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M O L I E R E 



With a Prefatory Memoir, Introductory Notices and Notes 




Horace Vernet, Desenne, Johannot and Hersent 









UEcole des Marts I 


Les Facheux 43 


L'Ecole des Femmes 83 


La Critique de F Ecole des femmes 145 


Z' Impromptu de Versailles 179 


La Mariage Ford 215 





L? Ecole des Femmes Frontispiece 


L 1 Ecole des Marts 34 

THE BORES. Act II., Scene 4. 

Les F&cheux 66 





JUNE 24TH, 1661. 


The School for Husbands was the first play in the title of which the word 
*' School " was employed, to imply that, over and above the intention of 
amusing, the author designed to convey a special lesson to his hearers. 
Perhaps Moliere wished not only that the general public should be pre- 
pared to find instructions and warnings for married men, but also that 
they who were wont to regard the theatre as injurious, or at best trivial, 
should know that he professed to educate, as well as to entertain. We 
must count the adoption of similar titles by Sheridan and others amongst 
the tributes, by imitation, to Moliere's genius. 

This comedy was played for the first time at Paris, on the 24th of June. 
1661, and met with great success. On the I2th of July following it was 
acted at Vaux, the country seat of Fouquet, before the whole court, Mon- 
sieur, the brother of the King, and the Queen of England ; and by them 
also was much approved. Some commentators say that Moliere was 
partly inspired by a comedy of Lope de Vega, La Discreta enamorada, 
The Cunning Sweetheart ; also by a remodelling of the same play by 
Moreto, No puede ser guardar una muger, One cannot guard a woman: 
but this has lately been disproved. It appears, however, that he bor- 
rowed the primary idea of his comedy from the Adelphi of Terence ; and 
from a tale, the third of the third day, in the Decameron of Boccaccio, 
where a young woman uses her father-confessor as a go-between for her- 
self and her lover. In the Adelphi there are two old men of dissimilar 
character, who give a different education to the children they bring up. 
One of them is a dotard, who, after having for sixty years been sullen, 
grumpy and avaricious, becomes suddenly lively, polite, and prodigal ; 
this Moliere had too much common sense to imitate. 

The School for Husbands marks a distinct departure in the dramatist's 
literary progress. As a critic has well observed, it substitutes for situa- 
tions produced by the mechanism of plot, characters which give rise to 
situations in accordance with the ordinary operations of human nature. 
Moliere's method the simple and only true one, and, consequently, the 
one which incontestably establishes the original talent of its employer is 
this : At the beginning of a play, he introduces his principal personages : 
sets them talking ; suffers them to betray their characters, as men and wo- 
men do in every-day life, expecting from his hearers that same discern- 
ment which he has himself displayed in detecting their peculiarities : im- 
ports the germ of a plot in some slight misunderstanding or equivocal 



act ; and leaves all the rest to be effected by the action and reaction of 
the characters which he began by bringing out in bold relief. His plots 
are thus the plots of nature ; and it is impossible that they should not be 
both interesting and instructive. That his comedies, thus composed, are 
besides amusing, results from the shrewdness with which he has selected 
and combined his characters, and the art with which he arranges the situ- 
ations produced. 

The character-comedies of Moliere exhibit, more than any others, the 
force of his natural genius, and the comparative weakness of his artistic 
talent. In the exhibition and the evolution of character, he is supreme. 
In the unravelling of his plots and the denouement of his situations, he is 
driven too willingly to the deus ex machina. 

The School for Husbands was directed against one of the special and 
prominent defects of society in the age and country in which Moliere 
lived. Domestic tyranny was not only rife, but it was manifested in one 
of its coarsest forms. Sganarelle, though twenty years younger than 
Ariste, and not quite forty years old, could not govern by moral force ; 
he relied solely on bolts and bars. Physical restraint was the safeguard 
in which husbands and parents had the greatest confidence, not perceiv- 
ing that ithe brain and the heart are always able to prevail against it. 
This truth Moliere took upon himself to preach, and herein he surpasses 
all his rivals ; in nothing more than in the artistic device by which he 
introduces the contrast of the wise and trustful Ariste, raisonneur as he 
is called in French, rewarded in the end by the triumph of his more hu- 
mane mode of treatment. Moliere probably expresses his own feelings 
by the mouth of Ariste: for The School for Husbands was performed on 
the 24th of June, 1661, and about eight months later, on the 2Oth of 
February, 1662, he married Armande Bejart, being then about double 
her age. As to Sganarelle in this play, he ceases to be a mere buffoon, as 
in some of Moliere's farces, and becomes the personification of an idea 
or of a folly which has to be ridiculed. 

Moliere dedicated The School for Husbands to the Duke of Orleans, 
the King's only brother, in the following words : 


I here shew France things that are but little consistent. Nothing can be so great 
and superb as the name I place in front of this book ; and nothing more mean than 
what it contains. Every one will think this a strange mixture ; and some, to ex- 
press its inequality, may say that it is like setting a crown of pearls and diamonds 
on an earthen statue, and making magnificent porticos and lofty triumphal arches 
to a mean cottage. But, my Lord, my excuse is, that in this case I had no choice 
to make, and that the honour I have of belonging to your Royal Highness, 1 abso- 
lutely obliged me to dedicate to you the first work that I myself published. 2 It is 
not a present I make you, it is a duty I discharge ; and homages are never looked 
upon by the things they bring. I presumed, therefore, to dedicate a trifle to your 
Royal Highness, because I could not help it ; but if I omit enlarging upon the glo- 
rious truths I might tell of you, it is through a just fear that those great ideas would 
make my offering the more inconsiderable. I have imposed silence on myself, 
meaning to wait for an opportunity better suited for introducing such fine things ; 


1 Moliere was the chief of the troupe of actors belonging to the Duke of Orleans, 
who had only lately married, and was not yet twenty-one years old. 

* Sganarelle had been borrowed by Neufvillenaine ; The Pretentious Young 
Ladies was only printed by Moliere, because the copy of the play was stolen from 
him ; Don Garcia of Navarre was not published till after his death, in 1682. 


In the fourth volume of the "Select Comedies of M. de Moliere, 
London, 1732," the translation of The School for Husbands is dedicated 
to the Right Honourable the Lady Harriot Campbell, in the following 
words : 


A Comedy which came abroad in its Native Language, under the Patronage of 
the Duke of ORLEANS, Brother to the King of FRANCE, attempts now to speak 
English, and begs the Honour of Your LADYSHIP'S Favour and Acceptance. That 
distinguishing good Sense, that nice Discernment, that refined Taste of Reading 
and Politeness for which Your LADYSHIP is so deservedly admir'd, must, I'm per- 
suaded, make You esteem Moliere ; whose way of expression is easy and elegant, 
his Sentiments just and delicate, and his morals untainted : who constantly combats 
Vice and Folly with strong Reason and well turn'd Ridicule ; in short, whose Plays 
are all instructive, and tend to some useful Purpose : An Excellence sufficient to 
recommend them to your LADYSHIP. 

As for this Translation, which endeavours to preserve the Spirit as well as 
Meaning of the Original, I shall only say, that if it can be so happy as to please 
Your LADYSHIP, all the Pains it cost me will be over-paid. 

I beg Pardon for this Presumption, and am, with the greatest Respect that's pos- 
sible, Madam, Your Ladyship's Most Obedient and most Humble Servant, 


Sir Charles Sedley, well known through a history of a " frolick '' which 
Pepys relates in his "Diary,"* wrote The Mulberry Garden, of which 
Langbaine, in his "An Account of the Dramatick Poets," states, '' I dare 
not say that the character of Sir John Everyoung and Sir Samuel Forecast 
are copies of Sganarelle and Ariste in Moliere's / 'fecoU des Marts ; but I 
may say, that there is some resemblance, though whoever understands 
both languages will readily and with justice give our English wit the pre- 
ference ; and Sir Charles is not to learn to copy Nature from the French.'' 
This comedy, which was played by his Majesty's servants at the Theatre 
Royal, 1688, is dedicated to the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, a 
lady who has *' 'scap'd (prefaces) very well hitherto," but, says Sir Charles, 
" Madam, your time is come, and you must bear it patiently. All the 
favour I can show you is that of a good executioner, which is, not to pro- 
long your pain." This play has two girls like Isabella, called Althea and 
Diana, two like Leonor, Victoria and Olivia, and four lovers, as well as a 
rather intricate plot. The Epilogue is amusing, and we give the beginning 
of it : 

Poets of all men have the hardest game, 
Their best Endeavours can no Favours claim. 
The Lawyer if o'erthrown, though by the Laws, 
He quits himself, and lays it on your Cause. 
The Soldier is esteem' d a Man of War, 
And Honour gains, if he but bravely dare. 
The grave Physician, if his Patient dye. 
He snakes his head, and blames Mortality. 
Only poor Poets their own faults must bear ; 
Therefore grave Judges be not too severe. 

Flecknoe has also imitated several of the scenes of The School for Hut- 
bands in The Damoiselles a la Mode, which is a medley of several of 
Moliere's plays (see Introductory Notice to The Pretentious Young 

James Miller has likewise followed, in The Man of Taste (Act i., Scene 

See Pepys' Diary, October 23, 1668. 


2), (see Introductory Notice to The Pretentious Young Ladies), one 
scene of the first act of Moliere's The School for Husbands. 

Murphy, in The School for Guardians, has borrowed from three plays 
of Moliere. The main plot is taken from The School for Wives ; some 
incidents of the second act are taken from The Blunderer (see Introduc- 
tory Notice to The Blunderer), but the scenes in which Oldcastle and 
Lovibond state their intention of marrying their wards, and the way in 
which one of the wards, Harriet, makes her love known to Belford is 
taken from The School for Husbands, though Leonor does not betray in 
the French comedy, as she does in the English, the confidence placed in 
her. The French Isabella acts like Harriet, but then she has a foolish 
and jealous guardian. 

Wycherley, in The Country Wife, probably acted in 1672 or 1673. and 
which is partly an imitation of Moliere's School for Wives, has borrowed 
from The School for Husbands, the letter which Isabella writes to Valere 
(Act ii., Scene 8), and also the scene in which Isabella escapes disguised 
in her sister's clothes : but, of course, to give an additional zest to the 
English play, the author makes Pinchwife himself bring his wife to her 
lover, Homer. The scene hardly bears transcribing. He has also partly 
imitated in The Gentleman Dancing- Master, first performed in 1673, some 
scenes of The School for Husbands. 

Otway, in The Soldier's Fortune (see Introductory Notice to Sgana- 
relle, or The Self-Deceived Husband}, has borrowed from Moliere's 
School for Husbands that part of his play in which Lady Dunse makes 
her husband the agent for conveying a ring and a letter to her lover. 



f brothers. 

VALERE, lover to Isabella. 
ERGASTE, servant to Valere. 



A, ) 

f sisters. 
i, J 



LISETTE, maid to Isabella. 


* This part was played by Moliere himself. In the inventory taken 
after Moliere's death, and given by M. Soulie, we find : " A dress for The 
School for Husbands, consisting of breeches, doublet, cloak, collar, purse 
and girdle, all of a kind of brown coloured (couleitr de muse) satin." 

6 The original has un Commissaire, who in Moliere's time, appears to 
have been a kind of inferior magistrate under the authority of the Lieu- 
tenant-general de la Police. The Commissaires de Police were not estab- 
lished till 1699 ; and The School for Husbands was played for the first 
time in 1661. 





SCAN. Pray, brother, let us talk less, and let each of us 
live as he likes. Though you have the advantage of me 
in years, and are old enough to be wise, yet I tell you that 
I mean to receive none of your reproofs ; that my fancy 
is the only counsellor I shall follow, and that I am quite 
satisfied with my way of living. 

AR. But every one condemns it. 

SCAN. Yes, fools like yourself, brother. 

AR. Thank you very much. It is a pleasant compli- 

SCAN. I should like to know, since one ought to hear 
everything, what these fine critics blame in me. 

AR. That surly and austere temper which shuns all the 
charms of society, gives a whimsical appearance to all 
your actions, and makes everything peculiar in you, even 
your dress. 

SCAN. I ought then to make myself a slave in fashion, 
and not to put on clothes for my own sake? Would you 
not, my dear elder brother for, Heaven be thanked, so 
you are, to tell you plainly, by a matter of twenty years ; and 
that is not worth the trouble of mentioning would you 
not, I say, by your precious nonsense, persuade me to 
adopt the fashions of those young sparks 8 of yours ? Oblige 

' The original has vos jeunes mugucts, literally " your young lilies of 
the valley,'" because in former times, according to some annotators, the 
courtiers wore natural or artificial lilies of the valley in their button- 
holes, and perfumed themselves with the essence of that flower. I think 



me to wear those little hats which provide ventilation for 
their weak brains, and that flaxen hair, the vast curls 
whereof conceal the form of the human face ; 7 those little 
doublets but just below the arms, and those big collars 
falling down to the navel ; those sleeves which one sees at 
table trying all the sauces, and those petticoats called 
breeches ; those tiny shoes, covered with ribbons, which 
make you look like feather-legged pigeons; and those 
large rolls wherein the legs are put every morning, as it 
were into the stocks, and in which we see these gallants 
straddle about with their legs as wide apart, as if they were 
the beams of a mill ? 8 I should doubtless please you, be- 
dizened in this way ; I see that you wear the stupid gew- 
gaws which it is the fashion to wear. 

AR. We should always agree with the majority, and 
never cause ourselves to be stared at. Extremes shock, 

that muguet is connected with the old French word musguet, smelling of 
musk. In Moliere's time muguet had become rather antiquated ; hence 
it was rightly placed in the mouth of Sganarelle, who likes to use such 
words and phrases. Rabelais employs it in the eighth chapter of Gargan- 
tua, un (as de muguets, and it has been translated by Sir Thomas Urqu- 
hart as " some fond wooers and wench-courters." The fashion of calling 
dandies after the name of perfumes is not rare in France. Thus Regnier 
speaks of them as marjolets, from marjolaine, sweet marjoram ; and 
Agrippa d'Aubigne calls them muscadins (a word also connected with the 
old French musguet), which name was renewed at the beginning of the 
first French revolution, and bestowed on elegants, because they always 
smelled of musk. 

1 The fashion was in Moliere's time to wear the hair, or wigs, very long, 
and if possible of a fair colour, which gave to the young fashionables, 
hence called blondins, an effeminate air. Sganarelle addresses Valere 
(Act ii. Scene 9), likewise as Monsieur aux blonds cheveux. In The School 
for Wives (Act ii. Scene 6), Arnolphe also tells Agnes not to listen to the 
nonsense of these beaux blondins. According to Juvenal (Satire VI.) 
Messalina put a fair wig on to disguise herself. Louis XIV. did not begin 
to wear a wig until 1673. 

8 The original has marcher ecarquilles ainsi que dts volants. Early 
commentators have generally stated that volants means here " the beams 
of a mill," but MM. Moland and E. Despois, the last annotators of 
Moliere, maintain that it stands for "shuttlecock,'' because the large 
rolls (canons), tied at the knee and wide at the bottom, bore a great re- 
semblance to shuttlecocks turned upside down. I cannot see how this 
can suit the words marcher ecarquilles, for the motion of the canons of 
gallants, walking or straddling about, is very unlike that produced by 
shuttlecocks beaten by battledores; I still think "beams of a mill" 
right, because, though the canons did not look like beams of a mill, the 
legs did, when in motion. 


and a wise man should do with his clothes as with his 
speech; avoid too much affectation, and without being 
in too great a hurry, follow whatever change custom in- 
troduces. I do not think that we should act like those 
people who always exaggerate the fashion, and who are 
annoyed that another should go further than themselves 
in the extremes which they affect ; but I maintain that it 
is wrong, for whatever reasons, obstinately to eschew what 
every one observes ; that it would be better to be counted 
among the fools than to be the only wise person, in oppo- 
sition to every one else. 

SCAN. That smacks of the old man who, in order to 
impose upon the world, covers his grey hairs with a 
black wig. 

AR. It is strange that you should be so careful always 
to fling my age in my face, and that I should continually 
find you blaming my dress as well as my cheerfulness. 
One would imagine that old age ought to think of nothing 
but death, since it is condemned to give up all enjoyment ; 
and that it is not attended by enough ugliness of its own, 
but must needs be slovenly and crabbed. 

SCAN. However that may be, I am resolved to stick to 
my way of dress. In spite of the fashion, I like my cap 
so that my head may be comfortably sheltered beneath 
it ; a good long doublet buttoned close, as it should be, 9 
which may keep the stomach warm, and promote a healthy 
digestion ; a pair of breeches made exactly to fit my 
thighs ; shoes, like those of our wise ancestors, in which 
my feet may not be tortured : and he who does not like 
the look of me may shut his eyes. 

SGANARELLE, conversing in an under-tone, unperceived. 

LEO. {To Isabella). I take it all on myself, in case you 
are scolded. 

Lis. {To Isabella). Always in one room, seeing no 

9 The young dandies in the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV., wore 
slashed doublets, very tight and short. 


ISA. Such is his humour. 

LEO. I pity you, sister. 

Lis. (To Leonor). It is well for you, madam, that his 
brother is of quite another disposition ; fate was very kind 
in making you fall into the hands of a rational person. 

ISA. It is a wonder that he did not lock me up to-day, 
or take me with him. 

Lis. I declare I would send him to the devil, with his 
Spanish ruff, 10 and . . . 

SCAN. (Against whom Lisette stumbles). Where are you 
going, if I may ask ? 

LEO. We really do not know ; I was urging my sister 
to talk a walk, and enjoy this pleasant and fine weather ; 
but ... 

SCAN. (To Leonor). As for you, you may go wherever 
you please. (To Lisette}. You can run off; there are 
two of you together. (To Isabella). But as for you, I 
forbid you excuse me to go out. 

AR. Oh, brother ! let them go and amuse themselves. 

SCAN. I am your servant, brother. 

AR. Youth will . . . 

SCAN. Youth is foolish, and old age too, sometimes. 

AR. Do you think there is any harm in her being with 

SCAN. Not so ; but with me I think she is still better. 

AR. But . . . 

SCAN. But her conduct must be guided by me ; in short, 
I know the interest I ought to take in it. 

AR. Have I less in her sister's? 

SCAN. By Heaven! each one argues and does as he 
likes. They are without relatives, and their father, our 
friend, entrusted them to us in his last hour, charging us 
both either to marry them, or, if we declined, to dispose 
of them hereafter. He gave us, in writing, the full autho- 
rity of a father and a husband over them, from their in- 
fancy. You undertook to bring up that one ; I charged 

10 The Spanish ruff (/raise) was in fashion at the end of Henri IV.'s 
reign; in the reign of Louis XIII., and in the beginning of Louis XIV. s, 
flat-lying collars, adorned with lace, were worn, so that those who still 
stuck to the Spanish ruff in 1661, were considered very old-fashioned 
people. , 


myself with the care of this one. You govern yours at 
your pleasure. Leave me, I pray, to manage the other as 
I think best. 

AR. It seems to me . . . 

SCAN. It seems to me, and I say it openly, that is the 
right way to speak on such a subject. You let your ward 
go about gaily and stylishly ; I am content. You let her 
have footmen and a maid; I agree. You let her gad 
about, love idleness, be freely courted by dandies ; I am 
quite satisfied. But I intend that mine shall live accord- 
ing to my fancy, and not according to her own ; that she 
shall be dressed in honest serge, and wear only black on 
holidays ; that, shut up in the house, prudent in bearing, she 
shall apply herself entirely to domestic concerns, mend my 
linen in her leisure hours, or else knit stockings for amuse- 
ment; that she shall close her ears to the talk of young 
sparks, and never go out without some one to watch her. 
In short, flesh is weak; I know what stories are going 
about. I have no mind to wear horns, if I can help it ; 
and as her lot requires her to marry me, I mean to be as 
certain of her as I am of myself. 

ISA. I believe you have no grounds for . . . . 

SCAN. Hold your tongue, I shall teach you to go out 
without us ! 

LEO. What, sir .... 

SCAN. Good Heavens, madam! without wasting any 
more words, I am not speaking to you, for you are too 

LEO. Do you regret to see Isabella with us? 

SCAN. Yes, since I must speak plainly; you spoil her 
for me. Your visits here only displease me, and you will 
oblige me by honouring us no more. 

LEO. Do you wish that I shall likewise speak my 
thoughts plainly to you ? I know not how she regards all 
this; but I know what effect mistrust would have on me. 
Though we are of the same father and mother, she is not 
much of my sister if your daily conduct produces any 
love in her. 

Lis. Indeed, all these precautions are disgraceful. Are 
we in Turkey, that women must be shut up? There, they 
say, they are kept like slaves ; this is why the Turks are 


accursed by God. Our honour, sir, is very weak indeed, 
if it must be perpetually watched. Do you think, after all, 
that these precautions are any bar to our designs? that 
when we take anything into our heads, the cleverest man 
would not be but a donkey to us? All that vigilance of 
yours is but a fool's notion ; the best way of all, I assure 
you, is to trust us. He who torments us puts himself in 
extreme peril, for our honour must ever be its own protector. 
To take so much trouble in preventing us is almost to give 
us a desire to sin. If I were suspected by my husband, 
I should have a very good mind to justify his fears. 

SGAN. (to Ariste}. This, my fine teacher, is your train- 
ing. And you endure it without being troubled? 

AR. Brother, her words should only make you smile. 
There is some reason in what she says. Their sex loves to 
enjoy a little freedom ; they are but ill-checked by so much 
austerity. Suspicious precautions, bolts and bars, make 
neither wives nor maids virtuous. It is honour which must 
hold them to their duty, not the severity which we display 
towards them. To tell you candidly, a woman who is dis- 
creet by compulsion only is not often to be met with. We 
pretend in vain to govern all her actions ; I find that it is 
the heart we must win. For my part, whatever care might 
be taken, I would scarcely trust my honour in the hands of 
one who, in the desires which might assail her, required 
nothing but an opportunity of falling. 

SCAN. That is all nonsense. 

AR. Have it so; but still I maintain that we should 
instruct youth pleasantly, chide their faults with great 
tenderness, and not make them afraid of the name of 
virtue. L6onor's education has been based on these maxims. 
I have not made crimes of the smallest acts of liberty, I 
have always assented to her youthful wishes, and, thank 
Heaven, I never repented of it. I have allowed her to see 
good company, to go to amusements, balls, plays. These 
are things which, for my part, I think are calculated to 
form the minds of the young ; the world is a school which, 
in my opinion, teaches them better how to live than any 
book. Does she like to spend money on clothes, linen, 
ribands what then ? I endeavour to gratify her wishes ; 
these are pleasures which, when we are well-off, we may 


permit to the girls of our family. Her father's command 
requires her to marry me ; but it is not my intention to 
tyrannize over her. I am quite aware that our years hardly 
suit, and I leave her complete liberty of choice. 11 If a safe 
income of four thousand crowns a-year, great affection and 
consideration for her, may, in her opinion, counterbalance 
in marriage the inequality of our age, she may take me for 
her husband; if not she may choose elsewhere. If she can 
be happier without me, I do not object ; I prefer to see her 
with another husband rather than that her hand should be 
given to me against her will. 

SCAN, Oh, how sweet he is! All sugar and honey! 

AR. At all events, that is my disposition ; and I thank 
Heaven for it. I would never lay down these strict rules 
which make children wish their parents dead. 

SCAN. But the liberty acquired in youth is not so 
easily withdrawn later on; all those feelings will please 
you but little when you have to change her mode of 

AR. And why change it? 

SCAN. Why? 

AR. Yes. 

SCAN. I do not know. 

AR. Is there anything in it that offends honour? 

SCAN. Why, if you marry her, she may demand the 
same freedom which she enjoyed as a girl ? 

AR. Why not ? 

SCAN. And you so far agree with her as to let her have 
patches and ribbons ? 

AR. Doubtless. 

SCAN. To let her gad about madly at every ball and 
public assembly? 

AR. Yes, certainly. 

SCAN. And the beaux will visit at your house ? 

AR. What then ? 

SCAN. Who will junket and give entertainments? 

11 The School for Husbands was played for the first time, on the 24th of 
June, 1661, and Moliere married Armande Bejart(see Prefatory Memoir), 
on the aoth of February, 1662, when he was forty, and she about twenty 
years old. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that the words he 
places in the mouth of Ariste are an expression of his own feelings. 


AR. With all my heart. 

SCAN. And your wife is to listen to their fine speeches? 

AR. Exactly. 

SCAN. And you will look on at these gallant visitors 
with a show of indifference ? 

AR. Of course. 

SCAN. Go on, you old idiot. (To Isabella). Get in- 
doors, and hear no more of this shameful doctrine. 


AR. I mean to trust to the faithfulness of my wife, and 
intend always to live as I have lived. 

SCAN. How pleased I shall be to see him victimized ! 

AR. I cannot say what fate has in store for me ; but as 
for you, I know that if you fail to be so, it is no fault of 
yours, for you are doing everything to bring it about. 

SCAN. Laugh on, giggler ! Oh, what a joke it is to see 
a railer of nearly sixty ! 

LEO. I promise to preserve him against the fate you 
speak of, if he is to receive my vows at the altar. He 
may rest secure ; but I can tell you I would pass my word 
for nothing if I were your wife. 

Lis. We have a conscience for those who rely on us ; 
but it is delightful, really, to cheat such folks as you. 

SCAN. Hush, you cursed ill-bred tongue ! 

AR. Brother, you drew these silly words on yourself. 
Good bye. Alter your temper, and be warned that to 
shut up a wife is a bad plan. Your servant. 

SCAN. I am not yours. 


Oh, they are all well suited to one another ! What an 
admirable family. A foolish old man 'with a worn-out 
body who plays the fop ; a girl-mistress and a thorough 
coquette; impudent servants; no, wisdom itself could 
not succeed, but would exhaust sense and reason, trying 
to amend a household like this. By such associations, Isa- 
bella might lose those principles of honour which she 
learned amongst us ; to prevent it, I shall presently send 
her back again to my cabbages and turkeys. 



VAL. (Behind). Ergaste, that is he, the Argus whom I 
hate, the stern guardian of her whom I adore. 

SCAN. (Thinking himself alone). In short, is there not 
something wonderful in the corruption of manners now-a- 

VAL. I should like to address him, if I can get a chance, 
and try to strike up an acquaintance with him. 

SCAN. {Thinking himself alone). Instead of seeing that 
severity prevail which so admirably formed virtue in 
other days, uncontrolled and imperious youth here-about 
assumes . . . ( Valere bows to SganareUefrom a distance). 

VAL. He does not see that we bow to him. 

ERG. Perhaps his blind eye is on this side. Let us cross 
to the right. 

SCAN. I must go away from this place. Life in town 
only produces in me . . . 

VAL. {Gradually approaching). I must try to get an 

SCAN. (Hearing a noise). Ha ! I thought some one 
spoke . . . {Thinking himself alone). In the country, 
thank Heaven, the fashionable follies do not offend my 

ERG. (71? Valere'). Speak to him. 

SCAN. What is it ? . . . my ears tingle . . . There, all 
the recreations of our girls are but . . . (He perceives 
Valere bowing to him). Do you bow to me ? 

ERG. {To Valere). Go up to him. 

SCAN. {Not attending to Valere). Thither no coxcomb 
comes. ( Valere again bows to him). What the deuce ! . . . 
{He turns and sees Ergaste bowing on the other side). 
Another ? What a great many bows ! 

VAL. Sir, my accosting you disturbs you, I fear ? 

SCAN. That may be. 

VAL. But yet the honour of your acquaintance is so 
great a happiness, so exquisite a pleasure, that I had a 
great desire to pay my respects to you. 

SCAN. Well. 

VAL. And to come and assure you, without any deceit, 
that I am wholly at your service. 

SCAN. I believe it. 


VAL. I have the advantage of being one of your neigh- 
bours, for which I thank my lucky fate. 

SCAN. That is all right. 

VAL. But, sir. do you know the news going the round 
at Court, and thought to be reliable ? 

SCAN. What does it matter to me ? 

VAL. True ; but we may sometimes be anxious to hear 
it ? Shall you go and see the magnificent preparations for 
the birth of our Dauphin, sir? 12 

SCAN. If I feel inclined. 

VAL. Confess that Paris affords us a hundred delightful 
pleasures which are not to be found elsewhere. The 
provinces are a desert in comparison. How do you pass 
your time ? 

SCAN. On my own business. 

VAL. The mind demands relaxation, and occasionally 
gives way, by too close attention to serious occupations. 
What do you do in the evening before going to bed ? 

SCAN. What I please. 

VAL. Doubtless no one could speak better. The answer 
is just, and it seems to be common sense to resolve never 
to do what does not please us. If I did not think you 
were too much occupied, I would drop in on you some- 
times after supper. 

SGAN. Your servant. 


VAL. What do you think of that eccentric fool ? 

ERG. His answers are abrupt and his reception is 

VAL. Ah ! I am in a rage. 

ERG. What for? 

VAL. Why am I in a rage ? To see her I love in the 
power of a savage, a watchful dragon, whose severity will 
not permit her to enjoy a single moment of liberty. 

ERG. That is just what is in your favour. Your love 
ought to expect a great deal from these circumstances. 

11 The Dauphin, the son of Louis XIV. was bom at Fontainebleau, 
on the ist of November, 1661 ; The School for Husbands was first acted 
on the 24th of June of the same year ; hence Moliere ventures to pro- 
phesy about the Dauphin's birth. 


Know, for your encouragement, that a woman watched is 
half-won, and that the gloomy ill-temper of husbands and 
fathers has always promoted the affairs of the gallant. I in- 
trigue very little ; for that is not one of my accomplish- 
ments. I do not pretend to be a gallant ; but I have served 
a score of such sportsmen, who often used to tell me that it 
was their greatest delight to meet with churlish husbands, 
who never come home without scolding, downright 
brutes, who, without rhyme or reason, criticise the conduct 
of their wives in everything, and, proudly assuming the 
authority of a husband, quarrel with them before the eyes 
of their admirers. "One knows," they would say, "how 
to take advantage of this. The lady's indignation at this 
kind of outrage, on the one hand, and the considerate 
compassion of the lover, on the other, afford an oppor- 
tunity for pushing matters far enough." In a word, the 
surliness of Isabella's guardian is a circumstance sufficiently 
favourable for you. 

VAL. But I could never find one moment to speak to 
her in the four months that I have ardently loved her. 

ERG. Love quickens people's wits, though it has little 
effect on yours. If I had been . . . 

VAL. Why, what could you have done? For one never 
sees her without that brute ; in the house there are neither 
maids nor men-servants whom I might influence to assist 
me by the alluring temptation of some reward. 

ERG. Then she does not yet know that you love her? 

VAL. It is a point on which I am not informed. * 
Wherever the churl took this fair one, she always saw me 
like a shadow behind her ; my looks daily tried to explain 
to her the violence of my love. My eyes have spoken 
much ; but who can tell whether, after all, their language 
could be understood ? 

ERG. It is true that this language may sometimes prove 
obscure, if it have not writing or speech for its interpreter. 

VAL. What am I to do to rid myself of this vast diffi- 
culty, and to learn whether the fair one has perceived that 
I love her ? Tell me some means or other. 

ERG. That is what we have to discover. Let us go in 
for a while the better to think over it. 




SCAN. That will do ; I know the house, and the person, 
simply from the description you have given me. 

ISA. (Aside). Heaven, be propitious, and favour to-day 
the artful contrivance of an innocent love ! 

SCAN. Do you say they have told you that his name is 

ISA. Yes. 

SCAN. That will do ; do not make yourself uneasy about 
it. Go inside, and leave me to act. I am going at once to 
talk to this young madcap. 

ISA. (As she goes in). For a girl, I am planning a pretty 
bold scheme. But the unreasonable severity with which 
I am treated will be my excuse to every right mind. 


(Knocks at the door of Valere'' 's house). Let us lose no 
time; here it is. Who's there? Why, I am dreaming! 
Hulloa, I say! hulloa somebody! hulloa! I do not 
wonder, after this information, that he came up to me 
just now so meekly. But I must make haste, and teach 
this foolish aspirant . . . 


SCAN. (To Ergaste, who has come out hastily). A 
plague on the lubberly ox ! Do you mean to knock me 
down coming and sticking yourself in front of me like a 

VAL. Sir, I regret . . . 

SCAN. Ah ! you are the man I want. 

VAL. I, sir? 

SCAN. You. Your name is Valere, is it not ? 

VAL. Yes. 

SCAN. I am come to speak to you if you will allow me. 

VAL. Can I have the happiness of rendering you any 

SCAN. No ; but I propose to do you a good turn. That 
is what brings me to your house. 

VAL. To my house, sir ! 


SCAN. To your house. Need you be so much aston- 
ished ? 

VAL. I have good reason for it ; I am delighted with 
the honour . . . 

SCAN. Do not mention the honour, I beseech you. 

VAL. Will you not come in? 

SCAN. There is no need. 

VAL. I pray you, enter. 

SCAN. No, I will go no further. 

VAL. As long as you stay there I cannot listen to you. 

SCAN. I will not budge. 

VAL. Well, I must yield. Quick, since this gentleman 
is resolved upon it, bring a chair. 

SCAN. I am going to talk standing. 

VAL. As if I could permit such a thing ! 

SCAN. What an intolerable delay ! 

VAL. Such incivility would be quite unpardonable. 

SCAN. Nothing can be so rude as not to listen to people 
who wish to speak to us. 

VAL. I obey you, then. 

SCAN. You cannot do better. {They make many com- 
pliments about putting on their hats*). So much ceremony 
is hardly necessary. Will you listen to me? 

VAL. Undoubtedly, and most willingly. 

SCAN. Tell me : do you know that I am guardian to a 
tolerably young and passably handsome girl who lives in 
this neighbourhood, and whose name is Isabella? 

VAL. Yes. 

SCAN. As you know it, I need not tell it to you. But 
do you know, likewise, that as I find her charming, I care 
for her otherwise than as a guardian, and that she is des- 
tined for the honour of being my wife ? 

VAL. No! 

SCAN. I tell it you, then ; and also that it is as well 
that your passion, if you please, should leave her in peace. 

VAL. Who? I, sir? 

SCAN. Yes, you. Let us have no dissembling. 

VAL. Who has told you that my heart is smitten by her? 

SCAN. Those who are worthy of belief. 

VAL. Be more explicit. 

SCAN. She herself. 


VAL. She! 

SCAN. She. Is not that enough ? Like a virtuous young 
girl, who has loved me from childhood, she told me all 
just now ; moreover, she charged me to tell you, that, 
since she has everywhere been followed by you, her heart, 
which your pursuit greatly offends, has only too well un- 
derstood the, language of your eyes ; that your secret 
desires are well known to her ; and that to try more fully 
to explain a passion which is contrary to the affection she 
entertains for me, is to give yourself needless trouble. 

VAL. She, you say, of her own accord, makes you . . 

SCAN. Yes, makes me come to you and give you this 
frank and plain message ; also, that, having observed the 
violent love wherewith your soul is smitten, she would 
earlier have let you know what she thinks about you if, 
perplexed as she was, she could have found anyone to send 
this message by ; but that at length she was painfully com- 
pelled to make use of me, in order to assure you, as I have 
told you, that her affection is denied to all save me ; that 
you have been ogling her long enough ; and that, if you 
have ever so little brains, you will carry your passion some- 
where else. Farewell, till our next meeting. That is what 
I had to tell you. 

VAL. {Aside). Ergaste, what say you to such an adven- 

SCAN. {Aside, retiring). See how he is taken aback ! 

ERG. (In a low tone to Valere). For my part, I think 
that there is nothing in it to displease you ; that a rather 
subtle mystery is concealed under it ; in short, that this 
message is not sent by one who desires to see the love end 
which she inspires in you. 

SCAN. (Aside.} He takes it as he ought. 

VAL. (In a low tone to Ergaste). You think it a 
mystery . . . 

ERG. Yes. . . . But he is looking at us ; let us get out 
of his sight. 


How his face showed his confusion ! Doubtless he did 
not expect this message. Let me call Isabella; she is 
showing the fruits which education produces on the mind. 


Virtue is all she cares for ; and her heart is so deeply 
steeped in it, that she is offended if a man merely looks 
at her. 


ISA. (Aside, as she enters). I fear that my lover, full of 
his passion, has not understood my message rightly ! Since 
I am so strictly guarded, I must risk one which shall make 
my meaning clearer. 

SCAN. Here I am, returned again. 

ISA. Well? 

SCAN. Your words wrought their full purpose ; I have 
done his business. He wanted to deny that his heart was 
touched ; but when I told him I came from you, he stood 
immediately dumbfounded and confused; I do not believe 
he will come here any more. 

ISA. Ah, what do you tell me ? I much fear the con- 
trary, and that he will still give us more trouble. 

SCAN. And why do you fear this ? 

ISA. You had hardly left the house when, going to the 
window to take a breath of air, I saw a young man at 
yonder turning, who first came, most unexpectedly, to 
wish me good morning, on the part of this impertinent man, 
and then threw right into my chamber a box, enclosing a 
letter, sealed like a love-letter. 13 I meant at once to throw 
it after him ; but he had already reached the end of the 
street. I feel very much annoyed at it. 

SCAN. Just see his trickery and rascality ! 

ISA. It is my duty quickly to have this box and letter 
sent back to this detestable lover ; for that purpose I need 
some one ; for I dare not venture to ask yourself . . . 

SCAN. On the contrary, darling, it shows me all the 
more your love and faithfulness ; my heart joyfully ac- 
cepts this task. You oblige me in this more than I can 
tell you. 

ISA. Take it then. 

1S The original has poulet, literally " a chicken," because love-letters 
were folded so as to represent a fowl, with two wings j this shape is now 
called cocotte, from cog, and, though no longer used to designate a billet- 
doux, is often employed in familiar phraseology, in speaking of a girl who 
does not lead a moral life. 


SCAN. Well, let us see what he has dared to say to you. 

ISA. Heavens ! Take care not to open it ! 

SCAN. Why so? 

ISA. Will you make him believe that it is I ? A re- 
spectable girl ought always to refuse to read the letters a 
man sends her. The curiosity which she thus betrays 
shows a secret pleasure in listening to gallantries. I think 
it right that this letter should be peremptorily returned to 
Valere unopened, that he may the better learn this day 
the great contempt which my heart feels for him ; so that 
his passion may from this time lose all hope, and never 
more attempt such a transgression. 

SCAN. Of a truth she is right in this ! Well, your vir- 
tue charms me, as well as your discretion. I see that my 
lessons have borne fruit in your mind ; you show yourself 
worthy of being my wife. 

ISA. Still I do not like to stand in the way of your 
wishes. The letter is in your hands, and you can open it. 

SCAN. No, far from it. Your reasons are too good ; I 
go to acquit myself of the task you impose upon me ; I 
have likewise to say a few words quite near, and will then 
return hither to set you at rest. 


How delighted I am to find her such a discreet girl ! I 
have in my house a treasure of honour. To consider a 
loving look treason, to receive a love-letter as a supreme 
insult, and to have it carried back to the gallant by 
myself! I should like to know, seeing all this, if my 
brother's ward would have acted thus, on a similar occa- 
sion. Upon my word, girls are what you make them . . . 
Hulloa ! (Knocks at Valere's door}. 


ERG. Who is there ? 

SGAN. Take this ; and tell your master not to presume 
so far as to write letters again, and send them in gold 
boxes ; say also that Isabella is mightily offended at it. 
See, it has not even been opened. He will perceive what 


regard she has for his passion, and what success he can 
expect in it. 


VAL. What has that surly brute just given you? 

ERG. This letter, sir, as well as this box, which he pre- 
tends that Isabella has received from you, and about 
which, he says, she is in a great rage. She returns it to 
you unopened. Read it quickly, and let us see if I am 

VAL. {Reads). " This letter will no doubt surprise you ; 
both the resolution to write to you and the means of conveying 
it to your hands may be thought very bold in me; but I am 
in such a condition, that I can no longer restrain myself. 
Well-founded repugnance to a marriage with which I am 
threatened in six days, makes me risk everything; and in 
the determination to free myself from it by whatever means, 
I thought I had rather choose you than despair. Yet do not 
think that you owe all to my evil fate; it is not the constraint 
in which I find myself that has given rise to the sentiments 1 
entertain for you ; but it hastens the avowal of them, and 
makes me transgress the decorum which the proprieties of my 
sex require. It depends on you alone to make me shortly 
your own ; I wait only until you have declared your inten- 
tions to me before acquainting you with the resolution I have 
taken; but, above all .remember that time presses, and that 
two hearts, which love each other, ought to understand even 
the slightest hint.'" 

ERG. Well, sir, is not this contrivance original ? For 
a young girl she. is not so very ignorant. Would one have 
thought her capable of these love stratagems ? 

VAL. Ah, I consider her altogether adorable. This 
evidence of her wit and tenderness doubles my love for 
her, and strengthens the feelings with which her beauty 
inspires me . . . 

ERG. Here comes the dupe ; think what you will say to 

SCAN. {Thinking himself alone}. Oh, thrice and four 
times blessed be the law which forbids extravagance in 


dress ! " No longer will the troubles of husbands be so 
great ! women will now be checked in their demands. 
Oh, how delighted I am with the King for this proclama- 
tion ! 15 How I wish, for the peace of the same husbands, 
that he would forbid coquetry, as well as lace, and gold 
or silver embroidery. I have bought the law on purpose, 
so that Isabella may read it aloud ; and, by and by, when 
she is at leisure, it shall be our entertainment after supper. 
(Perceiving Valere). Well, Mr. Sandy-hair, 16 would you 
like to send again love-letters in boxes of gold ? You 
doubtless thought you had found some young flirt, eager 
for an intrigue, and melting before pretty speeches. You 
see how your presents are received ! Believe me, you 
waste your powder and shot. Isabella is a discreet girl, 
she loves me and your love insults her. Aim at some one 
else, and be off ! 

VAL. Yes, yes ; your merits, to which everyone yields, 
are too great an obstacle, sir. Though my passion be 
sincere, it is folly to contend with you for the love of 

SCAN. It is really folly. 

VAL. Be sure I should not have yielded to the fasci- 
nation of her charms, could I have foreseen that this 
wretched heart would find a rival so formidable as 

SCAN. I believe it. 

VAL. Now I know better than to hope ; I yield to you, 
sir, and that too without a murmur. 

SCAN. You do well. 

VAL. Reason will have it so; for you shine with so 
many virtues, that I should be wrong to ' regard with an 
angry eye the tender sentiments which Isabella entertains 
for you. 

SCAN. Of course. 

14 It is remarkable that Louis XIV., who was so extravagant himself in 
his buildings, dress, and general expenses, published sixteen laws against 
luxury ; the law Sganarelle speaks of was promulgated November ayth, 
1660, against the use of guipures, cannetilles, paillettes, etc., on men's 

15 The original has decri, a proclamation which forbade the manufac- 
turing, sale or wearing, of certain fabrics. 

16 See Note 7, page 264. 


VAL. Yes, yes, I yield to you; but at least I pray you, 
and it is the only favour, sir, begged by a wretched 
lover, of whose pangs this day you are the sole cause, 
I pray you, I say, to assure Isabella that, if my heart has 
been burning with love for her these three months, that 
passion is spotless, and has never fostered a thought at 
which her honour could be offended. 

SCAN. Ay. 

VAL. That, relying solely on my heart's choice, my 
only design was to obtain her for my wife, if destiny had 
not opposed an obstacle to this pure flame in you, who 
captivated her heart. 

SCAN. Very good. 

VAL. That, whatever happens, she must not think that 
her charms can ever be forgotten ; that to whatever decrees 
of Heaven I must submit, my fate is to love her to my 
last breath; and that, if anything checks my pursuit, it is 
the just respect I have for your merits." 

SCAN. That is wisely spoken ; I shall go at once to re- 
peat these words, which will not be disagreeable to her. 
But, if you will listen to me, try to act so as to drive this 
passion from your mind. Farewell. 

ERG. (To Valere). The excellent dupe ! 


I feel a great pity for this poor wretch, so full of affec- 
tion. But it is unfortunate for him to have taken it into 
his head to try to storm a fortress which I have captured. 

(Sganarelle knocks at his door.} 


SCAN. Never did lover display so much grief for a love- 
letter returned unopened ! At last he loses all hope, and 
retires. But he earnestly entreated me to tell you, that, 
at least, in loving you, he never fostered a thought at 
which your honour could be offended, and that, relying 

17 We are of course to read between the lines : " If there is anything 
which could strengthen my resolution to save her, it is the natural detes- 
tation which I feel for you." 


solely on his heart's choice, his only desire was to obtain 
you for a wife, if destiny had not opposed an obstacle to his 
pure flame, through me, who captivated your heart ; that, 
whatever happens, you must not think that your charms 
can ever be forgotten by him ; that, to whatever decrees 
of Heaven he must submit, his fate is to love you to his 
last breath; and that if anything checks his pursuit, it is 
the just respect he has for my merits. These are his very 
words; and, far from blaming hftn, I think him a gentle- 
man, and I pity him for loving you. 

ISA. (Aside). His passion does not contradict my se- 
cret belief, and his looks have always assured me of its 

SCAN. What do you say? 

ISA. That it is hard that you should so greatly pity a 
man whom I hate like death ; and that, if you loved me 
as much as you say, you would feel how he insults me by 
his addresses. 

SCAN. But he did not know your inclinations ; and, 
from the uprightness of his intentions, his love does not 
deserve . . . 

ISA. Is it good intentions, I ask, to try and carry people 
off? Is it like a man of honour to form designs for mar- 
rying me by force, and taking me out of your hands? As 
if I were a girl to live after such a disgrace ! 

SCAN. How? 

ISA. Yes, yes, I have been informed that this base lover 
speaks of carrying me off by force ; for my part, I cannot 
tell by what secret means he has learned so early that you 
intend to marry me in eight days 18 at the latest, since it 
was only yesterday you told me so. But they say that he 
intends to be beforehand with you, and not let me unite 
my lot to yours. 

SCAN. That is a bad case. 

ISA. Oh, pardon me! He is eminently a gentleman, 
who only feels towards me . . . 

SCAN. He is wrong ; and this is past joking. 

18 In the letter which Isabella writes to Valere (see page 279), she speaks 
of a marriage with which she is threatened in six days. This is, I sup- 
pose, a pious fraud, to urge Valere to make haste, for here she mentions 
" eight days." 


ISA. Yes, your good nature encourages his folly. If 
you had spoken sharply to him just now, he would have 
feared your rage and my resentment ; for even since his 
letter was rejected, he mentioned this design which has 
shocked me. As I have been told, his love retains the 
belief that it is well received by me; that I dread to 
marry you, whatever people may think, and should be re- 
joiced to see myself away from you. 

SCAN. He is mad ! 

ISA. Before you, he knows how to disguise; and his 
plan is to amuse you. Be sure the wretch makes sport of 
you by these fair speeches. I must confess that I am 
very unhappy. After all my pains to live honourably, 
and to repel the addresses of a vile seducer, I must 
be exposed to his vexatious and infamous designs against 
me ! 

SCAN. There, fear nothing. 

ISA. For my part I tell you that if you do not strongly 
reprove such an impudent attempt, and do not find quickly 
means of ridding me of such bold persecutions, I will 
abandon all, and not suffer any longer the insults which 
I receive from him. 

SCAN. Do not be so troubled, my little wife. There, I 
am going to find him, to give him a good blowing up. 

ISA. Tell him at least plainly, so that it may be in vain 
for him to gainsay it, that I have been told of his inten- 
tions upon good authority; that, after this message, what- 
ever he may undertake, I defy him to surprise me; and, 
lastly, that, without wasting any more sighs or time, he 
must knowwhat are my feelings for you ; that, if he wishes 
not to be the cause of some mischief, he should not require 
to have the same thing told twice over. 

SCAN. I will tell him what is right. 

ISA. But all this in such a way as to show him that I 
really speak seriously. 

SCAN. There, I will forget nothing, I assure you. 

ISA. I await your return impatiently. Pray, make as 
much haste as you can. I pine when I am a moment 
without seeing you. 

SCAN. There, ducky, my heart's delight, I will return 



Was there ever a girl more discreet and better behaved? 
Oh, how happy I am ! and what a pleasure it is to find a 
woman just after my own heart ! Yes, that is how our 
women ought to be, and not, like some I know, downright 
flirts, who allow themselves to be courted, and make their 
simple husbands to be pointed at all over Paris. {Knocks 
at Valere 1 s door). Hulloa, my enterprising, fine gallant ! 


VAL. Sir, what brings you here again ? 

SGAN. Your follies. 

VAL. How ? 

SCAN. You know well enough what I wish to speak to 
you about. To tell you plainly, I thought you had more 
sense. You have been making fun of me with your fine 
speeches, and secretly nourish silly expectations. Look 
you, I wished to treat you gently ; but you will end by 
making me very angry. Are you not ashamed, consider- 
ing who you are, to form such designs as you do? to in- 
tend to carry off a respectable girl, and interrupt a 
marriage on which her whole happiness depends ? 

VAL. Who told you this strange piece of news, sir? 

SCAN. Do not let us dissimulate ; I have it from Isa- 
bella, who sends you word by me, for the last time, that 
she has plainly enough shown you what her choice is ; that 
her heart, entirely mine, is insulted by such a plan ; that 
she would rather die than suffer such an outrage ; and that 
you will cause a terrible uproar, unless you put an end to 
all this confusion. 

VAL. If she really said what J have just heard, I confess 
that my passion has nothing more to expect. These ex- 
pressions are plain enough to let me see that all is ended ; 
I must respect the judgment she has passed. 

SCAN. If ... You doubt it then, and fancy all the 
complaints that I have made to you on her behalf are mere 
pretences ! Do you wish that she herself should tell you 
her feelings ? To set you right, I willingly consent to it. 
Follow me ; you shall hear if I have added anything, 
and if her young heart hesitates between us two. {Goes 
and knocks at his own door). 



ISA. What ! you bring Valere to me ! What is your 
design? Are you taking his part against me? And do 
you wish, charmed by his rare merits, to compel me to 
love him, and endure his visits ? 

SCAN. No, my love ; your affection is too dear to me 
for that; but he believes that my messages are untrue; he 
thinks that it is I who speak, and cunningly represent 
you as full of hatred for him, and of tenderness for me ; I 
wish, therefore, from your own mouth, infallibly to cure 
him of a mistake which nourishes his love. 

ISA. (To Valere). What! Is not my soul completely 
bared to your eyes, and can you still doubt whom I love ? 

VAL. Yes, all that this gentleman has told me on your 
behalf, Madam, might well surprise a man ; I confess I 
doubted it. This final sentence, which decides the fate of 
my great love, moves my feelings so much that it can be 
no offence if I wish to have it repeated. 

ISA. No, no, such a sentence should not surprise you. 
Sganarelle told you my very sentiments ; I consider them 
to be sufficiently founded on justice, to make their full 
truth clear. Yes, I desire it to be known, and I ought to 
be believed, that fate here presents two objects to my eyes, 
who, inspiring me with different sentiments, agitate my 
heart. One by a just choice, in which my honour is in- 
volved, has all my esteem and love ; and the other, in re- 
turn for his affection, has all my anger and aversion. The 
presence of the one is pleasing and dear to me, and fills me 
with joy ; but the sight of the other inspires me with se- 
cret emotions of hatred and horror. To see myself the 
wife of the one is all my desire ; and rather than belong 
to the other, I would lose my life. But I have sufficiently 
declared my real sentiments ; and languished too long 
under this severe torture. He whom I love must use dili- 
gence to make him whom I hate lose all hope, and deliv- 
er me by a happy marriage, from a suffering more terrible 
than death. 

SCAN. Yes, darling, I intend to gratify your wish. 

ISA. It is the only way to make me happy. 

SCAN. You shall soon be so. 


ISA. I know it is a shame for a young woman, so openly 
to declare her love. 

SCAN. No, no. 

ISA. But, seeing what my lot is, such liberty must be 
allowed me; I can, without blushing, make so tender a 
confession to him whom I already regard as a husband. 

SCAN. Yes, my poor child, darling of my soul ! 

ISA. Let him think, then, how to prove his passion 
for me. 

SCAN. Yes, here, kiss my hand. 

ISA. Let him, without more sighing, hasten a marriage 
which is all I desire, and accept the assurance which I 
give him, never to listen to the vows of another. (She 
pretends to embrace Sganarelle, and gives her hand to 
Valere to fa'ss. 19 

SCAN. Oh, oh, my little pretty face, my poor little dar- 
ling, you shall not pine long, I promise you. (To Valere}. 
There, say no more. You see I do not make her speak ; 
it is me alone she loves. 

VAL. Well, Madam, well, this is sufficient explanation. 
I learn by your words what you urge me to do ; I shall 
soon know how to rid your presence of him who so greatly 
offends you. 

ISA. You could not give me greater pleasure. For, to 
be brief, the sight of him is intolerable. It is odious to 
me, and I detest it so much . . . 

SCAN. Eh! Eh! 

ISA. Do I offend you by speaking thus ? Do I ... 

SCAN. Heavens, by no means ! I do not say that. But 
in truth, I pity his condition ; you show your aversion too 

ISA. I cannot show it too much on such an occasion. 

VAL. Yes, you shall be satisfied ; in three days your 
eyes shall no longer see the object which is odious to you. 

ISA. That is right. Farewell. 

SCAN. (To Valere}; I pity your misfortune, but . . . 

VAL. No, you will hear no complaint from me. The 

19 This stage play is imitated by Congreve in The Old Bachelor, (Act 
iv., Scene 22) when Mrs. Fondlewife goes and hangs upon her husband's 
neck and kisses him ; whilst Bellmour kisses her hand behind Fondle- 
wife's back. 


lady assuredly does us both justice, and I shall endeavour 
to satisfy her wishes. Farewell. 

SCAN. Poor fellow ! his grief is excessive. Stay, em- 
brace me : I am her second self. {Embraces Valere. 


SCAN. I think he is greatly to be pitied. 

ISA. Not at all. 

SCAN. For the rest, your love touches me "to the quick, 
little darling, and I mean it shall have its reward. Eight 
days are too long for your impatience ; to-morrow I will 
marry you, and will not invite . . . 

ISA. To-morrow ! 

SCAN. You modestly pretend to shrink from it ; but I 
well know the joy these words afford you; you wish it 
were already over. 

ISA. But . . . 

SCAN. Let us get everything ready for this marriage. 

ISA. (Aside). Heaven ! Inspire me with a plan to put 
it off! 



Yes, death seems to me a hundred times less dreadful 
than this fatal marriage into which I am forced ; all that 
I am doing to escape its horrors should excuse me in 
the eyes of those who blame me. Time presses; it is 
night ; now, then, let me fearlessly entrust my fate to a 
lover's fidelity. 


SCAN. (Speaking to those inside the house). Here I am 
once more ; to-morrow they are going, in my name . . . 

ISA. O Heaven ! 

SCAN. Is it you, darling? Where are you going so 
late ? You said when I left you that, being rather tired, 
you would shut yourself up in your room ; you even begged 
that on my return I would let you be quiet till to-morrow 
morning. . . . 

ISA. It is true; but . . . 


SCAN. But what ? 

ISA. You see I am confused ; I do not know how to 
tell you the reason. 

SGAN. Why, whatever can it be ? 

ISA. A wonderful secret ! It is my sister who now 
compels me to go out, and who, for a purpose for which I 
have greatly blamed her, has borrowed my room, in which 
I have shut her up. 

SCAN. What? 

ISA. Could it be believed? She is in love with that 
suitor whom we have discarded. 

SCAN. WithValere? 

ISA. Desperately ! Her passion is so great that I can 
compare it with nothing; you may judge of its violence 
by her coming here alone, at this hour, to confide to me 
her love, and to tell me positively that she will die if she 
does not obtain the object of her desire; that, for more 
than a year, a secret intercourse has kept up the ardour of 
their love ; and that they had even pledged themselves to 
marry each other when their passion was new. 

SGAN. Oh, the wretched girl ! 

ISA. That, being informed of the despair into which I 
had plunged the man whom she loves to see, she came to 
beg me to allow her to prevent a departure which would 
break her heart; to meet this lover to-night under my 
name, in the little street on which my room looks, where 
counterfeiting my voice, she may utter certain tender feel- 
ings, and thereby tempt him to stay ; in short, cleverly 
to secure for herself the regard which it is known he has 
for me. 

SGAN. And do you think this . . . 

ISA. I? I am enraged at it. "What," said I, "sister, 
are you mad ? Do you not blush to indulge in such a love 
for one of those people who change every day? To forget 
your sex, and betray the trust put in you by the man 
whom Heaven has destined you to marry? " 

SCAN- He deserves it richly ; I am delighted by it. 

ISA. Finally my vexation employed a hundred argu- 
ments to reprove such baseness in her, and enable me to 
refuse her request for to-night ; but she became so impor- 
tunate, shed so many tears, heaved so many sighs, said so 



often that I was driving her to despair if I refused to 
gratify her passion, that my heart was brought to consent 
in spite of me ; and, to justify this night's intrigue, to 
which affection for my own sister made me assent, I was 
about to bring Lucretia to sleep with me, whose virtues 
you extol to me daily ; but you surprised me by your 
speedy return. 

SCAN. No, no, I will not have all this mystery at my 
house. As .for my brother, I might agree to it ; but they 
may be seen by some one in the street, and she whom I 
am to honour with my body must not only be modest and 
well-born ; she must not even be suspected. Let us send 
the miserable girl away, and let her passion . . . 

ISA. Ah, you would overwhelm her with confusion, and 
she might justly complain of my want of discretion. Since 
I must not countenance her design, at least wait till I 
send her away. 

SCAN. Well, do so. 

ISA. But above all, conceal yourself, I beg of you, and 
be content to see her depart without speaking one word 
to her. 

SCAN. Yes, for your sake I will restrain my anger ; but 
as soon as she is gone, I will go and find my brother 
without delay. I shall be delighted to run and tell him 
of this business. 

ISA. I entreat you, then, not to mention my name. 
Good night; for I shall shut myself in at the same 

SCAN. Till to-morrow, dear. . . How impatient I am 
to see my brother, and tell him of his plight ! The good 
man has been victimized, with all his bombast I 20 I would 
not have this undone for twenty crowns ! 

ISA. ( Within). Yes, sister, I am sorry to incur your dis- 
pleasure ; but what you wish me to do is impossible. My 
honour, which is dear to me, would run too great a risk. 
Farewell, go home before it is too late. 

M The original has phebus, which is often used for a swollen and preten- 
tious style, because it is said that a work on the chase, written in the four- 
teenth century by Gaston, Count of Foix, in such a style, was called 
Miroir de Phebus. It is more probable that the word phebus, meaning 
showy language, is derived from the Greek <<n0o, brilliant. 


SCAN. There she goes, fretting finely, I warrant. Let 
me lock the door, for fear she should return. 

ISA. {Going out disguised^). Heaven ! abandon me not 
in my resolve ! 

SCAN. Whither can she be going ? Let me follow her. 

ISA. (Aside}. Night, at least, favours me in my distress. 

SCAN. (Aside). To the gallant's house ! What is her 
design ? 


VAL. (Coming out quickly). Yes, yes; I will this night 
make some effort to speak to. . . Who is there ? 

ISA. ( To Valere). No noise, Valere ; I have forestalled 
you ; I am Isabella. 

SCAN. (Aside). You lie, minx ; it is not she. She is too 
staunch to those laws of honour which you forsake ; you 
are falsely assuming her name and voice. 

ISA. (To Valere). But unless by the holy bonds of mat- 
rimony . . . 

VAL. Yes ; that is my only purpose ; and here I make 
you a solemn promise that to-morrow I will go wherever 
you please to be married to you. 

SCAN. (Aside). Poor deluded fool ! 

VAL. Enter with confidence. I now defy the power of 
your duped Argus ; before he can tear you from my love, 
this arm shall stab him to the heart a thousand times. 


Oh, I can assure you I do not want to take from you a 
shameless girl, so blinded by her passion. I am not 
jealous of your promise to her ; if I am to be believed, 
you shall be her husband. Yes, let us surprise him with 
this bold creature. The memory of her father, who was 
justly respected, and the great interest I take in her sister, 
demand that an attempt, at least, should be made to re- 
store her honour. Hulloa, there ! {Knocks at the door of 
a magistrate)."* 

TENDANT with a lantern. 

MAG. What is it? 

sl See page 261, note 5. 


SCAN. Your servant, your worship. Your presence in 
official garb is necessary here. Follow me, please, with 
your lantern-bearer. 

MAG. We were going . . . 

SGAN. This is a very pressing business. 

MAG. What is it? 

SGAN. To go into that house and surprise two persons 
who must be joined in lawful matrimony. It is a girl with 
whom I am connected, and whom, under promise of mar- 
riage, a certain Valere has seduced and got into his house. 
She comes of a noble and virtuous family, but . . . 

MAG. If that is the business, it was well you met us, 
since we have a notary here. 

SGAN. Sir? 

NOT. Yes, a notary royal. 

MAG. And what is more, an honourable man. 

SGAN. No need to add that. Come to this doorway; 
make no noise, but see that no one escapes. You shall be 
fully satisfied for your trouble, but be sure and do not let 
yourself be bribed. 

MAG. What ! do you think that an officer of justice . . 

SGAN. What I said was not meant as a reflection on 
your position. I will bring my brother here at once ; only 
let the lantern-bearer accompany me. (Aside). I am 
going to give this placable man a treat. Hulloa ! (Knocks 
at AristJ s door). 


AR. Who knocks? Why, what do you want, brother? 

SGAN. Come, my fine teacher, my superannuated buck ; 
I shall have something pretty to show you. 

AR. How? 

SGAN. I bring you good news. 

AR. What is it? 

SGAN. Where is your L6onor, pray? 

AR. Why this question? She is, as I think, at a friend's 
house at a ball. 

SCAN. Eh ! Oh yes ! Follow me ; you shall see to 
what ball Missy is gone. 

AR. What do you mean ? 


SCAN. You have brought her up very well indeed. It 
is not good to be always finding fault ; the mind is capti- 
vated by much tenderness; and suspicious precautions, 
bolts, and bars, make neither wives nor maids virtuous; 
we cause them to do evil by so much austerity; their sex 
demands a little freedom. Of a verity she has taken her 
fill of it, the artful girl ; and with her, virtue has grown 
very complaisant. 

AR. What is the drift of such a speech ? 

SCAN. Bravo, my elder brother ! it is what you richly 
deserve ; I would not for twenty pistoles that you should 
have missed this fruit of your silly maxims. Look what 
our lessons have produced in these two sisters: the one 
avoids the gallants, the other runs after them. 

AR. If you will not make your riddle clearer . . . 

SCAN. The riddle is that her ball is at Valere's; that I 
saw her go to him under cover of night, and that she is at 
this moment in his arms. 

AR. Who? 

SCAN. L6onor. 

AR. A truce to jokes, I beg of you. 

SCAN. I joke . . . He is excellent with his joking ! 
Poor fellow ! I tell you, and tell you again, that Valere 
has your Leonor in his house, and that they had pledged 
each other before he dreamed of running after Isabella. 

AR. This story is so very improbable . . . 

SCAN. He will not believe it, even when he sees it. I 
am getting angry; upon my word, old age is not good for 
much when brains are wanting ! 

{Laying his finger on his forehead. 

AR. What ! brother, you mean to ... 

SCAN. I mean nothing, upon my soul ! Only follow me. 
Your mind shall be satisfied directly. You shall see 
whether I am deceiving you, and whether they have not 
pledged their troth for more than a year past. 

AR. Is it likely she could thus have agreed to this en- 
gagement without telling me ? me ! who in everything, 
from her infancy, ever displayed towards her a complete 
readiness to please, and who a hundred times protested I 
would never force her inclinations. 

SCAN. Well, your own eyes shall judge of the matter. I 


have already brought here a magistrate and a notary. We 
are concerned that the promised marriage shall at once 
restore to her the honour she has lost ; for I do not sup- 
pose you are so mean-spirited as to wish to marry her with 
this stain upon her, unless you have still some arguments 
to raise you above all kinds of ridicule. 

AR. For my part, I shall never be so weak as wish to 
possess a heart in spite of itself. But, after all, I cannot 
believe . . . 

SCAN. What speeches you make ! Come, this might go 
on for ever. 


MAG. There is no need to use any compulsion here, 
gentlemen. If you wish to have them married, your anger 
may be appeased on the spot. Both are equally inclined 
to it ; Valere has already given under his hand a statement 
that he considers her who is now with him as his wife. 

AR. The girl . . . 

MAG. Is within, and will not come out, unless you con- 
sent to gratify their desires. 


VAL. (At the window of his house). No, gentlemen ; 
no man shall enter here until your pleasure be known to 
me. You know who I am ; I have done my duty in sign- 
ing the statement, which they can show you. If you in- 
tend to approve of the marriage, you must also put your 
names to this agreement ; if not, prepare to take my life 
before you shall rob me of the object of my love. 

SCAN. No, we have no notion of separating you from 
her. (Aside}. He has not yet been undeceived in the 
matter of Isabella. Let us make the most of his mistake. 

AR. (To Valere). But is it Leonor? 

SCAN. Hold your tongue ! 

AR. But . . . 

SCAN. Be quiet ! 

AR. I want to know . . . 

SCAN. Again ! Will you hold your tongue, I say ? 


VAL. To be brief: whatever be the consequence, Isa- 
bella has my solemn promise ; I also have hers ; if you 
consider everything, I am not so bad a match that you 
should blame her. 

AR. What he says is not . . . 

SCAN. Be quiet ! I have a reason for it. You shall 
know the mystery. {To Valere). Yes, without any more 
words, we both consent that you shall be the husband of 
her who is at present in your house. 

MAG. The contract is drawn up in those very terms, and 
there is a blank for the name, as we have not seen her. 
Sign. The lady can set you all at ease by-and-by. 

VAL. I agree to the arrangement. 

SGAN. And so do I, with all my heart. (Aside). We 
will have a good laugh presently. (Aloud}. There, 
brother, sign ; yours the honour to sign first. 

AR. But why all this mystery . . . 

SCAN. The deuce ! what hesitation. Sign, you simple- 

AR. He talks of Isabella, and you of Leonor. 

SCAN. Are you not agreed, brother, if it be she, to 
leave them to their mutual promises? 

AR. Doubtless. 

SGAN. Sign, then ; I shall do the same. 

AR. So be it. I understand nothing about it. 

SGAN. You shall be enlightened. 

MAG. We will soon return. 

(Exeunt Magistrate and Notary into Valere 1 s house). 

SGAN. (To Ariste). Now, then, I will give you a cue 
to this intrigue. (They retire to the back of the stage). 


LEO. Ah, what a strange martyrdom ! What bores all 
those young fools appear to me ! I have stolen away from 
the ball, on account of them. 

Lis. Each of them tried to make himself agreeable to 

LEO. And I never endured anything more intolerable. 
I should prefer the simplest conversation to all the 


babblings" of these say-nothings. They fancy that every- 
thing must give way before their flaxen wigs, and think 
they have said the cleverest witticism when they come up, 
with their silly chaffing tone, and rally you stupidly about 
the love of an old man. For my part, I value more highly 
the affection of such an old man than all the giddy rap- 
tures of a youthful brain. But do I not see . . . 

SCAN. {To Ariste). Yes, so the matter stands. (Per- 
ceiving Leonor). Ah, there she is, and her maid with her. 

AR. Leonor, without being angry, I have reason to 
complain. You know whether I have ever sought to re- 
strain you, and whether I have not stated a hundred times 
that I left you full liberty to gratify your own wishes ; yet 
your heart, regardless of my approval, has pledged its 
faith, as well as its love, without my knowledge. I do not 
repent of my indulgence ; but your conduct certainly an- 
noys me ; it is a way of acting which the tender friend- 
ship I have borne you does not merit. 

LEO. I know not why you speak to me thus ; but be- 
lieve me, I am as I have ever been ; nothing can alter my 
esteem for you ; love for any other man would seem to me 
a crime ; if you will satisfy my wishes, a holy bond shall 
unite us to-morrow. 

AR. On what foundation, then, have you, brother . . . 

SCAN. What! Did you not come out of Valere's house? 
Have you not been declaring your passion this very day ? 
And have you not been for a year past in love with him ? 

LEO. Who has been painting such pretty pictures of 
me ? Who has been at the trouble of inventing such 
falsehoods ? 


ISA. Sister, I ask you generously to pardon me, if, by 
the freedom I have taken, I have brought some scandal 
upon your name. The urgent pressure of a great neces- 
sity, suggested to me, some time ago, this disgraceful 

22 The original has contes bleus, literally "blue stories,'' because old 
tales, such as The Four Sons ofAymon, Fortunatus, Valentine and Orson 
were formerly sold, printed on coarse paper and with blue paper cover ; 
a kind of popular, but not political, "blue-books." 


stratagem. Your example condemns such an escapade ; 
but fortune treated us differently. (To Sganarelle). As 
for you, sir, I will not excuse myself to you. I serve you 
much more than I wrong you. Heaven did not design us 
for one another. As I found I was unworthy of your love, 
and undeserving of a heart like yours, I vastly preferred 
to see myself in another's hands. 

VAL. (To Sganarelle). For me, I esteem it my greatest 
glory and happiness to receive her, sir, from your hands. 

AR. Brother, you must take this matter quietly. Your 
own conduct is the cause of this. I can see it is your un- 
happy lot that no one will pity you, though they know 
you have been made a fool of. 

Lis. Upon my word, I am glad of this. This reward 
of his mistrust is a striking retribution. 

LEO. I do not know whether the trick ought to be com- 
mended ; but I am quite sure that I, at least, cannot blame 

ERG. His star condemns him to be a cuckold ; it is 
lucky for him he is only a retrospective one. 

SCAN. (Recovering from the stupor into which he had 
been plunged). No, I cannot get the better of my aston- 
ishment. This faithlessness perplexes my understanding. 
I think that Satan in person could be no worse than such 
a jade ! I could have sworn it was not in her. Unhappy 
he who trusts a woman after this ! The best of them are 
always full of mischief; they were made to damn the 
whole world. I renounce the treacherous sex for ever, and 
give them to the devil with all my heart ! 

ERG. Well said. 

AR. Let us all go to my house. Come, M. Valere, to- 
morrow we will try to appease his wrath. 

Lis. {To the audience). As for you, if you know any 
churlish husbands, by all means send them to school with 
us. 28 

28 This is the last time Moliere directly addressed the audience at the 
end of one of his plays ; in Sganarelle he did it for the first time. 






AUGUST lyTH, 1661. 


The Bores is a character-comedy ; but the peculiarities taken as the 
text of the play, instead of being confined to one or two of the leading 
personages, are exhibited in different forms by a succession of characters, 
introduced one after the other in rapid course, and disappearing after the 
brief performance of their r61es. We do not find an evolution of natural 
situations, proceeding from the harmonious conduct of two or three indi- 
viduals, but rather a disjointed series of tableaux little more than a 
collection of monologues strung together on a weak thread of explana- 
tory comments, enunciated by an unwilling listener. 

The method is less artistic, if not less natural ; less productive of situa- 
tions, if capable of greater variety of illustrations. The circumstances 
under which Moliere undertook to compose the play explain his resort to 
the weaker manner of analysis. The Superintendent-General of finance, 1 
Nicolas Fouquet, desiring to entertain the King, Queen, and court at his 
mansion of Vaux-le-Vicomte, asked for a comedy at the hands of the 
Palais- Royal company, who had discovered the secret of pleasing the 
Grand Monarque. Moliere had but a fortnight's notice ; and he was ex- 
pected, moreover, to accommodate his muse to various prescribed styles 
of entertainment. 

Fouquet wanted a cue for a dance by Beauchamp, for a picture by Le- 
brun, for stage devices by Torelli. Moli&re was equal to the emergency. 
Never, perhaps, was a literary work written to order so worthy of being 
preserved for future generations. Not only were the intermediate ballets 
made sufficiently elastic to give scope for the ingenuity of the poet's auxil- 
iaries, but the written scenes themselves were admirably contrived to dis- 
play all the varied talent of his troupe. 

The success of the piece on its first representation, which took place on 
the lyth of August, 1661, was unequivocal ; and the King summoned the 
author before him in order personally to express his satisfaction. It is 
related that, the Marquis de Soyecourt passing by at the time, the King 
said to Moli&re, " There is an original character which you have not yet 
copied." The suggestion was enough. The result was that, at the next 

1 In Sir James Stephen's Lectures on the History of France, vol. ii. page 22, I 
find : " Still further to centralize the fiscal economy of France, Philippe le Bel cre- 
ated a new ministry. At the head of it he placed an officer of high rank, entitled 
the Superintendent-General of Finance, and, in subordination to him, he appointed 
other officers designated as Treasurers." 



representation, Dorante the hunter, a new bore, took his place in the 

Louis XIV. thought he had discovered in Moliere a convenient mouth- 
piece for his dislikes. The selfish king was no lover of the nobility, and 
was short-sighted enough not to perceive that the author's attacks on the 
nobles paved the way for doubts on the divine right of kings themselves. 
Hence he protected Moliere, and entrusted to him the care of writing 
plays for his entertainments ; the public did not, however, see The Bores 
until the 4th of November of the same year ; and then it met with great 

The bore is ubiquitous, on the stage as in everyday life. Horace painted 
him in his famous passage commencing Ibam forte via Sacra, and the 
French satirist, Regnier, has depicted him in his eighth satire. 

Moliere had no doubt seen the Italian farce, " Le Case svaliggiate 
ovveragli Interrompimenti dl Pantalone," which appears to have directly 
provided him with the thread of his comedy. This is the gist of it. A 
girl, courted by Pantaloon, gives him a rendezvous in order to escape 
from his importunities ; whilst a cunning knave sends across his path a 
medley of persons to delay his approach, and cause him to break his 
appointment. This delay, however, is about the only point of resem- 
blance between the Italian play and the French comedy. 

There are some passages in Scarron's Epttres chagrines addressed to 
the Marshal d'Albretand M. d'Elbene, from which our author must have 
derived a certain amount of inspiration ; for in these epistles the writer 
reviews the whole tribe of bores, in coarse but vigorous language. 

Moliere dedicated The Bores to Louis XIV. in the following words : 


I am adding one scene to the Comedy, and a man who dedicates a book is a spe- 
cies of Bore insupportable enough. Your Majesty is better acquainted with this 
than any person in the kingdom ; and this is not the first time that you have been 
exposed to the fury of Epistles Dedicatory. But though I follow the example of 
others, and put myself in the rank of those I have ridiculed ; I dare, however, as- 
sure Your Majesty, that what I have done in this case is not so much to present You 
a book, as to have the opportunity of returning You thanks for the success of this 
Comedy. I owe, Sire, that success, which exceeded my expectations, not only to 
the glorious approbation with which Your Majesty honoured this piece at first, and 
which attracted so powerfully that of all the world; but also to the order, which 
You gave me, to add a Bore, of which Yourself had the goodness to give me the 
idea, and which was proved by every one to be the finest part of the work. 2 I must 
confess, Sire, I never did any thing with such ease and readiness, as that part, where 
I had Your Majesty's commands to work. 

The pleasure I had in obeying them, was to me more than Apollo and all the 
Muses ; and by this I conceive what I should be able to execute in a complete 
Comedy, were I inspired by the same commands. Those who are bom in an ele- 
vated rank, may propose" to themselves the honour of serving Your Majesty in great 
Employments ; but, for my part, all the glory I can aspire to, is to amuse You. 3 

8 See Prefatory Memoir, page xxviii. ? 

8 In spite of all that has been said about Moliere's passionate fondness for his pro- 
fession, I imagine he must now and then have felt some slight, or suffered from some 
want of consideration. Hence perhaps the above sentence. Compare with this 
Shakespeare's hundred and eleventh sonnet : 

" Oh ! for my sake, do you with Fortune chide . 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, 
That did not better for my life provide 
Than public means which public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand ; 
And almost thence_ my nature is subdu'd 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand." 


The ambition of my wishes is confined to this ; and I think that, to contribute any 
thing to the diversion of her King, is, in some respects, not to be useless to France. 
Should I not succeed in this, it snail never be through want of zeal, or study ; but 
only through a hapless destiny, which often accompanies the best intentions, and 
which, to a certainty, would be a most sensible affliction to SIKE, Your MAJESTY'S 
most humble, most obedient, and most faithful Servant, 


In the eighth volume of the " Select Comedies of M. de Moliere, Lon- 
don, 1732," the play of The Bores is dedicated, under the name of The 
Impertinent!, to the Right Honourable the Lord Carteret, 4 in the follow- 
ing words : 


It is by Custom grown into a sort of Privilege for Writers, of whatsoever Class, 
to attack Persons of Rank and Merit by these kind of Addresses. We conceive a 
certain Charm in Great and Favourite Names, which sooths our Reader, and pre- 
possesses him in our Favour : We deem ourselves of Consequence, according to 
the Distinction of our Patron ; and come in for our Share in the Reputation he 
bears in the World. Hence it is, MY LORD, that Persons of the greatest Worth are 
most expos'd to these Insults. 

For however usual and convenient this may be to a Writer, it must be confess'd, 
MY LORD, it may be some degree of Persecution to a Patron ; Dedicators, as Mo- 
liere observes, being a Species of Impertinents , troublesome enough. Yet the 
Translator of this Piece hopes he may be rank'd among the more tolerable ones, in 
presuming to inscribe to Your LORDSHIP the Facheux of Molitre done into Eng- 
lish ; assuring himself that Your LORDSHIP will not think any thing this Author 
has writ unworthy of your Patronage; nor discourage even a weaker Attempt to 
make him more generally read and understood. 

Your LORDSHIP is well known, as an absolute Master, and generous Patron of 
Polite Letters ; of those Works especially which discover a Moral, as well as Ge- 
nius ; and by a delicate Raillery laugh men out of their Follies and Vices : could 
the Translator, therefore, of this Piece come anything near the Original, it were as- 
sured of your Acceptance. He will not dare to arrogate any thing to himself on 
this Head, before so good a Judge as Your LORDSHIP : He hopes, however, it will 
appear that, where he seems too superstitious a Follower of his Author, 'twas not 
because he could not have taken more Latitude, and have given more Spirit ; but 
to answer what he thinks the most essential part of a Translator, to lead the less 
knowing to the Letter ; and after better Acquaintance, Genius will bring them to 
the Spirit. 

The Translator knows your LORDSHIP, and 'Himself too well to attempt Your 
Character, even though he should think this a proper occasion : The Scholar the 

Genius the Statesman the Patriot the Man of Honour and Humanity. Were 

a Piece finish'd from these Out-lines, the whole World would agree in giving it 

But that requires a Hand the Person, who presents This, thinks it sufficient to 

be indulg'd the Honour of subscribing himself 

My LORD, your Lordship's most devoted, most obedient, humble servant, 


Thomas Shadwell, whom Dryden flagellates in his Mac-Flecknoe, and 
in the second part of Absalom and Achitophel, and whom Pope mentions 
in his Dunciad, wrote The Sullen Lovers, or the Impertinents, which was 
first performed in 1668 at the Duke of York's Theatre, by their Majesties' 
Servants. This play is a working up of The Bores and The Misanthrope ; 
with two scenes from The Forced Marriage, and a reminiscence from 
The Love-Tiff. It is dedicated to the " Thrice Noble, High and Puissant 

4 John, Lord Carteret, born 22d April, 1690, twice Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 
was Secretary of State and head of tne Ministry from February, 1742, until No- 
vember 23 . 1744 became Earl Granville that same year, on the death of his mother ; 
was president of the Council in 1751, and died in 1763. 


Prince William, Duke, Marquis, and Earl of Newcastle," because all Men, 
who pretend either to Sword or Pen, ought " to shelter themselves under 
Your Grace's Protection.'" Another reason Shadwell gives for this dedi- 
cation is in order " to rescue this (play) from the bloody Hands of the 
Criticks, who will not dare to use it roughly, when they see Your Grace's 
Name in the beginning." He also states, that " the first Hint I received 
was from the Report of a Play of Moliere's of three Acts, called Les 
Fascheux, upon which I wrote a great part of this before I read that." 
He borrowed, after reading it, the first scene in the second act, and Mo- 
liere's story of Piquet, which he translated into Backgammon, and says, 
" that he who makes a common practice of stealing other men's wit, would 
if he could with the same safety, steal anything else." Shadwell mentions, 
however, nothing of borrowing from The Misanthrope and The Forced 
Marriage. The preface was, besides political difference, the chief cause 
of the quarrel between Shadwell and Dryden ; for in it the former de- 
fends Ben Jonson against the latter, and mentions that " I have known 
some of late so insolent to say that Ben Jonson wrote his best playes 
without wit, imagining that all the wit playes consisted in bringing two 
persons upon the stage to break jest, and to bob one another, which they 
call repartie." The original edition of The Sullen Lovers is partly in blank 
verse; but, in the first collected edition of Shadwell's works, published 
by his son in 1720, it is printed in prose. Stanford, " a morose, melan- 
choly man, tormented beyond measure with the impertinence of people, 
and resolved to leave the world to be quit of them," is a combination of 
Alceste in The Misanthrope, and Eraste in The Bores ; Lovel, " an airy 
young gentleman, friend to Stanford, one that is pleased with, and laughs 
at, the impertinents; and that which is the other's torment, is his recrea- 
tion,'' is Philinte of The Misanthrope ; Emilia and Carolina appear to be 
Celimene and Eliante ; whilst Lady Vaine is an exaggerated Arsino6 of 
the same play. Sir Positive At-all, "a foolish knight that pretends to un- 
derstand everything in the world, and will suffer no man to understand 
anything in his Company, so foolishly positive, that he will never be con- 
vinced of an error, though never so gross," is a very good character, and 
an epitome of all the Bores into one. 

The prologue of The Sullen Lovers begins thus : 

" How popular are Poets now-a-days ! 
Who can more Men at their first summons raise, 
Than many a wealthy home-bred Gentleman, 
By all his Interest in his Country can. 
They raise their Friends ; but in one Day arise 
'Gainst one poor Poet all these Enemies." 


Never was any Dramatic performance so hurried as this; 
and it is a thing, I believe, quite new, to have a comedy 
planned, finished, got up, and played in a fortnight. I do not 
say this to boast of an impromptu, or to pretend to any repu- 
tation on that account : but only to prevent certain people, 
who might object that I have not introduced here all the 
species of Bores who are to be found. I know that the 
number of them is great, both at the Court and in the City, 
and that, without episodes, I might have composed a comedy 
of five acts and still have had matter to spare. But in the 
little time allowed me, it was impossible to execute any great 
design, or to study much the choice of my characters, or the 
disposition of my subject. I therefore confined myself to 
touching only upon a small number of Bores; and I took 
those which first presented themselves to my mind, and which 
I thought the best fitted for amusing the august personages 
before whom this play was to appear ; and, to unite all these 
things together speedily, I made use of the first plot I could 
find. It is not, at present, my intention to examine whether 
the whole might not have been better, and whether all those 
who were diverted with it laughed according to rule. The 
time may come when I may print my remarks upon the pieces 
I have written : and I do not despair letting the world see that, 
like a grand author, I can quote Aristotle and Horace. In 
expectation of this examination, which perhaps may never 
take place, I leave the decision of this affair to the multitude, 
and I look upon it as equally difficult to oppose a work which 
the public approves, as it is to defend one which it condemns. 
There is no one who does not know for what time of re- 
joicing the piece was composed; and lhat fete made so much 



noise, that it is not necessary to speak of it 6 but it will not be 
amiss to say a word or two of the ornaments which have been 
mixed with the Comedy. 

The design was also to give a ballet ; and as there was only 
a. small number of first-rate dancers, it was necessary to 
separate the entrees 6 of this ballet, and to interpolate them 
with the Acts of the Play, so that these intervals might give 
time to the same dancers to appear in different dresses ; also 
to avoid breaking the thread of the piece by these interludes, 
it was deemed advisable to weave the ballet in the best man- 
ner one could into the subject, and make but one thing of it 
and the play. But as the time was exceedingly short, and 
the whole was not entirely regulated by the same person, 
there may be found, perhaps, some parts of the ballet which 
do not enter so naturally into the play as others do. Be that 
as it may, this is a medley new upon our stage ; although one 
might find some authorities in antiquity : but as every one 
thought it agreeable, it may serve as a specimen for other 
things which may be concerted more at leisure. 

Immediately upon the curtain rising, one of the actors, 
whom you may suppose to be myself, appeared on the stage 
in an ordinary dress, and addressing himself to the King, 
with the look of a man surprised, made excuses in great dis- 
order, for being there alone, and wanting both time and actors 
to give his Majesty the diversion he seemed to expect; at the 
same time in the midst of twenty natural cascades, a large shell 
was disclosed, which every one saw : and the agreeable Naiad 
who appeared in it, advanced to the front of the stage, and 
with an heroic air pronounced the following verses which Mr. 
Pellison had made, and which served as a Prologue. 

6 The Bores, according to the Preface, planned, finished, got up, and 
played in a fortnight, was acted amidst other festivities, first at Vaux, the 
seat of Monsieur Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances, the I7th of Au- 
gust, 1661, in the presence of the King and the whole Court, with the 
exception of the Queen. Three weeks later Fouquet was arrested, and 
finally condemned to be shut up in prison, where he died in 1672. It was 
not till November, 1661, that The Bores was played in Paris. 

'See Prefatory Memoir, page xxx., note 12. 


( The Theatre represents a garden adorned with Termini and 
several fountains. A Naiad coming out of the water in a 

Mortals, from Grots profound I visit you, 
Gallia's great Monarch in these Scenes to view ; 
Shall Earth's wide Circuit, or the wider Seas, 
Produce some Novel Sight your Prince to please ; 
Speak He, or wish : to him nought can be hard, 
Whom as a living Miracle you all regard. 
Fertile in Miracles, his Reign demands 
Wonders at universal Nature's Hands, 
Sage, young, victorious, valiant, and august, 
Mild as severe, and powerful as he's just, 
His Passions, and his Foes alike to foil, 
And noblest Pleasures join to noblest Toil; 
His righteous Projects ne'er to misapply, 
Hear and see all, and act incessantly : 
He who can this, can all ; he needs but dare, 
And Heaven in nothing will refuse his Prayer. 
Let Lewis but command, these Bounds shall move. 
And trees grow vocal as Dodona's Grove. 
Ye Nymphs and Demi-Gods, whose Presence fills 
Their sacred Trunks, come forth ; so Lewis wills; 
To please him be our task ; I lead the way, 



Quit now your ancient Forms but for a Day, 
With borrow' d Shape cheat the Spectator's Eye, 
And to Theatric Art yourselves apply. 

{Several Dryads, accompanied by Fawns and Satyrs, come forth 
out of the Trees and Termini.} 

Hence Royal Cares, hence anxious Application, 
(His fav'rite Work) to bless a happy Nation : 
His lofty Mind permit him to unbend, 
And to a short Diversion condescend ; 
The Morn shall see him with redoubled Force, 
Resume the Burthen and pursue his Course, 
Give Force to Laws, his Royal Bounties share, 
Wisely prevent our Wishes with his Care. 
Contending Lands to Union firm dispose, 
And lose his own to fix the World's Repose. 
But now, let all conspire to ease the Pressure 
Of Royalty, by elegance of Pleasure. 
Impertinents, avant ; nor come in sight, 
Unless to give him more supreme Delight. 7 

( The Naiad brings -with her, for the Play, one part of the Per- 
sons she has summoned to appear, whilst the rest begin a 
Dance to the sound of Hautboys, accompanied by Violins. 

7 The Naiad was represented by Madeleine Bejart, even then good- 
looking, though she was more than forty years old. The verses are taken 
from the eighth volume of the " Select Comedies of M. de Moliere in 
French and English, London, 1732," and as fulsome as they well can be. 
The English translation, which is not mine, fairly represents the official 
nonsense of the original. 


ERASTE, in love with Orphise, 
DAMIS, guardian to Orphise. 




LA MONTAGNE, servant to Eraste. 
L'EpiNE, servant to Damis. 

ORPHISE, in love with Eraste. 



> female bores. 
'*} ) 

Scene. PARIS. 

8 Moliere himself played probably the parts of Lisandre the dancer, 
Alcandre the duellist, or Alcippe the gambler, and perhaps all three, with 
some slight changes in the dress. He also acted Caritides the pedant, and 
Dorante the lover of the chase. In the inventory taken after Moliere's 
death we find: "A dress for the Marquis of the Facheux, consisting in a 
pair of breeches very large, and fastened below with ribbands, (rhingrave), 
made of common silk, blue and gold-coloured stripes, with plenty of flesh- 
coloured and yellow trimmings, with Colbertine, a doublet of Colbertine 
cloth, trimmed with flame-coloured ribbands, silk stockings and garters.'' 
The dress of Caritides in the same play, "cloak and breeches of cloth, 
with picked trimmings, and a slashed doublet." Dorante's dress was pro- 
bably "a hunting-coat, sword and belt; the above-mentioned hunting- 
coat ornamented with fine silver lace, also a pair of stag-hunting gloves, 
and a pair of long stockings (bas a batter) of yellow cloth." The original 
inventory, given by M. Souli, has toile Colbertine, for " Colbertine cloth.'' 
I found this word in Webster's Dictionary described from The Fop's Dic- 
tionary ofl(x)O as "A lace resembling net-work, the fabric of Mons. Col- 
bert, superintendent of the French king's manufactures." In Congreve's 
TTie Way of the World, Lady Wishfort, quarrelling with her woman Foi- 
ble (Act v., Scene i], says to her, among other insults : " Go, hang out an 
old Frisoneer gorget, with a yard of yellow colberteen again !" 





ER. Good Heavens ! under what star am I born, to be 
perpetually worried by bores ? It seems that fate throws 
them in my way everywhere ; each day I discover some 
new specimen. But there is nothing to equal my bore of 
to-day. I thought I should never get rid of him ; a hun- 
dred times I cursed the harmless desire, which seized me 
at dinner time, to see the play, where, thinking to amuse 
myself, I unhappily was sorely punished for my sins. I 
must tell you how it happened, for I cannot yet think 
about it coolly. I was on the stage, 9 in a mood to listen 
to the piece which I had heard praised by so many. The 
actors began ; everyone kept silence ; when with a good 
deal of noise and in a ridiculous manner, a man with 
large rolls entered abruptly, crying out " Hulloa, there, 
a seat directly!" and, disturbing the audience with his 
uproar, interrupted the play in its finest passage. Heavens ! 
will Frenchmen, altho' so often corrected, never behave 
themselves like men of common-sense ? Must we, in a 
public theatre, show ourselves with our worst faults, and 
so confirm, by our foolish outbursts, what our neighbours 
everywhere say of us ? Thus I spoke ; and whilst I was 

It was the custom for young men of fashion to seat themselves upon 
the stage (see Vol. I., Prefatory Memoir, page 26, note 7). They 
often crowded it to such an extent, that it was difficult for the actors to 
move. This custom was abolished only in 1*759, when the Count de 
Lauraguais paid the comedians a considerable sum of money, on the con- 
dition of not allowing any stranger upon the stage. 


56 THE BORES. [ ACT ,. 

shrugging my shoulders, the actors attempted to continue 
their parts. But the man made a fresh disturbance in 
seating himself, and again crossing the stage with long 
strides, although he might have been quite comfortable at 
the wings, he planted his chair full in front, and, defying 
the audience by his broad back, hid the actors from three- 
fourths of the pit. A murmur arose, at which anyone 
else would have felt ashamed; but he, firm and resolute, 
took no notice of it, and would have remained just as he 
had placed himself, if, to my misfortune, he had not cast 
his eyes on me. " Ah, Marquis !" he said, taking a seat 
near me, " how dost thou do? Let me embrace thee." 
Immediately my face was covered with blushes that people 
should see I was acquainted with such a giddy fellow. I 
was but slightly known to him for all that : but so it is 
with these men, who assume an acquaintance on nothing, 
whose embraces we are obliged to endure when we meet 
them, and who are so familiar with us as to thou and thee 
. us. He began by asking me a hundred frivolous ques- 
tions, raising his voice higher than the actors. Everyone 
was cursing him; and in order to check him I said, "I 
should like to listen to the play." " Hast thou not seen 
it, Marquis ? Oh, on my soul, I think it very funny, and 
I am no fool in these matters. I know the canons of per- 
fection, and Corneille reads to me all that he writes." 
Thereupon he gave me a summary of the piece, informing 
me scene after scene of what was about to happen ; and 
when we came to any lines which he knew by heart, he 
recited them aloud before the actor could say them. It 
was in vain for me to resist ; he continued his recitations, 
and towards the end rose a good while before the rest. 
For these fashionable fellows, in order to behave gallantly, 
especially avoid listening to the conclusion. I thanked 
Heaven, and naturally thought that, with the comedy, my 
misery was ended. But as though this were too good to 
be expected, my gentleman fastened on me again, re- 
counted his exploits, his uncommon virtues, spoke of his 
horses, of his love-affairs, of his influence at court, and 
heartily offered me his services. I politely bowed my 
thanks, all the time devising some way of escape. But 
he, seeing me eager to depart, said, "Let us leave ; every- 


one is gone." And when we were outside, he prevented 
my going away, by saying, "Marquis, let us go to the 
Cours 10 to show my carriage. It is very well built, and 
more than one Duke and Peer has ordered a similar one 
from my coach-maker." I thanked him, and the better 
to get off, told him that I was about to give a little enter- 
tainment. "Ah, on my life, I shall join it, as one of your 
friends, and give the go-by to the Marshal, to whom I was 
engaged." "My banquet," I said, "is too slight for 
gentlemen of your rank." "Nay," he replied, "I am a 
man of no ceremony, and I go simply to have a chat with 
thee ; I vow, I am tired of grand entertainments." "But 
if you are expected, you will give offence, if you stay 
away. ' ' " Thou art joking, Marquis ! We all know each 
other; I pass my time with thee much more pleasantly." 
I was chiding myself, sad and perplexed at heart at the 
unlucky result of my excuse, and knew not what to do 
next to get rid of such a mortal annoyance, when a splen- 
didly built coach, crowded with footmen before and 
behind, stopped in front of us with a great clatter ; from 
which leaped forth a young man gorgeously dressed ; and 
my bore and he, hastening to embrace each other, sur- 
prised the passers-by with their furious encounter. Whilst 
both were plunged in these fits of civilities, I quietly made 
my exit without a word ; not before I had long groaned 
under such a martyrdom, cursing this bore whose obsti- 
nate persistence kept me from the appointment which 
had been made with me here. 

LA M. These annoyances are mingled with the pleasures 
of life. All goes not, sir, exactly as we wish it. Heaven 
wills that here below everyone should meet bores ; without 
that, men would be too happy. 

ER. But of all my bores the greatest is Damis, 
guardian of her whom I adore, who dashes every hope 
she raises, and has brought it to pass that she dares not 
see me in his presence. I fear I have already passed the 
hour agreed on ; it is in this walk that Orphise promised 
to be. 

10 The Cours is that part of the Champs-Elysees called le Cours-la- 
Reine ; because Maria de Medici, the wife of Henry IV., had trees 
planted there. As the theatre finished about seven o'clock in the even- 
ing, it was not too late to show a carriage. 

58 THE BORES. [ACT i. 

LA M. The time of an appointment has generally some 
latitude, and is not limited to a second. 

ER. True ; but I tremble ; my great passion makes out 
of nothing a crime against her whom I love. 

LA. M. If this perfect love, which you manifest so well, 
makes out of nothing a great crime against her whom you 
love; the pure flame which her heart feels for you on the 
other hand converts all your crimes into nothing. 

ER. But, in good earnest, do you believe that I am 
loved by her? 

LA M. What ! do you still doubt a love that has been 
tried ? 

ER. Ah, it is with difficulty that a heart that truly loves 
has complete confidence in such a matter. It fears to 
flatter itself; and, amidst its various cares, what it most 
wishes is what it least believes. But let us endeavour to 
discover the delightful creature. 

LA M. Sir, your necktie is loosened in front. 

ER. No matter. 

LA M. Let me adjust it, if you please. 

ER. Ugh, you are choking me, blockhead ; let it be 
as it is. 

LA M. Let me just comb . . . 

ER. Was there ever such stupidity ! You have almost 
taken off my ear with a tooth of the comb. 11 

LA M. Your rolls . . . 

ER. Leave them ; you are too particular. 

LA M. They are quite rumpled. 

ER. I wish them to be so. 

LA M. At least allow me, as a special favour, to brush 
your hat, which is covered with dust. 

ER. Brush, then, since it must be so. 

LA M. Will you wear it like that? 

ER. Good Heavens, make haste ! 

LA M. It would be a shame. 

ER. (After waiting}. That is enough. 

LA M. Have a little patience. 

11 The servants had always a comb about them to arrange the wigs of 
their masters, whilst the latter thought it fashionable to comb and arrange 
their hair in public (see The Pretentious Young Ladies). 


ER. He will be the death of me ! 

LA M. Where could you get all this dirt ? 

ER. Do you intend to keep that hat forever ? 

LA M. It is finished. 

ER. Give it me, then. 

LA M. {Letting the hat fall}. Ah ! 

ER. There it is on the ground. I am not much the 
better for all your brushing ! Plague take you ! 

LA M. Let me give it a couple of rubs to take off ... 

ER. You shall not. The deuce take every servant who 
dogs your heels, who wearies his master, and does nothing 
but annoy him by wanting to set himself up as indispen- 
sable ! 


{Orphise passes at the foot of the stage ; Alcidor holds her 


ER. But do I not see Orphise ? Yes, it is she who 
comes. Whither goeth she so fast, and what man is that 
who holds her hand ? (He bows to her as she passes, and 
she turns her head another way}. 


ER. What ! She sees me here before her, and she 
passes by, pretending not to know me ! What can I think ? 
What do you say ? Speak if you will. 

LA M. Sir, I say nothing, lest I bore you. 

ER. And so indeed you do, if you say nothing to me 
whilst I suffer such a cruel martyrdom. Give me some 
answer ; I am quite dejected. What am I to think ? Say, 
what do you think of it ? Tell me your opinion. 

LA M. Sir, I desire to hold my tongue, and not to set 
up for being indispensable. 

ER. Hang the impertinent fellow ! Go and follow them ; 
see what becomes of them, and do not quit them. 

LA M. (Returning). Shall I follow at a distance ? 

ER. Yes. 

LA M. {Returning). Without their seeing me, or let- 
ting it appear that I was sent after them? 

ER. No, you will do much better to let them know that 
you follow them by my express orders. 


[ACT i. 

LA M. (Returning). Shall I find you here? 
ER. Plague take you. I declare you are the biggest 
bore in the world ! 


Ah, how anxious I feel ; how I wish I had missed this 
fatal appointment ! I thought I should find everything 
favourable ; and, instead of that, my heart is tortured. 


Lis. I recognized you under these trees from a distance, 
dear Marquis; and I came to you at once. As one of my 
friends, I must sing you a certain air which I have made 
for a little Couranto, 12 which pleases all the connoisseurs 
at court, and to which more than a score have already 
written words. I have wealth, birth, a tolerable employ- 
ment, and am of some consequence in France; but I 
would not have failed, for all I am worth, to compose this 
air which I am going to let you hear. (He tries his voice'}. 
La, la; hum, hum; listen attentively, I beg. (He sings 
an air of a Couranto). Is it not fine? 

ER. Ah! 

Lis. This close is pretty. (He sings the close over again 
four or five times successively). How do you like it? 

ER. Very fine, indeed. 

Lis. The steps which I have arranged are no less pleas- 
ing, and the figure in particular is wonderfully graceful. 
(He sings the words, talks, and dances at the same time ; 
and makes Eraste perform the lady 1 s steps). Stay, the gen- 
man crosses thus; then the lady crosses again: together: 
then they separate, and the lady comes there. Do you 
observe that little touch of a faint? This fleuret? 18 These 
coupes 14 running after the fair one. Back to back: face 
to face, pressing up close to her. (After finishing). What 
do you think of it, Marquis? 

ER. All those steps are fine. 

12 See Vol. I., page 164, note 14. 

13 A fleuret was an old step in dancing formed of two half coupe'es 
and two steps on the point of the toes. 

14 A coup is a movement in dancing, when one leg is a little bent, and 
raised from the ground, and with the other a motion is made forward. 



Lis. For my part, I would not give a fig for your ballet- 

ER. Evidently. 

Lis. And the steps then ? 

ER. Are wonderful in every particular. 

Lis. Shall I teach you them, for friendship's sake? 

ER. To tell the truth, just now I am somewhat dis- 
turbed . . . 

Lis. Well, then, it shall be when you please. If I had 
those new words about me, we would read them together, 
and see which were the prettiest. 

ER. Another time. 

Lis. Farewell. My dearest Baptiste 15 has not seen my 
Couranto ; I am going to look for him. We always agree 
about the tunes ; I shall ask him to score it. 

(Eocit, still singing. 


Heavens ! must we be compelled daily to endure a hun- 
dred fools, because they are men of rank, and must we, 
in our politeness, demean ourselves so often to applaud, 
when they annoy us ? 


LA M. Sir, Orphise is alone, and is coming this way. 

ER. Ah, I feel myself greatly disturbed ! I still love 
the cruel fair one, and my reason bids me hate her. 

LA M. Sir, your reason knows not what it would be at, 
nor yet what power a mistress has over a man's heart. 
Whatever just cause we may have to be angry with a fair 
lady, she can set many things to rights by a single word. 

ER. Alas, I must confess it; the sight of her inspires 
me with respect instead of with anger. 

ORPH. Your countenance seems to me anything but 
cheerful. Can it be my presence, Eraste, which annoys 

16 Jean Baptiste Lulli had been appointed, in the month of May of 1661, 
the same year that The Bores was first played, Surintendant et Compositeur 
dt la musique de la chambre du Jfoi. 


you? What is the matter? What is amiss? What makes 
you heave those sighs at my appearance? 

ER. Alas ! can you ask me, cruel one, what makes me 
so sad, and what will kill me? Is it not malicious to feign 
ignorance of what you have done to me? The gentleman 
whose conversation made you pass me just now . . . 

ORPH. (Laughing). Does that disturb you? 

ER. Do, cruel one, anew insult my misfortune. Cer- 
tainly, it ill becomes you to jeer at my grief, and, by 
outraging my feelings, ungrateful woman, to take advan- 
tage of my weakness for you. 

ORPH. I really must laugh, and declare that you are 
very silly to trouble yourself thus. The man of whom 
you speak, far from being able to please me, is a bore of 
whom I have succeeded in ridding myself; one of those 
troublesome and officious fools who will not suffer a lady 
to be anywhere alone, but come up at once, with soft 
speech, offering you a hand against which one rebels. I 
pretended to be going away, in order to hide my inten- 
tion, and he gave me his hand as far as my coach. I soon 
got rid of him in that way, and returned by another gate 
to come to you. 

ER. Orphise, can I believe what you say ? And is your 
heart really true to me? 

ORPH. You are most kind to speak thus, when I justify 
myself against your frivolous complaints. I am still won- 
derfully simple, and my foolish kindness . . . 

ER. Ah! too severe beauty, do not be angry. Being 
under your sway, I will implicitly believe whatever you 
are kind enough to tell me. Deceive your hapless lover 
if you will ; I shall respect you to the last gasp. Abuse 
my love, refuse me yours, show me another lover triumph- 
ant ; yes, I will endure everything for your divine charms. 
I shall die, but even then I will not complain. 

ORPH. As such sentiments rule your heart, I shall know, 
on my side . . . 


ALC. (To Orphise). Marquis, one word. Madame, I 
pray you to pardon me, if I am indiscreet in venturing, 
before you, to speak with him privately. {Exit Orphise. 



ALC. I have a difficulty, Marquis, in making my re- 
quest ; but a fellow has just insulted me, and I earnestly 
wish, not to be behind-hand with him, that you would at 
once go and carry him a challenge from me. You know 
that in a like case I should joyfully repay you in the same 

ER. (After a brief silence). I have no desire to boast, 
but I was a soldier before I was a courtier. I served four- 
teen years, and I think I may fairly refrain from such a 
step with propriety, not fearing that the refusal of my 
sword can be imputed to cowardice. A duel puts one in 
an awkward light, and our King is not the mere shadow 
of a monarch. He knows how to make the highest in the 
state obey him, and I think that he acts like a wise Prince. 
When he needs my service, I have courage enough to per- 
form it; but I have none to displease him. His com- 
mands are a supreme law to me ; seek some one else to 
disobey him. I speak to you, Viscount, with entire 
frankness; in every other matter I am at your service. 


ER. To the deuce with these bores, fifty times over ! 
Where, now, has my beloved gone to? 

LA M. I know not. 

ER. Go and search everywhere till you find her. I 
shall await you in this walk. 

First Entry. 

Players at Mall, crying out "Ware! " compel Eraste to 
draw back. After the players at Mall have finished, 
Eraste returns to wait for Orphise. 

16 During his long reign, Louis XIV. tried to put a stop to duelling ; 
and, though he did not wholly succeed, he prevented the seconds from 
participating in the fight, a custom very general before his rule, and 
to which Eraste alludes in saying that he does not " fear that the re- 
fusal of his (my) sword can be imputed to cowardice." 

64 THE BORES. [ACT 11. 

Second Entry. 

Inquisitive folk advance, turning round him to see who 
he is, and cause him again to retire for a little while. 

SCENE I. ERASTE, alone. 

Are the bores gone at last ? I think they rain here on 
every side. The more I flee from them, the more I light 
on them ; and to add to my uneasiness, I cannot find her 
whom I wish to find. The thunder and rain have soon 
passed over, and have not dispersed the fashionable com- 
pany. Would to Heaven that those gifts which it 
showered upon us, had driven away all the people who 
weary me ! The sun sinks fast ; I am surprised that my 
servant has not yet returned. 


ALC. Good day to you. 

ER. (Aside). How now ! Is my passion always to be 
turned aside? 

ALC. Console me, Marquis, in respect of a wonderful 
game of piquet which I lost yesterday to a certain Saint- 
Bouvain, to whom I could have given fifteen points and 
the deal. It was a desperate blow, which has been too 
much for me since yesterday, and would make me wish all 
players at the deuce ; a blow, I assure you, enough to make 
me hang myself in public. I wanted only two tricks, 
whilst the other wanted a piquet. I dealt, he takes six, 
and asks for another deal. I, having a little of everything, 
refuse. I had the ace of clubs (fancy my bad luck ! ) the 
ace, king, knave, ten and eight of hearts, and as I wanted 
to make the point, threw away king and queen of dia- 
monds, ten and queen of spades. I had five hearts in 
hand, and took up the queen, which just made me a high 
sequence of five. But my gentleman, to my extreme sur- 
prise, lays down on the table a sequence of six low dia- 
monds, together with the ace. I had thrown away king 
and queen of the same colour. But as he wanted a piquet, 
I got the better of my fear, and was confident at least of 


making two tricks. Besides the seven diamonds he had four 
spades, and playing the smallest of them, put me in the 
predicament of not knowing which of my two aces to 
keep. I threw away, rightly as I thought, the ace of 
hearts ; but he had discarded four clubs, and I found my- 
self made Capot by a six of hearts, unable, from sheer 
vexation, to say a single word. 17 By Heaven, account to 
me for this frightful piece of luck. Could it be credited, 
without having seen it ? 18 

ER. It is in play that luck is mostly seen. 

ALC. 'Sdeath, you shall judge for yourself if I am wrong, 
and if it is without cause that this accident enrages me. 
For here are our two hands, which I carry about me on 
purpose. Stay, here is my hand, as I told you ; and here 

ER. I understood everything from your description, and 
admit that you have a good cause to be enraged. But I 
must leave you on certain business. Farewell. But take 
comfort in your misfortune. 

ALC. Who ; I ? I shall always have that luck on my 
mind ; it is worse than a thunderbolt to me. I mean to 

1T In the seventeenth century, piquet was not played with thirty-two, 
but with thirty-six, cards ; the sixes, which are now thrown away, re- 
mained then in the pack. Every player received twelve cards, and twelve 
remained on the table. He who had to play first could throw away seven 
or eight cards, the dealer four or five, and both might take fresh ones from 
those that were on the table. A trick counted only when taken with one 
of the court-cards, or a ten. 

Saint-Bouvain, after having taken up his cards, had in hand six small 
diamonds with the ace, which counted 7, a sequence of six diamonds from 
the six to the knave counted 16, thus together 23, before he began to play. 
With his seven diamonds he made seven tricks, but only counted 3, 
for those made by the ace, knave, and ten ; this gave him 26. Besides his 
seven diamonds he had four spades, most likely the ace, king, knave, and 
a little one, and a six of hearts ; though he made all the tricks he only 
counted 3, which gave him 29. But as Alcippe had not made a single 
trick, he was capot, which gave Saint-Bouvain 40 ; this with the 29 he made 
before, brought the total up to 69. As the latter only wanted a piquet, 
that is 60, which is when a player makes thirty in a game, to which an 
additional thirty are then added, Saint-Bouvain won the game. Alcippe 
does not, however, state what other cards he had in his hand at the mo- 
ment the play began besides the ace of clubs and a high sequence of five 
hearts, as well as the eight of the same colour. 

18 Compare with Moliere's description of the game of piquet Pope's, 
poetical history of the game of Ombre in the third Canto of The Rape of 
the Lock. 


shew it to all the world. (He retires and on the point of 
returning, says meditatively] A six of hearts ! two points. 
ER. Where in the world are we? Go where we will, 
we see nothing but fools. 


ER. Hah ! how long you have been, and how you have 
made me suffer. 

LA M. Sir, I could not make greater haste. 

ER. But at length do you bring me some news? 

LA M. Doubtless; and by express command, from her 
you love, I have something to tell you. 

ER. What ? Already my heart yearns for the message. 
Speak ! 

LA M. Do you wish to know what it is? 

ER. Yes ; speak quickly. 

LA M. Sir, pray wait. I .have almost run myself out 
of breath. 

ER. Do you find any pleasure in keeping me in sus- 
pense ? 

LA M. Since you wish to know at once the orders 
which I have received from this charming person, I will 
tell you . . . Upon my word, without boasting of my 
zeal, I went a great way to find the lady ; and if ... 

ER. Hang your digressions ! 

LA M. Fie ! you should somewhat moderate your pas- 
sion; and Seneca . . . 

ER. Seneca is a fool in your mouth, since he tells me 
nothing of all that concerns me. Tell me your message 
at once. 

LA M. To satisfy you, Orphise ... An insect has got 
among your hair. 

ER. Let it alone. 

LA M. This lovely one sends you word . . . 

ER. What? 

LA M. Guess. 

ER. Are you aware that I am in no laughing mood ? 

LA M. Her message is, that you are to remain in this 
place, that in a short time you shall see her here, when 
she has got rid of some country-ladies, who greatly bore 
all people at court. 


ER. Let us then stay in the place she has selected. 
But since this message affords me some leisure, let me 
muse a little. (Exit La Montagne). I propose to write 
for her some verses to an air which I know she likes. 

(He walks up and down the stage in a reverie. 

SCENE IV. ORANTE, CLIMENE, ERASTE (at the side of the 
stage, unseen?) 

OR. Everyone will be of my opinion. 

CL. Do you think you will carry your point by obsti- 

OR. I think my reasons better than yours. 

CL. I wish some one could hear both. 

OR. I see a gentleman here who is not ignorant ; he 
will be able to judge of our dispute. Marquis, a word, I 
beg of you. Allow us to ask you to decide in a quarrel 
between us two; we had a discussion arising from our 
different opinions, as to what may distinguish the most 
perfect lovers. 

ER. That is a question difficult to settle; you had best 
look for a more skilful judge. 

OR. No : you speak to no purpose. Your wit is much 
commended; and we know you. We know that every- 
one, with justice, gives you the character of a . . . 

ER. Oh, I beseech you . . . 

OR. In a word, you shall be our umpire, and you must 
spare us a couple of minutes. 

CL. ( To Orante). Now you are retaining one who must 
condemn you : for, to be brief, if what I venture to hold 
be true, this gentleman will give the victory to my argu- 

ER. (Aside). Would that I could get hold of any rascal 
to invent something to get me off ! 

OR. (To Climene). For my part, I am too much assured 
of his sense to fear that he will decide against me. ( To 
Erastc). Well, this great contest which rages between us 
is to know whether a lover should be jealous. 

CL. Or, the better to explain my opinion and yours, 
which ought to please most, a jealous man or one that is 
not so? 

OR. For my part, I am clearly for the last. 

68 THE BORES. [ACT 11. 

CL. As for me, I stand up for the first. 

OR. I believe that our heart must declare for him who 
best displays his respect. 

CL. And I, that, if our sentiments are to be shewn, it 
ought to be for him who makes his love most apparent. 

OR. Yes ; but we perceive the ardour of a lover much 
better through respect than through jealousy. 

CL. It is my opinion that he who is attached to us, loves 
us the more that he shows himself jealous? 

OR. Fie, Climene, do not call lovers those men whose 
love is like hatred, and who, instead of shqwing their re- 
spect and their ardour, give themselves no thought save 
how to become wearisome; whose minds, being ever 
prompted by some gloomy passion, seek to make a crime 
out of the slightest actions, are too blind to believe them 
innocent, and demand an explanation for a glance; who, 
if we seem a little sad, at once complain that their pre- 
sence is the cause of it, and when the least joy sparkles in 
our eyes, will have their rivals to be at the bottom of it ; 
who, in short, assuming a right because they are greatly in 
love, never speak to us save to pick a quarrel, dare to for- 
bid anyone to approach us, and become the tyrants of their 
very conquerors. As for me, I want lovers to be respect- 
ful ; their submission is a sure proof of our sway. 

CL. Fie, do not call those men true lovers who are ne- 
ver violent in their passion ; those lukewarm gallants, whose 
tranquil hearts already think everything quite sure, have 
no fear of losing us, and overweeningly suffer their love to 
slumber day by day, are on good terms with their rivals, 
and leave a free field for their perseverance. So sedate a 
love incites my anger; to be without jealousy is to love 
coldly. I would that a lover, in order to prove his flame, 
should have his mind shaken by eternal suspicions, and, by 
sudden outbursts, show clearly the value he sets upon her 
to whose hand he aspires. Then his restlessness is ap- 
plauded ; and, if he sometimes treats us a little roughly, 
the pleasure of seeing him, penitent at our feet, to excuse 
himself for the outbreak of which he has been guilty, his 
tears, his despair at having been capable of displeasing us, 
are a charm to soothe all our anger. 

OR. If much violence is necessary to please you, I know 

SCENE vii.] THE BORES. 69 

who would satisfy you; I am acquainted with several men 
in Paris who love well enough to beat their fair ones 

CL. If to please you, there must never be jealousy, I 
know several men just suited to you; lovers of such en- 
during mood that they would see you in the arms of thirty 
people without being concerned about it. 

OR. And now you must, by your sentence, declare 
whose love appears to you preferable. 

{Orphise appears at the back of the stage, and 
sees Eraste between Orante and Climene). 

ER. Since I cannot avoid giving judgment, I mean to 
satisfy you both at once ; and, in order, not to blame that 
which is pleasing in your eyes, the jealous man loves more, 
but the other loves wisely. 

CL. The judgment is very judicious ; but . . . 

ER. It is enough. 'I have finished. After what I have 
said permit me to leave you. 


ER. (Seeing Orphise, and going to meet her). How 
long you have been, Madam, and how I suffer . . . 

ORPH. Nay, nay, do not leave such a pleasant conversa- 
tion. You are wrong to blame me for having arrived too 
late. {Pointing to Orante and Climene, who have just 
left}. You had wherewithal to get on without me. 

ER. Will you be angry with me without reason, and re- 
proach me with what I am made to surfer ? Oh, I beseech 
you, stay . . . 

ORPH. Leave me, I beg, and hasten to rejoin your com- 


Heaven ! must bores of both sexes conspire this day to 
frustrate my dearest wishes ? But let me follow her in 
spite of her resistance, and make my innocence clear in 
her eyes. 


DOR. Ah, Marquis, continually we find tedious people 
interrupting the course of our pleasures ! You see me 


enraged on account of a splendid hunt, which a booby 
... It is a story I must relate to you. 

ER. I am looking for some one, and cannot stay. 

DOR. (Retaining him). Egad, I shall tell it you as we 
go along. We were a well selected company who met 
yesterday to hunt a stag ; on purpose we went to sleep on 
the ground itself that is, my dear sir, far away in the 
forest. As the chase is my greatest pleasure, I wished, to 
do the thing well, to go to the wood myself; we decided 
to concentrate our efforts upon a stag which every one 
said was seven years old. 19 But my own opinion was 
though I did not stop to observe the marks that it was 
only a stag of the second year. 20 We had separated, as 
was necessary, into different parties, and were hastily 
breakfasting on some new-laid eggs, when a regular 
country-gentleman, with a long sword, proudly mounted 
on his brood-mare, which he honoured with the name of 
his good mare, came up to pay us an awkward compli- 
ment, presenting to us at the same time, to increase our 
vexation, a great booby of a son, as stupid as his father. 
He styled himself a great sportsman, and begged that he 
might have the pleasure of accompanying us. Heaven 
preserve every sensible sportsman, when hunting, from a 
fellow who carries a dog's horn, which sounds when it 
ought not ; from those gentry who, followed by ten 
mangy dogs, call them ' ' my pack, ' ' and play the part of 
wonderful hunters. His request granted, and his know- 
ledge commended, we all of us started the deer, 21 within 
thrice the length of the leash, tally-ho ! the dogs were put 
on the track of the stag. I encouraged them, and blew a 
loud blast. My stag emerged from the wood, and crossed 
a pretty wide plain, the dogs after him, but in such good 
order that you could have covered them all with one 
cloak. He made for the forest. Then we slipped the old 
pack upon him ; I quickly brought out my sorrel-horse. 
You have seen him ? 

19 The original expression is ctrf dix-corps ; this, according to the 
dictionnaire de chaise, is a seven years' old animal. 

10 The technical term is: ''a knobbler;" in French, cerf h. sa sec- 
onde tete. 

21 The original has frapper d nos brisees; brisees means ''blinks." 
According to Dr. Ash's Dictionary, 1775, " Blinks are the boughs or 
branches thrown in the way of a deer to stop its course." 


ER. I think not. 

DOR. Not seen him? The animal is as good as he is 
beautiful; I bought him some days ago from Gaveau. 22 I 
leave you to think whether that dealer, who has such a 
respect for me, would deceive me in such a matter ; I am 
satisfied with the horse. He never indeed sold a better, 
or a better-shaped one. The head of a barb, with a clear 
star ; the neck of a swan, slender, and very straight ; no 
more shoulder than a hare; short-jointed, and full of vi- 
vacity in his motion. Such feet by Heaven ! such feet ! 
double-haunched : to tell you the truth, it was I alone 
who found the way to break him in. Gaveau's Little John 
never mounted him without trembling, though he did his 
best to look unconcerned. A back that beats any horse's 
for breadth; and legs ! O ye Heavens ! a In short, he is a 
marvel; believe me, I have refused a hundred pistoles 
for him, with one of the horses destined for the King to 
boot. I then mounted, and was in high spirits to see 
some of the hounds coursing over the plain to get the 
better of the deer. I pressed on, and found myself in a 
by-thicket at the heels of the dogs, with none else but 
Drecar. 24 There for an hour our stag was at bay. Upon 
this, I cheered on the dogs, and made a terrible row. In 
short, no hunter was ever more delighted ! I alone started 
him again; and all was going on swimmingly, when a 
young stag joined ours. Some of my dogs left the others. 
Marquis, I saw them, as you may suppose, follow with 
hesitation, and Finaut was at a loss. But he suddenly 
turned, which delighted me very much, and drew the 
dogs the right way, whilst I sounded horn and hallooed, 
"Finaut! Finaut!" I again with pleasure discovered 
the track of the deer by a mole-hill, and blew away at my 
leisure. A few dogs ran back to me, when, as ill-luck 
would have it, the young stag came over to our country 
bumpkin. My blunderer began blowing like mad, and 
bellowed aloud, "Tallyho! tallyho! tallyho!" All my 

M A well-known horse- dealer in Moliere's time. 

a Compare the description of the horse given by the Dauphin in 
Shakespeare's Henry V., Act iii., Scene 6, and also that of the " round 
hoof'd, short jointed "jennet in the Venus and Adonis of the same author. 

M A famous huntsman in Moliere's time. 

72 THE BORES. [ACT u. 

dogs left me, and made for my booby. I hastened there, 
and found the track again on the highroad. But, my dear 
fellow, I had scarcely cast my eyes on the ground, when 
I discovered it was the other animal, and was very much 
annoyed at it. It was in vain to point out to the country 
fellow the difference between the print of my stag's hoof 
and his. He still maintained, like an ignorant sportsman, 
that this was the pack's stag; and by this disagreement he 
gave the dogs time to get a great way off. I was in a 
rage, and, heartily cursing the fellow, I 'spurred my horse 
up hill and down dale, and brushed through boughs as 
thick as my arm. I brought back my dogs to my first 
scent, who set off, to my great joy, in search of our stag, 
as though he were in full view. They started him again ; 
but, did ever such an accident happen? To tell you 
the truth, Marquis, it floored me. Our stag, newly started, 
passed our bumpkin, who, thinking to show what an ad- 
mirable sportsman he was, shot him just in the forehead 
with a horse-pistol that he had brought with him, and 
cried out to me from a distance, "Ah! I've brought the 
beast down!" Good Heavens! did any one ever hear 
of pistols in stag-hunting? As for me, when I came to 
the spot, I found the whole affair so odd, that I put spurs 
to my horse in a rage, and returned home at a gallop, 
without saying a single word to that ignorant fool. 

ER. You could not have done better ; your prudence 
was admirable. That is how we must get rid of bores. 

DOR. When you like, we will go somewhere where we 
need not dread country-hunters. 

ER. (Alone}. Very well. I think I shall lose patience 
in the end. Let me make all haste, and try to excuse 


first Entry. 

Bowlers stop Eraste to measure a distance about which 
there is a dispute. He gets clear of them with difficulty, 
and leaves them to dance a measure, composed of all the 
postures usual to that game. 


Second Entry. 

Little boys with slings enter and interrupt them, who 
are in their turn driven out by 

Third Entry. 

Cobblers, men and women, their fathers, and others, 
who are also driven out in their turn. 

Fourth Entry. 
A gardener, who dances alone, and then retires. 



ER. It is true that on the one hand my efforts have suc- 
ceeded; the object of my love is at length appeased. 
But on the other hand I am wearied, and the cruel stars 
have persecuted my passion with double fury. Yes, 
Damis, her guardian, the worst of bores, is again hostile 
to my tenderest desires, has forbidden me to see his lovely 
niece, and wishes to provide her to-morrow with another 
husband. Yet Orphise, in spite of his refusal, deigns to 
grant me this evening a favour ; I have prevailed upon the 
fair one to suffer me to see her in her own house, in pri- 
vate. Love prefers above all secret favours ; it finds a 
pleasure in the obstacle which it masters ; the slightest 
conversation with the beloved beauty becomes, when it is 
forbidden, a supreme favour. I am going to the rendez- 
vous ; it is almost the hour ; since I wish to be there rather 
before than after my time. 

LA M. Shall I follow you ? 

ER. No. I fear least you should make me known to 
certain suspicious persons. 

LA M. But ... 

ER. I do not desire it. 

LA M. I must obey you. But at least, if at a dis- 
tance . . . 

ER. For the twentieth time will you hold your tongue ? 
And will you never give up this practice of perpetually 
making yourself a troublesome servant ? 



CAR. Sir, it is an unseasonable time to do myself the 
honour of waiting upon you ; morning would be more fit 
for performing such a duty, but it is not very easy to meet 
you, for you are always asleep, or in town. At least your 
servants so assure me. I have chosen this opportunity to 
see you. And yet this is a great happiness with which 
fortune favours me, for a couple of moments later I should 
have missed you. 

ER. Sir, do you desire something of me ? 

CAR. I acquit myself, sir, of what I owe you ; and come 
to you . . . Excuse the boldness which inspires me, 
if ... 

ER. Without so much ceremony, what have you to say 
to me? 

CAR. As the rank, wit, and generosity which every one 
extols in you . . . 

ER. Yes, I am very much extolled. Never mind that, 

CAR. Sir, it is a vast difficulty when a man has to in- 
troduce himself; we should always be presented to the 
great by people who commend us in words, whose voice, 
being listened to, delivers with authority what may cause 
our slender merit to be known. In short, I could have 
wished that some persons well-informed could have told 
you, sir, what I am . . . 

ER. I see sufficiently, sir, what you are. Your manner 
of accosting me makes that clear. 

CAR. Yes, I am a man of learning charmed by your 
worth ; not one of those learned men whose name ends 
simply in us. Nothing is so common as a name with a 
Latin termination. Those we dress in Greek have a much 
superior look ; and in order to have one ending in e s, I 
call myself Mr. Caritides. 

ER. Caritides be it. What have you to say ? 

CAR. I wish, sir, to read you a petition, which I venture 
to beg of you to present to the King, as your position 
enables you to do. 

ER. Why, sir, you can present it yourself! . . . 

CAR. It is true that the King grants that supreme favour; 


but, from the very excess of his rare kindness, so many 
villainous petitions, sir, are presented that they choke the 
good ones ; the hope I entertain is that mine should be 
presented when his Majesty is alone. 

ER. Well, you can do it, and choose your own time. 

CAR. Ah, sir, the door-keepers are such terrible fellows ! 
They treat men of learning like snobbs and butts ; I can 
never get beyond the guard-room. The ill-treatment I am 
compelled to suffer would make me withdraw from court 
for ever, if I had not conceived the certain hope that you 
will be my Mecaenas with the King. Yes, your influence 
is to me a certain means . . . 

ER. Well, then, give it me ; I will present it. 

CAR. Here it is. But at least, hear it read. 

ER. No ... 

CAR. That you may be acquainted with it, sir, I beg. 

" Sire, Your most humble, most obedient, most faithful 
and most learned subject and servant, Caritides, a French- 
man by birth, a Greek"* by profession, having considered the 
great and notable abuses which are perpetrated in the in- 
scriptions on the signs of houses, shops, taverns, bowling- 
alleys, and other places in your good city of Paris ; inas- 
much as certain ignorant composers of the said inscriptions 
subvert, by a barbarous, pernicious and hateful spelling, 
every kind of sense and reason, without any regard for ety- 
mology, analogy, energy or allegory whatsoever, to the great 
scandal of the republic of letters, and of the French na- 
tion, -which is degraded and dishonoured, by the said abuses 
and gross faults, in the eyes of strangers, and notably of the 
Germans, curious readers and inspectors of the said inscrip- 
tions , . . " 

ER. This petition is very long, and may very likely 
weary . . . 

25 The original has Grec, a Greek. Can Caritides have wished to allude 
to the grcBca fides f Grec means also a cheat at cards, and is said to owe 
its name to a certain Apoulos, a knight of Greek origin, who was caught 
in the very act of cheating at play in the latter days of Louis XIV.'s reign, 
even in the palace of the grand monarque. 

26 This is an allusion, either to the reputation of the Germans as great 
drinkers, or as learned decipherers of all kinds of inscriptions. 

76 THE BORES. [ACT m. 

CAR. Ah, sir, not a word could be cut out. 

ER. Finish quickly. 

CAR. (Continuing). " Humbly petitions your Majesty to 
constitute, for the good of his state and the glory of his realm, 
an office of controller, supervisor, corrector, reviser and 
restorer in general of the said inscriptions; and with this 
office to honour your suppliant, as well in consideration of his 
rare and eminent erudition, as of the great and signal services 
which he has rendered to the state and to your Majesty, by 
making the anagram of your said Majesty in French, Latin, 
Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldean, Arabic . . . 

ER. {Interrupting him). Very good. Give it me quickly 
and retire : it shall be seen by the King ; the thing is as 
good as done. 

CAR. Alas ! sir, to show my petition is everything. If 
the King but see it, I am sure of my point ; for as his jus- 
tice is great in all things, he will never be able to refuse 
my prayer. For the rest, to raise your fame to the skies, 
give me your name and surname in writing, and I will 
make a poem, in which the first letters of your name shall 
appear at both ends of the lines, and in each half mea- 

ER. Yes, you shall have it to-morrow, Mr. Caritides. 
(Alone) Upon my word, such learned men are perfect 
asses. Another time I should have heartily laughed at 
his folly. 


ORM. Though a matter of great consequence brings me 
here, I wished that man to leave before speaking to you. 

ER. Very well. But make haste; for I wish to be 

ORM. I almost fancy that the man who has just left you 
has vastly annoyed you, sir, by his visit. He is a trouble- 
some old man whose mind is not quite right, and for whom 
I have always some excuse ready to get rid of him. On 
the Mall, 27 in the Luxembourg, 28 and in the Tuileries he 

2J The Mall was a promenade in Paris, shaded by trees, near the 

88 The Luxembourg was in Moliere's time the most fashionable pro- 
menade of Paris. 


wearies people with his fancies ; men like you should avoid 
the conversation of all those good-for-nothing pedants. 
For my part I have no fear of troubling you, since I am 
come, sir, to make your fortune. 

ER. (Aside}. This is some alchymist : one of those crea- 
tures who have nothing, and are always promising you 
ever so much riches. (Aloud}. Have you discovered that 
blessed stone, sir, which alone can enrich all the kings of 
the earth? 

ORM. Aha! what a funny idea! Heaven forbid, sir, 
that I should be one of those fools. I do not foster idle 
dreams; I bring you here sound words of advice which I 
would communicate, through you, to the King, and which 
I always carry about me, sealed up. None of those silly 
plans and vain chimeras which are dinned in the ears of 
our superintendents; 29 none of your beggarly schemes 
which rise to no more than twenty or thirty millions ; but 
one which, at the lowest reckoning, will give the King a 
round four hundred millions yearly, with ease, without 
risk or suspicion, without oppressing the nation in any 
way. In short, it is a scheme for an inconceivable profit, 
which will be found feasible at the first explanation. Yes, 
if only through you I can be encouraged . . . 

ER. Well, we will talk of it. I am rather in a hurry. 

ORM. If you will promise to keep it secret, I will unfold 
to you this important scheme. 

ER. No, no ; I do not wish to know your secret. 

ORM. Sir, I believe you are too discreet to divulge it, 
and I wish to communicate it to you frankly, in two 
words. I must see that none can hear us. (After seeing 
that no one is listening, he approaches Eraste 1 s ear). This 
marvellous plan, of which I am the inventor, is ... 

ER. A little farther off, sir, for a certain reason. 

ORM. You know, without any need of my telling you, 
the great profit which the King yearly receives from his 
seaports. Well, the plan of which no one has yet thought, 
and which is an easy matter, is to make all the coasts of 
France into famous ports. This would amount to vast 
sums ; and if ... 

29 This is an allusion to the giver of the feast, MODS. Fouquet, surin- 
tendant des finances. See also page 299, note i. 

78 THE BORES. [ACT 11. 

ER. The scheme is good, and will greatly please the 
King. Farewell. We shall see each other again. 

ORM. At all events assist me, for you are the first to 
whom I have spoken of it. 

ER. Yes, yes. 

ORM. If you would lend me a couple of pistoles, you 
could repay yourself out of the profits of the scheme . . . 

ER. {Gives money to Ormtti). Gladly. {Alone). Would 
to Heaven, that at such a price I could get rid of all who 
trouble me ! How ill-timed their visit is ! At last I 
think I may go. Will any one else come to detain me ? 


FIL. Marquis, I have just heard strange tidings. 

ER. What? 

FIL. That some one has just now quarrelled with you. 

ER. With me ? 

FIL. What is the use of dissimulation ? I know on good 
authority that you have been called out ; and, as your 
friend, I come, at all events, to offer you my services 
against all mankind. 

ER. I am obliged to you ; but believe me you do me . . . 

FIL. You will not admit it ; but you are going out with- 
out attendants. Stay in town, or go into the country, 
you shall go nowhere without my accompanying you. 

ER. {Aside}. Oh, I shall go mad. 

FIL. Where is the use of hiding from me ? 

ER. I swear to you, Marquis, that you have been de- 

FIL. It is no use denying it. 

ER. May Heaven smite me, if any dispute . . . 

FIL. Do you think I believe you ? 

ER. Good Heaven, I tell you without concealment 
that . . . 

FIL. Do not think me such a dupe and simpleton. 

ER. Will you oblige me ? 

FIL. No. 

ER. Leave me, I pray. 

FIL. Nothing of the sort, Marquis. 

ER. An assignation to-night at a certain place . . . 


FIL. I do not quit you. Wherever it be, I mean to 
follow you. 

ER. On my soul, since you mean me to have a quarrel, 
I agree to it, to satisfy your zeal. I shall be with you, who 
put me in a rage, and of whom I cannot get rid by fair 

FIL. That is a sorry way of receiving the service of a 
friend. But as I do you so ill an office, farewell. Finish 
what you have on hand without me. 

ER, You will be my friend when you leave me. 
(Alone). But see what misfortunes happen to me ! They 
will have made me miss the hour appointed. 


DAM. (Aside). What ! the rascal hopes to obtain her 
in spite of me ! Ah ! my just wrath shall know how to 
prevent him ! 

ER. (Aside}. I see some one there at Orphise's door. 
What ! must there always be some obstacle to the passion 
she sanctions ! 

DAM. (To L 1 Epine). Yes, I have discovered that my 
niece, in spite of my care, is to receive Eraste in her 
room to-night, alone. 

LA R. (To his companions). What do I hear those 
people saying of our master? Let us approach softly, 
without betraying ourselves. 

DAM. (To L Epine). But before he has a chance of 
accomplishing his design, we must pierce his treacherous 
heart with a thousand blows. Go and fetch those whom 
I mentioned just now, and place them in ambush where I 
told you, so that at the name of Eraste they may be ready 
to avenge my honour, which his passion has the presump- 
tion to outrage ; to break off the assignation which brings 
him here, and quench his guilty flame in his blood. 

LA R. (Attacking Damis with his companions}. Before 
your fury can destroy him, wretch ! you shall have to deal 
with us ! 

ER. Though he would have killed me, honour urges 
me here to rescue the uncle of my mistress. ( To Damis). 

80 THE BORES. [ACT m. 

I am on your side, Sir. (He draws his sword and attacks 
La Riviere and his companions ; whom he puts to flight.} 

DAM. Heavens ! By whose aid do I find myself saved 
from a certain death ? To whom am I indebted for so rare 
a service? 

ER. {Returning). In serving you, I have done but an 
act of justice. 

DAM. Heavens. Can I believe my ears ! Is this the 
hand of Eraste? 

ER. Yes, yes, Sir, it is I. Too happy that my hand has 
rescued you : too unhappy in having deserved your hatred. 

DAM. What ! Eraste, whom I was resolved to have as- 
sassinated has just used his sword to defend me ! Oh, 
this is too much ; my heart is compelled to yield ; what- 
ever your love may have meditated to-night, this remarka- 
ble display of generosity ought to stifle all animosity. I 
blush for my crime, and blame my prejudice. My hatred 
has too long done you injustice ! To show you openly I 
no longer entertain it, I unite you this very night to your 


ORPH. {Entering with a silver candlestick in her hand}. 
Sir, what has happened that such a terrible disturb- 
ance . . . 

DAM. Niece, nothing but what is very agreeable, since, 
after having blamed, for a long time, your love for Eraste, 
I now give him to you for a husband. His arm has 
warded off the deadly thrust aimed at me ; I desire that 
your hand reward him. 

ORPH. I owe everything to you ; if, therefore, it is to 
pay him your debt, I consent, as he has saved your life. 

ER. My heart is so overwhelmed by this great miracle, 
that amidst this ecstasy, I doubt if I am awake. 

DAM. Let us celebrate the happy lot that awaits you ; 
and let our violins put us in a joyful mood. (As the 
violins strike up, there is a knock at the door). 

ER. Who knocks so loud ? 

L'Ep. Sir, here are masks, with kits and tabors. 
(The masks enter, filling the stage). 

SCENE vii.] THE BORES. 8 1 

ER. What ! Bores for ever ? Hulloa, guards, here. 
Turn out these rascals for me. 


First Entry. 

Swiss guards, with halberds, 30 drive out all the trouble- 
some masks, and then retire to make room for a dance of 

Second Entry. 

Four shepherds and a shepherdess, who, in the opinion 
of all who saw it, concluded the entertainment with much 

M The origin of the introduction of the Swiss Guards (mercenaries) in 
the service of the French and other foreign powers may be ascribed to the 
fact that Switzerland itself, being too poor to maintain soldiers in time of 
peace, allowed them to serve other nations on condition of coming back 
immediately to their own cantons in time of war or invasion. 

It is particularly with France that Switzerland contracted treaties to 
furnish certain contingents in case of need. The first of these dates back 
as far as 1444 between the Dauphin, afterwards Charles VII., and the dif- 
ferent cantons. This Act was renewed in 1453, and the number of soldiers 
to be furnished was fixed once for all, the minimum being 6,000, and the 
maximum 16,000. The Helvetians, who until 1515 had always been faith- 
ful to their engagements, turned traitors in that year against Francis I., 
who defeated them at Marignan. But the good feeling was soon after- 
wards re-established, and a new treaty, almost similar to the former, re- 
stored the harmony between the two nations. 

Another document is extant, signed at Baden in 1553, by which the 
cantons bind themselves to furnish Henry II. with as many troops as he 
may want. It is particularly remarkable, inasmuch as it served as a basis 
for all subsequent ones until 1671. These conventions have not always 
been faithfully carried out, for the Swiss contracted engagements with 
other nations, notably with Spain, Naples, and Sardinia, and even with 
Portugal. At the commencement of the campaign of 1697, Louis XIV. 
had, notwithstanding all this, as many as 32,000 Swiss in his service, the 
highest number ever attained. The regulations for the foreign colonels 
and captains in their relations among themselves, and with the French 
Government, were not unlike those in force at present for the native sol- 
diery in our Indian possessions. Towards the end of Louis XIV.'s reign 
the number decreased to 14,400, officers included ; it rose in 1773 to 
19,836, and during the wars of 1742-48. to 21,300. The ebb and flow of 
their numbers continued from that time until the Revolution of 1830, 
when they were finally abolished. 

They received a much higher pay than the national troops, and had 
besides this many other advantages, one of them being that the officers 
had in the army the next grade higher than that which they occupied in 
their own regiments ; for instance, the colonel of a Swiss regiment had the 
rank of a major-general, and retired on the pay of a lieutenant-general, 
&c. They enjoyed the same privileges, with some slight modifications, 
wherever they served elsewhere. 






DECEMBER 26xH, 1662. 


The School for Wives, played for the first time in the theatre of the 
Palais-Royal, on the z6th of Dec. 1662, was the complement of The 
School for Husbands, which it succeeded at an interval of eighteen months. 
The Bores intervening. The one no doubt suggested the other. The 
central situations of the two have much in common : the arbitrary and 
jealous lover, to whom circumstances have given almost the authority of 
a husband : the simple ward, rescued from physical constraint by the un- 
fettered cunning of love. In fact, there is not that contrast of character 
between the two plays, which the antithesis of their titles might lead us to 
expect. The text is not altered ; we have merely another reading of the 
same text. Arnolphe is a more refined and rational Sganarelle ; and if his 
fault is the same, and his catastrophe similar, we do not despise him and 
rejoice in his misfortune, as we were compelled to do with the tyrant of 
Isabella. His selfishness is, perhaps, equally great, but its exhibition does 
not render him so odious. 

The reason of this is to be found in the display of his many eccentrici- 
ties, his system of education, his cunning, his choice of foolish servants, 
his absurd whimsicalities, his pedantry, and, above all, his perpetual rest- 
lessness. He hardly ever leaves the stage during the whole of the five 
acts of the play : he goes away, appears again, moves about, plots, scolds, 
loses his temper, recovers it, dogmatizes, entreats, and, after all, is pun- 
ished by his very faults. His servants are more stupid than he wishes 
them to be, his ward more simple than he thought her ; he has jeered at 
husbands who are deceived, and he himself is victimized ; he wanted to 
abuse the confidence Horace placed in him, and becomes himself a dupe ; 
he intended to sacrifice Agnes to his own happiness, and, at the end, be- 
comes *' The most unfortunate of mankind." 

The troubles of Sganarelle and Arnolphe are the troubles of jealous 
husbands in every age, and it would be idle to heap up instances in the 
predecessors of Moliere which may have contributed to form his concep- 
tions. One of those that come nearest to the type before us is the story 
about a gentle knight of Hainault, in the forty-first of the Nouvelles nou- 
velles du Roi Louis XI., reproduced by Scarron in his Nouvelles tragi- 

Still more suggestive is Scarron's la Precaution inutile, partly based 
upon The Jealous Man of Estremadura, by Cervantes, in which there 
are several situations to which we must consider Moliere to have been in- 



debted for his first and second acts. The ingenuous self-confidence of 
Arnolphe, quaintly contrasting with his recurrent jealousies, finds an ante- 
type in many an ancient Italian story. Straparola's fourth night of the 
Piacevoli Notte (Agreeable Nights) has suggested some hints for the third 
and fourth acts ; the fifth is wholly original. Moliere's own history also 
furnished him with his subject. We already mentioned in the Introduc- 
tory Notice to The School for Husbands the supposed connection be- 
tween Ariste and the author ; the latter was now married, and did not find 
in marriage the happiness he hoped for. Without wishing to attribute to 
him all the ridiculous absurdities of Arnolphe, or to suppose that his wife 
was another Agnes, still we imagine that though he had scarcely been 
married a year, he felt already the necessity of watching over, and if pos- 
sible, of guiding the steps of his youthful spouse. It seems to us that in 
many of the sayings of Arnolphe, there is to be found a feeling of bitter- 
ness and passion, rather out of place in the mouth of such a ridiculous 
personage, but which give clear indications of what was even then passing 
in the mind of our author. The words which Arnolphe uses when kneel- 
ing at the feet of Agnes show what tempestuous passions must have pos- 
sessed Moliere ; and though it is often dangerous to identify a poet with 
his creation, still there must be always some part, however small, of the 
individuality of the originator in the character he produces. 

As regards Agnes, whose name is the type of a simple, artless girl, her 
character develops as the plot of the comedy rolls on. In the first scene, 
she is an uneducated, ingenuous maiden ; but she gradually changes 
under the influence of love, and becomes earnest, intelligent, and even 

This comedy was fiercely attacked by several, who accused it of being 
wanting in good taste, sound morality, rules of grammar, and, what was 
more dangerous, of undermining the principles of religion. The second 
scene of the third act, in which mention is made of " boiling cauldrons, 1 ' 
of a soul as " white and spotless as a lily," but " as black as coal," when 
at fault ; of " The Maxims of Marriage or the Duties of a Wife, together 
with her daily exercise," gave great offence, and were said to be like the 
phrases of the catechism or the confessional. A former patron of Mo- 
liere, the Prince of Conti, who had become a mere devotee, wrote against 
it in his Traite de la Comedie et des Spectacles, and in later times, even 
such men as Fenelon, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Geoffrey, a critic of 
the beginning of this century, have found much to blame in this comedy, 
whilst several literary men, Hazlitt amongst the English, and Honore de 
Balzac amongst the French, consider this play as Moliere's masterpiece. 

This play was dedicated by Moliere to the Duchess of Orleans, 1 in the 
following words : 


I am the most perplexed man in the world when I have to dedicate a book, and I 
am so little cut out for the style of a dedication, that I do not know how to get 
through this. Another, in my place, would soon think of a hundred fine things .to 
say of your ROYAL HIGHNESS, upon this title of The School for Wives, and upon the 
offering he made to you of it. But for my part, MADAM, I confess my weakness. 
I have not the talent of finding any relation between things which have so little con- 

1 Henrietta of England, daughter of Charles I., first wife of Monsieur, brother of 
Louis XIV., died at Saint Cloud, the 3oth of June, 1670, twenty-six years old. Her 
funeral sermon, preached by Bossuet, remains a perennial monument of pulpit elo- 


ncction ; whatever information ray brother-authors every day give me in such cases, 
I do not see what your ROYAL HIGHNESS can have to do with the comedy I present 
to you. 

Nobody indeed can be at a loss how to praise you. The matter, Madam, is but 
too obvious, and in whatever way we behold you, we meet with glory upon glory, 
and perfection upon perfection. You possess, MADAM, the perfection of rank and 
birth, which makes you respected by all the world. You possess the perfection of 
charms, both of the mind and body, which makes you admired by all who see you. 
You possess the perfection of soul, which, if any one dare to say so, makes you be- 
lovea by all who have the honour to come near you : I mean that charming gentle- 
ness, with which you temper the stateliness of the great titles you bear ; that 
obliging goodness, that generous affability, which you shew to every body : and 
particularly these last, upon which I find plainly I one day shall not be able to be 
silent. But once more, Madam, I am ignorant of the manner how to bring in here 
such shining truths ; and these are things, in my opinion, both of too vast an ex- 
tent, and of too high a merit to be included in a dedication, and mixed with trifles. 
All things considered, Madam, I do not see what else I can do, beyond dedicating 
my comedy to you ; and assuring you, with all possible respect, that I am, MADAM, 
Your Royal Highness' most Humble, most Obedient, and most Obliged Servant, 


Wycherley, in his Country Wife, acted probably in 1672 or 1673, and 
of which the subject is so indecent that it cannot even be mentioned at 
the present time, has borrowed from Moliere's School for Wives the cha- 
racter of Agnes, whom he calls Mrs. Pinchwife ; he has also partly imi- 
tated Amolphe as Mr. Pinchwife, and followed the plot of the French 
play in all the scenes where those two characters are mentioned, and in 
some where Alithea and Homer appear. Voltaire, in his Essay on Eng- 
lish Comedy, says of The Country Wife : " This piece, I admit, is not a 
school for good morals and manners, but it is really a school for wit and 
sound vis comica." Garrick, in his Country Girl, acted in 1776, tried to 
make Wycherley's play more fit to appear on the English stage, but with 
little success. It is true he changed Mrs. Pinchwife into Miss Peggy : 
but he also destroyed the vigour of the original, and introduced some al- 
terations in the ending taken chiefly from the last act of Moliere's School 
for Husbands. Another alteration of Wycherley's play was a farce, in 
two acts, called The Country Wife, written by an actor, John Lee, and 
performed at Drury Lane in 1765, for his benefit. But deservedly it met 
with no success. 

John Caryl, probably a Sussex man, and of the Roman Catholic per- 
suasion, was secretary to Queen Mary, the wife of James the Second, and 
one who followed the fortunes of his abdicated master. For his attach- 
ment to this king he was rewarded by him, first, with the honour of 
knighthood, and afterwards with the honorary titles of Earl Caryl, Baron 
Dartford. How long he continued in the service of James is unknown ; 
but he was in England in the reign of Queen Anne, and recommended 
the subject of Mr. Pope's Rape of the Lock to that author, who, on its 
publication addressed it to him. He was alive in 1717, and at that time 
must have been a very old man. 2 He wrote also a tragedy, The English 
Princess, or the Death of Richard the Third, 1667, and, a comedy, Sir 
Salomon, or the Cautious Coxcomb, which was not printed till 1671, but 
was certainly acted in the season of 1669-1670 at the latest. In May 
1670, the king and the court being at Dover, they were extremely pleased 
with the performance of Sir Salomon; and as the French court at that 
time wore very short laced coats, the actor, Nokes, had one made still 
shorter, in which he acted Sir Arthur Addell; " the Duke of Monmouth 

* Baker's " Biographica Dramatica," 1812, vol. i., p. 91. 


gave him his sword and belt from his side, and buckled it on himself, on 
purpose that he might ape the French, his appearance was so ridicu- 
lous, that at his first entrance he put the King and Court in an excessive 
laughter ; and the French were much chagrined to see themselves aped 
by such a buffoon as Sir Arthur." 3 All dramatic biographies are agreed 
that Caryl took his plot from Moliere's School for Wives. We think that 
though several of the scenes are imitated from Moliere, the plot in Sir 
Salomon is far more intricate. In the English play, old Sir Salomon 
Single, and in the French Arnolphe, bring up in strict seclusion a young 
girl, whom they afterwards intend to marry, and in both plays the old 
men are made the confidants of the lovers, who afterwards really marry 
the innocent maidens ; but in The School for Wives the characters of 
young Single, Mr. Barter, an Indy merchant, that of Timothy, the stew- 
ard, Mr. Wary, and Mrs. Julia, are wanting, whilst no counterpart of 
either Chrysalde or Enrique from The School for Wives is to be found in 
Sir Salomon. Another personage not in the French comedy is Sir Arthur 
Addell, who is very well drawn ; his way of wooing is at least original, 
and so are the following four lines with which he ends the first act : 

" As sure, as Chick in Pouche, or ... in Bosome 
My flames are raging ; and who dares oppose 'em ? 
They soon shall thaw her Heart, though ne'er so Icy ; 
Like Julius Caesar, veni, vidi, vici." 

The author, however, who ought to be the best judge of the sources 
from which he borrowed his play, admits his thefts in the epilogue to Sir 
Salomon, an epilogue which we give below, and of which some of the 
points are not lost even at the present day. 

Since stealing's grown a pretty thriving Trade, 

Which many Rich, but few has guilty made : 

To needy Poets why should you deny 

The Privilege to steal, as well as lie ? 

Their Theft (alas) swells not the Nation's "Debt, 

Nor makes Wine dear, nor will Land-taxe beget. 

Money they always wanted ; Now they grow 

No less in Fancy, than in Fortflne, low ; 

And are compelled to rook, as Gamesters are. 

That can hold out no longer on the square. 

Faith, be good natur'd to this hungry Crew, 

Who what they filch abroad, bring home to you. 

But still exclude those men from all Relief, 

Who steal themselves, yet boldly cry, Stop Thief: 

Life taking Judges, these without remorse 

Condemn all petty Thefts, and practice worse ; 

As if they robb'd by Patent, and alone 

Had right to call each Foreign play their own. 

What we have brought before you, was not meant 

For a new Play, but a new Precedent ; 

For we with Modesty our theft avow, 

(There is some conscience shown in stealing too) 

And openly declare that if our Cheer 

Does hit your must thank Moliefe : 

Moliere, the famous Shakespeare of this Age, 

Both when he writes, and when he treads the Stage. 

I hope this Stranger's Praise gives no pretence 

To charge us with a National Offence : 

Since, were it in my power, I would advance 

French Wit in England, English Arms in France. 

8 Geneste, 'Some Account of the English Stage," 10 vols., 1832, vol. i., p. 107. 


Mrs. Cowley composed, with Caryl's Sir Salomon and Moliere's School 
for Wives a comedy called More Ways than One, produced at Covent 
Garden Theatre in 1783, in which the only novelty appears to be the cha- 
racter of a rascally doctor, called Barkwell, and a lover, Bellair, who pre- 
tends to be dying in order to be near the object of his affection. Arabella, 
the Agnes of the French play ; whilst the part of Sir Maxwell Mushroom 
is borrowed from Sir Positive in Shadwell's Sullen Lovers. The only 
thing remarkable in this comedy is the high-flown language of the dedi- 
cation to the author's husband in India, of which we give the beginning 

Hence ! Comic Scenes, to where rich Ganges laves 
Hindostan's Golden shores with hallowed waves. 
Where Palms gigantic rear their tufted heads, 
And all colossal vegetation spreads, 
Where rich Ananas court the Indian's eye. 
And Groves of Citrons fan the feverish sky, 
Where rattling Canes along the rivulets play, 
And the Centennial Aloe conquers day, 
In their deep Shades bid Lucidorus' smile 
His heavy sense of distant hours beguile. 

A collected edition of the works of Mrs. Cowley was published in 
1813, in three volumes, with a preface, which is really a model of the 
longest and most Latinized words in the English language, with the small- 
est possible amount of sense. 

Edward Ravenscroft (see Introductory Notice to the Pretentious Young 
Ladies), has, in London Cuckolds, acted at the Duke's Theatre, 1682, 
partly imitated The School for Wives, and given Arnolphe the name of 
Wiseacre, and Agnes that of Peggy ; but the whole play is so filthy that 
nothing can be quoted from it. Until 1754 it was frequently represented 
on Lord Mayor's day, in contempt, as it were, of the City. 

Isaac Bickerstaffe wrote 'Love in the City, a comic opera, which was 
acted at Covent Garden in 1767, but did not meet with much success. 
The character of Priscilla, an unmanageable Creole girl, is partly taken 
from Agnes, and that of Barnacle from Chrysalde, both from The School 
for Wives. Priscilla .persuades her lover, young Walter Cockney, that 

her " love for the captain was only a sham," and that if she 

" can manage it she will go off with .him to Scotland to-night, where they 
say folks may be married in spite of anyone." The characters of Wagg, 
the attorney, who disguises himself first as a Colonel, and afterwards as 
Captain Delany from '' the county of Mayo," and of Spruce, who ap- 
pears as a Lord, are partly borrowed from The Pretentious Young Ladies. 
The argument! of Wagg in Act Hi., Scene 2, seem to owe their origin to 
Gros-Rene^s speech jn Sganarelle or the Self'Deceived Husband, whilst 
the whole scene appears to be taken from the sixth scene of the second 
act of Moliere's School for Wives. This play, with the characters of 
Wagg, Spruce, and Miss Molly Cockney omitted, and cut down to two 
acts, was brought out as The Romp, and met with great success. 


A great many people at first hissed this comedy, but the 
laughers were for it, and all the ill that was said of it could 
not hinder its having a success with which I am very well 
satisfied. I know it is expected from me that I should give 
some preface in answer to the critics, and in justification of 
my work. Doubtless I am sufficiently indebted to all those 
who have given it their approbation, to think myself obliged to 
defend their judgment against that of others ; but a great many 
of the things I should say on that head are already in a dis- 
sertation, which I have written in the form of a dialogue, with 
which as yet I do not know what I shall do. The idea of this 
dialogue, or, if you like it better, of this little comedy, 4 came 
into my head after the first two or three representations of my 
play. I mentioned this idea one evening at a house where I 
visited ; and immediately a person of quality, whose wit is 
sufficiently known to the world, 5 and who does me the honour 
to call me his friend, liked the thought of it so well, that he 
not only begged me to put my hand to it, but likewise to put 
his own ; and I was amazed that two days afterwards he 

4 This was The School for Wives criticised, played the ist of June, 

'The Abbe 1 Dubuisson, who was called the grand intraducteur des 
ruelles. (See page 154, note 25.) 

9 1 


showed me the whole thing done, in a manner which was in- 
deed better written and more witty than I am able to do it. 
but which was too flattering for me, so that I was afraid that if 
I brought that work out in our theatre, I should presently be 
accused of having begged the praises which were therein be- 
stowed upon me. Yet that hindered me, for some reason, 
from finishing what I had begun. But so many people daily 
urge me to write it, that I do not know what will be done ; and 
this uncertainty is the reason I do not put in this preface, what 
will be seen in the Criticism, in case I resolve to let it appear 
which, if it does, I say it again, it will only be to revenge the 
public for the squeamishness of some people. For my part, I 
think myself sufficiently revenged by the success of my 
Comedy, and I wish that all I shall hereafter write may re- 
ceive the same treatment from them, provided it has the same 
good fortune elsewhere. 



CHRYSALDE,/r?V;fr//0 Arnolphe. 

HORACE, in love with Agnes. 

ENRIQUE, brother-in-law of Chrysalde. 

ORONTE, father to Horace and a great friend of Arnolphe. 

ALAIN, a country fellow, servant to Arnolphe. 


AGNES, a young innocent girl, brought up by Arnolphe. 
GEORGETTE, a country-woman, servant to Arnolphe. 


6 This part was played by Moliere himself. 





CH. You have come to marry her, you say ? 

AR. Yes, I mean to settle the business to-morrow. 

CH. We are here alone, and I think we can speak to- 
gether without fear of being overheard. Do you wish me 
to open my heart to you like a friend ? Your plan makes 
me tremble with fear for you. To take a wife is a rash 
step for you, whichever way you consider the matter. 

AR. True, my friend. Possibly you find in your own 
home reasons why you should fear for me. I fancy that 
your own forehead shows that horns are everywhere the 
infallible accompaniment of marriage. 

CH. These are accidents against which we cannot insure 
ourselves; it seems to me that the trouble people take 
about this is very ridiculous. But when I fear for you, it^ 
is on account of this raillery of which a hundred poor hus- 
bands have felt the sting. For you know that neither 
great nor small have been safe from your criticism ; that 
your greatest pleasure, wherever you are, is to make a 
mighty outcry about secret intrigues . . . 

AR. Exactly. Is there another city in the world where 
husbands are so patient as here ? Do we not meet with 
them in every variety, and well provided with everything ? 
One heaps up wealth, which his wife shares with those who 
are eager to make him a dupe ; another, slightly more for- 
tunate, but not less infamous, sees his wife receive presents 
day after day, and is not troubled in mind by any jealous 
twinge when she tells him that they are the rewards of vir- 



tue. One makes a great noise, which does him not the 
slightest good ; another lets matters take their course in 
all meekness, and, seeing the gallant arrive at his house, 
very politely takes up his gloves and his cloak. One 
married woman cunningly pretends to make a confidant 
of her confiding husband, who slumbers securely under 
such a delusion, and pities the gallant for his pains, which, 
however, the latter does not throw away. Another married 
woman, to account for her extravagance, says that the money 
she spends has been won at play ; and the silly husband, 
without considering at what play, thanks Heaven for her 
winnings. In short, we find subjects for satire everywhere, 
and may I, as a spectator, not laugh at them ? Are not 
these fools . . . 

CH. Yes ; but he who laughs at another must beware, 
lest he in turn be laughed at himself. I hear what is said, 
and how some folks delight in retailing what goes on ; but 
no one has seen me exult at reports, which are bruited 
about in the places I frequent. I am rather reserved in 
this respect ; and, though I might condemn a certain 
toleration of these matters, and am resolved by no means to 
suffer quietly what some husbands endure, yet I have never 
affected to say so ; for, after all, satire may fall upon our- 
selves, and we should never vow in such cases what we 
should or should not do. Thus, if by an overruling fate, 
some natural disgrace should ever happen to my brow, I 
am almost sure, after the way in which I have acted, that 
people would be content to laugh at it in their sleeve ; 
and possibly, in addition, I may reap this advantage, that 
a few good fellows will say "What a pity!" But with 
you, my dear friend, it is otherwise. I tell you again you 
are running a plaguy risk. As your tongue has always 
persistently bantered husbands accused of being tolerant ; 
as you have shown yourself like a demon let loose upon 
them, you must walk straight for fear of being made a 
laughing-stock ; and, if it happens that they get the least 
pretext, take care they do not publish your disgrace at the 
public market-cross, and . . . 

AR. Good Heaven, friend, do not trouble yourself. 
He will be a clever man who catches me in this way. I 
know all the cunning tricks and subtle devices which 


women use to deceive us, and how one is fooled by their 
dexterity, and I have taken precaution against this mis- 
chance. She whom I am marrying possesses all the inno- 
cence which may protect my forehead from evil influence. 

CH. Why, what do you imagine ? That a silly girl, to 
be brief . . . 

AR. To marry a silly girl is not to become silly myself. 
I believe, as a good Christian, that your better half is very 
wise ; but a clever wife is ominous, and I know what some 
people have to pay for choosing theirs with too much 
talent. What, I go and saddle myself with an intellectual 
woman, who talks of nothing but of her assembly and 
ruelle ? who writes tender things in prose and in verse, 
and is visited by Marquises and wits, whilst, as "Mrs. So- 
and-so's husband," I should be like a saint, whom no one 
calls upon ! No, no, I will have none of your lofty 
minds. A woman who writes knows more than she ought 
to do. I intend that my wife shall not even be clever 
enough to know what a rhyme is. If one plays at cor- 
billon with her, and asks her in her turn ' ' What is put 
into the basket," I will have her answer, "A cream 
tart." 8 In a word, let her be very ignorant ; and to tell 
you the plain truth, it is enough for her that she can say 
her prayers, love me, sew and spin. 

CH. A stupid wife, then, is your fancy ? 

AR. So much so that I should prefer a very stupid and 
ugly woman to a very beautiful one with a great deal 
of wit. 

CH. Wit and beauty . . . 

AR. Virtue is quite enough. 

CH. But how can you expect, after all, that a mere 
simpleton can ever know what it is to be virtuous ? Be- 
sides, to my mind, it must be very wearisome for a man 
to have a stupid creature perpetually with him. Do you 
think you act rightly, and that, by reliance on your plan, 

7 See page 154, note 24. 

8 In France there was, and may be still, a kind of round game which 
consists in replying with a word ending in on to the question, Que met 
on dans mon corbillon f (what is put into my little basket ?) The supposed 
answer of Agnes, " A cream tart," though it does not rhyme with cor- 
billon, may come natural enough, because the corbillon was a kind of 
basket in which pastry-cooks took home pastry to their customers. 


a man's brow is saved from danger? A woman of sense 
may fail in her duty ; but she must at least do so know- 
ingly ; a stupid woman may at any time fail in hers, with- 
out desiring or thinking of it. 

AR. To this fine argument, this deep discourse, I reply 
as Pantagruel did to Panurge : Urge me to marry any 
other woman than a stupid one; preach and lecture till 
Whitsuntide, you shall be amazed to find, when you have 
done, that you have not persuaded me in the very 
slightest. 9 

CH. I do not want to say another word. 

AR. Every man has his own way. With my wife, as in 
everything, I mean to follow my fashion. I think I am 
rich enough to take a partner who shall owe all to me, 
and whose humble station and complete dependence can- 
not reproach me either with her poverty or her birth. A 
sweet and staid look made me love Agnes, amongst other 
children, when she was only four. It came into my mind 
to ask her from her mother, who was very poor ; the good 
country-woman, learning my wish, was delighted to rid 
herself of the charge. I had her brought up, according 
to my own notions, in a little solitary convent ; that is to 
say, directing them what means to adopt in order to make 
her as idiotic as possible. Thank Heaven, success has 
crowned my efforts ; and I am very thankful to say, I have 
found her so innocent that I have blessed Heaven for hav- 
ing done what I wished, in giving me a wife according to 
my desire. Then I brought her away ; and as my house 
is continually open to a hundred different people, and as 
we must be on our guard against everything, I have kept 
her in another house where no one comes to see me ; and 
-where her good disposition cannot be spoiled, as she 
meets none but people as simple as herself. You will say, 
"Wherefore this long story?" It is to let you see the 

9 In the fifth chapter of the third book of Rabelais' Pantagruel : How 
Pantagruel altogether abhorreth the debtors and borrowers, we find : " I 
understand you very well, quoth Pantagruel, and take you to be very 
good at topics, and thoroughly affectioned to your own cause. But 
preach it up and patrocinate it, prattle on it, and defend it as much as 
you will, even from hence to the next Whitsuntide, if you please so to do, 
yet in the end will you be astonished to find how you shall have gained no 
jjround at all upon me, nor persuaded me . . . never so little." 


care I have taken. To crown all, and as you are a trusty 
friend, I ask you to sup with her to-night. I wish you 
would examine her a little, and see if I am to be con- 
demned for my choice. 

CH. With all my heart. 

AR. You can judge of her looks and her innocence 
when you converse with her. 

CH. As to that, what you have told me cannot . . . 

AR. What I have told you falls even short of the truth : 
I admire her simplicity on all occasions ; sometimes she 
says things at which I split my sides with laughing. The 
other day would you believe it? she was uneasy, and 
came to ask me, with unexampled innocence, if children 
came through the ears. 

CH. I greatly rejoice, Mr. Arnolphe . . . 

AR. What ! will you always call me by that name? 

CH. Ah, it comes to my lips in spite of me ; I never re- 
member Mr. de la Souche. Who on earth has put it into 
your head to change your name at forty-two years of age, 
and give yourself a title from a rotten old tree on your 

AR. Besides that the house is known by that name, la 
Souche pleases my ear better than Arnolphe. 10 

CH. What a pity to give up the genuine name of one's 
fathers, and take one based on chimeras! Most people 
have an itching that way, and, without including you in 
the comparison, I knew a country-fellow called Gros- 
Pierre, who, having no other property but a rood of land, 
had a muddy ditch made all around it, and took the high- 
sounding name of M. de 1'Isle. 11 

AR. You might dispense with such examples. But, at 
all events, de la Souche is the name I bear. I have a 
reason for it, I like it ; and to call me otherwise is to 
annoy me. 

10 Arnulphus was in the middle ages considered the patron saint of de- 
ceived husbands ; this belief was not wholly forgotten in the seventeenth 
century : hence the dislike of Arnolphe to his name. 

11 Some contemporaries of Moliere imagined he alluded to Thomas 
Corneille, or to Charles Sorel, the author of Franrion, who, it is said, had 
both adopted the name of M. de 1'Isle. As Mr. Big Peter (Gros-Pierre) 
had made of his rood of land a kind of island, he thought he had a right 
to call himself after an isle. 


CH. Most people find it hard to fall in with it ; I even 
yet see letters addressed . . . 

AR. I endure it easily from those who are not informed ; 
but you . . . 

CH. Be it so; we will make no difficulty about that; I 
will take care to accustom my lips to call you nothing 
else than M. de la Souche. 

AR. Farewell. I am going to knock here, to wish them 
good morning, and simply to say that I have come back. 

CH. (Aside). Upon my word, I think he is a perfect 

AR. (Alone}. He is a little touched on certain points. 
Strange, to see how each man is passionately fond of his 
own opinion. (Knocks at his door). HulloaJ 


AL. Who knocks ? 

AR. Open the door ! (Aside). I think they will be 
very glad to see me after ten days' absence. 

AL. Who is there ? 

AR. I. 

AL. Georgette ! 

GEO. Well! 

AL. Open the door there ! 

GEO. Go, and do it yourself! 

AL. You go and do it! 

GEO. Indeed, I shall not go. 

AL. No more shall I. 

AR. Fine compliments, while I am left without. Hul- 
loa! Here, please. 

GEO. Who knocks? 

AR. Your master. 

GEO. Alain ! 

AL. What! 

GEO. It is the master. Open the door quickly. 

AL. Open it yourself. 

GEO. I am blowing the fire. 

AL. I am taking care that the sparrow does not go out, 
for fear of the cat. 

AR. Whoever of you two does not open the door shall 
have no food for four days. Ah ! 


GEO. Why do you come when I was running ? 

AL. Why should you more than I? A pretty trick 
indeed ! 

GEO. Stand out of the way. 

AL. Stand out of the way yourself. 

GEO. I wish to open the door. 

AL. And so do I. 

GEO. You shall not. 

AL. No more shall you. 

GEO. Nor you. 

AR. I need have patience here. 

AL. (Entering). There ; it is I, master. 

GEO. (Entering). Your servant; it is I. 

AL. If it were not out of respect for master here, I ... 

AR. (Receiving a push from Alain). Hang it ! 

AL. Pardon me. 

AR. Look at the lout ! 

AL. It was she also, master . . . 

Ar. Hold your tongues, both of you. Just answer me 
and let us have no more fooling. Well, Alain, how is 
every one here ? 

AL. Master, we ... (Arnolphe takes off 'Alain' 's hat}. 
Master, we ... (Arnolphe takes it off again.} Thank 
Heaven, we ... 

AR. ( Taking off the hat a third time and flinging it on 
the ground). Who taught you, impertinent fool, to speak 
to me with your hat on your head ? 

AL. You are right ; I am wrong. 

AR. (To Al.}. Ask Agnes to come down. 


AR. Was she sad after I went away ? 

GEO. Sad? No. 

AR. No? 

GEO. Yes, yes. 

AR. Why, then? 

GEO. May I die on the spot, but she expected to see you 
return every minute ; and we never heard a horse, an ass, 
or a mule pass by without her thinking it was you. 



AR. Work in hand ? That is a good sign. Well, Agnes, 
I have returned. Are you glad of it ? 

Ac. Yes, sir, Heaven be thanked. 

AR. I too am glad to see you again. You have always 
been well ? I see you have. 

AG. Except for the fleas, which troubled me in the night. 

AR. Ah, you shall soon have some one to drive them 

AG. I shall be pleased with that. 

AR. I can easily imagine it. What are you doing there? 

AG. I am making myself some caps. Your night-shirts 
and caps are finished. 

AR. Ah, that is all right. Well, go up stairs. Do not 
tire yourself. I will soon return, and talk to you of im- 
portant matters. 


Heroines of the day, learned ladies, who spout tender 
and fine sentiments, I defy in a breath all your verses, your 
novels, your letters, your love-letters, your entire science, 
to be worth as much as this virtuous and modest ignorance. 
We must not be dazzled by riches ; and so long as honour 
is ... 


AR. What do I see? Is it . . . Yes. I am mistaken. 
But no. No ; it is himself. Hor . . . 

HOR. Mr. Arn . . . 

AR. Horace. 

HOR. Arnolphe. 

AR. Ah ! what joy indeed ! And how long have you 
been here ? 

HOR. Nine days. 

AR. Really. 

HOR. I went straight to your house, but in vain. 

AR. I was in the country 

HOR. Yes, you had been gone ten days. 

AR. Oh, how these children spring up in a few years ! 
I am amazed to see him so tall, after having known him 
no higher than that. 

HOR. You see how it is. 


AR. But tell me how is Oronte, your father, my good 
and dear friend, whom I esteem and revere ? What is he 
doing ? What is he saying ? Is he still hearty ? He 
knows I am interested in all that affects him ; we have not 
seen one another these four years, nor, what is more, 
written to each other, I think. 

HOR. Mr. Arnolphe, he is still more cheerful than our- 
selves ; I had a letter from him for you. But he has since 
informed me in another letter, that he is coming here, 
though as yet I do not know the reason for it. Can you 
tell me which of your townsmen has returned with abund- 
ance of wealth earned during a fourteen years' residence 
in America? 

AR. No. Have you not heard his name? 

HOR. Enrique. 

AR. No. 

HOR. My father speaks of him and his return, as though 
he should be well known to me ; he writes that they are 
about to set out together, on an affair of consequence, of 
which his letter says nothing. (Gives Oronte' s letter to 

AR. I shall assuredly be very glad to see him, and shall 
do my best to entertain him. (After reading the letter}. 
Friends do not need to send such polite letters, and all 
these compliments are unnecessary. Even if he had not 
taken the trouble to write one word, you might have freely 
disposed of all I have. 

HOR. I am a man who takes people at their word ; and 
I have present need of a hundred pistoles. 

AR. Upon my word, you oblige me by using me thus. 
I rejoice that I have them with me. Keep the purse too. 

HOR. I must .... 

AR. Drop this ceremony. Well, how do you like this 
town so far? 

HOR. Its inhabitants are numerous, its buildings splen- 
did, and I should think that its amusements are wonder- 

AR. Everyone has his own pleasures, after his own 
fashion ; but for those whom we christen our gallants, they 
have in this town just what pleases them, for the women 
are born flirts. Dark and fair are amiably disposed, and 


the husbands also are the most kind in the world. It is a 
pleasure fit for a King ; to me it is a mere comedy to see 
the pranks I do. Perhaps you have already smitten some 
one. Have you had no adventure yet ? Men of your 
figure can do more than men who have money, and you 
are cut out to make a cuckold. 

HOR. Not to deceive you as to the simple truth, I have 
had a certain-love passage in these parts, and friendship 
compels me to tell you of it. 

AR. {Aside). Good. Here is another queer story to 
set down in my pocket-book. 

HOR. But pray, let these things be secret. 

AR. Oh! 

HOR. You know that in these matters a secret divulged 
destroys our expectations. I will then frankly confess to 
you that my heart has been smitten in this place by a cer- 
tain fair maid. My little attentions were at once so suc- 
cessful that I obtained a pleasant introduction to her ; not 
to boast too much, nor to do her an injustice, affairs go 
very well with me. 

AR. (Laughing). Ha ! ha ! And she is ... 

HOR. (Pointing to the house of Agnes}. A young crea- 
ture living in yonder house, of which you can see the red 
walls from this. Simple, of a truth, through the match- 
less folly of a man who hides her from all the world ; but 
who, amidst the ignorance in which he would enslave her, 
discloses charms that throw one into raptures, as well as a 
thoroughly engaging manner, and something indescribably 
tender, against which no heart is proof. But perhaps you 
have seen this young star of love, adorned by so many 
charms. Agnes is her name. 

AR. (Aside'}. Oh, I shall burst with rage ! 

HOR. As for the man, I think his name is De la Zousse, 
or Souche; I did not much concern myself about the 
name. He is rich, by what they told me, but not one of 
the wisest of men ; they say he is a ridiculous fellow. Do 
you not know him? 

AR. {Aside). It is a bitter pill I have to swallow! 

HOR. Why, you do not speak a word. 

AR. Oh yes . . .1 know him. 

HOR. He is a fool, is he not? 


AR. Ugh! 

HOR. What do you say? Ugh! that means yes? 
Jealous, I suppose, ridiculously so? Stupid? I see he is 
just as they told me. To be brief, the lovely Agnes has 
succeeded in enslaving me. She is a pretty jewel, to tell 
you honestly; it would be a sin if such a rare beauty were 
left in the power of this eccentric fellow. For me, all my 
efforts, all my dearest wishes, are to make her mine in 
spite of this jealous wretch; and the money which I so 
freely borrow of you, was only to bring this laudable en- 
terprise to a conclusion. You know better than I, that, 
whatever we undertake, money is the master-key to all 
great plans, and that this sweet metal, which distracts so 
many, promotes our triumphs, in love as in war. You 
seem vexed? Can it be that you disapprove of my de- 

AR. No ; but I was thinking . . . 

HOR. This conversation wearies you? Farewell. I will 
soon pay you a visit to return thanks. 

AR. (Thinking himself alone). What! must it . . . 

HOR. (Returning). Once again, pray be discreet; do 
not go and spread my secret abroad. 

AR. (Thir.king himself alone). I feel within my soul . . 

HOR. (Returning again). And above all to my father, 
who would perhaps get enraged, if he knew of it. 

AR. (Expecting Horace to return again). Oh ! . 


Oh, what I have endured during this conversation! 
Never was trouble of mind equal to mine ! With what 
rashness and extreme haste did he come to tell me of this 
affair ! Though my second name keeps him at fault, did 
ever any blunderer run on so furiously? But, having en- 
dured so much, I ought to have refrained until I had 
learned that which I have reason to fear, to have drawn 
out his foolish chattering to the end, and ascertained their 
secret understanding completely. Let me try to overtake 
him ; I fancy he is not far-off. Let me worm from him 
the whole mystery. I tremble for the misfortune which 
may befal me ; for we often seek more than we wish to 




It is no doubt well, when I think of it, that I have lost 
my way, and failed to find him; for after all, I should not 
have been able entirely to conceal from his eyes the over- 
whelming pang of my heart. The grief that preys upon 
me would have broken forth, and I do not wish him to 
know what he is at present ignorant of. But I am not the 
man to put up with this, and leave a free field for this 
young spark to pursue his design. I am resolved to check 
his progress, and learn, without delay, how far they un- 
derstand each other. My honour is specially involved in 
this. I regard her already as my wife. She cannot have 
made a slip without covering me with shame ; and what- 
ever she does will be placed to my account. Fatal ab- 
sence ! Unfortunate voyage ! (Knocks at his door. 


AL. Ah, master, this time . . . 

AR. Peace. Come here, both of you. That way, that 
way. Come along, come, I tell you. 

GEO. Ah, you frighten me ; all my blood runs cold. 

AR. Is it thus you have obeyed me in my absence? 
You have both combined to betray me ! 

GEO. {Falling at Arnolphe 1 s feet}. Oh master, do not 
eat me, I implore you. 

AL. (Aside). I am sure some mad dog has bitten him. 

AR. (Aside). Ugh, I cannot speak, I am so filled with 
rage. I am choking, and should like to throw off my 
clothes . . . (To Alain and Georgette). You cursed 
scoundrels, you have permitted a man to come . . . (To 
Alain, who tries to escape). You would run away, would 
you! You must this instant . . . (To Georgette). If 
you move . . . Now I wish you to tell me . . . (To 
Alain). Hi! . . . Yes, I wish you both . . . (Alain 
and Georgette rise, and again try to escape) . . . Whoever 
of you moves, upon my word, I shall knock him down. 
How came that man into my house ? Now speak. Make 
haste, quick, directly, instantly, no thinking ! Will you 
speak ? 

SCBNK 111. 


BOTH. Oh, oh ! 

GEO. {Falling at his knees). My heart fails me ! 

AL. (Falling at his knees). I am dying. 

ARN. (Aside). I perspire all over. Let me take a 
breath. I must fan myself, and walk about. Could I be- 
lieve, when I saw Horace as a little boy, that he would 
grow up for this ? Heaven, how I suffer ! I think it 
would be better that I should gently draw from Agnes' 
own mouth an account of what touches me so. Let me 
try to moderate my anger. Patience, my heart; softly, 
softly. (To Alain and Georgette). Rise, go in, and bid 
Agnes come to me . . . Stay, her surprise would be less. 
They will go and tell her how uneasy I am. I will go 
myself and bring her out. (To Alain and Georgette). 
Wait for me here. 


GEO. Heavens, how terrible he is ! His looks made me 
afraid horribly afraid. Never did I see a more hideous 

AL. This gentleman has vexed him ; I told you so. 

GEO. But what on earth is the reason that he so strictly 
makes us keep our mistress in the house ? Why does he 
wish to hide her from all the world, and cannot bear to 
see any one approach her ? 

AL. Because that makes him jealous. 

GEO. But how has he got such a fancy into his head? 

AL. Because . . . because he is jealous. 

GEO. Yes ; but wherefore is he so ? and why this an- 

AL. Because jealousy . . . understand me, Georgette, 
jealousy is a thing ... a thing . . . which makes peo- 
ple uneasy . . . and which drives folk all round the 
house. I am going to give you an example, so that you 
may understand the thing better. Tell me, is it not true 
that, when you have your broth in your hand, and some 
hungry person comes up to eat it, you would be in a rage, 
and be ready to beat him ? 

GEO. Yes, I understand that. 

AL. It is just the same. Woman is in fact the broth of 
man ; and when a man sees other folks sometimes, trying 


to dip their fingers in his broth, he soon displays extreme 
anger at it. 

GEO. Yes ; but why does not every one do the same ? 
Why do we see some who appear to be pleased when their 
wives are with handsome fine gentlemen ? 

AL. Because every one has not the greedy love which 
will give nothing away. 

GEO. If I am not blind, I see him returning. 

AL. Your eyes are good ; it is he. 

GEO. See how vexed he is. 

AL. That is because he is in trouble. 

AR. (Aside). A certain Greek told the Emperor 
Augustus, as an axiom as useful as it was true, that when 
any accident puts us in a rage, we should, first of all, re- 
peat the alphabet ; so that in the interval our anger may 
abate, and we may do nothing that we ought not to do. 11 
I have followed his advice in the matter of Agnes ; and I 
have brought her here designedly, under pretence of 
taking a walk, so that the suspicions of my disordered 
mind may cunningly lead her to the topic, and, by sound- 
ing her heart, gently find out the truth. 

AR. Come, Agnes. (To Alain and Georgette). Get 
you in. 


AR. This is a nice walk. 

AG. Very nice. 

AR. What a fine day. 

AG. Very fine. 

AR. What news ? 

AG. The kitten is dead. 

AR. Pity ! But what then ? We are all mortal, and 

11 The story is in Plutarch, and is told of Athenodorus from Tarsus 
and Augustus ; only the stoic philosopher advised the Roman emperor 
never to undertake anything until he had said twenty-four letters to him- 
self. The emperor was so grateful for this advice that he kept Athen- 
odorus another year, and at last dismissed him with a rich reward, quoting 
a line from Simonides, imitated by Horace in the second ode of the third 
book : There is a certain reward even for silence. 


every one is for himself. Did it rain when I was in the 
country ? 

Ac. No. 

AR. Were you not wearied ? 

Ac. I am never wearied. 

AR. What did you do then, these nine or ten days ? 

Ac. Six shirts, I think, and six nightcaps also. 

AR. (After musing). The world, dear Agnes, is a 
strange place. Observe the scandal/ and how everybody 
gossips. Some of the neighbours have told me that an 
unknown young man came to the house in my absence ; 
that you permitted him to see and talk to you. But I did 
not believe these slandering tongues, and I offered to bet 
that it was false . . . 

Ac. Oh, Heaven, do not bet ; you would assuredly lose. 

AR. What ! It is true that a man . . . 

Ac. Quite true. I declare to you that he was scarcely 
ever out of the house. 

AR. (Aside). This confession, so candidly made, at 
least assures me of her simplicity. {Aloud}. But I think, 
Agnes, if my memory is clear, that 1 forbade you to see 
any one. 

Ac. Yes; but you do not know why I saw him; you 
would doubtless have done as much. 

AR. Possibly; but tell me then how it was. 

Ac. It is very wonderful, and hard to believe. I was 
on the balcony, working in the open air, when I saw a 
handsome young man passing close to me under the trees, 
who, seeing me look at him, immediately bowed very 
respectfully. I, not to be rude, made him a curtsey. Sud- 
denly he made another bow; I quickly made another 
curtsey; and when he repeated it for the third time, I 
answered it directly with a third curtsey. He went on, 
returned, went past again, and each time made me an- 
other bow. And I, who was looking earnestly at all these 
acts of politeness, returned him as many curtseys ; so that 
if night had not fallen just then, I should have kept on 
continually in that way; not wishing to yield, and have 
the vexation of his thinking me less civil than himself. 

AR. Very good. 

Ac. Next day, being at the door, an old woman ac- 


costed me, and said to me something like this; ie My child, 
may good Heaven bless you, and keep you long in all 
your beauty. It did not make you such a lovely creature 
to abuse its gifts ; you must know that you have wounded 
a heart which to-day is driven to complain." 

AR. (Aside). Oh, tool of Satan ! damnable wretch ! 

Ac. "Have I wounded any one?" I answered, quite 
astonished. "Yes," she said, "wounded; you have in- 
deed wounded a gentleman. It is him you saw yesterday 
from the balcony." "Alas!" said I, "what could have 
been the cause? Did I, without thinking, let anything 
fall on him?" "No," replied she; "it was your eyes 
which gave the fatal blow; from their glances came all 
his injury." "Alas! good Heaven," said I, "I am more 
than ever surprised. Do my eyes contain something 
bad, that they can give it to other people?" "Yes," 
cried she, "your eyes, my girl, have a poison to hurt 
withal, of which you know nothing. In a word, the poor 
fellow pines away; and if," continued the charitable old 
woman, " your cruelty refuses him assistance, it is likely 
he shall be carried to his grave in a couple of days." 
"Bless me! " said I, "I would be very sorry for that; but 
what assistance does he require of me?" "My child," 
said she, "he requests only the happiness of seeing and 
conversing with you. Your eyes alone can prevent his 
ruin, and cure the disease they have caused." "Oh! 
gladly," said I; "and, since it is so, he may come to see 
me here as often as he likes." 

AR. (Aside). O cursed witch ! poisoner of souls ! may 
hell reward your charitable tricks ! 

Ac. That is how he came to see me, and got cured. 
Now tell me, frankly, if I was not right? And could I, 
after all, have the conscience to let him die for lack of 
aid? I, who feel so much pity for suffering people, and 
cannot see a chicken die without weeping ! 

AR. (Aside). All this comes only from an innocent 
soul; I blame my imprudent absence for it, which left 
this kindliness of heart without a protector, exposed to 
the wiles of artful seducers. I fear that the rascal, in his 
bold passion, has carried the matter somewhat beyond a 


Ac. What ails you? I think you are a little angry. 
Was there anything wrong in what I have told you? 

AR. No. But tell me what followed, and how the 
young man behaved during his visits. 

Ac. Alas ! if you but knew how delighted he was ; how 
he got rid of his illness as soon as I saw him, the present lie 
made me of a lovely casket, and the money which Alain 
and Georgette have had from him, you would no doubt 
love him, and say, as we say . . . 

AR. Yes. But what did he do when he was alone with you ? 

Ac. He swore that he loved me with an unequalled 
passion, and said the prettiest words possible, things that 
nothing ever can equal, the sweetness of which charms me 
whenever I hear him speak, and moves I know not what 
within me. 

AR. (Aside). Oh ! sad inquiry into a fatal mystery, in 
which the inquirer alone suffers all the pain. (Aloud}. 
Besides all these speeches, all these pretty compliments, 
did he not also bestow a few caresses on you ? 

Ac. Oh, so many ! He took my hands and my arms, 
and was never tired of kissing them. 

AR. Agnes, did he take nothing else from you ? (Seeing 
her confused). Ugh ! 

Ac. Why, he ... 

AR. What? 

Ac. Took . . . 

AR. Ugh! 

AG. The . . . 

AR. Well? 

Ac. I dare not tell you; you will perhaps be angry 
with me. 

AR. No. 

Ac. Yes, but you will. 

AR. Good Heavens ! no. 

Ac. Swear on your word. 

AR. On my word, then. 

Ac. He took my . . . You will be in a passion. 

AR. No. 

Ac. Yes. 

AR. No, no, no, no ! What the devil is this mystery ? 
What did he take from you ? 


Ac. He ... 

AR. (Aside}. I am suffering the torments of the 

Ac. He took away from me the* ribbon you gave me. 
To tell you the truth, I could not prevent him. 

AR. {Drawing his breath}. Oh ! let the ribbon go. 
But I want to know if he did nothing to you but kiss 
your arms. 

Ac. Why ! do people do other things ? 

AR. Not at all. But, to cure the disorder which lie 
said had seized him, did he not ask you for any other 
remedy ? 

Ac. No. You may judge that I would have granted 
him anything to do him good, if he had asked for it. 

AR. (Aside). By the kindness of Heaven, I am cheaply 
out of it ! May I be blessed if I fall into such a mistake 
again ! (Aloud). Pooh ! That is the result of your in- 
nocence, Agnes. I shall say no more about it. What is 
done is done. I know that, by flattering you, the gallant 
only wishes to deceive you, and to laugh at you afterwards. 

AG. Oh, no ! He told me so more than a score of 

AR. Ah ! you do not know that he is not to be be- 
lieved. But, now, learn that to accept caskets, and to 
listen to the nonsense of these handsome fops, 13 to allow 
them languidly to kiss your hands and charm your heart, 
is a mortal sin, and one of the greatest that can be com- 

Ac. A sin, do you say? And why, pray? 

AR. Why? The reason is the absolute law that Heaven 
is incensed by such doings. 

Ac. Incensed ! But why should it be incensed ? Ah, 
it is so sweet and agreeable ! How strange is the joy one 
feels from all this ; up to this time I was ignorant of these 

AR. Yes, all these tender passages, these pretty speeches 
and sweet caresses, are a great pleasure ; but they must 
be enjoyed in an honest manner, and their sin should be 
taken away by marriage. 

11 The original has beaux blondint. Seepage 264, note 7. 


Ac. Is it no longer a sin when one is married ? 

AR. No. 

Ac. Then please marry me quickly. 

AR. If you wish it, I wish it also; I have returned 
hither for the purpose of marrying you. 

AG. Is that possible ? 

AR. Yes. 

Ac. How happy you will make me ! 

AR. Yes, I have no doubt that marriage will please you. 

AG. Then we two shall .... 

AR. Nothing is more certain. 

AG. How I shall caress you, if this comes to pass. 

AR. Ha ! And I shall do the same to you. 

AG. I can never tell when people are jesting. Do you 
speak seriously ? 

AR. Yes, you might see that I do. 

Ac. We are to be married ? 

AR. Yes. 

Ac. But when ? 

AR. This very evening. 

Ac. (Laughing). This very evening? 

AR. This very evening. Does that make you laugh ? 

AG. Yes. 

AR. To see you happy is my desire. 

AG. Oh, how greatly I am obliged to you, and what 
satisfaction I shall have with him ! 

AR. With whom ? 

Ac. With .... him there .... 

AR. Him there ! I am not speaking of him there. 
You are a little quick in selecting a husband. In a word, 
it is some one else whom I have ready for you. And as 
for that gentleman, I require, by your leave (though the 
illness of which he accuses you should be the death of 
him), that henceforth you break off all intercourse with 
him ; that, when he comes to the house, you will, by way 
of compliment, just shut the door in his face; throw a 
stone out of the window at him when he knocks, and 
oblige him in good earnest never to appear again. Do 
you hear me, Agnes ? I shall observe your behaviour, 
concealed in a recess. 

AG. Oh dear, he is so handsome ! He is .... 


AR. Ha ! How you are talking ! 
AG. I shall not have the heart .... 
AR. No more chatter. Go up stairs 
AG. But surely ! Will you .... 

AR. Enough. I am master ; I command ; do you go 
and obey. 


AR. Yes, all has gone well ; my joy is extreme. You 
have obeyed my orders to perfection, and brought the fair 
seducer 1 * to utter confusion. See what it is to have a wise 
counsellor. Your innocence, Agnes, had been betrayed ; 
look what you had been brought to, before you had been 
aware of it. You were treading, deprived of my warn- 
ings, right-down the broad path to hell and perdition. 
The way of all these young fops is but too well known. 
They have their fine rolls, plenty of ribbons and plumes, 
big wigs, good teeth, a smooth address ; but I tell you 
they have the cloven foot beneath ; and they are very 
devils, whose corrupt appetites try to prey upon the hon- 
our of women. This time, however, thanks to the care 
that has been taken, you have escaped with your virtue. 
The style in which I saw you throw that stone at him, 
which has dashed the hopes of all his plans, still more de- 
termines me not to delay the marriage for which I told you 
to prepare. But, before all, it is well I should speak a few 
words with you which may be salutary. (To Georgette 
and Alain). Bring out a chair in the open air. As for 
you, if you ever . . . 

GEO. We shall take care to remember all your instruc- 
tions, that other gentleman imposed on us, but . . . 

AL. If he ever gets in here, may I never drink another 
drop. Besides he is a fool. He gave us two gold crowns 
the other day, which were under weight. 15 

AR. Well, get what I ordered for supper ; and as to the 

u The original has blondin seducteur. See page 264, and note 7. 

15 The clipping of coin was very common at that time. The golden 
crown was then worth five livres four sous, and would be now of the 
value of ten francs and a-half. 


contract I spoke of, let one of you fetch the notary who 
lives at the corner of the market-place. 


AR. (Seatect). Agnes, put your work down, and listen 
to me. Raise your head a little, and turn your face round. 
(Putting his finger on his forehead}. There, look at me 
here while I speak, and take good note of even the small- 
est word. I am going to wed you, Agnes ; you ought to 
bless your stars a hundred times a day, to think of your 
former low estate, and at the same time, to wonder at my 
goodness in raising you from a poor country girl to the 
honourable rank of a citizen's wife ; to enjoy the bed and 
the embraces of a man who has shunned all such trammels, 
and whose heart has refused to a score of women, well 
fitted to please, the honour which he intends to confer on 
you. You must always keep in mind, I say, how insigni- 
ficant you would be without this glorious alliance, in 
order that the picture may teach you the better to merit 
the condition in which I shall place you, and make you 
always know yourself, so that I may never repent of what 
I am doing. Marriage, Agnes, is no joke. The posi- 
tion of a wife calls for strict duties; I do not mean to 
exalt you to that condition, in order that you may be 
free and take your ease. Your sex is formed for depen- 
dence. Omnipotence goes with the beard. Though 
there are two halves in the connection, yet these two 
halves are by no means equal. The one half is supreme, 
the other subordinate: the one is all submission to the 
other which rules; the obedience which the well dis- 
ciplined soldier shows to his leader, the servant to his 
master, a child to his parent, the lowest rnonk to his 
superior, is far below the docility, obedience, humility, 
and profound respect due from the wife to her husband, 
her chief, her lord, and her master. When he looks at 
her gravely, her duty is at once to lower her eyes, never 
daring to look him in the face, until he chooses to favour 
her with a tender glance. Our women now-a-days do not 
understand this ; but do not be spoiled by the example of 
others. Take care not to imitate those miserable flirts 
whose pranks are talked of all over the city; and do not 


let the evil one tempt you, that is, do not listen to any 
young coxcomb. Remember, Agnes, that, in making you 
part of my self, I give my honour into your hands, which 
honour is fragile, and easily damaged; that it will not do 
to trifle in such a matter, and that there are boiling caul- 
drons in hell, into which wives who live wickedly are 
thrown for evermore. I am not telling you a parcel of 
stories; you ought to let these lessons sink into your 
heart. If you practice them sincerely, and take care not 
to flirt, your soul will ever be white and spotless as a lily ; 
but if you stain your honour, it will become as black as 
coal. You will seem hideous to all, and one day you 
will become the devil's own property, and boil in hell to 
all eternity from which may the goodness of Heaven 
defend you ! Make a curtsey. As a novice in a convent 
ought to know her duties by heart, so it ought to be on 
getting married : here in my pocket I have an important 
document which will teach you the duty of a wife. I do 
not know the author, but it is some good soul or other ; 
and I desire that this shall be your only study. (Rises). 
Stay. Let me see if you can read it fairly. 

Ac. ' (Reads), " The Maxims of Marriage; or the 
Duties of a Wife; together with her Daily Exercise. 

" First Maxim. 

"She who is honourably wed should remember, not- 
withstanding the fashion now-a-days, that the man who 
marries does not take a wife for anyone but himself." 

AR. I shall explain what that means, but at present let 
us only read. 

Ac. ( Continues) 

' ' Second Maxim. 

" She ought not to bedeck herself more than her hus- 
band likes. The care of her beauty concerns him alone ; 
and if others think her plain, that must go for nothing. 

" Third Maxim. 

" Far from her be the study of ogling, washes, paints, 
pomatums, and the thousand preparations for a good com- 
plexion. These are ever fatal poisons to honour ; and the 


pains bestowed to look beautiful are seldom taken for a 

"Fourth Maxim. 

" When she goes out, she should conceal the glances of 
her eyes beneath her hood, as honour requires ; for in 
order to please her husband rightly, she should please 
none else. 

"Fifth Maxim. 

"It is fit that she receive none but those who visit her 
husband. The gallants that have no business but with the 
wife, are not agreeable to the husband. 

"Sixth Maxim. 

" She must firmly refuse presents from men, for in these 
days nothing is given for nothing. 

"Seventh Maxim. 

"Amongst her furniture, however she dislikes it, there 
must be neither writing-desk, ink, paper, nor pens. Ac- 
cording to all good rules everything written in the house 
should be written by the husband. 

" Eighth Maxim. 

" Those disorderly meetings, called social gatherings, 
ever corrupt the minds of women. It is good policy to 
forbid them; for there they conspire against the poor 

"Ninth Maxim. 

" Every woman who wishes to preserve her honour 
should abstain from gambling as a plague ; for play is very 
seductive, and often drives a woman to put down her last 

" Tenth Maxim. 

"She must not venture on public promenades nor pic- 
nics ; for wise men are of opinion that it is always the hus- 
band who pays for such treats. 

"Eleventh Maxim . . ." 
AR. You shall finish it by yourself; and, by and by, I 


shall explain these things to you properly, word for word. 
I bethink myself of an engagement. I have but one word 
to say, and I shall not stay long. Go in again, and take 
special care of this volume. If the notary comes, let him 
wait for me a short time. 


I cannot do better than make her my wife. I shall be 
able to mould her as I please ; she is like a bit of wax in 
my hands, and I can give her what shape I like. She was 
near being wiled away from me in my absence through her 
excess of simplicity; but, to say the truth, it is better that 
a wife should err on that side. The cure for these faults 
is easy ; every simple person is docile ; and if she is led 
out of the right way, a couple of words will instantly bring 
her back again. But a clever woman is quite another sort 
of animal. Our lot depends only on her judgment ; nought 
can divert her from what she is set on, and our teaching in 
such a case is futile. Her wit avails her to ridicule our 
maxims, often to turn her vices into virtues, and to find 
means to cheat the ablest, so as to compass her own ends. 
We labour in vain to parry the blow ; a clever woman is a 
devil at intrigue, and when her whim has mutely passed 
sentence on our honour, we must knock under. Many 
good fellows could tell as much. But my blundering 
friend shall have no cause to laugh ; he has reaped the har- 
vest of his gossip. This is the general fault of Frenchmen. 
When they have a love adventure, secrecy bores them, and 
silly vanity has so many charms for them, that they would 
rather hang themselves than hold their tongues. Ah ! wo- 
men are an easy prey to Satan when they go and choose 
such addle-pates ! And when . . . But here he is ... 
I must dissemble, and find out how he has been mortified. 


HOR. I am come from your house. Fate seems resolved 
that I shall never meet you there. But I shall go so often 
that some time or other . . . 

AR. Bah, for goodness sake, do not let us begin these 
idle compliments. Nothing vexes me like ceremony ; and, 


if I could have my way, it should be abolished. It is a 
wretched custom, and most people foolishly waste two- 
thirds of their time on it. Let us put on our hat, without 
more ado. (Puts on his hat). Well, how about your love 
affair? May I know, Mr. Horace, how it goes? I was 
diverted for a while by some business that came into my 
head; but since then I have been thinking of it. I ad- 
mire the rapidity of your commencement, and am inte- 
rested in the issue. 

HOR. Indeed, since I confided in you, my love has been 

AR. Ay! How so? 

HOR. Cruel fate has brought her governor back from 
the country. 

AR. What bad luck ! 

HOR. Moreover, to my great sorrow, he has discovered 
what has passed in private between us. 

AR. How the deuce could he discover this affair so soon ? 

HOR. I do not know; but it certainly is so. I meant, at 
the usual hour, to pay a short visit to my young charmer, 
when, with altered voice and looks, her two servants barred 
my entrance, and somewhat rudely shut the door in my 
face, saying " Begone, you bring us into trouble ! " 

AR. The door in your face ! 

HOR. In my face. 

AR. That was rather hard. 

HOR. I wished to speak to them through the door ; but 
to all I said their only answer was, " You shan't come in; 
master has forbidden it." 

AR. Did they not open the door then ? 

Hor. No. And Agnes from the window made me more 
certain as to her master's return, by bidding me begone 
in a very angry tone, and flinging a stone at me into the 

AR. What, a stone ? 

HOR. Not a small one either; that was how she re- 
warded my visit with her own hands. 

AR. The devil ! These are no trifles. Your affair 
seems to me in a bad way. 

HOR. True, I am in a quandary through this unlucky 


AR. Really I am sorry for you ; I declare I am. 

HOR. This fellow mars all. 

AR. Yes ; but that is nothing. You will find a way to 
recover yourself. 

HOR. I must try by some device to baffle the strict 
watch of this jealous fellow. 

AR. That will be easy : after all the girl loves you. 

HOR. Doubtless. 

AR. You will compass your end. 

HOR. I hope so. 

AR. The stone has put you out, but you cannot wonder 
at it. 

HOR. True ; and I understood in a moment that my 
rival was there, and that he was directing all without being 
seen. But what surprised me, and will surprise you, is 
another incident I am going to tell you of; a bold stroke 
of this lovely girl, which one could not have expected from 
her simplicity. Love, it must be allowed, is. an able 
master ; he teaches* us to be what we never were before ; 
a complete change in our manners- is often the work of a 
moment under his tuition. He breaks through the impedi- 
ments in our nature, and his sudden feats have the air of 
miracles. In an instant he makes the miser liberal, a 
coward brave, a churl polite. He renders the dullest soul 
fit for anything, and gives wit to the most simple. Yes, 
this last miracle is surprising in Agnes ; for, blurting out 
these very words: "Begone, I am resolved never to re- 
ceive your visits. I know all you would say, and there is 
my answer! " this stone, or pebble, at which you are 
surprised, fell at my feet, with a letter. I greatly admire 
this note, chiming in with the significance of her words, 
and the casting of the stone. Are you not surprised by 
such an action as this ? Does not love know how to 
sharpen the understanding ? And can it be denied that 
his ardent flames have marvellous effects on the heart ? 
What say you of the trick, and of the letter? Ah, do you 
not admire her dunning contrivance ? Is it not amusing 
to see what a part my jealous rival has played in all this 
game? Say . . . 

AR. Ay, very amusing. 

HOR. Laugh at it, then. (Arnalphc forces a laugh. This 


fellow, garrisoned against my passion, who shuts himself 
up in his house, and seems provided with stones, as though 
I were preparing to enter by storm, who, in his ridiculous 
terror, encourages all his household to drive me away, is 
tricked before his very eyes by her whom he would keep 
in the utmost ignorance ! For my part, I confess that, 
although his return throws my love affair into disorder, I 
think all this so exceedingly comical, that I cannot forbear 
laughing at it whenever it comes into my head. It seems 
to me that you do not laugh at it half enough. 

AR. ( With a forced laugh). I beg pardon ; I laugh at 
it as much as I can. 

HOR. But I must shew you her letter, for friendship's 
sake. Her hand knew how to set down all that her heart 
felt ; but in such touching terms, so kind, so innocently 
tender, so ingenuous in a word, just as an unaffected 
nature confesses its first attack of love. 

AR. (Softly). This is the use you make of writing, you 
hussey. It was against my wish you ever learned it. 

HOR. (Reads). "I wish to write to you, but I am at a 
loss how to begin. I have some thoughts which I should 
like you lo know; but I do not know how to tell them to you^ 
and I mistrust my own words. As I begin to feel that I 
have been always kept in ignorance, I fear to say something 
which is not -right, and to express more than I ought. In 
fact I do not know what you have done to me; but I feel 
that I am desperately vexed at what I am made to do against 
you, that it will be the hardest thing in the world for me to 
do without you, and that I should be very glad to be with you. 
Perhaps it is wrong to say that, but the truth is I cannot 
help saying it, and I wish it could be brought about with- 
out harm. I am assured that all young men are de- 
ceivers, that they must not be listened to, and that all you 
told me was but to deceive me; but I assure you I have not 
yet come to believe that of you, and I am so touched by your 
words that I could not believe them false. Tell me frankly 
if they be : for, to be brief, as I am without an evil thought, 
you would be extremely wicked to deceive me, and I think 
I should die of vexation at such a thing. 1 ' 

AR. {Aside'). Ah, the cat I 

HOR. What is wrong ? 


AR. Wrong ? Nothing ! I was only coughing. 

HOR. Have you ever heard a more tender expression ? 
In spite of the cursed endeavours of unreasonable power, 
could you imagine a more genuine nature ? Is it not be- 
yond doubt a terrible crime villainously to mar such an 
admirable spirit, to try to stifle this bright soul in igno- 
rance and stupidity ? Love has begun to tear away the 
veil, and if, thanks to some lucky star, I can deal, as I 
hope, with this sheer animal, this wretch, this hang-dog, 
this scoundrel, this brute . . . 

AR. Good-bye. 

HOR. Why are you in such a hurry ? 

AR. It just occurs to me that I have a pressing engage- 

HOR. But do you not know anyone, for you live close 
by, who could get access to this house ? I am open with 
you, and it is the usual thing for* friends to help each 
other in these cases. I have no one there now except 
people who watch me ; maid and man, as I just experi- 
enced, would not cease their rudeness and listen to me, 
do what I would. I had for some time in my interest an 
old woman of remarkable shrewdness ; in fact more than 
human. She served me well in the beginning ; but the 
poor woman died four days ago. Can, you not devise 
some plan for me ? 

AR. No, really. You will easily find some one with- 
out me. 

HOR. Good-by then. You see what confidence I put 
in you. 


How I am obliged to suffer before him ! How hard it 
is to conceal my gnawing pain ! What ! Such ready wit 
in a simpleton ? The traitress has pretended to be so to 
my face, or the devil has breathed this cunning into her 
heart. But now that cursed letter is the death of me. I 
see that the rascal has corrupted her mind, and has estab- 
lished himself there in my stead. This is despair and 
deadly anguish for me. I suffer doubly by being robbed 
of her heart, for love as well as honour is injured by it. 
It drives me mad to find my place usurped, and I am en- 


raged to see my prudence defeated. I know that to 
punish her guilty passion I have only to leave her to her 
evil fate, and that I shall be revenged on her by herself; 
but it is very vexatious to lose what we love. Good 
Heaven ! after employing so much philosophy in my 
choice, why am I to be so terribly bewitched by her 
charms ? She has neither relatives, friends, nor money ; 
she abuses my care, my kindness, my tenderness ; and yet 
I love her to distraction, even after this base trick! Fool, 
have you no shame? Ah, I cannot contain myself; I am 
mad ; I could punch my head a thousand times over. I 
shall go in for a little ; but only to see what she looks like 
after so vile a deed. Oh Heaven, grant that my brow may 
escape dishonour ; or rather, if it is decreed that I must 
endure it, at least grant me, under such misfortunes, that 
fortitude with which few are endowed. 



I declare I cannot rest anywhere ; my mind is troubled 
by a thousand cares, thinking how to contrive, both in- 
doors and out, so as to frustrate the attempts of this cox- 
comb. With what assurance the traitress stood the sight 
of me ! She is not a whit moved by all that she has done, 
and though she has brought me within an inch of the 
grave, one could swear, to look at her, that she had no 
hand in it. The more composed she looked when I saw 
her, the more I was enraged, and those ardent transports 
which inflamed my heart seemed to redouble my great 
love for her. 1 was provoked, angry, incensed against 
her, and yet I never saw her look so lovely. Her eyes 
never seemed to me so bright ; never before did they in- 
spire me with such vehement desires ; I feel that it will be 
the death of me, if my evil destiny should bring upon me 
this disgrace. What ! I have brought her up with so much 
tenderness and forethought ; I have had her with me from 
her infancy ; I have indulged in the fondest hopes about 
her ; my heart trusted to her growing charms ; I have 
fondled her as my own for thirteen years, as I imagined, 


all for a young fool, with whom she is in love, to come 
and carry her off before my face, and that when she is 
already half married to me ! No, by Heaven no, by 
Heaven, my foolish young friend ; you will be a cunning 
fellow to overturn my scheme, for, upon my word, all 
your hopes will be in vain, and you shall find no reason 
for laughing at me ! 


NOT. Ah, there he is. Good-day. Here I am, ready 
to draw up the contract which you wish. 

AR. (Not seeing or hearing him). How is it to be 

NOT. It must be in the usual form. 

AR. (Thinking himself alone). I shall take the greatest 
possible care. 

NOT. I shall do nothing contrary to your interests. 

AR. (Not seeing him). I must guard against all sur- 

NOT. It is enough that your affairs are placed in my 
hands. For fear of deception, you must not sign the 
contract before receiving the portion. 

AR. (Thinking himself alone). I fear, if I let anything 
get abroad, that this business will become town talk. 

NOT. Well, it is easy to avoid this publicity, and your 
contract can be drawn up privately. 

AR. {Thinking himself alone). But how shall I manage 
it with her? 

NOT. The jointure should be proportionate to the for- 
tune she brings you. 

AR. (Not seeing him). I love her, and that love is my 
great difficulty. 

NOT. In that case the wife may have so much the more. 

AR. (Thinking himself alone). How can I act towards 
her in such a case ? 

NOT. The regular way is that the husband that is to be 
settles on the wife that is to be a third of her marriage 
portion as a jointure; but this rule goes for nothing, and 
you may do a great deal more if you have a mind to it. 

AR. If ... (Seeing him). 


NOT. As for the preciput, 16 that is a question for both 
sides. I say the husband can settle on his wife what he 
thinks proper. 

AR. Eh? 

NOT. He can benefit her, when he loves her much, and 
wishes to do her a favour, and that by way of jointure, or 
settlement as it is called, which is lost upon her death ; 
either without reversion, going from her to her heirs, or 
by statute, as people have a mind, or by actual deed of 
gift in form, which may be made either single or mutual. 
Why do you shrug your shoulders? Am I talking like a 
fool, or do I not understand contracts ? Who can teach 
me? No one, I imagine. Do I not know that when 
people are married, they have a joint right to all movea- 
bles, moneys, fixtures, and acquisitions, unless they resign 
it by act of renunciation ? Do I not know that a third 
part of the portion of the wife that is to be becomes com- 
mon, in order . . . 

AR. Yes, verily, you know all this ; but who has said 
one word to you about it ? 

NOT. You, who seem to take me for a fool, shrugging 
your shoulders, and making faces at me. 

AR. Hang the man and his beastly face ! Good day : 
that's the way to get rid of you. 

NOT. Was I not brought here to draw up a contract ? 

AR. Yes, I sent for you. But the business is put off; 
I shall send for you again when the time is fixed. What 
a devil of a fellow he is with his jabbering ! 

NOT. (Alone). I think he is mad, and I believe I am 


NOT. Did you not come to fetch me to your master ? 
AL. Yes. 

NOT. I do not know what you think ; but go and tell 
him from me that he is a downright fool. 
GEO. We will not fail. 

18 Preciput is an advantage stipulated by the marriage-contract, in 
favour of the survivor, and which is taken from the joint fund before 
the property is divided. 



GEO. Sir ... 

AR. Come here ! You are my faithful, my good, my 
real friends ; I have news for you. 

AL. The notary . . . 

AR. Never mind; some other day for that. A foul 
plot is contrived against my honour. What a disgrace it 
would be for you, my children, if your master's honour 
were taken away ! After that, you would not dare to be 
seen anywhere ; for whoever saw you would point at you. 
So, since the affair concerns you as well as me, you must 
take care that this spark may not in any way . . . 

GEO. You have tanght us our lesson just now. 

AR. But take care not to listen to his fine speeches. 

AL. Oh, certainly . . . 

GEO. We know how to deny him. 

AR. Suppose he should come now, wheedling: "Alain 
my good fellow cheer my drooping spirits by a little help. ' ' 

AL. You are a fool. 

AR. You are right! (To Georgette). " Georgette, my 
darling, you look so sweet-tempered and so kind ! " 

GEO. You are a lout. 

AR. You are right. (To Alain). "What harm -do you 
find in an honest and perfectly virtuous scheme?" 

AL. You are a rogue. 

AR. Capital! (To Georgette). "I shall surely die if 
you do not take pity on my sufferings." 

GEO. You are a brazen-faced blockhead. 

AR. First-rate! (To Alain). "I am not one who ex- 
pects something for nothing ; I can remember those who 
serve me. Here, Alain, is a trifle in advance, to have a 
drink with; and, Georgette, here is wherewith to buy you 
a petticoat. (Both hold out their hands and take the money) . 
This is only an earnest of what I intend to do for you ; I 
ask no other favour but that you will let me see your 
pretty mistress. ' ' 

GEO. (Pushing hint). Try your games elsewhere. 

AR. That was good. 

AL. (Pushing him). Get out of this. 

AR. Very good ! 


GEO. (Pushing him). Immediately ! 

AR. Good ! Hulloa, that is enough. 

GEO. Am I not doing right ? 

AL. Is this how you would have us act ? 

AR. Yes, capital; except for the money, which you 
must not take. 

GEO. We did not think of that. 

AL. Shall we begin again now ? 

AR. No. It is enough. Go in, both of you. 

AL. You need only say so. 

AR. No, I tell you; go in when I desire you. You 
may keep the money. Go. I shall soon be with you 
again ; keep your eyes open, and second my efforts. 


I will get the cobbler, who lives at the corner of the 
street, to be my spy, and tell me everything. I mean to 
keep her always indoors, watch her constantly . . . and 
banish in particular all sellers of ribbons, tire-women, 
hair-dressers, kerchief-makers, glove-sellers, dealers in 
left-off apparel, and all those folks who make it their busi- 
ness clandestinely to bring people together who are in 
love. In fact, I have seen the world, and understand its 
tricks. My spark must be very cunning, if a love-letter 
or message gets in here. 


HOR. How lucky I am to meet you here ? I had a nar- 
row escape just now, I can assure you. As I left you, I 
unexpectedly saw Agnes alone on her balcony, breathing 
the fresh air from the neighbouring trees. After giving 
me a sign, she contrived to come down into the garden 
and open the door. But we were scarcely into her room 
before she heard her jealous gentleman upon the stairs ; 
and all she could do in such a case was to lock me into a 
large wardrobe. He entered the room at once. I did not 
see him, but I heard him walking up and down at a great 
rate, without saying a word, but sighing desperately at in- 
tervals, and occasionally thumping the table, striking a 
little frisky dog, and madly throwing about whatever came 
in his way. In his rage he broke the very vases with 


which the beauty had adorned her mantel-piece ; doubt- 
less the tricks she played must have come to the ears of 
this cuckold in embryo. At last, having in a score of 
ways vented his passion on things that could not help 
themselves, my restless jealous gentleman left the room 
without saying what disturbed him, and I left my ward- 
robe. We would not stay long together, for fear of my 
rival ; it would have been too great a risk. But late to- 
night I am to enter her room without making a noise. 
I am to announce myself by three hems, and then the 
window is to be opened ; whereby, with a ladder, and the 
help of Agnes, my love will try to gain me admittance. 
I tell you this as my only friend. Joy is increased by im- 
parting it; and should we taste perfect bliss a hundred 
times over, it would not satisfy us unless it were known 
to some one. I believe you will sympathize in my success. 
Good-bye. I am going to make the needful preparations. 


What, will the star which is bent on driving me to de- 
spair allow me no time to breathe? Am I to see, through 
their mutual understanding, my watchful care and .my 
wisdom defeated one after another? Must I, in my ma- 
ture age, become the dupe of a simple girl and a scatter- 
brained young fellow ? For twenty years, like a discreet 
philosopher, I have been musing on the wretched fate of 
married men, and have carefully informed myself of the 
accidents which plunge the most prudent into misfortune. 
Profiting in my own mind by the disgrace of others, and 
having a wish to marry, I sought how to secure my fore- 
head from attack, and prevent its being matched with those 
of other men. For this noble end, I thought I had put in 
practice all that human policy could invent ; but, as though 
it were decreed by fate that no man here below should be 
exempt from it, after all my experience and the knowledge 
I have been able to glean of such matters, after more than 
twenty years of meditation, so as to guide myself with all 
precaution, I have avoided the tracks of so many husbands 
to find myself after all involved in the same disgrace! 
Ah, cursed fate, you shall yet be a liar ! I am still pos- 


sessor of the loved one; if her heart be stolen by this 
obnoxious fop, I shall at least take care that he does not 
seize anything else. This night, which they have chosen 
for their pretty plan, shall not be spent so agreeably as 
they anticipate. It is some pleasure to me, amidst all 
this, to know that he has warned me of the snare he is 
laying, and that this blunderer, who would be my ruin, 
makes a confidant of his own rival. 


CH. Well, shall we take our supper before our walk? 

AR. No, I fast to-night. 

CH. Whence this fancy? 

AR. Pray excuse me ; there is something that hinders 

CH. Is not your intended marriage to take place? 

AR. You take too much trouble about other people's 

CH. Oh ho, so snappish? What ails you? Have you 
encountered any little mishap in your love, my friend? 
By your face I could almost swear you have. 

AR. Whatever happens, I shall at least have the advan- 
tage of being unlike some folks, who meekly suffer the vi- 
sits of gallants. 

CH. It is an odd thing that, with so much intelligence, 
you always get so frightened at these matters ; that you set 
your whole happiness on this, and imagine no other kind 
of honour in the world. To be a miser, a brute, a rogue, 
wicked and cowardly, is nothing in your mind compared 
with this stain; and however a man may have lived, he is 
a man of honour if he is not a cuckold. After all, why 
do you imagine that our glory depends on such an acci- 
dent, and that a virtuous mind must reproach itself for the 
evil which it cannot prevent ? Tel! me, why do you hold 
that a man in taking a wife deserves praise or blame for 
the choice he makes, and why do you form a frightful bug- 
bear out of the offence caused by her want of fidelity? Be 
persuaded that a man of honour may have a less serious 
notion of cuckoldom ; that as none is secure from strokes 
of chance, this accident ought to be a matter of indiffer- 
ence ; and that all the evil, whatever the world may say, is 


in the mode of receiving it. To behave well under these 
difficulties, as in all else, a man must shun extremes ; not 
ape those over-simple folks who are proud of such affairs, 
and are ever inviting the gallants of their wives, praising 
them everywhere, and crying them up, displaying their 
sympathy with them, coming to all their entertainments 
and all their meetings, and making everyone wonder at 
their having the assurance to show their faces there. This 
way of acting is no doubt highly culpable ; but the other 
extreme is no less to be condemned. If I do not approve 
of such as are the friends of their wives' gallants ; no more 
do I approve of your violent men whose indiscreet resent- 
ment, full of rage and fury, draws the eyes of all the world 
on them by its noise, and who seem, from their outbreaks, 
unwilling that any one should be ignorant of what is wrong 
with them. There is a mean between these extremes, where 
a wise man stops in such a case. When we know how to 
take it, there is no reason to blush for the worst a woman 
can do to us. In short, say what you will, cuckolding 
may easily be made to seem less terrible ; and, as I told 
you before, all your dexterity lies in being able to turn the 
best side outwards. 

AR. After this fine harangue, all the brotherhood owes 
your worship thanks ; any one who hears you speak will be 
delighted to enrol himself. 

CH. I do not say that ; for that is what I have found 
fault with. But as fortune gives us a wife, I say that we 
should act as we do when we gamble with dice, when, if 
you do not' get what you want, you must be shrewd and 
good-tempered, to amend your luck by good manage- 
ment. " 

AR. That is, sleep and eat well, and persuade yourself 
that it is all nothing. 

CH. You think to make a joke of it ; but, to be candid, 
I know a hundred things in the world more to be dreaded, 

17 This is from Terence's Adelphi, Act iv., Scene 8, where he says: 
Life is like a game where dice are employed. If we do not get the chance 
we need, the science of the player ought to correct fate. It may perhaps 
not be unnecessary to hint that the whole of Chrysalde's speeches are 
meant ironically, and are an imitation of the ancient fabliaux and of Ra- 


and which I should think a much greater misfortune, than 
the accident you are so grievously afraid of. Do yon think 
that, in choosing between the two alternatives, I should 
not prefer to be what you say, rather than see myself 
married to one of those good creatures whose ill-humour 
makes a quarrel out of nothing those dragons of virtue, 
those respectable she-devils, ever piquing themselves on 
their wise conduct, who, because they do not do us a 
trifling wrong, take on themselves to behave haughtily, 
and, because they are faithful to us, expect that we should 
bear everything from them? Once more, my friend, 
know that cuckoldom is just what we make of it, that on 
some accounts it is even to be desired, and that it has its 
pleasures like other things. 

AR. If you are of a mind to be satisfied with it, I am 
not disposed to try it myself; and rather than submit to 
such a thing . . . 

CH. Bless me ! do not swear, lest you should be for- 
sworn. If fate has willed it, your precautions are useless ; 
and your advice will not be taken in the matter. 

AR. I ! I a cuckold ! 

CH. You are in a bad way. A thousand folks are so 
I mean no offence who, for bearing, courage, fortune and 
family, would scorn comparison with you. 

AR. And I, on my side, will not draw comparisons with 
them. But, let me tell you, this pleasantry annoys me. 
Let us have done with it, if you please. 

CH. You are in a passion. We shall know the cause. 
Good-bye ; but remember, whatever your honour prompts 
you to do in this business, to swear you will never be what 
we have talked of is half-way towards being it. 

AR. And I swear it again ! I am going this instant to 
find a good remedy against such an accident. 


AR. My friends, now is the time that I beg your assist- 
ance. I am touched by your affection ; but it must be 
well proved on this occasion ; and if you serve me in this, 
as I am sure you will, you may count on your reward. 
The man you wot of (but not a word !) seeks, as I under- 
stand, to trick me this very night, and enter, by a ladder, 


into Agnes' room. But we three must lay a trap for him. I 
would have each of you take a good cudgel, and, when he 
shall .be nearly on the top round of the ladder (for I shall 
open the window at the proper time), both of you shall 
fall on the rascal for me, so that his back may be sure to 
remember it, in order that he may learn nevef to come 
here again. Yet do it without naming me in any way, or 
making it appear that I am behind.- Would you have the 
courage to execute my resentment ? 

AL. If the thrashing is all, sir, rely on us. You shall 
see, when I beat, if I am a slow coach. 

GEO. Though my arm may not look so strong, it shall 
play its part in the drubbing. 

AR. Get you in, then ; and, above all, mind you do not 
chatter. (Alone). This is a useful lesson for my neigh- 
bours ; if all the husbands in town were to receive their 
wives' gallants in this fashion, the number of cuckolds 
would not be so great. 



AR. Wretches ! what have you done by your violence ? 

AL. We have obeyed you, sir. 

AR. It is of no use trying to defend yourselves by such 
an excuse. My orders were to beat him, not to murder 
him. I told you to discharge your blows on his back, 
and not on his head. 18 Good Heavens! into what a 
plight my fate has now thrown me ! And what course 
can I take, as the man is dead ? Go into the house, and 
be sure to say nothing of the harmless order that I gave 
you. (Alone}. It will be daylight presently, and I shall 
go and consider how to bear myself under this misfortune. 
Alas ! what will become of me ? And what will Horace's 
father say when he shall suddenly hear of this affair ? 

18 This is imitated by Otway in The Soldier's Fortune (Act iv., Scene the 
last), when Lady Dunce and Sir Jolly Jumble accuse Sir Davy Dunce of 
having ordered Beaugard to be killed, and Sir Davy answers ; " As I hope 
to be saved, neighbour, I only bargained with 'em to bastinado him in a 
way, or so, as one Friend might do to another ; but do you say that he is 



HOR. (Aside). I must go and make out who it is. 

AR. (Thinking himself alone}. Could one ever have 
foreseen . . . (Running against Horace). Who is there, 

HOR. Is it you, Mr. Arnolphe ? 

AR. Yes ; but who are you ? 

HOR. Horace. I was going to your house to beg a 
favour. You are out very early. 

AR. (To himself aside). Wonderful! Is it magic? Is 
it a vision? 

HOR. To tell the truth, I was in a great difficulty ; I 
thank Heaven's great goodness that at the nick of time I 
thus meet you. Let me tell you that everything has suc- 
ceeded, much better even than I could have predicted, 
and by an accident which might have spoiled all. I do 
not know how our appointment could possibly have been 
suspected ; but just as I was reaching the window, I un- 
luckily saw some persons, who, unceremoniously raising 
their hand against me, made me miss my footing, and fall 
to the ground, which, at the expense of a bruise, saved 
me from a score of blows. These people, of whom, I 
fancy, my jealous rival was one, attributed my fall to their 
blows, and as the pain compelled me to lie for some time 
motionless, they honestly thought they had killed me, 
and were greatly alarmed. I heard all their noise in pro- 
found silence. Each, accusing the other of the violence, 
and complaining of their ill fortune, came softly, without 
a light, to feel if I were dead. You may imagine that I 
contrived, in the darkness of night, to assume the appear- 
ance of a real corpse. They went away in great terror ; 
and as I was thinking how I should make my escape, the 
young Agnes, frightened by my pretended death, came to 
me in great concern. For the talking of those people 
had reached her ears from the very first, and, being un- 
observed during all this commotion, she easily escaped 
from the house. But finding me unhurt, she displayed a 
transport which it would be difficult to describe. What 
more need I say? The lovely girl obeyed the promptings 
of her affection, would not return to her room, and com- 


mitted her fate to my honour. You may judge, from this 
instance of innocence, to what she is exposed by the mad 
intolerance of a fool, and what frightful risks she might 
have run, if I were a man to hold her less dear than I do. 
But too pure a passion fills my soul ; I would rather die 
than wrong her. I see in her charms worthy of a better 
fate, and nought but death shall part us. I foresee the 
rage my father will be in. But we must find an oppor- 
tunity to appease his anger. I cannot help being trans- 
ported by charms so delightful; and, in short, we must in 
this life be satisfied with our lot. What I wish you to do, 
as a confidential friend, is to let me place this beauty 
under your care ; and that, in the interest of my love, 
you will conceal her in your house for at least a day or 
two. For, besides that I must conceal her flight from 
every one, to prevent any successful pursuit of her, you 
know that a young girl, especially such a beautiful one, 
would be strongly suspected in the company of a young 
man ; and as I have trusted the whole secret of my passion 
to you, being assured of your prudence, so to you only, 
as a generous friend, can I confide this beloved trea- 

AR. Be assured I am entirely at your service. 

HOR. You will really do me so great a favour ? 

AR. Very willingly, I tell you ; I am delighted at the 
opportunity of serving you. I thank Heaven for putting 
it in my way ; I never did anything with so much pleasure. 

HOR. How much I am obliged to you for all your kind- 
ness ! I feared a difficulty on your part ; but you know 
the world, and your wisdom can excuse the ardour of 
youth. One of my servants is with her at the corner of 
this street. 

AR. But how shall we manage, for day begins to break ? 
If I take her here, I may be seen ; and if you come to my 
house the servants will talk. To take a safe course you 
must bring her to me in a darker place. That alley of mine 
is convenient ; I shall wait for her there. 

HOR. It is quite right to use these precautions. I shall 
only place her in your hands, and return at once to my 
lodgings, without more ado. 

AR. (Alone). Ah, fortune ! This propitious accident 


makes amends for all the mischief which your caprice has 
done ! (He muffles himself up in his cloak). 


AR. (To Agnes], Do not be uneasy at the place I am 
taking you to. I conduct you to a safe abode. It would 
ruin all for you to lodge With me. Go in at this door, and 
follow where you are led. (Arnolphe takes her hand, with- 
out being recognised by her). 

Ac. (To Horace). Why do you leave me ? 

Hor. Dear Agnes, it must be so. 

Ac. Remember, then, I pray you to return soon. 

HOR. My love urges me sufficiently for that. 

Ac. I feel no joy but when I see you. 

HOR. Away from you I also am sad. 

Ac. Alas, if that were so, you would stay here. 

HOR. What ! Can you doubt my excessive love ? 

AG. No ; you do not love me as much as I love you ! 
Ah ! he is pulling me too hard ! (Arnolphe pulls her away). 

HOR. It is because it is dangerous, dear Agnes, for us to 
be seen together here ; this true friend, whose hand draws 
you away, acts with the prudent zeal that inspires him on 
our behalf. 

AG. But to follow a stranger . . . 

HOR. Fear nothing. In such hands you cannot but be 

AG. I would rather be in Horace's ; and I should . . 
(To Arnolphe, who still drags her away). Stay a little. 

HOR. Farewell. The day drives me away. 

Ac. When shall I see you, then ? 

HOR. Very soon, you may be sure. 

AG. How weary I shall be till I do ! 

HOR. (Going). Thank Heaven, my happiness is no 
longer in suspense ; now I can sleep securely. 


AR. ( Concealed by his cloak, and disguising his voice). 
Come ; it is not there you are going to lodge. I have 
provided a room for you elsewhere, and intend to place 
you where you will be safe enough. (Discovering himself). 
Do you know me ? 


AG. Ah! 

AR. My face frightens you now, hussey; it is a disap- 
pointment to you to see me here. I interrupt your love 
and its pretty contrivances. (Agnes looks for Horace). 
Do not imagine you can call your lover to your aid with 
those eyes of yours ; he is too far off to give you any as- 
sistance. So, so ! young as you are, you can play such 
pranks. Your simplicity, that seemed so extraordinary, 
asks if infants came through the ear ; yet you manage to 
make an assignation by night, and to slink out silently in 
order to follow your gallant? Gad, how coaxing your 
tongue was with him ! You must have been at a good 
school. Who the deuce has taught you so much all on a 
sudden? You are no longer afraid, then, to meet ghosts; 
this gallant has given you courage in the night time. Ah, 
baggage, to arrive at such a pitch of deceit ! To form 
such a plot in spite of all my kindness ! Little serpent 
that I have warmed in my bosom, and that, as soon as it 
feels it is alive, tries ungratefully to injure him that cher- 
ished it ! 

Ac. Why do you scold me? 

AR. Of a truth, I do wrong ! 

AG. I am not conscious of harm in all that I have 

AR. To run after a gallant is not, then, an infamous 

AG. He is one who says he wishes to marry me. I fol- 
lowed your directions ; you have taught me that we ought 
to marry in order to avoid sin. 

AR. Yes; but I meant to take you to wife myself; I 
think I gave you to understand it clearly enough. 

AG. You did. But, to be frank with you, he is more to 
my taste for a husband than you. With you, marriage is 
a trouble and a pain, and your descriptions give a terrible 
picture of it ; but there he makes it seem so full of joy 
that I long to marry. 

AR. Oh, traitress, that is because you love him ! 

AG. Yes, I love him. 

AR. And you have the impudence to tell me so ! 

AG. Why, if it is true, should I not say so ? 

AR. Ought you to love him, minx? 


Ac. Alas ! can I help it? He alone is the cause of it ; 
I was not thinking of it when it came about. 

AR. But you ought to have driven away that amorous 

Ac. How can we drive away what gives us pleasure ? 

AR. And did you not know that it would displease me ? 

Ac. I? Not at all. What harm can it do you ? 

AR. True. I ought to rejoice at it. You do not love 
me then after all ? 

Ac. You? 

AR. Yes. 

Ac. Alack! no. 

AR. How! No? 

Ac. Would you have me tell a fib? 

AR. Why not love me, Madam Impudence? 

AG. Heaven ! you ought not to blame me. Why did 
you not make yourself loved, as he has done? I did not 
prevent you, I fancy. 

AR. I tried all I could ; but all my pains were to no pur- 

Ac. Of a truth then he knows more about it than you ; 
for he had no difficulty in making himself loved. 

AR. (Aside). See how the jade reasons and retorts ! 
Plague ! could one of your witty ladies say more about it? 
Ah, I was a dolt ; or else, on my honour, a fool of a girl 
knows more than the wisest man. {To Agnes). Since 
you are so good at reasoning, Madam Chop-logic, should 
I have maintained you so long for his benefit ? 

AG. No. He will pay you back, even to the last far- 
thing. 19 

AR. (Aside). She hits on words that double my vexa- 
tion. (Aloud). With all his ability, hussey, will he dis- 
charge me the obligations that you owe me ? 

AG. I do not owe you so much as you may think. 

AR. Was the care of bringing you up nothing ? 

AG. Verily, you have been at great pains there, and 
have caused me to be finely taught throughout. Do you 

19 In the original jusqrf au dernier double. A double was a small coin, 
worth two deniers, of which twelve made one sou ; twenty sous made a 
livre, and eleven livrts a golden louis. 


think I flatter myself so far as not to know in my own mind 
that I am an ignoramus ? I am ashamed of myself, and 
at my age, I do not wish to pass any longer for a fool, if I 
can help it. 

AR. You shrink from ignorance, and would learn some- 
thing of your spark, at any cost. 

Ac. To be sure. It is from him I know what I do 
know ; I fancy I owe him much more than you. 

AR. Really, what prevents me from revenging this saucy 
talk with a cuff? I am enraged at the sight of her pro- 
voking coldness : and to beat her would be a satisfaction 
to me. 

AG. Ah, you can do that if you choose. 

AR. {Aside). That speech and that look disarm my fury, 
and bring back the tenderness to my heart which effaces 
all her guilt. How strange it is to be in love ! To think 
that men should be subject to such weakness for these 
traitresses ! Everyone knows their imperfection. They 
are extravagant and indiscreet. Their mind is wicked and 
their understanding weak. There is nought weaker, more 
imbecile, more faithless ; and, in spite of all, everything 
in the world is done for the sake of these bipeds. (To 
Agnes). Well, let us make peace. Listen, little wretch, 
I forgive all, and restore you to my affection. Learn thus 
how much I love you ; and, seeing me so good, love me 
in return. 

Ac. With all my heart I should like to please you, if 
it were in my power. 

AR. Poor little darling, you can if you will. Just listen 
to this sigh of love. See this dying look, behold my per- 
son, and forsake this young coxcomb and the love he in- 
spires. He must have thrown some spell over you, and 
you will be a hundred times happier with me. Your de- 
sire is to be finely dressed and frolicsome ; then I swear you 
shall ever be so ; I will fondle you night and day, I will hug 
you, kiss you, devour you; you shall do everything you 
have a mind to. I do not enter into particulars ; and 
that is saying everything. (Aside), To what length will 
my passion go ? {Aloud]. In short, nothing can equal my 
love. What proof would you have me give you, ungrate- 
ful girl ? Would you have me weep ? Shall I beat my- 


self? Shall I tear out one half of my hair? Shall I kill 
myself? Yes, say so if you will. I am quite ready, cruel 
creature, to convince you of my love. 

Ac. Stay. All you say does not touch my heart. 
Horace could do more with a couple of words. 

AR. Ah, this is too great an insult, and provokes my 
anger too far. I will pursue my design, you intractable 
brute, and will pack you out of the town forthwith. You 
reject my addresses and drive me to extremities : but the 
innermost cell of a convent shall avenge me of all. 20 


AL. I do not know how it is, master, but it seems to me 
that Agnes and the corpse have run away together. 

AR. She is here. Go and shut her up in my room. 
(Aside). Horace will not come here to see her. Besides, 
it is only for half an hour. {To Alain). Go and get a 
carriage, for I mean to find her a safe dwelling. Shut 
yourselves safely in, and, above all, do not take your eyes 
off her. {Alone). Perhaps when her mind is buried in 
solitude, she will be disabused of this passion. 


HOR. Oh, I come here, plunged in grief. Heaven, Mr. 
Arnolphe, has decreed my ill fortune ! By a fatal stroke 
of extreme justice, I am to be torn away from the beauty 
whom I love. My father arrived this very evening. I 
found him alighting close by. In a word the reason of 
his coming, with which, as I said, I was unacquainted, is, 
that he has made a match for me, without a word of warn- 
ing ; he has arrived here to celebrate the nuptials. Feel 
for my anxiety, and judge if a more cruel disappointment 
could happen to me. That Enrique, whom I asked you 
about yesterday, is the source of all my trouble. He has 
come with my father to complete my ruin ; it is for his 

* Moliere probably puts in the mouth of Arnolphe the doubts and fears 
that beset himself after a few months of his marriage with Armande 
Bejart, who was about half his age. This comedy was written in the sum- 
mer of 1662, and was performed on the 26th of December, whilst Moliere 
was married on the 2Oth of February of the same year. (See Introductory 
Notice to this play, page 339.) 


only daughter that I am destined. I thought I should 
have swooned when they first spoke of it ; not caring to 
hear more, as my father spoke of paying you a visit, I 
hurried here before him, my mind full of consternation. 
I pray you be sure not to let him know anything of my 
engagement, which might incense him ; and try, since 
he has confidence in you, to dissuade him from this other 

AR. Ay, to be sure ! 

HCR. Advise him to delay ; and thus, like a friend, 
help me in my passion. 

AR. No fear ! 

HOR. All my hope is in you. 

AR. It could not be better placed. 

HOR. I look on you as my real father. Tell him that 
my age . . . Ah, I see him coming ! Hear the argu- 
ments I can supply you with. 


(Horace and Arnolphe retire to the back of the stage and 
whisper together). 

EN. (To Chrysalde). As soon as I saw you, before 
anyone could tell me, I should have known you. I recog- 
nise in your face the features of your lovely sister, whom 
marriage made mine in former days. Happy should I have 
been if cruel fate had permitted me to bring back that 
faithful wife, to enjoy with me the great delight of seeing 
once more, after our continual misfortunes, all her former 
friends. But since the irresistible power of destiny has for 
ever deprived us of her dear presence, let us try to sub- 
mit, and to be content with the only fruit of love which 
remains to me. It concerns you nearly; without your 
consent I should do wrong in wishing to dispose of this 
pledge. The choice of the son of Oronte is honourable 
in itself; but you must be pleased with this choice as well 
as I. 

CH. It would argue a poor opinion of my judgment to 
doubt my approbation of so reasonable a choice. 

AR. (Aside to Horace). Ay, I will serve you finely ! 


HOR. Beware, once more . . . 

AR. Have no uneasiness. {Leaves Horace, and goes ///> 
to embrace Oronte). 

OR. Ah, this is indeed a tender embrace. 

AR. How delighted I am to see you ! 

OR. I am come here . . . 

AR. I know what brings you, without your telling me. 

OR. You have already heard ? 

AR. Yes. 

OR. So much the better. 

AR. Your son is opposed to this match; his heart being 
pre-engaged, he looks on it as a misfortune. He has even 
prayed me to dissuade you from it ; for my part, all the 
advice I can give you is, to exert a father's authority, and 
not allow the marriage to be delayed. Young people 
should be managed with a high hand ; we do them harm 
by being indulgent. 

HOR. {Aside). Oh, the traitor ! 

CH. If it is repugnant to him, I think we ought not to 
force him. I think my brother will be of my mind. 

AR. What ? Will he let himself be ruled by his son ? 
Would you have a father so weak as to be unabje to make 
his son obey him? It would be fine indeed to see him at 
his time of life receiving orders from one who ought to 
receive them from him. No, no, he is my intimate friend, 
and his honour is my own. His word is passed, and 
he must keep it. Let him now display his firmness, and 
control his son's affections. 

OR. You speak well ; in this match I will answer for 
my son's obedience. 

CH. (To Arnolphe). I am indeed surprised at the great 
eagerness which you shew for this marriage, and cannot 
guess what is your motive . . . 

AR. I know what I am about, and speak sensibly. 

OR. Yes, yes, Mr. Arnolphe ; he is . . . 

CH. That name annoys him. He is Monsieur de la 
Souche, as you were told before. 

OR. It makes no difference. 

HOR. (Aside). What do I hear? 

AR. (Turning to Horace). Ay, that is the mystery; 
you can judge as to what it behooved me to do. 


HOR. {Aside), What a scrape . . . 


GEO. Sir, if you do not come, we shall scarcely be able 
to hold Agnes ; she is trying all she can to get away ; I 
fear she will throw herself out of the window. 

AR. Bring her to me, for I mean to take her away. 
{To Horace). Do not be disturbed. Continual good for- 
tune makes a man proud. Every dog has his day, as the 
proverb says. 

HOR. {Aside). Good Heaven, what misfortune can 
equal mine? Was ever a man in such a mess as this? 

AR. {To Oronte). Hasten the day of the ceremony 
I am bent on it, and invite myself beforehand. 

OR. That is just my intention. 


AR. {To Agnes). Come hither, my beauty, whom they 
cannot hold, and who rebels. Here is your gallant, to 
whom, to make amends, you may make a sweet and hum- 
ble curtesy. {To Horace). Farewell. The issue rather 
thwarts your desires; but all lovers are not fortunate. 

Ac. Horace, will you let me be carried off in this 

HOR. I scarcely know where I am, my sorrow is so 

AR. Come along, chatterbox. 

AG. I shall stay here. 

OR. Tell us the meaning of this mystery. We are all 
staring at each other without being able to understand it. 

AR. I shall inform you at a more convenient time. Till 
then, good-bye. 

OR. Where are you going? You do not speak to us as 
you should. 

AR. I have advised you to complete the marriage, let 
Horace grumble as much as he likes. 

OR. Ay; but to complete it, have you not heard if 
they have told you all that the lady concerned in this 
affair is in your house ? that she is the daughter of En- 


rique and of the lovely Angelica, who v/ere privately 
married? Now, what was at the bottom of your talk just 

CH. I too was astonished at his proceedings. 

AR. What? 

CH. My sister had a daughter by a secret marriage, 
whose existence was concealed from the whole family. 

OR. And in order that nothing might be discovered, she 
was put out to nurse in the country by her husband, under 
a feigned name. 

CH. At that time, fortune being against him, he was 
compelled to quit his native land. 

OR. To encounter a thousand various dangers in far- 
distant countries, and beyond many seas. 

CH. Where his industry has acquired what in his own 
land he lost through roguery and envy. 

OR. And when he returned to France, the first thing he 
did was to seek out her to whom he had confided the care 
of his daughter. 

CH. This country-woman frankly told him that she had 
committed her to your keeping from the age of four. 

OR. And that she did it because she received money 
from you, and was very poor. 

CH. Oronte, transported with joy, has even brought 
this woman hither. 

OR. In short, you shall see her here directly to clear up 
this mystery to every one. 

CH. ( To Arnolphe). I can almost imagine what is the 
cause of your grief; but fortune is kind to you. If it seems 
so good to you not to be a cuckold, your only course is 
not to marry. 

AR. {Going away full of rage, and unable to speak). 
Ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! 


OR. Why does he run away without saying a word? 

HOR. Ah, father, you shall know the whole of this sur- 
prising mystery. Accident has done here what your wis- 
dom intended. I had engaged myself to this beauty in 
the sweet bonds of mutual love ; it is she, in a word, whom 


you come to seek, and for whose sake I was about to grieve 
you by my refusal. 

EN. I was sure of it as soon as I saw her; my heart has 
yearned for her ever since. Ah, daughter, I am overcome 
by such tender transports ! 

CH. I could be so, brother, just as well as you. But 
this is hardly the place for it. Let us go inside, and clear 
up these mysteries. Let us shew our friend some return 
for his great pains, and thank Heaven, which orders all 
for the best. 






JUNE IST, 1663. 


The School for Wives criticised was first brought out at the theatre of the 
Palais Royal, on the ist of June, 1663. It can scarcely be called a play, 
for it is entirely destitute of action. It is simply a reported conversation 
of " friends in council ; " but we cannot be surprised that it had a tempo- 
rary success on the stage. It was acted as a pendant to The School for 

Wives, and the two were played together, with much profit to the com- 
pany, thirty-two consecutive times. Moliere, in the Preface to The 
School for Wives, mentions that the idea of writing The School for Wives 
criticised was suggested to him by a person of quality, who, it is said, was 
the Abb6 Dubuisson, the grand introducteur des ruelles or, in other 
words, the Master of the Ceremonies to the Precieuses. Our author had 
also just been inscribed on the list of pensions which Louis XIV. allowed 
to eminent literary men, for a sum of a thousand livres. 

The happy idea of self-criticism adopted by Moliere in this piece has 
been caught at by many subsequent French writers. Thus we find la. 
Critique du Legataire, by Regnard ; la, Critique du Philosophe marie by 
Destouches ; le Prods de la Femme juge et partie, by Montfleury. But 
in none of these is the subject so ably treated as by Moliere, who did not 
scruple to attack the different cabals leagued against him. Climene is an 
example of those ladies '' whose ears are more chaste than all the rest of 
their body," and is a preliminary study for Philaminte of the Femmes Sa- 
vantes. The Marquis represents the "noble patron/' who judges of a 
play before he has seen it, who is a critic by virtue of his rank, but not of 
his knowledge; Lysidas is the envious pedant, who ''damns with faint 
praise," who wishes everything measured according to the rules of Cock- 
er's arithmetic, who employs the little knowledge with which Heaven has 
afflicted him to hide his own mediocrity, and who afterwards will be farther 
developed in the Femme Savantes as Trissotin and Vadius. Dorante, the 
man of sense, is also more fully shown in the Clitandre of the same play. 
A few days after the play was produced, it was reported that Lysidas 
was meant for Boursault, the ridiculous Marquis for the Duke de La 
Feuillade, whilst it was said that the Abbe 1 d'Aubignac was also laughed 
at; but as Moliere himself states in The School for Wives criticised: 
" All the ridiculous delineations which are drawn on the stage should be 
looked on by everyone without annoyance. They are public mirrors in 
which we must never pretend to see ourselves." 



Boursault believed, or affected to believe, that Moliere intended to 
pourtray him, and hence replied in the Portrait du Peintre which was per- 
formed at the hotel de Bourgogne. Tradition mentions that the Duke de 
la took other means to avenge himself. He one day met Mo- 
liere in one of the galleries of the Palace of Versailles. Pretending to be 
very polite and courteous, he ran towards him smiling, and whilst em- 
bracing him, and rubbing all the while the actor's face against the metal- 
worked buttons of his coat, he shouted out, " Cream -tart, Moliere! 
Cream-tart ! " It is said that Louis XIV. banished the Duke from the 
Court for some time for this offence, and that he ordered Moliere to take 
anew vengeance upon his enemies. There can be no doubt about the 
order, for Moliere states so expressly in The Impromptu of Versailles. 

The School for Wives criticised may be taken as Moliere's general re- 
ply to his critics ; for it deals as much with the points of good and bad 
criticism as with the special features of The School for Wives. Indeed, 
the defence raised, through the mouth of Dorante, of certain passages of 
the latter play which had been roughly handled by the poet's contempora- 
ries, are perhaps the weakest parts of The School for Wives criticised; 
whereas the generalities which deal with the art and practice of criticism 
are exceptionally shrewd and pungent. 

The School for Wives met with a flattering reception, in the sense that 
the public were greatly divided as to its merits, and carried on the discus- 
sion of it with much warmth, and even bitterness. The play was town- 
talk for many days ; and in this sequel, Moliere no doubt reflected the 
principal arguments of his friends and of his opponents. If he reflected 
them aright, he did well to preserve them in this form, side by side; for 
Dorante, Urania, and their dissembling ally Eliza, have infinitely the best 
of the discussion, whether we regard them as champions of Moliere only, 
or as vindicators of the highest principle of dramatic criticism in general. 
Perhaps the "School for Critics" would better describe the most valuable 
half of the piece. 

Moliere dedicated The School for Wives criticised to the Queen- 
mother ! in the following words : 

MADAM, I very well know that your Majesty has no need of our dedications, 
and that those pretended duties of which people elegantly tell you they acquit them- 
selves, are marks of respect with which, to speak the truth, you could very willingly 
dispense. But yet I have the boldness to dedicate to you The School for Wives 
criticised ; and I could not omit this opportunity of testifying to your Majesty my 

WIK>, ironi yuur luny uiuugiiib ctiiu impui Laiiu ui*t-upctLiuiia, ucscciiu bu Kiiiuiy MJ UM 
pleasure of our performances, and who do not disdain to smile with the same mouth 
with which you pray to God so devoutly, I flatter my mind, I say, with the expec- 

Thomas Brown, of Shipnal, in Yorkshire, so well known for his free 

1 Anne of Austria, eldest daughter of Philip III., King of Spain, wife of Louis 
XIII., and mother of Louis XIV., was born in 1602, and died the zoth of January, 
1666, sixty-four years old. She did not long survive the " happy recovery " Mo- 
liere rnnirrafiilntec her nr^nn 

Here congratulates her upon. 


and easy writings, wrote an imitation of The School for Wives criticised, 
which he calls. " The Stage-Beaux toss'd in a blanket, or Hypocrisie a la 
mode ; Expos'd in a true picture of Jerry ... a pretending scourge to 
the English Stage, A Comedy with a Prologue on Occasional Conformity ; 
being a full Explanation of the Poussin Doctor's book ; and an Epilogue 
on the Reformers. Spoken at the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane, with 
the motto, ' Simulant Curios et Bacchanalia vivunt, Juv.' London, 
Printed and Sold by J. Nott, near Stationer's Hall, 1704." This piece 
consists of three acts, while the French has only one. It is a satire 
against Jeremy Collier, on account of his Short View of the Immorality 
and Prophaneness of the English Stage, and was never acted. It was 
severely chastised and answered in sermons and pamphlets ; amongst 
others, in " Serious Reflections on the Scandalous Abuse and Effects of the 
Stage, in a Sermon preached at Bristol, Jany. 7th, 1704-5, by A. Bed- 
ford," at the end of which is printed " a copy of the Presentation of the 
Grand Jury to Mayor, Aldermen, and Justices of the Peace, asking them 
to forbid the Acting of Plays," and praising them '' for having endeav- 
oured to suppress Musick-houses, and other Lewd and Disorderly Houses, 
Tipling, or Idle walking on the Lord's Day ; " also in A Representation 
of the Impiety and Immorality of the English Stage, 1704, A. Bedford ; 
in A Second Advertisement concerning the Profaneness of the Playhouse ; 
and in The Evil and Danger of Stage Plays in almost 2000 instances 
taken from the plays of the two last years, by A. Bedford, 1706. Again, 
in A Serious Remonstrance in behalf of the Christian Religion against 
the horrid Blasphemies and Impieties -which are still used in the English 
Play- House, etc., from almost 7000 instances, taken out of the Plays of the 
present Century, 1719, by A. Bedford ; and finally, in The Absolute un- 
lawfulness of the Stage Entertainment fully demonstrated, by W. Law, 
A. M., 1726. The Stage-Beaux is dedicated to Christopher Rich, pat- 
entee of the Theatre Royal, in a humorous epistle, in which Themistocles, 
Milton, and even Collier himself are mentioned as friends of the Drama, 
and in which it is stated that " the stage exposes Knaves and Fools, 
Misers, Prodigals, Affectation, Hypocrisie, etc., and that has provoked 
some to be its zealous Foes, under the pretended Name of Sanctity and 
Religion." The Prologue, spoken by, " one dress'd one-half like a Non- 
con Parson, and the other like an Orthodox Divine," opens thus : 

" My Dress is Odd, but yet 'tis Alamode, 
Invented to unite Mammon with God. 

TI_:_ o:j_ :_ TI l I r..ll ~c v ..:... C_ 

The character in Brown's play which is not in the French comedy is 
Sir Jerry Witwind, a pert, talkative, half-witted coxcomb, an arrant hypo- 
crite, and a most immoral man, a rather free imitation of Tartuffe. 
whose very words he sometimes employs, and whose worst actions he ex- 
aggerates at the end of the third act. The two last acts of the Stage 
Beaux are chiefly occupied with attacks on Collier, some of which are 


very amusing ; but the first act contains a very fair imitation of a few 
scenes of The School for Wives criticised. 

Wycherley has also borrowed from The School for Wives criticised a 
scene of his Plain-Dealer, which, as a whole, is partly taken from Moliere's 
Misanthrope. In the part thus imitated he tries to defend The Coun- 
try Wife, and boldly states that "a lady may call her own modesty in 
question by publicly cavilling with the poets ; " but Olivia's defence of the 
play is as bad as The Country Wife itself. She reminds us of a certain 
French wit, of the last century, called Duclos, who one day stated in the 
presence of some ladies that respectable women might hear any story 
without being shocked ; and then he went on relating some, which were 
bad enough, and was going to tell some which were even worse, when 
one of the ladies present stopped him by saying, '' Monsieur Duclos, you 
really believe us to be more respectable than we are." 




LYSIDAS, a poet. 

GALOPIN, a lackey. 



* Eliza is the first part created by Moliere's wife, who had only been 
married about fifteen months. Our author always wrote for his wife parts 
in which sharp sayings, caustic wit, and a certain amount of coquetry are 
to be found. Madam Moltere begins as Eliza, and ends as Celimene, in 
The Misanthrope. 




UR. What ! cousin, has no one been to visit you ? 

EL. Not a soul. 

UR. I am really astonished that we have both of us been 
alone the whole day. 

EL. It astonishes me, too; for it is by no means usual; 
and your house, thank Heaven ! is the ordinary resort of 
all the loungers at Court. 

UR. The afternoon, to be candid, seems very tedious 
to me. 

EL. And I have found it very short. 

UR. That, cousin, is because witty people love solitude. 

EL. Oh ! I am not one of those witty people. You 
know I have no pretensions to that. 

UR. For my part, I confess I like company. 

EL. So do I, but I like it select ; and the number of 
stupid visits we have to endure is, amongst others, the 
reason why I often take pleasure in being alone. 

UR. It is an over-refinement, not to be able to bear any 
but select people. 

EL. And it is too indiscriminate a complaisance to bear 
all sorts of people with indifference. 

UR. I relish those who are sensible, and amuse myself 
with those who talk nonsense. 

EL. In truth, those who talk nonsense do not proceed 
far without wearying you ; and most of those folks are no 
longer amusing after the second visit. But, talking of 


your nonsensical people, will you not rid me of your 
troublesome Marquis ? Do you mean always to leave him 
on my hands, and do you think that I can hold out for 
ever against his everlasting quips ? 3 

UR. It is the language of fashion, and they make merry 
over it at Court. 

EL. So much the worse for those who do, and who rack 
their brains all day long to talk such an obscure jargon. 
A fine thing, to introduce into the conversation of the 
Louvre their stale double enfendres, raked together from 
the kennels of the markets and of the Place Maubert ! * A 
pretty style of jesting for courtiers, and for a man to dis- 
play his wit by coming up to you, and saying, " Madame, 
you are in the Place Royale ; every one sees you three 
leagues from Paris, for every one is pleased to see you ; ' ' 
because Bonneuil is a village three leagues off ! 5 Is it not 
very gallant and very witty ? And ought they not to be 
proud for having hit upon such pretty puns ? 

UR. At the same time, they do not say this as a piece of 
wit; for most of those who affect this language know 
themselves that it is ridiculous. 

EL. Worse still, to be at such pains to talk nonsense, 

'The original has turlupinades. Turlupins were certain heretics, inthe 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, condemned by the Roman Catholic 
Church ; hence the name, after some time, was given to any bad joker. 
There was an actor at the hotel de Bourgogne, Henri Legrand, who died 
in 1634, and was a famous turlupin. After the performance of The School 
for Wives Criticised, the Marquises affected the name of turlupins. 

4 The language of the markets, halles, is not very choice, something 
like '* Billingsgate." The Place Maubert is a square in Paris, at the foot 
of the Montagne St. Genevieve, in the thickly populated neighbourhood of 
the quartier Mouffetard. Various origins are adduced for its name but 
the most feasible seems to me this one. In the fourteenth century, a cele- 
brated German professor of Philosophy settled in Paris, and met in a short 
time with such a great success that no building could be found large 
enough to contain his audience. He therefore delivered his lectures in 
the open air. His name was maitre Albert Groot, (Albertus Magnus) 
hence the contraction Maubert for maitre Albert. After this and until very 
lately, in fact until the improvements inaugurated by the Empire took a 
corner of it away to make room for the Boulevard St. Germain, it was a 
rendezvous for mountebanks, bear-leaders, and fire-eaters, a sort of fair 
as is now the Place de la Bastille, hence the allusion to the double entendres. 

6 There is a pun in the original which cannot be translated: chacun 
vonsvoit de bonaeil means " everyone is pleased to see you," but Bonneuil 
is also a village three leagues from Paris. 


and to be sorry jokers on purpose ! I think them less ex- 
cusable for this ; and if I were their judge, I know well to 
what I would condemn all these gentry, the punsters. 

UR. A truce to this subject, which seems to excite you ; 
let us talk of Dorante, who, methinks, is long in coming 
to the supper we are to take together. 

EL. Perhaps he has forgotten it, and . . . 


GAL. Madam, Climene has come to see you. 

UR. Oh ! bless me, here is a visit ! 

EL. You complained of being alone ; so Heaven 
punishes you for it. 

UR. Quick ! go and tell her I am not at home. 

GAL. She has already been told that you are in. 

UR. Who is the fool that told her? 

GAL. I, madam. 

UR. Deuce take the little rascal ! I shall teach you to 
give answers on your own behalf ! 

GAL. I go and tell her, madam, that you do not wish 
to be at home. 

UR. Stay, you stupid ! As the mischief is done, let her 
come up. 

GAL. She is still talking to a man in the street. 

UR. Ah ! cousin, how annoying this visit is just now ! 

EL. True ; the lady is naturally rather troublesome. I 
always disliked her much ; and, though she is a lady of 
rank, she is the most stupid creature that ever pretended 
to sense. 

UR. The term is rather strong. 

EL. Come, come ; she richly deserves it, and more too, 
if justice were done her. Is there any one that bette'r 
deserves to go by the name of &precieuse* than she, to use 
the word in its worst sense ? 

UR. She disclaims the epithet, at all events. 

EL. So she does. She disclaims the epithet, but not the 
thing ; for she is finical from head to foot, and the most 
formal creature in the world. Her whole body appears to 
be out of joint, and the motions of her hips, her shoulders 

See The Pretentious Young Ladies. 


and her head seem to go like a piece of clock-work. She 
always assumes a languishing and silly tone, grimaces to 
make her mouth appear small, and rolls her eyes to make 
them seem large. 

UR. Softly, pray. If she should happen to overhear 

EL. No, no ; she is not coming up yet. I shall never 
forget that evening when she was anxious to see Damon, 
on account of his reputation, and of the books he had 
published. You know the man, and his natural indolence 
in keeping up a conversation. She had invited him to 
supper as a wit, and never did he appear such a fool amidst 
half-a-dozen people for whom she had meant him to be a 
treat, and who stared at him with all their might, as if he 
ought not to be made like other men. They all thought 
he was there to entertain the company with witty sayings ; 
that every word from his mouth was to be something ex- 
traordinary ; that he ought to deliver an impromptu repar- 
tee on everything that was said, and not even to ask for a 
glass of wine without uttering a witticism. But he took 
them in by his silence ; and the lady was as ill pleased with 
him as I was with her. 

UR. Be quiet ! I will go and receive her at the door. 

EL. One word more. I wish she was married to the 
Marquis we spoke of. What a fine match it would be, be- 
tween a prtcieuse and a turlupin ! 

UR. Will you be quiet ! Here she comes. 


UR. How long you have been . . . 

" CL. Oh ! for Heaven's sake, my dear, make them bring 
me a chair immediately ! 

UR. (To Galopin). An arm-chair here, quick! 

CL. Oh, good Heaven ! 

UR. What can be the matter ? 

CL. I can bear it no longer. 

UR. What ails you ? 

CL. I am going to faint. 

UR. Have you got the vapours ? 

CL. No. 


UR. Shall I unlace you ? 

CL. O lord ! no, Oh ! 

UR. What is your ailment, then? When did it seize 

CL. Above three hours ago ; and I brought it from the 
Palais Royal. 7 

UR. How? 

CL. I have just seen, as a punishment for my sins, that 
villainous rhapsody The School for Wives. I feel still a 
twinge from the fainting-fit which it gave me ; I believe I 
shall not be myself again for a fortnight. 

EL. Just see how our ailments arise without our suspect- 
ing it ! 

UR. I do not know what stuff my cousin and I are 
made of; but we were at the same play the day before 
yesterday, and we both came away well and hearty. 

CL. What ! have you seen it? 

Ur. Yes, and listened to every word. 

CL. And did you not almost go into convulsions, my 

UR. I am not so delicate, thank Heaven ! For my 
part, I fancy that this comedy would be more likely to 
cure folks, than to make them sick. 

CL. Oh, good Heaven ! What are you saying ? Can 
such a proposition be advanced by any one who has the 
smallest stock of common sense? Do you think that 
everyone can, with impunity, insult reason, as you do ? 
And is there in very truth a mind so hungry for a joke as 
to relish the silly things with which this play is seasoned? 
I confess, for my part, I could not find the least wit in 
the whole of it. Children through the ear was, to my 
thinking, in execrable taste ; 8 the cream tart 9 turned me 
sick; and I thought I must have vomited when I heard 
broth mentioned. 

EL. Heavens ! most elegantly spoken ! I was inclined 
to think the piece good ; but the lady's eloquence is so 
persuasive, and gives such an agreeable turn to things, 
that I must be of her opijiion in spite of myself. 

7 Moliere's troop was then playing at the Palais Royal. 

8 See page 351, Act i., Scene 2. 9 See page 352, Act i., Scene i. 
10 See page 353, Act ii., Scenes. 


UR. For my part, I am not so easily moved. To be 
candid, I look on this play as one of the most diverting 
which the author has produced. 

CL. Oh ! I pity you for talking so. I cannot let you 
display so much bluntness of perception. Can a virtuous 
person find anything pleasant in a piece that keeps her 
modesty in continual alarm, and sullies the imagination 
at every turn ? 

EL. What a nice way of speaking ! What a terrible 
hand you are at criticism, madam ; and how I pity poor 
Moliere in having you for an enemy ! 

CL. Believe me, dear, correct your judgment in good 
earnest ; for the sake of your honour, do not openly say 
that this comedy has pleased you. 

UR. I cannot think what you found in it to shock your 

CL. Good lack ! all of it. I do maintain it for a fact 
that a gentlewoman cannot see it without confusion; so 
much impropriety and nastiness did I find in it. 

UR. You must have a special discernment for impro- 
priety. I own I could see none. 

CL. It is undoubtedly because you would n.ot see it ; 
for in short, all its impropriety, thank Heaven ! is plain 
enough. It has not the least cloak to hide it; and the 
boldest eyes are shocked by its nakedness. 

EL. Oh! 

CL. Ah! ah! ah! 

UR. Yet once more, if you please, point out to me 
some of the improprieties you speak of. 

CL. Alas ! is it necessary to point them out ? 

UR. Yes. I ask of you but one passage that shocked 
you very much. 

CL. Do you wish any other than the scene with that 
Agnes, when she tells what Horace took from her ? 

UR. What do you find improper in that ? 

CL. Ah! 

UR. Please. 

CL. Fie! 

UR. But . . . 

CL. I have nothing more to say to you. 

UR. For my part, I see no harm in it. 


CL. So much the worse for you. 

UR. So much the better, I think. I look at things as 
they are shown to me, and do not turn them round to 
look at what should not be seen. 

CL. But a woman's modesty . . . 

UR. A woman's modesty does not consist in grimacing. 
It ill becomes us to be over-wise. Affectation of this kind 
is worse than anything ; and I see nothing more ridicu- 
lous than that delicate honour which takes everything 
amiss, gives a bad meaning to the most innocent words, 
and* is startled at shadows. Believe me, those who make 
so much ado are not esteemed the most honest women. 
On the contrary, their mysterious severity and affected 
grimaces provoke public animadversions upon the actions 
of their own lives. The world is only too glad to discover 
anything to carp at. To give you a proof, there were 
some ladies at this comedy the other day, in a box oppo- 
site to ours, who, by their affected gestures throughout 
the piece, by averting their heads and hiding u their faces, 
gave rise to a hundred impertinent remarks upon their 
behaviour, which would never have been uttered but for 
that; one of the footmen even cried out aloud that their 
ears were more chaste than all the rest of their bodies. 

CL. In short, we ought to be blind throughout this 
play, and pretend not to see anything in it. 

UR. We ought not to see what is not there. 

CL. Do not tell me. I maintain that the improprieties 
are glaring. 

UR. And I remain still of a different mind. 

CL. What ! Is not modesty plainly shocked by Agnes 
in the passage we are speaking about ? 

UR. No, truly. She does not say a word which is in- 
delicate in itself; and if you will understand something 
else, it is you who create the impropriety, and not she, 
for she only speaks of the ribbon that was taken from her. 

CL. Oh yes, the ribbon ! But that the, when she checks 
herself, is not put there for nothing. Odd ideas are sug- 
gested by this the. That the is tremendously scandalous. 

11 There are no nouns in the French language for "averting." and 
" hiding ; " Moliere coins here detournement and cachement, but these 
words have not been adopted. 


Say what you will, you cannot defend the coarseness of 
this the. 

EL. True, cousin, I am with this lady against that the. 
That the is excessively coarse ; you are wrong to defend 
that the. 

CL. Its obscenity is unbearable. 

EL. What word do you use, Madam ? 

CL. Obscenity, Madam. 

EL. Oh, good gracious ! obscenity. I do not know 
the meaning of the word ; but I think it very nice ! 12 

CL. There ! You see how your own relation takes my 

UR. Ah ! she is a chatter-box, who does not speak as 
she thinks. Do not trust her much, if you will take my 

EL. Oh ! you wicked creature, to try to make this lady 
suspect me. Just think what would become of me, if 
she were to believe what you say. Could I be so unfor- 
tunate, Madam, as to have you think this of me ? 

CL. No, no. I do not mind her words, and I believe 
that you are more sincere than she says. 

EL. Oh, you are quite right, Madam ; and you do me 
justice when you believe that I think you the most enga- 
ging person in the world ; that I enter into all your senti- 
ments, and am charmed with every expression that comes 
from your lips. 

CL. Indeed, I speak without affectation. 

EL. We can see that, Madam, quite well ; and every- 
thing about you is natural. Your words, the tone of your 
voice, your gait, your actions, and your dress, have an in- 
describable air of fashion about them, which is quite en- 
chanting. I study you with my eyes and ears; and I am 
so full of you that I strive to ape you and imitate you in 

CL. You are bantering me, Madam. 

EL. Pardon me, Madam. Who could banter you? 

CL. I am not a good model, Madam. 

EL. Oh, yes, Madam. 

in French a new word ; it was employed for the 
first time by the translators of the Bible, called traducteurs de Mons. 


CL. You flatter me, Madam. 

EL. Not at all, Madam. 

CL. Spare me, I beg you, Madam. 

EL. I do spare you, Madam, and I say not half of what 
I think, Madam. 

CL. Ah, good Heavens ! let us stop it, I beseech you. 
You throw me into a dreadful confusion. (To Urania}. 
There, you see we are both against you, and obstinacy 
so ill becomes clever people . . . 


GAL. (At the door). Stop sir, please? 

MAR. Do you not know me, fellow? 

GAL. Ay, I know you; but you shall not come in. 

MAR. What a noise you are making, little lackey. 

GAL. It is not fair to wish to get in where you are not 

MAR. I wish to see your mistress. 

GAL. She is not at home, I tell you. 

MAR. Why, she is in her room there ! 

GAL. That may be ; she is there, but she is not at home. 

UR. What is the matter? 

MAR. Your lackey, Madam, is playing the fool. 

GAL. Madam, I am telling him you are not at home, 
and he will insist on coming in. 

UR. And why did you tell this gentleman that I am 
not at home? 

GAL. You scolded me the other day for telling him you 
were at home. 

UR. The insolent fellow ! Pray, sir, do not attend to 
what he says. He is a little stupid creature, who takes 
you for some one else. 

MAR. I saw as much, Madam; and, had it not been out 
of respect for you, I should have taught him to distinguish 
people of quality. 

EL. My cousin is much obliged to you for this deference. 

UR. ( To Galopiri). Bring a chair there, impertinent. 

GAL. Is there not one there? 

UR. Bring it nearer! (Galopin pushes it ruddy and exit).. 



MAR. Your little lackey, madam, has a special contempt 
for me. 

EL. He would certainly be much to blame. 

MAR. It is possibly because I pay interest on my ill 
looks. Ha, ha, ha! (laughing). 

EL. Age will make him know people of fashion better. 

MAR. Of what were you speaking, ladies, when I inter- 
rupted you? 

UR. Of the comedy, The School for Wives. 

MAR. I have just come from it. 

CL. Well, sir, pray how do you like it? 

MAR. It is altogether silly. 

CL. Oh, I am so delighted to hear you say so ! 

MAR. The most wretched piece imaginable. What the 
deuce ! I could hardly get a seat. I thought I should 
have been crushed to death at the door, and I was never 
so trampled upon. Pray see what a state my rolls and 
ribbons are in ! 

EL. That certainly speaks volumes against The School 
for Wives, and you justly condemn it 

MAR. Never, I think, was such a wretched play composed. 

UR. Ah, here is Dorante, whom we were expecting. 


DOR. Pray do not move, and do not break off your con- 
versation. You are on a subject which, for four days, has 
been the common talk of Paris ; and never was anything 
more amusing than to hear the various judgments that are 
passed upon it. For, indeed, I have heard this play con- 
demed by some for the very things that others most praise. 

UR. The Marquis speaks very ill of it. 

MAR. It is true. I think it detestable, detestable, 
egad ! to the last degree detestable ; what you may call 
detestable ! 

DOR. And I, dear Marquis, think the judgment detest- 

MAR. How, Chevalier, do you mean to vindicate this 


DOR. Yes, I do mean to vindicate it. 

MAR. Egad, I warrant it to be detestable. 

DOR. That guarantee would not be accepted in the 
city. 15 But Marquis, for what reason, pray, is this comedy 
as you describe it ? 

MAR. Why detestable ? 

DOR. Ay. 

MAR. It is detestable because it is detestable. 

DOR. After that, there is not a word to be said ; the 
cause is ended. But still, instruct us, and tell us its faults. 

MAR. How can I ? I did not so much as give myself 
the trouble to listen to it. But yet I assure you I never 
saw anything so wretched, as I hope to be saved ; and 
Dorilas, who sat opposite to me, was of my mind. 

DOR. The authority is weighty, and you are well backed. 

MAR. You have only to mark the continual bursts of 
laughter from the pit. I wish no more to prove its utter 

DOR. You are then, Marquis, one of those grand gen- 
tlemen who will not allow the pit to have common sense, 
and who would be vexed to join in their laugh, though 
it were at the best thing conceivable ? The other day, I 
saw one of our friends on the stage, who made himself 
ridiculous by this. He heard the piece out with the most 
gloomy seriousness imaginable; and whatever tickled 
others made him frown. At every burst of laughter he 
shrugged his shoulders and cast a look of pity on the pit ; 
occasionally, too, he glanced contemptuously at them, 
saying in an audible voice, " Laugh away, pit, laugh 
away ! " " Our friend's annoyance was a second comedy. 
He acted bravely before the whole house, and everyone 
agreed that he could not have played his part better. 
Pray, note, Marquis, and your friends as well, that com- 

18 The original has la caution nest fas boiirgeoise, a saying which owes 
its origin to the ancient custom of giving a certain number of the chief- 
citizens of a town as hostages to a conqueror ; hence it came to mean " a 
security as good as that of any well known townsman." Moliere uses the 
same term in The Pretentious Young Ladies, when Mascarille says : " I 
shall . . . expect very good security that they do me no mischief." 

14 The name of this fine gentleman has come down to us ; he was called 
Plapisson, and used the words which Dorante mentions, at the representa- 
tion of The School for Wives. 


raon sense has no fixed place at a theatre ; that the differ- 
ence between half a louis and fifteen sous 15 makes none 
whatever in the matter of good taste ; that whether we sit 
or stand, we may pass a bad judgment ; and that, in short, 
speaking generally, I would place considerable reliance on 
the applause of the pit, because, amongst those who go 
there, many are capable of judging the piece according to 
rule, whilst others judge it as they ought, allowing them- 
selves to be guided by circumstances, having neither a 
blind prejudice, nor an affected complaisance, nor'a ridicu- 
lous refinement. 

MAR. So, sir, you are a defender of the pit ! Egad, I 
am glad of it ; I shall not fail to let them know that you 
are one of their friends. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ! 

DOR. Laugh as much as you like. I am for good sense, 
and I cannot bear the brain-bubbles of our Mascarille- 
Marquises. 16 It drives me mad to see people make them- 
selves ridiculous, in spite of their rank ; folks who always 
decide, and talk boldly of everything without knowledge : 
who will shout with pleasure at the bad parts of a comedy, 
and never applaud those which are good; who, when 
they see a picture, or go to a concert, blame and praise 
all by rule of contraries ; who pick up artistic shibboleths 
wherever they can, get them by heart, and never fail to 
twist and misplace them. Zounds, gentlemen, hold your 
peace. Since Heaven has not blessed you with the know- 
ledge of one single thing, do not make yourselves laugh- 
ing-stocks to those who hear you ; and remember, that, 
if you never open your mouths, you may perhaps be taken 
for clever men. 

MAR. Egad, sir, you are carrying this . . . 

DOR. Why, Marquis, I am not speaking to you. I am 
addressing a round dozen of those gentry who disgrace 
courtiers by their nonsensical manners, and make people 
believe we are all alike. For my part, I shall disclaim it 
as much as I can. I shall fall foul of them whenever we 
meet, until they grow wise at last. 

MAR. Now tell me, sir, do you think Lysander has wit? 

15 See Prefatory Memoir, page 26., note 7. 

16 See Tkt Pretentious Yn-ung Ladies, page 130. 


DOR. Yes, doubtless, and a good deal of it. 

UR. That is what no one can deny. 

MAR. Ask him what he thinks of The School for Wives. 
You shall see he will tell you he does not like it. 

DOR. Upon my word, there are plenty who are spoiled 
by too much wit, who see things imperfectly, because the 
light is too strong, and who would even be very sorry to 
be of other people's opinion, so that they may have the 
glory of passing judgment themselves. 17 

UR. It is true. Our friend is doubtless one of those 
people. He must be first in his opinion, and would have 
others wait respectfully for his decision. All applause 
which precedes his own is an outrage on his enlighten- 
ment, which he avenges openly by taking the other side. 
He expects people to consult him in all questions of wit : 
and I am sure that if the author had shown him his play 
before he let the public see it, he would have thought it 
the finest in the world. 

MAR. And what do you say of the Marchioness Ara- 
minta, who declares The School for Wives everywhere 
dreadful, and says she never could endure the improprie- 
ties of which it is full ? 

DOR. I say that this is of a piece with the character she 
assumes, and that some folks make themselves ridiculous 
by affecting too much honour. Witty, no doubt, she is, 
but she has followed the bad example of those who, being 
in the decline of life, wish to replace by some means or 
other what they have lost, and fancy that grimaces of fas- 
tidious prudery will serve instead of youth and beauty. 
The lady in question carries it farther than any one ; her 
scrupulous ingenuity finds obscenity where no one would 
ever have seen it. I hear that these scruples go the length 
of disfiguring our language ; and that there are scarcely 
any words in it .of which our lady's severity will not 
dock either head or tail, on account of the immodest 
syllables she finds in them. 18 

"Compare, in Vol. II., in The Misanthrope (Act ii. Scene 5), the de- 
scription of Damis by C61imene. 

18 This idea is also developed by MoliSre in The Countess of Escarbag* 
nas (Scene 19), and in The Blue Stockings (Act in. Scene 2). Both these 
plays will be found in the third volume. 


UR. What a wag you are, Chevalier ! 

MAR. So, Chevalier, you think to defend your play by 
satirizing those who condemn it ? 

DOR. By no means ; but I think that this lady is scan- 
dalized without reason . . . 

EL. Gently, Chevalier ; there may be other ladies of 
the same mind. 

DOR. I know, at all events, that you are not ; and that 
when you saw this play . . . 

EL. True, but I have changed my opinion, and this 
lady {pointing to Climene) supports her by such convincing 
reasons, that she has won me over to her side. 

DOR. (To Climene}. Oh ! Madam, I beg your pardon ; 
and if you will, I shall for your sake unsay all that I have 

CL. I will not have it for my sake, but for reason's sake: 
for indeed this piece, if you look at it properly, is quite 
indefensible, and I cannot imagine . . . 

UR. Ah, here is Mr. Lysidas, the author. He comes 
just in time for this discussion. Mr. Lysidas, take a chair, 
and sit down here. 


LYS. Madam, I am rather late ; but I was obliged to 
read my piece at the house of the Marchioness, of whom I 
spoke to you ; the praise bestowed on it kept me an hour 
longer than I anticipated. 

EL. Praise has a great charm to delay an author. 

UR. Sit down, then, Mr. Lysidas; we shall read your 
play after supper. 

LYS. All who were there are coming to the first repre- 
sentation, and have promised to do their duty as they 

UR. I believe it. But pray, once more, please to sit 
down. We are engaged on a subject which I shall be glad 
we should pursue. 

LYS. I trust, Madam, that you will also take a box fbr 
that day. 

UR. We shall see. Pray let us go on with our conver- 


LYS. I warn you, Madam, that they are nearly all taken. 

UR. That is capital. Now I was wanting you when you 
came, and every one here was against me. 

EL. (To Urania, and pointing to Dorante), He was on 
your side at first, but now {pointing to Climeni) that he 
knows that Climene is at the head of the opposite party, I 
fancy you may just look for other aid. 

CL. No, no ; I would not have him neglect your cousin, 
and I will allow his wit to be on the side of his heart. 

DOR. With this permission, Madam, I shall make bold 
to defend myself. 

UR. But first let us know somewhat of Lysidas' mind. 

LYS. Upon what, Madam? 

UR. On the subject of The School for Wives. 

LYS. Ah h! 

DOR. What do you think of it ? 

LYS. I have nothing to say on that head. You know 
that, amongst us authors, we must speak of each other's 
works with great circumspection. 

DOR. But still, between ourselves, what do you think of 
this play ? 

LYS. I, Sir? 

UR. Tell us your candid opinion. 

LYS. I think it very fine. 

DOR. Really? 

LYS. Really. Why not? Is it not indeed the finest 
conceivable ? 

DOR. Hum, hum ; you are a wicked fellow, Mr. Lysi- 
das. You do not speak as you think. 

LYS. Pardon me. 

DOR. Oh dear, I know you. Do not dissemble. 

LYS. I, Sir? 

DOR. I see clearly that you praise the piece only 
through politeness, and that, at the bottom of your heart, 
you agree with the many who think it bad. 

LYS. Ha, ha, ha ! 

DOR. Come, confess that this comedy is a wretched 

LYS. True, it is not admired by connoisseurs. 

MAR. Upon my word, Chevalier, you have got it ! You 
are paid for your raillery. Ha, ha, ha ! 



DOR. Laugh away, dear Marquis, laugh away. 

MAR. You see we have the learned on our side. 

DOR. It is true. Lysidas' judgment is worth considera- 
tion. But he will excuse me if I do not yield for all that; 
and since I have presumed to defend myself against this 
lady's opinion {pointing to Climene), he will not take it 
amiss if I oppose his. 

EL. What ! when you see this lady, the Marquis, and 
Mr. Lysidas against you, dare you still resist? Fie, what 
bad manners ! 

CL. For my part, what confounds me is that sensible 
people can take it into their heads to defend the stupidities 
of this piece. 

MAR. Egad, Madam, it is wretched from beginning to 

DOR. That is soon said, Marquis. There is nothing 
more easy than to cut the matter short in that way ; and 
I do not see anything that can stand against the sover- 
eignty of your decisions. 

MAR. Gad, all the other actors who went to see it spoke 
all the ill they could of it. 

DOR. Oh ! I will not say another word. You are right, 
Marquis. Since the other actors speak ill of it, we must 
certainly believe them. They are all discerning gentle- 
men, and speak disinterestedly. There is no more to be 
said. I give in. 

CL. Give in or not, I am sure you will never persuade 
me to endure the immodesties of this play, any more 
than the rude satires on woman which are to be found 
in it. 

UR. For my part, I shall be careful not to be offended, 
and to take nothing to myself that is said in it. Satire 
of this kind is aimed directly at habits, and only hits 
individuals by rebound. Let us not apply to ourselves the 
points of general censure ; let us profit by the lesson, if 
possible, without assuming that we are spoken against. 
All the ridiculous delineations which are drawn on the 
stage should be looked oa by every one without annoy- 
ance. They are public mirrors, in which we must never 
pretend to see ourselves. To bruit it about that we are 
offended at being hit, is to state openly that we are at fault. 


CL. As for me, I do not speak of these things for any 
part I may have in them ; I think I live in such a manner 
before the world as not to fear being looked for in a pic- 
ture of ill-behaved women. 

EL. Certainly, Madam, we will never look for you 
there. Your conduct is sufficiently well known, and these 
are things that no one thinks of discussing. 

UR. (To Climene}. Madam, I said nothing that could 
apply to you ; my words, like the satire of a comedy, are 
confined to generalities. 

CL. I do not doubt it, Madam. But let us no longer 
dwell on this episode. I do not know how you take the 
insults cast upon our sex in a certain part of the play ; for 
my part, I own I am in a terrible passion to hear this 
impertinent author call us bipeds. 19 

UR. Do you not see that it is a ridiculous character he 
makes to speak so ? 

DOR. And besides, Madam, do you not know that the 
reproaches of lovers never offend ; that it is pretty much 
the same with furious, as with mawkish lovers ; and that 
on such occasions the strangest words, and worse than 
strange, are often taken as marks of affection by the very 
persons who receive them ? 

EL. Say what you will, I cannot digest that, any more 
than the broth and cream tart, of which this lady was just 

MAR. Oh! Upon my word, yes ; cream tart! That is 
what I was saying; cream tart! How I thank you, 
Madam, for reminding me of cream tart! Are there 
apples enough in Normandy 20 for cream tart? Cream 
tart, egad, cream tart ! 

DOR. Well, what do you mean with your cream tart? 

MAR. 'Sdeath! Cream tart, Chevalier ! 

DOR. But what ? 

MAR. Cream tart ! 

DOR. Let us have your reasons. 

MAR. Cream tart .' 

"See The School for Wives, Act v., Scene 4. 

M Normandy is especially an apple-growing country ; hence the allusion 
to the custom of throwing cooked or raw apples at the actors who dis- 
please the public. 


UR. But I think you should explain your meaning. 

MAR. Cream tart, Madam ! 

UR. What do you find there to object to ? 

MAR. I? Nothing! Cream tart ! 

UR. Oh ! I give it up. 

EL. My lord goes the right way to work, and gives it 
you nicely. But I wish Mr. Lysidas would finish, and 
give them a touch or two in his fashion. 

LYS. It is not my wont to find fault. I am very in- 
dulgent to the works of other people. But, indeed, with- 
out any offence to the friendship which the Chevalier 
bears to the author, it must be owned that comedies of 
this kind are not genuine comedies, and that there is a 
vast difference between these trifles and the beauty of 
serious pieces. Yet, every one gives into it nowadays; 
nothing else is run after ; we find lamentable solitude at 
great productions, whilst these stupid plays have all Paris 
after them. My heart, I own, bleeds at it sometimes ; it is 
a scandal to all France. 

CL. It is true that people's taste is strangely corrupted 
in this matter, and that the age is getting very low. 21 

EL. Oh, that is exquisite again getting very low. Did 
you invent that, Madam? 

CL. Ay! 

EL. I thought so. 

DOR. So you think, Lysidas, that all the wit and beauty 
are to be found in serious poems, and that comic pieces 
are trifles which deserve no praise ? 

UR. I certainly do not think so. Tragedy no doubt is 
very fine when it is well written ; but comedy has also its 
charms, and I believe that one is no less difficult than the 

DOR. Assuredly, Madam ; and as to the difficulty, if 
you should rather set it on the side of comedy, perhaps 
you would not be far wrong.. Indeed, I think that it is 
much easier to soar with grand sentiments, to brave for- 
tune in verse, to arraign destiny and reproach the Gods, 
than to broach ridicule in a fit manner, and to make the 

21 The original has J encanailler, a word which had only lately been 
coined by the Marchioness de Maulny, one of the precieuses. 


faults of all mankind seem pleasant on the stage. When 
you paint heroes you can do as you like. These are fancy 
portraits, in which we do not look for a resemblance ; you 
have only to follow your soaring imagination, which often 
neglects the true in order to attain the marvellous. But 
when you paint men, you must paint after nature. We 
expect resemblance in these portraits ; you have done 
nothing, if you do not make us recognise the people of 
your day. In a word, in serious pieces, it suffices, to 
escape blame, to speak good sense, and to write well. 
But this is not enough in comedy. You must be merry ; 
and it is a difficult undertaking to make gentle folks 

CL. I think I am one of the gentle folks ; and yet I did 
not find cause for laughter in all I saw. 

MAR. Upon my word, no more did I ! 

DOR. Oh, you, Marquis I am not astonished. That 
was because you found no puns in it. 

LYS. Faith, sir, what we find there is not much better ; 
all the jokes in this comedy are to my mind a little insipid. 

DOR. The Court did not think so. 

LYS. Ah, sir, the Court? 

DOR. Pray, finish, Mr. Lysidas. I see you mean to say 
that the Court is no judge in these matters ; and this is 
the usual refuge of you gentlemen authors, in the scant 
success of your own works, to accuse the injustice of the 
age, and the want of discernment of the courtiers. Be 
assured, Mr. Lysidas, that courtiers have as good eyes as 
other people ; that folks who wear Venice lace and feathers 
may be as acute as those who wear a bob-wig and a little 
all-round cravat ; that the grand test of all your plays is 
the judgment of the Court ; that you must study its taste, 
in order to find the art of success ; that there is no place 
where decisions are so just ; and that, not to speak of all 
the learned men to be found there, a style of wit is created 
amongst them, by sheer natural common sense and the 
intercourse of people of fashion, which, beyond question, 
judges more delicately of things than all the rusty learning 
of pedants." 

n Compare Dryden's Defence of the Epilogue, in which he states : 


UR. It is true that, however little you remain there, you 
have plenty of things daily passing before your eyes to give 
you a habit of recognising them ; and especially, as to 
what concerns good or bad raillery. 

DOR. The Court, I grant you, has a few ridiculous 
people ; and I am, as you may see, the first to banter them. 
But, upon my word, there is a great number, too, amongst 
professional wits ; if we ridicule some Marquises, I fancy 
there is much more reason to ridicule authors. It would 
be amusing to put them on the stage, with their learned 
antics and ridiculous refinements ; their vicious custom of 
killing folks in their plays, their greed of praise, their 
scantiness of thought, their traffic of reputation, their 
cliques, offensive and defensive, as well as their wars of wit, 
and combats in prose and verse. 

LYS. Moliere is very happy, sir, in having so warm a 
defender. But, to come to facts, the question is whether 
this piece is good ; I engage to shew in it a hundred 
manifest faults. 

UR. It is strange in you gentlemen poets that you always 
condemn the pieces which every one runs after, and speak 
well only of those which no one goes to see. You display 
an unconquerable hatred for the one, and an inconceivable 
tenderness for the others. 

DOR. That is because it is generous to side with the un- 

UR. But, pray, Mr. Lysidas, point us out some of those 
faults, which I could not detect. 

LYS. Those who are versed in Aristotle and Horace, 
Madam, see at once that this comedy sins against all the 
rules of Art. 

UR. I confess that I am not familiar with those gentle- 
men, and that I do not know the rules of Art. 

DOR. You are a most amusing set with your rules of 
Art, with which you embarrass the ignorant, and deafen 
us perpetually. To hear you talk, one would suppose that 

" Whence is it that our conversation is so much refined ? I must freely, 
and without flattery, ascribe it to the court ; and in it, particularly to the 
king, whose example gives a law to it." Sir Walter Scott, in a note on 
these words, remarks, " this passage, though complimentary to Charles, 
contains much sober truth. 1 ' 


those rules of Art were the greatest mysteries in the world ; 
and yet they are but a few simple observations which good 
sense has made upon that which may impair the pleasure 
taken in that kind of poems; and the same good sense 
which in former days made these observations makes them 
every day easily, without resorting to Horace and Aris- 
totle. I should like to know whether the great rule of all 
rules is not to please; and whether a play which attains 
this has not followed a good method ? Can the whole 
public be mistaken in these matters, and cannot everyone 
judge what pleases him? 

UR. I have observed one thing in these gentlemen ; and 
that is, that those who speak most of rules, and who know 
them better than others, write comedies which no one 

DOR. Which shews, Madam, how little notice we should 
take of their troublesome objections. For, in short, if 
pieces according to rule do not please, and those do please 
which are not according to rule, then the rules must, of 
necessity, have been badly made. So let us laugh at the 
sophistry with which they would trammel the public taste, 
and let us judge a comedy only by the effect which it pro- 
duces upon ourselves. Let us give ourselves up honestly 
to whatever stirs us deeply, and never hunt for arguments 
to mar our pleasure. 

UR. For my part, when I see a play, I look only 
whether the points strike me; and when I am well en- 
tertained, I do not ask whether I have been wrong, and 
whether the rules of Aristotle would forbid me to 

DOR. It is just as if a man were to taste a capital sauce, 
and wished to know whether it were good according to the 
recipe in the cookery-book. 

UR. Very true ; and I wonder at the critical refine- 
ments of certain people about things in which we should 
think for ourselves. 

DOR. You are right, madam, in thinking all these mys- 
terious critical refinements very odd. For really, if they 
are to subsist, we are reduced to discrediting ourselves. 
Our very senses must be slaves in everything ; and, even 
in eating and drinking, we must no longer dare to find 


anything good, without permission from the committee 
of Taste. 

LYS. So, sir, your only reason is that The School for 
Wives has pleased you ; you care not whether it be accord- 
ing to rule, provided . . . 

DOR. Gently, Mr. Lysidas; I do not grant you that. I 
certainly say that the great art is to please ; and that, as 
this comedy has pleased those for whom it was written, I 
think that is enough, and that we need not care about 
anything else. But, at the same time, I maintain that it 
does not sin against any of the rules to which you allude. 
I have read them, thank Heaven ! as well as other men. 
and I could easily prove that perhaps we have not on the 
stage a more regular play than this. 

EL. Courage, Mr. Lysidas ; we are undone if you give 

LYS. What, sir ! when the protasis, the epitasis, the 
peripetia . . . 

DOR. Nay, Mr. Lysidas, you overwhelm us with your 
fine words. Pray, do not seem so learned. Humanize 
your discourse a little, and speak intelligibly. Do you 
fancy a Greek word gives more weight to your arguments ? 
And do you not think that it would look as well to say, 
"the exposition of the subject," as the " protasis ; " the 
" progress of the plot," as the " epitasis ; the " crowning 
incident," as the "peripetia?" 

LYS. These are terms of art that we are allowed to make 
use of. But as these words offend your ears, I shall ex- 
plain myself in another way ; and I ask you to give me a 
plain answer to three or four things which I have to say. 
Can a piece be endured which sins against the very descrip- 
tion of a play? For, after all, the name of a dramatic 
poem comes from a Greek word which signifies to act, in 
order to shew that the nature of the poem consists in ac- 
tion. But, in this comedy, there are no actions ; it is made 
up of narratives by Agnes, or by Horace. 

MAR. Ha ! ha ! Chevalier. 

CL. Ingeniously said. Now we come to the point. 

LYS. Can anything be less witty, or, rather, more low, 
than some of the words at which every one laughs ; above 
all, children through the ear ? 


CL. Capital ! 

EL. Oh! 

LYS. Is not the scene of the servant-man and maid, 
indoors, of tedious length, and absolutely contemptible? 23 

MAR. True. 

CL. Assuredly. 

EL. He is right. 

LYS. Does not Arnolphe give his money too readily to 
Horace ? And, as he is the ridiculous character of the 
piece, ought he to be made to do the action of a gentle- 

MAR. Good ! The observation is good again. 

CL. Admirable ! 

EL. Marvellous ! 

LYS. Are not the sermon and maxims ridiculous, offend- 
ing against the respect due to religion ? M 

MAR. Well said ! 

CL. Spoken as it ought to be ! 

EL. Nothing could be better ! 

LYS. And this Monsieur de la Souche, to be brief, who 
is supposed to be a sensible man, and who appears so grave 
in many passages, does he not descend to something too 
comical and too exaggerated in the fifth act, when he de- 
clares the vehemence of his love for Agnes, with that wild 
rolling of his eyes, those ridiculous sighs, those silly tears, 
which set every one laughing ? 

MAR. Wonderful, egad ! 

CL. Miraculous ! 

EL. Long live Mr. Lysidas ! 

LYS. I pass over a hundred thousand other things, for 
fear of being tedious. 

MAR. Upon my word, Chevalier, you are in for it ! 

DOR. We shall see. 

MAR. You have met your man. 

DOR. Perhacps so. 

MAR. Answer, answer, answer, answer. 

DOR. Willingly. It is . . . 

MAR. Answer, I beg you. 

2S See The School for Wives, Act i., scene 2, page 369. 
24 See The School for Wives, Act iii., Scene 2, page 354. 


DOR. Allow me then. If ... 

MAR. 'Gad, I defy you to answer. 

Dor. Yes. If you talk perpetually. 

CL. Pray let us hear his reasons. 

DOR. First, it is not true to say that the whole piece 
consists only of narratives. There is a good deal of action 
in it, passing on the stage ; the narratives are themselves 
actions, according to the constitution of the piece, inas- 
much as these narratives are all naturally told to the 
person concerned, who, by these means, is every moment 
thrown into a confusion which delights the audience, and 
who, at each fresh tiding, takes all the measures he can to 
ward off the misfortune which he dreads. 

UR. For my part, I think the beauty of the subject of 
The School for Wives consists in this continual confidence ; 
and what seems to me diverting enough is, that a sensible 
man who is warned of everything by an innocent creature 
whom he loves, and by a marplot, who is his rival, can- 
not, for all that, escape his fate. 

MAR. Nonsense ! nonsense ! 

CL. A weak answer. 

EL. Pitiful reasons. 

DOR. As to the children through the ear, it has no jest 
in it except as regards Arnolphe; the author did not in- 
sert it as a jest, but only as a characteristic of the man, 
and the better to depict his craze ; since he repeats a vul- 
gar, stupid saying of Agnes as the finest thing in the 
world, and one which has given him inconceivable plea- 

MAR. Wretchedly answered. 

CL. That will not satisfy us. 

EL. It is saying nothing. 

DOR. As to the money which he gives so liberally, be- 
sides that the letter of his best friend is a sufficient surety 
for him, it is by no means incompatible for a man to be 
ridiculous in some things and worthy in others. And as 
to the scene between Alain and Georgette, in the house, 
which some think long and insipid, it is certainly not 
without its reasons ; and just as Arnolphe is victimized 
during his journey by the pure innocence of his mistress, 
so, on his return, he is kept a long time at his own door 


by the innocence of his servants, just that he may be 
punished throughout by the very things whereby he 
thought to make his precautions good. 

MAR. These reasons are good-for-nothing. 

CL. All this is not worth a jot. 

EL. It is pitiful. 

DOR. As to the moral discourse, which you call a ser- 
mon, it is a fact that truly religious people who heard it 
saw nothing that shocked what you mentioned ; and 
doubtless those words, " hell," and " boiling cauldrons " 
are sufficiently justified by the extravagance of Arnolphe, 
and by the innocence of her to whom he speaks. As for 
the amorous transports of the fifth act, which you blame 
as too exaggerated and burlesqued, I should like to know 
whether this is not a satire on lovers, and whether sober 
people, and even the most staid, on such occasions, do 
not do things . . . 

MAR. Upon my word, Chevalier, you had better hold 
your tongue. 

DOR. Very well. In short, if we were to look at our- 
selves when we are much in love . . . 

MAR. I will not so much as listen to you. 

DOR. Hear me, pray. In the violence of our passion . . 

MAR. Tol, lol, lol, lol, de rol, tol, lol, lol, lol, de rol. 

DOR. What? 

MAR. Tol, lol, lol, lol, lol, de rol, tol, lol, lol, de rol. 

DOR. I am not aware . . . 

MAR. Tol, lol, lol, lol, de rol, tol, lol, lol, lol, de rol. 

UR. I think that . . . 

MAR. Tol, lol, lol, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. 

UR. There are many funny things in our discussion. I 
fancy a little comedy might be made out of them, and 
that it would not be a bad wind-up to The School for 

DOR. You are right. 

MAR. Egad, Chevalier, you would play a part in it not 
at all to your advantage. 

DOR. True, Marquis. 

CL. For my part, I wish it could be done, if they could 
give the whole thing just as it has happened. 


EL. And I would gladly furnish them with my part. 

LYS. I think I should not refuse them mine. 

UR. As every one is satisfied, Chevalier, write out our 
discussion, and give it to Moliere, whom you know, to 
work into a play. 

CL. He would not care for it, I am sure; it would be 
no panegyric upon him. 

UR. No, no, I know his mood ; he does not mind if 
people criticise his pieces, so that they come to see them. 

DOR. Ay. But what ending can we find to this plot ? 
For there can be neither marriage nor recognition, and I 
do not see how we can finish the discussion. 

UR. We must think of some incident for that. 


GAL. Madam, supper is ready. 

DOR. Ah ! This is just what we wanted for an ending 
and we can find nothing more natural. They shall dis- 
pute hard and fast on both sides, as we have done, with- 
out any one giving way; a boy shall come and say " sup- 
per is ready ;" every one shall rise and go to supper. 

UR. The comedy cannot end better; we shall do well 
to stop here. 





OCT. I4TH, 1663. 


IN the delightful Impromptu de Versailles, which was performed for the 
first time at Versailles, during some part of the month of October, 1663,! 
Moliere hits round freely and pleasantly at all the world, himself included ; 
but the principal object which he had in its conception was to retaliate 
upon his critics, and, in particular, upon his rivals of the h6tel de 
Bourgogne. The School for Wives criticised had, by its keen satire, 
exasperated that part of Parisian society which had been loudest in its 
cavils at Moliere's genius and success; and they who had felt the direct- 
ness of his blows thirsted for revenge. The rival company, eager to 
pay their satirist in his own coin, and anticipating a run upon a play 
which should hold the poet up to ridicule, commissioned a young and 
unknown writer, Edme Boursault, 2 to supply them with a new comedy, 
and the result was The Painter's Portrait, in which The School for Wives 
is, one of the staple subjects of ridicule. This piece, which was not 
represented until the last week in October, was well attended, and still 
more applauded ; but its merits were not such as to bring lasting fame to 
its author. There can, however, be no doubt that Moliere was hit by it 
rather harder than would appear from the dignified manner in which 
he rejoins or rather declines to rejoin to it in the Impromptu. It has 
been said that Moliere and his company were sent for by the King to 
Versailles, and that Louis commanded his favourite comic dramatist to 
reply to the attack of his critics, 8 for which purpose he placed the Court 
theatre at his disposal. Moliere found the task a difficult one, having 
only a few days in which to execute the commission ; but he cannot be 
held to have done anything unworthy of his fame in the bright and 

1 According to Taschereau's Histoire de la vie et des 'ouvrages de Moliere, Vol. 
I., page 82, and which precedes the works of our author, edited by the same gen- 
tleman, in 1858, in six volumes, Moliere and his troupe did not go to Versailles be- 
fore the i6th of October, and remained there until the 2pd ; hence The Impromptu 
could not have been performed on the i4th of that month, as is generally stated. In 
looking, however, at the second volume of Moliere's works, edited by the same 
Mons. Taschereau, I find, page 353, on the title-page of the Impromptu de Ver- 
sailles, " Representee . . . le 14 Octobre ibbj. The edition, published by M. 
Lemerre, ana which is a faithful reprint of the original editions of 1666 and 1682, 
gives the same date ; so does Jal in his Dictionnaire , and he even mentions that 
the King gave two thousand livres to Moliere and his troupe for this representation. 
M. Moland mentions the 24th of October 1663. 

2 Edme Boursault (1638-1701) was a dramatic author of moderate talents, but 
whose kind and frank character gained him many friends. Le Mercure Galant, 
Esope a la ville, and Esope a la cour, are considered his best plays. 

See page 448, note 6. 



sparkling Impromptu. It satisfied the King ; and as a reply to Bcmr- 
sault's play, was acted on the 4th of November at the Theatre of the 
Palais- Royal, and subsequently for three weeks, with considerable effect 
in bringing Moliere's rivals back to their senses. I strongly suspect that 
between the performance at Court and that before the public, Moliere 
enhanced and deepened some of his remarks against Boursault, and that 
the latter, Montfleury and De Villiers, did the same with the plays they 
wrote, attacking Moliere. In any case, our author did not think The 
Impromptu of Versailles of sufficiently enduring interest to merit print- 
ing, and it was not until after his death that his friend La Grange gave it 
to the world. 

It must have astonished the Court to see, on the rising of the curtain 
Moliere and his troupe not disguised, but in their every day apparel, with 
their ordinary countenances, all quarrelling among themselves, grumbling 
at the manager and author, preparing for a rehearsal, and behaving as if 
there was no public before them, and, above all, such a courtly public as 
was to be found in the Salle des Comedies at Versailles. But the fiction 
that the King was not present, and should not come for a couple of 
hours, saved appearances. 

It is to be regretted that Moliere in The Impromptu gave way to per- 
sonalities, a habit in which dramatic authors were formerly inclined to 
indulge too freely in every country, and which the improved good taste 
of the public has now generally banished from the stage. 

The Impromptu was attempted to be answered by Montfleury, junior, 
in V Impromptu de I'hotel de Conde, and by De Villiers in la Vengeance 
des Marquis ; both these plays were acted at the hotel de Bourgogne, but 
are now deservedly forgotten. The actors of the h6tel du Marais (see 
Prefatory Memoir,) tried to remain neutral, and played a comedy by 
Chevalier, called les Amours de Calotin, in which both parties, the troupe 
of Moliere and that of the hotel de Bourgogne, are faintly criticized. 
Two dissertations about The School for Wives, in the form of dialogues, 
were also printed, but not acted ; the one was called Le Panegyrique de 
I'Ecole desfemmes, ou Conversation comique sur les Oeuvres de M. de 
Moliere, by Robinet ; the other, which probably concludes in favour of 
Moliere, bore the title of La Guerre comique, ou la Defense de I'Ecole 
des Femmes, and was written by de la Croix. In " Le Panegyrique de 
I'Ecole des Femmes, published in Paris by Jean Guignard, le fils, en la 
grande salle du Palais, a F image de St. Jean, 1664, the author makes an 
Englishman (Lysandre) give his opinion upon The School for Wives. 
Upon being asked whether he had seen the piece, he answers that if busi- 
ness had not taken him to Paris, he would have come expressly in order 
to see it, as it had made a great noise already in England. Says he in 
reply to a question as regards the feeling upon it in his own country. 
" Two reasons prevent it being to the taste of every one, the first that it is 
a languishing comedy, and that as you are aware, the English only like 
pure tragedy ; the second, that the master of this school is morose and 
peevish, and wishes to make husbands the reverse of what they are in 
England, at which our ladies are not altogether pleased." A friend of 
his, a Frenchman, replies to this : " You are right, the husbands there 
are altogether good, I know it by experience. I have seen some here, 
who have really surprised me by their goodness. Far from being jealous 
of their wives, they like those who pay them attentions, and you can do 
them no greater favour than flatter their better halves." 

As in The Impromptu of Versailles, Moliere's actors appear, not in 


their dramatic, but in their own, characters, it behooves us to say some- 
thing of them here. In the Prefatory Memoir we have stated the names 
of those actors who were members of the Illustre Theatre, as well as those 
who left with Moliere for the provinces, and those who returned to Paris 
with him. We shall now briefly give a few details about the actors of the 
troupe of Moliere in 1663. Only two of them, Messrs. Duparc and De- 
brie, are not mentioned in the list of Dramatis Personse of The Impromptu ; 
later on, Hubert, Baron, Beauval and his wife, and Marie de 1'Estang 
became members of his company. 

Brecourt, whose real name was Guillaume Marcoureau, was a member 
of Moliere's troupe only from June 1662 until Easter 1664 ; before that 
time he had been an actor at the Theatre du Marais, and, after a quarrel 
with Moliere, left him for the hotel de Bourgogne. His life was full of 
accidents. Having killed a coachman, he was obliged to fly to Holland ; 
took service there under the Prince of Orange ; but having failed in his 
attempt to carry off one of his countrymen whom the French ministry 
wished to get hold of, and whom Brecourt had promised to deliver into 
their hands, he came back to Paris, received his pardon, and returned to 
the stage. He once, in presence of Louis XIV., and after a severe strug- 
gle, killed a wild boar with a sword. As a dramatic author, he possesses 
some, though not great, merit. One of his pieces, The Ghost of Moliere, 
written after Moliere's death, and in his praise, is dedicated to the Duke 
d'Enghien, formerly a great enemy of Moliere ; it was played at the hotel 
de Bourgogne ; and was, for a long time, printed at the end of Moliere's 
works. Brecourt died March a8th, 1685, from his having broken a blood- 
vessel, whilst playing before the Court in his own comedy Timon. 

Charles Varlet, known as de la Grange, was one of the best actors of 
Moliere's troupe, and the very words our author uses in addressing him 
(see page 453, prove this. He was the official orator of the company, de- 
livered all the customary speeches, and announced the new plays at the 
closing or opening of the theatre. Together with Vinot, he published in 
1682 the first collected edition of Moliere's works, in which appeared for 
the first time, Don Garcia, of Navarre, The Impromptu of Versailles, Don 
Juan, Melicerte, The Magnificent Lovers, The Countess of Escarbagnas, 
and The Hypochondriac. He died on the first of March, 1692, and left 
behind him a manuscript book, in quarto, which is even now carefully 
kept in an iron chest by the Come die francaise, and has for its title : Ex- 
trait des receptes et des affaires de la Comedie dtpuis pasques de I'annee 
1659, apartenant au sr. de la Grange, I'un des comediens du JRoy." 

Du Croisy, whose real name was Philbert Gassot, was a very able actor, 
who played the part of Tartuffe. After Moliere's death, he withdrew 
from the stage, and went to live at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Paris, where he died in 1695. 

La Thorilliere, whose real name was Lenoir, had been a captain in an 
infantry regiment, and marechal de camp. Smitten by a theatrical mania, 
he asked and obtained permission from Louis XIV., to resign, and to 
adopt the stage as a profession. He was of lofty stature, and is said to 
have played kings and peasants very well, for, in Moliere's time, these 
two parts were played by the same actor. A tragedy of his, Marc-Antoine 
et Cleopatre, which was never printed, had some success in its time. He 
died in 1680. 

Louis Rjart, surnamed L'Eguis^, the sharp one, one of the early actors 
in Moliere's troupe, was a younger brother of Madeleine and Genevieve 
B5jart, and appears to have acted servants' parts. He became lame in 


trying to separate two of his friends who wished to fight a duel. He was 
pensioned off in 1670, and died in 1678. 

Madame Duparc was the wife of Berthelot, otherwise called Duparc, 
with the cognomen of Gros-Rene, because he was very stout. Both hus- 
band and wife had joined Moliere's troop at Lyons in 1653, and remained 
with him, except for one year, when they were with the troupe of the 
Marais. Madame Duparc played the princesses in tragedies, and was so 
very handsome, that she attracted, and scandal says, responded to, the at- 
tentions of some of the most celebrated poets of the day. In 1667, three 
years after the death of her husband, she went to the hotel de Bourgogne, 
and there acted Andromaque in Racine's tragedy of that name. Report 
states that she was rather stiff and ceremonious : hence, in answer to Mo- 
liere's remarks in the Impromptu (see page 352), she replies " that no one 
in the world '' is less so than she. She died in 1668, only twenty-five 
years old. 

Madame Madeleine Bejart's life has been already described in the Pre- 
fatory Memoir ; to which we refer the reader. 

Madame Debrie, the wife of Edme Villequin Debrie, played inferior 
parts in Moliere's troupe. The stage gossip of the times, at no period a 
very sound authority, pretends that she had been beloved by Moliere. 
She was a very good and handsome actress, and acted, amongst others, 
the parts of Isabella in The School for Husbands, of Agnes in The School 
for Wives, and of 6liante in The Misanthrope. She retained her youth- 
ful appearance to an advanced age, and died in 1706. 

Madame Moliere was the wife of our celebrated author. In the Prefa- 
tory Memoir, I have already given some details of her marriage, and of 
the way in which she is said to have behaved to her husband. Her great 
charm appears to have been in her voice, which, according to all accounts, 
was both musical and pre-eminently feminine. The author of the Entre- 
tiensgalants says : *' Of this she is herself so well aware, that she has a 
different tone of voice for every different part she plays :'" hence she was 
an excellent actress. It has been generally said that Moliere describes 
his wife in The Citizen who apes the Nobleman (see Vol. III. Act iii. Sc. 
9) in the following words : " Her eyes are not large, but they are full of 
fire, the most brilliant, the most piercing, the most moving, imaginable. 
Her mouth is large ; but it possesses attractions unseen in other mouths. 
She is not tall ; but she is easy and elegant. She affects a careless air in 
her speech and carriage, but there is grace in all, and her manners have 
an inexpressible charm that appeals to every heart. Her wit is most re- 
fined and delicate ; her conversation delightful ; and if she be capricious 
"beyond compare, why, everything is becoming in a beauty, and we bear 
everything from a beauty.'' 

If we are to believe the gossip of the time, as repeated but not sub- 
stantiated by many of Moliere's biographers, Madame Moliere must have 
been a very depraved woman, who chose her lovers amongst the most 
elegant courtiers, such as the Duke de Lauzun, the Abb6 de Richelieu, 
Count du Quiche, and several others. These accusations are really 
backed by very little proof; but that Moliere was jealous is only too well 
ascertained. According to a libellous booklet, published fifteen years after 
Moliere's death, and called :' La Femeuse comedienne, ou Histoire de la 
Guerin, auparavant femme et veuve de Moliere ,* which is a store-house 
of the scandal from behind the wings, and has been a repository for all 

.* This book was published in 1688 at Frankfort, by Frans Rottemberg. 


the attacks made against Moliere or his wife, our author was one da/ 
walking with his friend Chapelle in his garden at Auteuil, " who perceiv- 
ing him to be more than usually out of sorts, pressed him several times 
to tell him the reason." Moliere, who was somewhat ashamed to have so 
little fortitude under so common a misfortune, avoided replying as long 
as he could ; but, as he was just then in one of those moods when the 
heart is full, so well known to persons in love, he yielded to the desire of 
unbosoming himself, and confessed frankly to his friend that the cause of 
his dejection was the manner in which he was compelled to treat his wife. 
Chapelle, who thought Moliere above that sort of thing, rallied him, be- 
cause a man who could so well depict the foibles of others gave way to 
the very one he was constantly attacking ; adding, that the most absurd 
thing of all was to continue loving a woman who responds in no way to 
the tenderness lavished upon her! "As for me," he continued, " I own 
that if I were so unfortunate as to find myself in such a case, and if I had 
a strong suspicion that the person in question granted her favours to 
others, I should feel so much scorn for her that it would infallibly cure 
me of my passion. Moreover, you have a satisfaction which you could 
not have were she a mistress ; for vengeance, which generally succeeds to 
love in a heart that has been wronged, may indemnify you for all that your 
wife makes you suffer ; since you have only to shut her up, and that will 
be a sure means of setting your mind at rest." Moliere, who had listened 
to his friend pretty quietly, here interrupted him to inquire whether he 
had ever been in love? Yes," replied Chapelle, " I have been so, as a 
sensible man should be ; but I should never have fretted at a course 
which my honour required I should pursue ; and I blush to find you so 
uneasy." " I see you have never yet been really in love," answered Mo- 
liere ; *' you have taken the semblance of love for love itself. 1 will not 
quote you a great many examples showing the potency of this passion ; I 
will merely describe to you faithfully my own condition, that you may 
comprehend how little one is master of oneself, when once the passion 
has assumed that ascendency of which temperament is usually the cause. 
In answer to your remark upon my perfect knowledge of the human 
heart, judging by those delineations of character which I daily put forth, 
I agree that I studied myself to the utmost, in order the more thoroughly 
to know its weakness ; but if my knowledge has taught me that peril is to 
be shunned, my experience has but too truly proved to me that it is im- 
possible to avoid it ; I learn this every day in my own case. I am by 
nature gifted with a great propensity to tenderness . . . , I wished that 
the innocence of my choice should be a guarantee for my happiness. I 
took my wife, so to say, from her cradle. I brought her up with a care 
which was the cause of the rumours you have no doubt heard. I im- 
agined that force of habit would inspire her with feelings,which time could 
not destroy* I have omitted nothing which might tend to win them. As 
she was very young when I married her, I did not perceive her bad ten- 
dencies ; and I believed myself a little less unfortunate than the gen- 
erality of those who enter into similar engagements. Marriage, therefore, 
did not slacken my attentions: but I discovered in her so much indiffer- 
ence, that I began to perceive that all my precaution had been useless, 
and that what she felt towards me was far removed from what I could 
have desired to form my happiness. I reproached myself with feeling a 
delicacy which seemed to me ridiculous in a husband. I attributed to 
her mood what was in fact her want of affection for me. But I had only 
too many opportunities to convince me of my error ; and the foolish pas- 


sion she displayed shortly after for the Count de Quiche was too notorious 
for me to remain long in this apparent tranquillity. As soon as I heard 
of it, I spared no pains to conquer my own feelings, as I felt it impossible 
to change hers. I summoned all my strength of mind to this end. I 
called to my aid everything that might tend to console me. I considered 
her as one whose sole merit was her innocence ; and who, because she 
was unfaithful, retained none. I resolved from that time to live with her 
as a man of honour should who has a coquettish wife, and who believes, 
notwithstanding what is generally said, that his good name is not depen- 
dent upon his wife's ill behaviour. Yet I had the mortification to see that 
a woman without beauty, and one who owes the small amount of wit she 
possesses to the education which I had given her, could destroy, in a single 
moment, all my philosophy. Her presence makes me forget my resolu- 
tions ; and the very first word she says to me in her own defence leaves 
me so convinced that my suspicions were unfounded, that I ask her par- 
don for having been so credulous. Yet my indulgence has not changed 
her. I have therefore determined to live with her as if she were not my 
wife ; but if you knew what I suffer, you would pity me. My passion has 
reached such a height, that it actually takes her part against myself; and 
when I reflect how impossible it is to overcome what I feel for her, I, at 
the same time, tell myself that perhaps she has equal difficulty in sup- 
pressing her inclination for coquetry : thus finding myself more ready to 
pity than to blame her. No doubt, you will tell me that a man must be 
mad to love in such a manner ; but, in my opinion, there is only one sort 
of love, and those who have never had such delicate feelings have never 
truly loved. Every earthly thing is associated with her in my heart ; my 
mind is so full of her, that I can do nothing in her absence to divert my 
thoughts. When I behold her, a thrill of emotion and transport, which 
can be experienced but not expressed, deprives me of composure. I have 
no eyes left for her defects : I see only all that renders her so irresistible. 
Is not this the height of infatuation ? And do you not wonder to find 
that what sense I have left serves but to make me perceive my weakness, 
without the power of conquering it ?" '' I confess, indeed," answered his 
friend, " that you are more to be pitied than I could have believed ; but 
we must hope all from time. Meanwhile, do not relax your efforts ; they 
will produce their effect when you least expect it. For my part, I shall 
not cease my prayers that your wishes may speedily be crowned.' 1 He 
thereupon withdrew ; leaving Moliere, who remained for some time lost 
in thought on the means of relieving his distress of mind." 

Four years after Moliere's death his widow married another comedian, 
Fran9ois Guerin duTricher or d'Estriche', who appears not to have pos- 
sessed the intellectual qualities of her first husband, but to have had other 
charms which captivated the fair widow, if we can believe an epigram 
written at the time of her marriage, in which it is said that Mad. Moliere 
had little love for her first husband, who was all mind, but much for her 
second, who was all body. She died the 3oth of November, 1700, about 
fifty-eight years old. 

Madame Du Croisy, whose maiden name was Marie Claveau, was an 
actress of very little talent. Her daughter was Madame Poisson, (see 
Prefatory Memoir). 

Madame Herv6, whose real name was Genevieve Bejart, was an elder 
sister of Madame Moliere, and took the name of Madame Herve', after 
her mother. She was twice married. Of her talents as an actress, very 
little is known. As to her acquaintance with Moliere, we have given a 


suggestion of Soulie in the Prefatory Memoir. She died at the end of 
June 1675. 

I have said above that the Impromptu was first represented before Louis 
XIV., hence its name of Impromptu de Versailles. It may be interesting 
to know how the actors and actresses were treated when at court. They 
each received an extra pay of six livres, all their expenses were paid, and 
even carriages were provided. If they had to go out of town the troupe 
had one thousand crowns per month, and each actor and actress two 
crowns per day for their expenses, as well as free lodgings. In summer, 
as well as in winter, each had three logs (pieces) of wood, one bottle of 
wine, one loaf, and, when at the Louvre, two wax candles ; when at Saint 
Germain, one large candle weighing two pounds j they also had every 
day, when they played at the King's, a lunch, which cost twenty-five 
crowns. This is what M. Chappuzeau states in his Theatre Francais, 
but the picture appears a little over-drawn, though it may have been true 
during the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV. But later on, if we 
consult the registres de la Come die francaise, we find that no carriages nor 
extras were provided, and that often the indemnity which was allowed, did 
not cover the expenses. 


MOLIERE, a ridiculous Marquis, 

BRECOURT, a man of Quality. 

LA GRANGE, a ridiculous Marquis. 

Du CROISY, a poet. 

LA THORILLIERE, a fidgetty Marquis. 

BEJART, a busybody. 


Mademoiselle DUPARC, 6 a ceremonious Marchioness. 
Mademoiselle BEJART, a prude. 
Mademoiselle DEBRIE, a sage coquette. 
Mademoiselle MOLIERE, a satirical wit. 
Mademoiselle Du CROISY, a whining plague. 
Mademoiselle HERVE, a conceited chambermaid. 


5 For the use of " Mademoiselle" instead of " Madame," see Prefatory 




MOL. (Alone, speaking to his fellow-actors behind the 
scenes). Come, ladies and gentlemen, is this delay meant 
for a joke? Are you never coming here? Plague take 
the people ! I say, Brecourt ! 

BRE. (Behind). What? 

MOL. La Grange ! 

LA GR. (Behind). What is it? 

MOL. Du Croisy! 

Du C. (Behind). Who calls? 

MOL. Mademoiselle Duparc ! 

MAD. DUP. (Behind). Well? 

MOL. Mademoiselle Bejart ! 

MAD. BEJ. (Behind). What is the matter? 

MOL. Mademoiselle Debrie ! 

MAD. DEB. (Behind). What do you want ? 

MOL. Mademoiselle Du Croisy ! 

MAD. Du C. (Behind}. Whatever is it? 

MOL. Mademoiselle Herv6 ! 

MAD. HER. (Behind). I am coming. 

MOL. I think I shall go mad with these people. Listen 
to me ! (Enter Brecourt, La Grange, Du Croisy). Deuce 
take me ! gentlemen, will you drive me out of my wits to- 



BRE. What would you have us do? We do not know 
our parts, and you will drive us out of our wits, if you 
force us to play in this style. 

MOL. Oh, what an awkward team to drive are actors ! 
{Enter Mesdemoiselles Bejart, Duparc, Debric, Moltere, 
Du Croisy, and Herve}. 

MAD. BEJ. Well, here we are. What do you mean to do? 

MAD. DUP. What is your idea? 

MAD. DEB. What is to be done? 

MOL. Pray, let us take our positions; and, since we are 
ready dressed, and the King will not come for a couple of 
hours, let us employ the time in rehearsing our piece, and 
see how we are to play our parts. 

LA. GR. How are we to play what we do not know? 

MAD. DUP. As for me, I declare that I do not remem- 
ber a word of my part. 

MAD. DEB. I am sure I shall have to be prompted from 
beginning to end. 

MAD. BEJ. And I just mean to hold mine in my hand. 

MAD. MOL. So do I. 

MAD. HER. For my part, I have not much to say. 

MAD. Du C. Nor I either; but, for all that, I would 
not promise not to make a slip. 

Du C. I would give ten pistoles to be out of it. 

BRE. I would stand a score of good blows with a whip 
to be the same, I assure you. 

MOL. You are all just disgusted at having parts that do 
not please you. What would you do if you were in my 
place, I should like to know. 

MAD. BEJ. Who, you ? You are not to be pitied ; for 
having written the piece, you need not be afraid of 

MOL. And have I nothing to fear but want of memory? 
Do you reckon the anxiety as to our success, which is 
entirely my own concern, nothing ? And do you think 
it a trifle to provide something comic for such an assembly 
as this ; to undertake to excite laughter in those who com- 
mand our respect, and who only laugh when they choose? 
Must not any author tremble when he comes to such a 
test ? Would it not be natural for me to say that I would 
give, everything in the world to be quit of it ? 


MAD. BEJ. If that makes you tremble, you should have 
been more careful, and not have undertaken what you 
have done in eight days 

MOL. How could I refuse the command of a King ? 

MAD. BEJ. How ? By a respectful excuse, based on the 
impossibility of the thing in the short time that was al- 
lowed you. Anyone else in your place would have thought 
more of his reputation, and would have taken care not to 
expose himself, as you are doing. What will you do, pray, 
if the thing fails ? Think what advantage all your ene- 
mies will take of it. 

MAD. DEB. Ay, to be sure ! You ought to have re- 
spectfully excused yourself to the King, or required more 

MOL. Oh ! Mademoiselle, Kings like nothing better 
than a ready obedience, and are not at all pleased to meet 
with obstacles. Things are not acceptable, save at the 
moment when they desire them ; to try to delay their 
amusement is to take away all the charm. They want 
pleasures that do not keep them waiting ; and those that 
are least prepared are always the most agreeable to them. 
We ought never to think of ourselves in what they desire 
of us ; our only business is to please them ; and, when 
they command us, it is our part to respond quickly to 
their wish. We had better do amiss what they require of 
us, than not do it soon enough ; if we have the shame of 
not succeeding, we always have the credit of having 
speedily obeyed their commands. But now, pray, let us 
set about our rehearsal. 

MAD. BEJ. What would you have us do, if we do not 
know our parts ? 

MOL. I tell you, you shall know them ; even if you do 
not quite know them, can you not fill in out of your 
own heads, as it is in prose, and you know your sub- 

MAD. BEJ. Thank you for nothing ! Prose is worse 
than verse. 

MAD. MOL. Shall I tell you what it is ? You ought to 
write a comedy in which you could act all alone. 

MOL. Be quiet, wife. What a dunce you are ! 

MAD. MOL. Thanks, dear husband. That just shows 


how strangely marriage alters people. You would not have 
said that to me eighteen months ago. 

MOL. Pray be quiet. 

MAD. MOL. It is an odd thing that a trifling ceremony 
deprives us of all our good qualities, and that a husband 
and a lover regard the same woman with such different 

MOL. Here is a sermon ! 

MAD. MOL. Upon my word, if I were to write a comedy, 
that should be my subject ; I would justify women in many 
things of which they are accused, and I would make hus- 
bands afraid of the contrast between their abrupt manners 
and the civility of lovers. 

MOL. Well, let it pass. We cannot chatter now ; we 
have something else to do. 

MAD. BEJ. But, since you were ordered to work on the 
subject of the criticism that is passed on you, 6 why not 
write that comedy of actors 7 that you have talked about 
so long? It was a ready-made notion, and would have 
come quite pat; the more so, as, having undertaken to 
delineate you, they gave you an opportunity to delineate 
them ; it might have been called their portrait, far more 
justly than all their productions can be called yours. For, 
to try to mimic a comedian in a comic part is not to de- 
scribe himself, but only after him the characters he repre- 
sents, and making use of the same touches, and the same 
hues which he is obliged to employ in the various ridicu- 
lous characters that he draws from nature. But to mimic 
an actor in serious parts is to describe him by faults which 
are entirely his own, since characters of this kind do not 
carry either the gestures or ridiculous tones by which the 
actor is recognised. 

MOL. It is true ; but I have my reasons for not doing 
it ; between ourselves, I did not think it would be worth 
the trouble ; and, besides, I should want more time to 
work out the idea. As their days for acting are the same 

* See Introductory Notice, page 435. 

7 See The School for Wives criticised, where Dorante throws out this 
Idea : " It would be amusing to put them (the actors) oil the stage, with 
their learned antics and ridiculous refinements," &c. 


as our own, 8 1 have hardly seen them three or four times 
since we have been in Paris; I have caught nothing of 
their style of delivery, but what was at once apparent to 
the eye ; I should have to study them more, to make my 
portraits very like them. 9 

MAD. DUP. I must say I have recognised some of them 
in your imitations. 

MAD. DEB. I never heard this talked of. 

MOL. I had the idea once in my head, but I dismissed 
it as a trifle, a jest, which might have raised a laugh. 

MAD. DEB. Give me a specimen, as you have given it 
to others. 

MOL. We have no time now. 

MAD. DEB. Just a word or two ! 

MOL. I thought of a comedy in which there should have 
been a poet, whose part I would have taken myself, com- 
ing to offer a piece to a strolling company fresh from the 
provinces. "Have you actors and actresses," he was to 
say, "capable of doing justice to a play? For my play 
is a play ..." "Oh, sir," the comedians were to an- 
swer, "we have ladies and gentlemen who have passed 
muster wherever we have been." "And who plays the 
Kings amongst you?" "There is an actor who some- 
times undertakes it." "Who? That well-made young 
man? Surely you jest. You want a King who is very 
fat, and as big as four men. A king, by Jove, well stuffed 
out. A king of vast circumference, who could fill a 
throne handsomely. 10 Only fancy a well-made king! 
There is one great fault to begin with; but let me hear 
him recite a dozen lines." Then the actor should repeat 
for example, some lines of the king in Nicomede : " 

8 By " their," is meant the comedians of the hotel de Bourgogne, who, 
as well as Moliere's troupe, played on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. 

9 A clever side hit at the rival comedians who had been satirizing our 
poet, and who had no better opportunity of studying Moliere, than he of 
studying them. 

10 An allusion to Montfleury, an actor of the h&tel de Bourgogne who 
was very stout, and of whom one of his contemporaries said : " He is so 
fat, that it takes several days to give him a sound beating." 

11 Nicomede is a tragedy of Corneille. These lines are said by Prusias. 
and the passage is Act ii., Scene i. 


' ' I say, Araspus, he has too well served me, 
Has raised my power ..." 

and so on, in the most natural manner he could. Then 
the poet: "What? Call you that reciting? You are 
joking. You should say things with an emphasis. Listen 
to me." (He imitates Montfleury, a comedian of the hotel 
de Bourgogne). 

" I say, Araspus," &c. 

"Do you see this attitude? Observe that well. There, 
lay the proper stress on the last line ; that is what elicits 
approbation, and makes the public applaud you." "But, 
sir," the actor was to answer, " methinks a King who is 
conversing alone with the captain of his guards talks a 
little more mildly, and hardly uses this demoniacal tone." 
" You do not understand it. Go and speak in your way, 
and see if you get an atom of applause." "Ah, let us 
hear a scene between a lover and his mistress." On which 
an actor and actress should have played a scene together 
that of Camilla and Curiatius : 12 

"Dost go, dear soul, and does this fatal honour 
So charm thee at the cost of all our bliss ? 
Ah ! now too well I see, etc . . . . " 

like the other, as naturally as they could. And the poet 
would break out : " You are joking ; that is good for 
nothing. This is how you ought to recite it : " {Imitating 
Mad. de Beauchateau, an actress of the hotel de B t ourgogne). 

" Dost go, dear soul, &c. 

" Nay, but I know the better, etc." . . 

" See how natural and impassioned this is. Admire the 
smiling face she maintains in the deepest affliction." 

12 Personages from Les Horaces, a tragedy by P. Corneille. 

18 Madeleine de Bouget, the wife of Beauchateau, the actor, a very 
handsome and clever actress, played the princesses in tragedy, as well as 
the ingenues in comedy. She died at Versailles, on the 6th of January, 
1683. The first two lines, " Dost go, "are from les Horaces (Act ii., Scene 
5) ; the third is the answer of Curiatius, to whom Camilla replies in a 
speech beginning with, " Nay, but I know thee better." Moliere probably 
imitated the actor Beauchateau as Curiatius. 


There, that was my idea ; and my poet should have run 
through all the actors in the same manner. 

MAD. DEB. I like 'the notion ; and I recognised some 
of them by the very first lines. Do go on. 

MOL. (Imitating Beauchateau in some lines from Cid. u ) 

"Pierced to the centre of my heart," &c. 

And do you know this man in Sertorius' s Pompey? {Imi- 
tating JIauteroche, a comedian of the hotel de Bourgogne^ 

" The enmity which either faction sways 
Engenders here no honour," &c. 

MAD. DEB. I think I know him a little. 
MOL. And this one ? (Imitating de Villiers, another come- 
dian of the hotel de Bourgogne 1$ ) 

" My lord, Polybius is dead," &c. n 

MAD. DEB. Yes, I know who he is ; but I fancy there 
are some amongst them whom you would find it hard to 

MOL. Good Heavens ! there is not one that cannot be 
had somewhere, if I had studied them well. 18 But you 
make me lose precious time. Pray, let us think of our- 
selves, and not amuse ourselves any longer with talking. 
(To La Grange). Take care how you act the part of 
Marquis with me. 

MAD. MOL. Marquises again ? 

MOL. Yes, Marquises again. What the deuce would 
you have me hit on for a character acceptable to the 
audience ? The Marquis in these days is the funny 

14 TTie Cid and Sertorius were two tragedies by P. Corneille. 

ls Noel de Breton, sieur de Hauterocbe, born in Paris 1617, was of very 
good family, and became a comedian against their wish. After many ad- 
ventures he came to Paris, where he played, first at the theatre du Marais, 
and afterwards at the h&tel du Bourgogne, chiefly the confidants of the 
tragic heroes. Hauteroche was of lofty stature, and remarkably lean ; he 
was also an author, and died 1707, at the age of ninety years. 

16 De Villiers answered Moliere in la Vengeance des Marquis. 

17 This is taken from the third scene of the fifth act of CEdipz, a tra- 
gedy by Corneille, but it ought to be " King Polybius is dead." 

18 The only actor of the hotel de Bourgogne whom Moliere does not 
imitate is Floridor, who was really excellent. 


character in a comedy ; and as, in all the old comedies, there 
was always a clownish servant to make the spectators laugh, 
so now, in all our pieces, there must be always a ridiculous 
Marquis to divert the company. 

MAD. BEJ. It is true, that cannot be left out. 

MOL. As to you, Mademoiselle . . . 

MAD. DUP. Nay, as to me, I shall act wretchedly; I 
do not know why you have given me this ceremonious 

MOL. Good Heavens ! Mademoiselle, that is what you 
said when you had your part in The School for Wives 
criticised; yet you acquitted yourself admirably, and 
everyone agreed that it could not be better done. Believe 
me, this will be the same ; you will play it better than you 

MAD. DUP. How can that be? There is no one in the 
world less ceremonious than I. 

MOL. True ; and that is how you prove yourself to be 
an excellent actress, representing well a character which 
is opposed to your mood. Try then, all of you, to catch 
the spirit of your parts aright, and to imagine that you 
are what you represent. ( To Du Croisy). You play a poet, 
and you ought to be taken up with your part ; to mark 
the pedantic air which is maintained amidst the converse 
of the fashionable world ; that sententious voice and pre- 
cision of pronunciation, dwelling on every syllable, and 
not letting a letter drop from the strictest spelling. (To 
Brecourt). As for you, you play a courtier, as you have 
already done in The School for Wives criticised; that is, 
you must assume a sedate air, and a natural tone of voice, 
and gesticulate as little as possible. (To La Grange}. 
As for you, I have nothing to say to you. ( To Mademoiselle 
Bejarf). You represent one of those women who, pro- 
vided they are not making love, think everything else is 
permitted to them ; who are always proudly entrenched in 
their prudery, looking up and down on everyone, holding 
all the good qualities that others possess as nothing in 
comparison with a miserable honour which no one cares 

19 Madame Duparc played the part of Climene in The School for Wives 


about. Keep this character always before your eyes, that 
you may show all its tricks. (To Mademoiselle Dcbrie). 
As for you, you play one of those women who think they 
are the most virtuous persons in the world, so long as they 
save appearances ; who believe that the sin lies only in the 
scandal ; who would quietly carry on their intrigues in the 
style of an honourable attachment, and call those friends 
whom others call lovers. (To Mademoiselle Moliere). 
You play the same character as in The School for Wives 
criticised, and I have nothing more to say to you than to 
Mademoiselle Duparc. (To Mademoiselle Du Croisy). 
As for you, you represent one of those people who are 
sweetly charitable to every one, who always give a passing 
sting with their tongues, and who would be very sorry if they 
let their neighbours be well spoken of. I believe you will 
not acquit yourself badly in this part. (To Mademoiselle 
Hervt). For you, you are the maid of the flrea'euse, who 
is always putting her spoke into the conversation, and 
picks up all her mistress" expressions, as" well as she can. I 
tell you all your characters, that you may impress them 
strongly on your minds. Let us now begin to rehearse, 
and see how it will do. Oh, here comes a bore. This is 
all we wanted ! 





LA THOR. Good day, Moliere. 

MOL. Sir, your servant. (Aside). Plague take the 

LA THOR. How goes it ? 

MOL. Very well. What can I do for you ? (To the 
actresses}. Ladies, do not . . . 

LA THOR. I come from a place where I have been 
praising you up. 

MOL. I am obliged to you. (Aside). The devil take 
you! (To the actors). Pray take care . . . 

LA THOR. You play a new piece to-night ? 

MOL. Yes, sir. (To the actresses). Do not forget . . . 

LA THOR. The King got you to do it ? 


MOL. Yes, sir. {To the actors). Pray remember . . . 

LA THOR. What do you call it? 

MOL. Yes, sir. 

LA THOR. I ask what you call it ? 

MOL. Oh ! Upon my word I do not know. (To tJie 
actresses). You must, if you please . . . 

LA THOR. How are you going to be dressed ? 

MOL. As you see. (To the actors). I beg you . . . 

LA THOR. When do you begin ? 

MOL. When the King comes. (Aside). The deuce 
take him and his questions. 

LA THOR. When do- you think he will come? 

MOL. May the quinsy choke me if I know, sir ! 

LA THOR. Do you not know . . . 

MOL. Look here, sir; I am the most ignorant man in 
the world. I swear I know nothing of anything about 
what you may ask. (Aside). I am going mad. This 
wretch comes cross-examining me in his cool way, never 
dreaming that I may have other things to attend to. 

LA THOR. Ladies, your servant. 

MOL. Ah good ! now he is on the other side. 

LA THOR. (To Mademoiselle Du Croisy). You are as 
handsome as a little angel. Do you both play to-day ? 
(Looking at Mademoiselle Herve). 

MAD. Du C. Yes, sir. 

LA THOR. Without you, the comedy would not be worth 
much. 20 

MOL. ( Whispering to the actresses). Can you not send 
that man about his business ? 

MAD. DEB. Sir, we have a rehearsal on. 

LA THOR. Oh, Zounds, I shall not prevent you ; you 
have only to go on. 

MAD. DEB. But . . . 

LA THOR. Nay, nay, I should be sorry to trouble any 
one. Do what you have to do without scruple. 

MAD. DEB. Yes ; but . . . 

LA THOR. I assure you, I am a man of no ceremony ; 
and you can rehearse what you like. 

20 This compliment is addressed to Mesdemoiselles Du Croisy and 
Herv6, two of the weakest actresses in Moliere's troupe. 


MOL. Sir, these ladies hesitate to tell you that they 
would much prefer that no one should be present during 
this rehearsal. 

LA THOR. But why ? You have nothing to fear from 

MOL. Sir, it is their custom ; you will be the better 
pleased when the thing takes you by surprise. 

LA THOR. Then I shall go and tell them you are ready. 

MOL. By no means, sir ; do not be in a hurry, pray. 


MOL. Oh dear, this world is full of impertinent people ! 
But now come, let us begin. In the first place, then, ima- 
gine that the scene is in the King's antechamber; for it 
is a place where plenty of amusing things go on every day. 
It is easy to introduce there whomsoever we please ; and 
reasons can even be found to explain the appearance of 
the ladies whom I bring in. The comedy opens with the 
meeting of two Marquises. (To La Grange). Be sure and 
do not forget to come from that side, as I told you, with 
what they call a distinguished air, combing your wig, and 
humming a tune between your teeth. La, la, la, la, la, la, 
la! Just move aside, the rest of you; for a couple of 
Marquises require room, and they are not the sort of per- 
sons to be satisfied with a small space. ( To La Grange). 
Now then, speak. 

LA GR, "Good day, Marquis." 

MOL. Oh dear! That is not the way in which Mar- 
quises talk. It must be a little higher. Most of these 
gentlemen affect a special tone to distinguish themselves 
from the vulgar. "Good day, Marquis." Try again. 

LA GR. "Good day, Marquis." 

MOL. "Ah, Marquis, your most obedient." 

LA GR. "What are you doing there?" 

MOL. "'Sdeath, you may see. I am waiting until all 
these persons have cleared away from the door, that I may 
show my face there." 

LA GR. " Zounds ! what a crowd ! I do not care to go 
and push myself through, I had rather wait till the last." 


MOL. "There is a score there who have no chance of 
getting in, but they take good care to press forward, and 
occupy all the approaches to the door." 

LA GR. "Let us call out our names to the door-keeper, 
so that he may summon us." 

MOL. "That may do for you; but I do not wish Mo- 
liere to take me off." 

LA GR. "Yet I think, Marquis, that it is you he takes 
off in The School for Wives criticised. ' ' 

MOL. "Me? Most mighty potentate! it is your very 

LA GR. "Ah! upon my word, you are kind, to fit me 
with your own character." 

MOL. "Death, you are amusing, to give me what be- 
longs to yourself." 

LA GR. (Laughing). "Ah, ha! How entertaining!" 

MOL. (Laughing). "Ah, ha! How comical!" 

LA GR. "What! you mean to maintain that it is not 
you who are exhibited in the Marquis of The School for 
Wives criticised?' ' 

MOL. "Just so; it is I. 'Detestable; egad! detest- 
able! Cream tart!' Oh, it is I, it is I, assuredly it is 

LA GR. "Yes, it is you. You need not jest; and we 
shall lay a wager, if you like, and see which of us is 

MOL. "Well then, what will you bet?" 

LA GR. "I bet a hundred pistoles that it is you." 

MOL. "And I bet a hundred it is you." 

LA GR. "Money down!" 

MOL. "Money down! Ninety on Amyntas, and ten 

LA GR. "Content!" 

MOL. "Done, then. 

LA GR. "Your money runs a great risk." 

MOL. "Yours is in danger." 

LA GR. " Who shall be umpire? " 

MOL. " Here is a gentleman who shall decide. Che- 
valier !" 

BRE. "What is it?" 

MOL. Good. Here is the other who assumes the tone 


of a Marquis. Did I not tell you that you were playing a 
part in which you had to speak naturally ? 

BRE. So you did. 

MOL. Now then. " Chevalier . . . " 

BRE. "What is it?" 

MOL. " Just decide betwixt us on a wager we have 

BRE. "What wager?" 

MOL. "We cannot agree who is the Marquis in Moliere's 
School for Wives criticised. He bets that it is I, and I bet 
that it is he." 

BRE. " Well, I decide that it is neither the one nor the 
other. You are fools, both of you, to wish that these 
caps should fit ; this is just what I heard Moliere com- 
plaining of the other day, when he was talking to some 
people who charged him with the same thing. He said 
that nothing annoyed him so much as to be accused of 
animadverting upon anyone in the portraits he drew; that 
his design is to paint manners without striking at indi- 
viduals, and that all the characters whom he introduces are 
imaginary phantoms, so to speak, which he clothes ac- 
cording to his fancy in order to please his audience ; that 
he would be much vexed to have hit any one through them ; 
and that if aught could sicken him of writing comedies, it 
would be the resemblances that people always insisted on 
finding, and on which his enemies maliciously tried to fix 
attention, in order to do him an injury with certain persons 
of whom he had never thought. And, indeed, I think he 
is right ; for why, pray, should you apply all his actions 
and words, and seek to draw him into quarrels by pub- 
licly declaring that he is showing up so-and-so, when the 
facts are such as will fit a hundred people ? As the business 
of comedy is to represent in a general way all the faults of 
men, and especially of the men of our day, it is impossible 
for Moliere to create any character not to be met with in 
the world ; and if he must be accused of thinking of 
everyone in whom are to be found the faults which he 
delineates he must, of course, give up writing comedies. " 21 

21 This is an intentional and very forcible self-defence upon the part of 
the author, to which the nature of the comedy lends itself admirably. No 


MOL. " Upon my word, Chevalier, you wish to justify 
Moliere, and spare our friend here." 

LA GR. ' ' Not at all. It is you he spares ; and we shall 
find another umpire." 

MOL. " So be it. But tell me, Chevalier, do you not 
think that Moliere is exhausted by this time, and that he 
will find no more subjects for . . . ? " 

BRE. " No more subjects? Ah, dear Marquis, we shall 
always go on providing him with plenty ; and we are 
scarcely taking the course to grow wise, for all that he can 
do or say." 

MOL. Stay. You must be more emphatic with this pas- 
sage. Just listen to me for a moment. 22 " And that he 
will find no more subjects for . . . No more subjects ? 
Ah, dear Marquis, we shall always go on providing him 
with plenty, and we are scarcely taking the course to grow 
wise, for all that he can do or say. Do you imagine that 
he has exhausted in his comedies all the follies of men ; and 
without leaving the Court, are there not a score of char- 
acters which he has not yet touched upon ? For instance, 
has he not those who profess the greatest friendship pos- 
sible, and who, when they turn their backs, think it a 
piece of gallantry to tear each other to pieces ? Has he 
not those unmitigated sycophants, those vapid flatterers, 
who never give a pinch of salt with their praises, and 
whose flatteries have a sickly sweetness which nauseate 
those who hear them? Has he not the craven courtiers 
of favourites, the treacherous worshippers of fortune, who 
praise you in prosperity, and run you down in adversity? 
Has he not those who are always discontented with the 
Court, those useless hangers-on, those troublesome, officious 
creatures, those people who can count up no services ex- 
cept importunities, and who expect to be rewarded for 
having laid a ten years' siege to the King ? Has he not 

doubt Moli&re had much ado to keep himself out of an endless series of 
personal quarrels with those whom his satire affected ; and though one 
object of The School for Wives criticised was to lay stress on the general 
meaning of his delineations, its immediate effect was, doubtless, to aggra- 
vate the annoyance of his lay-figures. The Impromptu could not fail to 
allay these grievances, and to conciliate the author's contemporaries. 

12 This is very skilful ; Moliere now takes up his own argument in his 
proper person, thus challenging the closer attention of his audience. 


those who fawn on all the world alike, who hand their 
civilities from left to right, who run after all whom they 
see, with the same salutations, and the same professions 
of friendship? 'Sir, your most obedient. Sir, I am en- 
tirely at your service. Consider me wholly yours, dear 
sir. Reckon me, sir, as the warmest of your friends. Sir, 
I am enchanted to embrace you. Ah ! sir, I did not see 
you. Oblige me by making use of me ; be assured I am 
wholly yours. You are the one man in the world whom I 
most esteem. There is no one whom I honour like you. 
I entreat you to believe it. I beg of you not to doubt it. 
Your servant. Your humble slave.' Oh, Marquis, Mar- 
quis, Moliere will always have more subjects than he 
needs ; and all that he has aimed at as yet is but a trifle 
to the treasure which is within his reach." That is some- 
thing of the style in which it should be played. 

BRE. It is sufficient. 

MOL. Go on. 

BRE. " Here are Climene and Eliza." 

MOL. (To Mesdemoiselles Duparc and Moliere}. Here- 
upon you two are to come up. {To Mademoiselle Duparc). 
Be sure, you, to attitudinize well, and observe a good 
many formalities. That will constrain you a little ; but 
it cannot be helped. One must sometimes do violence to 

MAD. MOL. " Madam, I easily recognized you a long 
way off, and perceived from your bearing that it could be 
no other than you." 

MAD. DUP. "You see, I have come to wait for a man 
with whom I have a little matter of business." 

MAD. MOL. " That is just my case." 

MOL. Ladies, these boxes will serve you for arm-chairs. 

MAD. DUP. " Come, Madam, I beg you to be seated." 

MAD. MOL. "After you, Madam." 

MOL. Good. After these little dumb shows, let each 
take a seat, and speak sitting, whilst the Marquises must 
sometimes get up and sometimes sit down again, in ac- 
cordance with their natural restlessness. " 'Sdeath, Che- 
valier, you ought to physic your rolls." 

BRE. "How so?" 

MOL. "They look ill.' 


BRE. " I salute your punstership. " 

MAD. MOL. "Heavens, Madam, I do think your com- 
plexion dazzling white, and your lips of a marvellous 
flame-colour. ' ' 

MAD. DUP. " Ah ! what is that you say, Madam? Do 
not look at me ; I am frightfully ugly to-day." 

MAD. MOL. "Do, Madam, just raise your hood." 

MAD. DUP. " Fie ! I am frightful, I tell you, and shock 
even myself." 

MAD. MOL. " You are so lovely. " 

MAD. DUP. "No, no." 

MAD. MOL. " Show yourself. " 

MAD. DUP. "Oh, pray do not." 

MAD. MOL. "Please do." 

MAD. DUP. " Heavens, no ! " 

MAD. MOL. "Yes, do." 

MAD. DUP. "How troublesome you are! " 

MAD. MOL. "Just for an instant." 

MAD. DUP. "Ah!" 

MAD. MOL. "You positively shall show yourself. We 
cannot do without seeing you." 

MAD. DUP. " Good gracious, what an odd creature you 
are ! What you wish you wish so desperately." 

MAD. MOL. "Ah, Madam, I am sure you need not 
dread the broad daylight. How wicked people are to say 
that you use any paint ! I shall certainly be able to con- 
tradict them now." 

MAD. DUP. " Lackaday, I do not so much as know what 
you mean by using paint ! But where are those ladies 

MAD. DEB. " Permit us, ladies, to give you in passing 
the most agreeable news conceivable. Here is Mr. Lysi- 
das, who has just told us that some one has made a play 
against Moliere, which the grand company are going to 

MOL. " It is true, they wished to read it to me. A cer- 
tain Br . . . Brou . . ." 

Du CR. " Sir, it is advertised under the name of Bour- 
sault ; but, to let you into the secret, many people have 
contributed to this piece, and one is disposed to form 
pretty high expectations of it. Since all authors and 


actors look on Moliere as their greatest enemy, we all 
unite against him to do him an ill turn. Each of us has 
added a stroke to his portrait ; but we have taken good 
care not to put our names to it. It would have been too 
much honour for him to succumb, before the eyes of the 
world, to the efforts of a combined Parnassus ; and so, to 
make his discomfiture more ignominious, we thought of 
picking out on purpose an author without repute." 

MAD. DUP. ' For my part, I confess that I am greatly 
rejoiced at it." 

MOL. "And so am I. Gad, the mocker shall be 
mocked ; upon my word, he shall have a rap over the 
knuckles. ' ' 

MAD. DUP. " That will teach him to satirize everybody. 
What ! This impertinent fellow will have it that women 
have no wit. He condemns all our lofty modes of expres- 
sion, and makes out that we are always speaking in a 
humdrum way." 

MAD. DEB. "Speech matters nothing; but he blames 
all our intimacies, however harmless they may be ; and 
according to him-, it is criminal to possess merit." 

MAD. Du C. "It is unbearable. Women can do noth- 
ing henceforth. ' Why cannot he let our husbands be at 
peace, without opening their eyes and making them notice 
things of which they never thought ? ' ' 

MAD. BEJ. "All this is a trifle ; but he satirizes even 
virtuous women ; the wicked buffoon styles them 'respect- 
able she-devils.' " M 

MAD. MOL. "He is an impertinent wretch. He de- 
serves all he gets." 

Du CR. " This play, Madam, must needs be supported : 
and the comedians of the hotel ..." 

MAD. DUP. " Oh, let them have no fear. I will lay 
my life on the success of this piece." 

MAD. MOL. " You are right, Madam. Too many peo- 
ple are interested in thinking it good. You may judge 
whether all those who believe themselves to have been 
satirized by Moliere will not take the opportunity of 
avenging themselves on him by applauding this comedy." 

M See The School for Wives, Act iv., Scene 8. 


BRE. (Ironically). "No doubt; and for my part I 
can answer for a dozen Marquises, six precieuses, a score 
of coquettes, and thirty victimized husbands, who will not 
fail to applaud." 

MAD. MOL. " Exactly so. Why should he go and of- 
fend all these people, and especially the victimized hus- 
bands, who are the best people in the world?" ** 

MOL. "Gad, I have been told that they will have a 
rub both at him and at all his plays, in fine style, and that 
actors and authors, from great to small, are deucedly 
savage against him." 

MAD. MOL. " That just serves him right. Why does he 
write wicked pieces that all Paris goes to see, and in which 
he paints people so well, that everybody knows himself? 
Why does he not make plays like those of Mr. Lysidas ? 
He would have no one against him, and all the authors 
would speak well of him. It is true that such plays do 
not draw large audiences; but, on the other hand, they 
are always well written ; nobody writes against them, and 
all who see them are desperately anxious to think them 

Du CR. "It is true that I have the advantage of mak- 
ing no enemies, and that all my works are approved of by 
the learned." 25 

MAD. MOL. " You are justified in being satisfied with 
yourself. That is worth more than all the applause of the 
public, and than all the money that Moliere' s pieces may 
draw. What does it matter to you whether people come 
to see your plays, so long as they are praised by your pro- 
fessional friends?" 

LA GR. " But when will The Painter's Portrait be 

Du CR. "I do not know ; but I intend to appear in the 
front seat, and cry, This is something like a play ! ' ' 

MOL. Gad, and I too." 

LA GR. "And so do I, as I hope to be saved." 

24 One of the commentators of Moliere says that the proof that our 
author was not jealous is to be found in the words he puts into his wife's 
mouth. I imagine Mad. Moliere spoke ironically. 

25 On page 460 Moliere, in answer to Mad. Debrie's remarks, replies 
for Lysidas, here it is Du Croisy ; this seems a contradiction. 


MAD. DUP. " For my part, I shall show myself there, 
as I ought ; and I will answer for a round of applause 
which shall drown all adverse opinion. It is really the 
least we can do, to assist with our approbation the avenger 
of our cause. ' ' 

MAD. MOL. "Well said!" 

MAD. DEB. "That is what we must all do." 

MAD. BEJ. " Assuredly." 

MAD. Du C. " Undoubtedly." 

MAD. HER. " No quarter to this mimic." 

MOL. " Upon my word, Chevalier, your Moliere must 
hide his head." 

BRE. "Who? He? I promise you, Marquis, that he 
intends to take a seat upon the stage, and laugh with the 
rest at the portrait they have drawn of him." 28 

MOL. " Gad, then, he will laugh on the wrong side of 
his face." 

BRE. " Come, come ; perchance he will find more cause 
for laughter than you think. I was shown the play ; and 
as everything amusing in it was exactly taken from Mo- 
liere, the pleasure which this will afford, will not be likely 
to offend him ; for, as to the parts where they set them- 
selves to blacken him, I am very much mistaken if this is 
applauded by any one. And as for all the people whom 
they have tried to set against him, of whom, it is said, he 
had drawn too faithful likenesses, not only is it in bad 
taste, but I never saw anything more ridiculous, or worse 
done ; I never yet thought that it was a reproach to a 
dramatic author to depict men too well." 

LA GR. " The actors told me they expected a rejoinder 
from him, and that ..." 

BRE. "A rejoinder? Verily, I should think him a 
great fool if he took the trouble to reply to their invec- 
tives. Every one knows well enough from what motives 
they must be acting ; and the best answer which he can 
make them is a comedy which will succeed like all the 
others. This is the true plan of being avenged on them ; 

* De Villiers, in the Vengeance des Marquis, mentions that Moliere 
took one day a seat on the stage of the hfttel de Bourgogne to listen to 
Boursalt's Painter's Portrait. 


and judging from what I know of their disposition, I am 
sure that a new play, which will take their audiences from 
them, will annoy them much more than all the satires 
which could be written against them individually." 

MOL. " But, Chevalier . . . ?" 

MAD. BEJ. Let me interrupt the rehearsal for a mo- 
ment. {To Moliere). May I make a suggestion? If I 
had been you, I should have treated the thing in another 
way. Every one expects a vigorous rejoinder from you ; 
and, after the way in which they tell me you have been 
treated in this comedy, you were justified in saying anything 
against the actors; and you ought not to spare one of them. 

MOL. I am annoyed to hear you speak thus. This is 
just the way with you ladies. You would have me fire up 
against them, and follow their example by rushing into 
invectives and insults. A great deal of honour I should 
get from it, and a vast deal of vexation I should bring 
them! Are they not quite prepared for that kind of 
thing? And, when they were discussing whether they 
should play The Painter 1 s Portrait, for fear of a rejoinder, 
did not some of them say: " Let him abuse us as much 
as he likes, so long as we get money ?' ' Is not that the 
mark of a soul very sensitive to shame \ and should I not 
be well avenged by giving them what they greatly long to 
receive ? 

MAD. DEB. They complained strongly of three or four 
words you said of them in The School for Wives criticised, 
and The Pretentious Young Ladies. 

MOL. It is true that these three or four words are very 
offensive ; and they have great reason to quote them. 
Come, come, it is not that. The greatest harm I have 
done them is that I have been fortunate enough to please 
a little more than they would have liked ; their whole con- 
duct since we came to Paris has too clearly shown what 
pricks them. But let them do what they will, all their 
efforts cannot disturb me. They criticise my plays, so 
much the better ; and Heaven forbid that I should ever 
do aught that pleased them ! It would be a bad business 
for me. 

MAD. DEB. Still there is not much pleasure in seeing 
one's works puHed to pieces 


MOL. What does it matter to me ? Have I not got 
from my comedy all that I wished, since it had the good 
fortune to please those lofty personages whom I specially 
aim at pleasing ? Have I not cause to be content with 
my lot, and are not all their censures a little too late ? 
Does that affect me now, pray ? When they attack a 
piece which has been successful, do they not attack the 
judgment of those who praised it,, rather than the skill of 
him who wrote it ? 

MAD. DEB. Upon my word, I should have had a hit at 
that little scribe, who is rash enough to write against 
people who do not trouble their heads about him. 

MOL. How silly you are. A fine subject for diversion 
monsieur Boursault would be ! I should like to know 
how he could be tricked out to make him amusing ; 
and whether, if he were ridiculed on the stage, he would 
be fortunate enough to make any one laugh. It would be 
too much honour for him, to be represented, before an 
august assembly. He would ask nothing better ; and he 
attacks me wantonly in order to make himself known in 
any way. He is a man who has nothing to lose, and the 
actors have let him loose on me only in order to engage 
me in a foolish quarrel, and turn me aside, by this dodge, 
from other works which I have on hand ; and yet you are 
simple enough to fall into the trap. But I shall make a 
public declaration on this point. I do not mean to make 
any reply to all their criticisms and counter-criticisms. 
Let them say all the evil they can of my pieces ; I am 
quite willing. Let them take our leavings, and turn them 
inside out like a coat, to bring them on their own stage, 
and try to profit by any pleasant thing they find in them, 
and by a little of my good fortune ; I give them leave ; 
they have need of it, and I shall be happy to contribute 
to their necessities, provided they will be satisfied with 
what I can decently grant them. Courtesy must have its 
limits ; and there are some things which can make neither 
spectators laugh, nor him of whom they are spoken. I 
gladly leave to them my works, my figure, my attitudes, 
my words, the tone of my voice, and my style of recita- 
tion, to make and say whatever they will of them, if they 
can snatch some profit from them. I have nothing to say 


against all this, and shall be delighted if this can please 
people ; but whilst I give them all this, they must do me 
the favour to leave me the remainder, and not to touch on 
things of the nature of those upon which, I hear, they at- 
tack me in their comedies. 27 This I shall politely request 
of the honourable gentleman who undertakes to write for 
them ; and this is all the answer they shall have from me. 

MAD. BEJ. But, in a word ... 

MOL. But, in a word, you will drive me mad. Let us 
say no more of this. We amuse ourselves by talking 
when we ought to be rehearsing our comedy. Where 
were we ? I do not remember. 

MAD. DEB. You were at the very place . . . 

MOL. Good Heavens, what noise do I hear? Surely the 
King is come ! I can plainly see we shall have no time to 
get through it. That is what comes of our gossipping. 
Oh, well, you must do the best you can with the rest. 

MAD. BEJ. On my word, I am in such a fright, I shall 
never be able to play my part unless I rehearse it all. 

MOL. What ! You will not be able to play your part. 

MAD. BEJ. No. 

MAD. DUP. Nor I mine. 

MAD. DEB. No more shall I. 

MAD. MOL. Nor I. 

MAD. HER. Nor I. 

MAD. Du C. Nor I. 

MOL. What on earth do you mean to do ? Are you all 
mocking me. 





BEJ. Gentlemen, I come to inform you that the King 
has arrived, and waits for you to begin. 

MOL. Ah, sir, you see me in a terrible strait. I am dis- 
tracted as I speak to you. These ladies are frightened, 
and say they must rehearse their parts before commencing. 

n Most likely Boursault's le Portrait du Pointre, Montfleury's Im- 
promptu de I 'hotel de Conde, and De Villier's la Vengeance des Marquis, 
contained some personal attacks, either against Moliere, his wife, or his 
friends, which were suppressed when those plays were printed. 


We beg the favour of another moment. The King is 
kind, and he knows well that the piece has been done 

MOL. Oh, pray try and recover yourselves. Take 

courage, I entreat you. 

MAD. DUP. You must go and excuse yourself. 
MOL. How can I excuse myself? 


1 BUSY. Gentlemen, begin. 

MOL. At once, sir. I believe I shall go out of my 
mind over this precious business . . . 


2 BUSY. Gentlemen, begin ! 

MOL. In a moment, sir. {To his fellow-actors). What, 
would you have me affronted . . . 


3 BUSY. Gentlemen, begin ! 

MOL. Yes, sir, that is what we are about to do. How 
officious these gentry are, coming and bidding us begin, 
when the King did not order them ! 



4 BUSY. Gentlemen, begin ! 

MOL. It is done sir. (70 his fellow-actors]. What! 
must I be covered with confusion . . . 


MOL. Sir, you come to bid us begin, but . . . 
BEJ. No, gentlemen, I come to say that the King has 
heard of the trouble you are in, and that, in the kindness 
which distinguishes him, he defers your new comedy to 
another time, and will be satisfied to-day with the first you 
can give him. 

MOL. Oh, sir, you give me new life. The King be- 
stows on Us the greatest possible favour in giving us time 
for that which he desired ; we shall all go and thank him 
for the extreme goodness which he displays towards us. 28 

18 A flattery to the Grand Monarque, heightened by what had pre- 
viously been said by Moliere of the impatience of Kings to taste the 
pleasures on which they have set their minds. (Scene I, adinit.). 





JAN. 29TH, 1664. 


The Forced Marriage is described as a Comedie-ballet, and was due to 
the request made to Moliere by Louis XIV., for an entertainment in the 
manner of The Bores, in which a genuine comedy should be combined 
with a ballet, and wherein the Court itself might figure upon the stage. 
Even Louis did not disdain to show himself amongst his courtiers on spe- 
cial occasions of this kind, submitting himself to the direction of the danc- 
ing-masters, who held no contemptible position at the Court of the Grand 
Monarque. Moliere had recently received from the royal grace a pension 
of a thousand livres, and he thus had more than one inducement to do his 
best for the young King's pleasure. It was on the zgth of January, 1664, 
in the drawing-room of the Queen-mother, at the Louvre, that The 
Forced Marriage was first produced. Louis, then in his twenty-sixth 
year, figured as one of the gipsies in the ballet. The play had three acts, 
with entries, and, as the King danced in it, was called the Ballet du Roi. 

The Comedy-ballet was subsequently brought out at the Palais-Royal, 
at great expense, and had a run of thirteen days. But Moliere had 
separated the comedy from the ballet, and reduced the former from three 
acts to one. For the singing magician and the demons who frightened 
Sganarelle into trying to get out of his marriage engagement, the poet 
substituted the twelfth scene, introducing Alcidas, who is called Lycante 
in the ballet. 

The comedy supplies us with yet another of those senile gallants whom 
the poet delights to paint ; though in one of his preceding comedies, The 
School for Husbands, the deceived gallant, Sganarelle, is twenty years 
younger than the wise Ariste, who is not betrayed. The comic element 
in The Forced Marriage springs, not only from the incongruity of the 
amorous old suitor and the coquettish young girl, but also from the fact 
that the butt of the piece discovers his mistake before marriage, into which 
he is nevertheless forced with the full knowledge of the fate that is await- 
ing him. The idea, at all events up to the eve of the catastrophe, had 
been worked out by Rabelais, whom Moliere follows with considerable 
closeness. In the ninth chapter of the third book of the older writer's 
work, " Panurge asketh counsel of Pantagruel whether he should marry, 
yea or nay ?" and whether, if married, he will be able to escape " la dis- 
grace dont on ne plant personne." Pantagruel (the Geronimo of the play) 
gives his advice in the same complaisant manner as Sganarelle's crony, 
" Then do not marry ;" " Then marry, in the name of God." 

What Coleridge says of this chapter of Rabelais may well be applied 

2I 7 


to the first scene of Moliere's play : " Pantagruel (Geronimo) stands for 
the reason, as contradistinguished from the understanding and choice, 
that is, from Panurge (Sganarelle) ; and the humour consists in the latter 
asking advice of the former, on a subject in which the reason can only 
give the inevitable conclusion, the syllogistic ergo, from the premises pro- 
vided by the understanding itself, which puts each case so as of necessity 
to predetermine the verdict thereon. This chapter, independently of the 
'allegory, is an exquisite satire on the spirit in which people commonly ask 

But Rabelais himself was not the first to adopt this illustration of waver- 
ing advice ; for we find similar scenes in Poggio, and in the Itinerarium 
Paradisi of Raulin, a preacher of the beginning of the fifteenth century, 
in his sermon De Viduitate. 

The two philosophers are not quite original creations, Marphurius being 
no other than the Ephectic and Pyrrhonian sage Trouillogan, whom Ra- 
belais delineates in the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth chapters of the third 
book of Pantagruel. It has been often said that the scenes between Sga- 
narelle and the two philosophers are too farcical, and only Induce laughter. 
But Moliere never acted more courageously than in writing those scenes ; 
for he openly attacked the Aristotelian philosophy, so strongly defended 
by the University of Paris, which intended to get confirmed a sentence of 
the parliament of Paris, of the 4th of September 1624, by which all those 
who attacked the Aristotelian doctrines were condemned to death. Be- 
sides this, the above-mentioned scenes are connected with several philoso- 
phical observations, to be found in The Pretentious Young Ladies, and in 
The Blue Stockings (see Vol. III). Trissotin and Vadius, in the latter 
play, belong to the same race as the illustrious Pancrace and Marphurius. 

According to some commentators of Moliere, an adventure of the 
Count de Grammont, when on the point of leaving England, has given to 
our author the chief idea of his piece. This Count, being banished from 
the court of Louis XIV., went to that of Charles II., and there became 
engaged to Miss Hamilton, a grand-daughter of the Duke of Ormond. 
Being suddenly recalled to France, he forgot his engagement and left at 
once. But the two brothers of the young lady immediately started after 
him, came up with him at Dover, and asked him '' if he had not forgotten 
anything in London?" His answer was, " Pardon me, gentlemen, I have 
forgotten to marry your sister." He returned with them married Miss 
Hamilton, and went back with her to France. 

Tradition states that the original of the over-polite Alcidas was a cer- 
tain Marquis de la Trousse, killed at the siege of Tortosa in 1648, and who 
was so polite that he always used compliments when fighting a duel, and 
expressed his great sorrow whilst killing his opponent. 

In the seventh volume of " Select Comedies of M. de Moliere," pub- 
lished in London, 1732, this play is dedicated to ^the Right Honourable 
the Lady Harvey, in the following words : 


You will not, I hope, be frighted at the sight of a Dedication with Your Name 
before it, when I promise Your LADYSHIP, that I am not going to give You the Pain 
of reading Your own Character : tho' at the same time, I must assure You, that it 
is with great reluctance I relinquish so fair an Opportunity of describing every- 
thing that is lovely, desirable, and praiseworthy, and forbear setting before the 
Beauties of the present Age a charming Pattern, which the greatest and best of 
them might be proud to copy. But for fear I should be unable to resist the Temp- 
tation, if I think any longer of Lady HARVEY, I'll conclude this Address, with de- 
siring Your LADYSHIP'S Acceptance of one of MOLIERB'S Comedies, which has 


both Wit and Humour in the Original. . . I hope, too, they are not quite lost in 
the Translation. 

Only give me leave to add, that I am, MADAM, your Ladyship's most obedient 
and most humble servant, THE TRANSLATOR. 

Ravenscroft has imitated part of this play in his Scaramouch a Philoso- 
pher, Harlequin a School- Boy, Bravo, Merchant and Magician, acted at 
the Theatre Royal, 1677. This Comedy is a medley of three of Moliere's 
plays, The Forced Marriage, The Citizen who apes the Nobleman, and 
The Tricks of Scapin. This, with a Harlequin, borrowed from an Italian 
farce, who jumps about as in a pantomime, but speaks, forms the whole 
play. It appears not to have had much success. The actors were dilatory 
in getting it up, and the theatre in Dorset Garden forestalled them by 
bringing out a translation of Moliere's Tricks of Scapin. This is what 
the Prologue says : 

Very unfortunate this play has bin, 

A slippery trick was played us by Scapin, 

Whilst here our actors made a long delay, 

When some were idle, others run away, 

The City House comes out with half our Play. 

The English dramatist ends : 

Let both French and Italians share the fame, 
But iftbe bad, let them too bear the blame. 

Mrs. Centlivre, who was then Mrs. Carroll, has, in her Love's Contriv- 
ance, or Le Medecin malgre lui, acted at Drury Lane, June 4, 1703, bor- 
rowed nearly everything from Moliere's Forced Marriage, and from The 
Physician in spite of Himself, (see Vol. ii.), with a reminiscence of Sga- 
narelle. She impudently states in the Preface " Some scenes, I confess, 
are partly taken from Moliere, and I dare be bold to say it has not suffered 
in the translation. . . . The French have that light airiness in their 
Temper, that the least Glimpse of Wit sets them a-laughing, when t'would 
not make us so much as smile ; so that where I found the stile too poor, 
I endeavoured to give it a Turn.'' In the Prologue she says, however 

So feverish is the Humour of the Town 

It surfeits of a Play ere three Days run. 

At Locket's, Brown's, and at Pontack's ' enquire, 

What modish Kick-shaws the nice Beaus desire. 

What famed Ragouts, what new-invented Sallaa 

Has best pretensions to regale the Palate. 

II we present you with a Medley here, 

A hodge-podge Dish, served up in China Ware, 

We hope 'twill please, 'cause like your Bills oi Fare. 

Sganarelle is called, in the English comedy, Sir Toby Doubtful, and 
Geronimo, Octavio. The only new, and perhaps original, thing in Love's 
Contrivance is Bellmie's former servant, Martin, hiding a letter in an 
orange, and pretending to sell fruit, and the trick being discovered by 
Self-will, father to Lucinda, the heroine of the play. 

Another imitation, An Hour before Marriage, was written by an Irish 
gentleman, and brought out at Covent Garden, January 25, 1772, with a 
prologue by Colraan. The piece was very unfavourably received, and 

1 Three noted restaurants of that time. The last one is mentioned in Sir Walter 
Scott's " Fortunes of Nigel." 


not allowed to be finished. Why, it is difficult to say, for it is a very good 
comedy in two acts. The character of Sir Andrew Melville is drawn 
cleverly, and the nice way in which, on meeting El wood, he claims first 
the long-established friendship, the early and close intimacy " that has 
subsisted between us from our very childhood," but denies this friendship 
when he finds out that Elwood is poor, is well and originally delineated. 
.Very forcibly also is Miss Melville's (Dorimene) brother boasting of his 
ancient descent, which is not in the French play. The eighth scene of 
Moliere's play is likewise well imitated by Mr. Tardy, the lawyer, and 
Stanley ; whilst the isth and i6th scenes are thrown into one in the Eng- 
lish version, the characters of Alcantor and Alcidas having been combined 
in the personage of Sir Andrew Melville. 

The Irish Widow is another imitation of Moliere's Forced Marriage, 
written by David Garrick. The character of Widow Brady is skilfully 
drawn ; it is she who, dressed in the uniform of a lieutenant, frightens 
poor Whittle; whilst in the French play, it is Alcidas, Dorimene's brother, 
and not Dorimene herself, who compels Sganarelle either to fight or to 

Some scenes of Moliere's play are also borrowed in Love without In- 
terest, or The Man too hard for the Master. The author of this piece is 
unknown ; but the dedication is subscribed, Penkethman, and is directed 
to six lords, six knights, and twenty- four esquires : yet, notwithstanding 
this splendid patronage, it met with very little success on its appearance 
at the Theatre Royal. 2 

Shadwell, in The Sullen Lovers (see Introductory Notice to The Bores), 
has also partly imitated the fourth and sixth scenes of The Forced 

* Baker, Reed, and Jones, " Biographica Dramatica," 1812, ii., p. 391. 




ALCANTOR, father to Dorimene. 

ALCIDAS, brother to Dorimene, 

LYCASTE, in love with Dorimene. 

PANCRACE, an Aristotelian Philosopher. 

MARPHURIUS, a Pyrrhonian Philosopher. 

DORIMENE, a young coquette betrothed to Sganarelle. 

The Scene is in a Public Place. 

8 Moliere played the part of Sganarelle. According to the inventory 
taken after his death, and given by M. Eud. Souli<, in his Recherches sur 
Moliere, we find " a dress for The Forced Marriage, composed of breeches 
and cloak of olive-colour, lined with green, adorned with violet and plate 
buttons, and a satin skirt with deep yeSow-coloured flowers, with the same 
kind of buttons, and a belt.'' 




SCAN. (Speaking behind the scenes as he enters). I shall 
be back in a moment. Take good care of the house, and 
let everything go on quite regularly. If any one brings 
me money, come for me quickly at Mr. Geronimo's; and 
if any one comes to ask for any, tell him I am out, and 
shall not be back to-day. 


GER. {Having heard the last words of Sganarelle). That 
is a very prudent order. 

SCAN. Ah ! Geronimo, well met. I was going to your 
house to look for you. 

GER. And why, pray ? 

SCAN. To tell you of something I have in my mind, and 
ask your advice about it. 

GER. Very willingly. I am glad we have met ; we can 
speak here at our ease. 

SCAN. Pray, be covered then. The business is about 
something of importance which has been proposed to me. 
It is well to do nothing without the advice of one's 

GER. I am obliged to you for having chosen me. You 
have only to tell me what it is. 

SCAN. But, first of all, I must implore you not to flatter 
me, but to tell me your opinion candidly. 



GER. Since you wish it, I will. 

SCAN. I know nothing worse than a friend who does not 
speak frankly. 

GER. You are right. 

SCAN. Now-a-days, we meet few sincere friends. 

GER. That is true. 

SCAN. Promise me, then, Geronimo, to speak with all 

GER. I promise. 

SCAN. Swear on your word. 

GER. Ay, on the word of a friend. Now, do tell me 
your business. 

SCAN. I wish to have your opinion whether I shall do 
well to marry. 

GER. Who? You? 

SCAN. Yes, I myself. What is your advice on the sub- 

GER. First of all, I beg you to tell me one thing. 

SCAN. What is that ? 

GER. How old do you think you may be now ? 


GER. Yes. 

SCAN. Why, really I do not know ; but I am in very 
good health. 

GER. What ! Do you not know your age, within a 
year or two? 

SCAN. No. Who thinks about his age ? 

GER. Hem ! Just tell me, please, how old you were 
when we first became acquainted ? 

SCAN. Oh, I was only twenty then. 

GER. How long were we together at Rome ? 

SCAN. Eight years. 

GER. How long did you stay in England ? 

SCAN. Seven years. 

GER. And in Holland, where you went next? 

SCAN. Five years and a-half. 

GER. How long is it since you returned ? 

SCAN. I came back in "fifty-two." 

GER. From "fifty-two" to "sixty-four" 4 makes twelve 

4 It must not be forgotten that The Forced Marriage was played in 
1664 ; hence Geronimo counts to " sixty-four." 


years, I think. Five years in Holland makes seventeen ; 
seven years in England make twenty-four ; eight years for 
our stay in Rome make thirty-two; and twenty your age 
when we became acquainted make just fifty-two years. 
So, Sganarelle, according to your own confession, you are 
in about your fifty-second or fifty-third year. 

SCAN. Who? I? It cannot be. 

GER. By Jove, the reckoning is exact ; and so I must 
tell you candidly, and as a friend, as you made me pro- 
mise, that marriage is hardly in your line. It is a thing 
about which young people ought to think seriously before 
they engage in it ; but persons at your time of life ought 
not to think of it at all. If, as some say, marriage is the 
greatest of all follies, I know of nothing more ridiculous 
than to commit this folly at a season when we ought to be 
most prudent. To be brief, I shall tell you my idea in a 
few words. I advise you not to dream of marrying ; I 
should think you the silliest man in the world if, after 
remaining free up to this time, you were to go and burden 
yourself now with the heaviest of all chains. 

SCAN. And I tell you in return, that I am resolved to 
marry ; and that I shall not be silly in marrying the girl 
I am after. 

GER. Oh ! that is another thing. You never told me 

SCAN. I like the girl ; I love her with all my heart. 

GER. You love her with all your heart ? 

SCAN. Undoubtedly ; and I have asked her of her 

GER. You have asked her ? 

SCAN. Yes. The marriage is to take place this evening; 
and I have plighted my troth. 

GER. Oh ! marry then. I have not another word 
to say. 

SCAN. Am I to abandon my design ? Do you imagine, 
Geronimo, that I am no longer fit to think of a wife ? 
Do not talk of what my age may be ; but let us look at 
things as they are. Is there a man of thirty that looks 
fresher or more active than I ? Have I not the use of my 
limbs as much as ever ? Do I look as if I needed a carriage 
or chair to get about in ? Are not all my teeth in ex- 


cellent condition ? (Showing his teeth). Do I not eat 
heartily four times a-day, and is any man's stomach 
stronger than mine? (Coughing). Hem, hem, hem! 
What say you ? 

GER. You are right ; I was mistaken. Pray, marry ; 
you cannot do better. 

SCAN. I used to fight shy of it ; but now I have strong 
reasons in its favour. Besides the pleasure I shall have in 
possessing a wife to fondle me, and to coddle me when I 
am tired ; besides this pleasure, I consider that, by re- 
maining as I am, I suffer the race of the Sganarelles to 
become extinct ; whilst, by marrying, I may see myself 
reproduced, and shall have the joy of seeing children 
sprung from me, little images as like me as two peas, who 
will be always playing about the house, calling me their 
papa when I come back from town, and talking nonsense 
to me in the pleasantest manner possible. Oh, I can fancy 
I am already in the midst of them ; and that I see half-a- 
dozen round about me. 5 

GER. Nothing could be nicer than that ; and I advise 
you to marry as quickly as possible. 

SCAN. Seriously? You advise it? 

GER. Assuredly. You could not do better. 

SCAN. I am indeed delighted that you give me this ad- 
vice as a true friend. 

GER. And pray, who is the lady whom you are going to 
marry ? 

SCAN. Dorimene. 

GER. Young Dorimene, that gay, well-dressed girl? 

SCAN. Yes. 

GER. Alcantor's daughter? 

SCAN. The very same. 

GER. And the sister of Alcidas, who presumes to carry 
a sword? 

SCAN. That is the girl. 

GER. My goodness ! 

6 Moliere has evidently been influenced in writing this scene by the 
ninth chapter of the third book of Rabelais' Pantagruel, and by a passage 
from a Sermon on Widowhood by Jean Raulin, in the Itinerarium Para- 
disi, Paris, 1524, which has been elegantly rendered, under the name of 
.Fredegonde, in Bon Gautier's Ballads. 


SCAN. What have you to say to it? 

GER. A good match. Make haste and get married. 

SCAN. Have I not made an excellent choice? 

GER. No doubt of it. Ah, you will be well matched ! 
Lose no time about it. 

SCAN. I am overjoyed to hear you say so. I thank you 
for your advice, and I invite you to come to-night to my 

GER. I shall be sure to be there; I shall come masked, 
the better to honour the occasion. 6 

SCAN. Good day. 

GER. (Aside). Young Dorimene, Alcantor's daughter, 
to Sganarelle, who is only fifty-three. 7 Oh! what a fine 
match ! what a fine match ! {He repeats this over and 
over again, as he goes away), 


This marriage ought to be a happy one ; for it pleases 
every one. All laugh to whom I mention it. I declare I 
am the happiest of men ! 


DOR. {Speaking to a page, who holds up her train). 
Mind, youngster, hold up my train properly, and do not 
be playing your tricks. 

SCAN. {Aside, seeing Dorimene). Here comes my mis- 
tress. Ah, how pleasing she is! What an air, what a 
figure! Who could see her without wishing to marry her? 
(Going up to her}. Where are you going, pretty darling, 
my dear wife that is to be? 

DOR. I am going to make a few purchases. 

SCAN. Well, my dear, both of us are going to be happy 
now. You will no longer have a right to refuse me any- 

8 The Forced Marriage was originally a Comedy-ballet, and most like- 
ly Geronimo said " he should come masked " to announce a masquerade 
of young people in honour of the wedding of Sganarelle, but possibly 
Moliere left it afterwards with an ironical meaning, as if Geronimo wanted 
to hide his laughter at Sganarelle's ridiculous marriage. 

7 On page 478 Geronimo says, " Sganarelle, you are in about your fifty- 
second or fifty-third year," giving to the latter " the benefit of a doubt ," 
but at the end of this scene he states frankly, when Sganarelle has left, 
that the latter is fifty-three years old. 


[SCENE iv. 

thing; and I can do with you just as I please, without any 
one being shocked. You will be mine from head to foot, 
and I shall be master of everything, of your little spark- 
ling eyes, your little roguish nose, your tempting lips, your 
lovely ears, your pretty little chin, your little round 
breasts, your ... In short, your whole person will be 
mine, to do what I like with, and I shall be entitled to 
fondle you as I choose. Are you not glad of this mar- 
riage, my lovely pet? 

DOR. Immensely glad, I assure you. For, indeed, my 
father's severity has kept me hitherto in the most grievous 
subjection. I have been raging, I do not know how long, 
at the scanty liberty he allows me ; I have wished a hundred 
times that he would get me a husband, so that I might 
quickly escape from the durance in which I have been kept 
by him, and be able to do as I pleased. Thank Heaven, 
you luckily came in the way ; I mean henceforth to give 
myself up to pleasure, and make up finely for the time I 
have lost. As you are a well-bred man, and know the 
world, I think we shall get on wonderfully well together, 
and that you will not be one of those bothering husbands 
who wish their wives to live like owls. 8 I confess that 
would not suit me ! Solitude drives me mad. I like 
gambling, visiting, assemblies, entertainments, prome- 
nades; in fact, all kinds of pleasure. You must be 
overjoyed to have a wife like me. We shall never have a 
difference ; I shall not constrain your actions, and I hope 
that you will not constrain mine. For my part, I think 
we ought to be mutually complaisant, and not be married 
only to annoy each other. In a word, we shall live, when 
we get married, like two people who know the world. No 
jealous suspicions shall trouble our heads; it will suffice 
for you to be assured of my fidelity, as I shall be persuaded 
of yours. But what is the matter ? A change has come 
over you. 

SCAN. I am taken with a sudden pain in my head. 

DOR. That is a malady which attacks many people in 

8 The original has loup-garou, were-wolf, a warlock, who, in the form 
of a wolf, roamed about devouring men, and whose hide was said to be 
bullet-proof. It is curious that the French and Germans have a wolf to 
frighten timorous people, and the English a bugbear. 


these days ; but our marriage will remove all that. Good- 
bye. I long to have a proper dress, that I may quickly 
throw these rags aside. I am going now to finish the 
purchase of all the things which I want ; and I shall send 
in the bills to you. 


GER. Ah ! Sganarelle, I am glad to find you here. I 
have met with a goldsmith who, having heard that you 
were in search of a handsome diamond ring to make a 
present to your bride, entreated me to recommend him to 
you, and to tell you that he has one to sell, the finest in 
the world. 

SCAN. God bless me ! there is no hurry for that. 

GER. How ? What does that mean ? Where is the 
ardour you displayed just now? 

SCAN. Within the last few moments, I have had some 
slight scruples as to marriage. Before going farther I wish 
to sift this matter to the bottom, and to have interpreted 
to me a dream which I had last night, and which just re- 
curred to me. 9 You know that dreams are like mirrors, 
which sometimes show all that is to happen to us. I dreamt 
I was in a ship, on a rough sea, and that . . . 

GER. Sganarelle, I have a little business on hand, which 
will not let me stay to hear you. I do not understand 
dreams ; and, as to arguments upon marriage, you have for 
neighbours a couple of scholars, of philosophers, who are 
just the men to tell you all that can be said on the subject. 
As they belong to different sects, you can compare their 
several opinions upon it. For my part, I adhere to what 
I said just now, and am your servant. 

SCAN. (Alone). He is right. I must consult these men 
in my present uncertainty. 

PAN. {Speaking to somebody within, and not seeing Sga- 
narelle). Go, you are an impertinent fellow, my friend, a 
man ignorant of all method and order, who ought to be 
expelled the Republic of letters. 

9 This is also an intimation of Rabelais' Panurgc, Book III., Chapters 
13 and 14. 


SCAN. Ah ! capital, here is one of them in the nick of 

PAN. (As before, and not seeing Sganarelle). Yes, I shall 
maintain it on strong grounds, I will prove it you out of 
Aristotle, the philosopher of philosophers, that you are 
ignorans, ignorantissimus, ignorantificans, and ignorantifica- 
fus, in all imaginable cases and moods. 

SCAN. He has fallen out with somebody. (To Pan- 
crace). Sir ! 

PAN. (As before, and not seeing Sganarelle). You pre- 
sume to argue, and do not know the very elements of 

SCAN. His passion prevents his seeing me. (To Pan- 
crace). Sir ! 

PAN. (As before, and not seeing Sganarelle). It is a pro- 
position condemned in all the regions of philosophy. 

SCAN. (Aside). He must have been mightily vexed. 
( To Pancrace}. I say . . . 

PAN. {As before, and not seeing Sganarelle). Toto coclo, 
toto via aberras. 

SCAN. I kiss your hands, Master Doctor ! 

PAN. At your service. 

SCAN. May I ... 

PAN. {Turning round again). Do you know what you 
have perpetrated? A syllogism in Balordo'* 1 

SCAN. I ... 

PAN. (As before). The major is foolish, the minor tri- 
vial, and the conclusion ridiculous. 

SCAN. I ... 

PAN. (As before). I would rather die than admit what 
you say ; and I shall maintain my opinion to the last 
drop of my ink. 

SCAN. May I ... 

PAN. (As before). Yes, I shall defend this proposition 
pugnis et calcibus, unguibus et rostro. 

10 The literal translation is: "You err the whole extent of Heaven, 
the whole length of the road; " something like the familiar "You are as 
wrong as you can be." 

11 Pancrace makes here a scholastic joke. In Moliere's time logic 
used a great many syllogisms, which were called by barbarous names, 
such as, Barbara, Celerant, Darii, Ferio, &c. t but the doctor invents a 
syllogism in Balordo, because balourd is the French for a " noodle." 

12 With fists and feet, with nails and beak. 


SCAN. Mr. Aristotle, may I ask what has put you in 
such a rage ? 

PAN. The best possible reason. 

SCAN. But what? 

PAN. An ignoramus dared to maintain an erroneous 
proposition, a frightful, terrible, execrable, proposition. 

SCAN. May I ask what it is? 

PAN. Ah, Mr. Sganarelle, everything nowadays is sub- 
verted, and the world has fallen into general corruption,, 
A horrible license reigns everywhere ; and the magistrates, 
who are appointed to maintain order in the state, ought 
to die of shame, to suffer a scandal so intolerable as this 
which I shall reveal to you. 13 

SCAN. What is it then ? 

PAN. Is it not a horrible thing, a thing crying for the 
vengeance of Heaven, to allow any one to say in public 
"the form of a hat?" 

SCAN. How? 

PAN. I maintain that we ought to say " the figure of a 
hat," and not " the form ; " for as much as there is this 
difference between the form and the figure, that the form 
is the external disposition of animate bodies, and the 
figure is the external disposition of inanimate bodies ; and 
since the hat is an inanimate body, we ought to say, " the 
figure of a hat," and not "the form." {Turning again 
to the side by which he entered}. Yes, ignoramus that you 
are, that is the manner in which you ought to express your- 
self, and these are Aristotle's own terms in his chapter on 

SCAN. (Aside). I thought we were all undone. (To 
Pancrace). Master Doctor, think no more of this. I . . 

PAN. I am in such a rage, that I do not know what I 
am doing. 

SCAN. Leave the form and hat in peace. I have some- 
thing to tell you. I ... 

PAN. Impertinent fellow ! u 

1S This is a hit at the University of Paris, who prosecuted those who 
differed in opinion from it, and invoked the arms of the magistrates to 
punish those who were opposed to it. See Introductory Notice page 472. 

14 The original has impertinent fieffe, a relic of the feudal times, when 
a noble who possessed a fief was called un noble ficffe, or one who pos- 


SCAN. Pray, be quiet. I ... 

PAN. Ignoramus ! 

SCAN. Good Heavens ! I . . . 

PAN. To dare to maintain such a proposition ! 

SCAN. He is wrong. I ... 

PAN. A proposition condemned by Aristotle. 

SCAN. It is true. I ... 

PAN. In so many words ! 

SCAN. You are right. {Going round to the side by 
which Pancrace entered). Yes, you are a fool, an impudent 
fellow, to pretend to argue with a Doctor who can read 
and write. Now, that is done with. I beg you to listen 
to me. I am come to consult you on an affair which per- 
plexes me. I intend to take a wife, to keep me company 
at home. The lady is handsome and well-made ; she 
charms me greatly, and is delighted to marry me ; her 
father has given her to me ; but I am rather afraid of, you 
know what the disgrace for which no one pities a man ; 
I wish much to beg of you, as a philosopher, to give me 
your opinion. Eh ? What is your advice in the matter ? 

PAN. Rather than admit that we ought to say "the form 
of a hat," I would admit that datur vacuum in rerum 
natura^ and that I am a mere ass. 

SCAN. (Aside). Plague take the man. {To Pancrace). 
Why, Master Doctor, do hear one for a moment. I have 
been talking to you for an hour, and you do not reply to 
what is said to you. 

PAN. I ask your pardon. A just wrath engrosses my 

SCAN. Well, let it pass ; and be at pains to listen to me. 

PAN. I will. What do you wish to say to me ? 

SCAN. I wish to speak to you of something. 

PAN. And what tongue would you use with me ? 

SCAN. What tongue ? 

PAN. Ay. 

SCAN. Zounds ! the tongue I have in my mouth. I do 
not think I shall go and borrow my neighbour's. 

sessed all advantages namely, title and property ; hence un impertinent 
fieffe is a fellow who possesses all the qualifications of impertinence. 

15 Literally, " A vacuum exists in the things of nature." The peripate- 
tic school denied the existence of a vacuum. 


PAN. I ask you, what idiom, what language? 

SCAN. Oh ! that is another thing. 

PAN. Do you wish to speak to me in Italian ? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Spanish? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. German? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. English? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Latin? 

SGAN. No. 

PAN. Greek? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Hebrew? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Syriac ? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Turkish? 

SCAN. No. 

PAN. Arabic? 

SCAN. No, no ! French, French, French ! w 

PAN. Ah, French ! 

SCAN. Quite so. 

PAN. Then go to the other side ; for this ear is set 
apart for the learned and foreign languages, and the other 
is for the vulgar and mother tongue. 

SCAN. (Aside). One must employ many ceremonies 
with this sort of people. 

PAN. What do you desire ? 

SCAN. To consult you in a little difficulty. 

PAN. Ah ! a difficulty in philosophy, no doubt. 

SCAN. Pardon me. I ... 

PAN. You would know perhaps if substance and acci' 
dent be synonymous terms, or equivocal in respect of 
entity ? 

SCAN. Not at all. I ... 

16 In the ninth chapter of the second book of Rabelais' Pantagruel. 
"How Pantagruel found Panurge,'' whom he loved all his life-time, the 
first addresses the latter also in a dozen different languages, before speak- 
ing to him. 


PAN. If logic be an art or a science ? 

SCAN. It is not that. I ... 

PAN. If its object be the three operations of the mind, 
or the third only ? 

SCAN. No. I ... 

PAN. If there be ten categories, or only one? 

SCAN. Not so. I ... 

PAN. If the conclusion be of the essence of a syllogism ? 

SCAN. No-o ! I . . . 

PAN. If the essence of good be placed in appetibility 
or incongruity ? 

SCAN. No. I ... 
. PAN. If good be reciprocal with finality ? 

SCAN. Oh, no ! I ... 

PAN. Whether finality can affect us by its real, or by its 
intentional being? 

SCAN. No, no, no, no, no ! By all the devils, no ! 

PAN. Unfold then your thought; for I cannot divine it. 

SCAN. That is just what I wish to do; but you must 
listen to me. The business I have to mention to you is 
that I have a mind to marry a girl who is young and 
handsome. I love her very much, and I have asked her 
of her father ; but I fear . . . 

PAN. (Not listening to Sganarelle). Speech has been 
given to man to express his thoughts ; 1T and just as 
thoughts are the representations of things, so our words 
are the representations of our thoughts. (Sganarelle im- 
patiently stops the Doctor's mouth with his hand j but the 
latter continues to speak as soon as Sganarelle withdraws 
his hand. TTiis is repeated several times). But these re- 
presentations differ from other representations, inasmuch 
as these other representations are distinguished everywhere 
by their originals, whilst speech includes its original in it- 
self; being nothing but thought explained by an external 
sign ; whence it follows that they who think well are also 
they who speak the best. Explain to me then your 
thoughts by words, which are the most intelligible of all 

1T A formula employed by several of Moliere's successors. The re- 
verse has also been maintained : '' Speech was given to man to disguise 
his thoughts." 


SCAN. (Pushing the Doctor into his house, and pulling 
the door to prevent his coming out). Plague take the man ! 

PAN. ( Within). Yes, speech is animi index et speculum, 
that is, the interpreter of the heart, the image of the soul. 
(He gets up to the window and continues). It is a mirror 
which plainly reproduces for us the innermost secrets of 
our individualisms. Since, then, you have the faculty of 
reasoning, and also of speaking, why do you not make 
use of speech in order to make me understand your 
thoughts ? 

SCAN. That is just what I wish to do; but you will not 
listen to me. 

PAN. I listen to you ; speak. 

SCAN. I say then, Doctor, that . . . 

PAN. But above all, be brief. 

SCAN. I will. 

PAN. Avoid prolixity. 

SCAN. Oh ! Sir . . . 

PAN. Contract your discourse into a laconic apophthegm. 

SGAN. I ... 

PAN. No diffuseness nor circumlocution. (Sganarelle, 
in his vexation at being unable to speak, picks up stones to 
throw at the Doctor's head). Eh, what ? Are you flying 
into a passion instead of explaining yourself? Go along, 
you are more impertinent than the fellow who would have 
it that one ought to say " the form of a hat ;" and I will 
prove to you upon all occasions, by clear and convincing 
reasons, and by arguments in Barbara, that you are not, 
and never will be, aught but an animal, and that I am, 
and ever shall be, Doctor Pancrace, in utroque jure. 

SCAN. What an eternal gabbler ! 

PAN. {Coming down). A man of letters, a man of 

SCAN. What, more ? 

PAN. A man of sufficiency, a man of capacity. (Going 
away). A man supreme in all the sciences, natural, moral, 
and political. (Returning). A learned, most learned 
man, per omnes modos et casus. (Going away). A man 
who possesses, in the superlative degree, a knowledge of 
fables, mythologies, and histories (returning) grammar, 
poetry, rhetoric, dialectics, and sophistry (going away) 


mathematics, arithmetic, optics, oneirocritics, physics 
and metaphysics (returning) cosmometry, geometry, 
architecture, the speculory and speculatory arts (going 
away) medicine, astronomy, astrology, physiognomy, 
metoposcopy, cheiromancy, geomancy, etc. 18 


The devil take these scholars, who will never listen to 
people ! I was rightly informed that his master, Aristotle, 
was nothing but a talker. I must go and find the other 
one. Perhaps he may be more composed and reasonable. 
Soho, there ! 


MAR. What do you want with me, Mr. Sganarelle ? 

SCAN. Doctor, I have need of your advice in a little 
matter of business, and that is why I have come to you. 
(Aside*). Ah ! this is all right. This gentleman lets peo- 
ple speak. 

MAR. Mr. Sganarelle, pray change this mode of speak- 
ing. Our philosophy enjoins us not to enunciate a posi- 
tive proposition, but to speak of everything dubiously, and 
always to suspend our judgment. For this reason, you 
should not say, I am come, but it seems that I am come, 

SCAN. Seems? 

MAR. Y$s. 

SGAN. Upon my word ! no doubt it seems, because it is 

MAR. That does not follow : it might seem, and yet not 
be true. 

SCAN. How? Is it not true that I am come? 

MAR. That is questionable ; and we must doubt every- 

18 Instead of metaphysics the original has again mathematics, which ap- 
pears an error. Oneirocritics is the interpretation of dreams ; the specu- 
lory art showed in a mirror the image of absent persons ; the speculatory 
art interpreted the future through observing thunder, lightning, and 
meteors; metoposcopy was the art of predicting what would happen by 
studying the countenance ; cheiromancy is divination by looking at the 
lines in the hand ; geomancy, by observing the lines, or crevices and un- 
dulations of the ground. 


SCAN. What! I am not here? and you are not speaking 
to me? 

MAR. It appears to me that you are there, and it seems 
that I am speaking to you; but it is not certain that it 
is so. 

SCAN. Eh ! what the deuce ! You are joking. Here I 
am, and there you are, plainly enough ; and there is no 
"seems" in all that. Let us dispense with these quirks 
and quibbles, I beg, and talk of my business. I am come 
to tell you that I wish to marry. 

MAR. I know nothing of this. 

SCAN. I tell it you. 

MAR. It may be so. 

SCAN. The girl whom I intend to marry is very young 
and very lovely. 

MAR. It is not impossible. 

SCAN. Shall I do well or ill to marry her ? 

MAR. The one or the other. 

SCAN. (Aside). Oh, dear ! here is another tune. I ask 
you, if I shall do well to marry the girl I speak of? 

MAR. As it may chance. 

SCAN. Shall I do ill? 

MAR. Just as it happens. 

SCAN. Pray, answer me properly. 

MAR. That is my intention. 

SCAN. I have a great liking for the girl. 

MAR. That may be. 

SCAN. The father has given his consent. 

MAR. He may have done so. 

SCAN. But if I marry her, I fear to be made a cuckold. 

MAR. The thing is feasible. 

SCAN. What do you think of it ? 

MAR. There is no impossibility in it. 

SCAN. But what would you do, if you were in my 
place ? 

MAR. I do not know. 

SCAN. What do you advise me to do ? 

MAR. Whatever you please. 

SCAN. I shall go mad ! 

MAR. I wash my hands of it. 

SCAN. Devil take the dreamer ! 


MAR. As it may be. 19 

SCAN. (Aside}. Plague take the rascal ! I'll make 
you change your tune, mad hang-dog of a philosopher ! 

(Beats htm.} 

MAR. Oh, oh, oh ! 

SCAN. There is something for your nonsense ! And now 
I am satisfied ! 

MAR. How ! What insolence is this ! To outrage me 
in this manner ! To have the audacity to beat a philo- 
sopher like me ! 

SCAN. Pray, correct this manner of speaking. We are 
to doubt everything ; and you ought not to say that I have 
beaten you, but that it seems I have beaten you. 

MAR. Ugh ! I shall go and complain to a magistrate M 
of this beating. 

SCAN. I wash my hands of it. 

MAR. I have the marks on my body. 

SCAN. It may be so. 

MAR. You know it was you who did it. 

SCAN. It is not impossible. 

MAR. I will get a summons against you. 

SCAN. I know nothing about it. 

MAR. And you will be convicted. 

SCAN. As it may be. 

MAR. Leave me alone for that. 


What now ? One cannot get a word from that beastly 
man, and I am as wise at the end as at the beginning. 
What shall I do in this uncertainty as to the consequences 
of getting married ? Never was a man more perplexed 
than I. Ah ! here come the gipsies : they shall tell me 
my fortune. 

77ie two Gipsies come in, with tabors, singing and dancing. 

SCAN. They are very merry. I say, you good women, 
can you tell me my fortune ? 

19 This scene is an imitation of the thirty-sixth chapter of the third book 
of Rabelais' Pantagruel, where Panurge asks Trouillogan's advice if he 
should marry. 

* The original has commissaire de quartier. See The School for Hus- 


1 GIP. Ay, my good sir, both of us here will tell it you. 

2 GIP. Just give us your hand, and cross ours with a 
small bit of silver, 21 and we shall tell you something that 
shall be of service to you. 

SCAN. Here : there are both my hands, with what you 
ask in them. 

1 GIP. You have a good phiz, master a good phiz. 

2 GIP. Ay, a good phiz ; the phiz of a man that will be 
something one of these days. 

1 GIP. You will be married before long, good master, 
you will be married before long. 

2 GIP. You will wed a pretty wife, a pretty wife. 

1 GIP. Ay, a wife that will be courted and loved by 
every one. 

2 GIP. A wife that will make you many friends, good 
master, many friends. 

1 GIP. A wife that will bring plenty to your house. 

2 GIP. A wife that will gain you great repute. 

1 GIP. You will be esteemed for her sake, good master ; 
you will be esteemed for her sake. 

SCAN. That is well. But just tell me, is there fear of 
my being cuckold ? 

2 GIP. Cuckold ! 
SCAN. Ay! 

1 GIP. Cuckold ! 

SCAN. Ay ; is there fear of my being cuckolded ? ( The 
Gipsies sing and dance). What the devil ! that is no 
answer. Come here. I ask you whether I shall be a 

2 GIP. A cuckold ! You ? 
SCAN. Ay, shall I be a cuckold ? 
i GIP. You a cuckold ! 

SCAN. Yes ; shall I, or not ? 

(The Gipsies go off, singing and dancing. 

Plague take the baggages for leaving me in this uncer- 

n The original has avec la croix dedans, literally, with a cross in it ; be- 
cause formerly some coins had on one side a cross; hence also the French 
for playing pitch and toss,jouer <i croix ou pile, and the expression, lager 
le diable dans sa bourse, literally, " to lodge the devil in cue's purse," be- 
cause there was no cross to drive him away. 


tainty ! I must really know the upshot of my marriage ; 
so I shall go and find that great magician of whom every- 
body is talking, and who, by his marvelous art, enables us 
to see all that we wish. Upon my word ! I believe I have 
only to go to the magician, and he will show me all that I 
ask of him. 

sight, at the back of the stage}. 

LYC. What ! lovely Dorimene, do you speak seriously? 

DOR. Most seriously. 

LYC. You really mean to marry ? 

DOR. Really. 

LYC. And your wedding is to be this evening ? 

DOR. This evening. 

LYC. And you can forget, cruel maid, the love I feel for 
you, and the kind words you have spoken to me ? 

DOR. I ? By no means. I shall always think the same 
of you ; and this marriage need not trouble you. I am 
not marrying the man for love ; it is only his wealth that 
makes me resolve to accept him. I have no fortune ; no 
more have you ; and you know that, without fortune, it 
goes hard with us in the world. At whatever cost, therefore, 
we must try to get it. I have jumped at this opportunity of 
making myself comfortable ; I have done it in the hope 
of being soon delivered from the old fool that I am mar- 
rying. He will shortly die; he has not more than six 
months to live. I guarantee that he is dead in the time 
I say ; I shall not long have to pray Heaven for the happy 
state of widowhood. (Seeing Sganarelle). Ah, we were 
talking of you, and saying much in your praise too. 

LYC. Is that the gentleman . . . 

DOR. Yes, that is the gentleman who is going to marry 

LYC. Allow me, sir, to congratulate you on your mar- 
riage, and at the same time to offer you my most humble 
services. Let me tell you that the lady, whom you are 
marrying, possesses great merits; as for you, Miss Dori- 
mene, I congratulate you also on the happy choice you 
have made. You could not have found a better, and this 
gentleman has all the appearance of making a very good 


husband. Yes, sir, I should be delighted to strike up a 
friendship with you, and to arrange a slight interchange of 
visits and entertainments. 

DOR. You are doing us too much honour. But come, 
time presses, and we shall have plenty of opportunities to 
converse together. 

There, now I am fairly disgusted with my match ; I 
think I shall not do amiss to go and get out of my en- 
gagement. It has cost me a little money; but I had 
better even lose that than run the risk of something worse. 
I shall try if I cannot be clever enough to get out of this 
scrape. Within there ! (He knocks at Alcantor 1 s door. 


AL. Ah, son-in-law, you are welcome. 

SCAN. Sir, my duty to you. 

AL. You come to conclude the marriage? 

SCAN. Excuse me. 

AL. I promise you that I am as impatient as yourself. 

SCAN. I come here for another purpose. 

AL. I have given the necessary orders for the entertain- 

SCAN. That is not what I am come about. 

AL. The violins are engaged, the feast is bespoke, and 
my daughter is ready dressed to receive you. 

SCAN. It is not that which has brought me. 

AL. In short, you are about to have your wish; and 
nothing can delay your happiness. 

SCAN. Good Lord, there is something else to think of. 

AL. Come, son-in-law, will you walk in? 

SCAN. I have just a word to say to you. 

AL. Oh goodness, let us have no ceremony! Enter 
quickly, if you please. 

SCAN. No, I tell you. I wish to speak to you first. 

AL. You have something to say to me? 

SCAN. Yes. 

AL. What is it, then? 

SCAN. Mr. Alcantor, it is true I asked your daughter in 
marriage, and you granted my request ; but I find that I 


am rather old ; I think that I am by no means a proper 
match for her. 

AL. Pardon me. My daughter likes you as you are; 
and I am sure that she will live very happily with you. 

SGAN. Nay. I am given to strange whims at times, 
and she would have too much to endure from my ill hu- 

AL. My daughter is of a very mild and obliging dispo- 
sition; you shall see that she will accommodate herself 
entirely to you. 

SCAN. I have some bodily infirmities which might dis- 
gust her. 

AL. That is nothing. A virtuous woman is never dis- 
gusted with her husband. 

SCAN. Must I then speak plainly ? I do not advise you 
to give her to me. 

AL. Surely you are jesting? I would rather die than 
break my word. 

SCAN. Oh dear, I absolve you from it, and I ... 

AL. By no means. I have promised her to you, and 
you shall have her, in spite of all who are running after 

SCAN. (Aside}. The devil I shall ! 

AL. Look here. I have a special respect and friendship 
for you ; and I would refuse my daughter to a Prince, to 
give her to you. 

SCAN. Mr. Alcantor, I am obliged for the honour you 
do me, but I declare to you that I will not marry. 

AL. Not marry, you say ? 

SCAN. Yes, not marry. 

AL. And why? 

SCAN. Why ? Because I feel I am not fit for marriage ; 
and because I wish to be like my father, and all my an- 
cestors, who never would marry. 

AL. Hark ye. Every one to his liking ; I am not the 
man to force anyone. You gave me your word that you 
would marry my daughter, and everything is prepared for 
the wedding ; but since you wish to withdraw, I shall go 
and see what can be done in the matter ; you shall hear 
from me presently. 



Now he is more reasonable than I expected. I thought 
I should have much more trouble in getting off. Upon 
my word, when I think of it, I have done very prudently 
in withdrawing from this business. I was going to take a 
step of which I should perhaps have repented at leisure. 
But here comes the son, to bring me my answer. 


ALGID. (Jh a mild and complaisant tone). Sir, your 
most obedient servant. 

SCAN. Sir, I am entirely yours. 

ALGID. My father has told me, sir, that you came to 
withdraw your promise to marry my sister. 

SCAN. Yes, sir. It is with regret ; but . . . 

ALGID. Oh ! sir, there is no harm in that. 

SCAN. I am extremely sorry, I assure you, and I could 
wish . . . 

ALGID. That is nothing, I tell you. {Offers Sganarelle 
two swords). Sir, have the goodness to choose one of 
these swords. 

SGAN. One of these swords ? 

ALGID. Yes, if you please. 

SCAN. For what ? 

ALGID. Sir, as you refuse to marry my sister, after 
giving your word, I think you will not take amiss the little 
compliment I have paid you. 

SGAN. How? 

ALGID. Other people would make more noise, and get 
into a rage with you ; but we are the sort of people to 
take things quietly ; and I have come to tell you very 
politely that we must, by your favour, cut each other's 

SGAN. That is a sorry compliment. 

ALGID. Come, sir, I beg you will make your choice. 

SCAN. I am your very humble servant, but I have no 
throat worth cutting. (Aside). Here is a scurry style of 
speech ! 


ALCID. Sir, by your leave, it must be so. 

SCAN. My dear sir, a truce, I beg, to this compliment. 

ALCID. Let us be quick about it, sir. I have a little 
business on hand. 

SCAN. I have no mind for this, I tell you. 

ALCID. You will not fight ? 

SCAN. I will not, upon my soul. 

ALCID. You mean it ? 

SCAN. I mean it. 

ALCID. {Giving him a few blows with his cane). At 
least, sir, you cannot complain ; you see that I do things 
by rule. You break your word with us, I wish to fight 
you, you refuse to fight, I cane you, all that is according 
to form; and you are too much of a gentleman to find 
fault with my mode of acting. 

SCAN. Aside). Here is a devil of a fellow ! 

ALCID. (Again offering the swords). Come, sir, do 
things like a gentleman, before I pull your ears. 

SCAN. What ! are you determined ? 

ALCID. Sir, I force no one ; but you must either fight 
or marry my sister. 

SCAN. Sir, I assure you, I cannot do either. 

ALCID. Really? 

SCAN. Really. 

ALCID. By your leave then . . , (Beats him again. 

SCAN. Oh, oh, oh ! 

ALCID. Sir, I infinitely regret to be obliged to treat you 
thus; but if you please I shall not stop until you have 
promised to marry my sister. (Raises his cane. 

SCAN. Well then, I will marry, I will marry ! 

ALCID. My dear Sir, I am delighted that you have 
returned to your senses, and that things can go smoothly. 
For I swear that I esteem you more than any one in the 
world ; and I should have been grieved if you had com- 
pelled me to maltreat you. I shall call my father, and let 
him know that everything is settled. 

( Goes and knocks at Alcantor 1 s door. 


ALCID. Father, this gentleman is now pleased to listen 


to reason. He has determined to do things with a good 
grace, and you can give my sister to him. 

ALCAN. Sir, here is her hand ; you have only to give her 
yours. Heaven be praised ! I have got rid of her ; it is 
for you henceforth to take charge of her character. Let 
us make merry, and celebrate this happy marriage. 


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