelles?

Mme. Deschap. M. Deschappelles never interferes in the domestic arrangements,—you are very obliging. If you were still a marquis, or if my daughter were intended to marry a commoner,—why, perhaps, we might give you the preference.

Beau. A commoner!—we are all commoners in France now.

Mme. Deschap. In France, yes; but there is a nobility still left in the other countries in Europe. We are quite aware of your good qualities, and don’t doubt that you will find some lady more suitable to your pretensions. We shall be always happy to see you as an acquaintance, M. Beauseant!—My dear child, the carriage will be here presently.
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