An Ideal Husband HTML version

Third Act
The Library in Lord Goring's house. An Adam room. On the right is the door
leading into the hall. On the left, the door of the smoking-room. A pair of folding
doors at the back open into the drawing-room. The fire is lit. Phipps, the butler, is
arranging some newspapers on the writing-table. The distinction of Phipps is his
impassivity. He has been termed by enthusiasts the Ideal Butler. The Sphinx is
not so incommunicable. He is a mask with a manner. Of his intellectual or
emotional life, history knows nothing. He represents the dominance of form.
[Enter LORD GORING in evening dress with a buttonhole. He is wearing a silk
hat and Inverness cape. White-gloved, he carries a Louis Seize cane. His are all
the delicate fopperies of Fashion. One sees that he stands in immediate relation
to modern life, makes it indeed, and so masters it. He is the first well-dressed
philosopher in the history of thought.]
LORD GORING. Got my second buttonhole for me, Phipps?
PHIPPS. Yes, my lord. [Takes his hat, cane, and cape, and presents new
buttonhole on salver.]
LORD GORING. Rather distinguished thing, Phipps. I am the only person of the
smallest importance in London at present who wears a buttonhole.
PHIPPS. Yes, my lord. I have observed that,
LORD GORING. [Taking out old buttonhole.] You see, Phipps, Fashion is what
one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.
PHIPPS. Yes, my lord.
LORD GORING. Just as vulgarity is simply the conduct of other people.
PHIPPS. Yes, my lord.
LORD GORING. [Putting in a new buttonhole.] And falsehoods the truths of other
PHIPPS. Yes, my lord.
LORD GORING. Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is