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King Arthur: Or, Launcelot the Loose, Gin-Ever the Square, and the Knights of the Round Table, and Other Furniture. A Burlesque Extravaganza

A'Beckett:  There were two A'Beckett brothers:  William, "Chief Justice and the colony's first knight" (Serle, p. 31) who went back to UK in 1865; and Thomas Turner (likely the reference here), Member of the Legislative Council (Upper House) 1858-1878.

Argus and Herald:  Two rival Australian newspapers. According to the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, Akhurst was a journalist and the theatre critic for the Melbourne Herald.

Aytoun, William Edmonstoune:  Scottish poet and teacher, wrote humorous pieces, historical poems, parodies and satire for Blackwood's Magazine. Aytoun died in 1865. (DNB)

Un Ballo in Maschera:  Opera written by Giuseppe Verdi in 1857, title means "A Masked Ball."

Beatrice and Benedick:  Star-crossed couple in a sub-plot of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. "The witty banter between Beatrice and Benedick is the highlight of the play." (

billet doux:  "A love-letter" (OED)

bisin;  "Monstrous, shocking, conspicuously bad or disgraceful" (OED)

bloater:  [bloat herring] "a smoked half-dried herring ... Also a term of contempt for a human being" (OED)

devils blue:  [blue devils] "Despondency, depression of spirits, hypochondriac melancholy ... The apparitions seen in delirium tremens" (OED)

bowled out:  [slang, from cricket] "To bowl (a person) out, over, down" (OED)

brick:  "A good fellow, one whom one approves for his genuine good qualities." (OED)

brown:  "A copper coin" (OED)

Buckley and Nunn:  The first Australian department store. (ADB)

buff:  "Fellow, 'buffer'" (OED)

card:  "applied to a person, with adj. (as ,i.knowing, old, queer, etc.) indicating some eccentricity or peculiarity" (OED)

carrot head ... jocular:  carotid refers to "the two great arteries, one on either side of the neck" and jugular means "the great veins of the neck" (OED)

casque:  "A piece of armour to cover the head; a helmet" (OED)

the chase:  "the occupation or pastime of hunting wild animals for profit or (more usually) sport" (OED)

cob:  "A wealthy man; a miser" (OED)

Collingwood:  A boarding house in Collingwood was purchased by James McCulloch and used, it was rumored, to bribe members of Parliament. (Wright)

Collins Street:  main street for shopping and socializing. "Collins Street is to Melbourne what Regent Street is to London" (Clara Aspinall, in Grant, p. 115)

coon:  "A sly, knowing fellow" (OED)

Coote, Charles:  Composer of dance music, sometimes incorporating contemporary people and events. ( Charles Coote wrote the original "Pull Together, Boys" which is satirized in Scene 1 and "The Man that Played the Cornet" which appears in Scene 5.

crammer:  "A lie" (OED)

cuss:  "Applied to persons, in the way of slight reproach or contempt, or merely humorously with no definite meaning; also to animals" (OED)

cut up:  "To wound deeply the feelings of; to distress greatly" (OED)

David's sow:  [Drunk] (OED)

De omnibus rebus:  Of all things.

derringdo:  "literally daring to do ... Daring action or feats, 'desperate courage'" (OED)

destrier:  "A war-horse, a charger" (OED)

devoir:  "That which one ought to do" (OED)

Gustave Doré:  Illustrated Tennyson's Idylls of the King in 1867. (DNB) This is the picture to which Akhurst refers:   Vivien and Merlin Repose.

drag:  "Any strong-smelling thing drawn along the ground, so as to leave a scent for animals; esp. for hounds to follow, instead of a fox" (OED)

eclat  "Public display, ostentation" (OED)

expound:  "To explain, interpret" (OED)   Pun with above mention of six sovereigns ("A British gold coin of the [nominal] value of one pound" [OED])

Farewell, My Gallant Captain:  song from Maritana, an 1845 "opera in three acts by Vincent Wallace to a libretto by Edward Fitzball" which Gilbert and Sullivan used as the basis for their rather serious "Yeoman of the Guard". (Grove)   James Joyce mentions the opera in Ulysses, and later refers to "just the usual everyday farewell, my gallant captain kind of an individual". (Joyce, p. 635)

flungkey:  [flunkey] "A male servant in livery, esp. a footman, lackey; usually with implied contempt" (OED)

free list:  "A list of persons from whom, or things on which, payment is not required" (OED)

gall and wormwood:  "Extremely bitter and mortifying." (Brewer) The pairing is from the old testament, in a phrase warning that non-believers may become a root that bears gall and wormwood.

gammon:  "To stuff with ridiculous nonsense, to humbug, deceive, hoax" (OED)

Geelong:  "[a] city which turns up frequently as the epitome of the end of the earth for Melburnians!" (Serle 74)

the go:  "The height of fashion; the 'correct thing'; the 'rage'" (OED)

Gounod, Charles:  "French composer, the leading figure in French opera during the third quarter of the 19th century."; debuted opera "Romeo et Juliette" in 1867. (Grove)

grigs:  "[a merry grig]  "an extravagantly lively person, one who is full of frolic and jest" (OED)

grooves:  [structures on the sides of a stage that support the "wings" (side scenery)] (OED)

Guards Waltz:  Very popular number written by Dan Godfrey "in 1863 for the ball given by the guards' officers for the prince and princess of Wales on their marriage." (DNB)

gyves:  "A shackle"(OED) "With gyves upon his wrist" is the last line of "The Dream of Eugene Aram," a popular and often-memorized poem written in 1829 by Thomas Hood.

Harwood:  Harwood is the name of the actor playing Modred.

Higinbotham:  early Australian parliamentarian (Wright), former editor of Melbourne Herald (for which Akhurst was drama critic), and was attorney-general 1863-68. "Victoria's leading radical at that time." (Bassett)

hoboday-hoy (hobbadehoy):  "A youth at the age between boyhood and manhood; a stripling; esp. a clumsy or awkward youth" (OED)

Hugh Peck:  landowner, involved in politics and the legal system.

Jones:  Charles Edwin Jones "had not only accepted bribes ... but also worked as a Victorian Paymaster (and to complicate matters still further, he was also paid by a free trade association to act as opposition whip when he was a member of a protectionist ministry). ... Jones held his seat until January 1871, not winning it back until 1886; in the interim he became a showman with [P?] T. Barnum in the [U.S.]". (Wright, p. 65, 68). Also "literary editor of the Ballarat Evening Post." (ADB)

jannock:  "Fair, straightforward; genuine" (OED)

Judge B.:  possibly Charles William Blakeney, whose ADB entry includes reference to a "W.M." The entry reports that W. Miles said Blakeney "tried his cases in the coffee rooms of public-houses." Subsequent to this play, Blakeney was involved in a notorious cattle stealing trial. (ADB)

Kiss-in-the-ring:  "An open-air game played by young people of both sexes, who stand in a ring with hands joined, except one who runs round outside the ring and touches (or drops a handkerchief behind) one of the opposite sex, who thereupon leaves the ring and runs after the first, kissing him or her when caught" (OED)

knacker:  "An old worn-out horse" (and/or "The testicles. slang") (OED)

Laissez aller:  "Absence of restraint; unconstrained ease and freedom" (OED)

la'n'g't on:  Edward Langton, Treasurer May-July 1968 and again 1872-74, "regular contributor to the press and sometime member of the literary staff and leader writer for the Argus." (ADB)

lief:  "Dearly, gladly, willingly" (OED)

lubras:  "An aboriginal woman of Australia" (OED)

M'Culloch:  James McCulloch, in 1860s chief secretary of Parliament, mastermind of early Australian parliamentary politics. (Wright)

minion:  "Originally: a (usually male) favourite of a sovereign, prince, or other powerful person ... esp. one who is servile or unimportant ... Also (freq. deragoratory): a man or woman kept for sexual favours" (OED)

mizzle:  "To go away suddenly, to vanish, disappear" (OED)

Murray:  [Marry] "Expressing surprise, astonishment, outrage, etc." (OED)

no flies:  "there is nothing dishonest or 'shady' about (a transaction)" (OED)

not for Joseph:  "by no means, not on any account" (OED)

nous (pronounced "nowse"):  "colloq. ... Common sense, practical intelligence, 'gumption'." (OED)

O'Shannasey:  John O'Shanassy was Australia's second, fourth, and seventh premier, his last term was November 1861 - June 1863. (Serle)

on the tapis:  "on the table-cloth, under discussion or consideration." (OED)

on tick:  "on credit, on trust" (OED)

paladin:  "a knight renowned for heroism and chivalry; a famous champion; spec. a Knight of the Round Table." (OED)

palavering:  "To talk excessively; to talk in a foolish or incomprehensible manner; to jabber, chatter." (OED)

pantaloon:  "Theatre ... a Venetian character representing authority and the older generation, typically depicted as a lean, foolish old man in a predominantly red costume that included Turkish slippers, pantaloons, ... a close-fitting jacket, and a skullcap. ... In extended use. A feeble old man, an old fool." (OED)

peach:  "To accuse (a person) formally" (OED)

penny readings:  [quotation in the definition of penny] "entertainments at which each who enters pays a penny." (OED)

peruke:  "wig" (OED)

pettitoes:  "The feet of a pig, esp. as an article of food" (OED)

piccalilli:  "A pickle [relish] made from a mixture of chopped vegetables, mustard, and hot spices." (OED)

pickles:  (as interjection) "expressing exasperation" (OED)

plush:  "A rich fabric of silk, cotton, wool, or other material ... used esp. for upholstery, servants' livery, etc." (OED)

poignard:  "A small, slim dagger" (OED)

Polka des Sabots:  (sabots are wooden shoes). 1859 operetta by Alphonse Varney. (Bibliothèque Nationale)

pose plastique:  "A type of tableau vivant, usually featuring near-naked women."  (tableau vivant:  "lit. 'living picture'; a representation of a personage, character, scene, incident, etc., or of a well-known painting or statue, by one person or a group of persons in suitable costumes and attitudes, silent and motionless") (OED)

prad:  "slang (now chiefly Austral.) A horse." (OED)

Puggree:  "A scarf, usually of thin muslin, wound round the crown of a sun helmet or hat and originally fastened so that the ends hung down at the back to shade the neck" (OED)

pull:  [possible reference] "(Horse Racing) a check given to a horse in order to prevent it from winning a race" (OED)

red herring:  smoked (imparting red color) herring. Origin of colloquial meaning "to attempt to divert attention from the real question" explained in OED's quotation from The Gentleman's Recreation (1686):   "The trailing or dragging of a dead Cat, or Fox, (and in case of necessity a Red-Herring) three or four miles ... and then laying the Dogs on the scent." (OED)

sarsnet:  "A very fine and soft silk material ... Resembling sarsenet in softness. (Said of speech, manners, etc.)" (OED)

sax-horn:  " ... brass musical instruments of the trumpet kind, invented by ... Charles Joseph Sax" [1844 is first citation.] (OED)

sconce:  "A jocular term for: The head". (OED)

she-oak:  [Australia] "A tree of the genus Casuarina ... Slang name for beer." (OED)

sheep's trotters:  "The feet of a quadruped, esp. those of sheep and pigs as used for food." (OED)

sirrah:  "A term of address used to men or boys, expressing contempt, reprimand, or assumption of authority on the part of the speaker" (OED)

six and eight:  [in OED entry for "six"] "With omission of shillings, spec. in six-and-eightpence as a lawyer's fee" (OED)

smack:  "A single-masted sailing-vessel ... usually of light burden" (OED)

Smith:  Possibly James Smith, because of reference to myths. "Between 1863 and 1869 the pariamentary librarian was James Smith, co-founder and later editor of Melbourne Punch, founder of the Victorian Review, playwright, pamphleteer, journalist, literary mentor, ... editor of the Cyclopedia of Victoria and a major figure in the colony's literary circles." (Wright, p. 62)

spoons:  "Sentimental or silly fondness … " [in quotations] "… case of spoons" (OED)

surcingle:  "A girth for a horse or other animal" (OED)

surtout:  "A man's great-coat or overcoat." (OED)

sway:  "To rule, govern, as a sovereign." (OED)

sword: "… power of government, executive power, authority, jurisdiction; also, the office of an executive governor or magistrate." (OED)

take up:  "To take (a person) into one's protection, patronage, or other relation; to adopt as a protégé or associate" (OED)

towelling:  "A beating, drubbing, thrashing." (OED)

Uprouse ye ... :  Refrain of "The Outlaw's Song" by Joanna Baillie (1762-1851) (Quiller-Couch). Has been used subsequently in folk and politcal songs.

Voici le Sabre:  My Father's Sword, song by Offenbach from "La Grand Duchesse." (Grove)

W. M.:  Possibly William Miles, who is mentioned in the entry for Judge Blakeney. Miles' entry says he was "a colourful politician ... no orator but he tried to dominate his audience by a combination of conviction, common sense, lung-power and steam-roller debating tactics and mannerisms. ... unusually honest" (ADB)

Walter Montgomery:  British Shakespearean actor who toured Australia. "His acting was pleasing if not very subtle." (DNB)

wight:  "A human being, man or woman, person." (OED)

wormwood:  "The plant Artemisia Absinthium, proverbial for its bitter taste." (OED)  Note:  Modred mutters similar bitter tonics before ("gall") and after ("cod liver oil") saying "wormwood."

Yankee Grab:  [in the OED entry for Murrumbidgee] "A gambling game played with dice". (OED)


King Arthur: Or, Launcelot the Loose, Gin-Ever the Square, and the Knights of the Round Table, and Other Furniture. A Burlesque Extravaganza

First produced at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, October 31, 1868

[NOTE:  For The Camelot Project edition, character names have been standardized
(e.g. "Modred" was sometimes written "Sir M."), typographical errors have been
corrected, contractions have been modernized, spacing added as appropriate, etc.
Also, some definitions and clarifications are provided via links throughout the play.


MERLIN   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. CON. WARDE
The Wizard Guardian of Britain, and Protector of the race of Uther Pendragon. Although the great neck-romancer of this big-isle, he is big-eye-ld by the big eyes of Vivien, and secluded for a brief period; however he re-appears to a n*gg*r tune in the very nig o' time.


VIVIEN   ...   ...   ...   ...  Miss MARGIE CHESTER
The Lady of the Lake, Merlin's mysterious mistress, who, having learnt from him how to spell "waving hands and woven paces," shuts up her tutor.

ARTHUR   ...   ...   ...   ...  Miss MARION DUNN
Son of Uther Pendragon by a fluke, and by another fluke Monarch of Britain, that is to say, Monarch of all he can s-way of it, which is probably more than he can survey of it. A very injured man, but every inch a King.

SIR LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE   ...   ...   ...   ...  Miss DOCY STEWART
The Mirror of Chivalry and Pier-glass of Nobility; the Pet of the Petticoats. Although Arthur's ally he courts Guenever, and has love passages with E-laine, from whom he rights-a-way, the consequence being that his cognizance is treated with contempt by all right-minded persons.

SIR KAY   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. R. STEWART
Hereditary Grand Seneschal, a fearless functionary, and a specimen of the mild man of the period; a great chum of Arthur's and a Pal-a-din.

SIR MODRED   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. H. R. HARWOOD
A Prince with Royal blood in his veins, and accordingly the vainest of the vain, a fellow knight of Arthur, but a felon knight. He hasn't a redeeming quality, especially readym-oney, and doesn't expect to go anywhere.

SIR ANTOUR   ...   ...   ...   ...  Miss MAGGIE STEWART
Arthur's foster-father, forced to father Arthur at first, he becomes a kind of Court Guide, and then subsides into obscurity.

Knights of the Round Table, not everyday knights, but, as the audience will discover, all-turn-it Knights.


KING LOT OF LOTHIAN   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. DARRELL
KING NANTERS OF GERLOT   ...   ...   ...   ...  MR. LEWIS
KING URIEN OF REGED   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. DIAS
KING CARODAS OF STRANGORE   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. COMPTON
KING IDER OF THE MARCHES   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. BATSON
KING ANGUISANT OF SCOTLAND   ...   ...   ...   ...  Mr. WYATT
Competitors for the Crown of the British Pendragons, who all come to Griff.

Knights, Squires, Officers of the Court, Huntsmen, &c.


GUENEVER (otherwise GIN-EVER, GINEVRA, or GENEVA)   ...   ...   Mr. JOHN DUNN
Arthur's renowned Bride and Queen. This Royal Lady loves not wisely but two well, Launcelot being number one.

ELAINE   ...   ...   ...   ...  Miss ANNA FORDE
The Lily Maid of Astolat – she has a quick ear for the music of Launcelot's voice, but a deaf one for Modred's base notes – quite a deaf-ear-ent matter. Disguised as her own brother, she follows the favored being, who, according to some authorities, was ignorant of the imposture.


SCENE 1.  A Romantic opening in the Royal Forest of Treesalot, with perspective view of the citadel of Camelot, bearing the standard of Britain. A splendid pavilion practicable, pitched L.C., surmounted by the Dragon flag. A royal hunting party picturesquely grouped on the stage. As the curtain rises hunting music is heard, and Sir Kay comes down.

    Solo, Sir Kay – Air,  "Pull Together, Boys."

                             Some love to roam, some stop at home,
                                 While others go the pace,
                             But here's a band, you'll understand,
                                 Are lemons on the chace;
                             There is no game, but it's all the same,
                                  Red herrings are the go;
                             So we follow the drag, for want of a stag,
                                 And hunt the bloater's roe.
              Chorus.   Stick, stick together, boys.
                             In all sorts of weather, boys,
                             'Specially on the heather boys,
                                All on a cloudy morning.

While the refrain is being sung, Launcelot enters from the pavilion, leading in Guenever.  As they come down lovingly, L., Modred emerges from behind the pavilion, and watches them.

At the conclusion, Sir Kay goes up stage and converses with huntsmen.

Launc.    (to Guen.) Farewell, sweet princess.
Guen.     (astonished) What? Why? Wherefore? How?
Launc.    Here ends my mission, I must shun you now.
              From Carmalide, your father's court, I brought you,
              Commissioned by King Uther to escort you –
              The destined bride of Britain's heir.
Guen.                                                       Who's he?
Launc.    (doubtfully) Well, that you know –
Guen.     (bridling up)                                I know!
Launc.                                                                 That is, you see –
Guen.     I see!
Launc.              I mean to say, with much regret,
              That that 'ere heir ain't been discovered yet;
              Perhaps he's not born.
Guen.                                        Poor fellow!
Modred. (aside)                                             Ah! that's gall.
Guen.     P'rhaps he isn't even the heir at all.
Modred. (aside) That's wormwood.
Guen.     (romantically)                   P'rhaps in some lone wood he whines
              And shocks the she-oaks muchly as he pines
              And sighs and sighs.
Launc.                                     At all events, this heir ain't,
              Whether a sigher or not, at present apparent.
Modred. (aside) Cod liver oil.
Guen.                                      No heir – no where – you said;
              And that's the chap that I am bound to wed?
Launc.    (looking fondly on Guen) – You'll say I've earned my wages.
Guen.                                                                                           Yes, I vow.
              Your wages, Launcy – don't g'way-jus-t now
              Of faithful squires, the faithfullest are you
              The truest of all escorts.
Modred. (aside)                          Oh! you'll do.
Guen.     And must I lose my squires and escort too.
Modred. (producing poignard) There's one d-agger left.
Launc.                                                                           Alas, 'tis true;
              I must immediately go on a journey.
Guen.     And whither bound, Sir Knight?
Launc.                                                  Bound to a-tourney.
Guen.     Attorney, law!-yer not goin among attorneys.
Launc.    No! but to the tournamong.
Modred. (aside) Ah! that's embarrassed her, the Saxon prater,
              Like a Scotch lawyer – I'm a sax-an'-eight-er.
Guen.     (to Launc.) You'll not forget me?
Launc.                                                  On that point I'm clear.
              (slapping breast) Princess, your many-ture in few-ture's here.
              (kisses her hand) Again, farewell to all.
Sir K. and Modred come down – Music.
Sir K.                                                            Fair knight, good day.
              Hope you'll enjoy yourself.
Modred. (vindictively, aside)          I hope
              (as Launcelot turns towards him, he alters his tone) you may.

Air – "Farewell, my gallant Captain."
Farewell, my dear companions, I'm going for a spree,
Farewell, my dear companions, I'm going for a spree,
Unto, sirs, the T.O.U.R.N.A.M.E.N.T.
For several weeks, it may be months, you've seen the last of me,
You'll not forget L.A.U.N.C.E.L.O.T.
Farewell,  &c.
Air – "Riding on a Donkey."
On my bold destrier I go
      To the mimic war,
And with deeds of derringdo
      I'll do my devoir.
Nerves of steel and heart of stone,
      Muscles firm and thick,
With such skill as mine, you'll own
      Must achieve the trick.
Mark the heralds! listen, they
      "Laissez aller," bawl;
Off we go, crash – one, two, three
      From their saddle fall.
Then on foot my foes I teach
      How my sword will slash,
Speedily I settle each
      Individual hash.
And the Queen of Beauty says,
      "Take this wreath, sirree,
For I ne'er in my born days
      Such a champion see."
That I count my chicks, you'll say,
      Ere they're hatched, ah me!
Fights were sold before to-day,
      In the age of chivalry.
Chorus – On his bold destrier,  &c.
Launcelot takes an affecting farewell, and exit[s] L.
Sir K.     Like Britons, now let us resume our pleasures.
              (Horn R.)  A Sax-horn, ha! Who waits?
Enter Arthur, R.
Arthur.                                                                  Waits! I messiers.
All.         The Prince!
Arthur.   (abstractedly) Yes, principally, more or few,
Sir K.     What, Arthur, are there any more of you?
Arthur.   (a la Macbeth) To mor-row, and to-morrow.
Sir K.     (surprised)                                                     How, two-more? how?
Modred. (indicating Arthur, aside) In the predicament of David's sow,
Arthur.   (crossing to Guen., and speaking in demi-voice)
              When Rogers was an actor.
Sir K.                                               Was! he is.
(Gun fired from the citadel.)
Arthur.   He is? Ye-es!
Sir K.                          There's something gone amiss
              To cause gunpowder to be fired, about
              Eight hundred years before it was found out.
              (to Arth.) Know you, my lord, the reason of this gunnery?
Arthur.   (to Sir K.) I lack advancement.
              (to Guen.)                               Get thee to a nunnery.
Guen.     (firmly) Not if I know it – under locks and keys,
              Shut up for life to be a triste Beatrice
              With ne'er a Benedick – no nunneries, none –
Sir K.     Perhaps he means a Benedictine one.
Guen.     To wear that hideous dress; why, lubras quiz it.
Modred. (sarcastically) Buckley and Nunn's are all the nuns she'll visit.
Arthur.   (to Guen.) Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
Guen.     (repulsing him)                                   You're rude.
Arthur.   (with ecstasy) I'd be a talisman about thy neck.
Guen.     (softly)                                                             You would?
Arthur.   (defiantly) Those charms protecting 'gainst the world in arms.
Modred. (to Guen.) He wants to be an am'let to those charms.
Sir K.      His mind is gone.
Guen.                                 Oh dear!
Modred.                                           Psha! nonsense! flummery!
Sir K.     It's water on the brain.
Modred.                                     Wa'ter Montgomery.
Gun is fired from the castle and the flag dropped to half-mast.
Sir K.    (looking towards the citadel)
              What do I see? the Royal flag half-mast;
              King Uther's dead.
All.                                     Dead! dead!
Modred. (aside)                                     Defanct at last –
              And I – no matter – let me reflect – 'tis well –
Guen.     (lightly) Dead! I'm so sorry – poor old Royal swell.
Arthur.   Take him for all in all, I ne'er –
              (Modred laughs)                  Why laugh?
Modred. For all in all, rather for half and half.
Guen.     (to Modred) Let's comfort the bereaved.
Modred. (sanctimoniously)                                  Stay, let me urge,
              At this sad moment, an appropriate dirge.
(they all signify assent)

Solemn strains are heard in the orchestra, as prelude.
Couplets and chorus – Air,  "La Polka des Sabots."
Arthur.               Gaiety and pleasure, la, la, la,
                          Doubtless are a treasure, la, la, la,
                          But with joy and leisure, la, la, la,
                          Are all out of place here, la, la, la.
Chorus.              Gaiety, &c.
Sir Kay.              When you see a Briton dancing, you
                          Naturally think he's in a stew.
                          Who looks so unhappy as he do!
                          Tooral, looral, looral, looral, looral, looral, loo.
Chorus.              Gaiety and pleasure, &c.
Arth. and Sir K.  And 'tis clear – Britons all are here,
                          By the gloomy way
                          They enhance the solemn dance,
                          And their grief display.
Chorus.              Gaiety and pleasure,  &c.
All dance off but Arthur.
Arthur.   (after carefully ascertaining that he is alone)
              I'm all on fire with joy, my fancy kindles,
              I feel I'm equal to a lot of swindles;
              King Uther dead, then I the crown have won –
              I'm inwardly convinced I am his son.
              It's true he never owned it – but he meant –
              Some fathers are so very reticent.
              The crown, and that sweet princess – what a prize?
              Enough to dazzle any fellow's eyes;
              But how to get 'em? how? ah! I forgot;
              Merlin, my more than father – (slowly) – more than – (desperately) – rot.
              This ring I was to kiss, and speak his name –
              Kiss in the ring's just now my little game;
              I'll ask the advice of the great prince of ______ [illegible]
              And get a leaf from Merlin's liberary.
Kisses the ring. – Music.

A part of the forest opens, discovering Merlin seated at the foot of a large oak; Vivien lying in a voluptuous attitude by his side.
              Hallo! what have we here? Merlin? yes, rather!
              (calling) Merlin!
Merlin.                              Who calls on Merlin?
Arthur.                                                                'Tis I – young Arthur.
Merlin.   I'm busy; call again.
Arthur.                                 Ah, me! I sorrow.
Merlin.                Oh, hang it! call again – to-morrow –
              My letters I've to write – I've just begun,
              And the mail's advertised to close at one;
              In short, I haven't a moment, Prince, to spare
              (fondly to Vivien) My pretty Vivien –
Vivien.                                                            What is it, mon cher?
Merlin.   Why have you followed me?
Arthur.                                               Can he be sane?
              (calling) Merlin!
Merlin.                               Excuse me, I've to catch the train.
Vivien.   Teach me the spell –
Merlin.                                 I'm quite at your commands –
Vivien.   Of woven paces and of waving hands;
              Do you, old duck. (smiles on him)
Arthur.                                See how the witch grimaces;
              The spell of waving hands and woven paces.
              I see her aim, she'll learn from him the spell,
              And by-and-by the old man she'll sell.
              And shut him up for ever.  (calling)  Merlin! I say!
Merlin.   I really can't attend to you to-day.
              I'm balancing my books.  (to Vivien)  Charming gal o' mine.
Vivien.   Teach me the spell, and ever be a pal o' mine.
              Lo! here I clothe myself with wisdom.
Puts her head under his beard, and pulls the hair over her face.
Merlin.                                                              Thankee!
              Few can beat Merlin, love, in hanky-panky;
              I hold the fate of nations in this fist.
Arthur.   There's egotism, what'n old he goat 'tis.
Vivien.   The spell! the spell! (Merlin produces the book)
Arthur.   (agitated)               Merlin!
Vivien.                                           The spell!
Merlin.   (to Arthur)                                       Again, sir!
              I'm out of town, I've got the influenza.
Song, Arthur – Air,  "Burgundy Ben."

              Gray hairs should cover wisdom's poll,
                  Our ancestors did say.
              "Nous avons changé tout céla,"
                  For which see Moliere's play.
              The buffer in his snow white scalp,
                  Falls soonest victim to
              Sly Folly's ogling and chignon,
                  Of the fashionable hue.
              Merlin a wizard, and the wisest of men,
                  Playing the fool, proves the rule,
              Merlin a wizard, and the wisest of men,
                  Though a fogy, is but a little kid again.
Chorus.  Merlin,  &c.
Merlin.   (showing Vivien a book) Read, and you'll learn.
Music, mysterious.
Vivien.   (looking over book)                                          Ah! then a fact is it;
              Merlin, behold how Vivien means to practice it.
              Web upon web, upon the wizard pile.
Arthur.   An incantation after Web-er's style.
Vivien.   Row upon row, lock stitch and chain, and woof,
              Close him in with your fancy walls and roof.
As the incantation proceeds, Merlin becomes gradually enclosed in a web of fancy work.
Vivien.   It's merely woman's work. Oh fool! Oh folly!
              Oh fool! (Echo, "Oh fool.")
Arthur.                 I feel aw-fully jolly.

Song – "Joyous Life."

SCENE 2. – The Bower of Elaine, the Lily Maid of Astolat.
Music p.  Enter L. Elaine, with Launcelot's shield, upon which she gazes pensively.
Elaine.   Why is it that I'm always in a flutter?
              What is it makes me loathe my bread and butter?
              How is it my piano can't delight?
              And wherefore is it I don't sleep at night?
              This blushing too, this longing after moons,
              Can these be symptoms of a case of spoons?
              Spoons! ay, 'tis spoons – that stranger knight, ah me
              My cardiac region tells me it is he –
              If e'er I'm made a wife, that chap'll make me,
              Yes, if I go to church that chap'll take me.

   Song, Elaine – Air,  "Five o'clock bus."
'Twas beautiful weather, the sky without cloud,
And the hum of the bee was the only thing loud,
The butterfly fluttered from flower and plant,
And merrily galloped the little black ant.
All nature was playful, and jolly, and gay,
Sweet odours arose from the clover and hay,
When a sound as of hoofs, and a clank and a fuss –
It was he, though I thought it the five o'clock bus.
Though the five o'clock bus
Aint familiar to us,
Yet somehow I thought it
The five o'clock bus.
He sprang from his steed – which I afterwards found
For a couple of notes he'd bought out of the pound –
He sprang from his steed, t'was a bay with a cough,
And branded L.L. on the near shoulder off,
He sprang from his steed, which seemed ill at ease –
Poor thing it had recently been on its knees –
He sprang from his steed, I repeat, and what's worse
I took him my love for the five o'clock bus.

Chorus.  Though the five,  &c.
Elaine.    He went and left a desert in this part.
Enter Modred, unperceived by Elaine, on whom he scowls maliciously.
              I'll ne'er rejoice again; oh, my poor heart!
Modred. (with irony) Poor heart, indeed!
Elaine.    What's that? who's that? that voice 'tis – (disappointed) Not his.
Modred. It's a poor heart that ne'er rich I says
Elaine.    (haughtily) Facetious sir-ah
Modred.                                             Sir Modred, lady gay –
Elaine.    Well, I don't care, though some who dread you may.
              You may be s'modred or smodered.
Modred.                                                       Funny this is.
Elaine.    I don't care sixpence.
Modred. Sixpence! (aside)   that shield 'tis his.
              (aloud)  How came you by that article of vertu?
Elaine.    That article of what?
Modred. (points to shield)     That, I refer to;
              That shield, that target.
Elaine.                                        Thereby hangs a tale.
Modred. Suppose we tark it over, young female.
Elaine.    With all my heart –
Modred.                            Then push along, my dear.
Elaine.    A gentle knight, a peerless cavalier,
              Called on his way – heigho!
Modred.                                            I have the clue;
              That cavalier, miss, gav' a leer at you.
Elaine.    This gentle knight arrived here in hot haste,
              The train was starting, he'd no time to waste,
              Bound for the tournament – he looked so prime –
              'Twas jousting time, and he –
Modred. (nodding his head)              Was joust in time.
Elaine.    I thought he loved me well – he was a block –
              I cut the sleeve out of my last new frock,
              Magenta samite, fifteen shillings a yard,
              Embroidered, too, with pearls – oh, it was hard –
              And gave it him to wear all round his hat,
              Puggree fashion.
Modred.                          Wasn't he moved by that?
Elaine.    I flirted with him, sighed, was piquante, pert,
              (And, my good f'ler, I fancy I can flrt; [sic])
              'Twas of no use, of all hope he bereft me,
              And softly murmuring "not for Joseph," left me.
Modred. What was this knight like?
Elaine.    (enthusiastically)              Fancy all that's nice
              Embodied in one person, 'twouldn't suffice
              To represent this swell. No burr, no brogue,
              A poet and a hero –
Modred. (aside)                   Some sly rogue.
Elaine.    A miracle of eloquence and nous.
Modred. Perhaps a member of the Upper House.
Elaine.    He hinted so. We asked him to sing, when
              He gave "Up rouse ye then, my merry men."
Modred. A'Beckett must have been with you carousing,
              He thinks the Upper House wants up-a-rousing.
Elaine.    (excitedly) A light breaks in upon me.
Modred.                                                           Dear me, ah!
Elaine.    (mysteriously) Was he O'Shannasey?
Modred.                                                            Oh je ne sais pas.
              Stay, maid, and learn.
Elaine.                                       Too happy.
Modred. (aside)                                            Sly young cat.
              (aloud) That's Launcelot's shield.
Elaine.                                                         I larns a lot by that.
Modred. The great Sir Launcelot of the Lake.
Elaine.                                                             My hero.
Modred. Guenever's protegé.
Elaine.                                    Oh dear! oh dear, oh!
Modred. (aside) A nice tale this for Guenever's fair aurals.
              I see a prospect of no end of quarrels;
              From those red lips, like a ripe cherry each,
              Sir Launcelot's sipped nectar in – I'll peach.
              (aloud) Console yourself with me.
Elaine.                                                          I am not able.
Modred. I am a knight; one of the circular table.
              You're beautiful, and I'll add scrumptious.
Elaine.                                                                   Chatterer,
              For a round table knight you are a flatterer.
              Your business here, young man?
Modred.                                                  Well, I've forgot.
              Some other time – be mine.
Elaine.                                              Much rather not.
Air – "Pretty Polly."
Modred. Oh, please to take a rapid glance at this ere child,
              With features mild, and hair well iled.
Elaine.   A singularly silly-looking scarecrow, spiled,
              At least you appear so to me.
Modred. Ah, you're a clever gal,
              And you shall be my pal.
Elaine.   That is all, fal, lal, lal,
              But you certainly don't gammon me.
Modred. Pretty Nelly, won't you have me,
              Do say yes, do say yes, do say yes.
Elaine.   Pretty Nelly will not any how say yes;
              She won't say yes.
(Exit Modred.)

Song, Elaine – "Volta la terrea."
Like a small terrier, or a
       Poodle with curly tresses,
Love-sick Elaine will follow her knight,
       Dressed in her brother's dresses,
Tend him, befriend him, fetch his beer,
Give him his physic when he's queer.
For love has taken me in charge,
       And I can't resist.
His hand is on my collar,
       His gyves are on my wrist.
(Exit Elaine.)

SCENE 3. – The Tower of the King's Sword – Exterior of an ancient British tower. In front of the principal entrance is a pedestal of auriferous quartz, upon which stands an anvil of gold. In the anvil a jewel-hilted sword is fixed, the handle alone of which is visible. Upon the pedestal the following legend is inscribed: –
                                          "Who luggethe outte this sherpe thinge,
                                          "Yclepte Escalibore is Kynge."
Music. Enter Sir Antour and Sir Kay, and afterwards Arthur, who stands apart.
Sir A.     He died without a will.
Sir K.    (flippantly)                   Ah, well, 'tis known
              In life he never had one of his own.
Sir A.     De mortuis. He died in peace.
Arthur.   (aside)                                   In peace he says
              I'm so cut up that I shall die in piece-es-es
Sir K.     An awful cad he was, he didn't act jonnak.
Sir A.     Vex not the shade of an anointed monarch.
Sir K.     Well, who's annoyin' dead monarchs, shades and things?
Sir A.     There, drop the subject.   Hark! Here come the kings.
Solo, Sir Kay – "La Belle Helene."

             Here's a half dozen sovereigns
             In search of a crown,
             Sovereigns for a crown,
             Who despite gorgeous coverings,
             Have not got a brown,
             Have not a single brown.
             No fear whichever covey reigns
             He'll not go down.
Chorus. Here's a half dozen,  &c.
Arthur.  Did you e'er see such a seedy,
             Seedy royal mob;
             So seedy a royal mob!
             Some fat, some thin and weedy,
             Like a cabman's cob,
             A Collingwood cabman's cob.
             All of them equally greedy
             The crown to fob.
Chorus.  Did you e'er,  &c.
Enter Lot King of Lothian, Nanters King of Gerlot, Urien King of Reged, Carodas King of Strangore, Ider King of the Marches, and Anguisant King of Scotland.)
Sir A.     My royal friends, good day.
Sir K.     (waving hand)                    How do? How do?
              We seldom of six sovereigns get a view,
              And this expounds present nervous flurry.
Sir A.     (to King Lot) King Lot, I think –
King L.                                                    Rightly you thinks.
Arthur.   (aside)                                                                    Oh, Murray!
Sir A.     King Nanters –
King N. (slangily)         I'm the covey.
Sir K.                                                  Ha! he banters,
              Not like the hard and stern old cove-nanters.
Sir A.     King Urien of Reged.
              (King U. bows)
Sir K.     (aside)                       Wretched stick.
Sir A.     King Carodas of Strangore.
              (King C. bows)
Sir K.                                                Seems a brick.
Sir A.     King Ider of the Marches.
Sir K.                                             Soldier, eh;
              Got some idea of marches, I da' say.
Arthur.   I of the Ides of March have often heard,
              But Iders of the Marches seems absurd.
Sir A.     King Anguisant of Scotland.
Sir K.                                                A queer coon.
              He's lean and slippered, but no pantaloon.
Sir A.     You're here to claim King Uther's crown?
All the Kings.                                                          We is.
Sir A.     Competitors, of course?
Arthur.   (aside)                           Were I a quiz,
              I'd say that these cum pettitoes were pigs.
Sir K.    They seem as merry as the fabled grigs.
King L.  Come, let's to business, what is on the tapis?
Sir K.    Hallo, that buff fellow a bisin-is chap is.
Sir A.     Your majesties, no doubt, are well aware
              King Uther died and never left an heir.
Arthur.   (aside) About a wig he'll make a joke, I know.
Sir A.     He left no wig, but died.
Sir K.                                          A wig ago.
Sir A.     He wouldn't peruke advice – I should say brook it,
              But treated it like physic – never took it;
              And thus it is this antique throne I've nussed.
Sir K.    (explaining) That is, he holds that on tick throne in trust.
Sir A.     How to decide your claims I'm at a loss,
              Will you play Yankee Grab for it, or toss?
Arthur.   You wouldn't mind p'rhaps drawing lots.
Sir K.                                                                  Oh, drop it,
              Why the Attorney Gen'ral would stop it.
              Remember Hugh Peck's case.
Arthur.                                                 I do mind his'n
              But keep you' peck-er up, my friend, and listen,
              We havn't Higinbotham's conscience here
              To trust to, so we shan't be sold, my dear.
              This is a happy age.
Sir K.                                    They call us myths –
              Say we're impostors, cos we have no Smiths;
              But fourteen hundred years of mud and mullock
              Must pass before the world sees a M'Culloch.
Sir A.     The point you're travelling from.
Sir K.                                                      Yes, I admit
              I'm travelling – what d'ya say t' raffling it?
Arthur.   The inscription on yon stone d'ye see?
All.         We does.
Sir K.                     What then?
Arthur.                                       What then? it is the key
              To this same difficulty – read it, read, I say.
King L.   Who is this vulgar person? Go away.
Sir K.     Excuse him, he's my squire. Defective breeding.
              (to Arth.) You must be mad to talk to them of reading.
              Behave with more respect, sir, to your betters –
              They're kings, who'd never stoop to learn their letters.
Arthur.   Worse than the Emperor Theodore.
Sir K.                                                            Why, minion?
Arthur.   Cos, anyhow, he was an A.B.C.-nyian.
Sir A.     Read it yourself, Arthur.
Sir K.                                          He's a good clerk.
Arthur.   (aside) The use of penny readings, please to mark,
              (Reads in an absurdly extravagant style)
              "Who luggetthe outte this sher-pe thinge,
              "Y-clepte Escalibore, is Kinge."
Sir A.     The meaning's plain.
King L.                                 Who draws the sword is king.
Sir A.     Yes, that's about it.
Sir K.                                    That's the sword of the thing.
Sir A.     Now for the trial.
Arthur.                               Very much I wonder,
              If they'll acquit themselves without a blunder.
Sir K.     The lucky man must be sans stain or blot,
              Now there's a kilty look about that Scot.
(Music, mysterious, but P.P.P.)
Sir A.     Who of this royal mob will first cast in
              His lot?
              (King Lot bows and advances to the sword, which he attempts in vain to draw.)
Sir K.                   Lot one.
Arthur.                                Lot hasn't won.
Sir K.     (as Lot retires disgusted)               Passed in.
Sir A.     King Nanters next.
Sir K.     (in sporting style) Who want to back King Nanters?
              He'll win, gents, in the commonest of canters.
              (Nanters pulls unsuccessfully)
Arthur.   He's got no pull of anyone.
Sir A.                                                Don't mock.
Sir K.     Yes, broke down badly shy in the fore off hock.
Sir A.     Now, Urien! (King Urien pulls and fails)
Sir K.                          Urien, you'll win, no doubt.
Arthur.   I think not this time, Urien, (to Sir K.) you're out.
Sir A.     Carodas next –
Arthur.                          With sconce round as a bullet –
Sir K.     A plucky cock, hencourage him to pullet.
Arthur.   More poultry jokes; he plays on words and howls,
              Because I merely play upon the fowels.
Sir A.     And now, King Ider.
              (Ider advances, but pulls in vain.)
Sir K.                                       Ah, my star of war!
Arthur.   I've know worse stars.
Sir K.                                        Well, this star doesn't draw.
              (Ider retires, and Anguisant advances.)
Sir A.     Scotty, you're next.
Sir K.                                   And powerful strong you are.
              Lug and be lucky
Arthur.                                There's nae lug at a'.
              (Anguisant retires)
King L.   Vengeance.
All Ks'                       Revenge!
Sir A.                                       Why, what's the matter now?
King L.   We are insulted.
King N.                           Gammoned.
Sir K.                                                   What's the row?
King L.   Oh! you know well enough – draw, monarchs, draw.
              (they draw)
Sir A.     This is illegal, don't you know?
Sir K.                                                    Oh law!
Arthur.   (chaffing) Call yourselves kings, do you?
Sir K.                                                                    Please don't – abuse – you.
Arthur.   Here's Bismarck coming.
              (Kings, much alarmed, rush to the entrances.)
                                                     Ah, my friends, he slews you!
Sir K.     I'll bounce a little: tremble, and retreat;
              I am the cantering cad of Collins-street.
Song, Sir Kay – Air,  "The Galloping Snob."
When I go riding down Collins street,
Collins street, Collins street,
The populace murmur "here's a treat,"
I and my charger fleet
              Riding on my prad,
              Cantering like mad,
              They cry there goes the cad, the cad,
              The cantering cad of Collins street.
I'm sometimes mistaken, make a mem,
Make a mem, make a mem,
For Judge B. or the eminent W. M.,
So excellent's my seat.
              Riding,  &c.
My prad it is bony, my prad it is big,
It is big, it is big.
Though it looks like mine, it belongs to Rigg,
With whom my name is sweet.
              Riding,  &c.
King L.   Upon them. (Kings advance.)
Sir A.     (to Sir K.)   Where's your weapon?
Sir K.                                                           Ah, I've not it.
              Oh! my prophetic soul – my uncle's got it.
              Go fetch it. (to Arth.)
Arthur.                     You're in check, mate.
Sir K.                                                           Yes, begone.
              Don't stop to chess, man, take it out of pawn.
Arthur.   I'm off at once as brisk as any kitten.
              (Runs up stage to the sword.)
              Ah, this'll do.
(Draws the sword, which flashes fire – thunder – Arthur's dress falls from him, and he appears magnificently attired. At the same moment the tower disappears, and the interior of the palace of Camelot is disclosed. Lights full up. At the upper end of the hall two thrones are established, on one of which Guenever is seated. The Knights of the Round Table are assembled; and at the moment the scene is disclosed they are grouped upon a moveable table. At the left of the Queen stands Modred. All the kings kneel.)
Solo, and Chorus. – "Voici le Sabre."

Arthur.   Ah, see the sabre, the sabre, the sabre,
             Ah, see the sabre, the sabre in my paw,
             And I'll belabour, belabour, belabour
                         The false mother's son
                         Who says I ain't won
             The right to the crown with eclat.
Chorus. Ah, see, &c.
All.        Hail, Arthur King of Britain!
              (Arthur is crowned and escorted to the throne.)

(Music. Poses plastiques of the Knights of the Round Table, followed by a GRAND BALLET.)

SCENE 4. – A Handsome Apartment in the Palace of Camelot.

              Enter Guenever, followed by Modred; she paces to and fro, apparently much agitated.

Guen.     And did you see him, then?
Modred. (affecting ignorance)       See who, my Queen?
Guen.     (passionately) "See who, my Queen," by George you raise my spleen,
              "See who, my Queen," is that all you can say?
              Is there a dead lock, haven't you had your pay,
              That "sue my Queen" is all that you can prattle?
Modred. I heard.
Guen.                  "You heard," let's have no tittle-tattle.
Modred. (aside) She's nervous, thinks to snuff me out, I guess.
              I know the meaning of this nuffer's ness.
Guen.     Say, have you seen him?
Modred.                                       Yes, I have.
Guen.                                                              Oh, raptures,
              You won't look me in my face until I've slapped yours,
              My Mephistophelian friend, you'll not then doubt,
              That my fist awful is when let straight out.
              Give me details, for details I am craving;
              You say you saw him; what was he doing?
Modred.                                                                  Shaving.
Guen.     How did the darling look?
Modred.                                         Well, not amiss,
              Something, my Queen, after the style of this.
              (Grimaces in the manner of a man shaving himself.)
Guen.     Why did he shave, he has no beard?
Modred.                                                        Correct;
              He shaved on mere suspicion I suspect.
Guen.     A filmy moustache of the carrot's hue
              His upper lip fits beautifully true,
              It curves the line of beauty.
Modred. (aside)                              Well, I'll lay
              I'll give him upper-liptic fits some day.
Guen.     Where did you see my love?
Modred.                                            Your love, great Queen?
              I saw him in his room at eight fifteen.
Guen.     What, in the palace? go, good Modred, haste,
              And bring him here, go quickly, no time waste.
              This is an opportunity – thou stay'st –
              An opportunity –
Modred. (aside)               To be embraced.
Guen.     Why don't you fly, and here my darling bring?
Modred. Your majesty, I'll go and fetch the King.
Guen.     The King! do nothing of the sort.
Modred.                                                   I thought
              You asked to have your husband hither brought.
Guen.     My husband – no such thing!
Modred.                                              You said your love.
Guen.     I ask you, as a reasonable cove,
              If that means husband – ah, unhappy girl!
              I have betrayed myself.
Modred.                                     I am no churl;
              Your secret's safe –
Guen.                                    Oh no, it isn't, you'll tell it.
              Exchange it, lend it, throw it away, or sell it.
              (whimpers) You men are all alike in that.
Modred.                                                                Don't whine,
              And never mind what min-are-all be mine.
              I'm healthy, wealthy, not bad looking, clever,
              Ever my Queen, my Guenever.
Guen.                                                     I never.
Modred. Fly with me, fly, I say.
Guen.                                        I won't, that's flat.
              You see I'm candid.
Modred.                                No flies about that.
              Were I Sir Launcelot, you'd look less grim,
              False Guenever, you'd guen-ever with him –
              Listen; he loves another.
Guen.                                             Loves Ann who?
Modred. Another, meaning some one beside you –
              The maid of Astolat.
Guen.                                    Some horrid fright.
Modred. Just sweet seventeen, complexion red and white,
              Fine golden hairs.
Guen.                                 Goldener than mine are?
Modred. Than yours, why her's are many carats finer,
              Besides, yours are alloyed with silver.
Guen.     (sarcastically)                                   Wit!
              (aside, vindictively) That red-haired creature's carrot head I'll split.
              (laughs hysterically) Funny. Ah! ah!
Modred. (sardonically)                                  You're in the jocular vein.
              (aside) My merry wench, now my re-wenge I gain.
              (aloud) This lily maid of Astolat –
Guen.     (impatiently)                              You're silly!
              This lily – pickles!
Modred.                             She's the pick-o'-lily,
              Her sleeve she gave to Launcelot.
Guen.                                                         Oh dear!
Modred. He wore that sleeve
Guen.                                      Ah! I'd a-s lief not hear.
Modred. Yes, wore it on his helm.
Guen.                                             Pity my plight.
Modred. I found her mourning for her absent knight.
Guen.     Be merciful! (kneels) upon my knees.
Modred.                                                           No good.
Guen.     Ah, you are stone.
Modred.                             No, ma'am, I Har-wood.
Duett, Guenever and Modred – "Lucia."

Guen.      Oh, don't you see these saline tears
                   A rolling down my cheek,
               And can you be so in-hu-man
                    As words like those to speak.
               I love him wildly, desperately,
                    And not another cove,
               Except, perhaps, my hus-a-band
                    Shall ever be my love.
Modred. Oh, yes, I see those saline tears,
                    A trickerling down her cheek,
               But (when a crammer doesn't pay)
                    The truth I'm bound to speak.
               She loves him, &c.
(exit Modred.)
Guen.     If Launcelot is false there's no wight blacker.
              What's that? (listens) a horse?
              (looks off, then with enthusiasm)  His nag? it is his-knack-er
Enter Launcelot; he rushes to Guenever, who repels his advances.
Launc.    My love, my Guenever, excuse my fussiness –
              Give us a buss.
Guen.     (loftily)             Stand back, sir, what's your business?
Launc.    Is this my welcome?
Guen.                                    Oh, sir, we are well met –
              Where's the girl's sleeve you wore upon your helmet
              When at the jousts?
Launc.                                    Eh! what's that, may I ask,
              A piece of a-parrel, madam, on my casque,
              A sleeve!
Guen.                    A sleeve – with you words I won't bandy,
Launc.    I'll not tell you a fib
              (aside)                   I haven't one handy.
              Lady, I wore that sleeve outside my brain
              At the suggestion of the fair Elaine.
Guen.     At her suggestion, oh you artful dodger,
              You were at her, sir, jesting!
Launc.                                                 Her pa's lodger.
              I was at Astolat a day or two,
              That precious sleeve she gave me.
Guen.                                                        Yes!
Launc.                                                              For you.
Guen.     This story's difficult, sir, to believe,
              And yet an empty sleeve's an empty sleeve.
Launc.    You see there was no 'arm in it.
Guen.                                                       Just so!
              Why wear it all around your hat?
Launc.                                                      You know
              We haven't any pockets in our armour.
              'Twas thine, I wore it as thy knight, my charmer.
Guen.     You love me then.
Launc.                                Dearly, like pie, or dearer.
              You're my sweet tart.
Guen.                                       That's pudden the case clearer.
At the conclusion Launcelot kneels to Guen.  Enter Sir Modred, ushering in King Arthur and Sir Kay.
Arthur.   S'life, s'death.
Modred.                      Be calm, my liege, don't swear.
Sir Kay. (looking through eyeglass)
              Ah, Tennyson forgot this, I declare.
Modred. (sarcastically) A picture with a very moral story,
              Lugged in by th' author to the disgust of Dore.
Arthur.   Oddsfish! and other expletives in vogue,
              Would I were gifted with an Irish brogue.
              I'd pile up objurgations.
Launc.    (calmly)                       What's the matter?
Modred. The matter, ha!
Sir Kay.                          The matter, he!
Arthur.                                                     Oh drat her,
              Why were you at her foot, man?
Modred.                                                    Why, you monkey.
Launc.    I flung myself there to –
Modred.                                     To what you flungkey,
              Oh, shame, where is thy plush!
              And as a proof that all my doubts have vanished,
              Launcy, your hand, my boy
              (they shake hands cordially)  For life you're banished.
Sir Kay. How very kind!
Modred. (to Sir Kay)     Directly I him sees,
              Down at the foot of them ere pair o' knees,
              I know he was as good a-s banished.
Launc.    (weeping)                                           Bother,
              I'll serve you out for this, I'll tell my mother.
Guen.     Don't snivel, love, no matter where, my dear,
              You are a ref'gee, your effigy is here.
(Lively music L.)
Arthur.   What means those solemn strains?
              (Enter L. Sir Antour.)
Sir A.                                                          A barge, or smack,
              All draped in samite of the darkest black,
              Is moored below, a dingy looking craft.
              The only man on board, is dumb, or daft,
              Your majesty, the cargo's very queer.
Arthur.   Indeed, what is it?
Sir A.                                  Sure it is a bier!
              And on the bier, a lady lies.
Arthur.                                             What's that?
              A lady on the bier?
Sir Kay.                                The bier's then flat.
Arthur.   'Tis strange, ay, passing strange, indeed.
Modred. (aside)                                                  Well, who'd
              Have thought a gal on a bier wasn't understood.
Sir A.     The lady.
Sir Kay.                On the bier.
Sir A.                                       Is dead.
Guen.                                                    Unpleasant.
Arthur.   Dead der, etcetera – a lady's present.
Sir A.     Upon her dress was pinned this scented letter,
              Wilt read it, sire.
Arthur.                             I think, Sir Kay, you'd better,
              I don't read writing, though well up in print,
              While you've been cramming, out with it, what's in't?
Sir Kay. (reading)
              "My name's Elaine, my father is a barring,
              "I liked to read about love, blood, and marrying.
              "The Londing Journal was my dear delight,
              "I used to p'ruse it all day long, and night,
              "Till Launcelot he comes to lodge and board,
              "And brings his shield, and lance, and great big sword.
              "My heart he stole away, and broke quite racent,
              "And so good bye, and please to bury me dacent.
Guen.     (turning furiously upon Launcelot)
              A moral youth, I'm sure.
Launc.                                        Well what's my crime?
Guen.     So steady you've not whiled away your time
              With maids of Astolat.
Arthur.    (remonstrating)        Sweet queen, my dear –
Guen.     There hold your tongue, sir, don't you interfere –
              (To Launc.) A courteous knight as one would wish to see,
              A lady-killer.
Modred.                     What a crid ironny!
Launc.     My royal lady –
Guen.                             Oh, you're very loyal.
Modred. (aside) Humph! a grid iron-y portends a broil,
              Over the coals she's calling him.
Guen.     (loftily)                                     Sir King,
              Remove the head of this immoral thing.
              (furiously to Launc.)
              Mizzle, begone, decamp, get out, migrate, do,
              Yes emigrate do, ge' out, ah! (screams)
Arthur.   (anxiously)                              Gout?
Guen.     (faintly)                                             In my great toe.

Air and Breakdown – "Close upon the hill side."

             Launc.       Close along the Dee side,
                               There lived a jolly miller;
                               Close along the Dee side,
             Chorus.     And many others beside.
             Launc.       Close along the Dee side,
                               Like a dusty old gorilla,
                               This floury card did re-side
                               For a half a cen-tu-ree.
             Chorus.      Why do you make this fuss, sir,
                               About that ancient cuss, sir,
                               What's he got to do with us?
                               You aught to go out to nuss, sir,
                               Or to Geelong, or to Russ'a,
                               Or some place even wusser,
                               To be palav'ring thus, sir,
                               De omnibus rebus, sir.
             Arthur.       In a cottage by the sea side
                               There lives sweet Isabella,
                               In a cottage by the sea side –
             Chorus.      And many others beside.
             Arthur.       In a cottage by the sea side
                               She love a certain fellah;
                               And if I were by his side,
                               I shouldn't very far off be.
             Chorus.      Why do you make this fuss, sir,
                               About that youthful cuss, sir?   &c., &c.
Guen., Mod. & Kay.    See those young prigs decide
                               That we are stupid fellows;
                               These young urchins decide –
             Chorus.      And many others beside
             The others. Evidently decide
                               That they are bound to sell us,
                               And thus we're on the lee side
                               Of an adolescent spree.
             Chorus.      Why do you make this fuss, sirs,
                               About any ancient cuss, sirs?    &c.,  &c.


SCENE 5. – Exterior of a Hermitage – Practicable Door.
(Enter Modred.)
Modred. A year has passed since, through my little plot,
              Arthur bowled out the Queen and Launcelot;
              Startling events have happened since we parted,
              First, from the throne King Arthur has been started;
              It chanced that I just then around was hovering,
              The crown was offering, I became the sovering.
              Next, I annexed Queen Guenever – the next queen
              That ever I annex shan't be an ex queen –
              The fate of beef for boiling she allotted me –
              Has salted, and has corned me and has potted me.
              No one can tell my sufferings, so let me
              Wake up the echoes with my echony.
Modred – Air,  "Un Ballo."

     Alla vita che tarride
     Non sai tu che se l'amina
     Non riviedra del, éstasi
     Un ballo in Maschera.

Air – "The late lamented Jones."

     My mind is racked, my brain is hot,
         My conscience is askew,
     An overflow of bile I've got,
         Likewise the devils blue.
     Ambition stimulated me
         To covet crowns and thrones –
     With less I should have been content,
         Like famous Mr. Jones.

Chorus.       Oh, ducks and peas, and English cheese,
                       To dunces and to drones;
                   The brightest of examples is
                       The famous C. E. Jones.

     The mother, as she smiles upon
         Her slumb'ring infant son,
     Murmurs, "Perhaps this kid will rise
         To fame like Jones has done."
     The schoolboy, freshly thrashed, sings out,
         As he rubs his aching bones,
     "Some day I'll lick the blessed lot,
         Like famous Mister Jones."

Chorus.       Oh, ducks,  &c.

     The warrior, as he sinks to earth,
         Nearly of life bereft,
     Exclaims, "I die, but anyhow
         The famous Jones is left."
     A greater name is his than that
         Which Alexander owns;
     Though Alexander whipped the world,
         Yet he was whipped by Jones.

Chorus.        Oh, ducks, &c.         (Exit)
(Enter Launcelot and Elaine, the latter dressed as a boy; Launcelot has a fiddle and Elaine a harp, which they manipulate in the style of the Italian street musicians.)
Duet, Launcelot and Elaine – Air,  "Guards' Waltz."

Ensemble.   O nous sommes parley vous
                       Encore rien de tout
                  Et pauvre malheureux heureux
                       Ici on coupe cheveux.

Launc.    How are the funds, Lavaine?
Elaine.                                                To nix gone down.
              Not a red cent, indeed, not even a brown.
Launc.    The firm is shaky.
Elaine.                                Empty is the till.
Launc.    I have it.
Elaine.                  I'm so glad.
Launc.                                    We'll do a bill.
Elaine.    A billet doux is much more in my line.
Launc.    Well, that job being settled, 'spose we dine.
              What says our bill of fare?
Elaine.    (producing a herring)       Salt fish.
Launc.                                                            It's coarse.
              What else?
Elaine.                      Well, nothing else.
Launc.                                                   Nonsense, no sauce?
Elaine.    The river source.
Launc.                                'Twill stand us in but poor stead,
              Salt fish should have egg-sauce; I'm quite exhausted.
Elaine.    A nice red herring, dear – (confused) – that is, old fellow?
Launc.    (testily) I hate all herrings, red, blue, brown or yellow.
Elaine.    You love green Erin.
Launc.                                    Certainly, I wish
              I had it here; but then it isn't a fish.
Elaine.    A herrin' not a fish?
Launc.                                  In my opinion
              The true green Erin isn't at all a finny un.
Elaine.    Still a gay bloater shouldn't be despised
              When one is hungry.
Launc.                                   At you I'm surprised.
              When one is hungry, when there's two, you see.
              (mournfully) That gay bloater's quite a sad blow to me.
              What's to be done – for music, it's quite clear,
              Is not appreciated about here.
Elaine.    Still, I'm inclined to think –
Launc.                                            Ah! you alarm me.
Elaine.    That you'd charm others as, old chap, you charm me.
              Did you consent, if but on one occasion,
              To play where there's some sort of population;
              The best of artists, even with accordeons,
              Wouldn't clear much, I fear, without an audience.
              Let's go where some can hear us.
Launc.    (violently)                                   Never, no.
              (loftily) Genius refuses to be fettered so.
              Here we'll commence our concert, no one's near,
              So fire away, Lavaine.
Elaine.                                       Why at me jeer?
              Fire away here! What folly.
Launc.                                              Law, how green.
              Volley! no, no, Lavaine, play toon I mean.
Vocal Waltz, Launcelot – Air,  "Juliet's air, Romeo e Giulietta."
  What will compare
  With a waltz air,
  Written with care,
  By Coote, or Gounod.
  It's rhythmic grace,
  Its piquant bass,
  And just a trace
  Of languor you know.
  Gently gliding,
  Softly sliding,
  Round and round they come,
  Spinning like
  A fakir, or
  A double teetotum.
  What will compare, &c.
  Nothing, ah, nothing can beat it,
  Bearing the shape of a hop.
  Polka and Schottische, defeated,
  May at once, may at once
  Shut up shop. Ah,  &c.
(Towards the conclusion, enter Arthur with accordeon, and Sir Kay carrying a basket of sheep's trotters. They applaud, and Sir Launcelot, helmet in hand, solicits donations from them.)
Arthur.   I have no money, or I'd freely spend it.
Sir K.     I'm on the free list, sir.
Launc.                                       The free list's 'pended.
Sir K.     The press I represent.
Launc.                                      The clothes press?
Sir K.                                                                    No.
Launc.    P'rhaps the hydraulic press?
Sir K.                                                 Not so.
              Nor yet the Hargus, nor the 'erald sage.
Launc.    The 'Erald! You don't represent the H.
Arthur.   Don't quibble thus about the aspirate, son.
              Our case, you see, is a sad, desperate one.
              Fair sir, we're only proletarian chaps,
              Carrying on business in bars and taps;
              Solos upon the 'cordeon, sir, I play,
              This gentleman's my agent – I may say
              My cordeon angel, gay, full of espirit.
Sir K.     A sort of cherub, Sam, you know.
Launc.                                                         I see.
Arthur.   A joyous cad; at night while others sleep
              He vends the trotters of the humble sheep.
Launc.    (pointing to the basket) That trash?
Sir K.     That trash! Some who such trash have sold
              Have risen to be trasherer, I'm told.
Arthur.   That's la'n'g't on thick.
Launc.                                    It is!
              (to Elaine aside)              the punning beasts.
              (to the others) We're artists too, or, as some says, artistes.
              Of music we're professors.
Sir K.     (to Arth.)                         P'rhaps these gay coons
              Are rel'tives of the late Professor Aytoun's.
Launc.    We were not always thus, but fate and brutes
              Have made us sink so low as to sing duets.
Duet, Arthur and Launcelot – Air,  "Beautiful Nell."

Arth.          Like you I've witnessed better days,
                        But now by fate I'm beat,
                  Once I was the créme de la créme
                        Th'elitest of th'elite.
                  An individual of rank.
                        I dressed extremely well,
                  And had a balance in the bank,
                        In short a topping swell.
Ensemble.   Beautiful swells with glasses in eyes,
                   Never evincing the slightest surprise,
                   Languidly glancing at the belles,
                   Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful swells.
Launc.         My birth is noble, and unstained
                        My crest as is thine own,
                  Let this attest, as Thaddeus
                        Declaims in dulcet tone,
                  When other lips and other hearts
                        Their tales of love shall tell,
                  In language whose excess imparts,
                       That I have been a swell.
Ensemble.   Beautiful swells,  &c.
Arthur.   See, here they come.
              (Enter Sir Kay and knights.)
Sir K.                                     Yes, here are all our knights,
              Ready for any quantity of fights.
              (March of knights.)
Arthur.   (to Launc.) Ah, now I recognise.
Launc.                                                       Pray don't, sir; do sir.
Arthur.   'Tis Launcelot's coat of mail, the vile surtout, sir.
              Draw and set to.
Sir K.                                My gracious liege, what for?
Arthur.   Leech me no leeches, I will have his gore.
              Come on! (draws.)
Launc.                      No, if I do I am a wretch.
Arthur.   You a wretch? I'll have your hemorrhage.
              Nay, then, take that! (strikes him.)
Launc.                                     A blow!
Elaine.                                                    'Twas but a tap.
Sir K.     (admiringly) A pretty tap-bleau.
Launc.    (drawing)                                   There, let fly, old chap.

              (Music. Arthur makes a furious thrust at Launcelot, who immediately disarms him.)

Arthur.   (melodramatically) Strike, now.
Launc.                                                        Take up this sword, Lavaine, my boy.
              (Elaine hands the sword to Arthur.)
Sir K.     To me that take up is a source o' joy.
Arthur.   (to Launce.) Let us be friends, and join our battle-cries,
              Instead of fretting, let us fraternise,
              And chastise Modred.
Launc.                                       That suits me to rights.
Arthur.   Soon the Round Table we'll turn on him, knights.
Launc.                 Agreed.
Elaine.                               Agreed. Why not?
              (They all join hands.)
Sir K.     For fame and vengeance we're a greedy lot.
Air, and Chorus – "The man that played the cornet."

Sir Kay.       Then hand in hand, or otherwise,
                         To the battle field we'll go,
                    And fight like fury when we get
                         Alongside of the foe.
Arthur.          I'm very valiant.
Launc.                                   So am I.
Elaine.           Pray of yourselves take care.
Arthur.              There won't be many foemen left,
                     When your Monarch has been there.
Sir Kay.             We'll never yield.
Arth. and Launc.                           Not we,
                     The base idea we scorn it,
                         Then sound the trumpet or what's better,
                     Tootle, tootle, tootle, on the cornet.
Chorus.              We'll never yield,  &c.
(March and Exeunt.)

SCENE 6. – The Battle Field of Avalon – Heavy mists obscure every object beyond the second grooves – Warlike music descriptive of a fiercely contested battle – The sounds gradually die away.
(Modred enters, dragging in Guenever by the hair of her head. He swings her fiercely round.)
Modred. This way, my dainty dame, my tender minion.
Guen.     Let go, it's my back hair, it ain't a chignon;
              Oh dear, you hurt so.
Modred.                                  Do I? p'raps I do.
Guen.     The man that lays a hand upon a –
Modred.                                                     Pooh!
              We've wiped out all that sort of nonsense, ma'am,
              The march of intellect's shown it to be a sham.
              (Swings her round.)
Guen.     Oh, help! have mercy, somebody come quick.
Modred. I'll stop your pipes with your back hair, my chick;
              Oh, you shall have your swing.
Guen.     (tragically)                              Would'st murder me?
Modred. Well, I confess the notion has occurred to me.
              (Draws his sword.)
              Thus do I cut in two the bonds of silk
              Which bound us – you and Modred of this ilk;
              Where will you have it? come.
Guen.                                                    Have pity, do,
              You son of Sat'n.
Modred.                            I mean to sarsnet you.
              (Enter Launcelot.)
Launc.    I heard a yelp for help – who is it howling?
Modred. (politely) Only my wife, I'm giving her a towelling,
              The custom of the country.
Guen.                                              Help! oh dear.
Launc.    Really I don't see I can interfere;
              Besides the battle's raging – I must go.
Guen.     I'm not his wife, I'm badly off, I know.
              But wouldn't be his better half.
Launc.                                                   I fancy
              I've heard that voice – what, Guenny!
Guen.                                                               Ah, my Launcy!
Launc.    (to Modred) I'll trouble you to pass that queen.
Modred.                                                                         No doubt.
Launc.    I owe you one, I think I'll take it out.
Modred. You think you can?
Launc.                                   Indeed I do, with ease,
              Like shelling peas.
Guen.     (as Modred swings her round) Oh, help!
Modred.                                                                 Cease yelling, peace!
              (to Launc.) In that case I'll retire.
Launc.                                                       Yes, do, you're beat
              And so you'd be-ter.
Modred.                                 Well, a fine retreat.
              Will be a feather in my cap, my bright-un.
Launc.    A feather in your cap – oh, yes, a white-un.
Modred. I'll to the battle field, while, to avoid dissension,
              You two may go to places – I won't mention.
              (Casts off Guen., strikes an attitude and exit.)
Launc.    (to Guen.) D'ye love me still?
Guen.                                                   Ay, fonder I have got.
Launc.    How much to you love me?
Guen.                                                Oh, my Lance-a-lot.
Launc.    Hark, my sweet friends, they recommence the fight,
              I don't feel very warriorfied to-night;
              So, as we cannot live without each other,
              And life, on such terms, isn't worth the bother,
              Home let us go and every keyhole stop up,
              Then light a charcoal fire and shut life's shop up.
              (Trio and exeunt.)
(Alarms renewed – Enter Modred, pursued by Sir K.)
Sir K.     Turn, hell-hound, there's a dear fellow.
Modred.                                                            Shan't, loon.
Sir K.     I'll waste no further words, except to tune;
              So here's a war song in the key of A,
              Three sharps –
Modred. (stabbing him.)  Here's one of them ere sharps, Sir Kay.
Sir K. falls in a sitting posture against wing L. Alarms.  Enter King Arthur.  He and Modred rush furiously at each other, cross swords, and throw off.
Arthur.   Now one of us shan't see the rising sun.
Modred. It's my intention you shall be that one.
Arthur.   The orb of day you'll see no more, my boy.
Modred. We'll soon see that my brilliant hoboday-hoy;
              I mean to wipe you out, you used-up chirper.
Arthur.   I may be used up, but you're a usupper.
              My crown and Queen you stole, and you shall feel
              The quality and temper of my steel;
              Fall on, young man –
              (Music – he strikes out) take that.
Modred. (parrying)                                      Not bad for you.
              (strikes) Now what d'ye say to that?
Arthur.   (patronisingly)                                  Yes, that will do,
              You needn't crow, of you I'll soon make carrion,
              Here's to your marble heart.
Modred. (parrying)                            That I call parrying.
              (Both swords are broken.)
              Our blades are broken.
Arthur.   (squaring)                    But our fists are sound.
Modred. (aside) That squaring up denotes a coming round.
              (aloud) I couldn't hit one less than my own size,
              My conscience pricks me, I'll apologise.
Arthur.   Too late, come on, I hope you've made your will.
Modred. I'm indisposed, in short, I've very ill.
(Squares up awkwardly.  Music.  They fight.  The mist gradually rises.  Guenever runs in between the combatants and receives a blow from each.  In throwing out her arms she strikes each and all fall.)
Modred. I'm cooked.  (dies)
Guen.                         I'm likewise baked.  (dies)
Arthur.                                                      Oh, direful thing.
              I die, here end the Idy-lls of the king.
(Dies.  By this time the mist is dispersed and the battle-field is fully disclosed; the slain Knights of the Round Table are lying about in picturesque groups.  It is bright moonlight.)

(Music p.p.  Vivien enters from the trunk of a tree, leading in Merlin.)
Vivien.   I've overdone it, Merlin.
Merlin.                                       So I see.
Vivien.   I didn't intent so sad a tragedy –
              I served you badly, but there – (embraces him)
Merlin.                                                I'm hard hit.
Vivien.   Now see if you can't put things straight a bit.
              (The moon sinks and the sun gradually rises.)
Merlin.   Though Arthur and his Knights are dead and gory,
              Their deeds shall live in picture and in story;
              Surrounded by a bright halo of glory –
              Thanks to our Tennyson and Gustave Dore.
              Hark to the strains of the while muslin band,
              Summoning Arthur to our Fairy Land.
              So, to do honor to this great occasion,
              We'll have a general resuscitation.
Solo, Launcelot – Air,  "Come home, Father."

          Arthur, dear Arthur, the work is complete
              We've got you a billet round here,
          The favorite hero of story henceforth
              The Lord of the smile and the tear,
          Your Round Table Knights we'll board and we'll lodge,
              And make it quite pleasant, you'll see,
          While great Alfred Tennyson's musical verse
              Shall give thee im-or-tal-i-tee.
          Come home, come home, come home, Arthur,
              Please Arthur, dear Arthur, come home.
   Chorus.  Hear the sweet voice, drawn so mild,
                     Like melody sung through a comb,
                 Oh, can you resist this most cheerful invite,
                     Please Arthur, dear Arthur, come home.

(The sun appears above the horizon, and the scene opens, disclosing Fairy Land.  Principals and all rise, and Launcelot and Elaine enter – Grand Tableau of Principal Knights and Fairies.)

NOTE: I welcome clarifications of puns, comments and suggestions, please e-mail Rosemary Paprocki

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