List Of Contents | Contents of Man and Superman, by Bernard Shaw
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Tanner's friends his manner is not in the least deferential, but
cool and reticent, keeping them quite effectually at a distance
whilst giving them no excuse for complaining of him. Nevertheless
he has a vigilant eye on them always, and that, too, rather
cynically, like a man who knows the world well from its seamy
side. He speaks slowly and with a touch of sarcasm; and as he
does not at all affect the gentleman in his speech, it may be
inferred that his smart appearance is a mark of respect to
himself and his own class, not to that which employs him.

He now gets into the car to test his machinery and put his cap
and overcoat on again. Tanner takes off his leather overcoat and
pitches it into the car. The chauffeur (or automobilist or
motoreer or whatever England may presently decide to call him)
looks round inquiringly in the act of stowing away his hammer.

THE CHAUFFEUR. Had enough of it, eh?

TANNER. I may as well walk to the house and stretch my legs and
calm my nerves a little. [Looking at his watch] I suppose you
know that we have come from Hyde Park Corner to Richmond in
twenty-one minutes.

THE CHAUFFEUR. I'd have done it under fifteen if I'd had a clear
road all the way.

TANNER. Why do you do it? Is it for love of sport or for the fun
of terrifying your unfortunate employer?

THE CHAUFFEUR. What are you afraid of?

TANNER. The police, and breaking my neck.

THE CHAUFFEUR. Well, if you like easy going, you can take a bus,
you know. It's cheaper. You pay me to save your time and give you
the value of your thousand pound car. [He sits down calmly].

TANNER. I am the slave of that car and of you too. I dream of the
accursed thing at night.

THE CHAUFFEUR. You'll get over that. If you're going up to the
house, may I ask how long you're goin to stay there? Because if
you mean to put in the whole morning talkin to the ladies, I'11
put the car in the stables and make myself comfortable. If not,
I'll keep the car on the go about here til you come.

TANNER. Better wait here. We shan't be long. There's a young
American gentleman, a Mr Malone, who is driving Mr Robinson down
in his new American steam car.

THE CHAUFFEUR. [springing up and coming hastily out of the car to
Tanner] American steam car! Wot! racin us down from London!

TANNER. Perhaps they're here already.

THE CHAUFFEUR. If I'd known it! [with deep reproach] Why didn't
you tell me, Mr Tanner?

TANNER. Because I've been told that this car is capable of 84
miles an hour; and I already know what YOU are capable of when
there is a rival car on the road. No, Henry: there are things it
is not good for you to know; and this was one of them. However,
cheer up: we are going to have a day after your own heart. The
American is to take Mr Robinson and his sister and Miss
Whitefield. We are to take Miss Rhoda.

THE CHAUFFEUR. [consoled, and musing on another matter] That's
Miss Whitefield's sister, isn't it?


THE CHAUFFEUR. And Miss Whitefield herself is goin in the other
car? Not with you?

TANNER. Why the devil should she come with me? Mr Robinson will
be in the other car. [The Chauffeur looks at Tanner with cool
incredulity, and turns to the car, whistling a popular air softly
to himself. Tanner, a little annoyed, is about to pursue the
subject when he hears the footsteps of Octavius on the gravel.
Octavius is coming from the house, dressed for motoring, but
without his overcoat]. We've lost the race, thank Heaven: here's
Mr Robinson. Well, Tavy, is the steam car a success?

OCTAVIUS. I think so. We came from Hyde Park Corner here in
seventeen minutes. [The Chauffeur, furious, kicks the car with a
groan of vexation]. How long were you?

TANNER. Oh, about three quarters of an hour or so.

THE CHAUFFEUR. [remonstrating] Now, now, Mr Tanner, come now! We
could ha done it easy under fifteen.

TANNER. By the way, let me introduce you. Mr Octavius Robinson:
Mr Enry Straker.

STRAKER. Pleased to meet you, sir. Mr Tanner is gittin at you
with his Enry Straker, you know. You call it Henery. But I don't
mind, bless you.

TANNER. You think it's simply bad taste in me to chaff him, Tavy.
But you're wrong. This man takes more trouble to drop his aiches
than ever his father did to pick them up. It's a mark of caste to
him. I have never met anybody more swollen with the pride of
class than Enry is.

STRAKER. Easy, easy! A little moderation, Mr Tanner.

TANNER. A little moderation, Tavy, you observe. You would tell me
to draw it mild, But this chap has been educated. What's more, he
knows that we haven't. What was that board school of yours,

STRAKER. Sherbrooke Road.

TANNER. Sherbrooke Road! Would any of us say Rugby! Harrow! Eton!
in that tone of intellectual snobbery? Sherbrooke Road is a place
where boys learn something; Eton is a boy farm where we are sent
because we are nuisances at home, and because in after life,
whenever a Duke is mentioned, we can claim him as an old

STRAKER. You don't know nothing about it, Mr. Tanner. It's not
the Board School that does it: it's the Polytechnic.

TANNER. His university, Octavius. Not Oxford, Cambridge, Durham,
Dublin or Glasgow. Not even those Nonconformist holes in Wales.
No, Tavy. Regent Street, Chelsea, the Borough--I don't know half
their confounded names: these are his universities, not mere
shops for selling class limitations like ours. You despise
Oxford, Enry, don't you?

STRAKER. No, I don't. Very nice sort of place, Oxford, I should
think, for people that like that sort of place. They teach you to
be a gentleman there. In the Polytechnic they teach you to be an
engineer or such like. See?

TANNER. Sarcasm, Tavy, sarcasm! Oh, if you could only see into
Enry's soul, the depth of his contempt for a gentleman, the
arrogance of his pride in being an engineer, would appal you. He
positively likes the car to break down because it brings out my
gentlemanly helplessness and his workmanlike skill and resource.

STRAKER. Never you mind him, Mr Robinson. He likes to talk. We
know him, don't we?

OCTAVIUS. [earnestly] But there's a great truth at the bottom of
what he says. I believe most intensely in the dignity of labor.

STRAKER. [unimpressed] That's because you never done any Mr
Robinson. My business is to do away with labor. You'll get more
out of me and a machine than you will out of twenty laborers, and
not so much to drink either.

TANNER. For Heaven's sake, Tavy, don't start him on political
economy. He knows all about it; and we don't. You're only a
poetic Socialist, Tavy: he's a scientific one.

STRAKER. [unperturbed] Yes. Well, this conversation is very
improvin; but I've got to look after the car; and you two want
to talk about your ladies. I know. [He retires to busy himself
about the car; and presently saunters off towards the house].

TANNER. That's a very momentous social phenomenon.

OCTAVIUS. What is?

TANNER. Straker is. Here have we literary and cultured persons
been for years setting up a cry of the New Woman whenever some
unusually old fashioned female came along; and never noticing
the advent of the New Man. Straker's the New Man.

OOCTAVIUS. I see nothing new about him, except your way of
chaffing him. But I don't want to talk about him just now. I want
to speak to you about Ann.

TANNER. Straker knew even that. He learnt it at the Polytechnic,
probably. Well, what about Ann? Have you proposed to her?

OCTAVIUS. [self-reproachfully] I was brute enough to do so last

TANNER. Brute enough! What do you mean?

OCTAVIUS. [dithyrambically] Jack: we men are all coarse. We never
understand how exquisite a woman's sensibilities are. How could I
have done such a thing!

TANNER. Done what, you maudlin idiot?

OCTAVIUS. Yes, I am an idiot. Jack: if you had heard her voice!
if you had seen her tears! I have lain awake all night thinking
of them. If she had reproached me, I could have borne it better.

TANNER. Tears! that's dangerous. What did she say?

OCTAVIUS. She asked me how she could think of anything now but
her dear father. She stifled a sob--[he breaks down].

TANNER. [patting him on the back] Bear it like a man, Tavy, even
if you feel it like an ass. It's the old game: she's not tired of
playing with you yet.

OCTAVIUS. [impatiently] Oh, don't be a fool, Jack. Do you suppose
this eternal shallow cynicism of yours has any real bearing on a
nature like hers?

TANNER. Hm! Did she say anything else?

OCTAVIUS. Yes; and that is why I expose myself and her to your
ridicule by telling you what passed.

TANNER. [remorsefully] No, dear Tavy, not ridicule, on my honor!
However, no matter. Go on.

OCTAVIUS. Her sense of duty is so devout, so perfect, so--

TANNER. Yes: I know. Go on.

OCTAVIUS. You see, under this new arrangement, you and Ramsden
are her guardians; and she considers that all her duty to her
father is now transferred to you. She said she thought I ought to
have spoken to you both in the first instance. Of course she is
right; but somehow it seems rather absurd that I am to come to
you and formally ask to be received as a suitor for your ward's

TANNER. I am glad that love has not totally extinguished your
sense of humor, Tavy.

OCTAVIUS. That answer won't satisfy her.

TANNER. My official answer is, obviously, Bless you, my children:
may you be happy!

OCTAVIUS. I wish you would stop playing the fool about this. If
it is not serious to you, it is to me, and to her.

TANNER. You know very well that she is as free to choose as you.
She does not think so.

TANNER. Oh, doesn't she! just! However, say what you want me to

OCTAVIUS. I want you to tell her sincerely and earnestly what you
think about me. I want you to tell her that you can trust her to
me--that is, if you feel you can.

TANNER. I have no doubt that I can trust her to you. What worries
me is the idea of trusting you to her. Have you read
Maeterlinck's book about the bee?

OCTAVIUS. [keeping his temper with difficulty] I am not
discussing literature at present.

TANNER. Be just a little patient with me. I am not discussing
literature: the book about the bee is natural history. It's an
awful lesson to mankind. You think that you are Ann's suitor;
that you are the pursuer and she the pursued; that it is your
part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to overcome. Fool: it is
you who are the pursued, the marked down quarry, the destined
prey. You need not sit looking longingly at the bait through the
wires of the trap: the door is open, and will remain so until it
shuts behind you for ever.

OCTAVIUS. I wish I could believe that, vilely as you put it.

TANNER. Why, man, what other work has she in life but to get a
husband? It is a woman's business to get married as soon as
possible, and a man's to keep unmarried as long as he can. You
have your poems and your tragedies to work at: Ann has nothing.

OCTAVIUS. I cannot write without inspiration. And nobody can give
me that except Ann.

TANNER. Well, hadn't you better get it from her at a safe
distance? Petrarch didn't see half as much of Laura, nor Dante
of Beatrice, as you see of Ann now; and yet they wrote
first-rate poetry--at least so I'm told. They never exposed their
idolatry to the test of domestic familiarity; and it lasted them
to their graves. Marry Ann and at the end of a week you'll find
no more inspiration than in a plate of muffins.

OCTAVIUS. You think I shall tire of her.

TANNER. Not at all: you don't get tired of muffins. But you don't
find inspiration in them; and you won't in her when she ceases to
be a poet's dream and becomes a solid eleven stone wife. You'll
be forced to dream about somebody else; and then there will be a

OCTAVIUS. This sort of talk is no use, Jack. You don't
understand. You have never been in love.

TANNER. I! I have never been out of it. Why, I am in love even
with Ann. But I am neither the slave of love nor its dupe. Go to
the bee, thou poet: consider her ways and be wise. By Heaven,
Tavy, if women could do without our work, and we ate their
children's bread instead of making it, they would kill us as
the spider kills her mate or as the bees kill the drone. And
they would be right if we were good for nothing but love.

OCTAVIUS. Ah, if we were only good enough for Love! There is
nothing like Love: there is nothing else but Love: without it
the world would be a dream of sordid horror.

TANNER. And this--this is the man who asks me to give him the
hand of my ward! Tavy: I believe we were changed in our cradles,
and that you are the real descendant of Don Juan.

OCTAVIUS. I beg you not to say anything like that to Ann.

TANNER. Don't be afraid. She has marked you for her own; and
nothing will stop her now. You are doomed. [Straker comes back
with a newspaper]. Here comes the New Man, demoralizing himself
with a halfpenny paper as usual.

STRAKER. Now, would you believe it: Mr Robinson, when we're
out motoring we take in two papers, the Times for him, the Leader
or the Echo for me. And do you  think I ever see my paper? Not
much. He grabs the Leader and leaves me to stodge myself with his

OCTAVIUS. Are there no winners in the Times?

TANNER. Enry don't old with bettin, Tavy. Motor records are his
weakness. What's the latest?

STRAKER. Paris to Biskra at forty mile an hour average, not
countin the Mediterranean.

TANNER. How many killed?

STRAKER. Two silly sheep. What does it matter? Sheep don't cost
such a lot: they were glad to ave the price without the trouble
o sellin em to the butcher. All the same, d'y'see, there'll be a
clamor agin it presently; and then the French Government'll stop
it; an our chance will be gone see? That what makes me fairly
mad: Mr Tanner won't do a good run while he can.

TANNER. Tavy: do you remember my uncle James?


TANNER. Uncle James had a first rate cook: he couldn't digest
anything except what she cooked. Well, the poor man was shy and
hated society. But his cook was proud of her skill, and wanted to
serve up dinners to princes and ambassadors. To prevent her from
leaving him, that poor old man had to give a big dinner twice a
month, and suffer agonies of awkwardness. Now here am I; and here
is this chap Enry Straker, the New Man. I loathe travelling; but
I rather like Enry. He cares for nothing but tearing along in a
leather coat and goggles, with two inches of dust all over him,
at sixty miles an hour and the risk of his life and mine. Except,
of course, when he is lying on his back in the mud under the
machine trying to find out where it has given way. Well, if I
don't give him a thousand mile run at least once a fortnight I
shall lose him. He will give me the sack and go to some American
millionaire; and I shall have to put up with a nice respectful
groom-gardener-amateur, who will touch his hat and know his
place. I am Enry's slave, just as Uncle James was his cook's

STRAKER. [exasperated] Garn! I wish I had a car that would go as
fast as you can talk, Mr Tanner. What I say is that you lose
money by a motor car unless you keep it workin. Might as well ave

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