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From The World’s Wit and Humor, Volume X, French — Rutebœuf to Balzac; The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906; pp. 67-107.


Jean Baptiste Poquelin, 'Molière' [1622-1673]

A Language Lesson


Prof. Phil.  Now for our lesson. What do you wish to learn?

M. Jour.  Everything I can, for I have the greatest desire in the world to be accomplished; and it vexes me more than I can say that my father and mother did not make me learn all the sciences thoroughly when I was young.

Prof. Phil.  That is a praiseworthy thing. Nam sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago. You understand this, as you have, no doubt, a knowledge of Latin?

M. Jour.  Yes; but I act as if I had none. Explain the meaning to me.

Prof. Phil.  The meaning of it is that, without science, life is an image of death.

M. Jour.  That Latin is quite right.

Prof. Phil.  Do you know any of the principles, any of the rudiments of science?

M. Jour.  Oh, yes; I can read and write.

Prof. Phil.  With what would you like to being? Shall I teach you logic?

M. Jour.  And what may this logic be?

Prof. Phil.  It teaches us the three operations of the mind.

M. Jour.  What are they, these three operations of the mind?

Prof. Phil.  The first, the second, and the third. The first is to conceive well by means of universals; the second, to 68 judge well by means of categories; and the third, to draw a conclusion aright by means of the figures Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralipton, etc.

M. Jour.  Pooh! what ugly words. This logic does not suit me in the least. Teach me something more cheerful.

Prof. Phil.  Would you like to learn moral philosophy?

M. Jour.  Moral philosophy?

Prof. Phil.  Yes.

M. Jour.  What does it say, this moral philosophy?

Prof. Phil.  It treats of happiness, teaches men to moderate their passions, and ——’

M. Jour.  No, none of that. I am devilishly hot-tempered, and, morality or no morality, I like to give full vent to my anger whenever I have a mind to it.

Prof. Phil.  Would you like to learn physics?

M. Jour.  And what have physics to say for themselves?

Prof. Phil.  Physics are that science which explains the principles of natural things and the properties of bodies, which discourses of the nature of the elements, of metals, minerals, stones, plants, and animals; which teaches us the cause of all the meteors, the rainbow, the ignis fatuus, comets, lightning, thunder, thunderbolts, rain, snow, hail, wind, and whirlwinds.

M. Jour.  There is too much hullabaloo in all that; too much riot and rumpus.

Prof. Phil.  What would you have me teach you then?

M. Jour.  Teach me spelling.

Prof. Phil.  Very good.

M. Jour.  Afterward, you will teach me the almanac, so that I may know when there is a moon, and when there isn’t one.

Prof. Phil.  Be it so. In order to give a right interpretation 69 to your thought, and to treat this matter philosophically, we must begin, according to the order of things, with an exact knowledge of the nature of the letters, and the different way in which each is pronounced. And on this head I have to tell you that letters are divided into vowels, so called because they express the voice, and into consonants, so called because they are sounded with the vowels, and only mark the different articulations of the voice. There are five vowels or voices, a, e, i, o, u.

M. Jour.  Yes, I understand.

Prof. Phil.  The vowel a is formed by opening the mouth very wide: a.

M. Jour.  A, a; yes.

Prof. Phil.  The vowel e if formed by drawing the lower jaw a little nearer to the upper: a, e.

M. Jour.  A, e; a, e; to be sure. Ah! how beautiful that is!

Prof. Phil.  And the vowel i by bringing the jaws still closer to one another, and stretching the two corners of the mouth towards the ears: a, e, i.

M. Jour.  A, e, i, i, i, i. Quite true. Long live science!

Prof. Phil.  The vowel o if formed by opening the jaws, and drawing in the lips at the two corners, the upper and lower: o.

M. Jour.  O, o. Nothing could be more elegant: a, e, i, o, i, o. It is admirable! I, o, i, o.

Prof. Phil.  The opening of the mouth exactly makes a little circle, which resembles an o.

M. Jour.  O, o, o. You are right. O! Ah! what a fine thing it is to know something.

Prof. Phil.  The vowel u is formed by bringing the teeth near each other without entirely joining them, and thrusting 70 out both the lips while also bringing them near together without quite joining them: u.

M. Jour.  U, u. Yes, you are quite right: u.

Prof. Phil.  Your two lips lengthen as if you were pouting; so that, if you wish to make a grimace at anybody, and to laugh at him, you have only to u him.

M. Jour.  U, u. It’s true. Oh! that I had studied when I was younger, so as to know all this.

Prof. Phil.  To-morrow we will speak of the other letters, which are the consonants.

M. Jour.  Is there anything as curious in them as in these?

Prof. Phil.  Certainly. For instance, the consonant d is pronounced by striking the tip of the tongue above the upper teeth: da.

M. Jour.  Da, da. Yes. Ah! what beautiful things, what beautiful things!

Prof. Phil.  The f, by pressing the upper teeth upon the lower lip: fa.

M. Jour.  Fa, fa. ’Tis the truth. Ah! my father and my mother, now angry I feel with you!

Prof. Phil.  And the r, by carrying the tip of the tongue up to the roof of the palate, so that, being grazed by the air which comes out forcibly, it yields to it, and, returning to the same place, causes a sort of tremor: r, ra.

M. Jour.  R-r-ra; r-r-r-r-r-ra. That’s true. What a clever man you are, and how much time I have lost. R-r-ra.

Prof. Phil.  I will thoroughly explain all these curiosities to you.

M. Jour.  Pray do. And now I want to entrust you with a great secret. I am in love with a lady of quality, and I should be glad if you would help me to write something to her in a short letter which I mean to drop at her feet.


Prof. Phil.  Very well.

M. Jour.  That will be gallant, will it not?

Prof. Phil.  Undoubtedly. Is it verse you wish to write to her?

M. Jour.  Oh, no, not verse.

Prof. Phil.  You only wish for prose?

M. Jour.  No, I wish neither verse nor prose.

Prof. Phil.  It must be one or the other.

M. Jour.  Why?

Prof. Phil.  Because, sir, there is nothing by which we can express ourselves except prose or verse.

M. Jour.  There is nothing but prose or verse?

Prof. Phil.  No, sir. Whatever is not prose is verse, and whatever is not verse is prose.

M. Jour.  And when we speak, what is that, then?

Prof. Phil.  Prose.

M. Jour.  What! when I say, “Nicole, bring me my slippers, and give me my night-cap,” is that prose?

Prof. Phil.  Yes, sir.

M. Jour.  Upon my word, I have been talking prose these forty years without being aware of it! I am under the greatest obligation to you for informing me. Well, then, I wish to write to her in a letter, Fair marchioness, your beautiful eyes make me die of love; but I would have this worded in a genteel manner, and turned prettily.

Prof. Phil.  Say that the fire of her eyes has reduced your heart to ashes; that you suffer day and night for her tortures ——

M. Jour.  No, no, no; I don’t want any of that. I simply with to say what I tell you: Fair marchioness, your beautiful eyes make me die of love.

Prof. Phil.  Still, you might amplify the thing a little? 72

M. Jour.  No, I tell you, I will have nothing but those very words in the letter; but they must be put in a fashionable way, and arranged as they should be. Pray explain a little, so that I may see the different ways in which they can be put.

Prof. Phil.  They may be put, first of all, as you have said, Fair marchioness, your beautiful eyes make me die of love; or else, Of love die make me, fair marchioness, your beautiful eyes; or, Your beautiful eyes of love make me, fair marchioness, die; or, Die of love your beautiful eyes, fair marchioness, make me; or else, Me make your beautiful eyes die, fair marchioness, of love

M. Jour.  But of all these ways, which is the best?

Prof. Phil.  The one you said — Fair marchioness, your beautiful eyes make me die of love.

M. Jour.  Yet I have never studied, and I did all that right off at the first shot. I thank you with all my heart, and I beg you to come early again to-morrow morning.

Prof. Phil.  I shall not fail you.

— “The Gentleman Cit.

Harpagon’s Method of Money-Lending


Clé.  How now, you rascal! Where have you been hiding? Did I not give you orders to ——

La Fl.  Yes, sir, and I came here resolved to wait for you patiently; but your father, that unkindest of men, drove me into the street in spite of myself, and I nearly got a good drubbing into the bargain.


Clé.  How is our affair progressing? Things seem worse than ever for us, and since I left you, I have discovered that my own father is my rival.

La Fl.  Your father in love?

Clé.  It appears so; and I found it very difficult to hide from him what I felt at such a discovery.

La Fl.  He meddling with love! What the deuce is he thinking of? Does he mean to set everybody at defiance? And is love made for people of his build?

Clé.  It is to punish me for my sins that this passion has entered his heart.

La Fl.  But why do you hide your love from him?

Clé.  That he may not suspect anything, and to make it more easy for me to fall back upon some device to prevent this marriage, if need be. What answer did you receive?

La Fl.  Indeed, sir, borrowers are much to be pitied, and we must put up with strange things when, like you, we are forced to submit to the demands of usurers.

Clé.  Then the affair won’t come off?

La Fl.  Excuse me; M. Simon, the broker who was recommended to us, is a very active and zealous fellow, and says he has left no stone unturned to help you. He assures me that your looks alone have won his heart.

Clé.  Shall I have the fifteen thousand francs which I want?

La Fl.  Yes, but under certain trifling conditions, which you must accept if you wish the bargain to be concluded.

Clé.  Did you speak to the man who is to lend the money?

La Fl.  Oh! dear, no! Things are not done in that way. He is still more anxious than you to remain unknown. These things are greater mysteries than you think. His name is on no account to be divulged, and he is to be introduced 74 to you to-day at a house designated by him, so that he may hear from yourself all about your position and your family; and I have not the least doubt that the mere name of your father will be sufficient to accomplish what you wish.

Clé.  Particularly as my mother is dead, and they cannot deprive me of what I inherit from her.

La Fl.  Well, here are some of the conditions which he has himself dictated to our go-between for you to take cognizance of, before anything is begun:

“Supposing that the lender is satisfied with all his securities and that the borrower is of age and of a family whose property is ample, solid, secure, and free from all encumbrances, there shall be drawn up a good and correct bond before as honest a notary as is possible to find, and who for this purpose shall be chosen by the lender, because he is the more concerned of the two that the bond shall be rightly executed.”

Clé.  There is nothing to say against that.

La Fl.  “The lender, not to burden his conscience with the least scruple, does not wish to lend his money at more than five and a half per cent.”

Clé.  Five and a half per cent? By Jove, that’s honest! We have nothing to complain of.

La Fl.  That’s true.

“But, as the said lender has not in hand the sum required, and as, in order to oblige the borrower, he is himself obliged to borrow from another at the rate of twenty percent, it is but right that the said first borrower shall pay this interest, without detriment to the rest; since it is to oblige him that the said lender is himself forced to borrow.”

Clé.  The deuce! What a Jew! What a Turk we have here! That is more than twenty-five percent.


La Fl.  That’s true; and it is the remark I made. It is for you to consider the matter before you act.

Clé.  How can I consider? I want the money, and I must therefore accept everything.

La Fl.  That is exactly what I answered.

Clé.  Is there anything else?

La Fl.  Only a small item.

“Of the fifteen thousand francs which are demanded, the lender will only be able to count down twelve thousand in hard cash; instead of the remaining three thousand, the borrow will have to take the chattels, clothing, and jewels contained in the following catalogue, and which the said lender has put in all good faith at the lowest possible figure.”

Clé.  What is the meaning of that?

La Fl.  I’ll go through the catalogue.

“Firstly: A four-post bedstead, with hangings of Hungary lace very elegantly trimmed with olive-colored cloth, and six chairs and a counterpane to match; the whole in very good condition, and lined with soft red and blue shot-silk. Item: the tester of good pale pink Aumale serge, with the small and the large fringes of silk.”

Clé.  What does he want me to do with all this?

La Fl.  Wait.

“Item: Tapestry hangings representing the loves of Gombaud and Macée. Item: A large walnut table with twelve columns or turned legs, which draws out at both ends, and is provided beneath with six stools.”

Clé.  Hang it all! What am I to do with all this?

La Fl.  Have patience.

“Item: Three large matchlocks inlaid with mother-of-pearl, with rests to correspond. Item: a brick furnace with two 76 retorts and three receivers, very useful to those who have any taste for distilling.”

Clé.  You will drive me crazy!

La Fl.  A moment more!

“Item: A Bologna lute with all its strings, or nearly all. Item: A pigeon-hole table and a draft-board, and a game of Mother Goose, restored from the Greeks, most useful to pass the time when one has nothing to do. Item: A lizard’s skin, three feet and a half in length, stuffed with hay, a pleasing curiosity to hang from the ceiling of a room. The whole of the above-mentioned articles are really worth more than four thousand five hundred francs, and are reduced to three thousand through the considerateness of the lender.”

Clé.  Let the plague choke him with his considerateness, wretch, cut-throat that he is! Did ever any one hear of such usury? Is he not satisfied with the outrageous interest he asks, that he must force me to take, instead of the three thousand francs, all the old rubbish which he picks up? I sha’n’t get two hundred crowns for all that, and yet I must bring myself to yield to all his wishes; for he is in a position to force me to accept everything, and he has me with a knife at my throat — the villain!

La Fl.  I see you, sir, if you’ll forgive my saying so, on the high-road followed by Panurge to ruin — taking money in advance, buying dear, selling cheap, and cutting your hay while it is still grass.

— “The Miser.


An Interview with Trissotin


Phi.  Let us sit down here to listen comfortably to these verses; they should be weighed word by word.

Arm.  I am all anxiety to hear them.

Bél.  And I am dying for them.

Phi.  (to TRISSOTIN).  Whatever comes from you is a delight to me.

Arm.  To me it is an unparalleled pleasure.

Bél.  It is a delicious repast offered to my ears.

Phi.  Do not let us languish under such pressing desires.

Arm.  Lose no time.

Bél.  Begin quickly, and hasten our pleasure.

Phi.  Offer your epigram to our impatience.

Tri.  Alas! it is but a new-born child, madame, but its fate ought truly to touch your heart, for it was in your court-yard that I have brought it forth but a moment since.

Phi.  To make it dear to me, it is sufficient for me know its father.

Tri.  Your approbation may serve it as a mother.

Bél.  What wit he has!

Phi.  (to HENRIETTE, who is going away).  Stop! Why do you run away?

Hen.  I fear to disturb such sweet intercourse.

Phi.  Come nearer, and with both ears share in the delight of hearing wonders.

Hen.  I have little understanding for the beauties of authorship, and clever subtleties are not in my line.


Phi.  No matter. Besides, I wish afterward to tell you of a secret which you must learn.

Tri.  (to HENRIETTE).  Knowledge has nothing that can touch you, and your only care is to charm everybody.

Hen.  One as little as the other, and I have no wish to ——

Bél.  Ah! let us think of the new-born babe, I beg of you.

Phi.  (to LÉPINE).  Now, little page, bring some seats for us to sit down.  (LÉPINE slips down.)  You senseless boy, how can you fall down after having learned the laws of equilibrium?

Bél.  Do you not perceive, ignorant fellow, he causes of your fall, and that it proceeds from you having deviated from the fixed point which we call the center of gravity?

Lép.  I perceived it, madame, when I was on the ground.

Phi.  (to LÉPINE, who goes out).  Awkward clown!

Tri.  It is fortunate for him that he is not made of glass.

Arm.  Ah! wit is everything!

Bél.  His never ceases.

Phi.  Serve us quickly with your admirable feast.

Tri.  To satisfy the great hunger which is here shown me, a dish of eight verses seems but little; and I think that I should de well to join to the epigram, or rather to the madrigal, the ragout of a sonnet which, in the eyes of a princess, was thought to have a certain delicacy in it, It is throughout seasoned with Attic salt, and I think you will find the taste of it tolerably good.

Arm.  Ah! I have no doubt of it.

Phi.  Let us quickly give ear.

Bél.  (interrupting TRISSOTIN each time he is about to read).   I feel, beforehand, my heart beating for joy. I love poetry to distraction, particularly when the verses are gallantly turned.


Phi.  If we go on talking he will never be able to read.

Tri.  SONN ——

Bél.  (to HENRIETTE).  Be silent, neice.

Arm.  Ah! let him read, I beg of you!


                      Your prudence fast in sleep’s repose
                                Is plunged; if thus superbly kind,
                                A lodging gorgeously you find
                           For the most cruel of your foes ——

Bél.  Ah! what a pretty beginning!

Arm.  What a charming turn it has!

Phi.  He alone possesses the talent of making fluent verses.

Arm.  We must yield to prudence fast in sleep’s repose is plunged.

Bél.  A lodging for the most cruel of your foes is full of charms for me.

Phi.  I like superbly and gorgeously; these two adverbs coming together sound admirable.

Bél.  Let us hear the rest.

Tri.               Your prudence fast in sleep’s repose
                                Is plunged; if thus superbly kind
                                A lodging gorgeously you find
                           For the most cruel of your foes ——

Arm.  Prudence asleep!

Bél.  Lodge one’s enemy!

Phi.  Superbly and gorgeously!

Tri.               Will she, nill she, quick, out she goes
                                From your apartment richly lined.
                                Where that ingrate’s outrageous mind
                           At your fair life her javelin throws.


Bél.  Ah! wait! Allow me to breathe, I beseech you!

Arm.  Give us time to admire, I beg!

Phi.  One feels, at hearing these verses, an indescribable something which goes through one’s inmost soul, and makes one feel quite faint.

Arm.               Will she, nill she, quick, out she goes
                                From your apartment richly lined
How prettily rich apartment is said here, and with what wit the metaphor is introduced.

Phi.  Will she, nill she, quick out she goes! Ah! in what admirable taste that will she, nill she, is! To my mind the passage is invaluable.

Arm.  My heart is also in love with will she, nill she.

Bél.  I am of your opinion; will she, nill she, is a happy expression.

Arm.  I wish I had written it.

Bél.  It is worth a whole poem!

Phi.  But do you, like me, thoroughly understand the wit of it?

Arm. and Bél.  Oh! oh!

Phi.  Will she, nill she, quick, out she goes! Although another should take the fever’s part, pay no attention: laugh at the gossips; will she, nill she, quick, out she goes. Will she, nill she, will she, nill she. This will she, nill she, says a great deal more than it seems. I do not know if every one is like me, but I discover a hundred meanings in it.

Bél.  It is true that it says more than its size seems to imply.

Phi.  (to TRISSOTIN).  But when you wrote this charming Will she, nill she, did you yourself understand all its energy? Did you realize all that it tells us, and did you then know that you were writing something so witty?


Tri.  Ah! Ah!

Arm.  I have likewise the ingrate in my head; this ungrateful, unjust, uncivil fever that ill-treats people who entertain her.

Phi.  In short, both the stanzas are admirable. Let us come quickly to the triplets, I pray.

Arm.  Ah! once more, will she, nill she, I beg!

Tri.  Will she, nill she, quick, out she goes!

Phi., Arn., and Bél.  Will she, nill she!

Tri.  From your apartment richly lined!

Phi., Arm., and Bél.  Rich apartment!

Tri.  Where that ingrate’s outrageous mind!

Phi., Arm., and Bél.  That ungrateful fever!

Tri.  At your fair life her javelin throws.

Phi.  Fair life!

Arm., and Bél.  Ah!

Tri.  What! Without heed for your high line,
             She saps your blood with care malign ——

Phi., Arm., and Bél.  Ah!

Tri.  Redoubling outrage night and day!
                 If to the bath you take her down
             Without a moment’s haggling, pray,
                 With your own hands the miscreant drown.

Phi.  Ah! it is quite overpowering!

Bél.  I am fainting!

Arm.  I am dying from pleasure!

Phi.  A thousand sweet thrills seize one!

Arm.  If to the bath you take her down!

Bél.  Without a moment’s haggling, pray!

Phi.  With your own hand the miscreant drown! With your own hands, there, drown her in the bath!

Arm.  In your verses we meet at each step with charming beauty.


Bél.  One promenades through them with rapture.

Phi.  One treads on fine things only.

Arm.  They are little lanes all strewn with roses.

Tri.  Then the sonnet seems to you ——

Phi.  Admirable, new; and never did any one make anything more beautiful.

Bél.  (to HENRIETTE).  What! niece, you listen to what has been read without emotion! There you play a sorry part.

Hen.  We each of us play the best part we can, aunt, and to be a wit does not depend on our will.

Tri.  My verses, perhaps, are tedious to you.

Hen.  No, I am not listening to them.

Phi.  Now let us hear the epigram.

                                                 TO A LADY FRIEND.

Phi.  His titles have always something rare in them.

Arm.  They prepare one for a hundred flashes of wit.

Tri.  Love for his bonds so dear a price demands,
             E’n now it costs me more than half my lands;
             And when this chariot meets your eyes,
             Where so much gold emboss’d doth rise
             That people all astonished stand,
             And Laïs rides in triumph through the land ——

Phi.  Laïs! What erudition!

Bél.  Exquisitely pretty, and worth a million!

Tri.  And when this chariot meets your eyes,
             Where so much gold emboss’d doth rise
             That people all astonished stand,
             And Laïs rides in triumph through the land,
             Say no more it is amaranth,
             Say rather it is oh, my rent!


Arm.  Oh, oh, oh! It surpasses everything! Who would have expected that!

Phi.  He is the only man who writes with such taste.

Bél.  Say no more it is amaranth, say rather it is oh, my rent! It can be declined: my rent; of my rent; to my rent; from my rent.

Phi.  I do not know whether I was prepossessed from the first moment I saw you, but I admire all your prose and verse whenever I see it.

Tri.  (to PHILAMINTE).  If you would only show us something of your composition, we could admire in our turn.

Phi.  I have done nothing in verse. But I have reason to hope that I shall, shortly, be able, as a friend, to show you eight chapters of the plan of our academy. Plato only touched on the subject when he wrote the treatise of his Republic; but I will complete the idea as I have arranged it on paper in prose. For, in short, I am truly angry at the wrong which is done us in regard to intelligence; and I will avenge the whole sex for the unworthy place which men assign us by confining our talents to trifles, and by shutting the door of sublime knowledge against us.

Arm.  It is insulting our sex too grossly to limit our intelligence to the power of judging of a skirt, of the make of a garment, of the beauties of lace, or of a new brocade.

Bél.  We must rise above this shameful condition, and bravely proclaim our emancipation.

Tri.  Every one knows my respect for the fair sex, and that if I render homage to the brightness of their eyes, I also honor the splendor of their intellect.

Phi.  And our sex does you justice in this respect. But we will show to certain minds who treat us with proud contempt that women also have knowledge; that, like men, 84 they can hold learned meetings — regulated, too, by better rules; that they wish to unite what elsewhere is kept apart, join noble language to deep learning, reveal Nature’s laws by a thousand experiments; and on all questions proposed, admit every party, and ally themselves to none.

Tri.  For order, I prefer peripateticism.

Phi.  For abstractions, give me Platonism.

Arm.  Epicurus pleases me, for his tenets are solid.

Bél.  I agree with the doctrine of atoms; but I find it difficult to understand a vacuum, and I much prefer subtile matter.

Tri.  I quite agree with Descartes about magnetism.

Arm.  I like his vortices.

Phi.  And I his falling worlds.

Arm.  I long to see our assembly opened, and to distinguish ourselves by some great discovery.

Tri.  Much is expected from your enlightened knowledge, for Nature has hidden few things from you.

Phi.  For my part, I have, without boasting, already made one discovery: I have plainly seen men in the moon.

Bél.  I have not, I believe, as yet quite distinguished men, but I have seen steeples as plainly as I see you.

Arm.  In addition to natural philosophy, we will plunge into grammar, history, poetry, ethics, and politics.

Phi.  I find in ethics charms which delight my heart; it was formerly the admiration of great geniuses; but I give the preference to the Stoics, and I think nobody so grand as their founder.

Arm.  Our regulations in respect to language will soon be known, and we mean to create a revolution. Through a just or natural antipathy, we have each of us taken a mortal hatred to certain words, both verbs and nouns, and these we 85 mutually abandon to each other. We are preparing sentences of death against them, and we shall open our learned meetings by the proscription of the sundry words of which we mean to purge both prose and verse.

Phi.  But the greatest project of our assembly — a noble enterprise which transports me with joy, a glorious design which will be approved by all the lofty geniuses of posterity — is the cutting out of all those filthy syllables which, in the finest words, are a source of scandal: those eternal jests of the fools of all times; those nauseous commonplaces of wretched buffoons; those sources of infamous ambiguity, with which the purity of women is insulted.

Tri.  These are indeed admirable projects.

Bél.  You shall see our regulations when they are quite ready.

Tri.  They cannot fail to be wise and beautiful.

Arm.  We shall by our laws be the judges of all works; by our laws, prose and verse will both alike be submitted to us. No one will have wit except us or our friends. We shall try to find fault with everything, and esteem no one capable of writing but ourselves.

(Enter LéPINE.)

Lép.  (to TRISSOTIN).  Sir, there is a gentleman who wants to speak to you; he is dressed all in black, and talks in a soft tone.

Tri.  It is that learned friend who entreated me so much to procure him the honor of your acquaintance.

Phi.  You have our full leave to present him to us.

(LÉPINE ushers in VADIUS.)

Tri.  (introducing VADIUS).   Here is the gentleman who is dying to see you. In presenting him I am not afraid, madame, of being accused of introducing a profane person to you; he can hold his place among the wits.


Phi.  The hand which introduces him sufficiently proves his value.

Tri.  He has a perfect knowledge of the ancient authors, and knows Greek, madame, as well as any man in France.

Phi.  (to BÉLISE).  Greek! Oh, heavens! Greek! He understands Greek, sister!

Bél.  (to ARMANDE).  Ah, niece! Greek!

Arn.  Greek! Ah! how delightful!

Phi.  What, sir, you understand Greek? Allow me, I beg, for the love of Greek, to embrace you.

(VADIUS embraces also BÉLISE and ARMANDE.)

Hen.  (to VADIUS, who comes forward to embrace her).  Excuse me, sir, I do not understand Greek.

Phi.  I have a wonderful respect for Greek books.

Vad.  I fear that the anxiety which calls me to render my homage to you to-day, madam, may render me importunate. I may have disturbed some learned discourse.

Phi.  Sir, with Greek in possession, you can spoil nothing.

Tri.  Moreover, he does wonders in prose as well as in verse, and he could, if he chose, show you something.

Vad.  The fault of authors is to burden conversation with their productions; to be, at court, in the public walks, in the drawing-rooms, or at table, the indefatigable readers of their tedious verses. As for me, I think nothing more ridiculous than an author who goes about begging for praise; who, preying on the ears of the first comers, often makes them the martyrs of his night-watches. I have never been guilty of such foolish conceit, and I am in that respect of the opinion of a Greek, who by an express law forbade all wise men any becoming anxiety to read his works. Here are some little verses for young lovers upon which I should like to have your opinion.


Tri.  Your verses have beauties unequaled by any others.

Vad.  Venus and the graces reign in all yours.

Tri.  You have an easy style, and a fine choice of words.

Vad.  In all your writings one finds ithos and pathos.

Tri.  We have seen some eclogues of your composition which surpass in sweetness those of Theocritus and Vergil.

Vad.  Your odes have a noble, gallant, and tender manner, which leaves Horace far behind.

Tri.  Is there anything more lovely than your canzonets?

Vad.  Is there anything equal to the sonnets you write?

Tri.  Is there anything more charming than your little rondeaus?

Vad.  Anything so full of wit as your madrigals?

Tri.  If France could appreciate your value ——

Vad.  If the age could render justice to a lofty genius ——

Tri.  You would ride in the streets in a gilt coach.

Vad.  We should see the public erect statues to you. Hem ——  It is a ballad; and I wish you frankly to ——

Tri.  Have you heard a certain little sonnet upon the Princess Urania’s fever?

Vad.  Yes; I heard it read yesterday.

Tri.  Do you know the author of it?

Vad.  No, I do not; but I know very well that, to tell him the truth, his sonnet is good for nothing.

Tri.  Yet a great many people think it admirable.

Vad.  It does not prevent it from being wretched; and if you had read it you would think like me.

Tri.  I know that I should differ from you altogether, and that few people are able to write such a sonnet.

Vad.  Heaven forbid that I should ever write one so bad!

Tri.  I maintain that a better one cannot be made, and my reason is that I am the author of it.


Vad.  You?

Tri.  Myself.

Vad.  I cannot understand how the thing could have happened.

Tri.  It is unfortunate that I had not the power of pleasing you.

Vad.  My mind must have wandered during the reading, or else the reader spoiled the sonnet; but let us leave that subject, and come to my ballad.

Tri.  The ballad is, to my mind, an insipid thing; it is no longer the fashion, and savors of ancient times.

Vad.  Yet a ballad has charms for many people.

Tri.  It does not prevent me from thinking it unpleasant.

Vad.  That does not make it worse.

Tri.  It has wonderful attractions for pedants.

Vad.  Yet we see that it does not please you.

Tri.  You stupidly impose your qualities on others.

Vad.  You very impertinently cast yours upon me.

Tri.  Go, you little dunce, you pitiful quill-driver!

Vad.  Go. You penny-a-liner, you disgrace to the profession!

Tri.  Go, you book-manufacturer, you impudent plagiarist!

Vad.  Go, you pedantic snob!

Phi.  Ah! gentleman, what are you about?

Tri.  (to VADIUS).  Go, go, and make restitution to the Greeks and Romans for all your shameful thefts!

Vad.  Go, and do penance on Parnassus for having murdered Horace in your verses!

Tri.  Remember your book, and the little stir it made.

Vad.  And you, remember your bookseller, reduced to the workhouse.


Tri.  My fame is established; in vain would you endeavor to shake it.

Vad.  Yes, yes; I’ll send you to the author of the Satires.

Tri.  I, too, will send you to him.

Vad.  I have the satisfaction of having been honorably treated by him; he gives me a passing thrust, and includes me among several authors well known at court. But you he never leaves in peace; in all his verses he attacks you.

Tri.  By that we see the honorable rank I hold. He leaves you in the crowd, and esteems one blow enough to crush you. He has never done you the honor of repeating his attacks, whereas he assails me separately ,as a noble adversary against whom all his efforts are necessary. His blows, repeated against me on all occasions, show that he never thinks himself victorious.

Vad.  My pen will teach you what sort of man I am!

Tri.  Andmine will make you know your master!

Vad.  I defy you in verse, prose, Greek, and Latin!

Tri.  Very well, we shall meet again at the bookseller’s!

— “The Learned Women.

An Apothecary’s Bill

ARGAN (sitting at a table, adding up his apothecary’s bill with counters).

THREE and two make five, and five make ten, and ten make twenty. “Item: on the 24th, a small, insinuative clyster, preparative and gentle, to soften, moisten, and refresh the bowels of M. Argan.” What I like about M. 90 Fleurant, my apothecary, is that his bills are always civil — “The bowels of M. Argan.” All the same, M. Fleurant, it is not enough to be civil, you must also be reasonable, and not plunder sick people. Thirty sous for a clyster! I have already told you, with all due respect to you, that elsewhere you have only charged me twenty sous; and twenty sous, in the language of apothecaries, means only ten sous. Here they are, these ten sous. “Item: on the said day, a good detergent clyster compounded of double catholicon rhubarb, honey of roses, and other ingredients, according to the prescription, to scour, work, and clear out the bowels of M. Argan, thirty sous.” with your leave, ten sous. “Item: on the said day, in the evening, a julep, hepatic, soporiferous, and somniferous, intended to promote the sleep of M. Argan, thirty-five sous.” I do not complain of that, for it made me sleep very well. Ten, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen sous six deniers. “Item: on the 25th, a good purgative and corroborative mixture, composed of fresh cassia with Levantine senna and other ingredients, according to the prescription of M. Purgon, to expel M. Argan’s bile, four francs.” You are joking, M. Fleurant; you must learn to be reasonable with patients; M. Purgon never ordered you to put four francs. Tut! put three francs, if you please. Worth thirty sous. “Item: on the said day, a dose, anodyne and astringent, to make M. Argan sleep, thirty sous.” Ten sous, M. Fleurant. “Item: on the 26th, a carminative clyster to cure the flatulence of M. Argan, thirty sous.” “Item: the clyster repeated in the evening, as above, thirty sous.” “Item: on the 27th, a good mixture composed for the purpose of driving out the bad humors of M. Argan, three francs.” Good; twenty or thirty sous; I am glad that you are reasonable. “Item: on the 28th, a does of clarified and edulcorated 91 whey, to soften, lenify, temper, and refresh the blood of M. Argan, twenty sous.” Good; ten sous. “Item: a potion, cordial, and preservative, composed of twelve grains of bezoar, sirup of citrons, and pomegranates, and other ingredients, according to the prescription, five francs.” Ah! M. Fleurant, gently, if you please; if you go on like that, no one will wish to be unwell. Be satisfied with four francs. Twenty, forty sous. Three and two are five, and five are ten, and ten are twenty. Sixty-three francs four sous six deniers. So that during this month I have taken one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight mixtures, and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve clysters; and last month there were twelve mixtures and twenty clysters. I am not astonished, therefore, that I am not so well this month as last. I shall speak to M. Purgon about it, so that he may set the matter right.

— “The Imaginary Invalid.

Monsieur Purgon


M. Pur.  I have just heard nice news down-stairs. You laugh at my prescriptions, and refuse to take the remedy which I ordered.

Arg.  Sir, it is not ——

M. Pur.  What daring boldness, what a strange revolt of a patient against his doctor!

Toi.  It is frightful!

M. Pur.  A clyster which I have had the pleasure of composing myself ——


Arg.  It was not I ——

M. Pur.  Invented and made up according to all the rules of art ——

Toi.  He was wrong.

M. Pur.  And intended to work a marvelous effect on the intestines.

Arg.  My brother ——

M. Pur.  To send it back with contempt!

Arg.  (indicating BÉRALDE).  It was he ——

M. Pur.  Such conduct is monstrous.

Toi.  So it is.

M. Pur.  It is a fearful outrage against medicine ——

Arg.  (indicating BÉRALDE).  He is the cause ——

M. Pur.  A crime of high treason against the faculty, and one which cannot be too severely punished.

Toi.  You are quite right.

M. Pur.  I declare to you that I break off all intercourse with you ——

Arg.  It is my brother ——

M. Pur.  that I will have no more connection with you ——

Toi.  You will do quite right.

M. Pur.  And to end all association with you, here is the deed of gift which I made to my nephew in favor of the marriage,  (He tears up the document, and throws the pieces about furiously.)

Arg.  It is my brother who has done all the mischief.

M. Pur.  To despise my clyster!

Arg.  Let it be brought; I will take it directly.

M. Pur.  I would have cured you in a very short time.

Toi.  He doesn’t deserve it.


M. Pur.  I was about to cleanse your body, and to clear it of its bad humors.

Arg.  Ah! brother!

M. Pur.  And it wanted only a dozen purgatives to cleanse it entirely.

Toi.  He is unworthy of your care.

M. Pur.  But since you would not be cured by me ——

Arg.  It was not my fault.

M. Pur.  Since you have forsaken the obedience you owe to your doctor ——

Toi.  It cries for vengeance.

M. Pur.  Since you have declared yourself a rebel against the remedies I had prescribed for you ——

Arg.  No, no, certainly not!

M. Pur.  I must now tell you that I give you up to your bad constitution, to the intemperament of your intestines, to the corruption of your blood, to the acrimony of your bile, and to the feculence of your humors.

Toi.  It serves you right.

Arg.  Alas!

M. Pur.  And in four days you will be in an incurable state.

Arg.  Oh! have mercy on me!

M. Pur.  You will fall into bradypepsia ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!

M. Pur.  From bradypepsia into dyspepsia ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!

M. Pur.  From dyspepsia into apepsy ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!

M. Pur.  From apepsy into lientery ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!


M. Pur.  From lientery into dysentery ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!

M. Pur.  From dysentery into dropsy ——

Arg.  Monsieur Purgon!

M. Pur.  And from dropsy into the deprivation of life to which your folly will bring you.

— “The Imaginary Invalid.

The Jealousy of Le Barbouillé











Bar.  Everybody must acknowledge that I am the most unfortunate of men! I have a wife who plagues me to death; and who, instead of bringing me comfort and doing things as I like them to be done, makes me swear at her twenty times a day. Instead of keeping at home, she likes gadding about, eating good dinners, and passing her time with people of any sort of character. Ah! Poor Le Barbouillé, how much you are to be pitied! But she must be punished, Suppose you killed her? It would do no good, for you would be hung afterward. Suppose you were to have her sent to prison? 95 The minx would find means of getting out. What the deuce are you to do? —  But here is the doctor coming out this way; suppose I ask his advice on my difficulties.


Bar.  I was going to fetch you, to beg for your opinion on a question of great importance to me.

Doc.  You must be very ill-bred, very loutish, and very ignorant, my friend, to speak to me in that fashion, without first taking off your hat, without observing rationem loci, temporis et personæ. What! you begin by an abrupt speech, instead of saying Salve, vel salvus sis, doctor doctorum eruditissime! What do you take me for, eh?

Bar.  Really, doctor, I am very sorry; the fact is that I am almost beside myself, and did not think of what I was doing; but I know you are a gentlemen.

Doc.  Do you know what gentleman comes from?

Bar.  It matters little to me whether it comes from Villejuif or Aubervilliers.

Doc.  Know that the word gentleman comes from elegant. But to come back to what I said: what do you take me for?

Bar.  I take you for a doctor. But let us speak a moment of what I have to propose to you. You must know that ——

Doc.  Let me tell you first that I am not only a doctor, but that I am one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten times doctor. Firstly, number one is the base, the foundation, and the first of all numbers; so am I the first of all doctors, the most learned of the learned. Secondly, there are two faculties essential for a perfect knowledge of things: the sense and the understanding. I am all sense, all understanding; ergo, I am twice doctor.


Bar.  Granted. What I want ——

Doc.  Thirdly, according to Aristotle, the number three is that of perfection. I am perfect; and everything I do is perfect; ergo, I am three times doctor.

Bar.  Very well, then, doctor ——

Doc.  Fourthly, philosophy is divided into four parts: logic, morals, physics, and metaphysics. I possess all four, and know them perfectly; ergo, I am four times doctor.

Bar.  Deuce take it, I don’t doubt it! Listen to me now!

Doc.  Fifthly, there are five universals: the genus, the species, the differentia, the property, and the accident, without knowing which it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions. I make great use of them, and know how important they are; ergo, I am five times doctor.

Bar.  I must have patience.

Doc.  Sixthly, number six is the number of work. I work incessantly for my own glory; ergo, I am six times doctor.

Bar.  Well, well, go on talking as long as you like.

Doc.  Seventhly, the number seven is the number of bliss. I possess a perfect knowledge of all that can produce happiness, and through my talents am happy myself. I am therefore forced to say of myself; O ter quaterque beautum! Eighthly, the number eight is the number of justice, on account of the equality which is found in it. The justice and prudence with which I measure and weigh all my actions make me eight times doctor. Ninthly, there are nine Muses, and I am equally the favorite of them all. Tenthly, one cannot pass number ten without repeating all the other numbers, and it is the universal number. Similarly, when people have found me, they have found the universal doctor; and I am in myself all the other doctors together. Thus, with the help of these plausible, true, demonstrative, and convincing reasons, 97 you see that I am one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten times doctor.

Bar.  (aside).  What the deuce does he mean by all this? I thought I had found a clever man who would give me good advice, and I find a chimney-sweep, who, instead, plays at mora. — One, two, three, four — ha! ha! — ha! ha! Come, come, that’s not it; you must listen to me, and remember that I am not a man to make you lose your time; I shall make it worth your while, and if you can satisfy me in what I want of you, I will give you what you wish — money, if you like.

Doc.  Ha! money?

Bar.  Yes, money; and whatever you may ask besides.

Doc.  (sharply, tucking up his gown behind him).  Then you take me for a man who would do anything for money, for a man fond of money, for a mercenary soul? Know, my friend, that if you were to give me a purse full of gold, and that this purse were in a rich box, this box in a precious case, this case in a superb chest, this chest in a rare museum, this museum in a magnificent apartment, this apartment in a gorgeous castle, this castle in a wonderful citadel, this citadel in a celebrated town, this town in a fertile island, this island in an opulent province, this province in a flourishing monarchy, this monarchy in the whole world; that if you gave me the world in which this flourishing monarchy would be, in which this opulent province would be, in which this fertile island would be, in which this celebrated town would be, in which this wonderful citadel would be, in which this gorgeous castle would be, in which this pleasant apartment would be, in which this rare museum would be, in which this wonderful chest would be, in which this precious case would be, in which this rich box would be, in which the purse 98 full of gold would be, I should care no more for it than this!

(Snaps his fingers and exit.)

Bar.  Well, I made a mistake. Seeing him dressed as a doctor, I felt that of necessity I must mention money to him; but since he does not want any, nothing can be more easy than to satisfy him. I’ll run after him.

(Runs out.)


Ang.  I assure you, sir, that you will oblige me very much by coming to see me sometimes; my husband is so ugly, so ill-behaved, and such a drunkard, that it is perfect martyrdom for me to be with him, and I ask you what pleasure one can have with such a clown as he is?

Val.  You do me too much honor. I promise you I shall do my utmost to amuse you, and since you are kind enough to say that my company is not unpleasant, my care and attentions shall prove to you what pleasure this good news gives me.

Cat.  Oh! quick, talk of something else! Here’s our old bugbear coming.


Val.  Angélique, I am very sorry to bring you such bad news, but you would have heard it from some one else; and since your brother is ill ——

Ang.  Ah! say no more sir; I am obliged, and thank you very much for the trouble you have taken.

(Exit VALÉRE.)

Bar.  Well! what need is there of my having a certificate 99 of my cuckledom from the notary? So, so, you trollop! I find you with a man in spite of all my remonstrances, and you want to send me from Gemini to Capricornus.

Ang.  Are you going to scold me for that? This gentleman only just came to tell me of my brother’s serious illness. Why should you make that a subject of quarrel?

Cat.  Ah! directly I saw him, I wondered if we should be long in peace.

Bar.  You spoil one another, you women; you, Cathau, you corrupt my wife; she is not half so good now as she was before she had you to wait upon her.

Cat.  Really, you treat me in a nice manner.

Ang.  Leave the drunkard alone; don’t you see that he is so muddled that he does not even know what he says?


Gor.  Now, there’s my cursed son-in-law scolding my daughter again!

Vill.  We must see what is the matter.

Gor.  What! will you always be quarreling? Will you never have peace at home?

Bar.  This hussy calls me drunkard.  (to ANGÉLIQUE.)  Here, I have a great mind to give you a good dressing down before your relations.

Gor.  May the dev— may his money be blessed, if you have done as he says.

Ang.  It is always he who begins to ——

Cat.  Cursed be the hour when you chose that sordid wretch!



Doc.  Why, what is the meaning of this? What disorder! What a quarrel! What a racket! What a row! What a noise! What a dispute! What a combustion! What is the matter, gentleman? What is the matter? What is the matter? Come, come, is there no way of making you agree? Let me be your pacificator; suffer me to bring peace among you.

Gor.  It is my son-in-law and my daughter who have had words together.

Doc.  But what can it be? Now, come, let me know the cause of their dispute.

Gor.  Sir ——

Doc.  But in a few words ——

Gor.  Yes, yes; but put on your hat.

Doc.  Hat — that is bonnet. Do you know what bonnet comes from?

Gor.  No.

Doc.  It comes from bonum est, it is good, a thing which is good, because it saves one from colds and coughs.

Gor.  Indeed! I did not know that.

Doc.  Now, quick: the subject of your quarrel?

Gor.  This is what happened ——

Doc.  I hope you are not a man to keep me long when I pray you not to do so. I have some pressing business which calls me to town; still, if I can bring peace to your family, I am willing to stop a moment.

Gor.  I shall soon have done.

Doc.  Be quick, then.

Gor.  It will be said in a moment, if ——

Doc.  We must acknowledge, M. Gorgibus, that it is a 101 wonderful gift to be able to say things in a few words, and that great talkers, instead of being heard, become often so wearisome that one cannot listen to them. Virtutem primam esse puta compescere linguam. Yes, the best quality of a good man is silence.

Gor.  You must know, then ——

Doc.  There are three things which Socrates used to recommend particularly to his disciples: to be careful of one’s actions, to be sober in eating, and to say things in a few words. Begin, M. Gorgibus.

Gor.  It is my wish to do so.

Doc.  In a few words, without ceremony, without indulging in a long speech; cut it short with an apothegm; quick, quick, M. Gorgibus; make haste, avoid prolixity.

Gor.  Allow me to speak then ——

Doc.  That’s enough, M. Gorgibus; you talk too much. Somebody else must tell me what was the cause of their quarrel.

Vill.  You must know, sir, that ——

Doc.  You are an ignoramus, an unlearned man, ignorant of all good rules — an ass, in plain language. What! you begin a discourse without a word of exordium! Some one else must tell me what happened. Will you, young lady, tell me the particulars of all this disturbance?

Ang.  Do you see my fat rascal, my wine-barrel of a husband?

Doc.  Gently, if you please; speak with respect of your husband when you are under the nose of a doctor like me.

Ang.  Ah! I should just think so, doctor! Much I care for you or your doctrine! I am a doctor myself whenever I please.

Doc.  You, a doctor when you please? A nice doctor you’d 102 make! You seem to me to do much as you like. But, I say, tell me the cause of the uproar.

Bar.  Sir, your honor ——

Doc.  You begin well: “Your honor!” This has something flattering to the ear, something full of magniloquence, this “your honor!”

Bar.  According to my will ——

Doc.  quite right. “According to my will!” The will speaks of a wish, the wish presupposes means to come to one’s end, and the end presupposes an object. Well said: “According to my will!”

Bar.  I am bursting with rage.

Doc.  Cut out this word “bursting.” It is a low, vulgar expression.

Bar.  But, doctor, listen to me, for mercy’s sake.

Doc.  Audi, quæso, Cæsar would have said.

Bar.  Seize her, or don’t seize her, you will listen to me or I will break your doctoral neck! What the devil do you mean by all this?

(LE BARBOUILLÉ, ANGÉLIQUE, GORGIBUS, CATHAU, VILLEBREQUIN all try to explain the cause of the quarrel. The DOCTOR explains that peace is a fine thing. They all talk together, and make a dreadful noise. In the midst of this, LE BARBOUILLÉ ties the DOCTOR by the legs with a rope, throws him down on his back, and drags him away. The DOCTOR goes on talking all the time, and counts all his arguments on his fingers, as if he were not on the ground.)

Gor.  Now, daughter, go back to your home and live in peace with your husband.

Vill.  Your servant. Good night.




Val.  I am extremely obliged to you, sir, for the trouble you have taken, and I promise you that in about an hour’s time I shall be at the appointed place of meeting.

La Val.  It cannot be put off so long. In a quarter of an hour the ball will be over, and you will miss the pleasure of meeting the person you love there.

Val.  Let us go together then.

(Exuent VALÈRE and LA VALLÉE.)


Ang.  While my husband is absent, I will just go round to a ball given by one of our neighbors. I shall be back before him, for he is drinking somewhere. He will not even know that I am gone out. The wretched brute always leaves me alone at home, as if I were his dog.



Bar.  I knew that I should master that beast of a doctor and his stupid doctrine. Devil take the ignorant ass! I soon brought all his science to the ground. I must now go and see if my good wife has prepared anything for my supper.



Ang.  How unlucky! I went too late; the party was over. I arrived just as everybody was leaving. But never mind, another time will do. I will go home as if nothing was the matter. Bless me! the door is locked! — Cathau! Cathau!


Bar.  (at window).  “Cathau! Cathau!” Well! what is the matter with Cathau? And where do you come from at this time of night, and in such weather?

Ang.  Where do I come from? Just open the door, and I will tell you.

Bar.  Yes, you catch me! You may go back and sleep where you came from. I’ll not open to a gadabout like you. What! alone at this time of night! I don’t know if it is fancy, but my forehead seems to me already rougher by half.

Ang.  Well, what do you mean by scolding me because I am alone? You scold me whenever I have somebody with me. What am I to do?

Bar.  Stay at home, give orders for the supper, take care of the household and of the children. But it is not use talking so much. Good-by, good night! Go to the devil, and leave me in peace!

Ang.  You won’t open to me?

Bar.  No, I will not open to you.

Ang.  Ah! my dear little husband, I beg of you open the door. Do, my darling little heart!

Bar.  Ah! crocodile! Ah! dangerous serpent! You flatter me to betray me.

Ang.  Open, do open!

Bar.  Farewell! Vade retro!

Ang.  What, you won’t open?

Bar.  No!

Ang.  You have no pity for the wife who loves you so much?

Bar.  No, I am inflexible. You have offended me; I am revengeful as the very devil! That is to say plainly that I am inexorable.

Ang.  Do you know that if you push me too far, and put 105 me in a passion, I may do something which will make you repent your unkindness?

Bar.  And what will you do, dear little vixen?

Ang.  I declare that if you do not open to me, I will kill myself before this door. My parents will no doubt come here before going to bed, to see if we are all right together; and they will find me dead, and you will be hung.

Bar.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, the silly creature! Tell me who would lose the most? Nonsense, you are not so foolish as to play such a trick.

Ang.  You don’t believe me. See, here is my knife all ready. If you do not open at once, I will pierce myself to the heart with it.

Bar.  Take care; it is very sharp.

Ang.  You won’t open to me?

Bar.  I have told you twenty times that I will not open. Kill yourself, die, go to the devil, I don’t care!

Ang.  (pretending to stab herself).  Farewell, then. Alas! I am dead.

Bar.  Can she be stupid enough to do such a thing? I must go down with a light and see.

Ang.  (aside).  I will pay you out. If I can only slip into the house while you are looking for me, it will be my turn.

(LE BARBOUILLÉ comes out, and while he is groping for her in the dark, she manages to get into the house without his observing her.)

Bar.  Well! I knew she was not so stupid as all that! She is dead, and yet she runs like Pacolet’s horse. To say the truth, she really frightened me. She did right to run away, for if I had found her alive after she had given me such a fright, m boot would have taught her not to play 106 the fool. I must go to bed now. Hullo! the wind must have shut the door to, I fear. Hi! Cathau, Cathau, open the door!

Ang.  (at the window).  “Cathau! Cathau!” Well, what is the mater with Cathau? And where do you come from, you drunkard? Well, well, my parents will soon be here, and will hear all about you. You wine-tap, you infamous wretch, you never stir from the public house, but leave a poor wife with little children waiting for you all day at home without caring whether they are in want of anything or not.

Bar.  Open the door quickly, she-devil, or I’ll break your head open!


Gor.  Why, what is it now? Still quarreling and fighting?

Vill.  What! will you never agree?

Ang.  Only just look at him! He is drunk, and returns at this time of night to make a noise and threaten to kill me.

Gor.  She is right. It is not at this hour of the night you should come home. Why can you not, like a good father of a family, come home early and live at peace with your wife?

Bar.  Deuce take me, if I left the house! Ask those gentlemen who are on the terrace there. It is she who has only just come home. Ah! how innocence is always oppressed!

Gor.  Well! Come, come, try to agree together, and ask her to forgive you.

Bar.  I ask her to forgive me! I had rather the devil flew off with her. I am in such a terrible rage, I hardly know what to do.

Gor.  Come, daughter, kiss your husband, and be friends.


DOCTOR appears in night-gear at another window.

Doc.  What! always noise, disorder, dissension, quarrels, strife, disputes, uproar, everlasting altercations! What is it? What can it be? One can get no rest.

Vill.  It is nothing, Doctor; every one is agreed.

Doc.  Ah! about being agreed, shall I read you a chapter of Aristotle, where he proves that all the different parts of the universe subsist only through the concord which exists between them?

Vill.  Will it be long?

Doc.  No, its not a bit long; only about sixty or eighty pages.

Vill.  Thanks. Good night, good night!

Gor.  You need not trouble.

Doc.  Do you wish for it?

Gor.  No.

Doc.  Good night, then — latine, bona nox.

Vill.  Let us all go and have supper together.


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