List Of Contents | Contents of Man and Superman, by Bernard Shaw
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Granny. I ought not to be present.

RAMSDEN. You are right: I should have thought of that. You are a
good girl, Annie.

He pats her on the shoulder. She looks up at him with beaming
eyes and he goes out, much moved. Having disposed of him, she
looks at Tanner. His back being turned to her, she gives a
moment's attention to her personal appearance, then softly goes
to him and speaks almost into his ear.

ANN. Jack [he turns with a start]: are you glad that you are my
guardian? You don't mind being made responsible for me, I hope.

TANNER. The latest addition to your collection of scapegoats,

ANN. Oh, that stupid old joke of yours about me! Do please drop
it. Why do you say things that you know must pain me? I do my
best to please you, Jack: I suppose I may tell you so now that
you are my guardian. You will make me so unhappy if you refuse to
be friends with me.

TANNER. [studying her as gloomily as he studied the dust] You
need not go begging for my regard. How unreal our moral judgments
are! You seem to me to have absolutely no conscience--only
hypocrisy; and you can't see the difference--yet there is a sort
of fascination about you. I always attend to you, somehow. I
should miss you if I lost you.

ANN. [tranquilly slipping her arm into his and walking about with
him] But isn't that only natural, Jack? We have known each other
since we were children. Do you remember?

TANNER. [abruptly breaking loose] Stop! I remember EVERYTHING.

ANN. Oh, I daresay we were often very silly; but--

TANNER. I won't have it, Ann. I am no more that schoolboy now
than I am the dotard of ninety I shall grow into if I live long
enough. It is over: let me forget it.

ANN. Wasn't it a happy time? [She attempts to take his arm

TANNER. Sit down and behave yourself. [He makes her sit down in
the chair next the writing table]. No doubt it was a happy time
for you. You were a good girl and never compromised yourself. And
yet the wickedest child that ever was slapped could hardly have
had a better time. I can understand the success with which you
bullied the other girls: your virtue imposed on them. But tell me
this: did you ever know a good boy?

ANN. Of course. All boys are foolish sometimes; but Tavy was
always a really good boy.

TANNER. [struck by this] Yes: you're right. For some reason you
never tempted Tavy.

ANN. Tempted! Jack!

TANNER. Yes, my dear Lady Mephistopheles, tempted. You were
insatiably curious as to what a boy might be capable of, and
diabolically clever at getting through his guard and surprising
his inmost secrets.

ANN. What nonsense! All because you used to tell me long stories
of the wicked things you had done--silly boys tricks! And you
call such things inmost secrets: Boys' secrets are just like
men's; and you know what they are!

TANNER. [obstinately] No I don't. What are they, pray?

ANN. Why, the things they tell everybody, of course.

TANNER. Now I swear I told you things I told no one else. You
lured me into a compact by which we were to have no secrets from
one another. We were to tell one another everything, I didn't
notice that you never told me anything.

ANN. You didn't want to talk about me, Jack. You wanted to talk
about yourself.

TANNER. Ah, true, horribly true. But what a devil of a child you
must have been to know that weakness and to play on it for the
satisfaction of your own curiosity! I wanted to brag to you, to
make myself interesting. And I found myself doing all sorts of
mischievous things simply to have something to tell you about. I
fought with boys I didn't hate; I lied about things I might just
as well have told the truth about; I stole things I didn't want;
I kissed little girls I didn't care for. It was all bravado:
passionless and therefore unreal.

ANN. I never told of you, Jack.

TANNER. No; but if you had wanted to stop me you would have told
of me. You wanted me to go on.

ANN. [flashing out] Oh, that's not true: it's NOT true, Jack. I
never wanted you to do those dull, disappointing, brutal, stupid,
vulgar things. I always hoped that it would be something really
heroic at last. [Recovering herself] Excuse me, Jack; but the
things you did were never a bit like the things I wanted you to
do. They often gave me great uneasiness; but I could not tell on
you and get you into trouble. And you were only a boy. I knew you
would grow out of them. Perhaps I was wrong.

TANNER. [sardonically] Do not give way to remorse, Ann. At least
nineteen twentieths of the exploits I confessed to you were pure
lies. I soon noticed that you didn't like the true stories.

ANN. Of course I knew that some of the things couldn't have
happened. But--

TANNER. You are going to remind me that some of the most
disgraceful ones did.

ANN. [fondly, to his great terror] I don't want to remind you of
anything. But I knew the people they happened to, and heard about

TANNER. Yes; but even the true stories were touched up for
telling. A sensitive boy's humiliations may be very good fun for
ordinary thickskinned grown-ups; but to the boy himself they are
so acute, so ignominious, that he cannot confess them--cannot but
deny them passionately. However, perhaps it was as well for me
that I romanced a bit; for, on the one occasion when I told you
the truth, you threatened to tell of me.

ANN. Oh, never. Never once.

TANNER. Yes, you did. Do you remember a dark-eyed girl named
Rachel Rosetree? [Ann's brows contract for an instant
involuntarily]. I got up a love affair with her; and we met one
night in the garden and walked about very uncomfortably with our
arms round one another, and kissed at parting, and were most
conscientiously romantic. If that love affair had gone on, it
would have bored me to death; but it didn't go on; for the next
thing that happened was that Rachel cut me because she found out
that I had told you. How did she find it out? From you. You went
to her and held the guilty secret over her head, leading her a
life of abject terror and humiliation by threatening to tell on

ANN. And a very good thing for her, too. It was my duty to stop
her misconduct; and she is thankful to me for it now.

TANNER. Is she?

ANN. She ought to be, at all events.

TANNER. It was not your duty to stop my misconduct, I suppose.

ANN. I did stop it by stopping her.

TANNER. Are you sure of that? You stopped my telling you about
my adventures; but how do you know that you stopped the

ANN. Do you mean to say that you went on in the same way with
other girls?

TANNER. No. I had enough of that sort of romantic tomfoolery
with Rachel.

ANN. [unconvinced] Then why did you break off our confidences and
become quite strange to me?

TANNER. [enigmatically] It happened just then that I got
something that I wanted to keep all to myself instead of sharing
it with you.

ANN. I am sure I shouldn't have asked for any of it if you had
grudged it.

TANNER. It wasn't a box of sweets, Ann. It was something you'd
never have let me call my own.

ANN. [incredulously] What?

TANNER. My soul.

ANN. Oh, do be sensible, Jack. You know you're talking nonsense.

TANNER. The most solemn earnest, Ann. You didn't notice at that
time that you were getting a soul too. But you were. It was not
for nothing that you suddenly found you had a moral duty to
chastise and reform Rachel. Up to that time you had traded pretty
extensively in being a good child; but you had never set up a
sense of duty to others. Well, I set one up too. Up to that time
I had played the boy buccaneer with no more conscience than a fox
in a poultry farm. But now I began to have scruples, to feel
obligations, to find that veracity and honor were no longer
goody-goody expressions in the mouths of grown up people, but
compelling principles in myself.

ANN. [quietly] Yes, I suppose you're right. You were beginning to
be a man, and I to be a woman.

TANNER. Are you sure it was not that we were beginning to be
something more? What does the beginning of manhood and womanhood
mean in most people's mouths? You know: it means the beginning of
love. But love began long before that for me. Love played its
part in the earliest dreams and follies and romances I can
remember--may I say the earliest follies and romances we can
remember?--though we did not understand it at the time. No: the
change that came to me was the birth in me of moral passion; and
I declare that according to my experience moral passion is the
only real passion.

ANN. All passions ought to be moral, Jack.

TANNER. Ought! Do you think that anything is strong enough to
impose oughts on a passion except a stronger passion still?

ANN. Our moral sense controls passion, Jack. Don't be stupid.

TANNER. Our moral sense! And is that not a passion? Is the devil
to have all the passions as well as all the good times? If it
were not a passion--if it were not the mightiest of the passions,
all the other passions would sweep it away like a leaf before a
hurricane. It is the birth of that passion that turns a child
into a man.

ANN. There are other passions, Jack. Very strong ones.

TANNER. All the other passions were in me before; but they were
idle and aimless--mere childish greedinesses and cruelties,
curiosities and fancies, habits and superstitions, grotesque and
ridiculous to the mature intelligence. When they suddenly began
to shine like newly lit flames it was by no light of their own,
but by the radiance of the dawning moral passion. That passion
dignified them, gave them conscience and meaning, found them a
mob of appetites and organized them into an army of purposes and
principles. My soul was born of that passion.

ANN. I noticed that you got more sense. You were a dreadfully
destructive boy before that.

TANNER. Destructive! Stuff! I was only mischievous.

ANN. Oh Jack, you were very destructive. You ruined all the young
fir trees by chopping off their leaders with a wooden sword. You
broke all the cucumber frames with your catapult. You set fire to
the common: the police arrested Tavy for it because he ran away
when he couldn't stop you. You--

TANNER. Pooh! pooh! pooh! these were battles, bombardments,
stratagems to save our scalps from the red Indians. You have no
imagination, Ann. I am ten times more destructive now than I was
then. The moral passion has taken my destructiveness in hand and
directed it to moral ends. I have become a reformer, and, like
all reformers, an iconoclast. I no longer break cucumber frames
and burn gorse bushes: I shatter creeds and demolish idols.

ANN. [bored] I am afraid I am too feminine to see any sense in
destruction. Destruction can only destroy.

TANNER. Yes. That is why it is so useful. Construction cumbers
the ground with institutions made by busybodies. Destruction
clears it and gives us breathing space and liberty.

ANN. It's no use, Jack. No woman will agree with you there.

TANNER. That's because you confuse construction and destruction
with creation and murder. They're quite different: I adore
creation and abhor murder. Yes: I adore it in tree and flower,
in bird and beast, even in you. [A flush of interest and delight
suddenly clears the growing perplexity and boredom from her
face]. It was the creative instinct that led you to attach me to
you by bonds that have left their mark on me to this day. Yes,
Ann: the old childish compact between us was an unconscious love

ANN. Jack!

TANNER. Oh, don't be alarmed--

ANN. I am not alarmed.

TANNER. [whimsically] Then you ought to be: where are your

ANN. Jack: are you serious or are you not?

TANNER. Do you mean about the moral passion?

ANN. No, no; the other one. [Confused] Oh! you are so silly; one
never knows how to take you.

TANNER. You must take me quite seriously. I am your guardian; and
it is my duty to improve your mind.

ANN. The love compact is over, then, is it? I suppose you grew
tired of me?

TANNER. No; but the moral passion made our childish relations
impossible. A jealous sense of my new individuality arose in me.

ANN. You hated to be treated as a boy any longer. Poor Jack!

TANNER. Yes, because to be treated as a boy was to be taken on
the old footing. I had become a new person; and those who knew
the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly
was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me,
whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and
expected them to fit me.

ANN. You became frightfully self-conscious.

TANNER. When you go to heaven, Ann, you will be frightfully
conscious of your wings for the first year or so. When you meet
your relatives there, and they persist in treating you as if you
were still a mortal, you will not be able to bear them. You will
try to get into a circle which has never known you except as an

ANN. So it was only your vanity that made you run away from us
after all?

TANNER. Yes, only my vanity, as you call it.

ANN. You need not have kept away from ME on that account.

TANNER. From you above all others. You fought harder than anybody
against my emancipation.

ANN. [earnestly] Oh, how wrong you are! I would have done
anything for you.

TANNER. Anything except let me get loose from you. Even then you
had acquired by instinct that damnable woman's trick of heaping
obligations on a man, of placing yourself so entirely and
helplessly at his mercy that at last he dare not take a step
without running to you for leave. I know a poor wretch whose one
desire in life is to run away from his wife. She prevents him by
threatening to throw herself in front of the engine of the train
he leaves her in. That is what all women do. If we try to go
where you do not want us to go there is no law to prevent us,
but when we take the first step your breasts are under our foot
as it descends: your bodies are under our wheels as we start. No
woman shall ever enslave me in that way.

ANN. But, Jack, you cannot get through life without considering
other people a little.

TANNER. Ay; but what other people? It is this consideration of
other people or rather this cowardly fear of them which we
call consideration that makes us the sentimental slaves we are.
To consider you, as you call it, is to substitute your will for
my own. How if it be a baser will than mine? Are women taught
better than men or worse? Are mobs of voters taught better than
statesmen or worse? Worse, of course, in both cases. And then
what sort of world are you going to get, with its public men
considering its voting mobs, and its private men considering
their wives? What does Church and State mean nowadays? The
Woman and the Ratepayer.

ANN. [placidly] I am so glad you understand politics, Jack: it
will be most useful to you if you go into parliament [he
collapses like a pricked bladder]. But I am sorry you thought my
influence a bad one.

TANNER. I don't say it was a bad one. But bad or good, I didn't
choose to be cut to your measure. And I won't be cut to it.

ANN. Nobody wants you to, Jack. I assure you--really on my word--
I don't mind your queer opinions one little bit. You know we have

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