Just my sentiments, dear boy, just my sentiments.
CECIL GRAHAM. Sorry to hear it, Tuppy; whenever people agree with me, I always feel I must be wrong.
LORD AUGUSTUS. My dear boy, when I was your age -
CECIL GRAHAM. But you never were, Tuppy, and you never will be. [Goes up C.] I say, Darlington, let us have some cards. You’ll play, Arthur, won’t you?
LORD WINDERMERE. No, thanks, Cecil.
DUMBY. [With a sigh.] Good heavens! how marriage ruins a man! It’s as demoralising as cigarettes, and far more expensive.
CECIL GRAHAM. You’ll play, of course, Tuppy?
LORD AUGUSTUS. [Pouring himself out a brandy and soda at table.] Can’t, dear boy. Promised Mrs. Erlynne never to play or drink again.
CECIL GRAHAM. Now, my dear Tuppy, don’t be led astray into the paths of virtue. Reformed, you would be perfectly tedious. That is the worst of women. They always want one to be good. And if we are good, when they meet us, they don’t love us at all. They like to find us quite irretrievably bad, and to leave us quite unattractively good.
LORD DARLINGTON. [Rising from R. table, where he has been writing letters.] They always do find us bad!
DUMBY. I don’t think we are bad. I think we are all good, except Tuppy.
LORD DARLINGTON. No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. [Sits down at C. table.]
DUMBY. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars? Upon my word, you are very romantic to-night, Darlington.
CECIL GRAHAM. Too romantic! You must be in love. Who is the girl?
LORD DARLINGTON. The woman I love is not free, or thinks she isn’t. [Glances instinctively at LORD WINDERMERE while he speaks.]
CECIL GRAHAM. A married woman, then! Well, there’s nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It’s a thing no married man knows anything about.
LORD DARLINGTON. Oh! she doesn’t love me. She is a good woman. She is the only good woman I have ever met in my life.
CECIL GRAHAM. The only good woman you have ever met in your life?
LORD DARLINGTON. Yes!
CECIL GRAHAM. [Lighting a cigarette.] Well, you are a lucky fellow! Why, I have met hundreds of good women. I never seem to meet any but good women. The world is perfectly packed with good women. To know them is a middle-class education.
LORD DARLINGTON. This woman has purity and innocence. She has everything we men have lost.
CECIL GRAHAM. My dear fellow, what on earth should we men do going about with purity and innocence? A carefully thought-out buttonhole is much more effective.
DUMBY. She doesn’t really love you then?
LORD DARLINGTON. No, she does not!
DUMBY. I congratulate you, my dear fellow. In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst; the last is a real tragedy! But I am interested to hear she does not love you. How long could you love a woman who didn’t love you, Cecil?
CECIL GRAHAM. A woman who didn’t love me? Oh, all my life!
DUMBY. So could I. But it’s so difficult to meet one.
LORD DARLINGTON. How can you be so conceited, DUMBY?
DUMBY. I didn’t say it as a matter of conceit. I said it as a matter of regret. I have been wildly, madly adored. I am sorry I have. It has been an immense nuisance. I should like to be allowed a little time to myself now and then.
LORD AUGUSTUS. [Looking round.] Time to educate yourself, I suppose.
DUMBY. No, time to forget all I have learned. That is much more important, dear Tuppy. [LORD AUGUSTUS moves uneasily in his chair.]
LORD DARLINGTON. What cynics you fellows are!
CECIL GRAHAM. What is a cynic? [Sitting on the back of the sofa.]
LORD DARLINGTON. A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
CECIL GRAHAM. And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.
LORD DARLINGTON. You always amuse me, Cecil. You talk as if you were a man of experience.
CECIL GRAHAM. I am. [Moves up to front off fireplace.]
LORD DARLINGTON. You are far too young!
CECIL GRAHAM. That is a great error. Experience is a question of instinct about life. I have got it. Tuppy hasn’t. Experience is the name Tuppy gives to his mistakes. That is all. [LORD AUGUSTUS looks round indignantly.]
DUMBY. Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.
CECIL GRAHAM. [Standing with his back to the fireplace.] One shouldn’t commit any. [Sees LADY WINDERMERE’S fan on sofa.]
DUMBY. Life would be very dull without them.
CECIL GRAHAM. Of course you are quite faithful to this woman you are in love with, Darlington, to this good woman?
LORD DARLINGTON. Cecil, if on really loves a woman, all other women in the world become absolutely meaningless to one. Love changes one - I am changed.
CECIL GRAHAM. Dear me! How very interesting! Tuppy, I want to talk to you. [LORD AUGUSTUS takes no notice.]
DUMBY. It’s no use talking to Tuppy. You might just as well talk to a brick wall.
CECIL GRAHAM. But I like talking to a brick wall - it’s the only thing in the world that never contradicts me! Tuppy!
LORD AUGUSTUS. Well, what is it? What is it? [Rising and going over