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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Dialogue from “The Mighty Dollar”

By Benjamin Edward Woolf (1836–1901)

[Born in London, England, 1836. Died in Boston, Mass., 1901. The Mighty Dollar. An American Comedy. Written for William J. Florence, and first performed, with Mr. and Mrs. Florence in the leading parts, at the Park Theatre, New York, 6 September, 1875.—From the manuscript Text, by permission of Mr. Florence, owner of this unpublished Play.]

SCENE.—Representing Col. Dart’s residence on the heights near Washington. Ball in progress; music, etc.; the place illuminated for a fête.

Guests, officers, couples, enter right and left, and occupy the pavilions and summer-houses, or group themselves about. Enter MRS. GEN. GILFLORY with LORD CAIRNGORME.

LORD CAIRNGORME.Well, madam, to resume our conversation—I contend that the American women are the prettiest in the world. It is very remarkable, you know, when you come to think of it—what a young country you are and what a short time you have had to become so pretty. Only think of it, two hundred years ago you were red savages, going about with feathers and tomahawks and very little else. It’s astonishing you know—you are not called a go-ahead country for nothing.

MRS. GILFLORY.Vous ate tro bong; excuse me, my Lord, for dropping so suddenly into French, but I’ve lived so long abroad that it has become second nature to me.[Turning to her niece LIBBY, who is up the stage flirting with CHARLIE BROOD.]Libby, Libby dear, what are you doing? Excuse me, my Lord, but that niece of mine has quite embarrassed me. I know you will excuse me, my Lord; but, as I was saying,—Libby, Libby dear! Oh, she has driven what I was about to say completely out of my head. Excuse me, my Lord, excuse me.

LORD C.Really, if you wouldn’t call me “my Lord,” you would oblige me very much. I feel that I am among simple republican people who set no value on titles except Judge, Major, Colonel, or General, and I feel sadly embarrassed when I am addressed according to the custom of my own country. If you would only call me General or Judge, you don’t know how much obliged I would be.

MRS. G.Quel plaisanterie—excuse me, I’ve lived so long abroad—but do not feel embarrassed, I beg. Our best society rather fancies Lords. You would say so too, if you could see how it runs after them.

LORD C.Now tell me, what are your theories about the equality of man?

MRS. G.Oh, we’re not talking so much about that as we were—many of our best families feel so much better than their fellow-citizens that they would not object to wearing titles themselves, just to show the distinction. Say vray, my Lord, say vray.

SLOTE.You will excuse me, Mrs. Gen. Gilflory! What you say may be quite true, but I flatter myself I am as good as any Lord, by A. L. M.—a large majority.

LORD C.I dare say you do. You look like one of the kind who think themselves better.[Aside.]Another remarkable product for a young country.

[Goes to LIBBY and takes her off. BROOD sits in a huff.]
SLOTE.Well, Mrs. Gen. Gilflory, we missed you from the ball-room—why, what’s the matter? you seem annoyed.

MRS. G.And I don’t wonder at it. Libby gives me such a world of trouble. I wish she’d venny seci—excuse my French, I’ve lived so long abroad.


MRS. G.Oh, do you speak French?

SLOTE.Ong pew. I prefer English—by a large majority.

MRS. G.Oh, what a delightful language it is—how poetical even the commonest things sound in it! Pom de tare oh natural! how different that sounds from boiled potatoes.

SLOTE.So it does, but then the potatoes taste the same in both languages, and there’s where the potatoes have got the best of it, I think.

MRS. G.Well, to return to our muttons. Libby gives me such a world of trouble. Her mother being dead, I am her only protector. Sa cel protectress. I can’t do anything with her; she will insist upon remaining unfashionable in spite of all my efforts to make her a woman of tong. She’s been all over Europe with me.

SLOTE.So she has been all over Europe with you, has she?

MRS. G.Yes, she has seen the Colloshum at Naples; the Parthenian in London, and the Bridge of Sighs at Mt. Vesuvius, but she won’t be refined. Sai trist nes par?

SLOTE.Of course, when you were abroad, you visited the Dardanelles?

MRS. G.Oh, yes; we dined with them—but she won’t be refined—sai trist nes par?


MRS. G.Libby! Libby dear! Oh, dear me! how she does annoy me. It’s a maxim of mine that une waso don la mang vot de se larum.

SLOTE.So I perceive. Excuse me, madam, but I didn’t quite understand that last remark of yours.

MRS. G.A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

SLOTE.Yes, yes; if the one in the hand’s a turkey.

MRS. G.Oh, you droll! I have done my very best to improve her mind. I have only let her read the very best books, such as Charles Dickson’s David Copperplate; Jack Bunsby’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and Tom Moore’s Maladies; and to think that after the instruction I have given her she should look no higher than that silly billy of a man Mr. Charlie Brood.

SLOTE.What, that youngster that I saw chasing her about here? Surely, you will never let her marry such a donkey as he is?

MRS. G.Why, he is as rich as Creosote. He’s worth a million.

SLOTE.Oh, pardon me, madam; when I called him a donkey I did it in a parliamentary sense.[Aside.]I must cultivate that young man’s acquaintance.

MRS. G.Now, my dear Judge, you must remember that Libby’s ancestors came over on the Cauliflower and settled on Plymouth Church, therefore I naturally look for somebody with blood to be her husband.

SLOTE.Blood—well, you don’t object to some flesh and bones too?

MRS. G.Oh, you wag! So I have set my mind upon her marrying Lord Cairngorme.

SLOTE.Lord Cairngorme—what, he of the eye-glass and shirt collar? Pardon me, madam, for keeping you standing so long. Let me present you with a seat; we can continue our conversation so much more at our ease.

MRS. G.[Seated in rustic chair.]Thank you so much, Judge, bu mo fectro dono.

SLOTE.And so, madam, you tell me you lived in France for many years.

MRS. G.Yes, Judge. I lived in Paris long enough to become a Parasite. Libby! Libby dear! There’s that Libby flirting with Charlie Brood and neglecting Lord Cairngorme! Excuse me, Judge. Libby, Libby dear![Exit.]

SLOTE.Ah, that’s a splendid woman! A remarkably fine woman![Turns to Roland Vance, who it seated at the left corner of stage smoking cigarettes.]Ah, there’s Roland Vance, the journalist. Fine night, Jedge.

R. VANCE.[Evidently annoyed.]Yes, fine night, sir.

SLOTE.Why, Vance, I didn’t know you at first. Seated there in the dark—couldn’t stand the heat of the ball-room, I suppose. Just my case, exactly. Why, what seems to be the matter? You look rather pale—not ill, I hope?

VANCE.No, sir; I am not ill.

SLOTE.Ah! I see how it is. Up late nights. I pity you poor newspaper-men—you have hard times of it, so do we statesmen.

VANCE.You will excuse me, Judge——

SLOTE.[Interrupting.]I am very glad to find you here. I want to speak to you, you being a journalist. I want you to sit down with me two or three hours and let me give you some pints about the new tariff bill that we intend to introduce.

VANCE.You will excuse me, Judge, I have no time now to listen to you. I have affairs of more importance to call me away. Good-night, sir.

SLOTE.[Curtly.]Good-night, sir.

[Exit VANCE.]
SLOTE.[Looking after him.]I’d like to clip that young man’s wings—in fact, I’d like to clip the wings of the whole newspaper brood, that make it impossible for an ambitious legislator to obtain his natural perquisites of office. As though he could afford to come here to Washington just for the honor of the thing—and his salary. No sooner does a man begin to look after his own interest than these newspaper-fellows set up a howl about rings, bribery, and corruption. Confound them! They have robbed me of thousands! For example: A financial party came down here—a rich man—a perfect J. J. A.—John Jacob Astor—who intended to build a railroad solely for the benefit of his countrymen, and so confident was he of the success of the scheme, that he professed himself ready to back up his plans with $10,000, which was to be forfeited to me in case the bill went through. Now, when a man is willing to take such risks on the strength of his convictions—when, I say, a man is prepared for such a sacrifice of H. K.—Hard Kash—is it for me to discourage him? Is it for me to discourage him? No, sir; not by a G. F.—Jug full. And this bill would have gone through, but just then, out comes these newspapers, up goes the cry about corruption, bottomless schemes, etc., etc., and so frightened the man off, railroad and all. And to indulge in highly figurative language, it knocked the lining out of the whole affair. I have suffered so, not once, but twenty times! and yet they talk about corruption in Congress! Why, I have never been corrupted once, and what’s more I am not likely to be—that is, if these newspapers are to be encouraged. Liberty of the press! I’d press them! If I had my way, I’d put all these newspapers down, P. D. Q.—pretty damned quick.