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The Shopkeeper Turned Gentleman   By: (1622-1673)

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THE SHOPKEEPER TURNED GENTLEMAN. (LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME.)

BY

MOLIÈRE,

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.

WITH SHORT INTRODUCTIONS AND EXPLANATORY NOTES .

BY

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.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

MR. JOURDAIN.

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.

ASSISTANT TAILORS.

TWO LACKEYS.

MRS. JOURDAIN.

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.

ACT I.

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?

PUP. Yes.

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... Continue reading book >>




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