Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Death of Topsy (fair copy manuscript)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1878
Type of Manuscript: holograph fair copy
Scribe: DGR

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Editorial Description: Page number added by someone other than DGR.
The Death of Topsy.

a Drama of the Future

in One unjustifiable Act.

Dramatis Personae.

William Topsy Morris (an

upholsterer & author of the

Earthly Paradise.)

Wardle (his Manager.)

Mrs Madeline Wardle.

First Young Wardle

Second Young Wardle

Third Young Wardle

A Grocer

A Pharmaceutical Chemist

First Cabman

Second Cabman

Edward Burne Jones (a Man of Genius)

Stennett (a carpenter and


Ford Madox Brown (a historical


Emma (his Wife.)

Mrs. Guppy (a Medium.)

The Ghost of Warington Taylor

The Ghost of Topsy

The Ghost of Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Scene I
On one side an upholsterer's

shop, with the name “Morris

and Co.” over the door:

on the other side a Grocer's

Enter First Young Wardle, carrying

a roll of parchment: he goes

into the upholsterer's shop.

1st Y.W. O Papa, I've fetched

the deed of partnership which

Mr Morris sent to be copied.

Wardle ( from within) Give it

here, my boy.

Enter Second Young Wardle:

he goes into the grocer's shop.

2nd Y.W. If you please, my

Mamma wants a pound of

your best Coffee.

Grocer (from within) Yes, Sir.

Scene closes, as Third Young

Wardle is seen going towards

a chemist's shop in the distance.

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Manuscript Addition: 194
Editorial Description: Page number added by someone other than DGR.
Scene II

St James's Hall

Topsy is discovered lecturing on

Architectural Restoration

Top. (reads.) ”Our forefathers had

thus reared for us, with super-

human labour, temples worthy

of Christian worship,—nay,

almost worthy in themselves

of that some portion of that homage

which the worshippers“—

(aside through his teeth)— ”I can't

have really ever have written rot like this!“—

turns the pages to skip, but finding

he cannot, goes on:
)— ”which

the worshippers bestowed on

that Power which [?] alone

could have inspired such

mighty achievements.“—

( aside as before, ”I knew that

damned Ned had stuck it in!—

goes on
:)—Little could those

great yet humble ones have

dreamed that a too puffed-up

posterity—“ ( scratches the

seat of his trousers, and looks

uneasily at the curtains behind

:) —”would have devoted

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all their efforts only to the

defacement of the noble

structures bequeathed to

their keeping by godlike minds

and hands.“( aside through

the curtain,— ”I say, Ned,

damn you!“

E. Burne Jones (from behind cur-

:) I didn't do it, Top—

you wrote it yourself. It's

very bad, but go on or the

audience will hiss.

(Topsy goes on, lurching a

good deal, and at last

concludes amid great

applause : he leaves and

goes behind curtain.)

Top: I say, Ned, mustn't they

just be fools? I'll pay

you out another time, but

I must get down to the Wardles,

as I said I'd take tea there.

E. Burne Jones. They always take


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Top. O do they? Will you come?

E. Burne Jones. No thank you.

I say, Top, one of the workmen

has chalked a large T

on your back.

Top. Well, damn you, why don't

you rub it out?

(They have now reached the

door, and E Burne Jones bolts

down the street.)

Scene III

A Private Apartment. Wardle

and Madeline seated at

a table with cups saucers etc.

Madeline. Is the deed signed?

Wardle. Yes.

A crash without. Enter Topsy.

Top. I say, I'm very sorry, but

I was laying down my hat

on a chair outside, and

somehow my hand went through it.

Madeline. O pray don't mention it,

Mr Morris, it's of no consequence.
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Top. ( to Wardle.) I say, old chap,

Ned told me just now that

some one had chalked a

T on my back. ( tries to see it.)

Do you see it?

Wardle No, of course.

Top. Blow that Ned! ( aside,

through his teeth:) I should

like to tread his guts out.

Wardle. He hasn't got any.

Top. O I say, talk about guts,

— what's become of mine?

(He stands up, and taking

the quartern loaf from the

table, stuffs it into the

waistband of his trousers to

show his thinness[?] how much

room there is, — then pulls

it out again and puts it

back on the plate.) There,

now just you mind you don't

call me fat any more.

Wardle. I never did,— I

always thought you a

fine figure.
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Madeline. Mr. Morris, you're

letting your coffee get cold.

George dear, hand the cup.

Top ( taking cup from Wardle.)

All right, old chap. ( drinks.)

Hullo! How can I have the

gripes now that I've got no

belly? Hullo! Blow! ( dies.)

Scene IV

( Same as in Scene I)

(Wardle places a ladder

against the upholsterer's

shop—and mounting it,

erases the name of Morris

& substitutes Wardle & Co.)

First Cabman (passing) Hi! Who's

the Co.?

Second Cabman (passing)

Why, Coffee, in course.

( Topsy is carried out on a

stretcher, while Stennett

is seen passing ? at the head
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of a funeral; he stops and gazes

intently. Old Brown goes by

on the top of an omnibus, and

turning around, stares in stupe

-faction at the altered name

over the door.)

Emma (from within the omnibus.)

Did you see that, Ford?

Old B. Yes, Emma. ( he raises

his eyes and his hands to heaven

(The Ghost of Warington Taylor

is heard rapping at a Medium's


Scene V

The Medium's House

(Mrs Guppy seated at a

table of Victorian design,

with ghosts and others.

(Enter the Ghost of Warington


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Ghost of Taylor. Topsy you fool,

come along, here's a chance

for you. Split on 'em through

that table, & let 'em catch

it as they deserve.

Ghost of Topsy. Get out, it's

beastly rot. Do you think

I'm going to believe in bogies

merely because I'm one myself?

And besides, you don't suppose,

you idiot, that I'd talk through

a blowed table of such a damned

shape as that! ( Indulges in

language after his kind.

Mrs Guppy. That is the very

lowest class of spirit of which

I ever had experience. May

not the essence of such

misused humanity rank

even below the soulless

beasts that perish?—

Who shall say? Well,

he is gone, my friends,—

I dread to think whither.

( She turns to the table)

Shelley, are you there ?

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Ghost of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Hi diddle diddle

The cat & the fiddle —

Mrs Guppy. Hush, my friends,

now indeed we shall hear something.

( Curtain)
Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 11-1878.blms.rad.xml
Copyright: By permission of the British Library