The Importance of Being Earnest
Lady Bracknell: What is your income?
Jack: Between seven and eight thousand a year.
Lady Bracknell: [Makes a note in her book] In land, or in investments?
Jack: In investments, chiefly.
Lady Bracknell: That is satisfactory. What between the duties expected of one during one's lifetime, and the duties exacted from one after one's death, land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. It gives one position, and prevents one from keeping it up. That's all that can be said about land.
Jack: I have a country house with some land, of course, attached to it, about fifteen hundred acres, I believe; but I don't depend on that for my real income. In fact, as far as I can make out, the poachers are the only people who make anything out of it.
Lady Bracknell: A country house! How many bedrooms? Well, that point can be cleared up afterwards. You have a town house, I hope? A girl with a simple, unspoiled nature, like Gwendolen, could hardly be expected to reside in the country.
Jack: Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square, but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham. Of course, I can get it back whenever I like, at six months' notice.
Lady Bracknell: Lady Bloxham? I don't know her.
Jack: Oh, she goes about very little. She is a lady considerably advanced in years.
Lady Bracknell: Ah, nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character. What number in Belgrave Square?
Lady Bracknell: [Shaking her head] The unfashionable side. I thought there was something. However, that could easily be altered.
Jack: Do you mean the fashion, or the side?
Lady Bracknell: [Sternly] Both, if necessary, I presume. (I. 184-198)
Lady Bracknell: [….] Mr. Worthing, I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion – has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now – but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society. (I.200-214)
Cecily: Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be quite well.
Miss Prism: [Drawing herself up] Your guardian enjoys the best of health, and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility. (II.4-5)