Produced by Charles Franks, Delphine Lettau and the people at DP.
THE SHOPKEEPER TURNED GENTLEMAN. (LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME.)
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.
WITH SHORT INTRODUCTIONS AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.
CHARLES HERON WALL.
‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’ was acted before the King for the first
time at Chambord, on October 14, 1670, and on November 28 at the
Palais Royal. After the second representation, Louis XIV. said to
Molière, “You have never written anything which amused me more, and
your play is excellent.” But it obtained a still greater success in
Paris, where the bourgeois willingly and good-humouredly
laughed at what they deemed their neighbours’ weaknesses. The three
first acts are the best; Louis XIV. hurried Molière so with the last
that they degenerated into burlesque.
Molière acted the part of the Bourgeois.
CLÉONTE, in love with LUCILE.
DORANTE, a count, in love with DORIMÈNE.
COVIELLE, servant to CLÉONTE.
A MUSIC MASTER, ETC.
A DANCING MASTER, ETC.
A FENCING MASTER.
A PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY.
A MASTER TAILOR.
LUCILE, daughter to MR. JOURDAIN.
DORIMÈNE, a marchioness.
NICOLE, maid-servant to MR. JOURDAIN.
The scene is in PARIS, in MR. JOURDAIN’S house.
THE SHOPKEEPER TURNED GENTLEMAN.
The overture is played by a great many instruments; and in the
middle of the stage the PUPIL of the MUSIC MASTER is seated at a table
composing a serenade which MR. JOURDAIN has asked for.
SCENE I.—MUSIC MASTER, DANCING MASTER, THREE SINGERS, TWO VIOLIN
PLAYERS, FOUR DANCERS.
MUS. MAS. (to the MUSICIANS). Come into this room, and rest
till he comes.
DAN. MAS. (to the DANCERS). Come also, on this side.
MUS. MAS. (to his PUPIL). Have you finished?
MUS. MAS. Let me see. Very good.
DAN. MAS. Is it anything new?
MUS. MAS. Yes; it is an air for a serenade that I made him compose
while we are waiting for our gentleman to wake up.
DAN. MAS. Will you allow me to see what it is?
MUS. MAS. You shall hear it, as well as the dialogue, when he comes;
he won’t be long.
DAN. MAS. We both have plenty to do now; have we not?
MUS. MAS. Indeed we have. We have found the very man we both wanted.
He brings us in a comfortable little income, with his notions of
gentility and gallantry which he has taken into his head; and it would
be well for your dancing and my music if everybody were like him.
DAN. MAS. No; not altogether. I wish, for his sake, that he would
appreciate better than he does the things we give him.
MUS. MAS. He certainly understands them but little; but he pays well,
and that is nowadays what our arts require above all things.
DAN. MAS. I must confess, for my part, that I rather hunger after
glory. Applause finds a very ready answer in my heart, and I think it
mortifying enough that in the fine arts we should have to exhibit
ourselves before fools, and submit our compositions to the vulgar
taste of an ass. No! say what you will, there is a real pleasure in
working for people who are able to appreciate the refinements of an
art; who know how to yield a kind recognition to the beauties of a
work, and who, by felicitous approbations, reward you for your labour.
Yes! the most charming recompense one can receive for the things which
one does is to see them understood, and to have them received with the
applause that honours. Nothing, in my opinion, can repay us better
than this for all our fatigues; and the praises of the enlightened are
a true delight to me.
MUS. MAS. I grant it; and I relish them as much as you do. There is
certainly nothing more refreshing than the applause you speak of;
still we cannot live on this flattering acknowledgment of our talent.
Undiluted praise does not give competence to a man; we must have
something more solid to fall back upon, and the best praise is the
praise of the pocket. Our man, it is true, is a man of very limited
capacity, who speaks at random upon all things, and only gives
applause in the wrong place; but his money makes up for the errors of
his judgment. He keeps his discernment in his purse, and his praises
are golden. This ignorant, commonplace citizen is, as you see, better
to us than that clever nobleman who introduced us here.
DAN. MAS. There is some truth in what you say; still I think that you
set a little too much value on money, and that it is in itself
something so base that he who respects himself should never make a
display of his love for it.
MUS. MAS. Yet you receive readily enough the money our man gives you.
DAN. MAS. Certainly; but my whole happiness does not depend upon it;
and I can still wish that with all his wealth he had good taste.
MUS. MAS. I wish it as much as you do; and we are both working as hard