The Ultimatum or Every Man Has His Price
Examiner of Plays' Summary:
An original and effective little play. The 'ruler of a great people' talks with his chiropodist and graciously intimates that he wishes him to serve the wine that evening at dinner when a great discussion is to be made, in recognition of the proverbial luck in a hunch-back. The chiropodist soliloquises shall he continue on the path of ambition or by poisoning the ruler's liquor [sic] 1) avenge his parents who suffered in an attempted revolution and 2) prevent the declaration of war and immeasurable miseries. In the next scene the Ruler is at dinner and hesitates to sign the declaration of war: ministers, professors and relations urge him. The hunchback chiropodist is about to give him a poisoned liquor when an order is conferred on him and he, delighted, spills the poison and says 'let it rip'. War is declared. There is no overt allusion to German and I am sure Sir Herbert Tree will not have the bad taste to spoil the play by indicating the Kaiser in make-up etc. It is of no country or period. But the arguments, especially those of the professor, clearly indicate the minds of Germany’s rulers and are a fair picture of them. Recommended for license. G. S. Street.
No author was listed on the licensed script and there is no evidence of a performance. The playlet was published in 'King Albert's Book' [https://archive.org/stream/kingalbertsbookt00kipl#page/92/] which was published by the 'Daily Telegraph'. On being interviewed Tree commented that 'I simply set forth my views about wars, and about this great war. I carefully refrained from any personal allusion to the German Emperor and made the man rather a kind of unethical Hamlet than anything else.' (Pall Mall Gazette, 20 April 1915)
Licensed On: 2 Feb 1915
License Number: 3174
British Library Reference: LCP1915/3
British Library Classmark: Add MS 66089 C