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Title:      "In Good King Charles's Golden Days"
Author:     George Bernard Shaw
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0300441.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted:          March 2003
Date most recently updated: March 2003

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      "In Good King Charles's Golden Days"
Author:     George Bernard Shaw





"In Good King Charles's Golden Days":
A True History That Never Happened




Contents


Preface

  Stage Chapters of History

  Newton's Rectilinear Universe

  Charles's Golden Days

  The Future of Women in Politics

  The Coupled Vote

"IN GOOD KING CHARLES'S GOLDEN DAYS"

Period--Cambridge, 1680

  ACT I.  The Library in the House of Isaac Newton.  Morning.

  ACT II.  The Boudoir of Catherine of Braganza in Newmarket.
           Late in the Afternoon on the Same Day.




Preface


In providing a historical play for the Malvern Festival of 1939 I
departed from the established practice sufficiently to require a
word of explanation.  The "histories" of Shakespear are chronicles
dramatized; and my own chief historical plays, Caesar and Cleopatra
and St Joan, are fully documented chronicle plays of this type.
Familiarity with them would get a student safely through
examination papers on their periods.


STAGE CHAPTERS OF HISTORY


A much commoner theatrical product is the historical romance,
mostly fiction with historical names attached to the stock
characters of the stage.  Many of these plays have introduced their
heroines as Nell Gwynn, and Nell's principal lover as Charles II.
As Nell was a lively and lovable actress, it was easy to reproduce
her by casting a lively and lovable actress for the part; but the
stage Charles, though his costume and wig were always unmistakeable,
never had any other resemblance to the real Charles, nor to anything
else on earth except what he was not: a stage walking gentleman with
nothing particular to say for himself.

Now the facts of Charles's reign have been chronicled so often by
modern historians of all parties, from the Whig Macaulay to the
Jacobite Hilaire Belloc, that there is no novelty left for the
chronicler to put on the stage.  As to the romance, it is
intolerably stale: the spectacle of a Charles sitting with his arm
round Nell Gwynn's waist, or with Moll Davis seated on his knee,
with the voluptuous termagant Castlemaine raging in the background,
has no interest for me, if it ever had for any grown-up person.

But when we turn from the sordid facts of Charles's reign, and from
his Solomonic polygamy, to what might have happened to him but did
not, the situation becomes interesting and fresh.  For instance,
Charles might have met that human prodigy Isaac Newton.  And Newton
might have met that prodigy of another sort, George Fox, the
founder of the morally mighty Society of Friends, vulgarly called
the Quakers.  Better again, all three might have met.  Now anyone
who considers a hundred and fiftieth edition of Sweet Nell of Old
Drury more attractive than Isaac Newton had better avoid my plays:
they are not meant for such.  And anyone who is more interested in
Lady Castlemaine's hips than in Fox's foundation of the great Cult
of Friendship should keep away from theatres and frequent worse
places.  Still, though the interest of my play lies mainly in the
clash of Charles, George, and Isaac, there is some fun in the clash
between all three and Nelly, Castlemaine, and the Frenchwoman
Louise de Kéroualle, whom we called Madame Carwell.  So I bring the
three on the stage to relieve the intellectual tension.


NEWTON'S RECTILINEAR UNIVERSE


There is another clash which is important and topical in view of
the hold that professional science has gained on popular credulity
since the middle of the nineteenth century.  I mean the eternal
clash between the artist and the physicist.  I have therefore
invented a collision between Newton and a personage whom I should
like to have called Hogarth; for it was Hogarth who said "the line
of beauty is a curve," and Newton whose first dogma it was that the
universe is in principle rectilinear.  He called straight lines
right lines; and they were still so called in my school Euclid
eighty years ago.  But Hogarth could not by any magic be fitted
into the year 1680, my chosen date; so I had to fall back on
Godfrey Kneller.  Kneller had not Hogarth's brains; but I have had
to endow him with them to provide Newton with a victorious
antagonist.  In point of date Kneller just fitted in.

But I must make an exception to this general invitation.  If by any
chance you are a great mathematician or astronomer you had perhaps
better stay away.  I have made Newton aware of something wrong with
the perihelion of Mercury.  Not since Shakespear made Hector of
Troy quote Aristotle has the stage perpetrated a more staggering
anachronism.  But I find the perihelion of Mercury so irresistible
as a laugh catcher (like Weston-super-Mare) that I cannot bring
myself to sacrifice it.  I am actually prepared to defend it as a
possibility.  Newton was not only a lightning calculator with a
monstrous memory: he was also a most ingenious and dexterous maker
of apparatus.  He made his own telescope; and when he wanted to
look at Mercury without being dazzled by the sun he was quite
clever enough to produce an artificial eclipse by putting an
obturator into the telescope, though nobody else hit on that simple
device until long after.  My ignorance in these matters is
stupendous; but I refuse to believe that Newton's system did not
enable him to locate Mercury theoretically at its nearest point to
the sun, and then to find out with his telescope that it was
apparently somewhere else.

For the flash of prevision in which Newton foresees Einstein's
curvilinear universe I make no apology.  Newton's first law of
motion is pure dogma.  So is Hogarth's first law of design.  The
modern astronomers have proved, so far, that Hogarth was right and
Newton wrong.  But as the march of science during my long lifetime
has played skittles with all the theories in turn I dare not say
how the case will stand by the time this play of mine reaches its
thousandth performance (if it ever does).  Meanwhile let me admit
that Newton in my play is a stage astronomer: that is, an
astronomer not for an age but for all time.  Newton as a man was
the queerest of the prodigies; and I have chapter and verse for all
his contradictions.


CHARLES'S GOLDEN DAYS


As to Charles, he adolesced as a princely cosmopolitan vagabond of
curiously mixed blood, and ended as the first king in England whose
kingship was purely symbolic, and who was clever enough to know
that the work of the regicides could not be undone, and that he had
to reign by his wits and not by the little real power they had left
him.  Unfortunately the vulgarity of his reputation as a Solomonic
polygamist has not only obscured his political ability, but
eclipsed the fact that he was the best of husbands.  Catherine of
Braganza, his wife, has been made to appear a nobody, and
Castlemaine, his concubine, almost a great historical figure.  When
you have seen my play you will not make that mistake, and may
therefore congratulate yourself on assisting at an act of
historical justice.

Let us therefore drop the popular subject of The Merry Monarch and
his women.  On the stage, and indeed off it, he is represented as
having practically no other interest, and being a disgracefully
unfaithful husband.  It is inferred that he was politically
influenced by women, especially by Louise de Kéroualle, who, as an
agent of Louis XIV, kept him under the thumb of that Sun of
Monarchs as his secret pensioner.  The truth is that Charles, like
most English kings, was continually in money difficulties because
the English people, having an insuperable dislike of being governed
at all, would not pay taxes enough to finance an efficient civil
and military public service.  In Charles's day especially they
objected furiously to a standing army, having had enough of that
under Cromwell, and grudged their king even the lifeguards which
were the nucleus of such an army.  Charles, to carry on, had to
raise the necessary money somewhere; and as he could not get it
from the Protestant people of England he was clever enough to get
it from the Catholic king of France; for, though head of the Church
of England, he privately ranked Protestants as an upstart vulgar
middle-class sect, and the Catholic Church as the authentic
original Church of Christ, and the only possible faith for a
gentleman.  In achieving this he made use of Louise: there is no
evidence that she made use of him.  To the Whig historians the
transaction makes Charles a Quisling in the service of Louis and a
traitor to his own country.  This is mere Protestant scurrility:
the only shady part of it is that Charles, spending the money in
the service of England, gave le Roi Soleil no value for it.

The other mistresses could make him do nothing that his goodnature
did not dispose him to do, whether it was building Greenwich
Hospital or making dukes of his bastards.  As a husband he took his
marriage very seriously, and his sex adventures as calls of nature
on an entirely different footing.  In this he was in the line of
evolution, which leads to an increasing separation of the unique
and intensely personal and permanent marriage relation from the
carnal intercourse described in Shakespear's sonnet.  This, being a
response to the biological decree that the world must be peopled,
may arise irresistibly between persons who could not live together
endurably for a week but can produce excellent children.
Historians who confuse Charles's feelings for his wife with his
appetite for Barbara Villiers do not know chalk from cheese
biologically.


THE FUTURE OF WOMEN IN POLITICS


The establishment of representative government in England is
assumed to have been completed by the enfranchisement of women in
1928.  The enormous hiatus left by their previous disenfranchisement
is supposed to have been filled up and finished with.  As a matter
of fact it has only reduced Votes for Women to absurdity; for the
women immediately used their vote to keep women out of Parliament.
After seventeen years of it the nation, consisting of men and women
in virtually equal numbers, is misrepresented at Westminster by 24
women and 616 men.  During the Suffragette revolt of 1913 I gave
great offence to the agitators by forecasting this result, and
urging that what was needed was not the vote, but a constitutional
amendment enacting that all representative bodies shall consist of
women and men in equal numbers, whether elected or nominated or co-
opted or registered or picked up in the street like a coroner's
jury.


THE COUPLED VOTE


In the case of elected bodies the only way of effecting this is by
the Coupled Vote.  The representative unit must be not a man OR a
woman but a man AND a woman.  Every vote, to be valid, must be for
a human pair, with the result that the elected body must consist of
men and women in equal numbers.  Until this is achieved it is idle
to prate about political democracy as existing, or ever having
existed, at any known period of English history.

It is to be noted that the half-and-half proportion is valid no
matter what the proportion of women to men is in the population.
It never varies considerably; but even if it did the natural unit
would still be the complete couple and not its better (or worse)
half.

The wisdom or expediency of this reform is questioned on various
grounds.  There are the people who believe that the soul is a
masculine organ lacking in women, as certain physical organs
are, and is the seat of male political faculty.  But, so far,
dissection, spectrum analysis, the electronic microscope, have
failed to discover in either sex any specific organ or hormone that
a biologist can label as the soul.  So we christen it The Holy
Ghost or The Lord of Hosts and dechristen it as a Life Force or
Élan Vital.  As this is shared by women and men, and, when it quits
the individual, produces in both alike the dissolution we call
death, democratic representation cannot be said to exist where
women are not as fully enfranchised and qualified as men.  So far
no great harm has been done by their legal disabilities because
men and women are so alike that for the purposes of our crude
legislation it matters little whether juries and parliaments are
packed with men or women; but now that the activities of government
have been greatly extended, detailed criticism by women has become
indispensable in Cabinets.  For instance, the House of Lords is
more representative than the House of Commons because its members
are there as the sons of their fathers, which is the reason for all
of us being in the world; but it would be a much more human body if
it were half-and-half sons and daughters.

All this went on with the approval of the women, who formed half
the community, and yet were excluded not only from the franchise
but from the professions and public services, except the thrones.
Up to a point this also did not matter much; for in oligarchies
women exercise so much influence privately and irresponsibly that
the cleverest of them are for giving all power to the men, knowing
that they can get round them without being hampered by the female
majority whose world is the kitchen, the nursery, and the
drawingroom if such a luxury is within their reach.

But representation on merely plangent Parliamentary bodies is not
sufficient.  Anybody can complain of a grievance; but its remedy
demands constructive political capacity.  Now political capacity is
rare; but it is not rarer in women than in men.  Nature's supply of
five per cent or so of born political thinkers and administrators
are all urgently needed in modern civilization; and if half of that
natural supply is cut off by the exclusion of women from Parliament
and Cabinets the social machinery will fall short and perhaps break
down for lack of sufficient direction.  Competent women, of whom
enough are available, have their proper places filled by
incompetent men: there is no Cabinet in Europe that would not be
vitally improved by having its male tail cut off and female heads
substituted.

But how is this to be done?  Giving all women the vote makes it
impossible because it only doubles the resistance to any change.
When it was introduced in England not a single woman was returned
at the ensuing General Election, though there were women of proved
ability in the field.  They were all defeated by male candidates
who were comparative noodles and nobodies.

Therefore I suggest and advocate The Coupled Vote, making all votes
invalid except those for a bi-sexed couple, and thus ensuring the
return of a body in which men and women are present in equal
numbers.  Until this is done, adult suffrage will remain the least
democratic of all political systems.  I leave it to our old
parliamentary hands to devise a plan by which our electorate can be
side-tracked, humbugged, cheated, lied to, or frightened into
tolerating such a change.  If it has to wait for their enlightenment
it will wait too long.

MALVERN, 1939

AYOT SAINT LAWRENCE, 1945




ACT I


The library in the house of Isaac Newton in Cambridge in the year
1680.  It is a cheerful room overlooking the garden from the first
floor through a large window which has an iron balcony outside,
with an iron staircase down to the garden level.  The division of
the window to the left as you look out through it is a glass door
leading to these stairs, making the room accessible from the
garden.  Inside the room the walls are lined with cupboards below
and bookshelves above.  To the right of the window is a stand-up
writing desk.  The cupboards are further obstructed by six chairs
ranged tidily along them, three to the right of the window and
three to the left (as you look out).  Between them a table
belonging to the set of chairs stands out in the middle with
writing materials on it and a prodigious open Bible, made for a
church lectern.  A comfortable chair for the reader faces away from
the window.  On the reader's left is a handsome armchair,
apparently for the accommodation of distinguished visitors to the
philosopher.

Newton's housekeeper, a middle aged woman of very respectable
appearance, is standing at the desk working at her accounts.

A serving maid in morning deshabille comes in through the interior
door, which is in the side wall to the left of the window (again as
you look out through it).


THE MAID.  Please, Mrs Basham, a Mr Rowley wants to know when the
master will be at home to receive him.

MRS BASHAM.  Rowley?  I dont know him.  This is no hour to call on
Mr Newton.

THE MAID.  No indeed, maam.  And look at me! not dressed to open the
door to gentlefolk.

MRS BASHAM.  Is he a gentleman?  Rowley is not much of a name.

THE MAID.  Dressed like a nobleman, maam.  Very tall and very dark.
And a lot of dogs with him, and a lackey.  Not a person you could
shut the door in the face of, maam.  But very condescending, I must
say.

MRS BASHAM.  Well, tell him to come back at half past eleven; but I
can't promise that Mr Newton will be in.  Still, if he likes to
come on the chance.  And without his dogs, mind.  Our Diamond would
fight with them.

THE MAID.  Yes, maam: I'll tell him [going].

MRS BASHAM.  Oh, Sally, can you tell me how much is three times
seven.  You were at school, werent you?

SALLY.  Yes, maam; but they taught the boys to read, write, and
cipher.  Us girls were only taught to sew.

MRS BASHAM.  Well, never mind.  I will ask Mr Newton.  He'll know,
if anybody will.  Or stop.  Ask Jack the fish hawker.  He's
paunching the rabbit in the kitchen.

SALLY.  Yes, maam.  [She goes].

MRS BASHAM.  Three sixpences make one and sixpence and three
eightpences make two shillings: they always do.  But three
sevenpences!  I give it up.

Sally returns.

SALLY.  Please, maam, another gentleman wants Mr Newton.

MRS BASHAM.  Another nobleman?

SALLY.  No, maam.  He wears leather clothes.  Quite out of the
common.

MRS BASHAM.  Did he give his name?

SALLY.  George Fox, he said, maam.

MRS BASHAM.  Why, thats the Quaker, the Man in Leather Breeches.
He's been in prison.  How dare he come here wanting to see Mr
Newton?  Go and tell him that Mr Newton is not at home to the like
of him.

SALLY.  Oh, he's not a person I could talk to like that, maam.  I
dursnt.

MRS BASHAM.  Are you frightened of a man that would call a church a
steeple house and walk into it without taking off his hat?  Go this
instant and tell him you will raise the street against him if he
doesn't go away.  Do you hear.  Go and do as I tell you.

SALLY.  I'd be afraid he'd raise the street against us.  I will do
my best to get rid of him without offence.  [She goes].

MRS BASHAM [calling after her]  And mind you ask Jack how much
three times seven is.

SALLY [outside]  Yes'm.

Newton, aged 38, comes in from the garden, hatless, deep in
calculation, his fists clenched, tapping his knuckles together to
tick off the stages of the equation.  He stumbles over the mat.

MRS BASHAM.  Oh, do look where youre going, Mr Newton.  Someday
youll walk into the river and drown yourself.  I thought you were
out at the university.

NEWTON.  Now dont scold, Mrs Basham, dont scold.  I forgot to go
out.  I thought of a way of making a calculation that has been
puzzling me.

MRS BASHAM.  And you have been sitting out there forgetting
everything else since breakfast.  However, since you have one of
your calculating fits on I wonder would you mind doing a little sum
for me to check the washing bill.  How much is three times seven?

NEWTON.  Three times seven?  Oh, that is quite easy.

MRS BASHAM.  I suppose it is to you, sir; but it beats me.  At
school I got as far as addition and subtraction; but I never could
do multiplication or division.

NEWTON.  Why, neither could I: I was too lazy.  But they are quite
unnecessary: addition and subtraction are quite sufficient.  You
add the logarithms of the numbers; and the antilogarithm of the sum
of the two is the answer.  Let me see: three times seven?  The
logarithm of three must be decimal four seven seven or thereabouts.
The logarithm of seven is, say, decimal eight four five.  That
makes one decimal three two two, doesnt it?  What's the
antilogarithm of one decimal three two two?  Well, it must be less
than twentytwo and more than twenty.  You will be safe if you put
it down as--

Sally returns.

SALLY.  Please, maam, Jack says it's twentyone.

NEWTON.  Extraordinary!  Here was I blundering over this simple
problem for a whole minute; and this uneducated fish hawker solves
it in a flash!  He is a better mathematician than I.

MRS BASHAM.  This is our new maid from Woolsthorp, Mr Newton.  You
havnt seen her before.

NEWTON.  Havnt I?  I didnt notice it.  [To Sally]  Youre from
Woolsthorp, are you?  So am I.  How old are you?

SALLY.  Twentyfour, sir.

NEWTON.  Twentyfour years.  Eight thousand seven hundred and sixty
days.  Two hundred and ten thousand two hundred and forty hours.
Twelve million six hundred and fourteen thousand, four hundred
minutes.  Seven hundred and fiftysix million eight hundred and
sixtyfour thousand seconds.  A long long life.

MRS BASHAM.  Come now, Mr Newton: you will turn the child's head
with your figures.  What can one do in a second?

NEWTON.  You can do, quite deliberately and intentionally, seven
distinct actions in a second.  How do you count seconds?
Hackertybackertyone, hackertybackertytwo, hackertybackertythree and
so on.  You pronounce seven syllables in every second.  Think of
it!  This young woman has had time to perform more than five
thousand millions of considered and intentional actions in her
lifetime.  How many of them can you remember, Sally?

SALLY.  Oh sir, the only one I can remember was on my sixth
birthday.  My father gave me sixpence: a penny for every year.

NEWTON.  Six from twentyfour is eighteen.  He owes you one and
sixpence.  Remind me to give you one and sevenpence on your next
birthday if you are a good girl.  Now be off.

SALLY.  Oh, thank you, sir.  [She goes out].

NEWTON.  My father, who died before I was born, was a wild,
extravagant, weak man: so they tell me.  I inherit his wildness,
his extravagance, his weakness, in the shape of a craze for figures
of which I am most heartily ashamed.  There are so many more
important things to be worked at: the transmutations of matter, the
elixir of life, the magic of light and color, above all, the secret
meaning of the Scriptures.  And when I should be concentrating my
mind on these I find myself wandering off into idle games of
speculation about numbers in infinite series, and dividing curves
into indivisibly short triangle bases.  How silly!  What a waste of
time, priceless time!

MRS BASHAM.  There is a Mr Rowley going to call on you at half past
eleven.

NEWTON.  Can I never be left alone?  Who is Mr Rowley?  What is Mr
Rowley?

MRS BASHAM.  Dressed like a nobleman.  Very tall.  Very dark.  Keeps
a lackey.  Has a pack of dogs with him.

NEWTON.  Oho!  So that is who he is!  They told me he wanted to see
my telescope.  Well, Mrs Basham, he is a person whose visit will be
counted a great honor to us.  But I must warn you that just as I
have my terrible weakness for figures Mr Rowley has a very similar
weakness for women; so you must keep Sally out of his way.

MRS BASHAM.  Indeed!  If he tries any of his tricks on Sally I shall
see that he marries her.

NEWTON.  He is married already.  [He sits at the table].

MRS BASHAM.  Oh!  That sort of man!  The beast!

NEWTON.  Shshsh!  Not a word against him, on your life.  He is
privileged.

MRS BASHAM.  He is a beast all the same!

NEWTON [opening the Bible]  One of the beasts in the Book of
Revelation, perhaps.  But not a common beast.

MRS BASHAM.  Fox the Quaker, in his leather breeches had the
impudence to call.

NEWTON [interested]  George Fox?  If he calls again I will see him.
Those two men ought to meet.

MRS BASHAM.  Those two men indeed!  The honor of meeting you ought
to be enough for them, I should think.

NEWTON.  The honor of meeting me!  Dont talk nonsense.  They are
great men in their very different ranks.  I am nobody.

MRS BASHAM.  You are the greatest man alive, sir.  Mr Halley told me
so.

NEWTON.  It was very wrong of Mr Halley to tell you anything of
the sort.  You must not mind what he says.  He is always pestering
me to publish my methods of calculation and to abandon my serious
studies.  Numbers!  Numbers!  Numbers!  Sines, cosines, hypotenuses,
fluxions, curves small enough to count as straight lines, distances
between two points that are in the same place!  Are these
philosophy?  Can they make a man great?

He is interrupted by Sally, who throws open the door and announces
visitors.

SALLY.  Mr Rowley and Mr Fox.

King Charles the Second, aged 50, appears at the door, but makes
way for George Fox the Quaker, a big man with bright eyes and a
powerful voice in reserve, aged 56.  He is decently dressed; but
his garments are made of leather.

CHARLES.  After you, Mr Fox.  The spiritual powers before the
temporal.

FOX.  You are very civil, sir; and you speak very justly.  I thank
you [he passes in].

Sally, intensely impressed by Mr Rowley, goes out.

FOX.  Am I addressing the philosopher Isaac Newton?

NEWTON.  You are, sir.  [Rising]  Will your noble friend do me the
honor to be seated in my humble dwelling?

Charles bows and takes the armchair with easy grace.

FOX.  I must not impose on you by claiming the gentleman as my
friend.  We met by chance at your door; and his favorite dog was
kind enough to take a fancy to me.

CHARLES.  She is never mistaken, sir.  Her friends are my friends,
if so damaged a character as mine can claim any friends.

NEWTON [taking a chair from the wall and placing it near his table
to his left]  Be seated, Mr Fox, pray.

FOX.  George Fox at your service, not Mister.  But I am very
sensible of your civility.  [He sits].

NEWTON [resuming his seat at the table]  It seems that it is I who
am at your service.  In what way can I oblige you?

FOX.  As you remind me, I have come here uninvited.  My business
will keep while you discharge yours with this nobleman--so called.

CHARLES.  I also am uninvited, Pastor.  I may address you so both
truthfully and civilly, may I not?

FOX.  You have found the right word.  I tended my father's sheep
when I was a child.  Now I am a pastor of men's souls.

CHARLES.  Good.  Well, Pastor, I must inform you I have no business
here except to waste our host's invaluable time and to improve my
own, if he will be good enough to allow me such a liberty.  Proceed
then with your business; and take no notice of me.  Unless, that
is, you would prefer me to withdraw.

FOX.  I have no business in this world that all men may not hear:
the more the better.

CHARLES.  I guessed as much; and confess to an unbounded curiosity
to hear what George Fox can have to say to Isaac Newton.  It is not
altogether an impertinent curiosity.  My trade, which is a very
unusual one, requires that I should know what Tom, Dick and Harry
have to say to oneanother.  I find you two gentlemen much more
interesting and infinitely more important.

MRS BASHAM [posted behind Newton's chair]  What is your business,
Mr Rowley?  Mr Newton has much to do this morning.  He has no time
for idle conversation.

NEWTON.  I had forgotten to make this lady known to you, gentlemen.
Mrs Basham: my housekeeper, and the faithful guardian of my hours.

CHARLES.  Your servant, Mistress Basham.

FOX.  God be with you, woman.

NEWTON.  Mr Rowley is a gentleman of great consequence, Mrs Basham.
He must not be questioned as if he were Jack the fish hawker.  His
business is his lather's business.

CHARLES.  No, no.  My father's business is abolished in England: he
was executed for practising it.  But we keep the old signboard up
over the door of the old shop.  And I stand at the shop door in my
father's apron.  Mrs Basham may ask me as many questions as she
pleases; for I am far less important now in England than Jack the
fish hawker.

MRS BASHAM.  But how do you live, sir?  That is all I meant to ask.

CHARLES.  By my wits, Mistress Basham: by my wits.  Come, Pastor:
enough of me.  You are face to face with Isaac Newton.  I long to
hear what you have to say to him.

FOX.  Isaac Newton: I have friends who belong to the new so-called
Royal Society which the King has established, to enquire, it seems,
into the nature of the universe.  They tell me things that my mind
cannot reconcile with the word of God as revealed to us in the Holy
Scriptures.

NEWTON.  What is your warrant for supposing that revelation ceased
when King James's printers finished with the Bible?

FOX.  I do not suppose so.  I am not one of those priestridden
churchmen who believe that God went out of business six thousand
years ago when he had called the world into existence and written
his book about it.  We three sitting here together may have a
revelation if we open our hearts and minds to it.  Yes: even to
you, Charles Stuart.

CHARLES: The mind of Charles Stuart is only too open, Pastor.

MRS BASHAM.  What did you call the gentleman, Mr Fox?

CHARLES.  A slip of the tongue, Mistress Basham.  Nowhere in Holy
writ, Pastor, will you find any disapproval of Paul when he changed
his name from Saul.  Need you be more scrupulous than the apostles?

FOX.  It is against my sinful nature to disoblige any man; so Mr
Rowley you shall be if you so desire.  But I owed it to you to let
you know that I was not deceived by your new name.

CHARLES.  I thank you, Pastor.  Your sinful nature makes you the
best mannered man in the kingdom.  And now, what about the
revelations?

FOX.  I am troubled.  I cannot conceive that God should contradict
himself.  How must the revelation of today be received if it be
contrary to the revelation of yesterday?  If what has been revealed
to you, Isaac Newton, be true, there is no heaven above us and no
hell beneath us.  The sun which stood still upon Gibeon and the
moon in the Valley of Ajalon had stood still since the creation of
the world.

NEWTON.  Do not let that trouble you, Pastor.  Nothing has ever
stood still for an instant since the creation of the world: neither
the sun, the moon, the stars, nor the smallest particle of matter,
except on two occasions.

CHARLES.  Two!  I remember only one.

NEWTON.  Yes, sir: two.  The first was when the sun stood still on
Gibeon to give Joshua time to slaughter the Amorites.  The second
was when the shadow on the dial of Ahaz went ten degrees backward
as a sign from God to good King Hezekiah who was dying of a boil
until the prophet Isaiah made them put a lump of figs on it.

MRS BASHAM.  There is nothing like a poultice of roasted figs to
cure a gumboil.  And to think that is because it is in the Holy
Bible!  I never knew it.

NEWTON.  On reflection, the sun has stopped three times; for it
must have stopped for an infinitesimal moment when it turned back,
and again when it resumed its course.

FOX.  I thank God that you are not an unbeliever and would not make
me one.

NEWTON.  My good friend, there is nothing so wonderful that a
philosopher cannot believe it.  The philosopher sees a hundred
miracles a day where the ignorant and thoughtless see nothing but
the daily round, the common task.  Joshua was an ignorant soldier.
Had he been a philosopher he would have known that to stop the
nearest speck of dust would have served his turn as well as to stop
the sun and moon; for it could not have stopped without stopping
the whole machinery of the heavens.  By the way, Mrs Basham, the
fact that the sun and moon were visible at the same time may help
me to fix the day on which the miracle occurred.  [To the others]
Excuse me, gentlemen: I have written a chronological history of the
world; and the dates give me some trouble.

CHARLES.  Did not the late Archbishop Ussher fix the dates of
everything that ever happened?

NEWTON.  Unfortunately he did not allow for the precession of the
equinoxes.  I had to correct some of his results accordingly.

CHARLES.  And, saving the pastor's presence, what the divvle is the
precession of the equinoxes?

FOX.  I am sinful enough to be glad that you are as ignorant as
myself.  I suffer greatly from shame at my ignorance.

NEWTON.  Shame will not help you, Pastor.  I spend my life
contemplating the ocean of my ignorance.  I once boasted of having
picked up a pebble on the endless beach of that ocean.  I should
have said a grain of sand.

CHARLES.  I can well believe it.  No man confronted with the
enormity of what he does not know can think much of what he does
know.  But what is the precession of the equinoxes?  If I fire off
those words at court the entire peerage will be prostrate before
the profundity of my learning.

MRS BASHAM.  Oh, tell the gentlemen, Mr Newton; or they will be here
all day.

NEWTON.  It is quite simple: a child can understand it.  The two
days in the year on which the day and night are of equal duration
are the equinoxes.  In each successive sidereal year they occur
earlier.  You will see at once that this involves a retrograde
motion of the equinoctial points along the ecliptic.  We call that
the precession of the equinoxes.

FOX.  I thank you, Isaac Newton.  I am as wise as I was before.

MRS BASHAM.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr Newton,
injuring the poor gentlemen's brains with such outlandish words.
You must remember that everybody is not as learned as you are.

NEWTON.  But surely it is plain to everybody--

MRS BASHAM.  No: it isnt plain to anybody, Mr Newton.

SALLY [bursting in]  Mr Rowley: theres a lady in a coach at the
door wants to know are you ready to take a drive with her.

CHARLES.  Any name?

SALLY.  No, sir.  She said youd know.

CHARLES.  A duchess, would you say?

SALLY.  Oh no, sir.  Spoke to me quite familiar.

CHARLES.  Nelly!  Mr Newton: would you like to be introduced to
Mistress Gwynn, the famous Drury Lane actress?

MRS BASHAM [turning imperatively to Charles]  Oh, I couldnt allow
that, Mr Rowley.  I am surprised at you mentioning such a person in
my presence.

CHARLES.  I apologize.  I did not know that you disapproved of the
playhouse, Mrs Basham.

MRS BASHAM.  I do not disapprove of the playhouse, sir.  My
grandfather, who is still alive and hearty, was befriended in his
youth by Mr William Shakespear, a wellknown player and writer of
comedies, tragedies, and the like.  Mr Shakespear would have died
of shame to see a woman on the stage.  It is unnatural and wrong.
Only the most abandoned females would do such a thing.

CHARLES.  Still, the plays are more natural with real women in
them, are they not?

MRS BASHAM.  Indeed they are not, Mr Rowley.  They are not like
women at all.  They are just like what they are; and they spoil the
play for anyone who can remember the old actors in the women's
parts.  They could make you believe you were listening to real
women.

CHARLES.  Pastor Fox: have you ever spoken with a female player?

FOX [shuddering]  I!  No, sir: I do not frequent such company.

CHARLES.  Why not, Pastor?  Is your charity so narrow?  Nell is no
worse than Mary Magdalen.

MRS BASHAM.  I hope Mary Magdalen made a good end and was forgiven;
though we are nowhere told so.  But I should not have asked her
into my house.  And at least she was not on the stage.  [She
retires behind Newton's chair].

CHARLES.  What do you say, Pastor?  Is Nelly not good enough for
you?

FOX.  Sir: there is nobody who is not good enough for me.  Have I
not warned our Christian friends who are now captives in Barbary
not to forget that the life of God and the power of God are in
their heathen masters the Turks and the Moors as well as in
themselves?  Is it any the less in this player woman than in a Turk
or a Moor?  I am not afraid of her.

CHARLES.  And you, Mr Newton?

NEWTON.  Women enter a philosopher's life only to disturb it.  They
expect too much attention.  However, Mistress Gwynn has called to
take you away, not to interrupt my work on fluxions.  And if you
will condescend to go down to her she need not come up to us.  [He
rises in dismissal of the King].

CHARLES [rising]  I see I must take my leave.

Nelly dashes in.  Sally withdraws.

NELLY.  Rowley darling: how long more are you going to keep me
waiting in the street?

CHARLES.  You are known to everyone present, Mistress Gwynn, I
think.  May I make our host known to you?  The eminent philosopher,
Mr Newton.

NELLY [going past Charles to Newton]  I dont know what a
philosopher is, Mr Newton; but you look one, every inch.  Your
servant, sir.  [She curtsies to him].

NEWTON.  Yours, madam.  I am ashamed that you should have been kept
waiting at the wrong side of my door.

NELLY.  It is an honor to be seen at your door, Mr Newton.
[Looking round her]  And who keeps your house so beautifully?  I
thought philosophers were like Romish priests, not allowed to
marry.

NEWTON.  Is my house beautifully kept?  I have never noticed it.
This is Mrs Basham, my housekeeper.  [He sits resignedly].

NELLY.  You never noticed it!  You dont deserve such a housekeeper.
Your servant, Mrs Basham.

Mrs Basham bows stiffly, trying not to be flattered.

CHARLES.  The other gentleman is the famous founder of the sect of
Quakers.

FOX.  Of Friends, Friend Rowley.

NELLY [running to Fox].  I know.  I know.  The man in the leather
breeches.

FOX [stubbornly seated]  I am also known as George Fox.

NELLY [clapping him on the shoulder]  What of that?  Anybody might
be George Fox; but there is only one man in the leather breeches.
Your servant, George.

FOX.  Yours, Nelly.

NELLY.  There!  Nelly!  [She goes to the wall for a chair and
plants it at Fox's left, quite close].  If I may add you to the
list of my beaus I shall be the proudest woman in London.

FOX.  I did not found the order of beaus.  I founded that of
Friends.

NELLY.  Ten times better.  Our beaus are our foes: they care for
nothing but to steal our honor.  Pray for me, Friend Fox: I think
you have God by the ear closer than the bishops.

FOX.  He is closer to you than you have placed yourself to me.  Let
no priest come between you.

CHARLES.  We must not waste any more of Mr Newton's time, Mistress
Gwynn.  He is at work on fluxions.

NELLY.  On what?

CHARLES.  Fluxions I think you said, Mr Newton.

NELLY.  What are fluxions?

CHARLES.  Mr Newton will tell you.  I should be glad to know,
myself.

NEWTON.  Fluxions, madam, are the rates of change of continuously
varying quantities.

NELLY.  I must go home and think about that, Mr Philosopher.

NEWTON [very seriously]  I shall be much indebted to you, madam, if
you will communicate to me the result of your reflections.  The
truth is, I am not quite satisfied that my method--or perhaps I had
better say the notation of my method--is the easiest that can be
devised.  On that account I have never cared to publish it.

NELLY.  You really think I could teach you something, Mr Newton?
What a compliment!  Did you hear that, Rowley darling?

NEWTON.  In these very simple matters one may learn from anyone.
And you, madam, must have very remarkable mental powers.  You
repeat long parts from memory in the theatre.  I could not do that.

NELLY.  Bless me, so I do, Mr Newton.  You are the first man I ever
met who did not think an actress must be an ignorant ninny--except
schoolboys, who think she is a goddess.  I declare you are the
wisest man in England, and the kindest.

CHARLES.  And the busiest, Nelly.  Come.  He has given us as much
of his time as we have any right to ask for.

NELLY.  Yes, I know.  I am coming.  [She rises and goes to Charles,
whose left arm she takes].  May I come again, Mr Newton?

NEWTON [rising]  No no no no no, madam, I cannot entertain ladies.
They do not fit into my way of life.  Mr Rowley: you are well known
to be as interested in ladies as I am interested in the Scriptures;
and I thank you for bringing this very attractive sample for my
diversion--

NELLY [as if tasting a sweet]  Oh!

NEWTON [continuing]--but sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof--

NELLY [in violent protest]  Oh!!!

NEWTON.--and I beg you will bring no more ladies here until I have
time to set aside a day of relaxation for their reception.

NELLY.  We must go, Rowley darling.  He doesnt want us.

CHARLES.  You are fortunate, Mr Newton, in suffering nothing worse
than Nell.  But I promise you your house shall be a monastery
henceforth.

As Charles and Nell turn to the door to go out, the Duchess of
Cleveland, 39, formerly Lady Castlemaine, and born Barbara
Villiers, bursts into the room and confronts them in a tearing
rage.

BARBARA.  Ah!  I have caught you, have I, with your trull.  This is
the scientific business which made it impossible for you to see me
this morning.

CHARLES.  Be silent for a moment, Barbara, whilst I present you to
Mr Newton, the eminent philosopher, in whose house you are an
uninvited guest.

BARBARA.  A pretty house.  A pretty philosopher.  A house kept for
you to meet your women in.

MRS BASHAM [coming indignantly to the middle of the room]  Oh!  Mr
Newton: either this female leaves the house this instant or I do.

BARBARA.  Do you know, woman, that you are speaking of the Duchess
of Cleveland?

MRS BASHAM.  I do not care who I am speaking of.  If you are the
Duchess of Cleveland and this house were what you said it was you
would be only too much at home in it.  The house being what it is
you are out of place in it.  You go or I go.

BARBARA.  You insolent slut, I will have you taken to the Bridewell
and whipped.

CHARLES.  You shall not, Barbara.  If you do not come down with me
to your carriage without another word, I will throw you downstairs.

BARBARA.  Do.  Kill me; and be happy with that low stage player.
You have been unfaithful to me with her a thousand times.

NEWTON.  Patience, patience, patience.  Mrs Basham: the lady is not
in a state of reason: I will prove to you that what she says has no
sense and need not distress us.  [To Barbara]  Your Grace alleges
that Mr Rowley has been unfaithful to you a thousand times.

BARBARA.  A hundred thousand times.

NEWTON.  For each unfaithfulness allow a day--or shall I say a
night?  Now one hundred thousand nights are almost two hundred and
seventyfour years.  To be precise, 273 years 287 days, allowing 68
days for Leap Year every four years.  Now Mr Rowley is not 300
years old: he is only fifty, from which you must deduct at least
fifteen years for his childhood.

BARBARA.  Fourteen.

NEWTON.  Let us say fourteen.  Probably your Grace was also
precocious.  How many years shall we strike off your age for the
days of your innocence?

NELL.  Five at most.

BARBARA.  Be silent, you.

NEWTON.  Say twelve.  That makes you in effect about twentyeight.

BARBARA.  Have I denied it?

NELL.  Flatterer!

NEWTON.  Twentyeight to Mr Rowley's thirtysix.  Your grace has been
available since, say, the year 1652, twentyeight years ago.  My
calculation is therefore correct.

BARBARA.  May I ask what you mean by available?

NEWTON.  I mean that the number of occasions on which Mr Rowley
could possibly be unfaithful to you is ten thousand two hundred and
twenty plus seven for leap years.  Yet you allege one hundred
thousand occasions, and claim to have lived for nearly three
centuries.  As that is impossible, it is clear that you have been
misinformed about Mistress Gwynn.

Nell claps vigorously.

BARBARA [to Newton]  Are you mocking me, sir?

NEWTON.  Figures cannot mock, because they cannot feel.  That is
their great quality, and their great fault.  [He goes to the door].
And now may I have the honor of conducting your Grace to your
coach--or is it one of those new fangled sedan chairs?  Or would
your Grace prefer to be thrown down my humble staircase by Mr
Rowley?  It has twentyfour steps, in two flights.

BARBARA.  I will not leave this house until that player woman has
gone first.  [She strides past them and plants herself in Newton's
chair].

NELL.  After all, dear, it's Mr Newton's house and not ours.  He
was in the act of putting me out when you burst in.  I stayed only
because I wanted to see you in one of those tantrums of yours that
Rowley so often tells me about.  I might copy them on the stage.

BARBARA.  He dares talk to you about me!!

NELL.  He talks to me about everything, dear, because I let him get
in a word occasionally, which is more than you do.

BARBARA [to Charles]  Will you stand there and let me be insulted
by this woman?

CHARLES [with conviction]  Barbara: I am tired of your tantrums.  I
made you a duchess: you behave like a streetwalker.  I pensioned
you and packed you off to Paris; you have no business to be here.
Pastor: what have you to say to all this?  You are the oldest and
wisest person present, are you not?

FOX.  Fiftysix.  And still a child in wisdom.

BARBARA [contemptuously, noticing Fox for the first time]  What
does this person know about women?

FOX.  Only what the woman in myself teaches me.

NELL.  Good for leather breeches!  What do you think of her,
George?

FOX.  She prates overmuch about unfaithfulness.  The man Rowley
cannot be unfaithful to her because he has pledged no faith to her.
To his wife only can he be unfaithful.

CHARLES.  Wrong, Pastor.  You do not know my wife.  To her only I
can never be unfaithful.

NELL.  Yes: you are kind to us; but we are nothing to you.
[Sighing]  I would change places with her.

BARBARA.  Will you order this common player to be silent in my
presence?

NELL.  It is not fair of her to keep mentioning my profession when
I cannot decently mention hers.

With a scream of rage the duchess rises to fly at Nell, but is
seized by Fox, who drags down her raised fists and throws her back
into the chair.

FOX [sternly]  Woman: behave yourself.  In any decent English
village you would go to the ducking stool to teach you good manners
and gentle speech.  You must control yourself--

He is interrupted by the clangor of a church bell, which has a
terrible effect on him.

FOX [in a thundering voice, forgetting all about the duchess]  Ha!
I am called: I must go.

He makes for the door but is stopped by Charles, who, releasing
Nell, shuts it quickly and posts himself with his back to it.

CHARLES.  Stop.  You are going to brawl in church.  You will be
thrown into prison; and I shall not be able to save you.

FOX.  The bell, the bell.  It strikes upon my life.  I am called.
Earthly kings cannot stay me.  Let me pass.

CHARLES.  Stand back, Mr Fox.  My person is sacred.

NEWTON.  What is the matter?

CHARLES.  The church bell: it drives him mad.  Someone send and
stop it.

The bell stops.

FOX.  God has stopped it.  [He falls on his knees and collapses,
shivering like a man recovering from a fit].

Charles and Newton help him to his feet and lead him back to his
chair.

FOX [to Charles]  Another stroke, and I should not have answered
for your life.

BARBARA.  You must control yourself, preacher.  In any decent
English village you would be put in the stocks to teach you good
manners.

FOX.  Woman: I have been put in the stocks; and I shall be put
there again.  But I will continue to testify against the steeple
house and the brazen clangor of its belfries.

MRS BASHAM.  Now Mr Fox.  You must not say such things here.

FOX.  I tell you that from the moment you allow this manmade
monster called a Church to enter your mind your inner light is like
an extinguished candle; and your soul is plunged in darkness and
damned.  There is no atheist like the Church atheist.  I have
converted many a poor atheist who would have been burnt or hanged
if God had not sent him into my hands; but I have never converted a
churchman: his answer to everything is not his God, but the Church,
the Church, the Church.  They burn each other, these churchmen:
they persecute: they do wickednesses of which no friend of God
would be capable.

MRS BASHAM.  The Popish Church, not the Protestant one, Mr Fox.

FOX.  All, all, all of them.  They are all snares of the devil.
They stand between Man and his Maker, and take on themselves divine
powers when they lack divine attributes.  Am I to hold my peace in
the face of this iniquity?  When the bell rings to announce some
pitiful rascal twaddling in his pulpit, or some fellow in a cassock
pretending to bind and loose, I hear an Almighty Voice call "George
Fox, George Fox: rise up: testify: unmask these impostors: drag
them down from their pulpits and their altars; and let it be known
that what the world needs to bring it back to God is not Churchmen
but Friends, Friends of God, Friends of man, friendliness and
sincerity everywhere, superstition and pulpit playacting nowhere."

CHARLES.  Pastor: it is not given to every man as it has been to
you to make a religion for himself.  A ready-made Church is an
indispensable convenience for most of us.  The inner light must
express itself in music, in noble architecture, in eloquence: in a
word, in beauty, before it can pass into the minds of common men.
I grant you the clergy are mostly dull dogs; but with a little
disguise and ritual they will pass as holy men with the ignorant.
And there are great mysteries that must be symbolized, because
though we feel them we do not know them, Mr Newton having not yet
discovered their nature, in spite of all his mathematics.  And this
reminds me that we are making a most unwarrantable intrusion on our
host's valuable time.  Mr Newton: on my honor I had no part in
bringing upon you this invasion of womanhood.  I hasten to take
them away, and will wait upon you at some happier moment.  Come,
ladies: we must leave Mr Newton to his mathematics.  [He is about
to go to the door.  Barbara rises to accompany him].

NEWTON [stopping him]  I must correct that misunderstanding, sir.
I would not have you believe that I could be so inhospitable as to
drive away my guests merely to indulge in the trifling pursuit of
mathematical calculation, which leads finally nowhere.  But I have
more serious business in hand this morning.  I am engaged in a
study of the prophecies in the book of Daniel.  [He indicates the
Bible].  It may prove of the greatest importance to the world.  I
beg you to allow me to proceed with it in the necessary solitude.
The ladies have not wasted my time: I have to thank her Grace of
Cleveland for some lights on the Book of Revelation suggested to me
by her proceedings.  But solitude--solitude absolutely free from
the pleasant disturbance of ladies' society--is now necessary to
me; and I must beg you to withdraw.

Sally, now dressed in her best, throws the door open from without,
and proudly announces--

SALLY.  Her Grace the Duchess of Portsmouth.

Louise de Kéroualle, a Frenchwoman who at 30 retains her famous
babyish beauty, appears on the threshold.

NEWTON [beside himself]  Another woman!  Take her away.  Take them
all away.  [He flings himself into his chair at the table and
buries his face in his hands].

CHARLES.  Louise: it is unlike you to pursue me.  We are unwelcome
here.

LOUISE [coming over to him]  Pursue you!  But I have never been so
surprised in my life as to find you here.  And Nelly!  And her
Grace of Cleveland back from Paris!  What are you all doing here?
I came to consult Mr Newton, the alchemist.  [Newton straightens up
and stares].  My business with him is private: it is with him, not
with you, cheri.  I did not know he was holding a reception.

CHARLES.  Mr Newton is not an alchemist.

LOUISE.  Pardon me: he is.

CHARLES.  Mr Newton: are you an alchemist?

NEWTON.  My meditations on the ultimate constitution of matter have
convinced me that the transmutation of metals, and indeed of all
substances, must be possible.  It is occurring every day.  I
understand that you, Mr Rowley, have a private laboratory at
Whitehall, in which you are attempting the fixation of mercury.

CHARLES.  Without success, Mr Newton.  I shall give it up and try
for the philosopher's stone instead.

FOX.  Would you endanger your souls by dabbling in magic?  The
scripture says "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."  Do you
think that God is fonder of sorcerers and wizards than of witches?
If you count the wrath of God as nothing, and are above the law by
your rank, are you not ashamed to believe such old wives' tales as
the changing of lead into gold by the philosopher's stone?

NEWTON.  Pastor Fox: I thank you for your well-meant warning.  Now
let me warn you.  The man who begins by doubting the possibility of
the philosopher's stone soon finds himself beginning to doubt the
immortality of the soul.  He ends by doubting the existence of the
soul.  There is no witchcraft about these things.  I am as certain
of them as I am of the fact that the world was created four
thousand and four years before the birth of our Lord.

FOX.  And what warrant have you for that?  The Holy Bible says
nothing of your four thousand and four.  It tells us that the world
was created "in the beginning": a mighty word.  "In the beginning"!
Think of it if you have any imagination.  And because some fool in
a steeplehouse, dressed up like a stage player in robes and mitre,
dares to measure the days of the Almighty by his kitchen clock, you
take his word before the word of God!  Shame on you, Isaac Newton,
for making an idol of an archbishop!  There is no credulity like
the credulity of philosophers.

NEWTON.  But the archbishop has counted the years!  My own
chronology of the world has been founded on his calculation.  Do
you mean to tell me that all the labor I have bestowed on that book
has been wasted?

FOX.  Sinfully wasted.

NEWTON.  George Fox: you are an infidel.  Leave my house.

FOX [rising]  Your philosophy has led you to the conclusion that
George Fox is an infidel.  So much the worse for your philosophy!
The Lord does not love men that count numbers.  Read second Samuel,
chapter twentyfour: the book is before you.  Good morning; and God
bless you and enlighten you.  [He turns to go].

CHARLES.  Stay, Pastor.  [He makes Fox sit down again and goes to
Newton, laying a hand on his shoulder].  Mr Newton: the word
infidel is not one to be used hastily between us three.  Old Tom
Hobbes, my tutor, who was to me what Aristotle was to Alexander the
Great, was called an infidel.  You yourself, in spite of your
interest in the book of Daniel, have been suspected of doubting
whether the apple falls from the tree by the act of God or by a
purely physical attraction.  Even I, the head of the Church, the
Defender of the Faith, stand between the Whigs who suspect me of
being a Papist and the Tories who suspect me of being an atheist.
Now the one thing that is true of all three of us is that if the
common people knew our real minds they would hang us and bury us in
unconsecrated ground.  We must stand together, gentlemen.  What
does it matter to us whether the world is four thousand years old,
or, as I should guess, ten thousand?

NEWTON.  The world ten thousand years old!  Sir: you are mad.

NELL [shocked]  Rowley darling: you mustnt say such things.

BARBARA.  What business is it of yours, pray?  He has always defied
God and betrayed women.  He does not know the meaning of the word
religion.  He laughed at it in France.  He hated it in Scotland.
In England he believes nothing.  He loves nothing.  He fears
nothing except having to go on his travels again, as he calls it.
What are ten thousand years to him, or ten million?

FOX.  Are ten million years beyond the competence of Almighty God?
They are but a moment in His eyes.  Four thousand years seem an
eternity to a mayfly, or a mouse, or a mitred fool called an
archbishop.  Are we mayflies?  Are we mice?  Are we archbishops?

MRS BASHAM.  Mr Fox: I have listened to too much blasphemy this
morning.  But to call an archbishop a mitred fool and compare him
to a mouse is beyond endurance.  I cannot believe that God will
ever pardon you for that.  Have you no fear of hell?

FOX.  How shall I root out the sin of idolatry from this land?
Worship your God, woman, not a dressed-up priest.

MRS BASHAM.  The archbishop is not a graven image.  And when he is
officiating he is not in the likeness of anything in the heavens
above or on the earth beneath.  I am afraid you do not know your
catechism, Mr Fox.

CHARLES [laughing]  Excellent, Mrs Basham.  Pastor: she has
gravelled you with the second commandment.  And she has put us to
shame for quarrelling over a matter of which we know nothing.  By
the way, where were we when we began to quarrel?  I have clean
forgotten.

LOUISE.  It was my business with Mr Newton, I think.  Nellie: will
you take our sovereign lord away and leave me to speak with the
alchemist in private?

CHARLES.  Mr Newton: not for worlds would I deprive you of a tête-
à-tête with her Grace of Portsmouth.  Pastor: you will accompany
us.  Nellie: you will come with the pastor.  But first I must throw
the Duchess of Cleveland downstairs [moving towards her].

BARBARA [screaming and making for the door]  Coward!  Help!
Murder!  [She rushes out].

CHARLES.  Your servant, Mrs Basham.

Mrs Basham curtsies.  Charles salutes her and goes out.

NELL [beckoning to Fox]  Come on, leather breeches.

FOX [rising and going towards the door]  Well, what you are, God
made you.  I am bound to be your friend.

NELL [taking his arm as he passes]  I am proud of your friendship,
George.

They go out arm in arm.

Louise, being now the person of highest rank present, follows them
as far as the armchair, in which she seats herself with
distinguished elegance.

LOUISE [to Mrs Basham]  Madam: may I have a moment alone with the
alchemist?

NEWTON.  You certainly may not, your Grace.  I will not have Mr
Locke and his friends accuse me of having relations with women.  If
your business cannot be discussed before Mrs Basham it cannot be
discussed with me.  And you will please not speak of me as "the
alchemist" as you might speak of the apothecary or the chimney
sweep.  I am by profession--if it can be called a profession--a
philosopher.

LOUISE.  Pardon: I am not habituated to your English manners.  It
is strange to me that a philosopher should need a chaperon.  In
France it is I who should need one.

NEWTON.  You are quite safe with me and Mrs Basham, madam.  What is
your business?

LOUISE.  I want a love charm.

NEWTON.  A what?

LOUISE.  A love charm.  Something that will make my lover faithful
to me if I drop it into his tay.  And mind! it must make him love
me, and not love everybody.  He is far too amorous already of every
pretty woman he meets.  I make no secret of who he is: all the
world knows it.  The love charm must not do him any harm; for if we
poison the king we shall be executed in the most horrible manner.
It must be something that will be good for him.

NEWTON.  And peculiar to yourself?  Not to Mistress Gwynn?

LOUISE.  I do not mind Nellie: she is a dear, and so helpful when
there is any trouble or illness.  He picked her up out of the
gutter; but the good God sometimes drops a jewel there: my nurse, a
peasant woman, was worth a thousand duchesses.  Yes: he may have
Nellie: a change is sometimes good for men.

MRS BASHAM [fearfully shocked]  Oh!  Mr Newton: I must go.  I
cannot stay and listen to this French lady's talk.  [She goes out
with dignity].

LOUISE.  I shall never understand the things that Englishwomen are
prudish about.  And they are so extraordinarily coarse in other
things.  May I stay, now that your chaperon has gone?

NEWTON: You will not want to stay when I tell you that I do not
deal in love potions.  Ask the nearest apothecary for an
aphrodisiac.

LOUISE.  But I cannot trust a common apothecary: it would be all
over the town tomorrow.  Nobody will suspect you.  I will pay any
price you like.

NEWTON.  I tell you, madam, I know nothing about such things.  If I
wished to make you fall in love with me--which God forbid!--I
should not know how to set about it.  I should learn to play some
musical instrument, or buy a new wig.

LOUISE.  But you are an alchemist: you must know.

NEWTON.  Then I am not an alchemist.  But the changing of Bodies
into Light and Light into Bodies is very conformable to the Course
of Nature, which seems delighted with Transmutations.

LOUISE.  I do not understand.  What are transmutations?

NEWTON.  Never mind, madam.  I have other things to do than to
peddle love charms to the King's ladies.

LOUISE [ironically]  Yes: to entertain the Duchess of Cleveland and
Mistress Gwynn, and hire a mad preacher to amuse them!  What else
have you to do that is more important than my business with you?

NEWTON.  Many other things.  For instance, to ascertain the exact
distance of the sun from the earth.

LOUISE.  But what a waste of time!  What can it possibly matter
whether the sun is twenty miles away or twentyfive?

NEWTON.  Twenty or twentyfive!!!  The sun is millions and millions
of miles from the earth.

LOUISE.  Oh!  Oh!!  Oh!!!  You are quite mad, Monsieur Nieuton.  At
such a distance you could not see it.  You could not feel its heat.
Well, you cannot see it so plainly here as in France, nor so often;
but you can see it quite plainly sometimes.  And you can feel its
heat.  It burns your skin, and freckles you if you are sandyhaired.
And then comes a little cloud over it and you shiver with cold.
Could that happen if it were a thousand miles away?

NEWTON.  It is very very large, madam.  It is one million three
hundred thousand times heavier than the earth.

LOUISE.  My good Monsieur Nieuton: do not be so fanciful.
[Indicating the window]  Look at it.  Look at it.  It is much
smaller than the earth.  If I hold up a sou--what you call a ha-
pen-ny--before my eye, it covers the sun and blots it out.  Let me
teach you something, Monsieur Nieuton.  A great French philosopher,
Blaise Pascal, teached me this.  You must never let your imagination
run away with you.  When you think of grandiose things--hundreds of
millions and things like that--you must continually come down to
earth to keep sane.  You must see: you must feel: you must measure.

NEWTON.  That is very true, madam.  Above all, you must measure.
And when you measure you find that many things are bigger than they
look.  The sun is one of them.

LOUISE [rising and going to the table to coax him]  Ah!  You are
impossible.  But you will make me a love potion, will you not?

NEWTON.  I will write you a prescription, madam.

He takes a sheet of paper and writes the prescription.  Louise
watches as he writes.

LOUISE.  Aqua?  But aqua is only water, monsieur.

NEWTON.  Water with a cabalistic sign after it, madam.

LOUISE.  Ah, parfaitement.  And this long magical word, what is it?
Mee-kah-pah-nees.  What is that?

NEWTON.  Micapanis, madam.  A very powerful lifegiving substance.

LOUISE.  It sounds wonderful.  Is it harmless?

NEWTON.  The most harmless substance in the world, madam, and the
most precious.

LOUISE.  Truly you are a great man, Monsieur Nieuton, in spite of
your millions of miles.  And this last word here?

NEWTON.  Only sugar, to sweeten the micapanis, but with the
cabalistic sign after it.  Here is your love charm, madam.  But it
is not a potion: the apothecary will make it into pills for you.

LOUISE [taking the paper and tucking it into the bosom of her
dress]  Good.  That is better, much better.  It is so much easier
to make men take pills than drink potions.  And now, one thing
more.  You must swear to give this prescription to no other woman
of the court.  It is for me alone.

NEWTON.  You have my word of honor, madam.

LOUISE.  But a word of honor must be a gentleman's word of honor.
You, monsieur, are a bourgeois.  You must swear on your Bible.

NEWTON.  My word is my word, madam.  And the Bible must not be
mixed up with the magic of micapanis.

LOUISE.  Not black magic, is it?  I could not touch that.

NEWTON.  Neither black nor white, madam.  Shall we say grey?  But
quite harmless, I assure you.

LOUISE.  Good.  And now I must make you a little present for your
pills.  How much shall it be?

NEWTON.  Keep your money for the apothecary, madam: he will be
amply satisfied with five shillings.  I am sufficiently rewarded by
the sound scientific advice you have given me from your friend
Blaise Pascal.  He was anticipated by an Englishman named Bacon,
who was, however, no mathematician.  You owe me nothing.

LOUISE.  Shall I give one of the new golden guineas to the lady I
shocked if I meet her on the stairs?

NEWTON.  No.  She would not take it.

LOUISE.  How little you know the world, Monsieur!  Nobody refuses a
golden guinea.

NEWTON.  You can try the experiment, madam.  That would be the
advice of your friend Pascal.  [He goes to the door, and opens it
for her].

LOUISE.  Perhaps I had better make it two guineas.  She will never
refuse that.

NEWTON [at the door, calling]  Sally!

LOUISE [with a gracious inclination of her head]  Monsieur--

NEWTON.  I wish your Grace good morning.

SALLY [at the door]  Yes, sir?

NEWTON.  Shew her Grace the Duchess of Portsmouth to her chair or
whatever it is.

LOUISE.  Au plaisir de vous revoir, Monsieur le philosophe.

The Duchess goes out, Sally making her a rustic curtsey as she
passes, and following her out, leaving Newton alone.

NEWTON [greatly relieved]  Ouf!

He returns to his place at the table and to his Bible, which,
helped by a marker, he opens at the last two chapters of the book
of Daniel.  He props his head on his elbows.

NEWTON.  Twelve hundred and ninety days.  And in the very next
verse thirteen hundred and thirtyfive days.  Five months
difference!  And the king's daughter of the south: who was she?
And the king of the south?  And he that cometh against him?  And
the vile person who obtains the kingdom by flatteries?  And
Michael?  Who was Michael?  [He considers this a moment; then
suddenly snatches a sheet of paper and writes furiously].

SALLY [throwing open the door, bursting with pride]  His Royal
Highness the Duke of York.

The Duke, afterwards James II, comes in precipitately.

JAMES [imperiously]  Where is his Majesty the King?

NEWTON [rising in ungovernable wrath]  Sir: I neither know nor care
where the King is.  This is my house; and I demand to be left in
peace in it.  I am engaged in researches of the most sacred
importance; and for them I require solitude.  Do you hear, sir?
solitude!

JAMES.  Sir: I am the Duke of York, the King's brother.

NEWTON: I am Isaac Newton, the philosopher.  I am also an
Englishman; and my house is my castle.  At least it was until this
morning, when the whole court came here uninvited.  Are there not
palaces for you and the court to resort to?  Go away.

JAMES.  I know you.  You are a follower of the arch infidel
Galileo!

NEWTON.  Take care, sir.  In my house the great Galileo shall not
be called an infidel by any Popish blockhead, prince or no prince.
Galileo had more brains in his boots than you have in your whole
body.

JAMES.  Had he more brains in his boots than the Catholic Church?
Than the Pope and all his cardinals, the greatest scholars of his
day?  Is there more learning in your head than in the libraries of
the Vatican?

NEWTON.  Popes and cardinals are abolished in the Church of
England.  Only a fool would set up these superstitious idolaters
against the Royal Society, founded by your royal brother for the
advancement of British science.

JAMES.  A club of damnable heretics.  I shall know how to deal with
them.

NEWTON [rising in a fury and facing him menacingly]  Will you leave
my house, or shall I throw you out through the window?

JAMES.  You throw me out!  Come on, you scum of a grammar school.

They rush at one another, and in the scuffle fall on the floor,
Newton uppermost.  Charles comes in at this moment.

CHARLES.  Odsfish, Mr Newton, whats this?  A wrestling match?

Newton hastily rolls off James.  The two combatants remain sitting
on the floor, staring up at Charles.

CHARLES.  And what the divvle are you doing here, Jamie?  Why arnt
you in Holland?

JAMES.  I am here where I have been thrown by your friend and
protégé, the infidel philosopher Newton.

CHARLES.  Get up, man: dont play the fool.  Mr Newton: your
privilege with me does not run to the length of knocking my brother
down.  It is a serious matter to lay hands on a royal personage.

NEWTON.  Sir: I had no intention of knocking your royal brother
down.  He fell and dragged me down.  My intention was only to throw
him out of the window.

CHARLES.  He could have left by the door, Mr Newton.

NEWTON.  He could; but he would not, in spite of my repeated
requests.  He stayed here to heap insults on the immortal Galileo,
whose shoe latchet he is unworthy to unloose.

He rises and confronts the King with dignity.

CHARLES.  Will you get up, Jamie, and not sit on the floor grinning
like a Jackanapes.  Get up, I tell you.

JAMES [rising]  You see what comes of frequenting the houses of
your inferiors.  They forget themselves and take liberties.  And
you encourage heretics.  I do not.

CHARLES.  Mr Newton: we are in your house and at your orders.  Will
you allow my brother and myself to have this room to ourselves
awhile?

NEWTON.  My house is yours, sir.  I am a resolute supporter of the
Exclusion Bill because I hope to prove that the Romish Church is
the little horn of the fourth beast mentioned by the prophet
Daniel.  But the great day of wrath is not yet come.  Your brother
is welcome here as long as you desire it.

Newton goes out.  Charles takes the armchair.  When he is seated
James takes Newton's chair at the table.

JAMES.  That fellow is crazy.  He called me a Popish blockhead.
You see what comes of encouraging these Protestants.  If you had a
pennorth of spunk in you you would burn the lot.

CHARLES.  What I want to know is what you are doing here when you
should be in Holland.  I am doing what I can to stop this Exclusion
Bill and secure the crown for you when I die.  I sent you to
Holland so that your talent for making yourself unpopular might be
exercised there and not here.  Your life is in danger in London.
You had no business to come back.  Why have you done it?

JAMES.  Charles: I am a prince.

CHARLES.  Oh, do I not know it, God help you!

JAMES.  Our father lost his head by compromising with Protestants,
Republicans, Levellers and Atheists.  What did he gain by it?  They
beheaded him.  I am not going to share his fate by repeating that
mistake.  I am a Catholic; and I am civil to none but Catholics,
however unpopular it may make me.  When I am king--as I shall
be, in my own right, and not by the leave of any Protestant
parliamentary gang--I shall restore the Church and restore the
monarchy: yes, the monarchy, Charles; for there has been no real
Restoration: you are no king, cleverly as you play with these Whigs
and Tories.  That is because you have no faith, no principles: you
dont believe in anything; and a man who doesnt believe in anything
is afraid of everything.  Youre a damned coward, Charles.  I am
not.  When I am king I shall reign: these fellows shall find what a
king's will is when he reigns by divine right.  They will get it
straight in the teeth then; and Europe will see them crumble up
like moths in a candle flame.

CHARLES.  It is a funny thing, Jamie, that you, who are clever
enough to see that the monarchy is gone and that I keep the crown
by my wits, are foolish enough to believe that you have only to
stretch out your clenched fist and take it back again.  I sometimes
ask myself whether it would not be far kinder of me to push the
Exclusion Bill through and save you from the fate of our father.
They will have your head off inside of five years unless you jump
into the nearest fishing smack and land in France.

JAMES.  And leave themselves without a king again!  Not they: they
had enough of that under old Noll's Major-Generals.  Noll knew how
to rule: I will say that for him; and I thank him for the lesson.
But when he died they had to send for us.  When they bully you you
give in to them and say that you dont want to go on your travels
again.  But by God, if they try to bully me I will threaten to go
on my travels and leave them without a king.  That is the way to
bring them down on their marrowbones.

CHARLES.  You could not leave them without a king.  Protestant
kings--Stuart kings--are six a penny in Europe today.  The Dutch
lad's grandfather-in-law was our grandfather.  Your daughter Mary
is married to him.  The Elector of Hanover has the same hook on to
grandfather James.  Both of them are rank Protestants and hardened
soldiers, caring for nothing but fighting the French.  Besides Mary
there is her sister Anne, Church of England to the backbone.  With
the Protestants you do not succeed by divine right: they take their
choice and send for you, just as they sent for me.

JAMES.  Yes, if you look at it in that way and let them do it.
Charles: you havnt the spirit of a king: that is what is the matter
with you.  As long as they let you have your women, and your dogs,
and your pictures, and your music, and your chemical laboratory,
you let them do as they like.  The merry monarch: thats what you
are.

CHARLES.  Something new in monarchs, eh?

JAMES.  Psha!  A merry monarch is no monarch at all.

CHARLES.  All the same, I must pack you off to Scotland.  I cannot
have you here until I prorogue parliament to get rid of the
Exclusion Bill.  And you will have to find a Protestant husband for
Anne: remember that.

JAMES.  You pretend you are packing me off to save me from my
Catholic unpopularity.  The truth is you are jealous of my
popularity.

CHARLES.  No, Jamie: I can beat you at that game.  I am an
agreeable sort of fellow: old Newcastle knocked that into me when I
was a boy.  Living at the Hague on two hundred and forty pounds a
year finished my education in that respect.  Now you, Jamie, became
that very disagreeable character a man of principle.  The people,
who have all sorts of principles which they havnt gathered out of
your basket, will never take to you until you go about shouting No
Popery.  And you will die rather than do that: wont you?

JAMES.  Certainly I shall; and so, I trust, would you.  Promise me
you will die a Catholic, Charles.

CHARLES.  I shall take care not to die in an upstart sect like the
Church of England, and perhaps lose my place in Westminster Abbey
when you are king.  Your principles might oblige you to throw my
carcase to the dogs.  Meanwhile, however popular you may think
yourself, you must go and be popular in Scotland.

JAMES.  I am popular everywhere: thats what you dont understand
because you are not a fighting man; and I am.  In the British
Isles, Charles, nothing is more popular than the navy; and nobody
is more popular than the admiral who has won a great naval victory.
Thats what I have done, and you havnt.  And that puts me ahead of
you with the British people every time.

CHARLES.  No doubt; but the British people do not make kings in
England.  The crown is in the hands of the damned Whig squirearchy
who got rich by robbing the Church, and chopped off father's head,
crown and all.  They care no more for your naval victory than for a
bunch of groundsel.  They would not pay for the navy if we called
it ship money, and let them know what they are paying for.

JAMES.  I shall make them pay.  I shall not be their puppet as you
are.  Do you think I will be in the pay of the king of France,
whose bitter bread we had to eat in our childhood, and who left our
mother without firewood in the freezing winter?  And all this
because these rebellious dogs will not disgorge enough of their
stolen wealth to cover the cost of governing them!  If you will not
teach them their lesson they shall learn it from me.

CHARLES.  You will have to take your money where you can get it,
Jamie, as I do.  French money is as good as English.  King Louis
gets little enough for it: I take care of that.

JAMES.  Then you cheat him.  How can you stoop?

CHARLES.  I must.  And I know that I must.  To play the king as you
would have me I should need old Noll's army; and they took good
care I should not have that.  They grudge me even the guards.

JAMES.  Well, what old Noll could do I can do; and so could you if
you had the pluck.  I will have an army too.

CHARLES.  Of Protestants?

JAMES.  The officers will be Catholics.  The rank and file will be
what they are ordered to be.

CHARLES.  Where will you get the money to pay them?  Old Noll had
the city of London and its money at his back.

JAMES.  The army will collect the taxes.  How does King Louis do
it?  He keeps the biggest army in Europe; and he keeps you into the
bargain.  He hardly knows what a parliament is.  He dragoons the
Protestants out of France into Spitalfields.  I shall dragoon them
out of Spitalfields.

CHARLES.  Where to?

JAMES.  To hell, or to the American plantations, whichever they
prefer.

CHARLES.  So you are going to be the English Louis, the British Roi
Soleil, the sun king.  This is a deuced foggy climate for sun
kings, Jamie.

JAMES.  So you think, Charles.  But the British climate has nothing
to do with it.  What is it that nerves Louis to do all these
things?  The climate of the Catholic Church.  His foot is on the
rock of Saint Peter; and that makes him a rock himself.

CHARLES.  Your son-in-law Dutch Billy is not afraid of him.  And
Billy's house is built, not on a rock, not even on the sands, but
in the mud of the North Sea.  Keep your eye on the Orangeman,
Jamie.

JAMES.  I shall keep my eye on your Protestant bastard Monmouth.
Why do you make a pet of that worthless fellow?  Know you not he is
longing for your death so that he may have a try for the crown
while this rascally Popish plot is setting the people against me?

CHARLES.  For my death!  What a thought!  I grant you he has not
the makings of a king in him: I am not blind to his weaknesses.
But surely he is not heartless.

JAMES.  Psha! there is not a plot in the kingdom to murder either
of us that he is not at the bottom of.

CHARLES.  He is not deep enough to be at the bottom of anything,
Jamie.

JAMES.  Then he is at the top.  I forgive him for wanting to make
an end of me: I am no friend of his.  But to plot against you, his
father! you, who have petted him and spoilt him and forgiven him
treason after treason! for that I shall not forgive him, as he
shall find if ever he falls into my hand.

CHARLES.  Jamie: this is a dreadful suspicion to put into my mind.
I thought the lad had abused my affection until it was exhausted;
but it still can hurt.  Heaven keep him out of your hand!  that is
all I can say.  Absalom!  O Absalom: my son, my son!

JAMES.  I am sorry, Charles; but this is what comes of bringing up
your bastards as Protestants and making dukes of them.

CHARLES.  Let me tell you a secret, Jamie: a king's secret.  Peter
the fisherman did not know everything.  Neither did Martin Luther.

JAMES.  Neither do you.

CHARLES.  No; but I must do the best I can with what I know, and
not with what Peter and Martin knew.  Anyhow, the long and the
short of it is that you must start for Scotland this very day, and
stay there until I send you word that it is safe for you to come
back.

JAMES.  Safe!  What are you afraid of, man?  If you darent face
these Protestant blackguards, is that any reason why I should run
away from them?

CHARLES.  You were talking just now about your popularity.  Do you
know who is the most popular man in England at present?

JAMES.  Shaftesbury, I suppose.  He is the Protestant hero just as
Nelly is the Protestant whoor.  I tell you Shaftesbury will turn
his coat as often as you crack your whip.  Why dont you crack it?

CHARLES.  I am not thinking of Shaftesbury.

JAMES.  Then who?

CHARLES.  Oates.

JAMES.  Titus Oates!  A navy chaplain kicked out of the service for
the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah!  Are you afraid of him?

CHARLES.  Yes.  At present he is the most popular man in the
kingdom.  He is lodged in my palace at Whitehall with a pension of
four hundred pounds a year.

JAMES.  What!!!

CHARLES.  And I, who am called a king, cannot get rid of him.  This
house is Isaac Newton's; and he can order you out and throw you out
of the window if you dont go.  But my house must harbor the vilest
scoundrel in Europe while he parades in lawn sleeves through the
street with his No Popery mob at his heels, and murders our best
Catholic families with his brazen perjuries and his silly Popish
plot that should not impose on a rabbit.  No man with eyes in his
head could look at the creature for an instant without seeing that
he is only half human.

JAMES.  Flog him through the town.  Flog him to death.  They can if
they lay on hard enough and long enough.  The same mob that now
takes him for a saint will crowd to see the spectacle and revel in
his roarings.

CHARLES.  That will come, Jamie.  I am hunting out his record; and
your man Jeffries will see to it that the poor divvle shall have no
mercy.  But just now it is not Oates that we have to kill: the
people would say that he was murdered by the Catholics and run
madder than ever.  They blame the Catholics now for the Great Fire
of London and the plague.  We must kill the Popish Plot first.
When we have done that, God help Titus Oates!  Meanwhile, away with
you to Scotland and try your cat-o-ninetails on the Covenanters
there.

JAMES.  Well, I suppose I must, since England is governed by its
mob instead of by its king.  But I tell you, Charles, when I am
king there shall be no such nonsense.  You jeer at me and say that
I am the protector of your life, because nobody will kill you to
make me king; but I take that as the highest compliment you could
pay me.  This mob that your Protestant Republicans and Presbyterians
and Levellers call the people of England will have to choose between
King James the Second and King Titus Oates.  And James and the
Church--and there is only one real Church of God--will see to it
that their choice will be Hobson's choice.

CHARLES.  The people of England will have nothing to do with it.
The real Levellers today, Jamie, are the lords and the rich
squires--Cromwell's sort--and the moneyed men of the city.  They
will keep the people's noses to the grindstone no matter what
happens.  And their choice will be not between you and Titus Oates,
but between your daughter Mary's Protestant husband and you.

JAMES.  He will have to cross the seas to get here.  And I, as Lord
High Admiral of England, will meet him on the seas and sink him
there.  He is no great general on land: on water he is nothing.  I
have never been beaten at sea.

CHARLES.  Jamie, Jamie: nothing frightens me so much as your simple
stupid pluck, and your faith in Rome.  You think you will have the
Pope at your back because you are a Catholic.  You are wrong: in
politics the Pope is always a Whig, because every earthly monarch's
court is a rival to the Vatican.

JAMES.  Do you suppose that if Orange Billy, the head of the
Protestant heresy in Europe, the anti-Pope you might call him,
dared to interfere with me, a Catholic king, the Pope could take
his part against me in the face of all Europe!  How can you talk
such nonsense?  Do you think Mary would share the crown if he tore
it from her father's head?  Rochester called you the king that
never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one; but it seems
to me that you talk silly-clever nonsense all day, though you are
too wise: that is, too big a coward, ever to risk a fight with the
squirearchy.  What are they in France?  Lackeys round the throne at
Versailles: not one of them dare look King Louis straight in the
face.  But in France there is a real king.

CHARLES.  He has a real army and real generals.  And taxes galore.
Old Noll went one better than Louis: he was a general himself.  And
what a general!  Preston, Dunbar, Worcester: we could no nothing
against him though we had everything on our side, except him.  I
have been looking for his like ever since we came back.  I
sometimes wonder whether Jack Churchill has any military stuff in
him.

JAMES.  What!  That henpecked booby!  I suppose you know that he
got his start in life as your Barbara's kept man?

CHARLES.  I know that the poor lad risked breaking his bones by
jumping out of Barbara's window when she was seducing him and I
came along unexpectedly.  I have always liked him for that.

JAMES.  It was worth his while.  She gave him five thousand pounds
for it.

CHARLES.  Yes: I had to find the money.  I was tremendously
flattered when I heard of it.  I had no idea that Barbara put so
high a price on my belief in her faithfulness, in which, by the
way, I did not believe.  Poor Barbara was never alone with a pretty
fellow for five minutes without finding out how much of a man he
was.  I threw Churchill in her way purposely to keep her in good
humor.  What struck me most in the affair was that Jack bought an
annuity with the money instead of squandering it as any other man
of his age would have done.  That was a sign of solid ability.  He
may be henpecked: what married man is not?  But he is no booby.

JAMES.  Meanness.  Pure meanness.  The Churchills never had a penny
to bless themselves with.  Jack got no more education than my
groom.

CHARLES.  Latin grammar is not much use on the battlefield, as we
found out.  Turenne found Jack useful enough in Spain; and Turenne
was supposed to be France's greatest general.  Your crown may
depend on Jack: by the time I die he will be as old a soldier as
Oliver was at Dunbar.

JAMES.  Never fear.  I shall buy him if he's worth it.

CHARLES.  Or if you are worth it.  Jack is a good judge of a
winner.

JAMES.  He has his price all the same.

CHARLES.  All intelligent men have, Jamie.

JAMES.  Psha!  Dont waste your witticisms on me: they butter no
parsnips.  If he can pick a winner he had better pick me.

CHARLES.  There are only two horses in the race now: the Protestant
and the Catholic.  I have to ride both at once.

JAMES.  That was what Father tried to do.  See what he got by it!

CHARLES.  See what I get by it!  Not much, perhaps; but I keep my
head on my shoulders.  It takes a man of brains to do that.  Our
father unfortunately tried his hand at being also a man of blood,
as Noll called him.  We Stuarts are no good at that game: Noll beat
us at it every time.  I hate blood and battles: I have seen too
much of them to have any dreams of glory about them.  I am, as you
say, no king.  To be what you call a king I lack military ambition;
and I lack cruelty.  I have to manage Protestants who are so
frightfully cruel that I dare not interfere with Protestant judges
who are merciless.  The penalty for high treason is so abominable
that only a divvle could have invented it, and a nation of divvles
crowd to see it done.  The only time I risked my crown was when I
stopped them after they had butchered ten of the regicides: I could
bear no more.  They were not satisfied: they dug up the body of old
Noll, and butchered it rather than have their horrible sport cut
short.

JAMES.  Serve the rascals right!  A good lesson for them and their
like.  Dont be such a mollycoddle, Charles.  What you need is a bit
of my sea training to knock the nonsense out of you.

CHARLES.  So you will try your luck as a man of blood, will you?

JAMES.  I will do what is necessary.  I will fight my enemies if
they put me to it.  I will take care that those who put me to it
shall not die easy deaths.

CHARLES.  Well, that will seem very natural to the mob.  You will
find plenty of willing tools.  But I would not light the fires of
Smithfield again if I were you.  Your pet Jeffries would do it for
you and enjoy it; but Protestants do not like being burnt alive.

JAMES.  They will have to lump it if they fly in the face of God.

CHARLES.  Oh, go to Scotland: go to Jericho.  You sicken me.  Go.

JAMES.  Charles!  We must not part like this.  You know you always
stand by me as far as you dare.  I ought not to talk to you about
government and kingcraft: you dont understand these matters and
never will; and I do understand them.  I have resolved again and
again not to mention them to you; for after all we are brothers;
and I love you in spite of all the times you have let me down with
the Protestants.  It is not your fault that you have no head for
politics and no knowledge of human nature.  You need not be anxious
about me.  I will leave for Scotland tomorrow.  But I have business
in London tonight that I will not postpone for fifty thousand Titus
Oateses.

CHARLES.  Business in London tonight!  The one redeeming point in
your character, Jamie, is that you are not a man of principle in
the matter of women.

JAMES.  You are quite wrong there: I am in all things a man of
principle and a good Catholic, thank God.  But being human I am
also a man of sin.  I confess it; and I do my penances!

CHARLES.  The women themselves are worse penances than any priest
dare inflict on you.  Try Barbara: a week with her is worse than a
month in hell.  But I have given up all that now.  Nelly is a good
little soul who amuses me.  Louise manages my French affairs.  She
has French brains and manners, and is always a lady.  But they are
now my friends only: affectionate friends, family friends, nothing
else.  And they alone are faithful to the elderly king.  I am
fifty, Jamie, fifty: dont forget that.  And women got hold of me
when I was fourteen, thirtysix years ago.  Do you suppose I have
learnt nothing about women and what you call love in that time?
You still have love affairs: I have none.  However, I am not
reproaching you: I am congratulating you on being still young and
green enough to come all the way from Holland for a night in
London.

Mrs Basham returns, much perturbed.

MRS BASHAM.  Mr Rowley: I must tell you that I cannot receive any
more of your guests.  I have not knives nor plates nor glasses
enough.  I have had to borrow chairs from next door.  Your valet,
Mr Chiffinch, tells who ever has any business with you this morning
to come on here.  Mr Godfrey Kneller, the new Dutch painter, with a
load of implements connected with his trade, had got in in spite of
me: he heard the noise your people were making.  There are the two
ladies and the player woman, and yourself and your royal brother
and Mr Fox and the painter.  That makes seven; and Mr Newton makes
eight and I make nine.  I have nothing to offer them but half a
decanter of sherry that was opened last Easter, and the remains of
a mouldy cake.  I have sent Sally out with orders that will run
away with a fortnight's housekeeping money; and that wont be half
what theyll expect.  I thought they were all going away when they
came downstairs; but the French lady wanted to look through Mr
Newton's telescope; and the jealous lady wouldnt leave until the
French lady left; and the player woman is as curious as a magpie
and makes herself as much at home as if she lived here.  It has
ended in their all staying.  And now Mr Newton is explaining
everything and shewing off his telescope and never thinking what I
am to do with them!  How am I to feed them?

CHARLES.  Dont feed them, Mrs Basham.  Starve them out.

MRS BASHAM.  Oh no: I cant do that.  What would they think of us?
Mr Newton has his position to keep up.

CHARLES.  It is the judgment of heaven on you for turning away my
pretty spaniels from your door this morning.

MRS BASHAM.  There were twelve of them, sir.

CHARLES.  You would have found them much better company than nine
human beings.  But never mind.  Sally will tell all the tradesmen
that Mr Newton is entertaining me and my brother.  They will call
themselves Purveyors to his Majesty the King.  Credit will be
unlimited.

JAMES.  Remember that this is Friday: a fast day.  All I need is
three or four different kinds of fish.

MRS BASHAM.  No, sir: in this house you will have to be content with
a Protestant dinner.  Jack the fish hawker is gone.  But he left us
a nice piece of cod; and thats all youll get, sir.

CHARLES.  Jamie: we must clear out and take the others with us.  It
seems we cannot visit anyone without ruining them.

JAMES.  Pooh!  What can a few pounds more or less matter to
anybody?

CHARLES.  I can remember when they meant a divvle of a lot to me,
and to you too.  Let us get back to Newmarket.

MRS BASHAM.  No, sir: Mr Newton would not like that: he knows his
duties as your host.  And if you will excuse me saying so, sir: you
all look as if a plain wholesome dinner would do you no harm for
once in a way.  By your leave I will go to look after it.  I must
turn them all out of the laboratory and send them up here while I
lay the table there.

She goes out.

JAMES.  "A nice piece of cod!"  Among nine people!

CHARLES.  "Isnt that a dainty dish to set before a king?"  Your
fast will be a real fast, Jamie, for the first time in your life.

JAMES.  You lie.  My penances are all real.

CHARLES.  Well, a hunk of bread, a lump of cheese, and a bottle of
ale are enough for me or for any man at this hour.

All the rest come back except Mrs Basham, Barbara, and Newton.  Fox
comes first.

FOX.  I have made eight new friends.  But has the Lord sent them to
me?  Such friends!  [He takes his old seat, much perplexed].

NELL [coming in]  Oh, Rowley darling, they want me to recite my big
speech from The Indian Emperor.  But I cant do that without proper
drapery: its classical.  [Going to the Duke]  And what is my Jamie
doing here?

LOUISE [taking a chair from the wall and planting it at Charles's
right, familiarly close]  Why not give us a prologue?  Your
prologues are your best things.  [She sits].

CHARLES and JAMES.  Yes, yes: a prologue.

All are now seated, except Nell.

NELL.  But I cant do a prologue unless I am in breeches.

FOX [rising]  No.  Eleanor Gwyn: how much more must I endure from
you?  I will not listen to a prologue that can be spoken only by a
woman in breeches.  And I warn you that when I raise my voice to
heaven against mummery, whether in playhouse or steeple-house, I
can drown and dumb the loudest ribald ranter.

CHARLES.  Pastor: Mistress Gwyn is neither a ribald nor a ranter.
The plays and prologues in which she is famous are the works of the
greatest poet of the age: the poet Laureate, John Dryden.

FOX.  If he has given to the playhouse talents that were given to
him for the service of God, his guilt is the deeper.

CHARLES.  Have you considered, Pastor, that the playhouse is a
place where two or three are gathered together?

NELL.  Not when I am playing, Rowley darling.  Two or three
hundred, more likely.

FOX [resuming his seat in the deepest perplexity]  Sir: you are
upsetting my mind.  You have forced me to make friends with this
player woman; and now you would persuade me that the playhouse is
as divine as my meeting house.  I find your company agreeable to
me, but very unsettling.

CHARLES.  The settled mind stagnates, Pastor.  Come!  Shall I give
you a sample of Mr Dryden at his best?

NELL.  Oh yes, Rowley darling: give us your pet speech from
Aurengzebe.

LOUISE.  Yes yes.  He speaks it beautifully.  He is almost as good
an actor as King Louis; and he has really more of the grand air.

CHARLES.  Thank you, Louise.  Next time leave out the almost.  My
part is more difficult than that of Louis.

JAMES.  Pray silence for his Majesty the King, who is going to make
a fool of himself to please the Quaker.

CHARLES.  Forgive Jamie, ladies and gentlemen.  He will give you
his own favorite recitation presently; but the King comes first.
Now listen.  [He rises.  They all rise, except Fox].  No, pray.  My
audience must be seated.  [They sit down again].

Charles recites the pessimistic speech from Aurengzebe as follows:

     When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
     Yet, fooled with hope, men favor the deceit;
     Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay:
     Tomorrow's falser than the former day;
     Lies worse; and, while it says we shall be blest
     With some new choice, cuts off what we possessed.

     Strange cozenage!  None would live past years again;
     Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
     And from the dregs of life think to receive
     What the first sprightly running could not give.
     I'm tired of waiting for this chemic gold
     Which fools us young, and beggars us when old.

Nell and Louise applaud vigorously.

CHARLES.  What do you think of that, Pastor?  [He sits].

FOX.  It is the cry of a lost soul from the bottomless blackness of
its despair.  Never have I heard anything so terrible.  This man
has never lived.  I must seek him out and shew him the light and
the truth.

NELL.  Tut tut, George!  The man in the play is going to be killed.
To console himself he cries Sour Grapes: that is all.  And now what
shall I give you?

JAMES.  Something oldfashioned.  Give him a bit of Shakespear.

NELL.  What!  That author the old actors used to talk about.
Kynaston played women in his plays.  I dont know any.  We cannot
afford them nowadays.  They require several actors of the first
quality; and--would you believe it, George?--those laddies will not
play now for less than fifteen shillings a week.

FOX [starting up again]  Fifteen shillings a week to a player when
the servants of God can scarce maintain themselves alive by working
at mechanical trades!  Such wickedness will bring a black judgment
on the nation.  Charles Stuart: have you no regard for your soul
that you suffer such things to be done?

CHARLES.  You would not grudge these poor fellows their fifteen
shillings if you knew what women cost.

FOX.  What manner of world is this that I have come into?  Is
virtue unknown here, or is it despised?  [He gives it up, and
relapses into his seat].

JAMES.  Mr Dryden has an answer for that.  [He recites, seated].

     How vain is virtue which directs our ways
     Through certain danger to uncertain praise!
     The world is made for the bold impious man
     Who stops at nothing, seizes all he can.
     Justice to merit does weak aid afford;
     She trusts her balance, and ignores her sword.
     Virtue is slow to take whats not her own,
     And, while she long consults, the prize is gone.

FOX.  I take no exception to this.  I have too good reason to know
that it is true.  But beware how you let these bold impious fellows
extinguish hope in you.  Their day is short; but the inner light is
eternal.

JAMES.  I am safe in the bosom of my Church, Pastor.

LOUISE.  Take the gentleman's mind off his inner light, Nell.  Give
us a speech.

NELL.  They dont want a speech from me.  Rowley began talking about
speeches because he wanted to do one himself.  And now His Highness
the Duke of York must have his turn.

JAMES.  Are we poor devils of princes not to have any of the good
things, nor do any of the pleasant things, because we are Royal
Highnesses?  Were you not freer and happier when you sold oranges
in Drury Lane than you are now as a court lady?

FOX.  Did you sell oranges in Drury Lane?

NELL.  They say I did.  The people like to believe I did.  They
love me for it.  I say nothing.

CHARLES.  Come!  Give us one of Cydara's speeches from The Indian
Emperor.  It was in that that you burst on the world as the
ambitious orange girl.

NELL.  A wretched part: I had to stand mum on the stage for hours
while the others were spouting.  Mr Dryden does not understand how
hard that is.  Just listen to this, the longest speech I had.

     May I believe my eyes!  What do I see?
     Is this her hate to him? her love to me?
     'Tis in my breast she sheathes her dagger now.
     False man: is this thy faith?  Is this thy vow?

Then somebody says something.

CHARLES.

     What words, dear saint, are these I hear you use?
     What faith? what voice? are those which you accuse?

NELL.  "Those which you accuse": thats my cue.

     More cruel than the tiger o'er his spile
     And falser than the weeping crocodile
     Can you add vanity to guilt, and take
     A pride to hear the conquests which you make?
     Go: publish your renown: let it be said
     The woman that you love you have betrayed--

Rowley darling: I cannot go on if you keep laughing at me.  If only
Mr Dryden had given me some really great lines, like the ones he
gave to Montezuma.  Listen.

     Still less and less my boiling spirits flow
     And I grow stiff, as cooling metals do.
     Farewell, Almira.

FOX.  Now do you tell me that living men and women, created by God
in His likeness and not in that of gibbering apes, can be bribed to
utter such trash, and that others will pay to hear them do it when
they will not enter a meeting house for a penny in the plate to
hear the words of God Himself?  What society is this I am in?  I
must be dreaming that I am in hell.

NELL.  George: you are forgetting yourself.  You should have
applauded me.  I will recite no more for you.  [She takes a chair
from the wall and seats herself beside Louise, on her right].

CHARLES.  He does not understand, Nell.  Tell him the story of the
play, and why Montezuma says such extravagant things.

NELL.  But how can I, Rowley darling?  I dont know what it is all
about: I know only my part and my cue.  All I can say is that when
Montezuma speaks those lines he drops dead.

FOX.  Can you wonder that he does so?  I should drop dead myself if
I heard such fustian pass my lips.

JAMES.  Is it worse than the fustian that passes the lips of the
ranters in your conventicles?

FOX.  I cannot deny it: the preachers are a greater danger than the
players.  I had not thought of this before.  Again you unsettle my
mind.  There is one Jeremy Collier who swears he will write such a
book on the profaneness and immorality of the stage as will either
kill the theatre or shame it into decency; but these lines just
uttered by Eleanor Gwyn are not profane and immoral: they are mad
and foolish.

LOUISE.  All the less harmful, monsieur.  They are not meant to be
taken seriously; and no one takes them so.  But your Huguenot
ranters pretend to be inspired; and foolish people are deluded by
them.  And what sort of world would they make for us if they got
the upper hand?  Can you name a single pleasure that they would
leave us to make life worth living?

FOX.  It is not pleasure that makes life worth living.  It is life
that makes pleasure worth having.  And what pleasure is better than
the pleasure of holy living?

JAMES.  I have been in Geneva, blasphemously called the City of God
under that detestable Frenchman Calvin, who, thank God, has by now
spent a century in hell.  And I can testify that he left the
wretched citizens only one worldly pleasure.

CHARLES.  Which one was that?

JAMES.  Moneymaking.

CHARLES.  Odsfish! that was clever of him.  It is a very satisfying
pleasure, and one that lasts til death.

LOUISE.  It does not satisfy me.

CHARLES.  You have never experienced it, Louise.  You spend money:
you do not make it.  You spend ten times as much as Nelly; but you
are not ten times as happy.  If you made ten times as much as she,
you would never tire of it and never ask for anything better.

LOUISE.  Charles: if I spent one week making money or even thinking
about it instead of throwing it away with both hands all my charm
would be gone.  I should become that dull thing, a plain woman.  My
face would be full of brains instead of beauty.  And you would send
me back to France by the next ship, as you sent Barbara.

CHARLES.  What if I did?  You will soon be tired of me; for I am an
ugly old fellow.  But you would never tire of moneymaking.

NELL.  Now the Lord be praised, my trade is one in which I can make
money without losing my good looks!

LOUISE [to Charles]  If you believe what you say, why do you not
make money yourself instead of running after women?

CHARLES.  Because there is a more amusing occupation for me.

LOUISE.  I have not seen you practise it, Charles.  What is it?

CHARLES.  Kingcraft.

JAMES.  Of which you have not the faintest conception.

CHARLES.  Like Louise, you have not seen me practise it.  But I am
King of England; and my head is still on my shoulders.

NELL.  Rowley darling: you must learn to keep King Charles's head
out of your conversation.  You talk too much of him.

CHARLES.  Why is it that we always talk of my father's head and
never of my great grandmother's?  She was by all accounts a pretty
woman; but the Protestants chopped her head off in spite of
Elizabeth.  They had Strafford's head off in spite of my father.
And then they had his own off.  I am not a bit like him; but I have
more than a touch in me of my famous grandfather Henry the Fourth
of France.  And he died with a Protestant's dagger in his heart:
the deadliest sort of Protestant: a Catholic Protestant.  There are
such living paradoxes.  They burnt the poor wretch's hand off with
the dagger in it, and then tore him to pieces with galloping
horses.  But Henry lay dead all the same.  The Protestants will
have you, Jamie, by hook or crook: I foresee that: they are the
real men of blood.  But they shall not have me.  I shall die in my
bed, and die King of England in spite of them.

FOX.  This is not kingcraft: it is chicanery.  Protestantism gives
the lie to itself: it overthrows the Roman Church and immediately
builds itself another nearer home and makes you the head of it,
though it is now plain to me that your cleverness acknowledges no
Church at all.  You are right there: Churches are snares of the
divvle.  But why not follow the inner light that has saved you from
the Churches?  Be neither Catholic nor Protestant, Whig nor Tory:
throw your crown into the gutter and be a Friend: then all the rest
shall be added to you.

They all laugh at him except Charles.

CHARLES.  A crown is not so easy to get rid of as you think,
Pastor.  Besides, I have had enough of the gutter: I prefer
Whitehall.

JAMES [to Fox]  You would like to have a king for your follower,
eh?

FOX.  I desire Friends, not followers.  I am simple in my tastes.
I am not schooled and learned as you two princes are.

CHARLES.  Thank your stars for that, Pastor: you have nothing to
unlearn.

FOX.  That is well said.  Too often have I found that a scholar is
one whose mind is choked with rubbish that should never have been
put there.  But how do you come to know this?  Things come to my
knowledge by the Grace of God; yet the same things have come to you
who live a most profane life and have no sign of grace at all.

CHARLES.  You and I are mortal men, Pastor.  It is not possible for
us to differ very greatly.  You have to wear leather breeches lest
you be mistaken for me.

Barbara storms in with a sheet of drawing paper in her hand.

BARBARA [thrusting the paper under Charles's nose]  Do you see
this?

CHARLES [scrutinizing it admiringly]  Splendid!  Has Mr Kneller
done this?  Nobody can catch a likeness as he can.

BARBARA.  Likeness!  You have bribed him to insult me.  It makes me
look a hundred.

CHARLES.  Nonsense, dear.  It is you to the life.  What do you say,
Jamie?  [He hands the drawing to James].

JAMES.  It's you, duchess.  He has got you, wrinkle for wrinkle.

BARBARA.  You say this to my face!  You, who have seen my portrait
by Lilly!

NELL.  You were younger then, darling.

BARBARA.  Who asked you for your opinion, you jealous cat?

CHARLES.  Sit down; and dont be silly, Barbara.  A woman's face
does not begin to be interesting until she is our age.

BARBARA.  Our age!  You old wreck, do you dare pretend that you are
as young as I am?

CHARLES.  I am only fifty, Barbara.  But we are both getting on.

BARBARA.  Oh!  [With a scream of rage she tears the drawing to
fragments and stamps on them].

CHARLES.  Ah, that was wicked of you: you have destroyed a fine
piece of work.  Go back to France.  I tell you I am tired of your
tantrums.

Barbara, intimidated, but with a defiant final stamp on the
drawing, flings away behind James to one of the chairs against the
cupboards, and sits there sulking.

Newton comes in from the garden, followed by Godfrey Kneller, a
Dutchman of 34, well dressed and arrogant.  They are both almost as
angry as Barbara.

NEWTON.  Mr Kneller: I will dispute with you no more.  You do not
understand what you are talking about.

KNELLER.  Sir: I must tell you in the presence of His Majesty you
are a most overweening, a most audacious man.  You presume to teach
me my profession.

CHARLES.  What is the matter, Mr Newton?

NEWTON.  Let it pass, Mr Rowley.  This painter has one kind of
understanding: I have another.  There is only one course open to us
both; and that is silence.  [Finding his chair occupied by the Duke
of York he takes another from beside Barbara and seats himself at
the side of the table on the Duke's left].

CHARLES.  Mr Newton is our host, Mr Kneller; and he is a very
eminent philosopher.  Will you not paint his picture for me?  That
can be done in silence.

KNELLER.  I will paint his picture if your Majesty so desires.  He
has an interesting head: I should have drawn it this morning had
not Her Grace of Cleveland insisted on my drawing her instead.  But
how can an interesting head contain no brain: that is the question.

CHARLES.  Odsfish, man, he has the greatest brain in England.

KNELLER.  Then he is blinded by his monstrous conceit.  You shall
judge between us, sir.  Am I or am I not the greatest draughtsman
in Europe?

CHARLES.  You are certainly a very skilful draughtsman, Mr Kneller.

KNELLER.  Can anyone here draw a line better than I?

CHARLES.  Nobody here can draw a line at all, except the Duchess of
Cleveland, who draws a line at nothing.

BARBARA.  Charles--

CHARLES.  Be quiet, Barbara.  Do not presume to contradict your
King.

KNELLER.  If there is a science of lines, do I not understand it
better than anyone?

CHARLES.  Granted, Mr Kneller.  What then?

KNELLER.  This man here, this crazy and conceited philosopher,
dares to assert in contradiction of me, of ME! that a right line is
a straight line, and that everything that moves moves in a straight
line unless some almighty force bends it from its path.  This, he
says, is the first law of motion.  He lies.

CHARLES.  And what do you say, Mr Kneller?

KNELLER.  Sir: I do not say: I know.  The right line, the line of
beauty, is a curve.  My hand will not draw a straight line: I have
to stretch a chalked string on my canvas and pluck it.  Will you
deny that your duchess here is as famous for her beauty as the
Psyche of the divine Raphael?  Well, there is not a straight line
in her body: she is all curves.

BARBARA [outraged, rising]  Decency, fellow!  How dare you?

CHARLES.  It is true, Barbara.  I can testify to it.

BARBARA.  Charles: you are obscene.  The impudence!  [She sits].

KNELLER.  The beauty, madam.  Clear your mind of filth.  There is
not a line drawn by the hand of the Almighty, from the rainbow in
the skies to the house the snail carries on his back, that is not a
curve, and a curve of beauty.  Your apple fell in a curve.

NEWTON.  I explained that.

KNELLER.  You mistake explanations for facts: all you sciencemongers
do.  The path of the world curves, as you yourself have shewn; and
as it whirls on its way it would leave your apple behind if the
apple fell in a straight line.  Motion in a curve is the law of
nature; and the law of nature is the law of God.  Go out into your
garden and throw a stone straight if you can.  Shoot an arrow from
a bow, a bullet from a pistol, a cannon ball from the mightiest
cannon the King can lend you, and though you had the strength of
Hercules, and gunpowder more powerful than the steam which hurls
the stones from Etna in eruption, yet cannot you make your arrow or
your bullet fly straight to its mark.

NEWTON [terribly perturbed]  This man does not know what he is
saying.  Take him away; and leave me in peace.

CHARLES.  What he says calls for an answer, Mr Newton.

JAMES.  The painter is right.  A cannon ball flies across the sea
in curves like the arches of a bridge, hop, hop, hop.  But what
does it matter whether it flies straight or crooked provided it
hits between wind and water?

NEWTON.  To you, admiral, it matters nothing.  To me it makes the
difference between reason and madness.

JAMES.  How so?

NEWTON.  Sir: if what this man believes be true, then not only is
the path of the cannon ball curved, but space is curved; time is
curved; the universe is curved.

KNELLER.  Of course it is.  Why not?

NEWTON.  Why not!  Only my life's work turned to waste, vanity,
folly.  This comes of admitting strangers to break into my holy
solitude with their diabolical suggestions.  But I am rightly
rebuked for this vice of mine that led me to believe that I could
construct a universe with empty figures.  In future I shall do
nothing but my proper work of interpreting the scriptures.  Leave
me to that work and to my solitude.  [Desperately, clutching his
temples]  Begone, all of you.  You have done mischief enough for
one morning.

CHARLES.  But, Mr Newton, may we not know what we have done to move
you thus?  What diabolical suggestions have we made?  What mischief
have we done?

NEWTON.  Sir: you began it, you and this infidel quaker.  I have
devoted months of my life to the writing of a book--a chronology of
the world--which would have cost any other man than Isaac Newton
twenty years hard labor.

CHARLES.  I have seen that book, and been astounded at the mental
power displayed in every page of it.

NEWTON.  You may well have been, Mr Rowley.  And now what have you
and Mr Fox done to that book?  Reduced it to a monument of the
folly of Archbishop Ussher, who dated the creation of the world at
four thousand and four, B.C., and of my stupidity in assuming that
he had proved his case.  My book is nonsense from beginning to end.
How could I, who have calculated that God deals in millions of
miles of infinite space, be such an utter fool as to limit
eternity, which has neither beginning nor end, to a few thousand
years?  But this man Fox, without education, without calculation,
without even a schoolboy's algebra, knew this when I, who was born
one of the greatest mathematicians in the world, drudged over my
silly book for months, and could not see what was staring me in the
face.

JAMES.  Well, why howl about it?  Bring out another edition and
confess that your Protestant mathematics are a delusion and a
snare, and your Protestant archbishops impostors.

NEWTON.  You do not know the worst, sir.  I have another book in
hand: one which should place me in line with Kepler, Copernicus,
and Galileo as a master astronomer, and as the completer of their
celestial systems.  Can you tell me why the heavenly bodies in
their eternal motion do not move in straight lines, but always in
ellipses?

CHARLES.  I understand that this is an unsolved problem of science.
I certainly cannot solve it.

NEWTON.  I have solved it by the discovery of a force in nature
which I call gravitation.  I have accounted for all the celestial
movements by it.  And now comes this painter, this ignorant dauber
who, were it to save his soul--if he has a soul--could not work out
the simplest equation, or as much as conceive an infinite series of
numbers! this fellow substitutes for my first law of motion--
straight line motion--motion in a curve.

JAMES.  So bang goes your second volume of Protestant philosophy!
Squashed under Barbara's outlines.

BARBARA.  I will not have my outlines discussed by men.  I am not a
heathen goddess: I am a Christian lady.  Charles always encourages
infidels and libertines to blaspheme.  And now he encourages them
to insult me.  I will not bear it.

CHARLES.  Do not be an idiot, Barbara: Mr Kneller is paying you the
greatest compliment in taking you for a model of the universe.  The
choice would seem to be between a universe of Barbara's curves and
a universe of straight lines seduced from their straightness by
some purely mathematical attraction.  The facts seem to be on the
side of the painter.  But in a matter of this kind can I, as
founder of the Royal Society, rank the painter as a higher
authority than the philosopher?

KNELLER.  Your Majesty: the world must learn from its artists
because God made the world as an artist.  Your philosophers steal
all their boasted discoveries from the artists; and then pretend
they have deduced them from figures which they call equations,
invented for that dishonest purpose.  This man talks of Copernicus,
who pretended to discover that the earth goes round the sun instead
of the sun going round the earth.  Sir: Copernicus was a painter
before he became an astronomer.  He found astronomy easier.  But
his discovery was made by the great Italian painter Leonardo, born
twentyone years before him, who told all his intimates that the
earth is a moon of the sun.

NEWTON.  Did he prove it?

KNELLER.  Man: artists do not prove things.  They do not need to.
They KNOW them.

NEWTON.  This is false.  Your notion of a spherical universe is
borrowed from the heathen Ptolemy, from all the magicians who
believed that the only perfect figure is the circle.

KNELLER.  Just what such blockheads would believe.  The circle is a
dead thing like a straight line: no living hand can draw it: you
make it by twirling a pair of dividers.  Take a sugar loaf and cut
it slantwise, and you will get hyperbolas and parabolas, ellipses
and ovals, which Leonardo himself could not draw, but which any
fool can make with a knife and a lump of sugar.  I believe in none
of these mechanical forms.  The line drawn by the artist's hand,
the line that flows, that strikes, that speaks, that reveals! that
is the line that shews the divine handiwork.

CHARLES.  So you, too, are a philosopher, Mr Kneller!

KNELLER.  Sir: when a man has the gift of a painter, that
qualification is so magical that you cannot think of him as
anything else.  Who thinks of Leonardo as an engineer? of Michael
Angelo as an inventor or a sonneteer? of me as a scholar and a
philosopher?  These things are all in our day's work: they come to
us without thinking.  They are trifles beside our great labor of
creation and interpretation.

JAMES.  I had a boatswain once in my flagship who thought he knew
everything.

FOX.  Perhaps he did.  Divine grace takes many strange forms.  I
smell it in this painter.  I have met it in common sailors like
your boatswain.  The cobbler thinks there is nothing like leather--

NELL.  Not when you make it into breeches instead of boots, George.

BARBARA.  Be decent, woman.  One does not mention such garments in
well-bred society.

NELL.  Orange girls and players and such like poor folk think
nothing of mentioning them.  They have to mend them, and sometimes
to make them; so they have an honest knowledge of them, and are not
ashamed like fine ladies who have only a dishonest knowledge of
them.

CHARLES.  Be quiet, Nelly; you are making Barbara blush.

NELL.  Thats more than you have ever been able to do, Rowley
darling.

BARBARA.  It is well for you that you have all these men to protect
you, mistress.  Someday when I catch you alone I'll make you wish
you had ten pairs of leather breeches on you.

CHARLES.  Come come! no quarrelling.

NELL.  She began it, Rowley darling.

CHARLES.  No matter who began it, no quarrelling, I command.

LOUISE.  Charles: the men have been quarrelling all the morning.
Does your command apply to them too?

CHARLES.  Their quarrels are interesting, Louise.

NELL.  Are they?  They bore me to distraction.

CHARLES.  Much blood has been shed for them; and much more will be
after we are gone.

BARBARA.  Oh, do not preach, Charles.  Leave that to this person
who is dressed partly in leather.  It is his profession: it is not
yours.

CHARLES.  The Protestants will not let me do anything else, my
dear.  But come!  Mr Newton has asked us to leave his house many
times.  And we must not forget that he never asked us to come into
it.  But I have a duty to fulfil before we go.  I must reconcile
him with Mr Kneller, who must paint his portrait to hang in the
rooms of the Royal Society.

KNELLER.  It is natural that your Majesty should desire a work of
mine for the Society.  And this man's head is unusual, as one would
expect from his being a philosopher: that is, half an idiot.  I
trust your Majesty was pleased with my sketch of Her Grace of
Cleveland.

BARBARA.  Your filthy caricature of Her Grace of Cleveland is under
your feet.  You are walking on it.

KNELLER [picking up a fragment and turning it over to identify it]
Has the King torn up a work of mine?  I leave the country this
afternoon.

CHARLES.  I would much sooner have torn up Magna Carta.  Her Grace
tore it up herself.

KNELLER.  It is a strange fact, your Majesty, that no living man or
woman can endure his or her portrait if it tells all the truth
about them.

BARBARA.  You lie, you miserable dauber.  When our dear Peter
Lilly, who has just died, painted me as I really am, did I destroy
his portrait?  But he was a great painter; and you are fit only to
whitewash unmentionable places.

CHARLES.  Her Grace's beauty is still so famous that we are all
tired of it.  She is the handsomest woman in England.  She is also
the stupidest.  Nelly is the wittiest: she is also the kindest.
Louise is the loveliest and cleverest.  She is also a lady.  I
should like to have portraits of all three as they are now, not as
Lilly painted them.

LOUISE.  No, Charles: I do not want to have the whole truth about
me handed down to posterity.

NELL.  Same here.  I prefer the orange girl.

KNELLER.  I see I shall not succeed in England as a painter.  My
master Rembrandt did not think a woman worth painting until she was
seventy.

NELL.  Well, you shall paint me when I am seventy.  In the theatre
the young ones are beginning to call me Auntie!  When they call me
Old Mar Gwyn I shall be ready for you; and I shall look my very
best then.

CHARLES.  What about your portrait, Mr Fox?  You have been silent
too long.

FOX.  I am dumbfounded by this strange and ungodly talk.  To you it
may seem mere gossip; but to me it is plain that this painter
claims that his hand is the hand of God.

KNELLER.  And whose hand is it if not the hand of God?  You need
hands to scratch your heads and carry food to your mouths.  That is
all your hands mean to you.  But the hand that can draw the images
of God and reveal the soul in them, and is inspired to do this and
nothing else even if he starves and is cast off by his father and
all his family for it: is not his hand the hand used by God, who,
being a spirit without body, parts or passions, has no hands?

FOX.  So the men of the steeplehouse say; but they lie.  Has not
God a passion for creation?  Is He not all passion of that divine
nature?

KNELLER.  Sir: I do not know who you are; but I will paint your
portrait.

CHARLES.  Bravo!  We are getting on.  How about your portrait, Mr
Newton?

NEWTON.  Not by a man who lives in a curved universe.  He would
distort my features.

LOUISE.  Perhaps gravitation would distort them equally, Mr Newton.

CHARLES.  That is very intelligent of you, Louise.

BARBARA.  It takes some intelligence to be both a French spy and a
bluestocking.  I thank heaven for my stupidity, as you call it.

CHARLES.  Barbara: must I throw you downstairs?

LOUISE.  In France they call me the English spy.  But this is the
first time I have been called a bluestocking.  All I meant was that
Mr Kneller and Mr Newton seem to mean exactly the same thing; only
one calls it beauty and the other gravitation; so they need not
quarrel.  The portrait will be the same both ways.

NEWTON.  Can he measure beauty?

KNELLER.  No.  I can paint a woman's beauty; but I cannot measure
it in a pint pot.  Beauty is immeasurable.

NEWTON.  I can measure gravitation.  Nothing exists until it is
measured.  Fine words are nothing.  Do you expect me to go to the
Royal Society and tell them that the orbits of a planet are curved
because painters think them prettier so?  How much are they curved?
This man cannot tell you.  I can.  Where will they be six months
hence?  He cannot tell you.  I can.  All he has to say is that the
earth is a moon of the sun and that the line of beauty is a curve.
Can he measure the path of the moon?  Can he draw the curve?

KNELLER.  I can draw your portrait.  Can you draw mine?

NEWTON.  Yes, with a camera obscura; and if I could find a chemical
salt sensitive to light I could fix it.  Some day portraits will be
made at the street corners for sixpence apiece.

KNELLER.  A looking glass will make your portrait for nothing.  It
makes the duchess's portrait fifty times a day.

BARBARA.  It does not.  I dont look at myself in the glass fifty
times a day.  Charles never passes one without looking at himself.
I have watched him.

CHARLES.  It rebukes my vanity every time, Barbara.  I am an ugly
fellow; yet I always think of myself as an Adonis.

LOUISE.  You are not so ugly as you think, Charles.  You were an
ugly baby; and your wicked mother told you so.  You have never got
over it.  But when I was sent to England to captivate you with my
baby face, it was you who captivated me with your seventy inches
and your good looks.

BARBARA.  Ay, flatter him, flatter him: he loves it.

CHARLES.  I cannot bear this.  The subject is to be dropped.

LOUISE.  But, Charles--

CHARLES.  No, no, No.  Not a word more.  The King commands it.

Dead silence.  They sit as if in church, except Fox, who chafes at
the silence.

FOX.  In the presence of this earthly king all you great nobles
become dumb flunkeys.  What will you be when the King of Kings
calls you from your graves to answer for your lives?

NELL.  Trust you, George, to put in a cheerful word.  Rowley
darling: may we all stop being dumb flunkeys and be human beings
again?

CHARLES.  Mr Rowley apologizes for his lapse into royalty.  Only,
the King's person is not to be discussed.

LOUISE.  But, Charles, I love you when you put on your royalty.  My
king, Louis Quatorze, le grand monarque, le roi soleil, never puts
off his royalty for a moment even in the most ridiculous
circumstances.

BARBARA.  Yes; and he looks like a well-to-do grocer, and will
never look like anything else.

LOUISE.  You would not dare to say so at Versailles, or even to
think so.  He is always great; and his greatness makes us great
also.  But it is true that he is not six feet high, and that the
grand manner is not quite natural to him.  Charles can do it so
much better when he chooses.  Charles: why dont you choose?

CHARLES.  I prefer to keep the crown and the grand manner up my
sleeve until I need them.  Louis and I played together when we were
boys.  We know each other too well to be pleasant company; so I
take care to keep out of his way.  Besides, Louise, when I make you
all great you become terrible bores.  I like Nelly because nothing
can make a courtier of her.  Do you know why?

BARBARA.  Because the orange girl has the gutter in her blood.

CHARLES.  Not at all.  Tell her the reason, Nell.

NELL.  I dont know it, Rowley darling.  I never was an orange girl;
but I have the gutter in my blood all right.  I think I have
everything in my blood; for when I am on the stage I can be
anything you please, orange girl or queen.  Or even a man.  But I
dont know the reason why.  So you can tell it to her, Rowley
darling, if you know it.

CHARLES.  It is because in the theatre you are a queen.  I tell you
the world is full of kings and queens and their little courts.
Here is Pastor Fox, a king in his meeting house, though his
meetings are against the law.  Here is Mr Newton, a king in the new
Royal Society.  Here is Godfrey Kneller: a king among painters.  I
can make you duchesses and your sons dukes; but who would be mere
dukes or duchesses if they could be kings and queens?

NELL.  Dukes will be six a penny if you make all Barbara's sons
dukes.

BARBARA.  Oh!  My sons have gentle blood in their veins, not gutter
dirt.

CHARLES.  For shame, Nelly!  It was illbred of you to reproach her
Grace for the most amiable side of her character.

NELL.  I beg pardon.  God forgive me, I am no better myself.

BARBARA.  No better!  You impudent slut.

NELL.  Well, no worse, if you like.  One little duke is enough for
me.

LOUISE.  Change the subject, Charles.  What you were saying about
little kings and queens being everywhere was very true.  You are
very spiritual.

BARBARA.  Ha ha!  Ha ha ha!  He spiritual!

LOUISE.  Clever, you call it.  I am always in trouble with my
English.  And Charles is too lazy to learn French properly, though
he lived in France so long.

BARBARA.  If you mean clever, he is as clever as fifty foxes.

FOX.  He may be fifty times as clever as I; but so are many of the
blackest villains.  Value him rather for his flashes of the inner
light.  Did he not stop the butchering of the regicides on the
ground that if he punished them they could never punish themselves?
That was what made me his loyal subject.

BARBARA.  I did not mean fifty of you: I meant real foxes.  He is
so clever that he can always make me seem stupid when it suits him:
that is, when I want anything he wont give me.  He is as stingy as
a miser.

CHARLES.  You are like a dairymaid: you think there is no end to a
king's money.  Here is my Nelly, who is more careful of my money
than she is of her own.  Well, when I am dying, and all the rest of
you are forgotten, my last thought will be of Nelly.

NELL.  Rowley darling: dont make me cry.  I am not the only one.
Louise is very thoughtful about money.

BARBARA.  Yes: she knows exactly how much he has: she gets it for
him from the King of France.

LOUISE.  This subject of conversation is in the worst possible
taste.  Charles: be a king again; and forbid it.

CHARLES.  Nobody but Barbara would have introduced it.  I forbid it
absolutely.

Mrs Basham returns.

MRS BASHAM.  Mr Newton: dinner is served.

BARBARA.  You should address yourself to His Majesty.  Where are
your manners, woman?

MRS BASHAM.  In this house Mr Newton comes first.  Come along quick,
all of you; or your victuals will be cold.

NEWTON [rising]  Mr Kneller: will you take her Grace of Cleveland,
as you are interested in her curves?

BARBARA [violently]  No.  I am the senior duchess: it is my right
to be taken in by the King.

CHARLES [rising and resignedly giving her his arm]  The Duke of
York will follow with the junior duchess.  Happy man!

All rise, except Fox.

BARBARA.  Brute!  [She tries to disengage herself].

CHARLES [holding her fast]  You are on the King's arm.  Behave
yourself.  [He takes her out forcibly].

MRS BASHAM.  Now, your Highness.  Now, Madam Carwell.

JAMES [taking Louise]  You have remembered, I hope, that Madam
Carwell is a Catholic?

MRS BASHAM.  Yes: there will be enough cod for the two of you.

LOUISE.  Provided Charles does not get at it first.  Let us hurry.
[She hurries James out].

MRS BASHAM.  Will you take the player woman, Mr Kneller?

NELL.  No no.  The player woman goes with her dear old Fox.  [She
swoops on the Quaker and drags him along]  George: today you will
dine with publicans and sinners.  You will say grace for them.

FOX.  You remind me that where my Master went I must follow.  [They
go out].

MRS BASHAM.  There is no one left for you to take in, Mr Kneller.
Mr Newton must take me in and come last.

KNELLER.  I will go home.  I cannot eat in this house of straight
lines.

MRS BASHAM.  You will do nothing of the sort, Mr Kneller.  There is
a cover laid for you; and the King expects you.

NEWTON.  The lines are not straight, Mr Kneller.  Gravitation bends
them.  And at bottom I know no more about gravitation than you do
about beauty.

KNELLER.  To you the universe is nothing but a clock that an
almighty clockmaker has wound up and set going for all eternity.

NEWTON.  Shall I tell you a secret, Mr Beautymonger?  The clock
does not keep time.  If it did there would be no further need for
the Clockmaker.  He is wiser than to leave us to our foolish selves
in that fashion.  When He made a confusion of tongues to prevent
the Tower of Babel from reaching to heaven He also contrived a
confusion of time to prevent us from doing wholly without Him.  The
sidereal clock, the clock of the universe, goes wrong.  He has to
correct it from time to time.  Can you, who know everything because
you and God are both artists, tell me what is amiss with the
perihelion of Mercury?

KNELLER.  The what?

NEWTON.  The perihelion of Mercury.

KNELLER.  I do not know what it is.

NEWTON.  I do.  But I do not know what is amiss with it.  Not until
the world finds this out can it do without the Clockmaker in the
heavens who can set the hands back or forward, and move the stars
with a touch of His almighty finger as He watches over us in the
heavens.

KNELLER.  In the heavens!  In your universe there is no heaven.
You have abolished the sky.

NEWTON.  Ignoramus: there may be stars beyond our vision bigger
than the whole solar system.  When I have perfected my telescope it
will give you your choice of a hundred heavens.

MRS BASHAM.  Mr Kneller: your dinner will be cold; and you will be
late for grace.  I cannot have any more of this ungodly talk.  Down
with you to your dinner at once.

KNELLER.  In this house, you said, Mr Newton comes first.  But you
take good care that he comes last.  The mistress of this and every
other house is she who cooks the dinner.  [He goes out].

MRS BASHAM [taking Newton out]  Thats a funny fellow, sir.  But you
really should not begin talking about the stars to people just as
they are going away quietly.  It is a habit that is growing on you.
What do they know or care about the perry healing of Mercury that
interests you so much?  We shall never get these people out of the
house if--[They pass out of hearing].

There is peace in the deserted room.



ACT II


The boudoir of Catherine of Braganza, Charles's queen, in his not
too palatial quarters in Newmarket late in the afternoon on the
same day.  A prie-dieu, and the pictures, which are all devotional,
are signs of the queen's piety.  Charles, in slippers and breeches,
shirt and cravat, wrapped in an Indian silk dressing gown, is
asleep on a couch.  His coat and boots are on the carpet where he
has thrown them.  His hat and wig are on a chair with his tall
walking stick.  The door, opening on a staircase landing, is near
the head of the couch, between it and the prie-dieu.  There is a
clock in the room.

Catherine, aged 42, enters.  She contemplates her husband and the
untidiness he has made.  With a Portuguese shake of the head (about
six times) she sets to work to put the room in order by taking up
the boots and putting them tidily at the foot of the couch.  She
then takes out the coat and hangs it on the rail of the landing.
Returning, she purposely closes the door with a bang sufficient to
wake Charles.


CHARLES.  How long have I been asleep?

CATHERINE.  I not know.  Why leave you your things about all over
my room?  I have to put them away like a chambermaid.

CHARLES.  Why not send for Chiffinch?  It is his business to look
after my clothes.

CATHERINE.  I not wish to be troubled with Chiffinch when we are
alone.

CHARLES [rising]  Belovéd: you should make me put away my clothes
myself.  Why should you do chambermaid's work for me?  [His
"beloved" always has three syllables].

CATHERINE.  I not like to see you without your wig.  But I am your
wife and must put up with it.

CHARLES [getting up]  I am your husband; and I count it a great
privilege.  [He kisses her].

CATHERINE.  Yes yes; but why choose you my boudoir for your siesta?

CHARLES.  Here in our Newmarket lodging it is the only place where
the women cannot come after me.

CATHERINE.  A wife is some use then, after all.

CHARLES.  There is nobody like a wife.

CATHERINE.  I hear that Cleveland has come back from Paris.  Did
you send for her?

CHARLES.  Send for her!  I had as soon send for the divvle.  I
finished with Barbara long ago.

CATHERINE.  How often have you told me that you are finished with
all women!  Yet Portsmouth keeps her hold on you, and Nellie the
player.  And now Cleveland comes back.

CHARLES.  Beloved: you do not understand.  These women do not keep
their hold on me: I keep my hold on them.  I have a bit of news for
you about Louise.  What do you think I caught her at this morning?

CATHERINE.  I had rather not guess.

CHARLES.  Buying a love potion.  That was for me.  I do not make
love to her enough, it seems.  I hold her because she is
intelligent and ladylike and keeps me in touch with France and the
French court, to say nothing of the money I have to extract from
Louis through her.

CATHERINE.  And Nelly?  She can play the fine lady; but is she one?

CHARLES.  Nelly is a good creature; and she amuses me.  You know,
beloved, one gets tired of court ladies and their conversation,
always the same.

CATHERINE.  And you really did not send for Cleveland to come back?

CHARLES.  Beloved: when I was young I thought that there was only
one unbearable sort of woman: the one that could think of nothing
but her soul and its salvation.  But in Barbara I found something
worse: a woman who thought of nothing but her body and its
satisfaction, which meant men and money.  For both, Barbara is
insatiable.  Grab, grab, grab.  When one is done with Barbara's
body--a very fine body, I admit--what is there left?

CATHERINE.  And you are done with Barbara's body?

CHARLES.  Beloved: I am done with all bodies.  They are all alike:
all cats are grey in the dark.  It is the souls and the brains that
are different.  In the end one learns to leave the body out.  And
then Barbara is packed off to Paris, and is not asked back by me,
though I have no doubt there is some man in the case.

CATHERINE.  Why spend you so much time with me here--so much more
than you used to?

CHARLES.  Beloved: do I plague you?  I am off.

He makes for the door: she runs to it and bars his egress.

CATHERINE.  No: that is not what I meant.  Go back and sit down.

Charles obediently goes back to the couch, where they sit side by
side.

CHARLES.  And what did you mean, beloved?

CATHERINE.  You spend too much time away from court.  Your brother
is stealing the court away from you.  When he is here his rooms are
crowded: yours are empty.

CHARLES: I thank heaven for it.  The older I grow, the less I can
endure that most tiresome of all animals, the courtier.  Even a
dissolute court, as they say mine is--I suppose they mean a court
where bawdy stories are told out loud instead of whispered--is more
tedious than a respectable one.  They repeat themselves and repeat
themselves endlessly.  And I am just as bad with my old stories
about my flight after the battle of Worcester.  I told the same one
twice over within an hour last Tuesday.  This morning Barbara
called me an old wreck.

CATHERINE [flaming up]  She dared!  Send her to the Tower and let
her rot there.

CHARLES.  She is not so important as that, beloved.  Nor am I.  And
we must forgive our enemies when we can afford to.

CATHERINE.  I forgive my enemies, as you well know, Charles.  It is
my duty as a Catholic and a Christian.  But it is not my duty to
forgive your enemies.  And you never forgive mine.

CHARLES.  An excellent family arrangement for a royal pair.  We can
exchange our revenges and remain good Christians.  But Barbara may
be right.  When a king is shunned, and his heir is courted, his
death is not far off.

CATHERINE.  You must not say things like that: I not can bear it.
You are stronger in your mind than ever; and nobody can keep up
with you walking.

CHARLES.  Nevertheless, beloved, I shall drop before you do.  What
will happen to you then? that is what troubles me.  When I am dead
you must go back to Portugal, where your brother the king will take
care of you.  You will never be safe here, because you are a
Catholic queen.

CATHERINE.  I not think I shall care what becomes of me when you
are gone.  But James is a Catholic.  When he is king what have I to
fear?  Or do you believe your son Monmouth will prevent him from
succeeding you and become a Protestant king?

CHARLES.  No.  He will try, poor boy; but Jamie will kill him.  He
is his mother's son; and his mother was nothing.  Then the
Protestants will kill Jamie; and the Dutch lad will see his chance
and take it.  He will be king: a Protestant king.  So you must make
for Portugal.

CATHERINE.  But such things not could happen.  Why are you, who are
afraid of nothing else, so afraid of the Protestants?

CHARLES.  They killed my great grandmother.  They killed my father.
They would kill you if I were not a little too clever for them:
they are trying hard enough, damn them!  They are great killers,
these Protestants.  Jamie has just one chance.  They may call in
Orange Billy before they kill him; and then it will hardly be
decent for Billy to kill his wife's father.  But they will get rid
of Jamie somehow; so you must make for home the moment I have
kissed you goodbye for the last time.

CATHERINE [almost in tears]  You not must talk of it--[She breaks
down].

CHARLES [caressing her]  Beloved: you will only lose the worst of
husbands.

CATHERINE.  That is a lie: if anyone else said it I would kill her.
You are the very best husband that ever lived.

CHARLES [laughing]  Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  The merry monarch!  Beloved: can
anything I can ever do make up to you for my unfaithfulness?

CATHERINE.  People think of nothing but that, as if that were the
whole of life.  What care I about your women? your concubines? your
handmaidens? the servants of your common pleasures?  They have set
me free to be something more to you than they are or can ever be.
You have never been really unfaithful to me.

CHARLES.  Yes, once, with the woman whose image as Britannia is on
every British penny, and will perhaps stay there to all eternity.
And on my honor nothing came of that: I never touched her.  But she
had some magic that scattered my wits: she made me listen for a
moment to those who were always pressing me to divorce my patient
wife and take a Protestant queen.  But I could never have done it,
though I was furious when she ran away from me and married
Richmond.

CATHERINE.  Oh, I know, I know: it was the only time I ever was
jealous.  Well, I forgive you: why should a great man like you be
satisfied with a little thing like me?

CHARLES.  Stop.  I cannot bear that.  I am not a great man; and
neither are you a little woman.  You have more brains and character
than all the rest of the court put together.

CATHERINE.  I am nothing except what you have made me.  What did I
know when I came here?  Only what the nuns teach a Portuguese
princess in their convent.

CHARLES.  And what more had I to teach you except what I learnt
when I was running away from the battle of Worcester?  And when I
had learnt that much there was an end of me as a king.  I knew too
much.

CATHERINE.  With what you have taught me I shall govern Portugal if
I return to it?

CHARLES.  I have no doubt of it, beloved; but whether that will
make you any happier I have my doubts.  I wish you could govern the
English for me.

CATHERINE.  No one can govern the English: that is why they will
never come to any good.  In Portugal there is the holy Church: we
know what we believe; and we all believe the same things.  But here
the Church itself is a heresy; and there are a thousand other
heresies: almost as many heresies as there are people.  And if you
ask any of them what his sect believes he does not know: all he can
say is that the men of the other sects should be hanged and their
women whipped through the town at the cart's tail.  But they are
all against the true Church.  I do not understand the English; and
I do not want to govern them.

CHARLES.  You are Portuguese.  I am Italian, French, Scottish,
hardly at all English.  When I want to know how the great lump of
my subjects will take anything I tell it to Barbara.  Then I tell
it to Chiffinch.  Then I tell it to Jamie.  When I have the
responses of Barbara, Chiffich, and Jamie, I know how Tom, Dick and
Harry will take it.  And it is never as I take it.

CATHERINE.  In Portugal we not have this strange notion that Tom,
Dick and Harry matter.  What do they know about government?

CHARLES.  Nothing; but they hate it.  And nobody teaches them how
necessary it is.  Instead, when we teach them anything we teach
them grammar and dead languages.  What is the result?  Protestantism
and parliaments instead of citizenship.

CATHERINE.  In Portugal, God be praised, there are no Protestants
and no parliaments.

CHARLES.  Parliaments are the very divvle.  Old Noll began by
thinking the world of parliaments.  Well, he tried every sort of
parliament, finishing with a veritable reign of the saints.  And in
the end he had to turn them all out of doors, neck and crop, and
govern through his major-generals.  And when Noll died they went
back to their parliament and made such a mess of it that they had
to send for me.

CATHERINE.  Suppose there had been no you?

CHARLES.  There is always somebody.  In every nation there must be
the makings of a capable council and a capable king three or four
times over, if only we knew how to pick them.  Nobody has found out
how to do it: that is why the world is so vilely governed.

CATHERINE.  But if the rulers are of noble birth--

CHARLES.  You mean if they are the sons of their fathers.  What
good is that?

CATHERINE.  You are king because you are the son of your father.
And you are the best of kings.

CHARLES.  Thank you.  And your brother Alfonso was king of Portugal
because he was the son of his father.  Was he also the best of
kings?

CATHERINE.  Oh, he was dreadful.  He was barely fit to be a stable
boy; but my brother Pedro took his crown and locked him up; and
Pedro also is my father's son.

CHARLES.  Just so: six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Heredity is no use.  Learning Latin is no use: Jack Churchill, who
is an ignoramus, is worth fifty scholars.  If Orange Billy dies and
one of my nieces succeeds him Jack will be King of England.

CATHERINE.  Perhaps the Church should select the king--or the
queen.

CHARLES.  The Church has failed over and over again to select a
decent Pope.  Alexander Borgia was a jolly fellow; and I am the
last man alive to throw stones at him; but he was not a model Pope.

CATHERINE.  My father was a great king.  He fought the Spaniards
and set Portugal free from their yoke.  And it was the people who
chose him and made him do it.  I have sometimes wondered whether
the people should not choose their king.

CHARLES.  Not the English people.  They would choose Titus Oates.
No, beloved: the riddle of how to choose a ruler is still
unanswered; and it is the riddle of civilization.  I tell you again
there are in England, or in any other country, the makings of half
a dozen decent kings and councils; but they are mostly in prison.
If we only knew how to pick them out and label them, then the
people could have their choice out of the half dozen.  It may end
that way, but not until we have learnt how to pick the people who
are fit to be chosen before they are chosen.  And even then the
picked ones will be just those whom the people will not choose.
Who is it that said that no nation can bear being well governed for
more than three years?  Old Noll found that out.  Why am I a
popular king?  Because I am a lazy fellow.  I enjoy myself and let
the people see me doing it, and leave things as they are, though
things as they are will not bear thinking of by those who know what
they are.  That is what the people like.  It is what they would do
if they were kings.

CATHERINE.  You are not lazy: I wish you were: I should see more of
you.  You take a great deal too much exercise: you walk and walk
and nobody can keep up with you; you are always gardening or
sailing or building and talking to gardeners and sailors and
shipwrights and bricklayers and masons and people like that,
neglecting the court.  That is how your brother gathers the court
round him and takes it away from you.

CHARLES.  Let him.  There is nothing to be learnt at court except
that a courtier's life is not a happy one.  The gardeners and the
watermen, the shipwrights and bricklayers and carpenters and
masons, are happier and far far more contented.  It is the worst of
luck to be born a king.  Give me a skilled trade and eight or ten
shillings a week, and you and I, beloved, would pig along more
happily than we have ever been able to do as our majesties.

CATHERINE.  I not want to pig along.  I was born to rule; and if
the worst comes to the worst and I have to go back to my own
country I shall shew the world that I can rule, and that I am not
the ninny I am made to look like here.

CHARLES.  Why dont you do it, beloved?  I am not worth staying
with.

CATHERINE.  I am torn ten different ways.  I know that I should
make you divorce me and marry a young Protestant wife who would
bring you a son to inherit the crown and save all this killing of
Monmouth and James and the handing over of your kingdom to the
Hollander.  I am tempted to do it because then I should return to
my own beautiful country and smell the Tagus instead of the dirty
Thames, and rule Portugal as my mother used to rule over the head
of my worthless brother.  I should be somebody then.  But I cannot
bring myself to leave you: not for all the thrones in the world.
And my religion forbids me to put a Protestant on the throne of
England when the rightful heir to it is a good Catholic.

CHARLES.  You shall not, beloved.  I will have no other widow but
you.

CATHERINE.  Ah! you can coax me so easily.

CHARLES.  I treated you very badly when I was a young man because
young men have low tastes and think only of themselves.  Besides,
odsfish! we could not talk to oneanother.  The English they taught
you in Portugal was a tongue that never was spoke on land or sea;
and my Portuguese made you laugh.  We must forget our foolish
youth: we are grown-up now.

CATHERINE.  Happy man!  You forget so easily.  But think of the
difference in our fortunes!  All your hopes of being a king were
cut off: you were an exile, an outcast, a fugitive.  Yet your
kingdom dropped into your mouth at last; and you have been a king
since you were old enough to use your power.  But I!  My mother was
determined from my birth that I should be a queen: a great queen:
Queen of England.  Well, she had her way: we were married; and they
call me queen.  But have I ever reigned?  Am I not as much an exile
and an outcast as ever you were?  I am not Catherine of England: I
am Catherine of Bragança: a foreign woman with a funny name that
they cannot pronounce.  Yet I have the blood of rulers in my veins
and the brains of rulers in my head.

CHARLES.  They are no use here: the English will not be ruled; and
there is nothing they hate like brains.  For brains and religion
you must go to Scotland; and Scotland is the most damnable country
on earth: never shall I forget the life they led me there with
their brains and their religion when they made me their boy king to
spite Old Noll.  I sometimes think religion and brains are the
curse of the world.  No, beloved, England for me, with all its
absurdities!

CATHERINE.  There can be only one true religion; and England has
fifty.

CHARLES.  Well, the more the merrier, if only they could let
oneanother live.  But they will not do even that.

CATHERINE.  Have you no conscience?

CHARLES.  I have; and a very troublesome one too.  I would give a
dukedom to any doctor that would cure me of it.  But somehow it is
not a conscience of the standard British pattern.

CATHERINE.  That is only your witty nonsense.  Our consciences,
which come from God, must be all the same.

CHARLES.  They are not.  Do you think God so stupid that he could
invent only one sort of conscience?

CATHERINE [shocked]  What a dreadful thing to say!  I must not
listen to you.

CHARLES.  No two consciences are the same.  No two love affairs are
the same.  No two marriages are the same.  No two illnesses are the
same.  No two children are the same.  No two human beings are the
same.  What is right for one is wrong for the other.  Yet they
cannot live together without laws; and a law is something that
obliges them all to do the same thing.

CATHERINE.  It may be so in England.  But in Portugal the Holy
Church makes all Catholics the same.  My mother ruled them though
she was a Spaniard.  Why should I not do what my mother did?

CHARLES.  Why not, indeed?  I daresay you will do it very well,
beloved.  The Portuguese can believe in a Church and obey a king.
The English robbed the Church and destroyed it: if a priest
celebrates Mass anywhere in England outside your private chapel he
is hanged for it.  My great grandmother was a Catholic queen:
rather than let her succeed to the throne they chopped her head
off.  My father was a Protestant king: they chopped his head off
for trying to govern them and asking the Midlands to pay for the
navy.  While the Portuguese were fighting the Spaniards the English
were fighting oneanother.  You can do nothing with the English.
How often have I told you that I am no real king: that the utmost I
can do is to keep my crown on my head and my head on my shoulders.
How often have you asked me to do some big thing like joining your
Church, or some little thing like pardoning a priest or a Quaker
condemned to some cruel punishment!  And you have found that
outside the court, where my smiles and my frowns count for
everything, I have no power.  The perjured scoundrel, Titus Oates,
steeped in unmentionable vices, is lodged in my palace with a
pension.  If I could have my way he would be lodged on the gallows.
There is a preacher named Bunyan who has written a book about the
Christian life that is being read, they tell me, all the world
over; and I could not release him from Bedford Gaol, where he
rotted for years.  The world will remember Oates and Bunyan; and I
shall be The Merry Monarch.  No: give me English birds and English
trees, English dogs and Irish horses, English rivers and English
ships; but English men!  No, NO, NO.

CATHERINE.  And Englishwomen?

CHARLES.  Ah! there you have me, beloved.  One cannot do without
women: at least I cannot.  But having to manage rascals like
Buckingham and Shaftesbury, and dodgers like Halifax, is far worse
than having to manage Barbara and Louise.

CATHERINE.  Is there really any difference?  Shaftesbury is trying
to have me beheaded on Tower Hill on a charge of plotting to poison
you sworn to by Titus Oates.  Barbara is quite ready to support him
in that.

CHARLES.  No, beloved.  The object of having you beheaded is to
enable me to marry a Protestant wife and have a Protestant heir.  I
have pointed out to Barbara that the Protestant wife would not be
so kind to her as you are, and would have her out of the kingdom
before she could say Jack Robinson.  So now she has thrown over
Shaftesbury; and when I have thrown him over, as I shall know how
to do presently, there will be an end of him.  But he will be
succeeded by some stupider rascal, or, worse still, some stupid
fellow who is not a rascal.  The clever rascals are all for sale;
but the honest dunderheads are the very divvle.

CATHERINE.  I wish you were not so clever.

CHARLES.  Beloved: you could not do without my cleverness.  That is
why you must go back to Portugal when I am gone.

CATHERINE.  But it makes your mind twist about so.  You are so
clever that you think you can do without religion.  If only I could
win you to the Church I should die perfectly happy; and so would
you.

CHARLES.  Well, I promise you I will not die a Protestant.  You
must see to that when the hour strikes for me: the last hour.  So
my very belovedest will die happy; and that is all I care about.
[Caressing her]  Does that satisfy you?

CATHERINE.  If only I could believe it.

CHARLES.  You mean I am the king whose word no man relies on.

CATHERINE.  No: you are not that sort of king for me.  But will it
be a real conversion?  I think you would turn Turk to please me.

CHARLES.  Faith I believe I would.  But there is more in it than
that.  It is not that I have too little religion in me for the
Church: I have too much, like a queer fellow I talked with this
morning.  [The clock strikes five].  Odsfish!  I have a Council
meeting.  I must go.  [He throws off his dressing gown].  My boots!
What has become of my boots?

CATHERINE.  There are your boots.  And wait until I make you
decent.

Whilst he pulls his boots on, she fetches his coat and valets him
into it.  He snatches up his hat and stick and puts the hat on.

CATHERINE.  No no: you have forgotten your wig.  [She takes his hat
off and fetches the wig].  Fancy your going into the Council
Chamber like that!  Nobody would take you for King Charles the
Second without that wig.  Now.  [She puts the wig on him; then the
hat.  A few final pats and pulls complete his toilet].  Now you
look every inch a king.  [Making him a formal curtsey]  Your
Majesty's visit has made me very happy.  Long live the King!

CHARLES.  May the Queen live for ever!

He throws up his arm in a gallant salute and stalks out.  She rises
and throws herself on her knees at her prie-dieu.



THE END




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