E-text prepared by Delphine Lettau
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TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.
WITH A SHORT INTRODUCTION AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.
CHARLES HERON WALL
This play was acted for the first time on September 9, 1668. In it, Molière has borrowed from Plautus, and has imitated several other authors, but he far surpasses them in the treatment of his subject. The picture of the miser, in whom love of money takes the place of all natural affections, who not only withdraws from family intercourse, but considers his children as natural enemies, is finely drawn, and renders Molière’s Miser altogether more dramatic and moral than those of his predecessors.
Molière acted the part of Harpagon.
Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Marianne.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, and lover to Élise.
Anselme, father to Valère and Marianne.
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Marianne, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.
The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.
SCENE I.——VALÈRE, ÉLISE.
Val. What, dear Élise! you grow sad after having given me such dear tokens of your love; and I see you sigh in the midst of my joy! Can you regret having made me happy? and do you repent of the engagement which my love has forced from you?
Eli. No, Valère, I do not regret what I do for you; I feel carried on by too delightful a power, and I do not even wish that things should be otherwise than they are. Yet, to tell you the truth, I am very anxious about the consequences; and I greatly fear that I love you more than I should.
Val. What can you possibly fear from the affection you have shown me?
Eli. Everything; the anger of my father, the reproaches of my family, the censure of the world, and, above all, Valère, a change in your heart! I fear that cruel coldness with which your sex so often repays the too warm proofs of an innocent love.
Val. Alas! do not wrong me thus; do not judge of me by others. Think me capable of everything, Élise, except of falling short of what I owe to you. I love you too much for that; and my love will be as lasting as my life!
Eli. Ah! Valère, all men say the same thing; all men are alike in their words; their actions only show the difference that exists between them.
Val. Then why not wait for actions, if by them alone you can judge of the truthfulness of my heart? Do not suffer your anxious fears to mislead you, and to wrong me. Do not let an unjust suspicion destroy the happiness which is to me dearer than life; but give me time to show you by a thousand proofs the sincerity of my affection.
Eli. Alas! how easily do we allow ourselves to be persuaded by those we love. I believe you, Valère; I feel sure that your heart is utterly incapable of deceiving me, that your love is sincere, and that you will ever remain faithful to me. I will no longer doubt that happiness is near. If I grieve, it will only be over the difficulties of our position, and the possible censures of the world.
Val. But why even this fear?