Time—An early morning in Spring.
Place—An English country vicarage.
JAMES PONSONBY MAKESHYFTE, D.D. The Most Reverend the Lord Bishop of Lancashire
The reverend William Smythe
The Vicar’s Wife
Mr. Robert Smith
A gentleman of necessary occupation
The scene, which remains unchanged throughout the play, is a room in the vicarage. Jacobean in character, its oak-panelling and beamed-ceiling, together with some fine pieces of antique furniture, lend it an air of historical interest, whilst in all other respects it speaks of solid comfort, refinement, and unostentatious elegance. Evidently the room of a rich man, who has, however, apparently come to some compromise on the difficult question of his entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven; for the panelled walls possess, among other decorations, a richly ornamented crucifix, a Virgin and Child by an old master, certain saints in ecstasy, and a really remarkable modern oil-painting of the Divine Author of our religion.
The main door of the room is at the back of the stage, somewhere towards the middle; it opens upon a hall, at the further side of which one may perceive, through the open door of another room, a goodly collection of well-bound and learned-looking volumes—the vicar’s library. At the present moment these tomes of wisdom are inaccessible, as the library door is blocked up with unsightly mounds of earth, sewer-pipes, and certain workmen’s implements. The fact is, the vicarage has been greatly disturbed of late, owing to a defect in the drainage—an unsavory circumstance which receives further and regretful explication in the play itself.
Returning, then, to the room, one may see, in addition to the main door described above, another door, to the right of stage, and near to the audience. The curious may be glad to learn that this leads into a drawing-room, and incidentally affords one more means of communication with the house. Another exit is provided on the opposite side of the stage [left], where a couple of lofty French windows lead out into the garden. Above the drawing-room door is a fine old Jacobean mantel-piece: a fire burns brightly in the grate. To the left of the main door at the back is a long, low, mullioned window, through which one may see a blue sky, a thatched top or two of cottages, and the gray old tower of the church. Through the French windows are seen a gravel-walk, a lawn, trees, and a sun-dial.
Of the essential furniture of the scene, there may be mentioned; sideboard to right of main door; table, right-centre of stage, with chairs; arm-chair by fireplace; settee, left, towards front; and a long oak stool in the window.