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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 







Comedie Pastorale Heroique I 


Pastorale Comique 27 


Le Sicilien ; ou, L?Am ur Peintre 39 


Tartuffe ; ou, L' Imposteur 67 


Amphitryon Comedie 161 


George Dandin ; ou, Le Mart Confondu 221 




TARTUFFE. Act III., Scene 6. 

Tartuffe ; ou, L 1 Imposteur Frontispiece 

AMPHITRYON. Act I., Scene 2. 

Amphitryon- Comedie 176 

GEORGE DANDIN. Act II., Scene 3. 

George Dandin ; ou, Le Mari Confondu 250 






DECEMBER 2ND, 1666. 


ON the ist of December, 1666, the troupe of Moliere set out for Saint- 
Germain-en-Laye, where it was employed, as well as the troupe of the 
hotel de Bourgogne, and the Italian and Spanish comedians, in the Ballet 
des Muses, which inaugurated the renewal of the court-festivals, inter- 
rupted for nearly a year through the death of the Queen-mother. The 
celebrated musician, Lulli, composed the music for the ballet ; whilst the 
King, Madame, 1 Mesdemoiselles de la Valliere and de la Mothe, Mesdames 
de Montespan and de Ludre four ladies whom the King delighted 
to honour and the principal personages of the court, took an active part 
in the entries, 2 the dancing, and the mythological sports. 

Moliere was entrusted with the task of writing a comedy for these 
entertainments, and he chose for his subject a similar one to the history 
of'Florizel and Perdita. in Shakespeare's Winter's Tale. It is said that 
Moliere owed his episode of Melicerte to that part of Mademoiselle de 
Scude'ry's novel Cyrus, which relates the love-scenes between Sesostris 
and Timarete, a young shepherd and shepherdess, who became enam- 
oured of each other, and are afterwards proved to be of noble origin. 
But the charm of his writing, the exquisite delicacy of the sentiment, and 
the freshness of the pastoral scenes, cause us to regret that Moliere wrote 
only the two first acts of this play, and never finished it. Those who 
wish to study Moliere, and not to leave any of his writings neglected, 
will discover in some of his most slighted plays, such as Don Garcia of 
Navarre, The Princess of Elis, Melicerte, The Magnificent Lovers, an 
under-current of sentimentality, sometimes a little too courtly, at other 
times of rather too pastoral and lackadaisical a flavour, but always bear- 
ing the impress of genuine, real, heartfelt emotion, worthy of being 
carefully observed, as perhaps a nevr trait in Moliere's character, 

Melicerte was acted on the 2d of December, 1666, and young Michel 
Boiron, better known as Baron, played in it the chief character of Myrtil. 
Tradition states, that, during the rehearsals, the wife of Moliere, jealous 
of the influence of the young actor for he was only thirteen years old 
over the heart of her husband, boxed Baron's ears ; at which the latter 

1 See Vol. I., page 340, note x. 'See Vol. I., page xxx., note n. 


was so offended that he refused to play. The matter was arranged with 
great difficulty ; but immediately after Melicerte had been performed, 
Baron asked Louis XIV. s permission to leave Moliere's troupe, and for 
three years remained in the provinces. The scandalous gossip of those 
times says that Mad. Moliere's hatred of Baron changed afterwards into a 
warmer sentiment, which he returned. 

This play was not published during Moliere's lifetime, but sixteen years 
after his death by La Grange and Vinot. (See Introductory Notice to 
TTie Impromptu of Versailles, Vol. I.). In 1699, seventeen years after it 
had been published, Guerin, a son of the husband of Moliere's widow, 
and who professed a great admiration for Moliere, altered Melicerte partly, 
changed the metre into an irregular one, made Myrtil give to Melicerte a 
nosegay instead of a bird, and added an entire third act. But in spite of 
the music of Lalande and the protection of the Princess of Conti, the 
piece had no success. 

Moliere and his troupe remained at Saint Germain-en-Laye from the 
ist of December, 1666, until the 25th of February, 1667, and received 
from the King, for the time spent in his pleasures, two years of their 
pension. 3 During that time, the dramatist produced Melicerte, the 
Pastorale Comique and The Sicilian. The Ballet des Muses was arranged 
by Benserade, the official manager of nearly all the courtly entertain- 
ments, who wrote also the verses or recits: * but as this Ballet lasted for 
nearly three months, it must have been often changed, for variety is one of 
the necessities of courtly amusements. It opened with Mnemosyne, the 
goddess of memory, who, remembering the great heroes of antiquity, 
wished to see the august prince who had such a glorious reputation, and 
who caused all arts to flourish in his dominions. She was accompanied 
by the nine Muses who sang, and by seven arts. Urania, and seven 
planets, represented by dancers in brilliant dresses, formed the first entry. 
The second entry was Pyramus and Thisbe ; Pyramus was acted by the 
Count of Armagnac, generally called Monsieur le Grand, because he was 
" Grand Ecuyer '' (Master of the horse), and Thisbe by the Marquis de 
Mirepoix, who we sincerely trust played better than Nick Bottom, the 
weaver, and Francis Flute, the bellows- mender. The third entry was 
Thalia and Melicerte, 5 represented by Moliere and his troupe, " of all our 
poets," says the official description, " the one who, in this kind of writing, 
may with the greatest justice be compared to the ancients." The fourth 
entry was in honour of Euterpe, a pastoral muse ; eight shepherds and 
eight shepherdesses sang some verses in praise of the power of Love ; 
four other shepherds and four other shepherdesses danced, whilst the six- 
teen were singing. Amongst the dancers were Louis XIV. and the Mar- 
quis de Villeroi, and amongst the danseuses Madame, Madame de Mon- 
tespan, Mademoiselle de La Valliere and Mademoiselle de Toussi. The 
fifth entry, in honour of Clio, the muse of history, was a ballet represent- 
ing the battle between Alexander and Porus. I cannot imagine that the 
battle was well represented ; for the official description gives only the 

*The munificence displayed by Louis XIV. to Moliere and his troupe has been 
too much extolled. Since the year 1665, they received 6,000 livres, and during the 
last two years of Moliere's life, 7,000 livres; but the troupe of the hotel de Bourgogne 
received 12,000 livres, and the Italian troupe 15,000 livres yearly. 

4 See Vol. I., page xxx., note 12. 

* There is a little doubt whether Melicerte or the Pastorale Comique was repre- 
sented in the third entry ; most probably the former. 


names of five Greeks and the same number of Indians, while each army 
has one drummer and two flute players. The sixth entry in honour of Cal- 
liope, " the mother of fine verses," was a little comedy, called The Poets. 
acted by the troupe of the hotel de Bourgogne, when a Spanish Masca-, 
rade was represented, in which the King and several noblemen, as well as 
Madame, Madame de Montespan, Mademoiselle de La Valliere, and 
several noble ladies, danced. There were also four Spaniards who played 
on the harp and guitar, the same number who sang, and four Spanish 
ladies who sang also ; and if these Spanish actors were as is most likely 
. the comedians patronised by the Queen Maria Theresa, herself a Span- 
ish princess, and on the point of giving birth to a child, 6 it is, to say the 
least of it, singular, that they should have sung in her presence, as well as 
in that of the King's favourites, verses which say, " the most charming 
youth, without love, is nothing; some little tenderness increases all 
charms. None can refrain from the power of love, but if my heart is 
tender, it is not so for you." In the seventh entry, Orpheus, sung by Lulli, 
was represented as bewailing and feeling the influence of love ; a nymph 
and eight Thracians are also there. The eighth entry represented Erato, 
'' who, above all others, is invoked in love," and six lovers taken from the 
most famous novels ; amongst others Louis XIV., came forward as Cyrus. 
The ninth entry was in honour of Polyhymnia, " whose power extends 
over eloquence and dialectics ; " three Greek and three Roman orators 
are ridiculed by the same number of French and Italian actors. The 
tenth entry was in honour of Terpsichore, " to whom the invention of 
rustic song and dance is attributed ; " four Fauns and four savage women 
dance, and a Satyr sings verses, of course in praise of Love. The 
eleventh entry consisted of the nine Muses and the nine daughters of 
Pierro vicing with each other in dancing, and all represented by noble 
ladies, amongst whom were Madame, Mademoiselle de La Valliere, 
Madame de Ludre, and Madame de Montespan. The twelfth entry was 
composed of three nymphs, who were umpires, of which the King was one. 
The last entry consisted of the Pierides resisting, and Monsieur Le Grand, 
as Jupiter, changing them into birds. 

It will be seen that the Grand. Monarque danced several times himself 
in the Ballet des Muses ; he always liked dancing, and however much 
his early education may have been neglected, upon that point it left 
nothing to be desired. But to judge rightly how much dancing was es- 
teemed at that time, we have but to look at what was paid to the King's 
different masters in 1660 he was then twenty-three years old. We find 
that the yearly salary of his dancing master was 2000 livres, of his draw- 
ing master 1500 livres, and of his writing master 300 livres, the same, in 
fact, as that of the scullions of the royal kitchen perhaps a just retribu- 
tion for neglect, for Louis XIV., wrote a royally bad hand all his lifetime, 
but was considered a first-rate dancer. He instituted in 1661, an Acade- 
mie royale de danse, formed of thirteen dancing masters, who " shall have 
to remedy the disorders and confusion which the late wars have intro- 
duced in the aforesaid art/' says the official preamble. This Academy 
enjoyed the same privileges as the Academie de peinture et de sculpture ; 
and probably the dancing master of The Citizen who apes the Nobleman, 
was one of its members. The official Gazette always gave a minute and 
detailed report of the most trifling mythological or allegorical ballet 
danced at court, but never an analysis of any masterpiece of the French 

* This child, a girl, was born on the ad of January, 1667. 


stage. It continued to do this, even after the King no longer danced 
himself. 7 

* It is generally stated that Louis XIV. never danced more in a ballet, after 
Racine had put the following words in the mouth of Burrhus in the tragedy of 
Britannicus, represented during the latter part of the year 1669. We see, how- 
ever, that the King, according to the Gazette, represented Apollo and Neptune in 
a ballet, on the 9th of February, 1670 ; but after that time, he never more appeared 
in public. The lines are as follows : 

" His greatest merit and his rarest virtue, 
Is skilfully to guide his chariot's course, 
To vie with others for unworthy prizes, 
And to become a public sight in Rome." 


MYRTIL, in love with Melicerte. 

ACANTHE, in love with Daphne. 

TYRONE, in love with Eroxene. 

LYCARSIS, herdsman, supposed father to Myrtil? 

NICANDRE, shepherd. 

MOPSE, shepherd, supposed uncle to Melicerte. 

MELICERTE, shepherdess. 

DAPHNE, shepherdess. 

EROXENE, shepherdess. 

CORINNE, confidante of Melicerte. 


8 This part was played by Moliere himself. 





ACAN. Ah ! charming Daphne ! 
TYR. Too lovely Eroxene ! 
DAPH. Leave me, Acanthe. 
EROX. Do not follow me Tyrene. 
ACAN. (To Daphne). Why do you drive me away? 
TYR. (To Eroxene). Why do you fly from me? 
DAPH. ( To Acanthe}. You please me most when far away. 
EROX. (To Tyrene). I love to be where you are not. 
ACAN. Why not cease this killing severity? 
TYR. Why not cease to be so cruel? 
DAPH. Why not cease your useless protestations? 
EROX. Why not cease to bore me ? 
ACAN. I die with grief, unless you pity them. 
TYR. Unless you succour me, my death is but too sure. 
DAPH. Unless you go, I leave this place. 
EROX. If you remain, I say good-bye. 
ACAN. Well, be it so ! to please you I will go. 
TYR. When I am gone, I am sure you will be pleased. 
ACAN. Generous Eroxene, vouchsafe, for pity's sake, to 
say a word or two to her in favour of my passion. 


10 MfeLICERTE. [ACT i. 

TYR. Obliging Daphne, speak to this inhuman creature, 
and learn whence proceeds so much hatred towards me. 


EROX. Acanthe has some merit, and loves you dearly. 
How is it that you treat him so harshly? 

DAPH. Tyrene has much worth, and pines for your love. 
Whence comes it that, without pity, you behold him 
shedding tears? 

EROX. Since I put the question first, it is but fair that 
you should answer before me. 

DAPH. All Acanthe's attentions make no impression on 
me, because I care for some one else. 

EROX. I treat Tyrene with harshness, because another 
is master of my heart. 

DAPH. May I know this choice which you conceal ? 

EROX. Yes, if you tell me this secret of yours. 

DAPH. I can easily satisfy your wish without telling you 
the name of him I love. I have an admirable portrait of 
him in my pocket, the work of Atis, that inimitable painter, 
so like him in every feature, that I am sure you will re- 
cognise him at a glance. 

EROX. I can satisfy you by the same means, and repay 
your secret in the like coin,. I also have a lovely portrait 
by this famous painter, of the object of my affections, so 
like him in every feature, and in his exceeding grace, that 
you will name him at first sight. 

DAPH. The case which the painter has had made for me 
is exactly like yours. 

EROX. It is true. They are exactly alike, and certainly 
Atis must have had them made together. 

DAPH. Let us now, by means of these few tints, show 
each other the secret of our hearts. 

EROX. Let us see who will soonest understand this 
language, and which work speaks most plainly. 

DAPH. This is a droll mistake, and you have made a 
nice blunder: instead of your portrait, you have given 
me back my own. 

EROX. Indeed I have ; I do not know how I came to 
do it. 

DAPH. Give it me. It is because you were dreaming. 


EROX. What is the meaning of this ? I believe we are 
joking with each other. You have made the same blun- 
der as I have with the portraits. 

DAPH. This is certainly enough to make one laugh. 
Give it me back again. 

EROX. {Placing the two portraits side by side}. This is 
the true way not to make a blunder. 

DAPH. Is this an illusion of my preoccupied senses? 

EROX. Is my mind affecting my eyes? 

DAPH. Myrtil is shown to me in this work. 

EROX. Of Myrtil's features I see the image. 

DAPH. It is young Myrtil who has kindled my flame. 

EROX. It is to young Myrtil that all my wishes tend. 

DAPH. I came to-day to entreat you to tell him how his 
merits interest me in his lot. 

EROX. I came to ask you to assist me in my affections ; 
to help me to gain his heart. 

DAPH. Is this affection with which he inspires you so 

EROX. Is your love for him so violent ? 

DAPH. He could inflame the coldest heart ; and his 
budding charms must delight everyone. 

EROX. Not a nymph, but would esteem herself happy 
in loving him. Diana herself might without shame be 
enamoured of him. 

DAPH. Nothing but his bright presence charms me 
now-a-days ; and had I a hundred hearts, they should all 
be his. 

EROX. He blots every other sight from my eyes; and 
had I a sceptre he should be master of it. 

DAPH. It would be useless, then, to try to tear this love 
from our breasts. Our hearts are too steadfast in their 
wishes. Only let us try, if possible, to remain friends ; 
and since we both have formed the same designs for the 
same youth, let us act with the utmost candour in this 
matter, and not take a mean advantage of each other. 
Let us hasten together to Lycarsis, and confide to him our 
tender feelings for his son. 

EROX. I can hardly conceive, so great is my surprise, 
how such a son could spring from such a father. His 
shape, his mien, his words, his eyes, all make you believe 

12 MEL1CERTE. [ACT i. 

that the blood ot the gods runs in his veins. But I con- 
sent, let us go and find the father. Let us open our hearts 
to him, and agree that Myrtil shall decide by his own 
choice afterwards this contest of our desires. 

DAPH. Be it so. I perceive Lycarsis with Mopse and 
Nicandre. They will leave him perhaps. Let us hide 
ourselves till they do. 


NIC. (To LYCARSIS). Tell us your news? 

LYC. Ah ! how you press me ! It does not do .to tell 
these things as you imagine. 

MOP. What silly ceremonies, and what tomfoolery ! 
Menalcus does not make more to sing. 

LYC. Amongst the busy -bodies in political matters, the 
divulging of news generally causes a great stir. I wish to 
be considered as rather a man of importance, and enjoy 
your impatience a little longer. 

NIC. Do you wish to tire us both by your delay? 

MOP. Do you take pleasure in making yourself a bore ? 

NIC. Prithee, speak out, and stop these grimaces. 

LYC. Ask me both in a decent manner, and tell me 
what you will give me if I do as you wish. 

MOP. Plague take the fool ! Let us leave him, Nicandre. 
He is more anxious to tell than we are to hear. His news 
weighs him down, he wishes to get rid of it, and we will 
just vex him by not listening. 

LYC. Eh! 

NIC. It serves you right for your ado. 

LYC. I will tell it you, listen. 

MOP. Not at all. 

LYC. What 1 you do not wish to hear me ? 

NIC. No. 

LYC. Very well. I will not say a word, and you shall 
know nothing. 

MOP. All right. 

LYC. You shall not know, then, that the King has come 
to honour Tempe with his presence in the most magnifi- 
cent style ; and that he made his entry into Larissa yes- 
terday afternoon ; and that I saw him there comfortably 
installed with the whole Court ; that these woods will be 

SCBN* iv.] MKL1CERTK. 13 

rejoiced to-day at the sight of him ; and that there are a 
great many rumours abroad in connection with his visit. 9 

NIC. We do not wish to know anything. 

LYC. I have seen a hundred things there, delightful to 
behold. Nothing but great lords, glittering and brilliant 
from head to foot, as if dressed for a holiday ; they 
astonish one's eyes ; and are more dazzling than our 
meadows at spring-time with all their flowers. As for the 
prince himself, he is easily known among all the rest ; he 
looks like a grand monarch a mile off. 10 There is a some- 
thing about him that makes you tell at once that he is a 
master King. He performs his part with matchless grace ; 
and to say the truth, it suits him admirably. You would 
hardly believe how every one at court eagerly watches for 
a glance ; there reigns around him a pleasant confusion ; 
and one would think it a swarm of brilliant insects follow- 
ing everywhere a sweet honeycomb. In short, I have 
seen nothing so lovely under the canopy of Heaven ; and 
our much cherished feast of Pan is a mere piece of trash 
compared with this spectacle. Since you seem so proud, 
I keep my news to myself, and shall tell nothing. 

MOP. And we do not in the least wish to hear you. 

LYC. Go to the right about. 

MOP. Go and hang yourself. 


LYC. {Believing himself alone]. That is the way to 
punish people when they are foolish and impertinent. 

DAPH. Heaven always preserve your flock, shepherd ! 

EROX. May Ceres always keep your barns full of corn. 

LYC. And may the great Pan give to each of you a hus- 
band, who will love you much and be worthy of you ! 

DAPH. Ah, Lycarsis ! our wishes tend to the same end. 

9 Moliere has also employed in George Dandin a talkative servant 
named Lubin, who tells his secret, after having said that his hearer 
should know nothing. 

10 This was intended as a compliment to Louis XIV. The original has 
Et (Tune stade loin tl sent son grand monarque. Of course, Moliere did 
not intend to insinuate anything : yet it is rather funny that he should use 
the words il sent, "he smells," considering the uncleanly personal habits 
of Louis XIV., and his intense dislike to ablutions, as mentioned by Saint 
Simon in his Memoires. 


EROX. Both our hearts sigh for the same object. 

DAPH. And that boy Cupid, the cause of all our lan- 
guor, has borrowed from you the darts with which he 
wounds our hearts. 

EROX. And we have come here to seek your coun- 
tenance, and to see which of us two shall have the 

LYC. Nymphs. . . . 

DAPH. For this alone we sigh. 

LYC. I am. . . . 

EROX. For this happiness only we wish. 

DAPH. We express our thoughts somewhat freely. 

LYC. Why so ? 

EROX. Good breeding seems somewhat outraged. 

LYC. Not at all ! 

DAPH. But when the heart is consumed with a noble 
flame, one may, without any shame, make a candid avowal 
of it. 

LYC. I. ... 

EROX. We may be allowed this freedom, and the beauty 
of our hearts' choice warrants it. 

LYC. You shock my modesty by flattering me thus. 

EROX. No, no ; affect no modesty in this case. 

DAPH. In short, all our happiness is in your keeping. 

EROX. Our only hope depends on you. 

DAPH. Shall we find any difficulty in you? 

LYC. Ah! 

EROX. Tell me, shall our wishes be rejected ? 

LYC. No. Heaven has given me no cruel heart. I take 
after my late wife ; and I feel, like her, a great sympathy 
with the desires of others. And . I am not the man to 
show much pride. 11 

DAPH. Then grant us Myrtil to our ardent love. 

EROX. And allow his choice to adjust our quarrel. 

LYC. Myrtil? 

DAPH. Yes, it is Myrtil whom we desire of you. 

EROX. Of whom did you think we were speaking? 

11 Auger, one of the commentators of Moliere, thinks that the wife of 
Lycarsis was mentioned here on purpose, because it was probably the in- 
tention of Moliere afterwards to explain how Myrtil had passed so long 
for Lycarsis' son. 


LYC. I do not know; but Myrtil is not of an age to 
take the yoke of matrimony upon himself. 

DAPH. His growing merit may strike other eyes ; and 
we wish to secure so precious a possession, to forestall 
others, and to brave fortune under the firm ties of a com- 
mon bond. 

EROX. As by his wit and other brilliant qualities, he is 
out of the common order, and outstrips time ; so shall our 
affection for him do the same, and regulate all his wishes 
according to his exceeding merit. 

LYC. It is true that for his age he sometimes surprises 
me; and that this Athenian, who stayed with me for 
twenty months, finding him so handsome, took a fancy to 
fill his mind with his philosophy. He has made him so 
clever upon certain subjects, that, great as I am, he often 
puzzles me. But, after all, he is still a child, and his 
knowledge is mixed with a great deal of innocence. 

DAPH. He is not such a child but that I, who see him 
every day, believe him somewhat love-sick already ; and 
I have noticed many a thing that shows that he is after 
young Melicerte. 

EROX. They may be in love with each other, and I can 
see. . . . 

LYC. Nonsense. As for her, I do not say, she is two 
years older than he, and two years with her sex means a 
great deal. But as for him, he dreams of nothing but 
play, I think, and of his little vanities of being dressed 
like the shepherds of lofty rank. 

DAPH. In short, we wish, by the marriage tie to attack 
his fortune to ours. 

EROX. We are both equally eager to assure ourselves 
before-hand of the mastery of his heart. 

LYC. I feel myself more honoured than you would think. 
I am but a poor herdsman ; and it is certainly too much 
glory that two nymphs of the highest rank in the land 
should contend for making my son their husband. Since 
he pleases you so much, let the matter be arranged in this 
way. I consent that his choice shall adjust your dispute ; 
and she, whom his decree shall set aside, may marry me 
in compensation, if she likes. At all events, it is the same 
blood, and almost the same thing. But here he is. Allow 


me to prepare him a little. He has some sparrow newly 
caught : and this is nearly all his love and attachment. 

ther end of the stage), MYRTIL. 

MYR. (Relieving himself alone, carrying a sparrow in a 
cage). Innocent little bird, that thus, before me, beat 
your wings so violently against your prison walls, bewail 
not your loss of freedom. Yours is a glorious fate. I have 
caught you for Melicerte. She will kiss you, and take you 
in her hands, and grant you the favour of nestling in her 
bosom. Can there be a sweeter and happier lot ? Oh, 
happy little sparrow, where is the King that would not 
change places with you? 

LYC. A word with you, Myrtil. Leave these playthings 
alone. It is a question of something else than sparrows. 
These two nymphs, Myrtil, lay claim to you at the same 
time, and young as you are, desire you for their husband. 
I am to secure you to them by marriage ; and they wish 
you to choose one of them. 

MYR. These nymphs? 

LYC. Yes. Of the two you must select one. Look at 
the happiness in store for you, and bless your good for- 

MYR. Can this proffered choice be deemed happiness, 
if my heart does not in the least wish for it? 

LYC. At least, acknowledge it; and respond properly, 
and without confusion, to the honour intended for you. 

EROX. Behold, Myrtil, notwithstanding the pride which 
reigns amongst us, two nymphs who offer themselves to 
you. The marvellous promise of your worth reverses the 
order of things in this case. 

DAPH. We leave you, Myrtil, as the best judge, in this 
matter, to consult your own eyes and heart : nor will we 
influence your choice by a flowery description of our own 

MYR. You intend me an honour the greatness of which 
dazzles me ; but I confess that this honour is too great for 
me. I must oppose your exceeding goodness ; I am of too 
little worth to deserve such fortune ; and however great 


its attractions might be, I should be sorry that, for my 
sake, you should be blamed for having chosen beneath 

EROX. Comply with our wishes whatever may be said 
of it, and do not trouble yourself with the care of our 

DAPH. No, do not think so humbly of yourself, and 
leave us to be the judges of your deserts. 

MYR. Even the proffered choice opposes itself to your 
expectations, and alone would prevent my heart from sat- 
isfying you. How am I to choose between two great 
beauties, equal in birth and rare perfections? To reject 
either would be a terrible crime, and it is much more rea- 
sonable to choose neither. 

EROX. But in refusing to comply with our desires, in- 
stead of one, you offend two, Myrtil. 

DAPH. Since we are willing to abide by your decision, 
you cannot defend yourself with these reasons. 

MYR. Well then ! if these reasons do not satisfy you, 
this one will: I love other charms, and I feel full well, 
that a heart, which a beautiful object engrosses, is indif- 
ferent and deaf to all other advantages. 

LYC. What now ! What means all this ? Who could 
have thought it ? And do you know, boy, what love is ? 

MYR. Without knowing it myself, my heart does. 

LYC. But this love displeases me, and is not wanted. 

MYR. If it displeases you, you ought not to have given 
me such a tender and sensitive heart. 

LYC. But this heart that I have given you owes me obe- 

MYR. Yes, when it is in its power to obey. 

LYC. But it ought not to love without my leave. 

MYR. Why did you not hinder it, then, from being 
charmed ? 

LYC. Well ! I forbid you to let this continue. 

MYR. I am afraid your prohibition comes too late. 

LYC. What ! has not a father superior rights ? 

MYR. Even the much greater gods cannot control our 

LYC. The gods . . . Peace, little fool. This philosophy 

makes me . . . 


DAPH. Do not be angry, pray. 

LYC. No : he shall choose one of you, or I will whip 
him before your faces. Ha, ha, I will let you know that I 
am your father. 

DAPH. Pray, let us manage matters without anger. 

EROX. May we inquire of you, Myrtil, the name of the 
charming object whose beauty has made you her swain? 

MYR. Melicerte, Madam. She may make others love 

EROX. Do you compare her attractions to ours, Myrtil ? 

DAPH. The choice between her and us is unequal enough. 

MYR. Nymphs, in Heaven's name, do not say any ill of 
her. Pray consider that I love her, and do not upset my 
mind. If, by loving her, I outrage your heavenly charms, 
she has no part in that crime ; all the offence comes from 
me, if you please. It is true that I know the difference 
between you and her ; but we cannot escape our fate. In 
short, Nymphs, I feel that Heaven has granted me all 
imaginable respect for you, but for her all the love of 
which a heart is capable. I perceive, by the blush that 
rises in your face, that my words do not please you. My 
heart fears to hear in your answer what may wound it in 
its most tender part ; and to avoid such a blow, I prefer 
taking my leave of you, Nymphs. 

LYC. Hullo, Myrtil, hullo ! Will you come back, you 
wretch ? He is off ; but we shall see who is master. Do 
not concern yourself about all these idle raptures; you 
shall have him for a husband, I answer with my life for 


MEL. Ah ! Corinne, you have heard it from Stella, and 
she has got the news from Lycarsis ? 

COR. Yes. 

MEL. That Myrtil's charms have touched the hearts of 
Eroxene and Daphn6 ? 

COR. Yes. 

MEL. That they are so eager to secure him, that both 
together have asked for his hand, and that, in their dis- 


cussion, they have decided to claim it this very hour ? 
How unwilling you are to speak ! and how little my mis- 
fortune touches you ! 

COR. But what would you have me say ? This is the 
truth, and you repeat every word exactly as I told them 
to you." 

MEL. But how does Lycarsis take this matter ? 

COR. As an honour, I believe, that ought to please him 

MEL. And do not you see, you who know my feelings 
to well, that, alas ! with these words you pierce me to the 
heart ? 

COR. How so ? 

MEL. By showing me thus plainly that implacable fate 
makes me of so little consequence as compared with them. 
Is not the thought, that they will be preferred to me, on 
account of their rank, enough to drive me mad ? 

COR. But I only answer and say what I think. 

MEL. Oh! you kill me with your indifference. But tell 
me, what feelings did Myrtil show? 

COR. I know not. 

MEL. That is just what you ought to know, cruel girl ! 

COR. In truth I do not know what to do. Whatever I 
do, I am sure to displease you. 

MEL. It is because you do not enter into the feelings 
of a heart too full, alas ! of tender passion. Go : Leave 
me alone in this solitude to pass a few moments of my 


Behold, my heart, what it is to love. Too well Belise 
warned me of it. That darling mother, before her death, 
said to me, one day on the banks of the Peneus, " Be- 
ware, daughter ; Love always comes to young hearts 
surrounded by sweet guiles. At first it offers nought but 
what is agreeable ; but it drags horrible troubles after it ; 
and if you wish to pass your days in peace, ever defend 

11 This coolness of the confidant, as opposed to the impatience of the 
loved one, is also found in The Rogueries of Scapin (See Vol. III.), when 
in the first Scene of the first Act, Octave repeats the words which his ser- 
vant Sylvestre utters. 


yourself from its darts, as from an evil." And Oh ! my 
heart, well did I remember those lessons, and when first I 
beheld Myrtil, when he played with me, and paid me at- 
tentions, I always told you to delight less in them. But 
you believed me not ; and your complacency soon 
changed into too much goodwill. You imagined nought 
but joy and pleasure from this budding love that flattered 
your desires. Now you behold the cruel misfortune with 
which fate threatens you in this ominous day, and the 
deadly pangs to which it reduces you. Ah my heart ! my 
heart ! I warned you. But let us, if we can, conceal our 
grief. Here comes . . . 


MYR. I just now, charming Melicerte, took a little pri- 
soner, which I have kept for you, and of which I may 
perhaps become jealous one of these days. It is a young 
sparrow, which I myself intend to tame with great care, 
and for your acceptance. The present is not great ; but 
the gods themselves take note of the will only. The in- 
tention is everything; and it is never the value of presents 
that . . . But, Heaven, whence this sadness? What 
ails you, Melicerte, and what dark sorrow is reflected in 
your dear eyes this morning ? You do not answer me ; 
and this mournful silence redoubles my anxiety and im- 
patience. Speak, what has annoyed you ? What is it ? 

MEL. It is nothing. 

MYR. It is nothing, you say, and yet I see your eyes 
full of tears. Does this agree, fair charmer ? Oh, do not 
kill me by concealing it, but explain to me what those 
tears mean. 

MEL. It would do me no good to let you know this 

MYR. Ought you to have anything that I may not know? 
Do you not offend this day our loves by wishing to rob me 
of my share of your troubles ? . Oh ! do not hide it from 
my affection. 

MEL. Well ! Myrtil, be it so. I must tell it you, then. 
I have been informed that, by a choice very glorious for 
you, firoxene and Daphne" wish you for their husband; 
and I will confess, Myrtil, that I have the weakness of not 


being able to hear this without grief; without accusing 
fate of her rigorous law, which renders their desires prefer- 
able to mine. 

MYR. And you can harbour this unjust grief! You can 
suspect my love of weakness, and you imagine that, bound 
by such sweet charms, I could ever be another's ! that I 
would accept any other proffered hand ! Ah ! what have 
I done, cruel Melicerte, that you treat my tenderness so 
harshly, and judge my heart so badly ? What ! ought you 
even to doubt it? It makes me very wretched to suffer 
this suspicion. What is the good of love like mine, alas ! 
when you are so ready to disbelieve it ? 

MEL. I would fear these rivals less, Myrtil, if things 
were equal on both sides ; and were I of similar rank, I 
might dare to hope that perhaps love would prefer me. 
But the inequality of wealth and birth, which makes the 
difference between them and me . . . 

MYR. Ah ! their rank will not conquer my heart, and 
your divine charms stand you instead of all. I love you : 
that is sufficient ; and in you I see rank, wealth, treasures, 
states, sceptre, crown. Were the greatest monarch's power 
offered to me, I would not change it for the bliss of pos- 
sessing you. This is the sincere and unvarnished truth, 
which to doubt is an insult to me. 

MEL. Well ! Myrtil, since you wish it, I believe that 
your vows are not shaken by their rank ; and that, not- 
withstanding their nobility, riches, and beauty, your heart 
loves me well enough to love me better than them. But 
you will not follow the voice of love. Your father, Myr- 
til, will dictate your choice, and I am not dear to him, as 
I am to you, that he should prefer a simple shepherdess to 
aught else. 

MYR. No, dear Melicerte, neither father nor gods shall 
force me to discard your lovely eyes ; for ever, queen of 
my heart, as you are . . . 

MEL. Ah, Myrtil, take care what you are doing. Do 
not indulge my heart with hope, which it would perhaps 
too willingly receive, and which, vanishing afterwards like 
a passing flash of lightning, would render my misfortune 
the more cruel. 

MYR. What ! Am I to invoke the aid of oaths, when I 



promise to love you for ever? How you wrong yourself 
by such alarms ! How little you know the power of your 
charms ! Well ! since you wish it, I swear by the gods ; 
and, if that be not enough, I swear by your eyes, that I 
shall sooner be killed than leave you. Accept here on the 
spot the pledge which I give you, and suffer my lips to 
seal the oath with transport on this fair hand. 

MEL. "Ah ! Myrtil, get up for fear you may be seen. 

MYR. Is there aught . . . But, oh Heavens, some one 
comes to disturb my bliss. 


LYC. Do not let me disturb you. 

MEL. (Aside). Cruel fate ! 

LYC. Not at all bad, this ! go on you two. Bless my 
heart, dear son, how tender you look, and how like a mas- 
ter you set about it already ! Has this sage, whom Athens 
exiled, taught you all these pretty things in his philoso- 
phy? And you, my gentle shepherdess, who so sweetly 
give him your hand to kiss, does honour teach you these 
tender wiles wherewith you thus debauch young hearts ? 

MYR. Refrain from these degrading insinuations, and 
do not pain me with a discourse that insults her. 

LYC. I will speak to her, I will. All this billing and 
cooing . . . 

MYR. I will not allow her to be abused. My birth 
obliges me to have some respect for you ; but I shall be 
able to punish you, upon myself, for this outrage. Yes, I 
call Heaven to witness, that if, against my wishes, you 
utter again to her the least harsh word, I shall with this 
sword give her satisfaction. My pierced heart shall be 
your punishment, and my spilled blood promptly convince 
her how highly I disapprove of your anger. 

MEL. No, no ; do not believe that I purposely inflame 
him, and that it is my design to seduce his heart. It is by 
his own free will that he cares to see me, and bears me 
some goodwill ; I do not force him. Not that I wish to 
refrain from responding to his tender passion by an 
equally tender one. I love him, I own it, as much as 
possible ; but this attachment has nothing that ought to 
alarm you. And to disarm all your unjust fears, I promise 


you now to avoid his presence, to make room for the 
choice you have resolved upon, and not to listen to his 
protestations of love unless you wish it. 


MYR. Well ! now she is gone, you triumph. She has 
spoken, and you have obtained all that you desire. But 
know that you rejoice in vain, and that you will be disap- 
pointed in your expectations ; and that do what you will, 
all your power shall not shake my determination. 

LYC. What presumption is this, sirrah? Is this the 
way to talk to me ? 

MYR. Yes, I am wrong, it is true : and my anger is not 
seemly. I will change my tone, as becomes me ; and I 
beseech you father, in the name of the gods, and by all 
that can be most dear to yon, not to use in this conjunc- 
ture the supreme power which nature gives you over me. 
Do not embitter your most precious gifts. I owe my 
being to you ; but shall I be indebted to you this day if 
you render life unbearable to me ? 13 Without Mdlicerte, 
it becomes a torment ; nothing is of value to me without 
her divine charms. They contain all my happiness and 
all my desires, and if you take them away, you take life 

LYC. (Aside). He makes me share his heart-felt grief. 
Who would have ever thought it of the little rogue ? What 
passion ! what excitement ! what talk for one of his age ! 
It quite confuses me, and I feel that I am interested in his 

MYR. {Throwing himself at Lycarsis 1 knees}. Say, will 
you condemn me to die ? You have but to speak : I am 
ready to obey. 

LYC. (Aside). I can hold out no longer: he draws 
tears from me, and his tender words make me yield. 

MYR. If in your heart a spark of friendship inspires 
you with the slightest pity for my fate, grant Melicerte 
to my ardent desire, and you will give me more than life. 

LYC. Get up. 

18 Nearly these very words are used by Marianne, when she endeavours 
to soften the heart of her father, Orgon, in the third Scene of the fourth 
Act of Tartuffe. 


MYR. Will you take pity on my sighs? 

LYC. Yes. 

MYR. Shall I obtain the object of my desires? 

LYC. Yes. 

MYR. You will make her uncle give me her hand ? 

LYC. Yes, get up, I tell you. 

MYR. Oh ! best of fathers, let me kiss your hands after 
so much kindness. 

LYC. Ah ! how weak a father is for his children ! Can 
we refuse aught to their tender words ? Do we not feel 
some sweet emotions within us, when we reflect that they 
are part of ourselves? 

MYR. But will you keep your given promise ? Tell me 
that you will not change your mind. 

LYC. No. 

MYR. If any one should make you change your feelings, 
have I your leave to disobey you ? Say ! 

LYC. Yes. Ah, Nature ! Nature ! I will go and see 
Mopse, and acquaint him with the love his niece and you 
have for each others. 

MYR. How much I owe to your exceeding kindness. 
{Alone). What happy news to tell M6licerte ! I would not 
accept a crown in exchange for the pleasure of telling her 
this marvellous success that will please her so much. 


ACAN. Ah, Myrtil, the charms which you have received 
from Heaven are the cause of tears in us ; their dawning 
beauty, so fatal to our desires, robs us of the hearts ot 
those we love. 

TYR. May we inquire, Myrtil, which of these two fair 
ones you will choose, of which there is so much talk ? and 
upon which of us two the blow is to fall that shatters all 
our expectant affections? 

ACAN. Do not let two lovers pine any longer. Tell us 
what fate your heart prepares for us. 

TYR. It is better, when one fears such terrible misfor- 
tune, to be killed outright by one blow, than to linger so 

MYR. Let your love resume its calm career, noble shep- 
herds ; the lovely Melicerte has captivated my heart. My 


lot is sweet enough with her not to wish to encroach upon 
you, and if your passions have only mine to fear, neither 
of you will have any cause to complain. 

ACAN. Can it be, Myrtil, that two sad lovers . . . 

TYR. Can it be true that Heaven, giving way to our 
tortures . . . 

MYR. Yes, content with my fetters as with a victory, I 
have declined this choice so full of glory. I have also 
changed my father's wishes, and made him consent to my 

ACAN. (To Tyre ne). Ah! what a charming miraculous 
adventure is this, and what a great obstacle it removes to 
our pursuits ! 

TYR. It may restore these nymphs to our love, and be 
the means of making us both happy. 


NIC. Do you know where Melicerte may be found ? 

MYR. What do you mean ? 

NIC. She is being looked for everywhere. 

MYR. And why ? 

NIC. We shall soon lose this beauty. It is for her that 
the King has come hither ; it is said that he will marry 
her to some great lord. 

MYR. Oh, Heaven ! explain these words, I pray. 

NIC. They are important and mysterious events. Yes, 
the King has come to seek Melicerte in these spots, and 
they say that formerly her mother Belise, of whom all 
Tempe believed Mopse to be the brother . . . But I have 
undertaken to look for her everywhere. You shall know 
all about it by-and bye. 

MYR. Oh, great gods, what a calamity ! He ! Nicandre, 
Nicandre ! 

ACAN. Let us follow him that we may know all. 14 

14 La Grange and Vinot, the editors of the first collected edition of Mo- 
liere's works (1682), and who published for the first time Melicerte, state 
*' this comedy has not been finished ; only these two acts were done when 
the King asked for it. His Majesty having been satisfied with it, for the 
feast where it was represented, M. de Molierehas not finished it.'' 








THE Pastorale Comique was probably represented before the Court on 
the 5th January, 1667 ; it formed part of the Ballet of the Muses, and 
moit likely replaced the unfinished Melicerte when the ballet was again 
given in the beginning of that month. We cannot now discover what 
plan Moliere has followed, or what he intended with the Pastorale Co- 
mique : he himself suppressed or destroyed the manuscript, and we have 
only now the couplets that were sung, and which are preserved in the 
ballet-book and in the musical partition. They show, according to some 
commentators, a violent desire, in Moliere, to deaden his feelings. I con- 
fess that I can see in them only the ordinary words of an operatic libretto. 
We know that our author played the part of Lycas, after he had just been 
ill ; it is possible that his hollow and lean features may intentionally have 
rendered more ridiculous his love declarations. 

I have not thought it necessary to give the names of the dancers, 
singers, musicians, or gipsies, which are stated in the official programme 
of the (easts. We have followed in the headings the collected edition of 
Moliere's works, 1734. 



LYCAS, a rich shepherd in love with Iris. 1 
PHILENE, a rich shepherd in love with Iris. 
CORYDON, a young shepherd, friend of Lycas, in 

love with Iris. 

A HERDSMAN, friend of Philene. 
IRIS, a young shepherdess. 









1 Moliere played this part himself! 





First Entry of the Ballet. 

Two Musicians begin dancing a kind of enchantment to 
beautify Lycas. They strike the ground with their 
wands, whereupon six Demons spring from it, who 
join them. Three more Musicians appear from un- 

THREE MAGICIANS (singing). Goddess of charms, re- 
fuse us not the favour which our lips implore of you. We 
beseech you for it by your ribbons, by your diamond 
buckles, by your paint and powder, by your patches, 
your mask, your head-dress, and your gloves. 

A MAGICIAN (by himself}. O you ! who can beautify 
the plainest faces, deign to spread, O Venus ! two or three 
charitable doses of your charms over this freshly clipped 
snout ! 

THE THREE MAGICIANS (singing). Goddess of charms, 
refuse us not the favour which our lips implore of you. 
We beseech you for it by your ribbons, by your diamond 



buckles, by your paint and powder, by your patches, your 
mask, your head-dress, and your gloves. 

Second Entry of the Ballet. 

The six dancing Demons dress Lycas up in a ridiculous 
and strange fashion. 

THE THREE MAGICIANS (singing). Ah ! how lovely the 
youngster is now ! Ah ! how lovely ! how lovely ! How 
many fair ones he will kill. The most cruel maids will 
jump out of their skin when they approach him. Ah ! 
how lovely the youngster is now. Ah ! how lovely, how 
lovely ! Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho ! 

Third Entry of the Ballet. 

The Magicians and the Demons continue their dancing, 
whilst the three singing Magicians continue to make 
fun of Lycas. 

THREE MAGICIANS (singing). How fair is he ! how 
pretty and polished ! How fair is he ! how fair is he ! 
Are there any eyes that can withstand him ? He is more 
lovely than the late Narcissus, who was a consummate 
beau. How fair is he ! how pretty and polished ! How 
fair is he ! Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi ! 

(The three singing Magicians disappear in the ground, 
and the dancing Magicians exeunt at the sides. 


PHIL, (without perceiving Lycas, sings). Browse, my 
pretty lambs, the sprouting grass. These meadows and 
these brooks have something to charm you. But if you 
wish to live content forever, dear little innocents, beware 
of love. 

LYC. (without perceiving Philene, and wishing to com- 
pose some verses for his mistress, pronounces the name of 
Iris loud enough for Philene to hear if). 

PHIL. Is it you whom I hear, audacious wretch ? Is it 
you who dare pronounce the name of her who holds me 
'neath her sway. 

LYC. Yes, it is I ; yes, it is I. 


PHIL. How dare you in any way profane that lovely 

LYC. Eh, why not? why not? 

PHIL. Iris charms my soul ; and whosoever shall dare 
to indulge in the slightest spark of love for her will repent 
of it. 

LYC. I do not care for that, I do not care for that. 

PHIL. I will strangle and eat you, if ever you name my 
fair. Whatever I say I do I will strangle and eat you. 
It is enough that I have sworn it. Even if the gods take 
your part, I will strangle and eat you, if ever you name 
my fair. 

LYC. Nonsense, nonsense. 



A Cowherd brings Lycas a challenge from Philene, 

his rival. 


PHIL, (sings). Stay wretch ! turn round ; and let us 
see which of us two shall gain the day. 

(Lycas hesitates to fight. 
Enough of chatter; come, you must die. 


The peasants rush in to separate Philene and Lycas. 

Fourth Entry of the Ballet. 

The peasants begin to quarrel among themselves, while 
they are trying to separate the two shepherds, and dance 
while fighting. 


Corydon, by speaking to them, finds means to appease 
the dispute of the peasants. 

Fifth Entry of the Ballet. 
The reconciled peasants dance together. 




Lycas and Philene, the two lovers of the shepherdess, 
press her to decide which of them she prefers. 

PHIL, (to Iris}. Do not expect me to boast about the 
choice regarding which you hesitate; you can see I love 
you; that tells you enough. 

The shepherdess decides in favour of Corydon. 


PHIL. Alas ! can any one feel a more poignant grief? 
A menial shepherd is to us preferred, oh Heavens ! 

LYC. (sings'}. Oh fates ! 

PHIL. What harshness ! 

LYC. What a blow ! 

PHIL. So many tears, 

LYC. And so much perseverance, 

PHIL. Such languor, 

LYC. So much suffering, 

PHIL. Such protestations, 

LYC. And such cares, 

PHIL. Such ardour, 

LYC. So much love, 

PHIL. Are treated with so much disdain this day ! Ah ! 
cruel one ! 

LYC. Hard-hearted fair ! 

PHIL. And tigress too ! 

LYC. Merciless maid ! 

PHIL. Inhuman one ! 

LYC. You stubborn girl ! 

PHIL. Ungrateful one ! 

LYC. Pitiless one ! 

PHIL. You wish to kill us then ? it is well ; we shall 
content you. 

LYC. We shall obey you. 

PHIL, (drawing his javelin). Lycas, let us die. 

LYC. (drawing his javelin). Philene, let us die. 


PHIL. Let us end our sufferings with this steel. 
LYC. Pierce ! 
PHIL. Be firm ! 
LYC. Take courage ! 
PHIL. Come, you first. 
LYC. No, I will be last. 

PHIL. Since the same misfortune this day brings us to- 
gether, let us depart together. 


THE SHEPHERD (sings). What folly to quit life for a 
fair one who rejects us ! We might wish to quit this life 
for a lovely object's sake, whose heart favours us, but to 
die for the fair one who rejects us, is folly ! 


THE GIPSY. Relieve the torment of a poor heart. Of a 
poor heart relieve the suffering. In vain I depict my ar- 
dent flame ; I see you laugh at my repining : Ah ! cruel 
one, I die through so much harshness. Relieve the mar- 
tyrdom of a poor heart ; of a poor heart relieve the suffer- 

Sixth Entry of the Ballet. 

Twelve gipsies, of whom four play the guitar, four the cas- 
tagnettes, four the gnacares^ dance with the gipsy to 
the measure of her song. 

THE GIPSY. Believe me, let us hasten, my Sylvia, and 
profit well by the precious time ; let us here satisfy our 
desires. The passions of our age invite us ; you and I 
could not do better. 

Winter has covered our fields with ice, Spring comes to 
take her place again, and to our pastures gives their charms. 
But when, alas ! old age has chilled us; our happy days 
return no more. 

Let us seek all day naught but what pleases us ; let us 

2 The gnacares were cymbals of small size, and of unequal diameter. 
The Saracens used them on horseback to regulate the march of their 


both be earnest about it ; let pleasures be our business ; 
let us get rid of all our troubles; a time will come when 
we shall have enough of them. 

Winter has covered our fields with ice, Spring comes to 
take her place again, and to our pastures gives their charms. 
But when, alas ! old age has chilled our feelings, our 
happy days return no more. 






FEBRUARY 14x11 (?) 1667. 


TTie Sicilian ; or, Love makes the Painter, was represented, probably on 
the I4th, or the i6th of February 1667, at the palace of Versailles, before 
Louis XIV. and the whole court. It was not placed, like Mellcerte and 
the Pastorale Comique, in the third entry of the Ballet des Muses, but 
formed a fourteenth entry, with the following official heading : " Four- 
teenth entry. After so many different nations which the Muses made to 
appear in the divers assemblies which formed the entertainment which 
they gave to the King, there was nothing wanting but to bring upon the 
stage Turks and Moors ; and that is what they have thought of doing in 
this last entry, with which they have connected a little comedy to give 
scope to the charms of music and dancing, by which they wish to end." 
We give the official libretto of the analysis of The Sicilian, omitting 
only the names of the dancers and singers. The senator of the comedy is 
here called "a Sicilian magistrate." 

Scene ist. tlali, by his master's orders, brings upon the stage three 
Turkish musicians to give a serenade. 

Scene 2d. Adraste asks for the three musicians, and, to oblige Isidore 
to come to the window, lets them sing a scene from a comedy. 

Scene 3d. Don Pedro, in the dark, comes out of the house in a dress- 
ing-gown, to try to discover who gives the serenade. 

Scene 4th. Hali promises his master to invent some trick in order to let 
Isidore know the love which he has for her. 

Scene 5th. Isidore complains to Don Pedro of the precaution he takes 
to bring her everywhere with him. 

Scene 6th. Hali, endeavouring to let Isidore know his master's love, 
cleverly makes use of five Turkish slaves, of whom one sings and 
the four others dance, proposing them to Don Pedro as slaves 
agreeable and capable of amusing him. A Turkish slave sings at 
first, "An impassioned heart follows his beloved object everywhere, 
&c.," by which he pretends to express the passion of Adraste, 
and to make it known to Isidore in the presence of Don Pedro. 
The Turkish slave, after having sung, fearing that Don Pedro 
might understand the meaning of what he had just said, and 
perceive the trick, turns wholly towards Don Pedro, and to amuse 
him, sings in the lingua franca these words, '' Chiribirida houcha 



la, &c.," whereupon the four other Turkish slaves dance. The 
slave, who is a musician, begins again " Chiribirida houcha la, 
&c. ;" then, convinced that Don Pedro suspects nothing, he ad- 
dresses himself to Isidore and sings, " It is a complete martyr- 
dom, &c." As soon as he has finished, always afraid that Don 
Pedro may perteive something, he begins again, " Chiribirida 
houcha la, &c. ;" then the four slaves dance again. At last Don 
Pedro, perceiving the trick, sings in his turn the words, " Do you 
know, you scamp, &c." 1 

Scene yth. Hali informs his master of what he has done, and his master 
communicates to him the stratagem he has planned. 

Scene 8th. Adraste goes to Don Pedro's house to paint the portrait of 

Scene 9th. Hali, disguised as a Sicilian gentleman, comes to ask Don 
Pedro's advice about an affair of honour. 

Scene loth. Isidore commends the politeness of Adraste to Don Pe- 

Scene nth. Zaide comes to throw herself into the arms of Don Pedro, 
so that he might protect her against the pretended anger of 

Scene I2th. Adraste pretends that he wishes to kill Zaide; but at Don 
Pedro's intercession, he moderates his wrath, 

Scene I3th. Don Pedro places Isidore, under the veil of Zaide, in the 
hands of Adraste. 

Scene I4th. Zaide reproaches Don Pedro with his jealousy, and tells 
him that Isidore is no longer in his power. 

Scene i5th. Don Pedro goes to complain before a Sicilian magistrate, 
who only speaks to him about a masquerade of Moors, which 
ends the Comedy and the Ballet. 

The dancing Moors were of three kinds Moors and Moorish girls of 
quality, who were the King, M. le Grand, the Marquesses de Villeroi 
and de Rassan, Madame, Mademoiselle de la ValliSre, Madame de 
Rochefort, and Mademoiselle de Brancas; naked Moors and Maures a 
capots, or Moors with light dresses to imitate skin, who were professional 

This comedy was not given to the public before the loth of June 1667, 
when it was acted for the first time, with the eighteenth representation of 
Attila, a tragedy by P. Corneille. This delay had been caused by an at- 
tack of illness of Moliere. 

In this little comedy, the author has often employed blank verse; and 
that he has done so purposely has clearly been proved. 

John Crowne, in The Country Wit, acted at the Duke's Theatre in 1675, 
has imitated a large portion of the plot, as well as of the language of The 
Sicilian. Crownejs play is said to have been a great favourite with Charles 
II. and also with the public, although the author, in the dedication to the 
Right Honourable Charles, Earl of Middlesex, better known as the Earl of 
Dorset, states that it <l stood firmer than I expected, and withstood the 
battery of a whole party who did me the honour to profess themselves my 
enemies, and made me appear more considerable than ever I thought 
myself, by shewing that no less tha,n a confederacy was necessary to ruin 
my reputation." Both in the prologue and in the dedication, the author 

1 This is the ninth scene of the Comedy. 


sarcastically states that every man thinks himself a wit, and that " city and 
country is with wit o'erflown." Country Wit is rather a good, though a 
very coarse, play. Don Pedro is called Lord Drybone ; Isidore, Betty 
Frisque ; Hali, Merry ; and Adraste, Ramble ; but there is also another 
plot in this comedy, in which Sir Thomas Rash wishes his daughter Chris- 
tina to marry Sir Mannerly Shallow, a foolish country knight. Instead of 
Hali and Pedro quarrelling, as in The Sicilian, Sir Thomas and Lord 
Drybone fight and are seized by the watch ; in the English play, it is also 
Merry, the servant, who advises his master to go to Betty Frisque's house 
as a painter, whilst, in the French comedy, Adraste plans it himself. 
Lady Faddle, Sir Mannerly Shallow, and the porter, Thomas Rash, and 
his wife are not to be found in The Sicilian. The first two characters 
appear to be a reminiscence of Moliere's Countess of Escarbagnas and 
Monsieur de Pourceaugnac , whilst some of the scenes between Rambler 
and his man seem to be freely followed from some in the French author's 
Amphitryon. Crowne's play gives a very peculiar idea of the manners 
and customs of the times in which he wrote. The licentiousness of his 
personages is only equalled by the excessive freedom of language which 
they use ; a language which must have startled some of the audience, even 
in Charles II.'s reign. 

Sir Richard Steele, in The Tender Husband, acted for the first time at 
the Theatre, Drury Lane, 1703, has also imitated the twelfth scene of 
Moliere's play ; but Adraste is there called Captain Clerimont, and Isi- 
dore, simply Niece. I imagine that Sir Richard also took the liberty of 
borrowing from Crowne's Sir Mannerly Shallow and transforming him into 
Humphrey Gubbin. Addison wrote the prologue, and is said to have 
given some assistance in the composition of this play. 

Charles Dibdin also wrote an opera called The Metamorphoses, acted 
at the Haymarket, probably at the end of 1776, but not with much suc- 
cess, and which is borrowed chiefly from Moliere's Sicilian, with one cha- 
racter from George Dandin. Don Pedro wishes to marry his ward Mar- 
cella. Fabio, the servant, assumes, like Hali, various disguises. The 
catastrophe in which Juletta enters, veiled, Don Pedro's house, and asks 
the latter to protect her against Lysander, her husband's wrath, and in 
which Marcella leaves her home muffled in the veil of Juletta, is borrowed 
from The Sicilian ; the booby servant Perer is imitated from George 


DON PEDRO, a Sicilian gentleman* 

ADRASTE, a French gentleman, in love with Isidore* 

ISIDORE, a Greek girl, Don Pedro's slave. 


HALT, a Turk, Adraste's slave. 

ZAIDE, a young slave girl. 



A SLAVE, singing. 

SLAVES, dancing. 


* This part was played by Moliere himself. In the inventory taken 
after Moliere's death, and given by M. E. Soulie" in the Recherches sur 
Moliere, we find : " A dress for The Sicilian, the breeches and cloak of 
violet satin, embroidered with gold and silver, lined with green tabby, the 
skirt of gold-colour watered silk, with sleeves of silver cloth, adorned with 
silver embroideries ; also a night-cap, a wig, and a sword." 




HALT. {To the musicians}. Hush. Do not come any 
farther, and stay where you are until I call you. 

SCENE II. HALT, alone. 

It is as dark as pitch. The sky is dressed like a Scara- 
mouche* this evening, and I do not see a star that shows 
the tip of its nose. What a droll condition is that of a 
slave, never to live for one's self, and always to be entirely 
engrossed by the passions of one's master, to be controlled 
by nothing but his whims, and to see one's self reduced 
to make all his cares one's own concern ! Mine makes 
me here share his anxieties ; and because he is in love, I 

* See Vol. II., page 145, note 4. Let me state, at the same time, that 
Scaramouche was very much liked by Louis XIV., and, when first pre- 
sented, sang a trio with a trained dog and a parrot. In the latter part of 
his life, Scaramouche had the misfortune to marry a coquette ; but the 
King took an interest in the actor's marital misfortunes, and even got his 
minister to write to the Lieutenant-General of Police about her conduct. 
The magistrate threatened her with imprisonment, if she did not lead a 
more moral, sober, and righteous life. 



am forced to lose my rest both day and night. But here 
come some torch-bearers. It is he, no doubt. 4 

SCENE III. ADRASTE, Two SERVANTS, each carrying a 
torch, HALL 

ADR. Is it you, Hali ? 

HALL And who should it be but me ? At this hour of 
the night, except you and me, sir, I do not think that 
anyone takes it into his head to roam the streets now. 

ADR. Nor do I think that anyone can be met who feels 
in his heart the grief that I do. For, after all, it is no- 
thing to have to overcome the indifference or the harsh 
treatment of the fair one, whom one loves; one has always, 
at least, the pleasure of complaining, and the liberty of 
sighing for her. But not to be able to find any opportu- 
nity of speaking to her whom one adores, not to be able to 
learn from the fair one whether the passion which her eyes 
have kindled pleases or displeases her ; that is, in my 
opinion, the most annoying of all anxieties ; and that is 
to what I am reduced by that tiresome, jealous fellow, 
who watches with such care over my charming Greek, and 
who does not stir a step, without dragging her at his side. 

HALL But in love there are various ways of speaking to 
each other ; and it seems to me that your eyes and hers 
have told many things during nearly two months. 

ADR. It is true that she and I have frequently spoken to 
each other through our eyes ; but how to find out if we 

4 We have said in the Introductory Notice, that Moliere has employed 
blank verse in this play. We give below Mali's soliloquy in French, not 
as it is printed in the original, but scanned : 

'' II fait noir comme dans un four, 
Le ciel s'est habille ce soir en Scaramouche, 

Et je ne vois pas une etoile 
Qui montre le bout de son nez. 
Sotte condition que celle d'un esclave, 
De ne vivre jamais pour soi, 
Et d'etre toujours tout entier 
Aux passions d'un maitre . . . 
Le mien me fait ici 
Epouser ses inquietudes ; 
Et, parce qu'il est amoureux 
II faut que nuit et jour je n'aie aucun repos. 
Mais voici des flambeaux, et, sans doute, c'est lui." 


have correctly interpreted this language, on either side ? 
And how do I know, after all, whether she quite under- 
stands everything that my glances tell her, and whether 
hers tell me that which I sometimes fancy they do ? 

HALI. We must find some other mode of speaking with 

ADR. Have you your musicians here? 

HALI. Yes. 

ADR. Tell them to come near. (Alone}. I will make 
them sing here until daybreak, and see whether their 
music will not oblige the fair one to come to one of the 


HALI. Here they are. What shall they sing? 

ADR. What they think best 

HALI. They must sing the trio that they sung to me the 
other day. 

ADR. No. That is not what I want. 

HALI. Ah ! sir, it is in that beautiful natural. 

ADR. What the deuce do you mean by that beautiful 
natural ? 

HALI. Sir, I am fond of the natural. You know that I 
am a judge. I love the natural; without the natural, 
there is no salvation in harmony. Just listen for a little 
to this trio. 

ADR. No, I wish something tender and impassioned ; 
something that will lull me as in a sweet dream. 

HALI. I see that you prefer the flat ; 6 but there is a way 
of satisfying us both. They shall sing a certain scene of 
a little comedy that I have heard them attempt. Two 
shepherds, in love, quite full of languor, separately come 
into a grove to make their complaints in a flat ; they con- 
fide to each other the cruelty of their mistresses ; then 
comes a jovial shepherd with an admirable natural, who 
laughs at their weakness. 

ADR. Very well. Let us hear what it is. 

HALI. Here is just the very spot to serve as a stage ; 
and here are two torches to throw a light upon the play. 

6 The French for a natural is becarre, and for a flat bemoL 


ADR. Place yourself against this house, so that at the 
slightest noise inside, we may extinguish the lights. 



FIRST MUSICIAN (who represents Philene). If with the 
sorrowful tale of my grief I disturb the quiet of your soli- 
tude, do not be angry, O rocks. Rocks, though you are, 
you will be touched, when you know the excess of my 
hidden anguish. 

SECOND MUSICIAN (who represents Tirris}. The glad- 
some birds, when day begins to break, renew their song 
in these vast forests ; and I renew my languishing sighs, 
and my sad regrets. Ah ! dear Philene. 

PHIL. Ah ! dear Tircis ! 

TIR. What grief I feel ! 

PHIL. What cares I have ! 

TIR. Ever deaf to my sighs is the ungrateful Climene. 

PHIL. Chloris has no sweet looks for me. 

BOTH TOGETHER. O too inhuman law ! If you cannot 
compel them to love, O Cupid ! why do you leave them 
the power of charming? 


THIRD MUSICIAN (who represents a shepherdT). Poor 
lovers, what a mistake to adore merciless creatures ! Sen- 
sible minds ought never to bear with harsh treatment; 
and favors are the chains which ought to bind our hearts. 
Here are a hundred fair ones to whom I hasten to offer 
my tender cares; it is my greatest delight. But when 
they act like tigresses, upon my word I become a tiger 

PHIL. AND TIR. (Together). Happy, alas ! are they 
who can love thus. 

HALI. Sir, I just heard some noise inside. 

ADR. Be off quickly, and extinguish the torches. 



DON P. (In a night-cap and a dressing-gown, with a 
sword under his arm, coming out of his house). I have 
noticed this singing going on for some time at my door ; 
and no doubt this is not done for nothing. I must try to 
discover in the dark who these people can be. 

ADR. Hali. 

HALI. What is it ? 

ADR. Do you no longer hear anything ? 

HALI. No. (Don Pedro is behind them, listening). 

ADR. What ! are all our efforts to speak for one moment 
with this pretty Greek in vain ; and shall this cursed jeal- 
ous fellow, this wretched Sicilian, for ever bar all access 
to her? 

HALI. I wish with all my heart that the devil had taken 
him for the trouble he gives us, the tiresome fellow, the 
hangdog that he is. Ah ! if we only had him here, how 
delighted should I be to avenge upon his back all the 
fruitless steps which his jealousy causes us. 

ADR. We must, for all that, find some means, some 
trick, some stratagem, to catch our brute. I am too far 
advanced to be baffled now ; and although I should have 
to use . . . 

HALI. I do not know what this means, but the door is 
open, Sir ; and, if you like, I will go in softly and find 
out what is the cause of this. 

(Don Pedro goes back to his door. 

ADR. Yes, do so ; but do not make a noise. I shall 
not be far away. Would to Heaven it were the charming 
Isidore ! 

DON P. {Giving Hali a slap in the face). Who goes 
there ? 

HALT. {Doing the same to Don Pedro). A friend. 

DON P. Hullo ! Francisque, Dominique, Simon, Martin 
Pierre, Thomas, Georges, Charles, Barthelemy. Come, 
look sharp, my sword, my buckler, my halberd, my pistols, 
my blunderbusses, my guns. Quick, make haste. Here, 
kill and slay, give no quarter. 

ADR. I hear not a soul stir. Hali, Hali ! 


HALI. (Hid in a corner). Sir ? 

ADR. Where are you hiding yourself? 

HALI. Have these people come out ? 

ADR. No. No one is stirring. 

HALI. {Coming out of his corner). If they do come, 
they shall have a drubbing. 

ADR. What ! Shall all our trouble be for nothing ? 
Shall this tiresome, jealous fellow always laugh at our 
attempts ? 

HALL No. I get angry, and my honour is at stake; it 
shall not be said that anyone has outwitted me. My 
reputation as a rogue disdains all these obstacles ; and 
I am determined to show the talents that Heaven has 
given me. 

ADR. I only wish her, by some means, by some note, 
by some voice, to be informed of my feelings towards her, 
and in return, to know hers upon the subject. After that, 
we can easily find some means . . . 

HALI. Only let me manage it. I shall try so many sorts 
of things, that, something or other, in short, may suc- 
ceed. Come, day breaks ; I shall go and fetch my men, 
and wait here, until our jealous fellow goes out. 


ISID. I do not know what pleasure you can have in 
waking me so early. It agrees badly, I think, with your 
intention of having my portrait painted to-day. You can 
hardly expect me to have a fresh complexion and sparkling 
eyes by making me get up at break of day. 

DON P. Some business compels me to go out at this 

ISID. But this business can be very well transacted, I 
believe, without my presence ; and you might, without 
incommoding yourself, have allowed me to taste the 
sweets of the morning's slumber. 

DON P. Yes. But I am very glad of having you always 
with me. It is as well to be on one's guard a little against 
those vigilant swains ; and not later than last night, people 
came and sang under our windows. 

ISID. That is true. The music was charming. 

DON P. It was intended for you ? 


ISID. I must believe so, since you say so. 

DON P. Do you know who gave this serenade ? 

ISID. I do not ; but, whoever he was, I am obliged to him. 

DON P. Obliged? 

ISID. Undoubtedly, since he seeks to amuse me. 

DON P. You think it right, then, that people love 

ISID. Decidedly. There is never anything offensive in 

DON P. And you wish well to all who take that trouble? 

ISID. Certainly. 

DON P. You say pretty plainly what you think. 

ISID. What is the good of dissimulating? Whatever 
we may pretend, we are always well pleased to be loved. 
This homage to our charms is never disagreeable to us. 
Whatever we may say, believe me, the great ambition of 
women is to inspire love. All the cares they bestow upon 
themselves are for that only; and the proudest inwardly 
applauds herself for the conquests which her eyes make. 

DON P. But if you take so much pleasure in being be- 
loved, do you know that I, who love you, do not take 
any in it? 

ISID. I do not know why this should be, and if I 
loved any one, I should have no greater pleasure than see- 
ing her beloved by everyone. Is there anything which 
marks more plainly the beauty of one's choice? and ought 
we not to congratulate ourselves in thinking that what we 
love is found very loveable? 

DON P. Each one loves in his own peculiar fashion, and 
this is not my way. I should be very delighted if people 
did not think you so beautiful, and you will oblige me by 
not trying to appear so in other people's eyes. 

ISID. What ! are you jealous of these things ? 

DON P. Yes, jealous of these things ; but as jealous as 
& tiger, or, if you like it better, as a devil. My love 
claims you all for itself. Its delicacy is offended at a 
smile, at a glance which may be drawn from you ; and all 
the precautions which I take are only to bar every access 
to those admirers, and to assure myself of the possession 
of a heart, the slightest part of which I cannot bear to 
be robbed of. 


ISID. In good truth, shall I tell you? you enter upon a 
wrong path ; and a possession of a heart is but badly 
secured, if it is to be retained by force. As for me, I 
admit candidly, that were I the admirer of a woman who 
was in some one's power, I would study everything to 
make that other person jealous, and to compel him to 
watch night and day over her whom I should like to win. 
It is an admirable way to forward our wishes, and people 
are never very long in profiting by the spite and anger 
which restraint and servitude awake in the breast of a 

DON P. At this rate, if any one made love to you, he 
would find you disposed to receive his addresses? 

ISID. I will say nothing about that. But, in short, 
women do not like to be restrained ; and it is running a 
great risk to show them your suspicions, and to keep them 

DON P. You but little acknowledge what you owe me ; 
and it seems to me that a slave, to whom I have given her 
freedom, and whom I wish to make my wife. . . . 

ISID. Where is the obligation, if you but change one 
slavery into another more severe still, and if you do not 
allow me to enjoy the least freedom, and tire me, as you 
do, with continual watching? 

DON P. But all this proceeds but from an excess of 

ISID. If that is your way of loving, I beseech you to 
hate me. 

DON P. You are in a pettish humour to-day ; and I for- 
give you your words on account of the annoyance which 
you may feel at having risen so early. 

Turk, bowing repeatedly to Don Pedro). 

DON P. A truce to these ceremonies. What do you 

HALI. (Placing himself between Don Pedro and Isidore, 
At each word which he speaks to Don Pedro he turns to 
Isidore, and makes signs to her to let her understand the 
designs of his master). Signor (with the Signora's leave), 
I will tell you (with the signora's leave), that I have come 


to see you (with the signora's leave), to ask you (with the 
signora's leave), to have the kindness (with the signora's 
leave). . . . 

DON P. With the signora's leave, come a little on this 
side. {Don Pedro places himself between Isidore and 

HALI. I am a virtuoso, 6 signer. 

DON P. I have nothing to give away. 

HALI. I am not asking for anything. But as I meddle 
a little with music and dancing, I have taught some slaves, 
who would be glad to find a master who takes a delight in 
these things ; and knowing that you are a gentleman of 
some importance, I have come to ask you to look at them 
and to listen to them, to buy them if they please you, or 
to recommend them to one of your friends, who might 
be willing to engage them. 

ISID. We might see their performance ; it will amuse 
us. Fetch them hither. 

HALI. Chala, bala. That is a new song, the latest out. 
Listen well. Chala, bala. 


A SLAVE. (Singing to Isidore). A lover with an impas- 
sioned heart follows its beloved object everywhere ; but 
the eternal watchfulness of an odious jealousy prevents him 
speaking to her except by his eyes. Can there be aught 
more painful to a heart in love? 7 (To Don Pedro). Chiri- 
birida ouch alia, Star bon Turca, Non aver danara. Ti 
voler comprara? Mi servir a ti, Se pagar per mi; Far 
bona cucina, Mi levar matin a, Far boiler caldara ; Parlara, 
parlara, Ti voler comprara? 8 

' Moliere was the first to employ the word virtuose as a French noun, 
though Madame de Motteville had already used it in its Italian form. 

7 The ballet-book, which is given in the Introductory Notice, mentions 
here some indications of stage play, which are very useful for the better 
understanding of this scene. 

8 This couplet is in lingua, franca, and with the exception of the first 
line, too free to be translated, is as follows : I am a good Turk, I have no 
money. Will you buy me ? I shall serve you, if you pay for me. I 
shall do good cooking, I shall rise early, I shall make the pot boil. 
Speak, speak, will you buy me ? 


First Entry of the Ballet. 

Dance of the Slaves. 

A SLAVE. (Singing to Isidore). It is a complete torture 
under which this lover expires ; but if the fair one will 
only look upon his martyrdom with a gentle eye, and con- 
sent that he may sigh for her charms in the eyes of the 
whole world, then he may soon laugh at all the precau- 
tions of jealousy. (To Don Pedro). Chiribirida ouch 
alia, Star bon Turca, Non aver danara ; Ti voler compra- 
ra? Mi servir a ti, Se pagar per mi ; Far bona cucina, 
Me levar matina, Far boiler caldara; Parlara, parlara, Ti 
voler comprara ? 

Second Entry of the Ballet. 
The Slaves recommence dancing. 

DON. P. (Sings); Do you know, you scamps, that this 
song smells of stick for your backs ? Chiribirida ouch 
alia, Mi ti non comprara, Ma ti bastonara, Si ti non 
andara ; Andara, andara, O ti bastonara. 9 

Oh! oh! what merry sparks! (To Isidore). Come, 
let us go in again : I have changed my mind ; and more- 
over, the weather looks rather threatening. (To Hali, 
who comes back). Ah ! you rogue ! let me catch you at 
it again ! 

HALT. Well ! yes, my master adores her. He has no 
greater desire than to show her his love ; and, if she con- 
sents to it, to take her for his wife. 

DON P. Yes, yes, I will keep her for him. 

HALT. We shall get her in spite of you. 

DON P. What do you mean, you scoundrel . . . 

HALI. We shall get her, I tell you, in spite of your 

DON P. If I take . . . 

HALI. You may watch as much as you like. She shall 
"be ours ; I have sworn it. 

DON P. Leave me alone, I shall catch you without fa- 
tiguing myself. 

9 The meaning of these words, which are also in lingua franca, is : I 
will not buy you, but I will give you a cudgelling, if you do not go away. 
Go away, go away, or I will give you a cudgelling. 


HALI. It is we who will catch you. She shall be our 
wife ; OUT mind is made up. (Alone]. I must accom- 
plish it, or perish in the attempt. 


ADR. Well, Hali, are our affairs improving? 

HALI. I have already made some little attempt, sir; but 
I ... 

ADR. Do not trouble yourself about it ; I have found, 
by accident, all that I wish; and I shall enjoy the happi- 
ness of seeing this fair one in her own house. I happened 
to be at Damon's, the artist, who told me that he had to 
go to-day to paint the portrait of this charming creature; 
and as we are intimate friends of long standing, he wishes 
to serve my flame, and sends me, in his place, with a few 
words of introduction. You know that I was always fond 
of painting, and that I, sometimes handle the brush myself, 
much against the French custom, which forbids a nobleman 
to know how to do anything ; 10 so shall I have the liberty 
of seeing this fair one at my ease. But I do not doubt 
that my jealous bore will always be there, and prevent 
any conversation between us ; and, to tell you the truth, I 
have, by the aid of a young slave girl, prepared a stratagem 
to get this fair Greek out of the hands of her tormentor, 
if I can prevail with her to consent to it. 

HALI. Leave it to me; I will put you in the way to 
converse with her. ( Whispers to Adraste). It shall not 
be said that I count for nothing in this affair. When are 
you going there? 

ADR. This very minute ; I have already prepared every- 

HALI. And I am going, on my part, to prepare myself. 

ADR. I will lose no time. Hullo ! I will not delay the 
pleasure of seeing her. 11 

10 Several great writers of the age of Louis XVI. have made fun of this 
privilege of idleness, which many of the French nobles thought to belong 
to them. 

11 When The Sicilian is performed in the present day, the scene changes 
to the interior of Don Pedro's house. 



DON P. For whom are you looking in this house sir? 

ADR. I am looking for Don Pedro. 

DON P. He stands before you. 

ADR. He will take the trouble to read this letter, if it 
it please him, 

DON P. I send you, instead of myself, for the portrait in 
question, this French gentleman, who, anxious to oblige, has 
been good enough to undertake this task at my wish. He is 
unquestionably, the first man in the world for this sort of 
work, and I thought that I could do you no more agreeable 
service than to send him to you, since you intend to have a, 
finished portrait of the person whom you love. But, above 
all, take care not to speak to him about any remuneration; 
for he would be offended at it, and does these things only for 
the sake of fame and reputation. Sir Frenchman, you in- 
tend doing me a great favour, and I am very much obliged 
to you. 

ADR. All my ambition is to oblige people of standing 
and merit. 

DON P. I will call the person in question. 


DON P. {To Isidore). This is a gentleman whom Damon 
sends us, and who will be kind enough to undertake your 
portrait. ( To Adraste, who, in saluting Isidore, embraces 
her). Hullo ! Sir Frenchman, this way of saluting is not 
the fashion in this country. 

ADR. It is the fashion of France. 

DON P. The fashion of France may suit your ladies ; 
but for ours, it is somewhat too familiar. 

ISID. I accept this honour with much pleasure. The 
adventure surprises me immensely ; and, to tell the truth 
I did not expect to have such an illustrious painter. 

ADR. There is no one, doubtless, who would not think 
it an honour to engage on such a work. I have no great 
talent ; but, in this case, the subject provides more than 
enough in itself, and we can do something beautiful with 
such an original to work from. 


Ism. The original is but little to speak of; but the 
skill of the painter will be able to hide its defects. 

ADR. The painter cannot perceive any ; and all that he 
wishes is to be able to represent its charms to the world's 
eyes in the same perfection as he sees them. 

ISID. If your brush flatter as much as your tongue, you 
will paint a portrait which will not be at all like me. 

ADR. Heaven, who made the original, has prevented us 
from making a portrait of it that could be flattering. 

ISID. Whatever you may say, Heaven has not . . . 

DON P. Let us finish this, pray. Let us leave com- 
pliments, and think about the portrait. 

ADR. (7<? the servants}. Come, bring my things. 
{They bring the necessary painting implements}. 

ISID. {To Adraste}. Where shall I sit? 

ADR. Here. This is the right spot, and catches best the 
precise light we want. 

ISID. (After sitting down). Am I right thus ? 

ADR. Yes. Hold yourself up a little. A little more 
that way. Your body turned thus. You head raised a 
little, to show the beauty of the throat. This a little 
more open. (He uncovers her neck a little more}. That is 
it. There, a little more ; just another shade. 

DON P. (To Isidore}. What a fuss to put you right; 
cannot you sit properly? 

ISID. These things are altogether new to me ; and it is 
for this gentleman to place me as he likes. 

ADR. (Seated}. There, it could not be better, and you 
sit admirably. (Turning her a little towards him}. Like 
this if you please. The whole depends upon the attitude 
which we give to the people we paint. 

DON P. Very good. 

ADR. A little more this way. Your eyes turned to- 
wards me, I pray ; your looks fixed on mine. 

ISID. I am not like those ladies, who, having theii 
portraits painted, wish them to be unlike themselves, and 
are not satisfied with the painter unless he makes them 
more lovely than the day. To content them, one ought 
to make but one picture for them all; for they all ask for 
the same thing, a complexion entirely of lilies and roses, 
a well shaped nose, a small mouth, and large sparkling 


eyes ; and, above all, the face no larger than a hand, even 
if they have one a foot wide. As for me, I ask you for a 
portrait that is like me, and which shall not compel people 
to ask whose it is. 

ADR. It would be difficult to have it asked of yours ; 
and your features are very unlike those of others. How 
sweet and charming they are, and how much risk there is 
in painting them ! 

DON P. The nose seems to me a little too large. 

ADR. I have read, I know not where, that Apelles, of 
old, painted a mistress of Alexander, so marvellously 
beautiful, that, while painting, he became so hopelessly 
enamoured of her, that it nearly cost him his life; had not 
Alexander, out of generosity, ceded to him the object of 
his love. (To Don Pedro?) I might do the same here as 
Apelles did of old; but you would not do the same perhaps, 
as Alexander. ( Don Pedro makes a grimace. 

ISID. (To Don Pedro). This is like all those of his 
nationality. These French gentlemen have always such 
a stock of gallantry that they scatter it everywhere. 

ADR. One is seldom mistaken in this sort of thing, and 
you have too much good sense not to see whence come 
the words which one says to you. Yes, were Alexander 
present, and your lover, I could not help telling you that 
I have never beheld aught so beautiful as what I see now, 
and that . . . 

DON P. Sir Frenchman, I think you ought not to talk 
so much ; it takes your attention from your work. 

ADR. Ah ! Not at all. I am in the habit of talking 
when I paint, and a little conversation is necessary in 
these cases to wake up the mind, and to keep the faces of 
those we paint in the requisite gay mood. 

SCENE XIII. HALT disguised as a Spanish gentleman. " 

DON P. What does this man want? And who lets 
people walk up without announcing them ? 

HALT. (To Don Pedro}. I have entered boldly; but 

11 In the ballet, Hali is dressed as a Sicilian gentleman ; but here, as a 
Spanish one. Hence his Castilian name, Don Gilles d'Avalos. 


between gentlemen, such freedom is allowed. Sir, am I 
known to you? 

DON P. No, Sir. 

HALI. I am Don Gilles d'Avalos; and the history of 
Spain must have made you acquainted with my merit. 

DON P. Do you wish anything from me? 

HALI. Yes, advice upon an affair of honour. I know 
that it would be difficult to find a gentleman more perfect 
in these matters than you ; but I must beg of you as a 
favour to draw a little aside. 

DON P. This will be fair enough. 

ADR. To Don Pedro, who catches him whispering to 
Isidore). She has blue eyes. 

HALI. {Drawing Don Pedro away from Adraste and 
Isidore). Sir, I have received a slap in the face. You 
know what a slap is, ls when it is given with an open hand, 
in the very middle of the cheek. I take this slap much to 
heart ; and I am uncertain whether to avenge the insult, 
I ought to fight my man, or rather to have him assassi- 

DON P. Assassinated ; that is the surest and quickest 
way. Who is your enemy? 

HALI. Let us speak low, if you please. 

(Halt holds Don Pedro, while speaking to him in such a 
manner that he cannot see Adraste. 

ADR. (At Isidore's knees, while Halt and Don Pedro 
whisper together). Yes, charming Isidore, my looks have 
told you as much for the last two months, and you have 
understood them. I love you more than aught else, and 
I have no other thought, no other aim, no other passion, 
than to be yours all my life. 

Ism. I do not know whether you speak the truth ; but 
you make me believe you. 

ADR. But do I make you believe me sufficiently to 
inspire you with ever so little kindness towards myself? 

ISID. I only fear I have too much. 

ADR. Have you enough, fair Isidore, to consent to the 
plan of which I have told you ? 

ISID. I cannot tell you yet. 

11 Hali has given a slap in the face to Don Pedro in the fifth scene. 


ADR. What are you waiting for? 

ISID. To make up my mind. 

ADR. Ah ! when people love with all their hearts, they 
make up their minds quickly. 

ISID. Very well then ! yes, I consent to it. 

ADR. But do you consent, tell me, that it be this very 

ISID. Very well then ; yes, I consent to it. 

ADR. But do you consent, tell me, that it be this very 
moment ? 

ISID. When once our mind is made up about a thing, 
do we consider the time ? 

DON PED. (To Hali). This is my opinion, and I kiss 
your hands. 

HALI. Sir if you ever receive a slap in the face, I am 
also a man of counsel; and I may be able to return the 

DON P. You will pardon me for not seeing you to the 
door; but, between gentlemen, such freedom is allowed. 

ADR. (To Isidore*). No, there is nothing that could 
efface from my heart the tender proofs . . . (To Don 
Pedro, who perceives him speaking very closely to Isidore). 
I was looking at this little dimple which she has got at the 
side of her chin, and I thought at first that it was a mole. 
But we have done enough for to-day ; we will finish at an- 
other time. (To Don Pedro, who wishes to see the portrait). 
No, do not look at anything yet. Have it carefully put 
aside, I pray ; (To Isidore), and you, I beseech you, not to 
give way, and to keep your spirits up, in order that I may 
finish my work. 

ISID. I shall reserve all the gaiety I can for this. " 

ISID. What say you ? This gentleman seems to me the 
most polite in the world ; and one must admit that the French 

14 One of the most usual contrivances on the stage to see a lover dis- 
guising himself in order to get an opportunity of speaking with the object 
of his love. Moliere has employed it four times. In this play Adraste is 
a painter ; in Love is the best Doctor, Clitandre is a physician ; in The 
Physician in spite of himself , Leander is an apothecary ; and in Le Malade 
Imaginaire (see Vol. III.), Cldante is a music master. 


have in them something so polished, so gallant, which 
other nations have not. 

DON P. Yes ; but they have that against them that they 
are somewhat too free, and that, madcap-like, they are 
too fond of whispering sweet nothings to every woman 
whom they meet. 

Ism. It is because they know that those things please 
the ladies. 

DON P. True ; but if they please the ladies, they very 
much displease the gentlemen ; and one is not very glad 
to see one's wife or mistress openly courted to one's very 

ISID. They do so only in sport. 


ZAI. Ah, Sir, save me, I beseech you, from the hands 
of an enraged husband who is close upon my heels. His 
jealousy is incredible, and surpasses in its violence every- 
thing imaginable. He carries it so far as to wish me 
to be always veiled ; and for having found me with my 
face a little uncovered he has drawn his sword, and he has 
. compelled me to throw myself upon you, and to ask for 
your protection against his injustice. But I see him com- 
ing ; for heaven's sake, honoured Sir, save me from his fury. 
DON P. (To Zaide, pointing to Isidore). Go in there 
with her, and fear nothing. 


DON P. What, sir, is it you ? So much jealousy in a 
Frenchman. I fancied that only we were capable of such 
a thing. 

ADR. The French always excel in everything they 
do ; and, when we take it into our heads to be jealous, 
we are twenty times more so than a Sicilian. This in- 
famous girl thinks to have found a safe refuge with you ; 
but you are too sensible to blame my resentment. Allow 
me, I pray you, to treat her as she deserves. 

DON P. Ah ! for pity's sake, stop. The offence is too 
trifling for so much anger. 

ADR. The extent of the offence lies not in the import- 
ance of the deed : it is in the transgression of the given 


orders ; and in such matters that which is only a trifle 
becomes very criminal when it is forbidden. 

DON P. To judge by what she has said, all that she has 
done was unintentional ; and I pray you to be reconciled. 

ADR. What ! you take her part, you who are so par- 
ticular in matters of that kind. 

DON P. Yes, I take her part ; and if you would oblige 
me, you will forget your anger, and be reconciled to each 
other. It is a favour which I ask of you, and I shall look 
upon it as an earnest of the friendship which I should like 
to subsist between us. 

ADR. Under these conditions, I can refuse you nothing. 
I will do as you wish. 

a corner of the stage. 

DON P. (To Zaide~]. Come along, I say. Only follow 
me, I have made your peace. You could not have fallen 
into better hands. 

ZAI. I am much more obliged to you than you think ; 
but I shall take my veil ; I shall take care not to appear 
before him without it. 


DON P. She will be here directly; and I assure you 
that she seemed very glad when I told her that I had 
made it all right. 

SCENE XIX. ISIDORE, with Zaide' s veil, ADRASTE, 

DON P. Since you have consented to forego your re- 
sentment, allow me to make you shake hands together 
here ; and to beg of you to live henceforth, for my sake, 
in a perfect understanding. 

ADR. Yes, I promise you, that for your sake, I shall 
live on the best possible terms with her. 

DON P. You oblige me greatly, and I shall bear it in 

ADR. I give you my word, Don Pedro, that out of con- 


sideratiou for you, I shall treat her with the utmost pos- 
sible kindness. 

DON P. You are really too kir.d. (Alone). It does one 
good to make matters pleasant and peaceful. Hullo, 
Isidore, come. 


DON P. What is this ! What means this ? 

ZAI. ( Without her veil*). What means this ? That a 
jealous man is a monster hated by all the world ; and that 
everyone delights to annoy him for annoyance' sake ; that 
all the locks and bolts cannot keep people : and that the 
heart must be won by gentleness and kindness ; that Isidore 
is in the hands of a gentleman whom she loves, and that 
you have been duped. 

DON P. And shall Don Pedro suffer this mortal insult ! 
No, no, I have too much courage ; and I shall go and de- 
mand the assistance of the authorities to punish this 
perfidy to the utmost. 15 Here lives a senator. Hullo ! 


SEN. Your servant, Don Pedro. How opportunely you 
come ! 

DON P. I come to complain to you of an insult which 
I have suffered. 

SEN. I have just arranged the most beautiful masquerade 
in the world. 

DON P. A treacherous Frenchman has played me a trick. 

SEN. You have never, in all your life, seen anything so 

DON P. He has abducted a girl to whom I had given 
her freedom. 

SEN. They are people dressed like Moors, who dance 

DON P. You may judge whether this is an insult which 
I ought to bear. 

SEN. Most marvellous dresses, made expressly. 

16 If a ballet ends this play, the stage changes here again to the market- 
place of the first scene. But when there is no ballet, the piece ends here. 


DON P. I demand the assistance of the authorities in 
this matter. 

SEN. I wish you to see this. They are going to rehearse 
it to amuse the people. 

DON P. What are you talking about? 

SEN. I am speaking about rny masquerade. 

DON P. I am speaking of my affair. 

SEN. I will not occupy myself about any matter, except 
pleasure, to-day. Come, gentlemen, come. Let us see 
whether it will go all right. 

DON P. Plague take the fool, with his masquerade ! 

SEN. The deuce take the bore, with his affair ! 

Entry of the Ballet. 

Several dancers, dressed as Moros, dance before the 
Senator, and finish the comedy. 






AUGUST 5th, 1667. 


HYPOCRISY has at all times been a legitimate subject of satire io 
modern society. In classical literature, such a vice seems to have been 
unknown ; for it can develop itself only in the midst of a society based, 
or pretending to be based, upon religion. Wherever indifference in mat- 
ters of religion existed among the ancients, the hypocrite must have been 
rare ; for his outward adornment of wise and moral saws could have been 
of no service to him. But as soon as religion became part and parcel of 
the State policy, men found it convenient and profitable to shelter their 
vices under a cloak of outward decorum, and tried to make the best of 
both worlds : but, above all, of this one. Literary men were not slow in 
describing this new character ; and from the middle ages down to the 
present time, in all climes and in all countries, the hypocrite appears on 
the scene. He plays the principal part in the Fabliaux ; and whether as 
an incontinent hermit, a lecherous chaplain, an intriguing monk, or a 
faithless confessor, he is always described in bold, but rather coarse, 
strokes, and gets generally punished and jeered at in the end. We find 
him in some of the early German satirical poems ; and in the latter part 
of the epic, Reynard the Fox. Rutebeuf, a trouvere of the thirteenth 
century, gives us, in the Chanson des Ordres, the portrait of a Pharisee, 
who seems an ancestor of Tartuffe, and who goes about in a large plain 
woollen gown, with a thin and pale face, austere mien and words, and 
who has the ambition of a lion, the claws of a leopard, and the malice of 
a scorpion. 

In the continuation of The Romaunt of the Rose, by Jean de Meung, 
appears Faux Semblaunt, an ancestor of Tartuffe, whom Chaucer, in his 
translation, makes speak as follows : 

" Now am I knight, now chastelaine, 
Now prelate, and now chaplaine, 
Now priest, now clerke, now fostere, 
Now am I master, now schollere. 
Now monke, now chanon, now baity, 
What ever mister man am I .... 
Well can I beare me under wede. 
Unlike is my word to my dede. 

6 9 


The conversation between Love and Faux Semblaunt is also from the 
same Romaunt, and shows the perfect hypocrite. 

" Tell forth, and shame thee never adele, 

For as thine habit sheweth wele, 

Thouservest an holy hermite." 
" Sooth is, but I am but an hypocrite, 

Thou goest and preachest poverte ?" 
" Yea, sir, but Richesse hath poste, 

Thou preachest abstinence also?" 
" Sir, I woll fillen, so mote I go, 

My paunche of good meat and wine 

As should a maister of divine, 

For how that I me poore fame, 

Yet all poore folke I disdaine." 

Boccaccio, in his Decameron, describes several times the hypocrite, and 
Machiavelli, in his play, the Mandragore, acted in 1515 before the Pope 
and his Court, sketches a monkish pander, who lays down, in rather broad 
language, the maxim that the intentions of a man are everything, and that 
his actions are nothing. 

About the same time, there was played in France la Farce des Brus, in 
which friar Ancelot and friar Anselme are still more cynical than their 
prototype, friar Timoteo. . In the Satyr e Menippee, the hypocrite also ap- 
pears, but full of sedition, and warlike. Mathurin Regnier describes, in 
the eighteenth of his Satires, Macette, a hypocritical lady, in the follow- 
ing words : " Night and day she goes from convent to convent, visits the 

holy places, confesses herself often She dwells and lives apart 

from the world ; her penitent eyes weep only holy water." Such is her 
portrait : but this is what she herself says : " That is why I disguise the 
up-wellings of my heart, envelop my ardour in sackcloth and ashes, and 
hide my purpose, which is to abandon myself to pleasures. A concealed 
sin is half forgiven ; the fault does not lie only in its being forbidden, but 
scandal and disgrace are the causes of the offence. Provided it be not 
known, no matter how, as long as we can deny it, we sin not at all. 
Moreover, the goodness of Heaven is greater than our offences, and pro- 
vided we confess, we are always pardoned." The portrait is more odious, 
but is not very unlike Tartuffe, 

In Pascal's Provinciates, the Jesuitical hypocrite is also well described. 
All this tends to prove that of Tartuffe can be said what may be stated 
of all masterpieces of the human intellect, that it is the most finished and 
best expressed result of a series of more or less complete ideas, which, 
for ages, men have attempted to shape into a certain form. 

Moliere evidently owes something to a tragi-comic tale of Scarron, 
called The Hypocrites. In this tale, the author relates how a certain ad- 
venturer, called Montufar, and two queans, the younger of whom was 
named Helen, and the older Mendez, resolved to take advantage of the 
credulity of the inhabitants of Seville, by pretending to be devout. 

" They alighted within a league of the city, and having satisfied the muleteer, 
got thither about the dusk of the evening, and took up their lodgings at the first inn 
they found. Montufar hired a house, furnished it with very ordinary furniture, 
and dressed himself all in black, with a cassock and cloak of the same colour. 
Helen assumed the habit of a religious sister, that had devoted herself to pious 
works, and Mendez went dressed like a saint, valuing herself upon her hoary locks, 
and a huge monstrous chaplet, each bead of which was big enough to load a demi- 
culverin. The very next day after their arrival, Montufar showed himself in the 
street, apparelled as I have already described him, marching with his arms across, 


and looking on the ground whenever he met any woman. He cried out, with a 
voice shrill enough to have rent a rock, ' Blessed be the holy sacrament of the altar, 
and the thrice happy conception of the immaculate virgin ! ' and uttered many more 
devout exclamations with the same everlasting lungs of leather. He made the 
children whom he met in the streets repeat the same words after him ; and more- 
over, assembled them sometimes together, to teach them to sing hymns and songs 
of devotion, and to instruct them in their Catechism. He repaired to the gaols and 
preached to the prisoners, comforting some and relieving others, begging victuals 
and other provisions for them, and frequently walking with a heavy basket upon his 
back. O, detestable villain ! thou wantedst nothing but to set up for a hypocrite, 
to be the most profligate accompllsh'd rascal in the Universe. These actions of 
virtue, in a fellow that was the least virtuous of mankind, procur'd him in a little 
time the reputation of a saint. Helen and Mendez likewise did all that in them 
lay to deserve canonization. The one called herself the mother, the other the sis- 
ter of the thrice blessed Friar Martin. They went every day to the hospitals, 
where they assisted the sick, made their beds, washed their linen, and did all this 
at their own expense. By these means the most vicious people in Spain obtained 
the universal admiration of all Seville. About this time, a gentleman of Madrid 
happened to come thither about some private affairs ; he had formerly been one 
of Helen's lovers, for women of this character have commonly more than one string 
to their bow. He knew Mendez to be a notorious cheat, and Montufar to be no 
better. One day as they came out of church, encompassed by a great number of 
persons, who kissed their very garments, and conjur'd them to remember them in 
their prayers, they were known by the aforesaid gentleman ; who, burning with a 
Christian zeal, and not able to suffer three such notorious impostors to abuse the 
credulity of the whole city, broke through the crowd, and giving a hearty box on 
the ear to Montufar, ' You wicked cheat,' cried he, ' do you neither fear God nor 
man?' He would have said more, but his good intention, which in truth was some- 
what of the rashes t, had not the success it deserved; all the people fell on him 
whom they believed to have committed sacrilege, in offering this violence to their 
saint. He was beaten to the ground, and had certainly been torn to pieces by the 
mob, had not Montufar, by a wonderful presence of mind, undertaken his protection 
by covering him with his body, keeping off those that were most enraged with him. 
and exposing himself to their blows. ' My brethren,' cried he to them as loud as 
he could bawl 'let the poor wretch alone, for the love of God: be quiet, for 
the love of the blessed Virgin.' These few words having appeased this horrible 
tempest, the people made room for brother Martin to pass, who went up to the un- 
fortunate gentleman, well-pleased in his heart to see him so used, though showing 
outwardly a mighty concern for him. He raised him up from the ground, em- 
braced and kissed him, all covered as he was with blood and dirt, and reprimanded 
the people for their rude behaviour. ' I am a wicked man,' said he to the standers- 
by. ' I am a sinner ; I am one that never did anything pleasing in the eyes of 
God. Do you believe,' continued he, ' because you see me dressed in this religious 
garb, that I have not been a robber all my life-time, the scandal of others and the 
destruction of myself? Alas! you are mistaken, my brethren, make me the mark 
of your contumelies, pelt me with stones, nay, draw your swords upon me.' Hav- 
ing spoken these words with a counterfeit sorrow, he threw himself, with a zeal yet 
more counterfeit, at the feet of his enemy, and kissed them, not only begged his 
pardon, but likewise gathered up his sword, cloak, and hat, which he had lost in 
the scuffle. He helped him on with them again, and leading him by the hand to 
the end of the street, took his leave of him, after he had bestowed abundance of em- 
braces and as many benedictions on him. The poor man was, as it were, out of 
his wits at what he had seen, and with what had been done to him, and was so full 
of confusion that he durst hardly show his head all the while his affairs detained 
him at Seville. Montufar had won the hearts of all the city by this pretended act 
of devotion; the people gaz'd at him with admiration, and the children cried after 
him, ' a Saint, a Saint,' as they cried out ' a Fox, a Fox,' when they saw his enemy 
in the street. From this moment, he lived the happiest life in the world. Some 
nobleman, cavalier, magistrate, or prelate perpetually invited him to dinner, and 
strove who should have the most of his company. If he were asked his name, he 
would answer, ' He was a beast of burthen, a sink of filth, vessel of iniquity,' and 
such like noble attributes which his counterfeit devotion dictated to him. When 
he visited any of the ladies, he complained to them incessantly of the nothingness 
of his dispensation, and the deadness of the inward man, adding, he wanted con- 
centration of heart and recollection of spirit. In short, he always talked to them in 
this magnificent cant and holy gibberish. No alms were given in Seville but what 


passed through his hands, or those of Helen and Mendez, who were not wanting 
likewise to act their parts to admiration, and stood as fair for a red-letter prefer- 
ment in the almanack (I mean to be sainted) as Montufar himself. A lady of qual- 
ity who was a widow, and devout even to superstition, sent them every day two 
dishes of meat for dinner, and as many for supper ; and you must know, these 
dishes were dressed by the very best cooks in Seville. Their house was too little 
to receive the numerous presents which were daily sent to them. A woman that 
had a mind to be with child put her petition into their hands, to the end, by their 
mediation it might be presented to the tribunal of heaven. Another that had a son 
in the Indies did the same ; as likewise a third that had a brother, prisoner in Al- 
giers Nay, the poor widow who had to contest with a powerful adversary before 
an ignorant or covetous judge, did not doubt the success of her cause, when she had 
once made a present to them according to her ability. Some gave them sweet- 
meats and conserves, others pictures and ornaments for their closets. Several char- 
itable persons trusted them with great quantities of linen and woollen cloth to dispose 
among the needy that were ashamed to beg, and with considerable sums of money 
to distribute as they saw convenient. No one came to visit them empty-handed, 
and their future canonization was as firmly believed as an article of faith. At last 
the credulity of the people ran so high, that they came to consult them about their 
doubtful affairs and things to come. Helen, who was as subtle as a devil, managed 
all the answers, delivering her oracles in few words, and those capable of receiving 
different interpretations. Their beds were mean and homely ; but at night, with 
all the fine furniture a man could desire, that loves to sleep deliciously, their house 
being plentifully furnished with good feather beds, fine coverlids, and, in short, 
with all sorts of movables that contribute to the convenience and pleasure of life ; 
and all this they pretended was to be given to some poor widow, whose goods had 
been seized in execution, or to furnish some young woman's house who had married 
without any fortune. Their doors were shut up in winter at five, and in summer at 
seven o'clock, as punctually as in a well-regulated convent : and then Jack was 
wound up, the spits turned merrily round, the capons put down to the fire, the table 

same complexion, copied so pious an example. As for the good Mendez, she al- 
vrays lay alone, being more taken up with contemplation than with action ever 
since she had addicted herself to the black art. This was their constant practice, 
instead of employing their time in mental prayer or in doing penance. 'Tis no 
wonder if, living so jolly a life, they looked plump and fat ; all the city blessed 
hiaven for it, and were mightily surprised that persons of so much austerity and 
self-denial should look better than those that lived in luxury and ease. For the 
space of three years they deceived the eyes of all the inhabitants of Seville, and by 
receiving presents from everyone, and appropriating to their own use the alms that 
passed through their hands, they heaped together an incredible number of pistoles. 
All good success was ascribed to the efficacy of their prayers ; they stood god- 
fathers to all children, made matches for all the city, and: were the common arbitra- 
tors of differences. At last, heaven was weary of conniving any longer at their 
impious lives. Montufar, who was cholerick in his temper, used frequently to beat 
his valet, who could not bear it, and had quitted his service a hundred times, if 
Helen, who was more discreet than her gallant, had not prevented it by appeasing 
him with fair words and presents. One day, having drubbed him immoderately, 
for little or no reason, the boy got to the door, and blinded by his passion, ran di- 
rectly to the magistrates to inform against these three hypocrites, whom the 
world took for saints. Helen's diabolical spirit foretold what would happen, there- 
fore advised Montufar to run off with all the gold they had in the house and retire 
to some place of security till this tempest, which threatened them, had spent itself. 
It was no sooner said than put into execution ; they carried off the most valuable 
things, and walking down the street as unconcerned as if they had dreaded nothing, 
went out at one gate." * 

Twenty years after Tartu/e had been played, La Bruyere added, in the 
sixth edition of the Caracteres, the portrait of Onuphre the hypocrite. We 
give it here below : 

1 Translated by Mr. Thomas Brown, Mr. Savage, and others London, 1727. 


" Onuphre has no other bed but a cover of grey serge, but he sleeps 
upon cotton and down; he is also dressed simply but comfortably. I 
mean that he wears some very light clothing in summer, and some very 
soft and woolly in winter ; he wears very fine shirts, which he takes very 
good care to hide. He does not say my hairshirt and my scourge ; on the 
contrary, he would pass then for what he is, a hypocrite, and he wishes to 
pass for what he is not, for a devout man. It is true that he acts in such 
a manner that people believe, without his saying so, that he wears a hair- 
shirt, and that he flagellates himself. There are some books lying, all 
over his room, accidentally. Open them, they are The Spiritual Combat, 
The Inward Christian, The Holy Year ; other books are under lock and 
key. If he walks through the town, and if he sees from afar a man before 
whom it is necessary that he should pretend to be religious, downcast eyes, a 
slow and modest gait, a collected air, are familiar to him ; he plays his part. 
If he enters a church, he observes, to begin with, by whom he can be seen, 
and, according to what he has discovered, he kneels down and prays, or he 
neither thinks of kneeling down or of praying. If a good man, and one in 
authority, draws near to him, who can see and hear him, he not only prays 
but is lost in meditation ; he has upheavings of the spirit, he sighs aloud ; 
but if the good man goes away, the latter, who sees him depart, gets 
calmed down, and no longer utters a sound. Another time he enters a 
church, makes his way through the crowd, chooses a place where he can 
collect his thoughts, where everyone can see how he humbles himself. If 
he hears courtiers talking or laughing, or who are less silent in church than 
in an ante-chamber, he makes more noise than they to get them to be 
silent ; he begins again his meditation, which is always a comparison be- 
tween those persons and himself, and by which he does not lose. He 
avoids an empty and solitary church, where he might hear two masses, 
one after another, and a sermon, attend vespers and compline, all this 
between God and himself, and without anybody thanking him for it. He 
loves the parish church ; he frequents churches where there are a great 
many people ; people are sure not to come there for nothing : people are 
seen there. He chooses two or three days in the year, when, without any 
necessity whatever, he fasts or mortifies himself; but at the end of the 
winter, he coughs ; there is something wrong in the chest ; he is bilious ; 
he has an attack of ague, people entreat, urge him, and even quarrel with 
him, so that he should not keep his fasts, when he has begun them, and 
he gives way out of complaisance. If Onuphre is named an umpire in a 
quarrel between relatives, or in a lawsuit amongst a family, he is on the 
side of the strongest, I mean the richest ; and he cannot persuade himself 
that a man who has much wealth can be in the wrong. If he is on a 
good footing with a rich man, who is ignorant of his real character, whose 
parasite he is, and who may assist him very much, he does not cajole that 
rich man's wife ; he makes her no advances, nor a declaration of his love ; 
he will run away, he will leave his cloak behind him, if he is not as sure of 
her as he is of himself ; he has not the least idea of employing devotional 
phrases to seduce her ; he does not employ them usually ; but on set pur- 
pose, and when they can be useful to him, and never when they would 
only serve to make him very ridiculous. He knows where to find more 
sociable and more docile females than the wife of his friend ; he does not 
abandon them for long, even if it should only be to have it said that he has 
withdrawn from the world for some time. And who could have any 
doubts about it, when they see him make again his appearance with an 
emaciated countenance, and like a man who has mortified himself. More- 


over, the women who flourish and prosper as devotees suit him, only with 
this small difference, that he neglects those who have grown old, and that 
he looks after the young ones, and amongst those the most beautiful and 
the best shaped; that is his attraction ; they go away and he goes away; 
they return and he returns ; they remain and he remains ; he has the 
consolation of seeing them in every place and at every hoar. Who would 
not be edified by that ? They are pious and he is pious. He does not 
forget to take advantage of the blindness of his friend, and of the way he 
is prepossessed in his favour : now he borrows money from him ; again he 
acts in such a manner that his friend offers it to him ; his friends fall foul 
of him because he has no recourse to them when he is in want. Some- 
times he will not receive a farthing without giving his note of hand for it 
which he is quite sure never to take up. Another time he states, and with 
a certain intonation, that he wants nothing, and that he does when he only 
wants a small sum ; at some other time he praises publicly the generosity 
of a certain man, in order to work upon his friend's honour, and to induce 
him to put down a very large sum ; he does not think of accaparating the 
whole of his succession, nor of obtaining a general donation of all his 
property, above all if the question is to take them away from a son, the 
lawful heir. A devout man is neither a miser, nor violent, nor unjust, nor 
even interested. Onuphre is not devout, but he wishes to be thought so, 
and through a perfect, though false imitation of piety, advances his inter- 
ests in an underhand manner. He therefore does not come into collision 
with direct heirs ; he never insinuates himself in a family where there is a 
daughter to be provided for, and a son to be established ; their rights are 
too powerful and too inviolable ; they cannot be infringed without public 
scandal, and that he fears ; without such an undertaking coming to the 
ears of the prince, from whom he hides all his dealings, for fear of being 
discovered, and of appearing in his true character. He plots against col- 
lateral heirs, who can be attacked with more impunity ; he is the terror of 
male and female cousins, of the nephew and the niece ; the flatterer and 
the firm friend of every uncle who has made a fortune. He pretends to be 
the legitimate heir of every old man who dies rich and without children ; 
and the latter must disinherit him if he wishes his relatives to receive what 
he leaves behind. If Onuphre does not find an opportunity to deprive 
them wholly of it, he takes at least a good part of it ; a little slander, less 
than that, a trifling, slighting remark, suffices for that pious design, and 
such a talent he possesses in the highest degree of perfection ; he often 
considers it his obligation not to let it lie by uselessly ; according to him it 
is our duty to attack certain people ; and these are the people whom he 
does not like, whom he wishes to harm, and whose spoils he longs for. He 
obtains what he wishes without even taking the trouble of opening his 
mouth ; they speak to him of Eudoxe, he smiles or sighs ; they ask some 
more questions, they insist that he should answer, he replies nothing ; and 
he is right, he has said enough." 

We can now compare La Bruyere's careful delineation of the hypo- 
crite with Moliere's masterly, life-like creation of him. There is no doubt, 
in my mind, that La Bruyere wished to correct his master ; the mention 
he makes of " a hairshirt and a scourge, of a daughter to be provided 
for, and a son to be established," sufficiently prove this. But I do not 
think he has succeeded. La Bruyere has given an almost photographic 
sketch of the canting hypocrite such as he appeared in 1690 ; he has de- 
scribed to us his dress, his manners, his slang, and even the religious 
books then in vogue : but we feel all the time that Onuphre only pretends 


to be religious, because it was then the fashion to be so, because the king 
gave the tone to the courtiers to be pious. In the following reign, Onu- 
phre would have been most probably a roue, and exchanged his cloak of 
hypocrisy for a velvet jacket, adorned with gold lace ; he would have for- 
saken the handsome pious young devotees to go and make his appear- 
ance at the suppers of the Regent. Onuphre is not a man : he is only an 
automaton, set in motion by every blast of court favour or disfavour ; he 
is a model of a time-serving couitier. That La Bruyere may have thought 
so himself is not impossible, for Onuphre's portrait is to be found in the 
chapter on Fashion amongst the delineations of the amateur of flowers, 
the collector of engravings, the lover of birds ; and immediately preced- 
ing it, is a sketch of a courtier. If the real hypocrite had been limned, 
his portrait would have found a place in the chapter On Man, or in that 
On jfudgments. 

But Moliere gives us the hypocrite by nature, the man who would be a 
canting scoundrel, even if it did not pay ; who cannot help being so ; 
who is a human being, and therefore not perfect ; who is a man, and thus 
sensually inclined ; who employs certain means to subdue his passions, 
and to become a '* whited sepulchre," but who gives all the more way to 
them when he imagines that he can do so with impunity. Even from a 
dramatic point of view, La Bruyere's portrait of a man whom nothing 
can move, who is always prudent and circumspect, is only possessed by 
one idea, has but a single object which he pursues, and who covers his 
vices with such an impenetrable veil, and is for ever so much on his guard 
that he can never be caught in a snare ; would not make a character fit 
for the stage, and would disgust an audience. Besides, how could the 
arrant hypocrite be punished unless he fell in love, and that with the wife 
of his benefactor, for otherwise Orgon might perhaps have pitied him still 
and exclaimed " the poor man 1" 

Moliere's Tartuffe is the hypocrite of all ages and for all times, who 
does not depend on the meretricious allurements of the court to become 
one, but who would be one, I am afraid, even in England, and at the 
present day. Pecksniff seems to me to be a relative of Tartuffe, although 
his cant is more about humanity, and less about religion. But I imagine 
Tartuffe to have been a man of a rather florid complexion, with " red ears 
and ruddy lips," inclined to be stout, with expressive eyes, and very beau- 
tiful, white, plump hands, of which he takes great care, and which he is 
very fond of showing. He is always well dressed in clothes of sombre 
hue ; his linen is scrupulously white ; his manners are gentlemanlike and 
insinuating ; he is ever polite, but can be firm, and shows sometimes that 
he can be so ; he is slow and impressive of speech, with an unctuous or 
rather oily flavour ; he persuades now and then some hysterical females 
of defective education, but oftener terrifies the old and feeble-minded ; he 
is a middle-aged man, of rather goodly shape, and capable of inspiring 
one of those semi-mystic, semi-sensual passions, of whose baneful existence 
evidence crops up at certain periods amongst so-called civilized nations, 
e certainly never can have been the low-bred, sniffling, caddish-looking, 
soddened. pasty-faced beadle, which is generally represented as his proto- 
type on the stage. If Tartuffe had been such a man, he would not have 
obtained a footing at Orgon's house ; and might have entertained the idea 
of courting a kitchen-wench or a scullery-maid, but would never have 
dared to attempt to seduce the virtuous and lady-like Elmire. 

It has been stated that Moliere, in delineating Tartuffe, intended to de- 
pict the Abb de Rouquette, who became afterwards Bishop of Aurun. 


This town appears to have been unfortunate in its episcopal guides ; for 
Talleyrand, was also for some time bishop of that place. But the identity 
of the Abbe de Rouquette with Tartuffe is more than doubtful, and rests 
on a tradition that M. de Guilleragues, who lived in the hotel of the 
Prince de Conti with the Abbe, must have communicated to Moliere 
some of the latter's hypocritical tricks. According to others, Tartuffe's 
adventure with Elmire happened to the Abbe at the duchess de Longue- 
ville's house. The duchess de Longueville, a sister of the great Conde, 
had, at the time Tartuffe was first represented, only just become a 
widow, and was already forty-five years old, whilst the Abbe was four 
years younger. Although, therefore, it may have happened at the 
duchess's house, it is very unlikely to have occurred with that lady 
herself. The whole story appears doubtful ; for at the death of the 
duchess, her relatives chose de Rouquette who, in the meantime had 
become Bishop of Autun, to preach her funeral sermon. This choice 
would not have been made if he had disgraced himself in any way at 
the noble lady's house. The Abbe preached so well, that Madame de 
Sevigne, who was present, wrote to her daughter: "He was not Tar- 
tuffe, he was not a pantaloon, but an eminent prelate." At another time, 
she wrote to the same : " We were obliged to go and dine with M. d' Au- 
tun. The poor man!" This only proves to my mind that Madame de 
Sevigne thought that the Abbe was like Tartuffe, but is no proof that Mo- 
liere, in writing this comedy, intended to hit the rather worldly-minded 
Abbe, who is said to have been a great intriguant, and to have preached 
sermons which he did not write, if we may believe the following epigram, 
which circulated at that time : 

Sermons penned by other men, 

Roquette preaches, people state ; 

I, who know where they are bought, 

Say they are his, at any rate. 

Another tradition, which rests upon even fewer grounds, mentions that 
Louis XIV., one evening during the campaign of 1662, just at the point 
of going to dine, advised Perefixe, Bishop of Rhodez, who had been the 
king's teacher, to do likewise. As it was a fast-day, the bishop said he 
was only going to take a slight meal. When he had retired, the king saw 
one of the bystanders smiling ; and upon his asking him the reason of 
this, the latter replied that His Majesty need not be uneasy about M. de 
Rhodez, and then told what he had seen the bishop eat for his dinner. At 
the mention of each dish, it is said that the king exclaimed each time, 
" The poor man !" and that Moliere was present at this scene, and after- 
wards reminded Louis XIV., of it. 

I can only say that all these traditions seem to me very unlikely. One 
thing is certain, that the noun Tartuffe is connected with the old French 
truffe, truffle, a truffle, and also a jest, a fib. In cognate languages, 
in the Italian comedia dett' arte, we find Truffd and Truffaldino, as 
rascally servants; in the Venetian, Tofolo and Tiritofolo, a stout but 
small knavish servant ; in the Milanese dialect, we have Tartuffol ; a 
dotard as well as a truffle; and in the Neapolitan tongue, Taratufolo, 
a simpleton. 1 All these seem to be connected with the low Latin word 

*It is odd ftaA fungus, in Latin, a mushroom, also means "a dolt;" so the Ital- 
ian, zucca, a. pumpkin, is employed in the same way. The French, un melon, un 
concombre, un cornichon, a girkin, and une citronille, a pumpkin, all vegetables 
which are watery and faint in taste, are often used to characterize a person of weak 


trvffactor, deceiver, with the augmentative tra : hence tratttfar, eupho- 
nically tratuffar. Perhaps Moliere may have thought of some imaginary 
connection between the supposed erotic powers of the truffle, and the 
amativeness of the hypocritical title-role of his play ; but, in any case, 
he could have found the name tartuffo in // Malmantilc racquistato, a 
facetious Italian poem by Lorenzo Lippi, which circulated in manu- 
script in France, long before Tartuffe was performed. The author of 
the Observations sur une comedie de Moliere (see Introductory Notice to 
Don yuan, which appeared after Tartuffe's first three acts had been 
represented on the sixth day of the Pleasure of the Enchanted Island, 
always calls the hero of the piece Tartouffle. Montufar, the chief cha- 
racter in Scarron's tale, The Hypocrites, probably from the Spanish tufo, 
vapour, may also have partly led Moliere to use the name of his hero. In 
an old French translation of Platina's De Honesta Voluptate, published 
in 1505, truffe and tartuffe are used as synonymous words for hypo- 
crites ; and Moliere, in his first petition to the King, speaks of the tar- 
tuffes, meaning the impostors, not using the word as a personal, but 
as a generic name. 

We have already said that the first three acts of Tartuffe were first 
performed at Versailles, on the 12th of May 1664, and that the king 
forbade it to be given to the public ; for, in the official Gazette of the 
ijth of the same month, we find: "This great monarch is careful to 
cut off all the seeds of division in the Church, and none of his prede- 
cessors bore ever more gloriously the title of its Eldest Son, which he 
keeps up by that delicacy which he shows for everything which regards 
it, as he has shown it lately by his prohibiting the performance of a- 
comedy, called The Hypocrite, which His Majesty, piously enlightened 
in everything, judged absolutely injurious to religion, and capable of 
producing very dangerous effects." 

The King was staying at Fontainebleau from the i6th of May until 
the isth August of the same year (1664), and it was during that time 
that the Vicar of St. Barthelemy, Pierre Roules (see Prefatory Memoir, 
Vol. I., presented to the King his pamphlet : Le Roi glorieux au monde, 
ou Louis XIV., le plus glorieux de tons les rois du monde. In this pam- 
phlet, which is full of flattery I had nearly said idolatry of Louis 
XIV., Moliere is attacked. I shall give first, as a curiosity, a passage 
in which the King is sufficiently bespattered with praise : " There are 
certainly, on the whole earth we live on, sufficient kings, but few who 
are, and who can be qualified, and really be called glorious kings. 
But amongst all, and even if they should be numberless, Louis XIV., 
who reigns in France, has the happiness and glory of belonging to them. 
And to know that he is in that position, and to be convinced of hon- 
ouring him with respect in this supreme and royal quality and dignity, 
what else is necessary but to behold his grandeur and glory, the lustre 
and the brilliant splendour of his virtues, the lofty elevation of his 
power, and his very great merits, and the esteem in which they are 
held, or otherwise to measure him by his countenance ; but I make a 
mistake, by the highest perfection amongst all the other kings of the 
whole world. I am not ignorant that comparisons are odious, that it 
is not a title to consideration, nor a very glorious advantage to be grand 
and eminent, only because others are disparaged and valued less highly. 
I desire, therefore, not to raise the lofty and eminent glory of Louis XIV., 
by despising and lowering every one, but by this characteristic that he has 
the honour of being the master and the sovereign of all things, which, 


without being idolaters, we worship and reverence publicly in his royal 
Majesty, because he is a terrestrial god and a divine man, without exam- 
ple and without equal, having nothing to struggle against or to dispute 
with except himself." 

I think this laudation is sufficiently nauseous. Let us see now what 
this pious vicar has to say for Moliere : " A man, or rather, a demon in- 
carnate and dressed like a man, the greatest unbeliever and free-thinker 
that ever existed even in past ages, possessed sufficient impiety and 
abomination to draw out of his diabolical mind a play quite ready to be- 
come public, in having it represented upon a stage, to make a mockery 
of the whole Church, to contemn the most sacred character and the most 
divine function and that which is most holy in the Church. . . . He de- 
served for this sacrilegious and impious attempt a final, exemplary and 
public punishment, and even the stake, a fore-runner of the fires of hell, 
to expiate so heinous a crime of high-treason against Heaven, which aims 
at destroying the Catholic religion, in criticising and jeering at its most 
religious and holy practices. . . . But His Majesty, after having given 
him a severe reprimand, and animated by a just wrath, has, by a trait of 
his usual clemency, in which he imitates the essential gentleness of God, 
condescendingly forgiven him his insolence and his demoniacal boldness, 
in order to give him time to repent of it publicly and solemnly all his life. 
And to stop successfully the exposition and the sale of his impious and 
irreligious production, and of his licentious and free-thinking poetry, he 
has commanded him, under pain of death, to suppress and tear up, to 
hush up and burn all that was written of it." 

Although this language was pretty strong, it did not prevent the troupe 
of Moliere from being invited to come to Fontainebleau, to contribute to 
the amusements presented to Monsignore Chigi, the Pope's Nuncio. 
They remained there from the aist of July to the i3th of August, and it 
appears that, during that time, Moliere read to the Nuncio Tartuffe, and 
that the Nuncio did not disapprove of it. He then presented to Louis 
XIV., the following petition : 

Sire, 3 The aim of comedy being to correct men by amusing them, I thought 
that in the situation which I occupy,* I could not do better than attack by pictures 
full of ridicule the vices of my age ; and hypocrisy being no doubt not only one of 
the most usual among them, but also one of the most annoying as well as most dan- 
gerous, I had the idea, Sire, that I would be rendering not a small service to the honest 
people of your kingdom, if I wrote a comedy that should decry the hypocrites, ex- 
pose plainly the studied grimaces of those ultra-godly people, all the covert scoun- 
drelism of these false coiners of devotion, who try to inveigle people with their 
counterfeit zeal, and their sophistic charity. 

I have constructed this comedy, Sire, with all the care, and, as I believe, with 
all the circumspection demanded by the delicacy of the material ; and the better 
to preserve the esteem and respect due to the truly pious, I have distinguished as 
much as I could the character which I had to sketch. I have left no room for 
equivocal interpretation, I have left out everything that could confound the good 
with the bad, and have employed in this picture only those express colours and 
essential traits which would serve to reveal, at the first glance, the veritable and 
downright hypocrite. Nevertheless, all my precautions have been useless. Peo- 
ple have taken advantage, Sire, of the delicacy of your feelings on the subject of 
religion, and have succeeded in probing you in your only vulnerable spot, I mean 

'This petition is a reply to the pamphlet Le Roi glorieux au monde, and is 
often quoted by de Rochemont in his Observations (see Introductory Notice to 
Don yuan, Vol. II.) 

4 This situation was that of manager of the troupe of the theatre of the Palais 


your respect for sacred things. The Tartuffes on the sly, have been artful enough 
to find grace in your Majesty's sight; in short, the originals have caused the copy 
to be suppressed, no matter how innocent and startlingly like it may have been. 

Great as was the blow caused by the suppression of this work, my misfortune has 
been mitigated by the manner in which your Majesty explained yourself on this 
subject ; 6 and I have seen, Sire, that all cause of complaint was taken away froiii 
me, when you declared kindly that you found nothing objectionable in this comedy, 
which you nevertheless forbade me to produce in public. 

But notwithstanding this glorious declaration of the greatest and most enlightened 
monarch in the universe, even notwithstanding the approbation of Monsignor the 
Nuncio, and the majority of our prelates, who, when I privately read my work to 
them, have all fully concurred in the sentiments of your Majesty, notwithstanding 
all this, I say, a book has been published which openly contradicts all those august 
testimonies.* Your Majesty may say what he pleases, the Nuncio and the pre- 
lates may proclaim their judgment as much as they like, my comedy, without 
having even been seen, is diabolical, and as diabolical is my brain ; I am a demon incar- 
nate, and dressed like a man, an unbeliever, an impious wretch, deserving of exem- 
plary punishment. It is not enough that the flames expiate my offence in public, I 
should be quit of it at too cheap a rate ; the charitable zeal of this gallant and good 
man hardly cares to stop there ; he requires that I shall find no mercy at the hands 
of God, he insists absolutely that I must be damned ; that is a settled affair. 

This book, Sire, has been presented to your Majesty, and you can yourself doubt- 
less judge how annoying it is to me to see myself daily exposed to the insults of 
these gentlemen ; the harm these slanders do me in the eyes of the world, whether 
they are to be meekly borne, and the interest I have to rid myself of its imposture, 
and to show the public that my comedy is nothing less than what it is said to be. 
I shall not say anything, Sire, about the claims due to my reputation, or to the 
justification of the innocence of my work in the eyes of the world ; enlightened 
Kings, like you, have no need to have people's wishes pointed out to them; they 
perceive, like God, our wants, and know better than we do, what they ought to 
grant us. 7 It is sufficient for me to place my interests in your Majesty's hands, 
and to await respectfully from him whatever he may be pleased to ordain on the 

Although the King did not yet allow Tartuffe to be performed in 
public, the first three acts were played, by order of Monsieur, the only 
brother of the King, on the 2$th of September 1664, at Villers-Cotterets, 
before the King and the whole court ; and the complete comedy, in five 
acts, was played at Raincy, the seat of the Princess Palatine, and by 
order of the Prince de Conde", on the agth of November 1664, and on the 
8th of November of the following year. During all this time Moliere's 
influence at court had been strengthened; the Misanthrope had been 
successfully played ; he had contributed during the winter, 1666-1667, 
several comedies to the Ballet des Muses, and when, in the summer of 
the latter year, the King set out for his campaign in Flanders, Moliere, 
reckoning upon a verbal authorization of Louis, brought out Tartuffe 
at the Palais-Royal, on the sth of August 1667, under the name of The 
Impostor. Tartuffe became a layman, and was called Panulphe ; he wore 
a little hat, long hair, a large collar, a sword, and lace all over his coat ; 
whilst some passages were altogether suppressed or toned down. But 
the next day the play was forbidden by order of the first President of 
the Parliament of Paris, M. de Lamoignon. On the Sth of the same 
month, two actors of MoliSre's troupe, La Grange and La Thorilliere, 
started off in a post-chaise, in order to go and present to the King, 
who was at that time before Lille, the following petition : 

See Introductory Notice to the Princess of Elis. 

This refers to Le Roiglorieux au monde, and Moliere quotes all the phrases 
from that pamphlet. 

* Moliere imitates here the language of his accuser de Routes. 


SIRE, It is a very bold step on my part to come and trouble a great monarch in 
the midst of his glorious conquests ; but in the position in which I am, Sire, where 
am I to find protection except in the place where I have come to seek for it? And 
what am I to invoke against the authority of the power that overwhelms me, unless 
it be the source of that power and authority, the just dispenser of the absolute com- 
mands, the sovereign judge, and the master of all things. 

Until now, Sire, my comedy has not met with your Majesty's favor. In vain 
have I produced it under the title of The Impostor, and disguised the personage 
beneath the garb of a man of the world ; 8 vainly have I given him a small hat 
long hair, a great collar, a sword, and lace over the whole of his dress ; in vain 
have I modified it in several places, and carefully cut out everything that' I deemed 
could furnish the shadow of a pretext to the celebrated originals of the portrait I 
wanted to paint ; all has been of no use. The cabal has re-awoke at the simple 
conjectures which they may have had about the matter. They have found means 
to surprise minds, who, on any other subject, profess never to allow themselves to 
be surprised. 9 No sooner did my comedy appear than it has found itself struck 
down by the blow of a power which is entitled to respect ; and all I have been able 
to do in this struggle, in order to save myself from the burst of this tempest, was to 
say that your Majesty had had the kindness to allow me the representation, and 
that I did not think there was any need to ask this permission from others, seeing 
that it was your decree only which had prohibited it. 

I doubt not, Sire, that the people whom I depict in my comedy will employ 
many artifices with your Majesty, and will try to enlist among their party many 
truly pious, who are the more susceptible of being deceived, because they judge 
others by themselves. They have the knack of investing their intentions with 
most beautiful colours. Whatever face they may put upon them, it is not really 
God's interest that causes them to move in this ; they have shown this sufficiently 
well in the comedies which they have allowed so often to be played in public with- 
out saying a word about them. Those only attacked piety and religion, for which 
they care very little ; but this one attacks and shows them up personally, and that is 
what they cannot tolerate. 10 They cannot forgive me for having unmasked their im- 
postures to the eyes of the whole world ; and, doubtlessly, they will not fail to tell 
your Majesty that everybody has been scandalized at my comedy. But the real 
truth, Sire, is that all Paris has only been scandalized at the prohibition of it; that 
the most scrupulous have found the representation of it most salutary ; and that 
people have been astonished that persons of such well-known probity should show 
such great deference for those whom the whole world ought to hold in horror, and 
should be so opposed to that true piety which they profess. 

I await respectfully the verdict which your Majesty will deign to pronounce 
upon this subject; but certain is it, Sire, that I must no longer think of writing 
comedies, if the Tartuffes should gain the day, because they will, through this, as- 
sume the right to prosecute me more than ever, and find something to cavil at 
in the most innocent things that will fall from my pen. 

May your kindness, Sire, vouchsafe to protect me against their venomous hatred ! 
and permit me to hope that at your return from so glorious a campaign, I may be 
able to divert your Majesty after the fatigues of your conquests, to provide you 
with some innocent pleasures after such noble works, and to make the monarch 
smile who caused all Europe to tremble. n 

* This pre-supposes that Moliere intended to make originally a clergyman of 

9 Moliere speaks here of the first President of the Parliament of Paris, M. de 
Lamoignon, who had forbidden Tartuffe to be played. 

10 This phrase is nearly word for word what the Prince de Conde replied to Louis 
XIV. with regard to Scaramouch, a hermit. In the preface to Tartuffe, which 
was printed two years after this petition had been presented, Moliere names the 

post from Paris to obtain an audience from the King respecting said prohibit. His 
Majesty was at the siege of Lille in Flanders, where we were very well received. 
Monsieur gave us his protection as usual, and His Majesty sent us word that, at 


On the nth of August of the same year (1667) there appeared an order 
of Hardouin, Archbishop of Paris, addressed to all the vicars and curates 
of Paris and the suburbs, " forbidding all persons of our diocese to repre- 
sent, read, or hear read the above mentioned comedy {Tartuffe}, either 
publicly or privately, under any name or pretext whatever, and that un- 
der pain of excommunication." On the aoth of the same month, there 
was published a Lettre sur la comedie de V Imposteur, which has sometimes 
been attributed to Moliere himself, but which bears no marks of his style 
or of his clearness of expression. It is possible, however, that one of 
his friends may have written it, and brought forward some of the author's 
arguments, but not in Moliere's words. This letter, which is rather pro- 
lix, begins with a careful and interesting analysis of the play, well worth 
reading, even at the present_time, and which shows the alterations which 
it underwent since its first representation, and ends with two reflections 
the first, that some people think that the religious subjects should never 
be mentioned on the stage. The author combats this opinion by stating 
that " religion is only the perfection of reason, at least as regards morality ; 
that it purifies and elevates it, that it dispels only the darkness which sin 
has spread in the place where it dwells ; in short, that religion is only a 
more perfect reason." He further argues that though "religion has its 
places and times fixed for its sacrifices, its ceremonies, and its other 
mysteries, .... its truths, expressed in words, belong to all times and 
all places ;" that the ancients never scrupled to produce their gods upon 
the stage, and that in early times Passion-plays were represented. His 
second reflection is that this comedy has given a fatal blow to what is 
called " solid gallantry," and that "though preachers thunder against it, 
confessors reprove it, pastors threaten, well constituted minds lament it, 
parents, husbands, and masters incessantly watch over it, and labour con- 
tinually and strenuously in vain to check the impetuous torrent of impu- 
rity which desolates France ; it is, however, considered ridiculous amongst 
fashionable people not to be carried away by it ; and that some glory not 
more in loving incontinency than others in reproving it." 

Lille surrendered on the 2yth of August. Louis XIV. returned to Saint 
Germain on the 7th of September ; but no permission was given to play 
Tartuffe, and on the 25th of September, 1667, the theatre of the Palais- 
Royal opened with The Misanthrope, But during the last months of the 
year, Moliere did not play. I suppose he exemplified the truth of the 
saying, " Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." He played again, how- 
ever, in the beginning of the year 1668, had Amphitryon performed on 
the I3th of January, George Dandin and The Miser in the same year. 
At last, after two years' waiting, and after Tartuffe had been read repeat- 
edly at the houses of the principal nobility and gentry, and been played 
anew, on the aoth of September, 1668, at Chantilly, the seat of the Prince 
de Conde\ in the presence of Monsieur and his wife, permission was 
granted to play it; and on the 5th of February, 1669, it appeared for the 
first time before the public. That very day, Moliere sent to the King the 
following petition : 

SIRE. A most respectable physician, 12 whose patient I have the honour to be, 

his return to Paris, he would have the comedy of Tartuffe examined, and that we 
should play it. After this, we came back. The journey cost a thousand francs to 
the company, They did not play during our voyage, and we resumed acting the 
asth September. 

18 His name was Mauvillain, according to Grimarest. It was in speaking of 
Maurillain that Louis XIV. said one day to Moliere: "You have got a physician, 


promises me, and will bind himself by a legal act, executed before a notary, to 
make me live thirty years longer if I can procure him a favour of your Majesty. 
In answer to his promise, I have told him that I do not want as much, and that I 
would be satisfied if he would only promise me not to kill me. This favour, Sire, is a 
canonry in your royal palace of Vincennes, vacant through the death of ... 

May I still venture to ask this favour of your Majesty, the very day of the great 
resurrection of Tartuffe, resuscitated by your kindness ? I am, through this first 
favour, reconciled with the devotees : and through the second, I shall be reconciled 
with the doctors. For me it is, no doubt, too many favours at one time, but per- 
haps it is not too many for your Majesty ; and 1 await, with a little respectful ex- 
pectation, the answer to my petition. 

The Tartuffe was a great success, and was played nearly forty-four con- 
secutive times at the Palais-Royal, before crowded houses, besides five 
times at noblemen's seats. 

At the end of the year 1669, appeared a liftle piece, in one act, and in 
verse, called La Critique du Tartuffe, which seems never to have been 
played, and preceded by a satire, also in verse, in which Pradon, the 
great enemy of Boileau, appears to have had a hand. In it, is stated 
that the great success of Moliere's play was owing to its having been for- 
bidden so long. In the Critique itself, it is said that " he steals from a 
thousand authors, Spanish nonsense, but the age allows it, and in spite of 
all my sense ; the poor man! . . . I pardon him." 

The storms that were now raised against Tartuffe originated chiefly 
with the clergy. Bourdaloue, in his sermon for the seventh Sunday after 
Easter preached in 1669 pretends that " as true and false piety have a 
great number of actions in common, and as the external appearances of 
both are almost wholly similar, the traits with which false religion are de- 
picted harm the true one." This, he says, happens " when they put upon 
the stage and expose to public mockery an imaginary, or even, if you 
like, a real hypocrite, and, by portraying him, turn into ridicule the 
holiest things, the fear for the judgments of God, the horror against sin, 
the most praiseworthy and the most Christian practices in themselves." 1S 

It may not be amiss to state here that Bossuet, in the Maximes et Re- 
flexions sur la Comedie, which were written in answer to the Lettre d'un 

what does he do to you?" "Sire," answered Moliere, "we chat together; he 
prescribes remedies; I do not take them, and I get better." M. Maurice Ray- 
naud, in les Medecins au temps de Moliere, says : " Mauvillain had numerous 
friends amongst the Faculty. He showed some talents as professor of botany, and 
later, assisted Fagon in the Hortus regius. The theses defended, whilst he was 

her, wholly devoted to the prescribing ot many drugs, praising the singular virtues 
of the rhinoceros' horn, of the sapphire, the emerald, the besoar, and above all, of 
antimony, and making great fun of the antiquated partisans of senna and syrup 
of pale roses, or are about some facetious subject like : An pallidis virginum 
coloribus Venus, giving scope to all kinds of equivocal sayings or broad jokes, 
told in very good Latin. All this seems to show us a man of very independent 
character, very jovial, very irritable, naturally inclined to opposition, and, in the 
quarrels of the school of medicine, acting the part of the leader of a party." 
Moliere obtained the canonry he asked for the son of this physician. Let me draw 
attention to the free and easy style in which Moliere addresses the King. 

13 Bourdaloue seems not to have remembered the saying of Cleante (Act i., Scene 
6) to Orgon " There are hypocrites in religion as well as pretenders to courage. 

. . . I know no character more worthy of esteem than the truly devout, nor 
anything in the world more noble or beautiful than the holy fervour of sincere 
piety : so I know nothing more odious than the whited sepulchre of a pretended 


Theologien, translated into French from the Italian of Father Caffaro, a 
Sicilian Theatine monk, defending the stage, and which Maximes were 
only published in 1694, twenty years after Moliere's death, attacks Mo- 
liere, and says: " we must then consider as honest the impieties and infa- 
mies with which the comedies of Moliere are filled, and not count amongst 
the pieces, represented in the present times, those of an author who died, 
so to speak, before our eyes, and who even now fills the stage with the 
coarsest equivoques, with which the ears of Christians have ever been 
poisoned. . . . Only think if you will dare to maintain before Heaven 
plays in which virtue and piety are always ridiculed, corruption always 
excused and always made laughable." And speaking of Moliere's death, 
that same eminent and charitable divine says : " Posterity will know, per- 
haps, the end of this author and comedian, who, in performing his Malade 
Imaginaire, or his Medecin par force, received the last stroke of that ill- 
ness of which he died a few hours later, and passed from the jokes upon 
the stage, amongst which he almost breathed his last sigh, before the tribu- 
nal of Him who has said, ' Woe unto you that laugh now, ye shall 
weep.' " 

The purpose of Moliere's play is most powerfully defended by himself 
in his preface ; and that he is now considered as having been right, is 
proved by its having taken a permanent place on nearly every European 
stage ; at least the stage of every country where hypocrites are found, 
men who use religion as a cloak in order to further their own personal or 
carnal designs. 

The skill with which Moliere has drawn the hypocrite of his time, a 
sensualist and a casuist, and the way in which, during two acts, he pre- 
pares and leads up to his appearance, are very great. Tartuffe's first scene 
with Elmire is described in plain, but not indelicate, language, of which 
the truth is for all ages ; it is only surpassed by Tartuffe's second scene 
with Orgon's wife, in which he begins to show his suspicion, is extremely 
cautious and guarded, but at last, blinded by passion, falls into the trap 
laid for him. The blasphemous cant used by the hypocrite when he bares 
what he calls his soul in order to poison the air with the expression of his 
foul wishes, and at last says that " the greatest offence of sin lies in scan- 
dal and riot, but that it is no sin if you sin by stealth," is, and will be true 
at all times. The credulity of Orgon is thought by some to be very im- , 
probable ; but can we go through the world without seeing every day 
examples of it ? If there were no credulous people, how could political, 
religious, legal, medical, financial, commercial, and. I am sorry to say, 
literary quacks, thrive now-a-days so wonderfully well ! The impetuous 
Damis, fee sensible, clear-headed Ceante, the plain-spoken waiting-maid 
Dorine, the bigoted, infatuated Madame Pernelle, and the modest Elmire, 
are all drawn with masterly hand, and bear the impress of the genius 
which created them. 

It may be interesting to give Napoleon I.'s opinion about Tartuffe, and 
about its performance having been prohibited : " After dinner," says Las- 
Cases in the Memorial de Saint Helene, " the Emperor read Tartuffe to 
us, but he was so tired that he could not finish it ; he put down the book, 
and after having paid a just tribute of praises to Moliere, he ended in a 
manner we did not expect, and said, ' Certainly the whole of Tartuffe is 
masterly ; it is one of the best works of an inimitable man ; however, this 
comedy has such a character that I am not at all astonished that its ap- 
pearance upon the stage has been the subject of repeated negotiations at 
Versailles, and of much hesitation in the mind of Louis XIV. If I am 


astonished at anything, it is that the king allowed it to be performed. In 
my opinion it presents religious feeling under colours so odious ; a certain 
scene is so decidedly and completely indecent, that, as regards myself, I 
do not hesitate to say that if that comedy had been written in my time, 
I would not have permitted it to be brought out.'" 

M. Eugene Despois, the learned editor of Moliere 's plays, now in course 
of publication in Paris, says in Le Theatre franfais sous Louis XIV. that 
only since Don Juan and Tartuffe had been performed, did the clergy 
act rigidly against plays and actors, and brought into use laws which had 
long lain dormant. He also makes in the same book the following remarks 
about Tartuffe : " When we speak of this immortal picture of hypocrisy, 
we must at least be ourselves sincere, and not pretend to be astonished at 
the storm of anger raised by this comedy. It might be indeed supposed 
that only the Tartuffes were irritated, and that whoever said anything 
against that play showed himself a hypocrite. We do not know precisely 
what were the intentions of Moliere, and if he himself knew them ; but 
could he have any illusion about the import of his play ? Nearly all those 
distinctions which Moliere made between true and false devotion, and 
which are still repeated about this comedy, disappeared ; and just as Mo- 
liere, in attacking much less serious things, the pretended Precieuses, might 
indeed expect that the real Precieuses would feel themselves attacked, so 
this twofold caricature of a sincere religious feeling in Orgon, and a lying 
religious feeling in Tartuffe, gave rise to comparisons which Moliere ought 
to have foreseen. We must be honest. I ask every sincere believer, whatever 
his creed may be religious philosophical, or political would he be glad to 
see an opportunity given to his adversaries of confounding too easily what 
may be respectable in the convictions of some, comical or odious in those 
of others ? Let us abandon for a moment the opinions which separate us ; 
there is one, at least, which unites us all, at least in theory patriotism, 
which has also its Orgons and Tartuffes. What sincere patriot would not 
see an inconvenience in the pourtraying of the abuses, the absurdities, and 
even the hypocrisy of patriotism, at least as each one understands it for 
himself and his party ? A sincere man, if he is accustomed to scrutinize 
his conscience, finds it difficult enough to understand the ideas of others, 
which he does not share, and expects to meet the same prepossessions, 
and to hear the name of calculated hypocrisy given to what perhaps is 
only his weakness or inconsistency. Yes, Bourdaloue and others, just as 
little suspected of resembling Tartuffe, had a right to be scandalized, and 
to consider that comedy dangerous. These cursory remarks are made only 
to excuse prepossessions, which were but too natural, and not an intole- 
rance, and above all calumnies, which are never to be excused." 

I shall only remark on this, that if the stage is intended " to hold the 
mirror up to nature," there can be no harm in showing up hypocrites, 
either social, religious, philosophical, or political. The real honest be- 
liever, the true philosopher, or the sincere patriot, are in nowise affected 
by these caricatures. As regards tolerance for the opinions of others, 
which we do not share, this is a question of philosophy, but has nothing 
to do with comedy, or, if it has, it tends to destroy all comedy, which is 
nearly always the exposition of a folly, or of a vice made ridiculous ; or, 
as Moliere himself says in The Impromptu of Versailles^ " the business 
of comedy is to represent, in a general way, all the faults of men, and 
especially of men of our day." 

M See The Impromptu of Versailles, Vol. I., Scene iii. See also what Molier* 
says in the same play about the subjects for Comedy, p. 458. 


Monsieur Paul Albert, in his excellent work, La Literature francaise 
au 170 siecle, says : " The endings of Moliere's plays have often been criti- 
cised. As a general rule, he does not seem to care sufficiently about 
them ; they arrive a little at haphazard, and because the play must have 
some ending or other. Some even are very far-fetched, and quite con- 
trary to all rules of art, as, for example, the intervention of the exempt in 
Tartuffe. I do not know how the critics manage to get Moliere out of 
this scrape, but I should like to be allowed to venture upon an explana- 
tion. The compulsory ending of every Tragedy is the violent death of 
one of the personages ; the compulsory ending of every Comedy is a mar- 
riage : that was traditional, and exists even at the present time. As mar- 
riage was considered a happy ending, every comedy was to end well. 
But this could only happen % when the hero, the very centre of the play, 
and the pivot on which the action turns, was either conquered, or would 
suddenly change his determination. In reality, he appears from the very 
first scenes as the most serious, the only obstacle to the union of the 
youthful lover and the fair object of his love. He is opposed to it because 
his ruling passion, his egotism, is not satisfied by it. The Citizen who 
apes the Nobleman, the Miser, the Hypochondriac, the Blue Stocking, the 
Devotee, repel a son-in-law who would not suit their daughter, because 
they wish for a son-in-law who would suit themselves, a noble, a rich man, 
a physician, a pedant, a devotee. How can one conquer that resistance, 
destroy that tyranny ? Let us look at society: How are things going on 
there ? At the present time, a young girl who is persecuted to marry some 
one whom she does not love, can always say ' nay' at the last moment, and 
the law protects her as well as it can ; as soon as she is twenty years old, 
she can say ' yes ' to whomsoever she likes, and without consulting any 
one. 15 It was not thus in the seventeenth century ; it was necessary to 
yield or to enter a convent. This was one of the darkest sides of that society 
so much lauded. At every stage of it we find despotism. What has the 
comic poet to do ? The rules of his art compel him to end his play with 
a marriage ; but the reality which he has before his eyes gives the lie to 
the theory. Neither Orgon, M. Jourdain, Argan, nor Philaminte yield ; 
the young girls are sacrificed. Is it moreover likely that, in so unequal a 
struggle, victory should belong to the weaker? The parents have on their 
side authority, custom, the inflexibility of a foregone conclusion, the 
violence of an exclusive passion ; the poor child has only her tears and 
entreaties; very eloquent, it is true, and which, for one moment, move the 
hearts of the cruel parents, but the sacrifice is at last accomplished. Be- 
tween the theatrical law, which prescribed a happy ending, and the social 
law, which presented another, Moliere was obliged to take the first ; but 
he took it so unwillingly, and so grumpily, if we may say so, that we can 
perceive that the second ending seemed to him to be the only true one. 
Here the thinker betrays himself, and the work, outwardly so light and 
lively, discovers gloomy depths. It seems that Moliere cries to us : ' Do 
not believe in these happy endings ; you see that they are unlikely, impos- 
sible. No, the officer will not interfere to prevent Orgon from being 

1* Before the first French Revolution, marriage in France could take place only 
in church, and the priest could refuse or grant it ; now only the civil marriage is 
legal. But every child, whose parents are alive, must have their permission even 
now (1877), before he or she can legally marry ; and only when a young man is 
twenty-three and a young girl twenty years old, can they compel their parents to 
give mem that permission, by sending to them a legal officer with what is oddly 
enough called une sommation nspcctueust. 


robbed, or Tartuffe from entering the house into which she has stolen, or, 
perhaps, even the bed of the daughter of his victim. Tartuffe is stronger 
than Orgon ; Tartuffe will triumph. The fire from heaven will not fell 
upon Don Juan ; the old legend says so, but Don Juan will quietly con- 
tinue the course of his acts of scoundrelism, only he will put on the mask 
of religion, and, after having frightened people, he will edify them in order 
to deceive them better. The hypochondriac will not become a physician ; 
that is a funny excuse which I have imagined to rid myself of a difficulty ; 
he will take Diafoirus as his son-in-law, who will physic him for nothing. 
The Citizen who apes the Nobleman will not be taken in by the farce of 
the Mamamouchi : he will give his daughter to a friend of Dorante, to 
some ruined nobleman, who will ruin him, and laugh at him. Above all, 
do not believe that Celimene's gallants will leave her, indignant at her 
coquettish actions ; Celimene shall always have plenty of followers ; the 
more treacherous she is, the greater will be the desire to please her ; Al- 
ceste will come back the first, will throw himself at her feet, and beg her 
pardon ; she will only know solitude when she will be old and wrinkled. 
Justice is not of this world, sincerity is not of this world ; the strong and 
the wicked devour the good and the meek. Perhaps a poet will be born 
one day who will dare to show to society, society such as it is, but that day 
is yet far off ! I moralize and make fun as well as I can, about marriage, 
which is everything ; in two hundred years people will moralize still, but 
will no longer make fun. You shall behold your miseries face to face, 
and that will kill all joy in you. Has Moliere gone as far as this ? I do 
not know. Who can pretend to set limits to the man who has written 
The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, Don Juan ? For the last two hundred years 
the critics turn these strange works in and out, and in all directions, and 
have come to no conclusion as yet." 

Goethe says, in his Conversations, " a piece to be so constructed as to 
be fit for the theatre, must be symbolical, that is to say, each incident 
must be significant in itself, and lead to another still more important. The 
Tartuffe of Moliere is, in this respect, a great example. Only think what 
an introduction is the first scene ! From the very beginning, everything 
is highly significant, and leads us to expect something still more import- 
ant which is to come . . ! that of the Tartuffe comes only once into 
the world .... it is the greatest and best thing that exists of the kind." 

In another part of his works, the great German author says : '' The Tar- 
tuffe of Moliere makes us hate him ; he is a criminal who pretends, like a 
hypocrite, to be pious and moral, in order to ruin completely an honest 
family ; the ending by a police officer is therefore quite natural, and very 
well received. Latterly, this piece has been played again, and brought 
forward, because it served to show the underhand dealings of a certain 
class of men who threatened to pervert Government. It was not the beau- 
ty and genius of the work which were felt and applauded ; the play was 
only a hostile weapon ; the different parties were engaged, the one wished 
to destroy the evils which the other tried to spread. That which appeared 
striking in the piece, was that the subject is still of the day, and that it 
will never lose its effect, on account of the art with which it has been 

Moliere had the Tartuffe printed at his own cost, and corrected or wrote 
it so carefully, that there is hardly any difference between the first and the 
three following editions of this comedy. 

The German'dramatist, Karl Gutzkow, wrote in 1844, a comedy in five 
acts, and in prose, called Das Urbild des Tartuffe ( The Exemplar of Tar- 


tvffe), of which he admits that he planned it chiefly with a view to the 
circumstances which then took place in Germany, and to the severe mea- 
sures which the Government and police took, at that time, to suppress all 
obnoxious ideas in print. With the exception of a complete neglect of all 
historical accuracy, this play is very good, and the intrigue depends chief- 
ly on the interdiction to play the Tartuffe. The president, La Roquette, 
is the model of a Tartuffe, and he employs all the means in his power to 
prevent Moliere's play from being performed. Moliere, Louis XIV., and 
the minister of police, Lionne, are also chief characters in the German 
play, as well as La Chapelle, who, according to Gutzkow, is not the friend, 
but an envious enemy, of Moliere. The King is in love with Armande 
Bejart, who is engaged to be married to Moliere ; he refuses his consent 
to the performance of Tartuffe, because he has been informed that the 
expected profits of the comedy will serve for the buying of the trousseau 
of Armande. He gives his consent at last, because the actress has prom- 
ised to wear a blue neckerchief, if she will lend a favourable ear to his 
wishes, and in the contrary case a yellow one ; and Tartuffe is the only 
play which is ready to be acted, in which she can wear a neckerchief. In 
the fifth act, which takes place in the ante-chamber of the King's private 
box in the theatre, Moliere wears the dress of La Roquette, and is mis- 
taken for him, whilst the president is mistaken for the actor ; Armande 
refuses to listen to Louis XIV., who consoles himself with the thought of 
encouraging, in his own peculiar way, the budding talents and charms of 
her younger sister, Madeleine. Tartuffe is a success, and the hypocrite 
La Roquette ends the play with the following words : " They may drive 
us away like wolves ; we come back like foxes. Revenge yourselves ! 
Revenge yourselves ! We shall do the same. (In a very humble voice) I 
shall enter the order of Jesuits.' 1 

Goldoni, the Italian dramatist, wrote also a play called Moliere, of which 
he gives an outline in his autobiography, where he says " I was ac- 
quainted with Moliere, and respected this master of the art as highly as 
the Piedmontese, and I was seized instantly with a desire to give them a 
convincing proof of it. I immediately composed a comedy in five acts, 
and in Verse, without masks or change of scene, of which the title and 
principal subject were Moliere himself. The argument was taken from 
two anecdotes of his private life ; the one, his projected marriage with Isa- 
belle, the daughter of Bejart ; and the other, the prohibition of his Tar- 
tuffe. These two historical facts accord so well together, that the unity 
of action is perfectly observed. The impostors of Paris, alarmed at the 
comedy of Moliere, knew that the author had sent to the camp, where 
Louis XIV., then was, to obtain permission for its representation, and 
they were afraid lest the revocation of the prohibition should be obtained. 

" I employed in my piece a person of the name of Pirlon, a hypocrite 
in every sense of the word, who introduces himself into the author's 
house, discovers to La Bejart Moliere's love for her daughter, of which 
she was yet ignorant, engages her to quit her companion and director ; be- 
haves in the same manner to Isabelle, holding up to her the situation of 
an actress as the road to perdition, and endeavours to seduce La Foret, 
their waiting-woman, who, more adroit than her mistresses, dupes the 
duper, inspires him with a love for her, and takes his cloak and hat from 
him to give to Moliere, who appears on the stage with the dress of the 
impostor. I was bold enough to exhibit it in my piece, a much more 
marked hypocrite than that of Moliere ; but hypocrites had then lost a 
great deal of their ancient credit in Italy. 


" During the interval between the fourth and last act of my comedy, 
iheTartu/^e of Moliere is acted in the theatre of the Hotel de Bourgogne ; 
all the characters of my piece make their appearance in the fifth act, for 
the purpose of complimenting Moliere ; Pirlon, concealed in a closet, 
where he was expecting La Foret, is forced to come forth in the presence 
of the spectators, and is assailed with the sarcasms which he so richly de- 
served : and Moliere, to add to his joy and happiness, marries Isabelle, in 
spite of the mother, who aspired to the conquest of her future son-in-law. 

" In this piece are to be found several details of the life of Moliere. 
The character of Valerio is Baron, an actor of Moliere's company. 
Leander is a copy of La Chapelle, a friend of the author, and often men- 
tioned in the account of his life. . . . This work is in verse. ... As the 
subject was a French author, who wrote largely in that style, it became 
necessary to imitate him." 

I have read Goldoni's play, and do not think that he has either suc- 
ceeded in giving a good idea of the character of Moliere, or of a hypo- 
crite. Moliere, in the Italian play, in a conversation with Valerio (Act 
iv. scene 8) says, " Philosophy teaches us, and experience proves it to us, 
that no other love exists here below but self-love." This is certainly not 
in conformity with Moliere's life. Pirlon, the hypocrite, when discovered 
repents, and begs pardon on his knees ; and this also Tartuffe would not 
have done. Mercier has remodelled and altered the Moliere of Goldoni 
for the French stage ; where it was represented, but it did not meet with 
much success. 

In the fifth volume of the "Select Comedies of M. de Moliere, Lon- 
don, 1732," is found a translation of Tartuffe, under the name of The 
Impostor, written by Mr. Martin Clare, a schoolmaster. He dedicates it 
to Mr. Wyndham, of Clower-Wall, in Gloucestershire, who appears to 
have had '' a very promising eldest son," a pupil of the pedagogue, and 
who was going to play a part in the translation of Moli&re's comedy. 
Unforeseen circumstances prevented this piece being brought out; but 
Mr. Clare I suppose with an eye to future favours says that the young 
gentleman would, he knows, have done ' great justice to any one of the 
parts." Mr. Clare might, like Hamlet, exclaim, " O my prophetic soul." 
The dedication is as follows : 


I take leave to offer You the Fruit of a few leisure Hours, spent in translating 
one of the most celebrated pieces of the famous Moliere. It was first intended to 
be exhibited as a publick Exercise by my YOUNG GENTLEMAN (in which Your 
very promising eldest son, whose Tuition You have been pleased to intrust me 
with, would, I know do great Justice to any one of the Parts) but on Account of the 
useful Publication of this excellent Comic Writer, I am inclin'd to send it into the 
world under Your Patronage and Protection. 

The Original has occasionally given Offence to the Body of Zealots and Hypo- 
crites in France, and wherever else their Numbers were considerable ; but from 
its intrinsick Merit, the Truth of the Drawing, and Justness of the colouring, this 
particular Piece has never wanted for Patrons, among Persons of the greatest 
Sense, Virtue, Learning, and Taste, to support it against the violent Opposition it 
has met with. 

What Success the Translation may have I cannot foresee. But as it is thrown 
under the Guardianship of a Gentleman, who, both in publick and private Life, 
has always been a profess'd Enemy to Artifice, Disguise, and Fraud, I _am en- 
courag'd to hope, that a moderate Version of a Piece, wherein those Vices are 
finely expos'd will not be, for Your sake, ill received by the Publick. I am with 
creat Regard, SIR, Your most Obliged, and Obedient. Humble Servant, 


Academy in Soh-> Square. London, "July 25, 1732. 


There is also a Prologue to Mr. Clare's Impostor, spoken by a young 
gentleman of the Academy in Soho Square, when acted there in the year 
1726 ; and an Epilogue spoken by another young gentleman in the char- 
acter of " Madam Parnelle," which I doubt very much if any school- 
master would let one of his pupils recite at the present time. 

Matthew Melbourne, an actor of considerable eminence, belonging to 
the Duke of York's theatre in the reign of King Charles II., wrote a 
translation, in blank verse, of the Tartuffe; which he dedicated to tin- 
Right Honourable Henry, Lord Howard of Norfolk. The translator, a 
Roman Catholic, seems to have been accused, by the well known Dr. Ti- 
tus Gates, of complicity in the supposed Catholic plot, for he was impris- 
oned, and died in Newgate in 1679. His translation, called Tartuffe, or 
the French Puritan Puritan stands for Huguenot was acted at the The- 
atre-Royal, 1670, and, according to the author's account, seems to have 
met with great success. There are several new scenes added in the Eng- 
lish play which are not found in the original comedy, and which certainly 
do not improve it. They are the following : At the end of the first act 
of The French Puritan, Laurence, Tartuffe's man-servant, and Dorina, 
the waiting-maid, meet; he behaves rather rudely to her; but she dis- 
covers that he is not a servant, but a confederate of his supposed master, 
because he addresses the latter only by his name. Tartuffe who, in the 
original play, does not appear until the second scene of the third act, in 
this translation, "passes (now) over the stage in a demure posture." In 
the fifth scene of the second act of the English play, Laurence confesses 
to Dorina that he is not so holy as he seems ; and in order to prove it 
sings a very indecent song. In the eighth scene of the third act, Tartuffe 
unfolds his plans broadly to Laurence ; whilst, in the ninth scene of the 
same act, Madame Pernelle expresses her delight to " Flypote" that her 
grandson is disinherited in favour of Tartuffe. In the second scene of the 
fourth act, Laurence advises Dorina to procure a meeting between Elmire 
and Tartuffe, and to let Orgon be a secret witness of it. In the original 
French play, Elmire plans the meeting herself. The fifth act of The 
French Puritan differs also from Moliere's comedy ; Laurence betrays his 
master, and produces the cabinet and writings which Tartuffe had appro- 
priated ; and then all the characters of the play end with a dance ! 

Crowne wrote a play, The English Friar, acted in 1690, of which the 
hypocrite, Father Finical, is certainly suggested by Tartuffe. Nobody 
can read the last scene of the fifth act of the English play without becom- 
ing convinced of this. Some of the very words of Tartuffe, Crowne 
puts into Finical's mouth. 

The Nonjuror, a very successful comedy, by Colley Gibber, acted at 
Drury Lane, Dec. 6th, 1717, is another imitation of Tartuffe. In the 
dedication to the King, Gibber, with an eye to business, says that " the 
Sullen and Disaffected, .... for want of proper Amusement, often enter 
into Wild and Seditious Schemes to reform." Of course, the most pro- 
per amusement is the Theatre, and to prove this further, he says : " It 
has even discovered the Strength and Number to be much less than may 

have been artfully insinuated of which your Majesty may have 

lately seen an Instance, in the Insuppressible acclamations that were 
given on your appearing to Honour this Play with your Royal Presence. 1 ' 
For this dedication, Gibber received two hundred pounds from George I. 
Dr. Wolff is a close copy from the French original, although the English 
dramatist says (in his Apology) that it was his intention to pourtray " an 
English popish priest lurking under the doctrine of our own church, to 


raise his fortune upon the ruin of a worthy gentleman, whom his dissem- 
bled sanctity had seduced into the treasonable cause of a Roman Catho- 
lic outlaw.'' The parts of Dorinathe waiting-maid, Cleante, and Madame 
Pernelle are omitted; but that of Marianne (Maria) is improved, and has 
been made one of the best coquettes on the stage. Gibber has been ac- 
cused of having stolen the plot, characters, incidents, and most part of 
the language from Medbourne ; but this is untrue. What he has taken 
from him is the servant Charles (Laurence), who also betrays his mas- 
ter. The prologue of The Nonjuror, written by Rowe, is chiefly ad- 
dressed to the Jacobites, and ends thus : 

" Ship off, ye Slaves, and seek some passive Land, 
Where Tyrants after your own Hearts command, 
To your Transalpine Master's Rule resort, 
And fill an empty abdicated Court. 
Turn your Possessions here to ready Rhino, 
And buy ye Lands and Lordships at Urbino." 

Macaulay in his History of England, 8vo, 1855, Vol. III., ch. xiv., 
"General character of the Nonjuring Clergy,'' states, "the public voice 
loudly accused many nonjurors of requiting the hospitality of their bene- 
factors with villany as black as that of the hypocrite depicted in the mas- 
terpiece of Moliere. Indeed, when Gibber undertook to adapt that noble 
comedy to the English stage, he made his Tartuffe a nonjuror ; and 
Johnson, who cannot be supposed to have been prejudiced against the 
nonjurors, frankly owned that Gibber had done them no wrong.'' 

According to Maidment and Logan's Introductory Notice to The 
English Friar, Gibber owed a great deal of his success to Crowne's play : 
" For instance, Father Finical becomes a bishop, so does Dr. Wolff; both 
priests are of an amorous complexion ; Finical courts the maid, Wolff 
the mistress, both are detected, and pretty much in the same manner. 
The Biographia Dramatica says, ' The Coquet Maria is truly original, 
and most elegantly spirited ; ' is not this precisely the character of Laura, 
the eldest daughter of Lord Stately, who is described amongst the Dra- 
matis Personal ' a great Gallant and Coquet ? ' Not to multiply points of ' 
resemblance, it is plain that Gibber had some remembrance of The English 
Friar when he was preparing the Nonjuror for the stage." 

It is said that Pope wrote " a Compleate Key to The Nonjuror," under 
the name of Joseph Guy, in which a comparison is drawn and not in 
the choicest language between Moliere's Tartuffe and Gibber's Nonjuror, 
greatly and justly so to the disadvantage of the latter. Among other 
compliments, it is said : " Mr. Gibber did not want an old woman to 
strengthen the bigotry of her weak son (Gibber had not plagiarized Ma- 
dame Pernelle), and therefore has made that son a very old woman." 

On June zoth. 1718, Medbourne's translation of Tartuffe, which had 
not been acted for thirty years, was performed at Lincoln's Inn-Fields, 
with a prologue, said to be written by Pope in imitation of Rowe, and 
ending almost in his very words, thus : 

" Ship off, ye Saints, and seek some righteous Land, 
Where Pastors after your own Hearts command; 
Like Criminals adjudg'd to leave the nation, 
Go, take the Benefit of Transportation. 
Turn your possessions here to ready Rhino, 
And Preach abroad by Jure non Divino." 


Isaac Bickerstaffe altered Colley Gibber's play, and called it The Hypo- 
crite, which was acted at Drury Lane on the I7th of November 1768. 
This is The Nonjuror, with the names altered, the bitter attacks against 
Jacobites and Nonjurors, and a good deal of the spirit left out, Madame 
Pernelle (old Lady Lambert), from Tartuffe, added, and a new cha- 
racter, which I venture to think very vulgar Mawworm, inserted. 
The hypocrite is called Dr. Cantwell, the credulous Orgon, Sir John Lam- 
bert, and the coquette, Charlotte. 

Sheridan, in The School for Scandal, has partly imitated Tartuffe in 
Joseph Surface, and the third scene of the fourth act of his play seems 
to me based upon the fifth scene of the fourth act of Tartuffe ; it is 
only based upon, not borrowed from, Moliere. 

Mr. John Oxenford, the eminent theatrical critic, has also written a 
translation of Tartuffe, in blank verse, which was performed, with great 
success, some years ago, at the Adelphi Theatre, London ; this play has 
never been printed. 


THIS is a comedy about which there has been a great deal ot 
noise, which has been for a long time persecuted ; and the 
people whom it holds up have well shown that they are the 
most powerful in France of all those whom I have hitherto 
portrayed. The marquises, the blue stockings, the cuckolds 
and the doctors, have quietly suffered themselves to be repre- 
sented, and have pretended to be amused, in common with all 
the world, at the sketches which I have made of them ; but 
the hypocrites have not taken the joke. At first they were 
somewhat amazed, and found it strange that I should have 
had the presumption to make free with their grimaces, and 
wish to decry a trade much indulged in by honest people. It 
is a crime which they could not pardon me, and they have all 
risen 'up in arms against my comedy with a terrible fury. 
They took particular care not to attack it from a point of view 
where it wounded them they have too much policy for that, 
and are too knowing to lay bare the bottoms of their hearts. 
In accordance with their laudable customs, they have con- 
cealed their interests beneath the cloak of God's cause ; and 
to listen to them, The Tartuffe is a piece that offends piety. 
It is, from beginning to end, full of abominations, and nothing 
is found in it but what deserves the fire. Every syllable in it 
is impious ; the gesticulations themselves are criminal ; and 
the least glance of the eye, the slightest shake of the head, 
conceal mysteries which they find means to explain to my 

Of little avail was it to submit it to the criticism of my 
friends, and to the censorship of the public ; the corrections 
which I have made, the judgment of the King and the Queen, 
who have seen it ; the approbation of the great princes and 

18 This preface was written for the first edition of the Tartuffe, in 1669, and is 
therefore posterior to the petitions given in the Introductory Notice to this play. 



the great ministers, who honoured the performance with their 
presence; the testimony of people of worth, who found it in- 
structing all this was of no use. They will not abate one 
jot; and they still continue, every day, to set their indiscreet 
zealots on me in public, who piously load me with insults, and 
charitably consign me to perdition. 

I would care very little for what they could say, were it not 
for their artfulness in bringing people whom I respect to be at 
enmity with me, and in enlisting among their ranks the truly 
good, whose good faith they take advantage of, and who, by 
the warmth of their interest in the cause of Heaven, are apt to 
receive the impresssions which they wish to give them. It is 
this which compels me to defend myself. It is with the truly 
pious that I everywhere wish to justify myself as to the ar- 
rangement of my comedy ; and I implore them, with all my 
heart, not to condemn things before they have seen them, to 
divest themselves of all bias, and not to be the tool of the pas- 
sions of those whose grimaces are a disgrace to them. 

If they will take the trouble to examine my comedy in good 
faith, they will perceive, doubtless, the honesty of my inten- 
tions everywhere, and that it is not intended to hold sacred 
things up to ridicule ; that I have treated it with every precau- 
tion which the delicacy of the subject required ; and that I 
have employed every possible art and care plainly to show 
the difference between the character of the hypocrite and that 
of the truly devout. For this purpose I have devoted two en- 
tire acts to prepare my audience for the advent of my scoun- 
drel. He does not make the spectator waver for an instant ; 
he is known immediately by the marks which I have given 
him ; and, from first to last, he does not utter a word, nor 
make a movement, but what depicts to the beholder the char- 
acter of a wicked man, in violent contrast to the really good 
one whom I have placed in opposition to him. 

I am well aware that, in reply, those gentlemen have en- 
deavoured to insinuate that the stage is not fit for the discus- 
sion of these subjects ; but, by their leave, I ask them upon 
what they base this beautiful maxim. It is a theory which 
they only advance, and which they do not prove by any 
means ; and it would doubtless, not be difficult to show them 
that, with the ancients comedy derived its origin from religion, 
and was a part of their mysteries ; that the Spaniards, our 
neighbours, never celebrate a feast in which comedy is not 
mixed up ; and that, even amongst us it owes its birth to the 
cares of a brotherhood to which the h&tel de Bourgogne still 
belongs ; that it was a place given to them to represent in it 
the most important mysteries of our faith; that comedies 
printed in Gothic characters, under the name of a doctor of 


the Sorbonne, may still be seen there ; and, without carrying 
the matter so far, that, in our days, sacred pieces of M. de 
Corneille 17 have been performed, which were the admiration 
of the whole of France. If it be the aim of comedy to correct 
man's vices, then I do not see for what reason there should be 
a privileged class. Such a one is, in the State, decidedly 
more dangerous in its consequences than any other ; and we 
have seen that the stage possesses a great virtue as a correct- 
ive medium. The most beautiful passages in a serious moral 
are most frequently less powerful than those of a satire ; and 
nothing admonishes the majority of people better than the 
pourtrayal of their faults. To expose vices to the ridicule of all 
the world is a severe blow to them. Reprehensions are easily 
suffered, but not so ridicule. People do not mind being 
wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous. 

The reproach against me is that I have put pious terms in 
the mouth of my impostor. How could I avoid it, wishing to 
represent the character of a hypocrite accurately ? It is suffi- 
cient, I think, that I show the criminal motives which make 
him say these things, and that I have eliminated from them 
the sacred terms, the bad use of which might have caused 
pain. 18 " But in the fourth act he gives vent to a pernicious 
moral." But has not this moral been dinned into everybody's 
ears ? 19 Does it say aught that is new in my comedy ? And 
is there any fear that things so universally detested shall leave 
any impression on men's minds ? that I can make them dan- 
gerous by introducing them on the stage ; that they are likely 
to receive any authority from the lips of a scoundrel ? There 
is not the least indication of that ; and one ought to approve 
the comedy of Tartuffe, or condemn all comedies wholesale. 

It is that which people have attacked furiously of late ; and 
never has the stage been so furiously tilted at. I cannot deny 
that there have been Fathers of the Church who have con- 
demned comedy ; but neither can it be denied to me that 
there have been some who have treated it more leniently. 
Thus the authority upon which people seek to found their 
censorship is destroyed by this division ; and all that can be 
deduced from this diversity of opinions in equally enlightened 
minds, is that they have regarded comedy from a different 
point of view, and that while some have looked at it in its 
purifying influence, others have considered it in its corrupting 

w Polyeucte ; and Thtodore, virgin and martyr. 

18 Moliere alludes here to a line of Tartuffe, in the eighth scene of the third act, 
which was in the first representation, " Forgive him, O Heaven ! as I forgive 

19 Moliere speaks of the false casuistical morals attacked by Pascal in the sev- 
enth Provinciale. 


tendency, and confounded it with those vile spectacles, rightly 
named exhibitions of turpitude. 

And in fact, since we have to argue upon things, and not 
upon words; and that the majority of contradictions cannot 
well be reconciled, and that the same word often envelops two 
opposite meanings, we have but to lift the veil of the equivo- 
cal, and to look what comedy is in itself, to see whether it is 
to be condemned. It is, doubtless, well known that, being 
nothing else but an ingenious poem, which, by its agreeable 
teaching, seeks to point out the faults of mankind, it does not 
deserve to be so unjustly censured ; and if we may listen on 
that point to the testimony of antiquity, it will tell us that her 
most famous philosophers have eulogized comedy ; they who 
professed such austere wisdom, and who were incessantly de- 
crying the vices of their age. It will show us that Aristotle 
devoted many of his vigils to the theatre, and took the trouble 
to reduce to precept the art of constructing comedies. It will 
teach us that her greatest men, foremost in dignity, have glo- 
ried in composing some themselves ; that there were others 
who did not disdain to recite in public those which they had 
composed ; that Greece proclaimed her appreciation of that 
art by the glorious prizes she awarded to, and the magnificent 
theatres she built in honour of it ; and lastly, that in Rome this 
same art was crowned with extraordinary honours. I do not 
say in debauched Rome, under the licentious emperors, but in 
disciplined Rome, under the wisdom of her consuls, and at 
the most vigorous period of Roman virtue. 

I admit that there have been times in which comedy be- 
came corrupt. And what is there in this world that does not 
become corrupt every day ? There is nothing so pure but 
what mankind can bring crime to bear upon it ; no art so sal- 
utary but what they can reverse its intentions ; nothing so 
good in itself but what they can turn to a bad use. Medicine 
is a profitable art, and every one esteems it as one of the most 
excellent things in existence ; and yet there have been periods 
in which it has made itself odious, and has often been used to 
poison people. Philosophy is a gift of Heaven; it was given 
to us to lead our minds to the knowledge of God by the con- 
templation of nature's wonders ; still we are not unaware that 
it has often been diverted from its use, and employed openly 
to support impiety. Even the most sacred things are not safe 
from men's corruption ; and we see the greatest scoundrels 
daily abusing piety, and wickedly making it the tool for the 
most abominable crimes. But for all that, we do not fail to 
make those distinctions which it is right we should make. 
We do not envelop in the same warp of a false deduction the 
good of the thing corrupted with the malice of the cor- 


rupter. We always separate the bad use from the honest 
intention of art, and no more than we would dream of defend- 
ing the banishment of medicine from Rome, or the public 
condemnation of philosophy at Athens, ought we to put a veto 
upon comedy for having been censured at certain times. 
This censuring had its reasons which have no existence here. 
It confined itself strictly to what it saw ; and we ought, there- 
fore, not to drag it beyond the limits which it has adopted, 
extend it farther than necessary, or make it class the guilty 
with the innocent. The comedy which it designed to attack 
is not at all the comedy which we wish to defend. We must 
take good care not to confound the one with the other. They 
are two persons whose morals are totally opposed. They bear 
no relation to each other except the resemblance of the name ; 
and it would be a crying injustice to wish to condemn Olym- 
pia, who is an honest woman, because there was another 
Olympia, who was a loose character. 20 Such verdicts would, 
doubtless, produce a great disorder in the world. Everything 
would be open to condemnation ; and, since this rigour is not 
carried out with reference to all other things which are daily 
abused, we ought to extend the same grace to comedy, and 
approve those plays in which instruction and honesty are 
made manifest. 

I am well aware that there are certain minds whose delicacy 
can tolerate no comedy whatsoever ; who say that the most 
honest ones are the most dangerous; that the passions which 
they depict are so much the more touching because they are 
full of virtue ; and that people are too much affected by this 
kind of representations. I do not see any great crime in be- 
coming affected at the sight of an honourable passion : or that 
the complete state of insensibility to which they would elevate 
our feelings would indicate a high standard of virtue. I am 
inclined to doubt whether such great perfection be in the 
power of human nature, and whether it would not be better to 
endeavour to rectify and mollify men's passions, than to elim- 
inate them altogether. I admit that there are places which it 
would be more salutary to frequent than theatres ; and if we 
take it for granted that all things that do not directly concern 
God and our salvation are reprehensible, then it becomes cer- 
tain that comedy should be one of them, and I for one could 
not object that it should be condemned among the rest. But 
let us suppose, as it is true, that there must be intervals to 

It has been said that Moliere, in mentioning the name of Olympia, wished to 
hit at Olympia Maldachini, a sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X. This Pope died 
in 1655, and was the author of the bull against the five propositions of Tansemus. 
The life of the lady, who was far from a saint, had only lately been translated from 
the Italian into French. 


pious devotions, and that we have need of amusement during 
that time, then I maintain that nothing more innocent than 
comedy could be found. I have digressed too far. Let me 
wind up with the remark of a great prince 21 on the comedy of 
Tartuffe. A week after it had been forbidden, there was 
performed before the court a piece entitled Scaramouch, a her- 
mit and the King, coming out of the theatre, said to the 
prince of whom I have just spoken, " I should like to know 
why the people, who are so very much shocked at the comedy 
of Moliere, do not say a word about Scaramouch" to which 
the prince answered, " The reason of that is, that the comedy 
of Scaramouch makes game of Heaven and religion, about 
which these gentlemen care very little ; but Moliere' s makes 
game of them ; it is that which they cannot tolerate.'' 

The Prince de Conde. 

25 The farce of Scaramouch, a hermit contained many indecent situations; 
amongst others, that of a monk entering by the balcony into the house of a married 
woman, and reappearing from time to time before the public, saying, " Questo e per 
tnorti ficar la came." 


ORGON, husband to Elmire.^ 

DAMIS, his son. 

VALERE, Mariane's lover. 

CLEANTE, Organ's brother-in-law. 


M. LOYAL, a tipstaff. 


ELMIRE, Organ's wife. 

MADAME PERNELLE, Organ's mother. 

MARIANNE, Organ's daughter. 

DORINE, her maid. 

FLIPOTE, Madame Perne lie's servant. 

The scene is in PARIS, in ORGON'S HOUSE. 

"This part was played *by Moliere himself. In the inventory taken 
after Moliere's death, we find " the dress for Orgon consisting of a doublet, 
breeches, and cloak of black venitienne, the cloak lined with tabby, and 
adorned with English lace, the garters, rosettes of the shoes, and the 
shoes adorned in the same manner." Madame Moliere played the part 
of Elmire. 

M The original has sergent. The tipstaffs of the upper court were 
called huissiers; in Paris, huissiers <J verge; and of a lower court, ser- 

18 The original has exempt, from the verb exemfiter, to be free from, be- 

ormerly non-commissioned officers of the cavalry, who commanded 

ie absence of their superiors, were free from all other duties, and were 

exempt; such officers commanded the marechaussee or prevotai guard 

when it arrested anyone. 





M. PER. Come along, Flipote, gome along ; let us get 
rid of them. 

ELM. You walk so fast, that one can hardly keep up 
with you. 

M. PER. Do not trouble yourself, daughter-in-law, do 
not trouble yourself, do not come any farther ; there is no 
need for all this ceremony. 

ELM. We only give you your due. But pray, mother, 
why are you in such haste to leave us? 

M. PER. Because I cannot bear to see such goings on. 
No one cares to please me. I leave your house very little 
edified : all my advice is despised ; nothing is respected, 
every one has his say aloud, and it is just like the court of 
King Petaud. 26 

18 Petaud, from the Latin j>eto, I ask, was formerly, the name of the chief 
of the beggars in France. As his subordinates were very unruly, a house 
where everybody gave orders was called figuratively " the court of King 
Pe'taud." In Mr. Clare's translation, mentioned in the Introductory 
Notice, this court is called " Dover's Court." 



DOR. If . . . 

M. PER. You are, my dear, a little too much of a talker, 
and a great deal too saucy for a waiting maid. You give 
your advice about everything. 

DAM. But . . . 

M. PER. Four letters spell your name, my child, a 
"fool:" I, your grandmother, tell you so; and I have 
already predicted to my son, your father, a hundred times, 
that you are fast becoming a good-for-nothing, who will 
give him nought but trouble. 

MAR. I think . . . 

M. PER. Good-lack ! grand-daughter, you play the 
prude, and to look at you, butter would not melt in your 
mouth. But still waters run deep, as the saying is; and 
I do not like your sly doings at all. 

ELM. But, mother . . . 

M. PER. By your leave, daughter-in-law, your whole 
conduct is altogether wrong ; you ought to set them a 
good example ; and their late mother managed them a 
great deal better. You are extravagant ; and it disgusts 
me to see you decked out like a princess. 27 The woman 
who wishes to please her husband only, daughter-in-law, 
has no need of so much finery. 

CLE. But after all, Madam . . . 

M. PER. As for you, Sir, who are her brother, I esteem, 
love, and respect you very much; but, nevertheless, if I 
were my son and her husband, I would beg of you 
earnestly not to enter our house. You are always laying 
down maxims which respectable people ought not to follow. 
I speak to you rather frankly ; but it is a way I have got,' 
and I do not mince my words when I have something on 
my mind. 

DAM. Your Mr. Tartuffe is an angel, no doubt . . . 

M. PER. He is a very worthy man, who ought to be lis- 

27 According to Grimarest's Vie de Moliere, our author went into the 
dressing-room of his wife who was going to play the part of Elmire a 
quarter of an hour before the piece began. He found her clothed in a 
magnificent dress, which she had put on, without telling her husband of 
it. Moliere insisted that she should put it off, and take one more in ac- 
cordance with Elmire's character. I am afraid that this anecdote rests 
only on mere tradition; still it proves that Mrs. Orgon was too well 
dressed to suit even the taste of her mother-in-law. 


tened to ; and I cannot, without getting angry, suffer him 
to be sneered at by a fool like you. 

DAM. What ! am I to allow a censorious bigot to usurp 
an absolute authority in this house ! and shall we not be 
permitted to amuse ourselves, unless that precious gentle- 
man condescends to give us leave ! 

DOR. If any one were to listen to him and believe in 
his maxims, one could not do anything without commit- 
ting a sin ; for he controls everything, this carping critic. 

M. PER. And whatever he does control, is well con- 
trolled. He wishes to lead you on the road to Heaven : 
and my son ought to make you all love him. 

DAM. No, look here, grandmother, neither father nor 
anyone else shall ever induce me to look kindly upon him. 
I should belie my heart to say otherwise. His manners 
every moment enrage me ; I can foresee the consequence, 
and one time or other I shall have to come to an open 
quarrel with this low-bred fellow. 28 

DOR. Certainly, it is a downright scandal to see a 
stranger exercise such authority in this house ; to see a 
beggar, who, when he came, had not a shoe to his foot, 
and whose whole dress may have been worth twopence, so 
far forget himself as to cavil at everything, and to assume 
the authority of a master. 

M. PER. Eh ! mercy on me ! things would go on much 
better if everything were managed according to his pious 

DOR. He passes for a saint in your opinion ; but believe 
me, he is nothing but a hypocrite. 

M. PER. What a tongue ! 

DOR. I should not like to trust myself with him, nor 
with his man Laurent, without a good guarantee. 

M. PER. I do not know what the servant may be at 
heart ; but as for the master, I will vouch for him as a 
good man. You bear him ill-will, and only reject him be- 
cause he tells all of you the truth. It is against sin that 
his heart waxes wroth, and his only motive is the interest 
of Heaven. 

18 The original has pied-plat, flat foot, I suppose on account of an 
imaginary connection between a high instep and aristocratic descent. 


DOR. Ay; but why, particularly for some time past, 
can he not bear any one to come to the house ? What is 
there offensive to Heaven in a civil visit, that there must 
be a noise about it fit to split one's ears? Between our- 
selves, do you wish me to explain? . . . {Pointing to El- 
mire). Upon my word, I believe him to be jealous of my 

M. PER. Hold your tongue, and mind what you say. It 
is not he only who blames these visits. All the bustle of 
these people who frequent this house, these carriages ever- 
lastingly standing at the door, and the noisy crowd of so 
many servants, cause a great disturbance in the whole 
neighbourhood. I am willing to believe that there is 
really no harm done ; but people will talk of it, and that 
is not right. 

CLE. Alas, Madam, will you prevent people talking? 
It would be a very hard thing if, in life, for the sake of 
the foolish things which may be said about us, we had to 
renounce our best friends. And even if we could resolve 
to do so, do you think we could compel every one to hold 
his tongue ? There is no protection against slander. Let 
us, therefore, pay no regard to all this silly tittle-tattle ; 
let us endeavour to live honestly, and leave the gossips to 
say what they please. 

DOR. May not Daphne, our neighbour, and her little 
husband, be those who speak ill of us ? They whose own 
conduct is the most ridiculous are always the first to slan- 
der others. They never fail to catch eagerly at the slight- 
est rumour of a love-affair, to spread the news of it with 
joy, and to give it the turn which they want. They think 
to justify their own actions before the world by those of 
others, painted in colours of their choosing, either in the 
false expectation of glossing over their own intrigues with 
some semblance of innocence, or else by making to fall 
elsewhere some part of that public blame with which they 
are too heavily burdened." 

M. PER. All these arguments are nothing to the pur- 

89 This is said to be an allusion to Olympia Mancini, Countess de Sois- 
sons, who spread a report, and even informed the queen, of the rising 
love of Louis XIV. for Mademoiselle de la Valliere. See Introductory 
Notice to The Princess of Elis. 


pose. Orante is known to lead an exemplary life. All 
her cares tend to Heaven ; and I have learned by people 
that she strongly condemns the company who visit here. 

DOR. An admirable pattern indeed, and she is very 
good, this lady ! It is true that she lives very austerely ; 
but age has put this ardent zeal into her breast ; people 
know that she is a prude, against her own will. She 
enjoyed her advantages well enough as long as she was 
capable of attracting attentions ; but, seeing the lustre of 
her eyes become somewhat dim, she renounces the world 
which is renouncing her, and conceals under the pompous 
cloak of lofty wisdom, the decay of her worn-out charms. 
These are the vicissitudes of coquettes in our time. They 
find it hard to see their admirers desert them. Thus 
forsaken, their gloomy anxiety sees no other resource but 
that of prudery ; and the severity of these good women 
censures everything and pardons nothing. 30 Loudly they 
blame everyone's life, not through charity, but through 
envy, which cannot bear another to enjoy those pleasures 
for which their age gives them no longer a relish. 81 

M. PER. {To Elmire). These are cock-and-bull stories, 
made to please you, daughter-in-law. One is obliged to 
keep silence here, for Madam keeps the ball rolling all 
day. But I also will have my say in my turn. I tell you 
that my son has never done-anything more sensible than in 
receiving this devout personage in his house; that Heaven 
itself, in time of need, has sent him here to reclaim all 
your erring minds; that for your salvation's sake, you 
ought to listen to him; and that he censures nothing but 
what is reprehensible. These visits, these balls, these 
conversations, are all inventions of the evil one. One 

80 This is said to be a hit at the Duchess de Navailles (see Introductory 
Notice to TTte Princess of Elis), who caused iron railings to be placed at 
the entrance of the rooms of the maids of honour, in order to prevent 
Louis XIV. from visiting Mademoiselle de Lamothe Houdancourt. The 
duchess owed her fortune to Cardinal Mazarin, whose intrigues she had 
aided during the troubles of the Fronde, when she was Mademoiselle de 

11 The Lettre sur I'/mposteur (see Introductory Notice to this play) 
mentions a couplet of Madame Pernelle, and a biting answer of Cteante, 
which were spoken at the first representation of Tartnffe, then called 
F/mposteur, and which, no doubt, Moliere afterwards suppressed. 


never hears a pious word uttered at any of them ; nothing 
but tittle-tattle, nonsense, and silly prattle. Very often 
our neighbour comes in for his share of it, and there is 
back-biting going on right and left. In short, sensible 
people have their heads turned by the confusion of such 
meetings. A thousand idle stories are told in no time; 
and, as a certain doctor said very aptly the other day, it 
is a perfect tower of Babylon, 32 for every one chatters to 
his heart's content; and to show you what brought this 
up. . . . (Pointing to Cleante}. But here is this gentle- 
man giggling already ! Go and look for some fools to 
laugh at, and without . . . (To Elmire). Good bye, 
daughter-in-law ; I will say no more. I make you a 
present of the rest, but it will be a fine day when I set 
my foot in your house again. (Slapping Flipote 1 s face). 
Come along you, you stand dreaming and gaping here. 
Ods bobs ! I shall warm your ears for you. March on, 
slut, march on. 


CLE. I shall not go with her, for fear she should fall foul 
of me again ; that this good lady . . . 

DOR. Ah ! it is a pity that she does not hear you say so : 
she would tell you that you are good, but that she is not 
yet old enough to be called so. 

CLE. How she fired up against us for nothing ! And 
how infatuated she seems with her Tartuffe ! 

DOR. Oh ! indeed, all this is nothing compared with the 
son : and if you saw him, you would say it is much worse. 
During our troubles 33 he acted like a man of sense, and 
displayed some courage in the service of his prince; 34 but 
since he has grown so fond of this Tartuffe, he is become 
a perfect dolt. He calls him brother, and loves him in 

3:1 Madame Pernelle says " the Tower of Babylon," instead of " the 
Tower of Babel.'' A certain Jesuit, Caussin (1583-1651), wrote in one 
of his books, The Holy Court, that " men built the tower of Babel, and 
women the tower of Babble (Babil)." 

33 This refers to the troubles of the Fronde, during the minority of 
Louis XIV. 

w The Lettre sur I' Imposteur shows that this play was originally some- 
what different here. 


his very soul a hundred times better than either mother, 
son, daughter, or wife. He is the sole confidant of all his 
secrets, and the prudent director of all his actions ; he 
caresses him, embraces him ; and one could show no more 
affection, I think, to a mistress. He will have him seated 
at the upper end of the table, and is delighted to see him 
eat as much as half a dozen ; the choicest morsels of every- 
thing must be given to him; and, if he happens to belch, 
he says to him "God preserve you." 35 In short, he is 
crazy about him ; he is his all, his hero; he admires every- 
thing he does, he quotes him on all occasions ; he looks 
upon his most trifling actions as miracles, and every word 
he utters is considered an oracle. The other, who knows 
his dupe, and wishes to make the most of him, has the art 
of dazzling him by a hundred deceitful appearances. His 
pretended devotion draws money from him at every hour 
of the day ; and assumes the right of commenting upon 
the conduct of every one of us. Even the jackanapes, his 
servant, pretends also to read us a lesson ; he comes 
preaching to us with fierce looks, and throws away our 
ribbons, our paint, and our patches. Only the other day, 
the wretch tore a handkerchief which he had found be- 
tween the leaves of " The Flower of the Saints,'" M saying 
that it was a dreadful sin to bring these holy things into 
contact with the devil's deckings. 


ELM. (To Cleante). You are very fortunate not to 
have assisted at the speech to which she treated us at the 
door. But I have just seen my husband ; and as he did 
not see me, I shall go up stairs to await his coming. 

85 All the original editions have the following note, which may probably 
be attributed to Moliere : " It is a servant who speaks." 

36 This book was called Flos Sanctorum, o libra de las vidas de los 
Santos, and was written by Pedro Ribadeneira, a celebrated Spanish 
Jesuit (1527-1611). It was translated into French as Fleurs des vies des 
Saints, and published in Paris in 1641, and at Lyons in 1666, in two folio 
volumes ; and later in English, as Lives of the Saints, and in the same 
number of volumes. There was also another book, originally in French, 
with the same title, written by a Jesuit, Bonnefons, published first in 1663, 
and which had already reached its third edition in 1664. 


CLE. I will wait for him here, with small pleasure ; and 
merely say how do ye do to him. 


DAM. Just sound him about this marriage of my sister. 
I suspect that Tartuffe is opposed to it, because he makes 
my father use so many evasions ; and you are not igno- 
rant how greatly I am interested in it . . .If the same 
passion fires my sister's and Valere's heart, the sister of 
this friend is, as you know, dear to me ; and if it were 
necessary . . . 

DOR. Here he is. 


ORG. Ha ! good morrow, brother. 

CLE. I was just going, and am glad to see you returned. 
The country is not very cheering at present. 

ORG. Dorine . . . {To Cleante). Pray, one moment, 
brother-in-law. Allow me to inquire the news here to ease 
my mind. {To Dorine}. Has everything gone on well 
these two days ? What are they doing, and how are they 

DOR. The day before yesterday my mistress had an 
attack of fever until evening, accompanied by an extraor- 
dinary headache. 

ORG. And Tartuffe ? 

DOR. Tartuffe ! He is wonderfully well, stout and fat, 
with a fresh complexion, and a ruddy mouth. 

ORG. Poor fellow ! 

DOR. In the evening she felt very sick, and could not 
touch a morsel of supper, so violent was still the pain in 
her head. 

ORG. And Tartuffe ? 

DOR. He supped by himself in her presence ; and very 
devoutly ate two partridges, and half a leg of mutton 

ORG. Poor fellow ! 

DOR. The whole night she did not close her eyes for a 
moment. She was so feverish that she could not sleep, 
and we were obliged to sit up with her until morning. 

ORG. And Tartuffe ? 


DOR. Pleasantly overcome with sleep, he went to his 
room when he left the table ; and jumped into his cozy 
bed, where he slept undisturbed until morning. 

ORG. Poor fellow ! 

DOR. We at length prevailed upon the mistress to be 
bled ; and she was almost immediately relieved. 

ORG. And Tartuffe ? 

DOR. He picked up his courage again as he ought to ; 
and, to fortify himself against all harm, he drank four 
large draughts of wine at breakfast, to make up for the 
blood that the mistress had lost. 

ORG. Poor fellow ! 

DOR. At present, they are both well ; and I shall go 
and inform the mistress how glad you feel at her recovery. 


CLE. She is laughing at you to your face, brother : and, 
without wishing to make you angry, I must tell you can- 
didly that it is not without reason. Was there ever such 
a whim heard of? Can it be possible that any man could 
so charm you now-a-days as to make you forget every- 
thing for him ? That after having relieved his indigence, 
in your own house, you should go as far as ... 

ORG. Stop, brother-in-law, you do not know the man 
of whom you are speaking ? 

CLE. I do not know him, if you like ; but after all, in 
order to know what sort of man he is . . . 

ORG. You would be charmed to know him, brother ; 
and there would be no end to your delight. He is a man 
. . . who . . . ah . . .a man ... in short, a man." 
One who acts up to his own precepts, enjoys a profound 
peace, and looks upon the whole world as so much dirt. 
Yes ; I am quite another man since I conversed with him ; 
he teaches me to set my heart upon nothing ; he detaches 
my mind from all friendship ; and I could see brother, 
children, mother, and wife die, without troubling myself 
in the least about it. 

87 This line has given rise to many different readings ; but according 
to the Lettre sur V Imposteur, and of which a resume is given in the In- 
troductory Notice to this play, Orgon intends to quote all the good 
qualities of Tartuffe, and can find nothing else to say of him but that he 


CLE. Humane sentiments these, brother ! 

ORG. Ah ! if you had seen how I first met him, you 
would have conceived the same friendship for him that I 
feel. Every day he came to church, and, with a gentle 
mien, kneeled down opposite me. He attracted the notice 
of the whole congregation by the fervency with which he 
sent up his prayers to heaven. He uttered sighs, was en- 
raptured, and humbly kissed the ground every moment : 
and when I went out, he swiftly ran before me to offer me 
holy water at the door. Informed by his servants, who 
imitates him in everything, of his poverty, and who he 
was, I made him some presents : but, with great modesty, 
he always wished to return some part of them. "It is too 
much," he said ; "too much by half ; I do not deserve 
your pity." And when I refused to take them back again, 
he would go and give them to the poor before my face. 
At length Heaven moved me to take him to my house, 
and since then, everything seems to prosper here. I per- 
ceive that he reproves everything, and that he takes a 
great interest, even in my wife, for my sake. He warns 
me of the people who look too lovingly at her, and he is 
six times more jealous of her than I am. But you cannot 
believe how far his zeal goes : the slightest trifle in him- 
self he calls a sin ; a mere nothing is sufficient to shock 
him ; so much so that he accused himself, the other day, 
of having caught a flea whilst he was at his devotions, and 
of having killed it with too much anger. 88 

CLE. Zounds ! I believe you are mad, brother. Are 

38 Moliere takes care to demonstrate, from the very beginning, that 
Tartuffe is a hypocrite, and the whole speech of Orgon shows him to be 
so. The killing of the flea is taken from the life of Saint Macarius in 
Giacomo da Voragine (1230-1298), Historia Lombardica, seu Legenda 
Sanctorum, which was more familiarly known as the Legenda aurea, or 
Golden Legend. The first English edition was one of the books which 
Caxton printed and published in 1483. The story is thus related, by the 
Rev. Alban Butler, in The Lives of the Saints :' " Saint Macarius hap- 
pened one day to kill a gnat that was biting him in his cell ; reflecting 
that he had lost the opportunity of suffering that mortification, he hastened 
from the cell for the marshes of Scete, which abound with great flies, 
whose stings pierce even wild boars. There he continued six months, e'x- 
posed to those ravaging insects ; and to such a degree was his whole body 
disfigured by them with sores and swellings, that when he returned, he was 
only to be known by his voice." 


you making game of me with such a speech ? and do you 
pretend that all this fooling . . . 

ORG. Brother, this discourse savours of free-thinking. 89 
You are somewhat tainted with it ; and, as I have often 
told you, you will get yourself into some unpleasant 

CLE. The usual clap-trap of your set ; they wish every- 
one to be blind like themselves. To keep one's eyes open 
is to be a free-thinker ; and whosoever does not worship 
pretentious affections has neither respect for, nor faith in 
holy things. Go along ; all your speeches do not frighten 
me ; I know what I am saying, and Heaven sees my heart. 
We are not the slaves of your formalists. There are hypo- 
crites in religion as well as pretenders to courage ; and as 
we never find the truly brave man make much noise where 
honour leads him, no more are the good and truly pious, 
whom we ought to follow, those who make so many gri- 
maces. What ! would you make no distinction between 
hypocrisy and true devotion ? Would you treat them both 
alike, and give the same honour to the mask as to the 
face ; put artifice on a level with sincerity, confound ap- 
pearance with reality, value the shadow as much as the 
substance ; and false coin the same as real ? Men, for the 
most part, are strange creatures, and never keep the right 
mean; reason's boundaries are too narrow for them; in 
every character they overact .their parts ; and they often 
spoil the noblest designs, because they exaggerate, and 
carry them too far. This by the way, brother. 

ORG. Yes, you are no doubt a doctor to be looked up 
to ; you possess all the world's wisdom ; you are the only 
sage, and the only enlightened man, an oracle, a Cato of 
the present age; and all men, compared with you, are 

CLE. I am not, brother, a doctor to be looked up to ; 
nor do I possess all the world's wisdom. But, in one word, 
I know enough to distinguish truth from falsehood. And 
as I know no character more worthy of esteem than the 
truly devout, nor anything in the world more noble or 

89 The original has libertinage, which, as well as libertin, libertine, was 
formerly employed in French, as well as in English, in speaking of those 
who took great liberty with the belief generally entertained. 


beautiful than the holy fervour of sincere piety, so I know- 
nothing more odious than the whited sepulchre of a pre- 
tended zealot, than those downright impostors, those de- 
votees, for public show, 40 whose sacrilegious and deceitful 
grimaces abuse with impunity, and make a jest, according 
to their fancy, of what men hold most holy and sacred ; 
those men who, from motives of self-interest, make a trade 
of piety, and would purchase honour and reputation at the 
cost of a hypocritical turning up of the eyes and pretended 
raptures ; those men, I say, whom we see possessed with 
such an uncommon ardour for the next world, in order 
to make their fortunes in this ; who, with great affectation 
and many prayers, daily recommend and preach solitude 
in the midst of the court ; who know how to reconcile 
their zeal with their vices ; who are passionate, vindictive, 
without belief, full of artifice, and would, in order to de- 
stroy a man, insolently cover their fierce resentment under 
the cloak of Heaven's interests. They are the more dan- 
gerous in their bitter wrath because they use against us 
weapons which men reverence, and because their passion, 
for which they are commended, prompts them to assassi- 
nate us with a consecrated blade. One sees too many of 
those vile characters, but the really devout at heart are 
easily recognized. Our age has shown us some, brother, 
who may serve us as glorious examples. Look at Ariston, 
look at Periandre, Oronte, Alcidamas, Polydore, Clitan- 
dre no one disputes their title. But they do not boast 
of their virtue. One does not see this unbearable osten- 
tation in them ; and their piety is human, is tractable ; 
they do not censure all our doings, they think that these 
corrections would show too much pride on their part ; and, 
leaving big words to others, they reprove our actions by 
their own. They do not think anything evil, because it 
seems so, and their mind is inclined to judge well of others. 
They have no cabals, no intrigues ; all their anxiety is to 
live well themselves. They never persecute a sinner ; they 
hate sin only, and do not vindicate the interest of Heaven 
with greater zeal than Heaven itself. These are my people, 

** The original has devots de place. In former times, servants who 
wished to be hired, went to the market-place to show themselves ; these 
were called domestiques de plac'e ; hence Moliere coined devots de place. 


that is the true way to act ; that is, in short, an example 
to be followed. To say the truth, your man is not of that 
stamp; you vaunt his zeal with the best intention ; but I 
believe that you are dazzled by a false glare. 

ORG. My dear brother-in-law, have you had your say ? 

CLE. Yes. 

ORG. (Going). I am your humble servant. 

CLE. Pray, one word more, brother. Let us drop this 
conversation. You know that Valere has your promise to 
be your son-in-law. 

ORG. Yes. 

CLE. And that you would appoint a day for the wed- 

ORG. True. 

CLE. Why then defer the ceremony? 

ORG. I do not know. 

CLE. Have you another design in your mind? 

ORG. Perhaps so. 

CLE. Will you break your word ? 

ORG. I do not say that. 

CLE. There is no obstacle, I think, to prevent you from 
fulfilling your promise ? 

ORG. That is as it may be. 

CLE. Why so much ado about a single word ? Valere 
sent me to you about it. 

ORG. Heaven be praised for that ! 

CLE. But what answer shall I give him ? 

ORG. Whatever you please. 

CLE. But it is necessary to know your intentions. What 
are they? 

ORG. To do just what Heaven ordains. 

CLE. But to the point. Valere has your promise : will 
you keep it or not ? 

ORG. Farewell. 

CLE. (Alone). I fear some misfortune for his love, and 
I ought to inform him of what is going on. a 

41 Several of Moliere's annotators greatly praise this first act, which 
gives, as it were, a key to the whole comedy. We see at one glance the 
interior of Orgon's household : the silly talk of an old woman ; the foolish 
infatuation of the master of the house for TartufTe ; the pretended reli- 
gious zeal of that hypocrite ; the quiet reserve of Elmire ; the impetuosity 




ORG. Mariane. 

MAR. Father? 

ORG. Come here; I have something to say to you 

MAR. (To Orgon, who is looking into a closet}. What 
are you looking for ? 

ORG. I am looking whether there is anyone there who 
might overhear us; for it is a most likely little place for 
such a purpose. ** Now we are all right. Mariane, I 
have always found you of a sweet disposition, and you 
have always been very dear to me. 

MAR. I am much obliged to you for this fatherly 

ORG. That is very well said, daughter ; and to deserve 
it, your only care should be to please me. 

MAR. That is my greatest ambition. 

ORG. Very well. What say you of our guest Tartuffe? 

MAR. Who? I? 

ORG. You. Be careful how you answer. 

MAR. Alas ! I will say whatever you like of him. 

SCENE II. ORGON, MARIANE, DORINE, (entering softly and 
keeping behind Orgon, without being seen). 

ORG. That is sensibly spoken . . . Tell me then, my 
child, that he is a man of the highest worth ; that he has 

of Damis, the son ; the sound philosophy of Cleante ; the familiarity and 
sharpness of the servant Dorine ; the gentle timidity of Mariane ; every- 
thing which afterwards comes out in the play is foreshadowed there, even 
the passion of Tartuffe for Elmire. This first act also shows how every- 
thing in the house is in dire confusion ; religious war rages there with all 
the intensity of the odium theologicum ; the grandmother has become the 
foe of her son's children ; the father wishes to tyrannize over his daughter 
and every one else ; whilst, on the other side, Damis Is always in a rage, 
Dorine for ever on the verge of impudence, and even the calm Cleante 
appears to have some difficulty in keeping his temper. The spirit with 
which Moliere opens the first act is kept up throughout the whole piece. 

a It is from this "most likely little place" that Damis, in the third 
Scene of the third Act, overhears Tartuffe declaring his love to Elmire. 
Moliere always takes care to throw out such hints, in order to prepare the 
mind for what is to come. 


touched your heart ; and that it would be pleasant to you 
to see him, with my approbation, become your husband. 
He ? (Mariane draws away with surprise). 

MAR. He! 

ORG. What is the matter? 

MAR. What did you say ? 

ORG. What? 

MAR. Did I mistake? 

ORG. How? 

MAR. What would you have me say has touched my 
heart, father, and whom would it be pleasant to have for 
a husband, with your approbation ? 

ORG. Tartuffe. 

MAR. But it is nothing of the kind, father, I assure 
you. Why would you have me tell such a falsehood ? 

ORG. But I wish it to be a truth ; and it is sufficient 
for you that I have resolved it so. 

MAR. What, father would you . . . 

ORG. Yes, daughter, I intend by your marriage to unite 
Tartuffe to my family. He shall be your husband ; I 
have decided that ; and as on your duty I ... {Per- 
ceiving Dorine). What are you doing here ? Your anxious 
curiosity is very great, my dear, to induce you to listen to 
us in this manner. 

DOR. In truth, I do not know whether this is a mere 
report, arising from conjecture or from chance ; but they 
have just told me the news of this marriage, and I treated 
it as a pure hoax. 

ORG. Why so ! Is the thing incredible ? 

DOR. So much so, that even from you, Sir, I do not 
believe it. 

ORG. I know how to make you believe it, though. 

DOR. Yes, yes, you are telling us a funny story. 

ORG. I am telling you exactly what you will see 

DOR. Nonsense! 

ORG. What I say is not in jest, daughter. 

DOR. Come, do not believe your father ; he is joking. 

ORG. I tell you . . . 

DOR. No, you may say what you like; nobody will 
believe you. 


ORG. My anger will at last . . . 

DOR. Very well ! we will believe you then ; and so 
much the worse for you. What ! is it possible, Sir, that, 
with that air of common sense, and this great beard in 
the very midst of your face, you would be foolish enough 
to be willing to ... 

ORG. Now listen : you have taken certain liberties in 
this house, which I do not like ; I tell you so, my dear. 

DOR. Let us speak without getting angry, Sir, I beg. Is 
it to laugh at people that you have planned this scheme ? 
Your daughter is not suitable for a bigot : he has other 
things to think about. And, besides, what will such an 
alliance bring you ? Why, with all your wealth, go and 
choose a beggar for your son-in-law . . . 

ORG. Hold your tongue. If he has nothing, know that 
it is just for that that we ought to esteem him. His po- 
verty is no doubt an honest poverty; it ought to raise him 
above all grandeur, because he has allowed himself to be 
deprived of his wealth by his little care for worldly affairs, 
and his strong attachment to things eternal. But my 
assistance may give him the means of getting out of his 
troubles, and of recovering his property. His estates are 
well known in his country; and, such as you see him, he 
is quite the nobleman. 

DOR. Yes, so he says ; and this vanity, Sir, does not 
accord well with piety. Whosoever embraces the inno- 
cence of a holy life should not boast so much about his 
name and his lineage ; and the humble ways of piety do 
but ill agree with this outburst of ambition. What is the 
good of this pride . . . But this discourse offends you : 
let us speak of himself, and leave his nobility alone. 
Would you, without some compunction, give a girl like 
her to a man like him ? And ought you not to have some 
regard for propriety, and foresee the consequences of such 
a union ? Be sure that a girl's virtue is in danger when 
her choice is thwarted in her marriage; that her living 
virtuously depends upon the qualities of the husband 
whom they have chosen for her, and that those whose 
foreheads are pointed at everywhere often make of their 
wives what we see that they are. It is, in short, no easy 
task to be faithful to husbands cut out after a certain 


model ; and he who gives to his daughter a man whom 
she hates, is responsible to Heaven for the faults she com- 
mits. Consider to what perils your design exposes you. 

ORG. I tell you I must learn from her what to do ! 

DOR. You cannot do better than follow my advice. 

ORG. Do not let us waste any more time with this silly 
prattle, daughter; I am your father, and know what is 
best for you. I had promised you to Valere ; but besides 
his being inclined to gamble, as I am told, I also suspect 
him to be somewhat of a free-thinker; I never notice him 
coming to church. 

DOR. Would you like him to run there at your stated 
hours, like those who go there only to be seen ? 

ORG. I am not asking your advice upon that. The 
other candidate for your hand is, in short, on the best of 
terms with Heaven, and that is a treasure second to none. 
This union will crown your wishes with every kind of 
blessings, it will be replete with sweetness and delight. 
You shall live together in faithful love, really like two chil- 
dren, like two turtle-doves; there will be no annoying 
disputes between you ; and you will make anything you 
like of him. 

DOR. She ? she will never make anything but a fool ** 
of him, I assure you. 

ORG. Heyday ! what language ! 

DOR. I say that he has the appearance of one, and that 
his destiny, Sir, will be stronger than all your daughter's 

ORG. Leave off interrupting me, and try to hold your 
tongue, without poking your nose into what does not con- 
cern you. 

DOR. (She continually interrupts him when he turns 
round to speak to his daughter). I speak only for your 
interest, Sir. 

ORG. You interest yourself too much; hold your 
tongue, if you please. 

DOR. If one did not care for you . . . 

ORG. I do not wish you to care for me. 

DOR. And I will care for you, Sir, in spite of yourself. 

** The original has sot, which often meant also a victimized husband. 


ORG. Ah! 

DOR. Your honour is dear to me, and I cannot bear to 
see you the byeword of everyone. 

ORG. You will not hold your tongue ? 

DOR. It is a matter of conscience to allow you to form 
such an alliance. 

ORG. Will you hold your tongue, you serpent, whose 
brazen face . . . 

DOR. What ! you are religious, and fly in a rage ! 

ORG. Yes, all your nonsense has excited my choler, and 
once for all, you shall hold your tongue. 

DOR. Be it so. But, though I do not say a word, I will 
think none the less. 

ORG. Think, if you like ; but take care not to say a 
word, or ... {Turning to his daughter). That will do. 
As a sensible man, I have carefully weighed everything. 

DOR. (Aside). It drives me mad that I must not 

ORG. Without being a fop, Tartuffe's mien is such . . . 

DOR. Yes, his is a very pretty phiz ! 

ORG. That even if you have no sympathy with his 
other gifts . . . 

DOR. (Aside). She has got a bargain ! ( Organ turns to 
Donne, and, with crossed arms, listens and looks her in the 
face). If I were in her place, assuredly no man should 
marry me against my will with impunity ; and I would 
show him, and that soon after the ceremony, that a woman 
has always a revenge at hand. 

ORG. (To Dorine). Then you do not heed what I say? 

DOR. What are you grumbling at ? I did not speak to you. 

ORG. What did you do then? 

DOR. I was speaking to myself. 

ORG. (Aside). Very well! I must give her a back- 
hander to pay her out for her extreme insolence. (He puts 
himself into a position to slap Donne's face; aud, at every 
word which he says to his daughter, he turns round to look 
at Dorine) who stands bolt upright without speaking). You 
ought to approve of my plan, daughter . . . and believe 
that the husband whom I have selected for you . . . (To 
Dorine). Why do you not speak to yourself? 

DOR. I have nothing to say to myself. 


ORG. Just another little word. 

DOR. It does not suit me. 

ORG. I was looking out for you, be sure. 

DOR. I am not such a fool as you think me ! 

ORG. In short, daughter, you must obey, and show a 
complete deference to my choice. 

DOR. {Running away}. I would not care a straw for 
such a husband. 

ORG. (failing to slap Donne's face). You have a pes- 
tilent hussy with you, daughter, with whom I cannot put 
up any longer without forgetting myself. I do not feel 
equal to continue our conversation now; her insolent 
remarks have set my brain on fire, and I must have a 
breath of air to compose myself. 


DOR. Tell me have you lost your speech ? And must I 
act your part in this affair? To allow such a senseless 
proposal to be made to you, without saying the least word 
against it! 

MAR. What would you have me do against a tyrannical 
father ? 

DOR. That which is necessary, to ward off such a threat. 

MAR. What? 

DOR. Tell him that you cannot love by proxy, that you 
marry for yourself, and not for him ; that you being the 
only one concerned in this matter, it is you, and not he, 
who must like the husband, and that since Tartuffe is so 
charming in his eyes, he may marry him himself without 
let or hindrance. 

MAR. Ah ! a father, I confess, has so much authority 
over us, that I have never had the courage to answer 

DOR. But let us argue this affair. Valere has proposed 
for you : do you love him, pray, or do you not ? 

MAR. Ah ! you do my feelings great injustice, Dorine, 
to ask me such a question. Have I not a hundred times 
opened my heart to you ? and do not you know the 
warmth of my affection for him ? 

DOR. How do I know whether your lips have spoken 


what your heart felt ? and whether you have any real re- 
gard for this lover ? 

MAR. You wrong me greatly in doubting it, Dorine ; 
for my true sentiments have been but too clearly shown. 

DOR. You really love him, then ? 

MAR. Yes, very passionately. 

DOR. And, to all appearance, he loves you as well ? 

MAR. I believe so. 

DOR. And you are both equally eager to marry each 
other ? 

MAR. Assuredly. 

DOR. What do you expect from this other match then? 

MAR. To kill myself, if they force me to it. 

DOR. Very well. That is a resource I did not think 
of; you have only to die to get out of trouble. The re- 
medy is doubtless admirable. It drives me mad to hear 
this sort of talk. 

MAR. Good gracious ! Dorine, what a temper you get 
into ! You do not sympathize in the least with people's 

DOR. I do not sympathize with people who talk stu- 
pidly, and, when an opportunity presents itself, give way 
as you do ! 

MAR. But what would you have me do? If I am 
timid . . . 

DOR. Love requires firmness. 

MAR. But have I wavered in my affection towards 
Valere ? and is it not his duty to obtain a father's con- 
sent ? 

DOR. But what ! if your father is a downright churl, 
who is completely taken up with Tartuffe, and will break 
off a match he had agreed on, is your lover to be blamed 
for that ? 

MAR. But am I, by a flat refusal and a scornful disdain, 
to let everyone know how much I am smitten ? However 
brilliant Valere may be, am I to forget the modesty of my 
sex, and my filial duty ? And would you have me display 
my passion to the whole world . . . 

DOR. No, I would have you do nothing of the sort, 
perceive that you would like to be Mr. TartufTe's ; and I 
should be wrong, now that I come to think of it, to turn 


you from such a union. What right have I to oppose 
your wishes ? The match in itself is very advantageous. 
Monsieur Tartuffe ! oh, oh ! is no small fry. Certainly 
Monsieur Tartuffe, all things considered, is no fool;* 4 no, 
not at all, and it is no small honour to be his better half. 
Already every one crowns him with glory. He is a noble 
in his own country, handsome in appearance ; he has red 
ears and a florid complexion. You will live only too 
happily with such a husband. 

MAR. Good gracious ! . . . 

DOR. How joyful you will be to see yourself the wife 
of such a handsome husband ! 

MAR. Ah ! leave off such talk, I pray, and rather assist 
me to free myself from this match. It is finished : I yield, 
and, am ready to do anything. 

DOR. No, a daughter ought to obey her father, even if 
he wishes her to marry an ape. Yours is an enviable 
fate : of what do you complain ? You will drive down in 
the stage-coach to his native town, where you will find 
plenty of uncles and cousins, whom it will be your great 
delight to entertain. You will be introduced directly into 
the best society. You will go and pay the first visits to 
the wife of the bailie, tt and of the assessor, ** who will do 
you the honour of giving you a folding-chair. * 7 There, 
at carnival time, you may expect a ball, with the grand 
band* 8 of musicians, to wit, two bagpipes, and sometimes 

44 The original has '' Monsieur Tartuffe . . . n'est pas un homme . . . 
qui se mouche du pied; literally, '' Mr. Tartuffe ... is not a man: who 
blows his nose with his foot." To pretend to blow one's nose with one's 
foot was considered a favourite trick of jugglers and acrobats ; hence a 
man who could do such a thing was no fool. 

46 The bailli, whose office dates probably from the eleventh century, 
was the representative of the king or lord in the northern provinces of 
France ; whilst in the west and south he was called the senechal. But, in 
Moliere's time, the duties of their office had been much reduced ; they 
could no longer call out the military force, or regulate the finances of any 
province. They were simply a kind of minor judges, though nominally 
at the head of the provincial nobility. 

46 In French I'elue, The elu was a kind of assessor who regulated the 

47 A folding-chair was always given to people of inferior rank to sit on 
when in the presence of their superiors. 

48 In French la grand' bande. Jn Moliere's time any band of musi- 
cians was called une bande, just as in English " band " is used now. There 


Fagotin* 9 and the marionnettes. If your husband, how- 
ever . . . 

MAR. Oh ! you kill me. Try rather to assist me with 
your counsels. 

DOR. I am your servant. 

MAR. Ah ! for pity's sake, Dorine . . . 

DOR. This affair ought to go on, to punish you. 

MAR. There is a good girl ! 

DOR. No. 

MAR. If I declare to you that . . . 

DOR. Not at all. Tartuffe is your man, and you shall 
have a taste of him. 

MAR. You know that I have always confided in you: 
do ... 

DOR. No, it is of no use, you shall be Tartuffed. 

MAR. Very well, since my misfortunes cannot move 
you, leave me henceforth entirely to my despair. My 
heart shall seek help from that ; and I know an infallible 
remedy for my sufferings. (She wishes to go. 

DOR. Stop, stop, come back. I give in. In spite of all, 
I must take compassion on you. 

MAR. Look here, Dorine, if they inflict this cruel mar- 
tyrdom upon me, I shall die of it, I tell you. 

DOR. Do not worry yourself. We will cleverly pre- 
vent . . . But here comes Valere, your lover. 


VAL. I have just been told a piece of news, Madam, 
which I did not know, and which is certainly very pretty. 

MAR. What is it ? 

VAL. That you are going to be married to Tartuffe. 

MAR. My father has taken this idea into his head, cer- 

VAR. Your father, Madam . . . 

MAR. Has altered his mind : he has just proposed this 
affair to me. 

was then at Court la bande des Vingt- Quatre, or the great violins, and la 
petite bande, or the little violins, of which Lulli was the conductor. 
There was also a third bande, that of the Grande-fecurie. 

49 Fagotin was the name of a famous trained monkey, very much ad- 
mired in Paris, in Moliere's time. La Fontaine mentions him in his 
fable of The Court of the Lion. 


VAL. What ! seriously ? 

MAR. Yes, seriously, he has openly declared himself for 
this match. 

VAL. And what have you decided, in your own mind, 
Madam ? 

MAR. I know not. 

VAL. The answer is polite. You know not ? 

MAR. No. 

VAL. No? 

MAR. What do you advise me ? 

VAL. I, I advise you to take this husband. 

MAR. Is that your advice ? 

VAL. Yes. 

MAR. Seriously ? 

VAL. Doubtless. The choice is glorious, and well 
worth consideration. 

MAR. Very well, Sir, I shall act upon the advice. 

VAL. That will not be very painful, I think. 

MAR. Not more painful than for you to give it. 

VAL. I gave it to please you, Madam. 

MAR. And I shall follow it to please you. 

DOR. {Retiring to the further part of the stage). Let us 
see what this will come to. 

VAL. This then is your affection ? And it was all de- 
ceit when you . . . 

MAR. Do not let us speak of that, I pray. You have 
told me quite candidly that I ought to accept the husband 
selected for me ; and I declare that I intend to do so, 
since you give me this wholesome advice. 

VAL. Do not make my advice your excuse. Your reso- 
lution was taken beforehand ; and you catch at a frivolous 
pretext to justify the breaking of your word. 

MAR. Very true, and well put. 

VAL. No doubt ; and you never had any real affection 
for me. 

MAR. Alas ! think so, if you like. 

VAL. Yes, yes, if I like ; but my offended feelings may 
perhaps forestall you in such a design ; and I know where 
to offer both my heart and my hand. 

MAR. Ah ! I have no doubt of it ; and the love which 
merit can command . 


VAL. For Heaven's sake, let us drop merit. I have but 
little, no doubt ; and you have given proof of it. But I 
hope much from the kindness of some one whose heart is 
open to me, and who will not be ashamed to consent to 
repair my loss. 

MAR. The loss is not great : and you will easily enough 
console yourself for this change. 

VAL. I shall do my utmost, you may depend. A heart 
that forgets us wounds our self-love ; we must do our best 
to forget it also ; if we do not succeed, we must at least 
pretend to do so : for the meanness is unpardonable of 
still loving when we are forsaken. 

MAR. This is, no doubt, an elevated and noble senti- 

VAL. It is so ; and every one must approve of it. 
What ! would you have me forever to nourish my ardent 
affection for you, and not elsewhere bestow that heart 
which you reject, whilst I see you, before my face, pass 
into the arms of another? 

MAR. On the contrary ; as for me, that is what I would 
have you do, and I wish it were done already. 

VAL. You wish it? 

MAR. Yes. 

VAL. That is a sufficient insult, Madam ; and I shall 
satisfy you this very moment. (He pretends to go. 

MAR. Very well. 

VAL. {Coming back). Remember at least, that you 
yourself drive me to this extremity. 

MAR. Yes. 

VAL. ( Coming back once more}. And that I am only 
following your example. 

MAR. Very well, my example. 

VAL. {Going). That will do : you shall be obeyed on 
the spot. 

MAR. So much the better. 

VAL. {Coming back again). This is the last time that 
you will ever see me. 

MAR. That is right. 

VAL. {Goes, and turns round at the door). He? 

MAR. What is the matter ? 

VAL. Did not you call me ? 


MAR. I ! You are dreaming. 

VAL. Well ! then I will be gone. Farewell, Madam. 

(He goes slowly. 

MAR. Farewell, Sir. 

DOR. (71? Mariane}. I think that you are losing your 
senses with all this folly. I have all along allowed you to 
quarrel, to see what it would lead to at last. Hullo, Mr. 
Valere. (She takes hold of Valere' s arm. 

VAL. (Pretending to resist). He? what do you want, 
Dorine ? 

DOR. Come here. 

VAL. No, no, I feel too indignant. Do not hinder me 
from doing as she wishes me. 

DOR. Stop. 

VAL. No ; look here, I have made up my mind. 

DOR. Ah! 

MAR. (Aside}. He cannot bear to see me, my presence 
drives him away ; and I had therefore much better leave 
the place. 

DOR. (Quitting Valere and running after Mariane). 
Now for the other ! Where are you running to ? 

MAR. Let me alone. 

DOR. You must come back. 

MAR. No, no, Dorine ; it is of no use detaining me. 

VAL. (Aside). I see, but too well, that the sight of me 
annoys her ; and I had, no doubt, better free her from it. 

DOR. (Leaving Mariane and running after Valere). 
What, again ! The devil take you ! Yes. I will have it 
so. Cease this fooling, and come here both of you. 

(She holds them both. 

VAL. (To Dorine). But what are you about ? 

MAR. ( To Dorine). What would you do? 

DOR. I would have you make it up together, and get 
out of this scrape. (To Valere). Are you mad to wran- 
gle in this way? 

VAL. Did you not hear how she spoke to me ? 

DOR. (To 'Mariane). Are you silly to have got into 
such a passion ? 

MAR. Did you not see the thing, and how he has treated 

DOR. Folly on both sides. (To Valere). She has no 


other wish than to remain yours, I can vouch for it. {To 
Mariane). He loves none but you, and desires nothing 
more than to be your husband. I will answer for it with 
my life. 

MAR. (To Valere). Why then did you give me such 
advice ? 

VAL. {To Mariane). Why did you ask me for it on 
such a subject ? 

DOR. You are a pair of fools. Come, your hands, both 
of you. {To Valere). Come, yours. 

VAL. ( Giving his hand to Dorine). What is the good of 
my hand ? 

DOR. {To Mariane}. Come now ! yours. 

MAR. {Giving hers). What is the use of all this? 

DOR. Good Heavens ! quick, come on. You love each 
other better than you think. ( Valere and Mariane hold 
each other 1 s hands for some time without speaking, 

VAL. {Turning towards Mariane), Do not do things 
with such a bad grace, and cast a glance upon one without 
any hatred. {Mariane turns to Valere, and smiles on him. 

DOR. Truth to tell, lovers are great fools ! 

VAL. {To Mariane). Now really ! have I no reason to 
complain of you ; and, without an untruth, are you not a 
naughty girl to delight in saying disagreeable things ? 

MAR. And you, are you not the most ungrateful fel- 
low . . . 

DOR. Leave all this debate till another time, and let us 
think about averting this confounded marriage. 

MAR. Tell us, then, what we are to do. 

DOR. We must do many things. {To Mariane). Your 
father does but jest; {To Valere), and it is all talk. {To 
Mariane). But as for you, you had better appear to comply 
quietly with his nonsense, so that, in case of need, it may 
be easier for you to put off this proposed marriage. In 
gaining time, we gain everything. Sometimes you can 
pretend a sudden illness, that will necessitate a delay; 
then you can pretend some evil omens, that you unluckily 
met a corpse, broke a looking-glass, or dreamed of muddy 
water. In short, the best of it is that they cannot unite 
you to any one else but him, unless you please to say yes. 
But, the better to succeed, I think it advisable that you 


should not be seen talking together. {To Valere}. Now 
go ; and without delay, employ your friends to make Orgon 
keep his promise to you. We will interest her brother, 
and enlist her mother-in-law on our side. Good-bye. 

VAL. {To Mariani). Whatever efforts we may make 
together, my greatest hope, to tell the truth, is in you. 

MAR. {To Valere). I cannot answer for the will of a 
father; but I shall be no one but Valere's. 

VAL. Oh, how happy you make me ! And, whatever 
they may attempt . . . 

DOR. Ah ! lovers are never weary of prattling. Be off, 
I tell you. 

VAL. ( Goes a step, and returns). After all . . . 

DOR. What a cackle ! Go you this way ; and you, the 
other. {Dorine pushes each of them by the shoulder, and 
compels them to separated) 



DAM. May lightning strike me dead on the spot, may 
every one treat me as the greatest of scoundrels, if any 
respect or authority shall stop me from doing something 

DOR. Curb this temper for Heaven's sake : your father 
did but mention it. People do not carry out all their 
proposals ; and the road between the saying and the doing 
is a long one. 

DAM. I must put a stop to this fellow's plots, and 
whisper a word or two in his ear. 

DOR. Gently, pray ! leave him, and your father as well, 
to your mother-in-law's management. She has some in- 
fluence with Tartuffe : he agrees to all that she says, and I 
should not wonder if he had some sneaking regard for her. 
Would to Heaven that it were true ! A pretty thing that 
would be. 50 In short, your interest obliges her to send 

This is the third time the audience has heard that Tartuffe loves El- 
mire, and Moliere does this in order that the public should not afterwards 
be too suddenly horrified when the hypocrite is unmasked. 


for him : she wishes to sound him about this marriage that 
troubles you, to know his intentions, and to acquaint him 
with the sad contentions which he may cause, if he enter- 
tains any hope on this subject. His servant told me he 
was at prayers, and that I could not get sight of him; but 
said that he was coming down. Go, therefore, I pray you, 
and let me wait for him. 

DAM. I may be present at this interview. 

DOR. Not at all. They must be alone. 

DAM. I shall not say a word to him. 

DOR. You deceive yourself: we know your usual out- 
bursts ; and that is just the way to spoil all. Go. 

DAM. No ; I will see, without getting angry. 

DOR. How tiresome you are ! Here he comes. Go 
away. (Damis hides himself in a closet at the farther 

end of the stage). 


TAR. ( The moment he perceives Dorine, he begins to 
speak loudly to his servant, who is behind) ^ Laurent, put 
away my hair shirt and my scourge, and pray that Heaven 
may ever enlighten you. If any one calls to see me, say 
that I have gone to the prisoners to distribute the alms 
which I have received. 

DOR. (Aside). What affectation and boasting ! 

TAR. What do you want ? 

DOR. To tell you . . . 

TAR. (Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket). Foi 
Heaven's sake ! before you go any farther, take this hand- 
kerchief, I pray. 

DOR. For what ? 

TAR. Cover this bosom, which I cannot bear to see. 
The spirit is offended by such sights, and they evoke 
sinful thoughts. 

DOR. You are, then, mighty susceptible to temptation ; 
and the flesh seems to make a great impression on your 

51 The foul hero of the play only makes his appearance now, in the 
second Scene of the third Act. According to the Lettre sur P Imposteur 
(see Introductory Notice, page 377), this was done by Moliere on pur- 
pose, because such a character could appear only when the action was in 
full force. 


senses ! I cannot tell, of course, what heat inflames you : 
but my desires are not so easily aroused ; and I could see 
you naked from top to toe, without being in the least 
tempted by the whole of your skin. 

TAR. Be a little more modest in your expressions, or I 
shall leave you on the spot. 

DOR. No, no, it is I who am going to leave you to 
yourself; and I have only two words to say to you. My 
mistress is coming down into this parlour, and wishes the 
favor of a minute's conversation with you. 

TAR. Alas ! with all my heart. 

DOR. {Aside). How he softens down ! Upon my word, 
I stick to what I have said of him. 

TAR. Will she be long ? 

DOR. Methinks I hear her. Yes, it is herself, and I 
leave you together. 


TAR. May Heaven, in its mighty goodness, for ever be- 
stow upon you health, both of soul and body, and bless 
your days as much as the humblest of its votaries desires. 

ELM. I am much obliged for this pious wish. But let 
us take a seat, to be more at ease. 

TAR. (Seated^). Are you quite recovered from your in- 
disposition ? 

ELM. (Seated'}. Quite ; this fever has soon left me. 

TAR. My prayers are not deserving enough to have 
drawn this grace from above ; but not one of them as- 
cended to Heaven that had not your recovery for its 

ELM. You are too anxious in your zeal for me. 

TAR. We cannot cherish your dear health too much ; 
and to re-establish yours, I would have given mine. 

ELM. That is pushing Christian charity very far ; and I 
feel much indebted to you for all this kindness. 

TAR. I do much less for you than you deserve. 

ELM. I wished to speak to you in private about a cer- 
tain matter, and am glad that no one is here to ob- 
serve us. 

TAR. I am equally delighted ; and no doubt, it is very 
pleasant to me, Madam, to find myself alone with you. I 


have often asked this opportunity from Heaven, but, till 
now, in vain. 

ELM. What I wish is a few words with you, upon a 
small matter, in which you bare your heart and conceal 
nothing from me. (Damis, without showing himself, half 
opens the door of the closet into which he had retired to listen 
to the conversation}. 

TAR. And I will also, in return for this rare favour, un- 
bosom myself entirely to you, and swear to you that the 
reports which I have spread about the visits which you re- 
ceive in homage of your charms, do not spring from any 
hatred towards you, but rather from a passionate zeal 
which carries me away, and out of a pure motive . . . 

ELM. That is how I take it. I think it is for my good 
that you trouble yourself so much. 

TAR. (Taking Elmire 1 s hand and pressing her fingers}. 
Yes, Madam, no doubt ; and my fervour is such . . . 

ELM. Oh ! you squeeze me too hard. 

TAR. It is through excess of zeal. I never had any in- 
tention of hurting you, and would sooner . . . (He places 
his hand on Elmire' s knee}. 

ELM. What does your hand there ? 

TAR. I am only feeling your dress : the stuff is very 

ELM. Oh ! please leave off, I am very ticklish. (Elmire 
pushes her chair back, and Tartu ffe draws near with his). 

TAR. (Handling the collar of Elmire}. Bless me! how 
wonderful is the workmanship of this lace ! They work in 
a miraculous manner now-a-days ; never was anything so 
beautifully made. 52 

ELM. It is true. But let us have some talk about our 
affair. I have been told that my husband wishes to retract 
his promise, and give you his daughter. Is it true ? Tell 

TAR. He has hinted something to me ; but to tell you 
the truth, Madam, that is not the happiness for which I 

68 Rabelais, in the sixteenth chapter of the second book of Pantagruel, 
says of Panurge : " When he came into the company of some good ladies, 
he would trifle them into a discourse of some fine workmanship of bone- 
lace, and then immediately put his hand into their bosom, asking them, 
'And this work, is it of Flanders, or of Hainault ? ' " 


am sighing: I behold elsewhere the marvellous attractions 
of that bliss which forms the height of my wishes. 

ELM. That is because you have no love for earthly 

TAR. My breast does not contain a heart of flint. 

ELM. I believe that all your sighs tend towards Heaven, 
and that nothing here below rouses your desires. 

TAR. The love which attaches us to eternal beauties 
does not stifle in us the love of earthly things ; our senses 
may easily be charmed by the perfect works which Heaven 
has created. Its reflected loveliness shines forth in such 
as you ; but in you alone it displays its choicest wonders. 
It has diffused on your face such beauty, that it dazzles 
the eyes and transports the heart ; nor could I behold you, 
perfect creature, without admiring in you nature's author, 
and feeling my heart smitten with an ardent love for the 
most beautiful of portraits, wherein he has reproduced 
himself. At first 1 feared that this secret ardour might be 
nothing but a cunning snare of the foul fiend ; and my 
heart even resolved to fly your presence, thinking that you 
might be an obstacle to my salvation. But at last I found, 
oh most lovely beauty, that my passion could not be 
blameable ; that I could reconcile it with modesty ; and 
this made me freely indulge it. It is, I confess, a great 
presumption in me to dare to offer you this heart ; but I 
expect, in my affections, everything from your kindness, 
and nothing from the vain efforts of my own weakness. 
In you is my hope, my happiness, my peace ; on you 
depends my torment or my bliss; and it is by your 
decision solely that I shall be happy if you wish it; or 
miserable, if it pleases you. 

ELM. The declaration is exceedingly gallant ; but it is, 
to speak truly, rather a little surprising. Methinks you 
ought to arm your heart better, and to reflect a little upon 
such a design. A pious man like you, and who is every- 
where spoken of ... 

TAR. Ah ! although I am a pious man, I am not the 
less a man; 88 and, when one beholds your heavenly 

M Some annotators of Moliere pretend that he took this line from Cor- 
neille's tragedy, Sertorius, where we find, ' And though I am a Roman, 
I am not the less a man." It. is also found in the eighth tale of the third 
day of Boccaccio's Decameron. 


charms, the heart surrenders and reasons no longer. I 
know that such discourse from me must appear strange ; 
but, after all, Madam, I am not an angel ; and if my 
confession be condemned by you, you must blame your 
own attractions for it. As soon as I beheld their more 
than human loveliness, you became the queen of my soul. 
The ineffable sweetness of your divine glances broke 
down the resistance of my obstinate heart; it overcame 
everything fastings, prayers, tears and led all my de- 
sires to your charms. My looks and my sighs have told 
you so a thousand times; and, the better to explain my- 
self, I now make use of words. If you should graciously 
contemplate the tribulations of your unworthy slave ; if 
your kindness would console me, and will condescend to 
stoop to my insignificant self, I shall ever entertain for 
you, oh miracle of sweetness, an unexampled devotion. 
Your honour runs not the slightest risk with me, and need 
not fear the least disgrace on my part. All these court 
gallants, of whom women are so fond, are noisy in their 
doings and vain in their talk ; they are incessantly plum- 
ing themselves on their successes, and they receive no 
favours which they do not divulge. Their indiscreet 
tongues, in which people confide, desecrate the altar on 
which their hearts sacrifice. But men of our stamp love 
discreetly, and with them a secret is always surely kept. 
The care which we take of our own reputation is a suffi- 
cient guarantee for the object of our love ; and it is only 
with us, when they accept our hearts, that they find love 
without scandal, and pleasure without fear. 84 

ELM. I have listened to what you say, and your rhetoric 
explains itself in sufficiently strong terms to me. But are 
you not afraid that the fancy may take me to tell my 
husband of this gallant ardour; and that the prompt 
knowledge of such an amour might well change the 
friendship which he bears you. 

TAR. I know that you are too gracious, and that you 
will pardon my boldness; that you will excuse, on the 

64 Boccaccio's Feronde uses some of Tartuffe's expressions in the tale 
mentioned in note 53. Regnier's Macette says also : '' More discreet, they 
(the hypocrites) know, in loving, to give more satisfaction, though with 
less ostentation." 


score of human frailty, the violent transports of a passion 
which offends you, and consider, by looking at yourself, that 
people are not blind, and men are made of flesh and blood. 
ELM. Others would perhaps take it in a different fashion ; 
but I shall show my discretion. I shall not tell the matter 
to my husband : but in return, I require something of 
you : that is, to forward, honestly and without quibbling, 
the union of Valere with Mariane, to renounce the unjust 
power which would enrich you with what belongs to 
another; and . . . 


DAM. {Coming out of the closet in which he was hidden}. 
No, Madam, no ; this shall be made public. I was in there 
when I overheard it all ; and Providence seems to have 
conducted me thither to abash the pride of a wretch who 
wrongs me ; to point me out a way to take vengeance on 
his hypocrisy and insolence ; to undeceive my father, and 
to show him plainly the heart of a villain who talks to you 
of love. 

ELM. No, Datnis; it suffices that he reforms, and 
endeavours to deserve my indulgence. Since I have 
promised him, do not make me break my word. I have 
no wish to provoke a scandal ; a woman laughs at such 
follies, and never troubles her husband's ears with them. 

DAM. You have your reasons for acting in that way, and 
I also have mine for behaving differently. It is a farce to 
wish to spare him ; and the insolent pride of his bigotry 
has already triumphed too much over my just anger, and 
caused too much disorder amongst us. The scoundrel has 
governed my father too long, and plotted against my affec- 
tions as well as Valere 1 s. My father must be undeceived 
about this perfidious wretch ; and Heaven offers me an easy 
means. I am indebted to it for this opportunity, and it is 
too favourable to be neglected. I should deserve to have 
it snatched away from me, did I not make use of it, now 
that I have it in hand. 

ELM. Damis . . . 

DAM. No, by your leave, I will use my own judgment 
I am highly delighted : and all you can say will be in vain 


to make me forego the pleasure of revenge. I shall settle 
this affair without delay; and here is just the opportunity. 


DAM. We will enliven your arrival, father, with an alto- 
gether fresh incident, that will surprise you much. You are 
well repaid for all your caresses, and this gentleman rewards 
your tenderness handsomely. His great zeal for you has 
just shown itself; he aims at nothing less than at dis- 
honouring you ; and I have just surprised him making to 
your wife an insulting avowal of a guilty passion. Her 
sweet disposition, and her too discreet feelings would by 
all means have kept the secret from you; but I cannot 
encourage such insolence, and think that to have been silent 
about it would have been to do you an injury. 

ELM. Yes, I am of opinion that we ought never to 
trouble a husband's peace with all those silly stories; that 
our honour does not depend upon that ; and that it is 
enough for us to be able to defend ourselves. These are 
my sentiments; and you would have said nothing, Damis, 
if I had had any influence with you. 


ORG. What have I heard ! Oh Heavens ! is it credi- 
ble ? 

TAR. Yes, brother, I am a wicked, guilty, wretched 
sinner, full of iniquity, the greatest villain that ever ex- 
isted. Each moment of my life is replete with pollutions ; 
it is but a mass of crime and corruption ; and I see that 
Heaven, to chastise me, intends to mortify me on this oc- 
casion. Whatever great crime may be laid to my charge, 
I have neither the wish nor the pride to deny it. Believe 
what you are told, arm your anger, and drive me like a 
criminal from your house. Whatever shame you may heap 
upon me, I deserve still more. 

ORG. (To his Son}. What, wretch ! dare you, by this 
falsehood, tarnish the purity of his virtue? 

DAM. What, -shall the pretended gentleness of this hypo- 
crite make you belie . . . 

ORG. Peace, cursed plague ! 

TAR. Ah ! let him speak ; you accuse him wrongly, and 


you had much better believe in his story. Why will you 
be so favourable to me after hearing such a fact ? Are 
you, after all, aware of what I am capable ? Why trust to 
my exterior, brother, and why, for all that is seen, believe 
me to be better than I am ? No, no, you allow yourself 
to be deceived by appearances, and I am, alas ! nothing 
less than what they think me. Everyone takes me to be 
a godly man, but the real truth is that I am very worthless. 
(Addressing himself to Damis). Yes, my dear child, say 
on ; call me a perfidious, infamous, lost wretch, a thief, a 
murderer ; load me with still more detestable names : I 
shall not contradict you, I have deserved them ; and I am 
willing on my knees to suffer ignominy, as a disgrace due 
to the crimes of my life. 55 

ORG. (To Tartuffe). This is too much, brother. (To his 
Son). Does not your heart relent, wretch ? 

DAM. What ! shall his words deceive you so far as 
to ... 

ORG. Hold your tongue, you hangdog. (Raising Tar- 
tuffe). Rise, brother, I beseech you. (To his Son). In- 
famous wretch ! 

DAM. He can . . 

ORG. Hold your tongue. 

DAM. I burst with rage. What ! I am looked upon 
as ... 

ORG. Say another word, and I will break your bones. 

TAR. In Heaven's name, brother, do not forget your- 
self! I would rather suffer the greatest hardship, than 
that he should receive the slightest hurt for my sake. 

ORG. (To his Son). Ungrateful monster ! 

TAR. Leave him in peace. If I must on both knees, 
ask you to pardon him . . . 

ORG. ( Throwing himself on his knees also, and embrac- 
ing Tartuffe). Alas ! are you in jest? (To his Son). Be- 
hold his goodness, scoundrel ' 

DAM. Thus . . . 

ORG. Cease. 

DAM. What ! I . 

88 Compare this speech of Tartuffe with Montufar*s, in Scarron's tale 
The Hypocrites, in the Introductory Notice to this play, page 365. 


ORG. Peace, I tell you : I know too well the motive of 
your attack. You all hate him, and I now perceive wife, 
children, and servants all let loose against him. Every 
trick is impudently resorted to to remove this pious per- 
son from my house ; but the more efforts they put forth to 
banish him, the more shall I employ to keep him here, 
and I shall hasten to give him my daughter, to abash the 
pride of my whole family. 

DAM. Do you mean to compel her to accept him ? 

ORG. Yes, wretch ! and to enrage you, this very eve- 
ning. Yes ! I defy you all, and shall let you know that I 
am the master, and that I will be obeyed. Come, retract ; 
throw yourself at his feet immediately, you scoundrel, and 
ask his pardon. 

DAM. What ! I at the feet of this rascal who, by his 
impostures . . . 

ORG. What, you resist, you beggar, and insult him be- 
sides ! (To Tartuffe). A cudgel! a cudgel ! do not 
hold me back. 66 (To his Son). Out of my house, this 
minute, and never dare to come back to it. 

DAM. Yes, I shall go ; but . . . 

ORG. Quick, leave the place, I disinherit you, you 
hangdog, and give you my curse besides. 


ORG. To offend a saintly person in that way ! 

TAR. Forgive him, oh Heaven ! the pang he causes me. 57 
(To Organ). Could you but know my grief at seeing my- 
self blackened in my brother's sight . . . 

ORG. Alas ! 

TAR. The very thought of this ingratitude tortures my 
soul to that extent . . . The horror I conceive of it 

56 Some actors, whilst playing the part of Tartuffe, do not move, whilst 
Orgon is shouting " do not hold me back." But Moliere can never have 
intended to let the spectator suppose that Tartuffe wished Damis to be 
beaten. On the contrary, his pretended opposition to Orgon's passion 
Heightens his influence ; for an angry father, when his passion is abated, 
cannot take it amiss that a stranger prevents him from chastising his son. 
According to tradition, a tradition supported by the actor Baron, a 
pupil of Moltere, this line was originally " Forgive him, O Heaven, as I 
forgive him ;'' but it was altered, because some people said it was a parody 
on a passage in the Lord's Prayer. 


. . . My heart is so oppressed that I cannot speak, and I 
believe it will be my death. 

ORG. (Running, all in tears, towards the door, by which 
his son has disappeared). Scoundrel ! I am sorry my 
hand has spared you, and not knocked you down on the 
spot. (To Tartuffe}. Compose yourself, brother, and 
do not grieve. 

TAR. Let us put an end to these sad disputes. I per- 
ceive what troubles I cause in this house, and think it 
necessary, brother, to leave it. 

ORG. What ! you are jesting surely? 

TAR. They hate me, and I find that they are trying to 
make you suspect my integrity. 

ORG. What does it matter ? Do you think that, in my 
heart, I listen to them ? 

TAR. They will not fail to continue, you may be sure ; 
and these self-same stories which you now reject, may, 
perhaps, be listened to at another time. 

ORG. No, brother, never. 

TAR. Ah, brother ! a wife may easily impose upon a 

ORG. No, no. 

TAR. Allow me, by removing hence promptly, to de- 
prive them of all subject of attack 

ORG. No, you shall remain ; my life depends upon it. 

TAR. Well ! I must then mortify myself. If, however, 
you would . . . 

ORG. Ah! 

TAR. Be it so: let us say no more about it. But I 
know how to manage in this. Honour is a tender thing, 
and friendship enjoins me to prevent reports and causes 
for suspicion. 'I shall shun your wife, and you shall not 
see me . . . 

ORG. No, in spite of all, you shall frequently be with 
her. To annoy the world is my greatest delight ; and I 
wish you to be seen with her at all times. Nor is this all : 
the better to defy them all, I will have no other heir but 
you, and I am going forthwith to execute a formal deed 
of gift of all my property to you. A faithful and honest 
friend, whom I take for son-in-law, is dearer to me than 
son, wife, and parents. Will you not accept what I propose? 


TAR. The will of Heaven be done in all things. 
ORG. Poor fellow. Q\iick ! let us get the draft drawn 
up : and then let envy itself burst with spite I 


CLE. Yes, everyone talks about it, and you may believe 
me. The stir which this rumour makes is not at all to 
your credit ; and I have just met you, Sir, opportunely, 
to tell you my opinion in two words. I will not sift these 
reports to the bottom ; I refrain, and take the thing at 
its worst. Let us suppose that Damis has not acted well, 
and that you have been wrongly accused ; would it not be 
like a Christian to pardon the offence, and to smother all 
desire of vengeance in your heart ? And ought you, on 
account of a dispute with you, to allow a son to be driven 
from his father's home? I tell you once more, and can- 
didly, that great and small are scandalized at it ; and, if 
you will take my advice, you will try to make peace, and 
not push matters to extremes. Make a sacrifice to God of 
your resentment, and restore a son to his father's favour. 

TAR. Alas ! for my own part, I would do so with all 
my heart. I do not bear him, Sir, the slightest ill-will; I 
forgive him everything; I blame him for nothing; and 
would serve him to the best of my power. But Heaven's 
interest is opposed to it ; and, if he comes back, I must 
leave the house. After his unparalleled behaviour, com- 
munication with him would give rise to scandal : Heaven 
knows what all the world would immediately think of it ! 
They would impute it to sheer policy on my part ; and 
they would say everywhere, that knowing myself to be 
guilty, I pretend a charitable zeal for my accuser; that I 
am afraid, and wish to conciliate him, in order to bribe 
him, in an underhand manner, into silence. 

CLE. You try to put forward pretended excuses, and all 
your reasons, Sir, are too far-fetched. Why do you charge 
yourself with Heaven's interests? Has it any need of us 
to punish the guilty? Leave to it the are of its own 


vengeance; think only of the pardon which it enjoins for 
offences, and do not trouble yourself about men's judg- 
ments, when you are following the sovereign edicts of 
Heaven. What ! shall the trivial regard for what men 
may think prevent the glory of a good action ? No, no ; 
let us always do what Heaven prescribes, and not trouble 
our heads with other cares. 

TAR. I have already told you that from my heart I for- 
give him ; and that, Sir, is doing what Heaven commands 
us to do : but after the scandal and the insult of to-day, 
Heaven does not require me to live with him. 

CLE. And does it require you, Sir, to lend your ear to 
what a mere whim dictates to his father, and to accept the 
gift of a property to which in justice you have no claim 

TAR. Those who know me will not think that this pro- 
ceeds from self-interest. All the world's goods have but 
few charms for me ; I am not dazzled by their deceptive 
glare : and should I determine to accept from his father 
that donation which he wishes to make to me, it is only, 
in truth, because I fear that all that property might fall 
into wicked hands; lest it might be divided amongst those 
who would make a bad use of it in this world, and would 
not employ it, as I intend, for the glory of Heaven and 
the well-being of my fellow-men. 

CLE. Oh, Sir, you need not entertain those delicate 
scruples, which may give cause for the rightful heir to 
complain. Allow him at his peril to enjoy his own, with- 
out troubling yourself in any way ; and consider that it is 
better even that he should make a bad use of it, than that 
you should be accused of defrauding him of it. My only 
wonder is, that you could have received such a proposal 
unblushingly. For after all, has true piety any maxim 
showing how a legitimate heir may be stripped of his pro- 
perty ? And if Heaven has put into your head an invin- 
cible obstacle to your living with Damis, would it not be 
better that as a prudent man you should make a civil re- 
treat from this, than to allow that, contrary to all reason, 
the son should be turned out of the house for you. Believe 
me, Sir, this would be giving: a proof of your probity . . 

TAR. Sir, it is half past three : certain religious duties 


call me upstairs, and you will excuse my leaving you so 

CLE. (Alone). Ah ! 


DOR. (To Cleante). For Heaven's sake, Sir, bestir your- 
self with us for her : she is in mortal grief ; and the mar- 
riage 'contract which her father- has resolved upon being 
signed this evening, drives her every moment to despair. 
Here he comes ! Pray, let us unite our efforts, and try, 
by force or art, to shake this unfortunate design that 
causes us all this trouble. 


ORG. Ah ! I am glad to see you all assembled. (To 
Mariane). There is something in this document to please 
you, and you know already what it means. 

MAR. (At Organ's feet). Father, in the name of 
Heaven which knows my grief, and by all that can move 
your heart, relax somewhat of your paternal rights, and 
absolve me from obedience in this case. Do not com- 
pel me, by this harsh command, to reproach Heaven 
with my duty to you ; and alas ! do not make wretched 
the life which you have given me, father. If, contrary to 
the sweet expectations which I have formed, you forbid 
me to belong to him whom I have dared to love, kindly 
save me at least, I implore you on my knees, from the 
torment of belonging to one whom I abhor ; and do not 
drive me to despair by exerting your full power over me. 

ORG. (Somewhat moved). Firm, my heart; none of 
this human weakness ! 

MAR. Your tenderness for him causes me no grief; in- 
dulge it to its fullest extent, give him your wealth, and if 
that be not enough, add mine to it ; I consent to it with 
all my heart, and I leave you to dispose of it. But, at 
least, stop short of my own self; and allow me to end. in 
the austerities of a convent, the sad days which Heaven 
has allotted to me. 

ORG. Ah, that is it ! When a father crosses a girl's 
love-sick inclination, she wishes to become a nun. Get 


up. The more repugnance you feel in accepting him, the 
greater will be your merit. Mortify your senses by this 
marriage, and do not trouble me any longer. 

DOR. But what . . 

ORG. Hold your tongue. Meddle only with what con- 
cerns you. I flatly forbid you to say another word. 

CLE. If you will permit me to answer you, and ad- 
vise . . . 

ORG. Your advice is the best in the world, brother ; it 
is well argued, and I set great store by it : but you must 
allow me not to avail myself of it. 

ELM. {To her husband}. I am at a loss what to say, after 
all I have seen ; and I quite admire your blindness. You 
must be mightily bewitched and prepossessed in his favour, 
to deny to us the incidents of this day. 

ORG. I am your servant, and judge by appearances. I 
know your indulgence for my rascal of a son, and you were 
afraid of disowning the trick which he wished to play on 
the poor fellow. But, after all, you took it too quietly to 
be believed ; and you ought to have appeared somewhat 
more upset. 

ELM. Is our honour to bridle up so strongly at the 
simple avowal of an amorous transport, and can there be 
no reply to aught that touches it, without fury in our eyes 
and invectives in our mouth? As for me, I simply laugh 
at such talk; and the noise made about it by no means 
pleases me. I love to show my discreetness quietly, and 
am not at all like those savage prudes, whose honour is 
armed with claws and teeth, and who at the least word 
would scratch people's faces. Heaven preserve me from 
such good behaviour! I prefer a virtue that is not dia- 
bolical, and believe that a discreet and cold denial is no 
less effective in repelling a lover. 

ORG. In short, I know the whole affair, and will not be 
imposed upon. 

ELM. Once more, I wonder at your strange weakness ; 
but what would your unbelief answer if I were to show 
you that you had been told the truth. 

ORG. Show! 

ELM. Aye. 

ORG. Stuff. 


ELM. But if I found the means to show you plainly? . . . 

ORG. Idle stories. 

ELM. What a strange man ! Answer me, at least. I am 
not speaking of believing us; but suppose that we found 
a place where you could plainly see and hear everything, 
what would you say then of your good man? 

ORG. In that case, I should say that ... I should say 
nothing, for the thing cannot be. 

ELM. Your delusion has lasted too long, and I have 
been too much taxed with imposture. I must, for my 
gratification, without going any farther, make you a witness 
of all that I have told you. 

ORG. Be it so. I take you at your word. We shall see 
your dexterity, and how you will make good this promise. 

ELM. {To Dorine). Bid him come to me. 

DOR. {To Elmire). He is crafty, and it will be difficult, 
perhaps, to catch him. 

ELM. (To Dorine). No; people are easily duped by 
those whom they love, and conceit is apt to deceive itself. 
Bid him come down. (To Cleante and Mariane). And do 
you retire. 


ELM. Come, and get under this table. 

ORG. Why so? 

ELM. It is necessary that you should conceal yourself 

ORG. But why under this table ? 

ELM. Good Heavens ! do as you are told ; I have thought 
about my plan, and you shall judge. Get under there, I 
tell you, and, when you are there, take care not to be seen 
or heard. 

ORG. I confess that my complaisance is great ; but I 
must needs see the end of your enterprise. 

ELM. You will have nothing, I believe, to reply to me. 
(To Orgon under the table). Mind ! I am going to meddle 
with a strange matter, do not be shocked in any way. I 
must be permitted to say what I like ; and it is to con- 
vince you, as I have promised. Since I am compelled to 
it, I am going to make this hypocrite drop his mask by 
addressing soft speeches to him, flatter the shameful de- 


sires of his passion, and give him full scope for his au- 
dacity. As it is for your sake alone, and the better to 
confound him, that I pretend to yield to his wishes, I 
shall cease as soon as you show yourself, and things need 
not go farther than you wish. It is for you to stop his 
mad passion, when you think matters are carried far 
enough, to spare your wife, and not to expose me any 
more than is necessary to disabuse you. This is your 
business, it remains entirely with you, and 58 . . . But 
he comes. Keep close, and be careful not to show your- 

SCENE V. TARTUFFE, ELMIRE, ORGON (under the table'}. 

TAR. I have been told that you wished to speak to me 

ELM. Yes. Some secrets will be revealed to you. But 
close this door before they are told to you, and look about 
everywhere, for fear of a surprise. (Tartuffe closes the 
door, and comes back}. We assuredly do not want here a 
scene like the one we just passed through : I never was so 
startled in my life. Damis put me in a terrible fright for 
you ; and you saw, indeed, that I did my utmost to frus- 
trate his intentions, and calm his excitement. My con- 
fusion, it is true, was so great, that I had not a thought 
of contradicting him : but, thanks to Heaven, everything 
has turned out the better for that, and is upon a much 
surer footing. The esteem in which you are held has 
allayed the storm, and my husband will not take any um- 
brage at you. The better to brave people's ill-natured 
comments, he wishes us to be together at all times ; and 
it is through this that, without fear of incurring blame, I 
can be closetted here alone with you ; and this justifies 
me in opening to you my heart, a little too ready perhaps, 
to listen to your passion. 

TAR. This language is somewhat difficult to under- 

58 These words of Elmire are, in reality, addressed to the audience, to 
remind them of the necessity of unmasking the hypocrite ; they contain 
also an excuse for her farther behaviour ; for, in spite of her modesty, she 
is compelled to give convincing proof to her husband that Tartuffe is a 


stand, Madam ; and you just now spoke in quite a dif- 
ferent strain. 

ELM. Ah ! how little you know the heart of a woman, 
if such a refusal makes you angry ! and how little you un- 
derstand what it means to convey, when it defends itself 
so feebly ! In those moments, our modesty always com- 
bats the tender sentiments with which we may be in- 
spired. 59 Whatever reason we may find for the passion that 
subdues us, we always feel some shame in owning it. We 
deny it at first : but in such a way as to give you suffi- 
ciently to understand that our heart surrenders ; that, for 
honour's sake, words oppose our wishes, and that such 
refusals promise everything. This is, no doubt, making a 
somewhat plain confession to you, and showing little re- 
gard for our modesty. But, since these words have at last 
escaped me, would I have been so anxious to restrain 
Damis, would I, pray, have so complacently listened, for 
such a long time, to the offer of your heart, would I have 
taken the matter as I have done, if the offer of that heart 
had had nothing in it to please me ? And, when I myself 
would have compelled you to refuse the match that had 
just been proposed, what ought this entreaty to have given 
you to understand, but the interest I was disposed to take 
in you, and the vexation it would have caused me, that 
this marriage would have at least divided a heart that I 
wished all to myself? 60 

59 In the original French, there is a delicacy which can hardly be ren- 
dered into English. Elmire almost always avoids the use of a per- 
sonal pronoun, but employs the indefinite on, during the whole of this 
scene. This may be grammatically wrong, but is, dramatically, emi- 
nently successful. We give, as an example, the following four lines in 
the original : 

" Quelque raison qu'on trouve a 1'amour qui nous dompte 
On trouve a 1'avouer toujours un peu de honte. 
On s'en defend d'abord : mais de Pair qu'on s'y prend 
On fait connaitre assez que notre coeur se rend. 1 ' 

80 Here, again, there is a delicacy in the original French which cannot 
be rendered into English. Elmire is full of hesitation in what she is going 
to say, and she expresses this even in her grammar, which, although far 
from clear, beautifully reflects the trouble of her mind. We give the four 
last lines of her speech, crowded with que. I agree with Sainte-Beuve that 
Moliere placed them there purposely. 


TAR. It is very sweet, no doubt, Madam, to hear these 
words from the lips we love; their honey plentifully dif- 
fuses a suavity throughout my senses, such as they never 
yet tasted. The happiness of pleasing you is my highest 
study, and my heart reposes all its bliss in your affection ; 
but, by your leave, this heart presumes still to have some 
doubt in its own felicity. I may look upon these words as 
a decent stratagem to compel me to break off the match 
that is on the point of being concluded; and, if I must 
needs speak candidly to you, I shall not trust to such ten- 
der words, until some of those favours, for which I sigh, 
have assured me of all which they intend to express, and 
fixed in my heart a firm belief of the charming kindness 
which you intend for me. 

ELM. (After having coughed to warn her husband}. 
What ! would you proceed so fast, and exhaust the tender- 
ness of one's heart at once ? One takes the greatest pains 
to make you the sweetest declarations ; meanwhile is not 
that enough for you? and will nothing content you, but 
pushing things to the utmost extremity ? 

TAR. The less a blessing is deserved, the less one pre- 
sumes to expect it. Our love dares hardly rely upon words. 
A lot full of happiness is difficult to realize, and we wish 
to enjoy it before believing in it. As for me, who think 
myself so little deserving of your favours, I doubt the suc- 
cess of my boldness ; and shall believe nothing, Madam, 
until you have convinced my passion by real proofs. 

ELM. Good Heavens ! how very tyrannically your love 
acts ! And into what a strange confusion it throws me ! 
What a fierce sway it exercises over our hearts ! and how 
violently it clamours for what it desires ! What ! can I 
find no shelter from your pursuit ? and will you scarcely 
give me time to breathe ? Is it decent to be so very exact- 
ing, and to insist upon your demands being satisfied imme- 
diately ; and thus, by your pressing efforts, to take ad- 
vantage of the weakness which you see one has for you? 

" Qu'est-ce que cette instance a du vous faire entendre, 
Que 1'inteYet qu'en vous on s'avise de prendre, 
Et 1'ennui qu'on aurait que ce noeud qu'on r^sout 
Vint partager du moins un co2ur que Ton veut tout ? " 


TAR. But if you look upon my addresses with a favour- 
able eye, why refuse me convincing proofs ? 

ELM. But how can I comply with what you wish, with- 
out offending that Heaven of which you are always speak- 

TAR. If it be nothing but Heaven that opposes itself to 
my wishes, it is a trifle for me to remove such an obstacle; 
and that need be no restraint upon your love. 

ELM. But they frighten us so much with the judgments 
of Heaven ! 

TAR. I can dispel these ridiculous fears for you, Madam, 
and I possess the art of allaying scruples. Heaven, it is 
true, forbids certain gratifications, but there are ways and 
means of compounding such matters. 61 According to our 
different wants, there is a science which loosens that 
which binds our conscience, and which rectifies the evil 
of the act with the purity of our intentions. 62 We shall be 
able to initiate you into these secrets, Madam; you have 
only to be led by me. Satisfy my desires, and have no 
fear; I shall be answerable for everything, and shall take 
the sin upon myself. (Elmire coughs louder). You cough 
very much, Madam ? 

ELM. Yes, I am much tormented. 

TAR. Would you like a piece of this liquorice ? 

ELM. It is an obstinate cold, no doubt; and I know that 
all the liquorice in the world will do it no good. 

TAR. That, certainly, is very sad 

ELM. Yes, more than I can say. 

TAR. In short, your scruples, Madam, are easily over- 
come. You may be sure of the secret being kept, and 
there is no harm done unless the thing is bruited about. 
The scandal which it causes constitutes the offence, and 
sinning in secret is no sinning at all. 

61 In the original edition there is a note saying, '' It is a scoundrel who 

6:1 Pascal uses nearly the same words in the seventh Provinciate: 
"When we cannot prevent the action, we purify at least the intention; 
and thus we correct vice by means of the purity of the end." The Jan- 
senists considered for some time the Tartuffe as a sequel to Pascal's 
Letters. Machiavelli, in the Mandragore, makes Friar Timotheo use the 
same arguments in order to persuade a married woman to procure an heir 
to her husband. 


ELM. {After having coughed once more}. In short, I see 
that I must make up my mind to yield ; that I must 
consent to grant you everything ; and that with less than 
that, I ought not to pretend to satisfy you, or to be 
believed (?). It is no doubt very hard to go to that length, 
and it is greatly in spite of myself that I venture thus far; 
but, since people persist in driving me to this; since they 
will not credit aught I may say, and wish for more con- 
vincing proofs, I can but resolve to act thus, and satisfy 
them. 63 If this gratification offends, so much the worse 
foi those who force me to it : the fault ought surely not to 
be mine. 

TAR. Yes, Madam, I take it upon myself; and the thing 
in itself . . . 

ELM. Open this door a little, and. see, pray, if my hus- 
band be not in that gallery. 

TAR. What need is there to take so much thought about 
him ? Between ourselves, he is easily led by the nose. He 
is likely to glory in all our interviews, and I have brought 
him so far that he will see everything, and without be- 
lieving anything. 

ELM. It matters not. Go, pray, for a moment and look 
carefully everywhere outside. 


ORG. {Coming from under the table}. This is, I admit 
to you, an abominable wretch ! I cannot recover myself, 
and all this perfectly stuns me. 

ELM. What, you come out so soon ! You are surely 
jesting. Get under the table-cloth again ; it is not time 
yet. Stay to the end, to be quite sure of the thing, and 
do not trust at all to mere conjectures. 

ORG. No, nothing more wicked ever came out of hell. 

68 See page 438, note 50. Elmire, of course, uses on here to designate 
Orgon, though Tartuffe takes it for himself. If she had not used this in- 
definite pronoun from the very beginning, the hypocrite's suspicions might 
have been roused. We give the four last lines in the original : 

" Mais, puisque 1'on s'obstine a m'y vouloir re"duire, 
Puisqu on ne veut point croire a tout ce qu'on peut dire, 
Et qu'on veut des te'moins qui soient plus convaincants, 
II faut bien s'y r&oudre, et contenter les gens." 


ELM. Good Heavens ! you ougnt not to believe things 
so lightly. Be fully convinced before you give in ; and 
do not hurry for fear of being mistaken. 64 ( Elmire pushes 
Organ behind her). 


TAR. (Without seeing Organ). Everything conspires, 
Madam, to my satisfaction. I have surveyed the whole 
apartment ; there is no one there ; and my delighted 
soul . . . (At the moment that Tartuffe advances with 
open arms to embrace Elmire, she draws back, and Tar- 
tuffe perceives Organ). 

ORG. (Stopping Tartuffe*). Gently ! you are too eager 
in your amorous transports, and you ought not to be so 
impetuous. Ha ! ha ! good man, you wished to victimize 
me ! How you are led away by temptations ! You would 
marry my daughter, and covet my wife ! I have been a 
long while in doubt whether you were in earnest, and I 
always expected you would change your tone ; but this is 
pushing the proof far enough : I am satisfied, and wish 
for no more. 

ELM. (To Tartuffe). It is much against my inclina- 
tions that I have done this : but I have been driven to 
the necessity of treating you thus. 

TAR. (To Organ). What! do you believe . . . 

ORG. Come, pray, no more. Decamp, and without 

TAR. My design 65 ... 

ORG. These speeches are no longer of any use ; you must 
get out of this house, and forthwith. 

TAR. It is for you to get out, you who assume the 
mastership: the house belongs to me, I will make you 
know it, and show you plainly enough that it is useless 
to resort to these cowardly tricks to pick a quarrel with 

* Elmire does not joke with Orgon, but is really angry that she has 
been obliged to do violence to her innate modesty, in order to convince 

46 Tartuffe, no doubt, was going to say, " My design was to put to the 
proof the virtue of your wife." The often-mentioned Lettre sur I'impos- 
teur says that Tartuffe here calls Orgon his brother, and begins to justify 
himself. Moliere most probably modified this passage. 


me ; that one cannot safely, as one thinks, insult me ; 
that I have the means of confounding and of punishing 
imposture, of avenging offended Heaven, and of making 
those repent who talk of turning me out hence. 


ELM. What language is this ? and what does he mean ? 

ORG. I am, in truth, all confusion, and this is no 
laughing matter. 

ELM. How so? 

ORG. I perceive my mistake by what he says ; and the 
deed of gift troubles my mind. 

ELM. The deed of gift? 

ORG. Yes. The thing is done. But something else 
disturbs me too. 

ELM. And what ? 

ORG. You shall know all. But first let us go and see 
if a certain box is still upstairs. 



CLE. Where would you run to ? 

ORG. Indeed ! how can I tell ? 

CLE. It seems to me that we should begin by consulting 
together what had best be done in this emergency. 

OKG. This box troubles me sorely. It makes me de- 
spair more than all the rest. 

CLE. This box then contains an important secret ? 

ORG. It is a deposit that Argas himself, the friend whom 
I pity, entrusted secretly to my own hands. He selected 
me for this in his flight ; and from what he told me, it 
contains documents upon which his life and fortune de- 

CLE. Why then did you confide it into other hands ? 

ORG. It was from a conscientious motive. I straight- 
way confided the secret to the wretch ; and his arguing 
persuaded me to give this box into his keeping, so that, in 
case of any inquiry, I might be able to deny it by a ready 


subterfuge, by which my conscience might have full abso- 
lution for swearing against the truth. 66 

CLE. This is critical, at least, to judge from appear- 
ances; and the deed of gift, and his confidence, have been, 
to tell you my mind, steps too inconsiderately taken. 
You may be driven far with such pledges ; and since the 
fellow has these advantages over you, it is a great impru- 
dence on your part to drive him to extremities ; and you 
ought to seek some gentler method. 

ORG. What ! to hide such a double-dealing heart, so 
wicked a soul, under so fair an appearance of touching 
fervour ! And I who received him in my house a beggar 
and penniless. ... It is all over ; I renounce all pious 
people. Henceforth I shall hold them in utter abhorrence, 
and be worse to them than the very devil. 

CLE. Just so! you exaggerate again ! You never preserve 
moderation in anything. You never keep within reason's 
bounds ; and always rush from one extreme to another. 
You see your mistake, and find out that you have been 
imposed upon by a pretended zeal. But is there any 
reason why, in order to correct yourself, you should fall 
into a greater error still, and say that all pious people 
have the -same feelings as that perfidious rascal ? What ! 
because a scoundrel has audaciously deceived you, under 
the pompous show of outward austerity, you will needs 
have it that every one is like him, and that there is no 
really pious man to be found now-a-days? Leave those 
foolish deductions to free-thinkers : distinguish between 
real virtue and its counterfeit ; never bestow your esteem 
too hastily, and keep in this the necessary middle course. 
Beware, if possible, of honouring imposture ; but do not 
attack true piety also ; and if you must fall into an ex- 
treme, rather offend again on the other side. 


DAM. What ! father, is it true that this scoundrel threat- 
ens you ? that he forgets all that you have done for him, 

68 Tartuffe has taught Orgon the doctrine of '' mental reservation," just 
as he wished to teach Elmire that of " purity of intention." Pascal at- 
tacks those casuistical subtleties in the ninth Provinciate. 


and that his cowardly and too contemptible pride turns 
your kindness for him against yourself? 

ORG. Even so, my son ; and it causes me unutterable 

DAM. Leave him to me, I will slice his ears off. Such 
insolence must not be tolerated : it is my duty to deliver 
you from him at once ; and, to put an end to this matter, 
I must knock him down. 

CLE. Spoken just like a regular youth. Moderate, if 
you please, these violent transports. We live under a 
government, and in an age, in which violence only makes 
matters worse. 


MAD. P. What is all this ? What dreadful things do I 

ORG. Some novelties which my own eyes have witnessed, 
and you see how I am repaid for my kindness. I affec- 
tionately harbour a fellow creature in his misery, I shelter 
him and treat him as my own brother; I heap favours 
upon him every day ; I give him my daughter, and every- 
thing I possess : and, at that very moment, the perfidious, 
infamous wretch forms the wicked design of seducing my 
wife ; and, not content even with these vile attempts, he 
dares to threaten me with my own favours ; and, to en- 
compass my ruin, wishes to take advantage of my indis- 
creet good nature, drive me from my property which I 
have transferred to him, and reduce me to that condition 
from which I rescued him ! 

DOR. Poor fellow ! 

MAD. P. I can never believe, my son, that he would 
commit so black a deed. 

ORG. What do you mean ? 

MAD. P. Good people are always envied. 

ORG. What do you mean by all this talk, mother ? 

MAD. P. That there are strange goings-on in your 
house, and that we know but too well the hatred they 
bear him. 

ORG. What has this hatred to do with what I have told 


MAD. P. I have told you a hundred times, when a boy, 

" That virtue here is persecuted ever ; 
That envious men may die, but envy never." 

ORG. But in what way does this bear upon to-day's 
doings ? 

MAD. P. They may have concocted a hundred idle 
stories against him. 

ORG. I have already told you that I have seen every- 
thing myself. 

MAD. P. The malice of slanderers is very great. 

ORG. You will make me swear, mother. I tell you that 
with my own eyes I have witnessed this daring crime. 

MAD. P. Evil tongues have always venom to scatter 
abroad, and nothing here below can guard against it. 

ORG. That is a very senseless remark. I have seen it, I 
say, seen with my own eyes, seen, what you call seen. Am 
I to din it a hundred times in your ears, and shout like 
four people ? 

MAD. P. Goodness me ! appearances most frequently 
deceive : you must not always judge by what you see. 

ORG. I am boiling with rage ! 

MAD. P. Human nature is liable to false suspicions, and 
good is often construed into evil. 

ORG. I must construe the desire to embrace my wife 
into a charitable design ! 

MAD. P. It is necessary to have good reasons for accus- 
ing people ; and you ought to have waited until you were 
quite certain of the thing. 

ORG. How the deuce could I be more certain ? Ought 
I to have waited, mother, until to my very eyes, he had 
. . . You will make me say some foolish thing. 

MAD. P. In short, his soul is too full of pure zeal ; and 
I cannot at all conceive that he would have attempted the 
things laid to his charge. 

ORG. Go, my passion is so great that, if you were not 
my mother, I do not know what I might say to you. 

DOR. (To Orgori). A just reward of things here below, 
Sir ; you would not believe anyone, and now they will 
not believe you. 

CLE. We are wasting in mere trifling, the time that 


should be employed in devising some measures We must 
not remain inactive when a knave threatens. 

DAM. What ! would his effrontery go to that extent ? 

ELM. As for me, I hardly think it possible, and his in- 
gratitude here shows itself too plainly. 

CLE. {To Orgon). Do not trust to that; he will find 
some means to justify his doings against you ; and for less 
than this, a powerful party 67 has involved people in a vexa- 
tious maze. I tell you once more, that, armed with what 
he has, you should never have pushed him thus far. 

ORG. True enough; but what could I do? I was 
unable to master my resentment at the presumption of the 

CLE. I wish, with all my heart, that we could patch up 
even a shadow of peace between you two. 

ELM. Had I but known how he was armed against us, 
I would have avoided bringing things to such a crisis; 
and my . . . 

ORG. {To Dorine, seeing M. Loyal come in). What 
does this man want ? Go and see quickly. I am in a 
fine state for people to come to see me ! 


M. LOY. (To Dorine at the farther part of the stage}. 
Good morning, dear sister; 68 pray, let me speak to your 

DOR. He is engaged ; and I doubt whether he can see 
anyone at present. 

M. LOY. I do not intend to be intrusive in his own 
house. I believe that my visit will have nothing to dis- 
please him. I have come upon a matter of which he will 
be very glad. 

DOR. Your name? 

M. LOY. Only tell him that I am come from Monsieur 
Tartuffe, for his good. 

The originate has cabale. See Vol. II., page 129, note 28. 
M. Loyal, in employing the words " dear sister," shows at once that 
te is worthy oif being employed by Tartuffe. 


DOR. (To Organ). This is a man who comes, in a 
gentle way, from Monsieur Tartuffe, upon some business, 
of which he says, you will be very glad. 

CLE. (To Organ). You must see who this man is, and 
what he wants. 

ORG. (To Cleante). Perhaps he comes to reconcile us: 
How shall I receive him? 

CLE. You must not allow your anger to get the upper 
hand, and if he speaks of an arrangement, you should 
listen to him. 

M. LOY. (To Orgori). Your servant, Sir ! May Heaven 
punish those who would harm you, and may it favour you 
as much as I wish ! 

ORG. (Softly to Cleante). This mild beginning confirms 
my opinion, and augurs already some reconciliation. 

M. LOY. Your whole family has always been dear to 
me, and I served your father. 

ORG. I am ashamed, Sir, and crave your pardon for not 
knowing you or your name. 

M. LOY. My name is Loyal, a native of Normandy, 68 
and I am a tipstaff to the court in spite of envy. 70 For 
the last forty years, I have had the happiness, thanking 
Heaven, of exercising the functions thereof with much 
honour ; and I have come, with your leave, Sir, to serve 
you with a writ of a certain decree . . . 

ORG. What ! you are here . . . 

M. LOY. Let us proceed without anger, Sir. It is no- 
thing but a summons; a notice to quit this house, you 
and yours, to remove your chattels, and to make room 
for others, without delay or remissness, as required 

ORG. I ! leave this house ! 

M. LOY. Yes, Sir, if you please. The house at present, 
as you well know, belongs incontestably to good Monsieur 
Tartuffe. Of all your property, he is henceforth lord and 
master, by virtue of a contract of which I am the 

69 The Normans had the reputation of being very cautious (avise) the 
Scotch express it by pawky and also of being very fond of going to law ; 
hence the allusion. The original has huissier a verge. 

70 See page 393, note 24. 


bearer. It is in due form, and nothing can be said 
against it. 

DAM. {To M. Loyal}. Certainly this impudence is 
immense, and I admire it ! 

M. LOY. {To Damis). Sir, my business lies not with 
you ; (Pointing to Orgon), it is with this gentleman. He 
is both reasonable and mild, and knows too well the duty 
of an honest man to oppose the law in any way. 

ORG. But ... 

M. LOY. Yes, Sir, I know that you would not rebel for 
a million of money, and that, like a gentleman, you will 
allow me to execute here the orders which I have received. 

DAM. Mr. Tipstaff, you may chance to get your black 
gown well dusted here. 

M. LOY. {To Orgon}. Order your son to hold his 
tongue or to retire, Sir. I should be very loth to have 
recourse to writing, and to see your name figure in my 
official report. 

DOR. {Aside). This Mr. Loyal has a very disloyal air. 

M. LOY. Having a great deal of sympathy with all 
honest people, I charged myself with these documents, 
Sir, as much to oblige and please you, as to avoid the 
choice of those who, not having the same consideration 
for you that inspires me, might have proceeded in a less 
gentle way. 

ORG. And what can be worse than to order people to 
quit their own house ? 

M. LOY. You are allowed time, and I shall suspend 
until to-morrow the execution of the writ, Sir. I shall 
come only to pass the night here with ten of my people 
without noise or without scandal. For form's sake, you 
must, if you please, before going to bed, bring me the 
keys of your door. I shall take care not to disturb your 
rest, and to permit nothing which is not right. But to- 
morrow, you must be ready in the morning, to clear the 
house of even the smallest utensil ; my people shall assist 
you, and I have selected strong ones, so that they can 
help you to remove everything. One cannot act better 
than I do, I think ; and as I am treating you with great 
indulgence, I entreat you also, Sir. to profit by it, so that 
I may not be annoyed in the execution of my duty. 


ORG. (Aside}. I would willingly give just now the best 
hundred gold pieces of what remains to me for the 
pleasure of striking on this snout the soundest blow that 
ever was dealt. 

CLE. (Softly to Organ}. Leave well alone. Do not let us 
make things worse. 

DAM. I can hardly restrain myself at this strange imper- 
tinence, and my fingers are itching. 

DOR. Upon my word, Mr. Loyal, with such a broad 
back, a few cudgel blows would do you no harm. 

M. LOY. We might easily punish these infamous words, 
sweetheart ; and there is a law against women too. 

CLE. (To Monsieur Loyal}. Pray, let us put an end to 
all this, Sir. Hand over this paper quickly, and leave us. 

M. LOY. Till by-and-by. May Heaven bless you all ! 

ORG. And may it confound you, and him who sends 


ORG. Well ! mother, do you see now whether I am 
right ; and you may judge of the rest from the writ. Do 
you at last perceive his treacheries ? 

MAD. P. I stand aghast, and feel as if dropped from 
the clouds ! 

DOR. (To Orgori). You are wrong to complain, you 
are wrong to blame him, and his pious designs are con- 
firmed by this. His virtue is perfected in the love for his 
neighbour. He knows that worldly goods often corrupt 
people, and he wishes, from pure charity, to take every- 
thing away from you which might become an obstacle to 
your salvation. 

ORG. Hold your tongue. I must always be saying that 

to you. 

CLE. (To Organ). Let us consult what had best be 

ELM. Go and expose the audacity of the ungrateful 
wretch. This proceeding destroys the validity of the 
contract ; and his treachery will appear too black to allow 
him to meet with the success which we surmise. 



VAL. It is with great regret, Sir, that I come to afflict 
you ; but I see myself compelled to it by pressing danger. 
A most intimate and faithful friend, who knows the inter- 
est which I take in you, has, for my sake, by a most haz- 
ardous step, violated the secrecy due to the affairs of the 
State, and has just sent me an intimation, in consequence 
of which you will be obliged to flee immediately. The 
scoundrel who has long imposed upon you has an hour 
since accused you to the King, and amongst other charges 
which he brings against you, has lodged in his hands im- 
portant documents of a state-criminal, of which, he says, 
contrary to the duty of a subject, you have kept the guilty 
secret. I am ignorant of the details of the crime laid to 
your charge ; but a warrant is out against you ; and the 
better to execute it, he himself is to accompany the person 
who is to arrest you. 

CLE. These are his armed rights ; and by this the 
traitor seeks to make himself master of your property. 

ORG. The man is, I own to you, a wicked brute ! 

VAL. The least delay may be fatal to you. I have my 
coach at the door to carry you off, with a thousand louis 
which I bring you. Let us lose no time ; the blow is 
terrible, and is one of those which are best parried by 
flight. I offer myself to conduct you to a place of safety, 
and will accompany you to the end of your flight. 

ORG. Alas, what do I not owe to your obliging cares ! 
I must await another opportunity to thank you ; and I 
implore Heaven to be propitious enough to enable me 
one day to acknowledge this generous service. Farewell : 
be careful, the rest of you . . . 

CLE. Go quickly. We will endeavour, brother, to do 
what is necessary. 

TAR. {Stopping Orgori). Gently, Sir, gently, do not 

run so fast. You will not have to go far to find a lodging ; 

we take you a prisoner in the King's name. 


ORG. Wretch ! you have reserved this blow for the last : 
this is the stroke, villain, by which you dispatch me; and 
which crowns all your perfidies. 

TAR. Your abuse cannot incense me ; Heaven has 
taught me to suffer everything. 

CLE. Your moderation is great, I confess. 

DAM. How impudently the villain sports with Heaven ! 

TAR. All your outrages cannot move me in the least ; 
and I think of nothing but my duty. 

MAR. You may glorify yourself very much upon this ; 
and this task is very honourable for you to undertake. 

TAR. A task cannot but be glorious when it proceeds 
from the power that sends me hither. 

ORG. But do you remember, ungrateful wretch ; that 
my charitable hand raised you from a miserable con- 

TAR. Yes, I know what help I received from you ; but 
the King's interest is my first duty. The just obligation 
of this sacred duty stifles all gratitude of my heart ; and 
to such a powerful consideration, I would sacrifice friend, 
wife, kindred, and myself with them. 

ELM. The hypocrite ! 

DOR. How artfully he makes himself a lovely cloak of 
all that is sacred. 

CLE. But if this zeal, which guides you, and upon 
which you plume yourself so much, be so perfect as you 
say, why has it not shown itself until Orgon caught you 
trying to seduce his wife; and why did you not think of 
denouncing him until his honour obliged him to drive 
you from his house ? I do not say that the gift of all his 
property, which he has made over to you, ought to have 
turned you from your duty; but why, wishing to treat 
him as a criminal to-day, did you consent to take aught 
from him? 

TAR. {To the Officer}. Pray, Sir, deliver me from this 
clamour, and be good enough to execute your orders. 

OFFI. Yes, we have no doubt, delayed too long to dis- 
charge them ; your words remind me of this just in time ; 
and to execute them, follow me directly to the prison 
which is destined for your abode. 71 

71 This is a just counterpart of the deus ex machina of Tartuffe, when 


TAR. Who? I Sir? 

OFFI. Yes, you. 

TAR. Why to prison ? 

OFFI. I have no account to give to you (To Orgon]. 
Compose yourself, Sir, after so great an alarm. We live 
under a monarch, an enemy of fraud, a monarch whose 
eyes penetrate into the heart, and whom all the art of 
impostors cannot deceive. Blessed with great discernment, 
his lofty soul looks clearly at things; it is never betrayed 
by exaggeration, and his sound reason falls into no excess. 
He bestows lasting glory on men of worth ; but he shows 
this zeal without blindness, and his love for sincerity does 
not close his heart to the horror which falsehood must 
inspire. 72 Even this person could not hoodwink him, and 
he has guarded himself against more artful snares. He 
soon perceived, by his subtle penetration, all the vileness 
concealed in his inmost heart. In coming to accuse you, 
he has betrayed himself, and, by a just stroke of supreme 
justice, discovered himself to the King as a notorious 
rogue, against whom information had been laid under 
another name. His life is a long series of wicked actions, 
of which whole volumes might be written. Our monarch, 
in short, has detested his vile ingratitude and disloyalty 
towards you ; has joined this affair to his other misdeeds, 
and has placed me under his orders, only to see his imper- 
tinence carried out to the end, and to make him by him- 
self give you satisfaction for everything. Yes, he wishes 
me to strip the wretch of all your documents which he 
professes to possess, and to give them into your hands. 
By his sovereign power he annuls the obligations of the 
contract which gave him all your property, and lastly, 
pardons you this secret offence, in which the flight of a 
friend has in volved ' you ; and it is the reward of your 
former zeal in upholding his rights, to show that he knows 
how to recompense a good action when least thought of; 

he says, in the seventh scene of the fourth act, to Orgon, " It is for you to 
get out, you who assume the mastership : the house belongs to me, I will 
make you know it." 

w This praise was not wholly undeserved in 1669 ; although there seems 
to me rather too much of it. When Tartu/e was played during the first 
French Revolution, these lines were altered to suit the times, and, of 
course, the praise of the King was omitted. 


that merit never loses aught with him; and that he 
remembers good much better than evil. 75 

DOR. Heaven be praised ! 

MAD. P. I breathe again. 

ELM. Favourable success ! 

MAR. Who dared foretell this ? 

ORG. (To Tartu/e, whom the officer leads t>/"). Well, 
wretch, there you are . . . 


CLE. Ah ! brother, stop ; and do not descend to indig- 
nities. Leave the wretch to his fate, and do not add to 
the remorse that overwhelms him. Rather wish that his 
heart, from this day, may be converted to virtue ; that he 
may reform his life, in detesting his vice, and soften the 
justice of our great prince ; while you throw yourself at 
his knees to render thanks for his goodness, which has 
treated you so leniently. 

ORG. Yes, it is well said. Let us throw ourselves joy- 
'fully at his feet, to laud the kindness which his heart dis- 
plays to us. Then, having acquitted ourselves of this first 
duty, we must apply ourselves to the just cares of another, 
and by a sweet union crown in Valere the flame of a gen- 
erous and sincere lover. 

73 The analysis of the officer's speech given in the so-often-quoted 
Lettre svr V Imp osteur proves that it was different from what it now is. 
In speaking of Louis XIV., he says that "the prince had seen into 
the heart of the wretch, by an intuition, which monarchs possess above 
all other men, that calumny is abashed by his mere presence," and that 
he dislikes hypocrisy as much as it has influence over his subjects. 
All these remarks are not to be found in the officer's speech as we now 
possess it. 








THE history of Amphitryon and Alcmena, or rather the myth of the birth 
of Hercules, is certainly very old, and is to be found in the literature of 
different nations. The Indians, the Greeks, and the Romans were ac- 
quainted with it ; and it exists also among the legendary tales of the Mid- 
dle Ages, but always modified according to the several nationalities where 
we meet with it, and has sometimes a tragical, sometimes a jocular or 
ironical, ending. 

Voltaire, in his Historical Fragments about India, in the twenty-eighth 
article on The Terrestrial Paradise of the Indians, relates how the story 
of Amphitryon is found amongst the oldest fables of the Brahmins. A 
certain Brahmin having quarrelled with his wife, gave her a beating and 
left her ; an Indian divinity of an inferior rank adopted the appearance of 
the Brahmin, made his peace with her, and lived for some time with her, 
until the real husband, who repented of his former behaviour, came back 
again. But the man in possession declared that the other was an impos- 
tor, and at last the affair was brought before the Synod of Benares, who 
ordered an ordeal, which cannot be related, but in which finally the evil- 
minded divinity betrayed himself, and the lawful husband was reinstated 
in the matrimonial abode. 1 

Euripides, Epicharmus, and Archippos have also handled this subject, 
and produced it on the Greek stage ; but their plays are lost. Plautus, 
the father of Roman comedy, has written an Amphitruo, which he him- 
self calls in the prologue " Tragico-Comoedia." As Moliere owes a great 
deal of his comedy to his Latin prototype, we cannot do better than give 
Sir Walter Scott's Introduction to Dryden's remodelling of Amphitryon : 
" Plautus, the venerable father of Roman comedy, who flourished dur- 
ing the second Punic war, left us a play on the subject of Amphitryon, 
which has had the honour to be deemed worthy of imitation by Moliere 
and Dryden. It cannot be expected that the plain, blunt, and inartificial 
style of so rude an age should bear any comparison with that of the au- 
thors who enjoyed the highest advantages of the polished times to which 
they were an ornament. But the merit of having devised and embodied 
most of the comic distresses, which have excited laughter throughout so 

1 Moland and several other commentators of Moliere say that Voltaire found this 
Indian legend in Colonel Dow's book. I have looked in Voltaire ; but he does not 
say so, nor can I find it in Dow's Inaijat Allah, tales translated from the Per- 
sian, nor in his History of Hindustan. 


so many ages, is to be attributed to the ancient bard upon whose original 
conception of the plot his successors have made few and inconsiderable 
improvements. It is true that, instead of a formal Prologue who stepped 
forth in the character' of Mercury and gravely detailed to the audience 
the plot of the play, Moliere and Dryden have introduced it in the mod- 
ern, more artificial method, by the dialogue of the actors in the first scene. 
It is true, also, that with great contempt of one of the unities, afterwards 
deemed so indispensable by the ancients, Plautus introduces the birth of 
Hercules into a play, founded upon the intrigue which occasioned the 
event. Yet with all these disadvantages, and that rude flatness of his dia- 
logue, resting frequently, for wit, upon the most miserable puns, the 
comic device of the two Sosias, the errors into which the malice of Mer- 
cury plunges his unlucky original, the quarrel of Alcmena with her real 
husband, and her reconciliation with Jupiter in his stead, the final con- 
fronting of the two Amphitryons, and the astonishment of the unfortunate 
general at finding every proof of his identity exhibited by his rival, are all, 
however rudely sketched, the inventions of the Roman poet. In one re- 
spect it would seem that thejeu de theatre necessary to render the piece 
probable upon the stage, was better managed in the time of Plautus than 
in that of Dryden and Moliere. Upon a modern stage it is evidently diffi- 
cult to introduce two pairs of characters so extremely alike as to make it 
at all probable, or even possible, that the mistakes, depending upon their 
extreme resemblance, could take place. But, favoured by the masks and 
costume of the ancient theatre, Plautus contrived to render Jupiter and 
Mercury so exactly like Amphitryon and Sosia, that they were obliged to 
retain certain marks, supposed to be invisible to the other persons of the 
drama, by which the audience themselves might be enabled to distinguish 
the gods from the mortals whose forms they had assumed." 

The history of Amphitryon, strangely disguised, is also found in the 
long series of the romances of the San-Graal and of the Round Table, and 
refers to the birth of King Arthur, and not to that of Hercules. In the 
following manner Robert of Gloucester tells the tale, after Geoffry of 
Monmouth and Wace : 

"At the fest of Estre the kyng (Uther Pendragon) sende ys sonde, 
That heo comen alle to London the hey men of this londe . . . 
Alle the noble men of this lond to the noble fest come, 
And heore wyves and heore dogtren with hem mony nome, 
This fest was noble ynow, and nobliche y do ; 

For mony was the faire ledy, that y come was therto. 

Ygerne, Gorloys wyf, was iairest of echon, 

That was contasse of Cornewail, for so fair nas ther non. 

The kyng by huld hire faste y now, and ys herte on hired caste, 
And thogte, thay heo were wyf, to do folye atte laste." 

But she refused to listen to him, and told all to her husband, who, full 
of anger and " with oute leve of the kyng," went back to his own coun- 
try. Then Gorloys placed his wife and some of his troops in a very strong 
fortress, Tintagell, and went himself with a division of his retainers into 
another fortress of Cornwall. Uther soon made his appearance, and " the 
castel, that the erl inne was, the king by segede faste.'' But Ygerne was 
never out of his thoughts, and " the castel ys so strong that the lady ys 
inne," that he gave himself up to the greatest despair. Merlyn, who 
"was sory ynow for the kynge's folye,'' was sent for, and by his magic art 
he gave to Uther the appearance of Gorloys, while he himself, and Ulfyn, 
the king's confidant, assumed the outward looks of two of the earl 01 


Cornwall's " men," Brithoel and Jordan. Thus changed, they appear be- 
fore the castle, where the countess was, and the porter, seeing his lord and 
his friends, let them in, " The contas was glad y now, tho hire lord to hire 
com, and eyther other in here armes myd gret joye nom." In the mean- 
time the king's men took the castle where the earl was, Gorloys was slain, 
and these tidings were brought to Ygerne. The pretended earl told her] 
however, that he had left his own castle secretly, "that none of myne 
menyt nuste," and that he was going back to "the kynge, and make my 
pays with him." He went away and " come toward ys men, ys own forme 
he nom." Afterwards king Uther married the noble and widowed coun- 
tess, but on that night, when he appeared as Gorloys, 

"Bi gete was the beste body, that ever was in this londe, 
Kyng Arthure the noble mon, that ever worthe understonde." 

There is a great difference between the Celtic and classical tradition. 
Ygerne is not wholly ! unlike Alcmena ; but the comical element is totally 
wanting in the first, whilst Arthur and Merlin, although peculiar in their 
notions of love and morality, are staid and mysterious personages. 

Plautus' Amphitryo was acted in Latin, in Italy, in the fifteenth cen- 
tury, and in 1560, Lodovico Dolce brought out an imitation of it, under 
the title of // Marito. But two earlier translations of this play already 
existed in Spanish ; one in prose, done by Francisco de Villalobos, physi- 
cian to Charles the Fifth, which was published in 1515, and another by 
Fernando Perez de Oliva, principal of the university of Salamanca. 
Camoens, the poet of the Lusiad, produced a piece in imitation of Plautus' 
comedy, which, according to de Sismondi's Historical view of the Litera- 
ture of the South of Europe, " is executed with considerable wit and spirit." 
In 1638, Jean de Rotrou published an imitation of the Latin comedy, in 
French, which he called The Two Sosias, and in 1650, only a short time 
before his death, he remodelled his piece, for the theatre du Marais, as 
une grande piece a machines, which bore the title of The birth of Hercules. 
In 1653 there was represented at the court the grand Ballet of Night, ar- 
ranged by Benserade, with machinery by Torelli. The sixth entree of the 
second veille, is occupied by a pantomime (comedie muette}, which is 
chiefly based on Plautus' plot. 

Fifteen years after this pantomime, Moliere fixed upon the same sub- 
ject, and wrote his Amphitryon, one of the most charming and natural 
comedies composed in French verse. But his husband is not the Roman 
spouse, who is rather proud of having a god for collaborateur, nor does 
his Jupiter, who threatens to kill himself before Alcmena's eyes, give a 
very correct idea of the classical '' father of gods and men." But, on 
the other hand, his Cleanthis is a happy creation, and the model of a 
" nagging " but virtuous woman, so fond of using her tongue, that even 
Mercury, although a god under the disguise of her husband, rather avoids 
responding to her uxorious advances, and thereby causes an increase of 
the wrath of the shrew. This greatly enhances the comic interest of the 
play, and forms an amusing contrast to the display of conjugal tenderness 
between Jupiter, the pretended Amphitryon, and the newly-married 
Alcmena. Sprightliness and vivacity abound in this comedy, which are 
enhanced by the short and long verses, used whenever suitable, and the 
alternate rhymes, in which it is written. 

It has been said that Moliere, in producing his Amphitryon, wished to 
flatter the nascent passion of Louis XIV. for Madame de Montespan. but 


this accusation seems to me absolutely without foundation. This play 
was represented on the I3th of January, 1668 ; and it was only some 
months later that this high-born lady became the recognized mistress of 
the King, who would not have permitted any allusions to be made to his 
amours. Moreover, Amphitryon was not represented at Court, but at the 
theatre of the Palais Royal, so that the allusions if any existed must have 
appeared to the Parisian public, at all times inclined to be satirical, as far 
from complimentary. In any case the comedy was very successful, and 
was represented twenty-nine consecutive times. 

Amphitryon was dedicated to the Prince de Conde in the following 
words : 

My Lord, 

Under favor of the Wits, I know nothing more impertinent than Dedications ; 
and Your most serene Highness will give me leave not to follow here the style of 
those gentlemen, and to omit using two or three miserable thoughts, which have 
been turned and returned so often, that they are worn threadbare. The name of 
the Great Conde is too glorious a name to be treated like other names. That 
illustrious name must be applied to no uses unworthy of it ; and were I to say fine 
things, I would rather talk of putting it at the head of an army, than at the head of 
a book ; and I should much better conceive what it is able to do, by opposing it 
to the forces of the enemies of the state, than by opposing it to the criticism of the 
enemies of a Play. 

Not but that your serene highness' approbation is a powerful protection for all 
these kind of works, and that people are persuaded of your knowledge, as well as 
of your intrepid courage and your greatness of soul. It is known throughout the 
whole world, that your merit is not circumscribed by the bounds of that unconquer- 
able valour which gains adorers even amongst those whom it vanquishes ; that 
that merit extends even to the nicest and sublimest sciences ; and that your decis- 
ions concerning intellectual works never fail to be assented to even by the most 
fastidious. But it is likewise known, my Lord, that all those glorious approba- 
tions which we boast of to the public cost us nothing to print, and that they are 
things which we dispose of at pleasure. It is known, I say, that an epistle dedica- 
tory says what it pleases, and that an author has it in his power to lay hold of the 
most august persons, and to adorn the first leaves of his book with their great 
names ; that he has the liberty herein to give himself the honour of their esteem 
as much as he will, and to make to himself protectors who never had the least 
thoughts of being so. 

I shall neither abuse your name nor your goodness, my Lord, to oppugn the 
critics of Amphitryon, and to assume a glory which perhaps I have not deserved ; 
and I take the liberty of offering you my play, only to have the opportunity of 
letting you know that I incessantly regard you with profound veneration, the great 
qualities which you join to the august blood from which you descend, and that I 
am, my Lord, with all possible respect and imaginable zeal, your most serene 
Highness' very humble, very obedient, and very obliging servant, 


In the seventh volume of the translated Select Comedies of M. de Mo- 
liere, London, 1732, this play is dedicated to the Right Honourable George 
Dodington, Esq., in the following words: 

SIR : You are so generally known to be an Encourager of Literature, that every 
Professor of it, from the highest to the lowest, considers you as his Friend ; and 
grows ambitious of paying his best Respects to one whose Genius, Learning, Po- 
liteness, Candour, Benevolence, and Love of the Muses are so eminently remarkable. 
Give me leave therefore to lay before you a Translation of MOLIERB'S Amphitryon. 
the Fruits of my leisure Hours. And as the Rhyme and Measure of the Verses in 
the Original make it difficult to be render' d literally into English Prose, be so 
good as to excuse such Passages as your Judgment cannot approve. 

Most Writers would launch out on this occasion, and elaborately draw a Charac- 
ter which, however pleasing it might prove to others, would, I am confident, be 
disagreeable to you. But, for my part, I shall only add, that whatsoever Motives 


Dedications usually proceed from, the sole Intent of this to assure you and all the 
World, that 1 am, with great esteem, SIR, Your most Obedient Humble Servant 


John Dryden, in his Amphitryon, performed in 1690, has borrowed 
both from Plautus and Moliere ; " But, 1 ' says Sir Walter Scott, " the 
wretched taste of the age has induced him to lard the piece with gratui- 
tous indelicacy. He is, in general, coarse and vulgar, where Moliere is 
witty ; and where the Frenchman ventures upon a double meaning, the 
Englishman always contrives to make it a single one. Yet, although in- 
ferior to Moli&re, and accommodated to the gross taste of the seventeenth 
century, " Amphitryon " is one of the happiest effusions of Dryden's 
comic muse. He enriches the plot by the intrigue of Mercury and Phas- 
dra ; and the petulant interested " Queen of Gipsies," as her lover terms 
her, is a bad paramour for the God of Thieves. In the scenes of a higher 
cast Dryden far outstrips both the French and Roman poets. The sensa- 
tion to be expressed is not that of sentimental affection, which the good 
father of Olympus was not capable of feeling ; but love of that grosser and 
subordinate kind, which prompted Jupiter in his intrigues, has been by 
none of the ancient poets expressed in more beautiful verse than that in 
which Dryden has clothed it, in the scenes between Jupiter and Alc- 

Dr. Hawkesworth remodelled and castrated Dryden's Amphitryon, in 
which altered form it was acted at the Theatres Royal, Drury Lane and 
Covent-Garden. '' Dryden's comedy," says the Doctor, " is so tainted 
with the profaneness and immodesty of the times in which he wrote, that 
the present time, however selfish and corrupt, has too much regard to ex- 
ternal decorum to permit the representation of it upon the stage, without 
drawing a veil, at least, over some parts of its deformity." It is further 
stated, in the preface to Dr. Hawkesworth's alteration, '' In the scene be- 
tween Sosia and Mercury, in the second act, Amphitryon is supposed to 
have sent a buckle of diamonds by Sosia as a present to Alcmena ; for 
Sosia first asks Mercury if Amphitryon did send a certain servant with a 
present to his wife ; and soon after asks him, " What that present was ;" 
which, by Mercury's answer, appears to be the diamond buckle. Yet in 
the scene between Amphitryon and Alcmena in the third act, when Alc- 
mena asks him, as a proof of having been with her before, from whose 
hands she had the jewel, he cries out, " This is amazing ; have I already 

given you those diamonds? the present I reserved ." And instead 

of supposing that Sosia had delivered them as part of his errand, which 
he pretended he could not execute, he appeals to him for their being in 
safe custody, reserved to be presented by himself. This is an incon- 
sistency peculiar to Dryden, for neither Plautus nor Moliere anywhere 
mention the present to have been sent by Sosia. There is another inac- 
curacy of the same kind which occurs both in Plautus and Moliere. It 
appears, in the second scene of the second act, that one part of Sosia's 
errand was to give Alcmena a particular account of the battle ; and So- 
sia's account of his being prevented is so extravagant and absurd that 
Amphitryon cannot believe it ; yet, when Alcmena, in the third scene, 
asks Amphitryon how she came to know what he had sent Sosia to tell 
her, Amphitryon, in astonishment, seems to admit that she could know 
these particulars only from himself, and does not consider her questions 
as a proof that Sosia had indeed delivered his message, though, for some 
reasons, he had pretended the contrary, and forged an incredible story 
to account for his neglect. As it would have been so much more natural 


for Amphitryon to have supposed that Sosia had told him a lie, than that 
Alcmena had by a miracle learned what only he and Sosia could tell 
her, without seeing either of them ; this inaccuracy is removed by intro- 
ducing such a supposition, and making the dialogue correspond with it. 
In the second Act, Jupiter, in the character of Amphitryon, leaves Alc- 
mena with much reluctance, pretending haste to return to the camp, and 
great solicitude to keep his visit to her a secret from Thebans ; yet when 
he appears again in the third Act, which he knew would be taken for the 
third appearance of Amphitryon, he does not account for his supposed 
second appearance at the return of the real Amphitryon, just after his de- 
parture, which seems to be absolutely necessary to maintain his borrowed 
character consistently ; and without dropping the least hint of his being 
no longer solicitous to conceal his excursion from the camp, he sends 
Sosia to invite several of the citizens to dinner. Many other inaccura- 
cies less considerable and less apparent have been removed, which it 
is not necessary to point out : whoever shall think it worth while dili- 
gently to compare the play as it stood, with the altered copy, can scarce 
fail to see the reason of the alterations as they occur. It must be con- 
fessed that there are still many things in Amphitryon, which, though I 
did not obliterate, I would not have written ; but I think none of these 
are exceptionable in a moral view." Let us add to this, that the Doc- 
tor altered also some of Dryden's songs, and substituted others which 
are very flat. In the Prologue he says : 

"The scenes which Plautus drew to-night we shew, 
Touched by Moliere, by Dryden taught to glow. 
Dryden ! in evil day his genius rose, 
When wit and decency were constant foes : 
Wit then defiled in manners and in mind, 
Whene'er he sought to please,- disgrac'd mankind, 
Freed from his faults, we bring him to the fair." 

A German literateur, Heinrich von Kleist (1776-1811) has also written 
an Amphitryon, in which he freely imitates Moliere. The great differ- 
ence is in the conversation between Jupiter, as Amphitryon, and Alc- 
mena, which, in the German author is full of a certain kind of mystic 
sentimentality, and in which Jove, disguised as Amphitryon, informs 
her that the real Amphitryon, who has visited her, is the father of 
gods and men. 




JUPITER, in the form of Amphitryon. 
MERCURY, in the form of Sosia. 
AMPHITRYON, general of the Thebans. 


} Theban captains. 


SOSIA, Amphitryon's servant* 
ALCMENA, Amphitryon's wife. 
CLEANTHIS, her maid, Sosia's wife 


1 This part was played by the author himself. In the inventory given 
by M. Soulie 1 , and so often quoted, Moli&re's dress in the character of 
Sosia consists of: " the sleeves and the lower part of the theatrical classi- 
cal cuirass (tonnelef) of green taffeta, with a small lace of fine silver, a 
chemisette of the same taffeta, two leggings of red satin, a pair of shoes, 
with tags, ornamented with silver lace, with a silk stocking of a peculiar 
kind of light green colour (Celadon), the festoons, the belt and a skirt, and 
a cap, embroidered with fine gold and silver." 



MERCURY, on a cloud j NIGHT, drawn through the air by 
two horses. 

MERC. Gently ! charming Night, deign to stay a-while. 
Some help is wanted of you ; and I have two words to 
say to you from Jupiter. 

NIGHT. Ah ! it is you, Sir Mercury ! who would have 
thought of you in such a position ? 

MERC. Upon my word, getting tired, and not being 
able to fulfil the different duties which Jupiter lays upon 
me, I quietly sat down on this cloud to await your coming. 

NIGHT. You are jesting, Mercury; and you do not 
mean it ; does it become the gods to say that they are 
tired ? 

MERC. Are the gods made of iron ? 

NIGHT. I wot not ; but it is meet to preserve continu- 
ally the divine decorum. There are certain words the use 
of which lowers this sublime attribute, and which should 
be left to men, because they are undignified. 

MERC. How easily you speak of it ; and you have, fair 
charmer, a chariot, in which, like a careless great lady, 
you are drawn by two good horses wherever you like. But 
it is not the same thing with me, and I cannot, in my 
fatal destiny, bear the poets too great a grudge, for their 
extreme impertinence, in having, by an unjust law, of 
which they wish to keep up the custom, given to each 



god, for his behoof, a special conveyance, and have left 
me to go on foot, me, like a village messenger ; I, who, 
as is well known, am the famous messenger of the sove- 
reign of the gods, in the skies and on the earth ; and who, 
without exaggerating anything, stand more than any one 
else in need of the means of travelling about, on account 
of all the duties which he lays upon me. 

NIGHT. How can you help it ? The poets do as they 
like. It is not the first stupidity which we have seen these 
gentlemen commit. But at any rate, your irritation 
against them is unreasonable, for the wings at your feet 
are due to their care. 

MERC. Yes ; but does one tire oneself less in going 
more quickly ? 

NIGHT. Let us leave this, Sir Mercury, and come to the 

MERC. It is Jupiter, as I have told you, who wishes the 
sombre favour of your cloak for a certain gallant adven- 
ture, with which a new love-affair provides him. His tac- 
tics are not new to you, I believe : he very often neglects 
the skies for the earth ; and you are not ignorant that this 
master of the gods is fond of becoming humanized for 
mortal beauties, and has a hundred ingenious tricks to 
vanquish the most cruel. He has felt the darts of Alc- 
mena's eyes ; and whilst Amphitryon, her husband, com- 
mands the Theban troops on Beoetia's plains, he has as- 
sumed his form, and under that disguise relieves his pains, 
in the possession of the sweetest pleasures. The condition 
of the wedded pair is propitious to his flame : Hymen has 
united them only a few days since ; and the still young 
fire of their tender love has made Jupiter have recourse to 
this pretty artifice. In this case his stratagem has proved 
successful ; but with many a cherished object a similar 
disguise would be of no use, and to assume the form of a 
husband is not everywhere a good means of pleasing. 

NIGHT. I admire Jupiter, and I cannot conceive all the 
disguises that come into his head. 

MERC. In this way, he wishes to have a taste of all sorts 
of conditions ; and it is not at all acting as a stupid god. 
From whatever point of view he may be regarded by 
mortals, I would think very little of him if he never aban- 


doned his redoubtable mien, and were always full of affec- 
tation, in the highest part of Heaven. In my opinion, 
there can be nothing more foolish than to be always im- 
prisoned in one's grandeur ; and, above all, a lofty rank 
becomes very inconvenient in the transports of amorous 
ardour. Jupiter, who, no doubt, is a good judge of 
pleasure, knows how to descend from the height of his 
supreme glory ; and, to enter into every thing that pleases 
him, he leaves his individuality behind him, and it is no 
longer Jupiter who appears. 

NIGHT. One might yet overlook seeing him descend 
from his sublime estate to enter into that of men, to enjoy 
all the transports of which their hearts are capable, and to 
accommodate himself to their jests, if, in the changes to 
which his disposition drives him, he would confine him- 
self to human nature. But to see Jupiter as a bull, a ser- 
pent, a swan, or anything else, I do not think it nice, and 
am not at all astonished that it is sometimes talked about. 

MERC. Let all the cavillers talk : such changes have a 
charm which surpasses their understanding. This god 
knows well enough what he is about there as elsewhere : 
and that, in the movements of their tender passions, the 
brutes are not so stupid as one would think. 

NIGHT. Let us return to the fair one whose favours he 
enjoys. If, by his stratagem, he finds that his passion is 
successful, what more can he wish, and what can I do ? 

MERC. That, to satisfy the desires of his enamoured 
soul, you should slacken the pace of your horses, to make 
of so delightful a night, the longest night of all ; that you 
should allow more time to his transports, and that you 
should retard the break of day which must hasten the re- 
turn of him whose place he takes. 

NIGHT. This is no doubt a nice employment, which the 
great Jupiter reserves for me ! And an honourable name 
is given to the service required of me ! 

MERC. You are rather old-fashioned for so young a god- 
dess ! Such an employment has nothing degrading except 
among people of low birth. When one has the happiness 
of being in a lofty rank, whatever is done is always well 
and good; and things change their names according to 
what one may be. 


NIGHT. You know more about such matters than I do ; 
and I shall believe in your superior knowledge, and accept 
this employment. 

MERC. Now, now, Madam Night, a little gently, I pray. 
In the world you have the reputation of not being so par- 
ticular. In a hundred different climates you are made the 
confidant of many gallant adventures : and, to tell you my 
mind plainly, I believe that we have nothing with which 
to reproach each other. 

NIGHT. Let us drop these bickerings, and remain what 
we are. Let us not give mankind cause to laugh by tell- 
ing each other the truth. 

MERC. Farewell. I am going yonder on this business, 
promptly to doff the form of Mercury, to don the figure 
of Amphitryon's servant. 

NIGHT. I am going to make a stay in this hemisphere 
with my dark train. 

MERC. Good day, Night. 

NIGHT. Farewell, Mercury. 8 

{Mercury descends from his cloud ; Night crosses 
the stage. 


SCENE I. SOSIA, alone. 

Who goes there? He? My fear increases at every 
step ! Gentlemen, I am a friend to everyone. Ah ! what 
extraordinary boldness to be abroad at such an hour as 
this ! What a scurvy trick, my master, covered as he is 
with glory, plays me here ! What ! would he have me set 
out in such a dark night, if he had any love for his fellow- 
man ! Could he not as well have waited till daylight, to 
send me to announce his return and the details of his 
victory? To what slavery is thy life subjected, Sosia! 

8 Moliere got the primary idea of this Prologue from Plautus' Amphi- 
tryon (Act i., Scene i), where Mercury addresses Night thus: "Go on, 
Night, as you've begun, and pay obedience to my father. In best style, 
the best of services are you performing for the best of beings ; in giving 
this, you reap a fair return." 


Our lot is much harder with the great than with the little. 
They will have it that everything in nature be compelled to 
be sacrificed to them. Night and day, hail, wind, danger, 
heat cold, the moment they speak we must fly. Twenty 
long years of hard services avail us nothing with them. 
The slightest whim draws down their anger upon us. In 
spite of all this, our foolish hearts cling to the empty honour 
of remaining with them, and will be contented with the 
false notion, which all other people share, that we are 
happy. 4 In vain, reason calls us to retire ; in vain our 
spite sometimes consents to this ; their presence has too 
powerful an influence on our zeal, and the slightest favour 
of a caressing look re-engages us more firmly than ever. 
But at last, I perceive our house through the darkness, and 
my fear vanishes. 5 I must have some set speech for my 
mission. I owe to Alcmena some military sketch of the 
great battle which sent all our enemies to the right-about. 
But how the deuce am I to describe it, when I was not 
there? No matter, let us speak of cut and thrust, as if 
I had been eye-witness. How many people tell of battles, 
from which they kept far enough away ! In order to act 
my part with credit, I will rehearse it a little. This is 
supposed to be the room in which I enter as the bearer 
of despatches; and this lantern is Alcmena, whom I have 
to address. 6 {He sets his lantern on the ground and 
addresses his speech to if). Madam, Amphitryon, my 
master and your husband, . . . (Good ! that is a nice 
beginning!) whose thoughts are ever filled with your 
charms, has been pleased to choose me from amongst all 

4 Sosia expresses himself as a courtier of Louis XIV. Plautus' Sosia 
complains only of the harsh condition of a slave, but says nothing " of the 
honour of remaining " with the master. 

5 In Plautus' Amphitryon, Sosia is very much afraid of meeting some 
one, and of being beaten. Still, he seems in no hurry to arrive, for he 
utters a soliloquy of about two hundred lines. Moliere makes Sosia per- 
ceive the house, and thus his fear vanishes. 

6 The scene in which Sosia addresses the lantern is an imitation of a 
scene in the fifth fable of the third night of the Piacevoli Notti of Stra- 
parola ; with this difference, that, in the Italian tale, the servant who has 
killed the bull with the golden horns, in order to give those horns to his 
mistress, hangs his clothes upon a branch of a tree, and then addresses 
'them in an explanatory speech, which he intends afterwards to deliver to 

his master, who has confided the bull to his guard. 


to give you tidings of the success of his arms, and 
of his desire to be with you. "Ah! really, my good 
Sosia, I am heartily delighted to see you back again." 
Madam, you do me too much honour, and my lot is to 
be envied. (Well answered !) "How fares Amphitryon?" 
Madam, as a man of courage should, whenever an occasion 
offers for behaving with glory. (Capital ! that is well con- 
ceived !) "When will he, by his charming return, satisfy 
my heart?" As quickly as he can, assuredly, Madam, but 
much less early than his heart desires. (Ah!) "But in 
what state has the war left him? What says he? What does 
he? Set my heart at rest." He says far less than he 
does, Madam, and makes his enemies tremble. (Plague ! 
where do I get all these pretty speeches?) What are 
the rebels doing? tell me, what is their present condi- 
tion ?" They could make no stand against us, Madam ; we 
cut them to pieces, put their chief, Pterelas, 7 to death, 
took Telebos 8 by storm; and the whole port rings already 
with our prowess. "Ah ! what success ! ye gods ! Who 
could ever have thought it? Tell me, Sosia, how it all oc- 
curred." Willingly, Madam; and without boasting. 
I can give you, very accurately, the details of this victory. 
Imagine, then, Madam, that Telebos is on this side. 
(Sosia marks the places on his hand, or on the ground*). 
It is a city really almost as large as Thebes. The river is, 
as it were, there. Our people encamped here ; and that 
space here was occupied by our enemies. On a height, 
somewhere thereabout, was their infantry; and a little 
lower down, towards the right, their cavalry. After 
having addressed our prayers to the gods, and issued every 
order, the signal was given. The enemy, thinking to cut 
out work for us, divided their horse into three platoons ; 
but we soon cooled their courage, and you shall see how. 
There, is our vanguard eager to be at work; there, stood 
the archers of our king, Creon ; and here, was the main 
body of the army (Some noise from within), which was 

7 Pterelas did not live in the time of Amphitryon, but was the son of 
Taphius, a son of a niece of Alcaeus, the father of Amphitryon. Plautus 
and Moliere have made the same mistake. 

8 Telebos was the capital of the island of Taphe, not far from Ithaca, on 
the coast of Acarnania. 

Horace Vemet 


about to ... Stay, the main body of the army is afraid; 
I hear some noise, methinks. 9 


MERC. (In the form of Sosia, coming out of Amphytriorf s 
house). Under this guise which resembles him, let us drive 
away this babbler, whose unfortunate arrival might disturb 
the happiness which our lovers are enjoying together. 

Sos. (Not seeing Mercury). My spirits revive a little, 
and after all, I think it was nothing. For fear of a 
sinister adventure, however, let us go and finish the con- 
versation indoors. 

MERC. (Aside). Unless you be stronger than Mercury, 
I shall prevent your doing so. 

Sos. ( Without seeing Mercury). This night seems to me 
inordinately long. Judging by the time I have been on 
the way, my master must have mistaken evening for 
morning, or fair Phoebus lies too long in bed through 
having taken too much wine. 

MERC. (Aside~). With what irreverence this lout speaks 
of the gods ! My arm shall just now chastise well this 
insolence ; and I shall have some real fun with him by 
stealing his name as well as his likeness. 

Sos. (Perceiving Mercury a little way off~). Ah ! upon 
my word, I was right after all : it is all over with me, poor 
wretch ! I perceive, before our house, a man, whose mien 
bodes me no good. To appear easy, I shall hum a little. 10 

(He sings). 

MERC. What fellow is this, who takes the liberty to sing 
and to deafen me in this manner ? (As Mercury speaks, 
Sosia' s voice grows gradually weaker). Does he wish me 
to give him a drubbing ? 

Sos. (Aside). Assuredly that fellow has no love for 
music. 11 

Plautus' Sosia gives a serious and detailed narrative of the battle ; 
Moliere's preserves the real comedy tone. 

10 Compare Nick Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer- Nigh? s 
Dream (Act iii., Scene i), saying, "I will sing that they shall hear I am 
not afraid.' ' 

11 This dialogue is imitated from Plautus, except Sosia's remark about 
the fellow having no love for music. 


MERC. For the last week, I have found no one whose 
bones I could break ; my arm loses its strength in this 
idleness ; and I am looking out for some back to regain 
my cunning. 

Sos. (Aside). What the deuce of a fellow is this? My 
heart is big with mortal fear. But why should I tremble 
so ? Perhaps the fellow is just as much afraid as I am, 
and speaks in that way to hide his fear underneath a pre- 
tended audacity. Yes, yes, let us not allow him to think 
us a goose. If I am not bold, let me try to appear so. Let 
us reason ourselves into courage ; he is alone like me ; I 
am strong, I have a good master, and there is our house. 

MERC. Who goes there ? 

Sos. I. 

MERC. Who, I ? 

Sos. I. (Aside). Courage, Sosia. 

MERC. What is your condition in life, tell me ? 

Sos. To be a man, and to speak. 

MERC. Are you master, or servant? 

Sos. As the whim takes me. 
MERC. Whither are your steps bent ? 

Sos. Where I intend to go. 

MERC. Ah ! this displeases me. 

Sos. I am delighted to hear it. 

MERC. Positively, by fair means or foul, I shall know 
from you, wretch, what you are doing, where you came 
from before day-break, whither you are going, and who 
you may be. 

Sos. I do good and ill by turns ; I come hence ; I go 
thither; I belong to my master. 12 

MERC. You show some wit, and you have a mind, I 
perceive, to assume with me the man of importance. I feel 
inclined, to make acquaintance, to give you a box on the 
ear with my own hand. 

Sos. To me? 

MERC. To you ; and there it is for you, to make sure of 
it. (Mercury slaps Sosia' s face). 

Sos. Ho ! ho ! this is in earnest ? 

12 Nearly the whole of this lively dialogue is partly imitated from 


MERC. No, it is only for fun, and in answer to your 

Sos. Zounds ! friend, how you deal your blows about 
without one's saying anything to you. 

MERC. These are the least of my blows ; my little ordi- 
nary boxes on the ear. 

Sos. Were I as hasty as you, we should make nice work 
of it. 

MERC. All this is nothing as yet. We shall see some- 
thing better anon ; but to provide a little interval, let us 
continue our conversation. 

Sos. I give up the game. ( Wishes to go. 

MERC. {Stopping hint). Where are you going? 

Sos. What does it matter to you ? 

MERC. I wish to know where you are going. 

Sos. To get that door opened to me. Why do you de- 
tain me? 

MERC. If you are impudent enough to go only near it, 
I shall shower down a storm of blows upon you. 

Sos. What ! you wish, by your threats, to prevent my 
entering our own house ? 

MERC. How ! our house ? 

Sos. Yes, our house. 

MERC. O, the wretch! you belong to that house, you 

Sos. Indeed I do. Is not Amphitryon the master of 

MERC. Well! what does that prove? 

Sos. I am his servant. 

MERC. You ! 

Sos. I. 

MERC. His servant ? 

Sos. Without a doubt. 

MERC. The servant of Amphitryon ? 

Sos. Of Amphitryon, of him. 

MERC. Your name is? . . . 

Sos. Sosia. 

MERC. Heh! what? 

Sos. Sosia. 

MERC. Harkee ! do you know that, with my fist, I shall 
knock you down on the spot? 


Sos. For what? What fury seizes you? 

MERC. Tell me, who made you so rash as to assume the 
name of Sosia? 

Sos. I, I do not assume it ; I have had it all my 

MERC. O what a horrible lie, and what extreme im- 
pudence ! You dare to maintain that Sosia is your name ! 

Sos. Indeed I do ; I maintain it, for the very good 
reason that the gods have so ordained it by their supreme 
decree, and that it lies not in my power to say nay, and to 
be any other than myself. 

MERC. A thousand cudgel- strokes ought to be the re- 
ward of such effrontery. 

Sos. (Beaten by Mercury). Justice, citizens ! Help ! I 
beseech you. 

MERC. How, you hang-dog, you cry out ! 

Sos. You kill me with a thousand blows, and you do 
not wish me to cry out? 

MERC. It is thus that my arm . . . 

Sos. It is an unworthy action. You take advantage 
of the superiority which my want of courage gives you over 
me ; and that is not fair. It is mere hectoring to wish to 
profit by the poltroonery of those whom we thrash. To 
beat a man who we know will not fight, is not a generous 
action ; and to show courage against those who have none, 
is blamable. 

MERC. Well! are you Sosia now? what say you? 

Sos. Your blows have effected no metamorphosis in 
me; and all the change that I can find in the case is that 
I am Sosia beaten. 

MERC. (Threatening Sosia]. Again! A hundred fresh 
blows for this new impudence. 

Sos. Pray, cease your blows. 

MERC. Then cease your insolence. 

Sos. Anything you please ; I keep silence. The dispute 
is too unequal between us. 

MERC. Are you Sosia still ? say, wretch? 

Sos. Alas ! I am what you please : dispose of my fate 
entirely according to your wish ; your arm has made you 
master of it. 

MERC. Your name was Sosia, by what you said ? 


Sos. It is true, until now I thought the thing plain 
enough; but your stick has made me see that I was mis- 
taken in the matter. 

MERC. It is I who am Sosia, and all Thebes confesses 
it : Amphitryon has never had any other than me. 

Sos. You, Sosia? 

MERC. Yes, Sosia ! and if any one plays tricks with him, 
let him look to himself. 

Sos. (Aside). Heaven ! must I thus renounce my own 
self, and see my name stolen from me by an impostor. 
How extremely fortunate it is for him that I am a coward, 
or else, 'sdeath ! . . . 

MERC. You are murmuring, I know not what, between 
your teeth. 

Sos. No. But, in the name of the gods, give me leave 
to speak for one moment to you. 

MERC. Speak. 

Sos. But promise me, I pray, that there shall be no 
blows. Let us sign a truce. ls 

MERC. Proceed : go on, I grant you that point. 

Sos. Who, tell me, put this fancy into your head? 
What good will it do you to take my name away from me ? 
And, even were you a demon, could you, in short, prevent 
me from being myself, from being Sosia? 

MERC. (Lifting his stick}. How! Can you . . . 

Sos. Ah ! hold ; we have discarded blows. 

MERC. What ! hangdog, impostor, rascal ! . . . 

Sos. As for names, call me as many as you like ; these 
are slight wounds, and I am not angry at them. 

MERC. You say you are Sosia ? 

Sos. Yes. Some nonsensical tale has been . . . 

MERC. Now then, I break our truce, and take back my 

Sos. No matter. I cannot annihilate myself for you, 
and stand a speech so very improbable. Is it in your 
power to be what I am? and can I cease to be myself? 
Did anyone ever hear of such a thing? And can one 
give the lie to a hundred convincing proofs? Do I dream? 
Am I asleep ? Is my mind disturbed by some powerful 

M This dialogue is again followed from Plautus. 


transport? Do I not plainly feel that I am awake? Am 
I not in my right senses? Has not my master, Amphi- 
tryon, charged me to come hither to Alcmena his wife ? 
Am I not to extol his love for her, and to give an account 
of his deeds against our enemies? Have I not just come 
from the harbour ? Have I not a lantern in my hand ? 
Have I not found you in front of our dwelling? Did I 
not talk to you in a perfectly kind manner ? Do you not 
take an advantage of my cowardice, to hinder me from 
entering our house? Have you not spent your rage upon 
my back? Have you not belaboured me with blows? 
Ah ! all this is but too real ; and would to Heaven, it were 
less so ! Cease therefore to insult a wretch's lot ; and leave 
me to acquit myself of the calls of my duty. 

MERC. Stop, or the least step brings down upon your 
back a thundering outbreak of my just wrath. All that 
you have mentioned just now is mine, except the blows. 

Sos. This lantern knows how, my heart full of fear, I 
departed this morning from the vessel. Has not Am- 
phitryon sent me to Alcmena, his wife, from the camp ? 

MERC. You have told a lie. It was I whom Amphitryon 
deputed to Alcmena, and who, at this moment, arrives from 
the Persian Port ; u I, who come to announce the valour 
of his arm which gained us a complete victory, and slew the 
chief of our enemies. In short, it is I who assuredly am 
Sosia, son of Davus, an honest shepherd ; brother to Har- 
page who died in a foreign country; husband to that 
prude Cleanthis, whose temper drives me mad ; who has 
received a thousand lashes at Thebes, without ever saying 
aught about it ; and who was formerly publicly marked 
on the back, for being too honest a man. 15 

Sos. {Quietly aside}. He is right. Unless one be 
Sosia, one cannot know all he says ; and amidst the as- 
tonishment which seizes upon me, I begin, in my turn, to 
believe him a little. In fact, now that I look at him, I 

14 According to Riley, Plautus is here guilty of an anachronism ; for the 
'' Portus Persicus," which was on the coast of Euboea, was so called from 
the Persian fleet lying there on the occasion of the expedition to Greece, 
many ages after the time of Amphitryon. 

15 Among the ancients, marking with a red-hot iron upon the shoulder 
was unknown as a public punishment. In Plautus, Sosia says, that he 
has been whipped. 



perceive that he has my figure, my face, my gestures. Let 
me ask him some question, in order to clear up this mys- 
tery. (Aloud). What did Amphitryon obtain for his 
share of all the plunder taken from our enemies ? 

MERC. Five very large diamonds, neatly set in a clus- 
ter, with which their chief used to adorn himself as a rare 
piece of workmanship. 16 

Sos. For whom does he intend such a rich present ? 

MERC. For his wife ; and he wishes her to wear them. 

Sos. But where is it placed at present, until it shall be 
brought ? 

MERC. In a casket sealed with the arms of my master." 

Sos. (Aside). He does not tell a single lie in any of 
his answers ; and I begin really to be in doubt about 
myself. With me he is already, by sheer force, Sosia ; 
and he might perhaps also be he by reason. And yet 
when I touch myself and recollect, it seems to me that I 
am myself. Where shall I find some trustworthy light to 
clear up what I see ? What I have done alone, and what 
no one has seen, cannot be known unless by myself. By 
that question, I must astonish him ; and that is enough to 
puzzle him, and we shall see. (Aloud). When they were 
fighting, what did you do in our tents ; whither you ran 
alone to hide yourself? 

MERC. From off a ham . . . 

Sos. (Quietly aside). That is it ! 

MERC. Which I unearthed, I bravely cut two juicy 
slices, with which I stuffed myself nicely. And adding 
thereto a wine of which they are very chary, and the sight 
of which pleased me even before I tasted it, I imbibed 
some courage for our people who were fighting. 

Sos. (Softly aside). This matchless proof concludes 
well in his favour : and, unless he were in the bottle, 
nothing is to be said against it. 18 (Aloud). From the 

16 In Plautus, Amphitryon receives a '' golden goblet " for his share, 
which has become almost historical, because historians have mentioned it, 
and described its form. 

17 Arms were unknown to the ancients, for heraldry came in only with 
chivalry. But the ancients used signet rings upon which was engraved 
some peculiar sign. 

18 This is also taken from Plautus; only Mercury speaks there of "an 
earthen pot," and not of a bottle. 


proofs laid before me, I cannot deny that you are Sosia, 
and I acknowledge it. But, if you are he, tell me whom 
you wish me to be ; for after all I must be somebody. 

MERC. When I shall be no longer Sosia, you may be 
he, I agree to that ; but while I am he. it will be your 
death to take such a fancy into your head. 

Sos. All this confusion sets my wit on edge, and reason 
is contrary to what one sees. But there must be an end 
to this somehow or other ; and the shortest way for me is 
to go in there. 

MERC. Ah ! you hangdog, you, with another taste of the 

Sos. {Beaten by Mercury). Ah ! what is this ? Great 
gods ! he strikes harder still ; and my back will be sore 
for a month to come. Let me leave this devil of a fellow, 
and return to the harbour. O just Heavens, I have made 
a pretty embassy ! 

MERC. (Alone}. At last I have made him fly ; and, by 
this treatment, he has got his punishment for many of his 
deeds. But I perceive Jupiter, who, very politely, escorts 
the amorous Alcmena. 

SCENE III. JUPITER under the form of Amphitryon, ALC- 

JUP. Forbid, dear Alcmena, the torch-bearers to ap- 
proach. They afford me delight in beholding you; but 
might betray my coming hither, which had best remain 
concealed. My love, restrained by all these weighty 
cares with which the glory of our arms held me fettered, 
has stolen the moments which it has just given to your 
charms from the duties of my post. This theft, which my 
heart devoted to your beauty, might be blamed by the 
public voice ; and the only witness whom I wish, is she 
who can thank me for it. 

ALC. I take great interest, Amphitryon, in the glory 
which your illustrious exploits shed upon you; and the 
fame of your victory moves my heart in its most sensible 
part. But when I perceive that this fatal honour keeps 
away from me him whom I love, I cannot forbear, in my 
excessive tenderness, to bear it some ill-will, and even to 
cavil at the supreme order which makes you the Thebans 


general. It is sweet after a victory to see the glory of one 
whom we love ; but among the perils inseparable from 
this glory, a fatal stroke, alas ! may quickly come. With 
how many fears is our heart seized at the rumour of the 
slightest skirmish ! In the horrors of such a thought, can 
we ever see aught with which to console ourselves for the 
threatened blow? And with whatever laurels the con- 
queror may be crowned, whatever share one may have in 
that high honour, is it worth that which it costs to a 
tender heart, which trembles every moment for him whom 
it loves ? 19 

JUP. I see nothing in you but what increases my pas- 
sion ; everything proves to my eyes a thoroughly ena- 
moured heart ; and it is, I own it, a charming thing, to 
find so much love in a beloved object. But, if I may 
dare to say so, one scruple troubles me in the tender sen- 
timents which you show to me ; and in order to relish 
them the more, my passion, dear Alcmena, would owe 
nothing to your duty. Let the favours, which I receive 
from you, be due to your love, and to my person only ; 
and let not my position as your husband be the motive for 
their bestowal. 

ALC. It is from that name, however, that the ardour 
which devours me holds its right to show itself; and I do 
not understand this new scruple with which your passion 
is perplexed. 

JUP. Ah ! the love and tenderness which I have for you 
exceeds also that of a husband ; and in those sweet mo- 
ments you are not aware of its delicacy : you do not 
understand that an enamoured heart is studiously intent 
upon a hundred trifles, and worries itself about the manner 

19 The Alcmena of Plautus utters sentiments more worthy of a Roman 
matron. This is what she says of her husband (Act ii., Scene 2) : " This, 
at least, makes me happy, that he has conquered the foe, and has returned 
home laden with glory. Let him be absent, if only with fame acquired 
he betakes himself home. I shall bear and ever endure his absence with 
mind resolved and steadfast ; if only this reward is granted me, that my 
husband shall be hailed the conqueror in the warfare, sufficient for myself 
will I deem it. Valour is the best reward ; valour assuredly surpasses all 
things : liberty, safety, life, property and parents, country too, and chil- 
dren, by it are defended and preserved. Valour comprises everything in 
itself: all blessings attend him in whose possession is valour." 


of being happy. In me, fair and charming Alcmena, you 
behold a lover and a husband ; but, to speak frankly, it is 
the lover only I care for; and I feel that, when near you, 
the husband checks him. This lover, jealous of your affec- 
tion to the last degree, wishes your love to abandon itself 
to him alone; and his passion desires nothing that the 
husband gives him. From the fountain-head, he wishes to 
obtain your love, and to owe nothing to the bonds of 
wedlock; nothing to a wearying duty which makes the 
heart ache, and by which the sweetness of the most valued 
favours is daily poisoned. In the scruples, in short, by 
which he is tormented, he wishes, in order to satisfy his 
delicacy, that you separate himself from that which is 
offensive to him, and that the husband be only for your 
virtue ; and that the lover shall have all the affection and 
tenderness of your heart, which is all gentleness. 

ALC. Really, Amphitryon, you must be jesting, to talk 
in this manner ; and I should be afraid, that if anyone 
heard you, you would be thought out of your right senses. 

JUP. There is more sense in this discourse, Alcmena, 
than you think. But a longer stay would render me too 
guilty, and the time presses for my return to the port. 
Farewell. The harsh dictates of my duty tear me away 
from you for a while ; but, fair Alcmena, try at least, I 
pray you, when you see the husband, to recollect the 

ALC. I do not separate that which the Gods unite, and 
husband and lover are very precious to me. 


CLE. (Aside). O Heaven ! how sweet are the caresses 
of an ardently beloved husband ! and how far is my wretch 
of a husband from all this tenderness. 

MERC. (Aside). I must inform Night that she has but 
to furl all her sails, and the sun may now arise from his 
bed to put out the stars. 

CLE. (Stopping Mercury). What ! Is it thus that you 
leave me ? 

MERC. And how then ? Would you wish me not to 
acquit myself of my duty, and follow Amphitryon's foot- 
steps ? 


CLE. But to separate from me in this abrupt fashion, 
you wretch. 

MERC. A fine subject to be angry about ! We have still 
so long to remain together ! 

CLE. But what ! to go in such a brutal manner, without 
saying a single kind word to cheer me up. 

MERC. Where the deuce would you have my brains 
fetch you this silly stuff from? Fifteen years of marriage 
exhaust one's discourse ; and we have said all that we had 
to say to each other long ago. 

CLE. Look at Amphitryon, you wretch ; see how he 
shows his ardour for Alcmena : and after that, blush for 
the little passion that you display towards your wife. 

MERC. Eh ! good gracious, Cleanthis, they are still 
lovers. There comes a certain age when all this is done 
with ; and what in those beginnings suits them well 
enough, would look very awkward in us, old married 
folks. It would be a pretty sight to see us, face to face, 
saying sweet things to each other. 

CLE. What ! perfidious wretch, am I past hoping that a 
heart might sigh for me ? 

MERC. No, I should be sorry to say so ; but I have too 
grey a beard to dare to sigh, and I should make you die 
with laughter. 

CLE. You hangdog, do you deserve the signal luck of 
having a virtuous woman like me for your wife ? 

MERC. Great Heavens ! if anything you are too vir- 
tuous ; all this merit is of little value to me. Be a little 
less an honest woman, and do not pester my brains so much. 

CLE. How ! do you find fault with me for being too 
virtuous ? 

MERC. A woman's sweet temper is her chief charm ; 
and your virtue makes such a clamour that it never ceases 
deafening me. 

CLE. You wish for a heart full of feigned tenderness, 
for those women with the laudable and pretty talent of 
knowing how to smother their husbands with caresses in 
order to make them swallow the existence of a gallant. 

MERC. Upon my word, shall I tell you candidly? An 
ideal evil affects only fools; and I would take for my 
device: " Less honour and more quietness." 

1 88 AMPHITRYON. [ ACT 11. 

CLE. What ! would you endure, without repugnance, 
that I should love a gallant without any shame ? 

MERC. Yes, if I were no longer pestered with your 
scolding, and if I could see you change your temper and 
your way. I would sooner have a convenient vice, than a 
worrying virtue. Farewell, Cleanthis, my dear soul; I 
must follow Amphitryon. 

CLE. ( Uone). Why has not my heart sufficient resolu- 
tion to punish this infamous wretch ! Ah, how it maddens 
me, in this instance, to be an honest woman ! 


AMPH. Come here, you gallows-bird, come here. Do 
you know, Master Scoundrel, that your talk is enough for 
me to knock you down, and that my anger only waits for 
a stick to beat you as I wish? 

Sos. If you take it in that strain, Sir, I have nothing 
more to say; and you will be always in the right. 

AMPH. What, you wretch ! you wish to foist upon me as 
truths stories which I know to be impossibly extravagant ? 

Sos. No : I am the servant, and you are the master ; 
it shall be just as you wish it, Sir. 

AMPH. Come, I will suppress the anger that is burning 
within me, and listen at length to the details of your 
mission. I must clear up this confusion before seeing my 
wife. Collect yourself, consider well within yourself, and 
answer word for word to each question. 

Sos. But for fear of making a mistake, tell me before- 
hand, if you please, in what manner you wish this matter 
explained. Shall I speak, Sir, according to my conscience, 
or in the manner usually employed when addressing the 
great ? Must I tell the truth, or am I to be complaisant ? 

AMPH. No ; I shall only compel you to give me a very 
straightforward account. 

Sos. Very well. That is sufficient, leave it to me ; you 
have only to question me. 

AMPH. Upon the order which I lately gave you . . . 


Sos. I set out, the skies veiled with a black crape, 
swearing strongly against you under this vexatious mar- 
tyrdom, and cursing twenty times the order of which you 

AMPH. How so, you scoundrel ! 

Sos. Sir, you have only to say the word, and I shall tell 
lies, if you wish. 

AMPH. That is how a servant shows his zeal for us ! No 
matter. What happened to you on the road ? 

Sos. To have a mortal fright at the slightest object 
that I saw. 

AMPH/ Poltroon ! 

Sos. Nature has her whims in forming us ; she bestows 
on us various inclinations ; some find a thousand delights 
in exposing themselves ; I find them in keeping myself 

AMPH. When you reached the house . . . 

Sos. I wished to rehearse a little before the door, in 
what strain and in what manner I would give a glorious 
account of the battle. 

AMPH. What then? 

Sos. Some one came to disturb and embarrass me. 

AMPH. Who? 

Sos. Sosia; another I, jealous of your orders, whom 
you sent from the port to Alcmena, and who has as full 
knowledge of our secrets as I who speak to you. 

AMPH. What tales ! 

Sos. No, Sir, it is the plain truth : this I, sooner than 
I, found himself at our house; and I swear to you, Sir, 
that I was there before I had arrived. 

AMPH. Whence proceeds, I pray you, this confounded 
nonsense? Is it a dream? is it drunkenness? aberration 
of mind, or a bad joke? 

Sos. No, it is the thing as it is, and not at all an idle 
tale. I am a man of honour, I give you my word ! and 
you may believe it, if you please. I tell you that, believing 
to be but one Sosia, I found myself two at our house ; and 
that of these two I's, jealous of each other, one is at home, 
and the other is with you ; that the I whom you see here, 
tired to death, found the other I fresh, jovial, and active, 
and having no anxiety but to fight and break bones. 


AMPH. I must be, I confess, of a temper very staid, very 
calm, and very gentle, to allow a servant to entertain me 
with such nonsense ! 

Sos. If you put yourself in a passion, no more conference 
between us ; you know all is over at once. 

AMPH. No, I will listen to you without excitement; I 
promised it. But tell me in sober conscience, is there any 
shadow of probability in this new mystery which you have 
just been telling me? 

Sos. No ; you are right, and the affair must appear to 
everyone past belief. It is an incomprehensible fact, an 
extravagant, ridiculous, irksome tale : it shocks common 
sense ; but it is not the less a fact. 

AMPH. How can a man believe it, unless he be bereft 
of his senses? 

Sos. I did not believe it myself without the utmost 
difficulty. I thought myself touched in my mind to believe 
myself two, and for a long time I treated this other self 
as an impostor: but he forced me at last to recognise 
myself ; I saw that it was I, without the least stratagem ; 
from head to foot he is exactly like me handsome, a noble 
mien, well favoured, charming manners ; in short, two 
drops of milk are not more alike ; and were it not that his 
hands are somewhat too weighty, I should be perfectly 
satisfied about it. 

AMPH. With how much patience I must arm myself! 
But after all, did you not go into the house? 

Sos. That is good, go in ! He ! In what way ? Did I 
ever wish to listen to reason ? and did I not forbid myself 
to enter our door? 

AMPH. How? 

Sos. With a stick, of which my back feels still the 
smarting pain. 

AMPH. You have been beaten? 

Sos. Indeed I have. 

AMPH. And by whom ? 

Sos. By myself. 

AMPH. You, beat yourself? 

Sos. Yes, I ; not the I that is here, but the I from the 
house, who strikes like four. 

AMPH. Heaven confound you for talking to me thus ! 


Sos. I am not joking: the I whom I met just now has 
great advantages over the I who is speaking to you. 
He has a strong arm and a lofty courage; I have had 
proofs of it; and this devil of an I has thrashed me 
properly; he is a fellow who does impossible things. 

AMPH. Let us have done. Have you seen my wife? 

Sos. No. 

AMPH. Why not? 

Sos. For a sufficiently strong reason. 

AMPH. Who hindered you, rascal? Explain yourself. 

Sos. Must I repeat the same thing twenty times to 
you? I, I tell you, this I stronger than I; this I who, by 
force, took possession of the door; this I who made me 
decamp; this I who wishes to be the only I; this I jealous 
of myself; this valiant I, whose anger showed itself to this 
cowardly I; in short, this I who is at home; this I who 
has shown himself my master; this I who has racked me 
with blows. 20 

AMPH. His brain must be disturbed by having had too 
much drink this morning. 

Sos. May I be hanged if I have had anything but 
water ! You may believe me on my oath. 

AMPH. Then your senses must have been asleep, and 
some bewildering dream has shown you all these confused 
fancies which you foist upon me for truths. 

Sos. As little as the other. I have not been asleep, 
and do not even feel inclined for it. I am speaking to you 
wide-awake; I was quite wide-awake this morning, upon 
my life, and quite wide-awake was also the other Sosia, 
when he belaboured me so well. 

AMPH. Follow me ; I command you to be silent : You 
have wearied my mind enough ; and I must be the veriest 
fool to have the patience to listen to the nonsense which a 
servant utters. 

Sos. (Aside). Every discourse is nonsense coming from 
an obscure fellow. If some great man were to say the 
same things, they would be exquisite words. 

10 In Plautus, Sosia, when interrogated by Amphitryon, who has been 
beating him, replies also, " I myself, who am now at home, beat me my- 


AMPH. Let us go in without waiting any longer. But 
here comes Alcmena in all her charms. Doubtless she 
does not expect me at this moment, and my arrival will 
surprise her. 


ALC. ( Without seeing Amphitryon). Come, Cleanthis, let 
us approach the gods, and offer up our homages for my 
husband, and render them thanks for the glorious success, 
of which Thebes, by his arm, reaps the advantage. (Per- 
ceiving Amphitryon}. O ye gods! 

AMPH. Heaven grant that victorious Amphitryon may be 
once more met with pleasure by his wife! And that this 
day may be propitious to my passion, and restore you to 
me with the same affection ! May I find as much fondness 
as my heart brings back to you ! 

ALC. What ! returned so soon ? 

AMPH. Truly, this is, in this instance, to give me but a 
sorry proof of your affection : and this, "What! returned 
so soon," is hardly the language on such an occasion of a 
heart truly inflamed with love. I presumed to flatter my- 
self that I had stayed away from you too long. The ex- 
pectation of an ardently longed for return invests each 
moment with excessive length; and the absence of what 
we love, however short, is always too long. 

ALC. I do not see . . . 

AMPH. No, Alcmena, we measure the time in such cases 
by our own impatience; and you count the moments of 
absence as one who does not love. When we really love, 
the least separation kills us ; and the one whom we delight 
to see never comes back too soon. I confess that my fond 
affection has reason to complain at your reception ; and I 
expected different transports of joy and tenderness from 
your heart. 

ALC. I am at a loss to understand on what you found 
the words which I hear you speak ; and if you complain 
of me, I do not know in good truth what would needs 
satisfy you. It seems to me that last night, at your happy 
return, I showed a sufficiently tender joy, and repaid your 
proofs of affection by everything which you had reason to 
expect from my love. 


AMPH. How ? 

ALC. Did I not show plainly enough the sudden ecsta- 
cies of a perfect joy ! And can a heart's transports be 
better expressed at the return of a husband who is tender- 
ly loved ? 

AMPH. What is it you tell me ? 

ALC. That even your affection showed an incredible joy 
at my reception ; and that, having left me at the break 
of day, I do not see that my surprise at this sudden return 
is so much to blame. 

AMPH. Has some dream last night, Alcmena, anticipated 
in your fancy the reality of my return, which I hastened ; 
and having, perhaps, used me kindly in your sleep, does 
your heart imagine my love sufficiently repaid ? 

ALC. Has some disease in your mind, Amphitryon, by 
its malignity, obscured the truth of last night's return ? 
and as to the tender welcome I gave you, does your heart 
pretend to rob me of all my honest affection ? 

AMPH. Methinks this disease with which you entertain 
me is somewhat strange. 

ALC. It is the only thing one can give in exchange for 
the dream of which you talk to me. 

AMPH. Unless by a dream, one can certainly not excuse 
what you tell me now. 

ALC. Unless by a disease which troubles your mind, 
one cannot justify what I hear from you. 

AMPH. Let us have done with this disease for a moment, 

ALC. Let us have done with this dream for a moment, 

AMPH. As to the subject in question, the jest may be 
carried too far. 

ALC. Undoubtedly ; and, as a sure proof of it, I begin 
to feel somewhat moved. 

AMPH. It is in this way then that you wish to try 
to make amends for the welcome of which I com- 
plained ? 

ALC. And you wish to try to divert yourself by this 

AMPH. For Heaven's sake ! let us cease this, I pray 
you, Alcmena, and let us talk seriously. 


ALC. It is carrying the jest too far, Amphitryon ; let 
us end this raillery. 

AMPH. What ! dare you maintain to my face that I was 
seen at this spot before this hour ? 

ALC. What ! have you the assurance to deny that you 
came hither yesterday towards evening ? 

AMPH. I ! I came yesterday? 

ALC. Undoubtedly ; and, just before the break of day, 
you went away again. 

AMPH. (Aside). Heavens ! was ever such a debate as 
this heard of? And who would not be astonished at all 
this ? Sosia ! 

Sos. She has need of half-a-dozen grains of hellebore, 
Sir ; her brain is turned. 

AMPH. Alcmena, in the name of all the gods, this dis- 
course will have strange consequences ! Recollect yourself 
a little better, and reflect upon what you say. 

ALC. I am indeed seriously reflecting ; and all the 
inmates of the house witnessed your arrival. I do not know 
what motive makes you act thus; but if the thing had 
need of proof, if it were true that one could not recollect 
such a thing, from whom, but yourself, could I hold the 
news of the latest of all your battles, and the five diamonds 
worn by Pterelas, plunged into eternal night by the force 
of your arm ? What surer proof could one wish ? 

AMPH. What? have I already given you the cluster of 
diamonds which I had for my share, and which I intended 
for you? 

ALC. Assuredly it is not difficult to convince you thor- 
oughly of it. 

AMPH. And how? 

ALC. (Pointing to the cluster of diamonds at her girdle}. 
Here it is. 

AMPH. Sosia! 

Sos. (Taking a casket from his pockef). She is jesting, 
and I have it here. The feint is useless, Sir. 

AMPH. (Examining the casket}. The seal is unbroken ? 

ALC. (Presenting the diamonds to Amphitryon). Is it an 
illusion? There. Will you think this proof strong 
enough ? 

AMPH. O Heaven ! O just Heaven ! 


ALC. Come, Amphitryon, you are joking with me by 
acting in this way ; and you ought to be ashamed of it. 

AMPH. Break this seal quickly. 

Sos. {Having opened the casket}. Upon my word, it is 
empty. It must have been abstracted by witchcraft, or else 
it must have come by itself, without a guide, to her whom 
it knew that it was intended to adorn. 

AMPH. (Aside}. Ye gods, whose power directs all things, 
what is this adventure, and what can I augur from it at 
which my passion startles not ? 

Sos. (To Amphitryon). If she speaks the truth, we share 
the same fate, and like me, Sir, you are double. 21 

AMPH. Hold your tongue. 

ALC. What is there to be so much surprised at? and 
whence this great emotion ? 

AMPH. {Aside}. O Heaven! what strange confusion ! I 
see supernatural incidents, and my honour fears an adven- 
ture which my senses do not understand. 

ALC. Do you still think to deny your sudden return, 
when you have so sensible a proof of it ? 

AMPH. No; but be so kind, if it be possible, to relate to 
me what happened at this return? 

ALC. Since you ask an account of the matter, you still 
wish to insinuate that it was not you ? 

AMPH. Pray, pardon me ; but I have a certain reason for 
asking you to relate it. 

ALC. Have the important affairs which may occupy 
your mind, made you so soon lose the remembrance of it ? 

AMPH. Perhaps so : but, in short, you would oblige me 
by telling me the whole story. 

ALC. The story is not long. I advanced towards you 
full of fond surprise ; I embraced you tenderly, and more 
than once testified my joy. 

AMPH. (Aside). Ah! I could have done without so 
sweet a welcome. 

ALC. You first made me this valuable present, destined 
for me from the conquered plunder. Your heart vehemently 

>l In Plautus (Actii., Scene 2) Sosia says: "You have brought forth 
another Amphitryon, I have brought forth another Sosia ; now if the 
goblet has brought forth a goblet, we have all produced our doubles." 


unfolded to me all the fire of your passion, and the carking 
cares which had kept it enchained in the joy of seeing me 
again, the pangs, of absence, all the trouble caused by 
your impatience to return ; and never, on similar occasions, 
did your love seem to me so tender and so passionate. 

AMPH. (Aside). Can one be more exquisitely tortured 
to death ! 

ALC. As you may well believe, all these transports, all 
this tenderness did not displease me; and if I must confess 
it, my heart, Amphitryon, found a thousand charms in 

AMPH. What then, pray? 

ALC. We interrupted each other with a thousand fond 
inquiries. The repast was served. We supped by our- 
selves ; and the supper over, we retired to bed. 

AMPH. Together? 

ALC. Assuredly. What a question is that? 

AMPH. (Aside). Ah ; this is the most cruel blow of all, 
and of which my jealous passion trembles to assure it- 

ALC. Whence comes, at this word, so deep a blush? 
Have I done any harm in sleeping with you? 

AMPH. No, to my great grief, it was not I ; and whoso- 
ever says that I came hither yesterday, tells, of all false- 
hoods, the most horrible. 

ALC. Amphitryon! 

AMPH. Perfidious woman ! 

ALC. Ah ! what outburst is this ! 

AMPH. No, no, no more fondness, no more respect : this 
misfortune puts an end to all my firmness; and my heart 
at this fatal moment, breathes only fury and revenge. 

ALC. And on whom would you be revenged ? and what 
want of faith makes you treat me now as a criminal ? 

AMPH. I know not, but it was not I ; and this is a 
despair which renders me capable of anything. 

ALC. Away, unworthy husband, the fact speaks for 
itself, and the imposture is frightful. This is taking too 
great an advantage of me, and it is too much to condemn 
me for faithlessness. If, in this confused outburst, you are 
seeking a pretext for breaking the nuptial bonds which 
hold me enchained to you, all these excuses are superfluous, 


for I am fully determined that this very day all our bonds 
shall be dissolved. 22 

AMPH. After the disgraceful insult, which has been re- 
vealed to me, it is what, no doubt, you should prepare for : 
it is the least that can be expected ; and things may per- 
haps not rest there. The dishonour is certain, my misfor- 
tune is plainly revealed to me, and my love endeavours in 
vain to conceal it from me; but I am as yet unacquainted 
with the particulars, and my just wrath demands to be en- 
lightened. Your brother can openly vouch for it that I did 
not leave him until this morning : I am going to seek him, 
in order that I may confound you about this return which 
is falsely imputed to me. Afterwards, we shall penetrate 
to the bottom of a mystery unheard of until now; and, in 
the transports of a righteous wrath, woe be to him who 
has betrayed me ! 

Sos. Sir . . . 

AMPH. Do not accompany me, but wait here for me. 

CLE. (To Alcmena). Must I ... 

ALC. I can attend to nothing: leave me alone, and 
follow me not. 23 


CLE. (Aside). Something must have disordered his 
brain ; but the brother will immediately put an end to 
this quarrel. 

Sos. (Aside). This is a sufficiently severe blow for my 
master ; and his adventure is cruel. I very much fear 
something of the same kind for myself, and I will very 
gently, explain myself to her. 

CLE. (Aside}. Let us see whether he will so much as 
speak to me ! But I will let nothing appear. 

22 In Plautus, when the real Amphitryon comes back, Alcmena expresses 
her astonishment at his unexpected return ; but when her husband loads 
her with reproaches, she replies, like a true Roman matron, I have brought 
you "that which is called a dowry, I do not deem the same my dowry ; 
but chastity, and modesty, and subdued desires, fear of the Gods, and love 
of my parents, and concord with my kindred ; to be obedient to yourself, 
and bounteous to the good, ready to aid the upright." In Moliere, Alcmena 
is the young loving Frenchwoman. 

** This scene, which is really the principal one of the comedy, is wholly 
taken from Plautus. 


Sos. (Aside). These things are often annoying to 
know, and I tremble to ask her. Would it not be better, 
for safety's sake, to remain altogether ignorant of what 
may be the truth ? Yet, at all events, I must try and find 
out. I cannot help doing so. One of the weaknesses of 
human nature is curiosity to learn things which it would 
not like to know. May Heaven preserve you, Cleanthis ! 

CLE. Ah ! you dare to come near me, you wretch? 

Sos. Great Heaven ! what ails you ? You are always 
in a temper, and you get angry about nothing ! 

CLE. What do you call about nothing ? Say ? 

Sos. I call about nothing what is called about nothing 
in verse as well as prose ; and nothing, as you well know, 
means nothing, or at least very little. 

CLE. I do not know what prevents my scratching your 
eyes out, infamous wretch, and teaching you how far the 
anger of a woman can go. 

Sos. Hullo ! Whence comes this furious outburst ? 

CLE. What ! then you reckon as nothing what you have 
done to me ? 

Sos. What ? 

CLE. What ? you pretend to be innocent ? Is it by the 
example of your master that you will say that you did not 
return here ? 

Sos. No, I know the contrary too well ; but I shall not 
be cunning with you. We had drunk of I do not know 
what wine, which made me forget all that I might have done. 

CLE. You imagine, perhaps, to excuse yourself by this 
trick . . . 

Sos. No, seriously you may believe me. I was in a 
condition in which I may have done things for which I 
should be sorry, and of which I have no recollection. 

CLE. You do not at all remember the manner in which 
you treated me when you came from the port ? 

Sos. Not in the least. You had better give me an ac- 
count of it : I am just and sincere, and would eondemn 
myself if I am wrong. 

CLE. How ! Amphytryon having warned me, I sat up 
until you came ; but I never beheld such coldness : I had 
to remind you of your having a wife ; and when I wished to 
kiss you, you turned away your head, and presented your ear. 


Sos. Good ! 

CLE. What do you mean by good ? 

Sos. Good Heavens ! You do not know why I talk 
thus, Cleanthis. I had been eating garlic, and like a 
well-behaved man did quite right in turning my breath a 
little away from you. 

CLE. I gave you to understand the tenderness of my 
heart ; but you were as deaf as a post to all that I said ; 
and not a kind word passed your lips. 

Sos. Courage ! 

CLE. In short, notwithstanding my advances, my chaste 
flame found nothing in you but ice ; and I felt disap- 
pointed to receive no response from you, even so far as to 
refuse to take your place in bed which the laws of wed- 
lock oblige you to occupy. 

Sos. What ! did I not go to bed ? 

CLE. No, you sneak. 

Sos. Is it possible? 

CLE. Wretch, it is but too true. Of all affronts this is 
the greatest ; and, instead of your heart making amends 
for it this morning, you separated from me with words of 
undisguised contempt. 

Sos. Bravo, Sosia ! 

CLE. Eh, what ! This is the effect of my complaint ! 
You laugh at this pretty piece of work ! 

Sos. How satisfied I am with myself ! 

CLE. Is this the way to express your regret for such an 
outrage ? 

Sos. I should never have believed that I could so well 
control myself. 

CLE. Far from condemning yourself for such perfidious 
behaviour, you show your joy for it in your face ! 

Sos. Good gracious ! not so fast ! If I appear to be 
joyous, think that I have a strong inward reason for it, 
and that, without thinking of it, I never did better than 
in behaving to you in such a way just now. 

CLE. Are you making fun of me, you wretch ? 

Sos. No, I am speaking frankly to you. In the condi- 
tion in which I was, I had a certain fear, which, by your 
words, you have dissipated. I was very apprehensive, and 
feared that I had committed some foolishness with you. 


CLE. What is this fear ? and let us know wherefore ? 

Sos. The doctors say that, when one is drunk, one 
should abstain from one's wife, and that, in that state 
there can be no other result than children who are dull, 
and who cannot live. Reflect, if my heart had not 
armed itself with coldness, what inconveniences might 
have followed ! 

CLE. I do not care a pin for doctors, with their insipid 
arguments. Let them give rules to the sick, without 
wishing to govern people who are in good health. They 
meddle with too many affairs in pretending to put a curb 
upon our chaste desires ; and in addition to the dog-days, 
they give us, besides their severe rules, a hundred cock- 
and-bull stories into the bargain. 

Sos. Gently. 

CLE. No. I maintain that theirs is a wrong conclusion ; 
those reasons emanate from crack-brained people. Neither 
wine nor time can be fatal to the performance of the duties 
of conjugal love ; and the doctors are asses. 

Sos. I beseech you, moderate your rage against them ; 
they are honest people, whatever the world may say of 

CLE. You are altogether in the wrong box ; your sub- 
mission is in vain ; your excuse will not pass ; and sooner 
or later I will pay you out, between ourselves, for the con- 
tempt which you show me every day. I keep in mind all 
the particulars of our conversation, and I shall try to profit 
by the liberty which you allow me, you cowardly and 
perfidious husband. 

Sos. What? 

CLE. You told me just now, you mean wretch, that you 
would freely consent that I should love another. 

Sos. Ah ! as for that, I am wrong. I retract ; my 
honour is too much concerned. You had better beware 
of giving way to that passion. 

CLE. If I can, however, but once make my mind up to 
it ... 

Sos. Let us suspend this conversation for a little. 
Amphitryon returns, who seems quite contented. 



JUP. (Aside). I shall take this opportunity of appeas- 
ing Alcmena, of banishing the grief in which her heart 
wishes to indulge, and, under the pretext that brings me 
hither, of giving my passion the sweet pleasure of recon- 
ciling myself with her. (To Cleanthis}. Alcmena is up 
stairs is she not? 

CLE. Yes; full of uneasiness she seeks solitude, and has 
forbidden me to follow her. 

JUP. Whatever prohibition she may have made does not 
apply to me. 


CLE. He has soon got over his grief, from what 1 can 

Sos. What say you, Cleanthis, to this cheerful mien, 
after his terrible quarrel ? 

CLE. That we would do well to send all the men to the 
devil, and that the best of them is not worth much. 

Sos. These things are said in a passion ; but you are 
too much taken up with the men ; and, upon my word, 
you would all look very glum, if the devil should carry us 
all off. 

CLE. Indeed . . . 

Sos. Hush. Here they come. 


JUP. Alas ! Do you wish to drive me to despair ? Stay, 
fair Alcmena. 

ALC. No, I cannot stay with the author of my grief. 

JUP. I entreat you 1 

ALC. Leave me. 

JUP. What . . . 

ALC. Leave me, I tell you. 

JUP. (Softly, aside). Her tears touch me to the heart, 
and her grief saddens me. (Aloud}. Allow my heart to 

ALC. No, do not follow me. 
JUP. Whither would you go ? 


ALC. Where you shall not be. 2i 

JUP. That would be a vain attempt on your part. I am 
attached to your beauty by too tight a bond to be separated 
for one moment from it. I shall follow you everywhere, 

ALC. And I shall fly from you everywhere. 

JUP. I am very dreadful, then ! 

ALC. More than I can express, to me. Yes, I look 
upon you as a frightful monster, a cruel, furious monster, 
whose approach is to be feared ; as a monster to fly from 
everywhere. The sight of you gives me incredible pain ; 
it is a torment that overwhelms me ; and I see nothing 
under Heaven of what is frightful, horrible, odious, which 
would not be to me more bearable than you. 

JUP. This is, alas ! what your own mouth says. 

ALC. I have much more in my heart ; and it is but too 
sorry that it cannot find words to express it all. 

JUP. And what has my passion done to you, Alcmena, 
that I should be looked upon by you as a monster. 

ALC. Ah ! just Heavens ! and he can ask that ? Is it 
not enough to drive one distracted ? 

JUP. Ah ! in a gentler spirit . . . 

ALC. No ; I wish neither to see nor to hear anything of 

JUP. Have you the heart to treat me thus? Is this the 
tender love which was to last so long, when I came hither 

ALC. No, no, it is not ; and your cowardly insults have 
willed it otherwise. It exists no longer, this passionate 
and tender love; you have cruelly destroyed it in my 
heart by a hundred piercing wounds. In its place stands 
an unbending wrath, a keen resentment, an invincible 
contempt, the despair of a heart justly incensed, which 
intends to hate you for this grievous affront, as much as 
it intended to love you ; and which means to hate as 
much as possible. 

JUP. Alas! how little strength your love must have 

24 These two lines are also found, with some slight alteration, in the 
sixth Scene of the second Act of Don Garcia of Navarre. (See Vol. I., 
page 225). 


had, if it can be destroyed by so small a matter ! Must 
that which was only play, occasion a divorce? and is there 
any occasion to be so angry at a joke? 

ALC. Ah ! it is just this at which I am offended, and 
which my anger cannot forgive : I should have felt less 
hurt at the true outbursts of a fit of jealousy. Jealousy 
produces impressions of which the force often carries us 
away; and the most collected mind at such times finds 
it, without doubt, difficult enough to be answerable for 
its emotions. The violence of a heart which may have 
been mistaken has something to bring back a soul which 
it has offended, and in the love which gave it birth it 
finds, at least, in spite of all its violence, reasons for 
being excused. Those outbursts have always as an excuse 
against anger that cause which created them; and we easily 
forgive that which we cannot master. But, in wanton- 
ness of heart, to get into an uncontrollable fury, so deeply 
to injure, without cause, the tenderness and honour of a 
heart that dearly loves you, ah! is too cruel a blow, and 
one which my grief will never forget. 

JUP. Yes, you are right, Alcmena; I must submit. 
This action is no doubt an odious crime ; I do not pre- 
tend to defend it any longer : but allow my heart to ex- 
onerate itself in your eyes, and to tell who is to blame 
for this insulting outburst. To make a frank avowal of it, 
Alcmena, it is the husband who has committed all the 
evil ; it is the husband whom you must regard as guilty : 
the lover had no share in this brutal transport, and his 
heart is not capable of offending you. This heart has too 
much respect and tenderness for you ever to dream of it ; 
and if it had the guilty weakness to do aught to wound 
you, he would pierce it with a hundred stabs before your 
face. But the husband has stepped out of that humble 
respect which should always be your due ; by his harsh 
proceeding, the husband has shown himself, and he 
thought that the laws of marriage permitted him every- 
thing. Yes, it is no doubt he who is guilty towards you ; 
he alone has maltreated your amiable person. Hate, 
detest the husband ; I consent to it, and leave him to 
your mercy; but, Alcmena, preserve the lover from the 
resentment which such an offence raises in you ; do not 


throw the effect of it on him ; separate him somewhat 
from the guilty one ; and, in order to be just, do not 
punish him for what he has not done. 

ALC. Ah ! all these subtleties are but frivolous excuses ; 
and such language is only an annoyance to irritated minds. 
You use in vain this ridiculous prevarication. I distin- 
guish nothing in him who offends me ; everything becomes 
the object of my anger, and in its just violence, the hus- 
band and the lover are confounded. Both alike occupy 
my thoughts ; and, by my wounded heart, are painted in 
the same colours to my eyes. Both alike are criminal ; 
both alike have offended me ; and both alike are odious 
to me. 

JUP. Very well ! since you wish it, I must then charge 
myself with the crime. Yes, you are right when you im- 
molate me to your resentment, as a guilty victim. A too 
just anger against me sways you; and all this great wrath 
which you now display is making me suffer only lawful tor- 
ments. It is right that you shun me, and that in your 
anger you threaten to fly from me everywhere. I must be 
an odious object to you; you must wish me a great deal of 
harm. My transgression in having offended your charming 
eyes surpasses every horror ; it is a crime to offend men and 
gods; and in short, I deserve as punishment for my audacity 
that your hatred should employ its most furious darts against 
me. But my heart craves your mercy; to ask it I throw 
myself on my knees, and implore it in the name of the 
most brilliant flame of the tenderest love with which a soul 
can ever burn for you. If your heart, charming Alcmena, 
refuses me the pardon which I dare to request, a sudden 
stroke must deliver me by death from the harsh rigour of a 
penalty which I am unable to endure. Yes, this condition 
drives me to despair. Do not think, Alcmena, that loving 
as I do, your heavenly charms, I can live one day under 
your anger. The merciless length of those moments makes 
my afflicted heart already succumb beneath their deadly 
blows; and the cruel wounds of a thousand vultures are 
nothing compared to my violent grief. Alcmena, you 
have only to declare it to me if I have no pardon to hope 
for: this sword shall immediately, by a well aimed blow, 
pierce before your eyes the heart of a miserable wretch ; 


that heart, that treacherous heart only too deserving of 
death, since it could offend so adorable a being; only too 
happy if, in descending to the dark regions, my death may 
appease your anger; and if after this mournful day, it 
leaves in your soul no impression of hatred whilst remem- 
bering my love ! That is all which I expect as a sovereign 

ALC. Ah ! too cruel husband ! 

JUP. Say, speak, Alcmena! 

ALC. Must I still feel kindness for you, and see you 
outrage me by so many insults? 

JUP. Whatever resentment an outrage may cause, can 
it hold out against the remorse of a really enamoured 
heart ? 

ALC. A heart full of passion would sooner expose itself 
to a thousand deaths, than offend the object of its love. 

JUP. The more one loves, the less difficulty one feels . . 

ALC. No, speak no more about it ; you deserve my 

JUP. You hate me then? 

ALC. I make every effort to do so, and I am vexed to 
think that all your insults cannot bring my heart even so 
far to indulge in that revenge. 

JUP. But why this violence, since, to revenge yourself, 
I offer you my life ? Pronounce its doom, and immediately 
I shall obey. 

ALC. Can she who cannot hate desire your death ? 

JUP. And I, I cannot live unless you forego this anger 
that overwhelms me, and unless you grant me the favour of 
a pardon which I implore at your feet. (Sosia and Clean- 
this kneel likewise). Decide upon one of the two quickly, 
either to punish, or to absolve me. 

ALC. Alas ! what I can resolve has appeared much clearer 
than I wish. My heart has too well betrayed me, for me 
to wish to keep up the wrath which you mention : to say 
that we cannot hate, is it not saying that we forgive? 

JUP. Ah, charming Alcmena, I must in the excess of my 
joy ... 

ALC. Desist ; I am angry with myself for so much 
weakness. 25 

* In Plautus, the real Amphitryon threatens his wife with a divorce, and 


[ACT in. 

JUP. Go Sosia, and make haste ; a sweet rapture charms 
my soul. See what officers of the army you can find, and 
invite them to dine with me. (Softly, aside}. Mercury 
can supply his place, while he is away from this. 


Sos. Well ! Cleanthis, you see how they arrange mat- 
ters. Will you, in imitation of their example, make up a 
little peace between us, some little reconciliation ? 

CLEANT. For the sake of your beautiful face, M truly ! 
yes, to be sure. 

Sos. What ! you will not then ? 


Sos. It signifies little to me. So much the worse for 

CLEANT. Well, well, come back. 

Sos. Zounds ! no, I shall do nothing of the kind, and 
I shall be angry in my turn now. 

CLEANT. Get you gone, you wretch ! leave me alone : 
one gets weary sometimes of being a virtuous woman. 


Yes, without doubt, fate conceals him purposely from 
me ; and I am weary at last of trying to find him out. 
Nothing can be more cruel than my lot. Notwithstanding 

when Jupiter appears, under his semblance, and tries to make peace with 
Alcmena, she says (Act iii., Scene 2) : 

ALC . By my virtue have I rendered these accusations vain. Since then 
I eschew conduct that's unchaste, I would wish to avoid imputations of 
unchastity. Fare you well, keep your own property to yourself, return 
me mine. Do you order any maids to be my attendants ? 

JUP. Are you in your senses ? 

ALC. If you don't order them, let me go alone ; chastity shall I take as 
my attendant. (Going). 

JUP. Stay at your desire, I'll give my oath that I believe my wife to be 
chaste. If in that I deceive you, then, thee. supreme Jupiter, do I entreat 
that thou wilt ever be angered against Amphitryon. 

ALC. Oh! rather may he prove propitious. 

26 The original has Cestpour ton nez, vraiment I " It is for your nose, 


all my peregrinations, I cannot find him for whom I am 
looking ; I meet all those for whom I do not look. A 
thousand cruel bores, who do not imagine themselves to 
be so, without knowing much of me, are driving me mad 
with their congratulations upon our exploits. In the cruel 
perplexity of the care that harasses me, they overwhelm 
me with their embraces, and their rejoicings only increase 
my uneasiness. In vain I endeavour to pass them by, to 
fly from their persecutions ; their killing friendship 27 de- 
lays me everywhere ; and whilst I reply to the ardour of 
their expressions by a nod of the head, I silently mutter a 
hundred curses upon them. Ah ! how little we feel flat- 
tered by praise and honour, and all the fruits of a great 
victory, when in our inmost soul we are suffering a poig- 
nant grief! And how willingly would we barter all this 
glory to have the heart at rest ! Every minute my jealousy 
harps upon my disgrace ; and the more my mind reverts 
to it, the less am I able to disentangle its direful confusion, 
The theft of the diamonds does not surprise me ; seals may 
be tampered with unperceived ; but she will have it that 
yesterday I presented the gift to her personally, and this 
is what puzzles me most cruelly. Nature sometimes pro- 
duces resemblances, of which some impostors have availed 
themselves to deceive ; but it is preposterous that, under 
such a semblance, a man should pass himself off as a hus- 
band ; and in such a case there are a thousand differences 
which a wife can easily detect. The wonderful effects of 
Thessalian magic have at all times been extolled ; but 
those famous stories, everywhere related of it, have always 
passed with me for idle tales ; it would be a hard fate in- 
deed, that I, fresh from a complete victory, should be 
compelled to believe them at the cost of my own honour. 28 
I will once more interrogate her upon this vexatious mys- 
tery, and find out if it be not some idle fancy that has im- 
posed upon her disordered senses. Grant, O righteous 

v The original has tuante amitii ; I do not think that the word tuante, 
killing, is often used in this way in French. 

18 The Amphitryon of Plautus thinks his " doubleganger " to be a magi- 
cian, a sorcerer, an enchanter ; but Moliere's hero does not believe any- 
thing of the kind ; he is therefore in a much greater perplexity, and his 
situation is much more comical. 


Heavens, that this thought may prove true, and that, for 
my happiness, she may have lost her senses! 


MERC. (On the balcony of Amphitryon! s house, without 
being seen or heard by him). Since love offers me no 
pleasures here, I will make myself some of a different 
nature ; and enliven my dull leisure by putting Amphitryon 
out of all patience. This may not be very charitable in a 
god ; but I shall not trouble myself much about that ; I 
find, by my star, that I am somewhat disposed to malice. 29 

AMPH. How comes it that at this hour the door is 
closed ? 

MERC. Hullo! gently. Who knocks? 

AMPH. {Not seeing Mercury). I. 

MERC. Who is I ? 

AMPH. (Perceiving Mercury whom he takes for Sosia). 
Ah ! open ! 

MERC. Open indeed ! And who may you be, to make 
such an uproar, and to speak in this strain? 

AMPH. What! do not you know me? 

MERC. No, and have no wish to. 

AMPH. (Aside). Is every one losing his senses to-day? 
Has the distemper spread ? Sosia ! hullo, Sosia ! 

MERC. Well ! Sosia, yes, that is my name; are you 
afraid of my forgetting it ? 

AMPH. Do you see me clearly? 

MERC. Clearly enough. What can possess your arm 
to make so great a noise? What do you want down 

AMPH. I, you hangdog ! what do I want? 

MERC. What do you not want then? speak, if you 
would have me understand you. 

AMPH. Wait, you wretch ! I will come up there with a 
stick to make you understand, and to teach you properly 
to dare speak to me in this manner. 

MERC. Gently! If you make the slightest attempt at 

19 Mercury, in astrology, " signifieth subtill men, ingenious, inconstant ; 
rymers, poets, advocates, orators, phylosophers, arithmeticians and busie 

scKNuii.i AMPHITRYON. 209 

disturbance, I shall send from this some messengers which 
you will not like. 

AMPH. Oh Heavens 1 has such insolence ever been, 
heard of? Can one conceive it from a servant from a 
beggar ! 

MERC. Well! what is the matter? Have you quite 
summed me up? Have you stared enough at me? How 
wide he opens his eyes ; how wild he looks ! If looks 
could bite, he would have torn me to shreds ere now. 

AMPH. I tremble at what you are bringing upon your- 
self with all these impudent remarks. What a terrible 
storm you are brewing for yourself ! What a hurricane of 
blows will descend upon your back ? 

MERC. Look here, friend ; if you do not make your- 
self scarce from this place, you may come in for some 
knocking about. 

AMPH. Ah ! you shall know to your cost, you scoundrel, 
what it is for a servant to insult his master. 

MERC. You, my master ! 

AMPH. Yes, scoundrel! dare you deny me? 

MERC. I recognise no other master but Amphitryon. 

AMPH. And who, except myself, can this Amphitryon 

MERC. Amphitryon ! 

AMPH. No doubt. 

MERC. What illusion is this ! Tell me in what honest 
tavern have you been muddling your brain ? 

AMPH. What ! again ? 

MERC. Was the wine of the right sort? 

AMPH. O Heavens ! 

MERC. Was it old or new? 

AMPH. What insults ! 

MERC. New is apt to get into one's head, if drunk with- 
out water. 

AMPH. Ah ! certainly I shall tear out that tongue of 

MERC. Pass on, my good friend ; believe me that no 
one here will listen to you. I have some respect for 
wine. Go on, get you away, and leave Amphitryon to 
tfie pleasures which he is enjoying. 

AMPH. What ! is Amphitryon inside there? 


MERC. Indeed he is ; he himself, covered with the 
laurels of a single victory, is with the fair Alcmena, 
tasting the sweets of a charming interview. They are 
indulging in the pleasures of a reconciliation, after a rather 
whimsical love-tiff. You had better beware how you dis- 
turb their sweet privacy, unless you wish him to punish 
you for your excessive rashness. 


Ah ! how strangely he has shocked my soul ! and how- 
cruelly disturbed my mind ! And if matters stand as this 
wretch says, to what condition do I see my honour and 
affection reduced? Upon what am I to resolve? Am I 
to make it public or to keep it secret ? And ought I, in 
my anger, to lock the dishonour of my house in my own 
breast, or spread it abroad ? What ! is there any need of 
consideration in so gross an insult ? I have nothing to 
expect, and nothing to compromise ; and all my uneasiness 
only ought to tend to my revenge. 

at the farther fart of the stage. 

Sos. {To Amphitryon). Sir, with all my diligence, all 
that I have been able to do is to bring you these gentlemen 

AMPH. Ah ! you are here ! 

Sos. Sir. 

AMPH. Insolent, bold fellow ! 

Sos. What now? 

AMPH. I shall teach you to treat me thus. 

Sos. What is the matter? what ails you? 

AMPH. {Drawing his sword}. What ails me, wretch? 

Sos. {To Naucrates and Polidas). Help, gentlemen! 
please come quickly. 

NAU. {To Amphitryon). Oh, pray stop ! 

Sos. What have I done ? 

AMPH. You ask me that, you rogue? (To Naucrates}. 
No, let me satisfy my just anger. 

Sos. When they hang a fellow, they at least tell him 
why they do it. 


NAU. (To Amphitryon). Please to tell us what his 
crime is. 

Sos. Yes, gentlemen, please to insist upon that. 

AMPH. How ! he just now had the audacity to shut the 
door in my face, and to add threats to a thousand insolent 
expressions ! ( Wishing to strike him). Ah ! you scoundrel ! 

Sos. (Dropping on his knees}. I am dead. 

NAU. (To Amphitryori). Calm this passion. 

Sos. Gentlemen! 

POL. (To Sosia). What is it? 

Sos. Has he struck me ? 

AMPH. No; he must have his deserts for the language 
he made free with just now. 

Sos. How could that have been, when I was elsewhere 
occupied by your orders? These gentlemen here can bear 
witness that I have just invited them to dine with you. 

NAU. It is true that he brought us this message, and 
would not leave us. 

AMPH. Who gave you that order? 

Sos. You. 

AMPH. And when ? 

Sos. After your reconciliation. Amidst the transports 
of a soul delighted at having appeased Alcmena's anger. 

(Sosia gets up. ) 

AMPH. O Heaven ! every instant, every step adds some- 
thing to my cruel martyrdom; and, in this fatal confusion, 
I no longer know what to believe or what to say. 

NAU. All that he has just related to us, of what hap- 
pened at your house, surpasses the natural so much, that 
before doing anything, and before flying into a passion, you 
ought to clear up the whole of this adventure. 

AMPH. Come; you may assist my efforts ; and Heaven 
brings you opportunely hither. Let us see what fortune 
may attend me to-day ; let us clear up this mystery, and 
know our fate. Alas ! I burn to learn it, and I dread it 
more than death. 30 (Amphitryon knocks at the door of his 

80 Plautus, who has this scene also, brings upon the stage only one wit- 
ness the pilot Blepharo ; Moliere introduces here two, and afterwards, 
in the eighth scene, two fresh witnesses. 




JUP. What is this noise that obliges me to come 
down ? And who knocks as if he were the master where 
I am? 

AMPH. Just gods ! what do I see ? 

NAU. Heaven ! what prodigy is this ? What ! two 
Amphitryons are here produced before us ! 

AMPH. {Aside). My senses are struck dumb ! Alas, I can 
no longer bear it, the adventure is at an end ; my fate is 
clear enough, and what I behold tells me everything. 

NAU. The more closely I view them, the more I find 
that they are like each other in everything. 

Sos. {Crossing to the side of Jupiter], Gentlemen, this 
is the true one; the other is an impostor who deserves 

POL. Certainly, this wonderful resemblance keeps my 
judgment in suspense. 

AMPH. We have been deceived too much by an execrable 
scoundrel ; I must break the spell with this steel. 

NAU. ( To Amphitryon, who has drawn his sword). Stay ! 

AMPH. Let me alone ! 

NAU. Ye gods ! what would you do ? 

AMPH. Punish the vile deceptions of an impostor ! 

JUP. Gently, gently ! There is very little need of pas- 
sion ; and when a man bursts out in such a manner, it 
leads us to suspect the goodness of his reasons. 

Sos. Yes, it is a magician, who has a talisman 31 about 
him to resemble the masters of houses. 

AMPH. {To Sosia). I shall let you feel, for your 
share, a thousand blows for this abusive language. 

Sos. My master is a man of courage, and he will not 
allow his people to be beaten, 

AMPH. Let me satiate my fury and wash out my affront 
in this villain's blood. 

NAU. {Stopping Amphitryon). We shall not suffer this 
strange combat of Amphitryon against himself. 

AMPH. What ! does my honour receive this treatment 
from you ! and do my friends embrace the cause of a 

81 The original has un caractere. 


rogue ! Far from being the first to take up my revenge, 
they themselves prove an obstacle to my resentment ! 

NAU. What would you have us resolve at this sight, 
when between two Amphitryons all our friendship is in 
suspense ? Should we now show our zeal to you, we fear 
making a mistake, and not recognizing you. We see full 
well in you the image of Amphitryon, the glorious sup- 
port of the Thebans' welfare ; but we also see the same 
image in him, nor are we able to judge who is the real 
one. What we have to do is not doubtful, and the im- 
postor ought to die by our hands ; but this perfect resem- 
blance conceals him between you two ; and it is too haz- 
ardous a stroke to undertake without being certain. Let 
us ascertain gently on which side the imposture can be ; 
and the moment we have disentangled the adventure, you 
will have no need to tell us our duty. 

JUP. Yes, you are right, and this resemblance author- 
izes you to doubt about both of us. I am not offended at 
seeing you wavering thus ; I am more reasonable, and 
can make allowances for you. The eye can detect no 
difference between us, and I see that one can easily 
be mistaken. You do not see me show my anger, nor 
draw my sword ; that is a bad method of clearing up this 
mystery, and I can find one more gentle and more cer- 
tain. One of us is Amphitryon, and both of us may seem 
so to your eyes. It is for me to put an end to this con- 
fusion ; and I intend to make myself so well known to 
every one, that at the convincing proofs of who I may be, 
he himself shall agree about the blood from which I spring, 
and not have any further occasion to say anything. In 
the sight of all the Thebans I will discover to you the real 
truth ; and the matter is, undoubtedly, of sufficient im- 
portance to require the circumstance of it being cleared 
up before every one. Alcmena expects from me this 
public testimony : her virtue, which is being outraged by 
the publicity of this disorder, demands justification, and 
I am going to take care of it. My love for her binds me 
to it ; and I shall convene an assembly of the noblest 
chiefs, for an elucidation which her honour requires. While 
awaiting these desirable witnesses, pray, please to honour 
the table to which Sosia has invited you. 

214 AMPHITRYON. [ ACT ln< 

Sos. I was not mistaken, gentlemen ; this word puts an 
end to all irresolution ; the real Amphitryon is the Am- 
phitryon who gives dinners. 32 

AMPH. O Heavens ! can I see myself humiliated much 
lower ? What ! must I suffer the martyrdom of listening 
to all that this impostor has just said to my face, and have 
my hands tied, whilst his discourse drives me furious ! 

NAU. (To Amphitryon). You complain wrongly. Allow 
us to await the elucidation which shall render resentments 
seasonable. I do not know whether he imposes upon us ; 
but he speaks as if he had right on his side. 

AMPH. Go, weak friends, and flatter the imposture. 
Thebes has other friends, different from you : and I am 
going to find some who, sharing the insult done to me, 
will know how to lend their hand to avenge my just 

JUP. Well ! I await them, and I shall know to decide 
the quarrel in their presence. 

AMPH. Scoundrel, you think perhaps to escape by these 
means ; but nothing shall shield you from my revenge. 

JUP. I shall not condescend to answer this insulting 
language at present ; and by and by I shall be able to 
confound this rage with two words. 

AMPH. Not Heaven, not Heaven itself, shall shield you 
from it ; and I shall dog your footsteps even unto hell. 

JUP. There will be no need of that ; and you shall soon 
see that I will not fly. 

AMPH. (Aside). Come, let us, before he gets out with 
them, make haste to assemble such friends as will second 
my vengeance, and who will come to my house to lend 
me assistance to pierce him with a thousand wounds. 


JUP. No ceremony, I beseech you ; let us go quickly 
within doors. 

NAU. Certainly, the whole of this adventure puzzles the 
senses and the reason. 

Sos. A truce, gentlemen, to all your surprises ; and 
joyfully sit down to feast till morning. (Alone). Now for 

M This last saying is even now used as a proverb. 


a good feed, and to put myself in condition to relate our 
valiant deeds ! I am itching to be at it ; and I was never 
so hungry in my life. 33 


MER. Stop. What ! you come to poke your nose in 
here, you impudent plate-licker ! 

Sos. For mercy's sake, gently ! 

MER. Ah ! you are at it again ! I shall dust your coat 
for you. 

Sos. Alas ! brave and generous I, compose yourself, I 
beg of you. Sosia, spare Sosia a little, and do not amuse 
yourself in cudgelling yourself. 

MER. Who gave you permission to call yourself by 
that name ? Did I not expressly forbid you to do so, 
under penalty of a thousand blows ? 

Sos. It is a name we both may bear at the same time, 
under the same master. I am known for Sosia every- 
where ; I allow that you should be he, allow that I may be 
he also. Let us leave it to the two Amphitryons to display 
their jealousies, and, amidst their contentions, let us make 
the two Sosias live in peace. 

MER. No, one is quite enough ; and I am obstinate in 
allowing no dividing. 

Sos. You shall have the precedence over me j I shall be 
the younger, and you the elder. 

MERC. No ! a brother is troublesome, and is not to my 
taste ; and I wish to be an only son. 

Sos. O barbarous and tyrannical heart ! Allow me at 
least to be your shadow. 

MER. Nothing of the kind. 

Sos. Let your soul humanize itself with a little pity ! 
Suffer me to be near you in that capacity ; I shall be such 
a submissive shadow everywhere, that you shall be satisfied 
with me. 

MER. No quarter; the decree is immutable. If you 
again have the audacity to enter there, a thousand blows 
shall be the consequence. 

33 From this to the end of the comedy, Amphitryon belongs entirely to 


Sos. Alack ! poor Sosia, to what cruel disgrace are you 
reduced ! 

MER. What ! your lips still take the liberty of giving 
yourself a name which I forbid ! 

Sos. No, I was not hearing myself; and I was speaking 
of an old Sosia, who was formerly a relative of mine, and 
whom, with the greatest barbarity, they drove out at the 
dinner hour. 

MER. Beware of falling into that mistake, if you wish to 
remain among the living. 

Sos. (Aside}. How I would thrash you if I had the 
courage, for your too inflated pride, you double son of a 
strumpet ! 

MER. What are you saying? 

Sos. Nothing. 

MER. You are, I believe, muttering something to your- 

Sos. Ask any one; I did not so much as breathe. 

MER. Certain words about the son of a strumpet have 
struck my ear, nothing is more certain. 

Sos. It must be some parrot awakened by the beautiful 

MER. Farewell. If your back should itch, this is the 
spot where I reside. 

Sos. (Aloni). O Heavens ! the cursedest hour to be 
turned out of doors is the dinner hour. Come, let us sub- 
mit to fate in our affliction. Let us to-day follow blind 
caprice, and by a proper union, join the unfortunate Sosia 
to the unfortunate Amphitryon. I perceive him coming 
in good company. 34 

SOSIA, in a corner of the stage, without being seen. 

AMPH. {To several other officers who accompany him). 
Stay here, gentlemen : follow us from a little distance, and 
do not all come forward, I pray you, until there is need 
for it. 

PAUS. I understand that this blow must touch you to 
the very heart. 

s * This scene is taken from Rotrou's Les deux Sosies. 

SCN vin.] AMPHITRYON. 2 1 7 

AMPH. My grief, alas! is poignant at all points, and I 
suffer in my affection, as much as in my honour. 

PAUS. If this resemblance is such as is said, Alcmena, 
without being to blame . . . 

AMPH. Ah ! in the matter in question, a simple error 
becomes a real crime, and against its will, innocence perishes 
in it. Such errors, look at them in whatever light you 
will, touch us in the most delicate parts ; and reason often 
pardons them, when honour and love cannot do so. 

ARGAT. I do not perplex my thoughts about that ; but I 
hate your gentlemen for their shameful delay ; and that is 
a proceeding which wounds me to the quick, and of which 
people who have their hearts in the right place, will never 
approve. When anyone employs us, we should headfore- 
most, throw ourselves into his concerns. Argatiphontidas 
is not for compromising matters. It does not become men 
of honour to listen to the arguments of a friend's adversary; 
one should listen only to revenge at such times. Such a 
proceeding does not suit me; and one should begin always 
in those quarrels, by running a man through the body, 
without much ado. Yes, you shall see, whatever happens 
that Argatiphontidas goes straight to the point ; and I must 
crave as a particular favour that the scoundrel shall die by 
no other hand than mine. 

AMPH. Come on. 

Sos. (To Amphitryon). I come, Sir, to undergo on 
both knees the just punishment of a cursed insolence. 
Strike, beat, thrash, overwhelm me with blows. Kill me 
in your anger, you will do well, I deserve it : and I shall 
not say a word against you. 

AMPH. Get up. What are they doing ? 

Sos. I have been turned away without ceremony; and 
thinking to eat and be merry like them, I did not imagine 
that, in fact, I was waiting there to give myself a beating. 
Yes, the other I, servant to the other you, has played the 
very devil with me again. The same harsh destiny seems 
to pursue us both at present, Sir ; and, in short, they have 
un-Sosiad me, as they un-Amphitryon'd you. 85 

* Plautus is full of similar plays on words. For example, in Trinum- 
mus ; the three pieces of money, Act iv., Scene 2, the Sharper says to Char- 
mides, an Athenian merchant, and whom he does not believe to be " his 


AMPH. Follow me. 

Sos. Is it not better to see if anybody is coming? 


CLE. O Heaven ! 

AMPH. What scares you so ? What is the fear with 
which I inspire you ? 

CLE. Lord-a-mercy ! you are up there, and yet I see 
you here ! 

NAU. Do not be in a hurry; here he comes to give the 
wished-for explanation before us all, and which, if we may 
believe what he has just said about it, shall at once dispel 
your trouble and care. 



MER. Yes, you all shall see him ; and know beforehand 
that it is the great master of the gods, whom, under the 
beloved features of this resemblance, Alcmena has caused 
to descend hither from the Heavens. And as for me, I 
am Mercury, who, not knowing what to do, has thrashed 
more or less him whose form I have assumed : but now he 
may comfort himself; for the blows of a god confer hon- 
our upon him who receives them. 

Sos. Upon my word, Mister god, I am your servant ; 
but I could have dispensed with your courtesy. 

MER. I henceforth give him leave to be Sosia. I am 
tired of wearing such an ugly face ; and I am going to the 
skies to wash it off entirely with ambrosia. 

(Mercury ascends to Heaven. 

Sos. May Heaven forever deprive you of the fancy of 
coming near me again ! Your fury against me has been 
too inveterate ; and never in my life did I see a god who 
was more of a devil than you ! 

JUP. (Announced by the noise of thunder, armed with his 

own self," " therefore, in such manner as you Charmidised yourself, do 
you again un-Charmidise yourself." 


thunder-bolt, in a cloud, on his eagle). Behold, Amphi- 
tryon, who has imposed upon you; and see Jupiter appear 
in his own features. By these signs you may easily recog- 
nise him ; and it is sufficient, I think, to re-instate your 
heart in the condition in which it ought to be, and to re- 
store peace and happiness in your family. My name, 
which the whole world incessantly worships, quells in this 
case all scandal that might be spread. A share with Jupi- 
ter has nothing dishonourable in it, and doubtless, it can 
be only glorious to find one's self the rival of the sovereign 
of the gods. I see no reason in it that your love should 
murmur, and it is I, god as I am, who, in this adventure, 
should be jealous. Alcmena is wholly yours, whatever 
pains may be taken ; and it must be very gratifying to 
your love to see that there is no other way of pleasing her 
than to assume the appearance of her husband ; that even 
Jupiter, adorned by his immortal glory, could not by him- 
self conquer her fidelity ; and that what she granted him 
has, by her ardent heart, been granted only to you. 36 

Sos. My lord Jupiter knows how to gild the pill. 

JUP. Banish, therefore, your gloomy and heart-felt 
grief, and restore its wonted calm to the ardour which 
consumes you. In your house shall be born a son, who, 
under the name of Hercules, shall fill the vast universe 
with his exploits. A glorious fate, bearing a thousand 
blessings, shall prove to every one that I am your support ; 
I shall make your destiny the envy of the whole world. 
You may safely flatter yourself with these promised hopes. 
It is a crime to doubt them : the words of Jupiter are the 
decrees of fate. (He vanishes in the clouds. 

NAU. Certainly I am enraptured at these brilliant 
marks . . . 

SOL. Gentlemen, will you please to follow my opinion ? 
Embark not in these pretty congratulations : it is a bad 
investment; and pretty phrases are embarrassing on 
either side, in such a compliment. The great god Jupi- 
ter has done us much honour, and, no doubt, his good- 

* If in this play there had been the slightest allusion to the love of 
Louis XIV. for Madame de Montespan Moliere would certainly not have 
slipped in this compliment to her husband. 


ness towards us is unequalled ; he promises the certain 
felicity of a glorious fate, bearing a thousand blessings, 
and, that in our house shall be born a very mighty sou. 
Nothing could be better than all this. But, in short, a 
truce to speeches, and let every one retire in peace. It 
is always best in these matters to say nothing. 


C O M E D I E . 



JULY l8TH 1668. 


THE treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle having been ratified on the and of May, 
1668, and peace being assured, at least for some time, Louis XIV. re- 
solve'd to give a festival in his favourite gardens of Versailles, as he had 
already done in 1664. (See Introductory Notice to The Princess of Elis.) 
This festival was held on the i8th of July 1668, and Mohere's comedy, 
George Dandin, formed the chief entertainment. Our author took the 
plot chiefly from one of his farces, The Jealousy of the Barbouille, in 
which a wife, who comes home rather late, finds the door shut, and threat- 
ens to kill herself if her husband does not let her in. She pretends to do 
so the good man rushes out of the house quite terrified ; the wife, mean- 
wh'ile sneaks in, and he in his turn is locked out. This idea is found in an 
Indian tale, in la Roman de Dolopathos, written in the beginning of the 
thirteenth century, and also in the fourth story of the seventh day of 
Boccaccio's Decameron. But Moliere thought very likely that this plot 
was too slight for a comedy, and added to it a second idea, which exists 
in all literatures, namely, the danger of inequality of rank or education in 
marriage. Most probably, he took it from the eighth story of the seventh 
day of the Decameron, in which is related how Arriguccio Berlinghieri, a 
rich merchant, married a noble lady, named Sismonda. His wife deceives 
him ; he thinks he has found her out, cuts off all her hair, gives her a 
sound beating, and even disfigures her. But when he returns with her 
family a mother and three brothers his wife appears in all her beauty 
and with all her hair, because she had bribed one of her servants to take 
the well-deserved punishment in her stead. Hereupon the wife accuses 
her husband of being a drunkard ; he is soundly rated both by the 
mother and the three brawny brothers, and warned not to misbehave 

The whole of the play is rather extravagant, but it is full of humour ; 
the characters are very well drawn, and the dialogue is spirited. The 
servant girl Claudine is certainly one of the most impudent hussies whom 
even Moliere has sketched ; whilst the family de Sotenville faithfully rep- 
resent the poor but proud French provincial nobles, as they existed in 
Moliere's time. 

It cannot be denied that the impression which George Dandin leaves 
upon our minds is not a healthy one, and that the triumph of an adulter- 
ous woman over a husband, who, after all, is only guilty of having 



married above his station, cannot be justified. But, in extenuation, we 
may say that George Dandin was written only for a courtly " high jinks ;" 
to excite the laughter of a public, whose risible muscles were not easily 
moved ; and that, after all, the ideas about matrimonial fidelity were not 
the same at the court of Louis XIV. as they are at the present time 
amongst civilized nations. The same year (1668) in which Moliere's play 
was acted before the Court, Madame de Montespan, a married woman, 
became the recognized mistress of the Grand Monarque, whilst, later, her 
children by that King became enfants legitimes de France. 

This piece was only performed in the theatre of the Palais Royal on the 
9th of November, precisely two months after the first representation of 
The Miser. Grimarest relates an anecdote about Moliere, which seems 
to me very unlike his character, namely, that he read his comedy to a real 
Dandin before giving it to the public, in order to conciliate the foolish 
husband, who appears to have been a man of some influence ; and that 
the latter became one of the warmest patrons of the play. 

Several English dramatists have imitated this piece. Betterton, the 
actor, wrote a partial imitation of it, which, under the name of The Am- 
orous Widow, or The Wanton Wife, was brought out at the theatre in 
Lincoln's-Inn-Field in 1670. As Moliere's play is in three acts, and Bet- 
terton's in five, the latter tacked an underplot to it, consisting of an amor- 
ous widow, vastly " prone to an iteration of nuptials," and who at last, 
not finding any one willing to marry her, takes up with the Viscount Sans 
Terre, who proves to be a falconer in disguise, and is a reminiscence of 
the Marquis de Mascarille and the Viscount de Jodelet in The Pretentious 
Young Ladies. Geneste says, 1 "That part of it which is taken from 
George Dandin is very good, the other part of it is indifferent." * 

On the i8th of April, 1781, was represented at Covent Garden Theatre 
Barnaby Brittle, or a Wife at her Wit's end, a farce in two acts, altered 
from Moliere and Betterton. It is a condensation of Moliere's play, with 
something added from Mrs. Centlivre's Artifice, namely, the scene when 
the servant Jeremy brings his Mistress' clogs on a plate, and the one in 
which Mrs. Brittle pretends to have broken her leg. Barnaby is a glass- 

A farce, called George Dandin, was also acted once at Drury Lane 
Theatre, November 25, 1747 ; but it has never been printed. 

Dibdin, in The Metamorphoses (see Introductory Notice to The Sicilian} 
has imitated from Moliere's play, the second Scene of the first Act and the 
seventh Scene of the second Act. The hero is called, in the English play, 
Don Pedro, and the loutish servant, Perez. 

An operatic farce, December and May, written by Dimond, and founded 
on Moliere's comedy, was brought out on the i6th of May 1818, at Co- 
vent Garden Theatre. The only novelty in it is that Zodolet, the servant 
of the fast young nobleman, is partly bribed and partly frightened to bear 
false witness. 

In the fifth volume of the translation of "Select Comedies of Mr. de 

1 Geneste, Some account of the English Stage, ^832, 10 vols., Ljo8. 

*In the British M 
1729. the fourth edit 

In the British Museum, there is a copy of The Amorous Widow, printed in 
lition, with the names of three London printers, and containing 

the original copy," and which contains a aescripuvc IB ^,^.^^ 

wanting in the first mentioned copy, but has neither Prologue nor Epilogue. 


Moliere, published in London, 1732," George Dandln has a most impu- 
dent dedication to tbe Right Honourable the Lady * * * * 


There's no body to whom this Play can with so much propriety be addressed, 
as to your LADYSHIP, whose real Story abounds with more Intrigue and Contri- 
vance than all that the fruitful Fancy of Moliere has been able to invent. 

Your dexterous Management of a Husband is so extraordinary, that other Wives 
behold it with Envy and Emulation ; your Example plainly showing that a Wo- 
man may heartily despise her Husband, and at the same time make him believe she 
loves him, and that Matrimony is so far from restraining that it may be made even 
subservient to Gallantry. 

An Husband not overwise is a Conveniency your LADYSHIP well knows how to 
make proper Use of most people were indeed supriz'd at your marrying Mr 
*****. but you Madame, (whese Schemes are beyond the Reach of Common 
Capacities) easily foresaw the advantage of being the Wife of one whom Your 
superior Rank and Alliances would overawe, whom Your Wit would entirely di- 
rect and govern, and whose large Fortune would supply the necessary Expenses of 
a fine Lady. 

I shall attempt no further a Task I am unequal to, but leave the World to praise 
You as You deserve; permit me only to declare, that I am, with a great deal of 
Admiration, MADAM, Your Ladyship's most obedient, and most humble Servant, 


As we have already mentioned, Moliere's play formed part of the court 
entertainment, of which a description was published in 1668, under the 
name of Relation de la Fete de Versailles. This narative was written by 
Felibien, but the verses by Moliere. We here give a resume of the official 
description : 

" Having granted peace at the instance of his allies and at the desire of 
all Europe ; having given marks of an unexampled moderation and kind- 
ness, even in the midst of his most glorious conquests, the king had no 
other thought than to apply himself to the affairs of his kingdom, when, 
in order to make up a little for the pleasures which the court had lost dur- 
ing his absence in carnival time, he resolved to give a fete in the gardens 
of Versailles, where, amidst the pleasures to be found in so delicious a re- 
treat, the mind could not fail to be charmed with those many astonishing 
and extraordinary beauties with which this great prince knew so well how 
to season all his entertainments. 

" To attain this effect, wishing to have a comedy after a collation, and 
the supper after the comedy, to be followed up by a ball and a display of 
fireworks, he selected those persons whom he thought most capable of 
performing these things properly. He himself marked out for them those 
spots, the situation of which he deemed most suitable, from their natural 
beauty, to contribute advantageously to their decoration ; and because one 
of the most beautiful ornaments of this house is the quantity of water 
which art has brought there, notwithstanding that nature had not provided 
it, his Majesty ordered them to make the utmost use of it to enhance the 
embellishment of said spots, and even gave them the means to employ it, 
and to obtain the greatest possible effects from it. 

" For the execution of this fete, the duke de Crequy, as first gentleman 
of the chamber, was charged with everything that belonged to the comedy ; 
the marshall de Bellefonds, as first steward of the royal household, took 
care of the collation, of the supper, and of everything that belonged to 
-he service of the table ; and Monsieur Colbert, as superintendent of the 
royal buildings, had the different places for the royal entertainment con- 
structed and embellished.and gave the orders for the performance of the 


display of fireworks. The sieur Vigarani was commanded to arrange the 
theatre for the comedy ; the sieur Gissey to prepare a room for the supper; 
and the sieur Le Vau, first architect of the king, another for the ball. 

" On Wednesday, the eighteenth day of July, the king came from Saint 
Germain to dine at Versailles with the queen, Monseigneur the dauphin 
Monsieur and Madame. The remainder of the court having also arrived 
immediately after mid-day, were met by the king's officers, who did the 
honours, and received everybody in the salons of the castle, where in 
several places, were tables for refreshments ; the principal ladies were 
conducted to the private apartments to take some rest. 

"At six o'clock at night, the king having given the order to the Mar- 
quis de Gesvres, the captain of his guards, to have all the doors thrown 
open, so that there might be nobody that did not take part in the enter- 
tainment, walked out of the castle with the queen and rest of the court, to 
amuse themselves with a promenade." 

Felibien, after having followed the king through all the particulars of 
his promenade, and having described the splendour of the theatre con- 
structed in the garden continues, as follows : 

Though the piece represented must be regarded as an impromptu, and 
one of these works, in which the necessity to satisfy the orders of the king 
on the spot, leaves not always time completely io finish and to polish it, it 
is nevertheless certain that it is composed of parts so diversified and plea- 
sant, that we may safely say that none have appeared.on the stage so well 
calculated to please the eyes and ears of the spectators at the same time. 
The prose which has been employed is a very fit language for the action 
it represents, and the verses which are sung between the acts of the co- 
medy, accord so well with the subject, and express so tenderly the pas- 
sions with which they who recite them must be moved, that there never 
has been heard anything more stirring. Though it appears that there are 
two comedies, which are being played at the same time, one of which is 
in prose and the other verse, they are however so well adapted to the 
same subject, that they make but one piece, and represent but one action. 
The overture of the stage is performed by four shepherds, disguised as 
servants of the fete, who accompanied by four other shepherds, playing 
upon the flute, perform a dance, in which they force a rich peasant, whom 
they have met, to take a part, and who, dissatisfied with his marriage, 
has his head full of annoying thoughts ; therefore he very soon retires 
from their society where he only remained by compulsion. 

" Climeneand Chloris, who are two companion shepherdesses, hearing 
the sound of the flutes, come to add their voices to the instruments, and 

The other day, I heard 

Annette's voice, who, 

Whilst playing on the bagpipe, 

Was singing in our woods : 

love, how 'neath thy sway 
One suffers poignant grief I 

1 may well say it, 
Since I feel it, 

At the same moment 

Young Lisette, 

In the same rhythm as Annette, 

Responded tenderly: 

love, if 'neath thy sway, 

1 suffer poignant grief, 

It is because I dare not say 
All that I feel. 


"Tircis and Philene, the lovers of those two shepherdesses, accost them 
to tell them of their passion, and go through a musical scene with them. 

CHLORIS. Leave us in peace, Philene. 

CLIMENE. Tircis, do not stop my way. 

TIRCIS AND PHILENE. Ah, cruel fair one, vouchsafe one moment to 
listen to me. 

CLIMENE AND CHLORIS. But what have you to say ? 

THE TWO SHEPHERDS. Oh with what immortal flame, my heart burns 
'neath your sway. 

THE'TWO SHEPHERDESSES. That is nothing new. You have told me 
so a thousand times. 

PHILENE. ( To Chloris). What ! do you wish me to love all my lifetime 
and obtain nothing ? 

CHLORIS. No, that is not my wish. Love no longer; I am satisfied. 

TIRCIS. (To Climene). Heaven forces me to pay you the homage, of 
which all these woods are witness. 

CLIMENE. Then it is for Heaven, since he constrains you, to pay you 
for your trouble. 

PHILENE. ( To Chloris). It is by your extraordinary merits, that you 
have won my affection. 

CHLORIS. If I deserve to be loved, I owe nought to your affection. 

THE TWO SHEPHERDS. The dazzle of your eyes kills me. 

THE TWO SHEPHERDESSES. Then turn away from me. 

THE TWO SHEPHERDS. But I like to look at them. 

THE TWO SHEPHERDESSES. Then, shepherd, do not complain. 

PHILENE. Ah ! charming Climene I 

TIRCIS. Ah ! charming Chloris ! 

PHILENE. (To Climene). Render her a little more human towards 

TIRCIS. ( To Chloris). Make her less contemptuous towards me. 

CLIMENE. ( To Chloris). Be sensible to the love that Philene has for 

CHLORIS. ( To Climene). Be sensible to the ardour by which Tircis is 

CLIMENE. (To Chloris). If you will show me your example, shepherd- 
ess, perhaps I shall follow it. 

CHLORIS. ( To Climene). If you will resolve to go first, it is possible 
that I may follow you. 

CLIMENE. ( To Philene). Farewell, shepherd. 

CHLORIS. ( To Tircis). Farewell, shepherd. 

CLIMENE. (To Philene). Await a favourable turn. 

CHLORIS. ( To Tircis). Await a sweet success for the grief which you 

TIRCIS. I await no remedy. 

PHILENE. And I await nought but death. 

TIRCIS AND PHILENE. Since we are doomed to languish under such 
disgrace, let us, by dying, make an end to our grievous sighing. 

*' These two shepherds retire, their hearts big with grief and despair ; 
and, following up this music, the first act of the comedy in prose 

" The subject of it is, that a rich farmer, having married the daughter 
of a country gentleman, gets nothing but contempt from his wife, as well 
as from his father-in-law and mother-in-law, who had only accepted him 
as their son-in-law for his large property. 


" The whole of this piece is treated in the same style in which the 
sieur de Moliere is accustomed to construct his other stage plays ; which 
means, that he portrays in the most natural colours the characters of the 
personages whom he introduces ; so much so, that nothing has ever been 
seen more closely resembling the vexations in which people often find 
themselves who marry above their station, than what he has written ; and 
when he depicts the humour and manners of certain provincial nobles, he 
forms no traits but what perfectly convey their true portraits. At the 
end of the act the peasant is interrupted by a shepherdess, who comes to 
tell him of the despair of the two shepherds ; but being troubled with 
other concerns, he leaves her in anger ; thereupon Chloris enters, lament- 
ing the death of her lover in the following verses . 
Ah ! mortal grief, 
What else can still befall me ? 
Flow on, flow on, my tears ; 
I cannot shed too many. 
Why does a tyrannical honour 
Hold our soul bound in slavery ? 
Alas ! in order to satisfy its cruel harshness, 
I have driven my lover to abandon life. 
Ah ! mortal grief! 
What else can still befall me ? 
Flow on, flow on, my tears ; 
I cannot shed too many. 
Can I ever forgive myself, in this fatal affair, 
The severe coolness with which I had armed myself? 
Why then, my dear lover ! have I given you up to death? 
Is that, alas ! the price for having loved me so much" 
Ah ! mortal grief ! 
What else can still befall me ? 
Flow on, flow on, my tears ; 
I cannot shed too many. 

* After this lament began the second act of the prose comedy. It is a 
continuation of the annoyances of the manied peasant, who is once more 
interrupted by the same shepherdess, who comes to tell him that Tircis 
and Philene are not dead, but have been saved by the boatmen who ac- 
company her. The peasant, worried by all these importunities, retires 
and leaves the place free to the boatmen, who, delighted with the reward 
they have received, execute a dance, and go through various evolutions 
with their boat hooks, after which the third act of the prose comedy is 

" In this last act, the peasant is seen overwhelmed with grief, through 
the bad behaviour of his wife. Finally, one of his friends advises him to 
drown his sorrows in the wine-cup, and takes him with him to join his 
troupe, having just perceived the advent of the crowd of amorous shep- 
herds, who enter and begin to celebrate, with songs and dances, the power 
of Love. 

" Here the scenery is changed instantaneously; and it is hardly to be 
conceived how so many real water-jets disappear so suddenly, or by what 
artifice, instead of all the alleys and harbours, one sees nothing but grand 
rocks, interspersed with trees, on which are shepherds who dance, and play 
on all sorts of instruments. Chloris is the first to join her voice to the 
sound of the flutes and bagpipes. 


In this spot the shadow of the elms 

Imparts a freshness to the grass ; 

And the banks of those streams 

Are brilliant with a thousand flowerets, 


Which are reflected in the water. 
Shepherds, take your bagpipes, 
Attune your piping reeds, 
And let us mix our songs 
With those of the little birds. 
Zephyr, through these streams 
Takes a thousand secret windings, 
And the young nightingales 
Impart their love- breathing ditties 
To the tender branches, 
Shepherds, take your bagpipes, 
Attune your piping reeds, 
And let us mix our songs 
With those of the little birds. 

" While the music continues to charm the ears, the eyes are no less 
agreeably occupied in seeing several elegantly dressed shepherds and 
shepherdesses perform a dance, while Climene sings 

Ah! how sweet is it, charming Sylvia. 
Ah ! how sweet is it to be inflamed by love. 
That time of life, which is not spent like this 
Should be deducted from our days. 


Ah ! the sweet days which Love vouchsafes us, 
When his burning torch unites two hearts I 
Is there either glory or crown 
Which can compare with his least delights? 


How unjustly we complain of a martyrdom 
Which is followed by such sweet delights ! 


One moment's happiness, in love's empire, 
Repays ten years of sighing. 

All together. 

Let us all sing Love's admirable power ; 
In this spot let us all sing 
His glorious charms. 
He is the most amiable, 
As well as the greatest of all the gods. 

"At these words, there was seen to approach, from the back of the 
stage, a great rock, planted with trees, on which was seated the whole 
troupe of Bacchus, composed of forty satyrs. One of them obtrudes his 
head, and proudly sings the following words : 

Stay ! this is too much to venture. 
Another god, whose edicts we follow. 
Opposes himself to the honour, which 
Your pipes and voices dare offer unto Love . 
To such exalted titles Bacchus alone pretends ; 
And we are here to defend his rights 

Chorus of Satyrs. 

We the delightful sway of Bacchus follow 
In every spot we bow 
To his glorious attractions 
He is the most amiable, 
And greatest of all gods. 

" Several of the Bacchus party accompany the music with their dance ; 
and then was seen a combat between the Bacchanalian dancers and sing- 
ers, and those who upheld the honour of Love. 



It is Spring which restores life 
To our fields strewn with flowers, 
But it is Love and his torch 
That re-animates our hearts. 

A follower of Bacchus. 
The sun disperses the shadows 
With which the Heavens are obscured, 
And from the most sombre hearts 
Bacchus drives care away. 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Bacchus is worshipped, on the earth and on the wares 

The followers of Love. 
And Love is the god who is adored everywhere. 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Bacchus has yoked beneath his sway the whole world 

The followers of Love. 
And Love has vanquished gods as well as men. 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Nothing can equal his matchless sweetness 

The followers of Love. 
Nothing can equal his precious charms. 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Fie upon Love and upon his flames. 

The followers of Love. 
Ah ! what pleasure it is to love ! 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Ah ! what pleasure it is to drink ! 

The followers of Love. 
To him who lives without love, life has no charms 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
To live and not drink is simply to die. 

The followers of Love. 

Sweet, charming bonds ! 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 

Sweetest of victories. 

The followers of Love. 

Ah 1 what pleasure it is to love 1 

The Bacchanalian Chorus. 
Ah ! what pleasure it is to drink 1 

Thf two Chorusses together. 
No, no, it is a mistake, 
The greatest god of all ... 
The followers of Love. 

Is Love. 

The Bacchanalian Chorut. 
Is Bacchus. 

" Upon this a shepherd arrives, who throws himself between the two 
contending parties to separate them, and who sings these verses. 

Shepherds! this is too much. He! why this contention ? 

Let reason make but one assembly of us. 

Love has his charms, Bacchus has his attractions. 

They are two deities, who go very well together; 

Let us not divide them. 


The two Chorusses, 

Let us therefore join their amiable attractions, 
Let us join our voices in this delightful spot, 
And let us make the surrounding echoes repeat 
That naught is sweeter than Bacchus and Love. 

11 All these dancers join together, and amidst the shepherds and shep- 
herdesses are seen four followers of Bacchus, with thyrses, and four 
bacchantes, carrying a kind of tambourines, which are intended to rep- 
resent the sieves, formerly used at the feasts of Bacchus. With these 
thyrses the followers strike on the sieves of the bacchantes, and arrange 
different postures, while the shepherds and shepherdesses dance more 

'' It may be safely asserted that in this work, the sieur Lulli has found 
the secret of satisfying and delighting everybody, for never has anything 
so beautiful and so well conceived been witnessed. As regards the dances, 
there are no steps, but what express the action which the dancers are to 
carry out, and no gestures but what are as so many unspoken words. If 
we come to judge the music, there is nothing but what conveys perfectly 
the passions, and which does enchant the spectators. 

" But what had never been seen before is the harmony of voices so 
agreeable, the symphony of the instruments, the beautiful blending of the 
different chorusses, the sweet songs, the dialogues so tender and amorous 
those echoes ; and, in short, the admirable management in every part, in 
which, from the first recitals, the music goes on increasing, from having 
begun with one single voice, ending in a concert of nearly a hundred 
persons, which on one stage, and at the same time, were seen to join 
their instruments, their voices, and their movements in the finale of the 
piece, leaving everybody in such an admiration as would be difficult to 

The narrative then continues to describe the beauty of the decorations, 
gives the name of the ladies who were honoured with an invitation to the 
table of the king to supper,* Louis XIV. and his brother, being the only two 
gentlemen gets enthusiastic over the different dishes, and a wonderful rock 
on which was stuck pastry, preserves, and candied fruit " which seemed 
to grow among the stones and to belong to it," tells us that the queen 
presided at one table, and that there were a great many other tables laden 
with eatables, wines, liqueurs, and many other delicacies " which showed 
that the magnificence of the king was lavished everywhere," becomes 
quite lyric when giving the details of a room made of foliage, in which 
were waterworks wonderful to behold ; and in which their Majesties and 
the whole court had a ball ; and is full of fervour when graphically deline- 
ating the astonishing fireworks, when all kinds of monsters vomited rock- 
ets, &c. 

M. Fe"libien ends thus: "People can see that his Majesty performs 
all his actions with equal grandeur, and that he is inimitable, whether 
in peace or in war. However much I have endeavoured to describe 
this beautiful fe"te, I acknowledge that my description is very imper- 
fect: people cannot form any idea whatever, by what I have written, of 
the reality. 

* Among the ladies invited at the king's table I see the name of the Duchess de 
la Valliere, who was then only tolerated, but not that of Madame de Montespan, 
at that time the Grand Monargue's mistress . 


GEORGE DANDIN, a rich farmer, husband to Angelique* 
M. DE SOTENVILLE, a country gentleman, A nge lique' s father. 
CLITANDRE, in love with Angelique, 
LUBIN, a peasant, Clitandre* s servant 
COLIN, George Dandirf s servant. 
ANGELIQUE, George Dandin' s wife. 
CLAUDINE, Angelique' s maid. 


* Moliere played this part himself. His dress for this part consisted, 
according to M. E. Soulie's inventory, so often quoted, of" breeches and 
cloak of light brown taffeta, with collar of the same; the whole adorned 
with lace and silver buttons, a belt of the same : a little doublet of crim- 
son silk ; another doublet of brocade of different colours and silver lace, 
to ^rear over it ; a large ruff and shoes.'' Dandin is, according to Nicot, 
Tresor de la langue franfaise, published in 1606, used to designate a man 
who foolishly and open-mouthed stares about, ineptus and insipidus. 
Rabelais uses this word in the twenty-fifth chapter of the first book of 
Gargantua, which Sir Thomas Urquhart translates " ninny lobcock.'' He 
employs Dandin also as the proper name of a judge and his son, because 
it is supposed that this judge used to dangle his legs about, just as the 
sound of the bells seemed to go, din, dan, din (Pantagruel, 3, 41). Racine 
calls his judge in the Plaideurs, Perrin Dandin, so does La Fontaine in his 
fable of L ' Hultre et les Plaideurs. In old French, dandeau was said of a 
wilful cuckold. Etienne Pasquier (1529-1615} connects it with dindan, 
the noise produced by ringing the bells*; and Hensleigh Wedgwood, in 
his Dictionary of English Etymology, states that the French words dodiner, 
to rock, to shake ; dandiner, to sway the body to and fro ; dodeliner, to 
rock or jog up and down, to dandle : dondeliner, to wag the head ; and 
the Italian dondolare, to dandle a child, to loiter; and dondola, a tov. a 
child's playing baby, are all more or less connected with the English 
words " dandle " and " dandy." 





AH ! what a strange thing it is to be a woman of quality 5 
and a wife ! and what an instructive lesson my marriage is 
to all peasants who wish to raise themselves above their 
condition, and to ally themselves, as I have done, to a no- 
bleman's family. Nobility, in itself, is good; it is a thing 
worthy of respect, surely: but it is attended by so many 
ugly circumstances, that it is better not to come in contact 
with it. I have become very knowing on that subject, to 
my cost, and understand now the way of noblemen, when 
they allow us to enter their families. We ourselves count 
for very little in the match : they only marry our property ; 
and I would have done much better, rich as I am, to marry 
a good and honest peasant's daughter, than to take a wife 
who holds herself above me, is ashamed to bear my name, 
and imagines that with all my wealth I have not paid dear 
enough for the honour of being her husband. George 
Dandin ! George Dandin ! you have committed the great- 
est folly in the world. My home has become unbearable 

The original has/emme demoiselle. See Vol. I,, note 14, page xxxii. 

2 35 


to me now, and I never enter it without finding some an- 
noyance. 6 


DAN. (Aside, seeing Lubin come out of his house). What 
the devil can that fellow want in my house? 

LUB. (Aside, perceiving George Dandiri). There is some 
one looking at me. 

DAN. (Aside). He does not know me. 

LUB. (Aside). He suspects something.- 

DAN. (Aside). Bless my soul ! he will barely nod to me. 

LUB. (Aside). I am afraid he will say that he saw me 
come from within. 

DAN. Good day to you. 

LUB. Your servant. 

DAN. You do not belong to this place, I believe? 

LUB. No : I have come only to see the feast to-morrow. 

DAN. Just tell me, if you please, did not you come out 
thence ? 

LUB. Hush! 

DAN. Why so? 

LUB. Be quiet ! 

DAN. What is the matter? 

LUB. Not a word ! You must not say that you saw me 
come out there. 

DAN. Why? 

LUB. Good Heavens! because . . 

DAN. Well? What? 

LUB. Softly. I am afraid they will hear us. 

DAN. Not at all, not at all. 

LUB. Because I have just been delivering a message to 
the mistress of the house from a certain gentleman who has 
an eye upon her; and it must not be known. Do you 

DAN. Yes. 

LUB. I have been told to take care that no one should 
see me ; and let me beg of you, at least, not to say that 
you have seen me. 

6 Strepsiades, the principal character of Aristophanes' comedy, The 
Clouds, utters the same complaint, and for the same reason. 


DAN. I do not mean to. 

LUB. I am very glad to do things secretly, as I have 
been told. 

DAN. That is all right. 

LUB. The husband, from what they tell me, is dread- 
fully jealous, who will not allow his wife to be made love 
to ; and there would be the devil to pay if it came to his 
ears. Now, do you understand ? 

DAN. Very well. 

LUB. He is to know nothing of all this. 

DAN. To be sure. 

LUB. They wish to deceive him quietly. You under- 
stand me ? 

DAN. Perfectly. 

LUB. If you go and say that you have seen me come 
out of his house, you will spoil the whole affair. Do you 
understand ? 

DAN. Indeed, I do. What is the name of him who sent 
you there ? 

LUB. He is our squire, Viscount of ... somebody . . . 
By my troth ! I never remember how the deuce they 
manage to pronounce that name. Mr. Cli . . . Clitandre. 

DAN. Is it that young courtier who lives . . . ? 

LUB. Yes ; not far from those trees. 

DAN. (Aside). That is why this civil young spark has 
come to live so close to me. I smell a rat, certainly ; and 
his vicinity had already given me some suspicions. 

LUB. Gadzooks ! he is the most gentlemanlike man you 
ever met with. He has given me three gold pieces only 
to go and tell the lady that he is in love with her, and that 
he very much wishes the honour of being able to speak 
with her. It was not much trouble to be so well paid for it, 
compared with a day's work, for which I get only ten sous. 

DAN. Well ! have you delivered your message ? 

LUB. Yes. I found inside a certain Claudine, who un- 
derstood directly what I wanted, and who gained me 
speech with her mistress. 

DAN. (Aside). Oh ! what a jade that maid is ! 

LUB. Odds bobs! this Claudine is as pretty as can be: 
I have taken a fancy to her, and it will be her fault if we 
are not married. 


DAN. But what answer has the mistress made to this 
Mr. Courtier? 

LUB. She has told me to tell him . . . stop ; I do not 
know if I shall remember it all ; that she is very much 
obliged to him for his affection towards her, and that he 
must be very careful not to show it, on account of her 
husband, who is whimsical, and that he must bethink him- 
self to invent something, so that they may converse with 
each other. 

DAN. (Aside]. Ah ! baggage of a wife ! 7 

LUB. Jeminy ! that will be funny ; for the husband will 
not dream of the trick ; that is the best of it, and he will 
be taken in for all his jealousy. Is it not so ? 

DAN. That is true. 

LUB. Good-bye. Keep silence, mind ! Keep the secret 
well, so that the husband may not know of it. 

DAN. Yes, yes. 

LUB. As for myself, I shall pretend to know nothing. 
I am a cunning fellow, and people would not think that I 
have anything to do with it. 


Well ! George Dandin, you see how your wife treats 
you ! That is your reward for having wished to marry a 
lady of quality ! You are completely done for, 8 without 
being able to revenge yourself; and nobility ties your hands. 
Equality of condition leaves the husband at any rate the 
freedom of resentment ; and if this were a country wench, 
you would now have full liberty to right yourself by giving 
her a good thrashing. But you wished to have a taste of 
nobility ; and you were tired of being master in your own 
house. Ah ! I am bursting with rage, and would willingly 
box my own ears. What! to listen impudently to the 
declaration of some fop, and to promise him at the same 

7 Aime"- Martin says that the resemblance between George Dandin and 
The School for Wives (see Vol. I.) has struck all commentators of Mo- 
liere. Dandin is always told of the faithlessness of his wife, just as 
Arnolphe is about the stratagems of AgnSs. Neither of them, however, 
succeeds in surprisng the guilty. 

8 The original has L'on vous accommode de toutes pieces, because, in 
former times, a knight completely armed was called so. 


time that his love would be returned ! Zounds ! I will 
not let such an opportunity slip me. I must, at this very 
moment, go and complain to her father and mother, and 
take them to witness, at all events, of the vexations and 
annoyance which their daughter causes me. But here 
they come, just at the right moment. 


M. DE S. What is the matter, son-in-law? You seem 
quite upset. 

DAN. So I have cause to be, and . 

MAD. DE S. Good Heavens! son-in-law, how unpolite 
you are, not to bow to people when you approach them ! 

DAN. Upon my word ! mother-in-law, it is because I 
have other matters to think of; and . . . 

MAD. DE S. Again ! Is it possible, son-in-law, that you 
know fashion so little, and is there no teaching you how 
to behave among people of quality ? 

DAN. What do you mean? 

MAD. DE S. Will you never divest yourself, with me, of 
the familiarity of that word, mother-in-law, and can you 
not accustom yourself to call me Madam ? 

DAN. Zounds ! If you call me your son-in-law, it seems 
to me that I may call you my mother-in-law. 

MAD. DE S. That remains to be seen, and the case is 
not the same. Please to understand that it is not for you 
to use that word with a person of my rank ; that, although 
you may be our son-in-law, there is a great difference be- 
tween us, and that you ought to know your place. 

M. DE S. That is enough, my love ; let us drop that. 

MAD. DE S. Good Heavens ! M. de Sotenville, you are 
more indulgent than any one else, and you do not know 
how to make people give you your due. 

M. DE S. Egad ! I beg your pardon : I do not require 
any lessons upon that subject ; and during my life, I have 
shown by a score of energetic actions that I am not a man 
ever to abate a tittle of my pretensions ; but a hint is quite 
sufficient for him. Let us know a little, son-in-law, what 
you have got on your mind. 


DAN. Since I am to speak categorically, I shall tell you, 
M. de Sotenville, that I have cause to ... 

M. DE S. Gently, son-in-law. Let me tell you that it 
is not respectful to address people by their names, and 
that we must only say, "Sir," to those above us. 

DAN. Well then, only say Sir, and no longer M. de 
Sotenville, I must tell you that my wife gives me . . . 

M. DE S. Softly ! Let me also tell you that you ought 
not to say my wife when you speak of our daughter. 

DAN. I have no patience ! What ! is not my wife my 

MAD. DE S. Yes, son-in-law, she is your wife; but you 
must not call her so. You could not do more, if you had 
married one of your equals. 

DAN. (Aside). Ah ! George Dandin, what a hole you 
have got into ! (Aloud}. For gracious sake, put your 
gentility aside for a moment, and allow me now to speak 
to you as best I can. (Aside). A plague upon all this 
nonsensical tyranny! (To M. de Sotenville). I tell you 
then that I am very much dissatisfied with my marriage. 

M. DE S. And the reason, son-in-law? 

MAD. DE S. What ! to speak thus of an affair from 
which you have derived such great advantages ! 

DAN. And what advantages, Madam, since "Madam" 
it is to be ? The bargain has not been a bad one for you ; 
for, by your leave, your affairs, had it not been for me, 
would have been in a very dilapidated condition, and my 
money has served to stop pretty large gaps ; but, as for 
myself, what have I profited by it, pray, unless it be the 
lengthening of my name, and instead of being George 
Dandin, to have received, through you, the title of M. de 
La Dandiniere ? 

M. DE S. Do you reckon for nothing, son-in-law, the 
advantage of being allied to the house of Sotenville? 

MAD. DE S. And to that of La Prudoterie, from which 
I have the honour of being descended ; a house where the 
females ennoble, and which, by that valuable privilege, 
will make your sons noblemen. 9 

9 The contrary was generally the law in France ; for if a lady of noble 
birth married a commoner, she lost her own rank, and her children be- 
came commoners. But exceptionally, it was the custom in the province 


DAN. Oh! that is good, my sons shall be noblemen: 
but I shall be myself a cuckold, unless care be taken. 

MAD. DE S. What does this mean, son-in-law ? 

DAN. It means that your daughter does not behave as 
a wife ought to do, and that she does things which are 
contrary to honour. 

MAD. DE S. Gently. Take care what you are saying. 
My daughter belongs to a race too full of honour, ever to 
do aught that might offend honesty ; and as for the house 
of La Prudoterie, thank Heaven, it has been observed 
that for more than three hundred years no woman has 
been talked about. 

M. DE S. Egad ! there has never been a flirt in the 
house of Sotenville ; and bravery is not more hereditary 
in the males than chastity in the females. 

MAD. DE S. We have had a Jacqueline de la Prudoterie, 
who would never be the mistress of a duke and peer, 
governor of our province. 

M. DE S. There was a Mathurine de Sotenville who 
refused twenty thousand crowns from a favourite of the 
King, who asked only for the favour of speaking to her. 

DAN. Well ! your daughter is not so straight-laced as 
all that ; and she has grown tractable since she has been 
with me. 

M. DE S. Explain yourself, son-in-law. We are not 
people to support her in any wrong actions, and we would 
be the first, her mother and I, to do you justice. 

MAD. DE S. We do not understand jesting in matters 
of honour; and we have brought her up in the greatest 
possible strictness. 

DAN. All I can tell you is, that there is a certain court- 
ier thereabout, whom you have seen, who is in love with 
her, under my very nose, and who has sent her a declaration 
of his love, to which she has very feelingly listened. 

MAD. DE S. By the Heavens above ! I would strangle 

of Champagne that the children born either from a father or mother of 
noble rank, became nobles themselves. According to tradition, this 
privilege was granted to the inhabitants of that province, because they 
had lost so many men of high birth in the battle of Fontenay (841), near 
Auxerre, fought between Charles the Bald and his brothers. 


her with my own hands, were she to deviate 10 from her 
mother's virtuous path. 

M. DE S. Zounds, I would pass my sword through her 
body, and that of her gallant, were she to forfeit her 

DAN. I have told you what is going on, to justify my 
complaints; and I ask you for satisfaction in this matter. 

M. DE S. Do not torment yourself: I will get it you 
from both ; and I am the man to keep a tight hold over, 11 
no matter whom. But are you quite positive about what 
you have told us? 

DAN. Quite. 

M. DE S. Take great care; for, between gentlemen, 
these are ticklish subjects; and you must not make a 

DAN. I have said nothing, I tell you, but the truth. 

M. DK S. My love, go and talk to your daughter, while 
I, with my son-in-law, will go and speak with that man. 

MAD. DE S. Is it possible, my son, that she could so far 
forget herself, after the good example which, as you well 
know, I have set her. 

M. DE S. We are going to clear the matter up. Follow 
me, son-in-law, and do not trouble yourself. You shall 
see what we are made of, when people attack those who 
may belong to us. 

DAN. There he is coming toward us. 


M. DE S. Do you know me, Sir? 

CLIT. Not that I am aware of, Sir. 

M. DE S. My name is the Baron de Sotenville. 

CLIT. I am very happy to hear it. 

M. DE S. My name is well known at court ; and in my 

10 The original \\asforligner, an antiquated word, which means, liter- 
ally, "to deviate from the line." It was applied to nobles who had de- 

11 In the original serrer le bouton, literally, " to tighten the leathern 
buckle which holds the reins together;" hence, figuratively, to keep a 
tight hold over any one. 


youth, I had the honour of being one of the first to distin- 
guish myself in the arriere-ban 12 at Nancy. 

CLIT. So much the better. 

M. DE S. My father, Jean-Gilles de Sotenville, had the 
honour of assisting in person at the great siege of Mont- 
auban. 13 

CLIT. I am delighted to hear it. 

M. DE S. And one of my ancestors, Bertrand de Soten- 
ville, enjoyed so much consideration in his time, that he was 
permitted to dispose of all his property, to cross the seas. 

CLIT. I can easily believe it. 

M. DE S. It has been reported to me, Sir, that you are 
in love with, and run after a young person, who is my 
daughter, in whom I am interested {pointing to George 
Dandiri), as well as in this man whom you see, who has 
the honour of being my son-in-law. 

CLIT. Who? I? 

M. DE S. Yes ; and I am glad of the opportunity of 
speaking to you, in order to have this affair explained, if 
you please. 

CLIT. What strange slander is this ! Who has told you 
that, Sir? 

M. DE S. Somebody who believes himself well informed. 

CLIT. This somebody has told a lie. I am a gentleman. 
Do you think me capable, Sir, of such a base act ? What ! 
I, love a young and handsome person who has the honour 
of being the daughter of the Baron de Sotenville ! I 
respect you too much for that, and am too much your 
humble servant. Whoever has told you this is a fool. 

M. DE S. Now, son-in-law. 

DAN. What? 

CLIT. He is a rogue and villain. 

M. DE S. {To George Dandiri). Answer him. 

DAN. Answer him yourself. 

CLIT. If I knew who it could be, I would in your 
presence run my sword through his body. 

M. DE S. (To George Dandiri). Support your assertion. 

u The arriere-ban was the convocation originally made by the King of 
all the nobles of his states, to march against the enemy. 

1S The siege alluded to here is no doubt the one undertaken by Louis 
XIII. in 1621, about a year before Moliere's birth. 


DAN. It is fully supported. It is true. 

CLIT. Is it your son-in-law, Sir, who . . . 

M. DE S. Yes, it is he himself^ who complains to me 
about it. 

CLIT. Certainly he may thank his stars for belonging to 
you ; and without that, I would pretty well teach him to 
talk in such a manner about a person like me. 


MAD. DE S. With regard to that, jealousy is a strange 
thing ! I have brought my daughter here, to clear the 
matter up in the presence of every one. 

CLIT. ( To Angelique). It is you then, Madam, who 
have told your husband that I am in love with you. 

ANG. I ? And how could I have told him ? Is it so 
then ? I should really like to see you in love with me. 
Just attempt it, pray ; you will find out with whom you 
have to deal ; I advise you to try the thing ! Have re- 
course, by way of experiment, to all the lovers' stratagems : 
just attempt to send me, for the fun of it, some messages, 
to write me some small love letters secretly ; to watch the 
moments of my husband's absence, or when I am going 
out to tell me of your love : you have only to set about it, 
I promise you you shall be received as you ought. 

CLIT. Gently, gently, Madam ; there is no need to read 
me such a lesson, or to be so scandalized. Who told you 
that I thought of loving you? 

ANG. How do I know, who told me just now these 
stories ? 

CLIT. They may say what they like ; but you know best 
whether I ever spoke of love to you when we met. 

ANG. You should only have done so, you would have 
been welcome ! 

CLIT. I assure you that you have nothing to fear from 
me ; that I am not a man to vex the fair ; and that I re- 
spect you and your parents too much, to have even the 
thought of falling in love with you. 

MAD. DE S. {To George Dandin^) Well, now you see ! 

M. DE S. Are you satisfied, son-in-law ? What do you 
say to that ? 


DAN. I say that these are cock-and-bull stories; that 
I know what I know; and that, since I am to speak 
plainly, she has just now received a message from him. 

ANG. What ! I have received a message ? 

CLIT. I have sent a message ? 

ANG. Claudine ? 

CLIT. (To Claudine}. Is it true? 

CLAU. Upon my word, that is a strange falsehood ! 

DAN. Hold your tongue, slut that you are. I know 
your tricks ; and it is you who introduced the messenger 
just now. 

CLAU. Who? I? 

DAN. Yes, you. Do not look so innocent. 

CLAU. Alas ! how full of wickedness people are now- 
a-days, to suspect me thus, I, who am innocence itself ! 

DAN. Hold your tongue, you bad lot. You pretend to 
be a saint, but I have known you for a long time ; and 
you are a sly jade. 

CLAU. (To Angelique). Madam, have I . . . 

DAN. Hold your tongue, I tell you ; you may bear the 
brunt for all the others ; and your father is not a noble- 

ANG. It is a falsehood so gross, and which affects me 
so much, that I have not even the strength to answer it. 
It is very horrible to be accused by a husband, when one 
has done nothing wrong to him ! Alas ! if I am to blame 
at all, it is for treating him too well. 

CLAU. Indeed you have. 

ANG. My great misfortune is that I consider him too 
much ; and would to Heaven that I could tolerate, as he 
says, the attentions of some one else ! I should not be so 
much to be pitied. Good-bye ; I withdraw, and I cannot 
longer bear to be thus insulted. 


MAD. DE S. (To George Dandiri). Go, you do not 
deserve the virtuous wife you have got. 

CLAU. Upon my word, he deserves that she should 
make his words come true ; and if I were in her place, I 
would not hesitate about it. (To Clitandre). Yes, sir, 


you ought to make love to my mistress, to punish him. 
Insist, it is I who tell you ; it will be worth your while ; 
and I offer to assist you, since he has already taxed me 
with it. (Exit Claudine. 

M. DE S. You deserve, son-in-law, to have these things 
said to you ; and your behaviour sets every one against 

MAD. DE S. Go, endeavour to treat a gentlewoman 
better ; and take care not to make any more such blun- 
ders for the future. 

DAN. (Aside). It makes me mad to be put in the 
wrong, when I am in the right. 


CLIT. (To M. de Sotenville). You see, sir, how falsely 
I have been accused ; you are a gentleman who know the 
punctilios of honour ; and I demand satisfaction for the 
insult that has been offered to me. 

MAD. DE S. That is just ; and it is the right way of 
proceeding. Come, son-in-law, give this gentleman satis- 

DAN. How ! satisfaction ? 

M. DE S. Yes, it is right according to usage, for having 
wrongly accused him. 

DAN. That is something with which I do not at all 
agree, that I have wrongly accused him ; and I know well 
enough what I think of it. 

M. DE S. That does not matter. Whatever thought 
may remain in your mind, he denies it ; that must satisfy 
people, and they have no right to complain of any man 
who gainsays a thing. 

DAN. Thus, if I had found him in bed with my wife, he 
would get off by simply denying it ? 

M. DE S. No more arguments. Make him the apolo- 
gies which I tell you. 

DAN. I ? I am to make him apologies after . . . 

M. DE S. Come, I tell you ; there is nothing to hesitate 
about, and there is no need of being afraid of overdoing 
the thing, since you are guided by me. 


DAN. I cannot . . . 

M. DE S. Zounds ! son-in-law, do not make me angry. 
I shall be taking his part against you. Come, be guided 
by me. 

DAN. (Aside). Ah ! George Dandin ! 

M, DE S. First, take your cap in hand : This gentleman 
is a nobleman, and you are not. 

DAN. (Cap in hand, aside). I am boiling with rage ! 

M. DE S. Repeat after me : Sir . . . 

DAN. Sir . . . 

M. DE S. I crave your pardon . . . (Seeing that George 
Dandin hesitates to obey). Ah ! 

DAN. I crave your pardon . . . 

M. DE S. For the bad thoughts which I have had of you. 

DAN. For the bad thoughts which I have had of you. 

M. DE S. It was because I had not the honour of know- 
ing you. 

DAN. It was because I had not the honour of knowing 

M. DE S. And I beg you to believe . . . 

DAN. And I beg you to believe . . . 

M. DE S. That I am your servant. 

DAN. Would you have me to be the servant of a man 
who wants to make me a cuckold ? 

M. DE S. (Threatening him again). Ah ! 

CLIT. It is sufficient, Sir. 

M. DE S. No. I will have him finish it, and that 
everything should be done in due form : That I am your 

DAN. That I am your servant. 

CLIT. (To George Dandin). Sir, I am yours with all 
my heart ; and shall think no more of what has happened. 
(To M. de Sotenville). As for you, Sir, I wish you good- 
day, and am sorry that you have had some annoyance. 

M. DE S. I kiss your hand; and, whenever you like, 
shall give you some sport in coursing. 

CLIT. You do me too much honour. (Exit Clitandre. 

M. DE S. That is how things ought to be managed, son- 
in-law. Farewell. Remember that you have entered a 
family that will support you, and not suffer you to be 
affronted. ' 



Ah ! that I ... You would have it so, you would have 
it so ; George Dandin, you would have it so ; this suits 
you very nicely, and you are served right ; you have pre- 
cisely what you deserve. Come, everything depends only 
on undeceiving the father and mother ; and perhaps I 
may find some means of succeeding. 


CLAU. Yes, I guessed well enough that it must have 
come from you, and that you told it to some one, who 
related it to master. 

LUB. Upon my word, I mentioned only a word of it, 
as I was passing by, to a man, that he might not say that 
he had seen me come out. People must be great chatter- 
boxes in these parts ! 

CLAU. Really, the Viscount has well chosen his man in 
taking you for his messenger; and he has employed a 
fellow who is very lucky. 

LUB. Never mind, I shall be more artful the next time, 
and take greater care. 

CLAU. Yes, yes, it will be high time ! 

LUB. Let us speak no more of this. Listen. 

CLAU. What am I to listen to ? 

LUB. Turn your face a little towards me. 

CLAU. Well ! what is it ? 

LUB. Claudine ? 

CLAU. Well? 

LUB. Lack-a-day ! Do you not know what I mean ? 

CLAU. No. 

LUB. I' faiks ! I love you. 

CLAU. Really? 

LUB. Yes, the devil take me ! you may believe me, as 
I have sworn it. 

CLAU. So much the better. 


LUB. I feel my heart going pit-a-pat 1 * when I look 
at you. 

CLAU. I am very glad of it. 

LUB. What do you do to be so pretty ? 

CLAU. I do like others. 

LUB. Look ye here, a nod is as good as a wink to a 
blind horse; 1 * if you like, you shall be my wife, I shall be 
your husband, and we shall be man and wife together. 

CLAU. Perhaps you will be jealous like master. 

LUB. Not at all. 

CLAU. As for me, I hate your suspicious husbands, and 
I want one who is frightened at nothing ; one so full of 
confidence and so sure of my chastity, that he could see 
me in the midst of thirty men without being uneasy. 

LUB. Very well ; I shall be all that. 

CLAU. It is the silliest thing in the world to mistrust a 
wife and to torment her. The truth of the matter is that 
one gains nothing "by it : it only makes us think of harm ; 
and most frequently husbands make themselves what they 
are by their hubbub. 

LUB. Well ! I shall leave you free to do whatever you 

CLAU. That is what you should do in order not to be 
deceived. When a husband relies on our discretion, we 
take no more liberty than what is right. It is just with 
them as with those who open their purses to us, saying : 
take. We use them discreetly, and content ourselves with 
what is right ; but those who cavil with us, we try to fleece 
them, and do not spare them. 

LUB. Be easy, I shall be like those who open their 
purse ; and you have only to marry me. 

CLAU. Very well ! we shall see. 

LUB. Come here, Claudine. 

CLAU. What do you want ? 

LUB. Come here, I tell you. 

CLAU. Softly. I do not like fumblers. 

14 The original hasj'e me sens tout tribouiller le cantr. Tribouiller, to 
disturb, to stir, is a very old French verb. 

15 The original has il ne faut point tant de beurre pour faire un 
quarteron : not so much butter is needed to make a quarter of a 


LUB. Just a little bit of coddling. 

CLAU. Let me alone, I tell you ; I do not understand 
these jokes. 

LUB. Claudine. 

CLAU. (Repulsing Lubiri). Have done ! 

LUB. Ah ! haw cross you are with folks ! Fie, how dis- 
agreeable to refuse people ! Are you not ashamed to be 
so pretty, and not wishing to be caressed ? He ! there ! 

CLAU. I shall slap your face. 

LUB. Oh ! how fierce ! how savage she is ! Fie, out upon 
you, you cruel minx ! 

CLAU. You are too fast. 

LUB. What harm would it do to let me have my way a 

CLAU. You must have patience. 

LUB. Only a little kiss on account. 

CLAU. I am your humble servant. 

LUB. Come, Claudine, you can deduct it afterwards. 16 

CLAU. Not if I know it ! I have been taken in before. 
Good-bye. Go, and tell the Viscount that I shall take 
care to deliver his note. 

LUB. Good-bye, you cruel fair. 

CLAU. That is affectionate. 

LUB. Good-bye, you rock, you flint, you stone-block, 
you everything that is hard in the world. 

CLAU. (Alone). I must deliver this to my mistress. . . 
But here she comes with her husband : let us get out of 
the way, and wait until she is alone. 


DAN. No, no ; I am not so easily deceived, and I am 
but too certain that what I have been told is true. I have 
better eyes than people fancy ; and your talk just now has 
not dazzled me. 


CLIT. (Aside, at the far end of the stage). Ah ! here she 
is ; but her husband is with her. 

M The original has sur V et-tant-moins, an old law-term. 


DAN. ( Without seeing Clitandre}. Underneath all your 
grimaces, I have perceived the truth of what I have been 
told and the little respect which you have for the tie that 
binds us. (Clitandre and Angelique bow to each other}. 
Good Heavens! leave your bowing and scraping; it is not 
that kind of respect of which I am talking, and you need 
not play the fool with me. 

ANG. I ! play the fool ! Not at all. 

DAN. I know your thoughts, and understand . . . 
{Clitandre and Angelique bow again). Again! Come, 
let us cease joking. I am well aware that you think me 
much beneath you, on account of your birth, and the 
respect of which I speak does not concern myself; I mean 
that which you owe to such sacred ties as those of wedlock. 
(Angelique makes a sign to Clitandre}. You need not shrug 
your shoulders. I am not talking nonsense. 

ANG. Who dreams of shrugging her shoulders ? 

DAN. Good Heavens ! I am not blind. I tell you once 
more that marriage is a bond to which we owe every re- 
spect ; and that it ill becomes you to behave as you do. (An- 
gelique nods to Clitandre). Yes, yes, it is very bad of you , 
and you need not nod your head, and make faces at me. 

ANG. I ? I do not know what you mean. 

DAN. I know it well enough ; and I know your con- 
tempt for me too. If I was not born a nobleman, I be- 
long at least to a race on which there is no stain : and the 
family of the Dandins . . . 

CLIT. {Behind Angelique, without being seen by George 
Dandin). One moment's conversation ! 

DAN. ( Without seeing Clitandre~}. He ? 

ANG. What ! I did not say a word. 

( George Dandin turns round his wife, and Clitandre 
retires, making him a profound bow. 


DAN. There he is, prowling about you. 

ANG. Well ! is it my fault ? What do you wish me 
to do? 

DAN. I wish you to do what a wife who only wishes to 
please her husband should do. Whatever people may say, 
gallants never trouble a woman unless she wishes it. There 


are certain sweet looks which attract them, as honey does 
flies ; and virtuous women have a manner that drives them 
away immediately. 

ANG. I drive them away ! and for what reason ? I am 
not scandalized at being thought handsome, and it affords 
me pleasure. 

DAN. Just so ! But what part would you have the 
husband act during this gallant performance? 

ANG. The part of a sensible man, who is glad to see his 
wife admired. 

DAN. Much obliged. That does not suit me ; and the 
Dandins are not accustomed to that fashion. 

ANG. Then the Dandins will be good enough to accus- 
tom themselves to it ; for, as to me, I declare that I do 
not intend to renounce the world, and to bury myself 
alive with a husband. What ! because a man thinks fit to 
marry us, everything must be at an end immediately, and 
we must break off all intercourse with every living being ! 
This tyranny of husbands is a marvellous thing ; and I 
think it very kind of them to wish that we should be dead 
to all amusements; and that we should live for them only! 
I laugh at that, and do not wish to die so young. 

DAN. Is it thus that you keep the vows of fidelity which 
you made to me before the world ? 

ANG. I? I did not make them willingly, and you 
forced them from me. Did you, before marriage, ask me 
my consent, and whether I cared for you ? You consulted 
only my father and mother. In reality, they have mar- 
ried you, and therefore you will do well always to com- 
plain to them about the wrongs which you may suffer. As 
for me, who did not tell you to marry me, and whom you 
took without consulting my feelings, I do not pretend to 
be obliged to submit, like a slave, to your will ; and, by 
your leave, I mean to enjoy the few happy days of my 
youth, to take the sweet liberties which the age allows me, 
to see the fashionable world a little, and to taste the 
pleasure of having pretty things said to me. Prepare 
yourself for this, for your punishment ; and thank Heaven 
that I am not capable of something worse." 

17 One of the commentators of MoliSre, Petitot, has justly observed that 
the great difficulty in George Dandin was the part of Angelique. If she 


DAN. Indeed ! that is how you take it ? I am your 
husband, and tell you that I do not understand this. 

ANG. I, I am your wife, and tell you that I understand 
it perfectly well. 

DAN. (Aside). I have a great mind to beat her face to 
a jelly> and to bring it to a condition never more to charm 
those gallant sparks. Ah ! come, George Dandin ; you 
can hardly restrain yourself, and you had better leave the 


CLAU. I have been on the tenterhooks for him to go, 
Madam, to give you this note from you know who. 

ANG. Let us see. (She reads softly. 

CLAU. (Aside). To judge by appearances, what he tells 
her seems not at all displeasing. 

ANG. Ah ! Claudine, how prettily this note is worded ! 
How agreeable these courtiers are in all their words and 
in all their actions ! And what, after all, are our country 
people compared with them ? 

CLAU. I think that, after having seen them, the Dan- 
dins hardly please you. 

ANG. Remain here : I am going to answer it. 

CLAU. (Alone). I have no need, I think, to recom- 
mend her to make it agreeable. But here he comes . . . 


CLAU. Really, Sir, you have chosen a clever messenger. 

CLIT. I dared not send one of my own servants ; but I 
must reward you, my pretty Claudine, for the good ser- 
vices which you have rendered me. (He feels in his pocket. 

had been painted as a victim, she might easily have become too interest- 
ing ; but, although she states that she was married without having her 
feelings consulted, she does not pretend to be sacrificed, but simply says 
that she means to enjoy herself. Later on, we may laugh at the follies 
and at the humiliations of George Dandin ; but we can never approve of 
the tricks which his wife plays. She does not show any delicacy, and 
takes advantage of the credulity of her parents, and the weakness of her 
husband, whom she wishes above all to make her very humble servant. 
Molifcre's genius was the first to represent upon the stage a woman 
deceiving her husband, and yet not enlisting the sympathies of the 


CLAU. Eh ! Sir, there is no occasion for it. No, no, 
Sir, you need not give yourself that trouble ; I serve you 
because you merit it, and because I like you at heart. 

CLIT. (Giving her some money). I am obliged to you. 

LUB. (To Claudine). As we are going to be married, 
give it to me, that I may put it with mine. 

CLAU. I will keep it for you, as well as the kiss. 

CLIT. (To Claudine). Tell me, have you given my note 
to your charming mistress? 

CLAU. Yes. She has just gone to answer it. 

CLIT. But, Claudine, is there no way to speak to her? 

CLAU. Yes : come along with me ; I shall let you speak 
to her. 

CLIT. But will she not be displeased ? and is there no 

CLAU. No, no. Her husband is not at home ; and, be- 
sides, he is not most to be considered ; it is her father and 
mother ; and as long as they are prepossessed in favour of 
their daughter, there is nothing to fear from the rest. 

CLIT. I trust myself to your guidance ! 

LUB. (Alone). Odd boddikins, what a clever wife I 
shall have ! She has wit enough for four. 


DAN. (Softly, aside). There is my man I saw just now. 
Would to Heaven he could be brought to bear witness to 
the father and mother of what they will not believe ! 

LUB. Ah, there you are, Mr. Tittle-tattle, whom I 
recommended so much not to talk, and who promised so 
much that he would not ! You are a chatterbox, then, 
and you go and tell again what other people say to you in 
secret ? 

DAN. I? 

LUB. Yes. You have repeated everything to the hus- 
band, and you are the cause of his having made a row. I 
am glad to know what a tongue you have got ; and it will 
teach me not to tell you anything more. 

DAN. Listen, friend. 

LUB. If you had not blabbed, I would have told you 
what is going on just now ; but, for your punishment, you 
shall know nothing at all. 


DAN. How ! What is going on ? 

LUB. Nothing, nothing. See what you get by chatter- 
ing ; you will not get another taste, so you can smack 
your lips at it. 

DAN. Stop a little. 

LUB. Not at all. 

DAN. I wish to say only a word to you. 

LUB. Nay, nay. You wish to pump me. 

DAN. No, it is not that. 

LUB. I am not such a fool as I look. I see what you 
are driving at. 

DAN. It is something else. Listen. 

LUB. Nothing of the sort. You would like me to tell 
you that the Viscount gave some money just now to 
Claudine, and ,that she has taken him to her mistress. 
But I am not so silly. 

DAN. Pray . . . 

LUB. No. 

DAN. I will give you . . . 

LUB. Fiddlesticks. 


I could not, with this idiot, make use of the idea which 
I had. But the fresh intelligence that has escaped him 
shall serve the same purpose ; and if the gallant is indoors, 
that will be proof enough for the father and mother, and 
fully convince them of their daughter's shamelessness. 
The mischief is, that I do not know how to make the best 
of this piece of news. If I go indoors, the rascal will 
escape ; and however clearly I may see my own dishon- 
our, I shall not be believed on my oath, and I shall be 
told that I am dreaming. If, again, I fetch my father-in- 
law and mother-in-law, without being sure of finding the 
gallant inside, it will be no other thing, and I shall be in 
the same plight as before. Can I not find out quietly if 
he be there still ? (After having looked through the key- 
hole}. Oh, Heavens ! there is no longer any doubt. I 
have just seen him through the key-hole. Fate gives me 
an opportunity of confounding my adversary ; and, to 
complete the adventure, it sends the judges whom I 
need at the right moment. 



DAN. Just now, you would not believe me, and your 
daughter got the better of me ; but at present I have 
proofs at hand how she serves me ; and, thank Heaven, 
my dishonour is so plain now, that you cannot doubt it 
any longer. 

M. DE S. How now ! son-in-law, you are still harping 
upon this? 

DAN. Yes, I am ; and I have never had greater cause 
to do so. 

MAD. DE S. You are going once more to cram your 
nonsense into our heads? 

DAN. Yes, Madam, and they do worse to mine. 

M. DE S. Are you not weary of making yourself such a 
nuisance ? 

DAN. No ; but I am very weary of being made a dupe 

MAD. DE S. Will you never get rid of your preposterous 
fancies ? 

DAN. No, Madam ; but I would like to get rid of a wife 
who dishonours me. 

MAD. DE S. Good Heavens! son-in-law, be careful 
how you speak. 

M. DE S. Zounds ! Try to find some less offensive 

DAN. The merchant who loses cannot laugh. 

MAD. DE S. Remember that you have married a lady 
of noble birth. 

DAN. I remember it well enough, and shall remember 
it only too much. 

M. DE S. If you do remember it, endeavour to speak of 
her more respectfully. 

DAN. But why does she not endeavour to treat me more 
honestly? What ! because she is a lady of noble birth, is 
she to be free to do as she likes to me, without my daring 
to say a word? 

M. DE S. What is the matter with you, and what can 
you say ? Did you not see, this morning, that she denied 
all knowledge of the person you spoke to me about? 


DAN. Yes. But you, what would you say if I show you 
at this moment that the gallant is with her ? 

MAD. DE S. With her? 

DAN. Yes, with her, and in my house. 

M. DE S. In your house ? 

DAN. Yes, in my own house. 

MAD. DE S. If such be the case, we shall take your part 
against her. 

M. DE S. Yes. The honour of our family is dear to us 
above everything; and if you speak the truth, we shall 
discard her as our child, and leave her to your resent- 

DAN. You have only to follow me. 

MAD DE S. Take care not to be mistaken. 

M. DE S. Do not do as you did before. 

DAN. Good Heavens ! you shall see. {Pointing to Cli- 
tandre, who comes out of the house with Angelique). There, 
have I told a lie ? 



DANDIN at the farther end of the stage. 

ANG. (To Clitandre}. Good-bye. I am afraid that you 
should be caught here, and I have to keep up appear- 

CLIT. Promise me> then, Madam, to let me speak to 
you this night. 

ANG. I shall try my best. 

DAN. (To M. and Mad. de Sotenville). Let us get be- 
hind softly, and try not to be seen. 

CLAU. (To Angelique). Ah! Madam, all is lost! 
Here are your father and mother, and your husband with, 

CLIT. Ah, Heavens ! 

ANG. (Softly to Clitandre and Claudine*}. Take no no- 
tice, and leave it to me. {Aloud to Clitandre). What ! 
dare you to behave in such a manner, after the affair of 
just now? and is it thus that you disguise your sentiments? 
I am told that you are in love with me; and that you in- 
tend to declare your affection for me ; I show my annoy- 
ance at it, and explain myself clearly to you before every 


one : you stoutly deny the thing, and pledge me your 
word that you have no thought of offending me ; and yet, 
the self-same day, you have the impudence to come and 
call upon me, to tell me that you love me, to say a hun- 
dred silly things to me to persuade me to respond to your 
follies : just as if I were a woman to break the vows which 
I have pledged to my husband, and ever to stray from that 
virtue which my parents have taught me. If my father 
knew of this, he would teach you indeed to attempt such 
things'! But an honest woman does not like to make a 
stir : I do not care to tell him of it ; (Making a sign to 
Claudine to bring a stick) and I shall show you that, wo- 
man as I am, I have courage enough to revenge myself for 
the insults offered to me. You have not acted like a no- 
bleman, and therefore I shall not treat you as one. {An- 
gelique takes the stick, and lifts it against Clitandre, who 
places himself in such a position that the blows fall upon 
Dandin. ) 

CLIT. (Crying as if he had been struck). Ah ! Ah ! Ah ! 
Ah ! gently. 


CLAUD. Strike hard, Madam ! lay it on thickly. 

ANG. (Pretending to speak to Clitandre). If you have 
anything more on your mind, I am ready to answer you. w 

CLAU. That will teach you whom you have got to deal 

ANG. (Pretending to be surprised}. Ah! father, you 

M. DE S. Yes, daughter, and I am glad to see that in 
your discretion and courage you show yourself a worthy 
offspring of the house of Sotenville. Come here ; let me 
embrace you. 

MAD. DE S. Embrace me also, daughter. There ! I 
weep for joy, and recognise my blood in what you have 
just now done. 

18 In one of Moliere's early farces, The Jealousy of the Barbouille (see 
vol. III.), and which he played in the provinces, the Barbouill6, followed 
by Villebrequin, his father-in-law, wishes to surprise his wife and her 
gallant and receives the blows which she pretends to deal to the latter. 


M. DE S. Son-in-law, how delighted you ought to be ! 
and how satisfied you should be with this incident ! You 
had just cause to be alarmed ; but your suspicions are 
allayed in the most fortunate manner. 

MAD. DE S. Without doubt, son-in-law; and you ought 
now to be the most satisfied of husbands. 

CLAU. Assuredly. This is what I call a woman ! You 
ought to be only too happy, and kiss the ground she 
walks on. 

DAN. {Aside). Oh, you wretch ! 

MAD. DE S. What is the matter, son-in-law? Why do 
you not thank your wife a little for the affection which 
you see she shows for you. 

ANG. No, no, father, there is no need for that. There 
is no necessity to thank me for what he has just witnessed; 
whatever I have done is only out of self-respect. 

M. DE S. Where are you going, daughter? 

ANG. I am going away, father, not to be obliged to 
receive his compliments. 

CLAUD. (To George Dandiri). She is right to be angry. 
She is a woman who deserves to be worshipped ; and you 
do not treat her as you ought. 

DAN. {Aside). Wicked wretch ! 


M. DE S. She is rather angry at what happened just 
now, and it will pass away if you caress her a little. 
Farewell, son-in-law; you see you have no occasion to 
be any longer uneasy. Go and make it up together, and 
try to appease her by apologizing for your anger. 

MAD. DE S. You ought to consider that she is a girl 
strictly brought up, and who is not accustomed to see 
herself suspected of any bad action. Farewell. I am 
delighted to see your quarrels ended, and the great joy 
which her conduct must afford you. 

I do not say a word, for I should gain nothing by 
speaking ; and never was anything known like my dis- 
grace. Yes, I wonder at my misfortune, and the subtle 


skill of my jade of a wife to be always in the right, and 
put me in the wrong. Is it possible that I shall always 
be outdone by her ; that appearances will always go 
against me, and that I shall never have a chance of pro- 
ving the guilt of my shameless wife ! O Heaven ! assist 
me in my plans, and vouchsafe me the favour of letting 
the world see that I am dishonoured ! 



CLIT. The night is pretty far advanced, and I am 
afraid that it is too late. I cannot see where I am going 
Lubin ! 

LUB. Sir? 

CLIT. Is this the way ? 

LUB. I think it is. Odds-bobs ! This is a silly night, 
to be so dark as this. 

CLIT. It is certainly not right; but if, on the one hand, 
it prevents us from seeing, on the other, it prevents our 
being seen. 

LUB. You are right, it is not so far wrong after all. It 
should like to know, sir, you who are so learned, why it is 
not day at night ? 

CLI. That is a great question, and one which is difficult 
to answer. You are inquisitive, Lubin. 

LUB. Yes : if I had studied, I should have thought 
about things of which no one ever thinks now. 

CLI. Yes, I believe that. You appear to have a subtle 
and penetrating mind. 

LUB. That is true. Look here, I explain Latin although 
I never learned it ; and the other day, when I saw col- 
legium written upon a large door, I guessed that it meant 

CLI. Marvellous ! You can read then, Lubin ? 

LUB. Yes. I can read print ; but I never could learn to 
read writing. 

CLI. We are near the house. (After clapping his hands} 
This is the signal that Claudine has given me. 


LUB. Upon my word ! she is worth her weight in gold ; 
and I love her with all my heart. 

CLI. That is why I took you with me to entertain her. 

LUB. Sir, I am . . . 

CLI. Hush ! I hear a noise. 


ANG. Claudine? 

CLAU. Well? 

ANG. Leave the door ajar. 

CLAU. I have done so. (They are groping about for 
each other in the dark. 

CLI. (To Lubin). It is they. Hush. 

ANG. Hush. 

LUB. Hush. 

CLAU. Hush. 

CLI. ( To Claudine, whom he mistakes for Angelique}. 
Madam ! 

ANG. ( To Lubin, whom she mistakes for Clitandre). 

LUB. (To Angelique, whom he mistakes for Claudine). 

CLAU. (To Clitandre, whom she mistakes for Lubin). 
What is it ? 

CLI. ( To Claudine, thinking he is speaking to Angelique). 
Ah, Madam, how happy you make me ! 

LUB. ( To Angelique, thinking he is speaking to Claudine). 
Claudine ! my poor Claudine ' 

CLAU. (To Clitandre}. Gently, Sir. 

ANG. (To Lubin). Softly, Lubin. 

CLI. Is it you, Claudine? 

CLAU. Yes. 

LUB. Is it you, Madam? 

ANG. Yes. 

CLAU. (To Clitandre). You have taken the one for 
the other. 

LUB. (To Angelique}. Upon my word! at night one 
cannot see a bit. 

ANG. Is it not you, Clitandre? 

CLI. Yes, Madam. 


ANG. My husband is snoring nicely, and I have taken 
the opportunity for our conversing together. 

CLI. Let us look for a seat somewhere. 

CLAU. That is a good idea. (Angelique, Claudine and 
Clitandre sit down at the farther end of the stage, upon a 
piece of turf at the foot of a tree. 

LUB. (Seeking for Claudine}. Claudine ! whereabouts are 


at the farther end of the stage, GEORGE DANDIN, partly 
dressed, LUBIN. 

DAN. (Aside). I heard my wife go downstairs, and I have 
quickly dressed myself to go down after her. Where can 
she have gone to? Has she left the house? 

LUB. {Seeking for Claudine and catching hold of Dandin 
for her). But where are you, Claudine ? Ah ! here you 
are. Upon my word, your master is nicely caught, and I 
think it as funny as the cudgel-blows just now, of which 
I was told. Your mistress says he was* snoring at this 
moment, like a pig; and he does not know that the Vis- 
count and she are together, while he sleeps. I should like 
to know what sort of a dream he is having now. It is 
quite laughable. Why does he get it into his head to be 
jealous of his wife, and to wish to keep her all to himself? 
It is like his impudence, and the Viscount does him too 
much honour. 19 You are not saying a word, Claudine? 
Come, let us follow them ; and -give me your little hand 
that I may kiss it. Ah ! how sweet it is ! it is like eating 
jam. (To George Dandin, whom he still takes for Claudine, 
and who rudely repulses him). The deuce ! how you go it, 
your little hand is mighty hard. 

DAN. Who is there? 

LUB. No one. 

DAN. He runs away, and leaves me convinced of a fresh 
deception of my wretch. Come, I must send for her 
mother and father without delay, so that this adventure 
may get me separated from her. Hullo ! Colin ! Colin ! 

19 This is the third time that Lubin has made a confidant of George 
Dandin, but darkness is the cause of it ; twice before it was through 
Lubin's simplicity. 


still seated at the farther end of the stage, GEORGE 

COL. (At the window}. Sir ! 

DAN. Quick, come down. 

COL. (Leaping out of the window). Here I am, I could 
not come more quickly. 

DAN. Are you there ? 

COL. Ay, Sir ! 

( Whilst Dandin looks for Colin on the side where he 
has heard his voice, Colin crosses to the other and 
falls asleep, 

DAN. {Turning to the side where he believes Colin to be}. 
Softly. Speak low. Listen. Run to my father-in-law 
and mother-in-law, and say that I beseech them very 
urgently to come down here immediately. Do you hear? 
Come, Colin ! Colin 1 

COL. {On the other side, waking up). Sir? 

DAN. Where the devil are you? 

COL. Here. 

DAN. Plague take the booby, who is moving away from 
me ! ( Wfiile Dandin returns to the side where he thinks 
that Colin has remained, Colin, half asleep, crosses over to 
the other, and falls asleep again). I say that you are to go 
directly to my father-in-law and mother-in-law, and tell 
them that I implore them to come here immediately. 
Do you understand me? Answer. Colin ! Colin ! 

COL. (On the other side, waking up~). Sir ! 

DAN. The scoundrel will drive me mad. Come here, 
I say! (They run against each other and fall down). 
Ah! the wretch ! he has maimed me. Where are you? 
Come here that I may thrash the life out of you. I 
believe he is running away from me. 

COL. Of course I am. 

DAN. Will you come here? 

COL. Not likely. 

DAN. Come here, I tell you. 

COL. Not a bit. You wish to thrash me. 

DAN. Well ! I will not thrash you. 

COL. For certain ? 


DAN. Yes. Come close. ( To Colin, whom he holds by 
the arm). Good ! It is lucky that I need you. Go 
quickly and ask my father-in-law and mother-in-law, in 
my name, to come down here as soon as possible, and tell 
them that it is on a matter of the utmost consequence ; 
and, should they hesitate on account of the time, do not 
fail to insist upon it, and to give them to understand that 
it is most important they should come, no matter how 
they are dressed. You understand me thoroughly now ? 

COL. Yes, Sir. 

DAN. Get along then and come back quickly. ( Thinking 
himself alone). And I, I will go indoors, to wait till . . . 
But I hear some one. Can it be my wife ? I must listen, 
and take advantage of this darkness. 

(He places himself at his door. 


ANG. (To Clitandre). Good-bye. It is time to separate 

CLI. What! already? 

ANG. We have conversed enough. 

CLI. Ah ! Madam, can I have enough of your conversa- 
tion, and find in so short a time all the words I need. It 
would take whole days to explain to you clearly all that I 
feel ; and I have not told you yet the smallest part of what 
I have to say to you. 

ANG. We shall hear some more at another time. 

CLI. Alas ! how you pierce my heart when you talk of 
'withdrawing ; and with what amount of grief you leave me 

ANG. We shall find means of seeing each other again. 

CLI. Yes. But I cannot help remembering that, when 
you leave me, you go back to a husband. This thought 
kills me ; and a husband's privileges are cruel things to a 
fond lover. 

ANG. Are you weak enough to have such anxiety, and 
do you think it possible to love a certain sort of husbands? 
We marry them, because we cannot help ourselves, and 
because we depend upon our parents, who look only to 


riches ; but we know how to be even with them, and we 
take good care not to value them above their deserts. 

DAN. (Aside). These are our strumpets of wives ! 

CLI. Alas ! it must be admitted that the one they have 
given you little deserved the honour which he received, 
and that the union of a woman like you with a man like 
him is somewhat strange. 

DAN. (Aside). Poor husbands ! that is how they treat 

CLI. You deserve, no doubt, a quite different lot; 
Heaven did not create you to be a peasant's wife. 

DAN. Would to Heaven she were yours ! you would tell 
a different tale ! Let us go in ; it is enough. 

{He goes in and locks the door inside. 


CLAU. Madam, if you have any harm to say of your hus- 
band, you had better make haste, for it is getting late. 

CLI. Ah ! Claudine, how cruel you are ! 

ANG. (To Clitandre). She is right. We must separate. 

CLI. Since you wish it, I must submit to it. But I pray 
you to pity me, at least, for the wretched moments that 
I am to pass. 

ANG. Farewell. 

LUB. Where are you, Claudine, that I may bid you 
good-night ? 

CLAU. Do not trouble. I accept it at a distance, and 
send you back the same. 


ANG. Let us go in without making a noise. 

CLAU. The door is shut. 

ANG. I have the master-key. 

CLAU. Then open it softly. 

ANG. It is bolted inside, and I do not know what we 
shall do. 

CLAU. Call the boy who sleeps there. 

ANG. Colin ! Colin ! Colin ! 

DAN. (At the window). Colin! Colin! Ah I I have 
caught you at it this time, Mistress Dandin; and you 

266 GEORGE DANDIN; OR, [xcrm. 

make little escapades 20 while I am asleep. I am very glad 
of it, and to see you abroad at this hour. 

ANG. Well ! what great harm is there in taking the 
fresh air at night? 

DAN. Yes, yes. This is the right time to take the fresh 
air ! It is rather the warm air, Mistress Jade ; and we 
know all about the appointment between you and your 
spark. We heard the whole of your gallant conversation, 
and the beautiful verses in my praise which you sang to 
each other. But my consolation is that I am going to be 
avenged, and that your father and mother will be convinced 
now of the justice of my complaints, and of your dis- 
orderly conduct. I have sent for them, and they will be 
>iere in a moment. 

ANG. (Aside). Oh Heavens ! 

CLAU. Madam! 

DAN. That is a blow, doubtless, which you did not 
expect. It is now my turn to win, and I have the where- 
withal to put down your pride, and spoil your stratagems. 
Up till now, you have laughed at my accusations, thrown 
dust in your parents' eyes, and patched up your misdeeds. 
I might see and say what I would, your cunning always 
got the better of my righteous cause, and you have always 
found some way to appear in the right ; but this time, 
thank Heaven, matters will be cleared up, and your shame- 
lessness will be quite confounded. 

ANG. Pray let me in. 

DAN. No, no : you must wait the arrival of those I have 
sent for ; I wish them to find you out-of-doors at this nice 
time of night. While you are waiting for them, you had 
better contrive, if you like, some new scheme to get out 
of this scrape ; to invent some way to palliate your esca- 
pade ; to find some pretty trick to hoodwink the world 
and to appear innocent ; some specious pretext of a noc- 
turnal pilgrimage, or of some female friend of yours in 
labour, whom you have just assisted. 

ANG. No. I have no intention of disguising anything 
from you. I do not pretend to defend myself, nor to 
deny things, since you know them. 

20 The original has escampativos, a burlesque expression, derived from 
the old French verb escamfer, to escape, to take flight. 


DAN. That is because you find no loophole left to you, 
and that in this affair, you cannot invent an excuse of 
which it would not be easy for me to show the falshood. 

ANG. Yes, I confess that I am in the wrong, and that 
you have reason to complain. But I beg of you, I beseech 
you, not now to expose me to the anger of my parents, 
and let me in quickly. 

DAN. I would see you far enough first. 

ANG. There is a dear good husband ! I implore you, 

DAN. A dear good husband, am I ! I am your dear 
good husband now, because you are caught. I am very 
glad of it ; but you never took it into your head to say 
these sweet things before. 

ANG. There ; I promise never again to give you any 
cause for displeasure, and to ... 

DAN. All that does not signify. I will not lose this 
opportunity ; and I am determined that the world shall 
know thoroughly your misconduct this time. 

ANG. For mercy's sake, let me speak to you. I pray 
you for a moment's hearing. 

DAN. Well ! what is it ? 

ANG. It is true, I have been at fault ; I admit it once 
again, and that your resentment is just ; that I have taken 
advantage of your sleep to slip out : and that I went out 
to keep an appointment with the person whom you know. 
But after all, these are actions which you ought to pardon 
at my age ; the follies of a young woman who has had no 
experience, and has but just entered the world ; liberties 
to which one gives way, without thinking of any harm, 
and which, in reality, have nothing . . . 

DAN. Ay: as you say, these are things in which one 
ought to have implicit faith. 

ANG. I do not wish to pretend by this, that I am with- 
out blame towards you ; and I only entreat of you to forget 
an offence for which I heartily beg your pardon, and to 
spare me, for this once only, the vexation of the severe 
reproaches of my father and mother. If you will gene- 
rously grant me the favour which I ask from you, your 
obliging conduct, your kindness towards me, will win me 
over entirely; it will thoroughly touch my heart, and pro- 


duce there for you what neither the authority of my parents 
nor the bonds of marriage have been able to instil into it. 
In short, it will cause me to renounce all gallantries, and 
to be attached solely to you. Yes, I pledge my word, that 
henceforth I will be the best wife in the world to you, and 
that I will show you so much affection, yes, so much, that 
you will be satisfied. 

DAN. Ah ! you crocodile, that flatters people to strangle 
them ! 21 

ANG. Grant me this favour. 

DAN. Not a jot. I am inexorable. 

ANG. Show yourself generous. 

DAN. No. 

ANG. For pity's sake ! 

DAN. Not at all. 

ANG. I implore you with all my heart. 

DAN. No, no, no. I wish them to be undeceived about 
you, and that your disgrace may be made public. 

ANG. Very well ! if you drive me to despair, I warn 
you that a woman, in that condition, is capable of every- 
thing, and that I shall do something of which you shall 
repent. 22 

DAN. And what will you do, pray? 

ANG. I shall be driven to the most desperate resolution ; 
and with this knife shall I kill myself on the spot. 23 

DAN. Ha! ha! Well and good. 

ANG. Not so well and good as you imagine. People are 
acquainted, on all hands, with our quarrels and the per- 
petual ill-will which you foster against me. When they 
find me dead, no one will doubt that you have killed me; 
and, certainly, my parents are not the people to leave my 
death unpunished, and they will punish you to the utmost 
extent which the law and the heat of their resentment will 
allow. That is the way in which I shall find means to be 
revenged upon you; and I am not the first who has had 

In the eleventh scene of The Jealousy of the Barbouille (see Vol. III.), 
one of Moliere's earliest farces, which he played in the provinces, the 
Barbouill< says almost the same thing to his wife, who is also called 

22 Angelique, in the eleventh scene of The Jealousy of the Barbouille. 
says nearly the same thing. 

88 This is also said by Angelique in The Jealousy of the Barbouille. 


recourse to that kind of vengeance; and who has not 
scrupled to take her own life, in order to destroy those 
who had the cruelty to drive her to this last extremity. 

DAN. I am not to be caught in that way. People no 
longer kill themselves; and the fashion has gone out 
long since. 

ANG. You may rely upon my doing it ; and if you per- 
sist in your refusal, if you do not let me in, I swear to you 
that I shall immediately show you how far the resolution of 
a desperate woman will go. 

DAN. Nonsense, nonsense. You wish to frighten me. 

ANG. Very well ! since it must be, this will content us 
both, and will show whether I am jesting. (After having 
pretended to kill herself}. Ah ! it is done. Heaven 
grant that my death may be avenged as I wish, and 
that he who is the cause of it may receive a just chastise- 
ment for his cruelty towards me ! 

DAN. Good gracious ! can she have been malicious 
enough to kill hrself to get me hanged ? Let us take a 
bit of candle to go and see. 2 * 


ANG. Hush ! keep still. Let us place ourselves imme- 
diately, one on each side of the door. 

SCENE X. ANGELIQUE and CLAUDINE, entering the house 
as soon as George Dandin comes out, and immediately 
bolting the door inside ; GEORGE DANDIN, with a can- 
dle in his hand, without perceiving them. 

DAN. Can the wickedness of a woman go as far as that ? 
(Alone, after looking everywhere). There is no one here. 
Well ! I thought so ; and the hussy is gone away, finding 
that she could gain nothing from me, either by prayers or 
threats. So much the better ! it will make matters still 
worse for her ; and her father and mother will see her 
crime all the more plainly when they come. (After hav- 

**Anglique'slast remark and Dandin's reply are, with some variations, 
found also in The Jealousy of the Barbouille. (See Vol. III.). In the 
old fabliaux, there is a tale similar to George Dandin. (See Introductory 
Notice) ; but the woman, in order to frighten her husband, throws a big 
stone into a well. 


ing been at his door, to go in]. Ah ! ah ! the door has 
fallen to. Hullo ! ho ! some one ! open the door for me 
quickly ! 

SCENE XL ANGELIQUE and CLAUDINE, at the window, 

ANG. What ! is it you ? Where have you been, you 
wretch ? Is this a time to come home, when it is nearly 
daybreak ? and is this the life which an honest husband 
ought to lead? 

CLAU. A pretty thing to go about drinking all night, 
and to leave a poor young creature of a wife by herself at 

DAN. What ! you have . . . 

ANG. Get along, you wretch, get along ; I am sick of 
your goings-on, and I will complain of them, without de- 
lay, to my father and mother. 

DAN. What ! You dare to ... 

night-gowns, COLIN, carrying a lantern, ANGELIQUE 
and CLAUDINE, at the window, GEORGE DANDIN. 

ANG. {To M. and Madam de Sotenville). Pray come 
here to protect me against the most consummate insolence 
of a husband, whose brain has been so muddled by wine 
and jealousy that he no longer knows what he is saying or 
doing, and has himself sent for you to make you wit- 
nesses of the most extravagant behaviour you ever heard 
of. This is how he comes back, as you may see, after 
making me wait all night for him ; and were you to lis- 
ten to him, he will tell you that he has the greatest com- 
plaints to make against me ; that while he was asleep, I 
left his side to go gadding about, and a hundred other 
stories of the same nature, which he has taken into his 

DAN. (Aside). There is a wicked strumpet ! 

CLAU. Yes, he wishes to make out that he was in the 
house, and that we were outside ; and it is a fancy which 
we cannot drive out of his head. 

M. DE S. How now ! What means all this ? 


MAD. DE S. Here is a confounded impudence, to senc* 
for us. 

DAN. Well I never . . . 

ANG. No, father, I can no longer put up with such a 
husband : my patience is exhausted ; and he has been 
saying all manner of insulting words to me. 

M. DE S. (To George Dandiri). Zounds ! you are a vile 

CLAU. It is pity to see a poor young wife treated in 
such a fashion ; it cries to Heaven for vengeance. 

DAN. Can any one . . . 

M. DE S. You ought to die with shame. 

DAN. Allow me to say two words. 

ANG. Only listen to him : he will tell you something 
pretty ! 

DAN. (Aside}. I give it up in despair. 

CLAU. He has drunk so much, that there is no staying 
near him ; and the scent of the wine which he exhales 
comes up even to us. 

DAN. Sir father-in-law, I implore you . . . 

M. DE S. Withdraw: your breath smells offensively of 
wine. 25 

DAN. I pray you, Madam . . . 

MAD. DE S. Away ! do not come near me ; your breath 
is filthy. 

DAN. (To M. de Sotenville~}. Allow me to ... 

M. DE S. Withdraw : I tell you, there is no bearing 

DAN. (To Mad. de Sotenville~}. For pity's sake, let 
me . . . 

MAD. DE S. Fie upon it! you make me sick. Speak if 
you will, but at a distance. 

18 Chamfort, in his Eloge de la Fontaine, says justly : " Who represents 
best the effects of prejudice : M. de Sotenville, saying to a man who has 
not been taking a drop of wine, " Withdraw, your breath smells offen- 
sively of wine," or the Bear (in La Fontaine's fable of The Bear and the 
two Comrades'), who, in taking a living, but sleeping, man for a corpse, 
says to himself, " Let us go away, for he smells? " Compare Congreve's 
The Way of the World (iv., 10 and n), where Mrs. Millamant says to 
Lady Wishfort, " Your pardon, Madam, I can stay no longer; Sir Wilful 
grows very powerful. Eh ! how he smells, I shall be overcome, if I stay." 
And Lady Wishfort replying, " Smells ! He would poison a tallow-chandler 
and his family." But Sir Wilful Witwould is really intoxicated. 


DAN. Very well, then, I will speak at a distance. I 
swear to you that I have not stirred out of the house, and 
that it was she who went out. 

ANG. Did I not tell you so ? 

CLAU. You see how likely that is. 

M. DE S. (To George Dandin). Go, you are jesting 
with people. Descend, daughter, and come here. 


DAN. I take Heaven to witness that I was in the house, 
and that . . . 

M. DE S. Hold your tongue ; this extravagance is un- 

DAN. May a thunderbolt strike me on the spot, if ... 

M. DE S. Do not pester my head any longer, but rather 
think of asking your wife's pardon. 

DAN. I ! ask pardon ? 

M. DE S. Yes, pardon, and immediately. 

DAN. What ! I . . . 

M. DE S. Zounds ! if you answer me, I shall teach you 
what it is to make fools of us. 

DAN. Ah ! George Dandin ! 


M. DE S. Come hither, daughter, that your husband 
may ask your pardon. 

ANG. I ! pardon him all that he has said to me ? No, 
no, father, I cannot possibly make up my mind to it ; and 
I beg of you to separate me from a husband with whom I 
can no longer live. 

CLAU. How can she bear it? 

M. DE S. Such separations, daughter, are not brought 
about without a great deal of scandal ; and you should 
show yourself wiser than he, and be patient once more. 

ANG. How can I be patient after such indignities? No, 
father, I cannot consent to it. 

M. DE S. You must, daughter; I command you. 

ANG. This word stops my mouth. You have absolute 
authority over me. 

CLAU. What gentleness ! 


ANG. It is vexatious to have to overlook such insults; 
but, whatever violence I may do to my feelings, it is my 
duty to obey you. 

CLAU. Poor lamb ! 

M. DE S. (To Angelique). Draw near. 

ANG. Whatever you make me do will be of no use; 
we shall have to recommence to-morrow, you will see. 

M. DE S. We shall put a stop to it. (To George Dan- 
din), Come ! go down on your knees. 

DAN. On my knees? 

M. DE S. Yes, on your knees, and without delay. 

DAN. (Kneeling with a candle in his hands). (Aside}. 
Oh ! Heavens ! (To M. de Sotenville). What am I to say? 

M. DE S. Madam, I beg of you to pardon me . . . 

DAN. Madam, I beg of you to pardon me . . . 

M. DE S. The folly I have committed . . . 

DAN. The folly I have committed , . . (Aside), of 
marrying you. 

M. DE S. And I promise you, to behave better for the 
future. x 

DAN. And I promise you, to behave better for the 

M. DE S. (To George Dandiri), Take care, and re- 
member that this is the last of your impertinences that we 
shall endure. 

MAD. DE S. By the Heavens above us ! if you try them 
again, you shall be taught the respect due to your wife, 
and to those from whom she is descended. 

M. DE S. The day is breaking. Farewell. (To George 
Dandin). Go in, and learn to behave better. (To Madam 
de Soten-ville). And we, love, let us go to bed. 

Ah ! I give it up altogether, and I can see no help for 
it. When one has married, as I have done, a wicked 
wife, the best step which one can take is to go and throw 
one's self into the water, head foremost. 

26 In former times, criminals were sometimes legally condemned to ask 
pardon publicly. This was called amende honorable. The culprit was in 
his shirt, with a burning torch in one hand, kneeling, and with a rope 
round his neck. George Dandin. half-undressed, with his candle, and on 
his knees, gives no bad idea of such an exhibition. 

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