2017-08-09 18:49:48 UTC
major in the sally ann...britomart is mummy
from major barbara, act 3, 1906
"BARBARA [revolted] You saved my soul! What do you mean?
UNDERSHAFT. I fed you and clothed you and housed you. I took care that
you should have money enough to live handsomely--more than enough; so
that you could be wasteful, careless, generous. That saved your soul
from the seven deadly sins.
BARBARA [bewildered] The seven deadly sins!
UNDERSHAFT. Yes, the deadly seven. [Counting on his fingers] Food,
clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children. Nothing
can lift those seven millstones from Man's neck but money; and the
spirit cannot soar until the millstones are lifted. I lifted them from
your spirit. I enabled Barbara to become Major Barbara; and I saved
her from the crime of poverty.
CUSINS. Do you call poverty a crime?
UNDERSHAFT. The worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues
beside it: all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison.
Poverty blights whole cities; spreads horrible pestilences; strikes
dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound or smell of
it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a
blow now and a curse then: what do they matter? they are only the
accidents and illnesses of life: there are not fifty genuine
professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor
people, abject people, dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed people. They
poison us morally and physically: they kill the happiness of society:
they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize
unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us
down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime: we all fear poverty.
Pah! [turning on Barbara] you talk of your half-saved ruffian in West
Ham: you accuse me of dragging his soul back to perdition. Well, bring
him to me here; and I will drag his soul back again to salvation for
you. Not by words and dreams; but by thirty-eight shillings a week, a
sound house in a handsome street, and a permanent job. In three weeks
he will have a fancy waistcoat; in three months a tall hat and a
chapel sitting; before the end of the year he will shake hands with a
duchess at a Primrose League meeting, and join the Conservative Party.
BARBARA. And will he be the better for that?
UNDERSHAFT. You know he will. Don't be a hypocrite, Barbara. He will
be better fed, better housed, better clothed, better behaved; and his
children will be pounds heavier and bigger. That will be better than
an American cloth mattress in a shelter, chopping firewood, eating
bread and treacle, and being forced to kneel down from time to time to
thank heaven for it: knee drill, I think you call it. It is cheap work
converting starving men with a Bible in one hand and a slice of bread
in the other. I will undertake to convert West Ham to Mahometanism on
the same terms. Try your hand on my men: their souls are hungry
because their bodies are full.
BARBARA. And leave the east end to starve?
UNDERSHAFT [his energetic tone dropping into one of bitter and
brooding remembrance] I was an east ender. I moralized and starved
until one day I swore that I would be a fullfed free man at all
costs--that nothing should stop me except a bullet, neither reason nor
morals nor the lives of other men. I said "Thou shalt starve ere I
starve"; and with that word I became free and great. I was a dangerous
man until I had my will: now I am a useful, beneficent, kindly person.
That is the history of most self-made millionaires, I fancy. When it
is the history of every Englishman we shall have an England worth
LADY BRITOMART. Stop making speeches, Andrew. This is not the place
UNDERSHAFT [punctured] My dear: I have no other means of conveying my
LADY BRITOMART. Your ideas are nonsense. You got oil because you were
selfish and unscrupulous.
UNDERSHAFT. Not at all. I had the strongest scruples about poverty and
starvation. Your moralists are quite unscrupulous about both: they
make virtues of them. I had rather be a thief than a pauper. I had
rather be a murderer than a slave. I don't want to be either; but if
you force the alternative on me, then, by Heaven, I'll choose the
braver and more moral one. I hate poverty and slavery worse than any
other crimes whatsoever. And let me tell you this. Poverty and slavery
have stood up for centuries to your sermons and leading articles: they
will not stand up to my machine guns. Don't preach at them: don't
reason with them. Kill them.
BARBARA. Killing. Is that your remedy for everything?
UNDERSHAFT. It is the final test of conviction, the only lever strong
enough to overturn a social system,..."
"BARBARA. That is why I have no class, Dolly: I come straight out of
the heart of the whole people. If I were middle-class I should turn my
back on my father's business; and we should both live in an artistic
drawingroom, with you reading the reviews in one corner, and I in the
other at the piano, playing Schumann: both very superior persons, and
neither of us a bit of use. Sooner than that, I would sweep out the
guncotton shed, or be one of Bodger's barmaids. Do you know what would
have happened if you had refused papa's offer?"
" LADY BRITOMART. Barbara, I positively forbid you to listen to your
father's abominable wickedness. And you, Adolphus, ought to know
better than to go about saying that wrong things are true. What does
it matter whether they are true if they are wrong?
UNDERSHAFT. What does it matter whether they are wrong if they are