Fanny's First Play
Before the curtain. The Count, dazed and agitated, hurries to the 4 critics, as
they rise, bored and weary, from their seats.
THE COUNT. Gentlemen: do not speak to me. I implore you to withhold your
opinion. I am not strong enough to bear it. I could never have believed it. Is this a
play? Is this in any sense of the word, Art? Is it agreeable? Can it conceivably do
good to any human being? Is it delicate? Do such people really exist? Excuse
me, gentlemen: I speak from a wounded heart. There are private reasons for my
discomposure. This play implies obscure, unjust, unkind reproaches and
menaces to all of us who are parents.
TROTTER. Pooh! you take it too seriously. After all, the thing has amusing
passages. Dismiss the rest as impertinence.
THE COUNT. Mr Trotter: it is easy for you to play the pococurantist. [Trotter,
amazed, repeats the first three syllables in his throat, making a noise like a
pheasant]. You see hundreds of plays every year. But to me, who have never
seen anything of this kind before, the effect of this play is terribly disquieting. Sir:
if it had been what people call an immoral play, I shouldnt have minded a bit.
[Vaughan is shocked]. Love beautifies every romance and justifies every
audacity. [Bannal assents gravely]. But there are reticences which everybody
should respect. There are decencies too subtle to be put into words, without
which human society would be unbearable. People could not talk to one another
as those people talk. No child could speak to its parent--no girl could speak to a
youth--no human creature could tear down the veils-- [Appealing to Vaughan,
who is on his left flank, with Gunn between them] Could they, sir?
VAUGHAN. Well, I dont see that.
THE COUNT. You dont see it! dont feel it! [To Gunn] Sir: I appeal to you.
GUNN. [with studied weariness] It seems to me the most ordinary sort of old-
fashioned Ibsenite drivel.
THE COUNT [turning to Trotter, who is on his right, between him and Bannal] Mr
Trotter: will you tell me that you are not amazed, outraged, revolted, wounded in
your deepest and holiest feelings by every word of this play, every tone, every
implication; that you did not sit there shrinking in every fibre at the thought of
what might come next?
TROTTER. Not a bit. Any clever modern girl could turn out that kind of thing by