Note: For the previous works by Gilbert used by him to create H.M.S. Pinafore, see H.M.S. Pinafore - Appendix I
The Lass that Loved a Sailor
Libretto by William S. Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
First produced at the Opera Comique, London, on May 25, 1878
Dramatis Personae 
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB – First Lord of the Admiralty
- Captain Corcoran – Commanding HMS Pinafore
- Tom Tucker – Midshipmite
- Ralph Rackstraw – Able Seaman
- Dick Deadeye – Able Seaman
- Bill Bobstay – Boatswain's Mate
- Bob Becket – Carpenter's Mate
- Josephine – the Captain's Daughter
- Hebe – Sir Joseph Porter's First Cousin
- Little Buttercup – A Portsmouth Bumboat Woman
- Chorus of the First Lord's Sisters, his Cousins, his Aunts, Sailors, Marines, etc.
Musical numbers 
in Act I 
- "We sail the ocean blue" (Sailors)
- "I'm called Little Buttercup" (Buttercup)
- "But tell me who's the youth" (Buttercup and Boatswain)
- "The nightingale" (Ralph and Chorus of Sailors)
- "A maiden fair to see" (Ralph and Chorus of Sailors)
- "My gallant crew, good morning" (Captain Corcoran and Chorus of Sailors)
- "Sir, you are sad" (Buttercup and Captain Corcoran)
- "Sorry her lot who loves too well" (Josephine)
- "Over the bright blue sea" (Chorus of Female Relatives)
- "Sir Joseph's barge is seen" (Chorus of Sailors and Female Relatives)
- "Now give three cheers" (Captain Corcoran, Sir Joseph, Cousin Hebe, and Chorus)
- "When I was a lad" (Sir Joseph and Chorus)
- "For I hold that on the sea" (Sir Joseph, Cousin Hebe, and Chorus)
- "A British tar" (Ralph, Boatswain, Carpenter's Mate, and Chorus of Sailors)
- "Refrain, audacious tar" (Josephine and Ralph)
- Finale, Act I: "Can I survive this overbearing?"
in Act II 
- "Fair moon, to thee I sing" (Captain Corcoran)
- "Things are seldom what they seem" (Buttercup and Captain Corcoran)
- "The hours creep on apace" (Josephine)
- "Never mind the why and wherefore" (Josephine, Captain, and Sir Joseph)
- "Kind Captain, I've important information" (Captain and Dick Deadeye)
- "Carefully on tiptoe stealing" (Soli and Chorus)
- "Farewell, my own" (Octet and Chorus)
- "A many years ago" (Buttercup and Chorus)
- Finale: "Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!"
Act I 
Scene: Quarter-deck of H.M.S. Pinafore. Sailors, led by Boatswain, discovered cleaning brasswork, splicing rope, etc.
CHORUS – MEN
We sail the ocean blue, And our saucy ship's a beauty; We're sober men and true, And attentive to our duty. When the balls whistle free O'er the bright blue sea, We stand to our guns all day; When at anchor we ride On the Portsmouth tide, We have plenty of time to play.
Enter Little Buttercup, with large basket on her arm.
RECITATIVE – BUTTERCUP
Hail, men-o'-war's men – safeguards of your nation! Here is an end, at last, of all privation; You've got your pay – spare all you can afford To welcome Little Buttercup on board.
For I'm called Little Buttercup – dear Little Buttercup, Though I could never tell why, But still I'm called Buttercup – poor little Buttercup, Sweet little Buttercup I!
I've snuff and tobaccy, and excellent jacky, I've scissors, and watches, and knives; I've ribbons and laces to set off the faces Of pretty young sweethearts and wives.
I've treacle and toffee, I've tea and I've coffee, Soft tommy and succulent chops; I've chickens and conies, and pretty polonies, And excellent peppermint drops.
Then buy of your Buttercup – dear Little Buttercup; Sailors should never be shy; So, buy of your Buttercup – poor Little Buttercup; Come, of your Buttercup buy!
BOAT. Aye, Little Buttercup – and well called – for you're the rosiest, the roundest, and the reddest beauty in all Spithead.
BUT. Red, am I? and round – and rosy! Maybe, for I have dissembled well! But hark ye, my merry friend – hast ever thought that beneath a gay and frivolous exterior there may lurk a canker-worm which is slowly but surely eating its way into one's very heart?
BOAT. No, my lass, I can't say I've ever thought that.
Enter Dick Deadeye. He pushes through sailors, and comes down.
DICK. I have thought it often. (All recoil from him.)
BUT. Yes, you look like it! What's the matter with the man? Isn't he well?
BOAT. Don't take no heed of him; that's only poor Dick Deadeye.
DICK. I say – it's a beast of a name, ain't it – Dick Deadeye?
BUT. It's not a nice name.
DICK. I'm ugly too, ain't I?
BUT. You are certainly plain.
DICK. And I'm three-cornered too, ain't I?
BUT. You are rather triangular.
DICK. Ha! ha! That's it. I'm ugly, and they hate me for it; for you all hate me, don't you?
ALL. We do!
BOAT. Well, Dick, we wouldn't go for to hurt any fellow-creature's feelings, but you can't expect a chap with such a name as Dick Deadeye to be a popular character – now can you?
BOAT. It's asking too much, ain't it?
DICK. It is. From such a face and form as mine the noblest sentiments sound like the black utterances of a depraved imagination. It is human nature – I am resigned.
BUT. (looking down hatchway) But, tell me -- who's the youth whose faltering feet With difficulty bear him on his course? BOAT. That is the smartest lad in all the fleet – Ralph Rackstraw! BUT. Ha! That name! Remorse! remorse!
Enter Ralph from hatchway.
MADRIGAL – RALPH
The nightingale Sighed for the moon's bright ray, And told his tale In his own melodious way! He sang "Ah, well-a-day!" ALL. He sang "Ah, well-a-day!"
The lowly vale For the mountain vainly sighed, To his humble wail The echoing hills replied. They sang "Ah, well-a-day!" ALL. They sang "Ah, well-a-day!"
RECITATIVE – RALPH
I know the value of a kindly chorus, But choruses yield little consolation When we have pain and sorrow too before us! I love – and love, alas, above my station!
BUT. (aside) He loves – and loves a lass above his station! ALL. (aside) Yes, yes, the lass is much above his station!
BALLAD – RALPH
A maiden fair to see, The pearl of minstrelsy, A bud of blushing beauty; For whom proud nobles sigh, And with each other vie To do her menial's duty. ALL. To do her menial's duty.
A suitor, lowly born, With hopeless passion torn, And poor beyond denying, Has dared for her to pine At whose exalted shrine A world of wealth is sighing. ALL. A world of wealth is sighing.
Unlearned he in aught Save that which love has taught (For love had been his tutor); Oh, pity, pity me – Our captain's daughter she, And I that lowly suitor! ALL. And he that lowly suitor!
BOAT. Ah, my poor lad, you've climbed too high: our worthy captain's child won't have nothin' to say to a poor chap like you. Will she, lads?
ALL. No, no.
DICK. No, no, captains' daughters don't marry foremast hands.
ALL (recoiling from him). Shame! shame!
BOAT. Dick Deadeye, them sentiments o' yourn are a disgrace to our common natur'.
RALPH. But it's a strange anomaly, that the daughter of a man who hails from the quarter-deck may not love another who lays out on the foreyard arm. For a man is but a man, whether he hoist his flag at the main truck or his slacks on the main deck.
DICK. Ah, it's a queer world!
RALPH. Dick Deadeye, I have no desire to press hardly on you, but such a revolutionary sentiment is enough to make an honest sailor shudder.
BOAT. My lads, our gallant captain has come on deck; let us greet him as so brave an officer and so gallant a seaman deserves.
Enter Captain Corcoran.
RECITATIVE – CAPT. and CREW
CAPT. My gallant crew, good morning. ALL (saluting). Sir, good morning! CAPT. I hope you're all quite well. ALL (as before). Quite well; and you, sir? CAPT. I am in reasonable health, and happy To meet you all once more. ALL (as before). You do us proud, sir!
SONG – CAPTAIN
CAPT. I am the Captain of the Pinafore; ALL. And a right good captain, too! CAPT. You're very, very good, And be it understood, I command a right good crew, ALL. We're very, very good, And be it understood, He commands a right good crew. CAPT. Though related to a peer, I can hand, reef, and steer, And ship a selvagee; I am never known to quail At the fury of a gale, And I'm never, never sick at sea! ALL. What, never? CAPT. No, never! ALL. What, never? CAPT. Hardly ever! ALL. He's hardly ever sick at sea! Then give three cheers, and one cheer more, For the hardy Captain of the Pinafore!
CAPT. I do my best to satisfy you all – ALL. And with you we're quite content. CAPT. You're exceedingly polite, And I think it only right To return the compliment. ALL. We're exceedingly polite, And he thinks it only right To return the compliment. CAPT. Bad language or abuse I never, never use, Whatever the emergency; Though "Bother it" I may Occasionally say, I never use a big, big D! ALL. What, never? CAPT. No, never! ALL. What, never? CAPT. Hardly ever! ALL. Hardly ever swears a big, big D! Then give three cheers, and one cheer more, For the well-bred Captain of the Pinafore!
After song exeunt all but Captain.
Enter Little Buttercup.
RECITATIVE – BUTTERCUP and CAPT.
BUT. Sir, you are sad! The silent eloquence Of yonder tear that trembles on your eyelash Proclaims a sorrow far more deep than common; Confide in me – fear not – I am a mother!
CAPT. Yes, Little Buttercup, I'm sad and sorry – My daughter, Josephine, the fairest flower That ever blossomed on ancestral timber, Is sought in marriage by Sir Joseph Porter, Our Admiralty's First Lord, but for some reason She does not seem to tackle kindly to it.
BUT. (with emotion). Ah, poor Sir Joseph! Ah, I know too well
The anguish of a heart that loves but vainly! But see, here comes your most attractive daughter. I go – Farewell! (Exit.)
CAPT. (looking after her). A plump and pleasing person! (Exit.)
Enter Josephine, twining some flowers which she carries in a small basket.
BALLAD – JOSEPHINE
Sorry her lot who loves too well, Heavy the heart that hopes but vainly! Sad are the sighs that own the spell Uttered by eyes that speak too plainly; Heavy the sorrow that bows the head When love is alive and hope is dead!
Sad is the hour when sets the sun – Dark is the night to earth's poor daughters, When to the ark the wearied one Flies from the empty waste of waters! Heavy the sorrow that bows the head When love is alive and hope is dead!
CAPT. My child, I grieve to see that you are a prey to melancholy. You should look your best to-day, for Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, will be here this afternoon to claim your promised hand.
JOS. Ah, father, your words cut me to the quick. I can esteem – reverence – venerate Sir Joseph, for he is a great and good man; but oh, I cannot love him! My heart is already given.
CAPT. (aside). It is then as I feared. (Aloud.) Given? And to whom? Not to some gilded lordling?
JOS. No, father – the object of my love is no lordling. Oh, pity me, for he is but a humble sailor on board your own ship!
JOS. Yes, it is true – too true.
CAPT. A common sailor? Oh, fie!
JOS. I blush for the weakness that allows me to cherish such a passion. I hate myself when I think of the depth to which I have stooped in permitting myself to think tenderly of one so ignobly born, but I love him! I love him! I love him! (Weeps)
CAPT. Come, my child, let us talk this over. In a matter of the heart I would not coerce my daughter – I attach but little value to rank or wealth – but the line must be drawn somewhere. A man in that station may be brave and worthy, but at every step he would commit solecisms that society would never pardon.
JOS. Oh, I have thought of this night and day. But fear not, father. I have a heart, and therefore I love; but I am your daughter, and therefore I am proud. Though I carry my love with me to the tomb, he shall never, never know it.
CAPT. You are my daughter after all! But see, Sir Joseph's barge approaches, manned by twelve trusty oarsmen and accompanied by the admiring crowd of sisters, cousins, and aunts that attend him wherever he goes. Retire, my daughter, to your cabin – take this, his photograph, with you – it may help to bring you to a more reasonable frame of mind.
JOS. My own thoughtful father!
Exit Josephine. Captain remains and ascends the poop-deck.
BARCAROLLE – SIR JOSEPH'S FEMALE RELATIVES (offstage)
Over the bright blue sea Comes Sir Joseph Porter, KCB. Wherever he may go Bang-bang the loud nine-pounders go! Shout o'er the bright blue sea For Sir Joseph Porter, KCB.
During this the Crew have entered on tiptoe, listening attentively to the song.
CHORUS OF SAILORS
Sir Joseph's barge is seen, And its crowd of blushing beauties, We hope he'll find us clean, And attentive to our duties. We sail, we sail the ocean blue, And our saucy ship's a beauty. We're sober, sober men and true And attentive to our duty. We're smart and sober men, And quite devoid of fe-ar, In all the Royal N. None are so smart as we are.
Enter Sir Joseph's Female Relatives. They dance round the stage.
REL. Gaily tripping, Lightly skipping, Flock the maidens to the shipping. SAILORS. Flags and guns and pennants dipping! All the ladies love the shipping. REL. Sailors sprightly Always rightly Welcome ladies so politely. SAILORS. Ladies who can smile so brightly, Sailors welcome most politely. CAPT. (from poop) Now give three cheers, I'll lead the way ALL. Hurrah! hurrah! hurray!
Enter Sir Joseph with Cousin Hebe.
SONG – SIR JOSEPH
I am the monarch of the sea, The ruler of the Queen's Navee, Whose praise Great Britain loudly chants. COUSIN HEBE. And we are his sisters and his cousins and his aunts! REL. And we are his sisters and his cousins and his aunts! SIR JOSEPH. When at anchor here I ride, My bosom swells with pride, And I snap my fingers at the foeman's taunts; COUSIN HEBE. And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts! ALL. And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts! SIR JOSEPH. But when the breezes blow, I generally go below, And seek the seclusion that a cabin grants; COUSIN HEBE. And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts! ALL. And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts! His sisters and his cousins, Whom he reckons up by dozens, And his aunts!
SONG – SIR JOSEPH
When I was a lad I served a term As office boy to an attorney's firm. I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor, And I polished up the handle of the big front door. I polished up that handle so carefullee That now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. He polished up that handle, etc.
As office boy I made such a mark That they gave me the post of a junior clerk. I served the writs with a smile so bland, And I copied all the letters in a big round hand – I copied all the letters in a hand so free, That now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. He copied all the letters, etc.
In serving writs I made such a name That an articled clerk I soon became; I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit For the pass examination at the Institute. And that pass examination did so well for me That now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. That pass examination, etc.
Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip That they took me into the partnership. And that junior partnership, I ween, Was the only ship that I ever had seen. But that kind of ship so suited me, That now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. But that kind of ship, etc.
I grew so rich that I was sent By a pocket borough into Parliament. I always voted at my party's call, And I never thought of thinking for myself at all. I thought so little, they rewarded me By making me the ruler of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. He thought so little, etc.
Now landsmen all, whoever you may be, If you want to rise to the top of the tree, If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool, Be careful to be guided by this golden rule – Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee!
CHORUS. Stick close to your desks, etc.
SIR JOSEPH. You've a remarkably fine crew, Captain Corcoran.
CAPT. It is a fine crew, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. (Examining a very small midshipman) A British sailor is a splendid fellow, Captain Corcoran.
CAPT. A splendid fellow indeed, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. I hope you treat your crew kindly, Captain Corcoran.
CAPT. Indeed I hope so, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. Never forget that they are the bulwarks of England's greatness, Captain Corcoran.
CAPT. So I have always considered them, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. No bullying, I trust – no strong language of any kind, eh?
CAPT. Oh, never, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. What, never?
CAPT. Hardly ever, Sir Joseph. They are an excellent crew, and do their work thoroughly without it.
SIR JOSEPH. Don't patronise them, sir – pray, don't patronise them.
CAPT. Certainly not, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. That you are their captain is an accident of birth. I cannot permit these noble fellows to be patronised because an accident of birth has placed you above them and them below you.
CAPT. I am the last person to insult a British sailor, Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. You are the last person who did, Captain Corcoran. Desire that splendid seaman to step forward.
Dick Deadeye comes forward.
SIR JOSEPH. No, no, the other splendid seaman.
CAPT. Ralph Rackstraw, three paces to the front – march!
SIR JOSEPH (sternly). If what?
CAPT. I beg your pardon – I don't think I understand you.
SIR JOSEPH. If you please.
CAPT. Oh, yes, of course. If you please.
Ralph steps forward.
SIR JOSEPH. You're a remarkably fine fellow.
RALPH. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. And a first-rate seaman, I'll be bound.
RALPH. There's not a smarter topman in the Navy, your honour, though I say it who shouldn't.
SIR JOSEPH. Not at all. Proper self-respect, nothing more. Can you dance a hornpipe?
RALPH. No, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. That's a pity: all sailors should dance hornpipes. I will teach you one this evening, after dinner. Now tell me – don't be afraid – how does your captain treat you, eh?
RALPH. A better captain don't walk the deck, your honour.
ALL. Aye! aye!
SIR JOSEPH. Good. I like to hear you speak well of your commanding officer; I daresay he don't deserve it, but still it does you credit. Can you sing?
RALPH. I can hum a little, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. Then hum this at your leisure. (Giving him MS. music.) It is a song that I have composed for the use of the Royal Navy. It is designed to encourage independence of thought and action in the lower branches of the service, and to teach the principle that a British sailor is any man's equal, excepting mine. Now, Captain Corcoran, a word with you in your cabin, on a tender and sentimental subject.
CAPT. Aye, aye, Sir Joseph. (Crossing) Boatswain, in commemoration of this joyous occasion, see that extra grog is served out to the ship's company at seven bells.
BOAT. Beg pardon. If what, your honour?
CAPT. If what? I don't think I understand you.
BOAT. If you please, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. The gentleman is quite right. If you please.
CAPT. (stamping his foot impatiently) If you please!
SIR JOSEPH. For I hold that on the seas The expression "If you please" A particularly gentlemanly tone implants. COUSIN HEBE. And so do his sisters and his cousins and his aunts! ALL. And so do his sisters and his cousins and his aunts!
Exeunt Sir Joseph and Relatives.
BOAT. Ah! Sir Joseph's a true gentleman; courteous and considerate to the very humblest.
RALPH. True, Boatswain, but we are not the very humblest. Sir Joseph has explained our true position to us. As he says, a British seaman is any man's equal – excepting his – and if Sir Joseph says that, is it not our duty to believe him?
ALL. Well spoke! well spoke!
DICK. You're on a wrong tack, and so is he. He means well, but he don't know. When people have to obey other people's orders, equality's out of the question.
ALL (recoiling). Horrible! horrible!
BOAT. Dick Deadeye, if you go for to infuriate this here ship's company too far, I won't answer for being able to hold 'em in. I'm shocked! that's what I am – shocked!
RALPH. Messmates, my mind's made up. I'll speak to the captain's daughter, and tell her, like an honest man, of the honest love I have for her.
ALL. Aye! aye!
RALPH. Is not my love as good as another's? Is not my heart as true as another's? Have I not hands and eyes and ears and limbs like another?
ALL. Aye! aye!
RALPH. True, I lack birth —
BOAT. You've a berth on board this very ship.
RALPH. Well said – I had forgotten that. Messmates – what do you say? Do you approve my determination?
ALL. We do.
DICK. I don't.
BOAT. What is to be done with this here hopeless chap? Let us sing him the song that Sir Joseph has kindly composed for us. Perhaps it will bring this here miserable creetur to a proper state of mind.
GLEE – RALPH, BOATSWAIN, BOATSWAIN'S MATE, and CHORUS
A British tar is a soaring soul, As free as a mountain bird, His energetic fist should be ready to resist A dictatorial word. His nose should pant and his lip should curl, His cheeks should flame and his brow should furl, His bosom should heave and his heart should glow, And his fist be ever ready for a knock-down blow.
CHORUS. His nose should pant, etc.
His eyes should flash with an inborn fire, His brow with scorn be wrung; He never should bow down to a domineering frown, Or the tang of a tyrant tongue. His foot should stamp and his throat should growl, His hair should twirl and his face should scowl; His eyes should flash and his breast protrude, And this should be his customary attitude. (Pose.)
CHORUS. His foot should stamp, etc.
All dance off excepting Ralph, who remains, leaning pensively against the bulwark. Enter Josephine from cabin.
JOS. It is useless – Sir Joseph's attentions nauseate me. I know that he is a truly great and good man, for he told me so himself, but to me he seems tedious, fretful, and dictatorial. Yet his must be a mind of no common order, or he would not dare to teach my dear father to dance a hornpipe on the cabin table. (Seeing Ralph.) Ralph Rackstraw! (Overcome by emotion.)
RALPH. Aye, lady – no other than poor Ralph Rackstraw!
JOS. (aside). How my heart beats! (Aloud) And why poor, Ralph?
RALPH. I am poor in the essence of happiness, lady – rich only in never-ending unrest. In me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences – thither by subjective emotions – wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope – plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. I hope I make myself clear, lady?
JOS. Perfectly. (Aside) His simple eloquence goes to my heart. Oh, if I dared – but no, the thought is madness! (Aloud) Dismiss these foolish fancies; they torture you but needlessly. Come, make one effort.
RALPH (aside). I will – one. (Aloud) Josephine!
JOS. (indignantly). Sir!
RALPH. Aye, even though Jove's armoury were launched at the head of the audacious mortal whose lips, unhallowed by relationship, dared to breathe that precious word, yet would I breathe it once, and then perchance be silent evermore. Josephine, in one brief breath I will concentrate the hopes, the doubts, the anxious fears of six weary months. Josephine, I am a British sailor, and I love you!
JOS. Sir, this audacity! (Aside) Oh, my heart, my beating heart! (Aloud) This unwarrantable presumption on the part of a common sailor! (Aside) Common! oh, the irony of the word! (Crossing, aloud) Oh, sir, you forget the disparity in our ranks.
RALPH. I forget nothing, haughty lady. I love you desperately, my life is in your hands – I lay it at your feet! Give me hope, and what I lack in education and polite accomplishments, that I will endeavour to acquire. Drive me to despair, and in death alone I shall look for consolation. I am proud and cannot stoop to implore. I have spoken and I wait your word.
JOS. You shall not wait long. Your proffered love I haughtily reject. Go, sir, and learn to cast your eyes on some village maiden in your own poor rank – they should be lowered before your captain's daughter.
DUET – JOSEPHINE and RALPH
JOS. Refrain, audacious tar, Your suit from pressing, Remember what you are, And whom addressing! (Aside.) I'd laugh my rank to scorn In union holy, Were he more highly born Or I more lowly! RALPH. Proud lady, have your way, Unfeeling beauty! You speak and I obey, It is my duty! I am the lowliest tar That sails the water, And you, proud maiden, are My captain's daughter! (Aside.) My heart with anguish torn Bows down before her, She laughs my love to scorn, Yet I adore her!
Repeat refrain, ensemble, then exit Josephine into cabin.
RECITATIVE – RALPH
Can I survive this overbearing Or live a life of mad despairing, My proffered love despised, rejected? No, no, it's not to be expected!
Messmates, ahoy! Come here! Come here!
Enter Sailors, Hebe, and Relatives.
ALL. Aye, aye, my boy, What cheer, what cheer? Now tell us, pray, Without delay, What does she say – What cheer, what cheer? RALPH (to Cousin Hebe). The maiden treats my suit with scorn, Rejects my humble gift, my lady; She says I am ignobly born, And cuts my hopes adrift, my lady.
ALL. Oh, cruel one.
DICK. She spurns your suit? Oho! Oho! I told you so, I told you so.
SAILORS and RELATIVES. Shall (we/they) submit? Are (we/they) but slaves? Love comes alike to high and low – Britannia's sailors rule the waves, And shall they stoop to insult? No, no! DICK. You must submit, you are but slaves; A lady she! Oho! Oho! You lowly toilers of the waves, She spurns you all – I told you so!
RALPH. My friends, my leave of life I'm taking, For oh, my heart, my heart is breaking; When I am gone, oh, prithee tell the maid That as I died, I loved her well!
ALL (turning away, weeping). Of life, alas! his leave he's taking, For ah! his faithful heart is breaking; When he is gone we'll surely tell the maid That as he died, he loved her well.
During Chorus Boatswain has loaded pistol, which he hands to Ralph.
RALPH. Be warned, my messmates all Who love in rank above you – For Josephine I fall!
Puts pistol to his head. All the sailors stop their ears.
Enter Josephine on deck
JOS. Ah! stay your hand – I love you! ALL. Ah! stay your hand – she loves you! RALPH. (incredulously). Loves me? JOS. Loves you! ALL. Yes, yes – ah, yes, she loves you!
SAILORS and RELATIVES and JOSEPHINE
Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen, For now the sky is all serene; The god of day – the orb of love – Has hung his ensign high above; The sky is all ablaze. With wooing words and loving song, We'll chase the lagging hours along, And if (I/we) find the maiden coy, (I'll/We'll) murmur forth decorous joy In dreamy roundelays!
He thinks he's won his Josephine, But though the sky is now serene, A frowning thunderbolt above May end their ill-assorted love Which now is all ablaze. Our captain, ere the day is gone, Will be extremely down upon The wicked men who art employ To make his Josephine less coy In many various ways.
JOS. This very night HEBE. With bated breath RALPH. And muffled oar – JOS. Without a light HEBE. As still as death RALPH. We'll steal ashore JOS. A clergyman RALPH. Shall make us one BOAT. At half-past ten JOS. And then we can RALPH. Return, for none BOAT. Can part them then! ALL. This very night, etc.
Dick appears at hatchway.
DICK. Forbear, nor carry out the scheme you've planned; She is a lady – you a foremast hand! Remember, she's your gallant captain's daughter, And you the meanest slave that crawls the water! ALL. Back, vermin, back, Nor mock us! Back, vermin, back, You shock us!
Let's give three cheers for the sailor's bride Who casts all thought of rank aside – Who gives up home and fortune too For the honest love of a sailor true! For a British tar is a soaring soul As free as a mountain bird! His energetic fist should be ready to resist A dictatorial word! His foot should stamp and his throat should growl, His hair should twirl and his face should scowl, His eyes should flash and his breast protrude, And this should be his customary attitude – (pose).
Act II 
Same Scene. Night. Awning removed. Moonlight. Captain discovered singing on poop deck, and accompanying himself on a mandolin. Little Buttercup seated on quarterdeck, gazing sentimentally at him.
SONG – CAPTAIN
Fair moon, to thee I sing, Bright regent of the heavens, Say, why is everything Either at sixes or at sevens? I have lived hitherto Free from breath of slander, Beloved by all my crew – A really popular commander. But now my kindly crew rebel, My daughter to a tar is partial, Sir Joseph storms, and, sad to tell, He threatens a court martial! Fair moon, to thee I sing, Bright regent of the heavens, Say, why is everything Either at sixes or at sevens?
BUT. How sweetly he carols forth his melody to the unconscious moon! Of whom is he thinking? Of some high-born beauty? It may be! Who is poor Little Buttercup that she should expect his glance to fall on one so lowly! And yet if he knew – if he only knew!
CAPT. (coming down) Ah! Little Buttercup, still on board? That is not quite right, little one. It would have been more respectable to have gone on shore at dusk.
BUT. True, dear Captain – but the recollection of your sad, pale face seemed to chain me to the ship. I would fain see you smile before I go.
CAPT. Ah! Little Buttercup, I fear it will be long before I recover my accustomed cheerfulness, for misfortunes crowd upon me, and all my old friends seem to have turned against me!
BUT. Oh no – do not say "all", dear Captain. That were unjust to one, at least.
CAPT. True, for you are staunch to me. (Aside.) If ever I gave my heart again, methinks it would be to such a one as this! (Aloud.) I am touched to the heart by your innocent regard for me, and were we differently situated, I think I could have returned it. But as it is, I fear I can never be more to you than a friend.
BUT. I understand! You hold aloof from me because you are rich and lofty – and I poor and lowly. But take care! The poor bumboat woman has gipsy blood in her veins, and she can read destinies.
BUT. There is a change in store for you!
CAPT. A change?
BUT. Aye – be prepared!
DUET – LITTLE BUTTERCUP and CAPTAIN
BUT. Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream; Highlows pass as patent leathers; Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers. CAPT. (puzzled). Very true, So they do. BUT. Black sheep dwell in every fold; All that glitters is not gold; Storks turn out to be but logs; Bulls are but inflated frogs. CAPT. (puzzled). So they be, Frequentlee. BUT. Drops the wind and stops the mill; Turbot is ambitious brill; Gild the farthing if you will, Yet it is a farthing still. CAPT. (puzzled). Yes, I know. That is so. Though to catch your drift I'm striving, It is shady – it is shady; I don't see at what you're driving, Mystic lady – mystic lady. (Aside.) Stern conviction's o'er me stealing, That the mystic lady's dealing In oracular revealing. BUT. (aside). Stern conviction's o'er him stealing, That the mystic lady's dealing In oracular revealing. Yes, I know – That is so!
CAPT. Though I'm anything but clever, I could talk like that for ever: Once a cat was killed by care; Only brave deserve the fair. BUT. Very true, So they do. CAPT. Wink is often good as nod; Spoils the child who spares the rod; Thirsty lambs run foxy dangers; Dogs are found in many mangers. BUT. Frequentlee, I agree. CAPT. Paw of cat the chestnut snatches; Worn-out garments show new patches; Only count the chick that hatches; Men are grown-up catchy-catchies. BUT. Yes, I know, That is so. (Aside.) Though to catch my drift he's striving, I'll dissemble – I'll dissemble; When he sees at what I'm driving, Let him tremble – let him tremble! ENSEMBLE. Though a mystic tone (I/you) borrow, (You will/I shall) learn the truth with sorrow, Here to-day and gone to-morrow; Yes, I know – That is so!
At the end, exit Little Buttercup melodramatically.
CAPT. Incomprehensible as her utterances are, I nevertheless feel that they are dictated by a sincere regard for me. But to what new misery is she referring? Time alone can tell!
Enter Sir Joseph.
SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, I am much disappointed with your daughter. In fact, I don't think she will do.
CAPT. She won't do, Sir Joseph!
SIR JOSEPH. I'm afraid not. The fact is, that although I have urged my suit with as much eloquence as is consistent with an official utterance, I have done so hitherto without success. How do you account for this?
CAPT. Really, Sir Joseph, I hardly know. Josephine is of course sensible of your condescension.
SIR JOSEPH. She naturally would be.
CAPT. But perhaps your exalted rank dazzles her.
SIR JOSEPH. You think it does?
CAPT. I can hardly say; but she is a modest girl, and her social position is far below your own. It may be that she feels she is not worthy of you.
SIR JOSEPH. That is really a very sensible suggestion, and displays more knowledge of human nature than I had given you credit for.
CAPT. See, she comes. If your lordship would kindly reason with her and assure her officially that it is a standing rule at the Admiralty that love levels all ranks, her respect for an official utterance might induce her to look upon your offer in its proper light.
SIR JOSEPH. It is not unlikely. I will adopt your suggestion. But soft, she is here. Let us withdraw, and watch our opportunity.
Enter Josephine from cabin. First Lord and Captain retire.
SCENA – JOSEPHINE
The hours creep on apace, My guilty heart is quaking! Oh, that I might retrace The step that I am taking! Its folly it were easy to be showing, What I am giving up and whither going. On the one hand, papa's luxurious home, Hung with ancestral armour and old brasses, Carved oak and tapestry from distant Rome, Rare "blue and white" Venetian finger-glasses, Rich oriental rugs, luxurious sofa pillows, And everything that isn't old, from Gillow's. And on the other, a dark and dingy room, In some back street with stuffy children crying, Where organs yell, and clacking housewives fume, And clothes are hanging out all day a-drying. With one cracked looking-glass to see your face in, And dinner served up in a pudding basin!
A simple sailor, lowly born, Unlettered and unknown, Who toils for bread from early morn 'Til half the night has flown! No golden rank can he impart-- No wealth of house or land-- No fortune save his trusty heart And honest brown right hand! And yet he is so wondrous fair That love for one so passing rare, So peerless in his manly beauty, Were little else than solemn duty! Oh, god of love and god of reason, say, Which of you twain shall my poor heart obey?
Sir Joseph and Captain enter.
SIR JOSEPH. Madam, it has been represented to me that you are appalled by my exalted rank. I desire to convey to you officially my assurance, that if your hesitation is attributable to that circumstance, it is uncalled for.
JOS. Oh! then your lordship is of opinion that married happiness is not inconsistent with discrepancy in rank?
SIR JOSEPH. I am officially of that opinion.
JOS. That the high and the lowly may be truly happy together, provided that they truly love one another?
SIR JOSEPH. Madam, I desire to convey to you officially my opinion that love is a platform upon which all ranks meet.
JOS. I thank you, Sir Joseph. I did hesitate, but I will hesitate no longer. (Aside.) He little thinks how eloquently he has pleaded his rival's cause!
TRIO – FIRST LORD, CAPTAIN, and JOSEPHINE
CAPT. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore, Though his lordship's station's mighty, Though stupendous be his brain, Though your tastes are mean and flighty And your fortune poor and plain, CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of (his/my) lordship With a humble captain's child! CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter – JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter – SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water – JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! ALL. Let the air with joy be laden, Rend with songs the air above, For the union of a maiden With the man who owns her love! SIR JOSEPH. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore, Though your nautical relation (alluding to Capt.) In my set could scarcely pass – Though you occupy a station In the lower middle class — CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of (my/your) lordship With a humble captain's child! CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter – JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter – SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water – JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! ALL. Let the air with joy be laden, Rend with songs the air above, For the union of a maiden With the man who owns her love! JOS. Never mind the why and wherefore, Love can level ranks, and therefore I admit the jurisdiction; Ably have you played your part; You have carried firm conviction To my hesitating heart. CAPT. and Ring the merry bells on board-ship, SIR JOSEPH. Rend the air with warbling wild, For the union of (my/his) lordship With a humble captain's child! CAPT. For a humble captain's daughter – JOS. For a gallant captain's daughter – SIR JOSEPH. And a lord who rules the water – JOS. (aside). And a tar who ploughs the water! (Aloud.) Let the air with joy be laden – CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. Ring the merry bells on board-ship – JOS. For the union of a maiden – CAPT. and SIR JOSEPH. For her union with his lordship. ALL. Rend with songs the air above For the man who owns her love!
CAPT. Sir Joseph, I cannot express to you my delight at the happy result of your eloquence. Your argument was unanswerable.
SIR JOSEPH. Captain Corcoran, it is one of the happiest characteristics of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably regarded as unanswerable.
Exit Sir Joseph.
CAPT. At last my fond hopes are to be crowned. My only daughter is to be the bride of a Cabinet Minister. The prospect is Elysian.
During this speech Dick Deadeye has entered.
CAPT. Deadeye! You here? Don't! (Recoiling from him.)
DICK. Ah, don't shrink from me, Captain. I'm unpleasant to look at, and my name's agin me, but I ain't as bad as I seem.
CAPT. What would you with me?
DICK (mysteriously). I'm come to give you warning.
CAPT. Indeed! do you propose to leave the Navy then?
DICK. No, no, you misunderstand me; listen!
DUET – CAPTAIN and DICK DEADEYE
DICK. Kind Captain, I've important information, Sing hey, the kind commander that you are, About a certain intimate relation, Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH. The merry, merry maiden and the tar. CAPT. Good fellow, in conundrums you are speaking, Sing hey, the mystic sailor that you are; The answer to them vainly I am seeking; Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH. The merry, merry maiden and the tar. DICK. Kind Captain, your young lady is a-sighing, Sing hey, the simple captain that you are, This very night with Rackstraw to be flying; Sing hey, the merry maiden and the tar. BOTH. The merry, merry maiden and the tar. CAPT. Good fellow, you have given timely warning, Sing hey, the thoughtful sailor that you are, I'll talk to Master Rackstraw in the morning: Sing hey, the cat-o'-nine-tails and the tar. (Producing a "cat".) BOTH. The merry cat-o'-nine-tails and the tar!
CAPT. Dick Deadeye, I thank you for your warning – I will at once take means to arrest their flight. This boat cloak will afford me ample disguise – So! (Envelops himself in a mysterious cloak, holding it before his face.)
DICK. Ha, ha! They are foiled – foiled – foiled!
Enter Crew on tiptoe, with Ralph and Boatswain meeting Josephine, who enters from cabin on tiptoe, with bundle of necessaries, and accompanied by Little Buttercup.
ENSEMBLE – MEN
Carefully on tiptoe stealing, Breathing gently as we may, Every step with caution feeling, We will softly steal away.
Captain stamps – Chord.
ALL (much alarmed). Goodness me – Why, what was that? DICK. Silent be, It was the cat! ALL. (reassured). It was – it was the cat! CAPT. (producing cat-o'-nine-tails). They're right, it was the cat!
ALL. Pull ashore, in fashion steady, Hymen will defray the fare, For a clergyman is ready To unite the happy pair!
Stamp as before, and Chord.
ALL. Goodness me – Why, what was that? DICK. Silent be, Again the cat! ALL. It was again that cat! CAPT. (aside) They're right, it was the cat!
CAPT. (throwing off cloak). Hold! (All start.)
Pretty daughter of mine, I insist upon knowing Where you may be going With these sons of the brine, For my excellent crew, Though foes they could thump any, Are scarcely fit company, My daughter, for you. CREW. Now hark at that, do! Though foes we could thump any, We are scarcely fit company For a lady like you!
RALPH. Proud officer, that haughty lip uncurl! Vain man, suppress that supercilious sneer, For I have dared to love your matchless girl, A fact well known to all my messmates here!
CAPT. Oh, horror!
RALPH and JOS. (I/He) humble, poor, and lowly born, The meanest in the port division-- The butt of epauletted scorn-- The mark of quarter-deck derision-- (Have/Has) dared to raise (my/his) wormy eyes Above the dust to which you'd mould (me/him) In manhood's glorious pride to rise, (I am/He is) an Englishman -- behold (me/him)!
ALL. He is an Englishman!
BOAT. He is an Englishman! For he himself has said it, And it's greatly to his credit, That he is an Englishman! ALL. That he is an Englishman! BOAT. For he might have been a Roosian, A French, or Turk, or Proosian, Or perhaps Itali-an! ALL. Or perhaps Itali-an! BOAT. But in spite of all temptations To belong to other nations, He remains an Englishman! ALL. For in spite of all temptations, etc.
CAPT. (trying to repress his anger).
In uttering a reprobation To any British tar, I try to speak with moderation, But you have gone too far. I'm very sorry to disparage A humble foremast lad, But to seek your captain's child in marriage, Why damme, it's too bad!
During this, Cousin Hebe and Female Relatives have entered.
ALL (shocked). Oh! CAPT. Yes, damme, it's too bad! ALL. Oh! CAPT. and DICK DEADEYE. Yes, damme, it's too bad.
During this, Sir Joseph has appeared on poop-deck. He is horrified at the bad language.
HEBE. Did you hear him? Did you hear him? Oh, the monster overbearing! Don't go near him – don't go near him – He is swearing – he is swearing! SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress, I find it is not easy to express; My amazement – my surprise – You may learn from the expression of my eyes! CAPT. My lord – one word – the facts are not before you The word was injudicious, I allow – But hear my explanation, I implore you, And you will be indignant too, I vow! SIR JOSEPH. I will hear of no defence, Attempt none if you're sensible. That word of evil sense Is wholly indefensible. Go, ribald, get you hence To your cabin with celerity. This is the consequence Of ill-advised asperity!
Exit Captain, disgraced, followed by Josephine.
ALL. This is the consequence Of ill-advised asperity! SIR JOSEPH. For I'll teach you all ere long To refrain from language strong For I haven't any sympathy for ill-bred taunts! HEBE. No more have his sisters, nor his cousins, nor his aunts! ALL. For he is an Englishman, etc.
SIR JOSEPH. Now, tell me, my fine fellow – for you are a fine fellow –
RALPH. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. How came your captain so far to forget himself? I am quite sure you had given him no cause for annoyance.
RALPH. Please your honour, it was thus-wise. You see I'm only a topman – a mere foremast hand –
SIR JOSEPH. Don't be ashamed of that. Your position as a topman is a very exalted one.
RALPH. Well, your honour, love burns as brightly in the fo'c'sle as it does on the quarter-deck, and Josephine is the fairest bud that ever blossomed upon the tree of a poor fellow's wildest hopes.
Enter Josephine; she rushes to Ralph's arms.
JOS. Darling! (Sir Joseph horrified.)
RALPH. She is the figurehead of my ship of life – the bright beacon that guides me into my port of happiness – the rarest, the purest gem that ever sparkled on a poor but worthy fellow's trusting brow!
ALL. Very pretty, very pretty!
SIR JOSEPH. Insolent sailor, you shall repent this outrage. Seize him!
Two Marines seize him and handcuff him.
JOS. Oh, Sir Joseph, spare him, for I love him tenderly.
SIR JOSEPH. Pray, don't. I will teach this presumptuous mariner to discipline his affections. Have you such a thing as a dungeon on board?
ALL. We have!
DICK. They have!
SIR JOSEPH. Then load him with chains and take him there at once!
RALPH. Farewell, my own, Light of my life, farewell! For crime unknown I go to a dungeon cell. JOS. I will atone; In the meantime farewell! And all alone Rejoice in your dungeon cell! SIR JOSEPH. A bone, a bone I'll pick with this sailor fell; Let him be shown At once to his dungeon cell.
BOATSWAIN, DICK DEADEYE, and COUSIN HEBE He'll hear no tone Of the maiden he loves so well! No telephone Communicates with his cell!
BUT. (mysteriously). But when is known The secret I have to tell, Wide will be thrown The door of his dungeon cell. ALL. For crime unknown He goes to a dungeon cell!
Ralph is led off in custody.
SIR JOSEPH. My pain and my distress Again it is not easy to express. My amazement, my surprise, Again you may discover from my eyes. ALL. How terrible the aspect of his eyes!
BUT. Hold! Ere upon your loss You lay much stress, A long-concealed crime I would confess.
SONG – BUTTERCUP
A many years ago, When I was young and charming, As some of you may know, I practised baby-farming. ALL. Now this is most alarming! When she was young and charming, She practised baby-farming, A many years ago. BUT. Two tender babes I nussed: One was of low condition, The other, upper crust, A regular patrician. ALL (explaining to each other). Now, this is the position: One was of low condition, The other a patrician, A many years ago. BUT. Oh, bitter is my cup! However could I do it? I mixed those children up, And not a creature knew it! ALL. However could you do it? Some day, no doubt, you'll rue it, Although no creature knew it, So many years ago. BUT. In time each little waif Forsook his foster-mother; The well-born babe was Ralph – Your captain was the other! ALL. They left their foster-mother; The one was Ralph, our brother, Our captain was the other, A many years ago.
SIR JOSEPH. Then I am to understand that Captain Corcoran and Ralph were exchanged in childhood's happy hour – that Ralph is really the Captain, and the Captain is Ralph?
BUT. That is the idea I intended to convey, officially!
SIR JOSEPH. And very well you have conveyed it.
BUT. Aye! aye! yer 'onour.
SIR JOSEPH. Dear me! Let them appear before me, at once!
Ralph enters as Captain; Captain as a common sailor. Josephine rushes to his arms.
JOS. My father – a common sailor!
CAPT. It is hard, is it not, my dear?
SIR JOSEPH. This is a very singular occurrence; I congratulate you both. (To Ralph.) Desire that remarkably fine seaman to step forward.
RALPH. Corcoran. Three paces to the front – march!
CAPT. If what?
RALPH. If what? I don't think I understand you.
CAPT. If you please.
SIR JOSEPH. The gentleman is quite right. If you please.
RALPH. Oh! If you please. (Captain steps forward.)
SIR JOSEPH (to Captain). You are an extremely fine fellow.
CAPT. Yes, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. So it seems that you were Ralph, and Ralph was you.
CAPT. So it seems, your honour.
SIR JOSEPH. Well, I need not tell you that after this change in your condition, a marriage with your daughter will be out of the question.
CAPT. Don't say that, your honour – love levels all ranks.
SIR JOSEPH. It does to a considerable extent, but it does not level them as much as that. (Handing Josephine to Ralph.) Here – take her, sir, and mind you treat her kindly.
RALPH and JOS. Oh bliss, oh rapture!
CAPT. and BUT. Oh rapture, oh bliss!
SIR JOSEPH. Sad my lot and sorry, What shall I do? I cannot live alone! HEBE. Fear nothing – while I live I'll not desert you. I'll soothe and comfort your declining days. SIR JOSEPH. No, don't do that. HEBE. Yes, but indeed I'd rather — SIR JOSEPH (resigned). To-morrow morn our vows shall all be plighted, Three loving pairs on the same day united!
QUARTETTE – JOSEPHINE, HEBE, RALPH, and DEADEYE
Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen, The clouded sky is now serene, The god of day – the orb of love, Has hung his ensign high above; The sky is all ablaze. With wooing words and loving song, We'll chase the lagging hours along, And if (he finds/I find) the maiden coy, We'll murmur forth decorous joy, In dreamy roundelay.
CAPT. For he's the Captain of the Pinafore. ALL. And a right good captain too! CAPT. And though before my fall I was captain of you all, I'm a member of the crew. ALL. Although before his fall, etc. CAPT. I shall marry with a wife, In my humble rank of life, (turning to But.) And you, my own, are she – I must wander to and fro, But wherever I may go, I shall never be untrue to thee! ALL. What, never? CAPT. No, never! ALL. What, never? CAPT. Hardly ever! ALL. Hardly ever be untrue to thee. Then give three cheers, and one cheer more For the former Captain of the Pinafore.
BUT. For he loves Little Buttercup, dear Little Buttercup, Though I could never tell why; But still he loves Buttercup, poor Little Buttercup, Sweet Little Buttercup, aye! ALL. For he loves, etc.
SIR JOSEPH. I'm the monarch of the sea, And when I've married thee (to Hebe), I'll be true to the devotion that my love implants, HEBE. Then good-bye to his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts, Especially his cousins, Whom he reckons up by dozens, His sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
ALL. For he is an Englishman, And he himself hath said it, And it's greatly to his credit That he is an Englishman!
See also 
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|