Produced by David Garcia, David Moynihan
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
* * * * *
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS.
(_THE ORIGINAL IN VERSE_.)
AUGUST 17TH, 1661.
_The Bores_ is a character-comedy; but the peculiarities taken as
the text of the play, instead of being confined to one or two of the
leading personages, are exhibited in different forms by a succession of
characters, introduced one after the other in rapid course, and
disappearing after the brief performance of their rôles. We do not find
an evolution of natural situations, proceeding from the harmonious
conduct of two or three individuals, but rather a disjointed series of
tableaux--little more than a collection of monologues strung together on
a weak thread of explanatory comments, enunciated by an unwilling
The method is less artistic, if not less natural; less productive of
situations, if capable of greater variety of illustrations. The
circumstances under which Molière undertook to compose the play explain
his resort to the weaker manner of analysis. The Superintendent-General
of finance, [Footnote: In Sir James Stephen's _Lectures on the History
of France_, vol. ii. page 22, I find: "Still further to centralize
the fiscal economy of France, Philippe le Bel created a new ministry. At
the head of it he placed an officer of high rank, entitled the
Superintendent-General of Finance, and, in subordination to him, he
appointed other officers designated as Treasurers."] Nicolas Fouquet
desiring to entertain the King, Queen, and court at his mansion of
Vaux-le-Vicomte, asked for a comedy at the hands of the Palais-Royal
company, who had discovered the secret of pleasing the Grand Monarque.
Molière had but a fortnight's notice; and he was expected, moreover, to
accommodate his muse to various prescribed styles of entertainment.
Fouquet wanted a cue for a dance by Beauchamp, for a picture by Lebrun,
for stage devices by Torelli. Molière was equal to the emergency. Never,
perhaps, was a literary work written to order so worthy of being
preserved for future generations. Not only were the intermediate ballets
made sufficiently elastic to give scope for the ingenuity of the poet's
auxiliaries, but the written scenes themselves were admirably contrived
to display all the varied talent of his troupe.
The success of the piece on its first representation, which took place
on the 17th of August, 1661, was unequivocal; and the King summoned the
author before him in order personally to express his satisfaction. It is
related that, the Marquis de Soyecourt passing by at the time, the King
said to Molière, "There is an original character which you have not yet
copied." The suggestion was enough. The result was that, at the next
representation, Dorante the hunter, a new bore, took his place in the
Louis XIV. thought he had discovered in Molière a convenient mouthpiece
for his dislikes. The selfish king was no lover of the nobility, and was
short-sighted enough not to perceive that the author's attacks on the
nobles paved the way for doubts on the divine right of kings themselves.
Hence he protected Molière, and entrusted to him the care of writing
plays for his entertainments; the public did not, however, see _The
Bores_ until the 4th of November of the same year; and then it met
with great success.
The bore is ubiquitous, on the stage as in everyday life. Horace painted
him in his famous passage commencing _Ibam forte via Sacrâ_, and the
French satirist, Regnier, has depicted him in his eighth satire.
Molière had no doubt seen the Italian farce, "_Le Case svaliggiate
ovvera gli Interrompimenti di Pantalone_," which appears to have
directly provided him with the thread of his comedy. This is the gist of
it. A girl, courted by Pantaloon, gives him a rendezvous in order to
escape from his importunities; whilst a cunning knave sends across his
path a medley of persons to delay his approach, and cause him to break
his appointment. This delay, however, is about the only point of
resemblance between the Italian play and the French comedy.
There are some passages in Scarron's _Epîtres chagrines_ addressed
to the Marshal d'Albret and M. d'Elbène, from which our author must have
derived a certain amount of inspiration; for in these epistles the
writer reviews the whole tribe of bores, in coarse but vigorous
Molière dedicated _The Bores_ to Louis XIV. in the following words:
I am adding one scene to the Comedy, and a man who dedicates a book is a
species of Bore insupportable enough. Your Majesty is better acquainted
with this than any person in the kingdom: and this is not the first time
that you have been exposed to the fury of Epistles Dedicatory. But
though I follow the example of others, and put myself in the rank of
those I have ridiculed; I dare, however, assure Your Majesty, that what
I have done in this case is not so much to present You a book, as to
have the opportunity of returning You thanks for the success of this
Comedy. I owe, Sire, that success, which exceeded my expectations, not
only to the glorious approbation with which Your Majesty honoured this
piece at first, and which attracted so powerfully that of all the world;
but also to the order, which You gave me, to add a _Bore_, of which
Yourself had the goodness to give me the idea, and which was proved by
everyone to be the finest part of the work. [Footnote: See Prefatory
Memoir, page xxviii. ?] I must confess, Sire, I never did any thing with
such ease and readiness, as that part, where I had Your Majesty's
commands to work.
The pleasure I had in obeying them, was to me more than _Apollo_
and all the _Muses_; and by this I conceive what I should be able
to execute in a complete Comedy, were I inspired by the same commands.
Those who are born in an elevated rank, may propose to themselves the
honour of serving Your Majesty in great Employments; but, for my part,
all the glory I can aspire to, is to amuse You. [Footnote: In spite of
all that has been said about Molière's passionate fondness for his
profession, I imagine he must now and then have felt some slight, or
suffered from some want of consideration. Hence perhaps the above
sentence. Compare with this Shakespeare's hundred and eleventh sonnet:
"Oh! for my sake, do you with Fortune chide
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand;
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand."]
The ambition of my wishes is confined to this; and I think that, to
contribute any thing to the diversion of her King, is, in some respects,
not to be useless to France. Should I not succeed in this, it shall
never be through want of zeal, or study; but only through a hapless
destiny, which often accompanies the best intentions, and which, to a
certainty, would be a most sensible affliction to SIRE, _Your_
MAJESTY'S _most humble, most obedient, and most faithful Servant_,
In the eighth volume of the "Select Comedies of M. de Molière, London,
1732," the play of _The Bores_ is dedicated, under the name of
_The Impertinents_, to the Right Honourable the Lord Carteret,
[Footnote: John, Lord Carteret, born 22nd April, 1690, twice
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, was Secretary of State and head of the
Ministry from February, 1742, until November 23, 1744, became Earl
Granville that same year, on the death of his mother; was president of
the Council in 1751, and died in 1763.] in the following words:
It is by Custom grown into a sort of Privilege for Writers, of
whatsoever Class, to attack Persons of Rank and Merit by these kind of
Addresses. We conceive a certain Charm in Great and Favourite Names,
which sooths our Reader, and prepossesses him in our Favour: We deem
ourselves of Consequence, according to the Distinction of our Patron;
and come in for our Share in the Reputation he bears in the World. Hence
it is, MY LORD, that Persons of the greatest Worth are most expos'd to
For however usual and convenient this may be to a Writer, it must be
confess'd, MY LORD, it may be some degree of Persecution to a
_Patron_; Dedicators, as _Molière_ observes, being a Species
of _Impertinents_, troublesome enough. Yet the Translator of this
Piece hopes he may be rank'd among the more tolerable ones, in presuming
to inscribe to Your LORDSHIP the _Facheux of Molière_ done into
_English_; assuring himself that Your LORDSHIP will not think any
thing this Author has writ unworthy of your Patronage; nor discourage
even a weaker Attempt to make him more generally read and understood.
Your LORDSHIP is well known, as an absolute Master, and generous Patron
of Polite Letters; of those Works especially which discover a Moral, as
well as Genius; and by a delicate Raillery laugh men out of their
Follies and Vices: could the Translator, therefore, of this Piece come
anything near the Original, it were assured of your Acceptance. He will
not dare to arrogate any thing to himself on this Head, before so good a
Judge as Your LORDSHIP: He hopes, however, it will appear that, where
he seems too superstitious a Follower of his Author, 'twas not because
he could not have taken more Latitude, and have given more Spirit; but
to answer what he thinks the most essential part of a Translator, to
lead the less knowing to the Letter; and after better Acquaintance,
Genius will bring them to the Spirit.
The Translator knows your LORDSHIP, and Himself too well to attempt Your
Character, even though he should think this a proper occasion: The
Scholar--the Genius--the Statesman--the Patriot--the Man of Honour and
Humanity.--Were a Piece finish'd from these Out-lines, the whole World
would agree in giving it Your LORDSHIP.
But that requires a Hand--the Person, who presents This, thinks it
sufficient to be indulg'd the Honour of subscribing himself
_My_ LORD, _Your Lordship's most devoted, most obedient, humble
Thomas Shadwell, whom Dryden flagellates in his _Mac-Flecknoe_, and
in the second part of _Absalom and Achitophel_, and whom Pope
mentions in his _Dunciad_, wrote _The Sullen Lovers, or the
Impertinents_, which was first performed in 1668 at the Duke of
York's Theatre, by their Majesties' Servants.
This play is a working up of _The Bores_ and _The
Misanthrope_, with two scenes from _The Forced Marriage_, and a
reminiscence from _The Love-Tiff_. It is dedicated to the "Thrice
Noble, High and Puissant Prince William, Duke, Marquis, and Earl of
Newcastle," because all Men, who pretend either to Sword or Pen, ought
"to shelter themselves under Your Grace's Protection." Another reason
Shadwell gives for this dedication is in order "to rescue this (play)
from the bloody Hands of the Criticks, who will not dare to use it
roughly, when they see Your Grace's Name in the beginning." He also
states, that "the first Hint I received was from the Report of a Play of
Molière's of three Acts, called _Les Fascheux_, upon which I wrote
a great part of this before I read that." He borrowed, after reading it,
the first scene in the second act, and Molière's story of Piquet, which
he translated into Backgammon, and says, "that he who makes a common
practice of stealing other men's wit, would if he could with the same
safety, steal anything else." Shadwell mentions, however, nothing of
borrowing from _The Misanthrope_ and _The Forced Marriage_.
The preface was, besides political difference, the chief cause of the
quarrel between Shadwell and Dryden; for in it the former defends Ben
Jonson against the latter, and mentions that--"I have known some of late
so insolent to say that Ben Jonson wrote his best playes without wit,
imagining that all the wit playes consisted in bringing two persons upon
the stage to break jest, and to bob one another, which they call
repartie." The original edition of _The Sullen Lovers_ is partly in
blank verse; but, in the first collected edition of Shadwell's works,
published by his son in 1720, it is printed in prose. Stanford, "a
morose, melancholy man, tormented beyond measure with the impertinence
of people, and resolved to leave the world to be quit of them" is a
combination of Alceste in _The Misanthrope_, and Éraste in _The
Bores_; Lovel, "an airy young gentleman, friend to Stanford, one that
is pleased with, and laughs at, the impertinents; and that which is the
other's torment, is his recreation," is Philinte of _The
Misanthrope_; Emilia and Carolina appear to be Célimène and Eliante;
whilst Lady Vaine is an exaggerated Arsinoé of the same play. Sir
Positive At-all, "a foolish knight that pretends to understand
everything in the world, and will suffer no man to understand anything
in his Company, so foolishly positive, that he will never be convinced
of an error, though never so gross," is a very good character, and an
epitome of all the Bores into one.
The prologue of _The Sullen Lovers_ begins thus:--
"How popular are Poets now-a-days!
Who can more Men at their first summons raise,
Than many a wealthy home-bred Gentleman,
By all his Interest in his Country can.
They raise their Friends; but in one Day arise
'Gainst one poor Poet all these Enemies."
Never was any Dramatic performance so hurried as this; and it is a
thing, I believe, quite new, to have a comedy planned, finished, got up,
and played in a fortnight. I do not say this to boast of an
_impromptu_, or to pretend to any reputation on that account: but
only to prevent certain people, who might object that I have not
introduced here all the species of Bores who are to be found. I know
that the number of them is great, both at the Court and in the City, and
that, without episodes, I might have composed a comedy of five acts and
still have had matter to spare. But in the little time allowed me, it
was impossible to execute any great design, or to study much the choice
of my characters, or the disposition of my subject. I therefore confined
myself to touching only upon a small number of Bores; and I took those
which first presented themselves to my mind, and which I thought the
best fitted for amusing the august personages before whom this play was
to appear; and, to unite all these things together speedily, I made use
of the first plot I could find. It is not, at present, my intention to
examine whether the whole might not have been better, and whether all
those who were diverted with it laughed according to rule. The time may
come when I may print my remarks upon the pieces I have written: and I
do not despair letting the world see that, like a grand author, I can
quote Aristotle and Horace. In expectation of this examination, which
perhaps may never take place, I leave the decision of this affair to the
multitude, and I look upon it as equally difficult to oppose a work
which the public approves, as it is to defend one which it condemns.
There is no one who does not know for what time of rejoicing the piece
was composed; and that _fete_ made so much noise, that it is not
necessary to speak of it [Footnote: _The Bores_, according to the
Preface, planned, finished, got up, and played in a fortnight, was acted
amidst other festivities, first at Vaux, the seat of Monsieur Fouquet,
Superintendent of Finances, the 17th of August, 1661, in the presence of
the King and the whole Court, with the exception of the Queen. Three
weeks later Fouquet was arrested, and finally condemned to be shut up in
prison, where he died in 1672. It was not till November, 1661, that
_The Bores_ was played in Paris.] but it will not be amiss to say a
word or two of the ornaments which have been mixed with the Comedy.
The design was also to give a ballet; and as there was only a small
number of first-rate dancers, it was necessary to separate the
_entrées_ [Footnote: See Prefatory Memoir, page xxx., note 12] of
this ballet, and to interpolate them with the Acts of the Play, so that
these intervals might give time to the same dancers to appear in
different dresses; also to avoid breaking the thread of the piece by
these interludes, it was deemed advisable to weave the ballet in the
best manner one could into the subject, and make but one thing of it and
the play. But as the time was exceedingly short, and the whole was not
entirely regulated by the same person, there may be found, perhaps, some
parts of the ballet which do not enter so naturally into the play as
others do. Be that as it may, this is a medley new upon our stage;
although one might find some authorities in antiquity: but as every one
thought it agreeable, it may serve as a specimen for other things which
may be concerted more at leisure.
Immediately upon the curtain rising, one of the actors, whom you may
suppose to be myself, appeared on the stage in an ordinary dress, and
addressing himself to the King, with the look of a man surprised, made
excuses in great disorder, for being there alone, and wanting both time
and actors to give his Majesty the diversion he seemed to expect; at the
same time in the midst of twenty natural cascades, a large shell was
disclosed, which every one saw: and the agreeable Naiad who appeared in
it, advanced to the front of the stage, and with an heroic air
pronounced the following verses which Mr. Pellison had made, and which
served as a Prologue.
(_The Theatre represents a garden adorned with Termini and several
fountains. A Naiad coming out of the water in a shell.)
Mortals, from Grots profound I visit you,
Gallia's great Monarch in these Scenes to view;
Shall Earth's wide Circuit, or the wider Seas,
Produce some Novel Sight your Prince to please;
Speak He, or wish: to him nought can be hard,
Whom as a living Miracle you all regard.
Fertile in Miracles, his Reign demands
Wonders at universal Nature's Hands,
Sage, young, victorious, valiant, and august,
Mild as severe, and powerful as he's just,
His Passions, and his Foes alike to foil,
And noblest Pleasures join to noblest Toil;
His righteous Projects ne'er to misapply,
Hear and see all, and act incessantly:
He who can this, can all; he needs but dare,
And Heaven in nothing will refuse his Prayer.
Let Lewis but command, these Bounds shall move,
And trees grow vocal as Dodona's Grove.
Ye Nymphs and Demi-Gods, whose Presence fills
Their sacred Trunks, come forth; so Lewis wills;
To please him be our task; I lead the way,
Quit now your ancient Forms but for a Day,
With borrow'd Shape cheat the Spectator's Eye,
And to Theatric Art yourselves apply.
(_Several Dryads, accompanied by Fawns and Satyrs, come forth out of
the Trees and Termini_.)
Hence Royal Cares, hence anxious Application,
(His fav'rite Work) to bless a happy Nation:
His lofty Mind permit him to unbend,
And to a short Diversion condescend;
The Morn shall see him with redoubled Force,
Resume the Burthen and pursue his Course,
Give Force to Laws, his Royal Bounties share,
Wisely prevent our Wishes with his Care.
Contending Lands to Union firm dispose,
And lose his own to fix the World's Repose.
But now, let all conspire to ease the Pressure
Of Royalty, by elegance of Pleasure.
Impertinents, avant; nor come in sight,
Unless to give him more supreme Delight.
[Footnote: The Naiad was represented by Madeleine Beéjart, even then
good-looking, though she was more than forty years old. The verses are
taken from the eighth volume of the "Select Comedies of M. de Molière in
French and English, London, 1732," and as fulsome as they well can be.
The English translation, which is not mine, fairly represents the
official nonsense of the original.]
(_The Naiad brings with her, for the Play, one part of the Persons she
has summoned to appear, whilst the rest begin a Dance to the sound of
Hautboys, accompanied by Violins_.)
ÉRASTE, _in love with Orphise_.
DAMIS, _guardian to Orphise_.
ALCIDOR, _a bore_.
LISANDRE, _a bore_.
ALCANDRE, _a bore_.
ALCIPPE, _a bore_.
DORANTE, _a bore_.
CARITIDÈS, _a bore_.
ORMIN, _a bore_.
FILINTE, _a bore_.
LA MONTAGNE, _servant to Éraste_.
L'ÉPINE, _servant to Damis_.
LA RIVIERE _and_ TWO COMRADES.
ORPHISE, _in love with Éraste_.
ORANTE, _a female bore_.
CLIMÈNE, _a female bore_.
* * * * *
[Footnote: Molière himself played probably the parts of Lisandre the
dancer, Alcandre the duellist, or Alcippe the gambler, and perhaps all
three, with some slight changes in the dress. He also acted Caritidès
the pedant, and Dorante the lover of the chase. In the inventory taken
after Molière's death we find: "A dress for the Marquis of the
_Fâcheux_, consisting in a pair of breeches very large, and
fastened below with ribbands, (_rhingrave_), made of common silk,
blue and gold-coloured stripes, with plenty of flesh-coloured and yellow
trimmings, with Colbertine, a doublet of Colbertine cloth trimmed with
flame-coloured ribbands, silk stockings and garters." The dress of
Caritidès in the same play, "cloak and breeches of cloth, with picked
trimmings, and a slashed doublet." Dorante's dress was probably "a
hunting-coat, sword and belt; the above-mentioned hunting-coat
ornamented with fine silver lace, also a pair of stag-hunting gloves,
and a pair of long stockings (_bas a botter_) of yellow cloth." The
original inventory, given by M. Soulié, has _toile Colbertine_, for
"Colbertine cloth." I found this word in Webster's Dictionary described
from _The Fop's Dictionary of 1690_ as "A lace resembling net-work,
the fabric of Mons. Colbert, superintendent of the French king's
manufactures." In Congreve's _The Way of the World_, Lady Wishfort,
quarrelling with her woman Foible (Act v., Scene i), says to her, among
other insults: "Go, hang out an old Frisoneer gorget, with a yard of
yellow colberteen again!"]
THE BORES (_LES FÁCHEUX._)
SCENE I.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ER. Good Heavens! under what star am I born, to be perpetually worried
by bores? It seems that fate throws them in my way everywhere; each day
I discover some new specimen. But there is nothing to equal my bore of
to-day. I thought I should never get rid of him; a hundred times I
cursed the harmless desire, which seized me at dinner time, to see the
play, where, thinking to amuse myself, I unhappily was sorely punished
for my sins. I must tell you how it happened, for I cannot yet think
about it coolly. I was on the stage,
[Footnote: It was the custom for young men of fashion to seat themselves
upon the stage (see Vol. I.. Prefatory Memoir, page 26, note 7). They
often crowded it to such an extent, that it was difficult for the actors
to move. This custom was abolished only in 1759, when the Count de
Lauraguais paid the comedians a considerable sum of money, on the
condition of not allowing any stranger upon the stage.]
in a mood to listen to the piece which I had heard praised by so many.
The actors began; everyone kept silence; when with a good deal of noise
and in a ridiculous manner, a man with large rolls entered abruptly,
crying out "Hulloa, there, a seat directly!" and, disturbing the
audience with his uproar, interrupted the play in its finest passage.
Heavens! will Frenchmen, altho' so often corrected, never behave
themselves like men of common-sense? Must we, in a public theatre, show
ourselves with our worst faults, and so confirm, by our foolish
outbursts what our neighbours everywhere say of us? Thus I spoke; and
whilst I was shrugging my shoulders, the actors attempted to continue
their parts. But the man made a fresh disturbance in seating himself,
and again crossing the stage with long strides, although he might have
been quite comfortable at the wings, he planted his chair full in front,
and, defying the audience by his broad back, hid the actors from
three-fourths of the pit. A murmur arose, at which anyone else would
have felt ashamed; but he, firm and resolute, took no notice of it, and
would have remained just as he had placed himself, if, to my misfortune,
he had not cast his eyes on me. "Ah, Marquis!" he said, taking a seat
near me, "how dost thou do? Let me embrace thee." Immediately my face
was covered with blushes that people should see I was acquainted with
such a giddy fellow. I was but slightly known to him for all that: but
so it is with these men, who assume an acquaintance on nothing, whose
embraces we are obliged to endure when we meet them, and who are so
familiar with us as to thou and thee us. He began by asking me a hundred
frivolous questions, raising his voice higher than the actors.
Everyone was cursing him; and in order to check him I said, "I should
like to listen to the play." "Hast thou not seen it, Marquis? Oh, on my
soul, I think it very funny, and I am no fool in these matters. I know
the canons of perfection, and Corneille reads to me all that he writes."
Thereupon he gave me a summary of the piece, informing me scene after
scene of what was about to happen; and when we came to any lines which
he knew by heart, he recited them aloud before the actor could say them.
It was in vain for me to resist; he continued his recitations, and
towards the end rose a good while before the rest. For these fashionable
fellows, in order to behave gallantly, especially avoid listening to the
conclusion. I thanked Heaven, and naturally thought that, with the
comedy, my misery was ended. But as though this were too good to be
expected, my gentleman fastened on me again, recounted his exploits, his
uncommon virtues, spoke of his horses, of his love-affairs, of his
influence at court, and heartily offered me his services. I politely
bowed my thanks, all the time devising some way of escape. But he,
seeing me eager to depart, said, "Let us leave; everyone is gone." And
when we were outside, he prevented my going away, by saying, "Marquis,
let us go to the Cours to show my carriage."
[Footnote: The Cours is that part of the Champs-Elysées called _le
Cours-la-Reine_; because Maria de Medici, the wife of Henry IV., had
trees planted there. As the theatre finished about seven o'clock in the
evening, it was not too late to show a carriage.]
"It is very well built, and more than one Duke and Peer has ordered a
similar one from my coach-maker." I thanked him, and the better to get
off, told him that I was about to give a little entertainment. "Ah, on
my life, I shall join it, as one of your friends, and give the go-by
to the Marshal, to whom I was engaged." "My banquet," I said, "is too
slight for gentlemen of your rank." "Nay," he replied, "I am a man of
no ceremony, and I go simply to have a chat with thee; I vow, I am tired
of grand entertainments." "But if you are expected, you will give
offence, if you stay away." "Thou art joking, Marquis! We all know each
other; I pass my time with thee much more pleasantly." I was chiding
myself, sad and perplexed at heart at the unlucky result of my
excuse, and knew not what to do next to get rid of such a mortal
annoyance, when a splendidly built coach, crowded with footmen before
and behind, stopped in front of us with a great clatter; from which
leaped forth a young man gorgeously dressed; and my bore and he,
hastening to embrace each other, surprised the passers-by with their
furious encounter. Whilst both were plunged in these fits of civilities,
I quietly made my exit without a word; not before I had long groaned
under such a martyrdom, cursing this bore whose obstinate persistence
kept me from the appointment which had been made with me here.
LA M. These annoyances are mingled with the pleasures of life. All goes
not, sir, exactly as we wish it. Heaven wills that here below everyone
should meet bores; without that, men would be too happy.
ER. But of all my bores the greatest is Damis, guardian of her whom I
adore, who dashes every hope she raises, and has brought it to pass that
she dares not see me in his presence. I fear I have already passed the
hour agreed on; it is in this walk that Orphise promised to be.
LA M. The time of an appointment has generally some latitude, and is not
limited to a second.
ER. True; but I tremble; my great passion makes out of nothing a crime
against her whom I love.
LA M. If this perfect love, which you manifest so well, makes out of
nothing a great crime against her whom you love; the pure flame which
her heart feels for you on the other hand converts all your crimes into
ER. But, in good earnest, do you believe that I am loved by her?
LA M. What! do you still doubt a love that has been tried?
ER. Ah, it is with difficulty that a heart that truly loves has complete
confidence in such a matter. It fears to flatter itself; and, amidst its
various cares, what it most wishes is what it least believes. But let us
endeavour to discover the delightful creature.
LA M. Sir, your necktie is loosened in front.
ER. No matter.
LA M. Let me adjust it, if you please.
ER. Ugh, you are choking me, blockhead; let it be as it is.
LA M. Let me just comb...
ER. Was there ever such stupidity! You have almost taken off my ear with
a tooth of the comb.
[Footnote: The servants had always a comb about them to arrange the wigs
of their masters, whilst the latter thought it fashionable to comb and
arrange their hair in public (see _The Pretentious Young Ladies_).]
LA M. Your rolls...
ER. Leave them; you are too particular.
LA M. They are quite rumpled.
ER. I wish them to be so.
LA M. At least allow me, as a special favour, to brush your hat,
which is covered with dust.
ER. Brush, then, since it must be so.
LA M. Will you wear it like that?
ER. Good Heavens, make haste!
LA M. It would be a shame.
ER. _(After waiting_). That is enough.
LA M. Have a little patience.
ER. He will be the death of me!
LA M. Where could you get all this dirt?
ER. Do you intend to keep that hat forever?
LA M. It is finished.
ER. Give it me, then.
LA M. (_Letting the hat fall_). Ah!
ER. There it is on the ground. I am not much the better for all your
brushing! Plague take you!
LA M. Let me give it a couple of rubs to take off...
ER. You shall not. The deuce take every servant who dogs your heels, who
wearies his master, and does nothing but annoy him by wanting to set
himself up as indispensable!
SCENE II.--ORPHISE, ALCIDOR, ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
(_Orphise passes at the foot of the stage; Alcidor holds her hand._)
ER. But do I not see Orphise? Yes, it is she who comes. Whither goeth
she so fast, and what man is that who holds her hand? (_He bows to her
as she passes, and she turns her head another way_).
SCENE III.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ER. What! She sees me here before her, and she passes by, pretending not
to know me! What can I think? What do you say? Speak if you will.
LA M. Sir, I say nothing, lest I bore you.
ER. And so indeed you do, if you say nothing to me whilst I suffer such
a cruel martyrdom. Give me some answer; I am quite dejected. What am I
to think? Say, what do you think of it? Tell me your opinion.
LA M. Sir, I desire to hold my tongue, and not to set up for being
ER. Hang the impertinent fellow! Go and follow them; see what becomes of
them, and do not quit them.
LA M. (_Returning_). Shall I follow at a distance?
LA M. (_Returning_). Without their seeing me, or letting it appear
that I was sent after them?
ER. No, you will do much better to let them know that you follow them by
my express orders.
LA M. (_Returning_). Shall I find you here?
ER. Plague take you. I declare you are the biggest bore in the world!
SCENE IV.--ÉRASTE, _alone_.
Ah, how anxious I feel; how I wish I had missed this fatal appointment!
I thought I should find everything favourable; and, instead of that, my
heart is tortured.
SCENE V.--LISANDRE, ÉRASTE.
LIS. I recognized you under these trees from a distance, dear Marquis;
and I came to you at once. As one of my friends, I must sing you a
certain air which I have made for a little Couranto, which pleases all
the connoisseurs at court, and to which more than a score have already
[Footnote: See Vol. I., page 164, note 14.]
I have wealth, birth, a tolerable employment, and am of some consequence
in France; but I would not have failed, for all I am worth, to compose
this air which I am going to let you hear. (_He tries his voice_).
La, la; hum, hum; listen attentively, I beg. (_he sings an air of a
Couranto_). Is it not fine?
LIS. This close is pretty. (_He sings the close over again four or
five times successively_). How do you like it?
ER. Very fine, indeed.
LIS. The steps which I have arranged are no less pleasing, and the
figure in particular is wonderfully graceful. (_He sings the words,
talks, and dances at the same time; and makes Éraste perform the lady's
steps_). Stay, the gen-man crosses thus; then the lady crosses again:
together: then they separate, and the lady comes there. Do you observe
that little touch of a faint? This fleuret? These coupés running after
the fair one.
[Footnote: A fleuret was an old step in dancing formed of two half
coupées and two steps on the point of the toes.]
[Footnote: A coupé is a movement in dancing, when one leg is a little
bent, and raised from the ground, and with the other a motion is made
Back to back: face to face, pressing up close to her. (_After
finishing_). What do you think of it, Marquis?
ER. All those steps are fine.
LIS. For my part, I would not give a fig for your ballet-masters.
LIS. And the steps then?
ER. Are wonderful in every particular.
LIS. Shall I teach you them, for friendship's sake?
ER. To tell the truth, just now I am somewhat disturbed ....
LIS. Well, then, it shall be when you please. If I had those new words
about me, we would read them together, and see which were the prettiest.
ER. Another time.
LIS. Farewell. My dearest Baptiste has not seen my Couranto; I am going
to look for him. We always agree about the tunes; I shall ask him to
(_Exit, still singing_.)
[Footnote: Jean Baptiste Lulli had been appointed, in the month of May
of 1661, the same year that _The Bores_ was first played,
_Surintendant et Compositeur de la musique de la chambre du Roi_.]
SCENE VI.--ÉRASTE, _alone_.
Heavens! must we be compelled daily to endure a hundred fools, because
they are men of rank, and must we, in our politeness, demean ourselves
so often to applaud, when they annoy us?
SCENE VII.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
LA M. Sir, Orphise is alone, and is coming this way.
ER. Ah, I feel myself greatly disturbed! I still love the cruel fair
one, and my reason bids me hate her.
LA M. Sir, your reason knows not what it would be at, nor yet what power
a mistress has over a man's heart. Whatever just cause we may have to be
angry with a fair lady, she can set many things to rights by a single
ER. Alas, I must confess it; the sight of her inspires me with respect
instead of with anger.
SCENE VIII.--ORPHISE, ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ORPH. Your countenance seems to me anything but cheerful. Can it be my
presence, Éraste, which annoys you? What is the matter? What is amiss?
What makes you heave those sighs at my appearance?
ER. Alas! can you ask me, cruel one, what makes me so sad, and what will
kill me? Is it not malicious to feign ignorance of what you have done to
me? The gentleman whose conversation made you pass me just now...
ORPH. (_Laughing_). Does that disturb you?
ER. Do, cruel one, anew insult my misfortune. Certainly, it ill becomes
you to jeer at my grief, and, by outraging my feelings, ungrateful
woman, to take advantage of my weakness for you.
ORPH. I really must laugh, and declare that you are very silly to
trouble yourself thus. The man of whom you speak, far from being able to
please me, is a bore of whom I have succeeded in ridding myself; one of
those troublesome and officious fools who will not suffer a lady to be
anywhere alone, but come up at once, with soft speech, offering you a
hand against which one rebels. I pretended to be going away, in order to
hide my intention, and he gave me his hand as far as my coach. I soon
got rid of him in that way, and returned by another gate to come to you.
ER. Orphise, can I believe what you say? And is your heart really true
ORPH. You are most kind to speak thus, when I justify myself against
your frivolous complaints. I am still wonderfully simple, and my foolish
ER. Ah! too severe beauty, do not be angry. Being under your sway, I
will implicitly believe whatever you are kind enough to tell me. Deceive
your hapless lover if you will; I shall respect you to the last gasp.
Abuse my love, refuse me yours, show me another lover triumphant; yes, I
will endure everything for your divine charms. I shall die, but even
then I will not complain.
ORPH. As such sentiments rule your heart, I shall know, on my side ...
SCENE IX.--ALCANDRE, ORPHISE, ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ALC. (_To Orphise_). Marquis, one word. Madame, I pray you to
pardon me, if I am indiscreet in venturing, before you, to speak with
him privately. (_Exit Orphise_).
SCENE X.--ALCANDRE, ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ALC. I have a difficulty, Marquis, in making my request; but a fellow
has just insulted me, and I earnestly wish, not to be behind-hand with
him, that you would at once go and carry him a challenge from me. You
know that in a like case I should joyfully repay you in the same coin.
ER. (_After a brief silence_). I have no desire to boast, but I was
a soldier before I was a courtier. I served fourteen years, and I think
I may fairly refrain from such a step with propriety, not fearing that
the refusal of my sword can be imputed to cowardice. A duel puts one in
an awkward light, and our King is not the mere shadow of a monarch. He
knows how to make the highest in the state obey him, and I think that he
acts like a wise Prince. When he needs my service, I have courage enough
to perform it; but I have none to displease him. His commands are a
supreme law to me; seek some one else to disobey him. I speak to you,
Viscount, with entire frankness; in every other matter I am at your
[Footnote: During his long reign, Louis XIV. tried to put a stop to
duelling; and, though he did not wholly succeed, he prevented the
seconds from participating in the fight,--a custom very general before
his rule, and to which Éraste alludes in saying that he does not "fear
that the refusal of his (my) sword can be imputed to cowardice."]
SCENE XI.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ER. To the deuce with these bores, fifty times over! Where, now, has my
beloved gone to?
LA M. I know not.
ER. Go and search everywhere till you find her. I shall await you in
BALLET TO ACT I.
Players at Mall, crying out "Ware!" compel Éraste to draw back. After
the players at Mall have finished, Éraste returns to wait for Orphise.
Inquisitive folk advance, turning round him to see who he is, and cause
him again to retire for a little while.
* * * * *
SCENE I.--ÉRASTE, _alone_.
Are the bores gone at last? I think they rain here on every side. The
more I flee from them, the more I light on them; and to add to my
uneasiness, I cannot find her whom I wish to find. The thunder and rain
have soon passed over, and have not dispersed the fashionable company.
Would to Heaven that those gifts which it showered upon us, had driven
away all the people who weary me! The sun sinks fast; I am surprised
that my servant has not yet returned.
SCENE II.--ALCIPPE, ÉRASTE.
ALC. Good day to you.
ER. (_Aside_). How now! Is my passion always to be turned aside?
ALC. Console me, Marquis, in respect of a wonderful game of piquet which
I lost yesterday to a certain Saint-Bouvain, to whom I could have given
fifteen points and the deal. It was a desperate blow, which has been too
much for me since yesterday, and would make me wish all players at the
deuce; a blow, I assure you, enough to make me hang myself in public.--I
wanted only two tricks, whilst the other wanted a piquet. I dealt, he
takes six, and asks for another deal. I, having a little of everything,
refuse. I had the ace of clubs (fancy my bad luck!) the ace, king,
knave, ten and eight of hearts, and as I wanted to make the point, threw
away king and queen of diamonds, ten and queen of spades. I had five
hearts in hand, and took up the queen, which just made me a high
sequence of five. But my gentleman, to my extreme surprise, lays down on
the table a sequence of six low diamonds, together with the ace. I had
thrown away king and queen of the same colour. But as he wanted a
piquet, I got the better of my fear, and was confident at least of
making two tricks. Besides the seven diamonds he had four spades, and
playing the smallest of them, put me in the predicament of not knowing
which of my two aces to keep. I threw away, rightly as I thought, the
ace of hearts; but he had discarded four clubs, and I found myself made
_Capot_ by a six of hearts, unable, from sheer vexation, to say a
[Footnote: In the seventeenth century, piquet was not played with
thirty-two, but with thirty-six, cards; the sixes, which are now thrown
away, remained then in the pack. Every player received twelve cards, and
twelve remained on the table. He who had to play first could throw away
seven or eight cards, the dealer four or five, and both might take fresh
ones from those that were on the table. A trick counted only when taken
with one of the court-cards, or a ten.
Saint-Bouvain, after having taken up his cards, had in hand six small
diamonds with the ace, which counted 7, a sequence of six diamonds from
the six to the knave counted 16, thus together 23, before he began to
play. With his seven diamonds he made seven tricks, but only counted 3,
for those made by the ace, knave, and ten; this gave him 26. Besides his
seven diamonds he had four spades, most likely the ace, king, knave, and
a little one, and a six of hearts; though he made all the tricks he only
counted 3, which gave him 29. But as Alcippe had not made a single
trick, he was _capot_, which gave Saint-Bouvain 40; this with the
29 he made before, brought the total up to 69. As the latter only wanted
a _piquet_, that is 60,--which is when a player makes thirty in a
game, to which an additional thirty are then added, Saint-Bouvain won
the game. Alcippe does not, however, state what other cards he had in
his hand at the moment the play began besides the ace of clubs and a
high sequence of five hearts, as well as the eight of the same colour.]
By Heaven, account to me for this frightful piece of luck. Could it be
credited, without having seen it?
[Footnote: Compare with Molière's description of the game of piquet
Pope's poetical history of the game of Ombre in the third Canto of
_The Rape of the Lock._]
ER. It is in play that luck is mostly seen.
ALC. 'Sdeath, you shall judge for yourself if I am wrong, and if it is
without cause that this accident enrages me. For here are our two hands,
which I carry about me on purpose. Stay, here is my hand, as I told you;
and here ...
ER. I understood everything from your description, and admit that you
have a good cause to be enraged. But I must leave you on certain
business. Farewell. But take comfort in your misfortune.
ALC. Who; I? I shall always have that luck on my mind; it is worse than
a thunderbolt to me. I mean to shew it to all the world. (_He retires
and on the point of returning, says meditatively_) A six of hearts!
ER. Where in the world are we? Go where we will, we see nothing but
SCENE III.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ER. Ha! how long you have been, and how you have made me suffer.
LA M. Sir, I could not make greater haste.
ER. But at length do you bring me some news?
LA M. Doubtless; and by express command, from her you love, I have
something to tell you.
ER. What? Already my heart yearns for the message. Speak!
LA M. Do you wish to know what it is?
ER. Yes; speak quickly.
LA M. Sir, pray wait. I have almost run myself out of breath.
ER. Do you find any pleasure in keeping me in suspense?
LA M. Since you wish to know at once the orders which I have received
from this charming person, I will tell you.... Upon my word, without
boasting of my zeal, I went a great way to find the lady; and if...
ER. Hang your digressions!
LA M. Fie! you should somewhat moderate your passion; and Seneca...
ER. Seneca is a fool in your mouth, since he tells me nothing of all
that concerns me. Tell me your message at once.
LA M. To satisfy you, Orphise ... An insect has got among your hair.
ER. Let it alone.
LA M. This lovely one sends you word ...
LA M. Guess.
ER. Are you aware that I am in no laughing mood?
LA M. Her message is, that you are to remain in this place, that in a
short time you shall see her here, when she has got rid of some
country-ladies, who greatly bore all people at court.
ER. Let us, then stay in the place she has selected. But since this
message affords me some leisure, let me muse a little. (_Exit La
Montagne_). I propose to write for her some verses to an air which I
know she likes.
(_He walks up and down the stage in a reverie_).
SCENE IV.--ORANTE, CLIMÈNE, ÉRASTE (_at the side of the stage, unseen_.)
OR. Everyone will be of my opinion.
CL. Do you think you will carry your point by obstinacy?
OR. I think my reasons better than yours.
CL. I wish some one could hear both.
OR. I see a gentleman here who is not ignorant; he will be able to judge
of our dispute. Marquis, a word, I beg of you. Allow us to ask you to
decide in a quarrel between us two; we had a discussion arising from our
different opinions, as to what may distinguish the most perfect lovers.
ER. That is a question difficult to settle; you had best look for a more
OR. No: you speak to no purpose. Your wit is much commended; and we know
you. We know that everyone, with justice, gives you the character of a...
ER. Oh, I beseech you ...
OR. In a word, you shall be our umpire, and you must spare us a couple
CL. (_To Orante_). Now you are retaining one who must condemn you:
for, to be brief, if what I venture to hold be true, this gentleman will
give the victory to my arguments.
ER. (_Aside_). Would that I could get hold of any rascal to invent
something to get me off!
OR. (_To Climène_). For my part, I am too much assured of his sense
to fear that he will decide against me. (_To Éraste_). Well, this
great contest which rages between us is to know whether a lover should
CL. Or, the better to explain my opinion and yours, which ought to
please most, a jealous man or one that is not so?
OR. For my part, I am clearly for the last.
CL. As for me, I stand up for the first.
OR. I believe that our heart must declare for him who best displays
CL. And I that, if our sentiments are to be shewn, it ought to be for
him who makes his love most apparent.
OR. Yes; but we perceive the ardour of a lover much better through
respect than through jealousy.
CL. It is my opinion that he who is attached to us, loves us the more
that he shows himself jealous?
OR. Fie, Climène, do not call lovers those men whose love is like
hatred, and who, instead of showing their respect and their ardour, give
themselves no thought save how to become wearisome; whose minds, being
ever prompted by some gloomy passion, seek to make a crime out of the
slightest actions, are too blind to believe them innocent, and demand an
explanation for a glance; who, if we seem a little sad, at once complain
that their presence is the cause of it, and when the least joy sparkles
in our eyes, will have their rivals to be at the bottom of it; who, in
short, assuming a right because they are greatly in love, never speak to
us save to pick a quarrel, dare to forbid anyone to approach us, and
become the tyrants of their very conquerors. As for me, I want lovers to
be respectful; their submission is a sure proof of our sway.
CL. Fie, do not call those men true lovers who are never violent in
their passion; those lukewarm gallants, whose tranquil hearts already
think everything quite sure, have no fear of losing us, and
overweeningly suffer their love to slumber day by day, are on good terms
with their rivals, and leave a free field for their perseverance. So
sedate a love incites my anger; to be without jealousy is to love
coldly. I would that a lover, in order to prove his flame, should have
his mind shaken by eternal suspicions, and, by sudden outbursts, show
clearly the value he sets upon her to whose hand he aspires. Then his
restlessness is applauded; and, if he sometimes treats us a little
roughly, the pleasure of seeing him, penitent at our feet, to excuse
himself for the outbreak of which he has been guilty, his tears, his
despair at having been capable of displeasing us, are a charm to soothe
all our anger.
OR. If much violence is necessary to please you, I know who would
satisfy you; I am acquainted with several men in Paris who love well
enough to beat their fair ones openly.
CL. If to please you, there must never be jealousy, I know several men
just suited to you; lovers of such enduring mood that they would see you
in the arms of thirty people without being concerned about it.
OR. And now you must, by your sentence, declare whose love appears to
(_Orphise appears at the back of the stage, and sees Éraste between
Orante and Climène_).
ER. Since I cannot avoid giving judgment, I mean to satisfy you both at
once; and, in order, not to blame that which is pleasing in your eyes,
the jealous man loves more, but the other loves wisely.
CL. The judgment is very judicious; but...
ER. It is enough. I have finished. After what I have said permit me to
SCENE V.--ORPHISE, ÉRASTE.
ER. (_Seeing Orphise, and going to meet her_). How long you have
been, Madam, and how I suffer ...
ORPH. Nay, nay, do not leave such a pleasant conversation. You are wrong
to blame me for having arrived too late. (_Pointing to Orante and
Climène, who have just left_). You had wherewithal to get on without
ER. Will you be angry with me without reason, and reproach me with what
I am made to suffer? Oh, I beseech you, stay ...
ORPH. Leave me, I beg, and hasten to rejoin your company.
SCENE VI.--ÉRASTE, _alone_.
Heaven! must bores of both sexes conspire this day to frustrate my
dearest wishes? But let me follow her in spite of her resistance, and
make my innocence clear in her eyes.
SCENE VII.--DORANTE, ÉRASTE.
DOR. Ah, Marquis, continually we find tedious people interrupting the
course of our pleasures! You see me enraged on account of a splendid
hunt, which a booby ... It is a story I must relate to you.
ER. I am looking for some one, and cannot stay.
DOR. (_Retaining him_). Egad, I shall tell it you as we go along.
We were a well selected company who met yesterday to hunt a stag; on
purpose we went to sleep on the ground itself--that is, my dear sir, far
away in the forest. As the chase is my greatest pleasure, I wished, to
do the thing well, to go to the wood myself; we decided to concentrate
our efforts upon a stag which every one said was seven years old.
[Footnote: The original expression is _cerf dix-corps_; this,
according to the _dictionnaire de chasse_, is a seven years' old
But my own opinion was--though I did not stop to observe the marks--that
it was only a stag of the second year.
[Footnote: The technical term is: "a knobbler;" in French, _un cerf à
sa seconde tête.]
We had separated, as was necessary, into different parties, and were
hastily breakfasting on some new-laid eggs, when a regular
country-gentleman, with a long sword, proudly mounted on his brood-mare,
which he honoured with the name of his good mare, came up to pay us an
awkward compliment, presenting to us at the same time, to increase our
vexation, a great booby of a son, as stupid as his father. He styled
himself a great sportsman, and begged that he might have the pleasure of
accompanying us. Heaven preserve every sensible sportsman, when hunting,
from a fellow who carries a dog's horn, which sounds when it ought not;
from those gentry who, followed by ten mangy dogs, call them "my pack,"
and play the part of wonderful hunters. His request granted, and his
knowledge commended, we all of us started the deer,
[Footnote: The original has _frapper à nos brisées_; _brisées_
means "blinks." According to Dr. Ash's Dictionary, 1775, "Blinks are the
boughs or branches thrown in the way of a deer to stop its course."]
within thrice the length of the leash, tally-ho! the dogs were put on
the track of the stag. I encouraged them, and blew a loud blast. My stag
emerged from the wood, and crossed a pretty wide plain, the dogs after
him, but in such good order that you could have covered them all with
one cloak. He made for the forest. Then we slipped the old pick upon
him; I quickly brought out my sorrel-horse. You have seen him?
ER. I think not.
DOR. Not seen him? The animal is as good as he is beautiful; I bought
him some days ago from Gaveau.
[Footnote: A well-known horse-dealer in Molière's time.]
I leave you to think whether that dealer, who has such a respect for me,
would deceive me in such a matter; I am satisfied with the horse. He
never indeed sold a better, or a better-shaped one. The head of a barb,
with a clear star; the neck of a swan, slender, and very straight; no
more shoulder than a hare; short-jointed, and full of vivacity in his
motion. Such feet--by Heaven! such feet!--double-haunched: to tell you
the truth, it was I alone who found the way to break him in. Gaveau's
Little John never mounted him without trembling, though he did his best
to look unconcerned. A back that beats any horse's for breadth; and
legs! O ye Heavens!
[Footnote: Compare the description of the horse given by the Dauphin in
Shakespeare's Henry V., Act iii., Scene 6, and also that of the "round
hoof'd, short jointed" jennet in the _Venus and Adonis_ of the same
In short, he is a marvel; believe me, I have refused a hundred pistoles
for him, with one of the horses destined for the King to boot. I then
mounted, and was in high spirits to see some of the hounds coursing over
the plain to get the better of the deer. I pressed on, and found myself
in a by-thicket at the heels of the dogs, with none else but Drecar.
[Footnote: A famous huntsman in Molière's time.]
There for an hour our stag was at bay. Upon this, I cheered on the dogs,
and made a terrible row. In short, no hunter was ever more delighted! I
alone started him again; and all was going on swimmingly, when a young
stag joined ours. Some of my dogs left the others. Marquis, I saw them,
as you may suppose, follow with hesitation, and Finaut was at a loss.
But he suddenly turned, which delighted me very much, and drew the dogs
the right way, whilst I sounded horn and hallooed, "Finaut! Finaut!" I
again with pleasure discovered the track of the deer by a mole-hill, and
blew away at my leisure. A few dogs ran back to me, when, as ill-luck
would have it, the young stag came over to our country bumpkin. My
blunderer began blowing like mad, and bellowed aloud, "Tallyho! tallyho!
tallyho!" All my dogs left me, and made for my booby. I hastened there,
and found the track again on the highroad. But, my dear fellow, I had
scarcely cast my eyes on the ground, when I discovered it was the other
animal, and was very much annoyed at it. It was in vain to point out to
the country fellow the difference between the print of my stag's hoof
and his. He still maintained, like an ignorant sportsman, that this was
the pack's stag; and by this disagreement he gave the dogs time to get a
great way off. I was in a rage, and, heartily cursing the fellow, I
spurred my horse up hill and down dale, and brushed through boughs as
thick as my arm. I brought back my dogs to my first scent, who set off,
to my great joy, in search of our stag, as though he were in full view.
They started him again; but, did ever such an accident happen? To tell
you the truth, Marquis, it floored me. Our stag, newly started, passed
our bumpkin, who, thinking to show what an admirable sportsman he was,
shot him just in the forehead with a horse-pistol that he had brought
with him, and cried out to me from a distance, "Ah! I've brought the
beast down!" Good Heavens! did any one ever hear of pistols in
stag-hunting? As for me, when I came to the spot, I found the whole
affair so odd, that I put spurs to my horse in a rage, and returned home
at a gallop, without saying a single word to that ignorant fool.
ER. You could not have done better; your prudence was admirable. That is
how we must get rid of bores. Farewell.
DOR. When you like, we will go somewhere where we need not dread
ER. (_Alone_). Very well. I think I shall lose patience in the end.
Let me make all haste, and try to excuse myself.
BALLET TO ACT II.
Bowlers stop Éraste to measure a distance about which there is a
dispute. He gets clear of them with difficulty, and leaves them to dance
a measure, composed of all the postures usual to that game.
Little boys with slings enter and interrupt them, who are in their turn
driven out by
Cobblers, men and women, their fathers, and others, who are also driven
out in their turn.
A gardener, who dances alone, and then retires.
* * * * *
SCENE I.--ÉRASTE, LA MONTAGNE.
ER. It is true that on the one hand my efforts have succeeded; the
object of my love is at length appeased. But on the other hand I am
wearied, and the cruel stars have persecuted my passion with double
fury. Yes, Damis, her guardian, the worst of bores, is again hostile to
my tenderest desires, has forbidden me to see his lovely niece, and
wishes to provide her to-morrow with another husband. Yet Orphise, in
spite of his refusal, deigns to grant me this evening a favour; I have
prevailed upon the fair one to suffer me to see her in her own house, in
private. Love prefers above all secret favours; it finds a pleasure in
the obstacle which it masters; the slightest conversation with the
beloved beauty becomes, when it is forbidden, a supreme favour. I am
going to the rendezvous; it is almost the hour; since I wish to be there
rather before than after my time.
LA M. Shall I follow you?
ER. No. I fear least you should make me known to certain suspicious persons.
LA M. But ....
ER. I do not desire it.
LA M. I must obey you. But at least, if at a distance....
ER. For the twentieth time will you hold your tongue? And will you never
give up this practice of perpetually making yourself a troublesome
SCENE II.--CARITIDÈS; ÉRASTE.
CAR. Sir, it is an unseasonable time to do myself the honour of waiting
upon you; morning would be more fit for performing such a duty, but it
is not very easy to meet you, for you are always asleep, or in town. At
least your servants so assure me. I have chosen this opportunity to see
you. And yet this is a great happiness with which fortune favours me,
for a couple of moments later I should have missed you.
ER. Sir, do you desire something of me?
CAR. I acquit myself, sir, of what I owe you; and come to you ... Excuse
the boldness which inspires me, if...
ER. Without so much ceremony, what have you to say to me?
CAR. As the rank, wit, and generosity which every one extols in you...
ER. Yes, I am very much extolled. Never mind that, sir.
CAR. Sir, it is a vast difficulty when a man has to introduce himself;
we should always be presented to the great by people who commend us in
words, whose voice, being listened to, delivers with authority what may
cause our slender merit to be known. In short, I could have wished that
some persons well-informed could have told you, sir, what I am...
ER. I see sufficiently, sir, what you are. Your manner of accosting me
makes that clear.
CAR. Yes, I am a man of learning charmed by your worth; not one of those
learned men whose name ends simply in _us_. Nothing is so common as
a name with a Latin termination. Those we dress in Greek have a much
superior look; and in order to have one ending in _ès_, I call
myself Mr. Caritidès.
ER. Caritidès be it. What have you to say?
CAR. I wish, sir, to read you a petition, which I venture to beg of you
to present to the King, as your position enables you to do.
ER. Why, sir, you can present it yourself! ...
CAR. It is true that the King grants that supreme favour; but, from the
very excess of his rare kindness, so many villainous petitions, sir, are
presented that they choke the good ones; the hope I entertain is that
mine should be presented when his Majesty is alone.
ER. Well, you can do it, and choose your own time.
CAR. Ah, sir, the door-keepers are such terrible fellows! They treat men
of learning like snobbs and butts; I can never get beyond the
guard-room. The ill-treatment I am compelled to suffer would make me
withdraw from court for ever, if I had not conceived the certain hope
that you will be my Mecaeænas with the King. Yes, your influence is to
me a certain means ...
ER. Well, then, give it me; I will present it.
CAR. Here it is. But at least, hear it read.
ER. No ...
CAR. That you may be acquainted with it, sir, I beg.
"TO THE KING.
"_Sire,--Your most humble, most obedient, most faithful and most
learned subject and servant, Caritidès, a Frenchman by birth, a
[Footnote: The original has _Grec_, a Greek. Can Caritidès have
wished to allude to the _græaca fides_? _Grec_ means also a
cheat at cards, and is said to owe its name to a certain Apoulos, a
knight of Greek origin, who was caught in the very act of cheating at
play in the latter days of Louis XIV.'s reign, even in the palace of the
_by profession, having considered the great and notable abuses which
are perpetrated in the inscriptions on the signs of houses, shops,
taverns, bowling-alleys, and other places in your good city of Paris;
inasmuch as certain ignorant composers of the said inscriptions subvert,
by a barbarous, pernicious and hateful spelling, every kind of sense and
reason, without any regard for etymology, analogy, energy or allegory
whatsoever, to the great scandal of the republic of letters, and of the
French nation, which is degraded and dishonoured, by the said abuses and
gross faults, in the eyes of strangers, and notably of the Germans,
curious readers and inspectors of the said inscriptions..."
[Footnote: This is an allusion either to the reputation of the Germans
as great drinkers, or as learned decipherers of all kinds of
ER. This petition is very long, and may very likely weary...
CAR. Ah, sir, not a word could be cut out.
ER. Finish quickly.
CAR. (Continuing). "_Humbly petitions your Majesty to constitute, for
the good of his state and the glory of his realm, an office of
controller, supervisor, corrector, reviser and restorer in general of
the said inscriptions; and with this office to honour your suppliant, as
well in consideration of his rare and eminent erudition, as of the great
and signal services which he has rendered to the state and to your
Majesty, by making the anagram of your said Majesty in French, Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldean, Arabic_..."
ER. (_Interrupting him_). Very good. Give it me quickly and retire:
it shall be seen by the King; the thing is as good as done.
CAR. Alas! sir, to show my petition is everything. If the King but see
it, I am sure of my point; for as his justice is great in all things, he
will never be able to refuse my prayer. For the rest, to raise your fame
to the skies, give me your name and surname in writing, and I will make
a poem, in which the first letters of your name shall appear at both
ends of the lines, and in each half measure.
ER. Yes, you shall have it to-morrow, Mr. Caritidès. (_Alone_).
Upon my word, such learned men are perfect asses. Another time I should
have heartily laughed at his folly.
SCENE III.--ORMIN, ÉRASTE.
ORM. Though a matter of great consequence brings me here, I wished that
man to leave before speaking to you.
ER. Very well. But make haste; for I wish to be gone.
ORM. I almost fancy that the man who has just left you has vastly
annoyed you, sir, by his visit. He is a troublesome old man whose mind
is not quite right, and for whom I have always some excuse ready to get
rid of him. On the Mall, in the Luxembourg,
[Footnote: The Mall was a promenade in Paris, shaded by trees, near the
[Footnote: The Luxembourg was in Molière's time the most fashionable
promenade of Paris.]
and in the Tuileries he wearies people with his fancies; men like you
should avoid the conversation of all those good-for-nothing pedants.
For my part I have no fear of troubling you, since I am come, sir, to
make your fortune.
ER. (_Aside_). This is some alchymist: one of those creatures who
have nothing, and are always promising you ever so much riches.
(_Aloud_). Have you discovered that blessed stone, sir, which alone
can enrich all the kings of the earth?
ORM. Aha! what a funny idea! Heaven forbid, sir, that I should be one of
those fools. I do not foster idle dreams; I bring you here sound words
of advice which I would communicate, through you, to the King, and which
I always carry about me, sealed up. None of those silly plans and vain
chimeras which are dinned in the ears of our superintendents;
[Footnote: This is an allusion to the giver of the feast, Mons. Fouquet,
_surintendant des finances_. See also page 299, note I.]
none of your beggarly schemes which rise to no more than twenty or
thirty millions; but one which, at the lowest reckoning, will give the
King a round four hundred millions yearly, with ease, without risk or
suspicion, without oppressing the nation in any way. In short, it is a
scheme for an inconceivable profit, which will be found feasible at the
first explanation. Yes, if only through you I can be encouraged ...
ER. Well, we will talk of it. I am rather in a hurry.
ORM. If you will promise to keep it secret, I will unfold to you this
ER. No, no; I do not wish to know your secret.
ORM. Sir, I believe you are too discreet to divulge it, and I wish to
communicate it to you frankly, in two words. I must see that none can
hear us. (_After seeing that no one is listening, he approaches
Eraste's ear_). This marvellous plan, of which I am the inventor, is...
ER. A little farther off, sir, for a certain reason.
ORM. You know, without any need of my telling you, the great profit
which the King yearly receives from his seaports. Well, the plan of
which no one has yet thought, and which is an easy matter, is to make
all the coasts of France into famous ports. This would amount to vast
sums; and if ...
ER. The scheme is good, and will greatly please the King. Farewell. We
shall see each other again.
ORM. At all events assist me, for you are the first to whom I have
spoken of it.
ER. Yes, yes.
ORM. If you would lend me a couple of pistoles, you could repay yourself
out of the profits of the scheme ....
ER. (_Gives money to Ormin_). Gladly. (_Alone_). Would to
Heaven, that at such a price I could get rid of all who trouble me! How
ill-timed their visit is! At last I think I may go. Will any one else
come to detain me?
SCENE IV.--FILINTE, ÉRASTE.
FIL. Marquis, I have just heard strange tidings.
FIL. That some one has just now quarrelled with you.
ER. With me?
FIL. What is the use of dissimulation? I know on good authority that you
have been called out; and, as your friend, I come, at all events, to
offer you my services against all mankind.
ER. I am obliged to you; but believe me you do me....
FIL. You will not admit it; but you are going out without attendants.
Stay in town, or go into the country, you shall go nowhere without my
ER. (_Aside_). Oh, I shall go mad.
FIL. Where is the use of hiding from me?
ER. I swear to you, Marquis, that you have been deceived.
FIL. It is no use denying it.
ER. May Heaven smite me, if any dispute....
FIL. Do you think I believe you?
ER. Good Heaven, I tell you without concealment that....
FIL. Do not think me such a dupe and simpleton.
ER. Will you oblige me?
ER. Leave me, I pray.
FIL. Nothing of the sort, Marquis.
ER. An assignation to-night at a certain place....
FIL. I do not quit you. Wherever it be, I mean to follow you.
ER. On my soul, since you mean me to have a quarrel, I agree to it, to
satisfy your zeal. I shall be with you, who put me in a rage, and of
whom I cannot get rid by fair means.
FIL. That is a sorry way of receiving the service of a friend. But as I
do you so ill an office, farewell. Finish what you have on hand without
ER. You will be my friend when you leave me. (_Alone_). But see
what misfortunes happen to me! They will have made me miss the hour
SCENE V.--DAMIS, L'ÉPINE, ÉRASTE, LA RIVIÈRE, _and his Companions_.
DAM. (_Aside_). What! the rascal hopes to obtain her in spite of
me! Ah! my just wrath shall know how to prevent him!
ER. (_Aside_). I see some one there at Orphise's door. What! must
there always be some obstacle to the passion she sanctions!
DAM. (_To L'Epine_). Yes, I have discovered that my niece, in spite
of my care, is to receive Éraste in her room to-night, alone.
LA R. (_To his companions_). What do I hear those people saying of
our master? Let us approach safely, without betraying ourselves.
DAM. (_To L'Epine_). But before he has a chance of accomplishing
his design, we must pierce his treacherous heart with a thousand blows.
Go and fetch those whom I mentioned just now, and place them in ambush
where I told you, so that at the name of Éraste they may be ready to
avenge my honour, which his passion has the presumption to outrage; to
break off the assignation which brings him here, and quench his guilty
flame in his blood.
LA R. (_Attacking Damis with his companions_). Before your fury can
destroy him, wretch! you shall have to deal with us!
ER. Though he would have killed me, honour urges me here to rescue the
uncle of my mistress. (_To Damis_). I am on your side, Sir. (_He
draws his sword and attacks La Rivière and his companions, whom he puts
DAM. Heavens! By whose aid do I find myself saved from a certain death?
To whom am I indebted for so rare a service?
ER. (_Returning_). In serving you, I have done but an act of
DAM. Heavens. Can I believe my ears! Is this the hand of Éraste?
ER. Yes, yes, Sir, it is I. Too happy that my hand has rescued you: too
unhappy in having deserved your hatred.
DAM. What! Éraste, whom I was resolved to have assassinated has just
used his sword to defend me! Oh, this is too much; my heart is compelled
to yield; whatever your love may have meditated to-night, this
remarkable display of generosity ought to stifle all animosity. I blush
for my crime, and blame my prejudice. My hatred has too long done you
injustice! To show you openly I no longer entertain it, I unite you this
very night to your love.
SCENE VI.--ORPHISE, DAMIS, ÉRASTE.
ORPH. (_Entering with a silver candlestick in her hand_). Sir, what
has happened that such a terrible disturbance....
DAM. Niece, nothing but what is very agreeable, since, after having
blamed, for a long time, your love for Éraste, I now give him to you for
a husband. His arm has warded off the deadly thrust aimed at me; I
desire that your hand reward him.
ORPH. I owe everything to you; if, therefore, it is to pay him your
debt. I consent, as he has saved your life.
ER. My heart is so overwhelmed by this great miracle, that amidst this
ecstasy, I doubt if I am awake.
DAM. Let us celebrate the happy lot that awaits you; and let our violins
put us in a joyful mood. (_As the violins strike up, there is a knock
at the door_).
ER. Who knocks so loud?
SCENE VII.--DAMIS, ORPHISE, ÉRASTE, L'ÉPINE.
L'EP. Sir, here are masks, with kits and tabors.
(_The masks enter, filling the stage_).
ER. What! Bores for ever? Hulloa, guards, here. Turn out these rascals
BALLET TO ACT III.
Swiss guards, with halberds, drive out all the troublesome masks, and
then retire to make room for a dance of
[Footnote: The origin of the introduction of the Swiss Guards
(mercenaries) in the service of the French and other foreign powers may
be ascribed to the fact that Switzerland itself, being too poor to
maintain soldiers in time of peace, allowed them to serve other nations
on condition of coming back immediately to their own cantons in time of
war or invasion.
It is particularly with France that Switzerland contracted treaties to
furnish certain contingents in case of need. The first of these dates
back as far as 1444 between the Dauphin, afterwards Charles VII., and
the different cantons. This Act was renewed in 1453, and the number of
soldiers to be furnished was fixed once for all, the minimum being
6,000, and the maximum 16,000. The Helvetians, who until 1515 had always
been faithful to their engagements, turned traitors in that year against
Francis I., who defeated them at Marignan. But the good feeling was soon
afterwards re-established, and a new treaty, almost similar to the
former, restored the harmony between the two nations.
Another document is extant, signed at Baden in 1553, by which the
cantons bind themselves to furnish Henry II. with as many troops as he
may want. It is particularly remarkable, inasmuch as it served as a
basis for all subsequent ones until 1671. These conventions have not
always been faithfully carried out, for the Swiss contracted engagements
with other nations, notably with Spain, Naples, and Sardinia, and even
with Portugal. At the commencement of the campaign of 1697, Louis XIV.
had, notwithstanding all this, as many as 32,000 Swiss in his service,
the highest number ever attained. The regulations for the foreign
colonels and captains in their relations among themselves, and with the
French Government, were not unlike those in force at present for the
native soldiery in our Indian possessions. Towards the end of Louis
XIV.'s reign the number decreased to 14,400, officers included; it rose
in 1773 to 19,836, and during the wars of 1742-48. to 21,300. The ebb
and flow of their numbers continued from that time until the Revolution
of 1830, when they were finally abolished.
They received a much higher pay than the national troops, and had
besides this many other advantages, one of them being that the officers
had in the army the next grade higher than that which they occupied in
their own regiments; for instance, the colonel of a Swiss regiment had
the rank of a major-general, and retired on the pay of a
lieutenant-general, &c. They enjoyed the same privileges, with some
slight modifications, wherever they served elsewhere.]
Four shepherds and a shepherdess, who, in the opinion of all who saw it,
concluded the entertainment with much grace.