By R. W. S.
tet-eie newer, the sent of the Duelty of Iiitrepehire, had, in the year 1860, for long been a, Tory li, strun w
ghold. IL as ruled then by its , ., 1 iewager, a tenantable legacy from the 'Eighteenth Century, who, alone among n twaltily imiod or fox-hunteng Philistines, might conceivably have read her Bolingbroke.
The Aunt of Engtand
l(tdeed, thee.: Was a Mumutil. in the firei act when ihe old woman began to put up a very lair defence of aristocracy, end we Would \\ illingly have watched ber sparring in a struggle of greater noinent than the family liare-up, which is the subject of this play. Still, we are told, she is the permanent and private Prime Minister of England, and even now whell tho Whigs are in power she can arrange. wilt) is to be Ambassador Ill Rome. We should like to have seen her bring Lord John Russell to heel.
1 he Duchess is no Victorian eentimentalist. She had lived and loved before the Revolution and she brings Hee the age of crinolines and compromise the breath of a robuster time. Even when she dismisses her grand1:ephew from fatiail„v prayers because he has joined the Whigs and calls him
elf a Liberal, we feel that she is a enlutare tyrant. later she argues with lite young man and when he speaks for the "right of the poor" he replies: "No
• cdio has any right: only ditties. Our duty is to govern others for their good." She hates the greed and indiscipline of ch• itineracy; and privilege is pereuasive (.1k her lips.
I n this her eightietei hirtlidey she is ed With a. Serious battalion. 11e.r :.itind-datightcr has got itittetrouble with 't organize, who is the descendant of m: emigre French ciowd, with whom— we sae-Tose immediately and learn later—the Duchess berself had been lk ye. Discovering the girl's condition elte• itderviews Mr d'Arey, who stands ua to her with a proper pride, but she tells him thee the girl will immediately lacome engaged iu a handsome, pempous, aud email ulft, young politician, Viecount Warnhein, who is etaying in the house Mid v.110 has long wanted to marry. her. The annouece'tient of this engagement will he made io dinner the settle evening and Mr d'Arcy etell oblige her Grace by enterteining the company on the harpsii Lord.
The fun of that evening is fast and Lady Victoria avoids Lord Waritham, and the noble Viscount Tattier disgusts the Duette-se by anneueeing, just as they are going in. to dinner, that he hasn't bad time to propose. He does so, in measured ierate, azi soon as the others have left the TOOIll. Lady Victoria is adamant. Then Mr d'Arcy arrives and Lord everharn is sent upstairs to fetch her .1,eilyship's shawl. On coming down he overhears a passionate and mutual (heilaration of love. But he gives Neetoria his arm and the three descend dinner, The Dinner Party Duly, before a small tribe of dependents, the Duke announces the gagement, Lady Victoria collapses, Mr d'Arey scowls, Lord Warnbam stints, lite dependents applaud, and the Dowager Duchess Is uneasy. After ditmer Lord Wareiham, who has found generous consolalion in the port, picks it quarrel with Mr d'Arcy and knocks him 410w11. A scene ensues. The ladies rush from the drawing-room, the gentlemen dash from the mantelpiece, Lady Victoria runs to Mr d'Arcy and the Duchess commands Mr d'Arcy to play the harpsichord. The curtain comes down On the " Liehestratim" Of Liszt.
Meanwhile the two lovers have planned to elope. It is now midnight and all the people in the play come in and out of the hall at Alton House in appropriate degrees of dishabille. All are excited; all are puzzled; no one can get to sleep. At last the Duchess appears mid orders them to their rooms. There follows Lord Warnham's apology. The noble Viscount is extremely sorry. He intends to pursue his suit. tie is a staunch adherent of Tory principles and he believes that the Duchess has some say in the councils of the nation, The match might be advantageous as well as desirable. The Duchess perfectly understands and bids him good-night.
At this point her Grace's companion enters through the window, left neysteriously ajar. Site confesses that she has been about Lady Victoria's business, and for once elm tells the Duchess what rho thinks Of her. The Duchess is quite unrelenting and tells her to go at once to the Post Office and dispatch two telegrams—one to the stationmaster at Paddington, ordering 1.1. special compartment on the Torquay express, and one to the Duchess ofDevonshire asking that Tiverton House shall he placed at the disposal of Lady Victoria on her honeymoon. The old lady is apparently quite determined that lime grand-daughter shall be made an honest and unhappy woman.
We are, therefore, very surprised, not indeed when Mr d'Arcy climbs in through the window and Lade Vietoria trips down the staircase to meet him— for we have been waiting for this since a quarter-past ten -but when tile Dueness remains hidden behind the harpsichord and does not interrupt, their duet. It is only when Victoria begins I,) be overcome by craven scruples that she demands with a sneeze, that they shall de one thing or the other since there is an infernal draught front the w indow.
So, you see, it all ends happily. The ccanpartment ill the Torquay express had been reserved ill the name of Romance and not of Beactiou, because the Queen of all the Tories had not in her own youth been allowed to marry an aristocrat who had escaped the guillotine. Her memory is both patrician and tender, and Miss Haidee Wright, in her fine performance, left es in no dotiet that she had been to Paris before the Revolution. One would like to think that this naive little piece at the Savoy had been played before the "dear Queen" at Windsor instead of written, rather solemnly, for the Jubilee Year. But it shows a ehildlike faith in our credulity to which it would ho churlish 1101 to respond.