W.S. Gilbert

HMS Pinafore: Act II

 Next Poem          

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

The Rt.Hon Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. (First Lord of the Admiralty)
Captain Corcoran (Commanding H.M.S. Pinafore)
Tom Tucker (Midshipmite)
Ralph Rackstraw (Able Seaman)
Dick Deadeye (Able Seaman)
Bill Bobstay (Boatswain's Mate)
Bob Becket (Carpenter's Mate)
Josephine (the Captain's Daughter)
Hebe (Sir Joseph Porter's First Cousin)
Mrs. Cripps (Little Buttercup) (A Portsmouth Bumboat Woman)

First Lord's Sisters, his Cousins, his Aunts, Sailors, Marines,
etc.


ACT II.-- Night


Same Scene. Night. Awning removed. Moonlight. Captain
discovered singing on poop deck, and accompanying himself on
a mandolin. Little Buttercup seated on quarterdeck, gazing
sentimentally at him.

SONG -- CAPTAIN

Fair moon, to thee I sing,
Bright regent of the heavens,
Say, why is everything
Either at sixes or at sevens?
I have lived hitherto
Free from breath of slander,
Beloved by all my crew--
A really popular commander.
But now my kindly crew rebel,
My daughter to a tar is partial,
Sir Joseph storms, and, sad to tell,
He threatens a court martial!
Fair moon, to thee I sing,
Bright regent of the heavens,
Say, why is everything
Either at sixes or at sevens?

BUT. How sweetly he carols forth his melody to the
unconscious moon! Of whom is he thinking? Of some high-born
beauty? It may be! Who is poor Little Buttercup that she should
expect his glance to fall on one so lowly! And yet if he knew --
if he only knew!
CAPT. (coming down). Ah! Little Buttercup, still on board?
That is not quite right, little one. It would have been more
respectable to have gone on shore at dusk.
BUT. True, dear Captain -- but the recollection of your sad
pale face seemed to chain me to the ship. I would fain see you
smile before I go.
CAPT. Ah! Little Buttercup, I fear it will be long before
I recover my accustomed cheerfulness, for misfortunes crowd upon
me, and all my old friends seem to have turned against me!
BUT. Oh no -- do not say "all", dear Captain. That were
unjust to one, at least.
CAPT. True, for you are staunch to me. (Aside.) If ever I
gave my heart again, methinks it would be to such a one as this!
(Aloud.) I am touched to the heart by your innocent regard for
me, and were we differently situated, I think I could have
returned it. But as it is, I fear I can never be more to you
than a friend.
BUT. I understand! You hold aloof from me because you are
rich and lofty -- and I poor and lowly. But take care! The poor
bumboat woman has gipsy blood in her veins, and she can read
destinies.
CAPT. Destinies?
BUT. There is a change in store for you!
CAPT. A change?
BUT. Aye -- be prepared!

DUET -- LITTLE BUTTERCUP and CAPTAIN

BUT. Things are seldom what they seem,
Skim milk masquerades as cream;
Highlows pass as patent leathers;
Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers.
CAPT. (puzzled). Very true,
So they do.
BUT. Black sheep dwell in every fold;
All that glitters is not gold;
Storks turn out to be but logs;
Bulls are but inflated frogs.
CAPT. (puzzled). So they be,
Frequentlee.
BUT. Drops the wind and stops the mill;
Turbot is ambitious brill;
Gild the farthing if you will,
Yet it is a farthing still.
CAPT. (puzzled). Yes, I know.
That is so.
BUT. Though to catch your drift I'm striving,
It is shady -- it is shady;
I don't see at what you're driving,
Mystic lady -- mystic lady.
(Aside.) Stern conviction's o'er me stealing,
That the mystic lady's dealing
In oracular revealing.
BUT. (aside). Stern conviction's o'er him stealing,
That the mystic lady's dealing
In oracular revealing.
Yes, I know--
That is so!
CAPT. Though I'm anything but clever,
I could talk like that for ever:
Once a cat was killed by care;
Only brave deserve the fair.
Very true,
So they do.
CAPT. Wink is often good as nod;
Spoils the child who spares the rod;
Thirsty lambs run foxy dangers;
Dogs are found in many mangers.
BUT. Frequentlee,
I agree.
CAPT. Paw of cat the chestnut snatches;
Worn-out garments show new patches;
Only count the chick that hatches;
Men are grown-up catchy-catchies.
BUT. Yes, I know,
That is so.
(Aside.) Though to catch my drift he's striving,
I'll dissemble -- I'll dissemble;
When he sees at what I'm driving,
Let him tremble -- let him tremble!

ENSEMBLE

Though a mystic tone I/you borrow,
You will/I shall learn the truth with sorrow,
Here to-day and gone to-morrow;
Yes, I know--
That is so!
[At the end exit Little Buttercup melodramatically.

CAPT. Incomprehensible as her utterances are, I
nevertheless feel that they are dictated by a sincere regard for
me. But to what new misery is she referring? Time alone can
tell!

Enter Sir Joseph

SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, I am much disappointed with
your daughter. In fact, I don't think she will do.
CAPT. She won't do, Sir Joseph!
SIR JOSEPH. I'm afraid not. The fact is, that although I
have urged my suit with as much eloquence as is consistent with
an official utterance, I have done so hitherto without success.
How do you account for this?
CAPT. Really, Sir Joseph, I hardly know. Josephine is of
course sensible of your condescension.
SIR JOSEPH. She naturally would be.
CAPT. But perhaps your exalted rank dazzles her.
SIR JOSEPH. You think it does?
CAPT. I can hardly say; but she is a modest girl, and her
social position is far below your own. It may be that she feels
she is not worthy of you.
SIR JOSEPH. That is really a very sensible suggestion, and
displays more knowledge of human nature than I had given you
credit for.
CAPT. See, she comes. If your lordship would kindly reason
with her and assure her officially that it is a standing rule at
the Admiralty that love levels all ranks, her respect for an
official utterance might induce her to look upon your offer in
its proper light.
SIR JOSEPH. It is not unlikely. I will adopt your
suggestion. But soft, she is here. Let us withdraw, and watch
our opportunity.

Enter Josephine from cabin. First Lord and Captain retire

SCENA -- JOSEPHINE

The hours creep on apace,
My guilty heart is quaking!
Oh, that I might retrace
The step that I am taking!
Its folly it were easy to be showing,
What I am giving up and whither going.
On the one hand, papa's luxurious home,
Hung with ancestral armour and old brasses,
Carved oak and tapestry from distant Rome,
Rare "blue and white" Venetian finger-glasses,
Rich oriental rugs, luxurious sofa pillows,
And everything that isn't old, from Gillow's.
And on the other, a dark and dingy room,
In some back street with stuffy children crying,
Where organs yell, and clacking housewives fume,
And clothes are hanging out all day a-drying.
With one cracked looking-glass to see your face in,
And dinner served up in a pudding basin!

A simple sailor, lowly born,
Unlettered and unknown,
Who toils for bread from early morn
Till half the night has flown!
No golden rank can he impart--
No wealth of house or land--
No fortune save his trusty heart
And honest brown right hand!
And yet he is so wondrous fair
That love for one so passing rare,
So peerless in his manly beauty,
Were little else than solemn duty!
Oh, god of love, and god of reason, say,
Which of you twain shall my poor heart obey!

Sir Joseph and Captain enter

SIR JOSEPH. Madam, it has been represented to me that you
are appalled by my exalted rank. I desire to convey to you
officially my assurance, that if your hesitation is attributable
to that circumstance, it is uncalled for.
JOS. Oh! then your lordship is of opinion that married
happiness is not inconsistent with discrepancy in rank?
SIR JOSEPH. I am officially of that opinion.
JOS. That the high and the lowly may be truly happy
together, provided that they truly love one another?
SIR JOSEPH. Madam, I desire to convey to you officially my
opinion that love is a platform upon which all ranks meet.
JOS. I thank you, Sir Joseph. I did hesitate, but I will
hesitate no longer. (Aside.) He little thinks how eloquently he
has pleaded his rival's cause!

TRIO

FIRST LORD, CAPTAIN, and JOSEPHINE

CAPT. Never mind the why and wherefore,
Love can level ranks, and therefore,
Though his lordship's station's mighty,
Though stupendous be his brain,
Though your tastes are mean and flighty
And your fortune poor and plain,
CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship,
SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild,
For the union of his/my lordship
With a humble captain's child!
CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter--
JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter--
SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water--
JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water!
ALL. Let the air with joy be laden,
Rend with songs the air above,
For the union of a maiden
With the man who owns her love!
SIR JOSEPH. Never mind the why and wherefore,
Love can level ranks, and therefore,
Though your nautical relation (alluding to Capt.)
In my set could scarcely pass--
Though you occupy a station
In the lower middle class--
CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship,
SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild,
For the union of my/your lordship
With a humble captain's child!
CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter--
JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter--
SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water--
JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water!
ALL. Let the air with joy be laden,
Rend with songs the air above,
For the union of a maiden
With the man who owns her love!
JOS. Never mind the why and wherefore,
Love can level ranks, and therefore
I admit the jurisdiction;
Ably have you played your part;
You have carried firm conviction
To my hesitating heart.
CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship,
SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild,
For the union of my/his lordship
With a humble captain's child!
CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter--
JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter--
SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water--
JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water!
(Aloud.) Let the air with joy be laden.
CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. Ring the merry bells on board-ship--
JOS. For the union of a maiden--
CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. For her union with his lordship.
ALL. Rend with songs the air above
For the man who owns her love!

[Exit Jos.
CAPT. Sir Joseph, I cannot express to you my delight at the
happy result of your eloquence. Your argument was unanswerable.
SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, it is one of the happiest
characteristics of this glorious country that official utterances
are invariably regarded as unanswerable.
[Exit Sir Joseph.
CAPT. At last my fond hopes are to be crowned. My only
daughter is to be the bride of a Cabinet Minister. The prospect
is Elysian. (During this speech Dick Deadeye has entered.)
DICK. Captain.
CAPT. Deadeye! You here? Don't! (Recoiling from him.)
DICK. Ah, don't shrink from me, Captain. I'm unpleasant to
look at, and my name's agin me, but I ain't as bad as I seem.
CAPT. What would you with me?
DICK (mysteriously). I'm come to give you warning.
CAPT. Indeed! do you propose to leave the Navy then?
DICK. No, no, you misunderstand me; listen!

DUET

CAPTAIN and DICK DEADEYE

DICK. Kind Captain, I've important information,
Sing hey, the kind commander that you are,
About a certain intimate relation,
Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar.
BOTH. The merry maiden and the tar.

CAPT. Good fellow, in conundrums you are speaking,
Sing hey, the mystic sailor that you are;
The answer to them vainly I am seeking;
Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar.
BOTH. The merry maiden and the tar.

DICK. Kind Captain, your young lady is a-sighing,
Sing hey, the simple captain that you are,
This very might with Rackstraw to be flying;
Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar.
BOTH. The merry maiden and the tar.

CAPT. Good fellow, you have given timely warning,
Sing hey, the thoughtful sailor that you are,
I'll talk to Master Rackstraw in the morning:
Sing hey, the cat-o'-nine-tails and the tar.
(Producing a "cat".)

BOTH. The merry cat-o'-nine-tails and the tar!

CAPT. Dick Deadeye -- I thank you for your warning -- I
will at once take means to arrest their flight. This boat cloak
will afford me ample disguise -- So! (Envelops himself in a
mysterious cloak, holding it before his face.)
DICK. Ha, ha! They are foiled -- foiled -- foiled!

Enter Crew on tiptoe, with Ralph and Boatswain meeting Josephine, who
enters from cabin on tiptoe, with bundle of necessaries, and
accompanied by Little Buttercup.

ENSEMBLE -- MEN

Carefully on tiptoe stealing,
Breathing gently as we may,
Every step with caution feeling,
We will softly steal away.

(Captain stamps) -- Chord.

ALL (much alarmed). Goodness me--
Why, what was that?
DICK. Silent be,
It was the cat!
ALL. (reassured). It was -- it was the cat!
CAPT. (producing cat-o'-nine-tails). They're right, it was the
cat!

ALL. Pull ashore, in fashion steady,
Hymen will defray the fare,
For a clergyman is ready
To unite the happy pair!

(Stamp as before, and Chord.)

ALL. Goodness me,
Why, what was that?
DICK. Silent be,
Again the cat!
ALL. It was again that cat!
CAPT. (aside). They're right, it was the cat!
CAPT. (throwing off cloak). Hold! (All start.)
Pretty daughter of mine,
I insist upon knowing
Where you may be going
With these sons of the brine,
For my excellent crew,
Though foes they could thump any,
Are scarcely fit company,
My daughter, for you.
CREW. Now, hark at that, do!
Though foes we could thump any,
We are scarcely fit company
For a lady like you!

RALPH. Proud officer, that haughty lip uncurl!
Vain man, suppress that supercilious sneer,
For I have dared to love your matchless girl,
A fact well known to all my messmates here!

CAPT. Oh, horror!

RALPH and JOS. I/He humble, poor, and lowly born,
The meanest in the port division--
The butt of epauletted scorn--
The mark of quarter-deck derision--
Have/Has dared to raise my/his wormy eyes
Above the dust to which you'd mould me/him
In manhood's glorious pride to rise,
I am/He is an Englishman -- behold me/him!

ALL. He is an Englishman!

BOAT. He is an Englishman!
For he himself has said it,
And it's greatly to his credit,
That he is an Englishman!

ALL. That he is an Englishman!

BOAT. For he might have been a Roosian,
A French, or Turk, or Proosian,
Or perhaps Itali-an!

ALL. Or perhaps Itali-an!

BOAT. But in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations,
He remains an Englishman!

ALL. For in spite of all temptations, etc.

CAPT. (trying to repress his anger).
In uttering a reprobation
To any British tar,
I try to speak with moderation,
But you have gone too far.
I'm very sorry to disparage
A humble foremast lad,
But to seek your captain's child in marriage,
Why damme, it's too bad!

[During this, Cousin Hebe and Female Relatives have entered.

ALL (shocked). Oh!
CAPT. Yes, damme, it's too bad!
ALL. Oh!
CAPT. and DICK DEADEYE. Yes, damme, it s too bad.

[During this, Sir Joseph has appeared on poop-deck. He is
horrified at the bad language.

HEBE. Did you hear him? Did you hear him?
Oh, the monster overbearing!
Don't go near him -- don't go near him--
He is swearing -- he is swearing!
SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress,
I find it is not easy to express;
My amazement -- my surprise--
You may learn from the expression of my eyes!
CAPT. My lord -- one word -- the facts are not before you
The word was injudicious, I allow--
But hear my explanation, I implore you,
And you will be indignant too, I vow!
SIR JOSEPH. I will hear of no defence,
Attempt none if you're sensible.
That word of evil sense
Is wholly indefensible.
Go, ribald, get you hence
To your cabin with celerity.
This is the consequence
Of ill-advised asperity!

[Exit Captain, disgraced, followed by Josephine

ALL. This is the consequence,
Of ill-advised asperity!
SIR JOSEPH. For I'll teach you all, ere long,
To refrain from language strong
For I haven't any sympathy for ill-bred taunts!
HEBE. No more have his sisters, nor his cousins, nor his
aunts.
ALL. For he is an Englishman, etc.

SIR JOSEPH. Now, tell me, my fine fellow -- for you are a
fine fellow--
RALPH. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. How came your captain so far to forget himself?
I am quite sure you had given him no cause for annoyance.
RALPH. Please your honour, it was thus-wise. You see I'm
only a topman -- a mere foremast hand--
SIR JOSEPH. Don't be ashamed of that. Your position as a
topman is a very exalted one.
RALPH. Well, your honour, love burns as brightly in the
fo'c'sle as it does on the quarter-deck, and Josephine is the
fairest bud that ever blossomed upon the tree of a poor fellow's
wildest hopes.

Enter Josephine; she rushes to Ralph's arms

JOS. Darling! (Sir Joseph horrified.)
RALPH. She is the figurehead of my ship of life -- the
bright beacon that guides me into my port of happiness -- that
the rarest, the purest gem that ever sparkled on a poor but
worthy fellow's trusting brow!
ALL. Very pretty, very pretty!
SIR JOSEPH. Insolent sailor, you shall repent this outrage.
Seize him!
(Two Marines seize him and handcuff him.)
JOS. Oh, Sir Joseph, spare him, for I love him tenderly.
SIR JOSEPH. Pray, don't. I will teach this presumptuous
mariner to discipline his affections. Have you such a thing as a
dungeon on board?
ALL. We have!
DICK. They have!
SIR JOSEPH. Then load him with chains and take him there at
once!

OCTETTE

RALPH. Farewell, my own,
Light of my life, farewell!
For crime unknown
I go to a dungeon cell.

JOS. I will atone.
In the meantime farewell!
And all alone
Rejoice in your dungeon cell!

SIR JOSEPH. A bone, a bone
I'll pick with this sailor fell;
Let him be shown at once
At once to his dungeon cell.

BOATSWAIN, DICK DEADEYE, and COUSIN HEBE

He'll hear no tone
Of the maiden he loves so well!
No telephone
Communicates with his cell!

BUT. (mysteriously). But when is known
The secret I have to tell,
Wide will be thrown
The door of his dungeon cell.

ALL. For crime unknown
He goes to a dungeon cell!
[Ralph is led off in custody.

SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress
Again it is not easy to express.
My amazement, my surprise,
Again you may discover from my eyes.

ALL. How terrible the aspect of his eyes!

BUT. Hold! Ere upon your loss
You lay much stress,
A long-concealed crime
I would confess.

SONG -- BUTTERCUP

A many years ago,
When I was young and charming,
As some of you may know,
I practised baby-farming.

ALL. Now this is most alarming!
When she was young and charming,
She practised baby-farming,
A many years ago.

BUT. Two tender babes I nursed:
One was of low condition,
The other, upper crust,
A regular patrician.

ALL (explaining to each other).
Now, this is the position:
One was of low condition,
The other a patrician,
A many years ago.

BUT. Oh, bitter is my cup!
However could I do it?
I mixed those children up,
And not a creature knew it!

ALL. However could you do it?
Some day, no doubt, you'll rue it,
Although no creature knew it,
So many years ago.

BUT. In time each little waif
Forsook his foster-mother,
The well born babe was Ralph--
Your captain was the other!!!

ALL. They left their foster-mother,
The one was Ralph, our brother,
Our captain was the other,
A many years ago.

SIR JOSEPH. Then I am to understand that Captain Corcoran
and Ralph were exchanged in childhood's happy hour -- that Ralph
is really the Captain, and the Captain is Ralph?
BUT. That is the idea I intended to convey, officially!
SIR JOSEPH. And very well you have conveyed it.
BUT. Aye! aye! yer 'onour.
SIR JOSEPH. Dear me! Let them appear before me, at once!

[Ralph enters as Captain; Captain as a common sailor. Josephine
rushes to his arms

JOS. My father -- a common sailor!
CAPT. It is hard, is it not, my dear?
SIR JOSEPH. This is a very singular occurrence; I
congratulate you both. (To Ralph.) Desire that remarkably fine
seaman to step forward.
RALPH. Corcoran. Three paces to the front -- march!
CAPT. If what?
RALPH. If what? I don't think I understand you.
CAPT. If you please.
SIR JOSEPH. The gentleman is quite right. If you please.
RALPH. Oh! If you please. (Captain steps forward.)
SIR JOSEPH (to Captain). You are an extremely fine fellow.
CAPT. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. So it seems that you were Ralph, and Ralph was
you.
CAPT. So it seems, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. Well, I need not tell you that after this
change in your condition, a marriage with your daughter will be
out of the question.
CAPT. Don't say that, your honour -- love levels all ranks.
SIR JOSEPH. It does to a considerable extent, but it does
not level them as much as that. (Handing Josephine to Ralph.)
Here -- take her, sir, and mind you treat her kindly.
RALPH and JOS. Oh bliss, oh rapture!
CAPT. and BUT. Oh rapture, oh bliss!

SIR JOSEPH. Sad my lot and sorry,
What shall I do? I cannot live alone!
HEBE. Fear nothing -- while I live I'll not desert you.
I'll soothe and comfort your declining days.
SIR JOSEPH. No, don't do that.
HEBE. Yes, but indeed I'd rather--
SIR JOSEPH (resigned). To-morrow morn our vows shall all be
plighted,
Three loving pairs on the same day united!

QUARTETTE
JOSEPHINE, HEBE, RALPH, and DEADEYE

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen,
The clouded sky is now serene,
The god of day -- the orb of love,
Has hung his ensign high above,
The sky is all ablaze.

With wooing words and loving song,
We'll chase the lagging hours along,
And if he finds/I find the maiden coy,
We'll murmur forth decorous joy,
In dreamy roundelay.

CAPT. For he's the Captain of the Pinafore.
ALL. And a right good captain too!
CAPT. And though before my fall
I was captain of you all,
I'm a member of the crew.

ALL. Although before his fall, etc.
CAPT. I shall marry with a wife,
In my humble rank of life! (turning to But.)
And you, my own, are she--
I must wander to and fro;
But wherever I may go,
I shall never be untrue to thee!
ALL. What, never?
CAPT. No, never!
ALL. What, never!
CAPT. Hardly ever!
ALL. Hardly ever be untrue to thee.
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more
For the former Captain of the Pinafore.

BUT. For he loves Little Buttercup, dear Little
Buttercup,
Though I could never tell why;
But still he loves Buttercup, poor Little
Buttercup,
Sweet Little Buttercup, aye!
ALL. For he loves, etc.

SIR JOSEPH. I'm the monarch of the sea,
And when I've married thee (to Hebe),
II'll be true to the devotion that my love
implants,
HEBE. Then good-bye to his sisters, and his cousins, and
his aunts,
Especially his cousins,
Whom he reckons up by dozens,
His sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!

ALL. For he is an Englishman,
And he himself hath said it,
And it's greatly to his credit
That he is an Englishman!

CURTAIN

Next Poem 

 Back to
W.S. Gilbert